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Are you faking it?
Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

READY:
“Jesus looked him hard in the eye—and loved him! He said, ‘There’s one thing left: Go sell whatever you own and give it to the poor. All your wealth will then be heavenly wealth. And come follow me.’ The man’s face clouded over. This was the last thing he expected to hear, and he walked off with a heavy heart. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and not about to let go.”
Mark 10:21-22 (The Message)

SET:
Every day it sits on my desk as a powerful reminder. It tugs on my soul with a convicting message that seems to say, “Be careful. Do not let your life be like this.” The object is a gorgeous leather Bible with all the extras, including gold tipped pages. It’s real nice. But the reason I don’t want my life to be like this Bible is that when you crack open the pages, you discover that the pages are blank. Yup—not a single word or letter. It appears to be the Bible of all Bibles on the outside, but it contains nothing of God’s message on the inside. The fake Bible had actually been a sample sent to me by a publisher so that we could get an idea of a cover we wanted for a future FCA Bible. The sample just needed blank pages to fill the inside.

Now this blank Bible sits on my desk as a constant warning. It motivates me every day to be real and authentic—to not fake it, and to make sure that nothing gets in the way of my following Christ.

I have a question for you: Are you faking it? Do you appear one way on the outside and a different way on the inside? Truthfully there are gaps in all of our souls. We might be like that Bible more than we think. It can be a daily battle. On the surface, we may look a certain way, but in our hearts feel totally different. “I’m just glad they don’t know what I am really thinking or feeling on the inside,” we might think. “Thank goodness the outside can cover up the inside.”

Sometimes this even leaks into our sports competition. We want others to think we are better athletes than we are. We get pulled into the trap of posing—looking good and impressing others. When we compete, we slip into performing for others instead of glorifying God. As athletes and coaches, we can be the worst posers. We become experts of covering up our true selves because we think people won’t like who we really are. We actually believe the fake version of us is what people want. We think that faking it covers the hurts, fears, wounds and gaps. The bad stuff gets conveniently tucked away.

God has a way of slicing through all of that. Everything changes when God’s touch cuts through the surface and pierces the heart. His touch grips our souls and exposes our gaps. You can’t play it safe when it comes to following Christ. Nowhere in Scripture does Jesus encourage us to surrender our lives to Him so that life will get easier. The Lord’s call always touches the very thing we don’t want to give up. He finds the one thing that hurts the most. In Mark 10:17-22, Jesus basically says, “Hey rich man, give up your wealth and follow Me.” The rich man went away sad, because Jesus pinpointed the very thing that the man wanted to hold back. The issue wasn’t that he was rich, but that his wealth got in the way of his following Christ.

We all have something that gets in the way of our loving Jesus the way we should. His touch pierces our heart because He knows the very thing that prevents us from following hard after Him. The real question is not whether we have something that holds us back, but what are we doing about it. We need to examine the thing that gets in the way from being all-in.

In your own life, what is the thing that is constantly holding you back from experiencing Christ’s power? Identify it. God’s touch can heal it. What would it look like for God to reach in and heal that one thing in your life? How different would your life be? No more faking. No more posing. No more covering up. Let Him set you free today.

GO:
1. For the rich man it was wealth that got in the way of following God. What gets in your way of following Jesus?
2. How do you pose? Why do we pretend to be one thing on the outside and different on the inside?
3. What is God revealing to you about the one thing He wants to touch and change? Would you let Him heal you today?

WORKOUT:
Mark 10:17-22
2 Corinthians 5:17

OVERTIME:
“Father, thank You for Your faithfulness in helping me to change. I confess that there are gaps in my life. It has become too natural for me to live a fake life. I want to be the real deal. Show me the gaps. Expose them. Forgive me for letting anything getting between You and me. I ask for Your touch today. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dan Britton serves as FCA’s Senior Vice President of Ministry Advancement at the World Headquarters in Kansas City. He and his wife Dawn reside in Overland Park, Kan., with their three children: Kallie, Abby and Elijah. As a former professional lacrosse player, he still loves playing and coaching lacrosse and running marathons. You can e-mail Dan at dan@fca.org.

Has God put a lesson on your heart? Share it with others! Submit your own Impact Play devotion online at fca.org.

For more information about FCA please visit FCA.org.

Here is part 2 of Michael Haykin’s article on Jonathan Edwards perspective on revival. It is Edward’s life story. Notice that the attributes of discipline and holiness are part of his life. Have a great day. Bryan
‘The dungeon flamed with light’
Evangelical revival of the 18th Century
by Michael A. G. Haykin
Jonathan Edwards (2)

Jonathan Edwards was born exactly 300 years ago on 5 October 1703 at East Windsor, Connecticut, a town then far from the centres of power and influence in the transatlantic Anglophone world.

His father, Timothy Edwards (d.1758), was pastor of the town’s Congregational Church for more than 63 years. His mother, Esther, was the daughter of Solomon Stoddard (1643-1729), the powerful pastor of the Congregational Church in Northampton, Massachusetts, from 1669 till his death.

Edwards received his elementary education from his father — an education that included beginning Latin at seven. He also received a thorough nurture in Puritan piety.

Childhood spirituality

In Edwards’ Personal Narrative he notes of this time in his life: ‘I had a variety of concerns and exercises about my soul from my childhood; but had two more remarkable seasons of awakening… The first time was when I was a boy, some years before I went to college, at a time of a remarkable awakening in my father’s congregation…

‘I used to pray five times a day in secret, and to spend much time in religious talk with other boys; and used to meet with them to pray together … I, with some of my schoolmates joined together, and built a booth in a swamp, in a very retired spot, for a place of prayer.

My affections seemed to be lively and easily moved, and I seemed to be in my element, when engaged in religious duties.’

But this childhood spirituality, although a prognostication of his future interests, soon disappeared. In his own words, he ‘returned like a dog to his vomit, and went on in ways of sin’.

No inner peace

Meanwhile, in 1716, Edwards entered the Collegiate School of Connecticut in New Haven (later to become Yale University). Although he went on to graduate from the Collegiate School in 1720 at the head of his class academically, Edwards had neither inner peace nor saving faith.

Writing later of his life at this time, he said that it was characterised ‘by great and violent inward struggles’ regarding wicked inclinations and objections against God’s sovereignty in salvation.

Conversion

It was probably in the spring of 1721 that Edwards was converted. He later said that as he was reading 1 Timothy 1:17, ‘there came into my soul, and was as it were diffused through it, a sense of the glory of the Divine Being; a new sense, quite different from any thing I ever experienced before.

Never any words of Scripture seemed to me as these words did. I thought with myself, how excellent a Being that was; and how happy I should be, if I might enjoy that God, and be rapt up to him in Heaven, and be as it were swallowed up in him for ever…

‘From about that time, I began to have a new kind of apprehension and ideas of Christ, and the work of redemption, and the glorious way of salvation by him. An inward, sweet sense of these things, at times, came into my heart; and my soul was led away in pleasant views and contemplations of them.

And my mind was greatly engaged to spend my time in reading and meditating on Christ, on the beauty and excellency of his person, and the lovely way of salvation, by free grace in him.’

Scripture central

It is vital, first of all, to note that Scripture was central in Edwards’ conversion. Not surprisingly, he would later maintain that Scripture needs to be central in all preaching, for the Scriptures ‘are the light by which ministers must be enlightened, and the light they are to hold forth to their hearers; and they are the fire whence their hearts and the hearts of their hearers must be enkindled’.

In the above account of his conversion, Edwards also highlights the ‘inward, sweet sense’ that gripped his soul as he meditated upon what Scripture says about God and Christ, and on their utterly free and sovereign grace in salvation.

Such biblical meditation would become central to his piety. Samuel Hopkins (1721-1803), one of his close friends and his first biographer, noted that Edwards was, ‘as far as it can be known, much on his knees in secret, and in devout reading of God’s word and meditation upon it’.

Resolutions

Not long after his conversion Edwards drew up what are known as the Resolutions (1722-1723) in which, at the outset of his Christian life, he committed himself to keeping a list of 70 guidelines to help him stay passionate in his pursuit of God and his glory.

Hopkins commented that these resolutions ‘may justly be considered as the foundation and plan of his whole life’.

Though young when he wrote them, they bespeak a mature understanding of genuine piety — and the way such piety should be evident in all of life, and pursued with ardour and zeal.

In Resolution 26, for example, he ‘resolved, to cast away such things as I find do abate my assurance [of salvation]’. Resolution 40, written on 7 January 1723, subjected his eating and drinking habits to scrutiny: ‘Resolved, to inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and drinking’.

The final resolution, the seventieth, recognises the importance of being circumspect in all of his speech: ‘Let there be something of benevolence in all that I speak’.

And in Resolution 56, Edwards admits to times of spiritual failure but was resolved ‘never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be’.

The Scriptures

One resolution deals especially with God’s Word. Resolution 28 stated what he hoped would be a life-long characteristic of the way he approached Scripture: ‘Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly, and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive, myself to grow in the knowledge of the same’.

The adverbs Edwards uses here — ‘steadily, constantly, and frequently’ — surely indicate his desire to steep his mind in Scripture.

What Edwards appears to be encouraging here is nothing less than saturating the heart and mind with scriptural truth and the meta-narrative of the Bible, something accomplished by the practice of biblical meditation.

This can be readily seen from a second statement, in which he describes his encounter with Scripture after his conversion. This text also makes it abundantly clear that he is not merely thinking of academic Bible study in Resolution 28.

‘I had then, and at other times, the greatest delight in the holy Scriptures, of any book whatsoever. Oftentimes in reading it, every word seemed to touch my heart. I felt an harmony between something in my heart, and those sweet and powerful words. I seemed often to see so much light, exhibited by every sentence, and such a refreshing ravishing food communicated, that I could not get along in reading.

‘Used oftentimes to dwell long on one sentence, to see the wonders contained it; and yet almost every sentence seemed to be full of wonders.’

Pattern

This pattern of meditation on God’s holy Word, one that was part of Edwards’ Puritan heritage, appears to have been central to his walk with God in the latter years of his life as well.
Samuel Hopkins noted that Edwards ‘had an uncommon thirst for knowledge, in the pursuit of which, he spared no cost nor pains’. He thus ‘read all the books, especially books of divinity’, that he could get hold of.

But, Hopkins emphasised, ‘he studied the Bible more than all other books, and more than most other divines do. His uncommon acquaintance with the Bible appears in his sermons, and in most of his publications; and his great pains in studying it are manifest in his manuscript notes upon it’.

Pastor and theologian, Jonathan Edwards not only wrote about revival, but he experienced authentic revival in his lifetime. I want to share a series by Michael Haykin about Edward’s perspective on the subject. The entire series can be found at www.monergism.com. As we enter the year 2007, may we all be in awe of God’s glory and beauty…
‘The dungeon flamed with light’

Evangelical revivals of the 18th Century
Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) Part 1
by Michael Haykin

 

The writings of the New England divine Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) are of special importance when it comes to the subject of the Holy Spirit’s work in personal renewal and corporate revival.

 

This is because — as Martyn Lloyd-Jones once said — Edwards is ‘pre-eminently the theologian of revival’. His writings on the subject possess ongoing value, because, first of all, they are rooted in a personal and intimate acquaintance with revival.

 

Mapping revival

The earliest letter we possess from his hand, written to his elder sister Mary when he was but twelve years of age, tells of a revival in his hometown of East Windsor, Connecticut. It occurred under the preaching of his father, Timothy Edwards (1669-1758).

 

He describes it as ‘a very remarkable stirring and pouring out of the Spirit of God’. While the revival was in progress, it was common on Mondays (after the Word had been preached the day before) for ‘above thirty persons to speak with father about the condition of their souls’.

 

More significantly, the revival that profoundly affected the Connecticut Valley during the winter of 1734-1735 began in Jonathan Edwards’ own church in Northampton, Massachusetts.
He subsequently described and analysed this work in his book A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God in the Conversion of Many Hundred Souls in Northampton, and the Neighbouring Towns and Villages of New [sic] Hampshire in New-England (1737).
Over a hundred years later this powerful book was still being consulted as a handbook on the nature of revival.

 

The Great Awakening

 

Five years after this regional revival, there occurred what is known as the Great Awakening — the revival that swept the entirety of the American colonies from 1740 to 1742.

 

Although the English itinerant evangelist George Whitefield (1714-1770) was the main human instrument in this revival, Edwards also played a very prominent role, travelling and preaching extensively beyond the borders of his own parish.

 

Moreover, in print, Edwards was this revival’s most theologically astute champion as well as its most perceptive critic. This dual role with regard to the revival gave birth to some of Edwards’ finest books.

 

Some of these works are still regarded as Christian classics, of which the most notable is A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections (1746).

 

Knowing the heart

 

Edwards’ reflections on the work of the Spirit are also of immense value because he possessed a wonderful facility for meticulous and minute observation.

 

This facility can be seen in the intriguing and detailed investigation he conducted during the early 1720s into the way spiders made their webs. Later in his life, this gift — now exercised in the realm of pastoral ministry and theology — yielded a profound understanding of the human heart and its workings.

 

Sereno E. Dwight, Edwards’ great grandson and one of his early biographers, stated that his ‘knowledge of the human heart, and its operations, has scarcely been equalled by that of any uninspired preacher’.

 

Dwight goes on to mention three probable sources for this insightful understanding of the human heart — Edwards’ perceptive reading of the Scriptures; ‘his thorough acquaintance with his own heart’; and his grasp of philosophy.

 

Thus, it should not be surprising that the combination of personal experience and empirical insight — insight that is thoroughly rooted in Scripture — produced some of the most significant literature on the Spirit’s work in revival in the history of the church.

 

To quote Lloyd-Jones again: ‘If you want to know anything about the psychology of religion, conversion, revivals, read Jonathan Edwards’.

 

Pursuing God’s glory

One further reason for the classic nature of Jonathan Edwards’ corpus of work on revival is the fact that he was blessed with a heart devoted to the pursuit of the glory of God.

 

The great end of God’s works’, Edwards wrote, ‘is most properly and comprehensively called, the glory of God’.

 

According to the American writer Joseph G. Haroutunian, even ‘a superficial perusal of the essays and sermons of Edwards reveals a mind passionately devoted to God, permeated with the beauty and excellence of God’.

 

Haroutunian cites as an example a passage from the sermon ‘Ruth’s resolution’, which Edwards preached during the revival in Northampton in 1734-1735 and which was published three years later.

 

Reflecting on Ruth’s determination to cleave to her mother-in-law Naomi, and to embrace her God, the God of Israel, as her own (Ruth 1:16), Edwards stated that this God is ‘[a] glorious God. There is none like him, who is infinite in glory and excellency. He is the most high God, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders.

 

His name is excellent in all the earth, and his glory is above the heavens. Among the gods there is none like unto him; there is none in heaven to be compared to him, nor are there any among the sons of the mighty that can be likened unto him…

 

‘God is the fountain of all good, and an inexhaustible fountain; he is an all-sufficient God, able to protect and defend … and do all things … He is the king of glory, the Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle: a strong rock, and a high tower…

 

‘He is a God who hath all things in his hands, and does whatsoever he pleases: he killeth and maketh alive; he bringeth down to the grave and bringeth up; he maketh poor and maketh rich: the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s…

God is an infinitely holy God; there is none holy as the Lord. And he is infinitely good and merciful. Many that others worship and serve as gods, are cruel beings, spirits that seek the ruin of souls; but this is a God that delighteth in mercy; his grace is infinite, and endures for ever. He is love itself, an infinite fountain and ocean of it.’

 

Characteristic

As Haroutunian notes, this passage is characteristic of Edwards’ view of God — especially in its focus on God’s unique excellence and the fact that the one we ever seek to glorify and serve is ‘the Creator of the universe and the Fountain of all beauty and excellence’.

 

This God-centred perspective led Edwards to support and promote the revivals of his day, because he saw God at work in them, bringing glory to himself.

 

Written from this perspective, these works on revival have been recognised by later evangelical authors as providing something of a benchmark for reflection on the nature of spiritual awakening.

 

Contemporary Evangelicalism, largely indifferent to the glory and beauty of God, sorely needs to ponder this rich and profound corpus of literature on revival.

 

To be continued…

A.W. Tozer pointed out that holiness will result from revival…

I contend that whatever does not raise the moral standard of the church or community has not been a revival from God.

Praying for Revival

What can we expect when God sends a revival to a local church? Jonathan Edwards shares first hand knowledge…

“The assembly were in tears while the Word was preached; some weeping sorrows and distress, others with joy and love, others with concern for the souls of their neighbors.”

Let us Keep Praying for Revival!

Bryan

Robert Coleman made the following observation on the Asbury Revival

Church altars which for years had been nothing more than pieces of furniture now became hallowed places where men met God, and brother was reconciled with brother.

Praying for Revival!

How shall we pray and prepare ourselves for the coming revival? George Whitefield helps us in this regard. On his way to Georgia in 1737 he prayed:

“God, give me a deep humility, a well-guided zeal, a burning love and a single eye, and then let men or devils do their worst!” (Brian Edwards, Revival! A People Saturated With God, 57).

May all those attributes be true in me.

Here is Richard Owen Roberts definition of revival…

“Revival is an extraordinary work of the Holy Spirit producing extraordinary results……. The re-entry of Christ’s manifest presence”

One of my favorite books on the subject of revival is by Pastor Brian H. Edwards. It is called: Revival! A People Saturated With God.


The title itself is a great definition of revival. His title is based on Duncan Campbell‘s understanding of revival: “a community saturated with God” (26).

I have read this book more than once and I have marked it all up because it is both a history of revival and an encouragement to pray daily for God to revive the modern church. Edwards writes… “In revival things happen suddenly and unexpectedly. Meetings are lengthened, crowds gather, and sermons have to be preached, not because it is all arranged in advance, but because God is at work. People will arrive without warning for a meeting, moved by an unseen hand”(29).

For Jesus Alone!

Bryan

There are always great quotes on the subject of revival…

“Study the history of revival. God has always sent revival in the darkest days. Oh, for a mighty, sweeping revival today!” (Adrian Rogers Quotes About Revival).


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