Monthly Archives: February 2023

Upgrade

A video of the campus of Asbury U, and the lawn in front of Hughes auditorium this morning shows the absence of people. The videos from last night showed thousands of people waiting to enter the auditorium. Today no one except the cameraman. The emptiness struck me as forlorn. My wife asked, “Do you suppose Holy Spirit feels lonely for the people who were worshipping?”

The “Asbury Revival” is not ending, it is being released. Just like the 24/7 event of the 1970s, this visitation will continue to scatter to other campuses. We have friends with connection to Lee, Cedarville and other colleges and universities which are also exhibiting student hunger and thirst for the presence of God. This longing for God’s presence has reached Texas A & M.

I’m in a dilemma.

During the last week of 2022, I began reading about and viewing accounts of national and world-wide “moves of God.” I’ve been a revival-evangelistic-crusade-junky most of my life. I have read the books by Finney on revival. My daily time in my office is interrupted multiple times by my wife saying, “You’ll want to see this!” She is calling me to view a video of the Asbury or Lee revival. Given my study habits of the past two months, I’m wondering what that was about. Was Holy Spirit preparing me for something? If so, what? One thing is apparent. I am not to be a bleacher-bound spectator.

Is this a real revival?

“A revival is when God chooses to visit His children,” Max Lucado.

“This is that!” (Acts 2) I keep in mind the difference between a revival and reformation; an evangelistic event compared to a revival meeting. One of the complaints about this Kentucky event is that the Gospel is not being preached. The Asbury-2023 is an awakening, not an evangelistic crusade. It is a renewal or revival or awakening. Honoring the sovereignty of God, this is a visitation. Where the Presence is, there will be deliverance, miracles, signs and wonders, as people respond. What the central emphasis will be depends on the context.

I’m amused by the questioners who say this is just an emotional thing. Compared to what? If they compare it to the Cane Ridge Revival which broke through a few miles from Wilmore—2023 looks mighty quiet and tame. An Asbury Seminary prof says he grew up on Nazarene camp meetings and what he witnessed in Hughes Auditorium “has none of that going on.”

Is this a real revival? To varying degrees, it certainly is real to those at Hughes. It is real to some news people in studios miles away. It is real to me. As one historian says, “the spirit in that gathering is contagious.” When I saw the thousands on the front lawn of Hughes auditorium not able to get inside, but worshiping and singing, the “contagion” reached me.

The question, “Is this a real revival?” probably is better worded by, “Is this reformation?” Meaning: will the culture be reformed? It is too early to give a definitive answer. If this revival meeting is only for a couple thousand students getting an upgrade of their relationship with God, and an upgrade of their life purpose, calling, assignments and realigning their commitments, habits and souls with their Heavenly Father’s holiness—it will be legitimate.

First, upgrade, and then response to impacting culture. “First I get me straight with Jesus; Tomorrow the world!” Isaiah 6 is demonstrative of that. “Here I am, Lord, send me.” The altar experiences must be lived out in obedience.

Holiness unto the Lord.”

“The founder of the Methodist movement, John Wesley, said there are two types of holiness, personal holiness, which is growing your personal relationship with God, and social holiness, which is showing love to others through caring for their physical needs.”

Watching the events of this visitation has occupied most of our last two weeks. Carole’s question about Holy Spirit’s loneliness is spot-on when you think of His description as friend and companion. Holy Spirit is not of the Tribe of Spock! Then Carole said, “I know I am lonely for Asbury.”

We anticipate God’s visitation to continue in revival and reformation. Count me in! Today is Ash Wednesday which for some could be a natural next step. This weekend the movie “Revolution” opens in theatres across the nation. It is about the Jesus People movement which began about the same time of Asbury, 1970.

Love Song was one of the music groups that birthed CCM.  The lead singer Chuck Girard is an important part of that story. His daughter commented on her podcast about the current awakening: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMepqpxkwU4

Link to Love Song music:

©2023 D. Dean Benton—Meanderer, Ponderer, Wonderer

Revival?

A fourth building has been opened to accommodate the overflow at Asbury University. The “Asbury Revival,” as it is called begins its second week of non-stop 24/7 worship, prayer, praise. News networks and social media are broadcasting updates. Our Wilmore friend, who lives just a few blocks from Hughes Auditorium, sends us personal notes and videos with all the power and dynamics of reports from the front.

I’ve been wondering how a person without a reference point of a “revival” or “awakening” responds to what is happening at Asbury, Cedarville, Lee College and other colleges and Universities.

Descriptive words and phrases wouldn’t be much help. “The move of God,” has dynamic meaning for “insiders.” The Asbury event is looking more and more like a “move of God.” That phrase indicates a genuine recognition and personal renewal is touching several, many or community-wide awareness and participation in repentance, confession, prayers, intercessions, testimonies and declaration. I think this is a Move of God because it is an organic, totally unplanned, with no one in charge, but a group of students dedicated to humility, openness, Sovereignty of God, focus on Jesus the Christ and leadership of Holy Spirit.

Awakenings of individuals or crowds is surrounded by the acute awareness and response to “The Presence of God.” A seminary professor identified how he experienced the presence. He had been in the Asbury Hughes auditorium and atmosphere about ten-seconds when he says he became aware how relaxed he was.

The Toronto Blessing that began in 1994, was visited by contagious laughter. I sense the Asbury Revival 2023 will be known as the revival/renewal/awakening where peace and relaxation and stress-healings were experienced.

Revivals/ Renewals/ Awakenings are Kingdom events.

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of (rules), but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, (Romans 14:17).

If you have no reference point, we listened to/ viewed a fine podcast-conversation between a Presbyterian pastor in Lexington, Ky., and a podcaster in Great Britain. I’ve watched a dozen news shots from local and national networks, including Tucker Carlson with observations and videos. The link I enclose is the best observation about what is happening and the concerns that I’ve seen.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIxOD9AANvM

We are touched by our distant observance and praying.

(c)2023 D. Dean Benton

Constant Companion

And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another [paraclete:]  Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), to be with you forever—(John 14:16-Amplified Bible).

In early January, a college student announced he was taking a leave of absence to get his severe affliction with anxiety under control. He is a student athlete. His father is the basketball coach, and the young man was the team’s third highest scorer. The leave of absence has been for six games, thus far.

I have not known if my concern for him was a God-given burden or an obsession. I knew I was to pray for him and to ask God to send someone who would have his confidence and be an agent of healing and spiritual companionship—probably a 6’-8”  basketball player.

During these past weeks I’ve been re-reading  Revolution, The Early Church-First Seventeen Years, by Gene Edwards.(Seedsowers, 1974). The author retells the story of “church life” beginning at the Day of Pentecost. (Used copies available at Amazon.) Edwards tells about “church life” that few of us have experienced, but we want it to be. At least part of it!

Jesus said,

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

If we were to select Acts 1:8 as the only definition of Holy Spirit’s work assignment or skill set, evangelism would be our only anointed task as a Jesus Follower. The felt needs of people in Jerusalem versus those in Samaria differ greatly. To be able to get the attention of unbelievers in Corinth and Antioch would be in another range. The Paraclete is multi-faceted. Listen to what Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 3:16ff:

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being. …may have power—that you may be filled to the measure of the fullness of God.”

That Holy Spirit power is not just about evangelizing, but every detail of your life—healing, saving, nurturing, growing, informing and filling. And Holy Spirit equips us to meaningfully minister to the diverse people of biblical-day Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, Egypt and Ethiopia. Moving into Century 21, Holy Spirit empowers us to be about the Good News among nations: ethnos, generations, preferences and races.

I know a 6’8” former college basketball player who may be the conduit I’m praying for. The student-athlete needs more than the salvation rhetoric—more than words. He needs a power confrontation and then capability to manage and be victorious with the nagging, scary emotions.

When he began his leave of absence, he decided to live it out with his team mates—on the practice floor, in the weight room and on the bench. They would be part of the healing team (I don’t know that he used that term). We need companions.

When Jesus said he had a promise for his team, he chose the word “Paraclete” which, as you know, is translated Helper, Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby. Jesus reassured, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18).

I will not leave you comfortless.” The word “comfortless” is taken from the Greek word orphanos from which we get orphan.

There is a phrase commonly used to describe discipling and nurturing a new convert to Christ: “Walk beside and pour into.” We can’t call that in from the bleachers. Such dedicated participation demands companionship. To help, comfort, advocate, intercede, counsel, strength and standby requires that we know someone and their dreams, as well as their barriers and sin-tendency so we know what needs to be “poured in” and what requires our companionship to walk with them—like a special, intimate, trusted friend. That is no less true for work of Holy Spirit. “I am not going to abandon you. Ever!”

The big white dog on the cover of my ebook, Meanderings, comes to visit us and sometimes spends a few days. Kona adores Carole and likes me. She’s been with us for a few days. The other evening she came rushing into the living room in panic mode. She was frantic. She may have separation anxiety. It was obvious to me she was having a panic attack or anxiety. I put my arms around her and talked to her—she settled a bit. I got a pillow and laid beside her and caressed her. Every time I quit petting her she nuzzled me. If I moved, her big paw would grip my arm and pull me closer—back into action—”touch me.” I got up after half-hour and sat in a chair. Kona got up and moved to be next to me.

No matter what kind of “animal” you are, there is within you a desire to be close to someone when you hurt. The promise is you receive when you are appropriately touched. Where there is life, there is a hunger for touch. It is true that a human may not be the preferred hugger for a bear or silver-backed gorilla. I saw a man call an elephant’s name. He had rescued her when she was very young. Hearing his voice, the elephant ran to her human friend and took her herd along. They touched him and asked to be touched. Where there is life, there is a hunger for touch.

The Holy Spirit is not human or made of flesh, so how do we receive His touch? How does He touch us? The Holy Spirit is spirit. The Spirit touches and talks to our spirit. I wonder if that can be explained. We do know when the Holy One touches us.  Our constant companion. We may not be able to explain how He works—touches, speaks, convicts, convinces, heals. We don’t need to explain it with graph paper and architect’s pens. Our responsibility is to make our souls a welcoming place.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RafmW0jtmVg

©2023 D. Dean Benton