You might have heard that there is something going on at Asbury University in Kentucky. And that something has spread to other places, too.
People have described it as an awakening, a revival, and a movement of the Holy Spirit.
Like with most things today, there are also critics, pundits, and loud opinions mixed into the narrative.
Whatever you might think about the Kentucky events, we know at least three things for sure.
1. Jesus’ Spirit there… and here!
Jesus promises to show up whenever God’s Word is present. Much like any other time when people read the scriptures and respond, the chapel service which led into the ongoing event was just that - an invitation to respond to Jesus’ invitation to repentance.
The question is - so why is that event considered different - a revival or awakening, and other times seem so “ordinary”.
My personal opinion is that we’re trying to explain a spiritual (dare I say, miraculous or supernatural) experience in human ways… and our human way is limited, finite, and can only explain what we see - not what we can't see.
So, we see an event, a mass of people, and activity - but can we see the broken spirits and contrite hearts of people who are responding? Maybe… perhaps… and only if they share it (which many have!).
Here is what I do know. I know that God sometimes shows up and moves people to respond in masses (think Billy Graham). Other times, people respond loudly with singing and dancing (think David in the Bible dancing naked in the temple). And then there are individuals who respond as they sit in their cars with silent tears (or no tears at all).
My point is, how people respond isn’t the point. Psalm 51:17 emphasizes what matters is a broken spirit and a broken and contrite heart. And that’s what we hear from people at Asbury and what we don’t always see when we, ourselves read and respond to God’s Word.
In a way, everytime we (or anybody) reads God’s Word and responds is a revival or awakening.
That’s how I know that Jesus’ Spirit is both there and here.
2. There is so much that we don’t know.
I do wonder why it seems like sometimes we see God work in big ways and other times we don’t see God work at all. I know that’s a very self-centered question resulting from an American cultural worldview. But, I think it’s an honest question.
I (personally) return to resting in the truth that there is so much I don’t know.
I’m reminded of Psalm 55:8-9 when God responds to the psalm writer, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,". Then, God explains why by saying, "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
I find it interesting that it seems as though everyone feels like they are entitled to an opinion about the Asbury events.
For me, the Asbury Revival reminds me that there is so much we don’t know… and that’s OK because we know the God who does.
3. You and I can experience revival.
Revival isn’t fabricated or manufactured. It’s not manipulated responses or a forced emotional response.
Revival is an awakening to who Jesus is, who we are, and a turning away from ourselves and toward Jesus.
Our thoughts can be awakened as we turn our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:1).
Our feelings can be revived from not feeling anything to feeling something - sadness over our sin or the relief and “lightness” of the forgiveness we have in Jesus.
Our lives can be moved by the Holy Spirit when we stop, reorient ourselves to God’s way - not our own, and take our next steps with Jesus.
This is the revival or awakening that is happening in hearts and lives everyday.
Afterall, the true fruit of revival is the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23) seen in everyday life.
What do you think? Shoot me an email or let’s find a time to catch up.
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Meet Pastor Tim
Tim Bayer has served as Our Savior's Lead Pastor since September 2019. He also serves as an Adjunct Instructor at Concordia University - Irvine, a National Leadership Facilitator and Resource, and a Community Mental Health First Aid Instructor. Tim studied sociology, psychology, and theology prior to earning his M.Div at Concordia Seminary - St. Louis. He has also is a candidate for an Ed.D (ABD) in Transformational Leadership. He is married to Beth and they have three young children. Together, they enjoy exploring the outdoors, experiencing culture, and pizza and movie nights.