Run the Race Part 3 February 28, 2016

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Philippians 3:12-21

All this talk of running and discipline and hard work, sounds like the Christian life is not that pleasant, why would we encourage others to a life of discipline and suffering.

The truth is, the Christian life is a race that has a very definite purpose, it is not aimless or a fruitless exercise, there is a definite goal and a prize that we are running for.

Paul wrote this letter to the Philippian church to encourage them and to keep them growing in their new Christian walk. Although Paul was a spiritual giant in the eyes of the Philippian saints, he wanted them to know that he had not yet attained the goal                      (Philippians 3:10-11).

He was still actively pressing on. He had by no means reached the final stage of his sanctification.

Paul’s salvation experience had taken place about 30 years before he wrote to this letter. He had won many spiritual battles in that time. He had grown much in those years, but he candidly confessed he had not obtained perfection. This testimony of the apostle reminded the saints at Philippi—and it serves to remind believers today—that there must never be a stalemate in their spiritual growth or a plateau beyond which they cannot climb. We must never settle. Are you closer to Jesus today than you were a year ago? There is no standing still as a Christian, either we are becoming more like Christ, or we are losing ground.

Then Paul says in verse 13; “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead”. This applies to us today both individually and as a church. We cannot grow in our Christian walk by looking back. The old idiom applies here; “to rest on one’s laurels”, looking back and thinking that enough has been done to secure victory. This applies to us individually, if we are still here, we are still in the race.

Then it applies to us corporately, we must never look back at the wonderful accomplishments of our church and say, look what we did back then – those were the great days – we have done enough. No, God is not done with His Church yet, He has much more in store for this church. Because this is His Church, and He has promised to build His Church, and he has promised to come back for His Church.

Paul goes on to encourage the Philippians to follow his example, and the example of others who are running the race with success (3:17). Paul had noticed that there were people in the Philippian church who were not setting a good example for the believers, and he points them out in verse 19.

Notice Paul is not referring to people outside the church, he is warning them about people inside the church, who are heading for destruction. They are only focused on temporal things, what makes me feel good now.

Their lives show no evidence of Jesus Christ being Lord.

Are you looking at temporal things, and making them more important in your life than eternal things? Remember your citizenship (3:20). If you have made Jesus Christ Lord of your life, you will know what it means to live with eyes fixed on eternity. Every decision you make in your life here in this life, affects eternity.

And then in verse 21, Paul explains why he is running the race, what is the purpose of it all. I am sure many of you are looking forward to that, a new body a supernatural body that will never experience decay or pain. That surely is a prize, surely that is a reward running after?

But that is only a part of it.

None of us have seen heaven, so to it is impossible to fully describe heaven and even if we did get a glimpse, we would find that our vocabulary was inadequate to describe it.

The Bible also tells us that the followers of Jesus will get rewards, James talks about the crown of life (James 1:12). Paul mentions the crown that will last forever (1 Corinthians 9).

But the primary joy of heaven will be far superior to all of that. We will be in the presence of God.

We were made to have communion with God, God created man in his own image to have fellowship with him. But when sin entered the world, that relationship was broken and there was a separation that took place. Inside every human being is a longing and an unfulfilled desire that can only be met by the perfect presence of God himself (see Ecclesiastes 3:11).

Looking at Revelation 3:11-12 and the letter to the church in Philadelphia, Jesus gives an encouragement to the “one who overcomes” – and keeps running the race. The greatest reward is to be a pillar in the temple of God? Sounds strange doesn’t it. We have no idea what it is like to be in the perfect presence of God. To dwell in his presence and worship Him, will be the most incredible experience of all. That is the greatest prize and that is why David could write as he did in Psalm 27:4.

We are to individually run whatever race or calling that God has set out for us. I cannot run for you, and you cannot run for me. But we are called to run that race with certainty, purpose and intensity.

Run your race to win, to be the best you can be for God where He has placed you.

Be willing to make whatever sacrifices necessary to successfully complete the mission and call God has set out for you.

You only get one run at this life, give it all you have got. Make sure you don’t miss a single opportunity to live fully for Jesus Christ.

“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 3:14


Run the Race Part 2 February 21, 2016

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Romans 8: 1-17

Using the analogy of a race, a marathon, there is so much that we can look at that applies to the Christian life.

We are called to a new life, a life that is led by the spirit, Paul says is that we need to be led by the Spirit of God, as we run the race that God has for us.

Now human nature is that we make rules, and when we disciple new believers, we inadvertently make rules for them to follow, because of the mistakes we made when we were in their position. Sometimes these guidelines can be made to look like laws. Romans 8:2 says; “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death”. When we run the race that is the Christian life, we do things differently, we are not under the law that leads to condemnation and death, but we are led by the Spirit which leads to life and peace.

Our disciplines and our training for the race are not governed by law, but they are governed by the Spirit and this brings life. Verse 11 tells us that the same Spirit of God that raised Jesus from the dead lives in you and me! Our old way of viewing time, money, family, possessions all changes, and we see things from the perspective of heaven.

And then there is the unbelievable promise in God’s word in verse 14, we are called the children of God! I know our minds cannot grasp that, we have no idea what it means to be adopted into the family of God. We are called children of the creator of the universe. And verse 17 says that as a result of our adoption as God’s children, we receive an inheritance. We have an inheritance simply because we believed that Jesus died for our sins. He did it all, we die to our old way of life and begin to live by the Spirit, and we get to receive an inheritance from God.

But as we read verse 17 a little further we read these words: “if indeed we suffer with Him…” Suffering? That is not the wonderful Christian life the Walmart book aisle speaks about? Going back to the analogy of running a marathon, if any of you have run a long race, you will know that there are periods of suffering that you go through, occasionally you will “hit the wall”, using running terminology, when your tank is empty. But you push through, others encourage you, and you reach the finish line. Immediately the suffering becomes something you joke about because it is so small in comparison to the joy of the finish line. Verse 18 sums it up; “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us..”

Suffering and discipline are a part of the Christian race, but we must not shy away from them, they are building us and growing us to be more like Christ.

Let’s look at four Christian Disciplines that will help us run the race that is set before us:

  1. Reading and meditating on God’s word

This Bible is contains your heavenly Father’s love letter to you– it is your daily bread – it is your sword of the spirit – it is the truth that gives light to your path.

It is no ordinary collection of pages and ink. It is supernatural in its authoring, it is supernatural in its reading and it is supernatural in its application (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

If you are led by the Spirit, you will need the sword of the spirit.

Do we daily discipline ourselves to read, study, meditate on the word of God?

  1. Prayer

Prayer is a discipline, it is hard work, when we don’t discipline ourselves to spend time alone with God we limp along in the Christian race, missing out on so much that God has for us. Discipline yourself to pray, it will transform your life and the race God has called you to.

  1. Tithing

Tithing is something we seldom view as a discipline, but the way we handle our finances is either worship or it is idolatry. Either God is more important than your money, or your money is more important than God in your life.

We don’t tithe because God needs our money, he already has all things. No, we tithe because it is worship. Tithing is an act of worship, because many times we look at our income and our expenses and wonder how we can afford to give 1/10 of our income to the Lords work. Well if the Bible is correct, and we know it is, how can we afford not to give to the Lord, knowing that he is our provider and that he will take care of all of our needs (see 2 Corinthians 9: 6-8). You will have all you need to do the will of God for your life.

  1. Evangelism

Evangelism is a spiritual discipline that we are all called to participate in. Evangelism that is led by the Spirit is a joy and a blessing, but we make it out to be a fearful chore.

Evangelism that is fruitful and effective is evangelism that is led by the Holy Spirit. Daily discipline ourselves to pray: “Lord bring someone into my path today who needs a touch from heaven, let me be used by you, almighty God, to bring a miracle to someone’s life” That is the discipline, being available, daily being led by the Spirit to look for the person that God wants to touch through your life story (see 2 Peter 3:15).

Notice two aspects in this verse: firstly – it starts with “revere Christ as Lord”. If Jesus Christ is truly Lord of your life, it will be evident to those around you and your life will be a testimony for Jesus.

Secondly: “always be prepared to explain the reason for your hope” – because, if you are living by the Spirit, people are going to want to know why you are different.

Remember not everyone is gifted as an evangelist, but we are all called the spiritual discipline of sharing the story that God has given us and the reason for our hope.

Remember that the Christian life is a race, it is not a stroll or a wandering along the pathway, there is a very definite end goal. And to keep us running diligently we need to develop Spiritual disciplines, Prayer, Reading God’s Word, Tithing and Evangelism are just a few of them.

But why do we do them?

Because they are good for us? Or because we become more fruitful and lead others to Christ? Yes, but there is a greater reason.

We develop Christian disciplines, because our lives will bring Glory to God.

Revival Part 4 – Why we need Revival.


As we look through church history and even in the first century church, we see that the church does not always experience and uninterrupted and sustained move of God. There seems to be a waxing and a waning in the spiritual zeal of the church. As we look at the seven churches in the book of Revelation, we see that six out of seven had quenched the Spirit of God and were reprimanded for that.

As we look at the church in the USA today, we see many churches in a state of decline. This has been going on for decades. The Gen X and the Millennial Generation have abandoned the call to attend traditional church. They are not interested in simply attending a church that looks like a social club or a lodge. Particularly Millennials are looking for meaning in life, their generation is marked by people who deeply desire to sacrificially participate in something that makes a difference. In essence they are looking for reality and a fresh move of the Spirit of God.

As we see the decline in the church, we see a rise in Muslim fundamentalism, again, it is young people who want a cause to fight for and a cause to die for.

The world is hungry for truth, new cults seem to appear each week, why? Because people have a God shaped vacuum in their lives that only the Holy Spirit will fill. We as human beings were designed to be in communion with God, we will never be satisfied with anything less.

The church needs revival in order to reawaken the power of God in His church. To point people to the one true God. The Holy Spirit will move in power and we will see millions of people drawn to Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior.

This is not a competition to see who gets the most followers, it is not a battle to see if we can get more converts than the Islam. In the end only the Christians will win. There is only one way to Heaven and only one true God. Our purpose is to be a church that points people to the truth. As we saw revival takes place when people are so moved by the Holy Spirit that they will run to the Christians and ask how they can be saved. That is why we need a revival.

Run the Race part 1 February 14, 2016

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1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Running is such a great analogy for Christianity, and this is a race that we can all run in and are all called to be running in. Being a Christian is hard work, it is a challenge it requires discipline, it must consume you as you give your whole life over to the Lordship of Christ.

The early church in Corinth had a large number of wealthy people, as a result their personal Christian life was characterized by lack of commitment and ease. Something very much like the modern Western church. We don’t like to hear about discipline and sacrifice.

In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul says that he is a slave to the Gospel. Paul is consumed with telling people about Jesus.

Why? Because he encountered the living God – Saul was on the road to Damascus to persecute the church when Jesus interrupted his life and transformed him from a persecutor of the faith to a proclaimer of the Gospel message. When Ananias is called to go and pray for Saul, the angel of the Lord says in Acts 9:16: “for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” And what follows in the ministry of Paul is a theme of suffering, challenge, persecution and trials. He doesn’t run from them, in fact he encourages other believers to embrace the way of suffering and trials (2 Timothy 2:1-10; Philippians 3:13-14; Galatians 2:2; Colossians 2:1; 2 Timothy 4:7).

When we are saved, we turn away from our life before Christ. As Paul writes in Galatians 2:20, we have been crucified with Christ and no longer live, but we have been born again. In many ways, becoming a Christian is easy, Jesus paid the price; all we have to do is to die. Die to our old way of life and allow the Holy Spirit to transform us and change our worldview. Seeing things and living according to the Word of God. The problem with dying to our old self is that we struggle to stay dead. Our old temptations come back, we are frequently reminded by Satan of our past failures and we are tempted to go back to our old ways. The hard work of being a Christian is staying dead!

Paul is calling Christians to a life of discipline. It is hard work, it requires sacrifice. We have to constantly be focused on the goal. The Goal is the prize that Paul talks about, eternal life and the reward that we will receive when we are all judged by Jesus when he comes again, but more about that in two weeks’ time.

We need to notice is that the Christian life is a race not a stroll, it is a hard fought battle not a meandering in the forest. Using the analogy of a race, there is so much that we can look at that applies to the Christian life. In any walk of life, in any sphere of society, nothing is achieved without dedication and discipline, and being a Christian, the stakes are much much higher, we are focused on eternity. The eternal destiny of our own selves and that of those around us.

Running a marathon takes weeks of training and preparation and carefully watching your diet. When an athlete is preparing for the Olympics he/she will go into seclusion and prepare when no one is watching. As a Christian, you don’t have the luxury of stopping the world when it gets crazy and taking a time out. You have to train as you go, prepare as you go. But that place of seclusion, that place of being alone is absolutely vital to our Christian lives. We cannot survive without a regular daily time spent with the Lord in prayer.

Which leads to the next aspect of the marathon race, it would be impossible to run a marathon without Nutrition. As a Christian our refueling is the Word of God, we need a regular daily intake of the word of God. Read the Bible itself, allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to us. Paul writing to the Ephesians says the Bible is the sword of the spirit, it is our only weapon to be used against Satan and his schemes. We need to know where our nutrition comes from and we need to feed on that daily.

Another wonderful part of running a marathon is the people you run with. There is a comradery that develops with others as you encourage one another through tough times and push one another to achieve what we would normally not be able to do. It is much the same in any Christian’s life, we need one another. It is essential and healthy to have time alone with God, but it is also essential to have time together, in community, as we run the race together.

And then finally, some of you may be thinking that this message does not apply to you. You may be elderly and not able to get around as freely as when you were young. You might not have as much energy as the younger folk. But this message is for you too. Everyone’s race is different, your pace may be different, but our destination is the same. Your race may be that of a bedridden intercessor, praying daily for our missionaries, for the lost, for our evangelism efforts. Older folk are not cheering from the sidelines, you are in the race with us all until Jesus calls us home or comes again.

Where are you on that race today?

Maybe you began the race many years ago, but you stalled out and started meandering? Maybe someone or something cut in on you (Galatians 5:7), some challenge, some tragedy, some loss. But Jesus is calling you to get back up and continue to run the race, pressing on to the finish line.

The Christian life is filled with unexplainable joy and peace, and we get to experience the miracles of God on a daily basis. But, at times it is also hard, but we must never take our eyes off of the prize – the day when we get to see Jesus face to face.

Revival part 3 – The Attributes of Revival

The Attributes of Revival


The author of the book we are studying, Selwyn Hughes is from Wales. Wales is known at the land of revivals. The have had a number of well documented revivals, particularly in the 17th century and in the early twentieth century. The Welsh revival of 1904 was the most well known.

Last week we began looking at what is revival and we looked at a number of definitions for revival. We heard the quote; “revival in a definition is like David in Saul’s armor, it just doesn’t seem to fit.” Revival still remains one of the great mysteries of Heaven.

But for every true revival there seems to be three primary characteristics that are common to each move of God;

  1. There is a tangible and extraordinary sense of the presence of God.
  2. There is an overwhelming awareness of personal sin and the desire to be cleansed from our sins.
  3. The wider community is impacted.

The Welsh revival of 1904 had all three of these characteristics present.

One of the most amusing situations that arose as a result of the revival was in the coal mines. Miners would fall to their knees while working in the mines and cry out in repentance for their sins. So great was their awareness of their sin. That was the power of the work of the Holy Spirit. But as these miners gave their lives to the Lordship of Jesus, they stopped swearing. Herein lay the problem. The pit ponies in the mines were used to the foul language and they would not respond unless they heard the familiar words from the miners. The miners had to teach the ponies a new language. The ponies experienced the effect of the revival.

In the towns and villages there was a new respect for law and order – the revival impacted the wider community. Crime stopped, and for many weeks, magistrates did not have any cases to hear.

If we look back to Pentecost in Acts 2 and verse 37-42, we see this kind of repentance and desperation from the people who were moved by the power of the Holy Spirit. They were literally cut to the heart.

So we have spent three weeks looking at defining revival, what it is, what it is not, and the reason we did this is well stated by Selwyn Hughes as he writes; “I am concerned that unless we have a clear understanding of what revival is and what it is all about, we may easily settle for less than God wants to give us.

Jesus is the Bread of Life February 7, 2016

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Mark 8:11-21

Have experienced a miracle?

Maybe eyesight or hearing restored, cancer taken away? Those certainly are miracles, but what about the car accident you avoided because you were briefly delayed, the financial provision that came in at just the right time, the person who came into your life for a short season and gave you the encouragement you needed to carry on. Those are all miracles, but we don’t often recognize them as such. What about the miracles we don’t know about, the times God protected you or provided for you without your knowledge.

As Christians we have all experienced many miracles.

In Mark 8 verse 11, we read that the Pharisees came to test Jesus, to see if he would prove himself by performing some sign. But we read that Jesus sighed deeply. He was frustrated that although he had given so many signs, they still did not see. Their hearts were hardened. Jesus did not have time for the Pharisees and their intentional hard heartedness, so they got back in the boat and left. The disciples began to get hungry and realized that they did not have much food, whose responsibility was it to bring the food? Here they were on a journey in the Sea of Galilee, not knowing where Jesus is going to go next, without any food.

Jesus knows what they are discussing and responds with a strange warning; “15 Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.”

The disciples were obviously confused, they thought he was referring to the fact that they had no bread. Jesus often spoke in parables and sometimes confusing metaphors, maybe this was another one. But Jesus was trying to take their attention away from their physical need that was consuming their thinking. How often God needs to do that? Take our minds off the thing that is consuming our attention, the temporal thing, and allow us to focus on the bigger picture. Jesus was getting them to focus on the bigger picture.

The yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod – what was Jesus talking about here? Jesus was warning them of false teachers and those who had a false understanding of who Jesus was. A small amount of yeast affects the whole loaf just like a small amount of doubt and fear affects a whole church and a whole community. Let us be very careful of those who spread fear and doubt. We serve a living God who is still at work in the world today to bring about his plans for his ultimate Glory. Jesus showed that he was more than adequate to provide for their immediate needs. And he still does today.

Jesus starts questioning the disciples and asks 7 questions, but the first five, he shoots out not expecting or requiring an answer to them (Mark 8:17-18). Jesus is like a parent scolding a child.

In asking these questions, Jesus quotes Jeremiah 5:21 and says; “Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?” Jesus was not accusing them of being deaf and blind, rather he was pointing to his miracles. He was reminding them of who he was and what he was capable of doing. Looking back in Mark 7, we see that before the miracle of the feeding of the 4000, Jesus had healed a man who was deaf and mute. Then there was another miracle, right after this account of Jesus rebuking his disciples, Jesus heals the blind man at Bethsaida (Mark 8:22).

But Jesus goes on and asks them questions about the two miracles of the large crowds that he fed only a few days before.

Jesus probably lowered his voice and in what might have sounded like a sigh, he says; “Do you still not understand?

The disciples had seen incredible miracles, they had seen Jesus feed thousands with a small amount of food. They had seen him restore healing, cast out demons, they had seen him walk on water. They should have understood that Jesus could do anything, but what Jesus was trying to get them to understand was that miracles are not meant for simply the physical provision or correction of something that was out of alignment. Jesus wanted them to be thinking on a spiritual level. Do they know who Jesus is?

And we are not much different. We may experience a miracle, God provides, God opens a door for us, God blesses us, and in a few weeks we forget what God has done, we forget the miracle.

Christians are the beneficiaries of the greatest miracle, the greatest story of all of History, the Good News.

Jesus died and rose again from the dead in order to reconcile us to God. As a result we don’t have to live in fear and uncertainty. The world is a scary place if we don’t know Jesus. If we don’t see and hear what he has done, and what he is still doing.

So why does God do miracles? To make us more comfortable? To help us out of a difficult situation?

Does God do miracles because He realized he made a mistake and quickly has to correct it? No God doesn’t do that. God allows situations in our lives, desperate situations, situations that only He could take care of, in order for us to see His glory, His mercy and His power.

God is less concerned about our personal comfort here on earth than he is concerned about us spending eternity with him.

Through miracles God displays His glory, through miracles God grows our faith and trust in Him. God sends miracles so that we can worship Him.

Tell someone what God has done for you. Your story is your testimony, you need to share your testimony to point others to the glory of God.


The Sanctity of Human Life.


A few weeks ago many churches around the country remembered the Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. This tradition started On January 13, 1984 when President Ronald Reagan issued a proclamation designating January 22 as the first National Sanctity of Human Life Day. On this day we remember the tragedy that took place on January 22, 1973, when the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion-on-demand in all 50 states. Churches around the United States use the day to celebrate God’s gift of life, commemorate the many lives lost to abortion, and commit themselves to protecting human life at every stage. While the number of legal abortions per year has declined steadily over the last twenty years, there were still 977,000 legal abortions in the USA in 2014 according to the Guttmacher Institute (AGI)

In recent months the media has been exposing some of the horrendous practices of the abortion industry, and the selling of human body parts for profit. Although this is shocking and unthinkable to most people, it is the logical destination of the path that our nation is on once abortion was legalized. The good news out of this is that it has turned the spotlight on the horrors of abortion and the popular opinion is changing. The focus of the mainstream media has always been on the inconvenience that an unwanted pregnancy causes for the mother, whereas now we are seeing more and more people beginning to talk about the innocent lives that are being slaughtered and then traded to the highest bidder.

But the one key fact that is neglected in the discussion is the potential of the human person that has been killed. From the moment of conception a human person begins to live, that life is an eternal being and has unlimited potential. Potential to bring joy to a family, Potential to change the course of nations, potential to fulfill the Great Commission of Jesus.

With all the discussion surrounding abortion focusing on the temporal, let us remember what the Bible says about human beings. The Bible is clear that every human is created in the image of God, (Genesis 1:26) and that all life is precious in the Lord’s design. The Psalmist writes in Psalm 127:3; “Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him.” David also wrote in Psalm 139:16; “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Let us continue to pray and fight for the unborn, speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves, praying that God would intervene and raise up leaders in our nation with the courage to stand against this scourge of our generation.

A discussion on revival – part 2

What then is revival?

Can we define it?


Someone once said; “revival in a definition is like David in Saul’s armor, it just doesn’t seem to fit“.  Even after we study and try to define and explain revival, it still remains one of the great mysteries of Heaven.

The dictionary defines revival as; “A restoration to use, acceptance, activity, or vigor after a period of obscurity or quiescence” or; “an instance of returning to life or consciousness; restoration of vigor or vitality”. A returning to life, doesn’t mean that something was dead, rather that it was barely alive and about to die.

As we saw in the previous post on revival, it is not right to speak of revival when referring to people who are being converted, who are first coming to faith in Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 2:1 says; “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,” and Paul goes on to say in verse 4 and 5; “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”

People who come to Christ in repentance and new birth don’t experience revival, because they were dead, they experience a new birth. They are Born Again.

Revival refers to re-igniting a flame that was about to die. Literally pouring kerosene on a glimmering ember, bringing a small fire back to life.

Revival as we have recorded in history is when a community is revitalized supernaturally by the Holy Spirit. This revitalization incorporates every aspect of life, including how they relate to each other and their individual spiritual lives.

David Thomas said; Revival is waking up to the fact that you are asleep.

Martyn Lloyd Jones said; Revival is the church returning to Pentecost.

Remembering that Pentecost took place rapidly as the Holy Spirit entered the upper room like a rushing wind. After the Holy Spirit empowered the early church, the movement rapidly affected the whole nation and then the region and eventually the whole world.

When the modern day church experiences the same power that the people in the upper room experienced, and that begins to spread to neighborhoods, cities, and then nations, only then can we say that a revival is taking place.