We’ve been revived

I reckon some would call it revival and in one definition of the word it would be.

Like a plant thirsting for water, when finally the watering spout tips into it’s soil, it’s leaves turn up as they are revived.

We starve ourselves, not from food as we seem a most glutenous group of humans we Americans. But we starve our souls from the very thing that lifts our eyes, our heart, our spirit. We try filling it with work, money, family, distractions and, yes, even church.

We know we are hungry for more but more of what?

There is a God shaped vacuüm in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus. – Blaise Pascal

This is what we thirst for. This the only one who can fill that vacuüm that has already sucked everything else dry and finding no revival, no life.

old-fashioned Salvation Army revival

old-fashioned Salvation Army revival

As a kid, revival meant spending a lot of nights at church. There would be spirited singing, hand clapping and, at times, tambourines shaking. The old people seemed to come alive and the kids….when your dad is the preacher you just learn the rhythms of meetings.

I can’t say as I especially liked revival meetings. But they seemed necessary to bring new folks in and shake up, or wake up, the regulars.

Oscar Roan  Oscar Roan

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prayer

We haven’t used the word revival in years. But we bring a speaker in every year to bring new life to the men.

It’s not that they don’t hear God’s word every day.
It’s not that anyone outside of God’s own spirit can bring new life to anyone.
But there is something to be said for a different voice. A fresh word. That new flame.

Oscar comes to us every year. He travels the country speaking to other ARC’s, in prisons, youth camps, wherever the invitation is extended to share his gift of speaking, and he is gifted.

It seems just when we’re feeling satisfied and comfortable, this word comes to overturn our pride and call us to repent of our comfort and to bring a reawakening to our soul.

His words cut hard but are true. There’s no prosperity teaching from this man unless you consider the cost of God’s call to leave everything profitable. He reminds us this is the only profit we should want because it is all we need.

He speaks to the hearts of each one as he takes the story of Lot and his rebellion and makes it our story.

How Lot chose a life away from what he’d been taught and how God never abandoned him but gave him one and then two and a third chance and saved him when the whole city around him was destroyed for their wickedness. (Genesis 13-18)

His words are so plain when he doesn’t preach of an easy life but that “it’s going to rain” so expect it. And when it rains God is with us.

Oscars words are directed to the men but they are reaching every heart there and mine is pierced all over again knowing the bitterness that has been in my heart. Knowing the resentments I haven’t let go and knowing how this is like Lot choosing another way rather than God’s way.

There is not enough room in our chapel to contain the men who’ve come forward to pray and night after night this happens. The aisle fills up and they are clinging to the podium and to each other and we see the very spirit of God move in to restore life to our soul for we have been revived.

About Face

It was the early 70’s and we’d moved. Again. A new city in the summer for a teenager is exile. Searching the television only found the Watergate hearings. BOR-ING

Fast forward some years and the movie All the Presidents Men would capture my complete attention. From that dark, terrible time in our country came life. New life. Good life from, perhaps, the least likely: Chuck Colson. Once described as the Presidents “Hatchet-man” his life did an about face. In prison he claimed he was a new man with a new faith. Many doubted. Jail-house religion, they said. We’ll see.

And we did. Chuck Colson revolutionized prison ministry with the founding of Prison Fellowship. God took this mean, heartless, selfish and power-hungry man and used him. God broke him and used his brokenness, restored his spirit and soul.

A regular on the interstate exit ramp

Charles Colson died over the weekend he was 80 years old.

So we look for the next Chuck Colson. We watch broken men come through the doors. Lost and lonely. Sometimes a mess in and out. Sometimes a re-entry and their smile isn’t bright in their embarrassment and shame. Some have come with no thought of a future. Brian said four months ago he didn’t have a life nor could he imagine one. Today he does. Today he can stand and attest of a good life. A sober life. A life where he knows love. Not the fleeting emotional kind of romance but the love of a God who took him as he was. Takes all of us as we are and we are but dust.

Maybe none of our men will write books or go on the speaking circuit or start a nation-wide ministry. Or maybe they will. All I know is God will use who he will use and he so often uses the broken. Maybe it’s because being broken also means being open. When things break they are in pieces. Open at the seams. Isn’t that where he wants us?