A SHOCKING REVELATION
Something was wrong in the church. Great spiritual effort was being made to no avail. A hindrance was blocking progress. What could it be? I began praying earnestly to find out.
We were young, in our early to late twenties. In the space of six months to a year the Lord brought forth a new membership group by ones and twos in an otherwise small traditional church. We provided a new strength and energy. The church had been struggling. The existing congregation had recently moved from its previous location and built a large, tasteful building. It had not gone as planned. There might have been a split. The church maintained a solid core of strong faithful believers but most were older and determined to maintain traditional practices. The Lord, however, was doing something new.
A NEW AWAKENING
A nationwide revival of sorts remained on the move. It began around 1960 and spread throughout all denominations. Prior to that time there had been a great divide between Pentecostals and Protestants. The Azusa Street Revival, which began in 1906, had brought Christians of many stripes together for a brief time but after only a few years a major divide had ensued. There were initially arguments among Pentecostals that resulted in splits that created what later became major Pentecostal denominations. Mainline Protestants were at first intrigued with the movement but in general had a hard time giving up or changing their long-held traditional practices. Nevertheless, there was a lot of healthy mixing and cross pollination. In time though, these two groups returned to being estranged from one another.
What took place in 1960 was possible in part because a relatively few Protestants in key positions of authority were somewhat secretly engaging in Pentecostal practices. Because they were discreet it caused no scandal. They perceived the otherwise questionable practices as perfectly natural and solidly New Testament based. These believers would be used by the Lord to assist in opening doors when the new movement began. By the mid 1960s even Catholic priests and nuns were receiving the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. It was in a certain sense a non-threatening revival, somewhat the opposite of Azusa Street, which blew the doors off and created a powerful worldwide movement. The 60s awakening spread steadily throughout all denominations and even began the new phenomenon of non-denominational churches. The traditionalists could not stop it but likely had great success at times in slowing it down. Non-Biblical traditions die hard.
In the late 1960s a great many young people, especially it seems, on the west coast, began coming to the Lord. Some of these had no traditional underpinning and therefore had no understanding of how they should properly present themselves. In all the pictures of the Lord Jesus they had seen He wore long hair and a beard so the young men wore long hair and beards. Those who had dressed like hippies pretty much continued dressing like hippies after they became born again Christians. Their hearts were in the right place but their new attitude of spiritual freedom didn’t go over so well among buttoned-down conservative Christians. Even traditional Pentecostal churches had a major problem with this.
By the 1970s battle lines had formed. It was yet another new guard-old guard paradigm. We know from the Word of God that the prior generation always has a problem with whatever new thing God is doing and regularly opposes it. The new generation, thoroughly enmeshed in the Lord’s new purposes, continues on, as they should, in obedience regardless of the opposition and obstacles. And the old does all in its power to maintain and hang on.
MY NEW CHURCH
It was this very thing that I was born into. The Lord needed new blood and provided it. The latest members added much new energy and exuberance. It turned out to be a great mix. We thoroughly respected and honored our elders in the Lord, the older people who had supported the church for many years and kept it going. After the big move they had a problem. Most of the shiny new pews were empty every service and remained that way for the most part after the new influx. To rectify the problem the pastor was always preaching about the need for witnessing. This went over the heads of most of the older saints but us younger people took it seriously. We were determined to fill up the church.
We had a meeting in a couple’s apartment. It was decided that we would continue witnessing all the more but also go on an extended fast and devote much time to prayer. I had learned all about fasting when I joined this church. We were expected to fast one day every week and go on a two day fast every quarter. These were real fasts that allowed only water or coffee. I was great at this. I often fasted two or three days a week though not in succession. I discovered early on that 24 hours was doable but going beyond that very difficult. Some of the guys had decided to fast for a week or two, and one guy pretty much indefinitely. This is how serious we were. We had a great passion to see people saved!
I continued witnessing up a storm and bringing people to church. We were all on fire for God. This greatly assisted the older saints and gave them a charge. They appreciated how respectful we were and for all the new life! The big fast eventually came to an end. One man fasted an entire two weeks while never missing a day of work. We were praying all the time.
But not much changed. The church building remained as it was. We might have gained a new member or two. I couldn’t understand it. I began seeking the Lord earnestly in prayer. I kept asking what the problem was. I was still a relatively young Christian and had a lot to learn. I was naïve regarding church practice and churchgoers, believing everyone to be solid believers in step with the Lord. Remember, I had been wondering what was causing the problem in the church and why all of our efforts weren’t going anywhere. I had to know why.
While praying one night alone I finally got an answer. I was stunned. It was the kind of answer one never expects to receive. The Lord had spoken very clearly. He said, “It’s the pastor.” That was all He said. He never said what the problem was. I had no idea what it could be. I never asked. I really wasn’t interested.
I didn’t know what to do. I decided at last to reveal this shocking answer to my best friend and his wife, the ones responsible for witnessing to me which led to my salvation. I was very careful. I knew he greatly honored the pastor and held him in high esteem. I did my best to reveal the answer in as gentle but strong a way as possible. With the three of us gathered at their house one night, both of them expectantly waiting, I revealed what the Lord had told me. My friend almost immediately hit the roof. I couldn’t believe it. I was asked, or told, to leave. I had arrived there with them and ended up having to walk home. His wife, who never reacted as he had, came outside after me. She asked if I was okay. I will never forget her loving manner and her open tender eyes. But the relationship was broken. I don’t think I ever told anyone else. It wasn’t long after that incident that I had to move on. I moved away to start again. They stayed.
About a year later the news had reached me. I found out what the problem had been. I discovered why our heartfelt sincere work for the Lord had been unfruitful. While we were busy witnessing, fasting, and praying, our pastor had been having an affair with a church member.
© 2019 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
Posted on December 1, 2019, in Teaching and tagged Church, Deception, Evangelization and Witnessing, Lord Jesus, Prayer and Fasting, Revival, Sin, Spiritual Warfare, The Great Awakening. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.