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OF GREAT AWAKENINGS AND NEW REFORMATIONS: PLANNING A CONFERENCE

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         In August of 2016 I suddenly felt strongly impressed of the Lord to plan a Great Awakening Conference. I immediately went into prayer about it and things starting coming together.

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THE FIRST ANNUAL REAL GREAT AWAKENING CONFERENCE

         I knew I couldn’t do this on my own so I contacted a good friend in ministry with good credentials who had contacts. He also had an initial located structure from which to proceed. He got on board. Although I originally wanted to do it the following spring, we decided that the fall of this year would be best and would give us more time. The fall of 2017, specifically late October, would also coincide with the 500-year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

         He felt we needed to line up a couple of well-known speakers and adopt the standard conference format. I went along because I was doing my best to follow the Lord and I thought maybe that’s what the Lord wanted. My friend made some excellent points and suggestions. Well, the first guy he chose, a man he had met with before and shared a spiritual connection, never responded after two or three attempts. Go figure. This was a big name that many of you would know who has been doing much speaking on the subject of great awakenings. I guess we didn’t rate.

       We thought of others who might fit. He came up with another guy. I made up a brochure/letter of sorts explaining the entire concept of the conference and all we planned on doing. This was sent by my friend to the second minister. Only his secretary responded. Again, this was another big name many of you would know. My friend was encouraged by the initial response. Then the secretary of this second minister we contacted listed his demands:

         He wanted $5000 per night (we were planning on two to three nights). He also wanted two first-class hotel rooms for him and his full time assistant. Of course, we were only planning for maybe a hundred people at most since we were just getting started. My minister friend got so concerned about such money demands that he eventually decided to drop out. I said we could still do it but make it a more organic conference with several less expensive ministers, the way the Lord did it, instead of one or two big names. We could even allow for the engagement of those whom the church world perceives as “regular Christians” (my preference), obviously including members of his own small congregation, but he was apparently so shocked by the big boy money demands he wanted out. So the conference was off.

         But guess what? The two guys he wanted to get are part of the same big well-connected nationwide preacher union (my friend is not). The second guy, at least, obviously looked over my brochure/letter. And incredibly, members of that group decided to do what we were going to do, in the same region of the country, and very close to the exact location I originally planned on.

         They turned it into a big affair with several big name speakers. I never followed up with what eventually happened. Those kinds of things rarely do anything substantial. It’s usually a bunch of expensive flash with little substance and no long-lasting regional effect. I can’t prove it, of course, but they apparently co-opted something I had planned (without ever contacting me) for their own purposes, and renamed it.

THE REAL COMMUNITY

         For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. [1Corinthians 1:26-29] [1]  

         I will close by once again giving you the key to the real Great Awakening: It will involve all of the Lord’s children. It will not be the usual show time, big money, and big name exercise of the Christian elite. That entire paradigm is fading out. The format is stale. Those people are all getting older and there is very little second generation to replace them. Those younger Christian elites who are copying this paradigm and weaving themselves into the old format are often hopelessly shallow, even those on giant platforms, and there is no room for a next generation since the present one has become so worldly and compromised. You will see this is also happening within so-called Christian television.

         Here’s how to tell the real from the unreal: The Lord Jesus must always be the main focus. People must be drawn by His Spirit. If He is in charge miraculous manifestations will occur.

         Also, spiritual humility is a door. If you see yourself as a dedicated real Christian but just another of the Lord’s many children and on the same plane as everyone else, and you don’t see yourself as special or part of a small upper caste, then you qualify for being used of the Lord. I suggest you go pray about it right after reading this post and see what happens.

       This new Great Awakening in America involves, just like in the political realm, THE FORGOTTEN CHRISTIAN, the ones who actually serve the Lord Jesus and one another in relative obscurity, who have been slaving away pulling on the galley oars out of sight and out of mind forever. These are the ones who have been making Christianity work in America from the beginning by “secretly” giving their money, time, and energy with very little or no respect or acknowledgement for their massive contributions from those on high and in control.

     Real Christians are the ones who possess incredible perseverance under trial, longsuffering, and general overwhelming strength against all odds. If you are a young Christian and do not relate to this concept, you will eventually if you stay faithful.

         Persecution seeks out those who refuse to back down.

         It is the so-called nameless laity in the pews and church chairs and those on the outside who have always made Christianity work in whatever place or time. These are the ones who are always constant and who can make it just fine without big ministerial pay days and ego-stroking. They also work for the Lord under any and all circumstances without requiring $5000 in advance as do the show-me-the-money boys.

        Like the Protestant Reformation of 500 years ago that began in a spirit of necessary reform due to the overwhelming sin and corruption of the controlling clergy, Great Awakenings always emerge from relatively dark spiritual times.

         And the darkest of times are also the shallowest and most uninformed of times with the most ostentatious artificial window dressing deceiving clueless majorities into accepting costly shiny packages with nothing inside that must never be opened.

         © 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.  


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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Angry Little Preacher and the Ghost Lady: Christian Conference Redux

         There was once a big Christian conference in a major city several years ago. It was headlined by a big name Christian evangelist from another country. Many local preachers were invited, as were their church members.

         The city convention center was rented out—the place used mainly for NBA basketball games—and was nearly filled. The conference had been publicized for months.

         As one who attended my share of rock concerts in my long ago youth in such large venues, it was interesting to see all the different people from all over the city come in. As an usher, it was my job to assist in finding seating for the attendees, but also to direct people to the VIP section.

         The organizers of the event made sure that all the VIPs, in this case church pastors and official ministers, were ushered toward the front section, which was marked off and guarded. I was posted in the far back entrance on the main floor. Pastors came in with special credentials and I directed them to another usher far down the aisle, pointing them in the right direction. If I recall, the VIPs wore certain badges to identify themselves.

         There was kind of an upbeat atmosphere but muted. In the old days one walked into a concert in such large auditoriums and saw people having a great time and looking forward to the show. The inevitable frisbees were flyin’ around, caught by someone in the crowd and flung again, several staying aloft at once.

         But not at our conference. No frisbees. No beach balls, even. There was one thing, though. It was kind of weird, but then again for those who were used to it not so much. Again, I was at the head of one of the two or so main aisles in the back down which every minister had to walk to reach his seats in the front section below the stage. My friend and fellow usher was about halfway down the aisle before me.

         The next thing I know a young lady of maybe twenty years of age suddenly felt like dancing. In the aisle. Close to where my partner was. She was doing one of those worship dances with large graceful movements, her eyes turned skyward in kind of a blank look, as if she was hearing music no one else could.

         Okay. No problem. That’s why we’re here. Glad someone’s getting in the Spirit. It reminded me of something, though…

         I remember many years before in a church I was attending there was a lady who did these kind of spur of the moment worship dances. Except hers were really weird. And they usually occurred at odd times. This was in one of those kinds of churches where such behavior was okay, and maybe even encouraged. The idea was to let people be free to worship the Lord as they felt led. The associated challenge with this approach is that you would get the occasional weird “leading.”

         For example, we had a tastefully trimmed out walk-in baptistery at the far front behind the pulpit. It was located there so everyone could see the baptismal candidate emerge on the left from behind a wall and walk down the stairs of the filled tank into the water. The preacher would meet the candidate there, sometimes in waders, and do the baptizing. It was cool. Then the freshly immersed believer would rise majestically out of the water all smiles and happy. It was a celebration! People would applaud and praise God, and then the newly baptized would climb the stairs of the tank on the opposite end and exit.

         Well, our particular worship dancer would sometimes find her way to the baptistery entrance in the back, unseen by all, and then suddenly emerge from behind the same wall through a narrow outlet and out onto the platform! She was thin with long limbs and would always be holding her arms outward and upward, eyes almost closed for the most part, and glide around.

         During a service.

         Sometimes during the preaching.

         You hoped you didn’t bring a visitor on such nights.

         She was ghostly and pale and wore long loose-fitting light-toned dresses. It was quite the sight. Some people were muffling laughter. Elbows were poking others in the pews good-naturedly to let them know the ghost lady was doing her thing. Most congregants acted like nothing out of the ordinary was going on which made it even funnier. For the most part everything just kept going as usual—listening to the preacher, watching the ghost lady, trying hard to be respectful, and allowing her to worship the Lord in her own unique way. Good times…

         Well, back to our conference—our young lady was dancing in the main aisle completely oblivious to oncoming traffic. People going down the aisle would have to stand there and wait for a moment, looking for an opening to get past her. Finally my partner asked very nicely if it would be okay if she did not block the aisle and perhaps dance in her seat.

         The next thing I know some older gentlemen sitting in the back row close by came unglued and walked quickly down the aisle, his head and shoulders thrown back, aimed directly at my friend. He began to excoriate my fellow usher who was quite taken aback at the treatment. My partner tried to explain but to no avail. The gentleman came walking back to his seat red in the face and quite steamed. “That young lady wasn’t doing anything wrong and should be allowed to dance!” We looked at one another. Everybody saw the whole thing. He sat down madder than hell.

         I decided to go over to him both to stick up for my fellow usher and also attempt to diffuse the situation. I was very cool. I kind of half knelt down to make eye contact and tried to explain that she was blocking the aisle. Then he started yelling at me. “That little girl is a member of my church and I don’t appreciate this!”

         It was then I realized that this little man was a preacher. Somehow or another, his credentials were messed up and someone told him he was not allowed to sit in the clergy section down front. This all happened before I took my post. He was mad enough to fight because he felt slighted. I told him I would try to fix it. He said he no longer wanted to sit up there. His behavior was familiar to me at the time since I was the father of young kids.

         Again, I tried to reason with him and diffuse the situation. I stayed calm. Then he said something or another and I lost it. He remained sitting and we were face to face and I let him have it with both barrels, speaking as low as I could. His wife sitting next to him was the most embarrassed woman in the whole state, and was probably used to his antics. But the guy would not let up. I returned fire. I stood my ground and manned my post. Then he looked at me and yelled, “I’ve been preaching for thirty years and I don’t need you preaching to me!”

         If he had gotten up out of his seat I could not have guaranteed that I would not have knocked him into next week. That little banty rooster preacher was a serious piece of work and was obviously used to having his way.

         Maybe the preacher’s antics and our little discussion became a sideshow among the crowds in the upper sections. Maybe the whole thing played out like a ghost lady episode.

         As these things go I was later questioned that night about what happened. Nothing ever came of it. The mad little preacher stayed in back the whole evening glued to his seat and later tried to make amends and laugh it off, though he refused to admit any guilt. He even mentioned something about us almost getting in a fight. As it was, the corrective of the Lord was strongly applied as it probably had never been before and if the preacher had chosen for it to be applied further it would have been.

         Moral of the story? Not sure. But maybe if we didn’t have a first class section for bonafide clergyites and Pharisees, such people would not get their panties in a wad in the first place whenever they felt slighted. Their attitudes are the polar opposite of what the Lord Jesus taught. Imagine the people back in the angry little preacher’s church who revered this guy as a man of God!

         The idea of spiritual VIPs is about as far from the example of the Lord Jesus as possible. He was always being disrespected and treated bad and He accepted it. It was part of the territory. He never demanded His own way or threw fits when slighted. Unlike many modern day preachers who demand honor at all times, the Founder of real Christianity took on the persona of a servant. He would have never been invited to a conference like this anyway, much less have been offered any credentials, but if He got in I’m pretty sure He’d have to sit in the back. With a perfect attitude, though, and most likely invisible. 

         I later thought that maybe the little hothead preacher who had been a minister for thirty years was given a chance by God to show real Christianity by taking the mistake in stride and sitting in his back seat with a smile. And what if all the preachers given official credentials had tossed them aside and purposely sat in the back or somewhere unnoticed? Would not that have been a great testimony to the Lord Jesus, to have that entire front VIP section empty?

         But no. Too much pride. Too much sorry religious pride.

         And there’s your main malfunction, all you Rev. Pretenders: You refuse the Lord His place and take it for yourself. This is like trading a million nuclear power plants for a flashlight battery. It’s no wonder you never see a move of God!

         For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? [James 2:2-4]

         “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.” [Luke 20:46-47]

         For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. [Galatians 3:26-28]

            Clergy and Laity distinctions have no place in the Lord’s community. Period. We must all get with the Lord’s program. Proper humility is the order of the day. Repentance is called for. Religious pride must be destroyed. We must walk not in the strength of sinful flesh but in the power of the Lord’s Holy Spirit.

         If there is one central determining factor in explaining why much of Christianity in America is long since DOA it is because the Lord Jesus has been demoted or kicked out and replaced by impotent imposters.

         I’m not sure what the actual purpose of that conference was, except to see how many Christians from different churches we could gather under one roof in geographic unity. Nothing much happened. There was no great outpouring. The foreign evangelist, greatly used of God overseas, had little effect. But, you know, maybe it was a good networking opportunity.

         For those interested in the real deal, though, who want the Lord Jesus to be exalted to His rightful place of honor and authority, who long for an outpouring of God’s Spirit and even a national Great Awakening, there is a clue from the ministry of John the Immerser. The forerunner of the Great One quoted Isaiah the prophet while preaching to the many seeking repentance and right standing with God. Isaiah tells us exactly what must happen should we choose to be one big happy family:

         A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.

         “Let every valley be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; and let the rough ground become a plain, and the rugged terrain a broad valley;

         “Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” [Isaiah 40:3-5] [1]

         Now there’s a Christian conference worth attending!

         © 2014 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.