Revival Will Not Make Spiritual Warfare Easy

Sunday is for Prayer

Before Matt Chandler, before Francis Chan, before David Platt, (three young men we should all be thankful for God raising up in this generation), before even John Piper, there was George Verwer. Radical, passionate, creative, missional, fully engaged and calling the Christian world to be more and do more for the Savior, all of these men are worth listening too. This week, I ran across this quote from George and it struck me as spot on.

“In my experience throughout the world, an over-emphasis on revival leads to a subtle form of extremism and a ‘copping out’ from the basics of obedience, discipline and action-taking. If revival hits your church or region or university, [or town, or high school], there will be more intense spiritual warfare the very next day. There may even be greater heartbreaks and disappointments than there were before it came. There is no substitute for daily denying self and taking up the cross, regardless of your circumstances. To think that great revival or spiritual experience will make Christian living a kind of ‘automatic pilot’ experience, is to make a huge mistake.”

—George Verwer, Out of the Comfort Zone, 31.

I think George is right and that knowledge is not comforting. What George observes around the world, I suspect is true of we American Christians in particular. We like instant things. We like easy. We like comfortable. We want progress, but we want it to come effortlessly. We want a three step process, a pill, a patch, or a formula. And all of that makes it extremely unlikely that we will see a revival in America. So now you know what we need to pray for.

“Lord Jesus, we can do nothing without You. We are so satiated with our comforts and toys and games and achievements and power. We fail to take up our cross, we fail to speak,we fail to live with a zeal and passion for You and Your kingdom and world sees nothing supernatural about the lives we live.

They see nothing exceptional or noteworthy about how we love them and sacrifice for them. Instead, they see us live for the same things they do, our families, a little more comfort, a few more toys.

Forgive us Lord, but change us too. We need a revival of our love for You.
We are desperate for it–or we should be.
Whatever it takes Lord, revive us for Your name’s sake. 

One thought on “Revival Will Not Make Spiritual Warfare Easy

  1. Brought over from Facebook discussion:
    Nathan Smith
    This was an interesting post and I completely agree with George’s statement about revival. I would be careful to compare him to the other three men though.

    They have done markedly different things than George – which means they are successful local pastors, writers and speakers. They haven’t started a global movement, initiated hundreds of ministries, lived off of nothing, traveled to almost 100 countries for ministry purposes, discipled men and women face-to-face from the extreme poor to the wealthiest people in the world, etc.

    It seems an overstatement to compare these other men to George. They are good men in their own right, but have nothing on George and have primarily experienced their success due to the fact that they are in America – and they’ve stayed in America – something George chose intentionally not to do – because American religion cloisters us from the real needs of the rest of the world. Their influence comes primarily through media – George’s influence came through life-on-life discipleship and real world failures and successes in countries that very few have ever thought of.

    My general frustration with this comment is that American preachers and ministries are incommensurately evaluated all the time even though there are ministries and preachers around the world that have as much or more influence and commitment but don’t get the exposure because they are not in America. We mustn’t mistake the American media machine for real life influence.

    Marty Schoenleber Jr
    Nathan, I agree 100%. Completely. My comparison was not of that vein. My only point is that God is beginning to use these other young men to challenge a new generation to live sold out and sacrificial lives. That’s all. George’s life is singularly wonderful and glorious for the Savior.

    Nathan Smith to Marty,
    Thank you for your response. I would again stress that these men are not exemplary outside of their U.S. influence and that I don’t see them living sold out lives for Jesus, living self-sacrificiously, living out the Great Commission, etc. anymore than any other committed Christ follower.

    They are good men who have a strong following and are moral exemplars. They haven’t paid any great price beyond what most pay when in ministry – they have just experienced unprecedented success and attention.

    That may be the difference of opinion we are encountering. I am picking on your post to make a wider point through an American made social medium so I am complicit in the critique. Many are drawn to their example because of their writing and preaching but I would strain to see any of their “doing” as set apart and exemplar of living a sacrificial lifestyle.

    Anyhow, it seems that American exceptionalism can sometimes make its way into our valorization of famous, made by media, superstar preachers whose heroic status is established more by word of mouth. Twitter, Youtube and Facebook, than by devoted and lived action. They are exemplars, but not of the kind that have the capacity to help lead a generation into more “radical” commitment to Christ.

    This is done by just doing it and being watched and then possibly writing/speaking about it, not by primarily writing/speaking about it and then having everyone watch you. (Francis Chan may be the closest exception). I will digress if I continue so I thank you for your post and for your interaction and I just hope for the day when the recognized heroes of the faith will be so because they didn’t play into the system and were just faithful without a book deal.

    Marty Schoenleber Jr
    Again, I mostly agree. But you might be surprised if you looked a little deeper at David Platt and Matt Chandler and even Francis Chan. Matt has been battling brain cancer with great grace and David, though young has done and continues to do significant work in the trenches on non-American, third world soils. Francis Chan moved his family for a time to Asia to try to figure out more of God’s will for his life. The American media machine makes (tries) to make everything in the West more important but that doesn’t mean that these guys are just pretty faces and attractive media-driven success stories.

    But I get your point. There is an infatuation in American culture with the popular, the big ministry, the conference circuit, the next “big” book. It is tawdry and shallow and should be confronted.


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