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What we want is the real thing. What is in your mind when you think of "the real thing?" We know what church is, and we know what usually happens in church. A lot of us have been in church for a long time. We kind of settle in to what we expect to happen in church. We usually have lowered our expectations and we kind of figure not much more of this is ever really going to happen. Right? We've just kind of decided how the Christian life is going to go. Maybe once in a while we get a good testimony and the Holy Spirit will occasionally do something here and there. But basically we're going to leave here in an hour, and we're going to have lunch and then go to work tomorrow. Things are going to be pretty much the same for another week. Right? I don't think any of you are wondering how you are going to eat lunch today. (When I preach in Africa, if you don't feed them, they're going to starve. Most of the people I talk to are not going to have anything to eat because they did not bring it with them. They walked for three, five days, barefoot, through deep mud and through deep rivers and crocodiles to hear me talk without any food, without knowing how their wife and kids are going to eat at home, while they've come to this meeting. It gets serious.)
So what do you think about when you think of "The real thing?" Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. What is the "real thing?" We sure don't want to "play church, or pretend." We don't want to act like there is a revival when there isn't. We don't want to act like God's around when He isn't. And we don't want to pressure people into something when God isn't working. We don't want to holler and yell and all that when nothing is happening. Right? We don't want to preach and scream and proclaim and all that, when it's just hot air. We don't want to be a great orator and give a long-winded story and all that when we don't know what we're talking about.
We really don't want to turn on the television or plug in a tape when it's just somebody promoting their work and wanting your money. Am I relating to you? Can you identify? You don't want to just buy another book that the publisher is hoping to make a killing on, and you're the target audience. You don't want to join a church where they're just really into a church growth strategy and you become a statistic. I wouldn't even go to a church if what the pastor is after is just a bigger church. I want a pastor that loves me and that I can spend time with and get to know. And obviously that has the love of God for me. That's where I would go. And if he's got some ambition and some designs on success, then find another pastor. Find another church.
We didn't go to Africa to start 5,000 churches. I just went there to find one kid, and then two kids, and then three kids. I was there two days when a South African businessman came up to me. He had no idea why I came to Africa and Mozambique. He said "Do you want an orphanage?" We went out and saw this bombed out, blown up, dilapidated old orphanage that nobody could take care of, with these kids. We started with these 80 kids, but I didn't ask for that. I don't go around selling sponsorships and we don't use our kids to raise funds. Find some miserable looking kids and put their pictures up on the wall and get their sad stories and that's good for so much cash. We don't do that, because we want the real thing!
Is there such as thing as real revival? Is there such a thing? We want the church as the early church. We hear about churches in Africa and South American and all, and I sympathize because when I was in high school and college I never thought I would be a missionary. I had this tremendous heritage, but I never thought that I would ever be involved in something like my grandfather was. I underestimated God, badly! But I would hear stories. Mel Tai would come to American from Indonesia and he'd tell stories of walking on the water and turning water into wine, and raising the dead and all. And I thought, "Did I miss something in Bible school class?" Did the American church miss something here? So I would hear missionaries come and they would tell these stories, and think "Oh, my goodness!" But I lived in Orange County, in Southern California, where there are rows of straight streets and lights and shopping centers. Everything is normal, and we're not out in the dust and in the villages seeing miracles. We're stuck in America.
Let me just ask you; do you expect, in your western city, to have an African revival? I mean, do you expect that? Yes? Ok, we're getting places. But I remember growing up, going through high school and college and wondering what do I have to do. The atmosphere of doubt in the West is thick, it's in the air. You can just cut it with a knife, it's so thick. It doesn't matter who you talk to on the streets and in college and everywhere. You start talking about the supernatural and knowing God and the Holy Spirit and people look at you. The doubt is so thick, and I couldn't wait to escape the United States. What does it take to get out of the entanglement, out of the tentacles that the Western culture wraps around you? What do you have to do to get out of it?
I took off to Indonesia with Heidi, and got straight into the Indonesian revival. For years, Heidi didn't even want to come back to the United States. She didn't want to come back at all. God spoke to her audibly. "You're going to get your Masters Degree when you're 25." For her to do that, she had to come back. But she didn't want to come back. She hoped God would just send it in the mail! I said, "Heidi, you're going to take that prophecy seriously? That wasn't a prophecy, God spoke to her audibly! You're going to have to go back! So she did! Gradually over the years she's developed compassion for Americans.
Let's talk about the whole subject of revival. This includes growing in the Lord, chasing Him, finding Him, pursuing Him, doing something for Him, becoming useful to Him, accomplishing things for Him, seeing Him work, and doing something useful with your life. There are generally two views about all of that. See if you can identify with either, or if you are somewhere in-between.
There are two models. The first is to work hard to get God to move on your behalf. This includes soaking thinks in intensive prayer and intercession. It includes strategizing and preparing and doing all that you know to do to please and serve God. It involves a lot of work and diligence and commitment. The other is to simply surrender your agenda and your plans and your strategies to God, and to embrace His plans. Do you identify with either strategy? Or are you somewhere between them. I will spend the next few lessons developing each of these two strategies in some detail.