If you’ve spoken to me or read my facebook or twitter you’ve probably heard about what’s been going on at Cardiff City Temple. I figured I’d blog about it. Where to begin!?
Well, a “revival” or “outpouring” appears to be going on. Very roughly defined, “Revival” is a phrase used in Christian circles to mean basically people rediscovering their love and passion for Jesus. An “outpouring” is essentially a pouring out of God’s Holy Spirit. The folks at City Temple and Run With Fire ministries aren’t labelling what’s going on too much – when God moves, you basically have to go with it, and He’s in the habit of doing new things, and doing things differently! For example, He’s yet to produce two people who are quite the same!
So whatever you want to call this thing, it has taken the format of extended evening meetings (like 7 hours or so – hence I look a bit tired!), night after night, where we have “pressed in” to God – done all we can to get close to Him through prayer, worship, teaching and ministry. It’s been intense, I can say that unreservedly! People have been crying, laughing, praying in tongues, falling down on the floor, worshipping, quietly listening – a very wide range of responses. So why have they been behaving in this manner?
Because here it comes: you see, this Christian thing that I profess – it’s REAL, and I know this because I’ve encountered God. At these meetings (and others), I’ve encountered God in a variety of ways. I’ve had people pray for me and felt something of a warm touch of God, and I came away more passionate and determined to grow close to the Father. Some of the strongest encounters, however, have been through worship, during which on a couple of occasions I’ve sensed perhaps a tiny glimpse of God’s power and love. See elsewhere on my blog for more of this kind of stuff.
So where does this come from? Well, the Biblical book of Acts records the Holy Spirit filling and empowering Jesus’ followers after Jesus had returned to Heaven. It is the Spirit who is God who dwells in God’s adopted children. It is the Spirit who gives gifts, develops character, and can lead Christians into God’s plan for their lives. It is by the Spirit that we encounter God and are adopted into His family. It is living by the Spirit that frees people to be who they were created to be. And this is where Christianity has to be: in the Spirit (the New Testament makes this very clear). Without the Spirit, it’s just a religion, and empty religion is of no real use to anybody. Wondrously, almighty, eternal God continues to interact with normal, imperfect people! The Bible warns us not to quench the Spirit by going with our plans rather than God’s, or to grieve the Spirit by our deliberate wrong actions – the Spirit is God in us, the power of Heaven, on Earth!
At these meetings, people have had amazing encounters, been delivered from all sorts of physical, mental and emotional issues, and most importantly have turned their hearts to God.
And that’s what I’ve come away with, really. It’s not hype – I know manipulation when I see it and this is sincere (they often don’t take the offerings until most people have gone!). It’s not just adrenaline: some of the meetings, I’ve felt flat, but I’ve pressed in anyway, and still come away flat, but it’s not just about emotions, sensations or experience chasing. Encounter is important, however: at one meeting, I was called forward for prayer but didn’t make it to be prayed for because I felt God’s presence so strongly my legs just gently decided not to support me (I could have probably fought this but I tend to try to go with it if God’s doing something!) and I lay there with the rest of the service going on around me as God gently upgraded my heart.
For me, revival is about committing my life to God’s purposes (which are basically the most awesome possible use for my time on this earth and my path to fulfilment). My issues, struggles, doubts, fears, insecurities and sin – the baggage I carry – undoubtedly hold me back, but what drives me forwards is the touch of God, those encounters with a loving, patient, kind and perfect Father. That baggage is gradually being cast off as God gets more of a hold of His haphazard, overthinking, neurotic, yet beloved Gavin!
Yes, there have been times where everyone else seems to be “getting it” and I’m not – sometimes people are clearly experiencing God whilst I’m feeling flat. Yes, it’s really tough – the preaching has been about tough subjects, including hell, the dangers of becoming complacent, the seriousness of sin, and blase Christians just coasting along with no real connection to God. It’s clear from Roy and Melanie’s impassioned preaching that even the most outwardly radical of us are prone to religious tendencies – being anti-religious can almost become a religion in itself! The true challenge is to live a life that is a full stack of love, completely surrendered to God (because that’s what it takes). I’ve had to look at my motivations, my heart, my intentions, and give it all back to God and say “I’m a man of mixed motives, I can’t change myself, but You can – please make me into the man you want me to be” and He has responded with incredible grace, patience and love. I’ve come away more hungry for God than ever before, truly desperate to live out a real life of humility, love, service and above all closeness with God.
If you want to find out what this Jesus is all about, I’d strongly suggest you come along on Thursday 27th Jan or Friday 28th Jan at 7.30. It’s the challenge of your life, but knowing God’s love is the greatest thing possible! Jesus loved you enough to leave Heaven, come to Earth, and die violently for you, and loves enough to save you today and give you an amazing adventure of an eternal life!
I don’t have all the answers but I’m always happy to chat with people about faith anytime!