Submitted by MattG on Sun, 10/26/2008 - 11:29pm.
When I came to CFC a little over six years ago and my bible study leader first mentioned this event on the church calendar labeled “Revival”, my first thought was “Wow…that’s pretty bold”. I mean, who did this church think it was nailing down some date on the calendar and saying there’s definitely going to be revival then? Isn’t revival something that comes along unexpectedly? Somewhat mysteriously? According to God’s timing instead of our own schedule?
What I forgot in all my skepticism was some important stuff about God’s character. He’s in the business of reviving hearts. It’s pretty much non-stop work, but He LOVES it. Because of His willingness and ability to do that, even faint admissions of needing God and slight desires for a more substantial relationship with Him inevitably lead to people falling deeper in love with God and lives being recommitted to Him. Six years now and I’m starting to see a little clearer how deliberately setting aside some time in the church’s calendar to seek God and give Him openings into our lives to be revived definitely appeals to that willingness that He has to help us grow. It’s the whole premise for why people even set aside time to gather at Foellinger Auditorium on the U of I campus this past weekend – God LOVES to bless.
With that being said, trying to recap this year’s CFC Revival with clumsy writing skills (Disclaimer: I’m an accountant), even if they are accompanied by awesome pictures taken by some talented church members, is like trying to retell a hilarious story to a friend only to find that the full hilarity of it isn’t coming through at all and you end up having to resort to the “You just had to be there” line instead. Only replace the hilarity with blessings. If even a portion of those blessings come through in this recap, well then, I guess it’s worth a shot.
Revival Speaker: Pastor Charlie Dates from Salem Baptist Church on the south side of Chicago. Pastor Dates spoke at this past year’s Joshua Generation youth retreat so some people knew the treat that was in store for everyone by having this man as our speaker this year.
Friday Message: “This Ain’t What I Ordered” (or for the more self-conscious note-takers like myself, “This Isn’t What I Ordered”) – Genesis 29:14-27. The insights Pastor Dates gave on the story of Jacob, Rachel, and Leah and the implications they have for us personally were definitely refreshing, especially given that the message comes down to the fact that God’s in control and has a plan no matter how circumstances may lead us to believe otherwise. Always good stuff to remember in whatever phase of life or situations we find ourselves in. I must also say that this is the most blessed I’ve been by a sermon containing the phrase “baby mama drama”.
Saturday Message: “In Christ Alone” – Colossians 2:8-15. Coming to America is a quality movie, no doubt. In all the times I’ve seen it though, I’ve never thought “Hmm….yeah, Jesus IS the real thing!” I’m usually thinking something like “Whatever happened to Arsenio Hall?” or “Man, what happened to Eddie Murphy’s career?” Enter Pastor Charlie Gates. He draws out the comparison between the movie’s fictitious McDonald’s knock-off called McDowell’s and how many people settle for cheap substitutes rather than the real thing – Jesus Christ. Banking everything in our lives on this reality brings clarity from the confusion, completeness in Christ, and confidence in our conclusion. That’s Pastor Dates dropping some perspective-altering alliteration on us. I was digging it. (Note: I just received my rejection letter from the Pastor Dates’ School of Cool after that last phrase. I’m pretty sure this means I’m prohibited from using “Watch me now!” when I’m about to make a strong point in a conversation. Bummer.)
Sunday Message: “Declaration of Dependence” – Psalm 23. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that when Pastor Dates said “I don’t suppose that any of you have pet sheep at home” I was the only one who thought “Not so fast”. Actually, had not have and not so much pet as food, but the point is, I can back up his claim from firsthand experience that sheep are stupid. They are short-sighted, easily disoriented, unaware of danger, and loads of other unpleasant characteristics that end up with me yelling at it like Napoleon Dynamite trying to feed his Grandma’s llama and no longer caring if the sheep breaks out of its pen for the hundredth time and spends the next month sleeping on our porch with our dog and cats.
Sheep are absolutely dependent on the shepherd for survival. Since society seems to view independence as an unequivocally favorable trait , this is a comparison that probably doesn’t sit well with most people. Taken in the context of God’s love and provision and our own unquestionable need, this message is perfect for helping us value the lifestyle of a man like David, who wrote this Psalm. Pastor Dates shared how no matter if the situation was good or bad, David always responded by running to God and how God affirms David’s actions and attitude of dependence as pleasing to Him by saying that David was a man after His own heart. And I also found it strengthening when Pastor Dates added that with a shepherd like Christ, we have no reason to be “skurred” (spelling courtesy of urbandictionary.com).
Sometimes even after the most convicting of messages, those convictions and insights can make a quick getaway unless they’re internalized. That’s why the prayer time following the messages is always so money. Seal it in and it becomes part of our own perspective about who God is.
Pastor Jong Park leading us in various prayer topics to help us internalize and savor the message.
Getting to enjoy some quality conversation with God.
And some time to pray for each other. Always an encouraging part of the prayer time when the Body of Christ comes together - whether close friends or complete strangers – to support each other through our prayers.
The response of praise and worship to God seems the only fitting way to conclude time spent learning more about our relationship with God and having Him unfold those realities in each of our hearts through prayer.
I thought this new song we sang for Revival did a great job of reminding us what worship looks like. Like the woman who broke her alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume and, along with her tears and her hair, used it to wash Jesus’ feet. She knew Jesus was worth it and Jesus was most pleased with her heart.
I’d feel awkward providing commentary on the worship so I’ll just step back for a bit and let the images attempt to tell the story.
I don’t think there’s any analogy that could help me comprehend how much God loves it when He sees us doing what He created us to do and to find the most joy in. Not only is that what Revival boils down to, but it’s what is important in all of our relationships with God.
Three years ago a younger brother in the church shared with me his realization that the one thing that really makes Revival worthwhile is God and since he can interact with God anytime no matter what, then revival shouldn’t start and end with an event. When I think about my relationship with God in the weeks following Revival, his realization has always been a big challenge and encouragement to me. For all of us trying to process what God showed us through Revival or for those just trying to get a sense of what went down at Revival from afar, I hope remembering His faithfulness and His promises will be a great source of joy, hope, and peace as we all try to grow in our relationship with our amazing God.