Revival is a Mess

“Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.” (Pro 14:4 ESV)

     Revival is messy business. So many issues are bound to arise out of a movement of God. There is no coincidence that John Wesley prayed, “Lord, send revival without all the defects, but if this is not possible, send revival anyway. We must have revival.” (1) Wesley, knew all to well, that revival brings out issues. I think there is an obvious spiritual reason for it.

     The last thing that the devil and the demonic hordes of hell want is for revival to take place. Why? Because a true revival develops multitudes of people that remain faithful to God because of their experiences in revival. Revival raises up ministers for the Kingdom of God that have a lasting impact on the world. We could quote numerous sources from Azusa Street and the Toronto revival where this point is amply illustrated. (2) Nevertheless, revival changes people. It changes the most notorious sinners into saints, and it changes saints into anointed and powerful men and woman of God. Obviously, this is something that hell would like to avoid. Hence, it does all that it can to prevent it from occurring. Some of us may be experiencing this now, in this present time. We must, however, press on. Revival is going to come, so we must press on in prayer. ( Please see my post from last year about praying for revival. Many great revivals have been birthed in prayer, Red River, Azusa Street, and the Welsh revival.)

     Even after revival begins, hell does all that it can to destroy and stop it. Again, the historical references here are too numerous to list. We can begin with Clara Lum stealing William Seymour mailing list after his marriage. Prior to that, Evan Roberts was deceived by the Lewis-Penn couple and locked away for years ending the Welsh revival. The recent Brownsville, Florida revival was ended over division that originated from a so-called prophetess. Lastly, the events of the Lakeland revival with Todd Bentley are all obvious examples that the forces of hell move violently to stop revival. Therefore, we must be prepared.

     We must remain transparent with one another and maintain lines of communication. We must remain connected to each other in covenant relationships. We must have humility to allow God to control everything that is happening. We can not allow doctornal issues to separate unity of the Body. What matters most during revival is that people are experiencing the Presence of God in such profound ways that it changes who they are as individuals. Nothing should ever be done to hinder this work of the Holy Spirit. This is what matters most. We must be flexible to allow God to change our own religious paradigms. Revival happens when God works outside of the box of how we feel He should operate. We must be open to God doing things that make us somewhat uncomfortable without attempting to control or change what is happening. The Holy Spirit must have complete control to change any order of any service regardless of who the speaker or worship leader might be. We must never allow pride to justify harboring an area of sin.

     Humility, above all else, is key to revival. My dear friend, Brian Vandiver, had a wonderful experience where humility became a living entity to him. I believe this is huge. This is what is necessary for the continuing of revival. Humility and a spirit of repentance. Frank Bartelemann Of Azusa street once wrote that, “the depth of revival will be determined exactly by the depth of the sprit of repentance.”(3) We must be willing to be convicted about stuff and be able to confess that to each other without a fear of judgment or condemnation. Neither of which exist in the Kingdom of Christ. When the power of God shows up, it will change the saints. We must allow the presence of God to convict us and bring us to repentance about whatever issues might exist. Randy Clark, one of the leaders of the Toronto revival wrote, “Revival is not just abut power. It is not even primarily about power. More importantly, it is about love and humility. Are we willing to allow the Holy Spirit to do whatever it takes to break us of our pride, our need to control, out of self-seeing motives in ministry? Are we desperate enough for Him to let Him completely have His way in us.”(4) Revival has a transforming effect on people and transformation can get real ugly. Can we please remember that each of are human beings and are fallible. Let us operate out of a spirit of love, mercy, and grace.

      It is important to remember that persecution will follow revival. Again, there are too many historical examples to site. The Los Angeles Times blasted the Azusa Street revival. Fox news blasted the Lakeland Revival. In old days, drunken mockers would come to disrupt services. During revival, hell ramps up its efforts to instill in us the “fear of man” so as, to shut down the revival. We must not allow this to happen. It can be combated by being transparent about our fears and discussing them with one another and with God. Through our relationships with each other and with God, we can overcome them.

     There will also be different manifestations of the Spirit. We must be willing to accept this while praying for discernment to see where demonic spirits may be attempting to operate during a meeting. However, we must allow an environment that permit’s the unique expression of a person individuality and their relationship with God without prejudice. Frank Bartlemann writes, “But we can be cautious without being critical. We can be discerning without being destructive. Oh, let us have an open mind lest we be among those who cling to tradition and miss God.” (5)

     We must also take care of each other and watch for potential burnout. When revival fires are burning, people don’t get much sleep, and they tend to eat poorly. I remember Todd Bentley’s doctor telling him that he had the body of a sixty year old man, when Todd finished revival. We must watch each other and take care of each other. Roberts Liardon has some good advice in this arena, He writes, “Mature revivalist much learn to care for their physical bodies. You can live out of your spirit, operate in the anointing, and get the rest you need. If you don’t disaster is pending…A revivalist must know how to lead and rest in order to remain a vital instrument of God.” (6)


1. Clark, Randy, There is More! Reclaiming the Power of Impartation, Global Awakening, Mechanicsburg, PA, 2006, page 123.

2.  Here the reader is referred to the above mentioned book by Randy Clark. Suffice it to say here that Heidi and Rolland Baker powerful movement in Mozambique has roots in the Toronto Revival. Secondly, the reader is referred to a book which is a collection of William Seymour’s newsletter that came from the Azusa Street revival: Hyatt, Eddie, (editor) Fire on the Earth, Creation House Publishing, 2006.

3. Bartlemann, Frank; Azusa Street; Whittaker House, New Kinsington, PA, 1982, page 19.

4. Clark, page 186.

5. Bartlemann, page 173.

6. Liardon, Roberts, God’s Generals, Whitaker House Publishing, New Kensington, PA, 1996, page 88-,89.

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