It’s Been Great!

In this issue of the God’s Revivalist you will read about my decision to step down as president when my term ends in 2017. This information is not completely new for a lot of people since I have freely shared it with the campus family, alumni groups and some friends of the school. Almost invariably when I talk about it there are three responses: First, why are you leaving? Second, who will ever take your place? Three, what do you plan to do next?
Why are you leaving?
For twenty years I have always asked myself a group of questions before making any administrative decision of consequence, “Is it in harmony with God’s will and Word and is it good for GBS?” Those are the same questions I have asked about this decision and the answer that I have come to is YES. It is time to step aside and allow fresh leadership at the top. No one is asking or even wanting me to leave – not the Board, not the faculty, not the students. I don’t really want to leave! But I am leaving because I know it is the right thing to do. The average tenure for a college president is 8.5 years. There is a reason why the tenure is relatively short in comparison to other positions of equal significance. To succeed as the president of a small Bible college like GBS, you must be willing to invest large amounts of time in both the people and the processes that make a school great. You must willingly give huge amounts of physical, emotional and spiritual energy – this is doubly true if you are concerned about the spiritual development of your students. Your creativity and vision must be fresh, relevant and forward looking. You must be willing to live with a constant eye toward friend making and donor development. We have made wonderful progress on all fronts in the last 20 years and I do not want the pace to slacken so I know it is time for a fresh set of hands on the wheel.
Who will take your place?
When people ask me this question I smile both outwardly and inwardly. I know it is a way of passing on a subtle compliment to me and I really appreciate their kindness. However, I know that God already has His hand upon the next person that will follow me. God is forward looking. He is not contemplating the last twenty years but rather is looking toward the development of the next twenty and He already has someone in mind to do the job! And in my opinion, it will be someone who can lead GBS in the fulfillment of its mission in ways that I never could! As a matter of fact, I am quite excited about the future of our school!
The school has an outstanding Board that is well equipped and well prepared for the task of selecting the next president. The entire Board has been praying and fasting and will continue to do so over the next two years. I am anticipating a smooth transition and a great future for GBS!
What do you plan to do next?
Great question! I just don’t know the answer to it yet! But I do know that the God who has led me in every major decision of my life will lead me as to what I am to do next. I do know that I am not retiring (I will only be a young 60 when I leave). I want to give the remaining years of my life to Kingdom work of some sort. I love preaching, teaching, solving problems, helping people with strategic thinking and planning and mentoring. I hope that God will allow me a chance to influence another generation of Christian workers and leaders. The Kingdom needs leaders desperately and those developing leaders need a mentor and a life coach like no other time in the history of the church.
As the clock ticks down to 2017, I will be sharing things with the Revivalist family that I hope we can accomplish together before my departure. I will also be sharing articles that reflect my thoughts and burdens for the church and the holiness movement of which we are all a part. The days head are exciting and filled with promise. I can hardly wait to see what He has in store for GBS!

The State of Marriage

Marriage was God’s idea! He is the Master Designer of this sacred livelong union between a man and a woman. Its origins rest not in creation, not in the natural or the social sciences and certainly not is us but in the very being of God Himself. We can only understand this relationship of sacred oneness as we understand the relationship of the Godhead to each other. Marriage and the resultant family it creates is a “divine pedagogy” to teach us what it means to be made in the image of God and how to experience true communion and intimacy as we live with someone and for someone.
Unfortunately, the average person in American culture does not look to the Master Designer for their understanding of marriage. They see marriage as nothing more than a social convention that can be changed to fit the demands of the prevailing cultural norms. This view of marriage can be both confusing and overwhelming. It is confusing because the present culture sends out contradicting and varying messages about marriage through books, magazines, movies and music. It can be overwhelming because those messages cause people to ask of marriage what God never designed it to give – perfect happiness, conflict-free living, and idolatrous obsession with sex.
When a culture ceases to view marriage as God designed it, it will be marked by the distortions and perversions of that culture. For today’s American culture, that means marriage that is nothing more than a civil arrangement for the highly individualistic purposes of any two parties – male or female. This distorted view of marriage explains why most Americans have grown comfortable with divorce as a natural, maybe unavoidable, part of life. It explains why co-habitation is growing in popularity as an acceptable living arrangement and why same-sex marriage will not only be tolerated but ultimately embraced as normal.
What is the state of marriage in America? Surveys reveal the following:
• 4 out of 5 adults in America have been married at least once (78%)
• 1 out of 3 has been divorced at least once (33%)
• Couples who are active in their faith are much less likely to divorce. Catholic couples were 31 % less likely to divorce; Protestants couples were 35% less likely to divorce; and Jewish couples were 97% less likely.
• Nominal Christians who do not actively engage their faith are 20% more likely to divorce than the general population.
• The more religious a couple is the less likely they are to divorce and the more secular a couple is the more likely they are to divorce.
• 53% of highly happy couples agree with the statement that “God is at the center of our marriage.”
• The normal lifestyle for American young couples is to live together for a period of time in a type of informal trial marriage. However, these relationships frequently do not last.
• 646,464 — Same-sex-couple households in the United States in 2010, according to the Census Bureau.
• 80.4% — Percentage growth of same-sex couple households in the U.S. between 2000 and 2010, according to the Census Bureau.
• 25.3 — Percentage of same-sex couple households in the United States in 2012 with children living with them, according to the Census Bureau.

Celebrating 125 Years of the God’s Revivalist

No history of the Holiness Movement is complete without mention of Martin Wells Knapp and his “pulpit” the God’s Revivalist and Bible Advocate. With a circulation of 20,000 at the turn of the last century, it has played a significant role in the promotion and spread of scriptural holiness. When Knapp launched the paper (then named The Revivalist) in 1888 his purpose was “to proclaim the good news of salvation, to stir up a revival spirit among Christians, [and] to stimulate Christian growth and responsible Christian living.” For 125 years the editors and staff of God’s Revivalist have sought to carry out his initial vision of a paper in which the good done would not be through “human might, nor power” but only through “the Holy Spirit.” Knapp realized, and we affirm, that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.

Knapp boldly proclaimed that he and the writers of this paper were only agents of God, committed to carrying out His work of promoting full salvation. He insisted that, should the paper die because of loyalty to these convictions it would be a “willing martyr.” Knapp’s belief in the power and providence of God’s provision for the Revivalist was sound. Only 12 years after Knapp launched God’s Revivalist, more than 50 holiness periodicals were in circulation across the United States. Today only one of those original publications remains in print. You are reading it.

As grateful as we are for 125 years of unbroken publication, we know that Knapp would have resisted the urge to engage in self-congratulation. All praise and honor belongs to the God who rules over all! Knapp frequently referred to the readers of his paper as “family” and this is a view we still share. So it is only right that we share with you, our family, some of what you can expect to see from the Revivalist in the coming years:

  1. A digital version of the magazine.
  2. Supplemental audio and video content.
  3. More special issues devoted to contemporary Christian living.
  4. An increased web and social media presence.

The Revivalist will, for years to come, be available in print. In the near future, however, we intend to offer the magazine in a format suitable to tablets, e-readers and smart phones. Already, the Revivalist Press has begun to issue, and re-issue, e-book versions of our most popular publications. We are firmly committed to upholding scriptural holiness to the coming generation of digital natives. We also intend to provide supplemental audio and video content via the web. In the immediate future you will begin to see a number of special issues devoted to single topics. These will, we pray, as Knapp promised “stimulate Christian growth and responsible Christian living.” All of these changes will mean an enlarged web and social media presence; changes we hope will increase the global impact and reach of this publication and its founding message, “Holiness Unto The Lord.”

Deep Calleth Unto Deep

You can learn much about a person simply by knowing the things about which they are curious. Copernicus, Newton, Einstein and Edison were possessed with the kind of curiosity that lead to world shaping discovery and invention.  George Washington Carver’s curiosity of botany led to the development of over 300 uses for the lowly peanut.  Can you imagine how many people had held the peanut in their hand with only enough interest to open the shell and eat the nut inside?  But Carver was curious – curious enough to probe deep enough to unlock the vast potential of that lowly little legume.  The great discoveries in our world have always been the end result of a great curiosity – a curiosity so intense that it will seek to untangle the deepest mysteries and solve the most complex problems known to mankind.

The same is true in the spiritual realm.  The deeper life is always built upon the understanding that there is something more to discover – something deeper to faith than we have yet experienced.  One of the fundamental principles of spiritual conquest is that we must pursue and appropriate what God has provided and promised (Joshua 1:3). The great saints are those who possess a passionate curiosity to examine their faith and to know their God in an intimate way.

Moses was such a man.  When you read about Moses you are reading about a man of extreme faith and deep intimacy with God.   When you listen to the things Moses talked to God about; the boldness of his prayers; the things he wanted God to show him – you see an uncommon depth of spiritual character fueled by an even greater hunger to know his God!   An example of this is in Exodus 33 and 34.  Recorded here is an amazing “face to face” conversation Moses had with Yahweh (the personal name for God). He asks Yahweh for three remarkable things:

1. “Teach me your ways”

            Most of us use prayer as a means to alter our circumstances.  Not Moses –it was a means to alter his heart, mind and character. He was effectively telling God, “I need insight into your culture and world.  I need to know how You do things. I must know what Your expectations are for me and for Your people.” If you pray like this every day, you will have a new depth to your life as you concentrate on absorbing the culture of heaven.

 2. “Guarantee me your presence”

            Moses told God quite bluntly that he was not going one more step on the journey unless God promised to go too.  God’s presence meant rest, safety, guidance and identity. Moses would accept nothing less.  Whatever blessing God may offer, Moses would have none of it if it did not include His presence.  This was obviously gratifying to God and He assured Moses that “My presence will go with you.

3. “Show me your glory”

            Moses asks to see God’s glory and God responded with, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you.” Moses wanted to see God’s glory and God said I will show you my goodness. There is a very important difference here. Dennis Kinlaw explains that difference with this insight, “You can have a spiritual experience that is very exciting yet contentless, or you can gain an insight into the character of the Eternal One that will change you forever.”

If you are one of those souls that long to go deeper,  the place to begin is the same place that Moses began – the place that longs to , “know  God, have His presence and to see His glory.”  This is “deep calling unto deep.”

Living Beyond Ourselves

The Christian life can  be  marked by such a sense of God’s presence and power that one is enabled to live and work in a way that is not easily attributable, if attributable at all, to merely natural or human ability. The effect of this kind of life is totally incongruent to natural ability. It is clearly marked by something beyond oneself! From a biblical perspective, this is not something that merely can be but something that should be.

D. L. Moody lived such a life.  He was a source of constant wonder because the results of his ministry were so totally incommensurable with his obvious personal qualities.  He had a very ordinary appearance, was not ordained by any religious body and was uncultured and uneducated – even crude and uncouth to many.  This was a constant bewilderment to many of Moody’s contemporaries including Dr. R.W. Dale, a leading clergyman in Great Britain.  Dale attended Moody’s meeting in Birmingham, England to see if he could discover the “secret” to Moody’s power in preaching and evangelism.  After hearing Moody speak, he concluded that the work had to be of God as he could see “no relation between Moody personally and what he was accomplishing for God’s Kingdom.”  Moody’s ministry was marked by something beyond himself!

The Biblical explanation for a large part of this is called living “in the power of the Spirit.”   Paul illustrates this principle in Galatians 4:22-28 using an Old Testament character, Abraham, to give us an example of the contrast between life enabled by the Spirit and life simply lived in the energy of the flesh.  Abraham fathered Isaac, the son of promise, with Sarah, contrary to the natural order of things.  Isaac’s conception was altogether beyond their natural human ability.  It was Divine intervention that enabled them to bear a son.  However, at an earlier point Abraham fathered Ishmael with Hagar – an act that was clearly the result of the natural human energies of their bodies.  The spiritual lesson of this story is that any life that has results beyond natural human ability is a life that is being lived through the enabling power of God’s Spirit.  With this in mind, we should see spiritual significance in the Bible’s many stories that revolve around barren women.  Sarah, Rebecca, Hannah, Manoah, Elizabeth – all barren until God “opened their womb.”  God is teaching us that if we are to have any spiritual fruit, do any spiritual work, then it will be because of what He does through us and not what we do within our own human energy.

The alternative to Spirit enabled living is living “in the flesh.” When the NT speaks of those who live in the flesh, it speaks of those whose lives are oriented around themselves and who know only their own resources.  Paul describes this in Romans 8:5, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh. . .”  To live in the flesh is to think and work in the context of one’s natural abilities.  It if life on your own!  Those who live in the flesh may be educated, refined and cultured but they still will produce nothing beyond what the flesh can produce.  Their life can always be explained in terms of human ability and accomplishment.

The question which we must ask ourselves is this:  Is there something about me that cannot be explained in natural terms?  Is there something found in my life that is never to be found in a non-Christian?  Do I evidence a life that is lived beyond my own resources?