Standing on Their Shoulders

I get tickled at folks who insist they stick with the old original King James. Well, I’ve got a copy, a photocopy of the original 1611. I bought it at Walmart for $4.00 in 2011 for the 400th anniversary. Very few could make heads or tails of it, even those who adamantly “stick with the original.” I can read it fairly well, but then I’m fairly odd, I like stuff like that.

But the title here is to remind us that we aren’t the first generation of Christians. Doctrinal foundations have been laid, spiritual structures have been erected for two millennia. Seas of Christian blood have been spilt for your religious liberty. Libraries of hymns that were full of the Gospel, that actually said something, taught something, that were remembered years after sermons were forgotten, were penned, often in times of Spiritual Awakening. Creeds, confessions of faith and catechisms were common a few generations ago. It wasn’t known then as “a Catholic thing;” every evangelical group used them. Now, they are decried. I’ve heard preachers declare against them. The easiest way (translated, ‘cheapest’) to get amens in a Pastors’ conference is to shout out, “I have no creed but the Bible.” And therefore we have the most biblically illiterate church membership since before the Protestant Reformation.

The point is, we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us and it would do us well to read them—their biographies, their writings, their hymns—and to emulate them. Or maybe we should double check to see exactly upon whose shoulders we are standing.

This was a Surprise!

The church in Port Arthur offers ESL classes, has for years. That’s English as a Second Language. In fact, the ministry to the Spanish speaking immigrants was begun that way. Now they make up half the congregation. Beginners and Advanced levels are offered at 1:00PM Tue/Thur. One lady who has been teaching for many years, who is now in a wheelchair, recently confessed she is tired, exhausted actually. With no premeditation I said, “I’ll do it.” I’ve never taught English before, to anyone. But I started teaching Beginners, those who know little to no English. I found out from them that there are many who would come but cannot because they work. So, without thinking through this either, I said, “I’ll start night classes.” We started classes at 7:00PM Tue/Thur. The response was overwhelming. The first night we had to move from the conference room in the office to the sanctuary. The next session, we interviewed everyone in order to place them in Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced. And believe me, Advanced ain’t (sorry) very much English. We keep having new people every night.

The purposes are to share the Gospel and teach English. I can’t describe it to you, but these sessions are like Revival meetings. And most of the folks are lost. But the Holy Spirit is moving.

Just Thinking

What is the most difficult thing you do? Not the most impossible, frightening thing you could ever imagine being forced into, but the single most difficult task you must undertake regularly, frequently or occasionally. Mine is to think.

But everyone thinks, all the time, without effort, right? The first several years of our life together, when Terri was quiet, obviously deep in thought, I would interrupt her thoughtlessly and ask her what she was thinking. She would almost always smile at me with those beautiful green eyes and say, “Nothing.” I would then proceed to gently, kindly, and patiently explain to her the impossibility of actually thinking about nothing. Perhaps when I so rudely jarred her out of her profound contemplation she immediately forgot what she had been meditating on to give me her undivided attention. This was a distinct possibility I thought, because she really was and is far more intelligent than I. But no, “I wasn’t thinking about anything,” she would insist. After about a decade of such flabbergastation, I quit asking.

But, generally, our minds are always operating, mindlessly, if you will, without an operator. The switch is always on. The difficulty is making them go where we want them to go. We need to be IT geniuses to master these super computers with which we were born. We can’t weasel out by claiming to be computer illiterate. We have no choice but to think.

Think about how much you have to think for your job, whether it’s at McDonald’s or as a mechanical engineer or operating a road grader. Sometimes you have to think so fast on your feet (or your seat,) observers might not be able to detect the process at all. But you know, don’t you? Some jobs, it behooves you to slow down, sit down, think through every move and its many ramifications, all the variables, all the scenarios, what might possibly go wrong, and the solutions, what you want the end result to be, etc., etc. Your working time might actually turn out to be nine parts thinking and one part hands on doing. But your thinking will time very well spent.

My job description is pretty simple: Evangelism-talk to people about Jesus. Of course it can be explained more fully, but that’s a pretty good summary. I have, without fear of any contradiction, the best ‘job’ in the world. I hand out Gospel tracts that I have written and that have been translated into Spanish; I stumble around in my broken Spanish trying share the Gospel. I am amazed again and again that the power is not in the evangelist but in the Holy Spirit and in the Gospel itself; I preach through translators; I get to go out of the USA and preach when funds are available; and I preach in English speaking churches…Spiritual Awakening conferences (or ‘revival meetings’) and pulpit supply. Only thing I want is to preach more.

But I have to think. Concentrate. Focus. Meditate. That sometimes seems like the hard work. It takes that to prepare messages, to write tracts, to write articles. I write articles about Revival and related subjects. Spiritual subjects seem to be the most difficult to concentrate on. I believe it’s because, in addition to the normal distractions and tendencies to wander all over the universe mentally, anywhere except where I’m trying to focus, when I’m praying, meditating, reading Scripture and trying to write on things above and not on things below, that’s when the enemy comes in like a flood. You talk about ‘shock and awe,’ with Satan, anything goes, anything’s fair. Interruptions, uncanny timing, bombarding thoughts, something somewhere breaks, goes wrong, demands immediate attention. He doesn’t even try to be sneaky or try to disguise himself anymore. It’s almost funny, it’s so obviously the devil. But it is irritating. Spiritual thinking is hard work, it is a battle, it must be fought faithfully, it can be won daily.

Now, the point: I want to encourage you to make time, fight for it, keep it every day to read the Scripture and pray and think. Be quiet, listen. Remove all other things that demand you listen to them. You are attempting to enter the Secret Place, under the shadow of the Almighty, into the Holy of Holies, before the blood sprinkled Mercy Seat. The angels are all around the Throne, the elders on their faces, the Lamb of God at the Father’s right hand interceding for you. Waiting to commune with you is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Shhh! Hush! For Heaven’s sake, turn off your cell phone! And tarry there one hour in sweet fellowship.

Dan Grindstaff

The Secret Place

There is a place most Christians have never been.

It is a place of which they have never heard, of which they have no concept, for which they have no desire. If it could be described, they would think it impractical, too time consuming, too difficult to attain, not worth the effort to achieve. And that would be because they’ve never been there. We might call it the Secret Place. “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1

Those few who have entered into this Holy of Holies of spiritual intimacy with the Lover of their soul would say it is worth any effort, any price to attain. They would not understand how any child of God could possibly think a pearl of such value as communion with the Lord could be considered too time consuming to obtain. These friends of Jesus would simply stare with genuine bewilderment when told how impractical it is to enjoy God by glorifying Him and to glorify Him by enjoying Him. Their only response? “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good.”

In this shallow age, those who know experimental religion, that is, experiential, spiritual Christianity, are often written off as mystics. The possibility is never considered that there are some believers who take seriously the declaration that they have been raised up and seated together in the heavenlies in Jesus. They accept as spiritual and doctrinal reality that they are raised with Christ; therefore, they long for and seek after those things which are above. They set their minds, their affections above; they’ve left behind and lost interest in material pursuits. They have died to it all and their life is hidden with Christ in God, not just as a theological statement, but as a true and vital experience. As Rutherford said, “Since He looked upon me, my heart is not my own, He hath run away to Heaven with it.”

Therefore, it is quite natural for them to lay their heads on the heart of Jesus, lost in His love, in the Secret Place. Listen to Mr. Spurgeon:

There are times with me—I dare say there may be with some of you—when we do something more than contemplate—when we arise by meditation above thought itself, and when our soul, after having touched the Pisgah of contemplation by the way, flies positively into the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. There are seasons when the spirit not only stands and flaps his wings o’er the gulf, but positively crosses the Jordan and dwells with Christ, holds fellowship with angels, and talks with spirits—gets up there with Jesus, clasps Him in his arms, and cries, “My Beloved is mine, and I am His; I will hold Him, and will not let Him go.” I know what it is at times to lay my beating head on the bosom of Christ with something more than faith—actually and positively to get hold of Him; not only to take Him by faith, but actually and positively to feed on Him; to feel a vital union with Him, to grasp His arm, and feel His very pulse beating. You say, “Tell it not to unbelievers; they will laugh!” Laugh you may; but when we are there we care not for your laughter, if you should laugh as loud as devils; for one moment’s fellowship with Jesus would recompense us for it all. Picture not fairy lands; this is Heaven, this is bliss. “He hath revealed it unto us by His Spirit.”

Consider John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, at least that’s how he identified himself in the Gospel he penned. He’s the one who leaned on Jesus’ bosom at the Last Supper. But did Jesus not love all the disciples? He said, “Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” He loved them to the end, all of them, not just John. But John felt especially loved. Maybe his attitude was, “Jesus loves you, but I’m His favorite!” But is that so bad? Removing the childishness from it and retaining the childlikeness; that is the humble heart of one who dwells in the Secret Place.

Jesus, Lover of my soul, let me to Thy bosom fly,
While the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high.
Charles Wesley

No Christian who has ever accepted the invitation of Jesus has ever regretted it, “Abide in Me, and I in you.” But ‘abide’ is not occasionally dropping by for coffee. It is to settle down and feel perfectly at home. The enemy of the soul will do all he can to keep that from happening. To abide has a peaceful sound to it, but it is a war to get there and a discipline to maintain that posture. But think, anything Satan fights so viciously must be of great import.

Paul considered the loss of anything and everything of perceived value in this life as worthless, quickly given up without a second thought for the super eminence of the deep, personal, intimate, experiential knowledge of Jesus, knowledge of such surpassing value that if one tried to buy it, it would be priceless.

Those who abide in the Secret Place seldom, if ever, speak of it. In fact, they are generally quieter than most. One does not come from the heart of Jesus with a boisterous demeanor and a quiver full of jokes. This one changes the atmosphere of a room, or soon leaves. He is sensitive to the Holy Spirit who is grieved at any conversation among Christians that could not easily transition to prayer, or worse, when an unholy conversation can easily turn to prayer without a twinge of guilt because it’s time for someone “to say a quick prayer.”

Those who abide do not try to come across as more spiritual or more holy than others; they are sincerely grieved of heart by the things that grieve the Spirit.

Don’t think him morose. He of all men knows Biblical joy. He just may not always be bubbly. Again, Charles Spurgeon.

People really full of joy do not usually talk much. A person that is carrying a glass that is full to the brim, does not go dancing along like one who has nothing to carry. He is very quiet and steady, for he does not want to spill the contents of the glass. So, the man who has the joy of the Lord filling his soul is often quiet; he cannot say much about it. I have even known that joy to get so full that we have scarcely known whether we have been in the body or out of the body. Pain, sickness, depression of spirit—all seem to have been taken right away; and the man has had so clear a view of Christ, and his mind has been so abstracted from everything else, that, afterwards, it has almost seemed like a dream to him to have felt the love of God in its almighty power, lifting him above all surrounding circumstances.

And do not think for a moment that this one believes he is nearing the arrival gate of sinlessness. He would cringe at the thought. He is painfully aware of his sinfulness, and his sins loom larger in his own eyes under the near glow of the holiness of Jesus, sins of the heart that those in the shadows at a safer distance from the Glory might overlook.

There are many missing elements in current American Christianity. Two disciplines essential for finding and remaining in the Secret Place of spiritual intimacy with our Lord Jesus are TIME and SILENCE. These may be the two most expensive commodities to purchase, at least to find. There’s not a spare minute in your day, much less any significant non-interruptible time. And where can you go in this world to find silence? Isn’t that extinct? Isn’t this being unrealistic in this age? That depends on how badly you want it, how much you want Him.

How thirsty does the deer have to be to pant for the water brooks? When you can say, “That’s how my soul thirsts for You, my Savior,” you will find the time it takes to discover and enter in and settle down and feel perfectly at home in the Secret Place. When you understand the cry of the bride of the Lamb, “When I found the One I love, I held Him and would not let Him go,” you will then want to read and study His word, pour out your heart to Him, and you will not forget to wait and listen to your Beloved as He speaks to you from His Word by His indwelling Spirit. His sheep hear His voice. Hearing requires listening. It’s difficult to listen if you’re always talking. Isn’t that what you tell your kids? Listen. His voice will never contradict the Scripture. That’s not mysticism; that’s Christianity.

How much time? How seriously do you want to know Him experientially, intimately, spiritually? To know the power of His resurrection involves the fellowship of His suffering.

How much silence? Christian meditation is not emptying the mind; it is filling the mind with Scripture and thinking on these things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, praiseworthy. Spurgeon said he’d rather soak his soul in a few verses than rinse his hands in several chapters. Listen to the Author; the Holy Spirit knows what to do with His sword. He came to guide you into all truth and to glorify Christ. Look for Jesus on every page. Open the Book with reverence and anticipation, with your mind made up in advance to believe and obey.

Seek His heart. Abide in Him. Find the Secret Place. Settle down, feel at home, refuse to leave.

“We are never nearer Christ than when we find ourselves lost in a holy amazement at His unspeakable love.” —John Owen

Dan Grindstaff, evangelist

The Prodigal Father

3 Parables:

  1. Two brothers grow up in the same home, half-brothers, actually. They had different fathers, biological fathers only, and were raised by the same single mom. Each had a different reaction to their situation, neither understanding why. Neither ever knew his father or the appropriate love of a man. One joined a gang. He died in an alley of multiple knife wounds. The other became a homosexual. He died of AIDS.
  2. A man works hard, makes a good living for his family whom he loves very much. He provides well for his wife, his three sons and two daughters. He is happy to be able to give them not only everything they need, but much that they want, within reason. When asked if he is a Christian, he responds, “Oh sure, I believe in God.” But Sunday is the only day he has to sleep in (or to fish, or to watch the game) and he is quite proud that his wife takes the kids to church. But one by one, as they became teenagers, the kids drift away. They say it’s because of sports, homework, work, but subconsciously it’s more “If it’s not important to Dad I guess it doesn’t really mean that much to me.”
  3. An entire family is faithful to attend every worship service and every Bible study possible, Dad, Mom and kids sitting together every time the doors of the church are open. They are the perfect model of a Christian family. Every mother who brings her children to church alone wishes her family could be like that, wishes her husband could be like that. The man is admired as the spiritual leader of his home. It is assumed throughout the church for years, that his son will go into the ministry, his daughter may become a missionary, or at least marry a preacher. Each one, when they go off to college, quits going to church entirely. If confronted by someone in the home church, they would angrily point to the hypocrisy of Dad at home. “If you only knew what your ‘good Christian’ was really like!”

Like Judaism, Christianity was intended to be a family religion. The Jews referred to God and God referred to Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; grandfather, father, grandson. In many cultures that is how the Gospel travels; whole families come to faith, whole tribes. Not that people are saved en masse automatically. Individuals are born again. But the Holy Spirit seems to work rapidly in families, especially when the patriarch is genuinely converted and baptized with the Spirit in a most profound way. On the day of Pentecost, Peter assured the Jews concerning the gift of the Holy Spirit, that the promise given to the prophet Joel of the outpouring of the Spirit was for them and their children and to all who are afar off (around the world and to the end of time) as many as the Lord our God will call. To them and their children.

God’s promise to Abraham was that through his Seed, that is, Christ, all the families of the earth would be blessed. For 2000 years that has been the case. The Gospel has spread through families, through extended families and neighbors and friends. And the fathers have been a key to Christianity’s success.

For example, in the book of Acts, there is the account of the conversion of Cornelius, a centurion of a first century Italian regiment. He was not a Jew, but was a man who was seeking the God of the Jews, the only true God. An angel appeared to him and instructed him to send for the Apostle Peter and where to find him. In the mean time, in a vision God was preparing Peter to go to the house of this Gentile by overcoming his natural Jewish prejudices against doing such a thing. When Peter got to Cornelius’s house, he found the soldier had already gathered his relatives and close friends to hear the Gospel. While Peter was preaching, the Holy Spirit came down upon the whole household and they were all baptized with the Holy Spirit, just as the Jews were at Pentecost. Peter commanded that they all be baptized in water. And all because of a man, a man who feared God and sought Him with his whole heart and did all he knew to do to lead his family and friends to Christ.

Then there was the Philippian jailer. He had thrown Paul and Silas into the dungeon and clamped their ankles into stocks with their legs spread apart at a cramp-inducing, unnatural position. A cruel man. But he listened to these prisoners singing hymns of rejoicing and his hard heart was touched. Then at midnight an earthquake shook the cell doors from their hinges and the jailer was about to fall on his sword, for that would be a better fate than would be his at the hands of his superiors for losing all his prisoners. But the voice of Paul arrested his attempted suicide, “Do yourself no harm, we are all here.” That did it! That broke his heart. He cried, “What must I do to be saved?” In other words, “How do I become like you?” The answer was simple, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved…you and your household!” He did and he was. He knew he had to do two things: fix the wrong he had done and bring Jesus home to his family. So he brought Paul and Silas home, dressed their wounds and fed them, then he had the Gospel presented to his wife and children, and he told what had happened to him and he rejoiced for his whole family believed and were baptized just as was promised.

This is the way Christianity is designed. This is the way it is supposed to spread; it is to permeate our families, husbands to wives, fathers to children, generation to generation.

So why isn’t it working today? Dad, what’s gone wrong? Dad, whose fault is it? Dad, how would you analyze the situation? Dad, how you advise the church to do their job better? Dad, is it really the church’s job to reach your family for Christ?

Dad, who is the real Prodigal Son in this story?

“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

If You Could See What I See

If I were technologically astute, from where I sit as I write I would show you a panorama view of the inside of my office which is, in fact, a replica of an old cowboy bunkhouse. Here I sit on the outskirts of Buckhorn, New Mexico on my 43 acre ranchito of mesquite, tumbleweeds, jackrabbits, cottontails, Gamble’s quail, mule deer, coyote, rattlesnake, and passing through, the occasional javelina, black bear, mountain lion, coatimundi (look it up, Terri has seen one,) and it has even been rumored, a chupacabra or two (I may have started the rumor.) Inside my bunkhouse is rough cut lumber, rusty tin for a ceiling, cowboy pictures, an old bronc saddle in the corner and the back wall covered with books from old dead preachers. And an air conditioner!

Included on my back wall are several books on Revival, many on revivals in our Nation’s history. Oh folks, if you could just glimpse what I’ve seen in my heart’s imagination fueled by this kind of reading. If you could see what I’ve seen! Actually, I can’t recommend it. Many stay mad all the time simply by watching Fox News. If you read the stories of Spiritual Awakening in our past, it wouldn’t make you mad about the present, it would devastate your heart. ‘Break your heart’ is too gentle a phrase. Revival Yearnings is the only term adequate. Longings, cravings for that which is lost, that which remains unfulfilled, for an extraordinary movement of the Holy Spirit producing extraordinary results. Not just nostalgia for simpler,‘bunkhouse’ days, but a demand of the innermost being, a fire kindled by the Spirit of the living God that will settle for nothing less than a return to Biblical holiness. Not the good ole days my generation remembers, but days none of us have ever seen. For instance..

John L. Girardeau, Southern Presbyterian white pastor to black slaves, Zion Church, Charleston, South Carolina, 1858

One evening while leading the people in prayer, he received a sensation as if a bolt of electricity had struck his head and diffused itself through his whole body. For a little while he stood speechless under the strange physical feeling. Then he said “The Holy Spirit has come; we will begin preaching tomorrow evening.” He closed the service with a hymn, dismissed the congregation and came down from the pulpit; but no one left the house. The whole congregation had quietly resumed its seat. Instantly he realized the situation. The Holy Spirit had not only come to him–He had also taken possession of the hearts of the people. Immediately he began exhorting them to accept the Gospel. They began to sob, softly, like the falling of rain; then, with deeper emotion, to weep bitterly, or to rejoice loudly, according to their circumstances. It was midnight before he could dismiss his congregation…The meeting went on day and night for eight weeks. Large numbers of both white and black were converted and joined the various churches of the city.

–From Preacher with Power by Douglas Kelly

This local church revival was part of a Spiritual Awakening that swept America from coast to coast. That Awakening was one of many over the centuries of our history. Are they just that, a thing of the past? It would seem so. That’s why I say perhaps it’s best you not read Revival literature. It will crush your heart. You would see the futility of political wrangling to save America. You would see how far gone we really are, how utterly hopeless the situation is.

And you would see that in the past, America was in the same condition, many times, when Almighty God chose to send an overwhelming outpouring of the Holy Spirit to purify His Church and bring this nation back to righteousness. Certainly America is a lot bigger now and more wicked than ever, but God hasn’t aged, He hasn’t weakened. Our God is able to deliver us! And I believe He will.

If you could see what I see!

From a Broken Heart

About ten years ago I jotted down a phrase that came to me summarizing the heart of my ministry of the previous 25 plus, now more than 35 years. That phrase, of course, is Revival Yearnings. It says everything I want to say, everything I feel, what I live with day after day, decade after decade. Ongoing, insistent cravings, longings for something lost, something unfulfilled, for an extraordinary movement of the Holy Spirit producing extraordinary results in my life, in the lives of my family, in our churches, in our nation. I have nothing new to say; I am literally a preacher with one message.

And I can’t shake it.

Certainly it doesn’t take any powers of persuasion to convince anyone over 40 that conditions are degenerating rapidly in America. And anyone who has lived through several cycles of national elections knows our hopes are not in 2014 or 2016. America will not return to her ‘good ole days,’ nor should she. But will she ever be restored to spiritual glory?

I don’t know. I just don’t know.

That is not a defeatist answer. I believe it to be the correct answer. I’ve said many times that I am very hopeful. Hopeful because of the promises of God. Hopeful because of God’s gracious history of forgiving and restoring. When Moses pleaded with the Lord to turn His wrath away from His stiff-necked and rebellious people, He ‘relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people.’ There is hope for a time. Only He knows how much time.

Imagine the harm of which Omnipotence is capable.

The Lord can harm a nation passively, through abandonment, or actively through aggression. The active judgment of God on a nation can come in the form of natural disasters, economic collapse, disease and pestilence, and attack by hostiles. Passive judgment is when the Lord gives a people over to their lusts and desires, allows them free reign, abandons them. This kind of remedial judgment comes first.

We are somewhere between Stage 1 and 2.

Which would be the worst kind of judgment?

1. The Spirit of God quietly leaving the country, abandoning us unto our own designs?, or

2. A nation wide, devastating, heart rending tragedy, affecting millions?

It is difficult to wake up out of the drugged slumber of the first type of judgment. At least the horrific active judgment would have more possibility of being a real wake up call.

The first is a period of grace, giving us time to re-think our position, to repent before national tragedy. The second is wrath.

The first is discipline. The second, punishment.

The first harm we do to ourselves. The second is harm done by Almighty God. What kind of harm is the Creator able to bring? Some will say, ‘Well, my God would never…’ Don’t give me that. Read your Bible.

The only alternative is repentance. Immediate, radical turning from our wickedness and coming back to the Lord Jesus Christ.

I can only truly repent for myself. But I can intercede for the unrepentant—family member, fellow believer, church, non-believer, nation—out of the brokenness of a heart that won’t accept ‘No!’ for an answer, that gives Heaven no rest, in fact that refuses to go to Heaven without that loved one, beloved church, or cherished nation.

“Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.”  Exodus 32

 “O Lord, according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain.”  Daniel 9

“I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh.”
Romans 9

You can only repent for yourself.

You can intercede for others, for America. But only out of a broken heart.

Terri and I are on the Gulf Coast ministering to Spanish speakers from several countries.

A Little Revival History

(Or is Revival just history now?)

Over the last several years I may have mentioned once or twice that I love to read the histories of Revivals. OK, maybe I’ve mentioned it more times than even I can remember. But it’s not a hobby or a passing fad with me. And it’s not just something interesting to read about that happened years ago but has little or no current relevance. It is our most pressing need. The Constitution, or the Executive Branch’s view of it, the indebtedness of our nation, the division of America right down the middle philosophically, the increasing violence, the incivility of our leaders, etc., etc., these are simply symptoms.

In the early centuries of our existence, when there were natural disasters, outbreaks of violence, economic downturns, political tensions, there was an immediate understanding of the root problem and a swift call for the only solution. National problems were recognized as providential, created by or allowed by the Sovereign Lord to bring us to repentance. And the response was a call for fasting, prayer and repentance. This call may have come from the leaders of the various Christian denominations, but it was just as likely to come from some level of government, magistrates, courts, governors, Congress, or, yes even the White House. Our national leaders called for Solemn Assemblies, renewal of our Covenant commitments and national repentance of national sins.

In January, Terri and I took a vacation, only the second one we can remember taking. We were gone for 19 days. We were in the car for 10. Together. Alone. Just the two of us. In the same car.Over 4000 miles. And yes, we are still married! (Hanging by a thread. Kidding.) Our objective was to see two new granddaughters. Sophia was born in Germany and is now 7 months old. Julianna was born on our 38th anniversary, New Year’s Eve. Hers is the only grandkid’s birthday I’ll be able to remember.

Our trip took us to Fort Campbell, Kentucky and to Rhode Island. We didn’t have any sightseeing time, but we went through a lot of country that was of special interest to me. Revival country.(We also drove through Newtown/Sandy Hook, Connecticut. It was on our route and we didn’t stop to look around, but it was a fresh reminder of the desperate condition we are in as a nation.)

Many towns we passed jogged my memory of histories of Revivals I have read. In fact, I deliberately took some of those books with me. We were in rich Revival country. At various times in American history, Spiritual Awakenings swept New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island,  just to name a few. In fact, our country was founded in Revival times and in the early centuries of our existence, experienced wave after wave of mighty effusions of the Spirit, most beginning in the Northeast. All of the original colleges (Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Dartmouth, etc.) were established to train preachers of the Gospel and experienced multiple Revivals. Jonathan Edwards (Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God) became President of Yale, but died within a few weeks from a then experimental measles vaccine. His grandson, Timothy Dwight was President in a later era and was leader in several Revivals. We took a wrong turn and drove through downtown New Haven, Connecticut right past Yale. Beautiful, old buildings. I wanted to stop and try to find the portrait of Edwards hanging in one of the buildings on campus, but Grandma had other ideas and had her face set like flint towards Middletown, Rhode Island, home of the newest grandchild.

I don’t think anyone would accuse any of these Ivy League schools of being hotbeds of Revival and Evangelism today. In a suburb of New Haven, I saw in a quaint, typically New Englandneighborhood, a street named Sodom Lane. Brown University in Providence is the first Baptist college on American soil, the great Francis Wayland being President during multiple Revivals on campus and in town. Today, Brown University’s claim to fame is the highest rate of sexually transmitted diseases on any American college campus.

So is Revival a thing of the past? Yes, and I believe it is a thing of the future. In a history of the Boston Revival of 1842, the editor said then, “God has been accustomed to build up His kingdom in the world mostly by the instrumentality of revivals of religion.” When times have been at their worst in America, God has intervened with His best, an outpouring, a fresh and mighty baptism of the Spirit, bringing deep conviction and repentance in the Church, and sweeping multitudes of skeptics and atheists into the kingdom. I think we are ripe for the harvest now.

Pray for Revival,

Why Pray for Revival?

None of us has perfectly pure motives for anything we do.  We talk about “agape,” God’s kind of self-sacrificing love, but we never quite achieve it.  Whether it is doing something for someone who can do nothing for us in return, even doing it anonymously, or pouring out our praises and adoration to our Lord, there still remains, if we are brutally honest with ourselves, a tinge of sin and self in our motives.  Even when we pray for Revival.

What should be our motives in praying for Revival?  To return America (or our church) back to the “good ole days?”  To ease our conscience?  To change people who oppose us—homosexuals, Muslims, liberals, etc.?  We can readily see the selfish mixture in these kinds of motives.  But what about the desire to see people come to Christ?  To bring joy and fervor to our worship?  To transform our schools?  To reclaim backslidden church members?  These are good desires, and, no doubt, proper and possible results of an Outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

But the highest and purest motive for praying for a Visitation of God, as in everything we do and pray for, is the Glory of God.

That’s a fairly easy statement to make, so easy, in fact, that it can become a cheap cliché.  For a preacher, it’s a guaranteed method of getting a sprinkling of “amens” when the people seem a little drowsy.  In spite of its shallow misuse, we must learn to be relentless in examining absolutely everything we do or say in the merciless light of “Does this bring Glory to God?”  Especially should this be the case as we pray for Revival in our churches and Spiritual Awakening in our nation and in our world.

Revival can make a revivalist look good.  One can get a reputation for being an instrument of Revival wherever one goes. Although that’s a good prayer request, it’s a dangerous reputation. Even the godliest and most sincere will admit it feels good, but human adulation is hollow and short-lived.  Duncan Campbell was adamant to the point of irritation in declaring that he did not bring Revival to the Hebrides in the early 1950’s.  Evan Roberts completely withdrew and became a virtual recluse when he became the “idol” of the 1904-05 Welsh Revival. Like these brothers, we must become insanely jealous for the Glory of God.

A Revival can turn sour in a heartbeat.  Not that there’s anything deficient in the work of the Spirit.  But Satan can supply counterfeits; people not really under the influence of the Spirit can get caught up in the heat of the moment and fake it, sometimes subconsciously, sometimes maliciously.  Christians seem to have a propensity to be the most gullible people on the face of God’s green earth.  We are so overanxious for evidence of the miraculous that we voraciously swallow almost any claim to visions, encounters with angels, direct words from God, even roundtrip experiences to Heaven, or hell, and especially reports of Revival.  We are not blessed today with an excess of discernment.  If you doubt this, just get on Youtube and search for revival, miracles, healings, raising of the dead, angels, you name it. You will also find that the Church has become the laughingstock of the lost world. I must admit, two world famous TV “evangelists” telling jokes to one another in “tongues” and slapping each other on the back is funny stuff.  If it weren’t so blasphemous.

The Holy Spirit is God.  He is not the influence of God, the power of God; He is not “it”.  Like Father and Son, He is fully God, the Third Person of the Trinity. It has always been a staggering realization to me that a puny creature like me, a worm, can grieve and quench the Spirit of the living God. He is hypersensitive to sin, especially to the root sin of pride. Human pride robs God of the Glory He will not share with anyone.  We must constantly examine and reexamine our motives in praying for Revival, knowing that they will never be perfectly pure.  But like any other sin, less than perfect motives are continually cleansed by the blood of Jesus, the washing of the water of the Word and the sanctifying grace of the Heavenly Dove.

With the vestiges of sin still digging their claws into our sanctified nature, we’ll never do anything right—completely, purely right. Not this side of Heaven. But, relentlessly asking the Holy Spirit to purify our motives, let us press on, giving Heaven no rest for the very thing Heaven has the most desire to grant, the reviving of His Church and the healing of His land. All to the honor of the glorious Name of Jesus.

Dan Grindstaff

Experimental Religion?

(I started writing this article 3 years ago, but abandoned it for fear of being misunderstood. I’m older now and I’m OK with being misunderstood.)

Perhaps your initial response is to recoil at the rather unusual title of this article. That would be a natural and understandable reaction. Those two words put together have several strikes against them right out of the box.

‘Religion’ is considered a four letter word in religious circles today. It’s a guaranteed ‘amen’ when a preacher says “I’m not into religion, I’m into relationship!” Well, amen. You’ve said it, I’ve said it, all God’s children say it nowadays. I try not to anymore. If by ‘religion’ one means man’s terminally hopeless and universal attempts to discover, define and appease God by our own efforts and on our own terms, then of course, religion is futile. Bonhoeffer spoke of the need of ‘religionless Christianity’ and used the Tower of Babel fiasco as an illustration of our religious efforts.

‘Experimental’ conjures up images of chemistry lab, mixing elements that were probably not created to be in the same ceramic bowl at the same volatile moment. So ‘Experimental Religion’ sounds like a wreck fixin’ (about) to happen.

But let’s slow down and think through this before we throw out a perfectly delightful term from historic and classic Christianity. As some of you know, I like to imbibe from the old wells of the faith dug centuries past which have stood the test of time, the Reformers (16th Century,) the Puritans (17th,) the Revivalists (18th,) and Spurgeon and his contemporaries (19th.) I read books that speak of the revival of religion when everyone understood that to mean the Christian faith and that alone. And ‘experimental’ simply means, or meant experiential. Therefore, translated, ‘experimental religion’ is a vital, living, dynamic faith in Jesus. It is spiritual intimacy with Christ, to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. Experimental Religion is exactly what you are looking for, the Spirit-initiated cravings of your innermost being.

Now we all understand that the particular term we choose is not the crucial thing. But we all long for a walk with Christ which is more than cerebral. Dead orthodoxy (believing all the right stuff without the power thereof) does not compel us, the love of Christ does. The fruit of the Spirit is experiential, having to do with human affections, that is, emotions.

We don’t need to sacrifice head or heart. We can’t afford to. It’s possible to be theologically correct (“My Calvinism’s better than your Calvinism…or Arminianism or Dispensationalism, etc.) and at the same time be spiritual IPECAC (vomit inducing agent.) Others may tend toward a different extreme, being spiritual livewires and theological goofballs. Does the idea of balance here appeal to you? If so, that’s where the old paths can give us some help. For example:

Help me to humble myself for past evils, to be resolved to walk with more care, for if I do not walk holily before Thee, how can I be sure of my salvation? (Puritan prayer)

In all your course, walk with God and follow Christ as a little, poor, helpless child, taking hold of Christ’s hand, keeping your eye on the mark of the wounds in His hands and side. From the wounds come the blood that cleanses you from sin and hides your nakedness under the shirt of the white, shining robe of His righteousness. (Jonathan Edwards)

Oh brethren, be great believers. Little faith will bring your souls to Heaven, but great faith will bring Heaven to your souls. (Charles Spurgeon)

I am ashamed that I have done and suffered so little for Him that hath done and suffered so much for ill and Hell-deserving me. (John Newton)

Return, O Holy Dove, return, sweet messenger of rest. I hate the sin that made Thee mourn, and drove Thee from my breast. (William Cowper)

That’s Experimental Religion.

I spent all of January in South Texas witnessing to Spanish speaking folks, most of February in Guatemala. Terri and I are in Port Arthur, Texas right now and until further notice reaching out to Hispanics from Central and South America and Mexico who live in this area. This is in between trips out of the country. I was in Mexico in March.

Love in Christ,

March 13, 1962

This newsletter will not go out for a week or two, but it is important to me that I write it today, March 13, 2012.  Fifty years ago today, I was born again.

My parents had not been raised in church.  They might have been to a funeral or wedding in a church building, but that was the extent of it.  When I was about four, Mom and Dad decided that I needed to be raised differently.  They must have seen by then a clear illustration of the doctrine of human depravity (me) and recognized they were going to need some help.  I like to think I was used of the Spirit as an evangelist unawares to bring my folks to Christ!  They visited several denominations and settled on First Baptist, Nashville, Arkansas, Bro. Lonnie Lassater, pastor.  My recollection of Bro. Lonnie was a huge pile of catfish bones in front his plate.  That man could catch and eat some fish.  He was also a fisher of men.  Mom and Dad were saved in his office.  I also distinctly remember having a crush on the Lassaters’ daughter, Wynonne.  She was an older woman, maybe seven or eight.

Within six weeks, with zero knowledge and tremendous hunger for the Word of God, my Dad was called to preach the Gospel.  So, I grew up in a Southern Baptist pastor’s home.

But God has no grandchildren.

My first remembrance of the work of the Holy Spirit in my life was at the age of six.  An evangelist, the only one my Dad ever used (besides me) was preaching a revival meeting at our church, Bradley Baptist, Bradley, Oklahoma.  He had us bow our heads, and then raise our hands if we wanted to be saved.  I bowed my head, I raised my hand, I went to the front of the church with several others when he invited us to do so.  No one paid any attention to me that I remember.  Actually, I thank the Lord today that no one did, that no one led me a prayer or told me I was saved.  I wasn’t ready.  I know people who really were saved at that age and even younger, our oldest son, for instance.  But it was just the beginnings of awakening for me.

Conviction of sin came and went for nearly four years.  But for several months during my ninth year, the intensity built to an excruciating crescendo until I thought I might literally die without Christ.  I’m not saying everyone has to have the same kind of experience, I’m just telling you mine.  The last few weeks before my conversion were unbearable.  I really don’t know how I survived those days mentally, physically, emotionally or spiritually.  And I cannot explain it.  With just a little thought today, fifty years later, I can still feel the utter anguish of soul.  I simply cannot find the words to describe it.  I remember a few days before I was saved, lying on my back on my twin bed in the parsonage, in the middle of the day, crying and begging God to save me.  But He didn’t, not yet.  I have no idea if any one else knew I was struggling, but I know no one had an inkling of the spiritual war going on in me that I thought was going to destroy me.  I used to imagine myself in Hell, on my knees, with flames all around me, praying, and hoping that after a few million years, God would have mercy on me and allow me to go to Heaven to be with my family.  Not very good theology, but it was real to this nine year.

It was another revival meeting, a Wednesday night.  The assistant editor of the Baptist Messenger, the Oklahoma state paper, Leland Webb was preaching.  He later became editor of Commission Magazine.  He gave the invitation.  My Dad, the pastor was standing in front of the Lord’s Supper table waiting to receive any who might come.  I was on the front row, just to my Dad’s left, close enough to reach up and touch him.  I thought I was going to explode! I wanted Jesus more than life itself.  I started to stand up and tell my Dad I wanted to be saved.  Someone behind me grabbed me by the shoulder and forcibly pushed me back down.  I turned to see who it was, and there was no one even close to me.  I have no adult explanation for that.  Use your imagination; I did as a nine year old.

The invitation closed.  A closing prayer was offered.  At the Amen I ran out of church and rushed home.  The parsonage was in the same yard as the church.  I went through the screened-in back porch and in the back door to the kitchen.  I don’t know how she beat me home, but Mom was in the kitchen preparing the preacher, the singer and my Dad something to eat.  I said. ‘Momma, I want to be a Christian.’  That’s all I could get out verbally, but four years of conviction and spiritual agony came gushing out.  Mom took me by the hand, led me through the dining room, through the double French doors into the wood floored living room, past the fireplace, to the other end of the room.  She sat in an over-stuffed chair and I sat on a large footstool at her feet. She took her old King James Bible and explained the Gospel to me.  She prayed.  Then I prayed.  I was born all over again! It was for me, and is for everyone who has experienced it, the greatest miracle of all.  I realize the following statement is not true for many, if not, most believers.  But I have never had a moment’s doubt.  For some reason, the Holy Spirit chose to grant me perfect assurance right from the start.

I just wanted you to know.

In the love of Christ,

Dan Grindstaff