Saturday, August 15, 2009

Revive us again . . .

By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer

The revival is Protestant Christian in nature - but how, when and where it is celebrated depends on who you ask.
Each denomination has its own style of revival, but some elements are the same, no matter what church you attend.
There's always prayer, a speaker, singing and scripture reading.
'It is meant to draw people in the church and revive the ones who are already there,' said the Rev. Roscoe Harrison, pastor of Eighth Street Baptist Church in Temple. 'It renews us as Christians and gives us the strength to continue our work for the Lord.
'A lot of people get burned out on their faith - even pastors. When someone new comes in to speak, there's the same message with a fresh energy and fresh perspective. It lets us recharge our focus.'

The differences
According to theology scholars, there are two main branches of revival.
'One group uses revival to exorcise the devil out of afflicted souls, cast out demons and heal everything from cancer to blindness,' said Dr. Richard McDaniel, professor in evangelical history at two Houston universities. 'The other doesn't. They believe in seeking out a new excitement for Christ and praying for a heart that's at peace. Sometimes that means forgiveness, sometimes that means a release of stress. That can be called 'warding off evil' or 'heart healing.''
The first group McDaniel mentioned includes what he calls the charismatic religions, the Pentecostal church, the Church of God, Assembly of God and some non-denominational groups.
The second group includes the Baptists, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Presbyterians and Methodists.
'The two branches have been known to overlap in history,' McDaniel said. 'Sometimes a Baptist will ward off the devil. But it's not the norm.'
The idea of the homecoming or reunion revival is another practice that tends to overlap the branches.
'That happens more often,' McDaniel said. 'That's when former members of the church are invited back for a week of special prayer, or when old pastors return to the pulpit for a special message. Many, many churches practice that aspect, sometimes two or three times a year.'
All revivals tend to include a call to the altar.
'That's where people are offered the chance to give or renew their hearts to Christ before the congregation,' McDaniel said. 'It's a call to faith, the gift of salvation.'
Regarding the Catholic Church, McDaniel said revivals do not typically take place.
'They experience revival in spirit, of course,' he said. 'But they do not typically have services like the ones we are talking about.'
To learn about the charismatic revivals, the professor said www.pcusa.org is a good site to visit.

Two revivals
Summer seems to be a popular time for revivals in Temple. More than a dozen have taken place since June.
Dominion Life Chapel had a revival on Aug. 12.
Tom Brown, who is featured each week on the El Paso religious show 'Bondage Breaker,' was the guest. Details of his reputation include miraculous healings and casting out demons.
'This revival is about a night of testimony and a night of conference with God,' said the Rev. Enoch Agunanne of Dominion Life. 'We will give up our stress and take the chance to dance. The revival will let woman be woman, it will let man be man and it will let God be here.'
Throughout the multi-hour revival, several people participated, from babies to seniors. They were invigorated - clapping, dancing and raising their hands to the sky.
'Mr. Brown is going to teach us,' said co-pastor Ij Agunanne of Dominion Life. 'He will teach us all about warding off the devil, and we are so excited.'
Last week's revival at Eighth Street Baptist Church took on a different tone.
'Two speakers came in to talk on the theme of 'Church out of order,'' said the Rev. Harrison.
The message, Harrison said, was that churches have become more like businesses - focused on making money and increasing attendance.
'But it's not about numbers,' Harrison said. 'It's about saving souls, reaching out to the community, being benevolent, charitable and loving. That's what we used our revival for.'
Though the two approaches to revival were different in nature, they still had a common element: a love for Christ.
'That's what makes us (Christians) brothers,' McDaniel said.

Some more opinions
-- 'You normally want the best evangelist to come and speak at your revival. It's a serious matter that requires a good deal of prayer. The speaker's got to bring new life into the church, and that takes a special quality,' said the Rev. Harlan Haines, First Baptist Church of Troy.
-- 'To revive the faith is to remember that Jesus is at the center and that He is the reason for salvation,' said Chaplain Steve Neatherlin, founder of Humble House Ministries.
-- 'Revival is a wonderful atmosphere. It keeps worship from becoming too mundane. The speakers that come in should be the very best,' said the Rev. Tom Robbins, First United Methodist Church in Temple.
-- 'A deliverance revival is where we pray for a person to be healed from whatever their hang-up is, like addiction to drugs or pornography. That's casting out evil because it's a prayer answered. And it's better than any 12-step program I know of,' said Harry Thrasher, First Assembly of God in Belton.
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Did you know?
The Spirit of Revival magazine says these elements are core to any revival: Prayer, devotions, forgiveness, humility, honesty, holiness, obedience, clear conscience, purity, spiritual life, repentance and grace. Source: www.lifeaction.org

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