A Revivalist Manifesto

I have always wanted a tribe to belong to. Every since I was a little girl, I’ve looked around for a group that I identified with, that I could belong to and be accepted by, and that I felt really expressed me! I think we all have that desire.

When I was a kid, it was “the good kids.” I wanted to be counted with the keds wearing, bob-haired smarty pants that sat in the front row and knew all the answers.

When I got a little older, it was the dancers. Let me please be seen as a ballet girl! Bun wearing, daydreaming, thin and etheral and graceful. It merged for me into theater person- black turtleneck, beatnik poet, sometime artist type who quoted Shakespeare and knew all the lyrics to an obscure Soundheim musical.

And then I found revival.

I didn’t know what it was at first. You see, I grew up in church and had always heard of the cross, the throne of heaven, the way, the truth, and the light. Church-y accomplishments merged with good girl ways really easily, and if I was a dancer and a singer and sometimes an artist, well, the church allowed drama and music, didn’t it?

But when I was about 14, I had a taste of revival. I was at youth group, my favorite thing, and our youth leader showed us a VHS (because it was the 90’s) of a revival that was going on in Florida. And the part it showed was about 3 testimonies by youth who had… well, been revived. The last one was a testimony by a girl who stood up with her mother, and she was so shaken by the Lord that she was literally, physically, shaking. She started telling her testimony- about how she had been one way, and then she MET THE LORD. And she used this phrase- “I was lukewarm, but now I’m HOT!”

My sanguine, goofy self was mesmerized. What did this mean? I remembered, because I was a good girl who knew my bible, about how in Revelation Jesus says, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

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I had heard that before, but I had never actually, really, seen someone who had gone from lukewarm to HOT! I was shaken. I started crying. The video ended and all the other youth started chatting and going away to the game room, but I just sat on the carpet in the front row of the sanctuary and kept crying. My friends tried to comfort me and bring me in to the games and snacks, but I was just completely wrecked. I pushed them off and almost, really, was having a panic attack.

What did it mean? What did it mean that she was lukewarm, but then she was hot? Was I lukewarm? How would I know? Did Jesus call me lukewarm? I was completely devastated at the thought. Everything I had cared about, everything, just completely disappeared and all I could do was sob. Eventually my youth leader came back in the room and found me, and even he couldn’t help. He prayed with me, and called my mom, and she came and picked me up, because games and snacks and chatting with my crush had lost all interest to me.

Instead, I became completely oriented on this question: How can I know God?

I was just completely changed. I refused, from that moment, to be content with the idea that maybe I was lukewarm. I HAD TO BE HOT.

A lot has happened in my life since then. I’ve been on a steady pursuit of him really, ever since that day.

But let me go back to the group/identity thing.

After I became really HOT for the Lord, I started looking for a group of other people like that. Part of me, the optimist, naive part of me, assumed that I had been in the minority. Probably most Christians were hot, and it was just me that had been lukewarm. I started going into my christian environments and social groups assuming that EVERYONE loved the Lord, and was passionate to know him.

But I bet you can guess what happened.

I very quickly realized that HOT people were rare.

Actually, I kept assuming for a very, very long time that somewhere out there was a church or a group or a denomination that was all full of HOT people. I kept searching. Was it people at bible school? Or people in the conservative church? Maybe it was people who worked at a christian camp.

Wherever I went, I was looking for that place- where I would be finally in a group of people that were like me! Let’s us HOT people join together and be a happy group where I fit in and feel like I’m finally at home!

But it never happened. Instead, I made friends here and there. I got married, had children, moved states, moved again. Everywhere I went I felt… like I was searching for my group. I grew dissatisfied with my pentacostal church, my mennonite church, my baptist church. I just kept thinking… there has to be a group out there where I fit in and where everyone is hot! And it never happened. In every group, no matter how good their doctrine and purpose is, there were lots of people who know of the Lord, but just didn’t care to KNOW him.

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I have been very discouraged about this. I thought about just never going to church again. Sometimes, I’ve thought- “I’ll just keep looking. The group I’m looking at is just probably somewhere else!”

But guess what. Recently I had a huge breakthrough about this.

I realized: I am hot. I am OBSESSED with knowing the Lord. I want to know him in every way- I want to search the Scriptures, and submit every millimeter of my will to him, I want to serve and love with abandon. I want to worship and dance like David did. I want to lay on my face in the tent of meeting like Joshua did. I want to experience every amazing, mysterious, overwhelming encounter possible with the Holy Spirit, and I want to tell every person I can possibly talk to about the good news of what Jesus has done on the cross!

And I am never, ever, going to find a group of people here on earth where they ALL feel like that.

My local church will always be filled with people who are on every spectrum of the faith scale. Hot, mild, medium, lukewarm, cool, and even… cold and dead.

The church, the congregation near me, is imperfect. And sometimes it can drive me crazy.

But I am a revivalist.

Revivalist: (n.) one who is dedicated to seeing something revived.

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I am a revivalist. I finally found my identity! After all this time of wondering what group I can identify with- Pentacostal or Baptist or Mennonite, plain ol’ Christian or maybe Christ-follower or believer, evangelical or WHATEVER… I found it! I’m a revivalist!

I am 100% committed to wholeheartedly following in Jesus’ footsteps. I want to know him more than I want to live.

AND I am committed to reviving the church.

I fully believe that my gifts and my passion are not for me. I have not been blessed with a passion for the Lord for my own benefit, (although, man does it bless me!) I have been called to breathe FIRE into the church of God!

I’m not supposed to find 10-100 people just like me, and hang out with them and enjoy them and just please ourselves with how much fun it is to talk about what the Lord is doing and how we’ve found him lately! Although, man, what fun it is when I get to do it.

I am supposed to be here, in the middle of my local congregation. I’m supposed to be a burning brand of hot fire, filled with the Spirit, and submitted to him fully, serving him and them and loving him and them and being an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

I am a revivalist, and I am sometimes alone, even when I am surrounded. Sometimes I feel like I could just burst because I want so much more than I feel like the people around me want. But when I am discontent with my community, I drive a wedge between us. I cause my heart to grow colder towards the Lord, I quench the Spirit.

But the opposite is true! When I look on the people around me with love, no matter how cold or mild they are, I can sometimes influence them and minister to them, and warm them up by helping them to glimpse a little how much HE loves them!

And pretty soon, the more I have blessed the people around me, the more they catch fire, too, and I am not alone, a little black ember of coal in a dead wood, but a bright blazing fire in the middle of a happy burning bonfire!!

Isn’t it fun!?

I am so excited to think that maybe, possibly, I’ve been given the beautiful gift of being HOT so that I can go out and set the church on fire, breathe life and hope into people of all temperatures, until the whole church is ablaze with a fire of love for him!!

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Okay so that is my manifesto. I am a revivalist. I love the Lord, and I’m not ashamed of it. I’m not saying I’m perfect, I’m not even saying I’m good! Those who know me well will tell you how I get frustrated easily and I struggle with being selfish and self-centered, and I get discouraged. Please know that when I write about being hot and feeling like I’m the only hot one, I’m not trying in any way to make myself seem… better or holier. YUCK NO!!! I guess… I look at it like, He loves me so much. He loves ALL of us so much! I am so overwhelmed with how good his love is, and how wonderful it is to rest in that love, and abide in it… And I think my HOT is just because somehow I got a glimpse of that love, and I think if ANYONE could get that glimpse, they’d be just like me! Because HE IS SO AMAZING AND HIS LOVE IS SO BEAUTIFUL!!

Okay that’s all I have to say!

Brianna

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