The Power Of Surrender
by Michael Catt, pastor, author and executive producer of Facing the Giants and Fireproof
I am a man who lives with the thought of “What if?” What if God sent revival to my heart? To our church? To our land? What would change? What would we do away with? What would we begin doing? Where would it take us? What if we were willing to lay hold of the altar and not let go until the Lord blessed us and changed our lives? What if we stopped our conniving and started a concentrated emphasis on seeking Him?
We’ll never know if we never start.
The late Ron Dunn was pastor of MacArthur Boulevard Baptist Church in Irving, Texas. During Ron’s pastorate, God moved in that church, and they lived in revival for nearly five years. Ron and I often talked about those days. He longed to see one more move of God like that before he died. In trying to summarize the experiences of this remarkable season, he wrote that it could “only be described as earthquake power, a power that transformed the countenance and composure of our church,” marked by the following results:
Shaken with an overwhelming awareness of God’s presence. Without a doubt the greatest thing that’s happened is this: Jesus has become real. God is no longer something we pray at, but a Father we pray to. The actuality of the indwelling Spirit has become a reality. Milkshake religion has become an earthquake experience, shaken with unbroken unity and harmony. One heart and one soul. The fiery heart of the Holy Spirit melted differences and welded hearts together in a loving fellowship that grows sweeter each time we meet to worship.
Shaken with supernatural power for living and witnessing. God has consistently done “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.” We’ve seen things happen that two years ago we would have never believed. People who never witnessed before (never had the course!) found themselves gossiping about Jesus wherever they went. Sinful habits and attitudes have been conquered through the power of the Holy Spirit. We’ve come to know that if it isn’t supernatural, it’s superficial.
Shaken with an overflowing liberality. Until revival came, we had never met a budget in our church’s history! Then the Holy Spirit revealed a fixed law of heaven. When a man’s lordship is right, his stewardship will be right! The issue isn’t “Will you tithe?” but “Is Jesus Lord?” With no budget drives or pledge campaigns of any sort, we have met our budget and finished the year with no unpaid bills—and have tripled our giving to world missions.
Shaken with a knowledge that it is God’s doing. What has happened in the past two years, the increased growth in every single area of church life, is not—I repeat, is not—the result of hard work, clever programs, keen administration, intelligent leadership, etc. It is the result of God’s Spirit breathing new life into these old bones. And nobody knows it better than this pastor. God forbid that we should ever glory in any of these things.
It is not overstating the issue to say that revival is our key to survival. The Bride of Christ today is unkempt, tangled up in secondary issues, dirty and defiled. We have been unfaithful to our Savior. We are like the people in the days of Hosea, guilty of spiritual adultery. Surely we don’t want to meet the Bridegroom in the shape we are in right now. We need to pray for the “something more” that God wants for His Bride. We need a wind from heaven and a housecleaning. We need a purging and a purifying. It may seem that things can’t get worse, but they can. The hour is late; the time is now. We must surrender ourselves to God in total abandonment.
There is power in surrender.
I had a roommate in college who didn’t like the word surrender when associated with the Christian life. He thought the word was offensive. I find it refreshing. It’s an admission that “I can’t, but He can.” It’s the awareness of my desperate need for something or someone to lift me out of the miry clay and set my feet on solid rock.
We need God to rend the heavens. We need the Spirit to blow out the cobwebs of carnality. We must see a return to holiness. We don’t need help; we need deliverance.
Much like the days prior to the American Revolution, this nation is immoral. Out of a population of five million in 1776, as many as 300,000 were confirmed drunkards. Profanity was common. The streets were not safe to walk on. At the same time, the churches were dying. The Methodists were losing more than they could add. The Baptists struggled with the same problem. One Congregational church did not have one new member in sixteen years. The Lutherans were so weak in number that they talked about uniting with the Episcopalians, who were in equally bad shape. The chief justice of the United States, John Marshall, wrote to the bishop of Virginia, saying the church was “too far gone ever to be redeemed.” Thomas Paine said, “Christianity will be forgotten in thirty years.” Universities like Harvard and Princeton, founded for the training of preachers and missionaries, could only count two in their number who claimed to be believers. Only five at Princeton were not a part of the filthy speech movement. There were anti-Christian plays at Dartmouth. It was a dark hour.
But it was dark enough for the remnant to seek the light. Jonathan Edwards was so burdened by the need for revival, he wrote a book with this remarkably long but passionate title: A Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union of all God’s People in Extraordinary Prayer for the Revival of Religion and the Advancement of Christ’s Kingdom on Earth, Pursuant to Scripture Promises and Prophecies. In due time the first Great Awakening was born as the result of desperate praying and seeking the Lord. The impact on our nation is still felt in part by those who know the true history of America.
The last great revival in Western Civilization was probably the Welsh Revival of 1904. It began in prayer. A Presbyterian preacher named Seth Joshua prayed in a meeting, “O God, bend us.” A young coal miner turned ministry student, Evan Roberts, was in the crowd that night. He went to his room and prayed, “O God, bend me!” From the depths of God’s dealing with his heart, he began leading prayer meetings with young people, putting forth his four keys to revival: 1) You must confess any known sin to God and put any wrong done to others right; 2) You must put away any doubtful habit; 3) You must obey the Spirit promptly; 4) You must confess your faith in Christ publicly.
The resulting impact on Wales was undeniable. The names of those saved were listed in the newspapers. Police officers formed quartets to sing in churches because there was no crime. There were no reported rapes, burglaries, or murders. The mules in the mines had to be retrained because the miners no longer beat them and cursed but sang songs and praised God. Even the mules could tell that revival had come!
That is the purpose of this book—to raise the possibility of another movement of God. There are many excellent books on revival; I have more than a hundred in my library. But unfortunately most of them speak of revivals long since forgotten. We need a twenty-first-century movement of God the next generation will talk about. We need God once again to move in our midst in these last days.
My prayer is that this book will spur your thoughts about revival. It is my hope that you will take some of the principles you learn here and incorporate them in your personal life and in the life of your church. Unless we have revival, we are sunk. Having been marked and influenced by men who have seen revival, longed for revival, and preached the need for revival, I pray that this simple book will have a profound effect on your life. The need of the hour is for a prophet and a people who will not settle for status quo.
The church today is guilty of having her ear to the ground and a finger in the air to see what the trends are and where things are headed. We need a prophet to call us to revival, one who cares little for what people think, one who will get alone with God and say what God says without any fear of man or the consequences.
We do not lack today for preachers who seek the strategic pulpit and the big church. What we lack is someone who will preach repentance and not stutter or blink. God sends prophets just before He sends judgment. If judgment is coming—and I believe it is—then we’d better start praying for a prophet and heeding his words before it’s too late. We need an Amos or an Elijah or a John the Baptist who will not settle for business as usual. We need men to match our mountains. We need camelknee Christians who wear themselves out before the throne of
God, pleading for divine intervention.
Our churches do not need another tune-up of old programs or a face lift. We need an overhaul. We need fire in our bones, in our sermons, and in our hearts. It’s not too late. God is looking for a remnant, for kindling wood He can use to start the fires of revival.
And it all begins with surrender.
How I pray I’ll live long enough to see it. I want it for my church, for myself, and for my children. I don’t want them to live their whole lives without seeing a mighty move of God.
Taken from The Power of Surrender by Michael Catt. Copyright © 2010 by Michael Catt. Used by permission of B&H Publishing Group. All rights reserved.