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This Is a Move

A snapshot from what many are calling a revival at Asbury University, before the gathering outgrew the chapel.

Christians of every ilk have boldly expressed their opinions about the events taking shape at Asbury University over the past two weeks. Some are calling it a revival and celebrating the heartfelt outpouring of worship and reverence for the Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated by hundreds of college students and modern-day pilgrims crowding the campus chapel. Others have expressed skepticism and question whether the gathering is driven by emotionalism or social media hype. Still others are wagging a collective finger of correction, saying the group at Asbury is not preaching repentance or sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, or that they are being programmed by nefarious puppeteers in high places.

To all of this I say, “Peace. Be still.”

The seas of the Christian church are roaring, and what should be viewed as an outpouring of love and an expression of God’s glory instead has caused discord between believers. As those professing faith in Christ dig in their heels on their preferred narrative and shoot flaming arrows at anyone who does not agree with their personal assessment, the world is watching. So is God, and I believe His heart is grieved.

“In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, ‘Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.’ …I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.” (Luke 12:4, 8-9 ESV)

The Apostle John exhorted believers to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1 John 4:1). But there is a difference between testing the spirits and casting judgment. To malign the corporal worship at Asbury University is to assume we know and understand exactly how God wants to move among the younger generation, and the way He will move across our nation. To speak anything negative without visiting the gathering firsthand is gossip at best, slander at worst. And statements like, “It’s no different than a Hillsong concert” or “These people are deceived” may be born of pride or even personal trauma rather than discernment. Who are we to question where or how God chooses to reveal Himself? Who are we to judge whether those lifting their hands in worship have a personal relationship with the risen Savior? Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).

John the Beloved goes on to write:
“By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:2-4 ESV)

Little children.

Many of these students are babes in Christ. Many are new believers; others may be born again on the spot as they encounter the unadulterated love of God for themselves. Have they heard the gospel? I don’t know. I wasn’t there. Odds are, neither were you. So, how can one who has not personally born witness to the message preached at Asbury claim with certainty that the conversions are insincere, or the assembly misguided in the manner in which they choose to pursue Christ?

I have read testimonies of Muslims who came to faith in Messiah because Jesus visited them in a dream. I have heard stories of people radically saved out of drug and alcohol addiction not because they read a gospel tract or warmed a church pew, but because they cried out to our merciful God and Father from the tear-stained tiles of a bathroom floor. Do we dare scrutinize the merit of a gathering centered around the adoration of the King of kings? Do we dare question the intentions of those who chose to visit the chapel and see for themselves, or believe God would turn a blind eye, should wicked people want to lead them astray?

Photo by Thalia Michelle on Facebook.

“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him…. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
(1 John 4:15-16, 20-21 ESV)

Love does not mean condoning wrong doctrine or accepting unacceptable behavior. But it does mean assuming the best of people. It means bridling tongue and text before posting skepticism or judgment on social media.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV)

Do not quench the Spirit. From the videos I have seen and the first-person testimonies I have read, the events taking place at Asbury are reverential. Beautiful. Holy. No one has documented hysterical fits of laughter or shouting. No one is staking claim to the pulpit, hawking their wares, or pushing their personal agenda. 

Jesus told Peter to feed His sheep. Those of us who have been sitting at the feet of Jesus for many years have a tremendous responsibility to not only demonstrate the love of Christ—the humility, patience, and faith of the Savior—but to protect the “little children.” We are called to make disciples and to encourage and exhort one another in the faith, not criticize one another’s maturity or zeal.

If you have a concern that those gathered at Asbury University are being led astray by hirelings or that wolves in sheep’s clothing have infiltrated the flock, I exhort you to go examine the matter for yourself. Get in the car. Book a flight. Go, but go with an open mind.

And if you won’t go, then pray. Pray for God to cover His people—believers young and old from every walk of life—and to protect them from any scheme of the enemy. God is not a man that He should lie, and He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Those in Christ are the children of Abraham, and God’s prophetic promises to His sons and daughters still hold true today:

“‘No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me’ says the Lord” (Isaiah 54:17 NKJV).

Watch. Pray. And have faith. Thanks to the gathering at Asbury University, conversations about Jesus have spilled over into the mainstream media. God is on the move, and I can promise, you ain’t seen nothing yet. 💙

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.” (Isaiah 43:18-21 ESV)

“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” (Revelation 7:9-10 NKJV)  

February 18, 2023   Comments Off on This Is a Move

Two In One

Some days, I wonder what Craig is doing. Is he keeping busy in heaven, coming up with business ideas for our world that the Lord will share with someone else? Does he have a celestial kitchen to whip up creative cuisine the way he did here on earth? Can Craig come and go along Jacob’s ladder, ministering to the broken on another continent, like a Green Beret for God’s kingdom?

Does he see me?

In marriage, the two become one flesh. Craig put off his earthly body, but my flesh is still here, and in a way, he still is here, too. I am sure he’s busy about the Father’s work in some form or fashion I can’t understand. But through the deep imprint on my soul, Craig is also busy through me.

Our shared experience in business informs my pursuit of new ventures to bring hope to the hurting through books and speaking. His playful approach to cooking gives me courage in the kitchen and inspires me to share goodies with family and friends. And when I minister to someone experiencing hardship, I hear his words of wisdom leave my lips. The person I am today reflects the person Craig was to me. He taught me to share love more freely.

These are the things I ponder, as the holidays draw near and Craig’s birthday approaches. The thought of carrying his legacy gives me comfort. I’m no longer running by his side, but I carry the baton for this last leg of the race. Team Thompson for Team Jesus.

I don’t know whether he sees me, but I see Craig in me. The love of Christ connects us still. So I give him a hug in my heart, as we pass another milestone. His words of encouragement echo in my soul, and I look forward to another day to be about our Father’s work.

December 6, 2022   Comments Off on Two In One