Honoring God and Asbury University
As I have been reflecting on the Asbury Awakening1, I have found myself conflicted by the “conversation” happening among those not in Wilmore.
As an outsider and spectator, I want to make sure my heart is in a posture of humility. I don’t want to be dismissive or in denial regarding what is taking place.
I also don’t want to assume “ownership” or “rights” to something I have not prayed for specifically and have not been laboring for intentionally.
Let me say it bluntly. What’s happening at Asbury is not MY revival. It’s not OUR revival. My participation in it is tertiary at best. And even though I thought about making a trip, I’ve decided against it.
Whatever benefits I may glean from what God is doing in Kentucky, it will be to praise him for visiting a people who have called for a special impartation of his presence. Other than that, it would be improper and disingenuous of me to go there and try to reap where others have sown.
I don’t need a spiritual fix. The students, faculty, and staff of Asbury don’t have to prove anything to me. And God doesn’t need to verify his purposes with me so I can put my stamp of approval on it. Please just sit down with that foolishness!
Discernment is a Process, not a Weapon
My temperament is generally “wait and see.” Not out of disinterest in what is happening. I have been filled with so much joy seeing what God has been doing. Reading and hearing the testimonies have encouraged me profoundly.
I am the type of person who trusts that if what is taking place is of God it will last and if it’s not, it will pass. Over the years I have learned that discernment is a process we grow into. We must never use it as a weapon to manipulate others to our way of seeing or doing things.
Either way, God is neither flustered nor bothered by my response or lack thereof. There do appear to be some who have been. And I think it’s right to offer some clarifying counsel on the tone of this conversation.
When we do not make assessing our presuppositions and bias a part of the discernment process, we invariably make avoidable errors. We will become the very people we are warning against. And, what’s worse, we may do it with a self-righteous spirit.
So, with that in mind, I would like to offer some thoughts.
Maturity takes Time
As I’ve grown older, I hope I have also grown wiser. But, only the trust of others can confirm that. Maturity takes time. And the reason it does is that some things have to be seen, felt, and even tasted in order to properly understand them.
Here are some of the thoughts I have been processing as I have been reading, watching, praying, and sharing with some friends and colleagues.
As with anything in life, we are almost always dealing with tension created by opposing forces. So what are those forces at play here? I will provide some examples to help us move the discussion along.
There is honest questioning.
There is dishonest questioning.
How do we tell the difference?
I’ve been asking myself this for the last few days.
As a pastor, I have to navigate between my role as a shepherd of souls and my life as a disciple. And it’s at the intersection of those two realities in my life that I find clarity.
If my motivation is wisdom, truth, genuineness, and the advancement of the kingdom, then I am leaning toward honesty.
But if what is happening needs to prove to me that it’s real, then I’m leaning toward the dishonesty side.
Being concerned for the well-being of another’s soul is honest. Being concerned about a “Simon the magician” (Acts 8:9-24) getting some air time is dishonest.
Desiring that more people experience a renewal of faith or the start of it is honest. Being concerned that people are going to miss out on the “real thing” is dishonest.
Voicing caution because of the temptation to sensationalize and even force a move of God is honest. Hyperventilating about how this move of God is not like or not as good as others is dishonest.
Beware the Sin of Pride
Once again, I sense there are some of us who are looking at the right things in the wrong ways. Fighting for something while undermining it in an attempt to “protect” it.
We should take care of how we speak. For we may be speaking out of turn!
The following clip always reminds me of this. God knows what He’s doing.
We esteem our wisdom too highly; our maturity too quickly; our discernment too prescriptive; and our longing more passionate than it truly burns.
When God shows up, the mouths of fools are shut, the strength of muscles melts like wax, and the thirst of parched souls is satiated.
I’ve seen that in my own life and journey with God. And I’m seeing glimpses of that now at Asbury. Even from a distance.
That doesn’t mean it’s “perfect.” Nothing handled by human beings ever is. But just because it’s not how I would do it doesn’t make it wrong or “less than” what God can use.
We must be careful not to become the appraisers of the quality of God’s plans. That is a very dangerous position to assume.
If there are those trying to take center stage for selfish reasons, they will be revealed. And no one will pay them any mind.
So let not your hearts be troubled. The king is still reigning. And he is more than capable of sorting out the wheat from the chaff than we are. Or ever will be.
- I would like to give credit to Dr. Timothy Tennent for using this framing of what is happening at Asbury