Over this past Christmas holiday, while crossing over the pass, I asked the Holy Spirit a question. "What was it that drove the devotion and sacrifice of the circuit riders of the Second Great Awakening?"
If you did not know, during the second great awakening in America, Oregon had upwards of 150 circuit riders covering the state with Awakening - Revival - Equipping ministry. Circuit riders traveled via horseback on geographic "circuits" throughout Oregon carrying and proclaiming the Kingdom Gospel with boldness, grace, and power. Following the Spirit and the "welcome of the Saints", these stalwart and courageous Saints preached the Gospel, established new prayer groups and house churches in homes and really anywhere people would commit to gathering. They blessed the churches that welcomed them and poured encouragement, comfort, and strength in Jesus Christ on a geographic area with repeated visits and continuous vibrancy in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit's power. They partnered with churches and ministries throughout their circuit continuously witnessing and bringing a fiery grace and deep commitment to Jesus Christ.
They also suffered a great deal. As Kel and I were coming back over the mountain to Redmond, it was pouring rain. Dumping rain. I reflected on the fact that a circuit rider would have traveled in any condition to reach the next meeting, including this winter downpour. Enduring everything for the sake of the Saints, they prided themselves on never missing a meeting. Having no place to lay their head - unless the Saints provided it - they slept in barns, in the open snow, in the forest, anywhere they could find shelter. "The traveling minister (Circuit Rider) in the Methodist Church was noted for his self-sacrificing spirit. He endured hardships in the ministry which few men of the present age can fathom." (Methodist Circuit Riders in America, 1766-1844. BY WILLIAM A. POWELL, JR. - here is a link to this thesis - http://scholarship.richmond.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1836&context=masters-theses )
The cost of AWAKENING? A great deal of very hard work, fueled by love and mixed with grace through faith, it's a visual on laying down your life for your friends.
These men and women of faith poured out an offering, co-laboring in partnership with Jesus and his great mission to humanity, bring the whole world back to a relationship with God through the Gospel of the Kingdom.
Without a powerful and compelling understanding of the Gospel and the Kingdom's mission through the abundant, boundless, victorious Gospel of Jesus Christ,
and without a dynamic Scripture defining "what is possible by faith" such sacrifice, fortitude, endurance, patience, and HOPE, is not possible.
And Scriptures says, "Nothing is impossible with God".
I propose this is the real point of where we struggle these days. When it comes to seeing the exploits of the Kingdom in the motions of the average believer and the day to day of the average church. We are trying to crack the code, find the perfect missional strategy, speak the right thing in the right moment all without simple compelling obedience to the Holy Spirit. We presume that our insight is required, rather than the simple marks of Christ that come from with a "yes" to the Spirit's lead. In so doing we bypass the greatest power and hold back the moral force of the Gospel, locking down its explosive and creative reality.
When we go, the Gospel creates its own opportunity.
A small team planted a new house church in 3.5 weeks in Dubai - dreams, prophecy, divine appointments, Kingdom timing, simple obedience - the powerful creative reality of the Gospel creating its own opportunity.
When we go. Yea. When do we go? The modern church is all about when they come to us. About linking everything to organizational progress. Is organizational progress and the advance of the Kingdom of God the same thing? In our expert insights, we've diluted and distorted the Gospel into a strange and unusual offering. What I need for a good life. Definitely not compelling enough to send us out into the ripe fields of harvest.
An ekklesia without going? A gathering of Jesus followers that never sends with sacrifice? Is that really part of the ekklesia of Jesus? The modern church is now such a mixture, such a Pergamum, of fragmented ideas and strategies it is nearly impossible to capture the "Circuit Rider HOPE".
The amazing thing is the Gospel itself carries the creative opportunity when it is put in motion. And the Holy Spirit knows exactly how to put the Gospel in motion. If he could just get a "yes" from a few of us, the entire landscape could change. And yes, most likely this will lead to some strenuous work for those co-laborers with Christ who say "yes". A yes puts in motion the great promise of Jesus, "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life." Matthew 19:29
What a yes will lead to is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. It will lead to the ekklesia of Christ Jesus breaking out into awakening. It will remind us of the deepest love and farthest shores the Father will send Jesus to for our redemption. It will remind us of our apostolic foundation and of a love so compelling, the love of the way of the cross.
When we placing a high value on "walking in the Spirit" the value system of the churches meritocracy will give way to first love and simple obedience with a "nothing is impossible" prayer life. Which when linked with the going grace and creative power of the Gospel, will propel us into co-laboring with Christ. This linking of first love, simple obedience and the power of prayer and going with the Gospel roots us in abiding in Jesus in such a way as many have longed for. Close to Jesus and walking as he did, what is seen in the book of Acts starts happening around us.
The early Circuit Riders were on to something powerful.
They were also into someone powerful. Whose compelling love drove them past their suffering into the most creative and powerful reality known to humanity, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.....