Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Something Unusual


“Five Prayer Meetings Go Round the Clock” – Washington, D.C.

“City’s Biggest Church Packed Twice Daily for Prayer” – New Haven, CT

“Ice on the Mohawk Broken for Baptisms” – Schenectady, NY

These were actual headlines in American newspapers during the 1857-1858 Prayer Revival that swept across our nation.

In the midst of great moral decay, a decline in religion, and a pending financial banking collapse, God was at work. Jeremiah Lanphier invited people to pray with him in an old church building at noon on 09/23/1857 in New York City. Six people gathered. The next week it was twenty and the next forty.

Prayer meetings sprung up all over the city, and in six months, 50,000 people were meeting daily for prayer. The services were marked by spontaneity in hymn singing, Bible reading, but primarily intercession for spiritual needs.

The revival spread to other cities. Church historian J. Edwin Orr believed nearly one million people were converted those two years. With no well-known leader, this movement was marked by churches in the same region of differing traditions and denominations, united for the cause of revival.

In Charleston, South Carolina, revival broke out at Anson Street Presbyterian Chu
rch, which had 48 black members and 12 white. Walton Yuen writes, “In the summer of 1857, the church’s pastor, John Girardeau pressed his congregation to begin to seek intently for another great spiritual awakening, awaiting a fresh outpouring of the Spirit again. The church fervently started to pray. They even set aside the normal preaching services in order to focus on crying out to Heaven. The congregants labored in prayer for months on end.”

After months of praying, one night it was as if God visited the congregation, setting off a chain reaction within the city. Dr. John Girardeau preached every night for eight weeks, preaching on sin and repentance, faith and justification and regeneration to crowds from 1500 to 2000. Many whites and blacks were converted.

Revival spread to other nearby places. In Beaufort, SC, for example, “a small church reported seeing 400 new members join their assembly in just a few days” (Yuen). The revival and awakening crossed denominational and social lines.

Today, God is doing something unusual across our nation. Singer Michael W. Smith recently told CBN, “God is on the move. I’m so grateful that I’m alive to get to see it. I think what we’ve prayed for for so long is actually happening. … There’s this resurgence of faith.”

Recently the faith-based hit The Jesus Revolution passed $40 million at the box office and is now the highest-grossing movie for its studio, Lionsgate, since 2019.

Dr. Timothy Tennent, President of Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, recently wrote, “An awakening is where God begins to stir and awaken people up from their spiritual slumber. This is definitely happening not only in Wilmore, but as this move of God spreads to other schools and communities across the nation and even the world.  There are many reports that this is what is happening. [W]e must keep our hearts and eyes fixed on Jesus and ask him to complete the work he has begun so that, over time, there is a lasting transformation in the lives of those who are being touched by God.”

When I was a young man, a popular Christian song spoke of the river of God flowing. While the river of God seems to now be flowing through America, may we not just stand on the bank and watch. May we jump into its flow.

About forty people gathered a few weeks ago at Temple Baptist Church in town for one specific purpose – asking God to pour His Spirit out in Lancaster County. Several pastors who attended commented that we need to continue doing this.

We are not trying to push a program, denomination, or agenda. We are wanting to call God’s people to gather humbly to ask the Lord to cause His river that is flowing to sweep through this area.

I don’t want to get in God’s way or miss what He was doing. One of the most damning verses in the Bible speaks of Jesus’ visit to his home area: “And so he did only a few miracles there because of their unbelief” (Matthew 13:58). Imagine being in the physical presence of Jesus Christ and choosing to not believe because He did not fit my expectations. McDow and Reid share, “An institution can be in revival even when some members are skeptical of God’s movement. . . . When revival erupts, the tendency is to expect all to receive immediately what God is doing, but this is never the case. Skeptics are witnessing things beyond their experience” (Firefall: How God Shaped History through Revivals, Create Space Publishing).

Dr. Joe Youngblood and I hope to build a connected prayer network in Lancaster County. We’d love to get the name of a potential prayer coordinator and the name of a pastor from every interested church. Feel free to contact me at or Joe at

We want to invite any Jesus-followers who believe His Word to join in praying for revival and spiritual awakening to join us for our second Concert of Prayer on May 7 at Catawba Baptist Church in Lancaster at 7pm.

Roy Hession said, “Prayer is the foundation of revival, and testimony is the spark that ignites it.” Let’s lay the foundation together.


Pictures used courtesy of Pexels and Pixabay



Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Where is the God of Charles Stanley?

Every one of us have a small handful of people who made a giant impact on our life. Dr. Charles Stanley was one of mine.

I first tuned into his ministry as a freshman in college, listening to the InTouch radio broadcast on Greenville, South Carolina’s WLFJ or Black Mountain, North Carolina’s WMIT. During those years I probably heard his sermons three of four times weekly. Attending a liberal religious college, which jettisoned the authority of Scripture and basic evangelical theology, his preaching helped anchor me in eternal truths.

My first year of school, I picked up his book, How to Listen to God, which had a shaping influence on my nineteen-year-old life. The first of more than two dozen of his books I would eventually read, I experienced his practical teaching that drew deeply from the Bible but also was illustrated with personal experiences. In that book I would find what was one of his constant exhortations: develop a lifestyle of meditating on the Word of God, expecting Him to guide you.

The next year, Thomas Nelson released Stanley’s The Wonderful, Spirit-Filled Life, and he preached a four-part sermon series about the Holy Spirit on his radio and television broadcast that coincided with the release of the book. It was my first practical introduction to the Spirit-filled life as a young adult. I devoured the book and messages, pouring over the material as he step by step explained what the Bible says about the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer.

My senior year of college, he released the book and series, The Source of My Strength: Relying on the Life-Changing Power of Jesus Christ to Heal Our Wounded Hearts. Sharing openly from his own struggles, including the inferiority he developed growing up in poverty without a father, Stanley explained how to trust God with problems in our lives such as loneliness, fear, abuse, and guilt. At the time, I was dealing with an array of hurts and problems stemming from my own father’s poor choices. I vividly remember Stanley’s teaching being a balm to my wounded spirit, helping me learn to lean on the Lord as my healer and restorer. To this day, I think I’ve given more copies of The Source of My Strength away to people than any other book.

His Preaching

I first learned how to preach from listening to radio preachers like Stanley. His winsome, conversational style combined with practical exhortations and challenges to trust God marked his teaching. He regularly said, like Jesus, “Now listen!”

To this day, I hear teaching from the InTouch app weekly. Having listened to him regularly for more than thirty years, I recall some of the great themes of his preaching and books:

Intimacy with the Lord

Stanley told listeners that God wants a close relationship with them. Through sermons like “Favorites vs. Intimates,” he explained how the Lord desires to reveal Himself to them in ever-deepening dimensions. I once heard him say, “Far more important than As in the classroom is your intimacy with God in your dorm room.”

I only met Dr. Stanley once quickly at a book signing at the 1999 Southern Baptist Convention in Atlanta. After waiting in line, when I got to him, I handed him a book to sign and said, “Dr. Stanley, thank you for teaching me about intimacy with God.” He stopped, lowered his pen, and stared directly into my eyes. Then he emphatically said, “That is the most important thing!”

Obedience to God

When his grandfather, George Washington Stanley, shared with young Charles that if God told him to run straight into a brick wall, he should duck his head and trust God to remove the wall, a deep rudder formed in his life.

Charles’ most familiar phrase, “Obey God and leave all of the consequences to Him,” is written in large letters along the wall of InTouch Ministries in Atlanta. He taught that obedience is a joy and privilege – and a necessity for those who will experience God’s best.

The Empowerment of the Spirit

I heard him say numerous times that if he were Satan, he wouldn’t try to make good people bad. He would simply try to convince Christians and churches they could do God’s work in their own strength. After going through a deep struggle in his thirties, Stanley learned what it means to abide in Jesus. He wrote in his book, The Spirit-Filled Life, “To abide in Christ is to draw upon His life. . . . The abiding presence of the Holy Spirit is the life of Christ in us.”

In the 1990s I got a cassette tape of Stanley preaching at Dallas Theological Seminary - a sermon entitled “Spirit-Anointed Preaching.” He told preachers they must learn to move between time at their desk studying to time on their knees, stretched out on the floor talking to God, listening to Him, and asking for the anointing of the Holy Spirit on their life, ministry, and preaching.

Fight Your Battles on Your Knees

Stanley’s mother first taught him the importance of prayer, and throughout his life he became a man of prayer. In his book, Living the Extraordinary Life, he wrote, “Is your prayer life pitiful or powerful? No one else can put on your spiritual armor for you. If you want God’s best in your life, get on your knees. Divine, supernatural power is available if you will cry out to God and claim it by faith.”

Stanley faced many battles in his life, including a fierce one before becoming Senior Pastor of First Baptist Atlanta. During that time a senior lady in the congregation taught him a vital lesson. Showing him a painting of Daniel in the lions’ den, she told him to notice that Daniel’s eyes were not on the lions but on the Lord. Stanley later became President of the Southern Baptist Convention during some critical years of the Conservative Resurgence, presiding over the largest-ever-attended meeting of more than 45,000 messengers in 1985 in Dallas, Texas.

Guidance from the Lord

Stanley believed God could and would speak to and guide every believer who seeks Him. He wrote in How to Listen to God, “I believe one of the most valuable lessons we can ever learn is how to listen to God. In the midst of our complex and hectic lives, nothing is more urgent, nothing more necessary, nothing more rewarding than hearing what God has to say. . . . His voice waits to be heard, and having heard it, we are launched into the greatest, most exciting adventure we could ever imagine.”

To the Ends of the Earth

Dr. Stanley preached, taught, and wrote about the God of Abraham, David, Daniel, Ruth, Peter, and Paul. But, as a young man, Charles wanted to know and experience that God. And he was motivated his entire ministry to help people all over the globe learn to walk with that same Lord. The God of the Bible is not limited to olden times. He is alive and real today, desiring an intimate relationship with men and women.

That living God put His hand on this young man, raising him up to be one of the most influential preachers of the Gospel in his generation. Decades before podcasting, Facebook live, and webcasting, a few faithful preachers like Charles Stanley had the vision to maximize modern technology to spread God’s Word.

Stanley and InTouch Ministries never stopped pursuing ways to keep sharing the message in every way possible. His obituary shares, “At the time of his death, Stanley’s messages were heard in more than 127 languages around the world via radio, shortwave, the Messenger Lab project, or TV broadcasts. Stanley was the country’s longest-serving pastor with a continuous weekly broadcast program.”

Stanley represented a generation of stalwart Bible preachers and pastors like Adrian Rogers, Jerry Falwell, Jack Hayford, Charles Swindoll, and others who are finishing their tasks and moving on to heaven. These giants leave incredible Gospel legacies.

As our world seems to turn further away from the God of the Bible, may the Lord raise up others to take their place. As we see our Elijahs taken away and their mantles fall, may we stand on the bank of our Jordans and cry out, “Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah - or Charles Stanley?” And may we walk forward in His presence and anointing.

Some of Stanley's contemporaries respond to his death:

“There are few places in the world where Charles Stanley cannot be heard and seen through In Touch ministries. He was truly the world’s pastor. It was my privilege to serve with him, preach for him and walk through some crucial times with him. He was a consistent proclaimer of God’s Word and touched millions of lives.”—Jimmy Draper, former SBC president

“Much will be written and spoken about the incredible, global and timeless impact of Charles Stanley’s life and ministry. My thoughts today are filled with gratitude for the impact of Charles’ warm, personable and welcoming spirit. Thank God for unleashing His powerful truth through Charles Stanley.”—Tom Elliff, former SBC president

“Charles Stanley was a reluctant president of the SBC. He responded to the need of the hour and the requests of God’s people. Characterized by his gracious actions toward all, Dr. Stanley modeled the life of Christ. His fervency in prayer, alone with his Lord was profoundly experienced by all who knew him well. Who will take the place of my friend Charles on his prayer rug before God?”—Paige Patterson, former SBC president

“Charles Stanley was a giant among us. Faithful pastor. Courageous SBC leader. Minister to the world. Well done, good and faithful servant.”— Jerry Vines, former SBC president

“We lost a warrior for the faith. He was God’s man at a critical juncture of Southern Baptist and evangelical Christianity’s struggle for biblical integrity. His television ministry became an incredible entree for many of us to share the gospel with seekers. We are diminished by his absence but enlarged by his life and ministry.” — Jim Henry, former SBC president

“I don’t know of any Southern Baptist pastor whose sermons have helped to build up believers and reach people for Christ more than Charles Stanley.”—Bryant Wright, former SBC president

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

April Decision Magazine Cover

My and Tracey‘s trip to Wilmore, Kentucky, resulted in another added blessing.

Decision magazine decided to use my picture of the auditorium at Asbury university as their cover photo for the April edition!

My friend Lee Weeks quoted me in their cover story, and they used two more of my pictures in the story.

I’ve never had a photograph published in anything!

I heard they are sending hundreds of copies of the magazine to Asbury. Read Lee's entire article, "Signs of Revival," here.

Monday, April 3, 2023

An Unforgettable Easter

Holidays, particularly religious ones, carry with them a lot of memories that invoke various emotional responses.


Easter reminds me of decorating Easter eggs with my mother using the PAAZ egg dye kit.  I remember seeing my grandparents every Easter at their house.  We enjoyed egg hunts and Easter baskets.  I have very fond church memories from various Easters.  I received my first real Bible from my parents one Easter - a bright yellow "Good News" one, which still sits on my shelf today.  I was baptized by my pastor on Easter Sunday, 1982.  I remember big Easter musicals the weekend of Palm Sunday, singing hymns like Christ the Lord is Risen Today, and always having a new Sunday-best outfit to wear.  I especially liked a green sports coat I was given when I was in about the 5th grade.  Our church had a cross outside each year, and on Easter Sunday we would all bring fresh flowers to fill it up with color.  And I recall every year ABC playing Charlton Heston's The Ten Commandments from 7pm-11pm.

My family now has some of our own holiday practices, many of them similar to those of my boyhood.  We have never done the Easter Bunny with our children.  We weren't terribly opposed to it, but church jobs always required one of us to be out of the house early Sunday morning before children awoke, so we made it our habit to give our children Easter baskets from us on the Saturday before Easter.  We chuckled then and still do now thinking about when our then 5-year old came home from church one Easter and said, The children in Sunday School were talking about some bunny coming to their house this morning!  What are they talking about?

Easter offers wonderful opportunities, whatever your practices, to talk with your children about the essence of the Christian message - that God loved a sinful world so much that He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven and we could have a forever-relationship with Him.

Don't underestimate what children can absorb.  One of the church-misnomers of our time is how we send middle and high school students to school where they learn algebra, chemistry, history, and foreign languages, yet we bring them to church and think that all we should do is play games with them thinking that they can't yet absorb the great truths of the Bible.

And don't miss opportunities with your own family members and other people in the community to share biblical truths about the gospel message. 

The church of my youth never did sunrise services, but we did do Easter musicals.  Perhaps my most vivid memory of an Easter season was when I was in the third grade.  Our church did a musical called Hosanna the weekend of Palm Sunday.  I still have the cassette tape from that performance.  My grandparents came to attend with us, and I sat directly next to my grandfather.  I will never forget that when they came to the scene where Jesus was dying on the cross, my grandfather began quietly sobbing.  Tears streamed down his face.  At that moment, in my little nine-year old thinking and feeling, I was deeply struck with the fact that this stuff is real to him.  This matters to him.  His life has been changed by the cross.  He loves and respects God.   I remember that moment like it happened last week.  And I doubt I will ever forget it. 

Don't underestimate how your faith and your love for Jesus, shown in your own unique way, can deeply impact the life of another person - even a child.  Thirty years from now they may be remembering you this Easter.