Where some seek after ‘revival’, others seek after ‘renewal’. Different people use these terms to mean different things, but let me explain how I am using them.

Revivals are the moments of dynamic experience with God; Renewal, is the life-long process of growing in Christ. When we try to live from emotional high to emotional high (revivalism), we soon find that we can not live through the emotional lows. Being filled by God’s Spirit is not an emotional high. Being filled is a cotinual openness to God’s Spirit which puts Him at the center of our life. Whether one “feels” it or not, God promises that when we yeild to him, He will fill us. At times God’s renewal of our lives will be accompanied by an emotional high, and many different emotions flow out of these encounters. The emotional high is not the experience itself and our feelings can never really be an end it iteself. When we reduce God’s filling to an emotional feeling, the beauty and power is stripped from the very act.

Christ was filled by God’s Holy Spirit when he prayed in the garden shortly before he hung on the cross. Do we think that this was a moment of emotional high for Jesus? There was turmoil, pain, and suffering in His heart, yet His spirit, strengthened by the Holy Spirit, gave Him the power to overcome his feelings.

We do not need to beg or plead God to fill us. I have seen so many people open their hearts and cry, pleading to God to fill them with His Spirit. I want to go to them and embrace them and share the truth of God’s love. They do not need to beg and plead, God has already filled them with His Spirit. They have only to accept and give thanks.

Each of us must determine in our own lives, will you seek ‘revival’ or ‘renewal’?

Dr. J.R. Miller is a Professor of Applied Theology and Leadership & Dean of Online Learning at Southern California Seminary. Outside work, he is a church planter. Dr. Miller has a diverse educational background and authored multiple books on church history, biblical theology, and Leadership. Joe and his wife Suzanne enjoy the sun and surf with their 3 sons in San Diego, CA.

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