What if you were right there, experiencing an unprecedented spiritual revival firsthand? Get ready to be catapulted into the heart of a remarkable event that turned a routine chapel service at Asbury University, Kentucky, into a global phenomenon. We'll walk you through the electrifying moment when God's presence disrupted complacency and triggered a stirring of faith, and how such transformative moments can occur in your own spiritual journey.
Ever wondered about the powerful role of community in faith? We'll transport you back to the Garden of Eden where God walked face to face with humans, and how sin's brokenness still didn't deter Him, leading Him back to us in the form of Jesus. But it doesn't stop there - Jesus's ascension marked the beginning of the Holy Spirit's presence in our lives. We'll guide you on how to be an active part of the church community, and like Walter Brueggemann puts it, get a glimpse of the Kingdom of God. Buckle up as we delve into the concept of a disruptive church and its potential to be a catalyst for spiritual renewal.
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Welcome to our online audience. I'm Stephen Feith, lead pastor of Madison Church, and on February 8th of this year does anyone remember something that happened back in Kentucky in February? I'm going to tell you about it. So an unusual story made the news. There were students at a college, asbury University in Wilmore, kentucky. They were getting together for their regular scheduled chapel, and for those of you who went to like a normal college or normal trade school I did not. I went to a Christian four year school after two years of community college and they have chapel, and chapel is a church service during the week that we had to go to. They had it three times a week and we had to go to it at least two of the three times and if we didn't, they would just withhold our degree. We had to make up for them by going to bonus like devotions or chapels that they did at the end of the year, and so this is what these students are doing. They're going to chapel because they have to, as a part of our higher Christian education learning or something. I remember reading it once when I was petitioning why I shouldn't have had to have been going to chapel so often. You know, typical, but during one of these scheduled chapels, the Holy Spirit begins to move. Chapel ends, people are going, it's lunchtime, it's time to go to class, because they schedule classes right after these, and so they're going to class, but a few students stick around. They feel the Holy Spirit moving and then what began to be called a revival broke out and more and more students have going back to chapel. That was the surprising thing. They didn't have to be there, they were willingly and choosing to go back in the chapel to experience God's presence. That's what they were saying was happening. They were going to chapel and they didn't have to. Now the news started to spread like wildfire on social media and across the internet. Again, I think now that I've told you what it was. You probably remember oh yeah, I remember hearing about Asbury, this thing in Kentucky, this revival going on, and all of a sudden it wasn't just students pouring into this little chapel. We got a picture of it. It was people from all over the US started coming and driving. They wanted to go and experience God. And not just that, but people all over the world. They were buying plane tickets to fly to Kentucky. I mean just totally. If you lived in this small town. They had like a hundred thousand people pass through in a week and it's a little town. They were not expecting it and, as such, anything that goes viral like this, you're going to get a lot of say. Everyone had a comment on it, right? You can scroll through my social media. I actually did not have a comment on it. I thought it was great. But there's some people who were critiquing it and skeptical about what was actually taking place, and I guess my thing is like have you ever met a college student who was willingly going to chapel when they didn't have to be? That's all kind of the fruit and the evidence that I need to know that something was going on there. But one of the guys that I just I love the most, have the utmost respect for, is Pete Gregg, and he's pastors a church across seas. He leads the 24 seven prayer movement. He's one of those guys who flew to the US to check out what was going on, and here's what he said about it. He was hearing all of the people who were kind of boo booing and he said we need this and if you meet, if you've ever heard Greg speak, he's fiery. We need this is how Pete would tell it to you today. We need this. What's happening at Asbury is not everything. It's not everything Cause we take all take a deep breath. It's not everything, but it is something. And right now in 2023, we need something. He's talking to us, the Christian church. We need something to shock the system. He might say at Madison church. We need something to disrupt the system. We need something to shock the system so that this generation can experience for themselves the life changing power of God. And I'm like, yeah, pete, I agree with that. It's hard to it's hard to be against that from happening. It's hard to be against people experiencing healing to experiencing God for the first time For people. If you've ever been hurt in church, imagine coming back in the church and having a good experience. Okay, that's what we're talking about right now is happening, and God wants you, all of you, to experience these kinds of transformative moments in your own life. And I have really good news for you today you don't have to go to Kentucky to experience it. I've got good news for you. You didn't have to go to Asbury campus back in February. You did not miss it. God is not gone. God didn't just pop up for a week and have a conference with some people who could afford a ticket and fly in that week. God is here, and this is what we've been talking about and deconstructing, really, for the last few weeks. It's not about a place, it's not about a building, it's not about a physical structure, it's not about a service time, it's not about a chapel. It is about the people of God and the God we serve. Now, moments that shake the foundations of complacency and bring personal revival can happen to any of us and every single one of us, right here in Madison on September. Whatever today is and it is one of the reasons that Jesus created the church that the church was birthed was so that we could experience moments like that, so that you and I gathering together could be a vessel for positive disruptions and a catalyst for spiritual renewing. So we're in part three of a series called disruptive church, and throughout our study we've explored how the term disruptive. It sounds initially kind of like mean or negative, something that we don't want in our life. We don't wanna be disrupted, but we've been saying how, within the context of our faith, disruption is good. A disruption as Barry and Chapel is good, a disruption in these other places where revivals or awakenings have happened have been good, and a disruption here at Madison Church in Madison, wisconsin, will be very good. Within the context of our faith, it signifies the power to bring about significant and abrupt changes, to establish norms. We're gonna take on tradition. We're gonna say what did Jesus say about this tradition? We're gonna take on some of the things that we believe. What did Jesus say about these beliefs, about these faith? And one of the things that we first talked about was this idea of ecclesia. One of the first things we said okay, church, we all have ideas. You all probably grew up in or around, even if you didn't grow up in the church around it. You knew people who were Christians. That's just living in the United States. Okay, so you knew and you kind of had an idea of what church was, and for most of us it was a building. As you pulled up today, you thought this is church, or it's a service or a mass. It's a time when we get together and what do we do? And then sometimes we argue then from our beliefs, what counts as church, what do they have? Communion Okay. So we start getting real deep and we said you know, when Jesus talked about the church, it was a Greek word that just meant an assembly, a gathering of people. It was getting together at the farmer's market, the county fair, people getting together at Lambeau this morning you know they're already wasted type of deal. Okay, this was the word that Jesus used and it was not a religious word. And he tells Peter and the disciples I will build my church, I will build a group of people, a movement of believers. And so our understanding of church, how we started this entire series, was to say it needs to align with Jesus' teaching. Forget what you've learned, start focusing on unlearning. We're gonna deconstruct that. We're not gonna leave it an empty plot. We are building something, and that's what we have been rebuilding for the last several weeks. So, while we might think of church as a building or event, jesus envisioned something far greater, far better, a movement beyond physical structures, and in his mind that this was gonna be the way that his mission, the message of the gospel of God's great love and forgiveness and the offer of grace to every single person. That this was how it was going to happen. And last week I spoke about how every gathering of believers has an element of togetherness. But that's not it. It's not just getting together and hanging out. I keep bringing up this example over and over again. It's relevant to my life. But last night we went out golfing a few of us from church. Was that church check? We're all done? Not really. It had an element of being church. All of the guys last night we were part of the Madison church community. We love God. We're following God, imperfectly as it is, especially if you saw us golfing last night. Some of the words we were using, I think I surprised one of the new guys. He's like, wow, he knows those words and how to use them properly. Right, yep, okay, and so and so. It has a part of the church. There's an aspect of the church, but it's not just hanging out. We are not just the club. We don't just get together and lock the doors. Us four, no more. This is about a mission. From its inception, the gathered church was designed to be sent out into the world. Jesus understood every single one of us as a missionary. Now you might not be going overseas to starting churches, but why don't you think about what you do Monday through Friday, and probably sometimes Saturday and sometimes Sunday and sometimes overnight or wherever it is. But have you begun to consider yourself as someone who is sent there, that God has guided you as a sent one for his mission? And so when we're talking about the church, we're talking about a community on mission, where Jesus is king. And today we're gonna talk about being a part of the community. And if you wanna follow along, I'm going to the very end of your Bibles. We're going to Revelation and we're gonna start here. We're gonna start at the end, because then I'm gonna swing us all the way back to the front of the Bible, but I want to begin with the end in mind. Here today we're going again, yeah, to the end there. Revelation, previous discussions on mission. We've explored living within the narrative. So we are living within a time of Revelation in which God restores his kingdom. I remember where I was going now. So God restores his kingdom at the end. No more evil, no more pain, no more suffering and no more mission. Understand that some day the mission is over. It's accomplished, more or less. Okay, that really depends on us, because we've been gifted the mission and so the mission it depends on us. But at some point the mission ends. And so John writing in Revelation at the end what he sees, he gets a glimpse at what I'm talking about. He says I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared and the sea was also gone. And I saw a holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God, out of heaven, like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. So this vision encapsulates the ultimate restoration of God's dream. The world we see right now is broken. The world that we experience right now a lot of pain and suffering, a lot of emptiness. And at some point John says you know, I'm looking up, I Don't know, figuratively, literally, you know whatever. But he says I see a convergence, a Merging of God's kingdom and ours, and a new heaven and a new earth. And bam, all of these old things are gone and All of these new things are here. He continues I heard a loud shout from the throne saying this is important look, god's home, where he lives, is now among his people. He will live with them and they will be his people and God himself will be with them. Now Understand first thing I think of when I read this one Well, god is already with us. So why would John say that John saying God's gonna be with you. In a way, he is not with you right now. Is God with us? Yeah, we're praying, as some of you experienced that this morning. Is God with us? Yes, and then John says and God will be with you, isn't he right now? Yes, but he's going to be with you again. So something is different here. Something is different. I want to point this out for someone. Before we go to Genesis, john writes in Revelation 21, 22. He says I saw no temple in the city. I saw no temple in the city, for the Lord, god Almighty and the lamb are its temple. So for some of you think we die and go to heaven and it's everlasting church service. I got great news for you today there is no temple, there is no church. So, hey, man, this is good, this is good news. God John says God, show me, there are no churches here. The vision is a beacon of hope, not because there aren't churches, okay, that's not why it's a beacon of hope, because it's a testament of God's Unwavering desire to be in communion with you and me. We will no longer go to a place To encounter God. Not that you have to right now, right, we've unlearned that. But he's saying to the point Don't mess this up, there won't even be a place to go To encounter God because he will just be with you as he was. And you think, okay, well, let's go back. We're going back all the way to Genesis, where God creates humans and we know that God is walking with them, face to face. They can see God, they can experience God, just as you can see me and I can see you right now. And so when John talks, at the end, when heaven and earth collide and God is here and there is no more temple, he says God will be with us. He's saying think back to the garden and you can see God face to face, you can reach your hand out and touch them. This isn't just a spiritual sensation, it's not just something that gets the emotion, but physically we get back, brought back into it, and so we live in between these points of kingdom come and and and sin. And we read in Genesis 3 what happened. They sin, they make a bad choice. Humans choose to be selfish, as we've all done. Sin enters the world and it ruins that relationship. And it's kind of highlighted in Genesis 3, verses 8 and 9, when the cool evening breezes were blowing. We felt that last night, right cool evening breezes. You can imagine going back into that place and the man and wife heard you. They heard God walking, they heard Him moving. They heard Him coming in the garden. Isn't that amazing? You feel the breeze, they can hear God coming, but they hid. The relationship was ruined, the relationship was torn and they hid and the Lord, god, called to the man where are you? In newsflash, god knows where they are. He's not talking about where's your geographic location. This isn't when Megan says she's gonna just run the target to grab some milk. And it's been an hour and a half later and I see a hundred and forty dollar charge on my bank account. This isn't that Okay, this is yeah. Some of you laughed too hard at that, looking at you. No, it's not a question about their physical location. It's a question of where they are socially. It's a question of where they are relationally and emotionally. Where are you? That closeness isn't there anymore. That intimacy that we have it's gone. Where are you? And when we begin to read this passage like that you've probably have you've heard this passage or you've read it at some point we read over it we're like, oh man, this is terrible. But I think that when we read it like this and begin to understand what is actually unfolding in this scene, it's quite heartbreaking. Anyone who's ever lost someone, if you've loved someone who's passed away, romantic relationship broken up, someone that you don't talk to anymore, child sibling, where are you God can relate to that firsthand. As a matter of fact, he's the first being to experience that feeling. Where are you? I miss you, friend, and it broke God's heart. And now we find ourselves in between that point and the point of the promise in which the kingdom comes back to earth, here in Madison, wisconsin, between the garden and the kingdom. And we are on the mission aspect of our journey. But I want to focus on community, because that's where we began and that's where we're going, and we're not just solo missionaries, we are a community. We are supposed to do this together and the great thing is that Jesus doesn't leave us hanging and, as we've mentioned several times this morning, we've experienced God's presence. So how did we get to this point in which we can experience God's presence today? John, who wrote Revelation, writes a gospel and he writes it this way, using Eugene Peterson's paraphrase he says the word became flesh and blood, and here's why I use the paraphrase he moved into the neighborhood, he moved into the neighbor. Jesus is your neighbor. And we saw he's talking about the disciples we saw the glory with our own eyes, the one of a kind glory, like father, like son, generous inside and out. True, from start to finish. God desired so much to be with us that, despite the relationship being broken, he comes back, and not just as a spirit, but in the person of Jesus and physically he comes back with us. And the pursuit, this pursuit doesn't end with Jesus, jesus's ascension into heaven. We might think, oh, it would have been great to be a disciple and then I could have seen and touched and heard Jesus. It doesn't just end there. We had, we did, eight weeks of study this summer on the Holy Spirit and how Jesus says it's better that I go away. I'm going to give you the Holy Spirit and this is going to guide you. It's going to be your presence and this is how I'm going to be with you. And so Jesus ascends into heaven, the Holy Spirit comes down and then the church is released on mission. But that's not all. The church is the way that God is now present. The church is the way that God is now present with all of his people all over the world. It's you and it's me, and it's when we gather God is present. Paul writes this in 2 Corinthians, chapter 6. The temple of the living God, as God said, I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God and they will be my people. We are the temple of God. This is a really good time to point out kind of something that gets thrown out a lot on social media that it actually shows like really bad Understanding of original languages here. But some people will hear this first. Right, I know you've seen the pictures of it. Our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, so don't do this, right? Yeah, don't drink your body's temple of the Holy Spirit. Don't smoke your body's temple of the Holy Spirit. Don't get tattoos. I actually learned about this verse before I got the tattoos, so this isn't like me railing against to this because I got tattoos. Okay, I promise, for we are the temple. The NLT does a great job for we are the temple. But when you read other translations, it says you are temple of the Holy Spirit. In the original Greek it was actually use plural. You use the closest word we have in English and is Y'all. So those of you from the south, you know y'all is what this should translate to in English, but the translators just aren't that hip, or they're all from the north, I don't know what it is, but it should translate as you all. So, while the Holy Spirit is in each and every single one of us, the temple, the church, the synagogue, whatever word you want to use that houses the Holy Spirit, isn't just you. You alone are not the temple, it's y'alls, it is us. We are the temple of God, and so when we gather, we are the temple. It can be in a church basement, it could be a coffee shop, it could be the bar, could be the golf cart, it doesn't matter where this body is located. We become the temple of God when we gather, and this would have been a potent image for first century Jews who are following Jesus, because to them everything was the temple. We went the temple time. We had to go to the temple and and read the same passages, and this sounds like your church experience, probably growing up. We have to go to church and we got to do this and we got to read these verses, and every four years we read the same verses again. Wait, is that right? Yeah, and and he blows it all up no more, you now are the temple. And I just had to be mind-blowing to all of those guys and gals because Nothing like that had ever been said. We're lucky and fortunate enough to live 2,000 years after Jesus, where a lot of people have already done the work for us and Understanding these things, but for them it would have been like wait what? And so I want to challenge us, as I've been doing the last few weeks, to be the church, which means you have to be in Community. So that's the challenge. Last week I challenged you to be on mission, to volunteer and to serve within our church as a church community, and this week I want to challenge you to be in community. Now I want to say I know that many of us and many of you, and probably more than once, have experienced disappointment or hurt or wounds from being involved in the church. Or you're watching, listening Online and you're thinking like I would like to kind of maybe re-engage my faith, but I've been hurt. There's this experience. Can I trust these folks? I just want to say I'm sorry, but that experience has happened to you and, as I mentioned last week and I'll mention this week, I believe that we're a healthy church. We're not a perfect church. I believe we're a healthy church, but that doesn't mean you don't get hurt here. You can be hurt and healthy healthy and hurt. Some of you remember that from last week. Quick, but I do want to say that we try really hard that this place is a place where justice exists. We try really hard that this can be a place where healing can occur, and we're trying, and that means that, and as we talked about a couple weeks ago, we've had to say no to other pursuits so that we could prioritize and value those aspects. And so I would really like to extend an invitation To you. If you're watching, listening, or you in the room, you're kind of checking things out and can I jump back in? Yes, please do, because we need you and God has guided you to this point on purpose, and so I Know I get the hurt. Maybe that's why you stopped attending a small group, you stopped showing up on Sundays, whatever it is, but would you give it another chance? This is how we experience the presence of God and for some of you you are here. But if you're like me sometimes Right, you're here, but you're not here. I'm physically somewhere but I'm mentally somewhere else it can be easy to fall into the trap of a routine of just kind of attending church every Sunday. Rather than being the church, rather than being on mission, rather than being community. We end up just going and then we kind of think that being present is just good enough, and it doesn't happen that way. I don't think that anyone woke up one day and was like you know what? I'm just going to go to church for the next 10 years or whatever. I think it's a slow roll. I think it's a slow roll and maybe it's hurt and disappointment and we start to check out or we don't take care of ourselves, whatever it might be. But I want to shake you out of it this morning. I want to shake you out because if it's just me, there is no church. We already went over that Y'alls. I need you and you need me, and you need the person next to you and you need the person behind you and in front of you. It's a collective effort when we gather. God's present works among us. So we need you so that we can experience God's presence together. At this time, in this moment of history of the world, the community of people God has created to be present with is His church. That's how God wants to be present. That's how God chooses to be present. Could God do whatever he wants? Yes, including making the choice that he wants to be present with His church, as stated throughout all of the texts that we've studied today. What you and I are meant to experience here in this community, is a foretaste of what is to come. It's just a foretaste, but the things that we experience, this community, this healing God's presence, it's just a foretaste. I want to end with this quote by a fantastic scholar, walter Brueggemann. He writes the church meets to imagine what our lives can be like if the gospel were true. He's being facetious. He knows the gospel is true. But when we meet, when Madison Church gathers together, whether it's Sunday or Wednesday, if it's 11 am or 6.30 pm, when we gather together on mission as a community where Jesus is king, we begin to see what the kingdom of God looks like. So let's not stop meeting, but let's start being the church that God envisioned us to be.