This is a guest blog post by James A. Smith, Executive Editor of Florida Baptist Witness as posted in the Witness on February 20, 2013, used with permission.
Evangelicals in America—including Florida Baptists—lack a “deep sense of brokenness” because of our self-reliance. Until there is dependence on God and total brokenness in our midst, we will not see revival.
That was the message of Clayton Cloer during a Feb. 7 worship service held in conjunction with the State Board of Missions meeting at Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center. The brief message—only about 10 minutes—prefaced a time of extended prayer, following a pattern led by Cloer at meetings around the state since the fall of 2011 as part of the ReVision Florida effort. The worship service/prayer meeting was a unique, special time for Florida Baptist leaders, and is a model of what could be happening across our state within our churches.
Cloer, pastor of First Baptist Church in Central Florida, has been leading the ReVision campaign, seeking to implement the first recommendation of the Imagine If Great Commission Resurgence Task Force report adopted at the 2010 Florida Baptist State Convention annual meeting. The recommendation urged Florida Baptists to prioritize seeking spiritual renewal and revival in our midst.
But Cloer made clear during the worship service at Lake Yale there will be no revival until Florida Baptists are broken. “We will not see in the state of Florida what we want to see with methodological shifts, strategic enhancements, more of our degrees and more of our learning. … Because at its root is self-reliance. God is going to strip us of self-reliance because it’s an affront to Him. Brokenness happens when our self-reliance is really stripped away,” Cloer asserted. “God began every great movement in the context of brokenness. … There’s something missing in evangelicalism today and it’s brokenness. Brokenness attracts the very presence of God,” Cloer said, citing several Scripture references to emphasize the point:
“This is the Lord’s declaration. I will look favorably on this kind of person: one who is humble, submissive in spirit, and trembles at My word” (Isa. 66:2).
“For the High and Exalted One who lives forever, whose name is Holy says this: ‘I live in a high and holy place, and with the oppressed and lowly of spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and revive the heart of the oppressed’” (Isa. 57:15).
“The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. God, You will not despise a broken and humbled heart” (Ps. 57:15).
“The poor in spirit are blessed, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs” (Matt. 5:3).
Cloer paraphrased a Martin Luther saying: “God creates out of nothing. Therefore, until we are nothing God can make nothing of us.” Summarizing Nehemiah’s effort to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, Cloer said the work came after he agonized over the state of Israel and verbalized a plea to God for His assistance. As a result, God permitted Nehemiah to visualize the work that needed to be done.
“Revision happened in that context,” he said. “In the context of agony and brokenness.”Like a wild horse that must be broken, so must Christians, Cloer said. “It’s in its brokenness that its strength, its real, God-given ability has been harnessed. And then brokenness is met by the Lord with His provision and His Spirit pours out,” he said. Cloer led the assembly in a time of extended prayer in the manner of the house church movement in China in which Christians pray out loud, at the same time guided by various prayer points. The prayer was “to ask God to work in our midst,” he said. “You say, ‘Pastor, has it really gotten that desperate?’ Yes, it really has.” The comment was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, eliciting some laughter. But the humor underscored the reality for too many of us—prayer is not the first priority in our lives.
For the benefit of our readers, I’m reprinting here the prayer points offered by Cloer, which ideally would be used during prayer meetings or other gatherings in our churches. May we all pray fervently for a movement of God in our midst that will begin in our brokenness and growing dependence on only what God can do among us.
ReVision Florida Prayer Points
Brokenness over the lostness of our state and need of revival
Problem: lack of concern for unsaved
Symptom: No salvations, no baptisms, stagnant church
Scripture: Ps. 51:17; Ps. 34:18
Request: Let us see the multitude moved with compassion. Burden our hearts for the desperate need of salvation for the people of our state and nation for revival in our churches, and then use us to implement a dramatic repentance.
Filling of the Holy Spirit
Problem: No spiritual power/working under our own strength
Symptom: A dead church, no salvations, baptisms or bold witnessing
Scripture: Acts 4:31; Ex. 35:30-31; Eph. 5:18-21
Request: Pour fresh oil upon us. May the first of God fall upon Your people that we may be God’s instruments in the state! Make us clean vessels so You may pour the Holy Spirit into us so we may be useful.
Purity among our pastors
Problem: A pastor’s lack of integrity and honor
Symptom: The testimony and integrity of the church destroyed, the pastor’s testimony and family is destroyed.
Scripture: Ps. 24:3-5; Ps. 51:10; 1 Cor. 6:18; Col. 3:5; Prov. 16:2; James 3:17; Titus 2:12; Matt. 5:8; Phil. 1:9-11
Request: Keep us pure. Expose our impurity, grant us repentance, create clean hearts in us.
Encouragement among our pastors
Problem: Four pastors a day leave the ministry
Symptom: Discouragement, lack of support from the church and fellow pastors
Scripture: 1 Thess. 5:11, 14; Ps. 86:7; Acts 11:23;11:23; Rom. 15:5; Gal. 6:2; 2 Thess. 2:16-17
Request: May the God of comfort encourage everypastor. May God raise up an Aaron and Hur around every brother. May every pastor’s wife be lifted, strengthened and blessed. May God encourage families of our pastors. May the staff be encouraged.
Problem: Lack of godly authority in the church, the truth is bypassed.
Symptom: Weakness in the pulpit, the true Gospel message is not proclaimed. God’s people are too timid and lack boldness in the Holy Spirit.
Scripture: Eph. 6:19; Col. 4:2-4; Acts 4:19-20; Acts 28:31
Request: God grant us boldness to love loud, to share our lives and our Lord with this state. May timidity and fear be banished. May we trumpet truth in our lives, our love and from our lips.
Problem: No harmony, no agreement, no Godly interaction and poor fellowship.
Symptom: Division among church leaders, wasted time and energy.
Scripture: Ps. 133:1; Eccl. 4:9-12; John 17:20-26; Acts 1:14; Acts 2:1, 46; Acts 4:24; Acts 5:12; Acts 8:6; Acts 15:25
Request: That we be in one accord with God.
Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers
Problem: A shortage of workers
Symptom: A harvest is waiting and a field that is empty
Scripture: Matt. 9:37-38; Matt. 28:18-20; Luke 923; Luke 19:10
Request: Change our mindset to see that the harvest is still great. Call out the next generation of pastors, missionaries, church planters, staff members, Bible teachers and evangelists.
Resources to be released to the ends of the earth
Problem: God has supplied the needed funds for the work, the people will not release the funds.
Symptom: Ministries not completed due to lack of funds.
Scripture: Ps. 37:34; 2 Cor. 9:6-8; Matt. 6:3; 3 John 2; 2 Cor. 9:8
Request: Give God’s people a heart of generosity. May God’s people release the resources God has supplied. God, in our poverty, send a fresh spirit of sacrificial generosity!
Ownership of the vision
Problem: God’s people do not sense ownership of the work here. God has given us this stewardship. We feel like the problem of our state belongs to someone else. It is not the state convention or someone else—it is us.
Symptom: Lack of unity, commitment and driving force
Scripture: Prov. 29:18; Acts 18:9
Request: God, may we see the stewardship that You have given us here. God has called us to reach this state. May we see the challenges, the problems, the possibilities and the vision as ours to fulfill under God’s leadership.
Renewal of every pastor’s heart
Problem: No passion, stagnant and dull services.
Symptom: No salvations or baptisms, no vision
Thought: Spiritual renewal has always come in on the heels of a renewed reverence and hunger for the Word of God.
Scripture: Ps. 51:12; Col. 3:10-12; Rom. 12:1-2; 1 Cor. 5:17
Request: God renew and revive our hearts. May wereturn to our first love! May we remember our calling. May serving You today be as thrilling as it was the first day. May the power of the Holy Spirit renew our hearts for Your glory.