A Mixed Up Minister?
What insights does the book of Jonah have for ministers today?
Led by The Revd Tom Stuckey, a former President of the Methodist Church.
Revival Sent From God
Along with the book came a note: 'Looks like you might find this a blessing and also be able to write a recommendation for Headline'. There is no 'might' about it! The book has been deeply challenging and disturbing to what the author calls 'the narrow confines of your comfort zones'. I am profoundly grateful that it was placed in my hands, and just at the right time to minister to my own deep needs.
'Revival is a season in the life of the church when God causes the normal ministry of the gospel to surge forward with extraordinary spiritual power'. With these words the book starts, and in page after page Dr Ortlund presses home what he states as his ultimate aim: 'to persuade you that revival is a valid biblical expectation, so that you join me in praying that God would rend the heavens and come down in our generation. We cannot trigger revival, but we can turn away from all that clogs up God's work...Above all, I want you to be encouraged in God. We must never give up and give in. He is able'.
The challenge and stimulus of scripture is set out as he 'looks carefully into the Bible' and thinks 'scripturally about revival'. In the earlier pages he gives his opinion that 'we need more biblical work on revival. We have many excellent books in this area, but we need to give more attention to the biblical text. So in this book I want to taste with you the feast of revival truth spread before us in the Bible'. This he most certainly achieves!
In the first two-thirds of the book under the heading 'What God can do', his inspiring writing raises hearts and minds to contemplate the wonder of the God with whom we have to do. The unfolding of biblical truth has stirred this reviewer to recall once more the throbs of hunger for revival evident around the centenary of the 1859 Revival, and to rediscover for himself 'what God can do'. The second part of the book announces 'What we must do' - 'We must return to God...We seek God...We humble ourselves'. 'When is revival necessary?' he asks. 'When prayer has lost its power and other ways of coping seem more helpful, when sleepy Christians go through the motions without rousing themselves to lay hold of God, revival is necessary'.
After reading this book I suppose it is not surprising that Dr Ortlund's last word is a prayer: 'Our Father, here at the end of this book I ask for your reviving touch on every reader. Unless you add your blessing, that is all the book can be - a book. But you are able to animate your word. You are able to quicken our dull hearts. You are able to impart to us such a sense of your goodness that we hunger and thirst for you above all else'.
Recommendation? Most certainly. Concerned for your life, your church, your community, your country? Then buy this book. Pawn your watch or something if need be, but get it! Pore over it, Bible in hand, and seek the Lord who can do so much more. A last word. I have just finished the book before going away - and I'm taking it with me to re-read it.