Expecting to See Jesus: A Wake-Up Call for God's Peopleby Anne Graham Lotz
In this expanded edition of I Saw the Lord, revival speaker and president and CEO of AnGeL Ministries Anne Graham Lotz calls Christians to wake up to the fact Jesus may come in their lifetime. She shows us how we can experience an authentic, deeper, richer relationship with God through a life-changing, fire-blazing personal revival.See more details below
In this expanded edition of I Saw the Lord, revival speaker and president and CEO of AnGeL Ministries Anne Graham Lotz calls Christians to wake up to the fact Jesus may come in their lifetime. She shows us how we can experience an authentic, deeper, richer relationship with God through a life-changing, fire-blazing personal revival.
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I Saw the LordA Wake-Up Call for Your Heart
By Anne Graham Lotz
Zondervan Publishing CompanyCopyright © 2006 Anne Graham Lotz
All right reserved.
Chapter OneYou're Sleeping! Isaiah 1-5
You can know the right stuff in your head but still be missing something.
At the time the Lord dramatically changed the course of my Christian life, I wouldn't have characterized myself as someone needing "revival." Honestly, I didn't really even know what the word meant. Even my "church friends" probably wouldn't have labeled me as needing revival. Because, on the outside, my Christian walk looked like we're often told it should look. I had been a Christian for more than fifteen years. But, having accepted Christ as an adult, I could still vividly remember the time when I wasn't sure I would go to heaven if I died. And I certainly wasn't tired of giving thanks to God for the moment when He gave me assurance of my salvation.
I loved Him, and I was doing all I knew to do to live out my life in Christ. I ...
... committed a time of personal devotion to the Lord each morning,
... attended a church that faithfully taught the Word of God, ... served in my church body as a deaconess, as a Sunday school teacher, by chairing our pastoral search committee, and by serving wherever else I was called upon,
... was part of a weekly cell group in my church, growing in God's Word,
... was in a weekly Bible study with other women,
... surrounded myself with wonderful, godly friends who modeled Christ and challenged me, and ...
... did my best to live out my faith in the marketplace, where I had been a corporate executive for twenty years.
That November, not only was I feeling blessed in my Christian walk, I was feeling blessed by life in general. Feeling genuinely content in my singleness, I had a large, wonderful family that loved me, complete with nieces and nephews who were a joy in my life. I had an exciting job in the technology field that challenged and energized me. I had the six-figure income that came with my business success, and I was able to travel, live in a comfortable home, and buy whatever I desired. I had my health and fitness that allowed me to run marathons, compete in triathlons, and to bike, ski, and enjoy just about any other adventure someone would put before me.
I loved the Lord. And I loved my life.
If you would have asked me, I would have told you I was plenty alive ...
* * *
Hey! You've Missed Something
Surrounded by lines of patience-ready-to-snap passengers, luggage grouped at my feet like overweight sentinels signaling an international trip, my eyes were focused intently on the agent behind the desk. While I silently urged the passenger in front of me to hurry up, I felt a gentle, friendly tap on my shoulder. When I turned, I saw a face wreathed in smiles belonging to a good friend. After giving him a hug, I asked what he was doing in line. As he described the international adventure that was before him, I had a very difficult time maintaining an interested, straight face because I was acutely aware that his belt was undone and his fly was open! He'd obviously missed something very important, and he didn't even know it! I'm sorry to say that I wasn't a very good friend - my embarrassment for him kept me from saying anything to him. I have wondered how far he got on his journey before someone pointed out, "Hey! Wake up! You've missed something!"
I have also wondered how many Christians, like my friend, are missing something very important and don't know it, either. Something that one day may be cause, not for embarrassment, but for shame. While my friend was missing something very basic and obvious - zipping his pants and buckling his belt - could it be that you as a Christian are missing something just as basic and obvious? And I am left to wonder how far you will get on your journey of faith before you realize, Something's missing. Would you allow me the privilege of being your friend and telling you what it is? What's missing is knowing God ... with your heart!
For years, Tom Landry was an American icon. With the brim of his hat pulled down over a stoic face, he paced the sidelines of football fields where he presided as head coach over one of the greatest teams of all time, the Dallas Cowboys. He faced pressure with poise, criticism with grace, rudeness with courtesy, humiliation with dignity, victory with humility, and crisis with faith. He became a legend in his own time.
On more than one occasion, I have heard Coach Landry state that during his career he came across many good athletes - but very few great ones. He said the difference between a good athlete and a great one is eighteen inches - the distance from the head to the heart. From his observation based on a lifetime of involvement in sports, he explained that good athletes have exceptional ability and a thorough understanding of the game, but great athletes have heart - a passion to play that drives them to selfless sacrifice, brutally long hours of practice, undivided focus, and ultimately, to achieve extraordinary accomplishments.
In almost thirty years of ministry, I have observed many good Christians, like Coach Landry's athletes, but very few great ones. And the difference is the same eighteen inches - the distance from the head to the heart. While there are many good Christians who have a head knowledge of Scripture, attend church regularly, are familiar with church traditions and rituals, and are comfortable with prayer, group Bible study, and outreach ministries, there are very few who are great.
There are relatively few Christians who are in love with Jesus, who put Him first in their lives when doing so demands that they sacrifice their own time, money, and desires. There are very few Christians who want what He wants more than what they want - and are willing to lay everything on the line to pursue it. There are very few Christians who are willing to risk their job, reputation, status, friendships, financial security, and even their life for the sake of sharing the gospel and pleasing God. We just seem to lack a clear knowledge of God and a passionate heart for God that, combined, are the hub around which everything in our life should revolve.
Not only do some of us who call ourselves Christians lack heart knowledge of God, we don't even seem to have much head knowledge either. We know God's name and job description - isn't He the One who lives in heaven and sends people to hell? We know Jesus died on the Cross to save us, but we're really not sure from what, although we have prayed and asked Him to come into our heart. And we know going to church is the right thing to do and makes us feel good. Besides, we can make nice friends and develop strategic business contacts there. And spiritual gifts? Aren't they what we exchange at Christmas?
If we're honest, even though we're authentic Christians, we would say that although we don't know much, the little we do know is more about God then actually knowing God Himself.
Others of us have exceptional gifts that we exercise in an endless variety of church activities. We seem to have a working knowledge of God in our heads -
we can quote Scripture ... we can pray out loud ... we can sing many hymns from memory ... we can list some of God's names with their meanings ... we can give a vague account of creation ... we can give a thumbnail sketch of the history of Israel ... we can define names like Abraham, Moses, David, and Elijah ... we can dramatize the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus ... we can trace the three journeys of Paul (with help from the maps) ... we avoid the Holy Spirit and the book of Revelation ...
- and we seem to be satisfied that that's that!
Why is it that we, and so many others who call themselves by God's name, seem to lack heart ...
for His Word? for prayer? for the gospel of Jesus Christ? for a lost and dying world? for each other? for Him?
Our selfish attitudes and ambitions demand to know what's in it for us ...
before we sacrifice anything, before we give time (if it's convenient), before we give money (if there's some left over), before we tear away our all-consuming focus from ourselves, our families and our friends, our concerns and our careers, our struggles and our status, our pleasures and our possessions, our bank accounts and our stock portfolios, our exercise and our entertainment, our debts and our diets, and from just about anything else other than the kingdom of God.
Why is it that we can be passionate about our favorite sports team, or a job promotion, or a dreamed-of vacation spot, or our alma mater, or a weekly televised reality show, or even the latest weight-loss plan, but we don't have that same passion about the things of God?
I believe the answer is that there is more to knowing God than just head knowledge alone.
I believe the kingdom of God is desperate for churches that are filled, not with good Christians, but filled with great ones - Christians whose knowledge of God has made the eighteen-inch drop from their heads to their hearts.
Until that drop occurs within us, we lack heart because we lack vision.
I believe we are living in a generation that desperately needs a fresh vision of God. We are living in a precarious worldwide situation where terrorism and war take center stage and where God is being pushed to the perimeter of our cultural and personal life - just at the time when we need Him most. As if to underscore this, less than three weeks after Hurricane Katrina destroyed so many lives, a California district judge decided the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional because it included the phrase "under God." History shows us what can happen when a civilization turns its back on God - and it also shows us the extraordinary changes that can happen when a fresh knowledge of God is sought after and reincorporated into a culture's priorities. This contrast is dramatically illustrated in the life of Isaiah during the Old Testament days ...
Isaiah was a prophet in Judah during a period that followed approximately fifty-two years of peace and prosperity. Although nearby nations boiled in turmoil, Judah was mostly free of unrest. But instead of using those years of peace and prosperity to grow strong, the people of Judah had drifted so far from God that they teetered on the brink of moral and spiritual bankruptcy. Their disobedience to His Word ... their disregard of His precepts ... their defiance of His law ... were provoking His judgment.
At this critical time in Judah's history, in the year 741 BC, when Judah as a nation was sliding into judgment, God raised up a man who became the most outstanding of the Old Testament prophets. What ...
Shakespeare is to literature, and Beethoven is to music, and Michelangelo is to art, Isaiah is to prophecy.
He is simply the greatest. But he didn't become great until the year King Uzziah died. That was the time when Isaiah's head knowledge of God dropped eighteen inches to his heart. It was the pivotal, life-changing year when Isaiah experienced a wake-up call that opened his eyes to a fresh vision of God. It was the unforgettable moment when he exclaimed, "I saw the Lord!"
Those of us who are living in the Western Hemisphere have also experienced approximately half a century of relative peace and prosperity, while much of the world has been in turmoil. Like Judah, we believe God's past blessings are an indication He will keep us safe. We have not used this period to grow morally and spiritually strong. Instead we have become arrogant in our disregard for God, trusting in His blessings instead of in Him, and therefore we are so weakened in our relationship with God that we too may be provoking His judgment.
May God help us, as He helped Judah, by raising up men and women who speak forth His Word with the power to change lives - a power that is rooted in their own personal vision of the Lord. My prayer is that this book might be a wake-up call to you, who, by following Isaiah's example and being ignited by God's Spirit, will have your own eyes opened to a fresh vision of the Lord. And I pray that as your life is impacted, it, in turn, will be a life that is empowered to change the lives of others. But first ...
You Think You're Okay
If you think you don't need personal revival - that your life is fine the way it is ... Or if you think you're not qualified - not devout enough or wise enough or even brave enough to experience this kind of powerful, personal, life-changing revival - you have lots of company. I've felt the same way.
And I suspect Isaiah did too - right up until that moment when he experienced his own wake-up call and his knowledge of God dropped from his head to his heart. There is no inkling in Scripture that Isaiah felt he needed personal revival. There is not a shred of biblical evidence that indicates he had any awareness of need in his life. He thought he was okay. Yet when he heard the wake-up call and experienced revival, his life was never the same, and he became someone God used to powerfully impact his generation. By his own example, he teaches us that prophets need revival too, whether or not they realize it.
Come along with me and examine the life of Israel's greatest prophet as he shares his testimony in Isaiah 1 - 6. As we begin our journey along the pathway Isaiah followed, in this section we'll look at Isaiah's life before he got his spiritual wake-up call. You may be surprised to find some characteristics of your own sleeping heart in Isaiah's descriptions.
You've Never Had a Vision (and You Aren't Sure You Want One)
The word vision makes me think of Ebenezer Scrooge and the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future. It makes me think of a medium hunched over a crystal ball, zoned out in a trance, or of ghostly apparitions, or of things some televangelists use to demand that I send them money. A vision can seem so, well, mystical ... spooky ... weird ... unreal ... and yes, even manipulative. I'm not sure I want one!
I doubt that Isaiah himself wanted a vision, especially the kind I just described. The Bible gives no indication that Isaiah felt he needed personal revival or had any awareness whatsoever of any spiritual deficiencies at all. Nevertheless, when the wake-up call came, the vision he saw was nothing like those cited above. Instead it catapulted his spirit into the center of the universe - into the very throne room of heaven.
It gave him keen insight into the heart of God. It riveted his focus on the Son of God. It flooded him with fresh hope for himself and his beloved people. It unveiled the thrilling, awesome glory of Jesus Christ. It was a forceful experience that propelled Isaiah into personal revival that lasted a lifetime.
And once he had that vision, he must have wondered how he could ever have lived without it. But before the vision, he seemed comfortable with who he was.
Today, as in the year 741 BC, God is longing for those who think they're okay - who feel secure in their moral and religious foundation - to wake up. Wake up to Him!
You're Secure in Your Moral and Religious Foundation
My father has always been keenly interested in world affairs. Even now, editions of international, national, and local newspapers are delivered to my father each day. He subscribes to all the major newsmagazines and reads them thoroughly. In the evening, invariably as supper is about to be placed on the table, my father stops all activity and watches the evening network news on television. While he can converse with great interest about the weather or my mother's latest purchase or a neighbor's family, his conversation and even his prayers are peppered with his conscious awareness of what is taking place in the world around him. He has a passionate worldview that has kept him on the sharp edge of commitment in his service to God.
Excerpted from I Saw the Lord by Anne Graham Lotz Copyright © 2006 by Anne Graham Lotz. Excerpted by permission.
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