29 June 2020
As the world continues to deal with this far-reaching wake-up call from God which we label “COVID-19,” I find myself walking more quietly in the fear of the Lord (which I consider a good thing), seeking God’s face (as opposed to just “seeking God for something”), thinking about revival, and desiring to be led by the Holy Spirit in order to spend my time in the wisest and most profitable way.
So teach us to number our days
That we may apply our hearts to wisdom.
Cold Revival Ground
in 19342Pulpit view from the balcony
Our son-in-law, Michael Blythe, a Methodist minister, in Rev. Barton Stone’s famous
Cane Ridge pulpit
A comment and an invitation were what set me thinking about our great need for revival. Friend Joan wrote to me earlier this month, “Regarding the present world situation, I am praying for renewal / revival in the church (1 Peter 4:17).” Amen! As it happens, two days before Joan’s comment, Michael, one of my sons-in-law, invited me to go on a road trip with him during which we would visit Cane Ridge, Kentucky, the site of the famous August 1801 revival. (We had planned to make this trip more than a dozen years ago. Better late than never!)
The Cane Ridge Meeting House is a place to warm the cockles of a history-geek’s heart, whether that “history” is categorized under “American” or “Church.” This large one-room log structure was at the center of an immense outdoor camp meeting attended by 10,000-20,000 people, a place where Presbyterians, Methodists, and Baptist ministers preached, prayed with sinners, and moved in the presence of God and the atmosphere of heaven for an entire week.
Alas, there is no “afterglow” 219 years later. Or, as Michael would say, “The ground is cold.” The three new denominations that ultimately came out of Cane Ridge are in decline. We’re reminded about what God did, and what He can do, but not what He will do, or when or how He will do it.
Click here or on the image for a larger, sharper photo.
Faith and Faithfulness
Lest that sound like a less-than-inspiring takeaway, I should add that the Cane Ridge visit actually motivated me to continue in faithful service. We walk in the Spirit, follow His leading and “expect the unexpected,” knowing that it’s rare for God to repeat the way in which He brings about a revival outpouring. But He challenges us to live out the meaning of the Greek word pistis. Pistis is usually translated as faith in the New Testament, but that translation somewhat obscures the word’s deeper meaning of fidelity and faithfulness. Jesus calls us to carry out our assigned tasks with joy and faithfulness, putting our faith in Him to bring about the fruit of our labors:
⁸…the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. ⁹Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. ¹⁰So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Galatians 6:8-10 nasb
To “lose heart” is the opposite of what God (and Moses) exhorted Joshua to do: “Be strong and of good courage.” I could be weak and discouraged because it’s looking less and less likely that travel to various Latin American countries will be allowed this year. (Lost in our national COVID-19 news is how much worse the Latin American countries are suffering from it. I just received word that the wife of a beloved Guatemalan pastor has died of COVID-19 complications.) But I don’t intend to “lose heart” to the devil or to circumstances. To that end:
Reading the Bible in Spanish often gives me a fresh view of familiar passages. The first time I finished the Spanish New Testament was back in 2011. My first time finishing “el Antiguo Testamento” wasn't until October 2017, while I was teaching in Perú.3From our website (where it's free) to the Amazon Kindle bookstore (for a whopping 99¢), our first Spanish translation makes its way out into the world.
Transcription has come a long way in the last ten years, with 90% of the “heavy lifting” (read: tedium) done by online artificial intelligence — for free! (Yes, the scribe above seems to be using an early-model tablet. No, it's not an iPad.)
Are you interested in helping?4
Gutteridge goodness by the gigabyte!
- This month I finished reading the entire Spanish Old Testament aloud. It’s my second time through. At the rate I’m going, I may well finish reading the Spanish New Testament aloud for the seventh time before the end of August. Why read these aloud? Because I need to stay in the discipline of clear, correct Spanish pronunciation, while gaining familiarity with the way various Spanish-language translations present the sacred text.
- As you read these words, El Evangelio de la Gloria, the translation of Pastor Percy Gutteridge’s message The Gospel of the Glory, is now available in the Amazon Kindle e-book store. Maybe I can’t go and teach, but we can still make good teaching available. I think the translators, Pastor Jorge Watanabe and Inés González are just as excited as I am about its release. They must be, because both have indicated they want to get started on other translations! In fact…
- …Hermana Inés has informed me that she’d very much like to translate Pastor Gutteridge’s message Logos & Rhema. Ah, but there’s a hitch! Sometimes the transcription of a spoken message is a sizable challenge to wrestle into good written form. Denise and I started editing the transcription of L&R — seven years ago! The work wasn’t “flowing,” so we laid it aside. Perhaps it wasn’t the right time.…
- The Right Time: But now, with Inés’ offer, I sensed that “the right time” had come at last. The need for this message is great here in the U.S., but it’s strategic and critical for Latin America. To this end, I have laid aside work on every other project (like most of the June goals I had projected in last month’s newsletter, and even my daily work on The John the Baptist Experience manuscript) to get Logos & Rhema polished in English, posted on our website, published as an e-booklet, and passed along so that the Spanish translation can commence. Timing is everything — there’s now clarity, focus, and “flow” in the editing. We may well be tidying up the fifth and final draft by this time next Monday.
- Speaking of volunteers: A friend of this ministry has offered to work on a transcription of another of Percy Gutteridge’s messages. Which one? I don’t know, but she’s praying about it, and I trust her to be led by the Holy Spirit. If you have a favorite Gutteridge article that you don’t yet see in print, perhaps you can help. New, free, online, automated transcription software makes this job much easier than it used to be.
- During the month of June I’ve sent out… a dozen?… USB-drive gifts containing all of the digitized messages of Percy Gutteridge, along with some of our old podcast recordings, and the videos of the recent Woman in the Kingdom of God classes that I taught at North Florida Theological Seminary in April and May. To my surprise, I’m hearing unexpected excitement and feedback about the Woman series. Strange to say, I only included “Woman” as “filler,” because the USB drives had so much extra space “going to waste.”
“Speaking to Yourselves in Psalms and Hymns…”
For this one, I feel we need to share more than just the lyrics. Listen!5
Normally, I don’t mention the fact that we introduce “new” hymns and famous Christian poems in the Powerful Poetry section of our website every month. This month, though, I can’t let two of them pass without sharing:
- Sister Eva, a friend of nearly 50 years standing, introduced us to Come Down, O Love Divine. These inspired lyrics give my heart a “tongue” to express some of its inner longings. Thank you, Eva!
- Beloved missionary to Guatemala, James (“Santiago”) Ward, passed on to Glory less than two weeks ago. We have sought to honor him, his work, and his Lord, by sharing the lyrics of his “theme song” — If Jesus Goes with Me.
Three more hymns and poems — one beloved, one moving, and one epic — are pending, waiting to follow in the wake of the posting of Logos & Rhema in July. Watch the FinestOfTheWheat.org site (or our Facebook page) for their appearance in our Powerful Poetry section.
“Their Works Follow Them” (Rev. 14:13)
inside the Cane Ridge Meeting House.
Many thanks to all of you who support us in prayer and with your regular giving or occasional giving. Special thanks to our several new donors in June. (You know who you are.) God is using you to make this Kingdom work possible.
What should we do between revivals? I don’t know about others, but we intend to keep working faithfully! It encourages us that you understand that the daily labors go on, canceled trips or not, and that we continue to “number our days” so that we can “sow to the Spirit” while we seek to “do good” for those in the Latin American “household of faith.”
Much love in Jesus,
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- All photos and other images in this newsletter are by Jim Kerwin, unless otherwise indicated. ↩
- Black and white photo of the Cane Ridge Meeting House is public domain, since it is property of the U.S. Library of Congress, and obtained via Wikipedia.org. ↩
- Spanish Bible photo by Enoc Valenzuela is used with permission from Unsplash.com. ↩
- Photo of Egyptian scribe statuette is public domain and was obtained from Wikipedia.org. ↩
- Cathedral image seems ot be the designated graphic for the Music for Faith and Worship channel on Youtube.com. ↩