We’ve just returned from our second ReFRESH® Northeast Conference. While our team is road weary, we are rejoicing in all God did in two short days. Gathering with pastors from all over the Northeast and as far south as Georgia was a blessing beyond measure. This year, we had over 300 pastors and wives register for the conference, and we were blessed to meet dozens of new people. This partnership has enriched my life and the life of our team. As Terri and I were talking last night, it’s been confirmed over and over again that the right thing to do was to go to parts of the nation outside of the Bible belt. Rather than asking pastors to come to our major “evangelical hubs,” it’s our responsibility to take the message and hope of revival to them.
Why does Sherwood invest in ReFRESH®? One, we’ve seen how God has blessed it in our own fellowship. Every night for nearly the past 15 years, we’ve averaged over 1,000 in the four-night sessions. Two, it’s a part of our spiritual DNA. God has given us a taste of what happens in a revived church, and, as one of my friends says, “Revival spreads on the wings of testimony.” If you’ve got good news, share it. Three, we have a heart for hurting pastors. These men are in the trenches. Many are bi-vocational and often discouraged, overwhelmed, overworked, and underappreciated. We want to remind them that what they do is not in vain.
Why do I continually take groups to Israel? One, for my own spiritual edification. I need to breathe the air and remember my spiritual heritage that dates back to Abraham. Two, I want people to go so that their Bible becomes three-dimensional. Once a person has seen the sights, walked the rocky paths, and stood on spots we would consider holy, they never read their Bible the same way. Three, my love for Israel. I love the people of Israel. I love the history of Israel. I love the tenacity of the people of Israel. Historically, no people group has ever faced more hatred and opposition. Yet, they don’t just survive, they thrive.
So what do these two things have in common? They both were birthed out of a burden for others. Whether it’s a burden for the church to be revived or a burden for the people of Israel, burden is a driving force. They both impact and influence God’s people. The church is sunk unless we have revival. The church was birthed in Jerusalem. If it hadn’t been for a Jewish Messiah, we would all be hopelessly lost. Both focus on self-examination and reflection. You can’t rush a revival and you can’t run through Israel (although it seems at times we do). At the end of the day, you take notes, reflect, pray, contemplate, and meditate on all you’ve seen and heard.
Neither ever gets old. I never get bored. I never cease to be amazed at the goodness of God and the history of revival and the people of God. There will be 6 days between these two trips. Physically, that’s demanding. Spiritually, it’s one of the most invigorating things I ever get to experience.
Today, I’m breathing the air of revival and refreshing. Next week, I’ll be breathing in another experience in HIS land, remembering HIStory, and walking where HE walked. That refreshes me.