Spontaneous combustion. It's rare - but it can start a raging fire.

It's defined as "ignition without apparent cause."

From the accounts of eyewitnesses and hundreds of firsthand reports, that's what's been happening in a small Kentucky town at Asbury University. When a "business as usual" chapel on February 8th flared into an intense and uncontainable spiritual fire.

From a few students staying after chapel for some prayer and worship together, came by day's end, a chapel filled with students worshiping God and repenting of their sins.

It hasn't stopped for over two weeks. This "outpouring of the Holy Spirit" as one theologian called it, has spread to multiple college campuses. And virtually every major news outlet has reported on what's being dubbed the "Asbury Revival."

I greeted the first reports with a mix of excitement about the possibilities and a seasoned instinct to reserve judgment and learn more.

There's a lot about it that seems very real.

It started spontaneously without any human orchestration - like so many revivals in Christian history. The Spirit can't be scheduled. Like spontaneous combustion, the fire starts suddenly and without human ignition.

It's simple. Humble. In many ways, unspectacular. No hype. No stars. No flashing lights or lyrics on the screen. It's pretty much heartfelt singing, little prayer groups, hours of worship, people at the altar, praying to leave their sin there. Maybe it is spectacular in its reverent simplicity.

Some might expect a highly emotional and demonstrative atmosphere. But over and over, people comment instead on an overwhelming calm that quickly draws in the visitor.

People who come to watch quickly become worshipers. People who come to visit can't leave.

And wise campus leaders have prayed constantly for the wisdom to keep it from the corruption of becoming a "Christian event." That's when flesh starts to co-opt Spirit. When a popular cable news personality wanted to send a film crew to Asbury, they asked him not to come. He was shocked - "no one turns down free publicity," he said. Later, he said to his national audience, "God bless them for turning us down."

For whatever flaws a skeptical observer might cite, there's an awful lot that says, "God is doing something outsized here."

So do we try to reproduce the Asbury experience? No. You can't reproduce spontaneous combustion. It's spontaneous.

God is at His most amazing when it's all Him without all our "chariots and horses."

So if God is opening heaven and pouring out a Spirit-quake on an epicenter in Kentucky, is He saying something to His people across the land?

Thousands have flocked to this small town, not to hear a popular Christian musician or an acclaimed speaker, but to be where Jesus is moving. Why?

Because many of us know there's something missing in our orthodox but all-too-manageable faith. We know that beyond the boundaries of our Christian "box," there's more. And we're hungry for it.

Could it be that God has given us a glimpse of the "more" we want to have and He wants to give? Not that it will necessarily look like what's happening at Asbury. He defies formulas. He defies expectations. But He responds to hearts desperate for a fresh touch, for a Holy Spirit takeover.

He wants us to want His "more." With the heart-cry of the Apostle Paul from his prison cell: "I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me... I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).

Perhaps God has shown up in Kentucky to expose the mediocrity of our safe but stalled relationship with Jesus. To open our lukewarm hearts to something more powerful, more real than we've ever experienced before. To pursue His promise that "I am doing a new thing; it is springing up in front of you. Do you not perceive it?" (Isaiah 43:18).

God doesn't want more programs or more personalities. He responds to an open heart... and empty hands raised toward heaven to receive whatever He wants to give.

Today I saw a brand new dad I know with his month-old baby daughter, snuggled inside his jacket, sleeping on his chest. Her soundtrack - the beating of her father's heart.

I said, "God, let that be me. So close to You, I can hear Your heart." Whatever He's doing right now, I don't want to miss it.



Hutchcraft Ministries
P.O. Box 400
Harrison, AR 72602-0400

(870) 741-3300
(877) 741-1200 (toll-free)
(870) 741-3400 (fax)


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