Camp Meeting Revival! (Camp Meeting, 8/27/18)

Posted by on Aug 27, 2018 in Pitman Camp Meeting, Sermons | 0 comments

Pastor Bret Walker is currently a local pastor serving churches in Pedricktown and Auburn (Salem County), but his roots are in Pitman.  He grew up in PUMC.  And for several consecutive summers he attended every Camp Meeting service, growing into a love and commitment to the Lord.  He was the drummer in our church’s Praise and Worship band, member of the choir, leader of the youth group.  He was serving in the way that dedicated lay members should.  But the Bible and the Camp Meeting Preaching called him from the pews to the pulpit, and he now serves two congregations as their local pastor.

Our last session of the 2018 season was on August 26, and Pastor Bret Walker was a fitting person to lead the season’s final service.  Bret provided the both the message and the music (with some help from his ukulele).

 

Whenever the topic about the names and locations of Pastor Bret’s two churches comes up, things get a bit confusing. If you ask him which churches he serves, you’ll get hit with a string of proper nouns. They all sound like names of towns, and any of them could be the name of a church too.

For future reference, maybe the below will help sort things out…

CHURCH NAME TOWN NAME
Hudson United Methodist Church

Pedricktown, NJ

Ebenezer United Methodist Church

Auburn, NJ

 

 

Music:  Camp Meeting Favorites

Pastor Bret has a love for “old-fashioned” gospel music, and he brought that passion to us when he opened the evening’s service.  A strong voice, a lively ukulele, and some good music (with a powerful message!) centered our thoughts on worshiping God. 

His musical lineup was dominated by familiar Camp Meeting classics:

  • Power in the Blood
  • God Can Do Anything But Fail
  • Nearer My God to Thee
  • His Eye is on the Sparrow
  • New Name Written Down in Glory

 

Message:  Revival Starts Here!

Earlier in the season, Rev. Sherry Zapolla asked us if the Church is ready for Revival (click here to read about her message).  But on this night, Pastor Bret asked if our hearts are ready for revival.  And he challenged us to tap into the energy of the Camp Meeting heritage to share that passion with others.

During his message, Bret held up a challenge that set the tone for his message:

Can I conceive of an eternity without this person?

Or, do I speak the words of Life to him?

 

Revival… To bring back to life…  Bret has a love for the Pitman Camp Meeting and for the speakers who who brought crowds of thousands to the Pitman Grove.  Musicians like C. Austin Miles and preachers like Billy Sunday were part of the rich fabric of this Camp Meeting.

But it wasn’t the people who brought the power.  It was the power of God’s redemptive salvation that brought thousands to this patch of ground.  The strength of the Holy Spirit gave these talented people a hunger for preaching the Good News, and that’s what put power into the music and preaching.

That same power is available to us today, but do we thirst for it?  Do we look at people we love and ask, “Is this someone I want to spend eternity without“?  Are we overpowered with that thought?  We take a laissez-faire approach to our witness, but maybe we wouldn’t if this question was on our minds as we speak to our friends, family, neighbors and co-workers.

 

The motto of the Pitman Camp Meeting used to be “Pitman and Power.”  The power of the Pitman Camp Meeting lies in a passion for glorifying God and for inviting people to find the Way to that passion of a new (revived) life in Christ!  Pastor Bret offered some observations on how that passion plays out in our lives.

 

Pastor Bret has posted this sermon on his podcast site (“Guerrilla Christianity”).

To listen to this sermon (or to others in his library), click this button:  Podcast  

(The podcast will open in a new window.  Start the player then return to this page to follow along)

 

 

Personal Witness

“Preaching the Gospel” is easier than it sounds.  You don’t have to be a fiery preacher like Billy Graham or Billy Sunday.  All you have to do is to be a witness; tell your story. Where have you seen God in your life?

One example of this in the Bible is when Philip brought Nathaniel to Jesus (and they became two of Jesus’ 12 disciples):

 

Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote — Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip.

John 1:45-46, NIV

 

Come and See… We don’t have to preach a great sermon.  We don’t have to convince anyone.  The most powerful sermon is when a friend tells another friend what they saw in their life.  Come and See…  You can read the Bible cover to cover and not see Jesus.  But when you look up and see how the faith described in the Bible is playing out in the people right in front of you, the Spirit has touched you.

Ezekiel chapter 37 tells the story of the valley full of Dry Bones.  God tells Ezekiel to speak to these dry bones, and the bones joined together and flesh and muscle began to form over the skeletons….

The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones.

He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry.

He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “O Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!

 This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.

I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.'”

So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone.

I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

Ezekiel 37:1-8, NIV

Prophesy… speak God’s Truth to someone, and life will begin to form.  Revival will begin.  And once the breath of the Holy Spirit enters them, life begins. 

In a sense, we were all once “dry bones.”  We didn’t have the life of the Holy Spirit in us.  It took a witness, usually a personal testimony; someone made an impression on us.  And once we opened ourselves to hearing the Holy Spirit, we began to live.  In reality, we are surrounded by a valley of “dry bones.” People who don’t know Jesus as their Savior and Lord do not have eternal life.  But when we give a personal witness by speaking Truth to “dry bones,” the Holy Spirit breathes in new life.

 

Spending Ourselves to Depend on God

OK.  You completed Local Pastor’s School, you’ve obtained your license, and now you’ve been appointed to be the pastor of two churches.  Two churches of people with doubts, fears, struggles and needs.  It’s up to YOU to minister to them! 

It can sound pretty overwhelming!  Billy Sunday gave up a baseball contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates to become a preacher.  He spoke to crowds numbering in the thousands.  But me- how can I do that?  I’m not Billy Sunday!

You don’t have to be Billy Sunday.  All you have to do is to give your all.  Live out your faith.

Don’t hold anything back. Go beyond what you can do, and then the Spirit will take control.

THAT’S when things get done.

Your job as a “preacher”- or any Christian who is captured by the need to share the Good News of salvation- your job is to “exhaust yourself.”  Do all you can do and then get out of the way to let the Spirit work.  Give someone all the information about the Harvest America crusade.  Remind them. Tell them how much it meant to you.  Spend time with them.  Encourage them.  Give them a ride to the event.  Do all you can do, but trust God for the results.

 

Infectious Excitement!!!

Once you’ve “exhausted yourself”- once the Spirit is taking your efforts and giving them power- you can’t help but feel excited!  One facet of playing a role in revival is Excitement!  Seeing God use your words and efforts to give someone eternal life is exciting! 

During the week, construction workers began replacing the roof on the Grove Tabernacle where we meet.  The auditorium was surrounded with Caution tape when we arrived for our service and sections of the roof were open to the evening sky.

This reminded us of the story in Mark 2:1-12.  This is when four friends of a paralytic dug a hole in the roof of a house so they could lower their friend past the crowd to lay him at Jesus’ feet.  Jesus was amazed at their faith, and the paralytic was healed (and forgiven!).

It’s easy to see the joy of the man who had been healed.  But imagine the reaction of those friends of the paralytic.  Their efforts paid off.  They gave all they had to carry this man up to the the roof and to dig through the surface.  They exhausted themselves.

But imagine their joy when their friend picked up his mat and walked out of the house?

If you share the gospel with someone, and the Spirit uses your efforts to heal your friend; to give his “dry bones” eternal life, imagine your joy… imagine your excitement about what God has done! 

If you’ve been a Christian for a long time, remember when you first realized that you were saved.  Imagine the excitment when you first committed your life to God.  The newly saved are the most enthusiastic people.  Like them, you can burst at the seams when you think of what God gave you: Eternal Life!

Gift- Eternal life…

We can all think of times when we were excited by a gift.  Most of us can reflect back to special Christmases or birthdays.  We don’t deserve gifts.  We receive them because someone loves us for who we are; we don’t do anything to earn them.

And that’s how it is with the Greatest Gift- Salvation and Eternal life.

The thief on the cross never preached a sermon.  He never went on a Missions Trip to rebuild homes.  He never stood on a street corner with a Bible.  He only turned to the Savior and he was saved.

The thief didn’t have time to share his faith, but we do.  If you’ve received Christ as your savior show your excitement!  Be a witness for someone else.  Tell them how you were dead in your sins and how God revived you.  Tell them about the people who made an impression on you.  Tell them how God entered your life when you exhausted yourself and gave it up for Him.

Excitement is infectious.  And so is the Good news of Eternal Life.  But we need to share our story.  We need to be that light.

 

 

 

=   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =

 

Bret’s first song set the tone for the evening: Power in the Blood.  There is “Mighty Working Power” in the salvation provided by Christ.  His blood cancels our sin and allows us to experience the excitement and power of a clean slate and an eternal relationship with our Heavenly Father.

Here’s a video of Bret’s rendition of the final two verses of Power in the Blood:

 

Commitment

As Bret started to give the closing prayer, Camp Meeting Director Tom Bennett interrupted him and suggested that we open the altar for a time of personal prayer.  It was like an “old fashioned altar call” (but there’s nothing “old fashioned” about responding to God’s call!). 

About 10 people made there way to the historic altar to re-connect with God in a personal way.

Pitman and Power.

It was a fitting way to wrap up the 2018 season of the Pitman Camp Meeting.

 

 

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