I've been reading 'The Story of Toronto' by John Peters this week. It's essentially a biography of John & Carol Arnott, & the incredible events surrounding their church in Toronto back in 1994.
The book itself is horrible. Horrible cover, horribly written, a horrible series of lists & repeating arguments. However, the Toronto story itself is so compelling, & Peters a sympathetic observer,that it remains a gripping read.
In one section of the book, Peters outlines 10 characteristics of men that God has used in revival or renewal. They are worth noting here. They are a provocation for those of us who continue to thirst for more of the kind of God we first encountered with such joy way back 16 years ago.
1/ Men used by God often have little external attraction. The Apostle Paul, in person unimpressive, but a mighty man of God.
2/ No stereotypical background. Zinzendorf was an aristocrat, Christian David, his fellow worker in Saxony, a carpenter. Wesley & Whitefield, highly educated, Billy Bray, a barely educated Tin Miner.
3/ Often dismissed as nonentities by other men. Evan Roberts was said to be 'too unassuming to claim anything like leadership.'
4/ Took prayer seriously. Lanphier began his prayer meeting for business men in downtown New York with a handful, 6 months later, 10,000 were praying for revival. Within 2 years, 2 million were added to the church.
5/ Maintained a close & intimate walk with God. They were people who were 'saturated with God', to use Brian Edwards memorable phrase.
6/ Had a life transforming experience of God. In 1737 George Whitefield prayed, 'God give me deep humility, a well guided zeal, a burning love & a single eye, then let men or devils do their worst.' In response he entered into a life changing experience with God which radically effected his life & ministry.
7/ Were humble & realistic in their assessment of themselves & their abilities, not at all proud.
8/ Had a passionate desire for God. John Wesley wrote in 1734, 'My one aim in life is to secure personal holiness, for without being holy myself, I cannot promote real holiness in others.' This was even before his conversion which didn't occur until 1738!
9/ Read & studied the bible diligently. It is claimed that Jonathan Goforth, who was used by God in China at the start of the 20th Century, read through his Chinese New Testament 55 times.
10/ They were obedient to the bible. These were not men & women of academic pursuit, they longed to bring their lives into line with the scriptures. Jonathan Edwards, John Wycliffe & Peter Waldo come to mind.