The Francis Asbury Society

FAS and Spiritual Awakening

Posted on | April 15, 2014 | Comments Off on FAS and Spiritual Awakening

by Jerry Coleman

Jerry ColemanI had to pinch myself. There I was at my second Renewal Conference sponsored by The Francis Asbury Society. I attended the very first FAS Renewal Conference…in 1989. How did I get back here? How did I find my way to this place I now call home?

In 1988, while I was in prayer, a vision came out of nowhere. A series of previous spiritual experiences flooded me and grew into a projected picture of the future. This vision of a spiritual awakening rolled over me like a wave of water—like a tsunami!

A moving of God’s spirit on His people
A people renewed for Jesus
The United States renewed for Him
Nations of the world turning to Him
Weeping and confession and repentance and wholeness

That was 25 years ago. I was a 30-year-old Asbury Theological Seminary student and father of three young children. The Francis Asbury Society was in its early days of ministry, too. Now I find myself back where it all began. The vision burns deeper and brighter today. The Francis Asbury Society resonates with the same vision. How did we get here? Where do we go from here?

After my vision of spiritual awakening, I sought counsel to help me process what I had seen and heard. I had heard the president of Asbury College (now Asbury University) speak once or twice, so when a professor recommended that I share this burning vision with him, I readily agreed. Two weeks after locating Dr. Dennis Kinlaw’s office and scheduling an appointment with his secretary, I sat nervously in his waiting room.

“Come in!” I jumped up.

“Hi, I’m Jerry Coleman. I’d like to describe to you a vision I had during personal prayer.” After I told Dr. Kinlaw this powerful vision about world-wide spiritual renewal he began to ask me questions. I asked him questions. To my surprise, he seemed to understand and even personally relate to this burden about spiritual awakening in the United States and beyond. We began to meet together on occasion to talk and pray.

After our first few meetings, Dr. Kinlaw invited me to the very first Renewal Conference that The Francis Asbury Society sponsored. That was in 1989. I sat nervously and humbly among professors, church leaders, and dignitaries from across the United States. God’s vision continued to grow in my heart and mind!

Now, in 2014, as I sit at my desk in The Francis Asbury Society building and consider the mandate from the Lord to work and pray for spiritual awakening, I’m overwhelmed once again by the magnitude of the vision. If we only had a map or destination for the GPS, it would be perfect! Show me where and how, Lord, and I’ll go! Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” Perfect! Show us the way!

Jesus talks about more than direction and destination. This new reality has changed my life and my perspective on Jesus and how to find the way.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus uses the phrase “I am” at least ten times:

I am the bread of life (6:35)

I am the living bread (6:51)

I am the light of the world (8:12)

I am the light of the world (9:5)

I am the gate for the sheep (10:7)

I am the good shepherd (10:11)

I am the resurrection and the life (11:25)

I am the true vine (15:1)

I am the way, the truth, and the life (14:6)

And there is one more. Jesus says in 8:58, “Before Abram was born, I AM.”

Incredible! Jesus! He is the “I AM”! He is beyond space and time! He IS the way! The way is Jesus. The way is a person, the person of Jesus.

At the end of life is a person. Jesus.
At the end of truth is a person. Jesus.
At the end and even the beginning of the way is a person. Jesus.

A birthday card my wife gave me has a picture of a tropical paradise on the cover. Palm trees, a peaceful ocean beach, and a beautiful sunset. Inside the card, my wife handwrote many of the places we have lived or visited: South Africa; Haiti; Smoky Mountains; Wenatchee, Washington; Greenville, Illinois; Wilmore, Kentucky; Columbus, Ohio; The Alps; Budapest, Hungary; Rocky Mountains; and ???. But it is the main point of the card that really strikes me. It says, “Paradise is anywhere with you.” Ahhhhh. So beautiful! Paradise is NOT a place! It’s a person! Finding the way is finding the person.

But there is more. I recently asked God to show me something new in the familiar verses of John 14. I have to confess that what I really prayed was, “Lord God, I don’t believe that you can show me anything new in this passage. I already know it so well.”

I began reading the preceding verses. I saw in John 13:33 that Jesus said, “My children, I will be with you only a little longer.” This information shook Peter’s world! Jesus would be leaving him. “Simon Peter asked him, ‘Lord, where are you going?’” (13:36). Later, in 14:5, Thomas expressed the same sort of anxiety as Peter’s, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

I began reading further in John. “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work” (14:10). Jesus goes on in 14:16­17, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” And then, in 14:20, “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”

Preceding John 14:6, Jesus centered on the preposition “with.” Following John 14:6, Jesus centered on the preposition “in!” Whereas, Peter and Thomas struggled with the thought of Jesus leaving them, no longer being with them, Jesus knew it would actually be better for them as he returned to his Father. Jesus would no longer be with them but be in them.

The Father had a gift for Peter and Thomas. He has a gift for me, for us! The Holy Spirit in us! He is the Spirit of God living and breathing within those who welcome him. When we have one of the three in us, we have all three.

The Holy Spirit in Peter made all the difference. The Holy Spirit makes a world of a difference! It radically changed him. I am changed as well. Jesus in me. Jesus himself drawing me to himself. This is what spiritual renewal is all about. This is what The Francis Asbury Society is all about.

Now after 17 years of service with the Free Methodist Church as a missionary and overseer for our work on continental Europe, I return to Wilmore. My daily prayer is that, with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the resources of The Francis Asbury Society, we will see this 25-year-old vision come to full fruition. How? Jesus in me. The Holy Spirit in me. The Father in me.   In you, in us.

Will you join me? Will you join The Francis Asbury Society in praying for a new reality, for new spiritual life in our nation and in the nations around the world? Jesus in us. The Holy Spirit in us. The Father in us!


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