Every year millions of people in America make News Year’s resolutions. Most of them don’t last six weeks. It’s much like what happens when we see people rededicating their lives to Christ. They mean well, they have good intentions, but soon after that decision, they go back to their old rut and routine. They lack the wherewithall to make the change. The decision at youth camp or in the revival service wears off after a while. Why? They lack an understanding of their desperate need for the Holy Spirit to empower them. It’s not about turning over a new leaf, it’s about dying to self.
When God speaks to us, we have opportunities and choices. Opportunities to trust God, walk in faith and obey His Word. Choices will be made to do so, or live in rebellion. Yes, rebellion. Anything less than obedience to the revealed will of God is rebellion, no matter how you clean it up or justify it.
As you take the journey, you have a choice to take the broad road or the narrow road. On any given day, there are choices to make. Some are good things, but few decisions are made in light of eternity and a belief in Biblical priorities.
I am committed to a pursuit of God and revival in the church. The prayer of the Welsh revival was “Lord, bend the church and save the world.” When we plan worship, I don’t want an order as much as I want a heavenly interruption. The Spirit needs to invade us, confront us and convict us as we worship. We must be committed to pursuing the one who first pursued us. His demands are not optional. God never reveals Himself for us to consider Him, but for us to obey Him. Anything less is rebellion.
There is revival in the air. It’s in the heart and voices of many people I come in contact with. I hear it not only at church, but read it in emails, notes and prayer cards. God is up to something. Churches are being stirred. People are crying out for a fresh wind from heaven. We must align ourselves and set our sails to receive all God wants for us. God is giving us an opportunity to see His Spirit move in an unusual way. Are we open to it?
Half-hearted singing or apathetic listening is a sign of a need for revival. If there is not a fire burning in your bones to see the Lord exalted and praised, then something is wrong. When we gather in His name, we should bring our very best. Worship involves giving, listening, singing, praying and obeying. Have you made a commitment to come to worship and give yourself to God as an act of worship?
How’s your heart for the lost? Are we asking God for a heart for the lost? When revival comes, evangelism is the result. A carnal person will never care if a lost person goes to hell. I am asking God to revive me and then revive my burden for the lost. When we have been revived, and when our worship is all it should be, evangelism will be a visible result.
Discipleship must be a priority. It’s not enough to win the lost; we must also disciple the saved. Men need to mentor other men. The older need to impart what God has shown them to the younger. This is clearly stated in the New Testament epistles, yet so few do it. Why? You can’t take someone where you haven’t been.
I see a stirring among our young men to go deeper and want more. There is an increase in the number of men who are making themselves accountable to one another. This is healthy and will result in men going deeper. This should overflow into greater commitment as churchmen and greater spiritual leadership within the home.
Revival brings change. We don’t like change—maybe that’s why we choose to walk down the road of religion rather than revival. The road to revival will lead to pruning and change. When God sends revival, it’s no longer about me or my preferences. It’s about praying for and doing His will on earth as it is in heaven. It’s a readjustment to the will of God. Church is not meant to entertain me, but to equip me to do the work of ministry.
It is my opinion that hundreds of Southern Baptist churches are putting their faith in methods and not the Lord. They rely on bigger and better programs, gimmicks and productions to get a crowd and attract a lost world. Whatever we do ought to be the best—first quality. However, we must not try to imitate or work up what only the Holy Spirit can do. That would be blasphemy. God forgive us if we have ever trusted in a tree, pageant, performance, sports park or movie as a substitute for doing what the Holy Spirit demands first and foremost. He demands surrender and submission. He demands obedience. One week of obedience would do more to bring revival and ignite evangelism than any number of programs.
What road are you on? Are you walking in step with the Spirit? Only you can answer that question. But, if you’re off-roading, you aren’t tracking with Jesus. Sooner or later, you’re going to get stuck and spend your life spinning your wheels. I wouldn’t advise it. On the straight and narrow is better than any path you are cutting for yourself.
Michael served as the President of the Large Church Roundtable, the Southern Baptist Convention as an IMB Trustee, President of the Georgia Baptist Convention’s Preaching Conference, Vice President of the Georgia Baptist Convention, and President of the 2008 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference. He has spoken at conferences, colleges, seminaries, rallies, camps, NBA and college chapel services, well as The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. Michael is the recipient of The Martin Luther King Award, The MLK Unity Award, and a Georgia Senate Resolution in recognition of his work in the community and in racial reconciliation.
Michael and his wife, Terri, have two grown daughters, Erin and Hayley.