I am grateful and humbled that you have elected me as president of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. It is an honor to serve you in this capacity. I want you to know that I covet your prayers as we seek to expand the kingdom together in the coming year.
I am thankful for the leadership of Dr. Lorick and consider it a privilege to join him in this season of transition. I truly believe that God is at work across our state, and I have never been more excited to partner with the greatest missions organization in the world. I also believe that the SBTC has the opportunity and responsibility to lead the way as we prayerfully pursue reaching the world with the gospel of Jesus.
This year, God has been moving in my life in ways he has never moved before. I am overwhelmed by his grace and willingness to break areas in my life that have needed to be broken for years. He has revealed to me just how desperate I am for his power and presence in my life and church. I am convinced now more than ever, that if we are going to advance the gospel of Jesus and reach a lost and dying world, we need more than fleshly innovation. We need a holy desperation for the manifestation of the Holy Spirit.
My singular desire as the president of this great convention is to build upon the prayer focus of Kie Bowman and lead our churches to pray like never before! To call upon the name of the Lord, asking him to send revival and spiritual awakening to our churches, communities, state, nation, and world. Listen, what we need, more than larger budgets, bigger buildings and greater attendance is a fresh outpouring of God’s Spirit in our churches. We need him to sweep through our communities, state, and nation. I don’t want you to miss the two-fold request in the statement above: We are asking God to send revival AND spiritual awakening. While these two works of the Spirit are often linked together, they are not the same. In fact, I believe that we cannot have the second (spiritual awakening) without the first (revival).
You see, revival is what happens to believers when God brings us to a place of brokenness. This leads us to repentance, resulting in a fresh outpouring of his Spirit in us. Pastor Bill Elliff says, “To ‘revive’ literally means to ‘bring to life again.’ It is a word for the church, for you cannot ‘re-vive’ what has not once been ‘vived!’” This is absolutely true! Revival is the by-product of the Holy Spirit bringing back spiritual vitality to the church. J.I. Packer said it like this: “Revival is the visitation of God which brings to life Christians who have been sleeping and restores a deep sense of God’s near presence and holiness.”
What is spiritual awakening then? Spiritual awakening is what happens to unbelievers when the Holy Spirit moves in power through his church. It’s when he moves with such a manifestation of his presence that unbelievers are supernaturally and powerfully awakened to the saving power of Jesus and their need for him. When a spiritual awakening occurs, you see lost people in a geographical region come to saving faith in Jesus in exponential numbers, resulting in a rapid expansion of God’s kingdom. It should be the heart cry of every follower of Jesus to see God move in power like this. Without a revived church we will not see a spiritual awakening in our culture. Andrew Murray, the great prayer warrior, said, “A revived church is the only hope of a dying world.”
This is why I am inviting the nearly 2700 churches that make up the SBTC to join me in praying like never before. Together, let’s call upon the name of the Lord and ask him to send revival. Revival in our hearts, revival in our churches, revival in our denomination, revival in every denomination. Let’s ask him to move with such power among him people that it leads to the next great spiritual awakening in our nation!