It was 50 years ago this month that I preached my first sermon at the Lone Cherry Baptist Church in Richland Parish, Louisiana. The pastor had accepted another church. My grandfather, who was treasurer and deacon, arranged for me to supply preach. It was August 16, 1970. My grandfather was very ill but he came. My dad brought him. They placed a loudspeaker on the outside of the church so my grandfather could hear me preach. This began my public ministry.
During my college years I served as a student evangelist. In 1974 my wife and I moved to Crowley, Louisiana to plant a church. This was the beginning of a pastoral ministry that lasted 20 years. During my time as a pastor I usually had a vocational evangelist come at least once a year to lead in an outreach effort.
In preparation for my revivalevangelistic events I would read the book “Why Revival Tarries” by Leonard Ravenhill. In my opinion it is a classic. I don’t agree with everything Ravenhill said. I do agree with his call to a deeper walk with God. Reading the book got me in position to receive from the Lord.
Ravenhill lived in a different era, but his words still sting today. He said there were many players but few prayers. There were many organizers but few agonizers. He said preachers make pulpits famous but prophets make prisons famous. His call was to a life of surrender, fullness of the Spirit and seeking to reach those going to hell.
What will it take to see an old fashioned Holy Spirit, sin-condemning, Jesus-exalting, hell-shaking, soul-saving move of God? Do we ever need it? Yes! Some of the barriers to seeing God move are the same as they were in Ravenhill’s day. Let me list some for us to consider.
Revival tarries because of cheapening the gospel. Easy believe-ism has caused churches to be filled with the unsaved. We talk about the unchurched but no longer about the lost. People without Jesus are not in need of a better life. They need eternal life. We have sought to meet needs. What people need is to know the bad news of judgment and separation from God and then the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. I know this is not true of all churches, but far too many have abdicated preaching the clear gospel. Call people to repentance and belief in the Lord Jesus.
Revival tarries because of fear. Public acceptance has caused churches to compromise the holiness of God. The proponents of American culture intimidate believers into silence. We are fearful of being ostracized while the saints of old were persecuted. Lifestyles are more in line with current culture than biblical norms. We want to fit in rather than stand up and stand out. May God give us courage like Daniel to be different.
Revival tarries because we lack urgency in prayer. Prayer meetings have almost disappeared from our churches. Personal private prayer is crowded out by the demands of responding to the latest controversial thread on social media. When was the last time we actually shed a tear because someone we knew was going to hell? Personal repentance followed by passion for people would change our churches. We need the power of God in our places of worship. Only prayer can unleash his supernatural work.
Revival tarries because we steal the glory that belongs to God. 1 Corinthians 1:29 says “that no flesh should glory in His presence.” When God does move in our midst we try to think, “Which method was it that produced that reaction?” Or we develop a plan or some type of organizational strategy to try to duplicate the same response. God wants his people to wait on him as they did on the day of Pentecost to get a fresh breath from heaven. We will know when it is the Lord’s doing when it is something we cannot produce.
It has been 50 years since I answered the call to the ministry. It has been 50 years since I preached my first sermon. I have seen the power of God displayed. I have seen believers get right with the Lord. I have seen scores of people saved at one time. But it has been too long. If there ever was a time for God’s people to be on their faces pleading for revival, it is now. All I can say is, “Do it again Lord. All for your glory!”