We as a church had a wonderful Christmas season. Hundreds from the community came to listen to our annual "Christmas Music Night." The gospel is given in the form of the Christmas story, and we pray many will return for a regular service.
Our two dining rooms were full for our 40th annual Christmas Banquet with Pastor Paul Williams from the Northstar Baptist Church in McMillan, Michigan, preaching. He was a great blessing along with wonderful music and great fellowship. Christmas day again saw a couple hundred guests hearing the gospel with some coming at the invitation for salvation. It is still thrilling to see God do His wondrous works.
Most of you know about the attack on our church by CNN, local newspapers, and radio stations, along with protestors yelling and cursing in front of our church for months. They did hurt our bus ministry, but as would be expected, our church is more unified than ever. The world can't stop God's church. God is blessing us personally, numerically, and monetarily.
I've been preaching on the need for revival for over twenty years, and we've seen sprinkles of it in individual's lives and families along with showers in our congregation a couple of times.
It is my opinion, though, that if we don't have revival of some sort in our nation, our country is doomed. We are going to see the judgment of God and soon. A nation collectively never has revival. God never blesses unbelief; however, He does bring revival to individuals and it spreads through their local church and sometimes further.
I believe the next ten years are going to be the hardest independent Baptists have ever faced in America. Satan has set the stage to attack, win battles, and destroy churches. For the first time in my life strong, independent Baptists are in retreat en masse-not trusting God but trying to appease the world and church members. We've always had compromisers, but good men are tiring, backing off, changing, and compromising. Satan, like the ravaging lion he is and with the blood of recent victories running from his fangs, is about to go on a rampage.
Holiness, separation, godly living, and dedication have been replaced with cynicism, hypocrisy, finger pointing, excuse making, and compromise. We need revival, and the only place it starts is within an individual. Running a bus has become "too hard," and having a Christian school is "too much trouble." Christians today are lying back with few returning on Sunday night and just a handful meeting for Wednesday. Fundamentalists are even drinking wine and venturing to the beach. Pastors are afraid that if they rock the boat, they will have less yet to speak to, and so they have added more lively, "feel good" music, and, now, even clap for someone trying to honor God. Our church services have become performances. We need to stop our programs and beg God for real revival.
As I've studied the history of revivals, they usually seem to start from God's man preaching in God's power-yet today we sit in our pew, content and making excuses. The pastor never "comes down hard enough" on others, but you always have excuses when he deals with you and yours. When preaching on your pet sin, he is "using the pulpit as a battering ram." When he tries to correct your children he is "in the flesh." Where is the honesty and conviction in your heart? We fret about our money or family problems but never take time to see our sin problems. We are too busy rationalizing them.
How long has it been since you looked at your own sins and held them out before God brokenhearted? Have you looked for sin in your life in the past year, or even two? I'm not talking about a ritual or crying over a condition we got ourselves into because of our pride. I'm talking about getting desperate about the matter, wanting to be convicted and painting our sin black, pouring our heart out to God. "...godly sorrow worketh repentance." The last words of Jesus, found in Revelation, were to our generation, urging us to repent.
Repentance is a change of mind about self-when you come to the place where you ask God's forgiveness for allowing your pride to keep lying, you put it in the dust, and you agree with God. Repent if you have left your first love and your heart is cold.
We read in Revelation 3 that Sardis "hast a name that thou livest and art dead." Most independent Baptist churches have a name but are dead. Most pastors can't get their deacons to the midweek service, and our young people are no longer surrendering to full-time service but instead are studying in our Christian colleges how to make more money. Our music ranges from questionable to rock and roll, and door-to-door soulwinning is something we "used to do." If this is not what you want, repent and just do right. Conviction leads to confession, repentance, and restitution.