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Avant: Church can experience a Sandy Creek-type revival

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s annual Sandy Creek Revival Week took place Sept. 23-25, as Georgia pastor John Avant challenged listeners to have a God-sized passion, Christ-centered lives and Spirit-led leadership.

Sandy Creek Revival Week takes place each year to commemorate one of the greatest revival movements in American history. That 18th-century revival began at nearby Sandy Creek Baptist Church in North Carolina, where the passion and vision of a humble pastor named Shubal Stearns sparked a movement of God that touched much of the southeastern United States and resulted in many coming to Christ.

Avant, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Ga., preached at services for the seminary family as well as special evening revival services targeted specifically to area youth, college students and the community.

In his initial message, Avant said that today’s church can experience the same kind of genuine revival that Stearns’ church did.

“We need a God-sized passion, Christ-centered lives and Spirit-led leadership,” Avant said in what would be his theme throughout the week. “We want God to blow the wind of His Spirit in ways we’ve never seen.”

“I don’t want what I can do. I want what God can do,” he said, reminding listeners that, as Ephesians 3:20 says, God is able to do “above and beyond all that we ask or think.”

This desire to be part of the great things God had planned was the very thing that spawned the original Sandy Creek revival movement, Avant said.

In his address to the youth, Avant pointed to another example of a powerful revival movement that began in Wales because of the testimony of one teenage girl who stood up for Christ.

Avant’s advice to the youth was straightforward and evangelistic.

“Realize God knows who you are, that He won’t accept your excuses and that He wants to do something great with you,” Avant said. “Tonight can be the most important night of your life because you can meet Jesus personally.”

Six students made professions of faith and two others dedicated their lives to Christian ministry during the service.

Dan Cathy, president of Chick-Fil-A, Inc., also spoke to the seminary community. He said the source of his success was simple: living by the unchanging principles of God’s Word.

“Many things have not changed,” Cathy said. “They will never change. We find that biblical principles work in the marketplace.”

Avant agreed, exhorting all those in attendance to correct the character deficit that exists in America by living godly lives.

“(The character deficit) is destroying our churches,” he said. “It’s destroying our business world. You are the defenders of America. Every time you choose to walk away from the things that will destroy your character, you are becoming a defender of America.”

In his final chapel message, Avant cautioned students about a sure way to cut short God-sized passion: moral impurity.

“Passion outside of God’s control leads to disaster,” Avant said. “Tune your spiritual ears to the voice of God in the area of your passions.”

Preaching from Genesis 39, in which Joseph flees the temptation of Potiphar’s wife, Avant reminded listeners that a Christian’s moral purity will not go unchallenged.

“Satan knows that we are all only one step away from stupidity,” he said, “and he knows that the effect of that sin is serious.”

Avant encouraged students that by establishing a biblically based personal game plan for their lives, they could avoid becoming numbered among those who lose their families and ministries because of sexual sin. He also encouraged students to make an emergency game plan in advance to implement when the enemy attacks.

His advice to students was to make a “life love” decision for Jesus, just as Joseph did, and never let any sin get in the way of their relationship with their Savior.

“The key to spiritual power and a life of success was [that] Joseph said, ‘Lord, I love you more than I love sin,'” Avant said.

This kind of commitment exemplifies passion for God, he added, sharing his own personal commitment to God.

“I’m going to love Him for the rest of my life, and nothing is ever going to come between Him and me,” Avant said.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: WHERE REVIVAL BEGINS.

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  • Kyle Smith