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FIRST-PERSON: Starting with me & my church

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–Have you ever fainted? I did once, in a cafeteria. I had taken my sons and daughter-in-law to dinner while my wife was out of town. Standing in the line, I began to feel queasy.

By the time we started selecting dishes, all I could think of eating — and holding down — was Jell-O. At the table, I asked the waitress if they had a couch where I could lie down. They didn’t. The next thing I knew, I was flat on my back, under the table, being attended to by two physicians who had been dining at the next table. Later, my son Marty teased, “Dad, if we had gone to Taco Bell, there wouldn’t have been no doctors at the next table!”

I was doing a wedding once where the bride fainted. At first, I thought she was just swooning against her beloved father, but then she dissolved into a pile at the groom’s feet. The best man carried her to the church parlor and laid her out on the carpet and someone broke a capsule of smelling salts. She opened her eyes and said, “Oh, mother, I’ve embarrassed you in front of all your friends.” Mom said, “Hush.” I asked if she wanted to cut short any of the wedding material. She said, “No, not after all the planning we’ve done. But talk fast.”

In the church the word “revival” often refers to a series of special meetings, usually with an out-of-town singer or speaker. However, the word itself is summed up in what was done for me under the table and what was done for the bride at church — to bring out of a state of unconsciousness and restore to full alertness.

We’ve all seen Christians and entire churches that had fainted, in a manner of speaking, and desperately needed reviving. They were not conscious of the Lord’s presence, His power or His will. They were unconscious and unfeeling of the needs and opportunities all about them. They went through the motions of living, worshiping and ministering, but they were comatose. They felt no joy and no anguish. They were almost dead, and desperately in need of reviving.

All over the world, God’s people need reviving today. Here’s why:

— The ground grows hard and resistant. Break it up. Hosea 10:12 and Jeremiah 4:3.

— Our light grows dim. Shine it up. Matthew 5:16.

— Our fire grows weak. Stir it up. 2 Timothy 1:6.

— The workers grow tired. Build them up. Galatians 6:9.

— The world grows attractive. Give it up. 1 John 2:15.

— Our worship grows stale. Liven it up. John 4:24.

— Our soul grows dirty. Clean it up. 1 John 1:9 and 2 Timothy 2:21.

— Our eyes grow dim. Open them up. Ephesians 1:18.

— Our heart goes astray. Offer it up. Romans 12:1.

— Our prayer grows mechanical. Tune it up. Matthew 6:5f.

— Our giving grows miserly. Give it up. Luke 6:38.

— Our faith grows weak. Power it up. Hebrews 11:6.

The Lord Jesus once sent a love note to a church in the little Asia Minor town of Sardis. He spared no punches as He told them the truth about themselves:

“I know your works. You have a reputation for being alive, but you are dead. Be alert and strengthen what remains, which is about to die, for I have not found your works complete before My God. Remember therefore what you have received and heard; keep it, and repent. But if you are not alert, I will come like a thief, and you have no idea at what hour I will come against you.”

That’s Revelation 3:1-3, and it’s obvious that God sees our lack of spirituality and the absence of life as a serious matter.

The inimitable Vance Havner used to remind God’s people that revival is not an abnormal state for the Lord’s church, but instead, the way things ought to be all the time. In fact, he said, we’ve been subnormal for so long, if we ever got normal again, we’d think we were abnormal.

Today, let’s pray for the Lord to revive His people and His church. Starting with me and my church.
Joe McKeever is director of missions for the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans whose cartoons are featured on BP Lighter Side.

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  • Joe McKeever