Repent of idolatry, Blackaby says at Cedars
By Ken Camp
Texas Baptist Communications
CEDAR HILL–Prayers for revival will go unanswered until Christians repent of idolatry, Henry Blackaby told participants at the Cedars of Lebanon spiritual awakening retreat.
“Revival tarries because we will not return to God,” said Blackaby, author of the popular “Experiencing God” discipleship materials. “A major reason for departing (from God) is idolatry. … Whatever you turn to when you ought to turn to God is an idol.”
Blackaby and his son, Richard, were featured speakers at the 15th annual Cedars retreat, sponsored by Texas Baptist Men. More than 300 people from 13 states and four countries attended the Labor Day weekend event at Mount Lebanon Baptist Encampment.
Idolatry is “something we fashion for ourselves out of our own substance,” Blackaby explained. In Christian circles, it may take the form of depending on “the words of men rather than the word of God,” he said.
Religious activity–even prayer and worship–can be an idol if it becomes the focus of Christian attention rather than directing believers toward God, he added. “Religious activity is not the same as a relationship. It is not the activity of prayer that is neglected. It is the relationship with God.”
“Evangelical idolatry” also may take the form of reshaping God to fit human desires, rather than allowing Scripture to shape the Christian's understanding of God's nature, he observed. And that's particularly true concerning the doctrine of eternal punishment.
“We have made God in our image, leaving out those elements we don't want to hear,” Blackaby said. “We are told we are not seeker-friendly if we speak on hell. But we are not God-friendly if we do not.”
God wants to speak to his people, but they must be ready to receive a word from God and then obey it, said Richard Blackaby, president of Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary in Cochrane, Alberta.
“Worship does not take the place of obedience,” he said. “Worship is what happens when the obedient child comes home to fellowship with the Father.”
Other speakers at the Cedars retreat were Richard Owen Roberts of International Awakening Ministries in Wheaton, Ill., and Don Miller, prayer seminar leader with Bible-Based Ministries in Fort Worth.
Roberts pointed to the need for godly spiritual leaders who will obey the moral law of God.
Miller used many of the object lessons–such as a yoke, a plow, a cream separator and broken glass–from his 12 previous messages at Cedars to remind participants that God wants his people to obey and spend time with him in prayer.
“Prayer is the welcome mat laid down for the Lord's visitation,” Miller said.