Is revival possible in our increasingly secular culture? It’s no secret that the anti-religious push to remove God from the public arena has only increased in recent decades. Since prayer and Bible-reading were banned from public schools in the early 1960s, even seemingly innocuous things like nativity scenes, monuments of the Ten Commandments, and Christmas carols have come under fire.
It was in response to this kind of secular pushback that renowned Southern Gospel singer Michael Combs wrote his popular song, “They’ll Never Take Jesus Out of My Heart,” in 1993. After hearing a moving sermon on the topic, Combs penned these heartfelt words:
They can take the Ten Commandments Off the courthouse walls They can even take all the manger scenes Out of the parks and malls They can take my blessed Bible Tear the pages all apart But they’ll never take my Jesus out of my heart
They can take away our right to pray Throw us all in jail But they can’t take away the life He gave Or send my soul to hell Yes, they can take my blessed Bible Tear the pages all apart But they’ll never take my Jesus out of my heart
Combs says his song is just as relevant today as it was 30 years ago. In fact, radio stations began playing the song again earlier this year, he says, and many people thought it was brand-new!
“This culture we're living in today is almost like it was in the book of Romans,” he says. “If you read Romans 1, it says that everyone was doing what was right in their own eyes. Nowadays, there's no ‘truth.’ There's no standard. Truth today is relative to what anyone interprets it to be. That's a sad state that we've gotten ourselves into.”
Praying for Revival in Our Nation
The answer to this concerning secular trend is a fresh revival, Combs says: “If a great revival is going to break out, I pray that God would give me an opportunity to espouse what truth is to these kids. I think God has allowed me to go through some things in my life where I can relate to them.”
Combs says he understands where a lot of today’s youth is coming from in their rejection of God. After all, despite growing up in a Christian household, he didn’t get saved until he was 30 years old. Instead of following God, he spent the first half of his life on drugs and alcohol.
But that all changed one night during a revival meeting, he says. When Pastor Johnny Hunt preached the gospel, Combs felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit and was born again.
“I cried out for mercy, and hallelujah, He heard me and saved me and made me like Paul, a new creation in Christ Jesus,” he recalls. “And he put me right to work. So it's almost like I've had two lives—the first 30 years weren’t so good. But the second 30, praise God, have been a lot better.”
Combs knows that if God can save a hard-hearted drug addict like he was 30 years ago, He can certainly turn this nation around. In fact, God promises to do exactly that if His people “humble themselves, and pray and seek [His] face, and turn from their wicked ways” (see 2 Chron. 7:14, ESV).
Combs prays that good work will begin during the upcoming 40 Days & Nights of Gospel Music event at the Ark Encounter from August 2 through September 10. Each day of the event will feature powerful Gospel singers along with strong Bible teachers from around the country.