Revive Our Hearts Podcast

A Desperate Need

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Everybody has a story.

Woman 1: I was thinking about myself. I was not thinking about my baby. And the worst part is that I wanted everybody to think I was a perfect mom.

Emily: My daughter was born, and after she was three months old, is when I got severe post-partum depression, and I ended up twice in the psych ward. The police brought me. The first time I cut my arm open, and the second time I took a bottle of Ibuprofen.

Nancy: At Revive Our Hearts we’re looking back over the year and reflecting on some of the wonderful stories that God’s been doing.

Woman 1: When I started listening to this teaching of Nancy, I felt so confronted. For the first time in my life I could see myself as a sinner.

Emily: I clicked on one of the radio programs, and I felt like instantly my heart was just changed by listening to this. I felt calmer. I felt like this was truth. I was hearing pure truth.

Nancy: From now through the end of the year, you can discover new stories each day at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Emily: God just really started undoing a lot of the feminist thinking that had been ingrained in me from a pretty young age.

Nancy: We know the Lord is going to write many more beautiful stories out of women’s lives in 2013, and we’re asking Him to allow Revive Our Hearts to be part of those stories.

We want to help provide turning points for countless women who need to know true hope as is found in Christ.

Woman 2: What a revelation. I’m not called to regulate every move my husband makes and to change him. I am called to glorify and worship and obey the God who made me and forgave me for my sins.

Nancy: And you can be part of the story of what God is doing in women’s lives through Revive Our Hearts. The financial support of our listeners is a critical part of that process, especially here at the end of the year. Let me just remind you that when you donate to Revive Our Hearts between now and December 31, your gift will be doubled as part of a matching challenge of $450,000.

So let me encourage you to go to ReviveOurHearts.com. Read and watch the stories about what God is doing through the ministry and learn more about some of the current needs of the ministry. And would you pray and ask the Lord if He would want you to have a part in helping to meet those needs?

For all the details, visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com and click on “Will You Be Part of the Story?”

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, November 29.

Nancy: When Revive Our Hearts first went on the air just over eleven years ago, we began sharing a vision for revival, asking the Lord to visit His people in a fresh way. Since that time, our world seems to have grown even more bleak. Humanly speaking, I think you’d agree that the challenges facing our nation seem insurmountable.

I believe that the need for revival and spiritual awakening in the United States and throughout the world has never been any more evident in my lifetime. But the good news is that it also appears that God is raising up more and more people with a heart and burden for revival. I’m hearing all the time from groups and individuals that are praying for God to visit His people once again.

Not long ago a group of pastors gathered to share their hearts for revival. That discussion was moderated by Byron Paulus who is the Executive Director of Life Action Ministries, and Life Action is the parent organization of Revive Our Hearts.

Over the next couple of days, we’re going to hear what these church leaders had to say about our need for revival. I’ll introduce each speaker when you hear them for the first time, but we’ll begin with Byron Paulus who helps us with the definition for revival.

Byron Paulus: Sometimes the word revival carries with it either baggage or misconceptions, and I don’t want to take for granted that we all know what we’re talking about, what we’re describing when we say the word revival. And for me, it’s been helpful to understand first what it is not. And maybe if we can grasp what revival is not, it will help kind of narrow the options down to what it really is.

So, what is not revival that may be a misconception?

Dr. Erwin Lutzer: A series of meetings in a church that has a sign outside the door that says, “Revival here every Friday night.”

Nancy: This is Dr. Erwin Lutzer, pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.

Dr. Lutzer: That’s not revival.

Byron: I passed one once that said, “Revival here every night this week except Tuesday.” And then it had the word “BINGO” next to it. (Laughter)

Pastor Michael Catt: Well, I think sometimes we allow the excesses of revival to define it.

Nancy: This is Michael Catt, pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia.

Pastor Catt: There can be great emotionalism in revival, but where it shakes out is in depth. I heard Ron Dunn say, “God never does His deepest work in the shallowest part of our being.” And revival is a deep work. It’s not a stirring of emotions that I have to come back next week and have my emotions stirred. It is a bending of my will to God. It is a breaking of my will before God. It is a desperation in my heart for God.

The devil will have a counterfeit revival that will come in, and I think some people are afraid of revival because they’re afraid they don’t know how to discern what is of God and what is not of God. That’s where the Spirit of God has to give us a check to know what to do.

They questioned the revival in Acts 2. “These men are drunk.” But obviously it had some effects that are still impacting our lives.

Pastor Jim Cymbala: I think revival definitely (I was just going to say—my brother beat me to it) is not emotionalism. It’s not something you can work up. It’s not frenzy.

Nancy: This is Pastor Jim Cymbala from the Brooklyn Tabernacle.

Pastor Cymbala: I, too, agree that some of the excesses of the Charismatic Movement have made a lot of people who love their Bibles draw back and go, “I don’t know about that. If that’s revival, if that’s the Holy Spirit, I’m not . . . I want out.” So it’s not that.

It’s also not a full church. Church could be full and packed. It doesn’t mean there’s revival happening because really revival is judged like ministry is judged. We don’t know how good a pastor is, no matter what an orator he is in the building, until you walk among the people. If the people are not filled with love, if the people are not lovers of God’s Word, if they’re not pursuing a more Christ-like life, then that minister might be drawing crowds, but he’s not effective. So it’s not a full church.

We can draw and fill a church without the Spirit of God at all. In fact, my friend Warren Wiersbe has said (I don’t know who he was quoting, but he said), “Sometimes the Holy Spirit could leave some churches and they wouldn’t notice for five or ten years because they’re not depending on Him to do what they’re doing anyway.”

So it’s not a full church, but it’s not an empty church, either. It can only be judged by the Word of God, and what I looked at is Acts chapter 2, which is the earliest description of the church, where souls are being saved, where they are attending and devoting themselves to the Word of God, the apostles’ doctrine, where there is a Spirit of love and koinonia, where they’re sharing everything, where they’re breaking bread together, eating meals, serving communion together and prayers.

When that’s not happening, you can’t say it’s revival because that’s how the early church began, that’s how they affected the world, and in my way of thinking, revival is really God trying to bring the church back to what He planned for it to be so it could affect the world that He put it into.

Pastor Bill Elliff: I think revival is also not personality driven.

Nancy: This is Bill Elliff, pastor of the Summit Church in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Pastor Elliff: I mean, we see a lot of things around a lot of big personalities. It’s not that God doesn’t use personalities, and God may exalt a man in the middle of revival because He desires to use him.

I was just reading yesterday that in the Welsh Revival, they saw the stirrings. There were a lot of signs that God was about to move. Seth Joshua, who was a prominent young man, began to pray, “God, raise up an unknown leader in this moment so that all the glory goes to You.”

And here was this twenty-something-year-old Bible college student who God had been stirring in his heart, who stepped out of the shadows, really, to go home to his youth group because a burden was on his heart. The Lord had given him a vision, and Evan Roberts became, really, the prominent figure in that moment, but he didn’t seek to be that. In fact, he sought not to be that very vigorously.

So I think the only personality in revival is with a capital “P”—it’s one Personality, and if you see a movement that is exalting men, and there’s pride and unbrokenness, a lack of humility, it doesn’t have the fragrance of revival about it.

Revival is about God. I love Dick Roberts’ definition of revival: “It’s the extraordinary movement of the Spirit of God.” There’s a normal work that He does all the time, but then there’s this extraordinary work that He does that brings a course correction to the church and to a nation. It is really opening up heaven and the kingdom of heaven is coming down, and we’re seeing His kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. God’s saying, “That’s what it is. I want to remind you again: This is what this is all about, and bring you back on this course.”

It’s really God just having His rightful place.

Dr. Lutzer: I just wanted to say that I know there was one revivalist (I’m sorry, I don’t recall the name) who said that they used to pray until God took the work out of their hands. In other words, it was beyond what a human being could do.

But I want to say also regarding the authenticity of revival. In retrospect, looking back at what happened to Canada, there’s some lessons there we need to learn. I don’t know if we’ll get into them today or not, but one of the ways we know that was an authentic revival is that during times of revival, God calls people to ministry. You had throughout Canada a lot of people who left their regular jobs. They became missionaries. They became pastors. You could go through Western Canada today (and what are we talking about—forty years later?—am I that old, really?) forty years later, there are people today still walking with God, serving God uniquely.

Now, I heard this about Wheaton College during the 40s when there was a revival. Who was there? Billy Graham and Carl F. Henry and a number of others. Now, those are the things you don’t always see immediately. They are further proof at a later time of the authenticity that God was doing a special work.

Byron: And you mentioned Wheaton. Many of the folks in here would be familiar with, I think it was the late 90s in John Evans’ church in Brownwood, Texas, when God began a work. They would send some of the students and people out to share stories, much like Canada. One of them landed up at Wheaton College. I got a call that said, “You need to come and see what God is doing.”

I sat in the balcony that night and took notes on fifty-five testimonies from these students and faculty at Wheaton College. I was first of all wondering if the Word of God would be prevalent. And fifty out of the fifty-five quoted a verse that God had used in their lives. But what was so interesting, in light of what Erwin just said, is they had like fifteen students that were signed up to major in their missions major at that point. That fall there were 300 that had signed up for missions and to study missions to go overseas. It was just a picture of what happens, even in a week’s period of time, when those students were meeting with God and how God calls them.

Pastor Cymbala: To pick up on what Brother Erwin said, really, that’s again a return to the book of Acts. “As they worshiped the Lord,” Acts 13, “and ministered to him, the Spirit said, ‘Separate me Paul and Barnabas to the work that I’ve called them.’” So the Bible is our guide. When there’s a revival that doesn’t end up with the New Testament, you’re going into cultural revivalism, just like there’s cultural evangelicalism, cultural Pentecostalism. But our goal has to be to return to the New Testament model, which is—what? The church was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Now, let’s use the word controlled instead of filled. When someone is full of the devil, they’re controlled by evil spirits. When a church is filled with the Holy Spirit—and obviously all churches are not filled with the Holy Spirit, otherwise we wouldn’t need revival—so, to get some doctrinal position where, “No, don’t, let’s talk about the Holy Spirit, because we’re all filled. That’s emotionalism, or experientialism.”

No. The church in Laodicea that Jesus was outside the door. They were not a spirit-controlled, spirit-filled church. But revival is nothing more than saying, “God, come back and control us. Control the preacher. Control the meetings.” And when God controls, suddenly there are missionaries going out. There’s prayer. There’s Bible study. There’s hunger to repent of sin, and these things can only be produced by the Holy Spirit.

Pastor Catt: Another thing related to what we’re saying here is that revival is not just about revival. I mean, revival is returning to Christ. It’s Him. It’s coming back to Him. And so all the things that happen when we encounter Him begin to happen again—the Acts 2 kinds of things.

I’ve been studying this a lot lately to see if this is a true statement—I believe it is, the best I can study. I think you can trace every major modern missionary movement to a season of revival. You look at the Moravian Movement—came out of the Moravian Pentecost. You look at 1800s, the Second Great Awakening, birthed all kinds of things in Europe and America—the boards of denominations, the American Bible Society—all of these came out of seasons of revival, and that can be documented.

If we say we’re having revival and yet we don’t have God’s heart for the lost, and it doesn’t compel us for missionary advance . . . I mean, this is what happened: They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the Word of God with boldness. That’s the end result—the gospel is advanced rapidly in seasons of revival.

My contention is until there’s great Christ-centered repentance and great Christ-centered preaching, that there will be no great commission resurregence because the problem is that carnal people don’t care about lost people. Revived people, people full of Jesus care about lost people. Sometimes we’re trying to convince people that don’t need revival—they need an awakening because they’ve never been saved in the first place. We need an awakening and a revival.

Byron: Tom, your brother, Bill, shared with me and your close friend, Michael, as he was helping us to edit and put together a Declaration of National Spiritual Emergency, that on that particular day in August, he said, “Byron, we have now identified (I forget the exact number, I think he said) 3,250 people groups where no one is stationed with the gospel. We have exactly that number of individuals by name ready to go to each of those locations, and we just received so many dollars (which he shared) to be able to implement that.

"So we know where they are, we have people ready to go, and we have the money, but our greatest need has not been met. There is no use going until God sends revival so the power of God goes with them. Then we’ll see the Great Commission.”

Let me just jump here. We’ve talked a lot about what revival is, what it isn’t. Someone said one time, “You can’t manufacture it,” and we know that, “and produce and make revival happen, but we can set our sails to catch the wind when God chooses to blow up on His people once again.” So talk to each other and to us a little bit about what it means to set the sails to catch the wind when God chooses to blow up on His people. How do you set sails?

Dr. Lutzer: Oh, I think the person who should really speak to that is Jim Cymbala, but I would simply say, first of all, I think it begins in the pulpit and the responsibility of the pastor to lift the people to the vision of Jesus, the new vision of Jesus that we need to have. I think that’s part of it.

The other part is, of course, a sense of realness and honesty in our churches. I think that comes about through small groups, through the confession of sin because let us simply admit—and this is certainly true in my life and probably in the lives of a lot of people—it is so easy for us to live and operate one way regarding the way in which people view us and who we really are. It’s that gap, I think, that is oftentimes is the problem.

So, to set the sails, I think there are many things. It has to do with preaching. It has to do with emphasis. It has to do with lifestyle. But I’ve often been convicted of the words of Saint Francis of Assisi. Someone came to him and said to him, “Art thou Saint Francis?”

And he said, “Yes.”

And then the man said, “Take heed that thou be as good as men believe thee to be.”

I’ve often thought of the fact: Are you a minister of the gospel? People actually think you’re good. They have you on a pedestal. Right? And some of us, maybe unintentionally or intentionally promote that pedestal. Are we as good as people believe us to be?

Remember the quote of Machan who said, “The greatest contribution I can make to my congregation is my personal holiness”?

So I think, Byron, those things are essential, but I’m sure that’s not the end of the story.

Pastor Cymbala: Well, obviously, repentance of sin has to be at the top of the list because those are the obstacles that grieve the Holy Spirit. Revival is the Holy Spirit coming again with fresh wind, fresh fire, fresh blessing on the church. Then sin would hinder that. So it’s up to the pastors and preachers here—that’s a challenge, isn’t it?—to not tell people what they want to hear but to tell people what they need to us. A lot of us don’t have the courage. We need the Holy Spirit to revive us to get the courage to do that.

I was preaching about the terrible prejudices that’s in so many denominations and churches—white prejudice, which goes back from the beginning of our country—the terrible history of slavery. And then the horrible black prejudice that there is in inner-cities now where black people hate the white man and all of that. My wife and I have felt and witnessed both kinds.

While I was speaking about it in a service, I felt moved upon by the Spirit to just get in people’s kitchen about it—hopefully in a loving way—and say, “How are we going to move ahead with God if God is love, and we don’t care for the people that Christ died for? Why do we even have a church? Just shut it down! It’s a joke! It’s ridiculous! God is love, but we’re not going to exhibit love, and yet we’re going to pound the Bible and talk about the deep things of the Word?

So I was preaching, and there was a great breaking. It led to a time of real intense prayer and humbling. But just as that was happening, three people got up who were visiting and looked up, and as they were going out, one of them just turned to me—I will never forget it. I can still feel it in my heart now. And it just went like this: The guy lifted his hand at me like that—and then they walked out.

Well, that stunned me, and that hurt me. I felt the Holy Spirit reminding me, “Better to have them in or out”—in and changed, or out because they don’t want to. But the worst thing to do is just keep preaching with folks—as our brother Michael was just saying here—just living the same wrong life week after week, listening to our preaching. So revival begins with that, which is tough for us pastors

If I could just add one other thing, which I think is the hardest for a lot of us, depending on your background. It would be to let go of the meeting and not control it. Most meetings are so controlled by the front and so timed and everything. We’ve got the whole thing sequenced because we’re imitating AT&T or Apple; we’re imitating corporate America. We’re not imitating the New Testament. We need things slick and just cutting edge because that shows we’re efficient. You can’t have a revival on your schedule or on my schedule. Where the Spirit blows, it blows. It just goes where it wants.

And now you can say, “Yeah, but that’s old-fashioned emotionalism. That’s fanaticism.” Listen, if God could lead the Israelites for forty years, He could lead you and I through a service, can’t He? Can I get an amen here? He can lead us that way, but that takes the courage of discerning what to do next. That’s the hardest thing we all face, and you all face.

Anybody can make cookie-cutter services, but then you’re never going to have the Holy Spirit. Have your service, and God is probably saying to us, “You want to have a service without Me? Have it. But you’ll get the fruit of that. Or you could let Me come in and direct you.”

Now, how does that direction work? Well, that’s another whole thing, but one thing I’m sure of, I can’t have God if I’m in control.

Nancy: That’s Pastor Jim Cymbala from the Brooklyn Tabernacle encouraging us to lean on the power of the Holy Spirit and not on our own power. You’ve also heard from Dr. Erwin Lutzer, pastor of Moody Church in Chicago, and Michael Catt, pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church in Georgia, and Bill Elliff, pastor of the Summit Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. Byron Paulus was the moderator of that discussion on the importance of revival.

Now, I know there are many listening today whose hearts have been stirred as you’ve listened to this conversation. You hear conversations like this, and there’s a deep longing in your heart to see God revive His people in our day. Well, if that’s the cry of your heart, I want to invite you to join thousands of other people around the country and around the world who are crying out to the Lord for revival.

Revive Our Hearts is part of an initiative called OneCry for Spiritual Awakening. God is at work through the OneCry Movement, calling His people to unite together in fervent prayer for revival and spiritual awakening.

So I want to encourage you to visit our website and sign up as part of the Revive Our Hearts OneCry group. When you do, we’ll send you regular updates on how to effectively pray for spiritual awakening. You’ll be encouraged to hear the reports of others who are praying, and to know that you are adding your voice to thousands of others throughout this country and around the world.

For all the details on joining the Revive Our Hearts OneCry group, visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy.

What does it look like when a church experiences revival? You’ll hear about it tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

 

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