Revive Our Hearts Radio

From Death to Life

Leslie Basham: What is revival? Dan Jarvis provides a vivid picture.

Dan Jarvis: I recently had a friend who had a tragedy in their lives and a family member almost died. They said the paramedics came and they put the paddles on, and they revived her. And I was saying, now there is the power of that word. That is really the state of churches. That is the state of spirituality in America. We need God to put the paddles on and revive us again.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, May 16.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You often hear us talk about revival on Revive Our Hearts. As our name suggests, that’s part of our DNA. Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action, which is a ministry that is committed to seeking God for true revival among His people. At Life Action, we are asking God to move in a sweeping, large-scale revival that will transform the hearts of God’s people and impact this entire nation. We are also asking Him to be reviving individual hearts day by day.

One of the ways that Life Action fulfills these goals is that they have teams that travel to churches nine-to-ten months a year to hold what we call revival summits. These usually last anywhere from a week to two weeks. Today you’ll learn more about what revival is by hearing from some of the men who travel with their families and with their teams from city to city as a part of Life Action Ministries. These guys have seen firsthand how God can transform individuals and entire churches as He sends revival. These experiences have deepened their desire to see God move in a widespread spiritual awakening in our day.

You’re going to be hearing from the leaders of three teams that travel across the country as part of Life Action Ministries—Ryan Loveing, Steve Canfield, and Laine Johnson. We’ll also be hearing from Dan Jarvis. Dan used to travel with one of the Life Action teams and now serves as a pastor at a church in the Cleveland, Ohio area. Dan is helping to give leadership to a new initiative called OneCry which you’ll hear about later in today’s program.

Our staff talked with Ryan, Steve, Laine, and Dan, and they asked these men when they first remember experiencing a burden for revival. Now I understand that the term revival carries some baggage with it. People have a lot of different conceptions and some misconceptions about what revival really is. So as Leslie brings you these stories, I think you’ll gain a better understanding of what we mean when we say revival and how it could affect you.

Leslie: From an early age, Dan Jarvis wanted to see a widespread move of people to God.

Dan: My first understanding of revival came from just reading a child’s history book about America and the Great Awakenings. I was twelve years old. I remember very distinctly going to my mom and saying, “Mom, why doesn’t a Great Awakening happen now?” She was a new Christian; my whole family was. We had no idea what we were talking about. She said, “I don’t know. I’ve heard that for that to happen, people have to pray.”

So as a twelve-year-old, I said, “Well, why don’t we pray? Maybe we should get our church together and pray.” And she said, “Yes, that sounds like a good idea. You should call our pastor.”

Well, one thing led to another, and pretty soon word got out that a twelve-year-old was calling for a revival prayer day. And so January 25, 1992, ended up being a day that prayer was observed all over the world. We had phone calls coming from all over the planet. I ended up on the radio, not really even knowing what I was doing, in cities all across America doing these phone-in interviews.

I remember I was on the phone with a guy who was writing up a news report for a Christian wire service. He asked what denomination I was. I said, “I’m not sure. I have to ask my mom.” So I was a complete beginner. When I look at it from today’s . . . If you were to look at it from a marketing perspective or something, it really was so simple. It was just this black and white letter. It had 2 Chronicles 7:14 on it, and it said, “Pass the word. Pray for revival. January 25.” And what that sparked in a lot of people’s lives was just a motivator to start to pray and to start to tune into the revival concept—the revival work.

For me, it changed everything. For my church, it was very significant. As I look back in my life, a lot of the opportunities that I’ve had since have all tied to that moment. That was really how I connected to Life Action initially. So for me, revival has always been tied to that vision of what could God do if revival really did sweep our churches and if that resulted in a great awakening among the lost in our country? Perhaps even as desperate as our culture feels and as difficult as the days become, perhaps there really is hope. God has done it before and He could do it again.

And so the answer is the same today, of course, as it was in 1992. We have to pray. It really was that simple. It really is that simple—that we pray, we repent, and in humility we ask God to visit us and to bring His power and presence.

Leslie: That’s Dan Jarvis remembering the incident that sparked a passion for revival in his heart. Laine Johnson also remembers when his burden for revival began.

Laine Johnson: I think, for me, the burden for revival came from the Lord bringing two or three different circumstances together. One, I grew up in a church that I saw as a teenager the apathy and the complacency. It really bothered me, and I didn’t want to go down that road. And then at seventeen, the Lord called me into ministry over a two-week period of time. I just felt this overwhelming burden and sense to proclaim the Word of God which would not have been a comfort zone for me at seventeen years old.

Then the third thing that He brought in was not only a dissatisfaction with where I saw church life and now a new-found call of God upon my life to proclaim truth, but He exposed me to some revival teaching and some history of revival. In fact, I have a book in front of me right now called The Shantung Revival that took place in China back in the earlier 1900s. It was that book at seventeen years old, after God called me, that was my first exposure to historical revival accounts.

My heart was thrilled to see that God was still doing the extraordinary—doing powerful things—changing whole cultures and societies. To me, as a seventeen-year-old, it appeared that it was like the book of Acts all over again except that it was nineteen hundred years after that. And so that burned in me a fire and a zeal and a cry to God that has been true for twenty or thirty years now—that God would do it again, in this nation, in America.

Steve Canfield: I would have been one of the apathetic, complacent teenagers that Laine was disgusted with in high school.

Leslie: This is Steve Canfield.

Steve: I went to Bible College to play sports, not really to go to Bible College. I came to Life Action at the age of twenty-three not really knowing what Life Action or revival was. I just wanted to travel and see America. I got here and I saw some people who were living things I had heard preached. My burden for revival really came from the founder of our ministry, Del Fehsenfeld, Jr. who started this ministry in 1971. I came in 1975.

He was my “Paul in the faith”—discipled me in the ways of revival—the truths of revival. I saw in his life truths lived that I’d heard preached. I’d been to Bible College, and I was in church all my life, but I never really saw somebody live the things that I heard preached. That impacted my life. His burden for revival in America was contagious. And that sparked a burden in my heart to see God do again what He’s done three times at least in our nation’s history.

Leslie: These revivalists know that when they arrive in church for a Life Action Summit, people come to see these revival meetings with a lot of different expectations.

Laine: I’m from the South, and particularly in the South, revival has another whole connotation that generally, historically, it’s been evangelistic meetings. So when you go into a church, especially down South, and you say we are going to have revival meetings, they think, “Oh good! I hope some people get saved.” They are not coming to be vitalized themselves or brought back to new life. So there are a lot of hurdles, I think, we have to get over when we go into a local church—or even this whole discussion about revival. It has so many tentacles that are different from each other.

Steve: I grew up in the West, and I think revival for us was just a meeting. It didn’t have to do with evangelism. It could be a Bible conference. Any series of meetings were just called revival. You had a Fall revival and a Spring revival. It had nothing to do with the content. It just said that’s the time on the calendar. So we have to overcome in people’s minds as we go in what we are even there for. This is not a Bible conference. This is not evangelism. This is personal encounter with God for the life of believers, and there’s a lot of hurdles to come over as Laine said.

Dan: I think the motives for revival can be mixed up in that we might want revival for a church because we want our church to grow or we want new excitement—we want fresh stories to tell or great testimonies. Revival is really about Jesus. It’s not about that America would get better or about our city would have things. It’s not even about me personally having a closer walk with God—that’s the result of revival. It could be that revival would spill out and change our whole culture or our whole nation. But the real objective is to glorify God.

So what’s complicated is that when people come to a revival, it could be that what’s attracting them. Or when they come to a revival meeting, they might be attracted by the thought that this is going to be exciting and I’m going to get built up, and this is going to be a mountain top. And for a lot of people, that really is the case. That is what a revival meeting feels like, but that’s not what the end result is supposed to be. Ultimately, we want God to be glorified whether or not that feels good or whether or not that grows our church or heals our nation. It has to do with Him.

Leslie: So these guests sometime have to explain what revival isn’t. But they also love talking about what revival is. Here’s Laine Johnson.

Laine: I was thinking about Psalms 85 a while ago and in verse 6, it says: “Will thou not thyself revive us again . . .” And revive means just to bring back to life again—and that’s to the people of God. Well, number one, God does it. But why? It goes on to say, “. . . that thy people may rejoice in thee.”

I was just pondering a while ago, when we were all talking around the table. It just came to me. I was thinking about all the different things that people are rejoicing in today—the things that “make us happy”—whether it’s our homes or our health or happiness or money or all kinds of things. Those things have become our focus. Whenever that happens, it’s kind of like the old gospel song says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth [or this world] will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”

The problem is that the church, His people, are not looking at His face. We are looking at all the other things that “bring us happiness.” We know ultimately they don’t, but we tend to be striving after those, I think.

So what is revival? It is God so manifesting His glory in our presence that we look back to Christ. Very quickly we can say, “We want revival for this reason and this reason and this reason.” But those things have to be secondary. The primary drive has to be for the glory and the exaltation—the preeminence of Christ. And historically when revival comes, that’s what happens. God returns His people to be in love with Him, to delight in Him, their passion is for Him, they rejoice in Him. And then all the other things that tend to get our attention, they grow strangely dim.

Steve: Revival is any remarkable improvement in the devotion of God’s people towards Himself. The word revival is new vival, is life or again life. So it’s life again. That’s why we say revival is different than evangelism because some people need to be vived. They don’t need revival. They need vival. They need life.

And so revival is addressing the dead areas in our lives where we’ve lost our first love or our lack of devotion, where we've let the things of the world take our vision. And where once again, Christ is exalted; Christ is first place. God’s kingdom is our motive, not our kingdoms and our churches and even our ease.

Dan: Steve, in that respect, it could be that people who are completely unfamiliar with Christianity might actually have a better definition of the word revive or revival than we do because we’re all muddled up in theology and in background and traditions and all these things.

I recently had a friend who had a tragedy in their lives and a family member almost died. They said the paramedics came and they put the paddles on, and they revived her. And I was saying now there is the power of that word. That’s really the state of churches, that’s the state of spirituality in America. We need God to put the paddles on and revive us again. It’s not something sleepy. It’s not something academic. It’s life and death. We need to wake up.

Steve: Shocking.

Ryan: And the thing you’ve got to remember about revival, though, is that it is not a one-time event.

Leslie: This is Ryan Loveing.

Ryan: We continuously need to be revived because the tyranny of the urgent draws us away from the Lover of our soul. We all have families. We all have life issues that we’re confronted with and without recognizing it these become issues of great importance in our life that draw us away from intimacy, from being renewed in oneness with the Lover of our soul. God’s people have to be reminded of that on an on-going basis.

Steve: I think that is so important to remember that it is a point and a process. We’ve been talking about that. Revival is not just a two-week meeting. It’s not a one-time event. But it is a life change. We were at a meeting years ago. A year later we came back and interviewed a lady. She said, “God taught me a year ago that revival is not a touch, it is a takeover.” And sometimes we’re looking for that touch. We’re looking for that mountain top experience. But revival is a life change—a takeover in our life.

It comes at certain points where God descends and meets with us. We’ve seen that in our nation’s history. We often say in our meetings that revival is like taking a bath. You don’t take one and say, “That will last me for a lifetime.” There are times to take a bath. And there are times when God meets with His people in supernatural ways. Then we walk daily in the process of growing in sanctification—of continued devotion. Those points are things that God reveals Himself to us in ways that give us again the impetus to continue on in the process God has us in.

Laine: I think we rightly make the distinction between what we call within our ministry “little r-revival” and “big R-revival.” Even in this discussion we are going to kind of cross lines back and forth a little bit. Because of the change in an individual life, we would say that person is renewed—revived—revitalized—brought to new life—in unique and extraordinary ways. Not just the normal process of sanctification, but revival is an expedited, intense, shortened period of time where God does a deep work of sanctification in renewing of individuals.

But the “big R-revival” is when He does that same thing among a larger group of people. And now you have dozens, hundreds, thousands, that all at the same time with one voice are sanctified in such ways that Christ becomes everything. And then it’s explosive. And then that is what we would call “big R-revival.” It leads to many believers that are deeply in love with Christ and are being sanctified by the work of the Holy Spirit.

The overflow of that in society and culture is that people begin to see a difference in not just a person but in the people of God. There is a new hunger and thirst that often God creates in the lost then of wanting what they see that presently the church doesn’t have.

When people look at the church today, I think we all agree the number one term that we hear and have for decades is the church just is full of a bunch of hypocrites. In revival season, that changes. They become authentic. There will be a new authenticity among Christianity that I believe will deeply affect this nation.

Dan: I’ll be honest with you guys. One of the reasons that I’m involved in any of this at all is exactly this concept that it’s not just that revival would transform our churches. But it’s the fact that could propel a move that could finish the Great Commission in our generation. When you look back in history, the Great Awakenings were the energy behind a lot of the mission movements and mission societies that were founded. And they did incredible work in their day, and they carried the gospel across the world.

Today, imagine what would happen if the church of America was awake and alive and holy and obedient and mobilized. We could finish the Great Commission, and ultimately God’s big scale plan. We could have a small part to play in that. But it is not something that could be human generated. And so that’s why we are asking God to send revival. We need a fresh presence from Him to give us the energy, the impetus to be able to do what He’s commanded us to do.

Leslie: That’s Dan Jarvis, a pastor in the Cleveland, Ohio, area. He used to travel with Life Action Ministries. Dan is also helping provide leadership to a new initiative from Life Action called OneCry for Spiritual Awakening. We also heard from other revivalists with Life Action, Ryan Loveing, Laine Johnson, and Steve Canfield.

Our guests shared today about how a passion for revival grew in their hearts. I hope today’s program is doing the same for you. Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss with some ways you can put that passion into action.

Nancy: You have a unique opportunity to be part of praying that God will awaken His people once again. Life Action Ministries and Revive Our Hearts have just announced the launch of OneCry. That’s a way that you can connect with other believers and earnestly pray that God will transform our nation through revival. My friend, Byron Paulus, is the executive director of Life Action Ministries. And we asked him to share more about this new OneCry initiative.

Byron Paulus: Thanks, Nancy. Thousands of people have joined the OneCry movement. When you get involved in OneCry, here’s what will happen. You’ll receive some material to walk you through a process. First, to evaluate your own life, are there any sins you need to confess? We call this first step: Turn.

Then comes the next step: Pray. You’ll commit to urgently crying out to God to bring revival to our nation. And finally step three: You unite. You join with others in a OneCry group or start your own.

When you are in a group, you’ll get regular communication about ways to pray. You’ll be encouraged by members of the group to keep praying. And you’ll encourage others. I hope you’ll get more details and start crying out to God with us.

Nancy: Thank you, Byron, and thanks for your leadership in this OneCry initiative. It’s been such a joy to see God putting this on your heart and birthing this ministry through your leadership. Now to take the next step and get involved in OneCry, just visit our website, ReviveOurHearts.com. We have link there where you can get all the details about becoming involved in OneCry.

Leslie: Nancy we are able to share a message of revival and Biblical womanhood each weekday thanks to listeners who believe in Revive Our Hearts and support the ministry financially. When you donate any amount, we’ll send you a copy of the helpful book on revival written by the founder of Life Action Ministries, Del Fehsenfeld, Jr. It’s called, Ablaze with His Glory. It will help you understand revival better and understand how to pray for it fervently.

Your gift will help us to speak to women like the one who wrote from North Dakota. She wrote to Nancy:

Thank you for being a single woman who teaches younger women like me to pursue God. I’m twenty-eight and still single, although marriage and motherhood are on my heart. Your heart, love for God, and passion for women to be women encouraged me. Thank you for being a godly example to me.

Nancy, I am so thankful to be a part of the team that allows women like her to be encouraged through Revive Our Hearts.

Nancy: Yes, that really is a privilege, Leslie. And everyone on the Revive Our Hearts team plays an important role as women are hearing God’s Word and are learning how to live it out in their own situation. Those who pray for this ministry and support it financially are an equally important part of that team.

Now this month, I’m asking every listener, if you’ve benefited from Revive Our Hearts, would you take a step in giving back to the ministry so that we can continue providing this biblical teaching that women so desperately need to hear? Here’s how I hope everyone will get involved.

First, we can all pray. Please join us in asking the Lord to provide $350,000 in listener support during the month of May. Would you pray that He’ll provide all that we need here at the end of this fiscal year? Pray with us that our listeners will max out a $100,000 matching challenge for first-time supporters. That’s a significant part of meeting our overall goal. And finally, would you ask the Lord, “What would You want me to give?” Even if it is a small amount, I want you to know that you are making an investment that will last for eternity. You are partnering with Revive Our Hearts playing a part in helping women connect with God’s Word and live it out.

Remember to ask for a copy of the book Ablaze with His Glory when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size. You can ask for the book when you give us a call at 1-800-569-5959. Or if you prefer, you can make your donation online by visiting us at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie: Do you have questions about today’s program, comments about something you enjoy? I hope you’ll share them on the Revive Our Hearts listener blog. Our guest, Dan Jarvis, will be participating on the blog today, responding to comments and questions. Visit www.ReviveOurHearts.com. Click on today’s program. Scroll to the end of the transcript and add your comment or question.

Tomorrow our panel of revivalists will be back. They’ll address an important question. “What’s the difference between genuine revival and emotionalism?” Please be back for Revive Our Hearts. 

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

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the radio series.

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