Revive Our Hearts Radio

The Role of Emotion in Revival

Leslie Basham: If a revival is accompanied by strong emotions, does it mean that revival was not authentic? Was it just emotionalism? Here’s Dan Jarvis.

Dan Jarvis: To me, if you had a revival movement that felt just academic, and there was no emotion, that would also be suspect, just as much so as the excess emotion that feels like there’s no content.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, May 17.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: From the time I was a young teen, twelve or thirteen years of age, believe it or not, I’ve loved reading accounts of past revivals. When I see the way God has awakened His people throughout history, I find my heart crying out, “Lord, would you do it again?”

God is drawing together thousands of people asking that same question, asking Him to visit His people in revival in our day. You can be part of this exciting new movement called OneCry for Spiritual Awakening.

It’s a new initiative from Life Action Ministries, which is the parent organization of Revive Our Hearts. We’ll give you more details on OneCry at the end of the program and tell you how you can get involved. As we ask listeners to join us in crying out to the Lord for revival. We want to help you better understand what revival is—there are a lot of misconceptions about it—and what it looks like, practically.

To that end, we want to hear from some friends who travel across the country speaking about revival in local churches. These Life Action revivalists are my longtime friends and ministry colleagues: Steve Canfield, Laine Johnson, and Ryan Loveing. We’ll also be hearing from Dan Jarvis, who used to travel with one of the Life Action teams, and now serves as a pastor in the Cleveland, Ohio area.

Our staff talked with these men. As Leslie brings us their stories, you’ll better understand what we mean when we talk about revival, and we'll discover what it looks like when a heart is truly revived.

Leslie: During a season of revival, people spend extended time seeking the Lord in a concentrated way. Steve Canfield says this concentrated time is a part of ongoing growth.

Steve Canfield: Well, I think in the history of revivals, as you look at them in their most intense time, probably most of them didn’t last more than six months, because there is a fever pitch that God is working at, and you can’t maintain the intensity of that day-in and day-out.

There is an ebb and flow in all of our lives . . . there are mountains and valleys. We can’t live at church every night. We can’t live on the Mount of Transfiguration. That’s what our flesh wants, “Let’s just build a temple and stay here and live the rest of our lives.”

But when you’ve got to go to the doctor, and you have to go to the school, and you have a job, and you go back to the reality of life, then it’s, “Am I going to take these principles and these truths that God is working in me? Am I going to live them in my life?”

It’s not always a worship experience in the sense of what we think of as coming to church and music and services and whatever else. What we try to do when we go into a church is not to just say, “Come to these weeks of meetings because you’re going to have this great mountaintop experience . . ."

The reason we stay so long is to say, “Here’s how to live this. Here’s what it looks like on a daily basis. Here’s what it looks when you have to discipline your kids. Here’s how to love your wife. Here’s how to spend time with God on a daily basis.” So we are living in the reality of life, not just in some kind of euphoric experience.

Laine Johnson: I think for all of us, in our personal lives, if we were to draw a line, the line of our life and our spiritual growth, the line would not be a straight line. It would be a wavy line, just because of the nature that we have. We are not completely constant beings.

I think that translates into history as we look at societies, whether it’s the Old Testament or even our own American history. You see ups and downs in societies, you see ups and downs within us as individuals, and you even see ups and downs within church life.

Obviously, sanctification is an ongoing process of moving upward to being more Christ-like, but there are those points in time . . . whether it’s for six months or a year or two years. I agree with what Steve said, seasons of revival don’t last indefinitely because you couldn’t emotionally sustain that or the intensity of what goes on during those times. 

As we look back in history, all of those are points of time that have catapulted the church into new levels of sanctification and growth and the working and power of God. The world has been impacted by seasons of revival within nations, because then other nations are impacted and affected because of what God does in one place, and He spreads it into other places.

This ought to always be going on, but it’s not. So we, just like the Old Testament saints, go into times of idolatry. We go into times of self-centeredness, and God sends along prophets and shocks us back into the reality of where we’re to be walking.

Dan: Laine, what’s amazing about the Old Testament to me is the fact that people who saw God at work in incredible ways . . . the parting of the Red Sea . . . could a few months or a few years later be toying with the idea of worshiping idols, or completely walking away, and even complaining to God.

As humans, I think that we have that tendency. It could be that we reach a mountaintop and we really do grow in that period of revival. But that has to be sustained, not by the continued shock paddles of more and more revival, but hopefully by the disciplines that are put in place in our lives when we go through that period of revival.

We learn what it means to pray. We learn what it means to live our family life in a way that honors God. We learn how to study God’s Word and how to put Him first. Those carry us through, whatever valleys might lie ahead.

Leslie: Laine Johnson says when God draws us, there will often be an intellectual and emotional component. We think about God’s truth, and we experience Him.

Laine: Whenever God works, it is experiential.  I think that we have a little bit of the unnecessary dichotomy in our Western culture because we’re a very rational people. Eastern culture is much more experience and life-oriented as opposed to us and our thinking processes. So I think it’s a bigger hurdle for us in the Western culture to get over and connect something as being right and true and theological and lovely. And then we oppose that with, “Oh, that’s just emotion or experience.”

I think God made us a whole creature. I do believe we’re made of body, soul, and spirit, and I believe whenever He works in us, all of those come together. So in looking at others’ lives or our own lives at whether or not something is driven by emotions or not . . . The fact is, there are times in my life when I’m driven with great intensity and passion. I’m very emotional in the sense that it’s passion, but I wouldn’t say it’s driven by the emotion. I would say the emotion is following the conviction at that moment.

So I think it’s hard for us to look at our own lives or somebody else’s and say, "Is it just emotion or not?" I’d say, if it’s very short-lived, it was probably driven by emotion, but on the other hand, sometimes that’s just the way life is. Sometimes we’re driven by what we’re passionate about at the moment, and it is obedience to God.

I don’t know where the line is, how long we have to do something before we can say it was out of conviction or truth as opposed to just emotion? I don’t have the answer to that.

Steve: We say we’re emotional beings. So I don’t act on my emotions, but I am emotional when I act. Laine’s daughter went to the doctor this morning. That was an emotional time that drove you to get some help for your daughter. There's nothing wrong with that emotion. That’s a great use of emotions.

Because we've seen the excesses, we’re so afraid emotions. Sometimes we just have such a tendency to recoil from anything that’s excess, so we swing the pendulum the total opposite way, and we don’t engage our emotions.

We are emotional beings. We don’t make decisions based on that, but there are going to be emotions involved.

Sometimes, as we’ve seen in historic revivals, those emotions got carried away and godly men had to step in and give direction and cautions and bring them back to Scripture. But you don’t throw that out just because someone got emotional.

We have testimonies in the services and there have been some times when people have said things that have been inappropriate.

So what do I do? Do I stop and say, “Okay, no more testimonies”? No. We stop, and we educate. We say, “Here’s how to handle this,” and we teach. Our tendency sometimes is to so divorce ourselves from anything that might be potentially different or dangerous or out of our comfort zone, that we throw out so many right things. When we just live in our little secluded comfort zones, sometimes we miss what God really wants to do.

Leslie: Say that you’re convinced of the desperate need for revival in your life, in your church, in your community. How can you start? How can one woman begin seeking the Lord for revival and encouraging other people to do the same? Here’s Laine Johnson.

Laine: I’ve got a great example of God using one woman who had a burden for revival. There’s a church in southern Alabama that our team has been in three different times over just the last few years. We went the first time because of a lady in the church who was reading one of Nancy’s books, I believe it was the book on brokenness. She read the list in there, the list comparing a broken person as a proud person.

She simply gave that book to her pastor and asked him to read it because she was carrying a burden for revival in her own life and church. He read the book. It was great. But when he got to the list of the contrast between the broken and the proud, he realized how desperately he and all of his people needed that before the Lord.

He began to then search who the Nancy DeMoss of the book was. He found out the connection with Life Action. He called Life Action in to bring a team, and like I said, we’ve been there three times. There’s a great relationship we’ve had. God has done a deep work in that whole church as a result of one lady who simply took a book and put in in the pastor’s hand.

Dan: Years ago there was a revivalist who, everywhere he would go, there were incredible results. He would lead meetings, and people would be confessing their sins and repenting. Other preachers would try to do the same thing he was doing, and they wouldn’t have the same results.

Someone finally came to him and said, “What’s the secret?” And he said, “Hey, get alone, take a piece of chalk, draw a circle around yourself on the floor, and say, ‘Lord, would you begin a revival right here in this circle?’”

For a woman listening today, I think that the first step is, not to look at what your husband ought to be doing, or at what your church ought to be doing, or what you wish your pastor would do or say from the pulpit. But it’s really to draw that circle on the floor and say, “God, here I am. I’m open to whatever it is You want to do in my life, and to whatever extent you want to use me.”

You could pull over your car right now or get down on your knees in your living room and say, “Lord, begin right now, right here with me. Whatever work you need to do in my heart, I’m open to it.”

Leslie: When you draw that circle and ask the Lord to begin with you, revival can spread powerfully to those around you. Here’s Steve Canfield.

Steve: I think we often say that when revival comes, the first place it’s going to show up is behind the doors of our home, because sometimes it’s so much easier to be something at church and not in our homes. I was in a meeting where one of the staff members shared at church, “My daughter said to me, ‘I like you better at church,’” because there’s an air we have a tendency to put on.

When God begins to meet with us, things happen in our homes, and God is just as real there as He should be when we’re standing on a platform or when we’re in a Sunday School class.

We were meeting in at a First Baptist Church in a large town in Georgia. In that two-week meeting at least twenty couples confessed to infidelity in their marriages, and the release and freedom that God gave them with forgiveness. I think we have a tendency to not like the shape of sin that we see in the lives of others. We can deal with our own, but when someone else has a different sin or a different shape of sin, we have a tendency to be more judgmental.

In the context of revival, because God was teaching couples to forgive and to be broken about their own sin, when sin was revealed in the life of their partner, there was a greater degree or a greater ease of forgiveness. But when we can’t forgive somebody because of some area of sin, then we’re holding our standard higher than God’s standard.

Because the ground is level at the cross, and because during times of revival there is such a focus on my own need, that when someone else has a need, I can say, “Yes, you’re forgiven, because look what God has done in forgiving me.”

That’s why the environment of revival is such a great place for healing in homes and marriages, because people have their eyes focused on the need in their own life. They are free to receive forgiveness, so they can freely give forgiveness.

Ryan Loveing: When you were talking about forgiveness, Steve, I was thinking of a testimony that came to mind where we were conducting a four-day THIRST conference. Let me just read to you what this woman expressed.

During this conference God has convicted me of how bitterness was choking me. I’ve had a rocky relationship with my sister. My mom had a stroke last year. My sister has not done her share of caregiving.

I became resentful, bitter, angry, and shut down. I knew this was not how God would want me to behave, but I made excuses for my behavior and attitude. My own two girls even said, "How can you tell us to get along if you and your sister can’t?”

I became increasingly aware of how this bitterness was giving Satan hold over me.

What eventually happened is that she responded to God in obedience through the principles we lay forth in these conferences and in the summits. Then she said,

I’ve begun the process of clearing my conscience and seeking forgiveness.

The ramifications of what we’re able to see and how it can impact others goes far beyond what we could ever comprehend. When we come to the point of hearing what God’s Word says to us and we respond, great fruit comes. 

Laine: I don’t think there’s anything that gives me hope for revival on a larger scale than, certainly, reading about historical revival accounts. But I would say even more fresh on my heart and my mind is what I’ve seen God do this past year.

We were in a meeting that extended from eleven days to three-and-a-half weeks. Even after we left, the church continued to meet five days a week for a number of weeks after that.

What happened was that God began to move within that church. He began with just a couple of individuals that confessed hypocrisy, sin in their life, and they were on our team. Then a church member stood and confessed hypocrisy in the sense that they had not obeyed the prompting of the Spirit of God to worship Him that night. Then another lady stood and began to confess hypocrisy on Sunday mornings—she was part of the praise team.

Her statement was something like this, “What I do on Sunday morning, what I sing, I could sing in a bar, because my heart is so far from really worshiping God.”

That led then, thirdly, to the worship pastor standing up and seeking the choir’s and the whole church’s forgiveness, because the hypocrisy in the choir was a direct result and reflection of his own life, which was nothing but hypocrisy.

So he went out with all the choir members to get those things right. That just began a snowball effect of guys who were confessing pornography for five years, marriages that were healed, immorality, and bitterness and all the issues of our lives that God begins to expose.

When we begin to get those right, as we saw in this situation, it was just beautiful and marvelous when there’s mourning and grieving and repentance and brokenness—the joy of the Lord that begins to fill our hearts.

By the time of our last service that we were with that church, on our last night, we had 126 testimonies, public testimonies, of individuals that said, “Here’s what God did and is doing in me.” As we look back at all the recordings of the testimonies that we had during that three-and-a-half weeks, we have twenty-five hours of testimonies.

I think it was Roy Hession who said that revival is birthed in prayer and is spread through testimonies. We saw a people that were crying out to God for maybe four months, up until the time we’re talking of. There had been men that had been meeting every morning at six-thirty to pray and cry out to God. There were different numbers of men, but there were fifty different men that attended at different times for four months. They had cried out to God every day.

There are ladies that have met and are crying out to God. As a church, they are having some extra prayer meetings that have been established throughout this whole next year.

Those are the workings of God that are bringing about revival on the local scale. And the overflow of that (hopefully to the nation, if God were to do that) as it begins with us as individuals, and as He begins to spread that throughout local churches all across this land is that it would be one hot fire and flame of God.

Leslie: That’s Laine Johnson. He travels across the country with Life Action Ministries, encouraging churches and individuals to seek the Lord for revival. So do our other guests, Steve Canfield and Ryan Loveing. We also heard from Dan Jarvis, who has traveled with Life Action in the past, and now helps provide leadership for a new initiative called OneCry.

The host of Revive Our Hearts, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, has a passion for revival, and is excited to share about this new OneCry initiative.

Nancy: I hope your appetite has been whet and your longing increased to see God send the kind of revival that we’ve heard about on today’s program. I want to invite you to join us in praying for that kind of spiritual awakening.

We want to encourage you to add your voice to thousands that are already crying out to God for revival. To do that, we’re asking you to join a new initiative that’s a collaborative endeavor by a number of Christian leaders and ministries called OneCry for Spiritual Awakening. Byron Paulus is the Executive Director of Life Action Ministries, the parent ministry of Revive Our Hearts, and it was in his heart that God first birthed this burden for the OneCry movement.

Byron is here to tell you more about this opportunity to ask God to visit His people in revival.

Byron Paulus: You probably look around and see incredible needs everywhere. Families are disintegrating, people have lost faith in institutions that once seemed stable. Many are trying to figure out how to get out of staggering debt, and so many churches seem ineffective to do anything about those needs.

I believe that the greatest way that you can address these problems is to cry out to God in urgent prayer for revival. When you join OneCry, that’s what you’ll be doing, praying and encouraging others to pray. I’m convinced there’s incredible power in crying out to the Lord, and in doing it together.

I hope you’ll start a OneCry prayer group, or join an existing group. It’s easy to connect with the group online. I hope you’ll take the next step and join us in OneCry for Spiritual Awakening.

Nancy: Thank you for sharing your heart, Byron, and again thank you for pouring your life, your heart, your prayers, your tears into this effort. I hope that every Revive Our Hearts listener will get involved in this OneCry effort. To get started, just visit our website, ReviveOurHearts.com. There you’ll see how to take the first step in seeking the Lord for spiritual awakening through the OneCry movement.

Then, I want to remind you of another you step you can take in growing in your understanding of revival and learning how to pray for God to send a spiritual awakening. I want to encourage you to get a copy of a book by Del Fehsenfeld, Jr. called Ablaze with His Glory. Del is the founder of Life Action Ministries, and he was in the process of finishing this book when he went home to be with the Lord in 1989.

I’ve heard from so many people over the years who’ve read Ablaze with His Glory, and whose hearts have been set aflame with a passion for God and a passion for God to move in revival as a result of reading this book. It will lay a foundation in your understanding of revival, and it will help you to pray more effectively.

We’d like to send you a copy of Del’s book, Ablaze with His Glory, when you send a gift of any size to support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. If you appreciate Revive Our Hearts, and you’d like to continue hearing it on the radio and online, I hope you’ll send a generous gift to support the ministry this month.

This is the end of our fiscal year, and as we’ve been sharing over the past few weeks, this is a really important time. We’re asking God to provide $350,000 in listener contributions this month.

When you make your donation, be sure to ask for a copy of Ablaze with His Glory. The number to call is 1-800-569-5959. Or if you’d like to make your donation online, you can visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie: What do you think of today’s program? Did it bring up any questions? I hope you’ll share them on the Revive Our Hearts listener blog. Our guest, Dan Jarvis, will be participating today, responding to listeners. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com, click on today’s transcript and scroll to the end.

When we talk about revival, we often describe the desperate needs of our nation. Is the country really all that much worse off than we’ve been in the past? We’ll discuss it tomorrow. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

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

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