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IN JANUARY OF 2001 I saw an interesting picture that appeared in the ReACTion newsletter published by David A. Womack. In our national fellowship, David was known as a well-respected evangelist and author with wide experience as a former missionary, pastor, and publishing house administrator.

I came to know David personally in 1997, shortly before he started a publishing agency to represent authors. I had finished a five-year project of annotating and updating the language of John Bunyan’s, The Pilgrim’s Progress (originally written and published in 1678). David became my literary agent and editor on that, my first book to be published—The Pilgrim’s Progress in Modern English.

David continued to preach and write, and by the year 2000 the main thrust of his personal ministry was to call the Church to revival. The newsletter he developed was informative, and the picture I saw in his recent issue of ReACTion was thought provoking.

I saw in the picture a glass door that served as an entry into a church building. Someone had taped onto the glass door a somewhat crude, hand-painted poster with large letters saying:

REVIVAL
Cancelled

Having a long history of church involvement, and feeling fairly confident of my grasp of the vocabulary of religious communication, I understood what the person who posted the sign was trying to accomplish.

No doubt the sign was put there to notify people that, for some reason or another, a series of church services had been cancelled. But it seemed clear to me that Brother Womack placed the picture in the newsletter to call on his readers to give it further consideration. And consider it further, I did.

I know of no church that would advertise the fact that a revival had been cancelled in the true and literal sense of the word. Surely they would be too ashamed. Today, we use the word revival much too casually, and perhaps that is because we treat the concept of revival and our need of it far too lightly.

A revival is a restorative event. To revive is to restore strength to what has been weakened, vigor to what has become lethargic, health to what has been afflicted, freshness to what has wilted, life to what has died, and so forth.

The noun, revival, correctly describes what happens when something is revived.

So if nothing has changed, if a sad situation has not been turned into a glad one, if a problem has not been resolved, or if something that was lost has not been restored, then nothing has been revived, and a revival has not taken place.

The sign did not say, “REVIVAL MEETINGS Cancelled.” It sure would have sounded better if they had added that one word. But I wonder what was closer to the truth?

I have attended a lot of meetings that were advertised as revivals. Unfortunately, I have seen few of those meetings yield real revivals—at least revivals that had such a sweeping effect on the life of a church or community that they yielded long-term results that compared favorably to the historical records of Christianity.

I am not saying revivals don’t happen. I am saying, however, that today the vast majority of what is billed as a revival is just a series of good meetings.

I am not against meetings. Meetings can be inspiring and uplifting. The Bible is taught in meetings. God is worshiped in meetings. Souls are saved in meetings. Christian growth often takes place in meetings. But church meetings are meetings, not church revivals.

We need not get the two confused.

Few conscientious Christians would disagree that our country is in serious need of a genuine revival—one that changes the way people live, one that changes the way people think. Our nation has progressively followed the European pattern for Western society and has been slipping into apostasy.

As a nation we are losing our grip on the Truth, and it will take nothing short of another Great Awakening in America to stop the slide.

There is a biblical pattern for the revival of a nation. It is most clearly stated in Second Chronicles:

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land  (2 Chronicles 7:14 NLT).

Here it is, pure and simple: God will do what He said He will do. There is no shortage of His power, willingness, or desire to do His part. He will revive us; but you see, there is something required of us, and that becomes the problem.

I really believe the “humble themselves” thing is a big sticking point; people must admit their needs. But then again, that part, “turn from their wicked ways,” doesn’t make revival any easier to obtain either. Humble, pray, seek, turn—no wonder so many revivals are cancelled; these are tough requirements for people wrapped up in pride and materialism.

As of the time of this writing, there have been reports of true revivals taking place in some communities scattered across the country. I assure you that in those places, people agreed together to do more than just sponsor and attend another series of revival meetings. They decided to follow the biblical pattern for revival.

But in the majority of churches, people settle for less. Even if we concede our need for revival, we are generally unwilling to take the necessary steps prescribed by God himself for us to be revived.

The keys to revival are not the special meetings that we organize and attend together. They are not the presence of a powerful preacher and stirring worship music. All of those things are good and desirable, but the real keys to revival are found in open and hungry hearts—those hearts humbly presented for transformation to God in personal meetings with Him.

When the Holy Spirit convenes a revival meeting, whether it is with a large gathering of people or just one, we should attend. We should cast aside wicked ways, pray, and in humility seek an audience with God. For only He can turn meetings into revivals, and only we will be held responsible if we cancel the meetings.



This article was adapted from a chapter in L. Edward's book, Weekly Cogs: Christian Thoughts and Cogitations. Order the book through My Online Book Signing®.