July 01, 2020
David and Karen Mains converse about Revival and our need for it in America.
What would it be like in your home if Jesus himself were your house guest for a period of time? How would that affect your conversation? How would it affect your mealtimes? How would it affect, you know, what you do as far as the agenda for the day? It might be different for a retired person than it would be for a person who’s still working. But what would his presence mean in your home? That’s what happens when you experience revival in a home.
David: Good interviewers excel at asking appropriate questions of their guests. They don’t attempt to impose their own thoughts into the conversation.
Karen: So, a host of a radio or television show should respect the thinking, the experience, and the expertise of the person they have invited to speak. I mean that’s the point of that person being in that chair or in front of that microphone. I’m wondering what our listeners think about that.
Intro: Welcome to the Before We Go Podcast featuring Dr. David Mains and his wife, noted author Karen Mains. Here’s David and Karen Mains.
David: Occasionally Karen, a good interviewer might express a personal opinion, but that should be the exception and not the rule.
Karen: So, in our house, I’m often found yelling at the door.
David: That’s true. I know exactly what you’re going to say.
Karen: Get out of the question. Ask your question. Let the person talk. Let your guest talk. And they’re the expert, not you. You are not the expert.
David: Stop trying to get them to say what you want them to say. Let them talk and ask open-ended questions.
Karen: I’m going to brag a little bit here. I think my husband David Mains, and I’ve always thought this as we would do it radio work. You are a great interviewer. And I should add that we never had a guest on who had written a book on the Chapel of the Air, our National Daily radio broadcast, where you didn’t read the book, the producer didn’t read the book, the co-host didn’t read the book, or article, whatever, or background material so that we were totally informed. I mean, there could be four or five people who would have read that guest’s material. So we would be totally informed and could show the guest at his or her best on the radio show.
David: You could show the director, who was not necessarily on the program, would say, “Don’t you think you want to ask this because that was a big point in the book?”
Karen: Yes. So you have a lot of people working to make that experience really not only good for the one who’s being interviewed, but to show them at their best.
David: Contrasting, Karen, to the many times either of us has been interviewed by someone about a book we’ve written, and you knew within a matter of a minute or two that person had never touched that book, except maybe he read was on the back cover.
Karen: Well, they read the back cover of the book, and they read the flap, the inner flap of the book. But you know right away when they’re not prepared. And so what you have to do then, so this thing doesn’t wander all over, is you have to take charge of your own interview. You say things like, “Now what was really important to me in writing this book was…” But you know right away if a host is prepared or not.
David: Yeah, and you don’t ask questions that might embarrass the guest or might be at the variance with where your thought is. Karen, we just have had podcasts with Dr. J Edwin Orr. He’s with the Lord now, as is Leonard Ravenhill recently, we did Francis Schaefer. All those people have gone, but what they said on the program was what they felt deeply about.
Karen: And these programs were, what did we figure out 30 years ago?
David: They were first aired then.
Karen: And they soon, it wasn’t long before all of them died after that, within you know months or just a few years of our radio broadcast with them.
David: One of the questions I had down, but I chose not to ask them was: “Could you come up with a different word than revival? Because revival is a very warm, beautiful word to you people, but you are a generation beyond where I am. And revival has become a negative word to the individuals of my generation.” And it’s even more so now, in terms of the generations that have followed. When we say revival today, people think of old time camp meetings. They think of hucksters, they think of snake holders, that kind of thing.
Karen: Well, they have special spiritual life meetings in many places are often called revival meetings.
David: Well, they’re evangelistic services.
Karen: But they’re evangelistic services. And evangelism, I think, is part of revival. But revival in itself is a very different thing than what they’re thinking.
David: The reason I didn’t ask that question is because they felt very keenly about that word, and I knew they did. But my own feeling is different. And I continually say, how do I come up with a different way of explaining? Because as soon as I say revival, it turns off a great number of people.
Karen: Yeah, a lot of people. So, have you come up with a different word?
David: I don’t have that word. I played with it. The magazine that we came out with that we published for a period of time was called Reveley. Reveley is the bugle wake-up call, and it has that sense of waking things up, but it didn’t catch it all. And I’m not sure it conveys the totality of what needs to be said in revival or Reveley. The picture that I have is the picture of Jesus present in his church, or it’s a home setting. It’s Jesus living in the home. What would it be like in your home if Jesus himself were your house guest for a period of time? How would that affect your conversation? How would it affect your mealtimes? How would it affect, you know, what you do as far as the agenda for the day? It might be different for a retired person than it would be for a person who’s still working. But what would his presence mean in your home? That’s what happens when you experience revival in a home.
Karen: And so that could be applied to what would happen if Jesus came and visited your church congregation week after week. You knew he was there, his presence was there, and the result of that would be what we would call revival, or your place of business, if you’re a Christian business owner or participant.
David: Beautiful. I’m glad you brought that up. Yes. Your vocation. I talked with someone just the other day who said, “When I go into work…” and her work was helping the families of people who have cancer within the ranks. And she said, “When I walk into the hospital, I feel this great sense of exuberance and God being with me.”
Well, that is that sense of the presence of Christ, which is new life, revival. I’ve said this so many times. Re, the prefix is again, VIV words are life words. Vivacious, vivid, if you say, VIVA. That’s to life. AL is that which pertains to. So, revival is that which pertains to life coming back again. And that’s really the essence of the word, but it’s been taken over by other thoughts such as again, what is a…
Karen: A camp meeting, special services at a church, and your speaker coming in and bringing on your unsaved friends.
David: Yeah. Or a lot of times, Karen, when you say speaker, a lot of times people may hear revival become a sweaty-faced guy screaming at the top of his lungs using words like “repent, you know, and so on.” Those are negative images.
Karen: Yeah, they can be negative. Okay, so I think we’ve grappled with what that is. Why do you think that this is such an important concept to you? We’ve been married, what, 59 years now?
David: Almost 59 years.
Karen: Yeah. Ever since we were newly married, this is a concept that you have cycled and recycled into and out of. It’s a theme that has an extraordinary appeal to you. Why do you think that is? What does it mean to you personally?
David: I think that the Lord Himself has done that. He’s put it deep within me. If I let it go for a while, it comes back very quickly. If I had opportunity one time to speak and it would be the last time, I would be able to speak, I wouldn’t call it revival. But I would speak on that topic and I probably would relate it, not so much to the individual or to a family or to professions, as I would relate it to the church. Because it’s a very deep feeling that I would like to see the presence of Christ to envelop the church once again.
Karen: Well, and I’ve heard you use the word overwhelming sense of His presence. So, I think a lot of times we have moments when we think Christ is nearer, the Holy Spirit is here. You know, my mind is deeply engaged with things of God. But you’re talking about we’re overwhelmed by this reality of the presence of Christ. It’s not just a casual thought or a moment here and there. It’s just, it’s something that overtakes you, overwhelms you, captivates you, controls you.
David: It’s more than what’s in your head. People know that the risen Christ by His Holy Spirit is with us when we meet, or two or three are gathered.
Karen: At least we say that. We, you know, and sometimes we experience it, but we lose it quickly.
David: When there is this sense of the sweet presence of Jesus that just overwhelms you, that is what is characteristic of all revival literature. For example, as simple a thing as this Karen, if people really understood that the risen Christ was present in His church, whenever the people came to Me, they wouldn’t come late.
David: They wouldn’t come unprepared.
Karen: They would have spent time in prayer to sensitize themselves and self-examination, perhaps.
David: They would say, “Tell us what songs we’re going to sing, because when we sing them just all of a sudden, and we don’t even understand the words we’re singing often, because we haven’t had a chance…”
Karen: We’re not paying attention to them.
David: We haven’t had a chance to absorb them, and so on. As simple a thing as saying we haven’t come to church in prayer for the people who have taken part as a leadership team. So, people come in, it’s kind of like watching a television program.
Karen: Wow, we got there only two minutes late this time, instead of the usual five or ten, you know, whatever. And one rushed in, you know, pushing the kids along, and anything but in that spirit of receptivity.
David: Yeah, and if you boil it down, it’s saying we don’t have this awareness that the living Christ, the risen Jesus, is present with us, okay?
Karen: When have you ever experienced personal revival? Can you think of times in your life where you would have encountered that in a way that was different than the ordinary? Share one or two of those?
David: I would say the first time I would come on was what I would call my conversion. I was junior high age, and I knew without question that Jesus had entered me by his Holy Spirit.
There was not a doubt about it in my mind. It was something I had heard preached about, I wanted it, didn’t know how. It actually going forward in meetings, people talk, but nothing happened. But when I experienced conversion in a way that was meaningful to me, not just praying because my parents told me what words to say or anything, and I don’t see that negative at all.
David: But it was something that this was mine.
Karen: So, this was like a spontaneous spiritual event in your life, right?
David: I sensed it after college when I felt in a way through an odd path that Jesus had said, “David, I want you in my ministry.”
Karen: Well, what attracted me to you was among all the, I mean, I’d been dating a lot of college boys, you were out of seminary. You said you felt like God had a destiny for you. And I thought I’ve never heard that line from anyone else.
David: It was a genuine line. And I, it’s been defined over my lifetime. I didn’t become the next Billy Graham. And I never anticipated being that. But I have had an incredibly wonderful life. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’ve played the role Jesus wanted me to play. I’ve fallen on my nose spiritually speaking numerous times, some awful, some just skinned knees.
I’ve heard Jesus many times speak to me through his Holy Spirit and say, “When are you going to correct that negative, critical ton of yours? You have done it again.” So, in numerous areas where there’s been a refinement of who I am. So, I sensed that the Lord is working on me individually, helping me become more and more Christ-like. Goodness, what a long way I have to go, but fortunately I’m not what I used to be.
Karen: Yeah, that’s great. Are there classic human activities that are forerunners or predictors of revival? I mean, you’ve done such a study of it. Do you see something similar in each godly movement that’s overwhelming like this?
David: I think there are. I can give you some, and I go back to the picture. If Jesus were to physically come to a given church on Sunday morning, you know, nobody anticipated this, but they’re very, very important.
Karen: Look around and he looks vaguely familiar when you think, “Oh my goodness, I think the Lord is here.”
David: The congregation would get very quiet.
David: There would be nudging and whispers, but then it would be very quiet. And I believe that you’d soon see someone slip to his or her knees, which is body language of worship.
Worship means to attribute worth to God. And I think that’s the picture you’d see. And probably as others began to join that individual on their knees, someone would start to sing a song. And they wouldn’t sing a song that talked about missions. They would sing a song that talked of worship, or they would attribute worth. They would figure out– this is the appropriate thing to sing with our King among us. If I answer the question you asked, I would say, “Worship is one of the early signs of something unusual happening.”
Karen: True worship, not just formulaic worship, a real center.
David: That formulaic worship may become true worship, but it’s felt deep inside.
Karen: At the revival among the students at Wheaton College, which we were home and got a phone call that there was a revival going on with the students at Wheaton College, I think you’d done the Spiritual Life Week.
David: I had done it the previous semester. So, I was very interested in the college.
Karen: Yeah, we were really interested.
David: I graduated from Wheaton, but it was the first time I’d gone back and spoken.
Karen: I didn’t graduate from Wheaton, but I had a year there. But I remember those students getting up and started in confessing. It was just spontaneous. No one was standing over them with a cudgel saying, “You sinners are in the hands of an angry God.” None of that that I knew of had gone on, but they’re just standing up.
David: Well, there was a huge sense of conviction.
Karen: Conviction, yeah.
David: I don’t think that’s a forerunner. That’s one of the early signs.
Karen: Signs that revival is happening.
David: And again, that can get into the hucksterism, and it can become sensational, which is not what you want.
Karen: Well, this wasn’t in any way. It was just pure sweetness. And when they’d confessed their sins in a prayer group.
David: And they didn’t confess other people’s sins.
David: Somehow there was instruction there. When you talk about your own situation, you don’t name people.
David: You don’t in any way try to make something lurid here. But you, in brokenness, say, “I’m sorry this has happened.” It’s between you and God. He knows what is happening.
Karen: I want to confess it to this group, and I want to make it right.
David: I’m going back to what you said. When that confession was over, there would be lines of students waiting to confess. And they would be with tears.
Karen: And these were open confessions to the whole gathering.
David: And as soon as they would finish, they would walk off the platform and they would be enveloped by some of the students with love. It was a gorgeous picture.
Karen: It went on and on.
David: And it didn’t just go on indefinitely either. The wise people who were not in charge but were officials in the college said, “It’s time to stop for tonight. We’re tired. We have call-off classes for tomorrow. We will meet again tomorrow morning.” That kind of thing.
Karen: There’s a true spiritual leadership there.
David: And after x amount of days, they said, “We need to move back to normalcy. God will continue to speak. This is what our thoughts are. We don’t know God hasn’t spoken to us, but it’s to the best of our ability. We think this is the route that we should follow.” It was extremely well handled.
Karen: Yeah, beautiful.
David: It was just really fine. You’ve talked about characteristics of revival. We talked about worship. Bowing down before the king. We’ve talked about confession.
In fact, Karen, this is an interesting thing. If I just give a negative, one of the understandable parts of revival is that sin is confessed by some people. But it’s rejected by others.
Karen: Oh, it’s rejected.
David: In fact, you have more splits. Church splits during times of revival than any other time. And that makes sense because when Jesus came in his walk on this earth, he was a divisive character.
Karen: He was a controversial character. Yeah.
David: Some people loved him. They anointed him. They felt it is needed.
Karen: Gave up everything they had. Yeah.
David: Totally adjusted their lives. Other people said, “Kill him. We don’t want anything to do with this man. He’s an imposter. He’s totally off-ground theologically. Who does he think he is calling himself God?” And so on.
And that goes on. In fact, to the degree that people say, “This is not what we want in our church. We’re going to kick you out or we will split. However, when we split, we still want the building.” And new groups are formed. It is an incredibly divisive time, but also a wonderful time.
Karen: So, I’m wondering how our listeners feel about revival. Name it what you will or this overwhelming sense of the presence of Christ after we talk this through. And some of them may be saying, “Oh, that’s extraordinary. And they’re stirring in my soul. I would like to be a part of that. Or I want them.”
So, my last question is: how should we, if we feel that way, how should we pray for revival?
David: Well, you just used another, in my mind, characteristic word. Because if Christ were present bodily, that’s not going to happen until he returns in power and glory. But if he were, there would be lines of people wanting to talk to him. Just like in the day when he lived here on this earth, there would be people bringing their friends and say, “Please heal this person. You have the power to do this.” But there would also be just a lot of people wanting to stand in line to talk to him. As it happened. I mean, this is a magnificent and magnetic character. So, prayer becomes a huge part of revival. It actually feeds what is happening. And now I’m going to go back to something you said before. What would be a precursor of revival is: people turning to pray.
Karen: Praying for revival.
David: Praying for revival. Yeah, it’s one of those, in my mind, one of the sad things when all this worship music was beginning to come in. And the world has changed, the world of the church in terms of worship music. The instruments have changed. The way we sing has changed. All these. I don’t have to go into those to show what those are.
Karen: Sometimes there’s a light show and smoke up on the stage.
David: You’re going to get excesses.
Karen: But it’s a style.
David: Worship is one of the early signs that something is happening. It’s also true that prayer is one of those. I have this sense that one of the callings of the spirit is to get people who are older like us.
David: I don’t have any question whether I’m older anymore.
Karen: You tell me you thought you’d live this year and probably wouldn’t be around next year. I said, “Well, could we delay that for a few years?”
David: Well, it’s just because I know I’m elderly.
Karen: What you know at this age that life is like every day is a gift.
David: Part of it is the virus. I’m in the category that I am not unhealthy. But I’m in the category that is at highest risk. And so are you.
David: Just so you know.
Karen: Yeah, I know that.
David: But I also feel that our age is the age of the group that…
Karen: That bears the burden of prayer for revival to come. Yeah.
David: You know, I don’t wake up in the morning and say before I work, I’m going to pray anymore. I wake up in the morning and say, my main job is to pray. That’s a huge advantage. I don’t have to go somewhere. I know we’re in a coronavirus time.
Karen: Isolation time.
David: So, we’re not going to work like we used to nearly as much. But we are the generation. I think it’s the older generation many times that has been part of the prayer base that has brought these days in. It’s the younger generation, the idealist yet, who usually are the first ones to be affected by the prayers of God’s people. It’s a huge topic, isn’t it?
I think we could go on for a long, long time. I would also want to include another thing that is characteristic of revivals. There is the awareness and kind of a, “Oh my goodness, what is it going to mean about me regarding sin.” But there is this sweet spirit of love that envelops the people.
Karen: Well, and I would think along with that, to have confessed your sins and been forgiven of sins is an extraordinary position. But it allows you then to be open to love. To love yourself, to love your God, to love your spouse, your children, and your neighbors in a way that you have not experienced before. Because God’s spirit, that spirit of love is able to move through you and is not blocked then by the things that you are ashamed of, or feel guilty about or, you know, that are unconfessed and you’re holding on to and are hiding.
David: I would say that that love is beyond anything that most of us have recognized to date. Even to the place where you hear the pain of other people, and it affects you.
Karen: Yeah, you feel their pain.
David: In this time of the virus, which is so prevalent. You feel the pain of the people who have been touched by it. And you also feel the pain of, say, the protesters. For people to say, “All my life, I wondered if my kids will make it back from school.” You don’t just hear those words and then give a counter argument. But you hear words like that, and you say, “I’m so sorry. I’m so very, very sorry. I didn’t really understand…”
Karen: …the depth of that concern.
David: Didn’t understand the depth of the problem that you’re expressing. And there is this wonderful societal benefit. Times of revival, not the prelude, but the postlude of times of revival are incredible solutions to huge societal problems.
Karen: Yeah. Wow. That we sometimes cannot accomplish without this kind of spiritual.
David: There’s no way this is going to happen without the church.
David: The church has to come to grips with the racism that is characteristic. It is systemic.
Karen: Well, the inequity in the financial corruption and politicians tuning their own horns for their own benefit. I mean, you know, not really being public servants. So that is a work of revival.
David: This country is in desperate need of a moving of God’s spirit. And while everybody else is waiting to say what will the Democrats do or what will the Republicans do? I’m of the group and I want to say this in a way that I don’t turn people off. I’m waiting to see what the church will do. Will the church hear the pain? Will it say we are part of the problem? We want to be Christlike. We want to reach out to the poor and the powerless and the marginalized. That hasn’t happened in the church the way it still needs to. So, we’re going back to this whole feel of what would the incredible beauty and wisdom of the risen Christ be like if he were central to all of our thinking at the whole of the Christian movement.
Karen: We experienced him not just to have a word.
David: It’s beyond attributes. It’s beyond your cranium.
Karen: Yeah, beyond our intellect.
David: It is your very deepest insight that says, “Yes, Jesus, be who you want to be in us. We welcome that even though it scares the liver out of us.” So, it’s an interesting topic, isn’t it?
Karen: It is.
David: You wonder why it moves me. I find myself think, why do I get so darn emotional? I feel it deep within, very, very deeply. I will, in the days ahead, be able to bring back other individuals who profoundly by their writings, by their experiences taught me in this area of revival. In fact, there are so many of them on trying to think, who will I put on next? Who can somehow open our eyes to the beauty of what it is we’re talking about?
Karen: And we’re looking forward to hearing from those voices. And it’s an amazing that through technology we can hear those who have passed on.
David: Yeah, very much so. We’re very fortunate people. Are we?
Outgo: You’ve been listening to the Before We Go podcast. And if you would like to write to us, please send us an email at the following address, email@example.com. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please remember to rate, review, and share on whatever platform you listen. This podcast is copyright 2020 by Mainstay Ministries, Post Office Box 30, Wheaton, Illinois, 60187.
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