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Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show

Greg Austin │July, 2009

Summer time in America is historically anticipated as “Revival time.” It’s especially so in the Deep South and among the more fundamentalist brethren among us. Something about hot summer nights, fiery evangelists and altars filled with repentant, weeping souls seems as American as apple pie and baseball.

I remember Neil Diamond singing his new hit song in 1969. The title was, “Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show.” The lyrics caught the prevailing understanding of revival in America:

Hot August night and the leaves hanging down
and the grass on the ground smellin' sweet
Move up the road to the outside of town
and the sound of that good gospel beat
Sits a ragged tent where there ain't no trees
And that gospel group tellin' you and me

It's Love Brother Love say Brother Love's traveling salvation show
Pack up the babies and grab the old ladies and everyone goes
'Cause everyone knows Brother Love's show

Room gets suddenly still and when you'd almost bet
You could hear yourself sweat he walks in
Eyes black as coal and when he lifts his face
Every ear in the place is on him
Startin' soft and slow like a small earthquake
And when he lets go half the valley shakes

It's Love, Brother Love say Brother Loves traveling salvation show
Pack up the babies and grab the old ladies and everyone goes
'Cause everyone knows 'bout Brother Loves show

And I find myself anticipating, longing for, wanting to see and to experience revival during these next “hot August nights.”
Before proceeding, we must ask, “What is revival?” We must settle upon an agreed definition of the word in question in order to embrace or reject the content and condition that might follow true, biblical, godly revival.

Is revival an overwhelming wave of emotion? Does revival in its essence have to do with loud, energetic music, sawdust floors and shouting crowds?

Is revival a renewed appetite for the things of God?
For the reading of His Word?
For prayer?
For sharing our faith with the lost?
For attending church services?

I’ve known people who’ve read the Bible more than many who were no more spiritual than a Green Tree Frog. I’ve watched people labor all night long in prayer whose tongues shredded their neighbors in the daylight. I’ve known businessmen who wouldn’t think of missing a Sunday church service – because the membership of their church formed a great pool for developing their books of business.

I won’t even entertain the suggestion that the people who fill our pews are fundamentally more pious than the guy handing out blankets and prayer to the homeless at Pioneer Square in Seattle or who sweats beneath a blistering, African sun as he ministers the tangible love of God to the orphans and the dispossessed victims of war and AIDS and ignorance and racially based hatred.

Is revival just an emotional experience – is it the shouting of “Brother Love” and an altar experience or does revival bring with it both a mandate and an enablement for change in our innermost beings?

Allow me to give you the Webster rendering of “revival.”

1: an act or instance of reviving : the state of being revived: as a: renewed attention to or interest in something.

Another reference has this: “A restoration to use, acceptance, activity, or vigor after a period of obscurity or quiescence (stillness).”

In each of these definitions, listed in descending order of priority finally comes “A meeting or series of meetings for the purpose of reawakening religious faith.”

Being revived, in my lexicon means “renewed to our attention towards and interest in Jesus,” being “restored to use, activity and vigor for the Kingdom of Heaven.” That’s my definition, my understanding of “revival” and it’s with this kind of definition that I find myself desiring to experience revival.

I want to see revival, not for the giddy, emotional highs or for the sight of spectacular miracles – the blind seeing, the lame leaping, the dead being raised to life again.

Oh, I would love to see those kinds of miracles, but in my lexicon, that’s not revival; it’s just “these signs” that were promised to “follow them that believe.”

I want to see, to experience revival because all around us our nation – our cities and towns, our neighborhoods – our families lay in ruin. I’m not referencing financial woes or the questions of universal health care or the future of General Motors or the local bank. I’m talking about “Spiritual Security.”

I’m talking about a generation of young people who know more about abortion than they know about the origin of the planet on which they live. Our young people know more about the latest Hollywood star and just-released hot music than they know about Heaven’s Daystar and the melodies of God’s Kingdom.

And whether you’ve given consideration to our need – your need and mine – for revival, what America needs this August is neither “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show” or a political remedy to society’s ills, because neither emotionalism or economic brilliance can cure the cancer that eats at the soul of America or Great Britain or Germany or Israel or India. Only Jesus, only His grace and mercy, His goodness and His truth can wash away the woes facing you and me and our nation and world.

We need, whether we know it or want it, a true, pure revival from heaven to come upon, in and through our hearts. We need to fundamentally be “restored to use, activity and vigor for the Kingdom of Heaven.”
And I’m praying for revival, and I invite you to join me. Who knows, perhaps, if we pray, if we humble ourselves, if we turn from our wicked ways, Heaven may respond, God may hear, and answer, and visit us with His presence, His holiness, His goodness and His grace.

As I have said time after time at the conclusion of whatever I’ve preached for the past thirty-eight years, “Let’s pray.”

Grace to you,


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