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Hope

Oh God, where are you? Can you see me? Are you watching? Or are you busy paying attention to 7 billion other people who need you just as much, or actually much more, than I do?

Have you chosen to set yourself apart from us, just far enough back so that we can almost touch you, but not so close that it would dissolve faith? Sometimes there are miracles; sometimes all the crying in the world cannot get you to move. Sometimes I can feel the Spirit so strong I feel like dancing; sometimes it feels like the heavens are brass and the door to your presence is slammed shut.  Sometimes you feel so close that I feel enveloped in you; sometimes you are so far away that I wonder if you are really there or not.

Belief in God has never been natural for me. The whole concept of God watching over us seemed so foreign to me that it was much easier to believe in the postulates of science than in the hopes of Heaven. Why would God do things this way? How come He doesn’t show Himself in the sky so we can all settle this debate once and for all?  He does, after all, want everybody to go to Heaven, right?  So where exactly is He?

And really, where is Heaven? Is it some far out place way out in the cosmos or buried in some other dimension?  How come it is way out there and we are down here?

We are immersed in the reality of this tangible world and it therefore captures our attention.  Sometimes it’s a lot easier to not believe than to believe, especially when you’re praying your guts out and it seems like God is deaf.   Heaven can only be hoped for, not seen.

But then there are those times when God reaches down and touches you.  Or heals some blind person. Or answers some prayer of yours that was just impossible.  Or reaches out and touches you in a place way down in your heart that even you didn’t know was there.

Sometimes He just acts like God, and it is unmistakably Him.  And then you know.

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Humility is not something that can be earned, learned, or absorbed.  You have to be broken to obtain it.

I’ve listened to many who try to wear some ill-fitting garments of humility, but they just don’t seem to fit right on them.  Oh, they sound like they are so humble, but it almost comes across like an excuse rather than something real.  While they deprecate themselves to others, it sounds more like an attachment to cover up something that is trying to stick up through their clothing.   The garment of humility is made from the same cloth as the mantle of authority in God.

Fake humility, on the other hand, has to refuse the mantle of true authority because it is not the same garment that they are trying to fit into.  If one professes to be “oh so humble”, where will he get the holy boldness to stand up to take power and dominion over the works of darkness?  They don’t fit together.

Pride, whether it manifests itself in arrogance or in a fake humility, is a result of measuring oneself up against those around you.  When Saul was little in his own eyes, he hid in “the stuff” because he was afraid to become king.  Two years later, he disdained the commandments of the Lord’s prophet to offer his own sacrifice to God.

Humility, however, does not measure itself against others, but against the Almighty God.  With David, it was never about himself – it was always about God.  That enabled him to slay Goliath in his youth and rule as king in his old age.

When God calls a servant to manifest His power, there is a cycle that he must go through.  When the first miracles begin to flow through a person, it feels like the coolest thing that has ever happened to you.  You are so excited that you can’t wait to tell others of the wonderful works of God.  As you go on, however, a little voice starts to whisper in your ear which suggests that, yes, God did this miracle, but He chose you to do it.  Sure, God could have chosen anyone, but hey, He chose you.  That must mean you’re just a little bit special, doesn’t it?  And then it stops — What happened? — and the soul-searching begins.

When you allow God to sand you back down to bare metal and let you see your own foolish pride, you make it possible for Him to take you to the next level.  And so goes the building process: paint a layer, sand it down, paint a layer, sand it down.  There is no one so holy and great that does not have to go through this process.  You must be broken to go to the next level, because God will not share His glory with anyone.

Only after you have been broken so many times that your ego has been completely burned out of you, and your soul has surrendered and yielded to total subjection, can you ever be allowed to walk in real power.  It is in the luster of that many-layered finish that true humility begins to shine with a light that does not come from you, but is reflected from the glory of God.

It is at this point that warriors are brought forth shouldering the mantle of God’s anointing and His authority – a mantle, not resplendent with glory of shining armor, but with the dull luster of sackcloth and ashes.

Brother Dale
dale@revivalfire.org

 

Alfred E. Newman

“What, me worry?”
(Alfred E. Newman, Mad Magazine)

My mother hated Mad Magazine. She thought their hilarious spoofs would teach me to be irresponsible, unholy, and generally wayward. Alfred E. Newman, the flagship personality of the entire magazine was especially abhorrent to her. He would be the ruin of me if she allowed me to be exposed to his reprobate way of thinking.

So I would stash my copies with my other contraband, like pocket knives and chewing gum.  Poor Mom. She never suspected how corrupt I had become.

Years later, I have discovered that Alfred was not so far off the truth. His philosophy on life is echoed by the Apostle Paul, only in a much different context. Paul’s repeated exhortation was to cast off your carnal worries and allow God to take control of your life.

“Be careful for nothing…” (Philippians 4:6)

“With food and raiment, therewith be content…” (1 Timothy 6:8)

“For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2)

Jesus echoed this same sentiment with, “Fear not little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

So what are we worried about?

I spoke to a wealthy young man last night about his concerns that his latest tithing was not bringing back the results he expected. Normally, he gives heavily and there is an immediate response from the Lord in new deals and revenues, which he then, in turn, sows back into the ministries that he supports. This last time, however, he has not seen the usual response from God, and he was getting worried about going broke.  I might mention that he tithes over 50% of his income, and sometimes much higher.

I gave him my best impression of Alfred E. Newman. Don’t worry about it because it doesn’t really matter. If you’re giving just to get, you’re doing it for all the wrong reasons. If you’re giving because you really believe in this gospel, then it doesn’t matter if you get anything back.  If you want true prosperity, then you have to let go.

Prosperity is not measured in dollars and cents, but in the lack of financial stress. Your ties with the things of this world have to be cut so that you, as Paul also put it, are crucified unto the world and the world is crucified unto you. You no longer care. There is nothing in that world that you long for or lust for. The connection is severed and your treasure is now in Heaven, not in this world.

It may be that the blessing you are not seeing is the stretching of your faith by allowing you to walk without the tangible crutch of money.  Or food. Or home. Does it not say, “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content”?  Food and clothing are the only things mentioned. And maybe God is doing that so your faith will grow as you learn to trust Him completely and thereby enable you to step up into a higher calling and a greater effectiveness than you have ever known … and thereby greater blessings.

When we come to the realization that we are dead to this world and alive only in Christ, and when the world no longer has any pull on us because we are dead to it, we then enter into a crucified walk in God, broken to His will, and yielded to His purpose.

It is then that the cares of this life are sloughed off like a dead layer of skin, and we are truly free.

Brother Dale
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Delusions

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.  Hebrews 6:4-6

Yikes!  Ever wonder about that scripture?  That’s pretty stiff.  We usually hear about how loving God is and how He will always forgive us, and we have a tendency to build that idea into our personal theology.  But there is a certain line that we can cross over from which there is no coming back.  And this is not the only scripture that alludes to that, either.  But how does one get to such a drastic point?

How this could happen to somebody?  How does someone get so far from the simplicity of the Gospel to allow themselves to fall so deeply into the chains of sin?  Especially when they know better. It doesn’t happen overnight.  It’s here a little, there a little.  Ignore a little conviction from the Lord here and there, and it is not long before they allow themselves to lean more and more into what they really want to believe in their heart.

My Bible says that the heart of man is desperately wicked and deceitful above all things.  We’re not supposed to trust in our hearts, but in the Word of God.  The thing is, everybody has a little different take on the Bible. It’s often not a matter of what we read, but a matter of what we want to believe.  Flesh has a tendency to choose its own delusions. Faith, however, comes by hearing the Word of God.  That’s hearing, as in, having your ears open to hear the Truth.

It’s a fierce war out there, kids – a spiritual war.  Over a period of time, if we do not have ears that will hearken to the Word of God, we can fall into that deceptive, smooth doctrine that will tell us all the things that our flesh wants to hear.  In the depths of our souls we may be able to detect the ring of Truth, but, if we are not careful, we can ignore it so we can believe something else that is more palatable to our personal tastes. We end up, as it says in 2 Timothy 4:3, heaping up teachers to ourselves, having itching ears.  Keep sliding in that direction, and there comes a point when you just totally give yourself over to your delusion, and that is when you cross that line.

Now you know why I make such a strong stand for the importance of the real chilling fear of the Lord.  You can also see why the enemy of our souls has done his best to extract that message out of the pulpits for the last couple of generations.  Or at least water it down as much as he can.  He is pretty slick.  Satan knows that when you leave the fear of the Lord, you will forget your reading, prayer, and fasting.  When you forget your reading and praying, you lose your power in God.  It is not by your power or might, but by the Spirit of the Lord that we are able to overcome.

It’s a simple formula.  There’s no magic to it.  You don’t choose to go to hell.  Either you choose your own deceptions, or you choose to crucify that old flesh and submit to the Word of God.

I am on the way home. It has been three weeks of intense spiritual warfare, and while I may not have won every battle, we have come through in victory. Only eternity will reveal what has happened during this 3-week campaign. I have always believed that, whenever there is a lot of resistance and spiritual fire from Satan, something big is going on. He is not stupid and knows when there is a strong threat to his hold and he will fight like a wildcat to stop it or at least slow it down. So the question is, what had Satan so riled up? What happened that had he go crazy on me like that? What are the indications that we were so effective that he had to pull out all the stops to fight us like that?

A lot of souls came down to the altar and either gave their lives to Christ or repented for sin and made a rededication. Scores of people were healed, some of serious afflictions. At least three blind people received their sight. But, while these things are exciting and seem to indicate that the campaign was a great success, they are not the true signs of our effectiveness.

Just like you can tell the depth of any church or ministry by certain telltale signs (blood, fire, fear, and souls is a message I have written about before), so can you tell the effectiveness of any campaign by some signs that, on the surface, may not seem so obvious.

Counting the number of souls that came down to the altar is not one of those signs.

Evangelism is easily promoted with things that will draw a crowd and even bring them down to the altar. I have watched evangelists call out to the crowd that everyone that comes down will get a free book on how to live for Christ. Guess what everybody did – they went down to get something for free. And the evangelist can now count the books and tell his supporters back home how many thousands of souls have been saved.

Or an internationally known evangelist can hand out $60,000 dollars in cash to the local pastors to bring their people to the meeting and he will report that a million people attended and boast of his great effectiveness to the folks back home. The only problem is that this was in the most corrupt city in the world, which, the day after the famous evangelist left, still remained the most corrupt city in the world. Nothing really changed. It sounded good, but its long term effectiveness was only a ripple.

Oh yes, I know soul winning is the primary goal of the Church. It’s what we do, what we strive for, and that burden for souls is the secret to revival, but just having a large soul count is not an indication of the long term effectiveness of any campaign. What counts is how much the churches that were part of the campaign have changed over time. A month later, have those churches gone back to their same old ways, or have they been revolutionized, turned inside out, and set on fire? Let’s take another count after a month or so and see if the seed has not only been planted in good ground, but has germinated and is beginning to push out of the fallow ground that has been broken up and watered with tears of repentance and prayer for souls.

The sign of the campaign’s effectiveness in not the number that came down to the altar during your campaign, but the number of churches that were planted as a result of those initial meetings

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Prayer is the other sign. Serious, passionate prayer is essential to any move of God, and is the true sign that the campaign for that church has been effective. Some places face difficult persecution and hardships that make any growth slow. Their challenges, like a huge boulder in the path, must be moved slowly with patience and a persevering faith that will not be discouraged because of a lack of fanfare and showmanship. But what you will find in those places, if the seed has been planted well, is a new depth and dimension of prayer.

Nothing moves without prayer. No battles can be won that are not first won in the prayer room. Every move of God must first be birthed in that labor room of prayer. No revival happens without it because prayer moves God. Some campaigns grow faster than others. Some have initial successes that fizzle out, while others continue to grow over time, but in order for a move of God to be established, the foundation of prayer must be established and be foundational to any campaign. When you do not see a church saturated in prayer, no mater how exciting their initial success, it will not prosper.

If you want to see how any church is doing, check their Wednesday night prayer meeting. That is the thermometer to measure the fire in that church. We can all make a lot of noise about all the great things that have happened, but the real fire is only lit by the torch that burns in the prayer room.

So how did we do in Nigeria these past three weeks? I’ll tell you in a month or so when we see if the seed has germinated in good ground, if the repentance was true and heartfelt, and if the door to the altar of prayer has been opened in their lives to light the torch of revival.

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (John 15:5)

Well today the blind man got healed. Along with about 100 others. No, really. It was somewhere around that many. Including the blind man who came up to me after services to tell me that he had received his sight.

It didn’t start out with that many. The pastor called for anyone who needed healing to come up and about 25 or so came. But, oh boy, once people saw that everybody was getting healed, the crowd started growing. And kept growing. They were multiplying like rabbits out there. It took almost another two hours to finally get through the line.

Why is it that the healing miracles always seems to take center stage when telling these stories? I guess hearing about something supernatural that is so far outside our normal scope of life is exciting. It’s certainly exciting to be a part of, and its exciting to tell. And, if you’re the one getting healed, it can be pretty exciting also. But the miracles are not the important part of the service. The message is what is important. The central point to this whole thing is to see souls won. Healing is great, but what good would it be to be made whole again, only to wind up burning in Hell for eternity?

And we did win souls at this service. Besides the hundred or so that got healed, fifty souls got saved. I didn’t count them; the pastor’s wife did. For the hundred souls that got healed, life has become better, for some of them immeasurably so. For the fifty who got saved, however, their entire lives have just changed, and they will never be the same. And yet, it is the healing miracles that get the headlines.

For me, I can only say that it is exciting to see the hand of God work right in front of your eyes. Maybe because healings are more visible, they seem to capture our attention more. But I don’t always feel the anointing pass through me when they get healed. Sometimes I do. It can be like electricity shooting through you, and sometimes there is a sensation of oil flowing through you, but most of the time it is just pure faith. Sometimes I sense a deeper presence of faith when I pray than at other times, and I have to believe that is the Spirit of God that I am sensing, but the truth is, most of the time I don’t feel anything. The real blessing, however, is when they tell you that the disease/pain/ailment is gone. It’s gone. It was there and now it is gone. That’s what wows me every time.

Now, I’m telling you, I love preaching revival messages and watching churches catch the fire. It’s like flipping a switch of understanding and turning on the furnace. To hear that a church that I just preached to has been set on fire, has started putting the principles I’ve told them to work, and has multiplied the size of the congregation several times over is a tremendous gratification for me. It is the main purpose I have come. It is what we have sacrificed so much for. There’s nothing better than to hear the grand vision we have had is being fulfilled and birthed in church after church.

But then, there’s that blind man that got healed.

Why does that capture the headline for me? I guess for me it is because it is the embodiment of the entire mission of revival distilled down to a deeply personal level right before my eyes. This morning he was blind, in darkness, and without hope, but now he can see and everything has changed.

“… one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.” (John 9:25)

Brother Dale

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With Such People

Wow, what a service. This is the kind of thing that makes it all worthwhile.

We are in Abbi, Nigeria, a small town buried deep in the delta country around the Niger River. Driving through the lush countryside to get here, you pass scenes of deep poverty everywhere. There is little to sustain an economy here other than subsistence farming, and it is reflected in the shambles of wooden shacks and unfinished buildings.

You feel rather than see the absence of wealth, but there is also a feeling that, even here, life is not that bad. The kids are running around having fun, adults are working at peeling cassava or other agrarian tasks to provide dinner. There isn’t a feeling of stress or anxiety at not having all the luxuries of modern society. Maybe our idea of what to strive for in life is inflated. Maybe they are on to something deeper.

Heading into services, I am pressed with what message to present these people. This is not a big, powerful church with a thousand members. This is the same kind of small, personal congregation like I am used to ministering to. They are just little people, but I have to somehow convince these people that they can change the world.

Sometimes I have to look up and double-check with Him, “Are You sure this is where I am supposed to be?” The answer is always, “Yes, this is how I show my glory.” He uses small things. Broken things. Things that others discard for being too weak, too small, too poor, too useless, because He will not share His glory with man.

I fit right in there with them. Who am I really? I’m a nobody. I have no credentials, degrees, no church or even a small organization. I have no money of my own to speak of, and back in America, no one knows who I am, neither do they care.

But here, I fit in like a hand in a glove. They know who I am. And they have a long list of titles for me: Doctor, prophet, bishop, pastor, apostle, father, and now just recently, International Mentor. But its not me they honor. I am a nobody who is bringing the anointing and presence of God to them, and that’s what their hearts rejoice in.

I am very much aware of the fact that I can’t do that – only God can do that – but God will use anyone who is willing to humble themselves, throw away the pride and positions of ecclesiastical authority and just show up crucified, broken, and poor. Since I possess so little anyway, that is not hard for me. I just show up; God does the rest.

Last night, the entire congregation was on it’s knees before God in sincere repentance for not winning souls. Try that back in America. Have we become so enamored with ourselves and our prosperity that we have become the Church of Laodicea? Jonah said, “They that observe lying vanities, forsake their own mercy.” (Jonah 2:8)

I may be a nobody ministering to small seemingly inconsequential churches in a poor land beleaguered by satanic forces, fake preachers, and false prophets, but it is with such people that God uses to build His kingdom.

“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty” (1 Corinthians 1:27)