Feeds:
Posts
Comments

by Cindy Garris

God gives me rewards—Rev. 11:18:       
I like rewards.

God makes me happy—Prov. 28:14:
        Doesn’t everybody want to be happy?

God prolongs my days —Prov. 10:27:
        I’m not sure if this is a blessing or not!

I’ll be praised—Prov. 31:30:                   
:>) 

My soul  dwells at ease—Psalm 25:12:
        I like that feeling!

I have wisdom—Psalm 111:10:               
I hope all my friends and kids agree with how wise I am !

God takes pleasure in me—Psalm 147:11:
        WOW, is that cool?

I have strong confidence—Prov. 14:26:
        I like this feeling too.

Angels surround me—Psalm 34:7:
        That is exciting to think about.

God fulfills my desires, He hears me, AND He saves me—Psalm 145:19
        He HEARS me!

I flee from evil –Prov. 16:6
        Absolutely.

God delivers me from my enemies—2 King 17:36
        Thank you!

Jesus did—Heb. 5:5 .
        That is a pretty good reason right there.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Where is the Wise?

Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.  (1 Corinthians 1:20-24)

Paul had a problem with these Greeks. They thought they were so smart that they were going to figure everything out. Everyone had their own ideas, but, like rambunctious little children on the playground, it only led to confusion and division.  If the foundation for the Church of Jesus Christ was ever going to be established so that the light of this gospel could shine to the rest of the world, then this pride and arrogance would have to be purged. The problem was that everyone thought they were the ones who were right.

But it wasn’t about who was right or wrong. It was about operating in a totally different dimension than the carnal world. It was about being in the Spirit and not being subject to the pride of carnal wisdom.

The world by wisdom, Paul cried to them, did not know God. So God decided to use something that the world didn’t know to save them.  God decided to use preaching. The Jews could not receive that as being theologically correct and the Greeks thought it was stupid. Instead of figuring out which religious rule it fit into, God threw away the rules. Instead of making analytical sense so that the Greeks could use their prestigious abilities of reason to figure it all out, God used the foolish, the weak, the base, and the despised to confound them. He used things that are not and things that do not hold substance in this world, that cannot be seen, felt, or handled to bring to nothing the things that our carnal minds are able grasp. He used faith, which is the substance, not of the world but of things not seen, to save us.

For three chapters, Paul rips back the carnal covering of this world’s reality to plead with the Corinthians to turn their thinking inside out. Instead of eating of the fruit off the Tree of Knowledge that is desired to make one wise, he pleads with them to humble themselves and realize that God doesn’t need their fleshly excellence. Instead God uses a hidden wisdom that the natural man cannot understand and that defies all reason to bring about the great works of God.

How much like America they were! We are so theologically sophisticated that we have the arrogance to dismiss the Old Time Gospel as out-of-date and the hard message of hellfire as something wrong. This generation seem to think that they know better than those old-timers who carried the Cross through times of persecution, paid the price in deep prevailing prayer, and changed the fabric of our society. We are much more enlightened now, so much so that we have redefined the meaning of Grace and adjusted and smoothed out the sharpness of the cutting edge of the Word of God.

The rest of the world is viewed as dimmer lights to us. Europe is cold, Asia is for the most part unconverted, South America is Catholic and Africa is primitive and poor. We still see ourselves as the same Light upon the Hill that the Puritans believed in, and we are eager to usher the rest of the world into our new enlightened state. But are we?

I am reminded of King Ahaz’s brand new brass altar in 2ndKings 16 that he copied from the king of Assyria. Oh, it was made with bright and shiny brass with a really modern design, and was much better than that old Brazen Altar of the Lord. So he moved the Brazen Altar of the Lord over and put this shiny new brass altar in it’s place. It sure seemed like a good idea at the time to trade the old ways for the new ways, but new and modern is not always right and good. In a short while, that same king of Assyria overflowed the banks up the neck of Jerusalem and almost destroyed Judah, just as Isaiah had prophesied (Isaiah 8:8).  Was that not because of Ahaz’s indiscretion? Is that not like what we are doing when we choose a modern Gospel that is more to our liking than that hard message of righteousness and the fear of God?

I have one question for us – a litmus test, so to speak. If we are so good and the gospel that has evolved over the last 50 years with this generation is so much better, then where, as Gideon once asked, are the miracles our fathers have told us about?

Mark tells us that these signs will follow them that believe. (Mark 16:17-18). Then where are the signs? I’m not talking about weak-kneed excuses for the anemic show of faith. I am talking about the supernatural demonstration of the Spirit that Paul boasted of in 1 Cor. 2:4. Where are the healing lines where everyone gets healed? Where is the supernatural Presence of the Holy Spirit that fills the room like a cloud of righteousness, which makes the air shimmer from the glory of God and drives sinners to the altar in droves?  Where are these signs that were once so abundant?  We used to have them 50 years ago. Where are these supernatural signs today?

I see them in Africa. Yes, that same Africa that we patronize as if they were lesser lights and children in theological sophistication.  And yet, God shows up in Holy Ghost power over there with miracles, healings, and revival. And we think we are somehow more enlightened than them?

Our grandfather’s generation knew God in power and, like Paul who gloried in the fact that he knew nothing except Christ Jesus and him crucified, they rested in their reliance in being led by the Spirit, not their lexicons, outlined sermon notes, visual aids, smoke, or mirrors.  No, they yielded in the pulpit and allowed the Spirit of God to preach the message. Something that we have lost the ability, courage, or faith to do anymore.

Only when we crucify our flesh, dispense with our carnal theological wisdoms and our stubborn rebellious ways will we ever be able to humble ourselves and fully take on the mind of Christ. Only then will God ever allow us to enter into that place of true power in God.

And then, God will get all the glory, not us.

Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. (Jeremiah 6:16)

 

Changes

“For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance;” (1stThessalonians 1:5)

I have been traveling across Africa for the past 15 years. During that time, I have preached in over 1,000 churches and spoken to tens of thousands of people. One of the recurring complaints I keep hearing is that Americans are no longer preaching the same message that they brought to them 50 years ago. I have heard that a hundred times if I have heard it once, and I have heard it from Kenya to Nigeria.

We used to preach about righteousness and holiness in the fear of God. Grace was the power that God gave us to overcome sin, the flesh, and the world. The formula was simple – “fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Eccl. 12:13), and Grace gave us the power to do that.

Today, the focus of Modern Christianity is different, as are the definitions of the words we use.  We are more “grace-oriented”, as one mega-preacher put it, and our emphasis is on the love of God rather than on His wrath. Today, grace has become more of a covering for sin than a cure for it. The sharp lines of judgment have been blurred to the point that no one is really sure any longer of who is saved and who is not. We now accept all denominations and all religions without prejudice because, after all, who are we to judge?

In 50 years, we have changed the basic tenets of the Gospel more than they have in generations. Those in today’s Modern Church who see this change applaud it as enlightening. The younger generation, who never experienced the power of the old fashioned Gospel, are not aware of the difference and so have whole-heartedly accepted this new Modern Gospel as if it has been the standard for all time.

But there’s more missing than just a change of focus. The power is gone. So are the miracles. Our sermons are now “in word only” with 5 bulleted points and a video clip, whereas they used to be delivered under the Anointing that pierced the depths of your soul. You used to be able to feel the tangible power and presence of the Holy Spirit like a cloud of glory. Now, we forget the message five minutes after we cross the threshold. We have traded the guts of the Gospel for an increase in sophistication and scholasticism, a fruit that is “desired to make one wise”.

The Africans can see this clearly. They wonder why we cannot.  Perhaps it is because we don’t want to, but instead, like the Church of Laodicea in Revelations, have chosen the golden calves at the foot of Mt. Sinai.

When and how did this change happen?  I believe things began changing in the 1960’s. Starting in 1964 with Billy Graham’s admitted shift in his messages and the ecclesiastical changes in some of the denominations, the tide of the Church began to turn. Fifty years later, the direction has fully turned. The truth is that 2,000 years of Gospel was upended in a very short time.

Today, Jonathan Edwards, Billy Sunday, A.W. Tozer, and many other giants would not be welcome in today’s church. They were too harsh; too judgmental; too strict; too hateful. That which was good is now considered evil, and that which was apostate, is now considered blessed.

The encouraging thing, however, is that today’s climate is very much like it often is just before God sends revival. There will be prophets to declare the old-fashioned fear of God – and they will be rejected – but there will be those who are hungry for something more than “church as usual”. Their hunger for the real power and presence of God will drive them to their knees, and that is what will bring revival.

“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20)

When I think of Kenya, I think of bright colors, laughter, bare feet, and red dust. Kenya is all those things, but there is also something more that I sense. There is a sense of destiny sewn into the fabric of their soul. They don’t just want revival; they expect it.

In 2004, when the Lord showed me the vision of the field of harvest that stretched across Africa, I saw myself striking a match and dropping it into the brittle, dry grass. As the fields of harvest burst into flame, He spoke to me and said, “That’s my people in Kenya.”  I have thought about that for 15 years. Why did He specify Kenya? Could it be that is where the Great African Revival will start?

Everywhere I travel across sub-Saharan Africa, believers are anxiously expectant of the next great move of God to come to their country. Everyone thinks their country is where it will all start, but I honestly think Kenya is the starting place.  I do believe this coming revival will be fast like a flash of lightning across Africa, and that all of a sudden the fire of God will be burning everywhere across the continent, but I have a feeling it will begin in Kenya.

This last mission to Kenya lasted a month. I started in Mombasa along the coast of the Indian Ocean, at a small but vibrant church. They braved the rain each day and trudged through the mud to come hear the muzumgu preach a strong message of revival.  They were small in number, but boy, could they belt out praise and worship! There is no doubt Heaven heard them. I sure did.

During the three days I was there, we handed out the Four Steps to Revival and purchased a case of Bibles for them. They were so excited about the message that they asked to have a third service on Saturday and a healing line on Sunday.  Besides several smaller infirmities, one lady was completely healed of her diabetes. She came back the next day with her doctor’s confirmation. I took that as a sign that this trip was going to be good.

We saw similar things for the rest of the month. The next church was much larger and the excitement level increased with the size. We had three healing lines, one each night. They sent me a list of all the healings that happened, but there were three that really stood out.

One lady came up and as soon as I laid hands on her, it was like sticking my fingers in a light socket. Both her and I were vibrating like we were switched on. I don’t remember what her ailment was, but I’m sure it got fried with the Holy Ghost.   A few people later, as I laid hands on a woman, the Spirit flowed down so heavily that not only the hairs on my arms stood straight up, but it was the same for the people assisting me. Again, I have no idea what she came up for, but I am positive she didn’t go back with it.

And then there was this little girl.  I had to get down on my knees to hear her, but she was okay. It was her grandma who was sick, so sick that she was not able to come to services, so the little girl asked if I could pray and heal her grandma. Oh Lord, did my heart melt!  So we prayed.  I can usually feel the Holy Spirit flow through me when I pray, so I knew He had heard this little girl’s prayer. A couple days later, they handed me a long list of healing testimonies. Grandma was on the list.

I don’t measure the effectiveness of my ministry like most other evangelists.  For me, it’s not about how many people got healed, although the number of people who received supernatural healings on this trip totaled over one hundred. Neither do I count the number of souls saved. There were quite a few, as there is on every trip I take, but I don’t count them because that’s the job of an evangelist. I am not an evangelist; I am a revivalist. I measure the effectiveness of my ministry by the number of churches that have been set on fire and that are actively heading out into the streets to spread the message.

We visited eight churches on this trip and all of them, I dare say, were at the very least challenged. Most turned immediately to witness to their communities and some doubled the size of their church before I left the country.

As the testimonies pile up, it is the future that I am most interested in. What will happen 6 months from now, or even next year? Will they follow the formula that I showed them in the Bible to keep the fire burning?  Or will they allow the cares of this world to erode their new found zeal?

I told them that the secret to revival is winning the lost – that is what revival is all about. The secret to winning the lost, however, is building a fire in the church. The fire that is needed for your church is the fire that comes off the Altar of God.  To climb up into the heavenlies to get that fire, it takes fervent, effective, desperate prayer.  That takes power, real power, and the power to pray like that comes only from the Word of God.  Jesus, who is theWord of God, said that without Him, we can do nothing.

There is it is in its simplicity. God makes everything simple for us so that it is never a matter of being able to overcome any obstacles, but rather a choice we make to avail ourselves of what He has given us.

My prayer for Kenya is that in their zeal to initiate a great move of God, they don’t overlook the simplicity of resting from their own works and allow the Word of God to lead them into victory.

That way God gets all the glory.

Hot and Muggy

IMG_2413Hot and muggy. That’s what Mombasa is like when it’s not raining. Since this is the end of the rainy season, we are getting a lot of both rain and that muggy heat.

The churches we’ve been to are like that also. There’s plenty of heat. You should hear their Praise and Worship times! Talk about hot!  Once they get going, they can sing and dance for hours. The excitement and joy is infectious.

But when we step into the Word, things can get a little muggy. In the first church we ministered in, only a few had Bibles, and fewer still read them. And so the lessons that I brought out of the Bible were revelatory to them. Like drawing back some heavy drapes and letting sunshine flood the room, they opened up a whole new way to see their faith. They were so excited that we bought them a case of Bibles to give them the sustenance and substance to bolster their faith and carry it forward.

As it usually goes, the next place we visited was very different. Still hot and muggy, but a different kind of mugginess. The pastor told me that they preached prosperity here. No, they weren’t prospering, but they were hoping that they would.  Unrequited hopes and prayers can leave you a little muggy, however. You’re hot, but it’s a muggy heat, and does not have that sharp and distinct heat that you get from direct sunshine.

Well, I figured that the worst that could happen is that after I preached my first message, which was going to be a polar opposite to the prosperity fodder they had been getting, all they could do is ask me not to come back.  Silly me. What was I worried about? God had already gone before me to prepare their hearts and they were ready and open-hearted to receive everything I had to give.  On the ride to the hotel, the pastor kept telling me how this message had changed his whole perspective.

We had three services, each one more exciting than the other. And three healing lines.  Once Africans feel the Holy Ghost flowing, they almost always want to dive into the river. So many of them have needs, and like little children, they look to their Heavenly Father for answers, healing and deliverance. And He hears them. It is a unique experience to stand in between a Heavenly Father and His precious children and feel the oil flow through you as you pray over them.

I have one more church here in Mombasa before we head north into Kenya. It is a small church with no more than a dozen people. I like those kinds of places because it allows me to get deep, close, and personal. The whole tenor of the message changes and you never know what will happen. I have seen all kinds of miracles happen in small meetings like that, from healing the blind to seeing the crippled and paralyzed walk.

Great moves of God are often birthed in small places. Acts chapter 10 tells of one such small meeting when God sent His number one servant to meet a Roman soldier who probably had very few friends. As a Roman, not many Jews would associate with him, and as a friend of Jews, not many Romans would hang out with him. So Peter came to this little tiny meeting. But this meeting opened the dispensation to the Gentiles.

No small meeting at all.

Ukunda

We are ministering to a small church on the coast of the Indian Ocean near Mombasa. The air here is fresh and clean and has that distinct tropical smell to it just like Miami. I like the feeling in the air and I can see why so many tourists come here from Europe. But we are not here for the tourists; we are here to light a spark in these churches to ignite the spirit of revival in their church.

Ukunda

I used to wonder if I was squandering my time and money in dealing with so many small churches. After all, just what can these little congregations do?  But doesn’t that sound just like Sanballat?

But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews. And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned?”  (Nehemiah 4:2)

Less than a dozen people braved the rain and the mud (they have to walk in the rain to get here), but this is a dozen people who are here to receive. Everyone else can stay home as far as I care. These are the ones I have come for and these are the ones who will carry the message.  God always uses the little things, the despised, the weak and foolish things of the world to show His glory.  And He is here tonight.

On the next day, we had double the crowd. They came to hear the American who is not bringing the usual message of peace, love, and grace, but one of righteousness, power, and victory. Revivals are not born on the soft side of the Gospel but on the side of righteousness, repentance, and desperate hunger for a true outpouring of the Holy Spirit. They want the real thing, not the candy-coated version.

So after the second service, they asked if I could do a third one. (Groan) Yes, they know you’re exhausted, but could you please tell them some more? Ten hours after we began, we finally crawled back to the hotel, but yeah, it felt good!

The third day was Sunday and the place was packed out. We sang and danced for hours. Kenyans love music. By the time the second service was finished, it had been another eight hours of church, but we were feeling good.

Some people got healed, some people got saved, but the important thing was that we had started a fire in this church that would not be easily extinguished. Some of these people will never be the same, most especially the pastor. God will take this little seed that has been planted, this little spark that was lit, and He will let it germinate in the soil until He is ready to bring it forth as a full and abundant harvest. This is how he does it. And when the harvest comes forth, it will be God who gets the glory.

“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)

 

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.