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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

.

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)

The Bishop’s wife got healed last night, but the blind lady didn’t get healed today. Don’t know why.

Yesterday was the first day of a 3-day session in Ashaka, Nigeria. My main objective is to somehow inspire the people here to not just hear and believe the message, but to be driven to the point that they will go out into the streets to bring in the lost and start the process for a true revival. Healing the Bishop’s wife wasn’t part of it.

It was a great service, but as I was heading out the door after the service, this skinny, little old lady stopped me and asked me to pray over her. I wasn’t sure what was wrong or who she was, but she didn’t look too good. We prayed and her face lit up. She was healed! I didn’t know what to do at that point other than get in the car and collapse in the seat for the ride back to the hotel.

Well, it turns out she was the Bishop’s wife and she was sick with Malaria and some other nasty diseases. And she really did get healed. As you might guess, she told everybody. So today we had a healing line after the message. Some got healed; some did not. There was a blind lady that I just could not lift the covering of faith on. Sometimes you will pray over someone and you can just feel that resistance hampering the prayer of faith. Getting past that barrier is nigh unto impossible, at least as far as I have experienced. If you can break that barrier and release their faith to believe that God sees you, He hears you, He cares about you, and yes, He will heal you is the key to releasing their faith to believe and be healed. Sometimes that is so hard that you just can’t pray through it.

I prayed twice over her and it just did not happen. But next to her was someone with a sickness who got healed.. Several others came up with pains, headaches, stomach things, and a couple of weird things that I have no idea what I was laying my hands on — they all got healed except the blind lady.

I have absolutely no idea why that happens like that. I have experienced this hundreds of times and still have no idea. It just does. Period. Was it my faith, their faith, sin, doubt, or just plain “that’s the way it is”? I’m going to go with the last one. Somebody who has never healed anyone in their life will probably write a book and explain it all to us, but in the meantime, I’ve done this hundreds of times and I know less than I did when I started.

I believe that healing miracles are not the prime focus of ministry, but are God’s seal of approval. The focus of our ministry should be to save the lost. What good would it be to have someone healed and wind up in Hell? The Lord once told me that miracles take away from the message. Once you start the stampede for the miracles, they no longer are listening. I have found that to be true, which is why I try to wait for the end before we have healing lines. But tonight, everybody wanted what the Bishop’s wife got.

My great concern is that after all that is preached, prayed, and repented, I would be little more than a temporary entertainment and the fire that I had kindled would be allowed to slowly die out. I want them to do more than just cheer and shout; I want them to do. I would love to see everybody get healed, but, more than that, I want to see them start a fire of revival so that everybody got saved.

I have had great successes in East Africa, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, and the Congo, but Nigeria is a tough venue. We are being told everywhere we go that this message is what Nigeria needs and pastors are excited to get the book and spread the message further. But we are up against an incredibly strong Prosperity and money movement in the Nigerian Church that is diametrically opposed to the doctrine of repentance, holiness, and the fear of God. It will be a long and hard battle to crack the wall of this corrupt established Church, but these are strong and hard men and women, so when this message of revival does get a foothold, I believe it will explode.

The odds do not favor us. They are the same odds that were against the children of Israel in Egypt, of David with King Saul, of John the Baptist with King Herod, and of Jesus with the Sanhedrin. Paul faced the challenge of converting the entire known world all the while being attacked by the Circumcision heretics, but it was said that he and Silas had turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6).

We are facing the same odds. May the best man win.

Well, I’m already off to a rough start. I don’t know if this is a harbinger of what is to come or if we are just getting all the trouble out of the way now so I can finish this mission in peace.

First, I’m in a hotel in Lagos, Nigeria and the elevator got stuck. I don’t know if that has ever happened to you, but it is disconcerting to say the least. At first, it wasn’t too bad; I was just stuck. I picked up the phone that was by the sign that read, “If the elevator stops, have patience.” That should have given me a clue, like maybe this is something that happens on a regular basis? Like, if you find yourself falling off a cliff, don’t worry, have patience, you’ll stop falling after a little while.

The lady on the phone says they are working on it. Oh good. Then the lights went out. Total pitch darkness, no sounds, no response from the outside world. And we’re in Nigeria, where things get fixed when they absolutely have to.

As usual, everything worked out, the lights came on, and the elevator started working again. On to the next adventure.

Which was the airport.

Navigating through the Domestic Terminal in Lagos is like working your way through a madhouse of noise, dust, and confusion. There is the low bass rumbling of a few hundred insistent voices shouting for dominance in a hall that echoes everything off the walls and ceiling, immersing you in a cloud of audio confusion,

If you’re a white guy, you will immediately get accosted by a score of different “helpers” that never learned manners. Instead, they insistently ask you where you are going, pull the ticket out of your hands, grab your suitcase and start running off into the terminal. As you swat them off you like flies, you have to somehow find out where to go without encouraging them to sweep you up to “help” you. I actually had to start yelling at them to “LEAVE ME ALONE!”

As it was, I got so confused that I thought I had paid for my extra luggage fee and accused one of the workers of taking my money for the extra baggage and not giving me a receipt. By now, patience has become a distant faded memory of something that someone else possesses.

This is a part of ministry in foreign lands that is not often shared or understood by those who have never been here. You may have a sharp focus on what your mission is, but getting to that place of ministry is fraught with difficulties, obstacles, and road blocks that are designed to simply drive you mad. Yes, everything almost always works out, but the journey there can wear you out. The trick is in realizing that the satanic purpose is not to stop you – he knows he can’t do that – but to wear you out, pull you out of the Spirit, try to ruin your testimony to those around you, and ultimately steal your victory so that your effectiveness in the pulpit will be at least somewhat blunted.

But “in your patience, possess ye your souls.”

That scripture is making more and more sense to me as time goes on. Believing that the grace of God is on you and will steer you through the brambles and barbed wire that Satan has thrown before you requires faith. But when the storm is blowing around you and grace seems far away, it is patience that allows faith to operate until grace takes control.

Psalms 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD