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Archive for May, 2010

I wonder how old these cobblestones are that I am walking on?  I’m wandering down the narrow alleys of Praia, the capital of Cabo Verde, and there is an ancient feeling that hangs in the air.  The cobblestones under my feet are black and slick from ages of wear. There’s no telling how old they are. Old is measured here in centuries, not years.

I can just picture Portuguese soldiers in shiny breastplates and those funny curved helmets running down these very same alleys with their pikes and habergeons to the breastworks to defend the city from another attack by French or English.  Rusty old Portuguese cannons from the 17th or 18th century lay around as if they are discarded reminders of wars from times past.

The Plateau, as they call it, sits high above the harbor overlooking a deep blue ocean while a tropical breeze flows in cooling these old brick and plaster walls from the equatorial sun directly overhead.  In a typical sidewalk café under an expansive orange umbrella, you can sip a cup of strong espresso and enjoy the peaceful feeling of a lazy afternoon.  Old men gather to play chess around a table and argue in rapid-fire Portuguese with old friends, while young men and girls can be heard laughing at the next one. Time doesn’t really pass here – it floats away.  It is almost as if there is no time, and life drifts softly into the sunset.  Sorry, I don’t mean to sound maudlin, but there really is no other way to describe it.

It is in this hypnotic landscape that Christianity has had such a hard time gaining a foothold. It is as if these islands are in a dream world where there is no tomorrow, no yesterday, only the languid presence of now. No one cares about anything because they would have to work too hard to take it seriously. The prospect of pleasures today far outweighs the consternations of Hell tomorrow.

But there is a group of pastors who know better. They know they need something from God that is strong enough to shatter this dreamy illusion. Even their congregations are affected with a laissez-faire attitude toward church, sinners, and Eternity.  Instead of their focus being directed to the Cross, it is directed toward them; instead of looking for ways they can serve God, they are looking for ways that God can serve them.  It is the intoxication around them that has affected their outlook.

But there are pockets here of real Christians who really want revival, and it is for them that I have come. I believe that they will be the lightning rod that God will use to break the demonic spirit that has such a hold on these islands.

Last night, we ministered at such a church.  Very few people showed up for the first service and I wasn’t sure if it was just another example of “African time”, or just nobody really cared.  The Lord gave me a simple and a short message, so I delivered it and sat down.  Oh well. That was all He gave me.

I figured that it was pretty much over and that the evening service might be a dud when a girl in the congregation said she had a question.  A question? Wow. A spark of life!  She wanted to know what real-life experiences I had with revival.  Ah-hem. Excuse me, but how much time do we have?

For the next 45 minutes or so, the crowd came in and sat mesmerized as I described what true supernatural revival is really like. They sat with open hearts drinking it all while I painted a picture for them in vivid colors of what revival was really like. By the time I was finished, the place was packed!   The pastor encouraged them to put what I had said into action and handed them Gospel tracts to hand out in the streets around them for the next thirty minutes and then come back in time for the evening service.

Needless to say, that service was a great!  I don’t know how long I preached, but I know how hard. The Spirit of the Lord had taken over and we were in His presence.  What a service!

And then, as I handed the microphone to the pastor to close with an altar call, a woman came forward with her two girls to get saved.  She had gotten a tract during that 30 minute session between services and had come to church to hear the Gospel.  What an incredible breakthrough!  I felt like jumping up and down yelling, “See? See? I told you it works!”

But I didn’t have to. They were jumping up and down themselves.

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Never underestimate the power of praise!

We had a service this evening at a Brazilian church in the city and, wow, did we have a service!  By Brazilian, I mean that the pastor and his family have come over here as missionaries from Brazil to start a church in Cabo Verde to win souls.  This family is just bursting with the joy of the Lord.  It is infectious in their conversation, their praise, and their music.

Did you ever notice that some singers have a certain touch that brings life to a song and lifts your heart in praises to God?  Some have it and some don’t. This pastor and his family have it.  Even though all the words were in Portuguese, I could feel them lift my heart to soar in praise.  I don’t know what they were saying, but I could sure feel it!

I have always been taught that music – good music – is extremely important in services, and last night was a good example of that.  The music made the service like celebration. By the time I got to the pulpit, everyone had been so lifted up in the Spirit that their hearts were ready to hear whatever God had for them.

Even though I preach a hard message that repentance must come before revival, they were ready to receive it.  They understood that the call that is placed upon us is to bring forth fruit unto God — which means winning souls — and that we have not done that.  But the encouraging hope of this message is that the path to revival – true revival – lies through that same repentance for our church, our community, our country.  Just like Nehemiah, when we cry out to God for forgiveness, then we have the firm hope that He will hear and answer.  There is no revival without repentance.

The carnal mind cannot receive these things because they are spiritually discerned. That’s why a church that is not crucified will be more focused on Prosperity messages, “feel-good” sermons   without judgment, and a Pollyanna mindset of love, peace and blessings.  But that is not the Gospel that nailed Jesus on the Cross, and it is not the message that will bring a division from this sinful world to ignite a true revival.  Only hearts that are broken for God, that have spurned the things of this world and are burdened for the Truth can truly understand and embrace that kind of message.  It is what separates the sheep from the goats.

This church had a crucified heart.  I’m not sure if the music is what lifted them to that level, or their hearts are what lifted the music to that level.  Whichever it was, the Spirit of the Lord was free to move amongst us and deal with hearts.  It was a service they will never forget.

I can feel the tide beginning to turn in Cabo Verde.  If you hammer at a rock long enough, it will finally break. God says that His Word is that hammer that breaks the rock in pieces.  I believe I am finally beginning to see a crack in that rock.

Patience and dedication go hand in hand with determination and faith.  If we believe God and are faithful to keep His Word, we will see the glory of God revealed.

It’s just a matter of time.

So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”
Isaiah 55:11

Brother Dale,  dale@revivalfire.org

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A Wall

A Wall

And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness.  And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not.

And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come,) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them.
Ezekiel 33:31-33

That’s the word the Lord gave me yesterday.  Scary, isn’t it?  But that is what I am experiencing here in Cabo Verde.

Wherever I have preached this message on revival in Africa, congregations have responded with zeal.  They have been desperate for a move of God and know intrinsically that the things they have been doing is not bringing revival to their church.  They are so easily broken at the altar of repentance that you can literally feel the snap as the floodgates open from the Throne of God. What a joy it has been to bust through and see a church ignited with the fire of God!

But not so in Cabo Verde.

My message has centered on what I say are four steps to revival.  The first step is to bring the realization that they do not have a revival right now and that their church is not experiencing the power that accompanies a real Holy Ghost revival.  That is easy to do.  All you have to do is ask them how many souls got saved last week.  They get it.  They’re a barren wife to God.

The second step is about getting an all-consuming desire for revival like Rachel’s cry to Jacob, “Give me souls lest I die!”  It is also easy to make them realize that the price for revival is high, that it will cost them everything.  In Africa, just tell them what they have to do and get out of the way — they are ready to do whatever it takes.

But here in Cabo Verde, they hear the message — and are excited — but although they want revival, they just can’t seem to grasp that they actually have to do something!  Night after night, I am stuck on driving home the message that they need a burden for the lost more than the comfort of their weekly church services.  They stare and blink, but it doesn’t go in.  I have even taken them out into the streets to witness, but it only lasts while I am there with them.

I’ve told them about the Good Samaritan, the Great Commission, and the parable of the Great Banquet where the Lord commands us to go out into the streets and compel the lost to come in.  I have shown them the command in Ezekiel 33 of the watchman on the wall to warn the people of the coming danger and that they would have the blood of those souls on their hands if they did not.  I’ve explained 1 John 3:16 that the love of God is to lay down our lives for others.  I’ve shown them how Jesus in John chapter 5 went to the Pool of Bethesda where the sick were while the “church people” were clean and untouched over at the Temple.  I have brought forth this same message out of I don’t know how many passages until it is scaring me, never mind them!

But there is a wall that I cannot seem to break through.  But isn’t this the same in America?  So why am I surprised?

The core message has always been that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not about us – it is about others.  It is about winning souls while there is still time.  This is the message of the Cross.  Until we cry out for God to give us that kind of a burden for lost souls and repent for being a barren woman who has not brought forth children for our Bridegroom, God cannot and will not send a revival.

Revival is not about feeling good in exciting services and watching miracles performed – it is about winning souls. Everything else is just what accompanies it. When the altars are bare, so is your church.  It is so simple: if you want revival, go out into the streets and get one! Bring in the lost and God will pour out His Spirit.  If you don’t, neither will He.

But there is hope.  In Philippians 2:13, the promise is that God will work in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure.  God can break open the fallow ground of our hearts to drive that desire into us.  When he does, the wheels of revival will begin to turn.

Like Nehemiah and Daniel, let us call out to God in deep repentance and beg Him to return to His people with forgiveness so that we can be restored to the glory that belongs to His Bride.

Wilt thou be angry with us for ever? wilt thou draw out thine anger to all generations?
Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?Shew us thy mercy, O LORD, and grant us thy salvation.”
Psalms 85:5-7

Brother Dale, dale@revivalfire.org

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Language Barriers

I have never been a place where English was so scarce. I am inundated with Portuguese. You hear it everywhere running in a rapid staccato like a fast rushing stream tumbling over rocks.  But nobody speaks English.

Well, hardly anyone.  Every once in a while someone will try to squeeze out a few lilting words with a heavy Mediterranean accent, but for the most part, I’m on my own.  Even my host here in Cape Verde is from Nigeria and speaks with that thick, ponderous Nigerian accent.

I tried turning on the television – no luck there.  It just emphasizes the feeling of isolation.

Ordering food is the worst. You never really know what you’re going to get.  Yesterday, I had to strut like a chicken, clucking and flapping my wings and laying an egg just to order an omelet.  And even then, they put it in a sandwich.  (Sigh).

Preaching an impassioned message with this kind of handicap is even harder.  I’ve had a different translator in almost every service and all of them have done very well, but when you are wringing your soul out and you have to stop, repeat, and then repeat again so that he can figure out what to say … well, it sort of loses it’s punch.

I have to believe, however, that the message is getting across.  There are times when they will raise their hands and praise the Lord in response to something I said or wipe away tears from their eyes, so I can only assume that God is covering everything.  (Unless of course, my translator is just up there cracking jokes or something. Hey, you never know in Cabo Verde.)

This morning I left to go eat breakfast at one of the higher priced hotels here. As I was sitting down, an young lady stopped by my table as she was leaving.  She was so relieved to hear someone speak in real English!  She is here from Washington D.C. to instruct the military on how to use Intelligence software  … and they forgot to get her a translator!  Yeah, I know the feeling.

Nevertheless, the miracle here is that the Word of God has no bounds. Language is no barrier, and neither are cultural obstacles.  When God has stirred up the hearts of a people to cry out to Him for revival and to seek Him with all their hearts, He will answer.  He can use a jackass or a guy from Texas – it doesn’t matter.  There is something ethereal at work that cannot be seen with the eye.  It works on the deeper level of the heart, and is on a wavelength that only the soul can hear.

They will call, and He will hear them.  English or no English.

Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.
And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. ”
Jeremiah 29:12,13

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