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Archive for June, 2011

Little Matches

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised or even puzzled about how much one day or one place can change from another. I’ve been doing this for a while, and it is nothing new to go from an exciting high at one church to a muddled low in the next. And even then, sometimes a church will all of a sudden catch the message and light up right at the end.

That’s the way the last few days have been here in Kigali. The first church I was at was alight with Holy Ghost enthusiasm, as if they had been waiting for this message for years, but the next place was like slogging through mud. I just couldn’t seem to connect with the congregation until the very last service on the 2nd day when the wall that was between us broke. I think it was the bit about the Welfare Mentality in the churches that finally got them. They realized that they had bought into that satanic lie that has convinced the churches that they don’t have to do anything because God is going to do it all for them. Revival will just fall out of the sky! Just sit back, relax and watch the fireworks!

They got it immediately. I daresay that in America they don’t ever get it. They say they do, but they don’t. I guess that is because America is like the Church of Laodicea who doesn’t know how blind she is. But these people in this little church in Kigali knew that if they did nothing, nothing would happen. All of a sudden, this wasn’t another Gospel of platitudes, cheap blessings, and porous religious ideas, but one of bedrock sincerity, deep commitment, and a cross to bear. It was a Gospel that was real. It was at that point that they shifted to the edge of their chairs, and I knew I had them. All they needed to know at that point was what to do. They were ready to go!

I sat here today wondering when the Great Revival was going to finally break out. I’ve struck matches in hundreds of churches like this one today, and of some I’ve heard exciting things about how they have expanded and grown. But most of the places I have preached to have disappeared from view. Did they catch the fire and explode, or did they just fizzle out after a short while? I don’t know because I hardly ever write back to the places I’ve been. I don’t even keep a list. But it would be nice to know what was happening out there.

Let me rephrase that – it would be nice to know if all this work is ever going to pay off. Is this really working, or am I just running around in circles with my little matchbook trying to start forest fires?

I don’t suppose it would matter either way – I have my commission set before me and I will keep on going until I run out of time, health, or money … or matches.

Still, it would be nice to know.

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I told you about the services on Day 2 in Rwanda. Day 3 was just as good, but it was all rolled into one 5-hour service that ended with an hour-long healing line.

This wasn’t like healing lines I’ve had before where you can feel the oil flowing from the Throne and everyone who comes forward gets healed. During times like that, you can actually feel the flowing. It’s almost like you are floating – not so much that you can’t stand up or anything, but enough that you can feel it. This was not one of those times. I didn’t feel anything except for a few individual exceptions. And I’m not so sure that everyone got healed. As a matter of fact, there were several who did not get healed. Why is that?

I know that some people have the Gift of Healing and some do not. I must not have it because I can’t turn it on when I need it. I have absolutely no control over when it works and when it doesn’t. I can barely pray over some people, and bang, they are healed. Then I pray my guts over someone else and twist my soul in passion for God to heal them, but nothing happens. Is there a method to this? Where is the switch that I’m supposed to turn on? How does this thing work, anyway?

I thought that maybe it was the way I prayed. Are you supposed to pray with the authority that Jesus gave you to go forth and heal the sick, or do you retract humbly before God to beseech Him for healing because it is God who has the power, not you? I tried both and I can’t tell if either way actually makes a difference.

Is it the place or the people? Are they not ready, or not open, or not something or other? Maybe they don’t read the Bible enough so they don’t have enough faith to receive healing? Or maybe it’s just me. Today I’m lit up and on fire, but tomorrow I’m just flat. I don’t know, but all that sounds a little thin. If we had some kind of ON switch we could turn on, we’d be running around all over the place healing the sick and raising the dead, waving our hands in the hospitals to empty the place out, standing outside Funeral Parlors to pop them out of the caskets as soon as they put them in them. No, I don’t think that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

Maybe there is no specific reason that you can nail down and analyze. Maybe you just have to trust God and let Him worry about the details. These people are, after all, His sheep, not yours.

I believe that it may not be about healing at all, but about an entirely different dynamic that is at work here. The Gift of Healing might just be a tool that God uses to bring a higher purpose to light through the power of the Gospel. It is not miracles, after all, that can transform a human soul, but only the power of the Word of God that can give you Eternal Life. Maybe that’s what it is all about.

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After yesterday’s services here in Kigali, I felt a little cloudy. More like dull and uninspired. Yeah, the services were okay, but I only have three days to bring these people to a place of broken repentance before God, bust open the windows of their faith, and ignite a fire in their church that will change their lives and the lives of everyone around them forever. In three days. Good services ain’t gonna make it. You need supernatural, Hell-breaking, Holy Ghost-filled services for that. And that is not what we had yesterday. Oh well. One day down; two to go.

But today … oh boy, today was a different story!

It was all because of my Jet Lag. At 3:30 AM, I am wide awake and there is no going back to sleep because my body’s time clock is still 8 hours off. Okay, so what do you do with 6 hours on your hands and nothing to do? You read and pray. Since I came out of yesterday’s services like I was wandering around in a cloud with no clear grip on anything, I might as well do like it says in Job —

“Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place;

that it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it?” Job 38:12,13

 

I got up and prayed like the old fashioned Revivalists used to do. I commanded the morning, and took hold of the dayspring to shake the wicked out of the Earth. Yeah, it was that good. It took a while to get it, but once I did, I knew I had a hold on something from God and He would bring it forth.

Somewhere in that first few minutes I had them. Yesterday, they paid attention, but I never really had them – I mean, HAD them. But today they were locked in. Don’t ask me how or why ’cause I have no idea. I don’t know what did it, but something broke, and after that we were flying. Never, ever underestimate the power of prayer!

I thought that 1st service was great. Silly me. The 1st service was just preparation for the 2nd service. That is when the skies broke wide open … and stayed open. For hours. They were still going when I left for the hotel. And I got another day to go yet!

You know, sometimes I feel like I’m wandering around in a cloud and I don’t know what I’m doing. Well, actually, that’s true – I don’t know what I am doing. But that is the strength of my ministry. I may have no idea what I’m doing … but I know the One who does.

Never underestimate the power of prayer.

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Rwanda 1

Well, the first day in Rwanda is over. Nothing supernatural, but everything went according to plan. Except I still can’t get Internet service and my phone won’t pick up a signal. But then, this is Africa, so that is expected too. I hate to buy a phone just for the few weeks that we’ll be here, but that is my only other option. Maybe I can get one cheap like I did in Uganda for 12 bucks … or maybe I can just sink into the background without any phone at all.

Now that’s an interesting proposition! I could get lost like in those travel stories where the author completely unplugs so he can wean himself out of our electronic world. After all, it wasn’t too many years ago when our world of instant and ubiquitous communication was unheard of. If you went to Africa on a steamship, especially into the exotic central jungle, no one heard from you for months. Not a totally bad idea.

On the other hand, one of the main underlying ideas of these missions is to use the fire that is started here to provoke America to jealousy, and I have to communicate to do that.

Rwanda is like much of the rest of East and Central Africa. I have only seen Kigali, the capital, but it seems a bit more prosperous than the other places I’ve been to. This city is much less populous than other capitals like Nairobi and Kampala and so it is able to escape the extremes of poverty, dirt and filth, and the crowded competition for life that you find there. Still, it seems a bit more prosperous than what would be natural. You can see a lot of new money here in the infrastructure of the city, the new roads and the new buildings. I wonder if it is a result of a ton of international aid since the Genocide.

I am told that since the Genocide, there was an almost universal revival here and that almost everyone in Rwanda is now saved. Well now, either this universal revival was pretty shallow, or I just never heard the news about it. It is true that there is a strong Christian influence here, but I’ve seen that in other places and it has turned out to be just superficial. Throughout both services today, it kept coming up that these people, who have come from several different churches, do want revival. I suspect that the devil has sent out a false picture to hide their desperate need. At least that’s how it seems after the first day.

I’ll keep you posted as we go on.

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God Ain’t Fair

What happens when bad things happen to good people? Is God not fair who watches over us?

We all want to believe in a fairy-tale existence where life is at least fair if not blessed. We hold on to our Christianity and find an equilibrium in our lives where we are comfortable with our faith in God and expect that all things will work to good for those who love Him and keep His commandments. That’s what it says in the Bible, doesn’t it? Even though the Bible also says that the heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked, still, we don’t actually FEEL overly wicked. We believe in God and go through all the modes of Christian life that we are expected to part of, so naturally we expect good things from God.

But what happens when things don’t go the way we expected or at least hoped? Sometimes Life deals a losing hand that places us in a terrifying situation that doesn’t make sense to us. Sometimes, all of a sudden, things aren’t so good, and we find ourselves wondering what happened. We know that tragedies happen all the time, but we expect them to happen to someone else, not us. What happens when all a sudden the table is turned and we have nowhere to go for help?

It is easy to talk about holding on to our faith when it’s not our faith that is being tested. We can mouth all the platitudes – and we do to others who are experiencing a catastrophe – but when it’s us who is facing a catastrophe, it can feel like we are grasping thin air in our desperate cries to God for help. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Not to us. But it did, and now we are crying out to God for help … but sometimes there is only stillness in the night air as we wait for an answer.

Is Life so fickle that there is no telling how she will deal her tragedies and triumphs? Is Life us a roll of the dice? And when it goes bad, where is the answer from God? Job found himself in this situation thousands of years ago and he didn’t have any answers either. Joseph faced life in a dungeon and he hadn’t done anything wrong. It must have seemed like he had been abandoned by God.

I have seen hundreds of people healed with just a simple laying on of hands and a prayer. Easy. Nothing to it. God just shows up and heals them on the spot. But I also have friends who lead lives of righteousness and sincerely seek God but who have had debilitating sicknesses for years, and it seems no amount of crying out to God does any good. We all would like a rational explanation for this seeming imbalance, so we come up with fine-sounding sayings to explain it away. But fine-sounding explanations sound hollow to someone who is in desperate need for an answer. Sometimes we hear no answer at all … only silence.

David, in Psalm 37, cries out that he has seen the wicked spreading themselves like a green bay tree but that in the end, they shall meet their judgment while the righteous will be delivered. This is the ultimate resolution that we all need to believe in, but when we are immersed in a present reality of pain, we need an answer now, not later on the Day of Judgment. We need to know that God hears us and will answer us … and we need to know why we are going through this. Those answers are not always forthcoming nor are they easy.

Much of it has to do with our own spiritual condition. I don’t believe that any of us truly understand our own spiritual condition. Just as water seeks its own level and will rest at a certain spot, so we often find a spiritual level in our lives that we are comfortable with and tend to rest there. We tend to think we’re okay. That, however, is not always the place God is satisfied with and He may jar us out of there to squeeze us into a deeper crucified walk than we would ever take ourselves. Being pulled into the sufferings of the Body of Christ is the only way the cloud of flesh can be dissolved so that we can experience the spiritual clarity of a deeper walk in the Spirit. That is something only God can do. We do not possess the power to pierce that veil in our carnal will.

Some people are called into higher callings than others. I have no idea how God makes those determinations, but I know that there are some people who are anointed vessels of God and have been called to bear the power and authority of the Holy Spirit at a deeper level than others. Those are vessels that must go through a deeper refining fire than others. Proverbs 17:3 says, “The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts.” Some people are silver and others are gold. Those who are gold have to go through a stronger furnace to purify them so that they are sanctified and meet for the Master’s use.

Sometimes it’s as simple as God putting us through extreme trouble just to get our attention or to get us back in line. Ask Jonah what that was like.

I don’t know what you are going through right now or what you or I will face later on, but I do firmly believe that God is in complete control. But that is not the problem. We all assume that God knows what is going on — He might even be the One doing it. What we need to know is if God is hearing us when we cry out to Him and what do we have to do to get Him to answer. That’s our real question. And that has more to do with what our walk in God has been more than anything else.

When your walk in God is deeply rooted in the Spirit, you will still go through the fire, but you will have a hold on the reality of His presence while He walks through it with you. If you are not deeply seated in that secret place in God, then your hold is tenuous at best and your grip on His hand is slippery.

– Have you been seeking the face of God with all your heart? Has He been the passion of your life, or a hobby that you get to when you have time?
– Have you extended your soul out to those in need, especially the lost? Have you answered the call in Isaiah 58 to deal the Bread of Life to the hungry, to break the yokes and lift the heavy burdens of sin, clothe the naked with the robes of righteousness, and take the spiritually homeless into your house of God? If you need mercy in your life, understand that only mercy begets mercy. Where mercy is not sowed, mercy is not growed.
– Has your life been like a mirror that has reflected the glory of God or more like a translucent glass that absorbs part of the glow for yourself? How much carnal flesh are you carrying around? Is your vessel as clear as transparent glass so that when people look at you, they don’t see you but they see the fire of God that is in you? Or do you need 21 years of broken subjection like Jacob did to take the Jacob out of Jacob before he could become Israel?

Maybe it is true that God is not fair … but that, my friend, is the mercy of God.

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” … let not thy dread make me afraid. ”  (Job 13:21)

Throughout the years, I’ve witnessed the struggle to define what the Fear of God really is … and what it is not. A friend of mine has said that people will follow their hearts, and so it is with how people define what the Fear of God is to them.

The expanse of extremes range from the old fashioned “fear and trembling” that I was raised with to the more modern “awesome respect” that I hear so often today.  Some say we shouldn’t tremble at the presence of God because He is our Daddy and we should be able to crawl into His lap and just “love on Him”, while others point to a myriad of Scriptural references to a more intense fear of God that drives us into righteousness. 

Isaiah 8:13 cries out to “let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread”, while Paul echoes this several times with “fear and trembling” and other serious admonitions. Moses’ knees smote together and David’s skin quaked for fear of God. This is not just “awesome respect” but a deeper level that is not to be addressed lightly. While many today look narrowly at the restrictive attitudes of the old Pentecostal revivals, it can also be said of today’s churches that they have thrown all restraint to the winds in order to “walk in Love”.

There is a dual nature to the Fear of God that perhaps neither perspective addresses properly. How is it that Job would cry out to not let the dread of God make him afraid unless there is something more to the true meaning of the Fear of God? Proverbs says that there is great confidence in the Fear of God and that it actually makes a man’s face to shine, and yet He will in no wise acquit the wicked and the wages of sin is Death.

It is true that it is through the fear of God that men depart from evil, and that righteousness gives a boldness to claim His promises. John’s definition of Love is the keeping of God’s commandments, not the warm, fuzzy emotions associated with that term today.

Job knew God intimately. He knew not only the loving favor, but also that he would never be able to grasp the utter enormity of His power and His greatness. The carnal mind can never pierce the veil of Eternity to even begin to approach a shadow of it.  Talk to anyone who has had the supernatural experience of standing before the Throne of God and they will tell you that the word “awesome” can’t even hint at it.

This is the place that Elijah stood when he declared, “the God of Israel … before whom I stand”. Standing that kind of fear of God, he feared nothing else and it gave him the boldness to rebuke kings. He knew his Savior, and the dread of the Almighty gave him his righteousness and his faith.  This was not a sloppy respect, but an intensity of realization who God really was.

Let us not confuse the strength and power of the true fear of God with a debilitating satanic fear that destroys our confidence. Neither let us dismiss it with a desire to replace it with a weak Pollyanna Gospel that is more focused on love and which undermines our resolve to strive for righteousness.

It is not a matter of choosing between the fear of God and the love of God. The core personality of God is neither.  God’s core personality is extreme holiness and burning righteousness (Holy, holy, holy), from which both these things emanate and draw us to.

Instead, let us stand like Elijah with the knowledge that we stand before the presence of an almighty righteous holy God  who fills the Universe and spans Eternity, but with the understanding of Job that His fear will not make us afraid to stand in great confidence through the power of the Blood of Jesus.

Brother Dale, www.revivalfire.org

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