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Archive for March, 2012

Serious

 It’s the eyes that get you.

All the shouting and the praising is great, but it is when you look into their eyes and see the sincerity of their heart that you really know that God is doing something special here. It’s not just another meeting to sing some songs and hear about how much God wants to bless you and bring you into some vaunted abundant life.  The stuff we saw tonight is down to the roots of the soul – serious dedication to do whatever it takes to have revival.

Nigeria is very different from East Africa in that this is a serious people. You do not see the color and gaiety here that you find in Kenya, but neither do you see the lackadaisical attitude that you find in East Africa. Nigerians work hard and have a more serious outlook on life.  Their approach to the Gospel reflects that same attitude.  Whereas in Kenya, the shouting and singing may be louder initially, their ardor begins to wane when it comes time to dig in and do the work of the Gospel. Nigerians, on the other hand, may not be so open and emotional, but they seem to have a more serious fixation on the hard facts of the price that must be paid to have a true revival.

A prominent pastor here told me that they have been fasting and praying for revival but God is not answering.  Something is wrong, and they want to know what it is.  Now that is a serious cry for revival!  This is past the singing and dancing and enters into the serious reality of what God requires. The Altar of God is not a place of singing and dancing, but of blood and sacrifice and death.

One of the biggest lies that Satan has sold the Church is that we can just sit in our little pews and God will have mercy on us and send us revival.  Sorry, but if you do nothing, nothing will happen.  Mercy is not handed out free – it must be paid for.  Mercy begets mercy, unto the merciful He will show Himself merciful, and as James tells us, judgment shall be without mercy on those who have shown no mercy.  What a trip the devil has put us on!  And we believed him!  Or should that be in the present tense?

But these guys know differently.  They know there is a price to pay for everything in God – everything. And the price for a full Holy Ghost revival is extremely high.  That’s why they are so rare – nobody wants to pay that price.  That is precisely why you have to be desperate in order to see revival come.  So desperate that you are like Rachael in Genesis 30:1, “Give me souls or else I will die!”  So desperate that you are willing to give your life so that souls can be saved.  If you are not, you will not see a real Holy Ghost revival because you won’t do what it takes to get one.  You’ll just have some really good “church”.

But these people tonight have had enough of “church”.  They are ready for whatever God has placed before them and are ready to answer the call of the trumpet that is blowing in Zion – the call to the last battle between God and Satan for the souls of Man.

You could see it in their eyes as they came in droves to kneel at the altar.  The entire church came down — even the ushers!  They emptied themselves of their self-interest and pride as they ripped their hearts wide open to repent and surrender all to Jesus.  The passion at the altar was only surpassed by the cries of “hallelujah” that were so loud that my ears over-amped!  There was victory in the church tonight.

When you see a serious dedication like that, you can expect serious results.  I have no doubt that their passion will carry them into the Word of God to give them the power to fast and pray for God to build a fire in their church.  And then watch as that fire spills out into the streets to bring in the lost and dying into that same Holy Ghost blaze.

Just as in childbirth, revivals are birthed in pain and labor and travail. They also end up with the same kind of rejoicing.

 

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Pure Religion

 “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”  (James 1:27)

Nigeria is like no other place I have been. As the most populous country in Africa, the pressure of their dense population tends to make them a stronger, more aggressive culture.  That is both good and bad – that which is bad is really bad, but that which is good is really good. I saw some of the really good this evening.

The church where I am preaching at for three days is on a campaign to start a true Holy Ghost revival.  As the revivalist guest speaker, I am a major part of that plan.  I tell them what to do to have revival, and they go out and put it into practice.  My goal is that they will grab hold of a vision that will claim their entire community for Christ, and have the faith to believe that they can change the world.  And they can … they just have to have to want it bad enough.

It has to start somewhere, and tonight they started with an open air crusade.  Outdoor crusades do not work well in America – at least as far as I have seen – but they sure work well here in Africa.  At the end of the service tonight, at least 50-60 souls came to the altar to get saved, got plugged into one of the local churches here, and were instructed on what to do next in their Christian walk.  This is pure religion.  It does not get any better, deeper, heavier, or more important than this.

In contrast, our churches have developed a more layered and sophisticated way of operating.  I guess it is only natural given that the Church today has become very much like a corporate business.  Aspiring pastors apply for positions at various churches just like a job applicant fresh out of business school. Once hired, salaries are set, job descriptions and responsibilities are defined, and positions are secured. They start at Youth Pastor (why do we put our most inexperienced clergy In the most sensitive position?) and move on up through the different departments until they arrive at the pinnacle of Senior Pastor.  Programs are instituted, goals are voted on, methods are applied, and the whole machinery of church is organized.

This is denominational religion.  Like it or not, complain, criticize, or praise it, this is how it is done — and I suppose it works well enough for what it is supposed to accomplish — but what I experienced this evening was pure religion. This was raw “go out and get ‘em” Christianity — out in the street, face to face where they live.  Nothing complicated.  Just do it.

I tell the churches I preach at that if they are sitting in church waiting for souls to come, they will wait forever.  They’re not coming.  You know why?  Because they are afraid they will become just like us.  (You can always hear everyone groan when I say that). “Go ask them”, I tell them, “They will tell you.” 

What they want is the real thing. They’ve already heard the message – probably know it better than most “church people” – but they’re not interested in what you believe, what you say, or what new fancy programs you got going.  They want the real thing – they want to see the power.  They don’t want the Gospel that is the philosophy of God – defined, analyzed, organized, packaged, and digested in your theological books and scholastic dissertations.  They want the Gospel that is the power of God unto Salvation. Raw power; raw truth.  And if they don’t see it in your church, is it a small wonder why they are not coming?

Proverbs tells us that he that winneth souls is wise.  This evening, over fifty people out here changed their eternal destination and escaped burning in Hell for Eternity.  I saw more wisdom in the simple zeal and faith of these people to go out and do this one thing than in all the sophisticated Bible College programs that our modern religions can muster. 

I’m sure the scribes will object, … but then, they always have, haven’t they?

 

“Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned?
It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out.
He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” 
(Luke 14:34-35)

 

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Herod Feared John

 “Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him…” Mk 6:20

 If you picked up a newspaper today and saw that John the Baptist was holding revival services at a local church, would you drop everything you’re doing to make it there?  How about Elijah?  or Peter?  Would it be because they are famous?  Or would it be because you would expect to hear a man speak with authority in God?

Souls are drawn to men of God who can stand up in the power and authority of God.  Revivals are poured out on anointed vessels to which people flock to hear the Word of God and see the amazing outpouring of the Holy Spirit work.  They came to Jesus to be healed, but stayed to listen because He spoke with authority.

We need that authority today.  Actually, we are desperate to see a man of God stand up in that kind of power and authority.  We have a lot of nice preachers, but we don’t have anyone like John the Baptist, Elijah, or Paul.  Why is that?

Search the Scriptures and you will find that the kind of power and authority we are referring to only comes the hard way.  We all read and pray, but how many of us STORM the Throne?  We all fast, but how many of us crucify our flesh?  These things lift us up to a higher plateau in God, but the real holy boldness, the real strength and power in God, and the genuine authority in God only comes through the fear of the Lord.  That is what gives a man strong confidence, makes his face to shine, and gives him that entrance into the presence of God’s power.  Moses’ knees smote together, David’s flesh trembled, the prophets spoke of Him being their dread, Paul feared and trembled.  It is the common attribute for every powerful man with authority in God.  And we need that today.

In the last 40 years or so, the message of the Fear of the Lord has been extracted from our pulpits and has been preached out of our hearts to the degree that most Christians don’t even believe it anymore.  They’ve been told that “Love” is the most important element.  Read carefully, my friend.  The Love of God is not possible without the Fear of the Lord.  Neither is wisdom, understanding, depth, nor power.  And we will not see revival or a strong move of God without it.

Lord, raise us up men and women who have the kind of power and authority in You that John had to usher in the greatest revival of all time.

 Brother Dale

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My Dad used to tell me, “Son, you never know what you can do until you try.”  I have found that to be true on so many levels, probably more than he ever intended.

I guess the lesson for me to consider is to ask myself, what is the worst thing that can happen? And then go ahead and jump off the edge of the cliff and trust God to catch me. Or I could just stand there looking down into chasm and never take a chance on doing anything.  If I have to choose, I will pick the first one. I figure that if you don’t take a step of faith, you will never go anywhere.

I realize that not everyone is as adventurous (or crazy) as I am.  Some folks do not put such a high value on breaking the constrictions of the mundane routine of life — and I concede that they very well may be right – but in the face of Eternity, I feel like I want to do something, anything, and I want to do it while I can.  Ecclesiastes 11:2 tells us to give while you can because you never know what is coming.  While there are other meanings that you can take from this verse, it speaks to me about sacrifice now, not later. Do something now before the opportunity passes.

Several years ago, the Lord gave me a vision for a certain pastor who was stuck on his ties to his denomination.  He was afraid to let go and step outside their constraints when the Lord was leading in a very different direction. Now, I’m not much for following rules, but I do realize that for many people, rules offer structure and strength.  Nevertheless, there comes a point where that structure can become constricting to the free flow of the Spirit of God.

The vision I saw was of an old-fashioned sailing ship tied up to a rickety old wharf. The ship looked like it was in grand shape, but the wharf was little more than a patched up bunch of old rotten boards jutting out into the water. It looked like it would fall apart at any moment. The ship was tethered to the wharf by some thick hawsers – big, fat ropes. I got the feeling that the ropes offered more of a feeling of security than the wharf ever could. The ship was safe in the harbor and tied securely to the dock. What could go wrong?  But if that pastor did not cut the ropes and spread his sails, he would never go anywhere in the Lord.

Sure, it can be dangerous past the mouth of the harbor. There are pirates and storms, hurricanes, whirlpools and all sorts of dangers waiting out there … but there are also great adventures in the Lord and places that you’ve never been to just waiting for you to trust the Lord, cut the ropes and let the Holy Spirit fill your sails.

You never know what you can do until you try. That’s true, Dad. But many never try.

When we all stand before the Judgment Bar of God to give account for our lives, will it be said of you that, like Peter, at least you got out of the boat and got your feet wet?  Or were you content to sit on the sidelines and watch others carry the ball?  And let me say that it is not the guy who is doing the preaching that is doing the work and fighting the battle – it’s the one on their knees in their Prayer Closet.  There is no victory in the pulpit until the battle has been fought and won in the prayer room … and we are all called to pray.

I have seen many friends get sick and die in the last several years. In many of those cases, they had slacked off in serving the Lord, content to cruise along at church. Many of them would not go to church because they felt church was dead but offered no alternative in their response or service. And then all of a sudden, they were dying. Certainly, as many have told me, it was a wake-up call for them, but too late for them to do anything about it.  Thank God for His enduring mercy in snapping them out of their slumber, but Lord, let me do something for you now while I can. I want no regrets, no do-overs, no “wish-I-would-have’s”. I may not be able to do what we perceive as great and mighty works in God, but allow me, like the woman who washed your feet, to do what I can while I can.

Woe to them that are at ease in Zion …
but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.“
(Amo 6:1-6)

 

 

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