Archive for August, 2012

We spent three days at a church in Owa, an out-of-the-way place near the town of Agbor, Nigeria.  This church was one of those places that you find throughout Africa that has a walls and a roof but little else.  The pastor also runs a church in another town where I had ministered in a week or so before, and he had witnessed the excitement in those services. He was so excited that he had told everyone here to bring the sick, crippled, and lame to the services because I was going to heal everyone that came and would pour out blessings on the whole church.  (Sigh) Money and miracles.

While I am flattered by his exuberance, that is not what I have come to Nigeria to do. The Lord had told me concerning Nigeria, “No miracles. If you do the miracles, they will not hear the message.”  Revival is not something that drops out of the sky for free.  There is a price for revival that begins with broken-hearted repentance, and as long as we are focused on getting blessings and miracles, we will not hear the call to repent. It’s a matter of focus.  Either our hearts are focused on ourselves and what we can get from God for free, or it is broken over our departure from the call of God to give ourselves for others. It is the same old trick Satan has used for centuries to woo us away from true revival.

The first service was full of people from the surrounding area.  Their normal congregation usually numbers around a few dozen, but a hundred people or so had come to hear the white man from America bless them and bring them their miracle.  My opening declaration, however, was, “I am not here to do miracles!”  You could hear a collective sigh go through the room. This was not what they had come for.

As I launched into my opening message of how the Church had fallen and how the Spirit of God had disappeared from their once vibrant services, evidenced by a dearth of miracles and empty altar calls, you could feel a pregnant silence fill the church. The cold presence of stark reality has a sobering effect, and it is hard to argue with the truth when it is accompanied by the piercing conviction of the Holy Spirit.

They sat there staring at me with eyes wide open.  Few were moving and nobody was talking. But as the Spirit of God began to roll over the pulpit and settle on their hearts, you could feel their spirits begin to open up.  Gone were the clamors for superficial miracles as their hearts began to rise up and grasp an understanding of what revival really was and how far they had fallen from it.

When I had finished, the entire church rose up to answer the call for prayer. It was loud and strong, and when we were done, something deep had been accomplished in their hearts. They left with a miracle – not the one they had expected when they came, but one far greater. They had changed.

When we came for the next service, the place was packed.  This was no longer about miracles – this was about revival! Word had spread. This white man was not like the usual Americans who come with money and blessings. This was a call to the Church that resonated deep within their souls. This was what they were really hungry for – not the superficial call for blessings, but the call of the trumpet of God for revival.

The third service was so packed that there was no room to hold everyone. Over 400 people had shown up! You can just imagine the electricity in the air as the power of the Holy Spirit ran up and down the aisles! There was shouting and crying as God convicted, converted and healed the heart of this church. Revival was in the air!  The altar call was packed with souls who were ready to make a full and lasting commitment to answer the call of God. Even the security guards that were guarding the outside perimeter came in to get saved.

This is what I had come for – to ignite another church that had been lying beside the pool of Bethesda, making excuses of why they had laid there so long, but which was now ready to rise up and ring the bell of revival in the land. What they will do next and how they will take what was given them to spread the fire is up to them. That will be the true test. It is doubtful that I can return – there are just too many places to go and not enough time or money to revisit them – but something was ignited there. There will be others who will carry the torch and light the fires across that area. I will move on.

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“Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?”  (Jer 23:29)

Jeremiah despised false prophets, and chapter 23 is full of God’s fury against them. Verse 22 is declares God litmus test for the effectiveness of any prophet to be whether or not they had caused the people of God to repent.  Of course, that is exactly what false prophets do NOT do. Their job (or what they suppose their job is) is to sing sweet songs of peace and love – lullabies so to speak – to comfort the people of God with visions of good things and lull them to sleep.

Nowhere is this more prevalent than Nigeria. Walk down any city in Nigeria and you will be accosted with colorful posters and signs advertising meetings where you will receive showers of blessings, a celebration of miracles, and your personal night of deliverance and overflowing prosperity.  They are everywhere, plastered on walls, buses, and signs stuck in the ground like posters advertising the circus coming to town. And in a way, that’s exactly what it is – a circus of clowns, wild animals and exotic entertainment.

Money and miracles are the opiates of the Nigerian Church. And that is the message that their false prophets have brought. They know that the poor people of Nigeria are poor and desperate for a message of hope and deliverance so they are easy game for these charlatans.  But all it serves to accomplish is to redirect the people of God away from the altar of repentance and close the door to true revival.

Before you feel too smug, let me point out that they got it from us here in America.  Our vaunted self-appointed prophets have for too long pointed us toward a gospel of peace, love and prosperity creating “feel good ministries” on every corner.  And we, like those in Africa that we have affected, have lost that old-fashioned Gospel of power. It’s been so long since we have had ministers of fire that we don’t even know what we’re missing.

We know something is wrong, but we have forgotten what it was.

Wherever I ministered in Africa, I have brought a message of repentance showing through the Scriptures that the Church has entered a time of spiritual famine and what God requires for a true Holy Ghost revival.  It was not what they expected, neither was it what they wanted to hear … but they knew it was the truth. And they could feel the anointing of the Holy Ghost that filled the service with an electricity in the air.  Like the Israelites on top of Mt. Carmel, they saw the fire come down and felt the heat … it just wasn’t the message that they wanted to hear.

But there are those who remember. And there are those, like Gideon, who are hungry for something more in God.  Those are the ones who have picked up the torch to continue to spread the fire.

Satan is not happy. He fought us tooth and nail while we were there, and will continue to fight because he knows that as soon as the fire begins to spread, the clock starts ticking toward his final destruction.

It is like a great stone wall that we are hammering with a sledge hammer. We hammer and hammer until our arms feel like dropping off. It may not seem like we are getting anywhere for a long time, but eventually we will begin to see a crack in that wall.

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     It is Saturday morning and I am having a hard time getting out of bed.  I only happen to know it is Saturday by chance. I haven’t been able to tell what day it has been for a while. I’m at that point where everything is blurry.  Even my vision is starting to get foggy. I used to be able to do this for a couple of months before I wore out, but I guess this is what happens when you put an old man in a young man’s job. <grin>

     There is something about preaching under the anointing that drains you. It’s not a physical exhaustion as you would suppose, but something deep inside. This is not the type of preaching we see in America, which is usually little more than a glorified lecture with three bulleted points, a joke and a visual presentation on the screen overhead.  This pours out from the depth of your soul like a river rushing through you. Most of the time, I see nothing, I feel nothing, and rarely know what I am going to say next. It just flows. And when I am finished with the message, I usually feel like that river has flowed through me and left me drained.  I may not feel anything while I am up there behind the pulpit, but once I get down, I can feel the slump.  After 3 weeks of this every day, sometimes twice a day, it begins to take a toll.

     I was supposed to get a break in the middle of this campaign, but as usual, a pastor pleaded with us to minister at his church during that break. Actually, there were two pastors, but I just didn’t have enough steam to do them both. This always happens. There is an excitement that ignites during these services that is hard to explain, but once news of that excitement begins to spread, everybody wants us to bring it to their church also.  They are tired of “church as usual”; they want the excitement of true revival.

     I used to not believe that anything unusual really happened during our services. I thought they were just happy to have a white guy from America come and that their services were always that exciting.  I thought they just told me it was special because they were trying to make me feel good or something. But I have begun to realize that, no, something very special does happen here, and it is not the usual anointing that any of them are used to. I’m sure if you could hear some of the pastors in Africa who get this column, they would jump up to tell you that they have been trying to tell me that for years. Something very special is happening in Africa.

     I also believe that the African soul is more sensitive to the things of the Spirit than us in the West.  That works both ways. There are depths of spiritual darkness here that Americans would not believe, but would only write off as superstitious imaginations.  But there is also a spiritual clarity in their relationship with God that we don’t have either. It is not in a depth of theological knowledge, but in a sensitivity to the reality of God and His Spirit. They just feel things more deeply than we do.

     Preachers here sometimes take advantage of their emotional sensitivity by whipping them up into a frenzy sometimes in an effort to bring down the Spirit of God, but only succeeding in confusing the emotional with the spiritual, leaving them excited in the flesh but empty in the spirit. But when they experience the true anointing of the Holy Ghost and feel the uplifting touch of His wings on their souls, it lights up something deep inside them that they have been struggling to turn on for years. And they want more.

     I’ve been saying it for years – God is going to use Africa to light the fires of revival that will sweep around the world just before the Day of the Lord. It is not because of any depth they have in the Word of God but because of their deep spiritual hunger. They are like a field of dry grass, a field of wheat that is white and ready for the harvest. We in the West are not that desperate, nor will we be  until something terrible comes to yank our comfortable carpet out from under our feet. 

     But they are, and God hears the cries of the needy.

When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst,
I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. 
(Isa 41:17)

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I have often heard people talk about certain places being a “land of contrasts”. I suppose that would go for just about anywhere to some extent, and Nigeria is no exception. The biggest contrast that I have to face here is in the two different views of Christianity.
Somewhere along the line, Nigeria imported a gospel of prosperity from America. They got it from our rich televangelists and latched hold onto it with a death-grip. Because poverty is endemic here, this doctrine of free prosperity and cheap blessings is exactly what they want to hear. But it has not worked … and will not work. But as long as there is a crowd that is hungry, there will be con artists like wolves surrounding their prey that will feed them with what they want to hear.
There are those who know the truth, but you won’t find them in the big churches that boast of thousands of congregants. As is usual with God, you will find men and women of great substance and depth in the smaller churches that are found on the outskirts of the evangelical landscape. It is in these little places that I find the power of God released the most when I am holding services. It is the way God is and the way He does things. He uses the weak things of the world to confound the mighty.
The last two nights, I found myself in a church where this contrast was most evident. The pastor had told the people to expect miracles and healings from the white evangelist from America and that they should bring all the lame, the sick, the blind, and the crippled to the services. While it is true that I have seen every one of those afflictions healed at our services at one time or another, it is not what I have come here to do. I do not do miracles; I bring revival. I don’t preach prosperity; I preach repentance. If you want to have miracle services, go get someone else.
When I told them that, I could hear a deep, collective sigh go through the congregation. This was not what they wanted to hear.
The two principles of revival that I base my message on are at diametrical odds with this satanic gospel of prosperity. The first is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not about you. It is not you being blessed, getting rich, or about what you can get from God. It is not about you; it is about others. This is the secret of revival – turning the focus off you and putting it on lost souls. This is the central message of the Cross, the essence of the whole Gospel, the fulfillment of the two Great Commandments, and the very definition of Charity, without which you have nothing. Revival is not about “exciting services where everyone is dancing around feeling good. Revival is about winning the lost. That is the heartbeat of God. He sends revival so that the church can be a light to the world so that the souls that Jesus bled, suffered and gave His life for can come to a church that is on fire and flowing under the power of God and get saved.
But the doctrine of prosperity does the exact opposite – it puts the focus on ourselves with a “feel good” message that God loves us and wants us to be blessed. Sounds just like the serpent in the Garden of Eden. It is a satanic attempt to lure the people of God away from the altar of repentance, because Satan knows that no revival will come without repentance.
The other principle that I stand on is that there is a price to pay for everything in God. Nothing is free; not even Salvation. And the price for revival is high – higher than human flesh wants to pay. If you want revival, you will have to DO something. If you do nothing, nothing will happen.
But Satan has told the Church that they can sit out there in the congregation doing nothing but “Amening” the preacher and still expect God to have mercy on them. That is a lie. Mercy begets mercy, Lukewarm laziness and unconcern beget judgment. Just ask the servant who hid his lord’s talent in the ground. Judgment shall be without mercy on those who have shown no mercy. Those in the Church of Ephesus in Revelations 2 were full of labor and “church works”, but had left their first love and, as a result, stood in jeopardy of losing their souls. In the Parable of the Good Samaritan and the Judgment of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25, their damnation was not because of sin, false doctrine, or anything other than not having mercy on the lost.
Last night we had our 2nd service here and instead of moving on to other messages, I drilled them on this theme. They had come for miracles and blessings but they got a message about repentance and the true nature of revival. It was touch and go at first, but then you could feel the air snap, and it was as if the Spirit of God caught the place on fire. They got it! They really got it! And over 400 people raised their hands to God in commitment to this great cause that God has called them for.
The multitudes in Nigeria are hungry, but there are those who have rejected the Pied Piper call for blessings to answer the call of God for battle. It is to those warriors that I have been sent.
“Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand;” Joel 2:1

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    It is morning in Nigeria as we make our way through the early traffic. There is a pungent scent that is heavy in the air that is distinctly African. Hundreds of motorbikes swarm all around us, buzzing their tortuous way through the traffic like a swarm of bees. All the sounds of this awakening city add up to a feeling of ordered confusion. It almost makes you feel like you are lost in a forest of humanity and traffic, wending your way on a mission that has no clear path in front of you. You know where you are trying to go; you just don’t know how you are going to get there.
     Sometimes this mission I am on in Africa feels the same way. While there are things that I do know absolutely, there is so much that I do not understand and the way sometimes seems cluttered with traffic like this busy African city in the morning. I know I was sent with a message of revival. There are times when I wonder how I got here or why I was the one who was sent, but I do know I was sent here with a message and I know the message works.
     But when I look at the map, it is hard to suppress a sigh. Here I am, going to all these out-of-the-way places, some of which don’t even show on the map, to backwater cities and unknown villages, but the map is so huge! How will the little things that I am doing make any serious dent in this enormous continent?
    I wonder if that is how Paul felt when he launched off into the darkness of the Gentile world with a single companion. Walking into cities where he had never been to bring a message that no one had ever heard. He never once wavered. The experience on the road to Damascus was enough to light a fire in his soul that the uncertainties of a lost and idolatrous Gentile world could never extinguish.
    The Jews of Thessalonica cried that Paul and Silas had turned the world upside down in proclaiming that Jesus was king. Imagine that! Two men armed with a vision and an unshakeable faith in God – no phones, no TV, no newspapers, no cars, and no money – and the foundations of Hell were shaken to their very core. The forces of darkness were set against these two pioneers like a storm from Hell to keep them from fulfilling their call from God.

But even in the midst of Euroclydon, I can hear Paul declare, “I believe God”.

Brother Dale,    dale@revivalfire.org

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