Archive for October, 2014

How Great is God

I like praying at night.

When I stand out on my porch and look up at the heavens, it just seems like God is so much closer.  I know that isn’t really true, but it sure feels that way.  There’s no noise, no distractions, no lights – just me and God.  It’s not that He can hear me better with the lights turned down low, or that there’s a lot less things going on that He has to pay attention to.  I think it has more to do with me being able to hear my own heart.

Looking up into the night sky, you can see all these stars!  Zillions of them!  How come there are so many stars? And why is the Universe so big?  Is just for us?  It sure seems like God went to a whole lot of trouble just for decoration.

But then I remember the Psalm that says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork”.  He created them so we could see His glory.

Well, I’ll tell you, I, for one, am impressed.  That’s a lot of stars up there.  And to think God is bigger than all that.

I know from Physics that the energy released when you break chemical bonds is the same amount of energy it takes to put them together.   And if just splitting some of the atoms in a couple of rocks can blow up a whole city, think about how much power it took to create the Earth … and then look up at the sky.

When God says that He is All-Powerful, that just puts my little pea-brain into tilt.  I just can’t get a grip around that.  All Powerful.  Not this powerful, or that powerful – ALL Powerful.

How small is our faith!  Don’t we understand that He promises us that whatsoever we ask for in faith believing He will do for us?  Not only is it promise, but Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, died and shed blood to establish those promises.  Why is it we just can’t seem to get it?  If we did, we be standing out there with long grocery lists in our hand, rattling off everything we could think of.  But we don’t, do we?

Faith is a funny thing.  You can’t catch it in a bottle, you can’t put it in a box, you can’t study it in a textbook, and it’s not something you turn on like a light switch.  We have to seek for it with our hearts.  We have to pull ourselves out of the husk of this carnal flesh, and reach forth into the Spirit of God to grasp that substance of things hoped for.

The world does not understand that.  But our hearts do.  When we reach through that Door that He has provided for us and touch the hem of His garment, in our grasp we feel the evidence of things not seen.

How great is God!

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“In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: that we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.” Ephesians 1:11

I don’t believe in the doctrine of Predestination; I believe in the Plan of God.

I don’t believe that some of us were predestined to go to Heaven – no matter what we do. Neither do I believe that some of us were predestined to go to Hell – no matter what we do. If that was the case, then why did Jesus Christ die on the Cross? If there was not going to be any choice in the matter, then God could have just saved Himself a whole lot of trouble.

I do believe, however, that God sets in motion a predestined plan in every one of our lives. Before we are saved, the purpose of that plan is to bring us to Salvation; after we’re saved, it is to glorify God.

Every individual needs something different. Many need to see the love of Christ shine into the darkness of their lives to bring them to Salvation, while others need to see the stark reality of Judgment and Hell and realize that, if they don’t get right with God, they will be lost forever.   God maps out each of our lives to bring us to that point of decision. What we do after that point, of course, is entirely up to us.

There is another predestined Plan that is set in motion once we decide to serve the Lord. The purpose of our lives is no longer for us – now, it is that we should be to the praise of His glory, and through that, the winning of lost souls. Our lives take on a completely different focus, and God begins to map out a different path for us. And sometimes that path can be rough.

In order to prepare us for the purpose that God has predestined for our lives, He has to take us through valleys and mountaintops to stretch us and deepen us, break us down and build us up, humble our pride and lift our faith, show us our strength in Him and the weakness in ourselves. When He is done, we will be ready to fulfill the calling that we were born for – “meet for the Master’s use.” That’s the Plan.

If we yield to the leading of the Spirit of God, He can accomplish great things through us, but if we resist and lean to our own ways, He cannot use us. We are always left with that choice. The predestined Plan for our lives doesn’t change – only our decision to follow it.

God is the Grand Chess Master and we are merely pieces on the chessboard of Life. He knows what He is doing, plans each move, and places us in the position that He has predetermined for us. Everything that happens to us is for a reason. Nothing is haphazard. Some of us are Pawns, some Knights, some Bishops, and some Kings and Queens – and some of us don’t know what we are, but we know we are in a battle that is directed by the King.

You may be going through some difficult times, and you don’t understand why God is allowing this to happen to you. You may be heading down paths that seem to be leading nowhere and you wonder why God has left you to wander around in circles. Maybe you are itching to dive into battle, but God is making you wait. It may seem that everyone else is getting His attention, while you are left to sit unnoticed on the shelf. You may be praying your heart out, but you’re not getting any answers.

Maybe Life isn’t so good right now.  Trust God. He’s just working His Plan.

Brother Dale, www.Revivalfire.org

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He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.”  John 9:7

What a moment!  What an incredible moment!

Here this guy had been blind all his life, and Jesus had passed by and had changed his entire life in one moment.

Now, why did this guy let someone just come along and plaster spit and mud on his eyes and tell him to go wash in the Pool of Siloam?  He could have just been some would-be wanna-be who was promising all kinds of stuff that he couldn’t deliver on.  Hadn’t this guy had a tough enough time sitting on the side of road all his life begging for scraps to survive without being mocked on top of it?  He might have just blown off this Jesus, but he didn’t.

He had hope.

Hope is something that reaches out past all reason, past all common sense, past everything that the world would condemn us to, and reaches for that slender thread that tells you that there is something more to this life that what you see around you.  There has to be something more to life than this temporal existence.

You hope because you can feel it in your soul.

And then there’s that incredible moment when you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior – you wash and all of a sudden, you can see!  This man didn’t just come back – he came back seeing!

All the colors!  All the things that were just sounds before!  People’s faces!  Rocks and trees!  Oh, and look at the sky!  He didn’t just come back – he came back seeing!

The neighbors stood looking in amazement.  Was this the same guy?  Some said yes, but others said, “I don’t know.  He looks like him, but he ain’t the same beggar we used to know.  Something has changed about him!”

They didn’t get it, did they?  Nobody seemed to understand.  Even his parents were taken aback.  They were so afraid of getting kicked out of the church that they sidestepped the whole question.

But he didn’t care.  He was saved!  He could see!  He was alive for the very first time!  Really alive!  If others didn’t understand, it was only because they hadn’t tried.

But those who should have known couldn’t see what he saw, they couldn’t feel what he felt, and since he didn’t go to church, then they figured it must not be of God.

Why, herein is a marvelous thing that they couldn’t figure it out with their theological expertise, and yet he had been touched by the power of God.  But he didn’t have to figure it out – he could see! — And that’s all he needed to know.

If you have never experienced that incredible moment of Salvation, it may look so strange to you.  It doesn’t follow any set formula that you know about, and you can’t feel that Spirit, but if you have hope, if you just have hope, reach out anyway.

And when you do, you will touch the face of God, and you will see like you’ve never seen before.  The Spirit of Life will raise you up from death; it will open your eyes,

… and you will come seeing.

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God Loves Puppies

There is nothing that will soften your heart like a little puppy. If a little puppy can’t get you, you can’t get got.

It seems that the Lord is very much the same way. He tells us to become like little children or we will not inherit the kingdom of God — and woe unto you if you offend one His little ones! Little kids and widows have a special place in God’s heart.

How unlike us! The things that we esteem highly in our society have more to do with our strengths rather than our weaknesses. Achievements, success, and boldness in business and in our careers get the gold plaque and the award. Strong personalities prevail in all our human interactions, and those who dominate win the prize, while weaker personalities take a lower place in most of our estimations.

This is natural. Life is a competitive place no matter where you are. It is a struggle to survive, and Life isn’t always fair. But then, that’s the way Life is.

But God is mindful of the weak, the infirm, and those who can’t compete.

It doesn’t always seem that way, though, does it? Sometimes you wonder why Life is so tough, and why can’t you be like the other guy? Is God watching? And if He is, does He realize what you’re going through?

And there’s always that question in your heart, why me? Does God not like me as much as those who seem to have everything going for them? I know that God is supposed to be completely unbiased, but how come I got the fuzzy end of the lollipop?

Did it ever occur to you that it’s not about what you’ve got, but about what you do with it?

The bright, handsome, talented young man will never have to face the challenges that a retarded, sick or poor reject has before him. Everything comes easy to him, whereas life seems hard and cruel in comparison to the other. How will that play out when we stand in Judgment? Who overcame the greater challenges in life?

Maybe your weaknesses are your greatest strengths, and your trials are your greatest blessings. In the end, what will matter the most, and which will be the greater testimony?

Don’t worry if it seems like you’re always looking up at everyone else. Maybe that’s a good place to be. Let the titans battle it out for dominance. Look for that secret place of the Most High that is found only in humility and the fear of the Lord — like children and widows and puppies who desperately need Jesus Christ as their Savior. That’s the place where you will find Him.

And yes, God loves puppies.

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“But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law: for they are unprofitable and vain.” Titus 3:9

Ah, shucks, Lord. You’re takin’ all the fun out of it!

We just love to debate, don’t we? Swapping doctrinal points of view and arguing about who is right and who is wrong is one of the grand Olympic diversions of Christianity today.

We think everybody’s going to Heaven, but we’re the only ones that are actually right. How stupid is that?

But it is, in actuality, a sign of apostasy and spiritual pride. If we were really in the place we should be in God, we would be more concerned with lost souls, not theological scholasticism. Ah, but you see, that is the same mistake we have been making since the beginning of time. We like that feeling that we are the ones that are right, and we are willing to argue the point.

What for? Hardly anyone ever becomes convinced, and even if they do, aren’t we just making proselytes to strengthen our own feeling of correctness?

Haven’t we missed the point?

I like to say that most of the Protestant denominations out there were forged in the fires of revival. Their founders established their churches with blood, sweat, and tears – and that’s how it’s supposed to be. But there’s more to those three words than just a catchy saying.

All moves of God are started with a people that are more interested in God and the winning of lost souls than their own place in God. But you have to be part of something that is so real that you can feel the power of the Holy Ghost working in you and in your church. It has to be tangible; it has to be electrifying; you have to be able to feel it in the air. You have to know that you know that you know that it’s real!

And you have to be so sure that you are willing to shed blood, if need be, for the Gospel that you preach. That takes more than any theological doctrine can provide. There has to be power. You have to be able to touch the Throne of God and feel His Spirit. If you can’t, then you will only be venturing a good guess. It’s easy to say you believe in something – everybody does that. But it is altogether another thing to be willing to shed your own blood and die to defend it. Those warriors who fought to establish the Gospel had that. We don’t.

Sweat comes in the willingness to go out and work the harvest fields to capture lost souls before they end up in a burning Hell. That’s not easy, and without an overwhelming love for souls, you’ll run out of gas before you get out of the driveway. Most people I have talked to have never prayed anyone through. Man, if you’ve been going to church all your life and you can count the number of souls that have been saved without taking your shoes off, then brother, you ain’t on fire for God. You’re just marking time and wasting air.

How few have spent time on their knees laboring all night long in desperate tear-soaked prayer for God to bring a revival, much less fasting their guts out for a move of God? Let me tell you something, God counts tears. And He saves them up in vials that He keeps before His Throne of Mercy.

That’s what our forefathers had that brought down the fire of excitement in their churches, and established a foundation for the Kingdom of God on this earth. They thanked God for the hard times, the persecutions, and the battles they fought, because that’s what brings the desperation. And desperation brings revival.

Blood, sweat, and tears. It’s not cool, and it sure ain’t no fun, but it sure beats “Church as Usual”.

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Every good fisherman knows the value of patience.

You can buy the best pole and use the best bait; spend years finding the perfect spot; learn all the techniques that the Pros use; but if the fish ain’t biting, they ain’t biting! You just have to wait. When they’re ready, they’ll take the bait.

Being a witness for the Gospel is pretty much the same thing. If someone isn’t hungry, you can’t cram the Bread of Life down their throat. They’ll just spit it up. You can throw their soul in your zeal to get them saved. When they’re ready, they’ll take the bait, and not before.

Sometimes when the blinding realization of the Truth of the Gospel hits you, your zeal will make you want to burn up the streets and tell everybody to get saved. You want to just shake them and tell them, “Listen to me! It’s real! It’s real! It’s real! There’s a burning Hell beneath your feet, and a Kingdom of Heaven above!”

But they don’t all want to get saved, do they?

I once asked the Lord why that was. His answer to me was direct and to the point: “Some people care, and some people don’t. It’s as simple as that.”

I guess that’s pretty much the bottom line. I can’t make someone want to get saved and serve the Lord – only God can do that. My job is to pray.

Just like the fisherman who goes to great lengths to have good equipment and prepare himself, we enable ourselves to win souls by consuming God’s Word and diving into prayer so that we will be in the Spirit of the Lord when the time is right. The rest requires patience — patience and faith in God that He is in control, knows everybody’s situation, and is gauging their hearts.

And so we pray.

E.M. Bounds once said, “God will not do anything without prayer that He can do with prayer”. In other words, we tie the hands of God when we are silent for lost souls, but we open up the way for God to move in supernatural ways when we hammer away at the Throne of God in prayer.

Why then don’t we spend more time praying for God to save lost souls? It seems that no matter what church I attend, whenever they get together to pray, all they pray for is themselves. “Mary needs a job; Sally doesn’t feel good; I need money; Johnny needs a house; etc. etc.”

Meanwhile, our altars remain dormant, and people are dropping off into Hell every minute.

Look, I hope everyone feels better, gets that job, or whatever it is that they need, but do you think maybe we’re missing something?

Several years ago, when I had just started attending a local church, the Lord spoke to me after one of their “pity prayer sessions” and told me that I had to go tell that Pastor that if they didn’t start praying for lost souls, God would not answer their prayers for healing.

My immediate reaction was, “Lord, he’s not going to listen to me. He doesn’t even know who I am. You gotta make him come to me or I’m not going to tell him anything.”

Sure enough, before I could get out the door, here he comes rushing up the aisle to catch me before I left. Sheesch! There was nowhere to go, so I went ahead and told him. A lot of good it did – they’re still consumed with themselves, and their altar is still empty.

Patience, I’ve learned, is not just hanging around waiting for something to happen. It involves faith that, if you “continue in prayer, and watch therein with thanksgiving”, God will hear you, and answer you, and show you great and mighty things that you know not. And when He is ready to move you, you will be ready to be used.

Anything other than that is presumption – and presumption is a sin.

And so here we sit on the riverbank. I got my pole and fresh bait, I’ve found the best spot, and I’m all set – I’m just waiting for the right time.

Whoa! Hey, was that a bite?

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Biker Rally

I remember one year when I spent a weekend at a huge Biker Rally in Texas to sell our Cool Bandanas. There were so many people there (about 100,000) that they needed me to help out at the booth.  Needless to say, it was quite an experience.

As I watched the crowds go by all decked out in their Biker regalia, tattoos, studs, black leather, and biker skullcaps, it felt like I had gone back in time to the old Hippie days. There’s a certain fantasy to it all, much like the crowds that get dressed up for Renaissance Festivals, where you enter another world for just a weekend and become something other than your everyday life. I wondered how many put aside their biker garb on Monday and go back to their jobs as secretaries, lawyers, factory workers, and schoolteachers with none of their weekday business associates ever knowing the difference.  But just for a weekend, they let loose, became rebels without a cause, and lose themselves in the mystique of being a wild rebel biker.

Now you might think that a Biker Rally with all its reputation for being a wild hedonistic celebration for sin is not the place for a serious Christian – and to a certain extent you are right. But there I was, stuck for 3 days wondering why in the world I had agreed to go down there and get immersed in this all this.

And then I remembered Jonah.

True, I hadn’t come there to preach like Jonah did – I was there to sell Cool Bandanas — nevertheless I was there. And yet it struck me, what sins were these bikers committing that were not found in the more (shall we say) conventional levels of society? Perhaps it’s the fact that these people made no bones about their rebelliousness, but rather flaunted it that gave them their notoriety.

Let’s face it – sin is sin, regardless what clothes you put on it. The nominal church-goers that are comfortable with their lukewarm attendance on Sunday but who never take their Christianity to that deep level of a broken, crucified walk in God will wind up in the same Hell as the worst Biker out there. (Actually, they will wind up in a hotter place in Hell.)

As least the bikers weren’t hypocrites (except maybe on Monday).

I saw the same scenario in the 60’s. The hippies revolted against the rules set by society and flaunted their rebelliousness just like these bikers today, and yet, when they heard the Truth preached in the power of the Holy Ghost, they came to the altar of repentance by the thousands. But you see, that’s the trick – it’s got to be the real thing. A dead religion only attracts flies.

I still remember how the established churches rejected the hippies because they didn’t fit into their concept of how a Christian should look. I guess God wasn’t all that concerned about it because He sent down a great and mighty revival and an incredible outpouring of His Holy Spirit that you still can’t find in the established churches of today.

When religions settle themselves into a man-made set of traditional ways, they lose their focus of what is important to God. Pretty soon, instead of God, they’re making the rules to the exclusion of those who don’t fit into their way of thinking. And like modern-day Pharisees, they wonder why people like bikers and hippies reject their version of the Gospel.

On the other hand, if your church is truly on fire and the power of God is pouring out on your services, believe me, souls that are hungry for Truth will come. They don’t want some dead tradition – they want the real thing. Only the power of God will attract the lost, not the slick programs, modern music, lights or Hollywood fanfare. If nobody’s getting saved at your church everyday, maybe the problem is not with them, but with you. Like Jonah, you can miss out on an incredible opportunity to win souls because of stupid traditional ways of thinking.

God had mercy on Jonah; He might not have the same mercy on us.

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Another World

I had a wonderful experience this morning that I’d like to share with you. As we were reading Bible, my little girl asked about Noah. She remembered that last week we had read how Noah walked with God.

“How do you walk with God, Daddy? And how do you know when you are walking with Him?”

In the course of a careful explanation, we touched on the fact that there are two worlds – the world that we live in that we can see around us, and the spiritual world that we can’t see.

I explained to her how God is a Spirit, and that our souls will leave our bodies some day to be with God.

“You mean it’s like being in a car, but we’re not really the car, we’re just inside it?”

I watched as the idea of two distinct realities dawned across her face. Her eyes got as big as silver dollars as the stark realization hit her of the existence of another whole world in the Spirit.

So that’s where God is!

How easy it is for us to forget. Sometimes we get so wrapped us in our daily lives, that we lose that focus. But He is always there, isn’t He? And one of these days, the covering that is cast upon all people will be ripped away, and we will see Life as it really is – simply a test for entering into Eternity.

I want to be like Noah who not only believed in God, but walked everyday conscious of that fact that God was right by his side. What a confidence there is in walking with a Savior who is right there beside you, who hears your every prayer and watches your every step.

There is no valley, trial, or tribulation that you can’t go through when you know you are really walking with the Lord God Almighty. There is power to overcome all things, and you fear nothing when you fear God and place your trust in Him.

Ah, but how do you walk with God, Daddy? That’s the real question, isn’t it?

If you don’t know the answer, you need to make an altar before God and ask Jesus Christ to wash away all your sins in His blood, confess him as the Son of God who died and rose again that you might have Life, and ask him to save your soul. Only then will your eyes be opened and you will feel the Spirit of Life enter into you…and then you will know.

I know one little 9-year-old girl who will be spending the next few days pondering that whole concept,

… at least until next week when she has another question.

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Being Nice

“Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness unto all men.” Titus 3:1

(Sounds like good advice for our political candidates. I wonder if any of them have read this.)

Of all the commandments in the Bible, these have been some of the hardest for me to keep. The big sins that we all know about are obvious – don’t commit fornication, don’t get drunk, don’t lie, don’t steal, etc. It’s relatively easy to avoid them because they are so blatant.  If I want to shoot some Pool, I need to go to the Bowling Alley instead of a topless bar. If I want some trinket bad enough, go to work and pay for it instead of stealing it. If I am caught in a tough situation, better I should just shut up than lie my way out of it.

Okay. That seems simple enough. I can do that.

Then there’s all those commandments that we make up. And there’s a bunch of them.  Like, you have to go to church on Sunday and sit through some theological dissertation that is intellectually endowed, but spiritually lifeless. Somehow that misses the whole purpose of church. I want to go where the power of God is experienced, not just talked about.

Or, you can’t wear lipstick, or you can’t talk about religion, or you have to be nice, or you have to dress nice, or you can’t have long hair, or you can’t smoke a cigarette, and on and on.

Yeah, I can do all those things too. I don’t think they’re going to get me into Heaven, but that’s all right. It’s a lot easier to go along with a lot of this stuff just to avoid a hassle.

But where I really get stuck is on attitudes and social skills. It’s hard for me to keep my mouth shut sometimes when I see things that are just dead wrong — especially when it concerns people who are supposed to be in authority as leaders of the Church.

Is it speaking evil when you call a preacher to task for being lukewarm? Is it being a brawler when you confront the con artists on TV that make lying promises based on how much money they can suck out of poor unsuspecting Christians? Am I required to obey some supposed spiritual big shot when they are leading the people down a path that leads to Judgment just because they have a Ph.D.?

Does meekness mean being submissive to leaders who have no power in God and have lost their way? Am I just supposed to be nice?

Or when you listen to professing Christians who are generally too spiritually lazy to read and pray in any depth or passion but instead satisfy their spiritual standing by attending church and tossing a twenty dollar bill in the offering, but are highly offended if you tell them they are lukewarm.  I once was wrestling in prayer for the Church and American Christians in general when I cried out, “But Lord, they are really nice people!” (Like He doesn’t know what they are like).  The Lord stopped me cold and spoke to me, “I will spue the lukewarm out of my mouth … and you think they’re NICE?” No, they’re not nice; they are not cut to the heart for the lost, or as it says in Amos, “grieved for the affliction of Joseph”.  So why am I required to be nice to them?

I guess I’m just a very bad boy. But I take comfort in the fact that I’m in good company. The old prophets were the same way – in fact, they were worse. Even Jesus whipped them out of the Temple and called them some pretty nasty names. And don’t get Peter, Paul, and James started! They had a few choice words also.

I guess I’m just an old-fashioned, Holy Ghost Texas preacher with a New York attitude who doesn’t give a damn what they think. If they are a Jack of Spades, then they ain’t no Ace of Hearts.

I once asked the Lord it we could please tone my messages down a bit. “After all”, I explained, “I’m not making any friends here. In case you hadn’t noticed, God, these guys are not exactly asking me to go bowling with them on Fridays.”

You know what the answer was? “That is not your message, and they are not your people. Now, you tell them what I tell you to tell them … and you tell them I sent you!”

And He didn’t sound very nice when He told me that.

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