Archive for January, 2015

“Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?”  Acts 11:17

God is full of surprises.

No sooner do you have everything figured out, and He goes and does something different.  It really keeps you on your toes.  It also keeps you humble.

Peter had a lot of surprises that day, and it turned upside-down a lot of what he and the other Apostles thought was pretty standard doctrine.  Here God not only had turned to the Gentiles, but He baptized them in the Holy Ghost before they ever made it to the water!  John’s baptism was officially over.

Thank God that, instead of resisting the Holy Spirit, like we see so much of today in our plethora of doctrinal debates, the Apostles rejoiced in this new move of God.

Actually, it wasn’t really new.  God was still the same – they just didn’t see it coming.   It was all written in God’s Word long before any of these guys were born.  You see, God reveals His Plan in His own time, and you never know when He will step into a whole new thing that you weren’t expecting.  Better to just shut up and let God do the driving.

In these times when the Last Days excites the religious imagination, we see a lot of would-be prophets running around trying to figure out the Word of God.  Carnal attempts to analyze the spiritual, however, are like using a Ouija Board to find directions to New York City.  There’s just some things that you have to trust God to take care of.  You have to be led by the Spirit of God to get there.  Try anything else, and you’re bound to get lost and end up in Podunk, Mississippi.

But we never stop trying, do we?  And in our attempt to make ourselves theologically correct, we find ourselves stuck on one idea or another, and we will fight to the bitter end to defend them lest we be found to be wrong.  The truth is, our little pea brains understand so little that we often miss the whole point.

Why not just let God reveal it to you?

I have found over the past 45 years that, the more I learn, the less I really understand.  There is so much more to God’s Truth than I ever imagined possible when I first got saved.  And I haven’t made to Heaven yet!  Wow, who knows what surprises are in store for us then?

So while many others are scurrying around squabbling over points of doctrine and sequence of end-time events, I’ll just stick to the basics.  You can’t go wrong with the basics.

When the rest of you guys figure it all out, send me a Postcard.  I’ll be out fishing somewhere.

 “Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifeth”

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Once upon a time, there were three little pigs.  They were all brothers, but were very different from one another.

There was also a big, bad wolf, but nobody paid him much attention because, although he was very dangerous, he wasn’t seen very much.  There were plenty of signs that he was around, but he rarely came out into the open.

Life was good.  The sun was shining, the fields were warm, and it was summer – time to have fun.  The first little pig loved to play in the fields.  It made all the sense in the world to him to live for today and enjoy life while it was summer.  He would worry about tomorrow when tomorrow came.  So he built himself a house of straw.  It was easy to make and didn’t take much effort.  That gave him more time to have fun.

His older brother also loved to have fun, but knew that he needed a better place to lodge in than just some flimsy straw.  He took pride in the fact that he actually put forth some effort to build a house of sticks.  It was a form of a house, but it didn’t take that much more time to build. At least, he felt he had a better place of safety than straw – and it still gave him plenty of time to enjoy life.  He knew there was a big, bad wolf out there, but didn’t feel too threatened by him because the wolf had never really caused him any trouble.  As a matter of fact, sometimes the wolf could be seen smiling at him.  Maybe he wasn’t that bad of a wolf after all.  So a house of sticks would probably be sufficient.  After all, work wasn’t his prime objective.  He could do just enough to get by and he would be OK.

The oldest little pig had a different view of life.  He knew that old wolf was just biding his time and lulling his other brothers into a false sense of security.  He knew that half-hearted efforts of straw and sticks would not protect them from the wolf, but his brothers would not listen to him.  They thought he was just over-reacting and was missing out on all the fun and blessings that the world had to offer.  So this little pig spent all summer building a house of bricks – precept upon precept, line upon line, brick upon brick – while his brothers played, had fun, and got fat in the summer sun.

Then came that day… you know the rest of the story.  Only one pig survived.

I think by now you’ve picked up on the obvious analogy.  We are in a time of relative “peace and safety” and many Christians are relaxing in the summer sun.  Life is good, and we spend a lot of time singing songs and watching “Praise the Lord” television shows and listening to “feel good” ministries, but we are only getting fattened up in relative spiritual ease while the real Big Bad Wolf is biding his time.

Safety won’t be found in a “name-only” Christianity of straw.  Neither will half-hearted efforts of sticks be sufficient to stand against what’s coming.  The warnings are there in the Word of God for all to see.  It may not be fun to spend your time building your house of safety while others proclaim the blessings and prosperity of the Lord, and it’s hard work laying all those bricks one at a time.  It may not even seem that it is really necessary to work that hard, but if you understand how diabolical Satan is, you will put forth the effort no matter what the cost.

If your Christianity is cheap and easy, you will find that the time will come when Satan huffs and puffs and blows your house down.  And where will you run to then?

“Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”  Ephesians 6:13

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“And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armor, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the Lord will work for us: for there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few.” (1Samuel 14:6)

I want to send out a praise report of some of the things that are going on in Liberia.

As some of you might know, I was there in August during the outbreak of the Ebola Crisis. I went in when everyone was rushing out (there were only 9 people on the airplane), and I had to cut my meetings short because my airline cancelled all it’s flights and I almost got stuck there. I almost felt that I was abandoning the mission after only 10 days, but unlike us, God doesn’t need much to do great things.

The messages I had brought and the books we passed out helped to open their eyes to what revival really was and what it really took to have one, but it was the overwhelming presence of the Spirit of God at those meetings that really lit their fire. They had touched the fire and they went out to turn Liberia upside down.

Several small meetings led to a call for a big meeting at the capital involving all the churches in Liberia. We in America have no idea how difficult such a meeting would be. Pastors from different denominations do not talk to each other, and they sure don’t go to the same place to worship together. To have all the different churches meld together in one desperate call for revival is nothing short of amazing. I am told that it was the book, Four Steps to Revival, which did it for them. That, and the desperation born out of this destructive pestilence they had just gone through.

On January 15th, they started 4 days of meetings. We printed another 2,000 books to hand out and sent out the invitations. And they came … and came.

And so did God.

I just got off the phone with one of the organizers. The first thing he told me about was the unity. Again and again, he brought up the unity of the churches that they had experienced. The Spirit of the Lord was so strong that, in his words, people who were lost in sorrow because of the loved ones they had just lost were able to laugh again. I had to pause for a moment to absorb that one. They could laugh again. Wow. What that must have been like!

As you can imagine, the meetings were great. About 40 souls were saved – you need to remember that this is not at some crusade for the lost, but a revival meeting amongst the churches and existing Christians. Among those 40 souls were 4 or 5 Muslims who gave their lives to Christ. And even some witchdoctors who had come in to cast spells against the meetings.

But the most powerful thing this pastor told me was encapsulated in just three words – “God was there”.

When I asked what was next, he didn’t reply with their plans for another meeting in March or how they are dividing up the rest of the country for revival. No, the next thing we need to do, he told me, was to stop and offer our prayer of thanks to God. Amen. A telling response from a true man of God.

What is the lesson from all this? What is it that grabs my heart so much? I went into a place where few were willing to go, when many people thought I was wrong or crazy for going. Some were even afraid to have me come back home. I was just one guy by myself, visiting a couple of small out-of-the-way churches with tiny congregations, and had to leave early before I could finish. I was a Jonathan who simply followed God’s command to go, with no preconceived expectations, no treasury of funds or support from outside organizations, and no agenda of my own. I simply followed God’s lead and did what He told me to do.

I scrambled up the rocks, but it is God who has begun to shake the earth.

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I am a great fan of the Sinners Prayer. I think it’s one of the coolest things in life.

What other simple set of words can change a person’s life so completely so immediately?

I’ve known people that have read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica but are still lost to confusion. I’ve encountered scores of PhD’s who are so educated that they can answer almost any question, and yet are still grasping for Truth. Multitudes of people immerse themselves in books and study until they’re squinting through glasses as thick as Coke bottles, but they still haven’t got a clue about Reality, Life, or Existence.

They chant, they study, they analyze, they strain their brains until their faces look like prunes, but it seems it only leads them in ever-circling paths that are never ending.

And what are they left with for all their trouble? Nothing but pride and confusion.

But here is this simple set of words fashioned as a sincere prayer of the heart that instantly answers the deepest questions of Life. The problem for these psuedo-theologians is that it’s just too simple.

Why is it that Truth, for so many people, has to be something hard and complicated, something mysterious that has to be figured out. They stumble over the simple truth as being too easy in their driven pursuit to gain knowledge. The answer is Pride – stupid, foolish pride.

Pride drives the wise into stupidity and vanity. All that effort, and they only end up as fools. But hey, at least they feel smart!

I get accosted on a regular basis because I have posted a simple Sinners Prayer on our website, www.revivalfire.org along with the reasons why I believe in it. That riles them to no end. They can’t accept something so simple to find the answers they are so desperately searching for. They want something that is more theologically complex.

They run on and on with pages of doctrinal theories, scriptural references, and seemingly intelligent conclusions to debunk the simplicity of getting saved. When they’re all done panting from working up a cerebral sweat with their mental gymnastics, they settle back with a satisfied smile on their faces as if they have just proven some difficult problem in Geometry. If what they are saying is right, however, then only smart people would go to Heaven, while the rest of us dumb clucks would have to burn in Hell.

My answer is short – I’m gonna go with what works.

I have actually seen literally tens of thousands of souls saved through the Sinners Prayer. I have watched their faces melt as the peace of God descended upon them and then beam as the Light of Jesus Christ began to shine out of their countenances. I have seen them stand up on their feet as a brand-new person proclaiming the praises of God with all their hearts.

I’ve seen more miracles at the altar of repentance than I have time or space to tell, the greatest of which being the remarkable, instant transformation of a lost soul crossing over from Death unto Life. Watching the overflooding exuberance of a newly born-again soul is overwhelming. Don’t try telling them that they must not be saved because they didn’t follow some complicated set of theological rules!

Now, I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I ain’t stupid either. I don’t care what someone’s idiotic objections may be – apparently the Almighty God doesn’t have any. He thinks it is good enough for Him to pour out His Spirit in a tangible presence so thick that it can be felt.

And you know what? If the Sinners Prayer is good enough for God, then it’s good enough for me.

‘Nuff said.

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“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, but sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;”  Hebrews 6:19

Well, one more year is gone, and we are standing at the starting gate looking down a new road.  What lies waiting down there for us?

Our gaze is always clouded by Time, and we can only see our next few steps clearly.  There are indications and sign posts that hint of the places we are heading to, but they lead in so many different ways that it is hard to know which path we’ll be led down.  But we have to start walking anyway.

There are a lot of paths that I would like to travel down this new year.  One of them would be to have is a place to gather young people so I could show them all the cool things I have learned in the Word of God over the years.  Yeah, I like that one, but that signpost is faded, and I’m not sure to which direction, if any, it is pointing.

I see some bright and flashy billboards advertising all the different directions to go to promote my business and make money, but they all have that garish Coney Island veneer to them and have somehow lost their appeal.

Some signs point one way and some point another; others are bright and clear but don’t point in any direction at all.

Then there is that one sign that doesn’t point at all, but beckons me to come and follow.  The writing on it is blurred and hazy, and I can’t see what is written, but it calls to me that this is the way to come.

What lies down that road, and where will it take me?  Is there something exciting waiting for me down there?  Are there some great open doors that will open to me? Or perhaps it will be just a continued walk of patience and faith through tribulation and hard times?

Wherever the path leads, am I willing to accept what He has in store for me, even if it is not what I wanted?

If there is anything that I would like to do, it would be to expose what lies beyond the veil to a world that only sees with their eyes.  The reality of Eternity lies just beyond our grasp when we look at the evidence around us, but fail to see the source.  Hearts are not changed by facts or fair speeches, by what we know or hope for, or by adherence to traditions.

Only when we pierce through that veil by faith and touch the heart of God will we be able to see the reality of Life clearly.

It is only then that the writing on that signpost can be seen clearly.

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Little Children

(I came across this column that I wrote over 10 years ago. It still grabbed my heart and I thought I’d pass it along.)

I prayed through my 9-year-old daughter yesterday.

Talk about a thrill! There is nothing like seeing a little girl’s heart open up wide with tears because she wants to be close to Jesus and walk hand-in-hand with Him.

I just gotta tell you how it happened. As we always do on Sunday morning, we were reading Bible – this time we were going through Psalm 147 a verse at a time. As she started asking questions, one right after the other, I could sense the Lord tugging on her little heart in a particular direction, so I just let it flow along, watching to see which direction the questions would take.

Her heart was emptying out on the table with things that must have been lying in there for a while. It is always amazing to me how the Lord deals with little children. You may think that they aren’t aware of a lot of deep spiritual issues, but never underestimate how much God loves these precious little souls. Some of her questions actually had me up against the ropes, but I answered them as honestly as I could, just as I would have explained them to an adult. (I just figured that if the Lord put the question in her heart, then He must have put the ability to understand the answer in there also.) She understood every one.

Little kids really love Jesus, not like you would love someone on earth, but with something very different and very special. She not only wanted to go to Heaven, she wanted that special relationship with God that can only be realized through Salvation.

She also understood the concept of Hell. Don’t let anyone tell you that they are too young to understand the severity of Judgment. They can understand it as well as anyone, probably better than most because they haven’t complicated it with psycho-theories and the intelligent complacencies and convenient rationalizations that we hear in church.

What about Grandpa and Nana? Will they go to Heaven too? Understanding how the promises of God work was simple once it was explained. I was amazed at her ability to grasp that, if we gave ourselves to serving the Lord, how He would work for us toward our family. It was simple stuff to a 9-year-old!

When she was ready, we prayed. At the end of the prayer, when I was praising and thanking the Lord, she went silent. Immediately, I started wondering if it had really worked.

Stupid me.

Her hands went up, almost to touch the sky, and you could feel the Spirit of the Lord floating down like fresh falling snow. I didn’t dare disturb her, even though I was dying to ask her, “Did you feel it? Did you feel the Spirit of God wash you clean? Did you touch the Throne of God?”

I just waited as the tears flowed, her hands went higher, and her little face lit up with the glory of God.

But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven”

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“And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.”

Luke 2:25,26

Thirty-three years later, old man Simeon was gone, and Mary was the sole survivor of all the witnesses of the birth of God’s Messiah. This great event of the birth of Christ was the advent of a plan that had its beginning before Creation, and that had been spoken of by the prophets and dreamed of by all Israel for thousands of years.

The Savior of the world had finally arrived, but who was there to witness this greatest of all events? Three wise men, a handful of shepherds (and maybe a drummer boy), an old woman prophetess, and Simeon. Besides Joseph and Mary, very few people knew what had just happened, and fewer still understood the magnitude of it.

As Simeon returned the baby back to Mary, he must have looked deeply in her eyes as he realized that she alone of all these witnesses would remain at the end. He and the prophetess Anna were old, the shepherds were scattered, and the wise men had returned to their homes. Even Joseph would be gone. Only Mary would be left.

Thirty-three years later, as she knelt at the foot of a cross on Golgotha and gazed up at her son, did her heart go back to those few precious moments so many years before when she held the promise of all mankind in her arms, and a cloud of witnesses surrounded her to testify that this indeed was the Son of God? Now they were all gone, and she alone was left as the sole witness that His was truly a virgin birth, that this really was God in Man who had come to save the world.

But now, he hung upon a rough wooden cross, rejected by the church, the government, and the people. Only a handful of outcasts clung to Him in the last dying moments, while all the crowds who had witnessed His mighty works had fled. How many who had once believed but had now become troubled with doubt, had turned away, leaving her to weep for Him on top of that lonely hill?

Did she ever complain? Did she ever once deny that His birth was truly the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit? Never. Her silence was her strongest witness, for she of all people knew who He really was and that the mission He came to accomplish could only end this way. He had come to die.

As we gather round the Christmas tree and recite to our children the meaning of Christmas, let us never forget the young Jewish girl who once held God’s gift to mankind in her arms and, through her suffering at the foot of the Cross, gave the world an enduring witness that truly He was the Son of God.

Thank God for His wonderful gift and the price that was paid to give it to us.

Brother Dale, dale@revivalfire.org

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