Archive for February, 2015

I read a Scripture yesterday that really stopped me cold.

I am always ready to talk about the Fear of God, and how the modern church has diluted it to a more socially correct definition of “respect”. The Fear of God is rarely preached today like it was generations ago, and as a result, our whole attitude toward Judgment has deteriorated. God, who was once the holy, awesome Almighty before whom we stood with fear and trembling, (or as the old prophet said, “let Him be your dread”) has now been relegated to a God of all-embracing Love who is our “Daddy” instead of our God.

I try to be quick to explain that God’s Love is contingent upon our walk in holiness. He loves those who keep His commandments – yes, He does — but He hates the workers of iniquity. (His words, not mine.) That’s not exactly “unconditional love”. Let’s face it, God is a Jew. He makes deals, and that is the deal.

Nevertheless, when I read in 2nd Corinthians how that they had received Titus, a minister of God, with fear and trembling, I had to pause. What a different picture than what we have today!

Imagine receiving one of our popular televangelists today with fear and trembling. Or consider listening with great trepidation to one of our many prosperity preachers who expand the concept of Love into an art form for tithing. Imagine yourself hanging fearfully on every word from your Pastor. It’s just not going to happen.

Why should we? Our Pastors are all nice guys, our prophets are wrapped in garments of peace and love, and our preachers entice us with soft, unchallenging messages. There’s no room for those old Holy Ghost messages of hellfire and brimstone anymore. They’re just old-fashioned, crotchety old men whose pants are on too tight, and they just don’t get it. We’re too sophisticated these days for any such a hard-edged Gospel as that. Today, it’s all about Love.

We are missing those men of God who had real authority – the kind of authority that you can feel way down in your bones – the kind of men that, when they walk in a room, you can feel the power of God upon them, that when they speak, everybody listens. What ever happened to those guys?

Well, we’ve dismissed them. We don’t like that uncomfortable feeling we get when we listen to them, and we really don’t want to give up our ideas of personal independence and submit to reproof with abject humility. Naw, we like those other guys that tell us smooth things, that prophesy unto us deceits. They have a Gospel that goes down a lot easier.

And yet, God expects his ministers to be a flame of fire. (shudder)

Remember when the woman who had the issue of blood was cleansed when she touched the hem of Jesus’ garment? She fell down with fear and trembling. Why was that? Because Jesus had that powerful authority in God. And how did Jesus get that authority? The Bible says he was heard in that He feared!

It is the fear of God that gives you authority and power in God to stand as a true minister with the supernatural presence of the Holy Spirit upon you. Without the fear of God, you can only get skin-deep. The fear of God is wisdom; it is strength; it is confidence; it is true happiness; and it gives you holy boldness.

When a minister of God stands with that kind of authority in God, you will feel that same fear and trembling that the Corinthians felt. There is a power in his words and an anointing in his presence that can be felt way down in your soul. It is not the man whom we fear, but the power of God that is upon him.

But our values have changed. Fear and Hell have become four-lettered words that we avoid like … well, … like what they are.

There just isn’t much of a market these days for ministers of fire, and, as they say, you get what you pay for.

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When I first got saved, it was like not knowing how to swim and being invited to a party where they had a swimming pool in the backyard. Once I had overcome my initial reluctance and dove into the water, I found out how wonderful it was.

As a young Christian with all my new friends, I had the time of my life playing and splashing in all that water. We had so much fun! There were some, I noticed, who watched but would not dive in. And there were others who would dip in and get wet, but would quickly get out of the pool, and, after they had dried off, would not go back in. I’ve always had a hard time understanding that.

As time has gone on, I’ve been invited to a lot of backyard parties. Some had swimming pools; some did not. Many of the pools that I saw didn’t have any water in them, or at the very best, didn’t have enough to dive into. I could never figure it out. If you go to the trouble of having a pool in your backyard, why you don’t you fill it up?

There is always a good excuse. Either it isn’t the season, or the cost of filling it up with water is too high. Sometimes they just didn’t know where the water spigot is or how to turn it on. There have even been some who had no idea that there was supposed to be water in the pool. I guess they must have figured that having a pool in their backyard was enough in itself.

I miss swimming in those deep pools. I’ve tried to explain to people what it was like, but, as they say in Texas, “it’s better felt, than telt”. If you’ve never experienced an all-out Holy Ghost revival, you just don’t know what you’re missing. And if you have, nothing else will do. (And by the way, having a lighted marquis out front and scheduling God to show up at 7 PM is not a revival.)

I watch our younger generation growing up without any idea of what it is like to dive into the waters of the Spirit of God. Oh sure, they’ve heard the stories, but it seems no one knows how to fill up the pool anymore. And those who do, have no desire to go through the effort.

So instead, they introduce videos, programs, seminars, and books to entertain their guests. Kinda like vicarious salvation — almost as good as the real thing. At least you get to watch it. That’s fun, isn’t it?

Is it a small wonder that we are losing our youth to the more exciting real-world temptations out there? This is the Coke generation – they want the real thing. When you don’t have it, they will look for it somewhere else.

Messages of peace, love and prosperity won’t turn on the faucet. Only the strength of righteousness can turn that handle, and that only comes from the Throne of God. You gotta go up there to get that strength. How do you get up there? Reading and prayer – STRONG reading and prayer.

Unfortunately, too many people don’t know how to pray at that depth anymore. And their reading consists of a few snacks from some “easy-reading” Bible mixed into a soup of TV, self-help books, and packaged programs at church.

Think I’m kidding? When’s the last time you gathered at church for an all night prayer meeting where you actually got up and stormed Heaven all night long, out loud and on fire, for God to send a revival? And kept on praying until you broke through to the Throne to get an answer? A real answer!

Yeah. That’s what I thought. Me neither.

How about reading? Does your Bible reading consist of devouring the Scriptures everyday, searching for and finding those golden nuggets? Are you watching daily at His gates, waiting at the posts of his doors? Or are you sending in your “love offering” for $29.95 to have somebody else do it so you can read their stupid book?

Revival does not come cheap. (Read Joel chapter 2). There are no shortcuts, and there is no easy way out. But the price of failure can be seen on the faces of our younger generation that have never seen what the power of God can really do.

The blame falls squarely on our Pastors. The Bible doesn’t say “woe to the congregation that scatters the pastors”. It says, “woe to the pastors that scatter the flocks.”

It is, after all, their backyard.

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Fire in the Hole

“And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.

And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.” Acts 16:22-25

How would you feel if you came into a strange city, excited with a new message of hope for the people there, but just as things are beginning to go well, everything goes wrong? You know that it is the Lord who has brought you here, and you’ve done exactly what He has told you to do, and yet it seems that, instead of leading to success, it has lead to disaster. What happened?

All of a sudden, the city has exploded, screaming and yelling all sorts of unfounded accusations against you, none of which are even remotely true. What on earth did you do that was so wrong? You simply shared the Gospel with some of the folks in town when this demon-possessed woman starts following you everywhere, mocking you and causing all kinds of trouble. So when your patience came to an end, you turned and pointed at her, casting out the devils that were in her.

And now all this trouble has fallen upon you, not because you were causing trouble, but merely because this woman’s masters weren’t able to make a buck from her fortune telling any more. Excuse me, but did it not occur to them that it was God that cast out that demon, and not Paul? Of course, I don’t suppose that matters much when there’s money on the line.

So here’s Paul and Silas, not only getting tossed in jail, but beaten to a bloody pulp. Then, to make things worse, they are thrown into the deepest, nastiest part of the dungeon with their feet clamped into wooden stocks.

Did they wonder why God allowed this to happen to them? After all, they had been following what God had told them to do. Was this the price for their obedience? Did God abandon them? Was He busy somewhere else and forgot that they were stuck in prison? Why did God allow this to happen to them?

It was midnight. It had been a long day for these men, and it promised to be a long night. They had no promise of tomorrow and no hope for deliverance. They weren’t just tired – they were wasted, beaten, and done in – but they didn’t surrender to the exhaustion of their flesh or the cloud of discouragement that Satan tried to blanket them with. No, they grabbed hold of victory by faith, and regardless of what the outcome would be, they lifted their voices to the Heavens and praised the living God.

Can you imagine how tough that must have been? How easy it would have been to succumb to their exhaustion and just roll over and go to sleep. Worry about it in the morning. But they didn’t. In the darkness of that dank cell, they held up a light; smothered by a cloud of despair, they held up hope; and in the face of all adversity, they claimed victory. They didn’t just pray – they sang! They sang!

And guess what? The prisoners heard them.

When I stop and think about that verse, “…and the prisoners heard them”, I am encouraged that God sees through all darkness, past the circumstances of our lives, and into the consequences of a faith that reaches far beyond ourselves and places our destiny firmly into the hands of an Almighty God who not only watches over us, but has given us the grace to allow Him to use us for His glory.

They sang … and the prisoners heard them. I wonder if I could have had that same faith to let the joy of the Holy Ghost flow through me to sing in such a time as that.

But they sang, and an earthquake shook the foundations of that prison and loosed the bands of every prisoner that heard them.

That kind of faith in times of severe adversity, to not only trust God for whatever He has for you, but to sing a song of victory so that all the world can hear that there is nothing that can shake your trust in God, is the kind of faith that makes the earth to shake, that opens prison doors, and that looses the bands of those who are imprisoned by sin.

Brother Dale

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