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Archive for August, 2015

“…Lord, and what shall this man do?” John 21:21

A little jealous there, Peter?  Just a little?  What does it matter where your brother John would go, what the Lord would have for him to do, or what kind of a price he would have to pay for the Kingdom of God’s sake?

Peter had just been given a commission and a glimpse at what he would go through.  What higher calling could there be than to feed the sheep of God?  What a tremendous responsibility had just been dropped on him!

Here they were, a dozen guys who had come out of nowhere, and it was given to them to carry the Gospel, the only Truth there is, to the rest of the entire world.  They had walked with the Master for a few short years, and the Lord had commissioned them to the greatest calling of all time.

“Feed my sheep”.  Wow.  From a dumb fisherman to this incredible responsibility.  But there is always a price to pay for that kind of calling, and Peter was told in no uncertain terms what that price would be like.  But what an honor to be chosen by God himself to shoulder this calling!

But, Lord, what about this guy over here?  Does he get to scoop up all the easy stuff and still get to be so close to you?  How does that work?  Surely, if I have to step up into this great commission and pay the price that will be required of me, then I must be called to a stronger, more powerful ministry than him.

Wrong, Peter.  First of all, you have no idea what price your brother John will have to pay.  You may find out that you got off easy in comparison to what John the Revelator would be called upon to suffer for the Kingdom of God.  You’ll be crusin’ in Heaven when he’s dropped off on an island of despair.

Second, what difference does it really make?  So what if you get the fuzzy end of the lollipop?  Does it really matter?  The ultimate object is not what your position in God is and how you rank in the army.  The ultimate objective is the salvation of those souls out there who do not know the Truth.

If you’re more concerned with what your place in God is, forget it.  You don’t have one.  But if you’re more concerned with others and what their place in God is, then don’t sweat it.  You’ve got one that is far greater than the one you were expecting – or even cared about.

It’s not about you – never was; never will be.  It’s about others.  Jesus Christ was Charity incarnate.  Charity, correctly defined, is the giving of oneself out of love, to see souls get saved.  Everything you do; everything you aspire to; all your efforts in this life should fit into that description.  If it does, then you won’t care what someone else’s walk in God is.

We are all pieces on God’s chessboard, and He is the Grand Chessmaster.  The object is to win the game.

“…and the greatest of these is charity.” 1 Corinthians 13

Brother Dale

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“Where’s the Beef?”  (old Wendy’s commercial)
We all want the same thing … well, pretty much all of us.  Everybody wants to go to Heaven and be right with God.  And the ones that don’t are just hoping that at least there is no Hell.  The problem is that we want to go on our terms.  That makes it a tricky issue.  Who’s to say which the right way is?

I have an answer for that.  It’s in 1st John.  We know we are in Him by the Spirit that He has given us.

You would think that would make it simple.  Either you got it or you don’t.  But now we have to debate over how you determine if you have the Spirit or not.  (Scheesh!  Does it ever end?)

To that, all I can say is that if you have to figure it out, you ain’t got it.

But there are those who think they feel the Spirit every time they feel a gust of wind, or get all worked up in when they’re singing in services.  I see them twirling around and bouncing up and down, and getting all happy.  Well, at least that’s better than handling snakes just to prove you’re in the Spirit.

But where’s the beef?

I believe that the Spirit of God responds in a very real way to worship.  But is that all there is?  When we go home after a rousing service, what happens then?  After the euphoria wears off, are we left in the same old flesh, just waiting for our next fix?  There has to be something more.

Real depth in God comes from elements that are not associated with singing and dancing.  It’s the more serious side of the Gospel that brings us to that secret place of the Most High that pulls us out of our flesh and into a deeper walk with God.  The suffering of the Cross is supposed to be manifest in our lives. (And please, I’m not talking about whipping yourself or anything weird like that.)

What about a crucified walk?  Or how about being grieved for lost souls?  Or allowing yourself to go through the fire, or letting God take you through valleys to strip away your flesh?

I could go on and on.  I know you’ve read about this stuff, but not many want to think about that side of the Gospel.  You see that’s the stuff that makes a real Christian — the walks in the valleys, not the experiences on the mountaintops.

To put it succinctly, we don’t want to face our own death.  And yet, that is exactly where the Lord wants to take us if we are ever going to have power in God. A friend once told me, “God isn’t trying to change you. He’s trying to kill you!” Amen. But that ol’ flesh just doesn’t want to die.

It takes serious depths in the Word of God and desperate prayer to bring us to the point where we are willing to allow God to break our hearts and strip us down.  Without that we are just like kindergarteners running around on the playground, having a good time, but not going anywhere.

Revivals are birthed in heartbreak and sacrifice — not the instant, cheap ‘n’ easy version that echoes the Lottery mentality of this generation.  There is a price for everything in God.

God is looking for those with a serious dedication to serve the Lord and stand against the powers of darkness.  That comes from a battle-hardened determination to overcome all things and carry the Cross.

It may not be as much fun as we’d like, but it is the path that leads to Calvary.

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“If thou wert pure and upright; surely now he would awake for thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous. Though thy beginning was small, yet they latter end should greatly increase.”   Bildad the Shuhite (Job 8:6)

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“…For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.” Paul, (Philippians 1:29)

There has been a shift in our view of the personality of God.  I noticed it taking hold of the evangelical church world about 30 years ago, and it has established itself more firmly ever since.

The old fashioned view of a God of judgment was mollified to one of a kinder, gentler God who was more attuned to a loving relationship with His children.  The old brush arbor revivalists were considered too hard in their outlook, mocked in Hollywood films, and brushed aside as narrow-minded zealots who did not understand the mercy of God.  We assumed that we had a better understanding of God because we are somehow more enlightened.

We shifted our focus to the blessings, the love and mercy, and the goodness of God.  Yes, judgment was still there, but was more relegated to the shadows off-stage than out in the spotlight.  The Fear of God, although undeniably written in the Word of God, was analytically digested and has been presented as being more by the precept of men (Isaiah 29) than the emotionally charged issue of actual dread and fear.  God is now our Daddy.

Because there was no momentous outpouring of the Holy Spirit in recent memory, we, like the Israelites of Sinai, felt that Moses had taken too long to come down from the mountain, so we’ve fashioned our own gods that have supposedly delivered us out of Egypt.

Seems to work pretty good.  It feels much better, and it is much more palatable than walking around under the cloud of intense holiness like our forefathers did.

After all, it makes much more sense to the carnal mind.  If you get saved, God will love you and pour out His unconditional Love all over you.  No more dark valleys to walk through, no more refining fire to strip away your flesh, and no more sufferings of the Cross to bear.

It made sense to Bildad the Shuhite.

But not to Paul.

We are inundated with an easy Gospel that promises a wonderful time in Jesus.  We proclaim that there will be a great revival soon, and we sing and dance to the rhythm of the message, but we have not considered the price.  Our pastors who have taken the pulpits in the last 20-some-odd years have regurgitated the message they heard in Bible College, and are not even aware that something is missing.  But hey, it sure feels good, doesn’t it?

So we continue to sing and dance, and line up for someone can touch us so we can fall down on the floor in euphoria, but we never notice our lack of depth and brokenness, nor do we consider that old crucified walk that our fathers have trod to establish the Church.

We want to touch the Cross; not bear it.

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Wisdom of Men

Lately, I’ve been breaking my own rules.

I’ve always said, “Stick to the basics. You can’t go wrong with the basics.” It seems God has a tendency to simplify things, while man always tries to complicate everything. God urges us to trust completely in Him and rest in Faith, while we set off to build a tower of Babel.

We want everything explained and figured out. I guess that makes us feel a bit more secure in our own knowledge and wisdom, and yet, the wisdom that God admonishes us to have is to simply fear God and keep His commandments. Unfortunately, that’s too simple for most of us.

The struggle is best seen in the doctrinal disputes over the timing of the Rapture, Eternal Security, the King James vs. the NIV, and even the very existence of the Trinity. We even want to know if God is a He or a She, or if David and Jonathan were homosexual lovers – and the quest for the Knowledge of Good and Evil goes on and on and on.

Is it any wonder that Jesus spoke in parables to confound the wise?

Few Christians question their core beliefs. Most believe what they have been taught to believe. Ask anyone why they believe in the Oneness doctrine, and they will most likely mumble some passage that someone told them. Question someone’s belief in Eternal Security and they will relate an anecdote they’ve been taught about giving gifts. Challenge someone’s belief in pre-tribulation rapture and they will point to some movie or a set of novels they have read.

Is that the point? Do we just believe what we’re told because it sounds good? Or do we go to the other extreme and become completely wrapped up in complicated analyzations to prove our presupposed beliefs?

I believe that sound doctrine is the bricks by which we build our house of safety to protect us from the winds of Satan. Each brick is important and needs to be straight, but it is only one brick in the wall. If enough bricks are out of place, the wall will collapse and Satan will blow the house down. Doctrine is important and demands our attention, but is that the main focus of our Salvation?

One of these modern theories has caught my attention lately, and I made the effort to research all the points made by each side of the argument. (I know, I know, I should be immune to this already, but hey, I was curious!) After pouring over reams of intelligent suppositions, arguments, counter-arguments, and the ramblings of theological gymnastics, one point became very clear to me – mankind is really stupid!

No matter how sophisticated we may be, let us never lose sight of the fact that God made us out of dirt – and that includes our brains.   Paul was as educated as anyone, and he said he knew nothing but Christ Jesus, and Him crucified. He came “not with the enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and power so that your faith would not rest in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”

The Bible tells us that the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Instead of wresting the scriptures to match what we want to believe, or swallowing whole what somebody else tells us because it sounds good, why not give it to God and let Him reveal His Truth to us in His time? That’s the difference between Faith and Presumption.

I can just picture the Lord sitting up there watching all this scrambling around and shaking His head in disbelief.

Want to know what God’s opinion is?

“He that winneth souls is wise.” (Proverbs 11:30)

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“Therefore the showers have been witholden, and there hath been no latter rain; and thou hadst a whore’s forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed.” Jer.3:3

The Bible is full of judgment.  We love to focus on the love of God and His mercies, but a much greater part of the Bible is about His wrath and His judgments against sin.

I noticed something else that doesn’t usually stick up in our social conscience:  almost all of those judgments were against people who thought they were right with God.

Why do we always think that it’s the other guys fault?  It’s always somebody else whose perspective is slanted, while we are the ones who see things correctly.

Oh sure, we wouldn’t claim out loud that we are always right or that we have a better viewpoint than everybody else, yet deep inside, either as individuals or as a society, we harbor those secret feelings that we have a hold on a corner of Truth that others do not share.

I have found this is true, not only in people as individuals, but in societies, in cultures, in nations, and in races.  It is a universal human attribute to want to be right.  Nobody wants to be wrong.

Here’s another thing that shocks me:  I have found it in religious denominations more than anywhere else.  There is no one more righteous than the self-righteous.

Now, I’m not promoting ecumenism.  Quite the contrary, I believe that there is one Truth, not 50,000 truths, and I believe God is a demanding God that requires us to follow that one Truth.  He left a blueprint in black and white for us to follow, and if He wrote it, I would imagine He expects us to read it.  It’s not all that hard to understand; you just have to pay attention.

The trick isn’t whether you know there is a God or not – the trick is in humbling yourself before Him in fear and trembling.  You see, when you really, I mean REALLY, fear God, you could care less what you are or who you are, what you think, or what anybody else thinks, for that matter.  You’re just scared to death that you will offend the Almighty God.  And that, the Bible says, is what makes you wise.

It also makes you right.

Isn’t it funny that, in order to obtain the one thing that we want so desperately, we have to relinquish our hold on it.  God is the one who gets the glory, not us, and He will not share it with another.

Give up your desire to always be the one that is right, and let God be the one in control. When you don’t, you are like a whore in the eyes of God because you refuse to admit you are wrong.  And who is guiltier of that than the religious denominations?

No wonder there has been no rain.

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I’m losing track of what day it is. Services have been great here in South Sudan, but I can’t seem to get a grip on which day I am where or how many places I’ve been to. I’m not sure if that’s just because of how intense things are or the fact that I have given these messages so many times that I’ve lost track. Or, maybe I’m just getting old.

The response from the different churches has been the same, though. They get so excited that they are spreading the word to other churches. One of the advantages of speaking to a small group is that the message becomes more personal and seems to go in deeper and have a greater effect.

Of course, the question is after the excitement has worn off if they will still take the message to the streets and carry the torch of revival. I’ve seen these grand extravaganzas out here with 100,000 people attending and with hundreds going down to the altar, and then the next day everything is back to normal. But with small audiences, the commitment becomes more real and more personal.

My message is different than what they preach in these big crusades. Where the purpose of evangelists is to get sinners to repent and change the way they are living, the purpose of a revivalist is to get the church to repent and change the way it does church. I guess they haven’t had any revivalists around here because I hear repeatedly that no one is out here preaching this message out here and they need it badly. They are begging for us to come back. The bishop over all the Foursquare Churches in Juba is willing to pay the airfare for Cindy and me if we will come back for a month. I just might do that. The excitement level is so high that the potential for something supernatural is immense.

The bishop explained something to me that gave me a very different perspective. He said this is not just about the Church. The continual warfare with its atrocities seems to be about tribal differences, but it is not. It is about a demonic attack to destroy Sudan as a Christian country. The churches have been powerless because all they have ever heard was the “love” gospel that is full of blessings and prosperity that God was supposed to shower upon them. Never had they been challenged like this before, and it was clear and evident that this was the answer then needed to shine a light in the encroaching darkness.

He was pretty serious. Actually, he was really serious. This wasn’t just a religious issue for him – it was about survival.

Sometimes you don’t know what you’re doing or what effect you will have on others around you. Sometimes, like me, you don’t even know what day it is. We answer the call that God has given each of us and cast our bread upon the waters. It is up to God to take it from there. How He works through us is a mystery, but that’s not our problem. Whether it is to affect our workplace, our school, our community, or maybe a nation that is under demonic oppression, it is not our place to figure out how He will use us. Our job is to answer the call, and He will take it from there.

“Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.” (Ecc 11:1)

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It’s been a tough three days.

Out here on the front lines, it is like entering into a war zone. You can go through periods of relative peace, but then the bullets start flying, the smoke of gunfire is all around you, and you’re blurred by the fog of war. It’s like trying to walk through water – you can feel it but you can’t see it – the spiritual darkness is like a heavy wet blanket smothering you. It comes in quietly so that you hardly notice it and are not able to recognize what it is. Sometimes it will get really intense before you can pull yourself out.

I do not want to glorify the devil here, but this is the kind of spiritual warfare that rages on the front lines of heavy evangelism. If you are not a threat, things will probably go smoothly for you and you will not really grasp what this is like, but if you are, you can expect all hell to break loose. True, not everything is the devil’s fault, but this is war out here and there are no rules of engagement.

We had some electrifying services last week here in South Sudan. Many pastors came to us saying that this is the message that Sudan is desperate for, that it is not like the message that the rest of the Americans bring, but this is the one that they needed to hear. I agree. It is simple and straight out of the Word of God. It has worked in every place that the people have worked it.

Unfortunately, as the excitement began to spread here, notice must have reached the bowels of Hell because out came the swarms, and the battle began in earnest.

Spiritual fire is invisible. Yes, there are the physical challenges you go through, and they can be difficult, but at least you can see them. Spiritual fire is what we call “head fire” – it all happens in your head. Satan is the prince of the air and he tries to slide into your thoughts as subtly as he can so that you won’t recognize him. Slowly, he increases the intensity until he has a fire raging inside you. When he has gotten that far, it takes a strong effort in prayer to root him out. And even then, he will leave a residue behind him.

Last week, I felt like I was in a hurricane. Or more like a boxing ring where I was getting hammered by a pro while swinging wildly without landing any punches. But then this morning, I broke out of it like a clear sunrise. Clear blue skies, bright sunshiny day. What happened? The people back home decided to pray.

Yeah, it’s just that simple. Do not underestimate the power of real prayer.

I have often said that the battle has to be fought and won in the prayer room before it can ever be won out on the front lines. The Word of God is our weapon and the promises of God are the horns of the altar, but prayer is our method of warfare because prayer moves God.

So why is it that we don’t pray more than we do? And when we do pray, why is there so little passion and desperation? Could it be that we don’t really believe that God will hear us and answer us? Perhaps our lack of holy boldness is a direct result of our lack of reading the Word of God.

A friend once asked me if I knew what true honor was. True honor, he said, was not about position or titles or respect. True honor was when God heard your prayers … and answered them. That, he said, was true honor.

I agree. God honored someone’s prayers and broke me out of that battle with a clear bright victory. I am now ready to run back into the fray and tear Satan’s guts out. We will win and we will have revival and we will set Africa on fire, not only because it is written, but because we have the courage to believe God and refuse to give in.

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