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Archive for November, 2015

“And I took my staff, even Beauty, and cut it asunder that I might break my covenant which I had made with all the people.”  (Zech. 11:10)

Of all things beautiful, nothing has any beauty other than what God has created in it. Flowers bloom in such incredibly gracious designs and gorgeous colors that it makes you wonder at the limitless imagination of the Creator. Sunrises and sunsets amaze us each and every time we see them, regardless of how many times we have viewed their display. How is our heart, mind and soul able to translate different wavelengths of light into that kind of a feeling?

And that’s just the beauty you can see visually. What about the beauty of music? The mathematical symmetry of vibrations set against an orchestra can send your soul soaring. Or the beauty of a loving touch. Or love itself, that emotion that has kept poets working for centuries trying to capture its essence with words.

Beauty is God-given, and as such can only be described in its own terms while it is expressed in so many ways. I imagine you might say that is it is the highest achievement of God’s creation – that, and the ability He has given us to be able to perceive it.

As God’s highest expression of love, Beauty took form of a Savior who came to earth solely for us. There was nothing here that He came to enjoy or experience other than this one purpose – to save us from sin. Paul said in 1Corinthians Chapter 13 that Charity does not seek her own, but bears all things and endures all things for others. Jesus was Charity incarnate, and He was broken for us.

When this grand scheme of things is over, we will look back on this life and finally realize how much God gave to call us unto Himself. His most wonderful creation, Beauty, was broken on the Cross so that we could have eternal redemption.

There is no greater love.

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“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us …”  (Eph. 3:20)

I went to go pray over a friend of mine who was in serious condition in the hospital. We had prayed for him a couple months ago when he was slipping over the edge into death, and the Lord answered mightily. I was on the phone with his wife as we were praying, and about 15 minutes into it, we both experienced the power of God come down in a finality that established the victory like slamming a standard into the middle of a battleground. It was done! God had answered!

Needless to say, the next morning, instead of dying as everyone expected, he immediately took a major turn toward life. Prayer had literally pulled him back from the dead.

Three months later, however, he was still in the hospital. It was up and down, back and forth. This week he is chipper and doing well; next week he is faltering. We had prayed him back from the dead, but now it was time to bring him back to life, real life.

I have seen just about every miracle healing I can think of from  blind, crippled, paralyzed, barren, broken bones, even one man who was virtually dead, but I still have no idea how it works. Or why.  I have listened to all the theological experts (who, by the way, rarely have done this themselves) explain how the whole process works, but I am still clueless. I can only step into the situation, lay hands and pray, and wait for God to do something miraculous.

And He does. Many times, an entire line of people who have come forward will get healed – every last one of them! But there are those times when you pray your guts out, and nothing happens. Burned into my memory is the picture of me in Africa holding a child that was brought to me with malaria. I prayed harder that morning than I had ever prayed, but, on the way to the hospital that afternoon, the baby died. You can’t question these things; you just keep going and keep doing. God is in charge.

In spite of all that I have seen, I am still intimidated and a little scared when I am asked to pray over someone. I don’t know how it works, I don’t always feel something when it does, and who am I anyway to drive my way into the Throne Room of God to demand this thing? This past weekend, however, the Lord was pressing me hard. Go and pray. Exercise your authority that I have placed upon you. Have the guts to believe Me and establish the promises that are planted in the Word of God.

Yikes! This has now taken a very different tack. This is no longer a mission of choice – this is a campaign of battle to establish the will of God. This is now a commission, not a request. The honor of God is on the table. He said it; we have done it; it is finished. Go!

And then the above scripture came to me. “Exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think…” I get that part. God is sovereign. Everybody knows that. What has that got to do with prayer?

Ah, the “rest of the story”, so to speak, is in the other part of the verse, “according to the power that worketh in us …”

All of a sudden, this is not a work of chance or wishful thinking. It is not about tossing out some anemic prayer requests and hope that it works. And if it doesn’t, oh well, it must not have been the will of God. No excuses, no backdoor exit, no nebulous theologies. NO MORE EXCUSES!

What did God say? Then have the courage to believe Him! As a friend once told me, “Act like you believe the Bible.” That’s it. It’s as simple as that. Just step off the edge of the cliff and let God catch you.

The catch in this, however, is predicated on that one little turn of a phrase, “the power that worketh in us.” This is not a free-for-all; there is a price to pay for the kind of power that God requires. This is not a matter of “works”; this is a matter of power. And we are required to do what it takes to get that power in God so that we can, in turn, exercise it so the world can see how great God is.

I have said before that your place in God is determined by your depth of prayer. The oil for your lamps is gotten on your knees before God in deep, broken subjection. The deeper your prayer, the deeper you go into His bleeding side. That “secret place in God” that David speaks about in Psalm 91 can only be found in a place that is nailed to the Cross.

The troubles and pain in the valleys, the sufferings of the Cross, the crucified walks, the brokenness and surrender all lead to a place in God that cannot be found in the mountaintop experiences and pleasant times that we celebrate in church. This is the price we pay for that deeper walk in God. Pain and sorrow open wounds that take us into a depth in God that laughter never will. It also brings us into a walk of righteousness because the closer we get to God, the more we approach His holiness and are finally able to understand the fear of the Lord. Righteousness establishes the promises of God, and a crucified walk that takes us into the sufferings of the Body of Christ brings us to that place of righteousness, not because pain cleanses us, but because it opens depths in our soul that brings us closer to God.

Walking in this kind of depth establishes a confidence of faith and power in you that you never had before. It exposes your understanding to realize that time and space are not real. They are unrealities that tie us to this world. Only when you understand that time and space are not real will you ever be able to believe God for the impossible.

Walking in the power of God blasts demons, breaks chains, destroys obstacles, and heals the sick. God has given you power to heal the sick – He didn’t ask you to ask Him to do it. He told you to do it. Now you understand; now you are empowered to exercise that which is “exceeding abundantly above all” because we have a power that works in us which has been forged in the fires off the altar of God – the same altar that accepted the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and that is covered with His blood.

That is where the power comes from – His blood on the altar of the suffering of the Cross.

But …  you have to go get it.

Are you wondering about why things are so weak? Are you, like Gideon in Judges Chapter 6 wondering about where the miracles are? Why are our altar calls so empty? Why are services more like a college lecture than a supernatural experience with God? Where is the power?

It starts on your knees … and goes down from there. Power in God only comes from a depth of prayer that is washed in the agony of His blood.
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Brother Dale

 

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I would just like to make a point that there some very real differences between Bible translations and that in some cases, these differences are something that we should at least be aware of.

There are different methods of translation as well as different source texts that different translations use. I don’t want to launch off into an intricate discussion of all the different variants, but let’s just say it seems that different perspectives reflect different approaches and attitudes toward God’s holy book.

There is a good example of these discrepancies that is brought up in Gary Zeolla’s book, “Differences Between Bible Versions.”

In 1Corinthians 7:1, Paul writes, “Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.” This is a good example of a verse that can dictate some very different behavior depending on how you look at it. What does Paul mean by, “it is good for a man not to touch a woman?”

Here are the responses from the different translations:

  • ESV: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.”
  • NIV: “It is good for a man not to marry.”
  • NIV footnote: “It is not to have sexual relations with a woman”
  • NLT (New Living Translation): “Yes, it is good to live a celibate life.”
  • NET (New English Translation): “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.”
  • God’s Word: “It’s good for men not to marry.”
  • HCSB (Holman Christian Standard): “It is good for a man not to have relations with a woman.”
  • CEV (Contemporary English Version): “You asked, ‘Is it best for people not to marry?’”
  • GNB (Good News): “ A man does well not to marry.
  • LB (Living Bible): “If you do not marry, it is good.”

Which of these is correct? Is Paul talking about sex, cohabitation, or merely holding hands? The actual literal words used is to “not physically touch.” That an unmarried man is “not to have sexual relations with a woman” is most definitely true, but does this only include intercourse? There are a lot of things an unmarried couple can do without “going all the way.” How you interpret this passage can have eternal consequences.

Personally, I believe this verse is Paul’s admonition to couples against becoming so intimate that it lights a sexual fire that will pull them deeper and deeper into sin. But that is not the point – the point is that this is not about interpretation. It is about translation! Anytime you add or detract from the original “God-breathed” words, you run the risk of incurring serious consequences.

In Revelations 22:18-19, God says that if you add to the words of this book, He will add to you the plagues that are written therein. (Have you ever read some of the curses written in Deuteronomy?) If you take away from the words of this book, He will take away your part in the Book of Life. Even worse.

My point is that there is a raging controversy over the validity of Bible translations. It is one thing to learn the facts and the issues that are at stake and make your choice based on what you believe to be the best resolution to the different arguments. It is an entirely different thing to ignore the whole issue because, for one reason or another, you don’t care.

You are what you eat. Choose wisely.

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“…And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn: and she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and laid her down.”  Ruth 3:7

What a picture of humility Ruth was! The Book of Ruth is the story of God’s dispensation to the Gentiles, and through them, of His overall plan of salvation.  Just as the Lord uses the image of a woman as His analogy for the Church, so we see in Ruth a picture of the perfect Christian church.

Here we see a Gentile who has left her people and her gods to follow her Jewish mother-in-law back into Israel.  Willing to work in the harvest fields, gleaning amongst the sheaves for souls, and asking nothing for herself in return, she presents to us a picture of purity, humility, and service.  But there is something here that goes beyond that.

Who cannot fall in love with this woman?   There is a beauty in her that comes through the pages, something beyond the actual text that gives you a feel for this woman’s heart and the purity of her soul.  She is not just the picture of a perfect woman; she shows the very essence of Christ in an image of the Christian church.

God loved Ruth so much that He did something for her that He had not done for anyone else. As a Moabite woman, Ruth’s seed was not allowed into the congregation of the Lord for ten generations (Deut. 23:3), but this woman captured God’s heart so much that He broke His own rules for her. Out of her seed in just a few generations came forth the greatest king that Israel would ever have, and later down the genealogical trail, God’s own Son. This is the same love that God extends to His Bride, the Church, for which Ruth is an analogy.

Here is a woman who was not only willing to give up her own personal life and was willing to serve in the harvest fields, but she also went so far as to lay her life down at the feet of her master.  She gave her all in unselfish service to the Lord.  She was “charity” incarnate – the giving of oneself, out of love, to the service of God and the winning of souls.

In laying her life down in perfect, selfless humility, she made possible the great redemptive Plan of God.  What a sense of great celebration we see as the story comes to an end!  As Naomi holds her grandson, we feel the wonderful resolution to all that this old Jewish woman has gone through, a harbinger of the final reconciliation of God’s chosen people.  God had brought Israel back to Himself through Ruth. Redemption, restoration, and rejoicing!  What a love story!

One day, the real story, of which Ruth was only a reflection, will finally play itself out in the Kingdom of Heaven.  Let us all strive to see in our own hearts and lives the innocent beauty of this young woman so that we also may be able to partake in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

 

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I received this email from an African evangelist:

“We are experiencing one problem, brother dale. Once we preach to people and take them to different churches, they come out saying that they do not feel like being there. We are even confused for pastors because they do not follow-up with these souls. We need your advice.  May God bless you.

My answer:

If I am hearing you correctly, you have the worldwide common problem of dead churches. Most of the active churches today were birthed in revival years ago. Revival is more of a revolution from the old dead religious orders than something that “revives” them. Once a body is dead, you cannot bring it back to life. The answer – God’s answer – is revival in a new movement of the Holy Spirit.

While you and your group of believers may be alive and in the Spirit, the churches that you’re trying to plug these new believers into are dead. That is a judgment call based on the results you have told me. Jesus told us in John 6 that it is God draws souls to repentance. (John 6:44) The Spirit of God is the active element in the winning of the lost. Therefore, if souls are not getting saved in your church, or in your case, once plugged in, they run out of there, then it is a simple step of logic to assume that the Spirit of God is not working there.

The solution? You have two that I can see:

1 – Take them to another church. You will have to pray, search, test the spirits, and find one. You will find plenty that sound good, look good, even smell good, but the depth and fire of any church is determined by their dedication to prayer and reading God’s Word. Hear me carefully – smiling faces do not necessarily indicate spiritual depth. Great music does not always mean true worship. Good intentions don’t always mean spiritual righteousness. What is the obvious presence of serious prayer in their church? Do they gather together as a church to cry out to God? The thermostat for any church is always the weekly prayer meeting. How many people show up, and do they pray with strong passion? Or is it a weak response to Holy Ghost conviction and a poor excuse for serious prayer? Just as your prayer life determines your place in God, so does a church’s corporate prayer life determine theirs.

You will find churches that do not even have a prayer room to speak of, whose Wednesday night prayer meetings have been cancelled for lack of interest, and yet they will consider themselves a “praying church” because, for 5 minutes during Sunday services, they pray for others. How can the Holy Spirit work without prayer? Avoid these places because, as you have seen, they will kill that brand-new excitement in these freshly born-again souls. Don’t look at appearances; look for substance. Look for the presence of the Spirit of God. If you can feel it, He is there; if you cannot, then look somewhere else.

2 – Start your own church. Many times in the past, the Lord would begin a new work because of these very same conditions. You’re winning souls but you have no place to safely put them. You can feel the responsibility that is upon you. Like the Good Samaritan who handed the wounded man to the innkeeper, you want to make sure that he is well taken care of. If you cannot find a place that is full of the same fire that birthed them into the Kingdom, then maybe you will have to start your own.

I understand well the difficulties that implies. Like you, I travel from one church to the next. Once a fire is started, I can only hope that the leadership will continue to fan the flames while I head to the next church. But you may be facing a little different situation than mine in that as an evangelist, you are preaching to and gathering new souls. They are now your responsibility to make sure they are taken care of. Maybe, just maybe, He is going to use you to start a new work where new souls can be raised up in the fear of the Lord, the depth of the Word of God, and the fire of the Holy Ghost.

It will be hard. So is everything we have to face in this battle for souls. But, if it is truly the will of God, then expect Him to present the solution, the means, and the opportunities.

The greatest problem we have in the Church today is our lack of desperation to seek the face of God. We just don’t need Him as much as we used to. Our blessings are killing us. As a result, our efforts to plumb spiritual depths are anemic. We hardly do any serious reading of God’s Word. Oh, we’ll read all these other books – Christian self-help manuals, opinions and personal revelations and advice, and carnally-based efforts at theology – but we won’t put forth a determined effort to get our answers from the depth of His Word. It’s like the children of Israel that sent Moses up into the mountain to meet God while they chose to stay at the foot of Mt. Sinai. We’ll pay someone else to do the work while we will wait for the next book to come out. It is a form of substitutionary faith.  We just aren’t hungry enough to be desperate for God, but that is what God wants before He will honor us with revival.

The other problem, very much like the above, is that we have come to rely upon theological scholasticism rather than spiritual edification and revelation. Our Bible colleges have pushed an agenda upon us that, first, you have go to college to preach the Gospel because you have to learn all this seemingly intelligent theological education in order to minister in the Spirit. What hogwash! Eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil does not give you wisdom – it only makes you desire it.  But to be carnally-minded is death. That process is fueled by pride, whereas to eat off the Tree of Life, you have to humble yourself and allow God to speak though you as a broken, totally surrendered vessel. What did God tell us? Fear God and keep His commandments for this is the whole duty of man. As for carnal theological efforts, He tells us that there is no end to the making of many books, and much study (carnal study) is a weariness of the flesh. Hmmm. Let’s see. Which tree should I eat from?

What about prayer? Without a desperate, consuming need, our passion will dissipate into a routine obedience. We no longer need God for our healings, our daily food, our finances, or well-being. No, we are like the Church of Laodicea – we have arrived and are comfortable. Our prayer life can now be relegated to a more mundane part of our lives. We spend a few minutes during our “quiet time with Jesus” in “conversational prayer”, thinking that somehow we have done our duty. But it is passion that pierces the heavens, not passiveness.  Desperation gets God’s attention, not polite manners. If you want it to rain, you have to pray like Elijah! You cannot approach the Throne of God in timidity and fearfulness and expect to get an answer from God. That only shows a lack of faith in the power of the blood of Jesus. Holy boldness, which is generated by righteousness and the fear of the Lord, is what breaks down every barrier to victory.  Our forefathers prayed with a passion and furor that clamored to the Throne of God and refused to back down until God answered. Today, people are afraid to pray like that. No wonder there is no stirring in our churches!

Am I exaggerating? If I am, then please explain to me where are the miracles, the altars packed with lost souls, the evidence of God’s power, and the manifest presence of the Holy Ghost? If all is so well with the church, then where is the revival?  Gideon had the same question, but at least he realized that the problem had been created when they had let the Amalekites take over their land. We, on the other hand have let the world into our church, but we celebrate it!

You are faced with a battle. Only God has the answer for you. Remember, these are His souls, not yours. He will provide, but you have to seek His face with all your heart to get the answer. It is your prime responsibility. If you won’t do it, who will?

Brother Dale

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The Precious Ointment

Judas was offended when the woman anointed Jesus with costly spikenard. True worship did not abide in Judas’ heart.  He looked at Jesus as a leader –even the greatest of leaders and the only hope Israel had for deliverance – but Jesus wasn’t the God of his heart.

Judas would have probably died for him, but it wouldn’t have been for a worship that had its roots in his heart.  It would have been for a carnal dedication that he had.  He would have surrendered his life, but not his soul.  Pure and holy worship could not have found fertile ground in his heart, for Judas’ only true god was himself.  Such worship, as to pour upon Jesus that precious ointment, without the least thought of its costliness was too much for him.  There was an wall around his heart that such worship could not penetrate.  He rebelled at the idea of giving up the sovereignty of his soul, and so, for thirty pieces of silver, he fell to eternal damnation.

So often it is with us.  To make Jesus the God of our heart is so often at the tip of our tongue, and we recite it as a schoolboy recites his lessons.  We walk with the Lord for years and know that He is God, but never really surrender the innermost parts of our hearts.

The children of Israel saw manna fall every morning of their lives, but did not eat it as food that had been handed to them from the very Throne of God.  Their lives were measured in carnal terms, and their worship of God was conducted as by the precepts of men.  Their humility was in reaction to the terrible judgments set before them, not as their father Abraham, who knew from his heart that he was, in reality, nothing but dust and ashes.

Our humility, our fear of God, our perspective of our own place in the universe, and our love and worship of God must come from the depths of our heart.  If we shut up our hearts and build a wall around it to reserve it for only ourselves; if we do not give it all up and surrender to God, then it becomes our tomb — lifeless, dead and cold as the grave.

Out of the heart of man come the issues of life. (Pro. 4:23) True worship is that total surrender of what we hold most dear – that sweet surrender of our heart and our soul, fearing God in all true humility and, through His power, keeping His commandments that we may be found of Him in true righteousness, having our armor on and our wedding garments spotless, that we may find a place at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

At that point, our lives become consecrated to Him.  We think, eat, and breathe with Him sitting always upon the Throne of our hearts.  He becomes our everything; our whole reason for existence, and without Him we would be nothing.  The Bible says to commit our works unto the Lord and our thoughts shall be established. (Prov. 16:3)  “Perfect peace has he whose mind is stayed upon the Lord.”  He becomes the Lord of our life, and nothing else matters.

If you have never had that life-giving experience and are wondering just what it is that can absorb someone so completely in the Lord, perhaps you are missing something in your life that is so powerful that you wold never be the same again.  Something that, in the depths of your soul, you have been searching for all your life.  So many of us have come from the depths of sin, not ever thinking that Jesus was the answer, but have found it at the foot of the Cross.  Maybe this is your chance to come out from under the curses of this life and try God.

“Forsake the foolish and live.” (Prov. 9:6)  There’s life in Jesus Christ.

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