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Archive for December, 2015

It was 1969. The wind was blowing, the times were a-changing, and there was a psychedelic feel to everything from music and art to clothes and drugs. “Tune in, turn on, and drop out” was the cry, but underlying it all was an overwhelming desire to find Truth. We didn’t know what Truth was, but we felt that we’d know it when we found it.

I found it in a little hippie church just off Sunset Strip.

I had not believed in God since I was a kid, but there was such passion in the eyes of the kid who invited me to come hear “the Truth”, that I just had to see for myself what had turned this longhaired hippie on to Jesus.

I knew something was different as soon as I stepped into the sanctuary. I could feel a presence in the air. All of a sudden I knew. This was the real thing.

The Song Service was alive! I had never seen anything like it, but it was the preaching that struck deep in my soul and made me realize that this was the Truth I had been looking for. I was at the crossroads of my life, and I went down to the altar and chose God.

We didn’t have much. Basically, we had the clothes on our backs, we slept on the church floor at night, ate potato soup or whatever donation they could scrape up, and had no money to even buy a Coke, but it was the greatest time of my life! The Spirit of the Lord was there during the day and electrified the services every night, and that was good enough for us. We would just read our Bible, pray like crazy for revival, and then go out and witness our hearts out.

All we had to wear were old t-shirts and ragged jeans with patches covering the holes, usually accompanied by a rag around our head or something else outrageous. I guess we looked pretty scruffy and ragged to traditional church members. They didn’t like our long hair very much, either. Said it was unscriptural and that we weren’t really of the Lord.

I don’t guess God agreed with them because He kept sending more and more souls our way to get saved. Every night the altar would pack out with 40 to 50 souls getting saved. From priests to prostitutes, housewives to drug addicts, and even some movie stars, God would send a new crop of Truth seekers every night to get saved and filled with the Holy Ghost. Over the course of 10 years, close to 100,000 souls were saved.

In spite of the churches that looked down on us, there were some old folks who absolutely loved us. They were the old-fashioned Pentecostals that had been birthed out of the Azusa Street Revival there in L.A. They would come by and fuss over us, feed us, and give us clothes and anything else we needed. It must have looked really funny to see these old women with their grey Pentecostal buns and old calico dresses hanging out with us hippies. But they saw in us a resurgence of a move of the Holy Spirit like they had experienced 50 years prior. We weren’t dirty hippies to them. We were God’s army that He was raising up to bring the gospel to a world that had been given over to sin. They made us feel like we were special. And I guess we were.

I miss those days. I have been rich and poor, have been all over the world, and have preached in large churches and out in the bush, but I still remember those raw times when we had nothing but faith, a tattered Bible and a handful of ragged gospel tracts. The Spirit of God set us on fire and we spread that fire around the world.

We may have looked like dirty hippies to the world, but to God we looked like heroes. He took us from ashes and made us beauty unto Him.

“To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:3)

 

Brother Dale

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“And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. For she said,’ If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.’

And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.”  (Mark 5:25-29)

I feel like I have to share this story with you.  It happened 4 or 5 years ago out in western Uganda.

I was asked to minister at a place on top of a large hill where there used to be a church or some kind of meeting place. At the time, there was only an old empty shell of a building, so they set up some old tarps and brought up a bunch of benches for people to sit on.

Services were great. There was a presence of God throughout all three days. The singing was out of this world. I still remember Ruth, Pastor Noah’s sister, singing, “Be Thou Glorified” until the whole place was overwhelmed with the Spirit of God. You could hardly breathe.

How do you describe the presence of God? When the Anointing overflows you and you become lost in the Holy Spirit, how do you explain what that is like to a traditional “church” person? You can’t. You either got it or you don’t.

We were there for three days. I preached, Noah gave the altar calls, Ruth sang, Pastor Kibedi played the organ, and everybody worshipped.  It sounds fantastic to most of us in the U.S., but it was the routine rather than the exception for us. This is the way services had been for us across Kenya, Uganda, and several other countries. God didn’t follow us; we followed God.

On the second day, while I was getting ready for the second service for that day, a skinny, wrinkled little old woman came rushing up to me, squeezing me for all she was worth. I could barely breathe! She was jabbering away at a mile a minute, crying and squeezing me to death. As she was holding on to me, she pressed a thousand shilling note into my hand. A thousand shillings may not be much in U.S. money, but to these people it was a lot. Obviously, this was something good.

Finally, the translator was able to catch up with her and told me the story:

She was dying of a blood disease and had been sick for years. She was wasted away from this sickness and was almost gone. But as she was passing by this hill, the Lord spoke to her and told her that if she would just climb up to the top of this mountain and come to the services there, He would heal her.

As sick as she was, it must have been an extremely hard climb for her– she was so skinny and wrinkled that she couldn’t have weighed more than a hundred pounds – but she managed somehow. It must have been a mix of faith and desperation that drove her up that hill, much like that woman with the issue of blood pushing her way through the crowd to see Jesus. As this woman stepped in under that ragged old blue tarp we had set up, she stepped into a cloud of the Holy Ghost and was instantly, totally healed!

That’s why she was squeezing me so hard! God answered her desperate prayer through her act of desperate faith.

I don’t know if you have something that’s tearing you in pieces, weighing you down, and crushing your spirit and you feel like you will never be delivered. Maybe you’ve gone through your own twelve years of depression and it feels like you will never get healed, that God doesn’t care, and He doesn’t hear you.

Are there conditions? Is the grace of God dependent upon certain restrictions? Why does it work so freely here but not work at all over there? I don’t know. I have seen God do just about every miracle you can name, from the raising of the dead, restoring blind eyes, and healing the cripple and paralyzed, and yet I honestly have no idea how the providence of God works. I can make you no promises; I can only pray.

But I can tell you this, your healing, your deliverance, your miracle is only as far away as your faith can reach. He is there – listening, caring, and ever mindful. He may not answer how or when you want. It may take twelve years, or even a lifetime, or it may all happen in an instant.

Most often, after we have tried everything our way and have failed, we finally come to that place of surrender where it no longer matters. When we give up and die to ourselves so that whether we are delivered or not, we give it all to God. That is the place He was trying to bring us to all along.

It might be on the way to Jairus’ house so that others will have faith to watch a little girl get raised from the dead, or on the road to Damascus to convert a Pharisee into an Apostle of God. Whatever the purpose or the outcome, faith and desperation will always bring you into the plan of God.

It is there that deliverance is always found.

Brother Dale

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Bukavu. Sounds like a place out of a children’s fairy tale, but it is real enough. Carved out of volcanic rock, the city spills over steep hills and narrow inlets hugging around Lake Kivu like a child hugging its’ mothers leg. There are well over a million people here, scrabbling out a living on the busy, clamorous streets that are lined with kiosks, street vendors and stores that are little more than small caves in the long line of buildings. Bukavu is a riot of activity and squalor, but there seems to be a rhythm beneath the surface that keeps it humming. I enjoy the buzz of the constant activity even though it is coated in a ubiquitous layer of dirt. It almost feels like the streets are alive, like a beating pulse of the city.
Bukavu is on the other side of the lake from Goma and has a completely different feel to it. While it may be dirty and clamorous, it has none of the dingy feeling that made Goma so dismal. It should be a small wonder that the difference is reflected in the attitudes of the people here. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but services here seem to be much more vibrant and alive and the people much more responsive.
I preach a hard message, to be sure, but it is what is necessary to break the outer shell of “church as usual” that has encapsulated our churches. The vibrancy and fire they once had has turned to embers, some not even glowing. To break through that, there has to be repentance – not the superficial kind that keeps us sitting in our pews, but the heartbroken kind that forces us to our knees. To rip away the cloak of mediocrity takes a strong message. Every place I have been acknowledge the truth of the message I bring – it’s hard not to when the anointing of the Holy Spirit is flowing – but not every church takes the message to heart. Some will; some won’t. Here in Bukavu, they get it; I’m not so sure about Goma.

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I spent my first three days at a small church with a raucous crowd. They were alive and shouting! They were so thankful for the message that they kept calling the pastor into the night to tell him so. Will they go to the streets and start reaping the lost? I believe they will.
Now I am at another church with a large congregation and several satellite churches. There is a notable difference here that can be felt as soon as they start singing. The Spirit of God is flowing here; you can feel it sweep you away in praise as the music takes you from one song to the next. The Congolese can really sing!
The first night, I felt energized throughout the message and then called for prayer. And pray they did – loud and with passion for almost 30 minutes! They just couldn’t stop. During that prayer, some people actually received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost with tongues. Yesterday, it was the same, but this time after they prayed they wanted a healing line. The Spirit of God was moving and they wanted more.
There are times when you pray and not feel anything. You just sort of hope something happens. This wasn’t one of those times. I don’t know how it is for anyone else, but for me, when the oil is flowing it feels like a gentle flowing of thick oil. It’s hard to describe, but that’s what happened last night. I know at least one old lady who was crippled and could not walk without a walking stick, told me that she was now healed. I suspect I will hear more testimonies when I return tonight.
The Congo is a hard place. The suffering they have gone through is terrible, the conditions are stark, and life is hard. It’s not hard to see why so few evangelists, especially from the West, ever come here. But these are the kinds of places where the mercy of God really shines. I’m glad I’m here – I’ll be more than ready to leave when it’s time, but I’m glad I am here to take part in what God is doing here.

 

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The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.  (Isaiah 40:3)

If there is anything that is sure to give me the blahs, it is going to a church service that is boring. I have always believed that church was supposed to be exciting.  Maybe that’s just an old fashioned idea that went out with the Brush Arbor Revivals, but church without the Spirit of God burning in it just ain’t church to me.

When I come out of services, I want the message to have lit a fire in my soul that keeps burning, but sadly, too often our services are so dead that, five minutes after we’ve crossed the doorway, we have forgotten the message and are on our way to beat the other churches to the steakhouse.

Is it me?  Am I expecting too much?

Is it our pastors? Have they lost their fire?

Or is it our congregations? Perhaps our preachers have toned down their messages because the match that lights revival is that deep-seated, brokenhearted repentance — and that’s a match that is a bit too hot for many of our churches today.  Wet wood will not catch on fire no matter how many matches you strike.

If you want to start the fires of revival, you need dry tinder and someone to strike the match.  But today, even if John the Baptist were here, he would be hard pressed to find enough dry tinder to start a revival. Our wood is wet, and until it dries out, we will have the same ol’ boring church services that we have always been used to.

Isaiah’s prophet was crying out in the wilderness.  The wilderness is not a lush oasis with well-watered fields and thick vegetation; it is a dry and barren land.  It is the place where revivals start.  We have to be dry, dusty and parched, and dried out to where we are hungry … no, STARVING for a move of God, for the excitement of the Spirit of God in our church services, for the salvation of lost souls, and for a Holy Ghost revival.  Until then, we are just wet wood.

When your prayer meetings hold no attraction for the member of your church, when those who do come only offer lifeless “conversational prayers”, when your first response to any problem is to figure out a program or a solution to it instead of dropping to your knees in desperation, when you look to the doctors first and God later, or (how about this?) when you’re too embarrassed to have someone anoint you with oil and pray over you out in the lobby of the church, maybe, just maybe, your wood is too wet to burn.  Everybody says they believe in prayer. There’s just one problem – they just don’t pray!

Elijah walked across the lush, green valleys of Israel to tell the king that there would be no more rain.  It would take 3½ years to dry them out, but that is what it took to bring Israel to repentance.

John the Baptist, who had the spirit of Elijah, stood in the wilderness of Jordan and he also called Israel to repentance in preparation for the coming of the Messiah.  Although the churches rejected him like they rejected Jesus Christ later on, the common people heard him gladly and came in droves to be baptized for the remission of sins. It took 430 years from the last prophet to bring them to that point.

It will happen again.  The spirit of Elijah is scheduled to return just before the great and dreadful day of the Lord (Malachi 4:5).  It will be a voice crying out in the wilderness to forsake the green lush landscape of a sedate, comfortable church, and come to a place of thirst and desperate need.

Although the wet wood of our dead churches will reject any move of God that calls them away from the comfort of their religious oasis, the spirit of Elijah will stand in the wilderness calling to those who want the fire of God burning in them.

That is always where the Spirit of God burns brightest – in the wilderness.

Brother Dale

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“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:” (Isaiah 9:6)

It has been said that, if the three wise men at the Nativity had been three wise women, they would have asked directions, arrived on time, cleaned the stable, helped deliver the baby, and given practical gifts.

Of course, had it been one of us men, we would have probably booked a room in the King David Hotel, hired a doctor to be at the bedside, and ordered something for the baby and the mother off Amazon.com.

I reckon so.  But the Lord didn’t do it that way, did He?

Why did God decide to bring forth His Savior through common childbirth?  Why couldn’t He have just stood up in the sky and expose His Glory for all to see, and just tell us what to do?  That would have dissolved all doubts.  That’s how we would have done it, wouldn’t we?

When the Lord does something, He often moves in ways that the carnal mind would never have chosen.  We purchase programs with sets of instructions, plan out campaigns, take surveys, place ads, and pursue anything else that we think will bring about the desired responses.  Too often we end up with something that may look good, but which does not carry the same eternal weight that it would have had if we had allowed God to do it.

God, on the other hand, chooses foolish things to confound the wise.  He calls His prophets out of nowhere, raises up preachers with unpopular messages, and relies on the prayers of people simple enough to believe Him.  To bring about His purposes, He uses yielded vessels to carry out His work, not sophisticated intelligent men.

But if it’s going to work, it has to be God who does it.

Funny how He works in ways we would never have figured, but you know what?  He always gets incredible results.

He chose the most humble of births, and died the most desecrating of deaths so that we would have the opportunity to choose Him and walk in glory.

Unto us a child is born.  But who would have ever thought that He would have chosen a stable for his birth?  But the world has never forgotten it.

And 2,000 years later, wise men still seek Him.

 

Brother Dale

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“According to their pasture, so were they filled; they were filled, and their heart was exalted; therefore have they forgotten me.” (Hosea 13:6)

What ever happened to that Old Time Religion? The gospel I see preached in the churches today is not the same as the one that was preached 50 years ago. Something has changed, and there are fewer and fewer of us who recognize it.

I suppose that most of this new generation is glad that they are no longer part of what they may consider old, harsh, and strict. They lean away from what they consider as legalistic, judgmental, and binding. The fear of the Lord, although acknowledged in precept(as it says in Isaiah 29: 13), has been upgraded, so to speak, to a message of Grace. Righteousness and holiness are now considered as tenets of legalism and are spurned for a much gentler and kinder focus on a gospel of love.

Maybe God took some Anger Management classes and has now changed the way He looks at things.

I have noticed some other changes also:

Sunday services are now more like a college lecture, complete with bulleted point presentations and prepared quotations. Gone are the impromptu messages that have no other source but a pure leading of the Holy Ghost. (Are we still allowed to say “Ghost?”).

I have read of a famous preacher from back in those days who would stand silent behind the pulpit until the Holy Spirit fell down with the anointing. Try that nowadays and see how that goes over. Especially if that means services will eat into your time at the steak house.

Those old fashioned services were designed to change you so that you were not the same person that had walked in the door. Today, five minutes after you cross the threshold, you’ve forgotten what the message was about.

Back in those days, the whole church would gather together to pray down the Holy Ghost and would contend in prayer together until God moved. They didn’t quit until they got an answer. Today, we’re too polite to pray like that. I guess we don’t want to disturb God if He’s taking a nap.

I could go on, but you get the idea. If you’re old like me, you remember. If you’re part of this new generation of slicked down seminary-educated preachers, you probably just think you know better than us crotchety old folks. Good luck with that.

Our society has changed. I don’t know if our society changed our churches, or our churches changed our society, but they are most certainly linked together. If we want to return to a time of righteousness where God is once again sovereign in our country, we will have to change how we view the gospel and our walk with God.

And that starts with prayer.

old man praying

“Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken.

Therefore hear, ye nations, and know, O congregation, what is among them. Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it.” (Jer. 6:16-19)

 

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