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Archive for November, 2018

Here in the Congo, the older established churches have hung onto a form of legalistic practices that I believe are strangling the growth of the church and stand, maybe not as roadblocks, but certainly as obstacles in the path toward revival.  One of the most dangerous is the treatment of women.
Women here are treated as little more than servants, almost as sub-human to the dominance of the man. For instance, if a woman walks in front of some men, she must bow before them and stay bowed until she passes them. Where in God’s name did they get that idea from?
Another is the issues of being covered in the church. Because of the passages in 1st Corinthians 11 about the customs of being covered and the confusion between the two opposing cultures, the Greeks and the Jews, they have taken this to an extreme. If a woman does not have a hat, she will open up a handkerchief and lay it on top of her head. She is now covered by a rag that you blow your nose in, and that is supposed to ensure her righteousness.  It is astounding to me that they cannot perceive the absurdity of this custom.
There are several such issues, but there is one warning that looms over it all. It starts with the description of the image of God. Men like to point out that they are the image of God and women are taken from them. But are they? Isn’t God a trinity? The image of God, then, is of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  If we look at the Holy Spirit as the “maternal” side of God — and I am NOT saying God is a woman, but He is the Comforter, the reprover, and the One that Jesus said would be with the Church after He left to take care of us and guide us into all righteousness — then we can see this in a very different light. Man alone does not look like this image, neither does adding Jesus to the picture. It is only when we add the woman  do we see a match the the image of God.
Let me add to this revelation a severe warning. You can blaspheme the name of the Father and curse the name of the Son, but if you dare speak against the Holy Spirit you are inciting the fierce wrath of God such that He will throw you in Hell and never allow you to repent. That’s pretty serious, if you ask me. Is that how we treat our women? Perhaps we should match our response with God’s.

“And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.”  Mark 7:9

Brother Dale

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Shifting Ground

It’s been a few days since we had the 3-day seminar, and there is a certain level of expectation in many of the churches here that revival could really come to Bukavu. There has been so much pain and suffering here that has largely gone on unnoticed by the outside world, that many feel they have been ignored. I heard someone say that the only white people who come here are UN soldiers and a few aid workers.

Not even missionaries and evangelists? I guess not many. I haven’t seen any. They all go to places like Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda because it is safe there and they have a fairly good infrastructure. But here in the grit and mud of a land tortured by lawlesness and desperate poverty, it becomes much more difficult. But in Luke 14:13, that is precisely where Jesus sends us. And of course, that is where you see great things happen.

I preached at one church which seemed like it was more enamoured with praise, worship, singing and dancing than the seriousness of entering into a crucified walk of sacrifice to win souls. I almost can’t blame them. Life is hard here in the Congo … real hard. Americans have no idea what it’s like here in the private lives of these people. To come to church for two or three hours of singing and dancing (yes, that‘s two or three hours before the preaching!) must be such an incredible relief to them. I get it. I really do. But the principles of revival remain in place and will not change.

But then, they brought me to another church for a one-time service and it was a completely different experience. I couldn’t preach it hard enough. (And I can preach it pretty hard.) They understood the vital importance of what winning souls meant to ushering in a revival. They knew the price because they were already doing it. The pastor told me that just a week or so, the Lord had revealed this same message to him about the utter importance of winning souls. He knew that any move of God was predicated upon their obedience to His Great Commission to go out to the streets and bring in the lost, and that revival will not come without it. You can imagine their excitement when they heard me bring the same message.

Are these two churches in contrast? Maybe. But maybe not. I can feel the movement down deep in the ground as God is turning His people back to Him. There is a feeling of flux within the foundations of these churches. They know they need more than “church as usual”, and their desperation drives them for more from God. They, of all people, know there is a price, but they need God more than any other people I have preached to, and I believe that’s what is driving them and is slowly shifting the ground under the church.

I have a couple more churches to go to before heading home. We’ll see how things develop as we bring this message of revival to them also.

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Listen to “Revival in the Congo” from Fire in the Hole on Anchor: https://anchor.fm/revivalfire/episodes/ep-e2jbgj/Revival-in-the-Congo-a6g4os

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Mud and Vision

A heavy blanket lies over the city of Bukavu.

I read that at one time this was a popular tourist attraction and thousands of people flocked here for vacation. That was some time ago. There isn’t a trace of that left today. Today, you have a depressed city, coated with a layer of mud, broken roads, and crumbling buildings, teeming with too many people crawling around a cacophony of confused traffic. Everyone seems to be pushing against each other to get where they are going. Joy is notably missing from the streets, and it’s absence filters into everything around it. This is a difficult place, and yet there is hope.

After our pastor’s conference, I was brought to one of the churches for 3 days of messages. The intensity of the praise and worship was more intense than anything I have seen in a long time — and I have seen a lot of praise and worship across Africa the last 15 years. It was as if the joy that was suppressed on the outside had burst it’s bonds here in the church. The praises from 200 people packed into a small church at the top of their lungs was so loud that it actually shut my hearing off. That was the praising. Then came the dancing! The dancing that followed was so intense that I had to wonder if it was a a cultural holdover from pagan worship or just the intensity of a much needed release from the hard life outside. Whatever it was, they certainly made themselves heard in Heaven.

And then came my message of repentance.

Many have an idea in their head that revival is about wonderful times of worship when the Spirit comes down and overwhelms us and when the glory of God is so intense that you can see and feel the very air glisten from the Schekinah glory. We see it as a time of great rejoicing and glory. And it is. But revival is not about singing and dancing – it is about winning souls. That is why God sends revival to the Church – so that we will be a light to the world that the unsaved can see and know that there is power in the Blood of Jesus and life in the church. But that’s not what comes first.

No revival comes without repentance. None. Search history and you will see. Repentance, not only for our own secret sins and little gods, but also for the sins of our people, our country, and most especially, the Church. We have not fulfilled the one thing that Jesus asked us to do. We have been too focused on ourselves and what God can do for us. Instead of denying ourselves, picking up the Cross and following Jesus out to the streets to proclaim liberty to the Lost, we have settled into our complacency on our little wooden pews and plastic chairs, waiting for God to send us revival. And God tells us to be ashamed because we have let the harvest of souls perish (Joel 1:11).

All of a sudden, as soon as the message turned to repentance, this church quieted down into a muffled deadness. Everything was great while we talked about how wonderful everything was, but as soon as I turned to the subject of paying a price, of sacrifice and repentance, and the burden of the Cross, everything died.

My translator thinks otherwise. He thinks they just feel guilty. I hope so. That was the point.

But it may be that life is so hard for these people, that putting one more burden on them just snuffs the happiness out of them. And yet, no revival comes without repentance. The path to real joy and happiness goes through the Cross. Everything else is an artificial gospel that uses an cheap grace to lead the simple away from the Cross.

Tough message. And sometimes hard to receive. But the principles of revival do not change.

It is here that we need a vision. There has to be something to inspire the people. They have to believe in it, feel it, and clutch it tightly to their hearts to push through every obstacle, hardness and challenge that they will face in the pursuit of a true revival. This is war, and the spiritual battles leading to revival can be fierce.

I tell people that a true vision is not one that you can see with your eyes, but one that lies over the horizon that you can only see with your heart through faith. But you also have to be able to see the path that will take you there. No matter how steep or long the path, you have to see the way to get there, otherwise your vision becomes unobtainable and is nothing more than wishful thinking.

This is where we need anointed preachers who can plant that inspiration in our hearts and pull back the curtains so we can see the vision that is before us. We need men and women who have chosen a crucified walk so that they can bear the Anointing oil and touch a light to our souls. Then people will see past the mud, depression, and hardship to see the glory of God.

Lord, send them now and revive us again.

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Usually when they tell you 200 pastors will be there, you can expect half of them to actually show up. Not here. Pastor John kept reassuring me that they will all come. They had not only sent out invitations, but had followed up with phone calls and emails to make sure. I was beginning to believe Pastor John because of his almost childlike zeal and excitement, but I was still skeptical.

I have been to the Congo three times before and have found it to be different than the other African countries I have been to. It is difficult to describe exactly what it is different, but there is a certain dark feeling you get to this place as soon as you cross the border. Is it the mud that is everywhere? Or maybe the extreme poverty and feeling of hopelessness? Maybe it is that dead look that you see in the eyes of so many people. Have the years of warfare and horror killed their souls? There has been so much pain and sorrow here that too many of these people have that look about them. It’s as if they have died inside and a darkness has settled over their souls.

Whatever it is, you can feel it everywhere you go. This is a place of great darkness, and by contrast, a place of great challenge, hope, and promise. The Light we carry is greater than the Darkness that Satan has covered this land with. What is that saying? The greater the darkness, the brighter the light? That’s the Congo.

So coming to this conference, I really didn’t expect to see the entire 200 pastors. And I didn’t. I saw 300 or more. I know because we handed out 300 books, Four Steps to Revival, and we have to print another 100 copies to take care of everyone. Silly me. Did I not believe Pastor John when he kept telling me, “They are so thirsty!” Yes they are. Desperate is a better word.

Each service has been great. The place is packed and they are sitting on the edge of their chairs writing down everything I say. It doesn’t matter that they have a copy of the book. They don’t want to miss anything.

And they don’t. Throughout each meeting, they are with me every step of the way. And when it comes time to pray, oh brother, get out of the way! It is like setting off an explosion. And they keep praying! There is nothing fainthearted or quiet about the way they cry out to God from the depths of their hearts. These men and women are desperate.

I heard several times that the message I preach is not being preached in the churches today. They remember that it is the same message from many years ago when revival was moving across Africa in the 1970’s. They heard it 50 years ago, but no more. Now all they hear is about grace, blessings, and love. The message of repentance in the fear of the Lord, holiness, and a crucified walk in God has been missing. And as a result, the Church has lost her fire and power. They can see the difference. They wonder why we can’t.

It is an understatement to say they are excited. They can see the path to victory clearly. They are like the Israelites standing on the banks of Jordan smelling the fragrances of the fruit blossoms from over in the Promised Land. They can see it, they can smell it, and it is in their grasp. They just have to cross that river.

I believe we broke through some strong barriers and have inspired a cadre of warriors that will take the battle to the streets and hold up a burning torch for the Lord Jesus Christ. They know there is a price for revival. They also know that they will be persecuted for preaching this message of repentance. But they don’t care. They have waited for this for too long to stop now.

Revival is coming, and these are the guys who are going to usher it in.

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Evidence

“And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?

And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.” (Matthew 17:10-13)

They had just come down from the mountain – Peter, James, and John. They got to see what no one else had ever seen nor would see. They saw Jesus in His glory. Plus they saw Moses and Elijah! Are you kidding? They were there! They could have reached out and touched them!

Not only that, but the most unbelievable thing that could ever happen had just happened to them – they heard God the Father speak. And He spoke to them, directly, personally!

Who are you going to tell? Who is going to believe that God the Father actually spoke directly to you? The other disciples all believed in Jesus as the Christ, but c’mon Peter, aren’t you stretching things a little? Who do you guys think you are? Oh sure, you saw Moses and he was having a chat with Elijah. Uh-huh.

And forget about telling anyone on the outside. They’re having a tough enough time deciding whether or not Jesus is really the Messaiah that should come or just another crazy false prophet. The Lord knows they had enough of them, especially during that particular time. If they went out telling everyone what they had just seen, people would really think they were crazy.

So who do you tell? And yet, they knew that they had seen this incredible thing.

But now they are struggling with how to answer the Pharisees and the gain sayers, the doubting clergy who thought they knew so much more than these stupid, uneducated fishermen. The Scripture plainly says that the Messiah must be proceeded by Elias. It’s right there in Malachi. Look around you. Where’s Elijah? We don’t see anybody coming down riding his chariot of fire, and it’s sure not one of you guys. So where is he? And — the follow up to that — if there is no Elijah here, then Jesus cannot be the Christ.

And yet they knew. They saw with their own eyes. They heard the voice of God. But how do you answer this?

There are times when you don’t know what to say but you have that gut feeling, a confidence of faith, that you know that you know that it is true. You may not have the answer, and you have nothing to counter your critics with, but you know it is true.

Their will be times like that when you can feel Satan laughing in your face because it looks like you have lost the argument. But as they say, he who laughs last, laughs best of all. Hang onto the solid substance of faith that you have anchored in your heart and declare your faith, for you are NOT wrong, even though you may not know the answer. Declare your victory no matter what for we are saved by faith, not by sight!

Oh, and as for Elijah? That’s easy. It was John the Baptist. Any other questions?

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

Brother Dale

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