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Archive for the ‘apostasy’ Category

Well, I am at the halfway point for this mission in Nigeria. One more week and a half of rice and chicken and I will be ready for a Big Mac … or two. Just about the time my body’s time schedule gets adjusted to Nigerian time, I will be back in the U.S. and have to do it all in reverse.

I have nothing supernatural to report today. No miracle healings, huge altar calls, or shattering breakthroughs. Each day another visit to another small church to deliver another message about revival. While I am not the jump-up-and-down excitable showman like some of these guys are here in Africa, I do catch their interest. For me, it’s not about how emotional a response I can get, but if they understand the message or not.

I believe they do, but they are often so easily swayed back to that excitable prosperity, riches-and-blessings-for-free message that so many of these false prophets here will feed them. The corruption in the Church here is beyond anything that I have seen anywhere else. They know intrinsically that it is wrong, but Oh my gosh, it feels so good! It will take a while to turn this ship around.

I think the thing that amazes me the most in this struggle for truth is that so many pastors, bishops and leaders all tell me the same thing – they recognize that what I am saying is the truth, and they have never heard anyone preach it. Huh?

Okay, I get that you recognize the truth of what I am saying because I’m just pulling it out of the Bible. There isn’t any analytical, theological, super-spiritual twist to my messages – just tell them the truth! They’ve read that book before, I’m sure. Maybe not a lot, but they have read it, so they must recognize the passages I’m pulling everything from. And their hearts are bearing witness to this message of righteousness, repentance and responsibility. They know I’m right.

But why have they not heard this before? Is it not a popular message like the ones that promise free riches and blessings?  Is there such a reluctance to tell people the truth that they would rather go along with a “feel good” ministry so that they can continue to get paid? Or has it been so long since old fashioned warriors like T.L. Osborne have preached this message here that they no longer know how to do it? Or is it simply about the stinking money?

I have heard of several instances where local pastors will harangue a host to force him to share the money they insist has been given him by their American guests, even to the point of threatening them with physical violence. I guess I am too big, ugly, and mean-looking for them to threaten me, so they come against my hosts. These are men of God?  The consuming lust of greed has taken such a hold of them that many not only cannot deliver themselves from its grasp, but are no longer able to even see how wicked they have become.

And every Sunday, they lead their congregations deeper into darkness.  So when a message of Light comes along, it is blinding.

It’s not that they haven’t heard it before — they know the truth; they’ve read the Bible; they’ve been told.

They’re just not listening.

“For everyone from the least even unto the greatest is given to covetousness, from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely. For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.” Jeremiah 8:10-11

Brother Dale
RevivalFire.org

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The air settles heavily on you like a moist blanket, weighing you down and tiring you out when you shouldn’t be tired at all. It’s no wonder this world travels at a much slower speed than America. There is a saying here, “There is no ‘hurry’ in Africa”, and I can see why. Hakuna Matata. How insane our high speed intensity must seem to them!

The heavy pace of two services a day like I did in Buchanan City is over. Tomorrow we hope to meet with the Vice President of Liberia and perhaps the Speaker of the House. Our hope of meeting the President seems slim, but we should be addressing their congress later on this week.

I’m not sure that it matters that much to me. After all, they are just people like anyone else, and as politicians, I would imagine they are more interested in what American money and resources I can bring to Liberia, rather than what they can do to help promote a Holy Ghost revival here. The goal for me would be rather to touch something in them personally that would spark a revival in their hearts.

The pastors that came to the Buchanan meetings are still energized. I heard one pastor excitedly relate how people were instantly healed, and another about the clear revelation of how to bring revival to their country. Unlike in other countries, they are taking action by establishing the Revivalfire Movement of Liberia organization. I suppose that makes me a bishop over 20+ churches here. Not what I was expecting, but in Africa, you gotta go with the flow. It’s too hot to do otherwise.

Liberia is the only other country besides the United States that has been founded on the Gospel. You can see the effects of that, not only in the names of the stores and the signs and references to Christianity, but in the theological fabric of the churches themselves. There has been a strong foundation here, but as in everywhere else, they have slid into a mediocrity of “church as usual”.

But they are not happy with that. They know what real revival is, and they know what it is not. They recognize that the bland messages coming out of America of an all-embracive grace is powerless without righteousness. They believe in the fear of God and understand what the lack of that does to erode the strength of their foundations. They want change, and change does not come without repentance.

I am assuming that the two churches that I will be visiting this week are of the same spirit as the pastors in Buchanan. If so, we should have another exciting week. Perhaps this will be the beginning of a new phase in my life, and maybe, just maybe, the ignition of a fire that will burn across Africa.

Great moves of God are born out of great faith, and great faith is born out of great hope. I believe they have both.

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This morning I was reminded of a pastor I met in northern Nigeria some years ago that would go out without any money and plant churches. He had few resources but would raise the church up until it was healthy and firm, and then he would go off to another area to plant the next church. When I met him, he had already planted several churches this way, taking nothing for himself for money or support. He just went on by faith.

I am also reminded of another pastor that I ministered with who was given $50,000 as an offering from a UK-based church. Instead of buying himself a nice home or car, he used that money to build the foundations for over 150 churches across northern Uganda. He remained dirt poor and didn’t have the money to finish many of those buildings, but they were functioning churches, and that was what mattered for the hundreds of people that worshipped God in them.

I know several men and women of God like that.

Is this what I see here in the modern church world in America where the preachers expound more about blessings and prosperity than the sufferings of the Cross and the fear of God? They proudly display their wealth across the television networks as a sign of their blessings from God. I am tired of hearing that it’s not the money, but the love of money that is root of all evil, all the while using that same scripture as an excuse to pursue more wealth. As the scripture says, they think “gain is godliness” (1 Tim. 6:5). But the admonition is to turn away from them because they are destitute of the truth.

And as the shepherd goes, so goes the flock. Our church world has, in many areas, taken on a worldly sheen that even the unsaved can recognize. They can see it, and we can’t. Small wonder that so many refuse to darken the doors of any church. They don’t see anything in the modern church world that they want.

Do you see what I am seeing? Can you feel that something in the church world is just not right, but you’re not quite sure what it is? Does it seem difficult to pick out any one thing that you can point to as wrong, but still there is that feeling that something is off? A friend of mine calls it cognitive dissonance.

How did we get so far off course? This was not the way the church was a couple of generations ago. Certainly we’ve seen men of God that were blessed and enjoyed a certain amount of wealth, but not to the degree of the lavish lifestyles we see today. The difference that is so startling is not about the money, but the attitude.

Are we focused on the comforts of the crown, or the sufferings of the Cross? Are the rewards we pursue measured in coin or in souls? Are we trying to get our rewards now, or lay them up for Eternity?

Paul said that he would not glory except in the cross, “by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” (Gal 6:14) The apostle John agreed and warned us to not love the world, neither the things in the world, for if we did, the love of the father would not be in us. (1John 2:15). Even James told us that friendship with the world is enmity with God. (James 4:4)

So how did so many of us lose our bearings? Perhaps it is a matter of what we are focused on.

I see so many Christians in the churches dive off into their own ministries, which seems encouraging until I notice that they are running around ministering to each other and have forgotten the commission that was given to them to go unto the lost. They seem to be run more like a corporate business than an outreach by faith. Few are willing to give up the security of a paycheck to run off into the bush to plant a church with nothing in their pocket. Neither do many feel the call to sacrifice everything they have in life just so they can go.

Is this generation focused only on their own lives, what they want, and how they want it, rather than the crucified sacrifice that fueled our forefathers? Is it all about us and how we want it instead of blindly throwing yourself at God and let him take you through the valleys of death to strip the “you” out of you? Or like Gideon who refused to compromise with the worldly church that the Israelites had become, but instead threshed his wheat in secret by the winepress of God, away from the religious ways of a carnal church.

Paul echoes Isaiah as he cried out for us to come out from among them and be separate people unto the Lord. Jesus said just as he was preparing to go to Calvary that “ye are not of the world”. If you were, as John says later, the world would hear you (1 John 4:5,6). Peter says we are supposed to escape the pollutions of this world by cutting off our desire to be like them. (2 Peter 2:20)

Is this what I see in the modern church world today? Is this the example that is set by our affluent clergy and wealthy congregations? Or, is this the same spirit that led the children of Israel to worship golden calves at the foot of Mount Sinai?

Choose a path. I don’t believe you can have both. The deception of the world is too strong to dabble in. Like skating on thin ice to see how far you can go, you may not find out until it is too late.

“Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria … That lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock … and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.” (Amos 6:1-6)

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The book of Proverbs has an amazing ability to adjust to whatever message you need to hear on any given day. If you need encouragement, it will support you; if you need correction, it will reprove you; if you need wisdom, it will show you what you need to do to get it. You can read the same chapters over and over again, and they will speak differently to you each time, morphing into whatever you need at the moment.

Sometimes, it’s as if the whole chapter has joined together in a conspiracy against you to drive home the day’s message. Today was like that.

I was first pricked with, “a man of knowledge increaseth strength”. Okay, I get it – I need to read more Bible. If I want to fight battles, win victories, or overcome struggles, I need to read more of the Word of God. When you forget your reading and prayer, you can forget your power in God.

Okay, so now I have been reproved – I have to read more. But that also tells me that something is coming up that I will need that strength for. Maybe a battle or maybe a mission; either way, its obvious that He is reminding me that there is something that I have to do and I cannot do it on my own.

Then a little more down the chapter, I came to, “if thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small”. I remember this one well. A few years ago, the Lord used this one to convict me about going to Africa on a particular trip. (“Okay, okay! I’m going!”). But that proverb was only setting me up for the next verse, and this one really got me.

“If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; if thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? And he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? And shall not he render to every man according to his works?” (Proverbs 24:11-12)

Is that our default attitude when we are not being pushed or convicted? Do we maintain our status quo with, “I love everybody, and I sure hope they all figure it out and get to Heaven somehow”? We know there are multitudes starving, not only for food and physical needs, but more importantly, for spiritual needs. Amos tells us in chapter 8 that God would send a famine for hearing the Word of God and men would travel everywhere seeking it but would not be able to find it. As chilling as that may sound, do we answer that challenge by questioning what we can do? Or perhaps more like what we are required to do? Or worse, what the absolute minimum is that we can get away with?

Water seeks its own level. So do we. Left alone, we have a tendency to slip into complacency and rest when it concerns others outside our immediate circle. In other words, we become lukewarm.

And then the chapter conspired against me one more time to finalize it all at the end:

“I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:

So shall thy poverty come as one that travels; and thy want as an armed man.”
(Proverbs 24: 30-34)

I get it. Life is a test. It is not about us and what we can get for ourselves by padding our own nest and keeping as much as we can, but rather, it is about seeing how much we can do for others with what God has allowed us to have. If we gave it all away, somehow I feel that our bucket would never be empty.

This Thanksgiving season, I want to stop for a moment and thank God, not just for what I have, but for the opportunity He has given us to give.

It’s what God did for us.

“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

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“And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.” Acts 3:2.3

What a surprise this guy ended up getting!

This guy had been lame all his life and knew the best place to set himself up to get a few shekels out somebody was as they were entering church. He had a regular spot there, and everybody knew who he was, so he must have been doing okay for himself – maybe not great, but at least he knew how to work the crowd.

Then along come Peter and John.  The only problem was that they were broke.

This guy had no idea what was coming.  He didn’t even know enough to ask for healing, never mind expect one. He was just trying to scrape together enough pennies to eat.  But God healed him anyway.  I think that was pretty cool.

But the thing that has always stood out to me was how amazed everyone was at this healing. Wasn’t it just a few months ago that all Israel was buzzing with all the miracles that Jesus had done?  So why were they so surprised?  Did they not believe the stories they had heard?

Or maybe they didn’t want to believe them.

You see, if they believed in those miracles, then Jesus had to be the Messiah, and if that was true, that means they killed the Son of God, and if THAT was true, they were in a hell of a lot of trouble!  It would be a whole lot easier to just turn off the switch, ignore the stories, and make believe it never happened.

After all, where was Jesus now?  Dead gods never impress anybody, miracles or no miracles, and Jesus was dead (wasn’t He?).

It’s the same today.  Yeah, we remember the stories about the Brush Arbor revivals, the Faith Healers like Aimee Semple McPherson, Katherine Khulman, Smith Wigglesworth, and so many others, but where are they today?  They’re all dead!  When is the last time you saw the blind to see, lame to walk, and deaf to hear?  Been a while, has it?

We pray, we “speak the word of faith into existence” (like that’s really supposed to do something), we make a profession of faith in God’s healing power … and then, as soon as we’re done praying, we make an appointment with the doctor.

We don’t believe it anymore because we have not seen a flowing of the miraculous working power of God in years. There’s a reason why that is — we’re not hungry enough.  Until we become desperate, we will remain in the belly of the apostate slump that the church is in.  As long as we’re satisfied with our complacency, and are not cut to the heart for what we are missing in God, then we will sit right there waiting for a revival that will never come, because God will not set His seal of approval on an apostate church that doesn’t care.

Want to know how to get God to move?  Simple. God hears desperate prayer, and He feeds desperate hunger –we’re just not desperate enough. The blueprint for revival is in chapter 2 of the Book of Joel. (No, I’m not going to quote it. If you won’t read it yourself, then what difference would it make?)

Ask any fisherman – you can take your very best rod and reel with the most expensive bait out to the ol’ fishing hole, position yourself perfectly and fish there all day long … but if the fish ain’t hungry, they ain’t taking the bait.

And we ain’t hungry.

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I love to sit on my porch in the mornings as the sun is coming up and watch the dragonflies bob and weave across the lawn, snatching up gnats like winged Pacman’s. The sun’s rays cut across the morning’s chill and catch their weaving flights like illuminated spots of light. They never seem to run out of gnats to pick up; the swarms are renewed every morning. By noon, however, they are all gone, disappearing under the heavy blanket of Texas heat as the sun asserts its dominance on the day.

In some ways, that reminds me somewhat of the Church. How many times has the exciting times that comes with the emergence of the Son in a time of spiritual refreshing slowly settle into the lethargy that comes with the afternoon’s heat. Like a heavy blanket pressing us into drowsiness, time has a way of reducing us into spiritual slumber.

As our fervor begins to wane, our prayer life becomes conversational and formal whereas it was once full of passion and fire. Services go from fiery calls for repentance and the fear of God to intellectual messages on theology and how we should live our mediocre lives. Altars for repentance, which used to be called “the Mourner’s Bench”, now have become havens for “pity lines” for the sins we never seem to overcome. We are encouraged to be nice to one another by “feel good” ministries whose reputations are bolstered by their best selling book rather than their prophetic effectiveness to call the people of God to repentance. (Jer. 23: 22)

“And my people love to have it so …” (Jer. 5:31)

Jeremiah makes the point that false prophets of peace and safety flourish in times like these. Prosperity is the ensign that our leaders wave in their pursuit of wealth so that they can show how God has “blessed” them (1 Tim. 6:5). We love the comfort of settling into a soft gospel that lulls us to sleep like the heat of a Texas afternoon. We are satisfied; we are comfortable; and we feel blessed.

Several years ago, I pleaded with God for the people in the American church. As I was wrestling in prayer, I cried out, “But God, they are really nice people!” There was that ominous pause, like what you feel before a storm breaks, and then the Lord answered me directly in words, “I will spue the lukewarm out of my mouth … and you think they’re nice?”

We are in desperate need of revival. The problem is that as the Church slides deeper into apostasy, they are less and less able to see it in themselves. There has to come a spiritual earthquake to wake them up. The deeper we fall asleep, the more we need a revival, the greater the calamity that is needed to awaken us.

“Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the Lord our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season:” (Jer. 5:24)

No revival comes without repentance. The harvest will not come without the former and latter rain (Joel 2:23), and they won’t come without our prayer life being gripped with the fear of the Lord to crack our knees in abject, heartfelt repentance. The kind that moves mountains.

Jonathan in 1 Sam. 14 had his earthquake after all Israel had fled because he climbed the mountain that was before him on his knees to engage the enemy and fight. We need to take on his same faith and tenacity to fight for the people of God and climb that mountain which is before us. If we won’t fight for this, who will?

It’s another hot, sultry dog day afternoon in Texas. The temperature is hitting 105 degrees and the heat smothers you. Tomorrow morning the air will be fresh and cool again and the dragonflies will be back, zooming around like dive bombers playing in the rays of morning sun, but then by noon, that oppressive heat will be back again, draining the life out of the rest of the day.

Lord, we need it to rain.

Brother Dale

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The Inner Side of the Veil

“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 6:19,20 ESV

The King James calls it “that within the veil”. The New King James calls it “the Presence”. Holman calls it “the inner sanctuary”. The literal Greek is esothen meaning “the inner side” of the veil. What is the writer of Hebrews (let’s assume for clarity that the writer is Paul) referring to?

Chapter 6 of Hebrews is a mysterious chapter. By that, I mean that the message is not immediately obvious. What seem to be five different and separate messages is actually one message that is not stated but woven into them all. I am reminded that, “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings is to search out a matter.” (Proverbs 25:2) It is left to us to search it out.

The chapter opens with an admonition about going on to “perfection” or a higher level in our spiritual walk instead of being bogged down with basic essentials, of which he names six. But, Paul warns, don’t start seeking some deeper of more “spiritual” level unless God permits!

Why is that? What is the problem with seeking more knowledge or deeper spiritual understanding? Doesn’t Proverbs plainly tell us to do that with everything we have? And such a warning! Why?

Because, Paul warns, it is impossible, once you have crossed over the line, to come back again. I know this is anathema to who believe in Eternal Security, but it clearly describes five unmistakable marks of true salvation: enlightenment, sampling the heavenly gift, partaking of the Holy Spirit, tasting the Word of God, and tasting the powers of the age to come. And it clearly warns that if they fall away that there is a point where they cannot repent again.

In other words, be careful before you wander off into theological scholasticism or modern Christianity’s bent on deeper “spirituality”. You can wander off into dangerous theories, arguments, doctrines, and translucent ideas that will take you away from the basics of the Gospel. Jesus said to be concerned with the “weightier matters of the law”, judgment, mercy, and faith. (Mathew 23:23) It is the foolishness of preaching that God uses to save souls (1 Cor. 1:21), not the wisdom of man, as he further admonishes in that chapter.

In other words, stick to the basics; you can’t go wrong with the basics. The Bibles tells us that, “he that winneth souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30), not those with carnal intelligence, because “to be carnally minded is death” (Romans 8:6)

And then Paul turns to encourage the reader that God is not unjust to forget our works and mercies that we have done. He fortifies it with a reference to God’s promise to Abraham, which is confirmed by God’s own oath so that we would have a strong consolation to have hope in God.

That hope is not found in the pursuit of knowledge and theological strivings or of any other paths that lead around and away from the Cross. It is embedded on the inside of that veil. Not on the side of the veil that the priesthood could see and touch, but on the other side, the side that is inhabited and immersed in the Holy Spirit of God.

You see, that place of assurance cannot be reached through carnal efforts, no matter how well intentioned they are. Our works and efforts are all good things, but they won’t bring you into the Presence of God. You can’t touch the inner side of the veil by sticking your finger through the outer side.

You approach God through faith. That is what gives you hope. And hope is the anchor of the soul, hooked into the inside surface of that holy fabric which was torn open on the Cross so that we could pass through into His Presence.

 

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