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Archive for the ‘apostasy’ Category

Elijah’s Walk in the Desert

”But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.

And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat.” (1Kings 18:5,6)

Three hundred miles, maybe more, depending on how circuitous a route he took and where Mt. Horeb was. Forty days walking. That’s a long, lonely walk.

Although prophets of God do not lead normal lives like most people, there can be seen glimpses of our own walks with God in them. You may not have called fire down from Heaven, but every time you stood up against the normal conventions of worldliness to declare the truth of God, you do pretty much the same thing. The world by nature does not like holiness, and it will resist anyone who steps out of the crowd to call it to change. And prophets are considered the worst.

But somebody has to do it, and that’s why God calls prophets. They do not possess pleasant personalities and are not the “life of the party”. They are not swayed by others’ opinions, nor would they be considered “nice guys”. Nor do they care.

Everything is black or white to them; there are no shades of grey. It is either righteous or it is sin. And for some reason, they feel compelled to tell you so.

Even if you are the king.

You will not find them in the spotlight of a big ministry receiving the accolades of the crowd. They just don’t fit in. The corporate ministries of today are foreign soil to them. They are more suited to wearing camel’s hair in the middle of a river than the Brooks Brothers suits and coifed hairdos of this generation’s spiritual leaders. And as a result, they walk a lonely path.

Few understand, and fewer appreciate them, and none realize the price.

We think they are made of some kind of steel that doesn’t feel the loneliness or the pain of rejection. Since they don’t bend to popular attention, we think their hearts are like stones that feel no affinity for others, but the truth is, they are people just like everyone else. They love, they hate, they need, and they feel just like us. They just have to walk a different path and keep on going.

Sometimes it is for three hundred miles with no food or water just to hear the voice of God.

I had a dream many years ago of myself walking in a desert of soft sand, much like the Sahara. Each footstep was difficult as it pushed through the sand. No water, a hot sun, and nothing but sand made it a weariness just to get to the top of the next sand dune and see if the city that I was trying to get to was there. But all there ever appeared was more sand.

I didn’t know where I was or if I was heading in the right direction, but I just kept walking, hoping that I wasn’t walking in circles. And then I heard a vehicle coming from behind me. A young man with blond hair and a bronze tan drove by in a Dune Buggy, waving to me as he passed by, “Hey, Mr. Garris. I’m off to my ministry! Praise the Lord!”. And off he drove over the horizon.

You have to wonder at times like that, what is wrong with me? Why am I here trudging along in this loose desert sand heading seemingly to nowhere, while this young kid is zooming along so effortlessly to his ministry? What did I do wrong? Will I ever reach that city that I am trying so desperately to find?

Do you ever feel like that? Does it seem so simple for others, when everything seems to be a battle for you?

Forty days trudging through the wilderness just to wait in a cave. Make sense to you? I doubt if it did to Elijah either. All that way, then up a mountain to sit in a cave to wait.

First the storm, then the earthquake, and then the fire. But still Elijah waited. And then the still, small voice.

Had Elijah not allowed God to take him through that crucified walk that strips the flesh and breaks the spirit, I don’t believe he would have recognized that voice like he did. It would have been just noise, indistinguishable from all the noise of the world.

You may not have to go for three hundred miles without food and water, or stand up against a king to declare a spiritual famine upon the land. You may not call down fire from heaven or raise a woman’s dead son, but you possess in your soul the ability to declare the righteousness of God to a worldly church that is mesmerized with an easier, worldly doctrine that mistakes grace for sin and covetousness for prosperity.

You will get the same results as Elijah did and you will go through the same lonely walk as he walked. But know that you are not alone – there are 7,000 that God had reserved – and you are not walking aimlessly. You will finally step over the hill of that last sand dune and see the City that you’ve been searching for and you will recognize the still, small voice of God as He speaks to you.

“Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

 

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“So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:  Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer” (2 Thess. 1:4,5)

What is Paul saying here? That persecution and tribulation are a sign of the righteous judgment of God? Does that mean that as we declare the righteous judgment of God on a sinful people, that we will suffer persecution?

There’s another scripture that comes to mind: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12)

Am I hearing this right? If you are walking in the Lord the way you are supposed to and declaring the difference between sin and righteousness, then you are going to have trouble. Why? Because people do not want to be told that they have to give up their sin, their pride, and their lusts. The world does not want to hear that there is a burning Hell. They would prefer to gloss over that little detail. And if you remind them of it, they will call you a judgmental legalist who preaches hate, and will persecute you as a result.

If you persist, you will find that you won’t make many friends.
If you are a pastor, you will find that many of your congregation will leave.
If you’re a Christian, what other choice do you have?

If we are easy going Christians – we make no waves, we cause no controversy, we never rock the boat or shake up the Church, we’re just really nice guys – then of course everyone will like us. I can think of a bunch of folks I know that everybody loves. Gosh, they’re so much fun to be around and they always make you feel happy when you’re around them. They never get into arguments or heated debates. It seems they would be the epitome of what we should strive to be like. Or is it just that they never take a stand for righteousness?

Avoiding arguments is good. Doctrinal debates can go round and round and never get anywhere, but what about judgment? What about declaring the righteousness of God? Is that just supposed to be a personal matter, or are we supposed to declare that which is right and that which is sin?

This wouldn’t be a big deal except for one thing – there’s a burning Hell. It Is real, it is eternal, and once you cross into eternity, there is no coming back. That, as they say, is the game-changer. People may not want to hear you tell them about Hell, but what is your responsibility?

Proverbs 24:11,12 tells us,

“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?”

This life is not about having fun and enjoying the world, prospering and making money, or attaining to stature and fame – it’s about escaping the pits of Hell and getting into Heaven.

If that is so, why would you NOT warn people about Hell? Who cares if they don’t like it? Penn of the Penn & Teller Vegas show, a confirmed atheist, once asked, “If you truly believe the Bible, how much hate must you have for someone to not tell them about Hell?

They didn’t crucify Christ because He preached Love. They killed Him because He told them to repent.

Then, in the second chapter of 2nd Thessalonians, Paul turns his attention to the Church in the last days. He describes the Antichrist as one who would come in with all kinds of “power, signs and lying wonders” to deceive the Church. This is the same guy that Daniel says would also win the kingdom by flatteries. Which kingdom is that? Could it be the Church? Because after that, he talks about a great falling away and that many would be deceived because “they received not the love of the truth” (2nd Thess 2:10), but instead would be damned because they “believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness”. (2nd Thess. 2:12)

It sounds like the Antichrist has the message that people want to hear in contrast to the kind of message that brings persecution. Isaiah tells us that people want to hear “smooth things” instead of the hard truth of righteousness. (Isaiah 30:10). They will believe what they want to believe in spite of the facts and use the Bible to justify themselves. They will then turn to a different gospel that is more to their liking, like that which the Antichrist will give them.

The great danger of a modern Christianity which is adverse to judgment and “legalism” but instead pursues a message of love, grace, and blessings is that it slides closer and closer to a worldly definition of truth which is much kinder and nicer than that old fashioned hard gospel of hellfire and brimstone. Feelings become more important than conviction for sin; grace becomes more important than holiness; being nice is more important than telling the truth.

And what we end up with is a church that can no longer recognize the difference between truth and deception. When people become easily swayed by signs and wonders and begin to run after false prophets to hear the latest “word of blessing from God”, they lose the strength to resist the Antichrist’s Pied Piper call to a flattering gospel with no conviction, judgment, or righteousness. “…and my people love to have it so” (Jer. 5:31).

As the Church wallows in a greater wealth than it has ever known, she becomes flush with the lure of prosperity and material blessings, and it becomes more and more difficult to discern a difference between the Church and the world. Leonard Ravenhill once wrote that there’s more of Hollywood than holiness in the church … and that was 20 years ago.

In Judges chapter 6, the Israelites allowed the Amalekites to come in, and in no time, they completely took over and destroyed the harvest. But because the Israelites no longer had a love for the truth, they did not recognize the danger and turned to Baal as the true god. Renegades like Gideon were therefore considered wicked and should be killed. The good becomes evil, and the evil becomes good. In like manner, today’s church is allowing the world to come in and is falling for a modern gospel and will be easily deceived by the flattery of the Antichrist and the False Prophet.

In 2002, I saw a vision of modern Christianity rushing in a stampede toward the edge of a cliff. As I yelled and tried to warn them, the Lord spoke to me and said, “Even if they could hear you, which they cannot, they will not listen.” They were too mesmerized with this new, modern gospel.

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15)

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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, formal, and polite whereas it was once full of outrageous 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?”  Ouch.

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, who will?

It’s another hot, sultry dog day afternoon in Texas. The temperature is hitting 100 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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Well, I have been told that I was going to Hell again.

This time from someone that had read the Statement of Faith on my website, www.revivalfire.org and decided that, because I do not believe as she does, I was not saved. She was also quick to point out that you can’t go by feelings.  I beg your pardon, but I don’t see how you can go without feelings.

Yes, we walk by Faith and we must go by the Word of God, but doesn’t the Spirit and the Word agree?  And isn’t faith the substance of things hoped for?  And if it is a substance, can you not feel it?  Faith opens the door to walk into the presence of God, but believe me, when you are in the presence of God, you can feel it!

I don’t want to just believe I’m saved or think I’m saved –I want to know it!  I want to feel it!  I love that rush that comes down from the Throne of God when I pray.  When I raise my hands and lift up my heart in praise and feel the Heavens open up – wow, there is no feeling in the world like that!

When you lead someone through the Sinner’s Prayer and you feel the Spirit of God come down and flow through them – how can you not feel that?

When you lay hands on someone that is sick and feel the Blood of Jesus Christ wash over them and heal them right in front of you; when the preacher is under the Anointing and you feel the power of God flowing through whole church; when you are deep in prayer and the Lord speaks to you or shows you a vision – tell me, how can you not go by feelings?

Perhaps that woman has never felt the supernatural power of the Holy Ghost in her life.  If she did, maybe she’d have a different opinion.

I’ll tell you what, if I were in a church or a denomination or a doctrine (or whatever you want to call it), and I couldn’t feel the Spirit of God, then something is missing.  (Like maybe God?)

If you can’t feel the Spirit of God, then something is standing between you and Him.  Maybe that something is your religion.

I don’t want a cold, dead faith.  I don’t want to guess or try to theologically convince myself that I’m saved.  My faith isn’t cerebral; it’s deep in my heart.  I want a relationship with the Lord that is so personal and so powerful that all the devils in Hell cannot convince me that I am not right with God.  Not even some zealot that doesn’t happen to agree with me.

In order to be led by the Spirit of God and keep heading down the right path with Him, you’ve got to be able to feel His leading and His correction.  This is not something you can guess on, or gamble your soul on the throw of a dice – you have to be sure.  Hell burns for a long, long time.

Jesus said that as many as are led of the Spirit, they are the Sons of God.

And if you’re not led of the Spirit … well, good luck trying to figure it out.

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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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