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Archive for the ‘preaching’ Category

I’m sitting in the Brussels airport on my way home. This has been a hard trip. I’m not entirely sure why, but the two weeks I have spent here have felt like two months. True, the pace was intense, but it was more than that. There was an oppression in the air that weighed heavily on us that made everything harder.  I was so exhausted most of the time that I could barely manage.

But it didn’t affect the services. They were great. Each place we went to lit up like they were on fire. I would step into each meeting with a bit of apprehension because I never seemed to know what the message was going to be, and each time in less than a minute, the Holy Ghost would click on like flipping a switch, and away we would go.

Even though I was bound up in exhaustion, there was a complete freedom for the Spirit to move throughout the messages. Most of the time, I felt like I was riding a wave as the Lord shaped, molded, and turned the message in the direction He wanted it to go.

And the response was great. The pastors were rejoicing for the tangible hope for a real revival from God. They now had the blueprint for revival in their hands and they were excited. I watched as they sat on the edge of their chairs with eyes wide open, shouting their “Amen’s” every time something new was revealed to them.

It’s funny, but after having preached over a thousand messages over the last 16 years, I still feel apprehensive going into each service. It’s as if, even though God has been there every single time for me, I am still afraid that this time I will fall flat on my face.  God and I have a little running joke between us, like a little dance that we do. He will remind me as I am sitting there, that the deal we have with each other is, “You lead, and I’ll follow.”

“Yes, Lord. I know. I’m just a little scared that I’m not enough in the Spirit.

“Have I ever failed you?”

“No. I’m just afraid I’m not good enough.”

“You aren’t; I am.  I’ll lead; you follow.”

And every time, He does. He goes right around me and deals personally with the hearts of His people.

I really believe this is the way it is supposed to be done. Let God do the work. He does a much better job than we can. My job, oppression or not, is to show up

… and then get out of the way.

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It feels like I’ve been in a whirlwind here in Liberia. After a quick introduction on Sunday, I was launched into a fierce set of meetings, morning and night, for three days.

I am not a calm and casual preacher. I pour my heart and soul into the message the entire time I am on my feet. Actually, it is more a matter of allowing the Holy Spirit to pour like a river through me. When I am done an hour later, I am completely drained, soaked in sweat, and barely able to stand. This is how it always is for me.

After the morning service, my driver takes me back to the hotel where I collapse for a couple hours, shower, and head back for the evening session. Then back to the hotel when we are done and repeat. I’m okay, but I’m getting a little fuzzy.

But the response is great! The Spirit of the Lord connects with everyone immediately. It’s as if they are already prepped and ready with open hearts to receive everything God has for them, and He rejoices in giving to them. I rarely know what I am going to say before I get up, but as soon as I do, I can feel the Lord turn me into His message for the service. Then it is a matter of just hanging on and following the flow of the river that He pours out. For the next hour, I am in that flow and am barely aware of anything else. And then when it is done, it is done.

I am told that this is the way preachers in America used to preach back a generation or so ago. It was never a matter of preparing your message, but more a matter of preparing yourself to yield unto the leading of the Holy Ghost. Open your mouth and He will fill it. But now, Bible colleges teach our young all the methods of outline and organization to fully prepare your speech or lecture to the congregation. And if you feel lost, that’s okay because you can simply purchase your message off the internet for a small sum, complete with video, outline and bulleted points. How convenient! Maybe they also have the canned applause.

But stale bread and sour wine will never inspire hungry souls.

There’s no faking it here. The Spirit of God is moving too strongly with these people. I am continually told that they don’t like American preachers because we do not preach the same message we did 50 years ago. I have literally heard that hundreds of times. They like our money and will come to the great mega crusades because we pay their pastors to bring their churches, but the next day after they are gone, everything goes back to the way it was.

Is it a small wonder that we are seeing so many miracles here and so few in America? Yesterday, just to make a point, I had one person who was in pain stand up and another person come over to pray over her. Healed! Then I did it again. And again. Each time the healing was immediate. I can do this all across Africa, from Kenya to Liberia any day of the week.

Why is that? Maybe they just expect a miracle. Maybe they just need God more than we do. Maybe a lot of things. I honestly don’t know. I will leave it to the smart theologians to write a book on how to do healings – they’ve never done it themselves, but I’m sure they can tell us all about how its supposed to be done.

What is my point? Theology and modern religion has lost it’s heart. We’ve become institutional and programmed to the point that we have lost the art of surrender. We know too much. The Bread we bring forth is no longer fresh from the oven of the Altar. It’s stale, hard, dry and tasteless. Our wine has gone sour and is more like vinegar than the wine of the Holy Spirit. We need revival so bad that it hurts.

But we are the last to realize it.

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“ Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.” (Psalms 105:15)

I think it is no secret that Satan would try anything to destroy the Church. To keep the flock from straying under Satan’s influence, the Lord has placed the church under the authority of the pastor. Deacons and elders play a subordinate role in most churches, and we are supposed to be subject one to another, but the truth is, most often the pastor is fully in charge and the flock is supposed to submit unto him.

But who does the pastor answer to?

I have heard Benny Hinn say that we should not reprove the pastors because we are not to “touch His anointed”, using David and Saul as the example. Let me remind you that while David would not come against Saul, Samuel had no such inhibition, nor did Nathan, Micaiah, Amos or any other prophet of God.  The king may be in charge, but by God, he’d better listen to the prophet!

That scripture, however, has nothing to do with reproof of a pastor. It is about protection from the enemy. David is speaking in Psalms 105 about how God protected Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob from those who would come against them. He was not talking about reproving pastors and holding them accountable.

So who holds our pastors in check or guides them when they stray? That is the job of a prophet.

A true prophet has a solitary walk. In order to be able to reprove kings, his message cannot be influenced by anyone. He must remain separate, consecrated unto God alone. His job is to stand in the gaps (Eze. 13:5) and call the church, and most especially the leadership, back to a place of repentance. He is not called to be popular or make friends. Jesus said that no prophet is honored in his own country and among his own people. Why? Because he doesn’t tell them what they want to hear. When you do see a prophet that is honored in his own country, it is most likely because he is a prophet of “peace and prosperity”.

Modern prophets of peace and prosperity in this generation like to lean heavily on the scripture in 1st Corinthians 14:3 in their effort to “speak unto us smooth things” (Isa. 30:10), but they never call us to repentance.  According to Jeremiah, however, that call to bring the church to a place of repentance is the litmus test of a true prophet of God (Jer. 23:22), a test that many of today’s blessing prophets fail.

Prophets are called, as the priest in chapter 14 of Leviticus to scour and cut out the leprosy in the house. If the leprosy is cured, then the house can remain. If it is not, then the entire house and everything left in it are to be burned outside the camp. When the leadership of any church is not able to be reproved, leprosy will grow unabated in that house. Satan is ecstatic because he can continue to lead the pastor away without the terrible interference from God’s prophet. It is now only a matter of time before that church falls.

The real losers in this are the unsaved. Sinners will not flock to altars that have lost their anointing.

And that was Satan’s goal all along.

“And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.”  (1Kings 19:10)

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“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt has lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted?”(Matthew 5:13)

Whenever I have a get-together, I always invite Barry.  Yeah, things can go just fine without him, but when he’s there, he adds an extra spice to the party. I guess he’s sort of half nuts, but the half of him that’s nuts is a real fun nuts. He’s kind of like the sweet and sour sauce that goes with your egg rolls … that is, if you like egg rolls. You can eat them dry, but without the sauce, it tastes like something is missing.

Church is a lot like that.  Oh sure, we have wonderful churches, with great pastors and real nice people. And I’m sure you all love your church services. But something just seems to be missing.

Ever wonder why so many folks out there are not flocking to your church? And I’m not talking about sinners – I’m talking about Christians!  Ask them sometime. You’ll find (if you can get around their initial polite responses) that they need something more than what they are finding at church. Something is missing and they are left still hungry when they leave. What is that thing?

It’s not the setting or the message or the music or the people. It’s something that is difficult to put your finger on, but whatever it is, it isn’t satisfying that hunger that so many people have in the depths of their souls.

I brought my family just recently to a service where someone was preaching that I knew was a real servant of the Lord. And it was good … sort of. All the right theological elements were in place, the preachers said a lot of great stuff, and it was good to be there.  But something was missing.

As we drove home, my wife pointed right to it – there was no anointing.  Great message, wonderful preachers, nice place … but no anointing.  Egg rolls without sauce.

Now I’m sure that a whole bunch of you are going to say, “But oh, we have the anointing in our services!”  Then why are hundreds of souls not flocking to your altar to get saved every week?

Think I’m being excessive? Back in the 1970’s, we had 30 to 50 souls at the altar every night and twice on Sunday! And it was because the power of the Holy Spirit was literally pouring out on us every night. Three hundred souls a week … for years.

If you haven’t been saved long enough to have experienced the revivals in the early 70’s, then really, you have no idea what you’re missing. If you weren’t there for the old Brush Arbor revivals then all you have to compare your services to are the narratives that were written by those who were there. We have not seen anything like it for 40 to 50 years. The Brownsville revival is the closest we’ve had and that was twenty years ago.

Once you have tasted of a Holy Ghost anointing, you will never be the same and you will never again be satisfied with “church as usual”. It is the sweet and sour sauce to your egg roll services; it’s the salt that flavors the meal that you are serving to saved and unsaved alike.  It’s the thing that draws souls to the altar in droves. It’s the very essence of the Spirit of God.

And it’s missing.

So what do we need to do to get it back?  I’m sure that everybody’s loaded up on volumes of Christian self-help books written by every pseudo-expert who has a new word from God to tell the rest of us … for $19.95 of course.

And maybe that’s the problem.  We’re so busy trying to figure it out that we’re not letting God take control. Maybe if we threw out our prepared messages and burned our theological books, we could be free to follow the leading of the Holy Ghost. But no, we’re afraid to do that. We have to do our Christianity according to the way we’ve been taught to do it. We have designed our System, and by God, we’re going to carry it out! God brought us to the dance, but we want to lead the way we learned at Arthur Murray’s Dance Class, so instead of waltzing with grace, we end up stepping on His toes.

When we are ready to admit our failure, God will be more than ready to pour out His anointing on us again, even more than what we have experienced in the past.  I have always said that the way to victory is through surrender; the way to wholeness is through brokenness; the way to God is through repentance.

Let’s start there and see where it leads.

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“For Demas hath forsaken me …” (2 Timothy 4:10)

How must that have felt to this old warrior who had struggled and fought to establish this Gospel that he knew was the only answer to saving the world from Hell. He had fought with demons and deacons, priests and princes. He had endured beatings, mockery and the threat of prison and death for this cause. He could have been wealthy and powerful, one of the ruling class in Jerusalem, but he turned it all away because he had met the Nazarene on the road to Damascus.

Paul knew what was at stake – Heaven for those who accepted this new revolutionary doctrine, or Hell for those who did not. Jew and Gentile alike faced the stark reality of a judgment that he must have known the utter devastating reality of. While Peter was given the ministry to the Jews, he was handed the enormous task of the rest of the Gentile world. And with that commission was the understanding that salvation would come to the Jews through the Gentiles as they fulfilled their dispensation. He had to succeed; he could not stumble and fail. Too much was hanging in the balance.

And then Demas forsook him.

I don’t suppose Paul was a soft-spoken kind of guy. Maybe he was a little too tough on Demas, or maybe he was too intense for him. He had a sharply divided sense of right and wrong, and he did not mince words to comfort hurt feelings. Rather, he made his points clear and blazingly lucid.

“Reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (2 Timothy 4:2)

In other words, tell them truth! Quit pussy-footing around. Do it in love, but stay true to the doctrine. Why?

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine: but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth and shall be turned unto fables.” (2Timothy 4:3,4)

I wonder if Paul self-examined himself first when Demas left. “Was I too hard on him? Did I not consider his feelings? Do I have a bad attitude?” All questions we ask of ourselves when a good friend abandons us.

But at some point, his prophetic spirit had to take back control and say no. Even if his attitude was not socially gracious, the truth is that we are engaged in an insanely ferocious war of eternity. The destiny for billions of souls is at stake.

True love, then, is not the creamy smooth gospel that most people find so alluring. It is the stark and sometimes sharp declaration of truth that cuts away the shrouds of death to liberate the soul to walk in true righteousness in the fear of God – a doctrine that is often not the favored choice of many.

Somebody has to take that stand. Paul did. Demas did not.

 

Brother Dale

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I’ve been delivering a lot of new messages lately. All variations of my standard set, but with new twists added and from completely different perspectives. It’s been great, with lots of new stuff that I had never thought of before. I’ve been just as excited as the folks who were listening to me.

I should tell you that, after close to 1,000 revival services across Africa, I have developed a series of messages about revival. The basic structure of the overall message is always the same: four steps and six principles. Mix ‘em up, put ‘em together, and spit ‘em out. Sounds dumb, doesn’t it, like I have no imagination or any fresh word to say, but just before every service, the Lord gives me the direction He wants me to go in, and I pick a message and go. Most of the time, I have no idea where it will lead, but after about five minutes into the message, I can feel Him take over and away we go.

I was taught not to prepare my messages. Open your mouth and let God fill it, is what the Bible says. Whenever you prepare the message, then that is your message. Let God take over and deliver the message because only He knows what they need to hear. You have to get wet with the Holy Ghost if you want to swim with God. He can’t speak through your mouth if you’re still talking. Works for me.

During one service in Nigeria, I was so sick I didn’t know where I was or what I had already told these people. I could barely stand up, never mind deliver a message. I had no idea what I was going to say, but just before I was called to stand up, the Lord spoke to me plainly, “Do you trust Me?” I thought, yeah, I trust you. It’s me I don’t trust. Nevertheless, something inside me prompted me to answer, “I trust you Lord. You lead, and I’ll follow.”

There it is. The secret to being led by the Spirit.  Let go of the steering wheel and let Him drive. You may not know where you’re going or when you will get there, but you will arrive on time at the right place.  Sounds like when God called Abraham to go into Canaan. I can imagine his brother being incredulous at what he was hearing.

“What? You’re leaving? We just got here! Everything is finally going well, and you’re taking off? Oh, and God told you to go. Right. And where did He tell you’re going? Oh, He didn’t tell you? But you’re going anyway?”

Hmmmm. Seems that’s always the way. It must have something to do with trust. If you want to do great things in God, you have to let Him do it. He can only work with a soul that has surrendered. A broken spirit and a contrite heart; isn’t that what Scriptures says that He loves?

Frank Bartleman, the man who chronicled the Azusa St. Revival, wrote that God once told him what great things He could do with someone who was small in their own sight. And I might add to that, someone who no longer cares about recognition and is broken to their own glory. With someone like that, God can move in supernatural ways and not have to worry about that person being destroyed by pride. It is, after all, God’s glory that will draw men, not ours.

Can we trust God to use us if we let Him? Are we able to let go of the things we so desperately hang on to, that we are afraid to let go? If we are truly broken to His will, it no longer matters, and when we release ourselves into His hands, then He can use us to do great and mighty things that we know not.

But first we have to trust Him.

As I have said, if you never step off the edge of the cliff, you will never learn how to fly.

Brother Dale
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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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