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Posts Tagged ‘apostasy’

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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The African soul is tied closely to the earth, almost as if was somehow merged with the soil from which we have all come from. It’s not the bare feet or the rural setting that you find here, but more of a huskiness and an earthy feel to everything, from their art and music, to the brightly colored primitive designs of their fabrics that they wrap themselves in that lends color and atmosphere to the air you breath. It’s as if their connection with Mother Earth inhabits their very breath.

Western sophistication seems artificial in contrast. Our high-paced electric intensity, lit in the neon lights of our digital society, may seem brighter at first glance, but somehow loses a depth of color that hints at a depth of soul that is shallow in comparison. It’s something that is hard to put in words but can be felt when you are here, immersed in their midst.

True revival is not based on money or sophistication. Actually, I believe those things actually work against a true revival. When we become set on our own artificial substance and abilities, we lose the essential reliance upon God that is an absolute requirement for God to move among us.

Not” by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Zech. 4:6)

Revival will break out in Africa first because they need Him more than we do in the West. Yes, they have a long way to go in other essentials, but their hearts have a childlike reliance on God that we have lost. They can learn to do those other essentials, but it is not so easy for us to change our soul.

I don’t know what to think about all these things. I look out over the patchwork of tiny garden plots amidst the shambles of worn out shacks, poverty, and dirt and I wonder how will God do this? Is this really possible that He will raise these simple, earthy people to a place of revival that the world will envy?

But then, that would be just like Him to do that.

Me? I will just keep on hammering out this message that He has given me. It seems to be working everywhere that I have brought it. Sometimes I wonder how that is possible to go to places no one else will go, to wring out my soul to a small people in small churches in desolate places, and watch them ignite in place after place.

The Lord gave me a vision once where I could see myself taking precious seeds and sticking them deep into foot-high furrows of soft brown earth. The seed will germinate in its time and miraculously reappear as a harvest.

I don’t have to know how; I just have to keep planting that seed into those soft furrows of earth and pray that the rain will soften the hard fallow ground back home.

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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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Since so many people have responded favorably about these Nigerian chapters, here’s one more – 


I haven’t been sending much out in the way of reports on this trip to Nigeria because it’s as if I have been in a cloud.  I feel like I am walking under some kind of spiritual oppression and I just can’t seem to get a grip on what to tell folks back home.

The first two weeks here have been good. My messages were breaking ground with a lot of pastors because they remember that 40 years ago when the old powerhouses were here preaching and revival was burning, this very same message that I am preaching was alive in the churches here. As one pastor put it, they used to be so desperate to win souls that they would go out into the streets to take the Gospel to the lost, but now they have retreated back into their churches, waiting for the sinners to come to them instead.  Something died in the Church when that happened, and they want it back.

My core message is that the Gospel is not about you, but is about others, and this resonates loudly with many of these pastors.  They get it.  But there are some who do not. The prevalent message of blessings, prosperity, and a more abundant life in Jesus always has more appeal than a message of blood, sacrifice and death.

Most of the people out in the congregations get it also, but sometimes it is only for the moment. Put one of these prosperity preachers up behind me that will proclaim showers of blessings and that this is your day of victory and deliverance, and the people jump to their feet cheering, forgetting everything that I just told them. Like any good con artists, these charlatans know exactly which buttons to push to get people on their feet. I watched in aghast after one of my messages when, as the bishop was dismissing the crowd, gave one more prosperity call to give him money – the obvious promise, of course, being that if you want God to bless you, you have to bless the bishop.  He stood there with his hand out taking money like a man selling raffle tickets.  At least with raffle tickets you stand a chance of winning something.

After so many years of being fed this American version of the Prosperity Gospel, it is going to take patience to turn this ship around. Many have itching ears and are more willing to heap to themselves teachers that will tell them what their ears itch to hear than to offer their lives as a holy sacrifice.

But not everybody.  Many have come back to me to tell me that the message has transformed their outlook and that they will take the message and carry the torch to others.  God will raise up those whom He will use to change the world. There may not be many. Jesus only had eleven men to entrust the entire world to and look what they did.

All we can do is cast our bread upon the waters and let God do what only He can do.

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Another post from the Nigeria-2012 booklet.


Nigeria has been hard. I knew there would be a battle, but I didn’t expect the intensity of what we have faced here. But it is in the thick smoke of battle that warriors are forged, and I expect we will see God raise up a crop of serious Christians who, because they were born in adversity, will rise to the challenge He has placed before them.  I just hope I’m not one of them, because I’m getting tired in my old age.

Beyond the accompanying physical troubles and afflictions that I and those who are with me have faced here, the greatest challenge Nigeria faces is to be able to pierce through the smoke of satanic deception. The real enemy to be concerned with is not the Muslims extremists or any of the sinners – it is the Church.

What’s new?  Christianity’s perpetual enemy has always been the organized “ecclesiastical powers that be”. Who sold Joseph into slavery? Who chased David in the wilderness? Who delivered Jesus to be crucified? Who slaughtered millions of Christians throughout the Middle Ages?  What is this deep animosity that possesses the soul of the Church once it becomes entrenched into society? Within a few generations, a moment that was once birthed in blood and persecution often becomes the persecutor.

As you walk down any street in Nigeria, even out in the rural villages, you can count the churches lining up every few hundred yards or so.  You may have three and four of them in the same building! Posters are everywhere proclaiming the showers of blessings, a night of miracles, and your time of deliverance if you will just come to their meeting.

If you rise up to expose these lies, you are threatening the very existence of these preachers who have sucked the fat out of these poor people, and they will work tirelessly to stop you. In the same way, Jesus threatened the power of the Pharisees when He preached about repentance and took away their power of Levitical judgment. And they killed Him for it.

Satan knows that no revival will come without repentance, and that is where he must draw his battle lines.  He is armed with a myriad of lies that have worked for 6,000 years and his polished talents as the world’s smoothest liar. We, on the other hand, are armed with the Word of God, but we need courage to swing that sword in battle. Sounds easy, but come to Nigeria and start exposing these lies of prosperity and false blessings and you will see your stamina, your courage, and even your faith challenged like you have not experienced anywhere else.

Revival is coming, but it will not come without a fight. This will be a fight, not of physical challenges, but of the ethereal issues of spiritual deception – a much more difficult and insidious struggle than we face in the flesh. This is not for the faint-hearted. Only those who have the wisdom and spiritual discernment that comes from the fear of God need apply.  All others would fall into the delusion of Satan’s hypnotic sway.

And that is what has happened to so many in the Church who, at one time, launched into the Gospel with all fire and zeal, only to become sophisticated and succumb to the Sirens of Prosperity and a Worldly Gospel.

[the complete booklet, Nigeria-2012, and other booklets like that are available at: revivalfire.org/booklets.htm ]

 

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Another article from the booklet, Nigeria-2012


Nigeria is a very different place. I’m not sure how different it is from the surrounding countries in West Africa, but it sure is a lot different than any of the other places in East Africa that I’ve been to.

Your first impression when you get off the plane feels slightly out of focus. On the surface, everything seems the same as other African countries, and yet there something that lies just beneath it that you can’t quite put your finger on.  It’s just different somehow.  A somber blanket lies in the air that lends a subdued feeling to everything. There isn’t that feeling of color and laughter in the air.  It’s as if Nigeria has stepped out of Technicolor into a world that is colored in shades of grey. Life is a serious undertaking here.

Is it the culture? Is it just the way it is?  Or is it something deeper than that makes everything seem so drab – something deeply spiritual in nature?

I have spent the last two weeks bringing a message of revival to several churches whose hearts are turned to God for something other than the same old stuff that they have been hearing.  Something different has to happen. Their desperation for a true move of God is rising and pushing past the ineffective platitudes of blessings and good things that have been promised to them free of charge. It’s not working and they know it.  I am embarrassed to say that these messages of false prosperity and unmerited blessings have poured forth from America, and so many innocent people have believed that, because America has been so blessed, this message must be true.

By now, however, they are beginning to realize that it’s not working.  Something is missing.  This is not the same gospel that our grandfathers preached and they are not getting the same results.  We have forgotten something along the way as we followed the Pied Pipers of Prosperity and Blessings off into a modern Gospel that is softer and more “loving” than that old message of repentance and the fear of God. Our Bible colleges churned out a new generation of pastors and taught them to discard the old God of Judgment for a new God of Love.  And in the process, we lost something so vital in the Church that we don’t know how to find our way back.

Satan has done such a complete job of turning our focus onto ourselves that we don’t even realize how far we have turned from the Cross.  The message that I bring is predicated upon the concept that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not about you – it is about others – and revival will not come until we turn our focus to the lost that are dying in sin.   But no matter how hard I drive this message home, I will often hear another preacher get up right after me an promise the same people all kinds of new blessings, new deliverances, new miracles in their lives … all for free!  And the crowd that just bowed their heads in recognition of their own self-serving ways will jump to their feet and cheer as this new preacher promises them all kinds of blessings and negates everything that I just preached.  Just human nature, I guess.

Revival is not free — neither is it cheap — and breaking through this cloud that covers their Pollyanna Gospel mindset, not only in Nigeria but all across Africa, is essential before any move of God will come. Is this the spiritual cloud I feel here that sucks the life and joy out of the very air? Could it be that Satan has entrenched himself here in Nigeria as his last stand of resistance to stop revival at any cost? Is Nigeria the last bastion of darkness that must be conquered to allow the Great African Revival to break forth?

Many here believe that Nigeria is highly chosen for this great move of God and that is why Satan has concentrated his darkness to destroy this nation.  It is not the sinners he must control; it’s the Christians.  And what better way than to lull them into a false sense of security with a “love gospel” that has worked since he first used it in the Garden of Eden.  It’s all about you. Don’t worry.  Hakuna Matata. Thou shalt not surely die because God loves you. Here, take a bite.

There are heroes here in Nigeria. Men and women who are willing to take a stand that will invoke the ire of the Church in an attempt to wake them up.  Many will hear the call of the trumpet and rise to the challenge.  Many will not, but will resist and attack those who will. Battle lines are forming, choices are being made, and destinies are being decided.  It is a time for war, and Nigeria is the battleground.

“Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand;”  (Joel 2:1)

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