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Posts Tagged ‘Christianity’

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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There is one question that I have never been asked:  “How do you know you are saved?”  Really, in 47 years, no one has ever asked me that.  That amazes me.

I’ve been challenged why I believed certain things, and, as the Bible commands us, I have studied so I can give a good answer for them.  I certainly don’t want to believe something just because somebody told me so.  I did that when I was a kid, but I learned quickly that grown-ups aren’t always right – and, surprisingly, even teen-agers aren’t always right.  No, you have to let God reveal His Truth to you through His Word so you know for sure what is right.

I’ve also been told that I’m a lot of things – some not so good.  Well that kind of goes with the territory when you take a stand for what you know is right (see the paragraph above) — that is, if you’ve got the guts to make that stand

But nobody has ever asked how I knew that I was really saved.  Why is that?

Maybe it’s because the proof of my salvation does not lie in religious expositions of theological nonsense, or a piece of paper that says I have been “confirmed”, or an adherence to a tradition of showing up for church every week, or even that I said a prayer once upon a time at the altar.  To me, that’s not proof of anything.

I know I’m saved because I can feel the Spirit of God.

That’s it.  It’s just that simple.  I can actually feel the Spirit.

I may not be floating around on some ethereal cloud all the time, but when I go to the Throne of God in prayer, the Spirit of God responds.  Jesus said the Spirit was like the wind, and that makes sense to me – you can’t see it, but you sure can feel it.

When I read the Word of God, there are times when He will open up a scripture with what you can only call a supernatural revelation.  Is that so hard to believe?  Paul talks about it happening in his churches all the time.  Boy, when that happens, you know you just heard from the Lord!

There are other times when the Lord has literally spoken to me.  I’ll tell you what, when that happens to you, ain’t nobody can tell you that you ain’t saved!  Now, I realize that’s a hard nut for some people to swallow, but what do you want me to say?  That it didn’t happen?  It’s not like I’m the only one that the Lord has spoken to or shown a vision to.  Lot’s of folks have that happen to them.

I know some people will immediately say that you can’t go by “feelings”, but that you have to base your faith on the Bible because it is the ultimate authority.  True, but the Bible plainly says that the Spirit and the Word agree.  If you’re in the Spirit, you will line up with the Word, and if you’re in the Word, you’ll be in the Spirit.  What’s so hard about that?  Maybe if you don’t feel the Spirit then you need to read and pray more – and try your hand at some fasting while you’re at it.

I’ll tell you how important I think this is – if I did not feel the Spirit of God, I’d be scared to death.  Although there are times when you have to go through “faith walks”, you always come out of those valleys with increased faith, and the Spirit of God is always right there to pour out on you when you come out.  But, if I didn’t feel the Holy Ghost, I would feel like I was cut off, and that’s worse than scary.

I’ve got something real to base my faith on.  I know I’m right with God because He is right there with me and I can feel His Holy Spirit, and that is enough to sustain me through anything.  It is the Shekinah Glory that makes me know that I am in the Spirit of God.

If you know what it is like to actually feel the Holy Ghost, then you know what it is like to have that communion with God and know that you know that you know that you are right with God. But If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’re missing out on the most wonderful thing in Life, and you need to find out soon.

The Spirit of God gives you a life and an excitement that actually makes you glow from the inside out.  Without it, though, all you’ve got is religion — and religion can’t save your soul.  There is a difference that can be felt.

Maybe that’s why I’ve never been asked that question.  It must show on my face.

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Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish’s belly, 2And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice. 3For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me.

4Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.

(Jonah 2:1-4)

He could hear the waves crashing behind him, sweeping the water up the sand, never quite coming close to his feet. The whale lay there half in and half out of the water, its life running out of it with every last wheezing breath. Jonah was alone on the beach. He was alive, but more than that, God had heard him down in the whale’s belly and had brought him forth into the daylight that he had almost despaired of seeing again.

But here he was, standing alone on the beach on dry land, next to this great dying body of a fish that had committed suicide to bring him here. God had delivered him so completely that he hadn’t even gotten his feet wet. And now it was time for the mission that he had run away from not even a week ago.

Jonah is not a classic example of gratitude. Jonah cared more about himself than the salvation of 120,000 people. He went ahead and prophesied to the Ninevites as he was commanded to do, but his heart wasn’t in it. He was actually more grateful for a tree that gave him shade than the great deliverance God had done for him.

Why is that? As a young Christian, I was taught that if you had a thankful heart, you would never backslide, and I have seen the truth of that over the years, but how does one develop a thankful heart?

I don’t believe gratitude comes from circumstances or things that have happened to you as much as it does from a thankful heart that has already been planted within you. Gratitude is more the blossoming of an attitude you already have rather than the genesis of a new one.  And I believe it is tied to charity.

One of the six principles of revival that I preach about is that the gospel is not about you; it is about others. This is the central message of the Cross; it is the essence of who and what Christ was. Charity is the essential element, not only to entering into a vibrant and deep walk in God, but to seeing the power of God work in your life. Charity is Jesus Christ working in you.

You would think that gratitude would be about what happens to us rather than to others, but the seeds of gratitude cannot find a place to grow in the stony rock of a cold heart. They can only find purchase in the cultivated soil of a heart that is not only thankful, but is softened with that thing about charity that turns our focus to others, dismisses our own situation, and rejoices in what God has done for all.

Gratitude is tied to the Cross.

“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

8Charity never faileth …” (1 Cor. 13: 4-8)

 

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I have a few questions that I can’t seem to get answers for.

When we have a healing line, sometimes I can feel the Holy Spirit flow into them as they get healed, and sometimes I can’t. Why is that?

We just had another healing line today. This time in the church in Ozoro, and this was one of those times I couldn’t feel anything.

There were probably around thirty people in line, and every one of them said the pain was gone, or their back was fixed, or whatever was wrong was now right. One lady had bad vision and now she could see. I stopped a couple times to admonish them not to say they were healed if they were not. Sure enough, a few of them would tell me that one problem got healed, but that I would have to pray over another problem. Then they would twist around or shake their hands and jump up and shout, “Praise the Lord, the pain is gone”. I’m pretty sure they weren’t faking it.

There was one lady that had “something in her stomach”. Immediately I thought of a lady in Uganda who had what felt like a huge snake rolling around inside her as soon as I laid hands on her. Sure enough, as soon as I laid hands on this lady, she started rolling around screaming. And then we went to tussling. Took a few minutes, but I think I got it. You can never tell with those things. Demons know how to hide so you think they are cast out, but usually you can feel a whoosh when they are gone.

There were a couple like her in the lineup, but mostly just aches and pains which were real enough to them to come up to get healed.

But I didn’t feel anything when they got healed.  Well, I take that back. There times I did feel it, but only faintly. There have been times in the past that it would feel like electricity or like a river of oil, so why not now?  Shouldn’t I feel something?

And another thing – if the Spirit of the Lord is flowing through me to heal all these people, what about me? Shouldn’t I be getting healed too? Or is this like a “pass-through” thing where It totally ignores you while it’s passing through? Not even a “Hi, how are you?” while it’s rushing through you?

The nearest I can figure is that the anointing is like a laser. It only affects the spot that it is focused on. But not always. Maybe. I think. Sort of.

I’ve listened to several so-called experts who have analyzed all this stuff and have lots of answers about how the healing power of God works. The problem is that most of them have never actually healed anybody. Why is it that those who know the least act like they know the most?

The older I get, the more I realize that the more I learn, the less I understand. Creation is that big and eternal things are that mysterious.

I know He’s looking down at me while I’m asking these questions. Maybe He thinks it’s funny. Maybe He could use a good laugh, so he lets me go on in my quandary. In the end, He is going to do it His way anyway.  Maybe we’re not supposed to know.

“It is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but the honor of kings is to search out a matter.”
(Proverbs 25:2)

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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One more week to go. Well, almost. (Can you tell that I’m ready to come home?) Whenever I get to this point, I start reaching out to the finish line and try to think of it in bite-sized pieces. One more week sounds better than 10 more days.

This whole mission has not been bad at all. The schedule has been easy – mostly just one service a day – and the congregations that I’ve preached to have been wildly enthusiastic.  That always makes you feel good when the people get that excited when you preach. We’ve had one healing line so far and, as usual, everyone who came to get prayed over got healed. Nothing serious, but hey, a miracle is a miracle. What a great thing it is when miracles become routine!

Even though everything is going well, I am still ready to come home. It’s not the food or the room or the people. It’s just time to go home. Something inside me is just plain bone tired. This is the part of the mission field that you don’t often hear about. We talk about the altar calls, the presence of the Spirit of God in services, and the miracle healings that take place. Or we tell the stories of how the devil pulled some crazy stunt to either stop, hinder, or kill us. It’s fun to tell these “war stories” about the grand adventure we are on, but what we don’t share is the slowing down of time until the tick-tocks of the clock, like the dripping of water, slows to a crawl. That’s the part that is difficult to relate.

And why would we? It certainly isn’t any more fun to hear than it is to tell. And honestly, it’s just part of the journey. Our focus should stay riveted on the vision, the reason why we are here. That is the thing that drives us forward to get past the obstacles and hardships in the path. This is war, and we are the soldiers. We have come to fight and to claim victory, not complain and glorify the devil.

Things are a bit different here in Nigeria, though, than in other places. In East Africa, we usually see instant victories of deliverance, salvation, and rejoicing. You can feel the reality of a coming move of God there because the message is so liberating that it spreads like wildfire. Those people embrace the promise so much that you can hear the echo across churches everywhere. They not only believe it; they expect it.

But in Nigeria, the feeling is different. I’m not sure if it is something in their culture that gives them that taciturn sternness in their demeanor or is it the enormity of the corruption and greed that you find here. Everybody is friendly, but smiles are not as easy or as readily seen as in East Africa. There is a lack of color here that reflects the feeling in the air. Whereas in Kenya, you see lots of bright yellows, reds, and greens, here everything is painted in the pallor of more somber tones and shades of grey and brown.  They are a serious people. They want God, and they are excited about the message, and they believe it, but there just seems to be a lack of real joy.

The other thing that dampens the spirit in Nigeria is the degree of corruption and greed. Corruption is endemic here – and I’m talking about in the Church, not just the rest of the society. It not only colors their attitudes but, like a thick blanket of smog, it chokes their spirits. The government officials are pocketing billions of oil money, so that the revenue never reaches down to the population. And then the Church leaders and religious charlatans rob the people of what they have left with false promises of prosperity. And the people are so desperate for hope and for God to bless them that they keep on getting suckered every time someone promises them free money and blessings. Even when they know it’s a lie.

Why are they so easily swayed? I believe it is because their souls are in such need. They want a way out of this financial, social, and spiritual oppression so badly that they will grasp at even a faint whisper of hope, no matter how wrong it is.

This oppression in Nigeria is an enormous mountain that must be moved before revival can sweep across Africa, but the magnitude of the task is so large that it seems impossible. The victory looks like it is miles and miles down the road. How will we ever be able to break through this mountain and turn Nigeria around? It seems like it would take a hundred Elijah’s to make a difference here. What can one guy do, one service at a time, one small church at a time, as we compete with Satan for the soul of Nigeria.

I don’t know. All I know is to put one foot in front of the other and keep walking. The message is the same, the Spirit of God is the same, and the vision has not changed. We keep moving forward because the world is depending on revival to start here in Africa. Even when time slows down to a crawl, we cannot quit.

I know that if you want to move a mountain, you have to exercise faith. It is the very substance of things hoped for and is what drives you on past the things that would discourage you. Your faith has to be bigger than the task before you.

Faith is birthed from hope and is the thing forges your vision.  And a vision is what enables you to grab hold of the victory that can move any mountain. A vision is blind to the facts and details that stand before you, but sees over the horizon with eyes of faith to see what God sees and what is possible with only Him. That is why Satan fears a man or a woman with a vision for God because he can’t reach where that vision goes.

But the secret element for a vision is that it is never about you. A vision pulls you out of yourself and is focused on the commission that Jesus Christ gave us when He left – others.

Time then becomes, not the slow drag of weariness, but a cadence to inevitable victory.

Tick Tock.

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