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Posts Tagged ‘great awakening’

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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The call to bring revival to a nation is not something that can be accomplished through any strength or wisdom that we possess in ourselves. No matter how badly you want to plunge into the fray and proclaim liberty in the land, the power to bring the presence and power of God that will ignite the Church is not something that can be flippantly learned in Seminary or produced with any carnally designed program. Only God can do that, and only in complete surrender are we able to lend ourselves as crucified vessels that He can work through. Frank Bartleman, in recounting an encounter he had with the Lord, wrote that the Lord told him after he had received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, “If you were only small enough, I could do anything with you.”

Ah, here’s lies the crux, almost a Catch-22 if you would. How does one maintain, or better put, achieve that place of true humility so that God can use you to do His mighty works? On the one hand, we strive to get to that place of righteousness to have power in God while at the same time, try to be stay in that broken, crucified walk in God so we can be yielded to His power. How does one strike that perfect balance? Sounds simple … or is it?

David had it; Saul did not. Perhaps that was because, for Saul, it was always about Saul. When he was little in his own eyes, he was found hiding amongst the stuff, but a couple years later, he was such a big shot that he didn’t think he had to wait on God’s prophet. For David, on the other hand, it was never about David; it was always about God. Because of that, he was able to take on Goliath as a kid, and later as an adult with just a couple other guys, the entire Philistine army. (2Samuel 23:9)

Any man of God who has had the power of God work through him will immediately be attacked by the enemy. Whether it is miracle healings, dynamic preaching, or supernatural revelation, no sooner does one experience the touch of God’s hand than that little wisp will pass through the back of his mind that, yes it was God’s power, but … ahem … He did choose to use you! Satan will lightly sneak those thoughts in as subtly as he can. Obviously, if you think about it hard enough, you will recognize the devil’s handiwork, so he keeps as light a touch as he can … and then another … and then another, merging them ever so slightly into the several streams of your thoughts until he can find an anchor somewhere in your heart to attach his lines of vanity and plant his seeds of pride.

The challenge that faces a man of God who desires to be used in a supernatural way, therefore, lies in how to be “meet for the Master’s use” (2 Timothy 2:21) and yet keep his ego and self completely invisible. God does not bestow His power on just anybody. He may work through anybody, but He is careful to whom He entrusts His power. We must be careful that our desire to be used by God is not rooted in our own self image or desire for position in God, but entirely upon the promotion of the kingdom of God. As I Corinthians 13 tells us, you can all the faith to move mountains, but if you do not have charity, it is worth nothing.

Easily said; not so easily achieved. Any fool can spout off religious platitudes that boast of unearned righteousness and spirituality, but it is an entirely different matter to fight your way through the spiritual swamp of fleshly ego and pride that you have to negotiate through to arrive at that place where God can use you.

I often hear young Christians naively spout off that they have been called to be a prophet. My first response is to tell them to pray and beg God to change His mind and please choose someone else because you will die a thousand deaths before you enter into that calling.

Ego, pride, and self-awareness must be burned out of you before you are ready to enter into that place of real power. God will give it to you in pieces – just enough to lift you up so He can break you down again. Line upon line, one step at a time, until you gradually become empty of self. Jacob had his Laban, Joseph his prison, and Moses his desert, and you will have your desert place of cauterizing fire to take the “you” out of you so God can fill you up with Himself. His goal is not to change you, but to kill you. You are to be purified into transparent glass so that when people look at you, it is not you that they see, but the fire of God that is in you.

And so with the power that works through you, there is a deep innate understanding that it is not you but God who is working through you to do these miracles. You are nothing but dust and ashes; you don’t even own the breath in your body. You are dead in Christ, crucified to the world, numb to pride and arrogance. Any place that Satan could have gotten hold of has been broken away. You have finally surrendered to God.

When you are no longer mindful about yourself or your spiritual place in God – when you just simply do not care anymore – then you are finally “meet for the Master’s use” and ready to wield the power of God so that He, and He alone, will get the glory.

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We’re done in the Congo. What a different experience that was!  I am glad to be done but I feel like I am missing something and there’s a slight heaviness inside me.

There was something about the Congo that was very hard and dark and was like pushing through a swamp of thick darkness, like wading through soup.  Hard to describe, but you’d know what I meant if you had been here.  Nigeria is similar, but with a different feel.  Don’t ask me to explain it.

I’ve been in dark places before and they are always hard, but something about the Congo wore me out.  True, I was preaching two and three times a day with few breaks.  Typical “church preaching”, which is more like giving a spiritual lecture to your friends, does not wear you out, but when the anointing falls down on you and washes through you and pours out over the pulpit, it drains you like nothing else.  You can ask Noah. He can tell you what it has been like and how drained I am at the end of the day.

Still, there was something hard about the Congo that wore me out after barely 3 or 4 weeks. Maybe if I had read more or prayed harder; maybe my physical health was not fully recovered from the heart attack; maybe it was the weather,… Whatever it was, I ran out of gas after Uvira.  They had cancelled the meetings in Kalemi because the rebels were fighting along the road that led to that city, and they made some quick arrangements for a small place called Baraka.  I could have gone.  Actually, I could have gone to Kalemie if I had just taken the boat around the fighting.  But I didn’t.  I grasped at what seemed like a wonderful opportunity to run.

Nobody blames me, especially Noah.  He was going through the same stuff that I was and was just as ready to go as I was.  Baraka seemed like a poor substitute for Kalemie.  It was hastily slapped together and I’m not even sure the people in Baraka were expecting me, so it was not a big deal if I didn’t go.  Everyone knew I had been pushing hard this past month, even too hard.

But none of that reassures me.  I could have gone.  Maybe I could have made an eternal difference in who knows how many lives.  Maybe they would have burst into revival and lit the fires everywhere else.  Maybe, maybe. But I didn’t go. I simply ran out of gas.

I am now sitting in Uganda in a nice hotel, burning up $75 a day.  True, I need to organize the Ladies of Hope with their purses, get pictures and videos, and figure out the shipping and whatever else is needed to streamline the process – a much needed thing that cannot be done from home.  I will also visit the Pygmies, which will do wonders to encourage them since they look at me as the Grandfather who was responsible for starting the whole movement that led to their salvations.  And I will visit some churches that have been pleading for years for me to come.  All good things, but did I miss a calling when I did not push through to Kalemie?

Folks will say not to beat myself up, look at all you have done, but I remember learning early that the call of God will press you to take it all the way through and not stop just short of total victory.  The heart of the struggle will always be in that last push at the end.  That is true about all aspects of serving the Lord, including prayer and fasting, seeking His face, and overcoming sin.  It’s that last drive to overcome that makes us victorious.

Some will say that I am preaching a hardline Gospel that is extreme — and they would be correct — but it is against a backdrop of the stark reality of a vicious, intense spiritual war that cannot be seen with the carnal eyes but which is more real than the world we see.  Wars are not won by compromise, neither are battles won by giving in to excuses.  God gives us the power to fight those battles to the victory, but we must avail ourselves of that power.  He won’t do it for us, but He will give us the power to do it.  And He never said it would be easy.

I don’t know if I was supposed to soldier on to Kalemi or not.  Maybe I would have been so worn out and empty that I couldn’t have delivered what they needed to receive.  Or maybe He would have picked me up and kept me going.  Who knows?  I do know this, however, that the battle for the Congo has only just started.  These were the opening salvos in what will be a ferocious struggle to break through the decayed walls of dead religion and rekindle the fires of revival.  They know that the message I bring has shattered the chains that they are under right now. They can see the victory.  We just have to push it all the way through.

I don’t know if I will be able to get back there. Money is the biggest challenge facing me. I am only able to do what I do because of a handful of faithful donors, but so much more is needed.  Ultimately, however, it is not up to me to fight their battles for them – my job is simply to point them in the right direction.  I may strike the match, but they have to fan the flames. Wars are not fought by single persons but by the entire army.

You may say, what does that have to do with me?  I am sitting in Christian America, sedate and secure. We have churches everywhere and everyone knows the Gospel.  Yes, but you have no revival. Just a bunch of Laodecian churches, smothered in their comfort and mediocrity.  I am convinced that our spiritual revival depends on the battles that are being fought right now in Africa.  The fire will begin there and spread around the world.

The War of Armageddon has begun.  It is being fought in prayer rooms as true Christians rise up to meet the challenge and tear into the fervor of battle on their knees.  It is just beginning, but the intensity will rise as we approach the focal point of the final battle. Warriors will be forged and heroes will rise; battles will be fought and victories will be won; but they will not be won through compromise or excuses.  We have been called to fight, to overcome, and to win.

 

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Wow. Services today were beyond belief! It was like something you read about in a book about revivals. Something broke through today and these people will never be the same.

This has been Day 4 in a village called Kihihi, way out on the western edge of Uganda. Zaire is only a few miles down the road. There are gorillas somewhere around here that tourists come to see, but other than that, while it is not exactly remote, this place is pretty rural. Nobody ever comes here to hold Gospel meetings, never mind a white guy from America. But then, these are the kinds of places that the Lord has been sending me to for six years now, so what else is new?

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People have been coming from everywhere, filling the place up. The church is a rude affair of sticks cobbled together to form the walls and roof and covered with a huge plastic tarp that has “US Aid” printed all over it. When it rains, it leaks all over.  But that doesn’t stop anyone – they just keep coming.

For three days the intensity has been increasing. Services start at 10 am and last straight through until 2 pm. That includes lots of singing and praying out loud and not one, but two messages from me. Then we come back after lunch at 4 pm for the 3rd service, and then immediately go into the open air crusade outside until late at night. I go back to the hotel after the 3rd service to recharge my battery, but Barry goes out to preach at the crusade. Two hundred souls have been saved here in the last few days – that’s 200, as in two hundred!

The excitement in the air can be felt in the reverberations that come from the praying … no, praying is not quite a strong enough word … more like intense war, the thick of combat, the smoke of battle and the victory that only strong faith can lay claim to. Our revival prayer meetings back in the States are anemic in comparison.  And this is just during the regular service!  When I call for repentance and rededication at the end of the message it is like unleashing a storm! You just cannot imagine what it is like unless you are here to experience it.  Just ask Barry when he gets home. He has never seen anything like it.

Tonight was the last service for me.  Before leaving, I wanted to at least have a time of prayer for healing sicknesses, both physical and spiritual. Pastor Noah started off by asking for testimonies, and a whole bunch of them came up to tell the things that had happened to them – some spiritual, some about the things they had learned, and some about how they got healed during the services.  And THEN we started the healing line.

Let me just say that the more I prayed over them, the longer the line got. (It’s always that way). We started with the usual aches, pains, and headaches. All those pains left. Then came a whole array of more serious things, like bleedings and paralyzed limbs.  Gone.  And then came a man who was deaf.  (Oh Lord, I need some help here. This would be a good time for you to show up.  I don’t know why I think it is easier to heal headaches than deafness, but Lord, everybody is watching so please help me out here.)

I didn’t really know what to do, but I had heard somewhere about a guy sticking his fingers in a deaf person’s ears and praying over him. Sounded like a good idea to me, so that’s what I did. I even popped my fingers out of his ear for a dramatic effect. (Was that supposed to help?)  Nada, nope, nothing. Still can’t hear.  Not to be denied, I prayed again (this time without the finger popping), and I prayed hard.

Pastor Noah started walking backwards from him, “Can you hear me now?” “Yes”.

A little further back, “Can you hear me now?”  “Yes”

And so on, all the way to the back of the church. Way back there, I could barely hear Noah, but this deaf man heard him perfectly!

Am I jazzed?  Ya think? Somewhere about 20 to 30 people got healed – almost everyone that came up. Yes, there was one boy with a large tumor that, when I prayed over him, did not disappear. Maybe it will later, I don’t know, but it didn’t vanish on the spot like I expected. That’s a real bummer, but I don’t know what else to do. Maybe this gift of healing is a thing that grows as your faith expands. I hope so, because the look of desperate relief on the faces of the people who did get healed is priceless.

Something huge happened in Kihihi. Huge. You could feel it in the air like something broke through some long established spiritual walls.  Old theological ideas were smashed, personal wants were traded for a burden for lost souls, and a long ago buried faith that had been almost smothered by a mediocre church burst out of the grave and rose again in people’s hearts. They will never be the same … ever.

Neither will I

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Day 3 out here in Kumi was incredible, but Day 4 was flat.

Uganda9aOh, I guess the message was good and all that, but the fire and power just seemed to be missing. Maybe it was just me. I’m sure if you asked the people, they would tell you how great services was, but it sure wasn’t like yesterday … at least to me anyway.

I struggled all the way to the hotel and into the night. Did I do something wrong? Maybe I got a little too cocky from yesterday’s services and just expected the power to be right there at my fingertips.  After so many years of this, you’d think by now that I would have it down pat, but there is never a service that I go into that I am not nervous. I am constantly aware of how inadequate I am. Oh God, please send down the power! And He always does … just some days more than others. But there is always a message.  Always. And it is always the right one.

I think maybe I get so tense because so much is riding on it.  I remember being told that mistakes in this business, unlike any other business, are fatal.  Amen. We will make mistakes, but I don’t want to minimize them by just assuming that God will cover everything in the Blood just because.

Anyway, I was awake at 4 am and started praying. I’m not even sure I did anything wrong, but Lord, if I did, please forgive me for their sakes.  And as I was praying, I started to laugh. It was like He was right there in the room.  Everything was okay. It was cool. Just get up and keep doing what you’re doing and remember … it’s not about you.  (Yeah. Hold that thought.)

Uganda9bI’ve been reading some books from Leonard Ravenhill, and he really drives hard about prevailing prayer and intercessory prayer. It sure would be nice if I had some intercessory prayer warriors behind me – you know, the kind who travail in prayer through the night in agonizing battle to tear down strongholds. Yeah, we need some of them. As I was reading I realized that I don’t know anyone who is an intercessory prayer warrior, not even one! Maybe they’re somewhere in secret like Elijah’s 7,000.  I sure hope so, because I could really use them to hold me up.

Anyway, today was much better. Yesterday, the pastors wanted me to anoint them with oil and pray over them. Today, the people in the congregation came up and wanted me to pray over them. This is serious, covenant-making, dedication-type prayer. They know they are taking a step that they cannot ever go back on, but they are serious about this and want it sealed with the anointing.

And then, here comes the healing line … Some folks have come here from the last place I was at, the church out in the bush, and told them about the healings we had there. These folks want the same thing to happen here. It doesn’t seem that I have much of a choice in the matter, so we launched into it.

I used be able to feel the anointing as it flowed through me into the people I prayed for.  Sometimes it was like oil and sometimes like electricity, but lately I don’t feel it like I used to except every once in a while. That’s what it was like today.  I prayed, I anointed, and they told me they were healed … but I didn’t feel anything! I wonder why I used to feel the anointing flow but don’t any more. (sigh) I guess as long as they are getting healed, what’s the difference?  That is, as long as they are really getting healed and not just saying so for my sake. (There I go again questioning myself.) You go through a lot of tidal forces out here pulling you one way and then another. I guess that’s just the nature of the beast.

But they did get healed and gave great testimonies of the fact. I think the difference with these people is that, unlike Americans, they just simply expect it, so it isn’t the great unexpected surprise that it is to us. They carry a simplicity about them that gives them the power to believe.

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[these articles were written during a trip to Uganda in 2011]

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ImageGilbert Tennent, by David Smithers

It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.”  (Psalm 119:71) 

It was upon the bed of affliction that Gilbert Tennent was taught of God. In approximately 1728 this young gifted Presbyterian minister become extremely ill. Uncertain if he would recover, he entered into a deep vision of eternity and time of repentance. He writes, “I was then exceedingly grieved I had done so little for God . . . I therefore prayed to God that He would be pleased to give me one half year more. I was determined to promote His kingdom with all my might and at all adventures.”

Mr. Tennent’s prayer was answered, and he was revived in both body and spirit. He labored as never before to, “Sound the trumpet of God’s judgment and alarm the secure by the terrors of the Lord.” He was a man literally consumed with a vision of the holiness of God. As a result he urgently warned the stubborn sinner and hypocrite of a final judgment and eternal hell. The anointed George Whitefield writes of him, “Hypocrites must soon be converted or enraged at his preaching. He is a son of thunder and does not regard the face of man. He is deeply sensible of the deadness and formality of the Christian church in these parts, and has given noble testimonies against it.” Gilbert Tennent preached as if “never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men.”  His preaching was far from typical of his day. A historian of the “Great Awakening” describes the average minister’s methods, “The habit of the preachers was to address their people as though they were all pious and only needed instruction and confirmation. It was not a common thing to proclaim the terrors of a violated law and insist on the absolute necessity of regeneration.”

Mr. Tennent himself describes this kind of popular preaching. “They often strengthened the hands of the wicked by promising them life. They comfort people before they convince them; sow before they plow: and are busy in raising a fabric before they lay a foundation. These foolish builders strengthen men’s carnal security by their soft, selfish, cowardly discourses. They have not the courage or honesty to thrust the nail of terror into the sleeping souls!” From 1736 through the 1740’s, Gilbert Tennent’s ministry was greatly blessed in promoting revival among the middle colonies in America. His ministry overlapped and supported the ministries of such godly men as Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield. He carried with him the very seeds of revival, and when he preached, REVIVAL FIRE FELL. It must be remembered that the American church in the 18th century would probably have died of dry rot without the Spirit-filled ministry, of Gilbert Tennent. During one of Bostons most severe winters, people waded through the snow night and day for the benefit of hearing the fiery Tennent preach. “You could criticize him; you could praise him; but you could not ignore him!” No one slumbered peacefully when he was around; not even the church. Gilbert Tennent was in truth, the voice of one crying in the wilderness – REPENT!

He could boldly warn men of the wrath of God because he had boldly agonized and travailed for their souls, “Often his soul wept in secret for the pride and obstinacy of those who refused to be reclaimed.” Throughout Tennent’s ministry he kept his zeal and love for Christ fervent through constant prayer. “He made prayer his chief and most delightful employment.”

Proverbs 27:1 says, “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth..” We have no promise of another day or even another hour, yet we too often live and breathe for the things of this world. What we desperately need is a revelation of eternity, of a real hell, and of a God who is to be loved and feared! If we truly had such a vision, we would not let one day go by without urgently warning the sinner and backslider. We would not let one hour go by without fervently praying for a true heaven sent revival.

Original article: http://www.watchword.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=44

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