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Posts Tagged ‘preaching’

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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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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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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“Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness unto all men.” Titus 3:1

(Sounds like good advice for our political candidates.  I wonder if any of them have read this.)

Of all the commandments in the Bible, these have been some of the hardest for me to keep.  The big sins that we all know about are obvious – don’t commit fornication, don’t get drunk, don’t lie, don’t steal, etc.  It’s relatively easy to avoid them because they are so blatant.

If I want to shoot some Pool, I need to go to the Bowling Alley instead of a topless bar.  If I want some trinket bad enough, I need to go to work and pay for it instead of stealing it.  If I am caught in a tough situation, better I should just shut up than lie my way out of it.

Okay.  That seems simple enough.  I can do that.

Then there are all those commandments that we make up.  And there’s a bunch of them.

Like you have to go to church on Sunday and sit through some theological dissertation that is intellectually endowed, but spiritually lifeless.  Somehow that misses the whole purpose of church.  I want to go where the power of God is experienced, not just talked about.

Or, you can’t wear lipstick, or you can’t talk about religion, or you have to be nice, or you have to dress nice, or you can’t have long hair, or you can’t smoke a cigarette, and on and on.

Yeah, I can do all those things too.  I don’t think that’s what is going to get me into Heaven, but that’s all right.  It’s a lot easier to go along with a lot of this stuff just to avoid the hassle.

But I really get stuck on attitudes and social skills.  It’s hard for me to keep my mouth shut sometimes when I see things that are just dead wrong — especially when it concerns people who are supposed to be in authority as leaders of the Church.

Is it speaking evil when you call a preacher to task for being lukewarm?  Is it being a brawler when you confront the con artists on TV that make lying promises based on how much money they can suck out of poor unsuspecting Christians?  Am I required to obey some supposed spiritual big shot when they are leading the people down a path that leads to Judgment just because they have a Ph.D.?

Does meekness mean being submissive to leaders who have no power in God and have lost their way?  Am I just supposed to be nice?

I guess I’m just a very baaaad boy.  But I take comfort in the fact that I’m in good company.  The old prophets were the same way – in fact, they were worse.  Even Jesus whipped them out of the Temple and called them some pretty nasty names.  And don’t get Peter, Paul, and James started!  They had a few choice words also.

I guess I’m just an old-fashioned, Holy Ghost Texas preacher with a New York attitude who doesn’t give a rip what they think.  If they’re a Jack of Spades, then they ain’t no Ace of Hearts.

I once asked the Lord back when I was preaching on the radio if we could please tone these messages down a bit. The messages were fierce every week. And they were directed by name to the local pastors. They were hearing all this outrageous rebukes. And I do mean outrageous.

“After all”, I explained, “I’m not making any friends here.  In case you hadn’t noticed, God, these guys are not exactly asking me to go bowling with them on Fridays.”

You know what the answer was?

While I was praying, the Spirit of God came down, and I could feel that ice cold feeling like, “Uh oh, I’m in trouble again”.
He spoke directly to me (and yes, God does speak directly to us):

“That is not your broadcast,
and that is not your message,
and they are not your people.
Now, you tell them what I tell you to tell them … and you tell them I sent you!”

And He didn’t sound very nice when He told me that.

Brother Dale

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“Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him…” Mk 6:20

If you picked up a newspaper today and saw that John the Baptist was holding revival services at a local church, would you drop everything you’re doing to make it there?  How about Elijah?  or Peter?  Would it be because they are famous?  Or is it because you would expect to hear a man speak with authority in God?

Souls are drawn to men of God who can stand up in the power and authority of God.  Revivals are poured out on anointed vessels to whom people flock to hear the Word of God and see the amazing outpouring of the Holy Spirit work.  They came to Jesus to be healed, but stayed to listen because He spoke with authority.

We need that authority today.  Actually, we are desperate to see a man of God stand up in that kind of power and authority.  We have a lot of nice preachers, quite a few charlatans, and a whole pile of evangelists who would have you believe that they are the vanguards of the next great move of God, but we don’t have any John the Baptist’s, Elijah’s, or Paul’s.  Why is that?

Search the Scriptures and you will find that the kind of power and authority we are referring to only comes the hard way.  We all read and pray, but how many of us STORM the Throne?  We fast, but how many of us crucify our flesh?  And what is it that we seek the face of God for?  For ourselves, or for the lost souls of others?  All this only lifts us up to a higher plateau in God.

The real holy boldness, the real strength and power in God, and the genuine authority in God only comes through the fear of the Lord.  That is what gives a man strong confidence, makes his face to shine, gives him that entrance into the presence of God’s power.  Moses’s knees smote together, David’s flesh trembled, the prophet’s spoke of Him being their dread, Paul feared and trembled.  It is the common attribute for every powerful man with authority in God.  And we need that today.

In the last 20 to 30 years, the message of the Fear of the Lord has been extracted from our pulpits and has been preached out of our hearts to the point that most Christians don’t even believe it anymore.  They’ve been told that Love is the most important element.  Read carefully, my friend.  The Love of God is not possible without the Fear of the Lord.  Neither is wisdom, understanding, depth, or power.  And we will not see revival, nor a strong move of God, nor another strong man of God to stand up in the kind of authority we so desperately need without the Fear of the Lord.

Brother Dale

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Mornings here are crisp and fresh and the sun feels sharp and strong. How refreshing it is to get up and meet the morning here!

My focus, however, is not so clear. We have been hard at it for over a month, starting with a 3-day conference in Rwanda, on to a week of services in the Congo, Burundi, back to Rwanda, and now finishing up in Uganda. We’ll have done 35 services by the end of tomorrow and I’m getting a little foggy. That’s why I haven’t written many articles on this trip. I’m just too tired.

But the reactions have been great. Service after service, these people get lit up and excited about the message. I suppose I should feel good that it feels like it has almost become routine. You know (yawn), just another supernatural service with the power of the Holy Ghost coming down. What else is new?

But it is anything but routine to these people. The Africans I meet in these small rural churches, and even in the bigger urban ones, have incredibly soft hearts. It is not hard to fall in love with them just by looking in their faces. Small wonder that after 10 years I keep coming back.

I will miss them. I will miss the rousing song services that lift your soul into the arms of God. I will miss the fresh exuberance they exhibit when they grasp what you’re saying and the light goes on in their heads. I will miss hearing them pray. And the altar calls of broken hearts crying out to God in deep passion for who knows how long. I will miss getting the reports of how the message transformed them and gave them the impetus to win souls, not only expanding their church, but planting more and more. They tell me, “You said to go out and win souls. So we did.” Hahaha. So you have. Keep going!

There comes a time when you have to step back from the sowing and allow the harvest to grow up out of the ground. Others will water and prune. And still others will harvest the crop. In the end, it is enough that I was here and had a part of what God is doing. I have always believed that the Great Last Days Revival spoken about in chapter 2 of Joel and in Isaiah 32 will begin here in Africa. Nowhere have I heard of a people with such a desperate hunger for God. God has to answer them.

The mornings are crisp and clear here and full of promise. A new day is beginning here. I may be tired and foggy, but I can feel the rays of promise cutting through the air.

Revival is coming.

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