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Posts Tagged ‘revival’

[This is a re-post from 2015]

Touch the Cross

Jesus on the Cross“If thou wert pure and upright; surely now he would awake for thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous. Though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end should greatly increase.”  
– Bildad the Shuhite, (Job 8:6).

“For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.” 
– Paul, (Philippians 1:29)

There has been a shift in our view of the personality of God.  I noticed it taking hold of the evangelical church world about 30 years ago, and it has established itself more firmly ever since.

The old fashioned view of a God of judgment has been mollified to one of a kinder, gentler God who was more attuned to a loving relationship with His children.  The old brush arbor revivalists are considered too hard in their outlook, mocked in Hollywood films, and are brushed aside as narrow-minded zealots who did not understand the mercy of God.  We have assumed that we have a better understanding of God because we are somehow more enlightened.

We have shifted our focus to the blessings, the love and mercy, and the goodness of God.  Yes, judgment is still there, but has been relegated more to the shadows off-stage than out in the spotlight.  The Fear of God, although undeniably written throughout the Word of God, has been analytically digested and presented as being more by the precept of men (Isaiah 29:13) than the emotionally charged issue of actual dread and fear (Isaiah 8:13).  God is now our Daddy.

Because there has been no momentous outpouring of the Holy Spirit in recent memory, we, like the Israelites of Sinai, feel that Moses had taken too long to come down from the mountain, so we’ve fashioned our own gods that have supposedly delivered us out of Egypt.

Seems to work pretty well.  It certainly feels much better, and is much more palatable than walking around under the cloud of intense holiness like our forefathers did.  It makes much more sense to the carnal mind.  After all, if you get saved, God will love you and pour out His unconditional Love all over you, right?.  No more dark valleys to walk through, no more refining fire to strip away your flesh, and no more sufferings of the Cross to bear.

It made sense to Bildad the Shuhite.

But not to Paul.

We are inundated with an easy Gospel that promises a wonderful time in Jesus.  We proclaim that there will be a great revival soon, and we sing and dance to the rhythm of the message, but we have not considered the price.  Our pastors who have taken over the pulpits in the last 20-some-odd years have regurgitated the message they heard in Bible College and are not even aware that something is missing.  But hey, it sure feels good, doesn’t it?

So we continue to sing and dance and line up for someone can touch us so we can fall down on the floor in euphoria, but we never notice our lack of depth and brokenness, nor do we consider that old crucified walk that our fathers trod to establish the Church.

We want to touch the Cross; but not bear it.

 

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When I think of the two gospels that I see in America, I sometimes think of that Robert Frost poem, “two paths diverged in a yellow wood …”. One gospel is so well accepted that not many people today even know that there is another one. Sure, they’ve heard of it, but often with criticism and distain. They are much more enamored with a kinder, gentler gospel that has been tailored for this generation. It is almost universally accepted today as a much more enlightened view of the love of God than those old fashioned folks that used to preach about fear and hell. They don’t even remember anyone who has preached that old gospel.

I must be older than I thought. I’ll be 70 in a few weeks, so I guess I am. I still remember that old-time gospel. It was what I got saved with. And it was the message that we saw thousands of others get saved with. Our altars were full every single night and twice on Sundays. People were repenting on their knees in the church, on the phone, on the streets, and over the radio. In the course of ten years, we saw close to 100,000 souls get saved, and it was with that old fashioned gospel of hell, fire, brimstone, and the fear of God.

It sure seemed like it was working to me, but then, hey, what do I know? Nowadays, these kids have titles and degrees and fancy diplomas to hang on the wall that certify that they know stuff. All kinds of stuff.  And lots of it too.  I guess eating off the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil can really fill you up because the Bible says that “knowledge puffeth up”.

Leonard Ravenhill once said that we used to have preachers with no degrees but lots of heat, but now we have preachers with lots of degrees and no heat. I wonder if there is a connection.

Those who pursue ecclesiastical paths rarely see their divergence from the message that their forefathers preached, and when they do, they dismiss that old fashioned gospel as old, caustic, and unnecessarily hard. And yet, you would think that the vast difference in results would give them a clue. The altars of those old-timers were hot and on fire. They won thousands of souls on a continual, daily basis, whereas the altars of this generation are bare and cold with mere handfuls of repentant souls. When we need it the most, we have the least response.

Perhaps our ears are so full of “church” that we can’t hear.

“… and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked”. (Revelations 3:17)

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“And his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites. (Judges 6:11)

What makes the difference between a nominal Christian and an on-fire one? Are they both variations on the same theme or are they on two very different trajectories heading for two very different destinations?

A mountain stream splits when it encounters an obstacle that divides it. One part of the stream goes one way; the other goes the other way. They both will tumble down the mountain for miles, twisting and turning back and forth. They do not run in parallel, but each takes its own unique path as it heads to its final destination. Those destinations can be very different. One can end up in the Atlantic Ocean while the other tumbles down to the Pacific.

Our lives run in much the same way.  When we encounter that fork in the road or the boulder in the stream, we make a choice as to which road we will go down. What is it that determines that decision? Very simply, we choose the path that appeals to us the most.

What happens when that choice is between an easy-going Christian walk with all the amenities of the world or a walk of holiness and hardship in the fear of God? The worldly path is a wide path that offers comfort, prosperity, blessings, and all the good things we would like to pad our lives with. It’s easy, wealthy, and fun. We celebrate Jesus as if we were at a party with balloons and streamers. If that is what appeals to our hearts, then we will follow our hearts.

I can look down the easy path and see many Christians sitting on their pews every Sunday assuming that they are at rest with God. The reality is, however, that while their motors are idling they are stuck in neutral and are not going anywhere. They think this Pollyanna Gospel they adhere to will usher them in past the gates of Judgment while they sail off on the Good Ship Lollipop.

The other path leads to a rough and narrow path. There are no promises of some easy lark as we saunter down the road of Life. Conversely, there are plenty of promises of hardships, suffering, persecution, and a crucified walk that is designed to strip away all the trappings of the easy path. The joy here is not of the flesh or what we find in the world, but a joy that is found deep in the Spirit of God. The flesh here is called to pay a price, and sometimes a very heavy price.

I do not want to walk this entire journey of Life only to find out at the end that I came up just a little short of goal. Jesus said that many would come to him in that day expecting to be ushered into glory but would hear Him say, “I never knew you”. Can there be anything more horrible than that?

What is it that will make us want to choose the hard path over the easy one? What forges our desires for righteousness over apostasy?  2nd Thessalonians 2:10-12 tells us that God would cause those who did not have a love for the truth to believe a lie. He would damn them because they loved unrighteousness.  That’s pretty terse. How do I shear away from being someone who has lost his love for truth and righteousness?  There is no switch that I can turn on; no button to push; no mouse to click. How do I make sure I make the right choices? When I stand at that split in the stream, how do I make sure my heart will choose the beauty of holiness over the appeal of flesh?

Philippians 2:13 says that God will work in us to give us both the will and the power to do His pleasure. In other words, God will put the desire in our hearts to do His will and serve Him. Sounds simple, right? But there is one question: how do I get God to work in me?

Again, the answer is simple, as most things in God are.  If you want God in you, you have to read His Word. But the Word alone is not enough. It must be anointed by the Spirit of God to have life. Paul said the “letter” kills, but the Spirit gives life (2 Corinthians 3:6). You must have both, and you must have them in a sufficient depth to make enough of a difference to break up your stony heart and transform it into a soft and open heart that can receive the Spirit of God.

In Judges 6, we see that Gideon saw the apostasy and sin that the church had fallen into and he made a decision to separate himself from them. He threshed his wheat by the winepress in secret. Wheat stands for the Word of God, the Bread of Life. The winepress is the place of prayer. So Gideon did not warm the proverbial church pew like the others. He sought the face of God in that secret place of the Most High (Psalms 91:1) through reading and prayer.

Remember, you get what you pay for. How bad do you want God? That is reflected on how much you give yourself to seeking Him through His Word and serious, prevailing prayer. That is what gave Elijah the power to call down fire. That is what gave Paul the drive to push through the persecution to establish the Gospel with the Gentiles. That is what made the difference for Gideon and is why he was chosen by God to bring in a revival.

So in the final analysis, the choice is not whether you want to go to Heaven or not, or whether you want to be a strong Christian or not. It is the little choices you make everyday on whether or not you will read His Word and pray.  Everything in Christianity – everything – comes down to those two things – read and pray.

Brother Dale

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“And his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites. (Judges 6:11)

What makes the difference between a nominal Christian and an on-fire one? Are they both variations on the same theme or are they on two very different trajectories heading for two very different destinations?

A mountain stream splits when it encounters an obstacle that divides it. One part of the stream goes one way; the other goes the other way. They both will tumble down the mountain for miles, twisting and turning back and forth. Thtwo streamsey do not run in parallel, but each takes its own unique path as it heads to its final destination. Those destinations can be very different. One can end up in the Atlantic Ocean while the other tumbles down to the Pacific.

Our lives run in much the same way.  When we encounter that fork in the road or the boulder in the stream, we make a choice as to which road we will go down. What is it that determines that decision? Very simply, we choose the path that appeals to us the most.

What happens when that choice is between an easy-going Christian walk with all the amenities of the world or a walk of holiness and hardship in the fear of God? The worldly path is a wide path that offers comfort, prosperity, blessings, and all the good things we would like to pad our lives with. It’s easy, wealthy, and fun. We celebrate Jesus as if we were at a party with balloons and streamers. If that is what appeals to our hearts, then we will follow our hearts.

I can look down the easy path and see many Christians sitting on their pews every Sunday assuming that they are at rest with God. The reality is, however, that while their motors are idling they are stuck in neutral and are not going anywhere. They think this Pollyanna Gospel they adhere to will usher them in past the gates of Judgment while they sail off on the Good Ship Lollipop.

The other path leads to a rough and narrow path. There are no promises of some easy lark as we saunter down the road of Life. Conversely, there are plenty of promises of hardships, suffering, persecution, and a crucified walk that is designed to strip away all the trappings of the easy path. The joy here is not of the flesh or what we find in the world, but a joy that is found deep in the Spirit of God. The flesh here is called to pay a price, and sometimes a very heavy price.

I do not want to walk this entire journey of Life only to find out at the end that I came up just a little short of goal. Jesus said that many would come to him in that day expecting to be ushered into glory but would hear Him say, “I never knew you”. Can there be anything more horrible than that?

What is it that will make us want to choose the hard path over the easy one? What forges our desires for righteousness over apostasy?  2nd Thessalonians 2:10-12 tells us that God would cause those who did not have a love for the truth to believe a lie. He would damn them because they loved unrighteousness.  That’s pretty terse. How do I shear away from being someone who has lost his love for truth and righteousness?  There is no switch that I can turn on; no button to push; no mouse to click. How do I make sure I make the right choices? When I stand at that split in the stream, how do I make sure my heart will choose the beauty of holiness over the appeal of flesh?

Philippians 2:13 says that God will work in us to give us both the will and the power to do His pleasure. In other words, God will put the desire in our hearts to do His will and serve Him. Sounds simple, right? But there is one question: how do I get God to work in me?

Again, the answer is simple, as most things in God are.  If you want God in you, you have to read His Word. But the Word alone is not enough. It must be anointed by the Spirit of God to have life. Paul said the “letter” kills, but the Spirit gives life (2 Corinthians 3:6). You must have both, and you must have them in a sufficient depth to make enough of a difference to break up your stony heart and transform it into a soft and open heart that can receive the Spirit of God.

In Judges 6, we see that Gideon saw the apostasy and sin that the church had fallen into and he made a decision to separate himself from them. He threshed his wheat by the winepress in secret. Wheat stands for the Word of God, the Bread of Life. The winepress is the place of prayer. So Gideon did not warm the proverbial church pew like the others. He sought the face of God in that secret place of the Most High (Psalms 91:1) through reading and prayer.

Remember, you get what you pay for. How bad do you want God? That is reflected on how much you give yourself to seeking Him through His Word and serious, prevailing prayer. That is what gave Elijah the power to call down fire. That is what gave Paul the drive to push through the persecution to establish the Gospel with the Gentiles. That is what made the difference for Gideon and is why he was chosen by God to bring in a revival.

So in the final analysis, the choice is not whether you want to go to Heaven or not, or whether you want to be a strong Christian or not. It is the little choices you make everyday on whether or not you will read His Word and pray.  Everything in Christianity – everything – comes down to those two things – read and pray.

Brother Dale

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I’m sitting in the airport surrounded by Nigerians on their way home. This will make the 5th or 6th trip to Nigeria for me, but unlike the crowd of Africans around me that returning to familiar homes, I feel like an invader coming into a foreign land. Nigeria has never been comfortable for me.

There are two reasons: one is cultural; the other is prophetic.

I have found Nigeria to be a hard place. This is a strong people in a difficult country.Whether that is because of the over-population, the incredible amount of corruption that comes as a result of huge amounts of oil money, or something in their blood, Nigerians are a strong people in the midst of a social conflict in a hard land.

The other reason may be considered debatable depending on what your end-time view are. I believe that Nigeria is key to the rest of the sub-Saharan continent. In order for revival to fully sweep across Africa, Nigeria must fall to the dominion of Jesus Christ. There is just something about these people that strike me as a cornerstone for Africa. I believe that Satan knows that also, and for that very reason he has entrenched himself deeply into the Church.

It’s not the Muslims that are the biggest threat, or even the criminal element. Even the wickedness in the political leadership is being driven by, not driving, this darkness. It is the wickedness that is found in the depths of the established Nigerian Church that is the fountain that contaminates the society.

On the surface, it would seem that Lagos is the most religious city in the world, but underlying that are deep pools of wickedness. No matter where you go, you will see posters and signs declaring the next Night of Miracles at one meeting or the Showers of Blessings at another. Religious names are everywhere as if it is a lucky charm for retail businesses to be called the Glory to God Cafe or the Heavenly Blessings Gas station.

And yet, Lagos remains one of the most corrupt cities in the world. Why is that? Reinhard Bonke can have his million person crusades, but the next day nothing has changed. There is something endemic that Satan has buried deeply in the Nigerian culture that resists true holiness in God. The signs are there; the talk is there, even the outward show is there; but something is missing.

I am here to preach revival and to plant a seed of resistance to the debilitating messages of corrupt prosperity and the weakening influence of their false prophets. I am not the usual evangelist with the usual message of peace and love and grace. I have a truly Biblical prophetic message: repentance, righteousness, and the fear of God. Real peace and love and mercy grows out of righteousness into true charity and a deep, driving burden to win the lost. There is a huge difference between the two.

And I think that is what is missing here – true holiness and unselfish charity. It is the message I have brought across Africa for 15 years and has worked everywhere I have preached it. I pray God it will work here.

The world is waiting for this last, great revival to start, and this is the last obstacle to be removed.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And it’s missing.

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

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

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

Let’s start there and see where it leads.

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Introduction

In the 1970s, God swept across California with an outpouring of the Holy Spirit like had not been seen for years. Many of the older generation who had experienced the revivals of the 40s and 50s rejoiced to see the Spirit of God moving again. Their pulpits had grown cold over the years, their altars had been abandoned, and the Church world had settled into the same religious environment that they themselves had revolted from in their generation. The excitement was gone, and church had gone back to its normal sedate self.

But here, finally, was a brand new move of God.  It didn’t come the way they expected, nor to whom they expected – God came to the Hippies, the disaffected youth who were searching for Truth in any way they could find it. But the fire of God was undeniably burning, souls were getting saved again and God was on the move.

I got saved during those early days of the Jesus Movement.  We were so full of the Spirit that nothing else mattered to us. Every night, the lost would pack the church to hear a message of the power of God unto Salvation. The Holy Spirit would descend in such an overwhelming presence that there were times that the air literally shimmered from the glory of God. Lives were immeasurably changed as souls flocked to the altar to give their lives to Jesus Christ.

Night after night, week after week, year after year, we immersed ourselves in the flow of the Holy Ghost. We fully expected that the Lord’s return was surely imminent and we would ride this great wave of revival until He came to catch us up into Heaven for Eternity.

But as things always go, the revival dissipated after about 10 years, even sooner in other places, and we were left wondering what happened. People went back to their different paths of Life, pursued forgotten careers, raised families, and settled once again for a normal, sedate Christian life.

Many of us, however, never let go of the dream that had been kindled in our hearts during those heady days of revival. We never forgot what it was like to feel that power flowing through us during services, and we never let go of the great calling that we knew had been placed on our lives.

Winding the clock ahead 30 years, I’ve watched the Church in America slide into an plastic rendition of what we once had, trying to imitate the excitement of those days with upbeat modern music, Hollywood-like presentations on stage, and “feel good” messages designed to comfort rather than convict.

I now know how those old-timers felt as they watched the holiness and glory drain out of the movement that had been ignited by the old Brush Arbor revivals. I can now understand how they must have cried out to God on worn-out knees to send another outpouring of His Holy Spirit. The glory had departed and they were left with only a slim ray of hope that it would return.

For years, I had been preaching a message of revival on radio and in newspaper columns, but in 2004, I felt the Lord lift the burden and begin to turn my attention overseas. Even though I had little to show for all those years of preaching, it was hard to abandon what I had been doing for so long. I felt as if I had been dropped off in a desert with no direction. But all the while that I was wondering if I had simply been dismissed, God was making other plans.  He sent me to Africa.

I am not an accomplished evangelist, a learned theological scholar, nor a well-trained missionary. In fact, when I first headed to Africa, I had no idea what I was doing. I had no plans, no organization supporting me, and no expectations. I just showed up, believing that the God who had sent me would also show up.

What the Kenya Diaries relates is the beginning of an incredible journey. What started as a step of blind faith has led to a resurgence of hope in the power of God. The excitement that I have felt must have been just like what those old-timers experienced back in 1970 when they saw the Jesus Movement rise up. God had turned to a new people that the established Church had never expected, so that He could bring life in the Gospel back to the Church.  He is doing the same today. America brought the Gospel to Africa, but I believe that Africa will be bringing it back to America.

As you read the Kenya Diaries, I hope you get a sense of the same excitement that I had as I followed the leading of the Spirit in a journey that led into a growing move of God. I have no doubt that this new move of God will result in a blaze of revival that will be so hot that it will be felt around the world.

The Kenya Diaries is the start of that journey.

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