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Posts Tagged ‘soul winning’

“And the same time there arose no small stir about that way.”  (Acts 19:23)

We read in Colossians that the Laodiceans were to read Paul’s epistle to the Colossians.  What an event for them to get a letter from Paul!  You can almost feel the anticipation in the air.  This was a church under persecution with an enormous job before them. The whole known world was lying in pagan idolatry and on their way to Hell, but the Christians knew they had the Truth and they were excited!.

The name of Jesus was viewed as some new god that had come out of Judea which, in itself would not have created much of a stir, but Jesus’ followers wouldn’t let well enough alone.  They had to keep pressing their doctrine of salvation, repentance from dead works, adherence to the commandments of God (which most flesh does not enjoy), and this constant reproof that anybody who didn’t go along with their ideas was going to a place of torment for eternity.

Now the idea of Hades was not new.  Different shades of the concept had filtered down through the ages ever since Noah, but most often it was mollified by some simple deeds you could do in the temple.  You could light some candles, burn some incense, and mutter some repetitious chants over a string of beads.  And in case that didn’t work, there would always be a priest there who could intercede for you to the gods.  Especially to some mother figure like Astarte, who would have compassion because she was a mother and would go talk to God for you. (Wasn’t that nice of her?)  Then of course, there were always the statues of various gods which all had their own fields of specialty which you could pray to – travel, war, family, love, etc. As long as you showed up at the Temple, you were OK.  Does this sound familiar?

Why did the Christians have to be so pushy?  Just because everybody didn’t believe the same way, did that mean everybody was going to hell?  After all, they believed in god.  As long as you didn’t harm anyone, what was so bad about that?  Why couldn’t the Christians just leave everybody alone?

Persecution was rampant against that early church.  It would have been so easy for them to

adopt a policy of laissez-faire and be satisfied with just going to church, but there was a great commission hanging over them.  They had to win the world for Christ, and so they plunged into the challenge. They knew, without a doubt, that they had the Truth, and that if they didn’t evangelize the world, multitudes of people would be lost forever. God’s people have always grown under persecution, and languished in times of peace and prosperity.

Is it so different now?  Human nature has not changed.  The fashions may change, but the basic nature of man will always exhibit itself in the same ways.  There will always be those who are comfortable with a laissez-faire form of religion that makes allowances for the flesh, and would rather not be bothered with something that calls them to a deeper walk in God.  But then there are always those for whom this world is not worthy; those who need nourishment from the Throne of God; those who hunger for more than what can be seen with their eyes.  They feed off of Truth and the life-flowing Spirit of God.  Nothing else will do.  The great commission hangs over them.

There is a whole world out there that is lost and dying, and it’s up to us to tell them before it’s too late. No wonder there was no small stir!

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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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“…her candle goeth not out by night.”  Proverbs 31:18

I am struck by this passage when reading about the virtuous woman, the picture of the true Church in Proverbs 31.  Who burns their candle all night long?  And why would you do that?  I dare say that most of us turn the lights off when we go to bed.  But not the virtuous woman.  She keeps her light burning throughout the entire night.

As Christians, we rejoice in our salvation and celebrate our transformation from death, but for a truly converted Christian, it will not end there.  He will look back into the darkness and light a candle so others can see the lighthouse of safety and come out of that world of darkness.  That desire to hold up a light and to let it burn all night long so that others can see it is something that only comes from the grace of God..

Grace transforms us and changes the way we look at things. Those who have been truly transformed by grace are no longer satisfied with attending bland church services, fellowshipping with other complacent believers in ivory halls of contentment, and warming themselves by the coals of indifference. Something inside them cannot rest while others are dying. The realities of darkness become stark when seen from that place of light.  The dark seems darker and the despair seems more desperate. While others seek the calm serenity of their chapels and cathedrals, there are those who want to set up a rescue station one foot away from the very Gates of Hell.  Light the candle and let it burn all night long!

Grace is not just “undeserved mercy”. It is the fountain from which mercy flows. And mercy gives birth to charity, and charity is the very essence of the entire Gospel, the main theme of the Cross, the whole reason why Jesus died and the central reason of why we were called to salvation. Without grace, we are but tinkling bells and a sounding cymbal – plenty of noise and pretty music, but lacking substance.

Grace also produces righteousness. We assume that “works” are the antithesis of grace, but that is not so. Works are the evidence of grace. It is grace working in us that brings us to a place of righteousness before God. Grace was never meant to be a cheap and easy covering for sin, but is that which gives us the power to overcome sin. Grace produces righteousness, and righteousness establishes the promises of God and ushers us into His presence.

Grace is the river of Life that flows from the Throne of God through us so that we may be a reflection of His glory. The true purpose of grace is not to excuse sin, but so that world can see God as their savior to save them from sin. Grace is the Light of Jesus Christ burning in us to beckon those who are lost to come out of the darkness and into His glorious light.

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)

 

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Another article from the booklet, Nigeria-2012


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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[Here’s another post from the Nigeria-2012 booklet that I thought I’d pass on. There’s a couple more that I’ll send later. — Dale ]


It’s the eyes that get you.

All the shouting and the praising is great, but it is when you look into their eyes and see the sincerity of their heart that you really know that God is doing something special here. It’s not just another meeting to sing some songs and hear about how much God wants to bless you and bring you into some vaunted abundant life.  The stuff we saw tonight is down to the roots of the soul – serious dedication to do whatever it takes to have revival.

Nigeria is very different from East Africa in that this is a serious people. You do not see the color and gaiety here that you find in Kenya, but neither do you see the lackadaisical attitude that you find in East Africa. Nigerians work hard and have a more serious outlook on life.  Their approach to the Gospel reflects that same attitude.  Whereas in Kenya, the shouting and singing may be louder initially, their ardor begins to wane when it comes time to dig in and do the work of the Gospel. Nigerians, on the other hand, may not be so open and emotional, but they seem to have a more serious fixation on the hard facts of the price that must be paid to have a true revival.

A prominent pastor here told me that they have been fasting and praying for revival but God is not answering.  Something is wrong, and they want to know what it is.  Now that is a serious cry for revival!  This is past the singing and dancing and enters into the serious reality of what God requires. The Altar of God is not a place of singing and dancing, but of blood and sacrifice and death.

One of the biggest lies that Satan has sold the Church is that we can just sit in our little pews and God will have mercy on us and send us revival.  Sorry, but if you do nothing, nothing will happen.  Mercy is not handed out free – it must be paid for.  Mercy begets mercy, unto the merciful He will show Himself merciful, and as James tells us, judgment shall be without mercy on those who have shown no mercy.  What a trip the devil has put us on!  And we believed him!  Or should that be in the present tense?

But these guys know differently.  They know there is a price to pay for everything in God – everything. And the price for a full Holy Ghost revival is extremely high.  That’s why they are so rare – nobody wants to pay that price.  That is precisely why you have to be desperate in order to see revival come.  So desperate that you are like Rachael in Genesis 30:1, “Give me souls or else I will die!”  So desperate that you are willing to give your life so that souls can be saved.  If you are not, you will not see a real Holy Ghost revival because you won’t do what it takes to get one.  You’ll just have some really good “church”.

But these people tonight have had enough of “church”.  They are ready for whatever God has placed before them and are ready to answer the call of the trumpet that is blowing in Zion – the call to the last battle between God and Satan for the souls of Man.

You could see it in their eyes as they came in droves to kneel at the altar.  The entire church came down — even the ushers!  They emptied themselves of their self-interest and pride as they ripped their hearts wide open to repent and surrender all to Jesus.  The passion at the altar was only surpassed by the cries of “hallelujah” that were so loud that my ears over-amped!  There was victory in the church tonight.

When you see a serious dedication like that, you can expect serious results.  I have no doubt that their passion will carry them into the Word of God to give them the power to fast and pray for God to build a fire in their church.  And then watch as that fire spills out into the streets to bring in the lost and dying into that same Holy Ghost blaze.

Just as in childbirth, revivals are birthed in pain and labor and travail. They also end up with the same kind of rejoicing.

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“But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and sat down. And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.”   (Acts 13:14-15)

And so they did.

This formula seemed to have worked fairly well just before in Cyprus, so why not try it here on the mainland? Pretty much it amounted to run down a quick history of the Messianic story, dismiss the Levitical covenant that these Jews had invested such an abnormal amount of intense obedience to, explain to them that all they have to do now is believe in the Nazarene, toss out the blood sacrifices, and ask God to forgive them.  Pretty simple.

And oh, by the way, if they didn’t, they would burn in Hell.

Unfortunately, unlike Segius Paulus on Cyprus, the response from these Jews was a little less than accommodating.  What a surprise.  But it was Paul’s classic answer that clinched it for them,

“For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every Sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him… Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.”  (Acts 13:27, 40-41)

Budda bing.  Budda bang.

Paul would not have been a good used car salesman, but he certainly made his  point – the old religious system was finished and God was moving in a brand new direction.  Not that God had not given them plenty of notice – the Old Testament is full of distinct and revealing prophesies – it’s just that they never saw it.

But it is always that way.  The religious rulers had read the voices of the prophets every Sabbath but never heard what they were saying.  Why was that? Were they just more comfortable with a religious spirit that had constructed rigid limits?  Or were they bent on following their own hearts rather than surrender to the leading of the Spirit of God when it led in ways that they did not like?

Whatever the reason, that same religious tendency to reject any new stirring of the Holy Spirit still continues today.  Just recently, I spent a few weeks in eastern Congo bringing a message of revival to several churches that were part of a large denomination there.  The results were explosive – over 700 souls came to the altar, churches were revitalized to go back out and bring in souls, and a general spirit of rejoicing was ringing in their services for the first time in decades.  Pastors told me that it had been years since anyone had gotten saved at their churches, but now they were excited with this new message to bring in the lost and start the wheels of revival rolling.

Guess what happened next.  The elders rose up and told these pastors that they were not allowed to do that.  In this denomination, you have to be saved for 6 years before you are allowed to witness or minister to others.  They warned the pastors that if they continued to send their people out to the streets to bring in the lost, they would kick those pastors out of the denomination.

Huh?  Am I hearing this right? This denomination, which had been forged in the fires of its own revival a couple generations ago, now could not recognize a moving of that same Spirit that had fashioned it years ago.

And the pastor’s response?  “We are lit, no more going back, no more fear or worry, we going forward, we are pursuing it.  We are determined to see Congo being revived for change and transformed for God’s glory.”

Go get ‘em, Pastor! Forget these religious Pharisees who would try to stop a genuine move of the Holy Ghost!  Ring the bell of Freedom and declare liberty to the lost. Let every devil in Hell be put on notice that we are not going back to the stifling consort of religious ritualism but are moving forward into a new day of revival.

Think this is only unique to the religious Pharisees of Jesus’ and Paul’s day, or that this is happening in Africa but never here in America?  Think again. The Bible is full of warnings to the Church in the last days that there will be a famine for hearing the Word of God and that the people will be starving for pasture and not be able to find it.  There will be a great falling away in the midst of a swarm of churches who will heap up to themselves the teachers to tell them the things they want to hear, and turn their ears away from hearing the truth.

As Pogo warned us, “We have met the enemy, and it is us.”

Revival is coming.  It is written in the Book of Joel; it shall come to pass.  But it is not coming to the churches. It is coming to a new generation of believers who will throw off denominational constraints in favor of a freedom in the Spirit that will lead into a new sense of holiness and righteousness in the fear of Almighty God.  God will raise up a Gideon Generation to become Joel’s Army to bring the greatest revival of all time just before Jesus Christ returns.

But the churches will miss it because they are stuck in the mire of religion.

 

 

 

 

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Pastor Patrick came to Mbarara three years ago to visit his newly married niece.  His church was located about 50 miles away, and it was suffering from the typical spiritual doldrums that it seemed all the churches in Uganda, and all of Africa for that matter, were suffering from. Uganda had taken part in the wonderful revival that had swept across Africa in the early ‘70’s, but it had been cut short by the demonic persecution from Idi Amin.  That move of God has dissipated into a boring mediocrity and a resulting decent into sin and corruption within the Church in general. He didn’t know what to do or how to bring life back into his church, but he was determined to seek the face of God for an answer.

His niece’s husband had a church in Mbarara, but unlike so many others, this church had a new infusion of life. There was something exciting going on here.  There was not only hope, but it was if they had discovered a new direction and a vision for revival that had been lost since those exciting days 40 years ago. They were having a 3-day seminar on revival by some American friend of his nephew, and he decided to attend.

After two days, he could hold it in no more and armed with a booklet from the American revivalist, he raced back to his community without even telling his nephew what had happened to him. He didn’t really know himself what he was going to do next, but he knew he had a hold on the answer to end the apostasy that had been suffocating his church.

He started preaching right out of the booklet. Starting with his own church, he challenged them with the principles of the Word of God that were laid out in the booklet. It was like shattering a glass ceiling that had hung over their faith – they could see through the glass into the very heavens, but never could get past it.  But now it was shattered, and a new freedom and purpose gripped his congregation and they headed into their community to win souls.

A fire was ignited that spread throughout the whole area.  During the next three years, Pastor Patrick planted 70 new churches, with many other existing churches asking to join him.  A steady stream of sinners came to answer the call for Salvation, and as the Spirit of God began to move, the miracles began to happen. The sick were brought to the church to be healed and the tormented to be delivered. Joy and rejoicing had returned to the House of God.  God had lit a fire.

I preached in Pastor Patrick’s church yesterday. The only way I can describe what it was like is to say it was not just exciting, it was exhilarating.  I don’t think very many people knew who I was, but that’s okay.  For me, it was just a little pat on the shoulder from God to encourage me and lift me up as I struggle through the final days of this very difficult trip. You never know what God can do with even just a single seed.

Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.”
(Ecclesiastes 11:1)

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