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Posts Tagged ‘theology’

It was snowing as I left Germany, but it was sultry and hot as I arrived in Lagos. Three days of traveling across who knows how many miles have left me ready to get it over with. But it’s not done. Because of flight delays, I have lost my seat on the plane to Warri, Nigeria. Instead I have to wrangle a ticket re-issue at the Lagos airport. Seems simple, right? Oh, but then you haven’t been to Lagos!

At 5:30 in the morning, the domestic terminal is a madhouse. I was hoping that there wouldn’t be many people here and I would be able to get a new ticket easily and simply, but the opposite is the case.  Immediately on getting out of the cab, I am scooped up by a couple of guys that quickly throw my luggage on a cart and start wheeling me into the terminal. This is normal here. They’re just trying to make a few bucks by carrying your bags.

When I try to beg off, I find out that they are some kind of official Porters that are informing me that their job is to do all the paperwork for me. Just sit down and relax. “Doan warry!” (Whenever I hear that, I start worrying.)

At this point, I am so worn out from what I’d been through the last couple days that I don’t care if they are scamming me or not. Take the money; just get me on the plane. Two hundred bucks later, I have a new ticket, my excess baggage is paid and loaded, and I am actually able to get on the plane.

Except that I can’t go to Warri. The flight is full, so I have to go to Benin, which is a couple hours away from where my first conference meeting is about to start.

What a great start to this trip!  Boy, I can’t wait to see what else is in store for me.

Despite everything, however, everyone was waiting for me and I just rolled on up to the pulpit soon after we walked in as if nothing was wrong.

Service was great. At least they said so. I’m not sure what I said. The inertia from travelling was still carrying me along and I was operating on automatic pilot. Pastors were excited and vowed to take this message to the streets, while others were saying that they had never heard these things before. Which is kind of surprising to me because it’s just stuff out of the Bible. Don’t they read?

The evening service was even better. I was still pretty tired, but at least I had caught a nap before getting up behind the pulpit again. We are at a church that I was at five years ago when it was only four months old. They keep calling me Papa because they say that I started the fire back then that launched their church.

That’s not the first time I’ve heard something like that. I believe that most of the places I have been to want revival and are willing to do what the Lord requires — they just don’t know what to do. But when they hear it broken down into a step-by-step manner, the light comes on and the belief is planted in them that they can actually do this. They just have to start.

Over the years, we have heard hundreds of reports of how these little churches will catch the fire and grow. Sometimes it’s just doubling or quadrupling the size of the church; sometimes it’s planting new churches; sometimes it is heading off into the bush to bring this message to other churches just like I am doing. It’s as if they have been waiting for someone to come along and tell them what to do and then get out of the way and watch them go.

There’s a hunger here that must be fed. I see that same hunger in every place throughout history wherever revival has broken out. We have planted the idea in their hearts that, yes, they can do this. And while it may not be easy, it is simple. They just need someone to point out the direction.

I don’t know when or how this last Great African Revival will start, but it will start. I believe that we will hit a flash point and it will all rise up together in a might conflagration. We just have to keep sowing the seed of that idea into them.

 

Brother  Dale

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The air settles heavily on you like a moist blanket, weighing you down and tiring you out when you shouldn’t be tired at all. It’s no wonder this world travels at a much slower speed than America. There is a saying here, “There is no ‘hurry’ in Africa”, and I can see why. Hakuna Matata. How insane our high speed intensity must seem to them!

The heavy pace of two services a day like I did in Buchanan City is over. Tomorrow we hope to meet with the Vice President of Liberia and perhaps the Speaker of the House. Our hope of meeting the President seems slim, but we should be addressing their congress later on this week.

I’m not sure that it matters that much to me. After all, they are just people like anyone else, and as politicians, I would imagine they are more interested in what American money and resources I can bring to Liberia, rather than what they can do to help promote a Holy Ghost revival here. The goal for me would be rather to touch something in them personally that would spark a revival in their hearts.

The pastors that came to the Buchanan meetings are still energized. I heard one pastor excitedly relate how people were instantly healed, and another about the clear revelation of how to bring revival to their country. Unlike in other countries, they are taking action by establishing the Revivalfire Movement of Liberia organization. I suppose that makes me a bishop over 20+ churches here. Not what I was expecting, but in Africa, you gotta go with the flow. It’s too hot to do otherwise.

Liberia is the only other country besides the United States that has been founded on the Gospel. You can see the effects of that, not only in the names of the stores and the signs and references to Christianity, but in the theological fabric of the churches themselves. There has been a strong foundation here, but as in everywhere else, they have slid into a mediocrity of “church as usual”.

But they are not happy with that. They know what real revival is, and they know what it is not. They recognize that the bland messages coming out of America of an all-embracive grace is powerless without righteousness. They believe in the fear of God and understand what the lack of that does to erode the strength of their foundations. They want change, and change does not come without repentance.

I am assuming that the two churches that I will be visiting this week are of the same spirit as the pastors in Buchanan. If so, we should have another exciting week. Perhaps this will be the beginning of a new phase in my life, and maybe, just maybe, the ignition of a fire that will burn across Africa.

Great moves of God are born out of great faith, and great faith is born out of great hope. I believe they have both.

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Now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria, and all his glory: and he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks: And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel.”   (Isaiah 8:7-8)

 Hezekiah was one of Judah’s best kings. 2nd Kings says that there was none like him amongst all the kings of Judah. Then why did this happen to him? Sennacherib, the king of Assyria swallowed up the entire breadth of Judah, reaching all the way up to the neck, even the very gates of Jerusalem. That was good news for the folks shuttered up in Jerusalem, but it must have been hell for everyone out in the countryside and all the other cities. If Hezekiah was so righteous, then why did God allow this to happen to the rest of Judah?

The answer goes back to his father Ahaz, the wicked king who ruled before him. Ahaz was facing sure destruction from Rezin, king of Syria, and Pekah, the king of Israel, but instead of calling upon the Lord for help, he hired the king of Assyria to pull them off him. In gratitude, Ahaz took a trip to Damascus to meet him and, I guess, to thank him for his help.

While he was there, he saw a pagan altar that impressed him so much that he sent the design back to Uzziah the high priest to have one made just like it. It must have been real nice and shiny because he set aside the Brazen Altar that was before the House of the Lord and replaced it with this new modern version. He instructed the High Priest that all the offerings and sacrifices would now be done on this shiny, new modern altar, but had the audacity to say that when he wanted to inquire of the Lord, he would go over and use the old Brazen Altar that now sat on the north side of the Temple. He discarded the established way the Lord had set down to initiate a new, modern way that was based on agan worship.

Sounds crazy, right? But have we not done the same thing in dismissing that old-fashioned Gospel of the fear of the Lord for a new and gentler modern Gospel of peace, love and prosperity?

I heard one of today’s modern preachers declare himself as “grace oriented” and not as judgmental as his father was. His father and the preachers from a couple generations ago preached a message of righteousness and holiness in the fear of God. There is quite a difference in those two definitions of grace – one is used as a covering for sin, while the other is defined as the power God to overcome it. We have put aside the old in favor of a new modern gospel that our fathers did not recognize. Did not Jeremiah cry out, … ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, we will not walk therein.” (Jer 6:16)

I’m sure Ahaz had plenty of justifications. After all, the Brazen Altar was an old design, wasn’t it? So what’s the harm in upgrading it a little bit? Besides, it was getting old and burnt around the edges and probably needed some touch ups and a new paint job. This new altar was bright and shiny. And yeah, it was patterned after a pagan altar, but it’s not like he was going to offer up his children on it as a burnt sacrifice. So what was the problem?

When we operate outside the fear of the Lord, we set the stage for our own judgment.

Isaiah’s resulting pronouncement against Judah came to fruition, not in Ahaz’s generation, but in his son’s. Hezekiah felt the full impact of Ahaz’s foolishness and had it not been for his extraordinary righteousness before God, Jerusalem would have no doubt been overwhelmed.

Many times in the Bible when the great stone wheel of judgment would begin to roll because of their sins, God would raise up a solitary man to stand in the gap for His people — Noah, Joseph, Elijah, Gideon, and many of the judges. Hezekiah was just such a man to stop the full brunt of his father’s sins so that the seed would be preserved to bring humanity to the ultimate of saviors, God Himself in the form of His Son Jesus Christ.

Mercy is not free; neither is it cheap. And although God delights in mercy, He is first and foremost a righteous God and there is a price to pay for sin in the form of judgment. If we, as a people, ignore the warnings against a lighter more modern version of the Gospel, all the while making excuses and justifications for our shiny new altar, we will face the same results our fathers have faced. Let us pray that God will raise up unto us a way for repentance to stave off the results that our lack of the fear of God will most surely bring to us.

“O Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes in the deserts. Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the LORD. They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The LORD saith: and the LORD hath not sent them: and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word.”  (Ezekiel 13:4-6)

 

 

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“And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.” Acts 3:2.3

What a surprise this guy ended up getting!

This guy had been lame all his life and knew the best place to set himself up to get a few shekels out somebody was as they were entering church. He had a regular spot there, and everybody knew who he was, so he must have been doing okay for himself – maybe not great, but at least he knew how to work the crowd.

Then along come Peter and John.  The only problem was that they were broke.

This guy had no idea what was coming.  He didn’t even know enough to ask for healing, never mind expect one. He was just trying to scrape together enough pennies to eat.  But God healed him anyway.  I think that was pretty cool.

But the thing that has always stood out to me was how amazed everyone was at this healing. Wasn’t it just a few months ago that all Israel was buzzing with all the miracles that Jesus had done?  So why were they so surprised?  Did they not believe the stories they had heard?

Or maybe they didn’t want to believe them.

You see, if they believed in those miracles, then Jesus had to be the Messiah, and if that was true, that means they killed the Son of God, and if THAT was true, they were in a hell of a lot of trouble!  It would be a whole lot easier to just turn off the switch, ignore the stories, and make believe it never happened.

After all, where was Jesus now?  Dead gods never impress anybody, miracles or no miracles, and Jesus was dead (wasn’t He?).

It’s the same today.  Yeah, we remember the stories about the Brush Arbor revivals, the Faith Healers like Aimee Semple McPherson, Katherine Khulman, Smith Wigglesworth, and so many others, but where are they today?  They’re all dead!  When is the last time you saw the blind to see, lame to walk, and deaf to hear?  Been a while, has it?

We pray, we “speak the word of faith into existence” (like that’s really supposed to do something), we make a profession of faith in God’s healing power … and then, as soon as we’re done praying, we make an appointment with the doctor.

We don’t believe it anymore because we have not seen a flowing of the miraculous working power of God in years. There’s a reason why that is — we’re not hungry enough.  Until we become desperate, we will remain in the belly of the apostate slump that the church is in.  As long as we’re satisfied with our complacency, and are not cut to the heart for what we are missing in God, then we will sit right there waiting for a revival that will never come, because God will not set His seal of approval on an apostate church that doesn’t care.

Want to know how to get God to move?  Simple. God hears desperate prayer, and He feeds desperate hunger –we’re just not desperate enough. The blueprint for revival is in chapter 2 of the Book of Joel. (No, I’m not going to quote it. If you won’t read it yourself, then what difference would it make?)

Ask any fisherman – you can take your very best rod and reel with the most expensive bait out to the ol’ fishing hole, position yourself perfectly and fish there all day long … but if the fish ain’t hungry, they ain’t taking the bait.

And we ain’t hungry.

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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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The Inner Side of the Veil

“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 6:19,20 ESV

The King James calls it “that within the veil”. The New King James calls it “the Presence”. Holman calls it “the inner sanctuary”. The literal Greek is esothen meaning “the inner side” of the veil. What is the writer of Hebrews (let’s assume for clarity that the writer is Paul) referring to?

Chapter 6 of Hebrews is a mysterious chapter. By that, I mean that the message is not immediately obvious. What seem to be five different and separate messages is actually one message that is not stated but woven into them all. I am reminded that, “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings is to search out a matter.” (Proverbs 25:2) It is left to us to search it out.

The chapter opens with an admonition about going on to “perfection” or a higher level in our spiritual walk instead of being bogged down with basic essentials, of which he names six. But, Paul warns, don’t start seeking some deeper of more “spiritual” level unless God permits!

Why is that? What is the problem with seeking more knowledge or deeper spiritual understanding? Doesn’t Proverbs plainly tell us to do that with everything we have? And such a warning! Why?

Because, Paul warns, it is impossible, once you have crossed over the line, to come back again. I know this is anathema to who believe in Eternal Security, but it clearly describes five unmistakable marks of true salvation: enlightenment, sampling the heavenly gift, partaking of the Holy Spirit, tasting the Word of God, and tasting the powers of the age to come. And it clearly warns that if they fall away that there is a point where they cannot repent again.

In other words, be careful before you wander off into theological scholasticism or modern Christianity’s bent on deeper “spirituality”. You can wander off into dangerous theories, arguments, doctrines, and translucent ideas that will take you away from the basics of the Gospel. Jesus said to be concerned with the “weightier matters of the law”, judgment, mercy, and faith. (Mathew 23:23) It is the foolishness of preaching that God uses to save souls (1 Cor. 1:21), not the wisdom of man, as he further admonishes in that chapter.

In other words, stick to the basics; you can’t go wrong with the basics. The Bibles tells us that, “he that winneth souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30), not those with carnal intelligence, because “to be carnally minded is death” (Romans 8:6)

And then Paul turns to encourage the reader that God is not unjust to forget our works and mercies that we have done. He fortifies it with a reference to God’s promise to Abraham, which is confirmed by God’s own oath so that we would have a strong consolation to have hope in God.

That hope is not found in the pursuit of knowledge and theological strivings or of any other paths that lead around and away from the Cross. It is embedded on the inside of that veil. Not on the side of the veil that the priesthood could see and touch, but on the other side, the side that is inhabited and immersed in the Holy Spirit of God.

You see, that place of assurance cannot be reached through carnal efforts, no matter how well intentioned they are. Our works and efforts are all good things, but they won’t bring you into the Presence of God. You can’t touch the inner side of the veil by sticking your finger through the outer side.

You approach God through faith. That is what gives you hope. And hope is the anchor of the soul, hooked into the inside surface of that holy fabric which was torn open on the Cross so that we could pass through into His Presence.

 

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“Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?”  Acts 11:17

God is full of surprises.

No sooner do you have everything figured out, and He goes and does something different.  It really keeps you on your toes.  It also keeps you humble.

Peter had a lot of surprises that day, and it turned upside-down a lot of what he and the other Apostles thought was pretty standard doctrine.  Here God not only had turned to the Gentiles, but He baptized them in the Holy Ghost before they ever made it to the water!  John’s baptism was officially over.

Thank God that, instead of resisting the Holy Spirit, like we see so much of today in our plethora of doctrinal debates, the Apostles rejoiced in this new move of God.

Actually, it wasn’t really new.  God was still the same – they just didn’t see it coming.   It was all written in God’s Word long before any of these guys were born.  You see, God reveals His Plan in His own time, and you never know when He will step into a whole new thing that you weren’t expecting.  Better to just shut up and let God do the driving.

In these times when the Last Days excites the religious imagination, we see a lot of would-be prophets running around trying to figure out the Word of God.  Carnal attempts to analyze the spiritual, however, are like using a Ouija Board to find directions to New York City.  There’s just some things that you have to trust God to take care of.  You have to be led by the Spirit of God to get there.  Try anything else, and you’re bound to get lost and end up in Podunk, Mississippi.

But we never stop trying, do we?  And in our attempt to make ourselves theologically correct, we find ourselves stuck on one idea or another, and we will fight to the bitter end to defend them lest we be found to be wrong.  The truth is, our little pea brains understand so little that we often miss the whole point.

Why not just let God reveal it to you?

I have found over the past 45 years that, the more I learn, the less I really understand.  There is so much more to God’s Truth than I ever imagined possible when I first got saved.  And I haven’t made to Heaven yet!  Wow, who knows what surprises are in store for us then?

So while many others are scurrying around squabbling over points of doctrine and sequence of end-time events, I’ll just stick to the basics.  You can’t go wrong with the basics.

When the rest of you guys figure it all out, send me a Postcard.  I’ll be out fishing somewhere.

 “Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifeth”

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