SIERRA LEONE UPDATE: IN THE MOVE

What can I say? It is difficult to describe the richness of the way God is moving here. I mean, how does one describe the freshness of a morning when orient pearls abound on every blade of grass, or the loveliness of a stunning sunset that leaves you breathless and in awe of the creation of God?

What a sight to see leaders this morning bowing at the altar and humbling themselves before our God! His refining fire has come with so much love and grace that has made Him irresistible?

A holy invitation went out this morning from our glorious King and Bridegroom. It was the song of the Lord and it went something like this:

“Dance with Me; don’t dance with the multitude; run with Me, rejoice with Me, sup with Me as I do with thee…let us have a love affair; fall in love with Me as I AM with you. Dance with Me; don’t dance with the multitude.”

The multitude referred to the many hucksters, charlatans, and false ministers who deceive many with their smooth words and their lust for fame, popularity, power, and money. There are multitudes of them in this nation and others as well.

The Lord has been cleansing His temple, the hearts of His shepherds and leaders, while sending out this holy invitation. Lust for the ministry has been contrasted with a pure love for God and people. The pride and impurity of motives have been severely dealt with by the Lord. Man’s ego, lust for fame, popularity, influence, power, recognition and the approval of men have been crushed by the Lord’s zeal for His house and temple. What is emerging now as they see themselves in the light of God’s heart and Word is a humility and purity of heart that the Lord is crowning with His presence and glory.

And that is only a brief report of the morning leadership/pastoral sessions. The night meetings have been highlighted with wonderful manifestations and demonstrations of the Spirit and power of God. It is a move. Each night is different. We did not come here with a few sermons and a song. We came with a vision of what we knew God wanted to do and say to this nation and the body of Christ here. But each day brings forth new manna as we wait on the Lord. We have fallen in love with this nation and its people again, as we did in days of old when we lived here nearly 25 years ago. Then, we came in as only sons, but now we re-enter as fathers.

The revival that our apostolic team helped to ignite 25 years ago in this nation has greatly waned. The zeal for God’s house has digressed into commercialism and merchandizing the precious things of God and desecrating His temple, our very hearts.

When I read Is. 1:10-17 in one session you could hear a pin drop, as I proclaimed to them that God hates their feasts, assemblies, programs, and religious activities if they are not connected to His heart and meeting the real needs of the people, especially the poor and downtrodden of their cities. There are orphans, widows, and needy people everywhere as we compared pure religion that God approves of versus that which is an abomination to Him .God is doing a deep work in the hearts of the ministers and saints in attendance who have availed themselves to be in these meetings. And for that, Carolyn and I are very grateful. He told us that this would change an entire nation if they would hearken to this word and carry it forth in their lives and churches.

Just last night a call was made to the younger generation to receive the baton of the move of God and to learn of Jesus and enter into the compassions of His heart for their nation and the move of His Spirit.  Seventy young people responded to the call. The host bishop, Julius Laggah, who again, was a young student in our Bible school from 1990-1992 that I mentored, met with all of them after the service and is going to begin pouring into them and training them for evangelism and outreach. My heart rejoices that the fruit of this God ordained assignment will indeed remain.

One visiting pastor from another nation was overjoyed because we ministered to him privately by revelation and the laying on of  hands. The anointing of the Lord came on him and favor for securing an orphanage in his nation was released. Callings and assignments like this have been confirmed in others. One elderly woman, who was also a former student in our Bible school, told us that she has a ministry to the beggars of the city and is doing a great work, mostly in obscurity.

We continue tonight and will finish the full week of meetings tomorrow. We are so full and fulfilled with the communion we’ve enjoyed with the Lord this week, and how He continues to share His heart and word to us and through us for this nation and His body.

Thank you for the faithful remnant who are praying for us. There are added expenses at home when we arrive. We would appreciate your prayerful consideration in sowing into our ministry at this time.

All For Jesus,

His messengers,

Bert and Carolyn

 

 

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SIERRA LEONE UPDATE: THE MOVE OF THE SPIRIT AND BEING TOUCHED WITH THE FEELING OF THEIR INFIRMITIES

The choir was doing their feature song. Carolyn and I were getting ready to step to the pulpit immediately after the song. But something happened…

I had this incredible urge to dance. As it has often been said, the Holy Ghost can sometimes get in your feet. For me, when I hear that particular sound from heaven it puts me in a place in the Spirit, and I am compelled to obey the Spirit’s promptings. In this case, it was to dance. I was seated with other ministers on the platform. This was our first day of ministry. Most of these people did not know me or Carolyn, and had never heard us speak. It seemed an odd thing at an odd time to dance. But the compulsion to do it grew stronger and stronger until obeying God became far more important than the appearance of dignity in the eyes of man. So in obedience to the Spirit’s promptings I stood up and began to dance in the Spirit. Soon the ministers and the people caught the wind of it, and the place erupted with praise and dancing. Wow!

It is amazing what one little obedience can do. God often uses it as a link in a chain of spiritual workings to create a momentum. We had a wonderful move of the Spirit yesterday morning in all three services, but this first one set the pace.

Some might ask, “what benefit is there to this kind of move?” I have found that the outpouring and moving of the Spirit in a meeting can bring impartations to the people that are life changing, and the manifestation of it can linger in their lives for days and weeks. It makes Jesus more real and dear to them. The reality of eternal things becomes clearer. It changes their concept of God. The life-giving Spirit whets their appetite for more of Him. Never despise the manifestation of the Spirit and His demonstrations.

There is such an honor in the people for ministers here, and their servant-heartedness makes it easier to access that place in the Spirit. The Word of God has much to say about honor, and it truly is the highway into the anointing of the Spirit.

Besides the call to move in the demonstrations of the Spirit and power of God according to 1 Cor. 2:4-5, the continual emphasis that is also moving in my heart right now is one of love. Often in a poverty stricken nation like Sierra Leone, one can become de-sensitized to the pain, hardship, and suffering that seems to be everywhere. The poor can be neglected. Familiarity breeds contempt. It was so when we lived here many years ago. God constantly reminded us to stay sensitive to them. Beggars are everywhere and can wear you down and have a draining effect on you. Even those who have jobs and work are grossly underpaid.  The mortality rate is high here, more so for men. Some of it is due to the health and economic conditions, but much of it is due to the stress of men having to provide for their families. We are moved with the compassion of Jesus and learn so much of His personal heart and ministry for people. He ministered to crowds constantly, but the individual is highlighted throughout His ministry.

Opportunities are numerous to minister to individuals in nations like these. For example, this morning as it happened yesterday, another hotel worker came to our room asking for prayer. He was overcome with many burdens. His mother was unconscious and in critical condition at the hospital. He had problems at home with strife from his neighbors. He had a wife and children to care for. He was very troubled by his recent demotion at work for reasons he did not understand. As I laid my hand upon him to pray, a tear from his eyes dropped on my hand. How precious that was. It broke my own heart. In this culture it is rare to see men cry. I was touched with the feeling of his infirmities and troubles. When this happens it always brings me into a greater understanding of the heart and ministry of Jesus.

After Jesus ministered to the woman at the well he said this.

“My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work” (Jn. 4:34). He was nourished by doing the will of the Father and ministering His love to others. He called it His meat or food. After the incident this morning with this hotel worker I felt nourished. I felt like my spirit had eaten.

While we cannot possibly meet everyone’s needs because the poor will always be with us in large numbers, we are to be touched with their infirmities. While we are not their source, we can lead them to the Source. We cannot be moved by their needs, but we can be moved with compassion and the call of the Spirit to minister to those God leads us to.

“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses (infirmities), but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).

Let us be touched with the weaknesses of man as Jesus is. Take on His heart and be moved with His compassion.

WAR STORIES: SIERRA LEONE

We’ve been here only two full days, but my heart has been deeply touched by the conversations with those who have survived much hardship and difficulty in this ravaged nation.

We lived here from 1990-1992 before the US Embassy advised all international workers to leave because of the terrible civil war that was spilling over from Liberia. As I understand it, the pinnacle of the war was in 1998-1999 when the rebel forces began to amputate people’s limbs and set the city of Freetown on fire. Blood curling screams could be heard throughout the city along with the sounds of gunfire and explosions.

Julius Laggah was a 19 year old boy when he was a student at our Bible school in Freetown. He was also a disciple of ours on the evangelism team I led on the streets of Freetown 3 times a week.

A few years later during the height of the war he visited the United States and some believers pleaded with him to not return to Freetown. He was now married with a young family to care for and life would be far easier for them living in America than their war ravaged country. But Julius prayed and knew that the Lord’s will was for him to return to the small church he had begun to pastor.

When electricity was scarce and the fighting continued, and people were running scared in the city, God gave him a vision to train church planters to expand the influence of the gospel into other districts of Sierra Leone. They met at night and studied by candlelight as Julius poured his heart into the trainees. He told me that sometimes they would continue until 5 AM. They paid a price and the work soon expanded. Now there are 40 churches throughout the nation that are preaching the Word of God and producing more workers for the harvest in this war ravaged and poverty stricken nation.

After hearing his story I went to bed with a heart overflowing with gratitude for such faithful disciples as Julius Laggah. He told me that if it wasn’t for those early foundations that were established in him through our Bible school and discipleship he would not be where he is today. He drove me through the city and showed me all the places we use to hold evangelistic campaigns and open air preach. He told stories that I had forgotten or never knew. They warmed my heart and reminded me again of the importance of the ‘Jesus and the 12’  hands-on way of discipleship. We never realized the impact our school and ministry made on him.

Then back at the hotel I spoke to one of the hotel attendants, Edward by name. He looked to be about 20 years of age. His parents were killed in the war when he was only four. There was a loneliness and sadness in him combined with a driving ambition to succeed and make life better for himself and his younger brother. My heart went out to him. When you meet such hard working people like that, you want to give him the shirt off your back. He cleans our room every day so we are going to bless him real good and minister to him spiritually as the Lord leads. But once more, his story of survival touched me deeply and I wondered how many more people share such stories of hardship and loss, not only in this nation, but globally in places where there is great suffering.

We’ll be on the radio tonight speaking to the nation. These stories have moved my heart with compassion to do so. Please agree with us again for utterance to speak and to be found in Him who moves.

WHAT FEW ARE SAYING ABOUT THE ORLANDO TRAGEDY

The Orlando shooting tragedy has filled the news headlines for many days now. Liberal minds argue over gun laws. The Obama administration continues to grant special treatment to Muslims by refusing to connect the tragedy to Islamic terrorism. And stupid pastors – no apologies, are calling the death of 49 precious human beings, most of them gay, the judgment of God.

Everyone seems to have an opinion. But what would Jesus say concerning such tragic events?

Interestingly, in His day the people spoke to Jesus about another tragedy of some Galileans who were put to death by Pilate, their blood being mingled with their sacrifices (Lk. 13:1-5). No explanation of the reason Pilate killed them is given. Naturally, as with the Orlando tragedy, people want to know why. Back in that day Jewish theology attributed these kinds of tragedies to God’s punishment for their sins. Much like, once again – and no apologies again, today’s stupid pastors.

Jesus did not fuss with them over their retribution theology. Instead, He transferred the meaning of the tragedy to the spiritual sphere and eternity. He points to the present urgent need of repentance (v. 2-3).

Jesus answered, ‘Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.’”

Then Jesus references another recent calamity where 18 workers perished in an accident. Rather than engaging in a theological or political debate or speculating on their guilt, Jesus once again uses their awful fate as an opportunity for the living to repent.

“Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Friends, there is a heaven to gain and a hell to shun. These tragic events that are increasing in our land should remind us of the brevity of life and the fleeting nature of even our good times.

I’m afraid all the spin that the government, the talking pundits, and even, yes, one more time, stupid pastors, put on tragedies such as these is another subtle ploy of the devil to keep us from talking about what really matters – heaven, hell, and the afterlife.

How is it with your soul, friend? Have you repented of your sins? Are you right with God? Have you surrendered your life to the Lord Jesus Christ?

I end with a remarkable quote by J.C. Ryle:

“The subject of hell is always offensive to human nature. Men love to hear ‘smooth things,’ and to be told of peace, and not of danger. (Is. 30:10) But the subject is one that ought not to be kept back, if we desire to do good to souls. It is one that our Lord Jesus Christ brought forward frequently in His public teachings. That loving Savior, who spoke so graciously of the way to heaven, has also used the plainest language about the way to hell. Let us beware of being wise above that which is written, and more charitable than Scripture itself.”

FROM MY HEART: A HEAVENLY ASSIGNMENT THAT MAY CHANGE A NATION

I write this for the benefit of our faithful remnant of partners and those who follow us and care for us.

Tomorrow we will be on our way to Sierra Leone, West Africa for a week long series of citywide meetings with churches and pastors/ministers represented. This nation is one of our former homes where Carolyn and I first lived as honeymooners during our first two years of marriage. Blessed time it was!

From 1990-1992 the work there exploded even while refugees poured in from neighboring Liberia during the terrible civil war. In 1992 the war spilled over into Sierra Leone and the US Embassy recommended all American citizens leave. The devil did his best to stop the work, but it continues to this day with multiple thousands of trained Bible school graduates working in the harvest fields of West Africa and beyond. The main Bible school we helped to launch there is now headed up by a couple who were trained and discipled by Carolyn and I. They have a national ministry and are well known in Sierra Leone.

As another example of the effective discipleship that our Bible school did, the host of our citywide meetings was just a young 19 year boy who served on the evangelism team I led on the streets each week. Now he is a bishop of one of the larger works in the city of Freetown. Oh, the fruit of discipleship! Such a rewarding and fulfilling thing to see.

Many judge ministries such as ours and say that we have no church, no building, no paid staff, and no real base, and so it is not worth much, so they think. But oh, if they knew the privilege we’ve had of teaching and discipling so many and seeing many of them go forth and do greater works. That truly has been the greatest joy we’ve had in 30 years of ministry.

Now we are in a different season of ministry with a mandate to draw forth in prayer, wisdom for the body of Christ for the day we live in. In this regard, we know in our spirits that there is wisdom to be imparted and utterances that the Lord wants to release now, that is going to speak to the core of the body of Christ in Sierra Leone and in other places as well. This utterance is already pressing against my lips, and my sense is that it may even change the landscape of Christianity there. The word of the Lord can do that where it is believed and received. This is another one of those divinely strategic ministry trips and heavenly assignments.

A number of years ago a prophecy was given to us. It spoke of us getting off a plane with a team of people and taking a nation. Honestly, I’m leery of such high and lofty prophecies and do not usually give a lot of credence to them unless they come through proven and seasoned vessels. In the mouth of two or three witnesses this prophecy has been confirmed, and this trip is the beginning of the fulfillment of this word.

Caution must be exercised in the interpretation of an aforementioned prophecy like that. We make the mistake of misinterpreting such prophecies. That prophecy does not mean that a nation will be changed because of a week of meetings. It does not mean that in a few days the entire nation will turn to God. Rather, it simply means that God can anoint His servants with holy utterances that help initiate a spiritual momentum which becomes a pivotal turning point in the Church and the nation. In prayer that is what we’ve been sensing.

Please pray for these strategic meetings, that our ministry may be fully received, and that we will have utterance in the Holy Ghost (Eph. 6:19). Pray for our protection, too.

Also, pray for the nation and people of Sierra Leone. They have suffered much death and destruction through a civil war, and then more lives were lost due to the recent Ebola crisis. This is a very poor nation with resilient people. We are bringing in several boxes of our books that we are virtually giving away (selling them at cost), along with some clothing.

Lastly, if you’d like to contribute financially toward this trip or to our ministry, you may do so here: http://holy-fire.org/#donate

Thanks and God bless you.

 

THE GIVING TREE: STRIPPED OF EVERYTHING BUT STILL HAPPY

This is truly a story for the heart, so you may want to read it in a place where you are free to cry.

There was a song written by Neil Young that I used to love to hear as a young man. Some of you in my age group may remember it as well. It’s lyrics always touched me deeply.

  • Old man take a look at my life
  • I’m a lot like you were
  • I need someone to love me
  • The whole day through
  • Ah, one look in my eyes
  • And you can tell that’s true.

Now as an older man, caring for my aged parents in the final sunset of their lives, making a minor change to the lyrics seems more appropriate and meaningful. I know my Dad would sing it this way:

  • Young man take a look at my life
  • I’m a lot like you’ll be
  • I need someone to love me
  • The whole day through
  • Ah, one look in my eyes
  • And you can tell that’s true.

Like so many in their middle years I am helping to care for my aged parents. In the past year I have gotten to know a side of my parents I never knew before. You see, they’ve been stripped of all that was familiar and predictable in their lives. My Dad has said to me repeatedly that he feels like a bird in a cage. They are now living with my brother and sister-in-law. With their mobility now limited, they spend most of their days in the house.

Additionally, my Dad has become my Mom’s caregiver, cooking for her and administering insulin for her diabetes through a needle four times a day. He is doing all this while having to deal with his own health issues, having  been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, which includes poor circulation and shortness of breath. Over the past year he has become very tired caring for my mother, experiencing a loss of his normally healthy appetite and taking longer naps during the day.

When I observe my parents today my mind reflects back on the entirety of their lives, especially their younger and stronger years – how hard they worked, coming over as immigrants from Portugal and pioneering a new life on foreign soil – learning a new culture, a new language, and a completely new way of life in their mid-30’s with two young boys to care for. They’ve spoken to me often of those early years of struggle and disappointments.

My Dad is a fighter. He had to fight for my Mom who was often taken advantage of by relatives whom we lived with in our first year here. He had to fight for me and my brother who were often denied privileges that our American- born cousins had.

For example, my parents tell the story of having our cousin’s mini go car hidden from us so we wouldn’t play with it any more. You see, during our first year in America my parents had nothing. They lived with my Dad’s parents in a three story house that my uncle and aunt owned. My Dad is a very proud man – in mostly a good way. In order to compensate for our lack he worked sometimes 16 hours a day, losing weight and gaining stress all along the way. He made sure my brother and I got our own mini go car and a new bicycle to boot. He wanted to gain one-upmanship on his selfish relatives and prove to them he could give his kids good gifts, too.

The first few months in the new land were brutal. Our finances were slim. As a young husband and father, I’m sure my Dad had moments when he doubted his ability to provide for his family, and wondered if he’d made the right decision to migrate to America. I know my Mom reminded him regularly that it was his decision, and it was his side of the family who were eager for him to come, that now were singing a different tune.

I’m sure this caused my Dad to question his decision many times, but like the fighter that he is, he just kept plowing on ahead. But soon his hard work paid off, and with my Mom also landing a job in one of the local jewelry factories, they were able to purchase their first house at the end of that first year.

This all reminds of a great story heart warming story told in a wonderfully illustrated book written by Shel Silverstein called, The Giving Tree. The book describes the relationship between a family apple tree and a young boy. The tree is able to talk, and throughout the boy’s life the tree refers to him as “boy”.

The tree provided a place for the boy to climb and eat its fruit and swing from its branches. In his adolescence the boy wanted money, so the tree suggests he sell his apples. As a young adult the boy wanted a house, so the tree suggests he cut branches to build his house. Finally, in middle age, the boy wants a boat, so the tree suggests he use the tree’s trunk, leaving only a stump. Each time the tree gave to the boy the text said, “And the tree was happy.”

This is where the aged people in our society come back into view, especially those dear loved ones in our lives, whom we care for so deeply. In the final pages of the aforementioned book the boy sits near the tree as an old man. The tree says he has nothing left to give. The boy who was now an old man said he only wanted “a quiet place to sit and rest.” The book ended with, “And the tree was happy.”

In the past year I’ve begun to observe and pay attention to my parents more closely. I’ve often witnessed them, especially my Dad, weep the deep weeping of a broken man. I know he feels like that tree. He’s been stripped of everything. He’s become a stump. He’s a bird in a cage watching his old tattered feathers fall off one by one. I’ve prayed over him and my Mom many times, at times embracing them, hugging and kissing them, and pouring out my heart to the Lord for them because I know it hasn’t been an easy adjustment for them. In this latter season of their lives I’ve truly become a pastor to them and have learned so much about human nature and the cycles and seasons of life. It is painful to watch your parents age, but there is a joy and peace in it if you’ll learn to see it through the Father’s eternal eyes.

When my brother and his wife have gone away for well deserved breaks and some R & R I’ve spent an entire week and some weekends with my parents. As I’ve just sat with them and communed heart to heart with them, I would notice something. Their bodies would respond to my love. They would sleep better. They would eat better. They would feel better emotionally. The Lord was teaching me something precious. Much of what most of our elderly citizens need is just love – to be heard, to share their hearts, to tell their stories, to have their necks squeezed and their cheeks kissed.

The other day when I took my Dad in for a doctor’s appointment he confessed to me secret sins and youthful lusts from his past life. I assured him that Jesus had forgiven him of all of it – and that he was now born again and God would not hold his sins against him no matter how serious his sins were at the time he committed them. As I listened to him rehash his past sins I began to realize that he was preparing his own heart for eternity – making sure all was confessed and cleansed, and that another trustworthy human being, whom he knew loved him deeply, was there to be a witness.

He also shared with me the demands put on him by my dependent Mom. His concern was that she didn’t realize how weak and frail he himself was getting, and he wondered how much longer he could care for her, and how she would fare if he died first. But he was committed to her, in sickness and in health, by life and by death. He made the decision long ago that he would go to his grave as a tree stump, stripped to the bone of all he had to give.

In that moment of heart to heart communication with my Dad, I knew what real love looked like, and it warmed my heart. For me life and success is no longer the fame of ministry, money, or some fleeting definition of success. It is not in the degrees we’ve earned, the social status we’ve achieved, or the material things we own. Our lives are simply summed up in how well we’ve loved.

Real love is allowing yourself to be stripped of your limbs, your branches, and all the fruit you’ve borne and become a stump for the cause of others and finally being able to say,

“And the tree was happy.”

PASSING ON THE BATON OF THE MOVE OF THE HOLY GHOST

Years ago the late Kenneth E. Hagin said that if people were not taught how to flow in the Holy Spirit that the experience could be lost in one generation. When he was in his 70s, he was led by the Lord to once again hold Holy Ghost meetings to teach God’s people how to flow in the Spirit and experience the move of the Holy Ghost.

Years ago I recall Brother Hagin saying, “Now, give me some time to get back into the flow of holding this type of meeting”, since it is different from conferences where teaching is the primary objective. And so he obeyed God to save a generation from losing that experience of flowing in the Spirit.

I believe we are in the generation that is losing that witness and reality in our lives because most ministers don’t have a clue of how to be used of God in this way. And if Brother Hagin had to get ‘back into the swing’ of flowing in the Holy Ghost in that dimension, how much more would it take most pastors who have never experienced flowing in the Spirit to teach their people this kind of spiritual sensitivity and yieldedness?

Maybe we need some Holy Ghost meetings to cause people to hunger for more than what they are settling for, and so they can ask their pastors, why don’t we have a move of the Spirit like that in our church?

You can’t expect a 3-point message and video-enhanced Sunday service with a manicured sermon series and matching hand-out cards to transform lives. None of those are wrong in and of themselves, but they can’t replace the reality of the Person of the Holy Spirit. What have we become?!

What audacity to avoid any demonstration of the Holy Spirit for fear of offending people! Doesn’t the Scripture tell us that tongues are a sign to the unbeliever? Wasn’t it the demonstration of the Spirit, and the gifts in operation that drew most of us to God and out of dead lifeless religion?! Holy Spirit encounters didn’t drive us out of church; it drew us in every time the doors were open! Remember those days of hunger and excitement?

People are hungry for the real thing and dumbing down the gospel, forbidding tongues, or refusing to let the Holy Spirit have His way is robbing this generation and all that follow of the supernatural power that we so desire and desperately need to make it in these end times. There is a demonstration that will draw all men to Christ because the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus.

A VISION GIVEN TO A PASTOR

Recently I had a vision. I was running with the Spirit and in the Spirit… praying in tongues, ministering in tongues and interpretation of tongues, and in the gifts of the Spirit. I was thinking about the moves of the Holy Ghost that we have experienced over the years, and the signs and wonders we’ve witnessed, and then I looked down at my hand and I was holding a baton and still running.

I felt the need to turn and pass this baton on to the anchor generation. I was quickened in my spirit that this baton represented all and more of the richness that we have experienced in the Spirit, and as I turned, I could not see anyone to pass the baton to. My heart was alarmed as I knew that there was someone there to grab it and run, but I couldn’t see them. Realizing this I wanted to slow the pace down but I couldn’t. I started to shout to encourage the anchor person to focus and run fast and hard to catch the baton.

After pondering on this vision I realized that we have such a responsibility to not give up at all no matter the condition of the church. God will have His way, and we just need to stay busy training and giving room for the demonstrations of the Spirit, so those that are hungry will run the race, and the baton will be passed to a generation that will go deeper and further should the Lord’s return tarry.

Our Holy Ghost forums that we’ve been privileged to be a part of carry the purposes of God to train others through teaching, sharing the wealth of experiences and making way for the demonstrations of the Spirit and power of God. Each forum has been increasingly powerful and rich.

I choose to focus on what God IS doing and believe with the eye of faith that the anchor generation is catching up and will finish the race. Glory to God!

This is the theme of my new book, Passing On The Move Of God To The Next Generation. This is a critical and timely message for the body of Christ and its ministers to grasp.

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WHY MOST OF THE AMERICAN CHURCH IS NOT KNOWN IN HELL

Moral compromise and selfish ambition have greatly weakened the American Church. The gospel of success has tainted us and diluted our power with God and man, while the gospel that brings true persecution is kept under a bushel. The reverential fear of the Lord, which is a prerequisite of real revival and spiritual awakening, is clearly absent from the general overall Church, save for a faithful remnant.

Compare the ministry in the early Church to ministry in the mainstream Western Church today. We boast in our monuments, our meetings, and our men. The apostle Paul boasted of the Messiah, martyrdom, and the marks on his body (Gal. 6:17). We boast in our creeds and credentials (we delight in putting our titles before our names); Paul boasted in the cross and crucifixion, though he was a very learned and educated man in his own right. We boast of being slain in the Spirit. Paul boasted of being stoned in the city. We boast of our programs and prosperity. Paul boasted of persecutions and prisons. We boast in our gain. Paul boasted in his loss. Did he know something we don’t?

“So then death is working in us, but life in you” (2 Cor. 4:12).

Today most ministries are known for their great preaching, large congregations, books they’ve written, and countries they’ve been to. Paul’s letter of recommendation was based on the sacrifice and sufferings he endured to obey God and preach the gospel.

All the great souls who have been made fit for the Master’s use are all acquainted with suffering in one form or another. American Christianity, on the other hand, is conditioned to avoid suffering at all costs. Some will even rebuke suffering and continually seek to place themselves above it. If it’s inconvenient, if it involves sacrifice, if it involves losing your life, most don’t want any part of it.

According to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the one Paul referred to as “my gospel”, any desire to save your life is a false desire (Mk. 8:35) (Mt. 16:25) (Lk. 14:27, 33). Did you get that? The American gospel of success is based on saving your life, improving your life, and chasing your dream, even though it is not God’s dream for you. Many of these false desires are cloaked under the guise of ministry, making them even more deceptive and deadly.

Peter actually rebuked Jesus for choosing the way of the cross, much like the spirit of most of today’s hyper-grace teachers, who convey that it’s okay to live as you please, never suffer and exert any effort or discipline in your walk with God, and they will even label someone a legalist or bound to the Law when they reject this basest brand of wisdom. Added to this milquetoast message for the sweet tooth, we have the purveyors of the motivational seminar, you-can-have-it all, success-in-life, pop-psychology, candy Christianity. These are our enemies that are hiding in our midst under the veil of false pretense.

Jesus rebuked Satan, as He would rebuke these groups today, for He recognized the diabolical source of Peter’s words as demonic.

“Get behind me, Satan! You are in my way, an offense and a hindrance and a snare to Me; for you are minding what partakes not of the nature and quality of God, but of men” (Mt. 16:23 – Amp.).

Jesus guarded His death more than He did His life. And that’s my main point.

Speaking of enemies, the words of Paul ring as true now as they were back then: “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things”  (Phil. 3:17-19).

Two of the characteristics of an enemy of the cross is that their belly is their god and they mind earthly things. Think about that.

This is such a picture of how Western Christianity is depicted. It is a gross dilution of what was contained in the original blueprint delivered by Jesus and then the early apostles. The message of the cross has been greatly diluted in the Church today, just as salt that has lost its savor and is good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. A Christ-like spirit of self-denial is what flavors the earth. This is the real  reason much of the Church is despised and disrespected by the world, and trampled underfoot.

Have you ever thought about this? In the beginnings of the early Church, multitudes were added to the church, while simultaneously, many would not dare join themselves to the believers (Acts 5:13-14). You see, the power and influence of the Church increased along with an increase in the polarization of those who were not ready to surrender to the Lord. There was a great line of demarcation and distinction drawn. They knew who belonged to the Lord and who didn’t.

In this Laodicean age this is where we fall so short. The scourge of American Christianity is the wisdom of men and gaining respectability in society at the expense of holiness and preaching a no compromise gospel. The result has been an awful mixture of the spirit of the world. We don’t want to lose church members, respectable associations, and fair-weather friends. This mixture is why we have no power and are without true public respect and influence. Yes, we will be persecuted, but our problem has been that we don’t want that part. Please understand that the early Church experienced persecution while at the same time being sought after and favored by the multitudes who recognized their authenticity and power.

The wisdom of men that looks so smart fools us, because it is mixed with the desire to want to be accepted and respected. That is the scourge of the modern Church today. And this is what God is going to put His finger on with His next coming move. This will actually bring a great division between the white hot Church and the lukewarm. You think there is division now; just wait until the Lord brings His winnowing fork to the Body. It is premature to look for a spiritual awakening in our nation until we see this process of surrender and submission in the Church.

The Church in Laodicea was lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold. We’ve sort of misunderstood this indictment. We have often interpreted it as if hot meant godly enthusiasm and cold meant ungodly antagonism, but there is another explanation that suits the historical and geographical context better. Laodicea was situated between two other important cities, Colossae and Hieropolis.
Colossae, wedged into a narrow valley in the shadow of towering mountains, was watered by icy streams which tumbled down from the heights. In contrast, Hieropolis was famous for its hot mineral springs which flowed out of the city and across a high plain until it cascaded down a cliff which faced Laodicea. By the time the water reached the valley floor, it was lukewarm, putrid, nauseating.

The parallel is striking. At Colossae, one could be refreshed with clear, cold, invigorating water. At Hieropolis one could be healed by bathing in its hot, mineral-laden pools. But at Laodicea, the waters were neither hot (for health) nor cold (for drinking) – or, good for nothing.

“Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you?” (Acts 19:15). Hieropolis I know, Colossae I know, but who are you Laodicea?

Very few American churches and/or ministers are known in hell. Unless you’ve obeyed the Master in denying yourself and taken up your cross, following Jesus, and truly seeking the kingdom of God, you are hardly a threat to the kingdom of darkness.

The words of the late Leonard Ravenhill say it all:

“It makes no difference to me if your name is plastered in every newspaper across this nation. It has absolutely no effect on me if your ministry is broadcast on every network around the world. Who cares if your name has become a household word across America? So what if you have a world-wide ministry with thousands of supporters. Big deal if you have hundreds of thousands of names on your mailing list. What does it matter if you pack out stadiums from coast to coast? None of this amounts to a hill of beans to me. I want to know one thing and one thing only: ARE YOU KNOWN IN HELL? Does the devil know your name? Are you on his ‘hit list?’ Are you a threat to the kingdom of darkness?”

May our faith not be found lacking.

Similar themes are found in two of my books – THE REAL GOSPEL AND PURITY OF HEART, found on this website (Holy Fire Ministries) and on Amazon.

 Copyright 2016, Bert M. Farias

Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact adm@holy-fire.org.

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JACK HAYFORD’S CONCERN, THE CURRENT SPIRIT APOSTACY, AND PASSING ON THE BATON

I received the following communique from a FB friend not too long ago. This exchange encouraged me and confirmed once again that my observations on the present state of many of our Pentecostal/Charismatic churches are indeed accurate and something every true minister needs to be concerned about. I deal with all these things in great detail in my new book, Passing On The Move Of God To The Next Generation. These kind of comments/exchanges with other leaders in the body of Christ further assures me that we are hearing the heart of God in this matter, and have touched something very dear and important to the Lord in this hour of Spirit apostasy.

Here then is the exchange.

“I just finished reading your excellent article about the diminishing use of tongues in the church. Thank you for stating what so many of us are sensing.

A few years ago, I was emailing back and forth with Jack Hayford about this subject. Jack said he was concerned with the same issue you address. For some reason many in the current generation of Pentecostal/Charismatic pastors are not making room for these demonstrations of the Spirit. This has created a generation of young leaders who are not opposed to the things of the Spirit, but have simply not seen it demonstrated in the life of the church.

As a young man during the Jesus Movement, I attended a conference at Bethany Bible College in California. During worship an old saint left the platform and walked up to me and embraced me. He began speaking in tongues in my ear. To a Baptist boy this was something strange and new, but it felt so right. That experience was so profound it changed the course of my life.

I wanted to simply connect to affirm your astute observation. I hope you and I see the return of this powerful gift to a wider audience within the church.

My response: You echo my sentiments exactly when you say that young leaders are not seeing the demonstration of the Spirit. This is because much faith is being placed on the wisdom of men (1 Cor. 2:4-5).

PASSING ON THE BATON

And then, as often happens from reading one of our articles, another minister in Australia, who personally knew a man who walked and ministered with Smith Wigglesworth, contacted me and shared a dream this man had of the importance of passing on the baton of the move of God to the next generation.

The dream featured a funeral of a former Olympic athlete all dressed up in his coffin, having already been prepared for burial. Like a final clue to an unsolved mystery, a closer look in the coffin revealed a baton resting by the athlete’s hand. The symbolism of it is so compelling. The dead man never got to hand the baton off to the next runner. Likewise, we have ministers and generals in the body of Christ that have not been able to pass on the things they’ve seen and learned because the younger ministers did not receive it.

We must understand that there is not only an apostasy from sound doctrine in many of our churches today, but there is now a growing apostasy and/or neglect of the demonstration of the Spirit and the power of God.

I received another message recently from a couple in their 50’s who had to leave the “deadness” of their church because its leaders are not allowing the Holy Spirit to move. They are presently looking for another church and they asked me if I knew of any Spirit-filled churches I could recommend in their area. It is surprising to me that they cannot find another Spirit-filled and Spirit-led church anywhere in the area where they live. We have received such requests like this before.

And finally, as further proof of this Spirit apostasy that has spurned from a new methodology (seeker-friendly churches) and philosophy in mainstream Christianity today, we just received news of a mega church in a large city in America that has dwindled to almost nothing because they chose to go this route (many others going this route are actually growing numerically). Although this was disheartening to hear, it was encouraging to know that many believers are finally waking up and realizing that something is wrong. What a grave mistake it is to close the door and limit the workings of the Holy Spirit in the local church. This mega church paid a big price for following in the way of Baal. The devil has our nation in his grip and now he’s coming after the church.

I’ve poured out my heart in my new book. I hope you get a copy. This is not about the sale of a book, but about the Holy Spirit NOT being for sale.

 

THE SINNER’S BALLAD: THE DEVIL’S DOPE OFFERS MUHAMMED ALI NO HOPE

Muhammed Ali. The sound of his name is known the world over. He was arguably the greatest boxer who has ever lived. He is a very famous man. But the scripture that always comes to mind when I think of such high profile people is this:

“What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul” (Mk. 8:36).

I pray that just one of the seeds of the gospel that have been sown into the soil of Ali’s heart by a faithful witness would germinate and cause true conversion in his life. I pray that the Lord has mercy on his soul and saves him even in his dying hours.

All the accolades and wonderful things people are now saying about him as he nears death are worth nothing.

Words from empty men, they are vain. To the righteous full of truth they can even cause pain.

They have no power to help the man. They give him a false comfort; this is the devil’s plan.

All these high and mighty commendations that those who knew him pull,

Are clouds without rain, just a bunch of bull.

Trees that bear no fruit are words disconnected from Jesse’s root.

Wandering stars in the blackest night are the pretentious words of man that offer no light.

All that can help a sin-sick man like Ali is the Blood of the man that came out of Galilee.

Islam is a big fat lie from the pit of hell.

It is demonic, and deceptive and can never make a man well.

Many mighty men through generations of time

Would give anything now dead if out of hell they could climb.

Hell opens its mouth wide and swallows them up,

Disbelieving in the Savior who already drank that cup.

Even though they’ve been slaves to their sin and master,

When they die without Christ it’s the most tragic disaster.

You can laud their skills and accomplishments in life;

Say pretty words at their funeral that hide your strife.

You can even tell humorous stories and make his mourners laugh,

But if they knew where the man now is they wouldn’t resort to such a gaffe.

For any man that dies without Christ should make one weep,

At the misery of a hopeless destination, that plays to keep.

From such there is no exit from beyond the deep.

Go ahead and say your soothing R.I.P.s

And pretend he now rests on flowery beds of ease.

Pretend that his false gods can be appeased

And save his soul even after he leaves.

No, my friend, no. One thousand times, no.

To the wicked, says God, peace does not flow.

They are all a ship of fools who believe in no sacrificial substitution,

But only trust law and rules scripted by some dead institution.

Be good to your neighbor, they say.

Let each man find his own happy way.

They tell you every religion leads to heaven,

Unware that this is in fact the devil’s leaven.

Help the poor and suffering humanity,

And you’ll enter heaven’s door to a blissful eternity.

Who you worship doesn’t really matter.

If it’s Muhammed or Mary they’ll help you climb that ladder.

Those who think they can save themselves by heeding these lies

Will die the eternal death never to part those heavenly skies.

It’s only holy Blood that can save a man’s soul;

The Blood of one born to a virgin is what will make him whole.

Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ is more than a curse word;

He’s the One and only God and Savior of the world.

Any other word is the devil’s dope,

Lies you’ve heard that give no hope.

I hope men like Ali discover this, before they descend forever into the awful abyss.