Know God by Name – God, My Husband

 

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For your Creator will be your Husband; the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is His Name!  He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, the God of all the earth, (Isaiah 54:5, emphasis mine).

When God reclaimed me, in September1992, He gave me all of Isaiah chapter 54 as a rhema word[1] for my life.  But it made no sense to me because I had a husband.  Just as confusing was the beginning of the chapter, which talks about many, many children for the barren woman:

Sing, O childless woman, you who have never given birth!  Break into loud and joyful song, O Jerusalem, you who have never been in labor.  For the desolate woman now has more children than the woman who lives with her husband, says the Lord, (Isaiah 54:1, emphasis mine).

I had a husband and two kids in the very next room at the time that these words were jumping off the page at me.  I wasn’t barren, I wasn’t childless.  So while I knew that God was speaking to me, personally, I was also very puzzled about the meaning of all this.

Years later, after the divorce, God called me to full-time ministry in Europe.  I was sitting on a train in Italy when He reminded me that He would be my husband.  I felt giddy, and thought that I had only imagined that He had said it to me.  When the train pulled into the station I had only two minutes to change trains.  I had to manage my heavy suitcase down the stairs, across to the right track, back up the stairs, and somehow find the right car on the next train.  Going down the stairs was easy.  Gravity is your friend for getting a heavy suitcase down the stairs.  At the bottom of the stairs to the track for my next train, I took a moment to brace myself for the hoist.  At that moment I felt a rough hand grab the bag out of my hand.  A big black man took the suitcase up the stairs for me and set it down at the track on the left (how had he known that I was taking the train on the left track?), and he walked off without a word, vanishing into the crowd.  Just then the train pulled into the station.  I checked my ticket: I needed to get onto car number eleven.  When it stopped guess which car stopped right where my bag sat: car number eleven.  Then the Lord whispered, “See, I know how to take care of you like a husband should.”

Then two years ago I had a dream.  In this dream I was in a park with a pool.  All around the pool was beautiful green grass.  Now, I’m like a little kid when it comes to swimming pools.  Even at my age (60), I will dive and dive and dive until I make myself physically ill.  In the dream that’s what I was doing: diving and diving off the board into the pool.  Then I came up out of the pool to go around and get in line again.  But this time I stopped because there was Jesus standing just about twenty feet away.  I knew that He wanted to marry me, so went over to Him.

I have a ring that I wear on my left ring finger (wedding band finger).  It is a Mobius strip with Jeremiah 29:11[2] engraved on it.  I took the ring off my finger and put it in His hand.  Then I knelt before Him.  I don’t know how, He might have knelt, too because we remained face-to-face, gazing into each other’s eyes.  He put the ring back on my finger all the time holding my gaze.  And we stayed like that, eyes locked, for a long moment.  His eyes communicated a love to me that was as fierce as it was tender.  I never wanted that moment to stop.  I felt so much love, even though He never said a word.

Friends and family sometimes worry about me because I am alone a lot of the time.  They think that a marriage would fix that problem.  But some of the loneliest people on earth have a spouse next to them in bed at night.  There is a vast difference between being alone and being lonely.

Suki once prophesied over me from Isaiah 45:1-3 (putting my name in the place of Cyrus’):

This is what the Lord says to his anointed, to Alisa, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before her and to strip kings of their armor, to open doors before her so that gates will not be shut: I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron.  I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name[3].

This was not the first time I had received a word like this.  The Lord reminds me again and again, through various prophets, about hidden treasures, the full inheritance, the table full of whatever I want.  I know that God loves me and that He provides everything I could ever want or need.  Truly, I know that God is my Divine Husband.  What more could I possibly want?  God is good!

[1] A rhema word is a verse or passage from the Bible that is perceived to be a personal message from God.

[2] For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

[3] New International Version of the Bible, emphasis mine.

Giving Wisely and Compassionately

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When I moved to Milan, it was my first time ever to live in a big city.  I actually had more culture shock from city living than I did from living in a foreign country.  One of my earliest lessons was never to greet strangers on the street.  The ones that have money will not return your greeting, no matter how friendly.  The ones that don’t have money will take it as an invitation to ask you for money.  In fact, I learned that it’s also not wise even to make eye contact with strangers because some of them will take it as another kind of invitation, and will follow you home.

Beggars are a huge issue here in Milan.  Lots of people don’t give any money to beggars, ever, period.  But Jesus said, “Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow,” (Matthew 5:42, emphasis mine).  But there are so many, many beggars here.  Plus there are trafficked people that are forced to beg.  If you give money to a trafficked person it’s not going to help their situation at all.  It’s just going into the pocket of their traffickers.  And if trafficking continues to be profitable, they will continue to traffick and enslave people.

So what’s a compassionate person to do in the face of all this?  One thing that I was inspired to do several years ago was to set aside a “beggar’s purse.”  And whenever I got a 50 cent coin I would put it in that purse to give to beggars whenever they asked.  But as Jesus said, they had to ask for it.  But I still didn’t feel good about giving to beggars because that coin—or even the whole little coin purse for that matter—will never make their life better.

In my house I have a big box of io-ti cards, so called because they all start with the Italian phrase “Io ti . . .” and signed by God.  And the cards say various things: I love you, I am listening to you, I know you, I forgive you, and I am searching for you.  The io-ti cards are a great evangelistic tool, especially for people who don’t speak Italian.  They are great for leaving in a seat on the bus or on the window of a car or in a mailbox, besides simply handing them to people, however the Holy Spirit inspires.  I always pray over a small mixed pile of io-ti cards before leaving the house, that their message will bring salvation to the recipient.

The other day inspiration hit, and I taped a 50 cent coin to an io-ti card, specifically: “Io ti amo,” (I love you).  It occurred to me that “I love you” are words that beggars never hear, and probably the idea that God loves them would be especially important—life changing—for them.

The coin taped to the card is not the only way that I have prepared the cards in advance.  I also pray over the cards.  I ask God to assign an angel to go with each card to speak His words of love to the person that receives it.  I also pray that none of the cards will be discarded once the coin is removed, but that the recipient will read the card again and again.  And of course I pray for the salvation of each recipient.

Now whenever I leave the house, I take both the coin purse and several coins taped to the I love you card (as well as my usual mixed pile of cards).  The difference is that now I don’t wait for the beggars to ask.  Whenever I see a beggar, I pull out a card and give it to them before they can even ask.  Most beggars here have a McDonald’s small drink cup that they use for collecting money in.  The card fits perfectly into the cup—like it’s made for it.

The response has been great.  I’ve gotten a lot of smiles and thanks.  But, of course, that’s not why I do it.  More than anything else, I want to see the beggars saved, along with everyone else in my city.  That’s something that the traffickers can’t take away from them.  Who knows?  Maybe a few of them will get saved, too.  God is good!

Know God by Name Jehovah Jireh

 

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One of the most interesting things I’ve noticed in the Bible is the way that God revealed Himself to people through His Name.  So I would like to do a mini-study based on the Names of God.  So we will start today by looking at my favorite Name of God: Jehovah Jireh[1], The Lord, my Provider.  I have unashamedly and unapologetically made that personal (my Provider) because I have learned firsthand that He is indeed my Provider.

This Name appears in Genesis 22:1-18, where Abraham is climbing Mount Moriah with Isaac, a knife, and a bundle of wood, but no animal to sacrifice.  God told him to go to the mountain, build an altar, and sacrifice Isaac, the son he loves, there.  Abraham did as God said.  When Isaac asked about the sheep, Abraham said, “God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,” (verse 8).  And indeed He did.

Here’s the thing that both Abraham and I have learned about God, our Provider: He’s never early and He’s never late.  God always shows up just at the right time.  And He doesn’t show up empty-handed (so to speak).  In this episode God showed up with a ram for the sacrifice.

I have many stories on my blog and in my books of God as my Provider:

  • God meets Radical Faith with Radical Provision – In 2011 when my small income was cut in half God made up all of the shortfall for me. I won’t rewrite the whole thing here, but you should check it out because it was flat-out amazing.
  • Bible Pocket – A story in three parts about God multiplying the money in the zipper pocket of my Bible. I told this story in my second book, Laughing in my Dreams.
  • All Expenses Paid – In 2010 I volunteered at a conference that I literally didn’t have the money to pay for. This story is also told in Laughing in my Dreams.
  • One Cent Roundtrip Flight to Canada – This one I will retell below, enjoy!

I was in the process of selling my house when I came across a collection of wheat pennies that my dad had left me.  I had taken the collection to a coin dealer several years before, so I knew that my chances of selling the collection was not good.  Wheat pennies are not valuable or rare.  Still, I took it to a coin dealer with a reputation for being honest and fair.  His reaction was exactly what I had expected.  He said that a wheat penny is worth one and a half cents—not really worth his time.  Then I remembered that at the bottom of the sack there was one penny in a plastic holder.  I pulled it out and his eyes popped.  He grabbed his coin book and looked it up.  He showed me what the book said and offered me $650 for the whole collection, $600 for the special penny and $50 for the rest.

Sometime later, I had a conference in Canada to attend.  I had the feeling that this conference was important, but two things bothered me: first, I hadn’t had any communication from them in months, even after numerous e-mail inquiries—it had been cancelled, for all I knew.  Second was the cost to fly to the conference in Halifax from Texas was about $600.  Nevertheless, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was important for me to go, so I prayed about it again, asking God if He really wanted me to go, and pointing out the cost.  Immediately He responded, “The cost for you is only a wheat penny.”  I laughed, and it still makes me laugh.  I love that God has a sense of humor!

The conference did turn out to be important.  A speaker at that conference said this, which I will pass along to you:  “Some of you are laboring to have Ishmael, when God wants you to open your arms and receive for Isaac.”  Will you trust God to be your Provider today?  God is good!

[1] The Names are anglicized to make them simpler to read and pronounce.

A Visit from Roger

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Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.  Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise, (Philippians 4:8, emphasis mine).

Ever since I first heard about the Rapture (sometime in the mid-1970’s), I’ve been fascinated at the idea.  This is probably obvious to those of you who read my blog.  And the more I learn about the Rapture, the more convinced I am that it is a real event (future as of this writing!), it is pre-tribulation, and it is imminent (could literally happen anytime now).  All of that makes me want to jump and shout because it means that soon and very soon I will be face-to-face with Jesus.

But along with the fascination with the Rapture comes a whole lot of other, darker stuff.  Let’s face it: the world and all its evils will get worse and worse as the Rapture approaches.  Then God will catch us away before the really bad stuff hits the fan.  And I admit that I’ve also been fascinated with the escalating bad stuff, too.  Escalating bad stuff means that the Rapture is closer and closer.  The danger with becoming fascinated with the bad stuff is that it can cause you to take your eyes off of Jesus, however briefly.

And let’s face it, there’s some really interesting bad stuff.  There’s deep, dark, secret stuff that’s been going on behind the scenes for a long time: Bohemian Grove, Roswell and UFO’s, Freemasonry of the Founding Fathers, the Georgia Guidestones, CERN’s search for the God particle, DARPA’s weather experiments and genetic modification of soldiers, The Committee of 300 and the Club of Rome, Dark Eyed Kids, Jade Helm, transhumanism, and on and on.

I could put links to each of those items, but today the Lord has been speaking to me about guarding my thoughts.  The problem with looking into the bad stuff is that it can lead you down a very negative path.  I’m not saying that we should ignore the bad stuff altogether.  In fact there are some people whose calling is to look into the bad stuff and report on it: Chuck Missler, Tom Horn, L.A. Marzulli, Russ Dizdar, and Cris Putnam, just to name a few.  They have written great books, made great videos, and speak at churches, reporting on the bad stuff.  Theirs is important work.  They are watchmen, appointed by God to report these things to the Church[1].  But their work is not my work.  I have the Spiritual Gift of Encouragements, and my work is to encourage missionaries in Europe (my mission field).

While pondering these things at my computer, I had a visitor.  I found him on my balcony, sniffing at my door: a young ginger tabby that I knew must belong to my neighbors.  Their balcony is separated from mine only by a frosted glass partition.  I opened the balcony door and he came creeping shyly in, his curiosity winning over his shyness.  We quickly became friends, and I scooped him into my arms.

When I rang my neighbors’ doorbell they laughed at the sight of my new friend.  I said, “Did you lose something?”  They said that his name is Roger, and that this hadn’t been Roger’s first visit to my balcony.  Adding that they hope his visits don’t disturb me.  I said, “Quite the opposite: I love cats, and I enjoyed his visit.  I do hope that he comes back.”

When I returned to the computer The Lord showed me something important.  If I let my mind go too far down those dark paths, I risk quenching the Holy Spirit in me and compromising my ministry.  The Holy Spirit, He reminded me, is often as quiet and shy as my new little friend.

Then He began to teach me everything that I need to know about the bad stuff.  The bad stuff that is surely coming and is already happening in the world should encourage us, and here’s how:

  • Jesus is coming! We should never lose sight of the fact that Jesus is coming.  All the bad stuff really should point us to this fact.
  • Knowing that Jesus is coming should motivate us to get out there and share our faith. There are billions of people out there that would go to hell if the world ended right now.  But God in His mercy has given us time to get out there and tell them about the Way to Life.  That time is not unlimited.  The cosmic clock is ticking down, so we should get out there and make the most of the time we have left.
  • Revival has started! Yes, Revival has started!  Now, you might not be seeing people beating down the doors of your church yet, but remember, Revival always starts at the House of God.  In other words, Revival starts with us.  And the really exciting thing is which ones of us: the Youth of the Church.  This young generation of Christians are more excited, more committed, and far bolder than any generation before them.

I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy.  Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions.  In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants—men and women alike, (Joel 2:28-29).

We are seeing this scripture being fulfilled—hallelujah!

  • When Revival spreads further (when the Spirit has been poured out on the rest of the people), then we will see people beating down the doors of the church. That is something I want to see.  And I will see it!
  • By focusing on God, and who He is, you will begin to see that what the world calls crisis is really opportunity. While everyone around us is worried about their job in the “economic crisis,” they will see the difference in us because we look to God as our Provider.

While everyone around us is worried about the “refugee crisis,” they will see the difference in us because we see it for the unparalleled opportunity that it is to show the love of God and to share our faith.

While everyone around us is worried about terrorist activity, they will see the difference in us because we have peace in the midst of terrorism, anarchy, chaos.

The world’s crisis is opportunity for the Kingdom of God.  Jesus said: “The Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force,” (Matthew 11:12, NKJV).  Let’s take back ground now.

Our world view should be radically different from the world’s.  We need to be light in this dark and ever-darkening world.  That’s what God made us to be, after all.  If you need to readjust your focus (as I did), then do it.  Thanks Roger!  God is good!

[1] Church as in the Body of Christ worldwide, not any particular denomination.

Malta

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Day One

Although travel took up most of the day, this, our first day, was an interesting and eventful one.  We arrived in Malta and went to the home of our host.  There we were given a briefing on the history of the island, which had suffered many invasions, and miraculously fought some off.  Malta was also the most bombed place in World War Two.  I remembered hearing this when I was on Malta almost three years ago (see Dancing in My Dreams).

Our host also shared that, based on the research of Bob Cornuke, the likely real place of Paul’s shipwreck (Acts 28) was not at St. Paul’s Bay, as Maltese legend has it, but just five minutes’ walk from the apartment where we are staying.  So we took a walk down there, and began our prayers for Operation Capitals of Europe (OCE) Malta where Paul had come ashore.

Day Two

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We had a morning meeting at the Happy Hive Café.  The Happy Hive was founded by the friends who hosted me on my first trip to Malta.  We started the meeting with a time of worship.  As we prayed, the issue of identity surfaced very quickly.  Of the four Maltese people in attendance, two had exhibited a problem to simply identify themselves as being Maltese, instead they had each launched into a description of their foreign roots.  So we gathered around the Maltese people, and prayed and honored their identity as Maltese.

I understood that worship would be a key to praying in Malta, so before going out into the city, I took the worship leader aside.  Bruno is Maltese, and I encouraged him to bring his guitar on the prayer walk.  He was happy to do so.

Lars had a word from the Holy Spirit to pray at the low places, so our prayer walking strategy for today targeted the low places of the high capital city of Valletta.  We started walking at the City Gate that has been rebuilt in a modern, open style, and walked a large circle route around the city center.  We prayed at the Prime Minister’s Palace.  Afterwards as we walked through the gardens to the next place, we noticed that in the garden there was a fountain springing up like an artesian well.  “Spring up, O wells!” was a phrase that had come to us during the time of worship.

We prayed at the War Rooms, which had been tunnels of refuge from the bombardment of cannonfire from invading ships, and more recently bombings of World War Two.  Malta, as noted above, was the most bombed place in all the war.

Then we walked along the Grand Harbour to the Lower Barrakka Gardens where we prayed and had a time of worship.  There Bruno told us of a vision he had while walking along the Grand Harbour.  He strummed the guitar as he recounted the vision:

I saw an underwater bomb.  They used to detonate bombs underwater to make bodies surface, so that they could receive a proper burial.  This deep underwater bomb I saw made bubbles and ripples.  The ripples were coming out of a central point and going out, getting bigger and bigger.

Then Mary, another Maltese, told us of a saying: “Go find a Turk.”  This was said when someone is angry, as if to say: “take your anger out on a Turk, not on me.”  I didn’t recognize the melody that Bruno was playing, but immediately the Holy Spirit gave me the following lyrics to sing to that melody:

Go find a Turk

And tell him about the Lord.

Go find a Turk

And love him in the Lord.

After listening to me sing it once, everyone chimed in and sang it with me several times, thus, redeeming the saying.  We sang and laughed and prayed into the Maltese identity of hospitality (as in Acts 28) and healing.  We noticed another fountain in the middle of the garden, with water springing up like the one at the Prime Minister’s Palace.

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Next we looked across to the Siege Bell, which had been used to warn of invasion forces.  To actually reach the Siege Bell would have taken about fifteen minutes of going down, across the road, and climbing back up to the Bell.  As it was, we were only about 50 meters from the bell, and on the same level.  As we finished our prayers at the bell, a softer bell sounded in the distance behind us.  It was a joyous ring instead of that alarm bell.

After praying there, we proceeded on to the Knights Hospitaller Convalescent Center.  There we prayed for an end to the secrets, secrecy, and secret societies; to bring all the secrets into the light.  Even though these Knights Hospitallers (Knights of St. John) are very different from the Knights Templar, nevertheless, secrets are not good for a place that has suffered in secrecy and from secret conspiracies.  The Knights of St. John gained some recognition in the evangelical world when Rick Joyner became one of them.

Then we walked to the Grand Master’s Palace/Presidential Palace, so named because it had been the palace of the Grand Master of the Knights and then was the Presidential Palace.  In the piazza in front of the Palace there was another fountain with many places where water was springing up.  (It was in this piazza that I participated in a dancing flash mob when I was here before.)

We stood outside the Palace and watched the changing of the guards, which is significant—a change of the old guard!  Then we entered the courtyard and there in the garden we prayed.  The skies began to darken and we felt a drop or two.  We prayed for the rain to stop until our prayer walk was finished.  Almost immediately the sun came back, shining brightly and the rain stopped, though the clouds remained all around.  One teammate made a prophetic declaration for Malta:

I bless you with leaders who transmit life, in which they show favor to you and through that they open doors to you.  I bless you with leaders who are steadfast and ask discipline and eagerness of you.  I bless you with leaders who are a good example to you in relationship to other people.  I bless you with leaders who make a way for you in difficult situations.  I bless you in the name of the One who goes before you.

Finally, we walked to the Parliament building, which is by our starting point at the City Gates.  There we prayed, and one person noticed a door marked “No Entry, MP’s only!”  The remarkable thing about this was that the door was standing open.  One of the Maltese men in our group made a prophetic act of entering the door.  I did another prophetic act by placing my tiny travel Bible on top of the Parliament sign, declaring that all the laws and acts coming from Parliament will be done under the Word of God and under God’s authority.  One teammate noted later that the Bible was gone from the place, so we prayed that the Word would be planted deep into that person’s heart.

Day Three

We started the day again at the Happy Hive Café, and a local Maltese pastor and his wife, among other locals, joined us.  After a time of worship and prayer, the pastor encouraged us to look for the hidden things, not just those things that appear on the surface.  Because there are many secret things that lie hidden under the surface.  He said this not knowing anything about the word Lars had gotten about praying in the low places.  The pastor also prayed for the Maltese people to receive an apostolic anointing.  Then as a group we prayed for Mary, commissioning her before she leaves the next day for a mission trip to Rwanda and possibly also for Uganda—on a one-way ticket.

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After lunch we went to the Hypogium to go deep in prayer—deep under the earth, that is (remember we were supposed to pray in the low places).  The Hypogium is an underground temple/burial place and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The United Nations was created for the purpose of bringing about a one world government.  Their charter doesn’t put it that way, but that is their goal, which will ultimately find its fulfillment in uniting the world under the antichrist.  There is no doubt Masonic and Illuminati involvement in the United Nations.  The UNESCO World Heritage Sites are places of religious significance, regardless of pagan or satanic significance.  In fact, the WH sites are overwhelmingly satanic in nature.

Therefore, we prepared in advance by praying and writing Bible verses onto tiny slips of paper.  All our activities inside the Hypogium were carefully controlled, and a guide was always with us.  We had suspected that it would be like this, so we had agreed in advance that we would pray individually, each as they felt led.  However, the atmosphere inside made prayer very difficult indeed.  One teammate asked the Lord how to pray inside with the guard watching and so forth.  The Lord answered, “It’s enough that you’re here.”  Surprisingly we were able to get the Bible verses placed inside, unseen, and to sprinkle salt to purify in every part of the Hypogium.  I asked a teammate to block me from the guide’s view as I leaned as far as I could into the room called the “Holy of Holies” and placed my Bible verse there.

After the tour we gathered and prayed on the sidewalk just outside the door, then the Holy Spirit instructed me to do the strangest prophetic act that I have ever done: spit on the doorstep of the Hypogium, as a sign of rejecting the death spirit/goddess spirit of that place.  So I asked the other teammates to block me from the view of the guides inside.  I took a big mouthful of water from my bottle and violently spat it out on the doorstep.

In the evening some of our group attended a local prayer meeting at the house of a Maltese couple.  The worship and prayers flowed in the Spirit.  This group has been meeting and praying for several years.  No doubt it is because of their prayers that Malta has been a relatively easy place in which to pray.

One of the German members of our group knelt on the floor at the prayer group meeting.  Without planning it, she was at the feet of three Maltese.  One person asked her to tell them about her ministry of reconciliation.  She explained that as a German, she feels led to pray and ask forgiveness for what her country did to their country.  What the Germans did to Malta was to incite Italy to attack Malta.  So she prayed and repented on behalf of the German people for what her country did to Malta.  This was an important step before we leave Malta.

Day Four

In the morning we joined a Charismatic Catholic prayer group—a very large group, at something like 70-80 people—for a time of prayer and worship.  Although this is a largely Catholic group, there are people from diverse denominations and many different places.  I found this thrilling.  This is how the Body of Christ should be: One United Body, focusing on Who we have in common rather than our petty differences; and focusing on the task at hand: sharing the love of Jesus with a lost and dying world.  I would love to see this kind of holy cooperation spread to Italy.  We need to stop empire-building and start building the Kingdom!

Lars spoke to the group and shared the vision of OCE, then they gathered around and prayed and prophesied over us.

After lunch we went to the far side of the Grand Harbour from Valletta and prayed in several places:

By the water we prayed about all the people that had lost their lives in the harbor.  A large number of water deaths is a sign of evil water spirits, so we read Isaiah 27:1:

In that day the Lord will take His terrible, swift sword and punish Leviathan, the swiftly moving serpent, the coiling, writhing serpent.  He will kill the dragon of the sea.

The wind by the water was very strong and gusting forcefully, often changing directions.  It could have been a reaction in the spirit realm.  The wind continued throughout the afternoon, without letting up.

At Land’s End, Fort St. Angelo we searched for the place where it is said that the Jews had been chained at low tide and left to drown when the tide came in.  We didn’t find any obvious place, but we did pray, repenting for the innocent Jewish lives sacrificed there.

In the enclosed garden area of Fort St. Angelo one of our Maltese hosts prayed in Malti, releasing a lot of things.  As she prayed, one of us commented that she could hear whispering all around us that stopped as the prayers finished.  At the end of her prayers a bell rang in the distance, and simultaneously there was the boom as of a cannon.  We all rejoiced loudly.

Inside the Fort we were waved off by the guards, saying that the Fort is closed.  But a couple of members of our group pleaded to be let in just for a moment to take a picture.  In the meanwhile, a couple of others distracted the guards, chatting with them, allowing the first two to go far deeper into the Fort than the guards would have allowed.  The rest of us prayed outside the door.

At the Inquisitor’s Palace where Jews were tortured and forced to convert to Catholicism or were chained at Land’s End to drown.  Again we found it closed, so we prayed inside the waiting room between the Museum and the Tourist Office.  This was another very difficult place to pray.

At the Provence Gate that had been the stronghold of the French Knights—the first land line of defense for the Fort.

After all this we went to the Happy Hive for a light supper there.  The wind continued, and it howled and gusted all night, seeming only to get stronger and stronger.

The Morning After our Last Day / Travel Day

We must have stirred something up because besides the wind, right outside my bedroom door at 4:00 this morning I heard a German Shepherd bark—one single, audible, snarly bark.  I know it wasn’t a real dog.  It was a spirit.  Cristianne, a German colleague, has been praying and repenting on behalf of the German people, so the spirit was probably angered at what she’s been doing—and Cristianne has been in every capital so far doing the repenting and reconciliation for the German people.  When the defeated enemy’s forces are angry, you know you’ve accomplished something big.  God is good!

Nicosia / Lefkosia

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The Days Leading up to the Trip

Lars came earlier this week to stay in my spare room because of a conference in Milan.  Actually, I had been asked months ago to host several of their leaders, but Lars turned out to be the only one from the conference that was staying with me.  This would be convenient for us because after the conference ended, we were going on another Operation Capitals of Europe (OCE) trip, flying out of town together.

Although Lars was the only one from the conference staying with me, he was not the only person staying in my house.  The last day of the conference I found Lars in the kitchen prophesying over Daniele, the other person in my house (see A Day in the Life of a Missionary).  All three of us were encouraged by this early morning encounter.

Then early Friday morning Lars and I went to the airport and boarded our flight to Cyprus.  We were met by Hilda, a missionary to Cyprus.  As she drove, Hilda explained to us that she had arranged lodging with a woman from her church, and she took us to her house.  When we arrived at Winnie’s house, we could see that Winnie was well-off.  The garden was beautifully kept, as was the house.  The rest of our group stayed the night with a friend that lives near the airport, so it was just Lars and me staying the first night with Winnie.

Despite not having much experience with hosting people, Winnie proved herself to be a fantastic hostess.  Usually on these trips we are used to making do with a sandwich, overcooked pasta, fast food, or perhaps a big pot of soup.  But Winnie prepared us a truly elegant dinner of salmon fillets with steamed asparagus and new potatoes.  I felt very pampered, indeed.

Day One

Saturday morning we met the rest of our team at the hosting church, not far from Winnie’s house.  Hilda set up the prayer room with a prophetic centerpiece: a map on the coffee table, covered by almond blossoms and a decorative lamp.  Pastor Craig came to meet us and join us in our first prayers at the church.  He apologized that he would not be able to join us in prayer walking, but explained that he had guests that had come from Israel.  Besides worshiping and seeking guidance, we also prayed for Craig before he left us to return to his house guests.  Then we strategized about where and how to pray in the old city.

The northern part of this island nation was invaded by Turkey in 1974, and has been occupied ever since.  But recently, people from both sides of the occupation border have been getting together and protesting.  Nicosia is the last divided capital in Europe.  In fact, it is the only divided capital city in the world.  Division and the Turkish intrusion and occupation forces were to be major prayer points.  And with this in mind, before going to the old city to prayer walk, Hilda had someone she wanted us to meet.

At first sight, I thought that we were there to pray for some kind of healing for Gus, who told us that he is 88 years old.  Gus is a key person in the peace process.  He has both Greek Cypriot and Turkish blood.  His surname is Turkish, but he grew up in Cyprus.  Because of his background and family, Gus is trusted by both sides.  And since Gus doesn’t work for either side, he is in the best possible position to bring about the peace process.  Best of all, Gus is a born-again believer.  After hearing his story, we prayed and prophesied over Gus.  Specifically it was prophesied that Gus will live to see reunification.  We prayed for angelic agents to intervene where human or angelic agents with bad intent might interfere with the peace process.  It was clear that our visit encouraged Gus very much.

Next we went to the Ledra Museum Observatory on the eleventh floor of the Shacolas Tower.  On the way, we passed through the Paphos Gate of the old city and prayed there.  There remain three of the original city gates, so we have determined to pray at each of them.  We placed an almond blossom at the gate as a prophetic act.  At the Tower we divided into teams and prayed into each of the four compass directions, with particular focus on the occupied north.  The ticket seller came to speak to our group, and we shared that we are praying for her country.  We asked for her prayer requests, and at the top of her list, what she said first was a Solution, meaning reunification.  We also prayed for her, personally, and it was easy to see that she was moved by the tears in her eyes.

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After lunch we crossed the checkpoint into the occupied northern part of the city, locally called Lefkosia.  Almost immediately after we all got through the checkpoint, we heard whistles.  The whistles got louder and soon we could also hear chanting.  That’s when we realized that there was a demonstration marching toward us.  The front line of marchers held a homemade banner proclaiming in Turkish, English, and Greek: “Demilitarised (sp) Nicosia.”  Others held Cypriot flags.  The demonstrators (composed of Northern and Southern Cypriots) passed us and stopped just short of the checkpoint.  There they were met by perhaps two dozen armed police.  Then the demonstrators turned on a boombox and took turns breakdancing to the music.  I rejoiced inwardly because this is exactly how most demonstrations work in Italy, too: protest becomes party.  What could the police do?  They just watched.  So we watched and prayed just a short distance away.  After dancing for about ten minutes, the demonstrators quietly dispersed.  I knew that this was a God set-up because if they had come ten minutes earlier or later, we would have missed them.  Instead, we had front row seats to this peaceful demonstration to reunify Cyprus.

Then we walked to St. Sophia church, which has been turned into a mosque (one of the most prominent things that we had seen from the Tower).  We divided into two teams to walk around the church, praying and reclaiming it for the Kingdom of God.  One team went clockwise, the other counter-clockwise.

After the church we went to the Bandabuliya Market, which is the old city market, and walked through it.  The market had been shut for many years after the invasion.  Now it was reopened with many stores still empty.  It was a sad shadow of what it must have been in pre-occupation times.  We agreed that at least they had made an effort to revive it.

Next we went to the second of the three gates, the Kyrenia Gate, where we prayed and placed another almond blossom.  While we rested there, Lars took out a map and noticed something.  The Turkish Cypriot Parliament and the Turkish Embassy were right across the street from one another, and they just happened to be very close to the Gate where we were.  So we decided that this was a strategic place to go and pray to cut off the connection between Turkey and Northern Cyprus.  As the others prayed in a group, I walked up and down the sidewalk between the two buildings, cutting the ties in the spirit.

There was a lot of traffic on the street between the Parliament Building and the Embassy.  We prayed and planted another almond blossom.  While we prayed the door to the Parliament had stood open.  When we finished, a man came out the door, shut and locked it, and walked away.  We felt that this was significant as a message to us that soon this occupation parliament would shut down to let the real Cypriot Parliament handle the ruling of a reunified Cyprus.

Day Two

Yesterday, being Sunday, we attended the pre-service prayers at our host church.  The prayer meeting was well-attended, and the prayer time was so good, and filled with prophetic words and visions, especially for the church’s upcoming move from their stable building into a tent.  What they could take as a step backward, God keeps assuring them is actually a step forward.  I believe it!

The youth led the worship, which was prophetic and very anointed.  At a certain point one of the singers, a girl about fourteen years old, began to sing prophetically what was on her heart.  But I could see that she was feeling shy.  This might have been her first worshiping in front of the whole church.  The worship leader encouraged her, and had them turn up her microphone.  Then the pastor’s wife went and crouched in front of her, giving her more encouragement through smiles and gestures—and it worked!  I could see this only because I was in the front row.

After announcements, the pastor called our group up, prophesied over us, and invited others to do likewise (on paper for those with picture prophecies or who felt too shy to speak a prophecy).  It was very encouraging!  It looked like at least one person from each family came up to give a word, either to an individual or to the whole group, even children.  Then we were prayed for, blessed, and sent out for our last day of prayer walking.

We started at the Presidential Palace, praying by the exit gate.  One thing that was prayed was that the puppet strings of those controlling the President behind the scenes be cut, and in fact, those strings were also seen as chains.  We expect to see changes in his presidency.

Then we walked a short distance across the road to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  We felt that the approach to foreign affairs was xenophobic due to the island being partly occupied.  So we prayed to break off all fear and mistrust of foreigners, and that righteousness, especially with regard to refugees, become their response and way of dealing with foreigners.

After that we walked to the Parliament Building, which didn’t look at all like we had expected.  The front door was an automatic-opening glass door with a smiling sun.  A face on the sun is a pagan symbol for the sun god.  This and other elements became part of our prayers for the Parliament of Cyprus.  We poured water across the threshold as a prophetic act.  And we read the several Bible passages for Cyprus.  Sometimes God gives me passages, too.  This time He gave me Nehemiah 5:11-12, regarding reunification:

You must restore their fields, vineyards, olive groves, and homes to them this very day.  And repay the interest you charged when you lent them money, grain, new wine, and olive oil.  They replied, “We will give back everything and demand nothing more from the people.  We will do as you say.”

Then we walked to the Famagusta Gate and found there a celebration of the Congenital Heart

Disease Association’s ten year anniversary.  As we began to pray, we were interrupted by a volunteer from the Heart Association who invited us inside for refreshments.  We told her that we would come inside in a moment, and she was satisfied.  Perhaps they were hoping for a better turnout than what they had.  We prayed at the Gate, and then pouring out red wine to symbolize spilled blood.  I looked up and saw a big iron hasp on the Gate.  It was closed, but not fastened.  So I opened the hasp of the Gate as a prophetic act.

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With all its problems (occupation in the north, and the usual problems of drugs, prostitution and human trafficking, humanism, witchcraft, etc.), Cyprus was a relatively easy place to pray.  That’s because there are believers here like this wonderful church.  We’re flying to Malta later today.  God is good!

The Biblical Meaning of the Number Zero

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I can already hear some of you saying: but zero isn’t in the Bible.  True, the word zero isn’t in the Bible.  The number zero isn’t in the Bible.  It wasn’t until about the year 130 that there is any evidence for the number zero as a stand-alone number (and not merely a place-marker)[1].  That’s 34 years after the last book of the Bible, Revelation, was written.

Modern Hebrew still has no symbol of its own for zero as a number.  Instead it uses the Arabic numbers for all the numbers, including zero.  The Hebrew word for zero, epes (pronounced EF-es), means nil or nothing.  So linguistically, Modern Hebrew still doesn’t technically have a word for zero, but the concept of zero is clearly there.

In fact, the concept of zero is also clearly found throughout the Bible: the idea that there were none, no people, no animals, no things, nothing.

This morning as I was meditating on God’s Word, I remembered that several years ago a friend had asked me what I knew about the significance of numbers in the Bible.  Honestly, I had never thought about it.  And this was long before I learned to Google for answers.  So, with Concordance in hand, I simply dove into the Bible to see for myself.  In fact, that may be the very first time that I became intrigued with Hebrew because it was fascinating to learn that words and letters have numerical values[2].

So this morning I began pondering the concept of zero from a Biblical perspective.  When studying the Bible, it’s important to remember the Law of First Mention:

It is important to look for the place in the Bible that a subject, attitude, or principle is mentioned for the first time and see what it meant there[3].

The reason to look for the first mention is because that will help you to understand better all the rest of the places where that “subject, attitude, or principle.”  The first mention establishes the true meaning of the concept.

There are many places where the concept of zero is clearly in the Bible, but the first mention is found in Genesis 1:2:

The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters.  And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.

The Hebrew word for empty is tōhû (pronounced toh-HOO), meaning void, emptiness, also vanity and worthlessness.  Not very exciting so far, right?  Well, as I started thinking about all the other places where the concept of zero, nothing, void, emptiness, etc. occurred, the Holy Spirit revealed something really cool.  Based on that first mention of void emptiness in Genesis, He showed me that the number zero is the number that requires the intervention of God.  Think about it: the earth was zero, and needed God to make something from that nothing.  Sarah’s womb was empty (and also Rachel’s and Hannah’s and Elizabeth’s and many others, most notably Mary’s), and needed God to make something—a baby.

No one is righteous—not even one, (Romans 3:10, emphasis mine).

See how zero is emphasized by repetition in this verse?  This is the most important zero in all the Bible.  Without God’s intervention, we are all lost—every single one of us.  But thank God that He sent His only begotten Son to save us.

And that led me to think about my own life.  At the end of three years of deep depression, just when it seemed that my life was a great big, fat goose egg, God intervened and made my zero into something wonderful.

Zero may not appear as a word or number in the Bible or in the Hebrew language, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.  And that certainly doesn’t mean that it isn’t important.  Thank God for intervening everywhere and every time we come to zero.  God is good!

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/0_(number)

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hebrew_numerals

[3] http://bibleresources.org/how-to-study-bible/

God is Bigger

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Someone I was talking with recently lamented that he had made some really terrible decisions in his early life with the Lord, worried that he may have gravely hindered the salvation of others around him.  I assured him (and now I’m assuring you):

God is bigger than your mistakes.

God is bigger than your bad choices.

God is bigger than your rebellion.

God is bigger than your laziness.

God is bigger than your fear.

God is bigger than your failures.

God is bigger than the lies you’ve learned to believe.

God is bigger, even, than your past.

There is no mistake that He cannot turn into an advantage.  There is no wrong choice that God cannot redeem.

These days, with time being short and the End is near, many people are prophesying gloom and doom, persecution, death and destruction.  Those things are certainly coming, but I heard the voice of another prophet, Hank Kunneman, who prophesied that this year, 2016, will be the best year yet for Christians.  What?  How?  Because Revival is coming!  The biggest Revival the world has ever seen is coming, and in fact has already started.  Here is his prophecy in full:

This year you will see My wondrous works!  The nations and their leaders will be brought to My feet.  I will break and restrain the weapons of man and the kings that hold them.  I will cause certain wars to cease and others to wait, not allowing a preempting of that which the enemy desires.  I will show the earth and My people that I am the Lord.  Do not fear for I am with you, and a host of Heaven is being positioned to bring a heavenly assault that will shift things in favor for you and in the Name of the risen Christ, Jesus.

Do not put your confidence in conspiracy theories and things being spoken that bring men to fear.  I will lift My voice to speak and My hands to move where they will.  I will burn certain weapons of the nations with fire, while I expose others to reveal My goodness.

The earth for a season will be quieted, a restraint enforced where needed, this shall be by My doing.  I am lifting My people whose heads have hung low, and I will lift them up and shut them in from troubling, chaotic events that will enfold.  It will be as I did with Noah and his family, shutting them in, so I will do with them.

The mountains will be held in their place, while others blow their tops with eruptions that reveal divine interruptions and disruptions.  The earth will shake at My whisper and be stilled by My eyes that hold it still.

I will be with My people through the propagating of fear and chaos in the earth, and through the fierce battle that will arise in the political.  I will be known and seen through the violent storms, disruptive winds, fires, shakings, eruptions, and the gathering in the streets in protest.

I am lifting My voice to speak and My voice will be heard. The earth that is mine will yield My harvest and it will obey.  So will the leaders and rulers of men.  I will calm My people and show the earth that I the Lord am in control.

Let it be known that those who decree, speak and look for My goodness will live swimming in My rivers of blessings and increase.

You will not be touched, you will not be moved from your place; I am crowning you with My goodness and shutting you in and lifting you up[1].

With our natural eyes it is all too easy to see the terrible things that are surely coming upon the earth.  And that can paralyze us into inaction.

But Christians, if we choose to see these things from God’s perspective, remembering that God is bigger than all these things, then we can be launched into action to bring in that Last Great Harvest.  Nothing in all the world is more important than bringing that Harvest in.  Reorder your priorities to line up with God’s priorities, remember His great power and His great goodness.  Nothing is too hard for God.  Nothing is impossible for God.  And because nothing is impossible for God, then nothing is impossible for us because we serve Him.

And when the job is finished, God is going to welcome His co-workers into His Presence, the best possible reward for faithful service.  God is good!

[1] https://www.ovm.org/prophetic_perspectives/2016-prophetic-perspectives.html

 

Letting off Steam

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It happens almost every time I speak to individuals or groups about Europe as a mission field: “Ah, yeah, but we have those problems here, too.”  The majority of the people who say this to me have either never been to Europe or have only been to Europe on vacation.  To be honest, I’ve never known quite how to respond to this.  Part of me wants to scream: “Don’t do that!  Don’t minimize my ministry!”

Of course, that’s not the right response, so often I say: “Yes, but Europe is much farther down the same road that we (in America) are on.”  But that fails to convey the urgency of the calling to Europe.  And, yes, it is an urgent call.

I suspect that some of these people are trying to deflect the tug of the Holy Spirit to come to Europe as missionaries (or perhaps to do the same ministry at home).  What they’re really saying is: “Why go there when the same problems exist here?”  And I could get in their faces and ask them: “OK, so you recognize these problems, what are you doing about them here?”  Because I also suspect that besides volunteering once a month in a soup kitchen, they are not doing anything tangible to change the bad situation that they acknowledge is right here in their own backyard.  Furthermore, they are probably not praying about the bad situation that’s right in their face, either—or maybe they made a single plea to God: “Lord, help these poor people.”

But I doubt that such a confrontation would be effective in motivating anyone into the mission field, either there or here.

Here’s the thing that I really want to say to all those who have remarked to me that America has the same problems as Europe:

Unless you have spent time in ministry (treasure-hunting for trafficked women, reaching out to the poor and marginalized, actively sharing the Good News, etc.) either here or there; unless you have spent time in Europe, talking to pastors and missionaries, hearing their joy at small victories and their anguish at setbacks, opposition, and seemingly impossible situations; unless you have labored on your knees over Europe, praying and fasting for the salvation of the European people, praying for the missionaries and pastors of Europe, praying for Revival in Europe, prayer walking miles and miles of what’s been enemy territory; unless you have spent thousands of dollars of your own money to answer the call of God; unless you have done at least one of those things, then you have not earned the right to say to me that America has the same problems.  Because I have done all of that.  I continue to do all of that because the task is not finished.  True, America has many of the same problems, but Europe is far worse.  So what are you doing about it?  What are you going to do about it?

Thanks for letting me blow off a bit of steam!  Europe needs more missionaries.  Are you sure that you’re not called to Europe?