Happy Resurrection Day!

IMG_1524.JPG

The mountains near Biella

Yesterday we were promised sun, and in the morning we got some very lovely sunlight.  Miriam hung out laundry on the balcony to take advantage of the sunlight.  But suddenly just after noon it began to rain and then to hail.  But the usual conditions for hail weren’t here.  It was too cold for hail, yet it hailed.  And the ice was far too big to be sleet.  It hailed on the fresh laundry, and continued to do so for almost an hour.  As we say in Texas: “if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute.”  The rain stopped soon after the hail stopped, and all was again calm.

IMG_1516.JPG

The white spots you see on the upper part of the black jacket are hail.

Late in the afternoon Lino and Clara went to meet a couple of Romanian truckers who had just arrived from Romania.  I didn’t know why they went, but I guessed it was because they’re fellow Romanian ex-pats with news from home.  I was wrong.  These truckers had brought three large suitcases full of smoked meats, cheeses, cakes, pickled peppers, and homemade wine from their family in Romania.  They told me that every few weeks the suitcases go to Romania, full of goodies from Italy, and return filled with goodies from Romania—back and forth like that.  This time they arrived just in time for Easter.

IMG_1519.JPG

Most of what you see here came today from Romania

Upon arrival of the suitcases, there was a whirlwind of excited activity in the kitchen.  They packaged-up some things to go into the fridge and some into the freezer.  But there were also frequent pauses to slice off a taste of this and a taste of that: a generous sampling for me, and a blessed taste of home for them.  Some tastes I recognized from my visits to Romania, though I couldn’t name them.  Their joy was contagious.

Today we will celebrate Resurrection Day at Pastor Fabio’s church.  And tomorrow there will be a BBQ at Pastor Fabio’s house (which is really Nina’s house).  I have been to these BBQ’s before, and they are lots of fun[1].

[1] See BBQ Becomes Ministry.

So Happy Resurrection Day to you and your family!  God is good!

[1] See BBQ Becomes Ministry.

First Stop Mongrando

d7ac8c48-0899-4bba-8929-2a6751c150a2.jpg

Panorama of the Salvation Army Camp in the Pellice Valley

Pastor Fabio, arranged for me to stay with Miriam and Lino[1] near his home in Biella.  Biella is in the foothills of the Italian Alps.  Miriam and Lino live in Mongrando, near Biella.  I hadn’t seen them since the birth of their second child, so I was thrilled that I would see them again.  But first Deborah and I had some last things to take to missionaries.

The day started early.  I got up around four, had my coffee and Bible time.  Then I began packing up the very last of my things.  I wrote several last minute instructions for Nina, who was in charge of the final cleaning of the house.  The landlady’s real estate agent had been very specific about how some things needed to be left.

Then we packed Deborah’s van—to the ceiling.  I hadn’t realized that so much stuff had still been in the house, empty as it was this past week.  The van was packed and ready to go before eight.  I said my last goodbyes to the custodians, who had been so kind and helpful to me over the years.  They promised to collect any mail that came for me in the next month or so.

And with that, I closed the house, locked the door for the last time, and slid the key under the door for Nina to give to the real estate agent when she finished her work on Saturday.

We drove to our first destination: the Pellice Valley, near the border of France, and in the foothills of the western Italian Alps.  It was an overcast day—perfect for driving, but it made the mountains invisible to us until we were right up to them.  Snow remained on the tops of most of the mountains, and as the van grumbled its way up the valley, we saw the last remnants of snow in the valley.

We delivered our things for a missionary and a missionary family—none of whom were there.  Their colleague accepted the things on their behalf, helping us to carry things to the room where they would be stored until their new owners arrive.  He offered us coffee and we got to know each other a bit.

But since Deborah had to drive to clear across northern Italy, hoping to reach her destination before the B & B owner gave up on her, we made speedy apologies and departed.  As we approached my destination, I realized that we were going to arrive about lunch time.  I didn’t want to arrive hungry, so I suggested a last lunch together.  Deborah found us a great place with a fixed-price lunch menu.  Even though it was still early for lunch in Italy (about noon), the place was packed.  We were seated upstairs in the overflow area and people continued to pour in.  We soon found out why.  The food is really cheap, really good, and the portions are enormous.  Like hummingbirds the wait staff buzzed into our area, flitting to the tables with plates and drink orders, and buzzing out again for more.

When we got back on the road again, both of us were full and fully satisfied.  The lunch place happened to be in the last of the flatland cities before the Alps.  Soon we found ourselves climbing the mountain that had been invisible to us minutes before.  The old highway wound up the hill, narrowing in places that made it difficult for cars to pass one another.  Deborah pulled as close to the unguarded edge as she dared and stopped, waiting for the oncoming car to pass around her before proceeding.  Every so often the fog lifted, giving us a terrifying and beautiful glimpse of the valley below.  After several hairpin curves we came to a tunnel.  Deborah joked that it was as if the builders of the highway had said, “OK, enough!  Let’s just tunnel through this sucker.”  Through the tunnel to the other side of the mountain we eventually came to our destination, which had confounded Google Maps.

Miriam had gone to pick up Lino from work, leaving the children in the care of her niece, Clara, who is living with them.  The house is a type that I’ve only seen in this part of Italy: three stories, each consisting of only two rooms.  Imagine taking a typical two bedroom house and stacking it up on a piece of land only an eighth of an acre in size.  In these mountains, finding a suitable piece of level land would be very challenging.  Attempting to level a piece of hillside would be futile.  Imagine trying to chip away several tons of granite.  The family room and kitchen are on the second floor[2], and the bedrooms are on the third floor.  The ground floor is a more formal living room for receiving guests.  Since the family don’t use the ground floor much, it turned out to be the ideal place to leave my suitcases.  I couldn’t imagine trying to lug them up the stairs.

IMG_1515.JPG

Jessica[3], Miriam and Lino’s daughter, is eight years old.  She remembers me from the visit to La Casa three years ago.  Jessica had made me an Easter card with a few phrases in English.  She ran to get her notebook and proceeded to show off some of her English.  Her English grades were all nines and tens[4].  I quizzed her on some body parts: nose, legs, and so forth.  And she counted to twenty for me.  Smart girl!  Her little brother came and snatched away the Easter card.  I think he wanted some attention.

When Miriam returned with Lino, we hugged, and reminisced about our meeting at La Casa.  I had brought my friend, Sandy, that time.  Sandy is a missionary in Romania, and we had celebrated Sandy’s birthday with all the people at La Casa.  Lino’s eyes welled-up because Sandy so reminded him of his mother.  I told them that Sandy had just had an operation, choosing to go to the hospital in her small town, rather than to the newer, nicer hospital a few hours away in Cluj.  They understood her bravery and faith in choosing a hospital closer to home[5].

Lino and Miriam invited me to go with them to a prayer vigil at church.  I said, “Vigil?  As in all night?”  They assured me that it would probably end around one.  I pleaded being too tired from the move, but also, I’m just not a night person.  I can do all night on occasion, but by eleven my pillow beckons.  Trust me, few things are so embarrassing as snorting yourself awake in the middle of a prayer meeting—I know!  So they left, taking Clara to her evening job on the way.

I emptied my pockets before changing for bed.  I felt all of my pockets a second time before realizing what was missing: the keys.  This is the first time in six years that I don’t have a pocketful of keys.

Then I settled into bed—my first night without an apartment.  I slept really well, and woke early, but not terribly so.  I am so grateful for this week to rest and enjoy the company of friends before heading out on Secret Weapon assignments.  It looks like I will have periodic rest times through the end of the year.  Being that travel and prophetic prayer are both exhausting, this is not only welcome, but probably very necessary.

WIN_20171230_08_31_27_Pro (1).jpg

All I need today (or any day) is a little coffee and a whole lot of Jesus!

I fixed my usual a cup of caffe Americano, American coffee, and read my Bible.  I think that as long as I can have my morning Bible and prayer time, with a cup of American coffee, I’ll be fine wherever God takes me.  God is good!

[1] You may remember Miriam and Lino from Birthday Becomes Ministry, three years ago.

[2] Called first floor in Europe.

[3] The name Jessica is spelled Gessica in Italian.  Perhaps they deliberately chose the English spelling or perhaps, being Romanian, they spelled it the Romanian way, with a J.

[4] All A’s.

[5] I know missionaries who have chosen to give birth in their third world mission field, rather than return to the US to deliver.  It is bravery and faith to put your trust into doctors who might not be as well trained as the ones at home, and in facilities that might not be as modern and nice as those at home.

Ready to Begin the Adventure!

Image result for flying

In two days the apartment goes to the new tenant.  I have enjoyed this apartment very much.  If the Lord allows me to get another place, I would love for it to be in this neighborhood again.  I’ve never lived anywhere in all my life as long as I’ve lived in Milan—in this neighborhood.  So nothing on earth feels quite as much like home as this does.

I have moved on average every five years my whole life, and the majority of those moves were long distance—including three transatlantic moves.  For the last seven years I have had dual residency.  My permit to live in Italy was not given immediately, so I began to wonder if that might mean that my time in Italy is done.  But I will get it in August—more than a year after applying for it.

I have to admit that moving is one of those things that I really hate doing.  But having this move almost over now is very freeing.  It is especially freeing to have a whole lot fewer possessions.  Everything I own in Europe is in three suitcases—and it still feels like it might be too much.

Tomorrow morning I go to stay with friends in Biella and then it’s on to a couple of prayer conferences in Switzerland and Finland.  And just in case you’re wondering, there are some Secret Weapon[1] assignments on the horizon.  Let the adventure begin!  God is good!

[1] See God’s Secret Weapon.

Rules, Rules, Rules!

Image result

  1. I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery. You must not have any other god but Me.

  2. You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods.  I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject Me.  But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love Me and obey My commands.

  3. You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse His name.

  4. Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God.  On that day no one in your household may do any work.  This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you.  For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day He rested.  That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.

  5. Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

  6. You must not murder.

  7. You must not commit adultery.

  8. You must not steal.

  9. You must not testify falsely against your neighbor.

  10. You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.

Exodus 20:2-17[1].

In the Bible there are laws—God’s commandments—which must be obeyed, and there are rules.  My question to God this morning was: what is the difference between a law and a rule?  The Bible gives us Ten Commandments (above), which Jesus summed up into two:

You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself.  The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments, (Matthew 22:37-40[2]).

The first four Commandments concern our relationship with God, and the last six concern our relationships with other people.  Laws must be obeyed in every circumstance every time with a few important exceptions.

The King James has the Sixth Commandment as:

Thou shalt not kill, (Exodus 20:13).

You may be wondering if this means that killing is forbidden in every circumstance, and certainly there are denominations that believe this is a total ban on the killing of all creatures.  But if you look at the more contemporary translations, almost all of them render the Hebrew word רצח (retz-ACH) as murder.  While killing is the act of ending the life of another living being (human or animal), murder is the intentional, premeditated killing of another human being with malice.  Take war, for example.  In the vast majority of wars the combatants don’t even know each other.  They kill because they are commanded to do so and also because in the moment, it’s usually a matter of kill or be killed[3].

And what about lying—the Ninth Commandment?  Is it always wrong to lie every time?  The philosopher, Immanuel Kant[4] wrote in several works that it is always wrong to lie.  St. Augustine and John Calvin agreed with Kant.  This one takes wisdom, and again, it’s a matter of intention.  Is the lie self-serving?  In other words: are you lying to cover up some wrong-doing of your own?  Rahab lied[5] and she is listed as a heroine of the faith[6].  Her lie was self-serving in that it saved Rahab and her family from death.  But the lie must have been inspired by God because she is one of the few women listed in the lineage of Jesus[7].  So it must have been God’s plan all along to save Rahab so that she would raise up a godly son, Boaz.

I think lying is to be avoided as much as possible.  If someone walks in wearing an ugly dress, I don’t volunteer my opinion that it’s ugly.  That would be hurtful and it would be cruel to sacrifice someone’s feelings for the sake of honesty.  So the best thing of all is simply not to say anything about the ugly dress.  But if the wearer asks what I think about the dress, I try to find a way to answer that is both honest and doesn’t hurt the person’s feelings: “You look very fresh and cool in that dress;” or “You look ready for a party;” or “That color is pretty on you;” or “That’s my favorite color—all of them!”  There are lots of ways to give an answer that is both kind and honest.

Finding a kind and honest way to answer applies equally if someone besides the wearer asks what I think of the dress.  I believe that gossip is part of the Ninth Commandment.  In fact, gossip is often called character assassination[8], and as such could also be part of the Sixth Commandment.  After all, if you destroy a person’s reputation you destroy his or her ability to live a normal, peaceful life.

Back to my question: what is the difference between a law and a rule?  A law, as I noted, is to be obeyed in all but a few cases.  A rule is more flexible.  If followed, the rules will help you live a healthier and more peaceful life.  For example, the prohibition on pork.  God has provided us many good foods that are good for us, but pork isn’t one of them.  God doesn’t deny us pork on a whim.  The pig is a scavenger and not good for human consumption.  Leviticus chapter 11 lists several kinds of animals that are unclean, but the pig is especially filthy.  Pigs function as living garbage disposals[9].  They will eat pretty much anything they find: bugs, trash, moldy food scraps, their own feces, and rotting carcasses.  Pigs will even their own young.  Compare that with cows and sheep that eat grass and nothing else[10].

Nobody is going to hell over pork chops or bacon.  But eaten habitually over the years, a diet of pork could damage your health over the long term[11].  So the ban on pork is a rule, but not a Commandment.  Obeying the Commandments is absolutely essential.  But obeying the rules is a good idea.

One last thought on Commandments: I have studied and sought the Lord and come to the conclusion that the Fourth Commandment (to keep the Sabbath holy) is not optional.

For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled, (Matthew 5:18, NKJV, emphasis mine).

If you’re reading this, then I think we can agree that heaven and earth have not yet passed away.  Therefore all of the Ten Commandments still stand: Sabbath rest as much as no murder.  We know that the first century churches met on Saturday and also on Sunday, and perhaps every day of the week, though Saturday remained the Sabbath.  Roman Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity in the fourth century.  I believe that this was simply a case of if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em—or better yet, take ‘em over.  It was this pagan emperor who started the papacy, and it was he who made a law changing the Sabbath to Sunday.  He did it to honor the sun god—the one he was still worshiping.  He also did it as a way to make Christianity less Jewish by making Saturday a required workday, and Sunday the day of rest.

But every church I’ve ever loved worships on Sunday.  What to do?  What I do is fast and rest on Saturday.  If I’ve got work to do, it will wait for another day.  I don’t observe the Sabbath in the strict way that the Jews do.  If I need to drive on a Saturday, I drive.  If I need to cook, I cook.  But in general I do try to avoid those activities, too.  Saturday, in my opinion, remains the Sabbath.  However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t go to church on Sunday.  I take a Sabbath rest on Saturday and go to church on Sunday.

I’m not trying to be legalistic about the Sabbath, but Jesus was very clear in the verse from Matthew (above) that all the Commandments remain as long as heaven and earth remain.  Or do you want to try and convince me that the other Commandments are also optional?  Is it now okay to commit murder or adultery? or to blaspheme the name of God?

The thing about the Fourth Commandment is best summed up by Jesus, Himself:

The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath, (Mark 2:27, NIV).

In other words, the Sabbath day of rest is for our benefit.  God knew that the defeated enemy would have us working like slaves just stay afloat.  Look at all the time-saving devices that we have that have become burdens, requiring many hours of work to pay for, protect, maintain, clean, repair, and replace when they wear out.  God has given us a day to get off the hamster wheel, and He will provide for those who refuse to work on the Sabbath as He did for the Israelites in the wilderness[12].

Follow God’s rules and obey His Commandments.  Trust in God’s goodness to provide for you.  After all, like I always say: God is good!  Believe it!

[1] I put the Ten Commandments here because there are a lot of people who don’t know what the Ten Commandments are or where they are found in the Bible.

[2] See also Mark 12:29-31; Luke 10:27; Deuteronomy 6:5; & Leviticus 19:18.

[3] In the case of crime, it may or may not be a matter of kill or be killed in that precise moment.  Capital punishment is endorsed by the Bible in cases where it would be unthinkable in our world today, like disobedience to parents.  Given the deep flaws in our government (and indeed in every human government that doesn’t seek to obey the precepts of God), I find it hard to agree 100 percent with capital punishment.  Capital punishment has been proven not to be the deterrent that it is supposed to be.

[4] Kant was raised in a Pietist (rigid Lutheran) home, so he was raised Christian, though a legalistic breed of Christianity.  I would call him more of a moralist than a Christian, based on his book Critique of Pure Reason, which has been called the Agnostic Bible.  Kant embraced a rigorous set of ethics based on duty, which I’m sure was the result of being raised in such a legalistic Christian tradition.

[5] Joshua chapter 2.

[6] See Hebrews 11:31 and also James 2:25.

[7] Matthew 1:5

[8] For an interesting and in-depth look at gossip from a Biblical point of view, check out 8 Types of Gossip.

[9] Which is a necessary function for a healthy planet.

[10] At least if left to their own devices.  I think it’s a real shame that cows are kept penned up in feed lots and fed genetically modified corn nuggets laced with growth hormones and antibiotics.  Is it any wonder that children are reaching sexual maturity as early as age ten and resistant strains of bacteria cause mass infections like the MRSA bacteria that is so commonplace in hospitals today.

[11] A pig’s digestion takes only four hours to absorb what it eats.  Compare that to the cow that takes up to 24 hours.  During digestion toxins are eliminated from the food, so a pig is literally what it eats—toxins, viruses, antibiotic-resistant microbes, parasites, and all.

[12] Exodus 16:4-5.

What is the Occult?

Chrome Legacy Window 17-May-16 094448

Did you ever wonder who they’re hiding their secret practices from?

The word occult means hidden.  And it has become a blanket term for all of the practices forbidden in the Bible: fortunetelling, witchcraft, horoscopes, spirit mediumship, etc.

The reason these practices are forbidden by God is because even casually dabbling in any of them can invite demons into your life, and maybe even into your physical body[1].

Demons were the soulless Nephilim produced by the ungodly union of fallen angels and human women (see Genesis 6 and also the Book of Enoch[2]).  Being soulless, the Nephilim raped and killed and indulged themselves without any conscience at all.  When the Nephilim died they became disembodied spirits.  Having enjoyed the pleasures of the flesh (food, sex, intoxication, etc.), they are now desperate to have a body to inhabit again—even if it’s shared with a human being.  When they possess a person’s body, they have varying degrees of control.

This morning as I have continued my reading in Job, I suddenly understood this: the occult practices are not hidden so much to hide them from us (other human beings).  These occultic practices are hidden in order to hide them from God.  The idea of hiding occultic practices from God is so that He won’t stop or interfere with them.  This is why occultic people do ceremonies to invite the spirits (demons).  They believe that the demons can hide their activities from God.

But here’s the thing: can they really hide anything from God?  Psalm 139 indicates that nothing is hidden from God:

I can never escape from Your Spirit!  I can never get away from Your presence!  If I go up to Heaven, You are there; if I go down to the grave, You are there.  If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there Your hand will guide me, and Your strength will support me.  I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night—but even in darkness I cannot hide from You.  To You the night shines as bright as day.  Darkness and light are the same to You, (Psalm 139:7-12, emphasis mine).

The Psalm goes on to say that even in the womb, God is there (verses 13-15).  And God sees and knows every day of our lives before we’ve lived a single one of them (verse 16).

As I read Job chapter 18 today, I began to ponder these things.  Because throughout most of the book, Job’s “miserable comforters[3]” take turns pointing out how God punishes the wicked, not allowing them to thrive.  Generally speaking, it’s true that the wicked do not thrive.  The reason, I believe, is because demons are untrustworthy and love to create chaos and mayhem in peoples’ lives because they hate humans.

And while it is generally true that the wicked do not thrive, it is not a universal truth because some of the most wicked people do seem to literally get away with murder.  Josef Mengele[4], the Nazi Angel of Death, for example, died on vacation in Brazil at the age of 67.  He never spent a single day in prison for his horrendous war crimes.  In fact, the CIA brought Mengele to Canada under Operation Paperclip to work on the MK Ultra brainwashing and mind control experiments[5].

How is it that someone as deeply wicked as Mengele got to live out his life in peace and prosperity?  Where is God’s justice?  I have a couple of guesses: first, the demons had free reign in the life of Mengele (and others like him), and through him they were able to kill and damage a whole lot of people.  So Mengele was a useful tool in their war upon humanity and therefore against God who so loves humanity that He sent His only Son to die for us[6].

Second, God allows evil to run its course.  He steps in only when invited to do so in prayer.  This is why prayer is so important.  We’re the ones who handed the deed to earth over to the defeated enemy, so we’re the ones who must invite God’s intervention in prayer.  Even though Jesus now holds the keys, He is not going to come charging in.  He wants us to turn to Him through our own free will, and not because we saw Him kick down the door and throw the squatters out.

So my best estimate is this: nobody was praying about bringing Mengele to justice.  And I suspect that there is no adequate human justice that would suffice for such a beast as Mengele.  Divine justice will not let the wicked pass into a dreamless eternal sleep.  Nor will it allow an unrepentant person into the presence of God in Heaven (except for that moment when he’s condemned to everlasting judgment).

So the occultists believe that they can hide their wicked practices from God because God doesn’t interfere with them.  But they’re wrong.  God sees it all.  Since it’s largely hidden from people outside of the secret societies, God is not invited into the situations in prayer.

And this, I believe, is where I come in as God’s Secret Weapon[7].  I have a special discernment for witchcraft, and when I see it, I reflexively pray against it.  Once the activity is opened up for God’s intervention, the demonic spiritual atmosphere changes and cannot be reconstructed without a whole lot of satanic invocations.

Perhaps the occultic people will see this and realize that there is a power much higher than their familiar spirits (demons).  And perhaps this will cause them to seek God.  I never thought of this work as evangelistic, but it could be an important first step to open occultic people to the love of God.  God is good!

[1] Demons cannot enter the body of a born-again Christian.  But they can certainly oppress and harass Christians.

[2] The Book of Enoch is a Biblically-endorsed extra-Biblical text.  Since it is referenced in the Bible (see Jude 1:14), the Book of Enoch is trustworthy (only the first Book of Enoch, since the second is of dubious origin).  But since the Book of Enoch didn’t make it into the Bible, it is not to be taken as Holy Scripture.

[3] Job 16:2.

[4] Mengele (and all the rest of the people high up in the Nazi chain of command) was a practitioner in the occult.  And his post-war activities were also occultic (see the footnote below).

[5] Which is something that you can read for yourself in the Freedom of Information Act documents.  See Josef Mengele Part of CIA’s Trauma Brainwashing and Nazi-Occult and Mind Control.

[6] John 3:16.

[7] And of course I’m not the only Secret Weapon in God’s arsenal.

Bare-Bones Luxury Part Two

IMG_1458 (1).JPG

All my possessions in two suitcases.  I still need to pare-down!

Those who regularly follow my blog might be wondering where Bare-Bones Luxury Part One is.  It is at the very beginning of this blog.  The second post to be exact.  I wrote it the day after moving into this apartment almost six years ago.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Here are pictures of my apartment from moving in six years ago.

Yesterday all the furniture was moved out to sit in the moving company’s storage until the missionary family I’m donating it to arrives from the US (about six weeks from now).  Last night I slept on a mattress on the floor, and this morning when I woke, I thought about that day almost six years ago.  I feel like I’ve come full-circle.  I enjoyed moving into the apartment, sparse as its furnishings were, and now I’m enjoying my last week in the apartment, unburdened by a lot of furniture and possessions.

Image may contain: 1 person, indoor

This was the scene soon after the movers arrived yesterday.

When the Faith Trip[1] ended in 2012, the Lord told me to look for an apartment in my old neighborhood in Milan.  He told me to rent, and not buy.  There was a time when I would have rejected this word because it doesn’t make sense to throw money away on rent if you have the money to buy a place that you can later sell or rent out.  But that was my instruction from the Lord.  And specifically He told me to rent an apartment with two bathrooms.  When I began looking for an apartment, this was the only one for rent in the whole neighborhood that had two bathrooms.

At the time, I had no idea how strategically-placed this apartment is.  Even being in my old neighborhood, it was in an unfamiliar corner of my neighborhood.  It was only after moving in that I discovered that it is only two blocks from the 24-hour bus line that circles the city in both directions.  And those buses stop at the Central train station, where you can catch buses to all three airports or a train to Malpensa.  The apartment is also right around the corner from a bus that will take you to the center of town.  It is about five blocks to the green metro line, seven blocks to the red metro line, and now they are building the blue metro line just two blocks away—but too late for me.

The purpose of renting an apartment that is huge by Milan standards is for hospitality ministry.  Hospitality has played an important role in my ministry of encouraging missionaries in Europe.  This is probably the most expensive mission field in the world.  It is also one of the most difficult, being post-Christian[2].  Because of these difficulties, a place where they could come and rest for free in one of the most expensive cities in the world was very encouraging.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And this was the move as it progressed.

But now hospitality ministry is being phased-out.  I don’t know if I will be asked to do it again, but for now, without an apartment, I am the one who needs the hospitality of others.  To be honest, this is not easy for me, but easier than it was when I took my first Faith Trip.  Having a good deal of experience in hosting by now, I know that hosts must be flexible, and not too attached to their possessions.  The things in your house will be lost, broken, and even stolen (even when you host missionaries because missionaries sometimes come accompanied by unredeemed (or unsupervised) children or nannies).

Your kitchen will be raided or invaded.  Families with teenagers tend to empty out your pantry and refrigerator.  While others go grocery shopping without first checking to see if you’ve already got plenty of whatever they need.  After a busy season of hosting, I have been left with three open jars of pesto, five open kilo bags of flour, thirty cans of tuna, eighteen eggs, and twenty kilos of pasta—way too much food for a woman living alone.

Most guests do their own dishes, but some will not.  A gracious host must be willing to wash up after people.  A wise host will set a limit to how long guests can stay.  The Lord told me to limit stays to three nights.

Your guests will most likely see you in your pajamas first thing in the morning or last thing at night.  You’ve got to learn not to let it phase you.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, eyeglasses

When the movers went to lunch, I took advantage of the sunny first day of spring out on the balcony.

A host needs to be generous with their time as well as their household goods.  Most people will want you to be their tour guide while they are in town.  I didn’t mind leading tours for my guests, and actually perfected a two-hour walking tour of Milan’s major sights.  But some people refuse to set foot outside the door without you.  I really enjoyed leading those attention leaches to the train station and showing them their bus to the airport so that they could return home as soon as possible.  My ideal types were those who wanted the tour, but then were comfortable and adventurous enough to set out on their own, armed with bus tickets and a map.

And sometimes the unexpected happens and your guest becomes sick.  I’ve had two guests with attacks of appendicitis—one of which actually burst while in my home.  Sometimes this kind of stuff happens.

So with all its pitfalls, I understand when people are reluctant to open their homes to me.  It’s certainly not something that came to me easily or quickly.  I got myself over each new hurdle by reminding myself that it is only by the grace and generosity of God that I have been able to live in this apartment.  And if this little thing is what I must do in the service of God and for the love of Him, then I will adjust my attitude and do it with a grateful heart.

image (10).png

My empty living room.

image (11).png

My cozy bedroom.  Notice that I’m keeping the prayer chair for Nina.

To those who will and do open their homes to me (and to others): I am grateful and will do my best to be a good guest.  To the rest, well, don’t worry about it.  It’s hard, I understand.  God is good!

[1] Recounted in Look, Listen, Love.

[2] The difficulty of a post-Christian mission field is all the effort that must be put into deprogramming the false assumptions that people have about Christianity.  People simply cannot embrace true faith until they let go of ideas like doing penance and heaping up good works in order to earn salvation.  Much of Europe is Catholic, Orthodox, or atheist.  And much of the Catholicism and Orthodoxy of Europe resembles superstition and shamanism more than Christianity.  Who wants to repent and start reading their Bible when all they’ve ever had to do was carry around a picture of a saint, who did all these things for them?

Moving Day!

IMG_1459 (2).JPG

Sitting between my two overflowing suitcases: one to take back to the US, and one to stay in Italy.

Deborah came to stay with me during this time of moving, offering her van and physical help.  What an amazing friend!  Yesterday Deborah and I delivered a whole lot of stuff to Nina’s house: dishes and other kitchen items, sheets, towels, and all the food both frozen and non-perishable that we didn’t think we would eat in the next week.

From the beginning I have prayed for God’s perfect timing in organizing and executing this move, and that is exactly how things have turned out.  Some things that I had thought were going to happen too late indeed happened right on time—but not early, as I would have preferred.  For example, I had ordered boxes online from a local home fix-it center.  I had ordered from the local store, itself, thinking that they would arrive in a day or two.  Instead, as soon as I hit the payment button, a message came up saying that I could look for delivery in two weeks.  So boxing-up stuff started two weeks later than I had anticipated—and that turned out to be just fine.

Tomorrow the moving company comes to take all the furniture away.  I am donating the furniture to a missionary family that will be arriving in Italy in about six weeks[1].  I’ve gone through almost all of the furniture at this point, setting aside stuff to give to local missionaries that need it.  I have wanted for every aspect of this move to bless God’s workers here in Europe, and indeed that is how it is proceeding.  I had far more stuff than I had ever imagined.  Yesterday I found a professional microphone that I didn’t know I had.  So I gave it to Deborah, since she does filmmaking and teaches filmmaking here in Italy.  She was thrilled to get it.

I have two spare mattresses that I keep for extra guests.  Deborah and I will use the mattresses in the next week that we remain here.  Nina has asked for the kitchen table and chairs, so we will also have a place to sit.  I’m also keeping the prayer chair for Nina.

All my own stuff is in two overflowing suitcases.  I need to go through them and get rid of more stuff, but that can wait until after the furniture is gone.

It is really freeing to let go of all this stuff.  A few months before I knew that I was a missionary God told me to surrender all of my finances to Him.  I really struggled with this at the time.  Having lost all that I had built my life upon just a year earlier[2], I felt that I had lost my very identity.  I didn’t have a lot of money, but it wasn’t an issue that I had to worry very much about because the divorce had left me a bit of money.  Now I thought that God was telling me: “Sell everything you have, give all the money to the poor, and come follow Me[3].”  God patiently waited while I struggled over His command.  Then I realized that it had all come from Him in the first place.  Like Job I could only say:

I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave.  The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away.  Praise the name of the Lord! (Job 1:21).

So I surrendered all of my finances to God and waited for Him to tell me to give it all away to the poor—He didn’t.

A few months later, He called me back to Italy as a missionary with the ministry of encouraging missionaries in this very difficult mission field.  Part of that calling of encouragement was hospitality ministry.  I do not have the supernatural gift of hospitality, but I did it out of obedience and to the very best of my ability.  I put all of those finances from the divorce into this house and its furnishings, keeping a good stock of food handy to bless missionaries.  Now all the money from the divorce has been spent, the stuff is soon to be gone[4].

Now it’s just me and God.  I had prayed and prayed over this past year to get closer to God.  This very well may be the answer to that prayer.  It wasn’t the answer that I had anticipated or even wanted, but now I am realizing that it is a wonderful answer: it really is just me and God, traveling throughout Europe together, praying where He shows me to pray.

I’m actually thrilled to be entering this season without a house in Europe.  I’ve never felt more alive.  As I move into this new season of my life and ministry, I realize that I don’t even know where the line is between the two.  I face a lot of unknowns and new territory, but I know that my wonderful God goes with me wherever I go, and I’ll go wherever He sends me.

For the next few days I need wisdom in paring-down the remaining items in the suitcases.  I don’t want to keep too much, but I also don’t want to get rid of anything that I’ll really need in the months (years?) ahead.

Thanks to all who have prayed for me!  God is good!

[1] Since my ministry is encouragement, and since this family is an answer to my daily prayer for more missionaries to come to Europe, this is something that benefits them, but also benefits me.  The timing, again, is perfect.

[2] My children were grown and living far away, I had had to leave my beloved Italy when my husband had lost his job—the only move that ever made me cry!—my marriage of 33 years had ended badly, and through divorce I had lost my husband’s whole family, too.

[3] Jesus said this to the rich young ruler in three out of the four Gospels, see Matthew 19:21, Mark 10:21, and Luke 18:22.

[4] Something I hadn’t even thought about when God said to give notice on the house back six months ago.

Have you Considered My Servant Job?

Day%25202%2520Golan%2520Heights%2520Lunch%25201.JPG

Could these be descendants of Job’s livestock?

I like to systematically read through the Bible because otherwise there are lots of parts that I would normally skip in favor of my favorite parts.  The book of Job is one of those parts that I would skip.  Let’s face it, Job is a painful book.  God calls him perfect[1], and yet lets the defeated enemy take everything away: his children, his wealth, and his health, leaving only his shrew of a wife[2] and his fair weather friends[3].  And those friends don’t just accuse Job once, they take turns accusing him again and again throughout the whole rest of the book, like tag-team wrestling a defenseless man.  All the while, Job proclaims his innocence because he is innocent, which just brings on fresh accusations[4].

And in reading Job, you can hardly avoid thinking that if God would allow the defeated enemy to do all this to a perfect man, what about me?  The book of Job goes against my pain-avoiding human nature.  If this is how God treats His friends, I’m not so sure I want to be His friend.

But Job has some really amazing stuff in it.  This morning I had arrived at the first chapter of Job.  I have read through the Bible many times in many different translations, so this is all very familiar to me, but this morning as I began to read in the first chapter, the Holy Spirit revealed some interesting things to me that I had not ever considered before, starting with:

And the day came to be when the sons of Elohim[5] came to present themselves before יהוה, and satan also came among them, (Job 1:6).

And the Holy Spirit said, “Why did satan come and present himself before God?”  And if you think about it, there really is only one reason: God had summoned him.  Yes, he is brazen enough to come before God, since he has aspirations of supplanting God.  But to come and present himself before God together with all the holy angels doesn’t sound like something he would willingly do, unless he had been commanded to come that day.  Imagine how galling it must be every time he sees God sitting on the throne that he wants for himself.

And יהוה said to satan, “From where do you come?” (Job 1:7a).

God knew where the defeated enemy had been and what he had been doing.  He speaks like this with His creatures for our benefit, not His.

And satan answered יהוה and said, “From diligently searching in the earth, and from walking up and down in it,” (Job 1:7b, emphasis mine).

This begs the question: what was he searching for?  The name satan is not really his name.  He lost the rights to the name that God had given him: lucifer[6] when he chose to rebel against God.  The title satan means accuser.  The Bible calls him the accuser of God’s people:

Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has come at last—salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ.  For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth—the one who accuses them before our God day and night,” (Revelation 12:10, emphasis mine).

So the defeated enemy had been “diligently searching in the earth . . . walking up and down,” why?  Because he was looking for someone to accuse.  Let’s read on:

And יהוה said to satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a perfect and straight man, one who fears Elohim and turns aside from evil?” (Job 1:8).

God knew where this conversation (and the next one in chapter 2) would go.  He pointed out Job to the defeated enemy as a perfect man.  God knew that the defeated enemy would leap at the chance to attack Job for two reasons: first because he hates all of humanity, and second because he wanted the chance to turn Mr. Perfect against God, thus attacking God, Himself.

Knowing all this, why did God allow—and even invite—this attack on Job?  Because God had it in mind all along to double Job’s blessing.  The defeated enemy would have screamed “Unfair!” if God had merely doubled Job’s blessing.  So, knowing that Job wouldn’t sin even under these extreme circumstances, God invited the attack—and the defeated enemy played right into His hand.  None of this was a surprise to God.

Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure,’ calling a bird of prey from the east, the man who executes My counsel, from a far country.  Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass.  I have purposed it; I will also do it, (Isaiah 46:9-11, NKJV, emphasis mine).

And was it terrible for Job to go through this?  Absolutely!  He was so upset that he cursed the day he was born[7].  And the defeated enemy took advantage of Job’s misery to entice his friends to accuse him of some secret sin.

When their accusations failed to incite Job to sin, the defeated enemy sent Elihu.  We didn’t even know that he was there or when he arrived, but I suspect that he had heard most of this discourse.

We know that only three friends came to mourn with Job: Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar.  These three were real friends.  Upon seeing Job in all his misery, they wept, tore their robes, and sprinkled dust on their heads.  Then they sat with Job for seven days and nights in silence.

One of the defeated enemy’s favorite tactics is to incite your closest friends and family against you.  So when Job cursed the day of his birth, only then did they break their silence and start accusing him.

But who is this Elihu?  We don’t know very much about him except his lineage[8] and the fact that he was younger than the rest of them[9].  I suspect that for the love of Job, his three friends didn’t blast him with all of their accusations—after all, they gave Job a chance to answer and defend himself.  But Elihu was probably still young enough to believe that he knows more than the grown-ups (remember when you were that smart?).  So he vented all of his defeated-enemy-inspired rage and accusations against Job—six chapters worth!

Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end, (Proverbs 29:11, NIV, emphasis mine).

Then God shows up in a whirlwind, challenging the presumptions against Job.  And Elihu?  Well the Bible doesn’t say, but I suspect that when God showed up he ran for his life.  We never hear another word about Elihu.

In the end Job repents for having arrogant thoughts against God.  Repentance is something that the modern churches seem to undervalue.  Some churches promise new converts that God will prosper them and make their lives great, and all they have to do is believe.  All that is great, and God is a generous Father, but it leaves out the most important part:

Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.  Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,” (Acts 2:38).

Many modern churches downplay repentance because they see it as a negative message.  Let’s face it, being convicted of your sins is a very unpleasant feeling.  And many of today’s pastors don’t want to risk losing people (and therefore tithes) because the message is an uncomfortable one.

But think of it like a root canal: if you don’t deal with the infection (in this case, sin), it’s only going to get worse.  So the convicting message is that all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God[10].  We are all in need of a Savior because the wages of sin is death[11].  That’s the uncomfortable part.  But the Good News is that God sent Jesus to die in our place[12].  That means that He took our punishment and we can take His righteousness.  You take two steps toward God, and He will give you the two most amazing gifts:

Step one – Repent and turn to God.

Step two – Be baptized.

Gift one – Forgiveness of your sins (and eternal life).

Gift two – The indwelling Holy Spirit.

Anyway, back to Job: he repents for his arrogant thoughts toward God.  Then God speaks to Eliphaz, telling him that he and his two friends have not spoken rightly about Him.  Then God tells him to go to Job with offerings and let Job pray for them.

They did as God commanded and Job prayed for his friends.  Then God did what He had in mind to do all along: He doubled Job’s wealth and blessings:

Chapter One Chapter Forty-Two
7,000 Sheep

3,000 Camels

500 Oxen

500 Female Donkeys

7 Sons

3 Daughters

14,000 Sheep

6,000 Camels

1,000 Oxen

1,000 Female Donkeys

7 Sons

3 Daughters[13]

 

So if you’re going through a trial, it could be because God wants to give you a double blessing.  Remember to do like Job and bear it patiently.  And never forget: no matter what you’re going through, God is good!

[1] Job 1:1, ISR (also KJV).  The version I’m currently reading in my morning devotions is the ISR—Institute for Scripture Research.  So all the quotes from Job will be from the ISR with minor changes (i.e. I will use the common English names, like Job instead of the ISR’s IYOḆ.  I will also continue my policy of not capitalizing any appellation of the defeated enemy, even when quoting Biblical text).

[2] Who wants him dead now that he’s poor and covered in disgusting boils (what the ISR calls loathsome sores [see Job 2:9])—probably so that she can be free marry someone else.

[3] Who accuse him, saying that because of some hidden sin, Job has brought all this upon himself.  With friends like these, who needs enemies?

[4] If anything it’s worse now because on Facebook people can accuse you publicly—even people you hardly know—even friends of people you hardly know.  Gossip and slander have reached a whole new disgusting level.

[5] Whenever you see the phrase sons of Elohim (God) in the Bible, it means angels.

[6] Meaning light-bearer.  There was no darkness in the universe before his rebellion.  Darkness is not even a thing (according to Einstein), but merely the absence of light.  So his rebellion took light from large parts of the universe.  Notice that the defeated enemy is not capable of creating anything, so he takes away from God’s creation any time he can.

[7] See Job chapter 3—he spends the whole chapter cursing the he was born.  Anyone who has struggled with depression can understand how he felt.

[8] i.e. that he was the son of Barakel the Buzite, of the clan of Ram (Job 32:2).

[9] See Job 32:6.

[10] Romans 3:23.

[11] Romans 6:23.

[12] John 3:16.

[13] You may be wondering why the kids weren’t doubled like the animals were.  That’s because God was counting all of his children.  Although the first set were and are as dead as dead can be to Job on earth, to God in Heaven, they’re alive and live forever.  He’s the God of the Living (Matthew 22:32, Mark 12:27, & Luke 20:38).

Witchcraft in the Home

Image result for witch house

Many people—including Christians—have witchcraft objects in their house, and they don’t even know it.  Obviously Christians shouldn’t have any witchcraft item in their home: runes, sigil pendants, tarot cards, ouija boards, smudge sticks, magic wands (even toy wands!), illegal drugs, pornography, ritual weaponry (especially Samurai swords), images (particularly idols like a buddha statue), any item of freemasonry (often masons have a ring or a masonic symbol on their car), or books on astrology, horoscopes, “holy” books of other religions (the book of mormon, dianetics, science and health with key to the scriptures, the quran, hindu books, and any watchtower materials[1], etc.), manga, wicca or witchcraft books, spell books, fortunetelling books, masonic books, or books about any other occultic practice.

I have consistently made an effort to keep witchcraft objects out of my house, but the defeated enemy finds ways to get them in despite my efforts.  In my hospitality ministry I have hosted a few families of, um let’s say questionable commitment to Christ.  One family, the Smiths, came to stay with me[2].  They were a mom, four teenage boys and a twentysomething daughter.  Before coming they asked me if I wanted them to bring something from the US.  I told them that evangelistic materials in English would be good, thinking of course that they would visit their local Christian bookstore.  When they came, Mrs. Smith presented me with a thousand glossy, tri-folded pamphlets that she had written about why we should be worshiping on Saturday instead of Sunday.  She had probably spent a few hundred dollars making these.

I looked at the pamphlet in my hand and the pile before me in horror as the boys started loudly wrestling and body-slamming each other in the bedroom.  What could I say?  These were useless[3]!

Then Mrs. Smith asked if they could extend their stay to five nights.  Sorry, no!  I wasn’t sure how I was going to suffer through three with this noisy bunch.  Over the course of their stay, Mrs. Smith told me that her next-to-the-youngest son, Frank, had made a decision for Christ, adding that she hopes the others do, too.  I was shocked: only one out of her five children was a Christian—and being mostly older teens and early twenties, it was less and less likely that they ever would.

Mrs. Smith told me proudly that she had homeschooled her all children all throughout school, and all were still living with her.  I thought about her children a moment:

  • Duke was a moody, reclusive nineteen-year-old who rarely looked up from his phone, tablet, or computer—whichever he was engaging with at the moment. She told me Duke is an aspiring filmmaker, thus the need to stay connected.
  • Luke, the eighteen-year-old had a very obvious mean streak. It had probably been him doing the body-slamming.
  • Frank was the seventeen-year-old, newly born-again Christian son. Frank was the only quiet one in the crew, and the only one I ever saw smile.  He was Luke’s favorite target for beating or teasing—both of which he did constantly.  I felt sorry for him, but glad that at least he has Jesus to get him through all this.
  • Jessie, the youngest, at twelve, rarely left his mom’s side, constantly chirping for all of her attention like an ugly-cute baby bird. No doubt he stayed close to mom so that Luke wouldn’t start beating up on him.
  • Sarah, the daughter, rarely left the relative quiet of her room, shared with her mom, and who could blame her? Any sanctuary from those rough boys would do!

They had found a church close to my house that met on Saturday morning, and invited me to go with them.  I did, since it didn’t conflict with my own church’s Sunday service.  They met in the basement of a hotel.  The service was in Italian with English translation, and the sermon was on Mrs. Smith’s favorite subject: Saturday Sabbath.  The pastor asserted that attending church on Sunday would prevent you from going to Heaven[4].  No wonder there were only about twenty people there—including the seven of us.

I suddenly began to have household accidents about a week after the Smith family left.  First I fell and broke my left wrist (you can read about that in Summer in a Cast).  And about two months later I slipped on the wet bathroom floor[5] and fell so hard on my left hip that I thought I had broken the socket as I had done almost 30 years ago.  I fell hard because I didn’t put that freshly-mended left hand down to catch myself.  After hearing about this second home injury, a prophetic friend told me that he had prayed and seen a spirit of destruction that had been assigned to me and was in my house.

Hearing this, I prayerfully went through the house, looking for any strange objects.  What the Holy Spirit highlighted to me was a little device with a USB connector in the bedroom that the Smith boys had been in.  I didn’t recognize this device, and wasn’t even sure what it was supposed to do.  Immediately I thought of Duke, Mrs. Smith’s older son, who was always on his computer.  He must have accidentally left it[6].

You must burn their idols in fire, and you must not covet the silver or gold that covers them.  You must not take it or it will become a trap to you, for it is detestable to the Lord your God.  Do not bring any detestable objects into your home, for then you will be destroyed, just like them.  You must utterly detest such things, for they are set apart for destruction, (Deuteronomy 7:25-26, emphasis mine).

The Bible instructs us to burn idols[7], but of course, I couldn’t do that with a thing made of plastic and metal.  So instead I did the next best thing: I immediately got it out of the house and threw it away in a public trash bin on another street.

When I returned to the house I got some olive oil and went through the whole house, anointing and praying at each door and window[8].  I haven’t had another accident since.

All that is to say that there are objects that evil spirits have become attached to.  Any object used in worship of another god will have evil spirits attached to it.  Why?  Because the demons crave worship almost as much as they crave a body to inhabit.  This could include such things as a buddha statue, for example.  Even though the buddhists claim that they don’t worship buddha, the statue is found in virtually every buddhist household and temple.

A long time ago an acquaintance gave me a little statue of a man with the head of an elephant[9].  I thanked him for it, but felt no peace and got no sleep while it was in my house.  I quickly realized that the statuette was the source of the problem.  I couldn’t burn it, being carved from stone, so I took it out onto the driveway and smashed it to powder with a hammer.  Then I put the powder into a garbage bag and took it to the town dump.  This solved the problem immediately.

Other objects that can attract evil spirits are things like dreamcatchers, the blue glass mati eye symbol, or a gargoyle, for example.  Anything that is supposed to chase away evil spirits can actually attract them.  Some people have these things hanging from the rearview mirror of their car—a really bad idea in my opinion.

And I’m about to tell you something that is going to be very hard for some of you to accept: your electronic devices can also attract demons.  Of course it all depends on how you use them and your attitude toward them.  If you cannot go a whole day without television, computer, phone, or tablet, consider that you might be addicted.  Addictions are almost always a sign of demonic activity.  And what kind of things are you watching or doing with these devices?  Pornography attracts demons, and watching programs about the occult also attracts demons.

Have you ever noticed how your spouse or children seem to zone-out in front of the television for hours?  The television producers and manufacturers deliberately chose to use an electromagnetic broadcast frequency that lulls the viewer into an alpha state.  The alpha state is that sort of dreamlike state when you’re still awake, but almost asleep—somewhere in between.  The reason they do that is to make you more passive and receptive to advertising and worse: social engineering programming.  Yes, there is an agenda to shape a one-world government, and in the process the luciferian elites want the vast majority of the rest of us dead—especially Christians.  And they have been using television to shape society the way that they want things.

If you don’t believe me, think about television in the 60’s and 70’s.  There was sexual innuendo, but it was subtle and went way over the heads of children.  Little by little over the years they added gender-bending comedies like Three’s Company and Bosom Buddies.  Neither of those shows had any gay character for more than a walk-on.  Little by little they started showing more overt sexuality, implicit dialogue and situations, until some show outright perversion.  And it used to be that adult programming was shown only after ten in the evening.  Then they started showing those reruns earlier.  Now primetime shows have people of all ages and genders having casual sexual relations.  Where will it end?

With the reality shows we’re seeing the really mean side of Americans.  In shows like Big Brother and Survivor the producers actually pit people against each other.  Is there not enough hostility in our lives without watching this?  And the Bachelor encourages women to prostitute themselves in hopes of marrying a rich man[10].  Dismissed is MTV’s version of the Bachelor for a younger crowd, and it looks even more heartless (as its name implies).  While I was in the US a couple of years ago I had started watching The Taste, but even this cooking show was harsh and mean-spirited, with one or more contestants leaving at the end of each episode in tears.  These reality shows remind me of what Jesus said:

Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold, (Matthew 24:12).

Perhaps I’m more sensitized to it because I don’t have a television and hardly watch any movies at all.  But it seems like the sex is far more explicit (even pornographic) and the hostility is far more angry and violent.  Anyway the whole point is that what you’re allowing into your living room through the television can also invite demons, and the passive alpha state induced by watching television makes you fair game.  You or your children.  I’m not saying that you have to get rid of the television, but be wiser about it, understand the dangers, and limit television time for children.

Also be aware that today’s smart TVs are capable of watching you—even when they are turned off.  Talk about Big Brother watching you!  How many of you have a smart TV in your bedroom?  Do you want someone watching what you do in your bedroom?

If there is anything in your house that invites the defeated enemy or his minions in, you need to get it out.  As the head of your house it’s your responsibility.  If your child brought something inside the house that is inviting demons, ask the Lord how to deal with it.  Often the best thing is to simply remove the item from the house, like I did with the electronic gizmo.  Other times the thing must be destroyed, like with the statuette.

But Israel violated the instructions about the things set apart for the Lord.  A man named Achan had stolen some of these dedicated things, so the Lord was very angry with the Israelites.  Achan was the son of Carmi, a descendant of Zimri son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah. . . . “Israel has sinned and broken My covenant!  They have stolen some of the things that I commanded must be set apart for Me.  And they have not only stolen them but have lied about it and hidden the things among their own belongings.  That is why the Israelites are running from their enemies in defeat.  For now Israel itself has been set apart for destruction.  I will not remain with you any longer unless you destroy the things among you that were set apart for destruction,” (Joshua 7:1 & 11-12, emphasis mine).

God’s Word has real power, but do not think that you can use the Bible as a talisman to generically bless your house.  This is superstitious practice which has its roots in paganism.  In God’s Kingdom, things absolutely don’t work that way.

The reason why cursed objects bring evil spirits into your house is because the defeated enemy and all his minions will push their way in anywhere where they find even the smallest crack in your defensive hedge.  Any ongoing, unconfessed sin will create a crack in your defensive hedge[11].  Also any occultic practice will create a crack—even occultic practices of your ancestors that haven’t been confessed[12].

God is different.  God will enter (a house, a situation, or a person) only when invited.  So if you put Bibles in every room of your house, but never open them, they’re just another book that you’ll have to dust from time to time.  It’s like having the world’s fastest car in your garage.  Without the key to turn it on, you’ll go nowhere—it’s nothing but a very large and expensive paperweight.

The way to access the power of God’s Word is by reading it and hearing it—getting it inside of you.  The power of God’s Word is inspiration—literally breath—the breath of God.  When you read the Bible you are exchanging breath with God.  He gives you His divine breath (Holy Spirit) in exchange for some of your breath as you read the Holy Scriptures.  Again and again God invites us to come to Him and learn His secrets.  He wants us to know His secrets.  Check it out:

The secret [of the wise counsel] of the Lord is for those who fear Him, and He will let them know His covenant and reveal to them [through His word] its [deep, inner] meaning, (Psalm 25:14, AMP, emphasis mine).

I will speak using stories; I will tell secret things from long ago, (Psalm 78:2, NCV, emphasis mine).

For the perverse person is an abomination to the Lord, but His secret counsel is with the upright, (Proverbs 3:32, NKJV, emphasis mine).

I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness—secret riches.  I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name, (Isaiah 45:3, emphasis mine).

Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come, (Jeremiah 33:3, emphasis mine).

That night the secret was revealed to Daniel in a vision.  Then Daniel praised the God of heaven.  Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the Name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His.  And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.  He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him, (Daniel 2:19-22, emphasis mine).

But you, Daniel, keep this prophecy a secret; seal up the book until the time of the end, when many will rush here and there, and knowledge will increase. . . . Go now, Daniel, for what I have said is kept secret and sealed until the time of the end, (Daniel 12:4, 9, emphasis mine).

Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets, (Amos 3:7, NKJV, emphasis mine).

You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not, (Matthew 13:11, emphasis mine[13]).

But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit.  For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets, (1 Corinthians 2:10, emphasis mine).

He has made known to us His secret plan, which by His own will He designed beforehand in connection with the Messiah, (Ephesians 1:9, CJB, emphasis mine).

All this witchcraft magic crap is often called secret arts in the Bible.  God’s secret counsel brings blessings with it, but the secret arts will take its practitioners to hell.  I want to be privy to God’s secrets, don’t you?  And as your relationship with God grows more and more intimate, you’ll find yourself in the secret place—living there:

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty, (Psalm 91:1, NKJV, emphasis mine).

O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the cliff, Let me see your face, Let me hear your voice; For your voice is sweet, And your face is lovely, (Song of Solomon, NKJV, emphasis mine).

As you cleanse your house of these witchcraft objects, you’ll find that it is much easier to pray.  You’ll find that you have more desire to spend time in God’s Word.

Many who became believers confessed their sinful practices.  A number of them who had been practicing sorcery brought their incantation books and burned them at a public bonfire.  The value of the books was several million dollars.  So the message about the Lord spread widely and had a powerful effect, (Acts 19:18-20, emphasis mine).

And you’ll be surprised at how much you’ve been hindered in both life and ministry.  So get busy and clean out the witchcraft items from your house.  God is good!

[1] Including their doctored version of the Bible.

[2] They found me through A Candle in the Window Christian Hospitality Network.  Candle is a great organization, and I have met and hosted many lovely families through it.  But as with churches, it is likely an organization that the defeated enemy has used to put his human minions into Christian homes.  See also Holy Terrors.

[3] Let’s get people saved before we grind our favorite doctrinal axes.

[4] The church didn’t call itself seventh day adventist, but I suspect that’s what it is.  The adventists are not actually Christian because of what they believe about the divinity of Jesus and how they exalt the adventist writings of Ellen G. White.  They’re an unbiblical sect.

[5] Left that way by a guest—another hazard of hosting.

[6] Though it was no accident for the defeated enemy.

[7] Because of his computer obsession, this was an idol for Duke.

[8] The idea of anointing each door and window is to seal up the house so that no evil spirit can enter.  However evil spirits can still enter a house thusly sealed if they are attached to a person who is invited into your house.  Nevertheless, even if they can get in this way, they cannot stay unless the demonized person stays.

[9] A hindu god that I will not name.

[10] I admit, I’ve never even watched any of these reality shows, but the commercials are explicit enough to understand what they’re doing.

[11] In fact, habitual sin will harden your heart over time so that it ceases to feel sinful to you.

[12] I had to confess and repent for the masonic involvement of my ancestors, and for my ancestors’ involvement with Christian science, that is, the so-called church founded by Mary Baker Eddy, see Called to Rebuke.  I had confessed and repented for their involvement years ago, and that is why God used me to rebuke this heresy.

[13] See also Mark 4:11 & Luke 8:10.

Moving Out – Do the Right Thing!

Image result for bruce marchiano jesus

Jesus has a beautiful smile.  I want to make Him smile all the time.

I haven’t had much time to write because I’m moving out of my apartment (see An Invitation to Adventure).  But the main thing that I asked God for during this time of packing up house and giving away most of the things therein was for His perfect timing in all of this.  I need to find new homes for things that will bless the other missionaries here in Europe—and do so in an orderly and timely way.  I also need to get everything out in time to do the painting and small repair jobs needed here.

And God has proven His faithfulness yet again by doing exactly that.  Things are falling into place without a whole lot of planning and stressing on my part.  In fact, this has been the least stressful, most enjoyable move I’ve ever made.  I’m sleeping well at night and getting a lot done during the day—and all in God’s perfect timing, just as I had prayed: coming together with such divine precision that I can only exclaim Thank You Jesus!

Yesterday Nina’s son, Michael, called and offered to paint the apartment for me.  I had some people (Christians!) advise me that it’s not really necessary for me to paint because after five years here, the landlord expects to have to paint.

Christians have also advised me that it wasn’t necessary to pay the last quarter’s rent, either, because that’s what the security deposit is for.  But I know that it’s not true in Italy any more than it is in the US.  If the landlady withholds my security deposit, that’s between her and God, but I know that if I do the right thing, one way or another God Himself will compensate me.  To do anything else would reveal a lack of faith in God’s ability to take proper care of me.

Moving is a very expensive business, and so is the travel that will follow.  But I’ve trusted God all along to pay the rent for an apartment that I never could afford in the first place.  I’ve said all along that I never asked my human dad how he was going to pay the rent and all the other bills.  So why would I ask my Heavenly Father?  The how is His problem.  I have trusted Him all along, and I’m trusting Him for these other things that are also too much for me.  Ultimately, my only real security comes from God, and He has never let me down.

This morning I got a beautiful prophecy:

The Father says today, I am the same yesterday, today and forever.  I am no respecter of persons, but I am a respecter of faith.  When you do with your faith what others have done with their faith you will see the same results.  My mind is made up about your healing.  My mind is made up about your increase.  My mind is made up about your breakthrough.  Because I am a covenantal God, I do not decide on a case-by-case basis whether or not I will stand by My promises.  Every one of My promises is yes and amen.  That is not always what you have been taught.  Be a Father-pleaser and accept the testimony of My word and not the fallacious, sense knowledge thinking of religious mentalities who constantly try to reconcile My word to their limited experience.  Reject all such erroneous opinions.  Whatever you choose to rationalize will become the stronghold that defines your life.  I am a good God.  I am faithful to My Word.  Press in to My faithfulness.  Lay hold onto My faithfulness, for you will surely not be disappointed.

This is water-walking time for you.  Others may stand aside and wait for a fair wind, but it is the sluggard who says, “There is a lion in the streets and I cannot go out. . . .”  Those whose lives are defined by timidity and caution are nothing more than careful failures.  That is not your portion and that is not what I have called you to.  Those who know Me will be strong and do exploits.  That is who you are.  You are strong.  Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.  If you are going to do exploits you must be willing to be exploitative.  Others may cower and nurse their victim mentality, but I am calling you to shake yourself loose from the do-nothing opinions of the do-nothing people who have decided there is nothing to do.  Is there not a cause?  Am I not with you?  This is your hour and your time and in nothing shall you be ashamed, says God.

God is faithful and true!  He has never let me down, and He will never let you down!  God is good!