Washing up Washington

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The pentagram in the street layout of Washington DC

Ever since the revelation this summer that I am God’s Secret Weapon, the Lord has been speaking to me about Washington DC.  The specific thing about Washington is the Masonic witchcraft literally built into the city.  If you look at a map of the city there is a pentagram[1].  The bottom point of the pentagram points to the White House[2].  I didn’t know how I would squeeze Washington into my schedule, since my time in the US is usually slammed with family, personal, and ministry obligations—both corporate and spiritual.  But I knew that if it was important, then God would open the time for me.  I knew that the most likely time would be on the way to or from Boston.

And what a day I had here in Washington DC!  When I got on the subway to go into town, there was a woman on the elevator down to the trains.  Her hoodie said something about being a worshiper.  I said, “Is that true?” pointing to her hoodie’s message.  She said it is.  So when we got to the train, I invited her to sit with me, and we had a marvelous time talking about our wonderful God.  She is the worship leader for her mom’s church.  I had asked my church in Asheville to pray for divine appointments, and Tonya was my first.

This was a wonderful way to start my day in Washington DC, and also my annual visit to Boston.  Usually I bypass Washington on my way to Boston, stopping only in New Jersey and Connecticut to visit prayer partners on the way.  But, but the Lord made it possible, even with Thanksgiving coming up.  He has also been waking me up early in the morning to pray for America, and praying for our country was also the reason to come back this summer to witness and pray during the eclipse.  God’s eyes are on America, and He has been withholding judgment because of the prayers of righteous people on behalf of our country.  But judgment will fall sooner or later.

I started the day’s prayers by praying for invisibility from the eyes of the defeated enemy and his minions.  I entered the city by the subway, praying into its foundations.  The prayer for invisibility was important because my very presence threatened the defeated enemy’s carefully-constructed spiritual atmosphere right there at its foundation.  When I exited the subway I walked up the center of the pentagram from the point to the crotch of it at the north end, praying in the Spirit.  From there I went to each of the streets that form the points and broke those ley lines[3].

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The missing portion of the pentagram is at the Golden Triangle.

When I finished all that I found myself at a business district called the Golden Triangle.  The interesting thing about the Golden Triangle is that it occupies the whole area of the missing part of the pentagram in the street plan.  Some people have rejected the idea of a Masonic witchcraft conspiracy over the nation’s capital city because of the missing portion of the pentagram.  So it seemed important to see what was there.

As I began to walk across the middle of the Golden Triangle, and the Lord showed me that it’s more than just business.  One of the first buildings I saw, right at the beginning of the missing portion of the pentagram is the Equality Center of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.  Sounds like an important place, right?  Who wouldn’t be for human rights?  Well, this is a high-powered lobby group and propaganda machine for LGBTQ.  Of course I’m not against gay people, but this is all about shoving the gay agenda down our throats.  The Holy Spirit told me to go inside, so I did.  The receptionist chirped, “Can I help you?” so I asked if they had any brochures.  She said that all of their materials are online.  But her colleague said that they have brochures in the waiting room.  So I went and took some brochures and left.

Human Rights Campaign

Google Maps street view didn’t allow a closer look at their building.  Is this deliberate?

Going inside there was a Secret Weapon thing.  Sometimes the Lord has me go inside places just to take His presence inside.  Sometimes the Lord doesn’t allow me to go inside a place (probably because the strongman is too entrenched for me to go in alone).  The information I learned was just how much of a propaganda machine they are: training people to be advocates and leaders for the gay community, getting them into religion and public policy-making, internship programs, and offering their facilities for teaching, training, and meeting with the nation’s leaders.  In other words, they are a group of lobbyists, and obviously they’ve had some success.

But after leaving the HRC, the next place I saw was the CBN News offices.  I went inside there, too.  I couldn’t go anywhere besides the lobby, but it was a moment of real refreshment.

When I finished the Golden Triangle I walked to the White House.  Predictably, there was a protest going on in across the street.  This was mostly a group of feminists shrilly screaming for equality.  Really?  So I prayed for them to lose interest in protesting, and when I passed later, their numbers had dwindled to just a few.

By then I had done a lot of walking and I was tired, and not even halfway done with everywhere that the Lord had put on my heart.  Then I saw a bicycle rickshaw driver who was offering a tour.  It was a little pricey, but I got a personalized tour, so that I saw the places I needed to pray at, and skipped the places where I knew I didn’t need to go to.  The most valuable thing he showed me was the highest spot in DC: the Old Post Office Clock Tower—it’s the only thing in the city that is taller than the Washington Monument.  So I went asked him to organize the tour to end there.  And I went up to pray blessings over the nation’s capital.

Then I took the subway back to my hotel—and I was so exhausted that I fell asleep and a woman had to wake me when we arrived at the end of the line.  Happily, my hotel was near the end of the line.

Prayer work is exhausting, but God strengthened me for the task.  Praise the Lord!  This trip to Boston is starting off great!  God is good!

[1] An upside-down five-pointed star that witches use for casting spells and curses.  And I have it from several sources that there are witches that gather together on each waning crescent moon to curse Trump (see for example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtQGFQ5G0Ao).

[2] Whether the founding fathers intended it as a witchcraft thing or not is debatable, but there are witches out there now taking advantage of its placement in the capital.

[3] The earth is covered with a grid of ley lines—satanic power lines.  There is one that goes from a Mayan temple in Mexico through Washington, Boston, Stonehenge, and Damascus, for example.

The Spiritual Gift of Holy Music[1]

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Alison playing her David’s harp at Ein Gedi.

My favorite Spiritual Gift of all, one I enjoy in others while not possessing in the slightest, is the gift of Holy Music.  It is not specifically called a Spiritual Gift, but look how one of Saul’s servants described David to him:

Look, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a mighty man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a handsome person; and the Lord is with him, (1 Samuel 16:18, NKJV, emphasis mine).

Here King Saul was suffering from a tormenting spirit, and 1 Samuel goes on to describe how David was able to play music that actually drove the evil spirit away.  Even the denominations that are against playing music in church don’t deny that David’s Psalms are Holy Music.  David had a supernaturally empowered Spiritual Gift of Holy Music.

When you hear the words: praise and worship, what comes first to your mind?  I think that most of us would say music.  And I don’t think that’s necessarily wrong.  Of course it is possible to worship God without music, just as it is possible to reach Kansas City on foot.  Music is the vehicle that will transport you into an atmosphere of worship more efficiently, just as a car can get you to Kansas City more efficiently.  There is something about music that reaches deep into the soul and spirit—for good or for bad.

And not only that, but worship using music is one of the very few ways I know of to bring a person’s whole self into spiritual alignment by engaging the body (through playing an instrument or singing), the soul (your mind focusing on the worshipful lyrics), and the spirit (which, if redeemed, is always ready to worship God).

In 2015 I wrote about a couple of YouTubers who had made videos about the evils of Contemporary Christian Music (CCM)[2].  They were most likely pastors from the above-mentioned denominations that don’t allow music in church.  They dismissed our worshiping with music as nothing more than emotionalism.

Of course we become emotional!  God is emotional, and we are created in His image.  Plus, I never want to contemplate the Cross with a cold heart.  I also never want to sing about the Cross mechanically, as if it was an ordinary thing.  The Cross is not only life-changing, it’s eternity-changing.  That’s something to get emotional about.  It’s a reason to sing and shout, tear-up and get emotional, and jump and run and tell the world about Jesus.  I am unapologetically emotional in my love for God.

They also dismissed CCM as not really being Christian because it is entirely possible for a person to use the music to worship any god, even self.  They say this because often the lyrics don’t name Jesus by name, using “Lord,” instead.  The danger of this, they claim, is that satanists can use CCM to worship the defeated enemy.

Using that logic, I tested some songs, including a few older worship songs to see if it’s true.  The hymn We Exalt Thee fits this line of thinking, since it only uses “O Lord,” instead of naming Jesus.  But as I sang it, trying not to direct it to God, my heart ended up worshiping anyway and tears sprang to my eyes (for me this is often a sign of the Holy Spirit’s anointing).

The defeated enemy is incapable of creating anything, but we, as God’s image-bearers, are endowed with the capacity to create.  It is said that the defeated enemy was once the worship leader in Heaven—in God’s very throne room.  Being so close to all the worship and adoration, he decided that he wanted it for himself.  Is it possible for him and his minions to hijack Christian worship music?  Of course it is!  But that doesn’t diminish its power in worshiping God.  Nor does that make it something to avoid in worship.  The defeated enemy doesn’t hijack things that are useless or without power.  That’s why he has twisted prayer into incantation and spells, symbols like the Cross are turned upside down, and music is used to inflate his own ego.

Since about the mid-90’s I listen almost exclusively to Christian music, and since discovering them a few years ago, I started also listening to Contemporary Jewish groups like Six13 and Maccabeats.  Often I will be doing a mundane task like doing the dishes, making beds, or traveling on a long flight, but my heart is soaring in the heavenlies, praising my Savior.  The task gets done and I end up feeling grateful and not stressed.

Do all of these musicians and singers have the Spiritual Gift of Holy Music?  No.  But then again, a lot of the worship leaders in many of the churches I have visited don’t, either.  The Spiritual Gift is not required in order to do an able job of leading worship, but when it’s present, oh what a difference it makes.

For the past five years I have opened my home, operating in hospitality, without the Spiritual Gift of Hospitality.  In fact, on the Spiritual Gifts test, I scored only one out of ten for Hospitality.  My Spiritual Giftings are Encouragements (ten out of ten), Teaching (nine out of ten), and Prophecy (eight out of ten).  You don’t have to have the Spiritual Gift in order to operate in these things.  In fact, many of these things are things that every Christian is commanded to do, like having faith.  We aren’t all George Mullers, but we are all called to have faith.  We are all called to give to the work of the Kingdom, but few have the Spiritual Gift of Giving.  I know people who gladly live off the ten percent and give ninety percent of their income to the work of the Kingdom.

I know a couple of people who have the Spiritual Gift of Holy Music to an extraordinary degree:

Cynthia is my pastor’s mother and the founding pastor’s wife.  She writes worship music based on Scripture that is both beautiful and anointed.  I don’t know how many original songs she has written, but I know that she’s prolific.  I have often seen Cynthia begin to play a worship song that brings the atmosphere of Heaven right into the Sanctuary.

Another is Alison, a Messianic believer.  In addition to leading worship, Alison plays spontaneous soaking music[3] as led by the Holy Spirit.  Her music is powerfully anointed.  And I believe that the resistance and opposition to her music is a result of this anointing stirring up the defeated enemy’s forces.  After all, Jehoshaphat was instructed to put the musicians on the front lines of the army before the fighting men.  Alison’s music destroys spiritual strongholds.

And there are several others that I know: singers, harpists, violinists, guitar players, keyboard players[4], drummers, bassists, saxophonists, trumpeters, trombone players, and of course shofar players.  Each of them I have seen used by the Holy Spirit to create an atmosphere of worship through music.

I recently saw a video interview in which there was a man who went to Heaven.  He said that he heard church music in Heaven and said, “Hey!  That’s our music!”  God told him that all sacred music is composed first in Heaven.  I believe it because it’s the same with the Spiritual Gift of Holy Writing, which is a gift I believe that I have[5].  When the anointing is upon me to write, it feels like I’m just taking dictation.  I have heard Spiritually Gifted songwriters say the exact same thing.

All of this is not to say that Spiritual Gifts are to be exalted.  But the Holy Spirit generously gives the Spiritual Gifts in order to worship and exalt our wonderful God, and to edify the Body of Christ.  The Lord told me in 2011 that the Spiritual Gifts are simply more of Him.  This is precisely why we are encouraged to seek Spiritual Gifts[6], especially prophecy.

So if you don’t know your Spiritual Gift, you should get out there and try them out, take a gifts test, and ask God to show you your Spiritual Gifting.  Don’t neglect this, it’s important.  This is the key to living a fulfilling life in Jesus Christ.  It’s also loads of fun.  God is good!

[1] Continued from A Closer Look at Spiritual Gifts.

[2] See Bad Music.

[3] According to Wikipedia: “Soaking Music otherwise known as Soaking Prayer music or Soaking Worship music, is a subgenre of Christian Music, and is commonly used to denote songs that are used during contemplative prayer in prayer houses and other “soaking” Christian meetings.”  For more, see: The Purpose of Soaking Music.

[4] Which includes both pianists and organists.

[5] Another of the unnamed, but implied Spiritual Gifts.  Each of the writers of the Bible had this gift.

[6] 1 Corinthians 12:31.

A Closer Look at Spiritual Gifts

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The “altar” at Timna Park in Israel, illuminated by the setting sun.

You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people.  You are members of God’s family.  Together, we are His house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets.  And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus Himself.  We are carefully joined together in Him, becoming a Holy Temple for the Lord.  Through Him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by His Spirit, (Ephesians 2:19-22, emphasis mine).

The Bible reveals the gifts of the Holy Spirit in three overlapping lists:

  • Prophecy, Serving, Teaching, Encouragement[1], Giving, Leadership, and Kindness[2], (Romans 12:6–8);
  • Wise Advice, Special Knowledge, Great Faith, Healing, Miracles, Prophecy[3], Discernment, Unknown Languages[4], and Ability to Interpret, (1 Corinthians 12:8-10); and
  • Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor, and Teacher, (Ephesians 4:11[5]).

There is another list that overlaps these other lists without adding anything different:

  • Apostle, Prophet, Teacher[6], Miracles, Healing[7], Helps[8], Leadership[9], and Unknown Languages[10], (1 Corinthians 12:28).

Useful as these lists are, there are several gifts that are mentioned in other places:

  • Hospitality[11] (1 Peter 4:9-10);
  • Missionary[12] (Ephesians 3:6-8); and
  • Voluntary Poverty and Martyrdom[13], (1 Corinthians 13:3).

There is also the implied gift of Celibacy:

I wish everyone were single, just as I am.  Yet each person has a special gift from God, of one kind or another.  So I say to those who aren’t married and to widows—it’s better to stay unmarried, just as I am, (1 Corinthians 7:7-8, emphasis mine).

It is a dangerous mistake to force lifelong celibacy on young people.  Of course I believe that sexual intercourse should be reserved for marriage, and thus abstinence should be taught and encouraged.  And it’s important to remember that self-control is a Fruit of the Holy Spirit[14].  The Spiritual Gift of Celibacy—indeed all of the Spiritual Gifts—is only truly present when it is supernaturally empowered by the Holy Spirit.

I have studied the Spiritual Gifts extensively and find it fascinating how God has put the Body of Christ together: uniting so many different people, each with their own unique gifting, for the purpose of reaching the world with the Good News of Salvation in Jesus Christ[15].

For more information about the Spiritual Gifts see Spiritual Gifts List and Definitions.  See also Your Spiritual Gifts can help Your Church Grow by C. Peter Wagner.  If you don’t know what your Spiritual Gifting is, I recommend taking a Spiritual Gifts test.  You will be far more useful to the Kingdom of God if you know and allow God to use your Spiritual Gifts.  But not only that, when you operate in your Spiritual Gift you will find it fun, interesting, and more fulfilling than anything else you’ve ever done.  And chances are that you are already doing some things involving your Spiritual Gift without even knowing it.

But I believe that the above lists are still incomplete because they fail to take into account some of the Old Testament Spiritual Gifts.  The most obvious is one I call Holy Craftsmanship:

Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.  Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, to help him.  Also I have given ability to all the skilled workers to make everything I have commanded you: the tent of meeting, the ark of the covenant law with the atonement cover on it, and all the other furnishings of the tent—the table and its articles, the pure gold lampstand and all its accessories, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, the basin with its stand—and also the woven garments, both the sacred garments for Aaron the priest and the garments for his sons when they serve as priests, and the anointing oil and fragrant incense for the Holy Place.  They are to make them just as I commanded you,” (Exodus 31:1-11, emphasis mine).

Notice that Holy Craftsmanship is not merely being good at one craft, but a broad skillset, empowered supernaturally by the Holy Spirit (as are all of the Spiritual Gifts).

There is also the Spiritual Gift of Holy Warfare, and I have no doubt that this is as much in the physical sense as in the spiritual[16]:

Praise the Lord, who is my Rock.  He trains my hands for war and gives my fingers skill for battle, (Psalm 144:1, emphasis mine).

And then there is the Spiritual Gift that I share with my favorite Christian authors, Mark Buchanan[17] and Mark Batterson[18]; and also with my favorite ancient authors, Isaiah and John: the Spiritual Gift of Holy Writing.  Of course I’m not saying that what I write is worthy of inclusion in the Bible.  I haven’t even achieved enough recognition (as of this writing) to have been published[19].  But God does use my writing to reach people with the Truth, and I know that this Gift is supernaturally empowered because sometimes as I write, I feel like I’m taking dictation.

In my next post I will highlight my favorite Spiritual Gift.  God is good!

[1] Called Exhortation in older English translations.

[2] Called Mercy in many other versions.

[3] Overlaps with the Romans list.

[4] Called Tongues in older English translations.

[5] These five are both gifts and offices, though I believe that many people who occupy the office of Pastor do not have the supernatural gift of Pastor, but rather the Spiritual Gift of Teacher or Leadership.

[6] These first three overlap with the Ephesians list.

[7] Miracles and Healing overlap with the 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 list.

[8] Considered by some to be the same gift as Serving in the Romans list.

[9] Overlaps with the Romans list, also called Administration.

[10] Overlaps with the 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 list.

[11] Implied.

[12] Implied.

[13] I believe that Martyrdom really is a supernaturally-powered Spiritual Gift.  In movies we see and imagine that martyrs suffered for their faith, but the only suffering death ever recorded is Jesus’ death.  Jesus suffered all the pain and humiliation of being nailed naked to a cross because the Father looked away.  But many times it is recorded that martyrs faced their deaths joyfully: Polycarp and Perpetua, for example.

[14] Galatians 5:22-23.  Fruit of the Spirit is different from the Spiritual Gifts because all nine fruits come as a result of living your life dead to sin, but alive in Christ (Romans 6:11).

[15] Ephesians 2:19-22.

[16] And thank God for the warriors who put their lives on the line for our country and for the Kingdom of God.

[17] Author of Your God is Too Safe.

[18] Author of Wild Goose Chase.

[19] Though I have self-published nine books so far.

 

Moving into The Secret Place

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I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the Lord, Who calls you by your name, Am the God of Israel, (Isaiah 45:3, NKJV, emphasis mine).

For the past several months I have been praying for more of God.  Specifically, I have asked God for more of Him and that I should never be satisfied that I have enough of Him: Holy Dissatisfaction[1], I call it.

And I think this prayer for Holy Dissatisfaction is the reason why God is calling me back out of my comfort zone and into greater service as His Secret Weapon[2] (see An Invitation to Adventure).

The problem is that a Secret Weapon isn’t secret if the enemy knows all about it (even a defeated enemy).  So this morning as I read Psalm 91 again, it struck me afresh:

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).

I realized that I need to move into The Secret Place, under God Almighty’s Shadow, if I am going to truly fly under the defeated enemy’s radar, as prophesied this past summer:

God has chosen you to make you His Secret Weapon.  You are a Secret Weapon because the forces of the defeated enemy won’t believe that you could possibly be a threat to his kingdom.  Thus, you will fly under the radar of the defeated enemy’s forces, and they will never see you coming.

You will do real damage to the defeated enemy’s kingdom and set back his plans in many places.  Do not fear, though He leads you into some scary places.  God will be with you all the way, leading you, showing you where to go and teaching you how to pray.

I understood that will need invisibility in order to go and pray in stronghold places where the defeated enemy’s forces are all around.  Happily, I have already experienced that protective invisibility[3], so I was led to pray:

Lord, thank You for granting me protective invisibility.  Thank You, also, for inviting me to dwell in Your Secret Place and abide under Your Mighty Shadow.  As I enter into this next season of travel and Secret Weapon assignments, please keep me and all of my communications hidden from the defeated enemy and all of his minions.  And please give me greater discernment to know who to talk to and who not to talk to.  In the Mighty Name of Jesus, Amen.

As I continued reading Psalm 91, I was also struck afresh by all the protections promised to those who dwell in The Secret Place:

  • He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler. . . (verse 3),

For among my people there are wicked men, who, like fowlers, lie in wait and set traps to catch their fellow human beings, (Jeremiah 5:26, CJB).

The defeated enemy’s human minions are like fowlers, trapping unsuspecting people like birds.

  • . . . and from the perilous pestilence, (verse 3),

After this summer and having a potentially deadly bout of pneumonia[4], I know that I need this protection.

  • You shall not be afraid of the terror by night. . . (verse 5),

Having recently suffered this attack[5], too, I’m also glad for this protection.

  • . . . nor of the arrow that flies by day. . . (verse 5),

Recently I was crossing the street at a crosswalk, and there was a car about half a block away.  When I was about a third of the way across, the driver suddenly stepped on the gas, as though to run me over.  I ran on across the street.  It wasn’t until later that I realized that the driver wasn’t just your ordinary crazy.  He was probably in league with the defeated enemy and looking to take me out.

  • . . . nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness. . . (verse 6),

I don’t mind being doubly protected from pestilence.

  • . . . nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday, (verse 6),
  • No evil shall befall you. . . (verse 10),

Being invisible to the defeated enemy and his minions will be important.

  • . . . nor shall any plague come near your dwelling. . . (verse 10),

Triple protection against illness!

  • For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone, (verses 11 & 12),

Angelic body guards—I’m going to need them.

  • You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra (verse 13).

See?  This is all about being God’s Secret Weapon.

So as I move into this next season as God’s Secret Weapon, traveling and doing the prophetic prayer work that He assigns, I will take Psalm 91 as my prayer and promise of divine protection.  All of this would be very frightening indeed without the promise of divine protection.  But having the promise of divine protection and protective invisibility, I face this new season of my life with a sense of excitement as an adventure.  What adventure is God calling you to?  God is good!

[1] See Hungry and My Heart’s Cry.

[2] See God’s Secret Weapon.

[3] See Invisibility—it’s quite an interesting story.

[4] See Barking Hell.

[5] See The Terror that Stalks at Midnight.

Parting Gift

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View of the Cathedral from the roof

This time of year what looms large upon my personal horizon is the knowledge that soon I will return to the US for my annual Thanksgiving and Christmas visit with family.  Since this visit is usually three or four months long, it means getting ready to make My Annual Move.  This year, just beyond that horizon is another: making my move out of the apartment and into my mission field, Europe.

Friends in Milan have expressed sorrow at the idea of losing me.  But I know that Milan is a place where God will keep bringing me back.  God hasn’t said as much to me, but I feel it in my heart.  I love Europe, but most of all, I love Milan.

Today God gave me a parting gift.  On Facebook a few days ago I had seen pictures that friends of mine took.  They showed a view of Milan that I had never seen before: from the roof of the Galleria.  I asked for details about how to get to the roof of the Galleria because I hadn’t even known that it was possible to go up there.

So today Tim and I went up there.  And here are the pictures that I took of that experience—my parting gift from God.  God is good!

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Putting our Heads Together

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As missionaries, it’s important to stay connected.

Stephanie is a new missionary, staying with me for a bit before she goes out to explore the rest of her mission field in Europe.  She arrived first in Barcelona and got a SIM chip for her phone.  But she was unable to unblock the phone to use it.  I had an old flip phone that had always worked well for me, and I gave it to her.  She was glad to get it, but the chip wouldn’t work in that phone, either.

We came up with some theories why it wouldn’t work:

  • It’s a 4G SIM in a 3G phone
  • It is actually only good in Spain (though they told her it was for international use)
  • My phone may have stopped functioning

Whatever the issue, it became clear that we needed to seek professional help to figure this out because Stephanie needed to be able to call in case she got lost or something.  So we went to a phone store.  The first one had an unfriendly salesperson who quickly sent us away, saying that they would only sell a phone and / or SIM with a contract.  The second one also had an unfriendly salesperson who said that they didn’t know how to solve our problem and sent us away.

The third one had a very friendly salesperson who was sure that she had the solution for us: she would sell Stephanie an Italian SIM chip for €20, which included unlimited calls and text for a month in Italy, and 200 gigabytes of data that she could use inside or outside of Italy.  Her friendliness and positive attitude regarding Stephanie’s problem made the offer very tempting.  But I excused us, saying that we would return after considering it over a coffee (I could do this since I was translating their conversation).

As we walked out of the store, I confided to Stephanie how the salesperson’s friendliness had tempted me to accept her offer.  But I wasn’t convinced that this was the ideal solution to her problem.  So we went and got a gelato and talked things over.

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Stephanie’s phone was blocked for calls or using other SIM chips, but she was able to use it for internet at my house, using my Wi-Fi.  So I asked her: “Do you need internet while you’re away from the house?  You can always find a café or other free internet point.”

She said that the only reason to have internet outside of the house would be for a map app.  But she pointed out that she had downloaded a map app that doesn’t need internet because it uses the phone’s GPS.

So I suggested that rather than get services that she doesn’t need, why doesn’t she buy a regular phone SIM for about €5 that will work in Italy.  Then when she goes on to her other destinations she can do the same in those countries.  Stephanie agreed, thrilled to have come to a workable solution.  Then she said: “You know, I think the Spanish SIM was probably only internet and no calls.”

So we went to a phone store that we hadn’t visited before.  I told the salesperson that we wanted to buy a prepaid SIM chip for the flip phone.  She sold it to Stephanie without any problem, and an hour later, it was connected and working perfectly.

As missionaries, we need to be careful about how we spend our money, and examining a problem like Stephanie’s over a coffee (or a gelato) is a great way to find the right solution.  I was glad that my time as a traveling missionary helped Stephanie as she steps into her own traveling ministry.

Helping Stephanie through this problem made me realize that God will likewise provide someone to help me through these kinds of challenges.  I have a lot of excitement and hope for the future, traveling again through my mission field.  Will I miss my apartment?  Probably.  But Peter said:

Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls, (1 Peter 2:11, emphasis mine).

I have moved so much in my life that I am well aware that I am a temporary resident wherever I am.  And here in Italy, I have never stopped being a foreigner.  In fact with each passing year I feel more and more foreign in the US, too.  But this is not a reason for sadness.  It’s just a reminder that Heaven is my only true home.  God is good!

The Fear that Stalks at Midnight

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Someone had posted this quote on Facebook just the other day

Last night I slept like a baby: up every two hours.  At one point, I woke up with a powerful feeling of fear.  The pounding of my heart woke me and all sorts of worries about the future suddenly rushed at me there in the dark.  Sweat broke out so badly that my hair, pajamas, sheets, and pillowcase were suddenly soaked.

Immediately I recognized that this fear and worry was not coming from my own mind.  I have had experience with troubling thoughts that were not mine.  And this morning as I turned on my computer, I realized that this kind of demonic attack is probably not unusual for God’s people.  But perhaps not all recognize that these emotions had not been born in their own hearts.  So here is a teaching moment.

I remember the day when I realized that I didn’t have to react in anger whenever someone said (or screamed) angry words to me.  Their angry words continued to stir up angry feelings in me, but it was freeing to know that I didn’t have to give in to the emotion—and cause myself more trouble.  Instead, I could walk away and calmly assess what would be a better response—and there was always a better response.

I didn’t know it then, but now I realize: in those times when an angry word would set me off into a tirade, what was really going on was that a demon was behind the scenes pushing my buttons and pulling my strings like an invisible puppet master, laughing at the chaos that I was making of my life, and hoping to ultimately destroy me.

I used to struggle a lot with depression.  Once I suffered almost a year in such a deep depression that I began to have suicidal hallucinations.  These were not fantasies, but genuine hallucinations.  The two suicides I hallucinated both involved the big kitchen knife.  In one slit my throat from ear to ear.  In the other I plunged the knife into my heart.  I would be performing the most mundane household mom tasks (putting sheets in the dryer, getting the mail, or bathing the baby) and suddenly I had the knife in my hand.  I could feel the cold, sharp edge of the blade, but no pain.  Then the warm, velvety gush of blood and the copper-salty smell of it.  When the hallucinations were happening, I didn’t know that they weren’t really happening.

And when I snapped out of it again to find my baby splashing happily in the bathtub, it really frightened me.  I would ask my husband or older son to watch the baby, and I would go hide in the closet.  Something about being in the closet felt safe.  It was dark, all the sounds of the house were muffled and distant, and I could calm myself as I breathed there among the clothing that smelled like us.

This was during the years that I was so disappointed with God that I considered myself an atheist.  I didn’t believe in God, so by default I didn’t believe in the devil, either.  But one afternoon there in the closet, I suddenly realized that these hallucinations were not coming from my mind.  That meant that they had to be coming from outside of me.  I knew it because I knew that as bad as things were, I didn’t want to kill myself.  I would never leave my sons that kind of legacy no matter how bad things got.  But if I ever did want to kill myself, it would never, ever involve a knife and blood.

Understanding that this was coming from outside of me scared me even more.  But it also helped in a crazy way because I knew that I was still ultimately in control of my actions.  Since I didn’t want to kill myself, I wouldn’t kill myself.  If this entity wanted to kill me, it would just do it, right?  If it could kill me without my cooperation, it would have already done so, right?  So I began to understand that maybe I could fight this thing.

I went to a counselor (not a psychiatrist because I didn’t want to be medicated) and I talked things out.  I had the idea that if talking about the pain would make it go away, then that is what I would talk about.  So I went in week after week, skipping the small talk and going straight to the heart of the pain.  It was hard!  It was like emotionally disemboweling myself week after week.  And it go so that I couldn’t function for two days leading up to my appointment, so I asked for two appointments a week.  And I stuck with my plan of talking the pain out.

After two unbelievably difficult months, the depression suddenly lifted and I quit going to counseling.  Several months later, Jesus reclaimed me.  Yes, He left the 99 to come looking for this little lost sheep.  And of course, when I journaled all of this later, I realized the source of those suicidal hallucinations—and of my destructive angry responses.

We need to understand that we live in a battlefield, and there are invisible fiery darts whizzing past our heads all the time.  The defeated enemy is defeated, but he doesn’t appear to know it.  He and his minions whisper discouragement and negativity into our ears all the time.  God is also speaking to us all the time: words of encouragement and strength and love.

When we have a thought, it can only have one of three possible sources: God, the defeated enemy, or our own mind.  We need to learn to listen better to God’s voice.  God will speak to you, often in a particular way that you know your own mind doesn’t work.  For example, I am a word person.  I do not think in pictures at all.  So when I get a picture thought, it’s almost always from God.

Another way that I know a God thought from my own is this: if it’s a great idea (one that benefits His Kingdom) that I am resisting, that’s from God.  I never resist my own great ideas (and often they turn out not to be so great after all).  And if God gives you a great idea, overcome your resistance and do it.  You’ll find that obedience really is better than sacrifice—in so many ways.

So what is God telling you today?  Do it!  What are you waiting for?  God is good!

P.S. You might be wondering what I did last night, trembling and drenched in sweat.  I rebuked the spirit of fear.  Then I got up, praising God, and went to the bathroom to wash my face in cold water.  Then I sat in my prayer chair and softly sang: Look what the Lord has done! to myself.  Then I went back to bed (all fear and worry completely gone) and slept very deeply until seven—for me this is like sleeping until noon.

An Answer to Prayer Arrives at my Door

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Praying for healing in Prague.

During my trip to Texas last year I was invited to lunch by Silvia and her daughter, Stephanie.  I had stayed at Silvia’s house two years previously, and she wanted me to meet Stephanie—or rather, she had wanted Stephanie to meet me.  The reason became clear immediately: Stephanie is very interested in becoming a missionary.  She wanted to know specifically about fundraising.

I told her: “If God is calling you to missions, then He will provide the funding.  All you have to do is get ready to go and don’t worry about the money.  It will come right on time.”  The thing that trips up lots of would-be missionaries is that they respond to God’s call by looking at their bank balance.  Wrong!  Of course your bank balance is not going to be enough!  God will provide in one of two ways:

  1. Supernaturally by touching the hearts of people to give you money or by making the money appear when you need it. God might want to grow your faith in this way.  Or
  2. God will instruct you to start fundraising, and how to go about doing that. By asking people to help you financially, you’re actually giving them the opportunity to share in your blessing as a missionary.  Fundraising can actually be a way to bless people.

Stephanie felt encouraged and excited to launch into the mission field.  But then I didn’t hear from her for several months.  Then this summer she contacted me, saying that she’s booking her flight to Milan to come stay with me, and asking if her flight date was good for me.

At first I wanted to say no.  What am I going to do with this girl?  But then I realized that she’s one of the answers to my daily prayer for more missionaries to Europe.  If God’s sending her here, then He has a purpose for that.  So I told her to come on.  This is what I had been encouraging her to do back in December last year—I just hadn’t expected her to come to me.

So after much communication, walking her through issues that she hadn’t known about, like only being allowed in the Schengen Zone for 90 days out of every six months.  Stephanie finally got her tickets and came.  Her first flight was delayed and it made her miss her second flight.  She spent the night in the Barcelona airport and flew to Milan yesterday.

I couldn’t go meet her flight, so Tim offered to meet her for me.  I had an appointment at the police station to get my Permit to Live in Italy.  It turned out that it was not granted, but it was also not denied.  I need to return in February with a more current tax return, showing proof of my income.  This is all going to be interesting for my future homeless state in Europe.  I may be the one who has to exit the Schengen Zone every three out six months of the year.  We’ll see.

When I returned to the house she was here.  Stephanie’s first official day as a missionary was very low-key.  We went to lunch at my local pizza place and then went on the walking tour of Milan that I show visitors.  She enjoyed seeing the cathedral, the castle, and chocolate shoes at La Rinascente department store the best.

This gave us the chance to get to know each other better.  Stephanie told me about some of her health challenges.  She has faith for healing, but has not seen it manifested in her body yet.  Healing is one of those issues that really seems to divide Christians.  Most of us profess to have faith for healing, yet we deny it with our own mouths by the things we say.  When I pointed out something that Stephanie said as an example of something to quit saying about herself, she immediately agreed.  We talked about strategies for expressing a present truth without making a negative confession: “I suffer from . . .” instead of “I have . . .” is a good example.  She agreed to the strategy.

I also shared something I heard in a sermon about how God provides for those whom He has called: “God’s will, God’s bill!”  Stephanie laughed, agreeing with the idea.

Because she had slept in the airport, Stephanie had slept very little—and that after a long day of travel over nine time zones.  And since I had kept her walking much of the day, when we returned to the house, she was exhausted and enjoyed an early bedtime.

Early this morning, Stephanie came to me for prayer, saying that she hadn’t slept well, feeling like she is under a spiritual attack.  This neither surprised nor alarmed me.  But I prayed for her, proclaiming God’s perfect shalom over her body and mind.  She slept like a baby after that.

Today Stephanie starts her first day of ministry.  Please pray for her to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit today and all the rest of her life and ministry.  And thank God, too, for this living, breathing answer to my daily prayer: a missionary who has faithfully answered God’s call to Europe.  Bless her!  God is good!

Unfriendly Fire

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Well, it’s happened again.  It seems that every year as we approach halloween[1], I come across and read articles on why Christians shouldn’t celebrate halloween[2].  And when I post the link to said article on Facebook, there are always Christian friends who disagree with me.  That’s fine, I don’t agree with all of my friends on everything.

Some will invariably suggest Trunk or Treat or Harvest Festivals at Church in place of halloween.  I respectfully disagree, responding that God already has fall festivals: Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles.  God also already has a costumed holiday: Purim.  These holidays do not glorify the defeated enemy in any way.  Nor do they risk offending God, since they are His holidays and nobody else’s.

I understand Christians wanting some alternative way for their children to celebrate so that they won’t feel left out and weird.  But we are called to be different.  Different people stand out.  Different people are weird.  We are told:

And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you], (Romans 12:2, AMP, emphasis mine).

A conformed person floats along through life, going with the flow.  It’s an easy, effortless life that eventually drops like a little paper boat down into the dark storm drain, never to return.

A transformed person swims upstream, against the flow, occasionally bumping into the floaters.  Opposition, even from other Christians, doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going the wrong way.  Are the floaters saved?  They may be.  The Bible clearly says that some will get to Heaven despite the fact that all their works are burned up[3].  I think these Christianized satanic celebrations are an example of works that are going to be burned up.

Like I said, it’s not unusual for me to disagree with my friends on various issues.  But about halloween, there always seems to be one person who decides to hold a public debate about halloween, saying that there’s nothing wrong or sinful about a Christian with pure motives celebrating this holiday that’s long been divorced from its origins.

Of course there’s nothing sinful about a person dressing up or handing out candy.  But why do they absolutely have to do it on October 31?  halloween is not long divorced from its origins.  There are many satanists, witches, and occultists that celebrate halloween.  It is a high holy[4] day that they take very seriously.  Just because we think it’s a lot of harmless fun doesn’t take away any of the satanic involvement.  So when you dress your child, even as a princess or a bunny, you’re celebrating a satanic high holy day—whether you believe it or not, because you’ve strayed into enemy territory.  That truck bearing down on you is going to seriously mess you up, whether you believe it or not, because you’ve strayed onto the highway.  The seriousness that satanists have regarding halloween should cause any true Christian to really stop and think this through.

Under the original name, samhain, halloween is similar in every little detail to modern halloween.  Check it out:

samhain halloween
Celebrated from sundown on October 31 through November 1 halloween and All-Saints Day celebrated October 31 through November 1
Dressing up to fool evil spirits Dressing up to fool friends
Dressing up as ghosts to get food or money from frightened neighbors Dressing up to go trick-or-treating for candy or money
Food and sweets left outside the door as offerings to the spirits Going door-to-door for sweets
Ancient Celts would prophesy all night about the coming year Telling ghost stories long into the night on halloween
Bonfires lit to offer sacrifices to the spirits Bonfires lit for nighttime parties
Fairies are said to roam the night Trick-or-treaters roam the streets
Spirits said to perform pranks Trick-or-treaters perform pranks
Ancient Romans celebrated pomona on this date by putting out apples Apple-bobbing comes from the pomona celebration
Ancient Celts carved turnips and lit them with burning embers to keep spirits away Carving and lighting jack-o-lanterns

The timing of the halloween celebration is because during these days the veil between the material world and the spirit world is said to be thinner than at any other time.  In fact, if you investigate you’ll find that occultists have very definitive beliefs about what is and isn’t possible on certain dates.

The real issue is that celebrating the defeated enemy’s high holy day opens the door to allow him to interfere in your life.  This is not a punishment from God or a curse from God.  God doesn’t work that way.  But when we stray into the defeated enemy’s territory, we shouldn’t be surprised if he attacks us.  Would you go into your neighbor’s yard, knowing he has a fierce pit bull there?  Would you let your child?  But what if your neighbor has some really fun playground equipment and a pool?  The dog’s probably sleeping, right?  Do you see how silly these rationalizations are in the face of real risk?

And besides the risk of disease or danger, there’s another risk associated with celebrating the defeated enemy’s holy day: alienating God.  I wrote about this last year, see A Halloween Story.

Here are some more thoughts on halloween that I invite you to consider:

  • Wiccans (the religion of witchcraft) celebrate halloween as a religious holiday. Why would Christians celebrate the holiday of any other religion[5]?  In the passage below, the comparison is meant to reveal the gravity of the sin of rebellion.

Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols, (1 Samuel 15:23, emphasis mine).

Witchcraft is exceedingly evil in God’s eyes.

  • As Christians, we worship the Lord of Life. The focus of halloween is death.  People decorate their yards with ghosts, zombies, vampires, graveyards, effigies, etc.  And the celebration is mostly done after sunset.  Even if we don’t personally embrace the death aspect of halloween, the rest of the world certainly does.  What kind of message are we sending?
  • God calls witchcraft detestable[6]. Why do you want to celebrate something that God hates?  Or participate in it as if you do celebrate it?
  • God told us to put away deeds of darkness[7]. I believe that it’s dangerous to even look like we’re participating with darkness.  God said that light has nothing in common with darkness[8].  Again, this doesn’t seem like something a Child of the Light should be participating in.
  • Even if you don’t dress your kids like devils, witches, ghosts, zombies, or vampires, other people are. The Bible says that we need to be wise about good and innocent of evil[9].  If you allow your children to participate in halloween, even while dressed as something innocent, you’re sending them mixed messages.
  • The Bible says:

Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord.  Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you, (2 Corinthians 6:17, emphasis mine).

We are called to be set apart from the world and from sin and evil, not go with the flow.

  • Some of your family and friends will think it’s ridiculous not to allow your children to dress up for Halloween. I, personally, have gotten a lot of pushback on this subject.  My perspective is this: while I love and respect them, God’s opinion is the only one that matters to me.
  • The first clue was that slight doubt in my heart about halloween. Why should I go against that still, small voice that tells me halloween is wrong?
  • Nothing about halloween brings glory to God.

God’s Word says:

Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them, (Ephesians 5:11).

You can’t get any clearer than that.

Instead of trying to Christianize halloween by escaping to church for a harvest festival until all the trick-or-treaters have gone home, let’s take the opportunity to share our faith:

  • Don’t decorate your door, or if you do, decorate only for autumn.
  • Turn on the lights for the safety of all visitors.
  • Buy candy to hand out—good candy even if it tempts you.
  • Buy some Christian tracts[10].
  • Hand out both candy and tracts together when the kids come to the door.
  • Be kind and friendly to all of your visitors.
  • Take all leftovers (both candy and tracts) to work the next day and leave them together in the breakroom for your co-workers.

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This way you can share your faith while maintaining the integrity of your beliefs and not compromising.

There are 364 other days that you can have a costume party.  This is the only day when you really shouldn’t.  God is good!

[1] A word I refuse to dignify by capitalizing.

[2] Here are a few articles you might find interesting:

Former satan Worshipper: “I’m Shocked Christians Celebrate halloween”

Why Christians Absolutely Should Not Celebrate halloween

Should Christians Celebrate halloween?

[3] 1 Corinthians 3:11-15.

[4] Holy means set apart.  Obviously a satanic holy day is not the same as a God-ordained holy day.

[5] Especially one that is specifically forbidden by God (see Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 19:26 & 31; Deuteronomy 18:10-14; 1 Samuel 15:23; 2 Kings 9:22, 17:17, & 21:6; 2 Chronicles 33:6; Isaiah 2:6, 47:9, & 57:3; Jeremiah 14:14; Ezekiel 12:24, 13:6-9, 23, 21:21-29, & 22:28; Micah 3:6 & 5:12; Nahum 3:4; Acts 8:9-11, 16:16, & 19:19; Galatians 5:20; Revelation 9:21, 18:23, & 21:8).

[6] Deuteronomy 18:10-14.

[7] Romans13:12.

[8] 2 Corinthians 6:14.

[9] Romans 16:19.

[10] Here’s one that’s made for the occasion: Halloween Million Dollar Bill.

Encouraging Ministries in Milan

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Closer to home the missions team from Asheville joined me in encouraging a couple of ministries here in Milan: Remar and MiHOP.

When we visited Remar last year they were in a temporary facility near Centrale train station.  At that time they were hoping to stay there in that building because its proximity to the train station gave the refugees something to do: beg for money at a place where they were likely to have the most success.  Of course they don’t condone or promote begging as a lifestyle, but because these men can’t legally work, they have no other means of obtaining money.  Begging is better than stealing.  Another difficulty with that facility was that they were not able to keep the doors open all day.  In fact, the doors were only open about an hour in the morning and the men were all required to leave.  The doors were opened again in the evening just before the dinner hour, then locked at nine.  Anyone who didn’t get there in time had to sleep outside.  Because of the brief and strict hours, there was little opportunity for language or job training.

This year we visited Remar at their new facility at the edge of Milan.  The new facility is much better than the other.  For one thing, it is much bigger.  So instead of housing 20 men, they can now house 50.  And since this new building has been provided to them by the city, they are no longer under the old restrictions.  They can stay open all day, which allows them much more time for language classes and training the men for various jobs.

We were thrilled to have the opportunity this year to meet with Pastor Andres, the head of Remar in Italy.  He told us about the organization, which originated in Spain.  The word remar means to row a boat.  The idea being “let’s row together.”  Remar has many facilities throughout southern Europe, including Switzerland, Croatia, Greece, and Albania.  And several others in Italy.  We were very pleased to be able to pray for their new building and for Pastor Andres and his team of professionals and volunteers.

Then we toured the facility and went to meet with the men.  Many of them speak English, being from various English-speaking African countries.  It encouraged them so much to see outsiders come in and be willing to talk with them.  Besides the staff, they have had little positive interaction with others here in Italy.

In the evening we went to MiHOP, the Milan House of Prayer, based on the Kansas City HOP model.  Again, last year’s experience here was improved upon, though the facility remains the same.  This year we were able to meet with the founders of MiHOP and pray for them.  We spent time in prayer and worship, enjoying God’s presence together.

The ministry that we were unable to reconnect with this year was Missione REM.  We had met them at their bus in Turin last year[1].  This year they also have a new facility at the edge of town, but our tight schedule and transportation issues prevented a visit.  Still, it was really good to reconnect with these ministries.  And just by a simple visit, they were greatly encouraged.  God is good!

[1] See Fashionably Early.