Worship in the Afternoon and Forgiveness in the Morning

Our afternoon worship session (4-6 PM) was the best attended, besides prime time.  Felicity was in the zone, having really gotten in touch with her vocalization and riffing.  But of course, it’s not about the music as much as it is about the heart.  Her heart was clearly worshiping God, and that is what bumped her vocal style to the next level (perhaps even a few levels).

Bethany has shown a real talent for the flags.  She is able to make them dance in some really beautiful ways.  I love the flags, but I’m not at all good at it, and I’ve never waved them without the stick hitting something.  I figured that I should probably stop now before I put someone’s eye out.

After the session, I was feeling very tired, and wanted nothing more than to return to the hotel and sleep—yes, this was at six in the evening.  We have done late night, early morning, wee hours, and so forth, so that now I just need to go rest when my body says so, no matter what the hour.  So I went to the cloak room to put on my jacket.  The others were behind me and they were invited to share Communion with a couple of German men.  I saw Felicity go to her knees, and I knew that this could be a while, so I walked back to the hotel alone.

The following day, we were upstairs in the church’s coffee shop.  Felicity told me that she needed to talk with me.  So we went into the prayer room, which was empty for the first time (no babies, no nursing mothers, no small children).  There she told me about the German men inviting them to share Communion.  She said that she immediately realized that she needed to repent.  She confessed that she had been holding anger and unforgiveness in her heart because of Europe’s involvement with the African slave trade (Felicity is African-American).  She poured out her heart about how much she hates when people want to touch her hair or ask her what African country she comes from—she doesn’t know because her ancestors were kidnapped and taken to America as slaves.

We wept together for both her pain and for the loss of her heritage and culture.  Felicity knows that these are innocent things not intended to wound her, but she can’t deny the pain they cause her.  Before she took Communion, she knelt to forgive the Europeans, and to ask God to forgive her.

In the next teaching session, when we were invited to share our experiences at Tabernacles, Felicity asked me if she should share her pain and to ask forgiveness.  I told her that if that’s what she wants to do, she should do it.  So she did.  And several people told her that they forgive her.  But some people have since acted differently around her, avoiding her, particularly the German girls because it had involved their friends.

At the end of the teaching session, they called forward all the young people (those 30 and under), and we prayed for them.  I came and prayed specifically for Felicity.  The Holy Spirit urged me to also repent and ask her forgiveness for my ancestors’ part in the slave trade because my people, though not rich landowners, had some slaves nevertheless.  I had never felt personally responsible for the slave trade because it was all over and done with long before I was born, and I have always treated Felicity with the same kindness and respect that I treat all my friends.  But sins curse lasts to the 4th generation, and it was right for me to repent and confess the sin so that its curse could be completely broken.  Felicity forgave without hesitation, and we wept in each other’s arms.  It was a very cleansing moment for me.  Later she told me that nobody had ever asked forgiveness for the slave trade before.  It was very hard, but I am really glad that I did it.  It was the right thing to do.

Our last session was 6-8 AM.  I woke up half an hour before the alarm, and began to pray.  One person God led me to pray for particularly was Felicity.  Then God gave me a word for her: Isaiah 41:10:

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous Right Hand.

And the Lord’s word to Felicity went something like this (I don’t remember it exactly):

I have felt every blow and every insult, whether intentional or not.  I know your pain, but I will take the pain away.  It is no accident that you are here.  You are here for your healing.  Receive your healing.  You are My beloved daughter.  You are loved.  You have value.

This prophecy came to me in the form of a song, and the Lord told me to sing this to Felicity—on the platform in the church.  I realized that this could be a very emotional moment for her, and I felt like it would be best if she knew that it was coming, rather than surprising her.  So we walked together to church while the others were still gathering themselves.  I told her about the word, without telling her what it is, and asked her when she wanted it: early in the session (when there are likely to be fewer people) or later in the session (when she won’t have to struggle with emotions and tears while trying to sing).  She told me she wanted it early, and asked me why I had to sing it.  I told her about how God had healed me to sing (see Dancing in My Dreams).  She said, “Oh, I get it!  Killing two birds with one song!”  Yeah, that’s exactly it!

So, the sanctuary wasn’t completely empty, but we warned the others about what was going to happen, and we proceeded.  Being first thing in the morning, and early morning at that, my voice was terrible.  But I sang anyway.  Felicity cried, but not a whole lot, and was able to go on with worship without any problems.  It was a nice worship session, nothing spectacular, but full of the right heart for God.  God is good!

Blessed in Budapest

Yesterday was our second and last day in Budapest.  In the morning we met in the Jewish Ghetto and did a prayer walk with Esther from Jews for Jesus.  Although the Jews of Budapest were only confined to the ghetto for a month, it was such a difficult time, being winter, that there was no heat and little or nothing to eat.  Many people died during that month, and Esther’s grandmother was one of them.

But then she took us to the Carl Lutz memorial.  Carl Lutz was a Swiss man who saved thousands of Jewish children during the war, and Esther’s mother was of them.  It makes the Holocaust so much more tragic and real when you meet someone so personally impacted by the war.

sculptureCarl Lutz memorial

After lunch we walked out to the middle of the Crown Bridge.  Just last year they had added a couple of obelisks and crown statues to the bridge.  Obelisks are ancient Egyptian symbols, which have to do with the worship of the sun.  Nevertheless, obelisks are found in many churches, especially in Europe.  Obelisks are also a common architectural theme in Freemasonry.  The Masons claim to be a Christian organization and point to their good work in building the Shriners Childrens Hospitals, and riding around in funny little cars in parades wearing fezes, but even a casual glance at the rites reveals the satanic roots of Freemasonry.  The Hungarian crown has a crooked cross on top, which I think is revealing, too.  So we prayed there in the middle of the bridge, looking across the Danube at the Parliament building that we had visited the day before.

Crown Bridge crown sculptureCrown statue on the Crown Bridge

One more destination was the castle and church atop the highest hill in Budapest.  From that vantage point high on the ramparts, we prayed for Budapest and proclaimed her future and her people for Jesus.  Those of us from other countries then prayed for the Hungarians who had come to pray with us, blessings them.

Budapest Castle rampartsCastle ramparts high above the city of Budapest

Finally we returned to the Scottish Mission Church to worship God and have a final evening of prayer together.  It was a really sweet time together, and when the Hungarians surrounded us to pray for us, the Holy Spirit fell upon all of us and we laughed in the sweet joy of the Lord.  So we ended our time together worshiping, praying, blessing, and laughing.  It was wonderful!  God is good!

And today was a travel day back to Bratislava followed by relaxing, each in their own way (taking a run, shopping, sleeping, writing a blog post—guess who!).

Scottish church restroom signRestroom sign at the Scottish Mission Church

Put on Your Royal Robes

Day Twenty

Tomorrow is the last day of my fast.  My answer is coming!  While praying this morning the Lord said to me: “Put on your royal robes.”  He didn’t tell me what that meant, so I looked up the words “royal robes” in the Bible to see if the term had some kind of significance.

One thing I noticed is the contrast between the first and last mention of royal robes:

1 Samuel 19:24 (Amp) – He took off his royal robes and prophesied before Samuel and lay down stripped thus all that day and night. So they say, Is Saul also among the prophets? (emphasis mine).

Acts 12:20-22 – On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man,” (emphasis mine).

Saul took off his royal robes to prophesy, and Herod put his royal robes on.  Herod didn’t stop the people from worshiping him, and pride made God strike him down.  Saul humbled himself and that allowed him to be used of the Holy Spirit, flawed as he was.  Now, I’m pretty sure that God wasn’t telling me to put on my royal robes and get all prideful.

In the next 2 instances of royal robes (both are accounts of the same story), wicked King Ahab tells Jehoshaphat that he is going into battle in disguise, but instructs Jehoshaphat to wear his royal robes in battle (1 Kings 22:30 & 2 Chronicles 18:29).  Ahab was thinking that the enemy would surely target the man in the royal robes.  But instead of being safe in disguise, a random arrow fatally wounded Ahab, while Jehoshaphat was left untouched.  So Ahab had thought to hide his royalty and be safe.  Earlier in those same chapters, the 2 kings were dressed in their royal robes listening to false prophets prophesy about the upcoming battle against the king of Aram, and even the true prophet had been instructed by the Lord to prophesy falsely, and so entice Ahab to his death in battle.  This was probably what motived Ahab to go into battle disguised.

But what does this story say to me about putting on my royal robes?  I think it says to be true to who I am.

In the next 2 passages, Ezekiel 26:16 (The Message) and Jonah 3:6, the kings take off their royal robes at bad news or in repentance.  Again this is a theme of humbling oneself by removing the royal robes.

But here’s the passage that speaks to me:  Esther 5:1: “On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance,” (emphasis mine).  Esther put on her royal robes to go and intercede on behalf of the Jews—at a very real risk of death.  I believe that what God is telling me is to put on my royal robes (be aware of my position and authority) and intercede for my people.  And who are my people?  My people are the missionaries and pastors I serve here in Europe and the lost people of Europe.

So, there it is, put on your royal robes and intercede for your people—and I will.  God is good!