Can we change God’s mind?

changing Gods mind-flattenedI had just written the post about “Weeping for Saul” and I thought how that some people might not like what I said there. They could think I’m against really holding on for someone in prayer. There are times for that, certainly. If prayer doesn’t work, why pray?

One time, God became so fed up with the rebellious children of Israel in the wilderness that he told Moses, “I have seen this people and it is a stiff-necked people. Now leave Me alone, so that My wrath may become hot against them and so I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation.” (Exodus 32:9 & 10)

So did Moses say, “OK, God. Whatever.”?

No, he didn’t do that. Here’s what the Bible says that Moses prayed to God: “Why does Your wrath become hot against Your people whom You have brought forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘He brought them out, to kill them in the mountains’? Turn from Your fierce wrath, and be moved to pity. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore, ‘I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give to your seed.” (Exodus 32:11-13 )

Moses interceded and pled for mercy for those rebellious legions he’d led out of Egypt. And then it says, “So the Lord changed his mind about the calamity he had said he would bring on his people.” (Exodus 32:14 )

Moses pled for his people and the Lord changed His mind. And at length Moses’ successor, Joshua, led the younger generation of Israelites to conquer the land of Israel.There are certainly times where effectual, fervent prayer has been the catalyst for miraculous change and has moved the hand of God.

So why wasn’t that God’s highest and best when Samuel was calling out to God for the rebellious King Saul? It must be like the verse I John 5:14 which says, “If we ask any thing according to His will, he hears us.” (I John 5:14)

In the situation with Saul, God saw that Saul was never repentant, never really getting his heart right with God and he never did. God sees the hearts more than any of us can and He saw that it just wasn’t in Saul’s heart to get right with Him. And so God told Samuel to move on.

But what about you? Are you holding on in prayer for someone? A loved one, a child a situation? Should you do that? Does it seem like I am saying you shouldn’t do that?

You could ask yourself, has your spiritual life with the Lord come to a halt because of what you’re praying about? Is what you’re praying for causing you to not be able to move on to something else the Lord is saying you should be moving towards?

Jesus Himself even prayed a prayer that didn’t get answered. He said, “Father, if it be Your will, let this cup pass from Me. Nevertheless, not My will, but Your will be done.” (Matthew 26:39)not my will-flattened

That’s the secret I suppose. Are we still yielded to God? Have we ceased obeying and following the Lord, doing His highest and best, because something we’ve been praying for has not been answered? That’s what Samuel was tempted with. Would he stubbornly refuse to obey God because the Lord had seen that Saul was no longer going to follow Him?

Has some loved ones’ rebellion towards God caused you to become rebellious as well? We sure have times where the Lord really wants us to hold on in prayer for some people or situations, no doubt about that. But if it causes us to stubbornly refuse to continue to follow the Lord and the live the truth He’s shown us because He didn’t do what we thought He should, then that’s a serious mistake. And sadly a number of people do  that.

Like the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace told Nebuchadnezzar, “Our God can deliver us and He will. But if He doesn’t, we still are not going to bow down to your idol!” (Daniel 3:18) Lord help us for that to be our heart cry. “God, I know you can answer this prayer. But if you don’t, I’m not going to stop believing and obeying you. If you tell me to move on into something else, by your grace I’ll do that.

We just need to keep our connection with the Lord strong. If He’s leading you to keep praying for some situation or person, like Samuel said, “God forbid that I should sin in ceasing to pray for you.” (I Samuel 12:23) But if God is telling you to move on in some new way, then we need to obey in that and leave those concerns and the burdens of our heart with Him.

“He knows, He loves, He cares,

nothing His truth can dim.

He gives the best to those

who leave the choice with Him.”

Well, it’s Christmas

BethlehemEverybody’s different. Paul said in the Bible, “One man esteems one day above the other, another esteems every day alike.” (Romans 14:5)  I guess I’m like the second group there when it comes to holidays. But also there’s just something about Christmas, or at least there should be. In many parts of the world, it’s the most revered holiday of the year. And of course if you’re a Christian, you know it’s supposed to be the celebration of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.

For probably I can say “literally billions of people”, the story of the birth of Jesus is known to them through the Christmas carols and all the hoopla that goes on each year in late December. Or early January if you are of the Orthodox branch of Christianity.

But I guess I’m hoping to be more than informational here in this post. Being a Christian and/or a believer in the God of Abraham is more (or should be more) than information and knowledge. It’s supposed to be something that goes to your very soul and essence of your being, changing it radically and totally.

Like God said in Ezekiel, “A new heart I will give you and a new spirit I will put within you. I will take the stony heart out of you, and I will give you a heart of flesh.”tin man (Ezekiel 36:26) I can certainly say with all my soul that this is what happened to me. I was like “the tin man” in the movie,  “The Wizard of Oz.” I just felt like I didn’t really have a heart. Or if I did, it didn’t really work very well at all.

That’s why when I came to the Lord and I was told that I needed to love the Lord and tell Him I loved Him, I just told Him that I felt like I hardly even knew what love was. I believed in Him. But He would have to teach me how to love Him or actually love anybody for that matter. Over the years I think I can say that He has heard that prayer and gradually given me more of a heart that can love Him and others.

This may not be the kind of Christmas message you’ve heard very often and maybe it’s not even the kind of Christmas message someone is supposed to share. But, sadly, often Christmas has been a pretty rough time for me. For one, just being really honest, it seems to happen with me that the enemy of God seems to especially want to act up around this time of the year.

Some of the most dangerous situations I’ve ever been in happened right at Christmas and it even involved other Christians. The darkness just hates the light and it seems the enemy of God brings depression, anger, and whatever else he can get a hold of to try to break into the camp of the saints and into their hearts at Christmas time, even more than at other times. Maybe you’ve never experienced that or maybe you have. But I have repeatedly and it’s made me a little wary of Christmas time.

On the other hand, I think that if I can steer myself around that particular danger and make an effort to make Christmas a time of personal  devotion and a time of specially drawing near to the Lord, I’ve found that it can be a really wonderful time.

Like it is for many people, the songs of Christmas, Christmas carols that really sing about Jesus have been a special thing for me all my life, even when I wasn’t a Christian. I’ve heard a number of friends of mine say the same thing about a certain Christmas song, that it’s not only their favorite Christmas song, it’s their favorite song of all.

But I’m speaking about the song, “Oh Holy Night”. It is just one of the most stirring, soul-quickening songs I’ve ever heard, probably the most so of any song. I suppose if you aren’t a Christian, it might not speak to you. But if you are, it’s just like a national anthem of heaven, or something like that. For me each Christmas, whether I’m with my family or not, whether I’m with Christians or not, the high point of Christmas is hearing and singing this song. I’ll add it in here.

I hope you can singing it from the bottom of your heart and be moved, touched and thankful for that holy night when our dear Jesus was born. Without Him we can do nothing good and be nothing but lost and hopeless souls.

I’ve had a really pretty good year and I hope you have too. It is such a thrill how I’ve been in connect with so many this year, friends new and old, both here in the U.S. and literally all over the world. I know the darkness rages against us all so much. So it’s always a thrill to hear of all of you how are keeping the faith and continuing to stay on the Wall of His will wherever you are. I love you very much. I pray you have a great Christmas and a blessed coming year for Him. Thank God for the Holy Night which has made our wonderful lives possible. With love, your friend, Mark

Weeping for Saul

mourn for Saul-flattenedIs it ever wrong to pray? The Bible says, “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17), so it would seem you could just about say that it’s never wrong to pray. But there are examples in the Bible where men of God were praying and the Lord told them that what they were praying for was not really His best at that time.

And this is really important. We need to not only pray, we need to be in tune with the way God is leading, the way He sees things. One of the greatest examples of this is when the prophet Samuel had been informed by God that King Saul had turned away from God and that He was going to replace Saul with another king.

King-Saul

King Saul with Samuel

Saul had started out as a Godly king, specifically chosen by God to be anointed by the high priest Samuel.  But eventually it seems it all went to his head. He ceased to obey the commandments and leadings from God which He gave through the prophet and priest, Samuel.

At length God told Samuel, “I regret that I made Saul king, because he has turned away from following me and has not carried out my commands.” (I Samuel 15:11) And what was Samuel’s reaction to this? The rest of that verse goes on to say, “It grieved Samuel and he cried unto the Lord all night.

OK, we can understand this, can’t we? Samuel cared a lot about Saul, he was rooting for him, he wanted him to make it and to pull out of the dive he was in. Samuel was doing what he felt was right, really desperately crying out to the Lord for Him to work and to change Saul’s heart. It seems to be the right thing to do.

But, even after this, Saul continued to go from bad to worse. At one point it sounds like he nearly got physical with Samuel when Samuel was telling him that his rebellion against God was “as the sin of witchcraft.” (I Samuel 15:23) And still, even after all that, “Samuel mourned for Saul.” (I Samuel 15:23)

But then, this happened. And the Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go. I will send you to Jesse of Bethlehem. For I have seen a king for Me among his sons.” (I Samuel 15:23)

Uh-oh. Was that a little reproof from the Lord towards Samuel? Was God moved in this situation by Samuel’s prayers for Saul? Doesn’t sound like it. Basically the Lord was telling Samuel, “Son, it’s time to move on. You need to get up and get over this and go forward with the way I’m leading. The future is moving another direction. I’ve provided a new king among the sons of Jesse.

Did Samuel stomp his foot and refuse to obey God? No. Thankfully he had enough of the wisdom and grace of God to take this admonition from God and to get moving in the new direction God was leading. And you could say, “But didn’t God respect Samuel’s prayer and his broken heart for Saul? Doesn’t the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much?’” (James 5:16)

In this case (and probably in a number of other cases) God just sees that to continue to “mourn for Saul” is a dead-end street. Saul had hardened his heart towards God and had really turned away so much from following the Lord that it was a waste of time for Samuel to keep trying to revive and bring to repentance a man who’d just really turned away, as Saul had.

What if Samuel had gotten bitter, angry and felt that what God was doing was wrong and that he wasn’t going to go along with it? Does that ever happen to any of us? Are any of us, “mourning for Saul” instead of “filing our horns with oil and going”? Sadly, I think this is a real temptation for many people. Some never stop “mourning for Saul”, some loved one, some situation, some wonderful time or place in their lives that’s just no longer there. God has called them to move on, to go forward, leaving the sad disappointments behind as they go towards the new thing the Lord is leading them into.

moving onIt’s a real heart wrenching experience, as it probably was for Samuel. I’ve been through it a few times and maybe you have too. But if we don’t stop mourning for things that will never be the same again and instead “fill our horn with oil”, that is to be filled with the Holy Spirit, to be filled with the wisdom, freshness and current leading of the Lord, then we’ll be doomed to stay stuck back in the past. We’ll be holding on to our Sauls, to people, places and things that no longer are God’s highest and best.

To me, this verse has always been a sober warning. Things change. People change and not always for the best. If we’re to truly follow God, we may have experiences like Samuel. The Lord may ask us how long we’re going to hold on to something that’s turned to rebellion against God and His will.

It’s a difficult experience. But if Samuel had not obeyed, God could not have used him to move on to anoint King David, Israel’s best loved and most remembered monarch. May God help us all to leave our Sauls behind if that’s what God is calling us to do and to follow Him into the future He knows is best.

God Is Light

God is LightI was 21 years old in Houston, Texas.  It was a cold day in early February and I’d hitchhiked there to try to find some “Jesus People” I’d read about in the newspaper. The article said they believed in God and in Jesus and in the Old Testament and the New Testament.

I’d believed in God for several months but I just couldn’t figure out who Jesus was. I’d read all the way through the Bible and I could see that Jesus was really important but I just couldn’t figure it out. I’d gone to some churches but no one really talked to me and it just didn’t seem to have any reality to it, although I knew they taught and believed the Bible.

I found those young Christians and they asked me, “Are you going to heaven?” I told them, “Well, if my good is more than my bad, I’ll go to heaven. But if my bad is more than my good, I won’t.

They didn’t agree. They showed me, “For by grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8 & 9). And they just kept showing me verses from the Bible. I’d never had anyone do that before and they knew them well. They showed me this one, “But as many as received Him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (John 1:12)

Actually they were showing me a lot of Bible verses and I didn’t understand them all. But I could see they were really full of them and they had a strength and convictionRevelation 3-20 I sure didn’t have, even though most of them were younger than me. Another verse that I did understand was Revelation 3:20 which is where Jesus said, “Behold I stand at the door and knock. [they told me that was the door to my heart] If any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come into him…

Towards the evening, while they were having a Bible study, the conviction of the Lord just came upon me so strongly and I raised my hand and told them right then that I wanted to ask Jesus to come into my heart. So I went out into the middle of the room and they prayed with me to receive Jesus.

Were there lightenings, thunders and a great earthquake when that happened? No. I’d already had quite a lot of experiences that had helped to prepare me for even being able to get to the place where I could receive the Lord. So it was sort of a quiet (new) birth for me right then.

However, I still didn’t really know who Jesus was. I stayed with these folks for a few days and maybe two days later I asked one of them, “But who is Jesus?” So they showed me the famous passage from John chapter 1 and that really, really changed my life.

John 1:1 says this, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” And then the 14th verse says, “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

And they said, “That’s who Jesus is. He is the Word. He was with God in heaven and He came to earth, died for us, rose from the dead and will return some day.

The impact this had on me was virtually indescribably. I’d had no idea of this or at least it had never dawned on me at all before that. I guess you could say that I said in my heart right then, “There are two of Them! God isn’t up there by Himself. Jesus is there with God and was there before and will always be!

desperate prayer-flattenedImmediately I excused myself and went quickly to an empty room to pray. Desperately. I prayed about as desperately as I ever have, pouring out my heart to, not only God, but to Jesus this time, for the first time. I don’t know how long I prayed but, back in those days, my life was in such shambles that I seemed to have to pray like that somewhat often.

At the end, when I sort of “came back down”, after I’d felt like I’d come before the throne of God and of Jesus, I found that I was surrounded by my friends there who’d been praying for me as I prayed.

And then one of them shared a verse with me that has always stuck with me. “This then is the record which we have heard of God and declare unto you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” (I John 1:5)

God is light. No darkness. I had in my past known so much darkness in so many forms. But now I’d come to the light. There was so, so much that still needed to be washed and cleansed from my mind and even heart. But I had been brought to, and had found, the Light. It’s like the verse that sums up the salvation experience that millions have had, “Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated up into the Kingdom of His dear Son, in whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13 & 14)

“Judge Righteous Judgment”

judging righteously-flattenedThe first Bible verse I ever memorized was John 7:24, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” Boy, I needed that verse. I had come to believe in God in the previous few months, after very nearly dying and not going to heaven. So I knew from experienced that God was real. And I knew that the Devil was real. But I hadn’t at that time become a Christian as I just didn’t know who Jesus was. But I began to read the Bible vociferously because I knew it was the book that told about the God I’d come to find was real.

I’d been so horribly misjudging so many things at that time. I think that’s the reason that God put that verse into my mind and heart right then because I really needed to look at things differently and judge things differently. But when you think about it, the whole idea of judgment is not a real popular concept nowadays, whether you’re a believer or not.

When they think of judgment, so many Christians immediately remember what Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged”. (Matthew 7:1) And so they get the idea that we’re to just sort of acquiesce and go along with almost anything since, “We aren’t to judge.” Hmm. And then the atheists and agnostics often feel that there’s no right or wrong anyway, no good or bad, no truth. So “judgment” just becomes almost a bad word.

Judge righteous Judgment-flattenedIs that really how it should be? Don’t we all make judgments all the time?  Every decision you make is in some ways a judgment, based on your values, your information, your ethics and your interests. So actually we’re all making judgments and we have to.

Jesus said plainly in that verse He put into my heart that we’re to “judge righteous judgment”.  But what is “righteous”? Here the believer and the unbeliever may go different directions. A believer will know that righteousness is found in God and the unbeliever hardly even believes in any kind of righteousness since “Who are we to judge?”

But the Bible often says that we are to judge, not in a self-righteous way but in a Godly way, on His foundation, with His eyes of mercy and truth. Paul told the Corinthians, “Do you not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Don’t you know that we shall judge angels? How much more the things that pertain to this life.” (I Corinthians 6: 2 & 3)

Jesus even said of Himself, “My judgment is just; because I don’t seek My own will, but the will of the Father which has sent Me.” (John 5:30) Maybe that’s a secret or key. If we are not seeking our own will or way but are seeking God’s way and His best, then our views and judgments can be more aligned with God’s love and justice. That way, our judgment on maters big or small will be moving towards the “righteous judgment” He wants us to have.

dont deserve this-flattenedJames, “the Lord’s brother” (Galatians 1:19), had some important things to say about this. “So speak and so do as those who shall be judged by the law of liberty. For He shall have judgment without mercy to those who’ve shown no mercy. And mercy rejoices against judgment,” (James 2: 12 &13). Merciful judgment. It all comes back to a loving God, a loving Savior, a pleading, interceding Holy Spirit, all moving in us to be wise and merciful in our judgments, whether they be tiny daily decisions or our most major “affairs of this life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

Jesus reproved the Pharisees because they were so busy with tiny details like tithing their spices and had “omitted the weightier matters of the law: judgment, mercy and faith,” (Matthew 23:23) We are called on to judge righteous judgment, judgment with mercy, led by God’s wisdom and Word. And like Paul said in that verse above, it’s even going to be a part of our job in the world to come. So Lord help us all to judge righteous judgment, to be basing all we do on His foundation of truth and love and to be learning now in this lifetime to see things through His eyes, so we’ll make the best decisions and to be examples to others of His loving justice and judgment.

Conviction or Condemnation

Conviction or Condemnation-flattenedThe difference between conviction and condemnation was something I struggled with a lot as a young Christian. It seems to be something that’s not often touched on or even understood by many Christians. But for me, learning the difference between conviction and condemnation was a battle that I had to win if I was to grow in my Christian life.

Simply put, God convicts us of specific sins or weaknesses, giving us hope that if we bring it to Him, He can and will forgive us and heal us. On the other hand, it’s the Devil that condemns us, saying that we’re just generally bad and hopeless. It’s been understanding the difference between these two that has been an essential part of my being able to get to grips with some of the sins, failures and shortcomings of my life and to also recognize when the voice of Satan is trying to bring hopelessness to me in some matter.

Is what I’m saying here according to God’s Word? In John chapter 8, the Pharisees brought a woman to Jesus who’d been caught in adultery. They called upon Jesus to agree to the writings of the Jewish law that she should be stoned to death. But Jesus said to them, “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.” And the next verse says, “When they heard it, they went out being convicted by their own conscience”. (John 8:9) Jesus’ words brought conviction.

Condemnation-flattenedHow about the Devil’s words? In Revelation 12:9 the Devil is called “the accuser of the saints”. The devil is like the prosecuting attorney in a courtroom, constantly bringing our sins before ourselves and God, calling for our condemnation and judgment.

But there’s another kind of condemnation and one that’s perhaps even more subtle. The apostle John wrote, “If our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart and knows all things.” (I John 3:20) Some people have a lot of trouble with that. Their heart condemns them in several ways. For one, since we are all sinners (Romans 3:23), then without the rebirth through salvation in Jesus, each of our hearts overcomes us through one sin or the other.

Heart condemns-flattenedSometimes though, even if you’re saved, your own heart may have the habit or tendency to condemn you. It’s like negative thinking. A verse that helped me on this one time was “He that justifies the wicked and he that condemns the just, both of these are an abomination to the Lord.” (Proverbs 17:15) You can get to thinking, “Oh I’m really humble because I’m always so down on myself”. But it’s not the way the Lord wants us to be in the spirit. For us to condemn ourselves is actually an abomination to God, according to that verse, just as much as if we were justifying the wicked,

Maybe the most famous verse about condemnation is, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which be in Christ Jesus…” (Romans 8:1) But in some ways, it’s a thin line to walk. On one side, we don’t want to “fall into the condemnation of the devil” (I Timothy 3:6). God forbid. But that sure doesn’t mean in any way that we want to harden our hearts against the gentle chiding voice of the Holy Spirit which “will reprove the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment”.

Hearing from GodIt comes down to which voice you are learning to listen to. We don’t want to be in tune with “the accuser of the saints” or our own heart that can condemn us. But we do want to have a clean conscience that can help to be a guidance to us. And even more than that, we want to have a clear channel to the voice of the Lord Who will convict us and lead us in the paths we are to walk in.

Someone said one time that it’s like a chain with a weak link. We’re that chain and we all have weak links, sins, and weakness, areas that we need to change and grow in. The Lord takes a look at the chain, probably sees a number of weak links and He points out the one that He wants to work on. He points to one weak link and says, “That one right there, give that one to me and I’ll fix it.” But then the Devil comes along and says, “Oh my God, that is a bad chain! It’s bad! It needs to be totally thrown away!

That’s the difference between conviction and condemnation. One is specific, doable and brings hope for change and improvement if there is repentance. The other is general, totally negative and also hopeless. God help us all to know the difference between condemnation and conviction and to learn to recognize the Lord’s voice of conviction that brings change, hope and progress. “For Godly sorrow works repentance to salvation, not to be repented of. But the sorrow of the world works death.” (II Corinthians 7:10)

Alexander the Great comes to Jerusalem

I’ve been able to complete the first of the supplementary videos to Daniel chapter 8, a seven minute video about Alexander the Great’s visit to Jerusalem which you can see below.

Gabriel tells Daniel of the coming Empire of Greece and Alexander, “the first king”.

Gabriel tells Daniel of the coming Empire of Greece and Alexander, “the first king”.

This is just an amazing story and probably very few people know that this ever happened. Of course very few people know that the coming of Alexander the Great and the Grecian Empire were specifically revealed to the prophet Daniel by the angel Gabriel in Daniel chapter 8, 200 years before it happened. To me that’s one of the clearest and most emphatic prophetic fulfillments that you can find in history.

Alexander enters Jerusalem, 332 BC

Alexander enters Jerusalem, 332 BC

But then it turns out that there is this historical account by one of the most well known and respected historians of ancient times, Flavius Josephus, which tells of Alexander actually coming to Jerusalem during his conquests of the Middle East in 332 BC. He was escorted into the city and shown the prophecy of Daniel about him from 200 years before. And to add to all this, Alexander told his own troops at that time that he’d seen, in a vision years before, the high priest of the Jews and a voice had told him that he should quickly move towards the Persians because he would be victorious.

To me, it’s just incredible. And it’s a shame that this has virtually never been made known to the millions who wonder and have an interest in prophetic things. Since this video is short, I won’t add much here. But I just hope you’ll view and enjoy this as one of the more amazing events in the history of prophecy.

God’s Little Miracles: Palaces & “Signs Following”

I believe in miracles. I don’t only believe in them, I’ve had a few happen to me over the years. palaces and signs following-flattenedOne of them, in Budapest, Hungary 22 years ago, was very precious, very personal and very amazing. I’ll need to give you a little background to set the stage so that you can see how it was so amazing.

I went through a heartbreaking marriage breakup back in the 80’s. My wife and I had been missionaries based in Vienna, Austria for 5 years, with the goal of reaching what then were the Communist countries in eastern and central Europe. But our breakup meant that we needed to leave that part of the world which I loved and felt called to.

During those months right after the breakup in 1984, I had an amazing dream. I dreamed that I was in a large house full of joy and laughter, also full of young east European people who were happy and full of faith in God. And I remembered that the place in my dream was on or near the Hungarian-Czechoslovakian border. It was an amazing, happy dream. But I just tucked it away as being something encouraging but certainly not something that could ever really happen.

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest, Hungary

Then through a series of events and the road of life that the Lord often leads us on, it happened that around 5 years later I was able to return to central Europe in the immediate aftermath of the collapse of Communism in 1989. I moved to Budapest, Hungary with several of my children and was overjoyed to be able to again be back where I felt the Lord had called me to.

Northern Hungary

Northern Hungary

It ended up that I was looking to find a large house in the Budapest area to be a mission station for the extensive missionary work going on in Eastern Europe at that time. My translator and I found an amazing place but I personally thought it was just way more than we could afford with the budget we were working with. But then in negotiations with the owner of the place, it turned out that they trusted us with their property more than other people who were also interested and could pay more. We were able to agree to a rental fee which, although not cheap, was an incredibly good deal for that property.north of Budapest (And, yes, as you may have guessed, this was north of Budapest, up near the Czechoslovakian border, just as I’d dreamed of years before.)

But here’s the little miracle part, or perhaps I should say the icing on the cake. There came a fateful day in June of 1991 when we were handed the keys to the place and spent our first night there.

A Hungarian “panzio”, a pension or hotel

A Hungarian “panzio”, a pension or hotel

It was actually not a house but what is called a “panzio”, kind of like a little pension or very small hotel in a village.

So four of us were there for the first night in what was a pretty big place. We decided to have a time of devotion and prayer as some of us had some devotional material with us. Here’s part of what the first passage we read for that day said,

God has promised us palaces and cities and the cattle on a thousand hills. So if you find the right place, claim it for the Lord and march around it, like Joshua’s people did with Jericho when they conquered the Promised Land.”

We were blown away! “If we find the right place”. Wow! That’s exactly what had happened and we’d just moved in that day! What a confirmation!

But then there was more. We read the second devotional book for that day. Its opening statement was from an obscure verse in Haggai which says, “The glory of the later house shall be greater than the glory of the former house.” (Haggai 2:9) We were speechless! A second confirmation, also talking about houses, promising a greater time than what we were already experiencing! We took all this as a powerful sign that the Lord was going to do mighty things.

And He did. The work that went on there, and in the generally area of central and Eastern Europe over the next few years, was some of the most fruitful and inspiring that I’ve every experience in my 40 years of missionary work.

That wave has now passed and those times have come and gone in a sense. But that time was an amazing fulfillment of the hopes and needs of the many millions of people who’d lived under Godless regimes in those lands for many decades and who finally were able to hear the gospel and to come to know the truths of God.

For me, that happy dream I’d had in my discouragement in 1984 was sent by God as a promise of wonderful times to come. And it even had a specific literal fulfillment some 7 years later in a house near the Hungarian-Slovak border, full of joyful east Europeans, exactly as I’d seen in my dream. It reminds me of the last verse in the book of Mark. “They went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming His Word with signs following.” (Mark 16:20)