Strategies for spiritual boredom.

The following is a blog entry posted on 43:10.

Recently, I felt bored and stressed.  Nothing extraordinary you might say, but I was bored and stressed in conversation with God.  Talking with God; the almighty, the creator of the universe, the all-glorious and all-beautiful one; I was bored and stressed.

To me, one of the most convincing arguments for the reality of an accessible God is His intervention in human consciousness through prayer.  Famously, agricultural scientist George Washington Carver (1864-1943) asked God for ‘the mystery of a peanut’, and subsequently derived over 300 different patents from this unassuming beer accompaniment.  Prayer is very real.  At the centre of my faith is a God who is limitlessly powerful and consistently unpredictable, whose words and ideas are thrilling to the human spirit. To me, spiritual boredom is unacceptable; it is obtuse, unbelieving and even stupid.  And yet, there I was.

In the midst of this place of boredom and stress, God spoke to me like He sometimes does, by showing me an image in my mind’s eye.  I saw myself like a little child kneeling over something I was holding in my hands and I was clearly frustrated by it, like it was a toy I was trying to fix, and I saw my Father standing over me wanting to help me but He couldn’t seem to get my attention while I was so engrossed in my own task.  I realised that the object I was holding in my hands was prayer itself.  God was showing me that I was trying to do prayer with my own agenda and my own understanding of what the results should be.  My eyes were fixed down when they should have been looking up to my Father. I had missed the vision of heaven. God wanted to talk to me about cities and nations while I was fixated with a comparatively petty prayer list of practical concerns for the following weeks and months.

Much of the Christian Church is in this position.  ‘Strategy’, ‘model’ and ‘agenda’ have become Christian buzzwords that make us feel professional, but increasingly seem to betray a heart that is departing from the Lord.  We have become very good at ideas, but I’m not sure how much we are truly growing in the heart of God.  Jesus said it would be those who ‘abide’ in Him who would bear much fruit.  But are our goals His goals, and is our vision His vision?  Are they even becoming more united?  Too often it seems that the goals of Christian organizations and churches are about increasing ‘web hits’ and ‘likes’ on a facebook page, rather than the transformation of culture by the Word of God; the salvation of souls and renewing of minds.  The calling of a Christian was never to be ‘liked’.  We are called into fellowship with Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:9)

While we are counting how many likes, shares and comments were achieved on our social media feeds in the last week, and how many heads there were in our Sunday services, 37.5 million babies were aborted globally so far in the past year alone.  There are 36 million trafficked in an exploding global slave trade. The number of displaced persons has reached around 60 million.  The USA, still the world’s most prominent ‘Christian nation’, ranks among the the top ten ‘most divorced’ nations with a rate of 53% of marriages (the UK is not far behind with 47%, and 6 of the other top ten nations are from western Europe).  Over 200 million Christians around the world are denied fundamental human rights because of their faith according to the World Evangelical Alliance, and 322 Christians are killed for their faith every month (Open Doors).  Israel, God’s chosen nation through whom He communicated all of the scripture and whom He has restored to their land as promised repeatedly in the Prophets, is reviled and mocked globally and is condemned by the UNHRC more times than all other nations combined including North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Burma, Libya, Syria etc… etc…  According to Psalm 149, God’s people are called to ‘execute judgement’ in the place of prayer and praise.  Matthew 18:18 says that we are given authority in prayer to bind everything that disagrees with heaven.  In Luke 18:6-8, Jesus promises that God will ‘speedily’ answer those who cry out to Him for justice.

So seriously, there are bigger fish to fry.

When Jesus, the commander of heaven’s armies, met Joshua on the plain of Jericho, He did not come to hear Joshua’s plan to conquer the city.  He came to give Joshua His strategy for victory.

And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?” So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” (Joshua 5:13-14, NKJV)

Jesus’ strategy was bizarre.  He says to Joshua (paraphrase…), ‘I want you to walk round Jericho once every day for six days, then the next day I want you to walk around it 7 times and afterwards get the priests to blow trumpets.’  Jesus’ plan sounds crazy, but obedience in fellowship with Him releases supernatural power to break down the strongholds of the enemy.  The walls of Jericho fell down flat.

It is much easier for us to create comfortable human strategies than to walk in fellowship with Jesus, but it is so much more boring and exhausting.  If Joshua had been offended by Jesus’ strategy for victory, the alternative would probably have been a very protracted and potentially costly process of siege warfare.  God had a miraculous solution available, if Joshua was willing to walk in fellowship with Him.  God doesn’t want us to go through the pain of our own plans and strategies!  He wants to release miraculous solutions to us in our jobs, relationships and in building His kingdom but these strategies will never come from human intelligence and are often offensive. [Emphasis by editor]

In a very similar instruction, but a very different need, in 2 Kings 5 God asked Naaman the Syrian through the prophet Elisha to wash in the Jordan river 7 times for his healing.  Naaman became offended at God’s plan.  He didn’t want to wash in an Israeli river.  He thought that the Syrian rivers should be good enough for him.  But that wasn’t what God said, and he wouldn’t have been healed if he had washed in a Syrian river.

God already has a strategy for global revival at which a large proportion of the body of Christ are offended because it involves the nation of Israel, and politics has clouded a lot of vision on the subject.  Like Naaman, they do not accept Israel’s strategic place in God’s purposes, even though His Word is absolutely clear.  Romans 11:11 states that a core purpose of the gospel coming to the gentiles was in order to provoke Israel to jealousy for their own Messiah.  A remarkable statement and an element of God’s global purpose that is completely ignored by large sections of the Body of Christ, and sidelined by others.

There are now endless ‘mission strategies’ available in Christian media.  There are new methods of outreach produced on seemingly a daily basis and yet God says He wants to bring ‘life from the dead’ for the whole world (or global revival) through the Israel’s acceptance of their own Messiah (Romans 11:15).  God’s response to the cry of His Church for global revival is Isaiah 62:

I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem;
They shall never hold their peace day or night.
You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent,
And give Him no rest till He establishes
And till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth. (Isaiah 62:6-7, NKJV)

God is calling out for watchmen who will embrace His purposes for the world, and agree with His agenda and His strategy.  He is looking for men and women who will lay down their lives in the place of prayer and allow Him to move through their lives in remarkable and supernatural ways.  He longs to find men and women who will embrace His heart for the nations, no matter how offensive it is to them personally.  He longs for those who will let His priorities become theirs, so much so that they become the burning cry of their hearts, day and night.

It is a mystery, and it looks like foolishness, but God has chosen to release healing to the world through an Israeli river!  God is going to set up His throne in Jerusalem and a river is going to flow out from His throne that will turn bitter waters into sweet.  Trees will grow on the banks of that river that will be for the ‘healing of the nations’ (Revelation 22:2).  Israel is not the only element in God’s plan for global revival, but it is a central element in His ultimate divine solution and the Church will witness a supernatural revival in its prayer life and a dramatic increase in fruitfulness when it embraces its role in intercession over Jerusalem and Israel.

As you read this, I pray that a fire might be kindled in your heart to let God draw you into an encounter with the Commander of the heaven’s armies, and that you might find divine strategies for your life and for nations as you walk in fellowship with Him.

 

He provides, His grace sustains.

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior”
– ‘Oceans’ by Hillsong

There is a saying to describe a Russian man, and that is that ‘He cannot do without problems, and even when there are none, he’ll do his best to make some.’ I found it very true in my life to be always searching for new challenges. So this summer I packed my backpack again and hit the road with no money and with just some food to survive for a couple days. In this way I’m collecting experiences of how God provides and what His way of dealing is in times of peril.

2014-08-13 23.16.31 2014-08-14 13.27.16      

This trip began with me having quite a struggle on the idea of taking my younger brother along with me. In my opinion he was not yet ready to dive into such an adventure. We eventually got all organized and he took some money along with him, which was a good thing because it helped us to have more food on the road. My peanut butter was enough for me, but bread was a thing that would vanish quickly.

We hitchhiked all the way to the Serbian boundary, and I was hoping to go through without my passport but I had to find out that it was not possible. So be went hitchhiking back through the countryside of Hungary, meanwhile I was trying to make new plans of where to go because the main mission was to go to Bulgaria and have some driving lessons over there. I prayed that God would close doors and open those that where possible to realize in this trip, and that actually happened because all the people of Help Exchange turned down my requests of staying at their place and work for a few days. Same thing with the people from Couchsurfing, so I had to trust God in providing places to stay.

So after a few days of camping outside it was getting too much for my brother and he decided to go home. We still managed to visit the Balaton lake in Hungary and after that we went back through Vienna. In that time we did not had any money left anymore and I prayed for the Lord to specifically provide about thirty euros in order for me to survive until I got my salary the next week, because my brother would leave to go home by himself.

When we reached Vienna two people (Gunther and Oscar) had brought us to a youth hostel and bought a place to sleep for us, which was a great blessing to both of us. We could see the city at night and have a good talk with each other while doing so. The most interesting part to me is that they also gave me exactly thirty euros! This was a very strong encouragement for me to continue my travel and collect more of such experiences.

20140824_121454P1070950

So while in Vienna, the next day my mission was to visit a church (it was Sunday already) and afterwards to guide my brother to get his first ride back home to the Netherlands. After the first service of that church which is called the ‘International Christian Fellowship’ I met a young lady named Lisa and she could host me for two days! That night I slept at her place and the next day I went into Vienna to prepare for my next trip on the day following. That night we had a Bible study and I was with Thomas, another man staying there, in the middle of about 10 sisters. After the study we prayed for Thomas because he had a ministry of a psychotherapist and also one of the sisters got healed after praying for her back. It was a great evening and one of them also blessed me with some money to go on.

The next day I left to Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia, which really is a beautiful country with wonderful mountains and forests. Maybe on some occasion in the future I will go back there. While in Ljubljana I could stay at a friend’s place and meet with Clemen, a man who wrote a book with my testimony in it. The book’s name is ‘Life without enthusiasm is like sex without orgasm.’ It was a nice experience to meet that writer because he loves to talk about different philosophic themes and we had some great time talking with each other.

2014-08-25 18.57.092014-08-26 17.46.58

So after spending time in that beautiful city I choose to go to Italy, with no plans or without any particular reason to visit somebody. After a very long hitchhiking trip, wherein on some occasions I was waiting for about six hours on gas stations, I managed to come into Rome. I was quite nervous because I had booked no hostel, neither knew any people who lived in the city. The day turned into night very quickly and after having a long conversation with God, reading psalms and almost being robbed by lurking immigrants from Syria, my prayers were answered when I met a man on the streets whose name was Murat and who came from Morocco. He invited me over to sleep at his place and I could spend my night in a warm house on a soft mattress!

The following day I visited a church service in the evening, it was Saturday and there again I could find somebody at whose place I could spend some nights. This brother whose name is Maxwell inspired me very much because of his testimony, and I could spend some nice time talking with him and we eventually got together with a group of his friends to evangelise that Sunday. It was a great time with a lot to think about, and of course a beautiful city, nature and weather all the time to praise God for!

After Rome I hitchhiked to a small touristic city in Italy to visit the sea, it was beautiful and I met Andy there, a Baptist who experienced much of Gods favor in getting a job. It was encouraging to hear his testimony and have a talk with him. The hitchhiking itself was great, it was super warm and almost no cars on the roads so I had to prove my patience and perseverance once again. Meanwhile I could meet dozens of wonderful people.

2014-08-24 19.32.23

While passing through Switzerland on my way back home a man named Bean invited me to sleep at his place. I found it funny that he already called his wife Verona before asking me if I wanted to and they settled with the fact that I would come. It was funny that there was a storm that night so if I would sleep in my tent I probably could have a hard time, so God was merciful and showed me His great protection and care! Also, I had a chance to evangelize to Mark, the son of that man who seemed to me like he was struggling in pursuing his dreams.

On my way back I also met a couple who were Pentecostals and I had a very good prayer time with them, it was super encouraging to meet them and I hope of doing so once again someday before going to heaven! When I almost reached home, a Dutch couple dropped me off at the train station on my own request. I felt led that I needed to continue hitchhiking, but because I thought of having my student card with me, I could take the train instead and it would be for free anyway. After reaching for my wallet to check-in, I found out of having not taken my student card with me and that was a moment of great discouragement and a awful moment of dealing with my own stupidity. So with that experience as the last one I could end my little adventure by acknowledging God’s grace and wisdom higher than my ability to obey and accomplish.

20140825_193254

When I started the trip I asked the Lord to reveal me more of what His grace is, and to learn me thoroughly just to believe and receive that grace. There are a lot of things which happened and made me look differently at myself, my life, and others as well. When hitchhiking I get to show much interest in the lives of others and this gives me a boost in having an altruistic attitude towards the people I meet and in my conversations with them. I have learned very much from this two-week adventure through Europe, and it made me stronger to face a new set of troubles in the next year of study in Almere! All for the Glory of God who hears and answers our requests and provides for all our needs in His wonderful and unique way!

“Without faith it is impossible to please God.” – Hebrews 11

A step towards the north

ImageOn 5 March in the year 2013 I left Kempten, a small city in the southern parts of Germany (Also called: the Bavarian area). After serving there as a youth group leader, organizing some activities like treasure hunting, whereby the group listens to what the Spirit of God says to our hearts, it was time for me to continue my journey.
After saying goodbye to all the new good friends in Kempten I started to hitchhike towards Essen, to visit another friend whom I met a couple months ago in the south of France, doing mission work (mostly supernatural healing through the laying on of hands.)

The first driver who picked me up was a man who was very interested in listening to me while I was telling him about Jesus Christ. This man was just about to study theology because he wanted to obtain a deeper understanding of the life he lives. His name is Robert and eventually he dropped me off in Frankfurt, I prayed and blessed him, and he gave me 100 euros to support my journey! Praise God! It was perfectly in time, because I was running out of money.

In just a couple hours I could arrive at my friends place. He lives in Gelsenkirchen (a city next to Essen). We talked about our various adventures, and shared stories and encouraged each other in faith by telling how awesome God works in our lives! I stayed with him for two nights, and in order to ride out of that urban city area, I asked a driver on a rideshare website if he could take me to Hannover!

It all went very fluently as I continued to hitchhike to Stockholm, the capital of Sweden. Through the HelpX website, I could arrange a place there to do volunteer work. This I did in order to be able to live there for a while. HelpX offers different places all around the world where travelers like me can do volunteer work in exchange for food and accommodation. Why Stockholm? Well, when I was in Kempten I contacted a pastor from a certain international church (ICC) and he had opportunity for me to serve in Paris or in Stockholm. I don’t like Paris, so I went to Stockholm 😉

The hitchhiking was a bit harder than I thought when I came to Denmark, and in the middle of this country I stranded on a quite abandoned gas station. – But God turned it for good! There I met Filip, who also is a christian and I loved to talk with him about all kinds of things; preachers, missions, science, and much more. It was encouraging, but the problem was that he was heading the wrong way, not on my path at all, that made me worried because it was late already. When we came to the city he lived in (Aarhus), he brought me to the train station and bought a train ticket to Copenhagen! That train ticket had a worth of about 50 euro! So we blessed each other and I went to Copenhagen, there I walked a while through the city and eventually decided to take the train to Malmo, a city on the Swedish coast.

On the train I met someone who was studying Hydrology, and he knew people who had the authority over the Swedish tap-water filtering facilities, so I shared about the new thing I just found about the Black Mica filtering method. I found this appointment as I call it very inspiring, for he had traveled a lot in his life also!

When I came in Malmo, the friend in the train provided me with some information about the salvation army, in order to sleep there. So I went to the salvation army, but it appeared to be closed already, for it was very late. But suddenly I heard a voice behind me asking me if I was looking for a place to sleep, and when I turned around I saw a man with a bike, his appearance winked the idea that he had slept in the salvation army for years. He asked me if he could show me the way, I said yes and that was the first time I hitchhiked a bike. It was a very weird experience, him, me, and my backpack on one old and shaky bicycle! So he managed to drop me off at some place where I could get a completely free room to sleep in, and in the morning I had a wonderful breakfast along with a couple other immigrants and troubled souls. And after I had eaten the breakfast I was heading towards the entrance, and I saw a man sitting and he was hurting badly in his arm. I asked If I could pray for his arm, he allowed me and so I prayed and commanded the arm to restore and fill up with Gods life. After the prayer I talked a bit about the gospel and he eventually said to me: ‘You know, I’m very surprised, all pain is gone!’ A woman who was working there saw it and I saw that she saw it and I knew that this was the moment to ask for some food (I had none), so she gave me a couple sandwiches! That morning I was tested on my patience, because it was quite difficult to hitchhike out of this city. While I was waiting and a bit frustrated, two girls joined me in waiting for a car, and of course, a car stopped and we could hitchhike together to Stockholm. We talked about a couple things, but we didn’t get along with each other very well (probably because of my frustrated condition). It was cold outside and it was super hard to find someone who was heading towards Stockholm.

That night I came in Linkoping, and again I had nowhere to sleep! This time I kept walking through the city and it seemed like I was going to sleep outside (it was very cold). I started to pray and ask God why didn’t he give me someone this time! I came to the bus station and some of the last buses were about to leave. I stood there and got into a conversation with someone who had trouble speaking English (He was from Syria), when another man joined I started to tell them both about Jesus and what I was doing there in their city. Then one of them asked me if I had a place to sleep that night, I said I had not and he invited me over to his home. It turned out that I slept in the home of the other man that night, God works in strange ways!

That morning I got a straight ride to Stockholm and there I met with Gerard, who is a scientist-architect, he has a project called ‘equilibrium’, which is a method to build super cheap eco-villages made out of houses of ETFE plates. Nice idea, and I will store that one in my archive 😉 So until this moment that I write this post, I worked at Gerards place, 8 hours a day, mostly doing spakling and sanding.

I found a very nice church in Stockholm, the New Life charismatic Baptist church, which is very active in missions and it has an effective deliverance ministry!

Praise the Lord for his Grace and Mercy!

Humble beginnings

It was the 24th of August when I left Holland, hitchhiking together with a sister from church. After my pastor gave me to stay in his home for a week or so, to look after the cat, I was ready to start my big journey.

The week at the pastors home was a little bit boring, because everyone was working and I did not have much to do. That week Johan, a brother from church came to have a barbeque together, along with some other people from church. It was a nice barbeque, my mom and her friend joined us also. It would been nice if my brother came also, but he was more interested in staying home.

Some days later my companion sister Margareth (she is a strong believer who had more experience in living by faith at that time) came and she slept over, our plan was to leave the next morning. That night a friend came, with whom I often went on the Amsterdam markets to evangelize and heal people from various diseases. His wife came also, she was pregnant and it was great news for me to hear that! God bless them! They both prayed and layed hands on me to bless my journey, and for protection, we had a talk after that and they left. I went to sleep, excited about the following day.

Morning came, we had breakfast and left the house. We walked to the on-ramp, and started hitchhiking. (I had a camera to film the trip, I filmed the first part of my journey, but then I got a bit lazy, it is hard for me to upload the material because I keep moving from place to place.) We were blessed and in just a few minutes a young woman picked us up, we evangelized to her and she was interested!

We eventually came to a truck stop, around lunchtime. There we sat down, prayed and had lunch (Peanut butter, crackers and Raisins!). Next to the place we had lunch on this sunny day, sat a man with the name Hans, waiting in his car. Margereth eventually decided to go and talk about Jesus with him. Hans was interested and after I joined and we layed hands, he was healed of his back pain and we prayed for his eyes also, “a little bit better” he said after we were done.. well, God bless him! It was encouraging to heal somebody and after a long talk we continued our journey to France.

That night we slept in Liege, in a motel, for 40 euros and breakfast included – Margereth insisted on sleeping there because a tent was too trampy for her. I payed and because I just started this whole faith trip, worries about money came into my mind. When I look back to the way I was worrying, I feel ashamed.

This first day was a very nice hitchhiking day, and I felt very comforted after we prayed and went to sleep, not knowing what kind of adventures would follow in the next couple months.

Here I am, send me!

I’ve finally got my school results I need to be sure if I can go hitchhiking this year! My grades are okay, and I won’t need to worry for the next year about my education! Although I still need to be back in the Netherlands by May next year, to do exams to finish my English class. Then I will be able to swap my results for a “Higher General Secondary Education” license paper. I will be able to start my final study then!

So until May 2013 I have plenty of time to travel the world, meet new people, proclaim the wonderful gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God! By Gods grace I will meditate on scripture, share encouraging testimonies with the world through my Blog and Youtube, and grow amazingly in my trust and knowledge of God. Our Lord will protect me, and I’m more than sure that He will provide me with everything I need! I am so thankful that He gave me a nice HD video camera to make videos of healing miracles, interviews of people I meet, and to record myself while explaining some facts and revelation on the Christian walk! I really hope that the fruit I produce will be an encouragement to all who follow my progress!

Counting the cost

It has been a long time ago that I decided to hitchhike, and since then it’s hard for me to extinguish the lust to travel in foreign countries. God gave me answers on my prayers and revealed me a lot about the Way. It has been a year ago that I started to hitchhike and since then my understanding of scripture grew amazingly. The Bible now has more authority in my life and I get more and more insight on how to properly desire the Word of God in my life. I’m learning to be contend in all situations and to live my whole life in thankfulness to God. He gave His Son so that we may trust in Him and abide in His Love.

At the moment I need to know if I’m graduated, just one more day and I know if I can go traveling next season. I need to change some of my motivations though, that is my prayer for now. It’s not good to start my journey with the wrong intentions, I need to have the zeal to share the amazing gospel and to somehow help others. – and not to just waste my time visiting monuments and museums.  I’m very convinced that this trip will make my faith grow and I definitely will heal a lot of people on the way. For the Kingdom of God is for those who earnestly seek it! I do not worry about material aspects of the journey, God will provide in everything I need. He did it on each trip I went so far!

The things I leave behind make me trouble a little bit. I’m not sure if it’s Gods will to leave my family though my faith is an encouragement for them, still my mother will be worrying about me when I’m gone. That may be a good thing because she will bend more to God I suppose. Another thing is that I will need to find a way to store all my possessions, it won’t be that hard considering the fact that I have not much to leave behind anyway.

I’ve checked for more information on where and how to travel, and I came to these nice websites/organisations:

  • Help Exchange
    It’s a nice thing to help others, and that completely fits my plan! I like the fact that they offer a place to sleep and food to eat for the exchange of my help. It will bring me to more experience in working and connecting to different people.
  • WWOOF 
    This group gives people the opportunity to life on organic farms for a while. It’s more secure and administrative than Help Exchange but offers a nice play to stay. I’m not sure if I will apply to their offers, because it makes me dependent on their schemes and rules.

But for now I will wait for the study results I receive tomorrow and then I’ll be sure about this plan to hitchhike the world 🙂