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HOW TO BE CONTENT & NOW WHERE I BELONG

fonte: freepik

I wrote about this in July of 2019.
It is now June 28, 2021, two years later.
I am back in Portland, after time in Georgia, Brazil, Florida (where Covid-19 caught up with me,) and am now in Bedroom #1 here with Sheryl and Hermilio.


Tuesday eve – almost 9 pm – and still light outside.
The Pacific Northwest is in the grips of a nasty heat wave that is breaking records, and I’m going to attempt to put some thoughts on paper.

Today, all day, I’ve been asking the Lord; “Where do I belong? What am I doing here?” I don’t have an answer..You see, I know one thing: When we walk with God, where He places us is not a mistake “
I’ve been in Portland many times and lived here during different periods.
I didn’t have this restlessness rattling around inside of me. I was at peace, for this is where I was supposed to be.
So – why am I now asking this question? Is there something I’m supposed to be doing and am not doing it? If so, why don’t I know what it is?


Sometimes I laugh at myself. I’m sure that at times people look at me and shake their heads… they are nice about it, but they wonder what is wrong with me? Why can’t I be content and happy here, where I am?
How can I explain so people can understand?
I’ve learned to be content and happy in over 60 different places in this world.

Paul put it like this in his writings:
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. ..” Philippians 4:12
And Paul had plenty of situations!
A highly respected and bright pupil, Paul was taught by the leading rabbis in Jerusalem.
After Jesus was crucified, a living Jesus confronted Paul on the road to Damascus. Paul, who was seeking Christians to throw them in jail and more . . . spends the rest of his life sharing about the importance of Jesus, as others throw him in prison, stone him, malign him.
Here, Paul says he has learned how to be content in the midst of any and ALL situations.
Do I want to be content in all circumstances? Yes, I do!

What should I be doing?
Paul gives me three no-nonsense, practical and inclusive answers.

1

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)
“6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, at the same time, thanking him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

2

Ephesians 5: 15-21
“15. So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly but understand what the Lord wants you to do. 18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy

Spirit, 19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves and making music to the Lord in your hearts.
20 And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

21 And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

3

1 Thessalonians 5:15-22
15 See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people.
16 Always be joyful.
17 Never stop praying.
18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

19 Do not stifle the Holy Spirit.
20 Do not scoff at prophecies, 21 but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good.
22 Stay away from every kind of evil.

This is my list of instructions. I have no excuse for not being content, even though I don’t have answers
I’d better get to work, studying these guidelines once again – and applying them in my life. When I obey Him, He takes care of my emotions.
Thank You, Father! I am where you want me. I trust You, knowing You are putting things in their proper place – including me..

-Voni

GOD AND COFFEE

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Portland,Oregon
I’m sitting at our table in the cozy kitchen nook. Spring sunshine is streaming in the windows as I gaze at our small backyard. I love this little corner of our home. Crazy as it sounds, this is my “retreat”, especially so at this time of the morning.

My three older children left about 15 minutes ago, heading to school. The two youngest are still asleep upstairs and my husband has gone to class, I am actually by myself in a quiet house – at least for a few minutes, and I am happy!

After clearing the table of family breakfast debris, my cup of coffee is ready, as I pop a slice of raisin cinnamon bread into the toaster. My notebook, Bible and commentary are open , taking up most of the table space. I manage to squeeze in a saucer to hold my toast to butter, then some honey and a slice of cheese. Ah! my
breakfast is ready.

I take a bite of that delicious toast, a sip of coffee, then open the commentary for the comments on the next scripture in my study on PRAYER. I read the verse, look it up in the commentary, then write the summation of my own thoughts in the notebook. I’m in the process of going through the New Testament and it is rich! I’m learning so much and , simply by writing down my thoughts, they remain more permanent in my mind.

My coffee and toast are about gone (the coffee got a little cool as I am writing, and I like hot coffee 🙂 I debate about another piece of toast, but hear some noises from upstairs. The smaller children are awakening… I quickly pick up my study material and put it up high enough that little hands can’t reach it. (This time I use the top of the refrigerator).

Wiping my hands on my apron, I run up the steep stairway and start my day, praying as I go. I’m going to need His help: I’m so thankful I can talk to Him. . .I wouldn’t make it without these conversations..

Pray without ceasing … talking to the Lord all day. It is much better than talking to myself!

RAINING IN PORTLAND

(Benjamin Brink/The Oregonian) LC- The Oregonian


Portland, Oregon November A Cold and Rainy Day
Typical of Portland.

It is time to go home. I run to my car, unlocking it, hoping to not get totally wet as I open the door, hop in, dump the books I’m carrying into the front seat and slam the door shut. I want it all to be a fast and fluid motion so I can remain dry; I didn’t quite succeed.

I pull out into the slowly moving traffic. It’s 5:30 pm, the hour when everyone wants to get home. Everything around me is grey. The heavily falling rain creates a curtain that partially hides all so there is no color except that dismal grey.

I begin talking with God about the day: now is a good time for that. I have many things I want to discuss with Him, including Class material for different age groups at the church where I’m the newest staff member: Pastor of Education.. The responsibility is challenging – and I love the work.
However, at the moment, I’m ready to get to my small apartment, turn up the thermostat, get rid of these wet clothes, and get some coffee. Since I live alone, the evening meal is super simple.

As I drive, my mind moves to a city thousands of miles away on a different continent, where I’ve lived the past 20 years. The number of inhabitants is in the millions, rather than the hundreds of thousands in Portland, It rains hard in Belo Horizonte, but it is a warm rain, not cold like in Portland.
I start talking about it with the Lord, asking Him when I will get to go back to that city and the people I love.
I hear a voice. It is rarely I hear it: but when I do, I pay close attention!
“You will return, but you won’t be there permanently.”

I grip the steering wheel and manage to get out of the traffic and over to the curb, where I turn off the ignition, place my arms and head on the steering wheel – and sob.

“Lord, what is left? My husband’s unfaithfulness and his other children by another woman left me with no marriage and empty arms.”

“I thank You for caring for me. You are faithful – and show me Your love in so many ways! I remember how I fell down all those steps at the church, my arms loaded with a box of books, and I wasn’t hurt! That day, I was working late and the building was empty, I was able to get up from the bottom of that stairway, take some deep breaths, gather up all those books, and finish my tasks before going home. I didn’t even have bruises after that fall. (But I still remember how scared and thankful I was when I thought of all the “what if’s “)

“Father – I am going to tuck these words of Yours away in my mind and not be thinking of them. If that is Your will, You will show me when it’s the time and give me the strength I will need.”

I stopped sobbing, wiped my eyes, started the car, and edged into the traffic: doing what I told Him I would do.

Now – it is 2021 – 31 years after that night in Portland, OR.
Once again, I am in Portland. Although I don’t want to, I believe the time has come to pull out those words from long ago, pray about accepting their reality, and learn how to walk in them. Father, I will need Your help!

Voni

BEDROOMS

Bedrooms?  Yes, I Have Four, each one in a different part of the world.

I am sitting in a recliner chair in “ Bedroom #2” with the computer in my lap.  It’s 6:30 in the evening here in Valdosta, GA. where I’ve been living with my daughter, Lanae, and her husband John, ever since I returned from Brazil, almost three months ago. The sun’s last rays are pouring in through the big window beside my chair.  There are a few more boxes filled and setting in different places, waiting to go to the post office. 

I will be leaving my Bedroom #2, one week from today, to go to Bedroom #1.

What’s this thing about bedrooms?  Don’t you have an apartment – or something?

Well, it’s like this.

When Joe and I finally moved to Brazil at the beginning of 2001, we really moved.  We sold our house in Florida and bought an eighth-floor spacious apartment in Natal, RN Brazil. It wasn’t fancy, and we loved it.

 It had two large balconies where we hung hammocks and could just glimpse the Atlantic Ocean. It became “home” to both of us – and many Brazilians who came at all odd hours for coffee and a snack and a visit.  Plus, we had a “home church” in our living room every Sunday. We loved our home and many others loved it also.

After 12 years, because of Joe’s health and need to return to the states, we sold our apartment in Natal, receiving a small apartment as part of the payment.  So, I have a tiny apartment, with a bedroom in Natal.  That is Bedroom #3.

Bedroom #1

My oldest daughter and her family live in the Portland, OR area. 

They also have a bedroom with my name on it, my pictures on the walls.

 Joe went to be with the Lord in February 2017, One month later, I moved to my bedroom in Sheryl’s home

Oh, you want to know about my bedroom #4?

Well, of all things, that bedroom is also in Brazil.  But not in the same city as Bedroom #3.

I have several friends who live in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil.

Three of them wanted me to go to Brasilia and stay with them. I was in Bedroom #1 (Portland, Oregon)and needed to  return to Brazil.  There were some legal things to resolve, besides some teaching commitments.

Four or five times I attempted  to make plane reservations for Brasilia. Always, there was a problem!  Finally, I told the Lord that I was giving up: when HE wanted me to go, for Him to show me.

About a month later, he did just that!  And that time all fell into place and I traveled to Brasilia in Nov 2019, to Bedroom #4.

I’m not going to try to share some of the adventures now – for this is about bedrooms. 😊 But there were several – plus laughter,prayer, and teaching in some of the churches.

Then came the Chinese virus! Brazil moved into lockdown and, because of my age, I could not leave the apartment. but there is a small balcony and we got a hammock up. I was working on my blog and teaching – via phone, whatsapp, Instagram and Facebook – from the apartment End of May 2020, the US blocked Brazilians from going into the US.  That was ok: I am a US Citizen, so no problem for me. However, this meant far fewer flights between the countries. My six children were united in wanting me back in the states.

So I got on one of the last regular flights out of Brazil to Miami, had some time with my son’s family, then came to Valdosta and Bedroom #2 and to today.

I have no words capable of expressing how much I appreciate my children and their spouses, as they work with their mother who has four bedrooms instead of one, and who apparently doesn’t know how to stop in any one of her bedrooms. 😊

But, there is hope. Things are changing in this world, many of them not good. The Lord has me here in the states, and my body is getting tired of planes and travel.  I am learning more about teaching on-line. I have some books I am working on, which require that I stop and study and write.

As I head back to Bedroom #1 in Oregon, I have no idea what the Lord has in mind for me.  But one thing He is teaching me, is to trust Him more.

You may have a house and a couple of bedrooms, or who knows in what puzzle the Lord has placed you?  The important thing for each one of us is to trust Him. I may not know what He is doing?  I don’t have to know.

Proverbs 3:5-6  NIV

New International Version

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart

    and lean not on your own understanding;

6 in all your ways submit to him,

    and he will make your paths straight.”

This is my goal.  When I do this, the rest will fall into place, including all of the bedrooms! -Voni –

– Voni-

A STORY THAT IS REALITY – PART 6

BIBLE STUDY – NOVO FRIBURGO, RJ NOVEMBER

It’s six pm – and the night sky is lowered  over the mountains of Novo Friburgo .  I still get surprised by the lack of twilight.

Outside it is definitely getting COLD… and as people come into our small house, they shed their warm coats, hats – even mittens.  Most of these young people came by the city transit system, and had to walk a couple of blocks after getting out of the bus.
The fire in the fireplace helps the warmth level – and the body heat helps even more.

The table  is pushed back in a corner with a red and white plaid tablecloth, and piled with  coffee, hot milk, sugar, fresh French bread, goiabada jam (guava in English) plus finger foods brought by some, small plastic plates, coffee cups, and plastic spoons.  Those already there are working on the food and coffee, the ones coming in shed their jackets and head for the table.
The sound level is gradually increasing from greetings (which include lots of hugs), and excited comments about our Bible Study subject for tonight: Demons – their power and manifestations in our lives.  After last night, this is a hot subject.

The food is about gone and everyone finds places to sit (including on the tile floor – which is uncomfortably cold). So jackets and folded blankets hit the floor to sit on.

Each one brings out their Bibles, some have pen and paper to take notes.
Time to start.  I’m not attempting here to write everything down, but I will cover the main points.

Since there is so much to cover in these subjects, I will give a brief review, and if you have questions, please ask them.
I certainly don’t have all the theological answers. I only know what I’ve experienced and learned. You do NOT have to agree with me. In fact, I would love to learn from others.

1/ What are demons and why or how do they have power?

1/ What are demons and why or how do they have power?
    Fallen angels following Satan.
    The world is physical and spiritual.
    Satan was one of the most important angels. He and his followers still have spiritual power that can overflow into our physical world.

God did not create the devil as we know him.

God didn’t create Satan to be evil, as we now know him to be. There are several different lines of thought about this: we will discuss two of them

The first line of thought is based upon the first few verses of Genesis.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless  and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the water”(Genesis 1:1-3) This line of thought believes that “darkness was over the face of the deep” means that there had been a horrendous war in the heavens that spilled over onto the earth, destroying God’s previous creation of the earth. Satan rebelled against God, wanting to take God’s place, and God expulsed Satan from heaven along with the 1/3 of the angels who were his followers.

The other line of thought of those verses is that when God created the world, He examined and then declared that each step of the creation was good (Genesis 1:31). This signifies that there was no evil on the earth.  However, in chapter 3 of Genesis we discover that Satan, in the form of a serpent, tempted Eve to sin..This indicates that at some time in the timeline between Genesis 1:1 and the third chapter of Genesis, there must have been a rebellion of the angels, with one third of them turning against God and following Satan.

Lucifer’s fall from Heaven

The Bible gives us this information about the devil before his fall and after he became proud and rebelled against God.

  1. Named Lucifer, which means “star of the morning”
  2. Held a high-ranking position in the angelic host
  3. Had exquisite beauty and great wisdom
  4. Given a position of great power and influence
  5. Called “the guardian cherub”

“You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God…You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings” (Ezekiel 28:12–17 NIV).

Cherubim are depicted in Scripture as powerful and majestic angelic creatures who surround God’s throne. And Lucifer had once been a guardian cherub. Since Lucifer had been the model of perfection, what sort of sin led to his fall? His heart became proud because of his incredible beauty. Lucifer allowed his perfection to be the cause of his corruption.

God’s judgment on Lucifer

Lucifer was not satisfied with worshipping God; instead, he wanted to be worshipped. Once a beautiful, powerful angel of God, he lost his former, exalted position in Heaven.

“How you are fallen from Heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into Heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit” (Isaiah 14:12–15).

Lucifer (“star of the morning”) became Satan (“accuser”) when he fell to the earth. Jesus, speaking of this event, said, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from Heaven” (Luke 10:18).

Lucifer’s followers

When Satan fell, he did not fall alone. Scripture tells us that he took one-third of the angels (see Revelation 12:4). Considering that the angelic host numbers more than 10,000 x 10,000 (see Revelation 5:11), that is a sizable group. They account for the fallen angels, or demons, that now do his bidding. As a result, Satan is a fallen, but powerful, spirit-being with a well-organized network of demon powers to help him accomplish his purposes. Those purposes, according to Jesus, are to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10).

That’s the bad news. The good news is that two-thirds of the angels are on our side! As the prophet Elisha said to his servant, “Don’t be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (2 Kings 6:16).

(Much of the above organization of info re:  Lucifer, I found on Harvest.org )

These rebellious angels are now called demons. They are followers of Satan
and obey his commands.  They have more power than humans, but because of Jesus Christ conquering Satan on the cross, the balance of power over the world that Adam threw away to Satan, was taken from Satan and given to Christ.  Therefore, Christ’s name and His blood have more power than the demons.                

PART TWO of THE BIBLE STUDY.
Demons Power vs Christ’s Power

2/ Where do we get power to confront and/or overcome demons/evil spirits?

As Christians, we have an even greater asset than the majority of angels on our side: He is Jesus Christ!
“Now it is God Himself Who has anointed us. And He is constantly strengthening both you and us in union with Christ. He knows we are his since he has also stamped his seal of love over our hearts and has given us the Holy Spirit like an engagement ring is given to a bride – a down payment of the blessings to come!”
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 Passion Translation

Look at these verses.
“God always makes His grace visible in Christ, who includes us as partners of His endless triumph. Through our yielded lives He spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere we go. We have become the unmistakable aroma of the victory of the Anointed One to God – a perfume of life to those being saved and the odor of death to those who are perishing. The unbelievers smell a deadly stench that leads to death, but believers smell the life-giving aroma that leads to abundant life.”
2 Corinthians 2:14-16…Passion Translation

Satan is angered when we return God’s love and walk with Him, honoring Him. Satan’s goal is to destroy us. He can’t destroy God, but he CAN hurt and destroy those whom God loves.

Is it any surprise if people turn against us – for we carry a deadly stench.
Or the opposite:
Have you ever met someone (e.g. a clerk at a store), began a conversation, and feel drawn to them? Then “take the plunge” and in words the Holy Spirit shows you to use, you ask them if they personally know God? For they have the perfume of life.


How does that apply to the demon world?

I do NOT go out looking for people with demons that need to be cast out. Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior – and it is Him on whom I concentrate.
However, without my knowledge, my perfume of life may affront a demon in someone, causing it to manifest itself in a reaction to the Holy Spirit in me – for, to the demon, I have a deadly stench.
When they manifest themselves, they may create a scene, attempt to hurt the person who has the demon(s) in his/her body, or hurt me. I can remember illustrations of each of these in my own experiences.


Some are humorous, others are NOT.
E.G.
A woman from the back of a large church comes running and screaming onto the stage where we are sitting. She grabs a large flagpole (those things are heavy!) and starts swinging it over her head. Problem: as she swings that pole it comes close to hitting our heads: we are all having to duck her weapon. It took several men to grab her and her swinging pole, then go backstage and cast out the demons – there were quite a few.


I remember the story of the sons of Sceva. It wasn’t funny for them, but every time I read it I either smile or chuckle.

The Sons of Sceva
“11 And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. 13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 16 And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all[d] of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.


17 And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. 18 Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. 19 And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver.
The result? 20 So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.”

Just remember this:
You, as a disciple of Jesus Christ, have the Holy Spirit within you.
There is GREAT POWER in the name of Jesus Christ and GREAT POWER in His blood to command evil spirits to leave.


I command them to leave by the power of Jesus Christ’s name and the power of His blood. However, this is not to play games. We are in a spiritual war here, and we need to KNOW Who is our King and have a close relationship with Him, for He gives us His authority. And it is wise to put on
The Whole Armor of God”


“10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we[a] are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.
Ephesians 6:10-18 New Living Translation (NLT)

There is still more to study. However, it is time to quit for now.

Time for one more question?

3) Can demons enter into Christian’s bodies?

A good question – and one that requires more study on my part.
Most people say no. They can oppress us, cause us to feel weight and heaviness, etc. But they cannot actually enter into our bodies and minds.
However, I’ve had to cast out evil spirits who were manifesting from some whom I thought were Christians. Which means they had opened up their defense in some way – perhaps lack of forgiveness which leads to bitterness and creates cracks in our spiritual armor -there are many ways this can happen. Final statement for tonight.
Look to our Lord! Learn more and more of Him.
Let the Holy Spirit transform us from glory to glory. (Love that verse!)
“We are being transfigured into his very image as we move from one brighter level of glory to another. And this glorious transfiguration comes from the Lord, Who is the Spirit.


2 Corinthians 3:18 b Passion Translation

And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
2 Corinthians 3:18 b NLT

A challenged and quieter group of young people prayed together, put on their coats to head out into the cold.
We all have much to think about… and know we’ll be having more conversations.

The fire needs more wood as we get ready for bed. It is COLD outside and will become cold inside, as the fire dies down.
Thanking God for this evening. We ALL learned

*** Parte deste estudo foi revisto de acordo com estudos sobre Lucifer, disponíveis em: Harvest.org

A STORY THAT IS REALITY – part 5

It is  a beautiful sunny day in the mountains… the air crisp and sweaters feel good. I had worked through last night’s bedlam in my mind, talking it out with the Lord, and am looking forward to tonight’s Bible Study. I know it will be a good one, that it will challenge Cal and I as the young people will pepper us with questions.

I need to go to the store and buy plenty of French bread, and guava, and a few other things. As I leave the store, on an impulse, I decide to stop and visit an older Christian couple that we all love. They used to be spiritualists, but began following the Lord about ten years ago.  Maybe they could give me some added perspective on what happened last night… and some hot coffee would taste good.

I wasn’t disappointed. We have a good conversation, along with some good coffee. As I begin thinking of leaving, Dona Maria Helena stops me; she has a book she wants me to see.  I sit back down.

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The title of the book in Portuguese is “Methods Satan Uses.” I start to leaf through it. It is well-written and illustrated. Some of the methods you may recognize.  Alcoholism. Drugs. Break-up of Homes. Dishonesty. Different Formats of Spiritism. I was concerned, for all were very well illustrated but there was no mention of Christ and how He breaks people free.

On the section of the book that taught about spiritism, there was an illustration of a medium using ectoplasm from her own body to create the body of another person: a very dangerous process for if the link between the two bodies breaks down, the medium dies.  This was something that Dona Maria Helena had done when she, herself, was a medium. I became concerned, for I sensed she was drawn to the book.  I commented on this, and she said she was just fine. She wanted to show me the book, for a friend had given it to her, and she wanted me to see it.

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I thank her, take the last sip of coffee in my cup, and stand, holding out my hands to Maria Helena and her husband, João, so we could pray together before I leave. 

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I close my eyes as João starts to pray, , , but my eyes fly open as I feel a violent movement on my left. Maria Helena has dropped both of our hands, and hers are curled like claws towards me. 

I don’t move, for I sense that  if I move she will rake me with those nails. As I look at her, I hear a deep guttural voice growling at me and that voice is coming from her mouth!

“Get out of this house – NOW! We do NOT want you here!  You don’t belong!”

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João begins praying, verbally and quietly. I do also.  Neither one of us moved. The only distraction is their cute, little dog running into the living room out of curiosity, looks up at Maria Helena, tucks his tail between his legs and runs out of the room as fast as he can. (I still smile when I remember that.)

The three of us continue standing, João and I praying, and casting out the evil spirits. The power of the blood of Jesus and the power of His name causes the evil spirits to flee.

I watched Maria Helena as her physiognomy changed in front of my eyes.

The stiffness of her body relaxed, her hands dropped, and she began weeping.  Her husband and I stood with our arms around her.

She understood what had happened. I hurt for her as she wept.

In a few minutes, she stirred, then walked over to the coffee table and gave me that book, asking me to get rid of it. I took it and agreed.

After a few more hugs and tears, I leave; in awe at what had happened and what God had done.

What did I do with that book?

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When I get to the house, I carry everything in, then go to the fireplace and rip the book apart, using it for part of the kindling to start the evening fire,

as the colder air was creeping into the house.

I stand in front of the fire getting warm as I watch the pages of that book turn into ashes.  No one else will read it, to be influenced by evil!  I turn, go get a sweater, then go to the kitchen and start cutting the bread for supper.

All the while, thanking God for His mercy and His power.

PS – We had a fun and challenging Bible study that evening. Each one of us learned.

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A STORY THAT IS REALITY – Part 4

Demons Manifesting – God Is Teaching Me

Novo Friburgo, RJ

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My years living in Brazil have taught me much – and there is more to learn.

Cal and I and our three youngest children are living in this city in some of the mountains that thrust themselves to the heights near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

It is winter – and COLD at night.

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(Just to give you an idea, we can see our breath when we first get up; until wood is placed on the small fireplace to take the chill out of the house.)

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The small house we are renting has three bedrooms and two small bathrooms with electric showers – the more slowly one runs the water, the warmer the water is. Of course, if one runs the water too slowly, the electric shower quits working – and all you get is COLD WATER.  It’s a delicate task to maintain water at a livable temperature: which means one seldom succeeds.

Our two daughters sleep together with five or six blankets piled on top of them, our son sleeps in warm clothes plus many blankets, Cal and I have an electric blanket with one heavy blanket on top of it – and consider ourselves RICH!

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Most of you would think we were crazy to be thankful for this house – but there is a lot of laughter here, with many young people traipsing through.  Supper is usually after dark, with a good fire going so the house is warm, I learned how to make guava jam… that with fresh French bread, coffee and hot milk, and fresh lemonade made with the blender, 10 or 12 young people crowded around a small table…we could eat a LOT!

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A few weeks earlier, four of these youths had come and knocked on our door to ask if we would be willing to teach them Bible lessons.  Would we ever!
We began — now the group was growing and would soon grow too large to meet in our house.  But we weren’t there yet . . .

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Tonight, after we ate, we headed towards an apartment house of one of the girls to have a Bible Study in their building’s “social room.”
There were 20 or 25 there… It was a great time. 

Before leaving, we all formed a circle, holding hands, so we could pray.

The girl to my right (Elenor) who took my hand was the girl who had invited us to come here. We gave each other big smiles as we clasped our hands.

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One of the boys started the prayer – when suddenly –  bedlam!

It happened so fast, it took me a minute to grasp what was happening.

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The girl that had been holding my hand, was thrown to the floor and was writhing and screaming. All of the young people were praying at the top of their lungs and jostling each other, trying to put their hands on the girl. The noise and confusion was mind-boggling.

I couldn’t even hear my own voice.
I remember wondering what the people in the apartment building were thinking about the noise and racket coming from downstairs.
And I thought, “when Jesus cast out evil spirits, I don’t think this is the way He did this!”

I was able to work my way through the bodies and touch Eleanor. I started praying with a quiet voice, casting the spirits out of her. The noise level went down (that girl could really scream as the demons manifested), somehow Cal got those young people to start to pray quietly.

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I helped Eleanor get up, then hugged her.  All who were there, also came up and hugged her.  I explained a little bit of what had happened to her, and she told me she’d been attending spiritualist meetings. (That explained it all to me.)

Cal and I prayed with her one more time before she went up to her apartment. Everyone went home a little shaken, some not really understanding what had happened.

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(The following night, in our little house, we had a lot of teaching to do, explaining with our Bibles open, as we worked through the events of the night before. And why we could no longer return to the apartments social area.

However, before we met together that night, God allowed me to have an even clearer lesson I have never forgotten.

-voni

A Story that Is Real – Part. 3

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When I got out of bed this morning, I had no idea that God was going to make it an unforgettable day.

Cal dropped me off close to the American school where I teach  the 5th and 6th grades.  The school is in a former home that had been converted to handle the classes.  There are probably no more than 100 students for all the grades.  I enjoy the teaching.

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As I walk towards the school, the warmth of the sun on my back and the spots of shade from the trees feel wonderful  The sidewalk is wide – but broken in places, so one must be careful to watch where you step.
I walk slowly – for I’m arguing with God as I try to understand.

This is what had happened.
Maria Vitoria is a young woman I loved.  She was  an exchange student in Portland, OR, when we lived there, was in our home constantly, although we weren’t her official “parents.”

Her real home was in Belo Horizonte where we now lived, and we grew to love her parents and older sister.   Much of my learning about Brazil was in their home.  The family was Catholic/Spiritist and from the Alan Kadec branch of spiritism. They made me feel welcome whenever I was there, for they all spoke English. Their home became kind of a refuge for me – a place of “safety” .

About a month ago, Maria Vitoria had a nasty fall on a sidewalk, badly scraping her legs and knees.  Even after several visits to the doctors, her legs refused to heal.  A couple of days previously, she went to a spiritualist gathering and the medium healed her legs, immediately.  She was thrilled and telling all of her friends what had happened.

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I was thinking about this as I walked… and I am upset with God.

“Father, what is going on!  I know that Jesus healed people when He walked here on the earth, and I’ve read stories where people said they were healed these days. However, I was taught that the days of miracles and healing ended when all the apostles died.

But look at this!  Maria Vitoria was healed by a spiritualist medium. I believe her.  I know she is truthful and doesn’t exaggerate, and there is no possibility of misunderstanding her English. This really happened!

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How do I fit this into what I have believed is true?
Do the spiritualist mediums have more power than You?
No, I know that is not true. You are God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit!  You are God, Three in One.
All powerful. Omnipotent. King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
There is NO ONE OR THING more powerful than You!”

I am almost in tears. I do not understand! Quietly a calmness comes as a new thought breaks into my mind.
No, Satan and his spirits have no strength over God. But if they can sow seeds of doubt in my mind, they win.

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There is only one solution I can see.
God has the most power.
Therefore, He has more power to heal than any spirit
I was taught that miracles and evil spirits do not exist today.
That teaching was wrong!

God has ALL power. Satan used  man (Adam) to break the promises God had given to mankind. This  caused Satan to become Lord of this earth, instead of man.
A
man – without sin – had to die to restore that contract.
Jesus did just that.
He created a new contract and bought my freedom, destroying the divide between God and I  that Satan had created.
                                                                                    

Lord God, I  am beginning to have a new concept about everything!
I thank You for Your Holy Spirit, Who is showing this to me!  I need You to teach me how to win spiritual battles

Today we live in a world and a  spiritual battle field surrounds us.
I better open my eyes and see!!!.

I go up the stairs to the school, greeting the students and other teachers.
No one realizes that my concepts of life were totally altered by my conversation with God as I walked in the freshness of a morning in Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil

As I look back to that day, I am aware that I also didn’t understand its significance, nor how God would continue to teach me until even today.

When a dear brother in Christ from Sri Lanka shared what he has learned about spiritual warfare, I perceived how the battles in the spiritual world are spilling over into our physical world, and today, it is time for me to start sharing. These battles will become more fierce, and we need to know what weapons God has given us with which to fight, and how to use them.     

– Voni-

A Story

A Story that Is True. 

This is how it began. . . 

A baby girl born in Ontario, Oregon, a small community set in the midst of farms and ranches, on August 28, 1932. 
Name? Vondelae Eldred (no middle name – and people always asked me why. Yes, there was a reason) 

A very brief history here: 
My brother was born in 1934. 
In 1935, Dad sold his part of the ranch to his brother, and we moved to Bellingham, Washington, close to the Canadian border. Dad started a fuel business (at that time the fuel was coal). 
My earliest memory was when I was three, and talked Dad into letting me dry the dishes he was washing. (Mom was taking care of my brother.) Dad pulled a chair up beside him, helped me climb and stand on it, and gave me a towel to dry the dishes. I was one very proud little girl – and Dad hid his nervousness well, as he kept a close eye on me. 

The memories come rolling in. 
Me sipping some of Mom’s perfume after stern instructions not to touch it – so, of course, I did – to my sorrow. 

The ice truck driving down the alley and me running out to tell the driver how much ice we needed for our ‘ice cooler” that used huge chunks of ice to keep the food cold (before the days of electric refrigerators) and the mess it was to get rid of the ice water and put in new chunks of ice., (the kitchen floor always received a thorough mopping afterward. I loved the confusion – Mom hated it. For her, the worst part was it had to be done every couple of days.) 

Me poking holes in a box of avocados to see if they were ripe (I still love avocados). 
And more memories – some funny, some embarrassing. 

When I was five we moved to a small farm near Bellingham. Dad loved the land, and always found a way to work with it, wherever we lived. He added another truck and Eldred Fuel became a part of Bellingham businesses. More memories 😊 

Mom and Dad loved God, each other, and my brother and I… in that order. I was secure in that love, and loved them, God and my brother (some of the time). We had the normal sibling disagreements – but Dad did not allow fisticuffs. And he taught us about the heartbreaks of angry words. With time and experience, I learned the value of those teachings. 

I talked to God all the time, about everything – and still do. Jesus was involved in those conversations, also – but I did not know much about the Holy Spirit, other than He was also part of the Trinity. 

I understood the value of water baptism – and was baptized when I was eleven. 

Now I am going to skip years of memories – I will only say that it was a different world than the one we know now. 
But God was not different. He was always God and present in my life. 

However . . . I did not know the Holy Spirit. 
but I was about to! … 

 
In the summer of 1967, our family (Cal Hall, myself, and our five children – ages 15 to two) moved by a Japanese freighter to Brazil. We were part of a large group (in 1968, 68 people) who moved to work together to share the Good News about Jesus Christ in Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil. 
The group began forming in 1962, representing years of work and learning, and was called Operation ’68. 

We were as prepared as we could be – but I had no idea of some of the now indelibly printed adventures in my mind that were waiting for me, including moving next door to an active spiritualist family. That is when God began a process of deeper teaching. 

I’ll share some more about that in the next post 

-voni 

THANKING GOD -AT ALL TIMES !

Tonight I am feeling pensive. Memories passing in front of my inner eyes. Do you know what I mean?

An old swimming pool in Contagem, MG. Moss is growing between some of the stones… but Sr Jose keeps the water clean so family and friends can cool off on those hot days w/o wind. Some mango trees are growing close to the edge of the pool, so we can pick them and eat. Then we jump back into the water to get rid of the juice that has dripped all over us.:)

—————-

The house we built on top of a mountain above Belo Horizonte, MG. It was a miracle, for we had no money coming from the states… only what we earned through teaching English. An absolute impossibility for us, but not for God!

The laundry room was on the basement level … once a week I gathered up all the linens and dirty clothes, separated them in piles on the cement floor (many piles), filled the washing machine with cold water, added some Omo Laundry Soap, threw in the first pile of clothes, filled the laundry tubs with water, and began. I often thought of all the times I helped my mom wash clothes in the basement of Mom and Dad’s home in the US., using the same type of washing machine! So many years ago!

Washing machine, wringer, first laundry tub for rinsing, then wringer to second laundry tub to rinse again, wringer to clothes basket. It was automatic from throwing in the clothes until they were washed and rinsed and in the basket to go hang them up. ..It was like a dance. My hands and body following the steps and my mind talking to God – a lot! I discovered it was a great time to work things out in my conversations with Him.

One memory that stands out: A thunderstorm rolled in and surrounded us, with all the noise and lightning. I just had the last basket of clothes to hang up… and I rushed to get that done.

The rest of the basement area had only an unfinished cement floor, and the wall to the outside was open to the weather, with bricks creating an “inside/outside” feeling. For the clothesline, we’d had to use wire extended rather than clothesline cords- for the latter didn’t exist in our locale.

I ran out of the laundry room with that clothes basket and hastily started using the last clothespins to hang wet clothes onto that wire line – NOT smart! A few times I felt my body tingle as lightning arched across the sky. Many hours of tiring work – and it was done until the next week.

Only later, when I thought of those “tingles” did I realize what a blessing it was that I was wearing sturdy tennis shoes that had sufficient rubber to break my contact with the ground – AND a loving Father Who protected me!

Countless times He has protected you and I: many times without us realizing it when it happened. Then, with a backward look, we see – and are full of thanks! When I recognize those times I am in awe and thank Him again, every time I look at that memory.

How about you? Have you stopped to thank God in all your circumstances? Have you looked and see all those times He has blessed and protected?

-voni-

“16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18