NOTE: the following is long. It is a story of one of God’s surprises. It is told so that He gets the glory (the credit).
God is the most amazing multi-tasker I know. He keeps me in a constant state of delighted giggles and prostrated awe. When we seek to listen for the Lord’s instructions throughout our days and follow them, He invariably sets up God-appointments.
Our Lord as singular Creator and King of the Universe, who loves all and desires to reconcile every person to Himself through Jesus is always multi-tasking with us and for us as the many varied parts of His Body. We are the beneficiaries. As His always beloved children, He delights to give us gifts precisely when we need them. He blesses us so we can be blessings to one another!
I am spending several unplanned weeks quietly at home. My voice remains weak and as yet unrecovered from the recent surgery on my neck to eradicate thyroid cancer. Being in an environment where lots of verbal communication is required is not constructive for me right now. And so I am spending the days quietly at home working on silent-but-productive projects and spending many hours with the Lord worshiping in thought, studying the Word and communicating back and forth with Him in prayer as I regain daily on physical strength and wait on vocal recuperation.
Late Monday afternoon September 8th, I knew I had to get to the Dublin post office before it closed. There was an order for “Ascend in Worship” CDs which needing to be shipped. Actually the shipment did not have to go out Monday. It could have waited another day. And yet there was an undeniable inner nudge from who I know to be the Holy Spirit, compelling me to do whatever was necessary to ensure I reached the post office before 5pm. Over the years, I have learned to obey any inner urgency which comes like this, especially if it isn’t necessarily logical, but comes with a profound and inexplicable sense of inner peace.
It was already 4pm. Only one hour left. I printed off the packing slip and gathered the CDs into the waiting padded envelope. My husband arrived home and wanted to talk for a few minutes, which we gladly did. Now it was 4:30pm. My interior alarm was going off—not panicked in any way, but incessant. Time to go. Time to go. Time to go. I put the stamps on my package and set out for the post office.
Actually I had an agenda beyond the post office. One of my friends and prayer partners, Cindy, lives just a few blocks from the post office and I had a little gift I wanted to drop off for her and another woman, Chasity, for whom I have been in prayer recently. On the front seat of the car along with the package to be mailed were the items to drop at Cindy’s. I still needed to write the notes to go along with the little gifts.
This is what was on my mind as I parked at the post office, grabbed my package off the seat and proceeded to head toward the front door. Usually I am paying attention to the other people coming and going, but not this time. I was looking at the ground, praying for energy to keep walking strongly (for my body is not yet fully recovered from surgery) and asking the Lord what exactly He wanted me to write. A few steps from the doorway, a voice from behind suddenly called my name. Jolted out of my preoccupation in prayer I turned around to see I had just passed Joyce.
Joyce? Oh my goodness! How many times had I recently asked the Lord where she was and how she was doing! This was a woman who had been part of East Bay Prayer Furnace with me, often in the prayer room interceding for God to come and reveal Himself to the USA and the nations while I was worshiping at the keyboard in one of the devotional worship sets. This lovely Korean woman had such a heart for America and understanding of God’s call on the USA to go forth as His light, and hand of justice and righteousness for the world, simply because supposedly we knew Who we served (though the past 50 years as a nation we seemed to have forgotten.) She prayed with such fervency for America to be restored to this place and for it to become truly a nation under God once again. She also had a love for Israel and understanding of Israel’s integral, never-ending role in the history of God’s always loving, seeking-to-restore relationship with humanity.
In 2008 and 2009 when the economy of the United States was collapsing, Joyce also hit hard financial times. She believed God had promised her a place where people could come and encounter Him, be nourished by Him and rest in Him. She stood in faith that God would help her keep her home, which she had dedicated to these purposes. I gave her a copy of the “Restore” CD with which to worship, calling on Him for His restoration. But this was not His will for her. She had misunderstood. His plan was greater than she could have imagined. Despite many prayers and tears, she lost her home.
Shortly thereafter, we met in the prayer room hallway and she rhetorically asked why. The Lord immediately gave me a “word” for her. It was one of those seemingly fleeting thoughts which He drops into our minds and then is quickly whisked away if we aren’t paying close enough attention to grab hold of it. Perhaps it was not a physical house in particular that the Lord meant. We are all temples of the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament the Lord had resided in a temporary tent (tabernacle) which the Israelites took with them wherever they went. In the New Testament, St. Paul describes our bodies as the Lord’s new temporary dwelling place on earth. Perhaps she, as a place where He dwelt, was to carry Him wherever He desired. Then His Holy Spirit would flow through her in that place to accomplish His work. Joyce’s eyes opened wide in realization and agreement. She shared how she had always wanted to do missionary work in foreign countries and had felt drawn toward Israel. She had set these thoughts aside because she had the financial responsibility of maintaining the house for Him. Perhaps losing the house was gaining the freedom to travel for Him. Knowing she had misinterpreted His plan, He was closing one door firmly so that she would see that He wanted to give her the deeper desire of her heart (because He was the One who had placed that desire within her.) Thus the prophetic word He had dropped into my mind and had me declare to her made sense!
Not long after, Joyce was indeed embarking on her first missionary trip. I heard through others in the prayer room community that eventually she a door had opened for her to go to Israel. Now, the giving of the “Restore” CD also had broader significance. The worship songs on it surely could be used toward tangible restoration, which is initially what I thought their purpose for Joyce was. However, these songs on a broader scale were about calling on God to draw all people to Himself. They were partnering with the Holy Spirit to usher in His Great Commission in this generation, which as in the time of the apostles, would have to be by the power resident in the Holy Spirit working through us, not by our good intentions in our own strength.
Several years later, in 2013 there was a community prayer room gathering and when I turned around, I was thrilled to see Joyce there as well! She had just returned from one of her Israel trips. We ran to each other and hugged joyously, asking each other questions. Joyce shared excitedly about the work God was giving her in Israel. She was serving the Jewish people in the name of Jesus with the love of Jesus as the Holy Spirit led and empowered and she was going back again in the very near future. What had started as one missionary trip now had become repeated trips. In fact, she no longer really lived in the USA, but in Israel with periodic visits here. If she had continued to own the physical house in Northern California, there was no way this ever would have happened. Now she was taking Christ to the nations and felt that God had fulfilled every promise to her, but on a much grander scale than in her finite human vision she had been capable of seeing. Lord God, You are so good!
All of a sudden, the Lord dropped into my mind something to say, which I would never normally utter! “Joyce,” I said, “There’s something you are supposed to bring me from Israel.” Oh my goodness, I couldn’t believe I was saying this! I worked hard never to ask anyone to do anything for me. I did not want to add to anyone’s list of “to-do’s”, nor did I want to obligate anyone to do anything for me. My heart was to bless and serve others, not this! “Joyce, you are supposed to bring me anointing oil from Israel.”
There. It was out and I was horrified. And yet, there had been the undeniable power of the Holy Spirit on the words.
Immediately, Joyce burst out in a huge joy-filled grin. “I have it for you already,” she said. “I have the oil for you in my purse.”
What?! Oh my goodness, God. You amaze me!!!
Joyce pulled a small vial of golden perfumed olive oil out of her purse and handed it to me. I was incredulous and so grateful—grateful to God and grateful to Joyce. Thank You, Lord!
The vial was smaller than most I had had in the past and perfect to carry everywhere with me in my own purse. How often since she had given me that vial, had I pulled it out as I prayed for someone and anointed the person as the Holy Spirit had led! Such had been the case during this spring’s THRIVE Retreat for Women with Recovering PSTD Warriors, which I had obediently (and joyfully!) sponsored through Eagles Nest Foundation the week leading into Holy Week. At the end of our retreat, we had all prayed for one another. First we had asked Laura Bush-Jenkins and her husband, Mark, to pray for the other women in attendance, and then all of us had laid hands on Laura, Mark and baby Theodore and prayed for the work God was setting before them as a family. As we prayed for them, the Holy Spirit nudged me to anoint them with oil using the vial from Joyce. Once I had done so, the Lord nudged me again. In a way no one else could see, I was to slip the vial into Laura’s hand and give it to her. It was no longer mine. This young family was to now have this oil to use in their own work for God moving forward.
Oh, Lord, I don’t want to give this vial away! Oh, Lord, what a perfect size this vial has been to carry with me while doing Your work. Oh, Lord, how sweet the memory of how You provided this gift to me through Joyce!
But I know better than to argue with the Holy Spirit. And I know nothing really belongs to me. Everything belongs to my Lord. If it is in my hands, then it is for a season. My season to have this little vial of oil was done. I had to obey. And so I did. I slipped it into Laura’s hand while prayer continued and whispered to her that it was now hers.
Now here suddenly was Joyce again at the Dublin post office. What a gift to see her and be able to catch up! She asked how and what I was doing. I shared as briefly and succinctly as I could. It was difficult and painful to speak due to the recent surgery and physically impossible for me in this condition to make myself heard above the din of the flow of cars in and out of the parking lot and on the adjacent street. Joyce listened carefully and patiently. For her part, Joyce shared she was still serving in Israel and was travelling back again in another 10 days.
A crazy thought dropped into my mind. It did not make sense. But three times while she was sharing about her joy and amazement at the privilege of serving the Jewish people in the name of Christ, the thought came again. It was not to be ignored. “Joyce, do you have any access to Israeli soldiers? I’m not sure if you know why I have recorded worship music. It began with a vision in 2005 that if I would get worship music to troops He showed me marching in what I took to be a Middle East desert, He said He would protect them and give Him His strategy.”
I was giving her the short version because speaking was so hard. In actuality, the Lord had shown me a covering dropping over this group of troops marching and said, “If you will get the patriotic song I have given you (“Stand Up”) and some of the worship music I have had you compose over there, I will be their covering, I will hem them in before and behind, I will be the banner over them. And I will shine my Light in the dark places so that the enemy is more easily found.”
It was this vision, which had caused me to look for His way to get the music produced into a form that it could be delivered “over there”. It was this vision, which ultimately had led me to Michael Everett and The Creation Lab where he and a team of other professionals had helped me begin to record some of the music. Now there were over 100 original worship songs and two patriotic songs recorded and produced in CD format. And in 2007 the Lord had led me to establish Eagles Nest Foundation as a 501c3 non-profit to distribute the music.
A brand new thought struck me in that moment, where He had me ask Joyce if she had connection to any of the IDF soldiers in Israel. The song “Stand Up” did not mention the name Jesus, even though whenever we as Christians talk about “God”, we know we are referring to the three-in-one Godhead: Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit.
words & music by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro © 2007
1) We will fight for freedom; we will fight the war. When enemies have vanished, they will be found. No more will they attack us; we stand up to fight. We will protect the nation; God is on our side.
Chorus: Stand up, stand up, stand up and fight. Stand up, stand up, stand up and fight.
2) When darkness comes against us the battle is the Lord’s. We are true to You, victory is assured. You are Sovereign General, we know how to fight. We seek You in the morning, praise You in the night.
3) Devoted to Your purpose, a charge for God to keep. We focus on the mission, though the path is steep. We bow down in prayer, You alone know the way. You give us faith and courage, we march to victory.
My eyes were opening. WIDE! “Stand Up” could just as easily be for Israeli troops fighting against ISIS, Al Qaeda, and all others coming against their right to dwell on the land God had given them as it was for U.S. troops engaged in the War on Terror. In addition, the Lord had mandated worship music go with “Stand Up” to those in the battle. How many hundreds of times over the past 7 years in obedience to the vision had I put a “Stand Up” CD and an “Ascend In Worship” CD into a shimmering gift bag in the color of a particular branch of the military and shipped it either to a service member, military family or veteran. As with each worship CD project undertaken, I had prayed and prayed the Holy Spirit would direct me specifically regarding which songs of the hundreds He had had me compose, that He wanted me to record. “Ascend In Worship” was the very first worship project. “Ascend In Worship” was the project specifically developed to go with “Stand Up” to the troops. As I quickly went through the lyrics in my head to the songs He had directed me to include on “Ascend In Worship”—songs including, “Freedom Comes From You”, “When You Are My King”, “Hold Me Lord” “When We Fear You Lord”, “Put Your Hand On Me” and “Mighty Warrior King”, I realized with the exception of the final song, “A Baby’s Cry” which was a new Christmas worship song contemplating the birth of Jesus, the remainder of the songs, addressed God as LORD. Once again, any Christian worshiping to these songs knew that the Lord God is one names by which we call the three-in-one Godhead: Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit. But the way the Lord had had me develop the lyrics, these songs could just as easily be sung by someone who knew God as Yahweh and did not yet know Jesus, as a Christian. Additionally, my prayer request for every song recorded was that the Holy Spirit’s touch would be on it in a way that the listener was touched by the presence, power and loving truth of God, rather than being impressed by my voice. And I knew God had answered this prayer because of the responses of others to the music. He touched each person in His special way when they listened to it. Wow, what if this music were to be listened to by Israeli soldiers? Oh my goodness, not only would His promise to cover and protect them have to go into fulfillment, but He would begin to reach their hearts with His Living Water, preparing the soil for the planting of the seed of Truth which is the reality of His Son, Jesus. Stunning! Lord, what are You doing here? This could be amazing beyond words!
All this ran through my mind in a split second as I dared ask Joyce the seemingly ridiculous question whether she knew any IDF soldiers. She had been leading the way to her car and turned around, her eyes wide with surprise. “Yes. Not only do I know soldiers. The ministry God has given me has an outreach to them. And remarkably right now they are very appreciative of any and all Christian prayers. They are encouraged to tears when we say we are praying for them.” She showed me a picture of several IDF soldiers at a recent worship service.
Now it was my turn to take her to my car. I pulled out copies of “Ascend In Worship” and “Stand Up” and asked her to listen to them and prayerfully ask the Lord for confirmation is He wanted these sent with her as gifts for the Israeli soldiers. Joyce was excited at the prospect and promised to listen and pray.
I gave her a gift of the “Resurrection Joy” worship CD, because its songs are to help focus us in and remind us of the Kingdom to which we belong and the mission we have here. The lyrics encourage and through them the Holy Spirit flows refreshing us and strengthening us for the work ahead. This was particularly my prayer for Joyce, that as an obedient worker for our Lord through it, she would be continually refreshed, renewed and re-commissioned for her work in Israel.
Briefly I thanked her again for the gift of oil from Jerusalem she had given me the last time we met. I wanted her to know how much it had meant to me. I also shared how to my dismay the Lord had had me give it away, so she would know how her gift to me had gone on to minister to yet others.
Before I could finish telling the story, she asked me to quickly return to her car. She had more oil for me. This time, not just one vial but two! One was Lily of the Valley and the other Jerusalem oil. She wanted me to have both—a double portion as a sign of the Lord’s provisional abundance to replace that which I had obediently given away. In addition, she rummaged through her car for one more item. It was a little cloth gift bag with a little notecard and stone inside. The notecard had a photo of the Sea of Galilee was the writing on it was in Korean. She said it was the theme verse for her ministry in Israel LOVE153 (www.love153.org) This brought me almost to tears. It was the verse the Lord had given me years ago as I contemplated whether He wanted me to step out in faith and re-print the inspirational gift book He had had me write: “The Tree-a little book of faith and hope”.
15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him a third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he had said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-17)
It was here at the Sea of Galilee where Peter had obediently put his net into the lake after a fruitless night of fishing, and Jesus had over-filled the net with fish—153 to be exact—which was one of the reasons for the name of her ministry. And the little stone was one she had picked up exactly in that spot on the shore of the Sea of Galilee where Jesus and Peter had had the conversation over breakfast later.
I was so blessed! The oil…the Scripture…the stone…the prospect of His music going to His troops to help them gain more of His protection and know Him more! Oh, Lord God, what a gift You have given me through this post office errand. Joyce has been encouraged in her work and I in mine!
The gifts for Cindy would wait for yet another day and then He would enable them delivered in His perfect timing as well.
On Wednesday, September 17th, Joyce and I re-connected. Indeed, she wanted to take worship music (“Ascend In Worship” CDs) and “Stand Up” to the Israeli soldiers as a gift and I knew a personal note of support and promise of prayer needed to be included. The Lord instructed me how to make a note card for them just a few hours before I was to meet and give her the gifts.
The front of the card was to be of the Israeli flag (I went online, found the image He indicated, purchased the rights to use it and put it on the front of the card). The interior was to have a note explaining the gift on the left and a newly written pray for them on the back. The back of the card would have Psalm 91.
The Lord continued to have me prepare a gift for these soldiers which would be touched with the power of the Holy Spirit, who leads to Christ without hitting the soldiers over the head with Jesus. It made room for the Holy Spirit to meet them and introduce Himself His way. Most of the Psalms were written by King David who was also a great ancient Israelite warrior! King David was their direct ancestor, not mine. They could definitely be able to relate to him! In addition, it was through study of how God had manifested and released power in response to worship mostly in the Old Testament—which was the part of the Bible (and faith), which we shared with the Jews—that the Lord had taught me the most about worship. Thus everything He had taught me would be relatable to the IDF soldiers as well.
Oh, how the Lord loves His Jewish people through whom He chose to bring to fruition His plan of salvation for the whole world! Oh, how He longs for them eventually to know Him in the fullness of who He is as three-in-One Godhead: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
I am in a season of quiet where I cannot talk much let alone sing, but this did not require much talk to arrange, and God in His magnificent sovereignty had ensured that all the music He wanted to send to them was prepared long in advance. Glorious God, You are!
At this moment the first 22 gifts are on their way with Joyce to Israel. They are to be a sign of His love through those who know Him not just as Lord God, but Yeshua (JESUS!)!!! God is faithful. He blesses us to be a blessing. He orchestrates it all better than we could imagine when we have the courage to listen and obey.
Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ!!!NUGGETS OF GOD’s WISDOM God’s Wisdom is more precious than gold. This blog by Elizabeth Fulgaro helps readers discover God’s way versus the world’s one “nugget” at a time. http://www.ascendinworship.wordpress.com www.eaglesnestfoundation.org
Elizabeth Fulgaro is a wife, mother, writer, inspirational speaker, worship leader, composer, singer & recording artist. She is also a Certified Financial Planner and Accredited Financial Counselor with a heart for helping Christians understand and steward their finances God’s way.
For books, worship cds, Bible studies and teachings written by Elizabeth Fulgaro or to schedule her to come speak to your group please visit www.holyspiritpress.org Worship music audio clips can be found at www.cdbaby.com/Artist/ElizabethFulgaro and on itunes.
Elizabeth is the Founder of Eagles Nest Foundation which provides spiritual support & encouragement to military and military families as well as those in physical and emotional battles (such as cancer, long-term illness) as well as those grieving a loss. For information email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.eaglesnestfoundation.org