Ruminations on Thanks-Giving (and Christmas)

Lord God, Ruler of the universe and Creator of all things. We choose this day to pause. We choose to stop from all our activity in this moment and simply reflect on You and give You thanks.  If we will choose to rest in You we can come into that place of awe which enables us to receive Your peace, so we can go forward into the rest of our day in a different way. Oh Lord, we are overwhelmed with a need to thank You for Your love, Your care and life. Thank You for being with us through all things. Thank You for being Victor when there seems to be no way and for conquering death so that we no longer need to fear it. Thank You that nothing can snatch us out of Your hand and that You lead us through every dark valley as our Beloved Shepherd. All that we want and need is you. All that we want from life is to follow You.  Thank You, dear Lord God that You are. In Jesus’ name, Amen
Lord God, Ruler of the universe and Creator of all things. We choose this day to pause. We choose to stop from all our activity in this moment and simply reflect on You and give You thanks. If we will choose to rest in You we can come into that place of awe which enables us to receive Your peace, so we can go forward into the rest of our day in a different way. Oh Lord, we are overwhelmed with a need to thank You for Your love, Your care and life. Thank You for being with us through all things. Thank You for being Victor when there seems to be no way and for conquering death so that we no longer need to fear it. Thank You that nothing can snatch us out of Your hand and that You lead us through every dark valley as our Beloved Shepherd. All that we want and need is you. All that we want from life is to follow You. Thank You, dear Lord God that You are. In Jesus’ name, amen

by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro © 2015

In the United States we have entered what we hope will be a season of reflection and thankfulness, of celebrating the blessings of family and friends and giving to others in a way they know they are appreciated. And in our well-intended efforts to do all of this perfectly, it can become the season of hustle and bustle and hectic.

Where is our Lord in this? How have we welcomed Him? What is His place? The baby in the manger. The child born to redeem the world, open the door back to restored relationship with the Creator of the universe (and our Father) and the few who saw the signs of the angels and the star, believed, then came to adore an infant born to poor parents without any true vestige of what they understood kingship to be.

Christmas is the hope of the Resurrection. Christmas is the beginning of Pentecost and our jobs for the Lord to be His ambassadors here on this earth now. Christmas is the remembrance nothing and no one can snatch us out of the Lord’s hands. He is there for us. He always will be. He will never leave or forsake us.

Thanksgiving is the beautiful intersecting point, related to and preceding Christmas where we pause to express thanks to our Lord and acknowledge the ever-critical, never-ending role and place He has in our lives. This is what it’s about—not crowded airports and grocery lines and just-the-right napkins and tablecloths. It is the intentional pause to remember He IS our life and LIFE eternal. Our life is in Him. All life is from Him. With Him all things are possible. Without Him nothing is possible.

The Thanksgiving we remember as the first in the United States was exactly this. It was an intentional time to gather and thank God for His provision and protection in the midst of misery which was not unexpected. To acknowledge His place in our lives as Creator, God, King, Father and Lord. The pilgrims had struggled. Over half died the first winter before they planted their first crops and long before the first harvest, after which they gathered to give thanks.

To give thanks when all is not perfect is real. There will be no life without hardships on earth (for here will never be heaven). To give thanks when all is not what one had hoped is to recognize the imperfection here and how God still blesses us in it and through it until He takes us home. To give thanks as the harvest comes in and in the face of the unknown of the season to come (which for the pilgrims was another winter) is to acknowledge that all things belong to Him, all things are enabled by Him, we are at His mercy and recipients of His grace and care and choose by faith to take up the rest in Him to which He invites, in the midst of difficulties and suffering, trusting in His perfect and eternal plan until He takes us home.

The family gatherings of Thanksgiving and the holy-days (true root of the word “holidays”) which follow can be deep, rich blessing. Yet, the true meaning of these celebrations is the joy of knowing we were made by a God who loved us and loves us beyond what we can imagine, who came to rescue us and is with us now, who takes care of us and uses us through every generation.

The true fulfillment to be found in these days is to resist the hectic, realize it is not about turkey and stuffing, cranberry sauce and pie, and make sure to take the time to revel in the mighty, majesty of our Creator and enjoy the imperfect people with whom He has surrounded us, His imperfect beloved children. Pause. Reflect. Breathe. Be filled with childlike wonder. Sigh. Breathe. Shed a tear. Stay present to only Him for a moment. Breathe. Listen. Hear the heartbeat of His love for you. Exhale thanks. Go about your day in a new freer way.

Happy Blessed Thanksgiving

END

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
 

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 more information on books, worship albums, Bible studies and teachings written by Elizabeth Fulgaro or to schedule her to come speak to your group please visit  www.elizabethfulgaro.com . Music can be purchased and audio clips heard at www.cdbaby.com/Artist/ElizabethFulgaro and on itunes.

Elizabeth also posts brief devotions and prayers on Facebook on her page: Spiritual Armor and Ammo where you will find more posts of God’s truth and His way to help you stand strong against the battles of this life in which we all find ourselves.

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 elizabeth@eaglesnestfoundation.org or visit www.eaglesnestfoundation.org  

 

 

Christmas Is Not Always Easy

Joy to the world! You have come! Let all heaven and nature sing!  In You we live, move and have our being. Only through You and the understanding You give us of the temporal nature of this temporary life and the ongoing spiritual battle where evil desires to destroy and remove good (and Good) forever, can we understand our lives. Thank You for special time with others if that is Your plan for us this year. But more than anything, thank You for the Gift You were and are to us. You are the reason we celebrate Christmas for at this time we choose to remember that no matter what we are going through You love us, are with us and are leading us to that sweet place where there is no more pain and no more tears and we are with You where our joy is complete forever.  Light of the world, continue to help us to see You and never lose sight of You and Your precious, blessed, "splendiferous" way.  Praise to YOU, Lord Jesus Christ for in You and by You we greet all we know joyously with Merry CHRISTmas!  In Jesus' name, Amen
Joy to the world! You have come! Let all heaven and nature sing! In You we live, move and have our being. Only through You and the understanding You give us of the temporal nature of this temporary life and the ongoing spiritual battle where evil desires to destroy and remove good (and Good) forever, can we understand our lives. Thank You for special time with others if that is Your plan for us this year. But more than anything, thank You for the Gift You were and are to us. You are the reason we celebrate Christmas for at this time we choose to remember that no matter what we are going through You love us, are with us and are leading us to that sweet place where there is no more pain and no more tears and we are with You where our joy is complete forever. Light of the world, continue to help us to see You and never lose sight of You and Your precious, blessed, “splendiferous” way. Praise to YOU, Lord Jesus Christ for in You and by You we greet all we know joyously with Merry CHRISTmas! In Jesus’ name, Amen

by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro © 2014

Despite all the societal hype about what Christmas should look like, Christmas is not always easy. In fact, for many, Christmas is a time of year which by focus on the pictures of perfect families, beautiful decorations, gifts and abundantly set tables consistently is like salt rubbing in open wounds or that which rips off scabs and inflicts pain from loss, grief or injury anew.

For me, the only answer is to return to the true meaning of Christmas. The birth of Christ was not accompanied by great feasts or frenzied calendars of seemingly endless preparations or pressure to find and wrap the perfect gift. The miracle was uncomplicated and for the most part unseen. It was natural daily life of supernatural proportion and implication. A poor young woman accompanied her husband to Bethlehem in obedience to the call for a census and though they could find no place for lodging gave birth to her Son and laid Him in an animal feed trough for she had no cradle.  The angels alerted the shepherds who had to choose to leave their work to go worship Him and the wise men also left their normal pre-occupations to seek out the newborn King they believed had come. Though supreme King over all things–natural and supernatural, physical and spiritual– and Creator of the universe, no one else knew He had come.

Christ was born and by His life, death and resurrection opened the door for reconciled relationship for each of us with Father God so we could receive our destiny in Him and through Him for eternity for which He created us! He promised blessings to those who followed Him even during this temporal life! However, He did not promise a life of ease or without problems.

The people of Israel were waiting for a Savior who would save them from earthly injustice. Instead, here came a King who would bring them through the trials of this fallen life, but not eliminate those trials. Here remains earth, not heaven. But Jesus made heaven possible. Jesus gave back our future and hope to those who would choose to follow. Jesus became Emmanuel—God with us—not just through eternity, but now as well so that when we struggle it is with Him at our side along with His promise to bring something good from it. Earthly governments are not overrun by Christ; individual hearts become filled to overflowing with the reality of God so that we inherit life with Him forever following this temporal existence and His love begins to flow through us to change the world within its existing ignorant structures.

Christmas is not about the tree or the gifts or the feasts, family or guests. Christmas is about the coming of God into our world to open the door home and lead us there Himself. This is what we sing about and it is in this rejoice. Everything else, while it can be nice, is like a piece of wrapping paper which is pretty today, but the day after Christmas seems to have turned gray and is ready to be thrown out. This is Christmas joy! True joy is not found in that which is passing away…true joy is in the hope of who we are to Him and what is yet to come!

In order to survive and even thrive at Christmas we need to focus on the Gift Himself who provides His hope, love, direction and care not just during December but throughout the year. Christmas is a time to remember, revere and focus on Him. It is time to give Him the glory He is due by announcing to the world, death is not the end and injustice will not be victorious because we serve an eternal supernatural supreme King.  And when times have been hard and not what has been desired we are to cling exactly to these promises.

Indeed this year our family will gather. There will be gifts under a decorated Christmas tree. I am baking special cookies which it seems I only take the time to make at this time of year. But there are two separate dynamics at work here. There is the dynamic of choosing this time of year as one to gather and enjoy each other’s company and there is the dynamic of setting aside time to quietly remember the One who came and gives us all hope for the future we cannot provide for ourselves where there will finally justice, only goodness, joy and endless reunion without pain or sorrow. So MERRY CHRISTMAS, everyone. Jesus came, lived, died, rose, ascended, sent His Spirit who is with us now through the good and bad which will be and we are all on our journey home.  May you sense His presence with you through at all as He blesses you and keeps you, as He makes His face to shine upon you and offers you His peace.

Note: By the way this does not mean I am sad. For us it is a blessed, bliss-filled Christmas abounding with thanksgiving. But there are way too many others I know for whom Christmas is not easy and will not be. There needed to be something written which acknowledges this and points to the true essence of Christmas, away from what we have added to it, in order to help the time be blessed and perhaps in some small way more meaningful enjoyable again for all of us every year–no matter what. Merry Christmas all!

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
 

   

Contributions for Eagles Nest Foundation , Inc.
www.eaglesnestfoundation.org

It is the season we remember Christ’s birth. For new original worship music with which to go deeper in Christ through reflecting on Him this blessed season, visit CDBaby: http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/ElizabethFulgaro . CHRISTMAS WORSHIP and the newly released CHRISTMAS BELLS CALL TO WORSHIP are available now in CD and downloadable format.  

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  Music can be purchased and audio clips heard 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 elizabeth@eaglesnestfoundation.org or visit www.eaglesnestfoundation.org  

 

A New Journey

You grant us Your peace as we rest in You.  All things are in Your control. Whatever comes You never leave or forsake us. You lead. We follow. We rejoice! Our trust is in You!
You grant us Your peace as we rest in You. All things are in Your control. Whatever comes You never leave or forsake us. You lead. We follow. We rejoice! Our trust is in You!

by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro (c) 2014

25 Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on…26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?…33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  34 Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.  (Matt. 6:25-27, 33-34 ESV)

Dearest Reader,

On July 14, 2014 I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. The prognosis is good, although only hindsight will tell how accurate this initial diagnosis and prognosis actually are.

Meanwhile in all things God is working to grow us and transform us more and more into His image.  Though this diagnosis was a surprise to all of us, the further transformation He is sure to bring through it I fully embrace!

Circumstances such as this more than others are cause for pause, reflection and focused listening on what God would say to us. Does He have a message? Sometimes.  Other times He merely asks us to trust, for no explanation of what is and what is to come will make sense to our child-like minds.  We cannot grasp it! It is beyond our ability.  He is the Almighty Parent. He knows all. He has the overview. We do not.

Considering His mandate that we must become as children to inherit the Kingdom of God and recognizing the truth that His ways are so much superior to ours that we will never completely grasp them, it has struck me more than once that as His children no matter how much we learn about God, we probably never go beyond the equivalent of human children aged 3-5 in comparison to our supernatural sovereign Parent.  Thus what we experience won’t always make sense. It can’t. We are ever less than God.  We are the created. He is the Creator.  In addition, it will not be just. This is and will ever be earth, not heaven.  Injustice is part and parcel of the worldly kingdom where God’s adversary has had dominion since Adam and Eve chose to respect his leadership over God’s.

In this light, rarely does someone understand or expect a diagnosis of cancer or any other similar threat to physical well-being. Yet in all this I am also confident of His promise that He sees every bit of sorrow, pain and suffering and waits to wipe every tear away and bring us into His eternal presence where nothing can hurt us or those we love again.

To be sure, this new step in my life is certainly not along a path I would have chosen for me or the ones I love. It is not one I want.  But this is the path upon which I have been placed.  Periodically along this way as God gives me certain thoughts, they will be shared on this blog. They will be categorized under “Cancer Reflections”  (God willing the journey through this will be brief, however, we shall see.)

Since the news, our Lord and our God has oh-so-graciously blessed me with His peace from the inside out which truly surpasses human understanding. I trust Him and I can feel His incredible response to the incredible outpouring of love and prayers some of you already have been richly showering on me.   THANK YOU FOR PRAYING! Please continue to pray as God leads, for regardless of the medical community’s prognosis and confidence in a good result, my confidence is in God alone. He is the only One with the power to heal both for now and for eternity, and I know He hears and answers all prayers.

I hope and pray that wherever you are in life, you are able to receive His gift of peace in this moment as well.   God bless you!

Elizabeth

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

   

Eagles Nest Foundation , Inc.
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 info@eaglesnestfoundation.org or visit www.eaglesnestfoundation.org  

Thoughts on Faith and Moving From Worry to Worship

Lord, there will be storms and still our trust is in You for even there You are with us and will never abandon the ones You love (us!) or the work of Your hands. How we love You!
Lord, there will be storms and still our trust is in You for even there You are with us and will never abandon the ones You love (us!) or the work of Your hands. How we love You!

by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro (c) 2014

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” (Prov. 3:5-6)

Is He God or is He not? If He is God, then do we believe in Him? If we do, then we also know that what He promises is the Truth. He cannot lie. Neither does He change. Thus what He promised to generations before ours, remains His promise to us. We can rely on it. In fact, reliance on His love and promise to care for us is the only things upon which we can truly rely.

He tells us not to worry. This is not because nothing we view as bad will happen. This is not because we will get everything we want. It is because He knows who we are, where we are, our past, our present and our future. He knows the plans He has for us. He knows our dreams, our wishes and our fears and He loves us. He created us to be with Him. Our ancestors chose exile. Yet He is constantly on the move offering opportunity to be restored to Him and then be used by Him with great purpose as a vessel through which (by the power of His Spirit) He continues to draw others to Himself.

We are not to worry, but seek His kingdom first. Our focus is to be getting to know Him better, practicing listening for His voice and then grasping the courage to obey that which we think we hear which does not contradict His Word, but may not seem to make sense to our logical human minds. This is His desire for us!….because……

He has the rest handled. He is God. He has the overview. He does have the plan and is the only One with the power to complete it. His intentions are good and not evil. He takes what the enemy means for evil and uses it for eventual good. He alone is God and there is no other. He is always using everything for His rescuing work of humanity. He has counted every hair on every head, sees every sparrow which follows and knows exactly what is on your mind at this moment.

All things belong to Him, He is always going after every lost sheep, never gets discouraged, never loses heart and never quits. But He also never promises here will be heaven. It is not. It is the place of our exile and it will not be easy.

But we do not have to keep our focus here; we can direct our gaze to Him already gone before us to eternity! That is our destiny! Eyes forward. Attitude bowed down in worship, awe, admiration and adoration of the King of kings and Lord of lords, who has always reigned and will always reign, who created each of uniquely and takes a personal interest in each of us individually.

Worry has no productive result. It causes mental strain, emotional anguish and physical consequences, but worry in and of itself changes nothing. Read it again. Worry changes nothing.

We need to do as He says. We need to look to God. We need to focus on His promises, not in fear, but with the trust of a child who knows the parent has everything handled.

This does not mean from our current perspective it will all be “okay”. But He will accompany us through all that comes and He will lead us gently and faithfully (sometimes carrying us!) from here to eternity. And in the twinkling of an eye we will be ushered into that place where there is no more sorrow and no more pain. The Comforter will personally wipe away every tear and finally our joy will be complete.

For now, we either trust Him and His plan or we do not. We either let Him be God or we try to make things change by the amount of our worry. We either choose to rest in His plan, thanking Him for what we can see as well as what we can’t, believing He will work out the good, vital, most important eternal things through all the yuck, following where He leads, or we sit down and cry in our own mess.

It hurts to watch others we love hurt. We don’t want it for them. But God has a plan and a purpose for them and He sees what is going on. He asks us to trust, be confident not in the circumstances but in Him and what He will work through these circumstances, to worship, pray, listen and obey. He asks us to trust Him in order to not fear the consequences from any lesser power or personal choice. He asks this as a sign that we believe and acknowledge He alone is God.

It is not easy! We want what we want and we do not want suffering for ourselves. And we definitely do not want suffering for those we love.

He asks us to believe, trust and pray—to join Jesus in intercession at the right hand of God the Father in heaven. He asks us to partner with Him by the power of His Spirit to birth that which He has purposed from being a spiritual plan into being a tangible, natural event.

Do we believe He is God? Then let’s worship Him—let’s thank, let’s recount to Him His promises, reveling in the fact that they are for us and those we love. Let us offer a sacrifice of praise and let Him calm our fears by writing His Truth on our hearts. In return by our worship, He will shift the atmosphere and enable ground given up to the enemy in the hearts of those we love to be re-taken for our Lord and His perfect, redeeming, restoring, healing, empowering, encouraging way.

Let us let God be God. Let us become the trusting children He asks us to be. Let us boldly come before His throne of grace and ask for what we want, then let us live in the moment without worry for the future for we choose to know He holds it all well and safety in the palm of His hands.

   

Eagles Nest Foundation , Inc.
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.  (A current outreach is The Japan GRIEF Project.)  For information email info@eaglesnestfoundation.org or visit www.eaglesnestfoundation.org  

Ruminations on America’s Perfect Storm & Season of Decision

Lord God, we need You. How we desire to be a nation under God. Guide and direct our every step. We are Yours. Thank You for Your gift of life now through eternity. Thank You for Your perfect way. This is all we want – to be in Your will living in You and for You all the days of our lives. In Jesus’ name Amen

by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro (c) 2012

The night of October 29th the Lord woke me at 11:38pm to get up and write.  When I sense a little message coming from Him and no paper is nearby, it has become my habit to thumb-type it quickly into my phone and send it to myself so that it does not become lost.  On this night, the Lord would have me thumb-type non-stop for 2 hours with the message below, while Hurricane Sandy was wreaking its horrendous damage on the East Coast of the United States.  Prayers continue for all impacted by this storm of historic proportions. The text which follows is about a storm of a different sort.  Because of the pending election in the USA, this message has been published quickly for each of us to ponder and consider.  There is no disrespect intended to those working night and day to recover from the actual Hurricane.  May God bless you.  May God bless all of us. ~ Elizabeth

All day it is as if there is a storm preparing to rage and now raging here. I sense it in my spirit. And yes, here in our Northern California community, about 45 minutes east of San Francisco and 1 ¼ hours southwest of the capital, Sacramento, it was 80 degrees and sunny today. Outside a full moon, called the year’s Hunter’s Moon illuminates the landscape like midday.

Yet, just like the East Coast, there is a storm raging and it is bigger than the “perfect storm” which batters the Eastern seaboard, including New Jersey, Maryland, New York and Washington, D.C. tonight.

We face the decision – individually and then nationally if we will be a nation under God again.  If not, then well we can expect these storms as well as to have to stand up to the storms without God’s help because we have told Him we don’t need Him (and He has respectfully removed Himself).

What a hard reminder that we are not in control and that we cannot stand against that which God allows without Him. He created the wind and rain and He decides where the storms will blow. And despite all our exaltation of human intellect, when He sends a storm we can do small things to try to protect ourselves, yet we know we are subject to the will and grace of God if we are to survive, for we recognize the storm is stronger than we are.  And we recognize that we are not in control.  It doesn’t matter how much we pontificate, discuss and or exalt our own ideas…in the end we are at the mercy of forces beyond our control – but for God.

What an incredible picture of the United States as a nation before the upcoming presidential election.  All along the Eastern seaboard today the message was, “Batten down the hatches; the storm is coming. Pray. Prepare. Pray.”  In every state in our nation right now the cry should be the same for we face the promise of fulfillment of either blessings or curses (a storm which comes against us which will not seem as swift or kind in the end in terms of its impact on our lives as Hurricane Sandy.)

We serve an “if-then” God.  If we….then He…. He is a God who comes into agreement with what we decide and allows us our consequences. Either we are with Him or against Him.  He honors either. 

He is all good. Therefore the consequence of having Him over us as Lord is all good. There is nothing bad in Him therefore the consequence of choosing we don’t need Him or subconsciously choosing to do without Him because we are ignoring His authority to set the way we should live will not be as we desire or hope.

For those who are Christian – how could we have gotten this far off track? We have been duped by the greatest deceiver of them all.  We have become complacent and apathetic.  It doesn’t matter how or if we vote, does it?  It couldn’t matter how we spend our time and money?  Could it? Does God care about such things?

Yes, God cares.  He has always cared.  It has always been a condition of His promise to protect and provide. The protection and provision are there – ongoing.  They never went away. But these are “with” Him.  They are part of who He is, thus when we submit to His authority in our lives and in how we choose to run our nation (pass legislation, etc.), we come under His authority and we are thus under God (and subject to all His blessings).

We did not become a great nation because of our hard work – though hard work is one of His requirements and privileges. We became a great nation because the majority recognized Him as God, sought His way, understood His Sovereignty and Almighty authority in all things, prayed and lived culturally while instituting laws legislatively in a way which honored Him as much as we knew how to do.

This is why Christians who know and have fought hard to end abortion and not allow euthanasia because they believe God is real, know He is greater than we are in every regard and know He alone is the author of life. They understand the value and importance of hard work, the responsibility of each individual to be as independent in supporting self as possible, so as not to become a burden to society, along with the simultaneous mandate to help the poor among us – not because it is a tax deduction, but because it is the right thing to do.  What we have is not ours, but His.

All glory and honor to God first.  Everything else follows.  How would God vote?  How would God live each day? For which principles in our culture would God stand strong and in which would He refuse to participate and even fight locally and be active against?

We have our priorities backwards! For many right now God comes last after we work to meet all our own needs and seek to figure out what we think is the better way. We forget: worship God (give Him the place, honor and credit He is due in our lives), seek His way and do it (to the best of our abilities), and then He will take care of everything else.  It is a promise.  And God cannot lie.

We say we do not know how He would handle the circumstances we face and yet He is unchanging.  His way of handling the life issues and choices each person will face – even if wrapped in the particular external covering of a particular generation – does not change.  In most cases, we do not know because we have not looked.  He is consistent!  Where He expected every past generation to put their priorities and order their lives is the same for us now.

There are life principles which reflect His way, such as the value and protection of every human life, even if it means personal sacrifice. 

The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.  He promises we will have enough if we do the right thing.

We have ordered our lives for personal gain – usually financial gain as the priority, though sometimes for personal pleasure pursuits. 

At its worst this is done without regard for its effect on others in a total self-focused frenzy.  Often it is pursued without intentionally harming others, but in a way which is useless.

God’s way always has an eternal impact on others – an eternally good impact.  There are eternal consequences which are good in our lives and the lives of others when we are following the way set before us by the Master Shepherd.

Without pursuit of a lifestyle with God’s good order, when our lives are done they are simply over.  Any effect we had was temporal and passing.  In the end it was as if our lives were a passing of the wind. But when we pursue life God’s way, we are part of an eternal plan by the most powerful, Supreme Being (also Creator) of the universe in the execution of His mission to restore as many people as will choose Him as Lord to an eternity spent in His presence.

This is not only good work – to be used by God for His purpose.  It is the work for which we were created.  We were each created to live for such a time as this and to let God use us to have His impact in the circles in which He has placed us – not necessarily because we preach well, but because we live well.  Our lives are noticeably different, not because we have all the exterior right looks, but because internally – where it matters most – we have a different mindset and mode of operation.

First and foremost we are free of worry and fear of death. We know who our God is and what He promises.  He is Creator, Savior and Lord.  It is because of Him we have life and He alone has the plan for our lives. We understand we are His and that by His Spirit He speaks to us and leads us.  We understand we do not have to focus on accumulation of financial wealth, titles, position or awards because He promises to protect and provide for us perfectly.  We do not feel the need to acquire all the stuff we can here because we know it is all passing away. Eventually like our physical bodies it will turn to dust again and return to the earth.

These are just things which might provide some measure of comfort to us now, but our joy is in serving God.  Our confidence and hope are in Him and while our focus is today, we know today is just the beginning of eternity for us. We understand foremost we are citizens of the Kingdom of God and under His Lordship when we came to faith in Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God  in Spirit and Truth, we became adopted sons and daughters of God Most High (eternal) with all the rights and privileges of co-heirs.  As part of the family business it is our job to be His ambassadors revealing the different way of the King we serve and His kingdom until the day He calls us home.  Death is a door, not an end.

Abundance is measured differently.  We do not need piles in the bank of assets which cannot go with us. We pray, accumulating what He says each of us need, acquiring those items and experiences unique for each of us, which He will use to help us serve Him, while holding the rest with open hands to disburse or hold however, He instructs. 

The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.  All things come from Him. We are mere stewards – managers here on assignment to use, retain and disburse what He enables us to have according to His wishes, not our own.  (“Time, talent and treasure” – none of it is ours. Everything is His; not just money alone.)  And our God will supply all our needs in Christ Jesus!

We do not fear the storms (which are an inevitable part of life) for God is with us.  He does not fail because He cannot fail and promises to use all for good on our behalf and on behalf of others in light of eternity.  He takes what the enemy means for evil and uses it for good. He will never leave us or forsake us and tells us not to worry for every hair on our head has been counted.  He even cares for every bird, yet says we are more important than the birds and animals.

No matter how much power, wealth or fame we accumulate, the end of physical life will come and our success in these areas is not what will be measured.  Our Lord will measure if we sought more knowledge and understanding of Him as our first priority so that we could bow deeper in adoration and enter into His rest.  He will measure if we sought His plan and followed where He led without worry, thereby allowing Him His place on the throne (where we acknowledge and freely give Him control over our lives).  He will measure if we chose to love.  Not the feel-good, ooey-gooey, emotional, temporary burst for another, but the choice to put them before self – again as His Spirit led us (for no one person can take care of all those in need in the world.) 

It is for this reason He calls us His body. We each have unique roles to play.  He made us each with specific strengths and weaknesses for such a time as this. We are to serve where and how He is calling. And we need each other. We cannot get along as well apart.  He is calling us to choose to love and respect one another while standing for His way in our culture.  He desires us to be connected, encouraging and supporting one another, choosing courtesy and treating one another with dignity in the knowledge that God loves all.

And so, here we are facing this perfect spiritual storm and many of us do not even know it.  How can we prepare if we do not know we are in danger?  We cannot….

Yes, our way of life is in danger. We have been a nation under God.  It is questionable whether this is still the case, though there is a remnant still loyal to His way.

We have been overrun. The books of Deuteronomy, Isaiah, Psalms, Jeremiah – in fact many of those in the Old Testament – detail the difference of living under God’s blessing and not. When they did not live for Him and His way, they were overrun and the enemy came in like a flood.  Where they had been safe in their fortresses, the walls which previously had surrounded them, keeping them safe were knocked down.  Nothing could keep them safe when they were not under God.  They were vulnerable to attack from every side. 

And there are other images of the difference between living under God’s blessing or not in Scripture as well. The second image God uses over and over is that in His sovereignty if the people do not choose Him, as Provider He withholds the provision (allows economic disaster to befall the people).  This is because since He enables us to have whatever we have, when a people say they do not want Him, but have chosen to believe they are responsible to provide for themselves by their own power – or they choose to attribute what they have to the power of other gods – the Lord God stops producing.  In Old Testament times He stopped the rain – which is completely within His power to do and is one of those things we cannot control.  Or He had an enemy take the people into captivity who had become unfaithful to Him and the crops simply were no longer cultivated.

In either case, where the people no longer treated Him as Lord and in charge, where they no longer sought His counsel or recognized what He had done, economic disaster and a time of severe lack ensued.  Fields which had produced the harvests (the manner in which the people were provided for) now grew nothing, sometimes despite all human efforts. The land became barren and dry where nothing would grow – a wasteland.  A land filled with thorns, hungering wild animals and nothing to eat or drink. There was no abundance, just scavenging for survival.

A season of lack.  A time of economic hardship.  Isn’t this what we as a nation have been experiencing?  Most of us are no longer farmers.  We do not grow our own food.  But the effect is the same. When we have no jobs, we cannot buy what we need to survive. We cannot care for ourselves.  Life is harder than when money flows freely. Though good legislation may be needed, God will not bless us with this prosperity again, allowing human efforts to have effect until we are a nation under God.  He can’t. These blessings are part of who He is. They flow freely from Him to us.  But when we have chosen to go our own way, we are not with Him, but against Him. And so we are not with Him.  If we are not with Him, His blessings of provision and protection cannot flow to us.  It is in a similar way to the laws of physics which demonstrate the causes and effects within the physical reality. This is the spiritual reality which has always been.

We have a choice to make: to choose God and His way as our way of life or not.  If we choose Him, which means to be part of His Kingdom now and forever, then our lives must change to reflect Him more – not because we must but because we want our lives to be different as soon as we truly begin to understand who He is and what He promises, desiring this for ourselves.  

If we continue to choose our own way without regard for Him, He will continue to remove Himself from our midst.  We should not expect life to get easier, but harder.  Economically we will not thrive. We can expect to be more vulnerable to enemy strategies and natural disasters. God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of danger. Therefore we will not fear though the mountains fall into the sea…. (Good, accurate words from King and warrior David!)

God is our refuge-our place of safety. God is our strength – the power which enables all we do (and rest assured we must do the work He sets before us, but when we persevere in it, He will make us successful – not necessarily rich by the world’s standards but with enough to do that to which He has called us until He calls us home into blissful eternity with Him.)

So what are we to do? As in the times recounted in the Book of Nehemiah, we are to understand the urgency of the times.  For instance, that the walls of God around us which have protected us are being destroyed – de-constructed by movement of our culture away from God’s way.  We must worship God (adoring Him!) first in word, deed, action, attitude and song because when we worship He is put on the throne, promises to draw near, has a pattern of giving the worshippers His strategy and then when they take the courage to obey by His power, He ensures the victory.  We need to seek His strategy, listen believing He speaks to us according to His promise, discern what He is saying, and then walk it out thereby step-by-step rebuilding our culture on His values.

As in the times of Nehemiah where the walls of Jerusalem, the city of God, were so broken down the workers had to each take their particular position to rebuild instead of all working to rebuild one spot together, the walls of God’s protection and provision as a refuge around us as a nation are mostly destroyed because He has allowed the attacks, honoring our choice to promote ideas which are not His way.  The walls must be rebuilt by each of us choosing His way and standing up for His values in the places where He leads us.  Each action and attitude which we choose that honors His way as the one true path of life adds a “brick” to the rebuilding of the walls where we will once again clearly be a nation within His refuge (under the covering of His blessing). 

On a very practical level, there are specific responsibilities we have as citizens of God’s kingdom which we can no longer ignore, such as voting according of God’s priorities.  We also need VOTE for the candidates who seem to most embrace God’s values running for all offices, paying attention to more than just the election for national president.  Once they are in office, we must stay active being aware of and vocal about legislation pending and legislation we believe needs to be introduced.  The Body of Christ has been a mostly Silent Majority the past decades while a vocal minority has been activist in pursuing establishment of their values in our society. They have made heavy inroads. Time for us to stand up and be visible and just as active in pursuit of re-establishment of God’s values. 

Of course, even when we stand up for God, we stand up differently.  We stand firm!  But we stand firm in love and respect. There is no place for hate and anger, we are ambassadors for the eternal Kingdom of God.  Foremost we are followers of Christ and we are servants of God, whose Son died for all of us, not just those who agreed with Him and who declared from the cross, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”

In addition, we need to honor fellow believers and pray for each other, thus enabling Him to use us as living stones to build a dwelling on the foundation of Jesus Christ in which others will find His love, salvation and blessing (safety).  Our prayers for one another create a connectivity between us as different yet equally important parts of His Body.  The gift of these selfless prayers for one another invite a canopy of His covering over all of us and they honor Him – the One we love – as we honor each other’s different missions for our Lord, working side by side on distinct tasks yet in unity.  We, the many different pieces, connected under one Head, Jesus Christ, who guides and directs each of us according to His perfect will (for we have given up our right to self and given our lives over to God for His use as Jesus did).

If we will believe, listen, persevere and move forward step-by-step, God will use us so that the storm which is raging, and the enemy at the gate will be turned away.  The walls of His protection and blessing will rise again surrounding us.  Our Lord will be our Dwelling Place and in Him (and His way) our joy will be complete.

The time of decision is now.  Our lives are not our own.  Our money is not our own. Our time is not our own.  Our abilities are not our own.  Our votes are not our own. We must pray individually and together to seek His will.  We must call on His Spirit to lead us. We do not want good ideas – we want God ideas.  We must remember Jesus’ admonition to His apostles – yes, the job He has given to our generation like each one before us is the Great Commission: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matt. 28:19-20. BUT we cannot accomplish this on our own.  God’s assignment to us of the Great Commission will only be accomplished with and according to the leading and power of the Holy Spirit on and through our efforts.  These efforts must have been inspired by God, not human mindsets.  God’s ways are not ours, but higher and better!

We have to get out of our business-as-usual mindsets and truly let God use us the way He wants. For some this will mean no change, because they have already surrendered all to God and are following step-by-step where the Holy Spirit leads, no matter how difficult or seemingly impossible the path. For others the change will be radical – in mindset and lifestyle.

We are being offered the freedom to see our lives from God’s perspective – from here to eternity and our eternity in His presence under His leadership has begun! 

We are to each do our Spirit-led part no matter how hard it seems.   

God is unchanging.  He always honors our choice to be His followers or not. When we choose our own way, He does remove Himself, but even in this His purpose is to give us understanding.  His mission is always and forever restoration of many of us back to Him for eternity as will turn, seek Him, repent and allow themselves to be transformed to be His followers.  When He honors our decision to go our own way and removes Himself it provides an opportunity for us to experience what life is really like without Him, so that we will turn and seek Him and His way again.  His love never fails.

Thus the question is whether our generation is listening yet and ready to give ourselves wholly to Him, or if we still wish to remain rebellious children with our mouths open talking as if we actually had power and our ideas were supreme, with ears closed to what He has to say and our eyes squeezed shut to the reality of His way.

Do we His hear ever-present call to stand up?

www.elizabethfulgaro.com

 

Let Freedom Ring!

Lord, may freedom ring through our land; may You guide us in what we are to do to. You are able - the One with the plan & power. We look to You alone.

by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro (c) 2011  www.holyspiritpress.org   www.eaglesnestfoundation.org 

3 Strengthen the feeble hands,
   steady the knees that give way;
4 say to those with fearful hearts,
   “Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
   he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
   he will come to save you.”

5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
   and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
6 Then will the lame leap like a deer,
   and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
   and streams in the desert.
7 The burning sand will become a pool,
   the thirsty ground bubbling springs.
In the haunts where jackals once lay,
   grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.

8 And a highway will be there;
   it will be called the Way of Holiness;
   it will be for those who walk on that Way.
The unclean will not journey on it;
   wicked fools will not go about on it.
9 No lion will be there,
   nor any ravenous beast;
   they will not be found there.
But only the redeemed will walk there,
10 and those the LORD has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
   everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
   and sorrow and sighing will flee away.  (Isa. 35:3-10 NIV)

There is a rose bush in our front yard which bears full red, ruffled blooms which gently open and cast their tender, alluring scent into the air.  This rose bush was a gift from two friends for my birthday in May 2007, the day before I invited a group of people representing different branches of the military (and different seasons of military service) to join me in the recording studio to sing as a choir of troops singing for troops on the song STAND UP.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50gByW27aAE&feature=BFa&list=ULpiQYnPY1vIA&lf=mfu_in_order

My two friends, with me through thick and thin as I have endeavored to walk out God’s will, had searched long and hard for just the right rose for me, cognizant that each individual type of rose has a registered name.  The name of this beautiful rose is “Let Freedom Ring”, which is the final tag line in the song, STAND UP.  I was overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness and significance of their gift!

It has been 4 1/2 years and still the rose blooms in our yard.  Each year the bush is pruned back until it appears to be only dead sticks, then day by day, month by month the canes grow and bear vibrant blooms which captivate the senses from May through November.

If there is one thing I have learned about roses, it is that in order to receive the blessing of the blooms, one has to deal with the thorns.  And as this rosebush continues to grow and flourish in our yard, bearing fragrant, delicate, stunning blooms on thorny branches, perhaps there is a message here regarding our military and our nation.

As in most areas of our lives, when we look at the “news” being broadcast, most of it is negative.  The focus is on the exceptional bad with little report of the general good.  Perhaps we need to consider the season we are in and learn to work with and cultivate through the thorns until we see beautiful, prolific blooms again.

We must be vigilant and diligent.  We cannot stand idly by and not tend to our country, and not care for our military and their families.

There has always been a price for freedom, both on the battlefield and in terms of citizen participation in government.  If we remain complacent and apathetic or give up, the result will be wild, erratic, uncontrolled, unhealthy growth which produces nothing good (and the thorns will dominate!)

We must help our military where we can.  (For Christians this means stepping in with tangible, emotional and spiritual support as the love of Christ, bringing the restorative power of the one true faith with us).  We must be involved in our government and not just throw up our hands in exasperation at the tangle of thorns.

Thorns in every aspect of life are to be expected.  Why do we let them surprise us.

May we sound a trumpet and declare by our prayers and actions, “Let Freedom Ring” and may we never, ever give up.  God is faithful.  He will hear us, direct us and bring His victory.

SELAH! [Pause, and calmly think of that!]
STAND UP  (words & music by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro (c) 2007)   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50gByW27aAE&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL

We will fight for freedom; we will fight the war.

Where 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, You know how to fight

We seek You in the morning, praise You in the night

(Chorus)

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 strength and courage, we march to victory

(Chorus)

Let freedom ring!  Let freedom ring!  Let freedom ring!

RESTORE  (words & music by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro (c) 2009)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piQYnPY1vIA&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL

1) We call, You promise to answer

We cry, You promise to hear

So we call, call, Lord answer

We cry, cry, O hear

Chorus

Invade our presence, inhabit our praise

In us as we are in You

Living Water flow from the throne

Restore the wasteland to You

2) You alone are Creator

We are the work of Your hands

We join worship in heaven

We cry, restore the land

Chorus

Living Water flow (Living Water flow)

END

PLEASE remember to view the new song, “ONE NATION UNDER GOD” on youtube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d593RguxQI8&feature=share  SHARE the link!  Let’s let everyone know that the USA is and remains one nation under God and be encouraged in how God values every individual.

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 For information on her work for the military and their families please visit www.eaglesnestfoundation.org   Eagles Nest Foundation is a 501(c)3 corporation. Contributions are tax-deductible.

It is September…May We Never Forget

LORD, to You alone we pledge our allegiance. We need You & Your Way. Fill us with Your Spirit and use us as You will; we are nothing without You. In You we have life and purpose.

by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro (c) 2011   www.holyspiritpress.org   www.eaglesnestfoundation.org

And so we enter the month of September, with its scents of the passing summer and approach of autumn.   For many the sounds of the beginning of the school year fill the air and there is the breath of harvest on the breeze.  Autumn brings with it a quiet peace of completion, a comforting stillness absent in the awakening of spring and production push of summer.

And we remember – we must never forget – those who were murdered by the others who came with pre-meditation and hatred in their hearts on September 11, 2011.

We do not remember in order to get stuck in the mourning, for though grief on a certain level never ends, we must go on. We remember in order to honor the victims, to pay tribute to the heroes, to bless their surviving families and to be wise.  History teachers are always good to remind us that if we do not remember our history, we are destined to repeat it.

I am neither a history, international relations, world religion nor political science expert, but it seems as if prior to 9-11-01 we were trying to live somewhat isolated, pretending all was goo and there was no risk of evil, similar to prior to our involvement in World War II.  And then as now we learned.  Brought face to face with evil intent which could not be pacified with “we don’t want to participate”, we had to stand up for ourselves and we have.

We must never forget that the world in which we live is not all good.  Our spiritual heritage as Christians is clear.  So long as we are living our lives in our physical bodies there will be the existence of evil and good.  Evil does not seek peace, but dominion and control.  Evil does not take ‘no’ for an answer and runs over and takes over whomever will not stand and be prepared to block evil’s invation with force.

We do not seek war, but we must always be prepared to stand up and fight and always be prepared to simultaneously love.  For people in and of themselves are not evil, but they have chosen the wrong way.

And so we fight, pray, honor those who have died – the victims and the heroes – and those who serve.

PRAYER

Lord God, may we never forget the lessons of 9-11-01.  May we never forget those who died.  Give us Your wisdom how to continue to defend our values and may our values be yours.  We need You, Lord.  Be with us, protect us and lead ud in the way we are to go.  God, please bless America.  It is a land we love.  Stand beside us and guide us with Your Light of Truth shining brilliantly from above.  From the mountains, to the prairies to the oceans, white with foam. God, please bless America – our home sweet home….In Jesus’ name, Amen

PLEASE remember to view the new song, “ONE NATION UNDER GOD” on youtube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d593RguxQI8&feature=share  SHARE the link!  Let’s let everyone know that the USA is and remains one nation under God and be encouraged in how God values every individual.

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 For information on her work for the military and their families please visit www.eaglesnestfoundation.org   Eagles Nest Foundation is a 501(c)3 corporation. Contributions are tax-deductible.