Before I can share about the trip, I have to continue the story from the worship conference because of God's faithfulness and goodness. As some of you know, I had sent out ministry E-mails asking for your help financially and prayerfully, for about two months leading up to the departure date for this trip.
As the Worship conference began on Sept, 17th, I still needed $900.00, and I was leaving for Israel on that Sunday, Sept 20th, the day after the conference was over. You have to love God's timing on these things.
During the two days of the conference, I was getting some money in but by Saturday night, the last night of the conference, I was still short of what was needed. I told God that He had about 12-14 hours to get it done or I would have bought a plane ticket for nothing. Well as you know, God did provide as Pastor Derek spoke that last night at the conference and surprised me by taking up an offering for my trip. Praise the Lord as people gave so generously and I came home that night with what was needed. The Lord is amazing and how He works these things out to complete what He says He will do. Praise the Lord!
Okay, now about the trip! Getting out of here on Sunday was not easy, in fact, because of the severe storms in Atlanta, where my connecting flight to Israel was, I was bumped off of two flights, made the third one but had to sit on the runway in Chicago for almost 2 hours before getting into Atlanta later that night around 1:00 am and missing my flight to Israel.
Thanks to my friend Vance Murphy and the wonderful people of the Atlanta Revival Center, I had a place to stay for the night and I received the best southern hospitality you could ever imagine. I was able to catch the flight out to Israel the next night (Monday night) and then made it into Tel Aviv, Israel on Tuesday evening since they are ahead of us time wise.
What a view and feeling to see the lights of Jerusalem at dusk as you climb up the mountain, via the shuttle, and see the stars above and the desert like terrain with hills all around. Coming into Jerusalem for the first time is something I will never forget. Seeing familiar faces from our group was also a welcome. The next 12 days in Israel was so incredible. At times I almost had to pinch myself as I was still in shock that I was even there.
Since I was two days late in joining up the team, I missed ministering to the Palestinian refugees. I was very blessed though to have led worship on three seperate night services at the Fathers House in Bethlehem.
It was amazing and life changing to go into Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, Jerusalem, the empty tomb of Jesus, the Upper Room, the Dead Sea, Jericho, the Jordan River, the mountain of temptation, the Western Wall, Sea of Galilee and Tiberius. These places were incredible to see and experience. It now makes the bible come alive when I read it but for me that was still not the major highlights of this trip.
The highlights for me were other moments, off the beaten path so to speak, that God showed Himself and even overwhelmed me with His presence. I shared previously in an update email while I was there regarding one of those precious moments. For me it was an encounter that will be forever etched in my mind. Here is the account of what took place:
A very impactful moment here this past week was when we went up to the Temple Mount, where the Dome of the Rock is. This is of course controlled by the Muslims inside of Jerusalem, for those who are not aware of this. This area is highly monitored and many times video and photography is discouraged, but we had favor on the day we were there in the early morning hours and not many people had yet started coming.
The lower level below the Dome is now accessible for the Jews, which we saw Hebrew students coming in with armed soldiers, and what a sight to see when you have always lived in America where we have freedom to go where we want.
You are not allowed to pray anywhere on the Temple Mount, unless you are a Muslim, but of course we did pray in the spirit as we walked around the whole area. We made our way down towards the Eastern Gate, which is completely sealed and blocked up. The Muslims did this because they say, if Jesus is real and He does come back, He will not be able to do so now as described in the bible, because they sealed the gate. Interesting theory!
As we were down by the Eastern Gate, we met up with a group of Koreans who were praying for the reunion of North and South Korea and their desire to intercede for Israel as one nation. It was such a God moment as we were hidden in that particular area by trees and no one could see that all of us there praying with these Korean Christians. The Holy Spirit just flooded us with such an incredible anointing that we just begin to weep under the His presence for Israel and for a unified Korea. That moment in time will be forever engraved in my memory. God's spirit was heavy upon us that day.
It truly was a God moment; it was like God put a shield around us as we prayed and worshiped Him on the Temple Mount and for that moment in time, there was not one other tourist, Muslim or Israeli soldier that came into that area until we were done. It was as if God had surrounded us all with His angels and kept us hidden for His purpose that morning and we may never fully understand why.
Another incredible experience for me and I know for the others who were there, was when we went to Jericho, where the mountain of temptation is and the stream of Elijah flows from. In that small little stream, Vance Murphy and Lisa Bourland prayed, prophesied and baptized us in that stream. That was such a powerful event.
When I led worship for the first time at the Fathers House in Bethlehem, I was actually very tired. As I said earlier, since leading worship for 3 days at the worship conference before coming to Israel, I was vocally drained besides being physically tired. But God is always more then faithful when we take a step or do something for Him.
As I began to lead worship, the presence of the Lord was sweet in those first few songs, but once we got to a certain chorus where we were all singing, in one accord, "Holy, Holy, Holy are You Lord" I began to have an open air vision - while I was singing. Now this is something I have asked the Lord for but up until now it has never happened.
As the vision began to unfold, I was seeing the blue sky above Jerusalem and it had no clouds. And as it was in the story of Elijah, I too began to see a small cloud coming towards me, the size of a man's hand. As it got closer, the cloud began to grow in size, and began to turn from white to a transparent gold color but at the same time was much brighter than the white.
As it got closer to me, I was still singing Holy are You Lord, but then the Lord began to arise and appear from within the cloud and with such royal majesty I wanted to stop and bow but knew I wasn't supposed to because He was going to speak.
As He looked at me, I couldn't make out the features of His face, but His eyes burned with fire, like it was a fire filled with such love and compassion that it is still very hard to describe. He was looking over Jerusalem and then it was like He was overlooking over the entire world by the depth of His gaze, for some reason I just knew that.
He began to speak and say "Behold I am coming! The time is drawing near and my word will go forth in the power and might of my name. Israel will know my name and they will come to me in due season. I Am the lamb that was slain and I Am He who will also return to my bride without spot or blemish and you will know me more intimately as I have desired you too. Worship and exalt me for Who I am and I will return in glory and you will be with me in that appointed time and season. Do not fear the words and lies of the one who accuses you before me day and night, but take the authority I have made possible to you through the cross and the Holy Spirit and posses all that I have already given to you." said the Lord.
And then the vision was gone and I was still singing and worshiping Him there in the Fathers House with God's people. I couldn't even share it then or even that night as I was not even sure as to what just happened. But the Lord was doing something and He was not done yet.
The second time that I led worship at the Fathers House in Bethlehem; the Lord began to show me another vision. This time it was different in that it was still while I was leading worship and it was very short but it was for the Fathers House. The Lord began showing me the Fathers House building itself, there in Bethlehem on Manger Street. Then Jesus came down, took His sword out and began to slice the building into slices like you would bread. As He did this, those slices were then turning into new buildings but they all had The Fathers House name on them on the outside as they were being planted in new areas and locations.
The Lord spoke to me, that He was about to expand the Fathers House ministry into many parts of the world. There has been already, but they will see an increase of finances and also a major support of expansion for the Fathers House through other ministries and churches. It will truly be a kingdom effect from start to finish. What an awesome God we serve!
A few days later, around 4:30 am the Lord awoke me; which in this case was unusual because around this time every morning you hear the call to prayer from the Islamic towers around Bethlehem, and they are loud.
As I was trying to go back to sleep, the Lord dropped a chorus into me, words and music but I was still half asleep. As I tried to go back to sleep again, the song got stronger and then I realized the Lord was downloading a new song into me. I reached over for my cell phone and turned on the recorder built in it and started singing it right away since I didn't have any keyboard in the hotel to write the song with.
Since returning back home, I was able to finish it very quickly and I have sung it several times while leading worship at church the past three weeks. The title of the song is "I Will Exalt You," which I now understand came from what the Lord was showing me in the first vision and in Psalms 118, which He took me to in the bible when the song was almost done.
I'm also excited to say that now another song has now been written. Still untitled, the song can best be described as a love letter to the Lord. I also have two more songs in the works. God has opened up the "songs from heaven room" since my trip to Israel. I rejoice because of His incredible goodness and mercy.
One last thing I will share in closing, regarding the Israel trip. I missed my wife and children greatly and do not ever want to go away that long again without them. With that being said, I will share that driving back to the airport in Tel Aviv and having to get on the plane to come back home was also the hardest thing.
In my heart and spirit, I was truly saddened, like I was leaving my home and family all over again. I can't explain it except to say that Israel is in my heart, spirit, soul, body and mind forever. There is a connection that takes place in you once you go there. The Lord spoke to my heart that night on the plane coming home and said, "Do not be sad, this was your first of many trips to Israel to come." I was forever connected to Israel and I experienced a love for the people both Jewish and Palestinian, and knew that I would be coming back.
I do want to thank, each and everyone of you who made this trip a reality. From your giving financially to praying for me, I am humbled and thankful by your continued support for this ministry.