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Stones of rememberance .. and the spirit of self control..

You’ve seen them.. the fish emblems that are on cars or vehicles .. a sign that the occupants or let’s say at the least the driver is a “believer” or Christian.

I don’t have one on my car because of the things that happen in traffic and driving that somehow can bring out the worst of ourselves when thoughtlessness, distractions and the need to be somewhere NOW just take over. Or we are listening to some praise songs, happily going on our way with a song rising to the day.  We are just full of a good heart…then some guy cuts us off , or a driver is on their cell phone and makes us miss a light we have been waiting long for. So.. although I handle such things by muttering under my breath, rather than other ways of sharing displeasure, it would be upsetting for  my mistakes in traffic or any other poor example to be what is remembered by those seeing the “fish”. Can I get a witness?

The fruit of the spirits which are to grow and exude in us as we decrease while He increases just amazing get so lost in traffic. The spirit of self control is is one of the fruits than can only grow, I am convinced by the “remembrance “of great favor and blessings..

Stay with me.. this is not about driving stories but the challenge of keeping in the fruit of His spirit when things are not going my ( our ) way.

I love how the Bible shows us in shadows and patterns the victories and failures of the human story.

In reviewing the “Hebrew ” children,  the Israelites continual falling into lacking self control.. came from a lack of remembrance of the great things, the incredible miracles, the “Red Sea” moments. One can read these scriptures  and think what is wrong with those people! God just whacked the whole nation of Egypt and took down the most powerful man in the known world. We would not doubt , nope not ever. had we been there. Come on already people you gotta step up. Admittedly I have thought this in the past..

How could they go from these incredible victories to grumbling so much they wanted to stone Moses. To erect idols to other gods.  This went on as they went “round that mountain’ over and over clicking off the years and a whole generation lost. So when they get to the promised land FINALLY.. ready to cross the Jordan….the Lord instructs Joshua very clearly about marking that moment.  After they are in obedience and awe inspiring faith carrying the Ark of the Covenant into the water,  when they had gotten into the middle of the river, and the priests feet stood firm ..then the waters rolled back so the people could cross over.

Joshua 4

4 Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the children of Israel, one man from every tribe; 5 and Joshua said to them: “Cross over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, 6 that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ 7 Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.”

I had lots of reasons to be thinking of these two things,  self control and blessings or stones of remembrance these past couple of months.
They really seem to tie together in the daily walking out our faith in the Christian life.

If you have been reading my recent posts, then you can imagine and likely empathize with the plight of people managing the times of financial stress, combined with practical demanding needs of our daily realities. Like paying the power bill or knowing God will  make a way when their is no evidence, zip, nada of anything to the contrary.Then there is the ministry.. a place full of some broken hearted children who need adults around them who have the range of the fruits of the spirit. Abundantly so. Threshing floor moments.

Such stresses will cause some to funnel all that anxiety to a focal point and as a leader, well some of that frequently will come my way. In other words these calamities must be my fault or there must be something I can do to fix them. So I see how people want to stone the leader. ( Not talking about these stones as ones of remembrance )
Some less than kind things can things can ramp up under those conditions. It happens really hard to absorb and other times not so bad but it is my response that matters.
God has me in a real test here in another way doesn’t  He?  Do I fall back on the numerous stones of remembrance of the truly amazing and miraculous ways He has delivered, provided, protected time and time again.   Oh I wish I could say yeah I am there.
Not without the spirit of self control… letting Him have it all. I mean all.
This is so hard sometimes I just don’t think I can do it at anymore… this whole ministry thing, the increasing pressure coming in so many directions. It is so seductive to have a pity party and go there… right where the children of Israel went, into grumbling and discouragement then despair.  The other side of  things in the spirit world is counting on that, because then we aren’t hearing God. We quit seeing the blessings, those glorious stones of remembrance.

Then only  do such test get passed.  Oh how I want not to keep going round that mountain! Also like the “fish” that is not on my car.. opportunities should not be missed for  encouragement and speaking out our faith in words, example and prayer or yes sometimes in a smile or touch.

Email is a wonderful tool but it can also be used in a flash of emotion and when one hits send... oh boy it can be a wrong move. Email also does not always provide the whole substance of what is written so the receiver has to use subjective reasoning about what was received.  Enter the spirit of self control. Subjective reasoning will get one in a whole peck of trouble.  The fruit of the spirit of self control gets back to a sound mind which can only come from when the Holy Spirit is allowed access.. I must decrease so He can increase.  Also the power of prayer allows for the laying down of the flesh for what He can change in hearts. It has to start with mine!

Upon receiving some recent negative chat back. I had to get still and wait. Struggling with thoughts, things that were just ready to jump out to be said or written. So I prayed and prayed and ask God to show me how to respond or not. When I am weak He is strong. God blesses that so much when we lay it down and say okay Lord, I cannot do it but You can. Show me, hold me,take my hand and give me the mind of Christ.  Infill me with self control. Sometimes like in the movie Bruce Almighty we want to smite them, not really but you know what I mean.

So, I pulled the covers over my head.. literally and asked God to handle it.  Oh my how He came through…

Galatians 5

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

So now I must share some blessings,  testimony, some stones of remembrance.

Yesterday:

Allowing several situations for prayer between people where HE showed himself strong. Situations where people were truly hard pressed and desperate for Him. During prayer turning the situation around so much a phone call came in that was an immediate answer to prayer. It happened over and over.

My knowing a  critical bill had to be paid for the ministry and not having one clue how to pay it but praying with others , alone with Him too and then laying it on the altar knowing it was out of my hands and into His. Speaking faith with others about it. THEN going to get the mail and finding how  a refund on past over payment for insurance came in and completely covered this need.Tje funds were almost a literal match.

How a fund raiser that had been held for our ministry results  came in today to cover another need. How someone literally dropped off funds in an envelope at the very gate of our property to a staff and said here take up to Carla. That felt very prophetic to me.

That a couple of men who have very generous hearts are donating a professional volley ball court in full construction, sand the works, to us and began work yesterday. The one gentleman told me with tears in his eyes that he wants to do it for our ministry as  memorial for a young woman who died at the tender age of 22 while in childbirth , a friend of his family. A literal stone of remembrance in physical and spiritual ways.

We prayed over the mother of our dear receptionist still speaking life and the Holy Spirit was so strong it was if the breath of Jesus was right there in the room.  ( please join us in Psalm 27 for Diane ) I watched the spirit of self control in the eyes, prayers and face of this amazing woman who keeps in hopeful faith with stones of remembrance during this very hard time.
He made a way for us in speeding up a process from the state of NC tied to our opening our second psychiatric treatment cottage that others said have taken them two- three months. I was told it would be 7-14 days.

A blessing but also a true “stone of remembrance”

Amy Carmichael who as referenced in my first  detailed post here says this about putting that Ark in the water:

The priests had to walk into the strong current of a  flooded river and stand still there.  What an order to scoff at and what a sight it would pose to other men. But it was not till they obeyed without a particle of  visible proof that they were doing right— and carried the ark right into the river that the water rolled back before them.  So may it be with us as we go on with God.
You and I maybe called again and again to walk right into our own “rivers”. whatever, they may be–to wet our feet in them. We maybe called to do what nobody understands, except to those whom the word of guidance is given and with it, His promise too.

She goes on to say ” But understand this:

The word must come first, and also His promise. You and I must be sure of what we are called to do. and with inward conviction that absolutely nothing can shake. In my own case, again and again, I have had to wet my feet in the water… Only God and those who have to walk in that path know how hard this kind of faith -life can be. But He does know. And when the people around us don’t hear the words and the voice we have heard, and only say it thunders… then He comes near and we know Him as we never knew Him before.

God direct me ( us ) today for seeing the stones of remembrances in our lives and using these  as a guidepost and mile marker in developing the spirit of self control.

Oh yes Lord help me not to forget your manifest benefits with a stone of remembrance.

Joshua 4

8 And the children of Israel did so, just as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones from the midst of the Jordan, as the LORD had spoken to Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them to the place where they lodged, and laid them down there. 9 Then Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests who bore the ark of the covenant stood; and they are there to this day.


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Looking up when others want you to look down

It is dark outside as I contemplate yesterday. As days go .. it was one that will be remembered in either one or two ways. I guess it depends on how we chose to think. We  do have choices about such things and what power is in that~ The choice to choose, review, ponder and set our thinking in what occurs around us.

So back to yesterday so you can see what I am talking about. Yesterday I went into work with a plan. I had spent time, quite a bit actually seeking Him, listening to praise music and “putting my armor on.” So, things should have rolled off, right? Here is where the rubber meets the literal road. My agency’s ministry was hoping for more in year end giving. ( It is still coming I just know it ) but on Monday when a payroll was to be given to our hard working team. ..there was  simply  not enough to do it. Reality  of the funds that were not yet in our system because ” the government ” checkwrite system for our professional fees for service in treating at risk and abused children took a hiatus for 3 weeks  and not providing payment till January 13th.

What to do?
We could pay for one week of our staff’s hard work instead of two till we could get through this. This would mean of course redoing the whole payroll, and then calling each staff ( we have 3 shifts ) to help them understand why were had to do this.

So here I go. Arrive at the campus to find the walkways  to our Administrative Clinical building are covered in ice which is a phenomenon in eastern NC. It is not normally that cold. As only it could happen one of our volunteers who was kindly helping with some landscaping must have put our sprinkler system back on automatic. Viola.. instant ice and lots of it.  This seeming small thing became a big thing. I got out of my car and went on the grass to avoid falling which proved to be a good decision and even the grass was slick too. A colleague who just had come back from being out with surgery gingerly joined me and we made it in.  Now as only it could happen our sweet spirit filled gatekeeper of the front desk had to come in late as her Mom was in the hospital and the Doctors wanted a word.
I take the weekend mail put it on her desk and run upstairs to let another colleague know we have a major”ice ” problem and expressed concerns about someone falling. The words were no further than out of my mouth than we thought we heard someone cry out.. yup the ice had caught up with a dear new staff who works in accounting ( her second week) .  She had seen the ice went around front but the door was still locked which would not be the norm

Do you see where this is going?

( receptionist out at important meeting about Mom ).  Our new staff did not have a key to the front door. She went around back and decided to try the sidewalk.. she fell and hard.  Our HR Director who does our payroll and I were rapidly catching up about the need to flip the payroll checks as one of our male leaders went outside to assist our fallen staff member. We are suddenly finding ourselves in the vortex of a washing machine of one event to another. Round and round we go being stuck on spin or are we?

We call for one of our RN’s from the Psychiatric treatment cottage to come up and she does and we are packing our wounded staff in ice

( irony in that ..hmm) . We also are praying and trying to get her some help. Mind you this person holds the keys of knowledge of how to integrate our software system to accommodate flipping this payroll. We utter nary a word to her.. pain and concern dominates that need. We are praying over here while doing the practical first aids things.
We get the outside  sidewalk ice covered in table salt and sand ( play therapy sand ) and get our new staff to the Doc. Whoa… she has broken her arm in two places. No expertise coming for our system not today… however she is choosing to believe she will be back to us in time that only the LORD can provide. Extra quick favor and healing Malachi 4:2

2 But to you who fear My name
The Sun of Righteousness shall arise
With healing in His wings;

We also realize the software for our payroll system has to be updated ( New Year ) and without doing that we mess up everyone’s tax tables and blow the system.  As only it can be at this point to add to the incoming  event calculator,  our IT Director has called in sick as a dog and cannot help us navigate this urgent need.  These checks had been written in 09 to plan for the upgrade.. we did not think we would have to be facing this particular collision of events. There are so many other events that also begin to spike but if I shared those this would become a novel instead of a blog. Trust me these were also formidable and confidential as we run a treatment ministry. Let’ suffice to say there was a lot on my mind and plate.

back to the story…

Then our dear receptionist returns with a very heavy “bad report’ from the Doctor. She is choosing not to receive it.

We immediately convened for prayer in my office and begin to pray out our faith.. choosing to look up when others want us to look down. Her mother is choosing to look up and not down picking Psalm 27.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%2027&version=NKJV#

We read this Psalm out loud when shared to the group that this is what her mother wants to be prayed.
Amazing connectivity and power in that Psalm.  Choosing to speak life

What about that armor ? I choose to believe that the Lord gave me a “sound mind” in the midst of this.   Otherwise the “voice that torments” would have gotten in to whisper fear, and anxiety.  We also had  people praying outside our walls that morning..  I had sent out a prayer alert at 6:30 AM to a select group of prayer warriors. The Lord told prompted me to do that … HE knew what was to be needed.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
2 Timothy 1:6-8

Score for the home team… PTL

We are still in the game with the main Quarterback directing our plays..
So where is the testimony to support looking up and not looking down:

  1. We prayed for favor and understanding from our staff and we got it (well most everybody )
  2. The Nurse who came up to help our wounded staff was the perfect one on duty for encouragement and walks in the power of choosing to look up and not down.
  3. The person in Raleigh who has the regulatory power to push for quick review on our cottage being upgraded for licensing with a higher per diem pay rate and a critical need for these children.. gave it and we set it up with all the stakeholders ( no minor thing .. this is huge )
  4. Supporters called in to check on us. .. prayers going up.
  5. Our IT Director persevered and chose to look up instead of down and got on line covered in quilts etc ( he really was feeling bad ) from his home and found the software needed it, purchased it, and got our back ups going.
  6. Our HR Director got creative and found other supports to help her overcome what is needed..
  7. We were ” hard pressed but not destroyed” and the encouragement which I am convinced is a survival tool in these last days for the body to one another was being spoken more than the words of discouragement. So it “spiritually ” multiplied itself with the power to look up and not down in faith…
  8. We got to practice joy in tribulation. We took captivity of the spirit of infectious fear. ( Amy Carmichael’s word for it )
  9. The children were and our team were prayed for more in a focused way.
  10. I ( we )  learned a lot..

As my faith hero in real life living Amy Carmichael has written

You can refuse the spirit of fear which never comes from God.

( and if He does not send it to us, who does ? )

Instead open your heart wide to the spirit of “power and love and a calm well balanced mind, and discipline and self control. Second Timothy 1:7 amplified

Because  fear is so infectious, let us for the sake of others and ourselves, refuse it.

Thank God~ Courgage is “infectious” as discouragement. Haven’t you often felt the cheer and strength that seems to flow from a person whose mind is fixed on God? I have.

And I have been thinking of another, a greater reason for refusing the spirit of fear.

When we are downhearted or fearful or weak we are saying to everybody( by the way we look and our timidity , if not by our words), “After all , our Lord can’t be absolutely trusted.”

Somewhere near us, though we do no seek them are otherwise. Men and women who we can see; and also good angels and evil spirits who we cannot see. To all of these , when we give into fear, we say the same dishonoring things.

We have a Savior who has never once failed us. He will never fail us. He has loved and led and guarded us all these years.

Look to Him now, and pray from the barren bedrock of your heart, if that is the ” ground” you are standing on. Lord give me courage.

~ From the Edges of His Ways. pg148.

Oh what a way to say it Amy! I am pondering it in my heart determined to choose to look up and not down. How will you choose today?

Off to see the choices of the day..

The pilgrim’s progress on the road  looking up and not down.