Wednesday, October 28, 2009

When provision does not meet your expectation

Wow...I didn't mean for the title of this blog to actually sound like a sermon title :) I tried to figure other word orders, but this is the only one that made it clear. I touched on this subject a few months ago, when we first arrived in Colorado. Little did I know that it would just be scratching the surface.
As we have been attending school, reading the Word, listening for the voice of God to show us the next step...we hit some bumps in the road... some rather large bumps. And many of those "bumps" has been God's provision looking WAY different than we anticipated.

There is a teaching that I remember hearing several years back, it became quite popular: "Name it and Claim It!" And although I completely agree that our words are powerful, this teaching gave me a false sense of control. I began thinking that what I had in my head would come to pass. This concept, by itself, is not the problem. The problem comes when God's provision shows up and you are disappointed and frustrated. Maybe you even complain a little. This idea has been knocking around in my head for awhile, but it became perfectly clear as I was reading Exodus. We all know the story: Pharaoh killing babies, Moses saved, burning bush, miracles, plagues, Red Sea parted. Then the children of God are in the wilderness. God has just defeated the Egyptians and they walked through water upon dry land. They sing a beautiful song to the Lord in chapter 15. Then in chapter come the grumblings.

"The whole congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The sons of Israel said to them, 'Would that we had died by the Lord's hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.'" Exodus 16:2,3

Then the Lord responds to this blatant insult to His faithfulness by saying, "Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you..." Ex 16:4.

Okay, now let's stop there for a moment. God has just told you He is going to rain bread from heaven for you. Lets be honest, people do not think in words...we think in pictures. What picture is in your head right now? I see a beautiful loaf of french bread, piping hot, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. And it is slowly descending from the sky and lands perfectly in my hands. I do not know what bread looked like to the Israelites...but lets keep reading.

"...and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the layer of dew evaporated, behold, on the surface of the wilderness there was a fine flake-like thing, fine as the frost on the ground. When the sons of Israel saw it, they said to one another, 'What is it?' For they did not know what it was. and Moses said to them, 'It is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat." Ex 16:13-15

The Lord is faithful and loving. And Exodus even tell us later in the chapter, that 'Manna" tasted like wafers with honey. I guarantee it did not have to taste enjoyable to sustain them...but God is a good God. But come DID NOT look like bread! There are some bible scholars that believe "Manna" was actually edible insect excrement. And lets think about what was happening in the natural (again, thinking in pictures) this stuff was on the ground. I don't know if the 'wilderness' was sand or dirt...but it is possible some of it got onto the manna.

Another example: Elijah by the brook of Cherith in 1 Kings 17. There was a drought in the land, and God told Elijah to go to a stream and He would send ravens to bring him bread and meat. Probably most of us have seen ravens digging around trash cans, terrorizing other birds...not the bird I would choose to bring me dinner.

This is not in any way to discourage you in believing for the provision of God. And praying and standing for something should not be avoided. I am simply saying that we cannot get so focused on our desires and needs...that we lose sight of the desires and purposes of God.

These two examples have very different endings. Although both were supernaturally provided for- Israel grumbled and complained about their provision and never entered the promised land. Directly after being at the stream of Cherith, (no grumbling to be heard of) Elijah went on to be the first person in scripture to raise someone from the dead. It was only a short period of time that Elijah was fed by ravens...and after? He was blessed! Elijah's end is God taking him on a chariot to heaven!! Hallelujah. I will eat from the ravens...and be blessed! And I will be blessed thereafter!

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Great Escapist

Please bear with me through this entry...My brain has been swimming the last week or so, and I hope I can explain clearly enough for you to see a glimpse of what God has been speaking to me...

People deal with outward pressure in many different ways. Some take it head on, some cry, some throw things and yell. I don't deal with it in any of these ways. I escape. I don't run away from my family or disappear for hours- no, I lose myself in a book, movie, daydreams or I take a nap. I have always felt this is the good way to handle things. There is no screaming, bad attitude or tears, just apathy. It seemed like such a good alternative to worry.

I have been studying the life of Abraham in scripture. We have received so many encouragements and words about us being like Abraham. I find great strength in the story, but what I wish was included is how Abraham felt. Was he scared? Did he doubt? Did he cry or ever get angry?
We know that he feared for his life, and so in doing was not trusting God when he lied to the Egyptians about Sarai being his sister. Mostly what we have to go on is facts. And scripture clearly states:

"...Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness" Romans 4:3

So, it comes down to belief...trusting in God. But here is the rub...

"Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah's womb;
yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. Therefore IT WAS ALSO CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS." Romans 4:19-22

So, how do we do this, seemingly impossible thing? How do we 'contemplate' our circumstances without growing weak in our faith?
Which brings me back to my original point, escape. Instead of thinking about what is going on around me and praising God for what He can accomplish. I "run away" from my surroundings.

Then God confirmed this word in an unexpected way. I had been thinking about this concept and even written a paragraph about being an escapist, when I sat in on a class at 'Miracle School' which is part of Schlyce Jimenez Ministries (we met her through another student at CBC). One of the verses she brought up (and I literally laughed out loud when she said this):

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of ESCAPE also, so that you will be able to endure it." 1 Corinthians 10:13

Then, Schlyce made a point to say the next verse in context with verse 13:

"Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry."1 Corinthians 10:14

She said, 'Any escape you devise, other than what God has provided is idolatry'.
Um, wow. And what is the escape God has provided, you ask? The Word. To speak the Word.

Josh and I are enduring storms, and they tempt us to tuck tail and run. The enemy is trying to get us to doubt what God has said to us.

I am reminded of Jesus. After he was baptised and God made a declaration of who he was, he went into the wilderness. Jesus had no fruit of his ministry, no proof of what God had spoken. And the enemy said to him, "IF you are the Son of God..." trying to get Jesus to doubt who God said he was. But Jesus knew the way of escape, it was to speak the Word.

And even though I may have to do it through tears...I will speak the Word.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Worst case senario...

Well, it happened...I had a REAL bad day. The second day we were here we went to look for a house/townhouse. Every time we found something we liked and got excited- we would be rejected because of our lack of current employment. I should have expected as much...but I anticipated doors to be flung open once we got here. But that didn't happen. In fact, all doors that we have tried up until today (Tuesday- 8/11) have been closed or never opened. Josh is amazing. He takes everything in stride, it takes much more for him to get discouraged. But me, that is another story... There are 2 visions inside my head: one is full of hope, beauty and peace, the other is full of failure and fear. Every time my thoughts go to the vision of fear, I stop myself (take my thoughts captive). But I must admit, there is fear. It amazes me that I can have so much faith and so much doubt that co-exist.

So, this is the story thus far. We have to return the truck tomorrow. Yes- all of our stuff has been on a truck for a week (awesome). :) We have no place to put it, so we are putting it in storage (free for a month). We are staying at a wonderful couples home, Bruce & Joyce Ball. They are incredible with our kids, and completely perfect hosts. They have offered for us to stay at their home as long as we need. This has humbled me more than I ever anticipated to ever be humbled. I do not want to inconvenience these wonderful people anymore than I already have, but the simple fact is...we have no where to go.

So, what I have learned: God has provided for our family. God has not provided in ways I would prefer. :) But I cannot deny, there is food in our stomachs, and a roof over our head. This has caused me to dig deeper into myself, in a place I would have rather not disturbed. My source. My comfort. My peace. Where does this come from? Does it come from a sense of ownership in where I lay my head? A job? A flat screen TV or a certain amount of square footage? As I had these thoughts, God said two things to me. The first was: "I want to be your source. I want to be your only source." and the second was a verse:

"The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." Matthew 8:20

Jesus had no home of his own, but he stayed with people that were blessed to have him. And he was able to bless them by staying. And since my situation is only temporary...there is no shame in it. Just because my pride is screaming shrilly about it, doesn't mean it wasn't what God always intended.

I will end with this thought, in which I find GREAT comfort. Incredible men and women of God that came before me had complete screw ups. Abram lied about his wife, Sarai manipulated, Jacob deceived, David had a man murdered; but God did amazing things through them. So I know I am not a lost cause... :)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

the road trip


Yesterday felt like some average road trip to Ohio. The landscape looks familiar and it just feels like a temporary escape. Josh and I have to remind ourselves that we will not be returning to the Spring Hill house, that this is more than just a visit. We stopped in Kansas City to see some friends (Darin & Autumn Scholl- friends from Josh’s childhood). It was wonderful to sleep on a comfy bed and hang out with friends- again, just a road trip. But today…ah, yes…today is different. We know that we will arrive in Colorado Springs this evening, and the landscape is changing.

A side (Carla) note:

I hardly recognize myself these days...

But I think I was born for this. I remember as a kid acting out scenes of a western that was in my head. I was a rancher tackling the Wild West, and being a girl- it wasn’t easy. :) But somewhere along the way, I lost myself. Maybe it was insecurity, maybe it was listening to people around me tell me what I was capable of- I am not sure... But I have rediscovered myself, or maybe I am remembering who God made me to be. Something has switched: I have stopped telling God who I am. I am now letting Him tell me who He made me to be. They are very different. And I must say, I like His version of me a lot better.

So, here we go. God has provided a loving, inviting couple to host us for a few days when we arrive in Colorado. They are attending Charis Bible College as well as us this fall. It is so amazing to me that God knits complete strangers together. That in the name of Jesus, people from different walks can be so close. So we will be looking tomorrow (Thursday) for our house. We just need to find the one God has set aside for us...

Friday, July 31, 2009

How the Story Began...

Our Family & Friends,

Josh and I have been on very different journeys over the last year; which have ended up at the same place, and for us, that can only mean God. Starting in February 2008 God has been preparing our hearts for ministry. I fought it for a long time (sort of a put my fingers in my ears and hum kind of fighting.) But God is patient and incredibly loving, and he gently pulled me out of my fears. My fear of losing control, my insecurities, and my crippling fear of failure.

Through a long and strange list of events, Josh became interested in a teacher: Andrew Wommack of “Andrew Wommack Ministries” based out of Colorado Springs. His teachings have really encouraged and taught Josh and me things that have been life-changing. Josh found out that Andrew had a bible college “Charis Bible College” in Colorado Springs, and mentioned that it would be great to go. I was not hearing that! We had just purchased a home in Spring Hill, I loved our church- Bethel in Franklin, loved Caleb’s school and I was comfortably settled. It was not in my plan to go anywhere! However, somewhere REALLY deep down, I thought Josh might be right- we are supposed to go… I got really upset and stormed upstairs. I remember crying and having a complete pity party. My thoughts were going something like this- “God, why are you doing this to me?!”- “I love my house, I don’t want to leave!”- “Why are you always picking on me?!” Awful, isn’t it? Then the very gentle, loving voice of God said to my spirit “Carla, I can give you another house. There are lots of houses. What would you rather have: stuff or fulfill your purpose on this earth?” Ouch…

In September, Andrew Wommack came to Johnson City, TN. Josh was so excited he could barely contain himself. He wanted me to go along too, but we couldn’t find childcare, so I was going to stay home. I really felt God pressing me to go along too- so we loaded up the whole crew and drive 4 ½ hours to Johnson City. I don’t know if you are familiar with Johnson City, but it is in the middle of nowhere…

We arrived Saturday evening to the service. Andrew spoke about Elijah and how he did not come from a line of prophets, and wasn’t from anywhere special. But God gave him a word and he obeyed. God sent him to the king, the husband of Jezebel- who was killing the Lord’s prophets. Elijah obeyed, and God only told him step one! I am the kind of person that needs to see the whole picture. When God asks me to do something, I need to know the outcome before I act. That is not what Elijah did. He went and told the king there would be a drought. After Elijah obeyed step one, God told him step two: go to the stream, to a place I will send the ravens to bring you bread and flesh. God provided for Elijah- but Elijah’s provision was where God told him to go.

Andrew then talked about people sitting there in the service, God had given them a word, but they were not obeying. I felt like a neon sign lit up right above my head saying “HERE SHE IS!” Andrew went on to say, these people weren’t obeying because they were afraid of what their family would think of them, that they didn’t come from anything special, and that they were afraid God would let them down (BINGO). I didn’t trust God. I felt He had let me down in the past and I was so jaded from the experience that my heart was hardened toward Him. When Andrew was done speaking he asked those people who were being disobedient to stand, he was going to pray for us. It took Andrew prompting 3 times before I finally gave in and stood up. The second that I did, I felt God’s pleasure with me, and I saw a very clear picture in my minds eye of my family in Colorado.

My focus was off, I didn’t trust God to do anything for me, even give me another house. But through teachings, books, and God revealing himself to me in personal ways I began to understand His love for me. And where does trust come from? It comes from love. If you do not understand how much you are loved, you cannot possibly trust. But God has revealed himself to Josh and I- we are GREATLY loved. And when I got a revelation of that love (just scratching the surface) I feel like I can/will do anything. I will let go of my dream house, my roots in a city, even my control for that kind of love.

So, we are off…to a great adventure… I have no idea what is coming, and I must admit, I am afraid. But when I meditate on the love that I have experienced- all my fears seem to just melt. We greatly covet your prayers on: finding the perfect house in Colorado and finding the job(s) God has for us...Here we go…love, carla & josh