God’s refreshing rain

imageIn South Australia where I live the land is hot and dry. We’ve had cloud that looks like it should rain, but it doesn’t produce anything. It’s been teasing us, making promises but never producing. We had a few drops every now and then, and it looks like we might get a good downpour that might do some good, but it stops before it’s even started.

For many years it’s been a bit like that around Australian charismatic church circles. We’ve had revivals probably about every decade, but for the majority the experience hasn’t produced the kind of fruit in our lives that it should have. We’ve chased after each new movement to have our spiritual tanks topped up, but there hasn’t been a permanent commitment for anything of lasting value. For the most part it has been about us rather than God and others.

But now I am seeing a wonderful thing happening. People, who’s faith had become stagnant, are now crying out for something much deeper in God. I can see people changing. God is raising up an army of Christian soldiers who have been pushing through the tough times in prayer. They are now seeing God do some amazing things in peoples lives. What is happening is that, instead of people just wanting a good experience, they are now crying out for more of God. And God responds to those who are hungry and thirsty for Him. He is responding with His healing and restorative love. And now it feels like it’s beginning to rain!

There’s an old song we used to sing in the 80’s that’s been on my mind a lot lately.

It’s beginning to rain, hear the voice of the Father saying “whosoever will come drink of this water. I promise to poor my Spirit out on your sons and your daughters. If you’re thirsty and dry, look up to the sky, it’s beginning to rain.”

Last night we had that experience in our Connect Group after we spent a considerable amount of time in worship. As soon as we started to pray for people, they were affected by the power of the Holy Spirit. It was like they were standing under a waterfall with the water showering over them. It was an amazing thing to witness.

“May he come down like rain upon the mown grass. Like showers that water the earth.” Psalm 72:6

He carried me

imageWas there a time in your life when you felt utterly abandoned and alone where you thought you would never get through the storm you were going through? And you felt that no one understood or even cared? Are you going through something now that seems so beyond you and you feel that you’re going to drown?

I have been through such storms in my life where I didn’t think anything was ever going to change. I had been in it so long that I believed that I was incapable of changing the situation. The truth is, I couldn’t. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t stop the battering waves from trying to take me. I didn’t know how to reach God and I couldn’t seem to get him to hear or respond. But years later, I realise looking back, that God was with me all the time. I just didn’t know it then.

But now I can recount many times in my life when God protected me from grievous harm. I can also see where he has used those times in my life where I thought there was no hope, to enable me to sympathise and help others get through their distress. I believe in the power of prayer, so I often do so, and God always hears me. And he got me through the storms!

If you are going through an extreemly difficult time, call someone you trust that you can talk to, who will be able to help you and point you in the right direction. If you don’t have a trusted friend, cry out to Jesus and ask him to lead you to or send the right person along. This has worked in my life and I trust that Jesus will do that for you.

Theres a beautiful peom called ‘Footprints in the Sand’ which says:

One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.

After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.

This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You’d walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”

He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.”

– by Mary Stevenson

The Dying Art of Contemplation

imageLooking at this painting helps me to remember the importance of taking the time to stop, allow ourselves to rest and take stock of where we are going in our lives.

I was thinking about how much life has changed in the past 20 years. Its hard to believe that it was only 10 years ago that Facebook was launched to the public, which by the way, has been a great outlet for those who are isolated from their community and can’t get out to meet people. The trouble now is that people prefer this as a way of connecting rather than face to face. And as a result, I feel that we are not as friendly with each other as we used to be.

I’ve also observed that it’s too easy to pick up our eletronic device to be entertained by the lastest thing. We don’t allow ourselves to take stock or develop our own thoughts because we are driven by someone else’s. I also think that it robs us of our ability to sit quietly and listen to the voice of wisdom. The world we live in now is fast paced and hectic. There’s so much information out there that it’s impossible to absorb it. If we tried we would end up with information overload. We are forced to embrace technology, and if we don’t move along with it, we run the risk of becoming a nobody and miss out on opportunities.

Don’t get me wrong I’m glad we have it, because it opens up doors that would have taken forever to open, if at all. As a writer, I really appreciate it. But there are individuals I see who really struggle with this, and they have become a demographic of people that are ‘out of sight, out of mind’, living behind closed doors in a house somewhere in the abyss of suburbia.

I remember my grandparents talk about the days of the great depression when communities helped each other and neighbours dropped in for a cup of tea. As I look over old family photos, I recall how we used to ‘muck around’, joke, sing and play together. Yes we used to fight, but the memories we created far outweigh the difficulties we shared as a family. We travelled from place to place in a car too small for the amount of people in it. We went to the park and had picnics. We played cricket and football. And we valued family gatherings with the relatives. When we went on vacations we didn’t take a phone or an ipad because there wasn’t such a thing. We didn’t watch TV or put on the radio. Instead we spent many hours taking in the scenery, playing and eating. When we became adults we took the time to enjoy friends, listen to records, read or just do nothing. We gave ourselves time to be regenerated.

I am reminded that God in his wisdom urged us to observe the Sabbath and keep it holy. Why did he say that? So that we can be refreshed and apreciate him on this day. To take stock and to listen to Him. Sunday was the day we didn’t work, the shops were closed, we went to church and we rested. God knew we needed it so that we could be refreshed and ready to take on the challenges of the next week. For me it’s a time to reflect on what God says in his word, to check the direction I am taking in my life, and to listen to what he is saying to me. Its a chance to be spiritually, physically and emotionally refreshed.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.” Psalm 23:1-3