I have come into the deep waters–the floods engulf me. I am worn out from calling for help! Do not let the flood waters engulf me or the depths swallow me up.
Psalm 69:1-2, 5
I woke up with a start. Sweat beaded my brow. My heart was racing. My arms aimlessly beat the air. The nightmare seemed so real that my bed and surroundings did not. I blinked in the darkness trying to get my bearings.
Be joyful in the Lord your God. For the rain he sends demonstrates his faithfulness. Once more the autumn rains come. The threshing floors will be piled high with grain, and the presses will overflow with new wine and olive oil.
In the last days I will send My Spirit on all people. Then your sons and daughters will speak God’s Word. Your old men will dream dreams and your young men will see visions. Yes, on My servants, both men and women, I will pour out My Spirit in those days.
The Christian church has tended to forget the religious value of dreams.
Morton Kelsey: Dreams: A Way to Listen to God
I’ve been slowly making my way through the book of Ezekiel this summer. It’s not a book of the Bible most folks spend a lot of time in. One reason for this is all of the supernatural visions and dreams that Ezekiel has. They can be very confusing to understand.
Stuart Briscoe wrote a book years back based on Ezekiel, titled “All Things Weird and Wonderful.” I like that title! It is precisely because it is weird and wonderful that I was drawn to sit down with it for a spell.
I determined from the get-go, however, not to read it analytically, like we Americans tend to do with almost everything. Instead, I took my reading cue from Jesus, who said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like a little child, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Children accept things at face value. They are neither put off by fairy tale images nor do they try to relegate those images to hard, discernable facts. They get swept away in the imagery, as if they were there in the story experiencing it for themselves. That’s what I wanted to do.
Has this ever happened to you? You’re dreaming, and in your dream someone starts to chase you. So you set off running. Only, to your horror, you discover your legs are sluggish. Try as you might to pick up the pace, you find yourself running in slow motion.
Professionals who study our dreams say that this occurs because our mind, though sleeping, functions as though it is wide awake, whereas our bodies go out cold; they are limp and unresponsive.
That’s sort of what sin does in our lives. It makes us sluggish, slow to respond. Like a ball and chain around our ankle, it hinders us from running as fast as we can away from it.
We’re in a wet weather pattern in my little corner of the country. Day and night storms redevelop over the same oversaturated areas, flooding farm fields and basements. Streams and rivers spill out far beyond their banks...mudslides wreak havoc.
Sometimes the weight of the world feels as if it rests directly on my shoulders. I'm a burden-bearer by nature, so it only stands to reason that whatever happens to ail this poor, old world of ours, ails me, too.
I anguish in prayer over Ukraine, I pray for a change of heart for Putin, I grieve deeply over the young girls stolen from their family's and forced to relinquish their faith in Nigeria. My heart breaks for the tens of thousands of folks flooded out of their homes in Serbia.
I am awakened at night over the state of affairs in our country. All the violence. The perversion. And the impact our adult decisions are having on our children.
Experiences in life...may turn out to be a great disappointment or perhaps they may be full of enchanting surprises.
As my hubby sat making hotel reservations one evening for an upcoming conference in Milwaukee, he asked if I wanted to tag along. Pictures of quiet strolls on the River-walk and a little shopping trip in the up-and-coming Historic Third Ward soon filled my head. So, of course I said, “Yes!”
My Grandpa Simey was a gentle man of few words. In today's dog-eat-dog world his quiet leadership would probably be overlooked. But, a child's heart is drawn to quiet leadership like a moth to flame. At least that was the case for me. And judging by all of our old black and white photos - it was the case for my unc' as well. It didn't matter where Gramps was or what he was doing, we wanted to be there in his shadow.
A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.
I can’t imagine what life would be like without friends. My life has been so incredibly enriched by the vast variety of friends God has blessed my life with over the years. And it’s precisely that variety that I love most about friendship. Each one is a marvel and a gift...uniquely and divinely God-designed. Just like snowflakes, no two friends or friendships are the same.
Winter is on my head...and down my boots...but eternal spring is in my heart. (my paraphrase)
Winter blew in another foot of snow onto our already knee-deep supply. I'm beginning to think spring will never come. In fact, I can't help but wonder, after two miserable winters in a row, if we might not be entering a new Ice Age!!
We have become accustomed to traveling through life at lightning speed. The alarm clock rings and we hit the floor running. We fill every waking moment scurrying in three different directions. And we’re intentional about everything…we take business lunches so we can kill two birds with one stone. Even taking walks these days has morphed into exercise…no more leisurely strolls for us…we speed walk! For all of the time we spend penciling in our calendars and uploading our iPads and smartphones, somehow we still seem to be forever running late. And if you have kiddos, add in their piano lessons, play practice, ball practice and homework to squeeze in there somewhere. If we can find time to sit down together as a family for supper, we end up rehashing all the details of our chaotic lives, as we shovel our meal in as fast as we can, so we can all get to wherever it is that we are going to next.
In his book, Time Wars, Jeremy Rifkin states, "We are a nation in love with speed. We drive fast, eat fast...we’re obsessed with breaking records. We digest our life, condense our experiences and compress our thoughts. While other cultures might believe haste makes waste, we are convinced that speed reflects alertness, power and success. Americans are always in a hurry."
But, according to James Bryan Smith, the author of the book, The Good and Beautiful God, hurry is not a part of a well-lived life. He says that the #1 spiritual sickness in our day is hurry sickness.
God spreads snow like wool...who can endure the freezing cold? Then God gives the command and it begins to melt. He breathes on winter - suddenly it is spring
Psalm 147:16, 18
Gray days. Subzero temperatures. Wind-chills. Snowstorms. And polar vortex’s. I think even the heartiest of winter enthusiasts are beginning to pine for brighter days when temperatures climb back up above zero for good.
January is the perfect month to take a pulse on your spiritual well-being. Here are a few things that I ask myself periodically. I pray that they will prove
What are you feeding your soul with these days? Are you subsisting on empty calories of excessive TV and movie watching, the Internet, Facebook, talk or sports radio, romance novels, etc.?
*Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:33-34 that if we fill our hearts with unhealthy things, it will inevitably be exposed by our attitudes and speech. What comes out of our mouths reflects what we’ve taken into our hearts.
I’ve been journaling my way through the book of Jeremiah lately. As I sat soaking in chapter 18, the following story-form devotional took shape in my mind. If you should decide to spend some time with it, know that it will require imagination and creativity on your part. Don’t let the details trip you up; simply move through the story seeing yourself as the main character.
Before you get started, take a minute or two to sit quietly at Jesus’ feet. Be sure to have a journal and pencil to jot down anything that the Holy Spirit may stir in you throughout this meditation. Ask Him to whisper His heart and His desires for you as you journey together to...the Art Class.
In a wealthy home some vessels are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive vessels are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. If you keep yourself pure, you will be a vessel for honorable use...ready for the Master to use for every good work.
You made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun always knows when to set.
It's happening again. Just as it happens every autumn here in the Upper Midwest. We're losing daylight. Shadows are lengthening. The sun struggles to brighten the morning sky. And, before we've had much chance to relish it, it quickly slips away again into the evening.
We Heart Matters Publishing gals care about women. Their joys. Their struggles. Their everyday, ordinary lives. We write from those very same places hoping to uplift, challenge and encourage your soul and deepen your faith.
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I’m turning 62 this year. I can hardly believe it myself. But, I’ve decided that I no longer want to live comfortably. I want to live with a spirit of adventure like I had in the past. To be unafraid of what’s new or different. I want to remain so open to the Spirit of the living God that his love compels me to go wherever he leads me.
I am passionate about people leaning into all that Jesus is. You. Me. Us. Journeying together with God. This is my greatest blessing. And now that my kiddos are out on their own, I’m learning to navigate my new normal. And I am finding there is life after little ones and teens after all!
I am currently finishing my degree in relational communications and plan to graduate in the spring of 2020!! I am thankful I have had time to grow, heal, appreciate a slower pace of living, and to invest more time into relationships with family, friends, and God. Through this process I am learning what I want to prioritize in my life and figuring out ways to make that happen. Most of all, I am figuring out that life is all about process, taking steps closer to where I want to be and celebrating the little victories but also accepting that there will be setbacks and disappointments along the way.
Sally Cranham is a singer and writer from the UK. She uses biblical narrative and her own experience to write deeply into the heart of the human condition. She currently works as a volunteer for SourceMN as their Arts Outreach Coordinator and has lived as a Residential Volunteer at Source’s anti-trafficking transitional annex alongside women who have come out of the life of prostitution.