{re}fresh

Month: April, 2016

Let It Rain!

by Rob Dunne

Be glad then, you children of Zion, And rejoice in the Lord your God; For He has given you the former rain faithfully, And He will cause the rain to come down for you— The former rain, And the latter rain in the first month. Joel 2:23

When I moved to New York City, I got rid of my car. It was too expensive to keep and public transportation is easily accessible. When my new boss told me that we had a court appearance out on Staten Island, I said to myself, “No problem. I will take the ferry and catch a bus to the courthouse. Piece of cake!” Then the rain came.

Normally, the ferry was a smooth ride. After all, we were only crossing New York Harbor. That day, the storm was rocking the boat back and forth like an exhausted mother desperate to get her crying child back to sleep. Thankfully, I am not one to get sea sick so it was no problem. Once we reached the shore, I quickly hopped on a bus and headed to court.

Genuine concern arose as the bus wound its way across the island. Streams of water were running down the street. Reaching the bottom of one hill, I saw numerous cars submerged under water. My body pulsed as though an unseen drummer was beating on my heart with all his might. When I finally arrived at the courthouse, I was told that they were closing due to the weather. It would have been nice to learn that before I got began this trek!

Rain can be our friend or our enemy. It is essential for vegetation to grow. Without it, our water supply would dry up. In Palestine where Jesus grew up, there were two cycles of rain- the former rain and the latter rain. The former rain would start as the farmers planted their crops. The latter rain came just prior to the harvest and helped plump up the wheat. Both rainy seasons were vital to the success of the crops.

God always has been and always will be the source of our provision. He is the one who provides the rain that waters the crops that ultimately give us food. I have a tendency to take credit for any success that I have in life. Upon reflection, I realize that God is the one who gave me the gifts, talents and abilities that I have in order to perform my job. He is the One who uniquely crafted me with a love for words and putting them together on a page in a way that makes people enjoy reading them (at least I hope they do!)

It is critically important that we acknowledge God as our source and provider. He alone deserves all of the credit for anything good that we have in our lives. After all, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17).

He is incredibly faithful and trustworthy. God is rock solid and He never changes. Thank Him today for meeting all of your needs.

Rain's Acomin' by Don Graham flickr-com_13111699453_fa33a3bb31_z.jpg

Rain’s Acomin’ by Don Graham flickr-com_13111699453_fa33a3bb31_z.jpg_CC BY-ND 4.0

 

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Water in the Desert

by Wendy

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 Oasis by Awee_19 is licensed under  CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

He turned the desert into pools of water
    and the parched ground into flowing springs;
36 there he brought the hungry to live,
    and they founded a city where they could settle.   (Ps 107:35-36, NIV)

 

It’s amazing what a little water will do.

Years ago, a teacher told me a story about flying over Israel’s Negev desert. Below him, he saw a round plot of green in the midst of the dessert.  Apparently scientists decided to see what would happen if they watered that one circle and didn’t touch the surrounding landscape.

It bloomed.  Brilliantly, beautifully, it turned green and lush, an oasis of growth in the midst of dry, dusty, sandy desert.  And even more amazingly, scientists and farmers engineered crops to grow even in the Negev’s brackish water. That’s water which has a huge salt content, from aquifers deep below the Negev Desert. Desalinization costs too much, so scientists found ways to use what was unusable.

And it worked.

Apparently, in God’s economy, abundant, green, growing life does not depend on perfect circumstances.  It depends on water.  Fresh water, rain, leftover water, it matters not.  Water, in some form, breeds life. Incredibly, in the right circumstances, even brackish water will do.

For my parched spirit, that is good news.  I want to be like the Psalmist’s person, a tree planted by streams of [living] water, yielding fruit in season, and whose leaf does not wither. However, while my soul yearns desperately for God like the deer panting for streams, I look around and see no oasis.

Wait. Brackish water, he said. They bred plants to resist the salt and grow in brackish water.

Have I overlooked the brackish water in my life, thinking it unsuitable for growth?  Was this my answer while I waited for the spring rains>

How many times did I look for an oasis and overlook a tiny pond?  Or wait for the ‘perfect spring rain’ when there was a fine flowing river just around the corner, as yet unseen?  Did I look in vain for a clean spring when brackish water was bubbling forth from the ground nearby?

Brackish water.  With the Cleanser of Our Souls, our hearts are trained to absorb life even in brackish water – He turns the brackish to clean and the bitter to sweet. Somehow, with Him, my soul can glean enough moisture to live even in the driest of days.

Those small gratefulnesses I voice may lead to big exaltations down the road; at the least, bit by bit they turn my heart back to God.  Those scathing reaction-words, not spoken and blurted at Jesus’ feet, may turn to blessings instead of curses.  The impossible disappointments force rhythms of hope in the midst of failure that may teach me to thrive despite my surroundings.

In the world, brackish water breeds death.  But… but… in His life, it’s amazing what a bit of water can do!

In Drought or Rain

by Dawn Aldrich

Let my teaching fall like rain, and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants… Deuteronomy 32:2 NIV

Leaving the January New England cold, we flew west to “sunny” California. In a land experiencing drought for almost five years, we looked forward to some spring-like weather—sunny skies and warm temps. But, shortly after we landed, overcast skies and cool, damp breezes became the norm. Eventually, heavy fog set in and monsoon down pours dampened our plans.

We tried not to complain because California was so parched. After a couple of tough traveling days, the rains slowed and the skies brightened long enough to reveal California’s need and all its glory.

We found the need driving north to Yosemite where hundreds of thousands of acres of blackened, fire damaged land and trees stood as evidence. This barren land lay parched and black, crying out for a deep drink of heaven’s rain.

California Drought 2 2015

Reservoirs that once ran high along the banks, sat shrunken as though a giant had taken too deep a sip from his oversized straw, leaving but the dregs at the bottom of his glass.

California drought 2015

But there was hope, as we traveled through Napa Valley and along the northern shore. California’s glory sang through glistening pruned vineyards, new green pastures, grazing herds, and crops harvested for market around every corner.

Cali Green Hills

 

NappaValleyRainbow_DawnAldrich2016

Such a drastic difference—these two experiences—it made me think how much like our lives this represented. Our souls may experience years of drought, thirsting after heaven’s rain, and yet none comes. But, through it all, we learn the importance of faith in God, community, and family—how being more dependent on God and one another is actually the better way to live. We become humbled during the drought years until our hearts are ready to drink in God’s blessings.

And when God’s blessings rain down upon a ready heart, God’s glory becomes evident because good fruit appears—fruit, that when harvested, with nourish many.

Preparing to cross over to the Promised Land, God gave Moses a song for Israel. Here it is in part from Deuteronomy 32:2, 37, 39 (NIV):

Let my teaching fall like rain, and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants…

They are not idle words for you—they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess…

See now that I myself am he! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life…

Where do you find yourself today? Drought or Rain? Do not curse either, as one prepares your heart to receive God’s teaching and the other prepares your heart for harvest. While in drought, ask God, “What is it that you want to teach me? What do you want to be for me during this time?” While it’s raining, give thanks, celebrate and humbly remember God as the source of the blessings.

Raindrops of Encouragement

by kerriebutterfield

Drinking in the Rain by Candy Beauchamp Flickr.com_4470935023_ceea4f6c6c_z.jpg_CC BY-ND 4.0

Drinking in the Rain by Candy Beauchamp
Flickr.com_4470935023_ceea4f6c6c_z.jpg_CC BY-ND 4.0

…on earth as it is in heaven. Mathew 6:10

Most people either love the rain or hate it. Whatever your preference, we need rain to grow food for the trees and the flowers to bloom and to nourish our bodies. As spring begins, rain makes me feel hopeful about what is growing and being brought forth that I can’t see yet. Bottom line: we need rain. It’s essential to life. The Creator is genius at giving life, sustaining life, and saving lives.

We lived in Australia for 8 years, and when you live in a “sunburnt country”, you better believe rain is important.  When we arrived, the country had been experiencing drought for over 40 years resulting in bushfires, water restrictions, and a heightened awareness of water levels. When it would rain we would all celebrate. At the same time, we arrived to our new church community to realize they had also been experiencing an extended spiritual drought.  They were parched. We arrived with an expectation of leading a vibrant, growing community, only to discover the people were tired, hurt, and very discouraged. They weren’t up for what was in our hearts.

So, we asked God, “What do we do?”

He said, “I brought you here to release prophecy.”

Prophecy is about strengthening, comforting, and encouraging. Prophecy is when God brings a word or picture from our future to encourage us in our present circumstances. We knew whatever growth would happen, would be a result of the encouragement and strengthening of God’s words over His people and church. He wanted us to call down the rain of encouragement. Encouragement is essential to growth and with proper encouragement, an oasis forms in the driest desert of circumstances.

We began asking God to rain on what we couldn’t see and we reminded people who God said they were and the promises over their lives. We spoke encouragement into those places. Encouragement is the mother tongue of the Holy Spirit, it’s fertilizer for what God is growing in us.Discouragement is the mother tongue of the enemy, and it chokes the life out of what God wants to do in you and through you.

Here’s the deal. We’re all atmosphere carriers. Like clouds. When we arrive on the scene we bring an atmosphere with us. I can either rain love, encouragement, and grace,nourishing and encouraging growth,or I can rain negativity, discouragement, and disappointment, pouring salt on the soil of people’s hearts. I get to choose what I engage in and what I release. What pours out of me is a result of which atmosphere I chose to engage with.

We could have chosen to stand underneath the ominous cloud that was hovering over our new church, but we new that wasn’t God’s heart for us or His church. So we released a new cloud. It began with a few raindrops of encouragement and just a few sat and sought shelter under the encouragement cloud. But as they sat there, we taught them to release words of encouragement, and the cloud expanded quickly. Encouragement shifted the atmosphere and the culture until our people, our church, quickly became known as the prophetic church in the region and in our denomination.

It all started  by believing  God’s atmosphere is in us and supersedes earthly atmospheres.

Jesus tells us in John 17:21, “Behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”  The atmosphere of the Kingdom of heaven is within us and we can release it wherever we go. We rain encouragement, love, kindness, mercy, joy, peace, and goodness, and it pushes back the kingdom of darkness. God has placed that in us so that we might shift the atmosphere of this world and bring the atmosphere of heaven to earth. This is how heaven invades earth. This is how we cooperate with the Lords prayer, “may it be on earth, as it is in heaven.”

You are a rain cloud of encouragement. May He rain down on you to be released through you. If your water levels are low, get around some people who can encourage you. And if you know people whose water levels are low, release raindrops of encouragement to them.

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