In the Depths of the Falls

the grizzle grist mill

 

I saw a glimpse of something today. We took a little hike to Amicalola Falls and were standing on the bridge, looking up at the falls when I saw it. Looking up, this song started rolling over and over in my mind, and before I realized it, I was softly singing: 

Peace, peace, wonderful peace

Coming down from the Father above

Sweep over my spirit forever I pray 

In fathomless billows of love

As I stood there, listening to the waters rush over the rocks and tumble down below, I began to really see it…The rocks were solid, strong, unyielding. There were sharp places and dark places…green, squishy patches and dry, splotchy parts…even some spots with crackly, dry weeds. Yet, where the water flowed, the rocks were smooth and even shiny, almost like jewels glistening in the sun. The waters rushed over the edge at one place and trickled…

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What Are You Talking About?

Losing my ability to work and earn a living was terrible. Becoming paralyzed and wheelchair-bound was horrible. Losing my ability to eat was a tough pill to swallow, literally. But losing my ability to speak is by far the most difficult aspect of this cruel disease called ALS.

I haven’t been able to speak with my God-given voice for almost twenty years so it might seem strange that I am writing about the power of the spoken word. As one who can only speak through my computer’s Text-to-Speech program, I have become more and more observant of the words of others. For good or for bad, the words we speak are powerful.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” (Proverbs 18:21) 

Studies claim that men speak around seven thousand words a day and women speak a whopping twenty thousand words – in just one day. Mary is my caregiver so I might be treading on dangerous ground here, but, from what I’ve observed over the thirty-three years of marriage, I tend to believe these studies are accurate.

I remember so well when I began to lose my ability to speak. Even though I hadn’t had a drink in twelve years, my voice started to sound like I was drunk. In fact, a police officer pulled me over at 9:30 in the morning and, after speaking with him, he asked if I had been drinking. Because all of the muscles needed to speak became weaker and weaker as the day wore on, by three in the afternoon, I sounded like a really tired drunk. Knowing this, I began to make important phone calls and meet people as early in the day as possible. I also started to choose my words very carefully; I didn’t have the luxury of idle chatter. It was then, two decades ago, that I began to value the ability to speak. Like working, walking, and eating, talking was just one more thing that I took for granted before ALS invaded my life.

“There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, But the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12:18)

An incredible fact: To create speech, around a hundred different muscles in the chest, neck, jaw, tongue, and lips must work together. Every word or short phrase that is physically spoken is followed by its own unique arrangement of muscle movements. The information necessary for producing a phrase is saved in the speech area of the brain. – Reference.com

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29)

Imagine what a great world it would be if we only spoke “what is helpful for building others up” and to “benefit those who listen.” 

Maybe women do talk more than men, but I wonder what men and women would say, and who we’d speak to, if our ability to speak were limited to just three thousand words a day. At first, there would likely be a lot of quiet dinner tables, but over time I think people would learn to measure their words. I would hope that most of us would learn to save our words for important things, not for gossip and backbiting. I have seen close relationships, even family relationships, ruined by words. And, so many people have been scarred for life from verbal abuse. Maybe we should learn to live as if our speech was limited.

“Everyone must be quick to hear and slow to speak…” (James 1:19)

We might think it’s unfair, but non-Christians judge followers of Christ by the way we speak and the words we use. For example, if you ever want to prove that you are not a follower of Christ, start cursing. This tactic worked great for Peter:

“A little later the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Surely you too are one of them; for even the way you talk gives you away.” Then he began to curse and swear, “I do not know the man!” And immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, “Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.” (Matthew 26:73-75)

The Bible has so much to say about the importance of words. In fact, Jesus said that the words we speak define who we are, and how we’ll ultimately be judged:

“…the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. “The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good, and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words, you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:34-37)

The best use of your ability to speak is making a commitment to follow Christ, just as I did thirty-six years ago. It’s so easy, and you’ll never regret it:

“…if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10)

About Bill Sweeney

In 1996, Bill was diagnosed with ALS (“Lou Gehrig’s Disease”) and the doctors told him he had 3-5 years to live. He is now completely paralyzed and unable to speak, but by God’s grace, he’s still alive and through his blog shares a message of hope in Christ – Unshakable Hope!

I AM – Devotional Style Short Stories – “Ya’ Just Never Know”

The weeks have been long and tiring for the woman. Her husband has been ill and now as she stands by his graveside the tears flow. She didn’t think she had any more tears but her wet cheeks have proven her wrong.

Her friend stands beside her and places a hand on her shoulder. “He’s with the Lord now and no more sorrow, no more illness. He’s at peace.” her friend whispers to the new widow.

The widow looks at her with crinkled eyebrows. “He wasn’t a believer. He’s in hell!” She bursts out sobbing and her friend pulls her into a tight hug.

The widow sobs in her friend’s arms as the people quietly back away and begin returning to their cars. Slowly the tears abate and the widow apologizes to her friend for her outburst.

Her friend looks and there’s a Man standing near the Oak tree. He looks familiar. The friend nudges the widow. “Do you know Him?” she asks. The widow glances over to the Man and suddenly sucks in a breath.

The Man approaches her and with love in His eyes He opens His arms to her and she quickly embraces Him as tears stream down her face.

The Man caresses her back gently and whispers in her ear, “Be not downcast, My daughter, for Jack is in heaven. He gave his life to Me and has been forgiven.”

The widow suddenly pulls back from the Man, “Oh praise be to God. Thank you Jesus!” she shouts.

Her friend stands transfixed, not knowing what just happened.

***

Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn. For they shall be comforted.”

***

Many of us have gone through suffering with a long illness of a loved one. We know at times, way down deep within us, that we could lose them but we keep hoping for the best. Many never give a moment’s thought about eternity, but every human being ever born, or is to be born, will spend eternity in one of two places; heaven with God, Jesus, and loved ones that placed their trust in Jesus Christ, or, in hell without love, compassion, joy, or peace. Hell is an eternity without God and all that He is. Unless we have had a confession of faith from the loved one that is on their death-bed we can never assume that they are not in heaven with the Lord. It has been said that even the most adamant atheist, when facing the end of their time on earth, have asked Jesus to save them. It is a cold, dead heart that refuses Christ’s offer for an eternity filled with love. As long as we have not taken that last breath, it is not too late to ask Jesus into our hearts. He will welcome us with open arms.

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Broken

    • No photo description available.

      By Joan McCartney

      I was at the grocery store this morning and heard a loud crash and something shattering. Being nosy, I walked towards the sound and saw some people whispering and looking back to the end of the next aisle. When I walked down that aisle, I saw an older lady had hit a shelf containing dishes with her cart and many had fallen to the ground and broke. She was kneeling on the floor embarrassed, frantically picking up the shattered pieces, while her husband was peeling off the bar code from each broken dish saying “Now we will have to pay for all this!”

      I felt so bad for her, and everyone was just standing there staring at her!! I went and knelt beside her and told her not to worry and started helping her pick up the broken pieces. After about a minute, the store manager came and knelt beside us and said, “Leave it, we will clean this up. Let’s get your information so you can go to the hospital and have that cut on your hand looked at.”

      The lady, totally embarrassed said, “I need to pay for all this first.” The manager smiled, helped her to her feet and said, “No ma’am, we have insurance for this, you do not have to pay anything!”

      For you who have read this so far, I would like you to give me a minute. Wherever you are, close your eyes, and imagine God doing the same for you!

      Collect the pieces of your broken heart from all the blows life has thrown at you. God will heal all your wounds, and I assure you that your sins and mistakes will be forgiven.
      You see, we all have the same insurance, and it’s called Grace. When you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior and ask for forgiveness, the Manager of the universe, GOD, will say to you “Everything has already been paid for, now go on your way, all is forgiven!”

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I AM – Devotional Style Short Stories – “The Spirit’s Alive”

Cars line to enter the already packed parking lot. The sun is bright and hot but it has not detoured the saints from coming. People are already standing at the doors waiting to enter the sanctuary and the women fan themselves as the men wipe sweat from their brow.

Music can be heard sifting through the rafters and seeping through the walls. The vibration can almost be felt in their feet as the excitement grows and suddenly the doors are thrown open and thousands rush to find a seat.

The music reverberates through the room and hands have already started to clap, bodies are dancing between the rows of seats, and others are doing little jigs as they walk down the aisles.

The music softens just a bit and through the loud speakers, as stragglers search for a seat, a voice roars, “Are you ready to worship the Lord?” The crowd roars, “Yes,” and the drums, guitars, and key board roars over the crowd.

Praise songs are sung, the music is ear-bursting loud, but nobody complains as they dance at their seats, raise their hands high in the air, and give the Lord their praises through the words of the songs.

The Man isn’t seen but He’s watching and listening.

The devil runs as the room is filled with His glory.

The drums quiet, the keyboard softens, and the voices fill the room in hushed reverence. Tears are filling eyes, heads are bowed, and the sound of “Holy is our Lord God Almighty,” is being sung softly.

A Wind blows across the room and suddenly the heavens are opened. Standing before the King is a choir of thousands and their voices are joining with the saints in this room.

Shekinah glory fills the room. Heavenly light flows through the room and some fall under the Power, they cannot stand, and yet they worship.

As the song ends, Jehovah Elyon’s eyes fill with tears of love and joy.

He has been magnified.

***

Psalm 34:3 – “O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.”

***

When we magnify the Lord we are coming before Him and exalting who He is. We are glorifying His Name, we are honoring God Almighty and what He does. We are giving praise unto the King of kings and Lord of lords. No human can die for another and be saved and yet the Son of God chose to die so that our sins are forgiven and we have eternal life with Him in His heavenly kingdom. Have you asked the Lord Jesus to forgive you of your sins? Do you magnify Him through your thoughts, words, and actions? Magnify Him today through prayers of praise and songs of worship. Show your gratitude and love for He died that you may have life everlasting with Him.

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