Welcome

If you have stumbled here by accident let me first insist that there really are no accidents in life. If however, you came on your own free will then please by all means open your hearts and your minds to the "New Wine" that God has prepared for you!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

unveiled



Sahar peeked through the veil of her heavy burqa desperately trying to see over the wall that surrounded the Catholic Church. School was in session and the boys and girls were outside busy playing a variety of games, some of which were soccer, hopscotch and jump rope. She had often stopped along this section of wall and would watch the children playing in the compound. However, she knew that if someone discovered her they would drag her off to the village cleric where she would be punished severely. 

Sahar was turning thirteen today and had been secretly reading a bible she had found along this very same wall. Oh how she loved all the stories she read on those pages about Noah, Father Abraham and the ancient city Ur of the Chaldeans. Many times she would imagine that she was a Mesopotamian Queen on her way to Jerusalem to visit King Solomon. In her mind , she watched as her entourage went on for miles with tall camels carrying loads of jars full of wine, dates and assorted spices as gifts for the king.

“Sahar! What are you doing? Get down off that wall immediately before someone sees you.” shouted her brother Omar, who was on his way to the mosque for morning prayers.

Sahar’s heart raced as she lost her grip and slid down the steep face of the concrete wall that had been constructed with fragments of broken glass embedded into the surface. Although her heavy burqa was ripped in several places, she herself was unscathed. Her father had warned her not to climb the wall of the church and reminded her that Allah was a jealous god and demanded her full devotion. As she went to the well for water she wondered if her brother would tell her father what he had seen her doing.

While she waited at the well for the shepherds to water their sheep, Sahar secretly pulled out her pocket sized bible. As she leaned against the trunk of a date palm she was able to conceal the book from the view of the others who had gathered at the well. Time seemed to stand still for the moment as Sahar turned to the book of Ruth and began reading. She loved this time of the morning and even waiting for her turn at the well seemed to fly by as the cool morning air circulated through her veil.
  
Sahar reads through the pages as the poverty stricken widow Naomi realizes she must return to her homeland in order to survive. Orpah, one of her two daughter-in-laws decides to remain in Moab, but Ruth decides differently saying "Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me." 

Sahar loved how devoted Ruth was to her mother-in-law Naomi and how she truly and wholly wanted to follow the One True and Living God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. As she continued to read something was happening inside of her, it was a warm feeling in her heart and it made the hair on her arms stand to attention. All her life Sahar was forced to worship Allah and never felt a connection to him like the way that she felt when she thought about the God of Naomi.

On her way home, with the jar of water on her head, Sahar asked God to reveal the truth to her about who He was. The cool morning breezes had left and were now being replaced by strong east winds that began blowing sand. The sun too was hot and it made Sahar stop at an oasis that was midway to her home. Once again she called upon God for help “Oh, Great God of Naomi please reveal yourself to me as I want to know You! Please help me to walk the same path as Ruth and become my God!” the young teenager penitently prayed as sand fell through the palm branches.

It was too hot to walk the rest of the way home and the blowing sand did not relent so Sahar pulled back out her pocket bible and read as the pages turned to John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Rain



The sun was just a dot in the sky as heat waves fell on them like heat given off by a red hot branding iron. The earth was cracked and dry, parched and had turned into what resembled lunar dust. With each step the preacher took, through the powdery dirt, his heals kicked up a small cloud behind him. The crops had withered and were failing due to the lack of rain. The cattle too, would soon have to be slaughtered for lack of food and water. Everywhere wells were drying up and squirrels suffered for the slightest drop of water to fall. 

 It was Sunday morning as the church bells rang out calling the faithful to worship. There was not a single cloud in the sky and nobody expected a drop of rain to fall as the church filled to overflowing. The situation was desperate as the surrounding community came together to petition God for relief. The pastor rose from his chair, opened an umbrella, and slowly walked up to take his place at the pulpit. He prayed like an Isaiah, with unction from on high as all creatures great and small waited outside the open church windows to hear the prayer of his heart.

“O Lord! Send us rain. We pray for rain. Our harvests perish. There is not a drop for the thirsting birds. The ground is parched. The choking cattle lift their voices towards a brassy heaven and lowing cry ‘Lord give us water’…We do not presume to dictate to Thee what is best for us, yet Thou dost invite us to come to Thee as children to a father and tell Thee all our wants. We want rain! Even the squirrels in the woods are suffering for want of it. Unless Thou givest rain our cattle must die…O Lord, send it now! For Jesus sake! Amen!” Charles G. Finney, 1853, Oberlin, New York.

Prayer is so powerful. It’s so incredible and often times it’s our last resort. You might ask yourself why America is not experiencing another great revival and the answer lies somewhere underneath the layer of dust that has collected on our leatherback books. Many of us have five or six different translations of God’s Word lying about but hardly reach for them. Our problem is that we lack discipline to make time to study, meditate or just read them. Oh, how we love to shop and be entertained. We have left our first love as Jesus is left standing outside the door of our church knocking to be let back in!

God so loved His world that He willingly sent His own Son to earth to be born into human flesh, suffer and die in order that we might be able to enter into His presence. God isn’t angry with us, He doesn’t want to punish or hurt us He only wants to give us a choice to accept salvation on His terms.  Jesus’ walk to the cross was not a tragedy but the universe’s greatest victory as our Great Shepherd willingly laid down His life for His sheep. In His death we are forgiven but in His rising from the dead we have eternal life!

Oh, what a friend we have in Jesus. A friend who has willingly offered to carry all of our sins, grief’s and burdens. Even though we might have denied Him, even though we might have betrayed Him with a kiss He still stands between us and a holy-righteous Heavenly Father always ready to intercede on our behalf. 

 The reason revival tarries isn’t because God has moved away from us or has changed His mind it’s because we have left Him standing outside the circle of our lives. We have plenty of time for friends, movies, running, shopping, vacations, travel, school and reading varies titles that peak our interest but how often do we agonize in prayer? How often do we serve the homeless in a food line or put someone else’s needs above our own? How often do we pray for the Holy Spirit to come and heal our land?

Maybe, we are afraid to pray for people who are sick, thinking that they might not get well?  Or possibly we are just too comfortable lounging in our chairs in front of one sort of screen or another? It’s time to turn off our phones, tablets, computers and lap-tops and fall on our knees before a holy and righteous God who is standing outside the door of our hearts waiting to be let back in. 

We need to pray believing that God has already answered our request; like bringing an umbrella while praying for rain when there isn’t a cloud in the sky. Before Charles Finney finished his sermon it began raining.  



Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Washing feet



One by one the apostles walked through the doorway into the upper room that had been prepared for the Passover. As each guest passed through the opening, they noticed  a pitcher full of water, a bowl to pour it into as well as a towel to wipe the dirt from their feet but where  was the servant? 

The first one to arrive at the empty doorway was Peter. He was puzzled why the owner had neglected to station someone there to wash their feet and began to yell for some help but nobody answered his call. Frustrated he flipped his sandals from his feet; they hit the wall with a loud thud knocking mud off onto the newly swept floor.  John was following close behind and carrying the lamb which was to be prepared for the celebration supper. Peter turned towards John, thinking for a minute that he should take the towel and wash John’s feet. However the thought quickly evaporated.  For weeks now Peter, John, James and the other nine disciples had been arguing about who was considered to be the greatest one among them. 

As John crossed the threshold he noticed how dirty his feet were and before stepping any further called out in a loud voice for the house servant but there was no answer. With a lamb in his arms he couldn’t really bend down to wash his own feet, so for a moment he glanced over at Peter who was busy preparing the herbs in a bowl on a low lying table located in the back. John bit his lip and started to say “Pe_t_er” but the syllables just spilled out as unrecognizable sounds in his throat.

Next, James thoughtlessly burst right into the upper room completely forgetting that his sandals were caked with mud mixed with donkey manure. He was in such a hurry that he had carelessly step in a fresh pile down near the entrance where a foal was tied up. Peter turning towards the door saw the mess on the floor and quickly scolded James then went back to work secretly thinking about how much of a hypocrite he was. James quickly put the flask of wine down onto the table along with a small pouch of sea salt. He frantically tried to clean his own feet but ended up adding to the mess that was already on the floor.

Soon the rest of the apostles would be coming up the steps that led to the upper room. “Clunk, clunk, clunk” pounded the sandals on stair treads as Andrew, Philip and Bartholomew came to an abrupt stop and waited for someone to wash their feet.  They looked around for anyone but there wasn’t a soul around to help. Peter, John and James were all busy preparing a part of the feast and as elders in their group they were above such menial tasks.

Soon the other James appeared followed by Matthew, Thomas, Thaddeus, Simon and Judas who all entered one by one. Quickly and silently they sat down reclining at the table carefully hiding their unwashed feet under the table. These men had been arguing since they had left Galilee about who was the greatest among them so that nobody was about to volunteer to wash the other’s feet. Nobody wanted to stoop to do the lowest job in the house. It was at that point that Jesus entered the room.


Oh, how we all need to be washed by the Master. God loved us so much that He willingly left heaven and became a man to die in our place. There is no greater love than that where a man willingly lays down his life for a friend. Jesus Christ allowed His own creation to falsely accuse Him, mock and beat Him and executed on a cross. 

What an incredible scene it must have been that night in the upper room as Jesus gently washed the dirt off of all their feet. At that moment It might have been only the dirt acquired that day but as soon as Jesus died He washed away all of our sins. So who is this King of Glory? His name is Jesus!