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!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Deep waters

Donny carefully slid out of the kayak and into the deep blue waters of the pacific. The water was cool at first but soon warmed as he dipped his mask into the water for a look at the reef. Donny and Jane had paddled over to the north end of Kealakekua Bay just to the left of the white monument that had been constructed to remember the spot where Captain Cook was murdered.

 The current was extremely swift just outside of the rocky point where Donny wanted to dive. The waves, crashing against the rocks around them, added to Jane’s anxiety as the two stared down into deep blue waters. A large school of black sail fish schooled around Donny and Jane as they surveyed their new surroundings. The terraced coral reef was colorful, beautiful and teaming with all varieties of colorful fish which darted and ducted into holes in the reef as the couple kicked their way towards the point. 

Looking straight down the nearly vertical slope of the reef Donny strained his eyes to see down as the clear blue waters slowly faded into an eerie black abyss. In the distance a massive Manta ray sailed through the water nearly brushing up against the couple as it eventually disappeared back into deep waters of the vast Pacific Ocean from where it came.

Jane turned her attention back to life on the reef marveling at the amount of diversity as a variety of fish darted in and out of the coral. Other creatures clung to the reef or stayed in large schools for their own protection from the larger fish that inhabited the shadows of the deep waters below their complex reef community.

Donny took in several deep breaths and attempted to dive straight down into the blackness that hung like a black velvet veil below him. Down he went ten; twenty, thirty feet finally maxing out at 45 feet as the colder water stopped him from going deeper. Still something seemed to be calling out luring him on towards the phantom bottom that lurked below.

In life just as in our ocean reef community we often find ourselves in deep waters. Sometimes it’s just the ordinary pressures of life and other times the surge increases as we find ourselves in the midst of a tempest. 

Just as in the case of our ocean community we too need each other and can find safety and solace as we gather together in community. Jesus hinted at this when He said “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them."
We were never meant to walk through life alone. God designed us in such a way that we would not only desire a relationship with Him but also need fellowship with each other. We need fellowship, true fellowship where we are lift up each other as we swim through the often fast currents of life. 

God’s love is like very deep waters where there is no end to the depths of His love. Many times we often are too scared to venture into those deep waters as we cling to the security of reef life. However, if we do let go and venture out into the deeper water then we have a chance to see how magnificent His love, mercy and grace really is.

Life is full of many dangers, toils and snares; some lead to death but if we let go and dive into the deep love of God we will never be afraid as He promises to guide us into safe harbor. He is the One who fills our sails with wind moving us over the sometimes rough waters of the ocean then as our spiritual sails fill with His Holy Spirit we are now safely on course for our eternal destination.

God loves us. He isn’t angry with us but instead is deeply concerned about us when we veer off course or run aground on the hidden, submerged reefs of life. His hands are always open to help and all we have to do is call out to Him and He will hear our voices. No matter how lost we might feel, no matter how alone we might be, God is always there. He is a Father to the fatherless and His love is pure, good and holy.

Walking with God, trusting God is the best adventure we can ever set out on. As we see His hand on our life and feel the Holy Spirit’s influence in our lives we will begin to swim away from the shallow reefs and begin to explore the deeper waters of a life and relationship surround by the depths of His love.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Hell fire (part two)

 I wanted to see into the Kilauea caldera so off we went. We walked for miles across the old caldera floor that was completely void of all plant life. It was like walking on new earth in a primordial time when God was first creating. We found ourselves having to jump over large cracks, bubbles and broken lava tubes. This desolate landscape was leading to a new erupting vent that was now only a fraction of the size of the Kilauea caldera that we were walking across. 

We observed how lava had bunched up creating folds like frosting on a cake. Ripple after ripple  lined up one after another as evidence that lava had begun to slow down as it came upon cooler material or some unknown obstacle. In other places round symmetrical holes were left behind dotting the edge of the flow giving a negative of where trees once grew.

We reached the bottom of the new active lava shield and began to walk up towards the top. With each step the lave crust cracked underneath our footing making a very distinct crunching sound. It was vital for us to find the right path up to the top of the volcano rim. All around us steam and toxic gases continually vented from cracks that had randomly formed around the cinder cone. 

In some areas, where a river of lava once flowed, an underground tube was formed some fifteen to twenty feet high and of the same width.  Some of these tubes’ roofs had collapsed forming deep chasms. The thought of breaking through an unforeseen area of thin crust and plummeting down into one of these pits added to our anxiety with each step.
Nearing the summit you could feel the heat rolling over in waves hot enough to burn skin. The stench of sulfur was stifling, burning our lungs as the wind wafted an occasional cloud of gases in our direction. Though we weren’t at the top, and couldn’t actually see into the crater, we could hear tremendous sounds as the lava was in a continuous state of flux.  The lake of fire ebbs and flows much like the sea as it goes through a change in tides sometimes falling fifty feet or more. 

Inside the crater lava was in constant motion where large liquid waves of lava splash up onto the throat of the crater. At night these waves create brilliant orange and yellow streaks of light that illuminate the gas cloud that continually rises from the volcano. As giant gas bubbles explode on the surface they create dazzling shooting fountains of fire some reaching hundreds of feet into the air. 

The bible mentions a lake of fire that was created for Lucifer, the beast, false prophet and the fallen angels.  These destructive beings were not born sons of Adam but direct creations of God. Their punishment for their rebellion will be an eternity confined to and tormented forever in the lake of fire. Many sermons have been written using this fearful imagery to cause sinners to repent.  

We are sons of Adam and have been given a choice to receive forgiveness for our rebellion against God. Out of love the Father has provided forgiveness to all sons of Adam who would just come to Him and believe. The person who chooses Christ’s forgiveness receives everlasting life. However, the person who rejects this free gift of salvation will find themselves standing at the Great White Throne judgment.

The bible teaches not to fear man who can destroy the body but instead to fear God who can destroy both body and soul. Our final destination is our choice either spiritual life with God or a second spiritual death by being cast into the lake of fire. The question whether our fate in the lake of fire will be eternal or will our spirits be destroyed is not a question of salvation. 

“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them.  And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.  The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”

Are you in the Book of Life?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Hell fire (part one)

Part 1

The morning air was sweet smelling filled with the aroma of saw grass as I stepped out of the car and into the path of several Nenes. We had made it our goal to get up early and into the park before hordes of other people who were packed into tour busses like sardines in a tin can showed up. Mornings are the best time to do anything around Volcano, Hawaii as the sun is warm and shining through a partially clouded sky. 

Today were having a problem deciding where we should go in Hawaii’s Volcano National Park. We had already hiked several wonderful loop trails, driven to the end of the Chain of Craters road to see the sea arch and visited the volcano observatory with is perched precariously on the rim of the massive Kilauea caldera. After a sort of passive-aggressive tug of war of wills my wife decided to humor me and hike several grueling miles of switchbacks down to the sea.

Hawaii’s National Volcano Park’s is a giant step back into a primordial paradise where giant tree ferns, yellow blooming ginger and a plethora of orchids and palms line both sides of the park’s main access road. It was like traveling back into time to the Jurassic Park period where I truly expected to see a Brontosaurs poke its towering head through the jungle canopy. 

I was happy that I had gotten my way and was actually starting to gloat as we turned down the Hilina Pali Road to our trailhead to the sea. After several minutes a park ranger’s truck appeared on the one lane road forcing us off to the side to allow her to pass. The ranger stopped and informed us that the road was closed due to a chipping and re-paving project. 

 As we turned around and headed to my wife’s first choice I thought “Providence right, she’s always right so why not just run up the white flag, surrender and get it over with.” Even as I sat on the ground in the parking lot putting on my hiking boots several female banded Nene squawked in unison “You see, you should have listened to your wife in the first place.”

The sky was completely filled with clouds as the mist continued to float on the air soaking everything that it came in contact with. The hike, which had started through a dense rain forested fern jungle, had abruptly opened up into a barren, black lava flow. We walked for miles over the undulating lava flow that twisted and turned, buckled and exploded out of the ground in what must have been giant gas bubbles.

We walked for miles over this barren wasteland that had so rigidly recorded the May 24th 1969 catastrophic eruption of Mauna Ulu. The rim of the volcano was now visible through the mist as we veered from the established park’s trail. It’s not encouraged or endorsed to leave established routes and explore but it’s not against the law. For the majority of park visitors it’s definitely a safe bet that they should stay on the trail.

We climbed up several frozen lava flows which formed an almost planned walkway complete with ramps and steps. In some areas the thin lava crust had broken away exposing the interior of a lava tube. The thought of crashing through one of these tubes reminded me what was in the Park’s pamphlet “Stay on the established trail for your own safety”. 

As we approached the top of the volcano steam and gases were being forcibly pushed from cracks that circled the rim. Most of these cracks were six inches wide and separated a patch of ground some six feet in width. I wanted desperately to look over the crumbling lip of the crater and tried several times to get up enough nerve to creep close to the edge.

The cracked and crumbling crater rim both begged me and urged me to come and look over the edge. The lake of fire was calling out to me like a siren’s voice luring weary sailors into the rocks. In the end the fractures and good sense prevailed over temptation and my opportunity to peer into the bottom.

The steam and gases rushing out smelled like sulfur and the water vapor was scalding hot. I never was able to get up enough courage to walk out the fractured ground and look down into the throat of the sleeping monster. 

 I never actually saw the bottom so it made me wonder if there really was a lake of fire churning, bubbling and slapping molten lava up onto the sides of the volcano. I’ll never know because I never looked in. This caused me to speculate about a literal, biblical “lake of fire”.