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, November 30, 2016

Feather in the wind

“Should I fall out of love, my fire in the light, to chase a feather in the wind? Within the glow that weaves a cloak of delight, there moves a thread that has no end. For many hours and days that pass ever soon, the tides have caused the flame to dim. At last the arm is straight, the hand to the loom, is this to end or just begin? All of my love, all of my love, all of my love to you. The cup is raised, the toast is made yet again, one voice is clear above the din. Proud Arianne one word, my will to sustain, for me, the cloth once more to spin. Yours is the cloth, mine is the hand that sews time, his is the force that lies within. Ours is the fire, all the warmth we can find, he is a feather in the wind.”

Lyrics written by Robert Plant after his five year old son passed away reminds us of the preciousness of life and the scarlet thread that has no end. While I can’t imagine the pain of losing someone so young and so dear, his heart felt words draw us in to pause and think about the reality of heaven and upon our arrival the reality of seeing those loved ones that have passed on before us, especially our children.

I wonder what it will be like in that day to meet our relatives, who we never fully knew; separated by time, and especially our unborn children. There is a connection, a thread that is woven through all of our lives that forms a binding, a tapestry of love that is not easily broken. But what will it be like to see children in heaven we never knew and how comforting it is to know that God will be there to wipe away our tears. So it looks like there will be tears in heaven.

Life is so precious. It’s true worth is so far beyond our reason or rationalizations. Creation is such a beautiful process and our Creator is so good at it! He alone has the power to give life and take it away, He is God. As I’m writing this I’m forced to think about, reflect on the reality that upon arriving in heaven it might not be a totally joyous occasion as we are reunited with family members we never knew. When we realize, maybe for the first time, what our haphazardly and hasty decisions created for eternity. 

“There moves a thread that has no end.”  There is a thread that has been woven throughout our generations that connects us, one to another. It’s a scarlet thread woven by the Master Weaver Himself and indeed has no beginning or end. Its crimson stain draws us to a Son’s love for a lost and lonely world. It’s an unbreakable thread that once appeared on a fearful night in Egypt as the blood of the Passover lamb was brushed over the lentil and doorposts of all Israelite homes. 

“Yours is the cloth, mine is the hand that sews time, his is the force that lies within.”  I love the fact that God has connected us together and the fact that we are all related to one another and ultimately and logically to the God in whose image we were made. His will is perfect, His plan is complete and the fact that He has allowed provision for us to experience all of it through our own free will is a miracle. 

So with that thought in mind, what will the cloth of your own life look like when you finally run out of thread here on earth? Will it be bound with the scarlet thread of the Father’s Son’s love? Will the doorposts of your heart be covered with the crimson blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world? 

There are so many twists and turns in life, so many chances to turn towards our Creator for His loving hand of help. Unfortunately, many will still make bad decisions that will alter the course of not only their own lives but also someone else’s. Tears will be shed and hearts broken but in the end there is a way that is right. It’s a solid foundation where even a feather in the wind can land safely forever in the hands of God’s loving grace. It’s a future where the tapestry has a beautiful picture, full of many connections to souls all bound together with a scarlet thread.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

In Jesus name

My phone said it was around four-thirty in the afternoon as I sped down South Grade Road on my way home from work. I had had an exhausting day and I was extremely tired but wanting to pick up some groceries at the store I reluctantly decided to swing into the store for a quick stop. It was a beautiful fall day as breezy ninety degree temperatures caused the leaves to dry-out and fall into the street where they gentle bounced and tumbled across my path.

As I glided down the street, even before turning into the parking lot, I could see a family of three pan-handling at the corner of one of the grocery store’s side entrances. The father was in his thirties, clean cut and holding up a cardboard sign. The mother too was in her thirties and was very pregnant with a small little girl maybe six or seven clinging to her skirt. The sign the father was holding up had been written in very large, legible letters “We need your help- In Jesus name”. The “In Jesus name” part caught my eye.

It was only seconds after pulling into the parking that I started to wonder who they really were and what their story was. I began to think what a horrible way to exploit your pregnant wife and small child and then the whole “In Jesus name” thing was just too much; I couldn’t believe someone would stoop to such a low level to get a hand-out. As I sat there in the stillness of my truck and glued to my seat, it became clear that God was not going to let me get away with that kind of thinking. I must have tried to get out of my truck and go into the store some fifty times in the space of thirty minutes but every time I tried I was unable to get up as my eyes returned to watch the family at the corner with the “We need your help- In Jesus name” sign.

As I watched the family and the endless parade of cars, from the comfort of my own truck,  my heart began to melt and soften up like a wax candle that had been left out in the heat of the bright sun light. The store was very busy that night and my eyes couldn’t believe that so many cars were stopping at the corner and rolling down their windows to offer aid. I know this to be true because I was waiting in my car unable to go into the store for groceries. As I watched I discovered a cycle that developed and it went like this: Car 1 would pull up and stop at the corner roll down the passenger window and hand some cash to the father. Then car 2 would speed right by them sometimes without even stopping at the posted stop sign. Car 3 would pull up roll down their window and hand out cash as the cycle would repeat itself over and over again.

So, as I sat there in my truck watching many of you do the right thing something snapped inside of me and although it wasn’t Christmas time I indeed felt like the Grinch whose heart was beginning to feel something. The feeling continued to grow and soon I was able to get out of my truck and began walking over to the couple. As I approached them I could see they had some concerns but as soon as I introduced myself to them, complete with a Cheshire Cat smile,  they all lit up like the a light bulbs. 

I began to ask them questions like “What’s going on?” and “What had happened that they ended up here?” The family was from Romania and the father did not speak much English. The mother told me her husband had just lost his job because she was pregnant and the company he had worked for didn’t want to pay for health insurance. So I asked if they were Christians and if I could say a prayer for them and they said yes. As cars continued to drive by we all bowed our heads and asked God to provide a new job for the father, health-protection for all the family and enough money for gas to get the family back home to Anaheim. Obviously, I gave the couple all the cash I had and asked if they needed any food or water. 

I am so proud of all the residents of Alpine, who stopped to render aid to this family. Maybe there is still hope for humanity here on earth as we stop to give aid, a cup of cold water and a prayer for our brothers and sisters in Jesus name.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Simpler times

A sudden rush of frozen air cut through the silence that accompanied the falling snow engulfing the rider and his horse. Alex jumped off his beautiful Clydesdale even before the fancy feathers of Bella’s hooves came to a complete stop.  He could see Emma busy working inside as he tied his horse to the cedar railing in front of the ice cream parlor. His leather boots made a delightful crunching sound as he made his way through the knee high drifts of snow. As he walked up the steps and through the double swinging doors Alex’s heart began to move towards his throat. As much as he loved ice cream, Alex wasn’t exactly there for the frozen confectionary. He had another reason for visiting the shop that Thursday evening and she was standing right there behind the counter.

Emma had just turned eighteen; she was smart, attractive and could light up any place she wanted with just a quick, unassuming smile. Alex was nineteen and had noticed Emma several times at the local community church. Although shy, Alex was drawn to Emma’s beauty like a moth into the flame of a candle and, for the moment, it would seem that Cupid’s arrow had found a way through his quiet, tough exterior but just as he got up the courage to talk to her someone pushed open the door.

“Welcome to a taste of heaven, what can I get for you tonight?” Emma said with a smile that was both friendly and warm enough to melt any cold air that got in. 

“Well, we are celebrating tonight” said the familiar elderly couple in unison and as they walked through the doors of the shop the festive sleigh bells affixed to the lintel played a seasonal tune.

The snow had come early this year, for Alpine, catching the plowmen off guard as the lamplighters lit the street lamps that ran the entire length of Alpine Boulevard. Mr. and Mrs. Wright peeled off their frozen neck scarves, hung up their coats and shuffled over to see what flavors had been made earlier in the day.

The Wright’s were celebrating fifty years of marriage this November and the ice cream shop was within walking distance of their ranch which had been built overlooking a very large field on the plateau . The couple loved to take walks along the boulevard where they would peek into the store fronts which were all decorated in fall colors; deep red cranberry garland, sweet smelling pine boughs and bright orange pumpkins. Emma thought what a darling couple they made and tried to imagine what they both looked like years before when they were her age.

A crackling fire was burning in the corner fireplace beckoning the couple to come and enjoy her warmth. Mr. Wright took out his glasses with his free hand as a scoop of chocolate chip mint went into his mouth with the other. Alex was warming up too as he continued to stare directly into Emma’s beautiful greenish blue eyes.  As his faced flushed and his heart felt like it was going to pop right out of his chest, Alex desperately searched for something to say.

“Emma, I was thinking of hitching up Bella to the open sleigh and was wondering if you would like to go for a ride later tonight?” Alex was both startled and relieved that the words came out in one complete coherent sentence. “The church is hosting the elections and its annual harvest festival, so I thought we might go for some spiced apple cider and rhubarb pie?” continued Alex with a smile. Gracefully, Emma accepted his offer and plans were set for seven. 

In simpler times, young men and women courted before marriage and could still enjoy a frosty evening sleigh ride on the way to vote at the community church. Ice cream was home made as well as apple pies, penny candy and all local cuisine was raised or home grown on local neighborhood farms. People didn’t need to be reminded to hold a door open for another, help out at the local church or even turn out to exercise their right to vote in the elections. 

So let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. Husbands love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word.