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!

Friday, October 17, 2014

The bench



The bench sat alongside a lonely stretch of dirt road under the shadow of Victoria Peak. Day after day horse drawn wagons passed by but their riders never bothered to stop and enjoy the breathtaking views from the bench. Many full moons passed when a woman appeared planting flowers around the wooden bench. Soon the bulbs sprouted and grew into beautiful spring lilies that seem to clothe the bench in a beautiful God-spun coat of many colors.  The woman also placed a small twisted circle of woven briers complete with large thorns over a rusty spike that had been driven into an old rugged wooden cross which stood behind and to the left of the bench.

Soon spring left the bench to be pummeled by the scorching winds of summer. As the last drops of moisture from the bench’s wooden slats evaporated into thin air, the bench began to crack and split. When cooler nights came the bench would gaze up at the stars wondering if this was all there was to life? He knew he had a purpose in life but still nobody ever seemed to find time to sit and enjoy his comfort and majestic views of the surrounding hills.

One day, as a gentle breeze began blowing, several leaves floated down from the heights coming to rest on the seat of the bench. The leaves startled but delighted the bench all dressed in their brightly colored warm hues of red, orange and yellow. The woman who planted the spring flowers and hung the crown of thorns returned to pay the bench a visit. She was not alone and in her arms was a black cloaked figure which was holding a pumpkin. The pumpkin had been carved with a face and a flickering candle illuminated its interior.

One evening, as a full moon crested over the hills, the bench had many unexpected visitors. Hordes of children came by to stare at the ghoulish figure that was unmoved. The kids were all dressed up in costumes complete with scary masks that covered their faces. They all stopped to stare at the mysterious figure sitting on the bench who was holding his pumpkin head in his hands. They all laughed and giggled and some boys even threw rocks at the headless ghost’s glowing head.  The bench was overjoyed that someone was actually taking notice of him and had hardly noticed the rocks that the little boys had bounced off his back.

Soon clouds began to gather pushing themselves up against the tall mountain sides. The gathering gloom brought with it rain and sleet that covered the ground. One night, as the temperature began to drop, the sleet turned into beautiful flakes of snow. Each flake was unique as it swirled through the cold night air landing so very lightly on the top of the bench’s seat. The swirling night air caused a shiver to move down his back.
During the day, wagons carrying the harvest in from the fields made ruts in the muddy dirt road. The wagons were overflowing with corn, pumpkins, gourds and all sorts of fruit and vegetables. There were so many things to be thankful for, but still nobody came by to visit him. The woman who been there so many times before hadn’t been by in a long time he began to worry that she might not come back.

As the storms continued pounding the countryside, the snow began to pile up around the bench until one day he couldn’t see anything at all. He sat for many days and nights alone shivering in the solitude of a snow drift. Then one day he heard someone shoveling snow and the familiar voice of the woman. She was singing hymns with each scoop of the shovel as the cold wet snow was removed. 

At last the warmth of the sun was beginning to shine on Him. The woman began adorning him with brightly colored glass ornaments, garlands and beautiful tinsel. She then laid a manger at his feet with a small baby that had been wrapped in swaddling clothes. A loving mother and father were set up as if they were admiring the baby. Magi and an assortment of sheep, cows and donkeys were placed in the snow just outside the proud parents. 

The bench was now the center attraction of the entire village as people, both young and old, passed by to admire the newborn babe. Nobody threw rocks this time and even a choir stood by singing praise to the baby who was some kind of special king. The bench watched all the smiling faces that peaked out from under the colorful scarves wrapped tightly against their necks. But it wasn’t until the preacher arrived and began reading from a special book that the bench understood who the baby was. He was the Son of God and prophesied Messiah that was given as a gift to the entire world!



Monday, October 6, 2014

Beyond time



There are four basic questions that every human being will wrestle with at some point in their life. Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where will I go when I die? I remember as a teenager thinking about these questions, including the thought of my own death, which would bring on an anxiety attack.  It was freighting to realize that someday I would cease to exist and that my consciousness would evaporate forever. Now, with all my gray hair and wisdom and thanks to my faith in God, I do not feel the same way but look forward to eternity and getting back to the future!

These four basic questions eventually lead us to only two possible world views; that everything is a cosmic accident or that we are the result of a deliberate design by a designer.  For most of us, growing up in the 1960’s, we were taught that outer space was infinite. We were also instructed that the microscopic world existed in an infinitely smaller and smaller direction.   We were systematically taught that everything around us was the result of a cataclysmic accident. We were forced to swallow “The big bang” theory, which simply stated explains that “First there was nothing and then it blew up!” Doesn’t it take more faith to believe that then in an omnipotent Creator?

So now science has discovered that our universe is not infinite but finite. They have discovered that the velocity of light is not constant but is indeed slowing down and if you have lived here on earth for any length of time it soon becomes clear that all matter goes from a higher energy state of order to a lower, cooler disorganized state. Just open your garage door (if you can) and see if it looks organized or cluttered. If left on its own does your garage contents tend to become more organized making room for the family car? As we near death even our own body begins to break down ending in one of our own major organ failure. Even our sun and the galaxy in which it resides will one day suffer catastrophic heat loss as it cools beyond a pre-determined threshold point. 

So if there is a God is He getting older with us? Is His hair turning gray as He sits waiting for us to return to the garden? The answer to that question is really the one that got my attention. Since we live in three dimensional space consisting of height, length and width we can discern the fourth dimension, time, but all additional dimensions are simply just out of our ability to comprehend.

Eternity is not a place where there is an abundance of time but rather it is outside the confines of our physical universe altogether. If all of us could accept this, then most theological disputes evaporate into thin air. Here’s a crude analogy: Your sitting on the main street of a metropolitan city watching a parade as it turns the corner. You can’t see the beginning or the end but only the present as it rolls by you. Now think about someone sitting in a helicopter hovering over the parade route. From their perspective they can observe the entire parade at once. Every detail from the staging area, street routes as well as the finish area is observable to someone in the next dimension. 

As we study the bible we find many examples of where information has been recorded ahead of time with precise detail. It’s this amazing property of the scriptures that has convinced many people of the existence of God. Proof for many that the universe we are presently living in was created by an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent Designer. 

We were not created to live like we do now, with death always looming over us. We were originally designed to live and walk with God in eternity. It was because of man’s sin that God planned for his redemption from before the foundations of the world were formed. He then inspired men through inspiration by the Holy Spirit to write the bible. It is through His Word, Jesus Christ, which all creation was originally created and it is through Jesus that all men have been redeemed. All we have to do is accept this free gift God offers to us. God never forces us to do anything therefore we must turn to Him and choose to receive His forgiveness.

So, If you don’t yet believe, why not take this time to ask God to reveal Himself to you personally? All you have to do is ask. Our hardware will wear out someday but our software or soul will continue to exist. So the question is “where  do you want to spend eternity”?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fall



Fall has finally arrived! And with it come cooler nights and a much awaited reprieve from summer’s heat.  There is something inside of me that awakens during this time of year. It’s hard to explain these feelings but they are a welcomed friend, very comforting and they help me to slow down my pace and rethink my busy life. Maybe it’s the idea that life has a cycle and a rhythm to it, that we need “down time” to regenerate ourselves. If you take it to the extreme autumn reminds us that things are born, they grow and eventually die.

As we follow the last days of Elijah we find him running away from Jezebel who has just threatened to kill him. Elijah just had one of the most impressive mountain top experiences in the history of the world. We watched as he called down fire from heaven and then slathered four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal.

Now he has taken his eyes off God and is on his way to hide in a cave. I find it very refreshing that the men God chooses act the same way all of us do, that is, that they are not super human. In fact, they are only strong when they allow God’s Spirit to control them, guide them and ultimately protect them. Once they try to engage the enemy in battle in their own strength they fall flat on their face.

“And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him ‘What are you doing here Elijah?’” 1 Kings 19:9. Now, the prophet begins to explain his hopeless situation to God, as if He didn’t already know why Elijah was running scared from Jezebel. 

God tells Elijah to stand at the mouth of the cave. As he is standing there the Lord passes by; a great and strong wind tore into the rocks of the mountain, but the Lord was not in the wind. Then an earthquake but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.

I love the fact that our God as mighty as He is, the One who called the universe into existence just with His voice, chooses to speak to us with a still small voice. He’s not a “helicopter parent” but allows us room to make mistakes. It’s His desire that we have an intimate relationship with Him, coming to Him every day for guidance.

God  had a plan from before the foundations of the earth were formed. It is written in 1 Peter 1:19-20 “but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”

God is still on His throne, He has a plan and that plan is still on track. Our Heavenly Father could see all the bad choices that man would make and pre arranged a solution to redeem us from our sin-debt.  While He allows us to make wrong and often painful choices, He is always right there to catch us when we fall.

God speaks to us by using a still small voice that can be heard only when we take time to listen to Him. Sure the mountain top experiences are wonderful but God chooses to guide us on a daily basis in a more subtle way. Just as in Elijah’s case it’s usually the great winds, earthquakes or fires in our lives that get our attention but God really prefers that we simply just walk with Him.

The grand designer created us in a way that we need to be in community with each other. Fellowship with each other prepares us for eternity with Him. The first step is to believe in Him and the gift of life through the blood of His Son, Jesus. Once we are born again, He gives us spiritual gifts and seals us with His Holy Spirit as a pledge of our future inheritance. Then while we wait for the return of Jesus Christ we have an opportunity to encourage and help each other by using our spiritual gifts.

Life here on earth is all about relationships. God designed life in such a way that we would never be complete without a relationship with Him and each other. Make the time to listen to God and begin reaching out to others by using the spiritual gifts God has given to you. Be still and know that I AM God!