Matthew 11:15 (NIV)

He who has ears, let him hear.
Matthew 11:15 (NIV)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What Kind of Wineskin are You?

Matthew 9:17 (NIV) Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins.  If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined.  No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved." 

Matthew 9:17 spoke to my heart, while I was reading my Bible, the other day.  For me, it's one of those scriptures that I hear pretty often and, because of that, can sometimes take for granted.  But this time the last four words of this scripture caused me to ask the question, "Why would you wanna preserve the old?"  So I dug into the world of wineskins to see if I could find any answers...this is what I learned: 

The process of making wineskins is GROSS!!  It's not practiced very much... you know, technology; yet in some parts of the world it's still done.  It's usually made from goat skin but other animals have been used.  The "wineskin" maker has to pull the skin off of the dead goat, while it's hanging upside down by one leg, trying not to damage the skin... ugh!  Then through a process of other things a wineskin is made and can be used for wine, water, or churning milk for butter... handy little gadget.  When new wine is placed into a wineskin it begins to ferment.  The bubbles and gases, the expanding and contracting would be too much for an old wineskin to bear and would bursts open.  Old wineskins can hold old wine, water, and pretty much anything that won't cause it to explode from it's gases and bubbles.  And so... new wine is put into a new wineskin.

From a Biblical view point, the new wine represents a new believer in Christ and the old wineskin represents old doctrine.  Trying to force all the rules and traditions from old doctrine onto a new believer would be too burdensome and possibly scare off anyone who wants to know Christ.   A new believer should be gently guided as they learn all that the Lord has for them.  (Thus... new wine into a new wineskin in order to avoid a doctrinal explosion)

Here is where those four words, I spoke about earlier, come into play... The old is still needed because it leads the way for the new; JESUS.  When Jesus came He said, Matthew 5:17 (NIV) "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  The old "wineskin" (doctrine) is still very important because by learning from the old we can appreciate the new.  
Things to keep in mind:  we can't be so focused on doctrine (old wineskin) that we forget about the believer (new wine); I call this "religion".  And we can't be so heavenly minded that we forget about reality. (I don't have a name for this one but you know where I'm going with this ... right?)  There has to be a balance of both old and new so that 'both are preserved'; I call this "relationship". Which are you:  religion or relationship?  

Have a great day in the Lord and I pray you have a beautiful relationship with Him!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Day I Almost Drowned

When I was 10 years old my family and close friends went on a picnic by a river.  I can't remember the name of the river but I remember it was very wide, like the length of a football field. We found a great spot to picnic by a waterfall.  The top of the river seemed so still, except for the splashing of water from people swimming and playing.  As the water passed over the dam, about a 14 foot drop, the calm river water became violent; the water spun and splashed waves everywhere.  But 100 yards down the water became calm again. 
As soon as we arrived my friends jumped into the river - the upper, calm part of the river.  I never thought twice about jumping in with them, not that I didn't want to, but I knew my over protective mother would never allow it.  When my friends asked why, I told them I wasn't allowed.  This cause all my friends including my mother's friends to plead and beg for her to allow me to join them.  The oldest kid of the bunch, Joann, promised she would watch over me and not let me out of her sight.  Reluctantly, my mother gave in and I, with great joy, jumped into the river.  I quickly realized the river was deeper than I thought and the only way to keep my head above water was to bounce on one big toe (the one that went to market).  It was uncomfortable but worth a little discomfort for a chance to be in the water.  My friends started splashing water at each other so I bounced out of their reach;  I knew I couldn't win a splash battle and keep my head above the water.  Joann, who had joined the battle, left my side but I in no way felt alarmed.  I was confident in my ability to swim.  The battle became more fierce and a lot more funny since name calling now became the weapon of choice.  Laughing and balancing on Mr. Piggy became a little more difficult but it wasn't anything I couldn't handle.  The battle was coming to an end when Joann gave the ultimate splash.  If my memory serves correctly, that splash equaled a small explosion.  Water shrapnel went everywhere, including in my eye. This caused my head to be slightly tossed back, which cause my body to go a little off balance... this was too much for my big toe endure and my leg was tossed out from under me.  Being a skin-n-bone kinda kid (string bean was my nick name), the water swept me away like a leaf.  I didn't know what was going on since it happened so fast until I realized that I was now at the bottom of the waterfall stuck among the torrents.  I fought hard to get out of its grip but its pull was too strong for me.  Over and over I tried pushing off the river bottom but my body kept churning with all the debris.  I remember fighting for so long, it seemed like an eternity, and so hard; I didn't have an ounce of energy left... so I gave up.  It was at this point that the water had its way with me a spit me out into the calm stream.  I could barely stand but I drug myself up and began walking to the edge of the river bank.  I looked up and saw a crowd of people running toward me, leading the way was Joann.  It was a rocky descent so it took Joann and others a few minutes to reach me. A lot of people, some strangers, looked me over from head-to-toe and found no injuries; I had emerged completely unscathed. Joann's legs, on the other hand, were cut and bleeding from her rescue attempt.  

  The Lord recently reminded me of this incident and then said it is the same way with His will.  We may be going along with our everyday lives relying on our own strengths, only to realize one day that we are at the bottom of life, drowning.  But, the moment we surrender everything to Him, by His mercy and grace, we are raised up and placed into calm waters.  Are you drowning?  Just surrender!

By the way... My mother never allowed me back in the water and I got an ear full of "I-told-you-so". 
I love my mom!

Psalm 18:6 (NIV) In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help.  From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.