Saturday, February 22, 2014

Maggie the Wonder Dog is Confounded by Tragedy

My fans know that Wonder Dogs are supposed to be wonderful all the time. We have to be at our best in good times and in bad. Today, however, has been worse than bad. It has been confoundingly awful. The unimaginable has happened to me, and I still can't believe it. 

Just yesterday, my mama gave me a new shirt that said "Barking Diva". Being a Diva is not bad. Even one of the other mommies at play day said I am a "cute little Diva Dog". I thought my mama liked me being a Diva Dog. Until today. 

It happened like this. My mama woke me up early and said, "Hey Maggie, you want to go to the barn with me? No leash!" Thst usually means I can run and play as much as I want. I sure did want to go! So I went!  I ran, and ran, and ran. I dug holes and sniffed them out. I got just a little dirty.  My mama was dirty from the barn, too, so she went inside and got all fixed up, but she let me play some more. What a great way to start a Saturday!

The next thing I know, mama is carrying me inside and locking me in the kitchen. She said, "I need to run some errands and you are too dirty to go with me."  She did not say she was mad at me. She did not! She just said ERRANDS. That usually means groceries and Maggie treats. Today, oh no. There were no Maggie treats today. 

When my mama came home, she had a brown and white furry thing and she said, "Look Maggie! I brought you a friend!" What kind of treat is that?? I wanted jerky! (You can never have too much jerky!). Jerky is a treat. That furry friend business might work with cats but it does not work with Wonder Dogs. We know a treat when we see one, and that is NOT it!!

I told my mama I did not want a treat like that and my mama said, "Oh dear! You have gotten this treat anyway! This is Mamie and she is here to stay!" I told my mama that I do not even want to look at that brown and white creature and she said, "Okay.  But you might like having a friend to play with." I did not even look at my mama when she said that! "I have friends and I do not need another one!" I said as I ran away from that brown thing. 

My mama keeps saying it is not a "thing" it's a puppy and she is my adopted sister. I have a family already. My mama and my boy Ryan are my family. I don't want a sister!

I have been so sad. My mama has tried to snuggle me, but I can smell the brown thing. She has snuggled it, too. Can you believe that? I have been betrayed! I can't snuggle up to that. I just can't. 

I heard my mama talking to Jesus. She said, "Oh Jesus, please help Maggie and Baby Mamie! I don't know what else to do. We need your help!" Later, she told me Jesus will help me. "I promise He can help and He will," she said. If He's helping, I sure can't tell it yet. 

I just feel awful and so, so, so sad. 

I don't know what will happen to me. 

I'm afraid. Maybe brown things don't get dirty in the mud. Maybe my mama will like the brown thing better than me. 

I'm so afraid. 

My mama said,"It's okay, sweet Maggie. Some things just take a little time, and this will, too. I still love you!"

That's good. But I'm still afraid. 

I'm still worried. 

I still feel all alone. 

(To be continued)

Part 21: quality Grapes (Luke 5:37)

And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. (Luke 5:37 NASB)

There are almost as many techniques for winemaking as there are winemakers. There is one thing that is common to all winemakers, however. Quality fruit is essential to have a quality endpoint. The single most important factor in the production of quality wine is the fruit with which you begin. None of the intervening steps make as much difference as the beginning fruit.  The manner of crushing, type of yeast, or timing of racking can vary. The fruit quality cannot. 

Here's the amazing thing. Every person is created in the image of God. Every person begins as the equivalent of "quality fruit".  Every person begins their life with full potential for transformation into someone vital and refreshing in the Kingdom of God. It has been said before, but it bears repeating. There is no one so far from God, so lost in sin, that they are beyond His grace. Life choices and life experiences can have a dramatic and long-lasting, often devastating effect, but it can be overcome by the mercy and grace of God. 

As we pray for our loved ones, remember that, no matter their life choices, they still retain that "image of God" with which they began. The very part of them that brings the greatest quality and value remains. In the transformation that only God can bring, the journey will still start with "quality fruit". Do not lose heart. 

Pray today that our loved ones will respond to the call of God with eager anticipation for the journey of transformation and that change we can see will be soon. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Sawdust Trail by Jimmy D. Carr Th.D.

Jesus Christ, in the Gospel of John 14:4, tells us that "where He was going, people knew where He was going, and the way there was plain." (paraphrased)

Jesus says he has plainly marked the way to Heaven.  Man is taught that Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven.

In the early 20th century, a young major league baseball player named Billy Sunday became a Christian.  He was later called to preach.  During his many years of preaching, this evangelist held a number of tent revivals.  In preparation for the meetings, the floors of the tents would be covered with sawdust. People who walked down the aisle to receive Christ as Savior and Lord would be said to be "walking down the sawdust trail."

This was not the beginning of the "sawdust trail", however.  In the early days of logging in the Northwest, lumberjacks used sawdust, too.  They would fill sacks with sawdust and, when they headed into a deep, dark, unknown forest, they would cut a small hole in the sack and throw that big sack over their shoulder.  The sawdust would fall from the hole and mark their path.  When they were ready to head out, the lumberjacks would follow their "sawdust trail" back to their family and friends.

Jesus Christ has marked the path for you and me.  It is a simple path that leads from Calvary all the way to Heaven.  Be assured, dear ones, this path is the ONLY path that leads to eternal life.  Jesus tells us that He IS the way, and that we know that way.  The question is not "What is the way?".  The question is, "Will we follow that way?"

Just as evangelist Billy Sunday asked people to walk down that sawdust trail on receiving Christ, and those lumberjacks trusted the trails marked with sawdust, you and I are called to trust Jesus Christ as "the way, the truth, and the life."

Jesus loves you.

Jesus loves you and calls for you to find your own sawdust trail.  He longs for you to find your pathway out of sin and darkness.  Follow His sawdust trail.  You will not be misled.

Part 20: Second Racking (Luke 5:37)

And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. (Luke 5:37 NASB)

The secondary fermentation (really just a continuation of fermentation) takes several weeks. The must and sediment have been separated and the grapes are now immature wine. The yeast that have survived thus far will complete the fermentation process, producing as much as 30% of the total alcohol during this time. As the immature wine sits, the sediment still suspended will separate and fall to the bottom of the container. Evidence of the ongoing work can be seen as less frequent bubbles of carbon dioxide on the surface or in the airlock. 

At the end of several weeks, the wine will be racked again, finally transferring it to bottles. Every bit of fermentation must be complete, however, or carbon dioxide  will build up in the bottle and cause it to burst, losing all the wine the winemaker has worked so hard to produce. 

During this final racking, the transfer technique is especially important. Not one bit of sediment should be transferred. The goal is not cloudy, foul tasting wine. The goal is perfect clarity, or transparency, in the wine.

Transparency should be our goal, too. We need to be so clean inside (spiritually speaking) that there is nothing to hide, and nothing of ourselves to cloud the view of Christ in us. 

Consider your own heart today. Are there attitudes or "secret" sins that you hide from those with whom you desire to share Christ? Is there any sediment that needs to be cleared? In winemaking, the only way to remove the sediment is to siphon the wine away from it, making a clean and complete break between the wine and the cloudy sediment. Is there something clouding the transparent view of Christ in you? Maybe it's time to make some changes.  

Pray today that we would have such transparency of spirit that our loved ones can see straight through to the Christ in us, and that the view they see will be clear rather than distorted by any "sediment" we've allowed to remain. Pray that the view of Christ we present would be so attractive that our loved ones would desire a relationship with Him for themselves and begin their own journey of transformation. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Yes and No

A friend of mine and his wife are facing major life changes. He was praying about what to do and, his text said, the instructions he received were, "Ask Leanna."  I'm still praying, but this story is part of my answer. 

More than a decade ago, I spent several years taking a major American city as my prayer focus each year. My city of focus one particular year was Chicago.  For months, I had been praying for revival there.  I had written a 40-day prayer guide, and I had spoken to numerous groups, recruiting people to pray with me for Chicagoland.  

I had planned a prayer walk/exploratory trip to the city so that I could evaluate the ministry opportunities and needs.  The week before I was to leave, it looked as if nothing was going to come together.  I was to stay with people I didn’t really know.  There was no clear plan for each day.  I became more nervous with each passing day.  

Over and over, I prayed, “Lord, make it clear what I’m to do.  Why am I going?  What am I to do when I get there?  This doesn’t make sense to me.  I look like a nut trying to explain that I’m going somewhere, but I don’t know exactly where, and I don’t know what I’m going to do when I get there, nor do I know exactly how long I’m going to stay.  This is crazy, and I don’t like it!” God was very quiet.  He did not fill in the details, nor did He let me off the hook.  His last instruction to me had been to go.  As far as I could tell, nothing had changed.  

Two days before I was to leave, I was almost overwhelmed with the desire to cancel.  I didn’t want to make the 12-hour drive and I certainly didn’t want to maneuver in big-city traffic.  I just wanted to stay home on my little farm, bake bread, and pick vegetables.  Truthfully, I began to practice how I would explain away my failure to obey.  “God closed that door at the last minute,” was the explanation I thought most likely to succeed.  Neither my friends nor my family were comfortable waiting for God to reveal the plan until I arrived on site in Chicago, and they would have welcomed my decision to cancel.  

The day before my trip, I had already cancelled – in my mind.  Then, I thought about how I would explain the decision to Ryan.  My twelve-year old son was not easily deceived.  He knew I was sure that God had told me to go.  There was no way to cancel and still save face with him.  I had to go.  Once again, I sat down to discuss the trip with the Lord, but with a new attitude.  “Lord,” I prayed, “I want to do what You want.  I just don’t understand, and I don’t know how to carry out a plan I can’t recognize.  Show me what to do.”  I was willing to do anything, no matter how silly I looked to the people around me.  

I sat back down at the computer and checked my email again.  Sylvie Raquel, my Chicago contact, had sent me a message.


just found out that the church close by is hosting a mission group of 10 college students for 2 weeks. Their original plans fell so they ended up among us. They will be doing some prayer walks as well as helping churches. If you are interested, I can connect you with them. One person

has volunteered to be their chauffeur with a van, so you could maybe drive with them. I think that they are going downtown Chicago on Thursday. Let me know if you are interested.  Sylvie

There are no words to describe how grateful I was for that precious email.  There was a plan!  God had worked everything out, weaving together enthusiastic college students from Oklahoma and a reluctant prayer warrior from Mississippi to accomplish His work.  He even provided someone else to do the “city driving.”  

Needless to say, I went.  The trip was wonderful.  The driving was (mostly) easy.  The students were a delight.  My hosts were gracious and kind.  Enroute to Chicago, the plan completely unfolded and I knew exactly what to do when I arrived. God had everything worked out. But not before my heart was willing to go without a plan.  

The last morning in Chicago, I opened my Bible to Matthew and read:  

A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said ‘Son, go to work today in the vineyard.’  And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he regretted it and went.  The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered ‘I will, sir’; but he did not go.  Which of the two did the will of his father?’
Matthew 21:28-31 NAS

How close I had come to being the second son, saying I would go, but not going!  It was all because God had a plan but He hadn’t told me. 

Is God asking you to do something you don't understand? Has He asked you to go without clearly outlining all your steps? 
We serve a God who is always dependable, always faithful.  Obedience is not always easy, but it’s always best – even when you can’t see the plan. Next time God says “Go,” say, “Yes.”
Then, do it.

Part 19: The Racking (Luke 5:37)

And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. (Luke 5:37, 38 NASB)

The entire process of converting grapes to wine is fairly amazing. The grapes are harvested, crushed, put in a vat, yeast is added, and the work begins. First the yeast reproduce, then they gobble up all the available sugars in the must. The period of yeast "eating sugar" is known as fermentation. During this time, the yeast give off waste products of alcohol and carbon dioxide. Because the carbon dioxide is a gas and is formed at the bottom of the vat, we can "see" the action of tiny bubbles (that seethe at times) on the surface of the vat. This fermentation over the first few days (7-10 days) is called primary fermentation. As the yeast use up the available sugars, the alcohol that is released begins to build up to levels that are toxic to the yeast. There comes a point when the level of alcohol is greater than the yeast can survive, and they begin to die. 

To bring the wine to full fermentation, an intervention is required. The wine must be "racked".  That is an odd term for transferring the wine to a second container. The transfer separates the developing wine from the dead yeast cells and the sediment of the fruit (leftover from the crushing) so that the fermentation can be completed. Winemakers call this secondary fermentation. This is not a second fermentation.  It is a completion of THE fermentation. 

You may remember (from the section on crushing) that the skin, seeds, and pulp from the wine's former life as a grape are allowed to remain for a while. Eventually, the remnants of the crushing will have to go, and this is the point where it is all removed. The grape will never be thought of as a grape again. Although it is not fully mature wine, it's well on its way and that former grape will forever after be considered wine. It is transformed. The process is not yet complete, but it is clearly underway. 

It's amazing to me that God, in His infinite mercy is so gentle to us. He tempers the crushing with His great love, allows us to keep the remnants of our former life far longer than seems sensible, and at the point where that former life has lost its luster for us, He separates us from it completely. We are transformed through this amazing process. It's a process all maturing believers experience. Where are you in this fermentation process?  Where is your loved one?

Pray today that we and our loved ones would quickly reach the end of our "primary fermentation", that point where our old life and old ways are stripped away, and we are transformed in such a way that we are "never a grape" again. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The struggle about the wine

Today was the eighteenth day that I have written about Luke 5:37 and the business of new wine and fresh wineskins. I've agonized over this series as with none previously. During the fifteen years of my prolific writing career, nothing has been this hard. I've worried that I was giving a bad impression. I've feared that I, the adult daughter of an addict, might lead someone into a potentially addicting substance. I've been concerned that my college-student son might see the series as an excuse to drink alcohol with abandon. I dispaired over giving instruction without seeming to give permission.

Late this afternoon, my boss and I were discussing the series. "You've written about everything but the wine. When are you going to get to the wine?" he asked. After my absurd litany of excuses about the writing, he said something so profound. "Why is the wine so hard? Jesus held out the wine and said 'This is My blood, shed for you.'  It's all about the blood of Jesus and THAT is what matters. You don't have to be afraid of the blood of Christ."  

Indeed. Somehow, I've been frightened by what man has made of what Jesus died to give... His lifeblood that set me free. Jesus drank wine, Jesus made wine, Jesus was the wine. In that last Seder meal, He was the cup of Redemption. The wine in that cup was a beautiful symbol of what Jesus would soon spill on their behalf.  On my behalf. On your behalf. 

As the disciples watched from afar while blood dripped down His head from the piercing of the crown of thorns, they must have remembered that Cup of Redemption. I doubt red wine ever looked the same to them again. It would, forever after, be a reminder of all Christ taught, all He gave, all He would share when they joined Him in eternity. 

In the same way that Jesus turned water to wine at Cana, He turns our communion wine, our Cup of Redemption, to His blood. It is a mystery I will never fully understand, and one I will never need to understand. It is a symbol and a divine transformation that Jesus chose, and that is enough for me. It is faith in the redemptive blood of Christ that sets me free, and there is nothing to fear. 

I've suddenly understood, after eighteen agonizing days, that, when I'm writing about wine, I'm really writing about the blood of Christ, and there is no more precious topic in this world. Like the disciples, wine will never look the same to me again. 

I learned it as a little girl, and I'm reminded of it again tonight. "What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus." 

Part 18: The Crushing (part 2) (Luke 5:37)

And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. (Luke 5:37 NASB)

The crushing - part 2 

As we have discussed before, the grapes must be crushed in order to release the juice and separate the pulp. The word "crush" indicates considerable force, and is often thought of as pulverizing something to a powder. That kind of crushing would be catastrophic to the wine. The crushing required by grapes is firm, steady pressure until the tough outer skin opens and the sweet pulp and juice are released. There is quite a difference between pulverizing and crushing grapes. Crushing brings a sweet release. Pulverizing does more than open the hard skin. It releases bitter oils in the skin and seeds. Pulverizing is so  destructive to the fruit that it causes a bitter flavor to the wine that fermentation cannot overcome. 

Gentleness in the crushing is required to produce the best possible wine from the grapes. Isn't that an amazing concept? How grateful we should be that our Lord does not pulverize us as He works in us for transformation. Instead, His gentle, constant pressure insistently presses until our tough protective skin is torn, the sources of bitterness are removed, and only the sweet part remains. What is left is the very part that can be used to make the best of wine. 

When those we love are in the far country of destruction, it is common for us to desire one of two things for them. Either we want them to be spared all consequences or we, in our anger, want them crushed (aka pulverized), thinking that will "get it out of them". Neither of those options will bring sweet transformation. Those who are prodigals need the same intervention we all have needed - enough crushing pressure to release the sources of bitterness, tear away our self-sufficiency, and leave us malleable and liquid in the Vintner's gentle hands. 

Pray today that our loved ones will experience the firm, steady, but gentle pressure of The Lord in such a way that bitterness is removed and complete transformation results. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


“Jesus answered, ‘It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him.’”  
John 9:3 NASB

When the child was born, there was great anticipation and great joy, until it became obvious that the much wanted son was blind.  Blindness meant that he would never have a job, a family, or  a home of his own.  He would never support himself except by begging.  Someone had sinned, or so it seemed, and sightless eyes were the punishment.  Those eyes remained sightless for many years.  The family remained in darkness, for they simply did not understand.
Finally, Jesus arrived.  His disciples, too, thought that the man’s burden was caused by sin.  “Whose?” they asked.  Jesus explained that the blindness had nothing to do with sin, but was simply an opportunity for God’s works to be displayed.  It was a demonstration that was not yet complete.

The blind beggar was just trying to get enough money to make it another day.  He probably never saw his life in terms of the miraculous things to come.  His parents probably did not either.  No one saw anything miraculous in his position by the temple that blessed day.  No one but Jesus.  When Jesus looked at the beggar, He saw a miracle that had been in the making for years.  It came to fruition that day, and the beggar’s sight was restored.
Do you have adversity in your life?  Does it seem to be never-ending?  Sometimes adversity is prolonged so that God’s perfect will can be accomplished.  Try looking at your situation from His perspective. Maybe what you have is not adversity, but a miracle in the making.

Part 17: The Raisins (Luke 5:37)

And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. (Luke 5:37 NASB) 

Raisins. That seems an odd topic for a morning devotional, doesn't it?  They are perfect for a morning breakfast cereal or even a mid-morning snack. If you are trying to make wine from grapes, however, they are not so good. 

When harvesters pick the special varieties of grapes used in making wines, those grapes are earmarked from the beginning for wine. They are not destined to be table grapes (the ones we eat) or raisins. As wine grapes, they go straight into the wine-making process. Inevitability, there are some grapes that are missed in the harvest. Those grapes may be perfectly juicy and ripe, but they were missed in the harvest for one reason or another. Left alone on the vine, they will eventually wither and dry up, forming what we call a raisin. Raisins on the vine may be a tasty surprise, but they are, sadly, a failure of harvesting. 

When I raised grapes, there were always stragglers that matured later than the first grapes. They were no less tasty, they simply required additional picking. The only way to prevent what I call vine-raisins is to return to the field after the first round of harvesting and check the vines again. 

For the Christian, we are called to the harvest by Christ Himself. It is our God-appointed job to share the gospel with as many as we can and bring as many people as possible to faith in Christ. Just as God expects the "whole tithe", He also expects the "whole harvest".  He is not willing for any to perish and we should not be, either. 

It is easy to look at the bulge on a grape vine and think, "That will never be a grape."  It is also easy to look at someone who is estranged from Jesus and think, "They will never be saved." We may be wrong in both cases. We are not called to predict what will happen. We are called to stay in the fields until the entire harvest is gathered. 
I shudder to think what would have happened to me and my son if someone hadn't "returned to the fields" for me. 

There is no one who is beyond God's grace and they should not be beyond our willingness to reach out to them, either. Do not be deceived. We will be accountable for the fruit left in the field because of unwillingness or plain laziness on our part. 

As we pray today, ask for eyes to see the "fields that are white unto harvest" and that God will show you where He wants you to work.  Pray for willing laborers and receptive hearts. Pray that perfect laborers will work the fields where our own prodigals reside and that those workers will stay the course until ALL the harvest is in. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Micah's Message

Micah may not be the most familiar character in the Bible, but his life can teach us some important lessons.  He was a contemporary of Isaiah and was the last prophet God sent to Israel.  Micah warned that judgment was near.  Much to the surprise of those living in Israel, God did exactly what Micah had prophesied.  
Micah’s assessment of Israel was shockingly blunt.  “You stay up late to plan your next day’s sin,” he accused. It was obvious that evil deeds were not simply an occasional mistake, but the usual way of doing things.  Idolatry, immorality, and rebellion were rampant.  “All God wants from you is that you do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God,” he insisted.  It seemed an easy choice to Micah.  Right living would bring a right relationship with their God.  Continued rebellion would bring judgment.  Micah envisioned a court scene in which God was prosecutor, witness, and judge.  The verdict would not be pretty, and the sentence would not be easy.  
Israel must have been a very difficult place for a man of righteousness to live, but Micah made one thing abundantly clear to those around him:  he was living for God, whether anyone else did, or not.  His statement of faith in Micah 7 is worth having as our own.  

“As for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord;
I will wait for the God of my salvation.
My God will hear me.
Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy.
Though I fall I will rise;
Though I dwell in darkness, the Lord is a light for me.”
Micah 7:7-8   nasb

Look carefully at Micah’s words.  He recognizes that he’ll make mistakes.  He knows he will sin.  The difference between Micah and those around him is that Micah doesn’t expect to stay down when he falls.  He plans ahead of time to get back up and try again.  He knows he doesn’t have to wander in the darkness of sin, wondering what he should do next or which way he should go.  God is, and will continue to be, the light on his path.  He doesn’t have to be afraid.  Micah knows that, when he calls out to God, He will hear.  He knows God is listening, and he knows He will answer.  Micah is so confident of God’s active involvement in his life that he is on the edge of his seat eagerly watching to see what God will do next.  
Do you, like Micah, feel as if you are living in a dark and sin-infested place?  Are the people around you headed for the calamity of judgment or the blessings of obedience?  If you feel overwhelmed in the midst of the society in which you find yourself, remember the truth of Micah’s life.  God is who He says He is, and He does what He says He’ll do.  When you fall, He’ll lift you up.  When you can’t find your way, He’ll be your light.  You can count on Him, so keep your eyes open.  You never know what He’ll do next, and you certainly don’t want to miss it.  All He asks of you is to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with Him.  He’ll take care of all the rest.  

          ©6/2006 Leanna Hollis

Day 16: Harvest Styles (Luke 5:37)

And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. (Luke 5:37 NASB) 

When the grapes are ripened, they must be gathered in order for them to become wine. Left in the field, they will either rot or dry up. You might end up with raisins, but you won't get wine that way. Harvesting is essential and not optional. 

There are all kinds of harvesting styles. Some people want to pick as many grapes as possible, as quickly as possible, and pile their gathering basket as high as possible. There is the benefit of gathering many grapes, but the risk of crushing the tender grapes under the weight of the pile. Remember, the grapes will be crushed, but the field is not the place for the crushing. It is essential to protect those young "fresh-picked" grapes so that they can become the rich wine that the vineyard owner planned. 

Some harvest workers only want to pick certain grapes. I overheard a church member talking to a person in another denomination. "Are you still feeding those homeless people?" To the affirmative reply, she answered, "Good, because we don't want them at our church!"  It broke my heart. I thought Jesus wanted homeless people there with us, too! In fact, I'm pretty sure He does!

What we need to understand as the body of Christ is that we are called to be laborers in the harvest. We are called to gather ALL the harvest, not just those who are most to our liking. As laborers, we are to respond with the love of Christ to every person He brings into our life and we are to protect and nurture them so that they can become the mature believer Christ intends. 

Pray today that we can see our loved ones and their friends through the eyes of Christ. Pray that we will respond with the love of Christ in such a way that both our loved ones and those in their circle of influence will be drawn to Him. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Seeking the Lost

 “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.  I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”  Luke 19:10, 15:10

I was sweeping out my new clinic and Ryan was buzzing around with all the enthusiasm a seven-year-old boy could muster.  I heard someone speak and turned around.  To my surprise and delight, the potter was standing in the hallway.  He had come to look for us.
Weeks had passed since we last went to the pottery.  Nothing was wrong.  We were just very busy.  I had called the first time or two we missed, and then sent him a message by one of the other students.  After a while, I just figured he knew we would get back when we could.  We had talked about it several times, about how we needed to get back there.  At first, we were going before Christmas, and then it was before New Year’s.  Finally, we just hoped to get there eventually.
That was not good enough for the potter.  He did not wait for good intentions to materialize.  He just drove to where we were most likely to be, looking until he found us.  He didn’t stay long.  He simply wanted to check on us and tell us he had missed us.  
As he headed out to his van, I remembered the verse about the Son of Man who came to seek and save that which was lost.  It looked to the potter as if we were lost, and he came looking.  It is a lot like what Jesus did for me; what He always does.  Every time I have ever strayed, He has come looking for me.  He looks until He finds me.
It is a shame, really, that the potter had to come looking for us, but the real tragedy is how Jesus has to search for us, over and over again.  I guess I have had a little trouble over the years staying “found”.  The potter was looking for us because he loves us.  That’s why Jesus looks for us, too.  He loves us, even when we do not love back enough to stay in touch.
Since that afternoon, I have been wondering how much fuller my life would be if I sought those who drift out of my life with the same diligence the potter showed toward us.  More importantly, how much fuller would my life be if I sought Jesus with that same intensity?  It’s something to think about, isn’t it?  Maybe, just maybe, it’s reason to make a few changes, too.

The yeast (Luke 5:37)

And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. (Luke 5:37 NASB)

The list of ingredients for making wine is pretty short. Grapes + yeast + sugar are enough to make wine. Sometimes additional water or clarifying agents are added, but for basic winemaking, grapes, yeast, and sugar are enough. In fact, if the grapes are sweet enough, you could potentially make wine with only grapes and yeast. 

When the grapes are crushed and the yeast is added, transformation begins, and continues until the winemaker stops the fermentation or until the yeast dies. Isn't that interesting? The yeast gives its life to accomplish transformation of fruit to wine. 

Wow! That's exactly what Jesus did for us, isn't it? In the same way that the work of the yeast is completed in its death (otherwise the wine would be spoiled), the work of Christ was completed on the cross and demonstrated by his resurrection. What He has already done is enough. 

As we consider our loved ones today, pray that they will embrace the finished work of Christ and allow the life-giving transformation only He can give.