Friday, December 23, 2011

Not Always a Rockwell Christmas

Most of us have Christmas expectations. Many of these are erroneously based on previous Christmases even thought time and circumstances have changed. The players have changed, but we have these wistful memories.
However, with each Christmas, we have the opportunity to make new memories or start a new tradition. As long as we view life through the rear view mirror, we will miss the hope and joy of this Christmas.
Christmas is all about giving. If that stretches you, because you are looking at your bank account instead of your heart, start with a smile. Set a ridiculous goal like give 25 while at the grocery store. This means you make eye contact with someone and flash your biggest smile with 25 different people. The potential to change the environment in that store.
Well, what if you went to Wal-Mart this time of the year where you will have their notoriously long lines and you made eye contact and smiled at 25 people just while standing in line remembering how many people don't even have enough money to buy anything to stand in line for. What if you greeted the cashier with a hearty thank you for her part in your Christmas.
Shortly we are going to a nursing home to give gifts and sing, because you spell love T-I-M-E.
Some of these residents have been forgotten. A smile can make them feel remembered.
I may never have another Norman Rockwell Christmas, but I will always have a merry Christmas.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Poured from Vessel to Vessel

Yesterday as I was moderating a forum, a scripture was given that seemed out of context. So I thought this would be a good time to stop and have a Bible study. I decided to study Jeremiah 48:11 in the context it was written. It was a prophecy spoken over Moab.
In it was an illustration of winemaking processes and uses that as metaphor for
Moab. "Having settled in her lees." So I went to and looked at their commentaries (learned much from Chuck Smith's) and Dake's as well. I learned in those days when they made wine, they would pour the juice of the grape into a large container and then they would allow it to sit until it fermented. After fermentation, lees or dregs would begin to settle to the bottom of the vessel. And as these dregs had settled in the bottom of the vessel, then they would pour off the top into another vessel. Allow the settling process to go on again and then pour it off into the next vessel, back and forth from vessel to vessel. Letting the dregs settle down and developing the clarity and purity of the wine.
Here is the important part: if you did not pour the wine off of the dregs, then the dregs turn sour and they begin to smell. Jeremiah said, "This is the problem with Moab. It's been at ease and had never been attacked or pillaged. It was never poured from vessel to vessel. It is settled down on the lees which have turned sour. The stench remains. The wine tastes of the sourness of the lees. Thus Moab is to be destroyed."
The Lord showed me I was like that. I am a "don't rock the boat" kind of person or if it ain't broke, don't fix it mentality, but God's ways are so much higher than mine.
Isn't it interesting how that we often grumble at the processes of God in our lives. I am by nature a nester. I like my comfort. I am a chronic planner. Now I may not always work the plan, but my plan is my security blanket instead of FULLY trusting God. Did He tell us to pray give us theis DAY our DAILY bread, but I want it worked out til the end of the year or my five year plan. This is comfortable for me.
But where does that leave God? He would have to fit His ways into MINE. Hello?! That's NOT going to happen. That is self-idolatry.
So that verse was a wake up call for me. Whether it is me being poured from vessel to vesssel or someone I love, it is so we can be without stench of the world, without sourness and then when we pour into others, it will be with clarity and richness.
How many times have I asked God to use me and then I complain when the purification begins. He pours me into another vessel to leave the dregs and lees behind. The vessel I was fermenting in had become a hiding place. It was dark and cool. Just bubbling. There is nothing glamorous about fermenting, but it is safe.
In the past ten years, He has put me in one vessel to learn who I was and before I really got the fullness of it, He said now I am pouring you into another vessel to begin to show others what true beauty is and to make them feel loved. More recently He allowed me to write for others and stirred up my writing gift. Then abruptly He poured me back into one of the first vessels that had been cleaned. Again I am resting, there are less dregs, but there isn't yet that full-bodied bouquet that will come when it is my time once again to be poured out.
It reminds me of that worship song about being broken and poured out.
Hebrews 2:1 says, "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let [them] slip."
I work for a ministry. I have HEARD much, but have yet to apply even 50%. Much is in my head as I process, but for God's truth to become rhema, it has to get deep in my heart and flow through the life I live for Him.
This year has been a year where repeatedly God has been pouring me into one vessel and then another. I must have had a lot of lees and dregs.
God sure got my attention. He dealt with me. I had to repent.
When we do the 8Rs we are saying, "Oh, Lord, I'm sorry. Lord." Genuinely we are. We meant the vows when we made them to God. And we are genuinely sorry for our failures and for our drifting away from God. There are many ways God can just bring a disturbance into our lives. And God does allow them for that purpose of purifying us. We've got too much flesh. We're beginning to settle in a life of the flesh.
God says, "Thou stinketh. It's beginning to permeate your whole life. You're beginning to smell of the flesh." Therefore, God pours me into another vessel in order that He might refine me.
The history of Moab teaches that when that doesn't happen, it will be destroyed. God will have no other gods before Him.
Being broken and poured out allows me to be more like Jesus.