Monday, October 13, 2014

Reflecting on Life

And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better.’ (Lu 5:39)

In September I celebrate 41 years of attempting to study and teach the Bible. I must say that upon reflection, I must confess that I have so much further to go in my understanding of God's Word, and that there are many portions that to this day remain in many way obscure, even opaque. I more deeply realize that at this time I am looking through a glass, darkly (1 Co 13:12) and need more illumination of the Spirit then ever before.

So much of what I read is difficult to truly understand in the deepest portion of my soul. I truly want to, and seek God to impart to me not only understanding, but depth of experience and I grieve at my own inability to completely practice all that the Lord has given to me to preach. In a similar but not identical way, like Isaiah of old, I realize that I have a message that I give that is beyond my understanding and experience. I remember him preaching "woes" to Israel, and then when he himself sees the Lord in His Temple can only say "woe is me!" I would assume that personal revelation to be the real foundation of a proclaimer of God's truth, a personal knowledge of one's own sinfulness and a revelation of God's holiness.

Over the years, God has been increasingly good to me, for which I stand truly humbled and thankful. A faithful and loving wife, children that follow the Lord (even if imperfectly, like me), grandchildren that make up my very heartbeat, friends that are very special to me, and a church that contains many who actually love me, warts and all. Amazing.

After 41 years, I desire to remain fresh and open to what the Spirit wants to do today. Being a veteran of the Jesus Movement brings with it a certain sentimental love for what God did in my and so many other lives in our early days. I have fond memories of fellowship with other believers that was daily, and of times that we would gather after bible studies to just share and think about what God spoke to our hearts that night, and how we could put the truths we received into practice. It was new wine deposited in new wineskins.

I want to have a heart that appreciates the new wine, and do not want to become an old wineskin.

This is something that we older believers need to be on guard against. Especially as we look at a younger generation that is being entrusted with the eternal truths of the gospel. We forget where we ourselves came from, and how long it has taken for Jesus to break us of sinful habits and un-Christlike attitudes. We see younger people and think that they somehow are supposed to act like older and more mature saints, and grow frustrated when we don't see maturity in them, a maturity that sometimes is sadly lacking even in our own lives.

Amazing isn't it, how we can point fingers at others about things we ourselves have been guilty of in the past?

I think of my friend Raul's son, Ryan. Raul has been a faithful messenger of Jesus for many years, and to his heartbreak had a son who rejected the gospel and lived a terribly sinful life. For many years Ryan has been dear to Marie and me, and we prayed for him without knowing how deeply lost he had become. It was our great joy to hear that God grabbed his heart, and to see him today preaching and sharing the love of God is a blessing to our hearts that causes tears to form in our eyes.

I wonder how many "mature saints" prayed for him during his difficult years? I wonder how many judged Raul and Sharon as ungodly, or unqualified to serve the Lord based on their view of what "holiness" is and their personal view of properly raising children? Perhaps they could have remembered their own sinful past, which would have provided a platform of mercy that could have been extended to the son who was breaking his parent's hearts. It is always good to remember that Jesus did not come for the well, but for the sick. He did not come for the righteous, but the sinners and His desire for us is to learn what it means when God says "I desire mercy and not sacrifice". This applies to all people, and I for one thank God for those who did not give up on Ryan, and who did not give up on Raul.

Old wineskins.

May God move on the older generation to patiently love and lead the younger. They need our love and our guidance, and they look at the way we treat each other and them and come to conclusions about the goodness and mercy of God. No, we do not condone and accept sin. Sin put our Savior on a cross, a most painful and shameful death. But at the same time, we must seek God to enable us to care for others, pray for others, receive our brothers and sisters, and to be available to help them to see how good our God really is.

May we love Jesus more then we love our own opinions.

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