Posts Tagged ‘new wine’

Photo by Mark Dodge Medlin

Paul refers to the “old self” as those behaviors, those superficial external actions that cloud and deceive the person within. I think of this old self as wavy glass, that glass we can sometimes see in the windows of historic houses. It’s beautiful in some ways, but truthfully it distorts, both looking as well as looking out.

Ephesians 4:22-24a
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, . . .

Wavy glass is transparent enough to be able to see what is on the other side, it’s just not clear. There are people all around me who are presenting this distorted self, yet unaware that they are doing it. With just a little extra effort, I could see the truth of what is there, just no detail.

It is not for me to break the glass, as though I know best because I am in relationship with the Christ. I think it better to say, “I see you” through acceptance and understanding and patience. Too often, I look at behaviors and appearance and language and thereby “write off” the other. Jesus was our model here: eating and drinking with “sinners.”

Jesus was/is clear glass. Everyone could see inside. That was the draw, the attraction.

I wish I could say that I was clear glass. But I’m getting better. Slowly. It’s a process.

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Acts 7:33
Then the Lord said to him [Moses], ‘Take off your sandals; the place where you are standing is holy ground…’ [Stephen to the Sanhedrin]

I have always thought Moses was told to remove his sandals because they defiled the ground. But today, as I read this passage, I see something new: it was important for Moses to actually feel that holy place with his feet. There was strength and truth and power that would touch him through the ground, that holy earth spot.

I don’t have much experience, background or tradition of holy places outside the church or in various para-church settings. But I think there would be more experiences if I would open myself to them. I too often cocoon myself away from seeking out holy places.

In the same way that Moses stepped onto holy ground initially in sandals, I clothe myself in tradition and limiting expectations. It’s time to take off my shoes…. again.

Some years ago, I was on the cutting edge of worship. I was listening to the Vineyard and Hillsong and even Maranatha before that. I was standing on the charismatic bandwagon and riding up front. I was dancing and praising and jumping and shaking and laughing. I was speaking in tongues and singing in the spirit. I was prophesying and interpreting. I was on fire.

But I don’t think I was standing in bare feet on holy ground. Not really. I was going through the motions (and emotions) of what it might mean to touch holy ground. Actually, all I did was put on a different pair of shoes than the more traditional churches were passing out to their congregants.

Today, there is another generation of believers who is trying to take off their shoes and experience God’s holiness. For some of us, it’s too different. They are getting their feet very dirty. They are slopping through some weird stuff, but they are persisting through the swamp and on to higher ground. They are loving God and loving Christ Jesus and loving their neighbors. They are emergents like the Emergent Village, they are Christianity 21, they are Catalyst, they are in “conversation.” They are connected virtually and face to face. They are Solomon’s Porch, Apex, House of Mercy, Ooze, Axxess, Sublime Remix, Boaz, Headspace, Cedar Ridge, Water’s Edge, Tribe, Resonance, Three Nails, Mars Hill, and ReIMAGINE, to name just a few. They are embracing Christ in our culture and sharing His relevance with those who have long since worn boots in all the holy and unholy places.

For the naysayers against this new brand of followership, I remind them of Gamaliel, “So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.” [Acts 5:38-39]

Lord, take my shoes this day and help me touch holy ground. Give me insight and transforming power. Give me courage to walk in this new place. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll dance again.

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John 15:26
“When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.”

The Counselor is the Spirit of Truth. This Counselor was promised by Jesus and sent out from the Father. The Counselor is not human but Spirit. This Counselor is still here.

In human terms, how does a counselor operate? A counselor is a listener. He/she is paid to listen, or if not paid, it’s a clear-cut part of the unwritten contract between the counselor and the client. A counselor cares about the client. A counselor is focused on the client and is interested in the progress of the client. A counselor is committed to the client.

A counselor is a mirror and assists the client in seeing him or herself more clearly. The counselor asks questions to help the client dig deeper. The counselor is an observer. The counselor is available and non-judgmental. The counselor is a truth-teller.

As believers, we have access to a Holy Counselor. But we tend to wait too long before we enter into dialogue with this counselor.

Instead, we tend to look to upon our triune God as a fixer. We act and when/if we act in error, we cry out for help. We are “reactive” and not “proactive” [that is, in the language of our current culture].

And it’s just like in “real life,” when we need the assistance of a human counselor, we must step away from our regular lives and schedule. We must commit to the time and energy and honesty it takes to look within. The counselor is a type of integrator but the process requires our trust and desire to move forward.

We must choose to enter into this relationship on the long term. The Holy Counselor is not into the quick fix. The Holy Counselor is in it with us for the long haul.

Holy Counselor, let us begin anew.

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John 2:9b-10
…Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

Jesus transformed the water into the “best wine” at the wedding in Cana. But, who noticed? The “master of the banquet” noticed and commented, but what about the rest of the guests? They were probably several “sheets to the wind” already. They probably missed the wonderful aroma, the nuance, the color, the details. They just got more of what they wanted. For them, wine was wine.

Do we do the same thing? Are we so caught up in our day-to-day that we miss the best wine, we miss the transformed moment, the transformed person? Do we allow our expectations and assumptions to lull us asleep?

As I continue writing these meditations, I am so often driven back to the same message about opening the self to the world. These messages are for me… for my heart, for my mind: Wake up! I hear Him say!

O, taste and see, the Lord is Good! [Ps 34:8]

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