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Monday, October 31, 2011

Multiplication, God's way!

     Wine has been around since the beginning of time.  We find it first mentioned in the Book Of Genesis.  It has been both enjoyed, and abused.  Jesus's first recorded miracle is that of changing water into wine.
     By faith, believers readily accept the account of the wedding at Cana as the start of a life of walking in healings, miracles, signs and wonders.  Whether it was by a prayer offered up, or the command of His word; the molecular value of H2O turned into the sweetest wine that the party's host had ever tasted.
     Can you wrap your head around that?  Molecular change!  I guess it would be just like the time when man was fashioned out of the dust of the earth.  Only, on a less complicated scale.  Yet, what do I know? since I find it hard to get cooking recipes right.
     The other miracles of molecular change recorded in the gospels are those of food replication.  You remember, the taking of a few loaves of bread, and a couple of fish, and then feeding thousands of dusty,weary,hungry travelers after a lengthy sermon.  How does that happen?  It is so hard for our minds to grasp the idea.  So sadly, we then dismiss the reality of it.  Because it is our hearts, and not our minds that accept things by faith. Yet, when we hear of such truths in our own day.  It begins to stir our faith once again.  Recently, a good friend of ours, a winemaker no less, shared with us her amazing story of multiplication God's way.
      2011 was not a good year for the wine country of California's beautiful Central Coast.  More than usual rain, and a harsh cold snap, were not good to the vines and budding grapes early in the season.  Growing the spectacular vintages that this area is known for around the world, takes that special combination of rain,cool, heat, soil, and lots of hard work.  Grape yields this year by a general consensus in the industry were off by between 40 to 50% !  That is not good news were you need lots of product as well as sales to survive.
     For a small winery like our friends', it takes both hardwork and faith to get through each year, and come through with a good profit.  Facing dismal prospects, and the flurry of negative news that was echoing through this verdant valley, they thrust forward with trust in God.  As harvest drew to a close and the process of getting the sweet scarlet liquid into the rows and rows of oak barrels for it's hibernation to become wine; the vinter noticed a curious trend.  One that was running against both expectations, and the realities  all around them.
     Last year was one of the most productive for this little winery.  They produced over 1300 gallons of wine., a banner year.  Which was again their expectation for 2011, that was until the temperatures fell, and the rains came.  Based on that reality, they had readjusted their plans allocating only enough barrels to hold the projected vintage.  But, as the liquid concoction was being poured into the oak casks, she took note that though the harvest was less they had a problem.  They were running out of barrels to store the liquid gold.
     They filled up all of the barrels that they had on site for this years crop, yet they had NOT run out of wine.  Then came the scramble to get more barrels because of this happy, yet unexpected predicament.  They were able to get a hold of some more, and then began to fill them up.  First one, and then another, and then another,etc; all of them able to hold 65 gallons of the fermenting grape juice. 
     Now they did not necessarily call upon God for a miracle like that of Elijah and the widow.  But, what they do, and do faithfully is live for God one day at a time.  They pray and trust in Him for their provision and His favor.  This year, that is exactly what they got! You see when all the other wineries in the area got less harvest, less production, and less barreled  wine; they got more.  With a third of a ton less grapes, they were able to produce more gallons  per ton. In fact, they were able with all of the odds stacked against them to produce the same exact amount of fermenting grape juice as their banner year of 2010!  That is a God who is more than enough.
    
    
     

Monday, October 17, 2011

Miracle baby, thanking God for an open womb

     I am going to share a story from a dear young couple that we know, who if it weren't for answered prayers and God's healing power, would not now be a family of three.  I will let the father tell the story in his own words.
      Everything about my daughter's birth was a miracle.  My wife and I had been trying to have a baby for five years.  We weren't overly concerned about not getting pregnant until my wife had an ovarian cyst rupture!  The hospital was able to help with easing the pain, but part of the diagnosis was that it would now be nearly impossible to conceive a child.  We spent the next several months visiting specialists being tested for our fertility.  In the hopes of a better prognosis for my wife's condition, and our dreams of some day having a family of our own.  
     My wife was scheduled to have an exploratory procedure to hopefully deal with some of the medical issues and allow us to conceive a child.  The fertility center warned that my wife may need one of her ovaries removed.  During the months leading up to the procedure though, we had two very significant and extraordinary events happen.
     Friends from our church took us to the Santa Maria Healing rooms for prayer.  It was a very powerful time of uplifting and comforting prayer. It helped to boost our spirits as we felt God's  love and care through the prayers  of healing  that were spoken over us.  The second event was on the day that we were told that my wife needed to have the exploratory procedure, and the possibility of having her ovary removed.   The church that we attend, The Gate Vineyard Fellowship was hosting a conference.  One of the featured speakers that night had a word of knowledge about healing.  My wife and I went forward in faith to have him pray for us.  As he prayed he called out in the name of Jesus that the ovary would not be removed, and the other one would come back like new, and we would be able to have children.  One month later, my wife became pregnant!
     When it was time for the baby to be born, we found that our struggle in faith was not yet over.  My wife's water broke on a Friday.  The labor went really fast initially.  By 8:30 am on Saturday morning, my wife was pushing, but for some unknown reason the labor stalled.  The midwives became very purposed, and serious.  The mood in the room grew very tense.  My wife and I were both praying very fervently at this point as the midwives worked with us.
     It was during this time period, that we both saw two angels. One stood at either side of the bed. It wouldn't be until days later that we would each get to share with one another what we had seen during this time.  Yet, when we did talk about it, we confirmed with one another that each of us had seen one white angel and one blue angel. 
     It wouldn't be until 11:30 am that our beautiful daughter was born.  As it turned out the umbilical cord was only 12cm. long!  So literally the placenta had to move down in the uterus in order for our daughter to have been born.
     It was three years later, as I was playing with her in the backyard that she shared with me an amazing story.  Out of the blue, she just started talking to me about going to "the Angels' house".  I was taken aback at first, and asked her please explain.  She said that the angels took her to their house, and that Jesus was there in red pajamas.  She said she could stay with Jesus, but she decided to come to be with us instead.  According to my 3 year old, the angels took her to us, and helped her "over the fence" and there she was!  I was shocked, and amazed.  We had never shared with our daughter any of the events that surrounded her birth.  Yet, in the language of a three year old, it lined up all too well.
     Everyday I look at my daughter, and thank God!  She is such a miracle, and a reminder of His love and grace.  I thank Him everyday.
     My friend and his wife truly know how the Lord is the Lord of the impossible, of healing, and miracles.  After all, He is God!  When I first heard the story, I was also curious about among other things,about Jesus' red pajamas?   Because I have only seen Him in paintings and pictures in a white flowing robe.  Yet, as I searched the scriptures I found my answer that a 3 year old had seen before her birth.  In Rev.19:13 it says of Him, "He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God". 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Broken arms don't lead to death's door.

     Throughout the Word of God, He shows Himself to be the God of healing.  If you look into it, you will find that in some scriptures, one of the actual words used for salvation and healing is interchangeable. The two works of God's grace are so uniquely intertwined.  In His Word you will come to find that Jesus not only paid for your salvation at the cross.  But, He took the beatings so that you could be healed. also.
     There is no more humbling experience than to see someone miraculously healed. When all of man's medical knowledge, and technical experience come to a frustrated hopeless impasse.  It seems that the gentle loving hand of God moves, and His children are healed. Yet, when there is a child involved, faith seems to become slippery, and hope nothing more than a broken net.  It is then that only the peace and presence of God that will get you through the Valley of the Shadow of death.
     Years ago, my son broke his arm.  In the big scheme of things, a lot of children break their arms. For a curious ,rambunctious two year old, it was not necessarily an unheard of event, even if it was one that was not hoped for to happen. It was a simple break.
     He fell down, and hit it just right.  In fact, it was one of those types of breaks where you're just not quite sure that your child did actually hurt himself.  For anyone who has been around little children, you know that their resiliency is amazing!  But, not long after a few tell tale signs, we scheduled an appointment with the doctor to have it checked out.  The physician confirmed our suspicion.  The boy's arm was then cast with the color wrapping of his choice.  Blue, if I remember correctly.  Then, in the appropriate number of weeks, it would be removed to reveal an arm as good as new.
     But, the recovery was not normal.  I don't remember what the actual signs were that caused us to question our son's health during this time.  But I do remember that it was not every long before we were bouncing back and forth between the pediatrician and the orthopedic surgeon's office. The doctor then scheduled surgery to get a better idea as to what the problem was, and why the child was having fevers, and redness on the arm.  What I do recall was the rapidity in which he went from a healthy young tot to a very sickly boy laying days in a hospital bed with his mom constantly by his side.
     Even though the break was not bad, and never punctured the skin, our child somewhere had developed a serious staph infection.  Our very experienced pediatrician had never seen anything like it.  She valiantly tried 3 different antibiotics as each failed to short circuit the spread of the staph in his bloodstream.  I remember how his skin on his hands and feet began to peel, and how he weakly started to curl in a fetal position.  It had come down to the nursing staff pushing the doctors to having him transferred to a major metro hospital 200 miles to the south of us for better care.  Our pediatrician who had to travel out of state for personal business would call in a  daily to monitor the situation, and had asked to be immediately paged should there be a turn either way.
     Our church at the time was in serious prayer mode for this little child as was everyone we knew.  His mom attending his every moment and calling out from the heart to the only one who could heal him from this ravaging attack.  It was in one those deep, despairing, trying moments; that she heard it.  A still small voice from the heart of her being.  As she interceded for her child, as only a mother can, she heard His voice calling back to her.  It simply said, "blow on his belly". 
    Now, for some people this may seem ludicrous and may turn them off.  May I suggest to you that you not let your pride and misunderstanding of God block you from ever receiving from Him when He speaks to you.  She was humble enough, desperate enough, trusting enough; to actually believe that she had heard the voice of the Lord.  She obeyed.
    Initially, nothing happened,  it was still in the hands of faith, hope, and love.  Yet, within 24 hours time, the boy's fever was gone, and the skin was returning to normal. He would be released a day later, with a clean bill of health.  The nurses all told us afterwards in confidence, that he was at death's door and that they did not believe he would be walking out of the hospital. They thanked God for a miracle that day in the childrens' ward.
     His mom's faith in a loving God who at times uses the strangest ways of enacting His will was solidified.  She knows that it was the humble,trusting heart of faith that obeyed His still small voice that brought a little boy home that day.
    

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Middle East: It's all back to the future, again!

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words.  I believe that old adage to be very true.  Our minds work on many levels, and just relying on the written word is the level on which our brains remember the least.  Imagine that!  That is why I do think that we need words and pictures together, and why television and movies are some of the most powerful mediums of communication on the planet.  But, I am not here to give you a thesis on communication, but on Israel and it's significance in the end of time.
     No, I am not going into a lengthy diatribe on the subject.  There are far too many books out there that you could read on the subject.  In fact, I realize that if you continually follow my Blog you will read and see pertinent information regarding that subject over time. So, this is more like a pictorial Tweet. I am going to show you some pictures, and give you  scriptures, and then let you decide.  After all, that is what most teaching ,and if you like, preaching should do for you.  Bring to to a decision in your heart and mind, upon which you can base all future decisions.  It either, reinforces what you already believe, or causes you to change course.  It's that simple!
     So, here it goes. Ezekiel 38:1-     " And the word of the Lord came to me saying, Son of man set your face toward Gog of that land of Magog, prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him and say, "Thus says the Lord God, " behold  I am against you O Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal.  I will turn you about and put hooks into your jaws and I will bring you out, and all your army,horses, and horsemen, all of them splendidly attired, a great company with buckler, and shield, all wielding swords; Persia( modern day Iran), Ethiopia ( Modern day Ethiopia, and southern Eygpt), and Put( Modern day Libya, and North Africa), all of them with shield and helmet; Gomer ( South Central Europe/Armenia area), with all it's troops: Beth-Togarmah ( Areas of modern Turkey), from the remote parts of the north with all of it's troops - many peoples with you.    
   " Be prepared, and prepare yourself, you and all of your companies that are assembled about you, and be a guard fro them.  After many days you will be summoned; in the latter years you will come into the land that is restored from the sword, whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations to the mountians of Israel which had been a continual waste; but it's people were brought out from the nations, and they are living securely, all of them..." I would suggest that you read the rest of verses 10 through 23 to get the big picture.
     The following pictures are of 2 categories that I hope will help add another dimension to the words above, and give you that visual that you need to be impressed by the written words.  The Black and White pictures are of the land of Israel prior to it's founding in 1948.  They span about a 100 year period at the most.  But, please keep in mind that the scenes were the same when Napoleon was there in 1800 and were pretty similar when the Crusaders came in the Middle Ages.  I guess what I am trying to say is the land didn't change a whole heck of alot in the almost 2000 years since the Romans evicted the Jewish people in the year 70.
     The second set of pictures are from our modern era.  They show Israel in the late 20th century.  All taken within the relatively short time from which Israel became a state, and Jews from around the world immigrated there for freedom and security.  I know that if you have an open mind, you possibly see things in a different light?