The Wheat and the Grape – A Sacred Harvest




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I read in Our Daily Bread today that “our Savior hung between Heaven and earth
to bear every sin of every generation on His shoulders.”
He hung between Heaven and me . . .
What pain it gives me to revisit that scene . . .
But the above statement led me to think deeply about
what He had told his disciples
and us,
only the night before He hung there – 
what we must do to remember Him;
to remember who He was,
to remember what He did,
how He did it,
and why.

As I pondered,
and contemplated,
and thought,
“The Lord’s Supper is absolute genius”
is what I concluded.

(not that I think I’m the first, nor the only one, to proclaim that)
(and I know that I foolishly reiterate the obvious,
because of course it’s genius, it’s Jesus! )

He broke the bread and compared it to His body
which would imminently be broken for us.
He poured the wine out and compared it to His blood
which would soon be poured out for us.

“He hung between Heaven and earth.”
He was, and is now, intermediary between us and The Father.
Not as a wall, but as a bridge.
He made a way to raise us to His shoulders,
thus standing between us and the evil one “in the earth”.

As for myself, there is far more here than “meets the eye”.
Have you ever thought about how grains
like corn, barley, rye, and wheat are all separated
from the earth by a woody stem?
The seed head of the wheat plant is the “fruit”, in a sense,
that we use to make our bread.

The same applies to “the fruit of the vine”;
tomatoes, cucumbers, kiwi, guava, and, get this – passion fruit –
and predominantly, grapes.
All grow above the ground on woody or semi-woody vines.
They all contain juice, but grape juice makes “traditional” wine.
(side note: there is great debate whether Jesus’ “fruit of the vine” was unfermented juice, or wine)
I’m in the wine camp because wine stores better, not to mention that the Bible states “wine”.
I won’t even dwell on apple, orange, peach, plum trees, or berry bushes,
each of which produce juicy fruit on woody stems;

but I’m getting off track.

The point is that grapevines, like wheat plants,
produce their fruit “between Heaven and earth” on woody stems,
and the final product of both were used at the Lord’s Supper.
The Last Supper of our Lord!

By now you may be making the connection I’m getting at.
Lord Jesus compared His body to a broken loaf of bread,
and His covenantal blood to the poured-out juice of the grape,
in order that:
“as often as you
eat this bread
and drink this cup,
you will do so in remembrance of Me.”
Connecting His spiritual Self to the physical act of
eating and drinking something specific,
is brilliant in my estimation.

It makes the act sacred, and simultaneously
makes our remembrance of Him sacred.
But for me, it doesn’t end there.
Jesus was always using agricultural metaphors because,
I assume, most everyone in His day knew something of the subject.
Is it a great leap to make that He also connected Himself
with the fruit of the earth?

With harvest?
With life-giving, life sustaining, food and drink?
With saving us from spiritual starvation?

If that connection is only for me to make
in order to strengthen my faith in Him,
to take me deeper into our relationship,
to tell me more of the story I long to know more about,
or to give me insight into something so sacred
that I scarcely can digest it,
Then so be it.
You, dear reader, can make of it what you will.
If it doesn’t do anything for you; if it sounds wrong, leave it.

But here’s the thing:
I maintain that Jesus not only connected Himself to
The Bread and The Cup,
But also to the wheat and the grape.
Rich and ripe,
He stood like a sturdy stalk of wheat
before a terrible threshing,
and He hung like a beautiful cluster of grapes
before a horrible crushing.
He stood and He hung there between Heaven and earth,
between us and oblivion,
between us and eternity,
to intentionally endure the torture of threshing,

and the horrible crushing pain – for us, dear reader. . .
The first and best fruit of the earth,
until the harvest was finished.
He made Himself our everything,
even our spiritual food and drink.
Essential, lifesaving, sacred, and beautiful.

The Lord’s Supper.
The Lord’s Harvest.
Absolute Genius!
Absolute Jesus!

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That of Himself

I believe that God places that of Himself into every person, and, indeed, into everything He creates. We don’t have to look far to gain knowledge of Him; to be awestruck by His astonishing attributes.

 

And I thank Him for that!

 

 

Photo credit and verse: Ann Hartsook

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That of Himself

I believe that God places that of Himself into every person, and, indeed, into everything He creates. We don’t have to look far to gain knowledge of Him; to be awestruck by His astonishing attributes.

 

And I thank Him for that!

 

 

Photo credit and verse: Ann Hartsook

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A Farmer of Words

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I want to be a farmer of words
I want to nurture words
I want to plant them in good soil
Cultivate them
Grow them until mature
Make them fruitful
Pick them and harvest them
Squeeze out the nutritious juices of their meaning.
I want to be a chef of words
A vintner and baker of words
Combine them

Mix and toss them together
Prepare them deliciously
Marry their flavors
Plate them beautifully
Pour them out gracefully
Lovingly

Present them to those who hunger and thirst for
A good word
Or two or three.
I want to begin a culture of
Word husbandry.

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Impenetrable Firewall

Who among us has not lost or forgotten a password?
Many have also had their firewall broken through.
Have you?

Jesus is my living firewall.
My fortress.
He is impenetrable!
When fiery darts of incursion,
and arrows of intrusive evil are sent my way,

He shields me.
The windows of my heart and the software of my spirit
Are safe!
Protected!

I trust Him to keep my processor,
My operating system,
Running smoothly,
and be not corrupted,
or misused by malware from hell.
Jesus insures these things to all followers
Who sign up for His service!

Jesus is my living password!
In Him alone, is safety;
Security;
Certainty;
Permanence;
Peace of mind.

I never have to exchange my Word for a better one.
He is the only Word I’ll ever need.

No one can steal Him from me.
I never have to write Him down,
Put Him in a password manager,
Or worry that I might forget Him.
He is the way in,
Jesus is the only way into

Heaven.god

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Cornerstone

I was reading Peter’s ‘first’ and noticed how he refers to Jesus Christ as the Chief Cornerstone twice in quick succession. That caused me to think – to ponder.
I sat in ponderous thought.
I thought about how ancient Isaiah also referred to the Messiah as the cornerstone.  God gave several different authors this metaphor that is eternal in its reach.
“The Bible is an astoundingly brilliant work!” I thought.  (Duh! Of course it is!)

“Cornerstone”, I thought . . . An ancient builder’s term; one with which many in Peter’s flock would have been familiar, as I am, even today. The primary (chief) cornerstone is the first part of a building to be set. Primary to the other three cornerstones. (I think of the other cornerstones as being the Prophets, the Apostles, and the Disciples.) Its placement must be perfect and the stone (the block) itself must be perfect, for the perfection of the whole building depends on it.
“That’s Jesus!” I thought.
The stone that was rejected in Matthew, Mark and Luke became the Chief Cornerstone. The builders (the pharisees, I’m assuming?) built their building without Him, resulting in its collapse. Their structure of belief in themselves, and not Jesus, is a fallen one. (“Not one stone will remain upon another”, He said.)

The cornerstone is chosen for its qualities of material strength, purity of substance, and ability to endure ponderous weights under all conditions of time and weather. It is then shaped with sharp steel to possess many perfect right angles. “That, too, is Jesus!” I said to myself.

When the resulting cornerstone is perfected, it must be set. Its placement will determine the final position and shape of the whole structure. It must be perfectly plumb, perfectly level, and lined up perfectly “straight with the world”. Although our Cornerstone will be considered foundational, it must, Itself, be placed on a solid footing – either bedrock, or packed, undisturbed soil but never sand, clay, or mud. And, to me, that foundation is the Word of Father God.
“Jesus, again!” He always stands upon The Word – the Good and Precious Stone of Acts, Ephesians, Peter, Psalms, and Isaiah.

Now let us assume that our stone is a perfect cube, although it could as easily be a rectangular solid. How does one make a perfect cube? By measuring the diagonals of each face (from each corner to the opposite one) and making certain that the two diagonals on each face are exactly the same length. My cognitive processes soon led me to a wonder – the figure formed by those two diagonals is . . . a cross! The diagonals make four perfect right angles. I really like making these connections!

And if the cornerstone were a rectangular solid, the diagonals would form an ‘ X ‘.
SIDE NOTE: Here is an excerpt from a previous post:

“I began to think about how the X in Xmas stands for Christ.  I found that the X is actually Chi, the first letter in the Greek word, Χριστος.  I hope I got that right, because, hey, it’s Greek!  Anyway, that Greek word means Christos – the anointed One – which is a translation of the Hebrew “Messiah”.    The X in Xmas is derived from the Chi (pronounced “Ky” which rhymes with “my”, or “guy”) in this word: Χριστος.  X, or Chi, (we think in terms of an English “X”) came to denote “Christ” sometime in the sixteenth century.”  I consider the cross and an “X” to be closely related – another connection to our Jesus.

So, the Prime Cornerstone is precious. It is perfect in itself and is placed perfectly. It is strong, and pure, and durable, and beautiful. It stands on the most solid footing. Its faces bear the figurative markings of a cross. It is essential – the First, the Primary, the Beginning. “Yes!” I thought, “That is most certainly our Jesus! If we are the bricks in the walls of His body – His Church – He most certainly holds us up in all the ways one would expect a perfect Cornerstone to perform!”

Then there is the Capstone.

In the NIV, Peter adds the reference of Jesus as the Capstone – the finishing stone covering the top of the walls. He refers to Psalm 118. (Zechariah also spoke of The Capstone.)  The Chief Capstone is Ornate and glorious. It signifies completion, exaltation, and eminence. It sits atop the wall directly above the Chief Cornerstone, sealing, and protecting, and possessing every piece under it. This too, is a wonderful picture of Jesus.

I picture the essence – the Spirit – of the Living Cornerstone beginning to ascend up the corner of the building, slowly, like an elevator. It is lit with an inner glow that gets brighter and whiter as it rises. As it passes each row of blocks comprising the walls, it imparts its light to that row all the way around. It keeps rising, lighting each row and burning brighter with pristine white fire, ascending and transforming until it reaches its final position seated on top of the wall. It is at the peak of its splendor and glory. It has made the whole structure splendid and glorious. The finished work. The epitome; the peak; the top Capstone. High and exalted. He now sits at the highest pinnacle of everything. The Beginning and the Ending. The First and the Last. Alpha and Omega. Beginner and finisher of our faith and our salvation. The strong Rock we stand upon and our Seal at the top.  Our Crown!

Cornerstone and Capstone. Yes! That is our Lord Jesus!
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The Wheat and the Grape – A Sacred Harvest




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I read in Our Daily Bread today that “our Savior hung between Heaven and earth
to bear every sin of every generation on His shoulders.”
He hung between Heaven and me . . .
What pain it gives me to revisit that scene . . .
But the above statement led me to think deeply about
what He had told his disciples
and us,
only the night before He hung there – 
what we must do to remember Him;
to remember who He was,
to remember what He did,
how He did it,
and why.

As I pondered,
and contemplated,
and thought,
“The Lord’s Supper is absolute genius”
is what I concluded.

(not that I think I’m the first, nor the only one, to proclaim that)
(and I know that I foolishly reiterate the obvious,
because of course it’s genius, it’s Jesus! )

He broke the bread and compared it to His body
which would imminently be broken for us.
He poured the wine out and compared it to His blood
which would soon be poured out for us.

“He hung between Heaven and earth.”
He was, and is now, intermediary between us and The Father.
Not as a wall, but as a bridge.
He made a way to raise us to His shoulders,
thus standing between us and the evil one “in the earth”.

As for myself, there is far more here than “meets the eye”.
Have you ever thought about how grains
like corn, barley, rye, and wheat are all separated
from the earth by a woody stem?
The seed head of the wheat plant is the “fruit”, in a sense,
that we use to make our bread.

The same applies to “the fruit of the vine”;
tomatoes, cucumbers, kiwi, guava, and, get this – passion fruit –
and predominantly, grapes.
All grow above the ground on woody or semi-woody vines.
They all contain juice, but grape juice makes “traditional” wine.
(side note: there is great debate whether Jesus’ “fruit of the vine” was unfermented juice, or wine)
I’m in the wine camp because wine stores better, not to mention that the Bible states “wine”.
I won’t even dwell on apple, orange, peach, plum trees, or berry bushes,
each of which produce juicy fruit on woody stems;

but I’m getting off track.

The point is that grapevines, like wheat plants,
produce their fruit “between Heaven and earth” on woody stems,
and the final product of both were used at the Lord’s Supper.
The Last Supper of our Lord!

By now you may be making the connection I’m getting at.
Lord Jesus compared His body to a broken loaf of bread,
and His covenantal blood to the poured-out juice of the grape,
in order that:
“as often as you
eat this bread
and drink this cup,
you will do so in remembrance of Me.”
Connecting His spiritual Self to the physical act of
eating and drinking something specific,
is brilliant in my estimation.

It makes the act sacred, and simultaneously
makes our remembrance of Him sacred.
But for me, it doesn’t end there.
Jesus was always using agricultural metaphors because,
I assume, most everyone in His day knew something of the subject.
Is it a great leap to make that He also connected Himself
with the fruit of the earth?

With harvest?
With life-giving, life sustaining, food and drink?
With saving us from spiritual starvation?

If that connection is only for me to make
in order to strengthen my faith in Him,
to take me deeper into our relationship,
to tell me more of the story I long to know more about,
or to give me insight into something so sacred
that I scarcely can digest it,
Then so be it.
You, dear reader, can make of it what you will.
If it doesn’t do anything for you; if it sounds wrong, leave it.

But here’s the thing:
I maintain that Jesus not only connected Himself to
The Bread and The Cup,
But also to the wheat and the grape.
Rich and ripe,
He stood like a sturdy stalk of wheat
before a terrible threshing,
and He hung like a beautiful cluster of grapes
before a horrible crushing.
He stood and He hung there between Heaven and earth,
between us and oblivion,
between us and eternity,
to intentionally endure the torture of threshing,

and the horrible crushing pain – for us, dear reader. . .
The first and best fruit of the earth,
until the harvest was finished.
He made Himself our everything,
even our spiritual food and drink.
Essential, lifesaving, sacred, and beautiful.

The Lord’s Supper.
The Lord’s Harvest.
Absolute Genius!
Absolute Jesus!

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Peace Like A River For My Soul

Asher B. Durand

Asher B. Durand

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Peace is kind of like love.
Everyone needs it.
Most civilized people want it.
Many seek it in one way or another.
So do I.

The quality of peace is not strain’d either.
It, too, falls like gentle rain from Heaven
upon the needful ones below. (thanks, Shakespeare)

Some folks have real peace and some have a pseudo,
temporary, fleeting kind of peace.
So do I and so have I.

Some look for it in all the wrong places.
Yup, that was me.

Many have no peace whatsoever and have no idea
where it comes from,

how to get some,
or even what it is.

Again, been there.

When I find myself in need of the comfort and enjoyment of peace,
which is most of the time,

like many folks I seek and readily find peace
in what is commonly called “Nature”.
“Nature”, in a broad sense, is universally understood.
You are probably forming mental pictures right now
about how you perceive and define “Nature”.
Now envision some of your favorite peace-inducing “Nature” scenes;
places you have been, or even pictures of real places or those imagined by someone.
Did that bring you a bit of peacefulness?

But –
“Nature” (nature – to bring it down off its pedestal)
is only a reflection of the super-natural;
of God’s supernatural glory. (He is above nature – He made it!)
Isn’t it delightful that even this somewhat hazy reflection
of Heaven can still bring us earth-side peace?

I personally enjoy a pastoral scene, one with water in it,
and even better, one with a mountainous theme.
A clear, unpolluted, starwatching-sky is also a delight.

Sunshine and sheep,
Cattle and a creek,
Grass and rolling hills,
Green and blue and still.

A clear night sky,
Star-filled and wide,
Shapes made of  light,
Faith becoming sight.

A picture will do, but being there in person is best.
Sitting and contemplating;
meditating and cogitating;
or simply ‘taking it all in’ and enjoying the serenity,
the quietness,
and the upwelling joy begotten of His Light and Life.
It’s great!
But i
f I am walking, I like an upward path through my favorite “Nature”.
Ascent is so metaphoric.
I walk upward into His waiting embrace.
What peace, elation, and joy all at once!

I like to visit nature alone to find great peace,
  and this occurs to me – even my extrovert friends seek peace alone there sometimes.
Many of them enjoy walking an upward path by themselves.
There is something calming about solitude.

Peace is this:
Just being still and knowing that He is God.

And this:

. . . the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your heart and mind . . .”

Wonderfully this:
“You will go out with joy and be led out in peace.
The mountains and the hills will break into songs of joy in your presence,
and all the trees will clap their hands.”

Especially this:
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you;
not as the world gives do I give to you.
Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.”
Yes, that was The Prince of Peace speaking to each of us,

in fact He mentions ‘peace’ at least four hundred times in His Word
in all its different meanings and nuances.

Personal peace is important.
Without it, there is a certain emptiness;
an unmet longing.

In today’s turmoil, peace is elusive.
Tranquility, and quiet,
harmony and calmness,
concord and agreement,
safety and security,
and freedom from anxiety and worries
are in short supply.
But peace is important to God.
As His creations, He made it important to us as well,
and He saw how incapable we were
of having any through our own devices.

So He sent His Son, The Prince of Peace,
while we were still enemies of His,
to humble Himself as human in order
to make peace between the warring parties,
The Father vs. the fallen.
Jesus’ sacrificial death was the condition of the cease-fire,
the requirement of justice,
the peace treaty,
the just agreement of concord,
the new covenant of peace between mankind and The Father,
between each person and Father God,
and between Him and myself.

I believe that with His final exhalation,
He whispered Divine peace into the heart of Creation,
and into mine. His peace, like His joy – gifts that cannot be
lost, if guarded, once they are embedded in your heart.

It is said that all Creation rejoiced when this treaty was struck.
I believe that “Nature” “broke into song,
and the trees clapped their hands”
not only for mankind,
and myself,
but for Its Own sake as well,
for
that was the beginning
of the restoration,
the redemption and the repair
of not only humanity, but of all Creation –
in peace.

Thank You Lord, for peace.
Without it, life earth-side would be much more difficult.

So,
what better way to seek and find peace than to
walk with The Bringer and Giver of Peace,
The Wonderful Counselor of Peace,

The Prince of Peace?

He willingly,
eagerly,
whole-heartedly
Walks and talks with me,
(and wants the same with you)

on my upward path through nature,
and not only through idyllic scenes,
but through every season,

taking me,
leading me,
pushing me,
supporting me,
carrying me,

giving me,
showing me,
His peace, and wonder, and glory,
until we reach the arms of The Father,
where I’ll be wrapped in the Ultimate Peace,
the final,
enduring,
everlasting,
Peace of His eternal presence.

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There is a special hymn that is commonly associated
with peace: “Peace Like A River/All Is Well With My Soul”.
If you don’t know the background of this song, you should check
out the remarkable story of the author, Horatio Spafford.
There is a line in the fourth verse which speaks deeply within me:
“Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.”
Many versions of this hymn are slow and, well, peaceful.
Here is a version that is upbeat and joyous.
It really struck a chord in me:

Thank you Spring Harvest for the music and Humpty Fell for the fine video!

©Gloryteller.com 10-27-15
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Attack of The Predator

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  Along with millions of other people,
I watched a shark try to attack a surfer on a live television broadcast.
It was so much like life, so much a metaphor for this worldly/spiritual existence:

From my vantage point, I can see the stealthy approach
of our spiritual enemy when the victim cannot.

I feel the escalating danger of the situation.
I watch in dismay as the predator circles,
quickly judging the unsuspecting prey and planning its attack.

IT
is the Infamous Terminator.
It watches for weaknesses,
It
ferrets out flaws and failings,
It determines defenses,
sizing him up,
figuring him out,
taking his measure,
(the English language is so full of idioms like those)

The strike happens very quickly.
It has done this countless times before,

with countless victims.
I’m tempted to say destruction is its “second nature”, but it is not;
it is the assailant’s primary nature, to kill and destroy,
That is its base and core nature.
I watch its final turn and am outraged at the savagery of its lunge.
I feel helpless.
I want to shout a warning to the victim.
I want to give him eyes to see the beast coming.
I want to somehow put armor on,
and jump into the space between him and the killer.
I want to arm him and give him ammunition.

I want to pull him out of the scene –
somehow snatch him away from imminent death.
What I end up doing is saying a hasty prayer.

In the real-life television story,
the surfer punched the shark and escaped shaken but largely unharmed.
Psychologically damaged, maybe –
he said he might not ever go into the ocean again.

But in realspiritual real-life, the victim never escapes the wiles
of the spiritual enemy through their own power,
their own intellect,
their own knowledge,
their own skill,
nor their own efforts.
They always must be saved from that apex predator
by the One who is stronger than it is.

What can I do to save them?
Not much.
I can only tell them about the enemy of their soul and spirit,
about its nature, and tactics,
and strategy of deception.
I can illustrate how their imminent destruction will take place.
I can point to the danger, and shout warning;
try to give them eyes to see the hideous beast.
I can try to arm them with the truth about it.
I could try to defeat
it by sacrificing my own life.
That would be futile.
I can stand in the gap between it and them in prayer,
which is most useful and prudent,
but, best of all, I can tell them of The One
who can save them –

the only One.

Jesus Christ!


He is the one who can do all of the above,
all that no-one else can do,
and He has done it!
Suffered the pain of sacrificing His own life . . .
He has defeated death and defeated it – the enemy –
for all who believe in Him.
All.
That includes you, dear reader, if you desire it.

It is His nature. He has done it countless times,
for countless vulnerable people.

I know, because He did it all for me when I first believed;
when I just sincerely believed Him!

So, all I can do is plant the seeds of His Truth,
and I can pray that they find Him,
that you find Him,
and I can assure them of His love for them,
and for you!

If He could save me, out of love and compassion,
from the stealthy,
deceptive,
fatal attacks

of that bestial,
predatory,
killer of my soul,
He can save you as well.


He. Can. Save. Anybody!

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The Wheat and the Grape – Sacred Harvest




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 Our Daily Bread said today that “our Savior hung between Heaven and earth
to bear every sin of every generation on His shoulders.”
He hung between Heaven and me . . .
What pain it gives me to see that scene . . .
But the above statement led me to think deeply about
what He had told his disciples
and us,
only the night before He hung there,
what we must do to remember Him;
to remember who He was,
to remember what He did,
how He did it,
and why.

“The Lord’s Supper is absolute genius”
is what I concluded.
(not that I think I’m the first, nor the only, one to think that)
He broke the bread and compared it to His body
which would imminently be broken for us.
He poured the wine out and compared it to His blood
which would soon be poured out for us.

“He hung between Heaven and earth.”
He was, and is now, intermediary between us and The Father.
Not as a wall, but as a bridge.
He made a way to raise us to His shoulders,
thus standing between us and the evil one “in the earth”.

As for myself, there is more here than “meets the eye”.
Have you ever thought about how grains
like corn, barley, rye, and wheat are all separated
from the earth by a woody stem?
The seed head of the wheat plant is the “fruit”, in a sense,
that we use to make our bread.

The same applies to “the fruit of the vine”;
tomatoes, cucumbers, kiwi, guava, and, get this – passion fruit –
and predominantly, grapes.
All grow above the ground on woody or semi-woody vines.
They all contain juice, but grape juice makes wine.
(side note: there is great debate whether Jesus’ “fruit of the vine” was unfermented juice, or wine)
I’m in the wine camp because wine stores better.
I won’t even dwell on apple, orange, peach, plum trees, or berry bushes,
each of which produce juicy fruit on woody stems;

but I’m getting off track.

The point is that grapevines, like wheat plants,
produce their fruit between Heaven and earth on woody stems,
and the final product of both were used at the Lord’s Supper.
The Last Supper of our Lord!

By now you are making the connection I’m getting at.
Lord Jesus compared His body to a broken loaf of bread,
and His covenantal blood to the poured-out juice of the grape,
in order that “as often as you
eat this bread
and drink this cup,
you will do so in remembrance of Me.”
Connecting His spiritual Self to the physical act of
eating and drinking something specific,
is brilliant.

It makes the act sacred, and simultaneously
makes our remembrance of Him sacred.
But for me, it doesn’t end there.
Jesus was always using agricultural metaphors because,
I assume, most everyone in His day knew something of the subject.
Is it a great leap to make that He also connected Himself
with the fruit of the earth?

With harvest?
With life-giving, life sustaining, food and drink?
With saving us from spiritual starvation?
If that connection is only for me to make
in order to strengthen my faith in Him,
to take me deeper into our relationship,
to tell me more of a story I long to know more of,
or to give me insight into something so sacred
that I scarcely can digest it,
Then so be it.
You, dear reader, can make of it what you will.
If it doesn’t do anything for you, leave it.

Here’s the thing:
I maintain that Jesus not only connected Himself to
The Bread and The Cup,
But also to the wheat and the grape.
Rich and ripe,
He stood like a sturdy stalk of wheat
before a terrible threshing,
and He hung like a beautiful cluster of grapes
before a horrible crushing.
He stood and He hung there between Heaven and earth,
between us and oblivion,
between us and eternity.
The first and best fruits of the earth,
until the harvest was finished.
He made Himself our everything,
even our spiritual food and drink.
Essential, lifesaving, sacred, and beautiful.

The Lord’s Supper.
The Lord’s Harvest.
Absolute Genius!

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Seeking Grief Relief . . .

A Stream of Consciousness Outpouring . . .

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Today, I have a heavy heart.
I have an aching heart.
I have a broken heart.

It is so heavy that it has sunk toward the bottom –

away from where it should be and down where it should never be.
Its usual buoyancy has succumbed to the weight of the world.

Another young friend has suddenly and unexpectedly gone to be with God.

On one hand, I realize that the passing of a believer,
no matter how young, should, in a sense, be cause for sweet rejoicing,
but, on the other hand, at this moment it only tastes of bitter loss.
My mind is grappling with my heart.
My heart and mind are at war with each other.
I realize that no-one is guaranteed even one more heartbeat,

but distress is becoming dismay,
off and on, I’ve shed tears all day.

Empathy can be a painful and sore.
Compassion for close ones hurts to the core.

First Rachel . . . and now James . . .

Another who was “bigger than life”,
who had a unique zest for life.
Who was well-loved, and who was full of love himself.

A close friend of my son,
He was only twenty one,

A large portion of our community is reeling.
I can’t help but think that this would be exponentially harder
If that were my own son . . .
The one thing that’s worse than being reminded of one’s own mortality
is being reminded of that of one’s children.

And now I’m conflicted.
My head rejoices for his soul, for him – he knew the Lord.
He is communing with Father God and Jesus,
but my heart grieves for all the reasons it does,
and all the reasons it should,
when a young adult has lost his chance to have a full life;
A life in the world, for that’s where I am!

I have to write these feelings out of me,
but I seem to be stuck.
Frustrated.
Annoyed.
Wounded.
Drifting.
How do I organize a piece such as this?
I don’t.
Won’t.
I refuse.
It has to be spontaneous.

A small part of me wants to rail at God,

but I have this thing called faith in Him.
It’s not His fault; He loves James.
I imagine James talking with Jesus at this moment.
I envision Father God taking a picture of Jesus sitting on His throne.
James is popping up behind Him and getting in the photo by surprise,
with his big smile,
with a wink,
and a “thumbs up”.
I believe that is called “photobombing”, or something like that.
Delightfully classic James . . .
I picture Father and Jesus getting a big, warm, hearty
laugh with James. I’m most certain they are very fond of him.

But here’s the thing:
I don’t understand.
(why do I always have to understand?)
Why does the Bible say we can pray and, essentially,
get the desires of our hearts?
Hundreds, perhaps thousands of prayers went up for James
when we heard that he had been severely injured in an auto accident.
Our request was for healing, restoration, and life,
none of which was granted. (as far as we know)
My head says he got his promised eternal life,
for James was a believer and follower of Christ from a young age.
Eternal life in Heaven is the ultimate answer to our prayers,
but we also prayed for the miracle of complete physical
restoration here on earth, and that did not happen.
“Your will be done”, we say.
So why bother to pray? (another rhetorical question)
Because He told us to!
Praying must have some affect that we don’t entirely understand –
something great for the prayed-for,
for God, or possibly Jesus, or for the pray-er.
I’m rambling, I know . . .

Jesus said we would be able to do what The Father
enabled Him to do, and even more, including healing, casting out demons,
and even restoring life,
but I don’t seem to be able to do those things

and I would like to know why. (Why do I always question?)
I think He wants me to ask questions, though, for that’s the way I learn.
I do want to learn all I can know about Him.
Moreover, I want to know Him.

I do want to know things;
things most likely beyond my understanding,
and which are perhaps none of my business,
but I pray to know anyway.

However, even in my grief over James, over his family’s heartache,
and over my son’s dismay at the loss of a great friend,
I remain steadfast in my faith.

I would like to know if you, dear reader, have ever felt these things.
If so, I’m comforted to know I’m not by myself in this.
I’m also comforted to know that, by reading this, perhaps
you don’t feel so alone yourself.

I refuse to let these frustrations, these questions, lead me away from
Love and into doubt – or worse even into apostasy.

It was uplifting that one of the Facebook quotes I had written about James
was used by the pastor in the service.
It is a joy that God uses me to help others.

Writing is cathartic, therapeutic, and even healing for me.
Writing is escape, refuge, and security.
Reading is no less.
If you have persevered and gotten this far, please pardon me, dear reader,
for using this forum for my own outpouring, my vent, my relief.

I must remember my “ministry of groaning” in a time like this.
The wordless groaning, (a sort of low, quiet wailing from my soul)
which comes out of the depths of my spirit and manifests itself
even through my voice. (if there is loud music in the background for cover,
the sound of it is all the louder)
When I have run out of tears and words to utter, it seems to help.
God actually put that principle into my spirit one day
when I was desperately praying for another grieving friend.
I told Him I had run out of tears and out of words to say.
“Groan for him, He said quite clearly.
This “gift” is so personal it is difficult to write about here . . .

Grief is spilling out of my heart, trying to drag the resident joy out with it,
but I must not let it succeed, Lord, don’t let it succeed,
for the joy of knowing You is my only salvation in times of crisis like these . . .

~  ~  ~

It has been two weeks, to the day, since I wrote the above.
In that time, I have written much, but not trusted myself to post.
I did not want my own self-centered disillusionment to
take away from the glory of my Lord.

Finally, two mornings ago, the long awaited,
long suppressed,
authentic,
spontaneous, groan came to me.
For myself,
and for others through me.
It can’t “work well” if it is forced.
It has to come with The Lord’s help,

and with His timing.
Without notice, it began in my toes ,
worked its way up through the marrow of my legs,
spread through my core, ever upward,
filling me,
and out through my throat,
expressing wordlessly the pent ache.
Sometimes the groan only comes forth from my heart.
This time, through my voice.
Crying to The Most High Lord more eloquently
than my words could have done.
Groaning for the bereaved family, for the city, for my son,
and for myself.
Sweet sympathy,
concentrated compassion,
the messy turmoil of groaning
bringing order at last.
At last.

All that is left is to somehow turn this piece so that it points
to the great glory of God.
To give God greater glory should always be my primary concern
when I write. His glory and the furtherance of His kingdom.

I think it is best, at this point, to use His own words instead of mine:

Psalm 34:18
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

2Thessalonians 2:16-17
“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.”

AMEN

 

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Perfect and Permanent Memory

The human mind is an imperfect vessel.
When injury, disease, or aging affects our intellectual capabilities,
we need the assurance of a perfect vessel to hold our
belief,
our faith,
our core values, 
and our relationship with God and His Word.
That perfect vessel is our heart.
The heart is where our belief begins,
is nurtured,
and is completed.
It is where the love of God resides
– both His Love, and our love for Him.
Although loss of memory can be disconcerting,
we can rest assured that the heart’s memory is perfect and permanent.

Dr. Jim Richards is a ‘heart man’.
He says: “It stands to reason the door to the Kingdom
is a heart that believes, not a mind that is informed.”

True,
yet I don’t think that, once a heart does believe,

there is anything wrong with a mind that is appropriately informed.
A properly educated mind can serve a faithful, believing heart very well.

The moment I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior,
I felt I was fundamentally changed
– that everything was new inside and out.
That included a ‘new heart’.
A close friend, when I confided that, said
“Yes, you have been given a new heart.
Just be careful what you put into it!”
That’s some sage advice.
I’ve tried to be careful what I let in – what I fill my heart with.
That’s not as easy as it sounds,
but I think that as I’m filling this heart full of Scripture,
sound theology,
love for God and my fellow man,
faith,
hope,
and Christian values,
there won’t be room for anything that shouldn’t be in there.
As I fill it with all those solid things,
I’ve noticed something magnificent
the Lord pours in joy,

like ice cream,
to fill up all the spaces!
And my heart will remember it all perfectly,
and permanently,
beyond my mind’s understanding.

~  ~  ~

The man said, “Love the Lord your God with all your
heart,
and with all your soul,

and with all your strength,
and with all your mind”;
and, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
And Jesus replied,
“Yes, do this and you will live.”
Luke 10:27
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A Farmer of Words

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I want to be a farmer of words
I want to nurture words
I want to plant them in good soil
Cultivate them
Grow them until mature
Make them fruitful
Pick them and harvest them
Squeeze out their nutritious juices
Prepare them deliciously
Give them to those in need of
A good word

I want to begin a culture of
Word husbandry.

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About The Music Links Below

I don't own, and have no claim on, these music videos. The following are simply links inside my website pointing back to the original locations of the videos. The names of the creators of these videos are cited wherever possible, and only "embedding-enabled" selections are used.

The Basic Christian Library

"Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis. This is fundamentally what Christianity is all about.

"The Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel. Another converted atheist presents His compelling case for believing in Jesus.

"Left To Tell" by Imaculee Ilibagiza. This profound work is her own extraordinary story of endurance, discovery of the Holy Spirit, grace, healing, and an astonishingly compelling account of the necessity for forgiveness.

Compelling Christian Fiction Reads

"The Circle" 4-book series by Ted Dekker.
A man is the bridge between two very different worlds. Sound familiar? Can he save both? This T.D. work is brilliant in my book.

"This Present Darkness" and "Piercing the Darkness" by Frank E. Peretti. Tales of spiritual warfare from a unique perspective. Stirred a small controversy, but sold millions. What are we Christians afraid of? Hey, it's fiction!

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