Monday, February 22, 2010

Plumbing Matters

Recently I spent some time in South Carolina visiting my mother and enjoying the beauty of the Carolina mountains. One day as we were returning from a trip to my college alma mater in Boiling Springs, NC, I stopped the car for a much needed restroom break. As I headed for the restrooms in the convenience store where we had stopped, the clerk behind the counter quickly let me know that they had no water and their restrooms were not available for use. She said the pipes had burst.

I hopped back in the car and continued to travel down the road. About a half mile from the convenience store we passed a home with an unusual sign in the yard that said, "plumbing matters". I laughed to myself and said "Yes, it surely does!" As I began to think about this funny turn of events and the unusual sign that I had just seen, I felt the Holy Spirit began to speak to me and show me that the pipes burst because they were not able to contain the volume of the liquid as it expanded inside the pipes.

He then directed my thoughts to the passage of scripture in Matt. 9:16 which says,

"No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch
will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do men
pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the
wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No they pour new wine
into new wineskins, and both are preserved."

So, just as the pipes burst when they could no longer contain the volume of the frozen water, the wineskins will burst if new wine is poured into old wineskins.

Our unrenewed minds are like the wineskins and our old ways of thinking will not be able to contain the new things that God is wanting to do and release. Our minds must be renewed in order to contain the new wine that he is pouring out today, in this very hour.

An openness to receive new revelation and a heart that is quick to repent(change the way you think)are keys to having a new wineskin. God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble, and this humility opens the door for the new wine to flow in freely.

In Romans 12, Paul indicates that in order to know God's will our mind must be renewed. This renewing of the mind causes us literally to be transformed from the inside out. Yes, knowing and walking in God's will involves having a humble, childlike approach to receiving revelation and a heart that rushes to repent when we realize that our thoughts no longer line up with His. It is the renewed mind that will be able to test and approve the will of God.

I feel so very blessed to be alive in this day when God is uncovering mysteries and revelation that have been kept for us His Church, the Bride of Christ. As we walk in childlike wonder and humility, let us move forward as a mighty army, with an ever expanding capacity to receive Him and all that He is.

May our wineskins be ready to receive the new wine as He pours it out in our day. May we be free-flowing conduits or "pipes" that continually contain and release the very Presence of God.

Yes, plumbing matters.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Don't Be Like the Horse or Mule

In the early years of my Christian walk my spiritual history with God took a certain pattern. Crisis would come and I would press in to find Him. I would enjoy sweet times in His presence only to gradually give up my practice of seeking Him once the crisis had passed. I still served Him and loved Him, but let the cares and business of life steer me away from seeking His face. Then another crisis would come and my heart would turn once again to pursuing after the One who had proven Himself faithful in my life so many times.

One such crisis occurred when our son was hospitalized at just one year old. The doctors could not explain why he had such a high fever and had become quickly lethargic. A number of tests were run including a painful spinal tap and the fear of the unknown threatened to totally overwhelm the heart of this young mother. One night as I lay in his hospital room on a cot, listening to his labored breathing and unable to sleep, I picked up a book that I was reading and God pricked my heart and spoke to me concerning the shaky foundation that I had been building for my life.

The chapter talked about "sinkholes" and how in certain areas of our country there were homes built on ground that looked good for all practical purposes, but at any point the homes might suddenly collapse as the ground gave way underneath them. God showed me that my life was as precarious as those homes built on the "sinkholes" and the storms that came to threaten me had the power to cause my spiritual house to come crashing down. There on that cot in a dark hospital room, I tearfully repented of my wishy-washy relationship with Him.

Thankfully, our son improved and was able to leave the hospital a week later. I left that hospital with a determination to live my life in a different way than I had before that time. As a result of this hospital encounter with God, I began to seek to build a foundation for my life that would be unshakable.

It was not long after that I was reading in the Psalms one day and came across a passage which the Lord gently used to remind me of my new commitment:

"Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no
understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle
or they will not come to you". Psalm 32:9

He showed me that I had been like the horse or mule in my relationship with Him, and that He desired my heart to be so in sync with His that I would no longer need the bit or bridle(crisis) to control me. He was looking for a relationship with me that far surpassed the "fair-weather friend" that I had been for so many years.

Did God cause my son to become sick to teach me a lesson? No, I don't believe that God is ever the author of sickness because that is not part of who He is. I do believe however, that He was with me right in the midst of my crisis of faith, waiting to shepherd my heart into a higher place with Him.

Now, many years later, I am still grateful for that difficult lesson learned in the midst of adversity. I can honestly say that I love spending time with Him just as much when things are going well as when I am in the midst of crisis.

I am thankful that my loving heavenly Father loved me enough to correct my negligent attitudes and open for me a door into a lifetime of encounters with Him in the secret place. He is so good!