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TheOldWineskin&TheNew

ByJeffPayne "Andnooneputsnewwineintooldwineskins;otherwisethenewwinewillbursttheskinsanditwillbespilledout,and theskinswillberuined."Luke5:37 IntheearlydaysofmywalkwithJesus,Ireadthispassagewithgreatinterest&meditatedonthelessonthatJesuswas teachingmeregardingwineskins.Ihadneverdrunkwineinmylife,muchlessoutofawineskin,butIreaditwith interest&adeterminationtounderstandthemessageJesuswastryingtoconvey.Irememberedseeingwineskinsin epicfilmsoftheBiblelikeBenHurorDemetrius&theGladiators&,whilethinkingofthoseimages,Iwasintriguedwith thequestionofwhyawineskinwouldburstifreused.Attemptingtothinkscientifically,Iconcludedthatapparently, whenwinewasputinawineskin,thefermentationprocessmustcreatepressureresultinginthewineskinbeing stretched.Therefore,sincethewineskinhadalreadybeenstretchedtoitslimit,anotherfermentationprocesswould beginstretchingthewineskinagain&,understandably,itwouldburst.Notbadforanamateurscientist! Ifeltprettypleasedwithmydeductiveprowessuntilonephrasecapturedmyattention:"...andtheskinswillberuined." Ireadthatphraseoverseveraltimes,asitjustdidn'tseemtomakesense.Icouldunderstandthedeclarationthatthe wineskinwouldburst,&ifthatwasthecase,itseemedlikethenowemptywineskinwasthebiblicalequivalentofa moderndaypopcan­onceempty,throwitaway.Onceopened&consumed,thecontainernolongerhasanyvalue­it hasserveditspurpose.Sothanksfortherefreshment­goodjob­nowintothetrashheap­itnolongerhasanyworth orvalue.Yet,hereisJesusproclaimingthattheoldwineskinwouldberuined!Ruined?What'storuin­it'sgoodfor nothing!Itcan'tholdwineanymoresowhatcoulditbegoodfor?Yet,Jesus'statementimpliedtherewasvalueinthe nowunusablewineskin.Butwhatwasit?Ineverfoundananswer.SoIassignedittooneofthemysteriesoftheWord thatwouldonedaymakesenseinHeaven... Myhomechurchhasrecentlygonethroughaverydifficult&painfilledconflictthatresultedinfortypercentofthe fellowship&overhalfofourseniorleadersleaving.Facedwithsuchdevastation,Iwouldhaveneverexpectedthatthe Lordwouldusethecrisiswithinmychurchfamilytohelpmeunderstand,atleastinpart,whattheLordmeantby"...and theskinswillberuined." Whenthereissignificant&painfuldivisionwithinalocalfellowship,manywillattempttoapplyscripturestothe conflict,someofwhichcouldbeapplicable,somenot.Ibelievepeopledothisbecause,humanly,theyaretryingto makesenseoftheissueswithafeltneedtodetermine,orjudge,who'sright,who'swrong,whereisthe"safeplace"to stand,etc.Ifthat'sourmotivationthenIbelievewe,likethoseJesusdescribedabove,willbeseeingbutnotseeing, hearingbutnothearing. AsaRelationalWholenessCounselorwithovertwentyyearsofexperience,Ihaveoftentaughtthatthepresentation issue(thefeltneedorcrisisthatmotivatesustoseekhelp),whileimportant,israrelytherealissue.Inlightofthis,I typicallyattempttoviewasituationfromarelationalorheartstandpoint.Duringtheinitialmonthsofthissplit,my hearthadbeentornapartinmanywaysbecausethechurchhomeIlovedwasbeingtornapart.WhileIdonothave firsthandknowledgeregardingthedetailsoftheconflict,Iamcertainthatatleast,inpart,itinvolvedchangesin leadershipstyles,goals&objectives&thefurtherance&rolesofministries,allofwhichwerepowerfully&mightily anointed&usedoftheLord.SinceoneoftheleaderswholeftwasthePastorwhooversawthecounselingdepartment, Ifoundmyselfmovingintomynewoffice(hisoldoffice)astheDirectorofCounseling.Duringthatmove,theLord simplysaidtome"Letgo."IknewimmediatelywhatHemeant.IhadtoletgoofthechurchhomeIhadcometoknow &love.

ItmustbeunderstoodthatIhavebeenapartofthisfellowshipsincethedeathofmyfatherinDecemberof1980,&a membersince1981.Aftermyfather'sdeathIfelt"lost,"notspiritually,butrelationally,&uncertainofmydirectionin life.Itwasbecauseofmyfather'srelationshipwiththefoundingPastorofourchurchthatIhadbeenofferedthe opportunitytooverseethetapeministry,anopportunityforwhichIwillalwaysbegrateful.Becauseofthatonesmall opportunity,theLordpositionedmetoreceivefromHimmorethanIcouldeverimagine.Whenmyfatherdied,these werethepeoplewhohadsurroundedourfamilyduringatimeofgrief&lossinwaysI'dnotexperiencedbefore.There wasaninexplicable"lifeline"thatIhadneverknown&Iwasexcitedtodosomethingthatwasofvalueforthosewho hadgiventous,&forthesenseofpurposeitseemedtogivetome.Ibecame,asthePastorwouldoftensay,the church's"TapeWorm!"DuringthoseyearsIwasexposedtosoundbiblicalteaching,thefullnessoftheHolySpirit,new friendships&eventuallybecameconnectedwiththecounselingPastorwhobecamemymentor&mostcherished friend.HehaddemonstratedanaspectoftheHeavenlyFather'slove&careformethatIdidn'tknowexisted.Several yearslater,Imetanotherman,ourcurrentSeniorPastor,wholikewisebecameanothermentor&cherishedfriend,who valued&encouragedmeinmygrowthintheLord.Ihadalsobeenexposedtoachurchthatwasmultifacetedinits vision&theopportunitiestogrowspiritually,allwhile"givingourlivesaway"toothersthroughawidevarietyof ministries.Wedidn'thavejustoneortwooutstandingpastors,wehadmanygifted&anointedpastorswho,ina differentsetting,couldhaveledindependentfellowshipsorministriesoftheirown,buttheonenessandsynergythatI'd experiencedinthosedaysamongtheseleaderswascontagious.Ibecamecommitted,notonlytotheLord,buttothe leaders&theviewofministrythatIhadfoundsounique.Thiswaswhatchurchwassupposedtolooklike! ItwasinthisenvironmentIhad"grownup"spiritually,emotionally,&relationally.It'snottosaythatthereweren't relationalchallenges&failuresalongtheway­thereweresomedoosies!Inmanyofthem,Iexperiencedthe temptationtowalkaway&leavethechurchthinkingthatperhapsGod'spurposesformeherewereover.Yet,inthe midstofthestorms,therewas"...astillsmallvoice"thatsimplysaid"No,don'tmove.Mypurposesforyouarehere." Inthisrecentcrisisthetemptationwasnottosimplywalkaway­itwasascreaming"RUN"becausemytwobestfriends intheworldwereatoddswithoneanother.ThetearingIwasexperiencingwas,inpart,theresultoftherelational lossesIwasobserving.AnotherpartwasadeepgrievingthatIknewwasmyspiritsensingthegriefoftheHolySpirit overthesituation.Thepartthatbecameextremelypainful,however,wasthelossofthevisible,relational,structural churchinwhichIhadunquestionedconfidence,trust,&security.Itwasasif,overnight,aterroristhadbrokenin& foreverdestroyedmyhome.Itwasherethatthenormalgrief,causedbysuchemotionallyintensetrauma,slowly becametoxic&agrievingspirittookholdofmyheart.AllIcoulddowasstandfirmonthebasisofthatstillsmallvoice thatagainsaid"Don'tmove."ItwasatthispointIheardtheLordsay,"Letgo."ThatsetthestageformetohearHis voiceanewregardingthewineskin. ThechurchhomeI'vedescribedwas,&is,precioustome&alwayswillbe.Irememberhowourfoundingpastor duringthelastyearsofhisassignmentasSeniorPastorwouldexpressattheCommunionTablethattheLordhad "savedthebestwine`tillast."Forme,however,itfeltlikeIhadreceivedthebestwinetobeginwith!Whatcouldever comparewiththat?Thiswasachurchthatwascontainedinanunimaginable&profoundwineskin.Therewasone thing,however,thatIhadn'tconsidered--everywineskinhasalimitedcapacity.Noonewineskincouldevercontainall thewinethatwouldeverbeproduced.Yetmyheartcrywas"Butit'ssuchanunbelievablewineskin&thewineis amazing!Howcouldtherebeanybetter?"ThingsastheywerehadtobeGod'sdesignforthefuture...orsoIthought! InLuke5:39,thereisanadditionalstatementthattheLordmadethatisn'trecordedintheMattheworMarkaccounts. AttheconclusionoftheparableJesusadded:"Andnoone,afterdrinkingoldwinewishesfornew;forhesays,`Theold isgoodenough.'"(emphasisadded.)Theoldisgoodenough!Inmyheart,Icouldn'tconceivethatIwasholdingonto the"goodenough"becauseIwassurroundedbysomuchministrygrowth,newopportunities,&God'sblessings regardingthoseopportunities--howcouldthisnotbeevidencethattherewasmorewineintheoldwineskin?If there'snomorewine,&I'vealreadyexperiencedthebest,anythingelse(accordingtomyheart)wouldhavetobeless sweet.Notso!

I'vecometorealizethatthe"oldwineskin"&wineIreceived&drankfromisapartoftheexpressionofwhoIhave becomeinChrist;however,holdingontotheoldwineskin&expecting,wanting,ordemandingthatthenewwinebe containedin,ordefinedby,theoldwineskin,wouldhaveresultedinthenewwinebeingwasted&lost.Ialsorealized thattryingtomakethetwoworktogetherwouldbreak,spoil,&poisonallthatwasgoodwiththeoldbecauseifit bursts,Iwouldneverbeabletolookattheoldagainwithoutpain,loss&potentiallyirreparabledamagetomyfaith, ministryassignment,&walkwiththeLord. Inreferencetotheparable,IhaddiscoveredthevaluethattheLordsawregardingtheoldwineskin.Likethetwelve stonestakenfromtheJordanriverwhentheIsraelitesleftthedesert­whichweretobeareminderofthegreatthings Godhaddone­sotheoldwineskinwastobecomeacherishedreminderofwhattheLordhaddoneinmylifeoverthe pasttwentysixyears.Itisnowenoughtoknowthatthatthenewpurpose,thenewvalue,fortheoldwineskinisto remindmetorecall,withthanksgiving,thegoodnessoftheLordinthoseyears&togiveHimthepraiseHeissoworthy of.Thereis,however,more!I'vealsobeenremindedofJohn2:110&theweddingpartyinCanathatJesus&His disciplesattended: OnthethirddaytherewasaweddinginCanaofGalilee,andthemotherofJesuswasthere;2andbothJesusandHis discipleswereinvitedtothewedding.3Whenthewineranout,themotherofJesussaidtoHim,"Theyhavenowine." 4 AndJesussaidtoher,"Woman,whatdoesthathavetodowithus?Myhourhasnotyetcome."5Hismothersaidtothe servants,"WhateverHesaystoyou,doit."6NowthereweresixstonewaterpotssettherefortheJewishcustomof purification,containingtwentyorthirtygallonseach.7Jesussaidtothem,"Fillthewaterpotswithwater."Sotheyfilled themuptothebrim.8AndHesaidtothem,"Drawsomeoutnowandtakeittotheheadwaiter."Sotheytookittohim. 9 Whentheheadwaitertastedthewaterwhichhadbecomewine,anddidnotknowwhereitcamefrom(buttheservants whohaddrawnthewaterknew),theheadwaitercalledthebridegroom,10andsaidtohim,"Everymanservesthegood winefirst,andwhenthepeoplehavedrunkfreely,thenheservesthepoorerwine;butyouhavekeptthegoodwineuntil now."

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OurfoundingPastor'sstatement,"Godsavedthebestwineforlast"wasforhim,&weasafellowshipwereservedthe bestwineavailableatthebeginningof­orinthemidstof­ourownjourneys.Jesus,however,neversettlesfor"good enough,"butdesirestoproducenewwinethat'salwaysbetterthantheformer! Thisnewwineawaitsus,butifwearetoreceiveit,wemustsetasidetheoldwineskin.Theweddingcelebrationdidn't endbecausethewineranout;Jesusprovidedfreshwine­ittasteddifferent,itsmelleddifferent,itmayevenhavehad adifferentshadeofcolor,butitwasgiventothoseatthewedding­whichwasacelebrationofanewseasonoflife together.Istillhaveahomechurch&westillembracethefundamentalsoftruthwe'vealwaysbeencommittedto. Howitwillbeexpressed&experienced,however,willbedifferent,becauseHeisgivingusnewwineinanewwineskin &weneedtopositionourselvestodiscovertheblessing&richnessofthisnewvintage.Oneday,thisnewwineskinwill betheold&Ipraythatthosewhofollowourseasonwilldiscoverthetruthsofthislessonsotheymayavoidthe heartacheofadividedchurch. Thesetruthshavebeenhelpful&comfortingtomyheart,&God'stiming,whileoftenmysterious,isalwaysperfect.The truthsIhavediscoveredinthisprocessarenotmeanttominimizeornegatetheissuesthathavetakenplacebetween theBrothers&Sistersinourfellowship.Itmaytakealongtimeforheartstobehealed&relationshipstobereconciled. SomemayneverbereconciledthissideofHeaven.TherearemanyadditionallessonsI'msurewewilldiscoverinthe days&monthsahead.MayGodgiveushisgracetohearHisvoiceclearly. Iamthankfulthatthatgrievingspiritthatcausedmesuchemotional&physicalpainhasbeenbroken&Iamnolonger overwhelmedwithgrief.IamalsothankfulthattheLordunderstandsourweaknesses&frailties,&thatifwewillseek himwithallourheart,Hewillnotonlyextendtousthegracetogrieveinthesedays,butalsothegracetobehealed, renewed,&refreshedasweprepareourheartstoreceivethemorethatHehasinstoreforus.MayHispeacebeour portion...

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