Into the Wine-Press

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The scent of fermentation is distinctly nauseating. The process can’t be rushed. Days pass as you find yourself periodically retching as a whiff catches you off guard. Finally, at just the right time, you can bring out the wine-press. Its brutal archaic feel is needed to exert continuous force on this batch of crushed, fermented grapes. The pressing process now removes all the solid bits and from it begins to flow pure rich wine.

We don’t think of the pressing process often; we take it for granted. We press many things without a second thought; juicing a lemon, rolling out cookie dough, ironing out wrinkles – all are a form of pressing. Applying pressure always changes the original form. A solid lemon becomes juice, a bowl-full of dough becomes a tasty well-formed cookie, your just-out-of-the-dryer shirt changes from “a mess” to a smooth presentable clothing item – all from that process.

When Holy Spirit works the pressing process in your life, you must remember that His plan is always to change you, transform you into new wine. He works on one batch at a time and the process must be yielded into and walked through. How you chose to walk through it is the key – eyes on Jesus, trusting that He is in control and laying down your “fix it” mentality.

You have made it through the crushing and fermenting of this batch but the pressing now begins. Yielding your heart, mind, body and spirit to the loving hand of the Father will allow this process to bring forth a sweet wine.

Leaving behind all that was you to become what you were planned for is the ultimate process of pressing. Holy Spirit’s desire is to move you into a position of contact with the face of Jesus. The pressing will release a free-flowing wine and here you are changed. The pure rich wine that flows sends an aroma of worship to the Father that is intoxicating. It is a worship not made from man, not a music or performance but a purity of true worship that can only be found as you yield to the wine-press.

II Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (ESV)

 

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Ready to Stomp Grapes?

Lucy

Making a good wine requires time, energy and a lot of science. The process from start to finish can take years. The planting, tending, and harvesting of the grapes is just the beginning; the chemistry kicks in later as the crushing, pressing and fermenting is launched.

Whenever we hear the word “crushing” it invokes a negative response. Anything that endures “crushing” will never be the same. But this process is necessary to make a good wine.

We have all laughed hilariously as we watched Lucy in the grape vat stomping the grapes but that process is real. To get to the good stuff – the grapes must be crushed. The skins must be burst, the flesh must be mashed and the stems dislodged. This whole process doesn’t sound funny but rather brutal. Once the crushing has occurred there is a time of waiting that allows all those parts to mingle, creating a unique complex flavor.

A number of years ago we endeavored to make our own wine; making many mistakes and learning what and when to do each step (as well as many “opps, we won’t do that next time’s”).  In our memories one of the best, though difficult, processes was the crushing. The sweet aroma that enveloped us that day as we watched our fruity jewels be transformed into a messy mush, stirred anticipation of the ultimate outcome.

We often pray for “new wine” and ask for “new wineskins” from the Lord but when the process begins we pull away, run away, or cry out “why me God”. Understanding the process of making natural wine gives us a little insight into the spiritual process that “our winemaker” undertakes in our lives in order to produce the very best wine from us.

Once the grapes – all of our natural spiritual maturing – is complete; the process is just beginning. Our yielding to the process requires a deep trust that He is in control of every aspect of our lives.

The crushing breaks the skin – the “me” – and allows the yeast of the Holy Spirit unrestricted access to the good stuff inside. The crushing breaks up all the “all about me” thinking, changing us to look outside of ourselves to see a bigger picture then us alone. In the crushing process, all of the stems – the unimportant hooks of life – are pulled away. Then comes a waiting time, a mingling of all of the parts. A unique complex flavor will ultimately arise, moving us to the pressing phase.

What does the “crushing” look like and feel like? You may already find yourself there If you are in the middle of life’s struggles; physical, emotional, mental or financial. Not the everyday ones but those that take everything out of you. Those times where you can only look up, focus on Jesus and trust that He loves you and has the best for you. It’s a time where you know you have nothing you can do yourself; it’s here that you surrender, yielding into the “crushing” process.

There is nothing fun or funny when you find yourself in these difficult places of life. It is a brutal time. However, you are not alone – Jesus is there to pour out His love, encourage and strengthen you. So be courageous, look up – fix your eyes on the one who loves you and remember the outcome will be the very best wine possible as you chose to yield to the hand of your wine maker.

Romans 5:2-5 We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.  (HCSB)

 

An Eagle’s Life Lesson

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     The majestic eagle depends on his physical design; strength, speed and and sharp vision, for his survival.  Just as the eagle does, so do we often depend on the “I” of our own abilities.    

     There comes a time to the eagle where a molting process must be faced. This process brings this majestic strong bird to a weakened position. His feathers, strength, vision and ability to fly or hunt are eliminated during this time of preparation for renewal.

     We too, come to this place; where all of what “I” can do and what “I” have done are no longer of value. We then face a choice, a choice of the heart. A choice that requires a willingness to give up all of what “I” can do and trust in what “He” did for us at the cross.

     The eagles too must make a similar choice. Many roll over and die choosing the memory of the “I” of their former majesty. Those who are renewed are those who turn to the sun, rest and wait. They then are restored not to the former majesty but to a stronger and greater one.

     We too can only reach new heights with renewed vision and strength when our eyes are on the “Son” not the “I”. Only then can His plans, purposes and design for our life be renewed.

     Trust that His plans for you are far greater then your “I” plans. So chose today to learn from the renewed eagle. Join me and look to the Son – Rest and Wait! This hard time of “molting” will bring forth the fruit that changes lives; you will come out better then you ever were before.


Isaiah 40:31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (ESV)

Revised excerpt from Winters Rest – J.K. Sanchez “The Choice – To Mount Up With Wings Like Eagles” 2014

Experiencing His Fire – Open the Door!

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I stand outside – the howling wind and the cold drizzle of rain a constant discomfort. The flickering glow, the desire for warmth, the obvious peace that waits, draws me to the window like a “peeping tom”; looking through the glass that separates me from what I desire.

I am acutely aware that warmth, dryness and contentment are available if I chose to open the door.

Making the choice and opening the door allows a new adventure to materialize before me. What could be seen from the outside does not compare to the experience of hearing the fire crackle and the sizzle of wood in the hearth that begins igniting new senses; the smell never experienced before now swirls as smoke and wood meld together with bone deep warmth in this new atmosphere.

What I thought I understood about this experience – this presence of fire – its warmth, light and peace – are nothing like its reality; an outside looking in experience is like experiencing a mountaintop through a photograph. This new experience of the very presence of God has exploded into a new inexpressible encounter at the feet of Jesus.

Have you chosen to open that door?

In church, never churched, or anywhere in between; you may find yourself still looking through the window, thinking you understand all that is inside but never partaking of all that is available to you free of charge.

Don’t wait outside, cold and wet, wishing for something more; yield to his call to open the door and walk into His presence. Come join him in front of the glowing fireplace that is filled with a roaring crackling fire – just waiting for you to experience and enjoy with Him.

 

Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask, and it will be given to you;seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.(ESV)
(Revised excerpt from Fall’s Yield – J.K. Sanchez “Yield to the Call and Open the Door” 2015)
Photo courtesy of Geerati@Freedigitalphotos.net