Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Light of the World (thoughts on John 9)

The Lord may put us into situations in which we may display His power and His glory. We were created for His glory.

When we walk in Christ, we do not stumble. Jesus is the Light. Only through Him can we know the way. The Pharisees were blind because they walked in darkness.

The presence of light reveals the condition of one's eyes. We cannot know that we are blind if we walk in total darkness. In much the same way, the presence of the Lord reveals the condition of one's soul. We must use the glorious spiritual Light of God to continually check ourselves. In the Light, we can no longer cloak our sin. (John 3:19-21)

"Whereas I was blind, now I see." The blind man's testimony is simple, straightforward, and to the point. There is no embellishment. It gives all the glory and credit to God. His past is irrelevant. No focus is given to how much of a sinner he was. Only that before he walked in spiritual darkness, and now he walks in spiritual light. What a powerful statement. This, truly, is the message.

The Pharisees ask the man repeatedly how it was that he came to see. He tells the Pharisees, "I have told you already, and ye did not hear." They did not hear because, though the spiritual light had been shined onto them, they remained blind to the truth. The condition of their souls had been revealed.

"Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" This, ultimately, is the question. It is the question that leads us to salvation in the grace of the Lord. The man's answer points to his eagerness to seek God: "Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?" We must seek God with this same eagerness. "Lord, I believe."

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A little dust on the bottle, revisited

A couple of days ago, my dad and I stopped by our friend's house, in whose garage the primary fermentation of the grapes is taking place. By that time, they had already been fermenting for about four days. The smell was pungent, but it brought back a lot of memories from when my dad made wine when I was little. It smells, well, it sorta smells like rotten grapes. But I happen to like it. The vat was warm to the touch. About 74 degrees Fahrenheit, according to our infra-red thermometer. The grapes themselves were a tad warmer. I guess the yeast feeding on the grapes is an exothermic reaction. That is, it releases heat energy. I took some photos. They're not great quality, as I took them with my phone, but you can sort of see what the crushed grapes look like about halfway through the primary fermentation process: Here's a shot of the grapes just sitting in the vat. The whole mixture is beginning to take on the dark purple color that most people would recognize as the color of wine. The juice itself is really weird looking. It's surprisingly opaque, and it's almost a lavender color. You can actually hear the juice in the vat bubbling as the fermentation takes place. The bar sticking out of the muck is a metal bar we use to aerate the mixture. We just sort of push it in and out, reaching all the way to the bottom, in order to make sure that the bottom most grapes in the vat are getting their fair share of oxygen. This has to be done several times a day. It's weird, when you break the surface of the grapes with the rod, and some of the juice bubbles up to the surface, it's bubbling so fiercely it almost looks like it's boiling.
Here's a shot of our friend aerating the mixture with the metal bar.

It's been a pretty interesting experience so far, and I'm quite looking forward to the next few steps of the process.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Ah, cruel irony.

I've been making the heavy punching bag the central part of my workout for a few weeks now. I started out using speedbag gloves, because the only other gloves I had available were full on boxing gloves that were impossible to put on by myself. I used said speedbag gloves for two weeks with no problems, but decided a little extra protection couldn't hurt. So I picked up some heavy bag gloves. They were great, but I was still having some issues with my wrists buckling when I started hitting really hard (turns out I have weak wrists... Who knew?). So, again, I decided a little extra protection couldn't hurt. I started taping my wrists and hands under the gloves. So now, using the most protection I've used in weeks, I somehow managed to hurt my left wrist on the bag today. What's that all about?

Monday, October 8, 2007

A little dust on the bottle...

I got to try my hand at winemaking today. My dad's been making his own wine since as far back as I can remember, and he now wants to pass his knowledge on to me. I have to say, he excels at it. His wine is better than probably 80 or 90% of the stuff on the market. Of course, I'm not a wine expert, but my brothers are, and they seem to like it as well.

But I digress. If I'm going to learn winemaking from anyone, it's going to be my dad.

Today was the harvest. We spent most of the day out in the field harvesting ripe bunches of grapes from the vines in our friend's backyard. We harvested just over a thousand pounds of grapes. We then brought those bunches over to the crusher. You see, the first step in winemaking (other than the harvest, of course) is to crush the grapes and let the big vats of juice, grape flesh, skin, and stems ferment for ten days. That's called primary fermentation. That's what we did today. Now we monitor the primary fermentation for ten days, allowing just the right amount of fermentation to take place, making adjustments as necessary.

In ten days, we press the grapes and filter out the skins and stems. That's when you end up with something that looks a little more like wine, but it won't be wine yet. Once we press them, it's time for the secondary fermentation.

More on this topic in ten days or so.

Until the next post,

Sunday, October 7, 2007

On wolves and unbelievers

Tonight my pastor was discussing, among other things, witnessing for the Lord. He made an analogy that really got to me. You see, I'm an animal lover. Put anything in terms of animals, and I get it.

Like most any other Christian, I feel a calling to witness to unbelievers. I love my fellow man, and I don't want any of them to spend eternity seperated from God. But hey, I'm busy, right? I got lots of stuff to do, and most of them probably don't even want to hear it. I'll get around to witnessing. You know, someday.

But tonight Pastor Fred made an analogy about how Eskimos used to hunt for wolves (wolf lovers and those with weak stomachs, you may want to stop reading now). You see, they suspend a razor sharp knife in a container of blood. They let the blood freeze around the knife. When it's frozen, they leave it out. Some unsuspecting wolf comes along and thinks, hey, a bloodsicle! Must be my lucky day! So they get to licking. Of course, their tongue gets numb from licking the frozen blood, and they don't even notice when they get to the razor sharp blade, and they eventually bleed to death.

Now, I'm not saying anything bad about Eskimos here. When you live in one of the most inhospitable environments on the planet, you find ways to survive. But yikes. The thought of a wolf thinking he's getting a yummy treat, only it's secretly killing him and he doesn't know it, man, that's just depressing. Things like that cut me to the core. I can't stand to see an animal suffer. I can't even stand to think about animals suffering.

So, all the wolf knows is that he's enjoying his treat, but he's really dying and he doesn't know it. It makes me wish I could be there and warn him. Hey, that bloodsicle is a trap! Run! Run away! Don't lick it! And then I got it. People are living their worldly lives, enjoying their treats, but they're dying and they don't know it. For the wages of sin is death. They think they're just enjoying the pleasures of the flesh, but they're dying and they don't know it. How can we as believers just stand by and let them die, when we have the power to do something about it? It can be as simple as talking to a co-worker, or a friend, or a relative. You don't have to stand on a street corner with a sandwich board, ringing a bell. But chances are, if you're a believer, you know someone that isn't saved, and you might be the one that can save them.

If you're dying, know that all you have to do is accept the gift God has given you. He's holding it in His outstretched hand. All you have to do is accept it.

Friday, October 5, 2007

The way is hard

Up until a few weeks ago, I was a lukewarm Christian at best. I loved the Lord, but I wasn't living like a Christian should. I wasn't reading my Bible regularly, I wasn't studying it, I prayed once every few days at best, and usually only when I needed something. But, through a combination of events, Christ has grabbed me by the lapels and told me, in no uncertain terms, that my days of passive belief are over.

Perhaps some backstory is in order.

I came to know the Lord when I was in the third grade. That was the year I started attending a private Christian school in San Juan Capistrano. I spent the next four years driving my jaded, cynical father crazy. We argued about creation, the divinity of Christ, and who knows what else. At one point, when I was in the fourth grade, he even called my school to complain about what they were teaching me. It was a Christian school. What did he expect?

The day he called, I remember coming back in from recess and seeing the principal waiting for me. Now, I was a Christian, and I was a good kid, but trouble tended to follow me, so this wasn't the first time the principal had been waiting for me to return from recess. It usually wasn't anything good.

But this time, he walked up to me, with a look of respect and admiration on his face, and he reached out and shook my hand. He told me he'd had a conversation with my father. He congratulated me for fighting the good fight, for keeping the faith, for being a soldier of the Lord.

It's a moment I'll never forget.

Sadly, by the time I entered the eighth grade, my parents could no longer afford the private school, and I started attending public schools. Surrounded by drugs, alcohol, and with no church to go to (I was the only believer in my family, after all), I started to backslide. By the time I was in high school, I was a self declared agnostic, and I was a punk. I was lost.

It was in high school that I met my future wife (now my ex). She had had a strict religious upbringing, and was rebelling against it. That was one of the things on which we bonded. We laughed at the stupid Christians, believing in their magic sky pixie.

I continued living like that until I was about twenty, when, through a close friend (thank you, Mitchell, wherever you are), I again found my faith.

Though I had rediscovered my faith, I remained lukewarm, paying lip service to the Lord. I talked the talk, but I didn't walk the walk. Things got better when I found a church in Michigan that welcomed me in whole-heartedly, with open arms and with open hearts (Delta Community Christian Church, I'll love you guys forever). But I still wasn't the Christian I should have been.

I've since moved away from that church, and some of my friends were concerned I might begin to slide again. They were right to be concerned. But it was when I moved back to California that something amazing happened. It was like a switch got flipped. I felt the Lord calling me. I felt Him at work inside me. Don't you leave me, Sergio Di Martino, he said. I felt a fire inside. I felt, and still feel, the Holy Spirit burning inside me. The Lord directed me to a new church. They have welcomed me with open arms, and with open hearts. I feel the Spirit at work there, like I did at DCCC. And He moves me. I wish to commune with Him daily. I wish to know Him more. I wish to be with Him at every moment. I wish to walk with Him always.

The way is hard. The devil works against me at every turn. He tries to keep me from getting out of bed in the morning when it's time for the morning watch. He keeps me so busy that it's hard to find time to study the Bible. He tries to fill my heart with anger and with evil, that he may push me away from the Lord.

The way is hard, but that just makes me more committed. I will walk with the Lord always, and nothing, not even the devil himself, will ever seperate me from Him again.

Until the next post,

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Migrating from Myspace

I've had my blog on Myspace for a while now, but their blogging service is feeble compared to Blogspot's. I justified leaving it there because of the social networking aspect, but it occurs to me that I don't even use Myspace for that anymore. It's been a long time since I got anything useful out of it. Just an endless line of "Hi, I'm Tina! Will you be my friend? Here's my webcam!" Go take a long walk off a short pier, "Tina," whose real name is more likely Bob or Richard or Horace.

Anyway, I don't blog all that much, but maybe that'll change. Up until now, it's been mostly reflections on significant events that have taken place in my life, and my life has been pretty boring up until now. But things are changing. For the better. Perhaps I'll have a little more to say.

Until the next post,