Monthly Archives: October 2011

Who’s the Poop?

PopeChairYou know – the older I get, the more I realize that I am not any different from my kids. Quite a few years ago, our whole family piled into our van and headed to Michigan for my sister Rachel’s wedding. It was a long trip, about 9 hours, with 7 of us in one vehicle so we passed a lot of the time by listening to the radio and talking. If you can remember that far back, this was same the weekend that that Pope John Paul II died, which meant that we couldn’t listen to the radio without hearing news about his death. There were news reports, continuous updates, talk-show segments, etc. It seemed that everything we listened to was about the pope. After many hours of pope reports, pope news, pope updates, and pope facts – it became a bit of a running joke for one of us to turn to another and sarcastically ask, “Hey, did you hear that the pope died?” Through all of this, our two kids, Marilyn and Sam, were mostly reading books and playing games so they were only paying attention to the rest of us intermittently.

As we headed towards Canada that weekend on our way home from Michigan, an inquisitive little voice came from the back seat… it was Sam, who was seven years old at the time. Quite sincerely, he asked, “Who’s the poop?” Once we got through a bit of a chuckle, we explained that the pope was the head of the Catholic church and many people consider him to be a very important person which is why there were so many reports about him. Sam listened intently and when he was satisfied that he had a firm grasp of the situation he went back to whatever he had been doing. During our conversation, Marilyn had been listening to music on her headphones and she had not heard our conversation with Sam, so she asked the same question a little bit later, “Who’s the pope?” Sam, eager to use his newfound knowledge, proudly proclaimed to his sister, “Don’t you know? The pope is the head of the Cataract Church.”

This story serves as a reminder to me that whenever I am sure that I have things figured out – when I am certain that I know exactly what is going on, I just might be very wrong. I need to be very careful to keep my eyes open and to always be prepared to learn something new. The more that I study things, particularly the Bible, the more I realize how inexperienced and ignorant I truly am. Quite often, I learn the most about that which I thought there was nothing left to learn about.

Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
– Proverbs 3:7

By insolence comes nothing but strife,
but with those who take advice is wisdom.
– Proverbs 13:10

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Posted by on October 26, 2011 in Christianity, Personal


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Violent Pottery

Throwing on the WheelHave you ever had an occasion where you have heard or read something that, although you may have heard it a thousand times previously, suddenly strikes you as new and different with meaning that you had never before noticed? A few weeks ago, as I was listening to the sermon, the pastor mentioned the verse about the potter and the clay. I found it very familiar and I am sure that it is familiar to all of you as well. The verse from Isaiah reads as follows:

But now, O LORD, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Isaiah 64:8

While I had heard and read that verse hundreds of times, something new struck me that day. I had always formed a picture in my mind of God as a potter merely shaping the clay and forming it into what he wanted it to be so that it would be desirable and useful. That in itself is an awesome thing and an important aspect of being a potter, but as I thought back to my days in high school and college art classes, I came to the realization that there is much more to the analogy. In those days, when I was in school, one of my favorite activities was working with clay. I loved throwing on the wheel and the first thing I was taught, before even attempting to make a ceramic vessel, was how to prepare the clay for use.

Before the clay can be shaped, or even placed on the wheel, it must be prepared. The act of preparing clay is a fairly violent process and involves kneading it, smashing it, folding it, pulling it apart, and throwing it against a hard surface. I know that if I was a piece of clay, I wouldn’t be too happy about being treated in such an apparently brutal manner. The reason for being so rough on the clay is that it contains many small air bubbles and imperfections that must be forced out. Every forceful and intense action, to which the potter subjects the clay, is designed to prepare the clay for the fire that will harden it into a useful object. If the potter did not beat, smash, and throw the clay, its imperfections would cause it to explode and break in the kiln when it was fired. The time and effort spent lovingly crafting and shaping the clay into a beautiful vase or even a simply, utilitarian bowl would be completely wasted if that clay wasn’t properly prepared before being tested in the fire of the kiln.

I find it comforting to know that God is our potter and He is a master. It may not be pleasant and we may not always understand it, although we can be sure that not only will He shape us beautifully, but that He will prepare us properly for our time in the kiln.

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Posted by on October 12, 2011 in Christianity, Personal


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