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Category Archives: Personal

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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A Christmas Calamity

fallingsignBeing a person who enjoys looking at Christmas decorations but disdains the act of decorating itself, my contribution each year is to retrieve our boxes of decorations from the attic as well as the Christmas tree. This year, as I staggered down the stairs with one of boxes, I was reminded of a previous year when the attic expedition didn’t go quite smoothly. Before I tell the tale, I should set the scene. The boxes that we keep our decorations in are quite large and if I hold them at my waist I can barely see over the top. In addition, we have some very steep steps. If you ever need to climb our stairs, you might want to bring some climbing equipment. At any rate, I was backing down the stairs with a giant box of decorations in front of me when the heel of my foot got caught on the cuff of my pants and I tumbled backwards down the stairs. As I was falling, my first thought was not about getting hurt… the only thing I thought of was the decorations. As I fell backwards, time seemed to slow down and I somehow managed to get my feet up in the air and catch the box with them. My head hit the floor and I crumpled to a heap at the base of the stairs with my feet above my head, box on top of them but the box was none the worse for wear. Unfortunately, as I tried to stand up and pulled my feet in, the box came the rest of the way down the stairs and a corner of it hit me in the eye. All in all, it was a rough start to decorating but at least we have a funny story to tell now.

It did make me wonder about that box. Why did I care so much about that box? The fact is that I didn’t really care about the box at all. I didn’t care about the box or the decorations inside. Marcia did. Marcia loves those decorations and loves decorating. Since I love Marcia, that means that those decorations are important to me too. This brings me to the main point… allowing injury to myself demonstrated my love for my wife. I need to be able to go even further in demonstrating my love for my Savior, Jesus Christ. Neither fear, injury, embarrassment, nor expense should prevent me from sharing my love for Christ with His children. Christmas, in particular, is a time when we celebrate giving, and having received the greatest gift of all, it should be an easy thing to be generous to others not necessarily with money and “things” but with our time, hearts, and spirit.

1 John 5
1Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2010 in Christianity, Personal

 

Hello Grand Canyon, Meet My Crazy Wife!

61692_435482273493_574873493_5326591_4450694_nRecently, my wife and I had the opportunity to make a trip to Las Vegas for a mini-reunion with some of the folks that I had been in the Navy with. We an enjoyable time looking at the many attractions that Las Vegas had to offer and saw some amazing things. Everything in the city is built to impress. The Paris casino has a replica of the Eiffel tower out front, New York New York has replicas of the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, and the Statue of Liberty. The Bellagio has an 8-acre lake and a choreographed show with fountains that shoot water up to 460 feet in the air. The Venetian has canals inside the casino with gondolas and gondoliers as well as incredible ceilings designed to look like something that Michelangelo might have created. Each casino tries to outdo the others and everything is designed to call attention to how spectacular it is. I must say that as Marcia and I walked around, we were quite impressed. While there, we also got to take a trip to the Grand Canyon. I initially debated as to whether we should go, because we were only in Vegas for a few days and it is such  long drive out to the Canyon and back that it would consume an entire day. We did, however, decide to make the trip and nothing could have prepared us for what we saw. We saw the best that man had to offer in Las Vegas and then… standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon and looking out everything previous seemed insignificant. I had seen hundreds of photos and heard stories and thought that I knew what to expect. I was wrong. The sheer size and beauty of it is staggering. Over 270 miles long, 18 miles wide at spots, and over a mile deep with amazing rock formations and beautiful colors. I couldn’t help but think, “OK, God… you’ve made man to be capable of some amazing things, but you win. This blows everything else away.” Nothing I say can truly describe it properly, even photos and videos don’t come close to conveying the scale properly. The Grand Canyon was the unquestionable highlight of our trip.


DSCF16821While we were at the Grand Canyon enjoying the view, Marcia frightened everyone in the group. For some reason, she insisted on walking out the edge of the cliff face and then she balanced on one foot and leaned out to look down at the canyon floor 4,000 feet below. I wish that I had taken a picture of it but I was too busy yelling at her to step back. The rock at the edge was crumbling and there were high wind gusts but that didn’t matter to her… she just leaned right out over this thing and looked down. She wasn’t concerned in the slightest about what could have happened to her. You might think Marcia is just fearless if it weren’t for the following incident. The next day, while we were walking around on the strip in Vegas, we came to a nice fountain at the Monte Carlo and thought it was a good opportunity for a picture. I, being the goofball that I am, suggested that Marcia climb onto my shoulders for the picture. She took a little convincing, but she did it. During the 30 seconds that she was sitting on my shoulders, she was hanging on for dear life and shaking like leaf in tornado. Picture this – leaning out over a 4,000 foot high precipice, no problem. Sitting on my shoulders 4 feet off the ground, and she’s petrified. When I considered this, I thought… this makes no sense. Of course, I do basically the same thing with God. Marcia wasn’t scared at the Grand Canyon because she was under the illusion that she was in control, whereas she had to rely on me to keep her safe when she was on my shoulders. I am the same way. I make plans and follow through under my own power oblivious to the danger that is all around because I am in control. When I come to my senses and rely on God for help, I get nervous because I have to rely on Him. Let me ask you, where could I possibly be safer than sitting on God’s shoulders?

Isaiah 26 (New Living Translation)
4Trust in the LORD always,for the LORD GOD is the eternal Rock. 5He humbles the proud and brings down the arrogant city. He brings it down to the dust. 6The poor and oppressed trample it underfoot, and the needy walk all over it. 7But for those who are righteous, the way is not steep and rough. You are a God who does what is right, and you smooth out the path ahead of them. 8LORD, we show our trust in you by obeying your laws; our heart’s desire is to glorify your name.

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2010 in Christianity, Personal

 

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Why?

1165446_38770408Many people that know me are most likely aware that I don’t spend much time writing. I don’t write letters to people, don’t have a journal, and any emails I send are usually quite short and concise. I have the ability to write in a competent manner, but I don’t do it often. The idea of me writing a blog may seem a bit surprising and to tell the truth, it is somewhat surprising to me as well. Recently, I have found that I have become more introspective and thoughtful as I have gotten older and have ideas that I’ve considered writing down and tasks have also been assigned to me that require me to write on a more frequent basis.

It is my hope that by writing in this format, even though it may be somewhat infrequent, I can stimulate discussion, improve my writing skills, and perhaps even provide something useful to others on occasion.

I encourage comments, criticisms and conjecture to anything I post provided it is presented in a constructive fashion.

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2010 in Personal

 
 
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