Hammered Vessels

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When God wants to drill a man,
And thrill a man,
And skill a man
When God wants to mold a man
To play the noblest part;

When He yearns with all His heart
To create so great and bold a man
That all the world shall be amazed,
Watch His methods, watch His ways!
How He ruthlessly perfects
Whom He royally elects!

How He hammers him and hurts him,
And with mighty blows converts him
Into trial shapes of clay which
Only God understands;
While his tortured heart is crying
And he lifts beseeching hands!

How He bends but never breaks
When his good He undertakes;
How He uses whom He chooses,
And which every purpose fuses him;
By every act induces him
To try His splendor out-

God knows what He’s about.

-Author Unknown

Quoted by Ravi Zacharias in “God will use you; don’t underestimate what you can do.”

 

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Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

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Decisions. We face them constantly. Shall I get out of bed now, or can I try to stretch the night to last another ten minutes? Should I open that unwelcome letter or have a coffee first? Should I say something, or bite my tongue once again? Since I no longer have a micro-manager hovering over my desk, shall I dedicate my morning to writing, or cleaning, or playing, or resting?

Decisions, large and small, reflect what we truly believe and reveal our values and the state of our developing character. Decisions, large and small, can also precipitate major changes in our lives – not all of them anticipated. Decisions to turn right or left, to take the stairs or the elevator, or to accept an invitation can all have life-altering consequences.

Sometimes the options spread before us entice with the frustrating pleasure of a candy shop full of delights and the limits of just enough coins in a child’s pudgy hand for one treat.

Sometimes the options range from really bad to frankly terrible. It feels like sitting in a sterile examining room, listening to a doctor ask us to choose between amputation and unrelenting pain.

Some days we face looming deadlines and the need to make a major decision without all the information we want, without any clear, well-advised course of action, or a sense of where this could lead.

We can ask God for guidance and wisdom. In fact he invites us to ask, but then we have to wait and pay attention under pressure. Sometimes we want a particular problem to go away while He, in His wisdom and from His perspective, sees how the problem can become a means to a greater end. The answer may not be as straight forward as we want. Here’s the thing: if we are going to ask the Creator of the Universe for His wisdom it’s not wise to turn it down to look for something we like better.

Ask, but ask in faith, believing in a way that transforms God’s advice into acts of faith.

If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.

(James 1:5-8 MSG)

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Making Disciples

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Stealth Mission

“Grandma! Come play with us! Come on! There’s room!” said my little grandson.
“What are you playing?”
“Super guys!” said his cousin. “Look! We climb up onto the roof like this then we jump to the other building like this.” He demonstrated by jumping from the bed to an upholstered bench against the wall.
“Grandma doesn’t jump from roof tops as well as she used to, honey.”
“You can do it, Grandma!” shouted the oldest. He could gain remarkable height jumping on that bed.
“No, sweetie. I’ll just watch you.”
“You can do it!” chimed in the younger one, the cape on his superman jammies flying behind him as he too leapt across the gorge.
“Here. We’ll help you.”

Apparently superhero powers are transferable. My two adorable progeny jumped off the bench, put their hands on my arm and my tummy and imparted the super-anointing so I could join them on the top of the building. Who knew it was that easy?

“Okay, now you’re Supergrandma!!”

They climbed back up on the king sized bed, pulled me up with them, and helped me stand there above the city streets on the top of the building. I felt their mighty little steadying hands on my butt, encouraging it to rise higher as well. I didn’t try to leap to the next building when they next took flight, but I did do a a couple of knee bend warm-up bounces as my contribution to saving the world. Give me a minute. I’ll get there.

Later that day my mentors took me on a stealth mission through the dormant lilac grove in the park. We were a dynamic trio, we were. I felt tremendously honoured to be included.

Now as I understand it, the common standard for superhero status requires that one must have a unique super power, something extremely rare instigated by a highly unusual accident or spontaneous mutation of DNA in the hopeful monster sense. I have always assumed superheros are, for that reason, lone stars.

Nay, not so, according to my grandsons. Give them time for a ten second impartation service and you can receive the same abilities they have received and join them in the fight against the evil foe.

I’ve met and read about some people who I consider to be heroes of the faith. Some of them have followed the same path as the disciples of Jesus when he told them, “As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.”

My grandmother used to take me to revival meetings where a traveling evangelist (often dressed with flare) stood on a stage and told astonishing stories about how God used him in Africa or Asia or South America or a town in the southern States we had never heard of. The deaf heard, the bent straightened and angels with swords of fire stood guard outside their guest hut. Sometimes these men gave us ample opportunity to support their “Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show” ministries, but you know, I can’t recall any one of those guys offering to support the missions or giftedness of lovers of Jesus in the audience.

Since I was merely a girl no one ever suggested that Jesus would call me to do anything special. (Although one did suggest I should aspire to becoming a pastor’s wife someday. He actually told me which seminaries he thought provided the best hunting grounds for women seeking that position. Apparently job competition details are not usually announced in Christian Classifieds.)

I’ve noticed a change lately. In the past few years I have met a few people who remind me of my little grandsons’ demonstration of encouragement. You won’t find this new breed in TV studios or on platforms or making available slick promotional pamphlets with detachable donation envelopes. You will find them in the check-out line at Walmart, in the seat beside you on the plane, in the ice cream shop, on a beach in California, working in the back of an ambulance, or walking anonymously down main street. They are obeying the Lord with both boldness and stealth.

The reason they remind me of my grandsons is because not only are they using the gifts God gave them to tell people about God’s love and to make new disciples, they encourage others in the Body of Christ to come on up and leap tall buildings with them.

Making disciples -it’s not just for professionals anymore.

Neither is being one.

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:6,7)

We Don’t Hass to be Afraid

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Don’t be afraid, I am with you;
don’t give way, for I am your God.
I strengthen you and I help you;
I uphold you with the right hand
of my justice. (Isaiah 41:10)

Don’t be afraid,
for I have redeemed you.
I have called you by your name,
you are mine. (Isaiah 43:1)

When he was only two years old and his daddy appeared to be dying in the hospital our little grandson looked into his Mommy’s eyes and said, “We don’t hass to be afraid. We don’t hass to be afraid, Momma, ’cause Jesus is wiss us!”

Sometimes when I look at all the things in my character that need fixing I feel overwhelmed. The word I feel the Lord has given me for this year is “instill.”  I want the concepts I have learned about the goodness of God and how much he loves me to be instilled in my heart so my first reaction is trust. I get there eventually but my “knee-jerk reactions” need revision before I open my mouth. When I wonder how long it will take I remember the reaction of a child barely old enough to talk.

Sometimes this journey is not as much about overcoming obstacles as returning to the faith of a child. Restoration is recovering the pure undivided heart of a little one who knows what it is to trust.

Yesterday my grandson’s Daddy taught him how to skate. He learned to balance and glide and turn on the ice rink Daddy built for his children in the backyard. There was much joy!