A Diamond In The Rough

The following is quoted from Wikepedia:

Carbon (from Latin: carbo “coal”) is a chemical element with symbol C and atomic number 6.  It is nonmetallic and tetravalent-making for electrons available to form covalent chemical bonds.  It belongs to group 14 of the periodic table.  Carbon is one of the few elements known since antiquity.

Carbon is the 15th most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, and the fourth most abundant element in the universe by mass after hydrogen, helium, and oxygen.  Carbon’s abundance, its unique diversity of organic compounds, and its unusual ability to form polymers at the temperatures commonly encountered on Earth enables this element to serve as a common element of all known life.  It is the second most abundant element in the human body by mass (about 18.5%) after oxygen.

The atoms of carbon can bond together in different ways, termed allotropes of carbon.  The best known are graphite, diamond and amorphous carbon.  The physical properties of carbon vary widely with the allotropic form.  For example, graphite is opaque and black while diamond is highly transparent.  Graphite is soft enough to form a streak on paper, while diamond is the hardest naturally occurring material known.  Grophite is a good electrical conductor whlile diamond has a low electrical conductivity.  Under normal conditions, diamond carbon nanotubes, and graphene have the highest therman conductivities of all known materials.  All carbon allotropes are solids under normal conditions, with graphite being the most thermodynamically stable form at standard temperature and pressure.  They are chemically resistant and require high temperature to react even with oxygen. 

Carbon forms a vast number of compounds, more than any other element,  with almost ten million compounds described to date, and yet that number is but a fraction of the number of theoretically possible compounds under standard conditions.  For this reason, carbon has often been referred to as the “king of the elements”.

To simplify the the above quote, the stuff to make diamonds with is the 15th most abundant element on Earth which is carbon. All it takes to make a diamond is the basic element, carbon, and a lot of heat and pressure. It does not take a lot of time either for diamonds have been made in literally a few hours, rather than the millions of years that is sometimes stated. And so it is that a diamond is made from the simplest and most common elements just as God has chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise. 1Corinthians 1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;   All of us have the potential to become a jewel in the crown of God. All we need is the difficulty and pressures of this world to make us into a precious jewel for the Lord.

Just being a gem stone is not the same as being a cut stone that reflects the brilliance of the Light. It must be cut and polished in order for its beauty and glory to be seen. An uncut stone looks just like any other stone until it is cut. Only then are the beauty and dynamic of all that went into its creation, seen and radiate the Light from its creator. The glory is that of its Creator and not of the stone. Only He knows how much fire and how much pressure it takes to build all the faucets within to reflect the Light out for others to see the wonder of God’s working, for we are the workmanship of God.

Hammering It Out

Yesterday I was out splitting wood and broke the handle on my sledge hammer.  It wasn’t because I used it wrongly, but because I abused it for several years leaving it out exposed to the weather without any consideration to its preservation.  When I hit the wedge while splitting the wood it simply broke because the wood had deteriorated next to the steel head and it couldn’t take the shock of the force.  Today I spent several hours repairing it to the shape you see above.  It is now fully restored to usefulness.

So what is the lesson?  Simply this, the Lord has invested much into making us usable in his service and we should not take it for granted.  He invested everything to free us from our sin.  He called us when we were not completed nor perfected.  He gave us the Holy Spirit to teach us, to guide us and to equip us for service, and He will never leave us nor forsake us.  He continues to forgive us our shortcomings and our sin.  He loves us when we are ugly and wrong.  He is our number one (#1) supporter and He is the author of every good and perfect gift we receive.  His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  He promises us victory as we follow Him by faith.

The list goes on but you get the idea.  Yet I hear the question asked sometimes, “Why doesn’t the Lord use me?”  The answer could be for the same reason that I couldn’t use my sledge hammer today.  Through neglect, I had allowed the weather to cause deterioration to the structure of the handle so that it was weakened and could not take the stress of the job that it was designed to do.  The shock was just too much and it broke under the shock.  It should have lasted many more years of good service but no provision for maintenance was made and deterioration set in.  It is the same way with our service.  It is one thing to be called into the Lord’s service but if there is no maintenance plan enacted to not only maintain but also to strengthen the tool (me) then deterioration will set in and then when the real test comes (and it most certainly will) then failure will be the result.

Let me suggest a few things that will be good to include in your maintenance plan.      1.  An ongoing study of the Scriptures.  It should be regular and often.  2.  Corporal fellowship and worship.  3.  Time alone with the Lord when the world is shut off so that you can focus on spiritual things and prayer.  4.  Ministry to others.  This  includes services, gifts, time, etc. that will meet their needs.  5.  Christian Disciplines (this in itself requires study and discipline).  In short, become the person that you would be proud to be.  You can in Christ.  This is your gift to Him.

Responding to Difficulty

Last night was a rough night.  I got little sleep and was so sick that I couldn’t function.  I had severe pain in my abdomen, I was dizzy, I broke out in a sweat, then chills, then my throat began to water and I had the extreme urge to throw up and then it would all repeat itself every 15 minutes.  That lasted most of the night but then it eased off and I was able to get a few hours of rest.  I then woke up at 10:35 and remembered that i had an 11 AM appointment at the dentist.  I made it and was only a few minutes late.  I got the tooth with a cavity filled and was home by noon.  I still don’t feel well but I am able to function.  I still have several of the symptoms but they are less than they were last night.

Ac 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.  The Christians life is littered with difficult situations.  It is not without difficulties but with each difficult situation we can find victory over it by trusting our Lord to bring us through it.  God has not promised a life without trials but  promises to go with us through them.  I am not sharing this with you for pity or for your kind words.  They are nice but I want for you to get the deeper meaning behind it.  It is the hardships, difficulty and pain that God uses to make us like Him.  He is ever present help in time of trouble and will shape us for eternity through these difficult times.  I can praise the Lord that He can trust me to properly represent Him in this time.  We should always be mindful of what He is doing and not so much of what we are going through.

Is There Such A Thing As Darkness?

I was thinking the other day about God, and my thoughts traveled to a story that I heard about a teacher who was berating a class about believing in God.  His argument was that there was no physical evidence of God’s existence.  He argued that because you cannot see God; that you cannot hear God; that you cannot touch God; that you can neither smell or taste God; that God cannot exist and that you cannot prove His existence.  Then a student raised his hand and asked a question.  Sir, do you believe that there is such a thing as cold?  The professor replied, “certainly I do.  Everyone knows that cold exists.”  The student replied, “actually, Sir, there is no such thing as cold.  There is only the absence of heat.”  Then he asked a second question, “Sir, do you believe that there is such a thing a darkness?”  This time the professor was a little hesitant, but replied, “yes, there is such a thing as darkness.”  The student replied, “actually, sir, there is no such thing as darkness.  There is only the absence of light.”  He then asked the professor if he had a brain.  The professor replied that he absolutely did to which the student replied, “Sir, using your logic then, since we cannot see your brain, nor can we feel your brain, nor can we hear, smell or taste your brain, then you must not have a brain.  The conclusion of this argument must be that there are things that exist that we do not understand nor perceive.

My thoughts then proceeded to the concept of Hell and what those in hell will face.  We know from scripture that the only reason a person will go there is that they have rejected God and His will for man (which is only good).  Joh 3:15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. Time and time again they have rejected the goodness of God and all His ways.  They have lived under grace and it has made them disgusted.  They have fought everything that is right and good to have their own way.  We also know that Hell was not made for man but that it was prepared for the Devil and his angles.   Mt 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:  A person winds up in hell because he has rejected God and all that He is, in preference to a life without God.  God doesn’t send a person to hell because of their badness but because of their rejection of His goodness.  They choose to go there to get away from God and His authority on their lives.

Then I began to consider what life would be like without God and His grace.  Goodness would be absent.  Justice would be nonexistent.  Pleasantries and ease would be gone.  Rest would never come.  There would be no light but the continual absence of light.  There would be no hope as their hope was in themselves.  The absence of everything that fulfills our lives would be gone and all that would be left is the hollowness that fill a life without hope and goodness.  These results would pervade the darkness and then one heavy realization would settle in, that it did not have to be that way but when you reject all that is good then you choose all that is bad.  I pray that you will make wise choices now while there is light.

Love in 4 Directions

(The word that is blurred is LOVE)

The above graphic is a visual presentation of the dynamic of agape love.  In the English language we only have the one word, Love; but in the Greek language there are several words for love.  I will only list three of them as they cover the concept of love quite well.  The first word in the Greek is the word ‘eros’ which is the word that means sexual love.  It is not used in the New Testament.  The second word is the word, ‘phileo’, which is where we get the name Philadelphia which means brotherly love.  It is the highest kind of love that man can know apart from God.  It is the type of love a man has for his wife, or a parent for their child.  The third type of love is ‘agape‘ which is God’s kind of love and is seen in John 3:16 where God love so much that He gave His best – His only Son.  This type of love cannot be known apart from God imparting it to a man. and it finds its expression in four ways.

First, love God with all your heart, mind and soul.  This is referenced in Deut 4:5, Matt. 12:37, and Mark 22:30.  God is the only thing that gives real purpose to life for He is eternal in being whereas this world and all that is in it is passing away.  You will most certainly leave this world when you die and everything will be left behind.

Second, we should love one another, that is the brethren or fellow Christians.  John 13:35, 15:12  We begin to love like God when we love the Brethren.  That is to cherish the value of and the nature of one another.  We are also eternal because that is what God gives us when we place our faith in Him, eternal life.  We are not yet completed yet so it does not yet appear what we shall be but we know that we shall be like Him.  The world will know that we are born again because we love one another.  How can we say we love God whom we have not seen, when we love not our brother whom we have seen and he was made in the similitude of God?

Thirdly, we should love our neighbor as ourselves.  Lev 19:18, Mark 12:31  It has been said that the only thing that you can make a man out of is a boy.  The same thing is true also, that the only thing that you can make a Christian out of is a human person.  We all came into this world with a sin nature and we all commit sin.  We want to be loved and understood so we should also love and understand that we travel the same road.  Some of us have already begun our journey of walking with the Lord and are in the process of transformation and other will begin that journey for themselves in the future.  Each person should be valued with the view of what God can transform them into and not for their current failures.

Finally, we should love our enemies.  Matt 5:44, Lu 6:27  This one is harder to understand but it is just as true.  Ro 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.  God is able to work all things together for GOOD, which includes those things that we count as wrong, unfair, painful, mean, etc. Php 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.  The problems of life only refine us to make us better.  The events of life will either make you better or make you bitter but the choice is yours.  and again in Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.  If God can use the likes of Pharaoh and wicked Cyrus for His purposes then we should thank God for trusting us to overcome evil with good.  The harshest people in our live often shape us into the greatest tools in God’s toolbox.  Who knows but what you may be the influence that brings them into the light of Christ?

Returning from China

Wow!  What a trip.  It took me 10 days to experience the trip so there is no way that I can share it in one or two short blogs.  I will try to keep my focus on what I share so that it is a complete and concise topic and will post them from time to time.  Also, I want to be considerate of the Christians in China so that they do not incur additional persecution from the forces that oppose them.  And finally, I do not want to misrepresent our Lord to the government as they have a responsibility to govern their country and I do not desire to inflict any conflict between them and our Lord or His people.

That being said I want to first say that I left here with one concept of who the Chinese are and came home with an all together different opinion.  I had envisioned that theirs was a country of poor living conditions and way behind in the cultural world.  In fact, their conditions are comparable to those in our country.  The streets are clean, the conveniences are modern, and  I found the people to be quite wonderful with much the same dreams as ours.  They were more than gracious and considerate, and they have many qualities that I wish were here as well.  They do not seem to value possessions the same as we do and are content with what they have.  For an example, they would travel for two hours or more to meet with people of like faith, then sit on a plastic kids stool for another two hours without fidgeting or complaining, another hour visiting and eating and another two =/- hours returning home. and do it again the next day.  They were not tardy and would spend their time praying while they waited for the time to start.  They were not problems to either the civil authority or each other.  They were not critical of others, but helpful.  They were model citizens.

They were hungry to know the truth but careful to reject error where ever they find it.  They were especially cautious about false religions.  In several way they were way ahead of many churches here where freedom and ease has made us dull of hearing and apathetic.  Daniel understood this truth and refused the king’s dainties to be free from greed and laziness.  This is probably why Christianity has always prospered under persecution and floundered under prosperity.

You rarely see a single family dwelling except on a rural area where farming and the like have historically had such dwellings.  From my room I looked out my window and could see three major construction sights of 6 to 12 buildings each one about 30 stories high.  There were also three more that were not in my view, just as close.

I came away with a huge respect for the Chinese people and they taught me a lot.  I went there to be a blessing but I came back the blessed.  More later.

Preparing for a Journey

Just one more day until I set off to an adventure that has been 74 years in the making.  As I sit here and contemplate everything I need to include for the trip, my thoughts seem endless.  What do I need to pack?  I even found a three page list of things to consider.  I printed it off and highlighted the items I needed to include from it.  From past experience, I know that there are always things that I wished I would have brought but didn’t, but I will be totally out of my familiar territory and won’t necessarily be able to just pick up what I might need.

It seems that everyday something else pops up that I hadn’t thought of.  Just two days ago I got an email from my church, needing for me to fill out an information form for my health insurance to cover me in a foreign country.  As it worked out I had a visit from my health provider and found out that my present insurance wouldn’t cover me in a foreign country.  Just another reason to be a part of a team that is experienced in making such trips.  Even as I am typing this blog I just got a note from my trip insurance Company for additional information they need for the insurance.

Since I am going to a part of the world that I am totally unfamiliar with, I decided to look up the area and learn something that would make my trip richer.  I discovered that this particular area is the center of produce (fruit and vegetables) for China.  Its importance goes back for thousands of years.  That piece of information may not seem important to you but it rang a bell to me.  You see I was raised in Palisade, Colorado which was the peach capitol of the world at one time.  It is an oasis of fruit and vegetable because of its 300 days per year of sunshine and its irrigation system and I worked in it all year.  My day operated the 4 largest produce outlets in the valley and I became spoiled with the best that was available.  I pruned the fruit trees, irrigated plowed, thinned picked and even bought and sold it.  Now I get to see how they do it in another culture and I am so looking forward to tasting it for myself.

When I arrive there in a couple days from now, I will be much like a new born baby.  Little hair, few teeth, can’t speak the language, and won’t know my way around. Yet babies make it and so can I.  I was thinking about the journey a baby makes in its arrival to this world from the world of the womb.  It is all so strange and takes a lot of adjustment.  I was also thinking about our arrival into the spiritual world.  It doesn’t begin after physical death but after the death of the old man that Paul referenced in Romans.

Romans 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

This new life begins at our salvation when we become the new creation of God. (II Cor 5:17)  Just as a newborn has to learn how see, hear, speak, etc., we also have to learn how to operate in the spiritual life.  That spiritual existence actually begins here in this world where God is transforming us into His image, likeness and dominion.  That process is know as sanctification and isn’t completed until we receive our new body and we meet the Lord in the air.  It is much like the gestation period of a pregnancy in which the fetus receives its body for this life.  Our physical death can also be compared to the child’s birth when it physically moves from the world of the womb to the world of time and space which we live in now.

As I contemplate the final destination of my trip to China, it only enhances my expectation of my final destination of being with the Lord through eternity.

The Trial of Your Faith

James 1:2-3  My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

1Peter 4:12-13 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

The idea of our faith would be tried sometimes provokes the concept that there might me some flaw in it that doesn’t measure up to God’s standard.  This comes from our fallen nature that is forever trying to earn approval from God.  There are two reasons that our faith would be tested.  One is because we want to find the point of weakness.  Stress is added until the weakest point fails and reveals the weakness.  The second is to prove that the strength exists to bear the load.  In construction we would sometimes do a load test to prove that the structure would bear the weight of the load.  For example, the load for a beam would be 5,000 pounds, with a safety factor of 2,500 pounds, so we would load the beam with 7,500 pounds to prove that it was strong enough for its designed weight.  This is the way the above verses are being used.  God knows how much we can bear, but we do not know so he demonstrates that not only can we bear the weight but also that we discover that He is more than able to bring us through it.  He is not trying to break us down but to build our confidence in His working.

There are at least six reasons why God would put your faith to the test.

1.  We need to learn how to trust God. 

2.  We need to know who we really are.

3.  The world needs to see faith in the Lord really work.

4.  We need to be strengthened for battle.

5. We need the encouragement of victories.

6.  We must discover our eternal reality.

(Each of these are addressed in chapter 7 of my book, The Mystery of Faith.  See the Mystery of Faith section of this website, on how to order your copy)

Remember that we are His workmanship and He is recreating us in His image, His likeness and His dominion.  His plan is to deliver us from this sinful age and He will not fail to deliver us spotless and blameless to the Father.

 

Our Perspective

During the past week I have been spending some time with two of my sons in Coperas Cove, Texas.  We get together each year to go deer hunting, something that I have been doing since I was a teenager and went hunting with my brother and dad.  No, I didn’t shoot anything but that is not what was important to me.  My main goal is to capture the moment of time that we share together.  We would go out quite early in the morning and come in after dark in the evening.  One night, I lost my head netting that I use to keep the mosquito off and wasn’t aware of it until the next morning when we were going out again.  Mosquitoes can be more than a real pest, they can cost you your shot at your game, and even carry diseases, so I try to protect myself from them.  I don’t use spray because the deer can smell 50 times better than a human.

So anyway, as I was putting on my camouflage, I noticed my netting was missing.  I looked everywhere and it was not to be found.  I simply resigned that I would have to just trust the Lord with the matter and proceed with the hunt.  We walked up the same trail that I had used the night before.  We were walking in the dark and the moon was so bright that we weren’t using any lights.  As we reached the place where I had joined the trail the night before, I looked down and there was my mosquito net, right on the trail.  Just to let you know how amazing that was, the netting was also dark,  at night, no lighting except for the moon and I was focused on my exit, not looking for my net.

So I proceed to the tree stand and was feeling grateful that I found the netting and got to thinking about how the Lord is always watching out for us and using the events of life to bless us.  It was still about an hour and a half before sun up so I just sat there beholding the stars.  I noticed how the stars were twinkling and thought back to when I discovered why they twinkled.  (Do you know why they twinkle?)  It is because of the debris in our atmosphere.  The star that we are looking at may be much larger than our own sun, yet because of the distance it appears to be quite small.  Space is basically empty but our atmosphere is full of debris so that a small rock the size of a quarter of half dollar is large enough to block out the light from the star, if but for a moment.  I thought, how the twinkling star is like our view of God.  It is obstructed by even little things of this world, so that our view gives the appearance that God is not always there to be seen.  The things of this world can block out the glory of the vastness of God’s creation and it is not to be compared to the God of creation.

1John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  We must keep things in the right perspective.

Purpose Phrases

As I study the Scriptures, I have come to notice certain statements that I term “Purpose Phrases“.  These are phrases that define the ‘why’ of a passage.   One such passage is found in I Corinthians 1:8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  These Purpose Phrases often begin with the word ‘that’ and invariably reveal the answer to an oft ask question.  I couple them together with other similar passages and have found some amazing revelations.

Let me illustrate this phrase, “that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” in the above verse.   Other passages include;

  • Galatians 1:4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
  • Ephesians 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
  •  Ephesians 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 
  • Colossians  1:22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:  
  • 1Thessalonians 3:13 To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.  
  • 1Thessalonians 5:23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  
  • Titus 2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.  
  • Jude 1:24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless  before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,  

These do not encompass the whole of the idea but they illustrate my point.  When I was first saved I was told that we should try to be like Jesus, but then they added, of course we will never make it.  That left me thinking, then why try.  I have since learned by a careful study of the Scripture that we will make it.  God will deliver us without blame before Him in love.  I am not talking about sinless perfection in this world but of the final results of God’s work on us and how we will arrive in glory.  God is going to make good His promise to deliver us a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.  We are going to make it!