Archive for March, 2010

I have all kinds of things on my desk, but one thing you would see if you came into my office is in the picture above.  Looking at it here, it does not look like much.  But for me, it carries many memories and a couple of reminders as well.

In 1988, I had the privilege of spending 6 weeks in Israel on an archaeological dig.  We were the first group to dig at Banias, which was Caesarea Philippi in the New Testament.  Since we were the group to “open” the dig, there was prep work necessary before we began our work.  I found this preparatory work interesting and contrary to what I would think would be normal activity for historians.  The government brought in a huge Caterpillar front end loader to scrape off, literally 2000 years of history, in order to get down to the first century.

Once they had reached what they estimated to be the approximate layer of first century civilization, we began our work of tediously digging to find artifacts and clues about what went on there.

But in my mind, I was puzzled by the fact that so much was pushed off and piled up as insignificant.  We were allowed to sift through the piles of “unimportant” stuff during our breaks and keep what we found.  This piece of pottery that sits on my desk is a base of a big pot that dates to the Mamluk period (1200’s to 1500’s).  It reminds me of my time in Israel and the experience of a lifetime with which God blessed me.

It also reminds me of something else.  While I understand that the goal of our dig was to explore the relevance of the site in the first century, this pottery reminds me that I should never see anyone or any relationship as insignificant.  While our purposes in Israel were not concerned with the Mamluk period, this pot sherd represents a person living during that time who spent several hours crafting this piece of pottery.  It reminds me of a person and a time much different from me and the time in which I live, and I choose not to take that for granted.  It serves to remind me that I must value the people and relationships in my life – all of them.

While this pot sherd was not significant to the work we were doing, it is significant to me.

Is there anyone you take for granted?  Take a minute today to let them know you care!

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I am the world’s worst when it comes to being “Type A” and wanting to make sure I make the most of my time.  In fact, I used to keep a slogan pinned to my wall that said, “No Regrets.”  I didn’t (and still don’t) want to to get to the end of my life and say, “I wish I had done this or that.”  So my approach to life has been intense – making the most of my time by becoming as streamlined and efficient as I can be.  The biggest area this has come in to play is the area of multi-tasking.  I never go to the doctor’s office without a book or my computer – I can’t stand the thought of waiting with nothing to keep my productive.  I often return emails while talking on the phone.  And I never go on a trip without more work than I could possibly get done while I am gone – just in case there is some down time and I could get something done.  The result, however, is impaired focus.  There is no way for a human being to focus, truly pay attention, to multiple things at the same time and the thought that we can is a sickness caught from our society.

I ran across this blog post yesterday by Pete Wilson (@pwilson), a pastor in a church in Tennessee. You can take a look at it here.  It is very well done and reminded me of the importance of balance – the balance between what I think I need to get done and my relationship with God.

Several years ago, I did a lot of study on spiritual practices and realized that I must carve some time into my “busy” schedule to be still before God.  That means if want to be close to God, one of the first things I must do is nothing.  That is really hard for me to do, but that is what it takes.  Simply being still before God and forgetting about efficiency and productivity.

In the long run, the real regret would be a life lived without a relationship with God.

Be still today!

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Feed Your Faith

I went to the doctor’s office this morning to have my leg checked.  It’s just purple but Kristi thought it would be better to be safe than sorry (she’s pretty smart about these things).  At any rate, while I was waiting, I noticed one of the nurses wearing a jacket that had the hospital logo on the front, but on the back was a neat statement.  It said, “Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death.”

What a great thought!  As I think about my own life,  any time I feel uneasy about anything, if I will stop and remember that God holds my life in the very hands that created the world, things somehow don’t seem so bad.  When we focus on our faith and growing in our relationship with God, our fears become very small.

It is not that our fears are magically removed.  And it is not that the things that cause us fear go away.  But rather, when we take our eyes off of ourselves and our problems and focus on God, life is put into perspective.

So today, are you feeding your faith or are you letting your concerns and fears eat at you?  Your choice.

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Sowing Seeds

There is an older Chevrolet commercial set on a highway running through a cornfield.  The opening scene shows a close up of the pavement with one kernel of corn laying there.  After a few seconds, the kernel begins to vibrate and then suddenly it is catapulted into the air where it miraculously morphs into a Suburban, which hits the ground running.  As it drives off, the camera pans back down to another kernel that follows suit, but it turns into an Avalanche pick up.  Soon, one vehicle after another is “popping” onto the highway.  As the vehicles begin to appear, they form a line moving the same direction down the road.  They begin, one after the other to pass an old Chevrolet farm truck driving the same direction down the road.  As the vehicles pass, the camera zooms in on the open bed of the old truck.  There in the back is a large gunnysack of corn seed spilled over into the bed.  The commercial ends with a flood of kernels spilling out of the back of the truck onto the highway.

As I sat and watched that commercial and pondered the message of the old truck spreading the seed and the resulting “lineage” of newer vehicles popping up, I began to see this as a metaphor for our own Christian heritage.

Our existence is dependent on the many who have been here before us.  Our heritage is one of seeds, spread out over time and space.  In turn the future is dependent on the seeds we sow.

What kind of seeds are your spreading?  Where are you sowing them?

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Still Skiing

Two days of skiing has about got me worn out – and one more to go.  It has been a great time so far.  Pray for our group today.  We ski until 4 and then get on a charter bus to drive all night (14 hours or so) arriving home around breakfast time tomorrow.

One of the things that I have been reminded of on this trip is that I am not as young as I once was but I have had to keep going.  Speaking of going, I have to hit the slopes.  I will have lots of stories to share in future posts.

Have a blessed day!

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I am spending a couple of days in Colorado with the youth of our church and my family.  We are skiing at Crested Butte for three days (counting yesterday).  I am not sure I am in any kind of shape to ski three days in a row but we are going to give it a try.

Yesterday, I decided to venture off and try a couple of double black diamonds to see if I thought Kristi and Bryson could handle it.  It started off fine.  The top of the run was about like the other blacks I have skied but then I realized that evidently signage is not important to people who make it a habit of skiing double blacks.  On the map, The Glades looked like a wide open area.  I had no idea that the word Glades in Crested Butte talk means 4 foot wide runs through trees – oh, and did I mention that this was a double black?  Had there been a sign, I would have realized that I was not in the right place.  But I didn’t need a sign to realize that I was in way over my head.  After about 1/2 mile of that, I just took my skis off and slid down on my rear end and even then I found my way into a couple of trees (you know its steep when you can’t stop sliding even with both heels dug in).

Thank God we don’t have to live our daily lives with no sign posts – no directions.  God has given us a book – God’s Holy Word – to help us make it through this life.  So today, if you find yourself on the wrong path, fighting all kinds of dangerous obstacles, turn to God’s trail map the Bible.  I can tell you that getting back on the right trail may take some work on your part fighting the trees and rocks, but once you are there its a blast.

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Mold Me Lord Jesus

There is a sticky note on the top right corner of my monitor that I keep there as a reminder.  It is the only sticky note on my monitor (lest you think I am one of those who has sticky notes covering the circumference of my screen).  The words on the sticky note say this, “Mold me Lord Jesus to be like you!”

When I look back on the reason that I started this blog, Clay In The Hands, it is because I wanted a place to reflect on how Jesus molds me along this journey of the Way and I prayed that sharing my journey would somehow be used by God to mold others as well.

I am not sure how God has been able to mold others through this ministry, but I do know how God has used it to mold me.  I have been reading (as most of you know) through the book of Romans for several years now.  I have been camped in chapter 12 for about a month.  I have come to think of this chapter as the Christian Manifesto.  Just about everything you need to know to live for Jesus is in this chapter.

But today I am reminded that the molding of our lives into being more like Jesus happens when we cease to chase after the things of this world – stop being conformed to this world and its patterns – and we allow God to transform us by giving us a new way of thinking about life and love and service.

This blog is really built on the foundation that God is in the pottery business and we are in the formation stage.  Let God give you a new mind today.

Lord Jesus, mold us to be like you!

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