Friday, January 31, 2014

Coal or Diamond - Part 7

image used under Creative Commons license, courtesy of Wikipedia
Diamonds and coal or graphite are variations of the same material.  The variations in any external circumstances will then influence the final condition of the rock.  The same could be said for people. We start out with a clean slate.  Physical, spiritual, and our own psychological pressures create variations.

When we look at the diversity of the result of life's influences, we realize that, without God, the direction we take becomes a fixed path.  Only the direction changes, but it all leads away from God.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Subject to Like Passions

‎If you hadn't noticed, we've returned to our previous posting schedule of new posts on Monday and Friday, rewinds on Wednesday, and we're not sure if guest posts will be Wednesday or Thursday.  But it seems to be the schedule that gets everything posted on time with the least interference to the rest of the things on our plate.  

Today's guest post is a repost from Pastor Allan Leitner.  Pastor Leitner is one of those people I treasure in my life.  He has wisdom and a way of communicating that wisdom that just draws you into wanting to do things God's way.  And, if you need a friend, he's a great one to have.  Today's post deals with differences and likenesses.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Coal or Diamond - Part 6

image used under Creative Commons license, courtesy of Wikipedia
Once again, that's the Oppenheimer diamond.  Its outstanding qualities are size and clarity.  Unlike many other stones, it might be more recognizable as a diamond because of the clarity.  And there are several sides to recognition.

The professional doesn't need something as obvious as the Oppenheimer diamond to recognize a stone having value.  The trained eye will know what qualities to look for.  The less well trained seeker will often make one of two mistakes.

The amateur or poorly trained professional can miss valuable diamonds. They may not recognize what they find. Or, on the other hand, looks can lead them to be attracted to other stones, with little or no value.  Because they display more sparkle or color.  That same kind of error can come into our spiritual life.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Coal or Diamond - Part 5

image used under Creative Commons license, photo by Roger Barker
Galatians 6:7-8 (KJV)  Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.  For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 

The reality of life is that we all have some form of pressure.  It's what comes next, as a result, that's a measure of the quality of the "gem".  Yes, there are some who are so flawed that the pressure breaks them.  But most of us come through the pressures better than when we went into them.  That's not to say that all of us recognize the sources of the pressures.  Nor does it mean we all come out at the same grade of gem-like quality.  And, for some. it takes longer under pressure to start to show any quality.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Coal or Diamond - Part 4

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
“There is someone I love, even though I don’t approve of what he does. There is someone I accept, though some of his thoughts and actions revolt me. There is someone I forgive, though he hurts the people I love the most. That person is me.” - C. S. Lewis

I reshared that in several places, a couple of days ago.  If we're Christian, C. S. Lewis is familiar. And we understand the context of the statement.  A strong believer, disheartened by his inability to be 100% pleasing to God.  But the description could fit all humans, including those not walking with God.  It's the members of the Trinity that never fall short, not us.  There is a point, as we'll see, when it's possible to not even attain much of the utilitarian value of a lump of coal.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

How to Avoid Being Like Panera Bread When Sharing the Gospel

I recently read this post by Peter Guirguis and it resonated with me.  Enough that I thought it was worth sharing with our readers.  Note that Mr Guirguis links to several earlier posts where he expresses some views that vary with what I believe.  I lost the linking within the post, when I did a little converting to try to retain Peter's formatting as much as possible, yet fit in with our formatting. So, I've noted titles within the text, but added the links to those other posts at the bottom of this one.  You're free to follow the links to those other posts or not, as you choose, after reading this one.  In the text, I've bolded and italicized where the links would be.  And posted the actual links at the bottom, in the order they appear in this post.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Coal or Diamond - Part 3

image used under Creative Commons license, photo by John Mueller
It's easy, under the right circumstances, when you're not thinking with God, to feel valueless and just another lump in the pile like that picture to the left of a coal pile, ready to feed a steam heating system. That includes missing the diamond potential, even though it's there.  It also highlights the need to avoid glamorizing the wrong parts of the process.  That gives me a chance to make a side note on this series.

In some ways, this is the hardest set of posts I've had to write.  Only partly because there is much more that's personal.  Here's why:

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Coal or Diamond - Part 2

image used under Creative Commons license, courtesy of Wikipedia
The image for today's post is of one of the most famous diamonds, the Oppenheimer Diamond.  It's almost .8"x.8".  Large and nearly perfect.  As you can see, it's rough and doesn't have the symmetry and beauty of a cut stone.  The Oppenheimer Diamond is renowned for its size and clarity.  If you and I walked past most uncut stones, we wouldn't recognize they had any value and would most likely ignore them.  Let's think together about that one.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Give Place to Perfect Love

We're experimenting with a new posting schedule and it may change some, till we hit what works best.  Right now, we're planning on Sunday and Tuesday for our own new posts.  We seem to do quite a few series.  This, hopefully, keeps at least two segments together.  Our previous schedule had something in between all the new posts.  We'll continue to share weekly links to an older post as a Wednesday rewind.Either Thursday or Friday will be our guest posts.  We aren't sure of that, yet.

The best part is that nothing is etched in stone.  We want to create the best reading schedule for our readers, while allowing other things into our schedule, like ministry and more devotionals and books.  Whether you like the new schedule or have another idea, we want to hear from you.  Leave a comment at the end of this post.  And enjoy a new short devotional from our friend, Todd Parsons.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Coal or Diamond? - Part 1

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Over the last week or so, we've talked about being unique and about the importance of making sure God was in the driver's seat.  That group of posts seemed to resonate a lot with people. We got quite a few comments on various parts of the last one in particular.

Between conversations in the comments and some similar posts, it all got me thinking about the chain of events That took me from point A (birth) to point B (this very moment).  And, probably most important, the mindset that makes up point B.

The beginning illusration for this post is a chunk of anthracite coal.  I'd venture a guess that most of our readers grew up in a culture that fed its children some variation of the Santa Claus myth.  And the kids were told that, if they weren't good, they'd get a lump of coal instead of valued presents.  We saw no value in the coal.  And, somehow, in the back of our minds, some part of our lives got equated to the lack of value we saw in that lump of coal.  Fast forward twenty years and we're still tied to that lump of coal.  And we're both right and wrong.  Take a look at what I mean.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Enough, Already!

image used under Creative Commons license

I'm blessed enough to have easy access to a lot of great blogs and bloggers.  Normally, that's a great thing.  I get a lot of good information and spiritually well fed.  But the last week or so has had me feeling like the young man in the picture and brought me to the point of thinking the words in today's title.

It seems that the closer we are to the end or beginning of a year, one or more of several things happen:

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Unwrap The Gift - Scapegoat

The idea of a scapegoat so truly fits the heart of God.  And it's a fitting meditation between Christmas and New Years -- Christmas that celebrates the birth of our Scapegoat, an New Years Eve that symbolizes yet another potential new beginning for us.  Our Sunday morning service was about that.  Here's the Scripture passage, followed by the video: