Sunday, November 12, 2017

Walnut in the Woodpile. . .

I am a woodworker. I love the beauty of wood. I love making things from wood. I love the rich glistening, almost iridescent beauty of a finely finished piece of wood. I love the warmth of wood, compared to steel or glass or ceramic. I love looking at the growth rings in a piece of wood. Imagining the years of budding growth, and fruit bearing, and glorious autumnal colors, and then the time or dormancy. I love thinking of all the animals who were blessed by the tree from which the wood came. . . birds nesting and resting. . . squirrels scampering and gathering nuts and acorn. . . building their leafy dens high in the tree tops. Newborn fawns resting in the shade of the tree. . . I love wood. . .

All that being said, Jackie and I have a wood burner, and we burn wood to heat our home. I do recognize that wood serves many purposes, but still when I gather logs to place upon the fire, I look a bit ruefully at the piece and wonder what might have been created from it.

This year it has hit me especially hard. Amongst the oak, and cherry. . . maple and ash, as I helped unload and stack the wood in front of our house, I saw the remains of a walnut tree. To me walnut is the height of beauty of woods. It’s rich dark brown color. . . the silky smoothness to which it can be finished. . . the unique contrast in hues between heartwood, and sapwood, all blend together in my love for walnut.

I have resisted so far, but I am truly tempted to set aside the pieces of walnut, to try and make something of them, but once sawn, and split into such small pieces it is not very feasible for me to do much with them other than to burn them.

Walnut is so expensive. . . . so very very beautiful when finished. The eight boards I have selected for the top of our dining room table cost almost $600. . . to think of cutting them up and using them for the purpose of a brief time of heat, makes me almost cry at the thought. . . . . . . .

My mind is drawn to the parallels between the pieces of walnut laying on my stack of wood to be burned, and the wreckage of lives I encounter in my ministry at the jail. . . . what might have been. . . what might have been crafted a beautiful heirloom piece, handed down through the generations, now only used for a brief time of heat, before being consumed by the fire to ash and cast away.

This precious life. . . this amazingly versatile and capable body we are given. . . this wondrous mind we possess has the potential for such great and eternal beauty, and all too often we burn it instead for a short lived heat.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (20) For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

Psalms 139:14-16
I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. (15) My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. (16) Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

Genesis 2:7
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

God formed us from dirt, but with the addition of His breath, we were transformed from the lowly mire of our substance into the wondrous temple of God’s Spirit, and without His spirit, we soon revert back into that from which we were formed. . .

It is beyond me, but I know that God can transform even the shattered and cut, split and broken pieces of walnut in my woodpile into wondrously made heirlooms, for I know what He has done in my life.

Romans 12:1-2
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (2) And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Matthew 11:28-30
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (30) For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

I love you my God. . .
I give you great thanks for what you have done for me. . .


Friday, November 10, 2017

Principles of Christian Faith. . .

I do our church’s street sign message. I spend much time praying for God to give me the words He would like to see displayed there. Sometimes several weeks will go by with nothing coming to my mind, and I begin to worry and fret. . .

Thinking about this, this morning it comes to my mind, that the Bible’s message has not changed in 2000 years. Man’s interpretation of that message has changed at times. In the past men have twisted the words and selectively used the words of the Bible to try to bend them into all manner of their own beliefs, and men continue that practice unabated today, but the mere fact that men have corrupted God’s message, that does not demean or diminish the message of the Bible itself.

Below I have selected some of the foundational principles of the Bible:

1.The Word of God is divinely inspired and therefore perfect: 2 Timothy 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (17) That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

2 There is one and only one God: Deuteronomy 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:

3.We are to love God with everything we have and likewise love our fellow man: Deuteronomy 6:5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. Matthew 22:39 . . .Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

4. God requires obedience: Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;

5. Avoid and despise evil: Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.

6. There are consequences for sin: Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death. . .

7. Sin creates a debt, which must be paid for with a sacrifice: Leviticus 4:26 And he shall burn all his fat upon the altar, as the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings: and the priest shall make an atonement for him as concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him.

8. Jesus lived His entire life without sin, and was put to death, thereby becoming an acceptable sacrifice for our sins: 1 Peter 2:21-22 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: (22) Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:

9. By accepting Christ as the payment for our sins, by repenting and taking His name, our sins can be forgiven and the Spirit of God can then live within us: Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

10. There is only one way for man to attain salvation: Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am THE way, THE truth, and THE life: NO man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 10:9 I am THE door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

Common fallacies:

1. You can get into heaven by merely doing good: Romans 4:3-5 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. (4) Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. (5) But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

2. All you have to do is believe and If you believe, then you don’t have to quit sinning: Matthew 7:21-23 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. (22) Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? (23) And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

3. As a Christian you do not need to do good things. Belief alone is enough: James 2:17-18 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. (18) Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

4. You can be a Christian without being fanatical about it: Revelation 3:14-16 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; (15) I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. (16) So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

Things to remember:

1. It’s all about love. God loves us. . . all of us, even before we come to Him, and therefore we are to return His love for us back to Him, and to our fellow man: 1 John 4:7-11 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. (8) He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. (9) In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. (10) Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (11) Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

2. God’s way is perfect. No one at the end of the day, can point a finger at God and justly accuse Him of being unrighteous: Psalms 18:30 As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.

3.We do not understand everything. It is possible to ask questions that no one has an entirely satisfactory answer for. I have found answers for most of the questions that I had as an atheist, but there are still things I do not understand. . . questions I don’t have the answer for. . . Today as opposed to the past, rather than assuming that I am superior, and that God is the fool. . . I admit that there are things I don’t know and I have faith that there are good answers for my questions, which are due entirely to my lack of understanding. . . : 1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

Matthew 7:17-20
Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. (18) A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. (19) Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. (20) Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

For more than 40 years, I sat in the shade of an unrighteous tree. It was a tree of the flesh. Daily I ate of the fruits of it. This corrupt fruit solely fed the flesh, and starved the spirit. . . I have now found a different tree under which to reside, and the fruit of which is sweet and satisfying beyond anything I have ever before tasted.

Galatians 5:19-23
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, (20) Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, (21) Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, (23) Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

I give you great and undying thanks my God. . .
Thank you for everything You have done for me. . .
<3 br=""> Dave