A Diamond in the Rough

A Diamond  in the Rough
Quartz

When our daughter was in Middle School she had an interest in rock collecting so for Christmas we gave her a rock tumbling machine. Her kit came with a small variety of geodes.  The machines they design for kids are very noisy and take what seems like an eternity to semi polish a stone. Geodes are rocks that are plain on the outside but can have beautiful crystals on the inside. These polished stones can be found at rock shops all over the country.

The world’s love of diamonds had its start in India, where diamonds were gathered from the country’s rivers and streams. Some historians estimate that India was trading in diamonds as early as the fourth century BC.  Today diamonds are plentiful compared to other precious gemstones and can be found all over the earth.

A diamond has to go through a lot before it reaches the jeweler’s display case. It forms deep in the earth under extreme heat and pressure. It’s ejected violently upward until it arrives at or near the earth’s surface. It’s forced from its hiding place by nature or by man. Then it’s cleaved and cut and polished until its natural beauty shines through.

World’s largest uncut diamond auctioned in 2016

Diamonds are then graded in four categories to measure value. First by Carat or it’s size and secondly by the Cut which displays the jewelers skill in making the stone sparkle. The next grade is grade for lack of Color, clear being the best . All diamonds have an inclusion or tiny unique imperfection developed when it was forming , like a birthmark, which determines Carity. The Master Jeweler can tell the difference between a diamond and quartz and sees the microscopic details within.

Industry statistics indicate that approximately one ton of earth has to be moved for every one carat of diamond that is mined, so in the case of the 1.60 carat diamond about 4.25 tons of earth were moved… That’s a lot of dirt for a tiny rock. (from pricescope.com) Only 30% of diamonds mined are used for jewelry the rest are used in industry for drilling, grinding and cutting among other uses.

We are all like a “diamond in the rough”. He sees our imperfections and knows our value and uniqueness. He already knew all about us before we were born and has a purpose for our lives.

Psalm 139:15–16 (ESV)
15My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.16Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

God is Sovereign and wants to mold us into the person we should be. But like a potter with a lump of clay, we are a work in progress. Some people require a lot more “dirt” to be removed before moving on to the next step but that too is part of the process. (sorry no verses for cutting a diamond)

Jeremiah 18:2–4 (ESV)
2“Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” 3So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. 4And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.

When we are going through difficult circumstances of any kind it is easy to question what God is doing. But He ultimately desires the best for us. He will use the pressure of trials to help us grow in faith and resilience. We will shine brighter in our testimony because He puts the sparkle of love, joy and peace into our lives.

Zechariah 13:9 (ESV)
9And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are m
y people’; and they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’ ”



What is Your Moral Compass?

What is Your Moral Compass?

I believe our society is losing something extremely valuable to the wholeness and vitality that makes us unique and united. No not the honor due to the American flag , that is only a symptom of the problem. We have lost our moral compass. America was founded on the Judeo Christian ethics that support the right to life ( all life is valuable in God’s eyes from conception to death) liberty (the freedom to choose how/where you will live ) and the pursuit ( the right to achieve one’s personal goals) of happiness.

The definition of morality In the American Dictionary is, ” a personal set of standards for good or bad behavior and character, or the quality of being right and honest.”

In my research I found that people have different definitions for their personal moral compass. Our former first lady, Michelle Obama, was quoted as saying, “I’ve learned that as long as I hold fast to my beliefs and values and follow my own moral compass then the only expectations I need to live up to are my own.” That sounds all well and good except that as first lady the country had certain expectations as to her moral character and behavior. I have heard people say “well, that is my truth“. What does that even mean? If my truth says my car will go 40 miles on one gallon but the manufacturer states that it will only go 24 mpg then when I ignore that little blinking warning light – I will run out of gas. That is truth.

In the movie Guardians of the Galaxy Rocket, the genetically engineered racoon, is talking to Nova Corps and asks, “What if I see something that I wanna take and it belongs to someone else?” “Then you will be arrested.” “But what if I want it more than the person who has it?” “Still illegal.” “That doesn’t follow. No, I want it more, sir.” It was humorous because most people share the basic moral belief that stealing is wrong.

The ten commandments, also known as the Decalogue, are a set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship that play a fundamental role in Judaism and Christianity. God gave His people these rules to help make them a separate and holy people but it does not take away the basic problem of sin. Jesus Christ paid the penalty for breaking God’s law on the cross.

Ralph Waldo Emerson stated, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” Dennis Prager put it this way, “The moral north reads south and the moral south reads north. Much of the world’s moral compass is broken.”

Jeremiah 17:9 states, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it

Since we naturally tend to be selfish and self-centered God has given believers His Word and an internal spiritual compass – The Spirit of Truth.

How do we find TRUTH? John 14:6–7 (ESV)
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Our internal compass John 15:26
26“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.

Our Guide 2 Timothy 3:16–17
16All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
17that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Put God First Proverbs 3:5–7
5Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
6In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
7Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.

Everyday is a new beginning. I hope you choose Gods’ moral compass that always points true north.


Do You Know Your Assignment?

Do You Know Your Assignment?

Our son just competed in the Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando, FL.  22,000 athletes, coaches and families from all fifty states and the Caribbean islands came together for a week of hard competition in a wide variety of sports.  We are proud to say our son won a gold, silver and bronze in his athletic events and division. Jeremy was the only one to wear braces on his legs to assist with running but these games are about abilities – NOT disabilities.

One of the t-shirts team Massachusetts wore says, “We understood the assignment”. Each athlete had been chosen last year to compete in these games based on previous competitions. They practiced as individuals and teams to get in shape for their individual sports and had their eyes on the big challenge ahead. No one goes to these games hoping just to be there and watch. The goal is to win a gold medal! And more than a years’ worth of planning and preparing went on behind the scenes to make it all happen.

The Christian life is described by the apostle Paul as a race or competition much like the Greek and Roman Olympics in the first century.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.25Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.26So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.27But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (ESV)

Unfortunately, I think most modern Christians treat their assignment like a walk in the park. We go about our daily lives enjoying the good around us and then get frustrated and respond poorly when unforeseen obstacles are in our path. I certainly have been guilty of this when I am not in “spiritual shape” and preparing for each day or week ahead.

Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. 1 Corinthians 7:17 (ESV)

We are created in different sizes, shapes, backgrounds and God has given each of us different gifts and abilities to use for His glory. The Bible tells us He calls, prepares, equips and empowers us to live godly lives that will cause others to want to know Jesus. My assignment is to run the race He prepared for me day by day with purpose and intention. Purpose is the reason why I do what I do and intention focuses the attention needed to make things happen. Each day I must prepare myself with time in prayer and in His Word and also make extra time for training in the arena He has called me to live and work.

I love the Special Olympics athlete’s oath .

Obviously not everyone will obtain a gold medal and that’s alright. We aren’t given the same strength and abilities or assignment but everyone will be held accountable for how they use what they have. There are many questions we can ask ourselves to better our position. What obstacles or sinful habits stand in my way of success today? Did I prepare well this morning, week, month? Was I focused to do the best I could? If not, what attitudes, distractions or problems do I need to bring before The Lord and deal with? Endurance comes with practice, trial and error but never by giving up. Are you “all in” to run the race or are you just sitting by the sidelines?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1 (ESV)


I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14 (ESV)

The Courage to Write

The Courage to Write

I am a proud contributor to this compilation of devotions and pleased to be included with writers such as Carol Kent, Lori Roeleveld, Katy Lee, Tessa Afshar and many more. “The Courage to Write” offers the encouragement you need to get started or continue your writing journey. You will find 62 biblically-based devotions from past faculty and members of the reNew writers community.

Your story matters. It is unique to you and maybe someone else can learn from your experience.

You can order a copy at Amazon.com using the link here or I will have copies for sale as well.

https://amzn.to/3wGzTUj

Does Jesus Care?

Does Jesus Care?

When you are facing a crisis of any kind, do you wonder if God cares? When you feel lost or alone and think , “can’t He see I’m struggling here? ” When you watch tragedies unfold on the television do you wonder if He hears our prayers? I can tell you dear reader that yes, He cares. From cover to cover the Bible reminds us of Gods’ love and faithfulness to individuals as well as groups of people.

Reading through the Psalms of David gives us insight into this “man after God’s own heart.” David was called as a young man to serve God and was anointed to one day become king of Israel. But most of his life was filled with difficulty – running from a crazy man(Saul), family disfunction and wars to name a few. That is why his words so often reflect the feelings and questions of our own hearts.

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Ps 34:18. ESV

A person’s steps are established by the LORD, and he takes pleasure in his way. Though he falls, he will not be overwhelmed, because the LORD supports him with his hand. Psalms 37:23-24 CSB

Why, my soul, are you so dejected? Why are you in such turmoil? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise him, my Savior and my God. I am deeply depressed; therefore I remember you …. Psalms 42;5&6 CSB

When I am afraid, I will trust in you. Psalm 56:3 CSB

One time when the Lord Jesus travelled across the Sea of Galilee with His disciples, a great storm arose. In terror, the men roused their sleeping Master. “He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?’ (Mk. 4:38). What a question! The irony of it is striking. Why had He come to this earth? To save those who are perishing and destined for eternal ruin (Lk. 19:10; Jn. 3:16). On another occasion, the Lord was visiting in the home of Mary and Martha. Mary sat at His feet, absorbing His teaching. But “Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me’” (Lk. 10:40). If the first example represents fear’s mastery over faith (Mk. 4:40), the second strikes at the root of values and priorities (Lk. 10:41-42). by Robert Cottrill in Wordwise Hymns

Frank Ellsworth Graeff (1860-1918) was a Methodist minister who was well known for his sunny disposition and story telling abilities especially with children. However he struggled deeply with a number of losses, pain and testing experiences in his life. He often turned to Scripture for strength and solace and 1 Peter 5:7 “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you”, became especially meaningful to him and spoke to his need. It was during a time of great despondency and doubt that Rev. Graeff penned the words to the hymn, “Does Jesus Care?”.

It is only human to to experience times in our lives when we have doubts and question the nearness of God. Our struggles can leave us feeling defeated and depleted of joy when we lose sight of who God is and His loving care for us. It is in these moments we need to read in the Bible about the character of our God and cling to His promises.

God is Eternal, Faithful, Holy, Just, Loving, All Powerful, All Seeing, All Knowing, Always Present, Unchanging, Prince of Peace…

God is our Advocate, Counselor, Healer, Provider, Protector, Redeemer, Savior, Shepherd and Friend…

You can bring all your concerns, petitions, shattered dreams and wounded hearts and give them all to Jesus because YES He cares!

It Is Well With My Soul

It Is Well With My Soul

We hear and read about great tragedies on a daily basis. The deadly car crash, fires, hurricanes, the wild tornadoes and now a deadly war rages in the Ukraine. Our friend, a former fire Captain, told us that even if a building is a total loss but there is no loss of life it is a success. How do you respond to personal tragedy?

Horatio Spafford was a lawyer and supporting friend of the evangelist Dwight L. Moody. In the spring of 1871, Spafford invested in real estate north of Chicago . The Great Fire of Chicago in October 1871 reduced the city to ashes and most of Spafford’s investments with it. Two years later the family planned a trip to Europe. Late business demands kept him from joining his wife and daughters as they headed for England on vacation. On November 22,1873, while crossing the Atlantic, their ship was struck by an iron sailing vessel and sank rapidly killing 226 people, including all four of Spafford’s daughters. His wife Anna survived the tragedy and upon arriving in England she sent a telegraph that read, “Saved alone.” Spafford sailed to England to join his grieving wife and as the ship passed the area where his daughters had died he was inspired to pen the words to the now famous hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul’.

1. When peace like a river. attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.

Habakkuk prophesied just before the Babylonian invasion and captivity of Israel around 607 BC. The book presents a picture of a man who trusted God even though he was perplexed by current events.

17 Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,
18yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. Habakkuk 3:17–18 (ESV)

King David and others wrote Psalms crying out to God for hope and help, courage and strength in distress.

3When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
4In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? Psalm 56:3–4 (ESV)

1God is our refuge and strength, a very sufficient help in troubles.
2Therefore we will not fear though the earth change, and though the mountains totter into the midst of the sea,
3though its waters roar and foam, though mountains shake with its surging water. Psalm 46:1–3 (LEB)

Matias, director of Word of Life in Ukraine shared a post from a graduate there. Here is a shortened version: “Tomorrow, there is a van leaving for Germany from my city in the Dorbass region, which is almost entrenched by enemy forces…….However I decided to stay. I gave my life to God at camp last summer….This is my attitude now, I am ready to go in the fire. I understand that this is the place for me to be here to work and to serve… I’ve come to understand that I can find myself in the coolest country in the world and still be unsatisfied, or I can stay here, in the midst of bombings and fear, and be the happiest person in the world, because I am doing what I should be doing. I am not scared at all now, because I know the One who goes ahead of me.”

When I have found myself wondering why God is allowing something in my life I have read and hung on to His word, His promises. Whatever circumstance you may find yourself in whether great danger, financial disaster, illness, loss or even war, are you able to say with confidence, “It is well with my soul”?