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.’ ”



When Thoughts and Prayers Are Not Enough

When Thoughts and Prayers Are Not Enough

Once again our Nation is glued to the media as another horrific and incomprehensible murder of innocent children has occurred. The news reporters and politicians offer their “thought and prayers ” as a way of expressing their sorrow but it doesn’t comfort the grieving families. Our good thoughts or wishes might make us feel better but prayer has no power if it isn’t directed toward the Sovereign God of the universe who hears and sees all. I viewed quite a few memes that stated “thought and prayers” are not enough.

The Jeremiah prophesied, “Thus says the LORD: “A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.” He depicts the wailing at the time of Israel’s exile to Babylon and it is quoted in Matthew 2:18 after King Herod slaughtered all male babies because he felt threatened by the announcement of the newborn King – Jesus. Today the parents in Texas refuse to be comforted…. there are no pat answers to explain away the terror these children faced in their last moments or why. No amount of words can fill the void in their homes because nothing will ever be the same. It is bad for our own mental health to continuously watch the news but we do need to discuss openly and honestly with our children about what happened at an age appropriate level and then shut the news off.

What to do for ourselves: 6do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. What you will receive: 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. What we can focus our thoughts on: 8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:6-8

Following Him and reading His Word is the answer for the issues of today. Faith should lead to action. Be a positive role model to the children in your neighborhood, church, school or community. Advocate for safety and increased mental health awareness and treatment. Watch your own children and monitor their use of media, violent games and movies. Children need a sense of security and boundaries. They also need to be taught respect for authority. It is our responsibility – not the school or church!

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 (ESV) Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. Proverbs 11:14

Read some of the promises of God :

The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:9-10

…and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” Psalm 50:15

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:26–27

Truly pray for those who are suffering right now and share the eternal hope we have because of Jesus in word and action .

Promises You Can Count On

Promises You Can Count On

Those of us who live in the north of the country are now enjoying the beauty of Springtime. The birds have migrated back to their nesting places and bulbs planted in the fall are pushing their way through the earth. The trees and bushes are blooming in a glorious array of color everywhere we look. Farmers have begun the process of tilling the soil and planting new seeds with hopes of a good harvest. This is all looked forward to with great anticipation in the full circle of the seasons – especially the warmer weather! The promise of Spring brings hope and it has been proven scientifically that more sunshine and longer hours of daylight elevates our moods.

Our politicians make many promises we cannot count on. Weddings and graduations bring many promises of a bright future but sometimes those promises are broken and plans do not turn out as hoped for. The farmer plants with great expectation but he cannot control the rain and sun that is needed for heathy growth. Are there any promises we can count on?

The definition of a promise is, “a declaration or assurance that one will do a particular thing or that a particular thing will happen” or a “binding pledge from one person to another”. The person to whom the promise is made has every right to expect the promise to be fulfilled. A mans’ (or womans’) word used to mean something. If you gave your word and shook on it it was as good as done. When we were kids on the playground we would “pinky promise” about something and it meant you could be trusted and would never betray your friend. There are almost 7500 promises from God to mankind in the Bible. Throughout the Scriptures faith is the trustful human response to God’s self-revelation through His words and His actions. He has proven over and over that He is faithful to His Word even when we are not.

In an article I found on Bible.org it listed 12 types of promises we can find. God promises 1) to answer our prayers, 2) provide healing 3) give us strength and power 4 )hope for the future 5) to be with us 6) forgiveness of sin 7) protection 8) peace of mind 9) wisdom and guidance 10) to supply our needs 11) eternal salvation 12) an end to suffering.

A verse I memorized as a child told me where to look for the answers in life and here are some other favorites. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.  Psalm  119:105

For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100: 5

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.   1John 1:9

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.  John 14:26,27

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.    Romans  8:38,39

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?   Matthew 6:26&29

Yes, we can count on our great and mighty God’s promises. The second verse of an old hymn, “Standing on the Promises of God” says it well.

Standing on the promises that cannot fail.
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God. [Refrain]

RISEN

RISEN

As I stood on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, I was profoundly moved standing in this place and recognizing my own deep need for soul restoration and peace with God. Tabgha is the traditional site where Jesus first called His disciples, performed several miracles and prepared a last breakfast for his disciples post-resurrection. Here He restored Peter to relationship with Himself and to future service as head of The Church. However, my mind was also flashing back to scenes from a movie we had recently watched called Risen.

The crucifixion of Jesus is over but Pilates’ problems are still unravelling. Three day later the body is missing from the tomb and Clavius, a Roman tribune is tasked with finding the body. He examines the tomb and finds the Roman seal has burst from the inside, the heavy stone moved, used grave cloths lay empty and the guards cannot be found. He begins his pursuit of ferreting out the truth.

The Tribune sends his guards to find all followers of this Yeshua to find what they did with the body and to stop the rumors that their crucified teacher had risen from the dead as He prophesied. Clavius enters the upper room where he finds the disciples with Jesus, he drops his sword as he views the man he saw die on the cross, sitting among them. He watches in shock as Thomas examines the mans’ hands and pierced side. He cannot reconcile two things in his mind, “A man dead without question, and that same man alive again.” He then abandons his post and follows these disciples back to Galilee to learn more. He is at Tabgha with the disciples and realizes this man Jesus is like no other. The Tribune admits his part in the crucifixion to which Jesus replies, “I know”. And then asks him, “what bothers you?” Clavius replies, “being wrong”. “What is it you seek?” but before he can reply Jesus answers,” Certainty, peace and a day without war?“‘ The very same answer this Tribune had given Pilate earlier. At the end of the film, Clavius is retelling his story to an inn keeper and states, “I believe. I can never be the same.”

Have you examined the facts of The Resurrection? Jesus’ willing sacrifice on the cross was for our sin to reconcile us with The Father. His last words were, “It is Finished”. There was no more need for animal sacrifice and we can not earn our salvation by doing good works. The power over death and the grave has only been accomplished by Jesus, the Son of God . Every other prophet and leader in history remains in their grave. Being a Christian means being a follower of Jesus Christ, having peace with God, sharing His love and being certain of our eternal future. What bothers you my friend? What is it that you long for? Do you seek certainty and peace? Follow Him and your life will never be the same.

Standing at Tabgha on
the shore of the Sea of Galilee

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”?

Hope in Troubling Times

Hope in Troubling Times

Today as I started to write my heart felt so heavy. Our world is in a mess largely of our own making. Climate change has brought uncontrollable fires and floods, draughts and increased tornadoes with loss of habitat and life . Where I live in New England we had a beautiful 65 degree day on Wednesday and today (Friday) we have snow with six plus inches. Worldwide the economy is struggling and the pandemic caused so much death as well as controversary over wearing masks and vaccine mandates. It seems that injustice and violence are ever increasing. Until yesterday the world powers hoped, watched and waited for Russia to de-escalate but instead they have started an unprovoked war with Ukraine. Where is God while all this is going on? The events on our timeline are no secret to Him but are part of a plan started long ago and that gives me hope.

Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. Psalms 121:4 (NLT)

O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure. Isaiah 25:1 (ESV)

Jesus himself warned: And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately.7 Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world.8 But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come. Matt 24:6-8 (NLT)

Faith is trusting God even when you don’t understand. Faith accepts that God has a better plan, even if the results are never seen. Faith is having the courage to let God have control. When we relinquish “our right” to control – actually it is our right to worry about what we have no control over – then He will give us peace. Faith is obeying His word when life doesn’t make sense. By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command. (Heb 11:3)

Just recently I was reminded of how easy it is to take the order of creation for granted. There are four seasons in every year. Each 24 hour period has night time and daylight with sun, stars and moon weather we see them or not. The ocean tide rises and falls and in spring we see signs of new life in flora and fauna. We see Him at work through creation. Psalm 139 extols our all powerful Creator Who sees and knows everything, is always present and searches our hearts. Our God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow – He never changes and that is why we can trust Him and find hope in all of our trouble.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you 1 Peter 1:3-4 (ESV)

For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NLT)

The Bible clearly states that we are saved (from eternal death and separation from God) through faith in Christ’s death on our behalf or for our sins (mistakes, faults, failures) , that He died a cruel death but rose again having power over the grave and He is coming back again. What we are experiencing in our world today are signs of the end times but I am not an expert on prophecy. I do know that we need to be ready. Are you?