Thursday, September 25, 2008


Walking around my in-laws house is a treat.  The lawn is perfectly manicured and there are pots of plants everywhere.  Creations that my father-in-law has painstakingly potted and then cared for.  

As I look at these things I am struck by just how amazing it must have been to be God as he began creating this world we live in.  The splendor of it all strikes - as beautiful as the plants and pots that Harold creates are, they are nothing compared to what the Creator of the Universe puts together.

Lately I have thought a lot about pots.  As I prepare a teaching for The Lighthouse, our churches second campus ministry, pots are on my heart.  

"Huh?," you ask.

Growing up going to church, and even into my adult life, I would walk into church and see people who seemed to have it all together, whose lives were seemingly perfect and fruitful and growing.  I liken them to the beautiful pots around my in-laws' house.  Perfectly manicured, well cared for, grown with love and care.  Perfect!

As I spent this time in church and observed some of these people, I really began to compare their pot with mine, if you will.  My pot, I felt, was nothing compared to those whose lives were "so perfect," those people who seemingly "had everything together."  Their lives were so beautifully arranged, crafted so well that it was obvious to me that God loved them far more then he did me.  He had to - otherwise these church-going peoples' live would look more like mine.  I figured that those people with "amazing pots" must have lived perfect lives and been basically sin-free.

That thinking, albeit false, can make "church" pretty intimidating, wouldn't you say?  And if you're like me, your pot never really looked like one of those.  My pot, in my eyes, looked like it had cracks all over it.  Eventually, that pot was so badly marred that it was broken into a million pieces.

The Creator of the Universe, though, is here to put all of us "broken pots" back together again.  He holds us in the palm of his hands; molding us and putting our broken lives back together.

Read these words from Jeremiah 18: 1-6:  This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord.  Go down to the potter's house, and there I will give you my message.  So, I went down to the potter's house, and I saw him working at the wheel.  But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands, so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.  Then the word of the Lord came to me:  "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?" declares the Lord.  "Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel."

In the Hebrew, the word for potter is "yatsar" - it means to form, fashion or frame.  It is also translated as "Creator" or "Maker."  In the text, Jeremiah goes down to watch the potter and sees that while the clay in his hands can sometimes be marred, the potter starts over again and re-forms it - re-fashions it.  And then the Lord asks, "can I not do with you as this potter does?"

I am amazed that a piece of scripture given to Jeremiah around 600B.C. is relevant in my life today.  As this teaching comes together, I find myself right in the middle of this text, as if the Lord is saying to me today - "O, Chris, can I not do with you as this potter does?  Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand."

As I continue to pursue Him with all of my heart, looking for grace and peace along the way, the past (Satan) seems to like to re-appear - as it did today.  And yet, in the middle of the struggle from which I am now incredibly emotionally drained, He speaks to me, for He is molding me and shaping me into who He wants me to be.  

II Corinthians 5:17 says "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come."

The Yatsar - the Creator of the Universe - doesn't care what we have done, how horribly we have sinned, how many terrible decisions we have made.  He comes to us in our brokenness, sweeps up the pieces of our shattered pots and begins to reshape us - if we let him.

He wants to do it for me - He wants to do it for you, too!  My prayer tonight is if you have made mistakes; if your life is less that you think it should be or can be; if you are stuck in patterns that lead you to feelings of despair; if someone has hurt you; if you are at your wits end; if you are broken - that you would listen to the question anew:  "O (your name here), can I not do with you as this potter has done to this clay?  As the clay is in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand!"

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The parking lot

There are times when God makes himself perfectly clear to me. Times when I can almost see him and touch him...then there are those moments like I experienced in the parking lot last night that leave me dazed and confused, asking if I am really a Christ follower.

Having just left a time of praise and prayer, 45 minutes with Jesus and others who are longing for more of him, it was time to pick up kids from catechism & youth group. Kid #2 was on time, kid #1 not so much.

After running a friend home, running to the store and taking #2 home, there I found myself back in the parking lot for the third time, AT CHURCH, with rage coarsing through my veins. "I am exhausted, I have things to do, things I want to do, it is time for them to be finished. Why can't you be done with youth group on time?" Thoughts like this run through my mind in the parking lot.

As I continue to experience grace & peace in this world, I am dumbfounded at how I can be so in touch one minute and so out of it the next - part of Satan's work I guess. Having read enough John Eldredge books to know that there is a battle going around us all the time, and that I need to judge what is going on around me by its fruit, invariably I find that I have not arrived and that I am not even close yet when "parking lot" moments occur in my life.

The youth group was late because they had surrounded the home of a gentleman from our community who is battling cancer. Some 45 kids and youth sponsors surrounded the home of this couple and turned to Christ in prayer. It was a moving time, I am sure, for two of the kids and their parents, who are part of this youth group. As I learned of this today, tears filled my eyes and shame filled my heart for what I was thinking as they were offering petitions to our Lord.

To experience grace & peace is to come to that point where life isn't about us anymore. It is to come to that point where Jesus Christ and what He is up to is what life is about. It is about not thinking so much about our own timetables. It is about circling someone's house in prayer and loving others above ourselves.

When this occurs John 10:10 becomes available to us. "The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

In this world so driven by schedules and a me-first attitude, I experience grace & peace when Christ shows up - and when he reveals himself to me. He did it at my computer twice within five minutes today - bringing tears to my eyes as he shows me just how present he is if - just if - I take some time, even in the parking lot, to experience the grace & peace he wants for all of our lives!