Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Pearls of Your Life

Among the most valuable of treasures is the pearl.  In ancient times it was the most valuable of all. 

In the mid-1800s in New Jersey a pearl rush was started after one lucky man discovered a huge freshwater pearl in a river.  He sold it for $1,500.00 which would be like a million dollars today.  Another pearl rush took off in Arkansas in about 1897 and lasted until 1909.  Jacques Cartier bought his New York location for two strings of pearls.  The value of pearls was even greater to those in the distant past.  They were obviously difficult to locate underwater.  The odds of finding a pearl in a mussel or oyster is slim, and the chances of finding one of good quality, color, shape and size…well, that is really huge. 

Pearls are formed by particles of sand or some irritant getting inside the shell.  The oyster or mussel then emits nacre to cover the annoying thing.  This forms around the irritant.  Layer after layer is emitted until the pearl is formed. 

The value of the pearl is clear in the Bible.  In fact, in the book of Revelation, John the Apostle, tells us each gate in heaven is made of a pearl.  Look at this: 

The twelve gates were made of pearls--each gate from a single pearl! And the main street was pure gold, as clear as glass.  Revelation 21:21 NLT

A gate to the city from a single pearl.  That is enormous and the value beyond estimation.  Imagine the pain of the irritant and the time involved in forming a single pearl of that size, and there are twelve of them.  What pain could be so great and how could it be covered to become so valuable and then become the entrance to the city of God?  Jesus’ suffering and death.  His pain.  God’s grace. 
Jesus points to the value of the pearl in this parable. 

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!   Matthew 13:45-46 (NLT) 

A pearl of great value was worth everything else.  And that is the value of the Kingdom of Heaven.  It is worth everything a person has to get it. 

The pearls of our lives are the pains and scars that are covered by God’s grace.  They come by our own actions or maybe someone else’s or just because we live in a broken world.  They come into our lives and God can take them…all of them.  Surround them with His grace and turn them into something beautiful and valuable.

The pearls are the story of your life.  And when God takes one after another He can string them together into something of incredible value.  Some stories will be all blessing and some will be filled with blunders.  But your story of redemption includes daily being shaped, forgiven, and restored.  Enjoy your pearls. 

Saturday, June 25, 2016


It might seem strange to see serving God and technological advances as compatible, but God is into being wise about using tools. 

Have you ever tried cutting down a tree or even cutting a limb?  Then you know it requires a decent tool.  A dull tool takes a lot more strength to cut with, and it may even leave you with a tree standing or a limb hanging.  Solomon addressed this issue here in the book of Ecclesiastes: 

Using a dull ax requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That’s the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed.  Ecclesiastes 10:10 (NLT)

Sharpen the ax!  Wisdom!  Success!  It is brilliant.  This verse isn’t just about sharpening an ax, but the application of wisdom to sharpen up and get things done.  

There once was a problem of technology in Israel.  Way back.  The technology of iron was a big thing.  Bronze was more available and familiar.  It was rather old school at this point, and had some limitations.  Bronze didn’t have the endurance and strength of iron.  Bronze was a step up from sharpened poles and rocks for tools and weapons, but not on the level of iron.  Israel had some tools of iron, but no blacksmiths.  They were using old tech in the then modern world of iron.  That was a problem.  How were they to accomplish God’s plan for them without keeping up with the tech of the day?  They struggled.  They even had to make compromises to have the Philistines who had the tech and the trained technicians take care of sharpening their iron tools.  

Look at this in 1 Samuel: 

So whenever the Israelites needed to sharpen their plowshares, picks, axes, or sickles, they had to take them to a Philistine blacksmith.   1 Samuel 13:20 (NLT)

God didn’t want the Israelites compromising and being subjected to the Philistines, but technology played a part in keeping them in this situation.  

An amazing bit of technology that is a testimony to God’s wisdom and plan is writing.  Yep, writing.  Not such a big deal because we are used to it.  But to be able to read and write was a huge thing through the centuries.  The people of God wrote.  We have the Bible written over 1,500 years by various authors.  Sixty-six books joined together.  Earlier the books were written on papyrus or sheep skin and rolled into scrolls and then some techie thought…hey, why don’t we cut these 20 cubits long scrolls into 8 ½ by 11 sheets and bind them together and call it…umm…a book.  Easier to handle and carry around and to locate verses so God can guide us better through the Scripture.  And it was good.  Then another dude, a German, got tired of hand writing the same thing over and over and over again for flyers telling the village people there was a sale on pigs.  He was kind of a tech kind of guy and carved out movable type that could be set and pressed on paper.  Set the words with the type one time and make thousands of pig sale flyers.  Great idea.  But they really thought getting the Bible published this way would get more of God’s Word to more people.  Serving God by keeping up with tech.  So they did print the Bible.  The Gutenberg Bible was printed in 1455.  Lots of printing has happened since.  

In 2008 those techies were at it again.  The YouVersion Bible app shows up.  These crazy unleashed phones people carry around with them now have a Bible that is really handy to use. 

YouVersion's Bible App features 1254 Bible versions, in 909 languages, audio Bibles for popular versions, offline capabilities, as well as over 800 Bible Plans on specific topics, portions of the Bible, the entire Bible, and devotionals. -From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

That is fantastic!  Technology rightly used is doing great things for the Kingdom of God.  Have you thought about it?  Technology.  Have you rejected changes?  Have you embraced it and found ways to honor God with it?  

Have you considered how we get to the next level?  How about this?  We need people who are walking with God to be creative and knowledgeable in tech so that we can use whatever is out there to promote the Lord and His ways.  

I have these grandkids who are into Minecraft.  It’s a computer game that has taken hold of the younger crowd.  It is easy to judge the whole thing and consider it mindless amusement, but wait. 
In the article The Benefits of Learning with Minecraft there is a fascinating bit of info: 

Where these courses really make the difference, is in expanding the practical knowledge a player can bring to their own Minecraft universe, while putting that process of creative thinking, experimentation and adaptation front and centre.
Each student will come away with their own unique projects because the workshops and camp foster independent thinking and customisation. But participants will have got to those very different points using advanced computing skills that they wouldn't have otherwise been able to bring into play. These skills include navigating a 3D design space with MCEdit, topographical 2D mapping or the application of Minecraft's 'electronic' components (traps, machines). It doesn't matter that some of the terms seem like gobbledygook to non-players. Ask your child about what they have created and they will take you into an expansive world all of their own making.

Did you get all that?  If not, be glad there are some kids who do.  Why?  Jobs for them and the future for us.  The Navy wants to recruit mid-career specialists to fill technical jobs. They will become chiefs and captains after only completing boot camp.  These are people who can do the tech jobs and understand computers and have the skills to handle the work.  Who will they be in the future?  Kids who are stuck on Minecraft now.  They will be learning robotics which is one of the fastest growing fields and projected to be huge in the years ahead.  They will know coding which is necessary to adapting to whatever software is thrown at them.  

During a recent family gathering a retired engineer talked about the importance of learning the elements of technology, the computer coding, programming and the like so that no matter the advances people can still keep working and moving forward.  Fascinating to consider.  Whale oil and gas lamps faded out of popularity when electricity came along.  Buckets carried from the creek or the well fell out of favor with running water into the house.  We are indebted to a few creative and enterprising folks who thought there might be another way.  

Maybe we at whatever age and stage of life we are can help serve God by using tech, and if we aren’t the ones inventing maybe we can help those who have a knack for it.  Point them to God…that is the first and foremost thing.  Get them grounded in God’s truth.  Let the creative juices flow.  And maybe one of those folks can find a better way to sharpen the ax and accomplish God’s purposes in this world. 

Monday, June 6, 2016


Sowing Seeds (God’s Word)

The Word of God works.  Simple.  The sower has to get the seed out.  Sowing.  Planting.  The soil that receives the seed makes a difference.  Jesus uses four types of soil to make the point.  Hard packed soil lets the seed lay there.  The devil swoops in and takes it away.  Rocky soil lets the seed get started, but it doesn’t get rooted and fails.  Weedy soil lets the seed get in, but then crowds it out with all the other things.  Good soil receives the seed and lets it grow deep and become productive.  Jesus was in favor of good soil for the seed by the way.

As followers of Jesus we may fit into the seed sowing/soils growing scenario in different ways.  We may be the soils receiving the seed (Word of God) or we may be used of the Lord to sow the seed in others. 

Applying the Seed sowing/soils growing Scenario

Acknowledge God and His necessary part

God loves people.  God knows what He is doing.  God knows what is best.  God instructs and empowers us.  God provides the seed (Word of God).  God gives the growth. 

Recognize your responsibility and do it

God’s seed has been planted in us.  We have the responsibility to respond to what He offers and to what He has planted.  As we grow we come to the place where we can bear fruit.  That fruit is more seed for those around us.  

Recognizing our responsibility and doing it is like being on a tennis court.  God is serving a ball to us and when it comes on our side of the court we are to respond.  Our part is to take care of our side of the court.  God will take care of His.  

There is a problem when God’s people want to make things happen.  They may run around the net to the other side of the court and try to take care of things that God never intended for them.  

If you wanted someone you care about who doesn’t know Jesus to come to know Him what would you do?  You can plant the seed of God’s Word.  Tell God stories.  Go over the Gospel.  Talk to them about eternity.  But what if they drag their feet or are involved in things you don’t approve of….what then?  Go to the other side of the net…get in their face…demand change.   God gives the growth.  Hard, rocky and weedy soil doesn’t become good soil because we are in their face or are broken hearted.  Back to the other side.  Back to recognizing the responsibility God has given us and doing it.  Back to sowing the seed however and whenever God says. 

Allow God time to bring about His results His way

Time.  Never enough.  Too late.  Too soon.  Like Goldilocks searching for the right bed that’s just right we want God’s time to just how we like it.  But being God He wants to orchestrate things His way and in His time.  

Plant radishes in March and eat them in May.  The time is quick.  They grow in many places. 
Plant a red oak tree and in 10 years you have a 16-20’ tall tree.  Grow in the north, east and central US and in Canada.  Some have been placed at 500 years old.  Plant an acorn and a couple of years later growth happens.  

Sequoias…limited area of growth on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  Tallest 311’.  Like a 31 story building.  The oldest is around 3500 years.    The tiny seed of the Sequoia sets in motion a giant tree.  

God has something for everyone.  Let His seed grow.  Be good soil.  Be fruitful.  Plant seed.  Allow God to use it, grow it, place it where He decides.  Let Him determine its use, its productivity and its length of use.  

Allow God time to bring about His results His way

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