Glazing: Making beautiful things out of dust!

(Fifth in a six part series) 

“The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying: ‘Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear My words.” Jeremiah 18:1-2

There is much activity in the potters shed. Marty is glazing all of the bisque-fired pieces today. Coming into the shed I see about eight or nine 5-gallon buckets filled with gray or tan slurry. I’m really thinking it was named correctly: SLURRY. Thick, gunky looking stuff. And not at all the beautiful colors I expected to see! Explaining that the true color of the glaze comes out in the fire, I’m once again reminded of our loving heavenly Father who by his kindness changes our gunky, gray stuff into beautiful, breath taking color-In the fire!

But first to the glazing. I dip the bottom of my piece in hot wax so that the bottom will not hold the glaze, keeping this part of my vessel from adhering to the kiln shelf. Next I am told by Marty that I must keep stirring the slurry so that it will stay mixed as I dip my piece into the thick glaze. Marty shows me several samples of color and I choose a teal green with yellow undertones. I write this exact slurry name down on my original design sheet so that I can remember exactly which of the gray slurries I used. Making sure that all the surfaces are covered, I then set my piece on the shelf to dry! More shelf time!

My piece has been slammed, shaped, bone dried, fired once and now on the shelf again. Sure, I could just take my lovely, tan bisque-fired dish home. I don’t have to dip it into the thick, gunky slurry. I could quit right now. Who wants to get their hands in that stuff! But, as lovely as this piece is at this stage, it would serve very little purpose. You see, clay is a porous substance. This means that if liquid is placed in my unglazed piece, it would leak out of the open pores, making it good only for decoration purposes. Not really fit for any useful thing. It must go down into the gunk, let it dry, and wait for the fire.

You know, I clean up good on Sunday mornings for church. But how does that look on Monday morning, when all the gunk of the world comes creeping in? How does that look when my desk is piled high with unfinished work, dirty dishes in the sink, laundry to do and someone needs me to run an errand for them? What about the times I’ve volunteered one too many times to take a meal, watch someone’s children, and am just too tired to be nice today, especially to my family? Am I still ‘Looking good?” Or was my Sunday Morning smile merely a bisque-fired decoration? Can this vessel hold His living water for that thirsty person who needs my help, or the older neighbor who needs my smile and prayer? Yep! It’s time for glazing and a little more shelf time.

Lord,  help me to be patient as you continue to prepare me to be your vessel. Help me to know that each process is important in shaping me into your image. Help me to be willing to ‘dunk down’ into the gunky mess of this world, be willing to let this stuff dry all over me, and be willing sit on the shelf just a little longer. I want to be able to hold your living water to give to a dry and thirsty world. And help me to remember that you make beautiful things out of dust!

Did you say FIRE???!!!

(Fourth in a six part series) 

“The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying: ‘Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear My words.” Jeremiah 18:1-2

This lump of clay has been slammed, kneaded, molded, shaped and is now bone dry. Time for the first fire. As I observed the tenderness with which Marty held my delicate piece, I realized just how fragile it is at this stage. I even held my breath as he gently placed it, along with several other pieces, into the kiln. This lump of clay was becoming my chosen vessel and at this time, more than ever it was vulnerable to being broken. I had conceived it, chosen it, fashioned it, and now I wanted to guard and protect it.

I pondered how kind, gentile and understanding our heavenly Father is when we are in a state of vulnerability, so easily broken. When we are weak, he carries us ever so tenderly and takes great care that we are not broken or chipped. My how I have underestimated His care, love and tenderness.

As Marty slowly, carefully loaded the kiln, I was shocked at how much he could get into that small round oven. He explained that pieces must touch during this bisque firing. As the temperature is slowly raised, the pieces help distribute the heat evenly throughout the kiln. Were it to go up too fast the pieces would crack or explode. The attentive potter listens as the temperature increases. If he hears sounds, he can quickly lower the temperature a little to keep other pieces from cracking.

Some scriptures came to me as I contemplated this ‘going through the fire together.’ “Bear ye one another’s burden” or “We are all part of the body of Christ, rightly fit together.”

Without the touching, one piece might get too hot too quickly, or another not hot enough and both would loose the benefits of the firing. The integrity of each piece affects all the others in the fire. Should one piece have an air bubble or a hard place, the whole batch of pottery in the kiln could be ruined. “A root of bitterness defiles many!” Lord, help us to keep our hearts pure, walk in forgiveness and keep our eyes on you. Not only for our own peace, but also to benefit others around us.

And when we are in the fire, we can rest assured that our Master Potter is watching and listening closely, knowing exactly how high to raise the heat, how long we need to stay in the fire and how slowly we need to come out. Even when we are in the hot, dark kiln of the Holy Spirit, remember we are becoming vessels, fit for His purposes.

Yes, Jeremiah, Go to the Potters House. There you will discover the tenderness, wisdom, and love of the Master Potter Himself. Ever present. “I will never leave you nor forsake you. I have called you by my name. When you go through the fire, you will not be burned.”

Next: The glazing! Beauty for Ashes!

Shelf Time til I’m Bone Dry!

 (third in a six part series) 

“The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying: ‘Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear My words.” Jeremiah 18:1-2

My clay is ready to be formed into a slab. The Fun time has come! This lump is changing into a real vessel. I begin to roll it out into a sheet. Mmmm, Not as easy as I thought. It takes lots of elbow grease. In fact it feels a lot like work! As I push and pull the rolling pin I must be careful to keep the clay a consistent thickness. Finally I have a large, flat piece of grey clay.

It’s cutting time! As I carefully cut out the shape and size that I desire from this soft pliable clay and press a design into it’s surface, I’m reminded of the skill of the Master Potter as he uses his sharp surgical instrument to gently cut away a little piece of fear, an odd protrusion of anxiety, and then ‘press’ His design of joy, peace, patience into my life when I’m pliable.  I gently place the clay into the bowl for support so that it will hold it’s curved shape until it is dry and hardened. It’s looking good!

Ready for the fire? Not so fast. This lovely bowl must sit on the shelf for a while. Not just a couple of hours but for days, weeks or sometime months! It must become leather hard and then bone dry! And only a Master Potter can tell when it is ready to fire.

Has the Lord ever ask you to just sit on the shelf and wait? Has He called you to come away from it all and just wait? To become so thirsty for him until you are bone dry? It’s not easy. I get restless, bored, or disappointed. I feel like that lump of clay we started with. Sure, I had high hopes at first, even made it through the slamming, and the tugging and the cutting and the shaping, knowing that great things were just around the corner. But then I get put on the shelf to dry out! “So God, where is that future you promised in Jeremiah 29:11?” I wait and I complain and I whine.

And the Master Potter simply waits.

This waiting step is very strategic. The integrity of the piece is at stake. If fired before it is ready, the moisture would cause the vessel to crack and then it would go on the ‘Oops’ pile, no use for anythng.

Aren’t you glad our Father, the Master Potter, doesn’t have an ‘Oops’ pile. I’ve heard the saying, ‘God don’t make no junk!” and he doesn’t make mistakes either. Marty, my Master potter friend, watches the color change from dark to light and he can tell when this piece is bone dry, ready for the kiln. Our Master potter is patiently watching us, knowing that this shelf time is developing character deep within us if we will just rest, dry out and wait with him.

Thank you Father for the quiet shelf times with you. Times when we just sit quietly and meditate on your goodness, your character and your love. Help us, Lord, to understand that these are not to be times of frustration, but times of peace, joy and contentment. And Lord, in these times, help us to raise our eyes upward and catch a glimpse of your lovely face, see the twinkle in your eye and the smile on your face us as we simply wait on this shelf. And help us to remember that even though we may be on the shelf, we have not left the potters shed and you are there. From this perspective we have the opportunity to watch you as you work on other pieces of clay. We can observe as you toil over larger pieces and smaller pieces, take note as you smile at the accomplishment of your hands and we join you as you celebrate the wonder of your handiwork. In your presence in the potter’s shed, there is fullness of joy! Shelf time is not so bad after all.

The Slamming!

(second in a six part series) 

“The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying: ‘Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear My words.” Jeremiah 18:1-2

After the design was conceived, I was ready to begin. As I began to knead this fresh lump of clay, it felt tough, there were some ‘hard’ spots and it would not really ‘give’ to my hands. This was hard work! Gradually, listening to Marty, the clay became pliable and workable. “But Lord, I don’t really want to change.” we whine as he begins to stretch and work with our hearts. “Why are your stretching me like this? Look, Lord, I realize I’m not exactly what you desire me to be, but come on, lumps are pretty nice sometimes!” Our loving Master potter seems not to hear our whining and continues to work, relentless in his pursuit of shaping us into his very own image!

Then the slamming came. Pow! Slap! Bam! Loud noises were coming from the impact of slamming this piece of clay has hard as I could on the table. And Marty stood quietly by and said, ‘Harder.” I began to remember the times in my life when I could hear the sound of my own heart as it was being slammed. Pow! You didn’t get the job. Wham! The death of parents! Bam! The tight squeeze of financial pressure! The dream that didn’t come true! “Lord? what is this about?” “Are you there?” “Where are you when I need to hear that comforting voice or feel your warm peace?” And His quiet, strong voice simply says, “Harder.” We’ve all been there. But the process continues.

Marty explained how this process is essential. This causes the fibers of the clay to elongate, stretch and homogenize. Proper kneading, wedging (a cutting process. Ouch!) and slamming cause the clay to become the right consistency and removes air bubbles and the hard places. You see if these air bubbles are not removed from the clay prior to the firing, the piece would explode in the fire. Totally lost forever. A heap of ashes. And the hard places would cause cracks or defects in the finished product. “Oh My! Lord, do I have those hard places? Those air bubbles?”

Does our Father enjoy or take pleasure in watching us being slammed or wedged or kneaded? No. But he allows it because he sees the fire ahead! He knows the high temperatures we will be facing and wants to see us make it through. When this slamming process is over this clay has become my clay, and I desire beauty instead of ashes. During this process my DNA is thoroughly kneaded into every fiber of it’s being. My heart is now in this clay.

Did you know that in Hebrew the word ‘beauty’ and ‘ashes’ are the exact same four Hebrew letters? They are just arranged differently. One spelling is ‘ashes,’ which is exactly what this clay would be if it were fired without the slamming. Ah, but when the letters are rearranged, like the fibers and particles of this clay, they spell ‘beauty.’ Our loving Creator, our Master potter has taken the time and the spent great effort to knead, slam and  rearrange our lives so that His DNA is totally integrated within our being. As we become ready for the fire, we will become beautiful instead of an ash heap! He has plans for us! Good plans! Plans to give us a hope and a future.

The Truth, The Whole Truth, Nothing but the Truth!

Redemptive Gifts Part 3-Teacher   (In this series we will take a quick look at the characteristics of each individual redemptive gift. Please see ‘Redemptive Gift’ in the menu at the top of the page for an explanation of “Redemptive Gifts” teaching.)

VALIDATE! VALIDATE! VALIDATE!

And you, Redemptive Gift teacher, must validate truth! Truth is your playing field and you carry the plumb line of truth within your redeemed spirit! Other words that describe RG teachers are wisdom, slow to speak, safe to be around, loyalty and healing.

Teachers love research! They love to look deeper than others to get the tiniest details so that each fact is validated, and it is truth!

Teachers can put others to shame with their documentation and validation of truth. They want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth!

However, RG teachers can become proud or puffed up over their knowledge of the truth and the word. It can even become hard for them to receive from others because they feel others have not validated this truth enough. And if others oppose what they are convinced is the truth, they are like the proverbial snapping turtle-they won’t turn loose until it thunders! (Or so I was told when I was young)

Because RG teachers are slow to speak or judge until they have all the facts, the wounded feel safe with them and healing flows from them like the balm of Gilead.

Luke, a redemptive gift teacher, wanted to make sure that he pinpointed the exact time of Jesus birth. Thank you, Dr. Luke, for your accuracy. Twice he made reference to who was in government, how long they had been in authority, and five references to where Joseph went and why he went there.

Another Biblical character who exhibited this profound gift was Mary, the mother of Jesus. As a deep thinker she pondered all of the events and activities in her heart!

RG teachers like the old, comfortable truths they have researched and are slow to move on issues or to embrace new revelations and even new moves of God. However, when they have become convinced this new thing is truth, they will move with sure feet. This balances the impulsiveness of the RG prophet and the RG exhorter in the body of Christ.

RG teachers have a deep family loyalty and usually a good sense of humor. When on a council it is the teacher who will listen and after everyone has spoken, they will look at all sides, ponder it and then bring forth words of wisdom. They partner easily with others, but can become puffed up over their knowledge and abilities. Because they rely so much on factual evidence, many teachers find it hard to accept things by faith.

So we see that truth is their plumb line, which is right and good, but it is very important for the RG teacher to look beyond the word and truth in black and white, and intimately know the God of the Word and the God of all truth! The living breathing Spirit of truth. RG teachers must learn to worship the living God in Spirit and as well as in truth!

I love RG teachers! People with the RG mercy gift, like me, can really get ‘out there’ with some ideas and thoughts and it is the wonderful RG teacher gift that helps keep us doctrinally sound in the reality of truth. Thanks teachers, we need you in the body of Christ!

And you, Redemptive Gift teacher, must validate truth! Truth is your playing field and you carry the plumb line of truth within your redeemed spirit! Other words that describe RG teachers are wisdom, slow to speak, safe to be around, loyalty and healing.

Teachers love research! They love to look deeper than others to get the tiniest details so that each fact is validated, and it is truth!

Teachers can put others to shame with their documentation and validation of truth. They want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth!

However, RG teachers can become proud or puffed up over their knowledge of the truth and the word. It can even become hard for them to receive from others because they feel others have not validated this truth enough. And if others oppose what they are convinced is the truth, they are like the proverbial snapping turtle-they won’t turn loose until it thunders! (Or so I was told when I was young)

Because RG teachers are slow to speak or judge until they have all the facts, the wounded feel safe with them and healing flows from them like the balm of Gilead.

Luke, a redemptive gift teacher, wanted to make sure that he pinpointed the exact time of Jesus birth. Thank you, Dr. Luke, for your accuracy. Twice he made reference to who was in government, how long they had been in authority, and five references to where Joseph went and why he went there.

Another Biblical character who exhibited this profound gift was Mary, the mother of Jesus. As a deep thinker she pondered all of the events and activities in her heart!

RG teachers like the old, comfortable truths they have researched and are slow to move on issues or to embrace new revelations and even new moves of God. However, when they have become convinced this new thing is truth, they will move with sure feet. This balances the impulsiveness of the RG prophet and the RG exhorter in the body of Christ.

RG teachers have a deep family loyalty and usually a good sense of humor. When on a council it is the teacher who will listen and after everyone has spoken, they will look at all sides, ponder it and then bring forth words of wisdom. They partner easily with others, but can become puffed up over their knowledge and abilities. Because they rely so much on factual evidence, many teachers find it hard to accept things by faith.

So we see that truth is their plumb line, which is right and good, but it is very important for the RG teacher to look beyond the word and truth in black and white, and intimately know the God of the Word and the God of all truth! The living breathing Spirit of truth. RG teachers must learn to worship the living God in Spirit and as well as in truth!

I love RG teachers! People with the RG mercy gift, like me, can really get ‘out there’ with some ideas and thoughts and it is the wonderful RG teacher gift that helps keep us doctrinally sound in the reality of truth. Thanks teachers, we need you in the body of Christ!