The Potter’s House “Just a lump of clay”

The Potters House Part 1 “Just a Lump of Clay”

(first 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

Have you ever been soaked, cut, kneaded, slammed, stretched, molded, put out to dry, then gone through the fire, covered with slime and into the fire again???

I am honored to be friends with potters Marty and Sheila McLendon. They offered the opportunity to come to their new pottery shed and ‘make’ something. My thoughts at this invitation were that I would go over one afternoon, pick up a piece of clay and shape it into a lovely bowl. Then, a few days later I would run by and pick up the finished product, my exquisite masterpiece, and proclaim, “Look what I did!”

Not so fast!!!  Marty, the wonderful teacher that he is, allowed me the privilege to work with the clay from start to finish. And work I did! The Lord told Jeremiah to go to the Potter’s house and listen. The Hebrew word there is Shama’ which means to hear with the intent to obey, discern, perceive, understand and then to publish, make it known. He had much to teach Jeremiah and much to teach me as well.

Before ever touching the clay, Marty had me draw and design this piece, the finished product! Oh! You mean I needed to know what the finished product would look like when I finished? You mean this piece of lumpy, gray clay held within it a design that only I knew? You mean I must know the end from the beginning, to have a plan for this piece of dirt? Yes, Ruthie, go to the Potter’s house, I want you to understand more fully not only who I am but how intimately we are connected!

As I was preparing to work with this clay I realized that indeed it was I who would choose the clay, process it, design and shape it. Everything about this piece was MY CHOICE. The destiny of this lump of clay was in my heart and mind before it was in my hand. Isn’t that just like our Father. We were in his heart and mind before we ever came to be. Before we were born, we already had a purpose and destiny! We were already loved, cared for, and the way of salvation was already opened to us before we were shaped in our mother’s womb. (Psm 139)  So my friend, You are no accident! You are one of a kind! You have His fingerprint in the core of your very being! You were made by him and for him, designed by his hand and shaped for His purposes, your destiny! You were his choice! And Oh! How he loves you.

First they appear, then they are gone!


Redemptive Gifts Part 2-Servant, Like the atmosphere, invisible but essential!

(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.)

First they appear, then they are gone!

Who was that masked man/woman doing the dishes, sweeping the floor, keeping the nursery, and setting up the communion table? They appear, then they are gone, and very few remember their name. But we all benefit from their ability to see what needs to be done, and then does it!

And so it is with the Servant Redemptive gift. They are usually in the background serving, busy, never saying no, but very essential in every sense of the word. They are the oil that is not seen but keeps everything running smoothly.

Esther. Joseph, the husband of Mary. Ananias who prayed for Paul. Each was quick to obey, step up to the plate when needed, and then disappeared from sight when the task was fulfilled. And most of the time they stood in a place to save others from death. You, redemptive gift servant, are available, quick to obey and most of the time in the background like the atmosphere, invisible yet essential!

These hard workers enjoy meeting the practical needs of others, especially leaders. Because they usually don’t feel worthy of honor and have great difficulty saying “No,” servants many times are abused, taken for granted, and go basically unrecognized or honored for the great worth they bring to the Body of Christ.

Being alert to the likes and dislikes of others, meeting practical needs and by putting ‘extra flourishes and finishing touches’ on their tasks, they bless others and create a safe, inviting atmosphere for worship or work. And talk about tenacious! Servants refuse to give up on ‘hard cases’ in the body of Christ.

Servants can be enablers, and are prone to yield to the ‘victim’ spirit themselves.  Many have prodigal children because for servants, boundaries are difficult to set. Intensely loyal they might be passive when personally offended, but can become tigers when someone hurts the one they love. Remembering birthdays, special occasions and the likes and dislikes of others are their specialties. And when playing games they are fun loving, have a good sense of humor and can be very competitive.

However, many times, the servant can move into a victim spirit and believe the lie that they are really not important and carry no authority. However, Jesus paid a high price for all of us, including servants! When the servant embraces the truth of who they are-a child of the most high- and who their father is-the King of Kings- they are unstoppable. Remember the little orphan girl, Hadassah? She was obedient to her Uncle Mordecai, won a beauty contest, then saved a nation! And Ananias? Even though there was a possibility that he might be walking into a trap, he still prayed for Saul, the persecutor, and released Paul, the worldwide evangelist!

Yes! You, Redemptive Gift Servant, are essential, full of life and are of great worth in the Body of Christ!

Phinehas! Rock Star in the Wilderness

Phinehas! Not one of the more ‘well known’ rock stars like David, Elijah or Noah, but a rock star none the less. And what a testimony to the faithfulness of our God. God’s promise to Phinehas was dramatic, awesome and generational!

Remember the story in the wilderness when the people began to sin with the neighboring Moabites? They were told NOT to fraternize with the locals or else they would suffer the consequences. The Message Bible tells it like this: “It started when the Moabite women invited the Israeli men to their sex-and-religion worship. They ate together and then worshiped their gods. Israel ended up joining in the worship of the Baal of Peor.” (Numbers 25:1-8)

And God saw their disobedience.

And God sent a plague.

The plague was moving swiftly throughout the camp and folks were dying by the thousands, 24,000 to be exact. As the people were weeping and crying to the Lord, out of the shadows comes Phinehas, the hero of the day. This quiet priest comes tearing out of the tabernacle with javelin in hand! Running swiftly though the camp he comes to the tent of Zimri and drives a spear through the heart of both Zimri and Cozbi daughter a Midianite tribal chief.

And the plague stopped.

And the King of Creation took notice.

“Because Phinehas was zealous (a burning passionate jealousy on behalf of someone deeply loved) for my honor, tell him that I am making a Covenant-of-Peace with him. He and his descendants are joined in a covenant of eternal priesthood.” (Numbers 25:11-13)

This act of passion, zeal and honor moved Phinehas from a ‘behind the scenes’ priest to a ‘You can always count on me’ kind of guy.  Can we say ‘Rock Star!’

  • When Moses sent the army to war who carried the holy articles and the signal trumpets in his hand?
  • When the leaders of Israel had to figure out what was going on across the river with the tribes of Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh, who went as mediator to decide to embrace them or kill them?
  • When Israel had major issues with the tribe of Benjamin who made the decision to go to war?
  • And who was trusted to be over all of the gatekeepers, because the Lord was with him?

You guessed it! Phinehas. Everyone recognized the wisdom and the ‘Hot Line’ Phinehas had with the Lord.  ‘Rock Star!’

We see the passion, character and wisdom Phinehas must have walked in. And it was this passion that released immense blessings to his generations. In looking down his family line we find names such as Zadok, David’s 24/7 worship priest; Azariah, Solomon’s priest in the first Temple; Ezra, exiled priest assigned to rebuild Jerusalem; Eleazar, who was trusted to weigh the silver and gold in the temple. In Arthur Burk’s book Generational Blessings, he states that today, 4000 years later, you can find descendents of Phinehas ministering before the Lord in the nation of Yemen. Now that is what I call generational blessings!

Father, Let our hearts so burn with passion, honor and love for you that our children, grandchildren and following generations run in pursuit of Your holiness, Your fire and Your extravagant mercy and grace! You are the covenant keeping God who shows mercy to a thousand generations!

Right or Wrong! Black or White!

“Well, that’s just the way I am!” “It’s either black or white, right or wrong! End of discussion!”

Have you ever tried to discuss an issue with someone who has made these statements? If so you are probably talking to someone who has the “Redemptive gift” of Prophet/Perceiver!

In this series we will take a quick look at the characteristics of each individual Redemptive gift, beginning with Prophet/perceiver.

(Please see ‘Redemptive Gift’ in the menu at the top of page for an explanation of “Redemptive Gifts” teaching.)

 Prophet/Perceiver Redemptive gift Part 1

Perceive is to discern, recognize, become aware of, distinguish, grasp, understand, comprehend, apprehend, discern, detect, observe; regard, view, consider, judge, adjudge.

These adjectives describe the gift of Prophet/Perceiver.

(Remember this is not to be confused with ‘prophet’ in Ephesians 5-Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers. This is about the characteristics of a personality type from Romans 12-prophet/perceiver.)

FOUNDATIONAL: To the degree that the prophet/perceiver embraces relationship, to that degree will be the basis of his ministry. This is first with God, then his peers.

The Prophet/Perceiver is:

  1. A Great communicator. Verbally expressive and process facts quickly. Shifts gears without warning! Change lanes without signaling!
  2. A Visionary. Always wants to know “Why?”
  3. Passionate for Excellence. Never satisfied by a job half done.
  4. Quick to recognize truth and speak it
  5. A model of integrity
  6. Quick to take initiative. Quick to war!
  7. Compulsive and generous giver.
  8. Terrible at maintaining. Will improve it, enlarge it, change it, or quit. They like to fix things, frame it then move on to something new.

He or She:

  1.  Cannot tolerate bondage. Either for themselves or others.
  2. Will hold more tightly to truth than to relationships. They must study the principles of relationship and learn to listen, then they can become bridge builders.
  3. Has a simple world view- it’s either right or wrong, in or out, black or white.
  4.  Accesses situations quickly
  5. Adjudicates constantly: They do not seem to be able to ‘cut off’ their tendency to judge everything.
  6. Knows no fear/ not easily intimidated
  7. Fiercely competitive
  8. Must make sense out of everything.
  9. Alert to dishonesty in others
  10. Is willing to suffer for truth

Unredeemed, Prophets/perceivers can be unforgiving; lack tactfulness in rebuke; expose without restoring; have a tendency to dwell on the negative; have a tendency to cut people off who fail.

Prophets/perceivers are able to see long in the Word of God where discover new principles, bring them out to the body of Christ and show others how to apply them in their lives. However, this is why maintenance is so hard for the prophet, they are constantly looking for the new. They need a new problem to solve, new principle to explore or a blank piece of paper.

Faith, however comes easiest for the prophet/perceiver because they see principles of truth and know that they work every time. They understand the non-optional principle of TRUTH and this gives them the boldness to stand for it. “TRUTH WORKS EVERYTIME!”

Healing the Land: Forgiveness vs Justice

We serve a God of Justice and Righteousness. In fact these two pillars are the foundation of His throne. When there was famine in the land, David sought the Lord and the Lord spoke that the Gibeonites had been denied justice. (Remember the covenant that Joshua made with the Gibeonites? Saul forgot, but God did not!). David called the Gibeonites and ask what would it take for them to bless the land? My what power they had in their hand! Could they have released forgiveness and then blessed the Land without the blood shed? I don’t know, perhaps. But they chose justice and 7 of Saul’s sons were hanged and the famine was broken. (II Sam. 21:2-9). The injustice of their unjust blood shed by Saul was answered with blood shed. (Remember, innocent blood shed defiles the land.)

But our God is also a God of mercy, grace and forgiveness.  When we are denied justice in our personal lives, we feel betrayed, not only by the people who have withheld the justice, but sometimes by God Himself. In my pain I have cried out, “You, Lord, could have stopped this! Why did you allow this to happen to ME? You, above all know what is right and just!” Ever done that? Question the goodness of God in your life when things go wrong? And what does this have to do with bringing healing to our land?

In times such as this we have a choice. The Lord will surely bring justice. But as we wait for His Hand to move, often times he allows us to walk through injustice for his greater purpose: reconciliation through forgiveness; building His character in you!

Recently BJ and I watched the movie, “Invictus.” I was overwhelmed at the injustice that was done to the black people of South Africa. Nelson Mandela had been imprisoned for 24 years for protesting the Apartheid government of South Africa. Seeing and knowing the history of injustice in South Africa makes the magnitude of President Mandela’s forgiveness so much greater.  As he released grace through forgiveness, not only to his own captors, but also to the entire white race of that nation, he began a movement of national reconciliation that was seen around the world. Instead of civil war, through this one man’s forgiveness of injustice, a nation was preserved from further blood shed. (Now, that is what I call standing in the gap for one nation!) One of the quotes from this movie is: “Forgiveness liberates the soul. It removes fear, and that is why it is such a powerful weapon!” I’m reminded once again that our weapons of warfare are not carnal, but are mighty to the pulling down of strongholds, strongholds of hatred, violence and, yes, injustice!

I have seen this same spirit in one of my heroes, Dr. John Perkins. Although suffering at the hands of white racist governmental officials of the ’60’s, he has chosen to walk in forgiveness, releasing grace and mercy where ever he goes. Rather than tear down through hate, he has chosen to build up communities with positive works of righteousness. Several years ago I was privileged to speak with him in a causal atmosphere and he was telling me about his project in South Jackson. He called it “The Zechariah Eight Community” where old men sit and tell tales and children play in the streets without fear. (Zechariah 8:4-6). And his invitation to me was, “Come and live with us there!” Although moving to Jackson was not in our plans, my heart wanted to say, “Yes! I’d like that very much!”

Healing the land

“Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.” Prov. 25:28  (The NIV Bible)

As intercessors, our Magnificent God graciously allows us to walk through the same strongholds as our community. As these strongholds are torn down in our personal lives, we can, in turn, walk in the authority needed to pull those same strongholds down in our city! He gives us opportunities to walk through personal crisis or injustice for His purposes. Intercession is not about what we do, but it is about who we are and how we live. As we are called to stand in the gap for our city or state, (Ezekiel 22) we will not have authority over the strongholds that we see manifested there unless we have been personally tested and have walked in victory through some of the same difficult situations. God has a plan to use us on a much grander scale than we can ever imagine! So, come on, intercessors! Walk in freedom! Walk in victory! Walk in forgiveness! Our cities and our nation need you now!

James 1:2-5, 12 (the Message Bible) 

“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. 3You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. 4So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. 5If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. 6Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought…. Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.” 

II Corinthians 1:4 (the Message Bible)

“He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else (Perhaps a city or nation) who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” 

Our Relentless Father

We create nurseries for our babies. We work hard to have everything just right for them. The right color! The right furniture! The right everything! All of this for a tiny, helpless bundle of pure joy and happiness. After they are born we sit and look at them and we dream! What will they accomplish? Who will they be?

Father, all of creation was just a backdrop, a framework for your crowning glory, man! Our wonderful Father lovingly set everything in place just for us. He exquisitely calibrated the atmosphere to sustain our life. He breathed out the sun, moon & stars to give us light, constantly declaring his Glory so that we might realize just how big he is! Then He created the land and trees for shade, comfort, color, enjoyment, food, the herbs for healing. Next came the birds and fish created for beauty for our eyes and songs to fill our hearts with joy and pleasure! He thought of everything!! By just a word from his mouth he created the animals to keep all of creation in order; to give us contentment, help and sometimes just plain fun!

When everything was ready He shaped, formed and created Adam! Father, did you smile with pleasure as you gazed into his face? Did you just sit and marvel at the work of your hands, this man? Did you dream of all he could be and do? Did you laugh as you thought of him running in the cool grass? Did you cry when you knew he would fall down, literally ‘fall’?

Then came the saddest words ever uttered throughout all eternity: “Adam, where are you?” “My Son, can you hear my heart breaking for you, crying out for you, longing for you?”

“ADAM! Where are you?”

And Adam hid from God.

Relentless in his pursuit of us, he continues to call, “Where are you?”

And we hide.

We hide in our busyness. We hide in pursuit of our own dreams. We hide behind our failures and even our successes. We hide.

But our relentless Father never stops calling out, ‘Where are you?”

In his mercy and grace he gently uncovers our hiding place to find us. By His own blood he pays our enemy the full price to buy us back from our captivity. Then He cleans us up, dresses us in beautiful robes of His righteousness and seats us right up next himself, so that once again we can enjoy the world he created just for us! Once again we can walk in the cool of the day and enjoy close relationship with him, our relentless Father who searches for us, finds us and gives us his own eternal life!

Why? Because he loves us THAT MUCH!


Abba or Judge?

Abba, Dad or Supreme Court Judge?

Son/Daughter or Orphan?

Last week we were in Greenville, SC, visiting our daughter, JoAnna, son in love, Rich, and our amazing grandchildren. What a joy! Rich is pastor of The City Church, and one of the best preachers I’ve heard. (Go to their website sometime and listen, I think you will agree.) He made a statement that has ‘stuck’ in my heart and has been marinating in my spirit all week.

“Jesus called his father by the name of ‘Abba’ every time he addressed him or spoke about him. All except one time!” I immediately went to my Strong’s on my phone and looked it up! And he was right! Yea Rich!

For example, rather than “Thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven,” it could read: “Dad, We ask for your desires to be carried out in our lives and cities, so that this place looks like that place! Will you help us do that?”

Interesting change. Dad. Intimate relationship, loving relationship, close relationship. Jesus and his dad had never been apart. They could finish each other’s sentences. They loved each other so much that one only had to indicate a request and the other fulfilled it.

In our vernacular Jesus could have said, “I only do what I see my dad do. I only say what I hear my dad say. I get up early every morning to get a chance to be with my dad alone. I love him so much that I try to get away from others to get a quick moment with him, just the two of us. He never leaves me. He is always close at hand. In fact, His face shines on me when I lie down at night and when I get up in the morning he is there. In fact, I’m a chip off the old block! I am so much like him that when you’ve seen me, you’ve actually seen him too! We are really tight, my dad and me.

“And my Dad loves a good party. I went to a wedding once, and the father of the bride had run out of wine. So my dad said, “Son, they need a little help. Why don’t you supply all the wine they need. Now remember, Son, I’m pretty particular about things, so make sure it is the best wine, better than their money can by! And Son, don’t be skimpy, be a little extravagant! I figure about 180 gallons should do it!” So I did it. I took some water jars and changed the water into the best wine! The folks at the party we so amazed and kept asking questions about the wine. Dad and I just smiled and I saw the tinkle in His eye. That sort of thing really makes us both happy. We take great pleasure in supplying for folks and watching them enjoy the results. That’s my Dad! Always loving and doing extravagant things just to bring joy into the earth!”

But there came a day when Jesus did not call him “Dad.”

On the cross, at a time when he needed the close, loving relationship of a father the most, he looked up to find that familiar face hidden from him. The encouraging smile which said ‘You are my son! You are doing great! Keep moving forward! You can do this!’ was nowhere to be found. At a time when he needed the blessing of Aaron the most; the blessing which states, ‘and make His face shine upon you’ was gone and the curse of darkness was all around! Instead of the kind, understanding eyes he sought, he stared into the face of the Chief Magistrate, the Judge of the Supreme Court of the Universe, as the court was being seated and called into session. Now he found himself appearing in court as an orphan, forsaken, guilty of sin, cursed by the darkness. The one he had known so intimately and loved so dearly, the one with whom he had never been separated was now his judge. And the verdict rang out through eternity: GUILTY AS CHARGED! One last plea was cried out by this magnificent Savior and Redeemer. Addressed not to His dad, but to El Elyon, the Supreme Judge of the Universe: “My God, My God, Why have YOU forsaken me!!!!”

You see, at this time, the great Holy Son of God had become an orphan, guilty of my sin. Unable to stand under the blessing of Aaron, he stooped under the curse of darkness in my place, so that I, an orphan, stooping under the weight of darkness, could be lifted up as a daughter of the King. I could walk upright in the light of His countenance! No longer dressed in my dirty, filthy rags with all of my rotten failures around me, I could now become pure, holy, without spot or blemish, dressed in the robes of his righteousness! His beauty for my ashes, His oil of joy for my sadness and mourning, and His glorious robe of praise and holiness for my spirit of despair and heaviness.

He chose to do this for two reasons: Number one: Above all, it pleased his Dad. And number two: He loved me THAT MUCH!

My! What a Savior! What a Redeemer! What a magnificent loving, kind, extravagant, glorious God we serve! How can we help but praise, love, and worship him!