Oak Candle Stick & Cherry Cutting Board

I had a lot to say yesterday in response to the mass shooting in Las Vegas – What’s More and Parenting in a World of EvilI’m likely not done reflecting upon that events and the multitude of acts of evil in our country and our world in the recent past. But, I needed to get away from it all last night and decompress…so, I went to the wood shop!

I worked on two different pieces last night – a candle stick and a cutting board.

Several months ago I cut an oak log into several blanks and then stored them away.  I came across one of them a couple days ago and I thought it would be fun to do something different with it. It turned out to be this candlestick holder. The wood was a little punky, but it was a fun project to get my mind off of things. And, my wife liked it enough to add it to the mantle…

This cutting board is turned from Cherry. I actually purchased this wood for a communion set, which I finished over the weekend. I had this piece of Cherry left over from the project. I really liked the grain pattern that was showing and I did not want to cut deep into the wood and risk removing this pattern. Rather than turning it into a large plate/small bowl, I turned it into a cutting board to retain the pattern.

Parenting in a World of Evil

I’m processing.

I woke up like many of you yesterday to the news of the horrendous attack upon vulnerable concert-goers at the Route 91 Music Festival in Las Vegas. My wife and I sat down with our coffee and listened to the reporting.

I began working on the commentary for my Weekly Message post, where I post my message from the previous Sunday. While I was preparing the commentary for the post, I found myself running off on a tangent of reflection upon the recent mass shooting.

I wrote these words:

I woke up yesterday morning to the news of the horrendous attack in Las Vegas. I felt many things as I am sure all of you did. I’m tired of waking up to the news. I am absolutely exhausted of waking up to the breaking news – whether it be a mass casualty shooting; terrorism – foreign or domestic; rallies, marches, and protests utilizing violence or aggression. I, for one, am done! I’m burned out on the hatred on display in America and throughout our world! I’m just plain tired of it all; and, you should be, too! And, if you are not tired of it, then wake upbecause you are already asleep! 

The reports of the news out of Las Vegas were disturbing, but I did not realize the extent to which I had grown tired of tragedy, hate, and blatant displays of evil in our nation and in our global community.

I may have been a little more reactionary than responsive with those words, but I do believe they articulate the depth of my frustration and my pain.

My frustration is similar to that as a child learning to tie his shoe – the child knows the shoe is capable of being tied and that she is capable of tying it, only she does not know how a shoe is tied. She works with determination, but grows frustrated as she struggle against her lack of coordination. That’s how I feel about the world right now – we are a child that lacks coordination. And, I’m growing frustrated watching us fail to meet our potential. 

There is pain within me, too. I referred to this in my post this morning. I feel we are a what’s more society. We are a what’s more people. Our searching, possessing, and consuming of more comes with a cost. And, often, the cost is imposed upon others. For one to have more, another must have less. In the most extreme cases, say the mass shooting in Las Vegas, this man’s attempt to acquire more (whatever the hell more looked like to him) required everything to be taken from those who were killed, injured, and attending the festival. We do harm to one another. We are harming one another. And, it is incredibly painful to watch.

My wife asked me, “Ross, do you think the world is coming to and end?” She asks me this question whenever something devastating is reported on the news…I’ve gotten the question a lot over the last year.

I told her, “No!”

My explanation is simple: The nature of humanity has not altered since the beginning of time. Human beings feel, think, and act just as our earliest ancestors. While humanity has become more logical, rational, and enlightened, the nature of the human is still susceptible and influenced by evil. There is an inherent flaw, but it is there by design…

The flaw is a necessary consequence of the greater ability to love.

The ability to love is quite possibly the most baffling thing. Some might object, claiming love is nothing other than an animalistic instinct towards self-preservation. Love may serve that objective, but consider what else the capacity for love offers to humanity.

I believe love enables humanity to know the existence of a supreme being, who I believe to be the One, True God. Discerning the presence of God in the life of God’s creation would rely upon the capacity for God to self-express. God can only be known by way of revelation! And, primarily, the revelation of God, which is seen and felt, is categorically expressed as love. God’s self-expression to humanity is God’s love, which enables humanity to experience the presence and activity of the Creator within the creation.

If humanity inherently possesses the ability to know love, then they by design must also be susceptible to experience the absence of love.

And, if love is an expression of the divine, then the absence of love would disrupt the one’s encounter and, therefore, their experiential knowledge of the divine.

Oppositional forces play a necessary role in this cosmic drama of ours…

Right?

If you have the ability to love; than, what is the absence of love?

Likewise, if the God can be experienced, than what is it when God is rejected?

We live in a world of possibility. It is possible to know the divine through the revelation of God’s love. Equally so, it is possible to know the absence of God, where we have chosen to reject God’s revelation of love.

I do not believe the world is ending. I do not believe I will experience an apocalyptic event in my lifetime. Nor will my sons experience an apocalyptic event in their lifetime. Rather, like our fathers before us, my sons and I will both continue to experience the world’s susceptibility for evil. Trusting the world’s susceptibility for evil is a reminder that we exist in a reality where love is felt as an expression of the presence and activity of God.

An important distinction must be made, especially if one intends to rear children within our world – The world is not evil; rather, evil is in the world.

My sons will continue to grow and live in this world. The fear I hear expressed by many people is what will this world be like for our children? or, is it fair or good to bring a child into this world? In faith, I profess it is good to bring children into our twisted and broken world. I hold this position, because I have encountered God and God’s unique love for us in this world. I have discovered the life and resurrection of God’s son, Jesus Christ, which has done more to reveal the authoritative power of God’s love for me and every other vessel blessed to receive the breath of God.

I have no way of knowing what the world will be like for my sons. I assume it will be like the world I have encountered and the world encountered by my fathers before me – a world where God is present and active; where love is real; and, therefore, a world susceptible to evil.

God has entrusted my sons to my wife and me. And, thanks be to God, my sons have also been entrusted to an incredible extended family and an amazing community of faith. My sons will inherit this world, but not before we have the opportunity to introduce them to the present and active God, who’s love can be felt and expressed.

I may not be able to change the world my sons will ultimately inherit, but I can influence the way they encounter the world. I can shape their perception. I can support them in their resistance of all things evil. I can encourage them to choose love and to live into the holy. Above all, I can show them how to see, hear, and feel the presence and activity of a loving God.

Parenting in a world of evil has its challenges, but it is none the less a privilege. We stride cautiously and with intention as we parent in a world of evil. But, it is only that – a world of evil. Ours is not an evil world; only, it is world susceptible to evil. Our world is susceptible to evil because it is a world where God is present, active, and available to us. Love is proof. But, for God to be present, active, and available, the opposite will be found, too. Where God is rejected, evil will reside.

The end of the world is not coming any time soon, but the time we have with our children is limited. The time we have is important. Our use of this time is critical. While we cannot change the world they will inherit, we can influence their perception of it. We can direct them in their approach of this world; and, we can teach them to encounter the present and active God, who is known by the power of love. Better still, we can demonstrate to our children the greater power of God’s love through our love of them and our love of others.

What’s More, Part One (and a reflection upon Las Vegas)

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I woke up yesterday morning to the news of the horrendous attack in Las Vegas. I felt many things as I am sure all of you did. I’m tired of waking up to the news. I am absolutely exhausted of waking up to the breaking news – whether it be a mass casualty shooting; terrorism – foreign or domestic; rallies, marches, and protests utilizing violence or aggression. I, for one, am done! I’m burned out on the hatred on display in America and throughout our world! I’m just plain tired of it all; and, you should be, too! And, if you are not tired of it, then wake upbecause you are already asleep! 

Continue reading

A Community of Encouragement

Are you unable to attend a church service this morning? Here is a link to the message, A Community of Encouragement!

The local church strives to be several things. Above all, it should strive to glorify God by serving the will of God in the name of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit!

A local church, or any community of faith, should also strive to be a community of encouragement!

The message, A Community of Encouragement, explores Paul’s instruction to Titus in the second chapter of his letter to the younger missionary

That’s right… I’m talking about Titus 2 and all of its patriarchal language…

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source: tenor.com

But, the message employs a sensitive reading of this antiquated language and teaching  to consider how the instruction of Paul might challenge our communities of faith to strive to be communities of encouragement in a broken, chaotic, and discouraging world!!!

If you have a moment, you can listen to the message by following this link.

Untamed

My son has recently taken an interest into bugs and insects, reptiles, and all the many other creatures he has begun to discover in his little world!

Several weeks ago, my wife and I picked our son up from school on a Friday afternoon. Our budding tradition is to stop at the local BBQ restaurant after school on Fridays to celebrate another good week at school!

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My wife and I seated the boys at the table. We plated their food off the buffet. The boys began to enjoy their meal after we put their portions before them. In the midst of eating, our oldest son reached into his pocket. He said to his mother, as he brought his hand out from his pocket, “Look what I found on the playground,” and he placed a large black beetle on the table.

My wife shrieked!

She sent him to the restroom to clean his hands and I returned the beetle to the parking lot…

Our son is still very young, but we are able to begin giving him a little bit of freedom to explore – in other words, helicoptering is not necessary at all times. We are a little more inclined to let him explore the depths of the backyard – to dig for worms, to look for beetles, to catch bugs.

He had me trap a large Golden Silk Orb-Weaver the other day. We placed it in a Tupperware container with air holes cut into the top. My wife was sleeping at the time. He ran into the house to show her the impressive size of the spider. He placed the container before her on the couch as she opened her eyes from sleep. She nearly leapt off the couch! I thought it was funny.

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The natural world is an amazing place for him right now. He is discovering the depth of creativity in our world. He is not distracted by the non-sense of the manufactured world we  have built for ourselves. The beauty of the created order is enough.

At the same time that he is discovering the beauty in nature, he is beginning to experience the disruption of the heart in the nature of the human. As my son is growing older and discovering greater things, he is also learning to communicate his thoughts and his feelings. His friends, classmates, and church “siblings” are learning to communicate, as well.

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And, quite frankly, teaching a child healthy communication skills and instructing a child on how to speak to others or how to receive the words of others, is no where as easy as it is to catch a bug or capture a spider.

Helping a child to see the beauty in the words we speak, the influence they hold, and the effect they can have upon others is dreadfully difficult. It is easier to stand in awe at the web designed by the Golden Silk Orb-Weaver than it is to explain the beauty in speaking words of kindness to another.

I thought about the world into which my son is entering this morning as I read the third chapter of James:

How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. James 5b-10a

Every species of beast, bird, reptile, and sea creature can be and has been tamed by the human species, but no one can tame the tongue!

The discussion of “good” vs. “bad” has come up a lot in our present “Jack Hanna” themed life. Which of the snakes are “good” and which are “bad”? Which of the spiders are “good” and which are “bad”? Which of the insects are “good” and which are “bad”? The deciding factor for us has been which of these creatures, if they bite you, could result in a trip to the doctor.giphy-1.gif

Venom and poison, therefore, have become part of our ongoing conversation.

It has been relatively easy to teach my son about the threat of venomous snakes or poisonous spiders or the other creatures that have harmful bites or stings! It has actually been pretty fun watching him learn. He’s learned about frogs, skinks, salamanders, caterpillars, butterflies, and so much more!

James offers an interesting observations about the harm done by the human tongue.

“No one can tame the tongue,” we read in James, for it is “a restless evil full of deadly poison.”

An evil full of deadly poison – Those words hit a chord with me.

I am so afraid of the stings and the bites that my son might receive in the natural world, but I’ve neglected the stings and bites he will receive from others. Even worse, I’ve negelcted the stings and bites he will impose upon others.

My concern should reside here, because the greater effect can come from the untamed tongue…

James says, “With [the tongue] we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God.”

You and I were created to glorify God. We were created to praise. Giving praise to God may be giving word to the beauty of the creatures in our midst; or, giving praise to God could be speaking words of truth, hope, and love to others. Giving praise can be many things, but it is not cursing those made in the likeness of God.

We offer stinging words and poisonous bites of the mouth when we could otherwise utilize the influence of our words to affect change in the hearts of others.

Teaching my son about the beauty of the natural world is important. It is also important to show my son there is beauty in the nature of the human, as well. I guess it starts with me. It begins with the words I speak. The words I speak to my wife, my sons, and those around me will have a far greater effect upon my son’s realization of the words he speaks and how he receives the words spoken to him.

Maybe if I speak words that bring glory to God, then my sons, who are learning to speak, will discover the power in their words, as well.

 

Cutting Boards

The first of these cutting boards is turned from a piece of Zebrawood. It is about 9″ in diameter. The second cutting board was turned out of Maple and Poplar. It is closer to 12″ in diameter. Both of them were finished with a cutting board conditioner.

Sycamore & Hackberry Bowls

The Sycamore bowl is about 4″ in diameter. The grain pattern is pretty interesting on it. I’ve not worked with a piece of Sycamore, but I really like the color tones and grain pattern. Certainly will be looking to work with more Sycamore.

I’ve worked with a local hackberry in the past (i.e. – Sugarberry), which was actually spalted. I’m not sure where this piece of Hackberry was cut, but it made for an interesting looking bowl. The dark patches emerged during the finishing process, which was unexpected. The spalted hackberry I’ve worked with in the past did not have these dark patches. I actually really like the dark spots, though, because they brought out more character in the piece.

Influencing Moses, Part Three

Slide2“Stepping out” and “speaking up” for what is right, just, and true is one of the most influential things any one of us can do.

Sadly, “stepping out” and “speaking up” is difficult, threatening, and risky…which is why so many people shrink away from it, hiding safely off to the side of life. Continue reading