Plates – 8/21/17

IMG_1962Now that the fall garden is planted and sprouting, I’ve been able to get back to the wood shop. After my wife gave me the lathe for Father’s Day, I gave a lot of attention to turning bowls and chalices. I’ve done a couple of small plates, but I have not had the time or the opportunity to work on larger plates that would work well for patens. Since I would like to start making communion sets, I’ve been wanting to work on some plates/patens.

Below are pictures of three plates I recently finished. I started to feel a little more comfortable with the process by the third plate! The biggest challenge I experienced was turning the underside of the plate — I ended up leaving a small rim to elevate the plates off of the table. Still, I am going to need to give a little more attention to smoothing out the surface of the plate.

This first plate is made from African Zebrawood. It is a little over 9 inches in diameter. It was very fun to work with this Zebrawood. I have about thee more pieces of it left, so I will probably be working with it again pretty soon.

The second plate is a segmented piece consisting of Walnut and Poplar. It is about 10 inches in diameter. The gluing process was not too difficult, but there are a few gaps. I went with a simply design, but I like how this plate turned out.

I am not sure what type of wood is used in this third plate. It came from a box of scrap pieces from Berlin G. Myers…good people. It is around 11 inches.

Cedar Bowl – 8/16/17

IMG_1935My father came across a cedar tree on a pile of debris earlier this summer. I’ve been able to use this particular cedar tree in several projects already.

I cut one of the logs into blanks a few weeks ago. The piece of wood I used for this bowl was among those blanks.

I have been excited to see what could come off this particular piece of wood! The blank was cut at the point of an emerging branch. Due to its dual-tone grain, cedar already offers interesting patterns. I was especially interested, however, to see what affect the darker branch would have to the overall look of the bowl! I will include a picture (with a different filter) of the inside of the bowl, which shows the variant in tones between the lighter living tissue, the redness of the core, and the darker branch at the base of the bowl. Once more, I have left the wormholes in the living tissue for added character.

Gavel – 8/9

I don’t believe my father is accustomed to using a gavel in his courtroom, but I wanted to turn one for him to have, at least, for display.

This particular gavel is a bit different from traditional looking gavels, but it is what I imagined. I thought I would put some rounded beads in it, but I like the look of the lines so I left them as they are.

The gavel was turned from the piece of Sapele my sister gave to me, which my father thought was pretty cool.

Also included are some pictures of a small bud vase I gave to my mother turned out of oak.

The Life of a Seed, Part Four

SeedThe life of a seed has much to do with the receptivity and the response of the soil. And, in the same way, our receptivity and the responsiveness has an effect on the proclamation of Jesus.

The series, The Life of a Seed, has explored the Parable of the Sower with the intention of understanding how a seed grows into a fruit producing plant. Grasping the considerable influence the ground has upon the life of a seed enables us to know the deeper meaning of Jesus’ teaching.

The previous messages in the series resisted the urge to move quickly to Jesus’ explanation of the parable so that we might pause and reflect upon the instruction of Jesus associated with the Parable of the Sower. This reflection saw an emphasis placed upon the need for the crowds (and, to an extent, the disciples) to “see” and “hear” the proclamation of Jesus.

The interpretation given to this instruction to “see” and “hear” was a need for anyone who encounters the proclamation of Jesus to “receive” and “respond” to the proclamation of Jesus – or, more simply, to be attentive to the proclamation of Jesus.

As a result, we discover a choice is presented to anyone who encounters the proclamation of Jesus: one can “see” and hear” – one can receive and respond to the Word of God proclaimed by Jesus. Or, one can choose to reject or neglect his proclamation…

Our final message allows us the opportunity to finally reflection upon the explanation of Jesus, whereby he addresses each of the four soils upon which the seed is sown: the path; the rocky soil; among the thorns; and, the good soil.

Each of these soils receives and responds to the sown seed in a different manner and to a different effect!

In the end, we learn the parable is not about a negligent sower or an insufficient seed; rather, we discover a generous sower who sows out of the abundance of seed so that all may have the opportunity to receive and respond!

And, the same in true for us! The Word of God has been sown into our hearts by a generous God about of his abundant grace. This Word is most profoundly sown through the proclamation of Jesus (which we encounter in Scripture; through the tradition of the Apostolic faith; within our experience; and, through the gift of reason). Encountering the proclamation of Jesus presents us with an opportunity to choose how we will receive and respond. Be encouraged, therefore, to “see” and “hear” … to receive and respond … to be attentive to a greater truth.

Listen to Part Four of The Life of a Seed.

Previous messages in this series:

  1. Part One
  2. Part Two
  3. Part Three

Sprout: Inspiration for Emergence

SproutWhat is holding you back from emerging from the depths of the dirt and living in the power of the light?

Many of my messages and reflections have given a great deal of attention to all things garden related over the past few moment. There is a simple reason: my son and I planted our first garden this past Spring. We really had no idea what all we were doing, but we had a fun time figuring our way through it and forging new friendships with people who wanted to help us in our efforts!

(Aside: Our first efforts for germinating seeds was pretty hilarious. You can listen to the story in this message from the series The Life of a Seed.)

There have been many blessings that have come from our gardening experiment: watching the plants produce fruits, eating the fresh vegetables, and sharing our vegetables with others! Of course, the greatest blessings has been the opportunity to spend time with my son…

Among all of the blessings, there was a most spectacular and awe-inspiring moment that helped me see the true beauty in farming! — A couple of weeks after my son and I placed the seeds into the germination cells, small sprouts began to emerge from the soil!

The emergence of these sprouts was, well, almost magical…better still, it was divine!

As these sprouts pushed through the soil, they began to unfold into the light. The first leaves opened up and exposed themselves to the light of the sun (or, in our case, the heat lamp). They made themselves vulnerable, accessible, but also receptive to the light that would nurture and sustain their growth!

The sprouting of a seed is a perfect image for a new found faith of a Christian believer.

Faith is like a seed sown into the heart. The seed begins to sprout and grow. As the sprout emerges, it (ought) to open to the light. The light serves the health of the sprout by nurturing and sustaining its growth into a productive plant!

The Word of God is sown into our hearts by the proclamation of Jesus. Those who receive and respond to his proclamation will see faith founded upon the Word begin to grow and emerge. The awe-inspiring beauty of the whole thing is faith emerges and begins to open to the light of the Son, which nurtures and sustains the faith through the power of the Spirit.

The Word of God has been sown into your heart through the proclamation of Jesus! What will you do? How will your heart receive and respond to this proclamation?

My encouragement to you today is to simply be inspired to emerge!

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Elevator: Awkward Encounters of God

Riding the elevator with a stranger is awkward. Bottled up inside a confined space with someone you do not know — very uncomfortable.

I do not like awkward situations, because – obviously – they are uncomfortable!

I usually attempt to break awkward tension in any given situation with a joke or some light-hearted comment! My friends know this about me. They think I am a kidder, who likes “to stir the pot,” but really, I’m just super uncomfortable in awkward moments. I guess making a joke or making a light-hearted comment is my attempt at taking control of the situation.

Inside an elevator with a stranger is a whole other level of awkward, though! I wish I had a standard comment on the ready to ease the awkwardness – something like, “Random fact: Hippos secrete red sweat when they are upset.” That type of knowledge bomb would certainly destroy any degree of elevator awkwardness!

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I once rode in an elevator with James Brown, the “Godfather of Soul.” I do not think I said anything to him. I remember staring at his teeth – also, random. Maybe that should be my elevator ice-breaker. “Hello, my name is Ross. I once rode an elevator with James Brown, the Godfather of Soul. And, now, my new friend, you can say that you’ve ridden in an elevator with a man who rode in an elevator with James Brown!”

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All of this to say, I rode in an elevator with a stranger today. A young man, with tattoos all along his arms and multiple piercings. I stepped into the elevator with him and the awkward tension. How should I stand? What should I do with my hands? Where should I look? What should I say/not say?

I went with the standard head nod and, “What’s up, man?” — You know, alpha male material.

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Apparently, that’s all the guy needed to start telling me his story – His father was in the hospital with a surgery, he was hoping to be released later in the day, he had come down from New York to help his mother with his father, he sold clothes for a living, and he was headed to Florida before flying back to New York.

Y’all, I was only taking the elevator to the 3rd floor! He told me like ten stories within 2 stories worth of an elevator ride!!

I guess the reason we feel awkward – the type of awkward we feel in an elevator with a stranger – is because we all have a story to tell. We have this inherent need to relate, and to relate well, to others. The awkward tension we feel in the elevator with a stranger is not the discomfort of sharing a small, confined space with someone we have never met. The awkwardness results from our resisting the need to relate to others.

There are times in life when we bump into God like a stranger in an elevator. We encounter God in the midst of our life and we have no idea what to say – “Hey, God! Hippos sweat turns red when they are mad, but you probably already knew that!”

God has a way of showing up when we least expect it and when we are least prepared for God’s presence. It can be a little awkward – How should I stand? What should I do with my hands? Where should I look? What should I say/not say?

The awkwardness we experience when we unexpectedly encounter God in the midst of our life results from the same inherent need to relate, and to relate well, to others.

Specifically, at the core of our heart is the inherent need to know God and to be known by God.

“Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who loves God is known by Him.” — 1 Corinthians 8:2-3

Any awkwardness experienced when encountering God is normal! What to do? How to stand? What to say/not say? These uncertainties are the result of a natural need to exist in relationship with God. You have a story worth being told; and, God has a story for you to live. The awkwardness is simply the assurance that you are meant to know and be known by God.

Watch out the next time you step into an elevator. Who knows, you might find yourself riding with God the Father of your soul…not to be confused with the Godfather of Soul.

Against the Wind

Against the WindThere are times when we feel like we are sailing against the wind.

An adverse wind hits us in the face and we find ourselves struggling to move forward.

What can we do when we are against the wind?

Our message for this week focused upon a similar experience of the disciples. While they were trying to sail across the Sea of Galilee one evening, these men encountered an adverse wind. They struggled at the oars as they attempted to make their way forward.

The story can be found in Mark 6:45-52. Jesus sees the disciples in their distresses. His response brought comfort and peace to the disciples. And, his response stands to offer comfort and peace to us during our times of struggle.

Jesus response can be quickly summarized by four observations:

  1. Jesus goes to them.  Jesus does not pass by them; rather, Jesus goes to his disciples in the midst of their struggle. Likewise, God has a funny way of coming to us through our relationship with Jesus in the midst of weakness and struggle. 
  2. Jesus reveals himself to the disciples. He does not simply come to them; rather, he reveals his identity to them in the midst of their struggle. Our times of struggle may not seem like the most opportune time for God to be revealed, yet God has a way of not only showing up…God reveals God’s love to us (in and through Jesus) when we are most in need of love! But, be clear, God’s revelation of love must be received. God’s grace and mercy must be accepted. 
  3. Jesus climbs into the boat with the disciples. Jesus takes it a step further, literally. Jesus doesn’t simply come to his disciples in the midst of their distress, nor does he only reveal himself to the disciples in the midst of their struggle. Jesus climbs into the boat with them — Jesus enters into their struggle alongside of them! To those of us who are willing to look for God in the midst of our struggle and to accept God’s  revelation of grace, mercy, and love, we will be quick to discover the presence of God alongside of us as we struggle against the winds in our life. 
  4. Finally, the wind ceases, but the disciples must continue to row. The presence of Jesus alongside of the disciples delivers a sense of peace, comfort, and calmness. The presence of Jesus, however, does not negate the struggle!!! The disciples must continue to cross the sea…only, crossing the sea is a little less of a challenge and a little more peaceful with Jesus in their boat! The presence of God in our life will not remove the struggle of needing to move forward, but the presence of God through our relationship with Jesus (and by the power of the Holy Spirit) brings a peace, comfort, and calmness to our lives. The struggle is real, but there is peace in the presence of God.

So, these are just a few quick notes on the message from Sunday! If you have a moment, I would invite you to listen to the full audio message.

Blessings to all!!!

Rise, Let Us Be On Our Way

Not able to make it to a worship service this morning?

Feeling a little uninspired?

That is okay!

Because, sometimes we just feel a little uninspired.

But, have a listen to the message Rise, Let Us Be On Our Way.

Because, there is peace for us still…!

 

Mothers Moving Mountains

Mothers Moving MountainsWhat if your lack of patience is actually the presence of faith?

Parenting is difficult.

Parenting certainly requires patience.

Because parenting requires patience, there will be times when a parent’s patience feels a little thin…

The presumed lack of patience does not have to signal inadequacy as a parent! What if the lack of patience distracting a parent’s heart is actually the presence of her faith?!

Patience has its place within parenting, but it is not the most significant component of healthy parenting! The faith of the parent is the most influential aspect of healthy parenting – the parent’s faith in God; the parent’s faith in herself as a parent; and the parent’s faith in the potential of her child!

The thinning of patience may actually be the revelation of one’s faith in her child – the belief in the potential of her child to grow into an even more amazing person!

The faith of a parent – faith in God, self, and child – has the ability to do the impossible. A little faith has the power to move a mountain…faith has the ability to move a child into adulthood!!!

So, the next time you find yourself praying for patience…maybe don’t! Rather, ask God to strengthen your faith – in God, in yourself, and in your child.

If you would like to hear more, check out this week’s message, Mothers Moving Mountains. Consideration is given to the amazing influence mothers have upon the hearts of their children…and, the how faith strengthens a mother to move a mountain!