The Potter

Recently, while my family was on vacation, we visited a pottery shop & took a tour of the makings of how beautiful, detailed pottery is created.  We were able to watch a live demonstration, of how a potter places a lump of clay on the spinning wheel & creates a vase from what started as an abstract mass of clay.  If you have ever watched a master craftsman perform a very skilled task, you know their skill can make the craft look so very easy. 

So after watching this graceful & seemingly effortless demonstration for a bit, the potter asked if anyone in the audience would like to try their hand at making pottery.  My son had been watching closely & jumped right up & said he’d like to give it a try.  So he stepped up onto the platform where the potter had been sitting & they gave him his own clay & a few basic instructions.

Probably less than a minute after he began the adventure it was clear his confidence was dwindling.   He realized quickly that forming a lump of clay into a sculpture was not as easy as the skilled potter had made it look.  The master potter stepped in & gently held my son’s hands, showing him where to apply pressure, where to ease off & how to move his hands in order to form the clay into a vase.

In the Old Testament, God gave this literal picture to Jeremiah as well.  He told Jeremiah to get up & go to the potter’s house & see what the potter was making.  When Jeremiah got there, the potter had just finished an attempt at a pot that turned out badly, but the potter simply crushed the clay, started over & made a beautiful sculpture. 


“Whenever the pot the potter was working on turned out badly, as sometimes happens when you are working with clay, the potter simply started over, using the same clay to make another pot.”    {Jeremiah18 MSG}


God very clearly told Jeremiah, that He was the potter & His people are the clay.  As soon as we will allow Him to take hold of our life, our lump of clay, He will mold us into something beautiful.  It will take crushing, it will take time & it will take the hands of the Master Sculptor to be able to make us, in all our humanness, reflect the work of the One who makes us righteous.

The problem is, we are the amateur sculptor, who with too much confidence in our own ability, jumps in & says we can make it beautiful on our own.  We try hard & we may even realize we’ve messed up & make a decision to start over.  But until we release the clay into the hands of the Master, we will continue in our turmoil.  Our sin, our selfishness, our own desires, spurred by our adversary, keeps us thinking that we can mold our own lives into something beautiful.  But God wants us to stop worshiping a lie & let Him be the truth that guides us.  The truth is, if we will repent from our own ways & allow Him to be control & He will start over with us, making us into a beautiful thing.

The big question is how we stop controlling & start allowing Him to make us into a reflection of His love.  Here are some things we can do to let God be the Master of our lives:

Release control ~ Once we can release control to the Master, He will make things beautiful.  Don’t confuse what He calls beautiful with something that is perfect, easy or comfortable.  That’s not what He promises.  He promises to always give us His strength in place of our own weakness when we allow Him to.  God can’t make us into a masterpiece when we are busy doing it ourselves.  {Psalm 27:14, 2 Corinthians 12:9}

Return to Him ~ Sometimes we get off track in our way of life.  Do you know the story of the prodigal son who felt that he could handle his life better on his own than under his father’s care?  He made the choice to leave the safety of the father’s house & live on his own, only to find himself as a complete failure.  But when the son returned home, the father ran to him & swept him up, receiving him whole-heartedly back with love & mercy.  This is a picture of God & His children & it will be no different for us.  When we return to Him & just repent, He will sweep us into His arms & give us an unimaginable love that will make us into a perfect reflection of who He is & who we are in Him.  {Luke 15:11-20}

Walk in His finished work ~ When we accept Christ as our Savior, we are given complete access to a river of grace that can never dry up.  However, though we have full access, we must go to the river of grace & let it wash over us, we must drink it to quench our thirst, we must wash in it for our healing.  We are not robots; we are humans with full free will to choose.  We can be free & yet not walk in the freedom we possess in Christ.   We must choose to walk in the finished work of the cross.  When we trust God’s accomplishments instead of our own we will find fullness in life.  {Philippians 2:12-13, Romans 8:1-7}


What areas of your life do you need to let the Master do His work?  How have you been trying to control your own life?  Can you release control today & let the Father create a beautiful masterpiece out of your life?


Love,
Cara

 
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Praying for Your College Student

Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord & lift up your hands for the lives of your children....Lamentations 2:19

Having a child in college changes your prayer life.  When kids are at home under our roof, we sometimes pray for them with the belief that we are in control of the situations they are facing.   Though God has made us a spiritual authority in our child’s life, ultimately, the decision to claim faith & live it out, comes down to the choices our children make.   

Children enrich life in a profound way & the sudden absence that is left when they leave for college can’t be filled by anything else.  Though it is an exciting time in the lives of families, college is as new of an experience for parents as it is for students.  When children are out of the house & away at college, they are in essence, on their own.  Which is a very different scenario from the 18 years they spent living at home. 

Parents & kids enter college with expectations of what will be, but we also are grieving what was.   The way things were in our family dynamics will change and will never again be the same as before we took our child to college.    Parents will become increasingly less of a critical part of their children’s daily lives.  We become advisors to our kids & no longer disciplinarians in their day-to-day activities. 

We have once again moved our son away for another year of college & I am once again filled with the same desperation I felt last year for God to move into the vast expanse of the miles between us & fill my child with the grace only He can give. I want God to show up in my child’s life & reveal Himself in ways that will refine my son’s walk as a mighty man of God.

Here are some of the prayers I’ll be praying for my son as he’s away this year.  I hope these will be helpful to you as you build a reserve of scripture prayers for your child as well.

  • Lord, I pray that _______________ will develop a heart for You & Your ways.  I pray that You will silence all the ways the enemy wants to call out to her {him} in this world & that she {he} will hear Your voice as her {his} true guide.  {John 10:27}
  • Thank you God that you have given _______________ a calling and gifts that are irrevocable.  I pray that he {she} will have the wisdom to seek Your ways in those areas & use them to further his {her} sense of purpose in what You have called him {her} to.  {Romans 11:29}
  • Father, as _______________ deals with the pressures of school workload & social relationships, in addition to other responsibilities, I pray that You would keep her {him} free from any anxiety that would weigh her {him} down.  Keep her {his} spirit & attitude in a good place of focus on You & keep her {his} mind on positive things.  {Philippians 4:8, Proverbs 12:25}
  • Lord, I pray that _______________ will have clear discernment to choose right over wrong.  I pray that he {she} will shape opinions & choices about life based on Your Word & what is right in Your sight.  Reveal Yourself to him {her} as he {she} walks through life & let him {her} trust in You with all his {her} heart & not lean on human understanding. {Proverbs 3:5-6}
  • I pray that in the midst of living life independently, that _______________ would learn to live life in discipline as well.  Show her {him} that there is a path that leads to destruction & a path that leads to an abundant life.  {Matthew 7:13-14}
  • Father I pray that you would keep _______________ in complete health.  I pray that _______________ would see that good health is a gift from you & that he {she} would be smart in all decisions regarding his {her} body.    Would You touch & heal anything in his {her} body that is not fully well & let him {her} know that you are the Healer. {Jeremiah 17:14}
  • I pray that _______________ would have fulfilling, godly friendships that will have a positive influence in her {his} life.  Enable her {him} to be discerning about who she {he} spends time with & trusts with the inner parts of her {his} life.   I pray that those friends will be influencers of Your love & give her {him} good guidance & advice.  May all her {his} relationships be equally yoked.  {Proverbs 13:20, 2 Corinthians 6:14-15}

 

related topics:  7 Scriptures to Pray for Your College Student

Photo by Catherine Price

Photo by Catherine Price


Love,
Cara

Building a Tower

I {Jesus} will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it.  It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. But anyone who hears My words & doesn’t heed them is like a person who builds a house right on the ground, without a foundation. When the floods sweep against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.    {Luke 6:47-49}

There is a skyscraper in San Francisco named the Millennium Tower.  With hallways that are lined with marble & granite, the building has been described as “rare & precious, shimmering on the skyline like crystal”.  The designers of this building touted it as “urban living, elevated to an art form”.  There is just one little problem;  since its completion in 2009, the building has sunk about 16 inches into the ground & is leaning a full 6 inches toward a neighboring skyscraper!

You see the building was originally built on soft soil.  At the time of its construction, the city had no codes which required developers to have their engineering reviewed by an outside expert.  And to top it off, the developers of this project received at least 9 awards for “excellence in structural engineering” upon its completion.

So what to do with a leaning tower?  Well the residents of the Millennium Tower hired an outside engineering expert who has suggested they simply remove the top 20 floors of the skyscraper!*

As I read the story of this leaning skyscraper I began thinking about the parable Jesus gave us about building our house on the Rock.  He likened our listening to His words of life & letting them sink deep into our hearts, to a person who built their house on a firm foundation.  When flood waters came the house was fine.  But there was another person in this story who built their house right on the sand of the earth, without a good foundation, and when the floods came their house fell over in great ruin.  On the outside the two houses in Jesus’ story look identical.  However what you can’t see, the foundation of the house, is the difference. 

Jesus wanted us to understand that we are the house & He is the foundation.  To build a strong foundation, we must take God’s words to us & let them sink deep in our hearts.  If we just let the Bible & the example we are given in Christ be pretty on the outside, we will crash down just like the house with no foundation. 

There is a battle raging on all sides of us.  The enemy never stops looking for a way to topple our house but armed with the Word of God & a foundation built on the Rock of Christ we can confidently stand strong & tell the enemy that Christ has already overcome. {Colossians 2:14-15}

Here are some things I think we can keep in mind when building a life on the Rock of Jesus:

Make sure your foundation is stable ~ Outside appearances mean nothing in the eternal realm.  If our foundation is faulty, then everything else built on top of it will be too.  When we meditate on God’s Word & spend time with Him, we will be more stable to handle overwhelming situations in life.  When the reality of flood waters are pressing at the door, the foundation laid in Christ will keep our hearts & minds stable because He has given us a spirit of power & love.  When we “go deep” into the word & lay our foundation on the solid Rock we will shine like “crystal” against the backdrop of life.  {Matthew 5:14, 2 Timothy 1:7}

Get outside help ~ Sometimes we need a expert to help.  Even if our foundation is built on Christ, we often allow what’s on top of the foundation to begin to lean.  Whether it’s a counselor, friend, pastor or otherwise, seeking wise counsel from someone who will point us to Jesus, is optimal.  We must be completely open & transparent in order to gain a deeper understanding of how God Himself wants to train & teach us.  Often He desires to use one of His anointed servants to show us the way & be a support network for us.   As Christians, we have to be a people who are willing to deal with real heart issues in community with others.  {1 Corinthians 3:10-15}

Take a little off of the top ~ Occasionally, we build our house on a solid foundation but by the time we get to the roof, we have forgotten Who our Chief Cornerstone is.  When we realize that we have gotten all the way to the top & things aren’t in alignment with the foundation of where we started, we need to back off so that He increases & we decrease.  It’s good to evaluate & do a little remodel of your “house”.  When a remodel occurs, the foundation stays the same but the stuff on top of it changes.  Evaluating where we are with what God is asking us to build is the only way we will keep our building from toppling over & have abundance of the treasure that lasts for eternity. {John 3:30, Matthew 6:19-21, Ephesians 2:20-21}

Is your foundation stable?  Is God leading you to consult a qualified outside source to realign what He wants to do in your life? Do you need to remodel some areas of life to concentrate on Him?

Love, Cara 



*Fuller, Thomas. "In San Francisco, a Sinking Skyscraper and a Deepening Dispute." New York Times 22 Sept. 2016.

Light Trumps Darkness

His breath filled all things with a living, breathing light – a light that thrives in the depths of darkness & blazes through murky bottoms.  It cannot and will not be quenched! John 1:4-5

Not long after my family moved into the house where we currently reside, my daughter, who at the time was 10 years old, got up during the middle of the night to go to the restroom.  Because it was so dark and she was in a new environment, she mistakenly went into the hallway & entered the walk in attic door instead of the bathroom door & closed it behind her.  From what I understand of the story she later told me, she was still half asleep and didn’t realize what she had done until she started feeling around the room for a light switch or a toilet.  Once she discovered she was stuck in the dark attic, she also realized she couldn’t find the door back out, and she began to scream my name. 

Can you imagine? 

A 10-year-old little one, screaming for mom, in desperate need of help, but none came.  She told me she stood there & screamed and cried for a long time until she realized no one could hear her.  She said, “Mom, I knew the only way out was to pray.  I just asked God to help me find the door and He did!”   She came into my room, shaken, but unharmed.  The scary part of this story is that there are actually 3 doors in that walk in attic.  Two of them lead to parts of the attic that if you step on to it, you will fall through the ceiling and 1 door leads to the hallway back to where the family resides.  The very next day, I had a deadbolt installed on the attic door so that it can only be opened with a key.

The truth of this story is what trumps all.  A child in need of help.  Standing in the pitch black she called out to God for help and He came to her in the darkness. 

I have been in very dark places in my life.

Places where I thought I would never see light again.  Places where I tried to call on everything & everyone I thought could help, but then realized only the Father could rescue me in my situation.  When I look at the dark places in my life, I am amazed at how Jesus’ light penetrated & gave me enough hope to find my way out.  I remember one particularly dark time, standing in my bedroom, literally crying out to God.  I told Him if He didn’t help me I would not make it.  You know what?  He did help me.   He came to my rescue.  In the dark, I found just enough light to take the first step toward the door out of my darkness.  He also showed me there were multiple doors I could choose.  Doors that would lead to more darkness and destruction.  Because I called on Him to be my guide, He told me there were things in this world I could choose that disguise themselves as the true way out of darkness, but that I must only walk through the door He showed me in order to find life.

Ephesians 3:20-21, tells us that God is able to do exceedingly more than we could ever ask or imagine because of His power in us.  That means marriages can be saved, addictions can be broken, wayward children can be brought home, diseases that threaten death - can be cured. 

Jesus is able to pierce darkness with His glorious light. 

Call on Him today.  Ask Jesus to be your guide.  Just ask which door to walk through & He will show you the way. 

Love, Cara