Tag Archives: baptism

Ouch!

me grinding

My family is a rockhounding family.  Everywhere we go, we plan to look for rocks of all types.  Four years ago, I didn’t know what most of them are, beyond quartz, but now I have a much greater level of knowledge through involvement with our local gem and mineral club.  This has been a great tool to help our family go from picking up any and every rock to being selective with what we keep. At least it helps the pile in my yard get bigger more slowly.

This past year, I have spent time learning how to polish rocks using a wet grinder and some polishing pads I bought at our club’s gem and mineral show last year. I’ve learned how to shape rocks and put a beautiful polish on them that brings out their true character and beauty.

This weekend is our annual gem and mineral show, and it has been my pleasure to be the one doing rock polishing demonstrations.  I’ve been able to meet many people and polish rocks for customers and vendors alike!  It’s hard to believe that four years ago, my family didn’t know beans about rocks.

When I polish a rock, I want to expose what’s underneath, so that the true beauty of the rock can be shown.  The finished product will shine and turn a ho-hum rock into something of value.  Often, however, I must shape a rock to get it to where it will accept a polish.  To do this, I have to use the grinding wheel.  The grinding wheel takes off the jagged, rough parts that do not allow for polishing.  It removes the uneven surfaces to present a face more acceptable to the upcoming transformation.  But the grinding wheel doesn’t polish.  In fact, the end result after the grinding wheel leaves a surface full of scratches and scars that must be sanded away.

After the surface is level or nearly so, and polishing can begin, I start with a 50 grit sandpaper to get rid of the scratches made by the grinding wheel and finish shaping the surface.  After this wheel, I progress through a set of wheels until I finish with a 3000 grit diamond wheel.  I could go further to higher grit, but I don’t currently have the tools to do so.  For my purposes, 3000 grit is fine.

After the grinding wheel, each of the polishing grits must be used with water.  Water is the lubricant that keeps the rock from overheating and fracturing from the friction of the pad.

Why tell you all this?  Because I sometimes feel like that rock.  God wants to reveal his purposes in me and transform me back into the person he intended when he created me, but I’m so stubborn, and I’ve done things that have created rough edges and deep gouges and a self that looks much different than the masterpiece God sees in me.

So he works to remove all those things that hide his masterpiece.  Sometimes his ways are tough to handle.  I can’t imagine what a rock would feel at the grinding wheel if it had feelings, but I know how I feel when a rigid part of me gets demolished by a circumstance God allowed me to endure. Sometimes he is putting finishing touches on an area in my life, and his ways are sweet to my soul because I welcome the change.

But all of that change begins with water.  Baptism is like the lubricant that begins the process of transformation, and celebration of the Lord’s Supper continues that lubrication for our souls as we renew our covenant with God each time we partake.

How’s your life?  Are you still a ho-hum rock? Or are you allowing God to work in you to reveal the masterpiece he created in your mother’s womb?


The Twelve Steps

In my last article I wrote about the five keys to maturity as Christians, and in that article I mentioned the similarity between the way the church should function and the way groups like Alcoholics Anonymous DO function. The camaraderie and accountability of those groups keep people on the path to sobriety. The life of the Christian should be filled with others who are helping them along on the path to sinlessness as well, but we have become so politically correct and afraid of rejection, we refrain from speaking into the lives of even those closest to us to hold one another accountable.

If you’re like me, there are many things in your life you’d like to change, not the least of which are sins you habitually commit. We all have hurts, habits and hang-ups. So how do we overcome these problems in our lives as believers in Jesus? For those attending AA to achieve sobriety, there are twelve steps:

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understoodHim.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take a personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

These steps have been proven to be effective to help people recover from alcohol addiction, and there are similar steps to groups like Narcotics Anonymous and others.

What if there were twelve steps to Christian living? What would they look like? My friend, Roy Rhodes, came up with these:

1. We came to believe that we were powerless in our sin, and that life was outside of our control.

2. We came to believe that a power greater than us was in control and could restore us.

3. We made a decision to give our will and lives over to the care of Jesus Christ, who offers sanctuary and salvation.

4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. We confessed to ourselves, to God and to another human being the nature of our sin.

6. We were entirely ready to surrender our sins to God.

7. We humbly asked God to remove our sins and shortcomings and restore us as bearers of His Image and Spirit.

8. We made a list of all persons that we have harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to examine the self, and when we are wrong, prompty confessing and setting things right.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to remain rooted in God, our strength and deliverance.

12. Having given our lives to God and experienced his healing in our lives, we try to carry the message of the Gospel to others and live these principles out in all aspect of our lives.

Steps 1-3 are similar to much of the language in churches today about how to come to know Jesus and find salvation. Step three is where we find baptism as a way to connect to the cross and resurrection of Christ (Romans 6). Step 12 is the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16). But what about the other 8 steps?

Sometimes we wonder why there isn’t more growth in the church (because people aren’t living step 12), and I would suggest it may be because steps 4-11 aren’t being done daily in the lives of Christians to even get to step 12.

We may even do step 7, but often we don’t do the other steps surrounding that one to actually achieve success in quitting a particular sin. Steps like numbers 4, 5, 8, and 9 are uncomfortable and awkward. If we actually had to confess to someone else, they may betray us. If we seek amends with those we’ve hurt, they may reject our efforts. So we don’t try. We give up before we begin.

The five keys to being a mature Christian are these: Attend the meetings, get a mentor/partner/confidant, read the Book, works the steps, and tell others. The twelve steps to key number 4 are something like these above. If you want to see success in your life in Christ, you’ll work these as diligently as an alcoholic trying to overcome addiction, because you and I are addicted to sin, and we need to overcome our addiction too.


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