The Glass Blower

This year we have decided to take a staycation. Since we have lived in Staunton for two years now and have not really explored our surroundings, we thought it would be a great thing to do. Staunton has a wonderful artsy/cultural theme and has some great places to visit. Sometimes you can live in a place a long time and not really know what is in your hometown.

We visited several of the free museum/attractions in the area. On Friday night, Dale and Anna went to the Blackfriar Theatre. The Blackfriar is a theatre built by the American Shakespeare Center and is a replica of the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. The ASC presented a “pay what you will” presentation of The Importance of Being Ernest” by Oscar Wilde. They had a great time.

Tuesday, we went to several of the local free museums/attractions. First, we went to see Jumbo the Antique Fire Engine. While we visited there, we also got a tour of the fire station in which Jumbo is located. Jumbo is the first motorized engine purchased by the Staunton Fire Department.

Next on our tour was a camera museum. They had hundreds upon hundreds of cameras. Both Dale and I recognized cameras that our families have own, including an Argus 35mm and a Kodak Instamatic. It was great. One of the cameras was a Japanese camera that saw action at Pearl Harbor. They had every kind of camera imaginable. There was a camera designed for baseball (only eight of that camera were made)

Following the camera museum were the bank museum and an acoustic music store. The music store features acoustic instruments, stand-up basses, acoustic basses, guitars, mandolins, violins, and banjos. That was fun, but the instruments were expensive.

Our favorite place of our mini-tour of Staunton was Sunspot Studios. This is a glass blowing and copper studio. It was amazing. They have live glass blowing demonstrations. At first, it was as exciting as watching paint dry, but as we watched the artist blow and form the glass something amazing happened. After that we walked around the store portion of the studio.

As we drove away from the store, Dale and I started talking about the different steps that it took to get a little round piece of purple glass formed into a beautiful vase. Dale started talking about how the glass blowing resembles each of our lives. When the glass blower starts, it is difficult to know the vision that the glass blower has for the piece that he is working on. The same thing is very true in our lives. We cannot see the vision that God has for our lives. The vase that we saw created started at a little piece of glass that we couldn’t even tell what color it was. The glass blower kept talking about the purple glass. That was not apparent to us. When God was designing us in our mother’s womb, he had a vision of what we could become as a person. The world can’t see God’s vision for our lives. Not only can others not see God’s vision for our lives, but it’s tough for us to see God’s vision – because we can only see the past and the present.

The second thing that came up is that the glass blower had to keep putting the piece in the furnace to keep it flexible. This was so that he could mold into the masterpiece that he had visioned in his mind. During most of the process, the glass was hot and orange from the heat. It had to stay hot so that the glass blower could mold it and shape it. He needed the glass to be flexible so it could become a beautiful vase. God places things in our lives, like the heat from the furnace to make us flexible so he can make us. So we can become the person he wants us to be, and do the things he wants us to do. James 1:2 comes to mind 2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

The third example that comes from is the glass blower did not have to blow a lot of air in to the vase. It was just a couple of puffs. When I think of the glass blower blowing into a vase I think of Holy Spirit blowing through our lives. We need to have Holy Spirit working in us to help guide us through our lives. The Holy Spirit helps us grow and become the masterpiece that God had the vision about us.

It has been a great staycation so far. We have had several opportunities to go swimming as well as just relax, something that typically doesn’t happen on a normal vacation. Later!

Our Heart Attitude

We must learn to stop dancing before the altar of man’s approval and to worship God solely because He is worthy of our praise.  If we perform for other’s approval when we worship God, then we’re perverting the praise meant for Him.

Kim Hill and Lisa Harper
“Contemporary Worship: What Does Worship from the Heart Look Like”
Experience God In Worship

[The authors reflect the importance of worship attitude to guard this focus.  “The style of our worship is not what’s important, the motive and intent of our heart is.  The extravagance of our worship is meant for an audience of One.”]

The Spirit Pleads for Us

[I wrote this for our weekly e-newsletter at church and thought it would be good for today.]

It was so good to be back with you on Sunday as we worshiped together.  Many of you commented on Sunday’s message and I am thankful and humbled that God used that message in a powerful way.  Isn’t it amazing the way God works and isn’t it amazing the way the Holy Spirit works?  The older I get the more amazed I become by God and His ways.  I hope that is true for you as well.

During Sunday School, we were discussing Psalm 23 and the places that restore our soul.  We were asked the places or things that do that for us.  It might not come as a surprise that one of the things that restores my soul is music—either listening to it or playing or singing.  Another thing that might come as a surprise is running is a place that restores my soul, especially when I’m not trying to run as fast as I can.  There are times on a run, where I settle in and talk to God.  That happened during this morning’s run and he reminded me of this scripture from Romans 8.

26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

One of the things that I like to do when preparing a message is to pray over it.  This week was different, because every time I tried praying, it seemed like my prayers were hitting the ceiling and bouncing back.  It was tough to pray, but I kept on persevering, even though sometimes I couldn’t even come up with the thoughts or the words.  I am so thankful that we have the Holy Spirit to help us in our weakness.  I am really glad that the Holy Spirit prayed and pleaded on my behalf for this weekend’s service even though it felt like my prayers were hitting the ceiling and coming back to me.  That should be an encouragement for all of us—that the Holy Spirit really wants to be involved in our lives—that He is living and active.

I pray that you have a wonderful week in the service of the King of kings.

Two Years Ago

It really is hard to believe that two years ago we packed up the big yellow truck in Martinsville and moved to Staunton, VA.  It was a hot and humid day.  It really doesn’t seem like that long ago, yet here we are continuing to do what God has called us to do.  It has been an amazing journey.  The two years have flown by and it hardly seems possible that two years could have flown by like that, but I guess that’s what happens when you get older.  It’s so quiet in the sanctuary as I write this morning.  Yesterday during Sunday School, we were discussing God’s overflow as written about in Psalm 23 – You anoint my head with oil and my cup overflows.  We are so blessed by God – the Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need.  That is so true.  I can’t ever remember being as content in life as I am right now.  God is doing some great things and I can’t wait to see what He does next.  Does that mean that everything goes exactly the way I want – of course not!  I love the chorus of the song that I just posted.

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

I believe that God works in our lives in the good times and the bad times.  Sometimes the bad times are just what we need and then there are times like this morning when I am just basking in His amazing presence.  Thank you Lord, for your many blessings…..

Sunday Night Thoughts

Here we are on a Sunday Night again.  It’s really hard to put this week into words.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing.  The last few weeks have been crazy and it’s been hard to stay on top of everything.  This weekend really was a chance to slow down after several big weeks.

Yesterday I was able to get in a long run – running for 1:23 and covering 7.5 miles.  It really has been amazing to see how the running is coming along.  I broke out some new running clothes, since I wore out my first pair of running shorts and I really wanted a no sleeves shirt for running in the summer.  So I now I have them.  I know I’ve mentioned this before, but if you said two years ago, I would be running and enjoying it two weeks ago, I would have looked at you like you had two heads.  I have lost 37 pounds in the last two years and really enjoy getting out in the quiet and running.  It is a remarkable feeling.

That run and just being lazy for most of the rest of the day really set up today.  I was up early to get ready for today’s service.  Our lead pastor is on a mission’s trip, so that means I had a chance to preach this morning.  Let’s just say this morning was a God thing.  The Holy Spirit moved in and settled in among us.  What a wonderful, amazing service we had.  Thanks to the praise team, you did a great job.  The message went well and was well received and really spoke to many hearts this morning.  I would say that it was among one of the better messages I have preached.  Like I said, it was a God thing and he spoke through me in a most humbling way.  It is amazing to see how God will use you.

This week, we are taking a stay-cation and visiting many of the sites around Staunton and Augusta County.  I’m looking forward to pulling back a bit and charge my spirit.

Thank you Lord for a wonderful day.

Seize the Day!

Sunday Set List

Sunday, June 26, 2011
Second Sunday after Pentecost

Welcome and Announcments

Call to Worship and Invocation
Psalm 84:1-4; 15-18

Songs of Worship
Ancient of Days
Come People of the Risen King
We Will Glorify

Worship Through Prayer

Scripture Reading
Genesis 22:1-13
Romans 6:12-23

Songs of Worship
The Solid Rock
Step by Step

Worship Through Giving
Special Music

Worship Through God’s Word
Who Owns You?
Romans 6:12-23

Song of Commitment
Draw Me Close