Thursday, April 23, 2009

Time and The God-Shaped Hole

Out of Time
We change watch batteries at The Karat Patch on a daily basis. Every now and then we get a watch that someone else has already tried to “fix”. One time a customer brought in a watch and when they handed it to me they said “I need a battery for my watch”. Right thing to say….right?

Can't Find the Time
But they didn’t say “I need you to change the battery in my watch”. So when I got back to the work area and removed the back of the watch I found just what they meant……..the watch had no battery in it. As I was discovering this, the customer was telling me they thought they could change the battery themselves and opened the watch to see what battery it needed, only to have the battery pop out of the compartment and roll to a place to which they could not find it.

Too Much Time
Just so you know there are about 50 different sizes of watch batteries. Thank goodness I have a template with openings to check a battery’s number by passing it though the template and it also gives the exact size of every battery in diameter and thickness. But this template only has about 18 openings in it. That’s because for any given diameter there are at least 3 or more thicknesses. So even with the template there is some checking to do to find the proper thickness. Even though there are batteries that will fit the opening and will make the watch run, there’s only one battery that fits perfectly. As I was fixing the problem of the watch with a hole in it that only one size of battery would fit, I thought about you and me…and Jesus.

The God-Shaped Hole
I thought about that ‘God-shaped hole’ in all of us. I thought about how there are a lot of things that can get put in that hole, but how only ONE thing fits that hole perfectly….Jesus. You know, like that watch, there were 8 batteries that could have been put in the hole that would fit the diameter, but not the thickness. Some were obviously way too thick….they fit the hole and touched the electrical contacts and made the watch run, but then I couldn’t get the back of the watch…well, back on the watch (uh, re-installed). Some were too thin, they still met the contacts but when the watch moved certain ways the battery would come off one of the contacts and the watch would run on and off. There was only one size that fit perfectly and made the watch operate well and perform its’ intended purpose…tell time.
There are a lot of things that we can put in that ‘God-shaped hole’ in all of us. I’ve tried to fill mine with all kinds of things that seemed to fit, but somehow I just didn’t operate all that well. And by ‘didn't operate well’ I mean not being able to perform my intended purpose. What purpose? I believe we are all created to commune with and serve Jesus, which is our intended purpose. Like putting those different batteries in a hole that they sort-of fit, we can fill the ‘God-shaped hole” with things that sort-of fit, but neither the watch nor our lives operate very well in those instances. The watch needs the right battery and we need the right God. Having too many other things going on in our lives that keep us from God is like having too big a battery in the watch (
Exodus 20:3 and Matthew 6:19-21). Not doing enough for others or only doing for us is like having too thin a battery in the watch (Matthew 25:35-45). Sadly, there are some who spend their whole lives filling the God-shaped hole with anything and everything except the right thing. A bigger house, a fancier car, more money... will never be enough to fill that empty place in us. Jesus is the ONLY thing that fits the ‘God-shaped hole’.

Watches eventually need new batteries. Jesus never runs out of energy. Watches tell time. Jesus owns time, and therefore always has time…for you and me.

NEXT POST: Pearls and What's At The Core

Friday, April 10, 2009

Jewelry Casting and the Creator - Final Part

The Maintenance

When my customer wears their new creation out in the world, I want my work to be so outstanding that people take notice (
Proverbs 16:3). The same should be true of our lives when we are made new by our Creator. When we have been made a new creature in Jesus Christ, and we take ourselves out into the world, our lives should reflect that something has changed. That ‘reflection’ should be that of Jesus. One of my bible teachers says that after we claim Jesus Christ as Savior, “we should be so full of life that when we walk by the produce department of the grocery store, even the lettuce should perk up!”
Customers always tell me that they get more compliments on their jewelry after they have come into The Karat Patch and gotten a good professional cleaning. The metal and the gems both shine and sparkle brightly. You know, the jewelry has been out there in the world and got dirty. This reminds me of what happens to our lives too. We have to be out there in the world and…well, we get dirty. But we can get a good cleaning if we come to Jesus and show Him our dirty lives (confession of sin) (
1John 1:9). Jesus forgives us our sin, cleanses us from unrighteousness………makes our lives shiny and new…….a condition that ‘reflects’ the Creator. At The Karat Patch, we sell all kinds of products to maintain a beautiful appearance to your jewelry. But, Jesus has freely given us all kinds of things to maintain a beautiful appearance to our lives; The Bible, our Christian friends, prayer of confession and most importantly, His life and more pointedly, His cleansing blood.

I tell my customers that their jewelry should be kept clean and checked regularly. That’s good advice for our lives too.

After I have made something new out of something old and the customer is happy, they pay me and leave the store. My hope is that they are so happy with the transformation that they tell everyone who made it happen for them. And so it is with our transformation by the wonderful saving grace of Jesus Christ. Jesus too wants us to go out (Matthew 28:19) and share with every one we know the story of how it all happened, and how He can make that happen for them too. In the jewelry world and in the spiritual world, this is called “giving a testimonial”. It is the account to others of an impressive positive experience. The testimony is intended to instill in those who hear it a confidence that the work has been done by someone they can trust with their valued possession(s). In the jewelry world it is their precious metal and gems, in the spiritual world it is their precious LIFE.
If you have trusted me with your valuable possessions and have had a great experience at The Karat Patch, I hope you would speak well of me so that others know they can trust me too.
If you have trusted Jesus with your valuable life, I encourage you to tell others about your experience so that they will know they can trust Him as well, and that He can make something NEW…… from something old.

I hope that you have enjoyed this series and have learned something new about jewelry casting, and understand now why every time I go through the process I see Jesus.

And all God’s children SAID –Amen!

NEXT POST: Time and The God-Shaped Hole

Jewelry Casting and the Creator - Part Four

The New Creation

(Review the key paragraph from Part Two: "The Process" here )
"When the metal is cooled, the flask is then submerged into water and the plaster is broken away to reveal the new creation. The new creation is then separated from the “button”, which is all of the leftover metal from the entry point into the plaster flask."
This part of the process always reminds me of baptism. But, you had to see that one comin’.

The change has been made and now it’s time for everyone to see the new creation. The plaster investment being broken away reminds me of how Jesus breaks away the bonds of our sin, bringing us from darkness to His Light (Acts 26:18).
Removing the new casting from the “button” reminds me too of how we are set apart, sanctified, for use in and service to the Kingdom of God.

"Then the finishing and polishing process begins, which can involve many steps including grinding, sanding, and polishing. These steps take the new creation to its’ final stage of beauty, an appearance that observers will appreciate and find pleasing."
When the new casting comes out of the plaster flask it is not shiny and new looking. I know that it will be when I get through with it though. This stage of the casting process always makes me think about our daily walk with Jesus Christ. Even though we have been forgiven of our sin and are this new creation, we still need a little “polishing and finishing”, you know, to sort of clean-up what the world sees of us (
Philippians 1:6). .
This would be a much easier process if we didn’t have to deal with that part of us that just doesn’t want to let go of some of the things that we think we don’t want to live without. These things are different for each person, but all are things that we might put in front of or before our relationship with Jesus Christ. Maybe it’s a job, a sport, an interest of some kind. Allowing Jesus Christ to take control in those things that keep us from Him makes our walk with Him a richer experience (
Matthew 6:19-21 and Matthew 6:24). In the casting process, this is the process of finishing and polishing. Sometimes I have to use some pretty aggressive methods to remove the fire scale and imperfections in the new casting and get it to a beautiful shiny reflective surface. Other times not so much. Sometimes God has used some pretty aggressive methods with me to remove things from my life that kept me from reflecting Him who created me. Other times not so much. I know, I know……those of you who know me can’t imagine I have flaws and imperfections. I’m just glad you don’t see what God sees……but enough of that! Just keep thinking I’m flawless.
The point of all the polishing and finishing in the casting process is to get the metal to a bright shiny lustrous finish in which people will see and appreciate the beauty. It’s the thing that captures their attention and makes them want to look at it even closer. Watch their face light-up with amazement when they are told it was made from a bunch of old broken-down junk. Oh yea and by the way, this is the same reaction people will give when you tell them how your life has been made new, purified of sin, re-cast into a new creation, polished and finished by the Creator…..out of your broken-down junk.


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Jewelry Casting and the Creator - Part Three

The Refiner’s Fire

(To review the key paragraph from Part Two: "The Process" click here )
“...impurities begin to surface from the liquid metal. It is at this point that all the impurities are removed with a pure quartz rod, or incinerated by the fire. In this liquid state the metal will actually follow the flame around the crucible as the impurities are being removed."
The closer the metal comes to being ready for casting into the new form, the more it follows the flame. The more Christ-like we become, the more we seek that thing that helps get us there. As impurities are removed from our lives, the more we want to become the likeness of Christ. The more we seek positive change, the more we seek to follow the flame that incinerates the impurities in our lives. The rod of pure quartz used to remove impurities from the metal reminds me of the blood of Jesus Christ that cleanses us from all unrighteousness. And the fire itself that brings impurities to the surface of the liquid metal reminds me of God’s Word, pure truth that shows us our sin and brings our impurities to the surface (
Hebrews 4:12). In comparison, the likeness of Christ would be the absolute purest form of metal possible, and then some. If we seek Christ’s likeness, then we must constantly seek that “refiner’s fire” to remove all the impurities in our lives.

"When the impurities are gone and while the metal is still liquid, it takes on a “mirror finish”, indicating that it is time to activate the casting machine to move the liquid metal into the new form which is waiting at the open end of the crucible."
Now I don’t want anyone to be confused here. There’s an important statement to make in following this process. Often when a person falls under conviction, they think “I better get my life cleaned-up”. But only Jesus can do what Jesus can do. The Bible states that if we confess our sins that Jesus is faithful to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (
1 John 1:9). That’s the process. I believe the purification process in our lives begins with the moment we begin confession of our sin. Then Jesus is faithful to forgive us of our sin within that same moment. In the casting process, this is the “mirror finish” state in which the jewelry caster determines the metal is ready to move from the crucible, to the new form inside the plaster flask. The “mirror finish” state is the time when the metal is ready to make the move to the new form. I really love this comparison: The “mirror finish” in the casting process is when the liquid metal reaches a state of condition in which the jewelry caster can see his image. Once we have confessed our sin and accepted Christ as our Savior, we reach that “mirror finish” in which the Creator sees His own Image. That image is the same form that is waiting to receive the now purified metal of our broken-down lives, and we are cast into a new creation.
Because of our decision to confess Jesus Christ as Lord, when the Father looks at us He doesn’t see our broken-down junk anymore, He sees His son who lives in us (
Matthew 3:17).

“When the casting machine is activated, the liquid metal moves instantly into the waiting plaster flask which contains the new form for the metal."
When the metal begins to leave the crucible there’s only one way it can go to reach the point of new creation, just as Jesus said there is only one way to the Father (
John 14:6). The metal gets there in an instant. The change in our lives with Christ is instantaneous when we accept Him as Savior and we become a new creation (II Corinthians 5:17) which is PERFECT in the eyes of the Heavenly Father. But our earthly lives can take j-u-u-u-st a bit longer to change.