Sunday, June 28, 2009

Diamonds and The Real Thing

There are diamonds and then there are diamond simulants. Diamond simulants are known by names like Yttrium Aluminum Garnet (a.k.a. YAG), Strontium Titanate, Synthetic Rutile, Synthetic Spinel, Cubic Zirconia, and most recently, Moissanite. These diamond simulants all have a particular characteristic about them that easily or readily distinguishes them from a diamond. But recently (in the past 2-3 years) we have had laboratory-created diamonds introduced into the marketplace. These lab-created diamonds are extremely difficult to distinguish from a “natural” diamond without a strong background of experience in examining natural diamonds. The bottom line is it takes an expert to tell the difference between an imposter and the real thing.

Let’s take a look at the distinguishing characteristics of two of the previously named simulants. The easiest way to spot the difference between a diamond and cubic zirconia is to weigh it. Cubic zirconia weighs 55% more than diamonds with the same measurements. Moissanite has what is known as a “double refractive index” which means if you look at them under magnification the number of facets on the gem appear to be ‘doubled’.

Lab-created (manufacturers vehemently shun the words 'man-made') diamonds though are created using a ‘seed’ of natural diamond to grow a complete new crystal from additional carbon which is subjected to strictly controlled heat and pressure over a period of about 45 days. But even these stones can be distinguished from diamond by someone with extensive experience in dealing with ‘the real thing’.

In the gospels of Matthew (
24:5), Mark (13:6), and Luke (21:8), Jesus warns that many will come in His name and will deceive people. Jesus says there will be false Christ’s and false prophets that will perform great signs and miracles. Simulants. Imposters. People who will have taken a 'seed' of the gospel and twisted and perverted it, mixing lies and half-truths to meet their own evil means....deception.

So, how will we be able to tell the difference between the imposters (false teachers, false preachers, etc.) and “the real thing”?
We must make ourselves experts on “The Real Thing”….Jesus. How do we do that? We must read the authoritative book on “The Real Thing”….the Bible. Case in point: In most if not all of Matthew Chapter 24, Jesus Himself explains things we can look for that will tell us the difference between an imposter and The Real Thing. The entire Bible gives us word pictures of Jesus and His Love for us and also includes the characteristics that make Jesus truly unique to Him. Jesus has conquered sin AND DEATH. How about asking one of these imposters to raise himself from the grave?
Here’s an interesting comparison: The diamond derives its name from the Greek word adamas, meaning 'unconquerable'. No other gem has that name ‘adamas’, unconquerable. And there’s no other name by which we can be saved than by the name of Jesus, whom the Bible declares to be unconquerable.

Just as diamonds are the purest form of only one element (carbon), Jesus is the purest form of The One and Only God’s Love. Diamonds are the hardest rock (or substance) on the earth. Jesus Christ is the Living Foundation of Rock upon which God builds (
1Peter 2:4) and the Rock of our Salvation (Psalm 95:1).
There is no real substitute for diamond, and certainly no substitute for The Real Thing…Jesus.

NEXT POST: Rawhide, Steel, The Word, and Jesus

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Having Great Metal and Having Great Mettle

Great Metal
Gold is the most malleable and ductile of all known metals. A single ounce of gold can be beaten into a sheet measuring roughly 5 meters on a side. Thin sheets of gold, known as gold leaf, are primarily used in arts and crafts for gilding. One sheet of gold leaf can be as thin as 0.000127 millimeters, or about 400 times thinner than a human hair.

Pure gold is soft and is usually alloyed with other metals such as silver, copper, nickel, zinc, and magnesium to increase its strength. Gold alloys are used to make jewelry, decorative items, dental fillings and coins.

Gold would never be able to keep the shape of any purpose without the addition of something else to help give it strength.
The same could be said about relationships in that while they can be good all by themselves, they can be better with the addition of something that will help them keep the nature of their intended purpose, the addition of something called Jesus.

I believe it's quite evident that Jesus thinks relationships are very important. In John 13:34 Jesus states "A new COMMAND (not suggestion) I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, love one another."(NIV)
It's appropriate then that we would call both gold and relationships "valuable". Both are able to be shaped, and can become whatever a person or persons will make of them with enough effort. One can make a ring out of pure gold, or a relationship out of pure love. But comes a test and the true strength of both the ring and the relationship is discovered. The ring can become warped, bent out of shape and useless in the purpose for which it was intended. A relationship can become painful, hurtful and useless in the purpose for which it was intended as well.

Great Mettle
Whether we're talking about gold or relationships, it takes great courage to take something precious and introduce anything to it in an effort to make it better. A jeweler can add alloys to gold which strengthen and make it useful for any and every kind of purpose for which the jeweler intends. We can add Jesus to our relationships to make those relationships stronger and more useful for any and every kind of purpose God intends. Whether that relationship is with each other as brothers and sisters in Christ, or between a man and woman as husband and wife, the addition of Jesus as a strengthening alloy makes those relationships stronger than they would be without Him, able to stand against any stress.

You read earlier that a single ounce of gold can be beaten into a sheet measuring roughly 5 meters on a side and 400 times thinner than a human hair. It's very difficult to do anything with gold when it has been beaten and spread out that thin. In that condition, gold can literally be blown away with just your breath.

Relationships too can be hard-pressed to find proper function when those people that make up the relationship are beat-up and spread too thin. Relationships can also be blown away with just your breath…articulated with a sharp tongue or harsh words.

What's It Worth?
The distinction between adding alloys to gold and adding Jesus to relationships however can be made in that while a jeweler can add too many other alloys to gold, no one can add too much Jesus to a relationship. If a jeweler adds too much alloy material to gold, it decreases the value of that gold to a point that it is truly worthless.

Conversely, the more Jesus you add to relationships (or anything else for that matter) the more valuable it becomes, both to the people who make up the relationship and to Jesus who can use that relationship to further His Kingdom. Other 'alloys' like prayer, forgiveness, and bible study all contribute to a strong relationship.

As a jeweler I’m always looking for ways to better preserve the precious metal I work with. As Christians we should always be looking for ways to better preserve our relationships, with each other and with Christ. In working on gold and in working on relationships, both can become whatever we will make of them with enough effort.
NEXT POST: Diamonds and The Real Thing