It was a great privilege to see the potter coming to SAIACS and do a demonstration for us on how to make pots. Though I was not there for the whole demonstration but the end, so let me share my reflection on it.
When I did arrive the potter was doing the finishing touches on the last pot that needed to be picked up.
The wheel was still spinning. As it moved it me encouraged that his work was not over. The newly moulded pot was still in production. On the spin, and the potter gently handling the pot. Slow and. Steady, he wasn’t harsh with the pot, but his hands were gentel. The potters hands were covered in the clay and the hands were constantly wet. Since the pot was in the stage of moulding.
The potter had a purpose, that was to make the pot. So the proces begins much earlier from a shapeless lump of clay. Well the clay itself runs through a number of stages of cleansing and purifying of all the impurities on it. And then it’s is trampled by the potter water is poured on top of it. Figuritavely it’s that unbearable pain for the clay. Where every area the water has to seep in and it has. To get ready to be used. Most of all the clay doesn’t have a choice to want impurities.
Once the clay is set, the potters makes sure of the wheel, if it is stable, so that it. Doesn’t loose it’s
Balance half way and loose the entire purpose. So with the speed the stability is imposed on the wheel. Once that is done. The potter starts to spin the wheel at a speed so that the wet clay just doesn’t fly away. He sits beside it starts to mould the clay at the same time water is sprinkled and poured so that the clay by becoming hard it may break away. The process of the potter is from the bottom to the top the shape appears, simultaneously there is a hand that runs inside and outside so that a better shape is formed. Once the clay takes the shape and he thinks it’s done. The potter scoops the pot away from the wheel that is still spinning. He is gentel but at the same time he is hard and strong. Of course for the pot to finish it has to go through the furnace for it to be usable. And then it comes out from the burning hot furnace and is ready to use.
In reflection to this we see God who is the potter at work in our very own lives. We are the clay, we have many impurities that need to be removed before we will be used. Though the analogy cannot be taken literally. But most things that are done can be adapted in our own lives. The clay us. The wheel, the water. But most importantly it’s the focus on God. As in Is 64:8 But now, O God, thou art our Father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.
This reminds us that we are so much of God than us. When we are ready to be used, I am reminded by the verse in 2 Cor 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God…
The vision of the potter and the clay unfolds to us the picture that God is at work and the wheel that we are moulded on continues to spin.
I want to examine one place where there is entirely too much mediocrity in the church of Jesus Christ: preaching. For about 40 weekends each year I am with some body of Christ somewhere in the world. Often I am not able to get out on Saturday, so I will attend the service of the local congregation (when I am not scheduled to preach). What I am about to say will probably get me into trouble, but I am convinced it needs to be said. I am saddened and distressed to say it, but I am tired of hearing boring, inadequately prepared theological lectures, delivered by uninspired preachers reading manuscripts, all done in the name of biblical preaching.
I am not surprised that peoples’ minds wander. I am not surprised that people are struggling to keep attentive and awake. I am surprised that more aren’t. They are being taught by one who has not brought the proper weapons into the pulpit to fight for them and with them. Preaching is more than regurgitating your favorite exegetical commentary, recasting the sermons of your favorite preachers, or reshaping notes from one of your favorite seminary classes. It is bringing the transforming truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ from a passage that has been properly understood, cogently and practically applied, and delivered with the engaging tenderness and passion of a person who has been broken and restored by the very truths he now stands to communicate. You simply cannot do this without proper preparation, meditation, confession, and worship.
There simply is no way that you can begin to think about a passage for the first time on Saturday afternoon or evening and give it the kind of attention that it needs. You will not be able to understand the passage, be personally affected, and be prepared to give it to others in a way that ontributes to their ongoing transformation. As pastors, we have to fight for the sanctity of preaching, or no one else will. We have to demand that our job descriptions allow for the time necessary to prepare well. We have to carve out time in our schedules to do whatever necessary for each of us, given our gifts and maturity, to be ready as spokesmen for our Savior King. We cannot become comfortable with patterns that denigrate preaching and degrade our ability to represent a glorious God of glorious grace. We cannot allow ourselves to be too busy and too distracted. We cannot set low standards for ourselves and those we serve. We cannot be self-excusing and self-accommodating. We cannot allow ourselves to try to squeeze a thousand dollars worth of preparation into dime moments. We must not lose sight of the excellent One and the excellent grace we have been called to represent. We cannot, because we are unprepared, let his splendor appear boring and his amazing grace appear ordinary.
The culture and discipline that surrounds our preaching always reveals the true character of our own hearts. This is exactly where confession and repentance needs to take place. We cannot blame our job descriptions or busyness. We cannot point the finger at the unexpected things that show up on the schedule of every pastor. We cannot blame the demands of family. We have to humbly confess our preaching is mediocre, not rising to the standard to which we have been called. The problem is us. The problem is that we have lost our awe, and in losing our awe we are all too comfortable with representing God’s excellence in a way that is anything but excellent. Ministry mediocrity in any form is always an issue of the heart. If this describes you, then run in humble confession to your Savior and embrace the grace that has the power to rescue you from you, and in so doing, give you back your awe.
Paul Tripp is the president of Paul Tripp Ministries , a nonprofit organization whose mission statement is “Connecting the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life.” Tripp is also professor of pastoral life and care at Redeemer Seminary in Dallas, Texas, and executive director of the Center for Pastoral Life and Care in Fort Worth, Texas. Tripp has written many books on Christian living, including the forthcoming Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry. He has been married for many years to Luella, and they have four grown children.
G.K Chesterton in his book Orthodoxy says “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.” I have come across many people telling the very same thing. Holiness? I cant and its not for me. Some have said, that being a Christian is so strict so there isn’t much fun in it for me. These are some of the different responses.
In contrast to a life of worldliness, there is this dashing point of being possessed by God, Holiness just the opposite of what the world says. But a life worth living. As I read this book, the focus is surely on Holiness, as being called as a people of God to be distinct.
In the introduction the author starts with our role in the life as a Christian and so he says that “Holiness is a neglected priority” and so often the church has failed to keep up-to the standards. The need is for us to look at the scripture and to find our basis in the word. The study of theology has gone to an extreme of just learning and living up to the standards that God has placed. And we fail to make sense of it. At the starting point of the book he demands for holy living. Unlike the world. The author express his concern over the fact of the sabbath day, meaning keeping the sabbath is a part of being Holy.
The author focuses on the word, ‘sanctification’ and all the entailments of that in the scripture and what it means to us. Starting from the covenant in the Old Testament, and the passage in the New Testament. The author quotes “Sanctification is about being possessed by God and expressing that distinctive and exclusive relationship by the way we live” (48) and calls that sanctification is just not a second form of grace but a process that is ingrained in the lives of the Christian. Quoting from the Calvin’s Institutes, “Christ justifies no one whom he does not at the same time sanctify” (93). So the author is not just implying aestheticism for holiness, or something completely different. But a one time experience and a continuous process of living in Christ.
Overall, it is a good academic work on the title and doing justice to it. He has stated clear arguments and the same time reasoned it out. Its a book worth reading. Because it helps us to focus on what God expects of through his grace. Living a holy life, but at the same time knowing we are possessed by God.
By : Sangster Sukumar
I have often wondered how Easter is celebrated all over the world, and in so many ways, the Gospel to the Pious or to the Pagan. Celebrate, but What?
The Risen Christ?
This week we have been going through the valley of death(literally, due to illness), I did fear the evil in my weakness. For the first time in our lives we wont be doing that bit of celebration like the pagans. But of course we will celebrate Jesus as everyday. John 14:19 Because I live you also shall live.
The Easter message, comes to us as The Gospel to a dying man(literally or spiritually) as HOPE that there is life only through the risen Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Now and Beyond.
Below is a link to a sermon preached by Don Carson on John 11, that has encouraged us during these tough days, hope it will be a blessing to your soul.