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Monday, November 1, 2010

Cades Cove in Smoky Mountain National Park 10/28/10
Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
This is our favorite part of the park. A mountain cove is a valley surrounded by mountains.  This view brought to mind the selected Scripture text.
(Click here for a larger photo suitable for a desktop background.)

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"Thou Art The Potter,
I Am The Clay"

"O Lord, You are our Father. We are the clay, You are the potter; we are all the work of Your hand" (Isaiah 64:8). "Go down to the potter's house, and there I will give you My message" (Jeremiah 18:2).

Last Thursday Brooksyne along with my sister Genelle visited the Old Mill Pottery store in Pigeon Forge. Genelle's husband Cesar and I "patiently" walked the grounds as they took their time admiring the handmade ceramic pottery displays of vases, mugs, planters and other handcrafted designs.  During the afternoon visitors could observe craftsmen at work as they molded and shaped pliable clay in accordance with their creative skills. 

Making potteryMany of us have tried our hand at making pottery all the way back to our art classes in Grade School.  The results may not have been quite to our liking, at least for those of us who are artistically challenged. I still remember the art teacher displaying  the pottery students had made including mugs, ash trays, and other such small projects common to our day.  Mine didn't look nearly as nice as other artistic students, but after I brought it home Mom put it out on the coffee table showing it off to others.  Interestingly, among the report cards, trophies, and ribbons she saved over the years I don't have any of my special pottery pieces among them.

I can easily recall some powerful sermons I've heard when the teacher used a pottery wheel to demonstrate the points in a very illustrative way. Today let's consider a great lesson that took place about 2,600 years ago.  God directed the prophet Jeremiah to go down to the potter's house for a teaching lesson. Jeremiah obeyed God's directive and learned a powerful lesson that is now part of the Holy Scriptures.

I expect God to teach me in the mundane experiences of life and He will if my eyes and ears are attentive to His instruction.  The Master Teacher used the ocean, birds, fields, house construction, and even little children to teach lasting lessons in life.  In fact we often use observations in nature and everyday life as a basis for these daily encouragements.

Our first daily text expresses an attitude of submission to the Master Potter, "O LORD, You are our Father. We are the clay, You are the potter; we are all the work of Your hand" (Isaiah 64:8).  God has not changed and Isaiah's statement is directed to each of us as well. Many a songwriter has made this connection. Perhaps most famously are these words from the classic hymn, "Have Thine Own Way" which serves as a our message title,

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

After Jeremiah observed the potter at work God taught him two great truths we do well to remember: "God has authority and power to form and fashion kingdoms and nations as He pleases. He may dispose of us as He thinks fit; and it would be as absurd for us to dispute this, as for the clay to quarrel with the potter. But He always goes by fixed rules of justice and goodness. When God is coming against us in judgments, we may be sure it is for our sins; but sincere conversion from the evil of sin will prevent the evil of punishment, as to persons, and to families, and nations" (Matthew Henry).

God, the Master Potter, providentially shapes our will as we submit to His caring hands.   At times the Potter's pace may seem slow and we  grow impatient at the progress.  Occasionally the actions of the Master Potter may not make sense to us.  We may squirm or even complain, considering the Potter to be quite abrupt in His actions.  It may be painful to us and we may even think we know better!

And yet a deep settled peace and assurance comes to those of us who wholeheartedly place ourselves in the caring hands of the Master Potter.  "You are the Potter, I am the clay. Mold me and make me, this is what I pray."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer:  Father, too often my heart becomes hard, unpliable, and unmoved because of my stubborn will or due to my own ignorance.  My pride convinces me that I know best and I become reckless along the way.  I want to trust You as the Master Potter when You break my will to remove my imperfections.  Though it is a painful, humbling and deliberate process I invite You to realign my heart's desires and reshape my will according to Your purpose.  As I go through this purifying process help me to stand firm during the testing periods of my life.  I want to be a vessel of honor that brings glory to You.  In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.

Note from Brooksyne:  When I was a child growing up in Tulsa we lived about three miles from Frankoma Pottery in Sapulpa, OK.  I was spellbound as I watched the potters at work.  I remember from my childhood experiences and our visits to Sturbridge Village in New England that the potter often took a piece of clay that he had formed into a lovely vase or pitcher and would suddenly crush it with his hands.  He'd put it back on the wheel and start all over again.  Though the untrained eye could not detect a defect in the work the Master Potter knew it was there and would reshape the vessel so that the quality was pleasing to him.  It's a wonderful analogy of what Christ does when He saves us and applies His sanctifying work all along the way.

Here are four truths concerning the Master Potter:
1) The Master Potter is always in control.
2) The Master Potter is "hands on" (genuine pottery products are not mass-produced).
3) The Master Potter takes time and changes His work a number of times in ways that can be mysterious to the observer as he works on the finished product. As living pottery, changes in our lives can be mysterious to us also!
4) The Master Potter has the ultimate good in mind for His work.

Today we  share an assortment of photos from our trip last week to the Great Smokies.

Foliage near Smoky Mountain National Park 10/28/10
We were at the park at a point when the fall foliage was near peak as far as color and beauty.

Walking trail in Cades Cove in Smoky Mountain National Park 10/28/10
We had a wonderful two mile walk on this leaf-strewn trail as we hiked back to an isolated cabin.

Cabin in Cades Cove in Smoky Mountain National Park 10/28/10
It was interesting to imagine how the early settlers lived.

Mountain stream in Smoky Mountain National Park 10/28/10
While driving through the park we came upon this mountain stream and waterfall.
(That's my brother-in-law Cesar taking a photo)

Mountain stream kayaker in Smoky Mountain National Park 10/28/10
While we were there some kayakers came plunging down the falls.

Farmall tractor at Red Rooster Pancake House in Pigeon Forge
With all the restaurants in Pigeon Forge attempts are made to carve out a niche to create interest and draw customers. The Red Rooster Pancake House had tactors and old trucks both outside and inside the restaurant!

Apple Barn in Pigeon Forge TN
The Apple Barn Restaurant in Pigeon Forge had a booth with swing benches for seats.
We weren't sure we wanted to eat our meal while swinging on a bench!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.
(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

"Have Thine Own Way"

"Your Love O Lord"  Video  Third Day

For those who may be interested here is some more info of the sights mentioned with today's message:

Old Mill Pottery at Pigeon Forge, TN

Apple Barn in Pigeon Forge, TN  

Cades Cove

Cades Cove auto tour

More photos of Cades Cove (taken by others)

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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