What’s With The Clay Pot?


Clay Pot

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” 2 Cor. 4:7

   A pot is a pot, right? Not necessarily. This one is dated 670AD, and is from Pre-Columbian times in Mexico. Probably used for water or something. It use to have decorations which can be seen if you look closely, but time and wind blown sand has done it’s work. It’s value now, we don’t really know.

   Paul, in 2 Corinthians 4:1-12 Paul speaks about a “ministry” and a “treasure” and “pots of clay”.  The treasure, the ministry of Jesus is given to us, not just to hold it. But of course to share with others. Don’t worry, the pot won’t go empty. It seems the more you share, the more you have. But there is more… because he repeats thoughts like “we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord” and “the power is….not from ourselves”. The pot is only important as the container, it’s the content that’s important.  The power is from Jesus, living within. The “pot” may be, “hard pressed on every side”, “perplexed”, “persecuted”, “struck down”… The purpose of the pot is that “his life may be revealed in our mortal body”.

   Yes Paul spoke of himself, but the principle is clear and applies to us, that we are to “go into all the world and make disciples of every nation”. The best sermon, is truly the one we live. We are 21st century clay pots of God.


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The Price Has Already Been Paid

   Just think a moment about all the bad that has been done, for whatever reason, or motive. Be it anger, jealousy, lust, greed, unnatural desires, irreverence or just down-right hate … Think about all the tears, and blood that has been shed in the name of religion or racial hatred. Think of all the wars and conflicts fought over the centuries. Think of all the pain and suffering of the born, the aborted, young people and old alike. It all comes down to one basic cause, sin.

   Few in schools of higher learning call it what it is. Those who study the workings of the mind often call it something else, maybe a sickness to be treated with pills. Yet the Bible is straight forward about it… Man’s biggest problem is sin. People laugh at it, ignore it, brag about it, and Hollywood glorifies it. Laws are passed to try and get rid of it by making it acceptable and normal.

   God’s word simply speaks of it as sin. In the original language of scriptures, it means to “miss the mark”. Doesn’t sound so bad, right? Everyone “misses the mark”, right? Even the bible says “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23. Yet this does not take care of the problem. Never did, and never will.

   Man has tried to balance the books with God for a long time. Yet the books just don’t balance. We are forever in debt and have no way to pay it.

   The story is told of a Russian Czar who disguised himself and mingled with his soldiers. One soldier, deep in debt, had made a list of all that he owed. His loaded revolver lay beside him, but in his anxiety, he had fallen asleep. At the end of the list he had scribbled the words, “Who could pay so much?” Later he woke up and was startled to see the personal signature of the Czar, “Alexander” and his personal seal next to the question he had scribbled at the end of his list.

   If we each sat down and wrote a list of all the things we had done, in anger, hatred, jealousy, despair, lust, how long would that list be? You run a red light, and get a ticket, go down and pay the amount levied against you at to Court House, and they stamp it “Paid in full”. Ok, so how do you do that with sin? What are the wages (earned price) of sin? Paul says in Romans 6:23 “For the payoff (wages) of sin is death…”

   So what is all this about? It is about Jesus. It’s all about Jesus. He was destined to do something for mankind which he could not and cannot do for himself. He came to provide a way out of the penalty of sin. “Who could pay so much?” Paul says, “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (For rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person, perhaps someone might possibly dare to die). 8 But God demonstrates His own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8 (NET) DEATH BY CRUCIFIXION… closely portrayed in the movie “The Passion of Christ”, is hard to watch. Yet it was all for you and me, unworthy sinners.

   Sin cannot be paid for by works. Salvation is a gift, not to be treated lightly. The price paid for the gift should tell us that. Faith, repentance and immersion (Acts 2:37-39) in no way earns the gift… because it is priceless. When we obey His commands, we are surrendering to Him, and calling out to Him to save us.  Bottom line… THE PRICE HAS BEEN ALREADY PAID.


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The Bruise, The Badge, And The Christian

   Growing up was fun, but hard at times. I can’t tell you how many times I would come running in the house crying because I was cut, banged up, or bruised. I guess it is just a part of growing up. We lived in Dallas, was 12 years old and football was ‘in the air’. We had a neighborhood gang of kids (that’s back when being a part of a gang wasn’t bad) and we’d all gather at the school yard and play flag football. Flag football was looked down on because we wanted to do the real thing. We used the flags anyway because our parents wouldn’t allow the rough style of football. Then it happened… I was tackled, went down hard on my shoulder, and was hurt. I can’t figure what got pulled but the next day my shoulder was red, black and blue (almost patriotic). Of course mom forbid football for a while.

   When I went back to school and showed off my bruise during PE (Physical Education), I found I was like a celebrity. Everyone wanted to see the bruise. It was my ‘badge’. “This is kinda worth the pain”, but I was a kid then.

   Christianity is not a game, although there is some growing up to do, and Christians get ‘banged up’ in the process. It’s not easy, because the main battle is with yourself. Jesus says, “count the cost” Luke 14:25-33. Bottom line is that when a person becomes a Christian, He wants to be #1 in life. Is it worth the pain to be a Christian?  Go figure. Jesus suffered and died… was it worth it?  Salvation is priceless. Nothing takes the place of forgiveness for the sinful heart. Nothing feels better than guilt being lifted at Calvary.

   Is ‘the way’ of the Christian hard? Is it worth it? Peter said in 1 Peter 3:14-17 “But in fact , if you happen to suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. But do not be terrified of them or be shaken.  15 But set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess.

   The Christian’s badge is not how often he attends church, or how much he gives, but how far he goes, in spite of the difficulties. Finish the ‘race’. You don’t have to be first… just finish, (2 Timothy 4:6-8).


   Hast thou no scar? On foot or side or hand?

   I hear thee sung as mighty in the land.

   I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star –

   Hast thou no scar?

   Hast thou no wound? Yet I was wounded by the archers spent –

   Leaned me against a tree to die and rent,

   Like raven beast – they compassed me. I swooned –

   Hast thou no wound?

   No wound, no scar? Yet as the Master shall the servants be.

   And pierced are the feet that follow Me. But thine are whole!

   Could he have followed very far,

   who hast no wound, no ugly scar?


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I Want To Speak With A Real Person

   How many times have you called and after the ring, ring is done, you get a welcome message, and “Please press one for English”, Press 9 for Spanish”, Press 2 for Chinese”, “Press 4 for Indonesian” etc… Then, “Please listen to our list of options carefully, because they have been changed.” Then you get six or seven choices. Then after choosing one of these choices, “Please listen carefully to these options… ” Then you get another four or five options. You choose one. “PLEASE WAIT, YOUR CALL WILL BE ANSWERED IN THE ORDER IN WHICH IT CAME.” Then you get this mechanical lady on line asking for your account number or SS number or something. You you ready to be tied by now, and you give the number. The mechanical lady cannot understand, so you GIVE IT AGAIN!!! You finally just say, “Representative please!” Then this ‘lady’ says, “I understand you want to speak to a representative. Please tell me what your problem is so I can direct you to the right department.” By this time your Christianity is really being tested, and you are ready to just give up to say the least.

   If you cannot tell by now, I hate speaking to these mechanical answer services. Come on… give me someone that is REAL!

   A little girl was having some nightmares one night. Her dad came in and sat beside her to comfort her. “Don’t worry”, he said. “God is here and is watching after you.” She looked up at her dad and said, “I know dad, but I need someone with flesh on him.”

   John records, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14. “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared Him.” John 1:18. “The next day John sees Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.” John 1:29

   Thank the Lord, we have a God who has flesh and blood. What would you expect of the Man/God? Well, something out of the ordinary for sure. We would expect to see someone who lived right, stood up for the weak, gave teachings and principles on living right. We would expect someone who could heal the sick and raise the dead. Someone who was unafraid of facing those people and situations that scare us. We would expect someone who loved people. We would expect someone who understood the problems and feelings we go through every day.

   Well, Jesus did all this and MORE. Paul says, ” Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; BUT MADE HIMSELF OF NO REPUTATION, AND TOOK ON THE FORM OF A SERVANT, AND WAS MADE IN THE LIKENESS OF MEN; AND BEING FOUND IN FASHION AS A MAN, HE HUMBLED HIMSELF AND BECAME OBEDIENT UNTO DEATH, EVEN THE DEATH OF THE CROSS.” Phil. 2:5-8.

   The Hebrew writer says, “Seeing then that we have a GREAT high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. FOR WE HAVE NOT AN HIGH PRIEST WHICH CANNOT BE TOUCHED WITH THE FEELING OF OUR INFIRMITIES; BUT WAS IN ALL POINTS TEMPTED LIKE AS WE ARE, YET WITHOUT SIN.” Hebrews 4:14-15

   Over all, the prophet Zechariah says, speaking of Jesus the Messiah, “FEAR NOT, daughter of Zion; Behold your king is coming, Sitting on a donkey’s colt.” Zech. 9:9; John 12:15.

   Don’t be afraid, we have “a God who has flesh on him”. He is always ready, willing, able to hear when we call. Always there when we need Him.


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“I Quit” – (Solutions) – (Conclusion)

This article is part 6 of 7 in the series I Quit

   We began this series with Jesus and we end it with Jesus. When tempted to quit, throw in the towel… think of Jesus. Those ‘big’ problems that are causing you such a ‘head-ache’, put them at the foot of the cross… picture Jesus looking down, bleeding from his head, his hands and feet, exhausted, thirsty, exposed and mocked.

W.W.J.S. (What would Jesus say?) Is this problem a big deal? If Jesus had this problem, would he quit?

“Not fair!” you say? Well, someone needs to say it! He is our example, our pattern in life. As Paul said, “It’s no longer I that live, but Christ who lives in me.” It’s when problems come, our pride, feelings, ‘rights, desires, flesh, take over. Yet on Sunday morning we go and meet with the saints, and sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy…” “Lord make me a servant”, etc… Somehow, we have managed to divorce our life and our religion. We are good at quoting scriptures about most everything, but poor at applying the principles of scripture to our self, our situation.

What are some things we need to keep from quitting?

We have mentioned:

  1. Prayer (Help me Lord!!)
  2. Commitment (make it to each other)
  3. Patience (endurance / stick-to-it-ive-ness)
  4. Forgiveness (‘first stone’) What else?
  5. Love (agape style). What does love do/not do? Read I Cor. 13; Romans 12:9-21. This love is not mushy, emotional, ‘up/down’, ‘on/off’. It is a constant, deliberate thing that lasts and lasts. It is specifically, the type of love that is Christ-like. It will sacrifice itself and tough it out. It never quits. This love has perspective, and can discern what is and what is not a big deal.
  6. The Holy Spirit, our continuing Helper. He is there to help us, encourage us to keep on keeping on. The one who quits, is one who is not listening to God’s Spirit. Could Jesus have quit (rebelled against) going through 40 days in the wilderness? Sure! Could Jesus have refused to wash the feet of Judas? Sure! But He didn’t. The Spirit of God was with Jesus, and is with us. In the words or Winston Churchill, “Never, Never, Never… QUIT.”
  7. Disagree if you must, BUT… But what?! Well, Don’t quit! Learn to disagree without getting fed up and disgusted, offended, and walking out. How many times have brethren walked out of services or classes, because they don’t agree with a song used or a statement made, or something done. You say. “Well, I disagreed!” “I felt this or that! “Ok, so why not get with the person after service and ask about it? Why not find out more information? why not sit and talk about it? Problem is we don’t know how to “argue”, “disagree” or communicate and work things out. Principle: PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE, GOD IS GOD. People are not perfect. They make mistakes. That’s why forgiveness is so important in the church. Gossip, back biting, politicking, etc… have no place in the body of Christ. (Someone has to say this!)
  8. Practical suggestions:
    a.) Things change”. “I hate change!” “When will we quit changing things?” Well, there is nothing wrong with ‘change’ per se. We live in a world that changes fast. and the church can change in some areas too. “Progress” does not necessarily mean one is a “Progressive”. There are things that can be changed and some cannot. The gospel, Lord’s Supper, Baptism for remission of sins, are a few of the things which are ‘core’ issues and foundational. These are tied to our salvation. There are many things where we are free to use our good sense in deciding what is best for us or any local work. Every congregation does not have to ‘goose-step’ to be a part of the body of Christ.
    b.) “No Big Deal” It is surprising at the things we get upset over. Things that are “NBD”, but we make them Big.
    c.) “Compromise” It is not wrong to give and take, compromise, look for a ‘middle ground’ over things that are no big deal. Things where we are at liberty to act on behalf of what is best for the work here.
    d.) “Autonomy” Each congregation determines its own direction and method of outreach and operation under Christ.
    e.) “Consensus is good” i.e. “majority rules” In the absence of elders, we have to take a vote on things. Do it right the first time. Majority rules. That’s it. Don’t pout and quit if you don’t get your way. Personal preference and opinion is never congregational rule.

BOTTOM LINE- DON’T QUIT, Jesus didn’t quit on you.

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“I Quit” – (Part Five)

This article is part 5 of 7 in the series I Quit

The temptation to just throw up your hands and quit, is common to everyone trying to do something.

Obstacles can either make or break a persons deliberation to “go the distance”.

When I was a teenager, in Northern Ireland, going to the equivalent of our high school, (Methodist College Belfast)… I joined the track and field team. Our training in everything from high jump, to javelin throwing, was easy for me. The hardest was the running… Now I could run! Endurance was the problem. Run a short distance… no problem. Run a mile or two… now that was another question. The first quarter mile was no problem, only I had not learned the idea of pacing myself. I was ‘all out’ in the first quarter mile. Then something happened. The lead I had developed, slowly began to diminish. Not because the other kids we faster, but because they knew something about ‘pacing’ themselves. Soon the rest of the ‘field’ caught up with me, and passed me. I was ‘winded’ and had to slow down more. I was in trouble. Well, I ended up walking or slow jogging the rest of the way… but I finished.

I remember what dad said so often, “Finish what you start.” This is so important in the work of the family of God.
There was a congregation in the South where I was minister for a short time. Next to their building was a foundation, with some plumbing sticking up. It was for a new auditorium. Problem… THEY HAD NOT FINISHED IT. They started, but something happened, and they quit and left the project just like that. Problem… it was on a main road in town, and everyone drove by and saw this embarrassment.
Nothing wrong with planning, having a big challenging vision… just FINISH IT. GO THE DISTANCE.

Some things to help along the way:

  1. Prayer: Have time to get before God and pour out your hearts. When you have the ‘foundation’ laid, get together ‘on the foundation’, and pour out your hearts to God and pray some more. Pray for help, vision, strength to finish the journey.
  2. Commitment: I’m sorry, but many times commitments are short lived. We are committed till we have a problem, or obstacle. When we back out of a commitment, it shows something is mission. Perhaps we have been short sighted. Perhaps the planning has been weak. But when you commit yourself… finish the job.
  3. Patience: This is invaluable. The ability to go through the tough times, the times when things don’t go as smoothly as you would like. The ability to wait, and have a half way decent attitude about it. Read James letter chapter one. Patience. Whatever it is, you commit yourself to, understand and try and see and plan for obstacles that are coming up. But there is no crystal ball, or magic to let you know all the bends and turns in the road… Do the best you can… and finish.
  4. Forgiveness: The ability to forgive is so important when it comes to this subject. We have been forgiven. There is no way we can afford to allow someone to drag us back into the past, and once again feel unforgiven. But we have to be able to forgive ourselves and others along the way as well.

In order to ‘go the distance’ and not walk out, not quit… takes a determination that is solidly founded in the belief that the journey you are on, is worth it… Carrying the ‘baggage’ of the past will only weigh you down.

Don’t quit!!!


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“I Quit” – (Part Four) (Solutions)

This article is part 4 of 7 in the series I Quit

   Obviously, as long as a husband or wife or church member has in their minds, a ‘way of escape’ when the ‘hard times’ come… the probability of taking that way out is great. The ‘bigger’ Jesus is in your life, the less likely you are to ‘bail out’! We have to get this settled. We just don’t quit! Well, saying it, ‘don’t make it so!’ So how can we ‘make it so’?

In this and the next few articles we will be looking at: Prayer (Help me Lord!!), Commitment (we are ‘glued’ to each other), Patience (endurance / giving each other ‘elbow room’), Forgiveness (‘first stone’), Love (agape style), The Holy Spirit (Our Helper), Disagree if you must, BUT…, Practical suggestions like: “Things change”. Why? well, hopefully, these will give us at least some ideas on how to be stronger, “steadfast, unmovable, always abounding” in living the Christian life.

When dealing with each other, with all our differences and ‘baggage’, weakness, and weird ways, we need help. Sometimes we just can’t figure someone out.

Starting place should be prayer. Why?
1. Because of the example of Jesus, (Lk. 6:12; 11:1; 18:1; 22:32)
2. Because of the example of the Pentecost disciples, (Acts 1:14)
3. Because of the example of the early church, (Acts 4:23-31)
4. Because of the example of Paul, Col. 1:9-11

Prayer, has been and still is the great privilege and pathway to the Throne of God, through our Master, Jesus Christ. Does it work?! Absolutely! Can we pray enough? Well, what is enough?
Paul says, “Pray without ceasing.” Why? Because WE NEED TO. Come on, we are human, with failures, weakness, imperfection, needs, and not only us, but we also pray for others. James says, “Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray…. Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him…
And the prayer of faith shall save the sick… and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him … pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah… prayed earnestly, that it might not rain: and it rained not by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heavens gave rain… ” James 5:13-18
How can prayer help us not quit? Well, when you think of what goes on when you pray there are some things to keep in mind.
Prayer time is a time for you and God. A time when humility is a must. A time when you need not hide anything from Him. (He knows your hurts and secrets anyway.) Usually it is most helpful when you are alone and can simply pour out your heart to Him. If you are struggling with bitterness, and hate, or jealousy, or perhaps just upset over brother or sister ______, or the leadership… Pray for them. This is much better than gossiping about them. Ask God to bless them because they are your brother and sister. Ask God to help you to understand their situation or problem. Ask God to guard your own heart from bitterness and hate. ASK HIM ANYTHING… BUT ASK!
Prayer is a positive move, a cry in faith. Somehow, when you are genuine and real in your prayers, it helps you. It lightens the ‘load’ you have been carrying. However, you have to trust Him. Know for sure, He will do something. It may not be in your time frame (like NOW), BUT He will act. He is just waiting for you to ask. To trust. To lean on him. To humble yourself.
Prayer can help you not quit. But you have to trust Him, and try not to rush into something you may regret. Prayer slows down reactions, and helps us wait on the Lord, and He will show you the right time, and give you the right words. A quick explosive temper, NEVER… NEVER… has good results.

It usually results in hurt feelings… and regrets….


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“I Quit” – (Part Three)

This article is part 3 of 7 in the series I Quit

Why do people quit, in homes and in church families? Whatever the reason for walking out or quitting, IT HURTS. In homes, everyone gets hurt. In church families, everyone gets hurt. This in itself should be a deterrent, but still in the USA, the divorce rate is still 50%, and in church families, well just look at the situation with congregations you know.

Now NOT ALL church families ‘divorce’, some happily grow and decide that they want to further their outreach by establishing another congregation across town. Praise God for this. They have learned, to accept each other, and that differences are ok. They have learned that opinions are just not worth a ‘fight’. They have learned to focus on the WHAT, that Jesus commands, instead of the HOW, that He does not specify.

THE WORLD IS LOST. Jesus weeps over this. However, too many have lost sight of this, and have gotten caught up in church family squabbles.

Another reason people quit… is the break down of COMMUNICATION. (There should be a loud AMEN to this.) Both in out homes, and church families, there should be great COMMUNICATION. People want to feel they are important, and their opinion counts. This does NOT mean they should expect to get their way. “People should have a say, but they cannot always have their way.”

Thus we come to the point that someone has to make a decision. Hopefully due to COMMUNICATION, the best decision will be made. “Two heads are better than one” and this is why there should always be a plurality of elders or leaders. This is why before one gets married or before a congregation selects leaders, good communication is in order, and must continue.

What causes COMMUNICATION to break down? Pride (“I am right all the time” “My way or the hi-way” idea.) Gossip (whether it be by email or by mouth), Lack of listening on the part of either ‘side’ (loss of objectivity), (openness), fear of sitting face to face and talking, hot tempers (impatience). There are other things I am sure that can be listed.

COMMUNICATION is invaluable to the survival of our homes and church family. COMMUNICATING is critical…

When COMMUNICATION breaks down what should we do? Well, first of all, look at ourselves. How have I contributed to the problem? Am I being proud, selfish, UNAPPROACHABLE BECAUSE OF MY TEMPER, afraid to sit and talk? Am I open to some other view point, and humble enough to accept the fact that I may not get my way? Do I walk out? Quit? Why?

Having done this, spend time in prayer, and try and gain proper perspective on the situation. With a humble spirit, just go and speak to the person, or people you need to.

Re: Leadership…

1. Encourage people to say what’s on their mind.
2. Treat their opinions with respect.
3. Be open to these opinions (APPROACHABLE) and weigh them against the will of God, and pray about it.
4. Decide whether something is
a.) No Big Deal … compromise is ok
b.) A BIG deal… compromise may not be ok.
c.) Biblical, Un-Biblical, Non-Biblical

(Biblical: Good! follow scriptures.)

(UN BIBLICAL: Bad! follow the scriptures.)

(NON BIBLICAL: MAYBE! freedom to do what is best for us).

5. Be patient and remember, THINGS CHANGE…

6. Don’t be in a hurry…

All in all, we must always be careful to guard our lifeline, major life giving artery of being able and willing to have open and free, Christian communication. Being mindful of each others feelings. The idea, “We don’t need him/her”, has NO PART IN THE BODY OF CHRIST. Paul spoke about the body of Christ in I Cor. 12… “The eye cannot say to the hand, “I DON’T NEED YOU!”, And the head (leadership) cannot say to the feet, “I DON’T NEED YOU!” On the contrary, those parts which SEEM to be weaker are INDISPENSABLE…” vss 21-26.

“What would Jesus do?” This will answer all questions on communication. DON’T QUIT


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