Life is Hard!

I am a strong believer that God uses everything that happens in life to teach us something about Himself if we will just listen to His Spirit and allow Him to instruct us. Then I search God’s Word to see what God has specifically said regarding what the Spirit has impressed upon my mind.

I am a pen turner and I love to work at my lathe. I have learned many things about life as I work at my lathe. Each step of the process in turning a piece of wood or antler into a pen is painful to the material with which I am working. The process includes cutting, drilling, shaping, sanding, polishing, friction, and pressure. But when the process is complete the material has been transformed; it has new beauty, value, and purpose. Something of little value now has greater value, all because it endured a painful process! Life is full of difficulties and it easy to become overwhelmed. But there is a purpose behind each hardship; they are all part of a process to shape and mold us into some of greater value and purpose. My desire in writing this blog is to encourage and maybe stir up some conversation with the lessons that God has been teaching me through the painful process of life. Life is hard, but God is good. May He continue working His process in my life.

If you are going to read any of my posts be sure to ready "Introduction to Lessons from the Lathe". In that post I lay out the basis for all the other blogs.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Meditations from Romans 5:1-11

Romans 5:1-11, tell us three times that because we are justified by faith and have peace with God are to rejoice.

Rejoice in the promise of the hope of God's glory: We are to rejoice in the hope of the glory of God (5:2.) God is at work in our lives transforming us into the image of Christ. He will continue you the work until completion (Philippians 1:6.)

Rejoice in the process of God's glory: We are to rejoice in suffering (5:3.) Suffering is the process through which God produces our glorification: suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. God works all things together for good for those who love God; He is using all things to conform us to the image of Christ

Rejoice in the Person of God's glory: We rejoice in God because He is the one who reconciled us through The Lord Jesus Christ (5:11.) Philippians 2:13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. 

At times I allow my frustration with my health to cause me to lose my hope. I take my eyes off the fact of the justification that God has worked in my life through the death of Jesus Christ. He purchase my salvation through His blood. You have taken away my filthy rags and placed on me His perfect righteousness. Because of the justification, I have hope in the promise of glorification; God is at work in my life. I will be glorified; that is my eternal destination. Romans 8:29-30 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 

Justification is a one time transaction; it is done, I have been justified. Sanctification / glorification is a process that occurs over time. It is a process that involves pain but produces the fruit of righteousness. God will work all things together for good, including difficulties and disappointments

God is the One Who is at work in my life. It is His plan, His promise, His purpose to transform me for His glory. 

He Who Began a Good Work In You
He who began a good work in you
He who began a good work in you
Will be faithful to complete it
He'll be faithful to complete it
He who started the work
Will be faithful to complete it in you

If the struggle you're facing
Is slowly replacing
Your hope with despair
Or the process is long
And you're losing your song
In the night you can be sure
That the Lord has His hand on you
Safe and secure
He will never abandon you
You are His treasure
And He finds His pleasure in you 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Deer Antler Clip Point Scout Knife

Now available on Etsy and Ebay:

Ihttps://www.etsy.com/listing/158909690/deer-antler-handled-clip-point-scout

http://www.ebay.com/itm/330981847597?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649


Monday, August 5, 2013

Pens, Knives, or Dog Chew; Who Decides?

Pen, Knife, or Dog Chew; Who Decides?

Over the years I have accumulated many sections of antler that just won't work for pen making. They are just too large, too curved, too small, or in some other don't fit the requirements necessary for making a pen. I have often thought, "What am I going to do with all these antler section?"

Awhile ago I started cutting the pieces that were too big into smaller sections and began selling them as dog chews; I felt it was better for them to be chewed on that to sit in shop collecting dust. But as I cut there were some that were just too nice; I couldn't see such beautiful material being destroyed. So I did some research into knife making and decided that I would give it a try. I like the results so far; you can check them out on my Steiner Gifts and More Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/steinergiftsandmore.

From the same antler I can create a pen, a knife, or a dog chew. The pen has beauty, value, and purpose. People enjoy the unique look and feel of an antler pen. They are willing to pay good money to own one. The antler-handled knife is much desired and sought after by deer hunting enthusiasts and outdoorsmen. Yet the dog chew has no less value and purpose than the knife or the pen. Each has value, each has purpose; even if it just to meet the need of a dog for something to chew on!

As I thought about this I was reminded of an early "Lesson from the Lathe"

Why did you make me this way?
September 24, 2009 at 11:19am

I find myself asking God that far too often. It is a habit I picked up as a child and have carried over into my adult life. “Why am I so fat?” “Why am I so uncool?” “Why am I so emotional?” “Why I am I so…?” The list goes on and on! Lately the “whys” have been in regard to my health, my career or lack thereof, and my family.

I was reading in Isaiah 45 this morning, “What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’ Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be?’ How terrible it would be if a newborn baby said to its father, ‘Why was I born?’ or if it said to its mother, ‘Why did you make me this way?’”

When I work in the shop with antlers, I am the one who determines what I am going to make from a particular antler. Some will be slim line pens, others signature pens, and some will be fancy quill pens. I will look at the natural characteristics of each antler and determine how best to use it. Those antlers that refuse to submit to my will end up in the scrap pile where they stay until I can determine some other use for them.

I don’t want to end up in God’s scrap pile, waiting for some second choice purpose. I want to experience all that God has designed for me. Father, help me to stop complaining and start submitting to Your plan. I have learned that the process of becoming what You desire is not always easy or pleasant. The process involves painful cutting away and drill out of things that don’t belong. It involves course sanding to smooth away all the imperfections.

When I finish a pen, I take great pride in the way it turns out. When that pen is purchased and put to its intended purpose there is great joy. When someone looks at that pen and admires my workmanship there is satisfaction. I wonder if I am bringing as much satisfaction to God?

The process may be painful but in the end it will be worth it! Until then I need to ask a little less “why”!

Over the next few days I want to share some further thoughts regarding God's sovereignty, God's process and attention to detail, and fulfilling God's purpose. Here area few portions of scripture that I will be considering:

Isaiah 45
Jeremiah 29:11
Jeremiah 18
Romans 9;20-24
2 Timothy 2:20-21

God is good.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Meditations from Belaying at the Rock Wall

I volunteer at a youth camp during the summer, this year one of the assignments that I have been given is to belay at the rock wall. Belaying is defined as "a variety of techniques climbers use to exert friction on a climbing rope so that a falling climber does not fall very far.[1] A climbing partner typically applies friction at the other end of the rope whenever the climber is not moving, and removing the friction from the rope whenever the climber needs more rope to continue climbing." (Wikipedia)

As the climber approaches the wall, he asks, "Belay on?" To which the belayer replies, after insuring that the rope is in the belay device properly, "Belay is on." The climber will then say, "Climbing," to signify that he is about to begin his ascent. And the belayer replies, "Climb on," acknowledging that he is ready to watch the climber climb, take up slack in the rope, and lock it in the belay device as the climber ascends ensuring that, if the climber should lose his hold and fall, he won't fall far. The belayers job is not to pull the climber up the wall, nor can he ensure that the climber will not lose his grip and fall; his job is to make sure that the fall is not to fast or too far so that the climber does not get seriously hurt.

As the climber ascends the wall the belayer watches his progress, giving encouragement and pointing out footholds that the climber can't see. He needs to be attentive at all times. He needs to be on task; he cannot let his mind wander.

What a picture of what God does in our life each day, at every moment of the day! We should begin each morning with our prayer, "Belay on?" God, I am about to start a new day; I know that I am going to face difficulties and challenges. Would You please reassure me of Your presence in my life? To which the scriptures reply, "Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you.I will hold you up with my victorious right hand," Isaiah 41:10. We can begin today's ascent knowing that God is always ready, willing and able to help me through anything that I may face.

The climb will not be easy. I will have to find my toe and hand holds, another great topic for meditation at another time. I will have to exert the effort to push and pull myself up the wall I must climb that day. I may loss my grip, slip, and fall but God has me secure. I will not fall faster nor farther that He allows.

I can face the day with confidence and courage. I can enthusiastically face the challenges of the day because God is my belay. "Climb on!"

"Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault." Jude 1:24

"I will never fail you.I will never abandon you.” Hebrews 13:5

Friday, June 14, 2013

The "For Such A Time As This" Moment

I have some mahogany in my shop that was given to me about five years ago. I have it all been trimmed to the proper size for pen making and stacked in a bin in my shop. It is ready whenever I choose to use it.

Recently I desired to make a couple of inexpensive pens that I could give away. So I selected a couple of pieces of the mahogany from my inventory and created a number of very nice, inexpensive pens. They were just what I had in mind.

As I was working on at the lathe, I couldn't help but ask myself why I hadn't used this wood sooner. It was mine, it was the right size, it was good wood, and the finished product looked nice. The only answer that I could come up with was that I just hadn't desired to use it until this point. I hadn't forgotten about the mahogany, I hadn't neglected it, or given up on it. I just wasn't ready to use it; I didn't have a purpose for it at that time. But when I was ready to use it, it was there in the bin just waiting to be chosen.

Sometime I get impatient waiting for God to finish what He is doing in my life, or at least make visible progress. There are times when it feels like He is not working at all and , like that mahogany, I am just sitting in His workshop waiting. It gets really discouraging.

What I need to be thankful for is that I am in God's workshop! He has chosen me and made me His own. I need to remember that God is the craftsman; He decides what He will make and when He will make it. I am the material from which He will create His workmanship. The role of the material is just to be available when the craftsman chooses to use it.

What encouragement this lesson gave me. I am His; He is not done with me yet. What conviction I felt for being impatient and questioning God. Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." When it feels that God has forgotten you and that you'll never amount to much, remember that God is the master craftsman. He has a plan and a purpose. Don't get weary in the waiting. Be ready when God reaches for you; be ready for your "such a time as this" moment. Esther 4:14 And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” And always remember Philippians 1:6, "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Renewal of passion

What was it about turning pens that I was so passionate about when I first began crafting them? It was seeing something beautiful created from something that was unattractive and dead. It stirred my heart because it was such a reminder to me of God's work in my life. The process was hard but the end product had new beauty, value, and purpose! I couldn't wait to get in the shop each day to be reminded that God was still working in my life. I couldn't wait to be reminded that everything that was happening in my life was just part of the process of God conforming me to the image of Christ.

It wasn't so much the making of the pens that I was passionate about, it was the sharing of the lessons that God had taught me in the shop. It was being able to say to people going through a difficult time that the Master Craftsman knows what He is doing; be patient because the finished product will be worth the pain of the process. I was able to share it because I was experiencing it daily in my life; as God used my cancer, loss of job, and financial difficulties shape me and mold me. I could honestly say, "God is good." It was my daily prayer of praise!

Somewhere in the past couple of years, I lost my passion. I lost sight of the fact that God knows what He is doing and I began to question His choices for my life. Romans 9:20 says, "Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, 'Why have you made me like this?'" I was asking that question a lot!

But as Philippians 1:6, reminds us, "God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns." God has faithfully continued to work in my life and He has been restoring to me a vision for His purpose for my life. I may question how much longer I must continue to spin on the lathe, but I can trust the Master. He won't leave me on the lathe any longer than necessary to complete the work.

This weekend I was speaking to a friend and they encouraged me to begin writing again. I am not sure if anyone even will read my posts anymore. I have been so inconsistent over the past two years that I may have lost any credibility that I had. I don't know if I can even put thoughts down in a way that makes sense or is interesting to read. But, God willing, as He teaches me new lessons, I will share them on this blog.

God is good.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Lessons from Dirty Filters

I have two vacuums in my shop. One I use to collect the dust from my lathe; the other I use to collect dust from my band saw and to sweep the floors. I should say that I had two shop vacuums, one died recently. I am ashamed to say that it died because I was not a good steward of my resources. I hate cleaning the filters! It is a dirty, dusty job that takes away from the time you have to actually work at the lathe. I like to make things, not clean filters. I usually try to brush the filters after each day's use to remove the dust build up and keep the performance of my vacuum up to par. I have four filters and could easily change them daily. But recently I was just too lazy. I let the filter go uncleaned for weeks at a time. I'd change a dirty one with a clean one but not clean the one I had taken off and soon all the filters were dirty. But I just kept on working with a dirty filter. Sure I noticed a decrease in performance but most of the dust was still being sucked up. Then the vacuum started making funny noises and I realized that I better start cleaning the filter again. But it was too late for that vacuum, the clogged filter had caused the motor to work extra hard until it burnt out. I am ashamed of myself for being so lazy. I hate to even share this story but I believe there is a deeper lesson to be learned. My life is like a shop vacuum. The filters must be cleaned daily to keep my motor running right. We live in a sinful world and there is a lot of dust and debris that sweeps into our minds and lives. If we are not careful to clean our filters daily we are setting ourselves up for a fall. Romans 12:2 says, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind." 1 John 1:9 say that "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." The daily cleansing that I need in order to keep my filters from clogging to the point of allowing my motor to burn out is available. All I have to do is take the time to ask God to clean them by renewing my mind, confessing my sin and repenting. This past year has been a particularly rough one for me. My "motor" was operating at less than full capacity, in fact it was spitting and sputtering and making all kinds of funny noises. God had to remind me to clean my "filters". It is not easy to share my failures and shortcomings. But if God can use the foolishness of my burnt out shop vac to remind you to keep your life right with God, then I am happy to humble myself and share my stupidity. I am taking the time each day to clean the filters on my shop vacuum and, God willing, I can keep my remaining vacuum running for a long time. I am also taking the time to clean the filters of my life; keeping a short account of sins with The Lord, and that has made all the difference! God is good. Scott