Saturday, January 12, 2019

Cast Iron

A few weeks ago, I seasoned some new cast iron frying pans.  Sarah had received them for her birthday about 6 months ago and they have been moved from place to place around the house, so as to keep them “out of the way.”  You know how it is, when the family room is full of toys?  You can’t walk through the room without stepping on a Lego with a bare foot and screaming a soprano, “Owie, owie, owie…I have been impaled by a miniature building block!” Thus, in order to get things “out of the way,” you cram all of the toys into the hall closet.  There…now it is out of the way…until you need to open the closet…then suddenly…there is a vast array of items that become “in the way.”

These pans became “in the way,” next to my bed for a couple of month, until I had stubbed all 10 toes evenly…then it was time to get them OUT of the way.  Before I could put them away…where they belonged…they needed to be seasoned…so that they could be used.

I turned to Youtube.  I began searching for a video of how to season cast iron pans.  After being distracted, John Crist videos, top NFL plays, and guitar playing techniques…I found Martha Stewart demonstrating how to season a cast iron pan.  

I followed Martha’s instructions…heated the oven…greased the pans…inside and out.  I placed the pans into the oven and set the timer.  A short time later the house was filled with a haze and what Sarah was insisting as a “toxic odor.”  Apparently, we should have invested in some respirators before beginning this project.  If I ever make my own Youtube video of how to season cast iron pans…I will include this small detail. 

We suffered though the evening…and even the overnight hours…and thankfully STILL woke up…although our voices were hoarse and scratchy.  The suffering odor lingered for a couple of days…and even longer when we would use either the oven…or the pans.

Today I am happy to say that our suffering is over…at least in regards to the frying pans.
The Bible is filled with stories of suffering…especially in the New Testament.  In fact, you can find an expression of suffering…and a call to follow suit in every New Testament book!

In 1 Peter 4, we find this expressed clearly.  Here, Peter says that we are to “Serve” the Lord…by taking on the same mindset of Christ.  Serving the Lord is difficult.  In fact, the original Hebrew word used in the Old Testament for serving is the same word that would be used to refer to “cultivating” the ground as a farmer would.  It is work…and with that work…is hardship…suffering.  We are to serve the Lord…by suffering the way that Christ suffered.  That doesn’t exactly sound like my “Best life now!” It sounds difficult.  However, when we suffer for the cause of Christ…we can be confident in this...we must be doing something right if Satan sees us worthy to persecute.  Thus…I will proclaim the name of Jesus…even in the midst of suffering.  Then, I can say confidently…my best life is yet to come!  With Him forever!

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Skipping Stones

I stepped into my son’s room this past May, and I observed a stone sitting on his dresser. A week later, the stone was still there.  In fact, the stone remained on his dresser until June, when I finally asked him, “What is the deal with this rock on your dresser?”

“I found it…I have been saving it.”

“Where did you find it?”

“I don’t remember.”

“Really!? What are you saving it for?

“I have been saving it to take it up to the cabin…so I can skip it.”

Our trip to northern Minnesota was in early August.  Before we left, I was sweeping though the house, turning off all of the lights that had been left on.  As I came to his room to turn off his light, I saw his stone.  I picked it up and slid it into my pocket…and then we left.

“Did you remember your stone?” I asked, as we began driving.

“Oh, man!...No I forgot it!”

“Well good thing for you…I remembered!” I must be an amazing father…or perhaps just as simple minded as he.

He planned on skipping the stone on the first really calm evening of our week’s vacation at the cabin. It was perhaps the second evening of the week that appeared to meet all of the criteria.

After saving a stone like this for so long…and for such a specific purpose, it only seemed reasonable to record it.  We pulled out the iPhone to forever embed this pivotal moment of a 12 year old boy’s journey to…more boyhood.  After a brief introduction as to where the stone was found…how long it had been saved…and the current intention of skipping the “perfect” rock…the time came.  My son wound up…launched the stone…which skipped once…twice…and flipped…and sunk 10 feet away.  Game over.

That was anticlimactic.

Two days later I was braving the water as I slowly edged into the water deeper and deeper.  I am not the “dash and splash” kind of guy. I torturously inch in…step by step…allowing the icy water to painfully cut into my tender white flesh.  The cold water was just reaching my navel when I looked down to see a stone near my feet.  I couldn’t reach down to pick it up with my hands…that would get my chest and arms miserably wet.  Instead, I reached and grasped the stone with my foot…I happen to have exceptional toe dexterity.  I pulled the stone out of the water…and wouldn’t you know…it was the same stone that my son had saved for all of those months…and failed to skip successfully. 

“Isaac! I found your stone!”

“Seriously!? How did you do that?”

“Either I am amazing or just lucky”

“I am going to go with lucky.”

“Fair enough”

During the Jewish New Year…Rosh Hashanah…there is a tradition.  This tradition includes taking some time to solemnly reflect on the previous year.  It is intended that this reflection will reveal areas in your life where you fell short…messed up…sinned.  Upon the completion of the reflection…a person would stand next to a body of water…bend over…pick up a stone…and throw the stone out as far as they could into the water.  This would symbolize the “new mercy” that was offered by God.  It reflected their desire to be different for the upcoming year. 

How often have we wanted to take our mistakes and launch them into the sea…to never deal with them again…only to find that somehow they come back…still plaguing us.  We think we have rid ourselves of sins only to find them once again, sitting in our hand, needing to be thrown out again.  It’s the story of our lives…like a hamster on an exercise wheel.  Is it hopeless?


Two comforts come to mind.  Hebrews 8:12 says, “God will forgive us of our sins…and remember them no more,” and Revelation 21:4, “God will wipe away every tear from our eyes…and there will be no more death and dying, crying or pain…the old way has passed away…and the new has come.”

On the final night of our vacation, we tried again.  Again, this one was recorded as well.  This next attempt was a glorious success.  The stone flew from his hand and glided across the surface of the water, coming to rest some fifty plus feet away…there was no way I would find this stone again.
As you begin this New Year…may you find a time to reflect.  May you come to see your own transgressions…and repent as necessary.  Yet, may you also come to see that Jesus has atoned for our sins…and he has cast them out so far…that not even he remembers them.