In Which I Want Your Thoughts and Comments.

I’m going to be preaching again on the 27th at our Saturday night service.

As part of my preparation, I want to try something new and start a conversation here, maybe get some input from the six people who regularly stop by.

Here’s the random brainstorm that I sent to our team; if you have any ideas, questions, reading suggestions, deep thoughts, shallow thoughts, links, etc., I welcome your comments.

Basically, I want to show and tell my rock collection.

rocks

I’m really pulling this out of thin air right now, but there are many references in scripture to stones, rocks, and how they represent something important, or meaningful, or worthy of remembrance. I have no idea yet how this will all tie together . . .

I have a rock collection on my desk here at work, and I was looking at them tonight and thinking about what they represent. One isΒ  a stone that I broke out of the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, one is a piece of brick from a building that was destroyed in the Oklahoma City bombing, one is from a little ghost town in the Nevada desert where my grandfather lived while working as a carpenter building casinos in Reno, and one is a tile from the kitchen of one of the houses destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

Each one represents something specific to me, something either directly related to the location or to the events. (Example: the brick from Oklahoma City represents to me a responsibility to always seek the truth, because when people start believing rumors and conspiracy theories, it can lead down some pretty dark paths.)

As I started writing a blog post about them, it started kind of expanding into spiritual meanings and deeper things, and it would be a good opportunity to use some multimedia/video to aid with the storytelling, etc., etc.

I haven’t selected a scripture passage yet; I have a lot to choose from. I hope to get that part nailed down in the next couple of days. There are a lot of examples in scripture of people erecting stones/pillars/etc. as a means of remembrance or marking something significant that God was doing/had done. That’s the general direction I’m moving in . . . let the discussion begin!

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23 Comments

Filed under faith, writings

23 responses to “In Which I Want Your Thoughts and Comments.

  1. Sister Darbi

    I should be cleaning the kitchen, so of COURSE I’ll read your blog!

    The first thing that ran through my mind when I saw your picture was that cheezy Psalty the Psinging Psongbook song from family camp we sang about 25 years ago, “Don’t build your house on the sandy land, don’t build it too near the shore; Well it might look kind of nice, but you’ll have to build it twice, so you’ll have to build your house once more. You better build your house upon The Rock, make a firm foundation on the solid spot; Oh the storms may come and go, but the Peace of God you will know.” While we youngins sang that, the 5th & 6th graders came in with (hopeful) harmony singing the old hymn “Rock of Ages”. Lots of things about rocks there.

    Taking this literally, I have no experience. But I’ll bet it was gut wrenching for those who survived Katrina to decide where to re-build thier homes. Further inland on “the rock” or back on the riskier shore- perhaps even trusting that God couldn’t possibly let them suffer like that…again. So there’s that.

    Then there’s granite. This week I’ve had the experience of designing and ordering a headstone for the grave of my children. Why do I do this to mark the place of thier bodies when we know their souls are dancing with Jesus? Because everyone else does. Because I’m afraid that if I don’t leave a permanent stone with their names on it and something happens to me, people will forget they were here. And that’s a stupid reason. Because who in the world is going to say, “Hey, I’ve got some time to kill (poor choice of words), I’m going to go write down some names from the cemetary and google them and find out about their story just for kicks and giggles!” But really, America, (I’m about to get all Bernie Mac) if that’s what the stone is about, at $1400 a pop, don’t you think we Christians could come up with something a little cooler than a bunch of square rocks in a field? How about like ending world hunger in the name of Cliff Jones? Something like that?

  2. Ok, I’m really tired right now, so some of this might not make any sense, who knows lol. The first thing that came to my mind was the thing about when the Israelites crossed the Jordan River and God told them to make a landmark of twelve stones so that when other generations would see that they would ask about it and they would tell them about what God did for them. Ok, yeah, that may be totally wrong, but it’s 1am and I’m a bit out of my mind lol.

  3. Sister: Thanks for the punch in the gut to start out this conversation. (big brother hug) Maybe death is the only thing that we, in our culture, deem worthy of this level of remembrance.

    Which leads me to . . .

    Kid: That’s exactly the kind of stuff I’m thinking of. They had this concept of building this foundation for future generations and marking where God had worked among them that I don’t think we have in our culture today.

    Other than death (whether tombstones or memorials), is there anything our society seems to value in a similar way?

  4. Aunt Great Step Somebody Sue

    Paul, I’m so proud of you! I love your creativity and your invitation for others to help in your sermon process. The traditional 3-point sermon,
    with all the points starting with the same letter,
    just doesn’t cut it for everyone. Sometimes it
    takes something very non-traditional to get through our heads to our hearts.
    I’ve only had 1/2 cup of coffee so far this morning, but I immediately thought of our dear
    elderly Bible study leader, Ruby, who is now in
    Heaven and her references to people of Bible times
    stacking up rocks at the side of the road to
    memorialize important events. I don’t remember
    where the scripture is (but you’re the pastor–you
    can look it up or you know it by heart?!), but Ruby
    would continue to talk about how we, even now,
    need to figuratively stack up rocks as monuments
    on our journey of life. If I come up with anything
    else, post-coffee, I’ll write back. Love, Sue

  5. Ax Grinder

    We all build on some kind of rock, usually multiple types – a mosaic of foundational rocks, when God calls us to build on THE ROCK, not ‘a’ rock.

    Also, the Hebrews left piles of rocks around the countryside to signify what God had done, what had happened, etc. and the majority involved some sort of pain – so I found it ironic that most of your stones have reference to pain as well.

  6. becky bodey

    hey – just some things floating in my head:

    souveniers (if that’s how you spell it) that’s sort of what the rocks are to you…reminders of where you’ve been…or places that your family has been – makers of your travels – and what happened there – maybe not cheesy like decorative tea spoons, but momento’s to cause you to recall the story of where you’ve been. I suppose people do that in differnt ways in our culture…in all cultures it evolving. look at the knick knacks some folks have, or like our family….the pictures and yearbooks, and ball caps, and t-shirts and ticket stubs and sea shells, … perhaps not always ‘where God met us’ but they tell our story…our families story and God is there. I don’t know that they are the same, just thinking out loud. Also, the difference is that we take things with us…ie your rocks, but biblically they left them behind…didn’t weigh themselves down with momento to remember – just trusted that when they would pass that way again they would remember what God had done there. Is that why people carve their names on trees and sketch them on bathroom walls. same human desire to see something that was significant to them – remembered after they were gone. Honestly even in history – if a fellow traveler came upon a pile of stones and didn’t know the story…it was really just a pile of stones – it is the story that the stones invoke that is of deepest importance…and that comes long term only by telling the story….it’s the story…the God that is told of in our stories that seems to transform lives thru the ages…the stones the alters, the grave stones, the monuments, the kitch, and coffee mugs, the notes we’ve tried to take, even the increasing cultural draw towards tattoos and piercings maybe somehow connected. They certainly are in other cultures – National Geographic exists because of it.

    another thought…I was at a conference once (Intimate Life I think) anyway a guest speaker shared about way she remembered what God was doing in her life – answered prayers, blessings, lessons, kindnesses, significant conversations and life changing occurances – by placing a small stone (which she had pre-purchased at a craft store) into a rectangular glass vase – she would write on the stone, or journal what it signified offer a prayer of thanksgiving – it became like a alter of thanksgiving – and it reminded her of what God has done and His presence in her journey. might be a neat closing act of worship – to give everyone or allow them to go and select a rock and then choose a apace on the church grounds that they can go and place them as a act of rememberance – they could need to stay there for 4 -6 weeks at least and they could even bring them back another time if they can’t think of why they would leave them now. The rocks could signify their commitment to look for God in their story and in the story of others…. The rocks could signify gratitude, or a new start, or any number of things you choose.

    Our staff here @ crossroads created a covenant together concerning the way we wanted to live and love one another as a team….and went for a hike on our own to pray and ask God to grow us up into all we longed to be…. and on that hike we each picked up a stone and came back together to worship and placed our rocks collectively at the base of a tree with a copy of the covenant – we returned there again this summer – the rocks were still there at the base of that tree and we remembered… what we had hoped and prayed for, what we had promised – we talked about where we had struggled and where we had seen and experienced Gods graciousness through one another. It is for me a challenge and a blessing – sweet and heavy… I think that’s okay — I think God is in all of it.

  7. jefficus

    If we’re talking of physical markers to something or someone impressive, it’s pretty common that we have lots of nationalistic/patriotic markers. We have tons of site’s marked out to commemorate things like important battles, important decisions, and importnat places that have help our nation become the nation that it is.

    And this probably connects more directly to the Israelite penchant for altar/marker building than I initially thought, because, well, the Israelites were a people who became a nation and these markers were huge in helping them remember the important events that formed them as God’s chosen people.

    Gen 28 has the story of Jacob’s Ladder with the angels going up and down and Jacob turns his rock pillow into an altar.
    And I thought the story of jacob wrestling an angel also involved an altar, but I was wrong. Though it does involve renaming the place where the brawl happened (peniel – because he saw god face to face and yet was spared) and a funky dietary practice where the don’t eat the hip socket anymore. Though are hip sockets really all that good for eating?

    But i’ve been wracking my brain and failing so far to think of a place in the New Testament that involves a commemorative name or structure like we’ve been talking about. Except communion, but that seems different.

  8. You started with a collection of rocks, and the conversation has evolved into the idea of “stones.”

    So I looked up stone on one of those nifty Bible verse websites, and made a couple of connections.

    The first one is that the word stone appears all the way through the Bible, in positive and negative contexts. Lots of stone monuments in order to tell stories – today is September 11th, and the stone memorial at the Pentagon is completed, I believe. Other verses talk of someone being stoned for one reason or another. Jesus talks about a stone instead of bread in Matthew 7:9, and Angels roll a stone away from his tomb.

    My other connection was this verse:
    Matthew 18:6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him that a huge millstone should be hung around his neck, and that he should be sunk in the depths of the sea.

    Mostly it scares the crap out of me…but millSTONE caught my attention.

    Here are a couple of verses that I associate with stone, but I don’t think the first one mentions the word at all:
    Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (New International Version)
    4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. [a] 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

    Proverbs 3:3 (New International Version)
    3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
    bind them around your neck,
    write them on the tablet of your heart.

    And let’s not forget the 10 commandments, written on stone tablets.

    Basically, if you want to remember something, etch it in stone. That would make books really heavy, and what does that say about email?

  9. Mel (wise one)

    I just wanted to stop by and say your guys “rock”. HI BECKY!! hey there kelly, hi Sue, and love you sister. I am in the middle of trying to get dinner on for the boys and getting to a meeting at church so I have no time for deep thoughts and crap like that. I just saw people I love and wanted to say hi.

    Darbi, I was thinking about what you said about headstones. I think Becky hit it on the head (cause she is awesome) when she said that they serve as a reminder of what God has done. I know that in the lives of Hope and Carter God did amazing things, through them and through you through them. I think memorializing them is more then just wanting to remember them but to say “look these are my children and look what God has done for them and through them, God was here even in these times that we think of as less then amazing, that God is here through the darkest times of our lives”. I think that is why we do it, as well as wanting the world to remember that they were here as you said, which in no way is a selfish thing. By the way if anything ever goes happen to you I promise to remember them πŸ™‚ I can be their God parent like you are to mine.

    Becky we have something we are working for you here on Pauls site, I will let you know when you should come back and look at it.

    Love you! Mel/sister

  10. Diane Eide

    It’s funny you mentioned the topic of rocks.
    Larry & I were recently on a retreat where
    a pastor was sharing with us what he learned about the 23d Psalm while he
    toured Israel.
    Here are just some thoughts I jotted down
    regarding rocks.
    Shepherds throw rocks in front of sheep to
    spook them if they don’t want them heading
    a certain direction. Sheep don’t look up…
    they listen & follow the Shepherd’s voice.
    Maybe that is how David became such an
    accurate “Rock” thrower.
    Rocks are compared to harden hearts.
    Jesus was a stone mason.
    He then hadus go outside & pick up a rock. In the Middle east some carry their rock to
    represent their day. As you hold it in your
    hand or take it with you, it is to remind
    you to handle your day you have been
    given. I put my rock in my Bible:o)

  11. Adamski

    a few random thoughts from my muscially-infested brain:

    1. I begin with Dylan, Bob:

    Once upon a time you dressed so fine
    You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didnt you?
    Peopled call, say, beware doll, youre bound to fall
    You thought they were all kiddin you
    You used to laugh about
    Everybody that was hangin out
    Now you dont talk so loud
    Now you dont seem so proud
    About having to be scrounging for your next meal.

    How does it feel
    How does it feel
    To be without a home
    Like a complete unknown
    Like a rolling stone?

    2. How about the stone that was rolled away……(a band I think called 3 crosses sang a song: “the stone was rolled away; you know you’ll never find the living among the dead”)

    3. Are The Rolling Stones a living metaphor for eternal life?

    4. From my favorite musical – Godspell – lyrics from the song:
    By My Side:

    Where are you going? Where are you going?
    Can I take you with me? For my hand is cold,
    And needs warmth where are you going?

    Far beyond where the horizon lies, where the horizon lies.
    And the land sinks, sinks mellow blueness,
    Oh, please take me with you.
    Let me skip the rope with you, I can dare myself
    I can dare myself.
    I’ll put a pebble in my shoe, watch me walk.
    I can walk, I can walk.

    I shall call the pebble dare.
    We will talk together, about walking.
    Dare shall be carried and when we both have had enough,
    I will take you from my shoes saying, ‘meet your new road’.
    Then I’ll take your hand, finally glad, you are here.

    By my side, by my side, by my side.

    5. Big Tent Revival – Two Sets of Jones’:
    This here’s a song about two sets of Jones’
    Rothchild, Evelyn, Rueben, and Sue

    And just for discussion through random selection
    We’ve chosen two couples who haven’t a clue

    Rothchild was lucky to marry so wealthy,
    Evelyn bought him a house on the beach.

    Rueben and Sue, they had nothing but Jesus
    And at night they would pray that he would care for them each

    Chorus:
    And the rain, came down,
    And it blew the forewalls down
    And the clouds they rolled away
    And one set of Jones’, was standing that day

    Evelyn’s daddy was proud of young Rothchild,
    He worked the late hours to be number one
    Just newly weds and their marriage got rocky,
    He’s flying to Dallas, she’s having a son.

    Rueben was holding, a Giddeon’s Bible,
    And he screamed “it’s a boy” so that everyone heard
    And the guys at the factory took a collection,
    And again God provided for bills he incured

    (Chorus)

    So what is the point of this story,
    What am I trying to say
    Well is your life built on the rock of Christ Jesus
    Or a sandy foundation you’ve managed to lay

    Well needless to say Evelyn left her husband
    N’ sued him for every penny he had
    But I truly wish that those two would find Jesus
    Before things get worse than they already have

    (Chorus)

    And the rain, came down,
    And it blew the forewalls down
    And the clouds they rolled away

    There’s two sets of jones’
    Which ones will you be?

  12. Nancy Lou (old one)

    I love reading what others have written regarding your request for a conversation. They all touch on some aspect of rocks. I encountered The Rock, Jesus Christ, when I was 30 years old. One of the verses I have chosen is from Psalm 40:2: “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet upon a Rock and gave me a firm place to stand”. He has stood by me through many trials and tribulations in my life and has never let me down. Job 28: 10 states that “He cuts out channels among the rocks. His eye sees every precious thing.” He has led me along these rocky channels; rough walking at times and a few detours on my part, but He has never let go of me, has mercifully pursued me, and assured me in my heart that I am loved unconditionally by Him.

  13. Byron

    The bones of thoroughbred horses (and other livestock in the Bluegrass) are incredibly strengthened by — limestone, the bedrock of the Bluegrass. The nutrients that surface through the limestone infuse the grass and provide an inner strength to horses (& cattle) that cannot be found anywhere else but the Bluegrass … thus Horse Capital of the World.
    Just wondering how that metaphor speaks to the nutrients of the Rock … providing inner strength, stronger fortitude, peace in turmoil … foundation.
    Much has been said about the story … to which I agree. Often that is thought of as past (near or ancient) story – but still history. While it is very true and meaningful for remembering, honoring and finding our place in that story, I wonder about the living Rock. What is it that the living, present Rock wishes to infuse into my life today to strengthen me for tomorrow?

  14. Seester Debbie

    Hi Flammy!
    Isn’t it interesting how the stories of the stones has come from life’s experiences and the season of life we are in. Paul, the first thing I thought of when I saw your picture of the stones, was when the adultress was standing before Jesus and the townspeople and other leaders waiting to be stoned for the sin(s) she had committed. Jesus said “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Not only am I without sin, but who am I to judge? We have no idea what even our own families are going through on a daily basis. We don’t live in each others’ homes, we don’t live with each others’ spouses or kids. The stones remind me to have compassion and forgiveness and to not judge others who might not act like me, dress like me, have dirty clothes, etc., etc., for I know nothing of their circumstances and who am I to judge?
    It’s late and I’m not sure if I made any sense. But just wanted to be able to share what first came to my mind when I saw the stones.
    I love reading all the other insights. And Becky, I too, was given a handful of little stones at a Bible Study I attended and was given the same task…to fill a jar with stones of blessings/thankfulness.
    God Bless you all!

  15. OK, you got me – I love rocks. I could sit and look at boulders and cliff faces for hours (partly looking for a good route up). My wife makes fun of me because I’m always pointing out rock structures as we drive by our local New Zealand scenery. I used to collect rocks that marked significant moments in my life – my old roommate may remember a line of them sitting on the shelf.
    Besides all of that, here are a couple thoughts….
    First, a song by Nicole Nordeman which may already know:
    Rolling river God
    Little stones are smooth
    Only once the water passes through
    so, I am a stone
    Rough and grainy still
    Trying to reconcile this river’s chill
    But when I close my eyes
    And feel You rushing by
    I know that time brings change
    And change takes time
    And when the sunset comes
    My prayer would be this one
    That You might pick me up
    And notice that I am
    Just a little smoother in Your hand
    Sometimes raging wild
    Sometimes swollen high
    Never have I known this river dry
    The deepest part of You
    Is where I want to stay
    And feel the sharpest edges wash away.
    (Nicole Nordeman, River God)

    I also remember a significant experience when I came out to the west coast for the first time. I drove out to some lonesome beach and walked for hours praying and enjoying the scenery. A little way off shore were large structures of rock which I later learned were called sea stacks. I remember reading that the land used to come out to those points, but over time the wind, rain and storms had eroded the less stable materials. All that was left behind were these solid granite towers. I suddenly had this strong impression that God was saying, “I want you to be like this sea stack. Despite all the wind, rain and storms – you will still stand.” Unfortunately, my initial reaction was “that can’t possibly be God – it’s way too simple”. Yet I must say this is exactly what I have experienced since then. I pray that God continues to refine and wash away the unnecessary bits. Only the pure and whole remain – that which reveals His likeness.

  16. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

    My good friend named his first son “Ebed”
    Hebrew for “stone”

    Possibly a link, which makes sense for a father.

    See below
    http://www.jhom.com/hebrew/stones_h.htm

    Jewish folk wisdom observes that, whether a rock falls on a pot or a pot falls on a rock, it is always the pot, (kederah) in the Hebrew of the maxim, that gets dented by the rock, in Hebrew (even).

    This insight leads to a philosophical question-with a tilt toward Jewish ethics. Is it better to be an (even) or a (kederah) ? It depends on how you frame your answer. Are we talking about victims and oppressors? Or is it a matter of utility versus uselessness? Using the latter criterion, one ought to choose to be a pot. After all, even when dented, a pot still can be used for cooking and, therefore, for sustaining life. As for the (even), what is it good for, one might ask, except for (sekilah), stoning, one of the four judicial death penalties?

    The Hebrew word for stone, (even), is found in dozens of expressions β€” a veritable (gal avanim), pile of stones β€” of expressions, that encapsulate the Jewish worldview. God himself is termed (even yisrael). According to tradition, the concrete, primordial foundation stone of the world, labeled (even shetiyah), is found today in the Mosque of Omar on the Temple Mount. And, let us not forget that the Ten Commandments were inscribed on two tablets of stone, (shenei luhot avanim). A game resembling Jacks uses five “stones” β€” known as kugelach in Yiddish and (hamesh avanim) in Hebrew, and is played on the sidewalks of Israel today. It teaches us that the gender of (even) is feminine.

    The Torah uses the word (even) twice in one aphorism, teaching us an important lesson in business ethics. A merchant who sells his product by weight may not carry in his pouch (even va-even), that is, one stone for regular transactions and another for cheating. Today the expression (even VA-even) is used for “double standard.” The Book of Psalms employs our word to teach a psychological lesson about usefulness. There we are told that the (even ma’asu ha-bonim), a stone that was disdained by some builders, can be used by others as a cornerstone.

    In ancient times, the word was used in situations that range from the sublime to the artisanal, and from the legal to the superstitious. Did you know, for example, that one of the earliest instances of a “Lost and Found,” a place called the (even ha-to’im), was situated in Jerusalem (perhaps on a rock) during the period of the Second Temple? Because a potter’s wheel is made from a pair of stones, it was called (ovnayim), using the (-ayim) ending for things that come in pairs.

    The third volume of Rabbi Yosef Caro’s Shulhan Arukh, dealing with laws pertaining to women, is entitled (even ha-ezer), using the term for “woman” found in the Creation story. And the Talmud tells us that among the amulets prevalent at the time was the (even tekumah), figuratively, “survival stone,” worn to prevent miscarriages.

    The word (ovnayim), mentioned above, has a secondary meaning: “birthing stool.” It has led to some interesting give-and-take among the founders of Hebrew etymology. Both Rabbi Jonah Ibn Jannakh[1] and Rabbi David Kimhi, the RaDaK,[2] agree that this word does not derive from (even), stone, but from (ben), child. For Rabbi Jonah, it is the place where the baby lands upon emerging; for the RaDak, it is the place from which the baby emerges, i.e., the womb. The RaDak concludes by quoting his father, who held that the word (ovnayim) comes neither from (even) nor from (Ben) but from (binyan), building. Ironically, if not etymologically, this takes us back to the vocabulary of cornerstones and to the idea that as long as they sustain and promote life, both the pot and the rock are desirable utensils.

  17. It’s probably too cliche’ for where you’re going, but I think of Psalm 1118:22: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the capstone” (also, many New Testament references on this one, of course — also the Jars of Clay song on the ‘City on a Hill’ CD)

    The capstone/cornerstone has all sorts of symbolism attached.

    I think the best one I’ve heard was about the designer and builders of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. How precise their design and construction of that structure had to be and how crucial the final piece (the capstone) is in any arch structure.

    You get the idea.

  18. Larry Eide

    Paul: First of all, way to go on being available to speak in your church. That’s not something most people are able or willing to do and is a real challenge. But every challenge is an opportunity for Christ to be seen in and through you. After all, if this is simply an intellectual presentation that is pulled together out of the head, then it won’t amount to much. But if it’s infused with the Spirit of Christ and done in his power, ministry takes place. So keep surrendering to him for the thoughts, the power and the results.
    I’m not exactly sure where you’re going with the rocks track yet, and to be honest don’t have much time to keep blogging on this as I’m trying to keep up with work and working on my dissertation, so this will probably be a one time entry for me on this, but I’m proud of you for taking this on and wanted to give at least some food for thought. If you have further questions or I can help in some way, go ahead and email me directly and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.
    Your observation that rocks, or stones, are referred to many times in scripture is sure correct. Rocks were a very important part of Hebrew culture: construction of buildings, heaps of stones as a memorial to something or to God’s work in a place, building altars, homes or shelters, as weapons (ie. David), for tombs, etc. Rocks are a natural and dominating part of the region, but were also part of the lifestream of the Hebrews. Depending on the tack you take, you might talk about what rocks represented to them and why God might have chosen the analogy in referring to himself as the Rock. Or you might talk about how those stones of yours cause you to reflect and remember something in particular, just as stones did for the Hebrews (ie. memorial stones), and how important it is for us to reflect often on what God has done in the past and on the truths he has given in order to equip us for the present and prepare us for the future. Or here’s another thought: I recently heard one of our pastors who leads groups to the Holy Land and teaches them there, talk about the significance of rocks/stones to the Hebrews. One of the things he said which was so powerful was that Hebrews would take a stone in hand each day and reflecting on Psalm 90:12 and numbering our days, would ask God to make this day count. I don’t have a lot of other details to that, or the associations, but the idea and centrality of rocks, and God as a rock, make that prayer a powerful one. Maybe in these morsels there’s a thought that will be useful to you. May God guide your thoughts and help you to clarity. The use of visuals, like your rocks, is often a helpful way to impress a thought. Also, the temptation for speakers is to try and say too much. Narrow your message to one heartfelt thought and keep driving at that. Don’t say so much about so many things that the message ends up an inch deep. Focus it. Blessings in Christ and love to you and the family. Larry E.

  19. You’re getting great advice already – I’d shy away from “tortured” illustrations & keep it simple and straightforward. God emphasizes over & over to the people of the Bible that they should remember – and the pile of stones beside the Jordan or the altar where Jacob saw the angels going up & down are good, solid examples of that. So are the multitude of festivals the Jews celebrate(d)… each one exists to remind them of who God is and what He’s done in their lives.

    Remembering where we came from: how we’re sinners, how He loved us by dying for us, those incredible moments of mercy & presence in the midst of great pain… those are all good things. It’s not for no reason (bad english, I know) that the Lord’s Supper/Communion is to be done “in rememberance of me.”

    It’s way too easy for us to take the “make all things new” or the “old has gone, the new has come” passages & act like we have some sort of Biblical admonition for spiritual amnesia.

  20. That Jewish Lady (who happens to know that Yeshua is the Messiah)

    Shalom Paul,
    OK, so I looked at your blog the first day you emailed me about it. Something came to me immediately, but I thought maybe it wasn’t “comment worthy”.
    Now when I have come back to your blog, the same thing came to my mind.
    When Yeshua entered Jerusalem riding on the foal of a donkey, the people were shouting and praising him. They shouted “Hosanna!” and “Baruch haba B’Shem Adonai” (Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord).
    The “religious” hierarchy was livid. They demanded that Yeshua tell the people to stop praising him.
    He told them that if the people stopped praising him, the very stones would cry out.
    I didn’t really think this had anything to do with your stones and the various places they’d come from . . . but maybe, in the midst of terrible torment and loss, the stones remain as a way of telling us that the Creator is still in control.

  21. Good stuff, TJL. In a way, Paul’s stones are “crying out” in a similar way to many other stones both modern and ancient (headstones, altars, etc.).

  22. Brent Hofer

    I am also reminded of the memorial stones that the Hebrew people often left to mark a significant experience with God. It seems to me that often times what I have had during difficult days is only the memories of a time when I was aware of God. Those memories have sustained me to “hang in there” and not give up on trusting God. I wish that life was one constant awareness of God’s presence and activity but often times-for me-it is a life that is punctuated by God’s presence. Remembering those times keeps me from bailing on God when circumstance would tell me that God is distant, uncaring or occupied with another part of the galaxy.
    Hope this is helpful. Bless you my brother Paul.

  23. Pingback: In Which I Post For CyberSermon 2. « little.brain’s outpost

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