Monday, October 29, 2007

The Refiner's Pot

Malachi 3:3 - "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."

My (Sharon) friend Deedra and I used to talk together often about the illustration of the Refiner's Pot. How God is like a Master Silversmith who will "turn the heat up" in our lives so that the dross (sin) will come to the surface - so that He can remove the dross (sin) . . . which results in Him being able to see a more clear reflection of Himself in us. (see below for a more detailed version of the illustration.)

I liked this illustration because I liked the idea of being able to reflect Him more and more clearly as time goes on. What I'm finding though, is a lot more dross than I thought was there! And before I can be a more clear reflection, I become a very hazy reflection as the dross comes to the surface. And I also find I have a very STRONG desire to "blame" the dross on my surrounding circumstances. But if I do that, then I'm saying that the dross is not really my sin. . . when the bottom line is that God waits for me to call the dross for what it really is (my sin) before He takes it away.

Sigh. . .becoming more like Jesus is a painful process. . . but I am so thankful that He is patient with me and loves me enough to surface the dross in my life so that I can be a more clear reflection of Him.

Here is a copy of the story about the Refiner's Fire that I found online:

Malachi 3:3 - "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."

This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God. One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible study.

That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver.

As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities.

The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot then she thought again about the verse that says:

"He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver."

She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.

The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?"

He smiled at her and answered, "Oh, that's easy - when I see my image in it."

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Date Night

Each week Sharon and I try to set aside Friday night as date night. So last Friday night we had our friends Nerijus and Vaida, who are students that have been a part of Agape this last year, over to join in our date night. We decided to make a truly authentic American meal for them. ¡Nachos!

We had a great time preparing the condiments and teaching them how to stack everything to achieve maximum flavor potential. After sharing in the tasty experience we watched a movie together. We had a great time and so did they.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Taste Test

So, to let you into some of our team life, one of our traditions here in LT has been to meet for staff meeting and then have dinner together as a team. Last year we decided to have taste tests as a part of team dinner so that we could get to know different foods and products here in LT. So, over the last year we have done numerous tests (chocolate, crazy fruits, crackers, cookies, cake etc). The rule is that the person hosting dinner that night gets to pick the item to test and everyone brings something from that category. A few weeks ago I picked crazy cheeses that people have seen in the deli section but were too afraid to try them. It was fun, we had a funky green one called darby sage and some stinky selections too. One of the odoriferous samples was orange, moldy, and the girls weren't to fond of as you can see. I (Matt) however loved it and savored the so called stink. I won't mention who has the refined palette on our team.

Tonight it was Kellie's turn and she picked gum. So we all brought different types of gum to test. Here are some fun pics.
Just so you know Stimrol won out over Hubba Bubba.

If you have ideas of things we should try for a new taste test post a comment. We're always looking for new ideas.

Monday, October 15, 2007


The days of wearing long johns and bundling up in blankets are back!

I think they came earlier this year.

This is a photo of Matt wearing a jacket I have lovingly called "Big Red" - a gift from some friends back home.

PS This post was written by Sharon

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Summer Team

It has been over two months since the summer team left Lithuania. We still talk about them all the time - what an encouragement they were to us personally and also just how much they helped us kick off the new school year. We were able to meet some pretty amazing university students during their time here.

Bob & Anita - Thank you for all that you did to help make this trip a reality!

Paddy & Noah - What a joy it was to meet you both and to get to see your hearts for the Lord!

Erin & Julie - oh my sweet friends, words can't fully describe how much of a joy it was to have you both here!

There is so much more I'd like to write to describe what the time was like. . . in this case, a picture is worth a thousand words. Check out this video our friend Hugh put together for Coram Deo. He does an awesome job at capturing the summer team's time in LT!! Thanks Hugh for all the hard work you put into this!!

Lithuania Update

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The First Agape Night

Last Wednesday we had our first Agape night for this school year. It went really well!

Nine students showed up and we had a great time eating dinner and discussing the topic of humor. Jen was in charge of the theme for that night and she chose to use a format called "story of the soul." This is a Crusade idea for small groups that is built on the premise that there are elements of our lives that show us that our souls are telling us a story which points to God. So we looked at and discussed different pieces of art and media that related to the topic of humor and why we find things funny. After much discussion about the topic, Peter suggested that we find humor in things because we are made in the image of God, and God has a sense of humor. I think the students found it fascinating and were stretched in their understanding of God. It was a good night, I am excited to see what will happen in this area of our ministry here in Lithuania.

The bump is dead!

After our first Agape night Benji was ready to burst open so us boys gave him a little help.

Then Jason and I killed Benji this last weekend. We spent 8 hours on Saturday ripping up part of a hard wood floor with a hammer, screwdriver, some allen wrenches, and channel locks! It wasn't till later on Saturday that I purchased a chisel, hand saw, and crow bar to aid in our efforts. Then on Sunday we spent 4 hours putting the floor back together again. But, we beet the bump!