A Heavy Mettle Discussion

867bfc01-5e47-4d5f-a8e9-9a3d2f48f421_zps40643497I heard the sad story of a man who died recently. He had crawled under a house to steal the copper wiring and was electrocuted.

This is sad for a couple of reasons:

  • Copper prices are at historic lows, and this man lost his precious life trying to take something so cheap.
  • His attempt to steal was evidence of a steel less and easily tempted character

This copper incident reminds me of the judgment discussion that Paul had with the Christians at Corinth:

“You are God’s building.  As a skilled and experienced builder, I used the gift that God gave me to lay the foundation for that building. However, someone else is building on it. Each person must be careful how he builds on it.  After all, no one can lay any other foundation than the one that is already laid, and that foundation is Jesus Christ.  People may build on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw.  The day will make what each one does clearly visible because fire will reveal it. That fire will determine what kind of work each person has done.  If what a person has built survives, he will receive a reward.  If his work is burned up, he will suffer the loss. However, he will be saved, though it will be like going through a fire.”               ~I Corinthians 3:9-15

In the verses above Paul offers a  Double M Lesson:

  • The first M is Metal or the gold and silver.
  • The second M is Meddle or the wood, hay, and straw.
  • Paul uses these objects to frame his argument in the context of a quality of life versus a quantity of life perspective.

The metal and meddle aspects of your life will be judged by fire which “will determine what kind of work each person has done.”  The difference between your metal and meddle may be your mettle or the manner in which you confront the challenges of life and faithfully persevere.

When Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy he engaged in a little heavy mettle discussion:  “When the going gets rough, take it on the chin with the rest of us, the way Jesus did. A soldier on duty doesn’t get caught up in making deals at the marketplace. He concentrates on carrying out orders. An athlete who refuses to play by the rules will never get anywhere. It’s the diligent farmer who gets the produce. Think it over. God will make it all plain.”  ~2 Timothy 2:3-5

I encourage you to do what Paul admonished Timothy to do in the verses above:  “Think it over.”

Tree Rings

A tree is such a common sight, that we rarely consider how uncommon it is.  In the spring when the saplings begin to appear, we may pause briefly to reflect on childhood adventures—tree houses, gunny sack swings, and puppy love initials deeply etched in the dark colored ridges of once skin smooth bark.

Trees are utilitarian—they serve and fulfill many of our needs.  Due to its thorny disposition, Osage Orange was idealized in the past century as fence material.  Oak has been the wood of choice to decorate the living quarters of many homes, and baseball enthusiasts are thrilled when they hear the exhilarating crack of an Ash-made bat launching a baseball into the depths of center field.

But, utilitarian is an insufficient adjective.  Unique is perhaps a more adequate description.  A tree, you see, never really dies.  Even though a tree may be harvested, milled, and kiln dried, it is reborn every time a craftsman touches it.

This remarkable aspect of the tree is often overlooked.  A good example of this is the community or school orchestra.  After hearing a stirring rendition of Bach or Beethoven, the concert attendee may comment on the beauty of the stringed section.  If, however, there were no trees, there would never have been a violin or a fiddle; and, what about the music that reverberates from these stringed instruments?  Do we hear the sound of the strings alone, or is it the life of the wood that lends its vitality to these artistic endeavors?

The life after death potential of a tree is almost unlimited.  The first  Psalm speaks about a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its  season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.  The roots of this tree run deep and the fruit it bears is seasonal and sweet.

Long after we die, and we are little more than a memory, the fruit of our influence will live on.  What will your influence be?  Will it be the sweet and melodious sound of a violin or will it be an unwanted round of chagrin?

I hope this thought keeps you thinking.