Silver has long been valued as a precious metal. It is beautiful in its pure form and has had an enduring role in cultures throughout history. However, silver is rarely found in its pure form in nature. Typically, silver is found in silver-bearing ores and a typical ore might contain only .085% silver. Less than 1/10 of 1%! The rest of the ore is just plain rock with some lead, some copper and some brittle, silvery-white metalloid pieces mixed in...I mean, c’mon, I’m not claiming to be a geologist over here. Therefore --> Ore = big rock chunk.
However, the process for getting silver out of that rock is pretty extensive and I think it deserves a good discussion from this non-scientist gal. The process to remove this precious metal and bring it to its true beauty is intense. First, the ore, or large rocks composed of metals, are mined and gathered together. Then, the big rock chunks are crushed and ground to very fine particles. After the ore is crushed, the smelting process begins. Smelt is a super fun word to say (try saying it 3 times for full effect) and smelting is a process that involves heating the metal beyond its melting point. The material is heated in a crazy-hot furnace and the silver begins to separate itself from the impurities. Often in the smelting process, outside elements are added that actually attach themselves to the impurities, which includes the silver particles.
After this first smelting process, insoluble particles, called slime or dross, gradually accumulate at the bottom of the large refining tank. Among the insoluble materials is the precious metal silver, which was originally present in the ore. However, now we have pieces with much higher concentrations of silver. The ore basically goes from less than 1/10 of 1% silver to more than 20% silver through the crushing and the heating process.
Then, the process is started again. This slime is smelted (such a fun word to say!) - heated to beyond its melting point - and the silver is able to separate from all of the remaining impurities.
Serious business. Intense stuff right here, folks.
And, God often talks about us as being like silver. In fact, this whole discussion on refining silver came about when I was reading through Malachi. In chapter 3 verses 2-3:
But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal or like a strong soap that whitens clothes. He will sit and judge like a refiner of silver, watching closely as the dross is burned away. He will purify the priests, refining them like gold or silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the Lord.
I have recently been learning that God is closer to me than I could ever imagine possible and that He is truly a good Father. This is something I have known in my mind for quite some time now, but it has just recently transferred down to my heart. The truth that God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth and everything in between, is actually a good Father who loves me as His daughter, His child, is overwhelming. God is a good Father who longs to take care of me and provide for me. A Father who has unlimited resources at His disposal. This is my Father and the revelation in my heart that He is good has revolutionized the way I interact with Him and the way I read the Scriptures.
Even this scripture in Malachi. Now, I don’t know about you, but for so long I have read about God’s judgements against His people for doing wrong as an, “I told you so!” moment. Like God was up in Heaven just hoping someone would follow Him and not sin, but when they did mess up He was like, “Well, now I’ve got to destroy you. I mean, I didn’t want to, but you just messed up too much this time. I’m going to destroy you and just start over with this small group of people that I chose at random. So, learn from your mistakes and don’t make me judge you again.” Then, He goes back to sitting and watching and hoping that His children will follow Him.
Sounds a little facetious (another fun word), but that is what I have come to realize was my mentality relating to God. I was reading the life-giving scriptures with such judgement in my heart. So, what does this have to do with silver? I’m glad you asked.
Psalm 66:10 states, “You have tested us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined.” Now, with my old mindset, I would have braced myself for the painful process of refining in order to make me a better Christian. I would have willingly said, “Yes” to God but knowing that He was just getting all the evil out of me.
However, since the revelation that God is my loving Father who wants to take care of me has planted itself firmly in my heart, I realize I have been reading the scriptures through tainted lenses. It says that God is LOVE and there is NO FEAR in Love. So, God does not sit up in Heaven worrying about me disappointing Him yet again. He cannot worry because worry is caused by fear and there is no fear in God.
With this new and enlightened understanding, I read these scriptures through the soft, gentle and loving voice of my good Father. He sees me as silver. He knows that while I may look like a big, ugly chunk of rock, I am really only the silver being covered up my a whole lot of impurities. So, He brings me through the refining process. He says, “My daughter. I love you so much. I will take you through a refining process to judge all of the impurities that have attached themselves to you. Because, that is not who you are. You are silver. I will be with you in this refining process and I will watch closely. Then, you will finally see yourself as I already see you: as silver.”
And, it’s so, so good.
I’m so grateful to have such a loving Father that can see me as I truly am: silver.
A Father that can see through the ugliness of all the crap the world has put on me.
He can see me as silver even though I may appear to be more than 99.9% rock chunks of far lesser value. I might even feel like I actually am the lesser valued ore. I mean, I know that I have silver inside of me because I am a follower of Christ. But at times, I can view myself as a rock chunk with a little silver deep inside that people sometimes see when the light hits it at just the right angle. But, most of the time I feel like a normal rock.
And, I think you might feel similar. It’s hard to see ourselves as silver when we have been weighed down and covered up by gunk. Sometimes it is even preached in Christian circles that we are dirty sinners with nothing good inside. But, no. God creates masterpieces. He only creates good. And, He is the only creator of LIFE, which includes you.
That is precisely why He brings us through the refining process. He so wants to remove all of the dross and the slime that is bogging us down. He wants to refine every single part of our lives so that all that is left is silver. All of the impurities are gone. All of the lesser valued metals are melted away. There is only silver that remains and that silver is stunning.
In fact, silver has such unique qualities. One of the neatest qualities I learned in my research is that pure silver reflects all visible light. It exhibits the highest reflectivity of any metal. So, while the refining process to remove silver from chunky old rock is intense and full of crushing and heating and smelting, the byproduct is incredibly beautiful.
After that intense process of refining, we become pure silver.
We, as pure silver, reflect 100% of the Light of Heaven.
And, it is unbelievably stunning.
with Love, always,
Okay, I need to be honest right now and talk about one of the greatest struggles of our RV lives. No TV!! Haha… While, this isn’t really a serious and detrimental struggle, it has definitely revealed how much of an addiction to TV I have had in my life.
I crave it.
I think about it at random times.
I want to use it to numb my feelings.
These all sound like symptoms of someone with an addiction. Even though watching TV doesn’t produce serious physical consequences, the fact that these feelings have risen up with the absence of this mind-numbing entertainment concerns me.
I grew up on a dairy farm in the middle of Minnesota. We had acres and acres of land with trees and sunshine and the sound of animals everywhere; we didn’t have TV. Summers were warm and comforting. I remember lying in our massive yard on the soft, green grass and looking up at the sky through the green leaves of the trees. I would lie there for what seemed like hours, just me and my thoughts and the sound of nature and Jesus.
Then, I grew up. I entered into adulthood and learned that adulting can be hard. That’s when I found TV. I learned that TV shut off real life and welcomed me into a place where I didn’t have to think.
As adults, we often take on the tasks and responsibilities we were never meant to hold. It can be exhausting. So, we coddle our tired minds and hearts with the anesthetic of TV. We find ourselves so tired as we move through the day that we can only think about sitting and vegging out on the couch at the end of it all… at least that was me.
I’ve known that my emotions were never uplifted after a good long veg sesh. I actually would come away feeling cranky and guilty for wasting my precious life. I would resolve that it was the last time, and I would be more productive and more intentional the next day. However, I rarely followed through on yesterday’s promises.
Now, we have been called away from the life we were living and we have been brought back into the quietness and peace of God. It’s as if we have come away from the busyness of life and been sequestered through our limited access to the land of free WiFi. Therefore, the band-aid of mindless entertainment has been ripped off in one aggressive motion and has left me raw and red and exposed.
I think that I am needing to relearn the art of quiet. I need to relearn the art of resting in the stillness of the day with only my thoughts and my God in my mind. While I have four children and I am not actually able to lie down in the grass undisturbed for very long, my mind and my heart are learning to be at rest. I have been inviting God once again into every area of my life, including the daydreaming and delightful thoughts of my day.
I’m a horrible dancer! (For any of you that really know Mary and I, that’s a dead giveaway that Josh is writing this one!) However, let me rephrase that. In most people’s eyes, I’m a horrible dancer. In mine, I’m amazing! I invent new moves that I picture myself doing in my head, and I guarantee they’re awesome! The look on Mary’s face… tells me otherwise.
In God’s word it says this in Zephaniah 3:17, “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Did you know that the root Hebrew word for rejoice can be translated as, “to spin round under the influence of any violent emotion.” WOW!
I see this picture of God, the Mighty Warrior who not only saves, but dances and sings over us. Can you imagine our God spinning around with emotion that is so visible that you’d classify it as violent? That is a breathtaking word picture for the imagination! The God of the universe does this for us.
So, in dancing there’s a lead. This is usually the male, but not always. This is very much a challenge for me since my wife is an exponentially better dancer than I.
In a spiritual context, God is our lead. While my leading consists of stepping on feet, God is the perfect lead all the time, everytime. Sometimes it’s go; sometimes it’s stop. Other times He says step this way or just sway a little to your left. Maybe you’ve felt Him say, in the craziness of life, “it’s time to do a double backflip!”
We are in a season right now where He is saying slow down and just abide. Abide isn’t a word we use a lot. I use to sing a song taken from John 15:7 that said, “If you (ye) abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done.”
Those have always been encouraging words to me, but today I’m taking something new from them. I, like many others, have always been excited about the “you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done” part. However, there’s something way more exciting about this passage. By abiding, we know His will, we know His heart--we know where He’s leading. This may take time, and it may take waiting. However, because of this opportunity, we will know Him on a deeper level. And, when He steps to the left, we’ll be right there with Him.
God always finds us. He sees us wherever we are with whatever life we are carrying. Nothing can hide us from His sight. I love this and I’m so thankful for His pursuit of us.
I have been made aware of this aspect of our Father as we have been on this adventure. He sees people and He wants them to know that He sees them. He has arranged our lives to have us interact with His children… the very ones who need to know that their Father sees them, knows them, and loves them.
Here is the story of one of these encounters:
I needed a bike trailer/stroller. I was praying God would provide the perfect stroller for the needs of our family and I had my eye on one of the top strollers on the market. I knew that it would make our daily journeys so much more accessible. I know that I am a child of God and that He would provide just the right stroller, at a great discount… Ha! So, we searched the facebook marketplace pages. We searched and searched for about four weeks. Nothing panned out.
Then, I saw it. I looked on the marketplace page one day and saw the very stroller I had been searching for. I promptly messaged the lady (we’ll call Beth) and tried to make myself not sound too desperate. We really wanted that stroller, but we also really wanted a deal. Then, I prayed that God would come through for us.
We agreed upon a price and a place to meet with our 55’ traveling home. Beth arrived within minutes of us arriving and we began to chat and look at the stroller. Then, something AMAZING happened. Beth had forgotten one necessary piece, so I offered to jump in her car and ride back to her house with her to fetch the missing piece.
God is so good.
On our drive to her home, I was able to hear her story. She shared that her and her husband had adopted 3 kids who were now 11, 9, and 7. Then, she shared that her husband had passed away one year ago and she was in the process of selling things to have more money.
My journey for the perfect stroller wasn’t really about us at all. It was God wanting our lives to intersect with His precious daughter who needed to know that God sees her. This beautiful single mom of three kiddos, who was having to deal with incredibly difficult life circumstances, was the very lady we were supposed to meet up with to purchase our beloved stroller.
We were able to bless her with a little more money than we had agreed upon for the stroller and we were able to pray for her. God always sees us and knows what we need. Then, He sends people our way. He pursues us and wants us to know that He is always faithful.
That is the story of our stroller. Now, every time we see it we can think about the faithfulness of God and we can pray for Beth’s life. Please pray she would experience God in new and beautiful ways as her husband and provider and Father.
We carry the very presence of God every place we go. Holy Spirit loves to orchestrate our lives to display God’s love for His children. Every detail of every day is an opportunity to experience the love of our Father God, and then we get to give it away.
One of the mandates God has emphasized over and over for us is loving the person in front us. One of the ways we’ve done this is at rest stops. We never knew how many truck drivers were on the road until living full-time in an RV.
Waking up at a rest stop surrounded by trucks and trailers one morning, I (Josh) had this thought, “I bet truckers like coffee.” Of course, we just happen to have 700 lbs of coffee in our trailer! So, after making a very large french press, I brought it out to our neighbor next door.
“Who is this guy? What does he want? Should I open my window?”
I stood there a couple feet below his window, smiled and waved. The look on his face said this: “Who is this guy? What does he want? Should I open my window?” After staring at me for 5 seconds, he opened his window. I said, smiling, “Do you want some coffee?”
From this one act of kindness, relationship began. This past summer, we asked God if we should bring coffee on the road. We knew it would be a lot of work and could create a lot of problems. We prayed and had peace about it. The look on that truck driver’s face said 1000 words.
After that experience, we realized that there are thousands of truck drivers on the road for days/weeks at a time. Do they have a community? Do they have a group of people that support and encourage them? For some, I think it’s a very lonely life.
I don’t think we’re starting a full-time coffee ministry to truck drivers, but God has opened our eyes to the need. It is definitely something we look for at rest stops now. The last time we served coffee to our truck driving neighbor, we met a man named Raymond. After following me all the way to our RV, Mary poured him some coffee and he said, “How much?” We kind of laughed and told him nothing of course.
He looked a little thrown off and asked why we’d do such a thing. We had an open door to share. Coffee is a great gateway to share the gospel. I won’t go into how many times Jesus ate with people, but it’s all over the gospels. Jesus even commented on the Pharisees scoffing at how He ate and drank all the time. I believe it was because when you sit down with someone and share a meal, or even a coffee, relationship begans. Eating and drinking are part of a common human experience.
So, pray for people like Raymond. We were able to minister to him and pray for his needs of getting a new load to bring back to Chicago. God cares about people more than we can imagine, and they’re all around us all the time. We just have to open our eyes.
We have been living full-time in the RV for over 1 month. Wow! Where has the time gone and what have we been up to?
Well, that's a great question: what HAVE we been doing with our time? Answer: being filled up spiritually and emotionally, second guessing our decision to embark on a new adventure, reminding ourselves that God actually did speak to us, learning to just rest, and trying really hard to be okay with not being busy.
This has been our emotional and spiritual journey this past month. Ohh, man! We spent 10 days in Redding, CA and it was unbelievably refreshing for our spirits. We felt Holy Spirit confirming all of the words he has been speaking to us over the past year. And, we were surrounded many times by thousands of people completely in love with Jesus. It was so beautiful!
Then, we left Redding and headed south. We felt like we were leaving the safety net that would protect us if we fell to our doom. Honestly. We were leaving into the complete unknown with absolutely no plans until February. What are we supposed to do? Where are we supposed to go? What will people think of us wandering around California?
We knew that this would be our journey. We knew we were entering into a lifestyle of complete trust in our Father God. A lifestyle that would require us to pray a lot and listen even more. A lifestyle that would be unusual to most people; an out-of-the-box life that would bring us to the places God needs us.
Knowing all of this doesn't make the quiet, uneventful waiting times easy. We are so conditioned to being busy; to be working and doing and being in endless, exhausting movement. We are trained from such an early age that being busy is equivalent to being productive.
I would have to disagree.
We have lived many years of busy. We have spent seasons where Josh worked 50+hrs per week at a regular job, we managed a coffee shop, we served regularly at our local church, and had 4 young children (2 of whom were foster kids)... All of this was at the same time! I'm 100% convinced that if God calls you to something, he gives you the grace needed to complete it. We actually thrived during that season of our lives.
It was actually in a different season that we began to feel the effects of busyness. When tedious tasks began to get in the way of ministry, we began to feel the tension of burnout threatening the fringes of our family. When our family's peace was threatened, we knew something wasn't right. So, we pressed into what God was speaking to our hearts. I began hearing God say, “striving is NOT a principle of the kingdom of Heaven” and “BUSY-ness is a trap to rob us of the joy of life.”
In John it says that the enemy of our souls comes to steal and kill and destroy. Therefore, if our peace and joy were being stolen or destroyed, I knew it was from the enemy. I began to recognize that God was calling us to a lifestyle of rest.
And, that is how we land back at the question from the beginning: what have we been up to? Learning to rest and trying really hard not to be busy are actually super difficult! It honestly seems counterproductive to not be busy. But, that's a lie.
We are learning to spend quality time with our family...doing nothing. Not really nothing, but not “working”. Just being together. We believe that our kids are our first disciples and we want to train them to listen to Holy Spirit and follow wherever he leads. So, we pray together and we play together. We have gone mini golfing and swimming and chasing geese. We have spent hours in worship and prayer and talking to them about participating in God's Church.
None of what I've mentioned sounds like something worth writing home about, but it is the only thing God has put before us. Because of that, we are trying to do it with all the gusto and intentionality of anything we have been a part of in our lives.
So, we are writing home about it, so to speak. We are writing to you, our online family, so that you know we are still on this journey and we are still hungry to hear the voice of our Father God… It might not be him giving us specific instructions on where to go. It might simply be him speaking to us deep in our hearts about what is important to HIS heart. And, we want to be totally, 100% involved in whatever that is.
God has given us a lot of dreams lately! We’ve been writing them down whenever we can (i.e. when we don’t fall back asleep and forget them:) With that in mind, we feel some of them are very encouraging and want to share them with you all.
Dream 1 - The Fireplace
I (Josh) came into a house where a lady was working on an old fireplace. It had tons of little holes in it that were filled in with spray foam. It wasn’t in working order but looked well used. The fire had once been there, but had left.
When I woke up, I immediately had this sense that this is how many people use the Holy Spirit. We (the church) think that the Holy Spirit should be confined to a space on Sunday mornings or in our quiet times… when we feel spiritual or awakened to the things of God.
When Jesus was about to leave earth, He said that it was better that He left so the Holy Spirit could come. Instead of having a temple where the Spirit of God dwelt, now the Holy Spirit would dwell in every believer. Our bodies became the temple. The question, then, is do we let him occupy a nice, ornate fireplace or every area of our being? He wants to be in every part of our lives, not just Sunday mornings or when we pray.
When the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost, tongues of fire were on the heads of believers. Those believers became witnesses with power and boldness. The fire was never meant to be kept in the church building. It was meant to rest on every believer to empower us all to be witnesses of Christ.
Dream 2 - The Building
I was walking into an old building that had started to be rebuilt. It was very shaky and it seemed like a strong wind could blow it over. Two or three guys were looking at and talking about the building and one man was actively fixing it up. One man was kind of giving me a tour and telling how he and his brother grew up playing in the building. However, his brother died when he was only ten. Towards the end I was eating really good grapes that had only been planted that year.
Now, I am not a perfect dream interpreter, but God has been teaching me things in this area. I feel like dreams are an invitation to seek out the creativity of how God speaks to us. With that said, there are some awesome things about this dream that God has spoken to me.
I’ve had several dreams lately with buildings. I believe they confirm things from God’s word that are really encouraging. 1 Corinthians 3:9 says we are God’s building. We are where the Holy Spirit dwells. Ephesians 2:19-22 talks about Jesus being the chief cornerstone, the foundation of a building. It also says we are being built together for a dwelling place for the Lord.
Jesus said to Peter, concerning the revelation of Christ, on this rock I will build my church. The awesome thing is that He is still building it! And, we can be part of that. So, on to the dream.
God is rebuilding churches (groups of people sold out to His purposes) in places that were dry spiritually or in a season of complacency. Planting a new church is a powerful strategy for the Kingdom. But, I believe re-digging spiritual wells in places where there was once a thriving community of Christ followers, goes hand in hand with that strategy. Restoration is always God’s heart, and communities need new and fresh life.
God is looking for people to know His heart in this and see the vision of restoration for the church in certain areas. I think the man telling me the story about his brother signifies there has been spiritual life and death in these areas, but God is rebuilding them into life and life to the full!
Lastly, I believe the most exciting part of the dream is the grapes. If you know anything about grapes, they don’t produce the first year. In fact, many times it’s a three years before any grapes are on the vine. The bible says the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. I believe we are in a time where spiritual seeds planted will be ready for harvest quicker than we’ve seen before. That same passage says to pray for workers/laborers to work in the harvest fields. My prayer is that we would see workers rise up and that they would be blessed by quick-producing fruit like we’ve never seen.
Sometimes fire destroys. Sometimes it brings new life. Many times it does both. On July 23, 2018, the Carr fire was started in Northern California. It took over one month to get it contained. At the end of the sprawling $1.5+ BILLION in damages, over 1,000 homes were lost and several people lost their lives. But, something beautiful came from the ashes.
The true word of community responded. Organizations that specialize in disaster response showed up with supplies and manpower. At one point, during the fire, there were over 4000 people responding in some way to the devastation. However, after the fire, I'd argue there were more people from all the over the country and world praying, giving and helping in any way they could.
Bad things happen, but our response determines the final results. When the city of Grand Forks, ND flooded in 1997, it was terrible. Many people moved away, people shut down their businesses and many homes were bulldozed and demolished. Over $1 billion in aid came their way and now Grand Forks' downtown area, and even the spaces destroyed (such as Lincoln Park), paved the way for a better city and a better downtown community. Everyone could have picked up and left, but people came together and new life was breathed into a city.
We have seen the same thing in Shasta County, CA. People are rising up to help their neighbors and hope is on the rise. We can clearly see new life rising from the ashes. And, that is exactly what God promises He will do. He will work everything together for good.
When we walk through a 'fire' in our lives, we can choose defeat and despair or we can see it as an opportunity for new life. It's not always easy, but sometimes a fire brings to the surface things we don't like to see. In fact, they look black and charred and dead. They don't look like Jesus. But, if we choose to endure through the process of healing, new life is waiting on the other side.
So, let fire destroy the things that don't look like Jesus. Rise up in the midst of what looks like terrible defeat and join forces with your community... for new life is just around the corner.
We left it all behind this week. Everything we had known and loved for the past 9 years now lives only in our hearts and our memories. So much life was lived in those 9 years and we have become the people we are today because of that life and the people we lived it with.
I love to people watch. Sitting alone in the middle of a park or a crowded mall, it doesn't really matter. There are people everywhere. Even now, I'm sitting in the RV, solo, writing and looking out the front window. The UPS guy (or Box Man, as my kids lovingly refer to him) is delivering an over-sized box to the house on the corner. I get to simply sit and stare and watch and think. I love to have silence to hear myself think...and that often turns into conversations with God about life.
Today, I'm thinking not about my life, but the lives of the people I see. What is their story? Did they wake up this morning rejuvenated and ready to take on the world? Or, did they wake up with the weight of their world looming over them? What is the mail lady walking by thinking about right now? Is her life story playing out the way she thought it would?
These are the things I talk to God about.
Josh and I have been awakened to seeing people wherever we are. We don't want to just see people walk by and cast a judgment about them based on their clothing or posture... But, we want to truly see them: See them in their moment going through whatever they are going through. We also believe that God wants to meet people right where they are.
I look at the way Jesus walked through his life. He was often surrounded by massive crowds of curious people just trying to get a look at the man who can heal the sick and make dead people come back to life. Have you ever thought about how Jesus handled those people?
He found the ONE.
That is how we believe everyone can live their lives. You can go through your normal day-to-day routine, with your eyes looking for the one person God is placing in your path. There have been times when both Josh and I have went on trips that were specifically designed for us to share the love of God. But, it is soooo not realistic to live your life waiting for those moments.
Jesus came to this earth so that His people could experience Him in their everyday, normal life. That is how Jesus did it, so why would we think it would look different for us? We confidently believe that it is time for followers of Jesus to demonstrate what we believe IN THE WORLD! It is time for the "Church" to get Out of the Box!
I love you!