Tuesday, September 25, 2012


From the Featured Devotional "Perfect Pieces"

   There was a time when the mark of a well-heeled gentleman or lady was seeing them pull out a fine, linen handkerchief. The dinner table hosted by that same elegant couple would be covered in a beautiful linen tablecloth. And when they retired at night, they would cover themselves with the softest and coolest of linen sheets. (It’ why today, “sheets” are called “bed linens.”)

   Linen is one of the oldest and most prized of textiles. Linen cloth has been discovered in caves in Europe, in the Qumran caves near the Dead Sea, and in the tombs of Egyptian royalty. The Egyptians wrapped their wealthy and royal dead in linen cloth because of what it represented to the dead: lightness and comfort---not to mention prestige and wealth.

   And guess who else made abundant use of linen cloth---and guess where they learned its value? The Israelites brought with them from Egypt the knowledge of how to create linen and an appreciation for its comfort and hard-wearing quality. And they must have brought more than knowledge with them---they must have brought bolts of linen itself, “fine woven linen” (Exodus 26:1, 31).

   Fresh out of Egypt, Moses was incorporating linen into the curtains of the tabernacle and the robes of the high priest. “Linen” is mentioned nearly 90 times in the Old Testament and almost 20 more times in the New Testament. It was clearly the fabric of choice in the ancient world. And it is becoming increasingly a fabric of choice today, experiencing something of a revival. Besides being cool in hot temperatures, linen is extremely durable and long lasting---and a man or woman in a linen suit today still carries a cachet of sophistication.


   I discovered a whole new lexicon of words associated with the processing of linen fibers. The words even sound like the process—harsh!—as you will see. Linen fabric is woven from linen fibers that grow inside the stalk of the flax plant. So the process is one of breaking down the rough, outer stalk to reveal the beautiful fibers within. (Keep that image in mind—I’ll come back to it in a moment.)

   Here’s a summary of the steps need to produce linen fabric:

   • HARVEST: the flax plant needs to be pulled up, roots and all. Taking a shortcut by cutting the stalk above the roots releases the plant’s sap and harms the quality of the fibers. Total commitment to the correct procedure is required.

   • RIPPLING: the stalks are run through a machine that rips off the leaves and seeds.

   • RETTING: soaking the stalks to soften them prior to removal. This was originally accomplished by soaking the stalks in water for several weeks. Today the stalks are soaked in an acid bath, then pressurized and boiled.

   • BREAKING” the softened stalks are then crushed between heavy rollers to break up the outer stalk into pieces.

   • SCUTCHING: the crushed and splintered stalks are then hit with rotating paddles to release the linen fibers from the splintered stalk.

   • HECKLING: the fibers are combed with heckling combs to separate the short (undesirable) fibers from the long (desirable) fibers. Only the long fibers are woven into thread.

   • SPINNING: twisting the long linen fibers into thread.

   • WEAVING: weaving the linen threads into fabric.

   • FINISHING: the finished, natural color fabric can be bleached, dyed, or printed according to need.

   I’ll never look at another piece of linen the same way! I would not enjoy being jerked up by the roots, then rippled, retted, broken, scotched, heckled, spun, and bleached or dyed. And then after all that be measured, cut, pinned, and stitched! But that process proves and important point: transformation can be a painful process. Whether its linen, wool, cotton, or any other fabric that we take for granted, a price is paid to get it to its place of beauty and usefulness.

   And (I told you to keep the image of processing linen in mind) the same is true in the spiritual life. Going from the image of the fallen first Adam to the image of the loving last Adam, Jesus Christ, involves the spiritual equivalent of retting, breaking, scotching…well, you get the idea.


   Plant and animal fibers take a painful path to arrive at their destination, and sometimes it feels that we do as well. But just as with fibers, there is an advantage to adversity, a plan for pain, a reason for roughness. Simply put, we couldn’t get where God intends us to go without adversity.

   What is God’s destination for us? His plan is for us “to be conformed to the image of His Son that [Christ] might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29).

   And what does God use to conform us to the image of Christ? The “all things” Paul wrote about in verse 28—the hard things that we don’t think are for our good in any way (Romans 8:28). Paul says they are for our good! They are the events and circumstances, painful as they sometimes are, that---if we allow them to do their work---will transform us into the image of Christ.

   We learn the way Christ learned so we can gain the advantage of adversity: “…though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). If Christ, the son of God, was obedient to the Father… if the Father wants us to be like Christ… and if Christ experienced adversity to learn obedience…then we will learn obedience, and become like Him, the same way.

   It should go without saying---but it always helps to refresh our memories (2 Peter 1:12)---that Christians are not immune to adversity. Christ alone is a sufficient example, but we have many more besides. The apostles and missionaries described in the Book of Acts continually faced opposition for the sake of Christ. Paul actually lists the kinds of adversity he endured in 2 Corinthians 6:3-10 and 11:22-33. And because he rarely traveled alone, those with him were subject to the same kinds of trials.

   The advantage of adversity is this: It is a refining process that results in purity. Like the Old Testament images used by the prophets, we are refined in the fire of adversity to purge the dross from our lives (Isaiah 1:25; Ezekiel 22:19-22; Malachi 3:3). Once you “take away the dross from silver…it will go to the silversmith for jewelry” (Proverbs 25:4).

   When flax stalks submit to the adversity of the refining process, the linen within becomes fit for the hands of a master weaver and tailor. Likewise, when we submit to the adversity of refining in our lives, we become like silver in the hands of the Master Jeweler who continues to shape us into the image of His Son.


   If we agree that there is an advantage to adversity, what do we do to gain that advantage? What should we do---not just to endure adversity but to prosper under it?

   First, begin with the end in mind. Be like a flax stalk that sees itself as a fine linen handkerchief in the hand of an appreciative owner. If you don’t believe there is an ultimate purpose in adversity, you’ll neither endure nor prosper. Embrace the promise of Philippians 1:6: “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

   Second, expect adversity. Too many Christians make the mistake of thinking God has promised to keep them free of trouble. You won’t find that promise in the Bible. In fact, the apostles taught “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22b). You are less likely to resist that which you expect.

   Third, be thankful in adversity. You don’t have to praise the Lord for your troubles, but you should give thanks to God in the mist of trouble. Why? Because you know that God is going to use the adversity to make you more like Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

   Fourth, be anxious for nothing. Even though you know God’s “purity plan” involves adversity, don’t be anxious about the future, Trust God through prayer and thanksgiving for every event in life, and then rest in His peace (Philippians 4:6-7).

   Let the fabric of your life be tested! The garment God is making is one that will last forever.

From: Turning Points Magazine & Devotional
Turning Points

Saturday, September 22, 2012


From the Featured Devotional "Perfict Piece"

   Folks visiting New York City today think the traffic on the streets is a problem---and it can be. But a few decades ago, the traffic on the sidewalks could be just as dangerous, at least in the one-square mile section bounded by Fifth and Ninth Avenues and 34th and 42ns Streets. Why? Because that section of New Your City ---south of Central Park in lower Manhattan---is the world-famous, historic Garment District (increasingly referred to as the Fashion District).

   The sidewalks in the Garment District used to be filled with runners, pushing and pulling large racks of suits, dresses, overcoats, sportswear, winter wear, and formal wear between shops, studios, and stores. If you weren’t careful, you were as likely to get run over by a garment rack on the sidewalks as a taxi in the streets. The sidewalks in the Garment District are still bustling today, though with fewer garment racks since less and less manufacturing of clothing is actually being done in the District today. But the Garment District is still the world’s commercial capital of fashion.

   When New York City was America’s only large city, everything happened there including, in the early 1800s, the manufacture of clothing for Southern slaves. Then the Civil War created a need for hundreds of thousands of uniforms for the Union Army, and they were made in New York City. As more and more people began buying clothes instead of making their own, the Garment District solidified its hold on garments---both design and manufacturing---in the area now known as the Garment District. Only with overseas outsourcing in recent years has manufacturing in the District declined somewhat. But the Garment District is still the heartbeat of American fashion and for much of the world.

Patterns and Pieces

   Regardless of what kind of garments are being created in the District---whether haute couture (French for “high fashion”) destined for the runways at Fashion Week, or children’s clothes destined for the backyard sandbox---every garment has something in common: they are created from patterns and pieces.

   A fashion designer may draw the initial design as a completed idea, but the final product is the result of many pieces, cut from patterns, that are sewn together. If the garment is a custom, bespoke item made to fit a single customer, expert tailors cut the pieces from cloth by hand before handing them to a seamstress. If the garment is destined for retail shops across the country and thousands of copies are planned, the pieces are cut by computer-controlled cutters from stacks of cloth, producing scores of pieces at a time.

   Weather by hand or by computer, the result is the same: pieces of cloth that will ultimately be stitched together to make a beautiful and useful garment. Will the day come when a single garment can be fashioned from a single large piece of cloth---one piece for one garment? I haven’t heard of the being done---and I’m not holding my breath. The only way to get stripes, checks, and other design elements to match up perfectly is to cut and sew the pieces by hand.

   Not surprisingly, the same is true when it comes to fashioning the garment we call life.

The Master Tailor

   Suppose I had ordered a new suit that was to be delivered on Friday afternoon to my office so it would be ready for me to wear on Sunday morning. The delivery person arrives with a box instead of a typical garment bag. Inside, I find a collection of pieces of cloth and a note: “Sorry we didn’t have time to sew your suit together. The pieces are all here---you should be able to stitch it together with no problem. Good luck!”

   Good luck indeed. You might be able to handle that task but I certainly could not. It takes a master tailor to sew the pieces together properly. And the same is true with the pieces of our life. Only God is able to take decades of “pieces” from our experience and create a garment of beauty, purpose, and uniqueness---the only life of its kind in human history! God is the Master Tailor who fashions the garment we call “You.”

   In this issue of Turning Points we will look at how God does something far more amazing than anything a human designer and tailor can do---take the past, present, and future pieces of our lives and fashion them into a garment that begins to look more and more like the image of Christ.

   You and I may never have the need, or the budget, for a custom-made suit of clothes from the best tailors in the Garment District. But we have something even better: a custom-tailored life designed and created by the Master Tailor Himself!

From: Turning Points Magazine & Devotional, August 2012, By Dr. David Jeremiah
Turning Points

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Don't Miss: "Perfect Piece"

Don't miss out on the Turning Points, "Perfect Piece" devotional.  We will be featuring this masterfully crafted devotional here on "Heaven Bound."  Let us know how this has helped you in your life's walk with Christ.

Look for the first post on September 22, 2012 entitled "LIFE in PIECES."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Featured Devotional "Perfect Piece"

   As a child of God, when looking for spiritual guidance and great devotional materials, the choices can be overwhelming. There are many great devotional writers that offer helpful Christ centered material to those who long for a closer walk with Jesus. Some of the masters include: Max Lucado, Andrew Murray, Charles Oswald Chambers and the list goes on and on. One of my favorites is Dr. David Jeremiah from “Turning Points,” a ministry of “Shadow Mountain Community Baptist church.” His spiritual insight to the word of God, and his candid ability to help others see the truth in God’s word, make him one of the devotional masters.

   In his “Turning Points Magazine and Devotional, “Perfect Piece,” Dr. David Jeremiah has woven a master piece. In it, Dr. Jeremiah skillfully intertwines the fabric, a child of God, and the Master Tailor, Jesus Christ to fashion the “Perfect Piece.”

Here is his welcome introduction to “Perfect Piece.”
“Dear Friend,

   If I looked in your closet, would I discover that you have a favorite fabric? Perhaps wool for its warmth, cotton for its softness, synthetic because it’s wrinkle free, or even linen because it’s cool and breathable in the summer. We all have a variety of fabrics and garments that we enjoy.

   But there’s one thing I daresay none of us has. Except for a scarf of shawl, none of our garments are seamless. All of our paints, shirts, dresses, coats, and other garments are made of pieces sewn together. And what is true about our clothes is also true about our lives: none of us is a seamless garment of perfection. Each of our lives is a collection of pieces---the moments, events, and circumstances that, pieced together, make us who we are.

   By contrast, Jesus owned a seamless tunic, “woven from the top in one piece” (John 19:23). That garment was like His seamless life---a life uncomplicated by scraps and fragments of sin, bad choices, or broken dreams. Fortunately, God is in the process of conforming the “pieces” of our lives into the beautiful, seamless image of Christ.

   In this issue of Turning Points, we will explore the way God is knitting and weaving together all the pieces of our lives. And that includes the pieces we think are fragments or scraps---they all have a perfect place in the Taylor-made garment God is creating for us.

Please join me for a creative look at the work of God, the Master Tailor!

Gratefully yours,

David Jeremiah”

From: Turning Points Magazine & Devotional Aug. 2012
Turning Points

   I hope you enjoy these devotions as much as I have. I will post them every week. Also share your thoughts with us and how it has helped you in your life.

Thank you

Louis Edwards