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Pastor's Pen

Brittle or Better?

Dear Friends,

I trust you are doing well and looking forward to the Lord's Day.

Most people today when asked why the Titanic sank in the waters of the North Atlantic will tell you because it hit an iceberg. But the ship was designed to handle such a collision without sinking. The problem was the brittle metal in the ship's hull which proved the ship's undoing. Mark Eberhart explains this in his fascinating book entitled "Why Things Break" subtitled Understand the world by the way it comes apart.
Eberhart explains that the steel in the Titanic was produced in acid-lined, open-hearth furnaces in Glasgow, Scotland. This type of furnace did not remove the sulfur and phosphorus in the steel, both of which are impurities and which weaken metal. Had the steel been heated more and manganese added, it would have formed manganese-sulfide and blocked the weakening effects of the sulfur. When samples of the recovered ship were examined, it was discovered that the steel in the Titanic contained twice the safe amount of sulfur and four times the phosphorus, but only half the recommended amount of manganese. As a result the metal was weak and brittle.   When the steel hull of the Titanic - in water -2 degrees C - collided with the iceberg, the brittle steel of the hull ruptured two watertight compartments causing the ship to sink. Fifteen hundred people perished that night due to the weak metal that formed the hull of the Titanic.
The Bible often uses the imagery of gold being refined as a picture of what God does in our lives. God allows us to go through a refining process to refine us, make us stronger - less brittle - so when we hit life's icebergs we will not sink and perish.
Zechariah 13:9 says it best:
I will put this third into the fire,
    and refine them as one refines silver,
      and test them as gold is tested.
They will call upon my name, 
    and I will answer them.
I will say, 'They are my people.'
When life gets hot and difficult, embrace the heat. God is using it to make us less brittle and better! 
See you Sunday
Pastor Doug

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