Concept ‘Refinement’

To be sure that any ‘product’ is fulfilling its intended function, one must test and evaluation to ‘clarify’ the concept. In the July 2016 post of the “Life’s Deep Thoughts” blog, I again refined the “Fruits Of The Beatitudes” concept even more.

Comments were made that said although the “reminder” actions made sense separately, some of them were confusing when taken together. So, I better related the actions to each other, and expanded the number of them so that one would only see a specific pairing once per month. The entire list is presented below (in the post), or the ‘placard’ can be downloaded by click on this link: Fruits_Of_The_Beatitudes-Pairings_Placard.pdf

While going through the refining process of the reminders, I was struck by how similar it was to the process that God puts His ‘children’ through to make them more like Jesus. [ It just so happens that “REFINING” ONE’S CHARACTER is the essence of the “Fruits Of The Beatitudes” concept ].

Last month I discussed the point in the product development process where the team seeks ‘clarification’ of the overall concept and the preliminary design up to that point by doing some testing, assessment, and getting outside input. So now, after analyzing everything, it’s time to tweak and ‘REFINE’ the design to come up with the best possible solution.

Depending on the complexity of the design, this refining process can go through multiple ‘iterations’ until either the improvements are minimal or the schedule dictates moving on to final design. Iterative design sometimes uncovers the reality of unpredictable user needs and/or behaviors that can lead to sweeping and fundamental changes in a design. That’s why it’s best to do refinement as early as possible in the development process.

A variety of benefits of the iterative design process include:
– Enabling and encouraging user feedback, to elicit the real requirements
– The development team is forced to focus on those issues that are most critical to the project
– Continuous, iterative testing enables an objective assessment of the project’s status
– Inconsistencies among requirements, designs, and implementations are detected early
– This minimizes overall risk and allows the project to adapt to changes quickly
– This approach enables the team to leverage lessons learned, and therefore continuously improve the process


Perhaps most importantly, an underlying principle of the iterative method is that until you have actually tested something, you are not going to be able to fully understand it—which can have a cascading effect on the entire design effort. When designing iteratively, you are able to much more easily adapt and change course in response to the unknown or unexpected—and by starting to analyze earlier, issues can be discovered, and you can radically reduce the chance of making ‘show-stopper’ discoveries late in the design process.

In some industries, the refining process is a bit different—it’s more about the ‘purification’ of a substance, like a natural resource. They are almost in a usable form, but are more effective in a purified form. For instance, most types of natural petroleum will burn straight from the ground, but it will burn poorly and quickly clog an engine with residues and by-products. More broadly speaking, this may include more drastic refinements, such as the reduction of ore to metal.


SO, since I am involved in my own ‘product’ development process—for the “FRUITS OF THE BEATITUDES” concept—I applied the refining process to the “reminder actions.” Comments were made that said although the actions made sense separately, some of them were confusing when taken together. So, I better related the actions to each other, and expanded the number of them so that one would only see a specific pairing once per month. [ The entire list is presented below, or the ‘placard’ can be downloaded here:
Fruits_Of_The_Beatitudes-Pairings_Placard.pdf ].


While going through the refining process of the “Fruits Of The Beatitudes” reminders, I was struck by how similar it was to the process that God puts His ‘children’ through to make them more like Jesus. [ It just so happens that “REFINING” ONE’S CHARACTER is the essence of the “Fruits Of The Beatitudes” concept ].

In the Bible, God is called a “refiner’s fire.” This is not merely a word of warning, but a tremendous word of hope. The furnace of affliction, for one in the family of God, is always for refinement, and never for destruction. “You have tested us, O God; you have purified us like silver…but you brought us to a place of great abundance” [ Psalm 66:10, 12 ].

Just like the human refiner’s fire does not destroy indiscriminately like a forest fire does, or consume completely like the fire of an incinerator. It purifies, just like God does. It melts down a bar of silver or gold, separates out the impurities that ruin its value, burns them up, and leaves the silver or gold intact. “Therefore, the Lord Almighty says this: “See, I will melt them in a crucible of affliction. I will refine them and test them like metal” [ Jeremiah 9:7 ].


The process of refining metals is used in the Bible as a metaphor of spiritual purification. In a sense, if you have something made of pure gold or pure silver, it is made of the ‘leftovers’. Gold, when extracted from the earth, does not look like the gold we see in a jewelry store. In fact, it is not always recognizable due to the impurities that mar its appearance. Yet, for the person searching for it, the ugliest lump of gold is of great value, and the potential for beauty and value is evident to them. We are similar to those lumps of unrefined gold. God sees us not full of impurity, but full of potential!

To refine gold, heat must be applied to force the impurities to the surface. As the impurities rise, they are removed and more heat is applied. This process continues, over and over again, until the gold is pure. The refiner knows the gold is pure when he looks into the gold and sees his clear reflection.

God works a similar process in us. Our lives are a process of God applying ‘heat’ to us—exposing our weaknesses, faults, and impurities. This is definitely uncomfortable, but if we submit to it, we are, day by day, transformed into Jesus’ likeness. The process ends in Heaven, when we meet Jesus face to face, and He sees His clear ‘reflection’ in us!

When the heat gets real hot, we all want to run from it, or at least resist it. So, in our childish wisdom we ask God to change our circumstances: “God it really hurts…please take it away!” But, in God’s wisdom, adversity and painful circumstances fulfill His divine purpose in our lives—refining us to be like Jesus.


As we are put under heat testing our faith, we sometimes believe that the intensity is much too great, and we will never make it through this fire. Our human desire is to give up and retreat. Though it seems intense, God will not give us more than we can handle (1 Corinthians 10:13). Though we may question God as to why we are being ‘tested’, we soon come to find that God is blessing us with the very thing we thought was the curse!

God’s plan is not to make you more independent or more self-sufficient. His plan is to make you holy and dependent on Him—desiring to give us lives far beyond what we ever could imagine (Ephesians 3:20 and Jeremiah 29:11). Again, God’s intent is not to destroy us but to purify us.


HOWEVER, it is clear that when Jesus comes back to earth in the “final days,” not everyone will be refined. Some will be consumed!

“Listen: I will send my messenger before me to prepare the way. And then the One you are looking for will come suddenly to his Temple—the Messenger of God’s promises, to bring you great joy. Yes, he is surely coming,” says the Lord Almighty. “But who can live when he appears? Who can endure his coming? For he is like a blazing fire refining precious metal, and he can bleach the dirtiest garments! Like a refiner of silver he will sit and closely watch as the dross is burned away. He will purify the Levites, the ministers of God, refining them like gold or silver, so that they will do their work for God with pure hearts. Then once more the Lord will enjoy the offerings brought to him by the people of Judah and Jerusalem, as he did before. At that time my punishments will be quick and certain; I will move swiftly against wicked men who trick the innocent, against adulterers and liars, against all those who cheat their hired hands, who oppress widows and orphans, or defraud strangers, and do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty.” [ Malachi 3:1-5 ].

This is not the work of refinement, but the final judgment of condemnation. So when the Lord comes, some are refined and some are consumed.

How can you be sure to experience the refining fire of God and not His consuming fire? Well, become a ‘child’ of God by accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior. This will ‘protect’ you from being one of those who will be consumed!

[ You can do this right now, if you would like—a “Reconciliation Prayer” is below ].


So then, after one is “born again” and receives the Holy Spirit, God uses trials and life’s circumstances to artificially ‘heat up’ your situation a bit to provide a stimulus to accomplish the needed changes in your life. “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world” [ 1 Peter 4:12-13 ].


God uses a series of temporary trials and tests to create true and permanent changes in our character. King David said, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn thy statues” (Psalms 119:71). One impurity after another will be removed over a period of time with confirming tests to check and see if the changes really took hold.

Being refined and purified is a bit stressful when you are going through it. It can sting a little bit but it strengthens our faith such that, after the sting fades away, the faith remains, and is much stronger! “Now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold, which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” [ 1 Peter 1:6-7 ].

Rest assured, you control the amount of ‘heat’ you receive by your response. If you voluntarily allow God to do His refining, then He will not have to ‘stir up your pot’ very much for Him to do His work in you. The more receptive and sensitive that you are to God, the quicker you will move through His ‘training’ program. The rewards of patiently enduring the learning process are huge. You will have an unexplainable peace, contentment, confidence, and indescribable joy when the refining process has been completed. It is literally the process of becoming holy and transforming your tainted worldly view of “normal” to one that matches God’s definition.

“He knows the time for joy, and, truly,
Will send it when He sees it meet;
When He has tried and purged thee duly,
And finds thee free from all deceit.
He comes to thee all unaware,
And makes thee own his loving care.”
[ “Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten” – Georg Neumarck (1641) ].


Primarily used in the sports world, you’ve probably heard it said, “No pain; no gain.” Well, it’s the same with the process of your spiritual purification—it can be repetitive, time-consuming, and very intense.

There is no painless path to Heaven. Why? Well, Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” [ Matthew 5:8 ]. It is no more possible to become pure painlessly than it is to be burned painlessly. Purity comes through a refining fire.

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord…for the Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives…If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children…he disciplines us for our good that we may share his holiness…Pursue holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” [ Hebrews 12:5-10, 14 ].


As it is with the many heating and cooling cycles through which the metal passes during the refining process, so is it in our own Christian ‘journey’.

Just as a development team uses the refining process to produce the best product, God uses the refining process to produce the best ‘product’ you can be—the likeness of Jesus!

Each ‘child’ of God, who is called according to His Purpose, must go through a process of refinement from our sinful life as part of our sanctification—the ‘perfection’ of our character. Little by little we reflect Jesus more and more; with an ever increasing glory we are transformed into His likeness. God values us as he finds us but he loves us too much to leave us as he finds us.


So, if you find yourself in the center of the blaze of God’s refiner’s fire, remember that He has His eye on you, and by His grace, will keep purifying you—and not let it ‘destroy’ you—until He sees His image reflected in you!


[ Excerpts from: Wikipedia; John Piper; John MacArthur; Mike Goeke; Woodrow Kroll ]




[ NOTE: The numbers indicate the day of the month and the time of the day the reminder is sent via e-mail ].

1-1: Desire to be blameless >>> Bear no grudge; Love sacrificially
1-2: Be free of selfish intentions >>> Others’ needs are greater than your own
1-3: Singleness of focus to please God >>> Love God with all your heart, mind, soul

11-1: Develop a right spirit >>> Lay down your life for your friends
11-2: Be transparent with no hidden motives >>> Do good to your ‘enemies’
11-3: Accept God’s ‘refining fire’/pruning >>> Develop a selfless love

21-1: Keep your thoughts/desires ‘pure’ >>> Love covers all offenses
21-2: Keep your promises; Have integrity >>> Love your neighbor as yourself
21-3: Seek God with your whole heart >>> Love is the highest goal to have for your life

2-1: Become a humble person >>> Be glad for your salvation/deliverance
2-2: Have a contrite heart >>> A joyful heart is good ‘medicine’
2-3: Recognize you are helpless spiritually >>> God will give you more grace

12-1: Be grieved about your sins/condition >>> God has plans for your welfare
12-2: Free yourself of self-righteousness >>> Deliverance from your ‘enemies’
12-3: Be aware of my unworthiness/inadequacies >>> See God ‘work’ in your struggles/hardships

22-1: Cry out for God’s mercy >>> God will wipe away your tears
22-2: Rid yourself of pride >>> Knowing you are saved from Hell
22-3: Recognize your spiritual poverty >>> The Holy Spirit will be your counselor

3-1: Grieve over my sins >>> Not an ‘enemy’ of God
3-2: Crying releases emotional burdens >>> God heals the brokenhearted
3-3: God promises ‘life’ in your afflictions >>> Don’t be anxious; God will provide

13-1: Repent of your sins >>> Be at peace with God
13-2: Pain may be about my ‘issues’ >>> Be content with what you have
13-3: Godly grief produces repentance >>> God will comfort you in your trials

23-1: When you share your grief, it is ‘halved’ >>> Jesus’ ‘yoke’ is easy; burden is light
23-2: Comfort those who need comfort >>> Desire to live at peace with everyone
23-3: Mourning will be wiped away >>> Keep you mind stayed on God

4-1: Don’t fight against evil; Turn other ‘cheek’ >>> Don’t act hastily; Have controlled restraint
4-2: Hardship stimulates resolve, support >>> Be steadfast in difficult circumstances
4-3: God will strengthen you in your trials >>> Don’t give up; you will ‘reap’ in due season

14-1: Don’t be surprised by confrontations >>> Slow to anger quiets contention
14-2: God will ‘rescue’ you in your trials >>> God was patient with you; Do so to others
14-3: Godliness generates antagonism, ‘reaction’ >>> God will reward you for enduring/doing right

24-1: Trials test, strengthen, mature your faith >>> Endurance produces character, hope
24-2: Don’t compromise Biblical principles >>> Steadfastness produces strong faith
24-3: Be bold for Jesus; Don’t be ashamed >>> Don’t avenge yourself; God will handle it

5-1: God’s mercy withholds just punishment >>> Do good to your ‘enemies’; Forgive
5-2: Make allowances for others’ faults >>> Benefits others, as well as yourself
5-3: Not getting something ‘bad’ you do deserve >>> Getting something good you don’t deserve

15-1: Forgive others as God forgave you >>> God will repay you for your generosity
15-2: Do good to those in need >>> It’s more blessed to give than receive
15-3: Mercy helps heal ‘wounds’ >>> Have benevolent, tender concern for all

25-1: Mercy triumphs over judgement >>> Soften the ‘harshness’ around you
25-2: Be genuinely compassionate to others >>> Lend, expecting nothing in return
25-3: Be a “Good Samaritan” >>> Evidence of the Holy Spirit ‘working’ in you

6-1: Being right with God; Freed from sin’s ‘power’ >>> Your good works demonstrate your faith
6-2: Desire to be blameless, speak thoughtfully >>> Holiness and virtue in action
6-3: Diligently avoid sinning >>> Hold fast to what is good

16-1: Have a ‘hunger’ to know God >>> Diligently seeking to do good receives favor
16-2: Help deliver others from oppression >>> Alleviate suffering and mitigate wrongs
16-3: Humbly seek God’s continual presence >>> God’s goodness is expressed thru you

26-1: Desire to please God, do His will >>> Develop a pure and virtuous character
26-2: Desire holiness more than indulgence >>> Look for ways to benefit others
26-3: Totally surrender to Jesus’ Lordship >>> Yielding to the Spirit produces goodness

7-1: Resolve conflicts; Reconcile adversaries >>> God will work everything out for good
7-2: Jesus reconciled you to God >>> Imitate God’s faithfulness to you to others
7-3: Help people get ‘right’ with God >>> God blesses the faithful servant

17-1: Unite the divided, promote understanding >>> Have a strong sense of duty
17-2: Fix the problem, not the blame >>> Show your faith by your works
17-3: Resolve problems with God’s truth >>> You ‘walk’ by faith, not sight

27-1: Faithfully bring forth justice >>> Rely upon God for your moral convictions
27-2: Desire to live in peace with everyone >>> Be trustworthy, loyal, and dependable
27-3: Peace is the presence of righteousness >>> Imitate Jesus’ faithfulness (the Cross)

8-1: Forego your rights to benefit others >>> Think of others better than yourself
8-2: Have a tender ‘heart’ and a tough ‘skin’ >>> Not ‘weak’; Strength under control
8-3: Get rid of all filthy wickedness >>> Be clear about the holiness of God

18-1: Righteous anger; Tender without surrender >>> Correct others with easiness
18-2: Be slow to speak, quick to listen >>> A soft answer turns away wrath
18-3: Bear no grudges; Don’t defend yourself >>> Gentle speech breaks down rigid defenses

28-1: Give preference to others; Be gracious >>> Don’t be divisive; Accept correction
28-2: Don’t ‘cave in’ on your convictions >>> Have a quiet, peaceable spirit
28-3: Show perfect courtesy toward all people >>> Free of malice and a condescending spirit

9-1: Don’t be shocked; Develops your character >>> Seek God’s wisdom for how to react
9-2: Never pay back evil with more evil >>> React to stressful situations slowly
9-3: Entrust yourself to God, Who judges justly >>> Relinquish your will to the Holy Spirit

19-1: Refuse to retaliate; God will repay >>> Frees you from a guilty conscience
19-2: Suffering for Jesus has great spiritual value >>> The body is a good servant but bad master
19-3: God will give you joy during afflictions >>> Control your focus; Master your feelings

29-1: God uses this to ‘fashion’ you for His Kingdom >>> Practice self-denial, self-sacrifice
29-2: The greater the insults, the greater the rewards >>> Gain control by ‘surrendering’ control to God
29-3: Focus on Heaven and eternal blessings >>> Gives you liberty to live God’s plans for you


The key to the fruitful life is to remain in the “true vine” ( John 15:5). Stay ‘connected’ to Jesus (being diligent in studying your Bible) and be ‘aware’ of the Spirit working in your life. Those who abide will “produce much fruit”—a life that will ‘glorify’ God, and one that He will be ‘happy’ with and bless you for. [Dates:10, 20, 30].


God’s goal for the Christian is to conform us into the ‘likeness’ of Jesus— in our character, conversations, and conduct—such that when we meet someone they sense that they have ‘experienced’ the love of Jesus!


“He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” [2 Corinthians 9:6]. It’s been said that if you “Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an action and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.” That would be eternity in Heaven with God!

If you are interested in finding out more about this “Fruits Of The Beatitudes” concept—or want to get started with it (developing the character quality that Jesus stating in the “Beatitudes” and develop the actions of the “fruit of the Spirit), then click on the following link…there’s just 3 SIMPLE STEPS:



If you would like to ‘give’ your life to Jesus, you can do it right now—right where you are. There’s no magical words to say, you just need to believe in your ‘heart’ that God’s own Son, Jesus Christ, is God in the flesh, rose from the dead, and is alive today—and when He died on the cross, He took your place as your substitute sacrifice for your sins. If you sincerely believe this, then admit you are a sinner, confess your sins, and that you will trust Jesus alone for your salvation, committing your life to His service.

You could say something like the following (in your own words if you would like):

Dear Lord Jesus,
I understand that I am a sinner, and I can’t save myself. I sincerely repent of my sins, and ask You for forgiveness and mercy. I believe that You died on the cross as my substitute, paying my sin debt in full so that I could receive Your forgiveness and have eternal life. I ask You to come into my life right now and become my personal Savior. From this day forward, I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and ask you to send the Holy Spirit into my life, to take control, and guide me be the kind of person you want me to be. Give me a ‘new beginning’, and help me to live for You. Amen.



As Silver Refined: Answers to Life’s Disappointments
By: Kay Arthur

What Can You Do When Life Doesn’t Turn Out Like You Planned?

How do you respond when your husband or wife tramples your emotions? When your boss fires you unexpectedly? When you lose your life’s savings? When the child you’ve loved and prayed for turns his back on you and your values?

When disappointments like these smash their way into your life, you may want to scream, “How could God let this happen?”

But what if God didn’t just “let it happen”? What if the things you call disappointments are really His appointments—events He is using to make you more like Christ? What if your circumstances are actually the flames of His grace, intended to melt and burn away the undesirable elements in your life, leaving you pure and radiant—like refined silver?

You can be defeated by life’s unavoidable disappointments, or you can become stronger because of them.

Life’s disappointments can send you on a dangerous downward spiral into discouragement, depression, or even despair. But in this eye-opening book, Kay Arthur guides you to biblical truths that will help you break that cycle and instead embrace disappointment as the cleansing fire God uses to make you—as silver refined—a reflection of His goodness.

Walking Through the Fire: Finding the Purpose of Pain in the Christian Life
By: James R. Lucas

Building on the image of God’s refining and purifying fire, this book explains God’s purpose for pain in a Christian’s life. It lists 10 purposes of discipline and seven purposes of punishment, explains the crucial differnece between discipline and punishment, and identifies the right response to discipline and the right response to punishment.

Trials: God’s Refining Fire
By: June Hunt

Everyone faces trials. Whether it’s losing a job or losing a loved one, when trials hit they often make us wonder Whywhy this? Why now? Why me? Packed with easy-to-understand explanations, Bible verses, and biblical encouragement, this book shows how God uses trials of life to refine us, strengthen us, and transforms us into His glorious image. Find out how to stand on God’s promises and be encouraged during tough times.

A Disciple’s Heart Daily Workbook: Growing in Love and Grace
By: Justin LaRosa and James A. Harnish

Discipleship in the Methodist tradition affirms that there is always more work for God to do in the human heart. A Disciple’s Heart attempts to reclaim and, in a sense, reinterpret for today John Wesley’s understanding of this transformation of the heart, which he called “Christian perfection,” with the goal of equipping participants to continue to grow into the likeness of God’s love in Christ.

You Are Coming Out Better
By: Joel Uzoma

“You Are Coming Out Better is a book that defines strategic practical biblical steps that empower Christians to overcome tough, and challenging circumstances of life in their daily walk of faith. There are many phases to pass through in the journey of life as you practice the Christian faith. Every phase is crucial to finishing well at the end of it all. Sometimes, challenging situations erupt like volcanoes, and stand tall like immovable mountains to confront you. When such situations arise, living becomes like a nightmare, hope and expectations vanish like steam vapor, and purpose starts to look like an unrealizable dream. Under these circumstances, you should stand strong in the faith of Jesus Christ, and follow the outlined practical biblical principles in the book to ride through to a victorious end. You should also realize that difficult situations do not define your end, but only God does.”

Gold Tried In The Fire: Tested Truths for Trying Times
By: Greg Hinnant

The Scriptures clearly explain that believers should expect to endure trials in their lives. Both New and Old Testament writings offer hope and promises of victory during hardship, but many believers lack the understanding of Scripture and spiritual maturity to effectively persevere through, much less learn from, difficult circumstances. Author and minister Greg Hinnant teaches how we can become like refined gold by striving to overcome our trials, a teaching based on Revelation 3: 18: “Buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich.”

(The ATTITUDES of Jesus that produce the CHARACTER of Jesus)


[ Mark Besh ]


[ P.S.: If you would like to investigate further about what the Bible has to say about producing certain traits in our lives, visit the following link: ].



If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at:



Iterative design is a design methodology based on a cyclic process of prototyping, testing, analyzing, and refining a product or process. Based on the results of testing the most recent iteration of a design, changes and refinements are made. This process is intended to ultimately improve the quality and functionality of a design. In iterative design, interaction with the designed system is used as a form of research for informing and evolving a project, as successive versions, or iterations of a design are implemented. [ More… ]

[ Wikipedia ]


The phrase OODA loop refers to the decision cycle of Observe,Orient, Decide, and Act, developed by military strategist and United States Air Force Colonel John Boyd. Boyd applied the concept to the combat operations process, often at the strategic level in military operations. It is now also often applied to understand commercial operations and learning processes. The approach favors agility over raw power in dealing with human opponents in any endeavor.

The OODA loop has become an important concept in litigation,[1] business[2] and military strategy. According to Boyd, decision-making occurs in a recurring cycle of observe-orient-decide-act. An entity (whether an individual or an organization) that can process this cycle quickly, observing and reacting to unfolding events more rapidly than an opponent can thereby “get inside” the opponent’s decision cycle and gain the advantage. Frans Osinga argues that Boyd’s own views on the OODA loop are much deeper, richer, and more comprehensive than the common interpretation of the “rapid OODA loop” idea. [ More…].

[ Wikipedia ]

(About prototyping and iterative design)

Several years ago here at TED, Peter Skillman introduced a design challenge called the marshmallow challenge. And the idea’s pretty simple: Teams of four have to build the tallest free-standing structure out of 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string and a marshmallow. The marshmallow has to be on top. And, though it seems really simple, it’s actually pretty hard because it forces people to collaborate very quickly. And so, I thought this was an interesting idea, and I incorporated it into a design workshop. And it was a huge success. And since then, I’ve conducted about 70 design workshops across the world with students and designers and architects, even the CTOs of the Fortune 50, and there’s something about this exercise that reveals very deep lessons about the nature of collaboration, and I’d like to share some of them with you.

So the question you want to ask is: How come? Why? What is it about them? And Peter likes to say that none of the kids spend any time trying to be CEO of Spaghetti, Inc. Right? They don’t spend time jockeying for power. But there’s another reason as well. And the reason is that business students are trained to find the single right plan, right? And then they execute on it. And then what happens is, when they put the marshmallow on the top, they run out of time and what happens? It’s a crisis. Sound familiar? Right. What kindergarteners do differently is that they start with the marshmallow, and they build prototypes, successive prototypes, always keeping the marshmallow on top, so they have multiple times to fix when they build prototypes along the way. Designers recognize this type of collaboration as the essence of the iterative process. And with each version, kids get instant feedback about what works and what doesn’t work.

So the capacity to play in prototype is really essential, but let’s look at how different teams perform. So the average for most people is around 20 inches; business schools students, about half of that; lawyers, a little better, but not much better than that, kindergarteners, better than most adults. Who does the very best? Architects and engineers, thankfully. (Laughter) Thirty-nine inches is the tallest structure I’ve seen. And why is it? Because they understand triangles and self-reinforcing geometrical patterns are the key to building stable structures. So CEOs, a little bit better than average, but here’s where it gets interesting. If you put you put an executive admin. on the team, they get significantly better. (Laughter) It’s incredible. You know, you look around, you go, “Oh, that team’s going to win.” You can just tell beforehand. And why is that? Because they have special skills of facilitation. They manage the process, they understand the process. And any team who manages and pays close attention to work will significantly improve the team’s performance. Specialized skills and facilitation skills are the combination that leads to strong success. If you have 10 teams that typically perform, you’ll get maybe six or so that have standing structures.

[ Tom Wujec – Autodesk Fellow ]

[ RELATED: “Marshmallow Challenge”: Encourages teams to experience simple but profound lessons in collaboration, innovation and creativity; Improving a team’s capacity to generate fresh ideas, build rapport and incorporate prototyping – all of which lie at the heart of effective innovation. – ].

Agile software development is a set of principles for software development in which requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams. It promotes adaptive planning, evolutionary development, early delivery, and continuous improvement, and it encourages rapid and flexible response to change. Agile itself has never defined any specific methods to achieve this, but many have grown up as a result and have been recognized as being ’Agile’.

The Agile Manifesto is based on twelve principles:
– Customer satisfaction by early and continuous delivery of valuable software
– Welcome changing requirements, even in late development
– Working software is delivered frequently (weeks rather than months)
– Close, daily cooperation between business people and developers
– Projects are built around motivated individuals, who should be trusted
– Face-to-face conversation is the best form of communication (co-location)
– Working software is the principal measure of progress
– Sustainable development, able to maintain a constant pace
– Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design
– Simplicity—the art of maximizing the amount of work not done—is essential
– Best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams
– Regularly, the team reflects on how to become more effective, and adjusts accordingly


There burns a fire with sacred heat
White hot with holy flame
And all who dare pass through its blaze
Will not emerge the same
Some as bronze, and some as silver
Some as gold, then with great skill
All are hammered by their sufferings
On the anvil of His will

The Refiner’s fire
Has now become my souls desire
Purged and cleansed and purified
That the Lord be glorified
He is consuming my soul
Refining me, making me whole
No matter what I may lose
I choose the Refiner’s fire

I’m learning now to trust His touch
To crave the fire’s embrace
For though my past with sin was etched
His mercies did erase
Each time His purging cleanses deeper
I’m not sure that I’ll survive
Yet the strength in growing weaker
Keeps my hungry soul alive

[ Steve Green – “The Mission” album ]


Throughout my life, the most profound “word picture” in the Bible has always been the Refiner’s Fire. As a young adult, the image of the Lord being my Refiner helped me endure some of my most difficult trials. Therefore, I’ve chosen to share with you the topic of Trials . . . through the eyes of our Refiner.

In both the Old and New Testaments, we find numerous references to the refining of gold and silver . . . as a parallel of God’s refining us through painful trials. This unforgettable allegory is meant to help us understand the purpose beyond our pain—to conform us to the character of Christ. Clearly, we don’t develop Christlike character all at once. Character is forged over time, especially through fiery trials. Indeed, God is our Refiner. Psalm 66:10 says, “For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver.”

Because the Bible is filled with images of God working as the Refiner in our lives, we can gain much insight by understanding the refining process.

Stage I: The Breaking
—The refiner breaks up the natural ore.

In biblical times, a refiner began by breaking up rough ore—hardened rock encased with common minerals such as tin, copper, and zinc. But that rock also had the promise of valuable, rare metals hidden within—the precious metals of gold and silver. The breaking of the rock is necessary to begin the refining process to expose highly valuable metals to heat. The Lord communicates His perfect plan to us—we are rough rock in need of refining fire. “‘Is not my word like fire,’ declares the Lord, ‘and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?’” (Jeremiah 23:29).

Stage II: The Crucible
—The refiner places unrefined silver into a crucible.

The refiner puts broken, crushed ore into a “crucible”—a fireproof melting pot able to withstand extreme heat. Then the refiner places the crucible into the furnace at the precise temperature necessary for removing other metals that would mar the quality of the gold or silver. Just as the furnace is used to purify silver in the crucible, our Refiner uses heat to purify our hearts and cleanse our character. Proverbs 17:3 says, “The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart.”

Stage III: The Dross
—The refiner places the crucible in the heated furnace to remove dross.

As the ore melts in the crucible under the watchful eye of the refiner, a layer of impurities called “dross” eventually forms on the surface. The Bible says, “Remove the dross from the silver, and a silversmith can produce a vessel” (Proverbs 25:4). For us individually, dross represents any misplaced dependency—any wrong motive, wrong attitude, wrong action—anything that keeps us from being all that God wants us to be.

Stage IV: The Heat
—The refiner raises the temperature to higher degrees.

After the refiner painstakingly skims off these impurities, he then turns up the heat and places the crucible back into the blistering furnace. Again and again (up to seven times, we are told in historical literature) impurities rise to the surface. He knows that only certain impurities are released at certain temperatures. Psalm 12:6 says, “And the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times.”

Stage V: The Purification
—The refiner continues to remove the impurities.

Each time, with utmost skill and patience, the refiner removes the dross, leaving behind gleaming gold and shimmering silver . . . more pure and precious than before. To gauge his progress, the refiner looks for his own reflection on the surface of the silver-filled crucible. The more dross removed, the less distorted his reflection. The Bible says our Refiner sits over the refining process to purify us, “He knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job 23:10).

Stage VI: The Reflection
—The refiner sees a clear image of himself.

Only when the refiner looks into the crucible and sees a clear reflection of himself is the process complete. Finally, the silver attains its highest degree of purity! And that, my friend, describes our Refiner’s loving intentions for allowing us to be in the “furnace of affliction.” As we trust Him to use our trials to cleanse our character and purify our hearts, we will begin to see the “silver lining.” Isaiah 48:10 says, “See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.”

But how do we hang on to hope in the midst of our trials, especially when the heat is turned up beyond what we think we can bear? We persevere by pressing into the heart of the One who allowed the trial . . . trusting in His perfect plan and His character . . . and surrendering our will to His will.

Remember, the pain God allows in your life is purposeful. The heat is never intended to destroy you, only to conform you into the character of Christ. His gaze is continually affixed to your crucible. As the heat of painful circumstances intensifies in your life, know that the Lord will never leave you nor forsake you. “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify . . . and refine them like gold and silver” (Malachi 3:3).

As you allow the Master Refiner to do His work, transforming your life into His image, I’d like to share a Scripture that has been the bedrock in my own life, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze” (Isaiah 43:2). My prayer is that these words from the Lord will be a comfort to you as they have been to me.

This month I want to offer a powerful resource to help you—and help you help others—walk with the Lord through trials. Filled with biblical hope and practical help, our Quick Reference Guide on Trials is an inspirational source of comfort and peace. You can download your free copy today at At Hope For The Heart, there is not a day that passes that the Lord doesn’t bring people to us who are in the midst of traumatic trials. Many are being reached through our books which are available in 28 languages, our broadcasts, our worldwide counseling Hope Centers, the monthly Biblical Counseling Institute, the telephone Care Center helpline, and many other avenues. We consider it the highest privilege to share God’s Truth for Today’s Problems with each person. It is a blessing and a privilege to partner with you in this effort.

[ June Hunt – Hope For The Heart ]

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

In every condition, in sickness, in health;
In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth;
At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea,
As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

Even down to old age all My people shall prove
My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs they shall still in My bosom be borne.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

[ Written by: John Rippon (1787); Performed by: Sovereign Grace Music from their album “Together for the Gospel Live” ]

(Parody of “How You Remind Me” by Nickelback)

I never made it as a lineman
I couldn’t cut it as a Pittsburgh Steeler
I’m tired of losin’ all the time, man
But sin keeps sendin’ my defenses reelin’
And this is how You rewind me
This is how You rewind me up when I’m really bad
This is how You rewind me up when I’m really bad

I’m not like You — I’m so sorry
The world’s waitin’ on a distant glory
Each time I’m mistaken
Lord thanks to You I’m not forsaken
And I’ve been wrong; I’ve been down
But through the problems and every battle
These five words in my head scream “But He isn’t done yet”
Yet, yet, yet, oh no, yet, yet, yet, oh no

It’s not like I didn’t know better
I still don’t want to do the things I still do
It must have been Romans 7
Cause livin’ in me is the sin that killed You
And this is how You rewind me up when I’m really bad
This is how You rewind me up when I’m really bad

Seems all I do is say I’m sorry
You’re Word’s waiting with forgiveness for me
It’s time I put faith in 3:22 in Lamentations
And I’ve been wrong, You bent down
And turned the bottomless pits to potholes
These five words in my head scream “But He isn’t done yet”
Yet, yet, yet, oh no, yet, yet, yet, oh no
Yet, yet, yet, oh no, yet, yet, yet, oh no

I never made it as a nice man
I could be counted as the poor in spirit
And this is how You designed me
This is how You REFINE ME
This is how You rewind me up when I’m really bad
This is how You rewind me up when I’m really bad

You blot out my sins – Isaiah 43
And 1:18 — Your forgiveness floors me
This time I’m just beggin’
Lord can You cure my heart’s frustration?
And I’ve been wrong, I’ve been down
But soon my problems are getting smaller
These five words in my head scream “But He isn’t done yet”
Yet, yet, oh He isn’t done yet,
Yet, yet, oh He isn’t done yet
Yet, yet.

[ ApologetiX – “Grace Period” album ]



“Great design is iteration of good design.”
[ M. Cobanli ]

“The Hacker Way is an approach to building that involves continuous improvement and iteration. Hackers believe that something can always be better, and that nothing is ever complete.
[ Mark Zuckerberg ]

“Few ideas work on the first try. Iteration is key to innovation.”
[ Sebastian Thrun ]

“The product team should research two iterations ahead, design one iteration ahead, and review the previous iteration.”
[ Cennydd Bowles ]

“Adam was refined dirt; Eve was a glorious refinement of humanity itself.”
[ John MacArthur ]

“The beauty of this picture is that the refiner looks into the open furnace, or pot, and knows that the process of purifying is complete, and the dross all burnt away, when he can see his image plainly reflected in the molten metal.”
[ James Neil ]

“The sitting posture shows that the refiner may seem indifferent, but He is not. He is carefully working with the silver, burning off and scraping away the dross that that the flames bring to the top. “I think I see in the sitting down of the refiner a settled patience, as if he seemed to say, ‘This is stern work, and I will sit down to it, for it will need care, and time, and constant watchfulness.’”
[ Charles Haddon Spurgeon ]


I hope you enjoyed some of these insights—share them with your friends and colleagues—so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from, and more to share with! Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

“These trials are only to test your faith, to see whether or not it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests gold and purifies it—and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold; so if your faith remains strong after being tried in the test tube of fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day of his return.” [ 1 Peter 1:7 ].



Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

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