Present Through Suffering

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance…” – Romans 5:3 We talked yesterday about the importance of not asking too many questions during the winter seasons of our lives. Today, I want to provide another tip that can aid us in navigating the difficult times we are in: be present in your suffering. I’ve previously told the story of a boy and a silver ball on a string, and it perfectly illustrates the argument I want to make today. It’s a Russian tale about a school-aged child who meets a fairy while roaming through the woods. She gives him a present during the encounter, which appears to be a simple silver ball on a piece of string but is actually a magic wand that allows him to pull the string and fast forward past difficult aspects of his life. While

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The Opposites of Winter

“Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” – Hosea 6:3 Today, as we continue our examination of cold seasons, I’d like to point out that they can be lonely. Maybe you went from a position of leadership or connection to one of isolation, and you no longer feel connected to the people who used to bring you joy. Whether it was a move, the loss of a job, a funeral, or a disagreement with relatives, loneliness may plague you and distort your perspective on life and situations. For instance, a place or pastime that used to bring you joy can now serve as a painful reminder of what you’ve lost. It’s excruciating. Yosemite is one of my favorite locations

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Winter from Two Perspectives

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, will never cease.” – Genesis 8:22 After the holidays, many of us are disappointed. We pack up the Christmas decorations, our hearts heavy with the knowledge that the festivities and celebrations are done. January, on the other hand, is brimming with potential and the promise of new beginnings. This is why I think winter is only a matter of perspective. I relocated to Oklahoma from California when I was a teenager, as I’ve already mentioned. It was a difficult adjustment for me, especially since it was my first time dealing with the brutal and piercing cold of winter. Then there was a snow day, and I got to skip school. I had never experienced a snow day before, and I recall thinking to myself at the time, “well, maybe this isn’t so

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God’s Glory is Declared Through Creation

“For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.” – Romans 8:19 Did you know that it is human nature to believe in God? According to a recent Pew study, 90% of Americans believe in God. However, I’m prepared to guess that everyone in the jungles of Africa, for example, believes in Him. Children, too, believe in Him until they’re taught otherwise. This is because our natural state is one of belief; it is hardwired into us to look around in amazement and recognize that there must be a Creator of all the beauty we experience with our senses. The world is full of the Lord’s glory; I believe we see it all around us all of the time, and science is continuously discovering new aspects of creation’s wonder. Albert Einstein’s discovery that all matter is energy was one of the most important discoveries

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Out of Slavery

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of slavery.” – Exodus 20:2 In Biblical times, the Jews traditionally taught that the first of the Ten Commandments is “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of slavery,” rather than “You shall have no other gods before Me.” However, many Reformed Christians argue that the former is a statement rather than a command. In fact, commentary after commentary — written by both Christians and Jews — has been dedicated to this subject, and many build a compelling case for it being a statement at best. Nevertheless, because I favor the Jewish interpretation of Scripture, I’m convinced that not only is it a command, but that it’s also a promise. In fact, when we note that the last word in the sentence is “slavery,” it points us to the theological truth

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The God of Seasons

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1,2 Today is the first day of spring, and if you’re like me, you’re joyfully anticipating the new life that it brings. Especially after the extended impact of COVID-19 and the unprecedented challenges we’ve faced over the past year, we’re ready for a page to turn. However, to put things into perspective, it’s important to remember that springtime is only possible because of the falling leaves of autumn and the barren cold of winter. We serve a God of seasons, and no matter how difficult each one is, they all have distinct beauty and a divinely-appointed purpose. Today, we see evidence of vibrancy and hope, but the fruits of this time have only come

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Growing Closer to God Through Grief

“There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.” – Luke 2:36,37 For the last couple of days, we’ve been talking about Simeon and how, as an old man, he was finally able to see his Messiah in the flesh. Interestingly, he had a female counterpart in the story of Jesus’ birth, and her name was Anna. The Bible calls her a prophet, and we learn in Luke 2 that she lost her husband after just seven years of marriage. Assuming she was married at the age of 15 or 16 (as most girls at that time would have been), she was probably only 22 or 23

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On Earth as It Is in Heaven

“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” – Matthew 6:10 Not only do I love the Lord’s Prayer because it’s the perfect model for us to follow as we approach our Heavenly Father but also because it reflects the heart of God. Jesus taught us to pray: “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” Though it’s easy to gloss over that phrase, it actually paints a very powerful picture of the manner in which the Lord of Creation wants His will, priorities, and power to prevail on this planet. Many of us get so focused on reaching eternity that we forget there is work to do here and now. While it’s tempting to discard the future of the world, especially when it looks chaotic and uncertain, it’s important to remember that as Christ’s disciples, we are

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Chiseled to Perfection

“Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” – Isaiah 64:8 Since wood wasn’t plentiful in ancient Israel, it’s unlikely that Jesus was a carpenter in the true sense of the word, even though that’s what’s traditionally been taught. Because most structures in the Roman world were hewn from stone, there’s a high probability that He was actually a stonemason. I find this interesting, especially in light of the fact that the Lord chose His own profession. Since He is sovereign over all circumstances, He picked exactly how He would arrive in the world, where He would be born, and what He would do as a trade. It speaks clearly to His nature that He decided to foreshadow physically what He does spiritually — chip away at hard and unformed rock to create something beautiful and

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