pain

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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The Struggle is Real

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” – Psalm 40:2 How are you doing? When’s the last time someone asked you that question? If it wasn’t too long ago, how did you respond? I think many of us, when queried on our condition or status, give a canned or rote response rather than answering in a way that reflects the true state of our being. While this is fine in casual encounters, it’s beneficial for each of us to pause occasionally and take an account of the state of our hearts and souls. Here in Southern California, COVID-19 remains at the forefront of our lives, and we were recently faced with another shutdown. For many, the feeling of going backwards is especially difficult, and while I realize that

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The Sting of Severity

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” – Philippians 2:14-16 When Epaphroditus visited the imprisoned Apostle Paul, he had an opportunity to share with his friend, who was also the congregation’s founder, that false teaching had seeped into the doctrine of the church at Philippi. Though they had been schooled in freedom and grace, they were allowing legalism in things like dietary restrictions and mandatory circumcision to penetrate their ranks. Such unfortunate news compelled Paul to address these practices in a letter, and thus we have the book of Philippians. In this famous epistle, the apostle gives guidance to the church about legalism, which is something he could speak on with great

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