Kindness Through Discipline

    June 01, 2023 | Letters from the Lead Pastor by Brandon Lenhart

       “Go down to the potter’s shop, and I will speak to you there.” So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over.
        Then the LORD gave me this message: “O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand."
    Jeremiah 18:2-6 (NLT)

        Jeremiah, the prophet of GOD, lived during one of the most difficult and tumultuous times in the nation of Israel's history. A contemporary of Habakkuk, Jeremiah's calling was to proclaim warning and judgment on GOD's people because of their abominable and wicked behavior. Having given in to pagan worship and practices of the surrounding nations, the people of Israel worshiped the gods of Baal, Ashtoreth, Ishtar, and Molech (among others). These so-called gods demanded sexual deviance, child sacrifice, and a myriad of deplorable acts that sent Israel spiraling away from GOD (Yahweh). Suffice it to say, in those last days Jeremiah wept a lot over the task he was given. Truly it's never a joyous thing to proclaim destruction. However, proclaim GOD's message to the people he did.
        Throughout the Old Testament book that bears his name, Jeremiah was given many examples by GOD to explain to the people. One such example was taken from witnessing a potter working the clay on his potter's wheel. As the potter worked the clay it wasn't taking the shape he had hoped, so he crushed the clay into a clump in order to begin again.
        Just like the potter and the clay, GOD desires to shape and mold us into beautiful, amazing, and acceptable beings, however, at times - like the clay - we have a mind of our own that turns us into something other than GOD desires. Like the clay resisted the potter's hands, so we too resist GOD's will and ways as He tries to shape and mold us by His tender touch and love. But GOD disciplines those He loves, and as a part of that discipline, He sometimes must crush us in order to reshape us. Have you ever felt crushed? Have you ever placed yourself in such a position to feel or experience the discipline of GOD?
        In our culture today, we too seem to be in a similar situation that GOD's people found themselves in Jeremiah's day. As a nation built on Judaeo/Christian Scripture and values, we have drifted far from what we once were. True, we have scars from past failures (slavery, women's voting rights, abortion, etc.) that have left a very visible expression of our imperfection, but we have learned and grown from those things and made the necessary course corrections to keep our eyes fixed on GOD. Today, however, we have seemingly gone to such extremes that judgment seems inevitable. Are we at a place where the Potter must crush the clay and start over?
        As is the kind nature of GOD, it's never too late to avoid disaster. If we read further in chapter 18 of Jeremiah, we see the love of GOD patiently allowing his people to turn once again toward Him and avoid destruction. Listen to His words:

    "If I announce that a certain nation or kingdom is to be
    uprooted, torn down, and destroyed, but then that nation
    renounces its evil ways, I will not destroy it as I had planned.
    And if I announce that I will plant and build up a certain
    nation or kingdom, but then that nation turns to evil and
    refuses to obey me, I will not bless it as I said I would."

        So, what are we to do as the body of Christ in our day and age? We must renounce our evil ways and turn back to GOD. We must stand strong and uncompromising in our determination to remain faithful to GOD. We must remain moldable and pliable in the Potter's hands. In addition, we must continue to love the way that He first loved us. We must continue to show a different way to the world around us. Let's submit to the Potter's hands.

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