Reflections by the Pond

#696: Ain't No Mountain High Enough

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February 23, 2015

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

Back in the 1960s several versions of the Ashford/Simpson song "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" were recorded. My favorite has always been the Diana Ross album version recorded in 1969, and released in 1970. After a long absence, I recently listened to it again, and found it oddly moving. The music is driving, broad, luxurious, and it is certainly possible for music alone to touch my soul. But this time it seemed that the lyrics were reaching into me, moving me even to tears. How in the world could it possibly be that the words of a forty-five-year-old teenage love song would move me so?

Then I realized what it was. Diana Ross may have been singing about human love ("If you should ever miss the arms / That used to hold you so close, or the lips / That used to touch you so tenderly"), but in much of the words my heart was hearing a song about the persistent devotion that exists between God the Father and His children...

#695: The Family Business

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February 16, 2015

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named. Ephesians 3:14-15 nkjv

As my dad's son, I bore a responsibility to uphold my family's good name. Brought up in a relatively small town, most people with whom I came into contact knew whose son I was. My behavior mattered. I didn't ask for that responsibility; it came with my birth.

At our second birth, our birth into the family of God through Christ, we are given a new last name: Christian. We are born into Christ's kingdom, with all its benefits and responsibilities. As children of the King, we bear the obligation to uphold the good family name—not to bring shame and dishonor upon the family...

#694: Skipping Stones

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February 9, 2015

Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.
Acts 17:21

We do not come to know the fullness of God by picking and choosing from the bright and pretty sparkles offered in the spiritualized smorgasbord of the church universal, or the latest gewgaws arrayed in the Bible Book store. Neither do we come to know Him to this degree by just spending more time reading our Bibles, reading more Christian self-help books, watching videos about how to be a better Christian, or studying more commentaries by the leading scholars.

We do not obtain knowledge of God by going to the library and reading about Him; we obtain knowledge of God by living with Him, by opening ourselves to receive from Him every day...

#693: A Cautionary Tale

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February 2, 2015

And immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died.
Acts 12:23

When we get puffed up, believing our own press releases; when we gladly accept the praise of people without redirecting it upward; when we exchange our humility for the shiny glad rags of pride—when we forget that the Lord God is a jealous God who does not share His glory, then we should tremble with fear before His potential wrath...

#692: Unseen Things Above

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January 26, 2015

Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help
And rely on horses,
And trust in chariots because they are many
And in horsemen because they are very strong,
But they do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the Lord!
Isaiah 31:1

If we drill down to the root of humanity, shaving off every layer of paint and chrome and artifice to expose bare metal, we find that there are essentially two kinds of people: those who place their faith—their trust, their dependency, their hope—in those things that can be seen, and those who place their faith in things that are unseen. Some trust in the things of this earth, while others trust in things of the Spirit—not the many "spirits," but the one Spirit from above...

#691: I Am Still Here

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January 19, 2015

"The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are but aliens and sojourners with Me."
Leviticus 25:23

Like the cleansing blanket of snow falling upon dead and dirty weeds, our sins are covered by the redemptive blood of Christ. Once is sufficient; it need never be sought again. But as the believer proceeds through his journey in mortal flesh, inevitably he will become soiled by the climate of sin in which he must dwell. Both from without and within, he suffers from living where not everyone knows and belongs to his Savior. So it becomes necessary to seek out and find relief...

#690: An Awful Thing

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January 12, 2015

To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
Colossians 1:2

It requires an atypical thought process for us to think of ourselves as "holy," "sacred," "consecrated." Such a perspective goes against everything we know about ourselves. But Paul uses a word that reminds us that we are, indeed, holy things because we are in Christ. And that astounding truth should inform our every waking minute...

#689: A Special Affection

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January 5, 2015

"The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the Lord loved you..." Deuteronomy 7:7-8a

Everything God does is based on His own righteousness, not the imperfect merit of others. He loved us before we were even a twinkle in our dad's eye—because God's love for us is based on Himself, not us. He loved us before we knew Him, when we hated Him, when we considered Him brutishly unfair—because God's love for us is based on Himself, not our future faith. He loved us when we ignored Him, thinking Him ineffective, even impotent—because God's love for us is based on Himself, not our behavior. He loved us even when in our anger we rebelled against His lordship, His decisions that didn't square with ours—because God's love for us is based on Himself, not our faithfulness in loving Him...

#688: For Goodness Sake

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December 29, 2014

"Arise, shine; for your light has come,
And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you."
Isaiah 60:1

Every person must decide for himself: Is the child of Christmas really God incarnate, or is he just another cute baby?

Do you want to see God's glory? Look in the manger. Do you want to see God's love? Look to the cross...

#687: Shadows & Light

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December 22, 2014

The people who walk in darkness
Will see a great light;
Those who live in a dark land,
The light will shine on them.
Isaiah 9:2

Who can argue that this world does not remain in darkness? Who among us can make the case that humanity has finally "seen the light" and emerged from the shadows? For a simple, unembellished recitation of each day's headlines borders on the pornographic: terroristic violence of unimaginable depravity; vast swathes of humanity rising up in arms over something provably a lie; corruption and duplicity brazenly paraded by national leaders; perverse sexuality forced, even legislated into the norm.

We still live in a world that grows darker by the day...