Reflections by the Pond

#701: Small Things

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March 30, 2015

The Lord said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" 1 Kings 19:11-13 NIV

We all have big things in our lives. We all have things that are important, that require our attention and activity. But when we never pause for the small things—those fragile and fleeting oases of heavenly communion—our connection to God begins to atrophy. Eventually it will dry up and blow away from disuse.

And for the tyranny of the temporal moment, we will have bargained away sweet, heavenly moments with Him...

#700: Remembering What We Were

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March 23, 2015

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins... Ephesians 2:1

Our ability, indeed our predilection to forget the corruption in which we began and lived before the Spirit brought us to Christ, plays a critical role in how we perceive and exalt the Savior. When we diminish that corrupt beginning in our aspect, we diminish as well the role of Christ in our salvation. Redemption, like grace, is of God, not man. The basis of our salvation—the blood of Christ Jesus shed on the cross—and the initiation of that salvation by the convicting Holy Spirit has nothing to do with our supposed goodness, and everything to do with God...

#699: In the Storm

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March 16, 2015

But He said, "You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!" Exodus 33:20

The black, churning clouds are the face of His wrath. The jagged white of the electric pulse is His quick, fearsome might. The thunder echoes His rumbling, intimidating strength. Before His face flies the fierce, gusting wind—the fear of the Lord. His beard—the angry, pounding downpour of rain—is life, but it bruises along the way. It strips branch and leaf, it beats against window and roof, it flattens the bush...

#698: Beginning and End

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March 9, 2015

He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. Colossians 1:17

We think of Him as Savior, Lord, Redeemer, a brother, our Advocate. All valid and true, of course. Those who do not yet know Him personally may think of Him as a teacher, a prophet, a wise rabbi, an all-round nice guy. Again, all valid and true. Even those who subscribe to heretical philosophies may at least assign Him some sort of role, such as the highest created thing, or the man who became a god.

All these, however, are a little like honoring the President of the United States because he drives a bullet-proof car: true, but by itself grossly inadequate...

#697: Parched

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March 2, 2015

Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.” John 7:37

Whether they realize it or not, people everywhere are dying of thirst. From the war-torn streets of the Middle East to well-appointed penthouses on New York's Park Avenue, those who do not yet know Christ are dying from a lack of that most essential element: living water.

Those who are physically parched understand that their body is dehydrating, and they are desperately seeking something to drink. Those who are spiritually parched—and know it—are desperately seeking something with which to fill their God-space...

#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...