Reflections by the Pond

#631: In Everything

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November 25, 2013

Why is it one person can build something with his own two hands and say, "Look what I did," while another person can do the same and say, "Thank you, God!"? Why is it one person can labor and sweat over a productive garden and say, "Look what I grew," while another person can labor just as much but say, "Thank you, God!"? Why is it one person can have good fortune and say, "Look how lucky I am," while another person can experience the same and say, "Thank you, God!"?

This kind of thanksgiving is not born in the act, or the possession, or the accomplishment. This kind of thanksgiving comes not from man's experience upon the soil, but from man's experience with the unseen world. For such odd behavior is not born here, but from above...

#630: In Ruins

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November 18, 2013

What was once a nation of decency and light is now just a fading ruin. America is now a place where the abnormal is being forced upon the populace as normality, where perversity is celebrated. Goodness and righteousness have become suspect. In America today not even the rule of man's law is honored, and far less the rule of God's law.

In America, God's light is being extinguished. God and His truth are being systematically stripped out of our culture. His eternal precepts have become not just subject to ridicule, but are being actually outlawed by the legal precepts established by a darkened society...

#629: Knowledge of the Holy: God the Father (last in a series)

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November 11, 2013

God the Father is uncomfortably real. It is almost a lie to see Him as the white-bearded grandfather dandling His little ones upon His knee. Though certainly a component, that image more often masks the true complexity of God's personality, leaving even those who adore Him with a thinly veiled impression of who He is. It is like receiving an exquisitely wrapped Christmas gift, and refusing to mar its exterior beauty by opening it—thus doing without the useful, helpful item lying inside. God is beautiful. God is love. God is an attentive, giving Father. But He is also so much more.

For the Godhead to have a relationship with man, the Father is as necessary as the Son and the Spirit. Because of his sinful bent, were man to have only the Son and Spirit, he would soon forget the utter, untouchable holiness of God. His disciples lived with Jesus day after day for three years; they soon forgot—even though they used the right words—that He was more than just flesh, but God. Man too easily forgets the inconvenient truth. We need God the Father to remind us of God's sovereignty, His unimaginable power, His holiness...

#628: Knowledge of the Holy: Touchable God

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November 4, 2013

If we are to walk the path of Jesus, we must enter the path His way, and His way for us is the same as it was for Him: through obedience. If we are serious about truly knowing Jesus, we will have to do more than just observe Him from a distance. We will have to get our feet dirty on the same path He treads; we will have to see the things He sees, through His perspective; we will have to touch and feel and experience the things in His life. Only then will we truly know Jesus as He would have us know Him...

#627: Knowledge of the Holy: Making it Work

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October 28, 2013

The Godhead, comprised of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is—if it had been invented by someone else—a marvelous creation. It is a supernatural, all-powerful, three-legged stool: all three parts are required for it to fulfill its intended purpose.

But, of course, the Godhead was not invented by someone else. To be clear, it was not created at all, but always has been, and always will be.

While it is true that no third party created God, we can still marvel at His design, for His relationship with man does indeed depend on all parts of Himself...

#626: Knowledge of the Holy: A New Creature

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October 21, 2013

The Christian is someone who has been converted from one type of being to another. He is born a person of the earth, trudging along day by day with dirt between his toes. The gravity of his birthplace holds him firmly within its grasp; his outlook is earthen, his perspective, at best, global. Events around him are interpreted through an earthen filter—through a mind and heart that are firmly in the grasp of their natural condition.

The point at which he believes in the saving power of Christ, however, marks his conversion from an earthly to a spiritual being—not just "spiritual," for anyone born of man can have a spiritual bent, but Holy spiritual. He has been reborn, and is no longer a child of the earth, but now a child of God—who is a spiritual being. He has been remade from flesh-kind to spirit-kind...

#625: Knowledge of the Holy

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October 14, 2013

Far too many of us don't know what we don't know. And most of the rest that do know what they don't know, don't care that they don't.

Many of us claim to know God, or claim to know His Son, Christ Jesus. But do we? Do we really? The word "know" has been just as dumbed-down as so many other parts of our language. Like its cousins, "love," "understand," and "best friend," it has been diminished to a mere shadow of what it is supposed to represent. In this chromium and plastic world in which we live, the word "know" is tossed around with abandon, salted into diaphanous, paper-thin relationships until it now means very little at all. The truth is, you don't really know someone until you've lived with them for a while. You don't really know someone until you have invested much of yourself in their lives...

#624: Alas! And did My Savior Bleed?

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October 7, 2013

Man, by nature, thinks well of himself. Given time it is easy and natural for him to believe that he is all-sufficient in himself, the pinnacle of goodness, and his own savior. Even the believer can, over time, begin to rise higher in his own estimation, paying mere lip-service to his Maker even as he makes God smaller in relation to his own magnificence. It is in man's nature to forget. It is in man's nature for his own brilliance to throw into shadow the Light of God.

It is at the cross that man is brought back to hard reality. The truth is, at the cross we are reminded in a most uncomfortable way that Jesus suffered a hideous death on our behalf. He, the spotless Lamb, was brutally slaughtered, because it was for that "end" He was born.

At that moment of realization, whatever pedestal we have erected for our own glory begins to crumble beneath our feet. No sane believer can remain proud and unmoved before the truth of what Jesus did. For that reason we humans of short memory must periodically and often revisit Golgotha—that sickening place where Jesus hung and died. There, at the foot of the cross, we are, every one of us, Barabbas...

#623: O Sacred Head, Now Wounded

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September 29, 2013

There lies within the regenerated heart the capacity to see both ugly obscenity and glorious beauty in the same scene. For the believer, the visual obscenity of Golgotha both repels and attracts; it both sickens and revives.

That which is so horrible, so painful, that we must force ourselves to look, is the very place we are to go whenever we must reestablish our footing, our perspective. Living in this world blunts the spiritual senses, its siren song weans us from the hard and fast truth of God in Christ, and it makes a concerted effort to reverse the polarity of our spiritual compass. So we return to the cross to get our proper bearings.

As painful as it is, we return and stand before that "old rugged cross," reminding ourselves of everything the world wants us to forget: that the Son of God sacrificed Himself in a horrible, bloody, very real way to make Himself the once and final atonement for our sins...

#622: That Beautiful Name

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September 23, 2013

Shakespeare's Juliet put the question, "What's in a name?" And the Bible answers: Savior. God.

Names have lost some of their currency in this era. Today a name is little more than a convenient label: by it you answer your mom's call through the screen door; with it your teacher calls on you in class; with it you sign checks. You use it to identify yourself when calling someone on the telephone ("Hi. This is John."). Unless you are of the favored ilk who are known worldwide by their first name alone (Cher, Elton, Newt, Hillary), a name is worth little beyond its ability to winnow you from an immediate crowd.

But in the eras of Scripture, from the time of the Old Covenant patriarchs to the time of the New Covenant epistles, a person's name represented the fullness of who a person was. It was synonymous with his or her character, personality, occupation, worth...