Reflections by the Pond

#620: Falling Down: Living Without Training Wheels: Living with God

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September 9, 2013

If you never want to fall down, the only way to do it is to walk constantly with the One who will hold you up.

The Christian has a privilege too often neglected—that of living, actually living, day in and day out, with the all-powerful God of the universe. We too often place God onto a mystical what-not shelf, arrange Him prettily with our other collectibles, and only dust Him off once a week when we feel compelled to pray to Him.

But the God of the Bible is more organic than that. He concerns Himself with the day-to-day minutia of the lives of those who call upon His name. His children matter to Him, and if He weren’t interested in having a relationship with them, He wouldn’t have bothered sending His Son.

It may grieve the Lord when we fall down, but I imagine it grieves Him more when we try to stay up on our own...

#619: Falling Down: Living Without Training Wheels: Thrills and Spills

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September 2, 2013

On the first day with my new bike, I remained conservative and obedient to my parents, riding in genteel circuits on the sidewalk circling our block. But soon I was jumping the curb, launching myself off graded slopes and banks, careening dangerously close to vehicles both stationary and moving. In no time, instead of obeying my father to use the kickstand when dismounting, I had adopted the habit of leaping from my trusty steed while still moving, thereby letting it slam and scrape into the ground with a most satisfying crash.

Curiously, as my reckless riding habits increased, so did the cuts and scrapes and bruises upon my person. When I rode sensibly, I remained astride the seat in an upright position; when I rode with reckless abandon, I paid a price for my antics—usually with physical pain, blood, and scars.

The curse of free will is that we are free to do really stupid things. Sometimes we fall down purely by accident. More often, however, we fall down because we have purposely put ourselves into a position where falling down is likely...

#618: Falling Down: Living Without Training Wheels: Young and Foolish

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August 26, 2013

In a perfect world we would be born with every bit of wisdom and knowledge we would need for any circumstance. But, as we all know, this world is not perfect. We gain experience and wisdom only over time, as we mature. The person who has been riding a bike every day for forty years will stay upright more consistently than the one who is just beginning. The venerable Christian, who has been walking consistently with the Lord for decades, will fall down less often that the one who just met Him yesterday.

Then again, we can gain experience by falling down...

#617: Falling Down: Living Without Training Wheels: Upright

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August 19, 2013

Bikes with training wheels never fall over; there's always a wheel there to keep the bike and rider upright. The many bumps and scrapes, cuts and bruises of my childhood attest to the fact that bikes without training wheels certainly do fall over from time to time.

At the point of our salvation—at the moment in which our eternity with Christ is sealed—we are issued the Holy Spirit as a permanent resident. The gentle Spirit comes in to live with us, to counsel, to guide our steps, and to be our permanent connection to the Father. What we are not issued, however, is a set of training wheels...

#616: Lost in Him

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August 12, 2013

The happiest, most content believer is the one who realizes and embraces the sovereignty of God over his life—not just a God who is sovereign over ministry or life decisions, the go-to resource whenever an obstacle or fork in the road is encountered, but a God who is ruler over every aspect of life.

The world tells me that I will be the happiest once I make myself, as William Ernest Henley wrote, "the master of my fate...the captain of my soul."

Bosh and nonsense. I know what I have to offer, and it is not nearly enough...

#615: The Shadows of the Evening Hours

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August 5, 2013

Time spent with God in the morning hours looks forward to the day ahead. Time spent with Him at the close of day looks backward to the day just concluded.

It is during our waking hours that we are most vulnerable. In slumber there is not just rest, but innocence. In our waking hours, however, the world with all its charms besets. Here lie enticements to evil, stumbling blocks to piety, grief, disappointments, frustrations, anger and, not least, myriad distractions from God. All these and more are what make of critical importance our preparatory morning time before the throne.

Then in the closing hours of the day we bring before our Lord all the challenges faced and failed. These we gather up into a bundle of confession and place it at His feet, seeking His forgiveness, His mercy...

#614: Still, Still with Thee

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July 29, 2013

They say a good breakfast is a healthy way to begin a day. They say a glass of orange juice is just the ticket to jump-start a lethargic mind and body. Some may opt, instead, for a bracing cup of hot, strong coffee and the morning news.

But nothing throws off tenacious slumber quite like the glory of the Lord. Nothing braces the mind and heart for a new day quite like an early-morning audience with His splendor. It is to fill the heart with unbounded joy; it is to begin the day parting the blinds of the earth's sky, to peer into the brilliance of heaven itself...

#613: Praise Ye the Lord, the Almighty

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July 22, 2013

God the eternal Creator enjoys sovereign rule over the universe; there are no precincts, no elements beyond His reach. He controls everything man deems uncontrollable: weather, earthquakes, tides, suns and their orbiting satellites, comets and meteors. By His will they may unnaturally cease, by His will they may confound the most learned scientist.

The Lord may unnaturally bridle any of these for our comfort, or He may not. He may choose to protect us through the storm, rather than take us around it. One of the benefits of belonging to Him is that even when all hell is breaking loose around us, the peace of heaven quiets the heart...

#612: Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing

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July 15, 2013

The weight of our earth-bound flesh is a chronic condition. In worship and prayer we realize its inconstancy and yearn for a better communion with our God and Lord. We also realize that the solution will not be found in flesh, in effort, but only in the God we long to more purely adore. He must be the one to overcome our predilection to worship at other thrones.

And when He does seal our heart for Himself, the evidence for His work in us is that we then long for the day when we will have the privilege and joy to spend eternity bowed before His true throne in reverent worship...

#611: O Could I Speak the Matchless Worth

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July 8, 2013

Beyond all measure, beyond imagining, beyond any experiential comparison are the words with which we might, if we could, faithfully describe the incomparable glory of our Lord and Savior.

The root of praise and thanksgiving (as different from worship) is our recalling and giving thanks for those things the Godhead has done for us. But when worshipping our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the interweaving of praise and thanksgiving with that worship is almost impossible to avoid.

The very existence of the Son of God as the earthly Jesus the Nazarene bespeaks less His being than His doing. Had the Son of God, second member of the triune Godhead, remained in His heavenly home He would not have died for our sins, and, absent that, we would never have gained access to worship or praise Him at all.

But He did die for us...

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