Reflections by the Pond

#533: Looking Back

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Reflections by the Pond – January 9, 2012

When my soul is in the dumps,
I rehearse everything I know of you.
Psalm 42:6 The Message

In a more logical world the first day of the year would come around March 15, or April 1. New Year's Day—that special day combining nostalgic retrospection for the year just ended with eager anticipation for the year just beginning—seems wasted on a day still mired (at least in this part of the world) in cold air, gray skies, and a frozen landscape. How much better it would be if the new year began on a fresh, sunshine-filled day of spring flowers bursting forth to bring new life, new color to a gray world...

#532: Lord of the Unexpected

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Reflections by the Pond – January 2, 2012

By all rights and everything that is holy I should be gazing out onto land blanketed by a foot of snow. It is January, after all, and here in the Midlands, where all storm systems meet, this is typically the coldest part of the coldest season of the year. The temperature outside should be a breath-sucking, back-snapping level of frigidity sufficient to drive the hardiest farmer or bricklayer into long johns, an insulated suit, and facial hair. The vista should be knee-deep white. I should gaze out my window across a sparkling, crystalline blanket of powder to the frozen pond, and beyond into the cotton-shrouded woods where the deer and turkeys and squirrels reveal themselves against the contrasting backdrop.

Why, then, do I gaze out upon a desert of brown and straw colored grass to a depleted pond thawing around the edges...

#531: Spirit Sight

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Reflections by the Pond – December 26, 2011

And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
Luke 2:25

Day after day he was surrounded by the most religious, the most pious men in all Judaism. Rabbis, priests, members of the Pharisaic and Sadducean parties, scribes, devout laymen—all were in residence in the temple courts, all claimed a singular understanding of God's written word, including the ancient prophecies that spoke of Messiah.

Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse,
And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.
Isaiah 11:1

#530: They Need a Savior: A Sufficient Sacrifice

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Reflections by the Pond – December 19, 2011

He had never been down to earth before, but now that he had been sent, Harry was determined to make the best of it. He was determined to get along.

If the truth be known, Harry had never been terribly impressed by the human species; he had always considered them a most inconvenient, unsightly bunch. But ever since The Son had gone down to be born and live amongst them, Harry had acquired a new level of interest in the inhabitants of earth.

Harry had been set down in the hill country of Lower Galilee, directly west of the lower tip of the Sea of Galilee, the great fresh water lake around which lay the cities of Capernaum, Gennesaret, and Tiberias.

Almost immediately his feet began to ache. The road was hard-packed soil, and on this day it seemed to the angel that it may as well have been forged iron beneath him. Each step on the compacted earth jarred his bones. Meanwhile the gravity of the globe worked against him. Harry was unaccustomed to these physical constraints...

#529: They Need a Savior: Just Like Everyone Else

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Reflections by the Pond – December 12, 2011

Jesus pushed open the wooden door and held it for Harry to leave the small house. From the compressed dirt floor of the building, Harry expected to step onto the familiar, unresisting surface of heaven, but instead found himself standing upon another, even more unpleasant surface.

"Oh," he blanched, grimacing as his foot sank down into the wet muck. "What's this?"

Jesus laughed. "What's the matter, Harry. Afraid of a little mud?"


"A mixture of water and dirt," Jesus explained. "This is what happens to a road in Palestine when it rains."


#528: They Need a Savior: Someone They Can Touch

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Reflections by the Pond – December 5, 2011

Harry, angel 4-R (4th Rung), moved closer to the odd structure standing curiously weighted amidst the diaphanous splendor of heaven. It seemed to have grown up, like an ugly block-shaped mushroom, out of the vaporous terra of the heavenlies. The cube appeared as a gross uncleanness within the pristine dimensions of God's domain, with textures and unpleasant colors foreign to its inhabitants.

It's so ugly it hurts the eyes, Harry thought. They must have told me wrong. How could The Son possibly be in that thing. He moved closer, his curiosity overpowering the revulsion that filled him at the ugly sight...

#527: Separated

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Reflections by the Pond – November 28, 2011

I have lost count of the times I have scratched my head and wondered aloud, "Why, God, did you leave me in this awful flesh? Either bring me home, or purify whatever is left, but why leave me wrapped in this weak, easily tempted, straying, miserable flesh?!"

By the reasoning of our flesh, God's design to leave His children, with the indwelling Holy Spirit, to do battle the rest of their earthly days with their earth-bound self seems wholly illogical. After all, couldn't we accomplish so much more in His name if we weren't so often sidetracked or tripped up by our fleshly weaknesses?

On occasion, however, we are favored with a glimmer of His reasoning, which, when all is said and done, is the only reasoning that matters...

#526: The Forgotten Holiday

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Reflections by the Pond – November 21, 2011

Praise the Lord!
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
Psalms 106:1

It now begins even before Halloween. The importance of Christmas sales to retail balance sheets means that the season begins earlier each year. It will not be long before stores will have permanent, year-round Christmas departments, with the result that the holiday will cease to be anything special—if that sad consequence has not already occurred.

In all this, Thanksgiving has become the forgotten holiday. What used to be an orderly, comfortably paced transition...

#525: Cows in the Front Yard

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Reflections by the Pond – November 14, 2011

Over the years that we have dwelt here, we've grown accustomed to odd occurrences. Living out in the country, one never knows what might happen along to entertain, puzzle, or downright infuriate. Whether it is waking to bats circling overhead in our bedroom, groundhogs undermining the driveway, or overgrown rattlesnakes slithering too near the house, over time one just accepts all these as sundry fibers in the tapestry that is rural life.

So we were not overly alarmed the day we rose to discover...

#524: God's Middle Name

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Reflections by the Pond – November 7, 2011

For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren...
Hebrews 2:11

When parents name their child they usually are filling three blank spaces. They can do little about the last space; the family name associates this new life with decades—sometimes centuries—of family history. This is a name that implants heritage and continuity into every person on the family tree. The last or family name makes each person bearing that name a part of something larger than himself.

The first space in the whole name is where the parents can be creative, hoping to stamp some special identity on this new life. Here the person being named acquires something...