Reflections by the Pond

#774: Living Seriously: The Dance

(Fourth in a Series)

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August 22, 2016

Our invitation to the Dance comes from the cross. Everything begins there. The cross is the navel of all eternity: everything before the cross accelerates toward it, while everything after looks back to it as its source.

The Christian's deep, visceral longing to be with the Lord is based—at least in part—on what Christ did at Calvary. Our love for Him is based on the spiritual and historical truth that He loved us first, with a love so profound and complete as to cast into shadow any similar expression of man...

#773: Living Seriously: Eternal Life

(Third in a Series)

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August 15, 2016

Many believers, and just about all unbelievers, think of the relationship between earth and heaven as reaching a point where the former ends and the latter begins. This is my life now, but at some point I will die and cross the threshold into my eternity. But the truth is that our eternity has already begun, and for the believer it is an eternity with God. The Christian's eternity with Christ does not begin at death; it begins at the moment of conversion, when the Holy Spirit comes in to dwell...

#772: Living Seriously: Flowing from the Throne

(Second in a Series)

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August 8, 2016

The woman said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship." Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."
John 4:19-24

Because the telephone is now portable and compact, most people carry it around with them and use it constantly. Practically every other person one meets in public is conducting his or her life with a small plastic device held in their hand. Today, by the blood of Christ, the place of worship is also portable and compact; every believer carries the temple around with him. Yet, unlike the ubiquitous smart phone, it is rarely used...

#771: Living Seriously: A Specific Worship

(First in a New Series)

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August 1, 2016

For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God,
but not in accordance with knowledge.
Romans 10:2

The limitations and specificity of ancient Hebrew worship stand in glaring contrast to the broad, homogenized, often unserious form found in most protestant churches today. As the veil has been removed and the Holy of Holies expanded to hold its many new worshipers, the once-rich feast of that worship has been diluted to a thin gruel.

As we have broadened the definition of worship to include just about anything that transpires within the four walls of the church building, we have lost sight of the wonder and awe of—and necessity for—that more specific worship: that which is performed on our knees, bowed before the throne. We have settled for an insipid, emaciated version of worship, conducted from a distance, in the outer court only, and more often than not we no longer bother to proceed deeper into the Holy of Holies—even though God has intentionally invited us in...

#770: Taking God Seriously: Meaning

(Last in a Series)

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July 25, 2016

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
Romans 11:36

The morality and ethics of the culture in which we now dwell are soft and pliable—and grossly unserious. Nothing means anything, while anything goes. It is a plastic world: cheap, brittle, easily broken and easily thrown away. The more modern man strives to bring meaning to life, the less life means.

If everything is anything, then nothing means anything...

#769: Taking God Seriously: The Motives of the Heart

(Twelfth in a Series)

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July 18, 2016

Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, "You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet," and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
Romans 13:8-10

Let's be honest: Wouldn't we all rather have fewer rules in our lives? Wouldn't we all rather drive the speed of our choosing on the freeway, and not have to be tied in with a seat belt? When we were younger, did we enjoy the rules set down by our parents? Wouldn't we rather have stayed out as late as we wished, gone to parties without chaperones, not bothered doing our homework, ate or drank whatever we liked whenever we liked?

Few people actually like the inconvenience of some rules in their lives, but most of us attain a level of maturity that understands that we, and society as a whole, are better off with certain fundamental laws and regulations. It is in our nature to rebel against laws, but it is also in our nature to require them...

#768: Taking God Seriously: The New with the Old

(Eleventh in a Series)

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July 11, 2016

Once we are heading down the healthy path of taking God seriously, and begin to examine what God has to say about the real Jesus in His word, we must glean from that Scripture how Jesus described Himself. And here again, the truth is often contrary to what we may think.

For Jews and much of the unsaved populace, the Old Testament's "Ten Commandments" represent the pinnacle of moral and ethical law; that is, good and righteous people obey them—or at least make an effort to obey them. In contrast to this position, many Christians believe that, in Christ, the Ten Commandments no longer apply; that they have been superseded by "grace." Thus, they believe, faith in Christ Jesus replaces the Ten Commandments.

But that is not what Jesus said...

#767: Taking God Seriously: The Real Jesus

(Tenth in a Series)

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July 4, 2016

"But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left."
Matthew 25:31-33

Today there is a veritable industry built around the ear-tickling line: "What Would Jesus Do?"—more often than not represented by the acronym "WWJD." It can be a laudable injunction when one is faced with a choice, a fork in the decisional road, that one considers how Christ Jesus Himself might decide. The sticky part of this is that for one to make the same decision Jesus would, one must have a working knowledge of what Jesus actually did—how He behaved, what He thought, what His decisions were based on—in short, who and what He really was. And if one bases his decision on what the world's culture tells him Jesus would do, then he will almost surely be taking the wrong path...

#766: Taking God Seriously: Regarding Angels

(Ninth in a Series)

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June 27, 2016

For by [Christ Jesus] all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.
Colossians 1:16

Ignorance never dies, it just keeps changing its shape.

One of the saddest things to see is how angels have become associated with the likes of New Age spirituality, harmonic convergence, aroma therapy and healing crystals. Today they have been wrapped into the whole feel-good, warm fuzzies, Transcendental Meditation, peace and love, flower child nonsense—a resurgence of something that should have died a quick death in the late 1960s.

These people wouldn't recognize a real angel if his wings slapped them in the face...

#765: Taking God Seriously: Listening to our Father

(Eighth in a Series)

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June 20, 2016

...therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken.
Genesis 3:23

The language of heaven has no word for "mostly good"; it has no word for "sort of bad." In God's aspect, one is either good or evil; since man is born not-good, he is born evil. And since in himself he cannot make himself good, he remains evil so long as he remains apart from God through Christ. And, maddeningly, even then the Christian struggles against the lingering influence of his base nature...