Reflections by the Pond

#778: What Does He Want

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September 19, 2016

For this is the will of God, your sanctification.
1 Thessalonians 4:3a

Among those who acknowledge that He exists, there are perhaps an infinite number of opinions or questions regarding what God is all about. Who is He, really? What is He really like? and Why does He do the things He does?

Whatever He is, whatever He is like, whatever He does—why? Why does He bother?

#777: Time Away

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September 12, 2016

People often use a vacation to break away from the steady, unrelenting rigors of their occupation—something to break the monotony, or bring physical or mental relief. People sometimes need a break from troublesome people, but God is not troublesome. He is not a weight upon our shoulders. He is not someone who drags us down, but someone who lifts us up...

#775: Living Seriously: A Glorious Ascent

(Last in a Series)

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August 29, 2016

The Dance begins at the cross, and it is there that our love is periodically renewed. But beyond this, our Life-Dance with Christ is conducted in the mundane normalcy of everyday life. The Dance is played out amidst business meetings, changing diapers, mowing the lawn, shoveling snow, mending children's clothing, taking out the garbage, working the third shift, and in the marriage bed. The Dance is a tapestry of spiritual love woven intricately throughout the highs and lows, the disappointments and ecstasies of the believer's life.

The Dance is a glorious ascent from the leaden soil of earth into the gravity-defying arms of Jesus. It is not escapism, but a re-energizing of truth in a Maelstrom of lies; it is a raft of peace in a churning sea of discontent. For the Christian, eternal life with God and the present indwelling of the Holy Spirit are automatic; the Dance with Christ, however, is optional...

#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...