Reflections by the Pond

#748: Surprising Things

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February 22, 2016

The most crooked tree will make timber for the temple,
if God be pleased to hew it.
Thomas Fuller

One of the more remarkable discoveries made by reading through the Bible is how a perfect, holy God repeatedly uses rather ordinary, imperfect people to accomplish His plan for this earth. In fact, one may deduce from Scripture that it is God's chosen method to employ the most disreputable, conniving, contemptible characters He can find.

Few professions are as low as that of the prostitute, yet one of the surprises discovered in the Bible is that God chose to include one in the family line that would lead directly to a lowly stable in Bethlehem...

#747: Being Good

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February 15, 2016

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the LORD, "You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you."
Psalms 16:1-2 ESV

The standard of "good" in the economy of a holy God is perfection. Do you want to be declared good by God? Then be perfect, as God is perfect. Do you want to go to heaven, rather than hell? Then be perfect, as God is perfect. And, at this point, the average person on the street throws up his hands and shouts, "What's the point? That's impossible!"


#746: Things They Never Taught Me in School

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February 8, 2016

When we merely say that we are bad, the "wrath” of God seems a barbarous doctrine; as soon as we perceive our badness, it appears inevitable, a mere corollary from God's goodness.
C.S. Lewis

When asked to give His name, God told Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." Swimming freely through the full depth of that succinct description (for it is a description), is the tacit recommendation that we not try to change who God is. He is everywhere, He holds everything in His hand, and He does not depend on the fantastical imagination, or context, of His created ones for definition.

Those who take the time to read of Him may be surprised by some of the things God has said and done. For no matter what decade or century crafted one's image of the Almighty, He is at once none and all of the above. What we do know of Him is little more than a thimbleful in the ocean of His personality, and what we don't know of Him can be shocking—even scandalous to moderns...

#745: The Thorn

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February 1, 2016

Arise, O Lord, do not let man prevail;
Let the nations be judged before You.
Put them in fear, O Lord;
Let the nations know that they are but men. Selah.
Psalms 9:19-20

Why do we rage against our trials? Why do we struggle so against our infirmities, our restraints?

Man, self-centered and narcissistic by birth, perceives the thorns of life from only one perspective, one direction: he sees only their inward thrust. They inflict discomfort, disruption of goals, frustration, agonizing pain. The thorn punctures the outer defenses and it hurts, and he rebels against the utter unfairness and inconvenience of its assault...

#744: Forgiving Grace

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January 25, 2016

Too many Christians restrict the scope of God's grace to His one-time grace exhibited at the cross. It is true that we came to Christ the first time utterly devoid of worth; there was nothing at all within us that could merit salvation. Because of this, our salvation required God’s grace—His unmerited kindness or favor. But why should we think that after that moment of first grace we now do merit His favor?

The relationship of grace does not change. Before we came to Christ we did not deserve God's grace, and after even decades of walking with Him, we remain undeserving...

#743: Against an Exhaled Pestilence

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January 18, 2016

For there is no truth in their mouth;
their inmost self is destruction;
their throat is an open grave;
they flatter with their tongue.
Psalms 5:9 esv

As King Solomon so wisely yet wearily pointed out, there is nothing new under the sun. Man's behavior, even inventiveness, has been cooked into his DNA from the start, as has his bent toward evil.

There is nothing new about the depravity of this age. There is nothing new about an infantile penchant to shock with repellant behavior and scatological language. There is nothing new about apparent adults behaving and speaking in public as if they were school-age boys in a locker room. If there is anything new today, it is the scope and immediacy of that which is "public"...

#742: Old Devotion

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January 11, 2016

If new faith is to the church a breath of fresh air, old faith is the solid framework that holds it together.

Though the "old" Christian's faith may, at times, lapse into a too-familiar monotony, it is more often than not substantial, and deep. He has spent time with the Lord, and he knows Him well. God's written word is not just a book of wisdom, but a comfortable companion, a guidebook, and friend. He may not know every word, but he knows the sound of God's voice...

#741: Forgetting to Fear

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January 4, 2016

Immersed in the grace, and gracious behavior, of Father God, the Christian can, over time, become anesthetized to His unapproachable holiness. Immersed in grace we forget to fear. The mistake we make is imagining we must choose between the two; we think that in fearing holy God we must relinquish His grace, or that by living under His grace there is no more need of fear. But He meant for both to be qualities in every believer...

#740: Beginning

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December 28, 2015

"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."
Revelation 22:13

More often than not, earthly "beginnings" are little more than comforting tent pegs driven into the temporal sod, one more loving embrace of the here and now over the unknown and unseeable. And such things seem inordinately trivial when one is living an eternal life...

#739: Immanuel: 3

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December 21, 2015

Our God has many voices, and He has the right to use any of His choosing—including a shout. More often than not, however, He speaks in the quietness, the softly spoken language of the heart. God need not shout: real power speaks softly. So when we wish to hear what He has to say, it is best to come away from the din of this world, to a quiet place of hushed reverence...