Reflections by the Pond

#809: An Unexpected Life


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September 2017

Those ignorant of God's word—including far too many Christians—may see the characters that people its pages as pious, plastic saints, somehow dwelling above the challenges and temptations, the weaknesses of the flesh suffered by all the rest of us. But the opposite is true. Something truly remarkable about God's holy and eternal word is how it portrays its leading characters warts and all. It shows Abraham to be at times a liar and a coward; Jacob, the father of the twelve tribes of Israel, stole the blessing that was rightfully for his brother Esau; the apostle Paul could be short-tempered and hold a grudge; and King David, about whom God said, "I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will do all My will," was an adulterer and murderer.

And an unlikely, unexpected woman chosen by God was Rahab, a prostitute from Jericho. This obscure woman would be chosen by God not just to give aid to Israel, but for inclusion in the royal line that would culminate in the birth of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.

#808: Worship


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August 2017

How did we become so casual with God? Where did we pick up the idea that He really doesn't mind that our worship services are filled with insincerity, inaccuracies, glaring omissions, and a disorderliness better suited to the cheap seats at a baseball game?

The Lord asks little of us; it's really not difficult to worship Him properly. All He asks is honesty, sincerity, truth. All He asks is that we mean what we say or sing.

#807: The Calling


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July 2017

Perhaps the most prevalent misconception is that placing one's trust in Christ Jesus—"accepting Christ," in the vernacular—is little more than obtaining a "Get out of Jail Free" card that will grant entrance through the Pearly Gates and reserve residence in heaven for all eternity. (We would need at least all the fingers on a hand to tic off the incorrect assumptions in just that one sentence.) Being a Christian means far more than just avoiding hell; being a follower of Christ means having an intimate, ongoing, fruitful relationship with Him...

#806: Soaring


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June 2017

There is something more than a little frightening about a child of God not wishing to be closer to his Parent. What has happened in our own spirit when that connection has become frayed? What has happened to our system of priorities when the things of this earth take precedence over the things of God? What has happened to our spirit when we no longer desire to live above the pedestrian pathways of this world, in the exhilarating, ethereal presence of God?

We are not of this world, and so long as we cling to it, we will remain unformed, and unhappy. The Christian has God living inside him, and the more his feet remain stuck in the muck of this earth, the more miserable will be his spirit...

#805: The Enemy Without, The Enemy Within


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May 2017

Here is perhaps the most persistent, troublesome quandary for the Christian: If I am "in Christ," why do I still think about, do, and even want to do those things that stand in opposition to Him?

This world, as well as the flesh in which even believers must move about, remains firmly in the grasp of the evil one. It is his territory, it is his kingdom, and all who dwell here will feel his presence and his influence...

#804: Love Unbounded and Free


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April 2017

In the Law, Yahweh was saying to Israel, Blood must be shed before sinful man can have a relationship with My holiness. Don't you understand? The only blood sufficient for this is My own!

So God Himself came to earth, Love itself in the form of the God/Man Jesus of Nazareth. To live, to teach, to suffer, and to die. He came to spill His own blood upon the sacrificial altar: the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world...

#803: Seasons


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March 2017

The seasons through which we pass as a follower of Christ are the warp and woof of our life in Him. The fabric, the rich tapestry that is our life, the myriad colors, light and shadow—everything that comprises who we are in Christ dwells in these seasons. They define us, they shape and mold us, they make us into what we will become...

#802: To Be Like Him: Submission

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March 6, 2017

On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, "Why did you make me like this," will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?
Romans 9:20-21

The rules don't change just because we are unable to explain God's logic. His justice and wisdom are not malleable, but steady and true. God does not adapt to our level of understanding, but steadily encourages us to rise to His.

Are events taking place around you that don't make sense? Are you having a hard time explaining that God's hand is in them? Fine. Then everything is as it should be, for nowhere does it say that the clay is to understand every decision made by the potter.

Any god who can be fully explained is no god at all...

#801: To Be Like Him: Character

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February 27, 2017

If we are to "work out" our lives by the pattern set by Christ, then our days will include times of trial, sacrifice, and suffering, because these were all a part of His path toward "perfection."

For us, that path toward completeness includes a transition through perseverance—endurance, a hardening of our shell, what in another time might have been called "strength of character"...

#800: To Be Like Him: Practice

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February 20, 2017

People think it should require little effort to be like Christ.
But why should it be any easier for us, than it was for Him?

We never graduate from the school of Christ-likeness. Until we meet Him face-to-face, until the moment when we have no more use for this mortal form, we remain in school, learning how to become increasingly like Him.

And the process is not always pleasant; like film in its acid bath, that which is not needed must be cut away to improve that which remains. There's no getting around it: Trials will come, and it's not that trials aren't painful, but that the pain is good for us...

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