A Long-Distance Swim

February 22, 2016 at 3:53 pm | Posted in BiblicalSwimming | Leave a comment
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This is the 1000th blog post on The Deep End! I don’t know if that sounds like a big number to you, but it does to me. It has taken me a little over six years to “swim” this far, and I thank the Lord for allowing me to continue doing it. It has been a blessing to me personally, and I can only pray that it has helped others. Thank you to those of you who read regularly, subscribe, and share posts from here on other outlets.

The idea of giving the blog a “swimming” theme came from a series of Bible lessons that I had written for my church’s weekly prayer emails, featuring different swimming “strokes.” Later, I came up with another series having more generally to do with water, based on the vision described in Ezekiel 47, and, later still, I added one post featuring shark attacks. My wife is the one who devised the acronym S.W.I.M. In honor of the occasion, I am using this 1000th post to provide links to the category called “Biblical Swimming.” As you read (IF you read) don’t forget to come up for breaths, kick your feet, remain calm, and keep swimming!

Getting Ready to Swim

The Back Stroke (Acts 27:41-44)
The Breaststroke (Isaiah 25:11)
The Butterfly (Matthew 23:27-28)
The Crawl (Psalm 104:19-20)
Freestyle (Galatians 5:1)
The Dog Paddle (Philippians 3:2)

Waters of Grace (*)

God’s Plan for Water Pollution (Ezekiel 47:8-9)
The Grace of Running Water (Ezekiel 47:1-2)
The Grace to Swim (Ezekiel 47:4-5)
Swimming for Spiritual Fitness (Ezekiel 47:5)
Getting Your Feet Wet (Ezekiel 47:3-4)
Seeking the Source (Ezekiel 47:5-6)

Breaching Reality (II Corinthians 4:4,6)

* most-viewed post in category

Breaching Reality

April 13, 2012 at 8:37 am | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, Biblical Violence, BiblicalSwimming, Uncategorized | 19 Comments
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You may have seen this on television. It is one of my favorite images from nature documentary footage. In the frigid waters off the coast of South Africa a great white shark (by some estimates weighing close to one and a half tons) comes bursting up through the water’s surface, breaching explosively with its torpedo-shaped body, clenching a terrified fur seal tightly in its razor-sharp serrated teeth and powerful jaws!

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The voice-over narrator goes on to explain that this “sneak-attack” method of predation is used by sharks to overcome the agility and elusiveness of the much-smaller seals. The viewer is left to ponder this question: “How in the world did the seal not see that coming?”

The answer lies in the seals’ inability to see what needed to be seen, and to hear what needed to be heard. A seal-lover, anticipating the attack, could scream at these fur seals, and even wave his arms frantically as a warning of what is coming from below, but it would do no good. Christians who share the Gospel with unbelievers can sometimes feel a little of the same frustration. Lost sinners know that they are sinning. Why can’t they grasp the danger of God’s impending judgment and wrath? Like fur seals, they are suffering from a type of sensory deprivation.

In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

II Corinthians 4:4

According to Scripture, the little “g” god of this world, Satan, has blinded – not the eyes, but the minds – of unbelievers. They are swimming obliviously through a sea of worldly conformity, and no amount of screaming, gesticulating, logical reasoning, pleading, or emotional manipulation is going to convince them to swim immediately to the safe harbor of God’s love. What hope is there, then?

There is the same hope that we ourselves (born-again Christians) have experienced:

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

II Corinthians 4:6

The only light bright enough to shine into the heart of a person whose mind has been blinded is the glorious light which God has placed in our own hearts, and which can shine like a spotlight on the crucified and resurrected face of Christ the Lord.

Some of us reading this were given our sight just in the nick of time to avoid – not a great white shark – but the place of the condemned before the Great White Throne of God’s judgment. Now, it’s our turn to aim the darkness-defeating, sight-giving light straight into the minds of the other seals. Their Satanic affliction is not a cause for frustration; it is an opportunity for God to get glory.

Waters of Grace

December 7, 2009 at 9:41 am | Posted in BiblicalSwimming, Ezekiel | 12 Comments
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One of my favorite activities is swimming. The Bible contains only five references to swimming that I can find. However, the biggest necessity for swimming – water – is abundant in the Scriptures. One of the most majestic pictures of water in the whole Bible is found in Ezekiel 47. There, the prophet Ezekiel is taken on a grand tour of the future area around the earthly throne of God, from which flow the waters of His grace. These waters form a mighty river, and bring refreshment, and heal sickness, and produce fruit.

I have devised an acrostic using the letters in the word “W.A.T.E.R.S.” for this S.W.I.M. (See What It Means) lesson to review some of the things we have learned about God’s miraculous waters of grace.

Waters are for W.ashing. God’s grace has a tremendous healing quality, illustrated in the way that clean waters flowing into a polluted stream can cleanse and heal the dirty waters. (Ezekiel 47:8-9)

Waters are A.llowed to go where they need to go. God’s grace always goes to the right place – the place where it is most needed, and where it will do the most good. God’s grace, like water, often seeks the “lowest” point. (Ezekiel 47:1-2)

Waters are for T.esting. Waters which are too high for wading present a test or an obstacle. God’s grace often brings us to places of difficulty so that we realize we need His help to go through. (Ezekiel 47:4-5)

Waters are for E.xercising. Swimming is one of the best activities for physical fitness, and exercising ourselves spiritually in God’s grace is where we gain the strength to grow in Christian maturity. (Ezekiel 47:5)

Waters are for R.efreshing. There’s something bracing and stimulating about cold water on your feet when you are hot and tired. God’s grace often comes to us slowly so that we may test the temperature of our surroundings, and to remind us of the need for having clean and holy feet as we order our steps in His path. (Ezekiel 47:3-4)

Waters have a S.ource. When we find an area of water, it will typically have been brought there by a flowing stream, rain from above, or springs from below. Our omnipresent God is everywhere at once, and, when we experience His wonderful grace, we must remember to seek the Source of that grace, and to draw near to Him. (Ezekiel 47:5-6)

Seeking the Source

November 19, 2009 at 11:28 am | Posted in BiblicalSwimming, Ezekiel | 11 Comments
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Some lakes are formed by rivers or streams flowing into a lower land area. Bays are formed when the ocean washes into a cove. Some creeks are formed by water springing up from an underground source. Puddles are formed by rain falling down. The point is, bodies of water have sources.

As the angel in Ezekiel 47 brought the prophet to the place where the waters of God’s grace were deep enough to swim in, he paused.

Afterward he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over.

Ezekiel 47:5

At that point, the angel turned Ezekiel around, and they returned to the brink of the river.

And he said unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen this? Then he brought me, and caused me to return to the brink of the river.

Ezekiel 47:6

The river of God’s grace which flows steadily into the lives of Christians is a wonderful thing. It brings such blessings, in fact, that there is a temptation to bask in these blessings, and to forget the Source of the river. In other words, we sometimes enjoy the blessings and ignore the “Blesser.” When you find yourself saturated in the grace of God, and you are splashing, soaking, and swimming in His blessings, do not forget to seek the Source of the river of life. The sweetest, coolest, and best waters are found in the presence of the Source Himself.

Getting Your Feet Wet

November 3, 2009 at 1:34 pm | Posted in BiblicalSwimming, Ezekiel | 5 Comments
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There is a progression in Ezekiel 47 as God’s angel shows Ezekiel the marvelous waters flowing from the throne of the Lord.

And when the man that had the line in his hand went forth eastward, he measured a thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the waters were to the ankles. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through the waters; the waters were to the knees. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through; the waters were to the loins.

Ezekiel 47:3-4

The progression is upward and gradual. The waters reach Ezekiel’s ankles, then his knees, and then his loins.

When God wanted to show Ezekiel a picture of His grace in the form of great waters, He could have simply arranged for a great deluge to fall from above onto Ezekiel’s head. But He did not do this. Instead, the Bible has given us a great vision of God’s grace as a rising stream.

You may have seen someone approach a swimming pool or the shoreline at the beach, not yet knowing the temperature of the water. It is common on such occasions to see people testing the water with their feet. It is also common to see others sitting or standing in such a way that only their feet are getting wet. There is something reassuring and refreshing about cool water on our feet.

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When Jesus demonstrated His great willingness to be a Servant to His Disciples, He washed their feet (John 13:4-16). Jesus did this for a number of reasons. One of them may have been to demonstrate that feet would be important in the Apostles’ ministry. On these feet they would go throughout the world, spreading the Good News of the Kingdom. Therefore, their feet, prior to their holy errands, needed to be cleansed and sanctified. Another reason may have been to remind the Disciples of the refreshment that comes with being in the presence of Jesus. In the dry and dusty lands of Bible times, cool water on the feet was a very refreshing thing (and it still is even today!) In fact, the first time the word “feet” appears in the Bible, it is in reference to washing, rest, and refreshment (Genesis 18:4).

For those who are weary from traveling in their own strength, but are a little wary of plunging head first into the deep end of God’s presence, God is patient to send His grace in a rising stream, so that new believers may first find refreshment and adjustment by going in ankle deep. Let us never make the mistake, however, of thinking that God’s grace is not deep enough to overflow the highest obstacles in our life.

…where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

Romans 5:12

Swimming for Spiritual Fitness

October 19, 2009 at 9:06 am | Posted in BiblicalSwimming, Ezekiel | 3 Comments
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Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise. It utilizes almost the entire body: the arms, legs, shoulders, back, and abdominal muscles. It is great for the cardiovascular system because it increases the heart-rate and helps to control breathing. Water can seem as hard as concrete if we fall into it from a high distance, but swimming in it is a low-impact exercise because it causes no jarring to the bones and joints. Water is thicker than air, so swimming involves muscle-building resistance.

The water of God’s grace is likewise a good place for spiritual exercise.

Afterward he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in

Ezekiel 47:5 (Emphasis added.)

God’s grace teaches us to present our entire bodies over to Him for our complete spiritual exercise (Romans 12:1-2). The grace of God influences our breathing (Psalm 150:6) and our heart rate (Luke 24:32). The impact of God’s grace can break us like a rock, but He is the Rock Who then redeems us, puts us back together, and makes us whole (Psalm 78:34-35). The very presence of God Himself envelops Christians the way water engulfs a swimmer.

For in him we live, and move, and have our being…

Acts 17:28

The Grace to Swim

October 2, 2009 at 7:31 am | Posted in BiblicalSwimming, Ezekiel | 4 Comments
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When God delivered the Israelites out of their bondage in Egypt, He parted the Red Sea so they could pass through it. (Exodus 14:22) When it was time for them to cross into their promised land in Canaan, their obstacle was another body of water: the Jordan River. (Joshua 3:14) In both cases, the people had to step out and pass the test of faith in the face of potentially overwhelming waters.

The prophet Ezekiel saw a vision of miraculous waters flowing from the throne of God. These waters grew deeper and deeper until the only way for Ezekiel to have continued his tour would have been to start swimming!

Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through the waters; the waters were to the knees. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through; the waters were to the loins. Afterward he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over.

Ezekiel 47:4-5

A large area of water can be a wonderful sight for somebody who loves to swim. The wonderful refreshing waters of God’s grace are indeed “waters to swim in” for those who love the Lord. However, waters sometimes present an obstacle – and we need help to go through them. Thankfully, when God graciously calls us to pass through the waters of testing, He will also provide us with the grace to pass through what we could never pass over on our own.

Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.

I Thessalonians 5:24

The Grace of Running Water

September 18, 2009 at 8:25 am | Posted in BiblicalSwimming, Ezekiel | 7 Comments
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When Ezekiel was given the vision of God’s healing waters, he noticed that some of the waters were running out from the “right” side of the altar.

Afterward he brought me again unto the door of the house; and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward: for the forefront of the house stood toward the east, and the waters came down from under from the right side of the house, at the south side of the altar. Then brought he me out of the way of the gate northward, and led me about the way without unto the utter gate by the way that looketh eastward; and, behold, there ran out waters on the right side.

Ezekiel 47:1-2

This meant that some of the waters were flowing on the right hand, as opposed to the left hand, side, from Ezekiel’s point of view. However, we also use the word “right” to refer to something that is “correct” or “proper.” Therefore, we may take these verses as reminders that God’s grace, like running water, if not impeded by some barrier, will naturally go where it needs to go. In fact, water will seek the lowest level. The place where people are at their lowest, where they are most in need of help, and often where they are most desperate, is when they realize they are mired in sin. A person’s “lowest place” is the place where he is most in need of God’s grace, and, like the waters in Ezekiel’s vision, God’s grace always goes to the “right” place.

God’s Plan for Water Pollution

August 12, 2009 at 7:09 am | Posted in BiblicalSwimming, Ezekiel | 4 Comments
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Sometimes I wonder if water may be one of the greatest things God created. It has many uses, and so much potential. Few and far between are the days that I don’t try to get it all over me in an attempt to get clean, or at least cool off.

When God showed Ezekiel the vision of God’s grace, flowing like water and glorifying God, a key function of these waters were that they healed the other waters which had become polluted and contaminated.

Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed.

Ezekiel 47:8

This passage is a prophecy of the future, but it also contains a wonderful principle for our lives today. Are there areas of your life which started out pure, devoted to God, but which have become contaminated by worldly interests, fleshly laziness, or secret pride? The parts of your life which once proclaimed Christ’s victory and your deliverance do not have to be allowed to dry up and die. The medicinal waters of God’s grace can bring new passion and life.

And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh.

Ezekiel 47:9

Imagine – living water healing dying water! The water of God’s Word, and the water of God’s Spirit, and the water of God’s grace can cleanse the filthiest pool, stream, river, or sea, if we will seek it.

Getting Ready to Swim

January 26, 2009 at 10:55 am | Posted in BiblicalSwimming | 19 Comments
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We live in a day and age when the fountain of God’s Word seems to be flowing in pitifully small, and rapidly drying, streams. By and large, the practice of the world is to stomp right past the cleansing fountain of the wisdom contained in the Bible, and to wallow instead in the muddy imaginations of man (II Corinthians 10:5). However, there is coming a day when “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14). In that day, experienced “swimmers” will have an advantage. Having spent much time learning to maneuver in the cleansing water of the Word, some will not be shocked or afraid as the tidal knowledge of the Lord’s glory rises, and covers the whole earth.

Over the past few weeks, our S.W.I.M. lessons have looked at the competitive strokes of literal swimming, and applied them to spiritual truths found in Scripture. This week’s lesson will serve as a brief review:

  1. The Backstroke: True disciples of Christ will encounter opposition that will at times push them backward into troubled waters. The Bible’s solution to this situation is to look up to the Lord, and keep moving ahead. (Acts 27:41-44)
  2. The Breaststroke: God’s hands go forth from God’s heart, and the love of God will cause His hands to reach out and push away the encompassing enemies of His people as they humbly call upon Him. (Isaiah 25:11)
  3. The Butterfly: Some swimmers follow strict rules of form to appear graceful, when in fact they are thrashing violently beneath the surface. God is not impressed by a false show of outward beauty or self-righteousness. (Matthew 23:27-28)
  4. The Crawl: Creeping and crawling is sometimes seen as a reason for scorn among the skeptical, but God has appointed to all things a time and an order. Just as there are nocturnal animals which creep forth at night because of the design of God, so also new believers in Christ Jesus must go through a period of spiritual crawling, before growing into walking and running. (Psalm 104:19-20)
  5. Freestyle: Competitive swimmers with the freedom to choose the stroke they want, will choose a style which allows them to swim most efficiently. Christians, striving for the prize of the high calling, see their freedom in Christ as an opportunity to do those things which are most profitable for the cause of Christ and the glory of God. (Galatians 5:1-7)
  6. The Dog Paddle: When new Christians begin to navigate the waters of spiritual maturity, they must be careful not to imitate, or pick up the bad habits of, those who would promote a “watered-down,” or ritual-based gospel. (Philippians 3:2)

Those who have believed on Christ Jesus in their hearts, and who have called upon the name of the Lord, must dive into God’s Word and learn to “see what it means” (S.W.I.M.). In His Word you will find reasons to be grateful, and promises and comfort for the coming storms.

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

“Count Your Blessings,” Johnson Oatman Jr.

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