A Long-Distance Swim

February 22, 2016 at 3:53 pm | Posted in BiblicalSwimming | 1 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 seven 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

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.

The Freestyle

January 21, 2009 at 10:21 am | Posted in BiblicalSwimming, Galatians | 8 Comments
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The previous S.W.I.M. lesson focused on a swimming stroke called the crawl, which, despite its name, is actually the most efficient stroke for speed. USA Swimming lists the five competitive swimming strokes as: individual medley, butterfly, breaststroke, backstroke, and freestyle. “In freestyle events, the competitor may swim any stroke. The stroke most commonly used is sometimes called the crawl…” It is hardly surprising that racing swimmers, when given the “freedom” to choose any style they wish, choose the style which allows them to swim the fastest.

Likewise, Christians (those who are truly saved by grace through faith in Christ) are given freedom to run the Christian race in a variety of “styles.”

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

Galatians 5:1

The freedom we have in Christ is freedom both from the yoke of legalistic bondage, and from the slavery of sin (Lamentations 1:14). But the Christian race is not a short “swim-sprint,” where the swimmer throws himself wildly into the water and violently writhes and thrashes his way to the other end of the pool, flopping out of the water and lying, chest heaving, exhausted and spent for the rest of the day. No, the Christian’s race is more like a long-distance swim, sometimes experiencing pounding waves, sometimes calm sea. One day carried along easily on the current, other times battling his way upstream. At times making progress through a violent storm, at other times treading in place, trying to keep his head above the surface.

The Holy Spirit commended, but also admonished, the Galatian believers in Chap. 5, Verse 7: “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?” If you are a Christian, you are free to swim in any style permitted by Scripture. This is the freedom granted by Christ’s shed blood on the Cross. If, when you were first saved, you made a public profession, joined a church, were Scripturally baptized – if you read your Bible, prayed regularly, told others about the Lord Jesus – then you “did” swim well. But if you have stopped swimming well, you should ask the question, “What has hindered me?” Are you sinking because you are burdened with unnecessary worldly possessions or interests that weigh you down in the water? Are you being slowed down because you haven’t spent enough time training with your Instructor or studying your “Training Manual?” Are you in danger of drowning before reaching the finish line because you lacked physical discipline and enjoyed the pleasure of a heavy meal right before jumping into the pool?

Swimmers, set free from rules which require them to swim in a certain style, use the style which allows them to swim most excellently. Christians should recognize their freedom in Christ as an opportunity to strive for excellence, not mediocrity.

The Butterfly

January 16, 2009 at 9:47 am | Posted in BiblicalSwimming, Matthew | 7 Comments
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The “butterfly” stroke is considered by some “to be the most beautiful of the strokes” (USA Swimming). “It features a simultaneous recovery of the arms over the water combined with an undulating dolphin kick. In the kick, the swimmer must keep both legs together and may not flutter, scissor, or use the breaststroke kick. Both hands must touch the wall simultaneously on the turns and the finish.”

The butterfly is perhaps the most deceptive swimming stroke. While the insect known as the butterfly floats effortlessly on currents of air, the swimmer who will make the butterfly stroke appear beautiful must exert great effort, adhere to strict rules, and thrash violently during his repetitive plunges beneath the surface.

Although the Bible does not record a love for swimming among the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’s time, we can imagine that, if they had known of such a thing, the butterfly might very well have been their favorite stroke.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

Matthew 23:27-28

Like butterfly swimmers, the scribes and Pharisees adhered to strict formal rules, hoping that their outward lives appeared beautiful to men. Underneath the surface, however, these hypocrites struggled furiously to achieve a righteousness which can, in reality, only be imputed by faith in Christ.

The Breaststroke

January 14, 2009 at 10:01 am | Posted in BiblicalSwimming, Isaiah | 6 Comments
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USA Swimming defines the “breaststroke” as “the oldest stroke, dating back hundreds of years.” It is a type of swimming in which the swimmer uses “simultaneous movements of the arms on the same horizontal plane. The hands are pressed out from in front of the breast in a heart-shaped pattern.” It is often said to be a type of swimming which requires great endurance because the swimmer is constantly exerting effort.

This type of swimming stroke exemplifies one of the images the Bible gives of God moving on behalf of His people, as He saves them from the midst of their enemies.

And he shall spread forth his hands in the midst of them, as he that swimmeth spreadeth forth his hands to swim: and he shall bring down their pride together with the spoils of their hands.

Isaiah 25:11

As God spreads forth His hands among the enemies of His people, we get a mental picture of His hands making the shape of a heart, representing His love for His children. The enemies are then pressed away and aside, along with their pride and their ill-gotten gains. God’s endurance, unlike that of a human swimmer, knows no limits, as He is all-powerful. If you feel you are drowning in a sea of suffering, misery, or even apathy, admit your sin, smite your heart of pride, and call upon the Lord for mercy (Luke 18:13). He will rescue you, and pull you close to His heart, so that you may fellowship with Him and share His secrets (John 13:25).


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