Thanks for coming to Ponder Anew! This is the first post in my new blog, and so I thought it might be a good idea to answer the question: why?
“Why Ponder Anew?” The question could be asking about the phrase in the title. It’s drawn from an old hymn by German pastor Joachim Neander titled ”Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”. Written in 1680, the hymn declares…
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.
Praise to the Lord, who over all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires ever have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?
Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.
Neander’s words affirm God’s sovereignty, providence, wisdom, protection, presence and gracious kindness towards us. It urges Christians to secure their hope in the promise that “the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-24) Ultimately, that unfailing love and faithfulness is fulfilled in the life, death and resurrection (gospel) of Jesus, for ‘God demonstrates his love in this: while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) God’s love in Christ is stunning in its scope and power. Every day, there are new demonstrations of it, simply because we have never lived that day before. That sunset, conversation over coffee, family moment, ice cream cone, song that makes us sing along, sense of comfort when tears fall or companionship when life strips everything away—that has never been experienced in exactly that way before. I have for years sensed that God is at work in so many ways around us—ways that often remain unseen, a sort of backstage grace. Ponder Anew urges me to notice God’s multitude of mercies, to refuse a sort of soul blindness that blithely walks through day upon day without awareness of the Almighty’s love to me in big and small ways.
Even more, there are aspects of the gospel that I have never experienced before. I came to faith in Jesus at the age of 8 and understood as much as an 8-year-old can of what Jesus accomplished on the cross.. The longer I walk this journey of faith, the more I am aware that, as another pastor/hymn-writer John Newton (Amazing Grace) said, “I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.” The benefits purchased by the blood of Jesus and given to me by grace include forgiveness, joy, hope, peace, purpose, satisfaction, rest, wisdom and more. Every day, another aspect of the love of God in Christ unfolds for me. I don’t want to miss it, grow dull to it, become bored with grace and live ungratefully. I want to ponder anew every day about amazing grace, knowing that it is an eternal quest, for “in the coming ages, He [God] might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”(Eph.2:7)
Why Ponder Anew? Well, those who know me best know that ponder is my favorite word. It means to linger long in thought over something, to consider it thoughtfully and thoroughly, to reflect deeply. To ponder is to turn something over in your mind, and like light flashing off a diamond, allow the gospel, God’s Word and more to display previously unseen facets of meaning. From roots in Old French and Latin, the word also carries the idea of weighing something in order to appraise its value. So, when you ponder, you put an event, relationship, moment or idea on a mental scale of sorts—and check its substance. Sometimes, the Bible refers to this as meditation, but I prefer to follow young Mary’s lead, who “treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)
Why Ponder Anew? I have always loved to write and like someone in history whom I cannot remember, I often write to think myself clear on a subject. Also, writing has for years been an extension of my ministry as a pastor and especially as one who teaches people how to live a life that reflects the values, truths and realities of the Bible. For years, that writing was in articles in a weekly or monthly print newsletter; now it tends to be more accessible in an e-format like this blog. I have found that people get to know me better –and learn how to process life in a Biblically shaped way –when they can follow my thinking on some issue from my ordinary life. I’ve been away from this sort of writing for about 6 years, and I have missed it terribly.
Why Ponder Anew? Because there is a prompting from the Lord to develop a forum like this to dialogue about life, faith, church and culture. We’ll see where it goes and how the Lord is pleased to use it. I hope you’ll meet me here from time to time, join the conversation, and always leave more aware of how your life is being shaped by the generous, stunning, no-holds-barred, rushing flood of love from the heart of the Almighty.