Thursday, April 28, 2011

riding the wind

Having a day off, I was able to get some morning time on the pond in my kayak.  I almost felt like one of the pond residents as I scooted over the surface.  Turtle heads popped up to check out the strange creature in their midst.  Herons reluctantly yielded to instinct as they left their fishing spots as the kayak approached.  Young osprey and other hawks swooped in circles over head and sailed low over the water as if riding an invisible roller coaster.  At one point the headwind matched my paddling and I had to work hard to stay in one place.  High in a tree that had roots embedded in the pond bottom sat a large adult osprey.  He seemed to rule the pond like a monarch enthroned in his mountain castle.  The flying birds seemed to enjoy riding the wind...I didn't see any of them strike the water to catch a fish.  The thought arose that they were savoring some free time on the pond just as I was.  Sometimes it is enough to paddle without a destination or simply soar with the wind.   We will return to work soon enough...

Isaiah 40:31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
      They will soar high on wings like eagles.
   They will run and not grow weary.
      They will walk and not faint.
Rob Smith

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

birds walking and men fishing

The local pond shows the recent transformation from winter hibernation to spring living.  Every physical sense is impressed with the change...the air smells fresher and carries the fragrance of new plants and tree growth.  The pond is coated with a dusting of pollen and the finned pond dwellers are pleased to kiss the surface to savor insect treats.  There were more large birds this morning than have been seen in a long time: eagles, osprey, great heron all swooping over the water.  It was a special treat to watch two osprey fly purposefully over the water, fold their wings into a tight "W" and dive to snare a fish.  They pulled away, resembling a warplane with a bomb attached beneath, as they clutched the fish in their talons and returned to dine in the trees.  It occurred to me that the osprey accomplished in seconds what a human fisherman might take hours to do, to catch, prepare and eat a fish breakfast.  And, of course, the osprey did something no man can do by flying to accomplish the mission.  We may be the ultimate living creation that God fashioned and we have a unique capacity to know our Creator...but we can't fly and we can't fish like that osprey!  On the other hand, as I began writing this thought I glanced out the window and watched two large black birds in my front yard strutting around for bugs to eat in the grass.  A large bird can be graceful in flight, but awkward in walking.  The impressive body is balanced on two bony legs that cause it to wobble as it moves over the ground.  Birds can walk and men can fish but you really appreciate the beauty of God's design when the creature shows the strong points of that design.  I think that the beauty of Man is best displayed when he is in close relation to the living God.  There is a tenderness of living, a gracefulness in action, and a sincerity of interest in others that displays the eternal bond between Maker and man and is unmatched by any other living being.  It is a beautiful thing to behold a man walking in love with the Lord.
Psalm 63:7 Because You have been my help,
         Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
 8 My soul follows close behind You;
         Your right hand upholds me.
Rob Smith

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

the energy of rest

It is easy to think of sleep as "lost time".  After all, we don't seem to be doing anything for all those hours when we are effectively unconscious.  Over the weekend I spent a lot of hours in the sun working harder physically than I had in a long time.  Somehow, when I returned to work on Monday I just didn't have the usual "get up and go".  I was a bit sluggish physically and mentally and couldn't wait to get home to take a nap.  Ultimately I slept for about 10 hours and now feel restored.  This made me think about the very active purpose of sleep and of rest.  It seems that our bodies, and minds need to sleep well at night if they are to work well during the day.  Scientists have found that many of the major restorative functions in the body like muscle growth, tissue repair, protein synthesis, and growth hormone release occur mostly, or in some cases only, during sleep.   The activity of our brains generates a chemical called adenosine and as this accumulates we begin to feel sleepy.  When we actually do sleep, the brain has a chance to clear the adenosine and prepare for another day of thinking.  I think we also forget the importance of spiritual rest.  It was unwise of me to not allow more time for quiet reflection and "alone time" with the Lord over the weekend.  Just as our bodies need the quiet time of sleep to be restored, so do our spirits need the peace of quiet devotional time to be reconnected and refreshed.  It is good to remember the "active purpose" of purposeful inactivity.

Psalm 127:2 It is vain for you to rise up early,
         To sit up late, 
         To eat the bread of sorrows; 
         For so He gives His beloved sleep. 

blessings (yawn),
Rob Smith

Monday, April 25, 2011

No dumping!

We just finished a beautiful weekend, that began on Good Friday and completed with a joyful Easter.  To add to the celebration, we had a lot of warm and sunny weather.  Having some time off I was able to take on a few projects.  The main challenge was to create a new garden area in our front yard.  There is a corner of our yard where grass has resisted growing.  It seems to get more sun and the grass tends to burn out in mid summer.  We decided to convert that area to a mulched spot for flowering plants.  A neighbor kindly lent me the use of his roto-tiller to chew up the sod so it could be removed and replaced with topsoil.  I filled my truck with about 150 square feet of sod that needed to be disposed of.   Then I drove around looking for a place to dump the sod.  I headed down a gravel road where I'd thrown sticks and small trees we'd cut down but wasn't sure about throwing the grassy sod....especially when I spotted a few other pickup trucks parked on the road and knowing that some hunt club posted "No Trespassing" sings on every third tree along the road.  I circled around to a small service road in the front of our community and pulled up to an area next to a ravine but spotted a "No trespassing.  No dumping" warning that scared me off.  Then I drove a little deeper into the country and found a gravel road that seemed like a strong possibility.  However, once I drove past all the homes tucked into the woods off the gravel road I spotted the largest "No Dumping!" sign yet.  So I decided to return to the one place I felt safe dumping my own back yard.  I threw the sod off the back of the truck and into the woods behind our house.   I reasoned that the grass would die and I could scatter the sod farther into the woods at some future point.  I thought about the problem we can have finding a place to "dump" our truckload of sin.  We can drive around with it and try to get rid of it in various ways but, ultimately, we have to come home and face the reality that the only suitable place to dump our sin is in our own yard.  The only safe place we have for this kind of dumping is on the Lord, Himself.  He has come to live in our "yard"...our lives...and allows us to Trespass on Him with our sins.  He knows that there is no other place available to receive our unwanted burdens.  He will scatter them and we will be lightened of the load and set free to finish the job.

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh

Rob Smith

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Hands that formed this great design,
Hands that wound the clock of time,
Hands that sent the Pharaoh plagues,
Hands that kept the Red Sea dry,

Hands that won great victories,
Hands that brought captivity,
Hands caught David in his fall,
Hands restored a city wall,

Hands showed small in the manger,
Hands were kept from infant danger,
Hands grew strong from plane and hammer,
Hands picked men to follow after,

Hands held scrolls of prophecy,
Hands touched eyes so they would see,
Hands made bread and fish increase,
Hands calmed waves; made storms to cease,

Hands raised dead to life again,
Hands passed wine and bread to men,
Hands prayed trembling in the garden,
Hands carried the cross to win our pardon,

Hands were nailed but they arose!
Hands point us to Heaven's throne,
Hands will greet us on that day,
Hands that made forever yours.

Rob Smith

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

with Him beside

As I stood at the very edge of the pond this morning my view ahead was all water as the miniature waves headed my way...brought by the fresh breeze that also washed my face.  The shore beneath my feet greeted the moving water with a sound that resembled the swish of fabric moving over fabric.  The air was pleasant and comfortable even with no jacket.  I considered the peace of the moment and thought about the unknowns of the day ahead that would soon wash toward me like the waves of the pond.  I realized that anxiety and stress tend to climb aboard my frame every day before I have even begun the activity of the day.  As I reflected on the reasons for this, I saw that anxiety comes from the "unknown" aspect of the day.  I never know, for sure, what will happen before I live out each day and I can't be sure that all will go well before I have faced those unknowns.  The breeze that refreshes can become the wind that buffets and the waves that make morning music can appear as a tsunami of destruction.  How can I maintain peace in light of the unknowns that are headed toward me this day?  I must walk with the One who makes the waves...who blows the breeze.  He is the One who knows the unknowns because He is beginning and He is end.  He is the Good Shepherd who lays down in the door of the sheep pen and nothing can touch me that hasn't first come through Him.  As I travel through time into the unknown of today, I am confident He is near.  I will not fear because He knows all and I know Him.  The breeze that brings the waves is His refreshing breath.

John 10:4 And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.

Rob Smith

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

the colors of Heaven

The lightning-fast work of judging a color begins in the retina, which has three layers of cells. Signals from the red and green cones in the first layer are compared by specialized red-green "opponent" cells in the second layer. These opponent cells compute the balance between red and green light coming from a particular part of the visual field. Other opponent cells then compare signals from blue cones with the combined signals from red and green cones. (Geoffrey Montgomery, Howard Hughes Medical Institute)

Our bodies are such fabulous machines that the complex functions they perform happen without notice or conscious thought.  The short passage, copied above, gives us a feel for one example of this wonder: seeing color.  This time of year we are especially appreciative of color, as nature is awash with every shade from red to violet.  One of the biggest amazements to me is how fast our brain can process all of the operations identified by the author to paint the scene before our eyes.  To appreciate color we need two amazing aspects of creation to fit together.  We need light, with its full range of color contained within, and we need the capacity to receive light and interpret its color.  Similarly, to appreciate the color of the Lord, in complete relationship with Him, we need the Light of Heaven and the capacity to receive and process that light.  When Jesus came He explained that He was the light of the world but that something had to be activated within us before we could properly interpret that light.  Some people insisted that they could already see...others owned up to the reality that they had been stumbling their entire lives.  For those willing to admit their blindness, Jesus provided the capacity to process His light...and for the first time people began to see in the full color that God had intended.  As we put our trust in Jesus...the true light from Heaven...our vision is expanded and we realize that we have been seeing incompletely.  Have you seen the colors of Heaven?

John 9:10 Therefore they said to him, "How were your eyes opened?" 
11 He answered and said, "A Man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, 'Go to the pool of Siloam and wash.' So I went and washed, and I received sight." 

John 8:12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."
Rob Smith

Monday, April 18, 2011


As I stood beside the placid tabletop of the local pond this morning my thoughts were calmed.  The sounds all about were peaceful as well, with some sweet chirps from small birds in the woods behind and a few "blips and blurps" from fish breaking the surface to snare an insect for breakfast.  Mr. Eagle made a brief appearance but shyly flew away from where I was standing.  I've learned to read the birds from their flight and the eagle has powerful, and yet graceful, wing strokes.  A young heron flew toward me, enjoying the freedom and sense of dominion that must come from looking down on his world.   This lovely experience turned my thoughts to the value of time versus the value of possessions.  I can give my time to accumulate fact a lot of my time is spent paying for the possessions I already possess.  But what happens to these possessions?  Of course they all eventually wear out...just as I will physically wear out.  When I value time more than possessions then experience begins to satisfy more than ownership.   It seems that when I invest time in the experiences of living...I become more available to experience the living God.   It occurred to me that the natural world was created for two reasons:  first that we might see God in the work of His hands and, second, that we might experience Him.  I realized that the pride and ambition we allow to rule us screens us from these purposes.  When we are born again through Christ we are set free from the control of possessions and the ambition of controlling others that our time might be spent experiencing God and appreciating the experience of His care.  Investing our time to get better acquainted with him here and now must surely be better preparation for our life with Him in the place beyond beyond possessions and past the reach of time!
Luke 12: 15 And He said to them, "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses."
Rob Smith

Saturday, April 16, 2011

new eyes

New eyes I need...
              Why can't I see.
                            how everywhere you are?
You've fashioned all in front of me
So near...You're never far!
For every spring scent , sight and sound
shows your Creator Hand...
How could I doubt that all around
would shout the Master 's Plan
Too hard... (I think)... to find you now..
You sit on Heaven's Throne.
But then I see your handiwork..
and know I'm not alone...
From ant to owl
and bud to bee
From tree and bird and sky
All bear the mark:
"In Glory Made"...
Oh Yes...and so do I...
blessings from across the garden,
Rob Smith

Friday, April 15, 2011

the bark of the dogwood

Over the past week, dogwood trees have popped their ethereal blossoms that seem almost to float in air as you look into the woods.  I was curious how the dogwood tree got its name and used the convenient internet search.  Apparently the best name theory is that "dogwood" came from "dagwood".  The very hard wood of the tree was used to make "daggers", arrows or skewers.  So for hunters and warriors the dogwood was man's best friend.  I found an anonymous poem that has a nice devotional bent: 

The Legend of the Dogwood Tree

When Christ was on earth, the dogwood grew

To a towering size with a lovely hue.

Its branches were strong and interwoven

And for Christ's cross its timbers were chosen.

Being distressed at the use of this wood,

Christ made a promise which still holds good;

"Not ever again shall the dogwood grow

To be large enough for such a tree, and so

Slender and twisted it shall always be

With cross-shaped blossoms for all to see.

The petals shall have bloodstains marked in brown

And in the blossoms center a thorny crown.

All who see it will think of me,

Nailed to a cross from a dogwood tree.

Protected and cherished this tree shall be

A reflection of all of my agony."

Easter will soon be here...perhaps I will associate the lovely dogwood blossoms with the One who truly is Man's best Friend !

1 Peter 2:24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.



Rob Smith

Thursday, April 14, 2011

the flower

We are surrounded by flowers this time of on trees, bushes and coming out of the ground.  I suppose nothing captures the beauty of spring more than flowers.  They are marked by beauty in color and fragrance.  I was curious about how flowers knew when to bloom.  Apparently each plant has a unique mix of sun, temperature and rain that is needed.  Of course flowers are not just window dressing.  They are the center of plant reproduction.  There is a hormone, called florigen, which is formed in the leaves of the plant.  This hormone interprets the external conditions of air, light and moisture and sends a signal to the stem and to the buds that trigger the development of the reproductive system and ultimately send the signal to open into a flower at just the right time to foster successful breeding.  
We are like flowers of the Lord's Garden.  We need proper amounts of light, water and soil quality to flourish.  If we are to mature to the point of reproducing our faith in the lives of others we need the catalyst of God's hormone, the Holy Spirit, acting on our stems and buds.  But, given the proper conditions, our flowers will also open in a beautiful array of color and fragrance that others might be drawn to His beauty and find life as well.

Song of Solomon 2:12 The flowers appear on the earth; 
      The time of singing has come, 
      And the voice of the turtledove 
      Is heard in our land. 
Rob Smith

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Dignity: from L. dignitatem (nom. dignitas) "worthiness," from dignus "worth
I was watching a man, apparently in his late 30's, walking with his son yesterday afternoon.  The father had an intent look on his face as the boy, about 12, followed him.  I thought about the honor and the responsibility of being a father.  Something about the upright posture and serious expression on the dad's face spoke to me about the dignity of our roles in life.  As a younger man this father may never have envisioned the pressures of the position.  He may have followed his natural desire for passion and companionship, which led to a marriage... and marriage led to an array of new experiences and responsibilities...and marriage led to this son, who now followed close behind his Dad, and probably follows his Dad on a daily basis.  I thought about the dignity of the design that God has laid out.  He builds a culture and a people from individuals who only know enough to follow the next step...the next pull of growth...the next push of circumstance.  And then we grow into the roles we find ourselves in.  The picture of the man striding with his son behind is an appropriate snapshot of God's blueprint.  He takes our desires and drives and directs them  to complete His design for a society and His development of a soul.  The dignity of life comes from the design of the One who has built His image into our lives.  He shows up in the complexity of our bodies as well as the framework of the family.  Our dignity has its source in our Designer.

Genesis 49:2 " Gather together and hear, you sons of Jacob,

      And listen to Israel your father.

 3 " Reuben, you are my firstborn,
      My might and the beginning of my strength, 
      The excellency of dignity and the excellency of power.


Rob Smith

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

April morning

The first glance of this morning's sky was very American...with alternating stripes of cloud, sky and early sun appearing like red, white and blue stripes across the eastern view.  The pond was peaceful as an osprey flew off with his morning catch clutched securely in his talons and a few goose couples exchanged honks across the water.  I headed over to a field to view the sunrise and snapped a few pictures...the lens caught one shot of the sun's rays breaking through the tree line with a Cross-like image.  I reflected on the beauty, the serenity and the comfort I saw and felt, as even the air was balmy and pleasant.  The cornfield beneath my feet was coated in lavender clover.  This April morning was a good reminder of the comfort we have in the arms of our Lord.  Just as every sense was impressed with warmth and beauty from over head to beneath feet, so every aspect of our lives is held and covered in the beauty of His surrounding presence.

Psalm 5:12 For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous;
         With favor You will surround him as with a shield.

Rob Smith

Monday, April 11, 2011

What is your response?

It occurred to me that Jesus came into the world to fulfill two missions.  He had a job to do for His Father and He came to prompt a response from us.  Jesus was the solution for our sin problem...the solution that God, the Father, had planned all along.  Many prophecies and references in the Old Testament foretold of His coming.  He came into the world to live a perfect life, die an unjust death that we might be justified and to prove His conquest of death by rising again.  He also showed the world what the Father was like by faithfully teaching as the Father directed and demonstrating God's character of grace, righteousness, love and forgiveness.  But He also came, in flesh and blood, and intersected human history to bring the biggest question of all to each of us.  That question is:  What will you do with Jesus?  How do you respond to His reality?  By coming into the world, God brings the question of faith to us.  While we still walk the earth how do we deal with the existence of God.  He knows that we must not wait until we die to meet Him.  At that point faith and choice and belief no longer are relevant.  The reality of eternity...of Heaven and of Hell...will be obvious.  So, while we move through our days on the planet we must choose how we will respond to Jesus.  We can't get around His life and we can't explain His miracles and we can't put His experience on Calvary and Golgotha under some convenient label or within some familiar box.  We really can't ignore Him and we are foolish to deny Him.  He has come to look each of us right in the eye and we must choose our response.  Will we avert our eyes...will we attempt to run from Him...will we try to fill our time with activities and pursuits that distract us from His gaze?  Jesus has come and He will prompt a response from you and from me.  He will not let us go quietly into an eternity apart from God....What is your response?  What will you do with Jesus?
Romans 5:18 Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous.
20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, 21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Rob Smith

Friday, April 8, 2011

butterfly school

The other day I spotted my first new butterfly of spring.  Not surprisingly, he was savoring the nectar of a flower on the edge of a wooded area.  I thought about that butterfly...he probably had just emerged very recently from the cocoon.  Who told him that he was supposed to get his nourishment from flowers?  Who instructed him in the delicate flight control that allowed him to negotiate breezes and hover so precisely over the petals?  I did a little internet exploring to find out how specific instincts, like butterflies knowing how to find the right flower, work and the answer is: nobody knows (not even instinctively).  Some try to attribute it to evolution and some say it is encoded in the DNA but this is all speculation.  Imagine if the creatures of the animal kingdom had to attend classes before they could fly, migrate, hunt, fish or wag their tails in approval!  The answer is that God has designed more than creatures...He has designed behavior and that behavior is perfectly suited to the creature.  A butterfly without flight wouldn't be the same.  How magnificent that He created the ability pass sophisticated behavior from one generation to the next, even among the humblest of creatures.  As we contemplate His design we must bow before the Designer.  Some of our attributes are clearly visible and some are unseen but all are woven together by the Master to perpetuate life and reflect His glory from one butterfly generation to the next.

Proverbs 30:25 The ants are a people not strong, 
      Yet they prepare their food in the summer; 
       26 The rock badgers are a feeble folk, 
      Yet they make their homes in the crags; 
       27 The locusts have no king, 
      Yet they all advance in ranks;

Rob Smith

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Watching the sun break the horizon at dawn to show its golden shape is a dramatic and personal experience.  At that point, before the sun has risen higher in the sky, you can actually look directly at the source of our light.  The light that fills our sky...that illuminates our entire day...has its source in that orange ball.  As our day progresses, we take our daylight for granted and tend to forget its origin.  When the skies are overcast or rainy we are not able to see the sun...but it has strength to illuminate our day despite the cloud barriers.  Sunlight is necessary for plants and crops to grow and produce the bread and forage for animals to exist.  The sun's heat is responsible for climates, weather patterns, wind, seasons, ocean currents and tides.  I suppose that there is virtually nothing on earth that isn't touched by the sun on a daily basis.  Watching the dawn puts me in touch with this source of central to life...and reminds me not to walk through this day indifferently.  Jesus is like the sun.  He has broken the horizon of our life and we have welcomed Him in.  We find that we can see Him when we come quietly in the morning and look His way.  His light fills the world and yet much of the world does not acknowledge Him and many who know Him have forgotten that He is the source.  He is our spiritual bread and His warmth creates the climate of our spiritual experience.  Even when our days are filled with problems, traumas and storms, His light and His presence break through those clouds.  That's why it is good to watch the sun break in the morning and that's why it is good to watch the Son break in your morning.  There is a source for the light and we can see and we can know that Source.  The light that surrounds us can become the Light that fills us.
Psalm 19: In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun,
 5 Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
         And rejoices like a strong man to run its race.
 6 Its rising is from one end of heaven,
         And its circuit to the other end;
         And there is nothing hidden from its heat.
Rob Smith

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

tender is the spring

Song of Solomon 6:11-12 One day I went strolling through the orchard,
                                            looking for signs of spring,
                                           Looking for buds about to burst into flower,
                                            anticipating readiness, ripeness.
                                            Before I knew it my heart was raptured,
                                              carried away by lofty thoughts!
Cold air and wind fight to remain, as winter's grip is broken,
And nature turns a season page, warm messages are spoken,
The sun awakens earlier, expectantly to see...
The pastel coat of newborn life on flower and bush and tree.
The animals find partners now as milder times are here,
Reminded that they have a role...
From two:  new life appears!
As earthbound images of God our hope in Him renews,
for all around we see the proof...
that.... tender though the spring appears
there is no greater truth
For life will conquer winter's death,
God's love...New life...breaks through!
spring blessings,
Rob Smith

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

early inheritance

Psalm 16:6 The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; yes I have a good heritage.
Psalm 16:6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant lines; surely I have a delightful inheritance.
You have to wait until someone dies before you can receive an inheritance.  Yet the Psalmist reflects his gratitude for the inheritance he has received from the Lord.  What is this inheritance?  Who has died?
Two deaths have taken place that may be connected with our inheritance.  Our wonderful Saviour has died in our place to make it possible to inherit a living relationship with the God of Heaven and Earth.  And, interestingly, we have also died when we repented of our sin and placed our trust in Jesus.  You might say that we also are the heirs of countless believers who have lived and died before us and have faithfully passed the Gospel down to us.  We could not receive Heaven without first dying to an earth-bound existence and we could not know our Lord unless He had died in our place.  How amazing that we could know the one who has died to make that knowledge possible.
Rob Smith

Monday, April 4, 2011

creatures of habit

Habits intrigue me...they seem to be a means that God has placed in our brains to increase efficiency.  Apparently there are two highways for our thoughts:  one is a training highway where experiences are consciously processed and actions deliberately chosen.  The other is a programmed highway, where repeated actions that are associated with certain situations become "hard-wired".   When repeated actions have become programmed into our brain, the brain actually preserves those pathways with a special coating on the nerve path.  When the proper situation arises (e.g. leaving the driveway for the commute to work) the brain automatically knows where to make the turns and how much speed is needed.  Habits can be changed, of course, but it takes a lot of conscious work to reprogram the brain, once those coatings are in place on our nerve paths.  I think there are important applications for our spiritual lives.  Of course, our walk with God is not a robot-like response to a set of conditions.  But our walk with God can be enhanced when we have programmed our minds to include Him in various situations.  If it becomes our pattern to spend time with Him as our first daily activity, eventually that will become our norm and the habit will lead to many dynamic interactions with our Maker.  If our pattern becomes "service" when we encounter or observe others in need, then we will respond something like a firefighter to the station alarm and helping others will be our normal response.  Habits are formed through repetition.  I suppose that means we should carefully consider how we respond to common are we programming our minds...what kind of "thought highways" are we constructing? 
1 Corinthians 7:23-24All of you, slave and free both, were once held hostage in a sinful society. Then a huge sum was paid out for your ransom. So please don't, out of old habit, slip back into being or doing what everyone else tells you. Friends, stay where you were called to be. God is there. Hold the high ground with him at your side.
Rob Smith

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Stages of life

When we are young, growing older means growing bigger and doing ever more interesting and challenging things.  Everyone celebrates the stages of growth, beginning with our weight and length (which later becomes height) and continuing with crawling, talking, walking and on through the school years of achievement pointing to career development...marriage and children of our own.  My father used to describe it as the cycle of life.  But, after physical maturity there comes a time when we don't celebrate weight gains...we don't get any taller (in fact we start to settle and shrink a bit)...we reach a point where our own children are grown and our careers have peaked and we aren't climbing the rungs of physical attainment like we did so eagerly in earlier years.  I would suggest that our lives are like a multi-stage rocket.  Like the massive Atlas booster of the Apollo space program, our early years lift us off the launch pad and into orbit, but we need another stage of power after the booster falls away to carry us out of earth's orbit and on to Heaven.   The second stage of our rocket comes when we are born again as faith is ignited and we find that we are no longer pushing away from Earth's attraction...we are now racing toward the Lord.  There is no resistance in space from atmosphere and a rocket tends to continue on and on after one firing of its new stage.  When we are born the second time...spiritually...the thrust is provided that will surely take us all the way.   The older we get, the younger we grow as we gradually move through the stages of understanding the sure trajectory toward God and the vast dimensions of Eternity.
Psalm 139:16 Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
                         all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
                         The days of my life all prepared
                          before I'd even lived one day.
blessings to all the eternal youngsters out there,
Rob Smith

Friday, April 1, 2011

the gift you can only receive

Standing by the water's edge yesterday I cleared my mind like I would clear a computer screen.  I loaded the Word Processing program in my mind and waited for the keyboard to register thoughts.  I was struck with the quiet beauty of the place and realized that it was all a gift.  Life, beauty, thinking, activity, nature...all a gift that no man could give to another man.  We all know generous people...special folks who truly relish giving more than receiving.  And we know that we ought to focus on being a source of blessing for others and not center on ourselves.   But I was reminded that there are some things that no man can give to another.   We receive so many gifts daily from above.  Perhaps we have become callous, like the Israelites under Moses, who could not be satisfied no matter how well God met their longings for food and water as they moved through the desert.   I believe that God wants to give Himself to us in daily company just as He gave His Son for us to restore the broken relationship.  But for the gift to be complete we need to be ready to receive and look His way.  Our days fill like attics with forgetful activity when they can be filled with appreciation, awe and adoration as we allow Him to pour the gift of life into our living.  There are some gifts that we can only receive.
Genesis 37:3 Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children because Joseph had been born to him in his old age. So one day Jacob had a special gift made for Joseph—a beautiful robe.
Blessings as you enjoy the robe God has gifted you,
Rob Smith