Friday, May 27, 2011

why we have 13 year cicadas

I figured out why we have 13 year cicadas...the buzzing locusts that surround us right now in the woods.  The Lord wanted to show that a large number of the same creature could have one existence buried underground and another above ground and in flight.  For almost all of its life the cicada lives deep in the dirt clinging to roots and sucking nourishment from them.  They emerge after 13 years all together...numbering in the flex their wings, fly to the trees, mate...leave eggs on the trees and die.  The eggs fall to the ground and burrow down to repeat the cycle.  Of course scientists have their explanation as to why they all go through this cycle at the same time.  (They assert that the large numbers overwhelm predators capacity to eat, assuring survival of the species), but I think the Lord is painting a picture of His church.  We don't live underground but we do live under Heaven.  Our mobility, vision and range of living may seem normal but they are limited compared with the eternal dimension.  One day we will all be raised to a higher existence, in Heaven, with the Lord.  This is when the church is raptured...when Christ summons those alive or dead, who have trusted in His saving work on the Cross.  We will rise together, at that point, to a totally new form of living.  Fortunately we will not need to fear any predators from that point on.  And this transforming work will not repeat as it does with the will only happen once!  I hope you are ready to rise at the call of our Savior.  I'm confident that the sound will be more attractive than the buzzing of the locusts!

1 Thessalonians 4:15 We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. 17 Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.

blessings (from one cicada to another),
Rob Smith 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

the blessing bonus

I think that one of the most exciting aspects of our personal devotional life is the unexpected blessings that surface during those times.  When we free our schedule, our minds and our bodies for a time to stand in the presence of the talk with Him and to listen to Him and to behold His beauty there is often a freshness and a new insight or assurance that accompanies that time.  I like to visit with the Lord at the local mill pond in the morning just because there are few distractions and much natural beauty.  It creates an atmosphere that is conducive to being open with and feeling close to our Lord.  This morning I happened to remember my binoculars and as I scanned the far side of the pond a bald eagle suddenly flew into my vision.  He ascended to the top of a tree and assumed his regal posture overseeing the watery domain.  It occurred to me that I didn't go to the pond to see an eagle.  I went to draw close to the Lord...but He threw in the eagle as a bonus.  When we purpose to include our wonderful Lord in our lives we may be surprised by the unexpected blessing that may result.

Psalm 139:5 You go before me and follow me.
      You place your hand of blessing on my head.

blessings as you spend time with Him today!
Rob Smith

Monday, May 23, 2011

the ultimate animal

This morning I spied a duck on the pond as I arrived.  I left the truck door open to avoid startling the duck with the noise of closing the door but assumed he'd spotted me because he had disappeared when I walked to the water's edge.  In a few seconds he surprised me by popping up...he had dived beneath the water.  I continued to watch and he dove again...staying submerged for over half a minute and resurfacing close to 100 feet from where he had plunged beneath the water.  I hadn't seen a diving duck on the pond before.  I turns out that there are two kinds of ducks: divers and dabblers.  The dabblers bob on the surface and can stick their heads under to catch food...but the divers have a different body design that permits diving.  So the diving duck is the ultimate creature: able to fly in the air, walk on the ground, swim on the surface and even move underwater.  How remarkable that God created so many varied creatures.  You might think that He could have stopped with the diving animal that can fly between bodies of water and then navigate on land, water and beneath the surface to find food.  Certainly the duck can outperform me and has a better chance of survival in the wild.  But I'm glad that our Creator had a different kind of ultimate animal in mind when He was designing Creation.  The duck may be superior in many ways but his term of living is limited to the planet.  God had in mind an ultimate creature that would begin existence on the surface and then rise to Heaven when the time on earth was done.  We may not be able to dive like a duck, but we have the capacity to ascend to our Creator's side (and without holding our breath).

Luke 23:43 And Jesus replied, "I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise."

Rob Smith

Saturday, May 21, 2011

simple understanding

I like simplicity...fewer moving parts and less sophistication means less can break and life is simpler.  Of course we live in a complex age, with technology layered over technology and everything from our electric toothbrushes to our telephones is very "un-simple".  (And I certainly like the benefits and functions of modern living and today's devices).  Technology allows me to do things that I need and understand with tools that are beyond my understanding.  This reminds me of the Lord.  I do not begin to understand the ways of God and that makes sense because He is the Maker and I am the Made One.   With technology I have found that there are two kinds of understanding:  understanding (or not understanding) how things work and understanding how things can work for me.  With the Lord I find two kinds of understanding as well: understanding (or not understanding) the ways of God and understanding how His ways are meant to influence my ways.  I have come to peace with technology and do not feel it necessary to grasp the inner workings of all these devices in order to enjoy their benefits.  And I have come to peace with God and know that it is not necessary, or even possible, for me to comprehend His work....while also growing in my understanding of His reality and how that knowledge makes all the difference.
Job 32:
 8 But there is a spirit in man,
      And the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding.
Rob Smith

Friday, May 20, 2011

roots and shoots

It is fascinating to consider your ancestral roots. I think, especially in America, we have such interesting family trees. Our children, for example, can trace their history to England, Scotland, Ireland, Holland, and Germany. I guess Americans might be considered the "mutts" of the modern world. And to think about the personal histories of our ancestors...some colonists, some sailors, some and shopkeepers...makes it interesting to think about the actual people and the actual experiences that our forefathers and mothers lived through. There are online tools and professional services you can obtain and hire to research your ancestry. Some religions highly emphasize this kind of research and suggest that the present generation is not only the result of previous ones, but can actually impact the eternal state of those who have died in the past. But it occurred to me that the past may be getting all the attention while the future awaits the outcome of our lives. Rather than focus on the past, I am challenged to think about how my life can shape the future through children, grandchildren and future generations. One day, from a front porch in Heaven, it will be a delight to meet the descendants of our family who have come to know and trust our Lord...and to consider the beauty of a family tree...looking forward!
Psalm 22:30 Our children will also serve him.
Future generations will hear about the wonders of the Lord.
Rob Smith

Thursday, May 19, 2011

nothing to fear

As I approached the edge of the pond near my home this morning I was overwhelmed with peace.  Peace rose from the water like the light mist that was visible there.  Peace descended from the puffy white clouds and ocean-blue sky.  But the peace was disrupted when my footsteps triggered a sudden commotion as a family of young ducks reacted to my presence and skittered madly away from the shoreline.  There must have been a dozen or more ducks and they headed off in three directions as fast as their immature wings and feet could flap and paddle them away.  If they only could have understood my intentions, they would have known that there was nothing to fear from me.  I was only there to enjoy the pond and their presence would have added to that experience.  Of course their survival instinct was engaged and that sparked their sudden departure.  I was reminded that our Lord has come near the pond of our daily lives too.  He wants to enjoy our company but we may skitter away like the ducks thinking that there is something to fear.  Perhaps if we understood His intentions we would remain still and calm and enjoy His company as He seeks to enjoy ours.  Of course there is a healthy and proper fear of the Lord but I suspect that the intended outcome of that fear is not flight but fellowship and even friendship with the One who has fashioned us all.
Psalm 16:11 You will show me the way of life,
      granting me the joy of your presence
      and the pleasures of living with you forever.
Rob Smith

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

He is at work

I returned to the local pond this morning, having been away in Arizona for the past week.  I saw amazing, dramatic sights in Arizona...vast desert with large cactus plants standing like people in places where few people go.  We saw high mountains that appeared ancient and chiseled by wind and weather.  The heat was intense in mid-day and encouraged shelter from shade until the sun sank lower in the sky.  Then the air was pleasant and breezes were comfortable.  Perhaps the trip to Arizona made the green of the trees surrounding the pond stand out more than usual.  I thought about the work that God had invested to form the ancient desert of Arizona and the work He invested in fashioning the trees and flowering bushes I saw this morning.  It occurred to me that God is at work.  Some of His projects are very long term: like the creation of a desert.  Some of His projects are much shorter and closer in time, like the painting of trees with spring color.  In our lives there is a parallel.  Some of the work He is doing is long term, as the work of wind to carve art from stone in a desert.  Some of His work is as near as today, when He walks by our side through the challenges of the day.  But He is at work...He isn't a God who just set it all in motion and stood back to admire the job.  He is involved in His handiwork and just as He formed us...He is still at work in and through us.  There is beauty in the desert and there is beauty in the green of spring and it all is linked to His active hand.
Job 37:
 5 God thunders marvelously with His voice;
      He does great things which we cannot comprehend.
 6 For He says to the snow, 'Fall on the earth';
      Likewise to the gentle rain and the heavy rain of His strength.
 7 He seals the hand of every man,
      That all men may know His work.
Psalm 74:12 For God is my King from of old,
         Working salvation in the midst of the earth.

Rob Smith

Monday, May 9, 2011

The mind spring

Where do thoughts come from?  Clearly our thoughts become focused when we are solving a problem or accomplishing a specific task.  But where do our thoughts "bubble up" from when our mind is free to think about anything?  It occurred to me that our mind is like a spring of water and thoughts are like new water emerging from deep within the earth.  They just keep flowing up, into, and through our minds continually.  Even when we are sleeping the thought spring continues in the form of dreams.  Somehow the way thoughts form and are processed determines our personality.  But, I am convinced that thoughts will form and flow as long as our minds function and are healthy.  So how can we fosterthoughts of God and thoughts of service and love toward others?  It may be that many potential thoughts are competing for our attention and that we filter out certain ones and permit others to flow and develop.  Perhaps we shape those filters by intentionally fixing our minds on our "thought preferences".  Our mind will filter out the thoughts we don't want to develop and will permit others to flow and grow.  Ultimately, I believe, we selectively allow this mind spring to generate thoughts about our interests.  Thoughts about a multitude of subjects seek entrance from many springs in the pool of our mind.  As we focus on the Lord we will see the pool of our mind become filled with the sweet water of thoughts that center on, and have there source in, Heaven.  (At least that's my thought on the subject).

Psalm 10:4 The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God;
         God is in none of his thoughts.

Psalm 48: 9 We have thought, O God,
           on Your lovingkindness,
         In the midst of Your temple.

Proverbs 16:3 Commit your works to the LORD, 
      And your thoughts will be established. 

Rob Smith

Friday, May 6, 2011

a greater reality

Thousands of days roll by as one,
They all may seem the same.

A sun, a sky, a job to do,
Our lives, our change.

How have our senses lost their edge?
Why is it that we claim...

That we, ourselves, are in control...
When God's presence is so plain.

So perfect is His handiwork,
So right is His design,

That we fail to see the artistry,
The beauty from His mind.

We tend to separate our lives from His,
How is it we can't see?

That this familiar world of ours
Shouts His reality.

Rob Smith

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Declare: from L. declarare "make clear, reveal, disclose, announce," from de- intensive prefix (see de-) + clarare "clarify," from clarus "clear"

To declare seems to accomplish two purposes: to clarify and to announce.  Even God makes a declaration with every day...every sunrise, all of nature.  He is making it clear that we live in a world that He made and this is announced in every created thing from amoeba and atom to atmosphere and elephant.   We are called to also make a declaration in response: that our trust is in God and our faith has been individually placed in the saving work of Jesus on the Cross.  I think that something is "fixed" or established within us as we clarify our faith by announcing it.  This may well have been an important part of the new believer's baptism.  It is a public announcement that makes a clear statement of allegiance to the One who has been found by faith.  As we have opportunity, in appropriate settings, to speak out our faith and identify with the One who has saved us we declare that we are His.  Perhaps this announcement makes it clear to ourselves, within, as much as to others around.  Something is established in this "Declaration of Dependence" that is more liberating even than America's "Declaration of Independence".

Job 22:28 You will also declare a thing,
      And it will be established for you; 
      So light will shine on your ways.

Rob Smith

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

It is enough

In the quiet of a morning, the new day felt like a fresh sheet of paper without writing.
No memories had yet been fashioned.
No problems had entangled my mind.
There was no theme or story or event to distinguish it from other days.
A great blue heron stood on the far shore of the pond, resembling a palace guard with upright stance.
He unfolded his flag-like wings and pulled his body and stick legs just above the water's surface.  He
flew to the center of the pond and sat briefly in the water, like an oversized goose, before returning to his post at the water's edge.
I enjoyed a brief prayer with our precious Lord as I enjoyed simply taking in the scene.  As I waited by the water I realized that "it was enough" just to be there.  And it was enough just to be close to the Lord.  Even before there is even a hint of activity in the is enough to be with Him.
Psalm 17:15 As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness;
         I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.
Rob Smith