Wednesday, February 29, 2012

living between

This morning we are between...
Between the sunny days we've been experiencing, and...
Stormy weather headed in our direction.

We spend a lot of time living "between".
Between jobs...between paychecks...getting between squabbling children...

Between today and tomorrow...between work and retirement...between neighbors...between friends.

In fact I suppose we are always between something or other even when we're in the midst of activity.
Part of us is wondering about "what's next" even when we're struggling with "what's happening now".

Of course, the ultimate between is "between Heaven and Earth".  And that's where we live.  We have physical legs on Earth while our home is in Heaven, as people who have put our trust in Jesus.  We need help walking around in this "between" kind of way.

Our Lord has found us "between".  Made in His image but marred by sin we were somewhere between where we should have been and where we really were.  There was a gap and we needed Him to come in between.  And so He came to deal with the thing that had come between us by standing in that gap and taking the rap for us.

Now the "between" space is filled with Jesus and as we look at Him there is no longer a space or a gap.  He has filled it and drawn us tight to Heaven's Heart.  And that which was between is now a beam to walk across.

So we still live in this "between" kind of way until we are face to face with our Creator...but the beauty is in the One who links us here and now with Heaven's forever.  The beauty is in the Between.

1 Timothy 2:4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

now and then

Every now and then I come to you and find that you are there...
For every time of day is now...
And then is everywhere.

It's always now when I look up and now when I am down...
But then, you knew just where I was and why..and what...and how...

You're standing silently beside and waiting still within...
Until I turn to see you now,
and let your love light in.

For every now that I make yours
Leads to a promise kept,

Then I will know as I am known
Such joy each time we've met.

When now I come and now I know
and now I grasp your hand,

Then I will be restored, refreshed
and I will understand...

That you desire my every now to be forever yours
Then we will be forever one

And now and then are joined.

(dedicated to Jesus!)

Monday, February 27, 2012

filling the cup

We are studying the book  of Galatians in MIniBible college right now.  Chapters 5 and 6 are all about the conflict between flesh and spirit.  Dick Woodward, our teacher, uses the analogy of two competing dogs (one representing flesh and one representing spirit) and how the dog that is fed the most tends to win the fight.  As I read through this section I thought of a cup and how a cup can only be full of one fluid at a time.  It starts as an empty cup and we can choose how it is to be filled.  When we put our trust in Christ initially the Lord hands us a cup full of Himself, and He never takes back the cup...we will share that cup in eternity with Him.  But I can choose, on a daily basis, how I fill that cup.  If I do not fill my cup with the pitcher of Holy Spirit presence then the very atmosphere of this natural life will fill the cup with the ways of the world and of the flesh.  But if I set my mind on Him and drink in His word and His presence then the cup can only be full of Him and there is no room in the cup for anything else.  A cup can only hold one fluid at a time!  If we pour out our cup...filled with Him... for others on His behalf we tend to return to Him for a refill for we have seen the benefits of the cup full of life.

Psalm 116:12 
What shall I render to the Lord
For all His benefits toward me?
13 I will take up the cup of salvation,
And call upon the name of the Lord.

Psalm 23:You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
               You anoint my head with oil;
                My cup runs over. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Something of beauty

Starting the day with something of beauty sets the tone for the rest of the day. And we have been called to live for this day...this one day...the one day we are in at present. This morning I stood by the water's edge (see attached picture) and just drank in the beauty. Gentle breeze...silvery surfaced water...holly green mixed with hardwood gray sky...and the peace of the moment...all provided by the God who knows me. When you start your day with something of beauty you can go on to enjoy beauty throughout that day. That has to be some kind of success.
Psalm 96:6 Honor and majesty surround him;
strength and beauty fill his sanctuary.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

ceiling and floor

A brisk wind ripped across the reservoir, under a wide open sky where even the clouds were chased away.  A brave heron stood in shallow water and braved the wind, looking for the currents to push a breakfast fish his way.  I thought about the glory of the luminescent sky...radiated by a blinding sun shooting across from low above the horizon.  Wind...water...light...God has burst into this new day and from His throne above He surveys His domain.  Beautiful is His creation...wonderful His work...complete His provision to all creatures.  Simple is our trust in Him...ruler of all.  The sky is my ceiling and His floor.  So glad that we are His this morning!

Psalm 104:1-4  
Bless the Lord, O my soul!
O Lord my God, You are very great;
You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
Covering Yourself with light as with a cloak,
Stretching out heaven like a tent curtain.
He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters;
He makes the clouds His chariot;
He walks upon the wings of the wind;
He makes the winds His messengers,
Flaming fire His ministers.

Friday, February 24, 2012

sky talkers

My quiet walk was rudely interrupted this morning by a noisy flock of geese migrating north and flying about 150 feet overhead.  They were flying in three ragged V formations and I think every single bird was honking or talking.  It seemed like an awful lot of energy being expended on making noise.  A little bit of research this morning shows that geese are probably the second most talkative creature, after people.  They start as goslings, just out of the shell, and scientists believe that they've identified at least 13 different goose calls to communicate contentment, greetings, warnings, etc.  I suspect that this group of geese was having an internal debate about which local pond or creek to stop in for a rest and a bit of breakfast...almost like a family on the interstate looking at the exit signs for info on the fast food choices on a vacation trip.  Geese are committed to one another in their mating relationships, their raising of young, and as traveling and nesting communities.  I was reminded that we people can be refreshed by this kind of example and this level of bonding.  I think we already have the talking part down.

Psalm 104:12 The birds nest beside the streams 
      and sing among the branches of the trees. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Identity Gift

We hear a lot about "Identity Theft" these days.  The Internet has become a path for some to steal confidential information about us that can be used to steal money and compromise credit ratings.  But this morning, as I was thanking God for various aspects of my life, it occurred to me that He is the one who gave me my identify.  I thought about the unique personality we each have.  Even from our earliest days we have a certain security in our personal identity...we know that we are unique.  There is a certain mix of interests, attitudes, tendencies, and energy that has been mixed together and then baked to form each of our identities.  We are generally comfortable with ourselves...we have lived in the frames of our respective personalities all of our lives and you might say that our most lasting relationship, humanly speaking, has been with ourselves.  Imagine if your identity...your personality...shifted from day to day and you truly suffered from a "multiple personality" condition.  You would be like a ship drifting from its anchor.  There are times when we envy the personality of others but, just as we have become friends with the familiar appearance of our face in the mirror, so we have long been friends with the personality that forms our identity.  And now we can purpose to take that identity...that personality...and direct our focus upward to thank the One who made our "Identify Gift"...confident that there can be no identify theft when our entire person is covered and hidden by the shelter of His protection.

1 Peter 2:9 But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God's very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
 10 "Once you had no identity as a people; 
      now you are God's people. 
   Once you received no mercy; 
      now you have received God's mercy."

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

carpet of life

How thin is the layer of soil that produces all the food we eat.  A thin carpet of life...that's what the soil is.  Scientists tell us that the top layer of soil is "45 percent minerals, 25 percent water, 25 percent air, and five percent organic matter".   The organic matter is made of living bacteria and organisms and the remnants of dead plant and animal matter.  The bacteria breaks down the dead life and returns it to the soil.  The roots of plants and trees help to break down rocks to provide minerals.  Natural processes can take 500 years to build one inch of top soil.  Little creatures like earthworms, mice and moles help enrich and aerate the soil as they burrow through.  Each of us has his natural origin in this soil and our composition is relocated soil that God has arranged through DNA to form our bodies.  All the food we consume will spring up from this thin layer and one day we will lie down and our bodies will return to the soil to be reused.  It is a thin carpet of life that is recycled and gives rise to generations of people who will walk, play, plant, drive, and struggle on its surface.  From this thin carpet spring spiritual beings who will, one day, soar in the Heavens with their designer!

Ezekiel 17:5 He also took a seedling from the land 
      and planted it in fertile soil. 
   He placed it beside a broad river, 
      where it could grow like a willow tree. 
 6 It took root there and 
      grew into a low, spreading vine. 
   Its branches turned up toward the eagle, 
      and its roots grew down into the ground. 
   It produced strong branches 
      and put out shoots.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

the exercise of freedom

Freedom...the word, itself, is almost synonymous with America and Americans.  This beautiful February morning the bright azure sky seems to almost shout the word!  We are free as Americans but our true freedom is experienced on the inside of our personalities.  We have been made free from the grip of the worst tyrant of all...a tyrant that would conspire to keep us separated from our Heavenly Father and the freedom that comes from His knowledge.  We live in the land of the free...from external monarchs and dictators...but we each retain our slavery to the cruel tyranny of the flesh...and its crushing pressure to sin.  But, as we have placed the weight of our trust in the living God and His resurrected Son we have been set free from sin's rule.  And now, we can purpose to set our minds on Him.  And in that freedom we hear from Him...we see Him all around...we begin to live centered on Him.  The exercise of true freedom comes from our absolute rejection of all masters apart from our Lord....the one bond that doesn't lead to bondage.   We are more free than the flocks of birds that migrate with the weather.

Romans 6:14 Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God's grace.

Monday, February 20, 2012

forest painter

We had a snowfall last night.  This morning a white coat has been thrown over the ground.  My walk took me through our back yard, over a creek and up the far side.  It was the wet kind of snow that sticks to any surface it lands upon.  As I came upon one particularly large tree, with hundreds of spreading branches I realized that God is a marvelous artist and with this snow He delicately applied a fragile layer of white to every inch of every limb.  For a human to apply such a coating would take days of time and it is difficult to imagine what kind of brush or spray could achieve the same delicate result.  Yes, the Lord is a forest painter and He has transformed the naked branches of winter trees and given them a coat of white.   He is also able to touch every tiny branch of my life and bring beauty from what appears to be lifeless.  His hands are both mighty and tender and His touch is that of a loving artist.

Psalm 147:16 He sends the snow like white wool; he scatters frost upon the ground like ashes. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Global Warming

There is some controversy around the topic of "Global Warming".  It seems that the ice caps have been melting and ocean levels have been rising as levels of Carbon Dioxide are also on the increase.  Much study is in process to determine the role that man is playing in this important environmental change.  But I had an experience this past week that confirmed that man is playing an important role in global warming.  I visited a ministry on Thursday morning that is helping build churches around the world and plant the seed of God's Word within them.  International Cooperating Ministries has built nearly 4,000 churches in about 60 countries...mostly in the emerging or developing countries of the world.  They actually build church buildings that provide a place for local clusters of believers to meet and then they provide the solid Biblical teaching in local languages to equip and empower those people.  You would never realize the scope of this wonderful work from the outside of their headquarters.  It is a compact cinder block building with few windows in Hampton, Virginia.  Next door is a Sherwin-Williams paint distribution warehouse with trucks that tout "Cover the World" and a logo of the globe being covered with a giant can of paint.  But ICM is covering the world with a different kind of coating.  Inside their building the activity is like a beehive.  Twenty or more folks have specialized tasks to process requests from partners overseas and establish new churches and to prepare and distribute the Bible teachings and electronic media to the world.  There is a central meeting room with maps lining the walls and flags or pins that show the location of the individual churches and the work in process.  A map of India has so many pins stuck in the southeastern quadrant of the country that you can't see any paper map beneath the pins (but there is still much room for more churches in the rest of the country!).   This wonderful work is helping cause a global warming of new life as people from around the globe are awakening to new life as their faith awakens and is established in Jesus!  (

2 Kings 4:34 Then he lay down on the child's body, placing his mouth on the child's mouth, his eyes on the child's eyes, and his hands on the child's hands. And as he stretched out on him, the child's body began to grow warm again!

Saturday, February 18, 2012


Ecclesiastes 3:1 For everything there is a season, 
      a time for every activity under heaven. 
 2 A time to be born and a time to die. 
      A time to plant and a time to harvest. 
 3 A time to kill and a time to heal. 
      A time to tear down and a time to build up.

Several weeks ago I had the privilege of praying for a dear friend who was about to have cancer surgery.  Before praying, I scouted out a number of scriptures on "healing" to be refreshed on God's power to heal and to claim the promise of healing for my friend.  I really expected, with hope, that God would miraculously touch him and that the surgeons would be amazed to find no cancer when they operated.  After praying, my friend shared that he was fully confident that God could heal him but his greater concern was with having tubes stuck down his throat and feeling like he couldn't control basic functions like breathing.  So we also prayed for peace to carry him through the ordeal.  Well, my friend had surgery on January 16 and he is still in Intensive Care a month later.  He is on the mend and showing signs of coming back and recovering.  He did have cancer.  It was removed and he has battled pneumonia, infection and the challenge of being on a ventilator and having dialysis and coming on and off all kinds of drugs.  He has been in and out of a controlled state of low consciousness to allow his body to rest from the procedure. 
I wondered why God hadn't healed him and spared him this ordeal and I don't know...but as I considered this I realized that God is answering our prayers for healing...He's just doing it over a different time frame than the one I wanted.  And then I remembered that the world, itself, has been sick for some time with a sin infection.  God could have "healed" creation of this disease with one word but He has chosen a process that unfolded over generations, culminating in Jesus' death and resurrection, and is being received for generations more...and there will be an ultimate restoration to all of Creation.  But God has had purpose in working the ultimate healing over time and so I need to be patient with His work.  The process of healing can bring greater healing than the immediate problem suggests.  

He is sovereign over time as well as life. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

the low places

The wooded and unpaved road that I walk most mornings leads gradually downward. At the very bottom of the path a babbling brook passes under the roadbed and provides a musical backdrop to the forest setting. There are some very dark mornings when I cannot see the brook before I first hear it. It is a reassuring sound and presence. The roadway quickly climbs as I head over the creek. On either side of the road the land rises. It occurred to me that it is in the low places that we often find the water. And where we find the water we often find special beauty...whether the music of a stream flowing over rock, or of a pond where surrounding hills shed their rainfall, or of a powerful river that heads purposefully to its home in the ocean. When we stand on the high places, like mountain ridges, we have a sense of grandeur and vision and we can realize how vast life is and how small we are. But we often find ourselves in low places and it is good ro remember when we are surrounded by hills that are higher than our lives and problems seem to overwhelm, the low places are where we find the sweet water with music to encourage and mirror surfaces to reflect and refresh.
Psalm 104:10 You make springs pour water into the ravines,
so streams gush down from the mountains.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

the process

Have you found the satisfaction that comes from the process and the anticipation..... as much as the pleasure of the results?
Have you enjoyed and appreciated the hours of planning and expectation that are crowned with a wedding? A new child? A college degree?
Have you started a jigsaw puzzle with a thousand pieces and known the excitement of finding the first pieces to join?
Have you spotted an item in a catalog and saved for months before finally placing your order?
Have you left on a military deployment and wondered how you'd make one day connect to another until your return?
Have you been a 10 year old boy or girl who dreamed about what it would be like to grow up, when tomorrow seemed far away?
Have you gone to bed on Christmas Eve and thrilled with anticipation at the unknown that lay just ahead in the morning?
Have you smelled Pierce's barbecue cooking while driving past on the interstate and wished you could jump the fence for a sandwich?
Have you searched the scripture with eager longing to hear the taste the breathe in Heaven's Spirit air?
Being a Christian is so much more than knowing the facts. It's the process...of anticipating...of striving...of searching...of asking...of waiting...of seeking...of sensing...of connecting...of realizing...and of applying. It's a process of always becoming and always growing. It is the intersection of Heaven and Earth that finds us in our every day.
Each day we set out on a journey into the unknown with the opportunity to trust the One who knows all. We have never been at that particular point in time, facing those particular circustances and we do not know what we will run into... or run across... or run over... or be overrun by...We can choose to be anxious about the unknown...
                                                                                   to let routine and habit carry us through... or
                                                                                                    to be open to the adventure of a fresh dependence on a living God.
When we walk with the Lord we do not always know where we will end up but we know that we will end up with Him.
Imagine what it was like for the gold miners who sifted creek water for hours and days for small nuggets and particles of the shiny stuff.
Our relationship, on a personal level, is established as we wade into the river and begin sifting for the gold. Over time the precious minerals of truth will be collected and we rejoice...but more importantly we come to enjoy the hours spent in the process and that treasure can't be weighed on any scale .... far more satisfying than simply being handed the gold...
Deuteronomy 4:29 But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.
Rob Smith

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Whole and Holy

Exodus 3:5 Then He said, "Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground."
Primary (pre-Christian) meaning is not possible to determine, but probably it was "that must be preserved whole or intact, that cannot be transgressed or violated," and connected with O.E. hal (see health) and O.H.G. heil "health, happiness, good luck" (source of the German salutation heil).

I've been thinking about "Holiness"...being Holy...our Holy Lord. It's interesting that the root words for holy go back to the same root words for "health" and "wholeness". To be holy is, of course, to be consecrated, sacred and godly. But, perhaps a simple way to consider being holy is to be whole. When the Lord instructs us to be holy, as He is holy, I think He is telling us to come apart from the unhealthy and incomplete and to be whole and to be healthy in Him.
Perhaps when God told Moses to take the sandals off his feet it was so that those feet could be in direct contact with the holy contact with our whole and complete and wonderful God, with nothing between.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012


This morning, at the local pond, I was entertained by three otters. They poked their round heads above the water for a few seconds and then submerged to swim 75-100 feet underwater and pop to the surface again. They seemed to be having a good time and I think God fashioned a creature designed for "play" when he made the otter. I think He designed us as creatures for a different purpose...perhaps created to reflect His nature. Peter tells us that we were made to be holy because He is holy. So I looked up "holy", knowing that it was going to be more likely I'd swim like an otter than that I could live in the perfection of God, Himself. But Webster tells me that "holy" has something to do with 'total dedication'. The Lord is totally dedicated to us and, perhaps, He has called us to pursue lives that are 'totally dedicated to Him'. He demonstrated that absolute commitment in the giving of His Son to buy us back. Now we have a lifetime to respond in dedication to Him. Absolute love calls for total commitment. This is a great challenge, but the One who has called us to the commitment is also the One who provides the resources to make it possible. I think the bottom line of holiness is focus...the setting of our minds, hearts and actions on the One who sets His abiding love on us.
1 Peter 1:15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy."[

Monday, February 13, 2012

earth's icing

When you are a child (or a child at heart) the best part of a cake is the icing and the best part of the icing is the corner piece of cake with icing on two sides, as well as the top. It occurred to me over the weekend, as we were treated to a light coat of snow, that snow is something like the icing on the cake (at least for us in Virginia, who are not overwhelmed with the white stuff). Even when it is expected, snow still brings a surprise and a thin sheet transforms all that we see and brings a pristine freshness to all that is familiar. Yes, snow brings hazards to driving and care must be taken in walking but snow is great for playing and delightful to throw and slide over. Snow doesn't last long, in Virginia, like the icing of a cake. But it does add an extra layer of sweetness and its brilliance brightens our outlook.
Proverbs 25:13 Like the cold of snow in time of harvest
Is a faithful messenger to those who send him,
For he refreshes the soul of his masters.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

embraced, not imposed

Jesus said: "And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself." (John 12:32)
There is something about truth, that it must be lifted up and there is something about belief, that it cannot be forced. Jesus embraces those who are drawn to Him and, in that bond, love and truth become one and we are transformed. Sometimes I think that we try to bash one another with our convictions, seeking to impose our concept of truth. Our desire to see others won to the Lord is the most admirable motivation but I think we often go about it the wrong way. The answer isn't found by pointing at our convictions or our rules or our point of view. The answer is always found by pointing up to Him. Where is He?...Who is He?...What would He have us be and do and say? There is a great battle for us to run to and it is a battle for the eternal destiny of every person. But, interestingly, we don't fight it effectively when we fight each other. We fight it effectively when we lift up Jesus and show that, "There is another way". And our understanding becomes satisfied when our awareness of Him becomes trust and His acceptance of us becomes treasure.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Wallet and keys


Wallet and keys...I'm aware instinctively if they're missing. We don't carry purses as men. Our wallet and our keys are the only two essentials we need to go out into the world. Something like the Old West six-guns, we just feel undressed without wallet and keys. Even when I change into casual clothes after work I need to have wallet and keys in my pocket. This wasn't always the case with me. As a college student I somehow packed my wallet in a suitcase and couldn't identify myself when I tried to board a flight, having checked my bag. And there was no need for keys back then because there was no car and no lock on my room at Navy. But now my wallet is a low tech filing system, bank and license to drive and function in the world. And without keys I'm not going far and I'm not getting into my job or reentering my home. Wallet and keys....unlock my world and pay my way. Sounds a lot like Jesus to me...I'm just not getting far and I'm not opening any doors without Jesus aboard. There is a sense of being undressed and incomplete, wherever I am, when I forge out there without remembering that Jesus is with me. (I know he's always there...sometimes I just kind of forget!!)
Revelation 1:18 I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.[ 

Friday, February 10, 2012


The mosquito is not a pleasant creature. Most of us would be pleased if somehow the mosquito became instinct. A bug that sticks us like a miniature hypodermic needle and extracts a bit of our blood just seems to be carrying natural diversity a bit farther than necessary. But the mosquito occurred to me as an analogy for our role as believers. We know that we have been entrusted with the message of salvation but we don't know how to effectively reach our world. So, the maker of the world has placed a drop of His blood within our person at the point when we bowed before Him as Lord and Savior. From that time on we are carriers of His Spirit and we will transmit Him as we alight on others in this world...that's right...we're mosquitoes for the Lord. We aren't the active agent but we carry Him within and as we move through our days we will transmit that presence. I do think that we're a bit more involved than the mosquito and I don't consider our salvation to be a disease. But surely we are carriers of Heaven's Hope by virtue of the resident Spirit within and as we see opportunities to connect with others, He will do the work to make Himself known.
Exodus 25:14 Insert the poles into the rings at the sides of the Ark to carry it.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Who's on first?

2 Corinthians 8:1 Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia. 2 They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity. 3 For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will. 4 They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem. 5 They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do.
Living above their circumstances...that's what the folks in the Macedonian church were doing. They were so caught up in the
"vertical dimension" of walking with God that they did not even consider their own impoverished state when they saw an opportunity to give to others in need. This speaks to me of the nature of faith. Faith is opportunistic and faith is full of trust. The Macedonians saw that their meager contributions could join with gifts from other churches to help the condition of desperate believers in Jerusalem. Their money wasn't enough to improve their own condition but, combined with other gifts, it could make a difference for those persecuted believers in Jerusalem. That was the opportunistic side of faith. The trust side was that God saw their own situation and was fully able to assemble the funds and resources needed for them...even though it would have to come from outside of their own abilities. Living by faith, the Macedonians didn't consider their own situation first...they responded to the needs of others first. They did this because God was already First in their hearts.

Monday, February 6, 2012

precious stones

1 Peter 2:4 As you come to him, the living Stone-rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him-you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
God is the ultimate mineral expert. He fashions the diamonds and rubies and sapphires that eventually are cut and fastened to gold and silver chains to ultimately adorn and enhance beauty. He also makes huge boulders like the Humpback Rocks on the Blue Ridge Parkway that seem to preside over the towering ridge like a judge in session. He also makes the pebbles that are smoothed in the bottom of streams and the rocks that are pulled from the earth to permit a field to be plowed and a building to be fashioned. Some rock is chiseled and set into monuments to remember great men and women. Jesus, Himself, is a Stone...a cornerstone of Heaven. And as each of us trusts in Him, we also rest on that cornerstone and we form walls, and we form a building, and we become a city of stones that are also jewels made from pebbles smoothed by His stream of care...content to be in the shadow of the rock, who is also the great judge. So we adorn Him!


Saturday, February 4, 2012

the reservoir

Not far from where I live is a large reservoir, the Diascund Creek Reservoir, which is part of the water supply system for the city of Newport News. This is really a large a lake...that has been created by damming up a little creek and containing the water behind earthen walls and natural wooded shores. This morning the reservoir was the place I had my personal time with the Lord. When you are standing beside a large reservoir on a sunny morning two things dominate your view: a very big body of water and a very big expanse of sky. Sandwiched between are the trees and birds and occasional trucks that pass by. I thought about the sky and the water. From the sky we have the light and the air we need to see and breathe. From the reservoir we have the water that sustains our lives and cleans us. Taken together, we have a picture of all the Lord is and does for us. Really, His presence and His impact in our lives is just as overwhelming and clear as the simple view of the reservoir and sky this morning. We tend to clutter up our concept and our awareness of God with all the things in our peripheral vision between the sky and the water. But He dominates. He oversees and lightens and brightens and refreshes us continually. The Diascund Reservoir has a broad concrete spillway where a constant overflow of water feeds down into a canal where the water can be processed for our use. Our lives are a reservoir also, filled with the things of God, and overflowing into a creek of daily living that is intended to benefit others.
Ecclesiastes 2:6 I built reservoirs to collect the water to irrigate my many flourishing groves.

Friday, February 3, 2012

low tech

I think that one of the things that is so enjoyable about an early morning walk is the freedom from technology.  No cell phone or smart T.V. or computer or internet.  Reducing the distractions seems to intensify the quiet and increase the likelihood of hearing the Lord.  Recently our workplace came out with a rule to ban smart phones from the office.  At first I thought it was too much control and unnecessary.  I have found it to be a blessing and a real help in keeping focus on the work at hand.  Frankly, we live in an age of information overkill with hundreds of channels on T.V. and an unlimited array of applications and networks.  They feed natural inclinations to get in touch, stay in touch and pursue virtually any interest or desire that springs up.  Like any great inventions they have profound positive and negative qualities.   Facebook is a hugely successful internet service and feeds this longing to stay in touch and check in on a sea of friends and family.  But I wonder if our greater need isn't to simplify and reduce the number of easy access gateways for our attention.  It seems as if technology, with all its tremendous advances and advantages is also fuel for the flesh, and so spiritual discipline is needed to discern its wise use.  But beyond all that is our relationship with God, who is continuously available via the original "cloud" network.  Our user i.d. is our name and our password is Jesus and He is always looking to expand his "friend" network.

1 Corinthians 7:35 I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

mountain air

This past weekend I enjoyed a drive to and along the Blue Ridge Parkway, from Afton Mountain south past Sherando Lake for about 30 miles.  It's not the most beautiful time to see the mountains, some might argue, because there are no colorful leaves...the carpet of trees display a sea of gray from the exposed bark and branches.  My biggest surprise, as I parked the car at a scenic overlook, was the first breath of air I inhaled.  It was clean and fresh and somehow seemed to have a different quality than the air from the flatlands.  The pristine taste of the mountain air joined the views of the picturesque valleys on either side of the ridge to lift me up.  Sometimes you need to go to a higher elevation to find the clear air and to see things from another perspective.  But driving the Blue Ridge Parkway requires close attention to every bend and dip in the road itself.  It is ironic that a place with such grand scenes from miles away requires strict attention to the road just ahead.  There were a few spots where the road tracked right next to the mountain edge and looking out meant looking down from the driver's side.  I suppose driving the Blue Ridge is something like our spiritual walk.  There are grand views and there is sweet air available but we need to pull off and park at the scenic overlooks if we are going to appreciate them.  We tend to stay on the road with attention fixed on the bends and twists right in front of us.

Isaiah 49:11 
I will make each of My mountains a road,
And My highways shall be elevated.