Sunday, May 27, 2012

Two go fishing

(see attached picture)

So many things go better in pairs.   I am building a small deck this weekend with my next door neighbor, who is more skilled than I.  The work is easier when shared and exchanging ideas and thoughts helps the project go better.  A marriage is all about two who have become one that they might be more than each could be individually.  I spied these two men (pictured) on the local pond fishing this morning.  It must be more satisfying and helpful to fish with a partner appreciate each other's successes and to suggest new spots to cast into...and to have someone to talk to when the fish aren't cooperating.  I think this is why the Lord sent out disciples in pairs to share the Kingdom of God.  We need encouragement, friendship and reinforcement as we work and as we live and as we cast our lines, fishing for men.

Ecclesiastes 4:Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.

Rob Smith

Saturday, May 26, 2012

dangerous associations

(see picture attached)

I was tracking the flight of a dragonfly as he weaved over the pond.   I zoomed in to take his picture when he landed on a branch near the water's edge.  Only later did I realize that he'd chosen to land in the midst of hungry spiders.  Fortunately I noticed after several minutes that he'd escaped without becoming dinner for those arachnids.  I was reminded that we need to choose our associations with some degree of care and when we are out, flying about, it pays to use care when we make decisions about where we will land.

Proverbs 13:20 
Walk with the wise and become wise;
    associate with fools and get in trouble. 

Rob Smith

Friday, May 25, 2012

unexpected catch

(see attached picture)

A local fisherman really "landed the big one" at some point when he cast his line and snagged a large hardwood tree at the edge of the local pond.  The red bobbin and line left behind are reminders of a lesson learned about how to fish and where to cast a line.  Hopefully he fixed his fishing gear, walked to a clear spot, away from the trees, and cast again.  Making mistakes in the process of fishing leads to becoming a better fisherman, I suppose.  There are times when we cast a line for the Lord, as well, only to feel that we have gotten tangled up in some branches...completing missing the water, let alone finding a fish.  But this is how we learn.  We need to find an open spot, prepare our line and cast again.  Last weekend I visited with an older fisherman, who has frequented this pond for over 20 years.  He had spent about three hours that morning without getting a single bite...and then as he was dozing off a 3.5 lb. bass jumped his line and the adrenalin kicked in.  Patience, persistence and practice lead to success when fishing at the pond.

Luke 5:10 His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed.
Jesus replied to Simon, "Don't be afraid! From now on you'll be fishing for people!" 11 And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The answer is no!

(see attached picture)

There are times when we face agonizing decisions.  Should we go forward and take a chance...follow an opportunity...pursue an ambition...develop a relationship?  If only we knew what lay on the other side of that decision.  We turn to God and ask for wisdom and direction.  We may have an idea of the right decision but only He knows the outcome.  Sometimes the doors just seem to open, like storefront doors with electric eyes but other times.....the answer is NO!  He may place a concrete wall across the path that seems like a road to us.  At those times we may wonder why we shouldn't go in that direction....but the greater wonder is that we have a God who knows us and cares enough to answer at all.

Psalm 17:
I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God.
    Bend down and listen as I pray.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

the homestead

(see attached picture)

There is a place that probably saw generations of families rise up each day and rise up through the years to mature and move on.  It was always home and held a treasured place in many hearts.  It was a landmark for memories and a lighthouse for living and the demands of life were as real and near as the cornfields outside the door.  Fire took the house years ago but new life still rises from the fields as the warm seasons still come and the corn is still needed.   The large shade tree still stands and some may still remember the heat of August in Virginia and the cool protection of those branches.  The house may be gone but the impact of home continues.

Psalm 132:14 
"This is my resting place forever," he said.
    "I will live here, for this is the home I desired.


Monday, May 21, 2012

frog river

(see attached photo)

During my walk yesterday morning I came on a picturesque scene that few people see.  It included a marshy pond, cattails, honeysuckle plants and surrounding large hardwood trees.  It occurred to me that God paints lovely landscape scenes in places where only He may appreciate the beauty...oh yes and the frogs.  So I have named this place "Frog River".  Isn't it wonderful to be part of His Creation and to enjoy His handiwork...and to continue to explore to find new evidence of His creative touch!
Psalm 111:
How amazing are the deeds of the Lord!
    All who delight in him should ponder them.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

the road ahead

(see picture attached)

The road ahead

The road ahead has dips and curves,
You cannot see too far.

Your eyes can trace next steps to walk
But bends block  any more.

No point in worry of the rest,
For as you stride today,

 More of the path comes into view
And safely guides your way.

Psalm 25:
Show me the right path, O Lord;
    point out the road for me to follow.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

life and death

This morning I spied two vultures high in a dead tree, overlooking my favorite pond.  It struck me that two creatures who live by feeding on dead creatures find their best vantage point to spot meals in a dead tree...providing a clear view by virtue of having no leafy branches like a tower.  The Lord provides life from death and finds purpose in every aspect of life's cycle.  Death from from death.  He is ruler over all.

1 Samuel 2:
The Lord gives both death and life;
    he brings some down to the grave but raises others up. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

light catcher

A different kind of thirst they have,
Silent creatures of the woods.

Through the night they patient wait,
for Heaven's radiant goods.

And as the golden source of light
breaks past horizon's shore,

Spots of light entice the trees
"Not long to wait...there's more"

The rain has come, the roots draw full
The stage is fully set.

For sunlight to come raining down
As leaves with light are wet.

Light catchers, we are made the same.
We wait beneath the Son

For His light shines to wake us too
In the woods of everyone.

Psalm 18:28 
You light a lamp for me.
    The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

geese in the mist

Two geese fly through misty sky
Honking to each other.

Little do they realize
the beauty they uncover.

The Artist works in clay and light
and favors water colors.

His gallery lies all around
Our joy is to discover.

The pictures show Creation planned
With beauty in His mind,

For only from the Master's hand
Would art know how to fly.

Psalm 96:
Honor and majesty surround him;
    strength and beauty fill his sanctuary.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

clouds that clarify

There are times when our eyes are drawn upward to majestic displays of clouds.  Yesterday evening was like that.  It was a routine drive home from work, with all that goes with the end of a work day, including traffic and reflections on the day just completed.  But my eyes could not help but be led to the overlapping billows ofcumulus cloudsback-lit by the sun.  Such displays are awesome from the standpoint of size, grandeur and sheer beauty.  It was as if the Lord was saying, "Take your mind off of yourself and look to Me.  I am right here and despite the challenges of your daily life, my beauty and power are ever present."  Remarkable how the sky becomes a canvas for His art and a window to Heaven...a very present reminder that glory is near and so much depends on the focus of our vision.

Numbers 10:34 As they moved on each day, the cloud of the Lord hovered over them.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

energy for the future

On Mother's Day my daughter's family, my mother and we gathered at a local place for a bite to eat.  It was the kind of place where you could sit on a patio as you ate.  The adults were content to sit, eat and visit but the children were like popcorn jumping out of an uncapped pot.  I suppose they ate a little but, as soon as possible, they left their seats and formed a motley pack to climb over the rail and race around the restaurant, hide in bushes, climb small trees and make every effort to get out the sight of the adults.  My son-in-law used his football prowess to track each one and chase them down.  I couldn't get over the energy of the children.  They are so full of life that it bursts out of them.  I think that our concerns about domestic energy supplies are overblown.  There is plenty of energy waiting to be unleashed for the coming generation!

Mark 10:14 When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.


Monday, May 14, 2012

mistaken identity

I had the rare privilege this morning of spotting a wild turkey and a bald eagle during my brief visit to the local pond.  The turkey hen was especially interesting because she allowed me to get fairly close before scurrying from the roadside into the deeper brush.  The eagle provided a flashing glimpse as he soared powerfully overhead to a perch in trees alongside the pond.  But I was curious about the turkey...was there anything unique about this bird?  A little "Googling" surfaced the background for its name.  Early European explorers mistakenly confused the bird with guinea fowl that came from Africa and were imported through the country of Turkey to the tables of Europe.  But the turkey was actually unrelated to that bird, though its name stuck.  The thought occurs that each of us has a name given to us at birth.  Our names often have something to do with our family heritage.  Many names seem to have popular periods or trends and then fade from use.  Other names are classic and associated with Bible figures or great people of the past.  It's interesting that our names are given before anything is really known of our true character or personality.   But, more interestingly, our Heavenly Lord knew of our identity and laid out our personal design long before we made our earthly arrival.  He has a name for each of us because he has made us each uniquely.  We may feel like our name is "turkey" and our lives are ungainly and unattractive but this isn't the Lord's view.  Each of us has unique purpose and special value, and one day will know the name He has given us.   As we walk with Him now we find the purpose He has named us for.

Psalm 139:16 You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.
17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
    They cannot be numbered!
18 I can't even count them;
    they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
    you are still with me!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

spring appetite

I'm convinced that we have an appetite for natural beauty.  This is the time of year when the natural world buds and blossoms and branches out with honey suckle fragrance.  I went for a ride yesterday afternoon with the top down on the convertible and drank it all in.  I didn't solve any problems or accomplish anything productive on that ride, but something satisfying took place just drinking in the handiwork of God.  We were placed in a Garden at the beginning of time and we still find deep satisfaction as we dwell and move through the garden of spring that we now enjoy.

Happy Mother's Day to my Mom and all mom's.  You were the first to love us and through you we understand what sacrificial love and unconditional love are all about.  May you all enjoy this lovely spring day.

Isaiah 61:11 
The Sovereign Lord will show his justice to the nations of the world.
    Everyone will praise him!
His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring,
    with plants springing up everywhere. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Assisted Living we move deeper into our years our bodies begin to fade and falter.  This isn't really a failure of design, it's part of the design because the outer wrapper needs to fall away before we can live in eternal places.  But, while we are here we have invented special places called "Assisted Living" or "Retirement Communities" or "Senior Centers".  These are wonderful and practical answers to the needs we have as our bodies make those early indications that Heaven is just ahead.  But there is something about that phrase: "Assisted Living"...  It occurred to me that I need assisted living every day, regardless of how the body is functioning.  I need assistance with decisions, assistance with healing when sick, assistance in relating properly to my wife, friends and total strangers.  I don't it's possible for me to really live even close to the way I was intended to live without help...specifically the help of the God who has moved into my life.  Without Him, I wouldn't even be alive in any respect...and certainly wouldn't experience the abundant life that flows from His deep spring.  I am pleased to live forever in this Assisted Living community.  The joy comes from the awareness of that assistance.

John 14:15 "If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

grace falls

Grace falls each day in quiet ways
He sends it from above.

His interest in us constant stays
And pours abundant love.

So used are we to know such peace
That we do fail to see

Our every breath, our every step
Grace falls on you and me.

He fashioned us to know His grace...
His touch, His care, His hand

Grace falls like rain or beams of sun
like day and night fall too,

It overflows as water falls
His love for me and you.

Philippians 4:23 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

rain today

Rain comes as I wake up this day
I did not plan this happening

From some distant place the order came
To water all that lives this spring

Not up to me to tend these things
So many trees, flowers, plants and crops

If people chose when it would rain
They'd polarize over "on's" and "off's"

There is One above who looks around
and sends the sun and soaks the ground

We think that we do run the show!
But rain came today...sent by...

Oh, You know!!

Job 38:34  
"Can you shout to the clouds
   and make it rain? 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

"the procedure"

As you get older you often find that there are certain medical "procedures" that come across your path.  One of the less enjoyable ones is the colonoscopy where you get to drink far more liquid than you can contain to flush your digestive tract so they can take pictures of the whole system.  But there are many other procedures.  I had laser surgery done on one eye and no longer need glasses!  Now that's a procedure to warm up to.  I have friends who have had procedures done to treat spots of skin that could be pre-cancerous and I have a good friend who is now recovering from a complex cancer removal process that left him in ICU for over three months!   Others have radical procedures to lose weight or change a nose.  But there is another "procedure" that we each must have at some point in our lives if we are to modify this temporary body into an eternal form.  Back in the Old Testament Jewish males were circumcised as the procedure that marked their alignment with God.  On this side of the Cross we must go through a circumcision just as real, but performed on our invisible spiritual hearts (works for men and women) by the great physician.  Like many of the procedures we face that are physical we don't generally come to spiritual circumcision easily, or willingly at first.  We don't like the idea of giving up any part of our flesh or nature...we've become so attached to.  But at a certain point we hear the voice of Dr. Jesus tell us that this pain will be temporary and replaced with a joy that cannot be appreciated before the procedure.  And we allow Him access to our innermost part...and He completes the procedure.  (Hope to see you 'post-op')

Colossians 2:11 When you came to Christ, you were "circumcised," but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature.


Monday, May 7, 2012

follow through

So I was thinking about how to be a parent now that my children are grown and married, and having children of their own...In a sense our job is done.  The kids are gone and have established lives of their own, marriages, homes, careers, and above all rooted in faith to the Lord Jesus.  But what is our family role?  Of course I have discovered that being a grandparent is just the get to be a kid again and grandkids like nothing better than for you to enter their world.  But is there more to it than the enjoyment of the next generations?  It occurred to me that an apt analogy might be what is called in sports "follow through".  Whether you are throwing a ball, swinging a racket or club it is important to complete the follow through of your arm motion, leg motion and body movement even after the ball has left your hand or the racket or club has struck the ball.  If you don't "follow through" correctly and complete the motion the ball will not fly true to its target.  Proper follow through suggests that the correct technique has been used even before the impact and yet it is important to complete the motion and let it run full course.  In our marriages we need to continue the examples of unconditional love, kindness and service that were so important in shaping our children.  The backdrop of that example reinforces the melody and harmony of the homes of our children.  So the game isn't over for us when the kids are gone.  Now we must complete the follow through to run the full extent of the motion.

2 Timothy 1:when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also. Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.

Sunday, May 6, 2012


The Facebook phenomenon is gets into your blood.  There is something about connecting with family and friends and having them connect with you that is addictively satisfying.  Words and pictures that capture everything from the trivial but humorous to the tragically serious are shared in real time and the network of interrelated people react and respond and relate.  It has expanded the meaning of community and neighborhoods and family through technology on a global basis.  

This morning I was thinking about our connection with the Lord.  My best times of connection are something like the desire I have to check out the latest info from my children on Facebook.  I want to feel and see what they are doing and going through and have a sense of how they are doing.  I want to share something of their lives and identify with their joys and line up with them in trials.   I want to see the picture and comment with a thought or expression that ties us close.  

I hope to long for the Lord like I long for this connection with earthly loved ones.  For He is the head of my family...the maker of my life and the one who has bought me and brought me back from going astray.  I want to share my pictures with Him and lift up my problems and hopes...and I want to hear His words in real we march in step with eternity.   This is the Faithbook experience.

Colossians 2: 2 I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God's mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

filled, not added

What would we add to God's molded form?
Yes, what could still lack from the shape he has poured?
Life in itself is a package complete...
Our bodies amazing, our minds intricate...

We sense something missing so we add, add and add
As we try to improve on His master plan.

We add achievements, ambitions, awards...
Then we add weight and then take it off...

We borrow great sums to add things not owned...
Adding debt weight and burdens from loans.

We join a club and add more relations,
With others who add to their associations.

But what can we add to add worth to our lives? nothing adds life.

For Christ is our life and He isn't added.

He fills us we bow before Him!

Acts 2:28 You have shown me the way of life,
    and you will fill me with the joy of your presence. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Direct contact

There is no reason to go down to the pond in the reason to get something done or any chore to complete.  There is no certainty or knowledge of what will be found there.  I hadn't been down to the pond in some time but I went this morning.  Two words had been running through my mind for the past week: "direct contact".  I have been thinking about the "direct contact" that we can have with God....the kind of contact that doesn't require any other person, any other actions, or any in between steps.  Direct contact with God has been made possible because I have been "bought back" by Jesus and brought back by His outstretched Spirit.  Now it is possible for my thoughts to run alongside His thoughts and my heart to be caressed by His touch...directly.  The pond is one place where I can go...not for my reasons or purposes...but to experience that touch from Him.  And we have direct contact with Him when we read His Word with an openness to hear Him and when we respond in sincere action and with honest speech to Him.  

Direct contact...I think this is what it really is all about.

Matthew 17:Then Jesus came over and touched them. "Get up," he said."Don't be afraid."