Wednesday, February 28, 2007

look over the horizon

We actually see the sun before it breaks the horizon in the morning.  The rays are bent up by the atmosphere (called refraction)
So sunrise is actually an optical illusion.  We see the sun before it's really there.  When we read the Bible, as we pray, and as we walk with the Lord, He gives us an "over the horizon" view called "faith" that gives our hearts assurance, before the outcomes and answers actually break the horizon.   
Let's look "over the horizon" with eyes of faith!
Romans 10:8 But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart," that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9 That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.  3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
Rob Smith

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Cup half full or half empty

These days it's common to characterize people as optimists by saying their cup is "half full" and pessimists by saying their cup is "half empty".  I guess, in weather terms, it would be the difference between "partly sunny" or "partly cloudy".  We know that we live in a fallen world, where the presence and the consequences of sin are glaringly apparent.  We may have cell phones, wireless internet, and hybrid cars but we also have a huge divorce problem, unborn babies who are treated as an inconvenience rather than a life, and greed that shows up from Main Stree to Wall Street.  Isn't it wonderful that there is a spiritual avenue we can walk down that doesn't find its ultimate satisfaction in technology or modern advances and that doesn't rely on the innate goodness of man?  When the focus of our heart and mind is the Lord, we find freedom from shallow satisfaction and deliverance from sin.  We discover a path where our cup is neither half full, nor half empty.  We find that our cup runneth over.
Psalm 23
 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 


Rob Smith

Monday, February 26, 2007

Fly with purpose

Recently I've seen quite a few flocks of birds migrating north, as they anticipate spring.  They may have run into some severe weather up north, but I'm confident they'll continue until they reach their summer homes.  The geese are fun to watch, with their characteristic flight "V" and raucous honking.  But I am especially impressed with the hummingbird.  These tiny creatures leave southern Mexico in January of each year and migrate across the Gulf of Mexico, past the Florida Keys and up as far as Canada by May.  The return trip starts in August.  Young ones are hatched during the summer and studies have shown that they tend to return to the place they were first hatched each year.  Before crossing the Gulf of Mexico they "bulk up" to make sure they have enough stored energy to make non-stop flights of up to 500 miles over about 20 hours (25 mph...not bad).  They almost double their weight in fat to take on fuel for the trip (from 3.25 grams to 6 grams(about 1/4 of an ounce top weight) to make the trip possible.  All of this just challenges me (not to double my weight, but...) to want to fly with purpose.  If something that small can navigate that accurately, cover that much ground annually and do it for years then I have a strong feeling that the Lord can equip us for great challenges, as well.
Genesis 1:20 Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.”
Rob Smith

Saturday, February 24, 2007

a tree that sings

Ours was the first house in our neighborhood, 22 years ago.  At that time the field in front of our home was still farmed.  Soon the farm was cleared, a road was cut through the field and many houses were built around us.  It has taken years for shrubs and trees planted by the new homeowners to gain maturity.  Recently I noticed that our neighborhood has taken on a mature look and some yards almost look overgrown.  When I go for walks in the morning, one particular evergreen tree captures my attention.  It is very tall and thickly branched and planted in a row of similar trees that provide privacy for one home.  This particular tree has a family of birds living somewhere within and as I pass they are chirping merrily (though I can't see them).  The thought occurred to me:  The owner wanted privacy, but God wanted to make a tree that sings.
I love how the Lord has built such harmony into his handiwork.
Psalm 104:12  By them the birds of the heavens have their home;  They sing among the branches.


Rob Smith

this day

Imagine that this were the last day of your life on planet earth. How would you want to spend it? Let's say you are not leaving for health reasons but you just know that you'll be checking out before the day is over. You'd probably spend the day saying goodbye to friends and family and getting things in order for your heirs. At the end of the day the Lord tells you, "Now that you have gotten all the goodbyes out of the way I'm giving you one more day to do whatever you want." Now how would you spend that day?

Suppose we could imagine every day an adventure with unknown opportunity and great potential for excitement. Rather than being sure of what was around every corner and what we'll be doing tomorrow, rather than seeing our life as five workdays and a weekend, rather than seeing our life as thirty years and then a retirement, rather than regretting the past and fearing the future.....suppose we could revel in today. Suppose we could know our Maker, could talk with Him and hear from Him. Imagine that He has people for us to meet today and things to do for Him. What if He wanted to come inside and quiet our hearts and bring peace and insight to our minds. How would it be if the uncertainty of all the unknown future days were replaced by hope, because we have come to know Him here and

Deuteronomy 4:40 You shall therefore keep His statutes and His commandments which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which the LORD your God is giving you for all time.”


Rob Smith

Vapor trails for God

This morning, as I walked under a gorgeous new sky, I could see that many people were up long before I and were flying various places, north and south.  I could see the vapor trails of the jets they were aboard, as they were tracing a path way up there.  The planes, themselves, were barely visible.  The jets looked no larger than pin heads and I don't think I'd have spotted them if it weren't for the trails of condensed exhaust gases stretching out miles behind.  I thought of us as individuals, tracing our lives across our days, headed for many destinations.  You might say that our lives are most visible for the effect we have on our world and our involvement in the lives of others.  In a sense, we leave a vapor trail as the product of our hearts and minds, as we live.  Those "vapor trails" from our lives can stretch past us for quite a distance...perhaps even across generations!
Jeremiah 32:19 You are great in counsel and mighty in work, for Your eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men, to give everyone according to his ways and according to the fruit of his doings.
Rob Smith


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

facing God

I've noticed that when I sit in church, facing the choir, cross and pastor I feel like an anonymous face lost in a crowd of people.  When I sit in the choir and look out I see individual faces that make up the large group.  I think we have this mind set about God that, as we walk through our days, we're just one more person in the crowd.  Even though we're aware of the Lord, we may not sense the personal connection.  But I believe that as God looks at the large crowd He sees the individual faces and, just as a good speaker will seek to make eye contact with individuals in the audience, so the Lord longs to connect with us on a personal basis.  In that way we can know HIm, face to face.
Genesis 32:30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”
Rob Smith

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Come, skip with me

I have distinct memories of watching my daughter, Bethany, skipping and prancing and hopping whenever we were out as a family (she was a bit younger!). She wasn't content to simply walk. Her heart was too merry, too full of joy (mixed with a little mischief) to be expressed or contained by standing still or walking in a straight line. What is it about children that happiness and joy is often their normal state of mind? What is it about us as adults that we've lost that and replaced it with a lot of sitting, standing and walking, with minds that contain fear or, worse yet, the numbness of routine (of course our creaking joints might limit our mobility as well). Now, all of our exercise has to have a "purpose". We're walking somewhere because we have to get there for "important" reasons. We exercise so many hours a week because of our health. What ever happened to skipping, prancing and hopping? And whatever happened to hearts that are merry and bubbling over with joy?

Remember, we're still children to our heavenly father...and always will be. Let's strip off the rust of years of adult living from our hearts. Let's anticipate the spring coming, even before it arrives, with fresh minds that are filled with joy. If we can't skip and prance with our bodies, let's do it in our minds, our smiles, our hands and our hearts. Why should kids have all the fun? Let's dance!

Jeremiah 31:12-13
Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion,
to the goodness of the LORD—
For wheat and new wine and oil,
For the young of the flock and the herd;
Their souls shall be like a well-watered garden,
And they shall sorrow no more at all.
“ Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance,
And the young men and the old, together;
For I will turn their mourning to joy,
Will comfort them, And make them rejoice rather than sorrow.


Rob Smith

Monday, February 19, 2007

Learning to eat salad

I'm at the age where I'm supposed to eat more salad. With every rational element of my brain I know that eating more salad is the right thing to do. I need the antioxidants and vitamins in the little tomatoes and broccoli and I need to feel like I'm full without actually filling up on a lot of carbohydrates and fats. A few weeks ago I resolved to eat salad at lunch instead of a sandwich or hamburger. I actually did eat salad for a few days. But something happens when I pull into the drive-through at Wendy's and I approach the big sign where you have to come to a decision. I'm not sure if it's a case of multiple personalities, hearing other voices, or demons sitting on my shoulder and bringing the flavor of a juicy burger into my brain.....but, most of the time I cave in and get the hamburger. Isn't it strange that we can know what we should do and yet find it so hard to actually do it! I think it has everything to do with the dark side of my nature. Sometimes it feels the same way when I think about reading the Bible (when I could do almost anything else, like watch sports). The thing is, that I know from experience if I can hang in there long enough and choose the salad for something like a full week my tastes and preferences will change and I won't face the battle of the big sign at Wendy's. I think our taste for the Lord can be cultivated in a similar way. If I'll just give Him a chance...choose Him to listen to and talk to when I can choose other activites, I'll want to be with Him whenever I can.

John 6:35,36 Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.

John 6:68,69 Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."

Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”


Rob Smith

Keep the cross in your chapel

Those of us in the Williamsburg area are very familiar with a current controversy. The President of William and Mary decided to remove the cross from the Wren Chapel at the college, to create a sense of tolerance and welcome for those of other religious and philosophical persuasions. This ignited a firestorm of reaction from alumni and friends of the college, who insist that the cross be replaced. Recently it caused me to reflect on how vigilantly we guard the cross in our heart. As people who have invited the Lord Jesus to come into the chapel of our heart, I wonder if we don't try to take Him out when we fail to make time to listen to Him, to worship Him, to obey Him. Worse yet, we may take Him out of our chapel when we adopt, without question, the values of the world and display very little contrast to those who are without Christ.

Returning the cross to Wren Chapel has merit, but returning the cross of Christ to our own chapel is critical!

Luke 9:23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.


Rob Smith

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Lord's bouquet

We walk this land for a few years and then we depart for eternity. Much of this life doesn't seem to make sense. As I was reading in Ecclesiastes this morning,
1:2 “ Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher;
“ Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”
3 What profit has a man from all his labor
In which he toils under the sun?
4 One generation passes away, and another generation comes;
But the earth abides forever.

I thought about the many difficulties we have here, the many frustrations, the many unknowns about the future. The writer of Ecclesiastes sees emptiness and futility in much what we call daily living. We don't have the whole picture yet. Well, here's an idea for you. What if we have been planted on this soil to grow like a plant before the Lord? What if, along the way, we face the same challenges of drought and flood, attack by disease and natural enemy? But ultimately, as a flowering plant, we may perfume the air and we may blossom with arresting beauty. And one day, the Lord in love, may just have to cut us at the stem and take us to adorn His table as we become the Lord's eternal bouquet.

Let's abide in His soil and let's have confidence that we will bloom. And let's allow ourselves the wonder of surprise as we see color and beauty that we could never have imagined, emerge from our own lives...even here.

1 Kings 6:35 And he carved thereon cherubims and palm trees and open flowers: and covered them with gold fitted upon the carved work.


Rob Smith

by the way, I don't want to impose or load you up with emails and am happy to take your name off the email list, if you'd like...just let me know

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A vessel for the Lord

Years ago I was in the Navy. I crossed the Atlantic and spent half a year in various ports around the Mediterranean. Our mission at sea was to protect the large aircraft carriers we steamed with from possible submarine attack. When we were in port we had a chance to see several very different cultures, ranging from relatively primitive and ancient Turkey to Italy, Spain, Germany, France and even Norway. We met many different kinds of people, speaking different languages and exhibiting distinctly different cultures, food, cars, and appearances. I suppose our mission in port was to avoid tarnishing the image of the U.S. Navy when we went out in public. A ship is also known as a "vessel". Vessels can be important for the cargo they carry and for the mission they are charged with. Another kind of vessel is a blood vessel, like a vein or artery. It is important because through those vessels flow the nutrients our bodies need for life. It occurred to me that we represent both kinds of vessel. As lovers of Jesus, we carry His spirit and presence wherever we go and our mission is to reach all kinds of people with the Good News of salvation and new life in Christ. Like blood vessels for Christ, we are a means by which He can pour new life through us, to restore and give health to us and to those all around. In a way, we become "life-bearers" to others.

Isaiah 66:20 And they will bring all your brothers, from all the nations, to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the LORD -on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels," says the LORD. "They will bring them, as the Israelites bring their grain offerings, to the temple of the LORD in ceremonially clean vessels.


Rob Smith

It doesn't get any better here!

Choir practice is always a great time. The nature of practice calls for repetition and, our Chapel Choir is repeating marvelous praises and songs of adoration and awe of our Lord. Almost without realizing it we are being immersed in the presence of our heavenly Father and Son. Our hearts are drawn together and we're becoming ever closer and more caring as a group. Towards the end of practice tonight it occurred to me that life just doesn't get better here on planet earth than it is when we are in the family of God. What could I possibly add to the equation that would add to the value of life, when Jesus has come in and made His home within? Yet, there is something in our nature that tends to be out of rest, a part of our heart that thinks I need something more to be complete. There is this idea that we harbor that someday we'll turn a corner, enter a new phase, reach a higher plateau, put the problems behind...that somehow we're missing out and we need something more. As we reflect on this, though, we know that there is absolutely nothing more to add to our lives. I think we need to resist this thought that we are incomplete.
Colossians 2, verse 8-10: "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power."

If there are experiences, things, relationships or anything I need to really be complete, I can count on the One who is the "head of all principality and power" to weave them into my life.


Rob Smith

Be a vessel

Years ago I was in the Navy.  I crossed the Atlantic and spent half a year in various ports around the Mediterranean.  Our mission at sea was to protect the large aircraft carriers we steamed with from possible submarine attack.  When we were in port we had a chance to see several very different cultures, ranging from relatively primitive and ancient Turkey to Italy, Spain, Germany, France and even Norway.  We met many different kinds of people, speaking different languages and exhibiting distinctly different cultures, food, cars, and appearances.  I suppose our mission in port was to avoid tarnishing the image of the U.S. Navy when we went out in public.  A ship is also known as a "vessel".  Vessels can be important for the cargo they carry and for the mission they are charged with.  Another kind of vessel is a blood vessel, like a vein or artery.  It is important because through those vessels flow the nutrients our bodies need for life.  It occurred to me that we represent both kinds of vessel.  As lovers of Jesus, we carry His spirit and presence wherever we go and our mission is to reach all kinds of people with the Good News of salvation and new life in Christ.  Like blood vessels for Christ, we are a means by which He can pour new life through us, to restore and give health to us and to those all around.  In a way, we become "life-bearers" to others.
Isaiah 66:20 And they will bring all your brothers, from all the nations, to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the LORD -on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels," says the LORD. "They will bring them, as the Israelites bring their grain offerings, to the temple of the LORD in ceremonially clean vessels.
Rob Smith

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Signs of battle

My friend Bubba Farino is dead. We worshiped together years ago and Bubba built our house. He and his wife, Patty, lived in our neighborhood for a while and they had 5 children. Bubba was the most gifted evangelist I have ever known, personally. At his memorial service, yesterday, his oldest son shared that Bubba had sought to lead at least one person to Christ for salvation every day for a year....and, by the grace of God, he did! When they were out, as a family, he would routinely embarrass the kids by asking the waitress if she knew where she'd be if she died that day. His children would sometimes awaken early to hear their father worshipping the Lord in song and they studied, prayed and praised the Lord frequently as a family. Unfortunately, Bubba had a lifelong battle with addiction. This battle he ultimately lost and it cost him his marriage and daily contact with the family he loved so dearly. In recent years I would wonder at his life because of the amazing contrast of spiritual strength and human weakness. As I walked this morning I realized that his life was a clear reflection of the war that surrounds all of us. The war rages over the souls of every person. Bubba was like a highly skilled marine or ranger in that war. He was responsible for hundreds being saved, here and abroad on many travels. But, as someone shared yesterday in a private moment, the enemy targeted him with a fierce attack. I believe that is why Bubba has gone on now to be with the Jesus he loved so much. He was a casualty of war, after fighting with great passion and intensity for victory. I hope each of you has put your trust in Jesus. Bubba would want you to know that He is the only way to eternal life.

Joshua 14:11 I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I'm just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. 12 Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day.

My love to you, Bubba


Rob Smith

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The finger of God

I was thinking this morning about how you can recognize an architect by the homes and buildings he designs. Frank Lloyd Wright was famous for his designs that complemented natural surroundings and that reflected organic shapes. The designs of God are all around (and within) us and we can recognize Him in the designs. One example is the tree. No man can claim a patent or take credit for a tree. They are designed for long life and they have the ability to reproduce. They are flexible, to withstand severe storms, and yet their substance is tough and can be used to build homes. They shield a tender inner core with a rough exterior. When they mature they often bear fruit to feed other creatures. As long as they have a source of water, light and adequate minerals they will continue to grow. They are attacked by diseases but they are equipped to defend and heal from them. Often they function to provide shelter to other creatures. Even in death their purpose endures as their wood lives on in furniture, paper, buildings and boats. But, perhaps the greatest quality of all almost eluded me. Every tree has a trunk that grows vertically and points to heaven. Every tree is a finger of God, pointing home to the father and reminding us to look up to Him.

Genesis 2:9 And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.


Rob Smith

Monday, February 12, 2007

Power of truth

How much we need the truth. My wife Shirley likes to watch Judge Judy on TV in the evening. Judge Judy listens to cases where one person is suing another for not paying rent or not paying for damage to a car or inappropriately using a credit card...important stuff like that. The amazing thing is that Judge Judy has so much courtroom experience that she can tell the truth about what really happened no matter what stories are told or evidence is shown. She can just read people really well. The need for truth and the power of truth runs very deep. You can tell when Judge Judy makes her final judgement, that she usually gets it right because the guilty part doesn't often protest. I thought about the power of truth in our lives to cleanse, to heal and to set free. Jesus said He was the way, truth and life. We live in a fallen world where deception, manipulation and temptation lie around every corner. Isn't it good that we can come to the one who is reliable and true. My grandfather was a brick mason. I still have the steel square he used to make sure that the corners he worked were true right angles. I think of him when I use it today because it still measures a true right angle. Truth endures.

Psalm 25:5 guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.


Rob Smith

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The best things are unseen

During church this morning it hit me that the best things are unseen. As much as it would be great to see the Lord face to face, He has chosen to reveal Himself spiritually rather than visually. That doesn't make Him any less real...just because we don't see Him. Then I realized that all the really good things are unseen: the love I share with my family, thoughts of heaven and of the Lord, reflecting on the beauty of creation, grasping spiritual truth from the Bible, faith in the saving work of Christ. I guess part of the reason they are invisible is so they are available at any time, with no limit. The Lord seems to want the hidden, deepest, part of our life to come after Him when there is no fanfare, bands playing, or obvious demonstration of His presence. I think this is what is meant by John 4:23 "Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." He may be invisible but He is always accessible and He is seeking people who want to share the kind of relationship where it's enough to feel His presence, see His handiwork, share our burdens and sing His praises.

I see that this kind of relationship is really the most free and unbounded one possible.

1 Timothy 1:17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.


Rob Smith

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Mind and Heart

I was thinking about what really separates us from animals. Sometimes I'm not sure who really is superior. They don't have to buy clothes or gasoline. They don't worry about mortgage payments or the consequences of watching too much TV. No worries about taxes for them and I don't think the high cost of a college education is causing them to fall out of the nest at night (or sleepwalk during the day, if you're a raccoon). But I thought about "mind and heart". I know that animals have some heart...just watch one of the movies about sled dogs laying down their lives for their owners (and who could forget Lassie)! But there is a heart in man that is a pipeline. At one end of the pipeline, God is waiting. At our end of the pipeline we get to choose if we'll let Him pour whatever He has for us through the pipe, or whether we'll direct the pipe somewhere else to get filled. Somehow I don't think other creatures have this kind of opportunity. On the other hand, our mind is more like a computer. It takes information in, processes it and decides one of three things (1) act on it, (2) store it for later, or (3) forget about it. No question about it, the Lord gave us wonderful minds. (Animals got minds too) Our mind is a marvelous tool to help us navigate through our daily life, but it really only reaches its potential when the pipeline of the heart is open to the Lord. That's because whatever we put in the heart provides instructions to the mind about what information to process. So, I guess it's not just a mind that's a terrible thing to waste. Let's start with the heart and direct it to the Lord. Let's let Him pour all the blessing, ideas, help (and even trials sometimes) that He wants to...that way we'll keep our minds running like a computer without spam or "pop-ups".

1 Samuel 14:6 Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, "Come, let's go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised fellows. Perhaps the LORD will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few."

7 "Do all that you have in mind," his armor-bearer said. "Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul."


Rob Smith

Friday, February 9, 2007

The sky's not the limit

Sometimes we feel frustrated and "boxed in".  It's not hard to be aware of all the things that "limit" us here: the extent of our education, the quality of our upbringing, the nature of our work, our own personal failings.  We wonder sometimes if life is ever going to "come together".  I think it's good to remember that the Lord, himself, planted each one of us here.  He picked this specific time in history and this particular place geographically.  He gave us the unique set of folks who raised us and He brought us through a unique training program to shape our character.  He has given each of us a one-of-a-kind life because he has a one-of-a-kind role for each of us to play on this earthly stage.  Instead of feeling limited, maybe we should feel that we are special agents, fitted for heaven-created assignments that we can best carry out.  When it comes to our purpose, we find it in heaven, and even the sky is not the limit for us.
2 Thessalonians 1:11 With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.


Thursday, February 8, 2007

Never measure wealth in dollars

Recently I saw a western made-for-TV movie with Robert Duvall called "Broken Trail".  At one point Duvall says to his young cowboy protege, "Never measure wealth in dollars."  In our country we don't just measure wealth in dollars, we use dollars as the yardstick for overall health and wellbeing.  Sometimes it seems our whole life revolves around making dollars, borrowing dollars, wishing we had more dollars.  We tend to evaluate our worth in dollars when we know we shouldn't.  A career that produces lots of dollars is seen superior to one that makes less.  Infomercials on TV tout the possibilities of mysteriously making thousands of dollars working from home (doing who knows what).  But these dollars are all nothing more than a mirage, because as you approach them they don't provide the satisfaction anticipated.  As we give ourselves to dollars, we miss the real treasures of enjoying relationships, appreciating the Lord's creation, and contentment with life.  Isn't it good to have it resolved that our worth was measured for us by one great life stretched out on a heavy, splintered cross nearly 2,000 years ago?  We know that dollars are one way that the Lord provides for us, but that the purpose of being provided for is to know Him and to live for Him!  I know that what Robert Duvall meant in that movie was that true wealth is measured in character.  Here's one of my favorite verses about money:
Matt 17:27 "But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours."
Rob Smith

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

He's calling you!

As you go through the day and as one day plays into another, do you have a sense of personal adventure?  I think we settle for the comfort of routine when life offers a unique road map for each one of us.  It is not an accident that we are each "one of a kind".  When Samuel (Old Testament) was a boy in the house of Eli he had to learn to recognize the voice of the Lord when He called.  Eli instructed Samuel to lie down and listen for the Lord.  1 Samuel 3 tells us in verse 10: "Then the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, 'Samuel! Samuel!'  And Samuel said, 'Speak, for your servant is listening.'  I believe that, too often, we believe that God is only calling others: perhaps those we perceive as great or well known.  We must not miss the special adventures of life that God has for each one of us.  He is reaching out to a world that must be renewed with every generation and every person is reached individually.  He uses everyday people to reach other everyday people.  Each of us has a circle of influence among our family, friends and neighbors and strategic heavenly opportunities to reflect the Lord to that circle.  Your personality and gifts are just the key to unlock the heart of others to recognize the Lord. (and hear His call for themselves!)
Let's listen for the Lord's call to us, personally, and let's live the adventure!
2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
Rob Smith

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Diamonds in the grass

This morning is extremely cold.  I put several layers of clothing on before heading out on a walk.  I wondered what the Lord might show me in such frigid conditions.  Still the sky was clear and the early dawn horizon glowed orange with the coming sun.  As I headed out a familiar country road I spotted hundreds of sparkling jewels nestled in the grass by the roadside.  As brilliant as any diamond and probably larger than the one I gave my wife years ago they were as attractive as any jeweler's showcase.  But then I realized that they were far more precious than diamonds.  Their great beauty was fleeting as they were created by intense cold, only visible under the moonlight and doomed to destruction by the soon-arriving sun.  Of course they were ice crystals.  I thanked the Lord for showering me with jewels of such rare beauty.  It takes centuries to make a real diamond and that's a wonder but an equal wonder are the diamonds He creates for our pleasure each day!
Job 37:10 The breath of God produces ice, and the broad waters become frozen.
Rob Smith

Monday, February 5, 2007

An invisible God for an unseen future

I think many anxieties and fears come from the unknown.  One of the greatest "unknowns" is the future.  We just don't know what's going to, tomorrow, in ten years (or even 5 minutes from now).  If we're young we don't know who we'll meet and marry.  We don't know what career to pick, or how we'll do.  Later, when we're working we don't know what kind of boss we'll have and we don't know what troubles might leap on us on the job.  We don't know if we're going to get really sick and, if we're sick, we don't know when we'll get well.  If we have a family we add a bunch more unknown futures to our worry list.  Isn't it great to trust in the invisible God who sees the future...not just sees, but owns the future!  We may not know the details, but we know the one who does and, better yet, we know that He cares for us and formed us for His pleasure.  It's comforting to rest, now, this moment... in Him because He has already designed the future and will lead us into it, and walk with us through it.
Proverbs 27:1   Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.
James 4:14     Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
Jeremiah 29:11   For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Rob Smith

Sunday, February 4, 2007

What think ye?

Of all the freedoms we enjoy, one of the greatest is to choose what we will think about.  When we consider how many things we can really control, perhaps the only thing we really control is what we think about.  We don't control the weather, how long we'll live, how prosperous we'll be, or other peoples' driving habits.  We had nothing to do with our birth, our selection of parents, and the color of our eyes.  But we can decide how we will direct our thoughts.  There is an old expression that "You are what you eat".  It may be truer to say: "You are what you think about".  David had a close thought-life with the Lord.  In Psalm 63:6 he said  "On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night."  One thing we know: the Lord has many thoughts for us! 
Psalm 139:2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
                   you perceive my thoughts from afar.
              17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
                  How vast is the sum of them!  
              18 Were I to count them,
                  they would outnumber the grains of sand.
                 When I awake, I am still with you.
How remarkable that He would share His thoughts with us!
Amos 4:13 He who forms the mountains,
                creates the wind,
                and reveals his thoughts to man,
                he who turns dawn to darkness,
                and treads the high places of the earth— 
                the LORD God Almighty is his name.
Let's set our thoughts on Him !
Rob Smith

Saturday, February 3, 2007

The heavenly news

What if Heaven were to produce a daily newspaper?  It's interesting to think of the issues that would generate headlines up there.  Our earthly newspapers focus on natural events that are controversial, tragic, and shocking or that report major events between nations, sects, and politicians.  We might consider how the events of men might generate news of interest to angels and our heavenly father.  Rather than the actual tragedies, conflicts and political happenings (which probably don't surprise or astound residents of heaven) I suspect there is great interest about the human response to these difficulties.  Headlines in Heaven might read: "Thousands Turn Hearts to God" after a 9/11 disaster, or "Teenager Shares Faith With Bully".  The Sports Page would say "Many Run with Perseverance".
When a wonderful saint who has led a "quiet" life simply raising her children in Christian love, caring for neighbors (both friendly and unfriendly) and walking in love with Jesus faces the end of life I imagine the front page would have a banner that reads: "Joyful Homecoming Imminent!"  The article would provide a few highlights of final preparations being made to her heavenly home and how angels were getting the trumpeters ready for the "Well Done" parade.
Some news never becomes stale, even on the eternal news beat.
1 Peter 1:12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.
Luke 15:7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
Rob Smith

Friday, February 2, 2007

Water and the Lord

This morning there are all puddles of water all around and water continues to drip from the sky.  I was thinking about water as I walked.  In many ways this wonderful substance reminds us of the Lord.  It exists in three states (liquid, solid, gas), yet is one chemical structure.  It cleanses us from dirt.  What could represent the purity of sins forgiven better than snow?  It satisfies our thirst.  Some scientists believe that water regulates the functions of the body (did you know that it comprises 85% of our brains and 75% of our bodies!).  It supports us when we travel across oceans, rivers and lakes.  Sometimes it's presence is felt directly, like this morning, when we walk and drive through rain and other times it's presence is less obvious, when the rain and puddles evaporate.  Nonetheless it is still present in the air.  Just think, some of the rain falling this morning may be the very same water that fell, centuries ago, on Abraham, David, and Jesus. 
Just as the Lord is in us, with us, and for us so He has made water a marvelous servant to capture many of His qualities.
Psalm 105:41 He opened the rock, and water gushed out;
                     It ran in the dry places like a river.
Rob Smith

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Light means color

I slept in today, but the past two days I had a chance to watch the night turn to day, as the dawn came.  I noticed that as the sun approaches, light gradually creeps up and transforms night to day in a more subtle way than I ever realized before.  I saw the black night sky above me become a deep blue, while on the horizon an orange glow heralded the sun's arrival.  The realization came that with light also comes color.  The black void of night breaks into a festival as light from the sun brings to life all the greens, yellows, reds (not to mention the mauves and chartreuses).  When the light of the Lord comes to our lives, He doesn't just chase darkness away, He brings joy, purpose, freedom, and life takes on color.
Genesis 1:4 God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness.
Rob Smith