Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Consider counsel

This past week one of the titans of Wall Street, Merrill Lynch, essentially fired its Chief Executive after he took responsibility for losing about 8 billion dollars in risky mortgage loans.  Looking back I'm sure he regrets the decision to pursue this risky strategy.  Here is a quote from an article (Wall Street Journal) that describes how he approached decision making:

Some former colleagues say Mr. O'Neal's talent and steely drive came with a tragic flaw: He didn't much engage in debate, kept his own counsel and had little use for the kind of strong-willed subordinates who might have helped him steer clear of the subprime troubles that brought him down. In the early years of his tenure, which began in 2002, Mr. O'Neal purged the firm of many of its longtime senior employees and later fired some of those considered his allies.

"He was uncomfortable around independent people [with] views which might be different than his, and whose loyalty was to the firm rather than to him personally,"

The phrase "kept his own counsel" may sum it up.  Mr. O'Neal may have made a conspicuous and massive financial error in judgment, but are we much different when we fail to seek counsel from others in the course of major decisions.  When our fortune or well being is directly impacted by our actions and decisions it can be difficult to be logical, rational or wise.  I suppose that's why scripture tells us:

Job 15:8 Have you heard the counsel of God?
      Do you limit wisdom to yourself?

Psalm 81:12 So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart,
         To walk in their own counsels. 

Proverbs 15:22 Without counsel, plans go awry,
      But in the multitude of counselors they are established.


Rob Smith

Sunday, October 28, 2007

don't stake claim on the future

We have no claim on the future, when it comes to this earthly life.  Sure we have hopes and goals and plans.  The problem with the future, though, is that we tend to start living it before it shows up...and it has a way of showing up differently than we expect.  On the other hand, sometimes we drag the past into our lives, as if we can still live there.  Somehow we need to plan for a future that may well unfold and draw from the lessons of our past while savoring every moment as it occurs.  I think of the scripture that tells us that God is a very present help in time of need.
Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength,
         A very present help in trouble.
As the clock ticks through the day today, remember that God delights in meeting us at the only place where past and future meet: the present.
Rob Smith

Saturday, October 27, 2007


As I walked this morning I was appreciating the concept that I was getting physical exercise (much needed since I sit a lot at work) as well as spiritual exercise in prayer and reflection.  I realized that we hear and see a great deal about physical exercise these days (although often we hear more about things you can buy to help you exercise).  It's great that there is a strong undercurrent in the culture that emphasizes physical fitness and the enjoyment of life even as we age.  But there truly is another kind of exercise that increases the our heart and lung capacity and boosts our strength in the spiritual realm.  The exercise program looks something like:
prayer lifting: Taking time to lift others up before the Lord builds selflessness, compassion and leads to spiritual victories for yourself and others.
values lay-ups: Laying up treasures in heaven by valuing the spiritual and physical needs of others (these are harder than basketball lay-ups).
perseverance running: Keep bringing your focus back to the Lord and His purposes when all the world tries to pry you away...tougher than any marathon!
burden casting: Practice throwing your cares to the Lord.  First you have to be willing to let go and then you have to work on your aim (don't worry, if you throw in His direction, He'll catch every one).
burden bearing: O.K. so you've cast your burdens to the Lord.  Now you get to help Him out by bearing the burdens of others.  Great for improving your self-image!
Anyhow, you get the idea.  Remember, spiritual exercise counts for eternity (now that's what I call a marathon)!
1 Timothy 4:8 For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.
blessings (all together now...lift those cares and throw them to Jesus),
Rob Smith

Friday, October 26, 2007

prepare and consider

His wife said she had packed papers they knew they would need, but that was it. "If you even think that something's going to happen, you should prepare, and consider all the things that are most meaningful to you. Because once they're gone, you can never get them back," she said tearfully.
I spotted the quote above from an article about one of the families that fled the California fires this week.  I was intrigued by the phrase "you should prepare, and consider all the things that are most meaningful to you".  The idea I got was that we should realize how temporary even the most precious possessions are.  The very things that make certain items endearing create great pain when they are taken away.  We don't schedule disasters and there isn't any tangible item that can't be taken away at a totally unexpected time.  That's why it's critically important to know that most precious possessions of all can never be taken from us, nor us from them.  Jesus told us that nothing could separate us from Him.
Romans 8:35-38 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written: 
      “ For Your sake we are killed all day long;
       We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”[c]

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,  nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Rob Smith

Thursday, October 25, 2007

worship what you know

We seem to have a capacity and a need to worship.  I think we're all aware that there are larger forces than we control ourselves, or that even large groups of people control.  We know that people didn't fashion mountains or sculpt valleys.  But the interesting thing is that we will settle sometimes for the worship of things that we can't have a relationship with.  A friend of mine once said, "Why would you ever love something that can't love you back?"  I thought that was very profound.  When Jesus was conversing with the Samaritan woman of John chapter 4 He said to her: (verse 22) "You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews."  What or whom are you worshiping?  Are you like the Samaritan woman who talks about worship in some abstract way...or do you worship the One who can be known, as He knows you?
Rob Smith

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

two kinds of fire

Right now, a number of wildfires are torturing Southern California.  Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced and thousands of homes destroyed by fire.  The best efforts of hundreds of firefighters cannot do anything more than try to provide emergency last ditch protection around buildings.  It made me think about the nature of fire.  What an amazing force it is.  Once it starts, a wildfire will continue and spread and enlarge until conditions of wind and temperature and fuel no longer support it.  Anything flammable in the path of the fire becomes fuel and the result is a great deal of destruction.  But fire is also a great servant when tamed.  Almost all of us derive benefit from harnessed fire daily in our car engines, gas furnaces and stoves.  In a way, the Gospel of the Lord is a fire that began with the spark of an intense match two thousand years ago.  It has spread across generations, fed by a Holy Wind and fueled by the dry souls of millions of people.  But, far from destruction, this fire is a purifying energy that converts men of clay to sons of God.  This fire can break out in unexpected areas, as when a thunderbolt strikes a forest, but often it passes through from one person to another and it will spread as long as there are people who respond to the message of life because they can't contain the liberating joy it brings and they must pass it to others.
John 4:28-30, 42 The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” Then they went out of the city and came to Him. Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”
Rob Smith

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Magnify the Lord

...focusing on a small object causes it to fill your mind...focusing on an invisible God does the same...
The other morning as I walked before dawn broke I spied a bright object in the sky...it was actually too bright to be a star.  I believe it was a satellite.  In size it was, of course, very small compared with the vast black of night sky.  But as I reflected briefly on that small, but intense night light a thought struck me...even small things become large when they fill our minds.  At that point they are all we are focused on.  I believe the same is true of the Lord...Not that He is small, but He can be small in our minds because of the crushing presence of so many thoughts, feelings and cares of the every day.  But as we allow thoughts of our sweet Lord...our eternal companion and source of all truth...the One who always sees us....to enter and then to fill our minds God goes way beyond a concept, a religion or a point of view and takes His rightful place of ruler within.  Come, magnify the Lord with me!
Psalm 34: 3 Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
         And let us exalt His name together.
Rob Smith

Monday, October 22, 2007

of great worth

You are...unique...imbued with characteristics never so combined before...the world will never again experience another you!
The other day it hit me that one of the amazing things about God's design is very personal.  In all of history...time past, time present and time yet to come there is only one of you.  There will only be one human being who carries your unique set of characteristics.  Each of us has much in common, in general, with every other person, but yet each of us has a makeup that is solely ours.  God has chosen this narrow sliver of time for your unique basket of gifts, personality, energy, weakness, and interests to be present on the world stage.  In all of time...this is your time and it is no accident that you have been placed here.  There must be some special purposes, some God-ordained reasons that led Him to assign your life to the early 21st century.  Sometimes we make comments like: "I wish I lived back then when life was simple".  Indeed it may be that we are headed for turbulent times in the days ahead.  But, with confidence and with faith, let's look to the One who has selected this intersection of place and time for us and let's trust that He will show us the work He has for us.  Remember what Jesus said to the Disciples when they brought Him food one time.  John 4:32-34 But He said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.”  Therefore the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?”  Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work."
blessings to companions in time and place,
Rob Smith

an even keel

When I was in the Navy we learned about ship stability.  There is a lot of science in properly loading a ship for balance and safety.  One of the biggest factors is the amount of liquid (water or fuel) that is able to slosh around in the tanks.  Another factor is the placement of weight high and low in the ship.  These characteristics are extremely important when it comes to how well the ship will recover when pushed over by the force of wind and waves.  We know that the ocean isn't often placid and often the waves can be the height of a 2 story home, from trough to peak.  Every ship is pitched from front to back and side to side by these great forces outside the hull.  When they build the ship, the first thing they do is lay a keel.  This is the strong backbone of the ship.  As they proceed with construction, they build strength and buoyancy into the hull and are careful to distribute weight evenly.  I was thinking about the challenge we have keeping our eyes on Jesus.  We know that we really ought to fix our eyes on the Lord and follow Him closely.  Yet, in honesty, none of us is able to do that continually.  Since we are human beings, with many weaknesses we are knocked "off balance" often by temptation and desires and our tendency to focus on self.  So, I think the picture of a strong keel and a ship design that permits recovery from these forces is a healthy view of how we can see our ship "righted" when the forces of life push us off center.  How about you?  When you find yourself off center and you know you've allowed temptation to push you past the point of balance does your spiritual design bring you back upright?   When we have learned to be honest about our sin nature, we can say the same thing about sin that the Lord does ("confess") and find our ship swing back upright, no matter how far over we've swayed.  Of course, we might want to look at how we've loaded our ship.  If we've placed the wrong cargo too high in our structure, we may make it more likely to tip!
Rob Smith
1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

What are you drinking?

That subject line looks kind of risque now that I reread it (...What are you drinking?).  It sounds like a line from a thousand bar scenes from movie and tv shows.  Lately I've been trying to drink less soda and more natural juices.  Like my mom says, the soda just has empy calories.  Actually it has less than that...no calories as well as no nutrition.  I wonder how I came to like something that is nothing?!  But we all satisfy our thirsts somehow and of course, in the natural, we must continually replenish our supply of water.  We need to drink about half a gallon of water per day just to keep the body going properly.  When Jesus met the Samaritan woman (John chapter 4) He told her that the water she was drawing from the well would just satisfy her temporarily.  But there is another kind of filling that washes and fills us and restores the vitality of our spiritual nature.  This "long lasting" water is the Holy Spirit and the well, or source, is Jesus. 
John 4:13-14 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
Are you feeling parched within?  Is there a dryness to life?  Have you ever bought one of those new sponges that is as flat as a pancake and then watched it expand under a faucet of water?  Why not be a sponge for the water that springs up to eternity, whose source is the author of life!!
blessings to each one,
Rob Smith

Friday, October 19, 2007

Moving in

People have been asking me how the "move-in" process is going to our new home.  They'll typically ask, "Are you all moved in?"  This question throws me because, even though all our possessions are located inside the four corners of the house, we're far from "moved in".  I don't just mean that we have to hang pictures, throw rugs and put up shelves in the garage.  There is a part of "moving in" that happens in the heart...and it doesn't happen just because all of your stuff is there!  I'm finding that this house is gradually feeling more like home.  We lived somewhere else for 22 years and I guess it takes a process of getting settled that helps the heart transition and make the new place fill the need for home in the heart.  There is a parallel with our relationship with Jesus.  When we invite Him in, He takes up residence immediately and our spiritual home is instantly changed.  But I think we need to walk with Jesus, trust in Him, go through some turbulence with Him and just plain enjoy Him before our spiritual house becomes home.  Yes, our spiritual address does change when we are saved...when we have come to put our trust not on ourselves but on our Lord, but the exercise of faith, like putting up pictures on the walls and painting the bathroom and landscaping the yard causes us to invest in our relationship and make Christ our home.
Psalm 84:3 Even the sparrow has found a home,
       and the swallow a nest for herself,
       where she may have her young—
       a place near your altar,
       O LORD Almighty, my King and my God.
Rob Smith

Thursday, October 18, 2007

certainty and uncertainty

As each day breaks we are faced with uncertainty.  We may have a fair idea of how the day will unfold but we have no absolute assurance that all will go well and we really don't know what is going to happen specifically.  Of course the same is true as we project to the weeks, months and years ahead.  Whether in our own lives, or the lives of family and friends...or of the world situation in general....thre is a whole lot of uncertainty out there.  This morning as I watched the early dawn light tickle the tops of the trees and cause the new gold leaves to glimmer I remembered that there is one thing that is certain.  God has committed to be with us through all the uncertainty.  He knows the end from the beginning and He will carry us over the hills and lift us up from the valleys.  His presence in our lives, as those who have trusted in His Son, is assured.
Isaiah 46:10 I make known the end from the beginning,
       from ancient times, what is still to come.
       I say: My purpose will stand,
       and I will do all that I please.
Rob Smith

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

earth and heaven

When Jesus was explaining to Nicodemus how a person can be "born again", not by physical means but by spiritual, He used a wonderful analogy to the wind.  He said that when the wind blows we can hear it and see the effects of it but we can't tell where it came from or where it's going (from John 3:8).  As human beings we want to fully understand exactly how, when, where and why important things happen.  We want to know where important things come from.  Science continually probes to understand the origin of all manner of plant and animal life (from a natural point of view).  But Jesus reminds us that there is a spiritual reality that transcends our present natural world and our life in the flesh.  There are wonderful truths that are to be believed even if they can't fully be comprehended, no matter how intelligent we might be (I'm sure Nicodemus was quite bright).  When we feel the brush of the spiritual wind in our heart that reveals the truth about Jesus and His love for us personally, we are challenged to open up to receive Him without fully understanding.  In verse 12, Jesus explains that He tells about spiritual things using earthly illustrations...imagine how hard it would be to really explain the wonder of the spiritual truths of heaven.  I don't think we could begin to grasp heavenly realities.  Aren't you glad that God's heavenly wind has blown to earth's shores!
Rob Smith

Monday, October 15, 2007

The extended warranty plan

Recently I've bought several new appliances and pieces of electronic equipment.  The sales people almost always ask if I want to purchase an extended warranty plan.  It makes me wonder just how confident they are about the quality of my purchases.  I generally decline these offers and reason that I'll take my chances since I live in the "Total Quality" and "Process Improvement" generation.  But there's always an element of doubt as I wonder whether the item will prove to be a faithful and enduring performer or a problem waiting to happen.  (Sometimes you hear about items eerily breaking just after the guaranteed period ends.) 
It made me think about our important relationships.  When my wife and I married we were in our early 20's, and were short on money, wisdom and experience in just about every aspect of living.  Our marriage didn't come with an extended warranty plan to purchase...I don't remember one being offered when we bought our marriage license.  The glue that we had confidence in was bigger than us.  And then I thought about my relationship with the Lord.  I was moved to invite Him into my heart when I heard that it was "because of" my tendency to break down and fail that He came.  Somehow that quality of love that accepted me when I was broken has given me confidence that He'll never let go.
Romans 5:6-8 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Rob Smith

Sunday, October 14, 2007

My father's tools

I've  been doing a lot of "new home" projects recently.  Over the weekend my engineer brother-in-law took the lead and I helped as we installed a microwave over a range and a few ceiling fans.  During the projects we found extra parts were sometimes needed and a variety of tools were called for.  At some point along the way I realized we were using screws and washers that my Dad had given me as well as his wire-stripper and a few of his pliers and screwdrivers.  It seemed very special that even though he died over 10 years ago, he was still helping me ... actually assisting me with the finishing touches on my new home!  He'll never come here, himself, but part of him...passed on after he was gone..is still very useful and practical.  The thought occurred to me that our lives have a "ripple effect", like a pebble tossed into a pond.  We may not know how our words, our actions, our consistency and example, our advice and our influence will affect this present world, while we're here, and the future world that may lay beyond our lifetimes.  Just as my Dad's hand tools and hardware are still being put to good use, so will the lives we impact today affect others tomorrow and in decades ahead. 
Proverbs 4: 1 Listen, my sons, to a father's instruction;
       pay attention and gain understanding.

 2 I give you sound learning,
       so do not forsake my teaching.

 3 When I was a boy in my father's house,
       still tender, and an only child of my mother,

 4 he taught me and said,
       "Lay hold of my words with all your heart;
       keep my commands and you will live.


Rob Smith


Saturday, October 13, 2007

undivided attention

Col. Qader spent 27 years in Mr. Hussein's army. He said the Kurdish military tried to recruit him to work against Mr. Hussein, but he demurred out of a sense of duty to the Iraqi army.

"I have one ideology: If I work with you, I stay with you forever," Col. Qader said. "I can't work for two sides."

I saw an article about an Iraqi officer who has been very effective in recent efforts to stop the Al Qaeda terrorists.  At one time he was one of Saddam Hussein's officers.  I was struck with his sense of loyalty.  When he was with Saddam he was fully committed to him and now that he's fighting terrorists, he's equally dedicated and single minded.  It struck me that this is the kind of loyalty that the Lord wants and has every right to expect from us.  It  all starts with the conviction that God is King.  He is King of creation and King of Kings.  He is Lord of the mighty forces and sovereign of every living thing, from algae to albatross.  But, more than that, He is our personal Commander in Chief.  Our attitude should be like a soldier who eagerly approaches his senior officer for orders and then fervently seeks to carry out each assignment.  I think that if we get this relationship right, we can experience the freedom that comes from clarity of purpose and focus. 

Sometimes I think we worry too much about finding the Lord's will for our lives rather than doing the Lord's will for our lives.

Hebrews 13:20-21 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.


Rob Smith


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Who sets the standards?

I remember in school the anxiety of waiting for my grade after a particularly tough exam.  Sometimes you just knew that whatever excellence was, you hadn't achieved it and you were afraid of getting something below "C" level.  But then, sometimes the teacher would face the class and say something like, "Apparently one of us has failed to do our job....me to explain the concepts or you to comprehend and apply them.  So, I'm going to throw this test out and take another class to cover the material before I evaluate your knowledge."  Or he might decide to grade on a curve instead of an absolute score, assuming that the relative performance was a better indication of performance than the raw percentage of right answers.  In our world values, standards, and acceptable behavior are a matter of opinion, style, polls, financial backing and media support.  In America we have come to believe that "the majority rules" can be applied to right and wrong. 
If the world and the universe were truly controlled by men this might be the best we could do.  But man doesn't control the earth's rotation.  No man invented a snowflake, a squirrel, or a summer storm.  Just as no man can explain the mysterious combination of attraction to the opposite sex with the confounding challenge of comprehending the other gender, so it is obvious that man didn't even invent the most basic of relationships.  God is real and God is the only one with the authority to make the rules and set the standards.  God is our "go to " source for all the important questions and answers and even though we often fail the tests in life we can be grateful that the standards never change.  Aren't you glad that He gave us His Son as a focal point to see what being right, doing right and living right looks like. Even though we never get it perfectly right, there's great benefit in the pursuit and greater benefit in realizing our need for His presence.
Philippians 3:10-12 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.
Rob Smith

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Participants and Spectators

We live in a world of participants and spectators.  Over 4 million people watched 9 Yankees take the field this baseball season.  Millions more watch football from the stands and the comfort of their family rooms.  As a nation we watch as a handful of our young people face the front lines of battle.  Through the many channels of media, including hundreds of television options, multitudes of newspapers and magazines, we watch the events of the world unfold and we are entertained.    Who among us would say that his major life goal was to watch life as others lived it?  Yet it seems that many of us prefer to be spectators more than participants.  I think we are challenged to participate, especially in the quest to extend the hope of heaven and the reality of a risen savior to the present generation.   The author of life has written us into the script with an active role, that the angels might watch and wonder.
Luke 15:10 "Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” 
1 Peter 1:12 To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into.
Rob Smith

Got Peace?

Today, while out for a stroll at lunch, I realized that I wasn't currently worried about anything.  At first the thought startled me and I thought to myself that this couldn't be.  How can anyone function without something to worry about.  Then I remembered that having perfect peace was why Jesus came.  I think we're so used to stressing about something that we don't allow ourselves to be at peace.  Sunday, during the praise and worship time, I was singing in the choir in the second service.  I always enjoy the songs but, all of a sudden I realized that there was no reason I couldn't be totally happy and really embrace the message of the music.  Isn't it great that, without reservation, we can accept and dwell within the peace of our Lord.  Truly the picture of a pond without a ripple seems to capture the sense of a heart at rest.
Hebrews 4:8 For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.
blessings and peace,
Rob Smith

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Prize

The 2007 Nobel prize winners were just announced for medicine.  Two of the winners were Americans and they won the prize for doing some breakthrough research with genetics.  It made me think about great achievements like the Nobel prize or the Pulitzer prize.  They inspire and reward tremendous accomplishments.  Most of us don't even have a thought about receiving one of these prizes.  But you can win the greatest prize of all.  It's available to every human being who realizes that we have a living God.  He is the God of the ages and He has fashioned a prize that was won for us.  The only one who could finish the race, pay the price, complete the work, obey completely and live totally for others was Jesus, God's Son.  Because He won the prize two thousand years ago, each of us can win...We can win freedom from the weaknesses that prevent us from winning the prize on our own and we can win a new life that had its design well before we were born and will see its fulfillment as we walk one day on Heaven's Streets and as we bow before the Great One who Won the prize for us!  Reach out and grasp this prize by faith.  Receive the trophy of Christ's living presence within your life. 
You know, I'm sure that the winners of the Nobel prize are changed for life.  The recognition, fame, opportunity and attention that comes from this great prize will change the course of their days.  The same is true when you've Christ, the greatest prize of all.  You are forever changed.  Some of the Nobel prize winners may have problems dealing with their notoriety and a few may actually regret all the attention as an intrusion into privacy.  But those who have touched the Crown of life by inviting Christ within will never regret this prize!
1 John 2:12-13 I remind you, my dear children: Your sins are forgiven in Jesus' name. You veterans were in on the ground floor, and know the One who started all this; you newcomers have won a big victory over the Evil One.
Matthew 13:44 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field."
Rob Smith

Sunday, October 7, 2007

A fruit fly going 70 miles per hour

This morning, on the way to church, I was running late and speeding just a little.  I was on the highway and going 70 miles per hour.  Something caught my eye and I spotted a fruit fly flitting around my passenger seat.  I realized that I was making it possible for a fruit fly to go 70 miles per hour.  I'm pretty sure he didn't realize how fast he was going...he thought he was buzzing around the same space that was parked at my house.  As we drove along together we ran into some bugs that were outside the van...unfortunately for them they couldn't fly 70 miles per hour to get out of my way and they got glued to the windshield.  When we are travelling in the Lord, He carries us farther and faster and with more power than we have within ourselves.  When we travel around and we're not in the Lord, we're prone to run into things that can hurt (or even squash) us.  I think the Lord opens the door for us to come in and buzz around next to Him.
Isaiah 41:14a (The Message) "Do you feel like a lowly worm, Jacob? Don't be afraid. Feel like a fragile insect, Israel? I'll help you. I, God, want to reassure you. The God who buys you back, The Holy of Israel. I'm transforming you from worm to harrow, from insect to iron.
blessings to my buggy friends,
Rob Smith

Saturday, October 6, 2007

To know and be known

Asked whether he thought he had gotten to know Lagerfeld, Marconi said, "I have the feeling I know him now ... though in truth, you never really know anyone."
This quote came from an article about a mysterious clothing designer (Lagerfeld) and the correspondent who followed and filmed him for a year to try to understand the personality of this complex, talented and reclusive individual.  It made me think about how we all have layers to our identity.  We reveal different layers to different people either because of varying comfort levels or to have different kinds of impact.  In a way I don't even think we know ourselves entirely.  When you consider that the Lord planned our makeup from the beginning of time, we actually spend a lifetime getting acquainted with who we are.  He designed us each uniquely for His purposes and it is our challenge to unwrap the package of our personality, find the gifts buried within, like treasures, and find ways to become part of His solution as He reaches out to the world.  It's kind of amazing to consider that one of the greatest frontiers and most exciting adventures of our lives lies within, as we pursue God's blueprint for our individual lives.
1 Corinthians 4:7-8 (The Message) For who do you know that really knows you, knows your heart? And even if they did, is there anything they would discover in you that you could take credit for? Isn't everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God?
Rob Smith

Friday, October 5, 2007

The mind of the Lord

1 Chronicles 28:.9 “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever.
If we're looking for an idea of how much we should love the Lord, we might start with a look at how much He loves us and how aware of us He is.  Notice in the passage from 1 Chronicles above that God not only knows all of our thoughts, as He searches our hearts, He knows the intent behind the thoughts.  If the Lord is that invested in knowing us, shouldn't we be keen on knowing Him?  The truly marvelous thing is that He lets us in on His thoughts too!
1 Corinthians 2:16 For “who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?”  But we have the mind of Christ.
Rob Smith

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Death and taxes

We are all familiar with the expression: "There is nothing certain but death and taxes".  Somehow I think we tend to focus more on the reality of the taxes than that of death.  Actually I think we all live in denial of death.  It's like the elephant in the room that we try to ignore.  As people who have come to lean with all our weight on Jesus, we need to "Cross over" to the promised land that no longer denies death but deals with it honestly.  The fact is, if we have opened our heart to the Lord and invited Him in, death has lost its sting and just like Daniel's three friends: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego death will be like a fire that neither consumes us nor leaves its smell.  I believe that the sting of death is the bondage it keeps us in during this life.  It can cause us to worship the temporary things that are associated with our brief time on earth because then we can ignore the reality of our earthly end.  We need to bury death in Jesus' empty tomb.  We are now citizens of heaven and we face an eternal future in the presence of the Lord.  This is freedom.   Death is no more an end than the short tunnel on the Colonial Parkway under Colonial Williamsburg is a brick wall.  When we have faced death with the resurrection power of the Lord we can end its grip.  The worst this life can do, at that point, is dispatch us to heaven, ushered into the courts of Almighty God!  Death and taxes may be certain but certain, also, is the promise of eternal life that begins here who have believed in the risen Lord.
John 8:51 "Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.”
Rob Smith

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Thoughts on Light (a bright blend)

Here's an interesting quote from an article on lighting:

"Consider another fact: people feel more comfortable with lighting from many sources. Combinations of lighting add variety and vivacity to our lives. Contrasting mixtures of brightness and darkness cause dramatic and lively changes in our home ambiance. Uniform lighting is good for working, but it is boring. Blending light sources halts insipid monotony in our rooms and in our lives. Selecting from a gentle radiance, a warm glow, to a bright, intense light involves understanding the effects of lighting on our emotions."

Have you ever felt like your walk with the Lord was stale, lacking in fresh contact with Him.  I do think that we get stuck in spiritual habit-ruts and just spin our wheels until we get frustrated or bored.  We know that the presence and reality of our heavenly Father is full of light.  Perhaps our problem is that we need variation in how we stand in that light.  He is the one true light but we can experience His light in so many ways...from a spontaneous walk through the woods to private meditation on a passage of scripture to times of intimate conversation with Him to times of singing and expressing in voice our love for Father and Son.  We've just painted a few rooms in our new house and now, instead of walls that are all the same white tone we have degrees of blend and contrast as light reflects off the same walls.  Perhaps we need to find new ways to introduce the Lord's light and to bask in His warmth.

Job 17:11 My days are past,
      My purposes are broken off,
      Even the thoughts of my heart.

 12 They change the night into day;

      ‘The light is near,’ they say, in the face of darkness.


Rob Smith



Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Thoughts on Light (More than meets the eye)

Light is a fascinating phenomenon with many spiritual parallels.  I'll touch on a few over the next several days.  As I was just reading about the nature of light...its characteristics, speed, etc. an interesting fact emerged:  Regular incandescent light bulbs only emit 10% of their energy as visible light.  The rest can't be seen.  It is the same form of energy as light, but it travels with a longer wavelength than the eye can see (infrared energy).  Infrared energy is used by the military for night vision devices and for wireless communications and missile control.  Weather forecasters use this energy and astronomists do as well.  When you turn on the table lamp next to you, you aren't aware that most of the energy can't be seen.  It is the same with our spiritual lives.  As we interact with other people, we are aware of some of the obvious traits and characteristics of those folks, but like the lightbulb, there is a great deal more to that person.  I sometimes think that we haven't begun to tap our understanding of all that we are and of all we can mean to the world around us.  As a Christian, we have the source of eternal light within. We are probably only utilizing a small percentage of that light.  I suppose we do well to remember the scripture: Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden."  We can think of that light as partly visible and partly invisible (like infrared).  Some of our witness for the Lord is quite visible and obvious.  Some of our actions and attitudes and spiritual walk are less obvious, but just as important.  Behind the scenes service is clearly visible to our Lord!
Rob Smith

Monday, October 1, 2007

We fly with our father

Man has tried for thousands of years to fly...we really envy the freedom of the birds.  I guess we finally gave up trying to power ourselves and settled for mechanical contraptions that do the flying for us.  But tonight I saw something that reminded me that we can still fly...we just need a little help.  I was watching my grandson, Peter, soar through his kitchen on the arms of his Dad and the thought arose that all of us can fly above the limits of our fleshy land-anchored bodies with the help of our heavenly father.  Just like Petey we can lift our arms and let our loving Lord hold us, carry us, and send us, almost weightless, through the day.
Deuteronomy 32:11 As an eagle stirs up its nest,
      Hovers over its young,
      Spreading out its wings, taking them up,
      Carrying them on its wings,

     12 So the LORD alone led him,


Rob Smith