Thursday, November 29, 2007

heart transplant

A young relative of a friend just received a new set of lungs, via transplant, a few days ago.  This young woman was failing and would probably not have survived very long without the wonderful gift of new lungs.  The donor was a child who, most likely, was the victim of an automobile accident over the Thanksgiving holiday.  Tragedy was transformed to triumph through a transplant.  The result is a fresh start, a new beginning.  The young lady who received the lungs was just married over the past year and now can look forward to a continuation of her life with her husband and other family and friends.  Heart transplants are relatively common, as well, these days.  Each year about 2,000 Americans receive new hearts by transplant.  The analogy is clear with our salvation.  In a sense we all are dying of terminal sin disease.  The arteries of our spiritual life are clogged with our innate tendency to stray.  Our spiritual breathing is labored and the smallest life challenge can leave us breathless, often feeling like there is nowhere to turn.  Fortunately each of us is not only a prime candidate for a new heart but there is one available for us all.  When we invite the Lord Jesus into our lives we receive His heart.  Our arteries are cleansed and His precious blood flows through our lives.  No wonder we are considered "new creatures" when we receive this transplant.  Unfortunately many people have "immune" systems that reject Jesus before giving Him a chance to enter.  If it weren't for the preparation and guidance of the Holy Spirit, I think we'd all reject Jesus' entrance.
Matthew 13:15 "For this people's heart has become calloused;
      they hardly hear with their ears,
      and they have closed their eyes.
   Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
      hear with their ears,
      understand with their hearts
   and turn, and I would heal them."
Acts 2:37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?"
Ephesians 3:16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
Rob Smith

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

How far will you go?

Go Farther!  That was the imperative I spotted in an advertisement for investment research.  It was the clear implication that using their services would take you farther along the road to financial success.  But then I thought, "OK, go farther....but how will I know when I've arrived?"  One of the fallacies of the American Dream, as it is packaged contemporaneously, is that success is actually defined by "going farther"  or by having more of the material types of things.  One of the interesting truths we learn is that going farther in the material world can be like going deeper into a quicksand swamp.  On the other hand when we Go Farther in our relationship with Jesus we find that real progress and real growth come as we walk.  It is in the going that we experience the growing.  Maybe our promotion to walk with Jesus would be Walk Closer!  Then we really will go farther.
2 Corinthians 6:16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."
Rob Smith

Monday, November 26, 2007

horizontal and vertical

Many of you have been on the planet long enough to remember when televisions received their signals exclusively through the air.  We generally could receive the three major networks and eventually a few local channels through something called UHF.  You actually had to go over to the TV set to turn it on and when you changed channels the dial usually clicked noisily from channel to channel.  Generally the other times you would approach the set would be to adjust the signal.  There were two controls: Vertical and Horizontal Hold.  Sometimes the picture would flip vertically like a a ruffled deck of cards and sometimes it would move sideways.  A deft touch with the Vertical or Horizontal Hold would restore the picture.  In our walk with the Lord we pull our signal out of the air on the antenna of the heart.  When our focus is a bit off it usually shows up either in the Vertical (up to God) or Horizontal (sideways with other folks) directions.  I think this is when the Holy Spirit walks over to our controls and makes an adjustment.  I remember a few TV sets we had seemed to have frequent adjustment problems and others held their picture with little tweaking required. 
Get the picture?
Proverbs 25:28 Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.
Rob Smith

Sunday, November 25, 2007


There are a few words that we don't see translated in most versions of the Bible but that we use frequently in hymns and praise songs. One of these words is Hosanna.  Today in church we sang a praise song that repeated the word Hosanna several times.  I wondered what Hosanna meant so I looked it up.  It means: "Save now! or Save, we beseech".  It was used in the New Testament as a greeting for Jesus as He entered (we celebrate on Palm Sunday).  Mark 11:9 "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"  Hosanna was a shout of praise the Old Testament Jews used during the Feast of Tabernacles which celebrated God's provision and protection during the Exodus in the Wilderness and which looked forward to the coming rule and deliverance of the Messiah.  So when we were singing "Hosanna" today we could identify with those folks from long ago as we celebrate Jesus, the Messiah, as He has come and continues to come to save us and to deliver us from our wanderings in the wilderness, even today.
Rob Smith

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Lease or Own?

One of the key aspects of acquiring a new car these days is the decision whether to lease or own the car.  If you lease, typically your payments are lower because you're only paying for two or three years of depreciation in the value of the car.  Of course, when you buy, you pay for the entire car.  There is no generalization that can be made as to which is the better approach.  Either can make sense depending on individual circumstances.  One of the reasons we like to purchase the car is for the real sense of really know that it is "your car".  Today it struck me that there is an analogy to our own lives.  I think we tend to feel that we "own" our lives.  We can carry an expectation that this life we own will keep on running and we expect to reach ojur goals and generally be happy.  Our orientation so easily is to our personal agenda as we move from day to day.  But we don't like to think about trading in the old model.  We may do well to think of our lives, here in the flesh, as being "on lease".  What begins here in the body will continue in a different form, with a continued purpose in the eternal dimension.  It is good to remember that, unlike the cars we acquire, our lives were given to us...both our natural lives and our spiritual lives (through God's grace and Jesus' faithfulness)...The One who has brought us life is the one who brings meaning and value to it and He has defined a form of life that will go on and on.  We travel in leased vehicles that we will exchange when the lease is up for new models that will serve us better for the rest of the journey.
1 Corinthians 15:43-45 "it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
      If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit."
Rob Smith

Friday, November 23, 2007

Assisted Living

Today was the day after Thanksgiving.  Few people were working, but I was among them.  As I turned into the business center where I work, the parking lots were mostly empty as the vacant offices testified to folks enjoying family and holiday shopping.  Then I passed an Assisted Living center located near my office.  The lot was full of cars, as usual, and I realized that these folks were there because they were "home" or were providing services for the residents who lived there.  I thought about the term "Assisted Living" and considered the various kinds of senior centers that are available these days.  But then I realized that I actually require "Assisted Living" myself.  From every heartbeat and breath to an autoimmune system that mostly eyes that see and a brain that sometimes thinks and more importantly to obtain the help I need every moment of every day...I require a big Assist.  I'm especially grateful for the One who assisted me to a new life and a new heavenly family.  Jesus gives us the big Assist.  He assists us to reach Heaven and He assists us each day.  He's like the best Assisted Living Center ever created.  I'm glad I've checked in to this wonderful service.  Thinking of another kind of contemporary assistance, I'm glad He provides truly Long Term Care!
Hebrews 9:27-28 Everyone has to die once, then face the consequences. Christ's death was also a one-time event, but it was a sacrifice that took care of sins forever. And so, when he next appears, the outcome for those eager to greet him is, precisely, salvation.
Rob Smith

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Earth and Heaven

As I was raking leaves earlier today and feeling "thankful" for so many blessings this Thanksgiving day my thoughts turned to gratitude for our new home.  Then I looked up to the gorgeous blue sky above and I realized that no one owns the sky above my property.  In a sense, our house and land represent a place we live on the surface of the planet, but I suppose you could project the boundaries of our place all the way up to outer space and say that no one else has a claim on that area.  Then I realized that our lives are just the same.  We live briefly on the surface of the planet, but we have rights to Heaven above as well.  It's good to expand our vision of the place we dwell to include heaven, itself.  After all, when we invited Jesus to come into our hearts we became citizens of Heaven.  Maybe it's a truer picture to say that we live in Heaven but temporarily occupy a small square on the ground level. 
Philippians 3:20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.
Blessings to you'all as we give thanks for earth and heaven!
Rob Smith

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

This is freedom

Thoughts on freedom:  freedom can be defined many ways but ultimately is experienced as the peaceful result of a quiet heart, a mind opened to all of God and a soul delivered from a heavy load of sin.  We are set free "from" in order to know what it is to be free "to" and to be free "for".  We are only truly free when we have become slaves to a kind Master.  No man can take freedom from one who has been liberated by the one Creator and the only Savior.  Isn' t it wonderful that we are free to set our minds, our hearts, our total focus on our gracious Lord.  I suppose that the fruit of true freedom is a narrow world view that becomes a telescope to the great expanse of Heaven.  John 8:36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.
blessings, with thanks
Rob Smith

Monday, November 19, 2007

animals have scents

Elephants can literally sniff out danger

By Michael Kahn Thu Oct 18, 12:20 PM ET

LONDON (Reuters) - Elephants can literally smell danger, according to a study on Thursday that shows the animals can sniff out whether humans are friends or foes.

The study in Kenya found elephants detected both the scents and colors of garments worn by Masai tribesman who often come into conflict with the animals when herding cattle.  The same research revealed that the elephants relaxed when they recognized the different smell and look of more friendly tribes.  One of the great Bible words we read about is "discernment".  In a natural sense, we learn by experience how to distinguish good deals from bad deals, salesmen from servants, and quality from glitz.  One key spiritual trait comes from the abiding presence of the Lord is the detection and evaluation of spiritual quality.  I believe that as we exercise focusing on the Lord with mind, heart and energy we allow the Lord to train our personality to pick up on danger as well as safety in the eternally important spiritual dimension. 
2 Samuel 14:17 Your maidservant said, ‘The word of my lord the king will now be comforting; for as the angel of God, so is my lord the king in discerning good and evil. And may the LORD your God be with you.’”
Rob Smith

Letters from home

You've probably had this (or similar) experience.  I remember being away from home, at the Naval Academy and later aboard ship, and experiencing an eager anticipation about getting mail from home.  At first the feelings centered around the brown paper packages sent from my Mom and containing brownies and cookies (you just can't top home baked treats).  When I'd sample one of those goodies I thought of home and all the love for me there (sometimes school felt more like a hostile environment).  Later on, when I was dating Shirley I'd set my heart on getting notes from her.  Most of them came when I was aboard ship and located thousands of miles away.  I'd carefully open those letters and read them the way you'd eat the finest of meals at the best of restaurants...carefully considering every subtle meaning and picturing her as she sat and poured her thoughts into words.  I especially looked for indications and expressions of affection and I delighted in feeling special and longed to be with her in person.  This morning, as I was reading a Psalm, I realized that my attitude toward the Bible should be very similar.  God has written the most personal of letters and He has addressed it, individually, to each of us.  If we pour over the words and look for indications and expressions of affection, we'll find there are many and that they saturate every book and chapter.  You've probably experienced, as I have, the amazing sense that God is speaking directly to me, at times, as the words seem to fly like an arrow to my heart.  Until we can be with Him in person, we can read His letters of love and picture Him as He composed them, just for us.  Reading the Bible should be like reading a love letter, because that is exactly what it is.
Rob Smith

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Built for change

There are many lessons in the colorful leaves of the fall.  One is the consideration that we were designed for change.  As I sat this morning in the warmth of the autumn sun and looked to the trees nearby, I stared at a tree with leaves of brilliant rust / red color.  It occurred to me that those leaves looked as if they were painted red.  But then I realized that the color which appears to be permanent is really very temporary...far shorter in life than the green leaves that preceded the red ones.  The leaves which now are red will dry and fall within a few days, and, of course the cycle will continue into winter and new leaves in the spring.  I suppose one of the reasons we enjoy paintings of the fall foliage is that they preserve these gorgeous colors and bring back the fleeting time of bright color to our mind.  The hand behind the scenes that paints the leaves is the hand of God and He is painting us with changing colors as well.  I was remarking to a senior friend recently that just as the trees show brilliant color to celebrate the long season of life they have completed, so we also have changing colors that celebrate our long life season.  But instead of glowing in brilliant oranges, yellows, and reds, we move to shades of gray, with paler skin.  While our outward appearance appears to fade as we pass the physical peak, the inner person glows brighter as the joy of the Lord's peace and of life's blessings crown us and cause us to look to eternity's future with Hope.
Ezekiel 47:12 "But the river itself, on both banks, will grow fruit trees of all kinds. Their leaves won't wither, the fruit won't fail. Every month they'll bear fresh fruit because the river from the Sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing."
Rob Smith

Friday, November 16, 2007

keep your distance

Have you ever noticed how cars bunch up on the highway?  It's almost like there's a continual race going on out there.  I think many drivers decide how fast they'll drive based on how much speed they need to catch the next group ahead of them.  It's sort of a "relative" approach to driving and sometimes it leads to "road rage" when the competition gets too close and personal.  The posted speed limits are more of an "absolute" guide to determining driving speed.  I've noticed that when I drive at the speed limit it tends to be a bit more peaceful than when I'm chasing the herd (not to mention: a more legal approach).  But there is something in us that seeks out the crowd and pushes the limits...often so we can do fun things like getting to work faster by 5 minutes.  So one thought is that we're better off following "absolute standards" from the Lord than "relative standards" set by ourselves.  The other thought is that when it comes to sin we often push the limits by getting as close as we can...thinking or hoping that we won't cross into unacceptable territory.  But just as cars that bunch together have a far greater likelihood of collision than those with plenty of space around them, so we tend to set ourselves to fall to temptation when we allow it to come too close.  If we follow God's absolutes...stick to His limits...we may find ourselves in an open place where life isn't moving quite so fast, there is greater peace, and we have less chance of crashing into sin.
Proverbs 6: 27 Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?

                  28 Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? 



Rob Smith

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Fluid power

Imagine having the strength to tame a 3000 lb. beast and have such power over it that it responds to your every command: to move in virtually any direction at your will.  All this not only is possible but taken by most of us for granted daily.  Before leaving for the Men's Retreat this past Friday I stopped at an auto parts store to top off some of the key fluids in my van.  This trusty vehicle has gone well over 250,000 miles over the past 14 years and I was a little concerned about the trip out to the mountains.  So I topped off the brake fluid and transmission fluid and checked the oil, power steering and antifreeze.  All of these tend to leak a little on the aged beast.  As I was rolling west it occurred to me that those fluids convey great power and keep the engine cool.  They multiply my strength to steer, shift and stop the vehicle through hydraulic principles.  Of course the gas in the tank transforms into explosive power, harnessed in the engine and driving the front wheels onward...even up the mighty mountain.  The antifreeze came in handy because temperatures dropped below freezing at night (we even had a few inches of snow!)  I thought about the Holy Spirit and how the Lord had described this marvelous spiritual fluid.

Some examples of spiritual fluid power:

John 11:2 It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.

James 5:14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

Matthew 14:29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.

John 3:23 Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized.

John 7:38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” 39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing  in Him would receive;

I use oil and water in my van but it doesn't compare to the fabulous fluids of the Lord!


Rob Smith

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

output = growth

We hear a lot these days about diet.  We have large numbers who are eating too much and we have an epidemic of diabetes.  We also have problems with people eating too little leading to anorexia.  We seem to have a succession of weight loss fads that keep us on a vicious cycle of lean and fat.  We also have cable TV channels that do nothing but prepare gourmet meals or show exercise programs designed to firm us up.  I was reminded the other day of one of Jesus' teachings: that what comes out of us is more important  than what goes in.  Matthew 15:11 "What goes into a man's mouth does not make him 'unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth, that is what  makes him 'unclean.' "  I think it's safe to say that healthy growth is more dependent on what comes out of our lives than the material things we eat, acquire, or add to our lives.  In some amazing way we actually mature as a result of the output of our lives.  Maybe that is why we see in Ephesians 2: 10 "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."  Of course we do need to eat something.  May I suggest the John 6 cuisine? (from verse 33) "For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” .
Rob Smith

Monday, November 12, 2007

For all seasons

This morning, as I walked through a heavily wooded area near my home I was considering the multi-colored leaves...over half the spectrum was showing there (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green...I didn't see any Blue, Indigo or Violet). 
Fall is a time of reflection, before the severe cold of winter makes anything other than survival hard to consider.  The thought I had this morning was that we have a God for all seasons.  When life is difficult and problems crowd in, who else better to turn to than God?  He has the comfort and the answers, and is able to provide the solutions.  When the solutions don't come when we expect and we must deal with pain, who else better to turn to than God?  He invites us to cast our care on Him and no one can empathize better than He.  He's the one who knows the innermost aspects of our pain and can heal the invisible human heart as well as the physical heart.  When uncertainty and the unknowns of the future cause anxiety, who better to turn to than God?  He knows the beginning from the end and can guide us in the right path if we allow Him to direct our steps.  And when we experience joy and success and life goes well, who better to turn to than God?  Who else deserves our praise and who else can deliver us from the pride than can extinguish the blessing so quickly.  Truly He is the only God for all the seasons of life.
Acts 14:17 "Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy."
Rob Smith

an empire or a string of pearls?

How do you envision the ultimate purpose of your life?  In all honesty are you trying to "build an empire"?  Or are you creating a string of pearls?
It occurred to me this past week that many (or most...or maybe just about all) of us men are empire builders.  Somewhere inside we are trying to acquire a fortune, build a winning business, create a successful career.  Like some kind of carry over from an earlier time we think life is all about creating our own personal empire.  We can so easily give ourselves to the acquisition of influence, power, and things.  So much of this goes way beyond what we need in terms of healthy ambiition to meet our practical needs.  I think we tend to measure our worth by the worldly worth of what we own and the worldly reach of our earthly power.  We were reminded this weekend at the Men's Retreat that life really is all about relationships: first with God and then with people.  A thought that struck me was that it's better to look at life as a string of pearls than an empire to build or conquer.  Each pearl is a day and each day we begin again to see a pearl formed.  Within the constraints of the day we have a new beginning and a wide range of opportunity to look to God for our worship, peace and fresh purpose.  God can fill the day with unimaginable joy and experience and as trials inevitably come...He'll show up then, too.  But each night we can place that pearl on the string and look to the next day.  Rather than filling the unknown of the future with our own puny ambitions, we can walk day by day with the Lord.  In this way I think we'll see Him build His empire through us!  And one day, when the last pearl is strung, we'll step across to see that true Empire.
1 Corinthians 7:29-31 I do want to point out, friends, that time is of the essence. There is no time to waste, so don't complicate your lives unnecessarily. Keep it simple —in marriage, grief, joy, whatever. Even in ordinary things—your daily routines of shopping, and so on. Deal as sparingly as possible with the things the world thrusts on you. This world as you see it is on its way out.
Rob Smith

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Lost and Found

Last night on the mountain at Wintergreen we had just finished our evening meeting and were headed back to our rooms.  The word started to spread that there was an 8 year old boy who had gotten lost on the mountain and they were organizing a search party.  One of the guys had the front desk call all the rooms where we were staying and, to my heartfelt joy, we probably had well over a hundred men show up in the dark to look for the boy.  They used bloodhounds and all kinds of volunteers.  I went to bed not knowing if he were found but on rising was joyful to hear he'd been located and was well.  This morning I heard more of the rescue story.  One of the older men at the retreat was sharing during a testimony time when many men spoke.  His words were halting and full of emotion as he told the story of his grief.  His wife of many years had died not long ago and he has wrestled severely with the loss.  Last night he was one of the volunteers helping in the search.  He threw his lot in with some of the local search and rescue professionals as they drove down roads and cul-de-sacs and searched vacant vacation cottages.  They were about to give up, thinking all the possible homes had been examined when they poked down one last lane.  One of the empty homes had a light shining through a first floor window and as they walked around this place, they discovered the missing boy standing in the shadows.  He was physically fine and, of course, the family was overjoyed.  The Mom was quoted as saying: "I was more anxious about your arrival this time than when you were born!"  The fellow who has been dealing with a great loss was given the privilege by our wonderful Lord of having a direct role in a great find.  The Lord found a boy and provided some healing for an older man.
Truly this was a weekend when many were found on the mountain!
Luke 15:4-7"Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn't you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, 'Celebrate with me! I've found my lost sheep!' Count on it—there's more joy in heaven over one sinner's rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue."
Rob Smith

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Mountains are challenging

This weekend I'm on a Men's Retreat up in Wintergreen on a mountain.  I've come to realize that everything about a mountain is challenging.  On level ground you follow any one of four directions: North, South, East, or West.  On a mountain there are only two directions: Up and Down.  The problem is that each direction on a mountain is challenging.  This afternoon I attempted to go on a hike, that turned into mostly a climb.  I had to turn back as my legs and lungs weren't in adequate condition.  Then I had the challenge of going down the slippery leaf covered rocks.  At one point I thought to myself..."Here I am on a mountain top and the only thing I'm looking at are my two feet (so I wouldn't stumble)".  But there is something exciting and wondrous about being on the mountain.  This morning we awoke to a few inches of snow!  What a beautiful blanket it formed!  The challenge of being on the mountain this weekend parallels the challenge of walking with our God.  Whether life goes hard uphill or fast and easy on the way down, we need the protection of the Lord and we sense His hands holding us each step of the way!
Psalm 18:36 Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip.
Rob Smith

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Every decision carefully considered...every action held up to the light

"Look at the banknote and hold it up to the light: the watermark, the security thread and the see-through register will then be visible. All three features can be seen from the front and the reverse side of genuine banknotes."
This quote is from an article that provides tests to check if currency is real or counterfeit (in this case the Euro banknotes).  Holding things up to the light has long been a way to examine the details of an object, literally, or of an idea, figuratively, for validity.  Today I was considering how our lives break down to the completion of thousands of small tasks that lead to the achievement of larger goals.  I thought about the fact that if we do the small things well...the final result will probably be satisfactory.  I also realized that I often feel a pressure to rush and complete the current task.  If there is a battle over a project, it takes place over the details...the small pieces of the job.  But all large and important efforts and all goals worth attempting are made of many small, seemingly insignificant steps.  We need to hold our attitude up to the light as we attempt each step, to ensure that we value them as much as the final project.  Perhaps that's why the Lord said in Luke 16:10 "He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much."
The blessing is in the details...let's hold even the small things up to the light!
Rob Smith

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Living with faults

In California the ground beneath your feet is shifting slowly but steadily.  Two great plates of earth are moving in different directions along the length of the state.  We know this as the San Andreas Fault.  It runs as a big divide for about 800 miles and on the west side land is moving north while on the east side land is moving south.  This "slippage" is happening at about 1 inch per year and every so often it produces earthquakes.  When you live with Faults you have to be prepared for inevitable Quakes.  The same is true in the human realm.  We all have faults...we sometimes seem divided with one part headed in one direction while another part going in a different direction.  In a moral sense the apostle Paul put it this way: (from Romans 7:15-18 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.  If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good.  But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.
Part of us "wills" to do good while part of us continually tries to drag us a different direction.  This tension inevitably causes "Quakes" in our lives just as San Andreas' Fault disrupts the state of California.  In California they have learned to live with their, roads, large buildings and bridges all must be built to withstand the periodic earthquakes.  If we're honest about ourselves we'll see our own fault lines and prepare our building with the reinforcement of scripture and the flexibility of faith.  Paul found only one resolution: Romans 7:24-25 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
blessings from another with fault lines,
Rob Smith

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Better unseen

It occurred to me today that it is a good thing that God is "invisible".  Even though He's all around us and made every particle of our being, our lives are so fashioned that we aren't completely aware of His presence.  This is a good thing!  The way God has set up our lives, we have a relationship with Him that is built on trust.  As we encounter the real and tangible issues of this life we learn to turn to the invisible one who is above all and yet who is aware of all and who is able to deal with every concern.  As we place our trust in Him and find Him to "be there" we learn to come back to Him again and again...not because He insists but because we prefer Him.  One day, when we are beyond the constraints of this life, we will be directly in His presence and His light will replace the sun.  But these are the days when we can choose Him....when we have the option of not doing so.  Truly our Lord is the meekest of all...a great Lord of all who never insists on our worship but, rather, draws us and woos us with His loving care.  Yes, He is here and our time is never better spent than when yielded to thoughts and conversation of and with Him.
Hebrews 11:27 "By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible."
Rob Smith

Monday, November 5, 2007

not in your lifetime

Not in your it likely that:
Niagara Falls will cease to flow, or...
        Arabs and Jews will live in peaceful harmony, or...
                a cure for every serious fatal disease will be discovered, or...
                        freedom and equality will be protected by law in every land, or...
                                children will not go hungry in any land around the globe.
We will not see every hardship end, evil corrected, wrong righted or great discovery made (Of course the Lord may come at any time and all will change!)
But each day we can set our face toward Jesus, walk with Him close beside and reflect Him to those we have the privilege of living near and working with.  And each day we can see Him work in nature, in lives and in ourselves.  That much we can count on.
Acts 1:6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Rob Smith

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Opening doors

Doors can be the center of drama and much anticipation and unknown lie on the other side.  I remember the anxiety I felt walking through a classroom door on the day of a chemistry final exam.  I remember the anticipation I felt walking through the door of a toy store as Christmas approached.  I remember feeling like a spotlight was on me when walking into a new high school classroom 800 miles from my old school.  I remember scurrying through hatches and doors when our ship would go to general quarters in the Navy.  But the most memorable door was the one that opened to find Jesus waiting with arms to embrace me.  Since coming to trust in Jesus as my Savior, there have been many doors to open: the door of marriage, of parenthood, of career change.  Spiritually I've come to believe that the Lord beckons us to walk toward Him by opening a new door each day and walking with Him through unknown events as they unfold.  These days many store doors open automatically as we approach and they sense our presence.  I'm glad that the important doors of life still call for us to make a conscious decision to twist a knob or open a latch (with Jesus in our lives we know that the important doors are all unlocked).
Let's approach each new day as a door to open with Jesus beside us and with an adventure on the far side.
Psalm 24:7 Lift up your heads, O you gates!
         And be lifted up, you everlasting doors!
         And the King of glory shall come in.


Rob Smith

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Lying is harder than truth telling

The other day I heard a radio story about new techniques to determine if someone is telling a lie (beyond the old lie detectors).  Scientists have found a way to use MRI (magnetic resonance) energy to see into the brain.  Apparently when you decide to lie, a certain part of the brain becomes active to fabricate a falsehood that counteracts the truth, yet can pass as believable.  It takes a lot more work to lie than to tell the truth.  First you have to concoct the story and then you have to use body language and words to be convincing.  All that work heats up the brain in such a way that the MRI can detect.  It just seems like you can save a whole lot of stress and energy by being honest.
Psalm 15:1 LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary?
       Who may live on your holy hill?

 2 He whose walk is blameless
       and who does what is righteous,
       who speaks the truth from his heart


Rob Smith

Too earthly minded to be any heavenly good

This world is a great analogy for the greater Kingdom...the one that doesn't wear out.  We tend to think of the spiritual kingdom as distant and hard to picture...but picture this: Heaven is where we aspire to spend our forever.  Heaven is where our God and His Son dwell in majesty and have since time was just an idea and will still be there when time no longer is relevant.  We pass through our earthly stay only briefly but during this critical period..this narrow passage..we have our big opportunity to grasp the grace of our Maker, realize our need for the Savior, and begin to enjoy the companionship of the Helper, the Holy Spirit.  So, the next time you hear about someone who is "too heavenly minded to be any earthly good",  consider the many of us who are "too earthly minded to be preparing for Heaven".
The great wonders of the natural world point to the eternal supernatural world and we can see heaven in His handiwork.
Job 16: 19 Surely even now my witness is in heaven, And my evidence is on high.
Rob Smith

Friday, November 2, 2007

Design leads to Security

I went for a stroll earlier today and couldn't stop thinking about the beauty of God's design.  It shows in everything from the acorn I spotted, with it's hard and smooth shell to the flexible trunks of the trees swaying in the wind and beyond to the sky, with its protective atmosphere and gorgeous blue color.  But the related thought that came was how living in the midst of evident design brings great security as we are constantly reminded of the reality and the presence of the Designer.  This is not a world of chance or of chaos and so we can be confident that our lives fold into that design and we are not outside of that great plan.
Psalm 92:4 For You, LORD, have made me glad through Your work;
         I will triumph in the works of Your hands.

Rob Smith

Thursday, November 1, 2007

tending the garden

Our legacy of daily work goes back to Adam tending the garden (Eden).  Is work a blessing or a curse?
I was thinking today how much our daily work is (or was, if we're retired) a central part of our lives.  We spend the best time of our days working hard to make a living.  We build things, fix things, and provide services working with mind and body.  We generally get paid in dollars to exchange for our effort  but I thing the real exchange is more important than money.  Think back to Adam at the beginning.  God planted him in a garden and gave him a job....  Genesis 2:15 "Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. " In fact, God gave Adam a job before He gave him a wife!  Of course, Adam and Eve couldn't stand perfection and were sent packing from their first job...but work continued. 
Genesis 3: 17b “ Cursed is the ground for your sake;
      In toil you shall eat of it
      All the days of your life. "

It occurred to me that we can have one of two attitudes toward work.  We can "tend the garden of the Lord" or we can view it as a curse.  Well, since we have been redeemed from the curse through Christ, I believe our perspective on work has also been redeemed.  If we view our job as our God-given garden, it can transform our mindset as we remember the blessing it is to labor for the Lord (and in His direct view).


Rob Smith