Monday, December 29, 2008


As I have enjoyed several Advent and Christmas services in recent weeks, I have also enjoyed many of the old hymns: "O Little Town of Bethlehem, Joy to the World, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, Silent Night" and a number of others.  It occurred to me that, apart from the beauty of the lyrics and the melodies, there is comfort in the familiarity I have with these songs.  Like old friends, they visit faithfully each year to bring the warmth of memories and reassurance that the joys of Christmas have been renewed.  Within a few notes these songs link us with Christmases across the centuries and we are reminded that the Christ of Christmas came for all generations.  In a sense we are celebrating with all those who have gone before as we share the same words and the same melody they knew.  I am reminded that there is great comfort also in knowing that the Jesus we adore today is the same, living Lord, who has been known and loved by all who have gone before.  He was born two thousand years ago but renews His bond with each generation.  I believe that as we look intently to the Lord each morning and quiet our hearts we will also experience the familiarity of His presence.  Knowing Jesus is like singing an eternal hymn, beautiful for its melody and beautiful for His familiarity.
Psalm 118:14 The LORD is my strength and song,
         And He has become my salvation.
Rob Smith

Thursday, December 25, 2008

when least expected

Luke 2: 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
I'm convinced that God shows up when least expected.  I'm not sure how much advance planning Joseph was capable of as he entered Bethlehem for the census, but I don't think Mary could have been faulted if she'd been upset that the best her husband could do was a stable to give birth to the promised "Son of the Most High".  There they were in the city of David and Mary was about to deliver the one to inherit the throne of David.  But there was no room for them in the inn.  I suspect they would have made room for a king, but the innkeeper didn't realize that the King of Kings was about to enter the scene.   I doubt whether many babies have been delivered in stables or barns as the birthing location of choice and I doubt whether many feeding troughs have been given as cradles at baby showers.   As the Lord looked down the corridor of time, however, these are precisely the conditions that were planned for the one who was both Son of God and Son of Man to make His earthly entrance.  I believe that the Lord will show up in our lives when we least expect it, as well.  At a time when nothing seems to be going your way, when circumstances and events aren't coming together the way you'd imagined, the Lord will appear.  And when we feel defeated, denied and discouraged He'll delight in changing everything you could imagine, just by showing up in your He promised He would. 
Merry and joy-filled Christmas to others who find themselves in the stable,
Rob Smith

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

anticipating Christmas

The greatest excitement I have ever known came as I anticipated Christmas on Christmas Eve.  My parents put up the tree after we went to bed, decorated it and then arranged all the gifts beneath and around the tree.  Stockings were stuffed and hung on the fireplace too.  When my sisters and I awoke and came downstairs, the house had been transformed and we were in awe and wonder.  It wasn't hard to believe in Santa when that was our experience as youngsters.  The greatest fulfillment I have had as an adult was when I realized that God is real and that He wanted to personally lift my burdens and dwell in my heart.  The day I accepted Jesus as my savior I was transformed and my heart was filled with awe and wonder as I became aware of His presence.  This morning it occurred to me that we have the daily opportunity of "anticipating Christmas" as we await Jesus' return.  No one knows when that might could be today.  In another sense, we anticipate Jesus' showing up each day in the midst of our thoughts, our problems, our family, our work...our individual lives.  He has promised never to leave's a thrill to look for His presence today!  It is Christmas Eve and we are anticipating Christmas tomorrow.  But we can anticipate Christ every day.
Song of Solomon (Message version)  6:11-12
One day I went strolling through the orchard,
   looking for signs of spring,
Looking for buds about to burst into flower,
   anticipating readiness, ripeness.
Before I knew it my heart was raptured,
   carried away by lofty thoughts!
Rob Smith


This is the time of year when many of us catch some kind of cold or flu virus.  I'm not sure why this happens every winter.  Unfortunately, these bugs can show up at the worst times over the holidays.  About a week ago, my computer caught a virus.  Just like the human sickness, this computer virus was contracted in some mysterious way.  I must have clicked on something that triggered the intruder to get into my operating system.  My computer virus was clever.  It had the appearance of a computer security service and announced that I had a number of other "bugs" that needed to be eliminated if I would only buy their service.  It was obvious that this was an unwanted visitor and I had no interest in paying for the service...but I had a very hard time finding and eliminating the intruder.  Every few minutes, as I tried to do real work on my computer, an unwanted sales pitch would pop up.  It was very distracting and I was beginning to feel very ill.  Fortunately we know a skilled computer professsional who was able to log on to my computer from long distance.  He diagnosed the computer illness and eliminated it because he had the know-how.  I think the worst part of the virus were all the unknowns:  "How did I get it?", "How can I get rid of it?", "What other damage might this cause?"  I thought about other problems that come my way in life.  Often I don't know why they have surfaced.  I may have done the wrong thing, but I'm not always clear what that was.  There is a good chance that I don't know how to solve the problem and there may be much frustration, as a result.  Fortunately I know a skilled eternal companion who can look into my personal operating system, identify the bug and eliminate it.  It's likely that there will be a lesson or two associated with the whole process as well. 

Psalm 6:2 Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am weak;
         O LORD, heal me, for my bones are troubled.

Rob Smith

Monday, December 22, 2008

flying through woods

On a walk yesterday afternoon I spied several large black birds, possibly crows, fly one at a time into dense woods.  They moved unhesitatingly through thickly placed trees without striking a branch and I marvelled at their ability to see and to fly with such skill.  I am amazed to consider the flight of birds, anyway.  These are creatures fashioned to move in harmony with the wind and air, which is an apt analogy for the Christian who seeks to walk in the heavenly wind of the Holy Spirit.  But I was doubly amazed to consider the design of these birds that allowed them to command the air and to negotiate a forest simultaneously.  I suppose this is a picture of our daily life.  We need vision and we need moment-by-moment guidance to "fly" through the day and to maneuver with confidence past obstacles that surround us like a pine forest.  With the Lord, I can fly above the pull of the earth and with the Lord I can move through a dense woods full of issues and challenges.  With the Lord I am like a large bird flying confidently through a forest.

Job 12:7 (The Message version)  7-12 "But ask the animals what they think—let them teach you; let the birds tell you what's going on. Put your ear to the earth—learn the basics.   Listen—the fish in the ocean will tell you their stories.  Isn't it clear that they all know and agree that God is sovereign, that he holds all things in his hand—"

Rob Smith

Saturday, December 20, 2008

the upward look

This morning I viewed the breaking dawn as the soft pinks and orange tints of a newborn day reflected off broken banks of light gray clouds.  It occurred to me that the beauty was increased by the clouds.  I suppose we do need some clouds...  I considered the awesome spectacle that God recreates on a daily basis as He brings light, once again, to us.  He fashioned our world in such a way that the upward view is ever changing and ever fascinating.  Mystery and wonder are in the skies and even weather patterns defy absolute prediction.  By way of contrast, I reflected on the view of earth from space.  From space the view of earth becomes a well defined focal point.  It is beautiful, but the blackness of space is the dominant reality and there is no day there where dark becomes light on a regular basis.  From the sky we receive our cue to fresh starts every 24 hours, our months are marked by the rotation of the moon every 30 days and our year coincides with one trip around the sun.  The earth makes sense as a dwelling place for man because of its relationship with the great celestial bodies above.  And so the Lord is the apt dwelling place for man spiritually because of our relationship with Him.  It is our view of the Lord, like our view of the skies, that is full of wonder and mystery and yet full of meaning as well.  We are earth dwellers with vital heavenly ties.

Job 26:5(the Message) He spreads the skies over unformed space, hangs the earth out in empty space. He pours water into cumulus cloud-bags and the bags don't burst. He makes the moon wax and wane, putting it through its phases. He draws the horizon out over the ocean, sets a boundary between light and darkness.

Rob Smith

Friday, December 19, 2008

mission over man

I was watching one of the enormous battle scenes from the "Lord of the Rings" movie series the other night with my daughter.  Before the fight began the "good guys" knew that there would be many casualties.  In fact, the king acknowledged that they had very little chance of winning, but that they would ride into the fight anyhow.  It was their only hope.  Then last night I watched a World War II movie called "U-571".  The dramatic victory for the good guys in that story came when a young sailor sacrificed his life intentionally to turn one last valve and permit his submarine to fire the torpedo that saved his shipmates.  It occurred to me that the only way victory is possible in the difficult fights is when "mission" becomes more important than our individual lives and we see beyond our personal safety.  We have a great mission as children of the Lord.  We are truly wrapped up in the great battle of the ages...right vs. wrong, eternal life vs. death, the forces of God vs. the forces of Satan, light vs. darkness in our culture.  Perhaps it is also true that we must capture a vision of our mission...a mission that is bigger than our individual lives and a mission that was chartered by the Captain of Life when He laid down His own life.  Perhaps once that mission becomes dearer than our lives we will give our lives to it.  The mission is greater than any man and yet the mission calls for ordinary people like you and me!

Deuteronomy 20:1 "When you go out to battle against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the LORD your God is with you, who brought you up from the land of Egypt."

Rob Smith

Thursday, December 18, 2008


There are many reasons why we look forward to Christmas and to the joys of the holiday season.  Once you get past the important spiritual aspects, you begin to appreciate all the great food and treats that emerge at gatherings of friends and family.  In fact, I've just about decided that it isn't healthy to go through a day without some exposure to chocolate (even beyond the holidays).  When we were young, we learned about the basic food groups: milk, meat, bread, vegetables and fruits.  We were taught about eating from each of these groups daily for good health and strength.  For some reason they neglected to include chocolate...but I would submit that it qualifies as a food group.  The thing about chocolate is that not only does it have some degree of nutritional benefit (we won't quibble about how much).  It also makes you feel good and can lift your spirits with even a small taste.  I suppose that led me to a parallel thought that we need to feed our minds and our souls with food that not only satisfies...but that delights.  If our soul is satisfied, we will tend to come back for more.  Perhaps that's one reason that a taste of God's Word enhances each day (something like chocolate....even better).

Isaiah 55: 1 "Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
      Come to the waters;
      And you who have no money,
      Come, buy and eat.
      Yes, come, buy wine and milk
      Without money and without price.
       2 Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
      And your wages for what does not satisfy?
      Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
      And let your soul delight itself in abundance.

Rob Smith

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Virtual reality

With the arrival of the internet, a new phenomena also arrived.  It has been called "virtual reality" or sort of a parallel reality.  Virtual reality allows you to go places and meet people without actually going anywhere or actually being in anyone's presence.  On the one hand, this expands our ability to interact and to "travel", but on the other hand it allows us to "hide" from the real experience of being in the presence of others and to enjoy the benefits that go with the expense and time commitment of real travel.  Sometimes I think that, as Christians, we settle for a "virtual reality" when it comes to our spiritual lives.  We may content ourselves with hearing about the Lord rather than personally hearing from Him.  We may be aware that there are great needs in the world for the Gospel but we may reason that those needs will be met by others who are more spiritual.  We may have heard many times that God loves us, cares for us and has a plan for us but we may not have approached Him nearly enough to enter that love, feel that care or experience that plan.  It's important that we not confuse spiritual reality with virtual reality.  The best things in life may be invisible, but very real, nonetheless.

John 8: 31-32 Then Jesus turned to the Jews who had claimed to believe in him. "If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure. Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you."

Rob Smith

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

to sin is human

Remember that familiar saying, "to err is human, to forgive divine"?  This morning I was reflecting on sin...and how "to sin is human, to forgive divine." (not your typical early morning thoughts!).  It occurred to me that there is one inescapable reality, there are four consequences, and one preventive remedy for sin.  The inescapable reality is that each of us will sin.  It is in our nature to do that, even though the Lord has made payment already for the penalty...we still will blow it.  The tendency to sin has infiltrated our fabric and we may even surprise ourselves...but each of us will fall short of God's best from time to time.  There are four kinds of damage that sin causes.  First there is the direct damage of the sin, itself.  Second there is relationship damage with others as a collateral kind of damage.  Third, there is a break in your relationship with God and fourth there is damage to your relationship with yourself.  I think the last one is most interesting, because as you seek to recover from sin you have to begin with yourself.  One mistake I think many of us make is to "beat ourselves up" when we sin.  Naturally we're disappointed in ourselves, but if we just beat ourselves up we don't open up our understanding to learn from the sin.  After all, it was our "self" that blew it to begin with.  How can we hope to improve things by pummeling that same "self"?  No the healing has to begin with forgiveness.  We need to confess that we have blown it to God and to those we've wronged and acknowledge our human failure and then we are in a position to be restored in the broken relationships, to heal spiritually, and to learn a lesson that we can apply and grow from.  One preventive remedy is found in Psalm 119, verse 11 "Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You"  To the extent that God's thoughts reside within our thoughts we have a greater resilience and resistance to sin.  I believe that, even in the sin and recovery process, there is hope for spiritual growth.

Rob Smith

Monday, December 15, 2008

keepers of the light

I have been reminded recently that I am not the source of light or strength in my life.  In myself, I am really weak and prone to failure.  This morning as I set out on a jog, it occurred to me that the gift of life that allows me to run, to think, to enjoy even the basic aspects of life comes from God.  For some reason, I tend to forget that.  I often make the mistake of thinking that the strength and the life comes from within myself.  But this morning I remembered that there is One who has given our lives to us (because He gave His life for us).  Not only do I have nothing to do with the source of strength and life within, I had nothing to do with my design or my appearance on earth.  I was reminded that it's all a gift.  Why am I so presumptuous to think that, having been given life, now I must complete it with my personal wisdom and strength?  Like the keeper of a lighthouse, it's my honor to carry the Light and to display the Light.  But it is good to be reminded that I am not that light.  That is too much weight for anyone to carry!  It was liberating to bow before that truth.

John 1:4-5,9 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

Rob Smith

Sunday, December 14, 2008

life and hope

The other night I was visiting my daughter and son-in-law and meeting new grandson, Andrew, for the first time in the hospital.  As I approached the maternity ward, I found myself in a group of young people who were being given a tour of the hospital as they are walking through their first pregnancies.  I listened to the seasoned nurse as she briefed the couples on all the services they would expect to encounter in the delivery and newborn care process.  The nursing staff inside the ward were upbeat as they directed me to my daughter's room and I was impressed with the kindness and helpful attitude of the nurse who tended my daughter.  It occurred to me that a hospital is a place where most people are hoping to make the best of a bad situation and the hope is for healing...but the maternity ward is a different kind of place.  This is the entry gate for new little people as they make their first appearance on the planet.  It's a place that represents optimism and hope.  It's refreshing to realize that in maternity wards all over the world God is repeatedly showing that He continues to hold out the marvelous gift of life and the awesome potential of new life for new generations of people.  So, while it can become possible for some of us to grow weary of life's battles and feel a bit beaten down by its storms and trials, we also can take heart that the God of Life is still very much in the business of creation, growth and restoration (that all begins anew with each tiny baby).

Matthew 2:1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him."

blessings (with thanks for that very special Christmas baby),
Rob Smith

Thursday, December 11, 2008

early Christmas present

Yesterday morning Andrew Kolbe Cook made his earthly arrival.  Our second grandson decided to come a little early...he didn't want to miss the Christmas celebration!  Actually they needed to bring him into the world a little before the full term due to some pregnancy complications.  So he faced two adjustments to plan already in his life: learning to adapt to schedule changes and finding alternative solutions to life's issues.  I was fascinated to learn that he has a little bit of a challenge with breathing because of these changes.  If he could have arrived on time, his lungs would have been a little farther along and if he'd been delivered through the birth canal, the pressure would have cleared fluid from his lungs as well.  I thought it was interesting that the trauma of birth also has positive developmental impact.  Andrew is a fighter and working hard to breathe.  He's begun the battles of life.  I suppose the thought that struck me is that, as difficult and painful as labor and delivery are, God has designed purpose into every aspect of the process.  And so it is true for us that the challenges and trials that come our way may develop our spiritual "breathing" and squeeze us in all the right places to aid our development.

James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Rob Smith

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

spiritual gifts

Spiritual gifts can be a controversial topic.  But there is one spiritual gift that doesn't get enough coverage in my opinion.  That is the spiritual gift that we can offer to the Lord.  As Christmas approaches there is a lot of attention on gift giving and gift receiving.  Family members focus in on what other family members would enjoy opening under the tree.  It occurred to me that the Lord probably will be most delighted by the same gift offered sincerely by all who feel moved to do so.  If we were to picture the gift we could make to the Lord that would most please Him, I think it would have to be the gift of "ourselves".  We wouldn't be pleased if we were given the same sweater or pair of socks each year, but somehow I think the Lord never tires of receiving more of us each year.  Really, I don't think there is anything else that I can give our Lord than to give back to Him what He's already given to me.  I suspect that He won't mind if we go ahead and unwrap our hearts and lift them up to Him this Christmas.
Mark 12:33 "And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices."
Rob Smith

Monday, December 8, 2008

as good as it gets

It occurred to me this morning as I walked in the crisp December air and thought about the Lord: "It doesn't get much better than this".  In one sense it's just another Monday...the start of another work week, with a familiar set of concerns from job and family.  But in another sense I realized that I start this day in the company of the God of the Universe.  His Spirit lives within and I have the benefit of His help and guidance.  Although I may have many unanswered questions and although I may not have a clue as to the future, there is absolute rest knowing I'm secure in the One who has the answers and holds time in His hands.  I realized that Jesus faithfully went to the cross on my behalf so that I could experience this ordinary Monday in close relationship with Him and His father.  So, although this is an ordinary weekday in one another sense it just doesn't get any better!
1 Timothy 6:6-7 Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
Rob Smith

Saturday, December 6, 2008

all wood

I'm a low key car enthusiast and enjoy scanning through car magazines.  An issue came this week of one the magazines with a fascinating article.  It seems that a young industrial design student at North Carolina State University decided to see how far he could go using wood to build a high performance car for his master's thesis.  He has progressed pretty far in the project and has developed fascinating new methods of creating wood fiber cloth (something like fiberglass) for the skin of the car.  One quote from the article seems to capture the heart of this challenge: "Imagination is the principal element in the project".  The student has used wood for most of the steering system, some of the springs and suspension...even the spokes of the wheels are wood.  The seats are made of wicker!
The spiritual parallel that strikes me is the challenge we have of bringing as much of the Lord as we can into the fabric of our lives.  The car design student has a passion for the natural strengths of wood and is eager to bring wood to all of his new car.  We might be motivated in a similar way to take our passion for God and find new ways of allowing Him into more and more of our personal makeup.  A wooden car makes a striking statement about a new ways to think about wood and to think about cars.  The lover of Christ can make a striking statement about new ways to think about God and to think about life.
1 Chronicles 22:15 "Moreover there are workmen with you in abundance: woodsmen and stonecutters, and all types of skillful men for every kind of work. 16 Of gold and silver and bronze and iron there is no limit. Arise and begin working, and the LORD be with you." 
blessings (from one project under construction to another),
Rob Smith 

Thursday, December 4, 2008

"By all means"

The other day I heard myself say to a coworker, "By all means" as a signal to go ahead and take action on something.  As soon as I said it I had a flashback to my Dad.  This was one of his favorite phrases and I always liked the positive feeling it gave to an activity.  Dad has been gone for about 12 years but this was one reminder that his imprint was placed deep within during the "growing up" years.  My Dad was certainly my hero.  I thought he was the smartest guy in the world and I knew that he loved me.  Of course this makes me think of our Heavenly Father.  He has placed His imprint deep within as well and many of His marvelous phrases give hope and help and health as we trudge through life.  When I was young the greatest joys I knew came from my father's praise, when I'd pleased him.  I hope to have the same attitude toward my Heavenly Father..."By all means".

Psalm 103: 13 Just as a father has compassion on his children,
         So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.

Rob Smith

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

shooting star

This morning, as I jogged before dawn, I spotted a "shooting star" briefly streak across the sky ahead.  I thought about that chunk of stone from space that may have been traveling for years..even centuries or more..without difficulty until it reached earth's gravitational pull and the friction of its atmosphere.  I thought about the difficulty that spaceships have reentering earth's atmosphere.  Apparently scientists studied meteorites that survived the fall to earth to determine how they made it.  They found that, while the outer part of the rock had burned away, the core had remained cool.  The outer rock burned up but the inner part had been insulated.  When applications were developed for spaceflight they found that a blunt surface was more effective to dissipate heat than a sharp, aerodynamic one.  Apparently the blunt surface slowed the vehicle down and didn't permit the friction to develop as much heat...and they alternated layers of very hard material with good insulating material to keep the heat away from the interior of the vehicle.  It occurs that, just as reentry from space is a challenge, so is entrance into the Kingdom of God.  Left to ourselves we'd burn up in an instant as we try on our own strength to make it.  It would appear from space that it would be an easy thing to just fly in and land on the planet.  But Heaven has an atmosphere too.  The only shield that can blunt that heat and absorb its intensity is the one provided by Jesus.  In a sense this illustrates the "one way" to salvation we have in Him, despite appearances of a broad entry.  By faith we grasp the need for Jesus to be our heat shield and protector as we move into Heaven's atmosphere.

2 Samuel 22:31 As for God, His way is perfect;
      The word of the LORD is proven;
      He is a shield to all who trust in Him.

 32 "For who is God, except the LORD?
      And who is a rock, except our God?


Rob Smith

Monday, December 1, 2008

"Eyes in the boat"

When I was a plebe at the Naval Academy there were a number of disciplines we had to follow, many of which seemed silly.  One example was that we had to "chop" or jog down the center of the hall of our dormitory and square all corners when we turned, shouting "Go Navy", "Beat Army" on alternate turns.  When we were in ranks, marching, or sitting at the dinner table we had to keep our eyes and head straight ahead.  If we turned our head or our gaze an upper classmen would scold us and say, "Keep your eyes in the boat"! get us to return our "straight-ahead" view.  I was thinking some more about keeping my eyes on the Lord this morning.  I realize that problems, circumstances, and just plain daily living make it impossible to absolutely keep my focus on the Lord all the I think the key is returning our gaze to Him whenever it is moved off center.  The scripture that came to mind was: Isaiah 26:3 You will keep him in perfect peace,
                                Whose mind is stayed on You,
                                Because he trusts in You.
I realized that our need for help should cause us to come to the Lord and trust Him to meet that need.  He then can meet that need and provide the help we turned to Him for.  Perhaps, more importantly, the result is complete and perfect peace in our hearts as a result of leaning in the Lord rather than ourselves.
I'm going to try to keep bringing my mind back to the Lord today and to depend on Him...because my greatest need is that "perfect peace".

Rob Smith

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Yesterday I had a minor car accident.  I rarely have been involved in car accidents but I set myself up with a poor choice of "focus".  I was on the cell phone with a family member discussing a problem that I had unintentionally caused.  I found my pride, my mind and my total focus drawn into the conversation...the next thing I knew I heard a "thump" and I realized that I'd hit the car in front of me at a stop sign!  The cell phone went flying, along with a full cup of soda.  I pulled ahead and walked back to the car I'd hit.  Fortunately there was virtually no damage to his bumper and no one was hurt.  The other driver was very kind.  My car suffered damage to the front bumper...which I had just had repaired from clipping my garage recently.  I've "replayed the tape" a number of times now in my mind and have come to the following conclusions: (1) talking on the cell phone requires a lot of concentration and focus by itself and (2) when we're discussing a problem that we're personally involved in our pride and emotions are involved and this also commands our focus and (3) driving a car requires and demands total focus to ensure safe travel.  I suppose my spiritual thought has to do with my focus on the Lord.  I have found that when I am busy with many activities it is hard to really consider the Lord, or to listen to Him.  And life is busy by its very nature.  I can't even jog and focus properly on body wants my attention too.  But if I slow down and look up and listen and then look in and give Him my focus, I can feel His presence, learn from Him and hopefully avoid accidents! (By the way, my cell phone will be off in the car from now on!)

Matthew 6: 6 "Here's what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace."

Rob Smith

Saturday, November 29, 2008


I was thinking about the word "trust" this morning.  Our coins say "In God We Trust".  I was reflecting on how important trust is.  Recently people have lost trust in many formerly trustworthy institutions, like big insurance and banking companies and large manufacturing names, like GM and Ford.  Banks have lost trust in the people and businesses that have borrowed money and are reluctant to loan to others.  When things that have always been dependable suddenly lose their dependability, it is very unsettling.  Because none of us controls our world, we must trust forces that are bigger than we are and that are beyond our control.  Really there are very few things that we can absolutely trust to happen, be there or hold up under every circumstance.  (To be perfectly honest, sometimes we can't even trust ourselves to be or do what we ought).  There really is only one name who can be counted on...who has never let anyone down and who always tells the truth.  I am so glad that our Lord is a rock of reliability.  That's something we all can count on!

Psalm 9:10 And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You.

Rob Smith

Thursday, November 27, 2008

magnet love

It's a beautiful Thanksgiving morning.  After going for a jog, I was focusing thoughts on the Lord and wanting to really feel His presence.  It occurred to me that loving God is something like the way a magnet attracts iron filings.  When a magnet is placed on a table with iron filings a few feet away there is no effect.  As the magnet approaches the filings they leap on the magnet well before the magnet reaches the filings.  There is a force field that is invisible but very real that lies around the magnet.  The iron filings have a built-in affinity for the magnet but there is no movement until the magnet and the filings are within the same force field.  We also have an affinity for our Lord...just like the filings.  If we allow the Lord close enough to our thoughts, to our hearts, to our dreams...we will fly to him and we will experience Him in those thoughts, hearts and dreams.

James 4: 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

blessings and thanks,
Rob Smith

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Black Friday

For some reason the term "Black Friday" never made an impression on me till this year.  It is, of course, the Friday following Thanksgiving and it represents the unofficial start of Christmas shopping season.  I was intrigued with the name since it carries a heaviness that seems out of synch with the Christmas season.  Apparently the name is traced to Philadelphia in the mid 1960's when police were quoted pessimistically in the newspapers and referred to the traffic jams, crowds and confusion of the day after Thanksgiving as a dark and difficult day.  They may have been making an historical allusion to Black Tuesday (marking the stock market crash of 1929).  Some say the term describes the concept that businesses that have been running in the red all year, finally move into the "black" or profitable side as Christmas shoppers spend.  I suppose, in that sense, it might be also be considered "Green Friday", as cash flows freely (or maybe "Plastic Friday").   It is a polarizing kind of day as vast crowds compete for the most popular electronic gadgets and toys and another quieter crowd chooses to avoid the shopping scene and stay home to make turkey sandwiches.  I'm glad that Thanksgiving, itself, centers around family, food and football...and more importantly the giving of thanks to our wonderful Lord and our Savior, Jesus Christ.  We may give HIm thanks, but we'll never out-give His love for us!

Psalm 26:6b So I will go about Your altar, O LORD,
 7 That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving,
         And tell of all Your wondrous works.
 8 LORD, I have loved the habitation of Your house,
         And the place where Your glory dwells.

blessings, with thanks
Rob Smith

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Interstate Jesus

Yesterday I described the interstate highway near my house.  I took another look this morning, from beneath the bridge that forms the overpass nearby.  When you drive over this very short stretch of the highway you probably don't even notice that you are on a probably only takes a second or two to cross at highway speed.  But looking at the highway from beneath you get a different picture of the work required to build the bridge to form the highway above.  Massive concrete pillars and beams had been installed to hold up a section of steel bridge that stretches about 100 feet long.  Before the pillars could be installed a lot of earth-moving had taken place to create the proper slopes and drain paths for water flowing off the highway.  Altogether, I'm sure that thousands of manhours went into the design and construction of a bridge that few, if any, notice when traveling above.  It made me think of the work the Lord has done to build the bridge to life in Jesus.  We travel that road because of the great work done to make crooked places straight and build the dependable foundations of our faith...and because of the obedience and faithfulness of our Savior.  Because He laid the groundwork, I travel the road that is Jesus, in peace.

Isaiah 35:8 A highway shall be there, and a road,
      And it shall be called the Highway of Holiness.
      The unclean shall not pass over it,
      But it shall be for others.
      Whoever walks the road, although a fool,
      Shall not go astray.

Rob Smith

Monday, November 24, 2008

"well defined" is the way

The interstate highway is walking distance away from my house.  This morning I jogged under it in one direction and walked under on the way back (on a road passing underneath).  Viewed from below, the highway isn't as impressive as the view from the cars travelling on the highway.  I paced off the width of each span and they appear to be about 60 feet across.  Although it was early..about 6:30 am, many cars and trucks were already rumbling overhead.  It occurred to me that each day thousands of passenger cars, commercial trucks and semi-tractor trailers travel east and west on that narrow ribbon.  If that small section I walked under were taken out, thousands of commuters would be delayed, delivery trucks would fail to make schedules and folks headed out for holiday vacations would be frustrated.  I thought in a new way of Jesus' words when He said in Matthew 7, verse 13  "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it."  I realized that another way of looking at "narrow" is "well defined".  Just as surely as folks who want to go to Norfolk from Williamsburg will wander in frustration if they leave Interstate 64, so will we be frustrated who want to find our ultimate purpose and the ultimate destination in the Lord, if we don't find the "well-defined" and clearly mapped interstate highway of Christ. Of course, it isn't enough to locate the highway...we must get up to speed and merge ...and actually travel the road.  So I think I'll leave looking up at the road and get on it this morning.  I hope you'll join me.

Rob Smith

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Where night meets day

There is one brief period of time during each 24 hour cycle when night meets day.  I was outside this morning to see that event.  The blackness of a clear night sky was adorned with an "earring-like" moon.  In a matter of several minutes a line of flaming color spread horizontally across the lower sky of the east.  For a brief period it seemed that night and day competed for domination of the heavens...but the strength of the sun would not be denied and light displaced replaced night.  I thought of the parallel with our lives.  There is a time during our lives when spiritual night can meet spiritual day.  Even in the darkness of our spiritual separation from God, He is still there...just as the moon marks the night...showing the reflection of a waiting Lord just as the moon shows the light of the coming sun.  That brief time when night competes with day is a memorable one in our lives, but when we recognize the transforming power of the great light of eternity we gladly allow that brilliance into our hearts and are amazed at the difference life holds as night retreats from our lives.  But, over time, we may become so used to living with light that we forget the source and miss the opportunities revealed by His daylight.  There are even times when we choose to return to the shadowy activity of night.  I suppose that is why it is good to remember that time in our lives when the radiance of a new day chased darkness away and warmed our hearts.  We are forever changed by that dawn.
2 Peter 1:19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts;
Rob Smith

Saturday, November 22, 2008

the God out there

On my walk this morning I spied two young deer scampering through the woods...apparently playing.  It occurred to me that they must have been unaware that the world is in the midst of a great financial and economic crisis.  It doesn't seem to have affected them!  It is a very cold morning, the kind of cold that makes you wish you'd worn a hat because even your skull feels cold.  But as the brilliant sun rose above the trees and I felt that the Lord and I were making eye contact I was reminded of one of the greatest miracles of all:  The God 'out there' can be the God 'in here'.  Too often my concept of God is just that..a concept.  I allow Him to be distant and somehow uninvolved in my inner person.  I suppose that's why I don't always experience a sense of inner security or rest.  So I asked the Lord to come in and warm me up with Himself, and He did.  When we feel like something is missing, it probably is...only it's not some-thing, it's some-one.  Apparently we were designed to include God in our minds, our thoughts, our concerns and dreams...even our fears (maybe especially our fears).  Yes, He is the great God of the Universe.  He also is the amazing God who can fill our inner person just as He's fashioned our outer world.  Perhaps, if we cultivate this closeness we'll be able to scamper like the deer through the woods, despite the problems of the outer world.

Ephesians 3:16-19 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Rob Smith

Friday, November 21, 2008

Near and far

I spend almost my entire work day peering into a computer screen.  This is my window on work and the world.  The computer makes it possible to obtain information and carry out many necessary tasks.  However, it occurred to me this morning that I spend most of my day looking at something that is less than three feet away!  Every so often I need to look out the window and focus on a cloud, a bird or something else farther away than three feet.  I'm sure that it is healthy for our eyes to shift our focus from the "near" to the "far".  Having a focus spiritually that moves out to Heaven and the eternity that lies beyond our lives may also help counterbalance and give perspective to daily living, where it can seem that we're always looking "three feet away".   Perhaps this is why it is so important to have it 'established' in our hearts that we are the Lord's and the Lord is ours...and that the hope of Heaven is absolutely certain.  If we carry the greatest hope in our hearts then the problems of daily living look a little smaller.  I suppose that is why it is important to shift our vision to Heaven frequently during the day.

Ecclesiastes 3:9 What profit has the worker from that in which he labors? 10 I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. 12 I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, 13 and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.

Rob Smith

Thursday, November 20, 2008

designed for a load

I'll never forget how much fun it was to drive a compact pickup truck.  For nine years one of those trusty vehicles was my transportation provider as I commuted to the shipyard in Newport News.  It was so practical because on weekends I could haul a load of mulch and deliver my trash to the landfill.  I remember squeezing my girls in and zipping over to the elementary school to the playground.  One thing I noticed is that the truck actually handled better and rode smoother when I was carrying a load.  I realized that the truck was basically a work vehicle and the springs and suspension were designed to operate under load.  The ironic thing is that I rarely carried the load it was built to haul.  It occurred to me that we are also designed to carry a load.  The Lord has saved us, who have invited Jesus into our lives, to be "pickup trucks for Him".  We find that the quality of our personal devotions, the extent of our personal growth and the sense of life satisfaction are greatest when we He is at the wheel and we are carrying precious cargo He has placed in our lives.  Just like the pickup truck, we handle better under a proper load.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Rob Smith

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

the upside of the downside

No doubt about it...we are in one of the biggest financial fiascos of the past century.  Mighty companies have crumbled under weak foundations of poor credit, the entire globe has seen the flow of money slow to a drip, unemployment is reaching levels unseen for years and personal investments and retirement accounts have dramatically dipped.  That's a lot of bad news.  This morning it occurred to me that there is some good news buried in there.  In a natural sense there will be reduction of inappropriate loans, an increase in saving versus credit spending and home prices may come down to the affordable range for many.  In a spiritual sense, when we see our earthly wealth diminish we may invest more in spiritual riches.  The problems, questions, needs and crises that spin out of this situation will cause many to turn to the Lord...some for the first time and many who may have given Him scant attention in recent years.  We may learn that we need to depend more on our heavenly portfolio than our earthly one.  In fact, we may discover that the only dependable treasure and the only investment that returns eternal benefit, heart peace and relationship growth is the one we make with our Heavenly Father.  I think of the words of John the Baptist in the book of John, chapter 3: verses 30-31 He must increase, but I must decrease.  He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.
Perhaps it is necessary sometimes that we get a "cut back" in order for more healthy growth to begin!  (There is growing opportunity to show our love for one another as well, who are going through difficulties)

Rob Smith

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


After a good night's sleep last night, I have just enjoyed a refreshing walk in freezing temperatures and viewed the sun's awakening over a field...very beautiful.  As I stood there, it occurred to me that I was resting in the Lord.  I thought about "rest" and realized that rest happens on different levels.  There is the physical level that a peaceful sleep can bring.  There also is a rest that we can find in our minds, our emotions and deeply within our spiritual nature.  I realized that it is possible to experience rest in some, but not all, of these levels.  This morning, as I enjoyed being outdoors with the Lord, I allowed my mind, emotions and spirit to all join the rest I'd just experienced from my night of sleep.  My challenge today is to walk in rest in the midst of activity and unrest.  I know that I can't bring this peace to myself...I must "rest" the weight of my troubles, problems and interests on Him.  When His power rests on me then I will have 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.

2 Corinthians 12:9 And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Rob Smith

Monday, November 17, 2008

Coming Attractions

When you go to the movies you look forward with anticipation to a great experience.  You have heard about a story that has been made into film and you're curious to find out of the reality of the movie matches up to your anticipation of it.  If it is a popular movie you need to plan to arrive early, to make sure good seats are available.  When you get there early you always have to wait through a seemingly endless succession of preview clips for other movies, soon to be released.  When my wife and I go to the movies and watch these clips we'll usually turn to each other and give a "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" after each one to indicate whether it looks like a show we'd like to spend money to see, based on the short preview.  This morning it occurred to me that, in a sense, all of our natural days on the planet are like one of those previews of a great show that is yet to be released to us.  We know, in our heads, that everything our eyes can see has been formed our of earthly ingredients, marvelously fashioned to give beauty and life.  Yet, we can also say that everything our eyes can see will ultimately disappear...from the trees outside our windows, to the squirrels prancing across the forest floor.  Even the more substantial things, like rocks, mountains and the blue sky above will ultimately run their course and be no more.  In that sense, then, we can see that all of our lives on Earth must be a preview...a taste...of life in a place that is permanent.  Well, if that's the case, then I can begin to look for "coming attractions of heaven" in the things I see and the experiences I have while still here.  It seems that the Lord has allowed us to get to the theater early, so we wouldn't miss this great preview.  I'm confident He's eager for more folks to come to the show and there are plenty of good seats left.

2 Peter 1: 16-18 (The Message version) We weren't, you know, just wishing on a star when we laid the facts out before you regarding the powerful return of our Master, Jesus Christ. We were there for the preview! We saw it with our own eyes: Jesus resplendent with light from God the Father as the voice of Majestic Glory spoke: "This is my Son, marked by my love, focus of all my delight." We were there on the holy mountain with him. We heard the voice out of heaven with our very own ears.

blessings (see you at the show!)
Rob Smith

Sunday, November 16, 2008

water, blood and oil

There are a few fluids that are striking in their impact in the world.  It occurred to me that three of these are water, blood and oil.  They all have a great deal to do with life as we know it.  We need water to maintain our bodies; to clean the outside and to vitalize our body functions within.  The great oceans connect us with the world and also separate us from the world. We emerge from water baptism as new creatures.  Blood is the life carrier.  It's bright crimson color is a striking reminder of its central role carrying life throughout our bodies.  We trust in the blood of Jesus that was shed to bring us new life.  Oil is the lifeblood of the world.  It provides energy for transportation, manufacturing and comfort.  Oil was used to anoint folks for healing and represents the presence of the Holy Spirit.  Economies and world politics turn on the control of oil.  There are times when oil seems to be the most important of these liquids.  It is not an exaggeration to say that many people cross oceans and shed their blood because of the importance we attach to oil.  Water, blood and oil. It's good to remember that each is vital to life in a natural and spiritual sense.

Ezekiel 16:9 "Then I washed you in water; yes, I thoroughly washed off your blood, and I anointed you with oil."

Rob Smith

Friday, November 14, 2008

Daily walk

It occurred to me this morning that one of the great paradoxes of the Christian life is that, at the same time, we are complete in Christ and we also are a work in process.  I suppose that the completeness of Christ means that we have all we need to go on to "completeness" with His presence and help.  But as I reflected on the process of change in our lives I realized that change comes from many directions.  It can be triggered by a life crisis, or response to difficulty.  It can be thrust on us by a shift of circumstances in personal life, family or society.  But most intriguingly to me, change can come by walking with the Lord day by day, with an eye and a heart set on Him.  I think we all want to be "all we can be" for the Lord but we wonder how to get to build more of His truth into the frame of our lives.  I think one key is this:  If we want to see our lives change, we need to build change into our daily routine.  If we change even one aspect of our daily routine that causes us to walk closer to Him and we build that change into today...then tomorrow...and the next day, we'll find we are focusing more on Him than ever before.  Instead of seeing the vast need for our lives to change and getting discouraged, we can change incrementally as we make more "corners of room" available for the Lord each day.  Perhaps if we are willing to gradually change our focus on a daily basis, we'll find the big picture of our lives showing the growth we long for.

Proverbs 8:34-35 Blessed is the man who listens to me,
      Watching daily at my gates,
      Waiting at the posts of my doors.
       For whoever finds me finds life,
      And obtains favor from the LORD;

Special invitation:  If you are in the Chapel Choir or attend Williamsburg Community Chapel I'd like to warmly invite you to come to the Mini Bible College class I'm facilitating during the first service.  It works out great for choir members to come in a little late, because they still can see the video by Dick Woodward and take part in our discussion.  (several come already) Don't worry if you haven't come before.  Each week is a fresh look at God's Word and you can jump in now, or any time, without feeling like you've missed out.  We're in room 120, down the hall from the Resource Center (library) and we provide coffee!

Rob Smith

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Complete in Him

Colossians 2:6-7, 9-10 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,  rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.
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.

I suspect that we often go through our days carrying a sense that "something is missing".  When we are young, especially, and the future looms large before us, there seem to be many roads we can choose to go down.  We are confused with choices and uncertain how to proceed to find fulfillment.  Even as we grow older we wonder how we ought to live, what we should be doing and what life may hold for us as the unknown future unrolls like a carpet, giving us one day of surface to walk upon at a time.  This morning I remembered that my anchor of certainty is Jesus.  Because I yielded to Him and asked Him into my life He has come in and resided with me for quite a while.  He is a quiet guest, often, but I sense that He longs for more of my interest and attention.  I also was reminded this morning that He completes me.  When I am unsure of which direction to turn I know there is always one correct answer: to turn toward Him.  I remember that when one of our daughters was growing up she'd reach for the familiar touch of her belly button whenever she was feeling anxious or uncertain.  I need to reach for Jesus in a similar way!

Rob Smith

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

quarters in His pocket

I glanced at the change I'd been carrying in my pocket yesterday and noticed several quarters of varying age and wear.  A few of them were quite new with pictures of states on the back and the oldest dated back to 1972.  Of course they were each worth the same 25 cents, no matter when they were minted.  The new ones were shiny with the stamped images sharply etched and the old ones duller and smoother due to wear.  Admittedly, my relationship with these coins is very temporary.  They probably touch the hands of thousands of people across their lives.  Each time they change hands they fulfill their purpose and transfer worth in exchange for needs to be met.  In a sense, they must be exchanged or "lost" by the owner to be useful.  Sometimes coins are taken out of circulation.  They may have a defect that has made them very rare.  Ironically, that very flaw has only increased their value and are more highly prized by collectors.
Yes, as I considered the quarters in my pocket I realized that we are just like  quarters in the Lord's pocket.  Some of us carry more wear than others but we all have the same value stamped on us.  As we move through life we experience many relationships and interactions and we seem to really show our value in the exchanges of life.  Some of us have handicaps or disabilities that may seem limitations...but in the Lord's eyes add a special worth.

Luke 15:8 "Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!' 10 Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

Rob Smith

Monday, November 10, 2008

the fox

This morning, as I strode through the brisk and clear air I spied a fox.  There is something about seeing a fox that seems special.  They live so much in the background and carefully avoid human contact.  When you spot one you almost feel like you have spotted a "spy" as he is in the midst of some clandestine operation.  I was surprised, upon doing a little research, to realize that foxes are members of the dog family.  They must be on the extreme introverted end of the family because most dogs I know are drawn to people like iron filings to a magnet.  Foxes often live near people but are so alert due to keen senses of hearing, smell and sight that they generally avoid detection.  They feed on small rodents, rabbits and eggs and generally work a territory of less than 3 square miles.  Unlike human beings, foxes almost always mate for life.  When the young are born, both partners tend them for about five weeks before sending them out of the den (usually an enlarged groundhog hole).  I suppose the key attribute that leads to spiritual analogy is the alertness.  I am reminded that we need to be alert to spiritual enemies, like the fox is to physical ones.  We need keen senses that go beyond the physical ones to detect the presence of temptation.  Our enemy is an invisible one who is skilled in subtly enticing us with the desirable to keep our focus away from the Divine.  I believe we can train our spiritual senses to be "fox-like" by aligning our thoughts with our Lord's thoughts.  Spending time with Him in the Word will help us avoid danger in the World.

Psalm 119:35 Make me walk in the path of Your commandments,
         For I delight in it.
 36 Incline my heart to Your testimonies,
         And not to covetousness.
 37 Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things,
         And revive me in Your way.

Rob Smith

Saturday, November 8, 2008

the courtroom of faith

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

In the courtroom of your heart has the case been won that God is real, God is true, and Jesus has paid the price for your life?  I was struck by the choice of nouns the author used under God's inspiration to define faith.  The common view of faith is somewhat diluted.  It is thought to be an ethereal confidence that might be considered synonymous with "belief".  The idea is typically presented that one might have faith in the God of Israel and another might have faith in the god of "hard work" or the ways of Eastern Meditation or faith in nothing more than oneself.  The faith of Hebrews 11:1 is a rock solid trust based on substance and evidence.  It is a faith that had its origin in Heaven rather than in our minds.  It is not a faith that is defined by traditions or habits and it is not a faith that is in any way dependent on our ability or our actions.  Faith is the umbilical cord of connection that carries the reality of the one true God to our individual experience.  Faith is born in us when we are born again, and not before.  It is only because of this connection that we can grasp God's love and that we can walk confidently in the assurance of His presence and that we can accomplish anything worth doing.  Because of faith we identify with the heroes of Hebrews 11 as people just like us. 

Hebrews 11: 6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Rob Smith

Friday, November 7, 2008

hidden beauty

Earlier this week I was babysitting my grandson Peter.  One of our many activities was coloring in a new kind of coloring book.  We took special markers and rubbed on a picture of a storybook character and, magically, other patterns and shapes appeared from the background.  This was exciting for Peter.  He kept saying: "What's turning up?" as we rubbed our markers and began to see the forms emerging.  This morning, on my walk, I was struck by the brilliant reds and oranges of some of the trees.  It occurred to me that I would never have noticed these trees, individually, in the summer when they were green.  Now, as the leaves approach their demise, they cause their parent trees to be distinguished.  The thought occurs that, in our lives the picture begins to take shape as the events that test us rub and display the picture God has placed within us.  We can take heart that, even as we grow older and out of the "green" of our summer days there will be a beauty that is directly associated with, and appropriate for, the latter seasons.  Hopefully others will be drawn to the tree that has produced the color.

2 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Rob Smith

Thursday, November 6, 2008

the Initiator

1 John 4:19 We love Him because He first loved us.
It struck me this morning that it is not so much that "we come to God" as "He comes to us".  Just as He came first to build this material world that we live in, so He comes to build our inner spiritual world as well.  Just as He established a Nation to demonstrate His nature and to form the lineage of His Son, so He has spawned a spiritual nation of believers who also descend from Abraham.  He even came to earth to live among us in the flesh to show His reality and to open a path back to Himself.  Time and again His people from the Old Testament, New Testament and following times have turned from Him, but He has initiated the recovery with spiritual discipline and inner conviction by the Holy Spirit that He also sent to help us.  I'm convinced that we don't naturally come to God.  Fortunately He, supernaturally, comes to us.  I was reminded that faith is an arrow that has its bow in heaven.  We had no interest in Him until He pierced our hearts with the Truth of His reality and of His plan to save us that He might know us.  When we are born again after we have been born of the flesh it is because the God who loves us has become our Father personally.  Our new conception is one of faith that has germinated from His loving outreach.  Our awakened faith is nothing short of a miracle, and we live within that miracle.  We hope to be a part of the great Initiator's plan to bring that miracle to others!
Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
Rob Smith

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

They have no names

Who will be your friend, when they cannot call your name?
Who will hear your cry and who can share your pain?
When all have turned away who will come to take you home?
When no one has seen your auburn hair or the sparkle in your eyes,
When the sidewalk hasn't felt your skip and the summer air caught your laugh,
Who will miss you, little one...after all you have no name...

You didn't feel the winter chill or squint at morning sun,
You didn't frown at eating peas or paint your face with chocolate sauce,
You haven't filled a bag of treats on October's final day,
You didn't have your photo shot with Santa in the mall,
You won't squirm in first grade desks or play with dolls or ball...

Some would say you didn't never have been seen,
But we know differently who sense the presence of our Lord,
the author of all living things made you and received you home,
You may not have a name to us but with Him you're not alone.

blessings to all the little ones who haven't breathed earth's air,
Rob Smith

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Importance of the path

Recently, my wife and I were led on a hike by our two nephews in Colorado.  We wound our way up a moutain named "Flattop" in the Rocky Mountain National Park.  Although time didn't permit us to reach the peak, we did make it above the treeline, at about 11,500 feet and the view from there was spectacular.  This was mountain climbing in a style that we could ropes, metal devices to jam into rocks, and no "near death" experiences on narrow ledges.  We followed a well managed trail that had just enough slope to provide a decent workout.  Along the way I considered the role of the "path".  We didn't have to figure out how to get to the top of the mountain because the trail led us there...just by staying on it.  We still had plenty to think about.  Every foot placement had to be made carefully in many areas and we found ourselves looking down at the ground right in front of us more than we looked at grand views, until we neared the top.  I remembered that the Lord promised to make my "paths straight" and to be a "light to my path".  Perhaps most importantly, we learn from Psalm 16:11 that he would make known  the "path of life".  So, the path is both challenge and destination.  I had complete trust that the path would lead me up and return me to safety at the bottom even though I'd never walked there before.  Perhaps this can be summed up by John 14:6 where Jesus said to Thomas "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through me.
I see that the Path is Jesus.

Rob Smith

Friday, October 31, 2008

Daily pay

It occurred to me last night that we each receive the same wages.  We are all compensated equally and fairly.  This pay does not rise with cost of living increases, but we are guaranteed to receive it faithfully all our days.  At the beginning of each day we each receive 24 hours to invest however we choose...not 24 dollars, but 24 hours.  The time we have is very much like money.  Somehow we have gotten things reversed.  Often our focus is to use up our time to make money.  The more important truth is that we can use our time in many ways...or allow it to slip away without purpose or intent.  If we think of how we will invest our 24 hours today we may begin to consider how that time can be used to make an impact that will carry over to the heavenly dimension, beyond the economy of time.  No matter how financially rich or poor we are, we each have 24 hours to spend with capital of attitudes and efforts toward God and man.  When we are in heaven, we will see the results of our 24 hour investments!
Job 10: 5 Are Your days like the days of a mortal man?
      Are Your years like the days of a mighty man
Rob Smith

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Castle and Castle Rock

Visiting Colorado Springs recently, we had a chance to stay overnight in a castle!  The founder of Colorado Springs was a railroad magnate named General Palmer.  He was the first winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor and was a Brigadier General in the Civil War while still in his 20's.  Later he went on to become one of the early builders of the railroad that eventually crossed the continent.  He built a magnificent home and fashioned it into a castle and located it in a small valley surrounded by towering red rock outcroppings.  He named it Glen Eyrie, or Valley of the Eagles.  The Castle is now owned by the Navigators Ministry as their headquarters.  It was fascinating to tour the home and to learn the story of General Palmer and his family.  Truly he built a magnificent home and now the public can stay there as a lodging place.  Just up the highway from the Castle is a stunning and huge rock formation visible from the road.  The appearance is strikingly similar to a castle positioned atop a rocky mountain and the rock and neighboring town are know as Castle Rock.  The thought that struck me was that a man can take millions of dollars and thousands of manhours of time to construct a fabulous castle, but God fashions His castles all around us in the form of natural wonders.  We are fascinated by the story of man's castle and we are also intrigued by the hands that have sculpted castles from the rock.
Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
         And the firmament shows His handiwork.
 2 Day unto day utters speech,
         And night unto night reveals knowledge.
 3 There is no speech nor language
         Where their voice is not heard.
Rob Smith

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Encouragement from ahead

A few weeks ago we flew into Denver for a family wedding and to spend a week exploring Colorado for the first time.  The very day we arrived, we took a hike with our daughter and her girl friend up to a real glacier nestled in the mountains west of the city.  Our bodies were used to sea level living and we huffed and puffed and scrambled over loose rocks as we hiked in the 10,000 foot elevation to find our way to the glacier.  The view of the ice and of the surrounding mountains and lake below were stunning and a great introduction to the area.  I remembered constantly wondering on the way up: "When will we get there?" and "Will we make it?"  On the way back down we felt like experienced climbers when some newcomers, who were struggling as we had, asked how much farther they had to go before reaching the glacier.  It was still an unknown distance to them, but we were able to encourage them because we had just walked the same distance and could identify with the challenge.  I was reminded that one of our great gifts, as believers, is to encourage others who are struggling with issues and challenges that we have also faced.  It is the common challenges of life that can bond us in this way.
2 Corinthians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.
Rob Smith