Tuesday, April 29, 2008

waiting in line

Saturday I went to Busch Gardens with my two sisters and my Mom.  I rarely get to see my sisters because they live in Michigan.  It was such a beautiful day that half of the greater Hampton Roads area also decided to go to Busch Gardens.  We waded through flocks of like-colored and logo'd tee shirts from school, church and family groups.  I couldn't believe the security.  It had been several years since I'd last been there and it was a new experience to see "bag check" lines and to have my fingerprint recorded as I entered the park.  My sister, Donna, and I decided to go on one of the newer roller coasters.  The line was so long that it started way outside the official "line" area and the wait clock indicated a 90 minute wait.  Well we decided to hang in there anyhow.  Fortunately it only took about an hour before we strapped in for four minutes of terror and stomach-separating plunges (I actually enjoyed the ride a lot).  But as we waited, I was finally able to ask my sister how she'd come to know the Lord.  We had time to review the whole story, which had a lot to do with a severe personal illness that she'd dealt with for over 30 years.  We also talked about our kids and some of the troubles and challenges they've faced recently.  With all the activity that surrounded my sisters' visit I doubt I would have had time to have such an in depth conversation were it not for the roller coaster wait line.  The thought struck...some of our best times come when we least expect it and there is great benefit in just talking and listening with those we love.  After all, what else is there to do for an hour wait in line.
Ephesians 5:15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Rob Smith

Friday, April 25, 2008

Personality Types

The Type A and Type B personality theory (or Type A and Type B behavior pattern) divides the population of humans into two groups, based on their personality characteristics.
People who fall under Type A exhibit characteristics such as being impatient, excessively time-conscious, insecure about one's status, highly competitive, hostile and aggressive, and incapable of relaxation.  The Type B personality, in contrast, is patient, relaxed, and easy-going. They are also more creative and imaginative, inclined to self-analyze and evasive of stressful situations, and bad at coping when found therein. (from Wikipedia online dictionary)
And then there's the Type C personality that has a consistent orientation to the Lord Jesus Christ.  He has become the source of inner peace, hope, wisdom and daily guidance for this individual.  Type C individuals have come to realize that they really can't cope without a vital ongoing relationship with the living Christ!
John 15:5 "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
Rob Smith

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

becoming transparent

I was sitting at a fast food drive-through the other night and thought about the glass that separated me from the restaurant.  Through the glass I could see the food being prepared and the drinks poured.  I thought about the honesty that glass provides, allowing me to see how my food was made ready.  Glass...something solid and weather resistant but transparent.  How amazing that a solid material can allow light to pass through.  I did a little research and found that glass is transparent because of its random and loose molecular structure that permits light energy to work through "cracks" and "seams" in the material.  It also has electrons that catch light waves and pass them on, almost like relay runners do a baton.   Glass actually has many properties of liquids and gases, which also allow light to go through.  This quality is created when common sand is heated intensely and then allowed to cool, changing its very nature.
We do best when we also are transparent before the Lord.  The trials He allows to come to us as simple sand, heat us intensely and then we are cooled as we recover.  With each such experience we become a bit more transparent and the world can gradually see Jesus more clearly through us.
Colossians 1:27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Rob Smith

Approaching the king

John 18:33 Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, "Are You the King of the Jews?"
34 Jesus answered him, "Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?"
When Jesus was first questioned by Pilate, the Lord challenges him by answering a question with a question.  It is the question that we must each answer to find peace with our Lord.  Do we sincerely approach Him in heart-felt interest to seek His true identity...or will we allow the identity given Him by a culture, by a church, by other believers and nonbelievers to shape our view of Him.  Until we have reached the place where we want to know of His sovereignty for ourselves, we cannot truly know Him.  For He came to become the Ruler of hearts, eager to receive Him.  We must not allow a world that rejects, nullifies, or minimizes the authority of our Lord to paint His identity for us on a personal level.  We must go, one at a time, to His feet and behold Him with a genuine desire to know Him.  Otherwise, like Pilate, we may find ourselves in the uncomfortable position of trying to judge the Lord of the Universe instead of allowing Him to rule us.
Rob Smith

Monday, April 21, 2008

drawn to scale

Spring is, of course, lovely.  Every aspect seems optimistic (well, maybe with the exception of sinus choking pollen), from the pleasing light green of new leaves to the dogwood blossoms that seem to float on their delicate branches.  Of course, milder temperatures and longer days add to the positive feel of the season.  As I considered spring the other day on the way to work it struck me how one proof of the Creator is that we live in a world "drawn to scale".  It seems that all the living things around me are just the right proportion to one another.  Trees, birds, flowers and animals from bugs to bears all exist in sizes that make sense.  In the past I have marveled at how the apple fits our hand so perfectly.  My heart was warmed as I was reminded that we live in a world that was designed and didn't "just happen".  It gives me confidence that the one who designed it all holds me in His hands as well.
Jeremiah 27:5 'I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are on the ground, by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and have given it to whom it seemed proper to Me.
Rob Smith

Thursday, April 17, 2008

better than botox

An ad touted claims of "reversing the aging process".  They offered a cream to eliminate wrinkles and turn the years back.  I wondered if this was wise.  Do I really want to turn the years back?  There have been so many hard-won and hard-learned battles and lessons.  I feel the wrinkles and the gray hair are sort of a "campaign ribbon".  I certainly don't want to have to go through all the life-discipline and problems that helped me grow to this point.  And then it occurred to me...it's not so much that we are aging...we're "growing".  Only our body is aging.  Just as the caterpillar must shed the old body and take on wings, so we are gradually preparing to shed this earthly shell for our heavenly body.  But before we do so, there is much growth needed.  So, I don't want to reverse the aging process because that would mean reversing the growth process.  Rather, let us learn all we can and see it as preparation.  Clinging to this life really isn't the answer!
1 Corinthians 15:43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
Rob Smith

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

thinking outside the sphere

Habits and routine are great characteristics of our brain.  Familiar tasks are handled quickly, really without conscious thought, because we've done them thousands of times.  This saves a great deal of energy (Tying our shoes, finding the light switch in the dark, getting off the right exit for work, etc.).  Sometimes we let routine carry us so much that we fail to allow fresh thought and new approaches to enter and life can seem stale.  I think there is a part of our experience that does well to "reinvent" each new day.  Just as the Lord has combined marvelous routines of seasons, growth cycles, tides and phases of the moon with unique occurrences like solar eclipses and comets passing, so we need to allow the opportunity for unique and special events and opportunities in our lives.  Routine and habit should free us for fresh experiences with the Lord.  When it comes to living on this earthly globe, sometimes we need to "think outside the sphere".
Psalm 33:2 Praise the LORD with the harp;
         Make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings.
 3 Sing to Him a new song;
         Play skillfully with a shout of joy.
Rob Smith

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


How inspiring was the concert at the Chapel last night!  The Williamsburg Symphonia performed great works with such skill and the acoustics seemed perfect within the new sanctuary.  Many thoughts struck me.  I was amazed at the power of the composers to have recorded vast movements of energy..of volume and pace while blending the many various instruments to weave music like a tapestry.  Somehow all of that power and majesty has been captured on paper.  A code of notes written on lines was created by the composers many years ago.  Under the skilled guidance of the orchestras conductor and with the focused performance of highly trained musicians, the original message of the composer was brought to life and we, the listeners, were carried back to enjoy the great work intended by the music's author.  I was reminded of the parallel to God's Word.  We hold the message of the great Composer and as we read under the Holy Spirit as our conductor the marvelous truths laid down centuries ago come to life and we hear His song.
2 Kings 3:15 But now bring me a musician."
Then it happened, when the musician played, that the hand of the LORD came upon him.
Rob Smith

Monday, April 14, 2008

recognizing the strokes

It is said that great artists have unique styles that touch every aspect of their paintings.  From the selection of material, to the choice of pigment (oil or water based), to the use of light, to the subject matter and even to the nature of the painting strokes.  Trained experts can discern the difference between original works of the masters and close copies.  The novice viewer wouldn't be able to tell the difference.  This morning it struck me that I walk through a painting by the Great Master every day.  His style is reflected in the materials of nature, the colors of spring, the subject of seasons in change and His strokes of physical creation exactly reflect His Word of design.  How is it that I walk through His gallery daily and fail to recognize this great Artist?  This morning I do see Him in His work and am grateful to be included as one of His sculptures...a pot of clay still on the wheel.
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

Sunday, April 13, 2008


It occurred to me recently that I am in the "next to the oldest" generation that is living from my family. All the Smiths and Jacksons (except my Mom) that form my heritage have spent their brief span on earth and moved on.  Four generations currently are living in my family and I suppose that is typical.  Some families might have five but the thought that struck is how brief our time on the planet is.  Also, how much we depend on the lessons, lives and legacies of those who have gone before us...Surely a major role of our lives is to pass on the torch of life to the next generations.  These days the Olympic torch is stirring controversy as it is being passed through countries ahead of the China games.  During our brief stay on earth we can participate in the passing of Jesus' flame of life.  Our run here will pass and we, too, will move on.
Matthew 24:32-35 "Take a lesson from the fig tree. From the moment you notice its buds form, the merest hint of green, you know summer's just around the corner. So it is with you: When you see all these things, you'll know he's at the door. Don't take this lightly. I'm not just saying this for some future generation, but for all of you. This age continues until all these things take place. Sky and earth will wear out; my words won't wear out.
Rob Smith

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Quilting with software

I have an acquaintance who spent a career working in science, computers and calculations.  She is certainly comfortable with modern technology and strikes me as a "scientist's scientist".  I recently discovered that she also has a passion for quilting.  I don't know why that struck me as unusual...I guess the image of quilting struck me as something old fashioned and "non scientific", although I am attracted to the feeling of family and legacy that seems attached to quilts.  Well, the whole thing came together when I learned that she is acquiring a machine that is quite elaborate and computerized to help fashion quilts using modern technology.  It's also a great solution for this gal because she has a large family and should be able to generate quilts much more efficiently.  As time passes, we may find new approaches to accomplish things that tie back to old fashioned values.  But family, home and loving gifts will never go out of style.
Proverbs 31:19 In her hand she holds the distaff
       and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
 20 She opens her arms to the poor
       and extends her hands to the needy.
 21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
       for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
Rob Smith

Monday, April 7, 2008

A boy and his sword

I had to take my grandson Peter out of the wedding we attended Saturday.  It was just a bit too long for a 2 year old to sit still.  We went for a walk and discovered some pigeons, fire trucks and a playground with swings and slides.  But the thing that made the biggest impression on me was when Peter picked up a stick.  He used the stick to find bottle caps, bugs and stones.  I had a flash back to myself as a boy and how much fun I had with sticks.  They were imaginary rifles and swords and were always fun to whip into the woods or hurtle like a javelin.  I guess men have an eternal affinity for the sword.  Sometimes it shows up as a baseball bat, a tennis racket or a hockey stick.  Maybe the Lord wants us to remember the sword of the Lord...the Word of God.  It's sharper than any sword and we do well to wield it with skill.
Matthew 10:34 "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword."
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Rob Smith

Full treatment

This weekend we were out of town at a family wedding.  We stayed at a popular hotel and were pleased to find that they provided really comfortable mattresses, just like they advertised.  We slept great.  They also had a tray of samples for our cleansing and refreshing pleasure.  There was a tray next to the sink with four small plastic bottles for our use.  They were marked "Wash", "Tame", "Soften" and "Freshen".  Of course, the contents were four separate liquids provided to care for our hair, mouth and skin...but it struck me that these four ingredients are also what I need to live successfully each day.  I need to have my sinful nature tamed and my sins washed clean.  I need a nature that has been freshened by the Lord's presence and softened to care more for others than I do for myself.  I checked with my wife to make sure it was ok to take those samples, because, I like having them in front of me each morning as I look at myself in the mirror.  Just like my mouth, face and hair, my soul needs daily maintenance too!
Leviticus 14:29 The rest of the oil that is in the priest's hand he shall put on the head of him who is to be cleansed, to make atonement for him before the LORD.
Rob Smith

Friday, April 4, 2008

through the red door

I've always liked seeing front doors on houses that are the color red.  Somehow red doesn't work as a good color to paint the outside of the house...or for the trim.  But there's something about a red door...  I think there are a lot of people who agree because there are a lot of red doors out there.  It made me think about the door we must walk through of Christ.  Because of His blood we enter His house forever.  I think I'll remember Jesus from now on when I see a red door on houses. 
John 10:9  I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.
Rob Smith