Monday, June 30, 2008

You're elected!

We've experienced a grueling Presidential Campaign.  The primary process seemed to be like a heavyweight boxing match for each major political party.  We finally have two candidates, informally identified.  We face four more months of accusations, boasts and promises before the final drama of the election.  The country waits to find out who its leader will be for the next several years.  There is this sense that the fate of the nation hinges on the election.  Many live in hope and fear about the outcome.  But we do well to be reminded that, as believers, we have already been elected to make a difference.  Our term will run the rest of our lives.  Our platform is unchanging and clearly expressed in a wonderful Book.  We serve a ruler who can not be voted out of office and who is unlimited in His ability to make the differences we need on an individual, local, national and global basis.  Not only can we make a difference, we must and we shall.  Our impact is not constrained to high level heads of state.  We are able to make an impact at the grass roots level, in every neighborhood and job site where we live and work.  The fate of the nation may hinge, in some respects, on the outcome in November.  But, in a very real sense, its direction will be affected in a more lasting way by what we do and who we are starting today!
1 Thessalonians 1:3 remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, 4 knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God. 5 For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.
Rob Smith

Sunday, June 29, 2008

the changing table

We enjoyed strolling through a massive yard sale yesterday at a local neighborhood.  Something like 30 families had emptied their homes of treasures in need of new homes.  Pictures, toys, clothes, golf clubs and knick-knacks of all descriptions were available for great bargains.  Our daughter Meredith was with us and she spotted a furniture item that was particularly appropriate (as she approaches having a new baby): a "changing table".  It was well constructed and included baskets for necessary storage.  The price was right and she made the purchase.  I thought about the term "changing table" and how life calls for constant change (admittedly of a different aroma than an infant requires).  What if you could buy a changing table that you could sit at, as an adult, and be confident that the change you needed (facing a decision, dealing with dilemma's, handling greater responsibilities, coping with relationship difficulties) would be done in your life (perhaps just as surely as a baby's changes are made on their table)?  I suppose we can have that confidence, because the Lord has committed to be in the middle of the changes we need, seeing us through every issue and helping us grow to maturity.


Psalm 102:25 Of old You laid the foundation of the earth,
         And the heavens are the work of Your hands.
 26 They will perish, but You will endure;
         Yes, they will all grow old like a garment;
         Like a cloak You will change them,
         And they will be changed.
 27 But You are the same,
         And Your years will have no end.



Rob Smith

Saturday, June 28, 2008

There is God

This morning I walked over to a pond nearby.  On the way I was pleasantly surprised to see a wild turkey up in a tree.  It was quite a sight to watch this ungainly creature struggle into the air as he heard my rustle in the forest floor.  When I arrived at the pond I flushed another large bird from a log protruding up out of the water.  It may have been an egret.  As I relaxed and looked over the water I thought of the time when Jesus walked on the water.  I thought about the reaction of the disciples as they saw Him.  I also tried to imagine what my own reaction would be if I saw Jesus strolling across the pond toward me.  Three words entered my head: "There is God".  Each of these three words can be accented to savor a slightly different aspect of truth.  When they saw Jesus on the water they knew that "there" they were actually seeing the One promised from Heaven.  And He was one they knew well and who knew them even better.  Having allowed that to sink in the greatness of the thought is captured in the verb "is".  The fact that God "is" makes all the difference.  Our trust in a living God validates our faith and gives life purpose to our walk with Him.    "There is God, and God is there indeed!" 
Matthew 14:25-27, 33 Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.  And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear.  But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid."
33 Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, "Truly You are the Son of God."
Rob Smith

Friday, June 27, 2008

as it is in Heaven

Matthew 6-13:Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

 Give us this day our daily bread.

 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.


I was thinking about the Lord's Prayer the othe day.  I was thinking about how Heaven enters our lives in the most common of experiences(Thy will be done in earth).  It enters in seeing our daily living needs met (our daily bread).  It enters in the midst of our relationships with others (forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors).  It enters in the quality of our vertical walk with the Father (lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil).  It is apparent that Heaven is directly linked with Earth in every important aspect of life.  For there really is only one kingdom, one true power and one great glory (for ever. Amen).



Rob Smith

Thursday, June 26, 2008

under construction

A few weeks ago I saw several men standing by the road near my office.  They were looking intently into the woods across the street.  Over the next several days I began to see pickup trucks and bulldozers.  A clearing was carved out of the thick trees, the curb was broken and gravel laid.  Since then, the small opening has been greatly expanded.  Several specialized machines have been cutting up and stacking logs.  You can begin to visualize a new office building getting its start.  Probably in about one year the new building will be complete, with parking spaces, lighting and new tenants.  But right now, men are sweating and working hard in 90 degree humidity to get the project started.  It occurred to me that we don't think much about all the work that was done to make a building, once it is complete.  We just use that building, or pass by with barely a notice.  The same can be true in our own lives.  The Lord has done a great deal of work to break new ground, cut down and remove unneeded lumber and smooth out the rough places in our makeup as He builds us for service.  I think it is good to look back and reflect on how the hand of God has fashioned us.  He's done a lot of heavy lifting but as we occupy the premises we can be grateful for His promises to complete what He's started!


Philippians 1:6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;


James 1:3 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

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

the battery

As I walked this morning and began to enjoy the new summer day the thought occurred that our lives are battery operated  (sometimes I feel like a small "AAA" battery and sometimes like a powerful flashlight "D" cell).  When our natural lives begin that battery is fresh from its wrapper.  It powers us through the stages of growth, from childhood through adolescence, into adulthood and finally wears down and runs out of energy.  The battery in our natural bodies doesn't get replaced.  There is no compartment to open and pop in a new one, or recharge the old one.  We were designed to eventually run down and stop.  I know that we were also designed for eternal life, where our battery will never run down, but it helped me to remember that each day lived here is to be cherished because this natural experience in God's creation on planet Earth was intended by our Maker to have a limited run.  That's not a bad's a real thing...and it brings great value to each new day!


Psalm 39: 4 "Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
      Remind me that my days are numbered—
      how fleeting my life is.
 5 You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
      My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
      at best, each of us is but a breath."



Rob Smith

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

getting oriented

Have you had the experience of waking up and not knowing where you were?  Recently, on vacation, we stayed in several different places over the course of a week.  One night I awoke out of a deep sleep, looked around at an unfamiliar grouping of furniture and doors and, for a few moments, felt lost.  I couldn't place where I was and so I didn't know why I was there.  For a brief period..perhaps less than half a minute...I was out of touch with what was going on in my life.  I think something similar can take place as we move from one day to the next.  There are times when our walk with the Lord is close and we are at peace about our purpose and our direction.  We have spent time with Him, sharing our concerns and waiting on His direction...listening for His voice and reading His words to us.  We move through the day with an assurance that He is with us.  Sometimes we just forge into the day without looking His way...and then another day...and then another day...and at some point we can feel lost.  We aren't sure where we are or what we should be doing.  I am encouraged that the Lord patiently waits for us to look to Him at those times.  He quiets our heart, realigns our feet in the right direction and fills us with purpose.  Now why is it that I don't run to Him every morning with eager expectation of His guidance?  I call it "short-term divine memory loss".
Isaiah 30:21 Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying,

      " This is the way, walk in it,"
      Whenever you turn to the right hand
      Or whenever you turn to the left.
Rob Smith

Monday, June 23, 2008


In light of Sunday's message on the Vine and Branches from John 15 I looked into the relationship between the vine and the branches biologically.  Here is a quote from the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia:
Stems have four main functions which are:
  • Support for and the elevation of leaves, flowers and fruits. The stems keep the leaves in the light and provide a place for the plant to keep its flowers and fruits.
  • Transport of fluids between the roots and the shoots in the xylem and phloem.
  • Storage of nutrients.
  • The production of new living tissue. The normal life span of plant cells is one to three years. Stems have cells called meristems that annually generate new living tissue.
I couldn't help but think of the connection with Jesus' illustration.  As the vine, He provides the support we need.  He keeps us in the light and produces fruit and the means for spiritual reproduction.  He nourishes us just as the stem feeds the branch here and He is the source of the new life within us and through us to others.
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

Sunday, June 22, 2008

heart and mind

Researchers have been able to learn a great deal about brain function since the advent of MRI scans.  When people are engaged in various activities different parts of the brain "light up" to show involvement.  Interestingly, many situations cause more than one part of the brain to become engaged.  It turns out that our emotions show in one area of the brain and our "abstract reasoning" or problem solving in another area.  When faced with a crisis often both emotions and reasoning become activated.  There can be a conflict between these two responses and something is needed to bring resolution.  Scientists think they've found the answer.  Part of the brain called the anterior cingulate cortex serves as a medatior between emotion and logic and helps develop a coordinated response.  In a sense our hearts and our minds come together to respond.  I think this is one of the interesting battlegrounds of life...what will rule our actions?  It starts internally as we process the issues that swirl around us.  Our logic cries out with a solution and our emotions just cry out.  It's interesting to consider the forces that rule our behavior!
Luke 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
Rob Smith

Saturday, June 21, 2008

joined together

Matthew 19:5-6  'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'?  So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate."
Today I was privileged to witness a beautiful wedding.  Gorgeous weather, a beautiful bride, a handsome groom and a lovely personalized service blended to make for a very happy occasion.  The reception was satisfying as we heard heart-felt toasts from family members and enjoyed the familiar traditions of bouquet tossing, cake cutting and wedding party introductions.  As I watched the service, and later savored the reception festivities, I thought about the amazing bond of marriage.  The young couple each pledged their love and the pastor reminded us of the spiritual nature of marriage, and of the inevitable difficulties that would test their commitment.  I thought about the scripture above and how it is the Lord, Himself, who joins each man and woman.  Something amazing happens that transcends all the words and all the traditions, as vital as they are to the ceremony.  Just as surely as the Lord brings life to each of us, so He is the one who joins two to become one.  I think that's one reason that it can be hard to picture what the experience of marriage will be like before you marry.  Each partner actually is changed...completed they come together and you cannot know what it is like to be married until you are!  In a sense every married couple has experienced a personal miracle, and continues to live within that miracle as the Lord holds them in His hands.  I remember learning in chemistry how two elements come together to form a new one, with distinct properties.  This is called a chemical reaction and heat is generally given off, or consumed, in the process.  I think marriage is much the same.
blessings (especially to Nate and Amanda) and thanks to God for being the One who joins us together,
Rob Smith

Friday, June 20, 2008


I was wondering about laughter this morning.  Why do we make those funny sounds?  Is it always because we hear something funny?  It turns out that laughter is a very basic way of communicating.  We start laughing way before we are able to speak words.  Some research indicates that only about 10-20% of laughter happens because of hearing jokes.  The other 80-90% of the time laughter is woven into normal conversations as some kind of verbal spice.  Apparently we don't have as much control over laughter that we do over speech: One scientist who has researched laughing says:  "We don't choose to laugh in the same way that we choose to speak.  If you've ever had an inopportune laughing fit -- in a lecture, during a high school play, or at a funeral, for instance -- you know that laughter can't always be tamed."  Laughter can be very contagious.  Here's an interesting episode: "In 1962, in the African country that is now Tanzania, three school girls began to laugh uncontrollably. Within a few months, about 2/3 of the school's students had the symptoms, and the school closed. The contagion spread, and eventually affected about a thousand people in Tanzania and neighboring Uganda. There were no long-lasting effects, but it shows how responsive people can be to seeing another person laugh."  Some folks think laughter has a healing quality and actually practice laughter therapy.  However in centuries past causing laughter by tickling was actually used as a form of torture.  I think laughter is a way we connect with each other and a way to release our emotions.  It's hard to imagine a world where laughter was removed.  It seems that tension would just take over our experience and we'd remain isolated from one another.
Genesis 21:6 And Sarah said, "God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me."
Job 8:21 He will yet fill your mouth with laughing,  And your lips with rejoicing.
Psalm 126:2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
         And our tongue with singing.
         Then they said among the nations,
         "The LORD has done great things for them."
Rob Smith

Thursday, June 19, 2008

the pointer

When I was young I loved reading a series of novels about Irish Setters (Big Red, Irish Red, etc.).  Later we actually had an Irish Setter for a pet.  She was a lot of fun, with a spunky personality and we called her Impy.  One of the things that intrigued me about the setters was their innate skill assisting hunters.  They have an instinct to "point" at the bird being hunted to show the location, without actually flushing the bird.  This characteristic was found and bred in a number of types of dog dating back to the mid 1600's.  At that time hunters used nets to catch the birds and it was critical that the bird be found without its knowledge.  It turns out that "Setter" is another word for "Pointer".  When they "set" it's like they freeze into position to point toward the prey.  The analogy I'm thinking of has nothing to do with hunting, but everything to do with pointing.  As we live closely with Jesus, and intimately with our heavenly Father, through the indwelling and very real presence of the Holy Spirit we begin to take on characteristics of Heaven.  Such things as patience, a forgiving nature, kindness, selflessness, wisdom emerge from our personalities as a result.  In this way we can "point" to our Lord very clearly and show others another way of life than they may have known.  I suppose one contrast is the difference between the active pointing of the Believer and the freeze position of the setter.  Setter dogs have a reputation for being good natured.  The joy of showing the presence of the Lord can be at the heart of our nature, as well.
Exodus 9:16 "But indeed for this purposeI have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth."
Rob Smith

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

the appointment

Webster tells us that to appoint is to "fix or set officially".  We generally make our own appointments with the doctor, dentist and auto repair shop.  Our sense is that we control the timing.  Fitting the activity with our schedule...finding a place on our the essence of determining when to make the appointment.  We have one appointment, however, that is made for us.  Last week's untimely death of Tim Russert reminded me that we have an appointment with death.  We generally don't know the time of this appointment until it is upon us and it may not "fit" our personal schedules.  But death comes to us all.  Fortunately we have a pioneer in death who has gone through that door and demonstrated that life lies on the other side, because His death was really a sacrifice made on our behalf.  There is another appointment for which we don't know the timing.  Jesus is coming again!
Hebrews 9:26-28 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.
Rob Smith

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Tiger Woods won the U.S. Golf Open yesterday in a dramatic playoff against a popular underdog named Rocco Mediate.  One sports writer said that it would have taken a "minor miracle" for Rocco to upset Tiger.  (That minor miracle almost happened, but Tiger was able to pull off the win).  Webster defines oxymoron as "a combination of contradictory or incongruous words".  It occurred to me that "minor miracle" was a classic oxymoron.  Webster defines miracle as: "an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs."  I don't think it's possible to consider divine intervention as "minor" in any sense.  It seems from the Bible that miracles were unique and obvious demonstrations of God's power that He used to glorify Himself and that Jesus used to show His divine credentials and authority over all natural phenomena.  Miracles amaze us and remind us of the reality of the living God, who transcends man and nature.  The effect of a miracle is to grab us by the collar and shake us into awareness of the reality of the Lord.  If He can do such amazing things, should we not fall before Him!
Hebrews 2:3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, 4 God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?
Rob Smith

Monday, June 16, 2008

the pursuit of happiness

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness..."
Our Declaration of Independence contains the famous statement above in its early arguments for our freedom from England.  We felt impinged in our collective ability to "pursue happiness" as we labored under the yoke of British rule.  So we declared our independence and then somehow defeated the world's strongest army to back up our words with resolve.  This morning it occurred to me that true freedom is found through our declaration of "dependence" on the living God.  Truly He is a benevelolent ruler and certainly He wants us to be free of sin's yoke.  But our fulfillment comes not from total freedom to pursue what is right in our own eyes, but in our yoke with Jesus that causes us to plow straight furrows and to learn of Him and His gentle ways.  "Pursuit" is a word worth considering in particular.  Surely He loved us so much that He pursued each of us who have come to know Him.  And just as surely, He'd have us pursue Him on a daily basis.  I suspect this is the kind of happiness Jesus referred to when He said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven".  
Matthew 5:1 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:
       3 " Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
       4 Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
       5 Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.
       6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
       7 Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.
       8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
       9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
       10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 11 "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Rob Smith

Sunday, June 15, 2008


How often have you heard the expression: "HIndsight is 20/20".  If we'd only known what was going to happen before it happened we'd have been able to avoid a lot of problems and heartache, and made the most of our opportunities.  Looking back we can see where we went wrong, or what we could have done to capitalize on circumstances.  This morning it occurred to me that this is where we have "one up" on the disciples.  As they walked with Jesus, they really didn't fully grasp who He was or what it meant to fully trust Him.  They were certainly amazed by the miracles, gripped by the teaching and in awe of His divinity.  But it was hard for them to "put it all together".  One advantage we have is that we have 20/20 hindsight, thanks in large part to their faithfulness in recording those events.  We are able, with the Lord's help, to understand Jesus in the context of the entire Bible story.  Perhaps in the most important aspect of life, we truly do have the hindsight we need (that can lead to the insight and foresight we require).
John 13:7 Jesus answered and said to him, "What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this."
Rob Smith

Saturday, June 14, 2008


I spotted a dragonfly through my window and wondered about the extra set of wings it has.  It turns out that dragonflies actually can hover in place.  They can accelerate rapidly from a hover and catch their prey with studded legs that prevent escape.  I think the most interesting aspect of dragonfles is that they spend most of their lives in the larval stage, living underwater, breathing with gills and catching small fish or tadpoles with extendable jaws.  They actually live this way up to five years before climbing out of the water on a stem, and going through metamorphosis to become a creature of the air.  I don't know if the underwater nymph ever had dreams of a different kind of life, but it's hard to imagine a more different kind of experience as it moves out of the water.  It makes me consider how difficult it is to picture our heavenly life.  I suppose heaven is as different from earth as air is from water.  But just as the dragonfly must thrill to soar and hover after being limited to bumping along the bottom of a pond, I suspect we'll thrill to move in heaven's atmosphere with a new kind of body.
1 Corinthians 15:46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.
Rob Smith

Friday, June 13, 2008

morning sickness

I just love it when modern medical science doesn't have all the answers to a common condition.  My daughter, Meredith, has been dealing with morning sickness.  The timing seems particularly unfortunate because, on top of her current pregnancy, she has two little ones scurrying around to keep her busy.  I thought I'd find out what the cause and possible function of this unpleasant phenomena.  The online dictionary, Wikipedia, lists a number of possible or contributing causes.  Most have to do with the massive hormonal changes the woman experiences.  There are speculations that the purpose may have to do with protecting the fetus from harmful foods.  One of the most interesting possible explanations is that the body is extremely concerned with eliminating all toxins that could be harmful (so I guess it find the most convenient opening to remove them!).  It's curious to me that it only lasts from about the 6th to the 14th weeks of pregnancy (why then and why just then??).  Well, once again, we see that man doesn't have all the answers.  It's good to be humbled and to remember that the Master Designer is at work, even when we don't understand everything He's doing (and sometimes you just have to wonder!)
Isaiah 44:24 Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer,
      And He who formed you from the womb:

      " I am the LORD, who makes all things,
      Who stretches out the heavens all alone,
      Who spreads abroad the earth by Myself;
Rob Smith

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The honorable ones

Frequently I see an older gentleman walking near where I work.  He apparently lives in the assisted living home located there.  I've seen him strolling back and forth from the shops in front of our commercial center to his residence.  He often is carrying a newspaper or a coffee as he walks.  I would judge his age to be about 80.  He moves with the slight hitch that comes with joints that complain.  His appearance is somewhat scholarly and I could imagine that, in his working years, he might have been an attorney, a physician or perhaps a college professor.  Those years are behind him now and his routine has become much simpler.  He strolls in the morning to buy a newspaper and in the evening to get some exercise.  When he was younger, and in the prime of life, he likely was highly regarded and needed as a competent professional.  His expertise, knowledge and wisdom may have been a cornerpiece in his community and he also probably raised a family and worked through the challenge of career and home life.  But now, others live in the center of life's cauldron.  Others fight the battles, analyze the issues, teach the lessons, deal with child rearing.  He is in the backwater now.  I can't help but think of how we "envy" youthfulness in our culture and cast off our senior ones.   I think we need to measure the beauty marked by those who limp, those with wisps of silver instead of flowing locks, those with halting speech and dimmed vision and whose hearing is diminished.  Each of these marks of age are also reminders of ones who have come through the battles of life that many of us are still waging.  They are to be honored and not forgotten.
Leviticus 19:32 'You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the LORD.
Rob Smith

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

your personal fleet

Not many of us will command a ship.  My friend, Dan Roper, has had that unique experience as C.O. of the USS Enterprise.  But there are a few ships that we each sail.  We might consider them our personal "fleet".  In the old English a suffix developed to describe a state or condition.  It was originally spelled "scipe" and later became "ship"(ancestor of the modern verb "shape").  It generally is added to nouns like scholar-ship or horseman-ship.  In the old days a lot of adjectives also carried this suffix.  But today only two remain: Hardship and Worship.   The thought occurs that we can sail in these two ships on a daily basis.  The nature of daily experience inevitably introduces hardship in the form of problems, sickness, uncertainty and all kinds of needs (not to mention the problems our sin nature get us into).  It is because of this first "ship" that we need to jump ship and remember "Worship".  Here we can be proactive to keep the Lord centered in our thoughts and foremost in our praise.  When worship meets hardship in battle we still experience conflict and we may suffer damage, but we will emerge victorious.  In this way we develop our Friendship with the Lord.
Proverbs 30:18-19 Three things amaze me,
   no, four things I'll never understand—
      how an eagle flies so high in the sky,
      how a snake glides over a rock,
      how a ship navigates the ocean,
      why adolescents act the way they do.
Rob Smith

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

to sleep perchance to dream

Sleeping is one daily habit we just can't do without.  In some respects it seems like a waste of about 1/3 of our lives.  We could be "doing something" with all that time.  Why should it be necessary to shut down for such a long period each day?  Physiologically there are many reasons that our bodies need to "recharge".  Our brains, our immune systems, our muscles, our digestive tracts all need to rest and regroup.  Experiments have shown how almost all of our body functions rapidly decline if sleep is severely neglected.  I think there is a parallel to our spiritual lives.  Just as there are times of great activity in the Lord, so there is a need for rest.  There is a need for fresh input from the Lord and there is a need to "start fresh" by addressing areas of sin that have gummed up the works.  We weren't made to be in constant motion all the time on a physical or spiritual level.  I especially like the "fresh start" aspect that a night of rest demonstrates.  As you come out of the fog of a deep sleep you realize that the new day is like a clean slate...a story that waits to be written.  So it is with the Lord.  Each day is a fresh chance to greet Him, to walk with Him and to experience Him.  We need new beginnings to continue our growth.
Psalm 4:8 I will both lie down in peace, and sleep;
         For You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.
Rob Smith

Monday, June 9, 2008

The conductor who plays

We enjoyed worshiping the Lord yesterday.  One of the highlights was a small orchestral group that played a medly of hymns and gospels.  Many of the musicians were young, but all played with energy and skill.  I was struck with the style of June Horner, the leader of the group.  Normally a conductor stands, elevated above the orchestra, and guides the group with a baton.  June stood on the same level as her musicians and played violin in accompaniment.  Rather than a baton, she used the movement of her bow, with some body language thrown in, to conduct.  I was struck that she was a leader who also was one of the musicians.  The thought occurred that this is just like Jesus.  He is a conductor who has also participated in our earthly life and, is active even now, to play His song in and through us as He also leads us.  He is Emmanuel !
Zechariah 2:10 "Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst," says the LORD.
Rob Smith

Sunday, June 8, 2008

divine shade

We're experiencing temperatures over 100 degrees right now (with our famous high humidity).  Our bodies don't cool very efficiently in those conditions.  The high temperature draws blood to the surface of our bodies and away from vital organs, muscles and brain.  Temperatures that are warmer than 98.6 degrees make it hard for that blood to shed heat.  This can result in dizziness and fatigue (or heat stroke).  The high humidity makes our perspiration inefficient.  Of course, air conditioning helps with both the temperature and the humidity.  Though sometimes the shock of moving in and out of air conditioning is also a challenge.  I'm reminded that besides air conditioning we need to seek out shade for shelter from the intense sun.  The Lord is our shelter and our shade, as well.  Whether it is summer or winter, we are prone to intense heat from life's challenges and our weaknesses.  Sometimes the trials seem as thick as a sultry summer day in the south and we can't breathe.  But the Lord can cut through the difficulties and set us in a place where we can breathe again.  Just as we need to slow the pace on a hot day, sometimes we need to draw aside spiritually and rest in His shade.
Psalm 121:5 The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade at your right hand.
Isaiah 4:6 And there will be a tabernacle for shade in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain.
Rob Smith

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Wind and wave

I think it's helpful to find reminders that the Lord is present with us...that He's "right here", "right now".  At the risk of a simplistic picture I would suggest the following.  The next time you have a chance to sit by a window, or on a porch or deck, look at the trees around you.  The tree is an obvious picture of life, with roots, vertical growth, and branches all reflecting aspects of the Lord's provision, protection and power.  But recently I've enjoyed seeing the Lord's "wave" in the movement of the leaves and branches.  I don't think it's too much of a stretch to interpret the movement of wind through the trees as the greeting of God.  He doesn't live in the tree and we don't worship the tree, but He is the one behind every natural force.  Just as we cannot see the spirit of God, so we cannot see the wind unless and until the breeze moves a leaf or His spirit stirs our heart.  He is with us and He is for us!
Psalm 135:7 He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth;
         He makes lightning for the rain;
         He brings the wind out of His treasuries.
Rob Smith

Friday, June 6, 2008

low five

Last night several of us were playing tennis and taking turns also playing with my grandson Peter, who is 2 1/2.  He excitedly was chasing down tennis balls and throwing them over the net.  Just about everything excites and energizes Peter.  He loves to be active and to be a part of whatever is going on.  At one point, I saw his father give Peter a "high five" for retrieving the tennis ball.  A few minutes later, after I caught a ball Peter threw, my heart was touched when he said "Good job, Grandpa" and held up his hand to give me a "high five" (he also clapped when Grandma caught the ball).  I'm glad he's learning to be an encourager.  Of all the qualities we can have, I think the gift of encouragement is one of the greatest.  Certainly the Lord knows we have need of encouragement.  I like to think that the Lord sees our struggle and our efforts to stay afloat and reaches down to encourage us (the ultimate "High Five".)
Colossians 2:2 "that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."
Rob Smith

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Yesterday I saw a young man doing landscape work at a building I used to work in.  I knew him years ago as the young son of the head landscaper for the grounds there.  Now full grown, he sports a beard and arms covered with tattoos.  I thought about tattoos.
These days, nearly a quarter of Americans from age 18 to 50 sport permanent tattoos.  They represent everything from gang allegiances to memorials for lost loved ones.  A little research shows that mummies have been found with tattoos dating back thousands of years.  The word "tattoo" actually comes from Samoa.  The practice was common in the Pacific island nations and that is where sailors picked it up in the 1700's.  I've often wondered how people deal with the inevitable regret that must sometimes come with a tattoo that may have outlived its message (perhaps a change of girl friends or gang membership).  I suppose the very permanence of the work shows commitment to its message.  In that sense, we who love Jesus, bear His tattoo.  It isn't a work of ink in the outer skin, but a seal etched on our heart by the Holy Spirit.  It's presence isn't always obvious to an observer's eye, but with time it should display through the believer's attitudes and actions.  I'm glad that it wasn't necessary for me to get a tattoo when I accepted Christ as my savior and I'm glad that He has marked His presence in my heart with the seal of His Spirit.
Ephesians 1:13 In Him you also who have heard the Word of Truth, the glad tidings (Gospel) of your salvation, and have believed in and adhered to and relied on Him, were stamped with the seal of the long-promised Holy Spirit.
Rob Smith

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

100% Divine Origin

Here's a good way to reconnect with the Lord.  Take a few moments and reflect on what percentage of you came from God and what percentage of you came from any other source.  You can start from the top-down or the bottom-up.  You can include in your survey all the physical parts of your body and then throw in your emotions,  your mind and all the invisible parts that make you up.  You can consider the source of all your vital organs and the hands that assembled them into a working unit.  You can check the label on your neck to see if you were made in China, Indonesia, or stateside (Wow, I guess we didn't come with labels!).  You can ponder the engineer that conceived of ten fingers with thumbs, five senses, two ears and eyes.  And how about our built-in repair capacity, when bruises, infections and breaks damage our frame?  Wouldn't you love to meet the one who put this together? 
Wow, He did it all.  The Lord has His fingerprint all over (and within) each one of us.  We can make no claim on ourselves or any other person as the source.  Even our parents were only the suppliers of the two-part code He invented to fashion us individually (and they were surprised when we got our start, as well).
If God has that much to do with each of us, shouldn't we turn toward Him and see what He has to say about life, and our individual lives.  Having invested this much in our appearance, He probably has a lot to say about our purpose.
Isaiah 44:1 "Yet hear me now, O Jacob My servant,
      And Israel whom I have chosen.
       2 Thus says the LORD who made you
      And formed you from the womb, who will help you:

      ' Fear not, O Jacob My servant;
      And you, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.
       3 For I will pour water on him who is thirsty,
      And floods on the dry ground;
      I will pour My Spirit on your descendants,
      And My blessing on your offspring;
       4 They will spring up among the grass
      Like willows by the watercourses.'
       5 One will say, 'I am the LORD's';
      Another will call himself by the name of Jacob;
      Another will write with his hand, 'The LORD's,'
      And name himself by the name of Israel.
Rob Smith

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

hearing from friends

I remember what a joy it was to reconnect with classmates from the Naval Academy that I hadn't seen in decades, let alone years.  Thirty years before we'd all gone through an intense experience together that welded friendships.  Time, careers and circumstances had separated us all.  Somehow we reconnected and began to meet on occasion.  The first sight and first words exchanged with my old friends were as sweet as honey.  It was good to be reunited.  I am thinking this morning of how the Lord must love it when we come to Him.  He has gone through the most intense of experiences and then allowed us to participate, by faith, with Him.  We are welded through that union into an eternal bond.  Yet, somehow, we neglect the exercise of this hard-won relationship.  How He must love it when we come to Him in conversation, through prayer, to share our hearts and express our love.  This past weekend our daughter Meredith, who is carrying her third child, called and told us she feared she'd suffered a miscarriage.  We dropped to our knees and talked earnestly with our Savior about this.  We knew He is the only one who authors and sustains life.  We also knew that there was nothing we could do to "fix" the problem or preserve that life ourselves.  We also asked many friends to pray.  Yesterday our hearts rejoiced to hear that the child lives and has a strong heartbeat.  All is well.  How He must love for us to come to Him and lay our hearts before Him.  I hope we can do this much, much more!
John 7:37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.
Rob Smith

Monday, June 2, 2008

thriving in dry places

We were very impressed with the cactus plants we saw in Arizona a few weeks ago.  The largest are called Saguaro.  They can grow to heights of 20-30 feet and live to be 200 years old.  The Saguaro is the state flower of Arizona!  I had a personal run-in with one of the smaller cactus bushes.  On a hike with my daughter, Bethany, I barely brushed against a cactus and a section attached to my shorts.  When I brushed it off with a stone, it flew down into my foot.  We took about 20 minutes removing cactus spines painfully one at a time and gained a healthy respect for this plant with its highly effective defense system.   The cactus plants look very unusual so they can thrive in an unusually dry environment.  They store water from infrequent rains in the thick stem (like a trunk).  The stem is like a big sponge and has a waxy outer coat to prevent water loss.  When infrequent rains come, the shallow root structure helps to collect moisture from the ground surface.  The Saguaro can absorb about 800 gallons of water from infrequent, but intense, rains.  Instead of making cholorophyll in leaves, which lose water, it makes it in its thick stem.
The Saguaro cactus was made to thrive and live long in a very dry and very hot environment.  Sometimes we, too, live in difficult times.  We may feel tested by extreme trials and pain and we may need to draw on the spiritual "water" within.  Like the Saguaro, we need to absorb the living waters that the Lord provides through His word and His presence, so that we can thrive in the desert heat of difficulty.  We even need to form spines to keep unwanted thoughts and attitudes from attacking our stems and robbing our strength.
Psalm 68:7-10 God, when you took the lead with your people,
      when you marched out into the wild,
   Earth shook, sky broke out in a sweat;
      God was on the march.
   Even Sinai trembled at the sight of God on the move,
      at the sight of Israel's God.
   You pour out rain in buckets, O God;
      thorn and cactus become an oasis
   For your people to camp in and enjoy.
      You set them up in business;
      they went from rags to riches.
Rob Smith

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Got you covered

We know that the sacrifice of Jesus' life on the cross of Calvary covers our sins.  I am reminded that Jesus continues to cover us as we walk daily.  Our skin is an apt analogy for this covering.  We don't often think of our skin as a body organ, but it is.  It covers our vulnerable inner body and protects it from infection, insulates from cold, cools when over heated, and gives us the capacity to touch and sense our outer world.  Although our skin may appear to be something a rug on a floor...nothing could be further from the truth.  Every minute of every day we shed about 40,000 dead skin cells and replace them with new ones.  Most of the outer layer of skin is constantly at work producing a fresh covering.  Our middle skin layer contains the nerve endings that help us navigate our world and avoid dangerous extremes of temperature.  Our inner skin layer provides insulation.  The skin helps the body maintain a constant 98.6 degree temperature, regardless of our activity level or the weather around us.
All of this reminds me of the dynamic work of Christ who lives within us today.  His covering is at work to shield us from the damage of sin.  His presence provides us with the capability of touching our world and of sensing danger to our spiritual health.  His spirit helps regulate our spiritual temperature and keep us on an even keel.  Our inner person is able to navigate in a tough outer world because of His living cover.
Exodus 26:14 "You shall also make a covering of ram skins dyed red for the tent, and a covering of badger skins above that.
Rob Smith