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