Friday, April 30, 2010

to each one

1 Corinthians 12: 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:
                              18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.
First Corinthians chapter 12 is the "Spiritual Gifts" chapter.  It goes into some depth discussing the wide variety of spiritual gifts that God gives to the church.  Some gifts are more obvious than others and some gifts may appear more "amazing" or impressive.  We may look around and consider others to have received the really impressive gifts and we may look in and feel that we were passed over when the gifts were handed out.  But the Bible says that "the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one...".  No member of Christ's Body is left out because that would be like having a leg with no feeling or a nose that couldn't smell.  If we are in the body we are designed for function...for purpose...and that is what spiritual gifts are all about.  They are spiritual functions for a spiritual body.  The question is not "whether" we are gifted, but "how" are we gifted.  I think a clue to our spiritual gifts may be how we see ourselves ministering to others in the body.  Do you find yourself reaching out to the sick?  Do you enjoy the study of God's Word to teach?  Do you find great joy in praying for others in need?  Do you have a longing to share your faith?  The gifts are meant to be used to give to others.  I believe that it is the Lord who is pouring Himself through our gifts to one another because He is the Head of our body.   Verse 7 tells us so much.  The gifts of the Spirit are given to each one "for the profit of all".
blessings (with thanks for the body with all its gifts),
Rob Smith

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

throwing strikes

I'm not a huge baseball fan, in general,  but there is one team that I have followed and supported for a lifetime.  When that team plays on TV I like to watch and pull for them.  The TV cameral typically shoots a picture from behind the pitcher and you follow the windup and delivery of every pitch.  Of course the camera will also follow the ball when it leaves the bat, to track the action as hits and runs are made.  But there are far more pitches than there are hits.  The starting pitcher may throw 100 pitches over 6 or 8 innings and the other team may only make a handful of hits.  I have found, as I watch the drama of pitcher and hitter, that I love the sensation when my pitcher throws a strike (that isn't hit!).  Off course, strike-outs are especially satisfying.  When your starting pitcher is really "on" he seems to get ahead of the batter with a strike or two, right away, and put the pressure on to force a bad swing.  The pitchers have an array of pitches and I don't really understand the differences (sliders, curves, etc.) and so there are many ways to throw a strike...and I know that often the pitcher intentionally does not throw a strike, hoping to lure the batter to swing at a bad location.  But there is something about throwing a strike and watching the umpire call the pitch that just seems right and true.  It occurred to me that there is a similar sensation when we come across a solid truth in the Bible that comes over our plate.  It's almost as if we're the batter and the Lord is the pitcher.   I don't want to suggest that the Lord throws anything besides strikes but He seems to know each of our particular strike zones.  There is a great satisfaction when truth comes home.  We need to connect with pitches that come into our zone.  If we step into the batter's box and face the great Pitcher we can be confident that He will give us plenty of strikes.  We'll swing and miss at these but we'll also make contact as we practice...because ultimately the favorite pitch of both the pitcher and the batter is the strike.
John 8:31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
Rob Smith

Monday, April 26, 2010

the first time

Yesterday in the late afternoon, Shirley and I decided to go for a ride in the country.  We put the top down on the convertible because the air temperature was perfect, at 80, and the fresh beauty of a "newly-birthed" spring was all around.  We didn't know where we were going to go specifically.  I suggested that we explore some of the area around West Point and Shirley agreed.  We drove through the quaint mill town, and proceeded over the bridge on the far side of town that crosses the Mattaponi river.  We wandered down a few dead end roads and returned to the highway and then I decided to take a left at the sign for "King and Queen Court House".  I have enjoyed seeing these old court house town centers that are so common in our area, like Charles City Court House and Surry Court House.  But we had not been down this road before.  The road carved a winding ribbon through lush farm country with old houses that had been added to several times and some expansive new homes, including a striking French Provincial residence on a Ponderosa sized property.  It was fun following the bends and twists in the road to see what lay around every turn and we enjoyed finding and driving past the old court house, now dwarfed by its modern replacement.  The thought occurred that this drive was much like life.  At every point down life's road the bends and twists are new because we haven't lived there yet.  There can be two attitudes as we move into unexplored territory: anticipation or anxiety.  Yesterday we enjoyed great anticipation in the midst of a gorgeous spring afternoon to see one vista after another of open country, lush foliage and homey residences.  But conditions can be different on the road.  Storms come...roads occasionally wash out and the uncertainty of our path ahead can be trying.  But the sign told us that if we stayed on the road for 13 miles we'd make it to the court house...and we did.  And God's sign to us is that if we stay on the road He has graciously made for us we can anticipate seeing Him in the midst of life's experiences around every bend and we will surely find Him in Heaven's Court House.  It's just ahead.
Mark 10:32 Now they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was going before them; and they were amazed. And as they followed they were afraid. Then He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them the things that would happen to Him:
Rob Smith

Friday, April 23, 2010

His timing

1 Corinthians 11:23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread...
The Lord's Supper is a specific way that Jesus us gave us to remember Him.  It is a meal with only two components: bread and wine.  There are no vegetables and there is no dessert.  The solid bread helps us remember the sacrifice of His body for us and the liquid wine captures the New Covenant we have in His blood...the promise of forgiveness, of restoration and of eternal life.  The thing that stood out to me this morning is the phrase above: "in the night in which he was betrayed".  It strikes me that this is our Jesus...the One who stands waiting for us with the greatest of gifts in the very moments when we betray Him...when we aren't even thinking of Him...when we are full of our earthly meals and our personal ambitions.  He gave the instructions for this communion as He was about to be led off to suffer and to complete the image that this meal lays out.  He is thinking of us when we are still distant from Him and the Lord's Supper brings us back to think on Him and to draw near.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Rob Smith

Thursday, April 22, 2010

participation in Christ

1 Corinthians 10:16 Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ?  Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?
The verse above stood out this morning as I considered what it means to be a follower of Jesus.  We are meant to be participants with Christ in His life and work.  The broken body and shed blood which has secured our salvation is also our life calling.  We are intended to share in the blessing of that great sacrifice and then we are intended to share the message of that sacrifice with others that they might also be blessed.  Christ hasn't just done the great work of redemption in us.  He wants to do it through us.  As Paul goes on to say in verse 24 of the same chapter, "Let no one seek his own good, bujt that of his neighbor."  We need to be focused because the freedom won for us in Christ allows us great choice in our actions.  As Paul says in verse 23 "All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable.  All things are lawful, but not all things edify."  Apparently our freedom in Christ is meant to focus our service in Him and our participation with Him that others might come to Him.
Rob Smith

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

for Him...through Him

1 Corinthians 8:6 Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.
Nouns, verbs and prepositions...this short verse tightly weaves these three categories of word to express wonderful "bottom-line" thoughts about our relationship to the Father and Son.  Thirty-five simple words communicate the most profound of concepts.  There is only one God.  He is the Father of all creation and He is our Father as well.  Our existence, each day and for a lifetime..and beyond, is for Him.  That only makes sense.  We ought to live for do what pleases seek to honor inquire in His play at His grow in maturity before Him.  Jesus holds the place of greatest honor because He was God's means of bringing us into being and in restoring us to eternal life.  We would not know the Father apart from Jesus.  God is the architect and Jesus the builder.  Isn't it grand that the most awesome eternal personalities are so committed to knowing us so personally?  We weren't just a project to complete...we were a family to be established for all time.
Rob Smith

Monday, April 19, 2010

the heron and the geese

As I settled into some quiet morning time today at the local pond I spied one of the great blue herons as he swooped in, flapping wings like a gangly teenager, yet landing with grace at the water's edge.  Once in position he stood as straight as a stick, and not much wider, and gazed across the pond.  He almost resembled one of those royal guards at Buckingham Palace, with the ramrod posture and beehive hats, that strut across the grounds or stand post by the gates.  I knew, from experience, that if a fish happened to swim below his feet, the heron would spring into action like a trap released with the force of a tightly coiled spring.  He can catch and swallow the unfortunate creature in one swift motion.  But most of the time he stands watch where the pond meets the bank and blends into the foliage behind him.  Today there was a stark contrast to the serene heron when two pairs of squawking geese flew into the pond.  It seemed that they were giving landing instructions to each other as they circled and then "splashed down".  I wondered if you could interpret the loud chatter if it might mean something like: "Let's land in the middle"..."No, let's land on the side"..."No...let's land between the middle and the side"..."Hey, there's a big heron...let's give him some space"..."Isn't this a great pond...I wonder what kind of fish we'll snack on for breakfast".   As isolated and silent as the heron was, the geese were just the opposite with their noisy partnerships.  It occurred that there are many styles that work in nature.  The silent heron that blends in with the pond seems a good fit as a long time dweller, who doesn't want to disrupt his environment, but live in harmony with it.  The boisterous geese were visitors and didn't mind causing a ruckus...the pond was only a breakfast stop for them on the way north.  We, too, have many personalities.  Some of us are more naturally loners and some are much happier in the company of others.  Some are silent and satisfied to remain so.  When the silent ones speak or act they have something substantial to do or to say and they are content to spend much time on the edge of life's pond.  Others are happiest when busiest and making noise may be satisfying in itself.  These folks add much color to life's pond as they are not content to live at the edge, but must splash in the middle.  There is room on the pond for all and there is beauty of the heron, another of the goose and yet another of the pond, that provides a setting for all. 
1 Corinthians 12:4 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all
blessings (to geese and heron alike),
Rob Smith

Friday, April 16, 2010

retire or aspire

There is just so much emphasis on retirement these days.  If you're in your working years there are all kinds of ideas, plans and programs to save enough money to build the kind of retirement that you'll enjoy.  If you are near retirement there are all kinds of warnings about possibly running out of money before you die and there is a great deal of industry that caters to retirees: from medical insurance and care as our bodies creak and crack to travel options and cruises to senior living centers and considerations for assisted living, long term care and a host of services from acupuncture to exfoliation to restore youth and delay our destiny with death.  A new emphasis may be called for:  instead of focusing on the word "retire" why not focus on the word "aspire".  A quick dictionary review shows that to retire is to "withdraw from business due to age".  Of course we reach a point where we're tired of fighting the commute, fighting the parking space battle, fighting the business competition wars and fighting for raises, promotions and continued employment.  Of course there comes a time to retire.  But it occurs that there is never a time to cease to "aspire".  Consider the leading definition of this great word: to long, aim, or seek ambitiously; be eagerly desirous, esp. for something great or of high value.   There is never need to withdraw from seeking to grow in grace and knowledge and service of and for our Lord.  We could live five lifetimes and not exhaust the questions of a curious mind that longs to understand the ways of Heaven and that desires to draw ever closer.  We may tire of the work routine and our bodies surely tire as we age, but our hunger to draw ever more heavenly oriented is an ambition that we can pursue right up to the day that, either our minds no longer process thought or our bodies are ready to cross the brief threshold of death and enter the gates of glory.  We are reminded that just as work is not our highest calling, so retirement is not our crowning reward. 
A vital relationship with the living God is our highest calling and His presence and His revealed truth are our crowning reward.
Philippians 3:12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.
blessings to fellow "aspirees",
Rob Smith

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

under construction

1 Corinthians chapter 3 talks a lot about construction.  Paul discusses various ways that we ourselves are being constructed spiritually and he also discusses how we also are builders.  He teaches us that the role of more mature believers is to serve as God's craftsman to fashion younger believers into strong structures.  He tells us that this process of helping others find faith and grow in faith is a central part of our mission on earth.  The foundation of our building must be Jesus Christ.  As we grow we begin to influence others and become part of their construction crew.  We must be careful to build with quality materials to make strong and lasting houses in the lives of others.  Our work in others' lives will surely be tested, just as hurricane winds eventually blow on our Virginia homes.  Our work in the lives of others will ultimately be judged and the criteria for quality workmanship will center around the "lasting" nature of our efforts.  I think it is helpful to consider that when we help folks find the Lord and when we help folks grow and build solid spiritual lives, we are building not for this life alone...but for eternity.  When you help another build on that sure foundation of the Lord, you are part of the "Temple Construction" crew of God.  That's because the Spirit of God has made us His temple when we invite Him in.  It is humbling to consider that our work in others' lives is like that of a craftsman building a gorgeous altar in a great cathedral. 
We need to be temple builders and take care not to damage the temple.  It is too precious and we are not the holders of the deed.
1 Corinthians 3:9 For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building.
Rob Smith

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

the 6th sense

1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written: 
      " Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
      Nor have entered into the heart of man
      The things which God has prepared for those who love Him."

 10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.


Science fiction novels and movies like to explore what it would be like to have powers and senses that go beyond our five natural senses.  Superman can see through walls and hear a cry for help miles away (not to mention the ability to fly and to bend steel).  Other stories deal with traveling across time or being transformed from normal human appearance to that of the powerful "Hulk".  I suppose science fiction intrigues us as we consider our limitations and think about expanding our experience.  Paul discusses this in 1 Corinthians, chapters one and two.  He talks about how the world has not been able to find God through its own wisdom and how God has provided the "6th sense" we need that can truly carry us beyond the limits of this life.  That extra sense is the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit.  Apparently we only find God, understand God and obey God through the activity of the Holy Spirit in our lives and through our response to this Spirit.  As we saw in the passage quoted above, there are things God has prepared for us that are impossible to see, to hear or to even imagine in our own ability.  God must reveal these things to us or we well not find them.  He has revealed them through His Spirit.  It is as though we have been living a separate kind of existence all our lives, thinking all we can know is received through the portals of our senses and our natural minds.  Then, wondrously, we grasp God's great love for us...the personal meaning of His Son's mission to Earth, death and resurrection, and as we open our heart to welcome Him, the Lord then moves into our lives in the form of His Spirit.  Verse 12 tells us why the Spirit comes to us: 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.  An entire new existence opens us as the Spirit reveals insights directly from God.  We would have continued in darkness, but with the Holy Spirit we can actually be connected to the mind of God.  Verse 16 really caps it off: 16 For "who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?" But we have the mind of Christ.  Certainly this explains the greatness of our personal walk with the Lord...that we might grasp the ways of God with the help of His Son as His mind guides our own!



Rob Smith

Monday, April 12, 2010


I enjoyed reading the biography of Daniel Boone over the past year.  He truly was a frontiersman and a pioneer.  He loved living just past the edge of civilization and he paved the way for others to follow.  Over the past few days I've been thinking about how Jesus is our "Daniel Boone" to Heaven.  We've not been there yet and it's a bit scary to consider what lies beyond the edge of this familiar place we've lived our entire lives.  Jesus came to identify with us, to redeem us and to show us the path that lies ahead.  Through His life, death, resurrection and ascension He has blazed a trail for us.  We experience first the physical life in our body.  We then die, as Jesus died.  He told the thief on the cross next to Him that both of them would be in Paradise right after their bodies died.  When we die, our bodies are left behind like the shell of a 17 year locust that has been shed for a new form.  Our spirit goes directly to Heaven.  After Jesus was in Heaven for three days, as a Spirit, He returned to inhabit His resurrected body.  After we have been in Heaven as a Spirit for a time, Jesus will raise the bodies of all believers when the dead in Christ rise to meet Him in the air and the spirits will be ,restored to resurrected bodies like His.  Jesus had a resurrection body that could be touched, was composed of flesh and bone, could eat fish and yet had a capacity of moving through walls...truly a body but truly different than the former body.  We too will have a body like this.  This special physical body of Jesus was taken up into Heaven.  I was struck to consider how this body was tangible and made of flesh and bone and yet was able to travel to Heaven.  And so we also will have new, physical bodies, that will also travel to Heaven.  The future is full of experiences we have not had, as believers.  The frontiers of death, existence in Heaven and our resurrection bodies are unknowns to us.  Yet, we have absolute assurance that the pioneer of our path to Heaven will also guide us through each twist and turn of this exciting future.
Hebrews 2:10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,
1 Corinthians 15:42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.
blessings to fellow travelers in faith,
Rob Smith

Friday, April 9, 2010


O.K. so we have been getting "painted" with a heavy coat of green pollen this week and I had to find out what pollen is all about.  It turns out that trees and plants have a few ways of carrying out the fertilization process.  Insects play a role with some plants to carry the male elements to find the female.  But the wind is the culprit in our area to carry oceans of male reproductive cells to land everywhere in hopes of a small percentage finding the proper female plant.  This seems like about the most inefficient mechanism I can think of for reproduction.  And we get stuck in the middle of the process, with our cars and houses and noses also becoming unwilling participants in plant reproduction.  I have been amazed at how "clingy" the pollen is.  The other night I washed and waxed my car.  It was really slippery.  After a day of sitting under a rain of green pollen I drove home at highway speeds.  The pollen did not blow off.  This stuff is really persistent to carry out its mission.  Of course the analogy I think of is how God's wind, the Holy Spirit, carries the spiritual reproductive message of faith in Christ.  He is "pollinating" the world.  The gospel is meant to fall everywhere.  It has the means of fulfilling the new birth in the heart of a person that is ready to receive the message.  When pollen falls on us, we don't spring into new life as a plant.  In fact this stuff almost chokes us as it clogs our sinuses and irritates our eyes.  We just weren't meant to be pollinated.  However, we were meant to be transformed by the good news of Jesus life, death and resurrection.  And we, who have been spiritually "pollinated" and flowered in faith actually are charged with pollen-like persistence to be carried by His Spirit.  We just don't know when the message will land on a heart ready to flower.
Acts 8:25And with that, the apostles were on their way, continuing to witness and spread the Message of God's salvation, preaching in every Samaritan town they passed through on their return to Jerusalem.
Rob Smith

Thursday, April 8, 2010

turkey flight

Yesterday, as I was leaving for work, I passed a wild turkey on the side of the road.  I've seen him before and I'm always struck with his size.  He must have been about 3 feet from head to tail feathers and looked to weigh a good 30 pounds.  Unlike most birds, which look "flight-ready" even when they are perched on a branch or strutting on the ground, the turkey looked anything but capable of lifting off the surface under his own power.  But as I approached my feathered friend I tapped on my car horn to see what he'd do.  There was a twitch of the neck, a reluctant ruffling of feathers and then large outstretched wings pulled him up into the air and, I believe, into a tree somewhere above.  I was amazed to consider that this ungainly creature could fly.  We, too, may feel too large and ungainly to fly.  We may not think we can lift off the earth, spiritually, and really connect with our Lord.  We may not feel that we can carry out "spiritual matters".  But, even though there is a personal sense of awkwardness with our faith, we were designed for eternal tasks that lift us from a mere earthly existence.  There is a God to know and to make known.  There is eternity to be spent in Heaven or Hell.  There are great purposes we were intended to find that go well beyond the mundane and far beyond the survival and satisfactions of self.  We may actually be awkward when it comes to flying in the spirit, but, with the Lord's presence we were made for it!
Psalm 64:9-10 Everyone sees it. God's
      work is the talk of the town.
   Be glad, good people! Fly to God!
      Good-hearted people, make praise your habit.
Rob Smith

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

color from the ground

Spring is here in Virginia.  In fact it has been so warm over the past few days that it almost feels like we've skipped through to summer.  But after a long, wet, and cold winter the warmth and the colors and the longer days are much appreciated.  I have been thinking about the colors we see in the flowering plants and trees.  Some of the trees seemed to open up in blossom literally overnight.  During most of the year, without blossom, many of these trees just fade into the background, when they are without leaves, or simply green like other vegetation.  But there is this relatively brief time in early spring when we are treated to a rainbow of colors.  It occurred to me that this is a great wonder.  Close your eyes and picture the hues of trees and plants that you have seen over the past few weeks...lavender, violet, yellow, red...and many shades between.  It amazes me to think that God can bring such color from the ground.  After all, dirt is not very colorful.   Somehow He locked the ingredients and the recipe for color in the soil and in the genetic code of each plant.   Some would say that the flowers are just a creative way to attract and feed insects, which then pollinate other plants.  But I would say that the insects are God's method of creating more flowers.  You may personally feel that your life is as dull as dirt, but it is good to remember that it is God who has locked the ingredients and the code for color within.  We live for Him and we live to reflect His beauty.  Our blossoms are delicate and temporary here on the earth but that only intensifies the beauty.  We cannot manufacture this color out of our willpower anymore than a daffodil can choose the shade of its flower.  But you and I have a beauty and a color that blesses our Father in Heaven and He is a tender gardener.
Song of Solomon 6: 11-12 One day I went strolling through the orchard,
                                              looking for signs of spring,
                                           Looking for buds about to burst into flower,
                                               anticipating readiness, ripeness.
                                            Before I knew it my heart was raptured,
                                               carried away by lofty thoughts!
Rob Smith

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

night and day

Romans 13:12 The night is almost gone, and the day is near.  Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
I think our general sense is that our three score and ten years living on the planet in the flesh are the primary time of our lives.  We push through challenging days of working , raising families, building community, worshiping of our Lord.  Certainly these are rich days of experience in every dimension of life as we have known it.  But Paul tells us in Romans chapter 13 that this really is the "night" of our existence and we have not yet seen the "day", though it draws closer.  In verse 11 he exhorts believers that "it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep".  All of the previous verses of this chapter are loaded with practical advice for living in the in such a way that the reality of God is demonstrated to others, whether in government and ruling over us, or living next to us as neighbors.  We are living in the days of "night" because darkness rules the hearts of most men and Satan has a measured presence across our world.  Still to come are the true days full of light when we will no longer need a sun to illuminate us because of the brightness of His radiance.  Now is the time when we need perseverance.  We need to work the "night shift" because dawn is about to break.  Day is coming!
Rob Smith

Monday, April 5, 2010


Tonight the men's national college basketball champion will be determined.  There can only be one national champion, of course, and it has taken a season of games for a few thousand teams and then a tournament where one loss eliminates any team.  This process makes the value of the title very unique and special.  There have been many great teams this year in the NCAA tournament and all will ultimately be disappointed by seeing their season end in a loss, except for the ultimate champion.  As we celebrated our victorious risen Lord in church yesterday I realized that we have a unique champion.  Jesus endured, persevered, resisted temptation, and perfectly obeyed His Father's plan to gain our redemption.  But unlike the fans of tonight's ultimate champion, who will, be excited to watch their team crowned...we will share the victory with our Champion.  We are more than fans of Jesus, we are family and His victory over sin and death has become our victory as well.  Next year the process will begin again to determine a national basketball champion.  Our victory...our championship...will last for eternity.  Instead of merely celebrating the victory we need to be about the work of sharing it with others.  The champion has been determined but the game is still on!
1 Corinthians 15: 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
blessings (with special gratitude for a new grandson born on Easter..Joseph Gabriel Cook)!
Rob Smith

Sunday, April 4, 2010

the greatest day

The greatest event in history took place on this day almost 2000 years ago.  Scores of prophecies were fulfilled, men were baffled and amazed, and we look back with assurance because of the resurrection of Jesus from death to life.  It occurred to me that Jesus demonstrated the continuity of life from the Cross to the grave to the empty tomb.  He had told the believing thief on the adjacent cross that they would be together that very day in Paradise.  When Jesus gave up His spirit He immediately went to Heaven.  The thief followed shortly after.  When Jesus was resurrected on Sunday, His spirit returned from Heaven and entered His resurrection body.  In so doing He illustrated the path for all who have trusted in Him.  When we die our spirit goes immediately to Heaven.  After a time our spirits will be reunited with our personal resurrection bodies.  The nature of our life changes from mortal to immortal but life is continuous.  As Jesus instructed His disciples, the one who has believed in Him will never see death.  One who observes a dying saint may not be able to see this transition because we still look with natural eyes.  But Jesus has paid the price and paved the way for us to walk in full confidence that we, too, will move from one state of living to another in an unbroken existence.  And one day we, too, will have a reuniting of our spirit with a wonderful resurrection body, as well.  All because of the events of that great really happened...He was not defeated by death...He is the Lord of Life!
John 8:51 "Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death."
blessings to all who would live forever,
Rob Smith

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Jesus was so alone when He went through the torture and cruelty of that last day of His life.  After ministering God's love, healing and instruction for three years to thousands of people...after daily instructing and mentoring twelve disciples...after faithfully keeping the Law and honoring His Father....He faced the final and most important challenge of His earthly mission alone.  He was betrayed by one of the twelve, abandoned by the remaining eleven, rejected by the people He came to save and unjustly condemned by the leaders of His religion and of His government.  He was stripped of every particle of clothing and cruelly beaten and there was no one to stand for Him or with Him.  He went to the Cross and He was even cut off from His heavenly Father.  There was no one to intercede, no one to share the burden, no one to correct this injustice.  Still today millions ignore Him, reject Him, and judge Him cruelly.  Just like those who put Jesus through that horrific time twenty centuries ago they don't fully realize who He is.  The world would just like Jesus to go away because He reminds us that we are deeply flawed and essentially corrupt.  We'd rather go on our way and do whatever we want in complete denial of the possibility of judgment.  But Jesus wouldn't let us face that judgment alone.  He knew that a time was coming when we would be fairly judged for the content of our earthly days and that we had no hope, alone.  He was willing to endure every injustice by Himself that we might have one to stand with us who would always stand for us.   He was willing to be alone for us that we might be in His company forever.
Isaiah 53: 3 He is despised and rejected by men,
      A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
      And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
      He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
       4 Surely He has borne our griefs
      And carried our sorrows;
      Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
      Smitten by God, and afflicted.



Rob Smith

Friday, April 2, 2010

the problem with being special

I suspect that we know that we are special.  And this causes problems.  In reality we are constructed of the same materials with very similar anatomy as many other animals...especially mammals.  Our body systems are very similar to the monkey and not all that dissimilar to the family dog.  Sure we have a little more intelligence, but it's good to remember that it's still just a three pound brain that does all the processing for us.  I think we know that we are more than the sum of our parts...from the beginning of our lives there is a sense that we are part of something much bigger.  I think we know that we are more than just a biological being.  In fact, our bodies function so well, that I think we almost forget how biological we the extent that we can be surprised when we get sick and can be in complete denial of the prospect of death.  Isn't it amazing that we, who are flesh, bone, and blood can also know the One who is Spirit?  Isn't it remarkable that we who are born, mature and age totally in the context of this gravity-bound place can be absolutely certain that we have a personal relationship with a King who lives in a place that no rocket ship can reach, no submarine can search out, no archaeologist can exhume?  Yes, I think we know that we are special.  Unfortunately, I think we often think we are special because of something we have done or just because we tend to put ourselves on personal pedestals.  If only we can realize that the "specialness" we are confident of is the non-anatomical part of our being that belongs to eternity...then we can reconcile the problem of having a special identity carried in a temporary biological wrapper.  When we realize that we are special because He is special we find that our biological identity is merely a whistle stop on the eternal train we ride.  When we are free of the limits of this anatomy we will become aware of the long train we are aboard.  But for now we can appreciate the wonder of having a spiritual identity that can fully connect with our spiritual Father while traveling in this remarkable two-legged package we recognize when we look in the mirror.
Isaiah 38:16 O Lord, by these things men live;
      And in all these things is the life of my spirit;
      So You will restore me and make me live.
       17 Indeed it was for my own peace
      That I had great bitterness;
      But You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption,
      For You have cast all my sins behind Your back.
blessings for a very Good Friday,
Rob Smith

Thursday, April 1, 2010

give and take

Romans, chapter 12 leads with a few familiar verses: 1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
It is a revolutionary actually live for God instead of ourselves.  It is only reasonable to live for Him and to allow Him full sway over our minds, hearts and actions.  Of course, we humans don't always let reason drive us. 
The next section of chapter 12 (verses 3-8) goes on to discuss how we differ from each other in terms of gifts while we are members of the same body.  The thought occurred that, when you are one member of a body, you have something unique to offer while simultaneously having many needs only others can fill.  You have something to give and something to take.  You might call it a "laboratory of living".  In our human bodies, while the eye provides a tremendous gift of vision, it cannot function without blood supply and without the processing center of the brain.  There is a wonder of vision and a greater wonder of the integration of body systems.  Moreover, the gift of vision has little meaning apart from a body that can take what is seen and respond.  Just as living for God is reasonable, so is living in the context of a body the most appropriate and fulfilling place for the Believer in Christ.  It is hard to explain how the human body works....and it is a wonder.  The world cannot understand how the body of believers works....and it is wonderful.    After all, the body of Christ doesn't ultimately exist to serve itself alone, but to serve and to reach those outside the body!  This kind of body can successfully live out the words of the final verse of the chapter:  21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Rob Smith