Friday, May 14, 2010

Heavenly home

2 Corinthians 5:1 For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, 3 if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. 4 For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
6 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.
I was stunned this morning to read the verses above and to consider the reality of Heaven.  Heaven is just as real as my hometown.  It's a place I will go to when this "earthly house" of a human body is no more.  Paul is eager to go the eternal house made by God, Himself.  We can relate to Paul when he describes his life in the body with "groaning".  Life here is full of groaning as we contend with sin and as our body, and the frail bodies of our friends and family, suffer with sickness and inevitable decline.  Paul describes this life as the clearly inferior form of living...there will be a place to live and clothing to wear that is designed for eternity.  He says that the life of Heaven will ultimately "swallow up" this mortal version.  Many, if not most, people live in pessimism.  In the back of their minds death lurks as the end of the life experience, with life after death a great unknown.  God has give those who have trusted in Him a taste of Heaven, through the witness of His Holy Spirit in our minds and hearts.  This is our guarantee that Heaven truly lies just ahead.  As a result, we can walk by a sense seeing our eternal home before we can actually see it.  And we no longer fear death as an end, but are pleased to walk through death's door at the appointed finally be in the presence of our Lord!
blessings to all who will one day walk in Heaven,
Rob Smith

Thursday, May 13, 2010

looking at the invisible

2 Corinthians 4:18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
I think I've come across one of the big reasons why Christians feel double-minded, living a sub-par life and only limited in effectiveness:  We aren't looking at the unseen enough!  This sounds can you see things which can't be seen?  But then, as we think about it, isn't everything that is of lasting value unseen?  We can't see God, Jesus, Heaven or any of the spiritual dynamic forces such as grace, mercy and peace.  Yet, if we meditate over these "unseen things" we experience a great filling of joy, peace and purpose and we are realigned with our eternal destiny.  This morning I was greatly encouraged and challenged as I read through 2 Corinthians, chapter 4.   Paul was sharply focused on his unseen God in everything he seemed to do.  He discusses the wonder of the "One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" (verse 6)  Paul reminds us that this Light is a treasure, beyond any that can be seen or touched, and yet it lives inside us...something like putting an intense laser beam inside a simple clay pot.  When others see the impact of this invisible Light on our lives and in our purpose, some of them will also be drawn to look for the invisible source...only to find themselves looking into the face of God.   There is natural light we cannot see (infrared and ultraviolet) and there is supernatural light that can only be seen by the seeking heart.
Rob Smith

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

play the record

My daughter Bethany recently sent me three custom recorded CD's of mountain music, folk music and Irish music...all favorite styles of mine.  Yesterday I enjoyed cranking up the stereo and filling the cabin of my car with the twang of those vocals, the crisp guitar and banjo picks and the emotion of the fiddle.  It struck me that I was having a pretty intense experience listening to something that had been amazingly recorded on a flat disk that was the size of a one dimensional donut (how about those IPOD's and MP3 players with thousands of songs in something the size of a cigarette lighter!).  Anytime I want, I can push a few buttons and play any favorite song I want and sing along (I know it's not safe to use cell phones in the car...I think it's safe to sing as long as you are alone!).  With this technology something very small and compact that doesn't appear to have anything to do with music or emotion transforms into a virtual orchestra or concert.  I can activate this enjoyable experience whenever I want.  I thought about the Bible.  Although not as small as an MP3 player (unless we're talking "recorded Bible") there are thousands of spiritual recordings that I can play whenever I want.  These recordings transform something that appears to be an ordinary book into a living, dynamic orchestra of meaning that can grab my heart and soul, spin my mind, and realign my life to satisfying truth.  More than that, it becomes a vehicle that can transport me directly into the teaching and comforting presence of God, Himself!  Yesterday I gained a fresh appreciation for the concentrated power of man's music technology and for the spiritual power concentrated in God's Word.  I suppose the degree of appreciation I have for each really turns on my willingness to listen and my attitude of appreciation and involvement.  He has recorded the music of life and made it available to us in a compact and accessible form.
2 Chronicles 34:30 The king went up to the house of the LORD, with all the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem—the priests and the Levites, and all the people, great and small. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant which had been found in the house of the LORD. 31 Then the king stood in his place and made a covenant before the LORD, to follow the LORD, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book.
Rob Smith

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

turn around!

Do you know the feeling that you have when you sense someone is behind you even though you can't see them?  At some point you try to find a discrete way of moving or turning so you can confirm their presence and recognize the person.  It's almost eery how we can sense another human being that way.  The Lord comes up behind us, as well, and is very interested to find out if we will turn to Him.  He doesn't necessarily shake us by the shoulder, or push us in the back but it's interesting that often people sense He is there and yet don't want to turn.  The people of Israel were used to being shielded from the brilliance of God's glory.  They couldn't even look on Moses' face as he came down, radiant, from being in God's presence.  He had to wear a veil over his face to reduce the holy glow so they could gaze at him as he presented the tablets and returned from the mountain top.  Amazingly, there are many who even read the Bible but do not see God clearly....there is a veil that still lies between them and the Lord.  But we have a wonderful promise...if we become aware that God is near...and we are very likely to do so if we read the Bible...and we sincerely turn around and fully face Him...the veil drops away and we truly see the Lord.  With nothing between us and the Lord we feel His glory full in the face and reflect Him as Moses did centuries ago...and He begins to transform us into His own image, step by step. 
2 Corinthians 3:15 But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. 16 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Rob Smith
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Monday, May 10, 2010

staking a claim

In the old days (and maybe still in some remote places) miners would "stake a claim" to land they reserved to search for gold.  They would actually drive wooden pegs into the ground to mark the boundaries of the spot.   Once the land was secured, they could sift through streams and pick through rock in that space to find the small pieces of the precious rock that could make their fortune...and they wouldn't worry about intruders because the miners respected each other's claim.  I saw another form of claim this morning.  Perched high above the pond I visit were, not one, but two bald eagles.  They gazed regally over the pond as a King and Queen might look over their domain from a castle.  Surely they have staked a claim to the pond as their fishing hole.  As I read in 2nd Corinthians, Chapter 1 this morning, I was reminded that God has also "staked His claim" on us.  Verses 21 and 22 say it this way:

21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, 22 who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.  The Lord has made to clear to all of Creation and all forces, both good and evil, that we are His.  He has staked out our lives and is in the process of mining the treasures that are locked within.  And, I am confident that the Lord's pegs which are secured by the Holy Spirit, will keep our territory safe from any "claim jumpers".   After all, the pegs that hold this claim were actually nails that held our Savior to a cross 2000 years ago.



Rob Smith

Saturday, May 8, 2010

the company we keep

1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: "Bad company corrupts good morals."
I've been thinking about the many voices we hear each day.  Some of those voices speak over electronic media, like the internet or television or the movies.  Some speak in print through newspapers and magazines.  These many voices are easily accessible and we are drawn to them to fuel our natural appetites for information.  We live in the information age.  There is no end to the accessibility of knowledge and with wireless computers and smartphones it is a snap to plug into many voices.  The Corinthians didn't have electronic company like we do.  Paul's advice to them (verse above) must have pertained to the direct human contacts and teachers they surrounded themselves with.  But since we share the same weaknesses as those Greeks from long ago we know that we also must be careful about the company we keep.  The voices we listen to and the characters we surround ourselves with will shape our thoughts and guide our actions.  As Christians we say that we long to walk with the Lord and to follow His ways...but I suspect that we throw logs in our own paths by listening far more to other voices than the Lord's.  Of course we need the world's news and we benefit greatly from electronic advances, but are we giving primary attention to His voice?  What is the company we are keeping?  The voices of the world are more convenient than ever, but the eternal Word has always been even closer!
Romans 10: 8 But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 
Rob Smith

Friday, May 7, 2010


It isn't hard to treasure your own life.  After all, it's the only life you have.  You've had this life all your life and you hope to enjoy the experience of living for an eternally long time!  But this morning I thought about how important it is to treasure the lives of "others".  I mean, where would we be without the other people that God chartered to share life on the planet at the same time we have lived here?  Because of others, our walk with God can be "sharpened".  Because of "others" we have someone to lift us up when we are down.  Who would be the "objects of our affection" if we didn't have others stalking the land with us.  Oh, it's critical that we have God and we're challenged to love, lean, look and learn in His direction.  But then we need to love others the way we love ourselves.  I mean, where would we practice all the great teachings of First Corinthians, chapter 13, if we didn't have others?  Love appears to be more an action than a feeling from that chapter and we need others to practice the patience, unselfishness, and kindness on that define love.  This morning I am very grateful for my own life...but I am becoming aware in a fresh way of just how much I need all the "others" who add the challenge, purpose and encouragement to this life of mine.
Philippians 2:3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus
blessings (to all the others),
Rob Smith

Thursday, May 6, 2010

in defense of marriage

An article caught my eye this morning.  The headline declared: "41 percent of births were to unmarried women in 2008"
It confirmed what I've been sensing for some time: marriage is very much in decline.  Somehow we have made the genders competitors rather than completers.  The beauty of God's design is that marriage provides a home for the most different of human beings: men and women.  No doubt we can endlessly discuss and debate the causes for marriage's precipitous drop in popularity.  But I have an idea that it comes from one basic problem.  We no longer cherish how each partner complements the other.  The inherent beauty of marriage is something like the completion of a jigsaw puzzle.  Men and women each carry a bag of puzzle pieces.  At a certain point they decide to find out just what the picture in the puzzle looks like.  They can only do that by pooling their pieces of the puzzle and by taking time to complete the picture.  We have an individual identity as men and women but there is another identity that marriage creates which is some marvelous composite of the two.  The marriage makes a home and creates a place of dynamic tension and balance that is perfect to safely introduce children to a world where balance and tension are the norm.  Marriage is not a merger of convenience that provides certain financial and tax benefits.  It is a wonder that rivals the atom, where negative and positive particles are tightly held.  So long as those forces are in balance the atoms become molecules and the molecules become all the matter that makes the physical world.  Split the atom and you release the power that has been needed to hold them together.  That released power is destructive, but retained in the atom, marvelously constructive.  The power God has placed within marriage is the glue that builds lives, communities and countries.  Sadly, the world has lost the beauty of this completed puzzle.  Perhaps we can show them another way!
Matthew 19:4And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,  5And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
Rob Smith

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

spring music

One of the background delights of spring is the sound of birds, singing and calling to each other.  When you step outside in the middle of the winter you just don't hear them making music.  Somehow the song of birds is a fitting complement to the adornment of trees with leaves and the bursting of color from flowering blossoms.  A little research shows that birds actually learn their music from parents.  Generally the male makes the sounds and teaches the male chicks.  The songs and calls of a species are very similar but there are subtle variations that allow parents to find their offspring.  Scientists are confident that birds sing as a warning, to define territories and to keep track of their young.  Birds also just seem to enjoy making music that expresses their identity.  It's interesting that some birds continue to learn new sounds throughout life...some birds are skilled at mimicking others...some pairs of birds are able to sing in perfectly timed unison (called duetting).  Musicologists believe that bird songs have played a key role in the development of human music.  Great composers like Vivaldi and Beethoven have incorporated bird song into their compositions.  Even rock musicians used birds in the background of some of their recordings and one particular piece: "Birdsong" was written to remember the late Janis Joplin.  Of course the music of birds has also inspired many poets and is linked with our own romance.  I like to think that our Lord has composed the music of birds to celebrate the visual beauty and pleasant fragrance of spring with an equal delight for our ears and for His.  Beauty has its own purpose as it reflects the artistry of the Creator.
Psalm 84:3-4 Birds find nooks and crannies in your house,
      sparrows and swallows make nests there.
   They lay their eggs and raise their young,
      singing their songs in the place where we worship.
   God-of-the-Angel-Armies! King! God!
      How blessed they are to live and sing there!
Rob Smith

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

set for life

"Winning the lottery isn't always what it's cracked up to be," says Evelyn Adams, who won the New Jersey lottery not just once, but twice (1985, 1986), to the tune of $5.4 million. Today the money is all gone and Adams lives in a trailer.


Most of us have not won the lottery, at least we haven't won millions in the lottery.  The poor gal quoted above won twice.  You'd think she'd be set for life, but it hasn't worked out that way.


William "Bud" Post won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania lottery in 1988 but now lives on his Social Security. 

A former girlfriend successfully sued him for a share of his winnings.   A brother was arrested for hiring a hit man to kill him, hoping to inherit a share of the winnings.


Wow, winning $16 million almost cost this fellow his life instead of setting him up for life!   One man has studied the plight of former lottery winners and has concluded that many winners have a hard time with the psychology of sudden riches:

"Often they can keep the money and lose family and friends -- or lose the money and keep the family and friends -- or even lose the money and lose the family and friends."


Money, especially big-time money, is a mirage in the desert of life's difficulty.  And we often think we can make it through the desert if we can just stumble into that mirage and find it to be an oasis.  But that kind of attitude about money is nothing more than a mirage.  Big money, suddenly attained, attracts financial vultures posing as friends and can make us think we are now above the problems of living.  We thought we wanted to become rich to escape our problems and to be "set for life" to do the things that make life really living.  We find that our riches don't come from sudden wealth but from the One who faithfully empties the coffers of Heaven to meet our needs, as they arise, in the course of living.  We are not set for life by being set free from financial need.  We are set for life when we come alive to the Creator, who is also our provider.  He is the one who faithfully doled out just enough manna for His people to eat each day and He is still our Provider today!


Proverbs 17:16 Of what use is money in the hand of a fool, since he has no desire to get wisdom?



Rob Smith

Monday, May 3, 2010


I have been intrigued with the possibility of getting one of these new "smartphones".  You know... the palm-sized phone with a screen that lets you connect to the internet, call anyone anywhere, play music, take pictures and even use for navigation.  It's like the ultimate information service and you can carry it in your pocket.  It seems you need three things for this device to be effective: a quality phone, a quality network and an array of quality applications.   One ad tells me I can "Discover the world around you: Find friends, things to do, and places to go."  Another phone promises: "You ask.  It knows.  It's a pint-sized power plant.  It's location-aware, Voice-recognizing, App-mashing, and multitasking.  And it will connect you to anyone or anything at breakneck speed."  It's just amazing how far and how fast technology has come.  Sometimes I feel like an analog person in a digital age.  But then I remember that I was introduced 38 years ago to a non-electronic information package that is actually far superior to the smart phones of today.  Instead of a "digital" format, this method uses a spiritual protocol.  My password was assigned for eternity when I realized that Jesus had bought me an eternal subscription to His heavenly network, when He died in my place.  I learned that I have instant access to Heaven's throne and God's ear whenever I call and the network has no "black out" areas or dead spots.  My calls won't be dropped.  The applications are limitless: answers to questions about truth and purpose, pictures of eternity, navigation through life and connection to a spiritual fellowship that is far beyond Facebook (might be called Lifebook).  This "Life Phone" came with an instruction book that seemed large and long at first (my Bible) but has proven invaluable to maximize the service.  I am used to the Family Plan I have on my cell phone that lets me call family members limitlessly, without charge.  My spiritual service is like that.  I can tap into Heaven for extended calls, with no additional charge.  Sometimes I forget how useful the spiritual network is and I neglect to call.  (Maybe that's cause I'm too busy thinking about my cell phone and these new smart phones).
Jeremiah 33: 3Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.
Rob Smith