Wednesday, June 30, 2010

built for praise

I have been reading the Psalms this month and, as I finished the last five psalms today, I noticed that each of the last five psalms begins with the same words: "Praise the Lord!"  I especially love the exclamation point!  Praise is all about the exclamation we so need to exclaim our love for the Lord with all that is in us.  Praise is the outward and physical expression that is the overflow of a heart that has known the tender touch of the God who lives and lives within.  We need to tell God how much we love Him.  We need to demonstrate and show with voice and body that we love Him...for if we are not willing to do that, what will we reserve our praise for?  To what should we sing...To what should we dance...To what should we shout in wonder and thanks...To what should we outstretch our arms?  Praise is the response of a grateful heart and God, Himself, inhabits that praise!  Praise is our way of giving thanks with an exclamation point to the Great One, before whom we shall ride the Heavens forever!
Psalm 28:7 The LORD is my strength and my shield;
         My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped;
         Therefore my heart greatly rejoices,
         And with my song I will praise Him.
Rob Smith

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The greater reality

There is a reality waiting to jump on us every day as we get out of bed and face our world.  It is a real world of work, money, marriage, family and major world issues of economy and war.  We generally don't have to worry about leading dull lives...problems will find us and decisions will confront us.  Most of us feel that life is very full and constantly challenging.  But this morning I was reminded that there is a greater reality that runs over, through and around that very real set of issues.  There is the reality of God.  He is continually present, awesome in power, absolutely dependable and personally invested in our lives.  It seems to me that the great question is: how will we bring the greater reality of God into the personal reality of our lives?  I think we often allow these two realities to run in parallel with each other...or we may forget the reality of God, entirely.  Perhaps one key is starting our day with a focus on the greater reality of God.  David paints this picture from Psalm 144:1-2  "Blessed be the Lord, my rock and my keen and firm strength, Who teaches my hands to war and my fingers to fight;  My steadfast tower and my fortress, my high tower and my deliverer, my shield and He in Whom I trust and take refuge".  I am reminded that God wants to be God in us and for us so that it is clear He is God to us and to others.  He is the true reality and we are His.
Rob Smith

Monday, June 28, 2010

walking openly in the garden

Do you remember the story of Adam and Eve and how, after they disobeyed God, they tried to hide from Him in the forest?  I'm not sure what they were thinking!  Having know God face to face did they really think they could hide from Him?  This morning, as I walked under a bright early summer morning sky, I realized that we are still living in the garden.  We are surrounded by God's handiwork.  Here in Virginia the mature pine and hardwood tries tower over us and the colors of summer blossoms from crape myrtles brighten the scene all around.  As I walked I realized that I do not want to hide from God.  In fact, I want to feel His presence and enjoy His company.  It occurrred to me that, because of the price Jesus has paid, I can come out of hiding and, once again, walk openly in the garden with our Lord.  I think we hide in many ways from Him.  We allow our personal busy lives to crowd Him out.  We place our personal and self-centered interests and thoughts ahead of Him.  We allow disobedience and sin to separate us from His company.  It struck me that I often think about what Heaven will be like and I reflect on living eternally in the brightness of God, but I may not be enjoying His company here, nearly as much as I could.  As much as we value our eternal lives in Heaven, I believe the God of Heaven longs to live in the midst of his Creation.  In Psalm 132 the thought is expressed this way: (verses 13-14) For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His habitation.  This is my resting place for ever;  here I will dwell, for I have desired it.  There are many purposes and plans for us in this life.  Surely one of the highest privileges we have is to come out of the woods and walk through this garden openly with our God.
Rob Smith

Friday, June 25, 2010

the precious tree

I was driving home the other day and as I drove past a familiar yard I spotted my favorite tree.  This tree, like all trees, is made of wood but I have noticed that it can come in many sizes and even shapes.  It doesn't sprout pine needles or oak leaves and it doesn't run with sap.  Like other trees, it may be green, but it may come in many colors as well.  Most trees need the breath of wind to cause them to sway and move, but this tree doesn't need that help.  I suppose the best name for this tree is the "Children Tree".  It generally has a variety of swings, slides, ladders and forts that make up its branches.  But the motion of the tree always comes from its precious fruit, the children.  They hang off the tree from every angle and because of the energy they generate, this tree doesn't need chlorophyll or sap to come to life.  The Children Tree is the most precious tree because it is where the next crop of adults will come from...who will one day drive by in their cars and smile.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

essentially spiritual

As I spent time this morning at the placid water's edge of my favorite pond, and worked through the 176 verses of Psalm 119, I reflected on the reality of God and the relationship I have with Him.  As the writer of Psalm 119 states over and over, we find peace, meaning, truth, refuge, purpose, wisdom and all the answers we need in God's Word.  Upon leaving the pond and heading home I reflected on this and realized that we are essentially spiritual beings.  We spend a lot of time, worry and energy on the dimensions of living that we think matter and we often neglect to serve our greatest need.  I thought about Maslow's Hierarchy of Need...the familiar psychological theory that states the progression of needs man must satisfy from basic survival to self actualization.  I think he left out "spiritual fulfillment" and that is probably our greatest need.  It is the inner person...the eternal person...the deepest heart and the innermost recess of the mind...the part of us that is most human and most in touch with God.  We may be unhappy at times because we have neglected that part of our identity that is most important.  I think that the good news here is that we can often be restored by returning our focus to Him, waiting quietly in His presence, immersing in His word, allowing His company to not only provide the answers...but to be the answer.  For we are essentially spiritual and we were made in His image.
Psalm 119:14 I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
         As much as in all riches.
 15 I will meditate on Your precepts,
         And contemplate Your ways.
 16 I will delight myself in Your statutes;
         I will not forget Your word.
Rob Smith

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

mind of Christ

Hebrews 10:16 "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,"  (from Jeremiah 31:33 as well)
1 Corinthians 2: 16For who has known or understood the mind (the counsels and purposes) of the Lord so as to guide and instruct Him and give Him knowledge? But we have the mind of Christ (the Messiah) and do hold the thoughts (feelings and purposes) of His heart. [Amplified Bible]
This morning I was struck with the thought that, as believers in Christ, we are more than changed and more than forgiven.  We are even more than ambassadors, or representatives, of the Lord.  The relationship is the most intimate one possible, reaching even to the realm of our thoughts.  The passages above are a reminder that the Lord fills our inner person and that we can actually bow before His immediate presence in the midst of our minds and hearts.  The Lord is not only close...He is within!
Ephesians 2:21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
Colossians 1:26 the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. 27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
This great wonder and mystery...of Christ living within...solidifies our hope of being with Him forever and draws others to Him.  If God can be real inside our hearts and minds, then we have a God who truly desires the closest of relationships.
Rob Smith

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

nation of God

As I read through Psalms 106-110 this morning I thought about the special relationship of the people of Israel with God.  It occurred to me that the only thing that distinguished them from every other nation was their relationship to God.  Even now the people of Israel are a living testimony to the historical accuracy of the Bible; the only reason they are a nation is because God, Himself, established them way back in the time of Genesis.  They started as individuals (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob) and grew into a family.  The family grew into a nation.  Today that nation still exists.  Other nations of the world had their origins in strong leaders and political systems, but they have risen and fallen, never to be seen again.  I don't think there is a single nation currently on the face of the earth that can trace its history and political system back as far as Israel.  And this is true despite the harshest efforts of some to persecute, scatter and destroy Israel through the centuries.  I believe we can see the faithfulness of God to preserve a nation and be encouraged that He is also faithful to preserve all who have become His children through faith in His Son.  The nation of Israel is not great today by virtue of its size, but by virtue of its existence.  And we are not great by virtue of our wealth, power, or accomplishment, but by virtue of our existence through the grace of the God who will preserve us forever, just as He has preserved His nation, Israel.
Genesis 13: 14 The LORD said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, "Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring  forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted.
Rob Smith

Monday, June 21, 2010

a river in the desert

Psalm 105:41 He opened the rock, and water gushed out;
       like a river it flowed in the desert.
I enjoyed reading Psalm 105 this morning.  It recounts the histroy of the people of Israel from Abraham to Joseph to the deliverance from Egypt.  The verse above reminded me of God's presence and provision in our lives, even when we go through "desert" experiences of life.  The first several verses of the psalm provide action words that we can follow to stay in alignment with the Lord and to fully experience Him.
1 Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name;
       make known among the nations what he has done.

 2 Sing to him, sing praise to him;
       tell of all his wonderful acts.

 3 Glory in his holy name;
       let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.

 4 Look to the LORD and his strength;
       seek his face always.

 5 Remember the wonders he has done,
       his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,


These five verses capture the heart of our relationship with the Lord.  We need to look to Him, remember all He has done for us, thank Him and actively worship Him in heart and voice.  I believe we will then truly appreciate the rivers He sends our way, even as we trudge across the hot desert sands and dry times of life.



Rob Smith

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

Malachi 4:6 "And he will turn
      The hearts of the fathers to the children,
      And the hearts of the children to their fathers,
      Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse."  
The verse above is the final verse in the Old Testament.  The verse is wrapped up in the last chapter of the Old Testament, of course, and that chapter seems to tell of a coming time of judgment.  There will come a time when the reality of God will not be something that people debate.  We will be directly before Him and all our phoniness will dissipate.  But today is Father's Day and I was struck that father's are central to the last thoughts of the final prophet to speak before Jesus actually arrives in the New Testament.  I don't completely know the significance of this verse.  One thought I have is that when fathers are focused on their children and children are focused on their fathers there is a priority given to "passing on" important truth to the next generation.  We tend to be self-absorbed throughout our lives but there is a truth about the reality of God, the reality of knowing God and the reality of ultimate judgment and eternity that must be lived out before children and that must be communicated to that they can also live and pass on that perspective to their children.  For this 'passing of the baton' to take place father's need hearts that love their children with eternity in mind and children need to realize that it is necessary to listen and observe as their father's earnestly seek to hand off the greatest of truth to them.  Praise the Lord that fathers and children have followed this model for thousands of years and hundreds of generations, so that we have also come to know the Lord and find our true Heavenly Father.
Happy father's day with thanks for the children God has blessed me with (Meredith, Courtney and Bethany), so that I could be a father.
Rob Smith

Saturday, June 19, 2010

an acceptable offering

We are doing the Mini Bible survey of the Old Testament in our adult education program at church.  Tomorrow we actually are doing the first of two classes on the last book of the O.T...."Malachi".  I remember my early days as a believer and some friends who were a little older in the faith told me about the Italian prophet and they pronounced "Malachi" with the "ch" sounding the same as the 'ch' in cheese (accent on the second syllable).  Malachi hits the major themes of the entire Old Testament in four short chapters and the love of God is contrasted sharply with the arrogance of man.  One of the problems God has with His people in Malachi's day was their attitude toward the offerings they made to God.  Rather than picking the unblemished animals to offer for sacrifice, they'd keep those in their personal flocks and throw in some unwanted and unhealthy animals...something like taking all your worn out clothes and furniture to a charity.  Really, your interest may be more in getting rid of unwanted things than in being a blessing to those who rarely see something new or unbroken.  I was thinking about offerings and why God is so keyed up about them...and then it hit me...God made the greatest offering of all when He offered His only Son to be sacrificed for my sin.  Only a perfect sacrifice was good enough to satisfy God's standard of perfection.  But then I was really blown away by this thought:  God doesn't force anyone to accept His love, His salvation, His presence now and forever.  It is an offering He makes to's an offering rather than a mandate.  And despite the perfection of the offering, the Holy Source of the offering and the promise that is certain in our acceptance of the offering...many decline the offer.  This is the wonder of God and the mystery of man.  The movie Godfather, made in the 1970's with Marlon Brando as an Italian mafia family leader made famous the line "I made him an offer he couldn't refuse...", referring to the power and control he had in granting and collecting on favors.  The one true God has made us an offer that we can refuse...and many do.   We may not sacrifice our best for others, but God has...and He still extends the offer, today.
Malachi 1:8 And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice,
      Is it not evil?
      And when you offer the lame and sick,
      Is it not evil?
      Offer it then to your governor!
      Would he be pleased with you?
      Would he accept you favorably?"
      Says the LORD of hosts.
Malachi 1:1-2 The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi.  " I have loved you," says the LORD.
Rob Smith

Friday, June 18, 2010

imperfect reflection

1 Corinthians 13:12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.


This morning the weather is perfect...temperature about 70 degrees,  a brand new blue sky and sharply etched trees in the low-humidity air.  My favorite pond was calm and glassy, disturbed only by mild breezes and the ripples of turtle heads popping up like submarine periscopes.  The bald eagle perched motionless, as if modeling for a stamp artist, and there was a blanket of peace over all.  I thought about the reflection that the pond surface made of the trees along the edge.  At first glance it appeared a mirror image...but then I realized that the minor disturbances of the watery table top caused an imperfect picture that wavered and didn't precisely picture the surrounding scene, despite the calm conditions.  I thought about this life and our experiences in it.  We have a pond-like mirror of Heaven as our world reflects the hand of its Creator.  The ripples and disturbances of our natural world and of our personal lives make a perfect reflection impossible...but we do see Him, however unclearly.  One day, when days no longer define our lives, and eternity is fully realized we will no longer see Him in reflected glory.  We will see Him face to face, because we will be with Him with nothing between.  For now, we study Him in the puzzle of His reflection and we know Him in part.  But just as a mirror only has two dimensions while direct vision sees in depth, so we will see Him in clarity and depth...on the far side of this pond.



Rob Smith

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Knowing trumps believing

Psalm 84:5 And how blessed all those in whom you live,
      whose lives become roads you travel;
Recently I heard a former Prisoner of War from the Viet Nam war speak.  Retired Admiral Jeremiah Denton shared insights and memories linking back to his 8 years as a prisoner in Hanoi.  The first thing he said was: "I no longer believe in God...I know God!"  He went on to tell how God had given him strength when his mind and body could take no more torture and when he was forced to live in a four-foot square closet for over 2 and 1/2 years of solitary confinement.   He shared that it was the most serene and wonderful time of his life because he felt the Lord with him continually.  This morning, as I read through several Psalms, I was struck by the difference between "believing" and "knowing".  By the wonderful love of God, our eyes were opened to grasp His reality and our absolute need for deliverance from the sin that is embedded in our nature.  We responded to that love and opened our heart to Him, and we felt the deliverance from sin that we needed.  But we don't always move past the gateway of salvation into the courts of relationship.  I was reminded from Psalm 84:5, above, that God now lives in me and my life is one of the roads He travels.  He knows me and I know Him...we've moved well beyond the question of believing!
blessings, with encouragement to walk in awareness of the One we believe in!
Rob Smith

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

the eagle and the heron

Yesterday we thought about the eagle, perched high above the pond, and how he spots and catches fish that swim just below the surface.  I was thinking today about the heron and how he fishes in a different way.  He stands quietly by the ege of the the water, or on a dead log, and watches for his prey.  When he spots a fish within reach his neck uncoils and his spear-like bill is thrust into the water to impale his prey.  The heron, or egret, has long stilt legs.  In fact everything about the heron is long...legs, wings and beak.  When he wants to fly it is a bit of a process for him to unfold all of his flight equipment and pull his way into the air.  Once there, he is very graceful as his wings expand and pull the air with long strokes and he carries his legs tucked up beneath his body to maintain an aerodynamic shape.  So the eagle and the heron are different in just about every way: in flight, in appearance and in fishing technique.....but they both catch fish.  Perhaps we can relate to this as we fish in the Lord's pond.  Of course we don't intend to devour the Lord's fish...we want to fish for men so that they won't be eaten by sin.  I suppose that some of us may fish like the eagle...starting from high places and swooping in with speed.   And some of us may fish like the heron, poised a few feet from our target.  But in either case, just like the birds, we need vision, patience and skill.  I am challenged this morning to consider how to improve my fishing in the Lord's pond.
Job 12:

 7 "But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
       or the birds of the air, and they will tell you;

 8 or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
       or let the fish of the sea inform you.


blessings to other fishermen (whether you're an eagle or a heron),

Rob Smith

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

the eagle and the fish

I have been fascinated to watch a bald eagle swoop down to catch a fish.  It turns out that, from their perch high above the water, the eagle can spot a fish from a mile away.  They don't actually dive into the water so they can only catch fish that are just below the surface with their powerful talons.  They generally catch fish like catfish that are downward looking because these fish can't see the eagle coming.  They catch and kill their prey with the puncturing grip of the talons.  Small fish are swallowed whole and the eagles have powerful beaks that can break up larger fish into bite-sized portions.  Eagles don't know where their next meal will come from and they are able to store food in a special place called the "crop" for up to a week.  They can gradually digest the contents of the crop over that time.  You might say that there are a few spiritual lessons from the eagle and the fish.  The lesson of the eagle is to gain a good vantage point to maximize their opportunity to see, find and feed to survive.  We need to put ourselves in a strong position to see God's truth and find our spiritual food.  We need to meditate on God's word and store it in our hearts and minds for the dry times, when we haven't caught a spiritual "fish" for a while.  I suppose the lesson of the fish is simple:  "Look up"!!  Sometimes we are the eagle and sometimes we are the fish.  Fortunately, the Lord owns the pond.
Job 9:25 "My days are swifter than a runner;
       they fly away without a glimpse of joy.

 26 They skim past like boats of papyrus,
       like eagles swooping down on their prey."


blessings (hope your day is more joyful than Job's!),


Monday, June 14, 2010

rock solid or rocky path

This weekend we visited an uncle of mine who lives near the Pocono mountains of eastern Pennsylvania.  I had never driven through this area, and was struck with the beauty of the rolling green terrain and the mountain ridges that loomed in the background.  He lives in an old mining town (Bangor) that is full of quaint Victorian mostly dilapidated, and a downtown with a main street named Broadway.  Broadway is lined with old bank buildings, a library and memorial statues that attest to an earlier time of prosperity, that now is past.  It turns out that Bangor had its prime about 100 years ago when the slate industry was booming.  When roofs were more commonly made of slate and school blackboards were still
"black" there were several companies pulling slate rock from the ground in the area.  A few thousand immigrants from Wales and Italy came over, built new lives..raised families...and established a new life nestled in the valley of the slate filled hills all around.   Bangor, itself, was named for a slate mining town in Wales.  It must have seemed that life would always go on, as it had for a few generations, in Bangor.  Nice jobs...prosperity for the working man...They were building their lives on a basic building material that was solid as a rock and they probably thought that they were as secure and strong as the slate was durable.  But times changed and new products made roofing from cheaper materials possible on a wide scale.  Even blackboards were made from new materials and were eventually replaced with "white boards" and I'm sure that put a dent in the chalk industry as well.  Now the streets of Bangor bare testimony to an earlier time.  People still live in the old homes and find ways to make a living...but the prosperity has moved to other places.
I think that, as Christians, we sometimes think that life will always go on as it has.  But change is a great reality in the spiritual history of people.  One day we may look around and find that we are in a far different place than we started...everything that is familiar may be changed.  It is vital that we form a trust relationship with God because He is the one constant during times of "sameness" and times of change.  While all about is in a process of change, He alone is unchanging.
Hebrews 6: 17Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. 19We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.
Rob Smith

Friday, June 11, 2010

a holy ambition

Psalm 51:6 Behold, You desire truth in the inner being; make me therefore to know wisdom in my inmost heart.
Psalms 51 through 55 have a lot to say about our tendency to sin against each other, and against God.  It seems we are bent on mischief, thinking we know a better way to make life work than leaning on God.  Talk about absurd...It's pretty obvious that our internal compass doesn't point to true North and our natural inclination is not to do, be, or go in the right direction.  But what if it became our focused purpose to please God?  What if we made it our life challenge to live right as we can, as we seek to keep Him in focus and follow His directions and demonstrate our love by commiting our actions to please Him?  What if it was "cool" to make holiness our pursuit?  What if there was a reality show where everyone sought to follow God as close as possible (and the winner would lay his prize at the cross)?  What if we began to see our lives full of the life that Jesus has made possible by conquering death?  I think we have the challenge of a lifetime in the quest for right-living.
Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
Rob Smith

Thursday, June 10, 2010

There is a river

Psalm 46:4 There is a river, whose streams shall make glad the city of God, the Holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High.
Shirley and I drove some back roads this past Sunday and found our way to a new development of homes on the York River.  As we stood on the bluff and looked up the river we could see the paper mill in West Point.  The river was wide here...maybe a few miles across.  A river is grand and beautiful.  It's expanse allows the eye to see far and the mind to think larger thoughts.  The boats on the river appeared small and were dwarfed by the water.  A river at rest holds the potential for awesome power and a river awakened by wind unleashes that power in waves and flooding.  A river carries cargo and passengers and provides fish (and crabs, in the York!).  Rivers were the highways of our early country and they remain important for transportation.  But there is a special river in Psalm 46 that delights the place of our Lord in Heaven.  I don't know for sure what this is referring to but I like to think about the connection we have with our God.  A river makes important connections and the river of God might be His gracious Son who has travelled great distances to find us and now we travel that river upstream to His City to worship our Lord.  And one day our boat will dock at Heaven's Gate and He will lead us to the throne.
blessings to others on the river, with a shout to those on the shore to jump in!
Rob Smith

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

He desires your beauty

Psalm 45:11 So will the king desire your beauty; for he is your lord; be submissive and reverence and honor him.
Over the years I have been impressed with the time and care that my lovely wife takes to prepare for activities outside the home.  I consider her beautiful just as she is and always have felt that way, even without a dab of makeup or before a brush touches her hair.  But, unlike me, whose focus is to see how little time it takes to clean up and change...she is careful and thoughtful in her selection of clothes and she enhances her natural beauty with the modest use of fragrances and cosmetics.  And she does this not just for important social functions...she does it routinely...even before going to work each day!  I suppose women may be more conscious, in general, of their physical attractiveness.  This morning, as I read Psalm 45, I thought about my attractiveness to the Lord.  How much time and care do I put into my inner beauty...that the Lord...the lover of my soul...would be drawn to me.  Am I working on the appearance of my attitudes...are my actions and thoughts full of grace and loving care for I adorning my heart with the fragrance of worship and gratitude to my heavenly King?  If the Lord is looking about to spend time with one of his subjects...would He be drawn to me?  Do I want to be beautiful for Him?   I need to take time and care to consider and prepare my inner person, that He would enjoy our time together.
Psalm 45:15  With gladness and rejoicing will they be brought; they will enter the king's palace.
Rob Smith

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The strength of weakness

Psalm 39:4 "LORD, make me to know my end,
         And what is the measure of my days,
         That I may know how frail I am."


The passage above stood out this morning as I navigated through Psalms 36-40.  I thought about the emphasis we have on strength, health, vitality and youthfulness and I realized that it's more important to have a grip on the temporary-ness of our lives and our inherent weakness.  We tend to roll from day to day, not wanting to face two truths: "We are going to die one day" and "There is nothing we can do about it".   But if we come to grips with those realities and move past them to the greater reality that we can be with God forever, we can begin to focus on developing our relationship with Him now.


Psalm 39:7 "And now, Lord, what do I wait for?
         My hope is in You."


The strength of weakness is that it can lead us to embrace His strength, and find our Hope in Him and not ourselves.



Rob Smith

Monday, June 7, 2010

one peace

John 16:33"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
There are many sources of stress in our lives.  Some of these start within us, as we wrestle with the challenges of daily living or as we contend with the consequences of poor choices we have made.  Some of the tensions that test us come from outside our lives, from the challenges of work, family and society.  Relationships may rock our world with difficulties and concerns from children, spouse, or neighbors.  On a larger scale, we see governments and economies tilt and sway and bend under forces that threaten to overturn the stability of our lives.  But this morning, as I read through several psalms by a peaceful pond, I gazed up to see the pair of eagles who often perch across the way and noticed that they seemed to be unconcerned about any of these things.  I suppose they were relatively confident that the fish supply in the pond would meet their survival need.  Their focus is simple and their peace secure.  I was reminded that there is really only one peace that I must secure and after that all is well, even if the world around or the world within swings off its hinges.  If I have peace with Jesus I have all the peace I need.  He has overcome the world and in Him I travel, as if in a secure boat.  The boat is rocked and pitches with the problems of living but, like the eagles, I am assured that He will carry me securely.  When we have peace with our Lord we have peace in the midst of unrest...a peace that overcomes the world.
Rob Smith

Saturday, June 5, 2010


One of the themes that runs through Psalms 21-25 (the ones I read today) centers on "trust" in God.  So I was thinking about trust.  Why do we trust in anything?  I think we must trust when we come up against challenges that we can't handle by ourselves.  If we can do it ourselves why would we need to trust some outside force or power?  We aren't able to commute 20 miles to work in half an hour by walking, so we trust in a car to do that.  Infants aren't able to feed, clean or dress themselves so they have no choice but to trust parents for those basic needs.  As you begin to consider what you need to "trust" for, the list quickly grows.  I wasn't able to build or buy my home without trusting in others for the construction and financing (and somehow the bank trusts me to keep the payments coming!).  Just as trust is a theme that runs through Psalms, so it is a theme that runs through our lives every day.   I think the reality of life is that we need help, beyond ourselves, for a high percentage of our needs.  Certainly it makes sense to trust the One who has given us life when we understand and control so little of it!  We come to Him out of need and in trust we find Him true.  Our faith is then established and our hope secured...for the unknowns of life and the challenges of living are beyond our knowledge and control.
Psalm 21:7 For the king trusts in the LORD,
         And through the mercy of the Most High he shall not be moved.
Psalm 22:9 But You are He who took Me out of the womb;
         You made Me trust while on My mother's breasts.
Psalm 25:2 O my God, I trust in You;
         Let me not be ashamed;
         Let not my enemies triumph over me.
Rob Smith

Friday, June 4, 2010

the guide

I remember making brief visits to foreign cities during my deployment to the Mediterranean years ago.  I was a fan of guided tours.  Many of the guys preferred to wander on their own or to hang out at the local pubs and bars....and some preferred to just absorb the local culture on their own.  But with limited time ashore, I liked having someone knowledgeable point out the important buildings and add the historical background.  We toured the ancient city of Ephesus, where the apostle Paul had spent much time, and saw the ruins of the great Temple of Diana and the toppled columns and rocky remains of Roman roads.  The guide pointed out a cave where, tradition says, the Apostle John took care of Mary, Jesus' mother,  before he was exiled to Patmos.  I appreciated being in a place where faith in our Lord and His Gospel had some of its early challenges and victories.  As I read Psalm 16 this morning I was reminded that our Lord is the ultimate "tour guide".  I'm destined to wander aimlessly and miss out on the best of life without His presence.  I was reminded that our relationship with the Lord is so much more than a one-time's all about experiencing life to the fullest.
Psalm16:11  You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
Rob Smith

Thursday, June 3, 2010

What does He see today?

Psalm 14: 2 The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men,
         To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.
I think it's amazing how we can separate our minds from our actions.  In our minds we know that God is everywhere.  Yet in our daily living we are able to totally block out that reality and replace it with the reality we manufacture.  I suppose this, also, doesn't escape our Lord's design.  When we are able to choose our focus and direct our thoughts wherever we want, will we choose to seek the One who gave us the ability to think and to make all choices?  It helps me to focus on the verse above from Psalm 14.  If I can picture the Lord as He looks down from heaven...looking for individuals who will look back to Him...perhaps I will look His way more often.
Rob Smith

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

merely men

Psalm 9:20 Put them in fear, O LORD,
         That the nations may know themselves to be but men.
Another exploratory walk this morning and I found a creek and some gorgeous views, as well as startling a deer who was surprised at my unexpected presence.  I even found a rough bench that someone had made in the past to rest in the midst of the woods, atop a knoll.  I continued in Psalms and the verse above seemed to emerge boldly.  I thought about how we elevate ourselves.  Although we are creatures we act like we are in charge so often.  We think our governments run the world and our ambitions govern our personal lives.  We are only men but we delude ourselves into thinking we are in charge.  David had such wisdom as he pleaded for the Lord to get our attention and show us the truth:  that we are "but men".  I suppose this is actually a liberating concept.  We are set free from trying to "run the show" and we are set free from understanding all the mysteries of life.  But mostly, we are liberated from ourselves that we might worship the One who gives life to wave after wave of men, who briefly appear and then move on from this stage.
Rob Smith

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The right path

Psalm 5:8 Lead me, O LORD, in Your righteousness because of my enemies;
         Make Your way straight before my face.
This morning I swathed myself in bug repellent and trudged into the woods to a favorite spot on a small manmade pond.  It had been awhile since I'd gone for a walk alone with the Lord and I was confident that there wouldn't be much human contact as I headed out.  I thought about the fact that there was little to think about but where to put my next step as I headed through thickly wooded spaces and crossed a small swamp (with boots on, fortunately).  I reached the pond and looked hopefully across the water, wanting to spy a heron or some geese.  But my only visible companion was a turtle, who was spying on his above-water world while his upturned bowl of a body floated just below the surface.  And even he quickly dove out of sight...perhaps after spotting me.  I opened the Bible and read Psalms 1 through 5.  The key thought that struck me from those ancient passages was that we are meant to feed our minds and find our direction by close association with God instead of close association with men.  It's not that we aren't to associate with men, but that our direction...our path...should be found from Him and not from them.  And then I read Psalm 5, verse 8.  "Make Your way straight before my face" jumped off the page.  I realized that most of the time I'm concerned about finding "my way" (lower case 'm').  I even seek the Lord to find "my" way.  This passage spoke to my heart that it's not about finding "my" way....It's about finding "His" way.  He has a way that He wants to make straight and clear for me to walk.  From now on, as I walk through the woods (of trees and of daily issues) I want to lean in on the Lord so that I can find His straight path.  Then I know i won't be lost.
blessings from the swamp,
Rob Smith