Monday, December 31, 2012

humbled by success

Success!  It's what the world offers, what people strive for, what we educate to attain, why we risk all to build businesses.  We look to leave our rise above others in achievement, fame, accomplishment.  We want to elevate ourselves.  Sports epitomizes this: "We're number 1!"  ...Striving for personal records and team championships.  But it was so refreshing last night to hear Redskins rookie running back, Alfred Morris, being interviewed after running for 200 yards, scoring 3 touchdowns and setting an all time season rushing record in his first year.  When asked for his comments about such greatness and whether he was now a star....he said: "I'm just humbled by this...I'm not a star, I'm Alfred Morris".  One of 7 sons, he grew up in very humble conditions and has kept that demeanor (still drives a car almost as old as he is).  I was struck with the attitude of humility as a reaction to success.  And I remembered something a wise man once said: "Remember that greater is He who is in you than you, yourselves.  If you should happen to have success remember who made that success possible and who desires to be reflected and shown through you."  I have a suspicion that Alfred knows that there is One bigger than he, who has made his recent success a reality.  How refreshing it is to be reminded that success can be a stage to display someone other than self.

Genesis 39:Potiphar noticed this and realized that the Lord was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did.

Rob Smith

Sunday, December 30, 2012

two views

A broad way to a narrow view or a narrow way to a broad view...this was the thought I pondered yesterday as I paid a rare visit to the local pond.  By the edge of the pond that I love was an empty carton and about two dozen empty beer cans scattered by folks who took the gorgeous view of the water and woods and reduced their experience to diminishing consciousness and escape through a drunken binge.  I know that this can't be a good thing because, if it were, the participants would have cleaned up after themselves.  I wondered if it were more the exception than the rule to see beauty where others see something less.  There is a broad way to the narrow view of self, this life only, and shallow pleasure.  It isn't hard to find that outcome.  There is a narrow way, through discovery of the Creator and His Son to a broader view of others, Heaven-fashioned design, a life beyond the natural (though captured by it).  Faith can be a narrow passage that brings us into close contact with the one who opens our eyes to the greater beauty and the more awesome wonder of life from the perspective of the life giver.

Matthew 7:13 "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad isthe way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it."

Rob Smith

Saturday, December 29, 2012

the tour guide

I remember approaching the grand capitol building in Denver, Colorado this past summer.  We climbed the many steps to the brass doors, which were heavy and large.  We entered and before us was a marvelous interior of marble, columns and gold covered railings.  There were portraits of significant men and women on the walls and statues of famous personalities.  But it was all a little vague until we stumbled across a tour in progress.  We joined the group and the guide began to explain the stories behind the portraits to give us some depth to our understanding of Colorado's history.  From the guide we learned the background behind the unique stone that formed the walls and floors of the building and that had been mined in Colorado and we discovered that some of the early pioneers of Colorado as a territory and young state had been escaped slaves who found opportunity in the west.  This morning I was reflecting on our need for a tour guide in life, as well.  It all can be a bit overwhelming just to live and to navigate the forces and circumstances and unknowns that surround us.  Jesus is the guide who would have us join His group.  He will lead us through the building and give us the background we need.  He is the one who will give the sense to what we see.  After all, no matter where you are in life's course, you have never been there before.  Jesus is the author of life and knows the end from the beginning.  So, if you're still wandering the halls and sliding over the marble floors, come join the tour!

Psalm 48:14 
For that is what God is like.
    He is our God forever and ever,
    and he will guide us until we die.

Rob Smith

Friday, December 28, 2012

kings and queens

There's royalty here, all around...
Kings and queens are we.

Each person that you come across
is of the highest line.

We may not treat each other so,
but this is the design;

That we should rule this earthly place
Made by the One on high.

Look to your nature, this tarnished brass
We're made to shine, but sin holds fast

Kings and queens we're meant to be,
With power to love and serve...

Our value built within our frame
By One from whom we learn.

Shine now for eternity
Your royal blood's been earned!

Psalm 45:
Kings' daughters are among your noble women.
    At your right side stands the queen,
    wearing jewelry of finest gold from Ophir!
10 Listen to me, O royal daughter; take to heart what I say.
    Forget your people and your family far away.
11 For your royal husband delights in your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.

Rob Smith

Thursday, December 27, 2012

catch and carry

Catch and carry me, Oh Lord
I'm tired of holding me up...

Catch and carry me, Oh Lord...
You're here, so here is my life...

Why do I try to go all alone?
Why do I flail and pretend...

to have all the answers,
to meet the unknown,

When you're all around,
(and in my head!)

I will pause, yes even stop
and let your whisper call,

I will allow my whole self to wait,
expecting your grace to fall...

So, catch and carry me, Oh Lord...
When held, I rest in you...

Catch and carry me, now Lord
This day let's walk, we two!

Psalm 28:
The Lord gives his people strength.
    He is a safe fortress for his anointed king.
Save your people!
    Bless Israel, your special possession.
Lead them like a shepherd,
    and carry them in your arms forever.

Rob Smith

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

mystery of a child

How Mary and Joseph must have wondered what their child would become as an adult!  What expectations and questions must have been placed in their minds and hearts from the early visits by angels to inform them of the baby coming and from later visits by shepherds and wise men upon the birth.  God had wonderful plans that were to unfold as this baby grew to become a man.  As I spent time with our four grandchildren on Christmas I now reflect about each of their lives and all the plans that God has for them as they also grow up to adulthood.  As family we are mindful of how children are guided by our instruction, love and discipline.  But beyond all that there is some kind of eternal and specific plan and purpose that God has placed within each child.  We marvel as children grow and change and find maturity through the pains and challenges of life.  And we are filled with wonder as we observe the qualities and talents and unique personality that God has crafted in each one.  As life unfolds, so does the power and presence and purpose of God.  We have much freedom of choice but He has the greater freedom of the master craftsman.  We are the beneficiaries of those plans...sometimes we even are surprised by His plans as they are expressed in our own lives!

Luke 1:66 And all those who heard them kept them in their hearts, saying, "What kind of child will this be?" And the hand of the Lord was with him.

Rob Smith

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

two comings

Christmas day...marks the coming of God to Earth in the humblest fashion and has inspired beautiful and majestic songs of joy and praise.  Our King came to start HIs earthly reign by first identifying with the people He had fashioned.  His life among us unfolded and climaxed with His death in our place and victory over death with resurrection to life again.  Jesus is our Emmanuel, God with us.  But Jesus coming to us has little value if we, personally and individually, do not come also to Him.  How do we come to Jesus?  With what attitude do we approach Him?  How do we picture the One who was an infant but also Heaven's Lord?  The beauty of Christmas is not only that God has come to save us but that we now come and submit to that salvation.  Some came early, when Jesus was new born...shepherds and wise men.  Others came during Jesus' teaching and healing ministry by the shores of Galilee.  And some came even as they beheld Jesus' suffering on the Cross of Calvary.  Whether early or late, let us each and let us all come to Him and bow before the One who came and who comes now to give us the life that can never end. 

Mark 15:39 So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, "Truly this Man was the Son of God!"

Merry Christmas!

Rob Smith

Monday, December 24, 2012

hidden and revealed

Foreign kings from a distant land were able to find HIm but his own earthly ruler could not.  Poor shepherds on a hillside could find Him but those who would do Him harm could not.  The wise men from the east outwitted evil King Herod.  They had visited Herod and told him the story of a star that had risen in the east that marked the birth of the newborn king of the Jews.  Herod probably pictured the kind of star that we see every night far above in the heavens.   But the kings had been following what I think was a different kind of star...more like an angel holding a light right in front of them and leading them in a close way.   I don't think they really needed to stop and ask for help from Herod, but they wanted to create the illusion that they were a little lost.   They gained the confidence of Herod and he thought they would serve as his spies to locate the newborn king and report the location back to him.   But the kings earnestly wanted to find the baby to celebrate His life, while Herod wanted to find the baby to eliminate HIm and the possible threat to his earthly power.  And the wise men from the east followed their personal star all the way to the baby's house and cradle.  The thought occurs this Christmas that the way to Jesus comes by revelation that is personal, like the star that guided the wise men.  And those who are earnest in seeking Him to find new life will be led in a personal way and in a protected manner to find life.  The Heavenly King, who protected His infant Son, will surely protect all of His children.

Matthew 2:When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
12 Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way. 

Christmas blessings...may His Star lead you to Himself!
Rob Smith

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Jesus' Sampler

Remember those Whitman Sampler chocolate candy boxes?  Such excitement (especially if you didn't have the map that explained what was inside each candy).  From the outside almost all of the chocolates looked about the same and you couldn't tell what was beneath the outer coat.  Pleasure or disappointment immediately followed the first bite.  There were a few times that I couldn't even finish the candy I'd chosen.  I tend to like the cream or berry filled ones...not a big fan of putting nuts or hard candy inside chocolate.  As I exercised this morning I thought about how I want to be filled with Jesus.  If the Lord were to draw me from His Sampler box, what kind of filling would He find inside?  I want Him to be pleased with the selection!  (Fill me, Jesus, with yourself and place me in your Sampler).

Romans 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Rob Smith

Friday, December 21, 2012

be my raft

Jesus, be my raft today...
and I will climb inside,

carried by your current's sway,
you'll shelter and you'll guide.

I will ride snug on your frame
and savor all the view,

Your river carries me beside
your banks of wondrous hue.

I'll leave my boat and paddles back
and let You take me where

there is no need to use a map,
With You I'm always there.

John 6:21 Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.
blessings to others in the raft (and those watching on the shore),
Rob Smith

Thursday, December 20, 2012

nothing between

Your Word I hear...
Your touch I feel...
Your love warms me inside...

You've come from far...
But now are near...
You cannot be denied.

With this new morn,
and all this day,
and night when sound asleep...

Stay with me close...
Hold me tight...and
Whisper how you keep

And nothing between will ever be
To cut this bond of care

My need is now, my need is you
And life, in you, we share.

Thank you, Lord Jesus!

John 15:"As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love."

blessings and love, with gratitude to the God who loves us
Rob Smith

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

new born

Heaven was your starting place,
Eternity your home,

One day you entered time and space
and left your Father's throne.

A baby, you were born again
in flesh a child like us,

to grow up just like everyone
in the world you'd formed above.

Your task was to prepare the way
for us to find your home,

That we'd be born again one day,
to be forever known...

No longer just from earth, are we,
But children of your family.

Your birth has led to ours.

Matthew 1:23 "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us."

Rob Smith

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

New day

Burst forth new day
Night's time is done

Come with your light
O Risen One

Drive shadows out
Chase dark away

Your kingdom reigns
Make evil flee

Shine inside this shaken heart
Enlighten joy,

With new day's start.

Lamentations 3:22 
The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
    His mercies never cease.
23 Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning.

Rob Smith

Monday, December 17, 2012

the filling

This Tuesday I will have my annual dental checkup.  Generally it amounts to a fine cleaning, and possible x-rays.  Once in a while they have found a cavity!  That's a disappointing outcome, but I can be grateful that the right people have located the problem and know what to do about it...they schedule me for a filling to be formed and fitted to seal the cavity and prevent it from spreading or becoming the source of infection.  I was thinking this morning about grief...catastrophic grief...the kind of grief that is like a cavity in your heart and soul.  There is no escaping this kind of grief at times, like the recent events in New England...or the loss of a loved one in your own family.  It occurred to me that this kind of loss creates a huge cavity and who could there be to fill it?  Certainly with the passage of some time the pain may ache slightly less, but there can be no replacement or filling that is identical with the loss.  The loss has been of life and of that which is most precious and personal.  The loss has altered the present and the future and we may not even be sure of our own identity.  I can think of only one filling that is appropriate.  The Lord, Himself, would not replace or return the loss...but He would fill it with Himself.  No one else understands how personal, how great and how extensive is this cavity.  No one else understands better the impact of life and loss.  Our appearance will be forever changed when we suffer this kind of loss but our filling will be our comfort, our protection and our restoration to function again and anew.

Psalm 43:2,3 For you are God, my only safe haven.
    Why have you tossed me aside?
Why must I wander around in grief,
    oppressed by my enemies?
Send out your light and your truth;
    let them guide me.
Let them lead me to your holy mountain,
    to the place where you live.

Rob Smith

Saturday, December 15, 2012


America and government have a close relationship.   Foreign governments commissioned the European expeditions that "discovered", settled and explored the land.  Those governments extended rule to America until America, as an adolescent among nations, broke away to form a new "ungovernment" kind of government, where the people, themselves would rule each other.  We call this freedom in America...this self-rule, rather than rule by monarch.  But adolescent America has grown through teen years and into adulthood and we might look around and ask: "How are we doing, America, and how well are we governing ourselves?"  Reflecting on the nature of government causes me to consider what is the most basic form of government and I think it must come down to personal, self-rule and self-discipline and then grows to marriage, family and the raising of children.  I think government is more important from the bottom up than from the top down.  And so, how are we doing America...from the standpoint of self-rule, self-discipline, healthy marriages, solid foundations for our children...?  I think that much of the unraveling of our culture may be due to weakness in the basic government at the most personal level.  There are answers that the government, top-down, can address, but until people have established a solid personal government and homes can be built that are lasting and children are raised in security...the finest government of nations cannot provide enduring solutions.  And we must remember who the true Ruler is!

Psalm 145:13 
For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.
    You rule throughout all generations.

Isaiah 9:
For a child is born to us,
    a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
    And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His government and its peace
    will never end.

Rob Smith

Friday, December 14, 2012


I can't explain it but every year, at this time, there is just a special excitement that seems to charge the air.  Anticipation has always been closely associated with Christmas...ever since a young couple found lodging in a stable, shepherds were told by angels to find a baby, wise men covered hundreds of miles by camel and, more recently...children have hung stockings over the fire place and then fought sleep while listening for reindeer hoofs on the roof.  It occurred to me that we ought to live with anticipation like this for the next coming of Jesus!  We should feel the electricity in the air as Creation seems to groan and totter and show signs that His arrival may be near.  And it could be...even today.  One thing is sure...either He is coming soon or we are going to see Him soon after  our departure from this life.  Soon our faces will meet.  The anticipation of eternity erasing our infirmity and forever becoming so much more than the last word in a fairy tale...The excitement of King Jesus coming in fills the air, charges the atmosphere and captivates our hopes.

John 14:27 "I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid. 28 Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again."

blessings, with anticipation!
Rob Smith

Thursday, December 13, 2012

finishing the race well

I have a friend, a senior gentleman, who sadly has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and is experiencing the early stages of this ravaging ailment.  We happened to have a conversation yesterday and he began to get a little excited and emotional as he shared a recent turn of events.  It seems that he recently had an opportunity to stay for a weekend in a special advanced care residence, tailored for those with severe physical and cognitive limitations.  His wife was away to attend a family function and so this gave him a chance to sample the place he will eventually live full-time.  The excitement and emotion came as his visit had inspired him to reach the dear folks in this place with the message of life in Jesus.  He realized that there was no consistent ministry of the gospel coming into the facility and he began taking steps to organize a ministry of comfort and spiritual care.  My friend knows that he is nearing the end of his personal chapter on earth but he is still looking for the unique opportunities that God is creating for him to reflect the Lord he loves.  I was greatly moved!

Philippians 3:14 I press (my friend presses!) on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Rob Smith

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

From trouble...opportunity!

James 1:2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.

James, the brother of Jesus, wrote a letter to encourage believers...Jewish believers...who had fled Jerusalem to escape persecution and now were faced with isolation and prejudice in foreign lands, among nonbelievers.  No longer welcome among non-Messianic Jews or others they were part of a small band that huddled together and struggled for survival.  They may have had doubts about why they ever trusted in Jesus, if the price of that trust was so great.  But James wants them to know that all of these troubles are actually instruments of God's love, being used to chisel, file, smooth and shapen their character.  He challenges them to "hang in there" and ask for wisdom from God.  He doesn't promise relief from the oppression.  He promises that an inner strength will be formed that will develop patience, listening, restraint from anger and, ultimately be crowned with eternal life.  He refers them to God's Word in scripture as a personal mirror that will show them an accurate picture of their inner person and he challenges them to ask God: "What shall I do with the truth that you show me?"  I was also challenged to remember to ask, "What will you have me do, Lord?" as I listen and read His words as well.

Rob Smith

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Your song

The facts of Christ internalized,
Awake eternal life!

But facts don't make relationship...
That's forged through joy and strife.

Our appetite for truth's been stirred.
Your Word alone can quench,

Our talks with you are known as prayer,
Your answers, from Heaven sent.

The weave of circumstance has
cast us on You many times.

So truth and life and knowing You
Has written our own rhyme.

Our life is now a song we sing
It's verses tell our tale

How You met us on the way, and
wouldn't let us fail.

The melody you wrote for each
with universal love...

Your heart is all the world to reach
With music from above.

Psalm 40:
He has given me a new song to sing,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
    They will put their trust in the Lord.

blessings, in song
Rob Smith

Monday, December 10, 2012

I need the lion

Revelation 5:But one of the twenty-four elders said to me, "Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David's throne,has won the victory. He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals."

Today I need the lion 
to show up with a roar!

My mighty King from Zion,
you'll fight for earthly poor.

I want to ride upon your back
and grasp your tawny mane...

I want to feel your massive strength
your uncoiled spring and muscled frame.

The enemy is lurking near and seeking to devour.
My Lion will confront each beast...
They'll flee before His power!

My Lion has a gentle side but I am safe beside
His awesome coat and piercing eyes...

His presence will abide.

Rob Smith

Friday, December 7, 2012

why we have sin, part 2

Ephesians 2:So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God's masterpiece.

(For Yama)

Yesterday I discussed why we have sin from the standpoint of our weakness and failure to appreciate God, or bond with Him, apart from His deliverance from our sin.  But why didn't God design us in such a way that we would embrace Him right from the beginning, even from Adam and Eve?  Why did He seem to permit a flaw to enter and pollute His design when, as the great designer, that wasn't necessary?  Of course I really can't speak with another lump of clay like all of you.  But I suspect that God wanted to work with a being that would choose Him when faced with a large basket of choices and even though rooted in a place where eternity was somewhat remote from the experience of daily living...we have a sense inside that we had our origin in a heavenly mind and a destiny beyond earth's horizon.  It all comes together for us when we realize that sin separates us from that destiny and God has provided a solution to fulfill the eternal life we sense as our call.  This sets the stage for a grand rescue and displays the character of mercy and grace that God has and that shows He is more than the master builder.  He is the author of love.  As it says in verse 10 above, "For we are God's masterpiece."

love and blessings to all who found this truth and all who are yet to find Him!
Rob Smith

Thursday, December 6, 2012

why we have sin

I finally figured out why there is sin.  I used to wonder why the God of all Creation would permit us to do bad things to each other and why He would even begin to tolerate a character like Satan to defile His work.  But now I think I understand.  You see, God tried to establish a relationship with man before sin was present.  Adam and Eve were people who had that kind of relationship.  But the lasting bond that God wanted to fashion just wasn't appreciated in the Garden of Eden.  Perhaps it was something like a spoiled child, who is given everything and has no appreciation for the givers or the labor that lies behind the gift.  It wasn't until sin entered the scene (God, being all knowing knew that what appeared to be a victory for Satan was really a greater victory for Himself) that the catalyst for a lasting relationship was forged: Deliverance.  We need a baseline of appreciation, like the lifelong gratitude one would have for being rescued from a fire, or pulled from forge an iron clad bond with the deliverer.  God permitted His people to go through hundreds of years of slavery so that their deliverance would forge a nation that continues today.  
Sin is the ultimate slavery, but God is the ultimate deliverer.  And the best part of all is that, as we turn from our sin in repentance and claim the only path we have for sin's deliverance...that permanent bond that God attempted first with Adam and Eve now becomes reality for us and our temporary walk through this life will continue in eternal life, once our earthly battery runs down.  It is the bond of deliverance!

Romans 7:23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Rob Smith

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Awaken my heart!
A new day is here.

Open my eyes
to see Jesus so near.

Not just another day in the week...
Not just an alternative to sleep...

Beyond nature's view,
Though all nature speaks...

Awaken my mind 
to behold only you.

Maker of all, you choose to dwell
With me here in this flesh covered shell

I'll come with my questions,
I'll come when in pain,
I'll come in confusion

and You still remain.

Awaken my heart
Oh Lord of all life

I'll see only You
and rejoice in that sight!

John 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.

Rob Smith

Saturday, December 1, 2012

joy in the valley

On mountain tops the world's below
and majesty is yours.

Above can only sky be seen,
the sun can nowhere hide.

Below, the world much smaller seems
and problems seem to fly.

The valley is a different place
and troubles loom around

The sun is blocked by mountain walls,
The path is hardly found.

It's not a place for comedy, or silliness or power...
The valley is where life's most real

We find an inner tower.

Our weakness is His resting place,
Our trials bring HIs shower.

And joy is found in valley space...
Who'd guess?
Our finest hour! 

2 Kings 3:16 and he said, "This is what the Lord says: This dry valley will be filled with pools of water!"

Rob Smith