Monday, April 30, 2007

donkey owner attitude

This morning I was reading the first part of the Palm Sunday, triumphal entry story.  This is when Jesus sent two of his disciples ahead to fetch a donkey for Him to ride into Jerusalem.  Jesus obviously knew exactly where they'd find the donkey and He told the disciples (Luke 19:30) "you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden.  Untie it and bring it here.  If anyone asks you, "Why are you untying it?" tell him, "The Lord needs it."  I was thinking about the attitude of the donkey owners.  Two strange men are going to walk up to their valuable livestock and start untying it.  This looks and smells a lot like a robbery.  But when they challenge the disciples about it and are told that the Lord needs their animal they willingly released it.  There is no indication that they ever got the donkey back later.  I suppose today's thought is: Are you prepared to give up whatever you may consider a possession, or whatever you may hold as valuable in your life if the Lord comes and tells you He needs it?  Maybe the donkey owners had been shown in a dream that the Lord would want the donkey someday...or maybe they had a close and loving walk with the Lord and they recognized the validity of the request.  I hope that our attitude is like the donkey owner.  If the Lord comes calling for anything we own or any aspect of our lives, to be used for His purposes...there is no concern about losing something, rather there is joy that we have found great purpose being needed by the Lord.
Rob Smith

Sunday, April 29, 2007

great expectations

Have you noticed that our efforts to succeed are closely associated with our expectations?  When we're young our parents generally have high expectations for us: in school, in sports, in social and community activities. This helps motivate us because we want to please those who are closest to us.  Some kids grow up without much parental involvement.  They find their expectations from other sources and, unfortunately, there are plenty of unhealthy ones in gangs or narrow minded cliques.  Reaching expectations gives us feedback to confirm our worth.  Later we tend to form our own "self-expectations" because we've developed a frame of reference for life that has its own definition of success...that gives the feedback we want.  My thought today is to consider what Jesus' expectations might be for us.  In one sense his natural expectations aren't too high.  Consider John 2:24-25 "But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man's testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man."  He certainly knows our sin nature well.  But we are encouraged that when we have repented and turned to Christ in faith there is a whole new set of possibilities and expectations for lives.  Consider John 14:11-13 "Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father."
It's great to know that the one who has such high expectations for us, also lives within us, and will do wonderful things that are beyond our wildest expectation.
Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!  Amen.
Rob Smith

Saturday, April 28, 2007

a meeting place

Today I felt a need for inspiration so I drove to the ocean.  Ever since I was little, I've loved being at the beach.  Somehow I really feel a connection with the Lord there.  There are probably several reasons why.  Just being at the shoreline evokes many warm memories of family and fun playing in the sand and surf.  I love laying on the hard packed sand, just beyond the reach of the broken waves, where the continual murmur of the ocean washes over my ears and comes up through the ground to hold me like a blanket.  Watching the endless break of water, while almost hypnotizing, is also soothing and a reassurance that God is still blowing over the water and life's rhythm continues.  Today it occurred to me that as I looked at the sky meeting the ocean at the horizon and the ocean meeting the land at the shore that this is also a place where I feel the Lord meeting me.  I guess we need that personal touch from Him sometimes to remind us that everything's going to be o.k.
1 Chronicles 16:32 Let the sea resound, and all that is in it;
       let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them!
Job 9:8 He alone stretches out the heavens
       and treads on the waves of the sea.
Psalm 33:7 He gathers the waters of the sea into jars;
       he puts the deep into storehouses.
I hope you have a special place to meet the Lord!
Rob Smith

Friday, April 27, 2007

goal setting

I remember one time when I disappointed my father.  He had been watching my day to day attitudes in high school...I was probably a junior approaching one last year at home before launching into the world.  He was a man who had always had challenging targets to strive for, particularly as a young person.  He took more classes in more subject areas than anyone in his high school.  He was concerned about the future directions for me and asked me point blank: "What are your goals?"  He said, "I don't see any clear larger plan you're working toward.  You need to develop a specific ambition or direction that you want to achieve."  He was right, of course.  The truth was that I was totally comfortable bumping from day to day.  I worked hard in school but I never had a sense of personal vision or direction for my life.  We hear a lot about casting a vision, whether in business or in our personal lives.  Popular culture has learned that a larger sense of purpose expressed in specific terms helps us be focused and motivated.  The wonderful reality, as believers in Jesus, is that God actually has a personal vision for each of our lives. about motivating.  Consider the following:
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
I guess one of the most wonderful aspects of our living relationship with the Lord is getting close enough to learn what those plans are and to walk in His purposes during these few days on planet Earth.
Rob Smith

Thursday, April 26, 2007

the object of His affection

Consider this:  there is nothing in all creation that the Lord loves more dearly than you.  The grandeur of God displayed across our vast universe is breathtaking, of course, and we have noted His handiwork as shown in the sky, the clouds, the rain and all of nature.  But the central plan of our Lord, as captured so clearly in the bible, is the rescue and restoration of individual people to a saving knowledge and transformed life.  There may be times when you're not even sure if you care for yourself and there certainly are times when you are frustrated with how your life is going.  It is good to be reminded that each of us has a central role in the great drama of life, a drama that has been played out on earth's stage since Genesis 1.  Consider the following passage from 1 Peter chapter 1:10-12 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.  It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.  The laser beam of our Lord's love will always be you (and all the other you's).  We learned in Romans that sin entered the world by one man (Adam) and sin was defeated by the God-man (Jesus).  This was to address the affliction that we each experience as individuals...we are rescued individually because our God formed each of us uniquely and longs to know us personally.  It's good to remember that we aren't the ones who bring value or add worth to our lives.  The Lord fixed the worth of each life when He paid with His own life the price we each need paid to be restored to our Lord.  Christ died for mankind and He comes for you, as if you were the only person.
Matthew 18:12-13 "What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off."
Be encouraged.  You are of great worth!
Rob Smith

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

in search of life

I just read that scientists have found a planet outside our solar system that might be capable of life "as we know it".  Quoting the article, "The planet is just the right size, might have water in liquid form, and in galactic terms is relatively nearby at 120 trillion miles away."  Apparently scientists are especially excited because the temperatures on the planet surface are similar to ours.  Some 220 other planets have been found previously, but they've been too hot or too cold.  This planet is considered close.  If you could travel at the speed of light, you could make a round trip in a mere 41 years.  The next challenge will be to see if there is water on the planet.  If you're weight conscious you may not want to visit.  Gravity is 1.6 times earth gravity, so a 150 pound person here would weigh 240 lbs. there.  On the other hand, if your interest is finding life you don't have to travel quite so far. 
Here are a few clues that life may be closer than 120 trillion miles:
Matthew 18:2-3 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." 
Mark 1:15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
Luke 10:9 And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’
1 John 5:11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
1 John 2:24-25 Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life.
1 John 4:9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.
I hope that all of us "intelligent life forms" on planet earth will find this eternal life.  We can travel there in the spaceship called faith without blasting off from Cape Canaveral.  I understand the trip can be accomplished in a brief timeframe and that our ticket has already been purchased.
blessings, fellow travelers through time and space
Rob Smith

quality of life

I had a meeting with clients yesterday who have become good friends.  The husband is a very friendly, outgoing guy who served our country in a long army career and fought in Viet Nam.  (His wife is also very warm and friendly).  Sometime over the past year he had a stroke.  For a while he couldn't speak...but he's battled hard to relearn speech and now he talks just fine.  He's right handed and, unfortunately, the stroke disabled his right side.  After months of strenuous effort he's partially regained some use of his right arm and leg, but he has lost the ability to write or even grasp anything with his right hand.  Simple daily acts like brushing teeth and pulling on pants have become difficult.  His wife is an angel and has become his strong right hand.  My point is that despite the dramatic loss of body function, my friend is enjoying a high quality of life.  He sees his limitations only as a challenge to his determination and rather than becoming bitter or withdrawn he has remained just as optimistic and light-hearted as he was before the stroke.  More than ever, his marriage is a thing of beauty because there is greater interdependence as he relies on her help in countless ways.  It occurred to me that the quality of life has nothing to do with external limitations and everything to do with our heart and mind and attitude.
2 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Rob Smith

Monday, April 23, 2007

trim your sails!

It occurred to me that setting our minds and setting our hearts on the Lord is a lot like sailing.  A sailboat gets its maximum power from pointing close to the source of wind, without heading directly into it, just as we really can't look directly at the Lord.  As He blows His holy wind or holy spirit we trim the sails of our attitude to point close to the wind.  When sailing you try for an angle of about 30 degrees to create maximum lift or power behind the sails.  Just as the wind can shift, so can the Lord guide with course changes and we need to trim our sails to continue to point close and optimize our speed and direction.  All of us take our energy for living from one source or another.  Why not purpose to trim your sails to point close up into the Lord.  There's nothing quite like the liberating feeling of gliding across the water, being pulled with the strong, yet invisible, force of wind.  There's nothing like setting our hearts and minds on the Lord and allowing the strength of His spirit to fill our sails.
Colossians 3:1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
Let's sail with Jesus.  We'll reach the right destination and enjoy the ride, as well !
Rob Smith

Saturday, April 21, 2007

light and life

The wonder isn't so much that the sky is blue.  The wonder really is that the sky is bright.  Why shouldn't the sun appear as an intense white light surrounded by the blackness of space each day, like a flashlight suspended inside a box painted flat black?  The daytime sky is bright and blue because of our atmosphere.  Molecules of gas briefly absorb the highest energy wavelengths of light from the sun (the blue wavelength) and then bounce the blue light outward to our eyes.  By the way, this is why the sun appears yellow...due to the absence of blue.  Viewed from beyond our atmosphere, like from the space shuttle, the sun appears white, like any star's light.  Just as the molecules of gas in our sky absorb energy from the sun, before bouncing that energy around to brighten the sky, so we as trusters of Christ receive the light from His spirit.  We are illuminated, ourselves, and we brighten our world by passing the energy of His presence outward.  This life would be dark indeed without His light running in and through us.  It also gives rise to color as a yellow sun and a blue sky lead to a green earth.  And so the indwelling illumination of our Lord's light paints our lives with rich color and warms our world.
Somehow I don't believe this is all a matter of chance or fortunate science. 
Genesis 1:3-4 And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness.
Job 38:19 "What is the way to the abode of light?  And where does darkness reside?"
Psalm 36:9 For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.
Rob Smith

explaining evil

In the wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy, the media is dissecting the story like a dog worries a bone trying to find all the answers.  It would be fine, indeed, to come to a crystal clear understanding of why this happened, how this troubled boy was 'set-off' society failed to prevent the tragedy.  Ultimately, however, I don't think they will find logical or rational answers for all the questions.  Ultimately, there is no logical explanation for evil.  Since the time of Adam & Eve and of Cain & Abel we have witnessed the dark side of our nature and with all our progress across the centuries, we've not eradicated our tendency to do illogical, irrational, at times horrific things.  Within each person the crisis of evil can only be successfully addressed when covered by the one effective counteracting agent: the atoning, reconciling, transforming power of the blood of Christ.  As carriers and containers of His living presence, one of our greatest challenges is communicating Christ, the one sure hope to defeat the evil that resides within each of our human frames.  It's good to remember that a soul that has found salvation is also a soul that will do less harm and more good as life unfolds.  Truly, our answers are found in Jesus alone!
Hebrews 2:14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
blessings with hope,
Rob Smith

Friday, April 20, 2007

problem or opportunity

I was at an impasse for today's thought until my daughter Courtney called a few minutes ago.  Courtney is hustling to make a living as a personal fitness coach in Richmond.  She has to moonlight with a few extra jobs to make ends meet but she is holding true to her passion and vision of becoming a coach dedicated to the total health of her clients.  She is gradually seeing her hard work bear fruit.  She works out of a large fitness center and this past week one of the other coaches, who teaches a specialized fitness program, failed to show up to teach a class.  Courtney was asked to jump in and teach the class at the last minute, even though she is not certified for the program and she had no lesson plan for the class.  With a deep breath and her typical "go for it" attitude, Courtney took the class, came up with some creative ideas that pleased the class and ended up impressing her boss so much that he agreed tp pay several hundred dollars for Courtney to become certified so she can teach regularly.  I suppose the thought today is reacting to problems (from our point of view) as opportunities (from God's point of view).  One of the beauties of God's sovereignty is that everything that touches us must pass through the grid of God's plan for us.  Perhaps one key to life is looking for the opportunity God has in mind when problems and unexpected difficulties enter our lives.  We may be surprised to see how we grow and even bear fruit in unexpected ways.
Hebrews 12:7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Rob Smith

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Each leaf

One of the dominant changes to our scenery as we move from winter to spring is the emergence of leaves from the branches of trees all around.  The light green color of the new leaves is another familiar herald of new life, like the more colorful flowers and blossoms from other plants and trees.  I couldn't help but be struck by the profound drama of life that is represented by each leaf.  These humble hand-like surfaces live for one growing season and then are transformed to glorious colors of flame before dying in the fall.  While they live, they are centers of photosynthesis, producing the food needed to sustain and grow their parent tree.  A quick look at photosynthesis shows that we are meant to be very much like the spiritual equivalent of a leaf, as we flourish in growth and are transformed colorfully before dying.  The leaf is a place where something from the ground and something from the air is impacted by sunlight in such a way that energy for growth is produced, together with useful byproducts of oxygen and water.  The energy builds healthy plant tissue and the oxygen and water benefit other living things.  Is this not a fair analogy of how it should be in our lives?  As we walk directly in the light of the Lord, He takes our frames of dust, combines them with spiritual touch and produces healthy growth to sustain our own lives, while also yielding byproducts of love in acts of spiritual kindness to benefit those around.
One leaf is miraculous enough.  We live in a place where millions of leaves pump life to our natural world.  Picture the blessing as each of us, as Christ-illuminated leaves, produce life to our community and beyond!  The wonder is great but the growing season eventually turns to fall, when each leaf returns to the soil.  Let's rejoice in our opportunity to live in the light, now!
Daniel 4:11 The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth. 12 Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant, and on it was food for all. Under it the beasts of the field found shelter, and the birds of the air lived in its branches; from it every creature was fed.
Rob Smith

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Children: Building the foundation

We all know how precious children are, how each one captures the miracle of life.  Recently I was reflecting on the critical importance of the early years in each child's life and how experiences and relationships have magnified importance in the shaping of each child.  I suppose the tragedy at Virginia Tech has prompted me to highlight this.  In my own life the memories of early childhood have a consistent melody of love.  I don't think there was a single day when the love of my parents and grandparents for me was not expressed in attitude, action and word.  Some of my warmest early memories are of simple things: watching my grandpa shaving with a face full of lather, receiving tons of gifts and treats when I had the chicken pox or mumps, the excitement of being taken out of 2nd grade by my Dad to go to the circus.  Now that we have a grandson, I am keenly interested in communicating love with my eyes, voice and play because it is obvious that he is absorbing and reflecting all the inputs he receives each day.  I just don't think you can overstate the strategic importance of the first years.  Somehow the foundation is being laid in self image and the framework for valuing others during that time.  It's as if the nature and quality of each day has several times the power to shape development over days experienced later in life.  We all know how precious children are.  Let's invest those early years with all the ingredients of love (not forgetting discipline), a high view of people, and a high view of the Lord so that our children have the best opportunity to grow into maturity with a strong and tender view of themselves, others around them, and their loving Lord.
Psalm 78:
  3 what we have heard and known,
       what our fathers have told us.

 4 We will not hide them from their children;
       we will tell the next generation
       the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD,
       his power, and the wonders he has done.

 5 He decreed statutes for Jacob
       and established the law in Israel,
       which he commanded our forefathers
       to teach their children,

 6 so the next generation would know them,
       even the children yet to be born,
       and they in turn would tell their children.


Rob Smith

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

what is your song?

This time of year our ears are treated to a symphony of bird songs as the many families of birds emerge from winter to meet, mate and proclaim control over territories.  We enjoy the sounds, which often have a crisp musical quality and the birds seem to be adding their announcement of new life to complement the visual spectacle of flowers and fresh spring leaves that defines the spring.  I read some fascinating information on bird songs: some birds have thousands of songs in their repertoire, male and female birds often have unique choruses that help them locate each other.  There are a few species of bird that can project sound up to four miles in distance!  One mystery that scientists haven't solved is why birds sing the most as dawn breaks.  Maybe we can help the scientists just might be that the Lord has placed something like joy inside the bird to release songs of praise with the emergence of light and a brand new day!  Today in Virginia, as our hearts ache over children who have died senselessly, we are also grateful for a new day, reminding us that the Lord continues to renew His compassion on us all.  Today we may not feel like singing but we bow before our Lord and ask His comfort for all who are in the throes of pain from this loss.
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.


Rob Smith

Monday, April 16, 2007

Making history

Have you ever had the sense that all the really interesting things to happen have already happened?  Does it seem like history is the only home for great events like: the book of Acts, the earthly life of Jesus, the discovery of America by Columbus, the Declaration of Independence?  The feeling may even be heightened by our 400th anniversary celebration of the landing at Jamestown, being celebrated currently.  Lately I've been challenged to rethink the potential importance of the time in which we now live.  Consider the following: There are about 60 armed conflicts currently raging around the globe of which more than half are on the continent of Africa.  These days, over 90% of the casualties of conflict are civilians.  In our own country recent polls show 66-70% of the population feels our country is
"off track" or "headed down the wrong road".  On the issue of abortion, alone, the country is divided almost evenly between those favoring most abortions and those in opposition.  We live in a time when our purpose as a nation seems fuzzy, when for most of our 230 year history America shone in brilliant clarity for the noblest of human causes: 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". 
As believers in our Lord and Savior, Jesus, we have a cause to live for daily.  There is an ongoing war, with heavenly generals and spiritual origins, that is raging over the destiny of every human soul.  As we enter each day, we actually step onto a field of battle and at every level of relationship: our own lives, our families, our place of work and community, our country and our world there is fierce competition for hearts and minds.  The population of the world has doubled since I was a schoolboy.  Bottom line: there has never been a more important time or a larger challenge than the present to represent the life giving message of the Gospel to others. 
Someday, people will be amazed at the history of our time.  I hope they will be most amazed by the courageous lives of a small number willing to stand for truth and righteousness in a time when darkness and evil seem to be corroding our culture and polls show a majority prefer wrong to right.
Psalm 55
16 But I call to God,
       and the LORD saves me.

 17 Evening, morning and noon
       I cry out in distress,
       and he hears my voice.

 18 He ransoms me unharmed
       from the battle waged against me,
       even though many oppose me.

blessings for these historic times,
Rob Smith

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Our champion

Lately I've become enamored of the word "champion".  One of the definitions is: "a person who fights for or defends any person or cause: a champion of the oppressed."  Actually, the picture I have is of one who not only fights for us, but who motivates us by their presence in the midst of battle.  I've been reading a history of the American Revolution called "1776".  It paints a picture of the first year of the war when the Continental Army had just about lost everything: most battles, most of its men to sickness and discouragement.  A ragtag clump of less than 10,000 men without shoes. food or clothing remained loyal to the cause.  The end appeared close and the Declaration of Independence seemed like a short-lived dream.  Indeed many, if not most, Americans had given up and signed oaths of loyalty to the King of England.  The army took a chance on two last desperate surprise attacks on the enemy in Trenton and Princeton.  They gained bold and surprising victories that sustained the cause.  The direct physical presence of their courageous general, George Washington, inspired them there.  Here is a quote from one young American officer: "I shall never forget what I felt...when I saw him brave all the dangers of the field and his important life hanging as it were by a single hair with a thousand deaths flying around him.  Believe me, I thought not of myself".  You see, General Washington designed the strategy for victory and also risked his own life to inspire successful execution of the battle plan.  Is this not an apt parallel to our Lord Jesus, who crafted the plan to defeat our sin and then laid down His own life to achieve victory.  Just as George Washington inspired his men to fight on, through his physical presence, so our Lord inspires us to this day by His presence on the cross, His resurrection after the cross and His occupation of our hearts.
Revelation 6:2 I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.
We are motivated to stay in the battle by our Savior, who has conquered sin and death and rides with us still !
Rob Smith

Friday, April 13, 2007

How does God speak?

If you were Creator of all, how would you communicate with your creation?  Would you speak with the voice of a man or would you resound with the crash of thunder, the silence of a forest at night, and the songs of a thousand types of bird?  Would you write only in the words of man or would you carve grand canyons with a mighty finger using river ink and would you toss comets through space and force fiery eruptions of lava from earth's crust?  Would you signal the change of seasons with a simple calendar or would you use the aroma of flowers in bloom, sun-ripened fruit, and mellow leaves of autumn with a calendar framed by moon and stars?  Would you be satisfied with words of love, only, for the children made in your image, or would you touch those children in power to heal, to restore, to cleanse and to reassure of your love?
God is speaking with every voice, painting with every palette, touching with every sensation, enticing with every fragrance and reaching with all passion for the Creation He loves.  How is it that we wonder if He's there?
Psalm 19:
 1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
       the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 
 2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
       night after night they display knowledge. 
 3 There is no speech or language
       where their voice is not heard. 
 4 Their voice goes out into all the earth,
       their words to the ends of the world.
       In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, 
 5 which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion,
       like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
Rob Smith

The beauty of marriage

Monday will be my 30th wedding anniversary with Shirley.  How is it that we could ever have had the notion in our early twenties that our marriage would last?  There are very few things I have had a relationship with for 30 years.  One of the few is my auto insurance company (they've been great to work with).  When I married Shirley I was in the Navy.  We had probably seen each other a total of less than three weeks since meeting, because of school and service separation.  It took 7 months of overseas deployment to forge my determination to marry.  But, just as there was no doubt that I loved her and needed her there was also a confidence that our marriage was something from the Lord.  Ultimately it is a great and wonderful mystery how two who are so different by gender, by background, by interest (really all who come together in marriage are this way) not only "make it", but thrive.  Is it not obvious that marriage must be God's design!  With that assurance that we are carrying out God's plan through the complete merging of our lives, we understand where to go when we are overwhelmed and where to go in our gratitude.  We learn the vital lesson that we are not complete in ourselves.  Just as our spouse completes us for this life,  so our Lord will complete us for all life to come.  I believe marriage makes the most sense in the context of a God who longs to know us!
Ephesians 5:31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.  32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.  33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
Rob Smith

Thursday, April 12, 2007

He's real

Isn’t it great that the Lord is real!  He’s not just a good argument or explanation.  He’s not a matter of opinion or a philosophy.  He's not theory and His truth cannot fade or change.  He was here in the beginning, is with us now, and will always be.  Although He is all powerful, He is also all knowable to each one who will invite Him in.  If you think about it, following Him is not really one choice of's the ONLY choice that makes sense.  Many forceful currents compete to guide our ambition, sap our energy, and shape our lives each day.  Isn't it wonderful that we can realign our thoughts with His as we forge into each new day! 

perhaps most wonderful of all, He is a person, who formed us and now longs to indwell us.  Truly, the Lord is not just a good idea...He is the one we should live for!!


Philippians 3:8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.




Rob Smith









Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Don't walk alone

Have you noticed that there are two benefits to walking in fellowship with another believer?  Firstly, we are less prone to fall spiritually.  If we fall there is help to restore us.  Secondly, we have others to rejoice with as the Lord provides blessing, insight and help.  So we only need close Christian friends for two circumstances: (1) when life is not going well and (2) when life is going well.  We were designed to walk in fellowship because this life is a rugged training ground and much help and encouragement is needed.  We were also made to walk closely because in helping each other and rejoicing with each other we exercise spiritual gifts that foster our own growth.  In the wake of my recent bicycle accident I have been the recipient of bountiful love gifts of food, service and prayer.  I probably would survive without these gifts but I am so much the richer spiritually from so many expressions of love.  I know that I am not alone in my difficult time and I am being healed in body and refreshed in spirit.  Sometimes in life we don’t find ourselves walking in close fellowship with other believers.  We may be trying to ‘make our mark’ on the world.  But I would encourage us all to walk close enough to catch another who falls, or to be held if we fall, ourselves.


Ecclesiastes 4:

    8 There was a man all alone;
       he had neither son nor brother.
       There was no end to his toil,
       yet his eyes were not content with his wealth.
       "For whom am I toiling," he asked,
       "and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?"
       This too is meaningless—
       a miserable business!

 9 Two are better than one,
       because they have a good return for their work:

 10 If one falls down,
       his friend can help him up.
       But pity the man who falls
       and has no one to help him up!

 11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
       But how can one keep warm alone?

 12 Though one may be overpowered,
       two can defend themselves.
       A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Blessings and thanks for helping me stand,

Rob Smith


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

God + 1 = a majority

Actually, God alone is a majority.  I think we forget sometimes that He doesn’t require our approval to act or to define right and wrong.  I continue to be challenged by the example of William Wilberforce, who decided it wasn’t foolish to tenaciously pursue the eradication of slavery in Britain, regardless of public opinion.  Had Wilberforce not taken his stand, the Lord would probably have chosen another means to accomplish the same end (consider the violent Civil War that ended slavery in our own land).  I think we convince ourselves not to stand for causes that appear irretrievably lost, when the Lord may be looking for even a few who will take a stand unpopular among men, but squarely in line with the Lord’s will.  The scripture resounds with the courage of Moses and Joseph, of Daniel and of Esther.  Their orientation for direction and guidance was the Lord, Himself, despite the overwhelming presence of a powerful human monarch.  We live in a land without a king, but with a compelling value structure that centers on sinful self-centeredness.  I believe that we should remember that we have been born for this time, not just to be another leaf swept in the current, but to live in alignment with Him.  In such a way, the course of a nation can be redirected.  Let’s not forget the value of one life, of each of our lives, and the great worth of our unborn children as we live before our Lord.


Esther 4:12 When Esther's words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer: "Do not think that because you are in the king's house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"




Rob Smith

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Doing the impossible

What does it mean that “something’s impossible”?  Generally speaking I think it means that whatever you’re thinking about is beyond the capability of any person or people…or that it lies outside the bounds of natural science and laws.  I don’t know about you, but that seems like a great place for the Lord of Creation to step in.  I really don’t need to arm or equip myself with more human or natural resources when dealing with the “impossible” kind of problems.  I remember as a kid there was something called “superglue”.  We thought it was fun to glue things together with superglue, just to find out how impossible the bond really was to break.  Then there was something called “superglue remover”, the only sure way to fix things.  I think we need to come to the place where we welcome our champion, the Lord Jesus Christ, to move with freedom through our lives.  So many of our needs are of the “impossible” type: healing, salvation, loving the unlovely, forgiving those who hurt….even routine impossibilities like raising or children and loving our spouses touch most of our lives.


So lets not be shy about coming to our God for help…doing the impossible is His specialty!


Matthew 19:25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, "Who then can be saved?" 26 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."


Luke 1:36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37For nothing is impossible with God."




Rob Smith

Saturday, April 7, 2007

A time to bloom

I thought spring had finally arrived until I awoke to snow this morning.  It’s been a wild transition between seasons and nature seems to be having an identity crisis.  The other day it struck me just how short the blossoms last on many of the flowering trees.  We have some kind of ornamental fruit tree in our front yard.  It seemed to burst forth in full blossom almost overnight recently.  The lovely white petals always transform the front yard into a lovely park.  Unfortunately, in my opinion, the blossoms don’t last nearly long enough…within a week of blooming they are gone.  It seems sad that the tree weathers 51 weeks of living for one week of beauty.  Sometimes I think we’ve given up on our own opportunity to bloom for the Lord.  It may seem that we have weathered years of difficult living and many seasons of life without a sign of fruit or flower.  But I am convinced there are many types of flower.  Some appeal by sustaining color for a long time and some grab us briefly and take our breath away.  Some bloom early in season and some don’t bloom until nearly winter.  Taken together they form a diverse garden that glorifies the Lord.  And so some of us may bloom early, some late, some short and some long.  Taken together we form His living garden, reflecting beauty and bearing fruit, across the growing season of this life.


Acts 14:17 “Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”

Easter blessings,

Rob Smith


Friday, April 6, 2007

boss and client

It occurred to me recently that the Lord is very practical in our lives. Many of us are still locked into a work routine, where we provide services and sell products each day to make a living.  From our human point of view, this is how we put food on the table.  I believe there is more to it from the Lord’s point of view.  When we picture Jesus as our boss and as our client our desire is to honor Him through excellence and integrity.  Colossians 3:23 “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.”


All that we do in the world becomes an opportunity to reflect the Lord.  This refreshing difference is attractive, as many feel captive…almost like slaves…to their life of work.  Let’s look past our earthly supervisors, subordinates, and customers and see the Lord.  It’s another aspect of our living relationship with God.


Blessings and thanks for all the cards, thoughts, prayers and delicious food!


Rob Smith









Thursday, April 5, 2007

The positive side of pain

Right now I’m hurting a lot.  It’s been a source of frustration because it prevents me from doing, thinking, sleeping and just plain being.  On the other hand, when you have pain to deal with you don’t live too far into the future.  Your attention is riveted in the present and your sense of need for help and your healthy dependency on the Lord’s care keeps driving you in a very basic way to His arms.  Isn’t it wonderful that He not only inhabits the praises, but also the pain of His people?  I love it when the Lord gives victory, provides our needs, and ultimately demonstrates His power to heal.  I’m learning to love Him in the midst of pain because it is an intimate time of curling up next to Jesus.


2 Corinthians 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.


I just remembered this is Good Friday…the day when the pain endured by Jesus purchased our eternal life.  Praise the Lord for our courageous savior!!


Blessings and thanks for praying!


Rob Smith

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

drawn to the need

When I was hit and thrown off the bike last week two kinds of people stopped.  The first man who stood over me had an angry look.  He uttered a curse word and seemed to disappear.  I thought sarcastically, “Great…that’s real encouraging.  This is probably the guy who hit me.  I represent an expense and a problem for him.”  Fortunately, within seconds others gathered around with encouraging words: “We’ve called 911”…”I’m a nurse and will stay with you”…”How can I call your wife”.  Then the Rescue Squad showed up and demonstrated cool competence as they wrestled with how to transport me to the hospital.  I didn’t know any of the people who stopped that evening but I sure appreciated the immediate bond of love and concern that all showed, after the first man faded.  It occurs to me that we have a love bond and an absolute commitment to all who live around us.  We are called to respond to the needs in such a way that we will lay aside our personal schedule to help.  I could easily have died if total strangers didn’t become instant brothers and sisters.


I believe this is true for spiritual needs as well as obvious physical ones.  I was led to Christ by one who did not me well, but who really cared about helping me grasp God’s loving plan for salvation.  In the course of one afternoon he went from stranger, to brother, in Christ.


Let’s be eager to lay down our schedules and personal agendas to see more strangers become family members for eternity!


Luke 10:33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him.




Rob Smith

The core is sound

I have had an interesting time over the end of March and the beginning of April.  I experienced two crashes: a computer hard drive “crash” took me away from email contact for several days on March 24 and on March 29 I had a real crash, up close and personal, when I was hit by a car, while bicycling.  Thanks to all of you for your loving prayers.  I know that our wonderful Lord is carrying me on a bed of prayer.  I am eager to get back in the battle and I don’t think the enemy appreciates these “thoughts”.  My thought for today is building on the solid core of Jesus.  When I was lying next to the road last Thursday I did a sort of inventory of my body parts.  Although the left side was pretty battered, I was aware that the core was ok.  My thinking was clear, I could wiggle my toes, and there weren’t any apparent pains coming from my midsection.  I knew that there was a strong base to build on.  Now I’m gradually trying to expand that base to the rest of the body.  By our very nature we will stumble and fall many times in life.  But once Jesus takes up residence in our hearts we have a strong core to recover from and to build upon.  As I get up and face a little pain to recover, I am reminded of the great pain He endured for each of us…so we can keep building on the solid core.


1 Samuel 2:9

       He will guard the feet of his saints,
       but the wicked will be silenced in darkness.
       "It is not by strength that one prevails;


Blessings, with gratitude


Rob Smith