Saturday, March 29, 2008

true riches

Psalm 119: 14-16 I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
         As much as in all riches.
  I will meditate on Your precepts,
         And contemplate Your ways.
 I will delight myself in Your statutes;
         I will not forget Your word.
This morning I read the passage above and my heart was pierced with the initial verse, especially.  I have experienced the richness of God making His words come to life as I have read or heard scripture and felt truth become personalized.  Have you also had that experience, when the words of the Bible seem to be a personal letter written specifically to you.  I don't think that anything can satisfy the deepest part of us like the personal touch that God provides in this way.  I believe that we crave truth and long for understanding, and when we have brushed this need aside, or suppressed it for a while, we come back to the Lord and wonder why we ever left.  I want to long for God the way I so often long for the riches of this world...I know that His are the true riches.
Rob Smith

Friday, March 28, 2008

give and take

Our economy is showing signs of stalling, just a bit.  For a healthy economy you need a continual flow of goods and services.  If anything significant interrupts that flow, like a dam in a river, the economy bottles up and unpleasant things happen (problems in stock market, banking, etc.).  I guess that's why they call it "trade".  Right now the burst bubble in housing and credit has caused a big slowdown as lenders are unwilling to lend and buyers keep waiting for lower prices to buy.  But the thought I have is that for an economy to move, it takes two.  It takes a willing buyer and a willing seller.  For a spiritual community to be healthy it also takes two: a willing servant and an open care/ministry receiver.  Just like with the economy, sometimes ministry fails on the servant side and sometimes on the receiving side and you really can't force the proposition.  But to see love in action and to witness Christ move we need to be open to setting personal agendas on the sideline to help others and we need to set personal pride aside to allow others to help us.  You might call it "the economy of love".
Matthew 5: 3 " Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
Rob Smith

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

at the cross

Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
When Jesus came, He identified with us.  He was fully God and fully man.  He cried, laughed, experienced hunger and endured severe temptation (without capitulating to sin of course). 
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
As Jesus has identified with us, He has also granted us the honor of identifying with Him.  We can relate to Calvary not only as an observer from the foot of the Cross, or as one reading about it centuries later, but as a participant...crucified with Him.  Unless we have joined Him on the Cross we can not be raised with Him to new life.  Good Friday and Easter have taken on new significance as I see that it is possible, even essential, to go beyond knowing the story to living it.
Rob Smith

Sunday, March 23, 2008

future home

2 Corinthians 5:6-8 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord.  For we walk by faith, not by sight.  We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.
The other morning, the passage above leapt off the page and grabbed my heart.  I realized that I can't be fully complete this side of heaven, while still in this physical body.  This will never be the place for the "ultimate" experience.  Amazingly, as wonderful as our faith walk is here, there will come a time when our walk with the Lord will be by sight, when we actually are present with Him.  Until then, I can expect sin, problems, sickness and forgiveness, deliverance and healings to permeate my days.  We are preparing for an eternity with Him and every experience, challenge and difficulty helps us learn to depend on Him here, so that we'll run into His arms there.
blessings and Happy Easter (may you be raised with Him!
Rob Smith

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Inner-man fitness

Ephesians 3:16-17 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith
1 Corinthians 9:26-27 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
We live in a time when physical health and exercise is valued.  My daughter, in fact, dedicates her professional life to personal fitness training in a gym.  She spends much time planning the specific exercise routines for her clients because they have unique goals and needs for physical health.  We hear a great deal about nutrition, diet, devices that will tone our muscles and improve our appearance.  We are intrigued by gadgets that will sculpt our bodies into "adonis-like" perfection, with a minimum of time and effort (though the cost in dollars may be significant).  But I am challenged this morning to work on a different kind of fitness:  "Inner man" fitness  This is the kind of health that focuses on my walk with God.  I need to train my eyes to see the invisible hand of God, my hands to function as part of the body of Christ, my feet to carry the message of eternal life, and my heart to be filled with the presence of my loving Lord.  It won't be easy because many distractions seek to dissuade me, but I know that no other cause will truly satisfy and, one day, when I am with Jesus I will be most pleased to have developed this aspect of my life.  (Even more than having "perfect abs"...or "running a marathon".)
Rob Smith

Thursday, March 20, 2008

designer world

You can't hide good taste.  From designer jeans to designer jewelry to designer handbags, we recognize an excellent designer by his or her products.  True also of fine art, I'm told that experts can identify the artist by the paint strokes and subtle use of color.  Frank Lloyd Wright was know for architecture that married function with nature.
Today, as I looked out my office window, I considered a tall loblolly pine tree standing a few hundred yards away.  As the tree grows, the branches remain around the top of the trunk, allowing the tree to retain amazing flexibility.  As I continue to reflect on the tree I realized that there is nothing that any man can take credit for in the loblolly pine.  Absolutely every aspect of the tree's design came from the drawing board of our Lord.  In a sense, when we gaze on the loblolly pine we are seeing the hands and the mind of God, because absolutely every aspect of the tree was crafted and developed by Him.  I have never seen God, but I see Him daily in the loblolly pine (I see Him in you, too!).
Isaiah 45: 9 " Woe to him who strives with his Maker!
      Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth!
      Shall the clay say to him who forms it, 'What are you making?'
      Or shall your handiwork say, 'He has no hands'?
Rob Smith

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

your audience

Every action seen,
Every thought aware,
Every attitude sifted,
Every motive laid bare,
Every day, every moment,
Our lives lived before...
The Lord, our maker
Knows us to the core.
Step out of the shadows
and into the light,
He doesn't just see,
But He'll lead us, in right
Job 34:21 "For His eyes are on the ways of man,
      And He sees all his steps.
 22 There is no darkness nor shadow of death
      Where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves.
Psalm 23:3 He restores my soul;
         He leads me in the paths of righteousness
         For His name's sake.
Rob Smith

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

raising the dead

It will be Easter this Sunday.  It's the day we specifically remember that Jesus rose from the dead.  When Jesus was ministering with His disciples for the previous three years, He raised people who had physically died back to life.  There are times when we may think that it's hard to relate to that amazing time.  But the truth is, Jesus is still raising the dead to life.
John 5:24 "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.
blessings and thanks to the One who makes the dead to live!
Rob Smith

Monday, March 17, 2008


It happens every spring.  Trees that appear dead suddenly are covered in colorful blossoms and give evidence that life, long dormant, is revived.  So startling and so dramatic do these trees produce flowers that I wondered the cause that triggered buds to become beautiful flowers.  Recent research has located a gene within the leaves of the plant.  When the leaves reach a certain stage of growth they send a messenger chemical to the shoots and a protein is formed that initiates the flowering of buds over the canopy of branches.  I thought it interesting that the leaves control the flowers.  But I was reminded that the plant was an organisim that the Lord created with a code that integrated every aspect of growth.  The flowering of a tree is probably the most visibly dramatic aspect (as well as fruit bearing) but the code within the design governs every aspect from growth to insect resistance to sustaining life through difficult winters and times of drought.
Our Lord has also designed us with a code.  And though winter may seem long and droughts may occur in our lives, His plan will see us through and at just the proper time the flowers will also spring (and we will be surprised at the beauty)!
Song of Solomon 2:10 (The Message version)
Look around you: Winter is over;
   the winter rains are over, gone!
Spring flowers are in blossom all over.
   The whole world's a choir—and singing!
Rob Smith

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Some work required

On the way home from church today I spied a used car by the roadside.  That's not unusual, but the handpainted sign caught me eye.  The old car, some kind of 25 year-old, bright red American sedan looked very ordinary.  The large plywood sign leaned up against the front bumper and proclaimed to passing traffic: "Work Required.  Call after 5 p.m."  My thought was, who in the world would want to buy such an old, ordinary car even if "No Work was Required"!  But then the analogy to my own life struck home.  I'm an ordinary American model that is well over 25 years old.  I am aware that there is a whole lot of work required yet in my life.  I am so glad that Jesus stopped by the roadside and bought me.  I'm one of His long term projects and I'm forever grateful that He specializes in repairing ordinary models.
2 Chronicles 24: 11-12 (Message version)  The king and Jehoiada gave the money to the managers of The Temple project; they in turn paid the masons and carpenters for the repair work on The Temple of God. The construction workers kept at their jobs steadily until the restoration was complete—the house of God as good as new!
Rob Smith

Friday, March 14, 2008


Research has shown that human touch is actually essential to sustain healthy development in babies and children.  It has been proven that babies can starve if not held and touched adequately in their first year.  Young children experience inadequate bone growth, as well, if lacking in loving touch.  As adults we need touch as a form of communication, stress relief, encouragement and acceptance.  There's just something about us that needs that contact.  We are also children of God and He desires to touch us, as well.  His touch brings life and healing.  He lifts us up when we're hurting and crushed.  He disciplines us in love, too and He does not leave us alone.  As Jesus, He came to live among us and touched many to heal and deliver.  Just as He longs to know us individually, so He will touch you and me personally.  His touch reminds us that He is very near and that He loves us. 
Matthew 17:6-8 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid.  But Jesus came and touched them and said, "Arise, and do not be afraid."  When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.
Rob Smith

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Imagine having a peonal conversation with the creator of the universe.
            Imagine hearing from God and learning truth that rocks you to the core.
                        Imagine having a place to go when you stumble and being confident you
                                    can stand again.
                                               Imagine finding that there is actually a plan for your
                                                          life...and then stepping into that plan.
Imagine having thoughts that center more on others than on yourself.
            Imagine living a life that begins with flesh on earth and continues forever in heaven.
                        Imagine knowing who to thank for this amazing life we experience.
And then step into your imagination and realize how amazing it is to know the Living God!
2 Samuel 7:20-21 Now what more can David say to You? For You, Lord GOD, know Your servant.  For Your word's sake, and according to Your own heart, You have done all these great things, to make Your servant know them.
Rob Smith

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

every life a story

The young people of the Moody Chorale sang beautifully tonight.  Their voices harmonized in "a capella" perfection and the atmosphere of our gorgeous new sanctuary was baptized by the heavenly sounds.  As the chorus performed and I looked at the focused faces of each singer the thought occurred that each life represented a unique story.  One young man was from the African nation of Chad and another gal had been raised as a missionary girl in West Africa.  By different paths each singer had found his or her way to Moody Bible Institute and into the music program.  Once there, they had learned through practiced skill to create a unified sound that took each voice and fashioned praise beyond the capacity of any individual.  And so it is in life for all of us.  We travel our unique paths and are guided by the Lord, often thinking that our lives are defined by individual achievement alone.  But somehow there is a larger purpose that links us all.  It was good to be reminded by this young choir that we are the body of Christ and the Lord has placed each of us where we can perform best.  Together we praise and reflect and magnify Him in a way that none of us can do separately.
2 Chronicles 5:13 indeed it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the LORD, saying:

      "For He is good,
      For His mercy endures forever,"
Rob Smith

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Near and far

While exercising on my Nordic Track machine tonight, I've been watching a documentary about Napoleon's colossal failure to defeat Russia.  He entered Russia with over half a million men only to lose virtually all of his men, even though he was not defeated by another army.  In fact, he won the only battle he fought to capture Moscow.  But when he was unable to pin down the Russian army he was forced to retreat through severe winter weather.  Most of his men died due either directly or indirectly to the severe early winter as they trudged the 500 miles from Moscow to Lithuania.  The show ended with a stark comparison of the shallow graves that most of Napoleon's men were buried in with the elaborate tomb of Napoleon.  The thought I have is that once a man goes afield of the Lord there is almost no limit to the distance he can put between himself and wisdom.  And the failure of one can lead to the downfall of many others.  And it wasn't just Napoleon who failed that winter.  As the French troops retreated from Moscow many tried to take valuables of brass and gold with them instead of food.  They became exhausted from lugging their loot and died of hunger.  It struck me that it is far more common for men to put their life energy into pursuits that take them away from the Lord than it is for men to passionateloy pursue see how close they can come to Him.  Certainly that would lead to a far warmer experience than Napoleon and his army faced in Russia that year.
Psalm 119: 150 They draw near who follow after wickedness;  They are far from Your law.

Psalm 73:28 But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, That I may declare all Your works.
Rob Smith

Sunday, March 9, 2008

all about image

We're visiting family this weekend in North Carolina.  Our niece's husband is in the army and based at Fort Bragg.  Today we stopped in the base PX (store) and Shirley got excited about some bargain prices.  I was also struck by some of the prices, but in a different way.  Some of the most desired brands of purse and wallet for women carried astronomical price tags.  One average looking wallet had a price tag of over $150!!  I was told that women pay those prices to be seen with the accessories and to be identified with their upscale image.  I guess the idea is that upscale kinds of people carry upscale kinds of purses.  I suppose having the right kind of image is pretty important to us.  In the spiritual arena, our reputation is also very important.  We can't buy a good reputation, but we can develop one through close association with our living Lord.  Spending time, rather than money, with the Lord can result in attitudes and actions that reflect His image, a privilege that was purchased for a far higher price than any handbag commands.
Colossians 3:9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
Rob Smith


Saturday, March 8, 2008

vision problems

I only have two problems with my eyesight: seeing near and seeing far.  I've needed glasses to correct near-sightedness for years and over the past several years I've needed help reading computer screens and closer things, too.  But I've become totally comfortable with the correction that lenses provide.  In fact, I typically use one contact lens for distance and one for reading...and somehow the brain sorts it all out. 
In my personal life direction I sometimes need "vision" help as well.  I can think that I see clearly where I need to go in the near term and in the far term, but only when I hold my life up to the Lord is that Vision corrected.  I am becoming more and more comfortable with the vision correction that the Lord provides.  His "lens" focuses the picture and clarifies my direction.
Mark 8:24 He looked up and said, "I see people; they look like trees walking around."
 25 Once more Jesus put his hands on the man's eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.
Rob Smith

Friday, March 7, 2008

Good to Bow

In some ways it may seem unnecessary to bow physically when the Lord always towers around and over us, even when we are standing.  How can it make a difference whether we stand or bow low?  Yet, tonight, I was reminded that it is an honor to bow.  For when we bow, we must first stop.  We are not looking around and we are reminded in our posture that we are under His almighty presence.  There is something in bowing that is conducive to prayer and that helps align us with the Lord rightly.  No, it is not necessary to bow but it is a privilege and it is beneficial in our walk with Him.
Psalm 95:6-7 Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
                 Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.
                 For He is our God,
                 And we are the people of His pasture,
                 And the sheep of His hand.
Rob Smith

Thursday, March 6, 2008

making music

Singing is a gift we can personalize and offer to the Lord.  Tonight, at choir practice, I had the pleasure of standing next to Kaare Loftheim.  Kaare has a rich and resonant bass voice.  His range is quite broad and he sings both softly and with volume in a pleasing and clear way.  As is the case with most of us, his voice is unique and once you've heard Kaare you'd be able to identify him after hearing a few notes of his voice.  We sing not only with our vocal cords but with our entire body.  The energy comes from our diaphragm, a large muscle beneath the rib cage and the sound is a modified way of breathing that forces the air past vocal cords and up and through many body chambers that echo and vibrate in a way that is unique to our particular body makeup.  When we sing to the Lord, we start with a heart attitude that sparks our physical machinery to create sound.  Ultimately other hearts resonate as the sound is transferred and translated into a language spoken by the soul.  I think the Lord is delighted when our minds, hearts and bodies are so completely focused on Him.  The sound we create is unique but the sense of worship is shared in common.  As we dedicate our new sanctuary next week, we'll be able to identify with those who built the wall of Jerusalem in Nehemiah's day.
Nehemiah 12:27 Now at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought out the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings and singing, with cymbals and stringed instruments and harps.
Rob Smith

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The second wait

Today I had a doctor's appointment.  It followed the normal routine.  First you check in at the front desk, fill out some papers...and wait for a while.  Then a nurse opens a door and calls your name.  You follow her from the waiting room and she leads you into an exam room...where you wait for a while longer.  The only difference in the two waiting experiences is that you have magazines to read in the waiting room and brochures on medical treatments in the exam room...but the wait is just as long in both places.  I wonder why they don't just wait and call you when the doctor is really ready?
It made me think about my experience with Jesus.  I was kind of in the waiting room of life when Jesus first invited me in.  I was glad He called and followed Him, thinking, He was going to complete His work right away.  But it didn't play out that way.  After that initial meeting, I've come to realize that there's another kind of waiting now...but I'm sure He'll come again and at a time I least expect it He'll show up to finish the job and take me home.  I don't completely understand why He didn't finish the work when we first met, but I've found the material I've been reading in His exam room is doing a work in my heart, while I wait.
John 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
Rob Smith

as near as the breeze

As I walked through the gorgeous sunny morning today, the breezes swirled around and the clear air allowed the sharp new sun to cause trees and houses to stand out in sharp profile.  I asked the Lord to help me feel His presence and I was reminded that I am constantly able to feel the air all around me.  Whether windy and forceful or calm, the air connects me with the heat of the sun and the energy of the skies.  The air carries the chemicals I need to refresh my lungs and the movement of the air over my face reminds me He is next to me (and within).
Job 38:24 By what way is light diffused,
      Or the east wind scattered over the earth?
Rob Smith

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

why I'm married

This morning I discovered one more reason why I need a wife.  When I was puttering around in the bathroom I spotted a change to the toilet.  Sitting on top of the toilet tank was a new vase with sprigs of an artificial plant coming out.  Without a doubt it enhanced the appearance of the toilet and the bathroom.  Immediately the thought struck: I wouldn't have thought to decorate the toilet tank in a hundred years.  My wife's gift for decorating our home has made all the difference in warming it up.  Left to me, there would be a couch, a tv and an odd assortment of chairs (and that would be about it!).  When it came to window treatment, I'd draw the line at blinds...curtains would be going too far (if it were just me...).  Just one more obvious reason why the Lord graciously didn't allow me to wander alone through life.
Psalm 128:3 Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine In the very heart of your house
blessings (thanks to Shirley),
Rob Smith

Monday, March 3, 2008

life chasers

Doesn't it seem sometimes that we are chasing after life like you chase a piece of paper that blows out of your hands and across a parking lot.  The paper entices you, but as you draw close it dances with the wind just out of your reach.  We can look at life as a "wait until" sort of experience.  As will get good when I finish school...get that job...find that girl...own that house/car/boat hard for 40 years so we can do...nothing.  But it all becomes a mirage-like sort of thing because life seems to dance away from each of those just as we reach them.
Doesn't it seem that we somehow think that our best days always lie ahead...but what about today/now/here?  Can we not savor the flavor of the moment as it moves under our feet, in front of our eyes, between our ears, within our heart.  It hit me last night that I really don't have a clue what the next year/month/day/minute/moment holds....but what liberation!  That means I'm free to experience some kind of ongoing ultimate experience as I walk.  I think this is where we meet Jesus.  We won't find him as we try to peer into tomorrow, but if we settle into the moment, we may begin to sense His presence next to us....and if we really get comfortable with Him at our side, we may give Him our hand and let Him take us...just exactly where He'd like to go (might as well...He knows the way much better).  Turns out that I don't need to chase life...He chased me down long ago.
Philippians 4 (vs 10-12 Message version)  I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.
blessings (for now),
Rob Smith

Sunday, March 2, 2008

one plus one equals one

I was reflecting on marriage today.  It's really an awesome thing that two separate people should endeavor to live in such intimacy.  It defies the rules of addition that one plus one could still result in one.  What a mystery...but this is a mystery that shows up in the Lord, too.  Father, Son and Holy Spirt are three and still one.  Wonder of wonders...though we are not God, we can experience "oneness" with Him.  But, back to the human level, we see the wonder of this mytery as husband and wife come together to form a child.  It is an awesome thing that God would permit us to have such an honored role in new life.  But it also profoundly reflects the miracle of marriage that the child is conceived when part of each combine to make one new person.  In the child we see the completion of two becoming one. 
Ephesians 5:30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
Rob Smith

Saturday, March 1, 2008

a wasted kiss

A kiss is an opportunity that should be carefully handled.  Yesterday I was having a cup of coffee at work.  I spotted a Hershey's kiss and decided to try to flavor my coffee by dropping the kiss in (thinking it would melt and dissolve into the coffee).  I drained the coffee only to find the kiss was still intact (softened but not absorbed by the drink).  Extricating the kiss became a delicate and somewhat sloppy process.  A kiss shouldn't be wasted...but that is just what I did.  But I'll try to take care to kiss the Son, as Psalm 2 describes, because we are blessed who trust in Him.
Psalm 2:12 Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,
         And you perish in the way,
         When His wrath is kindled but a little.
         Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.
Rob Smith