Thursday, April 30, 2009

Net Present Value

When you work with money you learn a concept called "Net Present Value".  This concept tries to consider how the future can affect money.  The idea is that, over time, money should grow at some rate...if you are investing.  Or, money should cost you at a certain rate...if you are borrowing.  A business that can reliably earn revenue in the years ahead has a "Net Present Value" based on those anticipated future earnings.  The thought occurs that we have a "Net Present Value" to the Lord.  Although we do not know the future, the Lord has a future in mind for us.  We marvel at His costly sacrifice made to redeem us, when we were still in our sins and when we didn't begin to appreciate the price paid.  Perhaps we can begin to appreciate the potential that God sees in our future lives, as captured in the investment made on Calvary.  He is able to see the "Net Future Value" of lives touched by that resurrection power that transcends any interest rate, growth factor, technology or political movement.  Just as a small financial interest rate can compound to a great dollar increase, so His interest in small people can lead to His greatness to increase and be displayed in our lives!
Isaiah 26:15 You have increased the nation, O LORD,
      You have increased the nation;
      You are glorified;
      You have expanded all the borders of the land.
Rob Smith

Monday, April 27, 2009

perfect in every way

you are a man and you have had the experience, as I have, of being married for some time than you may be able to relate to this thought.  It occurs to me that I spend part of every day with the same person.  She's certainly a different person than me, but we decided a long time ago to go down the same paths together.  We are real close in just about every way imaginable, but there's still acres of difference between us.  I'm attracted to her on several levels, none of which I fully understand but all of which I appreciate.  I used to think that I wanted her...then I gradually realized I needed I have a hard time knowing where I end and she starts.  If, for some reason, she and I are apart for a night or two part of me likes the freedom but the other part gets lonely in a hurry.  I'm beginning to think that she is every thing I'm not and so I've come to the conclusion that she is perfect in every way.  It's not that she's absolutely perfect...just like I'm not anywhere close to perfect.  But there is no question that she is perfect for me.  I may be the engine in the boat, but she makes the trip worthwhile.  (I suspect you can relate if you're a man who's been married for any length of time out there). 
Genesis 2:20 (New Living Bible) He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals. But still there was no helper just right for him.
 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man's ribs and closed up the opening. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man.
 23 "At last!" the man exclaimed.
   "This one is bone from my bone,
      and flesh from my flesh!
Rob Smith

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

set apart or stand apart

We have learned a new word recently in our study of the Old Testament through the Mini Bible College survey: the word is apostate.  It literally means to "stand away from" something and, in the case of the Hebrews of the Old Testament it referred to them "standing away from" the Lord.  They chose to ignore or disobey the same God who had delivered them miraculously from slavery and who had provided their food and healed their diseases in the desert.  It struck me that there is an interesting contrast with the word "holiness".  Unger's Bible Dictionary defines holiness as being "set apart", specifically to be set apart from all that is sinful or morally imperfect.  The thought occurs that we can have one of two ambitions, once we have come to know the Lord:  We can seek to be "set apart" in our hearts and minds to be aligned with the Lord...or we can "stand apart" from the One who has been faithful and true.  One separates us from our Lord and one binds us closer.  What a privilege we have that, like Moses, we can stand on holy ground.
Isaiah 35:8 A highway shall be there, and a road,
      And it shall be called the Highway of Holiness.
      The unclean shall not pass over it,
      But it shall be for others.
      Whoever walks the road, although a fool,
      Shall not go astray.
Rob Smith

Monday, April 20, 2009


I saw an acquaintance recently as she was on her way to an acupuncture treatment.  Curious, I asked if it really seemed to work.  The idea of being made well by intentionally inserting needles into one's body is a little hard to wrap my mind around.  But she insisted that it was, indeed, making a difference.  I researched to find out how acupuncture works.  It turns out that the Chinese have one theory and Western medicine has another...though there seems to be agreement that acupuncture can make a difference in pain relief, immune response and many varied maladies.  The Chinese talk about an invisible flow of energy that the body needs (pronounced "chee") and that is affected by two forces known as "yin" and "yang".  Western medicine talks about neurotransmitters and endorphins and how the needles impact the central nervous system.  After reading these ideas I still don't think anybody really knows how acupuncture works.  The gal I ran into on her way to a treatment said that one of the benefits to her was having a chance to lay perfectly still for a half hour while being treated....sort of an enforced time of being still.  I am reminded that there was another One who was pierced to make me well.  His willingness to undergo that intensely painful experience did provide an effective healing to my life in spiritual ways that are also difficult to observe and explain medically, but that are very real nevertheless.  Sometimes I need to be still for a while to appreciate the awesomeness of this "Treatment".
Isaiah 53:4Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
         And our sorrows He carried;
         Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
         Smitten of God, and afflicted.
    5But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
         He was crushed for our iniquities;
         The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
         And by His scourging we are healed.
Rob Smith

Thursday, April 16, 2009

all for us, all for Him

It occurred to me this morning, as we are in the wake of the Resurrection celebration, that Jesus gave everything He could for us.
He instructed us to remember that "everything" gift when we eat and drink the bread and wine and consider the body broken and the blood shed, all for us. This morning it strikes me that if He gave all for me, I should give all for Him. I do not come close to attaining this, but He is my model. If we can be oriented to give our all for Him I suppose that accomplishes two things: (1) we are no longer giving all our energy to merely satisfy ourselves and (2) we become available to Him to redirect our life energy in new ways that will please Him and will accomplish His work. Frankly, I can't think of a more fulfilling focus. Hopefully I will remember not only how much the Lord has given for me, but I will realize that this kind of "extreme giving" is what I am called to, as well.

Romans 5:15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man's offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. 16 And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.

Rob Smith

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

good day guarantee

It seems that the universal greeting or expression that you hear as you do business almost anywhere is "Have a good day."  I hear this from total strangers daily as I buy groceries, pay for dry cleaning, or pick up something from the local 7-11.  It is a pleasant thing to hear and certainly a safe thing to say...but how does one go about "having a good day"?  Doesn't it seem as if the "goodness" of a day comes often from forces and circumstances beyond our control?  And how can we know just how the day will play out?  This morning, after spending some time in the Psalms, I realized that there is one way that I can be sure of having a good day, before I have even left the house.  If I begin my day satisfied that I have heard from the Lord and convinced that He sees me and hears me I know that all will be well regardless of the situations, circumstances and events of the day ahead.  If I am well in Him I will be well regardless of the things I can't control and I will tend to get beyond focusing on myself and begin to think of others who don't have this freedom...surely that will lead to a good day (or a better one than if I remain in my own strength alone).
Psalm 41:12 (Message Version) You know me inside and out, you hold me together,  you never fail to stand me tall in your presence so I can look you in the eye.
blessings (Have a good day, knowing He knows you!)
Rob Smith

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

small stage for a grand performance

Easter Sunday, as we were worshiping, it occurred to me that the victory of the Cross and the Resurrection are experienced one person at a time.  The greatness of our Lord to pay for all sins for all time is certainly beyond comprehension.  The wonder that our Lord would die for me, individually, is just as amazing.  I realized that we appropriate the power of the resurrection when we, individually, realize by faith that the work of the Cross was for ourselves personally and we bow in brokenness and ask the Lord Jesus to come into our hearts.  I was struck by the idea that the love of God and the plan of God for a changed world takes place first in the hearts of individual people, who are transformed by welcoming Him into their lives.  There are billions of people alive today and there are hundreds of nations and thousands of tribes and religious sects, yet there is no greater drama than the individual drama of each heart and the opportunity we enjoy to meet the Savior personally.  Does anyone value anything more than their own life?  When we find the love of the Lord we realize that there is One who knows us and loves us even more than we can love ourselves.  I am overwhelmed by the intimate and personal love our God would have with us!
Deuteronomy 7:6 Do this because you are a people set apart as holy to God, your God. God, your God, chose you out of all the people on Earth for himself as a cherished, personal treasure.
Rob Smith

Thursday, April 9, 2009


We visited the Smithsonian Museum of American History last week and enjoyed a fascinating exhibit on Abraham Lincoln and his presidency.  While waiting to go into the museum I spotted an elaborate quotation engraved into the outer wall of the museum.  The quote was attributed to John Quincy Adams and it paid honor to the founder of the Smithsonian Institute, James Smithson.  Upon his death, Smithson left half a million dollars, his entire fortune, to create an institute for the "increase and diffusion of knowledge" in America.  Smithson was an English scientist who specialized in mineralogy.  He never visited America and we have no background about his interest in this country.  Of course, millions have benefitted from this remarkable bequest.  I thought about the importance of knowledge and I considered how our government has no problem with a "separation of knowledge and state" as it has with religion.  But then I considered what true knowledge involves and realized that, at its core, all knowledge has its origin with the Lord.  Certainly the wonder of knowledge lies in the Creator whose imprint can be found, like an artists signature, on all His works.  But, greater still than knowledge, is to be known by the Lord and to know Him.  I suppose that the best quality of knowledge is realized as we walk in the knowledge of Him and in His knowledge of us.  
Colossians 2: 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Rob Smith

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

signs of spring

This past Sunday afternoon we had the privilege of listening to the singing of Handel's Messiah at the Methodist Church in town. Truly we were blessed to follow the story of redemption through the scriptures that the composer wove together with glorious music.  We left inspired.  Adding to the blessing was the presence of my Mom singing in the Soprano section.  Mom will be 86 later this month, yet she shone in the reflected beauty of the awesome music and message.  It occurred to me that this was a sign of spring.  Spring brings color back to the earth as the resurrection of Jesus restores color to our lives.  My mother, yet gray and full of years, is also full of His color and is a sign of the heavenly spring that soon awaits us all who have placed our trust in the work of the Cross.  Yes, if you look closely the signs of spring lie all around...and they can be found in the heavenly color He is bringing into our lives. 
Song of Solomon 2:10 (The Message)
         Get up, my dear friend,
   fair and beautiful lover—come to me!
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!
Easter blessings in Jesus,
Rob Smith

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

inspired appetites

It occurred to me that certain experiences invariably prompt specific appetites.  Entering a movie theater I immediately crave popcorn.  Walking to my seat at a pro baseball game the words "hot dog" begin flashing like neon in my mind.  Strolling into a state fair I have a sudden and inexplicable desire for pink cotton candy.  If I go to a circus I'm looking for Cracker Jack at the first opportunity.  I wonder what it is that causes these foods to be triggered by these specific surroundings?  It must be that there has been a close association.  I would typically enjoy these particular treats in these venues.  But when I come to worship the Lord in church I have this compelling hunger for the meat and the drink that only He can provide.  Truth, wrapped in holy music and served with God's inspired Word, is the food I crave.  The only satisfactory meal to reflect this is the simple bread and wine of the supper we have in common with the first disciples.  This week we remember why we long for this food.  It was because of the great cost of the ingredients!
Luke 22:19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me."
20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you."
Rob Smith

Monday, April 6, 2009

cherry blossoms

My wife, Shirley, and I decided to see the Cherry Blossoms in Washington, D.C. this weekend.  We had never visited the city to see them and so we were excited to join the throngs of people who had a similar ambition.  There must have been a million people milling around the mall and the surrounding tourist attractions.  The cherry trees and blossoms truly were gorgeous.  I was really impressed how well the blossoms were holding onto the trees despite gusty winds that topped 40 m.p.h. at times.  Naturally there were a lot of photo's being taken.  I, myself, snapped one through the branches of a cherry tree with the Washington Monument in the background and was proud of the result.  I decided to take a close look at the cherry blossoms.  They seemed to be clustered in clumps all over the branches.  When you examined a single petal you weren't very impressed.  The petals were about 1/4 inch diameter ovals that seemed slightly pink in color.  You could spot these petals on the ground, on car windshields...even bunched up on the surface of the tidal basin, forced together by wind and waves.  The beauty of the trees didn't come from the individual came from the millions of petals concentrated on hundreds of trees that were in close proximity with one another.  I thought about all the people around, enjoying the trees.  There were Asians and Africans and Europeans and Mexicans all clustered together.  Unlike the cherry petals, each person was unique and precious, but there was a great energy and beauty in the diversity and numbers of people all around, as well.  Cherry petals and people...  I was reminded that the Lord fashioned beauty in the individual and more beauty in the masses.  I wonder if the Lord enjoys visiting His people like we enjoy visiting the cherry trees.  Like the fragile petals, we blossom for a brief time and then the wind carries us away.
Isaiah 61:11 For as the earth brings forth its bud,  As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth, So the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.
Rob Smith