Wednesday, February 27, 2013

case of winter joy

...should have gotten the vaccine shot...thought I'd made it through the winter...
but I woke up this morning with a serious case of winter joy.

I thought I'd shake it off by thinking on some of the problems and challenges I'd face in the work day ahead...
But no!  That old joy bug just stuck...hanging over me like some kind of summer sunshine...

I just know that whoever I come near today is going to catch it...I'm practically sneezing smiles and running a happiness fever.

Who can explain these things...these invisible germs that must float through the air carrying peace and contentment and gratitude...

Oh, that's right...I have a heavenly relation who is deeply involved in my life...I keep forgetting and thinking that I'm on my own down here!

Well it may pass with time...but for now I think I'll just have to accept this winter joy...there are worse things than being happy!

Job 8:21 
He will once again fill your mouth with laughter
    and your lips with shouts of joy.

Rob Smith

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

a balanced design

This week we are looking at the Garden of Eden, before the problems of eating the forbidden fruit set in.  After God had made all of Creation and the last act of Creation was to form man and woman, He fashioned a beautiful garden for them to live within.  The garden had quite a variety of beautiful trees and delicious fruits.  There were rivers to add water and additional beauty.  There was a very pure gold and other precious stones and minerals.  The purpose for man was to tend the garden and enjoy the provision of God in partnership with a life partner.  You might say that there are three aspects of life: someone to worship, something to do and someone to share with.  Or another way of saying it is: there is something to do, someone to do it with, and someone to do it for.  There is a completeness, even today, in living this way.  When we realize that God is still the One who has placed us in our particular garden of living and we have been given certain skills and abilities to be fruitful and we have a spouse and family / friends to share the experience...we find fulfillment.  I believe it all begins to take focus when we acknowledge that God has fashioned it all and we are fashioned, like Adam and Eve, according to His design and for His great pleasure.  But we need all three components in some kind of heavenly balance.

Genesis 2:Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden in the east, and there he placed the man he had made. The Lord God made all sorts of trees grow up from the ground—trees that were beautiful and that produced delicious fruit...12 The gold of that land is exceptionally pure; aromatic resin and onyx stone are also found there...15 The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it...18 Then the Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him."

Rob Smith

Monday, February 25, 2013

a legacy of life

What will we leave behind...we think
Of riches, homes and stuff...

Why wait until the end I think
for now is soon enough...

to leave behind the greatest thing
a man can ever give,

the legacy of life must start while
we do breathe and live.

To show His presence calls for acts
of kindness now and here,

To speak His words of new-found hope...
It's best when ears can hear.

Our children learn...then take their turn
We give them all we can,

Before they leave our homes, so that
Their own will know His plan.

It's not so much how ends our days
or how much we then own,

As how we turn the daily page
and point to Heaven's throne.

Mark 8:35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it. 36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

Rob Smith

Sunday, February 24, 2013

in our image

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness..."

In the image of God we're made
Created by His spoken word

Like Him are we formed, that we may
See Him and know of His ways

How can I be like my God?
When stumbling I trip through my day?

How can it be?  Seems too odd
My me in some way?

It must be the eternal side,
designed for ever past time

and maybe the way we can love,
like His love for you and for I.

Perhaps it's an eye for art
and ears that savor sound.

The choices that put others first
and greater joys than self, we've found

Perhaps we are formed like our God
that upward we'll recognize

His downward gaze, as it joins
Our worship through His fashioned eyes.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Acts of Creation

This week in our Mini Bible College lesson we are learning about Creation.  It is interesting that the word for "Creation" is 'bara' in Hebrew, which means to "make something from nothing".  Three times in the first chapter of Genesis we see God exercising "bara" to create something from nothing.  In between these acts there is change and development as the creation forms.  In verse 1 God creates the heavens and earth.  In verse 21 God creates animals.  In verse 27 God creates man.  In between these verses we see the creation changing and developing.  Our teacher, Dick Woodward, points out that there is nothing that conflicts with science here.  God designed evolution and change into the plan but only God could make something from nothing.  There are three areas where science has been unable to provide the answers:  How did the earth first get here, How did animals develop from plant life and How did man form from animals.  These missing links are explained by the three acts of "bara".  A fourth act of bara is necessary in our hearts.  We cannot become the people God ultimately wants us to be simply by growth and change within ourselves.  We need an act of "bara" to make something from nothing in our hearts.  As David said in Psalm 51:10 
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

A fourth act of "bara" is needed to make us a new creation.

blessings (come to our class at 9:30 in room 120 to learn with us on Sunday at the Williamsburg Community Chapel),

Rob Smith

Thursday, February 21, 2013

God's newspaper

Keeping up with the news is something most of us do every day.  And these days it's almost as if the "news" chases us down and jumps in front of our face.  The internet, cable, satellite broadcast, airwaves and cell phones assault us and intrude upon us with headlines and stories of events that unfold from almost anywhere at anytime.  It occurred to me this morning that we can become a people who expect the news to happen by other people, in other places.  Most newsworthy events have a certain shock value in terms of natural activity.  And then there are celebrities who are expected to make news just be being celebrities.  So I wondered what God's newspaper would look like as He roams the world for news.  I realized that God's headlines would be a bit different, perhaps, than ours.  Of course He wouldn't be surprised by any of the events that we consider screaming stories...He is the One who knows beginning from end.  But I imagine that He would take joy from the choices of everyday people like you and me, when we make choices that show preference for Him and for HIs ways over ourselves and our ways.  And when those choices lead to unnatural events like personal sacrifice for the wellbeing of others and when those choices include sharing the good news of salvation to one who is spiritually parched and when those events lead to hearts that embrace His Son and welcome His Spirit...I would imagine that might make the headlines of God's newspaper.  The Gospel is good news for us and we can become good news for Him!

Psalm 40:10 
I have not kept the good news of your justice hidden in my heart;
    I have talked about your faithfulness and saving power.
I have told everyone in the great assembly
    of your unfailing love and faithfulness.

Rob Smith

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

the winner

Some like to back the underdog and some like to back the winner.  When it comes to sports we fans have our hometown favorites but when our teams aren't playing, or other individuals are competing, we tend to gravitate one way or other...either to the consistently strong number one performers or to the weaker side...hoping for an upset.  This morning I considered how we do both in our walk with the Lord.  He is unquestionably the winner...the maker of all...the redeemer of the lost...the one who both hears and cares and answers.  The victories don't always come the way we'd expect or the way we might like.  But He plays on a field that is far larger than this small sphere and his clock goes way beyond the scoreboard clock that governs earthly time.  But, perhaps more than all this, He doesn't defeat the underdog or the weak...He uses his strength and grace to help, to heal, and to make whole.  As we align with this eternal Winner we also can align and identify with those who seem to be on the losing end and we can become players on His field.  We can be confident that as we back God we are backing the winner and as we serve God we are reaching those who have been on the losing end.

Luke 19:10 "For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost."

Rob Smith

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

unwrap the day

Jesus, pull the ribbon loose
and tear the wrap away...

A new day starts, I go with you
to lead me all the way.

The future's shaped by your own hands...
Who else to take my own,

And guide my steps, my thoughts, my ways..
How dare I go alone!

I'll look for you in every face and situation crossed...
expecting that in every place I'll find you...
and I'm home.

Jesus, pull the ribbon loose
and tear the wrap away...

I shall take the gift of you,
within this day you've made.

Psalm 118:23 
This was the Lord's doing;
It is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Rob Smith

Monday, February 18, 2013

love for a lifetime

Will I ever know that I've been known
with a love that lasts for life?

Is there one who cares enough to share
a love that frees from strife?

When I'm alone will love be shown
that carries me through trial?

Is there one unseen who sees my need
and holds me up despite all?

What kind of love would reach this way,
When we so often fail?

Who would walk with me this day,
The One who sees my trail...

There is a love that lasts for life!
It's source is He who made us.

Our weakness is His strength's best stage
Our failings why He holds us.

With less of me, more Him I'll see
This love I now will trust!

John 1:14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father's one and only Son.

Rob Smith

Saturday, February 16, 2013


2 Samuel 7:28 For you are God, O Sovereign Lord. Your words are truth, and you have promised these good things to your servant.

The word "true" comes from the Old English word triewe, which means "faithful or trustworthy" and the German "treu" where they got the spelling a little different.  Going back farther, to the precursor languages for Europe some believe that the word "true" comes from the word "dru" for 'tree' along the idea of "steadfast as an oak".  There is something within us that longs for and finds great peace in knowing that which is true in this way...steadfast as an oak.  As I have come to know the Lord I have been impressed that there is a place within us that resonates and responds in a very positive way when we hear truth, see truth and walk in truth.  I believe that it is because of this basic quality and need of ours that the Lord communicates with us the truth.  We are embarking on a survey of the Bible, starting with the Old Testament, on Sunday in our Mini Bible class.  I think one way of characterizing our journey is as a search for Truth.  I think it is fascinating that one of the names that Jesus gives Himself is "the Truth" (from John 14:6).  What is the truth about life?...What is the truth about death?...What is the truth about God?...What is the truth about personal identity and worth?  These are some of the big "Truth" questions we will look to find answers for.  Coming to know the truth is liberating and satisfying at a deep level.  As the Bible says: "And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." from John 8:32.

Rob Smith

Friday, February 15, 2013


Last night in choir we learned a new musical term: suspension.  A suspension is a way of creating tension in a song by having one voice sing a constant note above a changing harmony beneath.   After the "tension" is created this way it is usually "resolved" when the upper note changes to a satisfying harmony with the sounds beneath.  But in a song we are learning for Good Friday there are suspensions created that are not resolved.  Ted explained that this is pretty unusual.  It occurred to me that this is especially appropriate for Good Friday, when the suspension of our Lord on the Cross created the greatest tension eternity has seen.  It would not be fully resolved until Easter morning, when Christ rose from the Grave to resolve his death with victory in life.  In a sense we mirror this tension...this each of our lives as there is a dissonance between our walk and the eternal harmony of the Lord.  Our suspension is also resolved as we sing the new note of Christ, trusting Him with the weight of our full belief.  Then our voices join His and the oneness is eternally satisfying.

Romans 8:27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God's own will.

Rob Smith

Thursday, February 14, 2013

though they stumble...

Psalm 37:24 
Though they stumble, they will never fall,
    for the Lord holds them by the hand.

Psalm 37 has a lot to say about two kinds of people, "the Godly" and "the wicked".  The Godly appear to be described by verse 31.  These are the ones who have "made God's law their own" and have learned not to have too high of a regard for following themselves alone.  The wicked don't seem to care much for the Godly and verse 12 tells us that they "plot against the godly and snarl at them in defiance".  Apparently how folks relate to God says a lot about how they relate to each other.  This psalm goes on to paint a bright future for the godly and an empty one for the wicked.  One of the verses I found most interesting was the one above (verse 24) that tells us that even the godly will stumble and I found this so relatable.  Following the Lord and His ways doesn't mean we don't stumble...we stumble frequently in our humanness.  But what a great promise that He will catch us before we entirely fall.  Another encouraging verse is verse 27, which exhorts those on the "wicked" side of life to "turn from evil and do good, and you will live in the land forever".  The gospel in a nutshell is that we all start on the wicked side but have the hope of eternity if we will turn and bow before God's redemption, provided in His Son.  Perhaps most beautiful of all: when the Godly, who have been sneered at by the wicked, reach out in love and assist the wicked to come across into the place of hope and life.

Rob Smith

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

still dancing

My Mom was 6 when Wall Street fell in 1929, but I suspect that she was too busy dancing to notice.  Her buoyant spirit has defined optimism and a zest for the positive always.  They were poor growing up but they got by because Grandpa was a hard working brick mason who also knew how to tend a vegetable garden.  Then came World War II and Mom had just graduated from high school and was half way through her freshman year of college.  She just kept dancing at the USO with soldiers who were about to go across to Europe and fight through Italy and Germany.  Then Dad came along and couldn't resist this gal with her love for life and heart for others.  They danced together through 47 years of marriage and were so well matched that I always thought of Mom and Dad as one.  Dad departed for eternity 16 years ago and Mom discovered she could still dance and did so competitively for a while.  She has worked hard to stay in shape and last night we watched her steal the show at her church's Mardi Gras party when she accompanied a recording of Louis Armstrong to "Mame".  Mom has always been the life of the party because she loves living and she loves others.  She brightens the world as she dances through...

with love for Mom,

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

it's immaterial

It's immaterial to me...
Just how I know
or how I be...

It's immaterial to me..
Just how worlds spin,
Why we struggle so

It's immaterial to me...
Just how the world's run or
What nations seek

It's immaterial to me...
Just why You'd come...
Just why'd You come?
You've justly come!

It's immaterial to me..
Just how I know
Your love, your love, your love

The immaterial matters most,
You've come through Oh Lord of Hosts!

All you've made of matter rise
and greet the One who splits the skies.

John 4:24 "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."

blessings in an immaterial way,
Rob Smith

Monday, February 11, 2013

Running the G-race

My head is up and eyes ahead,
I'm running in the G-race...

Can't stop now, my soul is fed,
All the stains have been erased.

No more alone...Your Word has said,
The Truth within has evil chased...

I'm running in the G-race.

Made for more than worlds can give
Life is knowing Your embrace,

Feel Your Spirit's breath and live,

My greatest enemy I've faced 
and death's destroyed
now life awaits!

I'm running in the G-race!

1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtainit. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but wefor an imperishable crown.

Rob Smith

Saturday, February 9, 2013

dancing on clouds

I dance on clouds with face turned up
in warmth of shining face

I dance on clouds with mind on You
in the beauty of Your place

I dance on clouds that hold me up
weightless from earth's old pull

I dance on clouds to Heaven's strings
the music makes me full

I dance on clouds with open heart
that You might be my all

I dance on clouds that rain below
I'm yours above the storm.

Jeremiah 31:11 
For the Lord has redeemed Jacob,
And ransomed him from the hand of one stronger than he.
12 Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion,
Streaming to the goodness of the Lord
For wheat and new wine and oil,
For the young of the flock and the herd;
Their souls shall be like a well-watered garden,
And they shall sorrow no more at all.
13 "Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance,
And the young men and the old, together;
For I will turn their mourning to joy,
Will comfort them,
And make them rejoice rather than sorrow."

Rob Smith

Friday, February 8, 2013

yours alone

Yours alone,
I cut the cords
of earth's attaching grip

I call you Dad,
Your Son came down
and found me with His kiss

Yours alone,
I look to you for guidance every day

Until the day before the Throne
When cares will melt away.

Only You can have my life,
The life you've given me.

Your Spirit has awakened mine...
to life eternally. 

John 3:6 "Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don't be surprised when I say, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can't tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can't explain how people are born of the Spirit."

Rob Smith

Thursday, February 7, 2013

one ticket

When I was young, growing up in the northeast, we would occasionally go to a fair (carnival) or boardwalk amusement park by the ocean.  Of course this was great excitement.  The smell of popcorn, the sound of the crowd and the sight of flashing lights and whirling rides was intoxicating.  My father would buy a string of tickets and give an equal number to each of us three kids.  My first experience with budgeting came from carefully choosing how to spend those tickets on the rides I wanted to experience.  Once the tickets were used up...that would be the end of my fun!  It was agony knowing that there were too many rides available for the tickets we held.  So when I discovered places like Busch Gardens, here in Williamsburg, I was thrilled to find that once you bought one ticket to enter the park you could ride any ride and as much as you wanted.  The only limit was time...and there was such a thing as a season pass (we haven't done those yet!) that even gave you more time.  In a roughly similar way, I used to think that my price of acceptance in life was based on my hard individual success and efforts...and that I was only as good as what I had accomplished.  Life seemed like an endless number of tickets that needed to be purchased and applied.  But when I was introduced to the love of Jesus I found One who had bought a ticket for me.  Yes the ticket had been purchased and was waiting for me to pick it up from Him.  Once I claimed my ticket I found that I could rest from worrying about buying tickets every day.  One had made a great payment so that I could enjoy the park in His company and I wouldn't even have to wait in line.

Hebrews 9:11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come,with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

Rob Smith

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

the treasure box

Recently I was visiting in my daughter's home and I watched my grandson, Peter, as he was gluing some colored plastic "gems" on a small wooden box.  I asked what the box was all about and he opened it to show a beautiful piece of quartz.  Peter told me that his mother had given him the quartz and that she had found it and kept it when she was a child (my memory failed to recall this significant incident!).  He had carefully selected several multi-colored "gems" to decorate the box because the treasure within made the box that carried the treasure almost just as precious.  This reminded me that we, who have come to know the Lord personally, are like that treasure box.  The quartz we carry within is the presence of the living God.  We cherish His presence and we treasure the memory of how He found us personally and how he fills our personal treasure chest with life on a continual basis.  Just like Peter, we are motivated to beautify our lives with gems of love in action.  And just as his mother gave Peter the quartz, we have others we can thank for the presence of the Lord within our lives.  We could never improve on the beauty of the Lord, just as Peter cannot enhance the beauty of the quartz, but we can reflect that inner beauty as we add the gems of obedience to the treasure within.

2 Corinthians 4:But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.

Rob Smith

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

the imperfect place

Imperfect is the place we live,
Where wrong is everywhere,
We do not do the things we should,
and do not seem to care.

There's suffering of many types,
and much that's self-inflicted...
People, nations, tribes and homes,
all can be afflicted.

Why do we think we'll fix this place
when we ourselves are falling?
We need the help of One above...
The Perfect one is calling.

We'll not find perfection here,
while evil roams around,
But we can trust the Living Lord,
Who changes lost to found.

The perfect place is coming and
right will vanquish wrong,
But now we have a taste of this,
You'll find it in His song!

Romans 12:And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Rob Smith

Monday, February 4, 2013

focal point

We come to you when fears attack...our focal point of faith...
We come to you when failures fall...our focal point of faith...
We come to you when all goes well!...our focal point of faith...
We come to you with hearts of thanks...our focal point of faith...
We come to you when no one comes...our focal point of faith...
We come to you when life confounds...our focal point of faith...
We come to you when life abounds...our focal point of faith...
You came for us and now we've found our focal point of faith...
We look to you right here, right now...our focal point of faith,
and life...the author of all grace...
We're grateful for your face.

Psalm 27:
When You said, "Seek My face,"
My heart said to You, "Your face, Lord, I will seek."

Rob Smith

Sunday, February 3, 2013

new song

Joe Shepard is now in Heaven.  His year long battle with cancer is over and his healing is now complete.  Joe was our small group leader from church and he also led each meeting with a few songs.  Every week he would type the words to a few worship songs, hymns or praise choruses.  He would lead the music while playing his guitar.  One of the remarkable things is that every week he would bring different songs.  Over the course of four or five years I don't think we repeated the same song more than once or twice!  Joe loved to come into the presence of the Lord with singing and that's how I like to picture him at this moment.  Just as he would help us sing a new song every week, so I'm confident that he is singing a new song before the throne, in the immediate presence of the Father and Son, right now!  (And with his insatiable curiosity and hunger to learn, I'm also confident that he's finally getting the answers to many questions he's carried!).  We already miss you, Joe, and look forward to seeing you again in that place beyond...where you are now.  

With love for Joe and love, also, for Sheila and family.

Psalm 144:
I will sing a new song to You, O God;
On a harp of ten strings I will sing praises to You

Psalm 149:1
Praise the Lord!
Sing to the Lord a new song,
And His praise in the assembly of saints.

Psalm 100:
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.

Rob Smith

Saturday, February 2, 2013

fantasy and reality


the forming of mental images, especially wondrous or strange fancies; imaginative conceptualizing.

My grandson, Peter, is staying with us today.  We're playing some kind of Ninja / Knight battle right now with Lego's.  I love how Peter's view of reality is closely interwoven with his view of fantasy.  A child's mind embraces the possibilities that his imagination conceives.  It seems that later on we shun fantasy to embrace our view of reality.  But, just maybe, the child's approach to fantasy and reality is healthier.  We tend to narrow down our acceptable range of possibilities as adults and it may be that the greatest truths and most wonderful insights and experiences have become excluded from our sense of reality.  Certainly this can include the spiritual truths that the Lord has for us.  Most of these truths have their roots beyond the five senses in a spiritual realm.   Perhaps we can learn something from the fantasy and reality mix of children!

Psalm 71:19 
Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the highest heavens.
    You have done such wonderful things.
    Who can compare with you, O God?

Rob Smith

Friday, February 1, 2013

go with Him

Will you go with Him now as He knocks on your door?
Will you walk down the way with Him leading before?
Will you trust that His plans are best for this day?
Will you watch for His cues about just what to say?
Will you look for the others He wants you to help?
Will you lean on His shoulder when you're overwhelmed?
Will you turn when He turns and stop when he waits?
Will you allow Him to hug you...and kiss your own face?
Will you watch for His coming, each day and for all?
Will you go with Him ever... forever your Lord?

Psalm 139:
You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.

love, in His company
Rob Smith