Who Wrote It? Pastor Reggie Smith on “Lessons from Luke”

By Josh DeGroot

April 29, 2016

Have you ever finished reading your daily Today devotion and wondered what inspired the author’s thoughts and reflections? If so, our “Who Wrote It” feature is just for you. Listen to this podcast interview and follow along with the transcript below to learn more about this month’s author and what he hopes you might take away from this series.

Josh Degroot — Welcome to Today Devotional's Who Wrote It, where we are introduced to our Today authors and receive inspiration from their writing.  I am Josh DeGroot, and joining me on the line right now is Pastor Reggie Smith, who has served numerous congregations in the CRC; and he is on the line from Grand Rapids.  Pastor Reggie, thanks for joining me today.

Dr. Smith — You got it.

Josh Degroot — Now, you wrote this month about the Gospel of Luke, and I think it is a very informative and educational read.  In the beginning of the month, you talked about weird names, which is great; and you recite names like Blue Ivy and North West, which in case, if you don’t know, is the child of Kanye West; and I love these particular words from this passage: Sometimes a miracle of God has to break tradition in order to remind people of the undeserved, unpredictable grace of God at work.  Grace becomes amazing when we stop trying to force it into our old models.  Are we, Reggie, as Christians, too traditional and too predictable?

Dr. Smith — Yep; I think that very often we think what has worked in the past – what has worked twenty years ago, worked thirty years ago – not to say it is not bad, but trying to fit that into 21st Century, post-modern, Donald Trump kind of world doesn’t seem to fit anymore; and I think that we have to stretch our muscles, especially our heart muscles and our mind muscles, because sometimes very often we go into autopilot and God has to kind of shake us up a little bit to the world that has changed.  Not that Jesus has changed or the way He works has changed, but that the way He shows up in our lives has changed; and I think that is how we get shocked back into what amazing grace is.

Josh Degroot — You know, you also talk about how we basically rely on our phones for everything; I mean, we rely on the GPS when we are lost on the road, and we pursue our own happiness instead pointing to the direction of God; and I think we all could agree on that, and that is true, but how can we do this better?  How can we rely more on God?

Dr. Smith — I think that we have to kind of step away from…  Maybe the question is: How do we pay attention again?  When you use your phone, you really do not have to think about it.  It is kind of like second nature; it is second nature to push on the GPS; it is second nature to text; it is second nature to always be doing something on your phone, rather than we have to slow down, take a breath, stay still, and know who God is again; and I think that is when we find ourselves…  Wow, I really haven’t been paying attention.  It is like a really good conversation.  People know when you are not listening.  They know when you are not being present.  They know when you are not there; and I think the same thing is with Jesus.  I think that we kind of have to stop, take a breath, kind of quiet the noise in our own heads, and listen to that small, still voice of Jesus calling us to something deeper, something more profound, but also something more satisfying than our gadgets and our… you know, just flying by the seat of our pants; but that is a discipline that we are really not used to doing.

Josh Degroot — And that would require us to, in essence, spiritually change; and you talk about that in some of the later episodes; and I think change is a word that many of us fear in general.  So, beyond reading our bibles and going to church and just generally trying to be a good person, how do we actually spiritually change; and quite frankly, how do we know when God is trying to change us?

Dr. Smith — Oh, that is quite easy.  When our own agendas are being challenged, we are being challenged to change.  The amazing thing about Christianity is that it is the only religion that asks you to die in order to live; and we think it is the other way around.  We think we have to live, and then maybe die somewhere along the line; but really, Jesus is really asking us to do something that is totally against the grain – totally countercultural.  If you lose your life, you will find it; and if you try to save your life, you will lose it; and a lot of us don’t want to sign up for that because a lot of us don’t like to die – to die to our agendas…

Josh Degroot — Sure.

Dr. Smith — To die to our ambitions; and change is about how do I deal with the death of my own agenda – my own wants – my own selfishness – my own wanting to run my own life?  And I think that we have to be reintroduced again back to that… You know, you have to die in order to live; and that is where really profound change happens because we are still kind of holding on – grasping – to our own lives and thinking that will save us.

Josh Degroot — What do you want people to walk away with after reading your devotions this month?

Dr. Smith — I want people to walk away with either an “aha” moment or, “Wow, I really am selfish,” or “Wow, I really didn’t think of that that way.”  If I can get people to think… to pause and do that, then I think that my devotions will have scratched the surface to maybe some more thinking – some more kind of deep digging about, you know, your own sin, your own stuff that you are trying to hold onto, and really allowing grace to seep in and begin to do some really… not DIY, but really Jesus work in our lives.  If it happens that way, and get people to think that, then I think my work is successful.

Josh Degroot — Oh, I think you punched the point pretty clear, and like you said, at least the thinking will begin, and that is huge.

I am Josh DeGroot, and you have been listening to Pastor Reggie Smith talk about his inspiration and teaching from May’s Today devotions.  Listen to them, read them, and study them at TodayDevotional.com.

About the author — Josh DeGroot

Josh DeGroot is a graduate of Columbia College in Chicago. Josh began as a sound engineer with Back to God Ministries International in July 2008. In addition to the "Who Wrote It?" interviews for Today, Josh works on almost every audio project produced by Back to God in the US. He also writes and produces episodes for our sister ministry, the children's program, Kids Corner. Josh lives in Alsip, IL with his wife. They are expecting their first child.

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