Monday, December 29, 2008

Impatience

From Blog08


Impatience says, “I want it now!
Let others wait. I’m special—ME!
So move me past this line somehow,
And if you don’t, you’ll pay! You’ll see.”

Impatience comes from smelly pride
That’s thinking only of itself.
That pride may hide down deep inside,
But then pops out and shows itself.

The patient person waits in peace
Because the Father’s in control.
The wait gives time for sweet release,
For peace down in the soul.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience....
--Galatians 5:22

Photo and poem ©2008 James L. Swindle

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Mind

From Blog08


The demons want to own my mind
    and thus to own my soul.
They strongly want to make me blind
    to Christ who makes men whole.

The Savior comes to cleanse my mind,
    to make my thinking new--
Till some day by his grace you'll find
    it's stainless through and through.

Don't be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God.
--Romans 12:2, WEB

"For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct him?" But we have Christ's mind.
--1 Corinthians 2:16, WEB

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace; because the mind of the flesh is hostile towards God; for it is not subject to God's law, neither indeed can it be. Those who are in the flesh can't please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if it is so that the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if any man doesn't have the Spirit of Christ, he is not his.
--Romans 8:5-9, WEB

Note: I took the photo in a car at night while my wife was driving. Maybe we hit a bump. Anyway, I didn't get what I'd hoped to get (multiple airplanes in the sky), but I like what I got.

Much more important than the photo is the very real spiritual battle which often happens in the mind. Jesus sets us free. Temptation then becomes an opportunity to prove our swift obedience.

Answered Prayer

I'd mentioned awhile back my grief over separation from some whom I love. The Lord guided me to a book on fasting. I've tried a water-only fast a couple of times before in my life, for just 24 hours, and became ill both times. This time, I tried only fruits and vegetables and juices for 24 hours. For me, that was much more tolerable. That same day or the next, the key person in that relationship prepared a gift with a note and a card for us. We also had a very pleasant phone call from that direction this week.

This was a major breakthrough Am I taking credit for it? No. I think the Lord who guided me to fast was eager to teach lessons both to me and to the other party.

I praise the Lord who answers prayers. I'm eager to continue fasting gently from time to time in the future, as the Lord guides. However, I'm absolutely positive that fasting isn't the key to the successful Christian life. Jesus himself is the key.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas - Come to the Stable

From Blog08


Come to the stable.
    What do you see?
God in a feed trough for you and for me.

He's just a baby,
    Tender and small,
But He will be the King over all.

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea
in the days of Herod the king,
behold, wise men from the east
came to Jerusalem, saying,
"Where is he who has been born
king of the Jews?
For we saw his star when it rose
and have come to worship him."

--Matthew 2:1-2, ESV

©2008 James L. Swindle

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tacky Gift Idea

From Blog08


This is one of the worst gift items I've seen for sale this season. If you're Roman Catholic, the idea of covering the Virgin Mary in fuchsia glitter may be offensive. If you're not Roman Catholic, the idea of a statue of the Virgin is probably offensive. Not until I got home and looked carefully at the photo did I see the next item on the shelf; the box of nuns.

Where did I find these? Not at some clearance outlet for bad toys. They were at my local Borders bookstore, right next to the feathered ball-point pens.

On a more serious note, can you imagine someone praying to this glittered statuette? That would be sad! However, it's just as sad when people pray to a beautiful, dignified statue. "For there is one God and one mediator between God, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all..." (1 Timothy 2:5-6). We don't need to pray to a statue. We can go directly to the Father, by means of his Son Jesus Christ.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Saved from Wrath

From Blog08


Under wrath, condemned to death,
Dying with our ev'ry breath,
We were hateful, full of sin;
Fetid filth both out and in.
We had nothing to commend us;
We had no-one to defend us.
Though we claimed that all was well,
We were heading down to hell
When our savior intervened,
Paid our debt and washed and cleaned--
Dipped us in the purging flood
That came from his very blood;
Made us new, his holy bride;
Choice and welcome at his side.

Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.
--Romans 5:9, ESV

Friday, December 19, 2008

My Sin Gone?

I posted the following in a comment on Myra Johnson's excellent blog, Picture My Thoughts. This was a comment to her post "No Condemnation."

My sin all gone?
How can it be?
It stayed so long!
And now I'm free?

My sin? It's gone!
Christ died for me.
He'll lead me on
To victory.


..confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
--Philippians 1:6, NASB

Note: In re-posting the poem here, I revised one word.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Morning Prayer

From Blog08


LORD of all that ever was,
    Of all that is
        And of all that ever shall be,
Father, Son and Spirit,
    Ever three and ever one,
Rule in our lives this day.

Take each of us
    And all of us,
        Body soul and spirit,
    And use us for your glory.

May our lips be quick to praise you,
Our hands be quick to serve you,
Our hearts be quick to trust you
And our feet be quick to follow you,
That when evening comes
We may rest the rest of the faithful,
Not by the perfection of our works,
But by the depth of your grace.

Through Jesus your Son,
Amen

May the God who gives peace make you holy in every way. May he keep your whole being-spirit, soul, and body-blameless when our Lord Jesus Christ comes. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.
-1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, God's Word translation

Poem and photo ©2008 James L. Swindle

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Divine Appointment

From Blog08


My pastor's been challenging us for weeks to share the gospel with at least one person before Christmas. Yesterday I was at the gym in the shower. I prayed that the Lord would give me the ability to share the gospel with a man who'd spoken to me a couple of minutes earlier. When I got into the locker room and got some clothes on, he was still there. I spoke to him and quickly learned that he, too, was a Christian.

Another, younger man came in, steamy from the sauna. He was about 25 years old. He heard us talking of the Lord and started to ask us questions. First, he told us he'd never, ever been to church. He asked us whether if he died, he'd go to hell. He said he'd asked a lot of people that. We both told him, "If you believe in Jesus Christ, you'll go to heaven." He said nobody had ever told him that before. So, I did my best to tell him the gospel...forgetting some essential things, but still, the Lord was clearly there. The young man was very open to what we said, and was very honest about his reluctance to turn from his sin. I told him that he has a choice, and that the Lord commands him to believe. I told him that it's not just a matter of church, but invited him to church. Meanwhile, the other man was affirming what I said. It was a divine appointment.

Pray for this young man, that he will come to full faith in Jesus Christ.

Among the Dead

From Blog08


Father, all-alive,
    I walk among the living dead,
    The zombies of this world
    With souls alive but spirits dead.
    They follow pleasure for awhile,
    And pleasure serves them well
    Until it leaves them worn and dry,
    Trudging though a desert of sin,
    Climbing exhausting mountains--
    Deceptive mountains of self-actualization
    That lead to tar pits of despair
    And wildernesses of self-satisfaction.

    But your word can call the dead to life
    Can give the spirit bones and flesh
    And make it dance and sing for you.
    Release your word.
        Uncork our mouths.
            Unstick our tongues
    That words of life may flow out freely;
    That some now dead may live.


I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.

--Jesus, in Luke 5:32

NOTE: I've altered the face in the photo. Could the living dead person be your neighbor? Your friend? Your relative? You?
What if that person came alive spiritually?

Photo and poem ©2008 James L. Swindle

Monday, December 15, 2008

I Take This Leaf

From Blog08


Lord,
I take this leaf
By your leave,
Not to grieve summer gone,
But to tidy up the lawn.


For everything there is a season,
and a time for every matter under heaven.

--Ecclesiastes 3:1

Poem and photo ©2008 James L. Swindle

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Chorus - Christian poem

From Blog08


Angel chorus singing for us:
Peace, good will...
Then all is still.

Rush to find divine confined...
Flesh of God
Now on this sod.

Barn-born babe sweet-swaddled, stabled,
Light of world--
Bright burn in cave.


This will be the sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.

--Luke 2:12, HCSB

Poem and photo ©2008 James L. Swindle

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Snow!

We were delighted Wednesday (10 December, 2008) to have snow here in the Houston area. It was the heaviest snow we've had in the 14 years we've lived here.
From Blog08


From Blog08


From Blog08


From Blog08


Thank you, Lord, for the snow!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Blessing

From Blog08


As you trust in Jesus the Christ...

May your heart burn with His zeal.
May your eyes look with his insight.
May your hands touch with his love.
May your lips speak with his truth.
May your mind think with his wisdom.
May your ears hear with his grace.
May your feet go with his persistence.
May your spirit, soul and body be kept with his purity.
And may your life shine with his glory.

...may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
--1 Thessalonians 3:12-13, ESV

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

New Links

I've added a link on the right side to The Postman. It has solid Christian poems from a man in India who's a generation younger than I am. Also check our their church's web site, www.cfcindia.com. Under "Articles" I read the one on "My style of preaching." It's one of the best short summaries I've ever read concerning how to preach.

Poetry Where You Live is another link; poems by a lawyer in New Hampshire.

Prayer for Holiness

From Blog08


Holiness today--
For this, LORD, I pray.
Selfishness conceding,
My desires receding,
Each new action showing
Purity that's growing.
For this, LORD, I pray:
Holiness today.

For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. You shall not defile yourselves....
--Leviticus 11:44 ESV

Poem and photo ©2008 James L. Swindle

NOTE: Why do I copyright most of these poems? Not to keep people from using them, but so that if a publisher chooses to publish them some day, the publisher may have more of an expectation of making a profit. At this moment, if you want to print up to 100 copies of one of my poems for non-profit use, just include the copyright notice and "Used by permission." If you want to make other use of them, ask me first. Thanks.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Christmas Greeting

From Blog08


At this holy time of year,
May your heart be filled with cheer--
Not because your budget's right,
Nor because of twinkled light,
But because God's sent his son.
Sing his praise! Messiah's come!

...Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David.
--Luke 2:11, HCSB


I wrote this poem for our family's 2005 Christmas greeting. You're welcome to use it if you like. --Jim Swindle

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Too Busy



Lord,
I'm too busy today,
Too busy to pray...
Got so much to do!
I'll never get through.
Can't do this alone.
Whoops! There goes the phone.
I can't concentrate,
So, Lord, can you wait?
I want to know you,
But...so much to do!

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, He got up, went out, and made His way to a deserted place. And He was praying there.
--Mark 1:35 ESV

NOTE: This was written not as a prayer, but as a caricature. Too often my prayers (or non-prayers) have been too much like this poem. Today, before posting this, I'm praying that the Lord will use it to correct some of us. We have before us the amazing privilege of knowing and growing in our Savior.

Poem and photo ©2008 James L. Swindle

Friday, November 28, 2008

For Me

From Blog08


When you suffered on the tree,
Lord, you suffered there for me.
Holy flesh was pounded through
So that I could be made new.
Blood drops falling, one by one,
Paid for things that I have done.
All your bones were out of joint;
My redemption was the point.
You hung there in agony
So that you could set me free.
Oh, my guilt was not alone;
All the world was in each moan.
Still, in hanging on the tree,
Lord, you suffered there for me.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
--1 Peter 2:24, ESV

Poem and photo ©2008 James L. Swindle

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Morning

From Blog08

Pumpkin pie baked to golden crust in well-used Pyrex
Turkey preparation
Autumn leaves of umber and gold and green and orange red
Prepare to slumber in the earth
Anticipation of family meal
A million things to thank God for...

And one hole in my heart
For the parting
  The slicing apart
  Of some of those whom I love.
Will we ever see them again?

And another hole in my heart
For the blindness
  The stubborn-mindedness
  Of others who have no use for my Lord.
Will they choose a hell instead of heaven?

Lord of all, have mercy.
I love your justice
And your provision
And I thank you for them,
But have mercy.


Poem ©2008 James L. Swindle

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Day Prayer

From Blog08


Thank you, God, for food to eat,
For folks we love, for friends we meet.
Thank you for the autumn trees,
Chrysanthemums and goose-drawn vees.
Thank you for this happy place,
And thank you most of all for grace
Through him who died and rose again
And now forever lives to save. Amen.

Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever.
--1 Chronicles 16:34 HCSB

Poem and photo ©2008 James L. Swindle
http://vineandfig.blogspot.com

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Culture and Church Music

I often hear people express the idea that if you think you need a certain style of worship, you're being selfish. They say that if you choose a church based on the style of worship, you're sinning. They tell you that church isn't about you; it's about the Lord...and then they proceed to assume that their own church offers a kind of worship that you should support.

Imagine for a moment that a whole bunch of new people move into your area. They are all Japanese. Over the years, your church gains a significant minority of Japanese people. You thank God. The worship services start to include some phrases in Japanese. You don't mind; you slowly learn some Japanese. Then imagine that you get to church one week and the entire service is in Japanese. The sermon is preached haltingly. A couple of days later, you ask the pastor what's going on. He explains that we need to encourage our Japanese people, so everything is going to be in Japanese for now. He tells you that worship isn't about you; it's about the Lord. Over the next few weeks, some of the others whose first language is English complain or leave or ask about putting some English back into the worship. They are told that things are going to stay as they are; that the church doesn't have anyone who can speak good enough English to lead part of the worship in English. When someone volunteers to help start an alternative worship service in his native English, he's told that the church doesn't have enough people to have two worship services. Now, what do you do? You can speak just enough Japanese to get by. You love your Japanese brothers and sisters, but find that you cannot whole-heartedly worship the Lord in Japanese, no matter how hard you try. Is it OK for you to look for another church?

Music is a language of the heart, just as words are. Over the years, I've learned more different cultures in music. I can worship the Lord in several of them, but not in all of them. I'm glad that my church uses some styles of music that I merely tolerate, since those styles speak to others, but I'd find it very difficult if we never used a style that hit my heart.

The Bible tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves. It tells us to make disciples of all nations. Paul said, "I have become all things to all men, that by all means I might save some." If we really love others as ourselves, in planning church music let's try to include styles that speak to those whom the Lord is sending our way. Let's also humbly admit that the styles we most love don't speak deeply to everyone, and that the styles we most dislike may be exactly what's needed to meet the heart-needs of others.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fearless



Lord, God, if I walk in fear,
I'm not walking in your love.
Perfect love casts out all fear;
Readies me for life above.

If your Spirit's changing me,
Making me all clean and pure,
In the judgment I'll go free.
Of this I can be quite sure.

Judgment day now holds no dread
Since I have been justified.
After I am lying dead,
With Christ I'll be glorified.

There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love.
--1 John 4:18 HCSB

Poem and photo ©2008 James L. Swindle

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Clean On the Outside

From Blog08


Deliver me from the evil
Of religion for show;
Of pesky piety
And veneer of holiness.
Fire me through with living truth
That will burn up my own reputation
So your image will shine through.

You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness.

--Matthew 23:26-27


NOTE: I realized lately that one form of legalism is judging people's Christianity by what kind of good works they do, instead of by whether and why they do good works. For example, some Christians are strong on helping those who come across their path, but never help those who are far away. Some Christians are the opposite. Some Christians campaign against abortion, but are have no concern about the environment. Others are the reverse. Some Christians are zealous for world missions but not compassionate to a fellow-believer who's in emotional pain. Some are the opposite. May we each follow the Lord so thoroughly that by his grace we'll do good, and do more good, and not condemn one another for doing good in different ways.


Poem and photo ©2008 James L. Swindle

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Cat

From Blog08


Softest fur,
Deep-down purr,
Sense of connection,
Warmest affection,
Yet--sometimes seen--
Killing machine.

The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent's food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain," says the LORD.
--Isaiah 65:25 ESV

We can easily forget how broken this world is and how great will be the final transformation.

Poem and photo ©2008 James L. Swindle

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Feet and Prayer

From Blog08


I've heard that we should
Put feet to our prayers.
That's good,
But I often find it easier
To work, to help, to speak,
Than to pray.

Lord, may I
Put prayers to my feet.

Pray constantly.
--1 Thessalonians 5:17

...be persistent in prayer.
--Romans 12:12

...pray at all times in the Spirit...
--Ephesians 6:18

Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it...
--Colossians 4:2

...be clear-headed and disciplined for prayer.
--1 Peter 4:7

Scriptures from HCSB. Photo and poem ©2008 James L. Swindle

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Best News Ever

Yesterday my wife and I visited a large shopping area full of small vendor booths. There were thousands of people there. The vendors offered some useful things--socks and belts and caps and shirts and food--but far too much of the place was given over to what's degraded and degrading. As we left, my wife said, "Well, you know you don't ever want to come here again." I replied, "No, I wouldn't want to come again except maybe to share the gospel. It could be a wonderful place to share the gospel."

I'm not much of an evangelist. I'm better at urging people to grow in the faith than at bringing them to the faith. But the gospel is still "the power of God for salvation to every one who believes" (Romans 1:16).

Maybe you're new to this blog, or just stopped by for the first time. Maybe you've been reading these posts for a long time. Either way, I'd hate for you to miss the transforming power of the Lord. In a quick summary, here's the good news:

1. The Lord God sent his unique Son Jesus to earth to show people the way and to die in the place of sinners. After dying, he rose from the dead, appeared to hundreds of people, then went up into heaven. (See 1 Corinthians 15:3-8)
2. You and I need someone to rescue us from God's judgment, because we've done wrong.
3. Jesus promised that whoever believes in him won't perish (that is, won't face condemnation and hell), but will have life forever. (See John 3:16)
4. God invites you and commands you to turn from your sins and to believe this good news.
5. Jesus promised that some day he will return to set up his kingdom; to reward his own and to punish all who do wrong.

Have you turned from your sin to Jesus? Do you trust him now? If not, don't wait another day. "Look, now is the accepted time. Look, today is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Duckling



Like a duckling with its mother
May I always follow you.
You will keep me safe and growing
As I paddle close to you.

I don't concern myself with things too lofty or too marvelous for me.
Instead, I have stilled and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother.
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.

--Psalm 131:1b-2


Photo and poem ©2008 James L. Swindle

Thursday, November 06, 2008

There's a Wisdom of the Ox

From Blog08


There's a wisdom of the ox,
A knowing in the donkey,
Even though he's called an ass.
The ox, the donkey: both will know
Who's their owner,
Who's the giver of their grass.

There's forgetting in the Christians,
Amnesia in the church,
Even though we're called the Lord's.
We forget our source of food,
Who's our owner,
Giver of both life and words.


Oxen know their owners,
and donkeys know where their masters feed them.
But Israel doesn't know its owner.
My people don't understand who feeds them.

--Isaiah 1:3, GOD'S WORD translation

Note: The photo is a bull, not an ox. I rarely see oxen or donkeys, but this fellow and his relatives live not far from me. For the difference between bulls and oxen, see this link.


Photo and poem ©2008 James L. Swindle

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Most Important Election

From Blog08


The most potent election,
The most vital selection.
Was not held this November.
No, before you remember
The Lord set apart
His own for his heart.
Now give ear to his voice
And confirm his own choice.
Turn now from all sin.
Trust Jesus. Begin
To serve him alone...
This King who's enthroned
And coming to reign.
All praise to His Name!


...he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will...
--Ephesians 1:4-5

Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure...
--2 Peter 1:10

Photo and poem ©2008 James L. Swindle

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Seeds

From Blog08


Night and day I plant some seeds.
Some are thoughts, and some are deeds.
Some are words you may have heard.
Each of them will reproduce
After its own type and use.
Jesus, Savior, intercede
That I may plant godly seed.

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
--Proverbs 4:23 ESV

A good man produces good things from his storeroom of good, and an evil man produces evil things from his storeroom of evil.
--Matthew 12:35 HCSB

Photo and poem ©2008 James L. Swindle

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Wrong God - Christian Poem



Your god, your trust, the one you made,
The one you serve and lift up high above yourself,
Is just a lie.

The living God exists; was never made
By human will or human hands or human tools.
He is the truth.

Which god, my friend, will you now choose to serve...
The one you made, the one reflecting you?
Or him who is the truth?

They are turned back and utterly put to shame,
who trust in carved idols,
who say to metal images, "You are our gods."

--Isaiah 42:17, ESV

For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the LORD made the heavens.
--Psalm 96:5, ESV

"Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, you survivors of the nations! They have no knowledge who carry about their wooden idols, and keep on praying to a god that cannot save. Declare and present your case; let them take counsel together! Who told this long ago? Who declared it of old? Was it not I, the LORD? And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me.
"Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other..."

--Isaiah 45:20-22, ESV

Photo and poem ©2008 James L. Swindle

Spiritual Maturity

A quote from my pastor's sermon last night (October 29, 2008):
Spiritual maturity is a divinely-given ability to see things as they really are.

In other words, the spiritually mature person is not deceived by the world; does not have separate mental categories for the Bible and reality. The mature person sees that the Bible is reality.


Those sermons are usually posted online within a few days after delivery.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Who Will You Be This Halloween?

From Blog08

There will be lots of costuming over the next few days. More important than the Halloween costumes are the "costumes" we wear every day. We try to look elegant or strong or beautiful or tough or prim or sexy. Yet, so often, what we try to portray doesn't fit our real nature any better than the outfit in the photo fits the nature of the one wearing it. We want to be Dorothy or the Wizard, but we're really more like Toto.

I no longer participate in Halloween, since I see it as more harmful than helpful, but too often I'm not all that I want people to think I am.

May this post serve as a simple reminder that we need integrity; our insides need to match our outsides, and vice-versa.


Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden [part] thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

--Psalm 51:6, KJV

Photo and poem ©2008 James L. Swindle

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Who Designed the Dew?

From Blog08


Who designed the jewels of the dew
That dress the grass dawn by dawn
More richly than a king?

Who spread out ten million droplets,
With each reflecting perfection?

Who made them round and bright
To glisten in the morning light,
Each fragile as a saint's last breath?

Who appointed their moisture
To freshen the thirsting plants?

Who is the Lord of the dew?
I'm not. My wife's not. Are you?
No. I think you know who.


Does the rain have a father? Who fathered the drops of dew?

--Job 38:28, HCSB


Photo and text ©2008 James L. Swindle

Friday, October 24, 2008

Prayer for Cleansing

From Blog08


Take my passion, sin and pride
To the cross where you, Lord, died.
Wash away each bloody stain.
Wash me in your cleansing rain.


For the grace of God has appeared, with salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age, while we wait for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for Himself a special people, eager to do good works.
--Titus 2:11-14 HCSB

Photo and poem (c)2008 James L. Swindle

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

To Walk By the Spirit

From Blog08

To walk by the Spirit--
Lord, that is my goal.
To follow your leading
And press toward the goal;
To love with your power,
To be pure within
Through your mighty cleansing
Abandoning sin.
Pursuing the holy
The pure and the good:
As you work within me,
What I never could.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you. You will be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth.
--Acts 1:8, WEB

I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
--Galatians 5:16, HCSB

Monday, October 20, 2008

I'm Not Fit

From Blog08


Holy God,

I'm not fit to come to you.
I have sinned and sinned again.
Every sin was fighting you.

I've looked back like Mrs. Lot,
Mimicking the ways of men,
Discontent with what I've got.

I've rebelled--yes, from the start,
Serving you yet tasting sin.
I've divided my own heart.

Free me from my selfish ways
May your Holy Spirit reign.
Free me, Lord, for your own praise.

Amen


Abstain from every form of evil.
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
Brothers, pray for us.


--1 Thessalonians 5:22-25, ESV

Note: The photo is posed, but I don't really deserve to be free, except for what Jesus has done and is doing in me. Do any of us?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Remind Us of the Christ...A Prayer

From Blog08


Remind us of the life of Christ--
Completely sinless, pure and clean
Our model with no guile, no vice,
The only one this earth has seen.

Remind us of the cross of Christ--
Where Jesus hung and bled and died
And paid for us the dreadful price
To make us, sinners, sanctified.

Remind us of the risen Christ--
Exalted high--Your joy, Your pride
Who will return for those born-twice
And with you, Father, we'll abide.


Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel...

--2 Timothy 2:8

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Dew of Your Presence

From Blog08


Father,
All thanks for
Fresh dew of your presence
Perfect, peaceful drink for our lives
Refreshing
Until an enthusiasm of joy
Bursts into bloom
    Jonquil yellow
    Or daisy
Thrusting happy, trusting petals--
Fullness of joy from fullness of you,
Brightness for all who near.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
--Psalm 16:11

Monday, October 13, 2008

Hurricane

From Blog08


The wild wind waited
'Til after midnight,
Then flew with a fury we'd never known.
Trees trembled, then waved, then danced wild dervishes
Until it seemed they'd pull apart.
Some did.
Ancient pines akimbo,
Falling fatally or not--
They cared not what
Might lie beneath.
When daylight came,
The wind still blew-
The trees still danced--
And yet we knew
The worst was past.
The fence was down, the power gone.
Debris was strewn across the lawn,
But we were safe! Another day!



Note: The photo was taken a month ago (13 September, 2008) from our back yard. It shows two large trees down. For one tree, all you can see is the green grass around the root ball jutting up. The other tree rests on a smashed shed.



Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand?

--Job 26:14, ESV

A Sermon on How to Treat Your Enemies

Last night our pastor preached an excellent sermon on how to treat your enemies. Much of it dealt with grudges. It's 49 minutes long, but worth the time, especially if you have a mental list of enemies.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Backward



Backward, backward in the faith,
Backward, backward, down toward death,
Heedless of their danger state:
Hell may take away their breath.

Sinning, sinning as they go,
Sinning, sinning their own way,
Still forgetting what they know
Until darkness swallows day.


They are called rejected silver, for the LORD has rejected them.
--Jeremiah 6:30, HCSB

For it is impossible to renew to repentance those who were once enlightened, who tasted the heavenly gift, became companions with the Holy Spirit, tasted God's good word and the powers of the coming age, and who have fallen away, because, to their own harm, they are recrucifying the Son of God and holding Him up to contempt.
--Hebrews 6:4-6 HCSB

And see that there isn't any immoral or irreverent person like Esau, who sold his birthright in exchange for one meal. For you know that later, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected because he didn't find any opportunity for repentance, though he sought it with tears.
--Hebrews 12:16, 17, HCSB

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Song of Praise

From Blog08


Your love astounds me.
Your grace surrounds me.
Nothing confounds me.
In you I'm free.

Trusting and growing,
But little knowing
All you'll be showing
Daily to me.

For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.
--Isaiah 55:9 HCSB

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Current Financial Crisis

Today's essay is totally different from what's usually on this blog. Feel free to skip it, if you wish, but I think you'll find it worth reading.

Here are a few thoughts on the current financial crisis.

• Our basic source of supply is the Lord. His promises are as good today as they were a month ago or a year ago.

• In the USA, the politicians acted like politicians, not statesmen:
o They didn’t ask the public to do anything in particular to improve the situation. They are hoping to “restore confidence” via the bailout bill, but they don’t say what that means in practical terms. What do they want the average man or woman to do? The politicians are willing to pass a bill that has a price tag of $17,000 per household, but they don’t even consider that several million people might also take action on their own, if the government told them what kind of action it wanted.
o Ms. Pelosi blamed the crisis on the Republicans. Some of the Republicans then refused to vote for the bill. If the bill was as essential to the national well-being as they said, the actions of both sides in that squabble were dangerously selfish and irresponsible.
o The final bill included all sorts of “pork.” Just why should extra funds for wooden arrows for youth, or special treatment of companies doing business in American Somoa, be a part of the bail-out? Any legislator who would vote for a $700 billion bill in order to get some funding for wooden arrows, is somewhere near treasonous. That’s the sort of greedy, me-first behavior that caused the crisis.

• None of the wealthy people have been donating money to the banks, saying that the banks deserve our charity.

• Much of the current crisis, just as much of the Enron crisis (I worked there for a few hours) and much of the Orange County, California, meltdown of the early 1990’s (I helped them track their investments) revolve around hiding risk. Organizations can often make huge profits by taking huge risks. They hide the risks, so that investors will think the huge profits come from superior knowledge. The eventual result is usually huge losses.

And no, I've never worked for a bank nor an investment house.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Resurrection Body

From Blog08


The bodies we have are the bodies we'll get,
Though they'll be transformed to what we've not seen yet.
They'll be re-assembled from ashes to bones,
Corpuscles springing from dust under stones,
Stomachs and livers and muscles with might,
Bones re-connected to dance in God's light.
Every detail renewed--us, the same,
Us, but transformed in Christ's powerful name.


Listen! I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed.

--1 Corinthians 15:51-52, HCSB

Note: For many centuries, the Church has taught "the resurrection of the body." In the USA these days, may seem to believe not in the resurrection of the body, but in some form of reincarnation. They don't believe that the dead bodies of believers will be resurrected. They believe dead Christians will receive entirely new bodies. However, the Bible teaches that the body that dies is the body that rises, yet it is transformed, as a seed is transformed when it sprouts.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Let Your Songs Be New

From Blog08


Let your songs be new
    And your praises bold.
You are coming to
    The great God of all.

He's the king of kings
    And the Lord of Lords
Yet he lets you sing.
    Come--take up his sword.

Speak his word! Sing praise
    And lift up a shout.
Serve him all your days
    He will lead you out.

Sing a new song to the LORD; sing to the LORD, all the earth.
--Psalm 96:1, HCSB

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Old Man's Song



My youth is gone. My work is done.
So much I toiled for, sun to sun,
Is fading with the afternoon.
The darkness will be coming soon.

And after that? New day, I trust,
And resurrection from the dust.


So remember your Creator in the days of your youth:

Before the days of adversity come,
and the years approach when you will say,
"I have no delight in them";
before the sun and the light are darkened,
and the moon and the stars,
and the clouds return after the rain....


--Ecclesiastes 12:1-2, HCSB

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Gossip

From Blog08


A shining pearl slips through my lips
But with it takes the dreadful snake.

It multiplies from ear to ear
And eats, like rust, all holy trust.

Whoever gossips gives away secrets, but whoever is trustworthy in spirit can keep a secret.
--Proverbs 11:13, GOD'S WORD version

Photo notes: I'm not sure what kind of eggs are in the photo. I came across them when moving a pile of bricks in our yard. Maybe they are from the slugs I saw. I also saw oriental cockroaches, toads, a tiny frog, a family of lizards, an earthworm and what appeared to be an albino cockroach, pure white. I was sorry to destroy most of their habitat, but needed to move the pile of bricks. (OK, I didn't mind destroying the habitat of the cockroaches, but felt sorry for most of the rest of them.)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Song of the Seeker



I do the seeking; he does the holding.
Slowly his perfect plan is unfolding.
He has redeemed me; saved my by grace
And through his keeping, I'll see his face.
My hold may weaken. My grip may fail,
But he who holds me still will prevail.

With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments.

--Psalm 119:10

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Contentment



The lust for things
So quickly springs
Into a heart
Not set apart
To God.

Yet all we own
Is mercy strown--
Not made for lust,
A sacred trust
From God.

"Keep yourselves free from the love of money."
--Hebrews 13:5

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Lessons from a Hurricane



Photo: Downed trees. The grass around one juts up sideways, clinging to the roots. The other leans on a shed that it crushed. The photo was taken from my yard, but I had no trees down, only a fence.

Hurricane Ike is past. Our nine days without electricity are over. (Thank you, Lord, for a generator that we could use for partial power.) Our house is OK. What have I learned from all of this? Here is some of it.

I learned how shallow my faith is. I didn't handle the hurricane well. I worried. I WORRIED. I forgot to lean on the rock. I worried before the storm. I worried during the storm. I worried after the storm. I was hit by doubts that scared me.

I learned how much I need the Lord's people. My faith feeds on the faith of others. The Bible mentions "not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." (Hebrews 10:25)

I learned how selfish I can be. Most of the time, I wanted to help my own family and didn't much care what was happening to others. When I did try to be useful to others, it brought me joy.

I learned what a blessing it is to relate to an adult child in a crisis. Our son was consistently a blessing to us.

I learned that when people are without electricity, a neighborhood is safer. With lots of neighbors outside much of the time, there wasn't really a need to be sure every door and window was locked when leaving for awhile.

I learned that the Lord is merciful in the midst of storms, and that when my faith is weak, his grip on me is still strong.

Monday, September 22, 2008

False Teachers Judged - Christian Poem



Teachers who tickle the ears
Packaging lies in the husk of the truth:
Glory to man...to their hearers
And most of all to their elegant selves...

Jesus will come and destroy
All of that heart-wicked, self-loving crowd:
Glory to God! Praise and joy
All to the One, the All-Holy, the Lord.



A time will come when people will not listen to accurate teachings. Instead, they will follow their own desires and surround themselves with teachers who tell them what they want to hear. People will refuse to listen to the truth and turn to myths.


2 Timothy 4:3-4

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Christian's Sign

From Blog08


What's my life's message say day after day?
Am I proclaiming Christ Jesus, the way?
Or am I empty, mere framework and noise,
Vacant and useless, distracted by toys?

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
--Matthew 5:16, NASB

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Taste the Lord!

From Blog08


Taste the Lord
Bursting flavor--precious savor--
Lips drip sweetness
Know His goodness

All his blessing
Broken bleeding
Given freely...
Come, drink deeply

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
--Psalm 34:8 ESV