Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Waiting

From Blog09


Lord, it's hard to simply wait,
Keeping still before your face
When my thoughts all seem to race.
Worry says, "What if God's late?"

Never, ever, are you late!
There's a purpose that you trace
Through the whole of time and space.
So, my Lord, please help me wait.

Therefore the Lord is waiting to show you mercy,
and is rising up to show you compassion,
for the Lord is a just God.
Happy are all who wait patiently for Him.

--Isaiah 30:18, HCSB

The photo is from decades ago. I wasn't the photographer.
Photo and poem ©2009 James L. Swindle. You may print up to 100 copies for non-commercial use so long as you include the copyright notice and don't change the text.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Frost

From Blog09

The frost settles silently during the night
Then shows all its glory in bright morning light
With intricate crystals all snowy or clear
That make things look magical even right here.
Enjoy it all quickly, this treasure of dawn
Before it all melts as the sun marches on.


He gives snow like wool; he scatters hoarfrost like ashes.

-Psalm 147:16 ESV
From Blog09


The photos are from December 5, 2009, after our area had snow and frost.
Photos and poem ©2009 James L. Swindle. You may print up to 100 copies for non-commercial use, so long as you include the copyright notice and don't change the text.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Carols

From Blog09

Christmas carols are a wonderful tradition and a way of keeping the truth alive from generation to generation. Here's a one-page sheet of standard carols that you can print and use as you wish. Maybe you and your family or friends would like to sing one or more this year as you celebrate.

Christmas Carols.pdf

Two A. M.

Two A.M., and the wind is rising,
Blowing in this Christmas Eve.
Still the air is balmy,
Warm as a summer dawn in Nebraska.
Colder is coming--
In minutes?
In hours?
A train whistle calls.

Two A.M., and the wind is rising.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Offended

From Blog09


My brother hurt me with his words
That sliced me like a power saw.
I hated him for what he said.
I quoted rules and law.
I hurt my Savior with my words
That smacked my brother in his face,
Yet Jesus spoke to me in love
And covered me with grace.
I couldn’t hate my brother still.
I cut his chains. I set him free.
I poured out on him words of life.
The Lord loved him through me.

But I tell you who hear:
    love your enemies,
    do good to those who hate you,
    bless those who curse you,
    and pray for those who mistreat you.
--Luke 6:27, 28

Poem ©2005 and photo ©2009 James L Swindle.
You may print up to 100 copies for non-commercial use, so long as you include the copyright notice and don't change the words.

NOTE: The photo is for illustration only. I don't know the man in the photo. He was part of a crowd that I photographed at an outdoor event.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Rush

From Blog09


Busy with our Christmas mirth--
Decorations, fests galore--
We don't hear of peace on earth
Nor forgiveness evermore.

Trapped within the Christmas rush--
Cards to send and gifts to buy--
We forget to feel the hush
After angels sing on high.

Listen to the shepherds run!
Feel the midnight air so raw
As they worship God's own Son.
Watch in wonder...Bow in awe.

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.
--Luke 2:15-16 ESV

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Lights of Twinkled Love

From Blog09

Lights of twinkled love
Still speak of marching grace
Wounded feet bleeding, pleading
Against the cold of frosted hearts
Grace relentless bringing warmest life
To melt men's -- women's -- ice
In a moment, a twinkling
Of bright love light


And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh...

--Ezekiel 11:19 ESV

Poem and photo ©2009 James L. Swindle
You may print up to 100 copies for non-profit use if you include the copyright notice and don't change the text.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Light

From Blog09

Lord,
You shined light one night
On my cold soul,
Made my heart start
With higher fire--
A place of grace.

They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”
--Luke 24:32 ESV

Monday, December 14, 2009

Animal Cracks

From Blog09


The elephant packed his trunk.
The cow was MOO-dy.
The cat cooked from scratch.
The monkey was hanging around.
The flea was feeling jumpy.
The butterfly was flighty.
The duck quacked a joke,
But the lion was the mane attraction.

NOTE: I probably borrowed most of this post from others. Feel free to use it in any way.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Simple Bible Study Method

Here's a Bible study method that's so simple you can teach it to almost anyone in a few minutes. It works for individual and group study. It works for almost any part of the Bible. It's a distillation of inductive study.

Ask the Lord to guide you. Read a passage. Then...

LOOK: What does the passage say?
INTERPRET: What does it mean, in context?
APPLY: What does it mean to us/to me?
LIVE: Speak to the Lord--What shall we/I do about this?

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Christmas Tree

From Blog09


A tree--a simple pine--
Is full of glow and shine,
All wrapped in Christmas lights
That speak of other sights:
The star of Bethlehem
And angels--crowds of them--
With news of joy and peace,
Of hope and full release
Through babe in cattle stall
Who's come to save us all
Who trust in his great Name
(We'll never be the same).
The tree's a simple pine,
But whispers things divine.

And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.
--Luke 2:9, ESV

Poem and photo ©2009 James L. Swindle. You may print up to 100 copies for non-commercial use so long as you include the copyright notice and don't alter the text.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

He Feeds Us

From Blog09


Lord, you provide for the bees and me,
Food for our living each day,
Strengthening us though we may not see
How you've sustained all our way.

And he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.
--Deuteronomy 26:9

Note: I'd taken this photo about a week ago. The poem was inspired by the post on Myra's blog about a similar photo.

Friday, December 04, 2009

The Promised One - A Christmas Hymn

From Blog09

Come and see the promised One,
Both of God and Man the Son;
Christ, for whom great kings did wait,
Now appears in lowly state.
He whom heaven’s hosts adored
Now becomes our infant Lord.

Born a prophet, he will show
Just the way that we should go.
Born a priest_, he will give
His own life so we can live.
Born a king_, he will reign
O’er the earth as his domain.

Come and see him now a man
Living out God’s perfect plan.
Hear him calling, “Leave your sin.
Come to Me and enter in.”
Lord, with all our hearts we come.
May your work in us be done.

Then, like Jesus, we will say
Words of life and truth today.
Then, like him, we’ll intercede
When we see someone in need.
Victors over Satan’s strife,
We, like Christ, will reign in life.


NOTE: I wrote this a number of years ago. If you wish, it can be sung to the tune "Dix." That's the tune usually used with "For the Beauty of the Earth" and "As With Gladness Men of Old." This particular poem is public domain, so you can use it any way you wish.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Cities

From Blog09


Our cities can be a beautiful thing and a wonderful thing. They represent cooperation and planning. The Bible begins with a garden and ends with a city.
Still, everything we see now will disappear. "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more." (Revelation 21:1)

Are our hopes and dreams all pinned to a city in this current world, or to the one that's to come?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Blow Yet More

From Blog09

Blow yet more, O wind of God.
Blow through barren lands
Where scarcely is your gospel known;
Where no one understands.

Blow yet more, O wind of God.
Blow through dusty souls
Where truth's forgotten, hatred's grown;
Where love is tired and cold.

Blow yet more, O wind of God.
Blow away the strife
That cripples churches of your own.
Yes, blow! Bring winds of life.

"The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit."
--Jesus, in John 3:8 NKJV

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Brothers and Sisters

From Blog09


Hair of black wool or golden flax,
Eating salsa or kimchi or kraut,
Kilt or business suit,
Palace or hut,
Farm or office or factory--
These are lesser things.

Child of God or of Satan,
Reborn or still dead,
Forgiven or guilty,
Pure or polluted,
Serving God or serving self--
These are greater things.

Thank you, Lord, for brothers and sisters
Of every nation and tribe and people.
Thank you for your creativity and for their diversity
And for opening my eyes to see all of this.

And they sang a new song with these words: "You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were killed, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation..."
--Revelation 5:9, NLT


From Blog09

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Thanksgiving Prayer

From Blog09

We thank you for the food we eat
And for each loved one whom we meet.
We thank you for our families,
Both born and blended by degrees.
We thank you for the work we do,
And for your mercies, ever-new.
We thank you for your word, still true,
But thank you most of all for You.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
--James 1:17 ESV

Poem ©2005 James L. Swindle

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?



I saw this video on Craig's blog. It's well worth your time. (Incidentally, the speaker is pastor at a church in my town, but I don't think I'd never heard him speak until on this video.)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Surprise Visitor

Our son, who was upstairs, called down to me. He told me to bring my camera and come up to the bathroom. He pointed to the shower curtain rod. On the rod was this tree frog.
From Blog09


I took photos of it and soon moved it to a bush outdoors. I'm not sure of any great spiritual lesson here, other than the lesson that Proverbs gives about things that are small but wise. Proverbs doesn't mention the frog there, but it mentions the lizard. "The lizard you may grasp with the hands, Yet it is in kings' palaces." (Proverbs 30:28) I'm still not sure how the frog found its way into the house and onto the shower curtain rod.

I'm glad the Lord has such delightful surprises for us, but I wouldn't like to experience a plague of frogs such as the Lord sent on the Egyptians (See Exodus 8.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Years

From Blog09

The years
    dry leaves
blow by and disappear
    into the compost
    of faded glory
but fertilize
    next spring's dreams--
    dreams now still acorns
of the mighty oaks
in the forest of God's providence

So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.
--Psalm 90:12, NKJV

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Finding Home

From Blog09


I sometimes feel so all alone
With tasks that never end--
Forever running, never home,
No rest. I can't unbend.

But Jesus is my rest, my home,
My place of all the best
Where I am loved and known.
In him, then, I will rest.

Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest."
--Matthew 11:28 NLT

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Don't Lose the Wonder

From Blog09


Jesus said we must come to him like little children. Let's not forget how to marvel at his creation, at his salvation, and at Jesus himself.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Bearing God's Image

In a recent online sermon, Darrin Trammell spoke of various ways in which we bear God's image (Genesis 1:27). Here's an excerpt that struck me.

We bear the image of God in that we were created to rule. God told Adam and Eve to have dominion over the world. He gave them the power and the ability to rule over it. Think about it, before the fall all of nature was under Adam’s rule. The animals obeyed his voice. He was the king of the earth. But when he rebelled against God, nature rebelled against him and has been in rebellion ever since.

Friday, November 06, 2009

My Pleasure

From Blog09


Be my pleasure, Lord,
My joy, my great reward.
Deliver me from lesser things.
Reshape me so that my heart sings
(Happy, holy, new)
Only, Lord, of you.

Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

--Psalm 37:4

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

--Philippians 4:4

Monday, November 02, 2009

Thunderstorm

From Blog09


Black as day
Flash of light
Thunder crash
Scattered drops
Wind goes wild
Deluge drench
Trees bow thanks
Wave and dance
All is well
Sun returns

The clouds poured out water; the skies thundered; your arrows flashed on every side.
--Psalm 77:17 NRSV

Friday, October 30, 2009

Saved

From Blog09


Fresh mesh
Of God and flesh--
Ancient plan
To save a man
From force
Of sin's foul course.
New you
(The old won't do).


So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away – look, what is new has come!
--2 Corinthians 5:17 NET

Poem and photo ©2009 James L. Swindle.
You may print up to 100 copies so long as you
--Don't change the text
--Include the copyright notice
--Don't sell them

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lord of the Flies

From Blog09

The Lord of the flies
      And of all man's lies
Despises the truth
      And the fresh of youth.
He comes just to kill,
      So to eat his fill
'Til Christ in a flash
      Will throw him in trash
Where flames will burn on
      'Til forever's gone.

But when the Pharisees heard {this,} they said, "This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons."
--Matthew 12:24

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have {it} abundantly.
--Jesus, in John 10:10

And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
--Revelation 20:10

Poem and photo ©2009 James L. Swindle; may be used on my usual generous terms (see earlier posts).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Prayer of Repentance

From Blog09


Father,

Do I love my sin more than I hate it?  
Do I love my sin more than I love you?  
Have mercy!  
Grant me deeper, truer repentance.  
Grant me higher, more faithful love for you.  
I confess that my willpower is not enough.  
Change my heart.  
Enable me to fix my eyes and my whole heart  
      On heavenly things.  
May I obey you in the very small things,  
So that I'll obey you in the big things.  
By your grace and your promises and your Spirit,  
      I know it's possible.  
Don't let me settle for less,  
Because that would dishonor you.  
Glorify yourself by transforming me  
More completely,  
Whatever the cost to me--  
For you've already paid the ultimate price  
In Jesus.  
                              Amen.

He [Jesus] is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.
--Acts 5:31 NASB

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Searching for a Pastor

From Blog09


I'm blessed to be in a church which has had the same godly pastor for over a decade, but know of another church where the people suddenly find themselves without a pastor. What should they do? I've spent over fifty years in churches where the congregation or some sub-part of it chooses the pastor. Here's a distillation of what I've learned from seeing that process succeed and from seeing it fail. If you find it helpful, feel free to link to it or to reprint it.
_____________________________________________________________
Searching for a Pastor

For a church, having the right pastor is one of the Lord's most precious blessings. Having the wrong pastor can almost be worse than closing up. In a congregational form of church government, how should a church find a pastor?

By Depending on the Lord.

All of the best methods and search tools and consultants won't do as much good as simply trusting the Lord to send the right man. He's able to make the church willing to have the man and the man willing to have the church. He's able to bring them together. Depend on him. See Proverbs 16:3

By Repentance.

When we turn from our own sins and from our own stubbornness and our own selfness and pride and immorality, we become people whom the Lord can guide more easily. We also become the kind of people whom a faithful pastor would love to shepherd. See Hebrews 13:17

By Prayer.

The Lord is pleased to answer his people's prayers that he send workers into the harvest fields. He can move hearts. Prayer is more urgent than starting the search process. See Luke 10:2

By Knowing What a Real Pastor Looks Like.

A real pastor may or may not be young and handsome and charming with excellent manners and a compelling way of speaking. He may or may not have completed seminary training. He may or may not have a "successful" track record at other churches. Jonathan Edwards lived in the 1700's in Massachusetts. He is remembered as one of the most outstanding and faithful pastors that America ever produced, but the church where he was pastor the longest voted overwhelmingly to fire him. He continued faithful work at another church. To find out what a real pastor is like, read Paul's letters in the New Testament, especially those to Timothy and to Titus. See also Acts 6:2

By Welcoming the Man the Lord Sends.

He may not look very pastoral at all, and he may or may not arrive by expected means. He may just show up as a visitor at church some Sunday. Don't accept just anyone who arrives by such unexpected means, but don't reject God's man just because he arrived in an odd way. I was in a church one Sunday when the interim pastor asked a visiting Bible college student to give a testimony. That visitor spoke. He ended up being the pastor there for several years. In another church there was an urgent need for a music pastor. One of the members took on the task temporarily in addition to his regular full-time job. The church then hired a very polished fellow for the job. That man lasted about 6 weeks and left under a moral cloud. A few weeks later, the pastor announced that the man who'd done the job on a temporary basis was resigning his other job so he could be the full-time pastor of music and worship. The grateful congregation stood and applauded. The new music pastor is now in a different church but is still a faithful music pastor, nearly two decades later. See Hebrews 13:17; 1 Corinthians 16:10

By Seeking Godly, Wise Counsel.

Notice that the counsel should be both wise and godly. Some people (even some denominational leaders) have practical wisdom but lack godliness. Others are godly, but may not yet be very wise. That wise, godly counsel may come from inside or outside your own church; it may come from inside or outside your own denomination. See Proverbs 15:22; Psalm 1:1-3

By Listening to the Spirit.

If you're not at peace with the possibility of a certain person becoming the pastor, say so plainly before the decision is made. I once voted for a pastoral candidate even though I had mixed feelings and my wife thought he was the wrong man. He came. Eventually that pastor said, "If I'd known how much pain my coming here would cause, I never would have come." He was, indeed, the wrong man for that particular church. Once the decision is made, however, be careful not to cause divisions. See Jeremiah 7:23; Ephesians 4:15; Colossians 3:15

By Being Patient.

It's far better to wait for a year or two than to rush into accepting just anyone who comes along. See 1 Samuel 13:8-14

By Wanting the Lord's Glory, Not Yours.

The church will never again be "like it used to be" when pastor so-and-so was here. Each pastor's gifts are unique. A new man's style will sometimes grate on you. Still, you want a man whose passion is for the Lord's glory, not to build a huge congregation by being trendy. See Psalm 115:1

By Being Confident.

You can have full confidence that if you, as a church, sincerely seek God's man in God's way with faith, the Lord won't let you down. Decades from now, you or your children or people you don't yet know will be looking back, thankful for your faithfulness in seeking to find God's man for your church. See Isaiah 49:23

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Transcendence and Immanence

From Blog09


Fully holy, fully pure,
Greater far than we can see,
Owning all eternity,
He is Lord, forever Lord,
Matchless in his majesty.

Yet he deigns to come to us
Showing us our depth of sin
Matched by grace in human skin:
Jesus--Lord, our saving Lord,
Sacrificed--we're pure within!

From Isaiah 6--
In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple.

Isaiah saw his own uncleanness and was terrified. Then a seraph came with a coal from the altar.

He touched my mouth with it and said, "Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven."

Friday, October 09, 2009

In Fads We Trust?

I'm old enough to remember when people thought the most important thing about a Bible was reading God's word inside it. Today, the people who publish Bibles seem to have a different idea.

LifeWay advertises a Bible bound in brown and pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Zondervan puts out a Bible that's carbon-neutral. (Do we really think that we'll save the planet by buying greener Bibles?) Thomas Nelson has announced that it will no longer make Bibles with petroleum-based covers. Here are more Bible ideas that seem to say that the power is in the packaging and the marketing, not in the Lord:

The NIV True Images Bible for Teen Girls.
Publisher's Synopsis:
Page edges of Bibles: they can be plain, gilded, or stained. But printed? Yes, this edition of the bestselling True Images Bible has page edges that are actually printed with a youthful, contemporary paisley design in colors that coordinate with its trendy Italian Duo-Tone™ binding. It’s a look that’s sure to appeal to the young teen who wants a Bible that speaks to her in a unique design that fits her lifestyle.

The Bug Collection Bible - Dragonfly
Publisher's Synopsis:
Perfect for people on the go, these Bibles contain the full text of the bestselling New International Version in a compact size, complete with a cute bug design on the cover.

NIV Bible Across America
Publisher's Synopsis:
A one-of-a-kind handwritten NIV Bible displaying an enduring commitment to make God’s Word more accessible and more relevant to more people everywhere. The NIV Bible Across America is a complete Bible handwritten by over 31,000 people from all walks of life and from all over the USA.

Armor of God Bible
Publisher's Synopsis:
Based on the famous “Armor of God” passage from Ephesians 6:10-21, this NIV themed backpack Bible includes 12 full-color, illustrated tip-in pages that will help boys ages 6-9 understand what each piece of armor stands for when it comes to faith...

Wild About Horses Bible
Publisher's Synopsis:
What girl doesn’t love horses? Filled with beautiful features and photographs, horse lovers will be inspired by this NIV Bible.

Soul Surfer Bible
With Bethany Hamilton

Publisher's Synopsis:
Glitter Wave. Bethany Hamilton, a rising star in the surfing world, is an inspiring teenager with a heart for Jesus Christ. This Bible contains 12 full-color tip-ins that will help teens apply Bethany's mission to their own lives.

You can also get The Way for Cowboys or the
NIV Peacemakers New Testament (for law enforcement officers) or The American Patriot's Bible. You can get the Archeology Study Bible, a Devotional Bible for Couples. If none of those suit your fancy, try a Bible for fire-fighters, a New Testament for women with crisis pregnancies, a New Testament for baseball players....

You get the idea.

I'm wondering whether someone will put out a left-handed knitter's study Bible for my wife. (If so, she'd have the sense to be horrified.)

Where's the line between making a Bible that's appropriate for a culture, and trusting in the packaging instead of in the Lord and his word? I'm not sure, but I'm pretty sure that some of these publishers have crossed that line to the wrong side.

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
--Hebrews 4:12 NASB

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Lies and Truth

From Blog09


Today, many people are making a god of ecology. They're more certain about global warming than about the Creator. They serve a god that demands the destruction of people in the name of nature. Their righteousness is the externals of what they wear instead of the internal matter of the heart.

Others make a god of right-wing values; of tight borders and low taxes and guns and militarism. They want to save the world by walling off anything that doesn't fit their breed of Americanism. Their righteousness is language and culture and money, not a heart devoted to the everlasting gospel of Jesus who saves people from every tribe and tongue and nation.

Do you serve your own god? Or do you serve Jesus who is the truth?

How sweet, how deadly are the lies
We fashion and believe.
We substitute them for the truth
We proudly won't receive.

And yet our lies will pass away
Like mist before the sun,
But God's great truth will yet stand firm
While endless ages run.

____________________________________

God’s anger is revealed from heaven against every ungodly and immoral thing people do as they try to suppress the truth by their immoral living. What can be known about God is clear to them because he has made it clear to them. From the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly observed in what he made. As a result, people have no excuse. They knew God but did not praise and thank him for being God. Instead, their thoughts were pointless, and their misguided minds were plunged into darkness. While claiming to be wise, they became fools. They exchanged the glory of the immortal God for statues that looked like mortal humans, birds, animals, and snakes.
--Romans 1:18-23, GOD'S WORD translation (emphasis added)

Friday, October 02, 2009

Why I Haven't Posted Much...

Our family's main computer will not boot into Windows. That's the computer where my photos are stored and where almost everything else is stored. I'm trying to back up files online and then will probably need to try to restore it to factory settings and re-load everything. All of that's a great pain, but...
I have food.
I have shelter.
I have clothing.
I have the Lord himself and his promises.
I have family and church family.

In short, I'm richly blessed.

--Jim

Sharp Truth

From Blog09


The truth is narrow, hard, sharp.
It slices through the nicest lies.
It hurts as it heals.
It flays as it frees.
The truth separates us
    From our sin,
    From our pride,
    From our friends and our families.

The truth's not comfortable.
It's a surgeon's scalpel.
It's sandpaper.
It's lye.
It calls us to change into
    Conformity with God's image.

If you want easy,
You don't want truth!
But truth--sharp truth--
    Frees
    And enlightens
    And leads to life forever in Jesus,
Who is the Truth.

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
--John 8:31-32

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
--John 14:6

..Truth is in Jesus.
--Ephesians 4:21
________________________________
Poem ©2009 James L. Swindle.
You may print up to 100 copies if you follow three rules:
*Include the copyright notice
*Don't sell them
*Don't alter the text

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fishing

From Blog09


Day by day
And night by night
You bring them near to us...
Unsuspecting, unaware,
Drawn to light but fleeing Light.

You've given us our fishing gear:
The boat of your church,
The oars of your love,
The bait of our testimony,
The net of your word,
And we must fish.

Other fishermen catch live fish
And leave them dead,
But we catch dead men
And leave them alive.

What grace, what love toward us,
To make us your fishers of men!


"Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."

--Jesus, in Matthew 4:19

________________________________
Poem ©2009 James L. Swindle.
You may print up to 100 copies if you follow three rules:
*Include the copyright notice
*Don't sell them
*Don't alter the text

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Aging

From Blog09


Lord,
Let me age gracefully--
Not with sad resignation
That gives up too early,
Nor with dyes and face-lifts
That pretend I'm 25,
But with honest lines
And sturdy gaze
And joyful expectation
Of eternity with you--
My body raised, revised
And clothed in latest holiness
Of your design,
Knowing you fully at last.

Dear friends, now we are God's children. What we will be isn't completely clear yet. We do know that when Christ appears we will be like him because we will see him as he is. So all people who have this confidence in Christ keep themselves pure, as Christ is pure.
--1 John 3:2-3, God's Word translation

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I Need the Word

From Blog09

When Satan tempts--
My thoughts unkempt--
Deception's song
Calls loud, blares strong--
I need the word--
The sword I've heard--
To shine God's light
To put to flight
The devil's lies
And thus be wise.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your heart to the Lord.
--Colossians 3:16, World English Bible


Photo and poem ©2009 James L. Swindle. You may print up to 100 copies, so long as you include the copyright notice, you don't alter the text, and you don't sell them.

Monday, September 14, 2009

More

From Blog09


Father, may I love you more--
    More than all my sin,
For I know my failing score;
    Need your power within.

Jesus, may I love you more--
    More than all beside,
For you are the Kingdom's door;
    You for me have died.

Spirit, may I love you more--
    More than self or health,
For you've opened up the store
    To all heaven's wealth.

Holy God, great Three-in-One,
    All! Take all of me,
And I know you have begun:
    You're the only good I see.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
--Ezekiel 36:26 ESV

Photo and poem ©2009 James L. Swindle. You may print up to 100 copies, so long as you include the copyright notice, you don't alter the text, and you don't sell them.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Where's My Home?

From Blog09


No matter where I roam,
Nor what my riches are,
This world is not my home.
No, mine is greater far.

In heaven I belong.
Though I'm still living here,
I know it won't be long:
My Savior will appear.

The dead in Christ will rise
To meet him in the air--
I'll join him in the skies.
What joy in meeting there!

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ...
--Philippians 3:20, ESV

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

He Thunders in the Silence

From Blog09


He thunders in the silence
      of a child's calm sleep
      when fever breaks
and in the quiet of a peaceful Sabbath morning.

He roars in the pause before a baby's first gasp
And sings in the relief
      when cancer's gone
      or when the righteous is acquitted.

He shouts silently
      day by day
      and night by night.
He is near.
Do you hear?


From the creation of the world His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what He has made...

--Romans 1:20, HCSB


The idea for this poem came from Myra's blog.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Foods and Other Strange Teachings

From Blog09

I like food. Food is a gift from the Lord...yet food cannot make me holy. If I eat only organic food, or eat only kosher food, or eat only local food, I won't be one bit more holy than if I eat a bacon cheeseburger at McDonald's. I may be more healthy, but I won't be more holy. Yet there are people who make following such rules a major part of their morality.

People follow other strange teachings. I met a lady who thought that the best way to understand the Bible was to read it backward: start at the back; read the last page, then the previous page, and so on. There are people who think you cannot worship properly without an organ. There are people who think you cannot worship properly with an organ. There are people who think the essence of Christianity is taking lots of airplane trips to distant places to tell people that they should conserve energy. I met two young men who seemed to think they were more holy because they read only a "good cleaned-out King James Bible" with no notes. There are people who think they should do "temple work" to save their ancestors.

All of these are missing the point: Holiness is in the Lord. He can make us holy; we can sanctify ourselves (set ourselves apart as holy) to him. All of the strange teachings and rules of men won't make us any more holy. They will only make us odd and enslave us.

Are you holy? If so, how? By following strange teachings? Or by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The Real Jesus

From Blog09


Give me no garage-sale Jesus,
    Pasted onto kitsch
    That matches my decor.
Give me the real Jesus--
    God and sweat,
    Mercy and fire.

Give me no corporation Jesus,
    Carefully groomed,
    Packaged in hypo-allergenic plastic.
Give me the real Jesus--
    God's pure image
    Dining with prostitutes.

Give me no philosophy-class Jesus,
    Limned in lofty phrases
    Signifying nothing.
Give me the real Jesus--
    Speaking God's deep truths
    In simple images.

Give me no politically-correct Jesus,
    Founded on fads,
    Sketchy on sin.
Give me the real Jesus--
    Convicted criminal
    Bearing my sin, not his.

Give me that Jesus, the real Jesus--
    Or no, don't.
    Already I'm his; he's mine.

Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
--John 14:6 HCSB

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
--Hebrews 13:8

Notes:
The photo is of a Bible from the year 1895. It's been re-bound and is still useful. How many science books of 1895 are still useful?
The phrase "garage-sale Jesus" is not original with me, but I found it striking.


Photo and poem ©2009 James L. Swindle. You may print up to 100 copies, provided that you include the copyright notice, you don't alter the text of the poem, and you don't sell them.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Washed

From Blog09


Your word, Lord, washes me
In ways I cannot see.
It flows within my soul
And makes my spirit whole.

It's such a freeing thing--
Lord, I rejoice and sing!
For all your wondrous ways,
Lord, I raise all my praise.

...Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her, to make her holy, cleansing her in the washing of water by the word.
--Ephesians 5:25-26, HCSB

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Keeper of Accounts

From Blog09

The Keeper of Accounts above,
The most-high blesséd God,
Assures me that he knows my ways
And loves me as his own.
I did not, could not, earn his love--
I earned disgrace and death--
And yet, for reasons I've not seen,
He loves me as his own.
He sacrificed his own dear Son
An offering for my sin,
Then raised him up that I might live
For endless years with him.

He offers you this very day
The love he's given me;
Commands you: Turn from sin to Christ.
You won't be turned away.
Your years of sinning all will melt
Like butter at his gaze.
His Holy Spirit will come in
And fill you, guide your ways.
Like me, you've earned disgrace and death.
Turn now! It's not too late.
Receive his goodness. Cast off sin
And live! Please do not wait!

You'll be amazed at love he gives,
This blesséd, burning God.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God's power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. For in it God's righteousness is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith. For God's wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth, since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them.
--Romans 1:16-19 HCSB

Poem and photo ©2009 James L. Swindle. You may print up to 100 copies, so long as you don't change the text, you include the copyright notice, and you don't sell them.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

If Your Eye Is Good

From Blog09


It's interesting that the idea of having a "bad eye" may have referred to being stingy. The "good eye" may have referred to being generous. Generosity helps the whole person of the giver.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hazel's Zinnias

From Blog09


Hazel's zinnias,
      pink as a baby's giggles,
Take me back in time
      jumping decades
To church meetings in Kansas
      where nothing much bloomed in mid-summers
      but zinnias and sunflowers and petunias.
I see the worn wood floors,
      my child-sized necktie
            royal blue satin with a cartoon character
            strung with an elastic band that's hidden by my collar,
      The ladies' sun dresses
      and an old farmer's neck in front of me,
      sun-dried brown leather furrows.

Amazing, the power of a vase of zinnias.

So remember your Creator in the days of your youth
--Ecclesiastes 12:1, HCSB

©2009 James L. Swindle.

I took the photo in Old Town Spring, Texas, in a shop called The Shabby Rose. I've come to know and to respect Hazel, the proprietor. The Lord's love shines through her.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Fire

From Blog09

I've stood and watched a building burn
With flames so hot they melted steel
And called us all from miles around
To stare in horror and in awe.

I've watched a wildfire burn the hills
Advancing quickly mile by mile
Until the ancient trees were gone,
Reduced to charcoal or to ash.

God's fire is coming on the earth
To test the nature of our works
That we have built on Jesus Christ.
Lord, give us works that will survive.

...Each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.
--1 Corinthians 3:13, ESV

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Blood of Hope

From Blog09


Blood of Jesus, life of God,
Cleansing, freshing, flowing flood,
Gives us daily spirit health,
Hope of heaven-stored-up wealth.

Much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from wrath.
--Romans 5:9, HCSB

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Dangerous Woman

From Blog09


Discarded men,
Like broken toys,
Are scattered on her bitter path.
She prays the next one
Will be a keeper
And prays she'll find him
Before her glamor's gone.
It already takes her
Twice as long to look her best,
With half the results.

She goes to church
And prays and preys.

She grabs him and kisses him and brazenly says to him, "I have some sacrificial meat. Today I kept my vows. That's why I came to meet you. Eagerly, I looked for you, and I've found you. I've made my bed, with colored sheets of Egyptian linen.
--Proverbs 7:13-16, God's Word translation

Note to those who aren't detail-oriented: The spelling of the last word of this poem is no accident.

Poem and photo ©2009 James L. Swindle. You may print up to 100 copies, so long as you don't change the text, you include the copyright notice, and you don't sell them.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Wedding

From Blog09


The Lord will claim his bride some day
All radiant, dressed in white
He'll take her with him, far away
To where all's pure and bright

They'll look with joy, locked eye-to-eye
Amazed at grace, not chance
And they will praise their God on high
As they begin to dance

"...Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure"-- for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb."

--Revelation 19:7-9a, ESV

Poem and photo ©2009 James L. Swindle. You may print up to 100 copies, so long as you don't change the text, you include the copyright notice, and you don't sell them.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Verse Card Maker

Here's an aid to Bible memory. The following web site lets you key in a list of verse references (short ranges are OK, too) and then creates a PDF file that you can print onto business-card paper.
http://www.mcscott.org/

Sunday, August 02, 2009

At Times I Serve a Wretched King

From 08-09

At times I serve a wretched king--
A raging tyrant with a heart of stone,
A man whose dearest thoughts are for himself:
The things he wants, the fun he'll feel,
The ways he'll shape his entire world
To satisfy his pampered soul.
He's his own hero and his god.
All else exists for him, just him.
At times I serve a wretched king:
At times I serve and love myself.


He said to all, "If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me."

--Luke 9:23, World English Bible

Note: The real Christian truly has a new nature; a soft, living heart instead of the stony heart he had before. Yet that old nature remains with us in this life, and the old nature seems never to improve. We improve only by rejecting the old nature's wants and desires and by following Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Poem and photo ©2009 James L. Swindle. You may print up to 100 copies, so long as you don't change the text, you include the copyright notice, and you don't sell them.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

In Sickness and in Health

I saw my friends, whom I'll call the Smiths, this weekend. Mrs. Smith, elegant as ever, told me that they'd just celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary. Mr. Smith is one of the most cheerful people I know, full of the love of the Lord. He's also been in nursing homes for between a third and half of their married life.

Marriage isn't about staying together as long as it's convenient for both of you. Marriage is for keeps.

So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, man must not separate.
--Matthew 19:6 HCSB

Saturday, July 25, 2009

All Your Life

From Blog09


Praise the Savior in your youth
While you have the chance.
Celebrate his grace and truth.
Clap! Rejoice and dance!

Serve the Savior when you're grown,
While you're working strong.
Work to make his glory known--
Work! It won't be long.

Trust the Savior when you're old
While you still are here.
Then, when flesh lies dead and cold,
Life will still appear.

Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth...

--Ecclesiastes 12:1

Young men and maidens together, old men and children!
Let them praise the name of the LORD...

--Psalm 148:13-14

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Garden and City

From Blog09

Lord, you started us in a garden,
Planted in Eden,
Watered well, abundantly fruitful,
And something within me is refreshed
Every time I'm in a well-kept garden.

Yet you're aiming us for a city,
Walled and floored,
Watered well, abundantly fruitful,
And something within me longs deeply
For that holy city, New Jerusalem.

Lord, let me enjoy the gardens
And keep them
And tend them toward fruitfulness,
But prepare me for your city.
May I practice being an urban gardener for you.

I also saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.
--Revelation 21:2, HCSB

Poem and photo ©2009 James L. Swindle. You may print up to 100 copies with this notice, so long as you don't sell them, don't change the text and include this notice.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

More Than All

From Blog09


Here's a song for the Lord's Day.

More than all my needs,
More than all my tears,
More than all my griefs,
More than all my fears...

You, Lord, are strong.
You, Lord, are wise.
You, Lord, are good,
My only prize.

Not just for today,
Nor this week nor year;
Not just until death;
Eternally.

Surpassing time
And all I've seen
And all I've dreamed.
Lord, I praise you.

Blessed be the God and Father
of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ
with every spiritual blessing
in the heavenly places...

--Ephesians 1:3, ESV

Poem and photo ©2009 James L. Swindle. You may print up to 100 copies so long as you include this notice and don't sell them.