Friday, January 30, 2009

Twine

From 01-09B


Sisal strands
    gruff, rough
Kissed and twisted
    and combined
        into twine.

No glamour here,
    but simplest utility
    has its nobility.

...If somebody overpowers one person, two can resist him.
A cord of three strands is not easily broken.

--Ecclesiastes 4:12

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Wrath Overcome

From Blog09


Sing praise to the LORD for anger diverted,
For wrath overcome, for sinners converted--
Salvation by faith in His self-giving Son;
Sing praise to the LORD for each new life begun.

Come--trust in the LORD. Approach without fear:
If you turn from all sin, He'll let you draw near.
With joy you will draw from salvation springs--
Fresh water of life that bubbles and sings.
Then you'll call for all to join you in praise
With thanks to the LORD, the Ancient of Days
Who's fresh as today, with mercies still new
For those who will trust, old sinners like you.


You will say in that day: "I will give thanks to you, O LORD, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, that you might comfort me.
"Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation."
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
And you will say in that day: "Give thanks to the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted.

--Isaiah 12:1-4, ESV

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Future

From Blog09


We know not what's ahead--
Not good at beyonding, futuring,
   Eyes short
   Ears din-dimmed
Imagination pre-shrunk, spun dry.

But stars leaf-like
   will
  fall,
A trumpet voice will call
And all the saints will rise--
Meet Jesus in the skies.

Eyes joy burn
Ears bright learn
   Praise, too.
   All's new.
God praised by every burning bush
And every dancing, clapping tree.


"Immediately after the misery of those days, the sun will turn dark, the moon will not give light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the universe will be shaken.
"Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky. All the people on earth will cry in agony when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds in the sky with power and great glory. He will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and from every direction under the sky, they will gather those whom God has chosen...."

--Matthew 24:29-31, God's Word translation

Poem and photo ©2009 James L. Swindle

Friday, January 23, 2009

If the Devil Spoke Honestly

From Blog09


I envy those who have no envy,
Resent those who never resent,
Am angry at those who can control their tempers,
And hate those who are full of love.

My highest value is myself,
My best blessing is a curse,
And my biggest accomplishment is destruction.

My glory is a stolen light,
My wisdom has a foolish twist,
My tender mercies torture,
My joy is causing pain.

I speak to deafen,
Breathe to extinguish,
And live to kill.

Come into my world
And see my wonders there.

Be sober! Be on the alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him, firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your brothers in the world.
--1 Peter 5:8-9 HCSB

This is how God's children--and the Devil's children--are made evident. Whoever does not do what is right is not of God, especially the one who does not love his brother.
--1 John 3:10 HCSB

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Take Us

From Blog09


Take our thoughts
    and train them in paths of truth and grace.
Take our wills
    and shape them into total, quick submission to you.
Take our emotions
    and let us feel for you.
Take us, Lord,
    for your glory.

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely. And may your spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.
--1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, HCSB

NOTE: In the original Greek, the words "you" and "your" in these verses are plural. That's clear in the Spanish translations, but not in the English ones.

©2009 James L. Swindle

Monday, January 19, 2009

Spring Comes Early

Spring comes early in the Houston area. Here are photos from the past few days. Most were taken yesterday (January 18, 2009) at the Mercer Arboretum. If you live in a cold climate, take heart. Spring will come.

From Blog09


From Blog09


From Blog09


From Blog09


From Blog09


As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night will not cease.
--Genesis 8:22 HCSB

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Easy Road

From Blog09


It seems we're always tempted to take the easy road.

We want to spread the gospel by means of bumper stickers.
We want to solve our financial needs by giving to someone who promises wealth in exchange for our gift to his ministry.
We want to solve relationship problems by making threats.
We want to grow the church by means of ads and gimmicks.


Yet Jesus consistently calls us to the hard road of faith plus obedience, of depending on the Holy Spirit's power, not our own, of living in purity, not sensuality. He calls. If we follow, we have fruit in this life (plus persecutions) and eternal blessing ahead.

Which road are you on at this moment?

Enter through the narrow gate because the gate and road that lead to destruction are wide. Many enter through the wide gate.
But the narrow gate and the road that lead to life are full of trouble. Only a few people find the narrow gate.
--Matthew 7:13-14, GW

Friday, January 16, 2009

Tracks

It was a Sunday morning. I was sneezing with a cold, so instead of sitting in a Sunday School class and exposing everyone, I took a walk to our nearby creek. I came across some bird tracks.
From Blog09

They were very LARGE bird tracks.
From Blog09

After some research, I've concluded that they were from a heron or an egret. Here's a photo of both kinds of bird, taken a few days earlier at a different location.
From Blog09

I'd never realized what large feet they have.

I suppose that, like the birds, some of us leave unexpectedly large tracks, for good or for ill (and I'm not just talking about a couple of my relatives who wear size 15 shoes). Which people have left behind large, wonderful tracks in your life?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Conscience

From Blog09


My conscience nags, accusing me
Of being what I shouldn't be.
It turns my thinking deep within
And emphasizes ev'ry sin--
Or else it says I'm pure and clear
And says there's nothing I should fear.
It serves a purpose, guiding me,
But must be trained so it can see
The way of truth, the path of light,
What's pure and holy in God's sight.

The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
--1 Timothy 1:5 ESV

But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
--Hebrews 5:14 ESV
Poem and photo ©2009 James L. Swindle

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Beauty All Around

From Blog09


There's beauty hiding all around
For those with open eyes to see
The wonder of creation's plan,
The whispers of eternity.

There's glory in a grain of sand
And wonder in a waving weed.
God's signature is quickly found
In every dandelion seed.

Then God said, "Let the earth produce vegetation: plants bearing seeds, each according to its own type, and fruit trees bearing fruit with seeds, each according to its own type." And so it was. The earth produced vegetation: plants bearing seeds, each according to its own type, and trees bearing fruit with seeds, each according to its own type. God saw that they were good.
--Genesis 1:11-12, GW

Note: I took this photo while on a mid-day walk in December. To get the photo, I had to lie down on the ground. The wetness from the grass soaked through my pants and my jacket and my shirt, but it was worth it.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Death

From Blog09


Death's ugly.
A pain, a gasp, then nothing...
Silence fills the room,
The body just a carcass,
No matter how rich
    Or pampered
        Or loved.

A sob of grief,
An aching heart,
An empty place in the family.

Ugly Death, you will not win!
You, Death, have been defanged.
These bodies,
    Newly dead or dried to dust,
Will truly rise again,
And those in Christ will reign with him
While Death's burned up eternally.

Jesus, you have died my death.
In you I live, and Death is not the end--
Because, of course, You win.

The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
1 Corinthians 15:26 ESV

Poem and photo ©2009 James L. Swindle

Thursday, January 08, 2009

God of Comfort

From Blog09


God of comfort and of peace,
In your presence worries cease.
You restore the broken soul;
Make the dead-and-rotten whole.

As we come before your throne,
You make all our cares your own;
Make our tattered spirits new,
Livened as we rest in you.


Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.

--2 Corinthians 1:3

Poem and photo ©2009 James L. Swindle

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Humble Pastor and the Proud Pastor

From Blog09

The humble pastor prefers that if his photo's used at all on church ads, it's small.
The proud pastor likes seeing his face on billboards.

The humble pastor is happy to disappear in a crowd.
The proud pastor needs to be the center of every group.

The humble pastor cringes if people speak of his church as "Pastor X's church."
The proud pastor loves it if he's better-known than his church.

The humble pastor spends much time in prayer, asking the Lord to use his efforts, knowing that apart from the Lord's blessing, he'll accomplish nothing.
The proud pastor spends much time on externals--clothing, hairstyle, cleverness of speech.

The humble pastor is delighted to invite a guest speaker who's a better preacher than he is himself.
The proud pastor wants to be sure that every guest speaker leaves the congregation wishing that they'd heard him instead.

The humble pastor wants to build a godly church, regardless of what other churches are doing.
The proud pastor wants to build the greatest church. He's always competing with others.

The humble pastor never brags about his schooling or his degrees or his famous friends.
The proud pastor loves to brag about his degrees. He cultivates and boasts of famous friends.

The humble pastor won't quote the Greek unless he knows there are people in the audience who will understand him.
The proud pastor loves to quote the Greek.

The humble pastor is reluctant to mention how many people hear his sermons or read his books.
The proud pastor boasts of his media coverage and his book sales.

The humble pastor dreams of seeing many people turned from sin to life and godliness.
The proud pastor dreams of bigger and bigger congregations and salaries.

God opposes the proud,
The self-made men
Who always win
And tell their deeds aloud.

God lifts up the humble,
The meekest men
Who seek to win
His praise without a stumble.

But He gives greater grace. Therefore He says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
--James 4:6 HCSB


©2009 James L. Swindle

Sickness

From Blog09


On Monday I stayed home with a cold; worked remotely for 4 hours. Then I ate. By that time, I was having chills. I found our very old thermometer. My fever went up to over 102 F (about 39.1 C). I tried everything we could think of: cool, damp cloths, medicine, a cool shower. I concluded that whatever happened, I was in the Lord's control. The fever went down some. By 5 PM I could sleep. Now it's 1 AM, and I'm feeling much better. Not well, but much better.

What have I learned or re-learned from this?

***Each day is a gift from the Lord.
***Life and health are fragile in the sense that they can end quickly.
***When sick, it's a real help to have family around.
***Health is a gift that we don't fully appreciate until it's missing for awhile.

Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began.
--Psalm 139:16 HCSB

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Trinity

From Blog08


One God, thrice holy,
Perfect in every way--
Ancient, eternal,
Fresh as tomorrow,
Blazing fire of purity--
You are all we worship.
Hallelujah!

...according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with his blood...
--1 Peter 1:2, WEB

Photo and poem ©2008 James L. Swindle

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year

From Blog08


In this year we know for sure:
All God's promises endure.
Come whatever joy or test,
Faith in him will still be best.
Guns and dollars all may fail,
But God's Spirit will prevail.
His own church will still remain,
Leaven this world can't contain,
Light the world cannot put out,
Truth unchanged by seas of doubt.

Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.
Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast.
By your appointment they stand this day, for all things are your servants.

--Psalm 119:89-91, ESV

Note: I don't recommend children being as close to fireworks as in this photo.

Photo and poem ©2009 James L. Swindle