Sunday, March 29, 2009

Easter: Bunnies and Eggs, or Jesus?

From Blog09

The annual newspaper supplement full of Easter church ads was today. Some are fine, but some seem to have little to do with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus:
Good Friday - Fish Fry
Easter Vigil Saturday - Dyeing Party and Picnic for Children of all ages
A Rock Music Tribute to Jesus Christ...with food, trivia & prizes!
Candlelight Labyrinth
Easter Sunday -
FREE Cotton Candy for all!
Bunny Wonderland
Butterfly release and Easter Egg Hunt

Each of those lines is an actual line from a church ad. I suppose there's nothing specifically wrong with any of the things advertised, and each of them COULD be done to the glory of God, but something tells me that the churches are desperate to get people--ANY people--inside their doors. The back page of the supplement is a color ad for one of the largest churches. It tells me they've saved a seat for me. It tells me of their 17 services spread over 5 locations, but says nothing of Jesus.

The Apostle Paul said, "I delivered to you as of first importance that Christ died for our sins, that he was buried, that he was raised the third day according to the scriptures..." (1 Corinthians 15)

My friends, the world can do just as good a job as the church if what you're after is fish fries and cotton candy and eggstravaganzas. The uniqueness of the church is that it can present Jesus, the only Savior. If the church (the salt of the earth) loses its saltiness, it's no longer good for anything but to be trodden under foot.

Thank God for the faithful churcheb. Pray that more will see the sharp distinction between communicating to this culture and conforming to this culture.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Adam and Second Adam

From Blog09


Adam sinned,
Our family broke,
And we will die.

We've sinned, too.
We're all born dead,
The devil's seed.

Jesus obeyed,
Redeemed our souls
And brings us life.

He, second Adam,
Reversed the curse,
Healed our family--

Adam to Adam,
Garden to City,
Life to Life.

For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

--1 Corinthians 15:21-22 ESV

NOTE: Verse 22 can be taken in two ways.
1. It may mean that all who are in Adam die, and that all who are in Christ will be made alive.
2. It may mean that everyone dies physically as a result of Adam, and is resurrected physically (to blessing or cursing) as a result of Christ.

It should not be taken to mean that everyone on earth will become spiritually alive in Jesus. That would contradict a number of other Bible passages.


Poem and photo ©2009 James L. Swindle. Verse comments are public domain.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sky Slice

From Blog09

A slice of pie,
Of azure sky,
Served brilliant blue
And fresh for you--
Enjoy your fill!
There's lots more still.
It's more than nice,
This priceless slice.

...trust...in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.
--1 Timothy 6:17 KJV

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Weak Faith

From Blog09

My faith is weak. I don't know why--
But You I'll seek until I die.
You lead. You guide your sons along.
When we are weak, then you are strong.
So, if I'm weak, I will not care,
So long as you, My Lord, are there.


Then Jesus said to him, "'If You can?' Everything is possible to the one who believes."
Immediately the father of the boy cried out, "I do believe! Help my unbelief."

--Mark 9:23-24 ESV

NOTE: I wrote this awhile back, but it seems appropriate now. But I think I'm beginning to understand some of the reasons for the weakness of my faith. Every time I give in to superficial Christianity even for a moment, instead of living the real thing, that superficial Christianity saps my faith.

Poem and photo ©2009 James L. Swindle.
Non-profit printing of up to 100 copies is allowed, so far as the copyright notice is included.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

John the Baptizer

Rough of clothing, rough of food,
And so very rough of word--
Preparation of the nation
For both judgment and salvation:

    God's own kingdom coming near!
    Come repenting, come for washing.

    Go back home, you who are toying.
    Stay as snakes! Away from here!

But you humble who have stumbled,
Come for cleansing, 'til the number
Of your sins is zero, none!
Look! I see the Coming One!

So he began saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance...."
--Luke 3:7-8, NAS

NOTE: I've been attending a conference this week where Pastor Nicki Coertze of Christ Baptist Church in Polonkwane, South Africa, is speaking on John the Baptist. His sermons are a powerful challenge. Once the conference is over, I expect to have time to add photos to posts again.

Poem ©2009 James L. Swindle

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Art and Beauty

Many people have made an idol of art and beauty (or should I say of Art and Beauty?). They think people who love beauty must be beautiful people. That's wrong, of course. Hitler loved beautiful Aryan faces. A princess who was famous for her beauty reportedly got an abortion in order to protect her figure. Many beautiful art works and gems have been stolen repeatedly.

Yet there's a place for beauty. Beauty is often all around us, if we can only see it. All beauty should drive us back to the Giver of beauty, to the Creator of all, and to Jesus who sustains it all.

Beauty can speak to us of order. Here are some disposable stirrers for coffee.
From Blog09

It can speak of mystery, like this cat's eye.
From Blog09

Beauty can remind us of hope, like this fig tree.
From Blog09

It can be a delicately feminine flower...
From Blog09

or manly construction workers (as reflected in another building).
From Blog09

It can be an energetic bluebird
From Blog09

or a tired wedding couple.
From Blog09

Sometimes it's fleeting as a spurt of water.
From Blog09

Other times it's held its ground for years.
From Blog09

Look for beauty today, and thank God for it.
From Blog09

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What Did I Give Up?

From Blog09

The Postman has a wonderful new poem titled "Follow or Forsake?". I urge you to read it.

My response:

Lord, what did I give up for you?
Everything I hoped to do.
Lord, what did I get back from you?
Everything--and also You.


I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ and be found in Him...

--from Philippians 3:8-9, HCSB

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Spider's Web

From Blog09

The spider spreads its web wide
    And catches insects unaware
        Who didn't know the web was there.
It traps them,
    Stuns them,
        And sucks out their insides.

Old Satan spreads his web wide
    And catches people unaware
        Who didn't know his web was there.
He traps them,
    Stuns them,
        And sucks out their souls.

Beware, both moth and fly!

Beware, both you and I!


Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve.
--Luke 22:3, ESV

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he [Jesus] himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil...
--Hebrews 2:14, ESV

He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.
--2 Corinthians 1:10, ESV

Poem and photo ©2009 James L. Swindle

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Rainbow

From Blog09

Painted promise
    ...crown of sky
Sureness of a sovereign plan--
Not by water shall all die.
Freshly ancient pledge to man,
Lasting long as earth shall stand.

I have placed My bow in the clouds, and it will be a sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.
--Genesis 9:13 HCSB

NOTE: I corrected the fourth line; I'd left out a word when I originally posted this.

Poem and photo ©2009 James L. Swindle

Friday, March 06, 2009

Online ESV Study Bible - Free trial

The ESV Study Bible is available online for free trial during this month of March. It contains over 200 color maps, 20,000 notes, 200 charts and 40 drawings of such things as the known buildings of the city of Corinth in Paul's day. The general editor for the New Testament section, Dr. Thomas Schreiner, has been a guest speaker at my church a number of times. He strikes me as a humble and godly scholar.

No, I have no financial interest in the book. I won't get any money from your click-through, even if you buy the book.

As with any study Bible, think of the notes as helpful comments from a godly but imperfect friend.

Prayer When Discouraged

From Blog09

Lord, I'm empty tonight--
A vessel you've chosen,
But feeling alone, blue, cracked.
Thank you for understanding
And for having plans
Beyond what I can see when I'm discouraged.

Thank you that every one of your promises
Is just as true tonight
As it was on those bright sunny mornings
When all seemed perfect.

Thank you that in your presence
Is fullness of joy;
At your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Keep me, Lord, from grabbing
This world's empty pleasures.
I trust your word.
I hope in you.

Glory to your Name!

To you, LORD, I call. My rock, don't be deaf to me;
    lest, if you are silent to me,
    I would become like those who go down into the pit.
Hear the voice of my petitions, when I cry to you,
    when I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place.

--Psalm 28:1-2

Poem and photo ©2009 James L. Swindle

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Vastness of Space

From Blog09


Vastness of space
Smallness of man
Mind cannot trace
Brain can't keep pace
Yet in God's plan
More vast is grace


O the depth of the riches
    both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
how unsearchable are his judgments,
    and his ways past finding out!

--Romans 11:33, KJVB

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

A Prayer of Approach

From Blog09


Lord, you are
    Above, beyond, behind, below.
    You're greater far than we can know.

Lord, all our value comes from you,
And all our joy; our meaning, too.
But we are nothing, we are dust
When we're compared with the All-just.
Forgive us, Lord, for boasting show.
Lead us in your Spirit's flow.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
--Isaiah 55:9, ESV

Poem and photo ©2009 James L. Swindle

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Celebrate!

From Blog09


She was broken
    beaten
        and so much worse
just days ago

Today she came to know the Lord
    and birds sing praise
        and angels
        ~~dance~~

Creation wears its party dress


Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.
--Luke 15:10, ESV

Photo ©2009 Jamaes L. Swindle. Poem public domain.