Thursday, April 30, 2009

Possible Pandemic: Common Sense

I don't pretend to be a medical doctor nor a scientist, but in light of the possible pandemic of swine flu, I have some observations. I hope most of them are wisdom.

1. The Lord is sovereign. Obey him and trust him, and you will not die until his assignment for you is done. That doesn't mean you should be careless. It doesn't mean you should not take precautions. It does mean you should not worry the way unbelievers do.

2. You can't trust the government to take care of you. The government of your country should try to take wise action, but if there's a pandemic, there will not be enough antiviral drugs for all of those who are seriously ill. Your government will probably do too little, too late.

3. The risk to you individually is significant, but not great. The possibility of a pandemic is very real, and in a pandemic millions could die. However, the probability at this point is that we won't have a pandemic, and if we have a pandemic, the probability is that you will survive.

4. It's wise to avoid needless exposure. This is a good time to avoid crowds, unless your job puts you in them. It's a good time to be extra-careful about hygiene.

5. It's wise to avoid needlessly exposing others. If you show any symptoms that could be flu, you should be in contact with as few people as possible. By the time you're confident that you have the swine flu, you'll no longer be contagious.

6. Home remedies may save your life or the lives of some people you love. Know how to make and how to use rehydration liquid. Have some acetamenophen on hand for keeping fever down. If someone becomes too feverish, do whatever is necessary to bring the fever down, including feeding the person frozen juice or packing the person in ice.

7. Every emergency room should be preparing a place for possible flu victims to sit or lie either outdoors or in isolation from other patients. Although this is common sense, don't depend on it happening.

8. Some governments are rushing to pass legislation requiring licensed medical personnel to treat people, even if there is serious danger to their own lives, on the penalty of losing their medical licenses. I think that's a bad idea. If there's a pandemic, I think most medical personnel would do best by using their own judgment concerning whether treating a particular patient is worth the risk to their own lives. If we require full treatment of those who are sickest and most contagious, we could have most of our medical personnel quickly immobilized by illness.

Once again, I remind you that the Lord is sovereign, and he is good. Trust in him and do what is right.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lazarus

From Blog09

Sick to bone-depth,
To stone-death,
Lazarus lay.
Sisters pray
The Lord to come.
They hope for some
Miracle.

Faint turn of head--
Dear brother dead.
Now gnash of grief
Chomps their belief.
Wrap death--soft slips
Of cloth--sun dips;
Hope dies with sun
Since lacking one
Miracle.

Then Jesus came--
Wept, loved the same.
Came to cold grave
Stink-gruesome cave
Prayer like pure north...
Lazarus, come forth!
A shuffling sound,
One walking bound
Miracle.

[After Jesus prayed,] He shouted with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!"
The dead man came out bound hand and foot with linen strips and with his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Loose him and let him go."

--John 11:43-44, HCSB


My brother or sister, are you lacking one miracle today?
Have you given up hope?
Do you think the Lord no longer cares?
Does he seem absent from your need?
Then meditate on the story of Lazarus.


Poem and photo ©2009 James L. Swindle
Non-profit printing of up to 100 copies is permitted if you include this notice

Monday, April 27, 2009

Lonesome

From Blog09


Father in Heaven, I often get lonesome for you,
Lonesome for times of pure worship in your presence.
      I long to praise you,
            To serve you,
                  To announce your goodness,
                        To sense your presence,
                              To hear from you
                                    And--amazingly--to be heard by you.

Such a longing is a sign
      Of your presence in me,
      Of your Spirit placing that hunger in me.

Yet I'd never--or hardly ever--
      Thought of your hunger for me,
      That you get lonely for me
      As I do for you.

Oh, your completeness is not limited
      By the incompleteness of my devotion to you.
You're just as complete at the times when I ignore you.
But you rejoice and celebrate
      When I turn to you with all my heart,
      Which is yours.
You dance and sing over me--
Not because of something good I can
Do for you,
But just because you choose to do so.

I don't comprehend it,
But thank you.


The LORD your God is with you. He is a hero who saves you. He happily rejoices over you, renews you with his love, and celebrates over you with shouts of joy.
--Zephaniah 3:17, God's Word translation

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Miraculous Catch of Fish

From Blog09

This past Sunday morning I was on a trip, but today I listened to our pastor's message on CD. He was speaking about Jesus and the miraculous catch of fish in John 21:1-14. Read the passage.

He sees it as a set of events that were symbolic of how we do ministry in the age of the resurrected Christ:
1. We can accomplish nothing without Christ.
2. With Christ, we can see amazing results. We can see those results even when Jesus is not physically present in the boat with us.
3. Jesus is known by his deeds.
4. Christ doesn't need our work. He graciously allows us to participate in the work. He already had fish on a fire.
5. We don't feed him. He feeds us.

That set me to thinking about this blog. Do I write for his glory, or for my own? By his power, or by my own? Too often, I've wanted my own glory, not his. Why do you do what you do? By what power? Your own, or that of Jesus?

Father, forgive us. May YOUR kingdom come. May YOUR will be done.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Only Boxes

From Blog09

They are boxes, only boxes,
Wood and nails and nothing more,
But they make a grown man shudder
With a deep chill from his core.

They are boxes, only boxes,
But they're narrow, hard and cold--
And his joints are getting stiffer
And his face is growing old.

They are boxes, only boxes.
This he says with widened eyes--
And he sees now with a shudder
That the one is just his size.

They are boxes, only boxes,
But they take away his breath
As they interrupt his living
With a frigid thought of death.

They are boxes, only boxes,
Wood and nails and nothing more,
But they make a grown man shudder:
Is one destined for his door?

...it is appointed for people to die once--and after this, judgment.

--Hebrews 9:27, HCSB

Poem and photo ©2009 James L. Swindle

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Judgment Day

From Blog09


My Lord will come to earth again
And have a judgment date for men.
    The dead will rise:
    Some to the skies
    And some to face
    Their full disgrace.
With joy and fear I wait the date
When all repentance is too late.
    My terror's fled,
    For Jesus bled
    To kill my sin.
    He'll let me in.
But Oh, the agony and gall
For those who scorned the Lord of all!
    Their fate is sealed,
    Their guilt revealed.
    No wiggle-room.
    They face their doom.

...since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
--2 Thessalonians 1:6-8 ESV

Written in 2007.
Poem and photo ©2009 James L. Swindle. Non-profit printing of up to 100 copies is permitted with this notice.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Making a decision

From Blog09

Here is a non-exhaustive list of questions to ask yourself when you are wondering whether a certain choice is morally right.

1. Does it contradict any of God's commands to us?
2. Is it wise?
3. Is it humble?
4. Does it come from a clean conscience?
5. Is it loving?
6. Is it of good repute among those who are most godly?
7. Will it glorify God?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Satan's Like a Roaring Lion

From Blog09


Satan's like a roaring lion
Looking for his daily prey.
Year by year he keeps on trying
To consume men day by day.

If you think you're far too clever
For that devil to defeat,
Then you've shown that you have never
Seen the truth. You're Devil's meat.

Jesus is your only hope, friend.
Trust his power. He will give
Armor--keep your eyes fresh opened,
Keep you safe--so you will live.

Be sober! Be on the alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.
--1 Peter 5:8, HCSB

The photo is just a house cat, but that cat has killed and eaten unwary birds. Just as a small bird must beware of the cat, so we must beware of the devil.

Poem and photo ©2009 James L. Swindle
Non-profit printing of up to 100 copies is permitted, with this notice.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Night and Day

From Blog09

Early Easter morning
All the world is sleeping
Sun not up
Clouds obscure
Any setting moon
Darkness still holds sway
Now's the time
Of rats
Of tombs
Of roaches in the rooms

But the day is coming
Day of all rejoicing
Sun will chase
Clouds away
Jesus lives--shown soon
Holy time
Of Christ
Of life
Let praises fill the rooms

Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn on the first day of the week,
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.
. . .
The angel answered the women,
"Don't be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus, who has been crucified.
He is not here, for he has risen, just like he said.
Come, see the place where the Lord was lying.

--Matthew 28:1,5,6 WEB

Poem and photo ©2009 James L. Swindle

Friday, April 10, 2009

Soldiers at the Cross

From Blog09


They were hard as rock, though not yet old.
Their empty eyes had seen too much.
They'd heard the screams of dying men--
Of men they'd killed.
At times they'd enjoyed their victims' pain,
But not so much today.
The moaning gasps meant just one thing:
The soldiers knew their craft,
The craft of execution.
Dividing up the prisoners' clothes,
They gambled for the one man's robe.
And joined the jeers
Thrown at the crucified.
But there was something odd today.
That man in the middle wasn't bitter.
They'd never seen the like.
The sun grew dark.
An order came to break the legs--
One mighty blow,
A few more minutes of screams,
And it would be over.
That man in the middle--
He screamed his last before they got to him.
Oh, well--
An angry thrust of spear should make it sure.
The spear went in.
Blood and water all poured out.
The prisoner was dead, all right,
But was it right?
The whole earth shook just then.
Who was this man?
A king? A god?
They shuddered as they left that hill.

When the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they were terrified and said, "This man really was God's Son!"
--Matthew 27:54, HCSB

Thursday, April 09, 2009

The Shadow of a Cross

From Blog09


The shadow of a cross
On one Judean hill;
A grave without a corpse,
But with the grave-clothes still...

A rising to the skies
From yet another hill,
While good men, all wide-eyed,
Are left there standing still...

My blood-guilt is now gone,
While I am standing still
And shine and sing of grace,
A beacon on a hill.


Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us--for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree"...
--Galatians 3:13, ESV

So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
--Romans 6:11, ESV

Poem and photo ©2009, James L. Swindle

Friday, April 03, 2009

A Misty Fog

From Blog09


A misty fog appears
  and details disappear
       but are still there
  beyond the fog.

A fog of troubles may appear--
  hope almost disappear.
     Is hope still there
  beyond the fog?

What strength do I have that I should continue to hope?
What is my future, that I should be patient?

--Job 6:11 HCSB

For the oppressed will not always be forgotten;
the hope of the afflicted will not perish forever.

--Psalm 9:8 HCSB

May Your faithful love rest on us, LORD, for we put our hope in You.
--Psalm 33:22, HCSB


Poem and photo ©2009 James L. Swindle.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

God Everywhere, Always

From Blog09

He's not the God of a place and a time,
    No localized God of the Year.
He's Lord of all; He's the king of all kings;
    Creator--whom all men should fear.

For from the rising of the sun to its setting
    my name will be great among the nations,
and in every place
    incense will be offered to my name,
    and a pure offering.
For my name will be great among the nations,
    says the LORD of hosts.

--Malachi 1:11, ESV