Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The End of Man

From Blog10

My friends, to bring sad news
Is not a joy to me, but you must know
That while we were not looking,
While we were busy with our work and play,
Our worship and our cooking,
Mankind died.
Every prince and princess,
Every common workman,
Every seamstress, every cleaning lady,
Every policeman, every temptress...
Man himself has disappeared
Into ungendered oblivion.
Is there still time to wake the dead,
To call for manly deeds made civil
By the application of a woman's grace?
Is there still time to call on God the Father
To restore our manliness or femininity?
By God's grace, it must be so.
He does the things impossible
And made a perfect woman
From manly Adam's rib.

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

--Genesis 1:27

Monday, December 27, 2010

Humble Saints

From Blog10


Humble saints
Do God's work--
No complaints,
Build the church.

Will not boast
Over men.
Trust God most;
Flee from sin.

They won't swerve
Left or right.
They just serve,
Day and night.

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. --Ephesians 4:15-16 ESV

The photo is of Priscilla. She and her husband have been married for more than 60 years. Both sing in our church choir. Priscilla decorates two bulletin boards each month.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Bible Scholarship and History

My wife and I had recently recorded most of a History Channel program about the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and the spread of Christianity. It was hosted by Simcha Jacobovici, whom I'd not viewed before. The man is a compelling storyteller and a shoddy scholar. He would take a few shreds of evidence and make sweeping conclusions. He repeatedly said or presumed that nearly all of the Christians in Rome at the time of the eruption (79 AD) were Jews. Yet in Romans 16, written 22 years earlier, most of the people whom Paul greets have Greek or Roman names, not Jewish names.

Jacobovici trusted ancient graffiti (and his own theories about the ancient graffiti) completely, while ignoring the Bible's own testimony.

The secular world is offended by fanciful scholarship, but is generally much more offended by simple Christianity.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cold Snap

From Blog10

Here is a charming poem by a Christian singer/songwriter named Andrew Peterson. I know little about him, but I like the poem. I hope you will, too.

The photo above is my older brother. The ceramic frog in his lap was already about 25 years old. It now sits in my breakfast room.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

You Can't Buy Christmas Down at Wal-Mart

From Blog10

You can't buy Christmas down at Wal-Mart
Or even at the Macy's store.
No, God gives Jesus and a new heart
That loves him always more and more.

You can't find meaning in the wrappings
Or in the finest candy cane.
You can't find Christmas in its trappings
Or in a year-end stock price gain.

You can't make peace with just some holly
And some whiskers and a big red suit.
You can't be saved just being jolly
While you're planning your next sex pursuit.

You can't buy Christmas down at Wal-Mart
Or even at the Macy's store.
No, God gives Jesus and a new heart
That loves him always more and more.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. --Romans 6:23

Monday, December 20, 2010

To Live Is Christ

From Blog10

For me to live
    Is life in Christ.
For me to die
    Is better yet.

Ye, if I live,
    I'll serve the LORD,
And if I die,
    I'll live with him.

To be with him
    Is much preferred,
And that will be
    My final lot.

Through Jesus Christ
    I'm clean; I'm new.
He washed me clean.
    He made me new.

      --         --         --

To be with You
    Day after day...
To be with You--
    That's where I'd stay.

To learn your ways
    And know your grace--
At last to gaze
    Upon your face,

Eons the same
    By your throne's fire--
This is my aim,
    My deep desire.

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
--Philippians 1:21

Illustration ©2010 James L. Swindle. Poem by JLS is public domain.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Handel's Messiah

From Blog10

Last night my wife and I and friends went to a presentation of Handel's "Messiah." It was excellent. It's some of the most glorious choral music ever written, and the words are all scripture. I'd recommend listening to it--live, if possible--the next time you have an opportunity. We went to the presentation at Christ Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Houston. If you don't have an opportunity to listen live, you can listen to a broadcast of it on the KHCB radio network (also available online) at 1 PM Central time on Sunday, December 19, 2010.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

How You Came



You could have come in majesty,
With splendid crowns and royal robes,
But came a simple, helpless babe
To people who were very poor.

You could have had a kingly bed
With satin sheets and silver posts
And golden netting up above,
But chose a feeding trough instead.

You could have had the emperor
Attend your coming on his knees,
But chose instead some shepherds who
Were ordinary as the night.

You could have saved the very rich
And left the rest to rot and burn,
But chose to come for all of us
Who'd turn to you in simple faith.

You showed us that the finer things
Aren't really very fine at all
When they're compared with just a babe
Who's very God in very flesh.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us...
--John 1:14 ESV
And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
--Luke 2:7 ESV

As you can tell from the poem, the striking photo is a huge misrepresentation of the Lord's birth. My thanks to Magpie Tales for the photo. Follow the link for other people's writings, based on the same photo.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Wilderness of Words

From Blog10


A wilderness of words
So subtly blurs the truth
That men rejoice in lies
They learned in Sunday School
Or trust in fables read or
Learned at mothers' knees.
The lies grow plump and ripe
And hang from all the trees,
While myths bloom all around
And doubts float on the breeze...
And yet the sword of truth
Can hack away the brush
And shine and flash with life,
Alone in victory.


Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness...

--1 Timothy 4:7 ESV

For the source of the title phrase, look here.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

God's Knitting

From Blog10


God's knitting
Isn't socks and sweaters and caps.
It's stars and cedars and Lapps.

He doesn't use yarn.
He uses nothing.

He doesn't use knitting needles.
He uses his word.

He never drops a stitch
Or has the wrong size
Or forgets to finish what he started.

Thank God for his knitting
Fitting
All things together.

You clothed me with skin and flesh,
and knit me together with bones and sinews.

--Job 10:11

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Snow Day



Cold winds blow
Then comes snow
All is white
Bright at night
Morning sun
Calls for fun
School is out
Children shout
Clear blue sky
Snowballs fly
Sleds flash past
Wow! That's fast!
Great play's chosen
Until frozen
Ears and toes
Fingers, nose
Call us in
Peel off skin
Of gloves, boots
And snow suits
And at three
Drink some tea


God thunders wondrously with his voice;
      he does great things that we cannot comprehend.
For to the snow he says, ‘Fall on the earth,’
      likewise to the downpour, his mighty downpour.

--Job 37:5-6 ESV


Poem ©2010 James L. Swindle
My thanks to Magpie Tales for the wonderful image. Follow the link to see other people's thoughts about the sled.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Global Warming

From Clean Cartoons

Coming ice age
Global warming
Climate change
      Changing buzzwords
      Of our fears

Conservation
Stewardship
Humble dominion
      Better buzzwords
      Of our faith

Coming judgment
Global burning
Climate gone
      No more buzzwords
      Of our own

A new heaven
A new earth
Righteousness
      Not mere buzzwords
      Solid hope

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Open on Christmas

From Blog10

Not a baby and a virgin in a stable,
But some cigarettes and a clerk in a convenience store
Are the new religion of so many...
    A pleasure here,
        A dollar or a hundred there,
    And God is soon forgotten,
Relegated to some upper channels on the TV
    Where hucksters hawk
        And preach a faith
            That's made them rich.

Please tell people once again
Of God in flesh
    Who didn't come down the chimney in a red suit.
Bring them to the stable,
    To the Christ child,
That they may eventually go
    Not just to the convenience store
But to the heavenly city.

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign.
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and shall call his name Immanuel.
(Isaiah 7:14 ESV)

NOTE: "Immanuel" in Hebrew means "God with us."


This particular post is public domain. Copy or reproduce the photo or the text any way you wish.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Simplicity of Salvation

From Blog10

LORD, if you'd asked some mighty thing--
Great pilgrimages in the sand
Or seven hundred songs to sing--
We'd try it all, at your command.

But you devised a simpler way:
By faith alone in your own Son,
Who died for sin and rose third day.
When we believe, you say it's done.

And yet so many still refuse
To take your great, amazing gift.
In stubbornness, they still will choose
Some hopeless hope, themselves to lift.

So, why do some of us believe
In Jesus Christ, in him alone?
You loved and chose us to receive
These blessings. It was you alone.

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
--Jesus, in John 6:44

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Victory



This world's prizes may decay.
Medals tarnish. Ribbons fade.
Cash gets spent. Fame goes away.

And even if the prize should last,
That trophy won in second grade
Won't be much once childhood's past.

Each later prize up on a stage
(Our glory, all our pride displayed)
Becomes a footnote on a page.

Simple service done in love,
Humble things kind hands have made,
Will accrue in banks above.

Don’t work for the food that perishes
but for the food that lasts for eternal life,
which the Son of Man will give you,
because God the Father has set
His seal of approval on Him.

--Jesus, in John 6:27 HCSB

Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically,
as something done for the Lord and not for men,
knowing that you will receive the reward
of an inheritance from the Lord.
You serve the Lord Christ.

--Colossians 3:23 HCSB


When you enter my home, you may see a fancy golden cord, complete with tassels, looped around the stair rail post. It originally was to signify that I'd graduated with honors. I kept it in a box for many years, but now leave it out--not to be seen, but so I can use it for playing with the cat. The tassels are getting a bit frayed, but they bring pleasure to me and to the cat.

The image that prompted this poem is courtesy Magpie Tales. Follow that link for other people's thoughts on the image.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving


Today is Thanksgiving Day in the USA. I'm in Arizona today, with relatives. It's a blessing.

Here's part of my Thanksgiving list this year.
--My son's spiritual growth.
--A pastor who takes his work (and his Lord) very seriously.
--Salvation through Jesus.
--My wife, my daughter, and her family.
--A job that pays well, and that I enjoy doing.

Even if I had no outward blessings, if I had Jesus, I'd be rich.

What's on your Thanksgiving list this year?

PS -Here and here are two Thanksgiving poems I posted in prior years.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Church Choir

From Blog10


Joyful singing, truth distilled--
Hearts as one with praises filled:
Songs of Jesus crucified,
Risen, reigning, glorified.
Faith infused in every chord
Calls us all to praise the Lord.


Sing to the Lord, all the earth!
Tell of his salvation from day to day.

--1 Chronicles 16:23

The photo is from a church choir practice about a year ago.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bible Publishing - Does the Ownership Matter?

About a year ago I read a bigoted, mean-spirited post on a blog that I won't link to. The author rejected most modern Bible translations, saying that they had been influenced by "freemasons and Jews." The author then pointed out the ownership of America's two largest commercial Bible publishers. The largest stockholder of one is a man who probably does not claim to be a Christian. The largest stockholder of the other is a man who gives little evidence of genuine Christianity. That brings me to a question: How much should we care about who publishes our Bibles, or about who translates them, or about what store we buy them from?

I don't claim to be an authority on this, but would offer some theories. Which ones do you think are right?

1. The Lord preserves his word. By his grace, most Bibles in the stores are good enough that a person who reads and believes can come to know the Lord well.
2. Believers, on average, will turn out better translations than unbelievers.
3. A scholarly unbeliever who is honest about the meaning of the text can turn out a sufficiently good translation.
4. When a Bible publisher is part of a publicly-owned, profit-making business, the publishers will be tempted to put out editions more geared to making a profit than to making sound, growing disciples.
5. Christian-run, non-profit publishers are also tempted to use the same marketing means as the unbelievers. Some of those publishers give in to the temptation and put out editions that imply that the most important thing about a particular Bible is the binding or the notes geared to a special group of people, such as firefighters or motorcycle riders.
6. Basically-literal translations are less subject to dreadful mistakes than are functional-equivalence translations.
7. As the world moves toward the end of the age, it's possible that there will be more truly bad Bibles put out by various kinds of unbelievers, mostly phony believers.
8. Non-profit Christian publishers are more likely to avoid playing the marketing games. Crossway (publishers of the English Standard Version) doesn't put out any editions with trendy notes. It puts out editions with good cross-references and it allows people to use the electronic edition free.
9. It's good to have some Bible translations that are in the public domain. That way, if the owners of copyrights of other versions become corrupt and pull their editions from the shelves, others can still be distributed legally. The World English Bible is the best public-domain translation in English, so far as I can tell.
10. Whatever the beliefs of the publishers, and whatever the beliefs of those who make a profit from the publishing and sale of Bibles, we can be thankful that the bible is abundantly available in English. There's still a significant need for translations into other languages.

Notes: Here's a quick summary of the ownership of some major English translations.
Public domain: King James Version, American Standard Version, World English Bible.
Owned and published by Christian non-profit organizations: English Standard Version, Holman Christian Standard Bible, NET Bible, Contemporary English Version.
Owned and published by for-profit companies: New King James Version, The Message, New Living Translation.
Owned by a non-profit Christian organization, but published mostly by a for-profit public corporation: New International Version.

Friday, November 19, 2010

November



When the year's at the elevens
And we wistfully remember
All the warmth of bright September,
But we see just steel-gray heavens,

On beyond November chilling
And December days' dark sorrow
There's a youthful year tomorrow--
All God's promise still fulfilling.

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.
--Romans 8:19 ESV

While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.
--Genesis 8:22

My thanks to Magpie Tales for the image (above) that prompted this poem. For other people's writings about the same image, follow the link.

This original poem is public domain.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Ending Sin

From Blog10

To lock the door on sin
    And then to throw away the key...
To die to stubborn sin
    And then to live in purity...

    Lord, that's my prayer.

To live in you alone
    And then to grow and serve each day...
To know I'm not my own
    And then to walk your holy way...

    Lord, that's my prayer.


Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me.

                --Psalm 51:10 ESV

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sub-Christian "Christian" Teachings

This week I bought a couple of books from the "super bargain" selections at a Christian bookstore. One seems to be an excellent book. As for the other, since it was a year-old hardback being sold new for a dollar, I guess I should have suspected that there was something seriously wrong with it.

It's from a well-known Christian publisher, with an author who has a Master of Divinity degree from a respected, conservative seminary. The author is one of the founders of a graduate school. That all sounds good, but...

The book's introduction says, "There are three core premises that will be engaged throughout this book. It will be immensely helpful for you to consider these assumptions as you enter the rest of this labor...." It then lists them...and every one of them is theologically suspect.

How do such books get published? The answer is simple. Many "Christian" publishers are more eager to sell books than they are to promote truth. Some authors and editors of "Christian books" aren't true Christians at all. I can't say whether this author is a Christian, but I can say that he did not write a Christian book. He wrote a book that's badly twisted in its teachings.

May the Lord give us discernment to look past the good exterior and to see lies for what they are.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Yesterday's Toys

From Blog10

Yesterday's toys
Hint of the dreams
Children once had.
"I'll be a nurse."
"I'll fight big fires."
"I'll be a wife."
President,
Farmer or nun,
Each had a dream
So long ago.
Did they succeed?
I'll never know.
I just see toys,
All in a row.

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
(1 Corinthians 13:11 ESV)

From Blog10


This original poem is public domain. The accompanying photos are ©2010 James L. Swindle

Saturday, November 06, 2010

God's Rooster



And immediately the rooster crowed.
--Matthew 26:74


Simon, the impulsive one,
Jesus called a rock.
Did it seem a joke?
If so, a very loving one,
And Peter would be the rock
Until the very end

...Or so he thought.

But on that poignant night
--Night pregnant with doom--
Jesus warned him:
Truly, tonight,
Before the rooster crows,
You'll deny me three times.

But Peter denied it.

The night wore on
And Jesus was arrested
And taken before the high priest
And then before the whole council
While Peter was waiting outside.
A servant girl said, "You were with Jesus."

But Peter denied it.

When he went to the entrance,
Another servant girl said he'd been with Jesus.

But Peter denied it.

He swore an oath, "I do not know the man."

After awhile
Some bystanders accused him
Of having been with Jesus...

But Peter denied it.

He called a curse down on himself
And started to swear
And said he didn't know the man.

And then the rooster crowed.

      He crowed by the authority of God.
      He crowed past all the lies.
      He crowed all the way to Peter's conscience.

And Peter, who could not deny it,
Went out and bitterly wept.
_______________________________

      Done with pride.
      Done with lies.
      Mortified
      Down to size.

      He was done
      Crucifying
      Christ God's Son,
      Done denying.


My thanks to Magpie Tales for the photo of the rooster. For other people's thoughts on the image, follow the link. The poem text is ©2010 James L. Swindle, but you may print up to 100 copies for non-commercial use if you include the copyright notice.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Man Is Good--That's What They Say

From Blog10


Man is good. That's what they say,
While wars and tyrants maim and kill.
Man is good. That's what they say,
While men rebel and seek their will.

Man is good. That's what they say,
While walking past some victim's tomb.
Man is good. That's what they say,
While killing babies in the womb.

Man is good. That's what they say,
While they're pursuing their own way.
Man is good. That's what they say,
But tell me: is there hell to pay?

The human heart is most deceitful and desperately wicked.
Who really knows how bad it is?

--Jeremiah 17:9, NLT

The good news of forgiveness in Jesus isn't really good news at all unless we understand how desperately hopeless our situation would be without him. People don't just need a little fixing. If all of the bad things people do are merely the results of the oppressive social structures of their environment, then where did those oppressive social structures come from? No, the bad things we do don't come just from outside us. They come from deep within us. That's why we need new hearts. That's why we need new life in Jesus. That's why we need to have the HOLY Spirit living within us.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cemetery Thoughts



After my body lies cold in the ground
(Worms by my rib cage, but no other sound)--
After my tombstone lies broken and worn,
Some day I yet will be fresh as the morn.

Jesus will come with a glorious shout.
Graves will crack open, and I will come out!
If I was rotting, no longer I'll stink.
Flesh will mesh freshly, and all in a blink.

I will rise upward--we'll meet in the air.
Then and for always, his presence I'll share!
I'll see his glory, his power, his grace--
Holy, not burned by his radiant face.

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
--1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 ESV

...we know that when he appears1 we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
--1 John 3:2 ESV

Remember, the Bible's promises of eternal blessing are only for those who turn from self and sin, to Jesus--to Jesus, the One who died for our sins and who rose that we may be justified.

My thanks to Magpie Tales for the image (above) that prompted this poem. You can read other people's reactions to the photo by clicking the link.

Poem ©2010 James L. Swindle. You may print up to 100 copies for non-commercial use, so long as you include the copyright notice.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Leaves of Gold

From Blog10

Leaves of gold,
Autumn's cold
Sets you free
From the tree.
Your last chance--
Windy dance!
Downward spin,
Settle in--
Your new home
In the loam.

Do not weep.
Simply sleep.
Feed the wood
As you should.
In the spring,
God will bring
Leaves all new,
Though not you.
Yet each saint,
Strong or faint,
Still will rise
To the skies,
The same one...
Meet God's Son.
Tell His fame!
Praise his name!

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die —ever. Do you believe this?”
--John 11:25

From Blog10


Photos ©2010 James L. Swindle. Poem by JLS is public domain.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Beachless

From Blog10

In widest spaces
Plainest plains
Where wheat grew gold
And oil brought wealth
Was I, a boy
As scrawny as the trees

The shrunken mountains
Hung like taxidermy
In paintings flat as fields
While beaches were in books

In the center of Kansas
In the center of the great plains
In the center of the country
Was the center of my world

It was beautifully flat
And usually dry
And wonderfully home



God settles the solitary in a home...
--Psalm 68:6 ESV

Poem and photo ©2010 James L. Swindle

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Glory to God for Grace

From Blog10


All my life long, I'd been earning
Fires of hell, eternal burning.
Yet, before the world's foundation
God chose me for great salvation.
This was based on his great mercy,
Not on good he found within me.
This, then, is my simple story.
Join me as I give Him glory.

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, even as 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 1:3-5 ESV)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chilean Miners Rescued



Along with millions of people, I rejoice at the rescue of the 33 Chilean miners and I thank God for their rescue.

Think of the ways in which their experience is a picture of what happens to true Christians:

They were in a situation where they were under sentence of death with absolutely no way to rescue themselves. They've now been brought from death to life, from darkness to light, from isolation to fellowship, from grief to joy. All of this was done by means of someone coming down to them from above, to live among them and to rescue them, under the authority of the ruler of the nation above them.

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son...(Colossians 1:13 ESV).

Spiritually, are you still in the mine? Or have you been brought out into the light?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Autumn

From Blog10


Leaves languid falling
Veed geese high calling
The wind gets surly
Twilight comes early

Kaleidescoping
The leaves are hoping
Their last grand showing
Will leave us glowing

Fog, filmy drifting
And eerie lifting
Brown squirrels hurry
Their nuts to bury

October raking
The children making
Great leaps of pleasure
In mounded treasure


Such rich redundance
Autumn abundance
___________________________________


He changes times and seasons;
he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who have understanding...

--Daniel 2:21 ESV

You may consider my poem "Autumn" public domain.

For an earlier poem of mine on the same topic, look here.

My thanks to Magpie Talesfor reminding me to write about autumn leaves. For other people's thoughts on the topic, follow the link. They come from many different world-views and skill levels (some distinctly more creative than mine), so take the good and ignore the not-so-good.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

I Don't Know How the Father's Love

From Blog10

I don't know how the Father's love
   Can reach right past my sin
To cleanse me, make me fresh and new,
   Remade, outside and in.

But I know Jesus died for me,
   The purest for the worst,
And by his grace I plainly see
   He's broken Satan's curse.

I don't know how the living God
   Sustains me hour by hour
Nor how mere faith in Jesus Christ
   Brings righteousness and power,

But I know Jesus lives in me.
   His Spirit courses through
To make me what I ought to be--
   Amazed and holy, new.

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!
--2 Corinthians 13:5 ESV

Poem and photo ©2010 James L. Swindle. Non-commercial printing of up to 100 copies is permitted, with the copyright notice.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Kerosene Lamp

From Blog10


By this lamp’s light
Grandma mended stockings
And Grandpa looked for ways
To feed his family.

By this lamp’s light
Mother and her sisters
Packed their clothes for each week at school
And later packed for college.

By this lamp’s light
My wife and I visited quietly
Enjoying the break from routine
When the power was out.

Now this lamp sits on our piano,
Waiting with dignity,
Waiting with beauty,
Waiting for another dark night.

The lamp’s been waiting for over a year.
Tonight, it’s bright...
Bright with light,
Bright with memories.

My wife and I visit,
Looking back over the years,
Looking forward to eternity,
Savoring the moment.

There was light.
There is light.
There will be light,
And it is good.


Again Jesus spoke to them, saying,
“I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.”

(John 8:12 ESV)

My thanks to Magpie Tales for the idea of writing about a kerosene lamp. For other people's writings on the same topic, follow the link.

This poem is mostly factual, though we really didn't visit about much profound tonight while the lamp was lit.

Much content on this site is copyright. This new poem and original photo are public domain.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Knight's Reflection (A Limerick)

From Blog10


There once was an errant young knight
Who went forth for fight for the right,
But when war came nearer,
He went through a mirror
And fought for the left, not the right.


Patience is better than power,
and controlling one’s temper, than capturing a city.

--Proverbs 16:32 HCSB

"Errant" here means wandering or traveling. There's no deep, hidden meaning to this poem, but if you want to give it one, you can.

This particular photo and poem are public domain.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Come with Power

From Blog10


Holy Spirit, come with power
Re-arranging all we are.
Set our eyes to wait the hour
When the King returns from far.

Loose our tongues to tell the story
Of the one who died for all
And brings many sons to glory
And returns to rule them all.

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

We need to be re-arranged as thoroughly as this strap was re-arranged.

At Last

From Blog10


Thank God I’ve died at last…
Died to all my wants,
Died to all my plans.

      My self is dead, is past…
      Who cares what it wants?
      Who cares what it plans?

I’ve died to live at last…
Live to Jesus’ wants,
Live to Jesus’ plans.

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
--Colossians 3:23

Note: I don't claim to have fully arrived at the state described in this poem, but the Lord is truly at work in me. I must keep on killing self.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Discriminating Fragrance


Some love my fragrance
Scent from heaven
Breath of endless life
Amazing, alluring aroma.

Most hate that same smell
Odor most foul
Putrefaction--their own death
Dreaded, damning stench.

Their hearts determine the smell.
Tell me: Do you like it?

For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?
(2 Corinthians 2:15-16 ESV)

My thanks to Magpie Tales for this photo, which prompted the poem. You can follow the link to find other people's reactions to the same image.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Swimming Pool - A poem for children

From Blog10


Swimming, swimming in the pool--
Splishing, splashing--water's cool.
Feeling fishy--flapping feet.
Summer swims just can't be beat.


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

--Ecclesiastes 3:1

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Washed and Waiting

From Blog10

Washed and waiting
Sin abating
Though the tempter isn't done

    (Satan's grating
    Always hating
    What the Savior has begun

    He has fury
    Hurry worry
    Knowing that one day he'll burn)

I am holy
Waiting solely
For my Master's great return

...let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. --Hebrews 10:22 ESV

This idea for this poem came from the title of a book that I have not read.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Not Now



I'll learn to love, but later,
Since there is always time.

I will forgive, but later,
Since there is always time.

I'll be a man, but later,
Since there is always time.

I'll exercise, but later,
Since there is always time.

I'll have a plan, but later,
Since there is always time.

I'll do what's best, but later,
Since there is always time.

I will repent, but later,
Since there is always time.

I will trust Christ, but later,
Since there is always time.

But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.
--Luke 12:20-21 ESV

My thanks to Magpie Tales for the image that prompted this poem. You can follow the link to see other people's impressions of it. This original poem is public domain. Other poems on this site are ©James L. Swindle, unless stated otherwise.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Emily Dickinson

From Blog10

Such spare verse -
Bent rhythm, rhyme.
Tight, terse -
But pressed sunshine.

...What is man that You remember him, the son of man that You look after him?
--Psalm 8:4, HCSB

You can find Emily Dickinson's poems here. I don't endorse everything she believed, but she had a remarkable way with words.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

What You See



What you see is what you see,
But it isn't what there is.
You can see the outside-paint,
Window panes, a draping cloth--
But you seldom see the core,
Deep where people thrive or die.
Walls and windows hide the heart.
Is it dead and dirty, dark?
Or are lights on, shining bright?
Walls and windows hide the heart.

...Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.
--1 Samuel 16:7, ESV

My thanks to Magpie Tales for the image that prompted this poem. You can follow the link to see other people's impressions of it.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

To Think Like You

From Blog10

Lord, to think like you
In ev'rything I do--
This my earnest goal,
The aim of my whole soul.

Cleanse and shape my mind,
Controlling all I find
'Til at last I see
You shine forth through me.

“For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
--1 Corinthians 2:16 ESV

Monday, September 06, 2010

Bible Study Sites

I've added some Bible study sites to the bar on the right. Here's a bit more information about each of them.

E-Sword is the finest free Bible study software that I know of. It's geared toward the serious student. Besides lots of English translations (many free), you'll find other modern languages, Greek and Hebrew, Bible commentaries, Bible dictionaries, maps, devotionals and more--much of which is free. Download it! Then make a donation.

ESV Online is one of my two favorite translations. The web site is well-designed, with a built-in editor that you can use for creating notes for a sermon or lesson about a passage. It saves your place and saves your notes; lets you highlight text in any of several colors.

HCSB Study Bible is my other favorite translation. It includes all of the study Bible's notes. One excellent feature: If you hover over a word, the original Greek or Hebrew word pops up, along with a definition.

NET Bible comes with more translation notes than you'll ever want.

Search God's Word has various translations and commentaries and more. It's a bit cluttered, but useful.

Friday, September 03, 2010

The Play




I've heard it said that "All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players."
Now I believe it in a certain sense,
But we have often played our parts all wrong,
Conspiring to erase the Author's lines
And even daring to deny his role
Or worse--to say he isn't there at all...
We say the play is writing by itself,
And then pretend that we control the whole.
What's more, we've got the audience all wrong.
We play to other players shamelessly,
Not knowing that the audience is One
Who'll judge us when the final curtain falls.
We eat the fruit of all our brazen lies
And aim at vanity. Just vanity.
The Author still reminds us of our lines
And calls us to our finest roles once more.
Though most refuse, emoting to themselves,
A few will follow his amazing lines
And end their parts with glory in their eyes.


Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
vanity of vanities! All is vanity.

--Ecclesiastes 1:2 ESV

...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus...
--Romans 3:23-24 ESV

My thanks to Magpie Tales for the photo that prompted this poem. Also to William Shakespeare, of course, for the quotation.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Hating Sin

From Blog10


I hate sin, but do I hate it enough?

I don't hate sin enough...
    If I find it funny and entertaining.
    If I dream of its pleasures.
    If I make provisions for following it in my life.
    If I try to curb it, instead of killing it.
    If I call it something softer.
    If I make excuses for it.
    If I don't try to turn others from it.
    If I don't expose it to the light.
    If I blame it on someone else.
    If I think little sins don't matter.
    If I don't worry about its consequences.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
--Romans 6:23

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Kymani Update #2

I'd written earlier (here and here) of my young relative Kymani and his cancer. Some days after his surgery, they did a radioactive test using what's considered a reliable tracer, and found no more cancer. No further treatment was recommended, and he's gaining weight again. It's as good a health report for him as we could possibly ask.

Join me in thanking the Lord.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Payment

From Blog10

Lord, if I weep
And stern fasts keep
And say my prayer
Before I sleep,
I still can't pay
The price--too steep!--
That me will keep
From hellfire deep.

And if in praise
[With joyous phrase]
My hands I raise
To where you blaze
In ageless days,
This all still pays
For naught of days
I set my gaze
To spurn your ways.

You paid it all--
Sins large and small--
On cross so tall
Beneath a pall
Midst mockers' call
When wrath did fall
With bitter gall--
One death for all.

Then on third day
You rose to say
You broke death's sway--
And now we may
Go free and stay
Within your way--
No more to pay--
Through endless day.

We have been set apart as holy because Jesus Christ did what God wanted him to do by sacrificing his body once and for all.
--Hebrews 10:10, GOD'S WORD translation

Thursday, August 26, 2010

100th Anniversary of Mother Teresa's Birth

Today (August 26, 2010) is the 100th anniversary of Mother Teresa's birth. She was an amazing combination of grit, compassion, courage and persistence. She's considered a saint by most. Yet (and in this I must disagree with my dear brother-in-Christ RomanĂ³s) there's significant reason to doubt that she really knew the Lord Jesus. I say that not because she was Roman Catholic, but because her theology and her practice were grossly deficient in several respects. She seems to have believed that all religions lead to eternal blessing. She seems to have depended on good works, not on the Lord Jesus Christ.

I don't claim to know what was in her heart, and I don't claim to have as much courage as she had. I don't desire to trash her memory, nor to deny that she was a remarkable woman from whom we can learn much. Still, unless a person is truly in Christ, that person is not in the Lord's kingdom. Did she really know Jesus? She showed sacrificial love, but she denied basic, elementary spiritual truth of Jesus. The Lord knows all, and will deal wisely with her as with all.

And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
(1 John 5:11-12 ESV)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sin's Promises

From Blog10

Sin promises life,
    but it's dead.
Sin promises a straight path,
    but its path is twisted.
Sin promises light,
    but it's darkness.
It promises wholeness,
    but it's broken.
Sin promises truth,
    but consists of lies.
Sin promises freedom,
    but yields slavery.
Sin promises to take care of people,
    but it eats them up.
Sin promises wisdom,
    but it's foolishness.
____________________________________
Do not let my heart incline to any evil,
    to busy myself with wicked deeds
in company with men who work iniquity,
    and let me not eat of their delicacies!

                --Psalm 141:4 ESV

Monday, August 23, 2010

Blurry

From Blog10


When your road's confusing--
Blurry signs ahead,
And you might be choosing
What will leave you dead,
There's a way of knowing
Peace that very day:
Trust God as you're going.
He will lead the way.


And your ears shall hear a word behind you,
saying, "This is the way, walk in it,"
when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

--Isaiah 30:21

This promise is for the obedient believer, not for the person who's just curious about the future but unwilling to obey.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Purify

From Blog10

Father, do a work in me,
Purifying more and more
Not just actions people see:
Purify my heart, my core.


Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!

(Psalm 51:2 ESV)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Night Scene

From Blog10


Today, a fiction poem for you.

Beneath the curdled moon
Where dark and silver play
I tripped beside a tomb
That wailed for yesterday.

A statue stared at me
No shame, no gathered guilt--
As young as old could be
By long-past labor built.

It gave a windy moan
And whispered ancient lies
While dewy marble shone
From mold-mascaraed eyes.


Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

--1 Corinthians 4:5

Poem ©2010 James L. Swindle

Sunday, August 15, 2010

No Generic God

From Blog10


You may be a religious man.
You may be a spiritual woman,
But if you don't know Jesus Christ,
You have never known God.

You may be a Bible scholar.
You may quote it perfectly,
But if you don't know Jesus Christ,
You have never known the Bible.

You may be respectable,
Honored by the world around,
But if you crave your own glory,
You've missed the glory that's from God.

You may justify yourself.
You may quote your favorite verse,
But if you're missing Jesus Christ,
You stand guilty, lost in sin.

(This posting is a paraphrase of Jesus' rebuke in John 5:37-47.

My pastor preached on that passage this morning.)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Aging



I'm getting older now.
My windows aren't as clear.
The shingles start to fall.
The paint has lots of lines.
The plumbing's getting clogged
And sometimes springs a leak,
And all the hinges creak.

But still I look ahead
To joyful, fruitful years
With Jesus Christ the King.
I see abundant life.
I see his faithfulness.
I see sufficient strength
And rising from the dead.

Even when you're old, I'll take care of you. Even when your hair turns gray, I'll support you. I made you and will continue to care for you. I'll support you and save you.
--Isaiah 46:4, GOD'S WORD translation

My thanks to Willow at Magpie Tales for the photo that prompted this poem. For other people's thoughts about the same photo, follow the link.