Sunday, January 31, 2010

January Day

From Blog10

The sky is heavy, dark and gray
This late-in-January day.
Above the gray, the unseen tooting
Of a flock of high-commuting
Geese.
The seasons never cease.

The cold of winter turns to spring.
The lilies in the garden fling
Their cheery bright-green hopeful stars
And summer's heat cannot be far.

I grab and scatter wanted seed,
Pull out a pesky winter weed,
Then go and prune rambunctious fig
Until it's shaped and not so big.

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. --Habakkuk 3:17-18

From Blog10

Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Photo: Time Passes

From Blog10


This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short.
--1 Corinthians 7:29

Thursday, January 28, 2010

On Creativity

From Blog10

Creativity and productivity are quite different. For productivity, you want full alertness. For creativity, you want your mind relaxed. Here are some things that seem to enhance creativity. Except for the first one, they are not in order of importance.

1. Worship the Lord with mind, body and spirit; with both intellect and emotions. Get over your fear of not being respectable.
2. Avoid excess caffeine. It can help you be productive, but not creative.
3. Avoid working with a television on--unless the program is something with relaxing images and sounds, but no narration.
4. Grab and pin down creative ideas when they occur. Carry a pen and a card, or a pocket recorder.
5. Look--really look--at things, at life, at God, at the Bible.
6. Practice. Try being creative. Plan times for creativity, but don't get upset if you're not very creative at those times.
7. Relax. Exercise. Spend time with a pet. Cuddle with your spouse or your child.
8. Expect and accept dry spells. This is easier if you build up a back-log of finished or near-finished creative products, so that you can pull one out when you're feeling dry.
9. When doing something productive, use your breaks as times to be creative.
10. Stop being depressed. Take medicine, if needed. Depressed people sometimes think they're most creative when depressed. That's usually not true.
11. Give glory to God.

"Whether then you eat or you drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."
--1 Corinthians 10:31

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Simple Faith

From Blog10

Simple faith of bygone years--
Plain as prairies, strong as oaks,
Calls for hope in place of fears:
Trusting God and loving folks.

Lord, renew us in that way--
Walking straight as taut fence line,
With our spirits day by day
Resting in your strength divine.

But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children's children,
to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.

--Psalm 103:17-18

Photo ©2010 and poem public domain by James L. Swindle.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Urban Soaring

From Blog10


Soar above man's vaunted works,
Reclaiming wind from towers, lights
Until you dive--fresh fish today--
And take your meal from depths to heights.

This is no sudden accident.

Your daring circles were inscribed
Before the burning stars began
Or ever passed forbidden fruit
Across the changing lips of man.

And God said, "Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens." So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
--Genesis 1:20-21

Note: In Genesis, we see God creating the heavens and the earth, the plants and the sun and the moon, and then on the fifth day the birds and sea creatures. Since the Lord planned us before any of it was made, I presume he also planned the birds in advance.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Photos: Pie and Egret

I hope to post a photo or two each Friday.

From Blog10

This pie tasted as good as it looked.
"Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!" --Psalm 34:8

From Blog10

Egrets are some of the most beautiful and most graceful birds anywhere. This one had become wary of me.

"Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." --1 Peter 5:8

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Doorkeeper

From Blog10


Father, let me tend the doors
That open to your kingdom...
Words of holy truth and life
That conquer lies and death;
Doors to fellowship and love
Where godliness can grow.
Let me simply tend the doors
And that will be enough.


For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than dwell in the tents of wickedness.

                --Psalm 84:10

Note: The photo shows my friend Terry, who's a college instructor, cheerfully unlocking doors at our church. Are you "too good" for some of the tasks the Lord might have for you today?

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

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Pray for a Child

Pray for my young friend Mason. He's about 8 years old, cheerful, and not expected to live out the spring. He has a brain tumor. He already received the

Pray for Mason's family as they deal with this situation.

Meanwhile, I'm confident that most of you who read this blog have been praying for the millions of people who are suffering in Haiti.

NOTE: I edited this post.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

There's a Light of Something Coming

From Blog10


There's a light of something coming.
I can see it in the distance,
But the details are still hidden.

If the future all lay open,
We would wreck ourselves with worry
For the dread of what was coming.

Soon enough it will be closer,
But the details are still hidden--
There's a light of something coming.

So don't ever worry about tomorrow.
After all, tomorrow will worry about itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own.

--Matthew 6:34, God's Word translation

Poem by JLS public domain. Photo ©2010 James L. Swindle

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Abandoned Church

From Blog10

It stands a sign
    that faith once bloomed
    in fertile prairie hearts,
Strong souls who built
    a place apart,
    a sacred space
    for hymns and holiness
    and God's heard word--
Where prayer perfumed the air
    and rose to very heaven.

It stands a sign,
    abandoned now to bird and vine,
    but pointing still to heaven.

Lord, hear the prayers they offered here
    and those we offer now:
Wean us from the finest things of time
    and ready us for you...and only you.

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
--Jesus, in Matthew 6:19-21.

Poem public domain. Photo ©2010 James L. Swindle.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Commoditized Religion

From Blog10

Commoditized religion,
Freely bought and sold
Like lawnmowers:

Look at all of the new features!
Ten million New Yorkers can’t be wrong!
Celebrity endorsements? Sure, we’ve got ’em.
You want movie stars? Athletes?
C’mon, pick your faith!
We’ve got superstores
And little mom-and-pops
And even nun-and-Fathers.
And this little one over here
Is just for you new parents.
Whatever you want, it’s here for the taking.
Kaballah, Jihad, retreats, space aliens,
Create-your-own universe and there-is-no-evil,
Multiple realities and words-as-force.
If you don’t see what you want,
Come back tomorrow,
And we’ll help you build your own.


Ephraim is joined to idols; leave him alone.
--Hosea 4:17

Note: I wrote this after reading RomanĂ³s' post Who forgives sin?. Do you have religion, or Jesus? All of the religion in the world won't be of any ultimate use to you without him.

This poem is public domain.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Drab Architecture

From Blog10


  Why build bleakness,
  Wall by wall,
  Rows of sameness,
  Stall by stall?
 
  Where is color,
  Beauty, style?
  Pushed down under,
  Neatly filed.


From Zion, the perfection of beauty, God appears in radiance.

--Psalm 50:2, HCSB

There´s a real value in making things beautiful, and what's beautiful doesn't have to be luxurious.

We can enjoy the Lord by enjoying beauty. Yet all of the beauty we create here will pass away. I suspect that the New Jerusalem will be more beautiful in every way than we can imagine.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Prayer for Humility

From Blog10

I'm often proud
And brassy, loud,
So all can see
The glorious me.

Lord, make me still.
My wellsprings fill
'Til bubbling through
Is only You.

For you save a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down.
--Psalm 18:27 ESV

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Whose Shoes?

From Blog10


My wife and I were at a fast-food place. I noticed that the young man cooking, who was about 18, had one black shoe and one white shoe. Then I noticed that the younger teen behind the counter (probably his brother) was wearing their mates. Both were limping slightly, since the white shoe was a bit higher than the black one.

Why? Who knows! But it made the evening more interesting for us.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Saint's Face

From Blog09

Child of wildest grace  
Clean-china shine of face  
Sign of Deity's design  
And permeated Presence  
Glow of altar coals  
Falls free on all  
About, though some doubt

Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.

--Psalm 34:5, ESV

Note: When writing this poem, I wasn't thinking of a particular person, but of the saints I've known.

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