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.