Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Rest of the Weary

From Blog11
The following hymn is by John Samuel Bewley Monsell (1811-1875). I modified the last two lines of the third stanza.

Rest of the weary, joy of the sad,
Hope of the dreary, light of the glad;
Home of the stranger, strength to the end,
Refuge from danger, Savior and Friend!

Pillow where lying, love rests its head,
Peace of the dying, life of the dead:
Path of the lowly, prize at the end,
Breath of the holy, Savior and Friend!

When my feet stumble, to Thee I’ll cry,
Crown of the humble, cross of the high;
If my steps waver, chasten me then,
Still showing favor, Savior and Friend!

Ever confessing Thee, I will raise
Unto Thee blessing, glory and praise:
All my endeavor, world without end,
Thine to be ever, Savior and Friend!

For a recording by Steve Green (with the original words), look here. The excellent tune is by Gregory Wilbur.
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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas 2011

From Blog11

Winter comes, and we remember
Christmases of long ago--
Choirs and lights and falling snow,
Joy and hope in dark December.

My friends, there fun in presents, but there's eternal joy in Jesus. Trust him today.

"Unto you is born...a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." --Luke 2:11

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Rush

From Blog11
In the harried Christmas rush,
Buying presents by the score--
Let's go check just one more store!--
All at once we sense a hush.

We're drawn back two thousand years,
Out with shepherds (flocks by night).
Suddenly, angelic light
Holds out hope to quell our fears.

On beyond our hurried fun
Is the angel's holy voice.
There's a reason to rejoice
Though our shopping's never done.

It's about a single birth:
God has come to live as man.
All our presents never can
Match that holy baby's worth.

"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, Who is Christ, the LORD."
--Luke 2:11

The illustration is one of the beautiful cards that my wife makes.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Why Should I Come to Your Church?

From Blog 11 Added Illustrations

Why should I come to your church?
For fun by the bushel and pleasures galore?
Why should I come to your church?
For screaming and laughter that grows more and more?

Why should I come to your church?
For action and music and camels and lights?
Why should I come to your church?
For Santa and reindeer and sweet starry nights?

Where is the Lord in your church?
Drowned out by the noise? Maybe outside the door?
No, I won't come to your church
If Jesus the Savior is not at the core.

For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
--1 Corinthians 2:2 ESV

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
--Philippians 3:7-8 ESV

I try to balance serious poems with more encouraging ones.  I've broken that rule by posting this. I wish I could say this church scene is a fake, but it isn't. However, there ARE good, faithful churches.

Audio/E-Bible Bargains and Book of the Year

Audio Bibles - You can download the whole Bible in audio, a quite good reading of a quite good translation, for free here. It's free and legal to reproduce, so long as you don't sell it. If you find it as helpful as I have, you may want to purchase something from audiotreasure.com, to support their work, or may want to donate to the tranlator.
Through December 24, you can get the ESV Hear the Word audio Bible for $14.48 from ChristianAudio.com. They also have excellent prices on other audio Bibles. If you want just the New Testament, consider the ESV reading by Marquis Laughlin, for $7.98.(Stay away from The Message, please.)

ESV Reference Bible, EPUB format is available free from echristian.com. (Don't confuse a "reference Bible" with a "study Bible." A reference Bible normally has cross-references, maps and a concordance (index). A study Bible normally has a lot of explanatory notes.)

Book of the Year
The book I've found most helpful this year is Justification and Regeneration by Charles Leiter. It explains the new life in Christ. It's simple enough for a fairly new believer and deep enough for a pastor to profit from. The book is available in PDF format, in seven languages, here. It's available in a high-quality paperback for only $5 from the publisher, Granted Ministries. Read it. Buy more than one copy, so you can give them away.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Choose

From Blog 11 Added Illustrations

You must choose just whom you'll serve,
Whom you'll follow and adore.
Will you choose the gods who've failed?
Those that made you dreaded slaves?
Or the LORD who sets you free?
You must choose, and choose today.
Once you've chosen, you will serve,
So choose  your master well.
Choose today--now!--whom you'll serve.
As for me? I'll serve the LORD.

If you are not willing to serve him, decide today whom you will serve, the gods your ancestors worshiped in Mesopotamia or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are now living. As for my family and me, we will serve the LORD.
--Joshua 24:15, Good News Bible

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Waiting for His Boat

                             image by Mostafa Habibi

He waited all his life for such a boat...
A simple boat--two oars, no more...
To take him places where he'd never been.

At last, at last, his boat came in,
But he was old and gray and bound
By all the things that now had been.

And so he saw the boat and sighed
And looked around and blinked back tears
And grieved for all that might have been.



Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
What does man gain by all the toil
at which he toils under the sun?
--Ecclesiastes 1:2-3 ESV

Note: Ecclesiastes is the book of the Bible that deals with life "under the sun." It tells of the futility of the best things this world has to offer.

For other people's thoughts prompted by the same image, click here.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Borders--Open or Shut

From Blog11
We failed to guard our Borders,
And now they're no longer open.
No one gets in or out.
No one climbs for the American dream.
Instead, there's just a memory
On this side of the Borders.
 
 
You must regard the foreigner who lives with you as the native-born among you. You are to love him as yourself, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt; I am Yahweh your God.   --Leviticus 19:34
 
Therefore, circumcise your hearts and don’t be stiff-necked any longer. For the Lord your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, mighty, and awesome God, showing no partiality and taking no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner, giving him food and clothing. You also must love the foreigner, since you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.  --Deuteronomy 10:16-19

Are you puzzled by this photo? This helps explain it.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Work for Food



          Lunch, George Tooker, 1964, Columbus Museum of Art

Work for food your whole life long,
Food that cannot satisfy...
First you're young and firm and strong.
Then you're old, and then you die.

Is this all there is for you?
What's the meaning of it all?
Is there nothing more to do?
Can't you hear the Master's call?

There is more, much more, my friend.
There's a glow that's ever new
And strong life that has no end
And a vibrant work to do.

Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal. --Jesus, in John 6:27

Come, everyone who thirsts,

     come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
     come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
     without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
     and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
     and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
     hear, that your soul may live;
and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
     my steadfast, sure love for David.
--Isaiah 55:1-3 ESV
For other people's thoughts on this same painting, click here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Jesus, Clean My Mind

From Blog11

Jesus, clean my mind,
For I've been dull and blind.
Wash me deep within
And scrub out all my sin.

Jesus, free my will,
And I'll be captive still--
Not to sin and shame,
But to your holy name.

Jesus, make my heart
All new--a holy start.
Hostile to your law,
My old was cold and raw.

Jesus, kill my past--
The works that could not last.
May I--clean--find place
In you, the LORD of grace.

And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh...  --Ezekiel 11:19 ESV
Poem ©2011 and photo ©2010 by James L. Swindle. You may print up to 100 copies for non-commercial use, so long as you include the copyright notice.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Yesterday's Dreams

photo: Christine Donnier-Valentin

Yesterday's dreams
Sit by the side of the road,
Leaning against the dreams
Of the days--
Of the years--
Before them.

Now nobody stops for them.
Nobody treasures them.
They're still dreams--
As plump as ever,
As pink as ever.
But they're
Yesterday's dreams.


My days are past; my plans are broken off,
the desires of my heart. --Job 17:11

When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish. --Psalm 146:4

But he who is noble plans noble things,
and on noble things he stands. --Isaiah 32:8

For more people's thoughts about this photo, click here.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Prayer, 2011

From Blog11

Thank you, Father, for this meal--
Fall's abundance, richly spread.
Thank you for the love we feel
And for ways that you have led.

Thank you for our family--
Those who gather with us here
And the ones we cannot see.
(Maybe in another year?)

Thank you most of all for Christ,
Your dear Son, our hope, our Lord.
Life for sinners sacrificed,
Risen so that we're restored.

Bless us, Father, as we meet.
Add your salt to what we say

As we talk and laugh and eat.
May your Spirit rule today.


Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt,
so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

--Colossians 4:6, ESV

From Blog11

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Herbert Fuchs: A Tale of War and Providence and Hope

From Blog11

It must have been Herbert Fuchs's worst nightmare. It was the latter half of World War II. He was a soldier in the German army, and was captured by the Americans. What followed was nothing he could have imagined. He, along with other prisoners, was shipped across the ocean--how, I'll never know. Then followed days of travel on a train with blacked-out windows, so the soldiers couldn't know where they were going. Had he heard of the German concentration camps? Had he heard rumors of what went on there? His hope must have been as thin as a razor blade.

He and the other prisoners of war were unloaded in a place that looked nothing like Germany. One fellow said, "Siberia." But as he finally arrived at his destination, he quickly discovered that he wasn't in Siberia, but in America. He wasn't in a torture prison, but in a camp in a rural area. He was (he eventually learned) in a place called Nebraska, far from any town. Then, one day, he and other prisoners were asked whether they'd volunteer to work on a nearby farm. That made sense, since the young farm men were off to war, just as they were back home in Germany. He went. To his delight, there were no bars, no barbed wire keeping him in. No armed guards. No guards at all. The Americans were trusting that those weren't needed, so far from town, so far from everything.

What was even more amazing to him: On that farm, the people's first language was German. Not only that, but they treated him and his fellow-prisoners as people, not as swine. They expected him to work, but he had food and clothing and shelter. The wiry farm wife, Marie, fixed ample German meals. Sometimes he would steal glances at the farmer's beautiful daughters. They were near his age, and some of them were beautiful. Two taught school in the nearby town. Two were still students. Sometimes they would all visit. The one teacher was married, and worried about her husband as he worried about his family in Germany.

Finally, the war ended. Herbert went back to Germany, forever thankful that he'd been captured. He saw devastation in Germany, but he had hope.

He sent gifts to his former captors. I know, because my mother was that married teacher. She always kept the little engraved acrylic box that he sent her (really, that he sent her husband, since that was proper) from occupied Germany. She was confident that he'd made it himself, just as he'd painted scenes on little pieces of wood that he gave her parents. She kept and treasured the box.

I'm not sure what ever happened to the box, but I still have the front of the wrapper. Maybe Herbert Fuchs's family will see this, and will fill in more details of what happened to him later.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Where Have All the Children Gone?

image source: Google images, unknown photographer

Where have all the children gone?
The little girls
With baby curls?

Where have all the children gone?
The little boys
With macho toys?

Dead for our convenience,
Our pride and fears,
Our big careers.

Dead for our convenience,
No graves to mark
Their holy spark.

Where have all the children gone?
The chumps, the champs,
The saints, the scamps?

Where have all the children gone?
Sure as winds blow,
I think you know.

For you formed my inward parts;
      you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
      I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 

(Psalm 139:13-14 ESV)

Remember that whatever you have done wrong in the past, God offers you forgiveness. Turn from your sin and your self. Turn to Jesus. Read about him in the Bible; grow in him with his people. 

For more people's thoughts on this same image, click here.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Hidden Core


As the core of the apple is seldom admired,
But guards the seed that may grow
And produce apples in abundance,
So the heart of the faithful may be overlooked,
Though it bears precious seed that may grow
And produce abundantly fruit for the Kingdom.

Lord, guard our hearts.
Protect our cores
From the worm of immorality
And the rot of doubt.
Protect our hearts
And grow your fruit
That more may taste
And see that the Lord is good.

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
--Psalm 34:8

Monday, November 07, 2011

Misunderstanding the Bible



If we're to understand the Bible correctly, we must follow sound principles of interpretation. For example, take a passage literally unless there's a clear reason (from the text) not to take it literally. In this particular case (John 21:17), since Peter and the other Apostles specifically avoided working as food servers (see Acts 6), it's clear that Jesus was speaking of feeding them spiritually.

You may be thinking that I have no sense of humor. I do, in fact, have a sense of humor (see my other blog), but we must guard against being flippant about holy things.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Graveyard


Moss and lichen slowly mar
Monuments we’d made to last.
We can liken every scar
To our lives, so quickly past.

Deep beneath are mold and dust,
Bones that know no movement now.
I am growing old, but trust
God will raise me up somehow.

Jesus pioneered the way--
Rose in victory and lives!
He will come again some day,
And I'll share the life he gives.

So is it with the resurrection of the dead.
What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable.

--1 Corinthians 15:42 ESV

My thanks to Tess at Magpie Tales for the image. For other people's thoughts prompted by the same image, follow the link.

See also Sir Walter Raleigh's Epitaph, from which I borrowed a rhyme.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Autumn's Arrival

From Blog11
Autumn air,
    Crisp as apples,
Says the summer's heat is past.

Leaves are falling,
   Geese are flying.
Soon the snow will fly at last.


Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest
is a faithful messenger to those who send him;
he refreshes the soul of his masters.

--Proverbs 25:13 ESV


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Monday, October 31, 2011

Inkpots and Typewriters and Grace

They say Martin Luther once flung an ink-pot at the devil, leaving a stain on the wall. We might chuckle or say he was crazy, but have we turned history right-side-up as he did?

Luther discovered (re-discovered) the biblical doctrine of justification by faith: We're made right with God not by our many right works, prescribed by the church or the Pope, but by simply turning from our sins to Jesus the Christ, who died for sinners and rose from the dead. (See the Bible's book of Romans.)Today, the 31st of October, is Reformation Day, when many churches celebrate Luther's work.

When I was young, we used typewriters, not ink-pots. I went through a university using the same portable typewriter that my mother and her sisters had used in college. As a graduation present, I got a shiny new blue electric Smith-Corona typewriter. I went through theological seminary on it. Now I have a computer and an inkjet printer. I can write all I want, with ease, but have not sparked any severe persecution. Lord, have mercy on me, a coward.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." --Ephesians 2:8-9

For other people's thoughts on this image, click here. For the image source, click here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Flint Corn

From Blog11

An almost-Mondrian
Mosaic of colored corn
Tells of autumn abundance,
Of feasting after famine
At Plimoth Plantation.

The husks are swept back
Like grateful tears,
And at every movement
Whisper our thanks.




Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous,
and give thanks to his holy name!
--Psalm 97:12


Note: The swept-back husks also, less profoundly, reminded me of this.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

When Tyrants Die

From Blog11
The celebration's high
When wicked tyrants die,
And yet I do not gloat.

      Each tyrant is a soul
      That could have been made whole--
      Not just some dog or goat.

      I grieve the twisted mind,
      The cruel heart--dead, blind,
      Eternally now lost.

      I also grieve the men
      They executed when
      They were in charge--dread cost!

      Let others jubilate
      And dance at ev'ry gate
      And sing a vengeful note.

The celebration's high
When wicked tyrants die,
And yet I do not gloat.

When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices,
    and when the wicked perish there are shouts of gladness.

--Proverbs 11:10, ESV

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pride

From Blog11


Pride is such a deadly snare,
Satan's own belov├ęd sin.
It can strip your spirit bare;
Leave you dark and dead within.

Are you proud of all you've done,
Your accomplishments, your ways?
All your good came from God's Son.
Your own works are smoke and haze.

Flee from pride. Yes, run--don't walk.
Ask the Lord to give you grace
To accept the lowest place
While your peers get praiseful talk.


Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
--1 Peter 5:5 ESV

Sunday, October 16, 2011

As Easy as Duck Soup


"It's easy as duck soup," he said.

I thought of buying a duck
That hung in the market,
And of the work of making oodles of noodles
Starting with flour and egg,
And of the work of picking or pickling
Savory herbs for flavor.
I thought of simmering soup for hours.

Yes, it was as easy as duck soup,
And maybe I'd make it tomorrow,
But today my heart melts
With sympathies felt
For the duck.

The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside!
I shall be killed in the streets!” --Proverbs 22:13


Image courtesy Leon Benjamin. Click this link to see the full photo in its original location.
For more people's thoughts about dead ducks, look here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Abandoning All

From Blog11

Thoughts On Mark 10:28-31

Abandoning all
On hearing the call,
Nets now dry,
Boat up high.
They follow Jesus,
Go where he pleases,
Even toward Jerusalem,
Wondering--Will we die with him?
And all for what?
To be forgot?
Each sacrifice
Is repaid thrice
And dozens more.
God has in store
Yet in this life--
Both house and wife,
Abundant lands and sons--
And in the age to come
For all his sons (his friends)--
Full life that never ends.
___________________
What have you left behind?
What did you abandon,
Forsake, destroy, cut off?
Did you give up anything?
Did you give up dreams of wealth?
Did you give up this world's fame?
What have you left behind?
Did you give up all you were,
Your self-sustained morality,
Your pride, your prejudice, your gods?
What habits have you killed?
What did you abandon?
What have you left behind?
_____________________
It's not enough to leave things behind.
We must also follow Jesus.
Not just go visit him now and then;
We must follow him.

    Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
--Mark 10:28-31 ESV

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Little Kings






We strut across our fleeting page
As if we'll last from age to age.
We think we're royalty, divine,
And everywhere we look, say, "Mine!"
And I'm a king, and you're a king,

And may our praises ever ring...

And yet we're really growing old
As fast as coffee's growing cold.







As for man, his days are like grass;
    he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
    and its place knows it no more.
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 103:15-18 ESV


My thanks to Magpie Tales for the image. For other people's thoughts on the same picture, follow the link.
This original poem is public domain.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

An Elephant with Feathers

From Blog11

If you meet an elephant with feathers,
Do not ask about the weather.
That big beast might start to fly,
And if it crashed--well, you might die!
So, do not dawdle! Do not wait,
Or you just might be too late!

Just run away in ANY weather
If you see an elephant with feathers.

_______________________________

Keep me safe, O God,
for in you I take refuge.

--Psalm 16:1, NIV84

Even small children can learn that the Lord is their safe place, their refuge when they face real and imagined danger.

This poem ©2005 by James L. Swindle, is from the book If I Had a Purple Horse.

For more people's thoughts about flying elephants, look here.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Grackles

From Blog11
Black clothespins on a line,
A gossip of grackles
Cackles the latest
News from the wire.

Almost crowded,
They sit above the crowd of traffic...
Needing no gasoline,
Depending entirely on electricity.

Look at the birds of the sky:
They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns,
yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Aren’t you worth more than they?

      --Matthew 6:26 HCSB

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Find the Truth

From Blog11
Find the truth that meets each test,
Not the lie that suits you best.
Lies may come in cleanest coats
So your fleshly nature gloats
In their glory (though there's none).
So, beware. Don't stand with them. Run!

Truth gets clearer day by day
As you walk Christ's narrow way.
Slowly see your light increase.
Grow each day in grace and peace.
Lies will flicker, falter, fade
As the fuller truth's displayed.

Rather, speaking the truth in love,
we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head,
into Christ...

--Ephesians 4:15

This original poem is public domain. The photo is ©2011 James L. Swindle

Monday, September 26, 2011

What I Owe the Lord

From Blog11
What, LORD, do I owe?
Every minute, every second,
Every dollar, every penny,
Every hope and dream
And every waking thought.
LORD, that's what I owe.
You have bought me.
I'm your slave,
And blessed to be your slave.
Do, LORD, what you will.  

For he who is called by the Lord as a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called as a free man is Christ’s slave. --1 Corinthians 7:22 HCSB  

For am I now trying to win the favor of people, or God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a •slave of Christ. --Galatians 1:10 HCSB

This particular poem and photo are public domain. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Not from Here

From Blog11

I'm not from around these parts.
No sir, I'm a citizen of another place...
A place where you've never been,
Where dollars won't do you any good.

You'll understand why I love it,
When I tell you it's a place
Where there's no crime,
No sickness,
No death.

I like it here,
But sometimes I really get home-sick.

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

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Rich Men and God's Kingdom


It’s easier to shrink a camel, making it near microscopic,
Than to get a rich man into God’s kingdom.
It’s not that money’s evil,
      Nor that having lots of it is evil.
It’s that loving it—loving any of it—is evil.
It’s not that poverty is good, nor that wealth is bad.
It’s that money can quickly become a god,
      A false god that embezzles the souls of its followers.
The rich who chase money
      In the end are destitute and damned,
            Lockout out of God’s kingdom,
            Eternally lost.
They have made the worst financial bargain possible,
Trading eternal riches
For temporary pleasure.
They are proud of their wealth,
But end up more broke than the beggars they’ve despised.

Who is your god today?
What is your hope today?


It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. --Mark 10:25

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Quote on Forgiveness, and a Poem

From Blog11
The question of forgiveness is not a moral issue. We do not forgive because it is the “correct” thing to do. We forgive because it is the true nature of the life in Christ. --Father Stephen
I'm not sure I fully understand the rest of the blog post from which I've lifted this quote, but these sentences ring true. In a sense, all moral issues aren't really moral issues. They are life-in-Christ issues. Good morals flow from the Holy Spirit who is in those of us who believe in the Savior.

Forgiveness, like a river,
Flows from faith in Christ.
It flows right on forever
From his sacrifice.

And if I try to dam the flow,
Stop the endless love,
I find my thoughts are damned, below,
Not on things above.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
--Colossians 3:2, ESV

Photo ©2011 James L. Swindle. This particular poem by JLS is public domain.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tennis Shoes by Moonlight

From Blog11
Tennis shoes by moonlight
Tell a hanging tale
Of costly teenage pranks.
Wired, they wait for years
And walk by day and night
Whenever there's a wind.
Perhaps they'll dance tonight.

Does not he see my ways and number all my steps?
--Job 31:4 ESV


Photos and poem ©2011 James L. Swindle

Saturday, September 10, 2011

September 11th: Five Lessons America Missed

1. The attack wasn't the fruit of generic terrorism. It was the fruit of Islamic jihad.
2. Not all sincerely-held beliefs are equal.
3. We face an even bigger threat from the federal government and the military-security complex than from Islamic jihad. Government has the power to destroy more lives.
4. The American people are more interested in feeling safe than in being safe.
5. Our security as a nation is found in the Lord's protection, not in military might nor in freedom from religion.


Psalm 3
A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.
1 O LORD, how many are my foes!
        Many are rising against me;
2 many are saying of my soul,
        there is no salvation for him in God. Selah
3 But you, O LORD, are a shield about me,
        my glory, and the lifter of my head.
4 I cried aloud to the LORD,
        and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah
5 I lay down and slept;
        I woke again, for the LORD sustained me.
6 I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
        who have set themselves against me all around.
7 Arise, O LORD! Save me, O my God!
        For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
        you break the teeth of the wicked.
8 Salvation belongs to the LORD;
        your blessing be on your people! Selah
____________________________________________________

O LORD, forgive us for our blindness.
Have mercy on those for whom this day's memories are a horror.
Grant us hearts to turn from sin and to trust in you.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Abandoned Farm


Their roots went deep, they said, into the land...
But not as deep, it seems, as one spring's rut.
The wagon sank;
Their faint hearts sank.
"Say, neighbor, can you lend a hand?"
But still the wagon sat there in the mud.

They left the wagon there that spring.
A few more springs and falls and snow
And they abandoned everything
And left. Where, I don't know.

And let us not be weary in well doing:
for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

--Galatians 6:9 KJV

My thanks to Magpie Tales for the photo that prompted this poem. Follow the link to find other people's thoughts on the same image.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Joy of Work

From Blog11
What a joy it is to work
Day by day from sun to sun.
Help me, Lord, so I won't shirk,
But work hard until I'm done.

What a joy it is to rest
Week by week in faith and peace,
Knowing that you, Lord, are best,
And your mercies never cease.

Work and rest in balance lie,
Each a joy if done for you.
So I'll work and rest, then die,
And then rise to rest in you.

So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God...
--Hebrews 4:9

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Garaged


Wicker baskets,
Rubber gaskets,
Auto waxes,
Last year's taxes,
Extra flooring
(Worth the storing?),
Plastic tubing,
Grease for lubing,
Garden shoes,
Lots of screws,
Air compressor,
One old dresser.

Life's detritus
Come to meet us.

And the world is passing away along with its desires,
but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

--1 John 2:17

Friday, August 26, 2011

Polio and a Greater Danger

From Old Family Photos


One of the defining events of my life occurred before I can remember. When I was about a year and a half old, I got polio. The family story is that I was in the hospital, partly paralyzed, not getting any better. On a Wednesday night, all of the churches of our tiny town of Vici, Oklahoma, prayed for me. The next morning I was getting better. My only long-term after-effects, other than gratitude, have been that I was over-protected as a child (which is understandable) and that when I'm very tired I have a noticeable limp. (One leg is a bit longer than the other, but that's true of lots of people who have not had polio.)

The photo above was taken in Vici that year, probably after I was back from the hospital. Dad's relatives seemingly rallied around us in the crisis and came hundreds of miles for a visit. I'm thankful for that. Yet they didn't realize that they faced a bigger danger than polio. That bigger danger: ignoring the salvation that the Lord offers. Uncle Pod (next to my mother, who was holding me) may have been a real Christian. I never knew him well. Next to him is his wife, Aunt Neva. She had a drinking problem beginning in her teens, and died an alcoholic. Uncle Bud and Aunt Myrtle (on the right) were decent people, but so far as I know never felt any need for Jesus nor for the church. Children made them nervous. Their world seemed to revolve around work and home and money.

Polio can cripple or kill the body.
Jesus said, "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28). He also said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6).

If we love our families, we should work and pray for them to be rescued from the danger that's much greater than polio.


So short, so short, this single life.
So long, so long, eternity.
So deep, so deep, Christ's sacrifice.
So high, so high, his call--my plea.

How long, how long, will you seek fun?
How long, how long, will you not see?
How far, how far, will you still run?
How bad, how bad, will your end be?

So clean, so clean, forgiving grace.
So pure, so pure, God's ways for man.
So great, so great, the final Place.
So wise, so wise, the Father's plans.

And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
--Joel 2:32a

Friday, August 19, 2011

Torn

From Blog11


Torn between two worlds,
Giving his body to fleshly desires,
Coming to hear the word of the LORD,
He acts like his actions aren't plain as the night;
He will not forsake them; won't turn to what's right.

Thus he stands apart,
Not fully in and not fully out,
Keeping his past and chasing the LORD.
He acts like his sins are not blatant and bold.
He comes to the fire, but his heart is still cold.


...he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

--James 1:8 ESV

Written to describe a young man whose name I don't know, who sometimes attends my church. May the Lord grant him repentance. The photo illustration is someone else.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Fear of the Holy

What is that which gleams through me
And smites my heart without wounding it?
I both a-shudder and aglow.
A-shudder, in so far as I am unlike it,
aglow in so far as I am like it.
--St. Augustine,
as quoted in chapter 3 of
The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul.

From Blog11

Like a moth to the flame
I am drawn to Your fire,
To the awe of Your name:
You are all I desire.

I approach You with dread.
You could burn me to ash,
Leave me consciously dead,
Throw me out with the trash.

Yet I come--yes, I must
Seek to know You, the One
Whom to know is to trust--
Though I fear I'm undone.

And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”
--Isaiah 6:5 ESV

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Devil and the Holy Seed



Kill them! Kill them all--
The better, the more--
And don't forget the best!
We must, we must kill the best.


This has been the devil's theme
Throughout our generations.
He hates the holy seed.

Satan, his unholiness,
Has attacked the seed
Has hacked at the seed
With deadly creativity.

He ordered the killing of
All male babies
Among the Hebrews in Egypt.

He set himself as a king:
A hungry Moloch god
Who loved to smell some babies burn.

Then his sandalled soldiers
Dashed the children on the rocks
Or ripped them from the womb
Or brought starvation
Until mothers ate their own.

Foul Herod filled Bethlehem's streets
With holy babies' blood.

Now he's still at work,
Wiping out the godly seed--
With gay pride days (no babies there)
And family planning clinics
That think of children as a disease
That swift dismemberment will cure.

His hosts pollute with porn
Promoting childless pleasures
And offer drugs the morning after--
Insecticide for infant infestations.

The devil hates the godly seed.


Sons are indeed a heritage from the Lord,
      children, a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
      are the sons born in one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has filled his quiver with them.

--Psalm 127:3-5a, HCSB

Monday, August 08, 2011

I Walked by Water



I walked by water
On my left
And with a wall
Upon my right.

I walked through years
Full of joy
And walked through days
Full of night.

I could not see
Around the bend,
But I can say
The walk's been good.

I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all that you have done;
I ponder the work of your hands.

--Psalm 143:5 ESV

Monday, August 01, 2011

Aermotor Memories

Horses made the bit go 'round
When they dug the well--
And they dug it well--
Back in 1921.

Aermotor skimmed the sky,
Water filled the tank,
All the cattle drank--
Drank for decades, never dry.

The the times--they changed for all.
The barnyard? Sold and gone,
Empty as a yawn,
And the windmill's on that wall.


O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
    my soul thirsts for you;
    my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

--Psalm 63:1 ESV
(A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah)

Image from Skip Hunt, via Magpie Tales. Click the link for other people's thoughts prompted by this image.

This particular poem is public domain.
August 5, 2011 - I corrected the spelling after Bill Ragle pointed out to me that the company was and is called Aermotor, not Aeromotor. The company and Bill live in west Texas.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My Sin, His Presence



Worse am I than you could know,
In myself, my sin, my shame,
If I am myself alone.

But alone am I no more:
Christ himself now lives in me;
His great glory shines within.



I don't need horror movies to see evil.
I've seen the evil in me.


I am about to gather them from all the lands where I have banished them in My anger, rage and great wrath, and I will return them to this place and make them live in safety.
--Jeremiah 32:37

Friday, July 22, 2011

Marks of Idolatry


How do I know when something is becoming an idol in my life?
--When one or more Christians who know me well warn me about it.
--When I want it with me 24 hours a day.
--When I think about it repeatedly as I'm drifting off to sleep.
--When I feel compelled to do it or to use it.
--When I check on it the first thing in the morning, the last thing at night, even though nothing bad would happen if I didn't check on it.
--When it crowds out the time that should belong to my family and my God and my neighbors.
--When I begin to think of myself in terms of "I'm a ________ person."
--When I feel powerless to control it.
--When I show it off repeatedly to all of my friends.
--When I'm embarrassed by how much time and money and pain and effort I've spent on it.

Little children, guard yourselves from idols.
--1 John 5:21

Monday, July 18, 2011

Nightly Frogs


Nightly frogs sing in chorus,
Croaking ancient mating songs.
Though the music's not meant for us,
It awakens fire that longs
For a thing I can't describe.
Thank you, Lord, for the frog tribe.

Then God said, “Let the earth produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that crawl, and the wildlife of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. So God made the wildlife of the earth according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and creatures that crawl on the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
--Genesis 1:24-25 HCSB

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Trendy Christianity


Trying to be trendy while looking down at those who aren't, is sin.
Bending toward the culture of others as an act of love is a virtue--whether their culture is trendy or Amish.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Devil Is a Tiger and a Snake



Oh, the devil is a tiger and a snake. (Yes, sir!)
A tiger and a snake is he. (Oh, no!)
He'd eat you and you'd end up in the lake (Of fire!)
Yes, the lake of fire is where he'll be. (Don't go!)

So, you don't be paying him no fees. (Not one!)
You don't owe him a single thing. (You're free!)
He'd rob you, stealing everything he sees.(Bar none!)
Resist him and your soul will sing. (Glory!)


Be sober-minded; be watchful.
Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion,
seeking someone to devour.

--1 Peter 5:8 ESV

And the great dragon was thrown down,
that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan,
the deceiver of the whole world—
he was thrown down to the earth,
and his angels were thrown down with him.

--Revelation 12:9 ESV



So, how can your soul be free? How can you resist the devil? Only through Jesus and the power of his Holy Spirit. This little sing-song poem speaks of the most serious matter there is: Your eternal destiny. Will you turn from your sin now? Will you turn from the devil and his ways? Will you rush to Jesus? You won't be free until you do. You won't be safe until you do.

Photos ©2011 James L. Swindle.
Poem by JLS is public domain.

I wrote of a tiger instead of a lion, since a tiger is what I'd seen recently.