Sunday, January 30, 2011

Meeting Temptation

From Blog11

The demons tempt me in the night.
They offer sex and shock and lust.
Their clever words are only lies
Designed to pull me from my Lord.

My Lord, protect me from their tricks.
Expose their filth, their putrid fruit.
Unarm them with your words of truth.
Defend the edges of my soul.

My soul will sing--delighted, dance.
I'll celebrate with all I am
Deliverance from demons' lies,
This holy time within your truth.

And do not bring us into into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.

--Matthew 6:13 HCSB

Friday, January 28, 2011

Listening in the Night

From Blog11

In the deep of the night
When most are asleep
I'm up for a while.
The orange cat greets me
With human intonations.
He knows the patterns of my speech
And mimics them, explaining his emotions.
A train goes by, whistling a chord
And rumbling, rumbling, rumbling into the distance.
On the wall, the clock clicks, ticks, tocks.
I hardly ever hear it in the day.
Another train approaches.
The black cat grooms himself noisily,
Then purrs as I stroke him.
Trucks on the tollway make a hum at times.
The furnace blower whirs to life.
Ducts pop and snap to attention.
The clock ticks on.
The furnace whirs
And the second train is finally gone.

...Even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.

(Psalm 139:12 ESV)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Signs of Winter

The signs of winter will not wait--
The leaden clouds that hang in gloom,
The chill that blows right through the room,
The frost upon the garden gate--

But in my soul? A different thing.
I find its weather's not from here.
It's from another hemisphere.
Yes, deep within my soul it's spring.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
--Philippians 4:4 ESV

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

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Prayer for Renewal

From Blog11

Father, when our eyes grow dim,
Filled with cobwebs of our past,
Hardly ever seeing Him
Who's the First, the Best, the Last,

Clear the clutter from our shelves.
Scrape away the filth, the rust.
Re-arrange our very selves.
Vacuum out the piles of dust.

Shine your light upon our souls.
Wash away the years of grime.
Make your dirty servants whole
So we will redeem the time.

Fill our shelves with just one Book.
Make us busy in what's right,
So the passing world will look
And see Your own holy light.

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

Poem and photo ©2011 James L. Swindle. You may print up to 100 copies for non-commercial use, so long as you don't modify it and you include the copyright notice.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Snowy Ladies

A faded print from long ago:
Three sturdy ladies in the snow
Prepared for fun out on the ice,
And maybe falling once or twice.
They're all together, yet apart.
Each gaze reflects a different heart.
Contentment, sass and prim reserve,
And yet I think they each deserve
A sturdy man to share their days,
An Adam to return Eve's gaze.

Have you entered the storehouses of the snow...?
--Job 38:22
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

I'm almost certain that the devices around the ladies' necks are clip-on ice skates, designed to fasten onto the soles of their shoes or boots.

The interesting image is courtesy of Magpie Tales. Click the link to see other people's ideas about this photo. This particular new poem is public domain.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My Sign

From Blog11

I need no mystic sign
Of magic's ancient lore;
No puzzling rune, occult design
Discovered on some pagan floor.

My sign's the simple cross:
Bare intersect of line
That speaks of blood and loss,
Of sacrifice divine.

This sign is now to me
Far more than luck or fame.
It's utter victory
In Jesus' mighty name.

So mock it, if you will,
For its simplicity.
This sign will triumph still
Beyond all history.

But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
(Galatians 6:14 ESV)

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 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith...
(Philippians 3:8-9 ESV)

In reality, the cross is important only because of what Jesus did on the cross.

Poem ©2011 James L. Swindle. You may print up to 100 copies for non-commercial use. For other uses, leave a comment. I'm eager to enable you to use these poems for the Lord's glory.

Monday, January 17, 2011


From Blog11

This poem is based on a dim memories of poems I read decades ago, including Eve Merriam's "How to Eat a Poem." If you know of another source, let me know, and I'll give credit.

Some poems are slippery snakes
Slithering out of your grasp.
Some are stately buildings
With firmly fluted columns.
Others are otters playing in a pool,
Twisting joyously end-over-end.
Still others are elegant Tiffany eggs,
Precious, but without substance.
All revel in the wonder of words
Artfully arranged and carefully cropped.

There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning...
--1 Corinthians 14:10

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A New Home

From Blog11

Almost anyone can make a house--
Old cardboard or a tent will do.
But only God can make a home
Where faith and love keep shining through.

Yet thanks to God for something more
Than walls and ceiling and a floor.
Thank God for all the little things
That help to keep our hearts on wings--

The beauty of each window pane,
The walls so fresh, without a stain,
The beds, the tables...yes, the lawn.
This list keeps going on and on!

Each is a blessing sent to give
Us joy and pleasure where we live;
Reflections dim of what well see
So fully in eternity.

Unless the LORD builds the house,
      those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
      the watchman stays awake in vain.

--Psalm 127:1

Written for the dedication of our home, held September 2, 1994. Public domain. The photo doesn't include my home; I took it when visiting Tucson.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Songs of Heaven

In my ears I'm almost hearing
Still-unwritten songs of heaven--
Stanzas full of deepest meaning
For the washed and the forgiven.

Mighty choruses are swelling
Into joyous rolling thunder
As the saints are ever telling
God's great glory--rapt with wonder.

Then a sweet tune's almost whispered
Honoring the Lamb, the Savior
Who is also the great Shepherd
Saints are singing this forever.

Can you hear them? Are you seeing?
Is your soul washed clean, forgiven?
In my ears I'm almost hearing
Still-unwritten songs of heaven.

And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.
--Revelation 21:23 ESV

My thanks to Magpie Tales for the image. For more musical musings (by other people), follow the link.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Thoughts on Tucson's Tragedy

The tragedy in Tucson is somewhat personal to me, since I have relatives there and have visited there multiple times. Here are some thoughts.

1. Various people are suggesting that we need new laws to help prevent this sort of thing. While we may need changes to laws, now is not the time to have a balanced view of what's needed. As Marvin Olasky pointed out a couple of weeks ago, people my age can't remember a single law that was passed as a result of President Kennedy's assassination. We should not assume that every tragedy requires new laws.

2. Someone suggested making it illegal to have a firearm within 1000 feet of government officials, from the President down to Congressmen. I don't think those officials are any more important than many other people, such as heart surgeons, godly pastors, and mothers of young children. We don't need a special group of laws for every group of people.

3. Lots of people think government is either the source of all of our problems or the solution to all of our problems. Both groups are wrong. If we didn't make an idol out of politics, Congressmen wouldn't seem so important. Their work is valuable, but as a society we over-value it, since we over-value our political positions. Our idolatry of politics is a major part of what makes being a Congressman dangerous.

4. The young man who did the shooting appears to have been both crazy and evil. If we pretend that he was only one or only the other, we won't deal wisely with similar people in the future.

5. It's extremely hard to determine which people are spectacularly dangerous.
--I had a neighbor who was depressed, suicidal and erratic. Once he accidentally left live bullets strewn across the welcome mat outside his apartment. I managed to persuade him that he wasn't a safe person to have a gun, and he and I took it to the police station and left it there, but so far as I know, he never did bodily harm to anyone.
--I had another neighbor who was polite, soft-spoken, and always under control. He tried to set his house on fire with his wife and child inside.
--I knew a lady through Sunday School who seemed a bit odd, but harmless. She went to prison for beating her child to death.
--I spoke once to a fellow who seemed ordinary. Not long after, he was arrested and charged with murder.

6. There's plenty of blame to go around. We can point it all out, but the ultimate blame rests with the person who did the killing. We could blame any or all of the following:
--The booksellers or librarians who enabled him to read a couple of his favorite books, Mein Kampf and Das Kapital.
--The people who made and sold the gun and the ammunition.
--The politicians and political commentators who created a climate of hatred.
--The people who pushed for policies that keep people like him out of mental hospitals (though there's a lot to like about keeping them out of those hospitals).
--The people who promoted Satanism and other false religions. (He reportedly had an altar with candles and a skull, which I think was artificial.)
--The sellers of the illegal drugs that he'd used.
--The sellers of violent video games. I don't know whether he used those.
--The people who knew him and didn't warn authorities.
--Anyone who knew him and didn't share the gospel with him.
--The Founding Fathers, who created a democratic form of government, which is subject to such abuses.
--Those who didn't pray for him, or for their judges and Congressmen and neighbors.

Yes, there's plenty of blame to go around. May we repent of our own sin and pray for the families (including the suspect's family). May we also not put any more blame on any group than it deserves. One person pulled the trigger.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Prayer for Courage

From Blog11

God, give me steel in my convictions--
Not the steel of arrogant pride,
Nor the steel of the duped fanatic,
But the steel of knowing you--
Knowing you so very well
That nothing can disturb my faith.

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
--1 Corinthians 16:13 ESV

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Apart from You

From Blog11

Apart from you, Lord, we are blind.
Anoint our eyes.
Unclog our minds
That we may see reality.

And without you, Lord, we are poor--
We're naked, huddling out-of-doors.
Lord, be our wealth, food, clothes and health.
Remove our shame through your great name.

Apart from you, Lord, we are dead--
Mere mannequins that talk and strut.
Lord, be our life, our fountain sure,
Our perfect prize, both fresh and pure.

Because you say, 'I'm rich; I have become wealthy, and need nothing,' and you don't know that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire so that you may be rich, and white clothes so that you may be dressed and your shameful nakedness not be exposed, and ointment to spread on your eyes so that you may see.
--Revelation 3:17-18, HCSB

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Prayer for Revival

From Blog10

Lord Jesus,
You did many miracles;
Signs beyond my full comprehension.
You've also blessed me with daily graces.
Do another miracle today:
Set my lukewarm heart fully aflame for you.
Burn through my pride and my hypocrisy.
Burn through my routine and my complacency
Until the pure oil of your Spirit
Burns clean and clear...
Until your light shines brightly in and through me,
That people who encounter me
May glorify you.

Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory,
for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!

--Psalm 115:1 ESV

Note: Our camellia bush started blooming in early November this year (see photo) and has kept at it longer than usual. It's almost done for the year. We thank the Lord for such small mercies, as well as for the huge ones.