Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Land Is Aching

The land is aching.
Droughts and floods and storms
Are quickly making
Life a misery.

The birds are scrawny,
Finding what they can,
While big and brawny
Men rebuild again.

There's no repenting.
Hearts devoid of God
See unrelenting
Troubles as just "odd."

6 I gave you absolutely nothing to eat
in all your cities,
a shortage of food in all your communities,
yet you did not return to Me.
This is the Lord’s declaration.
7 I also withheld the rain from you
while there were still three months until harvest.
I sent rain on one city
but no rain on another.
One field received rain
while a field with no rain withered.
8 Two or three cities staggered
to another city to drink water
but were not satisfied,
yet you did not return to Me.

--Amos 4:6-8 HCSB

Woe to those who are at ease in Zion,
and to those who feel secure on the mountain of Samaria,
the notable men of the first of the nations,
to whom the house of Israel comes!

--Amos 6:1 ESV

Photo ©2011 James L. Swindle

Monday, June 27, 2011

Summer Nights

The late-June evenings ended slowly.
As the light faded, the insects droned busily,
Then yielded to a hundred hidden frogs
Croaking a tuneless lullaby.

Inside, the AC whirred,
The lights went out,
And we slept in cool gratitude,
Then woke to a predawn mockingbird's aria.

They are also to stand every morning
to give thanks and praise to the Lord,
and likewise in the evening.
--1 Chronicles 23:30, HCSB

Saturday, June 25, 2011

If I'm Not Going to Assemble Something

If I'm not going to assemble something,
I don't need a nut.
If I'm not going to mow a lawn,
I don't need a lawn mower.
If I'm not going to swim,
I don't need swim trunks.
If I'm not going to feed a cat,
I don't need cat food.

Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ,
and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.

--Romans 13:14, NIV

Monday, June 20, 2011

Instant Ancestor

Her steady gaze unnerves me,
Makes me gaze right back,
And yet she cannot see me.
Framed she is; white/black.

By now she's likely lying
In a musty tomb
And nobody is crying.
Weeping's left the room.

An ancestor bought cheaply,
Just a buck or two!
Perhaps she's looking like me...
No, she favors you.

You return man to dust
and say, “Return, O children of man!”

--Psalm 90:3 ESV

My thanks to Magpie Tales for the image. For other people's thoughts about it, follow the link. When I saw this image, I thought of the story of the woman who couldn't sell some old photos until she labeled them "Instant Ancestors."

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dad and Racial Integration

My Dad had a passion for treating black people right.

He grew up in the southeast corner of Kansas. As a boy, he saw at least one Ku Klux Klan parade. When he was in high school, he became a Christian. His school principal was one of his heroes, and that principal was a racist. Yet by God's grace, Dad knew racism was wrong.

The year was about 1935. The school was newly integrated, since the town thought it was too expensive to run a separate school for a tiny number of black students. Dad was class president, and was in charge of planning the junior-senior banquet. The lady teacher who was class sponsor said of the four black students, "They won't come, of course."

Dad said, "Yes, they will come."

I don't know whether it was the same day, but she finally said, "Well, if they come, they'll sit at a separate table of four."

Dad said, "Then we'll all sit at tables of four."
It wasn't a perfect solution, but for the 1930's, it was very progressive.

In the 1940's, Dad joined the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People).

Then, about 1952, his oldest son, John, went to Kindergarten. John came home excitedly talking about another boy that he had fun with. This went on for a day or two, with John telling all about him. Then Dad met the boy as kindergarten let out. Dad was surprised that the other boy was black, and was delighted that John had not thought to mention that fact.

In the mid-1950's, as pastor of a large all-white church, Dad arranged for his church and a black church to have an exchange of choirs for one Sunday. Then there was a community Good Friday service at the black church. Then an exchange of preachers for one Sunday. Then they had a joint Vacation Bible School. One of the white ladies who always taught Vacation Bible School told people,"I'm not having any of those N...'s in my class." Dad's associate pastor told Dad, who said, "Well, I guess she's not teaching this year."

In the 1960's, at a different church where Dad was then pastor, a black man named General T. Reed started coming to the church. Dad welcomed him as a member. By the end of the 1960's, the church had another black man--a university student named Willie J. Harris, who was a blessing to all he met.

In all of these things, Dad simply did what he knew was right, even though society's pressures often ran the opposite direction.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

In the Light

Am I walking in the light?
Do I flee from night to day?
Do I practice all that's right?
Does the Spirit light my way?

Or is darkness creeping in...
First an inch and then a yard,
Until lies and pride and sin
Make the way of light seem hard?

Jesus, shine your light on me.
Show my sin and root it out.
Burn it up, that men may see
Your bright mercy all about.

But if we walk in the light,
as he is in the light,
we have fellowship with one another,
and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

--1 John 1:7 ESV

Monday, June 13, 2011

Spanish Moss

An ancient tree
Wearing its finest lace
Stands as sentry in our park.

By day, I see
This old tree's frilly face,
But it's spooky in the dark.

...even the darkness is not dark to You. The night shines like the day; darkness and light are alike to You. --Psalm 139:12, HCSB

Friday, June 10, 2011

No More Idols

From Blog11

LORD, I lay my idols down--
Smash them into dust,
Revel in their breaking sound.
LORD, You're all my trust.

Demons knocking at my door
Have no welcome now.
They were living here before;
You're the master now.

Satan's scheming to deceive;
Still is tempting me,
But by grace I now believe
You, and am set free.

For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth; they will no longer be remembered by their names. --Hosea 2:17 HCSB

Not all idolatry involves bowing down to a sculpture. “The human heart is a factory of idols...Everyone of us is, from his mother's womb, expert in inventing idols.” John Calvin

This particular original poem and photo are public domain.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Burned Barn

From Blog11

The barn which stood for generations
Today is merely ash,
Consumed by the fire play
Of youth.
The smoke of their foolishness ascends,
A sacrifice to wasted days.

The hay fueled flames, not peaceful cows,
As men from seven stations
Arrived in the already-horrid heat and drought.
They baptized the burning building
And knotted traffic,
Losing all,
But little more.


When the world is judged by fire,
Will my works all be consumed?
Are they merely mine, or higher?
Are they altar-smoke, or fumes?

For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed yby fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

--1 Corinthians 3:11-15

Thursday, June 02, 2011

I Must Kill Sin

From Blog11

I must kill sin, or sin will kill me--
Kill off my body, kill off my soul.
I must destroy it, kill both root and tree,
If I'm at last to be clean, to be whole.

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
--Romans 8:13

I used the photo of the sign at the Alamo since it's a site where there was an all-out war, a fight to the death. In fighting against sin, we're fighting for something greater than independence from a political power that we don't like. We're fighting for our holiness and for God's glory.