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


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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