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.