Saturday, December 28, 2013

If the Lord Removes His Blessing

If the LORD removes his blessing,
All may seem at first still stable--
Lots of lovers still caressing,
Human deeds as folks are able--

But without the Spirit's power,
Evil flourishing and crowing,
Truth will perish in an hour
And go fleeing from men's knowing.

Once God's blessing's dissipated,
Can a curse be far behind?
And the feeble thing created
Doesn't know that it's now blind.

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:21 ESV)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

God in a Manger

Ancient of Days,
Maker of all,
You’re now so small
With infant ways.

Stronger than earth--
Tiny, yet great--
We celebrate
Your simple birth.

We are but mud,
Needing you now.
Rescue, somehow…
Though it’s through blood.

With your sharp sword
Some day you’ll reign,
But now we gain
Our swaddled Lord.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11 ESV)

The card in the photo was made by my wife.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

The Poppy

The poppy's fragile beauty
Transports me to Nebraska
Where well-worn hands had planted
Some poppies for the pleasure
Of seeing their frail petals.

And yet the poppy's ruined
The lives of perhaps millions
Who found its sap addictive.
That opium now owned them--
Enslaved, a life of dying.

And so I see the poppy--
Its loveliness and peril,
And thank the Lord our maker
For those who taught me limits;
Of beauty that's for looking.

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." (Genesis 2:16-17 ESV)

"All things are lawful for me," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful for me," but I will not be enslaved by anything. (1 Corinthians 6:12 ESV)

In the quote from 1 Corinthians, the apostle is not saying that he no longer needs to beware of things that are enslaving. He's saying that even if something is lawful, he wont partake of it if it's not also helpful. He won't let it make him his slave.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Will Jesus Shine More Brightly

Will Jesus shine more brightly
Than brilliant mid-day sun?
Will halos glow? Contritely
Will saints now all be one?

Will Satan's plots grow darker
Than soot down in a cave?
The contrast growing starker
With Him who's strong to save?

Will we recall our troubles,
Our failures and our fears?
Or will they melt like bubbles,
Like fog that disappears?

In his right hand he held seven stars,
from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword,
and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.
(Revelation 1:16 ESV)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Prison Walls Won't Lock Me In

Prison walls won't lock me in
If in my heart I'm free,
Washed, forgiven, freed from sin,
Now clean for all to see.

Bought by Jesus, God's own Lamb,
Released from guilt and shame--
God can use me where I am
To glorify his name.

If, though, I'm my own self-trust,
I'll surely swiftly fall--
Rot and burn with clawing rust,
Just trash behind a wall.

Set before me is a choice
Of heaven or of hell,
Of joy or terror at God's voicc--
A choice! May I choose well.

Whoever has the Son has life;
whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 
(1 John 5:12 ESV)

I wrote this for a relative who is in prison. It's in the mail to him, but won't have arrived yet.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

God's Glory in a Gutter

To see God's glory in a gutter
Leaves me speechless.
He planned it all before creation,
So I'd worship.
His endless mercies still amaze me,
Will forever.

Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the splendor and the majesty, for everything in the heavens and on earth belongs to You.
--1 Chronicles 29:11 HCSB

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Living Like Daniel

Image: Daniel's Answer to the King by Briton Rivière;
Manchester City Art Gallery.

Living clean in filthy days...
Living truth instead of lies...
Worshiping the Lord with praise...
Confident He is the prize.

But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself...
(Daniel 1:8) 

Thursday, November 07, 2013


Washed in water--this the sign
Of a rescue--new life's mine.
Not just freed from outward grime--
Washed within, once for all time!
Dead with Christ who bore my shame,
Raised with him--his life, my claim
Trust this Jesus. Hear his call.
Leave your sin. Take him--he's all.

So those who received his word were baptized,
and there were added that day about three thousand souls
.(Acts 2:41 ESV)

Is there a precise one-to-one correspondence between those who truly know the Lord and those who have submitted to water baptism? No. Yet water baptism is a divinely-ordained method of expressing faith in Jesus who saves. If you trust in Jesus, you should be baptized.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

To Wear a Cross

I do not dare to wear
The sign of Jesus' cross
Unless I die to me
And He is all you see.
So I must count the cost
And hang with Jesus there.

For which of you, desiring to build a tower,
does not first sit down and count the cost,
whether he has enough to complete it?

(Jesus in Luke 14:28)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Living in a Darkening Age

May I love you, Lord, tonight
Though this age swaps dark for light.
Save me from this world's cheap toys
That would kill eternal joys.

Give compassion for the weak,
So with love I'll help them seek
Holiness: a faith that grows
Whatever way the fashion blows.

When men mock your grace, your laws,
When they hate you without cause,
When men persecute your name,
May I praise you just the same.

All that's right begins with you--
Fully holy, just and true,
Full of mercy and with rage
Slaying sin at end of age.

Long before creation's song,
Into future ages long,
Maker, savior of my soul,
You're the treasure. You're the goal.

First, be aware of this: Scoffers will come in the last days to scoff, living according to their own desires... (2 Peter 3:3 HCSB)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

If I'm Still Wanting Sin

If I'm still wanting sin,
Then I'm still wanting lies.
I've let demons come spin
Their dark web in my eyes.

Lord, give peace. Lord, give light.
Make my wanting all new
As I seek all that's right
And find pleasures in you.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2 ESV)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Clock Farm (fantasy)

image by crilleb50

Monsieur LesTemps sat in his garden guarding his crop of clocks. He'd grown the tall variety this year, and they were taller than usual. The oils had come at just the right time, and they must have needed those nuts and wheels that he'd scattered in the fall. Yes, it was a wonderful crop, but something was wrong. The clocks all seemed to see time differently. Each ran at its own speed. At this rate--no, at these rates--he'd be ruined. He sat in dejection, listening to the tick tickety ticktick tick TICK tock tickety tick of the clocks' competing rhythms. He sat for an hour (or more, depending on which clock he looked at). Would he have to be just a tenant clock-farmer next season? Would he have to go back to working at the umbrella farm? Or at the flower factory? Would he never have enough money to marry Eloise?

My thanks to Magpie Tales for suggesting the image. For other people's thoughts on this same image, click here.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Wind in the Palm Trees

Wind in the palm trees,
Where have you been?
Out in Australia?
What have you seen?
Crossing the ocean?
Caressing the foam?
Where will you go next?
Where is your home?

Wind in the palm trees,
Blow past again.

Written in Honolulu, September 8, 2013

He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters;
he makes the clouds his chariot; he rides on the wings of the wind...
(Psalm 104:3 ESV)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Brave, Strong, Wise

Be brave, my friend, be brave.
The devil is afraid
Of what the Lord can do
Through simple souls like you.

Be strong, my friend, be strong.
The Lord can give the song
Of victories still told
When grandchildren are old.

Be wise, my friend, be wise.
The Lord will give the prize
That can't be stolen, cannot rust
If Jesus is your trust.

So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future--all are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's.(1 Corinthians 3:21-23 ESV)

Bonus thought: Jesus is our supreme example of bravery. He was willing to risk the displeasure of his mother, of his brothers, of the crowds, of his disciples, in order to obey his Father. He was willing to walk directly toward cruel torture and death.
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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Working in the Vineyard

Tempranillo vines, Clos la Plana vinyard, Pene...
Tempranillo vines, Clos la Plana vinyard, Penedes region, Spain 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am working in the vineyard--
In the vineyard of the LORD.
He will give me all he's promised.
He will always keep his word.

Are you working in the vineyard?
In the vineyard of the LORD?
He will gie you all he's promised.
He will always keep his word.

We can't earn the things we're getting
In the vineyard of the LORD.
He is good and kind and gracious.
He will always keep his word.

For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner  
who went out early in the morning 
to hire laborers for his vineyard. 
(Matthew 20:1 ESV)

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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Judas Iscariot Thinks

English: Judas Iscariot The face of Judas Isca...
The face of Judas Iscariot peers from carved foliage while carvings of the other 11 disciples adorn the pulpit in St.James' church. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Betray the Christ?
Yes, for a price.
I have this need,
This inner greed.
I follow him,
But worship me.

He’s strong—too strong!
Am I so wrong?
I’ll show the place,
Then kiss his face.
I follow him,
But worship me.

I’ll fake a smile
To hide my guile.
You’ll have your man.
Just trust my plan.
I follow him,
But worship me.

...Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard.” And when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” And he kissed him. And they laid hands on him and seized him. (Mark 14:43-46 ESV)

Related posts:
Jesus Was Gracious to Judas

When Pastors Fail

Spider's Web

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Saturday, September 07, 2013

The Bear

©2013 James L. Swindle ​​​​​​​ 

When I am afraid, 
   I trust in you. ​​​​​
​​In God – I boast in his promise – 
   in God I trust, I am not afraid. (Psalm 56:3-4 ESV)

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Walkin' On the Waves

Image from

Walkin’, walkin’, walkin on the waves. 
    Who is this I see?
Walkin’, walkin’, walkin’ on the waves— 

    Is it a ghost I see?
Walkin’, walkin’, walkin’—Jesus says,
    Fear not. See, it’s me

Walkin’, walkin’, walkin’ on the waves—
    Peter, come to me. 
Walkin’, walkin’, walkin’ on the waves—
    Peter’s walkin’ too.
Walkin’, walkin’, walkin’ on the waves—
    ‘Til he looks away.

Sinkin’, sinkin’, sinkin’ in the waves—
    Peter’s sinkin' down.
Save me! Save me! Save me, Lord. These waves!
    Jesus grabbed his hand.
Walkin’, walkin’, walkin’ on the waves
    Held by Jesus’ hand.

Around three in the morning, He came toward them walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified. "It's a ghost!" they said, and cried out in fear. Immediately Jesus spoke to them. "Have courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."  (Matthew 14:25-27 HCSB)
This particular poem is public domain, 2013. 


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Israel's Future Glory

Washed in wine
From a fruitful vine...
Filled with figs
That are oh, so big...
Lots of oil
From just pleasant toil...
Girls and boys
Safe at play with toys...
Words of life
Drive out death and strife...
Free from war--
Knowing it no more...
Blessed by God
On his chosen sod...
By his grace,
Washed to see his face.

​You will show faithfulness to Jacob 
   and steadfast love to Abraham, 
as you have sworn to our fathers 
   from the days of old.
(Micah 7:20 ESV)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Killing Sin, #2

Father, may I kill my sin
Now and all day long.
May I never let it in,
Always still be strong.

Killing sin is hard. It’s strife.
Sin’s an enemy.
Yet its death’s my path to life –
You give victory. 

May I never pamper sin,
Never give it room
Never let its growth begin.
Sin leads straight to doom.

By your Spirit, I must fight –
Going for the kill –
Your own ways my great delight,
All my hopes to fill.

Holiness must be my choice
Daily and at night.
By your grace, I’ll heed your voice
Walk within your light. 

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 ESV)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Prayer's Answers

Prayer is not a package service
Bringing boxed blessings
Neatly crated,
Lowered from above.

Prayer is communication
With the Lord of glory--
Bringing him our needs
And then submitting to his will.

Those boxed blessings
May still come,
Especially if we ask,
But it's God's decision, not ours.

And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:41-42 ESV)

Monday, August 05, 2013

Flesh and Spirit

My flesh is weak as cottage cheese,
Distracting me from what is good.
At times there's jelly in my knees--
And fear of doing what I should.

The Lord in me is clean and strong
With vigor that cannot grow old.
He gives the fire. He gives the song.
He's always virile, kind and bold.

The Spirit's stronger than the skies.
So, though my body's aimed toward dust
(With creaking joints and blurring eyes),
I'm strong in Jesus Christ, my trust.

Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Mark 14:38 ESV)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Going Home

We may roam
Far somehow...
But enough
Of that stuff!
We are now
Floating home,
Home to hugs.

Greet one another with a holy kiss. (2 Corinthians 13:12 ESV)

I'm not the source of this image. For other people's reaction to this same image, click here. I stole the idea of going home to hugs from Kathe W.'s post.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Morning Prayer

Fill me with your grace, Lord--
Your mercy and your love.
Fill me with your patience
When others push and shove.
Use me as your servant
To lift the aching soul,
Giving out your gospel
To make the broken whole.

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit... (Ephesians 5:18 ESV)


The LORD longs to be gracious to you,
To pour out more blessings until you're sated.
He longs to make you better than you deserve,
Better than you dare dream.

So, why are you swimming in troubles,
Surrounded by snakes,
Beneath big burdens?

The burdens confine you.
The troubles refine you
Until you're like gold,
If only you listen.

The troubles that break you
Will help to re-make you
Until you are holy
And serve Jesus only.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Family Wash

Family memories lie in a pan
Like last night's stockings:
Uncles and brothers, sisters and aunts,
Needing a cleaning.

Business successes, proud graduations,
Babies and houses
Ready to wash
Or to toss out as compost.

Lifetimes of longings,
Hopes and achievements
Now merely clutter.
So, do you want them?

So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom. 
(Psalm 90:12)

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. (Jesus, in Luke 14:26 ESV)

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.  (Exodus 20:12 ESV)

I took the photo in an antique store. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Jesus--Crucified, Risen

Jesus, crushed and pierced for me,
Hung to die just like a snake--
Lifted up for all to see,
Jesus suffered for our sake.

Christ was buried, fully dead,
Sealed inside a carved fresh cave,
Wrapped in cloths from toe to head.
Dead! Can such a leader save?

Jesus rose--alive once more,
Full of vigor, fresh and strong.
He has won! The final score
Will be sung through ages long.

Jesus Christ will come again
And he'll judge the live, the dead.
He'll be King, and he will reign
With his church for whom he bled.

Praise him for his choice to give
His own life for sinful men.
Praise him that he'll always live--
Lord of lords, Life without end. 

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 ESV)

Monday, July 08, 2013

To Follow Jesus

To follow Jesus is an outward thing.
He owns my clothes, my hair, the things you see.

To follow Jesus is an inward thing.
He bought my heart and set my spirit free.

To follow Jesus is a whole-life thing.
He owns what's past, what's now, what's yet to be.

To follow Jesus is a simple thing.
He leads. I follow. Victory!

On the next day Jesus wanted to set out for Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.”  (John 1:43, NET)

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

There's Work Before the Storm

Image by Musin Yohan
There's work before the storm.
All bundled well, a mix
Of dry-as-tinder sticks.
Five miles to keep us warm.

I wish we had a man.
My Will did all he said,
But now--it hurts!--he's dead.
So I do what I can.

There's beauty in that sky.
A brightness says to rush
Before winds howl and crush--
To rush while sticks are dry.

Tonight we'll sit all warm.
At least, that is my plan.
I'll make it, if I can.
Five miles before the storm!

For you [O Lord] have been a stronghold to the poor,
        a stronghold to the needy in his distress,

a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.... (Isaiah 24:5 ESV)

This poem is fiction, based on the remarkable image. For other people's thoughts on this same image, click here.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Thank God I Died

Thank God I died
To who I was:
Respectable but dead
In lurid sin,
A snake or wolf
Within the flock,
A weed among the wheat.

Thank God I rose
To Jesus Christ!
I rose to life in him,
To holiness and hope and joy,
To love that doesn't end--
A servant-son of Heaven's king,
Redeemed, reborn, restored.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.  (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Choice

Passing pleasure,
Lasting treasure...
Shall I sell eternity
For the latest on TV?
Walk the devil's dirty road?
Bear the Savior's holy load?
Live by lusting
Or by trusting?
Grab for glory all my own
Or draw near to God's own throne?
Lord, I'm here at your command.
Make me faithful. Make me stand.

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them. --Moses, in Deuteronomy 30:19-20

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Search for a Sign

He looked for a sign,
Some words from the sky
(Will planets align?)
A note from on high.

The words were as plain
As plain words could be.
He called them insane.
He said, "I don't see."

The words weren't his style.
They'd hinder his will.
He closed both his eyes
And looked for words still.

For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Corinthians 1:22-25 ESV)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Choice

When we think life's over here,
Endless ears have just begun--
Years of joy or agony.
Welcomed home or jailed in chains.
Life that's full or death that burns.
All restored or left to rot.

This the choice God offers you:
Christ and all, or self and loss.

 For the compensation due sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23, Lexham English Bible)

I saw the original of this painting in an antique store. I'm not sure who the man was. This original poem is public domain. Other items on this blog are copyrighted, except as noted. You may print up to 100 copies of any item here for non-profit distribution, so long as you include the copyright notice and do not change the text.  

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Fall Asleep As a Warrior

Fall asleep as a warrior.
Fall asleep, armor on.
Fix your thoughts on the battle
And the King whom you serve.

Fall asleep as a warrior,
Fall asleep, sword at hand.
You may slay some fiend forces
As you drift off to sleep.

Fall asleep as a warrior.
Fall asleep, clean and brave.
Be the man God declares you.
Rest to fight yet again.

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

You, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. (2Timothy 2:1 HCSB)

For more about the Christian's armor, see Ephesians 6:10-20

Friday, June 07, 2013

Wisdom - Worldly and Spiritual

Worldly wisdom won't end well.
It may give you cash and fame,
Crowds to clap at your great name,
But its end is death and hell.

God and man are reconciled
By what stabs us in our pride:
Casting all on Jesus' side,
Humbly trusting like a child.

There is a way that seems right to a man, 
but its end is the way to death. (Proverbs 14:12)

God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (1 Peter 5:3b)

Monday, June 03, 2013

Bread and Wine

   Photo credit:

The bread…is bread.
The wine…is wine.
And yet, that said,
What’s here’s divine.

No change to meat.
No change to blood,
And yet we greet
Christ’s flesh, Christ’s blood.

He rose from death.
Sin’s death was shown.
Our life, our breath
Are now his own.

This bite we eat,
This sip we drink,
Are where we meet
Our Lord and think.

And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many....”
--Mark 14:22-24

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Signs of True Repentance

My pastor, Richard Caldwell, concluded last night's sermon by listing five signs of true repentance, as seen in 2 Corinthians 7:5-11.
  1. True repentance is grieved by godly admonition. It doesn't get angry about being confronted.
  2. True repentance doesn't stop at the point of grief. It leads to a change of course. It goes from grief to decision.
  3. True repentance leads to salvation, not to death nor to depression nor to destruction. It lead to Jesus, to freedom from sin.
  4. True repentance longs for holiness. It doesn't long for a return to sin. 
  5. True repentance is ready to demonstrate a new course. It understands why can't instantly forget about what was done wrong to them.
I needed to hear those things. My repentance has often been merely external.

What does your repentance look like?

You may want to listen to the whole sermon, which was an introduction to Zephaniah, in English or Spanish

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Praise to the Maker

Holy, holy, Lord Almighty,
Maker of the earth and sky,
All Thy creatures bow before Thee
As their praise ascends on high.
All your glory yet will flow, and
Where you are, it's never night.
All our glory's just a shadow
Next to your unending light.

Praise the LORD from the earth,
    you great sea creatures and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and mist,
    stormy wind fulfilling his word!

          --Psalm 147:7-8

Sunday, May 19, 2013

God Gave Some as Teachers

Thank God for those who teach God’s word
With courage, skill and patient love—
Who don’t abuse the truth they’ve heard,
But take their orders from above. 

Thank God for those whose lives display
Christ’s saving work at any length
To build His church on earth today—
To save by His almighty strength.

Then give such teachers honor due
To those who faithfully just serve
With motives that are clean and true.
Yes, give the honor they deserve.

Rewards for them, rewards for you,
Are never seen on earth today.
Those come when Jesus makes things new
And all His servants get their pay.

And he gave...teachers to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ...  (Ephesians 4:11-12 ESV)