Friday, March 29, 2013


                Illustration: The Three Crosses, by Rembrandt.

Beaten, mocked and scorned,
Crowned with cruel thorns,
Then hung out like meat to dry
Beneath a chill and lonely sky
Why this spectacle of pain?
Has the devil come to reign?
No, it's in the master plan
Reconciling God and man.
This raw punishment you see?
It was earned by you, by me.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest. (Psalm 22:1-2, ESV)

The illustration shows rays of light on the center cross. In reality, there was a great darkness as the Father abandoned the Son who became sin for us--for those who believe him. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Preparing for Passover

English: Festive Seder table with wine, matza ...
English: Festive Seder table with wine, matza and Seder plate. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrifice the Passover lamb, His disciples asked Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare the Passover so You may eat it?” 
    So He sent two of His disciples and told them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a water jug will meet you. Follow him. Wherever he enters, tell the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is the guest room for Me to eat the Passover with My disciples?”’ He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make the preparations for us there.” So the disciples went out, entered the city, and found it just as He had told them, and they prepared the Passover. [Mark 14:12-16 HCSB]

The Lamb of God prepared for them
To prepare the Passover lamb that pointed to him.

The master of the house gave way
For the Master of all.

The room was swept and cleaned
For the one who was all-clean, and who would clean his own people.

The bread was spread out
As he, the bread of life, would be spread...
    Striped as he'd be striped, pierced as he'd be pierced.

The red wine from the bruised grapes was ready to be poured,
Sign of his blood to be poured out for us.

It was a time of holy signs--
And would we turn away?

God was preparing his great Passover,
When sinners would be washed forever clean.

Dare we approach?
We cannot come with our sins, but we must come.

Jesus, Master, Lamb of God, we come.

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Shoe Shine

Two well-kept shoes--my aim, my goal.
It isn't very lofty, is it?
No mighty crowds to cheer me on,
No major break-through for mankind.
Just shoes in pairs, one at a time--
Though fewer in this time of sloppiness.

The shoes, the boots I've done
Could fill a house (so I suppose),
And each has made somebody's day
A little brighter, neater, better.
Those simple shines have fed my kids
And clothed them, too--
But now I'm tired. Worn out.

Oh, Hi! Of course I'll do your shoes.
The chair is open. Come on up!

In all toil there is profit,
but mere talk tends only to poverty.
(Proverbs 14:23 ESV)

Note: The photo was taken this week at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.
Poem and photo ©2013 James L. Swindle.

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Saturday, March 09, 2013

Lord, You've Helped Us

Lord, you've helped us 'til today,
Helped us in the heat and cold,
Helped us young until we're old,
And you'll help us all the way.

You're our souls' complete release.
You're our source, our strength, our shield,
Vigor on the battle-field.
You're our rest, our joy, our peace.

We have battles yet to fight.
You'll fight for us, make us strong,
Keep us yours our whole lives long
'Til you fit us for your light.

Lord, you've helped us 'til today,
And you'll help us all the way.

Lord, you have been our dwelling place
    in all generations.

Before the mountains were brought forth,
    or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
    from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

(Psalm 90:1-2 ESV)

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Sunday, March 03, 2013

Prayer Before Preaching

LORD, unleash your holy word
And renew our hearts, we pray.
May the message--spoken, heard--
Pierce and wash and heal today.

Cast down evil fortresses.
Root out stubborn, long-held sin
And its sturdy butresses.
Make us pure and clean within.

For since, in God’s wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of the message preached.  (1 Corinthians 1:21 HCSB)

The decades-old photo shows my late father.

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When a life’s contracted,
Some normal things subtracted,
We’re tempted to complaining,
To grumbling at the straining.

But life in any fashion
Can show the Lord’s compassion.
True treasure’s not external.
It’s knowing the Eternal.

Our Father takes the broken,
And then a word is spoken…
The trampled life he raises.
Our little’s turned to praises.

Though Satan’s always thieving
And wants to leave us grieving,
We look past death’s dark curtain:
The resurrection’s certain.

The crushed? Restored completely!
God’s grace flows--O, so sweetly!
Christ wipes out sin’s infection
And brings us resurrection.

In Jesus, lives departed
Will soon be fresh, restarted
And graves will all be breaking,
And ransomed ones awaking.

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
(Romans 5:10 ESV)