Sunday, December 28, 2014

Thaw


Jesus, thaw my frozen heart.
Bring ablaze each hidden part.
Change my often dullish thought:
Make me love you as I ought.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
(Ezekiel 36:26 ESV)

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Simeon Waits

Painting by Corot: Old Man on Trunk

The Bible tells in Luke 2 of Simeon. The Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die until he saw the Messiah. 

Waiting. Waiting. Years of waiting.
     Will deliverance ever come?
Worshiping the LORD and waiting…
     When will the Messiah come?

Scanning faces as they’re passing--
     LORD, don’t let me miss the king!
Daily hopes meet daily dashing,
     But you’ve promised! Hope still springs.

Babies passing by the thousands--
     Precious, cute, but not the One.
Then the Spirit speaks somehow, and
     See! It’s him! Messiah’s come!

Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ.  (Luke 2:25-26 ESV)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Warning

Image modified from a photo by kathie wu. Some rights reserved.

Now, my neighbors, hear me well:
I must warn of fires of hell.
Just as blessings never end,
Curses go on, too, my friend.
Without Jesus, you are lost.
You can't pay your sin's great cost.
Flee to Jesus Christ today.
He will save you--all the way.
After battles fierce and strong,
You'll be welcome. You'll belong.
You'll forget each painful thing
In the joy of Christ the King.
But, I also have to say,
If you don't take Christ today,
Time for mercy could be past.
You may go to flames at last.

And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire. (Matthew 18:9 ESV)

Do I really believe you should run to Jesus just to escape hellfire? Yes.

Is that the only reason? Absolutely not.

What are some others? He is good. He is king. He is faithful. He's the source of all that's truly good. He's the one "in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." (Colossians 2:3 ESV)

For posts about heaven, click here.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Look


Look away!
Look away from your own thoughts.
Look away from your own sin.
Look to Jesus!
Look to Jesus! He has brought
Life and cleanness; hope within.
Look away!
Look away from all your past.
Look away from all your shame.
Look to Jesus!
Look to Jesus Christ at last.
Look, and live—in Jesus’ name.


"...looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith..."
(Hebrews 12:2 ESV)

My thanks to my friend Terrol for posing for the photo. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Defeated Foe


Do not fear the devil's schemes
Of murder, threats and lies.
God will cut him down to size
And bless your holy dreams.

Work with strength, Don't leave your post.
You're safe within God's hand.
He fulfills all he has planned--
Yes, he and all his host.

Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8 ESV)



Monday, November 24, 2014

Praise to the Lord


All your trouble, all your grief;
All the darkness of your days
Can be turned around to praise
As your Savior gives relief.

It is coming—fast or slow—
While you work or while you weep,
While you fight or while you sleep.
Steady yet, his mercies grow.

He will open some fresh door.
He can raise the broken soul,
Free the slaves and make them whole.
He is good, right to the core.

Ponder, then this God of ours.
Call for him when life is dim.
When you’re rescued, praise. Praise him!
Give him gladly all your hours.


Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,
whom he has redeemed from trouble
and gathered in from the lands,
from the east and from the west,
from the north and from the south.
                     (Psalm 107:1-3 ESV)

Here in the USA, we celebrate Thanksgiving Day this week. If you're celebrating, you may want to consider having several family members or guests each read a paragraph of Psalm 107 aloud. Be sure to allow a polite "no thanks" to anyone who'd prefer not to read aloud. If you're reading this blog, you're probably a very good reader. Not everyone is.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Feet

Make our feet beautiful,
     Bringing the good news.
Make our feet beautiful,
     Publishing the peace.
Make our feet beautiful,
     Bringing good and happy news. 
Make our feet beautiful, 
     Publishing that Jesus saves. 
Make our feet beautiful. 
     Listen, Zion! Your God reigns! 

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” (Isaiah 52:7 ESV)

Whose feet brought you the good news? 
Can you see the beauty of those feet?
Do you believe the Lord can make your feet beautiful to someone?
Will you take steps with that faith today?

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Trusting


All our ways,
    All our days,
Come from you,
    Flow to you.

May we fear
    Nothing here--
No, we must
    Simply trust
That you've done
    Through your son
Everything
    That will bring
Death to sin,
    Life within.

Hear our call,
    Lord of all,
Each new day
    As we pray.
Thus we'll raise
    Endless praise.

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will straighten your paths. 
(Proverbs 3:6, Lexham English Bible)

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Mary and Martha


Am I swerving in my serving
From the Savior to myself?
Is my idol my own image
As a super-duper saint?

Am I worried, crabby, hurried?
Over-organizing? Stressed?
There's a time for simply sitting
Still--to listen and be blessed.


Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things,
but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”  (Luke 10:38-40 ESV)



Friday, October 24, 2014

The Light


It's not the moon and not the sun
Nor all the planets that God spun.
It's not the stars that shine at night
That are this whole world's one true Light.

It's Jesus, light of all the world.
Through Him the skies were all unfurled.
His enemies know only night.
Christ Jesus is himself the Light.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

(John 8:12 ESV)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

False Christian Leaders


They look so holy and alive—
    Proclaiming their worth,
    Their godly rebirth,
But there is death deep in their lives.

Their praise may rise with fervent cries.
    They’re looking so clean!
    Their branches, so green…
But all their holiness is lies.

They charm and flatter. How they smile!
    They know how to sound
    All deep and profound,
But down beneath is dirt and guile.

Beware of their ungodly ways.
    They’re headed to doom,
    To darkness and gloom,
Forever night and never day. 

These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever. (Jude 1:12-13 ESV)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

While I'm Breathing


While I'm breathing,
I'm still sinning,
But not sinning as before.

I am waiting
For Christ's coming
When my sin will be no more.


This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 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. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.  (1 John 1:5-10 ESV)

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Evening

Daylight turns from gold to blue:
Night is coming fast.
Yet again, the Lord's proved true--
Faithful first to last.

Our work's ending--good or bad,
Hours spent or lost.
Did we use the time we had?
Gold redeemed or tossed? 

Daylight turns from gold to blue.
Night is coming fast.
Rest in Jesus. Wake anew
When the dark is past. 

We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day;
night is coming, when no one can work.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Watching, Waiting


Watching, waiting for the Lord—
Needing words of truth and grace,
Needing mercy—life restored—
Hoping I’ll yet see his face.

Watching through the storms and blight…
When it’s darkest, hoping on,
Knowing there’s an end to night.
Night will end. He’s grace. He’s dawn.

With a single ray at first
Changing blackness into gray,
Pure and clean, his light will burst
Shining forth till all is day.

Christ is just, but he is kind.
Place your hope all in the Lord.
Trust him fully, and you’ll find
All you’ve lost can be restored.


I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, 
   and in his word I hope; 
my soul waits for the Lord 
   more than watchmen for the morning, 
   more than watchmen for the morning. 
(Psalm 130:5-6 ESV)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Morning with the Lord


Morning's rising, dark departing.
Faith is rising, too.
We are prizing what You're starting.
You make all things new.

We abandon dreams of darkness.
They won't fit the light.
You are granting wakeful sharpness,
Leading in what's right.

"...For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.
Walk as children of light...."  
(Ephesians 5:8-9 ESV)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Deliverance

Image credit: modified from www.flickr.com/photos/bixentro/2680081927/ Some rights reserved.

Earthly power won't suffice
To deliver us from hell.
Our own goodness, doubled twice,
Could not break the devil's spell.

Only Jesus Christ alone
Can erase our guilt, our blame.
In him God's own light has shone--
Life for all who trust his name.

Childish voices rise in praise
Singing with a joyful shout
To the ancient Lord of days.
Trust casts out all gloom, all doubt.

Lord, with simple hearts, we come
Needy to your ample grace.
All our boasting's now struck dumb.
Give us, please, the lowest place. 

"...Whoever would be first among you must be slave of all."
(Mark 10:44 ESV)


Sunday, September 07, 2014

In Your Image


You've made me in your image,
Shaped me in your likeness,
But not so all will see me
Bask in mighty self-ness.

You've made me in your image
So that all will see you
Shine in your own glory
Since you make the dead new.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.
The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

(2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Glory of Eternity


The glory of eternity
Will not be like the things we see
And love so dearly here and now.
It's not just upgraded somehow.

The glory of eternity--
The greatest glory we may see--
Will not be relatives and kin
And won't just be the lack of sin.

The glory of eternity,
The best of all there'll be to see,
Will be to see the living God
And not be burned like bone-dry sod.

To see our savior face to face
And know the power of his grace--
To fellowship and eat and live
Where Christ himself will always live--

Ah, that's the prize to which we're called.
That's the greatest thing of all.
Yes, that's the greatest joy to see:
Christ's glory, for eternity.

Beloved, we are God's children now,
and what we will be has not yet appeared;
but we know that when he appears we shall be like him,
because we shall see him as he is.
(1 John 3:2 ESV)

In the essay I've linked to below, Evan Kneis includes this memorable paragraph:
If one does not have sight of Christ’s glory here on earth, they won’t have it after. Heaven isn’t a golf course, a big lake with an uncountable amount of fish, a football field, etc. It isn’t merely a family reunion or the absence of sin, evil, and suffering. Heaven is primarily where the glory of Christ dwells abundantly! And it is utterly satisfying (Ps. 16:11). Heaven is all about Jesus! If you don’t want Jesus, you’re not going to Heaven! It’s that simple! How horrible it is to say that one who doesn’t want Christ is going to Heaven. This is a sobering thought. If golf is your supreme treasure, then you’re going to hell. Christ is the gift of Heaven.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The End


When my song is stilled,
My years all filled,
And my cash all willed,

I can say, my friend,
Death is not the end.
Life will still extend.

Yes, my flesh may rot
In some narrow plot.
That's not all I've got.

Once again I'll rise--
Meet the Lord in skies.
He's my hope, my prize.

And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God...
(Job 19:26 ESV)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Strengthened

Photo: Amethyst, one of the Lord's creations

Our Savior's love is more than we can know---
Its height, its depth, its never-ending breadth!
He gave his very life that we might go
To life with him, instead of hell and death.

He strengthens us beyond the joy we feel
And puts his Spirit in us, deep inside,
To make our spirits strong as carbon steel
Infused with holiness that none can hide.

Though we may shrink in fright at things we see
And walk uneasy on a narrow brink,
Our Lord is faithful, and we know that he
Can do much more than we could ask or think.

We praise him--praise him though we live or die.
Eternal praises will surround his throne.
All glory be to God who reigns on high:
The Lord who saves his church, his bride, his own!


For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21 ESV)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Seasons






The seasons come,
The seasons go--
But Jesus stays the same.
So, weary one,
Be still and know
The power of his name.

Though there are some
Who madly go
For this world's wealth and fame,
They're blind and numb
And do not know
The source from which they came.

As seasons come
And seasons go,
Christ Jesus stays the same.
So, weary one,
Be still and know
The power of his name.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8 ESV)



Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Sovereign

Sexta/Viernes/Friday-POSER-Deus - Dios - God
Sexta/Viernes/Friday-POSER-
Deus - Dios - God (Photo credit: Caio Basilio)

This past Sunday we studied how God's sovereignty and our prayer interact. 

Our God rules over all...
Everything, great and small,
Is upheld by his hand,
Must obey his command.

If we pray and believe
Christ (God's Son), we receive
All we ask, if it's best--
If it passes God's test.

How his will interacts
With our own? Simple facts
Can't explain, but we know
He responds, and we grow.

Our God is in the heavens; 
      he does all that he pleases. (Psalm 115:3 ESV)

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Jesus' Love In Us


Jesus pours his love
Into every saint--
Heart-felt, tender love,
Not just outward paint.

Real love is known--
Constant, deep and true.
Jesus loves his own.
Is his love in you?

Jesus' love is wise--
Grows in truth and grace.
It discerns. It tries;
Sees each thing in place.

We won't only feel
Some sweet sentiment.
We will pray with zeal--
Fruit that's evident.

With Christ's love within,
Working through each part,
We will turn from sin--
Caring from the heart.


For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:8-11 ESV)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Celebrity

Image by is public domain.


A handsome face
A famous name
But not a trace
Of Jesus' name...

The fearful trade
Will show at last
Success will fade
As youth flies past

And all will be
An empty shell
Till he will see
The fires of hell

This does not please
My watching heart
I pray he sees
Where life must start

For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? (Mark 8:36 ESV)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Cleaned

Photo credit: Roosh Inf3ktion. Some rights reserved. 

Do I, LORD, deserve the fire?
   Are all my works a feeble sham?
Are my lusts my great desire?
   Are they consuming all I am?

Or...

Do I hate what I once loved,
  Now trusting Jesus thoroughly?
Quitting dirt where I once grubbed?
   Do I now live clean and free?

For...

Jesus cleans the ones he saves.
   He makes a change in all they do,
Changing what each man's heart craves.
   He makes the dead men clean and new.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)

This particular poem is public domain. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Faith--New or Old?


If you seek a newer faith,
Something current, up-to-date,
You will only find a lie.
Jesus died just once, for all,
And now he lives to make men free.
He’s the source, and he’s the end.
Trust him. Trust him, and you’ll see.

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. (Jude 3 ESV)

The Bible and the inscription are from the Sam Houston Memorial Museum in Huntsville, Texas. I'm not endorsing this man's cause, and I don't know whether he believed the message of Jesus. I recommend reading the Bible, not just using it to protect from bullets...though, if it does the latter, that's OK, too!

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Not a Saint?

The Bible calls all Christians "saints" or "holy ones."

You say you're not a saint?
Well, if that's what you're not,
A Christian's what  you ain't.
Your sinful life will rot.

The Lord can make you clean.
He washes where he goes.
He makes hearts new and green.
The life of Jesus shows.

He'll change the words you say.
He'll change the things you do.
He'll make a pure, straight way
And make the whole man new.

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:1-2 ESV)

Image: Detail from the fresco "The Crucifixion" by Fra Angelico, 1441-1442, Convento di San Marco, Florence, Italy. Photo found at http://saints.sqpn.com/saint-benedict-of-nursia-gallery/. Their theology is not mine, but I really like the photo.

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Faithfulness


"Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me,"
But am I faithful? O Lord, you see.
You know my weakness, my sinful fear.
Lord, make me faithful--right now, right here.

Shred my excuses, my lies, my pride.
Fill me with Jesus--Give zeal inside.
Steel my convictions. Fill all my gaze.
Make all my goal now only your praise.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV)

I wrote this sermon in response to an excellent sermon on The Faithful Life. Click here to watch or to listen to it.  



Saturday, June 21, 2014

Growing Older

Photo credit: Hartwig HKD. Some rights reserved. The poem is public domain.

I once was filled with hopes and dreams
Of serving God in bigger ways,
Of preaching to a growing church;
Of mission work, and writing, too,
Composing songs and writing books
And trusting God to meet our needs.

I prayed that we would have a home
Filled up with love. I didn’t care
About a house. A room or two
Would do.
But if a house, a house where strangers could come in
And feel our love
And meet our Lord
And start their lives anew.

That’s how my heart was
Some short years ago.

Now youth is gone,
And twilight’s closing in
Much faster than I dreamed.
My strength is fading.
My hopes have faded, gone
To live in other younger men.
O, may they live them,
Not just dream them for awhile!

My mind, once swift and bright
As any shooting star,
Now alternately leaps and limps.
Will I be senile shortly now,
Unable to do anything but wait
For death’s release to life above?

If so, our God will see me through.
While dreams are dying all around
And hope lies shattered on the ground,
I hear one thought, still, clear and true.
“There is a God! He cares for you.”

Written May or June, 1994. In reading this after 20 years, I sense an undertone of self-pity and discouragement. I'm thankful that I rarely pity myself these days. 

I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.
(Psalm 37:25 ESV. Read all of verses 23-26.)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Subtle Words


Subtle words,
Almost true,
Soon would kill
Me or you.

First, a small
Seed of doubt--
Then, the lies
Start to sprout.

After that,
Just a breath
Stands between
You and death.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ...?” (Genesis 3:1 ESV)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Manly Strength


Brothers, God has made you firm and strong
Not for empty, proud displays--
Brawny feats to grab some praise--
But to serve him all day long.

Other men have cleared the way,
Gone through deserts, jungles, mud,
Sacrificed their very blood
So that you'd be here today.

Honor, then, that legacy.
Join the fight for all that's right.
Lead and guard--by day, by night.
Be the light for all to see.

And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work. (Nehemiah 2:18 ESV)

Saturday, June 07, 2014

The Marriage Supper


Hear the voice like mighty thunder,
Roaring like Niagara,
Saying all must praise their Maker,
For the Lord Almighty reigns!

Hear the call to celebration—
Joy and glory flow to God.
Now the Lamb is to be married.
Now his lovely bride appears.

She’s prepared herself. What beauty!
She’s been given linen bright:
Righteous deeds of all the holy
Shining forth in purity.

Look in awe. Shout Hallelujah!
Praise the Lord whose words are true!
Blessed are those who are invited
To the marriage of the Lamb!


Theology notes: My understanding is that the Lamb's bride is the true Israel (see Isaiah 61:10), the church (see Ephesians 5:25-27 and 2 Corinthians 11:1-3),  the new Jerusalem (see Revelation 21:1-2). In other words, the bride is the people of God. We as individuals are the guests, not the bride.
The righteous deeds in which the bride is wrapped are given to her. We are not saved by our good works, but are saved for good works (see Ephesians 2:8-10).

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Like an Infant

Photo credit: Andrew Morrell. Some Rights Reserved

Like an infant, I can do
Nothing, nothing, nothing well.
Like an infant, I can rest
Fully, fully, full of trust.

I can trust the Lord who saves
Little, simple, helpless ones.
I can trust his gracious ways.
I can simply rest and trust.

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; 
  fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, 
  over the man who carries out evil devices!
(Psalm 37:7 ESV)

There's a time to stand up and fight. We're in a spiritual war. But there's also a time to simply stop striving; to trust; to rest. Never trust in your own strength. Even when in a spiritual battle, trust the Lord's strength, not your own.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

God's Image



Christ Jesus takes the burning light
Of God, the holiest,
And makes it plain to human sight.
We look--and we are blessed.

He seems a simple, common man.
A carpenter. A Jew
With sturdy legs and working hands,
And yet he is God, too.

This simple man has made whole worlds
And yet will bless a child.
He planned how stars were all unfurled
But lives with us a while.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For everything was created by Him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through Him and for Him. (Colossians 1:15-16 HCSB)

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