Wednesday, December 13, 2017

No Idols

Smash those idols. Smash them all.
Trust the Lord. Obey his call.
Other roads all lead to death.
He's your source of life and breath.
Think of all the good he's done.
Mark his blessings; name each one.
He has blessings yet ahead.
Look! the rising of the dead!

You shall fear the Lord your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name. He is your praise and He is your God, who has done these great and awesome things for you which your eyes have seen. Your fathers went down to Egypt seventy persons in all, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars of heaven. (Deuteronomy 10:20-22 NASB)

Image credit: Flickr user aka CJ. Photo name is Broken_red_roof_tiles_3

Saturday, December 02, 2017


Forgive? Forgive, you say? Forgive?
Just how can I forgive?
I've suffered all this pain and loss.
I'm hurting. Aching. Cold at night,
Cold at heart and getting hard.
And yet, you say, forgive?

But, Lord, you're right. Of course you're right.
Through you I can forgive.
I've caused you pain. I've caused you loss.
I've sinned. Rebelled. Been cruel, cold
Stone-hard of heart through my own sin.
And yet you, Lord, forgive.

Forgive? Forgive. I do forgive!
Your love lets me forgive.
Yes, I've had pain and cruel loss.
I've hurt and ached and shivered cold,
But now my heart is tender, warm.
I'm ready. I forgive.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
--Colossians 3:12-14 ESV

I wrote this for a friend who's found it hard to forgive someone who broke sacred promises. Forgiveness is both a choice and a continuing process. Selfish anger or resentment or bitterness may pop into our minds and hearts again after we'd already tried to forgive. All we can do is to keep forgiving. Forgiving doesn't mean we deny the facts of the offense, but it means that we choose to no longer hold them as a weapon over the person who wounded us. We can do that because of the Lord's forgiveness of us, because of his Spirit within us, and because of Romans 8:28--"we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." Forgiveness is not fully completed until the person who did the offense is willing to acknowledge it and to turn from it (if appropriate). Yet, by God's grace, we can complete our side of it by having a heart that's both willing and eager to forgive as we've been forgiven.  

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Jericho's Walls

See your Jericho--its walls
   Great and thick and strong,
   Nothing you can breach at all.

Now look at the Lord who fights--
   Conqueror of all,
   Always mighty, always right.

He can make those walls fall down,
   Opening the way
   Starting with an entire town.

...the people shouted a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they captured the city. --Joshua 6:20

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Not My Goodness

Not my goodness, not my zeal
Can explain my Father's love.
Not excitements that I feel...
All's a gift from Him above.

My good works could never earn
Grace for just one sin I've done.
I have earned God's burn
Untold ages, like the sun.

But in mercy he forgave,
Washed me, cleansed me white as snow.
Jesus gave his life to save,
And his mercies ever flow.

He will fill my ev'ry lack.
He will guide me all my days.
I can never pay him back;
Only serve with grateful praise.

We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19 ESV)

Wednesday, November 01, 2017


God the Father knew us
Before there ever was us...
Before our parents ever were,
Before the world's foundations were.

God predestined us--yes, us
To be like Jesus, him stamped on us.
Not an outward stamp of form,
But the heart stamp, flaming, warm.

Our God called us,
Spoke life to us--
Made us hear him,
Love and fear him.

God the Father justified--
Made us clean through Christ who died
And the third day from death rose.
Now we wear his righteous clothes.

God the Father glorified
All of us he'd justified.
He's declared it, and it's sure.
In him we're bright...shining...pure.

And those whom he predestined he also called,
and those whom he called he also justified,
and those whom he justified he also glorified. 

(Romans 8:30 ESV)

This image has nothing to do with the poem, but I like the image. It's part of the walkway along Spring Creek.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Sometimes a Space of Blue

Sometimes a space of blue
Breaks through a troubled sky,
Speaking of hope and heaven.

Sometimes a lark or wren
Sings in a dirty slum,
Proving that all's not lost.

Small as these mercies are,
They must not be despised.
Gently is life renewed.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
(Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV)

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Grace and Peace

Grace and peace
Come as twins
Fresh and sweet
Come within
As we meet
(Praise from lips)
At Christ's feet

To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 

(Romans 1:7 ESV)

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Prayer Before Worship, #1

Father of the faithful,
Thank you for our faith.
Thank you, Lord, for open eyes,
Re-made hearts, pardoned souls,
Opened ears to hear your word.
We have earned no speck of our forgiveness.
Yet we labor for the prize,
For the crown just up ahead,
Custom-made for each
According to our works.
Give us holy zeal today--
A passion, Lord, to serve you well,
A love for serving people,
A joy in speaking holy truth,
An awe in knowing that you work through us.

We are yours. Do as you will.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Faithful in All Seasons

Seasons come and seasons go.
Jesus stays the same--
Full of deeper truths to know.
Praise his holy name.

When our lives wind down to fall
He's still faithful, true.
He'll return, the King of all,
Making all things new.

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:5 ESV)

Friday, September 01, 2017

Heeding God's Clock

Lord, your time is always right.
In your time, seeds bear good fruit.
My time looks so very good--
Only looks. It's not so great.
In my time, seeds sprout forth weeds,
Bringing death instead of life.

Father, may I heed your clock--
Quick to go when you say go,
Firm to stay when you say stay.
I've been stubborn, wanting my own time,
Wanting my own private clock.
Smash my clock so I'll hear yours.

My times are in your hand...." (Psalm 31:15)

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Love and Marriage in Uncertain Times

This couple got married 74 years ago today. They are my parents, Cecil and Hilda Swindle. When they got married, the USA had been at war for nearly two years. Only God knew how much longer the war would last. It was a very small, simple wedding. She was a school teacher. He was a preacher. Is it right to get married under such uncertain circumstances?

Before the war was over, they would move from Nebraska to Texas and California. Dad would end up going to chaplain school at Harvard for a short time, then to the war in Germany. Meanwhile, Mother moved back to where she grew up and taught in the school she'd attended a few years earlier.

After the war, their life together started again. They had three sons. Dad finished his education. He served as pastor of churches. He preached and counseled and performed baptisms and weddings and funerals. People got saved. He had heart attacks and heart surgery and another heart surgery and lymph cancer while Mother guarded his health like a watchdog guards sheep. Mother got Alzheimer's. But they stayed married for nearly 55 years until her death.

So, should they have married in such uncertain times? Well, I'm glad they did. Is it ever a bad time to move forward with faith and joy? All times are uncertain. You're not promised the few seconds it will take you to finish reading this. Yet all times are in the Lord's hands. There may be lots of threats looming on the horizon, but the Lord is sovereign. The things you fear may never come. If they do come, by God's grace they may leave you stronger. Decades from now, you and many others may look back with deep gratitude that you went forward by faith.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Our Keeper

The LORD keeps us night and day;
Keeps his children, come what may;
Keeps us in each troubled way.

Let this be our joyful song:
He who keeps is wise and strong
And he keeps us all day long.

The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
(Psalm 121:5 ESV)

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Jesus Offers

Jesus offers peace of soul--
Takes the broken, makes them whole.
Yet the rebels curse his name--
Run in darkness. More, the same.
Though the LORD is fierce and stern,
He gives grace to those who turn.
Those who trust him wake and thrive.
If they die, they're yet alive.
They find mercy all their days
Walking in his ancient ways.

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. --John 1:4

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Jesus Came For Dreadful Sinners

Jesus came for dreadful sinners.
Jesus came for those like me.
Jesus came for dreadful sinners.
Jesus sets his sinners free.

Jesus loves the lost, the broken.
Jesus heals, and Jesus saves.
Grab with joy the grace he’s spoken.

Jesus loves, and Jesus saves.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Empty Room

Every day's an empty room
Just waiting to be filled.
Will you fill today with trash?
Or all your Lord has willed?

You will fill this room just once,
And once it's filled,  it's gone.
Fill it wisely.  Fill it well.
Then rest…rest well…till dawn.

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16 NKJV)

Friday, June 23, 2017

At the End of Your Rope

When you're dangling--no more rope--
And the LORD seems far away,
And it seems there's no more hope,
Brother, cry to God and pray.

Focus on the things he's done:
How when you were dead and lost
He gave life through his own Son--
Through his tortured death, the cost.

Will your Father now forget
What Christ Jesus came to do?
No, your God will save you yet .
In the end,, he'll see you through.

Hang on, brother, for a while.
Give him all your darkest fears.
Hang on, and you'll see his smile
And he'll wipe away your tears.

I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted. (Psalm 77:1-2 ESV)

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A Thousand Jewels

I nearly missed the work of art
Down near my feet:
A thousand jewels neatly strung
And sparkling in the early morning light.

I was surprised at the lavish beauty,
But should not have been...
This beauty's somehow familiar.
You see, I know the Artist.

The LORD by wisdom founded the earth;
    by understanding he established the heavens;
by his knowledge the deeps broke open,
    and the clouds drop down the dew.
(Proverbs 3:19-20 ESV)

Thursday, June 08, 2017

The Crime

I went to the scene of the crime
And found that the killer was us,
And found that the victim was us...

As guilty as guilty can be,
As dead as a dead man can be.

I stood there like stone for a time
And thought, is there hope yet for us?
Is goodness all banished for us?

God's light found out even that place.
It glowed with great mercy and grace.
Blood-purchased, we're rescued by Christ,

We're innocent, clean as fresh snow
And living forever, you know.

...the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. (Romans 3:22-25)

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

Sunday, May 28, 2017


Ordinary jars
Made of ordinary clay
Bear the Lord's own message
On this ordinary day.

Ordinary people
Hear the mighty, holy word,
And the Lord transforms them
On this ordinary day.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay,
to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

(2 Corinthians 4:7 ESV)

Photo credit:

Monday, May 22, 2017

Do You Love Your Demon?

Do you love your demon?
The one who’s always there,
The one who lives inside you,
With you everywhere?

Do you love your demon? 
That fiend does Satan’s will.
He’d harm and then destroy you.
His ways maim and kill.

Will you then forsake him
And trust in Christ alone
He’ll free you from your demon,
Fit you for a throne.

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. (Proverbs 28:13 ESV)

...Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
(James 4:7 ESV)

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.”
(Luke 11:24-26)

Friday, May 05, 2017

Who Is He?

Jesus, man of power--
Winds and waves and demons
All were subject to him.
Even death submitted.

Who, then, is this Jesus?
Man, but more than just man.
In this simple rabbi,
God himself is with us.

(See Mark 4 and 5.)

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Dark of Hell or Light of Heaven

Dark of hell or light of heaven--
Outer darkness, weep forever,
Or the Brightness--joy forever.
This the choice that we are given.

Can you even comprehend it?
Did you know that Christ's appearing
Is approaching--coming--nearing?
He will take all sin and end it.

Trust in Jesus and keep steady.
Kill your sin. Cast down your pride.
Take your stand on Jesus' side.
Watch for Him, and you'll be ready. 

And you will be hated by all for my name's sake.
But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

(Mark 13:13 ESV)

Saturday, April 22, 2017

No Escape?

When your way is blocked and locked,
Firmly gated, iron-grated,
No way right and no way left,
Can't jump up nor burrow down,
Just remember you're not done.

Jesus sets the captives free.

So if the Son sets you free,
you will be free indeed.

(John 8:36 ESV)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Who Can Help?

Other men may see my need,
   Try to help me,
   Try to free me.
Jesus Christ is Lord indeed.

He can take each broken part,
   Kill each fever,
   Heal, deliver,
Give a new and holy heart.

He will guide me in his ways.
   When he saves me,
   It's not for me.
He will use me all my days.

For you were straying like sheep, 
but have now returned 
to the Shepherd and Overseer
of your souls.
--1 Peter 2:25 (ESV)

Thursday, April 13, 2017


Night comes, a darker time.
Some will spend the night carousing,
But rest is best and blessed.

For those who sleep, sleep at night,
and those who get drunk, are drunk at night.
But since we belong to the day,
let us be sober,
having put on the breastplate of faith and love,
and for a helmet the hope of salvation.

(1 Thessalonians 5:7-8 ESV)

Tuesday, April 04, 2017


Lord, as we meet for worship,
Enable us to love you more...
   More than our church
   More than our theology
   More than our reputations
   More than our pleasures
   More than our nation
   More than our work
   More than our ministries
   More than our families
   More than ourselves

Thank you for your good gifts.
And thank you for showing us over and over
That your gifts are not enough.
We need something more.
We need you. 

We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19 ESV)

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. (James 1:17-18 ESV)

Saturday, March 25, 2017


Grant us, Lord, humility
That comes from knowing you.
Perfection's seen in all you do
While we're a sin-swamped sea.

You will raise those who bow low
And place them on the height
And give them glory, grace and might
While proud ones bow below.

Such reversals honor you.
They show your ways are best.
So let us run to you and rest--
Most sure you'll see us through.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God 
so that at the proper time he may exalt you...

Saturday, March 18, 2017


All we bring is brokenness—
     Wounds that fester,
     Stench of sin.
All we bring is nothingness—
     No achievements,
     No good works.
Jesus gives us everything—
     First his words, and
     Then his touch.
Jesus gives us cleanliness—
     Full forgiveness,
     Sins all gone.
Jesus gives us holiness—
     His own Spirit
     Now within.

Transformation we’ve not earned—
     Praise and bless him

And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. (Matthew 8:2-3 ESV)

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Lord's Final Victory

Hope for all who've been oppressed--
Light, not darkness...Crushed ones blessed...
Overwhelming, poured-out grace...
Refugees now have a place...
God the Father on his throne
And all worship him alone.
Praise the LORD for all he's done!
Glory to him through his Son!

Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

--Isaiah 9:7 ESV

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Prayer in Life's Storm

God of all thunder,
God of all grace,
We bow in wonder
And seek your face.

Our prayers ascending
(Broken but true)
Meet grace unending
Pouring from you.

We claim no merit
From what we've done.
We just inherit
Life through your Son.

God of all thunder,
God of all grace,
We bow in wonder
And seek your face.

Even when I go through the darkest valley,
    I fear no danger, 
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff ​— ​they comfort me.
--Psalm 23:4 CSB

Saturday, February 18, 2017

God Gives Life

Hallelujah! God gives life.
The great LORD... reaches down,
Reaches in to change a man--
Bringing life where death once reigned.
He will use the word we preach.
Some will change--their wills renewed,
They will trust the living Christ--
Jesus, Master, Savior, Lord.

In him [Jesus] was life, and the life was the light of men. 
--John 1:4

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Late-Winter Morning

Blackbirds trilling in the trees
On this chill late-winter day
Soon will northward wing their way
Through a brisk but warmer breeze.

Spring will come as sure as day.
Other birds will fill our trees,
But today the blackbirds please
As they make our day less gray.

​I know all the birds of the hills,
    and all that moves in the field is mine.

--The Lord, in Psalm 50:11

I wrote the poem a week or two ago. I always enjoy hearing or seeing the red-winged blackbirds as they migrate through our area. They were summer residents in western Illinois, where I spent much of my youth.

Saturday, February 04, 2017


Someday we'll have streets of gold 
And stay healthy, not grow old
Never scorching, never cold 
In the new Jerusalem

Someday we'll live in the light
No more clouding of our sight
Always daylight, never night
In the new Jerusalem

Not abandoned, not alone
We'll see Christ there on his throne
Full of grace for all his own
In the new Jerusalem

And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God... (Revelation 21:10 ESV)

Friday, January 13, 2017

Clear Sight

Is your eye clear and bright--
Filled with truth, love and light?
When the day's not begun,
Can you see all Christ's done?
This whole world yet remains
Through his word that sustains.
All is sourced from above.
We exist through his love.
If he ever would stop,
Our existence would drop
Into nothing at all.

Is your eye clear and bright
To experience light?
Do you see what is there?
See God's work everywhere?

The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! --Jesus, in Matthew 6:22-23 ESV

I'm not quite sure what the device is, but I saw it in my eye doctor's office. 

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Time Grows Shorter

Time grows shorter, shorter yet.
People come into our lives
And we see them day by day
And we think there's lots of time,
But there's not.

LORD, you've given us this day
Or, at least, this moment--NOW.
Stir us up to use the time.
May we see that you have planned
All the time that we will need
To do all that you've assigned--
Time for work and time for rest,
Time for worship, time to pray,
But no time at all to waste.
Thank you for this moment, now.

Therefore watch carefully how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise; redeeming the time, because the days are evil. --Ephesians 5:15-16, WEB