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Showing posts from May, 2009

Taste of Spurgeon

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Taken May 31st from Morning and Evening by Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892):

"The king also himself passed over the brook Kidron." — 2 Samuel 15:23

David passed that gloomy brook when flying with his mourning company from his traitor son. The man after God's own heart was not exempt from trouble, nay, his life was full of it. He was both the Lord's Anointed, and the Lord's Afflicted. Why then should we expect to escape? At sorrow's gates the noblest of our race have waited with ashes on their heads, wherefore then should we complain as though some strange thing had happened unto us?

The KING of kings himself was not favoured with a more cheerful or royal road. He passed over the filthy ditch of Kidron, through which the filth of Jerusalem flowed. God had one Son without sin, but not a single child without the rod. It is a great joy to believe that Jesus has been tempted in all points like as we are. What is our Kidron this morning? Is it a faithless friend, a sad…

Please Accept This Lamb

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“Please accept this lamb,”
The Hebrew father said.
Then gave it to the priest,
His hand placed on its head.

“A pure and spotless lamb,”
The temple priest replied.
Then quickly took the knife
And cut its throat. It died.

How horrible our sins must seem
Before a holy God.
How vital that the blood must cleanse
Each wicked deed or thought.

How shameful that a blameless lamb
Must suffer in our stead.
The father left the temple as
These thoughts weighed on his head.

“Behold the man, your Jesus,”
The Roman governor said.
“I find no fault to kill him;
Your priests would see him dead.”

“We have no king but Caesar,”
The angry mob replied.
“His blood shall be upon us.”
And shamefully, Christ died.

How lovingly he came to earth
To teach his Father’s heaven.
How patiently he bore life’s cross
That we might be forgiven.

How willingly he shed his blood,
Fulfilling the atonement.
The senseless crowd dispersed in awe,
Not knowing what it all meant.

“Here is my blood, dear Father,”
The risen Saviour said.
“I place it on your altar;
Si…

Message at the Meal

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A hymn they sang to finish
Their last meal with the Lord;
A time of blessing hidden
From threat of scribe or sword.

An upper room was furnished
For what had proved to be
Their place of richest teaching
Ere Jesus faced the tree.

As other families gathered,
So he with his reclined.
The Vine with his dear branches,
By love so intertwined.

In bitter-sweet remembrance
Of Israel’s darkest hour,
When lamb’s blood o’er the door-frame
Assured redeeming power.

And as no other member
Would stoop to washing feet,
Christ took the soothing laver
And made the feast complete.

With bread and wine he showed them
The brotherhood’s new fare;
Those broken, poured-out tokens,
His life and love to share.

Then startling words were uttered,
Their peace abruptly cleft;
That one would soon betray him,
And Judas, strangely, left.

The stillness now arresting,
With his departure near,
The Master seized the moment
To overcome their fear.

And spoke of how the Spirit
Would soon be at their door,
To strengthen them and comfort them
And teach them more…

Schambach' s Biker Buddy

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I have a real debt of gratitude to evangelist R.W. Schambach of Tyler, Texas. Often on a Friday night my family would hop into the car and head out of Chatham to enjoy the fresh air and to get better radio reception from Detroit for the "Voice of Power" daily broadcast.

Brother Schambach always found the right balance in his messages. Acknowledging trials as real but pressing through on the promises for victory. He was Everyman's preacher, and his auditorium or tent meetings drew an amazing cross-section of people. The common denominator was need. Praise was electric. Prayer lines were long and fruitful.

I remember one "big blue tent" meeting at the Detroit fairgrounds. Half way through the message our baby Jordan became cranky, and I left the girls to give him some fresh air in his stroller around the periphery. Seated toward the back were four biker-looking individuals, seemingly out of place. Denim. Chains. Beards (All except the girl).Tattoos. Folded muscular…

Disciples

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Better the storm with Jesus,
Better the wind and waves.
Better the strain at sea, than
Comfort the worldling craves.

Better the toil with Jesus,
Better the cost of love.
Better his servant’s wage, than
Riches from push and shove.

Better the shame with Jesus,
Better the sneers and scorn.
Better the world’s reproach, than
Praise of the Devil born.

Better the trial with Jesus,
Better the laboured prayer.
Better the night of faith, than
Shallow days free from care.

Better the cross with Jesus,
Better the wounded side.
Better the taken hurt, than
Hurt given back in pride.

Better the grave with Jesus,
Better the death to self.
Better the Father’s will, than
Comfort and praise and wealth.

Better the life with Jesus,
Better the hope of gain.
As with him we may suffer,
So with him we shall reign!

Romans 8:18 - For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Young Legs, Old Heart

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Ozymandias

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which still survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

Canada's Kipling

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L'Envoi

We talked of yesteryears, of trails and treasure,
Of men who played the game and lost or won;
Of mad stampedes, of toil beyond all measure,
Of camp-fire comfort when the day was done.
We talked of sullen nights by moon-dogs haunted,
Of bird and beast and tree, of rod and gun;
Of boat and tent, of hunting-trip enchanted
Beneath the wonder of the midnight sun;
Of bloody-footed dogs that gnawed the traces,
Of prisoned seas, wind-lashed and winter-locked;
The ice-gray dawn was pale upon our faces,
Yet still we filled the cup and still we talked.

The city street was dimmed. We saw the glitter
Of moon-picked brilliants on the virgin snow,
And down the drifted canyon heard the bitter,
Relentless slogan of the winds of woe.
The city was forgot, and, parka-skirted,
We trod that leagueless land that once we knew;
We saw stream past, down valleys …

Pairing for Life

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Young and Old

from The Water Babies

WHEN all the world is young, lad,
And all the trees are green;
And every goose a swan, lad,
And every lass a queen;
Then hey for boot and horse, lad,
And round the world away;
Young blood must have its course, lad,
And every dog his day.

When all the world is old, lad,
And all the trees are brown;
And all the sport is stale, lad,
And all the wheels run down:
Creep home and take your place there,
The spent and maimed among:
God grant you find one face there,
You loved when all was young.

Charles Kingsley (1819-1875)

He Comes Near

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The church board of management meeting was just about concluded and I had promised to drive a friend home. He had some questions to ask the rector, and I suggested that I would wait quietly in the semi-lit sanctuary.

The day had been busy with the demands of a rookie law practice and I welcomed this small opportunity to coast and let my thoughts go free. In front of me were the stained glass windows, the choir stalls, the pews, Prayer Book, Prayer Book, Bible, Prayer Book...

My eye fixed on one old black "Holy Bible". Hadn't spent much time in that. But I knew the Church seasons, celebrations, polity, creeds and daily considerations as the People's Warden.

Friend was taking his time. I reached for the scriptures and by chance opened to the beginning of the epistle of James, purportedly the brother of Jesus, and one who hadn't taken Him very seriously at the beginning.

The letter seemed surprisingly practical - trials and victory, good deeds backing up confession, imp…

Fond Remembrance

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Veronica,
You have much
To be thankful for,
As you boil your leftovers
And wait for the
Bathroom wax to dry.

The boy is out
Doing his deliveries,
And Connie is late
At school with her project.
Ted will phone
Tonight from Calgary.

He has been so
Tired these last few weeks.
But the Company
Has a new customer.
Big one…out west.
He’s the senior driver.

Still you’re lonely,
Veronica.
And the bills are there.
In various colours.
Beckoning.
From the top of the fridge.

Hang in there, girl.
Everyone will be home
This weekend.
And Saturday dinner
Is planned with Kate
And her fiancé.

Remember how your
Sister came to your
Kitchen table.
And cried that Frank
Wanted to call it off,
After eighteen months.

Remember how the
Two of you
Had really prayed.
For guidance, for healing.
(She the seasoned
Career girl.)

Remember four summers
Ago, Veronica.
When you had had
Your own doubts about Ted.
The phone calls, late nights,
And feeble explanations.

Remember at the
Last school, your boy’s
Circle of tough friends.
The merchandise hidden
In the basement.
The …

One Sows, Another Waters...

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The man of God had made his plans.
He’d crossed the rolling blue.
His tent was raised.
His posters out.
And all the churches knew,
That he was blessed with seed-faith power
And healing for the weak.
And now Australia was his goal,
A soul-harvest to seek.

But troubled times had hit the isle,
As Labour made demands.
Their pickets set.
Their tempers raised.
And now perhaps their plans
Would take them “to the Yank’s church-show”,
White-collars there to find.
A ruffian bunch all dressed in blue,
With foul-play on their mind.

Now those in suits and fancy hats
Already held their place.
The orchestra
Was warming up
To play “Amazing Grace”.
And backstage still, the man of God
Was praying with his crew.
(The audience were getting loud.
Was this what Aussies do?)

Then bursting in upon the prayer,
A helper spoke with fear;
That groups of men,
Truckloads of them,
Were standing in the rear.
And searching ‘round for business folk
Who set their work and wage.
What now to do? Just call things off?
The preacher took the stage.

The big te…

Go Way Back

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Dad (Jack Blair) was stationed with the R.A.F. at Invergordon, Scotland during the war. Working radar, navigation and surveillance on Sunderland floating bombers over the North Sea. He remembers one day being reprimanded and excused from a flight for some other menial task. He watched that plane head out over Cromarty Firth, falter and crash into the waves. Great loss of life. There were other close calls.

Mom (Bev Blair) lost her mother to a heart attack when she was only fourteen. Her father Ken, a WW1 veteran injured at Vimy, tried his best while working as a commercial painter at C.P.R. A Danish Aunt Mary, sister to the deceased Hertha, became the surrogate mother providing much female comfort and counsel.

After the war a neighbour half a block away from Aunt Mary had some interesting news. Her elderly father Hank Radway, a golf personality in London had met a strapping young man who worked for his Uncle Tom Munro at Munro Sports. Match -maker collaboration ensued and the date was o…

Providence - Mine and Yours

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I thought that I knew
What you’re going through.
I thought that I knew…
I was wrong.

I once had a bout
Of similar vein,
Of similar pain.
But not yours.

I sensed that the world
Had turned on me,
A cruel destiny,
Without hope.

And even my prayers
Met brazen skies.
The tears, the cries.
Where was God?

But one day the blue
Returned above.
I felt His love,
And it passed.

I now see the test
Had made me grow;
Christ’s heart to know.
I was changed.

And this was to be
My providence,
Of little sense,
‘Til I learned

That God has a plan
Which must use loss,
To show the Cross
To each child.

So I will not dare
Say what to do,
‘Til His work’s through,
And you’ve won.

But I will be here,
A needed friend,
An ear to bend,
Like the Son.

I thought that I knew
What you’re going through.
I thought that I knew…
I was wrong.

Baby's Colic (1987)

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He’s up again,
And crying for some cause
Best known to him.
His mother needs more rest.
So, it’s my turn.
And with him now
Some midnight oil will burn.

It’s such a mess:
My business gone to pot.
And awkward friends
Would rather stare.
“A lawyer in a stew.”
Some of them care.
A sharp young lawyer? Not.

The baby came.
And even in this squeeze
There is some joy.
A bright-eyed little boy
His sister takes in hand.
Yet times are rough.
It’s hard to understand.

We cuddle now.
And in the tattered sofa
Find some peace.
No longer squirming for release.
His eyes fast shut.
Like some pink toy.
I’d never harm the boy.

Alone, I lounge
To cadence of a clock.
But not alone.
Inside I hear Him talk.
The Holy One,
Assuring me
'I’d never harm you, Son.'

Gewd Dr. MacLure

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Again from "Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush" (Ian Maclaren)

"A month syne there wesna a stronger man in the Glen than Saunders,
an' noo he wes juist a bundle o' skin and bone, that naither saw nor
heard, nor moved nor felt, that kent naethin' that was dune tae him.

"Hillocks, a' wudna hae wished ony man tae hev seen Saunders--for it
wull never pass frae before ma een as long as a' live--but a' wish
a' the Glen hed stude by MacLure kneelin' on the floor wi' his
sleeves up tae his oxters and waitin' on Saunders.

"Yon big man wes as pitifu' an' gentle as a wumman, and when he laid
the puir fallow in his bed again, he happit him ower as a mither dis
her bairn."

Thrice it was done, Drumsheugh ever bringing up colder water from
the spring, and twice MacLure was silent; but after the third time
there was a gleam in his eye.

"We're haudin' oor ain; we're no bein' maistered, at ony rate; mair
a' canna say for …

Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush

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The following is an excerpt from the above work of fiction (1895) by Ian Maclaren. I delighted in this book, toughing out the Scots brogue, to discover a village of generous- hearted neighbours going about their business, and keeping a constant look toward Christ out of the corners of their eyes:

"So they sat down together beside the brier bush, and after one
glance at Marget's face the minister opened his heart, and told her
the great controversy with Lachlan.

Marget lifted her head as one who had heard of some brave deed, and
there was a ring in her voice.

"It maks me prood before God that there are twa men in Drumtochty
who follow their conscience as king, and coont truth dearer than
their ain freends. It's peetifu' when God's bairns fecht through
greed and envy, but it's hertsome when they are wullin' tae wrestle
aboot the Evangel, for surely the end o' it a' maun be peace.

"A've often thocht that in the auld days baith the man on the rack
an…

River Ducks

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A walk by the river in winter
My Father and I undertake.
The bush is all glaze from the ice-storm,
Affording a needed wind-break.
The City with all its white panic
Seems much farther off than in fact.
The Country calls us to adventure,
With lunch and hot drinks duly packed.

We’ve done this before, but in springtime
With wildflowers and vine in the bloom.
But this day holds different promise,
Somewhere in the gray and the gloom.
The trees are bereft of their songsters
Save only one brave chickadee,
Who scolds from his perch in the low brush,
My Father and I cannot see.

Approaching a bend in the river
My Father, with much softer gait,
Binoculars pulled for a sighting,
And signaling me just to wait,
Steps out to the clearing at shoreline,
Where ice has been broken away,
By storm sewer’s much warmer waters,
And ducks are out there, and at play.

The first that I see are just landing,
With synchronized drop, skimming wake,
And greeted by others assembled.
What strange, raucous music they make!
The mallards, mergansers…

Temagami Laker

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Hard to tell where
Copper-tone rock- face ends
And lake surface begins.
Mirror image.
Late afternoon sun
Bathing all in rust.
Trolling this
Finger-arm of the lake
These twenty-five minutes.
The boy is intent.
Line out a good
Seventy feet,
And thirty feet beneath.
Trusty Rapala
Doing its lazy wiggle.
Noticed a gull
Plopping to surface.
Feasting on small-fry.
Same gull,
Moments ago,
Other end of the slip.
Something beneath,
Frightening up a school
Of little ones.
Perhaps a pattern?
Will the hunter
Again harvest
The far end?
“Doug, let’s quietly
Pull in line,
And scoot down
Hundred and fifty yards.
See if He comes back.”
Springbok delicately
Traverses the fluid face.
Fresh wind pleasant
On eyes and cheeks.
“This should be right.
Don’t cast. Drop
And play out some
Hundred and twenty feet.”
Trolling motor
Reduced to childish chug.
Overhead, blue heron
Bats out his strange
Anti-flight.
Waiting.
Croaking sounds from tree-line
Suggest heron's nest.
Fish-line quivers where
Wave ringlets mar
Sun-trail of gold.
“Still, Doug. Wait.
Don’t spo…

Wordsworth

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And just one more:

Composed Upon Westminster Bridge

September 3, 1802

EARTH has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

The Village Blacksmith

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I guess tonight is the night I feature some of my favourite works of the greats. This one is by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and it is full of image and character.

UNDER a spreading chestnut-tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.

His hair is crisp, and black, and long,
His face is like the tan;
His brow is wet with honest sweat,
He earns whate'er he can,
And looks the whole world in the face,
For he owes not any man.

Week in, week out, from morn till night,
You can hear his bellows blow;
You can hear him swing his heavy sledge,
With measured beat and slow,
Like a sexton ringing the village bell,
When the evening sun is low.

And children coming home from school
Look in at the open door;
They love to see the flaming forge,
And hear the bellows roar,
And catch the burning sparks that fly
Like chaff from a threshing-floor.

He goes on Sunday to …

The Violinist

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I just want to share this poem by Archibald Lampman (1861-1899).

I can remember enjoying the drive east on Highway Three from Blenheim to Morpeth. Just before you reach the turn-off for Rondeau Park, you will see a small church- memorial and beautiful sloping farmland down to Lake Erie.

While living in Chatham we would crave this drive for a look at land which was neither flat nor covered with corn. One could go inside the chapel and feel the warm and reverent spirit of rural Kent County folk. A blue Ontario historical plaque featuring Lampman was just outside.

The following poem displays the large heart of this "Confederation Poet". Note the short span of his life. Interesting name, "Lampman".

Banner: Canadian Poetry Archive
THE VIOLINIST
Lampman, Archibald


In Dresden in the square one day,
His face of parchment, seamed and gray,
With wheezy bow and proffered hat,
An old blind violinist sat.

Like one from whose worn heart the heat
Of life had long ago retired,
He played…

Robert Moffat

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Gang awa frae tha Glen
Tae a fearsome place;
Where tha darkened souls
Hae na gleemps o’grace.
Where tha work must fit
A new tongue and race.
Gang awa frae tha Glen for a wheel.

“Tis for certs He has ca’d
Ye, and ye must roon;
Tae a land o’ plagues
And o’ blastin’ sun,
Where tha rule o’ richt
Hae just sceerce begun.
Gang awa frae tha Glen, Robbie, chile.

There be muckle tae ken
O’ tha people’s need;
O’ tha crops that thrive,
O’ tha life they lead;
O’ tha daily thirst;
O’ their warfare, greed.
Gang awa frae tha Glen, and be wise.

Tho’ tha ship be worsted,
Tho’ tha trail be long,
Tho’ tha beasts be awful,
Ye’ll arrive anon;
And commence tae cant
Tha sweet Gospel song.
Gang awa frae tha Glen, in His love.

And ye’ll spot tha dee
When it starts tae click.
As they bring their young,
And they bring their sick;
For o’ Jesus’ kind
They ken nae sic lik..
Gang awa frae tha Glen, tae be used.

An’ it’s nae sa muckle
That their needs ye know,
Whuch’ll fan tha flame,
Cause your strenth tae grow;
But tha confeedence
“Tis your Laird says, “G…

Down from the Cross

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Take him down,
And please be gentle:
He has suffered much today.
Spare those hands
From further tearing,
As we pull the spikes away.

Lift the crown
From his cold forehead;
Never was a King so slain.
Oh, to think
Our laws, our people,
Could have caused him so much pain!

Curse the thought
Of twilight justice
In that court of hate declared.
Oh, that one
Had better argued,
Better fought, to have him spared.

Not a rule
Of our procedure,
But was broken in the sham.
Jesus held
By ruthless slayers,
Silent, sacrificial lamb!

Brother, grief
Is now our portion;
Counsellors to crime are we.
Rue the day
Of our proud calling
To Sanhedrin’s vanity.

Carry him
As best we’re able,
Not a jostle, nor a jar.
He has borne
Our griefs and sorrows;
Friend, his tomb is not too far.

Thanks to God
For Pilate’s ruling,
For the right to take him there.
Hasty work
In cloths and spices,
Winding death ‘round one so fair.

All is done,
And none too early,
As the sabbath rest draws nigh.
Gentle Lord,
So long awaited,
Was it planned that you should die?

ISAIAH 53: …

At the Summit

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The eyesight still is dazzled
And the thinking not too clear,
And the three of us amazed, Lord,
That you ever brought us here.
For the stillness of the setting
And the call to join in prayer,
Neath the vastness and the freshness
Of the silent mountain air,
Gave no warning of the wonders ,
Lord, that you would have us share,

As we drifted into comfort,
You had moved to yonder space,
And the fervency of prayer, Lord,
Soon came gleaming from your face!
How this stirred us from our drifting,
From our flagging in the fight,
As alone, atop that mountain
We were stricken with the sight
Of your face, you clothes, your person,
All awash with inner light!

Not alone now, but in session
With some other-worldly men.
Were they Moses? And Elijah?
Sent to you? To earth again?
How could we so undeserving,
Dare to look upon them so?
Or to catch their words of courage?
We just had to see, to know.
There were you, the Law, the Prophets
And the summit all aglow!

Then as quickly, they had vanished
And the power began to fade,
And our …

Piece of the Puzzle

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Poetry’s a piece of the Puzzle.
Poetry’s a part of the Plan.
Poetry’s a passion unmuzzled.
Poetry’s the pain in a man.

Poetry’s a probe and a penlight.
Poetry’s a pin-prick to pride.
Poetry’s a prayer in the moonlight.
Poetry’s a pony to ride.

Poetry’s a place for the moment.
Poetry’s a person just met.
Poetry’s a plot in an instant.
Poetry’s a punch-line to get.

Poetry’s a palette and paintbrush.
Poetry’s a sweet pastoral tune.
Poetry’s a palpable night-hush.
Poetry’s a picnic in June.

Poetry’s the pleasure of motion.
Poetry’s a pendulum dance.
Poetry’s a pint of the ocean.
Poetry’s a pressing romance.

Poetry’s a pine-scented north-wood.
Poetry’s a piece of a wing.
Poetry’s a prophet of some good.
Poetry’s the pluck still to sing.

Poetry’s the passing of season.
Poetry’s a pathway once trod.
Poetry’s the piercing of reason.
Poetry’s the prospect of God.

Gifted

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What skill, what gift
What fashioned art,
Has come your way,
Set you apart;
Has settled on
Your hands, your eyes,
Your tongue, your pen,
Your tools, your pies;
Has come to you
With little strain,
While others toil
The skill to gain;
Has been the joy
Of leisure’s hours,
In shaping wood
Or tending flowers;
Has been the means
To new friends met,
And medium for
Their blessing yet;
Has raised your voice
In moving song,
To lift the heart,
To heal the wrong;
Has filled your mind
With hidden views
Which splash to life
From palette’s hues;
Has given you
Creation joy
To pass to lass
Or eager boy.
All these are gifts
To you in trust.
Creator shares
His power with dust.
And with the gift
You should, you should
Spread blessing, help
And simple good.

Getting Theirs

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I have been thrilled watching two unknown Brits getting an opportunity to display remarkable musical talents on television and internet.

Paul Potts,a shy electronics salesman, bursts forth with opera and the audience at "Britain's Got Talent" cheer and cry. Ultimately for Paul a royal command performance and a wide open door.

Latterly a spunky little Scottish spinster and church volunteer wows the same program with powerful show tunes. Again the world watches with glee. Perhaps this Susan Boyle will win the current competition.

In general we empathize with the unassuming people who are often nearly invisible in our midst.Their appearance is never noticed. Their comments are seldom heeded. Their name is never called early for selection. They quietly let others pass through to the brass ring of success. They often possess sweet humility. Pray that they not be broken.

But let God give a talent, a few encouraging friends or family, a little opportune coaching, a dash of favour i…

This Word Lives

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I remember a devotional concerning two men in the ministry who had graduated from the same seminary and gone to preach in far distant parts of the country.

After years, a class reunion brought them into contact and they shared wonderful days getting re-acquainted. In discussing the trials and victories at their respective posts it became apparent that they had each experienced significant life crises in the same week years before. They could now look back with thanksgiving and a sense that the "dark tunnels" ultimately brought richness to their lives and service for others (2 Corinthians 1:6).

They related how particular strength had come for the trial from a single verse of scripture. In fact, it was the same verse for each of them, although the challenging circumstances were very different.

What a living Word compels us, counsels us, comforts us! I remember the children's toy, the kaleidoscope. It looked like a telescope but it contained beautiful fragments of coloured gl…

Smith

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Thinking again of Smith Wigglesworth (1859-1947) and a curious internet entry entitled, "The Sad Legacy of Smith Wigglesworth".

Sad? What could be sad about a world-wide service for Jesus shining with episodes of divine healing, salvation experiences, deliverances, creative miracles and call-backs from death?

[I remember one account in the book "Smith Wigglesworth Remembered" (Harrison House Publishers) where the author W. Hacking told of his first encounter. He and friends were late for a meeting and walked in to find the message in progress. The evangelist was speaking of the Transfiguration of Jesus (Matthew 17:1-9) and illustrated with both hands fingering above his head. Back-light from an upper window was giving this gesture a glorious effect. A little bottle of Smith's anointing oil was on the platform floor and in the speaker's wanderings in the heat of the message the bottle remained unharmed. The author was mesmerized by the bottle and Smith's…

Dropping in on Jesus

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Through the roof! We scarce believed it
In our curiosity,
As those four men tore off clay tiles
With such bold expectancy.

And the fifth, pathetic cripple,
Wrapped so tight in his bed-roll,
Lowered gently down to Jesus,
Through the newly-made roof hole.

Such a sight no one expected;
And to me a gaudy show.
Where he found them, what he paid them
To perform, I did not know.

But the crowd moved back allowing
Ample room for this strange scene
Of a lifeless palsied creature
Wishing only to be made clean.

Not a word was said by any,
Focused on that sunlit spot.
Could he do it? Would he do it?
What a fine showman, I thought.

But in Jesus’ face was glowing
Such delight and sympathy,
That his next words caught me off-guard:
“Son, thy sin is forgiven thee.”

Had he said what no man dare say?
To this poor wretch on the floor?
And the scribes no doubt were thinking
Sanctimonious uproar!

Not a one forgives the sinner
But our great Jehovah-God.
In his zeal this man had blasphemed;
So the scribes, no doubt, had thought.

But he spo…

Leamington

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Our footsteps echo
On boards,
As if wearing
Wooden shoes.
Marsh grass, cat-tails
And bull-rushes
All around.
And this two-by-six
Sidewalk meandering
Through the blue-and-green,
Like the face of some
Children’s board game.
I have often told
Daughter Lauren
About this place-Pelee.
(Canada’s southernmost.
Sandy spit of land
On Erie.
Parallel with
California’s latitude.
Gathering spot for
Bird migrations,
Monarch migrations,
Sunday picnics.)
We’ve taken in
The Interpretive Centre,
Electric tram
To Land’s End.
And now the Boardwalk.
With curly-headed
Five-year-old
Hard to reign in.
To our daughter
This structure
Must seem endless.
A surprise at every turn.
Two painted turtles
Frozen, sunning on a log.
Muzzle of muskrat
Breaks water, surfacing
From lattice-work
Of lily roots.
“Bobble-TWEE, bobble-TWEE.”
Red-wing perched on
Rustling cat-tail.
Bold black, red
And yellow,
Starkly contrasted
To hazy June sky.
Gulls in miniature,
Distant, in the
Open-water channels.
Movements from
Liquid face to sky
And back again;
Jagged, silent, repetitive,
Like…

Beijing Monument

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Xin passed the pillar.
Chairman’s head raised
Above red mantle.
Four sides telling
In flowing font
Of ages and empires,
Battles and production,
Rivers traveled and tamed.
Of poets who sang
The Revolution.
Peasants who trod the terraces,
With partner-beasts.
Silent women who bore
The New Generation.
For a cup of rice each evening.
Xin read the account
Of pain, peril,
Party Promises.
Such patient dedication
In Grandfather’s time.
The Common Plan,
Common Pot, Common Purity.
(He died in
A mining box-car
Accident at Peng-Chow.)
Xin knew by sun’s angle
It was time to leave
The Great Square,
With its din of excited tourists,
Aiming Minoltas.
Paving-stones displayed
Scarrings and strafings.
Singed signatures
From That Other Day
Of Raised Fists.
And now, just enough time
To make the last cinema
With Meng, his latest interest,
Looking ever so right
In her blue Gap jeans.

Note: Inspired by news from our son, Jordan, who visited Beijing last fall. How remarkable that he could communicate so quickly with us via the internet. N…

Stratford Ships of State

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On the courtly banks of Avon,
With the theatre in view,
And the audience-in-waiting,
And the picnics, not a few.

We come yearly to remember
Where our marriage troth was set,
To rehearse that night of magic
When these hearts were firmly knit.

Now the play had been the reason
For our trip from out-of-town;
But the ring was in my suit-coat,
And my Queen in gorgeous gown.

And the dinner was delightful,
And the promenade stream-side.
‘Cross the bridge out to the island.
Would she come back o’er my bride?

She had surely seen it coming.
And the question popped with ease.
And the snap-shot still reflects
Her glowing face, so quick to please.

And the swans sailed past the island
With their canvas spread in state,
And their lowered necks, acknowledged,
“Yet another finds his mate.”

Then the fanfare called the audience
To the dimming lights, the play.
But the Main Event was ours, not theirs,
By Avon, that fair day!

Note: Thirty-six years ago. Magical! Hilary and I often return to Stratford. The play that night was entitle…

Into the Cedars

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I enter the cedar stand
With muffled footfall.
The Bay wind
Traveling at my side
Did not make it into the canopy.
Decomposition of years beneath.
Carpeted mosaic,
Dead-fall, granite, root-fingers, lichens.
Gnarled, ruddy sentries
In light-green camouflage,
Note my arrival.
Guarding the Past.
Guarding the Present.
Guarding the Peace.
Guarding the Plan.
A barking raven-my herald.
Doubtless, chipmunks and
White-tail freeze in their fashion,
Wondering if I mean harm.
Temperature drops a few degrees.
Shades are drawn.
Hospitable host, though shy.
Quietly checking out my manners.
I sense I must stand still,
Waiting.
Honouring timeless laws
Of territory.
As if to be waved in.
Frozen moment.
(Excepting only the
Carpenter ant dragging
Moth five-times-his-size
Along a fallen trunk.)
Some Conductor flips his baton.
Green-noise musical score resumes.
I am in.
Perhaps given the tour.
Nuthatch sidles around a trunk
To give me a peek.
Above, though hidden,
That clarion white-throated
Summer soun…

Take the Road Map Challenge

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I am just going to suggest that you try something over a week of readings. No explanation is offered. Take the revelation for yourself.

Consider Psalms 40 through 46 and see if they do not chart out some of the Believer's life course in faith, from rescue and right-standing, through yearnings, stumblings, persecutions and victories to the Marriage Feast of the Lamb and the Heavenly City.

Quite a road map.

Our Great High Priest

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I am troubled by what I see these days of Kingdom Now attitudes challenging the Church. There is a new kind of citizen, they say, on the planet, neither Jew nor Gentile, but rather Kingdom worker.

This person purportedly has been redeemed by the blood of Calvary, indwelt by the Spirit and is exercising remarkable gifts to bring to completion the agenda of Jesus. He is not looking for the imminent return of the Saviour in glory, because his community must first win the battle of correcting this world in righteousness. Use politics if necessary. Then and only then will Jesus arrive to take the reins.

At first blush the ambition of it all sounds admirable. Better to be working in obedience to Matthew 25 than to be found idle, cloud gazing on the “rapture watch”. It is flattering to think that we might literally be the hands, voice and power of Jesus bringing His Kingdom to fruition. The Preterists say some of the same things.

Sorry friends, although redeemed, we are still made of the “fle…

A Soul in Peril

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Father, I pray for this dear man.
He sees no need for your great plan.
He little cares about our Jesus;
Lives his life just as he pleases.
Nothing shakes his self-reliance,
Though it is but God-defiance..

When I try to share the Gospel,
He just thinks it quite impossible,
That a life without gross scandal
Will be lost without Christ’s mantle.
In his business, he is honest.
In his family he is so blessed.

How can this fine civic hero
Be convinced that he scores zero
On your scale of righteous worth?
Will you interrupt his mirth?
Will you show his blackened heart?
Will you pull his pride apart?

Sad to say, he does partake
Of a church you didn’t make.
One which states that all find Heaven.
One admitting worldly leaven.
One where new birth truth is missing.
One which makes the Cross a trite thing.

Please, dear Lord, assign your Spirit;
Show him Hell, and make him fear it.
Show him how in Adam’s fall,
Sin crept into one and all.
Sin, which exalts selfish purpose,
Sin, which renders good deeds worthless.

I believe that…

A Kiss on the Cheek

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The story is told of Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) walking a remote country lane and discovering a beggar sitting in the grass. The poor man said nothing but held up a beaten dish.

By reflex Francis reached into his robe for a small loaf of bread, smiled and placed the food in the dish. He continued on his way. About twenty-five yards farther he stopped knowing that something was not right.

Francis returned to the beggar, sat down beside him, gently kissed his cheek and said something to the effect of "God in Heaven loves you more than you could possibly imagine. He knows all about you."

They sat quietly for a moment, and then Francis continued on his journey. One more time he turned to give a parting wave of the hand. He saw not the beggar, but rather Jesus standing, smiling, at the roadside at that exact spot. Francis had kissed the cheek of his Master!

Fact or fiction? Does it matter? The story is worth telling as a reminder of the fact that we will be surprised with opportun…

In My Father's Lap

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You have come to me with questions,
And I’m glad that you have come,
And I will provide the answers in a while.
And I’m pleased with you for waiting,
And I’m pleased with you for trusting;
And I know that you are growing through this trial.

You have come to me in peril,
And I’m glad that you have come,
And I will dispatch the angels to your aid.
And the Enemy will flee now,
And the skeptics all will see now,
And your victory of faith will be displayed.

You have come to me for cleansing,
And I’m glad that you have come,
And I know that your repentance is sincere.
Find relief in your confessing,
While the tears bring special blessing;
I forgive you; once again the slate is clear.

You have come to me for guidance,
And I’m glad that you have come,
And I will disclose the way that you should go.
For you know that I am Wisdom,
And my perfect law is freedom,
And in walking in obedience, you will know.

You have come to me requesting,
And I’m glad that you have come,
And I fully see the needs that you now face.
All the …

Lord, Send Revival

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Godlessness, recoiling,
Strikes again the blow.
Jesus’ name is slandered.
Lord, that they might know.

(He is all the glory.
He is all the praise.
He is all the answer,
For these restless days.)

Fear of God is lacking.
Love of Christ is rare.
Churches hide their candle.
Do they really care?

“Men are all-sufficient;”
So the journals sing.
(Why need we a “saviour”?
Strange, out-dated thing.)

Still the candle flickers,
Touching one by one,
Hearts that seek for better,
Hearts that hear the Son.

Stop the superficial!
Stop the sad parade!
There is not a blessing,
But that God has made!

He will soon take action,
Laying bare men’s games.
Burning through the districts
With revival’s flames!

Then Christ gets the glory.
Then the ransomed sing.
Then awakened men see
God in everything.

Lord, please send revival!
Send once more the rain!
Holy, happy wonders
In our midst again.

Psalm 85:4 - Turn us, O God of our salvation, and cause thine anger toward us to cease.