Posts

Showing posts from June, 2009

Thy Word Tops All

Image
Following is an excerpt from Spurgeon's "Treasury of David" dealing with Psalm 138:2b

For thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

For thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name. The word of promise made to David was in his eyes more glorious than all else that he had seen of the Most High. Revelation excels creation in the clearness, definiteness, and fulness of its teaching. The name of the Lord in nature is not so easily read as in the Scriptures, which are a revelation in human language, specially adapted to the human mind, treating of human need, and of a Saviour who appeared in human nature to redeem humanity. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but the divine word will not pass away, and in this respect especially it has a preeminence over every other form of manifestation. Moreover, the Lord lays all the rest of his name under tribute to his word: his wisdom, power, love, and all his other attributes combine to carry out his word. It is his word which cr…

Winds of Pentecost

Image
We were there in one accord
In that humble prayer room,
In obedience to our Lord.
He had promised to consume
All our fears and failures
With the Spirit’s power;
As we prayed for Father’s Promise
In that hour;
On the Day of Pentecost.

Jesus led us to believe
It was best that he should go.
Only then could we receive
What he promised to bestow
In a shower of glory,
Fitting us for preaching;
With anointing to conform us
To his teaching,
On the Day of Pentecost.

How the Glory hit that room
With the fire and sound of breeze!
As the One who cleared the tomb
Met us there on bended knees,
Speaking languages we knew not,
Giving proof.
We had found the One to lead us
In all truth,
On the Day of Pentecost.

Fifty days after “First-Fruits”
In that ancient Feast of Weeks,
We were made the first recruits,
By the One whom each soul seeks.
Yes the Holy Spirit gave
His unction to us,
That the Church of Christ might start her
Campaign through us,
On the Day of Pentecost.

If we only looked to him,
Our great Spirit, Comfort, Friend,
He would…

Loaves and Fishes

Image
The crowd had his blessing,
The desert place too.
The teaching refreshed like the cool morning dew.
The sun now was setting,
The homeward trip long.
And Jesus took pity upon the dear throng.

He’d given them wisdom,
He’d given them power,
He’d spoken the Word of God hour after hour.
And not a one waivered
At what he had said.
Their spirits still hungry, their flesh needing bread.

And so he had sent us
To gather up food;
To feed the five thousand, his dear foster brood.
And doubting, we set out
To meet the appeal,
But I of the twelve alone spotted a meal.

“What have you got, Andrew?
Bring it to me.
Fetch your resources, lad, that we might see,
How now the multitude
All will be fed.
Gifts from a faithful lad, fishes and bread.”

Sheepishly I conveyed
What I had found.
How could this boy’s treat be passed all around?
Look at their numbers, Lord.
Look at this snack.
How now will plenty be made from such lack?

Then from my hands he took
All that I had.
Two little fishes, five loaves from the lad;
Blessed them and broke …

His Voice Only

Image
I had opted not to go to the Friday night house church that evening. Had made some snap judgments on the guest speaker which proved to be very wrong. Hilary was eager for the outing and came home with a CD which I neglected to audit for about another week.

Eventually on an extended drive I "gave in" and listened to the message, getting a significant surprise. It was entitled "The Temptations of Christ" and it packed a real punch. The teacher was a Maurice Barratt from Manchester, England.(http://barrattministries.org.uk/)

Looking at the first temptation of turning stones into bread after Christ's fast (Matthew 4:3), he suggested that there was nothing obviously wicked about the Devil's request. At a later time Jesus did create food supernaturally in the feeding of the 5000. Jesus had just come off the fast so there was nothing wrong with the suggestion to eat.

But during the fast Jesus had been in deep communion with the Father, learning to hear His voice mor…

A More Solemn Service

Image
MUSIC IN THE BUSH by Robert Service (1907 Dodd, Mead and Company)

O'er the dark pines she sees the silver moon,
And in the west, all tremulous, a star;
And soothing sweet she hears the mellow tune
Of cow-bells jangled in the fields afar.

Quite listless, for her daily stint is done,
She stands, sad exile, at her rose-wreathed door,
And sends her love eternal with the sun
That goes to gild the land she'll see no more.

The grave, gaunt pines imprison her sad gaze,
All still the sky and darkling drearily;
She feels the chilly breath of dear, dead days
Come sifting through the alders eerily.

Oh, how the roses riot in their bloom!
The curtains stir as with an ancient pain;
Her old piano gleams from out the gloom
And waits and waits her tender touch in vain.

But now her hands like moonlight brush the keys
With velvet grace -- melodious delight;
And now a sad refrain from over seas
Goes sobbing on the bosom of the night;

And now she sings. (O! singer in the gloom,
Voicing a sorrow we can ne'…

Wickedness in High Places

Image
Is it that he comes in royal fashion?
Riding on an ass as kings of old?
Dusty traveler of strange compassion,
Confident, this Jesus, and so bold!

Trouble brews! The young, the poor, the downcast
Hail now that Messiah has appeared.
Is the fight to come from him at long last?
Is there power in him to be feared?

Temple tills he spills, disrupting business.
Money-changers flee from his attack.
Paschal profits wasted there, and no less
Trouble herding all the livestock back.

Still, our spies have little to accuse him;
That he might be silenced for some crime.
Nightly, in the settling streets they lose him
To some hidden garden quiet time.

With the morning, in the temple, teaching,
He is found by scores who seek the truth.
Tirelessly, he ridicules our preaching,
Giving tried traditions stern reproof!

How we weary of this Galilean,
Plaguing lordly powers with “cat-and-mouse”.
Blasphemy! The unschooled Nazarene
Calls our halls of prayer his Father’s House!

First to seize him when the crowds are sleeping.
Then to trou…

Devil's Dilemma

Image
I am frightened and I swore I’d never fear.
I am frightened because Jesus Christ is near.
He has overcome my works;
He has shown anointed power.
Does he not know that this age is Satan’s hour?

Just today, he and disciples set afloat,
And by chance Christ fell asleep upon the boat.
I attacked with wind and waves;
Awesome thunderings were heard;
He awoke and calmed the tempest with his Word!

Once ashore, in the land of Gadarenes,
That young lad with schizophrenia was seen.
I had long deprived his brain;
Christ just set it back in line,
Casting out my demon spirits into swine.

All the people of the village came to see,
Evidence of that perverted youth set free.
He had kept them all in fear,
Lurking naked from the graves.
Now he thrills to spread the message, “Jesus saves!”

Next, returning to the port from whence he came,
Christ was met by crowds pressed close, praising his name.
An old rabbi begged his help:
“Heal my dying child,” he said.
Then Christ prayed for her and raised her from the dead!

This has been a…

A Crazy Calling?

Image
The years and years we laboured
To give our girl a start,
Before the burly fisherman
Arrived to steal her heart,
Come to me now and will not give me rest.

Capernaum is stirring,
A prophet is in town;
And one whose deeds and novel creeds
Are gaining much renown;
But this one may disturb my daughter’s nest!

For, Simon he has beckoned
To study at his feet,
To bless the poor and hurting ones
Found daily in the street;
And Simon says he will rise to the test.

So seemingly uncaring
For comforts fought and won?
With muscle, wit and honest grit,
Dear fisherman, dear son?
Will you abandon all? Why, you’re possessed!

This feverish discomfort
Which, sadly now I bear,
Because I fear your future, dears;
Because I truly care;
Is more than just a mother sore depressed.

“And would you bring the prophet
To see me in this way?
Whatever will I offer?
Whatever will I say?
Now really, Simon Peter, I’m half-dressed!”

“Why…Jesus, you’re most welcome;
The pleasure is all mine;
But that you’d found me stronger,
But that you’d come to dine.
B…

Upward Thought Received

Image
Thank you Lord.
I just wanted an arrival
Of that last thought
At Your Station.
I always enjoy this
Early morning walk to
The part-time job.
Weather notwithstanding,
These thirty minutes
Hold treasure.
As householders
Pull back curtains.
Cardinals lilt
From crimson-crested trees.
Aging leaves rustle.
They too are awake.
Garbage bags await
The roaring carriage.
Backyard dogs
Yap out their territory.
The thought was not
Of self- congratulation
For any of the list
Of small victories.
It was not
Of pain or perplexity,
As in other walks.
When You
Gave Yourself
Long before rescue.
It was not consistent
With fuzzy
Sun-rise musings.
Plans for the day.
Insults not yet forgiven.
It leapt skyward
Giddily, unprecedented,
Thankful
For Your constant
Caring Eye.
Humbled by
Your willingness
To drop by.

Disconnected, or Not

Image
Early every Saturday morning I have the distinct pleasure of a twenty-five minute walk through well-groomed quiet neighbourhoods to my part-time job at a grocery store. Been doing this for seven years.

I pass my son's old high school and a church and a separate school property and playground, several beautiful Rose-of-Sharon bushes, some flowering lilies, a young tradesman filling his pick-up with tools for some Saturday over-time,and the occasional smiling retiree or dog-walker. Birds are always part of the experience, and their singing, particularly the cardinals, finches, robins and mourning doves.

A passer-by will usually give me the courteous knowing nod, as if to say, "Haven't we found the best part of the day?" Two back-yard dogs, Schnauzers, will acknowledge me, the one cranky and barking, his partner apologetic. A couple of times surprisingly, in some green corner, I have seen the sleeping homeless or hung-over.

You won't find me "plugged in" wit…

J.J. Halcrow

Image
I remember the entire camp carrying benches from the dining hall to the shaded stand of cedars beside what we called Chapel Bay. The morning had an evidently different air about it as the boys were all required to wear clean T-shirts and jeans or shorts.

The Catholic kids had already gone on their bracing boat ride to Honey Harbour for Mass.

Program Directors distributed the song sheets and got everyone's blood and lungs going with a couple of hymns. Evelyn Halcrow, wife of the London Y's General Secretary, then offered a fine solo in her mezzo-soprano. Perhaps "His Eye is on the Sparrow" or "What a Friend we Have in Jesus" or "Will Your Anchor Hold?". Only the worst of the camp clowns would giggle.

Then one of the senior campers would read something selected from the Psalms or Gospels. Here in a former time I found the Y.M.C.A. behaving like a Young Men's Christian Association. This was before political correctness in the community re-fashioned…

The Puncher

Image
The following is taken from the book "Twice-Born Men" by Harold Begbie. (1909 Fleming H. Revell Co.) It traces Gospel light coming to many hardened and desperate individuals in the slums of London thanks to the testimony of the Salvation Army. One chapter entitled "The Puncher" tells the story of a prize fighter.

"He says that while he stood drinking in the bar,
feeling no other emotion than annoyance at the
Salvationist's interference, suddenly he saw a
vision. The nature of this vision was not exalted.
In a flash he saw that his wife was murdered,
just as he had planned and desired; that he had
died game on the scaffold, just as he had deter-
mined; the thing was done; vengeance wreaked,
apotheosis attained — he had died game : he was
dead, and the world was done with. All this in a
flash of consciousness, and with it the despairing
knowledge that he was still not at rest. Some-
where in the universe, disembodied and appall-
ingly alone, his soul was unhap…

So Must Christ Suffer

Image
Be it far from thee, Lord
To consider
That the City holds nothing but pain;
That the welcome this time
Will be bitter
As you enter their streets once again.

Be it far from thee, Lord,
This is foolish;
All such talk of rejection and rage.
Thou art Christ and our hope
For the future.
Usher in your foretold Kingdom age! (ISAIAH 11)

Be it far from thee, Lord
To provoke them,
Though religion is made cheap display;
Though the temple is filled
With their barter,
Please, discreetly keep out of their way.

Be it far from thee, Lord,
Look for better.
Set your mind on the sceptre and throne.
Quite enough talk of mockings
And scourgings
And of us leaving you all alone.

But the Christ turned a deaf
Ear to pity;
Willing still to endure sin’s full load.
For the hates and the hurts
Of that city,
He was bound to the Calvary Road.

Isaiah 11
6-9The wolf will romp with the lamb,
the leopard sleep with the kid.
Calf and lion will eat from the same trough,
and a little child will tend them.
Cow and bear will graze the same pastu…

Patience, Pilgrim

Image
There is such a need for patience
In the army of the Lord;
When to sit, and pray, and listen,
When to stand and wield his sword.

All around a world is hungry
For the seed we have to sow,
And our hearts are fixed on serving,
Once the Lord will let us go.

But some common task compels us
To a tiny post or trade,
Where the eager harvest-worker
Seems quite useless and waylaid.

Where the daily round of testing
In a market-place of sin,
With its callous cuts and curses,
Often wears our patience thin.

Was it not the same for Jesus,
Though he felt an early call,
To be toiling in the sawdust
Years, with rule and plane and awl?

To be bearing with the wicked
In their lust to get ahead;
To be praying for their cleansing,
But to see their filth instead.

Yet the patience which he practiced
Had her perfect work to do,
In the shaping of a servant
Who would see God’s purpose through.

Comes a day, oh faithful warrior,
When the chiseling is done;
When the perfect path is opened
In your mission for God’s Son.

And you may be quite aston…

Love Holds the Sword

Image
Today's devotional from J. R. Miller was particularly good. Taken from our helpful link "Come Ye Apart":

June 25
Christ in the Storm

“He rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still”

Mark4:39

"He spoke to the storm and to the tossing sea as if they were intelligent creatures, — just as a man would speak to his servants. The truth we learn here is that He is Lord of nature; that the elements recognize His voice, and obey Him even in their wildest moods. If we only fully believed this, it would bring a great deal of peace to our lives. No tempest ever breaks from the control of Him who is our Lord and Redeemer. No wave ever rolls any farther than He permits. There is nothing in this world that is not under the sway of the hand that was nailed on the cross.

There is a story of a Christian army officer at sea with his family in a storm. There was great terror among the passengers, but he was calm. His wife, in her consternation, chided him, saying that he ought to…

Heritage of Hope

Image
Where has our grandmother gone?
She rests, so calm and still.
I thank her for my faith’s first blush.
I know I always will.

Where gone those eyes of crystal,
So quick to smile or sing?
O’er-shadowed only lately-
Now closed to everything?

Where gone that voice of comfort,
Heard softly ‘neath life’s roar?
Last lilting sick-bed psalms of hope,
Now hushed for evermore?

How marvelous was her resolve
In spite of body pain.
How strange her benediction:
“Grieve not. To die is gain.”

How can I bear the sad loss of
That life, that voice, those eyes?
But for the Saviour’s promise:
“Today in Paradise.”

As I gaze long at her dear face
Before the eulogy,
I know by Spirit’s urging, yet
Again her face I’ll see.

Gram often praised a pleasant land,
Aglow with God’s own love;
Astir with tasks for joyful saints,
Her rich reward above.

As Jesus broke the bonds of death,
She trusted for the same,
And now, I’m sure he honours her
For holding to his name.

The casket, shut, abruptly.
No tearful face, I must
Do honour to that precious shell,

Undoubtedly the Psalms

Image
Undoubtedly, in frequent times of prayer and meditation, Jesus would have had the Psalms of David in his mind and spirit - shepherd, musician, warrior, worshiper, King David, the forefather of Christ according to the flesh. We are encouraged in the epistles to develop the mind of Christ. Accordingly, the Psalms are fitting nourishment. You might try the following selections, reading one psalm for each day of the month. Get alongside Jesus in these sessions:

DAY / TOPIC / PSALM

1, 2 BLESSING - 1, 128
3, 4 REVIVAL - 85, 144
5, 6 SALVATION – 40, 116
7 RESTORATION – 51
8 DELIVERANCE – 107
9 MERCY – 103
10, 11 TRUST – 34, 37
12, 13, 14 VICTORY – 27, 30, 73
15, 16 CALVARY – 22, 69
17, 18 RESURRECTION – 16, 118
19, 20 KINGDOM – 45, 72
21, 22, 23 CHURCH – 63, 84, 133
24 WARFARE – 18
25, 26 PR…

Sad End of Mr. Badman

Image
Many have been blessed with a thoughtful reading of John Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress" or "The Holy War" or "Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners". Perhaps fewer have considered "The Life and Death of Mr. Badman". (1680)

Written in the form of a dialogue between two men, it traces the declension in a life, starting with the violent and debauched misdemeanours of youth, progressing through dishonesty in the workplace and in efforts to court a beautiful young heiress, adding the sins of cheating, manipulating and oppressing in business, and ending in the facade of a religious life which was totally a sham.

The two men have heard of the death, one being present for the event. He describes a passing which lacked any last-minute repentance or warnings of terror beyond the grave, quite uneventful yet terrifying. Hear now the conclusion of their conversation:

"Who would have imagined, that
had not known Mr. Badman, and yet had seen him die…

Wages of Sin

Image
The following is an excerpt from one of the messages of Smith Wigglesworth contained in the book "Ever Increasing Faith":

"I was passing through the city of London one time, and Mr. Mundell, the secretary of the Pentecostal Missionary Union, learned that I was there. He arranged for me to meet him at a certain place at 3:30 PM. I was to meet a certain boy whose father and mother lived in the city of Salisbury. They had sent this young man to London to take care of their business. He had been a leader in Sunday school work but he had been betrayed and had fallen. Sin is awful and the wages of sin is death. But there is another side-the gift of God is eternal life.

This young man was in great distress; he had contracted a horrible disease and feared to tell anyone. There was nothing but death ahead for him. When the father and mother got to know of his condition they suffered inexpressible grief.

When we got to the house, Brother Mundell suggested, that we get down to prayer…

Touched with our Infirmities

Image
What news, the Master visits,
To heal the rabbi’s daughter!
What news, he comes down our street,
Requested by her father!

What shame, my bleeding mocks me,
Through twelve years quarantined.
What shame, the doctors’ failures,
Heartbroken still, and unclean.

But I’ve heard that He’s healing all who simply trust him.
Yes, I’ve heard that He’s granting forgiveness of all sin.
Oh, I’ve heard that with such power Jehovah Rapha proves him.

What risk! I am forbidden
To venture out in public.
What risk? I know that Jesus
Will not have me remain sick.

What throng! He passes quickly.
A few strides more; he’ll be gone!
What throng! Oh man of mercy,
My touching him can’t be wrong.

What joy! I seized his garment.
My heart leaps like a free calf.
What joy! The blight has lifted,
Curse broken on my behalf.

Lord Jesus, know that I am giving all of my love to thee.
Thy great compassion knew faith’s call as virtue transferred through thee.
If only others moved by faith would come and so pursue thee.

LUKE 8:48
And he said unto he…

Not Really Abundant

Image
He had such plans to build this place.
To raise more barns;
To clear more space;
To breed his flocks
A stronger race.
But now we hear he’s gone!

He always had a goal in view;
To gain the edge;
To see things through;
To lead the pack,
And we all knew
In enterprise he shone.

As masters go, he was the best;
To find us work;
To give us rest;
To share the spoils;
To see us blessed.
His passing seems so wrong.

I must admit, we all were shocked;
His sudden plague;
His functions blocked;
Of God and faith
He never talked.
I wonder where he’s gone?

LUKE 12: 20, 21
But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall these things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

Darkness Comes

Image
Still comes the darkness
To the saint who yearns for God.
To the one who walks in all he knows,
Some times alone are trod.

Still comes the darkness,
When he must leave earthly kin,
When he must through pangs of conscience come
Apart from all known sin.

Still comes the darkness,
When all wickedness prevails;
When the saint is made the laugh of men,
The target of false tales.

Still comes the darkness,
And it puzzles most to think
That his God who holds the answers
Has fled to let him sink.

Still comes the darkness,
When bereft of guiding light,
He wonders, left at his wit’s end
If he heard scripture right.

Still comes the darkness,
When the problems seem to grow;
When the saint sees no clear remedy,
And so must wait to know.

Still comes the darkness,
And the saint has naught to claim,
But that God who loves and lifted him
Will not forget his name.

Still comes the darkness,
As with Joseph, wrongly jailed.
As with David to a cave pursued.
And Jesus, cruelly nailed.

But this is Father’s shadow
O’er the saint as God goe…

A Walk with F. B. Meyer

Image
I have just added as a helpful link the daily devotional by F. B. Meyer (1847-1929) entitled "Our Daily Walk". For years I turned to this book for beautiful illustrations and sensible help in the Christian life. I was never disappointed by this old "chestnut" in the faith - pastor, expositor, writer, social activist. I had heard of him through reading Mrs. Cowman's book, "Streams in the Desert". She also introduced me to Oswald Chambers, J. H. Jowett, J. R. Miller, Amy Carmichael, Fanny Crosby and C. H. Spurgeon, all solid guides and illustrators of glory.

The following is today's entry with Meyer:

ANSWERED PRAYER

"If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done unto you."-- John 15:7.

OUR LORD expected answers to His prayers, and in all His teaching He leads us to feel that we shall be able to obtain, through prayer, what otherwise would not come to our hand. He knew all that was to be known of na…

Zoned Industrial

Image
A steelyard
By the railroad.
A patch of trees between.
A recent trend
To asphalt.
An eastern fringe of green.
A creek down
At the bottom,
Beyond the southern gate.
A wood slope
At the top end,
Where once the grouse would mate.

Mid-day the
Trucks are hectic,
As I-beams cut the air,
On waiting tusks
Of forklifts,
With elephantine care.
Or pipes rolled
From the flat-beds
Like ancient logs of Tyre.
Predestined
For some project
Through blueprint, blade and fire.

But on a
Wintry morning,
The snow might trace the tale
Of moonlit
Lapin lovers;
Of foxes on their trail;
Of field mice
Plucked mid-scamper
By silent aerial claws;
Of Nature’s
Non-conformance
To our industrial cause.

God Comes to My Job

Image
I was having one of "those days". Activity had really picked up at the factory and the traffic in steel for highway structures was moving at a peak-season pace. I felt pulled from all sides. Material handling. Inventory control. Shipments packed. Transport arranged. Trucks loaded and off-loaded. Visiting customers accommodated. Plant safety issues. Steel yard management.

The day was overcast with long, low dark clouds for a mid-morning. I was seated in a forklift, having just off-loaded a flat-bed full of structural beams. Irritation and self-pity had set in. Taking a breather for a few moments, I reflected on my status and the chain of events which had brought me here...business failure, joblessness, sudden re-location, building construction, furniture delivery, truck driving, cabinet-making, shipping-receiving and now highway steel and structures. "Was this the plan, Lord?" Hilary and I had left Chatham with half-cooked ideas of ministry in our heads. That was soo…

Surprised by Ministry

Image
My young friend Mark and I agreed to go for coffee after work at the plant. He had much to talk about, as he had just accepted Christ as personal saviour following a reunion with an old Christian high school teacher. There had been earlier talks on faith between the two of us, and he felt a liberty with me.

We were oblivious to the rest of the patrons at Tim Horton's as we talked about what had just happened to him. Our tone of voice and volume were just the same as if the subject had been some "acceptable" item such as sports or movies.

We were hardly aware of the young woman who arrived alone at a nearby table with pull-along oxygen tank and plastic tubes to the nose. She was apparently drawn by our animated exchange and openness in discussing Christ in public.

After a while she just had to interrupt, stating that she too was a Christian. She had agreed to meet her estranged husband there to try to sort out some of the issues in a divorce which the lawyers were chewing on…

Grounded Eagle

Image
The farmer found it at the headland of his corn acreage next to the woodlot. Apparently it had injured its wing and it looked rather comical hopping around in an effort to stay clear. But in moments when it rested he could not help but admire its streamlined shape, glimmering plumage and penetrating gaze - a golden eagle.

With a make-shift cage he was able to contain it and bring it to the barnyard where it was staked in a semi-shaded area not far from the ducks and chickens. With all the barn cats around, it was not hard to come up with harassed or partially eaten rodents which proved acceptable to the guest.

The rudimentary dressing and splint appeared to be doing the job and the bird was improving daily. The farmer noticed that the eagle was beating a path to and fro his stake. He would often notice the bird looking skyward as if waiting for something or someone. With the exception of a couple of brief scuffles, the domestic fowl stayed clear of him. They watched and studied how he b…

Faith's Focus

Image
There’s a resource in the New Birth
Which we must take time to feed.
It starts slowly, and so humbly,
As a small and precious seed.
It is faith apart from logic,
Over-reaching senses five.
Will we dare to act upon it,
Let it grow and bless and thrive?

We were shown the fine example
In true Abraham of old,
Who urged Sarah, barren Sarah,
To believe what they were told;
That by faith their wizened bodies
Would beget a healthy son,
And would “father many nations”,
And thus Israel was begun.

Later Moses, shepherd Moses,
Who had fled from Pharaoh’s court;
‘Til Jehovah named him spokesman
To bring out the Hebrew horde;
And to lead them through the desert,
Finding food and drink in sand;
Clashing with large heathen armies,
‘Til they reached the Promised Land.

And Elijah, desert prophet,
By whom God would stop the showers;
For the crippling of a nation,
And for humbling wicked powers.
With a stern rebuke from heaven:
‘Your idolatry is wrong!’
And the man of God defeated
Priests of Baal, some hundreds strong.

All of these h…

Church Behind Chain-Link

Image
I’ll have to think about it.
Something is happening here.
This morning,
H Block’s exercise period,
East-side fitness yard.
Usual pick-up basketball,
Games of catch,
Half-hearted aerobics.
Twenty minutes out.
Kipper got into trouble.
Dealer Kipper, old-timer,
The Joint’s entrepreneur.
Smokes, bandages, magazines, canned treats.
(No rumours of hard stuff.)
Went long for a pass.
Still pretty fit.
Lost track of where he was;
Barreled into Dutch’s corner.
Dutch, the Man.
Protection boss. Double-lifer.
Hand in every trick in the Joint.
Favours, payments, or else.
No love lost between the two.
(Something about a disputed “tariff”.)
Dutch’s corporals,
Lonzo, Turk and Kruger
Slammed him against the chainlink.
Flurry of arms, feet and
Shimmering steel.
Kipper, down, motionless,
Twisted in frightening posture.
Bleeding from the nose, throat, shoulder.
Hands on the abdomen.

“Doc, get over here, now!”
Call me Doc.
(Short stint as a para-medic
In Philadelphia.
Before the armed robbery career.)
The scene, heavy:
Guts spilled, shoulder pe…

James Renwick, Covenanter

Image
One of the last of the martyred Scottish Covenanters was James Renwick (1662-1688). Imagine being hunted down, imprisoned, tortured and publicly executed in humiliating fashion, all for the choice of form of worship and for separation of Church and State. Here in the late 1600's by royal fiat all Christians were to acknowledge King as head of the Church and to submit to episcopalian structure and authority. This the Covenanters would not do. They would rather head to the open spaces to worship with their beloved banished pastors , and hail only Jesus as King of the Church.

The stories of adventure, struggle, secret "conventicles", betrayal and heroic rescue are many and fascinating. One very good read is "Fair Sunshine" by Jock Purves (Banner of Truth Trust)

Hear now some of the noble words written by Renwick in his jail cell the day before execution in Edinburgh on February 17, 1688:

"Now, my dear friends in precious Christ, I think I need not tell you that,…

God's Guidance

Image
F. B. Meyer (1847-1929) has written a number of wonderful Bible biographies, expositions of books of the Bible and practical helps for the Christian life. The following is an excerpt from "The Secret of Guidance" (1896 - Fleming H. Revell Company). It is one which I have remembered in particular through the years.

God's impressions within and His word without are always corroborated by His Providence around, and we should quietly wait until these three focus into one point.

Sometimes it looks as if we are bound to act. Everyone says we must do something; and, indeed, things seem to have reached so desperate a pitch that we must. Behind are the Egyptians; right and left are inaccessible precipices; before is the sea. It is not easy at such times to stand still and see the salvation of God; but we must. When Saul compelled himself, and offered sacrifice, because he thought that Samuel was too late in coming, he made the great mistake of his life.

God may delay to come in the …

A Courtroom Someday

Image
The judge is so stern.
He frightens me.
The case is my life-
What end shall be?

The gallery is filled,
An angel crowd.
The docket is called-
My name read loud.

Accuser declares,
His brief is packed
With evil I did,
With grace I lacked.

All constables stand
Alert today.
Strong chains are in place
To lead away.

I turn from my box
To seek a face.
Friends out of my past?
But not a trace.

The clerk of the court
Asks me to rise:
“Which lawyer serves you
At this assize?”

I tell him of One,
Jesus, by name,
Who came to my cell,
My case to claim.

I called for His help
Upon arrest.
My case was severe;
He was the best.

He asked for no fee,
Just trust in Him.
The judge was quite fair;
Our case would win.

I told Him with tears,
With grief and shame,
The charges were true.
I was to blame.

But somehow, this man,
With eyes so clear,
Commanded my trust,
Relieved my fear.

“Jesus the Christ
Argues today.
See, His arrival;
Hear Him, I pray.”

The great Advocate takes his place.
(Accuser looks nervous and frowns.)
This Jesus- light shines from His face,
Mak…

The Shepherd Heart

Image
I cannot rest,
In knowing that just one
Has left the fold.
And now the setting
Of the sun
Will leave him cold,
In some dark wood,
Deprived of all my good,
A wandering lamb.

I will depart,
And hasten to the place
Where he is trapped.
And there again I’ll
See his face,
And have him wrapped
In my warm plaid;
His heart no longer sad,
A rescued lamb.

LUKE 15: 4, 5, 6, 7
What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

Note: When I think of the diligence of this shepherd, I am tremendously comforted.We are told at the end…

Thomas Gets it Right

Image
Oh, the sting of my reluctance,
Ever doubting Jesus’ words!
Had I not been in that dry place
Where he fed the hungry hordes?
Had I not been there at Bethany
As Lazarus left the tomb?
Had I not been in the Lord’s High Feast
Within that Upper Room?

Oh, the shame of my denial
At the news of Easter-tide.
Was it crucial that I test truth
With my hand thrust in Christ’s side?
Was I so bound to five senses
As to claim the others erred?
Was I so steeped in self-pity
As to doubt if Jesus cared?

But Christ came by special measure
Just to put Thomas at rest;
And he offered up his body
For my eyes and hands to test.
It was true, my Lord had risen;
How my spirit was relieved;
Yet I know of greater blessing
Had I, seeing not, believed.

Oh, the joy down at the seaside
In that breakfast with the Lord,
As he fed our hunger and our faith,
While Peter was restored
To a confidence that Jesus
Knew his love for him ran deep;
To a challenge and a hope of
Fruitful years feeding Christ’s sheep.

Oh, the promise as he left us
In his bright a…

Shamed Woman

Image
Here am I condemned to die,
Alone in my shame on the sand.
The Pharisees have caught me
In passion and lust with that man.

The law of our land has ruled
Adulterers surely must die.
In chambers I served myself
To his strength, his charm and his lie.

I know I have no excuse.
It is written, “Let both be stoned”.
But where is my man of charm?
Sadly, I suffer this alone.

Through crowded streets harshly dragged
By priests who now lust for my blood;
To the temple I am led,
And made to stand marked in the crowd.

All faces now gaze at me.
I am stripped, bared and soiled by sin.
Harsh judgment these men demand;
But the Teacher-light shines from him!

He looks kindly once at me,
Then stoops to his knees by the sand;
All talk of my stoning hushed…
He writes on the ground with his hand.

A long and stern look he casts
T’ward these men of cold rite and creed;
Then of stoning he suggests:
“Let him without sin start the deed.”

Now much to my great surprise
Accusers are shrinking away.
Compassion confronts vain pride;
They retreat …

On My Case

Image
I remember a night in early summer when I was called as a solicitor to meet with a number of men at a Board meeting for a Christian retreat property near Wallaceburg.

The facility had a large main lodge and dining hall, numerous cabins, playing fields, expansive grounds and boat docks for small craft looking out toward Mitchell's Bay (some of the best bass fishing in all of Canada).

They were considering a change in day-to-day leadership of the camp and some of the outgoing participants had gotten legal counsel, so my friends thought that they should follow suit.

The issues at the meeting were pretty straight-forward and business was concluded early. Discussion soon turned to men's topics and got 'round to Christian faith. I was involved in the Anglican Church. Most of these men were Baptists.

I remember the Treasurer, an acountant by profession, and seemingly proficient in business, bringing it to the topic of the Second Coming of Christ. This surprised me, a successful busin…