Saturday, February 26, 2011

Beacons bright to allure

There's a wideness in God's mercy,
Like the wideness of the sea;
There's a kindness in his justice,
Which is more than liberty.

There is welcome for the sinner,
And more graces for the good;
There is mercy with the Savior;
There is healing in his blood.

For the love of God is broader
Than the measure of man's mind;
And the heart of the Eternal
Is most wonderfully kind.

If our love were but more simple,
We should take Him at His word,
And our lives would be all sunshine
In the sweetness of our Lord.
-F. Faber

I love to read hymnbooks, this week I picked up a new "old hymnbook" and found several hymns I had never heard or read.  I started reading them like poetry, b/c I found out recently that many hymns are poems that were later set to music.

This particular hymn stopped me at the last few lines so I re-read it again and again.  My first reaction was to reject that life is all sunshine-even with my Pollyanna factored in; although I wanted that to be true, it often isn't because I choose to grumble instead of trust.  Doesn't everyone do this? No.

I thought of a dear friend of mine who is older, her children are my age, she is older, but still feels and is young- I want to emulate that!  Anyway, nothing riles her, she always has a peaceful, joyful countenance, she loves Jesus and sees His blessings in her life.  She was describing a great loss, and described it as a blessed and holy event.  She really does know the sweetness of the Lord, and she walks in sunshine.  It's breathtaking. I really want to grow up to be like her, my guess is that it starts with practice, practice in the little things, like housework, and dealines and due dates. 

Title taken from "Puritan Prayers"  (Comforts p.300)
The universe does not hold its breath waiting for you and I to make a decision so it can move forward. -A. Munco

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tell it...

Words are the most powerful drug used by mankind.
“He wrapped himself in quotations - as a beggar would enfold himself in the purple of Emperors”
- Rudyard Kipling

Monday, February 21, 2011

Cowper at His Best

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

- William Cowper
I live with an almost constant awareness of the breach between the low intensity of my own passion and the staggering realities of the universe around me- of heaven, hell, creation, eternity, life, Jesus Christ, justification by faith, God.  All of us (whether we know it or not) try to close this breach between the weakness of our emotions and the wonder of the world.  Some of us do it with poetry.  It shouldn't be a surprise that more than three hundred pages of the Bible were written of poetry because one great aim of the Bible is to build a bridge between the prosaic deadness of the the human heart and the inexpressible reality of the living God." (J.I. Packer, The Hidden Smile of God, p. 112)
I have had this book in my Amazon cart for weeks trying to justify the buying, and so I bought it to give to a friend and had to read the the intro first chapters and the section on Cowper just to see if it was good; it was better than I expected.  It going back in my cart for my next splurge.  Doesn't the first few stanzas of this poem make you picture God as dashing over the water with super Ice Man like power complete with the "Shooh" sound effects?

Affirming Truth

You say: ‘I’m too tired’ God says: I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28-30)

You say: ‘Nobody really loves me’ God says: I love you (John 3:1 6 & John 3:34 )

You say: ‘I can’t go on’ God says: My grace is sufficient (II Corinthians 12:9 & Psalm 91:15)

You say: ‘I can’t figure things out’ God says: I will direct your steps (Proverbs 3:5- 6)

You say: ‘I can’t do it’ God says: You can do all things (Philippians 4:13)

You say: ‘I’m not able’ God says: I am able (II Corinthians 9:8)

You say: ‘It’s not worth it’ God says: It will be worth it (Roman 8:28 )

You say: ‘I can’t forgive myself’ God says: I Forgive you (I John 1:9 & Romans 8:1)

You say: ‘I can’t manage’ God says: I will supply all your needs (Philippians 4:19)

You say: ‘I’m afraid’ God says: I have not given you a spirit of fear (II Timothy 1:7)

You say: ‘I’m always worried and frustrated’ God says: Cast all your cares on ME (I Peter 5:7)

You say: ‘I’m not smart enough’ God says: I give you wisdom (I Corinthians 1:30)

You say: ‘I feel all alone’ God says: I will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5)

Discovered the above "encouragement" in a song book this weekend while at a ladies retreat.
It was titled - "God has a Positive Answer to Everything."
My Response to the Title- "Ugh!"
Then I read through the content and I thought "true" - however, the title is "modern" packaging to guide towards aligning ourselves with the truth. It is ridiculous to me one needs to "package and sell" the truth.  Why not just say- "Line up with the truth - it ain't easy, it is rarely fun during difficulties; but it is always good." Good trumps easy and fun every time.  Why? Because goodness is the result of rooted truth. The virtue of this encouragement would be better served with a title of say - "Get in Line"or  "Truth Alignment" or anything that doesn't give the impression it's coming from a Gentle Giant
Just sayin.. The True God is a far cry from some New Age-y Goddess who answers positively to everything and everyone.

A man does not know what he is saying until he knows what he is not saying.
-Gilbert K. Chesterton

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Foolishness of God

Thus the Wisdom of God, setting out to cure men, applied himself to cure them, being at once the Physician and Medicine. Because man fell through pride, he applied Humility as a cure.  We were trapped by the wisdom of the serpent; We are freed by the foolishness of God.  Just as that which was called wisdom was foolishness in those who condemned God, thus this which is called foolishness is wisdom in those who conquer the Devil. 
We ill used our immortality as that we deserved to die; Christ used His morality well to restore us...The same principles on contraries is illustrated in the example of His virtues cure our vices. (Augustine, On Christian Doctrine, Book 1, XVI)
Augustine goes on to list the similarities found in His (Christ Jesus')work  - "He was born of a woman, freed those decieved by a woman; that as a man He freed men; that as a mortal, He freed mortals; that in death He freed the dead."

Two things that so penetrate through my thoughts and straight into my heart are first - our Lord Jesus used Humility to cure pride; and secondly, He died so that we are dead no longer.  Incredible.  Amazing.  These things are antithetical to our flesh, yet they are our calling and the cure as we are to follow  Him because we are found  in Him, that is Christ.
Am I humble? Am I dying to self? (Do you, as I , prefer to keep these two questions shelved or in the confines of rhetoric?) Choosing thoughts unto life, this is the reason for education, No? 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Desperately Seeking Courage

Where are the men of courage? There are a few - precious too few.   In today's feministic ladened world only men with chests choose courage... would that more men step up and take a shot at courage and godly leadership and that those who are already on the green- will continually play through and bring others along with them.

“Take the case of courage. No quality has ever so much addled the brains and tangled the definitions of merely rational sages. Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die. ‘He that will lose his life, the same shall save it,’ is not a piece of mysticism for saints and heroes. It is a piece of everyday advice for sailors or mountaineers. It might be printed in an Alpine guide or a drill book.
“This paradox is the whole principle of courage; even of quite earthly or quite brutal courage. A man cut off by the sea may save his life if he will risk it on the precipice. He can only get away from death by continually stepping within an inch of it. A soldier surrounded by enemies, if he is to cut his way out, needs to combine a strong desire for living with a strange carelessness about dying. He must not merely cling to life, for then he will be a coward, and will not escape. He must not merely wait for death, for then he will be a suicide, and will not escape. He must seek his life in a spirit of furious indifference to it; he must desire life like water and yet drink death like wine.”
- G. K. Chesterton, from The Paradoxes of Christianity

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Good Stuff

A truth revealed outside this left window,
All hills and roads are cover'd with thick snow,

A dad, his girl, a pup, a rope, a sled,
She's wearing pink, her little nose all red.

Is filled, the route a mem'ry bank now paid.
And this, the way, good stuff of life is made.

I was reading about poetry and prose this morning and a faint giggle turned my head left, out the window.  Dad was bundled in a hunting jacket, and his daughter was in pink with a turquoise scarf as they meandered down our snowy hill of a road.  Their dog was pulling them in their sled.  I couldn't help but laugh! 

I decided to put what I've learned into practice and write a poem. I chose iambic pentameter with rhyming couplets - that is to say - the pattern da Da repeated 5 times in a line; and lines, in pairs, that rhyme.  In poet world, this is the easy peasy stuff - hmmm, really? For me, not so much - but it is fun to learn about.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Hymns and Road Trips

Last week, as our friend, S.,  K and I were on our way home from down south, she popped in an Alan Jackson CD a friend had given her.  I thought most of his tunes, were ruckus songs - but he does gospel- and with his deep, rich, expressive voice -does it great, too.  By the time the first line finished - I was hooked.  The CD was full of the Hymns I grew up on.
S. and I, she's a PK'sK, were in full ham by the time we got to "What Can Wash Away My Sins",  and K.'s, was  being a good sport, because what she wanted to do is crawl out  the back window.  IT was fun.
This past week, my friend showed up with a B-day gift trifecta, it was the CD, a journal and a Starbucks card.
Anyway, Alan Jackson's "Precious Memories"  is great road trip music. It is headed to my mp3 too.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Self Aquiantance

Dear Lord! accept a sinful heart,
Which of itself complains,
And mourns, with much and frequent smart.
The evil it contains.

There fiery seeds of anger lurk,
Which often hurt my frame;
And wait but for the tempter's work,
To fan them or flame.

Legality holds out a bribe
To purchase life from three;
And Discontent would fain prescribe
How Thou shalt deal with me.

While unbelief withstands Thy grace,
And puts the mercy by,
Presumption, with a brow of brass,
Says, "Give me, or I die!"

How eager are my thoughts to roam,
In quest of what they love!
But ah! when duty calls them home,
How heavily they move!

Oh, cleanse me in a Saviour's blood,
Transform me by Thy power,
And make me Thy beloved abode,
And let me roam no more.

-William Cowper

There is but one road; He said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life." When it becomes about me, it is NOT about HIM.  That is sin. 

This is the last of my 30 day installment of  Cowper (pronounced Cooper - thanks Mrs. M.) poems.

Poetry exemplifies passion for all life.  
Aristotle said it, Poetry, was one of the four pillars of civilization (paraphrase)

To John Newton, An Epistle in Rhyme

June 22, 1782

My dear Friend,

If reading verse be your delight,
'Tis mine as much, or more, to write;
But what we would, so weak is man,
Lies oft remote from what we can.
For instance, at this very time
I feel a wish by cheerful rhyme
To soothe my friend, and, had I power,
To cheat him of an anxious hour;
Not meaning (for I must confess,
It were but folly to suppress)
His pleasure, or his good alone,
But squinting partly at my own.
But though the sun is flaming high
In the centre of yon arch, the sky,
And he had once (and who but he?)
The name for setting genius free;
Yet whether poets of past days
Yielded him undeserved praise,
And he by no uncommon lot
Was famed for virtues he had not;
Or whether, which is like enough,
His highness may have taken huff,
So seldom sought with invocation,
Since it has been the reigning fashion
To disregard his inspiration,
I seem no brighter in my wits,
For all the radiance he emits,
Than if I saw, through midnight vapour,
The glimmering of a farthing taper.
Oh for a succedaneum, then,
To accelerate a creeping pen!
Oh for a ready succedaneum,
Quod caput, cerebrum, et cranium
Pondere liberet exoso,
Et morbo jam caliginoso!
'Tis here; this oval box well filled
With best tobacco, finely milled,
Beats all Anticyra's pretences
To disengage the encumbered senses.
Oh Nymph of transatlantic fame,
Where'er thine haunt, whate'er thy name,
Whether reposing on the side
Of Oroonoquo's spacious tide,
Or listening with delight not small
To Niagara's distant fall,
'Tis thine to cherish and to feed
The pungent nose-refreshing weed,
Which, whether pulverized it gain
A speedy passage to the brain,
Or whether, touched with fire, it rise
In circling eddies to the skies,
Does thought more quicken and refine
Than all the breath of all the Nine -
Forgive the bard, if bard he be,
Who once too wantonly made free,
To touch with a satiric wipe
That symbol of thy power, the pipe;
So may no blight infest thy plains,
And no unseasonable rains;
And so may smiling peace once more
Visit America's sad shore;
And thou, secure from all alarms
Of thundering drums and glittering arms,
Rove unconfined beneath the shade
Thy wide expanded leaves have made:
So may thy votaries increase,
And fumigation never cease.
May Newton, with renewed delights,
Perform thine odoriferous rites,
While clouds of incense half divine
Involve thy disappearing shrine;
And so may smoke-inhaling Bull
Be always filling, never full.

Mr. Cowper often wrote letters in verse; this is not only amazing to me, it's wildly funny too.  Futhermore, the smell of  Serendipity tobacco blend puffing out the top of my better half's pipe is fondly conjured up during my reading of this poem, the last 6 lines of hit it on the head.

Light Shining out of Darkness

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Seep in unfathomable mines
of never-failing skill,
He treasures up His bright designs,
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
A big with mercy, and shall break
In blessing on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposed will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
 And scan His work in vain:
God is His own interpreter,
And he will make it plain.

-William Cowper

What a wonderful refutation to unbridled fear and trustlessness.  OK - this really IS one of my favorites.  It has my needs, I mean name, all over it.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Hatred of Sin

Holy Lord God!  I love Thy truth,
Nor dare Thy least commandment slight;
Yet pierced by sin the serpent's tooth,
I mourn the anguish of the bite.

But though the poison lurks within,
Hope bids me still with patience wait;
Till death shall set me free from sin,
Free from the only thing I hate.

Had I throne above the rest,
Where angels and archangels dwell,
One sin, unslain, within my breast,
Would make that heaven as dark as hell.

The prisoner sent to breathe fresh air,
And blest with liberty again,
Would mourn were he condemn'd to wear
One link of all his former chain.

But, oh! no foe invades the bliss,
When glory crowns the Christian's head;
One look at Jesus as He is
Will strike all sin forever dead.
-William Cowper

This poem reminds me of Jean Valjean (the version w. Liam Nelsien?) in the last scene of Les Mis, after the constible has drowned himself bound(a picture of law fulfilled) Jean Valjean- throws his shoulders back and his head up, eyes focused on heaven, his stride is quick and certain and the effects of freedom - deliverance on the soul, is powerfully portrayed.
 O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
O’er us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conqu’rors we are!

His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!


The Happy Change

How bless'd Thy creature is, O God,
When with a single eye,
He views the lustre of Thy Word,
The dayspring from on high!

Through all the storms that veil the skies
And frown on earthly things,
The Sun of Righteousness he eyes,
With healing on His wings.

Struck by that light, the human heart,
A barren soil no more,
Sends the sweet smell of grace abroad,
Where serpents lurk'd before.

The soul, a dreary provnce once
Of Satan's dark domain,
Feels a new empire form'd within,
And owns a heavenly reign,

The glorious orb whose golden beams
The fruitful year control,
Since first obedient to Thy Word,
He started from the goal,

Has cheer'd the nation with the joys
His orient rays impart;
But, Jesus, 'tis Thy light alone
Can shine upon the heart.
-William Cowper

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Doublet Poetry from Bam Bam

Sisters for Life, Best Friends Forever

You stick with each other wherever we go.
You have been playmates for as long as you know.
I hope this continues the rest of your lives.
It's not often one is born with a best friend for life.
-Linda De Los Reyes
Why are lots of things in twos?
Hands on clocks, and gloves on shoes,
Scissor-blades, and water-taps,
Collar studs, and luggage straps.
Walnut-shells, and pigeon's eggs,
Arms and eyes and ears and legs--
Will you kindly tell me who?s
So fond of making things in twos?
-John Drinkwater

The Narrow Way

What thousand never knew the road!
What thousands hate it when 'tis known!
None but the chosen tribes of God
Will seek it or choose it for their own.

A thousand ways in ruin end,
One only leads to joys on high;
By that my willing steps ascend,
Pleased with a journey to the sky.

No more I ask or hope to find
Delight or happiness below;
Sorrow may well possess the mind
That feeds where thorns and thistles grow.

The joy that faces is not for me,
I seek immortal joys above;
There glory without end shall be
The bright reward of faith and love.

Cleaved to the world, ye sordid worms,
Contented lick your native dust!
But God shall fight with all his storms,
Against the idol of your trust.
- William Cowper

I saved this poem for today, because I love the subject - trust. The last quantrain is powerful. I often renege the trust I place in God, because I forget who he is. He is always faithful --even when my faith is at the end of its tether.  That's another reason why, He is God, I am not and why it is all about Him and not... yeah.

"Peace, be Still." He reveals to us his character through the storms.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Welcome to the Table

This is the feast of heavenly wine,
And God invites to sup;
The juices of the living Vine
Were press'd to fill the cup.

Oh! bless the Saviour, ye that eat,
With royal dainties fed;
Not heaven affords a costlier treat,
For Jesus is the bread.

The vile, the lost, He calls to them;
Ye trembling souls, appear!
The righteous in their own esteem
Have no acceptance here.

Approach, ye poor, nor dare refuse
The banquet spread for you;
Dear Saviour, this is welcome news,
Then I may venture too.

If guilt and sin afford a plea,
And may obtain a place,
Surely the Lord will welcome me,
And I shall see his face.
-William Cowper

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Visitors at Night!

By Keri, Sara, and Amy Boyd

Each day and each night in Ashland, Tennessee
Strange things happen in the Boyd family.
Two little girls, as cute as can be
Have strange little visitors at night you will see.

Each morning as the two girls, Amy and Sara, awake
Their mommy is asking, “Come on girls, get ready for school. How long can it take?”
So the girls hop up, pop on their clothes, and tidy up their room,
After quickly eating their breakfast they are ready to groom.

First come the teeth, no problem there,
But then, last but not least, its time for their hair.
Their mom is now shouting, “Come on girls, we’re in a rush!”
Now imagine what happens when they reach for a brush,

The brush starts out fine at the top of their hair,
But it gets stuck halfway down, there is something in there.
They call their mom in to the bathroom to help,
She takes the brush and soon there’s a yelp!!!!

Ouch, that hurts me mommy! They cry
Mommy continues to brush, she let’s out a sigh,
Sara and Amy whine and wiggle,
But their moms wants to make them laugh and giggle.

So she tells them “I am sorry, it hurts you I know,
But that tangle family in your hair just has to GO!”
The girls stop the fussing and listen with delight.
This is when they discover they have visitors at night.

Their mom, whom they know to be very wise,
Puts down the hairbrush and looks into their eyes.
“Now girls, don’t tell your friends, it would cause quite a scare,
But I have figured out what is wrong in your hair.

It’s the Tangle family, a teenie tiny group of acrobats,
they are small but adventurous and want to go for a ride,
So they wait until you are asleep to jump in your hair and hide,
They’ve crawled into your hair, those sneaky little pesks,
and they have tangled it into this tangly mess.

But instead of crying and making them mad,
Let’s find a way to make those acrobats glad!
We’ll sing them a song while we brush your hair,
Sweetly convince them to come down from there.

How about a song that goes just like this:

Oh mister and misses, or brother and sis,
Come down from my hair and I’ll give you a kiss
You can come for a ride, just not in my hair
Hop in my pocket, lunchbox, or shoe,
I will be happy to spend my day with you!”

So the girls sang the Tangles this sweet little rhyme
The tangles happily climbed down from their hair just in time!
The girls got to school just a bit before the bell
With a pocket full of friends and a story to tell.

So the next time you have trouble at your house with your hair.
You have to think about who might be up there.
Don’t wiggle or whine or yell at your mother
Be kind to the Tangle family and to each other,
Stand tall and stand still and sing a song like us,
You’ll make some new friends and be on time for the bus!

This was written on a snow day earlier this month by a friend, and her little girlies.  Absolutely, our favorite kind of teaching rhyme.
On being kind to one another:
"Children, let us love one another for love comes from God." 1 John 4:7