Tougher

The books get read

The shows get watched

And heroes rock and roll

And evil in a thousand ways

Wreaks havoc with the soul

We fear the dark

And fear the strange

And dare not let tears show

When all the while

The “tougher” path

Would see the mercy grow

Would see the helps

And see the hugs

And hear the prayers upraised.

Then why oh why

With all we have

The twisted get our praise?

They scowl and flex

Leave homes in wrecks

And have no time for care.

But God is KIng

O’er everything

And births grace anywhere.

Loyal Subject

To be within a kingdom

The turrets and fanfare

The gallant show of horsemen

The colours everywhere

The thrill of throne so noble

The poor remembered yet

The chance to show compassion

Good laws we’ll ne’er forget.

Oh this is Zion’s glory

The world looks on amazed

Though early in our fealty

They thought us weak and crazed.

With peace and love prevailing

And beggars warmed inside

And trespass all forgotten

No longer does one hide.

And God the Son is coming

To host a feast so rare

From castle to the courtyard

The family gathered there.

He dons a servant’s vesture

And laughs at simple fun

And holds our trust large measure

The praises just begun.

Psalm 48

Is This Too Broad? Really?

“What saves us is Jesus, and the way we lay hold of that salvation is faith. And faith is something…I shall resolutely refuse to let mean anything other than trusting Jesus. It simply means saying yes to him rather than no. It is, at its root, a mere ‘uh-huh’ to him personally. It does not involve any particular theological structure or formulation; it does not entail any particular degree of emotional fervor; and above all, it does not depend on any specific repertoire of good works physical or moral. It’s just “Yes, Jesus, till we die—just letting the power of the resurrection do, in our deaths, what it has already done in his.”
~ Robert Farrar Capon, Kingdom, Grace, Judgment: Paradox, Outrage and Vindication in the Parables of Jesus, pps. 24-25;

“What saves us is Jesus, and the way we lay hold of that salvation is faith. And faith is something…I shall resolutely refuse to let mean anything other than trusting Jesus. It simply means saying yes to him rather than no. It is, at its root, a mere ‘uh-huh’ to him personally. It does not involve any particular theological structure or formulation; it does not entail any particular degree of emotional fervor; and above all, it does not depend on any specific repertoire of good works physical or moral. It’s just “Yes, Jesus, till we die—just letting the power of the resurrection do, in our deaths, what it has already done in his.”  ~ Robert Farrar Capon, Kingdom, Grace, Judgment: Paradox, Outrage and Vindication in the Parables of Jesus, pps. 24-25;

As the fences come down…

At 7:30 am this morning, reconnected with an old friend face to face for the first time in nearly five years. It was a wonderful 2 and a half hours spent together reconnecting and fellowshipping. I really missed the relationship. Nice to be able to restart and see the grace of God in our lives and the healing that has come, even through conflict, adversity, health battles, and faith and church struggles. I am thankful for Doug Blair and Hilary today. Thank you Lord Jesus for your healing grace.

(all of this article posted on Facebook by friend Sam Buick)

A Just Conversation

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He says he has a sordid past

I tell him many have

He wears the tokens of his theft

I note the nervous eyes

He says he is not of that type

I tell him all types come

He pauses to adjust his tie

I tell him just to try.

He says that Book is oh so old

I tell him it’s still true.

He speaks of ill done by the cloth

I ask “What’s that to you?

You’ll never meet a closer Friend

You’ll never lack for peace

You’ll never fear the grave again.”

I see he’s near release

He says he’ll find another time

I say there’s only now

Let Love and Light respond right here

You’ll find a rest in holy fear.

So that’s the trick?

It’s fear you use

In bully Bible ways?

No not at all

I share a Prince

Who all transgression pays

He takes the whip and nails for you

The earthquake and the shame

And pleads your case in realms above

And Jesus is His name.

Perhaps you sense that inner tug

The Spirit’s “go-ahead”

I do, he blurts

But I’m so foul

So listless and so dead.

A miracle is what it takes.

I haven’t got the fare.

Then trust the One

Who takes dark coal

And shapes a diamond rare…

(We hugged.)

Note: Any curious reader should take a serious look at 2 Corinthians 5 and Luke 15. The Words actually have the potential to beget new life. They are not mere literature…Doug

But then there is another sad spectacle: http://momentsmidstream.blogspot.com/2019/09/ride-on-buschurch-bus.html

 

The Toss of the Coin

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Luke chapter 22 shows two opposite positions of heart.

Judas “went his own way” and communed with the chief priests how he might betray Jesus.

Our Lord prayed for consecration in the Garden saying “nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done”.

The first position is that of Adam in the Fall. 

The second is that of Messiah in the Restoration.

Jesus knew that each of His disciples, each of us, would face a similar test.

His words of counsel upon entering Gethsemane were very potent. “Pray that ye enter not into temptation” (v. 40). Seven words*, the perfect number.

Pray. Do not go to sleep through self-interest, self-pity or the lullabies of shallow testimony, shallow gathering or shallow preaching.

Pray, and in frank acknowledgment of your weaknesses, doubts and stumblings, beseech the Lord that you might have more of Him and of His gracious intercession. I did not say more of His ethic or virtues. I said more of Him; His life essence.

Verse 40 occurred right before the final chapter of His passion. He was in  Gethsemane and His disciples all fell asleep. They longed for the happy days beside Galilee – the teaching, the feasting, the miracles, the vigorous travel. When it came to praying, and to considering in depth the weighty sayings of the Olivet Discourse (chapter 21) and of the Last Supper, they became drowsy. What about staying awake, and keeping Jesus company in His agenda?

I would suggest that today many of the churches are doing the same thing. Jesus wants them to share His burdens and selfless service. They want Galilee, fellowship, smiles, signs and wonders, knowledge and spiritual giftings to build themselves up. All in the name of good and successful Christian living. Such a sad second- best.

They would be slow to foot-wash, slow to pray, slow to seek the lost sheep, slow to bear the reproach of Jesus (Hebrews 13: 13). The coin has been tossed in favour of going their “own way”.

May these be good words of counsel for many to launch the New Year of 2015. This is my prayer…Doug

* https://sites.google.com/site/conversationabove/gospel-gems-seven-words-each

The “Dones”

My friend Sam forwarded a blog post from “Culture Watch” (December 26, 2014 – Bill Meuhlenberg). The title was “On Leaving Church”. The writer described a distressing phenomenon. Christ-loving, zealous believers who are leaving the organized church for smaller-scale inter-personal worship, training, service and communion. They are not coming back. They are the “Dones”. Here is a portion of the article:

While this move away from the churches may be a way these believers find a new outlet for Christian fellowship, it is obviously tough on pastors and church leaders. One thing they may have to do is slow down, think, pray and ask some hard questions.

But the problem is, so often our leaders are so busy doing church, that they do not have this needed time to reassess, rethink, and re-evaluate. I once wrote a piece in which I made the serious suggestion that some churches might be best placed to actually shut down for a brief spell as the members, and especially the leaders, spend some quality time on their faces before God.

I said in part:

My recommendation is this: it may well be the best thing in many cases to simply shut our church doors and post a big sign on each entry with words something like this:
“Dear friends, sorry but our church is now closed for repairs. It will be closed for perhaps a few days, perhaps a few weeks, and maybe even longer, until a full and thorough renovation has taken place. These doors will remain shut for as long as it takes. We will notify you when the doors will reopen. In fact, there will be no need to notify you, because it will be apparent to everyone when the renewal work is completed. Thank you for your patience.”

billmuehlenberg.com/2011/11/26/is-it-time-to-close-our-churches/

Does that sound like a pretty radical proposal? Of course it does. But it may take something radical like this to deal with a church which seems to be losing its way, and is in many ways haemorrhaging to death. When things get that bad, radical surgery is indeed required.

I do not envy being a pastor or a church leader. They have a very tough job, and their work is often thankless, painful and exhausting. We certainly must pray for our leaders. They certainly need it. And they need regular encouragement as well.

But the church is going through tough times now. I certainly do not have all the answers for this. But we must be willing to at least pause and reflect, pray and seek God, as to how we might turn things around. We must at least begin there.

Let me finish with a few great quotes from a few great saints. Their words of warning and advice make for more helpful starting points:

“If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.” A.W. Tozer

“Oh for radically Bible-saturated, God-centered, Christ-exalting, self-sacrificing, mission-mobilizing, soul-saving, culture-confronting pastors!” John Piper

“When the church is absolutely different from the world, she invariably attracts it. It is then that the world is made to listen to her message, though it may hate it at first.” Martyn Lloyd-Jones

“The church has lost her testimony. She has no longer anything to say to the world. Her once robust shout of assurance has faded away to an apologetic whisper. She who one time went out to declare now goes out to inquire. Her dogmatic declaration has become a respectful suggestion, a word of religious advice, given with the understanding that it is after all only an opinion and not meant to sound bigoted.” A.W. Tozer

“The Church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men…Men of prayer.” E. M. Bounds

(above image by Janell Rardon)

Catacombs

Seldom do I dream and remember. But this dream from about 1987 sticks (the year of my business failure in law in a small agricultural city).

I was walking underground in a place that had the appearance of the Roman catacombs where Christians hid and worshipped in the first century. I was determined to proceed in a given direction and I heard the footfalls of an approaching torch-lit group.

They were less than twenty of Christ’s tattered “little ones”. They were being led by a man in the garb of a Roman centurion (the persecutors of the faith). He stretched out his arm and stopped the others. He came to me with greeting. He took off the uniform to reveal that he was in fact their pastor. The group had an overall appearance of fatigue and fear. Running away from something.

The pastor’s words: “I want you to go with this man. He can be trusted. I have done my part. Sir will you take them where you are going?”

I felt in my spirit that this was right. We proceeded in my intended direction, “running to the roar”, minus the pastor.

End of dream.

I have posted this at the risk of appearing big on myself. Strengthened with this image and other impressions, I had the drive to launch out with my young family for Kitchener-Waterloo and prospects of evangelism.

Twenty-seven years later, no formal ministry. But opportunities here and there to give a Word in season to him that is weary. To listen and affirm. And to write. Our Master Craftsman uses His tools in His perfect wisdom and love…D.B.

December 27th

Filled with love

And largely mystery

Trees and tinsel

All torn down

Once again

The manger’s history

Good will hoped

Throughout the Town.

See the lonely

Brought to your path

See the draining

Hospice bed

Brimming love

Disdains the cruel math

Gives the help

Of Christ instead.

And a year

Is just beginning

Who can tell

He may come soon?

Let Him find you

In soul winning

Be it morning

Night or noon.

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/269861

Taken In Adultery

Mercy by DiCianni

No man Lord, condemns me

Though you most surely can

And yes, I did transgress

The Law in lust with that smooth man.

And rabbis drag me to your feet

For stoning, Moses said

And I with simply no excuse

Exposed and good as dead.

But you write something in the sand

And rabbis read and pause

And one by one they drop their rocks

Unworthy of their laws.

And I can sense a cleansing comes

In studying your face

I do repent; I will amend

At this your dawn of Grace.

 

(provoked by a good sermon I heard yesterday morning on the car radio concerning John 8: 1-12 and the dilemma of judgment meeting mercy in the sinless Christ)

Arresting image above by Ron DiCianni.