Monday, December 16, 2013

While Shepherds Watched...

They rested on the hillside
Content in shepherds' care
The darkness held no terror
No looming peril there
And chilly-damp the grasses
And star-bedecked the skies
And comforting the campfire
And happy songs besides.

And light came from the heavenlies
And music's other-world
And angels rapt with Good News
To earth the missive hurled
The waiting now was over
The best of Shepherds come
The love and light all-sovereign
That left their shepherds numb.

And quickly they departed
It seemed so right to go
While sheep securely rested
Held in the after-glow
The Town lay still and silent
Beneath their drowsy eyes
And sleep prevailed so sweetly
Until the new Son-rise.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Madly Loves

“You’re the one He madly loves.”
I saw this image on You Tube. The song was “Beautiful” by MercyMe.

It takes the Holy Spirit to convey a proper impression of this kind of extreme love. Jesus told His disciples that if they had seen Him they had seen in mortal representation the Father (the attributes of the Father).

Time and again in the prophecy of Isaiah we are shown a God Who grieves at the waywardness of Israel, Who applies the rod of correction through hostile foreign nations, but Who will not sustain His anger for too long, in remembrance of His covenant of mercy. In Hosea God identifies with the pain of a man married to a prostitute. In Ezekiel He likens Himself to One who has taken a little girl out of the gutter, cleaned her up, adorned her in finery, watching her become vain, trendy and filled with lust for the things of the world. In Song of Solomon He knocks early at the door of His Beloved and she is too lazy to rise to receive Him at first light.

But there has been a betrothal and the power of this covenant requires Him to look through eyes of faith to the ultimate wedding where one sees nothing but love, fidelity, fruitfulness, purity and partnership. He is in for the long haul.

Jesus presents the same message. He says that His mission is to the lost sheep of Israel. But they doubt His intentions, cast dubious slants upon His message, incarcerate Him, scourge Him and crucify Him. I say Israel but in reality I am referring to all mortal men. Double-minded. Covetous. Idolatrous. Impatient. Self-serving. But He loves them! Prays for their pardon. Dies in their stead. Sees their ultimate glorification (Romans 8: 28-30).

This is One madly in love. Empowered and sustained by the Plan of Heaven. If you have entered into covenant with this God you have become the object of such tenacious affection and keeping care. And you don’t deserve it; neither do I.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


You have heard of so much going wrong. The newspapers are full of grief, discord and scandal. That life insurance agent is still trying to land an interview. Your cough of the last two days has you concerned. Hydro rates are going up.

It's just good management to be cautious and trouble-shooting isn't it?

But you claim to be a follower of the King, a sheep in the contented , upward-climbing flock.

Watch your mouth! Watch your vision! Watch your interests!

You will notice that ten minutes of honest prayer and pouring out will cause the clouds to pass. Why are you reluctant? Why are WE so reluctant?

And that Bible study schedule; what happened to that? Oh, I know...friends, entertainments, fidgeting. And the peace leaves; and the edginess arrives. And the heart and ears tend toward the dark and unsettled. And that World out there is so willing to oblige.

Misery loves company. Step out of this parade. Turn around. You will find that Jesus has been there, quietly at your side. Waiting.

His assignments have eternal consequence.

Psalm 91: 9-11

Friday, October 25, 2013

A Table Before Me

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.

This interesting statement is made in Psalm 23, the Shepherd Psalm.

This is God as host preparing delightful things for His flock:

A freedom from condemnation - The old mess has passed; totally made new and clean by the blood of Calvary. There is no longer the grinding weight of guilt for past stumbling. There is a ready place to go for absolution, should one fall again.

An Elder Brother who identifies - There is no temptation that Jesus did not experience during His earth walk. But he withstood all heroically and did not sin. We may be confident that He will ever be the reliable hiding place and counsel when new temptations/trials hit.

A confidence in the Lord's guidance and protection - Our past experiences in the faith tell us that there is no place of greater safety than at the Shepherd's side. There have been rescues. There have been sunny vistas. There have been bowers filled with the song of his creatures. And that wonderful settling sense of His presence even unto death.

Refreshments have come in surprising ways - Just when you think you are caught in a hard place without a way of escape, the Lord arrives, and the shadows flee, and the bracing thrill of His availability is like a long draught of cool water. His words of comfort and direction to the inner man have special blessing at such times.

We have the constant sustenance evidenced in the bread and wine - Things sanctified, broken and poured out by our Great Rescuer Jesus in order that we might not suffer judgment; things that speak to a world-wide mystical family rejoicing in all of His deliverances and compassions until He returns to take up His throne.

And the journey is perilous through a fallen world. There are influences close at hand that would seek to defile, defame or destroy. Although they report to the Prince of Darkness, they are aware of the power and presence of irrefutable Righteousness, and they see evidences of the same in members of the flock. They will be weakened in their resolve, and terrified by the prospect of mercy, recompense and judgment winning the day.

Don't Bring a Thing

"So it's settled," the hostess said. "We'll see you guys at 6:30 on Saturday. Everything will be ready. Don't bring a thing. Just your appetites. We look forward to a really good evening together."

Perhaps you have had such a conversation, and then on the way over stopped for flowers, some drinks or an interesting treat to take along. Just common etiquette isn't it? Or is it that you don't want to be beholding to another?

I have been studying one of Jesus' more forceful parables - the wedding feast in Matthew 22. A prince is to be married, and extensive invitations have gone out. Surprisingly, the majority of the invitees offered feeble excuses to stay away. This provoked the host, the King, to send messengers into remote places, to encourage as many as would come, good and bad, to attend. He was fixing to have a good celebration and to be unrestrained in his generosity.

Obviously those listening to Jesus' story got the impression that the disinterested first group were the organized Jews of that day. The second group simply said "yes" and came. Such is grace. "Come. All is provided. My Son deserves an uninhibited, eager response."

But there was also disturbing news. One of the guests had refused to don the wedding garment as was customarily offered by the host. Certainly his own apparel was good enough, and it had served him well on other occasions. But the prince's wedding required the prescribed garments and the man's stubborn refusal was immediately noticed by the King. "Remove such an insolent and unappreciative one to a place of darkness and weeping!"

The old Scottish preachers were quick to chastise wilful members of their flock: "You are too stubborn to trust in the righteousness of another. To don His robe as your own. You must do your little bit, as pathetic and pointless as it is. You seek to add to the Cross. Stop your foolishness while there is still time. The way of grace is the only way."

"I have thought a lot about this parable. We as Christians are constantly reminded that fruit-bearing must come out of our relationship with Christ. Sadly many still see this as a requirement of duty. A weight comes with the consideration of doing good. But the real path of service is forged in love which cannot be suppressed as it pours out almost spontaneously and thankfully. The love response is the ticket to effective Christian living, and not the sense of duty or conformity. So, culture a familiarity with the episodes of Jesus' patience, mercy and strength. Read those Gospels. Get alone enough with Him in prayer. Say your piece briefly, and then wait in respectful silence for His input. It will come. You are developing friendship with the King of Kings. Hearts beat in unison. Watch what happens next..."

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Returning Glory (Ezekiel 43)

When my people Israel
Will mourn for all their sin
And put away their heathen games
And thirst to enter in.
Then the glow of pardon
Will pass the eastern gate
And bathe once more the holy place
As I adjudicate.
And those who laughed
At Jacob's shame
Will feel my sword's keen edge
As I arrive to settle all
And place again my hedge
Embracing still the chosen folk
Resuming sacred rite
Rehearsing clear the path of blood
That let them live aright.
The priests will come
The beasts will die
And gladsome songs resound
My Son has won
Redemption done
And once-lost sheep are found.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


It is scarcely possible for us to imagine pictures of
greater moral sublimity than those of Brainerd, which
sometimes gleam upon us even from slight hints in
his journal. At times we behold the lonely man with
drawing far into the dark forest, and there, in some
natural inner temple, formed by the intermingling
branches of the beautiful white and yellow pine, the
dark cypress, and the golden-flowered tulip-tree,
monarchs of the wood,against which no feller has
ever come up praying for his Indians, and startling
by the strange sounds the passing savage, as he tracks
the steps of some beast of chase. At other times, we
find him in his solitary log-hut of rudely-hewn pine
or cedar, standing some miles remote from any dwell
ings of the Indian, with his door closely fastened to
keep out the wolf or bear, and seated near his lighted
torch, after a day of consuming toil, breaking far in
upon the hours of midnight, in reading some book of
deep thought or writing in his journal. At times
the storm rages, thunder peals through the echo
ing forest, arid trees torn from their roots, or broken
through their stems, fall to the earth with the noise
of artillery and frighten even the wild beasts to their
lair. On some such lonely night, we may conceive
ourselves watching the earnest missionary s pen as he
traces in his journal, in passages like the following,
the record of recent experience, or the reflection of
present feelings and anticipations :
"About six at night I lost my way in the wilder
ness, and wandered over rocks and mountains, down
hideous steeps, through swamps, and most dreadful
and dangerous places. The night being dark, and
few stars to be seen, I was greatly exposed, much
pinched with cold, and distressed with an extreme
pain in my head, and attended with sickness at my
stomach. I have frequently been thus exposed, and
sometimes lain out the whole night, but God has
hitherto preserved me, and blessed be his name ! Such
fatigues and hardships as these serve to wean me
from the earth, and I trust will make heaven the

... harvest at length came with something of
primeval promise and fruit. Among Brainerd's ear
liest converts was an ancient Indian, whose head was
white with the snows of a hundred years ; and on
evenings after the chase was ended, little companies
began to gather towards the missionary's hut, to lis
ten to the strange story of the gospel. Brainerd was
never able to speak with fluency in the tongues of the
Indian tribes ; and it is remarkable that he had little
influence among the Indians until the heart of his
interpreter was renewed. There have been writers
on missions who, overlooking this essential feature in
the case, have argued from the eventual triumphs of
Brainerd in proof of the efficacy of preaching by in
terpreters. The reverse conclusion would be more
correct. Interpreters are not generally converts; and
it was not until this young Indian became "one soul"
with his master, by his common faith, that much good
was done. And there is a reason behind these facts
which explains them : To teach Christianity to others,
we must not only convey ideas but sympathies ; but
how unfit to be the medium of the latter, is the man to
whom the gospel has never come with power!
He is like a broken electric cord, through which the life
current will not pass.
Going forth now with a companion who shared
no little of his own fervour, and whom faith had
suddenly made eloquent, his mission entered on a
new life. He was now among the Indians of Crossweeksung,
in Jersey, near to the sea. The chiefs in
general regarded him with little favour, for he
wanted the noble and athletic form which in Eliot
at once commanded the respect of savage hearts.
But his deep emotion won the interest of the women ;
and after his first public address in this new region,
he was accompanied by many of them for fifteen
miles, who, walking near to his horse's head, received
new instruction, and helped to circulate on every
side intelligence of the wonderful teacher. The in-
terest spread, in some districts, with the speed of a
prairie fire ; and now the glad missionary often
found himself towards evening, after the chase, sur
rounded by three or four thousand huntsmen and
warriors, eager to listen to the message from the
Great Spirit. The web of Brainerd's journal, which
had so often been woven with gloom, at this period
breaks out in brightest colours.

(Taken from Great Missionaries by Andrew Thomson; 1862; London, T. Nelson and Sons)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Lambs in Unlikely Places

seek righteousness, seek meekness (Zeph. 2:3)

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 businessman with a beautiful young family apparently eager to leave a promising known present set of circumstances for something unknown and mystical. Or did he know about it?

In my church the Bible books of Ezekiel, Daniel, First and Second Thessalonians and Revelation were considered to be mostly symbolic. I had never once heard a homily on the return of Jesus to this planet. These men went on to use terms like "saved" and "born-again". I was dumbfounded.

Then the accountant turned to me and used words something like the following:
"Doug, I love my family and want only the best for them. If God bestows blessings in this life, and he certainly does, then I have been richly favoured in home, privileges and loved ones. But it is still a fallen world reeling in pain, violence and disappointment stemming from Adam's rebellion in the Garden of Eden way back at creation. The ultimate community which God promises has no strife, sickness, death, loneliness or fear. The Heavenly City will be full of purpose, love and praise. I would go tonight if He called. I pray that my family would be included."

This dear friend had taken a risk. He had spoken the seemingly ridiculous to his lawyer acquaintance. But his earnest face and words, and the picture which he painted accompanied me all the drive home down Highway 40 under a beautiful starlit summer country sky.

This is one of the many influences then turning my attention toward Jesus. The Holy Spirit has been crudely described as "the hound-dog of Heaven" giving people a convicting sense of their sin and need. He was working on me. I cannot give reasons. I can only give thanks.

My friend had heeded the words of Peter in his First Epistle, chapter three:
15But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

Eugene Peterson in "The Message" puts it as follows:
Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you're living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Power in Humility

The Vicar of Christ, the man in the Seat of Peter, the Pope had made special allowances for an audience with Francis of Assisi. He was curious to examine this poor monk and to test his heart.

Walking some distance ahead of the retinue, the two passed by an endless succession of statues, fine art, ornaments, glass-works, frescoes and opulent construction.

The Pope turned to Francis at one point with a half-smile and said, "So, I guess that it can no longer be said of us that silver and gold have we none." (Acts 3: 1-10)

"No, Your Eminence," Francis replied,"neither can you say, in the name of Jesus, rise up and walk."

God has established the principle that humility comes before spiritual power or leadership. Consider the passage from Hebrews 5:

8Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;

9And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

Consider also Isaiah 57:

15For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

The person who has been shown his sin and limitation will waste no more time trusting in self, but will rush to the counsel and strength of the Lord. He has undergone suffering and stretching, and has acquired empathy for the difficulties of others, because he has gone down similar paths. Like David, he can rehearse a personal history of rescues from the lion and bear. His God has proved Himself able. The approaching Goliath will also fall down. The battle is the Lord's. It has cost him to acquire this spiritual currency of holy audacity.

Such currency will work to the comfort and salvation of others.

2 Corinthians 1: 5For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

6And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.

So my friends, when you come to "the knothole" or the dark tunnel and squeeze through, trusting in your loving Heavenly Father, you may expect enlarged opportunities. Be on the look-out for them. Take what you have to the streets, schools and work-places. Be a servant who knows his place, but who also recognizes the power delegated to him by the Master.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Where Else?

Your very life is in this flock
You cannot come and go
No turning for another path
You need this Shepherd so.
And green may seem some other field
You wonder if to break
Would open grazing glorious
Hold fast, for goodness sake.
The wolf is there and waiting
The hot sun burns the ground
And wretchedness you never knew
Repent and turn around!
And run into His fond embrace
And walk beneath His staff
And treasure, Sheep, His every word
And thrive and grow and laugh.

John 6: 66-69

Monday, October 14, 2013

God Stepping In (Ezekiel 34)

I will be the Shepherd
I've watched those men of guile
Pretending care, the very best,
But fleecing all the while.

And who's to chase
The one who runs
Or hurting, leaves the flock?
Or craves for hugs or healthy fare
Not simply pious talk.

Yes I will be the Shepherd
As order is restored
The sheep who push and crowd and kick
No longer just ignored.

And Living Water
From my hills
Will change this land once dry
As sheep ascend and fully mend
Beneath this Shepherd's eye.


She comes at dawn
No clear idea
How to bless
Battered remains
Of her Teacher.
This was to be the day
When death was bested.
He had promised.
They had hardly heard.
The stress of things gone wrong
Very wrong
Had clouded all thinking
All hope.
Mercy had been
Made to appear
Haughty robed ones
Desperate for His blood.
Even the crowd
Had parroted,
“His blood be on us
And on our children”.
Sun is coming up.
Mourning dove
On that branch
Sets the tone.
The stone is rolled away.
Probably more pain
And inside no seeming
Some graves-clothes neatly piled
But where the Teacher’s body?
Outside He waits
Suggestions of a
Dawning smile.
She had always been
So eager for His clarity
His comfort.
Precious Mary.
Now first witness exultant
To the Son Rising.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Rural Charge

now thank we all...

Richard arrived ninety minutes early.
There had been some difficulty
Starting up the old Chev.
First frost on the glass.
Heater rudely whining
At season’s change.

Samantha busy in the back
Preparing Communion’s elements.
Pew upon pew checked
For hymnals and print-outs
On their mission relief challenge.
Bibles waiting, as always.

Truck noise in the lot
Announcing Harry, Sam and Art.
The hardware store.
The dairy farm.
The township office.
Come to welcome and worship.

Sanctuary lights left off.
The early sun brings delights,
As it warms the one
Stained glass, Christ
With his shouldered lamb
Back from its wanderings.

Another car arrives
With tell-tale tic-a-tic.
The two women finally settled
Upon harvest treats worthy
Of the after-hour.
But this year minus Christina.

Art’s Christina…so sudden.
He at the piano
Sampling a few strains:
“Now thank we all our God...”
And he was thankful
For rescue of friends, memories.

Richard reflects on year’s near close.
One wedding, funeral, two baby girls.
Two farm foreclosures.
The awful crash in the fog.
County hospital’s new wing.
Clothes bundles and books for Haiti.

And what of this morning?
Fifty or so would come,
Harvests all in.
Lands churned, blackened,
And ready for sleep.
Crows in the final clean-up

A wonderful pause,
And a weapon, wherein
Folk laud their Creator
The best yet to come.


9Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it: thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God, which is full of water: thou preparest them corn, when thou hast so provided for it.

10Thou waterest the ridges thereof abundantly: thou settlest the furrows thereof: thou makest it soft with showers: thou blessest the springing thereof.

11Thou crownest the year with thy goodness; and thy paths drop fatness.

12They drop upon the pastures of the wilderness: and the little hills rejoice on every side.

13The pastures are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered over with corn; they shout for joy, they also sing.

Unwed, Waiting for the Bus

courage when Society says quit
Oh little one
With yours in tow
Out in the morning mist.
He has the croup
And moans and coughs
You've cuddled and you've kissed.
The baby-sit
The factory waits
The hectic push and pull.
That Father gone
The spineless oaf!
He'll miss the child, the fool.
Or maybe not
The tryst was quick
And starting from the glands.
But you've the prize
The quick blue eyes
Those tiny feet and hands.
And you have stepped
Up to the plate
Much sooner than you should.
But rest assured
Dear Momma-child
It's love's best and it's good.
Isaiah 40: 11


Psalm 57:
3. He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. Selah. God shall send forth his mercy and his truth.

To expect deliverance from the Heavenlies? The adversary moves in to inflict physical harm, scandal, slander, discouragement, loss. You have canvassed all natural aid, all friends and agencies. Nothing. You utter your desperate prayer. Should have done that earlier, Son. Perhaps prayer for guidance or patience or restraint. But here you are, in a mess again.

And you launch the petition. And you wait. But something unusual is happening. You know that the Lord, the Good Shepherd has heard; is on the way. You can almost hear his foot treads coming up the path from the direction opposite that of the threatening "wolf". Are you crazy? What provokes this senseless expectation?

If you have only the practice of form, sippings and taught concepts, you cannot expect this urging of victory. But if you have the DEPOSIT, the New Life within you because of the process of repentance unto life (Acts 11) and the Lord's merciful impartation, you have the right sort of "craziness" for victory.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


What does the cosmos suggest to you?
This video is beautifully produced. It is a symphony for the New Age. It hints at significance, joining and potential. It brings chills to the back of the neck and trembling in the belly, as do the Olympics, a good opera, a look at the night sky, a solo performance of "What a Wonderful World" (Louis Armstrong). Man's potential might just be worshiped in itself.


I would rather be a sheep owned by that Good Shepherd Jesus, and hunkering down in the damp and chill with fellow travelers of like faith and hope and discipleship. Come what may.

Far Better

I love to read from the Apostle Paul in the Letter to the Philippians. The man is in prison and is corresponding with friends who are doing so very well in their newfound faith. He knows not whether he will be released; whether in fact his life is near the end.
Paul states that he is in a challenging place between two desires; whether to depart and be with his Lord , or to remain as mentor and prayer supporter of the Philippians and many others. He states that the first option is “far better” and holds no fear for him. He believes however that his mission is not quite over. Paul realizes that for so long as his assignment remains incomplete, he is immortal.
Indeed at Lystra he had been stoned and left for dead (Acts 14). But God raised him up and the missionary journeys continued. The extent of his afflictions has been fully recorded in 2 Corinthians 11. He counts it all joy to be “poured out” as an offering for the edification of his family of faith.
While in custody he notes that his supporters are steeled in their determination to spread the Gospel. He also notes that his captors are speaking of his strange ethic in a spirit of mockery, envy and disdain. This is of no real concern to him; in fact he takes it as a further advancement of the Kingdom. The Word of the Gospel cannot be defeated. Its deposit in the hearts of the Philippians can only work unto victory and Christ-like community and service:

Philippians 1: 27. Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; 28. And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.

He'll Be With You (Song of Hope and Healing)

When tears are falling
And have no place to go
When weariness echoes
That it’s time to be slow
But life it just wants to
Keep going without you
That’s the time I send my love
So you’ll know there’s always
Someone who cares
Someone who cares
Someone who cares
And is thinking about you

Sending love and sending hugs
And sending prayers for healing
May the sweet echoes of His voice
Upon the breeze
Through grasses swaying …
Upon the storm
Through trees uprooted …
Across the ocean
Through mountains tall …
And valleys low …
Through any trial, any pain
Any tears or any shame …
Bring you humbly
Bring you trembling
Bring you safely to your knees

Bring you safely to your knees
For that’s the place of healing
When you look up, look up
Believing will be seeing
He’ll be with you
And carry you
And life will again
Start living
He loves you so
He loves you so
He loves you so
Grey skies will turn to blue

Sending love and sending hugs
And sending prayers for healing
May the sweet echoes of His voice
Upon the breeze
Through grasses swaying …
Upon the storm
Through trees uprooted …
Across the ocean
Through mountains tall …
And valleys low …
Through any trial, any pain
Any tears or any shame …
Bring you humbly
Bring you trembling
Bring you safely to your knees

© 2013 Liana Wendy Howarth

Again we are fortunate to hear from Liana over at Poetry Cottage. (see our Links of Note)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Potential: Wasted?

Big lost world out there
You feeding you
So that you
Might be a better you.
Us feeding you
So that you
Might be a better you
In Us.
The numbers speak
For themselves
Lambs crowd IN
They rest
They listen
They fatten
And oh yes
To Christ be the glory.

Down the street
At a little fellowship
Almost un-noticeable.
Teach and apply
Teach and apply
Chasten and re-align
Often a martial atmosphere
Pause just to listen
And pause again.
Our Lord speaks
The silence is shaken
“You have not chosen me
I have chosen you
And ordained you…

Shepherd Heart His life for the sheep
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 of Isaiah 53 that "he shall see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied." Every one of the intended flock shall be gathered and safe in the Heavenly Home. This speaks to His sovereignty and His keeping care.

Peter, Toward the Fiery End

Image by Caravaggio
And here I sit
In this little cottage.
The flock are afraid
As the Imperial wolf roams
Seeking whom it may devour.
The Master told me
These days would come.
But also that I
Would feed his sheep.
That morning on the shore
When fish and bread
And His dauntless words
Pulled my heart back.
And He has never failed
His visitings
To the inner man
Almost as real to me now.
And I surprise myself
Submission, patience,
Forbearance, peace
Things never to have been found
In that blustering Fisherman
Of former days.
All of His work
This I know.
And now He promises
Swift dismissal.
He will sustain.
A few searing moments
And then the Light.
I am ready.
The Master is at hand.
And I think it not strange.

1 Peter 4: 12, 13

Post script: Upon completing this I received a “like” from Shannon Moreno over at “Revelations in Writing”, an excellent blog filled with glorious poetic images of our faith inheritance. I clicked at random on the email notice of her visit and got a post from September 17th with the following comment:
“The long and valiant fight of my dear friend, Anne, has come to a close. Last evening, I had the joy of holding her hand as she struggled to breathe her last breaths. She went from suffering struggle to perfect peace, in but a moment.
As I was praying for her during the day, seated by her side, God showed me such a sweet picture, and I was actually able to share it with Aine (On-ya), while she was still able to respond. I saw Jesus with outstretched arms, and Aine ran to Him, as a carefree child. He scooped her up and they twirled around and around. When they stopped, Aine rested her head over His heart and He held her close. He spoke and told Aine, “each heartbeat you hear, is just for you.” When she was ready, He set her down, took her hand, and led her along the streets of gold, showing her all that He had prepared for her.”

A Candle Flickers (but does not go out)

A lamp is drawn from under a bed
the world groans it’s disapproval
as it is placed upon a stand
and illuminates the room
Peace and calm resume
not before he singes his hand
A full moon nests upon a tree
at least that’s how it seems to me
strike a match
light a fuse
who will take the bumpy road with me?
they await the nitro to clear rocks to build a bridge
Headlights blare into a rainy night
finally heading home
for the first time
read the directions right
Exhausted, relieved, lost in thought
found a Way through the dark
She left the floodlights on
i sit outside in the driveway
meditate on the Blessings
You’ve showered upon me
Please forgive me for wondering
if this is just a dream?
i never saw this coming
it is beyond my wildest imagination
“No one knows the hour”
It’s been a long week,
I really must go inside to bathe
but not before…
taking a moment to give thanks and praise
taking nothing for granted
under moonlight’s glow
basking in a SON shower

Anthony Gomez, Moncks Corner, South Carolina

Anthony often comes up with stream of consciousness as he does his rounds with his transport rig. This faithful poet is an OBSERVER in the keenest sense, and uncompromising.

See more of his work at

Though He Slay Me

Job, in the palm of God's Hand

Three men from the Church were talking over lunch:

“I don’t know what gives with Harry. His situation just goes from bad to worse. Lay-off. Eldest kid caught in a gas-bar heist. Possible mortgage foreclosure. Sheesh!”

“He has always been a great help at the Church when asked.”

“Yeah, but there must be some inner darkness or rebellion or ignorance. He needs to take a tougher look at himself.”

“Just the other day I gave him a copy of that DVD series ‘Confess Into Favour’.”

“Wonderful teaching. Helped get me through the sale of my business last year.”

…Six blocks from the Diner, Harry was taking a walk in the park to clear his head. Sun was starting to peek through the clouds. Sat down on a wooden bench. Watching Moms and kids over on the swings. Little blonde one leaves her perch and runs over to his bench:

“Hiya Mister. Did you see me on that swing? This park is great, isn’t it? You can join us, if you want.”

Sun comes out now full blast. Harry notes a spiritual significance. God is close. God knows, and He is Father.

Ezekiel 34: 21, 22

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Sweet, Sweet Voice of Jesus (A Song)

Cherish each precious day you’re given
Oh! Cherish every love that shares your own
Cherish every dawn and sunset
Trials and blessings in Love’s sweet home

In the middle of the moment
When darkness shrouds eternity
That is when the sweet voice of Jesus
Breaks through trial’s fog with clarity

He’s calling … He’s calling
Will you surrender all
Yes the sweet, sweet voice of Jesus
It’s melody will catch you when you fall

When you cannot see His footprints
When the sands of life, they overwhelm
That is when the sweet voice of Jesus
Reveals Love’s hand upon the helm

He’s calling … He’s calling
Will you surrender all
Yes the sweet, sweet voice of Jesus
Its melody will catch you when you fall

If this is where your heartbeat finds you
Look up, give up and let Him own
Own the sweet, sweet voice of Jesus
In your life and and in Love’s home

Cherish each precious day you’re given
Oh! Cherish every love that shares your own
Cherish every dawn and sunset
Trials and blessings in Love’s sweet home

© 2013 Liana Wendy Howarth

This is a guest post graciously shared by a friend from Australia. 'As Jesus shepherds, so He also pilots'. By all means, visit Liana at her helpful blog Poetry Cottage at

Note: I use the above image of Lily of the Valley, recognizing Liana's intense love for her beautiful flowers.

He Goeth Before

He goeth before
And none can change the order.
He goeth before
And scopes the next day’s climb.

He goeth before
Through every kind of weather.
And knoweth their strength,
Their tender lambing time.

He goeth before
And sweet will be the grazing.
The waters pure
To slake and soothe each friend.

He goeth before
Their fearless, guarding champion.
The wolf or bear
Brought swiftly to its end.

He goeth before
To miss no bleat of terror,
Push of pride
Or action out of place.

He goeth before
Til evening’s gentle bedding
When every sheep
Takes courage from His face.

(Note: For images of the Good Shepherd see Psalm 23, Ezekiel 34 and John 10.)

The Anointing, Respectfully Considered

In the Old Testament the anointing was for the King. It was for the priest and prophet. It was designed to commission and to set apart for holy, God-directed purpose. It was not earned. It was bestowed.

In Psalm 23 we have the image of the shepherd anointing the sheep's head with oil. In a very practical sense, in the hot eastern summer, this act relieved the sheep of the peace-threatening, life-threatening attack of insects upon the eyes and nasal passages. This resulted in calm, comfort and order for the flock. Can not the same be said about the settling influence of the Spirit?

Consider Isaiah 61 and the wonderful outworkings of the anointing. In Luke 4 Jesus announced that His ministry was all about the same things:

18The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

19To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

20And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.

I would also draw your attention to Peter's sermon to the Gentiles of Cornelius' house at Acts 10:37,38:

37That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached;

38How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.

This confirms that the marvelous miracle service of Jesus was the result of the obedient submission of a man to the anointing of God for power, doing good and overcoming the Devil. The same anointing is available to the humble and dedicated believer today. What a promise! What an opportunity!

Is it not said in the Revelation that we are made kings and priests unto our God?

I often hear reference to a believer or minister who is "much anointed". The context sounds the same to me as if one were referring to a professor who is "much published" or a soldier who is "much decorated" or an actor who is "much celebrated". Certain God-given talents have been enhanced by training, education, experience and single-minded dedication.

But the anointing is NOT a commodity to improve self. It is not a spiritual "power drink". It has to do with dying, as did the ingredients of the holy anointing oil prescribed to Moses (Exodus 30).

The name Christ or Messiah means "anointed one". If we would have this appointment, this anointing, we must have Christ, and we must have cast away self-reliance and the distractions of the world, the flesh and the devil.

Believer, I exhort you to dedicate yourself to Christ, to the "anointed One and His anointing". Who knows what fruit may come?

Never Alone

Never alone
They said at the starting
You would be there
Through thick and through thin
Never a chance
Your ever departing
Happy to hear this
I just walked right in.

Heard of your shame
And pain on the Hilltop
Heard of the folk
Who mocked you as King
Heard how the tomb
Went missing your body
Good News to Israel
That changed everything.

Then came the cloud
O'er faith's early gleaming
Caused me to doubt
How sure was your troth
Then came your balm
And all things redeeming
Rescue, reunion
I thrilled at them both!

Down From the Cross

Image by Tissot

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: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

Listen to the song by Dallas Holm!/s/Rise+Again/5asCAO?src=5

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Come Before Winter


I come a-courting
Once again
Within your hallowed halls
But this time
Not with pressing needs
Nor puzzlement, nor falls.
I only come to
Think on you
And all your mercy shown
To one so frail
And faltering
But still your child, your own.
And all around
Your handiwork
In nature’s shapes and hues
The big and small
You made them all
Your breath of life infused.
And evil days
And selfish ways
Will not upset your Goal
To raise up radiant Israel
By faith
In Christ made whole.
These halls are still
They offer rest
And insights rich, divine
And in this peace
The sure release
That such a God is mine.

Sheep's Testimony

We the sheep are considered to be witless, gullible, prone to follow unquestioningly and fearful in short measure.

But we enjoy the broad vistas, the clean air, the cool waters and the sweet uplands grass.

We enjoy being together and offer up frequently a bleat of praise, inclusion or warning.

Our Shepherd always takes the lead and goes on before. We know that we have His staff of guidance and His rod of correction. Deep in our hearts we know that both are necessary; and we submit, and we are glad that limits are being set.

We hear of other flocks where there is but slack supervision. This has led to breaking up, illness, improper foods and increased risk of the wolf or parasites.

We especially like our Shepherd's application of the aromatic oils. They heal the ague and they disperse the irritating bugs from eyes, nose and mouth. Summer can then be enjoyed as summer.

The cool autumn breezes and dampness bring us huddling together, and then especially we hear the Shepherd's songs and verses of thanksgiving and confidence.

When one of our number reaches his/her time of departure, the Shepherd always calls the halt, gently lays the form 'neath the sod and speaks words of celebration. We sense somehow that He is not finished with the one gone on. Does He have some glorious news about all of this that another Day will bring to our understanding?

In a word we are CONTENT. There is nothing stupid or listless or out of focus in that, now is there?


A young sheep has proved itself dangerously rebellious and independent. Continuously it goes into hazardous places, eating inappropriate foods, spurning the fellowship of the flock.

Soon the Shepherd will apply the old remedy. He takes the sheep and swiftly breaks one of its delicate legs. The sheep is stunned by this uncharacteristic behaviour. With low and soothing words and sounds the Shepherd sets the fracture and holds the patient effortlessly in his strong and capable arms, speaking affectionately to it.

In the days to follow, as the flock travels to one and another grazing place or refreshing stream, the Shepherd carries his charge on his shoulders and close to his heart. They are in constant communication. The little sheep observes his Master's vigilance and service for the flock; his patience with the faltering; his resilience in changing weather; his sparing use of harsh words; his laughter at the gamboling antics of the little ones; his patient application of oil and herbal mixtures to alleviate a malady or the constant irritation of summer's insects; his physical stamina; his predisposition to song or the wise old village adages. The sheep has come to realize that the beating heart beneath his mending frame is a heart of love.

The day arrives when the broken leg is healed. The Shepherd then applies a small bell around the sheep's neck. The sheep takes this as a special gift from his leader-healer-friend.

Henceforth the "bell-weather" chooses to remain close to the Shepherd. Other sheep note the peculiar comfort and intimacy of their relationship. They fall in beside the ringing one. To be close to that sound is to be close to the safety, provision and growing delight of the Good Shepherd.

Isaiah 40:

10Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.

11He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

Image by James Tissot

Knowing Him Intimately

I have sat in a room full of seniors and have read from the Psalms. When I came to the 23rd, the Shepherd psalm, they all appeared disposed to join in and recite it together. I was delighted at their participation. They came from a culture often exposed to the reading of these words.

But I had to notice that the facial expressions of these elderly seemed to suggest four different types of response:
1) Those who knew it was prudent to join in with the crowd and show respect to the Good Book.
2) Those who delighted in the value of good words, good poetry, touching the heart.
3) Those who knew the promises.
4) Those who knew the Shepherd.

Sadly only the last group had any real and abiding hope.

We must not be star-struck by words! We must take every mature resource available to help gain that intimate knowledge and confidence concerning that Shepherd, the Lord Jesus. We must confess known sin and turn around. The food is available (the four Gospels, Acts, Letter to the Hebrews). The meek and humble mentors may be approached. The prayer closet is always open. The opportunities to give obedience in service and support are crying out!

You would be blessed in giving attention to the 34th chapter of Ezekiel. Perhaps He waits to be your Shepherd.

Only the Shepherd

Such a memorable day
In the pastures of May,
And the brook sparkles
Just past the green.

And the flock is at rest
Where the grazing is best.
And the gambolling
Young can be seen.

On a prominent rise
Where the plover oft’ flies
Seated, handsome and
Strumming his lyre.

‘Tis the shepherd they see
With a new melody
Which the day and the way
Had inspired.

Now the trek had been steep
And his pace they did keep,
Till the luscious uplands
Had been gained.

And the grass was so sweet
Glistening under their feet,
For the previous night
It had rained.

Soon with grazing all done
And the warm mid-day sun,
There were many who
Stretched out and slept.

But a few cautious rams
Proudly eyeing their lambs,
Caught a glimpse of the
Dark shape which crept.

Oh the wolf had been keen
Smoothly agile and lean,
As he shadowed the
Flock in ascent.

And if he had his way
On this blissful spring day
Many young would be
Cornered and rent.

But the rams simply eyed
Their sweet singer and guide
To confirm that he
Saw the threat there.

And he, taking the sling
To deter the foul thing
Reassured there was
No need for care.

(Let us heed this tale well
Ere the forces of hell
Try to topple our
Climb to the height.

That when Evil comes on
Threatening slaughter and wrong,
We keep only the
Shepherd in sight.)