Friday, December 5, 2014

And Sheep Will Follow

And sheep will follow
Loving the noise
Loving the crowd
And warmth of togetherness.
Just give them a word
A bright, shining word
And say it often
Throw in some music
That pulls the heart
That touches a chord
Of former green pastures
And they are yours.
Even made to butt
The non-compliant
The questioning
The looking-for-more.
But comes an occasional
Battered lambkin
Who spots the One Shepherd
Tall and true
Silhouetted by sunrise
After a long, wet spell
Approaching tremulously
Bleating but once
And carried up
To shoulders of safety
And provision
Ever after traveling the ways
Close to that
Heartbeat of Love.

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Wild Flock

It must be rough
Watching us
In the upward climb.
Heads butt
And feet stray
From the path
You know is best.
And I am in this bunch.
Hazards too many
Because of our stiff necks
And crazy inclinations.
Because of the mean weather
And the skulking wolf.
A friend passed yesterday
We bleated our misery
Missing a member.
Feeling our vulnerability.
But your rod, Sir
And your staff
They comfort me
In strange ways.
And with you
It is mostly sunshine
And that high, lush plateau*
Will be attained.


(*Romans 8)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Leviticus Sixteen

Random choice from all the new goats
Priest taking some time to view
For not a blemish marring
Nor fracture, scab or scarring
Would make the grade
For what he had to do.
And trembling, quite unknowing
Pure innocence, here showing
He bore the rein, and left the Temple site.
The prayers had all been said
And sadly, on his head
A people's guilt and blame
Would now alight.
His escort knew the way
On this momentous day
But mused in wonder
As the miles they passed.
The dryness of the desert scene
The barrenness and fate unseen
Abandoned to a thirsting death at last.
Away, this scapegoat led away,
And with him all the wrongdoings forgot.
We thank him for renewing
A place with God, while viewing
The anguish that befell his lonely lot.


(Painting by William Holman Hunt)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Spike

They called him Spike. Just like a nail. Totally bald. It was the chemo you know. Been that way for the last eighteen months. Now entering his junior year at McHale Secondary.

Spike had been one of the most determined light weights on the wrestling team. Seems as if he had a unique twist to get himself out of every potential pin situation. His Coach Bradford could only shake his head as the little guy kept on coming out on top. But this year the treatments had really slowed him down. It had become necessary to make him the Team Manager, shouting encouragement and tips from off the mat.

Another teacher, Miss Wyatt had a parallel affection for Spike. She knew that he was brilliant in his powers of expression, but holding back somewhat for fear of coming off as the “Browner” before his peers. No matter. This one would make it, if only the body would hold together. The tid-bits of exceptional prose and insight he offered in English class were some of Miss Wyatt’s signal moments in teaching. She fulfilled the role of Soul-Mother for several, not having ever enjoyed a family of her own.

Spike had a secret friend, Charlie. The man received chemotherapy at the same clinic. Discussions in the waiting room had covered a number of topics, sports, favourite fiction, travel experiences, and surprisingly enough, the Gospels. Charlie had been a sales manager at a car dealership for over twenty years. The thought of his wife Caroline would always bring a smile to his face. They had had no children. The cancer had pretty much taken Charlie off his feet. He began to ask the big questions. No one in his family had ever been stricken. Tell me God…what’s fair.

But a change had come. He had relinquished. Decided that no one was more worthy of the words compassionate, loving, true…no one more than God.

It was clear to Spike that the man was in earnest and had a quality of life and thought each day higher and better than most others.

Spike took a serious look at Luke’s Gospel, wrote an essay for Miss Wyatt on the scenario of Jesus’ mountaintop transfiguration followed by descent again into the valley of  suffering for ones like the epileptic boy (Luke 9: 28-45).

He heard of a Gospel concert coming to the local auditorium. Got a couple of his wrestling buddies to go with him. There was Spike, bald and shining, smiling radiantly, hands upraised as he gave his best in the praise choruses.

Unknown to him, Coach Bradford had caught wind of the plan and was seated with his wife ten rows back, not wanting to cramp Spike’s style.

Ripples of joy were emanating from that one pebble dropped into the pool of suffering with a grin and a hope. That pebble had only fourteen months left this side of Glory.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Little Garden Plots

Mark 6:

38"How many loaves do you have?" he asked. "Go and see."
When they found out, they said, "Five—and two fish."

39Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. 40So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. 41Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42They all ate and were satisfied, 43and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. 44The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.
There are times when Mark is particularly vivid and sensual in his presentation of the Gospel. I have heard that in the account of the feeding of the 5000, in the Greek, the arrangement of the groups of listeners had the appearance of "little garden plots".

That is rich! I have been in large gatherings, and have also seen in the presentations of Michael W. Smith or Hillsong, Australia, the segmenting of the large audience by spotlight into such small plots. The impression of the Good Gardener, Jesus, walking in the midst of the praises of his people, stays with me. Of His affording them life, food and joy.

It suggests the particular care of the Husbandman for each garden, for each plant, and his skill in assessing the right combinations of food, refreshment, pruning, light and climate. (John 15: 2)

I am reminded of this phenomenon when looking upon the spotlights of shopping mall, city park or college campus. I can be instant in prayer lifting up the people in each of those settings for the life-begetting input of the Gardener. I might even have a word in season.

Years ago I enjoyed reading "A Gardener Looks at the Fruit of the Spirit" by Phillip Keller. It is full of the imagery of the garden, and helpful guides to the recognition and operation of each of those nine fruit. (Galatians 5: 22,23)
Isaiah 61: 3b

...that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.
 
 

Gardener

beautiful image borrowed from link poetry cottage
I have little plots of this
And some little plots of that
And I break up ground
And pour in rain
And seed the place all flat.
Every species known by name
Every tenderness discerned
Yes, the hurting, hoping, lonely
Sadly judged, abused and spurned.
But the hardiness will come
With my love and pruning knife
And the blooms and fruits a-plenty
From my own Abundant Life.
Bringing Me delightful Glory
Bringing Me the lips of song
Soaking in the Gospel Story
Fragrant children, ever strong.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Up On His Shoulders



I had an hour all to myself this past Sunday afternoon. Driving around town. Seeing all the immense piles of snow shoveled at driveways. Very thankful for a good heater in the car. Listening to the local Gospel radio station and some of its new format.

The songs I have often heard. The church bulletins more of the same.

Then a distinct impression to my spirit, "Turn it off Doug."

And then the process started. Thinking on Him...privately. Mental wool gathering? Not one bit. There have been times when such silence has raised suggestions of much needed passages of scripture, or the beginnings of a poem. But this time just silence and the assurance that He was close.

How often did the errant sheep have this impression when the Good Shepherd swept him up to carry on the shoulders. Separated for an interval from the ongoing affairs of the flock; from cares and concerns. Sensing in a very tangible way the beating of that heart of kindness and keeping and constructive discipline.

The bond defies description. It unifies. It pacifies. It fortifies. Another touch from the living Christ.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Clothed with Flocks: Psalm 65

art and symphony in harvest


Perhaps too much to take in
The glories of your art
The things that grow and flourish so
The tokens of your heart.
The rains you send refreshing
The warm sun brings the yield
And happy I, to happen by
Your thrilling brook or field.
Your paths all hint a "fatness"
A bounty from above
The valleys sing and hillsides ring
Exuberant in your love.
And may these eyes remember
When shadows threaten ill
Just as those flocks a-grazing
I am your canvas still.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Small

Strange it may sound
In a world full of striving
“Yes, look at me.
I have gained and will be
Noticed of men
At the top of the ladder.
Do what it takes
And admirers will see.”
Yet there’s a place
To discard all pretention
Breathe ever freely
Released from sin’s thrall.
Mountain or forest
Or sea coast all glorious
Showing God’s grandeur
For there, I am small.
Small, and so thankful
That He knows my journey.
Small, and in wonder
That He has my back.
Small, there’s a comfort
In trusting and leaning
Safe from the arrows
Of Evil’s attack.
But does He fathom
My daily dilemmas?
But does He know
The hurts people will bring?
That’s when my eyes turn
To Christ ‘neath the Olives
Begging for rescue;
Of Him will I sing.