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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

The Temple: A Sonnet Crown

Come, make your dwelling in my humble heart:
although the outside is a hut of clay,
inside eons compact into a day
and there's a universe in every part,
but without form and void, lacking the art
that spoke the worlds into divine array.
You breathed in life; I breathed out the decay
that undid what was well done at the start,
and made myself unfit to be your home.
You could have passed the sentence even then,
but stooped instead to indwell a virgin's womb;
stoop further now, to the dark home within,
where dust and disrepair dwell till you come
set my flawed house in order once again.

Set my flawed house in order once again:
Sloth lazes on the couch; Lust, in the bed,
mocks when mad Envy strikes Wrath on the head
till he fling furniture around the den
where Petulance, Self-Love, and Pride have been;
there Gluttony and Idol-Worship spread
a feast of mice in filth and pig's blood bred,
and the Strong Man keeps all enchained within.
Bind the Strong Man with his own cruel chain;
with the coiled whip that cleansed God's holy ground,
drive out the seven demons that remain
in my dark house; rebuild it all around,
purge it till it's as free from crook and stain
as the tent patterned on the heavenly mount.

As the tent patterned on the heavenly mount,
so are God's graces ordered all aright:
the altar, where God's Lamb burns out of sight
our sin; then purity flows from the fount
before the door; inside, the loaves abound
to feed our faith; we may read, “I am Light”
in the flaming candle; to the ceiling's height,
soft smoke shields from the glory blazing round
God's fierce shekinah on the mercy-seat,
from which we are prevented by a veil
(his own torn flesh) his holiness to meet.
But, transitory types of what is real,
they cry out for a lasting home instead,
a perfect temple where God's Name might dwell.

Continue reading "The Temple: A Sonnet Crown" »

August 19, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

To a Fallen Sparrow

A little poem with a moral at the end, for him who would find it...

Why do the fairest fall? O heart, O heart!
   How often must you sigh at senseless pain?
What blows break others, and you feel the smart?
   Why bleed you from another's opened vein?
   If you could pour in torrents forth a rain
Of your own life in some sad spot apart,
                And leave this tear-dimmed vale,
Where only the guiltless suffer, and where rage
   The heathen throng and prosper, it were well.
But to be senseless for many a cruel age
   Were better than to thrive where sweetlings fail.

Continue reading "To a Fallen Sparrow" »

January 17, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

To a Fallen Sparrow

A little poem with a moral at the end, for him who would find it...

Why do the fairest fall? O heart, O heart!
   How often must you sigh at senseless pain?
What blows break others, and you feel the smart?
   Why bleed you from another's opened vein?
   If you could pour in torrents forth a rain
Of your own life in some sad spot apart,
                And leave this tear-dimmed vale,
Where only the guiltless suffer, and where rage
   The heathen throng and prosper, it were well.
But to be senseless for many a cruel age
   Were better than to thrive where sweetlings fail.

Continue reading "To a Fallen Sparrow" »

January 17, 2011  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Invitation to the Table

Away, away! all you who stand erect,
And you who lift your forehead to the clouds;
And all who are with golden rings bedecked,
And in fine linens wrapped, as white as shrouds;
And you who healthy are, and wise, and strong,
Who have full-stuffed with minted coin your purse,
You are not welcome here, howe'er so long
You thumb your ros'ry or bejewel your hearse;
Get hence! your fond excesses all are wrong,
Your feigned good deeds and penances are worse.
Feigned-free, you 're slaves; feigned-blest, you are a curse.

But come, stooped-over, come grotesque and maimed;
All naked, come, and halt and blind and poor;
Come, feast, who guilty are, and pale-ashamed,
And covered with full many an oozing sore.
You will not stain this table with your slime
Nor turn the cup to salt with bitter tears,
Convicted though you be of many a crime,
And tortured by grim-stalking doubts and fears, –
You are welcome here, who've squandered all your time,
And left your whole estate in sad arrears!
Come, enemies, come – and leave God's choicest dears.

Here richest wine from Eshcol's cluster flows,
And dainty angels' food down-dropped from heaven
Full thick upon the family table strows
The Father – honied dew wherein's no leaven.
The thirsty here may drink full deep, who hath
No money in his hand, and find rich food;
But he will find a foaming cup of wrath
Who dare to offer but a penny would.
No manna will he taste, but coursest chaff,
Who yearns and sighs for this world's galling good.
Thrice woe! if you so scorn the Savior's blood.

November 12, 2010  |  Comments (11)   |  Permalink

Ipsissima Lux

A little hymn I wrote during my Sudan trip. It's not very good (certainly not good enough for so great a Savior!), but it's what came. The title is Latin, and translates literally, although in rather crude English, as "Veriest Light".

Light of true Light! whose winsome ray
Earthward descends from bright
And never-ending heaven's day
In grace, – true Light of Light!

That from the Father's blazing throne
Pierced through our sinful night
With healing wings out o'er us thrown, –
Bright Sun of light and right!

Beat darkness down and go before,
Illuming all our way;
Let sins and doubts and devils cow'r
Before swift-dawning day;

Make dark deeds cease, and fears and strife;
Earth dark make heaven bright;
Bring light which is our truth and life
And peace, true Light of Light.

March 18, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Golgotha

He breathed his last, –
And died.
And the beat of the rain came hard and fast,
And the lightnings writhed in the sudden blast,
And the fierce winds cried.

Is he then dead?
But no –
For, “In him was life,” the beloved said,
And then, “Before Abraham”
(So his own words rang out long ago),
“I Am.”

But there he hangs –
Ah! red
And bloody his lifeless, ghastly form,
And the legions of darkness around him swarm,
And they gnash on him with their death-glutting fangs,
And he is dead.

But what is this – what stir, what rush?
In the pounding rain,
The rocks are split, the very heavens blush,
The temple-veil drops powerless, rent in twain –
And look! from their graves the godly slain
Come out, to live again.

Yes, “It is done!”
And after the storm, a breath
Kisses to life, while the demons still howl on.
His death is the death of death.
The minions of hell, that shrieked in horrid glee,
Now lift their voices in hopeless moans,
And, terror-stricken, flee.
And Sunday dawns.

January 13, 2010  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

The Nativity

I

How wondrous is the light
That shineth in the darkness of the world!
That shineth from above,
That cometh from the first,
Before the world’s foundations had been laid;
That scattereth the darkness
Which comprehendeth not;
That openeth the eyes of men
Who will not understand;
Bright as the image of the Father’s glory; –
Bright as the dawn of the day of creation; –
Brighter than the midnight stars;
Proclaiming all the promises of God,
Full of grace and truth.

What night is this?
What blessed night is this?
The stars begin to twinkle through the mist;
The clouds begin to race across the sky;
The snow begins to glisten in the fields;
The breezes cease to sigh;
The pine trees cease their moan;
The earth still hurrying on its trackless path
Through myriad worlds all rolling to decay
Still cleaves the night, and hastens on its way,
Tracing its endless course around the sun;
And the perpetual groan
Of all creation briefly seems to halt:
The world slips off her shackles for a space,
And leaves behind the curse of endless years.
The stars of dawn rejoice!
The sons of morning shout!
The heavens raise their song
In giddiest exultation,
And strow their richest chords
Upon the world beneath;
All nature lifts a ringing voice of praise!
It is the night when darkness shall dispel; –
It is the night when tears shall flee away; –
It is the night when sin shall be destroyed; –
Sorrow and mourning shall cease;
The redeemed of the Lord shall rejoice,
And come with singing to the holy mount;
The crooked shall be straight;
The hills shall be made low;
And peace shall flourish like a mighty stream.
Tonight the promised Christ
Shall come upon the earth,
And God shall dwell among the sons of men;
Messiah cometh to the world,
And righteousness shall spring up in his steps!

Continue reading "The Nativity" »

December 24, 2009  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Gethsemane

Here is the riddle of eternity,
And here the mighty conflict of the ages:
Shall God contend with God in unity
With God’s own will? How fierce a war he wages!

What hellish sorrows fling him rudely down,
And wring the bloody sweat from every pore,
Which glistens on his brow, a crimson crown
Forged in God’s fire, of fleshy human ore!

Behold him shudder at the thorny path,
And groan at the divine eternal plan:
Ah, shall my God drink down my God’s own wrath,
And reel and stagger like a drunken man?

Mark how the bitter precious springs well up,
Full fountain-orbs that flow in speechless grief,
As from my hands he takes the bitter cup,
And steals away my sin, ah, blessed Thief!

Oh, matchless wonder, that it should be so!
Shall boundless God in stricken Man be bound,
Humility’s heel crush the world’s proud Foe,
And mercy free in cruel wrath be found?

November 28, 2009  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Diversely Excellent

Revelation 5:5-6 “…Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain…”


True Son of God, true Son of Man,
Both terrible and fair,
What various attributes you span!
Perfections ah! how rare,
How vast are in your person blent,
And all diversely excellent.

You only are the sovereign King,
And you the Servant mild;
Artificer of everything,
And made a human child;
You held the world up in your hand,
Even while you walked its sinful land!

You judge the world in holy fire,
Avenge the merest vice:
And you became what you require –
The bloody sacrifice!
O wonder! that you hate all sin,
Yet spread your arms to take it in.

And ah, the wonder does appear
Most glorious on the cross:
I see you, Savior, hanging there,
And in your deepest loss,
The greatest victory and gain
That ever flowed from God to man.

The mighty wrath of God there meets
Redemptive love his own;
There God the desperate sinner greets,
Who there forsook his Son;
Your God-like wrath, your mercy free
Clasp hands, Redeemer, on that tree!

My God! you are surpassing great:
Trembling, I bow in fear;
My Savior! you are wondrous sweet,
And gently draw me near.
I find no joy but in your name,
Jesus! the Lion and the Lamb.

Note: Previously I had posted this and a few other hymns and poems on this site, which as of now are no longer available -- I may post a few more of them here again in the future.

November 24, 2009  |  Comments (6)   |  Permalink

Reflections

My Lord, my God – if ever thou
Have been, cease not to be so now,
When tempests rise and billows roll
To break upon my weary soul,
And all the world rise up to make
My downfall sure; and doubters take
Their chance to cast a deeper gloom,
And fickle voices thunder doom,
And hard-beset I lift my eyes
And find no op’ning in the skies –
O Lord, my Lord, to thee I flee,
If thou wilt still my refuge be,
And fear no evil; let them rage,
Let all the chaos of the age
Rain on my head: I shall not fear,
For thou art ever, ever near;
The vow still sounds within my ear
That, ‘Till this dust sink into dust,
In thee, O God, will be my trust.’

Continue reading "Reflections" »

July 26, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Poems

If anyone is interested, I just compiled and self-published a book of poems with Lulu. Quite a variety of poems, mostly lyrical but with a few narratives, and including several hymns such as "Lovely Progression" (which I recently posted here). The download is free, hard copies are $11.95.

April 14, 2008  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Lovely Progression

Jesus, how sweet your virgin birth,
Deep, lovely mystery:
Out from the unsewn womb sprang forth
God of eternity!
I kneel before your bed so rough,
My Savior in a feeding trough,
Divine before the world began,
And now in time become a man.

Jesus, how sweet your life on earth,
Your public ministry,
Your miracles of saving worth
O'er sin and misery;
I hear in reverential awe
Your thund'rous utt'rance of the Law,
And offer in my own defense
Your life of pure obedience.

Jesus, how sweet your saving death,
The atoning sacrifice!
My plea rose up on your last breath
Like incense to the skies;
I weep before that blessed tree
Where priceless blood was spilled for me,
Where all the wrath of God was poured
On the Beloved of the Lord.

Jesus, how sweet your rising up
Victorious from the dead
To fill my upheld mercy cup,
To crush the Tempter's head!
I come by grace before your throne
And there in trembling joy bow down,
Before my King who now must reign
Till he make all things new again.

February 29, 2008  |  Comments (7)   |  Permalink