Poetry Saturday—Sunday Choice (Complaint #1)

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I’d shut down once the text is read,
and wish I’d just stayed home instead.
What do they teach these guys in school?
Must boredom be their guiding rule?
When insipid’s their claim
to weekly homiletic fame,
and sin can sit at ease, unfazed
with all the rest whose eyes are glazed,
while humor or some story take
the place of exposition—wake
me when it’s over, if you please.
The devil’s tools are such as these.
Before them lies the Word of Life:
It should dissect us like a knife
and cause our sin-sick souls to howl
to be exposed so dark and foul.
We should be ushered through the gate
of glory, crushed beneath its weight
and, listed by a skillful hand,
there made with joy to safely stand
before our Savior’s beaming face,
secure in His redeeming grace,
and all astounded to be seen
in His eyes loved, forgiven, clean,
and fitted to His bidding do.
Instead, we are subjected to
some moral exhortation in
the name of Him who died for sin,
which most accept too readily
since it requires no change, you see,
but serves to reassure them that
God’s fine with them right where they’re at.
The Church thus weekly sermonized
is steadily more marginalized.
The Kingdom’s coming waits until
those called to preach their calls fulfill
with courage and consistency,
to vaunt Christ, with humility. —T.M. Moore

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Poetry Saturday—Upon A Life I Have Not Lived

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Upon a Life I have not lived,
Upon a Death I did not die,
Another’s Life; Another’s Death,
I stake my whole eternity.

Not on the tears which I have shed,
Not on the sorrows I have known,
Another’s tears; Another’s griefs,
On these I rest, on these alone.

O Jesus, Son of God,
I build on what Thy Cross has done for me;
There both my death and life I read,
My guilt, and pardon there I see.

Lord, I believe; O deal with me,
As one who has Thy Word believed!
I take the gift, Lord, look on me,
As one who has Thy gift received. —Horatius Bonar

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Poetry Saturday—Affliction IV

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Broken in pieces all asunder,
                      Lord, hunt me not,
                     A thing forgot,
Once a poore creature, now a wonder,
               A wonder tortur’d in the space
               Betwixt this world and that of grace.

My thoughts are all a case of knives,
                     Wounding my heart
                     With scatter’d smart,
As watring pots give flowers their lives.
               Nothing their furie can controll,
               While they do wound and prick my soul.

All my attendants are at strife,
                     Quitting their place
                     Unto my face:
Nothing performs the task of life:
               The elements are let loose to fight,
               And while I live, trie out their right.

Oh help, my God! let not their plot
                     Kill them and me,
                     And also Thee,
Who art my life: dissolve the knot,
               As the sunne scatters by his light
               All the rebellions of the night.

Then shall those powers, which work for grief,
                     Enter Thy pay,
                     And day by day
Labour Thy praise, and my relief;
               With care and courage building me,
                Till I reach heav’n, and much more, Thee. —George Herbert (**spelling is 1663 English**)

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Seeing Beauty And Saying Beautifully (book review)

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Seeing Beauty And Saying Beautifully is, in my mind, a grand slam! It features one of my favorite poets (George Herbert), possibly the most prolific evangelist of history (George Whitefield), my all-time favorite author (C.S. Lewis), all tied together by my go-to theologian (John Piper). Seeing Beauty And Saying Beautifully is part 6 in Piper’s series called “The Swans Are Not Silent.” 

George Herbert was a pastor of a small country church and a prolific poet who wrote almost all of his poems uniquely. “Of the 167 poems in The Temple, 116 are written with meters that are not repeated,” which even modern poets find astounding. George Whitefield spent more hours of his life preaching than he did sleeping, and he spoke with such a captivating style that he was quite possibly the first celebrity of the American colonies. C.S. Lewis wrote everything from history to fantasy, autobiography to poetry, theology to children’s novels. Peter Kreeft says of him, he “was not a man: he was a world.” 

John Piper finds in all three of these men a common thread: They all were able to not only see the beauty of God in everything, but they were able to express it in a beautiful way that drew in others to see the beauty of God for themselves. Pastor John calls this “poetic effort.” 

Pastor John also wrestles with how the profound creativity and eloquence of his three subjects meshes with the apostle Paul’s admonition that human eloquence could drain the Cross of Jesus of its power (see 1 Corinthians 1:17-2:5). He concludes that poetic effort for the sake of exalting the speaker or poet does turn people’s eyes to man and away from God. But that poet, evangelist, or author that uses the beauty in God’s creation to point people to the Creator is doing so in a way in which God is supremely exalted. This, Pastor John says, is exactly what Herbert, Whitefield, and Lewis have done, and done so well that their poetic efforts are still fruitful and God-glorifying long after their deaths. 

Seeing Beauty And Saying Beautifully is a wonderful book for those who enjoy biographies, theology, or the craft of skilled artisans. If you don’t know about the poems of George Herbert, the preaching of George Whitefield, or the vast library of literature of C.S. Lewis, let this book be your doorway to a rich new world of discovery, enjoyment, and God-glorification. 

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Poetry Saturday—By Night When Others Soundly Slept

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By night when others soundly slept
And hath at once both ease and Rest,
My waking eyes were open kept
And so to lie I found it best.

I sought Him whom my Soul did Love,
With tears I sought Him earnestly.
He bow’d His ear down from Above.
In vain I did not seek or cry.

My hungry Soul He fill’d with Good;
He in His Bottle put my tears,
My smarting wounds washt in His blood,
And banisht thence my Doubts and fears.

What to my Saviour shall I give
Who freely hath done this for me?
I’ll serve Him here whilst I shall live
And Love Him to Eternity. —Anne Bradstreet


Poetry Saturday—Peace

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Sweet Peace, where dost thou dwell? I humbly crave,
                                           Let me once know.
             I sought thee in a secret cave,
             And ask’d, if Peace were there.
A hollow winde did seem to answer, No:
                                           Go seek elsewhere.

I did; and going did a rainbow note:
                                           Surely, thought I,
             This is the lace of Peaces coat:
             I will search out the matter.
But while I lookt, the clouds immediately
                                           Did break and scatter.

Then went I to a garden, and did spy
                                           A gallant flower,
             The Crown Imperiall: sure, said I,
             Peace at the root must dwell.
But when I digg’d, I saw a worm devoure
                                           What show’d so well.

At length I met a rev’rend good old man,
                                           Whom when of Peace
             I did demand, he thus began:
             There was a Prince of old
At Salem dwelt, who liv’d with good increase
                                           Of flock and fold.

He sweetly liv’d; yet sweetnesse did not save
                                           His life from foes.
       But after death out of his grave
              There sprang twelve stalks of wheat:
Which many wondring at, got some of those
                                           To plant and set.

It prosper’d strangely, and did soon disperse
                                           Through all the earth:
        For they that taste it do rehearse,
             That vertue lies therein,
A secret vertue bringing peace and mirth
                                           By flight of sinne.

Take of this grain, which in my garden grows,
                                           And grows for you;
        Make bread of it: and that repose
             And peace, which ev’ry where
With so much earnestnesse you do pursue,
                                           Is onely there. —George Herbert **spelling is 1663 English**

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Poetry Saturday—Growing Down

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Mix a grunt and a grumble, a sneer and a frown,
And what do you have? Why old Mr. Brown,
The crabbiest man in our whole darn town.
We all called him Grow-Up Brown:
For years each girl and boy and pup
Heard “Grow up, grow up, oh grow up.”
He’d say, “Why don’t you be polite?
Why must you shout and fuss and fight?
Why can’t you keep dirt off your clothes?
Why can’t you remember to wipe your nose?
Why must you always make such noise?
Why don’t you go pick up your toys?
Why do you hate to wash your hands?
Why are your shoes all filled with sand?
Why must you shout when I’m lying down?
Why don’t you grow up?” grumped Grow-Up Brown.

One day we said to Grow-Up Brown,
“Hey, why don’t you try growing down?
Why don’t you crawl on your knees?
Why don’t you try climbing trees?
Why don’t you bang on a tin-can drum?
Why don’t you chew some bubble gum?
Why don’t you play kick-the-can?
Why don’t you not wash your hands?
Why don’t you join the baseball team?
Why don’t you jump and yell and scream?
Why don’t you try skipping stones?
Why don’t you eat ice cream cones?
Why don’t you cry when you feel sad?
Why don’t you cuddle with your dad?
Why don’t you have weenie roasts?
Why don’t you believe in ghosts?
Why don’t you have pillow fights?
Why don’t you sleep with your teddy at night?
Why don’t you swing from monkey bars?
Why don’t you wish on falling stars?
Why don’t you run in three-legged races?
Why don’t you make weirdie faces?
Why don’t you smile, Grow-Up Brown?
Why don’t you try growing down?”
Then Grow-Up Brown, he scrunched and frowned
And scratched his head and walked around,
And finally he said with a helpless sound,
“Maybe I will try growing down.”

So Grow-Up Brown began to sing
And started doing silly things:
He started making weirdie faces
And came in first in the three-legged races.
All day he swung from monkey bars,
All night he’d lie and count the stars.
He tooted horns, he banged on drums,
He spent twenty bucks on bubble gum,
He went to all the weenie roasts,
And once he thought he saw a ghost.
He got to be great at pillow fights
And went to sleep with his teddy at night.
He flew a kite, he kick a can,
He rubbed some dirt upon his hands.
He drew some pictures, threw some stones,
He ate forty-seven ice cream cones.
He got some sand between his toes,
Got a loose tooth and a bloody nose.
He got a dog, they rolled in the mud.
He imitated Elmer Fudd.
He climbed a roof (though no one asked),
He broke his wrist—he wore a cast.
He rolled down hills, he climbed up trees,
He scuffed his elbows, skinned his knees,
He tried to join the baseball team;
When they said no, he spit and screamed.
He cried when he was feeling sad
And went and cuddled with his dad.
He wore a hat that didn’t fit,
He learned just how far he could spit,
He learned to wrestle and get tickled,
Sucked his thumb, he belched and giggled.
He got his trousers torn and stained,
He ran out barefoot in the rain,
Shouting to all the folks in town,
“It’s much more fun, this growin’ down.” —Shel Silverstein

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Poetry Saturday—The Mother’s Prayer

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Starting forth on life’s rough way,
   Father, guide them;
Oh, we know not what of harm
   May betide them;
‘Neath the shadow of Thy wing,
   Father, hide them;
Walking, sleeping, Lord, we pray,
   Go beside them.

When in prayer they cry to Thee,
   Do Thou hear them;
From the stain of sin and shame
   Do Thou clear them;
‘Mid the quicksands and the rocks
   Do Thou steer them;
In temptation, trial, grief,
   Be Thou near them.

Unto Thee we give them up;
   Lord, receive them.
In the world we know must be
   Much to grieve them—
Many striving, oft and strong,
   To deceive them;
Trustful in Thy hands of love
   We must leave them. —William Cullen Bryant

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Poetry Saturday—Tis Not For Man To Trifle

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‘Tis not for man to trifle! Life is brief,
And sin is here.
Our age is but the falling of a leaf,
A dropping tear.
We have no time to sport away the hours,
All must be earnest in a world like ours.

Not many lives, but only one have we,
One, only one;
How sacred should that one life ever be,
That narrow span!
Day after day filled up with blessed toil,
Hour after hour still bringing in new spoil.

Our being is no shadow of thin air,
No vacant dream;
No fable of the things that never were,
But only seem.
‘Tis full of meanings as of mystery,
Tho’ strange and solemn may that meaning be.

Our sorrows are no phantom of the night,
No idle tale;
No cloud that floats along a sky of light,
On summer gale.
They are the true realities of earth,
Friends and companions even from our birth.

O life below, how brief, and poor, and sad!
One heavy sigh.
O life above, how long, how fair, and glad!
An endless joy.
Oh, to be done with daily dying here!
Now to begin the living in yon sphere!

O day of time, how dark! O sky and earth,
How dull your hue!
O day of Christ, how bright! O sky and earth,
Made fair and new!
Come, better Eden, with thy fresher green;
Come, brighter Salem, gladden all the scene. —Horatius Bonar

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Poetry Saturday—Give Me Jesus

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Gracious Lord, incline Thine ear,
My requests vouchsafe to hear;
Hear my never-ceasing cry,
Give me Jesus, or I die.

Wealth and honor I disdain,
Earthly comforts, Lord, are vain;
These can never satisfy;
Give me Jesus, or I die.

Lord, deny me what Thou wilt,
Only save my soul from guilt;
Suppliant, at Thy feet I lie,
Give me Jesus, or I die.

Weak, unholy, and unclean,
I am much defil’d with sin,
On Thy mercy I rely,
Give me Jesus, or I die.

Thou dost freely save the lost,
In Thy grace alone I trust;
With my earnest suit comply,
Give me Jesus, or I die.

Thou hast promis’d to forgive
All who in Thy Son believe;
Lord, I know Thou cans’t not lie,
Give me Jesus, or I die. —Williams Hammond

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