Archive for January, 2013

After showing her some poetry of mine my English-teacher colleague challenged me to write Haiku. I’ve heard of it and maybe even wrote some in high school, but I don’t remember. It turns out to be a quite difficult short form of poetry that juxtaposes two ideas in three lines of five, seven, and five syllables, respectively. It has some other characteristics but that is sufficient for me since I add one other difficulty of my own. I want my poetry to rhyme and I was told traditional Haiku does not. So I asked, ‘Must it not rhyme?’ or ‘May it not rhyme?’ Evidently traditional Japanese Haiku simply does not but in other Asian countries it frequently does. So with all of this swirling in my head I began: 

Said she write haiku
I don’t know what to pursue
Will truth and rhyme do?
Haiku has no rhyme
For this form I have no time
Want my verse to chime
Haiku Nazis come
Five, seven, five is the sum
Juxtapose in some

Then I got a bit more serious and wanted to write more substantial verse:

God’s Son comes in flesh                                               Beauty in flower
Controls worlds yet has to rest                                   And in design of tower
Died that life flourish                                                    Art forms with power
What odd design this
Transfer sin for holiness
God’s death buys us bliss

And to end on a light note, I ‘haiku’d’ (Where’s the Nazis?) science:

Biology, cool!                                                    Chemistry, oh my!
Growth, reproduce, cells the rule                 Explosions and baking pie
So look alive fool                                              Electron shift is why
 Physics tells what moves
Accelerates, stops and grooves
Know it all behooves

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How do you know you belong to God? How do you know you are going to heaven?
Many falsely hope in their own deeds or the one deed of responding to a gospel call.

 “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?”   2 Corinthians 13:5

God enacts change total, complete
Makes what is not so that it is
Brings dead ones to new life replete
Christ is one who paid the price
We trust what Christ did on the cross
He took God’s wrath, it does suffice
Conversion is this total change
Repentance and faith is the start
Priorities all rearrange
The Spirit now in you resides
Your choice will be to live for Him
By power for life He provides
If no change in your life you see
Examine in what you now trust
For truth in your inner self plea
That God may have mercy on you
Converting your every desire
Bring real change eternal and true
Faith and repentance are ongoing works of God that we see at work in us.
The grace of God is ever with us and He through it has saved us,
but the evidence of that past tense occurence is a present tense work
in our lives.

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Consider Joshua and the children of Israel on the Plains of Moab just after the death of Moses. Are they asking, ‘What now?’ God doesn’t leave them in this position long. He is about to give them the land He promised to their fathers. Yes, there is much history behind this moment. God said to Abraham,  “I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” (Genesis 17:8) He puts no conditions on Abraham or his descendents and he calls it an “everlasting possession”. This covenant is as unconditional as they come as stated here. God had delineated the extent of this gift two chapters earlier (Genesis 15:18): “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates”. It is a literal land given unconditionally to the Israel. Later when Moses is talking through the law and its application, just before he dies, he says a curious thing in the light of the promise we have just seen: “Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the Lord, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other. So you shall keep His statutes and His commandments which I am giving you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may live long on the land which the Lord your God is giving you for all time.” (Deuteronomy 4:39-40) So God is giving them the land but the keeping of it is conditioned upon whether or not they obey God? How does that represent an unconditional covenant of everlasting possession when all sin and fall short of God’s glory? Is it possible for this promise to be both conditional and unconditional and God fulfill it both ways? I believe it is and mean to show how. What will God do if Israel obeys? “Then it shall come about, because you listen to these judgments and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you His covenant and His lovingkindness which He swore to your forefathers. He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock, in the land which He swore to your forefathers to give you. You shall be blessed above all peoples; there will be no male or female barren among you or among your cattle. The Lord will remove from you all sickness; and He will not put on you any of the harmful diseases of Egypt which you have known, but He will lay them on all who hate you. You shall consume all the peoples whom the Lord your God will deliver to you” (Deuteronomy 7:12-16) It seems to me that this passage explains that possession of the land is representative of God providing prosperity, peace, and posterity. Prosperity is seen as abundant food and lack of disease while posterity is children. Peace is given by God’s initial defeat of enemies and continued peace is declared other places.

With this history of being promised the land of Canaan the book of Joshua begins, Now it came about after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ servant, saying, “Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel. Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon, even as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and as far as the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun will be your territory. No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:1-9) The application is as follows: We can take risks because His promises are sure. As Gospel Project author, Jonathan Leeman, says, “Knowing that God is generous and faithful to His promises helps us be strong and courageous because we can trust His character as we pour out our lives for Him.”

Judges 2:11-23 sets forth the cycle of God and Israel’s interaction during the days of the judges. Israel would forsake God for idols. God gave them over to their enemies. Israel cried to go in their distress. God raised up judges to both deliver them from their enemies and direct them to God. As soon as the judge died, the cycle began again. Israel was squandering the good gift God had given them so that the conditional nature of the promise overtook them. Was God unfaithful by not honoring His promise to Abraham? As Ezra and the Levites prayed to God, “However, You are just in all that has come upon us; For You have dealt faithfully, but we have acted wickedly.” (Nehemiah 9:33) “How does our sin cheapen God’s good gifts (creation, sex, family, etc)?” asks the Leeman (p.59). Using God’s gifts wrongly and pervesely is saying to God the gift was somehow not good enough the way He gave and intended it so I have to improve on it. The term used in Scripture is prostitution, selling ourselves to other gods to pervert God’s gifts for our own temporary pleasure and for hatred of God. God promises to cast such rebels off His land. I believe the land is representative of God’s provision of rest (prosperity, peace, and posterity as I said earlier) so that Hebrews 3:17-4:2 is talking about rest when it refers to God’s actions that cast Israel off the land “And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.” (Hebrews 3:17-19)

But God is gracious and faithful to His promises as is hinted at by the book of Ruth. In the second chapter Boaz is introduced as a part of the faithful remnant during the time of the judges who is prosperous, kind to His workers, acknowledges God, and is kind to this alien, Ruth (Ruth 2:1,4,8-9,12). Boaz has prosperity and peace but where’s the posterity? God provides the answer through Ruth (Ruth 4:13-17 ) in the form of their son, Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of King David, the ancestor of Jesus. Boaz had become the kinsman redeemer of Leviticus 25 for the land of Elimelech (Naomi’s deceased husband and Ruth’s father-in-law) and raised up children for his name just as Jesus became the kinsman redeemer of all who will trust in Him to buy them back from the slavery and poverty of sin. By this means Jesus will fulfill the unconditional promise made to Abraham to provide and literal land forever. Micah 4:1-4 prophecies clearly what will happen, “And it will come about in the last days that the mountain of the house of the Lord will be established as the chief of the mountains…..For from Zion will go forth the law, even the word of the Lord from Jerusalem….And never again will they train for war. Each of them will sit under his vine and under his fig tree, with no one to make them afraid, for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.” There most certainly is a spiritual aspect to the rest of God, a continual faith rest. But that does not exclude literal, believing Israel, past or present or future, and all those who have trusted Jesus, spiritual Israel ( ) from being included on a literal land. I firmly believe that God speaks of both literal land and rest in Hebrews 4:8-11,  “For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. so there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.” The actual fulfillment of this promise is proclaimed in Revelation 20 and 21. “Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.” (20:6) Reigning with Christ for a 1000 years is a literal reign on literal land since it delineates a specific time verse nine mentions the location of these events being earth. But 1000 years is not an everlasting possession. God is more than up to the task of completing His promise and remembering every little detail.  “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (21:1-4) Literally amazing, everlasting peace, prosperity, and posterity provided by God in the everlasting possession for His people. Praise God!

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If you haven’t heard of Pearl Fryar’s Topiary Garden in Bishopville, SC, then you may need to check this out. And the best thing about Pearl is he gives glory to God and encouragement to people:


Self-taught, hard-working, friendly, very creative, giving, and down to earth are all adjectives that describe this man.

God has made every human in His image and creativity is part of that image. God has made us stewards here and the artwork this man does beautifies his neighborhood and cheers people.  He even does all of this without pesticides and grows Frazier Fir in the heat of South Carolina. I hope to visit his garden one day.

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Yeh, it’s my birthday, and many kind people have wished me a happy one for which I am grateful. The best birthday present in a long time? My wife agreed to go on a hike with me to somewhere I’d never been. I assured her it was short and easy, but you’ve got to realize some history here. “How do you know if you haven’t been there?” “Well I don’t really, but it’s on top of the ridge and we’ll be on top of the ridge, and people have said it is easy, and it can’t be too far.” She went without complaining and we enjoyed the time. So I had a party in the wilderness, a wild party, just looking around and enjoying the presence of my wife and a cell phone call from my brother in Ukraine.

“When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur…..Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee: How great thou art! How great thou art!” Consider that the most beautiful scene you have ever seen is part of the tarnished creation- degraded by sin. And the God who made the originally un-degraded creation is far more beautiful than any part of His artwork here. He is unimaginably beautiful in purity, power, and presence. I desire to see His face one day and will because of what Jesus has done for me. I warm up for that day in the dim light of His awe inspiring beauty exhibited in His Creation. If you haven’t been to the Pinnacle off the side of Old NC 105 on the far side of Linville Gorge you should check it out. Enjoy the pictures of one more day He has given me.

Linville Gorge from the Pinnacle

Linville Gorge from the Pinnacle

My good wife of 31 years

My good wife of 31 years

Shortoff Mountain

Shortoff Mountain

Atop the rocks at Black Fork climbing area

Atop the rocks at Black Fork climbing area

100_7055       100_7049







Alexander Farm, End of Shortoff, and Lake James

Alexander Farm, End of Shortoff, and Lake James

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Why do we copy wood grain in plastic? Is it because it is simply but wonderfully beautiful? We can only hope to copy and immulate the creativity and beauty the Creator has put into humble items like the pattern of tree growth. He is awesome.

See if you know any of the woodgrains pictured from a humble dwelling: Exhibits #1-8

exhibit #1

Exhibit #2


oak floor





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Overflows from the Heart

"But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart…" Matthew 15:18


Pointing to the One who made, saved, and sustains