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Posts Tagged ‘Remembering’

The first poem I wrote this past week is the last one I am posting because I had to reflect on its content abit. It could so easily be seen as insensitive, or premature, but I consider it neither. I think it is just honest in a constructive kind of way. We have questions; we should voice them and find answers rather than silently or violently remaining agnostic about what is real and true. I offer this poem as a balm to many hurting loved ones who are truly asking. The eleven year old girl who died of leukemia and provoked my mind to write it has God’s best as I understand because she accepted God’s solution:

A purpose in life to glorify God
To enjoy His gifts, obey His commands
Accept hardships and the correcting rod
Challenge potential and all life’s demands

What’s the way forward when we’ve lost such life?
Then come tears and doubts and questions abound
Mind and heart struggle with internal strife
About ultimate issues, life profound

How is God good when there is so much bad?
God’s not the author of evil and wrong
Man disobeys, consequences are sad
Overtaking the ‘innocent’ and strong

God provides a way to overcome death
To have peace with Him and eternal rest
Bought by His Son, finished at His last breath
Now and forever have life and God’s best

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It has been a good week for poetry. I end on an encouraging note. I owe all that I am, have, and will be to the gracious Lord Who enables me to serve Him. His Benefits are far more than I can tell. I want others to bask in His goodness by submitting to His Son. The benefits are eternal.

Father near, sovereign will
Chosen in Christ, what a thrill

Rest from work, all is done
‘It is finished’ by the Son

Peace with God, free from guilt
All because Christ’s blood was spilt

Strength to live, sin abate
His Spirit does motivate

Stress and strife, like a knife
Spirit purifies my life

Help in trials, answers prayers
God is gracious and He cares

Hardship here, glory there
Joy, comfort beyond compare

Tell good news, with you share
Eternal life here and there

Purpose now, glory then
Live for Him, soon free from sin

All that’s good, all that’s fair
Is found in Christ, jewel so rare

Come again, at the end
In His glory, sky will rend

 

Forever with Him then
Perfect in Him without sin

 

 

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The resurrection is the pinnacle of Jesus’ earthly ministry. He exhibits power over death and sin. But it is the beginning of a the great transition of the glorious Son of God. There is a definite connection made between resurrection , ascension, exaltation, and the Holy Spirit being given. Peter makes this progression quite clear to the Council of Sadducees and Pharisees in Acts 5:30-32,“The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.” As “Prince and Savior” He is both ruler of all and priest to all who believe. Again Peter is explaining the Scriptures about David’s descendant and says, “This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.” (Act 2:32-33)  We need the bodily resurrection to understand the power of Jesus and to validate it to the world, but it is only the beginning of His show of power. Paul expands our idea of His power in Ephesians 1:  I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church.”  Why do we not see this overwhelming power exhibited in the world today? Jesus is working out the details of His victory incrementally through the filling up of His sufferings in us (Colossians 1:24). As Peter takes great pains to establish in chapter 1 of his epistle, God has established our imperishable inheritance to strengthen our faith so that we “prepare our minds for action”(I Peter 1:13) against worldly lusts and intense suffering. Many great shows of power will come and for the saints  bring great joy: “And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war”………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,”….. and…..“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” (Revelation 19:11; 20:6; 21:3-4).  Yes, the resurrection demonstrates unsurpassed power overcoming death, but even as He is the first fruits of those from the dead so His resurrection power is a first fruits of His unsurpassed power in victory over death, the world, all creation, new creation. He worked at the cross to accomplish God’s plan; He marches in victory to complete all that plan reveals and enables. Let us follow in His train now as at His second coming!

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We don’t know how, when, or why
The timing of our demise
Whether slow and painful, cry
Sudden horrible surprise
 
Or to loved ones good-bye say
See a vision from above
Then in peace just drift away
To glory fly as a dove
 
 But, oh, our pain is so slight
Compared to burning below
That will give the hardened fright
Pray for souls that they not go
 
 To avoid death’s awful sting
Look to Jesus’ sacrifice
Daily to His promise cling
Thankful for the purchase price
 
By His sacrifice we win
Heaven for which praise we give
Away from trials and pain and sin
In His presence there to live

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Faith or fear, which will it be?
Fixed on Jesus, wait and see
What provision or rescue He will bring
Or falter by small degree
And fret and fail to stand free
By looking to yourself where sin will sting
 
Trust  or retreat on the way
Trivial pursuits that may
Distract from weightier tasks to be done
Or track with His plan today
With the Spirit always stay
Until the path laid out for you is run
 
Practice evil no one should
Pass judgment that you could
Wrath and indignation eternal night
Persevere in doing good
Pursue glory all you would
By grace enabled to do what is right
 
Make His resurrection known
Share your faith eternity sown
Not afraid to live and speak out for Him
Or just keep silent or moan
Seeds of discontentment grown
Timid, no purpose and your joy is dim

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There are so many good hymns. As with most things we have a tendency to rush over them as if to extract the sweetness without savoring the deeper substance. So as time allows on occasion I try to assimilate a little more of the spiritual nutrients from these poems that we sing. In poetry I like completeness of thought with conciseness of language. Of course that is a challenge. The hymn “One Day” seems to be just such a hymn, surveying the incarnation, crucifixion, burial, resurrection, and second coming of Christ. Emphasizing this idea of these events happening on a certain ‘one day’ each produces a unity of the verses and points to the historicity of the works of Christ. In each of the verses Christ and His work are exalted and personalized to the person singing the song. These are all wonderful elements, but I’m rarely quite satisfied, so I thought that it covers from Christ’s incarnation at Bethlehem to the beginning of eternity, shouldn’t it include eternity past forward to Bethlehem?  I sat down and wrote two more verse to “complete” the thought of salvation history conveyed in the song. I was unable to bring in the element of personalizing the work of Christ to the singer and I’m confident that my poetry is not so good as the author, J. Wilbur Chapman,  but I enjoyed the effort and contemplation anyway, and so may you.

One day the Godhead took counsel in heaven
One day the Christ was appointed to die
Jesus submitted in full to His Father
While He still sat on His throne up on high
 
One day Christ Jesus created first Adam
One day He walked in the garden with him
Then Adam sinned and all mankind was fallen
As second Adam He would rescue them

One day when Heaven was filled with His praises,
One day when sin was as black as could be,
Jesus came forth to be born of a virgin,
Dwelt among men, my example is He!

Refrain

Living, He loved me; dying, He saved me;
Buried, He carried my sins far away;
Rising, He justified freely forever;
One day He’s coming—O glorious day!

One day they led Him up Calvary’s mountain,
One day they nailed Him to die on the tree;
Suffering anguish, despised and rejected:
Bearing our sins, my Redeemer is He!

Refrain

One day they left Him alone in the garden,
One day He rested, from suffering free;
Angels came down o’er His tomb to keep vigil;
Hope of the hopeless, my Savior is He!

Refrain

One day the grave could conceal Him no longer,
One day the stone rolled away from the door;
Then He arose, over death He had conquered;
Now is ascended, my Lord evermore!

Refrain

One day the trumpet will sound for His coming,
One day the skies with His glories will shine;
Wonderful day, my belovèd ones bringing;
Glorious Savior, this Jesus is mine!

Refrain

I noticed something after I wrote the first two verses. The refrain repeats and reviews the five themes of incarnation, crucifixion, burial, resurrection, and the second coming of Christ presented one at a time in each of the five verses. I guess the hymn was wonderfully complete and filled out after all. Oh well, I reviewed all the more God’s wonderful grace in the process.

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What do you do on a less than profitable day?

You search for the hidden, more lasting and substantial, intended profit for the day.

When all goes awry
And my spirit wants to fly
His calling on my life
I must recall amidst the strife
 
When there is stress
And my spirit feels duress
His goodness every day
I want to graciously display
 
When hard things come
And my spirit would succomb
His strength is my stay
I need each step of the way
 
When joy comes to me
And my spirit knows it’s free
His all sufficient grace
I am keeping before my face
 

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Two days ago I began my 29th year of heating with wood. Of course there is the cutting, hauling, splitting, and stacking of wood, all good in its time, but heating with wood is the really philosophical part. Early mornings and late nights sitting around the stove reading or praying or exercising or just listening to the quiet as the fire pops and smokes to life. I do some of my best thinking hunkered down in front of the wood stove waiting for it to heat up sufficiently to close down the dampers. Sometimes the thinking is intentional and sometimes laced with far off vague thoughts of what might be or should have been. Then there are the times I make better use of the time and pray, filled with thanksgiving or desperate for help. And God is faithful in His love and provision, and salvation, and guidance. I can tell when the stove is heating up because the metal expansion tunes up as it clicks. Almost immediately I can tell if it’s not heating up because the clicks begin their contraction down click. The first fire of the season cooks dust off the stove and brings far away memories of the sitting in front of the same stove in different houses under different life circumstances. After trips away for more than a day or two the house might be anywhere from 35 to 50 degrees F. I try to make the front of the stove top glow a dull orange to warm the house quickly. I have taught whole science lessons about observing stove and chimney and room. It works especially well for convection and Bernoulli’s Principle but also for radiation (blackbodies) and conduction. I frequently know what kind of wood is burning in some else’s wood stove by the smell. Smells bring back memories better than most senses. Coal, white oak, black locust, red oak, pine, fir. I could be in a mountain town or weaving a basket or setting fence posts or planing wood or clearing brush or backpacking in the mountains above 5000′ just by memory of the those smells. And those who know their wood, know that I just sequenced memories with the woods listed just before. Wood heat is a heat you can go to when you enter the house and are cold. It makes you much more aware of the temperature inside and out today and this month and this winter compared to past winters. It causes you to mark time in different ways than most people- there is wood gathering season and heating season. My two youngest sons split most of the wood these days. The one turning 18 next month despised splitting wood when he first had to work up a big tree but two months later when it was all split he was no longer a boy. Then he liked splitting wood and is ready to split when the occasion arises. Their splitting hints at another season coming, the days when I am no longer able to heat with wood. But that may be “aways off” because I can take it at a slower pace when they are gone. I’m not ready to give up this warm habit just yet.

Ask me about sincere fires another day for that is a different story.

The Fisher Grandfather burns a sincere fire!

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I’m happy that snow is white. In fact I don’t believe there is anything whiter. Paint store white, white white, ultrawhite don’t compare and everything else looks dingy.

Ibex sp.? (anyone know?)

“‘Come now, and let us reason together’, says the LORD, ‘Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow…'” (Isaiah 1:18)

“Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness, let the bones which You have broken rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities.” Psalm 51:7

The wet Christmas snow comes down in the wind

The roadway with its sand and salt and slush is nasty but the snow reminds me that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).

The White-headed elders guard town hall

Forgiven and reminded by snow and happy for its stilling and brightening effects I agree with the purpose of this messenger as with the one in the proverb: “Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest is a faithful messenger to those who send him, for he refreshes the soul of his master.” (Proverbs 25:13)

White Christmas

White Christmas is rare in these parts but not so rare and fine as the time when the Glorious One comes Whose “head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and HIs eyes were like a flame of fire…” (Revelation 1:14). This whiteness will have been dimmed; this joy trivialized, but as it reminds me of my freedom from sin and the sight the pure in heart will one day see, I enjoy it all the more.

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As time passes I seem to have more, not less, on my mind than I can bring to the front burner and cook. I have so many incomplete questions and thoughts that sit on back burners and in warming alcoves that some will spoil before they ever get cooked.  Rather than a source of discouragement it reminds me that there are life times of ideas to explore in God’s person and works and I shan’t ever get bored  in this one. And it encourages me also that my mind is more active, albeit somewhat slower, than at earlier times, so that I am confident of God’s continued work in my heart and mind.

After college and some number of years of self study in “true science”, unbiased by evolutionism and naturalism (OK, highly and proudly biased by biblical thinking- what of it?), I had come to the conclusion that naturalistic thinking had only two difficult to confront evidences against 6-day Creationism. The first was radiometric dating which gave a clear cut way to measure time since the formation of rocks.  After years of study and a number of different evidences to the contrary, I feel confident in saying Creationists have overcome this difficulty. Polonium halos forming is less than three minutes in granite, the possibility of additive or subtractive contamination in parent and daughter isotopes, evidence for changing decay rates in carbon-14, and most significantly the absence of large amounts of helium from the alpha decay in the uranium series strongly suggesting the youth of the rocks (Don DeYoung’s Thousands . . .Not Billions (Master Books, Green Forest, Arkansas, 2005)) have given sufficient alternative evidence and explanation of this phenomena to render great age unneccesary.  The second difficulty I saw was distant starlight as inferred from redshift data. How could the universe be less than 10,000 years old if starlight had been coming from stars for millions and billions of years? The “appearance of age ” suggestion by some Creationists was never satifactory to me since it means practically that Christians could always retreat to a “miracle” to answer unanswerable questions. Now don’t get me wrong. I not only believe God has but does interfere with Nature for His purposes to accomplish great and actual, albeit rare, miracles. But if God is the God of order and reason then His Creation reveals Him and His work in reasonable and orderly ways, though incompletely without Scripture. And though I much prefer correct explanations, that is not the main point of giving a reasonable explanation, for we can no more know if our scientific explanation is right than can the Naturalist. Sorry, it is simply the limited nature of science. However, we now have a reasonable and convincing explanation for the “starlight problem”. And as such Naturalistic explanations are unneccesary. This fact does not mean that my faith was weak before and stronger now. God said it; that is all that matters, but since I was not created with fins or scales, I get tired swimming upstream in this Naturalistic culture. A little slowing of the downward current on occasion is pleasant . It turns out that the explanation is a matter of relativistic perspective. Einstein chose a convention (rule of thumb, reference frame, or perspective if you like) that was useful and convenient for his mathematical and scientific thought experiments but is not required. Einstein was concerned with observers at different locations. In order to retain this perspective he had to consider them going at the same velocity in the chosen frame of reference. If instead the location of the observers is forfeited so that they are at the same location then the velocity may vary. The result is a new definition of simultaneous that matches the Bible’s explanation for how starlight arrived at earth on the same Day Four that it was created. For considering the age of the universe, the author argues convincingly from evidence that Einstein’s convention is not the correct one. If you are neither faint of mathematical or logical thinking you may like to read it as well:   http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/arj/v3/n1/anisotropic-synchrony-convention    Even though I cannot revel in a complete understanding of every detail it adjusted my perspective by comparison to a new one and that is pleasant.

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If the students at the school where I teach selected me to be their faculty speaker at graduation, here is the speech I would deliver to them.
    Class of 2010, congratulations on the progress of your education to this point of graduation from high school.
Congratulations to your parents and relatives and friends who have loved you and encouraged you and helped you to this place and time.
    As you mark this occaision and move on to other pursuits I would like to look back and review with you some lessons I believe you should have learned in school and look forward to apply them to wherever you may find yourself….
[details in the next post….a list of the topics here]
1. Life is full of tests.
2. Integrity is the glue of society.
3. Atoms are real but cannot be touched.
4. You cannot touch without being touched.
5. Bored is not a circumstance; it is a state of mind.
6. The scientific method is a useful tool in everyday life.
7. The speed of light is constant and so are many other things.
8. Proper grammar is useful for your progress.
9. You are more than the sum of your parts.
10. History does not repeat itself; it is linear.
I can’t much imagine being asked to speak but if I did are you curious about what I’d say?

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Like most anyone else I have experienced ambitions to succeed at this or try that or do the other.  As the years have passed my thoughts of ambition have continued to some small degree though experience has quelled the impulse to apply action to those desires.  The desires to do something noteworthy that have most bewildered me are those I thought to be directed at glorifying God.  Evidently all too many of them were colored by personal ambition I did not understand.  As I reflected on God’s goodness, my failure to take ahold of Him to the degree I desired or serve Him in the way I thought desirable, I saw in my mind’s eye what my ambition should be.  I possess because of His gift a most precious resource.  I don’t want misunderstanding of my poem so consider that holding the jug means to possess the gospel while raising it refers to witness, that is, offering the gospel, and pouring would equate with praying with someone to receive Christ:
Only a lowly servant holding a water jar
But oh, refreshing contents rescued the very same
Now to offer water to travelers near and far
Brings joy to him and to his Master fame
 
Standing by the seated Master pouring on command
As one by one thirsty souls file past the servant there
Water offered unto all, received by those pre-planned
Await the Master’s nod, then pour with flare
 
Why so rarely raised the jug Master offers to all?
Servant holding back more for self that supply not fail?
The joy is more when raised or poured, not one drop will fall
Every single draught will for sin avail
 

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One of the ways that God has given us to communicate with people is through words.  Body language and acts of kindness, hatred, or neglect are other ways.  Not only kind, encouraging words, but constructive criticism words and instructive and insightful words that build someone up and demonstrate concern are helpful.  As the Proverbs say, “Anxiety in the heart of a man weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad,” (12:25) and “A man has joy in an apt answer, and how delightful is a timely word,” (15:23) and “Faithful are the wounds of a friend,” (27:6) and “Heed instruction and be wise,” (8:33) and “the tongue of the wise brings healing,” (12:18), and “he who forsakes reproof goes astray,” (10:17) and many more good words. 

But I have observed that though the eargate be open and the volume be sufficient and distractions be few, many good words are not heard.  In fact, the emotional baggage and relationship histories can shut a mind down to where it not only refuses to accept good words, rejecting them or twisting them to have some nefarious meaning or intentions, but such a mind can deny before witnesses that the words were ever spoken.  Though this is an amazement to me, I have both observed it and commited this crime of unkindness to the speaker.  So, I am resolved to hear better and attribute intentions as purer to words that are of benefit to me while understanding that discouraging or untrue words may well come from a speaker who does not fully understand the source of their own intentions.  To this end I have composed a poem:

What is the need for a stern word
From loved ones, colleagues, or stranger
A cautionary note not absurd
When it rescues one from danger

 

What is the use of a taught word
Is it something you need to know
Keep you from running with the herd
Help your mind continually grow

 

What is the goal of a wise word
Of discernment that penetrates
So that on your life you may gird
Tools for living, such worthy traits

 

What is the help of a kind word
With regular sincerity
Just like a beautiful song bird
A seasonal sound rarity

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Father, we look forward to a good school year, but we won’t have one without Your active presence.  We acknowledge Your goodness, and request that Your hand of protection be upon us. We ask that You teach us truth so that we may communicate it to students and adults.  And all of this we ask for the glory and in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

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Psalm 103 begins with both a call for the hearer to worship and summary of what the psalmist desires to communicate to himself and those listening to him.  David is alerting his own soul to bless God’s name and His benefits.  But names of God seem to be absent and even the word “name” only appears once in the psalm, so how is His name blessed?  Consider, how do we know the greatness of God’s name?  We know the greatness of it by what He has done.  All works He has done are benefits to those who trust Him, and the greatness of His name is revealed through these benefits.  Add the admonitions of verses 11,13, and 17 to fear Him and we see the summary teaching and application of the Psalm:  Bless His name, remember His benefits, and fear Him.  This application is not merely a spiritual ‘icing on the cake’, it is the means of survival amidst spiritual battle.  David knew the value of it.  In First Samuel 30:3-6 we observe a desperate situation for David and his men.  Having just returned from following the Philistines, they find their hometown, Ziklag, burned down, their wives and children kidnapped to become slaves, and most of their possessions stolen.  The men have wept over their families until they have no strength and are discussing stoning David because of the loss.  The Scripture  records David’s reaction: “But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” (v.6).  Now your plight and mine probably are not presently so severe.  The danger is to ignore the need for strengthening ourselves in the Lord.  We are thus rendered weaker for the lesser battles and ill-fit for the greater battles.  And so David urged his innermost being to bless the Lord and not forget His benefits.  May we practice the psalmist’s discipline and experience God’s joy.

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Eagle Cliffs

Eagle Cliffs

 

I guess I wanted to blog while I was away. Hikers, particularly “through hikers” (also called “end to enders”), journal their experiences and keep in contact with other hikers by writing in spiral bound notebooks left in each shelter, most usually in a ziplock bag.  I went backpacking 3 days and 2 nights in the Smoky Mountains National Park with 3 of my children and 2 of their friends.  I had so much on my mind that my children commented on my exceptional quietness.  A small amount of it came out at lunch time on the second day.  My daughter laughed at the thought of me wanting to (as an afterthought) and being able to digitally copy it.  You can read my thoughts by clicking on smokys-08-trail-journal-entry  

 

 

Pecks Corner Shelter

Pecks Corner Shelter

I decided not take tents which meant we had to stay in shelters.  This of course saved weight for us all and gave the young people the new experience of staying in a shelter. The first one, Laurel Gap Shelter still had the old design, dark with a chain link fence over the open side to keep out bears.

The Year of the Fir Cone

The Year of the Fir Cone

But Peck’s has the skylight and expanded front with picnic table and vulnerability to wildlife. Life is a balancing act.                              
I was once told that Balsam Firs only cone once every 7 years.  I do see them rarely.  I have a picture of me picking a cone from the top of a tree 14 years ago. The cones have a certain mystery to them since they come infrequently and the cones disentegrate (You’ve picked up pine, hemlock, and perhaps spruce cones but not whole fir cones unless it was a thrown green one.) My daughter commented that since she would be 21 years old this year she was born in the year of the fir cone.  Time is marked in assundry ways.

 

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