Wednesday, 31 December 2008

DEBORAH

Others might have designated you
Warrior, prophetess, or leader but you
Chose this name ‑ a Mother
In Israel. Perhaps, as a robbed lioness
You fought, as maternally caring cajoled,
As example, led; until you produced
What constituted the true Israel ‑ those
Loving Jehovah who could have might
Like the rising sun; who go on
Straight highways in the restful conditions
You motherly activity had assured.

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

RACHEL

When he remembered ‑ Jacob ‑,
No longer a young man in a hurry,
To pace himself to the pace of the slowest,
Children or lambs, was it you,
Rachel, whose shepherdess care
Finally had influenced him? You
Inspired him first to breach custom,
Roll the stone away. His ewe,
Cherished in his bosom, you transferred
His affection to Joseph, gave Jacob
His fruitful bough, rooted by where
He first encountered you, by the well.

Monday, 29 December 2008

SARAH

You had some husband ‑ dragging you
From civilization and comfort to dwell,
Season after season, in a tent. Neither
Sand deterred nor fertility halted:
Always he loved his vision ‑ which you,
With a wife's common sense, laughed at.
Did long miles and years drain your strength,
Perils of the wayside and in king's palaces
Fray your nerves? Finally, with nothing
But faith to cling to, you found strength
Nature could not provide. With Abraham
You saw Isaac ‑ Christ's day;
And insisted that he alone remain.
If feet still trudged arid or arable
Heart had its peace ‑ its sought country.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

“SON OF THE HIGHEST”

“Son of the Highest,
He shall be called”:
Now in the glory
He is installed.

Soon from the glory
He will come out
Cheering the faithful,
Banishing doubt.

“Son of the Highest
He shall be called”:
Glories once granted,
Never recalled.

“He shall be Firstborn,
Highest of kings”,
Chief amongst brethren,
Head of all things.

“Son of the Highest
He shall be called”:
God is delighted;
Saints are enthralled.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

FOOD

The Manna

On the same earth on which
Our feet stumble, He walked:
Sweetness is in those steps
To the discerning; oil,
The Spirit saturating
Is in their taste; fineness,
Singularity, sufficiency:
Man according to God.

The Barley Harvest

A risen Man presented
Himself to willing persons:
Choiceness in firstfruits
Manifested, handfuls on purpose,
For eager gleaners to enfold,
Here, with that stamp of God’s
Approval, with that fresh life:
Man according to God.

The Old Corn

Stored in its native land
The old corn of the land
Provides food for that land
In undiminished supply:
Fruit of the purpose of God,
Christ at God’s right hand
Is the soul’s richest food:
Man according to God.

Friday, 26 December 2008

SCOTT’S VIEW

Stopping each time he passed that way to trace
God’s workmanship in river, tree and hill
The poet frequently renewed the thrill
Which toil and worry struggled to efface.
The horses which had pulled and stopped his chaise
Finally pulled his hearse; and they were still
As subject to their absent master’s will
When they arrived at that familiar place.

I have a Master who is absent, too -
In everything that I may say or do
Do those who know He is my Master find
That I am subject to my Master’s mind?
I can be thrilled with Him and can derive
From Him who, though now absent, is alive.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

TO CATRIONA

Care, child, for the lambs
You will have in your trust.

Value the blameless Lamb
Led dumb to the shearers.

Spin the gnarled fleece
To taut, fine, warp.

Drench the tight threads
Till warm dyes permeate.

Weave loose weft and tight warp
Into a seamless garment.

Hem, embroider, finish
In fine stitching.

Lastly, my daughter,
Wear it with good grace.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Monday, 22 December 2008

23/07/04

Giving light and warmth,
Lofting me in space, the sun
Gives life to my life.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

22/07/04

There are engagements
To which God in His love
Has committed Himself.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

21/07/04

It shudders, stops, and
Drinks cash like a mistress, but
Carries us stoutly.

Friday, 19 December 2008

20/07/04

A surprise blessing -
Does he kick and wrestle yet, (or she!)
Embryo Ellis?

(It was “she”)

Thursday, 18 December 2008

19/07/04

Flowers, charcoal smoke, herbs,
A cooked dinner - how good to
Have a sense of smell.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

18/07/04

God’s grace has acted
In my soul and heart so that
I value god’s grace.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

17/07/04

The Soviet artist
Praised the Maker of the thumb,
And I’ll praise with him.
17/07/04

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

16/07/2004

Counting my blessings

I begin with this small one:

That I can count!



See 22 November 2007

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

THE FATHER'S PLEASURE


Our God and Father, it has been Thy pleasure
To hear us own the greatness of the Son
As witnessed in the work that He has done
To lead us here as Thy peculiar treasure.

How great the majesty of the Creator!
How great the Personage that fills Thy heart!
How great the grace that led Him to impart
The truth that through love's counsels Thou are greater.

How great Thy thought that we from our estrangement
From divine life should now be brought to share
A place of nearness where we can declare
Thine own supremacy in love's arrangement!

Father, we worship as Thy love ensconces
Our hearts in the indomitable power
Of its embraces, during this great hour,
Enjoying Thy delight in our responses.

Monday, 24 November 2008

THE MAN


Into the night
‑ Men blundering in darkness ‑ came
The Light.

Among absurd
Bubbles of futile noise came
The Word.

Where men, astray,
Wandered in pathless deserts came
The Way.

As men's uncouth
Hubbub of lies resounded came
The Truth.

While sturt and strife
Gave death fearful dominion came
The Life.

Amid the shock,
Breakers disrupting flotsam, came
The Rock.

Just where I am
Needing His loving‑kindness came
The Lamb.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

THE HEART OF GOD


Thinking of God, and noticing His ways,
As shown to me by Jesus, His own Son,
My soul has been not only moved to praise,

That I should know the ways of such a One,
But moved to love, considering the heart
(Filled with desire that when these ways were done

I, as myself a son, should have a part
In His eternal presence, being too
Integral in Christ's glorious counterpart ‑

The splendid bride, joined to the Bridegroom who
Gave all for her) which, from profound affection,
Conceived and used these ways to carry through

Those whom He loved into complete perfection,
Washed from their sins, cleared from the power of sin,
Knowing His love, in Christ, the Resurrection

And in the arms of God, who drew them in
To His own countenance. No other mind
Could, straining to its greatest heights, begin

To think of such a plan as this, designed
By such a God; no other heart required
Such a conception for its unconfined

Expanse of love; no other love inspired
Such love as that by which God's sons are fired.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

HANDS IX

Not words only; for his Master's spirit imbued
Him, a man in the twentieth century since Christ
With the same Spirit; his hands consecrated, filled.
As a member of Christ's body it seemed
He was a hand: a giver, a helper, a blesser.

Not words only: last gestures,
Last images fix in the mind.
A Man, in flesh and bone, risen
Out of Death's harsh manacles,
Stood, surrounded by admirers;
Expressing a dispensation
His final action, even ascending,
He blessed, He lifted His hands.

Friday, 21 November 2008

HANDS VII

Last words are often famous ‑
The ruling trait being prominent
At the time of death. "Father,
Forgive them" epitomises
The spirit of the Lord Jesus:
"It is finished" obedience
Of all that His hands had done.
But I cannot consider last words
Without remembering my father's:
"Jesus Christ is the Same, yesterday
And today, and to the ages to come."

Thursday, 20 November 2008

HANDS VII

His hands were nailed to the cross
Though He used them only to bless
Those in sickness, need and distress
Whom the Pharisees reckoned as dross.

Did they play at pitch and toss
To gamble over His dress?
His hands were nailed to the cross
Though He used them only to bless.

He bore the deepest loss
As He hung for me, I confess;
For He suffered there to express
Greatest love where sin was most gross:
His hands were nailed to the cross.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

HANDS VI

But the women cared:
His mother
Wrapped round Him the swaddling bands prepared
Because of her affection
For Him, more than other,
Lying in infant perfection.

Martha also served
Preparing
All the good things that she had conserved
For Him alone ‑ though her care
Distracted her from repairing
To the rest that He wished she would share.

Her sister, Mary,
Adoring
The One whose love will never vary,
Raised her eager hand to break
Her flask of nard ‑ quickly pouring
An outflow of love for His sake.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

HANDS V

Fisting their swords, ravaged
Herod's murderous soldiers.

The Nazarenes could not grasp
His time had not yet come.

Nor could the Pharisees handle
Stones to hurl while He stayed.

A more potent weapon
Judas clung to, the bag.

What use were the swords and torches
They gripped as they came to take Him?

Yet they wounded with buffets His face,
More marred than any man's.

As they plaited His crown of thorns
They would watch lest they pierced
Their own hands.

Monday, 17 November 2008

HANDS IV

Until one Man, at the fulcrum of history,
Lifted His words in obedience to God ‑
Not words only: His hands operated
Diligently in healing ‑ as commanded to heal;
Blessing ‑ as commanded by God to bless;
Breaking the bread ‑ at His Father's word.
And His hands will never let slip
The entrusted sheep; while the Father's hand
Clasps them too. Even the disciples' feet
Were washed by these dutiful hands
And dried with the linen towel ‑ for refreshment
And for comfort. Such was the Father's delight
He gave all things to be in those hands.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

HANDS III

Since Adam lifted his sinless hand to steal
All men have used their hands as tools of ill:
Adam began to use his for deceit,
Sewing a flimsy cover because of sin.
And Cain continued to plunge to greater evil,
Staining his hands with Abel's righteous blood:
Building a city to house the unbelieving,
Making the origin of our warped world.
Jubal was father of those who use the harp,
Whose hands are skilled to charm our thoughts from God;
Tubal‑Cain first forged tools of iron and brass ‑
Technology for lawlessness and war.
Against the love of God and His commands,
From then till now Man lifts his words and hands.

Friday, 14 November 2008

HANDS II

Not words only: come, He used His hands
To convey compassion and power. Lepers
He handled ‑ though no leper could emerge from
His touch. Jairus's daughter awoke to feel
Her cold hand in a warm strong one. Mud
He fingered, and the dull eyes soon to begin
To see. The softness of the children's hair
His palms sensed as He blessed them; for how often
Were those hands God prepared lifted blessing?
Yet the hands that healed even His captor
Were restrained by His enemies bonds.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

HANDS I

Not words only ‑ He used His hand
For laying earth's foundations, spreading
The heavens. In its hollow He measured
The oceans; He balanced the mountains,
Grasped the world's dust. His span
Meted out the constellations, fixing
For each its own trajectory. Man
Issues from His hand, potter's clay,
Supple, with no right to demand,
"What makest Thou?"
And towards Man
All the day He has stretched out both
His hands; to a rebellious people.

Monday, 10 November 2008

....DEPTHS AND HEIGHT....


He Who held all the waters in His hand
And meted out the heavens with His span
Came near in grace no man can understand
To touch the children and the leprous man.

He who the heaven of heavens cannot contain
Who said that He would dwell in hidden gloom
Came down in light and love, and being slain,
Was laid within the compass of a tomb.

He who in mercy took the sinner's place,
Descending to the greatest depths for me,
Has now ascended to the throne of grace
And at His Name all men shall bow the knee.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

THE BELL

(Redemption)

"I was founded in Edinburgh
In 1612,
By the care of William Blackwood,
Bailie of Dunblane,
And stayed so in my exercise
Till 1657,
When I was broken by
The unskilful direction and handling
Of some men;
And by the care and expense
Of Henri Blackwood, son of William,
I am found again at Brimin,
1660."

(Inscription on a bell in Dunblane Cathedral.)

Saturday, 8 November 2008

GATHERING

The Lord is glad to see His people gather
Emerging from their homes to come within
His own guest chamber, showing they choose rather
The suffering pathway than the way of sin;
In their desire to please Him they are led
To pay allegiance to their absent Head.

And they, assembled, see in one another
The Spirit's work, which cannot be denied,
Esteeming well each sister and each brother
As one for whom their Lord and Saviour died;
While they appreciate that every one
Is given by the Father to the Son.

They own Christ's claim acknowledging that whether
In life or death they are the Lord's; for He
To whom they raise their heart and voice together
Has operated that they might be free;
Since His great love had bound Him to fulfil,
Despite the depths of sorrow, all God's will.

Friday, 7 November 2008

PROBLEMS

When Christ came in each problem was resolved ‑
When he touched Simon's distraught mother‑in‑law
The fever left and she could serve the Lord;
When at the feast the hosts were at a loss
With circumstances becoming untoward
The Lord instructed to fill the water pots:
Immediately best wine brimmed to the top.
Or, when He went into the house of God
And saw the merchandise that filled its halls,
He carefully prepared a scourge of cords
And angrily drove out each sheep and ox
In righteous fury with men, who warped God's laws.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

HEALING

In every step His love to man was proved;
Each action showed compassion for the poor
While every case caused mercy to exude:
His active grace left man without excuse
When in each problem God's love was introduced.
Lepers whom men were anxious to exclude
His mercy touched and quickly they were cured;
The blind were given sight, the bound were loosed,
Limbs that were maimed regained their proper use.
In every circumstance there was the proof
Of mighty power ‑ but still His heart was moved.
His spirit bore all that His power removed.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

DISCIPLES

Under the tutelage of John the Baptist
The first two came by influence and attraction.
Simon was next, found by his brother Andrew,
Following Christ and owning Him as "Rabbi".
But soon they came because of His commandment
Acknowledging He was their Lord and Master:
Upon His call they left their ships and tackle,
With James and John called even from their father.
Without regret they left abundant catches
To be with Christ and learn of greater matters.
As firstfruits of the precious seed He scattered
They quickly found to be with Him was grandeur.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

NAZARETH

Luke loves to note the details of that day:
The town of Nazareth to which He came,
His holy custom and the devoted ways
In which He stood or sat or found the place.
He passed the verses that spoke of Him as great
And ones that told of all He was to bear
But stopped before the treading of the grapes.
He chose the words which demonstrated grace,
Which He could say were all fulfilled "today".
But when He spoke of Gentiles who were saved
All in the synagogue were filled with rage:
Through murderous attempts He went His way.

Monday, 3 November 2008

TEMPTATIONS

He went the way in which the Spirit led,
Although Mark writes, stressing His holiness,
"The Spirit drives Him ...into the wilderness."
There He endured not only heat and dearth
But Satan's vain essays to try and test.
These bitter trials allowed Him to express
Perfect dependence ‑ not speaking from Himself:
"By God's word men shall live, not just by bread".
Despite His might He owned He would not tempt
The Lord His God, nor worship someone else:
Against such worth, Satan, defeated, fled ‑
The strong man bound, the Stronger raids his wealth.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

JOHN THE BAPTIST

The Baptist preached of Him that was to come
Acknowledging the Christ's superior worth;
"Repent! Repent!" he vehemently urged,
Striving to smooth the places that were rough.
John owned the Lamb by whom all would be done
To take away the evil of the world;
He learned the grace of the incarnate Word
Who saw baptism as not superfluous
Identifying with those in whom God worked.
And John beheld the Spirit, as a dove,
Gladly descend upon the holy One
Whom God extolled as His beloved Son.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

GROWTH

We have few glimpses of the ensuing time
In what evangelists were moved to write:
We see the day when as the holy Child
Within the temple Jesus was proved to find
His Father's business the motive of His life;
We know His growth was normal, yet sublime;
We know His deeds were normal, yet divine;
The prophet shows He learned to choose the right
While in obedience spurning the vile.
God loved to see a manhood undefiled
And loved to feel His perfect ways entice
The open heavens to tell of God's delight.

Friday, 31 October 2008

SIMEON

But in Jerusalem there was a man
Who waited for the King with open arms;
He was alert because within his heart
He kept the secret ‑ Messiah came at last!
Oh with what warmth he held Him in his grasp
While from his soul experience forged a psalm:
He saw the light for us who are afar
And envyless was full of jubilance;
He saw the glory this Infant would impart
To Israel though it be recalcitrant;
He was content that day should be his last
If, by the Spirit, he was Christ's celebrant.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

BIRTH

And at His birth the universe was moved:
Angels rejoiced in heavenly multitudes
While one proclaimed the blessing to ensue
For God and men, glory and peace and good;
The shepherds heard and gladly ran to view
The holy Child acclaimed King of the Jews
Whom they extolled with reverent attitude.
Even the heavens were active to produce
His special star at which the magi looked;
And at that sight straightway they were induced
To leave their homes to tread the stubborn route
To Bethlehem with gifts to contribute.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

MARY

God sought a vessel in whom to work His ways;
By whom His Christ could become incarnate.
Mary was chosen ‑ as filled with God's own grace
To bear that holy Thing and give Him care;
For she accepted the message when it came ‑
Without demur she took her burden's weight
Giving no thought to the apparent shame:
What God required she willingly obeyed.
Then from her soul welled up a hymn of praise
To answer God and magnify His Name
Whose love and mercy Mary had proved so great
As He approached in glorious sovereignty.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

ZACHARIAS AND ELIZABETH


Those who feared God and waited for redemption
For Israel would often speak together;
And God observed it and kept them in remembrance,
Regarding them as a peculiar treasure.
Old Zacharias maintained his priestly service ‑
Though faint in faith he offered in the temple
Partly prepared to heed the angel's message;
A greater faith Elizabeth presented
And she became a conduit of blessing;
Such souls as these gladly prepared to welcome
The Coming One affectionately expectant,
Within Judaea, an elevated setting.


Time for another wave of "Touching the King".

Monday, 27 October 2008

TRANSFORMATIONS


The Light appeared in darkness. Mercilessly
It exposed sin ‑ mercifully
Exposed the sinner.

If, at the wedding, natural joys
Faltered, with Him there
Real joys superseded.

If, by the well, she was
Dissatisfied, He could provide
Living water.

If, amidst Bethany's friendship,
Death intervened, into it
He obtruded resurrection.

Till even the power of death
Invaded by Him
Was transformed.

Heaven has received Him
And His presence there created
A prepared place.

And now my heart can be
Transfigured
By His presence.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

PLACE

John asked for a place
On His right hand or left,
In the glory;
But Jesus preferred to give him
A place in His bosom.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

PRODIGAL


I am kissed, I am dressed,
I am ringed, I am shod;
I am chosen and blessed -
I am brought near to God!

Friday, 24 October 2008

MATTHIAS


Your fame lies in that you never
Missed an occasion ‑ from John's
Baptism to the Lord's ascension ‑
Unrecognised, not an apostle.
But always a disciple, always
Ready for the call to come.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

SIMON


Zealots are not my style;
If the Lord in His wisdom ‑ after
A night of prayer ‑ chose such
As you this word is for me:
"Be zealous therefore and repent."

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

JUDAS...


"...Not the Iscariote" but marked
By that name, Judas. No doubt
This led to your exhortation to
Contend earnestly for the faith
Once delivered to the saints,
To your outpouring to Him who
Can keep you without stumbling
And can set you before His glory.

Monday, 20 October 2008

JAMES...


"...The Less" you are presumed to be;
Much grace would have been needed to hold
Such a title; yet none the less you
Were endowed with apostolic authority
To say: "Brethren, listen to me..."



But was it that James?

Sunday, 19 October 2008

MATTHEW

Like me, a taxman with a desire
To write well: even to write
Well of Christ. Perhaps I should
Emulate your total abandon
Of a whole way of life
To keep close to your Master's heels.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

THOMAS


It being easier to criticise
Than to praise you are famed
As Doubting Thomas; but
To me, who has also doubted,
This comfort comes ‑ you
First expressed the appreciation
Of Jesus, "My Lord and my the God".

Friday, 17 October 2008

BARTHOLOMEW

No words are known:
No deeds written.
But, one of the eleven,
You supported Peter;
And your name will grace
The City's foundation, one of
The Twelve Apostles of the Lamb.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

PHILIP


Sufficiency was your theme:
Whether the body's need for loaves
And fishes or more spiritual need,
"Show us the Father". From this
Arose your prompt word
To Nathaniel, "Come and see..."
One sufficient for soul or body.

Monday, 13 October 2008

JOHN


Consciously the disciple whom Jesus
Loved, you followed:
For you had leaned on Him
And you, in that nearness, had
Enquired: these features displayed
Such as continue to the end.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

JAMES


Was the training ‑ one
Of the select: taken to the house
Of Jairus, the mountain of glory,
The garden of distress ‑ squandered
On the point of Herod's sword?
No ‑ you had thus formed in
Perfection heaven required.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

ANDREW


A fisherman's life ‑ finding:
Messias found, your thought
Was first to find your brother
‑ Earliest fisher of men.
And the boy with loaves and fishes
You discovered: may I have such
Divine serendipity!

Friday, 10 October 2008

PETER


First, Peter ‑ not only
First to speak, wisely
Or not, first to act
Most often rashly ‑ you
Were selected, the first
Apostle to see Christ
Risen; the first preacher
In the fresh era; the first
To invade the Gentile earth

Thursday, 9 October 2008

THOU ART FAIRER THAN THE SONS OF MEN


Lord, Thy praise exceedeth tongue or pen:
From our hearts an anthem swelleth
To the One whose grace excelleth ‑
Thou art fairer than the sons of men!

Thou art First and Last and the Amen:
Thou art throned in perfect fitness
Who wast here the faithful Witness ‑
Thou art fairer than the sons of men!

All Thou art transcendeth human ken
Thus Thy grace and glory raises
Worship, adoration, praises ‑
Thou art fairer than the sons of men!



Try singing it to, "Till we meet again"!

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

VARIATIONS C


i

And how did Abel know how
To offer righteously? How did Enoch understand
How to please God? How did Abraham see
Christ's day? Or how did Moses judge
What was the reproach of Christ? Faith
Was their secret: by it they looked forward to
Christ, Leader and Completer of Faith.

ii

Whence is the joy that stirs these people's lives
As if a harvest had filled them with delight?
What power has risen to obviate decline
And all the forces that caused them to divide?
Those walking in the darkness have seen a light;
Those dwelling in death's shadow have seen one shine.

iii

After the time of concealment,
Necessary famine, or gloom,
His delight was to let them know
Himself, his love and his supplies:
Greater than all of secret dreams
These were what designated him
As the Revealer of Secrets.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

VARIATIONS B


i

Pullulations of plants, actions
Of animals,expenditure
Of energy ‑ all source themselves
On one centre of light and heat:
Hyssop and cedar, ant and man
Sustained in sap or blood, flowing
Because of one emanation.

ii

Thus all the people found a man:
"Go to Joseph" was the king's counsel.
The great administration flowed
From the granaries his wisdom had built.
By this foresight, and this organisation,
He acquired the name "Sustainer of Life".

iii

The Originator of Life having been killed
Out of that death whose power could not hold Him
Issues the life we dwell in now as His.
Death has no claim on those who are His kin;
The darkest tomb His victory has lit;
He holds death's keys and leads us out to bliss.

Monday, 6 October 2008

VARIATIONS A


i
He found a man in whom his heart could trust
Who would accomplish each detail of the work;
Joseph was he to whom all men could turn ‑
He could supply the answer to their wants;
And so he named him as Saviour of the World.

ii
As made perfect through suffering,
Suitable in every detail,
Holy, harmless and undefiled,
Tested and tempted in all things,
He has encountered the darkness,
The Leader of our Salvation.

iii
See, it sinks in red splendour,
Invading the sovereignty of darkness;
See, it departs into the winter,
Leaving earth in its barrenness.
It comes, the morning looms,
Night's shroud is torn;
It comes, the summer brims,
Saved by its healing power.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

PRESENT LOVE


If love had led Him to the grave
For those whom He desired to save
Love leads Him as a risen Man
To serve in every way He can.
If one is grieving, in distress,
He comes to comfort - and to bless;
If one denied the Lord before
He comes to cherish and restore;
If some turn from Jerusalem
He goes their way to shepherd them.
But more, through all that He has wrought,
He comes with secrets of God’s thought,
Comes to the circle of His own
That there He should be freshly known.

Friday, 3 October 2008

VINES


A vine was before me,
Said the saint.
It budded and it blossomed,
Its clusters ripened into grapes
And the fulness of the vintage
Was all for God.

I went down into the garden,
Said the Bridegroom,
To see if the vine budded,
If there was something
Fresh, in response to Myself.

Should I leave my new wine,
Said the saint,
Which cheers God and man,
The product of His sunshine,
His husbandry and pruning?

I will go out and savour,
Said the Bridegroom,
Of the clusters of the vine
And the best of the wine...

That floweth straight,
Said the bride,

To my Beloved.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

THE HOUSE OF GOD


For the support of such a grand creation
As God's own house only one Rock is sure
To uphold all God's structure and endure
Attacks and storms ‑ and Christ is that foundation.

There is one glorious pattern which alone
Can gratify God's heart ‑ not a mere plan
From which to measure, but the glorious Man
Who pleased God well: Christ is that Corner Stone.

As patterned on that Man we can be built
As living stones each into his own place,
According to the riches of God's grace,
Freed from the stain and penalty of guilt.

The work continues. Soon God will present
His masterpiece ‑ yet we already know
Enjoyment of it ‑ and that work will show
The Headstone, Christ, its finest ornament!

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

VESSEL


He left this to no prentice hand ‑
The Master toiled, day upon day
Himself. Ages ago he planned
This vessel. See the splendid way

The light reflects ‑ that's since the ore
Was purified by Him. He used
Purification none before
Could have applied to it. He mused

On how the metal worked and beat,
Harshly, we thought, the basic form;
We wondered, seeing it complete,
Already structured to conform

To what was in his mind. But next
He tapped a gentler quicker rate
Till no one else saw how his text
Varied from it. But, consummate

In craftsmanship, unsatisfied,
He saw an imperfection here
Or there and deftly reapplied
His hammer. He would persevere

For hours. Till after beating one
Last perfect stroke he gave a deep
Contented sigh ‑ "The work is done:
This is a vessel I will keep."

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

THE ROCK VII

Oil exudes; sucking from the Rock
Let us exploit what God provides
From It to employ our hearts in praise
As anointed servants; let light shine
From us who walk in the Spirit's power
To express God's goodness in voice
And ways. Employ priests lips,
Priest's members in all our days.
From our Rock towards our God loose
Rejoicing, admiration, adoration, love!


Thursday, 11 September 2008

THE ROCK VI

Fruits flourish; the tree sprouts
By the pure spring whose attributes derive
From its source, the struck Rock; psalms
Erupt from hearts; bruiting with joy
Clear compositions. The Spirit's flow
Contributes the music. By still waters
The bright flock, rested in safety,
Imbibes what distributes health,
Fresh responses. Through water free
From pollution or harm the purity wells.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

THE ROCK V

So long deplored, the old structure
Lies shattered, not to be restored
Nor rebuilt. Where can I build? The Rock
Rejected once, now adored, constitutes
The only Foundation. Here God has worked ‑
This sure place. Knock and chisel
The stones till their curbed forms afford
Virtue of the bed‑rock; ignore no fault
But relish quality, a good hoard
In each exploring consonances of Christ.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

THE ROCK IV

From my new stance, seeking sweetness
For enhancement of fresh modes of love,
Joy to my countenance, power to make me
Dance, where should I go? The Rock,
Sublime answer to each circumstance,
Seemed to unlock ‑ the honey poured.
No time or chance will now meet me
For which there is no solution: Christ ‑
For me to gather, His undeviance,
His loveliness, my model, my way of advance.

Friday, 5 September 2008

THE ROCK III

After these ways and such protection
Rescued by mercy and by God's grace,
Saved, sustained and nobly elevated.
From being cock of my own dunghill,
Set among nobles, one stone
In its place; with a princely people.
These feet once grazed now prancing,
Hinds feet, firm on the Rock.
What power to convey a lofty degree:
Co‑heirs with the pre‑eminent Man!

Thursday, 4 September 2008

THE ROCK II

But where to hide? Where I ventured
Storms mock and shafts of lightning
Deride meagre strivings. That Sinai
Cannot provide a shelter. Yet truth
Is my only Rock and Refuge:
Oh grace and truth deploys
The cleft in which, safe, I abide;
Mercy was guide up to this haven.
Blood poured, a saving tide
From the stricken side of the Son of God.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

THE ROCK I

Free to be bound for where I willed
I tramped; by‑ways, cross‑paths, bent
My footsteps; what turned my campaign?
What stumbling‑block hampered me;
What damped? No end appeared,
However long my feet stamped
Or my muscles struggled. With no lamp
To lead, nothing in which to confide,
What tampered with my will? Justice, that Rock,
Broke me, blocked me, drove me from my own way.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

ABUNDANCE


Abundant mercy from on high
Has answered all my need:
In me there is no reason why
A righteous God should justify,
No other cause to plead.
Before the throne of God I fall
And for abundant mercy call!

Abundant grace of Christ on high
Has answered my desire;
The grace that made my Saviour die
Has lifted me and brought me nigh
With Christ as my attire;
Within this elevated place
I glory in abundant grace.

Abundant love of God on high
Exceeds desire or thought;
For God delights to dignify
And by His Spirit glorify
The sons whom Christ has brought;
I praise the God who will display
Abundant love eternally.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Sunday, 31 August 2008

RESPONSE


As beneficiaries of grace
Enrolled in the illustrious ranks
Of those who come before Thy face,
Our Father, we give thanks.

Initiates of love's design,
Acted upon in love's great ways,
Robed and secured in love divine,
Father, we give Thee praise.

As welcome to Thy residence
And liberated to explore
The splendours of its ambience,
Our Father, we adore.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

COMING ONE

COMING ONE

(Mary)
A paean,
Eruption of soul and spirit,
Touching the King.

(Zacharias)
Bursting from silence
I prophesy the Coming One,
The Day Spring.

(Joseph)
Stolid, a craftsman, why
Choose me as trustee of
The Holy Thing?

(Magi)
Though the weather cuts
And stones abrade,
Nettles and thorns sting

We glory in our pilgrimage
More than in ease
Or governing

Glad to be encumbered ‑
Gold, frankincense and myrrh ‑
By gifts we bring.

(Shepherd)
More than an angel
Redeemed, directed, lightened,
I now can sing.

Friday, 29 August 2008

CREATION

CREATION

You know the mountains cragged with snow
And all the grandeurs which pervade them?
I know
The One who made them.

You know the tender flowers which grow
Through suns and winds which bloom and fade them?
I know
The One who made them.

You know the mighty rivers flow
Where human works cannot evade them?
I know
The One who made them.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

SOUNDS


Seeing a man
Whose hearing and speech were bound
Jesus groaned.

Beside the grave of Lazarus,
Pained by the power of death on human lives,
He groaned in spirit.

Over Jerusalem,
His loved city, audibly,
He wept.

Upon the cross,
Before He died, He uttered
A loud cry.

Into His own,
A raised, risen Man,
He breathed.

We await
His coming, His triumphant
Shout!

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

WITNESSES


The cross of Christ, on which He bore
The sins of all who own His claim,
Displays that God, for evermore,
Has finished with the man of shame
And shows the fulness of God's grace
Which has secured our heavenly place.

The blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son,
Propitiation for all sin,
Is witness that the work is done
Which makes us free to come within
The presence of a holy God
To know His love; to give Him laud.

The water from His smitten side
Is witness that His work's complete;
And in each mind that work applied
Ensures for us this world's defeat,
For we may be, while here below,
Made clean, by virtue of that flow.

Monday, 25 August 2008

BUILDING


He's a perfectionist, Uzziel:
Smooth stone clings to smooth stone,
Jointed together. He works slowly
Bringing to masonry
The goldsmith's carefulness.

You can smell it on his clothes,
He is not used to the dust of building,
Yet he works stolidly,
Hananiah the perfumer.
His muscles ache but grow firmer.

Strange to see Rephaiah,
Ruler of half Jerusalem,
Out of his council robes,
Grubbing among the rubble,
Hammer and chisel in hand.

With his house facing the danger
‑Storms and stones and arrows‑
Jedaiah (his wife and children
Cowering in the yard)
Has the greatest incentive to labour:
He builds for strength, not beauty.

I know little of Hattush.
He is a reticent man.
He structured this rampart alone.

Malchijah was not content
‑His own patch established‑
To lounge, watching his fellows
Still struggling at their tasks.
His energy and time
He spent on this wall and tower:
He had his friend Hasshub to help.

Look at those girls!
Shallum, the other ruler,
Having no son
Has his daughters labouring for him,
Measuring, chiselling, carrying:
They are forming a sturdy bulwark.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

OH WHAT WILL IT BE TO SEE JESUS


Oh what will it be to see Jesus
The Man who enraptures my heart?
I'll gaze on His face
And drink in His grace
And know I will never depart.

In mercy and grace He has saved me
Enduring both darkness and pain;
In sorrow and loss
He died on the cross
That I might have pleasure and gain.

He gives me the sense of His presence
And cheers me with touches of love
But soon it will be
With joy I will see
My Saviour as with Him above.

Oh what will it be to see Jesus
And gaze on His face evermore
To find in that sight
Eternal delight:
To worship, admire and adore!

Saturday, 23 August 2008

SOLDIER


By my feet my hammer;

At my side my spear;

Over me blood and water;

In my hand a treasure ‑
A seamless garment.

Friday, 22 August 2008

HYMN


Father, Thy glory radiating out
Around the vast creation Thou hast planned
Bows us as in its splendid rays we stand;
Removes from us unfaithfulness and doubt.

Only through Jesus can we enter in:
But for His work we would be lost in night.
Now through His work we too are His delight;
The sinless One removed, for Thee, our sin.

In Thine own nature Thou art ever love;
Thou art revealed in Christ, Thy well‑loved Son.
Only as in the worth of that blest One
May we be brought before Thyself above.

To Thee belongs the worship of our heart
For the magnificence of all Thou dost;
Now, to Thy glory, sons, a loving host
Respond for all Thy works and all Thou art.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

MARY

MARY

She, in her own flesh,
Enfolded the holy thing
Awaiting its birth.

Motherly, she swathed
The Child, lovely to God,
In the warm swaddling bands.

More treasured that gold
She wrapped in her mind
Words, prophecies, actions.

Though she was not among those,
Brother and sister and mother,
Embracing Him in their circuit,

His time come
She stood beside the cross,
The sword entering her soul.

She saw the dank tomb
Enclosing in harsh rock
The linen‑swaddled body.

Proof of His glorified life
Soon she forever enshrines
The Holy Spirit of God.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

MY BUILDING


With silver, precious stones, and gold
I built a delicate, costly tower;
Chryselephantine work extolled
My Master, to its utmost power ‑
But storms arose ‑ it would not stand
For it was founded upon sand.

Again ‑ but now on rock ‑ I built
An edifice designed to swell
The praise of Him who bore my guilt;
I thought my work had progressed well
But fire demolished all I saw
‑ Since it was wood and grass and straw.

Lord, let me build on Thee alone
According to Thy heavenly plan
And let me be a living stone
Solely for Thee, and not for man;
And if the glory all is Thine
The happiness and peace are mine.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

CENTRES



Physicists say the atom
Comprises a nucleus
Surrounded by electrons
Perpetually gyrating,
Minus attracted by plus.

And biologists aver
A nucleus is the germ
Of even the smallest cell ‑
Each part derives from its genes
In structure, function and health.

Astronomers have revealed
A system thirled to the sun
Where planets and comets wheel,
Faster as they are nearer,
As attracted by its bulk.

I also need a centre
To attract my wandering,
Concentrate my endeavour,
Structure me, forge me newly
And, warming me, make me live.

What ideology can
Pivot my life? What weltgeist
Can guide me? None. But one Man
Is able and willing. I
Cling to my Lord Jesus Christ.

Monday, 18 August 2008

THE BRIDE


The Father purposed there should be a bride
As counterpart for His beloved Son.
Soon Christ will have the assembly by His side
As fruit of what God’s counsels had begun.

The Spirit came and works to bring the bride
Into the presence of the heavenly Man;
He decks with treasures God loved to provide
To suit her now according to God’s plan.

The cost was Christ’s - for her He gave His life
Because He knew the joy that lay before;
Faithfully now she acts as comely wife
And waits to be beside Him evermore.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

VERSE

All that we have, we have in Jesus:
Our access is through Him alone.
He bore ours sins and condemnation,
But now He’s on the Father’s throne.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

EFFECTS

The Saviour took the sinner’s place;
And the effect, unmingled grace
Now freely flowing forth.

God shared with Him the greatest height:
And the effect, the Spirit’s might
Now freely flowing forth.

Christ sent the Spirit from above;
And the effect in hearts, God’s love
Now freely flowing forth.

God sees the end of all His ways;
And the effect, eternal praise
Now freely flowing forth.

Monday, 11 August 2008

HIM WHO ACTS IN GRACE

Grace does what it wills
in line with the nature of
Him who acts in grace.

Trace all your blessing
to the abundant love of
Him who acts in grace.

Base you assurance
on the unchangingness of
Him who acts in grace.

Place all your future
in the unfailing hands of
Him who acts in grace.

Face all that befalls
confident in the care of
Him who acts in grace.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

CLOTHING


Marred by rebellion, which God loathed,
And cast out by their sin
Adam and Eve still go out clothed
By God in coats of skin.
So though we all display sin’s taint
By habit and by birth
We may go forth without restraint
Clothed in the Saviour’s worth.

The younger son was steeped in wrongs
God could not but detest -
The Father shows where he belongs
And clothes him in His best.
And thus repentant sinners find,
Though consciously undone,
God’s every act towards them is kind -
He clothes them in His Son.

Though merely human goodness drags
The priest’s clothes in the mire
God substitutes for filthy rags
His festival attire -
Outwith the range of Satan’s barb
We stand before God’s face
In pure and splendid priestly garb
Made suitable through grace.

The elders sit around the throne
Each clothed in robes of white,
Secured by God to be His own
And dwell with Him in light:
All thought of variation past
Through Christ they are complete;
They bow before the throne and cast
Their crowns before His feet.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

TRIUMPH


Oh families of Seth
Forsake weak, mortal man;
Forsake the shades of night;
Come to the greatest light
Since sin's career began -
The Lord is out of death!

He suffered to atone
And bore the weight of sin;
He entered into death
And yielded up His breath.
He rose; He entered in -
The Lord is on the throne!

Though patriarchs remain
Within the graves of Heth
Christ watches every place
Which He will breach through grace:
The One who conquered death -
The Lord - will come again.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

CHRISTINA ROSSETTI


If she had stood
Like a blasted tree
By the shore of the shivering sea

How had she become
Like an apple tree
Whose boughs are bent with summer fruit?

She had learnt
To swerve no more beneath the knife;

To welcome One Wiser as
He chose to lop
Branch after branch.

More fruit bodied
In its own ripe season.

Monday, 4 August 2008

EBED-MELECH


I’ll tell you of a happening
When Zedekiah was the king:

God sent His prophet to condemn
The wicked in Jerusalem,

While just outside the city gate
They saw the Babylonians wait.

That army was God’s punishment
For sinners who would not repent

And disobeyed when called upon
To serve the king of Babylon

Which was what Jeremiah taught
When he explained Jehovah’s thought.

The wicked men who hated it
Put Jeremiah in a pit.

The prophet thought; “This place is dire -
I’m sinking down into the mire!”

But while he found his prospects dim
His God was looking after him.

Now Ebed-Melech was the man
Whom God selected for His plan.

He went to see the king and said,
“If he’s left there he’ll soon be dead!”

The king replied, “Without a doubt
You must pull Jeremiah out”.

The Ethiopian found some rope
And soon gave Jeremiah hope.

“Just put some rags beneath each arm
So that the ropes will do no harm.”

Then Ebed-Melech and his friends
All started pulling at the ends.

Soon he was rescued, safe and sound:
He gladly stood on solid ground.

Thus Ebed-Melech pleased the Lord
Who shielded him against the sword.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

"CUTTING IN A STRAIGHT LINE"


"Practice, yes ‑ but practice only
May be repetition of error; understanding
Is required; hand, elbow and shoulder
Must be and must remain in line.
If the hand wavers the surface cut
May be straight but the done work
Will reveal the wavering line. And the mind
Must exclude all else, concentrate
On its one objective, its single achievement."

Saturday, 2 August 2008

NOW HE LIVETH


Once the Saviour suffered for us,
Scorned, rejected and denied;
For our peace and our redemption
Then upon the cross He died;
Now He liveth
Raised, ascended, glorified.

With His work for God accomplished
Christ is on the Father's throne
Who was once in grace and mercy
Here upon the earth unknown
Now He liveth
Giving impulse to His own.

When upon the earth He succoured
Men, the poorest and the least,
All the power of heaven's glory
Could not fully be released;
Now He liveth
Bearing us as heavenly Priest.

Once the Holy Spirit hovered
Sensitive to earth's constraints
But because Christ's cross and glory
Overwhelmed all sin's restraints
Now He liveth
In true companies of saints.

From the glory Christ delighted
To deliver to His own
An occasion of remembrance
Centred in Himself alone:
Now He liveth
Making His affections known.


Written over the course of a three-day meeting.

Friday, 1 August 2008

PERFECTION


Perfection towards God - Jesus portrayed,
The root and fruit, obedience and praise;
Perfection towards man - He would amaze
Men by the wealth of blessing He displayed;
Perfection towards duties - so He made
Arrangements for His mother’s coming days;
Perfection towards Himself - He in His ways
Showed how a saint of God should be arrayed.

And all was evenness, as when a tree
In the best light, and ideal soil grows round,
Presenting the same look at every side;
But He was like this though the soil might be
Dry, and although men’s roughness might surround.
In God alone, in rest, He could confide.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

SMITH

In red intensity of heat
Sweat pouring in great drops
Among the hiss of steam
I myself forged these nails,
Rough, rugged, brutal.

With my consummate skill
Toiling before the furnace
I formed this spearhead,
Sharp, jagged, brutal.

This iron will savour flesh
To liberate rare blood
And loose lustrant water.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

WEAVER


A garment of plain pattern,
Its texture of staunch twill,
Has been formed on my loom:

Lines drawn with perfect tension
‑ And if the weft is dark
Warp is bright gold.

No complex design
But an inherent rich structure ‑
The whole garment seamless.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

POTTER

All my life's labour
I invested in that field.

Years spent forming the stiff clay
And the vessels so often marred.

Now for my life's work they give
Thirty pieces of silver.

A goodly price that I was valued at!

Monday, 28 July 2008

CARPENTER


Roman, take your gibbet ‑
Most harsh task to my tools
Since I came from my father.

Joining the bars together
I nailed my hand.

Carving the earthward point,
I scarred my side.

Smoothing, my chisel dropped,
Piercing my feet.

Roman, ask no more crosses:
This will be enough.