FORMED INTO FLESH Itâ€™s Bethlehem, Time and Again
Every step in the Perambulation of faith; Every acquisition of the Beggar's hope; From out of The miry clay; From first blush Of the Living Christ Within; To heroic outreach Of charitable heart; To donning of the vestments Of one gift In the Spirit After another; 1
C. Doug Blair, 2012
To suffering His Reproach with dignity, At the hand of any Serf of darkness, Or disgruntled Fellow-traveler; To hearing His Ingenious guidance And uplift In the silence; To uttering words Of rescue And reassurance Beyond our ken; To breathing Graciously one's last At the hairpin Turn in the road; And viewing a limitless Green and Glory. Will be a Bethlehem. Deposit of God. Plain and simple, Free and sure. Be it unto me. (Painting by Ron Wilson)
The Quiet Man
He came to do his Fatherâ€™s will, This quiet man of Nazareth; At thirty years he pondered still The mission that would mean his death.
A carpenter of low estate, The quiet man lay down his tools And turned to his appointed fate To ransom sinners Satan rules. The quiet man at Jordan’s flow, Approached the holy prophet John For baptism, ere God would show The Lamb the Dove would rest upon. In wilderness, fasting in prayer, The quiet man withstood the test Of Satan’s smooth seductions there, Convinced this world was not God’s best. In Galilee he met the cries Of every pressing human need; And healed their hurts, their hearts and eyes. This quiet man of bless’ed creed. On holy mount with God’s envoys, Enwrapped in glory from above, The quiet man chose servant’s joys, Descending to the vale in love. Descending, condescending, yes, To save and heal the sin-possessed; To preach a Kingdom truly blessed, This quiet man of God obsessed. The quiet man, a prey to powers, With sweat like blood through all his pores, Prayed strengthening in dark night hours: “Oh Father, not my will but yours.” Mid jeering crowds as nail wounds screamed, The quiet man hung from a cross As sin, dismissed from God he seemed, Yet faithful, would not suffer loss.
Into the very bowels of hell Where Satan ruled with cruel delight; The quiet man heard deathâ€™s death-knell As God pronounced him just and right. Descending, condescending, done! For sin he bled and did atone. For life he battled death alone, This quiet man sent from Godâ€™s throne. His body rested in the tomb Until the Easter morning light, When slipping off the sheets of doom, The quiet man arose from night. Upon the Mount of Olivet, Alive again, by saints adored, And pledging Spirit comfort yet; The quiet man ascended Lord. Oh there is yet another morn Which angels will announce with pride, With trumpet calls for those twice-born; The quiet man shall claim His Bride!
Unexpected Mud Bath
(With thanks to Ruth Bell Graham and and her stories and poems of redemption in Prodigals and Those Who Love Them) The clergyman was a "shanty man" working among common sorts as a stevedore or "docker" at the docks of London. His apartment was humble. The wages sparse. But the opportunities were many to get to work beside unsaved men in difficult circumstances, to gain their trust and eventually
offer some light. One day in a hurried gangplank effort he was pushing a wheelbarrow of product onto a ship when a couple of playful workmates rocked the plank. Man and cargo fell into the low-tide Thames mud. Humiliated and looking for a way out of embarrassment, he sensed an inner urging: "This is your opportunity. Just laugh. Show them Jesus" The hand which reached down to pull him up out of the mud belonged to an uncommon stevedore. Dignified in speech. Confident in gaze. There was a story here. The missionary offered a simple meal back at his apartment. Confidence and warmth grew during the evening and the two new friends agreed to "trade stories". The missionary gave a brief account as above The other told a story of a previous life as distinguished physician and fortunate family man brought low by alcohol. His practice suffered. His wife became exasperated. He left unable to shake off the addiction. Providence took him to America, Canada, strange jobs, and then back to London to the current situation. That evening's introduction initiated a rich friendship, an unlocking of the promises of scripture, a commitment to Christ, a new and gratifying position in a pharmaceuticals warehouse, an end of the bottle and gradually a family reunion. Initially the doctor's wife deferred because the two daughters faced challenging hospital examinations upon which their future calling depended. But the happy day did come. The physician was restored to a prominent position of service and he took special delight in counselling young men in Christian life. Once on a trip to government offices, our missionary shanty man was approached by a young civil servant who asked if he knew Dr So-and-So. Replying in the affirmative, the elder learned that this young man had been helped through a life crisis by the Doctor. The Doctor whose life had been totally restored with the help of a Christian man whom he met in the mud.
(Adapted from Finding Men for Christ by George Dempster)
Manasseh, Bad Apple
Hezekiah had exercised a righteous influence over Judah. He had removed idolatrous worship. He had boldly resisted the threats of the mighty King of Assyria, Sennacherib, outside his walls. He had sought the input of the prophet Isaiah on many important issues. He had prayed his way through a life-threatening illness. One of the mighty prayers of the Old Testament is his. (Isaiah 37:15-29) But his son was another matter. Doubtless he had seen Manasseh rolling his eyes at traditional worship and looking with interest at the idols and lasciviousness of the neighbouring nations. Doubtless Hezekiah had taken his son's tendencies before the Lord in ernest prayer. But the old King died without concrete evidence that his prayers were being answered. The new king in time totally reversed the measures of his father. Bringing in an abominable variety of idols, temple prostitution, spiritualism, child sacrifice, desecration of the house of God (installing a monument to the Queen of Heaven). But God would not allow this to continue. Read the account in 2 Chronicles 33: 10And the LORD spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken. 11Wherefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. 12And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, 13And prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his
supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he was God. 14Now after this he built a wall without the city of David, on the west side of Gihon, in the valley, even to the entering in at the fish gate, and compassed about Ophel, and raised it up a very great height, and put captains of war in all the fenced cities of Judah. 15And he took away the strange gods, and the idol out of the house of the LORD, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of the LORD, and in Jerusalem, and cast them out of the city. 16And he repaired the altar of the LORD, and sacrificed thereon peace offerings and thank offerings, and commanded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel. Are you praying for the reform of a child, a spouse, a neighbour, a friend, a civic leader? Remember the effectual fervent prayers of Hezekiah and the wicked son brought back home. The reversal of heart in this story almost defies belief!
Show Us the Father
Have I been so long with you, Yet you still misunderstand? In the simple walks When I listened And you went on so. In the gazing reverently Together at sunset. In the common meal Which went down so well 'Midst laughter and poking. In the common cup. 7
The washings of hand And conscience. Have you not seen me Bless the wayfaring man, The ailing child, The fretful mother With her last farthing? Chastise the hypocrite? Warn the self-assured? Heard me glean wisdom From the fields, the flocks, The fishnets, the pearl merchant? In all, I have heard from my Father; Seen my Father's pointing hand; Represented my Father. It is just that simple, That fresh, daily. I can be, I can say None other. Come unto me. Come unto Him. Brothers.
Stay on Train for Entire Trip John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. A great deal has been said about "One-Way Jesus". This refers to the second part of the passage. But let us look now at the former part. I am the Way - If you watch how I live, move and operate you will have the key to successful living. Be humble, be helpful, be a good listener, be found
in places of need, be forgiving, be full of good and reverent words about the Heavenly Father, be much in prayer. I am the Truth - Gain the lessons from what I have said. Learn my ethic. Meditate on eternal reward and consequence. Place yourself in my parables. Heed my prophetic utterances. This will require a serious look at Matthew chapters 5, 6, 7, 13, 24 and 25. Also Luke chapters 10, 15 and 22. I am the Life - I have something to give to you for the simple asking. It is not a creed or a subtle urging. It is rather the very life residing in me. It is meant to be distributed. It is the focus of my mission. Read John 15 several times (the Vine) and receive the revelation of impartation of my life's flow. This can be yours. Are you prepared to take the whole Gospel trip? Do not get off at the first station with the walk, or the second station with the talk. Stay on board. Realize your need. Go for the life. That Christ be formed in you. And then distributed to the lost.
His Smile in Me Yet it was well, and Thou hast said in season As is the Master shall the servant be: Let me not subtly slide into the treason, Seeking an honour which they gave not Thee. Never at even, pillowed on a pleasure, Sleep with the wings of aspiration furled, Hide the last mite of the forbidden treasure, Keep for my joys a world within the world. He as He wills shall solder and shall sunder, Slay in a day and quicken in an hour, Tune Him a chorus from the Sons of Thunder, Forge and transform my passion into power.
Ay, for this Paul, a scorn and a reviling, Weak as you know him and the wretch you see, Even in these eyes shall ye behold Him smiling, Strength in infirmities and Christ in me. (Oswald Chambers, So Send I You)
Look still for better yet. However good the way has been, However bright the paths. No crop has failed. Your sun still warms. You wonder, can it last? Look still for better yet. Whatever dark night robs your sleep, Whatever chills the bone. The pains still come. They seem your lot. Unseen, unheard, alone. Look still for better yet. The faith stands true; the promise sure; And Beulah Land is ours. With joy for all; Reversed, the Fall. And thorns replaced with flowers. Look still for better yet. 10