Underdogs Reach the High Plateau Doug Blair, Waterloo, 2013
Abel Yet Speaketh This is the spot The grass, the dust Where Brother loosed his rage And broke my cord And set me free From time and place and age. He could not see The efficacy Of blood poured out for sin. He thought it took The best of braun And skilful smarts to win. He missed the plan Set out for man To come to peace with God. Atonement, friends All self-help ends Submit to Mercy's prod! I wish Cain knew, Had his breakthrough.
I, all his hate forgive. He wanders yet In sad regret Repent! Lost heart and live!
An offering for the Lord, they said My garden full in prime The rains have blessed the Gourds and vines And all this produce MINE. I've given it my best you know And surely God will cheer And grant His favour, laud and boast On what Cain managed here. My brother watches sheep all day With little sweat or skill And when they fatten, plump and white He leads them to the kill. A foolish pass-time I conclude No industry or toil. And will this be his offering? It makes a bloke's blood boil! Yes Abel you're a waste I say, on some old fable's spin. That God will only look to blood To cover mortal sin To gain an audience in His courts And sense with joy His smile. So Brother, sit and think on sheep As I sweat all the while. (Hebrews 11:4)
I would see him at three thirty On the street beneath my flat. Kids would call him strange and dirty Like a mouse plagued by stray cats. And with head down for the homing, He would breeze by all the jeers And the shoves that might be coming. (He looked older than his years.) And the three or four who trailed him Were a foul and yowling lot. Would his fists and fire still fail him? He was tall, and they were not. He was dressed in robe and scull cap And some hair curled by the jaws. And his hope, to avoid mishap; Like his people, like their laws. But this time I held the answer, Three strong nephews down the street. And they knew the ones to watch for And the pounding was so sweet. But the lad just stood there quiet, Giving out a soft complaint. â€œFriends, thereâ€™s no need here for riot.
Nasty Christians Need to Learn
I shouldn't need to change you I shouldn't need to pound Perhaps you've been mistreated And left with hurts profound. Perhaps you met a Christian Who cut you to the core Or left you feeling dirty And second-rate for sure. My job is not the doctrine To cram into your heart. My job is dauntless loving That sets His Church apart. The kind that walked the seaside And bid the hurting near The kind that healed the wounded And took away death's fear. He didn't need agreement He didn't need to win He simply showed a kindness That made men loathe their sin. And He is all my pattern And He is all my pride. And He is waiting near you To put His Love inside.
There Is A Smell
2 Corinthians 2: 15 For
we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:
the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? There is a smell about us. It almost defies explanation. I can remember an old saint in an assembly of long ago speaking of a young man in leadership, “When I get near him I can smell Jesus, unmistakeable, constant, sweet. He is a clean man, sold out to the Master. He will see much of suffering and of victory in this world.” Conversely you will experience times when your plain-faced, unsophisticated presence will bring out sarcasm and hostility, for no logical reason. Try as you might there is no warming up to that person. You have a stench; but understand that it is the presence of Christ in you by His Spirit that is bringing on the awkwardness. Pray for that person. His/her soul is in trouble. Now I am not saying that the believer is always in the right, or that the unchurched will always be nasty. There can still be a lot of civility, generosity and courtesy in the human spirit. But that spirit is a sad resemblance of what it once was. The reason of course is sin, lust and the pride of life; a wordly spirit in and of itself, and that spirit wars with Christ; calls Him a liar and a criminal; hangs Him upon a cross. There are many in the Church who will teach that with salvation and progress in the life of faith we are becoming sweeter and sweeter witnesses who will charm people into the Kingdom by our “loveliness”. This is poor preparation for what has been described above.
Still standing. Beside the main street. Feeling the pulse Of spring rains, The crown of summer, The testing pull Of autumn storms. Children explore My limbs and shelter. Adventurers pass, Out to new possibilities. Some, retracing steps In homeward reunion Or retreat. Presently a strange din; One stalwart man And His entourage. Onlookers press in,
Curious and hopeful. What’s this? Someone scrambles up, Tugs my extremities, Scrapes my bark, Settles, Balancing to watch. Much like the children. (Generations of them.) I serve their purpose. I serve his purpose. Giving the better view. And the Master looks up, My Maker. Issuing the call: “Zacchaeus, come down. I will come to your house.”
The stocks now for him! Our patience grows dim His rant in the streets can't go on He reads from the Psalms And comments on John His crude sermonettes are so wrong. Enough of kind tact It's time now to act A public disgrace is the cure. In hot mid-day sun The folks need their fun They'll bring rotten fruit That's for sure. He must heed the form The Holy Day norm And come to the Church Properly. But out in the square In mid-week fresh air He's proving a queer oddity! I'm charged with the peace His voice now must cease The rod must be painful And grim. Lord knows, I've been fair He seems not to care. And so, troops, The stocks now for him! Psalm 107: 2
Simon of Cyrene
I could scarce believe my ears As the Roman soldier said: â€œYou there, stranger, lift that cross, Follow Jesus, good as dead.â€? I had missed the troubled crowd, Having just come into town.
Now I pressed beneath the load, Joined to him who wore a crown. All around humanity, Yet my thoughts were fixed on him. Why the back ripped to the bone? Why the cruel and thorny brim? How he struggled to ascend! How he laboured for his breath! Yet I sensed his body strove T’ward the hill marked for his death. It became a strange desire To relieve his tortured frame; To receive the brunt of burden, But to go on just the same. I was reckoning in me A compassion yet unknown, While he nobly took the taunts: “Where’s your kingdom? Where’s your throne?” Momentarily we stopped To console dear grieving friends. In his voice was total calm, Real concern for their lives’ ends. Then, too soon, my privilege passed. We had come to Calvary. “Thank you friend,” he gazed at me, Then they nailed him to the tree! Oh, the truth welled up in me! Could the blinded mob not see? Here their sin’s death penalty. Here the Crux of Destiny. In the man from Galilee. In my friend who hung for me. There were two who shared his plight, Robbers, bearing each his cross. One would hail him Lord of Light. One would chose eternal loss. And such love etched on his face
For the dogs who pierced and nailed. And a priestly prayer for grace, And a final psalm exhaled. At his death the skies were dark And the crowd stood hushed and awed. â€˜Neath the profile still and stark, â€˜Neath the battered Son of God. And a soldier lowered his head With a sense of grief and shame; For the gentle one now dead, For the folk who were to blame. And another thrust him through With a spear to his right side; Though already we all knew That the Holy One had died. And a woman beat her breast As she looked upon her son. And her sobs held one request, Just what evil had he done? How was I then to expect That in three days news would ring Of the tombstone rolled away? Of the resurrected King! But his converts would explain That for months the rabbi said, That Messiah must be slain And then risen from the dead. So, I give to you my joy. From my sin I am set free! And my praise I will employ For the one who died for me: Simon, stranger, lift that cross. Follow Jesus good as dead. I will follow him forever, Living for my Lord instead. GALATIANS 2: 20
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Power in Humility
The Vicar of Christ, the man in the Seat of Peter, the Pope had made special allowances for an audience with Francis of Assisi. He was curious to examine this poor monk and to test his heart. Walking some distance ahead of the retinue, the two passed by an endless succession of statues, fine art, ornaments, glass-works, frescoes and opulent construction. The Pope turned to Francis at one point with a half-smile and said, "So, I guess that it can no longer be said of us that silver and gold have we none." (Acts 3: 1-10) "No, Your Eminence," Francis replied,"neither can you say, in the name of Jesus, rise up and walk." God has established the principle that humility comes before spiritual power or leadership. Consider the passage from Hebrews 5: 8Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 9And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; Consider also Isaiah 57: 15For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. The person who has been shown his sin and limitation will waste no more time trusting in self, but will rush to the counsel and strength of the Lord. He has undergone suffering and stretching, and has acquired empathy for the difficulties of others, because he has gone down similar paths. Like David, he can rehearse a personal history of rescues from the lion and bear. His God has proved Himself able. The approaching Goliath will also fall down. The battle is the Lord's. It has cost him to acquire this spiritual currency of holy audacity.
Such currency will work to the comfort and salvation of others. 2 Corinthians 1: 5For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. 6And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. So my friends, when you come to "the knothole" or the dark tunnel and squeeze through, trusting in your loving Heavenly Father, you may expect enlarged opportunities. Be on the look-out for them. Take what you have to the streets, schools and work-places. Be a servant who knows his place, but who also recognizes the power delegated to him by the Master. Paradox
God becomes Man. King becomes Servant. Teacher becomes Lesson. Victor becomes Captive. Priest becomes Sacrifice. Blessing becomes Curse. Death becomes Life. Galatians 3: 13Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: 14That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Isaiah 53: 7He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a
lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
And I awoke And saw a crowd of singers Loudly rehearsing The victories of their King. Crutches and prosthetics Discarded New skin formed over Past troubles Vision twenty-twenty And hearing right on key. The celebration embodying My journey’s hope Of family and forgiveness Of danger’s dwindling snarl. The inner Spring given voice Now free from any reticence From past stumblings Shame or confusion. This was the real Behind the screen of struggle Inequity and clamour. This was Heaven. And Jesus arrived…