Distraction

0055 RST Distracted Brains - Mobile DPS 4nh.inddDistracted!

Not attracted, distracted!!

Ah!  These modern days, we’re so busy.

We distract ourselves with microchip and 4G;

We always think it’s all about me.

I’m multi-tasking; I’m so modern.

That flicker of light, our mobile we delight!

 

We pick up up everything,

Before us, and in us.

We reach, we pick up, we….distract ourselves.

Did someone just text me?

Check my phone!

Did someone just Facebook me?

Check my phone.

Are my kids talking to me…..check my phone!

 

We are a distracted people.

A picking up people.

Let us pick up our phone, our facebook, our TV guide;

But let us not be Christian inside.

We think we’re free, but really we hide;

From the terror inside, the distraction we hide.

 

What do they think?

What did he say?

Who gives a damn, anyway?

 

Jesus said, “Pick up your cross.”

Not the dross, that is your boss;

Not the phone you think you own;

Nor the life that you’ve blown.

But the cross, from new life grown.

 

You don’t have to pick up the shit; take the hit.

Pick up the Cross;

It’s not your loss.

You lose your life, in His strife;

Come to Me, said He; Be free.

 

Distracted! Attracted!

What are you picking up anyway?

Your phone, the TV guide, the Facebook like?

Your own little ego, fed every day….

…on the things that don’t fill;  anesthetized will.

 

Pick up your Cross and follow Me!

That means putting everything else down;

It means no longer following self.

Check yourself now,

Do you have the courage?

 

Do you?

Really?

I think I can hear your phone ringing……….

 

Jesus – the Fisher of Men

Ballad to the Fisher King by Eugene Peterson (in Holy Luck, p.74-5):

 

Pete and Andy and Jack and Jim, sailed in sturdy ships.

They were fishermen who plowed the sea, while curses flowed from their lips.

Heigh ho to the Fisher King, Heigh ho; Heigh ho to the Fisher Christ.

The world for them was stuff to grab, the sea a chest to plunder;

Creation was a vacant lot and not a place for wonder.

 

Heigh ho to the Fisher King, Heigh ho; Heigh ho to the Fisher Christ.

They caulked their ships with sticky pitch, were quick at mending sail.

They swore and sang old chantey tunes, and drank from a common grail.

Heigh ho to the Fisher King, Heigh ho; Heigh ho to the Fisher Christ.

But the fight though hard was joyful and free; and they sang good songs of blessing.

They helped and healed and loved and prayed, and seldom missed the fishing.

Heigh ho to the Fisher Kin, Heigh ho; Heigh ho to the Fisher Christ.

Now the fish is a sign of the saving Christ, and a sign of the men he’s for;

And a fish is a sign you can scratch on the sand, and a meal to feed the poor.

Heigh ho to the Fisher King, Heigh ho; Heigh ho to the Fisher Christ.

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A Poetic Bible Overview

I have recently found a long lost poem written by my friend and former fellow Bible student.   He wrote it after a year of intensive book-by-book study, so some of it is biographical.  I now post it for your enjoyment.

 

Genesis should have been paradise but instead it turned to shame,

Exodus began in slavery but redemption saved the day.

Leviticus sanctified and made us holy for the task,

Numbers was my preparation but my inheritance I failed to grasp.

Deuteronomy the great covenant, the foundation of what was to come,

In Joshua I fought for my inheritance and the battle was victoriously won.

But Judges was my downfall, I did whatever I wanted,

And yet Ruth shone like a burning star reminding me that soon,

A King would come in Samuel, who would be the greatest King of all,

But first we had the failure of the people’s favourite Saul.

Kings and Chronicles said it all and I listened to the Kings,

Make excuses for the evil ways and many other things.

 

At some stage I went all negative and didn’t think I’d cope,

So I sat around complaining with some other guy called Job.

Everything seemed meaningless like there was nothing new under the sun,

Until Ecclesiastes came with its reminder to fear The One.

The Song of Songs reminded me, ‘My gosh, I have a wife!’

So I sought the wisdom of Proverbs to try and save my life.

The Psalms called me to worship, to pray, to lament and sing,

But as I read I kept on asking, ‘Is this synthetic parallelism?’

 

The exile sure did take a while with the ranting of the prophets,

Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, who I never thought would stop it.

But they kept on coming in their droves, calling us to repent,

‘Judgment’s coming’ is what they cried, ‘But there’s always hope at the end.’

At last the exile came to an end, the babble of Babylon silence,

And God’s faithfulness could be seen in the person of King Cyrus.

Ezra renewed the covenant and Nehemiah rebuilt the walls,

And somewhere in the midst of this Esther had a ball.

 

‘Elijah’s coming soon,’ cried the prophet Malachi,

But hundreds of years later, I thought he must have lied.

Then in the Gospels I discovered the One about whom all this had been written,

The King, The Servant, The Perfect Human Being.

In Acts I was commissioned, which followed spiritual birth,

And was told to go through Jerusalem, Samaria, even to the ends of the earth.

In Romans I met theology and saw the detail of God’s salvation,

And wondered if Paul himself had heard of the doctrine of pre-destination.

Corinthians reminded me that not everything’s black and white,

Idols, headships, tongues and money, not to mention the internal church fights.

But at least Galatians brought me freedom,

And Epesians gave me strength.

Philippians taught me the source of joy and in everything to be content.

Colossians led me to Jesus and the supremacy of Christ,

Whilst Thessalonians reminded me that He’ll come like a thief in the night.

 

Then, I lost my way in Timothy, as I struggled with my beliefs,

What is the point of having these books if they cause me so much grief?

But time moved on and so did the books as I continued to re-think ideas,

The race was hard but Hebrews came and encouraged me to persevere.

So my faith grew strong but James came along and pointed out my deeds,

My hypocrisy will be the death of me and James brought me to my knees.

Then Peter came to encourage me but also give a waring,

That I must be aware of the enemy as I wait for the Second Coming.

 

Speaking of which –

The writings of John moved me on and reassured me of my faith,

Until we reached Revelation and theology came up to my waist.

The visions, the seals, the trumpets and bowls, such confusion led me to groan,

So I focused on Christ, the source of my life and discovered that the Lamb’s still on the Throne.

 

Revelation was full of mystery much like some of God’s Word,

But I’ve learned that even in mystery God’s Voice can still be heard.

I’ve learned that in Christ we are loved, unique, chosen by grace,

We may see through a glass darkly, but in time we’ll see face to face.

Stop Faking Grace

T. S . Eliot once wrote, ‘humankind/Cannot bear very much reality.’  Not that people hate or despise reality, or that people constantly pursue reality, but that, in the end, too much reality, about ourselves, the world, God, is all just a bit too much.

It is especially the Ultimate that is a problem for people:  God.  Prayer.  Mercy.  Judgement.  Christ.

Hence much of church life, in typical human fashion, tends towards a moralism cloaked in religious language, with a ready arsenal of verses and well worn phrases designed to justify ourselves at the expense of others.

The Ultimate Reality though, God, is what almost every person who has ever lived is hiding from.  We are in a precarious state of existence living daily between the ever present deservedness of judgment and the ever present gift of grace.  Or to put it another way, we live suspended on the possibility of utter annihilation and the infinitude of divine care.

That’s why Martin Luther wrote in his commentary on Psalm 130: ‘Whoever, therefore, does not consider the judgment of God, does not fear; and whoever does not fear, does not cry out, and whoever does not cry out, finds no grace.’

Part of our ability to avoid the Ultimate is by pretending we no longer need to cry out, so we pretend therefore, we fear when we don’t which means we also fake how we have even considered the judgement of God.  We simply can’t bear too much reality, so we fake it, and this of course means, we fake grace.  A gross mistake.  Why don’t we just paint a great big clown smile on God’s face?

Scripture must be our guide here.  Not pithy devotional aids, but Scripture, the Psalms, the Prophets, the Gospels, the Letters and everything in between.  It is the Bible that offers us a way out of our religious banality; it offers us a much more dramatic and interesting narrative, whereby prayer, worship and the presence of God leads us ever onwards into an awareness of our sins and the gift of repentance.

Brian Brock writes, ‘Without God’s constant forgiveness, we do not see our own sin; and without the exposure of our sins and our repenting of them, we remain in the deadening byways down which other gods have enticed us.’

So without grace we become Christianised Pharisees: blind to the mercies of God, paraders of our own righteousness and thus trapped in a pathetic world of our own making, pathetic yes; mediocre certainly.  Grey, flat, one dimensional, airless, lifeless, godless.

Yet as Jesus repeatedly taught, it is the repentant sinner that goes away justified:  ‘God have mercy on me a sinner!’   The true mark of Christian spiritual vitality is not the absence of struggle, a settled smugness about our superiority, but the exact opposite:  the present reality and immediacy of prayer where we confess that if it were not for the mercies of God we would be dust and ashes.

A poem by William Countryman says just as much with much fewer words:

“Your choice of friends is broad

And (may we say?) unpredictable.

What did you see in Jacob?

Esau was bluff, hearty,

a man’s man – overconfident,

to be sure – even a minute

or two of seniority can grant

a certain status.  Jacob’s

only accomplishments were to cheat

his brother (with Esau’s rash

cooperation yes) and deceive

his father.  Piety suggests

you should have judged the scamp

and left him to stew in his guilt

till he repented.  Instead,

you showed him by night the ladder

to your throne.”

 

I love God’s grace!

A Resurrection Poem

IMG_6736LET THERE BE LIGHT

The stone has been rolled away,

Hell’s mouth silenced, it has no say;

Over who Christ will raise with Him,

A once dead people, now raised, to sing.

 

The transformation now complete,

From the head down to the feet;

The Alpha and the Omega,

Has changed everything forever.

 

Oh the marks of death are still there,

As a testimony to all who will see;

The nails, the spear, the thorny crown,

Not even these could keep Jesus down.

 

And so the confused, the broken, the weeping, the lost,

The empty, the dirty, those counting the cost;

Cast to the wind, afraid and alone,

A useless crowd, hiding at home.

 

The denier was there, “Peter the Great,”

The prostitute, his mum, awaiting their fate;

The door, the door, someone’s banging the door,

End of the story? But wait, there’s more….

 

What? He’s alive? Ridiculous. Dead men don’t rise.

Men on their cross, lifted into the skies! They die, they die, they stay dead!

They’ve stolen his body, the most obvious conclusion,

But this is resurrection morning, and no pathetic illusion.

 

So the denier and loved one ran to the tomb,

They went in; into the dark room;

The shroud was there, but He’s gone, He’s gone!

This is madness, are we losing our minds?

 

Don’t you remember, He spoke about this?

We didn’t listen, resurrection is silly, and easy to dismiss.

But Jesus said it; He’s not here, his words must be true,

And then it dawned on us, like the sun turning a dark night sky blue,

We’d been outwitted by the Saviour, as He so loved to do!

 

As in the first day of creation, up to today,

God has been speaking, “Let there be light!”

And to the tombstone these words were spoken,

“Let there be light,” to the hurting and broken.

 

This is about real life, people and sin,

And a God who loves and welcomes us in.

Easter’s been hijacked, a sloppy sentimental mush,

It’s not about chocolate, or bunnies and bunches of flowers,

It’s all about Christ, how He defeated the Powers.

 

 

Don’t get me wrong, these things are nice,

Just don’t forget who paid the price.

Bunnies and flowers?  Ah! How sweet.

But it’s hardly nails through God’s feet!

The cost of our sin, infinite indeed,

The Cross is our gateway declaring we’re free!

 

You see, over our hearts, lies a monstrous stone of sin,

Cry out to Jesus, to let His light in.

Confession, repentance, forgiveness, new birth.

Is ours through His death, He is redeeming the earth.

 

 

For unless there is within us that which is above us,

we shall soon yield to that which is about us.

 

So repent your sin and enter in.

Robes for rags, a gift of the King.

We were made for glory,

We were made to be part of God’s amazing story.

 

So come all you doubters and haters and loveless and lost.

The tired the weary, the broken and proud.

Sing and dance, whisper, be loud.

The stone has moved, there’s just a shroud.

 

He is alive. Outrageous but true,

God’s great plan to reach out to you;

We call it Gospel, because it’s good news –

Not a ruse to fill the pews – but a plan to proclaim a Man,

The Man from Heaven, God the Son, sent to save everyone!

 

It’s Resurrection morning, shout it out “LET THERE BE LIGHT!”

Goodbye darkness.

And . . . . . there . . . . . was . . . . . light!

 

 

(c)  Gralefrit

The Drugged Baby

THE DRUGGED BABY – a poem by Gralefrit

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The Lord says to me, ‘Fight the fight’

Give up your right and step into the light.

Pick up your cross

Lose all that dross

Count it all loss

Again I say, ‘Pick up your cross.’

‘But Lord’ I stutter, ‘there is no way’

‘I must speak and have my say

What about my human right

To choose whether to pick up my cross and fight?’

The orphan and widow; the sick and poor

What will you say when they knock on your door?

‘Come in’ says I,  ‘I’ve a great speech to give!’

‘But only speak life’ they say, ‘we want to live!’

Human rights can be human wrongs

But the question is, for whom do you long?

‘You say you long for me,’ declares the Lord, ‘you even bend your knee’

But my Spirit knows when you don’t want to see.

A baby has been born this very day

Her mother’s on crack, she has no say

You had the call to provide a way

A way to make her life pay.

This new born baby, will you take her in?

Into your home, out of life’s bin

Will you take her, a gift from me?

To show her my love and help her to see?

‘Yes Lord, I will pick up your cross

and answer the door.

Let her invade our home our hearts

But only if you invade my heart and make it your home!’

I accept the call, this gift, this poor drugged up broken baby girl

To love ’til it hurts and then some more

To see her break free of drugs and pain

And pray all the while that in Christ, a new life she’ll gain.

Glory to Christ

I accept your gift.

Amen and amen.

(c) Gralefrit 2014

The Pilgrim – a John Bunyan poem

john-bunyan.jpg?w=640

Recently I had the great pleasure of buying an 1816 copy of the Puritan John Bunyan’s classic Pilgrim’s Progress.  A fragile and well worn book, held together now by the one remaining piece of bi-centenial string!  I intend to read it slowly and carefully sometime in the coming days, to feel the weight of years that it has existed, the burden it carries, and the heart of a prison-bound man who simply loved God and saw Him, despite his chains.  Pilgrim’s Progress is one of the most popular and reprinted books ever written.

Essentially, it is an allegorical story of a man, named Christian, and his journey through life, a kind of spiritual warfare lived out and experienced as he travels from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City.  It is a call to Christians everywhere to persevere, but more than that, to wage war against the forces of evil.  It is a story that highlights mankind’s desperate plight in the world and God’s redeeming grace.  Regeneration, faith, repentance, justification, sanctification, perseverance are all revealed in graphic allegorical detail. Continue reading