This is the Church

This is the Church

 

It is the beautiful and broken body of Christ.

It is stumbling, faltering, and flawed. Pray for it.

It is vibrant, triumphant, and redeemed. Rejoice in it.

This is the Church

 

It is sacred and marred. Righteous and erring. The blood of the Lamb covers it all; redemption soaking the ground beneath its feet.

It is filled with sinners, hypocrites, blasphemers, and liars saved and transformed by the grace and love of the Giver of all good things.

Coarse and ugly, it is a priceless treasure. Loud and inconstant, it is the apple of Jehovah’s eye. Timid and afraid, it is the army of the omnipotent LORD of creation.

It is God’s reflected light to the world. The hands and feet of the Great I AM. The voice crying out in the wilderness, calling all creation to renewal. It is the bearer of the greatest mandate ever given. It is the prophets, preachers, and teachers proclaiming truth in a world of lies. It is the lovers, nurturers, and healers extending grace and justice to a world of brokenness. It is the missionaries, Gospel-bringers, and martyrs humbly offering the Bread of Life to the starving.

This is the Church

 

Christ is its cornerstone. It is loved and cherished, sustained and protected. It is the bride of the Lamb, adorned and exalted. The gates of hell cannot stand against it. It is chosen and set apart. It is buffeted from every side, yet it will never fail. It is eternal and victorious, not by the strength of its hands but by the power of the LORD of hosts.

Reject it at your peril. Mock it at your risk. No weapon formed against it will prosper. All those who rise against it will fall. It is God’s holy and established institution on earth, His ambassador to the nations. It is the imperfect representation of the Kingdom of God. It is the hopeful expectation of the perfected union of Heaven and earth. It is to be loved, nurtured, protected, purified, and embraced. It is the bride that is loved with a love so fierce and so overwhelming. A love that did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped. A love that emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant. A love that humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death on a cross. A love so amazing, so divine it transcends all human understanding.

That love has called the Church His body.

His love.

His bride.

Therefore, what God has joined together, let no man separate.

This is the Church

 

Redeemed

Forgiven

Eternal

Triumphant

Loved

This is the Church

 

 

 




Approaching Autumn

REO proudly presents Ben Plunkett’s newest poem – Approaching Autumn. We decided to present this one in a different format than usual, hoping that it would capture more people’s attention. It deserves that. One suggestion, please watch it in Full Screen mode for best viewing. Otherwise, the text might be hard to read for those with less-than-perfect vision.

 

 




The Five Hours of World Conquest




The Tick Tock

A little away
the clock tick tocks
the time where
we know He knows
it tick tocks
the clock rocks

away
when all was lost
He left the stars
where love is lush to
touch our hands,
our heads, our souls,

standing
in His thunder
underneath in
the nothingness
of our ticking,
in the sea of our tocking,
in the ticking, the tocking,

away
when life was lost
and deliverance
crossed into our
land where love is losing,
where He touches our hands, our heads, our souls,
where He views this sphere so

away
ticking, tocking,
our sides
plumped with bumps
and clumps and thorny lumps
far away
from His sigh
of mercy,
of death, His death,
of life, His life,
of the tick tock
the clock rocks
today.




They are the One

Life,
it loved,
our lacks it loved,
our lacks and lesions,
our lonely prose,
our din and dark, deflated cohesion,

and
pledges,
pledges of joy,
of sons, of daughters,
every girl, every boy;

expected, cradled,
so softly sailed,
cradled, sailed on an inner sea,
breathing, bending,
end to end, top to toe, nose to knee,
sails glowing, souls moving, thoughts growing.

life,
it loves,
sunny and stirring,
end to end, after and during;
they are the one, the one we love.




Yesterday

Last night, as we are on the vispera (Spanish for “Eve” or “time before”) of another year, ending 2016 and beginning 2017, I didn’t sleep well and lay awake for long periods of time. My thoughts went to the word “yesterday.”

Let me begin by saying that some of my favorite songs, either musically, lyrically, or thematically revolve around “yesterday.” Looking back, reflecting, and reminiscing is something we do somewhat automatically, I suppose, especially at year’s end, but it’s probably a good thing to do from a biblical standpoint: “number our days to gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12), allow the past (history) to be our teacher (Psalm 78), and remember that “our times are in his hands” (Psalm 31:15).

One of the prettiest songs from the 60s was “Yesterday” by The Beatles.

Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away.
Now it looks as though they’re here to stay.
Oh, I believe in yesterday.

Suddenly I’m not half the man I used to be.
There’s a shadow hanging over me.
Oh, yesterday came suddenly.

Why she had to go, I don’t know, she wouldn’t say.
I said something wrong, now I long for yesterday.

Yesterday love was such an easy game to play.
Now I need a place to hide away.
Oh, I believe in yesterday.

Why she had to go, I don’t know, she wouldn’t say.
I said something wrong, now I long for yesterday.

Yesterday love was such an easy game to play.
Now I need a place to hide away.
Oh, I believe in yesterday.

 

Lovely, soft, melancholy – it is a song that almost anyone would like. Thinking back to an earlier, happier time is so typical of we humans.

 

“Yesterday, When I Was Young” – by Charles Aznavour and Herbert Kretzmer, was released in 1964. The most famous and best-remembered version was by country music singer and Hee Haw host Roy Clark. The song contains a haunting and powerful lyric about someone who has lived life selfishly and now looks back to all he has lost and wasted.

Yesterday when I was young
The taste of life was sweet as rain upon my tongue
I teased at life as if it were a foolish game
The way the evening breeze may tease a candle flame
The thousand dreams I dreamed, the splendid things I planned
I always built, alas, on weak and shifting sand
I lived by night and shunned the naked light of day
And only now I see how the years ran away
Yesterday when I was young
So many drinking[1.  Roy Clark’s version substituted “happy” for drinking.]songs were waiting to be sung
So many wayward pleasures lay in store for me
And so much pain my dazzled eyes refused to see
I ran so fast that time and youth at last ran out
I never stopped to think what life was all about
And every conversation I can now recall
Concerned itself with me, and nothing else at all
Yesterday the moon was blue
And every crazy day brought something new to do
I used my magic age as if it were a wand
And never saw the waste and emptiness beyond
The game of love I played with arrogance and pride
And every flame I lit too quickly, quickly died
The friends I made all seemed somehow to drift away
And only I am left on stage to end the play
There are so many songs in me that won’t be sung
I feel the bitter taste of tears upon my tongue
The time has come for me to pay for yesterday when I was young.

 

Then there was a song from the 1970s, written by the legendary bass singer for the Cathedrals, George Younce, “Yesterday.” I probably first heard it in the late 70s or early 80s, and always felt that it ministered to me:

(Chorus)
Yesterday things were different
Today they’re different again
Jesus will never change
Jesus is always the same
1. The sparrow will find a new dwelling
The eagle will change its nest
But I’m holding on the changeless One
And I’m leaning on His breast
2. The river will change, change its course
The mountains may crumble and fall
Time will leave its mark, they say
Upon us one and all
Repeat Chorus

The song resonates powerfully in response to the fact that we live in a world of change (“yesterday things were different, today they’re different again”) by triumphantly affirming that “Jesus will never, never change, Jesus is always the same.” It’s wonderful to have that hope (Hebrews 13:8, Malachi 3:6, James 1:17).

 

Finally, we go back over 100 years to A.B. Simpson, the founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. He wrote a song that isn’t sung much today, except perhaps for the chorus, but what a truth it expresses!

O how sweet the glorious message simple faith may claim
Yesterday, today, forever Jesus is the same.
Still He loves to save the sinful, heal the sick and lame
Cheer the mourner, still the tempest, glory to His Name.
Refrain
Yesterday, today, forever, Jesus is the same.
All may change, but Jesus never! Glory to His Name!
Glory to His Name! Glory to His Name!
All may change, but Jesus never! Glory to His Name!
He, who was the Friend of sinners, seeks the lost one now
Sinner come, and at His footstool penitently bow
He Who said “I’ll not condemn thee, go and sin no more,”
Speaks to thee that word of pardon as in days of yore.
Refrain
Oft on earth He healed the sufferer by His mighty hand
Still our sicknesses and sorrows go at His command
He who gave His healing virtue to a woman’s touch
To the faith that claims His fullness still will give as much.
Refrain
As of old He walked to Emmaus, with them to abide
So through all life’s way He walketh ever near our side
Soon again we shall behold Him, Hasten Lord the day
But twill still be this same Jesus as He went away.
Refrain

Argentinian evangelist Alberto Motessi preached a message in which he spoke of Christians who focus on a Jesus who lived and worked in the past (historical). Others focus on a Savior who will live and work in the future (echatalogically). He goes on to say we should fervently believe in a Savior who is alive and working today. That is so true, but our trust in Him today flows from who He is and what He has already done through the cross, the resurrection, His immutable nature, and His faithfulness in our lives.

 

Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow. Let’s live for the One who is eternal, unchangeable, and always faithful.

 

The days pass so swiftly, the months come and go
The years melt away like new fallen snow.
Spring turns to summer, summer to fall
Autumn brings winter, then death comes to call.
Only one life, so soon it will pass, only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one chance to do his will
So give to Jesus all your days, it’s the only life that pays
When you recall you have but one life.[2. Only one Life by Lanny Wolfe]

 




Say Lord

Son, said the Father, Son,
say it Son, say I am King,

say
I stand alone,
alone,
I stand alone on a glory-stoned throne,

say
I see,
see,
I see the magi searching for me,

say
I feel ire,
ire;
the shadows of death lurk
against the raging fire,

say
I love,
love,
love Mary and Joseph,
love all men, all women, all children,
love the world,
I love,

say
I know,
know
of Herods and Caesars
and evil and empires
and so, Son,
say
the night
of seraphs and shepherds,

say
the grace,
say the joy,
say John, say Paul, say Peter,

say it is accomplished.

And mankind shall say,
O mighty Kings of Kings, stand upon
the wind and bear the weight of power,
pouring command from lungs
quivering its huge stalactite.

He has summed it all and said it all
and we stand here
signing our names upon the branching
hands of the tree resting tip-to-tip
and we grow and grow
as clouds glow and assemble.




The Tree

Green tree, bright green tree,
     dancing joy,
     joyous seed,
resting on a lush, green sea.

The bells and bows,
     the matchless lights,
shift like lightning,
     sing like snow.

Tinsel twirls, bright green tree,
     the dancing joy,
     the joyous light,
twist and sing on the lush green sea.

Bright green tree,
we watch and wait,
   watch and wow,
     watch and bow,
waiting, watching the lush green sea.

The angel lauds,
glimmers,
  shimmers,
   simmers,
    applauds and then

     a pause.




Father Rakes Leaves

It is early afternoon and
Father rakes leaves beneath a heavy cloud.

He is unafraid of storms and brushes the foliage
beneath streaked branches.

The cloud, it is angry,
a billowing general angry and loud.

Father, he is alone,
but not lonely,
in the red-green-brown expanse.

The cloud, it is angry,
it beckons its brethren,
the looming battalions angry and proud.

Father, he muses in the company of a thoughtful understanding
and brushes the tree-lost foliage across the leaf-splayed landing.

The clouds, they are an angry crowd,
descending their breeze-blown chariots,

and Father rakes leaves.




Noah in the Ark: Five Short Poems

 

poemI

poemII

poemIII

poem4

poemV