Tom Chapman’s Poetry
What is a sonnet?
The term was first used in Europe, and comes from the Italian meaning a "little song". Its date of origin seems to be about the 12th century. Over time it has undergone various transformations of form, and in England, in the hands of Shakespeare assumed a standard style of rhyming pattern. There are other recognised forms as well, named after their originators, such as Petrarchan (after Petrach of Italy), and Spenserian (after Edmund Spenser of England). Early on, the sonnet structure included two parts which together formed a compact form of "argument". First, the octave (first eight lines), forms the "proposition" which describes a "problem", followed by a sestet (final six lines), which proposes a resolution.
These days there has been considerably more variation in the structure, rhythm, and rhyming pattern—including free verse—so much so that the traditional form is virtually unrecognisable.
Much more has been said in other literature about the rhyming patterns and thematic constructions of sonnets, and after trying a few variations I feel comfortable with a rhyming pattern of abba, cddc, effe, gg. However, for variety, I have used different patterns on occasions, and still enjoy experimenting with variations. Also—possibly from my background as a musician—the thematic construction I now use is: main thought expressed in the octave, then a response in the next quartet, and a conclusion in the final couplet. This parallels the musical idea of Subject, Counter subject, and Coda.
I find that the format of fourteen lines of iambic pentameter is a very convenient way to express an idea with some discussion and conclusion.
Listen to #34, "Does Envy".
Mouse over titles
for sonnets to
The Passing of The Years
The passing of the years has shown us much.
The journey of brief life's experience
Has not diminish'd love's sweet tactile sense:
A soft caress, a misted mem'ry's touch.
For still there burns strong love, an inner flame,
That time alone can not extinguish cold;
And though this mortal frame grows tired and old
The constancy of love needs no reclaim.
From sharing times of hardship and of joy,
Sometimes with laughter, other times with tears,
A bond of mutual strong support appears
And builds from two a single joint alloy
That can confront life's essence without fears;
And love has grown with passing of the years.
A Memorable Life
Almost one hundred years were counted out;
A selfless life, and given just to share,
To comfort, to support whoever there;
For those in need, for those with fear or doubt.
Not everyone is privileged as we were,
To know a father's love and care so great,
To have a friend, a constant guide, a mate;
Who stands beside when trials of life occur.
No fortune was amassed to be passed down;
At least not in our worldly currency.
But there are rescued lives for all to see:
The legacy from one of no renown.
He gave to those in need so selflessly.
No fortune can eclipse that memory.
Change Is In The Air
The weather once engulfed us from the west,
Now storms are also brewing with old age.
There is no ready forecast nor a gauge
To warn which path to follow would be best.
And change comes unexpected—something new.
The search is vain for any sign of crumbs
Of wisdom, as in ignorance one plumbs
New depths for strength to see the storm clouds through.
And things are slowly changing for the worse:
Some new and unfamiliar steps to take.
We've seen before, some dark and cloudy times
But not as dark as these we now traverse.
These storms shall not abate until we wake
To life more real in those eternal climes.
Fading Light And Winter Snow
Now snow is on the roof with winter set;
The season brings an ever fading light
And chill is keener than in times before.
The thunder of lone footsteps overcomes
The nothing sounds of empty silences.
And sounds now echo hollow without life
As on a still and frosted mountain-side.
The fire is burning low, the ember glow
Inexorably moves t'wards winter's night.
The burden of the snow is pressing down;
Sometime, unknown, support will fail and fall.
There might be time for yet one final change.
The Judge of all will have the closing word;
A comfort knowing His voice shall be heard.
Silver Celebratory Sonnet
A small start back in nineteen eighty three
When lovers of the muse let it be known
That all who had a yen for poetry
Could share the words of others, or their own.
Now twenty five quick years have since passed by,
And some familiar faces lingered on;
While others are remembered with a sigh
From this procession which has come and gone.
Bush poetry has come alive once more,
Encouraged by this lowly Tamworth set.
And who knows what the future holds in store?
There may be other goals unseen as yet.
This silver anniversary is shared;
With confidence the future is declared.
Epithalamium For Grandchildren
Small streams shall grow, then share what they have gained
As each flows on its predetermined course,
Each moving from its predetermined source,
So life around may surely be sustained.
Two, meeting with each other, grow in power
And intermingle richness found in both;
Which, set in place by an eternal troth
Can lead to greater fullness in the flower.
And so two lives are joined by solemn vow,
Each bringing special richness to the bond.
They are now one from this day and beyond,
Together may be greater blessing now.
God made it sacred; we should share this life:
The union of a husband and a wife.
I saw the reaper pass close by one year,
And thought he would confront me face to face
And there and then remove me from my place.
The day was dank, the mood was dark and drear.
And yet his sudden visit held no dread
For one who knows of life's incertitude,
And can accept the reaper might intrude
Without a word of warning being said.
Some fruits are taken early, others late;
And who can tell the ripeness of their crop?
The reaper's scythe and sickle none can stop;
Already he has set each harvest date.
My harvest time is yet unknown to me,
But God's peace gives assured security.
What Of The Years
What of the years which life has cast aside,
When promise has been snatched away in haste?
Not once, but twice, was witnessed such a waste,
And was the future dreadfully denied.
What might have been shall never now be known,
A heart remains, whose future is to grieve;
And doubts must fill a mind which could believe
Erstwhile the flower of youth would be full-grown.
And how a broken spirit craves support
In such a time of deep and darkest need.
It cannot change, no matter how we plead.
No ready answer for a soul distraught.
To sympathize, to be a friend—a mate,
We also serve who stand beside and wait.
When all around is claret garbed and gold,
And nature's carpet covers all the earth,
Decay precedes a time of spring's new birth
With leaves of summer changed and growing old.
But there is beauty in these signs of age
However brief and fleeting they may be,
Then all too soon a bare and barren tree
Is all that stands to face the winter's rage.
This transient season's canopy of change
Brings colours which are vibrant and intense,
Which fill with wonder all our visual sense
From such a palette, full of autumn's range.
And old life dies to make way for the new,
Ensuring newborn glory shall ensue.
Late evening, when the candle flickers low
And all is silent; nothing to distract
The train of thought, in rushing cataract,
Or meandering in its quiet gentle flow,
The soul might sense some lofty heights of praise
And look toward the things of heaven above;
Or else perhaps, with pain of earthly love,
Might contemplate some coming darker days,
Thus understanding David's fancy flights
As in the Psalms he bares his straying soul.
But from the depths he looks to God, his goal,
And with that look is raised to glorious heights.
Ah, hope within the Psalms shall far transcend
The best that earthly poets may have penned.
In The Sight Of God
The blinkered sight that's owned by mortal man
Sees but a part of what is in man's soul;
And man himself would not reveal the whole
Of thoughts and deeds; all part of his life's span.
He cunningly, with chosen words, reveals
But portions of his character to show
To worldly gaze; there is no need to know
The sinful side he carefully conceals.
But God, the Lord of all creation, knows
Not only deeds and words, but thoughts as well;
And yet His Son has felt the pangs of hell,
To clothe with righteousness the ones He chose.
How can I help but give Him all due praise
Who loves me so, in spite of His pure gaze?
"O solitude! If I must with thee dwell",
Those words once flowed from John Keats' inky quill;
And, if in solitude he spent a spell,
He asked a kindred soul to share his ill.
I, on the other hand, can talk to Gra,
As old and life-long friends, like thieves, we're thick;
Or further, as a threesome, many a day,
I resurrect my old acquaintance, Mick.
I feel I have advantage over Keats,
As I can think as Tom, or Mick, or Gra,
So sitting at the table in three seats
We contemplate on what each has to say.
I thus, at this time, as a senior,
Enjoy my triple schizophrenia.
The Frustrated Farmer
His wife is not a country girl at heart—
She hid behind a grandchild from a horse—
And getting close to cows—well no, of course,
That's fright'ning and it's dangerous for a start.
So keeping ducks and chickens long ago
Was pretty well the nearest that they went
To any sort of rural complement;
And now and then they heard a rooster crow.
Now he'd been brought up on a poultry farm,
He'd killed and dressed a chook; he'd done a few.
His wife though couldn't eat someone she knew,
So when he mentioned sheep, it raised alarm.
I guess they'll never grow their own lamb chops,
Anonymous, they'll buy them from the shops.
Confession Of An Old Man
Of recent times his eyes were drawn aside
To lasses with their skin so smooth and fair,
Where all the tell-tale signs of age and care
In ones so young, as yet, had been denied.
But even so his heart was strangely warmed
Whenever they would find each other near,
And feelings were expressed and made quite clear
A bond of love had now so strongly formed.
His wife of many years was not concerned
That such should stir in this grey headed boy;
Was happy that an old man had this joy,
And love in his old heart had freshly burned.
Not everyone who lives upon this earth
Is privileged with a great-grand daughter's birth.
Peace And Love
Forget those things which do not foster love;
Ill feelings, or sad memories of hurts,
Like vengeful thoughts, or wishing just desserts
That puts another down in 'push and shove.'
How often will a needless hurt persist
Yet which so quickly could be put at rest
By either one not seeking their own best;
Love is not helped when selves for self insist.
Instead, absorb a critic's harsh remark,
Go gently then, and seek the peaceful way;
Humility, not pride, shall save the day;
The soft response may quench the angry spark.
Embrace that which shall give a peaceful plan,
Remember that great love God has for man.
There's safety in great numbers, so they say,
And being in a crowd may drive out fear.
And fifty thousand fans who give a cheer
May help a flagging team to win the day.
While crowd support might sweep a man to power
And satisfy ambition's hungry drive,
There is no guarantee that he'll survive;
Crowd mood might quickly change at any hour.
The crowd in opposition is a threat
With individuals hiding in the throng,
Who, being more anonymous, feel strong
To act in ways they later might regret.
So when rebellious hearts begin to throb,
Beware the crowd which turns into a mob.
An Evening Together
It is so much enjoyed, an hour apart
From all that drives the busyness of day,
Time set aside to rest, perhaps assay
To be distracted from a burdened heart.
To sit with others who are of like mind,
Together common interest may be shared
And take in thoughts which poets' words declared,
When leaving all the daily cares behind.
And here we have a worthy atmosphere
Surrounded by the writings of the years,
Where poetry may move to joy or tears,
While listening to a humble sonneteer,
The warmth of friends is surely felt and known;
It can surpass the quiet place alone.
By The Castlereagh
The old man lived alone, the years had fled
And long since had the family left the nest.
And back in faded memory were the best
Of years since he and his young wife were wed.
Their God had always serviced every need.
They never were in want, but nothing spare,
And simply trusted Him with every care
Whose promises had nurtured faith's small seed.
And scant there was of this world's goods they shared
When came the day his loved one left this earth.
He changed address to one of much less worth,
To wait until his innings was declared.
Then quietly his last years slipped away
In old Mendooran by the Castlereagh.
Whenever one is taken and one spared,
The broken bond shall bring its own strong grief,
For such a day has stolen, as a thief,
The link forged by a lifetime's journey shared.
And so it was, with years of love declared,
With feelings then almost beyond belief,
And turmoil felt of sadness and relief,
When heav'n recalled a life by sickness snared.
He'll never see that knowing look again;
He'll never feel their fingers intertwined,
He'll never hear the voice of love inclined;
Nor hear the quiet sobbing from the pain.
Imagination, lonely and alone,
Shall see and feel and hear the things once known.
The cutting wind was cold and crisp, and bore
The bite that comes from blowing o'er the snow;
The sun was bright, the temperature was low
And chilled the bones of all, both rich and poor.
While many now enjoy their fireside heat
With other homely comforts for their ease,
And never give a thought about the freeze;
A widow seeks her comfort in the street.
She huddles in a shelter where the sun
Gives token warmth with feeble wintry rays,
With ancient coat and threadbare shawl she stays
Protected; 'tis the best that can be done
Because her widow's pension's meagre pay
Affords her just one hour of heat each day.
The Blackbird’s Songs
The blazing sun has done its daily round,
With gifts of joy or heartache to the earth;
For here was gentle warmth for life and birth,
And there it scorched the parched and barren ground.
But now this orb has spanned its daily arc,
The blazing ball is sinking out of sight.
A blackbird sings to herald in the night:
A final and melodious remark.
The shadow of the western hills was cast
Across the orange clouds high in the east;
Now slumber beckons each diurnal beast
To quietness until the night is passed.
The blackbird sings again, announcing dawn,
To call the world awake as day is born.
See how each candle's fitful guttering glow
Spreads little light where once it brightly shone,
For now those burning wicks are almost gone;
And all too soon there'll be no flame to show
Where once they burned and spread their cheery rays.
For times are passed when they lit far and wide
And now it's only those who stand beside
Who see, concerned, each candle's closing phase.
How quickly is the span of life consumed,
How soon, it seems, the years of life are spent.
And some, for wasted years, would yet repent;
A candle's span should never be assumed.
And may my candle's flame, itself not bright,
Reflect, from Christ himself, God's greater light.
The Sanctity Of Life
Oh God, how far is man allowed to go
Before your sovereign hand shall call a halt?
When shall his cup be filled with evil fault,
And then its brim, with blood, shall overflow?
Infanticide? Abortion is the name
For such a course of self expedience:
A thrill without the inconvenience;
Society now seldom sees the shame.
To kill is an indictable offence.
Yet life, when still confined within the womb,
With conscience free, consign it to the tomb?
But life is life, so where's the moral sense?
Your holiness has long now been ignored,
But man has yet to answer to you, Lord.
No Grief For Me
No grief for me, or rather, not too great,
Since this tired tent, at last, has welcomed death,
And listless lungs are now devoid of breath;
For this is but the way of mankind's fate.
The soul that sins is surely set to die,
And I have been no better than the rest;
But through the death of Christ I now am blessed
For He, in love, once heard my humble cry.
And Christ has done what mankind cannot do;
No matter where the yesterdays I trod,
I have become the righteousness of God.
That promise made by loving grace is true.
And now I see my Saviour face to face;
Salvation, not of works, but all of grace!
Destruction And Mercy
The leaders call to courage in the face
Of earthquake, fire, and flood; but we have seen
The best of human power can't intervene
When such events have struck at frightening pace.
How powerless the great are proven then.
When buildings shake and mountains split apart,
Despair all round might break the bravest heart;
But God sits sovereign over earth and men.
And these disasters, large though they appear,
Are small compared to that which is to come.
God's outpoured wrath for sin is fearsome;
And well might man have reason then to fear.
God's wrath is great; his mercy more than great
For all who come to Christ, their advocate.
Sometimes I Sit In Tears
Sometimes I sit in tears when, late at night,
I contemplate the torture of her day
That now has done its work, and given way
To sleep, which brings a welcome brief respite.
But even there rest might be sorely tried
As malady will often then intrude,
And no amount of stoic fortitude
Can cope with pain, which leaves her sleep denied.
The search is vain to answer this distress.
To stand beside shall never quite suffice;
But all that can be done at any price:
Supportive words, a gentle soft caress.
Now torn between these two: to lose a mate,
But know the pain has gone: a lifted weight.
A Cup Of Tea
Some folk are proud of what they have attained,
Are quick to tell of this or that degree,
Or, better still, parade a PhD
To show their family status is maintained.
But there was one who lived a humble life;
No attributes of learnèd scholarship,
But full of honest homely stewardship:
A dedicated mother and a wife.
God called her with a heavenly request
To service, and her homely skills were brought;
"I'll make a cup of tea for you," she thought.
Her home then was immeasurably blessed.
God doesn't call you for your PhD,
Just offer, from your heart, a "cup of tea."
The friendly knocking at the door is here:
A long-awaited greeting from old friends.
The absence of too many years now ends.
There's welcome with an honest heartfelt cheer,
And reminiscing of a bygone day,
With photographs so proudly shared and shown,
Discussing how our families since have grown;
And noting how we've all succumbed to grey.
But hearts are warmed, the bonds of love are strong
When, once again, the conversations flow
Just as they should between old friends, as though
The time apart was really not so long.
Yes, people age, attendant signs appear;
But ties of love, so strong, remain sincere.
How Can A Man
How can a man be sure to find his way
Through life's unknown and indistinctive maze,
With twists and turns and unknown future days?
Small wonder some have hearts filled with dismay.
But there are those who, with self-confidence,
Look straight ahead, turn neither left nor right,
Fulfill their own ambitions with delight;
Yet do not know their last line of defence.
For God requires that each shall give account;
But none has lived the life that should have been,
Our slate of life is not presented clean;
It's soiled by sin, even the least amount.
How then is man to live aright life's story?
Walk with the Lord, and He shall lead to glory.
How Might I Show My Love
How might I show my love now autumn's here?
For warmth and life of summer now have passed,
Like joy and birth in spring, these do not last
But only fading memories are held dear.
The vigour and the strength of youth have waned
As life has long traversed its destined path
With boundaries shrinking in its aftermath,
And limits now imposed, but not explained.
It is now not so much of what is done,
But just a gentle word, a thought, a touch;
An understanding look may mean so much
To hearts, which through the years, are almost one.
The little things, the thoughtfulness, the care,
And always, when I'm needed, being there.
The travellers, traders, merchants, and the sharks,
Together with the prostitutes and thieves
Cared nothing for behaviour which aggrieves;
Where selfish godless morals left their marks.
And this was Corinth under Roman rule;
The centre of a hedonistic trade
Where every opportunist had it made,
Where one who lived aright was thought a fool.
But God had called a man whom He had sought
To preach good news on that unholy ground;
And there were some God's Spirit turned around,
Who listened as the purer things were taught.
If God could claim a victory in that town,
Take courage, for He still can claim a crown.
Ready For The Trumpet
Cacophonies of life, a constant clamour,
All fighting for a place in every soul;
They constantly will wheedle and cajole
To sell themselves with artificial glamour.
And creeds and cults declaim both long and loud,
To captivate allegiance for a vote,
While merchants cry out from a moneyed throat
Their products make you beautiful or proud.
But in amongst this clash of worldly din
Are smaller calls whose message is profound,
But too few heed this urgent warning sound;
They're deafened by the deadly work of sin.
Yet there'll be just those few who shall, at last,
Rejoice to hear God's trumpet's final blast.
Doer Of Great Things
Who is the man whose might can do great things?
Who is the one whose wit sets him apart
Above his fellows with his clever art,
And, sometimes proud, in self-expression, sings?
But not all have the province of great gifts;
For some are seen to be far less endowed;
Considered then as little in the crowd,
In whose direction praise so seldom shifts.
The high-born man could not choose gifts at birth,
Nor did the serf throw any gifts aside,
For God alone has, by his will, supplied
The skills and strength for every man on earth.
His might works through the foolish and the weak,
Confounding those who love to proudly speak.
Does envy gnaw your heart when all around
Are players on the stage of life who seem
To live a life of which most only dream;
Where luxuries and pleasures both abound?
And many have no thought of others' pains.
The drug lord, and the con-man, and the thief,
The shady business man who causes grief,
Enjoy the fruits of their ill-gotten gains.
Their few brief years on earth shall soon pass by,
Then all the comforts they have ever known
Shall vanish as they reap what they have sown;
To opt for this world's wealth is Satan's lie.
There's nothing to be envied at their end
Who face God as a judge, and not a friend.
Great deeds may be accomplished, and then praised
When all the world can see th' emblazoned news;
Each act extolled in many writers' views,
Nor any less are public plaudits raised.
Desire for adulation sometimes lifts
A man to seeming greatness in his time.
Ensnared in such a worldly paradigm
Can lead a soul to seek self-centred shifts.
How different is the humble homely lass,
Anonymous, no care for public thought,
Prepared to sacrifice, with praise unsought.
Might yet her life be that which none surpass,
And driven, with no public note to prove,
Nor by desire, but by a heart of love.
The news came through today of yet one more
Whose feet shall never tread this earth again.
A friend from years ago has done with pain,
And left behind him hearts now grieved and sore.
But, such is life, the way of man on earth,
Whose times and seasons are by God ordained,
Whose every breath is by that God sustained,
And every journey set, to death from birth.
And when my name is called to take my place,
At some time which no mortal man can know,
I shall not then rehearse my deeds to show
That I have right to meet God face to face.
For all my best is soiled with sin's taint;
But Christ has taken all of my complaint.
Not As A Spider
Not as a spider, casting threads afloat
To catch the whim of any passing breeze,
To anchor down wherever they may please;
So then to spin its fragile silken cote.
Not as a spider, with no certain plan,
Who rather seems to leave it all to fate,
Then passively and silently shall wait
For meal or mate, a mere arachnidan.
Not as a spider, but as one whose course
Is known to some omniscient trusty guide,
May man embark on his life's time and tide,
And come to journey's end without remorse.
And yet some spin a fragile silken thread;
But some shall trust the heavenly guide instead.
How Blind Are Those
How blind are those who cannot see the truth;
A veil is drawn across each darkened mind,
And wasted is the wealth of years combined
For old age now has long supplanted youth.
The sprinkled truth received across those years
Has all been swept aside in sad neglect.
And truth now says there's judgement to expect;
In ignorance the spirit has no fears.
But ignorance, so born, shall not withdraw
The truth of judgement for a sinful soul,
Whose heavenward search is but a forlorn goal;
But rather sin's reward for evermore.
There is a hope: cry from that veil's dark place,
None is refused who seek the Saviour's face.
The Dilution Of God?
When men think less of God than what they ought
And cast him as just slightly greater than
One of themselves, egalitarian,
One to be bargained with, or even bought;
They also then belittle his demands,
His majesty and power they put aside.
Then, with a sort of self delusional pride,
Their destiny, they think, is in their hands.
And words of disobedience are changed:
Adultery becomes just 'an affair',
And sin, a 'misdemeanour' here and there:
Opinions of those souls by sin deranged.
God's glory and his ways are absolute
His majesty and power he'll not dilute.
Glory Of God
The Lord, our God speaks with such awesome power
That merely at his word the heavens were formed;
And stellar matter fiercely burned and stormed:
A show of might to make the bravest cower.
This Lord dwells in a high and holy place,
So far beyond the reach of sinful men,
And yet, is pleased to dwell with sinners when
They humbly, with contrition, live by grace.
For God created man to walk with him.
But man, made in God's own similitude,
By his antagonistic attitude
Destroyed communion by a thoughtless whim.
But glorious is that salvation plan
That Deity should deign to come as man.
On A Brief Meeting With Friends
Four hours shall not fill up the space of years,
Yet can enrich a friendship's slender thread.
The labyrinthian lane ways lives have led
Have kept apart some which the heart endears.
But fleetingly on these ways we traverse
It is ordained our paths should briefly cross,
And take back some of years' long absence loss
As then, in pleasant company, we converse.
So cherish then each moment rarely won,
And waste no words, avoid the idle chat;
Those hours shall quickly fly, and knowing that
It's all too soon this precious time is done.
And memories shall be kept when this day's passed,
For we're not given to know which is the last.
The Unguarded Word
Unguarded words uttered in careless haste,
Or harshly spat, with anger's venom filled;
The words that tell of hatred, hard and chilled,
Or gossip when the victim shan't be faced,
Reveal the speaker's soul, bereft of care.
And with harsh words seeds of ill will are sown,
For in those careless moments truth is shown:
True feelings of the speaker's heart laid bare.
And in that instant, words, like birds, have fled,
Like wind-blown dust, can never be called back;
Those arrows with their pointed cruel attack.
One wishes they might never have been said.
But when the heart has purer things interred
There is no need to fear th'unguarded word.
When God of old unleashed his awesome power
With plague and pestilence to show his hand,
To cause a drought throughout a kingdom's land,
Or rain hailstones at his appointed hour;
Such things took place according to his word
That his decree and purpose be fulfilled,
That knowledge, as he said, might be instilled:
"That all the nations know I AM THE LORD."
But natural man will focus far below
The elevated worship God demands,
And wants that God should bow to his commands:
Such actions put man's ignorance on show.
God does not act for man's success and fame:
Ascribe to God the glory due his name.
These fourteen lines of five iambic feet;
These friends which may encapsulate a thought
Of logic or persuasion, which one ought
To recognise as finished and complete;
These lines present a challenge to the writer
To wrestle with the argument and form,
And make sense from this literary norm;
Presented either serious or lighter.
These lines, not always fixed, but sometimes varied
Lend themselves to rhythmic substitution:
A spondee or a trochee execution
Add interest so a reader is not wearied.
The rhyming patterns too are quite organic:
That which is here is subtly named Chapmanic.
In vain so many chase the youthful dream,
In vain so many fight the cracking crust
Of this decaying product of the dust,
Which must conform to mankind's destined stream.
Still, many heed the subtle seller's call
To buy that which delays the signs of age;
But time shall win the war that he will wage
As every ploy shall ultimately fall.
But some will let this earthly glory fade;
They have a promise, be they king or slave,
Which leads to glory far beyond the grave,
And far beyond mere human accolade:
When Jesus Christ, who is their life, appears
They'll have a glory past the reach of years.
Knowledge and Wisdom
A little knowledge is a dang'rous thing,
So many an empty parrot will repeat;
But ignorance may bring quickly bring defeat
Where unawareness has a painful sting.
For ignorance at times may not be bliss
When warning signs, through blindness, are not seen,
Where on the surface all appears serene
But undercurrents tell things are amiss.
Now knowledge without wisdom is a threat,
And wisdom without knowledge just as bad;
But circumspect decisions may be had
Where both are held, and both correctly set.
One's knowledge may be used, however small;
But do not therefore think one knows it all.
She smiled and held her new-born to her breast,
The miracle of childbirth was with her;
And twice again this image would recur.
She smiled, as through the years, she had been blest.
She smiled to see the graciousness of God,
As with her spouse they'd made Him their life's guide.
His strength for them was proven and was tried;
They'd come through life's most stormy seas dry-shod.
So looking back to see the life God planned,
She smiled again, a grateful, tired soul,
And thanked the Lord; but time had taken toll.
She weakly smiled and held her lover's hand.
The sheet was drawn in silence in that ward;
She smiled in death, for she had seen her Lord.
Consider the creation of the Lord,
How everything he made was very good;
And still his work is perfect, so we should
Be satisfied; with him be in accord.
Unknowable to us are thoughts and ways
That God in his good pleasure has designed;
Inscrutable to any finite mind
That we should know this God beyond all praise.
But we, by sinful nature, are at war
With God, who has his own agenda set;
And when our aspirations are not met
His actions we so readily deplore.
Full satisfaction comes no other way
Than being in God's hand, soft yielding clay.
These feet have followed many selfish ways
And walked away from paths which God required;
These eyes have looked on what the flesh desired
And turned far from an upward heavenly gaze.
This mind has dwelt on many sinful scenes
And often traced a secular pursuit;
And hands which quickly snatched forbidden fruit
Have often erred by various ways and means.
O God, your perfect image is defiled
By man's corrupted nature so ingrained.
How might eternal pardon be obtained?
And man to God again be reconciled?
The blood of Christ is all that could atone,
And He has purchased back what is His own.
The vista of a frozen alpine peak
Where power has thrust it far towards the sky;
The things which can't be seen by human eye;
Design which makes each living thing unique;
The tidal wave which comes with dreaded swell;
The might with which an earthquake shakes the ground;
The fearsome storm which comes with thunderous sound
And lightening flash; all these have much to tell
Of sovereign God's creative power and might,
But nothing of his mercy and his grace
That's offered to a sinner in disgrace
Who will admit to his eternal plight.
These attributes of mercy, love, and grace
Are shown to those who've given Christ first place.
Lucinda, you had lived before my time
But stories of your godliness were told
That even when you had grown weak and old
Your love for God remained as in your prime.
I never knew the earnestness and care
With which you raised a family in your youth;
Where at your knee you taught each godly truth
To children who were gathered listening there.
Then in the last few fading twilight years,
With strength of arm diminished as the day,
You spoke with all, who chanced to pass your way,
Of heavenly things, of death which held no fears.
The love of God you shared remained the same;
And pastors were encouraged when they came.
The mysteries surrounding us each day
Yet exercise the human intellect,
So man will probe, and measure, and inspect.
The mystery of unknown things, (which may
Be solved if man's discovery is advanced)
Is limited to what he understands.
He can't surpass the reach of mind and hands,
Then only as his knowledge is enhanced.
But how did Jesus Christ become a man?
Both fully God and fully man in one?
Eternal Spirit; flesh and blood; God's Son.
Inscrutable is God's salvation plan.
Incomprehensible this mystery:
Eternal God stepped into history.
Why Did They Die?
O Lord, how much expression do we need
To have the evil heart of man revealed?
We see the broken lives which can't be healed;
Results of yet another evil deed.
The senseless slaughter of the innocents,
So many cut down cruelly in their prime,
The snuffing out of lives before their time;
For such a crime there is no recompense.
The blood of infants cries out from the ground,
Those tiny victims heartlessly destroyed
And snatched away from love they ere enjoyed.
Unhealable the grief now so profound.
This is unfettered evil in control;
God's grace alone can change man's darkened soul.
I Hold Back Tears
I hold back tears to see you lie in pain;
It hurts to see you slowly fade away
With innate strength diminishing each day,
(But earthly loss would be a heavenly gain.)
I've not traversed this dark pathway before;
And what is it I see in my dimmed eye?
Is it a love I'm watching slowly die?
No, love itself grows stronger more and more.
The loved, however, with the passing years
Has lost the bloom of many a bygone day,
And, all too soon, shall be returned to clay,
Then parting shall be shown in warm salt tears.
Till then our mutual love shall be expressed
With hearts, like autumn leaves, together pressed.
At times the spirit flags beneath the weight
Of burdens life imposes day by day,
And yet the creature often finds a way
To navigate each stress-imposing state.
But not all men can overcome the odds
Which seem at times so cruelly measured out,
And even life itself may seem in doubt
If man just looks at all his self-made gods.
For gods which man has made are wisps of thought
From searching darkened minds; they have no strength
To offer anything for life at length,
And cannot satisfy or give support.
But when man looks to God, by whom he's made,
He'll find a real supporting power displayed.
God Bless You
"And God bless you," the youthful voices said
As all the children greeted that day's guest;
An often quoted line one might suggest,
But was it from the heart, or just the head?
At such a tender age one often finds
There is no solid grasp of such a thought
In all its fullness; yet that truth was taught
To, possibly, repose in those young minds.
So therefore from that group there may be some
Who, as the years shall pass, shall recognise
That God in his great mercy, ever wise,
Does bless those who obey his call, and come.
I know such blessings from his hand are free;
In such amazing ways God blesses me.
I Loved You
I loved you in the spring when all was new.
Our journeying together had begun.
From that day we explored our world as one,
No longer living separately as two.
I loved you in the summer when the flair
And richness of our life was at its height;
Together then we shared each new delight,
Together too, we faced each new-found care.
I love you now in autumn when the leaves
Have colours we have never seen before,
Nor do we know the path we now explore
But, hand in hand, we tread the course it weaves.
How fragile are these threads of life of ours;
Like delicate and gently fading flowers.
For The Crimean Tatars
Pain, disbelief o'erwhelms each anxious friend
Responding to the saddening news that's heard.
Each, scarce believing every frightening word,
Can now but offer prayer that this shall end.
In times gone by these pogrom victims were
Oppressed and persecuted, some to death,
Unwanted as an ethnic shibboleth.
Satanic forces once again now stir.
The years have passed, but hearts of evil men
Are just as black as they have ever been,
Tyrannical, they work out sin's gangrene
And they have filled their cup of evil, when
Revenging God, who holds the hearts of kings,
Shall show his power and glory from these things.
Beyond The River (1)
If we could see beyond the final stream,
The inescapable dark stream of death;
(And death first came in judgement on man's breath);
Perhaps we'd see the fullness of God's scheme
Where judgement still must fall as justly right,
For God, and his pronouncements must remain.
The soul that sins is ordained to be slain;
The fate of all unrighteous in his sight.
"I am the Lord," he said, "I do not change."
But he would show his love to sinful man
With such a merciful salvation plan;
Our sin for righteousness by Christ exchange.
To cross that stream of death need hold no fear
For all who've come to Christ and hold him dear.
Beyond The River (2)
But there beyond that river's farthest shore
The gaping mouth of hell's awful abyss
Stands ready to receive all who dismiss
The mercy God extends to rich and poor.
For there is no divide by human scale
As all mankind falls infinitely short
Of God's perfection. Christ alone has bought
Release where man's best deeds can only fail.
It's God himself who holds life's flimsy thread
Of all mankind; when life ends none can tell.
Then some shall go to glory, some to hell;
Some leave this earth with joy, and some with dread.
We do not know which day shall be our last,
Tomorrow might well be God's grace has passed.
Beyond The River (3)
And when, at last, we cross this final stream,
This inescapable dark stream of death,
And this clay dwelling is devoid of breath,
No longer might we live an earthly dream.
For hoping and imagination then
Shall be replaced by truth so understood,
And all shall see that God alone is good
And is a being far above all men.
Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
His judgement shall be shown to be correct;
The slightest evil soul he must reject.
But mercy may put man's sin out of sight.
For all who saw for their sin, Jesus died
Will God, through Christ, for them be satisfied.
Beyond The River (4)
And there awaits for each and every saint,
(For all who have embraced the grace of God
And crossed the stream of death unscathed, dry-shod,
Against whom God has now not one complaint),
A life beyond man's self-indulgent dreams.
For heaven is not what earthly man may think:
A peaceful life of pleasure, food, and, drink,
Surrounded by imaginative schemes.
For mortal man, with neither mind nor heart,
Can hope to know the things that are prepared
For those who love him, so God has declared.
But by his Spirit shall such truth impart.
And times of quiet, spent with God alone,
Foreshadow times around his kingly throne.
What Was The pain?
When was the last time that you shed a tear
In humble thanks for that great sacrifice
Of Christ, who left eternal paradise
To live as mortal man, and suffer here?
The scourging with the flesh torn from the bone,
The crucifixion nails driven through
His hands and feet, and all of this he knew
Was not the worst he must endure alone.
For not a word was said of such great pain,
But rather that forsaken cry to God.
He bore, on that vicarious path he trod,
The wrath of God that sinful man might gain.
Eternal godhead fellowship was torn
That man's ungodly soul might be reborn.
How can the dead describe what truly lives?
Or else the living gain help from the dead?
Or stopped ears understand what has been said?
How can blind eyes see wonders that light gives?
Do we expect a corpse to rise in power?
Do we expect the ignorant to lead?
The uninformed to answer every need?
Yet all around it takes place every hour.
For many will, by human thinking, try
Explaining Godly wisdom from a mind
Which, without God, is spiritually blind,
And shed light on eternal things. They lie.
For only those to whom God gives his light
Can understand eternal things aright.
Those years which seem both wasted and devoured,
The years when opportunities were lost,
When boundaries deliberately were crossed
And life became a burden, somewhat soured,
Have brought about a sighing and regret.
As locust plagues strip all before them bare,
So squandered years have nothing to declare,
And all seems just a hopeless loss, and yet
God hears the humble cry of those who turn
In penitence to him; he will forgive,
Restoring flagging spirits so they live
And being brought to life perhaps to learn.
His mercy means his own are not forsaken;
He shall restore the years by locusts taken.
Where is the man who has, throughout the years,
Discovered life's fulfillment in the sure
And certain path, unknown to him before,
But known to God, who can allay all fears?
Where is the man who has not flinched from fight,
But stood and faced the fierce foe of the soul,
And with the call of God held as his goal
Has kept the promises of God in sight?
That man stands tall amid the world's decay,
His weakness demonstrates a godly strength,
His foolishness, God's wisdom shown at length;
The power and work of God thus on display.
That man now stands, a testament to grace;
And sovereign will alone has set his place.
How fleeting are the years which span our time,
A few short wisps of quickly taken breath
Are all too soon consumed, engulfed by death,
And some are gone ere having reached their prime.
One cannot know the final curtain call
When plans and pleasures come to no account,
When effort and ambitions all amount
To nought for those who for themselves gave all.
Where such myopic views of life exist
And "carpe diem" is the daily cry,
Where ignorance hides truth which passes by,
Eternal life beyond this earth is missed.
Man is not made to live and fade away,
But dwell with God in perfect sinless day.
To dwell with God in perfect sinless day
Is where the soul of man is most at rest;
But many souls shall fail the final test.
Some from the gift of Christ have turned away,
Or some perhaps attracted by the thought
Of striving to achieve some personal goal,
Give little time to think about their soul;
Eternal needs are far from being sought.
For all of this world's castles and the fame
Or satisfaction that man searches for
Shall all too soon be gone to be no more,
And what then of pursuits and lifelong aim?
The lust of flesh, of eyes, and pride of life
Do not prepare to leave this world of strife.
Do not prepare to leave this world of strife
With only deeds both kind and good to man;
For even though one does the best one can
It falls short of the mark. This world is rife
With those who would put forward their own case
Of how they've earned a home with God in heaven,
And argue that they're sure they should be given
An everlasting personal resting place.
Alas, the purity of God demands
A perfect life of total righteousness.
No man can claim a life of sinlessness,
So finds himself in God's avenging hands
For he is just; but mercy too is part
Of God's domain and his forgiving heart.
Of God's domain and his forgiving heart
Is mercy granted, though it's not for all,
But is reserved for only those who call
On Christ, admitting that they had no part
In their salvation. His great sacrifice
Has paid in full the price that God requires
To save a soul from hell's eternal fires:
His death and resurrection shall suffice.
But many yet still do not see this boon;
And many seem to be afraid to tell
A dying world that all is far from well.
And opportunity shall pass too soon.
Days seem too few to spread this truth sublime;
How fleeting are the years which span our time!
The cries of pain and grief are in the street
Amid the death and rubble of the town,
With old and young, by sword and gun, cut down,
Where cruelty and satanic actions meet.
We ask, with saints of old, "How long, how long,
"Before your mighty hand shall bring to nought
"The cruelty and injustice which is wrought;
"Before, with justice, you avenge this wrong?"
The offspring of the servant girl remain
At enmity with all the chosen line;
Yet, somehow, by a long decreed design,
These things are all a part of God's domain.
This world is hastening to its ordained end.
Divine decrees man cannot comprehend.
Consider the immensity of space,
The canopy above beset with light
With sun by day, then sparkling jewels by night;
And with his word God holds it all in place.
Consider all God's care for his creation;
The air we breathe, the strength for every day;
His mercy far and wide thus on display;
For all are blessed without discrimination.
But greater than his mercy is his grace
He showers on all those he calls his own,
Who from eternity are named and known,
For whom Christ died, and took their sins' disgrace.
His universal mercy shall not last,
But grace goes on when time and space have passed.
Sonnet for The Friends of The Library
Variety in style and form again;
Expression of events and thoughts of two
Reflective aging raconteurs, and who
See fit to share such verse of two old men.
Each one has his peculiar way with words
And demonstrates an individual skill
For sharing scenes of life, both good and ill,
Thus giving pleasure that such change affords.
E'en so there are some things which have not changed,
Remarkable the service there has been
When Library's Friends once more have set the scene
Of drinks and nibbles wonderfully arranged.
Respond with thanks! The least that we can do;
Kind wishes then from us, the poets two.
Some think the journey should take precedence,
As if the destination doesn't count;
Take in events of life, which quickly mount,
Absorb its varied sights and incidents.
And why not? For this world is full of new
And never-ending beauties to explore,
No matter what we've seen, there is yet more;
Of all the sights and sounds, we know but few.
There is a time to keep the goal in sight;
A place in heaven is its own reward,
To lose such treasure one can ill afford;
This journey, though, is not our choice of right.
The path is set, man does not have a say;
The Son of God—he is the only way.
No one is free from trials which life brings,
Those trials which are common to mankind,
By which the course of life is most defined.
The harshly-spoken word so quickly stings,
Obstructions too may thwart our plans and schemes,
The ways we most desired have not worked out,
And confidence is gone; replaced with doubt,
Then all we seem to have are shattered dreams.
But is this all from life we may expect?
Is there no more than striving constantly
With each and every unknown vagary
Of life? We sometimes wonder and reflect.
But faith in God can calm the path of man
God has decreed before the world began.
God has decreed, before the world began,
With wisdom which we cannot understand,
The course of hist'ry, which his sovereign hand
Must bring to pass, as there is but one plan.
For he is sovereign, and against him none
Can bring a scheme, and hope by such to thwart
God's set decree; and so against him nought
Can stand, for always shall his will be done.
But mankind does not have that wider view
From where God's fixed eternal plans were made;
A blinkered scene is what man sees displayed;
Small wonder man may think there's no way through.
But Jesus says, to mankind so distressed.
“Come all to me and I will give you rest”.
“Come all to me and I will give you rest”:
Such sure and certain words from Christ the Lord,
And words that all mankind can ill afford
To cast aside, by which they may be blest.
These words of truth came from the lips of one
Who only spoke the truth; from one who said,
“I'll rise again,” and came back from the dead:
Thus proof enough, the power of God's Son.
And from the Christ of all omnipotence
Comes such an invitation to receive
A rest from Him for all who would believe;
To rest with one who knows and cares makes sense
Of what our life and death are all about,
And burdens one may carry with some doubt.
The burdens one may carry with some doubt
That what one understands may be unsure,
That beyond what one knows, there may be more
Which plays a part in how each life turns out.
Who can foresee the unexpected turn?
Or what disasters may yet lie ahead?
There is no crystal ball which may be read,
No glimpse into the future one may earn.
But certainty is offered for all those
Who place their trust in Jesus, sovereign Lord,
Whose perfect love is infinitely broad.
The child of God rests in His care, and knows
It's one of those inconsequential things
That none is free from trials which life brings.
What if the day be difficult and long?
What if the spirit flags beneath the load?
And when the journey's on an unknown road
Where does one turn among the trampling throng?
So in the world, when turmoil seems to reign,
Where plans, both small and great, go unfulfilled,
And life itself runs counter to what's willed,
Where best of human effort seems in vain
Rejoice! It's Jesus Christ who sits supreme
Above the storms and tragedies and strife,
And sets the limits of each turn of life;
For he is Lord above each human scheme.
But greater is the joy, when, lastly blest,
The child of God shall know eternal rest.
To let the thoughts in contemplation run
And stay apart from all the busy flow
Of life's events, and, as they come and go,
To let them have their own course, one by one,
Is not the way that most would spend their time.
For all too often busyness waylays
The thoughtful, quiet hour to clear the haze
Of life; a recommended paradigm.
For meditation on life's deeper things,
Away from all the tinsel's gaudy lure;
And thinking then on what is rich and pure,
Is worthwhile for the value that it brings.
But meditation's peak shall surely be
When focused on God's glorious majesty.
Since man is made to move towards his end
(That end, it seems, not many wish to face
When death shall take each in a cold embrace)
He fights in vain against this deadly trend.
His body then lies buried deep in clay,
No longer shall it know its earthly toil
For it, now hidden in the dank, dark soil,
Disintegrates and slowly rots away.
Now torn apart from its eternal soul,
A God-intended union marred by sin,
The outcome of rebellion deep within;
But could it be restored, again be whole?
Inglorious as this earthly body is,
To glory Christ shall raise all who are His.
Amazingly inconsequential stuff
Flung far and wide across the social net,
And how it's used is anybody's bet.
Commencing oft with comments off the cuff
Expanding then to senseless repartee,
Becoming users of a user's hours;
Or yet abusing social media's powers.
Ongoing gossip, all for all to see.
Know this, that once it has been spread abroad,
Cast carelessly into ethereal space,
You may have consequences then to face;
Not sure if some is kept, or some ignored.
In fairness there are times it has some use,
Contrasted with its rubbish and abuse.
For Kim Scarborough
How quickly have these fifty summers passed
As days and weeks have melded into years.
Perhaps, at times, the path was paved with tears;
Perhaps, at times, too long days seemed to last.
Yet not all things were burdensome to bear,
For many are the memories which we hold
Immeasurable, more valuable than gold.
Forgetting bad, it's good we like to share.
The path we tread some might put down to fate
In order to explain where we are now,
Except that really does not tell us how
The path of life has reached its present state.
Have faith in God for he directs our ways;
Know this; he has a plan for all our days.
Can one bring back to life that which was dead
In which the pulse of life, now mute and still,
Has ceased its vibrant throb and left the chill
Of lifelessness and hopelessness instead?
The fight is lost, and all the clever art
That man has at his beck and call cannot
Reverse what is mortality's end lot,
Although it may give flagging hearts a start.
But even so has nothing new been made
For who is there to win back what has ceased?
Enlivening cold flesh of man or beast?
But bringing life from nought is power displayed.
For that is what Christ does to save a soul;
To make what never lived, a living whole.
“Enough, enough”, the sated vision cries,
As tear filled orbs observe, but wish to see
No more the pain which wretched tyranny
Imposes where its dreadful torture lies.
“Enough, enough”, the wasting frame now moans,
With patience and endurance sorely tried
And craved relief repeatedly denied,
But suffered with unspoken tearful groans.
This path of life has bitter twists with age;
In ignorance the travellers journey on
Not knowing when the hardships shall be done,
Not having any rule with which to gauge.
There is so much we do not understand,
But yet we know our times are in His hand.
When I look back across the span of years,
Which are a part of my allotted days,
There is so much which readily portrays
A self led spirit where the praise of peers
Was given much more weight than godly things.
The rebel from within from days of youth
Has fought a constant battle, but the truth
Of God absorbed has curbed my wanderings.
It matters little what the weight of sin;
To take a life, or only steal one cent;
All grows from man's heart's evil bent;
Free grace of God makes sinners clean within.
I see so much to give my Lord due praise
When I look back across the span of days.
The Mind of Man
Inventiveness and abstract ways of thought
Set man above the instinct of the brute
Whose natural drive is given to pursuit
To satisfy survival which is sought.
But man, with his sophisticated mind,
Pursues the how and structure of his world;
From the minutiae to planets hurled
Around their suns, and all else he can find.
But all must fall within the measured span
Of that which may judged by rule and gauge,
Explained by mathematics on a page,
And comprehended by the mind of man.
The mind of man cannot explain the “why”;
The ways of God, for man, are far too high.
And if this goodbye kiss should be the last
Of countless goodbye kisses we have shared,
I should not say I was not well prepared
For signs were there to see these ten years past;
And if a mutual hug should be no more,
The last time that we hugged now been and gone,
Togetherness come single from now on,
A changed life to be lived, not known before;
And if I heard no more, your sobs at night
Where pain became far, far too much to bear,
Gave sympathy alone, but nought to share
To ease the suffering of that lonely plight;
I'll know the sadness of the loss and grief,
While you, at last, shall welcome sweet relief.
There was no room among the gathered throng,
For some secluded quiet place of rest
Where one young girl, a late arrival guest,
Might give birth to her firstborn child ere long.
So there, in poor surroundings, was the King
Of all creation born in human form;
Omnipotence now having to conform
To boundaries that humanity would bring.
And mostly, Jesus still is pushed aside
And giv'n a lowly place, or else ignored
In favour of the life which crowds applaud,
While those who follow Him, the throngs deride.
How bleak the future for all those who chase
The things of time, not giving Christ first place.
And is a diamond jewel enough to show
A bond of sixty years of heart to heart?
So long ago, a young and carefree start,
But how we've shared that bond and seen it grow.
And how the Lord has blest us through those years
With temporal and family blessings, both
Come from the hand of God; we would be loth
To look elsewhere for all our smiles and tears.
For He alone has guided, His right hand
Has strengthened us and held us up through all
The challenges of life, lest we should fall.
His love for us we cannot understand.
These sixty years themselves, a great reward;
But greater since we walked them with the Lord.
In Retrospect I
In looking to the near or distant past
And seeing what regrets are left behind,
Perhaps a twinge of sadness there we find,
Perhaps a wrong impression has been cast.
There, well meant good intentions have been missed,
Perhaps a loved one did not understand
That such omission surely was not planned.
And misconceptions need to be dismissed.
So how can one support a saddened soul
And put aright suspicions so misplaced?
By giving love with soul to soul embraced,
And love so shared may make the hurt one whole.
But still there lingers doubt, perhaps both ways,
That love may not be known as in past days.
In Retrospect II
Apologies may not suffice to prove
There was no harboured discontent expressed,
So gently seek a way which would be best;
A way evoking mutual trust and love.
A quiet voice in sympathetic lilt,
A listening ear to seek the other's view
May lead to understanding something new,
And thus ensure the feelings are rebuilt.
For love is such a deep, but fragile thing,
So much enjoyed, but also quickly bruised;
To be protected, cherished, not abused,
And guarded for the joy that it can bring.
Although, to love, may mean a risk of heart,
How dry the soul where love has played no part.
How often man will strive for that which brings
A quick return and gratifies desires.
Perhaps to fame and fortune he aspires;
So spends himself amassing earthly things.
He strives so much for that which cannot last.
And these are things which never satisfy;
Distractions from the truth, and they deny
The call of God before man's time has passed.
But God has put eternity in each
And every soul of man that walked this earth.
Why choose the path of short-lived wealth and mirth
When God's eternal life is within reach?
And yet some choose the market futures trade
Above the greater future God has made.
Now threescore years since first we both took flight
Upon a new and unknown walk of life,
As then we made our vows as man and wife
To share what lay ahead though out of sight.
But this path lies within a greater sphere:
The pilgrimage of life which is our lot;
And each of us is given one brief shot
At what we do with life while we are here.
But life itself is such a tiny part
Of all eternity's great timeless realm.
Such concept is enough to overwhelm
The comprehension of the human heart.
But God has put eternity into
The heart of all mankind, no matter who.
And since this vast unending sense is placed
So deep within the heart, within the mind,
'Tis little wonder man can never find
Fulfillment from this world's decay and waste.
For transience shall never satisfy
The soul that feels infinity of need;
For certainly, at times with fleeting speed,
These temporal things will fade and wilt and die.
So squandering this life of time and space,
Of passing by the opportunity
Of making ready for eternity
Is losing that which one cannot replace.
We cannot tell which day might be the last
And precious opportunity has passed.
And now Oh God, we give you all the praise
As we look back across these sixty years
Of walking with you Lord. There are no fears
As we approach the end of earthly days.
By grace you have supplied our earthly needs,
By grace you fed the body and the soul,
By grace you satisfied and made us whole,
By grace you've let us know your mighty deeds.
And now we know that soon these days must end,
That shortly shall this journey be for one,
And fearing not that travelling days are done,
For Jesus is our Saviour, Lord, and Friend.
By faith we know our future is secure,
By faith we know this journey's end is sure.
We cannot know the glories that await
For those who are the children of the King
Of all creation, and we cannot bring
The slightest gift to justify our state.
For Jesus Christ and He alone has paid
In full the debt of sin which we incurred
When on this earthly journey we have erred,
And, oftentimes deliberately, have strayed.
These brief few years we spent in earthbound life
Have served to show the weakness of our ways;
But glorious are anticipated days
When we're removed from Satan's snares and strife.
Our hearts cannot conceive the joys in store
Of journeying with you for evermore.
The Scarlet Thread (1)
'Twas but a small and trivial thing to do,
To heed a word a messenger had said,
And tie a simple twisted scarlet thread
To seal the safety of the chosen few.
There was no gallant show of arms or force,
No rushed or urgent planning then to flee,
But just obey, and wait, and watch, and see
Salvation that was promised in due course.
Don't take the action we may think is best
When God commands; 'tis better to obey
For He alone ordains the perfect way;
Our trust in Him is thus put to the test.
'Twas not the scarlet thread which saved the day,
But willingness to faithfully to obey.
Is this the hand I once held with delight,
The hand which had a soft and youthful touch,
Responding with a squeeze that meant so much
That long ago, but well remembered night?
It is, but years of work have left their mark;
The evidence and wear of family love
Is held within each wrinkle and each groove;
The early flame, now oft a feeble spark.
The hand I hold today conveys a wealth
Of understanding only years can bring;
And there I feel that constant golden ring,
But change has overtaken us by stealth.
We once had all life's youthfulness to share;
Now youthful love has grown to agèd care.
Vivacious, and with flowing auburn hair
All throwing specks of sunbeams round her head;
Enchanted by each flashing copper thread
The youth surrendered to that vision there.
And as they travelled daily on the train
A casual conversation grew to be
Relaxed with more familiarity.
'Till, came a day, he looked for her in vain.
As years had passed he'd searched each corridor
Not knowing how long he might have to wait.—
She sits beside him now, a quirk of fate,
With casual conversation, nothing more.
His early vision, ever young, had stayed;
He recognised her not, now stooped and greyed.
We are bombarded with a myriad ways
Of trading or investing, and in which
We can so soon become immensely rich:
A life of ease for our remaining days.
And many are consumed with Mammon’s gain,
For what they gather never seems enough;
They constantly seek more of this world's stuff,
So satisfaction sought is all in vain.
But godly wisdom takes another view,
For God alone supplies our every need
And trusting Him is treasure rich indeed;
Alas it's found by only very few.
When we respond to this life's final call
We'll take nothing, but rather, leave it all.
Time Given; Time Taken
Life's time is given in a single serve:
An unknown span sliced from eternity;
A small allotment with no certainty;
A precious gift the owner should conserve.
For some, this life's desires are all their dreams,
They cannot see beyond the here and now,
Short-sighted, they won't see that all must bow
To God, the Judge, who discards selfish schemes.
But suddenly the years have quickly flown;
The things which once seemed far ahead are now
A distant memory, one wonders how
Life's plans were lost that seemed engraved in stone.
God gives the years, years which are earthly bound;
The wise man seeks Him, while He may be found.
The dried brown speck lies hidden in the earth,
An unassuming dot one scarcely sees
When hidden in a stand of forest trees;
But therein lies the spark to give new birth.
It seems inert and lifeless and it gives
No sign of all the coming glorious splendour
Which dormant, unseen life shall soon engender.
The seed seems to have died, and yet it lives.
And likewise, when these earthly frames are done,
And finished with each sad and sordid story,
Those dead in Christ shall rise in new-found glory;
A victory which Christ alone has won.
How different from this dying and decay
To what Christ gives on resurrection day.
Prologue (to 100 Sonnets)
Dear reader here I offer you my thanks
That you should deem this little tome of rhyme
So worthy that it might command your time
To read these words from one of lower ranks.
For I don't write to reach the learnéd halls
Where form and theme are eagerly discussed;
But rather would I offer things which must
Be said before the Judge's gavel falls.
My prayer is that you think not this is odd
That time be spent in contemplating things
Of godly truth, for which all heaven sings;
To give these heed we are enjoined by God.
So friend I pray that herein you might find
Much peace and comfort, for both soul and mind.
Five Sonnets on Micah 6:
Oh man, do you desire that state of bliss
With all of this life's burdens far behind,
With troubles out of sight and out of mind
With personal pleasures greater than all this?
For that is what man seems to make his goal.
He strives for that beyond the journey here;
There live in self-indulgence with no fear
That such might damage his eternal soul.
Some treat life as a living balance sheet,
That at the end good deeds shall far outweigh
The sins and indiscretions of the day,
And therefore gain eternal bliss complete.
But who is it who has the final say?
Who is the one who gives the “Yea”, or “Nay”?
Five Sonnets on Micah 6:
(2) Ways and Means
How can man know if he has passed the test ?
For some have works and others sacrifice,
Some are ascetics, others pay a price;
And which, if any, might well be the best?
How sad to think one's whole life could be spent
In chasing after what has no reward,
Or spending that which one can ill-afford;
Then heaven's lost, albeit with good intent.
But God demands a perfect holiness;
A way of life where everyone falls short
For no-one has a life lived as he ought
As even in the best is ugliness.
Now God has shown the standards He requires,
But earthly man has failed with his desires.
Five Sonnets on Micah 6:
Now God has shown us all that He requires:
That every action be completely just,
And mercy shown, but not because we must,
But rather from our innermost desires.
How easily we walk with puffed up pride
When moving in the presence of the great,
Appearing to be from a high estate
With someone greater walking by our side.
That is not walking humbly with our God
We need to recognise our lowly place,
For He is Lord, and we created race;
He is the King of kings, we earthen sod.
God's peace, for us is far too high a cost,
Our lives must surely be forever lost.
Five Sonnets on Micah 6:
“What God requires”, a simply stated thought;
A harsh imperative, but compromise
May not be entertained in any wise,
For absolute perfection must be brought
Into the presence of the heavenly King.
Not one of us can meet the standard set,
Not one of us in every deed has met
The sinless purity which we must bring.
We search our hearts, find failure, feel the guilt
That selfish pride and attitude beget;
Perhaps we've laboured tirelessly, and yet
It's only flimsy castles we have built.
But “God requires” is not the final word
For “God provides” may graciously be heard.
Five Sonnets on Micah 6:
What God requires must test our every deed,
Intent, and thought that crosses mind and heart.
With searching deep inside perhaps we'll start
To see we miss the mark, we have great need.
But God, the sovereign Lord, has made a way,
Providing for the soul, now dead in sin,
Atonement so a new life might begin,
With His love shining brighter than the day.
Eternal life man strives for, but in vain,
And we are in no place to do a deal
With God, and so we come and humbly kneel
Before the Lord who, in our place, was slain.
This gift of God, for us, is freely given,
He bore the death of sin, we access heaven.
Five Sonnets on Matthew 27:46 (1)
That awful cry of agony and pain,
Which rang out through the darkness, when the light
Had been extinguished like the blackest night,
As Christ, the Lamb of God, was being slain,
Is more that man can fully understand.
For who can plumb the depths of sacrifice
That Christ alone could pay, which would suffice
To satisfy what justice must demand?
“My God! My God!”, that cry which pierced the gloom,
Then, “Why have you forsaken me?” rang out.
Those watching knew not what that was about;
Just one more victim going to his doom.
It was the cry from Jesus' breaking heart;
Eternal Godhead rudely torn apart.
Five Sonnets on Matthew 27:46 (2)
Eternal Godhead rudely torn apart!?
A cry which echoes through the halls of time
Comes from the lips of one who knew no crime,
But felt the pain of judgement's deadly dart.
“My God!”, He cried—His God was still His God,
Though He must bear this agony alone.
Through ages past this path of pain was known;
No comfort now from God's judgemental rod.
The holiness of God could not abide
In fellowship with man's black sinful soul.
To pay the cost of sin, His final goal;
To win back to Himself a perfect bride.
Though pain of body some might bravely bear,
The anguish of the spirit brings despair.
Five Sonnets on Matthew 27:46 (3)
The anguish of the spirit brings despair.
And, “Why have You forsaken me?”, then told
That Godly fellowship He knew from old,
Was gone; the ugliness of sin laid bare.
There was no God to whom He now might turn
For strength in this, creation's darkest hour;
But there, alone, would show His love and power
To give to us that which we could not earn.
It was for us, God laid our sin on Him,
So that the righteousness of God be ours.
Thus we have entrance to those heavenly bowers:
Inscrutable decree of Elohim.
Forsaken by the Lord is spiritual death;
Salvation offered: more than life or breath.
Five Sonnets on Matthew 27:46 (4)
Salvation offered—more than life or breath,
But offered to a fallen race of men,
And each becomes a heavenly citizen,
Accepting Jesus' substitutionary death.
He knew the answer to His dreadful cry;
But when the blinding holiness of heaven
Confronted Him with all sin's judgement given
That human soul in him demanded, “Why?”
Then from that gloom triumphantly was heard;
(For victory was accomplished on that cross
As Jesus' work redeemed man from his loss,)
And, “It is finished!”, His triumphant word.
But even so, our sin had left its mark;
We cannot hope to plumb those depths of dark.
Five Sonnets on Matthew 27:46 (5)
We cannot hope to plumb those depths of dark
Emotion which the Son of Man went through,
For only He was fitted to pursue
The path to heal where sin had left its mark.
For He, who from eternity had known
Nought but divine perfection’s holiness,
Felt in Himself the weight of man’s distress—
Forlorn, forsaken, voiced that ghastly groan.
For somehow on that day the fellowship
Of God the Father and the Son was torn
As at the cross the weight of sin was borne,
And forced that cry from Jesus’ dying lip.
On our behalf we hear it yet again,
That awful cry of agony and pain.
Looking Back; Looking Forward
When I look back across the years now past,
A lifetime's journey very close to done,
Recalling this life's conflicts, lost and won,,
I see the hand of God in all this vast
Expanse of possibilities traversed,
For He has led in unexpected ways.
At times through life's impenetrable haze
There through the gloom, His ray of hope has burst.
And now, with little time that lies ahead,
The unknown pathway surely has no fears
For in the hands of One who holds the years
I could not be more surely, safely led.
It's one more part of His eternal story;
The promise to receive me into glory.
Grace and Mercy
God does all things in His own sovereign way,
On His own terms, and asks no outside aid,
Depends upon none else that He has made,
So His omnipotence is on display.
Man's puny power and efforts fall far short,
Exposing his great inability,
Revealing innate incapacity
Concerning things of heavenly import.
Yet God has shown a way in which He might
Grant saving grace and mercy through His Son,
Restoring fellowship with anyone
Acknowledging their natural, sinful plight.
Cling close to Him throughout these earthly days;
Each moment giving heartfelt thanks and praise.
We have no rubric telling time or place,
Nor is there guidance given how we might
Express the praise and glory, which is right
To offer up to God, so full of grace.
But we, His children, have our names engraved
Upon the palms of Him, the Lord of all,
Who made us for Himself that we might fall
In humble adoration. Though enslaved
To Christ, He holds us by a bond of love
For all of life throughout these earthly days;
A heartfelt duty then to offer praise
To Him, and thus, our dedication prove.
So may we strive, with grateful heart and soul,
To make our praise to God, our earthly goal.
With ignorant inventions of the mind
And vain imaginations that are rife,
Man takes upon himself to bless his life
Embracing thoughts which leave the truth behind.
For in such flights of fancy he invents
Angelic attributes beyond belief;
Some concepts quite complex, but others brief—
No truth, but all imaginative sense.
But truth is there are angels all around,
Ordained by God, and nothing sinister,
But rather, with his love, they minister
To all in whom is God's salvation found.
And we, His children, thank the God of heaven:
Through angels is beneficent care given.
Weighed In The Balances (1)
There comes a time when we must give account
Of attitudes and actions through our years;
Is holiness in profit, or arrears?
To understand such truth is paramount.
An honest look within reveals the debt,
The yardstick of His word is out of reach,
Perfection's standard far too high, and each
Of us now harbours sadness and regret.
Do we relate to patriarchs of old,
And do we really share the psalmist's thought,
Or take to heart what the apostles taught,
Or Jesus' life and words, worth more than gold?
Please come, O Lord, refresh my blessings cup
For by your scale, I do not measure up.
Weighed In The Balances (2)
To be found wanting, what a consequence!
When man has lived this life and breathed his last
The day of opportunity has passed;
All truth shall be revealed with no pretence.
Then judgement shall be made before God's throne;
And some shall be found wanting, falling short
Of God's set perfect standard, clearly taught;
But He, the righteous judge, will know His own.
For there shall be a few who pass the test,
A few whose lives are shown blood-washed and clean,
A few, who by Christ's sacrifice, are seen
To have God's welcome to eternal rest.
His chosen ones, through Christ, have no more blame,
Ascribe to God the praise due to His name.
There are those times when solitude is prized,
When busyness of life shall not distract
From mulling over every godly fact,
And hence the soul be freshly energised.
It’s not enough to see the ripened fruit
Suspended full and sweet upon the stalk,
But taken in, absorbed, it does its work;
And meditation helps the Word take root.
Do not neglect the health of one’s own soul
And set aside sufficient time each day;
Allow that living word to have its say
As meditation plays its vital role.
And may my soul not be found poorly fed;
But richly blessed, with Christ its living head.
To be accepted may fulfil a need;
Part of community, not left alone.
And sometimes, just by numbers, is it shown
That one has popularity indeed.
For ‘friends’ and ‘likes’ are measures of success
With many just a name, but never seen,
And doubtful satisfaction that may mean;
But gives a deal of comfort, ne’er the less.
And many strive to satisfy the soul,
To gather with those who are of like mind;
Accepted by companions who are kind,
Where each one understands another’s goal.
But greater than the best that man can find
Is that acceptance which our God designed.
In God’s beloved is acceptance real,
Acceptance in God’s sight is great reward,
Acceptance through the work of Christ the Lord
Means I, a sinner, have been made ideal.
But when I look within I find there’s nought
That in itself is worthy of God’s care,
For self and sin by nature would rule there
And things of God would scarcely get a thought.
But, Oh the wonder of that Godly grace
That mortal sinners, objects of His love,
Are cleansed and given power from above,
And chosen to come into God’s embrace.
And what, but give Him glory, give Him praise
Ought we to do in all our earthly days.
What confidence, my soul, to face each day
And know our times are safely in God’s hands,
That each and every one of life’s demands
Need not give rise to worry or dismay.
But even so, this earthly form is weak,
Too often the affairs of life press in,
And in the midst of all the worldly din
We may not hear the voice of comfort speak.
But God our refuge, and abiding place
Is, in Himself, our place of quiet rest;
A home, secure, far better than the best
That man might find, for God’s own chosen race.
My soul, dwell in security and peace,
For God’s abiding care shall never cease.
You walked along our garden path today
With shuffling step and slow unsteady gait,
I saw how time has changed my lifelong mate,
Degeneration wasting cells away.
Gone are the days when walking hand in hand
Expressed the romance each of us then knew;
Connection: you with me and I with you.
Anticipating days then not yet planned.
We still hold hands when walking down the street,
But now our hands are held in tighter grip
To guard against a sudden fall or trip,
A legacy of those uncertain feet.
I asked myself, “How near the end, how near?”
And, unobserved, I shed a silent tear.
The conflicts of this life shall yet persist
While ever man resides upon the earth;
Self-interest is embedded at his birth
And thoughts of God are constantly dismissed.
The enemy within would have his way
And human nature, with its evil bent,
Would seek to fill our lives with wrong intent,
Desiring to corrupt and lead astray.
But God has promised power to stand fast;
Not from ourselves, by nature we are weak,
But in His strength, obedient yet meek,
We may resist where e’er sin’s net is cast.
May I, like Joseph, ever turn and flee
When subtlety of Satan stirs in me.
Unless the vessel rides the savage gale
And comes victorious through the stormy swell,
Unless she wins and knows that all is well
She cannot prove the strength of mast or sail.
For with the driving wind the timbers groan
From pressure of the canvas swollen full;
And were it not for such a testing pull
Her innate strength could not be fully known.
So must our faith be tested by life’s trials,
For in those times of testing strength is proved,
And as faith grows, foundations shan’t be moved
Where strength from God rebuffs the Devil’s wiles.
When faith in God assuredly is placed,
With confidence the trials of life are faced.
It’s not for us to know God’s chosen child,
Who is elect from all this worldly scene.
His sacrifice can make the foulest clean,
For Him, there’s none too bad, there’s none too wild.
And Jesus Christ himself has prayed for those
While they were ignorant of love or prayer;
The reprobate, rebellious with no care
For things of God, while living as His foes.
But from eternity these are elect;
Are chosen in Christ Jesus for His own
Who, not by us, but only God are known.
We ought show love to all without respect.
And by our life, or speaking face to face,
We may be blest to see His work of grace.
The world holds class and rank in high esteem;
The ruler and the ruled both know their place.
Perhaps a demarcation due to race
Will set in place a nation’s social scheme.
Some lord it with a dictatorial air,
While others grovel, hopeless in the dust.
And some will satisfy their greed and lust;
And some will always live in dark despair.
But in the end is neither gain nor loss
That comes from having high or low estate,
And no advantage that one might create,
For all have sinned, no life is free from dross.
No difference lies between the serf and king,
For none has any righteousness to bring.
God holds our class and rank in disregard,
For all these worldly things shall pass away.
Achievements and possessions on display
Are worthless as a paradise pass-card.
We cannot rustle up the entrance fee.
The best we can produce? Like filthy rags.
Our goodness? No one boasts and no one brags,
There seems no hope then for eternity.
But God has made another race of man
Where all are equal ’neath His lordly sway,
And worldly values all are cast away;
All one in Christ, according to His plan.
Praise to our God for all that He has done.
His invitation beckons everyone.
But sadly many do not see their need;
Self-satisfied with all their life’s success,
They proudly gloat on all that they possess.
Eternal things are never given heed.
And those of lower class may not accept
A lack of comfort, this world’s goods, or fame,
And, angrily, ascribe to God the blame;
An attitude they’ve harboured, grown and kept.
It’s just the humble, those who will admit
Their need of Jesus Christ, and cast aside
The value of the world and personal pride
Who have their souls with heavenly glory lit.
Man’s pride and unbelief shall bar the way
To heaven’s realm and God’s eternal day.
When all my days have reached their final score
And all my earthly strength has ebbed away;
When living matter has returned to clay
And I shall know these worldly things no more,
When all the heartfelt tears have long been shed,
And eulogies, deserved or not, are done;
The voices fallen silent one by one,
Those last goodbyes have finally been said,
What legacy remains of all these years?
Too often were ambitions spurred by pride,
Or selfishness would readily misguide.
But God, in love, has allayed all such fears.
For He has taken all that I have done,
And turned it into glory for His Son.
All through the ages it has been the same;
A nation tells that which will bring delight,
Events which show it in a rosy light,
Those things which bring great glory to its name.
The facts, at times, are twisted or distorted,
And propaganda masquerades as news;
And dictatorial leaders press their views
With wins applauded, losses not reported.
The Bible though does not exalt our race;
It offers man no glorified selection;
The sinful soul is seen from God’s direction.
It’s God, by far, who justly holds first place.
The Bible’s exposé of man is true.
To God alone is praise and glory due.
The child of God walks calmly in the wake
Of God’s completed storm of punishment,
For Jesus Christ has suffered what was meant
That sinful man himself should justly take.
For him the storm has passed, the landscape gleams
Refreshed and pleasant, flushed with new-born life.
But those outside of Christ must face the strife
And consequences of their godless dreams.
So would you yet be warned of wrath to come
And shelter in the work of Jesus Christ,
Or be deceived where Satan has enticed,
And to his lies and crookedness succumb?
The storm of God’s wrath is a certainty;
To Christ alone might sinners safely flee.
Oh child of God don’t drop your guard, the foe
Of godly souls is ever wide awake,
And seeking what advantage he can take
Whenever any saint is feeling low.
For we are weak and struggle through each day
And apt to fall if in our strength alone,
And life has proved we are so failure-prone,
For in our strength we are an easy prey.
So let not pride convince us that we hold
The weaponry to counter Satan’s thrust,
Ah no, to stand successfully we must
Allow the Spirit’s working to unfold.
Take heed, my soul, and watch (lest I should fall),
And stand in Christ alone, my all in all.
Lament For Our Times
How small in all the vast expanse of space
This muddy sphere on which our race exists.
Yet man, with self-important pride, insists
That he is master in this worldly place.
He likes to think that he can make the rules
And seeks to supersede eternal writ;
Discards God’s holiness, and thinks that it
Is only for some poor outdated fools.
But God shall judge those pandering to lust,
Who say that right is wrong and wrong is right.
They live in Godless darkness black as night,
Not knowing that God’s purposes are just.
Society is rotting from within.
How long before God judges blatant sin?
Burning Question (1)
Now some would preach that we are saved by grace
In part, but we must also add our own
Good works, and therefore say that Christ alone
Could not achieve salvation for our race.
But how much more does each one need to add
To that which Jesus Christ called ‘finished, done’?
Would my good works, when gathered one by one,
Be quite enough to balance out the bad?
How could I know if my best efforts paid
The shortfall left by Jesus’ sacrifice?
Thank God, my Saviour fully paid the price
And restitution was completely made.
We don’t contribute; His work is complete.
We bow in humble thanks at Jesus’ feet.
The hour had almost come, the fateful day
Had now arrived when judgement would be passed,
The powers that be would have their way at last
And evil men would have the final say.
Or so they thought, but they were not in power.
In ignorance each merely played the part
Ordained by God, and with a blinded heart
Not one could see the truth in that dark hour.
For Jesus was the prisoner standing there,
The Son of God who, by His word, had made
All things created, thus His power displayed.
Man’s puny power was subject to His care.
Man’s so-called power did not control events,
But Jesus did, by His omnipotence.
The Lamb of God stood silent, not a word
Was spoken in defence of unjust lies.
To some it may have come as a surprise
That never any wise reply was heard.
For it was known that never had a man
Replied with such authority (to those
Who constantly set themselves to oppose),
As Jesus did fulfilling God’s great plan.
But now was no reply which should be made.
As He, the sinless, was made sin for us
That we might have His righteousness, and thus
By Him the price of our sin would be paid.
His selfless sacrifice would satisfy
The just demands of God—we shall not die.
But Who Are We?
But who are we to profit from such gain?
We, who by nature have rebellious souls,
And started life by chasing personal goals
While treating godly things with some disdain,
Must surely be attracting godly ire.
For all our best works count as useless trash,
And judged by God will be just worthless ash
When earthly things are burned with holy fire.
But God, in His great mercy, has decreed
That His elect, through faith in Christ shall be
Made righteous now for all eternity,
And therefore from both sin and death be freed.
All those who turn to Jesus shall be saved;
He breaks sin’s chains which had us all enslaved.
It might be thought the schemes of evil men
Achieved success and brought God’s plan undone;
That truth had lost and wickedness had won,
That Satan’s power had been victorious when,
On that first Easter, Christ was crucified.
His three years’ preaching now seemed all for nought,
Establishment dismissing all He taught,
And Jewish leaders feeling satisfied.
But no, this followed God’s eternal scheme,
Each step of life so perfectly fulfilled,
Down to each drop of blood so cruelly spilled
Which made for man a saving, healing stream.
It was no accident that Jesus died.
By this His chosen ones were justified.
The posturing and threats from rogues in power,
The show of force and great display of might,
Parades of thousands, an impressive sight,
A missile ready in its launching tower,
All calculated to instil respect
Or even fear in those who might engage
In combat in this shrinking worldly stage;
A show of godless human intellect.
But God sets bounds on leaders and on kings;
He raises whom He will, and brings them down;
From nobodies to those of great renown,
He is the sovereign of all earthly things.
At God’s word nations rise and nations fall;
How futile that a man would show such gall.
The Scarlet Thread (2)
The scarlet thread hung stark against the wall,
That ancient city wall of dusty stone.
And was it feasible one thread alone
Could save some as they watched the city fall?
When all around was chaos and destruction,
When death and terror pressed on every side,
When helpless victims had nowhere to hide;
Safe were they who followed God’s instruction.
And now the world, not just a city, waits
For God’s appointed coming judgement hour
When He shall show His mighty cleansing power
Destroying all the evil that He hates.
But on that final day around His throne,
His chosen ones, secure and safe, His own.
Healing and Pain
The healing path is often one of pain.
The scalpel’s wound at times must needs go deep
When cure is not a superficial sweep.
The measures taken must not be in vain.
For if the festered sore has taken hold,
Unchecked it could promote a fatal turn;
We choose the painful way that we might earn
A few more years, more precious now than gold.
And so it is with sickness of the soul,
The malady is rooted deep within.
We know not where or how we might begin,
But Jesus Christ alone can make us whole.
We may feel sadness and a hurting heart:
Chastisement always has a painful part.
We blindly toss this word of love around
With no clear meaning, or real depth of thought;
Perhaps fulfilment of our pleasures sought,
Or where our satisfaction might be found.
For selfish is our so-called natural love,
And all too often substituted just
As a replacement for desire and lust,
And far from what is given from above.
For real love comes from God of highest heaven,
A love which gives, and not for selfish gain;
A love which is prepared to go through pain;
That love from God alone so freely given.
The love I have from God is but the start;
Lord, feed it with your love and fill my heart.
Burning Question (2)
“What do I do?”—a valid question posed
From one who contemplates eternal things
Who, like us all, must face the King of kings,
To whom the work of Christ has been disclosed.
For in a world of all things bought and sold
One might expect to make some recompense.
Salvation though is free, there’s no expense
For that which is more valuable than gold.
Through Jesus the transaction is complete,
Redeeming souls which otherwise were lost;
And with a gift the giver bears the cost:
His cost, our gain, supremely bittersweet.
What is there then to do to gain reprieve?
Just simply now, on Jesus Christ, believe.
Prayer For Revival
Oh Lord we pray to see your mighty hand
Work miracles and change the hearts of men,
That citizens might turn to God again
Throughout our nation, in this failing land.
We hear the cry of voices loud and long
From those who would have goodness overthrown,
And wish to have it, if the truth be known,
Suppression of the right, and call it wrong.
Lord strengthen now your people at this hour.
From smallest to the greatest we must stand,
But in your strength alone and, by your hand,
We pray our lives would show your mighty power.
And dare we ask that leaders’ darkened hearts
Be lit with truth that only Christ imparts?
I pray I might not seek the world’s applause
Nor hanker after praise of mortal men,
But humbly live these last few years, and then
Be satisfied with living for God’s cause.
And thus I ask that I might not be seen,
But rather Christ who, by His grace divine,
Ensures the life I live is His, not mine,
That Christ be known where ever I have been.
I may not stand and lecture to a throng,
Nor preach in a cathedral’s vaulted space,
But sharing one on one and face to face
I might be seen as fearless and strong;
Though not as one in mortal fleshly frame,
But one who has upheld the Saviour’s name.
You Did Go Gently
There was no rage, no rage on that last night;
The night that came with setting of life's day
When eyelids gently closed, and no more they
Would open onto this world's dying light.
The wisdom of this world tells not the whole,
Deeds of the good have not sufficient weight,
The wild, perhaps, have sealed an awful fate,
The grave, perhaps, fear something for the soul.
With wisdom, yes, but outside this world's ken,
And goodness, but imputed from on high,
Not wild, but restfully prepared to die,
And gravely you embraced the truth; so then
It was with gentleness from this world's night
You took your leave and entered Heaven's light.
The currency of life seems such small change
Compared with the immensity of space
Where myriads of worlds are held in place
By God’s own word; and yet, it is not strange
That such a one should know each strand of hair
Of each and every one whom He has made,
For so is His omniscience displayed;
From macro to the micro has His care.
The God of all creation, large and small,
Is sovereign over all in every way.
He knows the course for friend and foe each day;
He cares about my every rise and fall.
Oh the peace to rest in such a one,
Whose saving work for me is finished, done.
The Battle Is The Lord's
The armies of the enemy will cry
And thunder with an ever loudening voice,
While seeking to quash any other choice
Than that which they would want to magnify.
But they attempt impossibilities
In wanting to destroy all godly truth,
Which many saints have proven from their youth.
How worthless are their vain hostilities.
We know their weakness, for they are but man,
And powerless to hurt the cause of God;
And He shall rule, as with an iron rod
When He reveals His frightening judgement plan.
So saints take heart, for evil shan’t prevail
The battle is the Lord’s, He shall not fail.
Burning Question (3)
Where saving faith, in Christ alone, is found,
Old life is gone, and in its place the new,
With works done from a different point of view,
And not just works, but good works now abound.
For this new life is not the natural kind
But rather supernatural and God-given,
With its desires, not from earth, but heaven;
Enlivened by a new and Christ-like mind.
Just as each saint has been before ordained,
So are the works which each is set to do.
They are the fruit, the normal outcome through
The love of Christ, with which we are constrained.
And may our lives not be just empty talk,
But glorify Him in our daily walk.
Light and Beauty
There’s beauty in the world with style and form,
And shape and colour of exquisite blooms;
There’s rugged beauty where a mountain looms
Majestic as it stands firm through each storm.
The world around may bring each soul delight
When contemplating such created things,
From those in dust to those on soaring wings;
But all is darkness where there is no light.
And darkness, too, reigns in the human breast,
Resulting from the ugliness of sin,
Which shows no beauty coming from within.
Is finding beauty there a fruitless quest?
Ah no! for shall the soul of natural man,
When lit by Jesus, show God’s beauteous plan.
A promise of itself cannot fulfil
The concept that its message might convey.
It might be empty words just thrown away;
Deception, and with no intent of will.
So is the promise maker’s purpose pure?
Or does he have the means to carry out
The offers made, with not the slightest doubt?
The outcome from a man is never sure.
But God, from whom all power emanates,
Is never lacking to fulfil His claim,
Consider then His might and holy name,
The certainty of meeting His dictates.
With trust in Him out spirits should be stirred,
For God is always faithful to His word.
The fear of man indeed may bring a snare;
The artful orator with cutting word
May cleverly ensure his case is heard
And ridicule a counter concept there.
And some might be persuaded to comply
(By pressure and coercion from the crowd
Who cry with vitriolic hearts unbowed)
With ideals they would never wish to buy.
But Christian, in these days in which we live
The battle is becoming more intense,
And worldly-wise there may be some expense,
But all we need is ours which Christ shall give.
Proclaim with boldness faith in God our King
No matter what affliction that may bring.
Prayer for The New Generation
With saddened apprehension now we see
The serpent in the garden once again
Infecting many of the sons of men,
Persuading them to godless anarchy.
And how far will the sovereign Lord permit
This ancient asp to ply his twisted trade
Before his lies are openly displayed
And truth reveals such dark satanic wit?
But while we wait and watch this fiendish flood
We pray that faithful servants shall proclaim
God's truth, and Christian parents do the same
To little ones, our newest flesh and blood,
Who may then early give themselves to Christ
That He might guard them from the Devil's heist.
The Same Old Question
“Now did God really say?”, the question posed
To our first parents, at the dawn of time,
Whose unbelief then led to that first crime,
And entrance to their paradise was closed.
And, “Did God really say?” was asked once more
When godly men stood firm for saving grace
And gave the truth of scripture pride of place
In spite of trial and persecution sore.
So, “Did God really say?” we hear again,
A question put to shake our way of life
And challenge God’s ideal of man and wife;
A challenge from the hearts of godless men.
So Christian, stand against this swelling tide
Which wants to push God and His Word aside.
We Two_1 (A Slanted Acrostic)
The path that we have travelled on as one,
The choices and experiences we’ve shared
Took many turns which found us unprepared,
But much of what we’ve aimed at, we have done.
With age has come a close appreciation
Understanding one another’s views.
Amusing, we might find a situation;
Assonance, not discord, we would choose.
And now a phase of change still lies ahead;
Our physical ability has waned,
But close support is what we’ve learned to give,
And not alone, might we now walk instead
In closeness hand in hand, for much is gained
From mutual aging, sharing how we live.
We Two_2 (A Slanted Acrostic)
Great names have echoed down through history’s halls
Awarding their recipients with fame;
Their stories often glorify their name,
Identified perhaps with battle calls.
But adulation seems to pass some by
Who blacken busy hands with daily grind
Whose beauty lies in care for every cry;
A ‘giving, caring’ attitude of mind.
And one is here described who sacrificed
Her many years in serving those she loved,
Where often personal needs were put aside.
A heroine, a woman not enticed
By selfish dreams, her calling stood unmoved.
A wife, a mother, unsung, but my bride.
Oh, Lord may I not carry hurtful thoughts
Against a mortal who has done me wrong;
For who am I to sit above the throng
Of all mankind, who constantly distorts
The godly image in which we were made;
For none of us is righteous, no not one.
Against a holy God is evil done.
By sinning man’s revolt is thus displayed.
We neither seek revenge nor hold a grudge
If living with God’s Spirit as our guide,
Forgiven from that holy wounded side,
That sacrifice of Christ, my Saviour, Judge.
How little is the worst I might forgive,
Compared with your great grace which lets me live.
Where Are You? (1)
The first recorded question from the voice
Of God to man, now fallen from his place
Of privileged fellowship; and in disgrace
Since yielding to temptation’s sinful choice,
Was, “Where are you?” Rhetorical of course,
For God omniscient is quite aware
Of state and place of all, no matter where.
But man now had to answer, with remorse.
This question is still asked of everyone,
‘Where are you?’, and again man wants to hide
For sin has meant God’s peace is now denied.
In body, soul, and spirit, we’re undone.
By nature we are far from heaven’s gate;
Accept the work of Christ, our advocate.
Where Are You? (2)
The Christian’s walk is full of traps and snares
For Satan fights to win back what he had
And of his schemes, for him, none is too bad;
Deceit and lies to trap us unawares.
And even with our godly armour clad
His cunning craft will search for any chink,
Oft starting with the mind and what we think,
To nullify what e'er defence we had.
Dear soul, I pose the questions, ‘Where are you?
‘Secure in God, our fortress and our rock?
‘Or lingering too close to Satan’s flock?
‘Not seeing what is false and what is true?’
Abide in Christ the Lord, our strength and shield,
His mighty power shall keep and never yield.
‘Call On Me’
An invitation from the Lord who made
The heavens and the earth and all there is,
An invitation made with promises
To see more of His majesty portrayed.
Well might we praise Him when salvation’s new,
The joy of knowing Christ our Saviour lifts
Us to great heights as we enjoy His gifts.
Yet we, with prayer, can know a deeper view.
We may not know His fellowship like John,
Or have the revelations shown to Paul,
But still, believers are enjoined to call,
For, ‘Call on Me’; that word now still lives on.
So call on Him with earnest seeking prayer,
His word has untold wonders to declare.
Dark sin lies ever crouching at the door;
A savage beast to strike at any hour,
A roaring lion seeking to devour,
And always with an appetite for more.
Or as a subtle serpent, lies in wait
To ambush an unwary passer-by,
As webs entrap an unsuspecting fly,
Or as a fish is hooked on tempting bait.
But we, as children of our heavenly King,
Are called to watch and stand firm for the Lord,
For Satan will attack with word or sword;
But he shall not survive God’s winnowing.
We are not ignorant of his devices,
Walk safely with the Lord, whose strength suffices.
There are those times when circumstances press
Contrary to our best desired plan,
Remember though, these may be thoughts of man
And therefore tinged with with natural selfishness.
How hard it is, when evil seems to be
About to claim the day, the time, the place,
And bring upon the righteous some disgrace;
But Satan shall not have the victory.
Do not be anxious in an evil squall,
For God alone determines history’s course;
Against Him all is but a puny force.
Unrighteousness shall ultimately fall.
For God does reign supreme. There is no doubt
The lamp of wickedness shall be put out.
Why would I sit in silence in my room
And meditate on what I had then lost?
Or seek to live in never-ending frost?
A pitiful object in glum, grey gloom.
Why would I slink behind a fast closed door
Lamenting inescapable events
Which had destroyed a lifelong bond? and hence
What once we had shall now be nevermore.
And why indeed? Though tears of grief would flow,
They would be mingled with a heavenly joy,
For earthly things have only short employ;
Eternal things we there shall fully know.
To be with Christ, the One whom we adore
Is great rejoicing, now and evermore.
What if tonight you slept, and slept your last;
My soul is there the slightest doubt within
That you would meet your Maker, free from sin?
Or else would you confront your guilty past?
While some ignore this and in darkness grope
Their way though life without a heavenly thought,
There are some who have not been clearly taught
And so are troubled with uncertain hope.
My soul, rest in the peace that Jesus gives.
For like the saints of old, with confidence
You know the One who is your sole defence
You know that your Redeemer surely lives.
I surely love the lover of my soul,
For He has made me perfect, made me whole.
The trials and tribulations of each day
Are what the Christian pilgrim should expect.
This world is set against all God’s elect,
Its prince is ever active in the fray
And lion-like is seeking to devour
Each one who has defected from his realm.
He constantly attempts to overwhelm
The child of God with all his evil power.
But in this conflict we are not alone,
For Christ, our champion, holds the victor’s crown;
His work is done, in glory He sits down
By God’s right hand at His majestic throne.
Although on earth our troubles never cease,
In Christ, our Saviour, we are promised peace.
From sovereign God is good and evil sent
To try each one who journeys on life’s way,
And mortals have no right to then gainsay,
Or question what Almighty might have meant.
Now most who walk this earth do not realize
That God decrees each trial man might fear.
And those who have God’s strength shall persevere,
But those who are not His will criticize.
For by such troubles godly faith is tried,
And as, when fruit is pressed, the sweet juice flows,
So faith is strengthened and each virtue grows
When tribulation travels by our side.
For God ordains that each one needs be pressed,
And worthy faith shall surely stand the test.
Rhetoric and positioning for power
Are prevalent no matter where we turn,
While one on one, or nations try to earn
Their little piece of glory for an hour.
And even in religion there is rage
As man-made thoughts contest supremacy;
But being far from truth, this fallacy
So sadly shows the errors of our age.
But those who come to Jesus know His peace
While all such turmoil rages overhead.
This tumult coming from the living dead
Shall come to nought; in God’s time it shall cease.
The peace that Jesus gives brings rest and calm,
The soul so blessed has no cause for alarm.
Toward The Sunset
The sunset now lies not too far away.
The daytime busyness has ceased and shows
The slowing down of life; the flowers close
Their coloured petals, spread throughout the day.
Then, swallowed by the darkness of the night,
Their very being and the place of toil
In which they lived, their little patch of soil
Where they once bloomed, are hidden from our sight.
But then shall come the dawning of the day,
A new day as has never been before,
Where God’s own light shall shine for evermore,
His beauty and His glory on display.
To walk toward that sunset with our guide
Who is our Lord; what could we ask beside?
A Rejoicing God
Our God is ever ready to rejoice,
And well might we concur with such a thought
As beauty all around which He has wrought
Would surely help to raise a praising voice.
But this is not what stirs His godly heart,
Nor yet the artistry of gifted man,
For such conform to His creative plan;
From His great power such is the easy part.
No, God rejoices over those redeemed,
Those whom He has made righteous at great cost;
All whom Christ saved, who otherwise were lost
Who, blessed in Him, are evermore esteemed.
This saving God, and only as He could,
Rejoices over them, to do them good.
Epilogue (to 100 Sonnets)
These foregone lines express the thoughts of one
Who has been blessed and called as God’s elect,
And thus rejoices, as one might expect,
In sure and certain blessings when life’s done.
For man’s main purpose is to glorify
The great creator God, and then enjoy
His fellowship, which nothing can destroy,
Forever; truth which one cannot deny.
My prayer is that your soul be richly fed
In contemplating here the grace of God,
His holiness be better understood.
For godless man is but a living dead.
God’s word is truth, we need to know it well
So we, with certainty, can share and tell.
Bridges Or Walls
The stones a mason uses show his art
And by his hand, conform to some design;
Perhaps to build, with curved and arching line,
A bridge; perhaps a wall to keep apart.
Now building blocks are neither good nor bad,
They have no conscience or a moral code,
But in the builder’s hands the structure showed
The intent that the skilful mason had.
Our words are building blocks we use each day
And we might build a bridge or build a wall:
A loving hand in answer to a call;
Or else rejection and just turn away.
The way we use our words can curse or bless,
What is the message that our words express?
For seasons now, too many to recount,
With burdens borne, some greater and some less,
Support was all too small, but nonetheless
I’ve had to stand and watch the hardship mount.
The frailty of the flesh is plainly seen
In simple things, like living day to day.
When is the point in time which takes away,
And leaves a space where once a life had been?
For sadness must inevitably strike
And break the bond forged by the passing years,
And bring with it a flood of soulful tears
Affecting all, both old and young alike.
I cherish moments while these days shall last,
For all too soon shall precious things be passed.
Elect Of God
Now here is grace specifically applied:
That Christ should bless whomever he would choose
And such are safe, for he will never lose
A precious soul for which He once had died.
And God is not a man that he should change
The least part of His ever set decree.
The Saviour died so His elect are free;
His righteousness, our sin; a great exchange.
So Christian have no doubt, you are secure;
To be elect of God is privilege high,
‘Twas His election caused our helpless cry.
We don’t hold Him, His hold on us is sure.
Fear not to dwell upon this lofty thought
With trouble is it learned, yet plainly taught.
Take note, my soul, if doubt or even dread
Blots out the brightness of your Christian walk
And brings such hesitation that you baulk
At each and every obstacle ahead;
Or if you feel forgotten and alone
When answers are withheld in time of need,
Remember that the Lord is bound to lead;
His promises and truths are surely known.
For God has said He has us on His hands,
And not a surface mark, but deep engraved;
Not just your name, but you yourself, His saved
With all your faults. He knows. His promise stands.
Therefore, my soul, doubt not and have no qualms
Since sovereign God engraved you on His palms.
How often have I stumbled on this road
And then have felt the pain of deep regret?
How often served a god of self, and yet
Ignored the loss of graciousness bestowed?
How often have I proved my human weakness
Seeking to traverse this path alone?
But slowly learning it is surely shown
That God’s way is obedience and meekness.
Not my way then, but His, my soul take heed,
For superficial satisfaction is
Short-lived and leads away from God, but His
Way, close to Him, shall meet my every need.
Lord, cleanse me day by day, my heart renew,
And lead me day by day to walk with you.
At times we might be burdened with ideas
Of tasks we see and think that should be done,
And feel defeated ere work has begun,
Or hopelessly are too far in arrears.
But better to keep all such at arm’s length
And tackle what lies close within our sight,
And not imagination of what might
Be done if only we had time and strength.
For God has set the tasks for each to do;
We ought not dwell on what is not our call,
But rather, for His glory, give our all
And in obedience see His service through.
For He will give the strength to do His will;
While us, His chosen vessels, He shall fill.
A Journey Shared
With what shall I compare these recent years
Where circumstances have been strange, unique,
And unexpected turns caused us to seek
Some answers to allay the growing fears?
It seems that all must travel their own road,
Discover for themselves what lies ahead;
For all the hugs and kind words that are said
Cannot completely lift the traveller’s load.
So there is nothing that one might compare
With this rough track we travel now-a-days.
But even as we’re peering through the haze
Along this path which leads to who knows where,
We cling together through each twist and bend,
With love and comfort to the journey’s end.
In These Times
Society prefers the self-made man;
Prefers to think that God is in the way,
That such a concept now has had its day
And even seeks to legislate a ban
To push the church and things of God aside.
For in these times, and with increasing measure,
There is arrogance and selfish pleasure
Greed, rebellion, treachery and pride.
Such godlessness is destined for defeat
For God is not some fancy of man’s mind,
But reigns as sovereign over all mankind;
Will show His power when history is complete.
Oh, man of God, look up throughout these days,
Be not entangled with such worldly ways.
No Other Way
What can describe those awful final hours
Which Christ endured when His humanity
Was burdened with the stark reality
Of that great death which rightfully was ours?
Where martyrs have God’s presence in their trial
Sustaining them in such a time of need,
Christ bore the wrath of God that He might plead
For us whose sinful nature is so vile.
His humanness would seek another way;
His godliness submitted to God’s will,
Then ancient prophecy He would fulfil
And triumph over death on that great day.
There was no other way to pay that debt;
In Christ alone our greatest needs are met.
Music Of The People
These sounds were born in sad and mournful souls
Which found expression with the music made.
Each voice, or by the instruments they played
Laid bare the burning hot emotional coals.
Variety in form was often rare,
Enabling free ad-lib for those who knew.
By having such a scheme the chosen few
Articulated music all could share.
Revisiting a pattern so well known
Became the means of camaraderie,
Led by the words and tunes their history,
Untold before, would now be sung and known.
Each line then leads a further telling part;
Supplies the message of a suffering heart.
Arise And Depart
“Arise, depart for this is not your rest,”
A call, when heard, that cannot be ignored
For this command was spoken by the Lord
To His own people, thus would they be blest.
This world is not our home, it is defiled
And by God’s judgement, destined for destruction;
For by and large man rejects God’s instruction
And by the prince of this world, is beguiled.
With eyes fixed on the goal that lies ahead
We journey now through this life’s toil and tears,
While waiting for that call these passing years.
“Arise, depart,” calls Christ our living head.
This world of woe is but the stepping-stone
To heavenly bliss; far more than here we’ve known.
The Garden Muse
Surrounded by the sounds of rustling leaves
In solitude, and with close garden views,
I wait in contemplation for the muse
To visit in the quietness, as would thieves.
This private space can take the mind away
From day to day concern of mundane things
As there one hears, from every bird that sings
In cheerful song, a beautiful display.
The writing desk, a stump of kurrajong,
Surrounded by a curtain of new growth
Where inspiration or hard grind, or both,
Result in yet a few more words ere long.
It is no grand, majestic bardic chair,
But on a log the muse will meet me there.
This land now moves towards a godless waste,
The envoys of the worldly prince deny
Time-honoured truth, exchange it for a lie
And seek to have God’s moral law replaced.
But such decline, unfettered, surely must
Invite God’s judgement on this ailing land.
How long will He withhold His mighty hand
From pride-filled creatures only formed from dust?
There shall be found some who will make a stand,
Proclaim the bible’s message loud and clear
And face the angry critics without fear,
Who speak such truth should it by law be banned!
We may be forced to choose 'twixt man and God;
We may yet tread the path the martyrs trod.
Contemplation Of God
Take time to contemplate God’s attributes,
His sovereignty beyond all time and space,
His holiness, His majesty, His grace,
Unchanging in His certain absolutes.
Supreme in every way sets Him apart
From us, but lowly creatures He has made.
His glory and His strength shall never fade;
While we decay and feel death’s fatal dart.
And yet He has ordained that we might know
Some part of this incomprehensible
Majestic God who is accessible
To any who consider Him, and so
We who have finite minds, might understand
A little of the breadth of His command.
Sovereignty Of God
The sovereignty of God stands over all;
From paths and being of each world in space,
Down to the orbits that electrons trace,
And places where the smallest raindrops fall.
There is no circumstance or world event
Which does not move to suit his set decree,
For he ordained the course of history
Which man can neither thwart nor yet prevent.
The child of God can therefore be assured
That every step of life is in God's hand,
That every detail moves as he has planned;
Both blessings and our trials come from the Lord.
But he has promised strength and shall sustain
Each one of his elect; such truth is plain.
The journey of a lifetime is unknown
To everyone throughout their fleeting years,
The unexpected oftentimes appears;
From catastrophic to a stumbling stone.
Temptations to confront, or times to serve
And share the gospel news with fellow man
Demand preparedness, an action plan;
Ability to stand and hold one’s nerve.
Then last—an invitation or a threat—
“Prepare to meet your God”, is clearly heard,
And fear or joy is conjured by that word.
Our deepest needs in God through Christ, are met.
The mariner prepares and spreads the sail,
But God alone provides the needful gale.
How can we understand the holiness
With which the beauty of our God is shown?
Unique perfection which is his alone
Both moral purity and separateness.
This chief perfection colours all the rest;
Such purity adorns each attribute
And shows a glory which is absolute.
By such is God’s own character expressed.
What hope therefore for mankind born in sin?
God’s holiness is all that we are not.
His wrath and judgement surely are our lot.
And yet, by grace, a new life can begin.
For we are called to holy separation,
Imperfect now, but part of his new nation.
He did not own a rambling country spread,
With vistas stretching over hills and vales,
Or forests which could tell a million tales
Of ancient people who were long since dead.
There was no place to wander through the trees
In contemplation where one might renew
A flagging spirit when the day was through,
Or solitudinous in reverie.
But in a small and close suburban street—
A modest home, a tiny plot of ground—
A quiet garden corner could be found
Which hid amongst the shrubs, a rustic seat.
And there amidst surrounding verdant views
He frequently would sit and meet the muse.
The lengthened shadows signal coming night,
They but suggest each once familiar shape;
And so this path, from which is no escape,
Now leads unknown into this fading light.
The heart of blood, with beats at times so wrong,
Is staggering to meet its heavy load;
But yet we have some cheer, for on this road
The heart of love continues full and strong.
We do not know what lies around each bend,
We do not know which vale might be the last,
We do not know how soon our days are passed;
We do know there is life beyond the end.
Our memories? shadows of what’s been before;
Our blessings? shadows of what is in store.
The Unrehearsed Script
She’s playing from a script I haven’t seen,
With unexpected thoughts expressed and said;
Then suddenly she seems to lose the thread
Of where one thinks the topic might have been.
The actors now have need to stay alert
Responding to these strange ad-libbing strands,
And carefully reply to these demands;
Supporting, but avoiding any hurt.
These unfamiliar twists and turns of thought
Are unrehearsed as we perform this play,
And there might be a new rôle every day
As characters we’ve neither seen nor sought.
With diligence to this dynamic script
My cup of care must be so softly sipped.
Those wanton weeds, those shoots and stems of sin
Which all too easily take ready root
And subtly yield their crop of worldly fruit,
Would dull our memories of godly kin.
For Christ himself, with loving exhortation,
Instituted that remembrance meal
That we, his children, honour this appeal
Remembering him with heart felt adulation.
Is this possible? Forget the one
Who never forgot us, who hung and died
That we might thus become his chosen bride?
Yes, best intentions are so oft undone.
Hence, “Do this in remembrance now of me.”
Lord please imprint this in my memory.
Dear Thorley, what a debt of gratitude
I owe to you for that invested time
You spent discussing metre, form, and rhyme
With one who felt his own ineptitude.
For surely such discussions bring a gain
To fill those real or maybe reckoned gaps.
Our philosophical divide perhaps
May yet come to a common held domain.
And there is too a common thread of life
As both of us, through duty’s loving care,
Know what it is to face the reaper’s lair,
Supporting each a soul-mate and a wife.
The value of a mentor and a friend;
I wonder if we really comprehend.
See now how great a debt we have incurred.
The gloom and darkness which resides within
The natural man, a consequence of sin,
Has sadly left the godly image blurred.
That image which had set mankind apart
From all else in the realm of God’s creation
Was marred when man despised his privileged station;
And sin became entrenched within man’s heart.
Now mud cannot be cleaned with yet more mud,
And so is our iniquity within
Incapable of cleansing any sin;
But God has made the way through Jesus’ blood.
The son of God has satisfied the debt,
In him alone the sinners’ needs are met.
I sought a place where I might weep alone
As clouds of sorrow hung low overhead,
For closely I could see life’s fragile thread
Had almost lost the love so long I’d known.
I sought a place where there might be a friend,
A traveller, who had passed this way before.
He offered, from the pain which once he bore,
Kind sympathy, but gave not sorrow’s end.
I sought a place where I might weep alone
Except for just the presence of the Lord,
And there I found the one who would afford
A greater love than I had ever known.
Here was great comfort, more than I had sought,
For through my tears my Lord is my support.
The supermarket busyness went on,
It waxed and waned throughout the trading day
With all the current bargains on display
Until the bare trays showed that they were gone.
And students on the school days there consumed
Their early morning dose of drinks and chips
(Already some had much expanded hips),
But some would eat more carefully, one assumed.
We sat and sipped our beverage once a week
While greeting the familiar passers by,
And chatting at a table, eye to eye,
Would give each other’s poetry a tweak.
The coffee shop has let its lease run out;
Our Friday inspiration is in doubt.
On Reading Some Modern Sonnets
I read anew to yet refresh my mind.
What is it that these poets have to say?
What is there to illuminate my day?
And is there any guidance one might find?
The thrust of thought might be somewhat obscure;
Perhaps betrays a lack of inner peace,
Or deep concerns of life which seldom cease.
And where their psyche rests I’m never sure.
But I prefer to dwell on truths of old;
Those certainties have stood the test of time
In contrast to the somewhat doubtful stime
Of hope which many modern bards have told.
And though I hesitate to interfere,
It’s better if the understanding’s clear.
At times awake before the sun’s first beams
Have penetrated through a close drawn blind,
And consciousness creeps slowly o’er the mind
Dismissing unreality of dreams,
I set about the morn’s each usual chore.
Attending to the personal ablutions,
Considering what problems need solutions;
And answering the cat one can’t ignore.
But there is one anticipated pleasure
Which surely rates as early morning’s best,
When towelling dry with vigour and with zest
There is a sweetness given in good measure.
I sense a fragrance ere it dies away,
The sunshine on the towel from yesterday.
Youth To Old Age
Enthusiastic youth would have you know,
In spite of inexperience, one can
Solve almost every problem known to man.
It doesn’t need much thought, just have a go.
But practice and maturity with time
Must introduce a cautionary note,
And almost like a saving antidote
Convert ridiculous into sublime.
And now, at last, the wisdom gleaned through years
Has given rise to much more circumspect
Behaviour, and a genuine respect
Of lessons learned at times through pain and tears.
But wisdom is becoming hard to find
In clouded caverns of an aging mind.
Sin is the root of all our human grief,
When life turns to a path we had not planned,
Events we neither want nor understand
Imposed with neither warning nor relief.
For many times we forego personal gain
When man-made plans have somehow gone astray,
We suffer loss when things are snatched away,
Relationships destroyed, we feel the pain.
If only men with God were still as one,
They’d understand that their lives’ tracks were planned
As God has all of history in His hand.
But sin has brought that fellowship undone.
We shan’t traverse this life without a tear
While waiting for our Saviour to appear.
It's Sad To Hear
It’s sad to hear that life is running out
For one whose day of grace is almost passed.
The die for his eternity seems cast:
No certainty, but forlorn hope and doubt.
A life of works is all that he can show;
His works were good, his deeds were kind, and yet
There’s nothing there to bridge the gulf that’s set
Between the Lord and sinful man below.
I plead that he might understand and know
That grace shall come from Jesus Christ alone;
There is no other way he might atone
For sin. His end is now so close, and though
One fears the unrepentant sinner’s plight;
Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
Death And Life
The worldly see death as a tragic loss
And mostly think on what shall now be missed.
Despairing, they may shake an angry fist
At God, or maybe place a graveside cross.
And often-times the kind words that are said
Are like a mental grasping at a straw,
And try to offer hope, and yet not sure
Of his well-being, for whom the tears are shed.
And yet though life is held in high regard
And cherished with a well-deserved respect,
All those who die in Christ know to expect
A place in glory, perfect and unmarred.
To live is Christ, the Christian pilgrim knows,
To die is gain, his final witness shows.
The joyful celebration for a prince;
Prince George of Cambridge came into the world
With fanfare, acclamation, flags unfurled;
No further speculation needed since
“He’s born to be the king”, has been declared.
But he knows nought of what on him shall rest,
While innocent against his mother’s breast.
His regal office yet to be prepared.
But what of this world’s poverty and war
With suffering and death, distrust and strife
With little care to end a human life?
Could some declare a monarchy no more?
In years to come, again shall this world ring
In joyful celebration of this king?
Love Sonnet For Old Age
The vibrant days of carefree youth have passed;
A summer smile, a toss of auburn hair,
A hint of girlish perfume on the air
All served to tie a knot which wouldn’t last.
Perhaps a few weeks here, a few months there;
Relationships were shallow at the best
For that young love could never pass the test
Demanded of a lifetime two would share.
But then surprise announced itself one night,
A new and more intense heart flame was lit;
And one which has diminished not one wit
Since two lives so committed there took flight.
And now that flame burns low, but rich and sweet,
As years have made the two as one complete.
Standing On The Brink
Your toe was dipped in Jordan’s sullen flow.
That final stream you were prepared to cross
And count all things of time and touch a loss
To gain a prize of which we hardly know.
Your earthly frame seemed set to beat its last.
The breath and life were very nearly fled
From one who had of often comforted
So many on our journey in times passed.
And though we thought the end was very near
You fought a fearless and successful fight
And won the struggle on that gloomy night.
Together still, we cherish things held dear.
You’re not yet taken to the other side;
Anticipating parting, we had cried.
The kingdom was a crucial battle ground.
Invaders sought to conquer and to kill
And spread themselves so freely and at will.
The enemy had entered with no sound.
With spent combatants constantly removed
Such choking work continued day and night,
Resources being tested with the fight,
Survival and its urgency were proved.
The kingdom’s way of life was put on hold
That help from everywhere might be recruited
Using talent where it was best suited;
Rebels must not gain a firm foothold.
Then conflict seemed to swing the kingdom’s way,
But still it had to face another day.
Across the border lay a weak regime,
Depleted from a recent tough campaign.
Could it survive an onslaught once again
From forces which would press to the extreme?
The first offensive dealt a telling blow
And brought the tottering kingdom to its knees
Intensifying suffering and unease.
Survive? Succumb? One could not really know.
But foreign aid was sought and quickly came
With greater skills and more effective means.
The regime rallied; nought of wailing keens;
But bore the scars of battle all the same.
Perhaps a Pyrrhic victory in a way,
For could it yet survive another fray?
With enemies repulsed: a search for peace,
Resources being gradually replaced,
A weakened operation to be faced,
And wanting, from the threat, to have release.
But never can the vigilance be eased,
The foe is ever knocking at the door,
To once again wreak havoc, and with more,
Aggression which can never be appeased.
Such longed-for peace is never guaranteed
As realms like these are subject to attack,
And citizens can never turn their back
While constantly addressing such a need.
This searched-for peace might come at mortal cost,
The day the final battle line is crossed.
It’s not a mighty edifice of stone
With stained glass artwork filtering the light;
The sight of which will often bring delight
To some who seek a calm religious tone.
Nor yet a humble room of brick or mud
Where faithful gather, there to praise and pray.
The church is quickened spirits on display
Who dwell in bodies made of flesh and blood.
Invisible, but real, not made by man;
And persecuted, hated, as foretold,
A new but diverse people in the fold
According to the heavenly shepherd’s plan.
From every class and caste his flock is led;
Christ builds his church, himself its living head.
Christ’s resurrection came through mighty power.
Exceeding greatness of God’s power was shown
When Jesus, having borne our sin alone
At Calvary in history’s darkest hour,
Arose victorious, breaking chains of death.
Captivity which death held over man
Itself now captive to God’s saving plan
And He, again, gave man life-giving breath.
But this time life for every lifeless soul
Who is awakened by the Spirit’s touch
And shares in life removed from Satan’s clutch;
A life with God’s own glory as the goal.
The power put forth which raised Christ from the dead
Kills death, and gives eternal life instead.
The Futile Search
The old rebellious spirit still holds sway;
That spirit which, before the days were made,
Drove discontented angels to crusade
That they, with God, might have an equal say.
For man is not content that there should be
Some aspects of creation which refuse
To fall within the science he would choose
And so explain the world which he can see.
For scientific man will not accept
There is a knowledge far above his ken
That never can the wisest solve, but then,
Compared to God, his reasoning is inept.
The wisest man can never fully find
The works and reason of the Godly mind.
Romance Of The Washing Line
Not driven by the technical machine,
With characterless rumble of the dryer,
Consuming power whose costs are ever higher,
But age old ways persist where may be seen
The simple beauty of the washing line,
With breath of nature blowing through the weave;
The scent of outdoors drying it will leave
On multi-coloured flags, a household sign.
Those flapping symbols speak of homely toil.
And yes, there are the times when cloud and rain
Shall dampen what we saw as nature’s gain,
But such occasions merely serve as foil.
The sweet refreshing of the open air
Is freely had for washing everywhere.
The Christian life is not an easy road,
A battle ground within a hostile world,
For more and more we see his flag unfurled;
That evil author of a vexing goad.
His sole intent is that the Christian walk
Should be opposed and brought to no effect,
Discredit God, and all of His elect,
And all our witness seem like idle talk.
But Jesus’ invitation call is clear;
“Come now to me, and I will give you rest.”
Then with this further call we’re greatly blest:
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come, come here.”
Farewell to these, our constant struggling days,
And welcome into heaven’s endless praise.
For The New Year
The old year, with its highs and lows, has passed
And never shall the same be seen again.
It, like so many, saw both joy and pain:
Events from which each person’s life is cast.
But even so, its story was unique
For no things are identically the same,
Each twist and turn played its peculiar game
And left us feeling either buoyed or bleak.
And now we wait for this year’s offerings;
We’ll tread new ground and walk an unknown track,
But forward, for there is no turning back;
And time shall show us what the future brings.
Accepting of whatever comes our way,
We, with intent, embrace each new-born day.
Almighty God has told us that He reigns;
That from His throne He rules all of creation
And directs the course of every nation.
He has set the time each one remains.
But man, with pride, lauds all of his own deeds,
Acknowledges the plaudits of the crowd,
Enjoys the acclamations, long and loud,
As he tells how he’ll solve his nation’s needs.
Though kingdoms come and kingdoms pass away
The discontent and conflicts still persist;
But proud and self–made rulers still insist
That they have what it takes to save the day.
As yet we’ve seen no global working plan;
How are you doing now, O ‘sovereign’ man?
What do we know of where each step may lead?
We may attain a mountain top of joy
Where, for a while, is nothing to destroy
A blissful state; but also, and indeed,
Our path may wind through valleys deep in shade
With deadly threatenings close on every side.
But there the right hand of our heavenly Guide
Shall take us safely to a sheltered glade.
With trust in him we have no need to fear
For he shall both correct and lead His sheep;
And make a place where they may safely sleep,
For He shall guard whene’er the foe is near.
All through this life we’re cared for by the LORD,
And in the next His blessing is assured.
Exquisite in its beauty and its form,
But fragile in the weakness of its frame;
With colour and with quietness it came,
So delicate, would not survive a storm.
And so it flourished in the warmth and calm,
With nourishment and gentleness of care
From those who so enjoyed its presence there,
And guarded it from uninvited harm.
Fragility was destined not to last.
Inevitable storms of time destroy
An object which so often brings much joy.
Alas, too soon, another life had passed.
Now just the exoskeleton remains
And whispers it has been through dying pains.
If doubt should come upon a mortal’s soul,
Then questions may give rise to some concern
That faith might not be strong enough to earn
A certain place on heaven’s honour roll.
Some wonder if their imperfections might
Stand in the way of God’s great gracious gift;
Perhaps from seeming safety we might drift
Away into a hellish fearful night.
For oftentimes we stumble and fall short
With what we do and how we ought to live.
So are we still secure? Will God forgive?
Take rest, my soul, and dwell upon this thought:
For Christ shall not lose one, He’ll keep them all,
And not the least small grain shall He let fall.
The comings and the goings of each day
Might seem as prison walls when first observed.
A picture which perhaps is well-deserved
As obligational duties now hold sway.
A love which questions neither yea nor nay
Will constantly see pressing needs are served,
And gives all with a care so unreserved;
Neglect is not considered, come what may.
But so the muse has fresh fields to explore,
To journey through a landscape strange and new.
And feelings which it has not known before
Give insight kept for just a special few.
Constraint, like prison chains, shall not be found
Where spirits freely roam—a truth profound.
A place called home, spread by the river’s banks,
Where Flagstaff Mountain overlooks the town.
The Peel meanders by as it flows down
Amongst the townsfolk’s many varied ranks.
Come festival the population swells,
Cacophony of music fills the street,
And crowds move with a line of rhythmic feet,
‘No Vacancy’ on all of the motels.
It’s summer and the days are blazing hot,
Then winter time the biting wind that chills
Blows from the snow that lies on distant hills;
Extremes of highs and lows are all our lot.
All walks and ways of life make up our blend
Where sharing ready smiles can make a friend.
Faith In God
How often shall an introspective view
Bring fear or doubt when facing what life brings.
Indeed, life may be full of unknown things,
While days of certainty may be so few.
Where there is no control, there may be doubt
That one can ride above this life’s events;
Despairingly, the search to make some sense
Might prove to be beyond the finding out.
There is another way. To meet the Guide,
The Sovereign God whose hand steers history’s course
Against whom none is an effective force,
Shall surely cast all of your fears aside.
For He, who shall forever keep your soul,
Can guard and guide while earthly times still roll.
The Coloured Week
Each Monday has its deep blue morning sky
The week awakens to its season’s toil
Then Tuesday, with a lighter blue, comes by
As if it would our consciousness despoil
By mid-week Wednesday all is in full flow
With life around now verdant with rich green.
But strength soon wanes with each life’s ebb and flow
As Thursday comes a drying brown is seen
And Friday’s burnout leaves one charcoal black;
The working week has run its draining course.
Ah, Saturday! Somehow the strength is back
With blazing white, our freedom is its source.
Much needed now is Sunday’s day of rest,
For peaceful sleep, perhaps deep black is best..
The soul, with sorrow, sees this austral land
Slide further and depart from godly truth.
Beliefs which came with first colonial youth
Now fading fast like sketches in the sand.
Our path is not determined by blind fate.
How have we lost the faith our fathers had?
Why moral interchange of good and bad
Where unbelief now quickly turns to hate?
No longer do we have an absolute,
A reference to which ethics should be set;
But anchorless, we’re drifting into debt,
And morally, bankrupt and destitute.
A godless course is but a fruitless quest;
A nation without God cannot be blessed.
To every facet of our lives’ affairs
The pressing needs of daily life intrude;
From those which we deliberately include,
To sudden things which catch us unawares.
And all around events which burden us
Are ever ready to disrupt our days.
The enemy, who lies in wait, waylays
The ignorant, at times with little fuss.
This world is small, and nets are widely cast
Where cheats commit sophisticated crimes.
Technology, a thief’s tool of our times,
Allows intrusion not known in times past.
Of old: ‘Don’t talk to strangers in the street.’
Now: ‘Doubt all cyber data, be discreet.’
Love Sonnet to the Sonnet
Dear Sonnet, both my challenge and my friend,
You have cast o’er me your hypnotic spell.
For I both do and do not seek an end
To sharing these close lodgings where we dwell.
With beauty of your form to be desired
One is transported to a special place
Where new-found thoughts and feelings are inspired
As in a long lost lover’s strong embrace.
But many lines are fashioned with some pain
As your well-set restrictions are imposed.
Yet, with some travail there is had great gain
As hidden inner beauty is exposed.
Oh, Sonnet, may this love affair live long
As we together bring to life each song.
Oh Fickle Heart
Oh fickle heart, how often have you strayed
And brought upon yourself unhappiness,
When in a search for more found only less
Because you let a worldly voice persuade.
God’s promises we know, but do we heed?
We have the truth and say we understand
That every good is given from the hand
Of Him who says He will supply each need.
Why then are you so easily engrossed
With time’s attractions which shall soon be gone?
They make a flimsy structure to lean on.
Such things in but an instant can be lost,
For all these earthly things shall pass away.
Invest in heaven; there is no decay.
A Time of Trial
Oh heart that labours with this lasting load,
Oh love that suffers with your own love’s pain,
Look not for joy, such looking is in vain,
While travelling on this present painful road.
That ancient promise now must be observed,
Made when this far-off future was unknown,
When not a thought was held that flesh and bone
Should fail, and now whose time is almost served.
To cherish both in sickness and in health,
To show a love which sits above such things,
Persisting when the soul both sobs and sings,
Considers having neither want nor wealth.
This is the loving care that must be shown;
This is a journey shared, not walked alone.
Dusk From Paradise Bridge
The day is spent and commerce comes to rest,
This day, once young, so soon is growing old
And fading light gives all a wash of gold.
Beneath my feet the pigeons roost and nest,
And swallows skim the rippling river there
To snatch a tasty morsel flying by
As dusk envelopes all this town, and I
Enjoy the peace, away from worldly care.
Towards the town the lights of night turn on,
The last of daily workers head for home;
And soon the night-life revellers will come;
In haste all cross this bridge, and then soon gone.
Possessed with where they’re going, where they’ve been,
Too busy to enjoy this tranquil scene.
In memory of N.T.
Few are the men who have this wondrous gift:
To analyse and criticise with grace
Correcting and encouraging in place,
And not cast seeming hopeless ones adrift;
But shining light on good and worthwhile things,
To settle oft a timid doubtful soul,
And pointing to an even higher goal,
Enthusing with what further practice brings.
Before a word of what might be a lack
Would be a commendation with a smile,
Correction given gently, and the while
Encouraged to go forward, not turn back.
And many are the players who now share
The benefits of such concern and care.
Death and Life: I
Where now, Oh Lord, is that same urgency
Which stirred in pulpits in the days of old,
When preachers felt the message must be told
While time remained to seek God’s clemency?
We seldom hear the thundering threats of doom—
What horror contemplating holy fire
With all eternity to feel God’s ire—
Why now avoid a message of such gloom?
Were needs more great a century ago?
Words often then had greater import than
Would be acceptable to modern man.
Was never such a need as there is now.
Woe to the man who thinks God may relent,
Who thinks that he is not told to repent.
Death and Life: II
Who thinks that he is not told to repent
Is ignorant of what is in God’s word
Perhaps in these times he has never heard,
Perhaps, though, unbelief is his intent.
For man is challenged by what God demands.
Rejecting God and all that He implies
Avoids the confrontations that arise
From falling short of His divine commands.
But ignorance or unbelief does not
Make any change to the veracity
Of God; but man has the audacity
To make himself the ruler of his lot.
But God eternal ever reigns supreme;
Is sovereign over every man-made scheme.
Death and Life: III
Is, ‘sovereign over every man-made scheme’,
Enough to bring a sense of awe to man?
It should, but he would much prefer to dream
Of glory from the worth of his own plan.
For when almighty God is cast aside
Man thinks to fill the space with self-made power
And possibly reap praise for one brief hour.
A fall shall surely follow blatant pride.
But God is infinite in all His ways
His glory is so worthily deserved
And man’s best works are all by God observed,
And with derision God treats man’s displays.
Idolatry is thus seen at its worst;
Such unrepentant thoughts by God are cursed.
Death and Life: IV
Such unrepentant thoughts by God are cursed,
For God created man for fellowship
With Him, but man rebelled and then let slip
The bond with God which Adam knew at first.
And this despite the warning that God gave
That man would forfeit perfect life and die
Should he consider God’s own word a lie.
But even then God had a plan to save.
For such a God as He demands a pure
And perfect man to share His company
As Adam, ere he spoiled his destiny;
But God foreshadowed at that time, a cure.
Though innocence is gone, all is not lost,
Our sin may be removed, but at great cost.
Death and Life: V
Our sin may be removed, but at great cost.
But cost to whom? For justice shall be done,
And there is no escape; for everyone
Shall see the wrath of God. The game is lost
If man is left to settle his own debts,
For such a one shall surely come to feel
The wrath of God, on him, is very real,
He’ll know forever terror and regrets.
By contrast though, salvation is secure
For all who will admit their soul’s great need
Confess their falling short in word and deed,
Accepting for their sinfulness, God’s cure.
How blest to know eternal life is won;
Though not by man, but Jesus, God the Son.
Death and Life: VI
Though not by man, but Jesus, God the Son
The dreadful penalty of sin is paid,
And, instead a place prepared and made
For those accepting what the Christ has done.
And when the book of life, with pages spread,
Is opened, and its contents are revealed
Those who are named therein are safely sealed.
And Oh what joy to hear one’s name be read.
What lies ahead are blessings without measure;
For we, in Christ are pure, God’s wrath abated;
Joint heirs with Him, and mystically related.
Our fellowship with Him—eternal treasure.
And then to be forever with the Lord,
An unimagined, undeserved reward.
Death and Life: VII
An unimagined, undeserved reward
Is what is truly promised to each saint.
And such a soul shall offer no complaint
Immersed in goodness from the loving Lord.
We cannot fully grasp that heav’nly scene
Where we are clad in garments, sinless white,
And things revealed, which here are hid from sight,
But there dwells man, where God has always been,
Where we at last shall see things in clear light;
For here we know things partly in the dark,
And only lit as by a feeble spark.
That other world shall give us perfect sight.
Where we shall live with God for evermore,
Are blessings which man’s never known before.
Death and Life: VIII
Are blessings which man’s never known before
For everyone who walked through hist’ry’s page?
Those millions who have passed through every age,
Some rich and famous, some unknown and poor.
Are mostly taken up with life’s events,
Consumed with living to improve their lot
With some unsatisfied with what they’ve got;
They search in vain, no matter how intense.
No, most will find God’s blessing’s not for them,
For few there are who choose to turn aside
From drifting with the flow of human tide;
Most seeking for their special priceless gem.
Alas, they find their best shall not suffice,
They miss the gift of God, beyond all price.
Death and Life: IX
They miss the gift of God, beyond all price,
And now the second death, which has no end,
Will be a lonely place, with not a friend
To comfort or support with kind advice.
And here their fatal godless attitude
Remains while all eternity is spent,
Impossible for them to now repent;
No longer can the grace of God intrude.
And suffering man there constantly will curse
The God who has inflicted his distress,
In ignorance of God’s own holiness;
And never shall man’s agony be worse.
And what is it which brings a man undone?
To spurn salvation offered by God’s Son.
Death and Life: X
To spurn salvation offered by God’s Son
Invites God’s righteous wrath to be outpoured
On all those souls who have, through life, ignored
The offer of forgiveness, and now shun
The very things of God, and push aside
The loving offer to remove the stain
Of sin, which consequently must remain
On all who have the work of Christ denied.
It is a fearful thing to fall into
The hands of God, an angry God, who must
Exact the penalty of sin, and thrust
The unrepentant into hell. And you
The reader, hearer, of these words of warning,
Will you rejoice, or be forever mourning?
Death and Life: XI
Will you rejoice, or be forever mourning
When the day of grace for you has passed?
When Jesus comes, or you have breathed your last,
Shall heaven’s glorious blessings, or the yawning
Pit of hell be your eternal lot?
The choice is clear. My soul which would you choose?
God’s call of love is too great to refuse;
Why trade brief pleasure for eternal rot?
Rejoice! Rejoice! My soul can safely rest;
The promises of God shall stand unmoved,
His faithfulness has many times been proved,
Therefore His children shall be greatly blest.
God’s sworn to lead His own on level ground,
Although in this life hills and vales abound.
Death and Life: XII
Although in this life hills and vales abound,
With blessings and with hardships in full measure,
The pendulum may swing from pain to pleasure
But in the midst of all, peace may be found.
For God, who is the sovereign Lord of all,
Still sets affairs of all mankind in place
And in a world so bent on sin, His grace
Will lead us through both sweetness and through gall.
For by such testing faith is made mature;
We see God’s hand at work, and are made strong
Through Christ, who gives us aye a victor’s song;
Befitting for a destiny so sure.
How comforting to be a child of His,
To know His hand is over all that is.
Death and Life: XIII
To know His hand is over all that is,
To know His way is perfect from the start,
To be assured that should He once depart
From such perfection is to go amiss,
Gives every child of His great peace of mind.
So multitudes of promises which tell
Of heaven’s everlasting life, or hell
Which is for everlasting death designed
Most surely would invite, implore, persuade
That all must come to Christ, have sins forgiven;
Or else to endless suffering be driven.
So for one’s soul, what would a person trade?
Here now is life or death, which will you choose?
There is so much to gain, so much to lose.
Death and Life: XIV
There is so much to gain, so much to lose,
The truth of which is largely missed today;
But things of life and death are not just play
And must be made quite clear, and not confuse
Eternal things, for which there is no end,
With worldly goals whose lives are all too brief;
Those worldly goals which offer no relief
To deep soul needs to which all must attend.
The enemy’s distractions now are loud
And try to have the word of truth suppressed,
Which offers those in Christ eternal rest;
But then the judgement of the rebel crowd—
So in this time of such emergency,
Where now, O Lord, is that same urgency?
Since “No man is an island,” penned a scribe,
And everyone is part of all mankind,
The diverse threads of life are so entwined
That even an encouragement or jibe
Shall send a ripple far beyond its source.
But those prepared to act with loving thought
May fill a gap where solace may be sought,
Or share support in sorrow or remorse.
So some shall give, and others shall receive,
And one might well fulfil another’s lack.
To care for others on life’s varied track
May be the service you alone achieve.
One fills a space that might be newly sore;
Another, which was never filled before.
The sorrow of the world shall eat away
At heart and soul of one who has transgressed
And knowing no relief, but more distressed
With disappointing failures of the day.
This sorrow comes from plans which went astray,
Events imposed which were far from the best.
Such irritations which then give no rest,
Unanswered, sadly lead to death’s decay.
But godly sorrow, sorrow for the grief
Which drives a wedge ‘twixt God and sinful man,
Provides a cleansing like no other can,
Where God’s forgiveness brings a soul relief.
This godly sorrow, which is heaven sent,
Shall surely lead the sinner to repent.
What Lies Ahead?
The future we imagine may not be;
The future that has been divinely planned,
A perfect design from a perfect hand,
Shall ever stand, for it is God’s decree.
But often shall a man desire to see
Those things which craving sensuous souls demand;
But, like a message on the wave-washed sand,
Shall disappear with short-lived brevity.
And even though a good man plans his way,
His each and every step is God ordained.
His own plans come to nought the day he dies,
For only those of God see no decay.
And then it shall be seen what has remained
Are God’s decrees, both permanent and wise.
O, fear not death, that scourge of all mankind;
All we who know the Lord are safe in Him,
And even small of faith, with eyesight dim
Are confident of comfort, and shall find
The rod and staff of our great Shepherd are
Sufficient for our every need as we
Leave time and step into eternity
With One who has so safely kept thus far.
Yet often, 'tis not death that frights us more;
For dying may cause anguish of the heart,
The ease or pain with which we shall depart
And journey to cold Jordan's farthest shore.
Fret not about these things, however grim,
But leave the why and wherefore up to Him.
Waiting on God
When should I move ahead, when should I stay?
When should I choose to turn to left or right?
Is every choice as clear as day or night?
Is there, as yet unknown, another way?
Impatience and emotion sometimes force
Directions and decisions made in haste;
And thinking there is little time to waste
We rush into an ill-considered course.
Such times we should, with patience wait until
The Lord Himself will make the next step clear.
But wait in faith and confidence—not fear,
For nothing can surpass His perfect will.
Teach me your way O Lord that I may trust
In you, Eternal God, for I am dust.
No Bardic Chair
The café plastic was no Bardic Chair,
No seat of literate supremacy,
No sign of verséd aristocracy;
But yet wise words were sometimes spoken there.
Not there the victor’s seat, hand-carved, unique
Presented at a Welsh Eisteddfod win,
Where poets running on adrenalin
Would listen as the judges stood to speak.
No, nothing special signified by these,
The mass-produced black plastic café seats,
Except for times a pair of poets meets
Critiquing one another’s expertise.
Perhaps then, for a moment, here and there,
Black plastic emulates a Bardic Chair.
The reference points, the standards have been lost;
Our culture has no more, an absolute.
With long-held values now beyond dispute
So many moral boundaries have been crossed.
No longer are there benchmarks guiding rules,
But arrogance and anger have their say,
And self-desire seems to have won the day;
Alas, it is a paradise for fools.
For some would have the old ways be dismissed,
Now ‘right’ reflects the rantings of the strong,
The weak and voiceless sadly suffer wrong.
But everlasting absolutes exist.
There is a day of reckoning to face;
God’s judgement shall declare the end of grace.
Prepared For Perfection
No sounds of mason’s tools were heard on site,
The shaping and the trimming done elsewhere;
For freshly quarried stones, so rough and bare,
Must be conformed to fit God’s plan aright.
And cedar trees, when freshly hewn and green,
By nature were too crude and unprepared;
So not a craftsman’s single blow was spared
That only fit perfection might be seen.
So wonder not to feel the chastening hand
As we are each prepared for heaven’s glory;
And each one has an individual story
As God prepares us for His heavenly land.
To Him should all our greatest praise be given,
That He should care to make us fit for heaven.
Time and Times
Those ancient circles of the passing time,
The sowing, reaping, seasons’ endless rounds,
Or steeple bells’ recognizable chime
Were certain and familiar sights and sounds.
Repeated until progress broke the form
And time moved from a circle to a line
Where seasons had to know a new-found norm,
And often lost another well-known sign.
But what was great is now repeated small,
These tiny circles turning in a day.
The endless rhythm of the rise and fall
Makes constant movement never move away.
And could a ring be broken once again?
Or is this quiet dreaming all in vain?
The arrows of adversity assail
Each man while on his few days stint in time.
Then all too soon one finds he’s past his prime
And all man’s scheming is of no avail.
The riches of this world? They do not last,
For in an instant they can fly away;
And pleasures, which are fleeting in their day,
So soon become a memory of the past.
Man’s life is like a cask of bitter wine.
Set not your love upon the things of earth,
For here cannot be found aught of true worth.
As well find honey in a sea of brine.
Our final home is not of this domain
But heaven; so a search elsewhere is vain.
The craving to discard this constant load
Reflects a weakness of the human frame,
A struggle to continue with the game
With only losers on this painful road.
Relief may be obtained, but at a price.
How will it end? Nobody really knows;
And shall a lily soon replace a rose?
It is not just a roll of chancy dice.
From here we cannot tell what is decreed,
But that it is decreed is aye assured
For everything is from the sovereign Lord;
And final rest in Him is sweet indeed.
Thus nothing shall surpass His final rest,
Quod Tenowatus Ultimus optimum est.
There Stands On Ashen Soil
The haze that hangs across the distant hills,
The dull and browning smoke that burns the sky,
Trees that were carbonized as flames flew by,
The silent wrecks with blackened window sills,
Are but the aftermath of terror’s reign.
This hungry monster, never satisfied,
Consuming all, and not to be denied,
Inflicting, as it went, great searing pain.
Against this foe, ’tis difficult to win.
The loss of home and livelihood will test
Resolve and purpose of the very best.
But worst of all the loss of kith and kin.
And as a small reminder of such loss
There stands, on ashen soil, a lonely cross.
A Village Servo
A coffee break at last; I saw the sign
Inviting one and all to taste their wares.
Five star it’s not, but only he who dares
Shall savour hospitality so fine.
And two there were who showed their rustic charm;
The blond one, from behind, looked not too bad,
The other, whose nose wine had oft made glad,
Had Elvis tattooed boldly on her arm.
And all the while the locals came and went;
Their roughly spoken words with ragged ends
Together with a cackling laugh, those friends
All made a picture in that time I spent.
Enjoy yourself; the chance of death is slim
From coffee cups with flies around the rim.
These salted streams from reddened rims now flow
And tell of trying times the soul sustains,
Of unrelenting penetrating pains,
Of sufferings from an unrelenting foe.
And thus far experts in their field have failed
To find a countermand for this complaint,
For it would test the patience of a saint,
But nought with which it might be countervailed.
And this is not a skirmish quickly done,
But rather, must be constantly endured.
Alas, it seems, this aliment shan't be cured,
Therefore this battle never shall be won.
And tears shall never flow from lifeless eyes;
The fight is finished when the sufferer dies.
What could he see, that ancient man of God,
As soon he was to lose the light of day?
His spirit now had almost passed away;
Then would his frame be laid in earthen sod.
‘I see it Harry,’ were those words he breathed
To one, a fellow pastor and a friend,
Who waited with him to his journey’s end.
A victory cry his dying words bequeathed.
And death’s dark river held no earthly fear,
For that celestial city’s godly light
Shone from the river’s surface, sparkling bright,
And more so then as heaven’s gates drew near.
I pray that even now I might be blessed
To glimpse from Nebo my eternal rest.
The country side would weep now if it could,
But water is so scarce there’s none for tears;
And heaviness of heart expresses fears
For circumstances vaguely understood.
And some have lost a family livelihood
Passed down through generations and through years;
There’s little that encourages or cheers,
As lush green crops and healthy cattle would.
Until it breaks, all suffer more or less
With different things affecting how we live.
And will the spirit find something to give
Respite? One could try music then I guess.
A nocturne disappointed me so soon,
The drought had dried the piano out of tune.
A Wreath for Wendy
On reading “A Wreath for George Herbert”, by Wendy Cope—English poet.
Dear Wendy, I have read, with some concern,
Your wreath for George, George Herbert saint of old,
Revered his words but missed the message told,
You loved his skill, but there was more to learn.
For, as you rightly said, he loved to play
With words; he made his message rhyme and scan.
And so expressed God’s truth, an honest man
Who boldly upheld Christ, the only way.
He had a faith which trusted Christ alone,
The only One who made a way to heaven,
The only One through whom sins are forgiven;
Through George’s words, the truth to you was shown.
But you have now despised man’s only hope;
Dear Wendy, then, how are you going to cope?
Conversing With Cows
The trombone to the Herefords was new.
The whole herd came towards me on the run
As I played trombone in the morning sun;
And in that field my apprehension grew.
Perhaps they were unsure of what I meant
For I knew nothing of their bovine diction
But there they stood, responding with conviction,
While I could not determine their intent.
But side by side they faced me like a wall.
Now were their steady stares just curious?
Or were they now irate and furious?
For all my notes they answered with their call.
Now that conundrum never shall be known:
What those cows thought of me and my trombone.
In Memory of Elena Nikolaidi (1909 - 2002)
I didn’t have a penchant for the voice
When early music tastes were being formed;
My seeking mind already had been stormed
With things about which I had made a choice.
Elena Nikolaidi changed my mind
One evening more than sixty years ago;
A single concert with the MSO,
Where her rich mezzo sounded so refined.
“Divinites du Styx” then filled the hall,
The orchestra and voice, a perfect blend
Which lifted hearers’ spirits to transcend
The things of time and place, which seemed so small.
But, looking back, that was a one-off time;
I still don’t feel that singing is sublime.
The drought struck hard the man upon the land;
Then bush fire burnt a lifetime’s work away.
A spirit of compassion lent a hand
And drove across this country, loads of hay.
We all observed and thought we understood
That we were witnessing a way of life
That marked the Aussie spirit, and it would
Show care we had for someone else’s strife.
But enter now, the COVID-19 scare;
Another side of nature comes to light
When ugly selfishness is now laid bare;
No love—but satisfy oneself with might!
Society is split, and poles apart,
For some are hard as stone, and some have heart.
We Like To Think
We like to think the best of who we are;
We like to think we’re generous, and care
For those whose treatment seems to be unfair.
Then, for self praise, how high we hold the bar.
When help from near and far comes to the aid
Of every struggling farmer and his wife,
We call it “the Australian Way of Life”,
With such concern so publicly displayed.
But all too often selfishness is shown;
A sad dark part of the Australian psyche.
Don’t feign surprise with hollow cries of “Crikey?!”
And pride would not want such a tag be known.
"Australian Way of Life"? A different type
That does not line up with our boastful hype.
These testing times bring out the best in some,
But others though, descend to baser ways;
Some show behaviour worthy of our praise,
And some, like animals, fight in a scrum.
The strongest, most aggressive get the best
And care not if the needy go without.
To them it’s self that life is all about;
It’s Number One, and disregard the rest.
That godly image in which man was made
Has been distorted now because of sin.
Behaviour comes from what resides within;
So often it is ugliness displayed.
Although, at times, some fit the ideal mould,
We all are sadly flawed, if truth be told.
Man tinkers with a world not understood,
Experiments with what God called perfection.
And does man think he can, by his selection,
Improve on that which is already good?
Perhaps he thinks that he, on centre stage
Can wrest control from our creative God,
But look around, wherever man has trod
There’s trouble and distress in every age.
Is it too late to put God in His place?
(A concept only in the human mind)
For God is sovereign over all mankind;
And that great truth ought everyone embrace.
And God it is, with sovereign word and will,
Whose reign has stood so far, and does so still.
Society, in ignorance and fear,
Not knowing how the trouble will play out,
Not understanding what it’s all about,
Now hope the threat to them will not come near.
But, frighteningly, for some the fight is lost.
Once busy streets are quiet, shops are closed,
And people hiding in their homes, exposed
To nothing, keepng battle lines uncrossed.
But those of us who know the Lord, should share
Our freedom from the terror that death holds.
No matter how this present state unfolds,
We know that we are always in God’s care.
So take this opportunity to tell,
In life or death, our God does all things well.
The Proper Time
Impatiently we often knock at doors
And fret because they still remain fast closed.
The path of life for us is not disclosed;
Perhaps we have concern without a cause.
For many things are not within our reach,
Although we think, from where we stand, they may
Bring satisfaction or fulfil our day.
Repair is no use where there is no breach.
And we have not decreed the path we walk;
Our current state, we rather should address.
With service to the now, that’s usefulness;
Fill time with helpful acts, not idle talk.
Therefore do not be anxious for the morrow,
There is enough today of toil and sorrow.
I have now lived my threescore years and ten
And seen another fifteen more since then;
And though the years have flown, I know not when
This earthly sojourn might draw to its close.
I shall be here until my final day,
Which comes not early, neither with delay;
But in God’s time my soul shall fly away,
At that same hour which sovereignly He chose.
Do not be anxious for each daily need,
But rather in obedience ought we rest;
For worry cannot change what is decreed.
So seek God’s kingdom to be truly blest.
Though life at times will bring a heavy load,
‘Tis Jesus who gives strength along this road.
What drives a man while on this life’s short road?
What are those things which occupy his mind?
Are fame and high esteem a constant goad?
Or is it wealth and power a man must find?
These days it’s self that takes the centre stage;
We’re force-fed from the electronic screen
With lotions to defy the signs of age.
The selfie is the proof of where we’ve been.
But why choose, as a hope, that which shall die
When Christ now offers an eternal goal?
His word is from the God who cannot lie;
In Him we have an anchor for the soul.
O Lord, that this might be my soul’s desire:
Bring glory to your name, with heart afire.
Walking In The Shadows
Deep shade upon the left hand and the right
Suggests perhaps that somewhere shines a light;
But there is neither memory nor sight
If this path leads to where one has not been.
And each decision’s difficult to make,
Not knowing, with each step, what is at stake,
And vainly hoping that the light would break
To show the end and all that lies between.
But such is not the earthly traveller’s way,
For each is an explorer on his own
And none has an illuminating ray,
Just guidelines, where the details are not shown.
With perseverance, reach your journey’s end
By walking in the shadows with a friend.
In The Light
All we who travel through this life’s brief years
Must needs traverse an unfamiliar road.
For the unwary many traps and fears
Will see the ordered plans of life erode.
Not just the many shadows of the day,
But darkness can envelop soul and mind,
And hopelessly so many go astray
Within their own ability confined.
How different then to follow this world’s light.
Believe and live the promise that He gave,
Commit to Him who leads from heaven’s height;
Who knows your path from cradle to the grave.
Don’t dwell in useless introspective thought,
For in His light, the darkness comes to nought.
An ancient poet wrote of real delight;
Delight which satisfies a mortal man,
Fulfills his heart’s desires as nought else can
And pours on him blessings from heaven’s height.
Alas, not all will know this favoured place,
For them, religion cannot be a joy.
They see it only as what shall destroy
The freedom they would selfishly embrace.
But those who truly know God can attest
That He will never fail His promised word,
And boons beyond what has been seen or heard
Ensure the child of God is truly blest.
To be so blest the psalmist has implored
Therefore: “Delight yourself now in the Lord.”
Are we now living in the final days
When, like a garment, worn, thread-bare, and old,
This earth and heaven God’s own hand shall fold,
Discard, renew, and change them to his praise?
For all around we see the foretold signs,
The signs of which apostles clearly wrote,
The signs which man would now do well to note
As morally, our way of life declines.
Society behaving with disgust,
The proud, the boasting and blaspheming man
Replacing God with his own puny plan,
And twisting love to ugliness of lust.
It’s looking like the picture of the end;
But man still doesn’t seem to comprehend.
What is the real concern which fuels the fear
Now in this global COVID-19 day?
Is it that man is worried death is near
And he has no control, he has no say?
Society would like to have the power
To legislate the place and means of death,
And to delay that saddest earthly hour
When each and all shall take that final breath.
But when man has the absolute control
To terminate a helpless one’s life span,
He will abort the voiceless, will not save
Life in the womb; each one a living soul.
Those unborn lives destroyed are greater than
Those lost to this pandemic’s hungry grave.