The Clay Considers

Not much of a reader

Not much of a saint

Have tried meditation

But clearly I can’t.

Walked down that straight aisle

And pledged a fresh start

But memories still haunt me

And torment my heart.

I see the True Vine

But vaguely I guess

Still Jesus you graft me

And promise your best.

Not A grade or B grade

I simply believe.

In night calms you visit

I gladly receive

A touch of compassion

A measure of hope

A burden for others

Who wander and grope

This clay has your purpose

And spins with delight

And feels your caressing

And shaping so right.

 

(Doug Blair)

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Ain’t Gonna Rain No More, No More…The Film Noah: Doing Violence to the Word

I knew that there was controversy.

Genesis 6 “sons of God”, whoever and whatever they were, portrayed as rock-encased Transformers, once angels, employed to build the Ark and to stave off the attacking hordes. The so-called “watchers”. A vicious warlord seeking to gain control of the boat, surviving the Flood and hiding among the animals, waiting for his chance at mutiny. Son Seth’s wife amazingly transformed from barrenness and giving birth to twin girls who were at peril briefly of sacrificial death at the hands of their Grandfather. Son Ham’s near act of patricide. The Patriarch’s total misunderstanding of the role of God’s mercy in the whole episode. His wife’s near rebellion in the stern performance of the assignment, and the pain of two of the sons not securing wives before the Deluge (scripture says 3 sons had 3 wives on board. Genesis 7: 7). All of the creatures on board put to sleep by some strangely potent incense. Malarky.

Just so much fiction. I had not wanted to respond like this. Just another Bible thumper, fastidiously looking for faults. But as the movie progressed I felt literally ill and uncomfortable. Of course the sights and sounds of mass destruction of the human race were heart-rending. (Maybe it was the spicy chicken from dinner?)

Russell Crowe appears disturbingly one-dimensional as the determined messenger of God’s bad news; as the job-site foreman; as the prophet who struggles, with Grandfather Methusela’s help, to get the foreboding visions right. Here a briefer role is given to Anthony Hopkins.

On the good side of things, the scenes of gathering the creatures, of destructive waters coming from every direction and launching the boat, were magnificent. Noah also tells his family the story of Creation and the sinful fall of Adam and Eve, launching the human race into covetousness, self-will and violence. Until late in the film Noah sees his family as no better than the myriads lost in the terrible waters. God simply needs some animal care-takers. “The animals are the innocents.”

But then comes once more that very real Bible theme: “in wrath remember mercy”. The rescued family, holding hands together and praying on dry land, realize their special position in God’s sovereign will and election. There will be a new beginning.

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Hear how Eugene Peterson paraphrases the setting for the story in The Message:

When the human race began to increase, with more and more daughters being born, the sons of God noticed that the daughters of men were beautiful. They looked them over and picked out wives for themselves.

Then God said, “I’m not going to breathe life into men and women endlessly. Eventually they’re going to die; from now on they can expect a life span of 120 years.”

This was back in the days (and also later) when there were giants in the land. The giants came from the union of sons of God and the daughters of men. These were the mighty men of ancient lore, the famous ones.

God saw that human evil was out of control. People thought evil, imagined evil – evil, evil, evil from morning to night. God was sorry that he had made the human race in the first place; it broke his heart. God said, “I’ll get rid of my ruined creation, make a clean sweep: people, animals, snakes and bugs, birds – the works. I’m sorry I made them.

But Noah was different. God liked what he saw in Noah.

Conundrum

There just doesn’t seem an answer
And sleep has escaped these eyes
And prayer hit the roof and fell back
And gray clouds have filled the skies.
But this wasn’t meant to happen
No, faith was to bring the sun
And “blessed assurance” a promise
Reducing all fears to One.
The fear we would ever desert you
Or cause you to frown or weep
But now I am walking this tightrope
Believing you save and keep.
So come Lord in all of your power
And settle this mess I’m in
The Servant must be as his Master
Who went through the worst without sin.

Doug Blair, Waterloo, ON

Note: See Psalm 34

Intertwined, With the Sap Flowing

(Part of a devotional in Our Daily Walk by F. B. Meyer)

…there is Life which is resident in Jesus Christ, stored in Him, abounding in Him, which He longs to communicate to every soul that trusts in Him. This was the witness of those who knew Jesus most intimately in His brief human life–that “God hath given unto us Eternal Life, and this Life is in His Son.” “He that hath the Son hath the Life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not the Life.” This more than outweighs the down-pull of the serf-life. The law of that life makes us free from the law of sin and death, for it has mastered death and the grave.

This Life is communicated and sustained by the Holy Spirit. We must be one with Christ; we must be in Him, as the sponge is in the ocean. We must be in Him, not only in our standing, but also in our daily walk. We must be in Him as the branch is in the vine, and the vine-sap in the branch. And this must not only be a theory, but an hourly experience. We must abide in Him and He in us. But how can this become our daily experience? There is but one way. Through the co-operation of the Holy Spirit, as we walk in Him (Gal  5:16). He is the essence of the Life which is in Christ Jesus. “The Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”

Note: Some other suggestions: 1) Get before Him in silence and wait. 2) Render a service of some sacrificial import to His glory alone. 3) Pour over those Four Gospels, and in a way which notes the continuum of action and the juxtaposition of sayings. (We tend to ignore their cohesiveness and flow.) 4) Sing His name often. 5) Pray to Him about anything. 6) Record briefly what you think He is saying to you and examine how His “comments” work themselves out. 7) Culture a thankful heart…Doug

Sheltered by the River

Have you ever hiked by a river in winter? The cold and haze lay all around like a shroud. The ice grips the flow, seemingly. But here and there the water’s movement breaks through. The hiss and murmer assertively claim life. The ducks congregate. The promise of greater melt-waters comforts the heart. The chill is, after all, only transitory. The snow-laden evergreens wait for spring like indomitable sentinels. The hollow of the water-course shelters from any harsh winds.

River Ducks

A walk by the river in winter
My Father and I undertake.
The bush is all glaze from the ice-storm,
Affording a needed wind-break.
The City with all its white panic
Seems much farther off than in fact.
The Country calls us to adventure,
With lunch and hot drinks duly packed.

We’ve done this before, but in springtime
With wildflowers and vine in the bloom.
But this day holds different promise,
Somewhere in the gray and the gloom.
The trees are bereft of their songsters
Save only one brave chickadee,
Who scolds from his perch in the low brush,
My Father and I cannot see.

Approaching a bend in the river
My Father, with much softer gait,
Binoculars pulled for a sighting,
And signaling me just to wait,
Steps out to the clearing at shoreline,
Where ice has been broken away,
By storm sewer’s much warmer waters,
And ducks are out there, and at play.

The first that I see are just landing,
With synchronized drop, skimming wake,
And greeted by others assembled.
What strange, raucous music they make!
The mallards, mergansers and pin-tails
Who CHUTTER and MUCK and RANK-RANK.
My Father and I are now laughing
In spite of ourselves, at the bank.

He watches their moods and their movements,
Their matchings and sparrings and play,
Their discourse and dunkings and flappings.
My Father’s their student today.
And with insight gained from the outing
Will turn to the woodcarver’s skill,
And fashion remarkable likeness
Of feather and pose, wing and bill.

Now this is the best kind of hunting.
To live and let live is the way.
And trophies we’ll have of the visit,
And memories of this good day.
I may be a teen in a tempest
With thoughts much too awkward to tell;
But here with the ducks and my Father,
I know that he knows me quite well.

 

Doug Blair, Waterloo, ON

Five Rings Blemished

The Winter Olympics. Sochi in the Soviets. Most expensive venue ever…and in a hungry, oppressed federation manipulated by the Mob. Riots, water cannons and death in nearby Ukraine.

Supposedly celebrating the brotherhood of man and the excellence of human conditioning and effort. Controversies about rigged judging, rigged event line-ups. Winning is everything (the silver medalist is a bum).

And what about when it is all over and the gold medalist sits down at age 23 and says “What’s next?”

I must admit that I hold my breath for the Canadian ice dancers, hockey players and curlers. A national thing dontcha know.

But as an international celebration of goodwill it is far, far away from that gathering of tribes ’round the throne in Revelation 5.

Solid

“Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God; and he shall go no more out.” To be as immovable as a pillar in the house of our God, is an end for which one would gladly endure all the shakings that may be necessary to bring us there! – Hannah Whitall Smith

When God is in the midst of a kingdom or city He makes it as firm as MountZion, that cannot be removed. When He is in the midst of a soul, though calamities throng about it on all hands, and roar like the billows of the sea, yet there is a constant calm within, such a peace as the world can neither give nor take away. What is it but want of lodging God in the soul, and that in His stead the world is in men’s hearts, that makes them shake like leaves at every blast of danger? – Archbishop Leighton

With thanks to Hajnalka at http://igerenezek.wordpress.com/

unshaken in Christ