Monthly Archives: October 2013

I Have Been Changed by the Trees

A poem inspired by Tolkien

I Have Been Changed by the Trees
The trees
All around me
Cedar, Oak, and Pine
They sit, content
Do not complain or whine
Tall, majestic, and free.
I tell you now,
I have been changed by these trees.
Do they have names, or families, or kin?
Do they have societies, taboos, or sin?
Do they hold funerals for those who fall to flames?
Do they have poetry, folklore, or Art?
Or mouths, head, or heart?
Do they have war, armies, or sword?
Kings, princes, or Lord?
Do they march to war?
To fight, to defend?
Do all Willow, Birch, and Maple attend?
Do they curse the destroyers and usurpers?
Those that bring fire, axe, and saw
Biting, breaking, hacking, burning.
Or do they withdraw?
Do they take the road that leads into the West,
Where their hearts may truly rest?
Oh, but if they could talk!
What wisdom would they share?
Would it be parables?
Would it be lessons?
Would it be stories of old?
But wait! what if they do talk and we are just unaware.
Unaware of the stories and the wisdom they hold.
Could their sway in the breeze be saying something to me?
Telling a story as they sway, swaying slowly.
Tales of empires, of strife, and war.
Tales of kings and queens and so much more.
Tales of Author, Caesars, and Czars
Or tales of redemption and man restored.
Could they tell us of an apple picked in sin?
Or of a man willing to sacrifice his kin?
Or of a tale we have all heard
A tale of a man and a death that long ago occurred?
Could they tell of this particular tree.
A tree adorned with leaf, and festoon.
Then by men, hewn.
Then perverted and sordid,
Changed, estranged, then jointed.
Nailed together in the shape of a cross,
Carried further and further up a hill
By a man destined to be killed
Upon this tree that man hung
While those among bellow gambled and sung
It is because of this
You now have all that you need
This man conquered death with only this tree
He died and rose for you and for me
He died for the angry, the unloved, and the bitter
The lover, the betrayer, the quitter.
He died for your sisters and daughters
your disciples, brothers, and martyrs
your elders and teachers
your fathers and preachers
He died for ALL!
Could the trees know the part they did play?
Or are they simply trees who’s nature betrays
The Knowledge they could impart?
Or is it us, their speaking, we thwart?
What if we listened just once to the trees?
For I am convinced they speak!
Wisdom for our future so bleak.
We could share in their knowledge of tales so old.
But we must be silent for us to be told.
Lo! Do you hear?
So sit in silence!
Be calm! Be still!
Listen to the trees as the speak
Standing tall, though humble and meek.
We can learn so much from them,
For they do not hate, lie, nor condemn
I will tell you this again!
I have been changed by these trees!
I have been changed.

Pipe Tobacco and Poetry

I found this a while ago and I think I may have post it before. I came across it again today and I must say, I still like it a lot! Here, check it out.

Smoking Spiritualized
By Ralph Erskine

This Indian weed now wither’d quite,
‘Tho’ green at noon, cut down at night,
Shows thy decay;
All flesh is hay.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

The pipe so lily-like and weak,
Does thus thy mortal state bespeak.
Thou art ev’n such,
Gone with a touch.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

And when the smoke ascends on high,
Then thou behold’st the vanity
Of worldly stuff,
Gone with a puff.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

And when the pipe grows foul within,
Think on thy soul defil’d with sin;
For then the fire,
It does require.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

And seest the ashes cast away;
Then to thyself thou mayest say
That to the dust
Return thou must.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

Was this small plant for thee cut down?
So was the plant of great renown;
Which mercy sends
For nobler ends.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

Doth juice medicinal proceed
From such a naughty foreign weed?
Then what’s the pow’r
Of Jesse’s flow’r?
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

The promise, like the pipe, inlays,
And by the mouth of faith conveys
What virtue flows
From Sharon’s rose.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

In vain th’ unlighted pipe you blow;
Your pains in inward means are so,
‘Till heav’nly fire
Thy heart inspire.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

The smoke, like burning incense tow’rs
So should a praying heart of yours,
With ardent cries,
Surmount the skies.
Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

Mr. Beaver, Beer, and Pipe Tobacco

By far, my favorite character in CS Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia is Mr. Beaver.  At first glance this may seem a bit odd. You may say to yourself, “But Devin, what about Aslan? or even Peter?” I would respond with a hearty ‘No, it is Mr Beaver. Let me explain.”

As the Son’s and Daughters of Eve walk through Narnia after Discovering that the White Witch had taken Mr. Tumnus we are introduced to Mr. Beaver.  We are then led by Mr. Beaver to his humble abode; I do not use the word humble as synonymous with ‘quaint,’ or ‘homely.’ When Susan complements Mr. Beaver on his abode he responds with a ‘Merely a trifle.’ He then takes these strangers into his home and, with the help of his wife, Mrs. Beaver, feeds these strangers a large meal of potatoes and freshly caught and fried fish. The strangers are given the freshest of milk but Mr. Beaver sticks to his beer.  The meal ensues and is eaten as quickly as it was served. Mr. Beaver then pulls out dessert for these strangers, as they are guests. The sticky marmalade roll, though no Turkish Delight, is eaten and enjoyed by all.  Mr. Beaver then leans back in his chair and lights up his pipe and we are witnessed to this seen:

“Oh, yes! Tell us about Aslan!” said several voices at once; for once again that strange feeling—like the first signs of spring, like good news, had come over them.
“Who is Aslan?” asked Susan.
“Aslan?” said Mr. Beaver. “Why, don’t you know? He’s the King. He’s the Lord of the whole wood, but not often here, you understand. Never in my time or my father’s time. But the word has reached us that he has come back. He is in Narnia at this moment. He’ll settle the White Queen all right. It is he, not you, that will save Mr. Tumnus.”
“She won’t turn him into stone too?” said Edmund.
“Lord love you, Son of Adam, what a simple thing to say!” answered Mr. Beaver with a great laugh. “Turn him into sone? If she can stand on her tow feet and look him in the face it’ll be the most she can do and more than I expected of her. No, no. He’ll put all to rights as it says in an old rhyme is these parts:

‘Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight. At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more, When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death, And when he shakes his mane, we shall have Spring again.’

You’ll understand when you see him.”
“But shall we see him?” Asked Susan.
“Why, Daughter of Eve, that’s what I brought you here for. I’m to lead you where you shall meet him,” said Mr. Beaver.
“Is—is he a man?” asked Lucy.
“Aslan a man!” Mr. Beaver said sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion—the Lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh!” said Susan, “I’d thought he was a man. Is he—quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
“That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

We see a man, or a beaver rather, take in four complete strangers into his home, feed them, and tell them about the good news of Aslan! He tells them that he is going to take them to him, Aslan himself! The Lion of all Lions. His goal is to honor Aslan by leading these Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve to the one and only Aslan, the King of the wood.

That should be our goal, to honor Christ’s request and lead others to Him, to spread the gospel through our words, our stories, our lives, and our deeds. For He is the King. He is the Lord over all the Earth. He is the one that can save us, and redeem us. He is by no means safe, for we are to fear Him, but He is good. He is the King!

–Your Humble Servant

Theology’s Importance

Every true Christian, whether he likes it or not, is deeply immersed in theology, which often manifests itself in a desire to know God more intimately. When we choose to ignore theology, pretend it doesn’t concern us, “as it only concerns the ‘theologian,'” and attempt to focus on what is ‘real’ or our idolatrous ideas of ‘what really matters,’ we do ourselves a disservice as well the Church and we inevitable misrepresent our faith as that of one simply concerned with our behavior which would make us no better than pharisees.

My Second Attempt at This Poetry Thing

You’ll have to excuse me if this is awful…

I am a Sinner

I stand before you now to tell you that I fall short, I am a sinner.
My flesh and that which it points to is the master instigator
I act in a way that bespeaks the ruling of the flesh over the self.
I’m a liar, cheater, and a manipulator
And I surround myself with individuals like me.
I look to myself as a vindicator
But no vindication is granted
I am a sinner.

I am shamelessly self involved.
My idolatry takes form as self worship.
I yearn for my esteem to be grown and evolved
I seek the approval of others over that of Christ’s.
But nothing causes the dissonance of my head and heart to be resolved
I am prideful
I am a sinner

I am not poor in spirit, for it does not appease, what I’ve had heretofore.
I do not mourn, for I have no need.
I do not hunger nor do I thirst after righteousness, of which I abhor.
I am not merciful, for those that trespass against me are deemed as worthless.
I am not pure in heart, for my flesh cries for more
I am not persecuted for righteousness, for I am he that persecutes.
I am not a peace maker, for I am a peddler strife and war.
I am a sinner

I look upon the mirror
I do not see Christ, but my sins reflecting back at me,
Laughing, mocking, ridiculing, tangled around me and I am enmeshed
They haunt me like the apparitions of tales long told
They follow me, of solitude, I am bereft
They are a stain of Duncan’s blood that can not be removed,
They are a scarlet letter thrust upon my chest,
They are a leprosy that only one can heal
I am that which I hate
I am a sinner

But, There is grace
There is an everlasting grace
A saving grace
A grace the heals what nothing else can
Purchased at a cost none can fathom, yet available to all that seek it
A grace that saved me, transformed me, renewed me
I stand before you today, a new man.
A man that is no longer defined by my flesh
A man that is no longer defined by my wretched self
For I am a son of light
For I am a son of the most high God

The Blasphemy of a “Worship Experience”

I often hear the term “worship experience.” To this day I am not sure why this phrase and outlook on the worship of our creator is a common thing.  It astounds me.

Worship is not about us. The Lord God does not command us to worship Him so that we can have a cathartic experience. True worship, is a result of who God is.  It is a result of obedience, “If you ask why we should obey God, in the last resort the answer is, ‘I AM.’ To know God is to know that our obedience is due to Him. In His nature His sovereignty ‘de jure’ is revealed” (C.S. Lewis “Surprised by Joy”).  When we go about worship in a manner that bespeaks to a desired “experience,” we do nothing but blaspheme the name of God.  One can not truly worship The Lord God when the worship is a means to an end, that end being an “experience.”  The term worship is usually referred to a adoring reverence or regard, or for our purpose, love. Nothing in the definition speaks selfish intent.

But why? Why do we worship the almighty?

It is my belief that ultimately it comes down to two reasons, a major and a secondary reason. The main reason we are to worship The Lord God is because he commands us to (Matthew 22:34-38).  Part of loving a Holy God is worshiping him, and worshiping and loving Him only (Exodus 34:13-14, Deuteronomy 4:23-24)

This is not an easy concept to accept.  Over the years, many people have struggled with this, people like Eric Reece,

“Well, it just struck me as ‘Who is this person speaking 2000 years ago, a complete historical stranger, saying that we should love him,  more so than we should love our own fathers and sons?’ It just seemed like an incredibly egomaniacal (or obsessive self centeredness) kind of claim to make.”

The great CS Lewis himself, struggled with this concept.  In his book, Reflections of The Psalms he reflects on this struggle.  He claimed that that one of the great obstacles in coming to believe in the God of the Bible was that when he read the Psalms, the constant demand from God to praise him seemed (to him) to picture God as craving “for our worship like a vain woman who wants compliments.”  However, unlike Eric Reece, Lewis came to a logical explanation to this command,

“My whole, more general, difficulty about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can’t help doing, about everything else we value. I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation”

Lewis saw that praising God is the consummation or completion of our joy in God. Therefore, when God is pursuing—even demanding—our praise, he is pursuing the consummation of our joy.  It is important to note here that Lewis is not saying that we should worship The Lord God so that are joys may be fulfilled and complete, for The Lord God is the only one that can do that, and it is through no act of our own that this is accomplished (Hebrews 12:1-2)

In john 4 Christ approaches a women at a well. The woman, before realizing who Christ is, inquires as to the importance of the location of worship. Jesus responds thus, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”  The Lord God is demanding us to be worshipers of Himself. This worship must be worship that is “in spirit and in truth.”  Worship that is “in spirit and in truth” can not be centered around the worshiper and an “experience” it must be centered around that which is worshiped.

The secondary reason here is because Christ first loved us (1John 4:19)!  We are completely and totally depraved and God knows everything about us and yet he chooses to love us regardless.  Christ loves us and we are called to be imitators of Christ (1Corinthians 11:1).  God shows his love for us in specific ways. He shows his love by being pleased with us and being pleased by our lives. He is committed, because of the blood of Christ, to saying to you “well done my good and faithful servant.” He makes us fellow heirs with his son who inherits everything (Romans 4:13-14, I Corinthians 3:21-23).  He appoints us to carry out the judgment of angels (I Corinthians 6:1-3). He ascribes value to us and rejoicing in us as treasures (Matthew 10:29-31, Zephaniah 3:17).  He grants us to sit with Christ on his throne (Revelation 3:21).  The Lord God will allow us sit at a table, when he returns, and serve us (Luke 12:37).  When christ comes on a white horse, faithful written on one thigh true on the other, he will put his right foot in the sea and his left foot on the land, and once he has sat on the throne, divided the nations, he will tell us to come and sit, and he serves us!

When we center our worship around ourselves and a desired “experience” instead of around that which is worshiped, we ignore the love that is bestowed upon us. We create false worship, which itself holds severe consequences (Genesis 4:5, Exodus 32, 1 Kings 11:31-33, Jeremiah 1:16; 16:11; 22:9).  When we do this, we exchange the truth about God for a lie (Romans 1:25). By centering the worship around ourselves, we become the worshiped, we put ourselves above the Lord God.

Worship is the humble response of regenerate men to the self-disclosure of the Most High God. It is based upon the work of God. It is achieved through the activity of God. It is directed to God. It is expressed by the lips in praise and by the life in service.

So I urge you brothers, to center your worship solely around The Lord God and not a potential cathartic experience. When you fall prostrate before a Holy and loving God, remember that He is the One that our lives should be centered around, that He is the one we should present ourselves to as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

—Your Humble Servant

My attempt at poetry?

So, at Rockbridge we went through a Retreat of Solitude, a three hour period where we spent time with God. It was nothing short of amazing. I spent my time smoking my pipe, drinking a french press of coffee, and reading through Lamentations. After reading however I started to notice the birds. This wasn’t the first time. The whole week I had been admiring these little birds. I found myself starting to write about them, this is what resulted:

Image

Sialia sialis

Allow us to examine the Bluebird.
They neither fear the future nor dread the past.
They are content living amongst the mighty Appalachians,
Finding happiness in the blessings of the rain and the shine of the sun.
Though man and fire intermingle with them, they are content.
The fire destroys and the rain renews
And neither are accounted as a curse and life moves on.

Purposed for the glorification of the Almighty,
Their inherent existence, 
Though mere specks when juxtaposed to their mighty Appalachians,
Is still a reflection of the magnificence of their Creator.

Though able to do what Icarus could not
And go where their will would take them,
They refrain and remain where the Almighty has intended,
Further glorifying their Creator

Though their mighty Appalachians’ winter be long and cold,
They remain, trusting on the provisions of their Creator
Knowing that one day the sun will rise again
And provide comfort as it once had.

Sialia sialis neither sows nor reaps nor hoards,
doing so could not add a single hour to the span of their life.
They rely on the fruit of their mighty Appalachians
And thus the fruit of the Almighty.

The Bluebird does not envy nor do they boast.
The Bluebird is neither rude nor arrogant 
Nor does the Bluebird insist upon his will over that of the Almighty.

Their singing, though beautiful and eloquent, must quiet. 
Their flying, though intentional and graceful, must cease.
For a finite existence is inherent in their being.
But for now they sing, they fly, they live 
All for the glory of their Almighty Creator.

Amen