A Better Country
God has a better country where
No pollution taints the air;
Where every breath is free of pain
And health enjoys unbroken reign;
Where beauty thrives, by time unmarred,
And lives by sin are never scarred;
Where each relationship delights,
And no impending storm affrights;
Where no one dies, while others sob,
No hearts with stifling sorrow throb;
Where all are holy, glad and free
In love-filled, joy-crowned company.
And thanks to His redeeming grace
I have a passport to that place!
A Campmeeting Testimony
He was an unassuming man
Who spoke with quiet voice,
But the story that he told us Caused all hearts to rejoice:
My mother was a hooker, My father was her pimp--
Both died much too early And left me with a limp.
That was all they left me--No money, pride, or food,
No memories worth having, Nothing that was good.
I grew up without guidance, A tough unwanted child,
Surviving on the city streets Where life was raw and wild.
I was early into manhood And early into crime;
Before the age of twenty I learned to do hard time.
While bunking at a halfway house I met a Christian man
Who treated me with kindness As only Christians can.
I shortly found myself in church Listening to God's word,
And hope was growing swiftly With each message that I heard.
I gave my heart to Jesus, Who took my sins away,
Changed my life completely--And here I am today!
When he had finished speaking There were tears on every face,
And every heart was grateful For the Father's saving grace.
A Preacher's Plea
Lord God, I cannot speak
To those who from me seek
Some word by which to live, Unless, in grace, You give
Me light, and truth, and fire--Unless You now inspire
My heart to know and say The words that point the way
To You, to life, to heaven, To joy of sins forgiven.
After the Shower
A welcome rain revived again
The thirsty, dusty anguished earth.
And throats of grateful birds and men
Now fill the air with sounds of mirth.
Since brown has given place to green
And dull has acquiesced to bright,
Our fates and futures now are seen
In radiant and hopeful light.
So as we celebrate relief,
Let us renew our faith again-
Our dry spells whether long or brief
Have always ended in a rain.
A Wondrous Thing
This is to me a wondrous thing
That God to tainted earth would bring
His only Son, the sacrifice
Whose blood alone can be the price
That ransoms sinners from the strife
Of ancient bonds and gives new life.
This is to me more wondrous still,
That even I a place can fill
Within the heart of boundless love
That brought the Savior from above.
This is the truth that makes me free--
That God in Christ atoned for me!
O wondrous truth, my soul has heard
The saving promise of His word,
“Forsake your sins, I will forgive--
For my Son died that you might live.”
When Henry teaches Sunday School,
His lesson deftly planned,
The Word's so plain that any fool
Like me can understand.
The interplay of teacher-taught
Exudes a sheer delight.
Truth heard and, even better, caught,
On darkness pours its light.
And when each lesson is complete,
I leave the room resolved
To give its meaning hands and feet,
With head and heart involved.
Thanks, Henry, for inspiring me
To follow Christ always,
To love and serve enduringly,
Through bright and cloudy days.
The woman, Lord, Your gift to me!
'Twas at her word I shared the tree.
The serpent, Lord, Beguiling brute!
'Twas at his word I ate the fruit.
To Eden's pair We all are kin,
As loath to bear The guilt of sin.
For when we fall, To shift the blame
We quickly call Another's name.
And still today Weak alibis
Drive men away From paradise.
God came to earth
In a helpless infant's birth,
And in a span Of thirty years became a man
With strength enough To bear alone, on crossbeams rough,
The loathsome weight Of a whole world's sin and hate;
To die, and then, All pow'r possessing, rise again,
And thus create The season we now celebrate.
He pardons sin And grants believers peace within
That brings us joy No storm or sorrow can destroy.
To Him we raise From grateful hearts our Christmas praise.
Christ in Others
There is no way to live
For Christ alone. He's bound
To others. I must give The mercy I have found
To them, and share the things With which He blesses me--
The bounty each day brings, The heart's tranquility
In times of stress and strife, The good and goods that so
Enrich my daily life As heavenward I go.
I meet Christ in each one Who needs the help that I,
From stores miscalled my own, Can readily supply.
I see His shadowed face In ev'ry hurting soul
Who seeks a touch of grace To make the spirit whole.
In poor, sick, lonely men Christ now before me stands--
I can reach Him only when I stretch to them my hands.
Angels sped from heaven,
And filled the sky with light,
Sang a birth announcement For Mary's child that night.
Shepherds hasted, breathless, O'er hillsides to the place
Where lay a babe unique--Incarnate saving grace.
Magi raced their camels Beneath a guiding star;
Eager to see God's king, They traveled from afar.
Hurry, hurry, hurry! To find the Savior we
Should not waste a moment--Our life and hope is He!
Come, Holy Spirit!
Upon my heart descend like rains
That bring new life to arid plains,
That flood the creeks until debris
Is washed away and life flows free,
Until the grass and flow'rs revive
And corn and wheat begin to thrive,
While meadow larks to heaven raise
Their argent notes of grateful praise.
Upon my heart descend like fires
That will consume all base desires,
And from the ashes summon forth
A life and work of greater worth.
Burn fiercely hot, the dross to melt,
Until those purging flames are felt
Soul-deep, brain-high, and energy
To serve Your cause possesses me.
Down from regions of light,
Into a world of shame
Shrouded in sin’s dark night, Our blessed Redeemer came.
Laying aside His crown—For only He could wear it—
Jesus the Christ stooped down To save us by His merit.
Marvelous, mighty love Devised this costly plan
For gathering above Lost, fallen, ruined man!
Wonder of wonders! Grace Has no greater measure--
Earth’s lowest can embrace Heaven’s highest treasure!
Beneath a decorated tree
Aglow with light
And tinsel bright
Are laid the gifts that we
To one another give.
Upon a stark and ugly tree,
Adorned with pain
And crimson stain,
God's gift was hung that we
At last should live.
Men sealed the tomb,
God broke the seal,
And Christ arose, the Lord of all.
Before Him ev'ryone will kneel
And by that title on Him call.
Then hail the King, the Lord of life,
Savior of those who will believe.
His victory will crown our strife.
From Him eternal life receive.
Holy, calm, sequestered shade,
What stories you could tell
Of how the anguished God-man prayed, In combat locked with hell.
Your startled grove was favored then As witness to an agony
That pales descriptive powers of men--Prelude to Calvary.
You long centuries have kept The secrets of that hour
When hell's full raging torrent swept The God-man's ebbing power.
You have not revealed the cost Of help won from above--
And yet, your silence tells us most Of His redeeming love.
God Answers Prayer
God answers prayer because He works by love, not laws.
His Father's heart is bent Upon our nourishment;
He grants the daily bread By which are daily fed
Our stomachs and our hearts. His benefice imparts
Strength for the moment's task; To all who in faith ask
He gives His Spirit to Empower, cleanse, renew.
We ask and seek and knock In times of hurt and shock
And find our Father strong, In ev'ry grief and wrong,
To grasp a feeble hand And cause weak knees to stand.
What risks may we not dare When our resource is prayer?
The Father's watchful eyes See all we term "surprise";
His sympathetic ears Each cry for succor hears;
His mighty arms defeat The toughest foes we meet.
In Him is grace to spare, With us the link of prayer.
Together they decree Invincibility!
God Has a Sense of Humor
God has a sense of humor,
And you can bank on that;
He made Seuss, the maker of That weird cat in the hat.
God has a sense of humor, He likes a hearty laugh--
How else can we account for The aardvark and giraffe?
God has a sense of humor, It’s tinged with irony,
Stuffy bishops otherwise Remain a mystery.
God has a sense of humor, A thought that comforts me
Each morning as I’m shaving The mirrored face I see.
God's Son Died
"Your son will live"--this word
In Galilee was spoken.
But God's Son died! Our Lord On Calvary was broken.
The healing word became A royal father's joy--
But One of greater name To death gave up His boy.
To this great length He went To make the stricken well,
His dearest treasure spent To ransom us from hell.
O God in Christ, we too In glad surrender give
Our very best for You Who died that we might live.
You have given daily bread
From the largess of Your love.
Body, spirit, both have fed On gift-manna from above.
You have pardoned ev'ry sin, Granted liberating grace;
Not without and not within Did evil find desired place.
Heavenly Father, Yours has been Kingdom, power, glory too.
All things viewed and those unseen Shaped a day of life for You.
So tonight I offer praise And renew my earnest plea--
Hallow Your name all my days, Let Your will be done in me
The sun will shine, the fog will lift.
Unclouded day, the Father’s gift,
Will greet me when I come to die--All will be better by and by.
No work will fail for want of time, No plans be wrecked by changing clime;
Be seen no tears, be heard no sigh--All will be better by and by.
Grieve not for years and joys past, The good will be conserved at last.
To fleeting time let hope reply--All will be better by and by.
Then sing my soul, though morning’s gray, And heavy now your burdens weigh;
Life’s not a joke but death’s a lie--All will be better by and by.
By and by, when Christ shall come, By and by, when we reach home,
We will forget what made us cry--All will be better by and by.
I Do Not Wish...
I do not wish to rest
On work already done.
No! Let tomorrow test My value to the One
Who in my callow youth Called, graced and gifted me
To preach the word of truth That sets believers free.
When I can't longer preach With relish and with skill,
No longer sinners reach, My calling to fulfill--
Then let me go away With dignity in peace,
I do not wish to stay When usefulness shall cease.
I will accept with grace A lesser servant's role,
Some other time and place May claim my worn-out soul.
I Heard a Song of Heaven
I heard a quartet singing
Of mother, home, and God,
Of heaven's welcome ringing To roads and hills untrod;
No sin, no pain, no sorrow No death, no grief, no fears--
A holy, glad tomorrow Unblurred by stinging tears;
A place of sweet reunion With family and friends,
And with the Lord communion Whose glory never ends.
To some it sounded corny, But to one well along
His weary earthly journey It was a lovely song.
Let the critics' scorn be hurled At simple tunes and rhymes--
Thank God, in a better world We'll know far better times.
Sing it then again for me--I'm old and sick and tired--
With hope of heaven I will be Encouraged and inspired.
Jacob's ladder was a cross
Uniting earth and heaven,
Where sinner's gain was Jesus' loss As hands and heart were given.
Crimson links joined God and man, At cost of death brought life;
Vermillion cement sealed a plan That purchased peace through strife.
Eternity pierced time's confines Outside an ancient wall,
Shattered sin's "NO EXIT" signs And liberated all.
One God, one Mediator, now Confront a ransomed race,
O trusting soul, before them bow--Be reconciled by grace!
I read this morning in Your word
That You inhabit praise, O Lord.
Help me to spread the walls apart
Within my grateful, trusting heart.
In dinky, dark and dusty rooms
Untouched by light, unswept by brooms,
I would not ask You to reside,
But in clean spaces, high and wide.
Then let my praise be oft and loud,
And swelled by others in the crowd
Who bless Your name and gladly give
Vast mansions wherein You may live.
Life from Death
Behold the dancing flames
Consuming as they glow;
All life requires death To fuel its onward flow.
The candle spends its wax That it may give its light;
Love throws itself away To brighten someone’s night.
In this world naught is free, Each gift exacts a cost;
When anything is gained Something is also lost.
And once upon a cross, For mankind in its thrall,
The Lord himself was slain To give new life to all.
Limits of Learning
No biologist can define the complexity called life.
Scan its processes as he may,behold its endless strife,
Mark its multitude of changes, scrutinize its varied forms,
Catalogue its swift transitions, ponder angels, ponder worms—
When his research all is ended he proclaims the fact to be
That life escapes analysis, shrouds itself in mystery.
The wisest of philosophers, our race’s greatest brains,
Men capable of organizing elaborate thought trains,
Unanimously will agree their wisdom’s sum is naught
If asked to tell precisely, exactly what is thought.
It is the stock they deal in, increasing with their years,
And yet its full description baffles their long careers.
The keenest theologians, religion’s holy sages,
Illuminate with power the Scripture’s sacred pages;
They write in burning prose the product of their labor—
The determined right relationship of man to God and neighbor-
Yet no divine who ever in that august procession trod
Can yield an adequate answer to the question, “What is God?”
Across our ken in each direction, finiteness draws a line,
While each renewed investigation stamps us almost divine.
Lines in Pain and Grief
When systems are not “go”
And all plans fall apart;
When lead, a ton or so, Weighs crushing on the heart;
When praying seems in vain, The heavens brass o’erhead;
When days are endless pain And nights are rife with dread;
When those you love, love not, And treat each other wrong,
When lifeblood starts to clot, And souls are robbed of song--
What can the helpless do But grieve, lament, and mope?
I choose to trust in You, My ever living Hope.
I am not forsaken, You walk my trail of tears.
Though my soul is shaken Its day of triumph nears.
Be lifted up, my heart! Your God will faithful be--
The threat’ning sea will part, You’ll hymn His victory.
Lines to God
If I could write a symphony
To describe Your love for me
With it’s rich and constant boons,
I would employ such magic tunes
And utilize such vibrant words
As pour from happy throats of birds.
Alas, their genius is not mine—
I must reluctantly confine
To monotony of phrasing
That artesian stream of praising,
Which blushing for its wont of art,
Is ever flooding from my heart.
Lines to My Lord
In simple rhymes I bring to You
The passion of a heart that’s true;
I can’t express in ornate phrase
The love I feel for You these days.
In my old age, as in my youth,
Adoring You is my life’s truth;
How sere and fruitless days would be
Bereft of Your sweet company!
With You beside me I can greet
Unshaken ev’ry foe I meet;
Nor past nor future can affright,
Nor gradual dimming of the light--
The heart Your love illuminates,
Not even death intimidates.
Do with me, Master, as You must--
I’ll walk with You in joy and trust.
Lines to Myself
Be still and know That God is love,
All things below Are known above.
God is not dead Nor does He sleep;
Have you not read That He will keep
In perfect peace The trusting heart?
Your fretting cease, Bid doubts depart!
Face to the goal,With courage new,
Press on, my soul--He’ll see you through.
“God of my fathers”--noble phrase!
It tunes my heart to hymn His praise
For all who served in bygone days,
Yet speak with wisdom for my ways.
Their toil and sacrifice conspire
To kindle in my soul the fire
That made them scorn the lash and pyre
For Jesus Christ, their chief desire.
“My God”--a phrase more noble still!
All He has been to them He will
Be also to my life until
His love my thoughts, my actions fill.
A personal Savior, personal Friend,
From journey’s start to journey’s end,
Faithful to guide, strong to defend--
In Him I trust, on Him depend.
I thank You, Lord, for this new day,
Help me to live it as I should,
Proceed along Your narrow way, Spend and be spent doing good.
As I partake of daily food, Tributes to Your faithfulness,
Fill my mind with gratitude, That constant praises must express.
Keep from sin my hands and heart, Make me pure in thought and talk,
Some portion of Your word impart To light the unsure path I walk.
And if this day should be the last, May it lead me home to You,
To find, when gates of death are passed,
The promised land of all thing new.
It’s Monday, Lord, And I’m on edge.
But in Your word I find this pledge--
“Lo, I am with You all the days...”
Renew my faith, My spirits raise.
What this day brings Help me to face,
Cope with all things With strength and grace.
The Name of Jesus
When I am guilty, sing
To me of Jesus’ name;
That name alone can bring Release from sin and blame.
When I am weary, speak His blessed name once more;
It gives strength to the weak And courage does restore.
When I am lonely, then Invoke the Savior’s name
Who, forsaken by all men, Endured the cross of shame.
When I am hurting, say The Healer’s name again;
It takes my fear away And eases deepest pain.
When I am grieving, cheer With Jesus’ name my heart;
In darkness He draws near To hope and peace impart.
When I am dying, come, Extol His name in praise--
With Him I’ll be at home Through everlasting days!
More than forty zealots swore
That they would eat and drink no more
Until the apostle Paul was dead--
They must have missed a lot of bread,
For three years later Brother Paul
Still preached Christ to one and all.
Unless those Jews foreswore their swearing,
What baggy britches they were wearing!
The Other Side
If we could know what joys await
The other side of death,
We would not walk with halting gait Or grudge our final breath.
That City beckons us whose light Is Jesus Christ. Its glow
Can penetrate the deepest night To guide our steps below.
Come, let us to that future stride On eager, hast’ning feet,
Sustained by visions that abide Whatever pain we meet.
He prayed to thank the Lord that he
Was unlike all the others;
From heights of cold morality He scorned his sinning brothers.
I’ve often met his counterpart Across my years of living--
Consumed with self, cruel of heart, Aloof and unforgiving.
A man who calls upon the Lord, His own virtues to recite,
Is doomed to pray alone, unheard-- Deaf to love and blind to light.
I understand why Christ preferred A company unholy,
Why He persistently conferred His favors on the lowly.
Who keep the rules but shun the men Who bleed inside with shame,
They crucify the Christ again And slander His pure name.
I cannot walk on water
Nor stride the boisterous flood,
But I can stand supported By the Lord’s atoning blood.
Let those who will attempt To amble on the waves,
I am quite content to know That Jesus loves and saves.
I cannot make a highway Through an agitated sea,
But I have been forgiven-- That’s “sign” enough for me.
Make Us Holy
Holy Father, make us holy too!
Let us become in heart like You--
Loving, patient, quick to forgive,
Enabling us in peace to live.
Holy Jesus, make us holy too!
In words and deeds reflecting You--
Willing to serve in lowly ways,
Giving Your name its rightful praise.
Holy Spirit, make us holy too!
Cleanse us from sin, fill us with You.
Empower us Your word to share
With needy persons ev’rywhere.
Holy One, Your word demands
A holy people, strong and true.
Our hearts, our times, are in Your hands--
Come, Lord, and make us holy too!
My pastor feeds me. His preaching
Informs, inspires, keeps me reaching
For new heights and depths of love
Reflecting that of God above.
My pastor is a man of God
Who gently wields the shepherd’s rod.
His own example calls from me
A patient, strong resolve to be
The kind of man whose life commends
Our holy Savior to his friends.
By words and deeds my pastor leads
To fields of Scripture where the needs
Of all his flock can be supplied
Till they are fully satisfied.
I am convinced my pastor cares
How each church member daily fares,
How each one meets the tests of life
And learns to triumph in its strife.
He keeps us in his thoughts and prayers
And in our joy and sorrow shares.
Good shepherd he--I want him here
To challenge me year after year.
If that, O Lord, can be Your plan
I’ll live and die a grateful man.
An Old Man's Prayer
I'm growing old, none too neatly;
Help me, Lord, to ripen sweetly.
When shaking limbs betray my will,
Grant me a heart steadfast and still.
Close rein my tongue that I may greet
With gracious speech each one I meet.
From paths of right may I not stray,
But walk in truth till ends my day.
Your presence, Lord, my strength must be--
Though frail my grip, hold fast to me!
A Prayer for Our Homes
God of our fathers and mothers,
Defend our assailed homes today!
Just as You saved and kept others,
Redeem and sustain us, we pray.
From terrors that menace by night,
From evils that ravage at noon,
From demons of darkness and light,
Deliver us surely and soon.
From vendors of smut who beguile,
From peddlers of dope who enslave,
From each subtle, death-spreading wile
Of Satan, come swiftly and save.
Cause in our homes to be heard
The voices of prayer and praise;
May counsel from Your guiding Word
Enlighten and master our ways.
God of the triumphs of yore,
Be Lord of our homes in this hour;
O God of the years yet before,
Uphold by Your mercy and power!
I greet all days with joy, but this
More joyously than all the rest.
Gave I not thanks, I’d be remiss,
For all are good, but Sunday’s best.
So thank You, Lord, for this grand day
On which unto Your house I go
To worship You, to sing and pray,
Your word to hear, yourself to know.
I join with those who share Your grace,
Those whose sins You have forgiven,
Those running now the upward race
To a finish line called heaven.
From Your blest house I will return
With stronger faith, with deeper love,
To face the week, my bread to earn--
My task below, my goal above!
Sunday Morning Thoughts
I go once more to hear
My pastor preach the Word.
I do so year by year And ev’ry message heard
Makes me a better man Than I have been before--
Fulfills the Master’s plan To change me more and more
Till I become each day Like Him in ev’ry grace,
His holy love display, His service-call embrace.
My pastor’s voice becomes The voice of God as he
My Christian duty sums, And I more clearly see
How faith in God applies To all that I must do,
How God in Christ supplies The pow’r to see me through.
I could not do without he Word that I receive--
It triumphs over doubt And helps me to believe.
The Joy of Worship
It's such a joy, O Lord, for me
To walk into Your house and be
With Your blessed people as they bring
Their praises unto You and sing
The glories of Your matchless love,
Evoking from Your throne above
More blessings still, as You outpour
Each added grace they hunger for;
To hear with them the gospel preached
By which the wayward heart is reached
And brought to You, forgiving Lord,
Who seals the promise of the Word
By granting them a life made new--
A life of fellowship with You!
From such glad worship I depart
To face the world with God-braced heart.
Sixteen soldiers, skilled and brave,
Go marching out to guard a grave.
Sixteen soldiers, bronzed and tough--
They surely ought to be enough!
This is no beardless rookie guard,
But grizzled veterans, battle-scarred.
They carry axes, swords and knives,
Prepared to take--or give--some lives.
Off they march to drumbeats steady;
Come what may, these men are ready!
See them go! Tramp... tramp... boom... boom--
A Roman guard for Jesus’ tomb.
Ah, who would dare to tackle these?
Who could bring them to their knees?
Their task is sure--with them about
No one goes in, no one comes out.
Sixteen soldiers brave and skilled--
Trouble them and you’ll be killed!
“This tomb is now secured.” Then why
Is laughter coming from the sky?
The Time Will Come
The time will come, O doubt it not,
When all earth’s woes will be forgot,
When God all tears shall wipe away,
And usher in eternal day.
The time will come, it may be soon,
When light will hold at highest noon,
No shadows come, no darkness fall,
And God will be our all in all.
The time will come, O hear the word,
When all will honor Christ as Lord,
Before Him bow, from Him await
Their final, everlasting fate.
The time will come, short years at most,
When Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
Will reign on earth in perfect love
As now they reign in heav’n above.
The time will come, do not despair,
Though sin is rampant ev’rywhere;
Its day is brief, its judgment sure--
In hope persist, by faith endure.
"Silver and gold have I none,"
On them I do not rely.
I have the wealth of God's own Son,
Sovereign of earth and sky.
"Such as I have," an untold wealth
Of the gifts and grace of God!
And trusting Him I bid you health--
Rise, walk the paths He trod.
"In the name of Jesus" rise and go,
His healing touch now receive.
Stand on your feet, His mercy show,
That others may believe.
O sinful world, stand not aghast
At such display of holy power,
Confine no miracle to the past--
He lives this very hour!