Friday, May 30, 2008

Prince Caspian and Indiana Jones 4 - Boge

For those of you enamored (like me) in the worlds of The Chronicles of Narnia and Indiana Jones, the movie world has provided you with the excitement of two installments in these memorable series. Albeit, they are very different movies.

Prince Caspian, part of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series, is another brilliant investigation in the life of a Christian. In particular, it investigates what it means to be a follower of Christ – what it means to follow Him when others won’t. Is our faithfulness to God’s call dependent on other people also being faithful?

The book to movie transition isn’t always what you would expect. For those who wonder about the road not taken – about what might have or could have or should have been…Aslan in the movie says that ‘we can never know’. But the book says, “No one is ever told.” So what’s the difference? In the book, Aslan is still omniscient; he simply chooses not to tell you what might have happened if you took the left at the fork instead of the right. In the movie, Aslan doesn’t seem to actually know. It makes you wonder why the filmmakers chose to change that.

I was speaking with a friend of mine who is not, yet, a follower of Jesus Christ. I was curious about her take on Aslan. Especially in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I wondered if she would pick up on what Lewis had intended. She gave her thoughts. None of which mentioned the symbolic connection between the lion in the movie and the Lion of Judah.

That’s the thing with symbolism. It’s a language. Sometimes we miss out on the symbolism and lose the meaning behind the film, having it reduced to a ‘cool movie with cool battles and great settings’. She had missed the point of Lewis’ Aslan.

Or did she?

I wonder if symbolism can speak to people and plant seeds in their hearts – if it can communicate to people’s hearts and leave an imprint, even if it is not consciously understood. Like a parable. I mentioned the symbolic connection between Aslan and Christ to my friend. She thought that was interesting.

I also saw Indiana Jones 4 (and American Graffiti/Close Encounters of the Third Kind/Star Wars - what a blast they must have had making this movie) and wondered about why the relic in this movie was not Christian (or Judeo-Christian) like it was in Raiders or Last Crusade. My friend, (a different friend, guy friend this time) said that he preferred a non-religious relic because at least there’s no risk of distorting the Christian faith through the myth of a relic. Interesting point. Everlasting physical life from drinking from the Last Supper cup of Christ versus everlasting life from drinking from the life of Christ.

Spielberg and Lucas had a new type of vision for Indy 4 than they had for 1 and 3. It makes me wonder what could have been if the movie centered on an investigation into the Christian faith through an archeologically significant piece.

But, of course, Aslan says that’s not possible to know.

At least not for me.

Paul Boge

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Lonely at the Top - Wegner

I’ve always heard it’s lonely at the top. I wouldn’t know simply because I’m not sure where “the top” is and besides, no matter where it turns out to be, I’m not there.
I’ve also heard that writing is a lonely life. Now that’s closer to where I am and if I didn’t believe it before, any doubts have vanished.
Loneliness doesn’t come easy for me. My childhood nickname, Windy Lindy, indicated my love of words - and wordiness - even back then. Teen activities included teaching Sunday School, school dramas and the debating team. As an adult I thrived on the company of others. Married for forty years to the quietest person I’ve ever known, I’ve had to compromise on social activities but that didn’t mean I lost my zest for a roomful of energetic people. Gregarious. Sociable. Fun loving. Those words described me; reflexive, withdrawn and introverted did not. But that transition is happening and as difficult as it has been, the seeming permanency of my loneliness is dawning on me.
As easy as it would be to blame it solely on the writing, I have coming to the conclusion that God Himself is drawing me from a life of dependency on the approval of others to a place of quiet surrender to His will. He’s created a thirst so deep that nothing but fellowship with Him can fully quench it. He’s creating such a longing for His glory that my innate competitiveness has been tempered by the sense of the exclusiveness of His majesty. While there’s still enough “carnality” in me that I refused to enter this year’s contest for fear that I would come in second - again - there’s a new peace in realizing that He’s not done with me.
I still love to be with people of like mind and I look forward with anticipation to the upcoming writers’ conference but inside, there’s a core of solitude that I’m slowly learning to treasure. Quivering on the altar, I’m comforted by the assurance that my sacrifice has been accepted.
“Lord, turn my loneliness into aloneness with You. Turn my sense of loss into tender compassion for those who have been stripped of the barest of life’s essentials. May new thoughts, formed in my newly-stilled mind, pour forth in praise and honour to You.”
Having said all that, I haven’t lost my ability to celebrate and I can hardly wait for June 12!
Linda Wegner

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Life of Miracles - Clemons

Over the past year it has been my privilege every Monday evening to join with a group of believers from several churches in our area to pray for Muslims. The host of our get together is Mohammed Mohammed. No, I’m not saying it twice. That’s his first and last name.

I tend to think of myself as a man of faith, but I have to admit I didn’t know what faith was until I heard Mohammad’s story for the first time last week. It’s a story of Biblical proportions, like the travels of Peter or Paul, and while I can’t begin to tell it all, I thought I might share a little of it here.

Mohammed, an Egyptian by birth, was raised in a strict Muslim family. He was taught to accept the teachings of the prophet Muhammad, and while still a young man, memorized the entire Koran. He trained hard and as an adult was favored to become part of Egyptian President Mubarak’s special guard.

One day, on his way to the mosque for prayer, he was stopped by a man who asked him a question. The man said, “Mohammed, you look like you’re doing everything right, you go to the mosque to pray five time a day, you live a clean life, so tell me, if you died today, would you go to heaven?” Mohammed thought it was a ridiculous question. No one could know for certain they were going to heaven. The best anyone could do was hope Allah favored them enough to let them in. The man challenged him to read the Bible, but Mohammed responded that he’d already read the Bible and was convinced it was not the word of God. Over a period of time he encountered the man again and again, each time asking questions the man couldn’t answer. The man finally told him he should read the Bible with a view toward seeking truth. Mohammed took him up on the challenge and this time, while reading the book of John, something connected. He realized that God wanted him to be his child, not a slave like he was to Allah. Mohammed read and studied on and soon discovered salvation was a gift, not something he had to earn. He finally felt compelled to commit his life to Christ.

But changing your religion from Islam to Christianity is illegal in Egypt. He told his new friend about his conversion, and while the man was overjoyed, he cautioned Mohammed to keep his faith to himself. Telling others would only bring pain. First he would lose his family and friends, they would not tolerate his being a Christian, then he would lose his job or any ability to earn an income, and finally he would lose his freedom, and possibly his life. But Mohammed could not keep quiet. It wasn’t long before everything he was warned would happen, came to pass.

His family tried their best to persuade him to recant but, when he refused, they determined to kill him. One night as he was crossing the street a car zoomed out nowhere and ran him down. He was rushed to the hospital where he was told his spine was severely damaged. They said they had to operate and, while they would do their best, it was likely he would never walk again. Fortunately, he had a Bible with him. He read in James where it said if the elders of the church pray and anoint with oil, the sick will be made well. He called his friend asking that the church elders come and pray with him, but they refused. To pray a Christian prayer with a person born a Muslim would lead to their arrest. Alone and feeling abandoned, Mohammed continued to seek the Lord. He found another part of the Bible where Jesus said to a blind man: “Thy faith has made thee well.” So he decided to trust God for his healing. Three days later he walked out of that hospital without having an operation of any kind.

Mohammed was also engaged to a devout Muslim girl who, while he was going through his transformation, was on a pilgrimage to Mecca. His new Christian friends told him he would have to break up with her because it was wrong to marry an unbeliever. He prayed about that too and asked God to change her heart knowing she would have to endure the same loss of family and friends. She also came to Christ. They were married and subsequently had a daughter they named Laura.

Two more times his family tried, but failed, to kill him. Once they stole his child and kept her hostage for three months threatening to raise her as a Muslim, but God miraculously enabled him to find little Laura and get her back.

Aided by an evangelical mission, they decided to move to Tunisia and become missionaries to other Muslims. God revealed to Mohammad that they were there to open ten new churches. They aligned themselves with several other missionaries and by working together, achieved the goal. They were just embarking on plans to open the eleventh when he was arrested for proselytizing. It’s illegal to convert Muslims in Tunisia, just as it is everywhere in the Muslim world. Separating him from his wife and child, they put Mohammed on a plane to be sent back to Egypt to face an Egyptian court where the minimum sentence was ten years in jail. Sally stood on the tarmac in a foreign country holding little Laura as the plane door closed. The engines were humming, warming up. Meanwhile, Mohammed was inside praying. Suddenly, the door opened again and a man came and took Mohammed off the plane. Reunited with is family, but confused, he was told he was free to go anywhere, but that they had to leave immediately. Apparently the order for his release had come from someone high up in the government. Unfortunately, when you carry an Egyptian passport there aren’t too many places you can go without first obtaining a visa. The only place open to them was Malta so they boarded the next flight out.

The plane to Malta had to touch down in Libya and when they arrived there, they were told they were being rerouted back to Egypt. Mohammed later found his release had been a sham. It turned out Tunisia was trying to maintain good relations with the West and didn’t want human rights violations on their record. They sent Mohammed to Libya knowing he would be detained and from there be sent back to Egypt to face arrest. The Libyans, still under the thumb of Momar Kadafi, didn’t care what anyone in the West thought. Mohammed, his wife Sally, and their child Laura, were removed from the plane and taken inside the airport to wait. By coincidence (or was it?) a friend of Mohammed's, a man he trained to be a security officer while still working for President Mubarak in Egypt, saw Mohamed in the airport and rushed over to greet him. As an expression of hospitality, the man hustled them out of the airport ushering them right through security without their passports receiving a Libyan stamp. Mohmmhad's friend didn't know anything about their situtation. He put them up in a five star hotel, and a few days later made sure they were comfortably back on a plane headed for Malta.

They arrived in Malta safely but once there encountered yet another obstacle. Without a visa, they could only stay seven days, and seven days wasn’t enough time to get a visa. Once again it looked like they were headed back to Egypt. They approached a man connected with a missionary organization for assistance, but he refused to help. Mohammed withstood him and told him God would supply the visas but the man said it was impossible. A week later they miraculously had their extended visas.

After much prayer, they felt called to move to Cypress. They arrived without knowing what God had in store but, upon touring an Iraqi refugee camp, knew God was calling them to start a church in the camp. “It’s impossible,” they were told. It had been tried before and failed, but God established and blessed that church. So much so, that once again they were asked to leave. They were given seven days to get out of the country and once again they found themselves without visas or anywhere to go. They decided to apply for a visa to England and again were told it would be impossible. Once again, a week later they had those impossible visas.

And I could go on, and on, and on, but space doesn’t permit, which is okay because Mohammed asked if I thought the story would make an interesting book, and I do, so stay tuned.

Today Mohammed and Sally Mohammed live in Orangeville, Ontario where God has called them to start “The School of Muslim Ministry.” The school receives applications from people around the world, bringing them to Canada to be trained in how to minister to Muslins in their own countries. In cooperation with Rod Hembree of "Quick Study" Television and, Mohammed and Sally also produce a half hour television program in Arabic called “Good Friends” which is streamed over the internet. Any Arab speaking person with a computer can now hear the gospel in his or her own language from anywhere in the world. Mohammed speaks in churches when invited, but accept a note of caution: he will not accept an honorarium or allow anyone to take up a collection. People are welcome to sponsor students who want to come to Canada and be trained, but as for Mohammed himself, he says, “I cannot take money from man for preaching the Word of God. God has always supplied my need, and He always will.”

And I thought I knew what it was to live by faith.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Avoiding Didacticism and predigested ideas in our writing — Martin

Too often as believers, we feel we need to justify our art by encasing within it a message. This comes from a belief that the art itself is not important on its own, that God is only interested in having us preach.

What kills poetry — and other creative writing — more than anything else is preaching. If you have a message to teach, even if you write it in beautiful verse, it is in danger of not really being poetry. That’s not to say that poems don’t teach us; they do. Poems consider things, observe things, reflect on things — but good poems don’t tell the reader what to think.

The two most difficult subjects to write well about, are Love and God. The two subjects on which more bad poetry is written than any other, are Love and God. The two subjects that it is most important to write good poetry about, are Love and God. The problem is we have often decided what we want to say, or what we should say, before we write the poem. Think of Mother’s Day Cards. In his psalms David wasn’t afraid to say what you weren’t supposed to say to God; he questioned Him, and encountered truth.

Poetry is not about a topic — such as Love or God — poetry is interacting with ideas that matter — beauty, truth, mystery, emotion, love tragedy, life, death, and God — in a process of discovery; discovery for both the poet and the reader. If you’ve already decided what all the facts are, and you want to convey those thoughts to an audience, write a sermon; don’t write a poem. As H.R. Rookmaaker has famously said, “Art needs no justification.”

D.S. Martin is Music Critic for Christian Week; his poetry chapbook So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed is available at
His full-length poetry book, Poiema (Wipf & Stock), will be available in September.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Envy can be fruitful - Aarsen

I just finished the latest Harlan Coban book and when I put it down, I couldn't stop thinking about it. The book was a like a chapter by chapter adventure with so many twists and turns that each time I thought I had solved the puzzle, something else would come at me. He wrote about characters who had layer upon layer of secrets and when he was all done, all the secrets intertwined and all the loose ends tied up.

As I was reading, I would put the book down from time to time not only enthralled, but also suffering one of the seven deadlies. Envy. Envy with a capital E. How did he do it? . How did he keep all these intertwining story lines straight in his own mind? I was jealous of his ability to entertain and to keep me guessing and thinking and reading. So to get envy out of my mind I imagined him pacing, staring out the window, dropping into his computer chair with a sigh of disgust, scribbling endless notes and pinning them to an overflowing bulletin board. In short, I had to picture him doing what I do when I write a book. I needed to do this to remind me that the stories that come, in the neat package of a published book, don't just happen. I need a reminder of the anguish behind the words. That any time an author commits to putting words on a page, they are entering a world fraught with anxiety and struggle and blinking cursors that beat out a steady rhythm that mocks their efforts to come up with new, fresh and original.

I need to think that of other authors or I would be too hard on myself. There are too many times in my writing day that I go through the pacing, the sighing, the blinking cursor. I used to think this was a sign that I don't have anything to say, but I'm realizing this is simply part of the writing.

But I've also realized that Envy isn't such a bad thing to indulge in when I read an especially gripping or moving book. Envy often sends me back to these same books dissecting and trying to figure out how and why this book held my attention and made me want to keep reading.

And then after analyzing and dissecting, try to apply that to my own work. As a writer I'm always learning and trying to do better. So envying can be turned to good, if I"m using it as a prod to make me better.

Carolyne Aarsen

Friday, May 23, 2008

Someone Has My Attention - Mann

As I sit down at my computer this morning, I look at two writing deadlines rise up in front of me. I quickly procrastinate when I hear a melodic clink announce emails dropping into my inbox. This seems a logical reason to procrastinate from these deadlines. The emails contain the usual stories, jokes and pictures from friends. One in particular catches my eye: two deer finding their way through a recent snowfall in South Dakota. You probably received this one too. I wonder what a picture an hour later would reveal—then reluctantly, I turn back to my manuscript.

Within a few minutes, more emails drop. This time I nip in to find messages of urgency. I read about the building tension and anxiety as we prepare to celebrate another Write! Canada conference. I study words defining fear and trust vying for a friend’s energy in a recent tragedy. I see gratitude and thanksgiving soar in a grandnephew’s accomplishment. And I realize once again we share a human condition of needing God’s assuring love in all the twists and turns of life.

Although deadlines seem to give adequate time when we set them, they have a way of slipping into the immediate. I’d like to fill each day with the easy things of life, well, maybe some days. Yet, when I feel up to my neck in the wake of daily struggles and celebrations, I keep my eyes on the One who will make a way for me.

Donna Mann, author of Take Time To Make Memories (1996)
Award-winning WinterGrief (2003)
Award-sinning Aggie's Storms (2007)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Teacher Within - Shepherd

What happens to us when we confront a learning situation is determined by our inner state. When we use the opportunities that arise to sort out our internal world, we prepare to explore new concepts.
A woman’s tears taught Fred Rogers this profound lesson about attuning to what is happening inside. In his book The World According to Mister Rogers (Hyperion, New York, 2003, page 126), the well-known Presbyterian minister who hosted the captivating children’s television show: "Mister Roger’s Neighborhood" recounts the incident. As a seminary student, he vacationed at a small town in New England. Sunday morning he went to hear a visiting preacher. In his opinion, the sermon was the worst he had ever heard.
As the sermon concluded, Fred Rogers looked at the woman beside him and saw her tears. Then he heard her murmur, “He said exactly what I needed to hear.”
That morning he learned that how we come to worship profoundly impacts the value of that time of worship for us. What is happening inside will determine the impact of what we hear.
Fred Rogers admits, “Somehow the words of that poorly crafted sermon had been translated into a message that spoke to her heart. On the other hand, I had come in judgment, and I heard nothing but the faults. “ Coming with an attitude of need to fill the void in her life, she received teaching that helped her find her way. The seminary student’s failure to recognize his inner needs prevented him from hearing anything of value.
Fred Rogers learned his lesson well. He came to value and encourage that awareness we need to develop the world within, so we can learn to allow God to speak in the silent place and take us into new explorations about life and about ourselves.
An example was an event that happened at the White House many years later. Many distinguished educators gathered for a conference where they were presenting before the President their accumulated academic theories of education. Among them was Fred Rogers. Since time was limited, each presenter was permitted a maximum of eight minutes for their discourse. When Mister Rogers’ turn came, he began by inviting those who were present to take the first three minutes and recall the teacher or instructor who had had the most profound impact on their lives.
People were astonished that he would waste three minutes of his valuable talking time this way. However, several months later, some of the same educators gathered for another event. As they talked together they discovered that the only speaker who had left a lasting impact was Fred Rogers. They did not remember the theories or profound wisdom that had been shared by the other speakers. However, all of them could recall the person they thought about during the three minutes at the beginning of Mister Rogers’ presentation and what he had said about the impact of such a teacher. Maybe the greatest teacher is to one who helps us learn to listen and attend to the still small voice within.

Eleanor Shepherd

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Way That God Made Me - Meyer

For a variety of reasons, I have struggled all my life with a poor self image. In more recent years, I have come to accept my teeth, and hair, and body size and shape. Most days, I can think and feel beyond the flaws, and interact confidently with people around me. Most days, I feel “comfortable in my own skin.”

Not yesterday…

Yesterday, I wished that God would give me darker skin and jet black hair, if even for just a few hours.

I was at the Norway House Cree Nation 2008 Staff Conference. Out of about 200 people attending the conference, there were maybe one, or perhaps two, white people; the rest were First Nations.

I was invited to have a book table there.

The books that I was selling were written about, and for, First Nations people. The setting of the series is Rabbit Lake, a fictional First Nations community but also includes a tourist camp nearby. The main character in one of my books is Colin Hill, who is Ojibway, although there are many cultural backgrounds represented throughout the series. The stories touch on issues that are common to many cultures (drug and alcohol addiction, and child sexual abuse) but also refer to specific First Nations issues such as Indian Residential School.

The reason why I write in this setting, with these characters, and about these issues, could also quite fairly be described as “the way God made me.” The family that He placed me into, the setting where I grew up, and the issues I encountered as a child, all combined to produce in me this internal story that clamors to be told. I write the things I feel passionate about. I write the things that I can’t not write about.

Sometimes, it’s awkward being a Caucasian of uncertain ancestry writing books for, and about, First Nations people.

But I’ve stopped (almost!) trying to figure out why God made me the way I am. He did it. I trust Him. ‘Nuf said.

Dorene Meyer, author of Deep Waters

“Set in the fictional Ojibway community of Rabbit Lake, Deep Waters will transport you into Canada’s far north for a compelling story of enduring love and sustaining faith.”

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Dr Henry Wilson, Big Baby Brother - Hird

When we think of ground-breakers in the field of children and communication, names like Dr. Piaget from France or Dr. Montessori from Italy may come to mind. From a Canadian perspective, Dr. Henry Wilson made an enormous contribution to modeling healthy communication between adults and children. Dr. Henry Wilson was called "Big Baby Brother" because of his uncanny ability to communicate with clarity and compassion to children of all ages. His own daughter, Madeline, said that "the secret of his success with children in a great measure was due to his adaptability and his own youthful spirit." He was never too big to become as a little child to children. He was never too holy to fail to be human at the same time; never too busy or preoccupied to fail to be gracious and empathetic. Despite the enormous pain that he had experienced in his life, he was often seen with a smile on his face, and laughter on his lips. Twice he had seen his wives die during childbirth, leaving him a widower with three young children. Then tragically his only son, while boating, slipped overboard, and was crushed to death by a paddlewheel. One of Dr. Wilson’s favorite quotations was "The mark of rank in nature is capacity for pain, and the anguish of the singer makes the sweetness of the strain."

His own daughter Madeline commented that "he was really just a grown-up boy. His work among the children was no mere studied professionalism." Henry Wilson could scarcely sit on a public platform and behave himself if there were a number of children in the audience. Invariably he’d be seen making signals to the children, laughing aloud in happy self-forgetfulness, or holding three or four of them on his knees. Part of Dr. Wilson’s secret was that he was always natural, and therefore enjoyed the naturalness of children, especially their love of laughter. Studies have shown that pre-schoolers laugh 400 times a day, in contrast to the mere 15 laughs a day from adults. Dr. Wilson was often called "the Sunny Man". "Pre-eminent above all his personal qualities", said A.B. Simpson, "was his invincible cheerfulness, hopefulness, and joyousness."

Dr. Wilson started a Children’s Alliance Fellowship which reached 5,000 children, each one of them praying for another child in an overseas country. Each week he wrote a magazine article specifically for children entitled "B.B.B." (Big Baby Brother). Henry Wilson was a ground-breaker in tearing down racial barriers between children. He had a particular love for the children’s song "Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight."

Dr. Henry Wilson was born in Peterborough, Ontario in the year 1841. At an early age he won the Wellington scholarship and entered Trinity College, ultimately receiving a Doctorate of Divinity in 1883. His first ministry was as curate of the Cathedral of St. George’s Kingston, Ontario. There he consistently ministered for 17 years until one day "disaster" struck:...He met the Salvation Army.

General William Booth of the Salvation Army

In those days, few had ever heard of the Salvation Army, and what they had heard was treated with great suspicion. Dr. Henry Wilson, a highly educated and cultured Anglican, committed the unpardonable social sin of being seen with the likes of the Salvation Army. In Dr. Wilson’s own words, "I found myself one night kneeling at the penitent form of the Army, pleading for pardon and peace, and needing both, as much as the drunkard on one side of me and the lost woman on the other. I saw myself as never before, a poor lost soul, just as much as they, so far as the need for a new heart and a right spirit was concerned." Initially the Dean of St. George’s Cathedral told Dr. Wilson that he approved of the Salvation Army and would stand by him if trouble came. When 80 members of the Salvation Army publicly received communion at the Anglican Cathedral, Dean Farthing openly thanked God for their coming. Dr. Wilson’s ministry expanded dramatically, with over 300 young people now flocking to his weekly bible study.

Then, out of the blue, the Dean pulled the plug, and ejected Dr. Wilson from the Cathedral, insisting that all connection with the Salvation Army be severed before Dr. Wilson could return. Dr. Wilson’s own bishop offered him little support. Instead his bishop spoke of "the grotesque in the Army’s performances" and Dr. Wilson being "betrayed into (his) eccentricity by cerebral excitement". In an age when organ music reigned as Queen, the drums and trumpets of the innovative Salvation Army were seen by his bishop as regrettable "extravagances." General William Booth, who founded the Salvation Army in England, was famous for shocking middle-class English society by his bold innovations. He freely borrowed from the beer-hall tunes, and gave them new lyrics, saying, "Why should the devil have all the good music?" When General Booth visited North America in 1907, Dr. Wilson was there with his hand raised and his voice uplifted in blessing over the bowed and silvered head of General Booth. For his friendship with the Salvation Army, Dr. Wilson paid a great price.

Fortunately for Dr. Henry Wilson, Bishop Henry Potter of New York was far kinder to this innovative Anglican, and gave him a position assisting another well-known Canadian, Dr. William Rainsford at St. George’s. Dr. Wilson began reaching out to the down & out by renting the back of a saloon each Sunday morning for a worship service. Even though Dr. Wilson was fluent in the study of Greek, Hebrew, and Latin, he never lost touch with the basic needs of the poor and needy.

Dr. Henry Wilson was very ill after so many years of overworking on his Doctorate. So Dr. Rainsford introduced him to another Canadian friend, Dr. A.B. Simpson, who also destroyed his health while at University before being miraculously healed. Through A.B. Simpson, Henry Wilson learnt about the healing power of Jesus’ resurrection life that is available to each of us. After anointing for healing, Henry Wilson was miraculously healed. He said years later at age 67 " I am in every sense a younger, fresher man than I was at thirty."

Henry Wilson went on to become A.B. Simpson’s closest friend and associate, serving as the first President of the International Missionary Alliance, which sent thousands of outreach workers all over the world sharing the love of Jesus. Among his outreach ventures was the care of over 1,000 orphan children living in India. He also served as the President of the Seaman’s Institute, the President of the Nyack Seminary, the Senior Field Superintendent for the Christian & Missionary Alliance, and the Chaplain of the Madgdalene Home for women coming off the streets. All this he did interdenominationally with the full blessing of his Anglican (Episcopal) Bishop who even authorized him to serve as Dr. A.B. Simpson’s associate, serving Anglican communion each Sunday in a interdenominational context. Dr. Henry Wilson is another Canadian who tore down barriers between races, denominations, social classes, and age distinctions. May we all learn like Henry Wilson to be "Big Baby Brothers" and "Big Baby Sisters" in bridging the generation gap between adults and children.

Rev. Ed Hird Rector. St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver
Anglican Coalition in Canada
-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier
-a chapter in the award-winning book 'Battle for the Soul of Canada'

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Show, Don't Tell - Arends

Last month I was going back and forth with my editor regarding revisions on a column. Arguing in defense of keeping a particular story in the piece (despite word count overage issues), I explained that I felt the illustration was important because I was trying to “balance abstract ideas with concrete embodiments.”

“I agree we should ‘balance abstract ideas with concrete embodiments’,” he said patiently and, mercifully, only a little patronizingly. “Around here, we call that ‘Show, Don’t Tell’.”

Show, Don’t Tell. It’s the writer’s mantra and mandate. (“Actually,” my editor clarified, “it’s show AND tell. Just avoid all-tell.”) We want people to see and smell and hear and touch and taste the truth we convey. Beyond getting a reader to embrace a particular idea, we hope and pray the idea will jump off the page and embrace the reader. That’s no small thing to ask of some scribbles (or fonts) on paper.

The way to a reader’s heart, mind and soul is the imagination. In this media-saturated world, if we fail to engage a person at the imagination-level, we won’t keep her for long. Fortunately, there are Imagination Scientists who study the way the human imagination works. Whenever I teach songwriting at a local college, I reference the work of a writer and researcher named Chris Blake. His intriguing article, “The Imagination of the Listener” can be found in The Craft and Business of Songwriting by John Braheny (p.46-56).

Blake notes that when the imagination receives a new cue (for example, words in a song or on paper), it constructs an image to go with that cue based on a whole host of stored previous experiences. It turns out that the strongest cues (collections of words) are simple, concrete, action-oriented images that invite the imagination to engage. Abstractions (huge and important concepts like faith, hope, justice, anger, salvation, sin and restoration) don’t work in the imagination. They actually turn it away.

Blake has fun with the famous country song “The Gambler”. Remember that one?

You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.

You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table.
There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.

The song’s writer, Don Schlitz, outlines a whole philosophy of living in that song. But what if, Blake asks, Schlitz had just gone with abstractions rather than concrete images that represent them? You’d have something like:

It’s important to know when to persist in trying to achieve your goals and when to give up.
You have to know when to decide to give up what you’re doing gradually and to know when to give up quickly.
You should never make a judgment about how your life is going while it’s going on.
There’ll be plenty of time to look back to see how it all went after your life is over.

Try singing that one!

My students laugh when I give them that example. But the truth is, the vast majority of overtly spiritual music and prose takes just that approach:

I praise God for His mercy.
I am grateful for salvation.
Thank you for restoration.
God is a God of justice.

In our songwriting classes we go through our lyrics and try to replace every passive image with an active one, every general image with a specific, detailed one, and, most importantly, every abstract concept with a concrete representation of it. Lately, I’ve been trying to do the same with much of my prose. It’s hard! But I’ve come to believe that the great challenge and holy calling of those of us who aspire to convey spiritual truth with words is to show the truth we seek to tell whenever possible.

Our best teacher in this, of course, is Jesus. He showed us the tenacity of mercy in a prodigal’s horizon-scanning dad, the power of the gospel in seed and soil, and the mysteries of atonement in bread and wine. In taking this approach, He was taking after the Father who called Abraham outside on a clear night to show him his destiny in a thousand shining stars … the same Father who lets us see what His love looks like by showing us Jesus.

Carolyn Arends

now available: Wrestling With Angels
"Carolyn observes keenly, reflects deeply, and renders it all poetically. Wrestling With Angels is a book I can give to almost anyone with confidence it will speak truth in the inmost places." -- Mark Buchanan, author

Discipline - Harris

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge cloud of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that hinders us in our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us," Hebrews 12: 1

The sunshine is calling me.

For the past three hours, I've wanted to spring from this desk and go walking on the pathways along the coulees. But I've managed to stay here, at my desk, doing work I've been avoiding. You know, things like accounting and finishing media lists. Little jobs I like to put off. Jobs I must do if I am to making a living at the work I feel called to do.

But here I am. It's barely four p.m. And my list has dwindled down to nearly nothing.

Already, thoughts are beginning to flow. The brain clutter is gone.

I have a free half hour I can use to head out into the sunshine and, when I get back to my desk, I will have time to work on an article that is on tomorrow's 'to do' list.

They say that a messy desk is a sign of creativity. Maybe it is for some people. Not for me, though.

My desk usually reflects my state of mind. If it's disorganized, so am I.

I feel blessed once the 'to do's' are done.

Sometimes, it's a guilt free hour in the sunshine. Somtimes it's just not having nagging 'need to do's' distracting me from my writing. But the reward is always worth it for me.

What about you?

Must go.

God's creation is ablaze with light. And the sunshine is calling me.

Jane Harris

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Confessions of a Soccer Mom - Grove

There is a commercial on TV that makes me laugh. An office working woman puts her money into the vending machine, but the thing malfunctions and she doesn't get her treat. She nearly walks away, but a co-worker steps up and says something to the effect of, "Go get it! That's your tasty treat! Go, go, go!" Soon another co-worker joins the fray and together they cheer her on as she assaults the machine, pounding and kicking, throwing her weight against it, until, at last, victory! She retrieves her treat from the vending machine and the co-workers cheer hard, arms raised, red-faced, and glowing. The scene fades and the words "Cheering Works" fill the screen. (It's an ad for some sports team in the US, encouraging fans to come out and support their team).

The sentiment holds true. Cheering works.

Last night we (hubby, me, The Amazing Benjabean, and Princess McGilla, that's here there, smiling at you, decked out in full princess gear) marched to the park to witness the clash of the wee little titans. Heather (our daughter, better known as Princess McGilla, for reasons that are too silly to go into), age 5 was joining her team, The Lynx, in facing off against another team of 5 year olds (don't know their names, but they had lovely red jerseys and fell down a lot).

Hubby and I set up our chairs, kissed our daughter, fortifying her for the big battle ahead. She raised her trembling chin, put on a brave face, grabbed a ball and headed for the field. Ben ran off to a nearby playground.

The game began! The children were off like a herd of turtles! On the red team a smaller child began crying for reasons that have yet to be determined. Another child kicked at the ball, missed and fell down. On our team (the blue team), a tall (relatively speaking) blond girl ran rough shod over everyone, even her own team mates. In response, a boy on our team began rolling around on the grass and throwing it in the air. A second boy, realizing he had a captive audience in the adults lining the field, broke into a dance routine that ended with a fantastic display of jazz hands. The only two children who remembered they were there to play soccer scored goal after goal, running up and down the field breathless and flushed.

The coaches, young, seemingly healthy young men, were helpless in the face of so much juvenile shenanigans.

What to do?

Hubby and I looked at each other and smiled. And then we started cheering for the kids. Anytime a child, ANY child made contact with the ball we hollered our joy. When someone kicked the ball in the general direction of the goal we stomped out feet, clapped our hands and shouted, "Good job! Way to go!"

The other parents seemed dazed. Bewildered. Then, slowly, a few of them began to cheer as well. The response was amazing. Children began waving from the field, bowing shyly, and one or two blew kisses. We cheered louder. I would have thrown roses if I'd had some. Suddenly the whole place was lit up with cheering. With parents who were shouting out their love to their children. The children started running faster, not necessarily in the right direction, but still. . .

The boy who had been picking grass was now grabbing great handfuls of it and throwing it in the air, a make-shift ticker tape parade. The boy who had been dancing was now doing an impressive soft shoe quite near the ball (at one point I shouted out to him, "Jaben! You are wonderful, but you are employing the wrong skill set. He smiled and blew me a kiss).

And my daughter? My lovely, sweet faced cherub? She ran harder, faster, and longer than anyone out there. She kicked the ball, scored a goal, kicked the shins of another child, ran in the wrong direction, and bonked heads with a team mate. And when the game was over she was smiling.

We were all smiling. Kids, parents, exasperated coaches. All smiling. We had just had a wonderful time. Kids were hugged, water was guzzled, atta-boys abounded.

Cheering works.

Who can you cheer for today?
Bonnie Grove

Monday, May 12, 2008

My Love/Hate Relationship with Awards - Lindquist

I hate awards. Most of the time. Except maybe when I win one. Then they aren't so bad.

The shortlist for the Canadian Christian Writing Awards will be made public soon. All across Canada, people will read it and sigh or smile; burst into tears or do a little happy dance; vow to never write another word or race to their computers to begin a new manuscript....

Awards are emotional. No matter how much your brain tells you "There were a number of entrants"..."We can't all win every time"..."It's just someone's opinion," not being shortlisted - or not winning - hits you right in the solar plexus. You think "I'm not good enough"..."They hate me"... "I'll never be any good"..."I may as well quit now."

Of course, sooner or later, most of us eventually talk ourselves out of the negative feelings. And we commit to trying one more time. Or perhaps we get that dogged "I'll show them" look in our eyes and not only decide to keep writing, but to keep writing until I win one of those stupid awards!

Like most people, I see the value in awards. Five reasons to enter awards contests come to mind.

1. Primarily, they're great for promotion. You can call yourself an award-winning writer. You can add the award to your resume, where it looks pretty good. You can put a photo of yourself getting the award on your website. If you're an author, you may be able to put a little sticker on the cover that says "Finalist" or "Winner."

2. They can also help keep you motivated. You can hang the certificate on your wall and look at it in times of frustration or writer's block and remind yourself that someone once thought you were good.

3. A bigger benefit in my mind is that they provide a standard of excellence. How much money one makes or how many copies of the magazine or book are sold aren't necessarily measures of greatness. There are beautifully written things that few people ever see. Awards can provide a way of recognition for work that is well-done but doesn't have a large audience.

4. Awards can also provide a guide for aspiring writers - something they can read and study to see what something "good" looks like, and know what to emulate.

5. If there are comments from the judges, while they can hurt, they can also help you grow as a writer and improve your work for the next time.

But there is a negative side to awards.

1. They are exceedingly subjective. While there are set standards, and judges are chosen for their expertise, the final decisions usually come down to personal preferences. And everyone needs to keep that in mind. While it does occasionally happen that a particular writer's work is at a completely different level than the other entrants, and ten judges out of ten would always pick that writer to win, more often there are two or three or even six entries that are very close, and given a different judge, there might have been a different shortlist or winner.

I recall a time when I was helping with The Word Guild Awards when there were two judges. In the short story category, the two judges had ranked the 6 entries exactly opposite. So the story that was the best in one judge's mind was the worst in the other judge's, and vice versa. What to do? We enlisted the aid of a third judge, added up all the marks, and awarded the prize to the one with the highest score from the three judges. Was that fair? Who knows? Would a different third judge have altered the results? Probably.

2. Competition can be divisive. And it can create a barrier between people who might be friends but find it difficult when they are writing in a similar area and therefore have to compete with each other a lot - especially if one tends to always win over the other.

3. Whenever there is a winner, there is by definition a loser. And I hate that. I wish there was a different way to acknowledge those who do well without seemingly putting down those who don't. But I don't have the answer.

Personally, I hate competition. I'd like to just erase it totally from the world. But it seems to be part of human nature to compete. And we do need a way to acknowledge that which is well-done and beautiful and inspiring. So I guess, for now, awards are here to stay.

What should you do when you see the results?

1. Ask God to help you react the right way, so you don't get a swelled head if you win or go to pieces if you don't.

2. Don't take them too seriously. In my experience, you win some, you lose some. And life goes on.

3. Don't ignore the judges' comments if/when you get them; study them and try to understand how you could improve. Yes, occasionally the judge might have totally missed what you were trying to do, but, normally, the judge's comments will help you if you think them over.

4. No matter what you do or how many awards you win or don't win, continue to do your best each time. You'll be rewarded some time, though maybe not with an award.

5. Keep asking God what he wants you to do, and do that. Obedience is far better than any award.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Honouring our Moms on Mother's Day-Hird

Honouring our Moms on Mother’s Day
by Rev. Ed Hird+

For nineteen Mother’s Days, I have been privileged to write articles in the Deep Cove Crier.

In my first May 1989 DCC issue, I commented that “No computer, no microchip, no hi-tech invention can ever replace that very special person in a child's life. Motherhood is one of the most demanding, time-consuming, diversified roles in our modern culture.” On Mother’s Day 1990, I prayed that “many moms may feel loved by their husbands in a way that they have never before experienced, that the mothers of our children may feel listened to and cared for not only on the 2nd Sunday of May, but all year round.” On Mother’s Day 2,000, I gave thanks for mother-in-laws, especially my own mother-in-law Vera who passed away that summer. On Mother’s Day 2003, I wrote: “Where would we be without our mothers? Mothers keep the world on track. Mothers never stop caring. Mothers never stop giving.”

Those of you who have been reading my Deep Cove Crier articles for the past two decades will know that I am a big Mother’s Day fan. God knew what he was talking about when he built the honouring of Mothers right into the 10 Commandments itself. God said in the 10 Commandments that honouring our mothers (and fathers) would actually affect how long and how well we lived out our lives.

Mothers are mentioned 226 times in the bible. The first mother, Eve, was called the mother of all living. Sarah, the wife of Abraham, was called the mother of nations. Moses’ mother gave her own child away to an Egyptian princess just to spare his life. Samuel’s mother dedicated her son to the Lord at a very young age. King Solomon reminded young people in Proverbs 4 not to forsake the law of their mother. Young Timothy’s leadership was based on the prayers of his faithful mother Eunice and grandmother Lois.

Why does God want us to honour our mothers? God knows that when we honour and love our mothers, everyone wins. God wins, our mothers win and we win. Proverbs 10:1 teaches that when we foolishly do not honour our mothers, we bring grief to them. Many mothers literally die of broken hearts because of the selfishness and waywardness of their adult children. The Good Book teaches that there is a spiritual law of reaping and sowing. As the famous movie “Gone With the Wind” reminds us, the person who brings trouble on his family will only inherit the wind. (Proverbs 11:29). Honouring our mothers is in our own best interests.

It is very easy to focus on our parent’s flaws. Proverbs 15:20 says that the foolish man despises his mother. Have you ever noticed the number of interesting swear-words that involve the use of the term ‘mother’? There is so much anger and hatred in our culture towards the feminine. Proverbs 30:17 symbolically says that those who dishonour their mothers will have their eyes pecked out by the ravens and vultures. To reject motherhood is to go blind to the things that really matter in life. I believe it is time for us to rediscover the ancient wisdom of the Ten Commandments, the very foundation of our Canadian legal and moral system. Honouring our mothers is not a multiple-choice option.

Our culture has a tendency to make fun of women when they are older, calling them disparaging names and treating them as irrelevant. It is no wonder that so many women feel afraid to admit their real age. Proverbs 23:22 says: “Do not despise your mother when she is old.” Blessing our mothers is a wonderful privilege that we should not miss. Many people sadly save all their blessings for the funeral eulogy. My challenge to you is to not wait until your mother is dead and buried. Bless her today before it is too late. Give thanks for her this week, because life is so short. And make a fuss of her this coming Mother’s Day on May 11th. She deserves it and needs it. Happy Mother’s Day.

The Reverend Ed Hird
Rector, St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver, BC
Anglican Coalition in Canada
-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Walk The Labyrinth To Find One’s Spiritual Path - Lawrence

I have just returned home from a weekend retreat at St. John’s Anglican Convent in Toronto ( )—three days of relative silence, prayer (both personal and corporate), along with four sessions led by two of the Sisters of St. John. These sessions introduced us to praying with the labyrinth and creating a mandala as another way of getting in touch with the Divine Mystery, which is God.

I have long been familiar with walking as a means of freeing the mind to go beyond itself in order that the soul may find God. When I was writing my two books of meditations I often found that walking enabled me to hear God’s word more clearly, clarifying the points I was trying to put into words. The kind of walking that I do every day is linear walking—along the driveway and onto the country road, in a shopping mall, or even on the ground floor of my house.

Labyrinth walking is along a circular path rather than a straight path. A labyrinth goes along an ever curving path towards a central space, now appearing to be close to the centre and now seemingly further away. It is like life’s path toward God—now we seem to be close to the Divine and now we appear to be further away from God, but we are ever on the road to the Sacred.

The first time I walked the labyrinth I felt, from time to time, that I was lost. Though we had been assured that we couldn’t get lost while walking the labyrinth path—unlike a maze, the path is unicursal; there is but one way in and one way out—yet it took so long for me to get to the centre and at times there was another person facing me on the same path that I felt uncertain of myself.

In the same way, when we walk along the road of life, we sometimes feel lost or uncertain as to whether we are on the right path or not. Walking the labyrinth reassured me that as long as we are walking through life under the guidance of the Holy Spirit we cannot get lost. Even though we may feel far away from the Divine, as long as we keep in prayer with God we are where we are meant to be in our spiritual life.

On my first labyrinth walk, I tried to keep myself open to God’s presence repeating the words, I open myself to you O Lord. On my second labyrinth walk as I walked slowly to the centre I repeated the words, Step by step I come to you O Lord. At the centre I felt a great peace and blessing come upon me. My walk out of the labyrinth, back out into the world so to speak, was done at a quicker pace and I repeated the words that I was given, I am sent as on a mission; here am I, send me.

In the afternoon session, we were encouraged to put God’s message from our labyrinth experience into art form by creating a mandala. God spoke to us individually and as a group over the course of our weekend retreat. We stand on the threshold of Christ, the door, and go in and out and find fresh pasture; we walk the labyrinth way through life with God, ever going where He leads, maturing in the Holy Spirit.

© Judith Lawrence

Author of Glorious Autumn Days: Meditations for the Wisdom Years; and Grapes From The Vine, Book of Mystical Poetry. Both available at

Author of Prayer Companion: A Treasury of Personal Meditation, available at Chapters and

Web Site:

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Colour and Aroma - Laycock

I leaned over my friend’s shoulder as he crouched on the riverbank. Clear water swirled over the dirt and gravel and spilled over the edge of the large pan in his hands. Slowly the larger stones washed away, leaving only fine black sand. He moved the pan gently, then stopped. “There,” he said, holding it up for me to look. “See it?”

I peered at the spot where he pointed. Tiny slivers glinted in the sun. “That’s it?”

My friend nodded. “Enough colour to keep us going.”

Those tiny flecks of gold found on the creek that day resulted in a major excavation of that area. A crew of men and machinery descended and the hunt for more gold was on. Similar scenes have been played out in the gold fields of the Yukon for over a hundred years. A small sliver gleaming in a pan was all it took for men to move mountains, dam rivers and create feats of engineering to equal the Panama Canal. All it took was a tiny bit of “colour.”

In his book, The Only Necessary Thing, Henri Nouwen writes: “The spiritual life is a long and often arduous search for what you have already found...The desire for God’s unconditional love is the fruit of having been touched by that love.”

When you find a sliver of love, you seek more of it. When you find a sliver of truth you tune your ear for more. When you find a sliver of God, your whole being longs for more of Him. That longing in our hearts is not unlike sitting down to a good meal at a good restaurant. The plates put before us steam with delicious aromas. We take the utensils in hand and take the first bite. Then another and another, until the food is consumed. Momentarily satisfied, we begin planning a return trip to the same place. We have tasted and it was good. Our natural instinct is to want more.

God has put his colour all around us – signs that He is here. His aroma surrounds us – it rises from the words of His people and His Word, the Bible. There is only one catch. The miners in the Yukon had to find that first sliver of gold by testing the ground. Sitting in a restaurant surrounded by good smells won’t convince you that the food is delicious. You have to take the first bite.

In Psalm 34:8 David says – “Taste and see that the Lord is good...” He did, and found more love and forgiveness than he had a right to. We will too. We’ve seen the colour – the glories of His creation that surrounds us. All be have to do is dig – look around and see. We’ve smelled the aroma – the wisdom of His word and his people. All we have to do is take a bite – read His word often, surround ourselves with Christian friends and mentors. What we will find is far more precious than gold, far more satisfying than any gourmet meal. It will mean engaging in an adventure far more exciting than any gold rush, far more satisfying than a visit to the most expensive restaurant in the world.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Deadline - Wright

I’m facing a deadline. The manuscript for my devotional book, Down a Country Road, has to be off in the next day or two. By this time in the writing process, I’m so sick of the manuscript I would almost use it to light a bonfire in my back yard. Well, okay that’s a bit of hyperbole.

A book seems to take me forever to write. Years of writing: re-reading, re-writing, revising. Then sending it to a critique group. That itself takes a year and provokes another round, or twenty, of revising.

At last, it’s time to interest a publisher. That means working through the agony of a book proposal: preparing a dynamite query letter, writing outlines and summaries and market analyses, picking sample chapters and duplicating letters of recommendation. Every page must be perfect.

After picking six or ten prospects I launch my book proposal into the blizzard of pitches raining down on hapless publishers.

Then I wait and wait, and wait some more. Should I send a reminder? Should I call by phone or send an e-mail?

Finally, a reply arrives. "Send manuscript." Wow, a bite. I oblige.

More waiting until in early 2007 the treasured words are heard. "We love your book. We’d like to include it in our publishing schedule for the fall of 2008." Oh, that far off? More discussion ensues. The publisher asks for a few changes. A contract is signed. I breathe a sigh and move on to other things.

Ten months later the publisher asks me to reduce all chapters to a given word count. Instead of tearing out what little hair I have left, I set to work again, trimming 1200 word chapters to 960. Now that is tough.

Happily, in the process of this final revision, I recapture some of the passion that led me to write the book in the first place. I remind myself of lessons learned about God and his grace from butterflies and partridges, storms and spring.

Even though I have another long wait ahead until I will actually hold the book in my hands, I’m satisfied. I know I’ll have done the best I could to share with potential readers the wonder and glory of God along our country road.

Friday, May 02, 2008

The Wisest Fool - Austin

The thought hit me the other day, unwelcome, but not new, that the wisest man who ever lived also ranks among the greatest fools. The man who penned most of the Proverbs, the man who shared the passion of the Song of Songs, the man who agonized through Ecclesiastes and Lamentations – is the same man who turned his back on the very advice he articulated so brilliantly. The epilogue of his life must rank amongthe great tragedies of history.

Solomon prayed for wisdom when he came to the throne. God gave him wisdom and added wealth and honour in a measure never before seen. Solomon built a magnificent temple to God, yet before his life ended, took the very wealth God had blessed him with and built temples to the gods of some of his wives. He took the honour God had heaped upon him, that gave him almost unlimited power, and he drew a nation into idolatry. He uttered proverbs that warned clearly of the dangers of sexual misconduct, yet most likely never knew the names of many of his wives and concubines. He slept with them with legal sanction, yet likely never knew most of them in any sense except sexually.

The wisest man? The Bible says so, and I’ve never yet won an argument where I’ve tried to prove the Bible wrong. Yet a man who in spite of his wisdom and all God’s blessings, chose to walk a path that violated the very words he had uttered with such clarity that they still resonate thousands of years later.

An unwelcome thought – because – although I’m neither exceptionally wealthy or wise, I’m too much like him in other ways. I don’t have to look far to see the tendency to drift in my own life. I don’t have to look far to see the tendency to take God’s blessings and invest them in ways that dishonour God.

Solomon – a name to both honour and to weep for. A name to learn from and from which to take careful warning.

Will you indulge the early draft of a poem that has seemed to demand expression as I have explored this theme?

The Wisest Fool

Blessed of God, he had no peers.
The wisest of them all.
His wealth and fame reached nations broad, so strange that it should pall. . .
That he should drift away from God
and lead his land astray,
should shun the very truth he spoke;
give idolatry full sway.

The poorest rich man. The wisest fool.
What dare we say for him?
With the very riches giv’n by God
led his nation into sin.
He spoke with wisdom clear and true
and then he lived a lie.
The legacy that was his to give
smeared ere his time to die.

The poorest rich man. The wisest fool.
Yet I’m too much the same.
I soak within God’s goodness
then wallow in sin’s shame.
And desperate – oh – I cry to God
strip away the things that blind
a heart so prone to drift away,
a lazy, wayward mind.

Draw me close. Clasp me tight
like a willful, careless child.
Whisper love into my ears.
Rebuke – but gentle – mild.
Yet discipline. Do all it takes
to keep me close to you.
A pauper’s grave is priceless wealth
if so my love stays true.

© Brian Austin

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