Archive for April, 2012

Rupert Brooke

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

“Now, God be thanked Who has matched us with His hour, and caught our youth, and wakened us from sleeping.” — Rupert Brooke died WWI 1915

A Tire Swing

Thursday, April 5th, 2012
I visited my children’s tire swing this morning. Now empty of bouncing children,  this discarded tired surrogate mistress was once a wild bucking horse, a twirling UFO, a charming Timbuktu prince. My children invaded the universe on this old Michelin radial. They learned that they could soar to the end of the sky and yet return safely back to the sedentary loam. From that old tire they moved into …history. They gracefully wriggled their toes at passing mourning doves and  plowed furrows through sensual pasture. They laughed at passing thunderstorms and frowned at interloping grasshoppers. They dodged maple leaves and smiled at rainbows. From my tire swing. At first they relied on me to launch them into their dreams but as they matured and their legs grew longer and stronger they invaded the twilight below the tire. They took solo trips to the horizon.  They differentiated themselves from time, and pushed away from certainly and poise into a reckless iconoclasm.  They tried to twirl but could not.  They still need me to twirl them; that gives me silent pleasure. Something of their youth was captured in that old tire swing. It is there still.  Something of them is resurrected as I walk to that tire swing and for one fleeting moment our halcyon souls kiss again.  The grass grows wildly underneath the tire swing; there are no protruding appendages plowing my pasture.  Where once pudgy starfighters attacked the cosmos caterpillars wriggle through worn tire threads.. I do not need the pasture but I still need the toes.  If you drive by my farm you will see the tire swing. Stop and listen. Think of my children and their father who twirled his children into adulthood.

Shadrack and his friends

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012
It seems that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego— three teenage Jewish captives in Babylon— have two choices: either bow down and worship great King Nebuchadnezzar or burn. But there is another choice: to obey God. Now comes one of … the most powerful challenges in Scripture, an affirmation so radical, so anti-modern, so brave it defies explanation: “Whether it feels good or not, whether it is convenient, or profitable, or easy to do, we will still obey God. At all costs. Come what may.” Wow! The moment you take a stand like this there will be trouble—the Nebuchadnezzars, the Ahabs, the Herods.–From SAT AND COLLEGE PREPARATION FOR THE CHRSITIAN STUDENTSee More

Wicked Desperate Times

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

I planted my lettuce and sugar peas today. The western Pennsylvania spring can be a frigid, unforgiving lover. I have lost Roma tomato plants to a frost in early June-twice. But but not this year. I feel the earth tilting under my feet and I shall play the harlot and plant my zucchini early. Yes, For I  am a rascal–I shall arise Monday morning and plant my Romas too! I shall wear my t-shirt and I shall dig my 4 inch mounds and I shall defy the vehemence of a PA April!  These are wicked, desperate times.

My Old Fence

Monday, April 2nd, 2012
My old fence. Sad testimony to my procrastination. It needed painting during Clinton’s first administration but I ignored it until the second. I meant to paint it. I remember the day. But that was the day that Manchester United beat Chelsea in overtime in my front yard. I was doing to fix the fence at the end of the last century but that was the day my five year old learned to ride his bike. And I… had the paint out in ’05 but you see that was the day we turned the Germans back at El Alamein. In ’08 my granddaughter and I built a royal palace in Timbuktu and in 2010 my grandson and I saved our fort from wild Dakota Sioux who attacked just at the moment we were going to repair the old fence. Today I am ready again to fix the darn thing–but wait–I hear bombers approaching from the NORTHEAST.  .  .

The End of all Things

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

Edward Gibbon in his seminal work The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire says that the following five attributes marked Rome at its end.  First, a mounting love of affluence.  Second, a widening gap between the very rich and the very poor.  Third, an obsession with sex.  Fourth, freakishness in the arts, masquerading as originality, and enthusiasms pretending to be creativity.  Fifth, an increased desire to live on welfare.  Sound familiar?  Are we looking at Hazael?

That must have been the way the disciples felt.  Only three years with Him.  Three short years.  And while his work seemed to fall on deaf ears, the evil Romans prospered.  Caiphas prospered.  Herod prospered.  Evil would win after all . . . and Elisha wept.

Jesus wept too.  In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus spent the last night of His life. Alone.  He had to die.  He knew it.  And He was so afraid that He wept blood.  Sometimes I think we make the cross into something less than it was.  It was a horrible death.  To wear a cross, for instance, in Jesus’ day, around one’s neck was like wearing an electric chair around our neck today.  No, Hazael will live.  Jesus will die.  And Elisha wept. . .

Elisha began his ministry during the last half of the ninth century B.C.  Leaving his parents’ farm in the upper Jordan valley, he trained under Elijah for several years, then served in the northern kingdom for over fifty years.

Elisha was not isolated and unpredictable as Elijah often was.  Instead, he spent time with people, sharing meals and staying in their homes.  He traveled throughout the kingdom on a donkey, visiting villages and the communities.  Elisha’s miracles among these people reflected a deep compassion for the poor and needy.

Despite his loyalty to Israel, Elisha relentlessly fought against the idol worship of her kings.  Obedience to God’s instructions took him as far north as Damascus, where he appointed the Syrian king who would eventually oppress Israel.  A similar mission in Israel brought the downfall of her evil kings and a massacre of the prophets.

But, Elisha knew all too well, that Hazael would live and someday he would destroy his nation.  The rich and the poor alike would suffer.  They would suffer because the nation was evil. . .  was unfaithful to God.  And Elisha wept . . .

To a large degree, we are to do nothing.  We are to wait.  The Hebrew  understanding of “waiting” is “to stand firmly and actively watch God’s will be revealed.”  The Greeks and the Romans and some of us today tried to build society upon their gods.  But these gods will not be big enough because they are finite, limited.  Even mighty Rome, with all its power, did not have satisfactory answers to the questions plaguing humankind.  So they fell.  They are finished.  They were Hazael.

But we serve a God who never slumbers or sleeps.  A God who in a blink of an eye created the universe.  A God who has no beginning nor an ending.  A God, also, who loves us enough to send His only begotten Son to die for us . . . that is one response to Hazael–embrace the Son of God as our Savior–do not rewrite the rules of the game–play another game!

When the three young students refused to worship mighty Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar they were thrown into the fiery furnace (see Daniel).  “We believe God will deliver us,” they said.  “But even if we die, we shall not worship you.”

Believers, are we willing to stand firm in our faith no matter what the cost?  If we are, then Hazael shall not have our souls . . . even if someday he takes our lives.

Will we stand with Joshua on the edge of the Promised Land and proclaim: “You may follow whom you will but as for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord!”

As Elisha weeps, he stands with saints of all ages–he stands on Carmel with Elijah–with Moses on Horeb–with Abraham on Moriah–and he asks us again, “If Baal is god then worship him; if God is God worship Him! But choose ye this day . . .”

I know that it seems that we are looking into the face of Hazael . .  . and we are.  But let us stand–as countless saints before us stood–let us stand firm and choose life this year. . . eternal life!  If the present home school movement does nothing else let us call our nation to be hopeful in the face of Hazael because . . . our Redeemer liveth!