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For the King


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A Poem by Carl Sandburg

I was at a Jazz-Poetry gathering a while back and one of the beat poets read this poem from Carl Sandburg that I really enjoyed.  I hope you enjoy it as well!

Haze by Carl Sandburg

KEEP a red heart of memories

Under the great gray rain sheds of the sky,

Under the open sun and the yellow gloaming embers.

Remember all paydays of lilacs and songbirds;

All starlights of cool memories on storm paths.

Out of this prairie rise the faces of dead men.

They speak to me. I can not tell you what they say.

Other faces rise on the prairie.

They are unborn. The future.

Yesterday and tomorrow cross and mix on the skyline.

The two are lost in a purple haze. One forgets. One waits.

In the yellow dust of sunsets, in the meadows of vermilion eight o’clock

June nights . . . the dead men and the unborn children speak to me . . . I can not tell you what they say . . . you listen and you know.

I don’t care who you are, man:

I know a woman is looking for you

And her soul is a corn-tassel kissing a west wind.

(The farm-boy whose face is the color of brick-dust, is calling the cows; he will form the letter X with crossed streams of milk from the teats; he will beat a tattoo on the bottom of a tin pail with X’s of milk.)

I don’t care who you are, man:

I know sons and daughters looking for you

And they are gray dust working toward star paths

And you see them from a garret window when you laugh

At your luck and murmur, “I don’t care.”

I don’t care who you are, woman:

I know a man is looking for you

And his soul is a south-west wind kissing a corn-tassel.

(The kitchen girl on the farm is throwing oats to the chickens and the buff of their feathers says hello to the sunset’s late maroon.)

I don’t care who you are, woman:

I know sons and daughters looking for you

And they are next year’s wheat or the year after hidden in the dark and loam.

My love is a yellow hammer spinning circles in Ohio, Indiana. My love is a redbird shooting flights in straight lines in Kentucky and Tennessee. My love is an early robin flaming an ember of copper on her shoulders in March and April. My love is a graybird living in the eaves of a Michigan house all winter. Why is my love always a crying thing of wings?

On the Indiana dunes, in the Mississippi marshes, I have asked: Is it only a fishbone on the beach?

Is it only a dog’s jaw or a horse’s skull whitening in the sun? Is the red heart of man only ashes? Is the flame of it all a white light switched off and the power-house wires cut?

Why do the prairie roses answer every summer? Why do the changing repeating rains come back out of the salt sea wind-blown? Why do the stars keep their tracks? Why do the cradles of the sky rock new babies?

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Church for the City?

I’ve often heard the following quote thrown around as a litmus test for the local church and its engagement with the local community.  I recently went back and forth with some friends about it via facebook.  I’ve copied the conversation and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!

Tim Keller: “If your church was taken out of its community would anyone, other than those attending the church, really care?”

Me:  I’m becoming more & more opposed to this line of reasoning. Where do we get that the church is for the city? Jesus is the head of the church, his body. It’s a foundational question: who’s the church for?? Thoughts?

Friend A:  Paul – I agree, but as the church we have been called into our cities. If we say we are simply for Jesus – the potential danger is we sit there and tell him how much we love Him and do nothing else. If we are being obedient, we are not simply a church that happens to be in a city, but we are a church that for the city — being salt and light and pointing them to Jesus.

Friend B:  my take is that the local church has to dig deep inside and reach out. the church body without seeking the power fo the Holy Spirit, growing deeper inside, and intense connection/discipleship will not produce service/deeds/community influence that will be properly motivated, prove fruitful, or endure.   First church in ACTS had that intenseconnection/discipleship/growth (under persecution) reached out under the infilling of the Spirit and changed the world.  Service without God’s infilling…

Me:  But don’t you agree that Keller’s (and others) statement is implying that if the community does care or notice, in a positive sense, the presence of our churches then somehow we are missing the mark? It’s almost saying that unless our communities are praising our presence that somehow we’ve strayed from what God intended the church to be…It seems that this only works in non-persecuted countries as well. What if the community doesn’t want the church there, so much so that it tries to destroy it? How does Keller’s statement apply to them?

Friend A:  I would say that even in persecuted countries — if the church is not reaching out to the society, they are not fulfilling the great commission — did not the early church respond to those who were dying and suffering – and historians even note that how involved the church was in loving and caring for the people, even if it meant their lives?

Friend B:  In karnataka indian mission fields when i visited in late nineties- the church plant would seek to hold nursery schools for months w/o many kids coming regularly or under islamic criticism. but they were reaching out.

Me:  I get that we should seek the welfare of the orphan and widow, etc. – I’m just not sure that Keller’s quote is helpful for communicating this; we do it not to earn the approval of the city/community. We do it because its God’s commission for the church – who cares the community/city ever cares or notices what we do…We don’t do it for them, we do it as worship to God.  Again, it’s not that we should be doing these things. I’m just not sure that this statement and those like it are really helpful.

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God has been wrecking me every so often with updates from around the world about the persecution of Christians.  Here is a powerful video about the Christian persecution going on in Pakistan.  May God wreck you…

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Spurgeon Quote

I have heard this quote from Charles Spurgeon referenced often, but I never knew where it came from, but today I found out where it came from and the context for the quote.  Enjoy…

“Once more, he who really has this high estimate of Jesus will think much of him, and as the thoughts are sure to run over at the mouth, he will talk much of him. Do we so? If Jesus is precious to you, you will not be able to keep your good news to yourself; you will be whispering it into your child’s ear; you will be telling it to your husband; you will be earnestly imparting it to your friend; without the charms of eloquence you will be more than eloquent; your heart will speak, and your eyes will flash as you talk of his sweet love. Every Christian here is either a missionary or an impostor. Recollect that. You either try to spread abroad the kingdom of Christ, or else you do not love him at all. It cannot be that there is a high appreciation of Jesus and a totally silent tongue about him.”

A Short Sermon by C.H. Spurgeon from the March 1873, Sword & Trowel

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Antidote to Joyless Christianity

What’s the cure to joyless Christianity?  Hear Dr. Art Azurdia describe it here.

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Immanuel, God With Us

“The first thing which we ought to consider in this name is the divine majesty of Christ, so as to yield to him the reverence which is due to the only and eternal God. But we must not, at the same time, forget the fruit which God intended that we should collect and receive from this name. For whenever we contemplate the one person of Christ as God-man, we ought to hold it for certain that, if we are united to Christ by faith, we possess God.” — John Calvin’s Commentary on Matthew

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