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The Little Things

Image result for rooster at crucifixion

It’s not Creation’s making that enthralls me

Nor miracles of Heaven’s cosmic plan

The titles by his name or any mystery

But the little things that help me understand.

Like the farmer who brought roosters to the market

and lost one in the pressing angry crowd

And how he recognized its cock-a-doodle

But left it there for history to record

Or the stable hand who fumbled through the basket

and shaking, gave the Roman soldier nails.

And watched him as he put them in his pocket,

mumbling how the scoundrels never paid.

It’s not so much that soldiers stripped him naked

But the dice they rolled and cast with grubby hands

and the pencil Pilate used to write the message

or the ching of silver coins upon the tiles

It’s not the fact that multitudes accused him

But the Pharisee seen biting on his locks

And not how Peter cursed when he denied him

but the crackle of the fire as he spoke

Yes the most important things should be repeated

As long as earth remains until He comes

But some little things get lost within the story

Plus a million more that no one ever saw.

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I think, for all the deprivations, neglect, verbal and even sexual abuse I suffered as a child, I am all the better for it. For when I move, the arthritis of forgiveness touches me every time; the fractured bones of grace guide my steps, and the growling stomach of divine interventions fills my longings – all in ways difficult to explain. I believe that when we all find a destiny higher than our gender, race, nationality, and even our basest or highest desires, little else will matter. Christ transcends all of that. And as a matter of fact, he calls us to a higher place which will outlast all historical injustices or corrections, to goals which will supercede the noblest or the most strident efforts, and to outcomes which will outweigh the most weighty or ominous of intentions.

So, even if I die as a complete unknown, as a pauper, or ignominiously as a Joe on Skid Row, I want the world to know that Jesus is and always has been my hero, my general, my savior, and my friend, that pleasing him was my constant undying wish, and that knowing any action in my life glorified him in some small was worth it all.

MORE BLOOD, NOT LESS

More Blood, Not Less

America needs more blood, not less

We’re all distressed from violence and war

and scores of rampages by the obsessed

All the killing and the spilling, oh my God!

It seems to be headed toward Gog and Magog,

where the blood rises to the horses’ bridles

and fills the boots of the horses’ riders

But still we need more blood not less

Not like the river Nile where it ran red a mile

Or the ruby-stained altars in Jerusalem

Life flowed like rain, yet it was never enough

Earth thirsts for more blood not less,

but not

like the butchery when Romans abused and trampled the Jews

or when it froze in Leningrad streets and church pews

or the most insane battles earth ever had,

when the Mongols drained the population of Baghdad

Or the Nazis’ two million more at Stalingrad

Warsaw Uprising and Waterloo

World Wars One and Two

Yes, the world needs more blood, not less.

Not like Gettysburg, where shoes sank down

in the blood of 50,000 that oozed from the ground.

From Operation Barbarossa’s losses back to

to Via Dolorosa’s three lone crosses

Yes! That’s the blood the whole of humanity and history needs

One man’s bleeding, silent, flowing down

from his feet, his side, his thorny crown

Just a thimbleful and we tremble till we see

that it was enough absolution, the sanguine solution, for the guilt-ridden world:

From the primal garden wedding to final Armageddon,

from Eden to the end:

that’s the only blood that matters

that which spattered over weeping widows, the Pharisees

and Caesar’s centurions, the mockers, and the curious

the blood that went into the Holiest of All

and covered the mercy seat and sprinkled the walls

brought humanity back from the fall.

They pierced, they speared the Son who came up from Egypt

where blood smeared and stained the lintels and door jams

from slain but innocent, perfect little lambs,

yet the firstborn son of every bloodless home was damned.

They needed more blood, not less.

And there was Abel (the first victim of slaughter and gore)

His blood cried out from the ground for more

creating the Avenger and the art of war.

No, the carnage would never stop

not till it got even to heaven’s door and heaven’s Son Himself:

The Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world!

Friends, even still, it’s not less blood spilled we need, it’s more!

So, let the signs in Ferguson read,

Let the banners in Chicago decree,

Shout it out from the housetops of Baltimore

America needs, not less blood, but more

More blood to lift the stain from Columbine

to sift out the pain in South Carolina

More flowing from Emmanuel’s veins

More scarlet spread for Charlotte’s dead

A rushing fountain gushing up, cascading out onto us all

Only blood can wash us, and sweep away

the anger and rage from history’s every page

Know this! Only that crimson fluid

can reverse the curse – undo it –

unravel the injustices of the gavel,

pick the wounds clean of the dust, dirt, and gravel.

There is power of His blood, but it’s in virtue not volume

and Mary was told that a sword would pierce her soul

A cold blade that chased the innocent babe at Herod’s command

and assailed infants

as mothers wailed and wept and afterwards never slept –

Mary’s child would live, and another day, bleed.

More blood, not less, is what the world needs!

More of His grace and fullness free

More of His love who died for me!

Yes, blood will wash America one way or the other

Let’s take His blood and not our brother’s.

The blood began to run in Jerusalem long ago

A woman clutching her son to her breast

red, dripping down his head to his chest

as it soaked through crushed flesh and bone and skin

then flushed through the dark of the soul and sin

as it rushed in a flood through heaven’s curtain, then

spread on the altar, there forever glazed

beneath the wings of seraphim and the astonished gaze

of heaven’s host –

and in its mystical powerful ways

still cleanses us today by the Holy Ghost.

Yes, yes, yes!

We need more blood, not less.

2016jlh

A Tired Democracy

G.K. Chesterton said “despotism is a tired democracy.” I see a tendency toward fatigue in America today. We are tired of policing the world, weary of patriotism, exhausted from defending the family, ashamed of justifying the wealthy, red-faced over political wrangling, and basically sick of leading the free world. The Greeks passed the banner to Rome. To whom can we pass it and give our arms a rest?

What worries me about America is that we will lose our freedoms and institutions born from those freedoms not because they have become weakened, but because of their very greatness. We are made to feel guilty, somehow undeserving of the powerful pillars that hold up this temple we call home. We are made to think America is great because of her exploitation of people, races, and resources and not because of her leadership and stewardship; that our wealth comes from greed and not from our graciousness and magnanimity; that our liberties come from the licenses of government and not from the laws of God; and that our indomitable spirit comes from a stubborn unwillingness to recognize our debt to the environment and the animal kingdom and not from a legacy of uniquely-created beings charged with domination and given the ability to face down catastrophes and forge new frontiers.

A guilt-ridden nation is a helpless nation that will not rise to her own defense. Will we accept the fires of rage as a cleansing agent within our cities? Will we acquiesce to looting in the name of redistribution of wealth as a natural measure of justice? Will we offer up as a sacrifice symbols of greed to satisfy the drooling masses whose stomachs churn with envy?

Should we believe the lie that says there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come, when that idea is destructive, horrific, and final?

I say we must not, and we never will.

 

Travois Trouble

travois8I’ve lost my wheels of inspiration and so I’m dragging all my stuff, including the poles and skins of my house behind me. Because when I’m not divinely infused, I simply ooze out on the path I’m meandering down. Blobs of self, heavy moccasin prints, pole-marks on the path.
“How!” I say to everyone I pass!
A typical Indian greeting? No. A question – “How do I get back?” Back to hope and carbonation, air and buoancy, shine and effervescence?
You know, I’ll just drop everything here in the dust, and before it settles, kneel down, look up, and wait for breath from heaven.

Jeremiah 6 The Message (MSG)
A City Full of Lies

6 1-5 “Run for your lives, children of Benjamin!
Get out of Jerusalem, and now!
Give a blast on the ram’s horn in Blastville.
Send up smoke signals from Smoketown.
Doom pours out of the north—
massive terror!
I have likened my dear daughter Zion
to a lovely meadow.
Well, now ‘shepherds’ from the north have discovered her
and brought in their flocks of soldiers.
They’ve pitched camp all around her,
and plan where they’ll ‘graze.’
And then, ‘Prepare to attack! The fight is on!
To arms! We’ll strike at noon!
Oh, it’s too late? Day is dying?
Evening shadows are upon us?
Well, up anyway! We’ll attack by night
and tear apart her defenses stone by stone.’”

6-8
God-of-the-Angel-Armies gave the orders:

“Chop down her trees.
Build a siege ramp against Jerusalem,
A city full of brutality,
bursting with violence.
Just as a well holds a good supply of water,
she supplies wickedness nonstop.
The streets echo the cries: ‘Violence! Rape!’
Victims, bleeding and moaning, lie all over the place.
You’re in deep trouble, Jerusalem.
You’ve pushed me to the limit.
You’re on the brink of being wiped out,
being turned into a ghost town.”

9
More orders from God-of-the-Angel-Armies:

“Time’s up! Harvest the grapes for judgment.
Salvage what’s left of Israel.
Go back over the vines.
Pick them clean, every last grape.
Is Anybody Listening?

10-11
“I’ve got something to say. Is anybody listening?
I’ve a warning to post. Will anyone notice?
It’s hopeless! Their ears are stuffed with wax—
deaf as a post, blind as a bat.
It’s hopeless! They’ve tuned out God.
They don’t want to hear from me.
But I’m bursting with the wrath of God.
I can’t hold it in much longer.

11-12
“So dump it on the children in the streets.
Let it loose on the gangs of youth.
For no one’s exempt: Husbands and wives will be taken,
the old and those ready to die;
Their homes will be given away—
all they own, even their loved ones—
When I give the signal
against all who live in this country.”
God’s Decree.

13-15
“Everyone’s after the dishonest dollar,
little people and big people alike.
Prophets and priests and everyone in between
twist words and doctor truth.
My people are broken—shattered!—
and they put on Band-Aids,
Saying, ‘It’s not so bad. You’ll be just fine.’
But things are not ‘just fine’!
Do you suppose they are embarrassed
over this outrage?
No, they have no shame.
They don’t even know how to blush.
There’s no hope for them. They’ve hit bottom
and there’s no getting up.
As far as I’m concerned,
they’re finished.”
God has spoken.
Death Is on the Prowl

16-20 God’s Message yet again:

“Go stand at the crossroads and look around.
Ask for directions to the old road,
The tried-and-true road. Then take it.
Discover the right route for your souls.
But they said, ‘Nothing doing.
We aren’t going that way.’
I even provided watchmen for them
to warn them, to set off the alarm.
But the people said, ‘It’s a false alarm.
It doesn’t concern us.’
And so I’m calling in the nations as witnesses:
‘Watch, witnesses, what happens to them!’
And, ‘Pay attention, Earth!
Don’t miss these bulletins.’
I’m visiting catastrophe on this people, the end result
of the games they’ve been playing with me.
They’ve ignored everything I’ve said,
had nothing but contempt for my teaching.
What would I want with incense brought in from Sheba,
rare spices from exotic places?
Your burnt sacrifices in worship give me no pleasure.
Your religious rituals mean nothing to me.”

21
So listen to this. Here’s God’s verdict on your way of life:

“Watch out! I’m putting roadblocks and barriers
on the road you’re taking.
They’ll send you sprawling,
parents and children, neighbors and friends—
and that will be the end of the lot of you.”

22-23
And listen to this verdict from God:

“Look out! An invasion from the north,
a mighty power on the move from a faraway place:
Armed to the teeth,
vicious and pitiless,
Booming like sea storm and thunder—tramp, tramp, tramp—
riding hard on war horses,
In battle formation
against you, dear Daughter Zion!”

24-25
We’ve heard the news,
and we’re as limp as wet dishrags.
We’re paralyzed with fear.
Terror has a death grip on our throats.
Don’t dare go outdoors!
Don’t leave the house!
Death is on the prowl.
Danger everywhere!

26
“Dear Daughter Zion: Dress in black.
Blacken your face with ashes.
Weep most bitterly,
as for an only child.
The countdown has begun . . .
six, five, four, three . . .
The Terror is on us!”

27-30 God gave me this task:

“I have made you the examiner of my people,
to examine and weigh their lives.
They’re a thickheaded, hard-nosed bunch,
rotten to the core, the lot of them.
Refining fires are cranked up to white heat,
but the ore stays a lump, unchanged.
It’s useless to keep trying any longer.
Nothing can refine evil out of them.
Men will give up and call them ‘slag,’
thrown on the slag heap by me, their God.”
The Message (MSG)

Lucifer’s Winnings

Lucifer may have won more things than he lost in his epic battle with the Almighty. He went away with several things, according to Milton’s Paradise Lost:
An unconquerable will, the study of revenge, immortal hate, the courage to never submit or yield, and the hope of waging eternal war.
I might add that it seems he kept his place as a musical genius, the angel of light, and the progenitor of deceit. His beauty and attraction are as strong as ever. So, in some ways – however twisted – he won.