A FRIEND INDEED
I’m crying out to you!
I’m using hand and arm gestures
I have a frantic look upon my face
I’m pained at the core
Your soul’s condition needs mending
But are you comprehending?
Why should I care?
Huh! Do I really care indeed?
Walk away on the other side
Walk away Priest or Levite
Samaritan man approach with care
Help him on your donkey
Take him anywhere
Anywhere – away – to be healed
You pay for him – room and board
Call back again sometime
I know you will reap
Reap what you have sown
Without religious hype
No name in lights
No followers – like stalagmites
Just a new friend
Forever Yours – to the end
East Belfast you are in my blood
You with your sectarian turmoil
I could never get
Mine is just an ordinary memory
A childhood spent
As it could only have been
[A stable home provided]
I did play my cowboy games
On the green green grass of home
Sliding up in height
Into the Sixties era
And all the false hope it gave – seeming so grand
Getting branded with the sixties brand
Oh hippiedom! – half adopted by me
We sired you when we had the time
And espoused with lip service
Your so called freedom
Yet emotions rose in the music then
Telling us all was well
Turn on – tune in – drop out
Whatever did that mean?
‘Cause our Sixties was the Belfast kind
After all – we still had to work
Parents guided – to ‘serve your time’
And get a bank balance of some kind
But America – do you answer for a lot?
As your philosophies were bought by us
‘Dyeing’ them a different colour
Also imitating Beatle-ish young men
Stones apart and Dylan-esque outlooks
All paid their dues
To give us hero’s full of flaws
But now I think of
Those streets I walked
Into the town we did go
but our pose was with a watchful eye
Looking out for the bad guys
Who didn’t ‘get’ the bell-bottoms
Was it youth’s exuberance that
Gave the Sixties it’s smile
Our did the Sixties give us ours?
Was it the generated utopia?
All make-believe – within
Was lost along the way
I had mates
And we three
like supportive crutches
A duet, a trio, or alone
At different seasons
Looking for adventure
As pubs were crawled-around
And new friends found
With secret language
We knew them
“Hey man!” and two
All (minus the bad) –
Was not so bad
Looking back – can’t go back
Looking forward – can go forward
The drug man – now gospel man
Told me he would relive the Sixties
As he missed them first time round
in the drug haze
Sixty-two – to Sixties he has returned
Sixties of a different kind
I draw my pen to a close
‘Cause that nostalgic streak
Must be put away for the day
It’s only the wanderings of
An older man
You are too young to understand?
15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
This is possibly the last thing we would expect to hear when encountering Jesus for the first time.
We who rejoice in the Wondrous Grace of God – so glad that He (The Lord Jesus) did it all for us. All our efforts to be good, righteous, pure etc. etc. – were imperfect and not enough to obtain salvation and peace with God through Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Until Jesus came along with the offer of Salvation through faith in Him, – giving His life for ours, we were left incomplete through our own efforts.
Now He lives in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure, if we have had the born again experience.
But in light of all the blessings of God’s love and acceptance, how would we respond to such a word as this – the word given to Paul the Apostle:
How much he must suffer for my name…!
Did Ananias pass on directly and verbally, the words quoted above, concerning how he (Paul) would suffer?
We do not know if Paul was shown right away, supernaturally, all that he would suffer, or whether God is referring to the ongoing experience that Paul would discover day by day as He communed with God.
Either way whether God spoke into his spirit to prepare him for what was ahead in suffering, or whether he affirmed him daily in the fact that his suffering was for the progression of the gospel, he who had persecuted the church and caused it to suffer, would go on to lose his life in service to Jesus Christ The Lord.
Here are the things he suffered:
…in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.
24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
We are inclined to judge whether something is worthwhile if we sense the Presence of God in/on it. And of course this is correct.
However the whole realm of human feeling, and/or spiritual sensing – at times, as in the life of Paul, will include outward circumstances that bring pain.
Reminding us that God will always be in our storms, regardless of the whole realm of feeling or sensing –
– the ever-present faith-sense (for those who believe) of ‘Emmanuel’ – God with us – always!
Oh to be so anointed that the overwhelming strength of God in every experience of life, would be our portion, and that He would enable us to endure all things, through the inner awareness of His love.
Love (of God)…bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Lord have mercy!
The best we can do to capture precious moments is to draw the moment, write and record what happened, take photographs, or videos, or raise some kind of memorial stone as in sculpture perhaps, all efforts to capture the moment, even though the moment is gone.
Stating the obvious: Time never stands still. Time and tide waits for no man.
As I write, time – seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries have gone by.
Human beings think thoughts continuously. These thoughts pass. But we can recall them, make them new by revisiting them, – having them again.
Some thoughts we want to forget and not revisit.
Everyday we repeat certain actions from clothing ourselves, sitting down, rising up, walking, running, cooking, cleaning, creating, and so on.
This is the substance of life and living. And we all engage in thoughts and activities wanting to record them or forget them.
We are born, we die, we live to love, to work rest and play.
All humans engage in similar activities and experience similar things.
There is no human being who does not engage with and experience something of that which is common to all.
Anyone with a moments conscious thought realises the world is getting more and more evil. But there are many responses within the human psyche to this realisation.
Stay focused on our own patch and live – providing and protecting our own families.
Become reclusive, hiding away in some distant forest, attempting to live a life of self-sufficiency cut-off from civilisation, because we might think it uncivilised, and be glad to escape the increasing evils and rampant selfishness.
There are many ways to respond to what is taking place on the earth – in the heart of man, and in the environment.
We attempt and will continue to attempt to change the environment for good.
But to change the condition, heart attitude, and behaviour of mankind is a different task. One that no one has totally effected – permanently for good. Simply because the one thing given to man – which is freedom of choice – is grossly mis-used.
In one sense western democratic civilisation celebrates freedom of democratic choice – but chooses daily the practice of what is best termed sinful behaviour.
Yet, that abused freedom of choice, abused since the beginning of creation, beginning at an unknown time – God does not take away, until He sees fit. Until as in, the time of the deluge, He has had enough. (Genesis 7/10).
God’s point of ‘having had enough’, – no one can fathom. It is within the divine mandate, and choice, of One who sees absolutely perfectly and judges according to everyone’s work, or lifestyle in thought word and deed.
II Peter 3/ 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you…
The long-suffering of God is overwhelming – more so revealed, if we could get a glimpse of the atrocious behaviour, His heart sees everyday – as He beholds the ways of His nature being violated to such extremities, on the planet, again through man’s thoughts, words and deeds.
No one sees this as God sees it, knowing every single thought in mankind’s heart continuously.
The stench of mankind’s rebellion and inhumanity to man arises to God’s ‘nostrils’ daily.
His long-suffering is immense. How I need to check daily that I am not abusing it.
God Absolutely Just and Absolutely Loving must decide when love dictates, that He must put a stop to this rampant mis-use of the freedom of choice given to mankind.
[Meantime] – His long-suffering conquered me – despite the fact that I violated His right-ways constantly. I obtained mercy, in my unbelief, and embraced His voice through His Word as it came through – loud and clear.
His long-suffering patience – continued with me until I saw it! I saw it! And embraced His forgiveness and found His Salvation.
My best desires for you – is to likewise find Him longsuffering towards you, while you hasten to receive His Gift of Salvation.
There he is again
In the distance
Trudging – always trudging
Trousers wide – half hanging down
He is moving house
Twenty times I have heard this
Two years have gone
He has not moved house
He will not move house
“You’re a good man…” he tells me
(I bought the coffee again)
He swept many streets –
new pin – clean
He trudged then too
Retired – he still trudges
In the park today
Walking the long way round
I see him in the distance
Staring at the person he is addressing
They too will listen
As he unfolds his repertoire:
‘I’m moving house’
‘If I get over this then I will know…’
‘I will take stock and so…’
[…Continue to the next configuration]
It seems life’s parts have no explanation
Unless you can figure it out
Coming to a place where there is no doubt
You will drift on incomplete – until you meet
The One who knows it all
“You have told me that –
Why tell me again?”
Or so I used to say
But now my confusion has led to this:
I throw in the towel
Knocked out in round three
Fallen on the wayside
The wayside pulpit did tell
The perfect explanation
With the woman at the well
‘I who speak to you – am He!’
Throughout the Old and New Testaments certain men have been allowed spiritual/heavenly experiences according to the plan of God.
All the spiritual experiences given by God, that are contained and recorded in scripture are true, real, and genuinely God-given – revelations of the most profound kind.
We can mention some of the men who received these revelations – Elijah, Moses, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Peter, Paul, Stephen, John and so on.
We can quickly access all that was given to them (given in a place of spiritual revelation in and through The Holy Spirit sovereignly imparting these divine experiences) for the record of God’s Word to be made.
The reason they were chosen for these revelations, is known only to God Himself.
We can look at their lives and realise that they were godly, faithful, and zealous for the righteousness of God, but what were the qualities that qualified them to be chosen – we cannot exactly say.
II Timothy 2/
9 Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”
We know that their lives were in order, that they had a relationship with the Only Living and True God – but God in His infinite wisdom sovereignly chose them to receive the Divine Revelations that they did.
This is to do with an experience of the working of the Holy Spirit beyond (shall we say) the norm.
All Christians should desire and long to experience the working of The Holy Spirit in their lives.
There are two extreme mistakes that the New Testament believer can make.
- to be so wary with regard to spiritual experiences, we remain closed to anything further happening to us.
- To be so overly zealous for ‘experiences’ we open ourselves to wrong spirits.
There are many experiences to be had in this world.
The so called bohemian will indulge in every sensual pleasure he/she can find. This takes its toll in premature deaths caused by the fruit of such doings.
(We could split hairs over the exact definition of a bohemian but I refer to excesses of those so-called)
These so called Bohemians however, may make the defence: ‘You only live once – so go for it!’ or the variation usually is ‘enjoy yourself when you are young’. His/her defence is an empty one in the light of eternity.
There is an interesting verse in Proverbs 29/
Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint*; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.
This highlights a major truth:
When people do not know God. When people have not experienced God – and search for Him in the wrong place or in the wrong way – they give up their search too quickly and have only one alternative (so they think) and that is to cast off restraint*.
Having failed to experience the true spiritual life that God has for us – they over-indulge (often to their own destruction), in everything to do with the natural, sinful nature we are all born with.
The human heart is longing for the revelation that only Christ can give.
Until that is experienced through His offered salvation or conversion – there is only an endless fruitless quest through indulgence in the things of this world to find what only Christ can supply and satisfy.
It is a strange paradox that often the persons most zealous for the answer to life, are often the most extreme in their blind indulgence of the lower nature.
I am thankful for the spiritual experiences I have had. Extremely thankful. If there are to be more such God-given experiences of the Presence of God – God must decide to give them to me.
Either way – there is always an abiding peace and sense of His lovely presence in my life. But there is always more.
There is coming a day when I shall know Him as I am known. Meantime He has promised me “…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”(Matt. 28/20) (I Cor. 13/12).
I live in the hope that I have not disappointed Him, but want to humble myself and ask for
‘More Lord! More!’
As the song says: ‘More love, more power, more of You in my life…’
Fellowship of the pen
Ok so look –
[or we will] –
But the buddies
of the mind
are of a
goes to and fro
Rather as in
Is not to be
Because I might
have a word
where you’re sat
And that –
the next hill
the other side
Words would be
all we have
and not harsh
there can be
that will last
II Timothy 2/24
Some artists lean toward precision – each painting must improve on the last one, in demonstrating all the skills that go with proper rendition of a natural subject. Demonstrating a pre-occupation with technique.
A Photo-realist usually reveals his personality – to be one of a methodical and patient ‘reproducer’, with a perfectionist streak.
Other artists prefer the intuitive approach – or at least that is how it is usually described. Where the painting is allowed to emerge from his brushstrokes with no adherence to exact observation in reality – hopefully what emerges is something new, something fresh, something not seen before. Originality.
The danger for the ‘realist’ painter, can be lack of originality. The danger for the intuitive painter – lack of skill, or better put – the lack of the use of skill.
I tend toward the intuitive camp.
Here are two paintings to demonstrate what I mean:
All we are saying is…
Of all the things one could teach in the context of the Christian Faith – what is happening in the (western) world etc. – leaves us wondering…
Wondering what to teach in the midst of the moral falling away and disinterestedness that seems to prevail.
Of course the automatic cry of the human heart for the reality of God in Jesus Christ, although lying dormant below the surface in individual’s lives, is ready for the divine ‘match’ to be struck, that will bring the light of the revelation of Jesus Christ.
We cannot become a Christian any other way than individually. Kinda obvious I know.
Before you become part of any Christian community – you must first experience what is commonly referred to as ‘The Born Again experience.’
There is part of your being that is born – dead or comatose*.
Col. 2/13: (And you, being dead in your trespasses…).
Just as a swan will not know it was made for water until it touches the water. Just so we will not know the spiritual realm, until our spirit* comes alive to Jesus Christ, through an experience of The Holy Spirit.
In our natural state we cannot appreciate spiritual realities. We will enter spiritual realities through the door of truth. That’s why we need to give ourselves to the Word of God (The Bible).
There is within every person, a ‘natural’ bias against the things of the Spirit of God. To face up to this – calls for a choice of the will.
We therefore must choose to search for spiritual answers – even though as yet, we are not convinced of the possibility of finding them.
Recognise that, first of all – all of us are – ‘numb’ to the spiritual reality of all that the Bible declares.
This is the ‘feeling’ or ‘unfeeling’ starting point to further revelation, when God Himself eventually convinces you of His reality.
That’s why, in simple terms, we are exhorted to ‘Seek and you will find.’ Matthew 7/7.
God draws people to Himself. He does this by touching the human heart and mind – that experience – includes the revelation of instruction delivered by God Himself whereby we become persuaded that all the Bible declares is true.
Even if you have problems with parts of the Bible – you decide to be willing to keep searching to have those problems or doubts resolved.
All we are saying is give – (not peace) – but God a chance. His Peace will follow!