Philippians 3

 20For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:

 21Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.


 Smyrna...Revelation 2: 8-11

M'Cheyne and Smyrna



Of Andrew's Spirit



We have found Him
And know that He is truth
Distilled and pure.
A Certain Spring,
'Though damp and slush
Delay the budding.
A Prince with yarns
Of fields and flowers
And feathered trust.
Unspoiled by gold
Or other trappings
Of convention.
Unmoved by rank
Or rule of present powers.
But moved by
Smallest cry of
Pain or shame
Or lonely lot.
A Man whose every
Waking step displays
Assurance, equity,
Mercy, patience, hope
Direct from Heaven.
Whose gaze commands.
The Promised One.
Re-charging nightly
On hills of prayer,
(With His Father,
So He says.)
As we have slept.
Brother, drop your net.
Come meet this One.
Come meet your future.

Musings of Messiah 

You have no idea. But try anyway, would you?

I took myself to that garden, that familiar prayer garden, ‘neath the olives. Brought my buddies along. Asked three of them to come, sit closer in the cold and darkness.

They tried, bless ‘em, but soon fell asleep. How often when people are overwhelmed by circumstances and the fast pace of events. How often do they cloud up and doze off out of sheer self-defense.

But I had stupendous business at hand. Placed into their bodies and circumstances and pullings and whisperings…I had to obey. The Father’s Plan depended upon it. And I was His to do and to demand as He saw fit.

I wasn’t so much afraid of a Cross or of ridicule. I was terrified of losing the sense of His touch and listening ear. Had never happened before as I had grown up from stage to stage here on this little blue-and-green place full of the ones we loved.

I vented, I pleaded, I reminded. I looked down several times to see blood issuing from places where it ought not.

The Evangelist would later say that I began to be “troubled and sore amazed”.

Don’t forget, the omniscient thing I had left behind in the Heavenlies for a season. I hurt, and I heard the beratings of the Accuser. Not so much to frighten me, but to insinuate that all the beloved ones could never be rescued; could never be removed from his clutches.

Finally, over and above all the sweats and bleeding, and taunting, tension and tears, I heard again the promises of my Father through the words of Psalmist David. I heard and believed. I would come through death. I would not suffer corruption. I would walk again in glorious fellowship. Resurrection my destiny.

A comforting presence drew near with a cooling wind through the branches; probably an angel. He was my most tangible companion at that moment.

I got up off the ground; watched my buddies sleeping for a couple more minutes; noticed the torches of Judas and henchman moving  toward us up the slope…


(painting by James Tissot)


 Lifted Up, Better to See


It has come to this.
In a way, I'm glad.
The dank, dark days
In the cell.
My partner's constant
Rehearsal of our
The robbery gone bad
Midst the uprising.

So quickly
To the street.
Wooden beams thrust
On our backs.
Rome's disgust shown,
Block by block,
Curses and floggings.
Onlookers puzzled.
Faces without mercy.

Out of town,
The hill beneath
Glowering skies.
The "skull place"
Where justice leers.
The drop, the stretch,
The pounded nails,
The screaming shock.

...Passing time
Another is with us,
Quiet wretch.
With a following,
No less.
(No women wept for us.
No rabbis scurrying.)
Who can he be?

He shares the pain,
The taunts, the shame.
His face is peace,
His battered frame
Puts up no fight.
What's that? His name
Is Jesus.
Princely sort.
I'm drawn to Him!


The Pre-Eminent Day


Genesis 1:

5b And the evening and the morning were the first day.

In such fashion creation began.

But the perfect day is the Gospel of the life of our Saviour.

It begins with night. A young couple, expectant with child, hurry into the busy town. No room in the Inn. This should be a joyous time but there are complications. The awkwardness of the unprecedented pregnancy. The weariness of the journey by donkey to comply with the census edict. The virtuous and devout young mother made to feel invisible and an offscouring in a strange town. The strained young husband thinking about the awesome demands of fatherhood shortly to come upon him. The absence of any mid-wife to help in the ordeal fast approaching. The "toss-of-the-coin" decision to accept the foul-smelling manger with the docile beasts. And the Greatest Life comes. And the shepherds are awe-struck. And the starlit heavens resound with angel joy.

It is perfected with morning. Another Mary. This one perhaps, not so virtuous in preceding years. Coming to what should be a place of great sadness-a tomb. And one which holds her dearest friend and teacher. Somehow she senses that there is unfinished business. Totally ignorant as to the means of accomplishing her final act of respect to the body of a terribly abused man, she waits and weeps. But there is a Visitor. His voice is wonderfully familiar. He calls her by name. The tomb is open and empty. It is the Master, Jesus, the bright and Morning Star. Risen indeed!

The Gospel "Day" now shines with the focal promise of the ages. It is as sung in a beautiful song of worship rendered by David Phelps:

"No more night.
No more pain.
No more tears.
Never crying again.
And praises to
The Great I Am.
We will live in the
Light of the Risen Lamb."
(Song video featured in our page entitled "Conversation: Heir".)
(Picture posted elsewhere by Rev. James Richardson.)


That's My King!




Take a Walk By a Stream...Pause...Listen








What is the Gospel?


By Alexander Maclaren



Neither a philosophy nor a morality, but a history, is the true good news for men. The world is hungry, and when it cries for bread wise men give it a stone, but God gives it the fare it needs in the bread that comes down from Heaven. Though it be of small account in many people’s eyes, like the common barley cakes, the poor man’s food, it is what we all need; and humble people, and simple people, and uneducated people, and barbarous people, and dying people, and the little children can all eat and live. They would find little to keep them from starving in anything more ambitious, and would only break their teeth in mumbling the dry bones of philosophies and moralities. But the story of their Brother who has lived and died for them feeds heart and mind and will, fancy and imagination, memory and hope, nourishes the whole nature into health and beauty, and alone deserves to be called good news for men.

All that the world needs lies in that story. Out of it have come peace and gladness to the soul, light for the understanding, cleansing for the conscience, renovation for the will, which can be made strong and free by submission, a resting-place for the heart, and a starting-point and a goal for the loftiest flights of hope. Out of it have come the purifying of family and civic life, the culture of all noble social virtues, the sanctity of the household, and the elevation of the state. The thinker has found the largest problems raised and solved therein. The setting forth of a loftier morality, and the enthusiasm which makes the foulest nature aspire to and reach its heaven-touching heights, are found together there. To it poet and painter, architect and musician, owe their noblest themes. The good news of the world is the story of Christ’s life and death. Let us be thankful for its form; let us be thankful for its substance.


(Taken from Exposition of the Gospel of Mark)




City Stew (by my friend Anthony Gomez, South Carolina)

City Stew




My Little Ones




These little ones

Have known my name

They're oh so quick to call

At point of need

When darkness comes

When threatened with a fall.

Not big on self

Supremely poor

In spirit, they confess.

And that's their strength

They run to me

That all my power might bless.

And many tried the bluster

And posed the fashion's way

And earned and learned

Things over-turned

Before the end of day.

So now they give me one eye

And never stray too long

Their only care

That I am there.

My help, their trust and song.







Oh, they love the Lord. Can remember the circumstances of His rescue of them. Worship regularly in the Sunday hour. Share the peace. Shake hands and smile.

But what's distinctive? Do they bake a pie, offer a ride, deliver a meal, baby-sit, lend some money? Well, the world, the unchurched, do all such things in the spirit of generosity without any reference to Christ.

Somewhere a sermon has been preached that "only what's done for Christ will last. That Romans 8 proclaims things done in the flesh cannot please God." They hear such and cannot discern the meaning. I am reminded of Jesus' parable about the wheat and the tares (weeds). Both were allowed to grow full term without visible distinction, and only at the harvest would their destiny of favour or flames be determined.

So back to the distinction. Believers will never allow the demeaning of His name or message; will never stand idly by in the face of oppression or struggle of one of His little ones; will forgive; will pray fervently; will think the best possible report on a set of circumstances; will "salt" their speech; will resist the lust to retaliate or self-vindicate; will name His name unashamedly in public; will affim that He is God as well as man; will affirm that He is coming again in triumph. Now we're getting somewhere!

And all this will be done in the face of a world which is enslaved by political correctness and the advertised standard; which will pay lip-service to a God of some sort but not acknowledge the "Name above all names". That Name has been called a sword of division. There is a price to be paid for such audacity. It will be more than settled "by and by".

Churches must spend time giving out this fair warning to the flock. The flock must spend more time occupied in these distinctives.

See also the poem "Disciples" at the following:


Just Jesus There


So take away
The Christmas choir,
The banquets and the books.
The Holy Cup,
The Holy Days,
The cheerful hugs and looks.
The mission trips,
The Pastor's quips,
And all the other fare.
I ask you, saint
With Gospel quaint
Would Jesus still be there?

Would Jesus still
Be there for you,
Your portion and your power,
Your daily friend
Right to the end,
Not just at worship hour?
Your inner voice,
In each tough choice;
Your solace in the test.
Unspoiled by sham,
The wondrous Lamb,
Your brightest and your best.




I am eager to see good preaching in church services take one step backward.

Let me elaborate.

That one step backward might allow space in the hurried order of service for testimonies and corporate prayer from the floor. We might hear how brothers and sisters around the room are dealing with challenges, burdens, encouragements and victories. From many hearts and voices we would hear the praises of Jesus. This would be novel, exciting and perhaps orchestrated by God.

Are we humble and courageous enough to become this transparent? Might this bring some honesty to the phrases "Church home" and "family of God"?

Not too long ago I had a peculiar experience in the produce section of a grocery store. I noticed a man staring at me while his wife picked over the peppers. It looked as if he thought he should recognize me. I felt some of the same. We made eye contact several times but there was no engagement. Later in the parking lot the lights came on. That couple had sat two pews ahead of us for the better part of a year at church. I had failed to recognize them. Out of context.

I was convicted by my ignorance of this brother. We were both to blame. We remained of little use to each other.

The impersonal, hurried pace of the church services had also contributed.

Jesus said that the world would know that the Father had sent Him by the love which Christians showed one unto another.

Let's get started...with transparency.


Rutherford's Glimpse



The congregants of Anwoth in the south-west of Scotland were deprived for a time of the services of their beloved pastor, Samuel Rutherford. He had refused to pledge allegiance to an episcopalian order in the land and was banished to house arrest in Aberdeen in the far north-east.

No longer able to preach, he devoted his shepherd energies to correspondence with the flock, the famous “Letters of Samuel Rutherford”.

In one letter to Lady Ardross dated February 24, 1646, he gave a foreshadowing of the conditions in Heaven. For me it poses a more desirable promise of happiness than any of the pictures drawn by today’s prophecy teachers concerning future glory:

“A very considerable land, which hath more than four summers in the year. Oh, what spring-time is there! Even the smelling of the odours of that great and eternally blooming Rose of Sharon for ever and ever! What a singing life is there! There is not a dumb bird in all that large field; but all sing and breathe out Heaven, joy, glory, dominion to the High Prince of that new-found land. And, verily, the land is the sweeter that Jesus Christ paid so dear a rent for it. And He is the glory of the land.”


I Thee Wed…


The wedding gave a chance
To think on those in lineage
Hurts and hopes of forbears
The gold in family line.
Now this fresh young couple
Respecting vows they crafted
Rings exchanged quite endless
A union for all time.
Didn’t God envision
A joining with old Abram?
Didn’t Christ in covenant
His Church in white adorn?
Didn’t Heaven look down
And view the New Jerusalem
Shining and in safety
The Home for all twice-born?

The Road Home



The land looks much the same
And the peaceful country lane,
Winding gently past the fields my youth had known;
And again I feel the breeze,
Hear the birds, smell the trees;
But I wonder if a welcome waits at home.

Much too long ago it seems,
I had yielded to false dreams
And embarked a self-sufficient prince, I thought;
On a pleasure-seeking quest,
With a yearning for life’s best.
Oh what woe and waste my birth-right soon had bought!

All the women and the wine
And the friends I thought were mine
Quickly stripped my purse and pride down to the bone,.
Then, quite destitute of aid
In the mire my ways had made,
I remembered bye-gone family times, alone.

How the father of my youth
Had displayed a love for truth,
And for righteous work and ways to chart one’s course.
And no doubt reports had come
Of the folly of his son,
Of the family riches lost without remorse.

Could I somehow still return?
Could I live and lose and learn?
Could I yet retrieve the joy which I once had?
But, unworthy as a son,
Let me just return as one
Who will toil at servant’s chores and still be glad.

As I pace the final mile,
I am haunted all the while
By the thoughts of how to say what must be said.
It seems much too much to me
To expect their sympathy,
And the look upon my father’s face I dread.

But my homecoming is this!
First my father’s hug and kiss
And his ring and robe placed on my wasted frame.
Ere I barely can repent,
All the house-servants are sent
To prepare a lavish feast held in my name.

Oh, the depths of mercy shown
By my father for his own;
And what patient faith and prayers had led to this.
I just had to turn around
And abandon wayward ground
To receive such sweet forgiveness and such bliss.

(What had started out so fine
But had left me tending swine
Was a selfish heart beguiling me to roam.
Thank you, Father God above
For the chastening of your love,
That I might find celebration in your home.)


This Gnat So Small


To think that You
Regard it all
Without a skip or miss.
Creation's spin
Men's hurts within
My hopes and trials and bliss.

Is just to sense
An un-summed Care
Which wearies not, nor wanes.
Though nations roar,
And lust for more,
You never drop the reins.

What marvel this!
That I am known
And figure in the blend.
This gnat so small
Receives Your all.
And comforts without end.

Mountain God


Not going anywhere

Not changing

With shifting wind.

Cupping the sunrise

As a thing

Flashing forth,

By your consent.

Source of waters

Highland streams

Where small

Scampering things

Greet new day’s warmth.

Seeming source

Of thunders

Arsenal of bolts

Of shocking power.

Singer of haunting

Night wind’s tunes.

There in place,

Your place

Long before the fathers.

Halting our present breath

With steep inclines,

Testing the might

Of leg and limb.

Pausing to cradle

Dwarfish alpen blossoms

Hidden thawing beauties

Delighting, perhaps,

You alone.

We look up to you

And seek understanding.

Mountain God

Our God…forever.



What Comes Out


I was taking my Saturday morning coffee break from the part-time job at the grocery store. There appeared to be only one table available, next to a stately elderly woman with colourful winter hat and coat.

Initially no conversation as we both watched the passing queue of college students, elderly, hockey enthusiasts, young families and small children with doughnuts almost too big for their hands.

Eventually I passed a comment about how the proprietors of the shop appeared reluctant to take down Valentine's Day decorations. We each shared what we understood to be some of the history of St. Valentine. Then the woman mentioned that she still kept and treasured the very first Valentine's card ever received from her husband.

A significant pause followed.

"My husband died three weeks ago, you know." Quivering lip. The students across from us raised their voices about some issue in their group assignment for school.

"I think it marvelous that you are out today Ma'am. Probably he would have wanted it so."

What followed was a much needed five minute exchange about the final weeks with her husband and what he had meant to her. She was not forgetting him. Denying him. She was paying tribute to the man in her life, and in essence visiting with him again.

At time of departure, she smiled and the face said 'thank you'.

How easy was that to release some of the pressure of grief?
This is the sort of thing meant by the word "affirmation".


I have often heard the good wish expressed, "God bless and Godspeed". Apparently the latter expression comes from the old English, "spede". It refers to having good success on a voyage or journey, initially a shipping term.

Think of the dynamic of the voyage at sea. Adequate supplies below decks. Rigid maintenance of all canvas, cables and tackle. Caulking and re-caulking. Thorough study of navigation maps. Thorough training in the tools of navigation and weather. Clear chain of command. Water supply rationed between stops. Manifest of payload checked and double-checked. Shifts on board assigned to crews. Pay and trouble-pay noted. Whistle signals and audible commands all memorized. The language of the flags. Optimal use of the tide heading from the estuary. Pilot commissioned for harbour and river negotiation. The open sea...

Crew members would remember the Captain's prayer before launch and the serious look to skies, clouds and horizon. Godspeed!

In spite of all these prudent measures and preparation, there was still so much of the unanticipated lying ahead. The stories of other near disasters were known. The missing names this trip. The brave and braced faces of the wives waving from dock of home port. Perhaps hostile ships of war. Perhaps a wringing-wet, bucking, wretching rounding of the Horn.

The sky. The elements. The capricious waves. The reeling accompaniment of gulls. The terror of the albatross appearing. The odds of a Jonah on board. The spume of the steaming, moaning humpback. How John Masefield could write of all these spectres in his poems! Or Melville or Conrad in the narrative.

Such is life. Godspeed.

James 4:

13Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:

14Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

15For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.
See also the ebook at the following:



Get It Out There!


I had wanted to spread the message of God's measures for us being far beyond our wildest imagination. I remember vividly the impression once received from Isaiah 52 and 53 that the input of the foretold "suffering servant" would be a startling discovery.

The prophet speaks in terms of a corporate body being in receipt of the blessing. This must also be our point of view; God ever moving The Body forward to its appointed destiny. As one member is blessed, we rejoice. As one member is strained in adversity, we weep. We were not meant to be fixed on the individual. It is for the grasping world and not the Church to be saying, "Yeah, but what have you done for ME today?" Most North American assemblies cannot get this oriental spirit of community into their fabric.

Oh, but if we could! There would come to mind and heart all of the stories of blessing, victory, noble endeavour, conditioned power and Christ-likeness to be found throughout history and throughout the planet. And we would have our place in all of it. We would not be detached and waiting desperately for the big blue star to go up opposite our name on the board.

It was with this in mind that I penned the poem "But Still...".

It was with this in mind that I produced the ebook "Goodness, Startling".


In those times when I worry childishly about my own pot of trouble, God will eventually pick me up with thoughts of His marvelous creation, His artistry, His Church in various forms of joyful manifestation world-wide, His unfailing promises being worked out as years progress, His love through the Cross and Empty Tomb.

I am startled and revived.


Show Us the Father


Have I been so long with you,
Yet you still misunderstand?
In the simple walks
When I listened
And you went on so.
In gazing reverently
Together at sunset.
In the common meal
Which went down so well
'Midst laughter and poking.
In the common cup.
The washings of hand
And conscience.
Have you not seen me
Bless the wayfaring man,
The ailing child,
The fretful mother
With her last farthing?
Chastise the hypocrite?
Warn the self-assured?
Heard me glean wisdom
From the fields, the flocks,
The fishnets, the pearl merchant?
In all, I have heard from my Father;
Seen my Father's pointing hand;
Represented my Father.
It is just that simple,
That fresh, daily.
I can be, I can say
None other.
Come unto me.
Come unto Him.


Kept for Jesus Christ


(A thought from Our Daily Walk by F. B. Meyer.)

Jude 1
1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James,

To those who have been called, who are loved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:

2 Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.

The word "keep" rings like a refrain throughout this letter. It suggests a power which originates in the Divine will and operates through the Holy Spirit's energy within us. Behind our willing and working, our choosing and electing; behind all the influences that are brought to bear upon us, there is a gracious and Divine movement, in virtue of which we are being "kept for Jesus Christ.'" Our spirit is being kept for His Spirit to tenant it; our soul is being kept that His mind may energize it; our heart is being kept as the bowl of a fountain that His love may flow in and out; our imagination and fancy are being kept, that He may utilize them as He did Bunyan and Rutherford; our body is being kept that He may have the use of its members--a vessel meet for the Master's use! Let us realize how much Christ needs each one of us, and how much we shall miss if we neutralize the very purpose for which we were born and sent into the world.

Do not presume on the Divine keeping power, for there is always the dread possibility of neutralizing it. Keep yourselves therefore in the love of God! Have you the light? Follow the gleam! Are you in mid-current? Do not get turned off into a back eddy! Are you being used by God? Keep under your body and bring it into subjection, lest after having preached to others you may yourself be rejected.

There is One who is able to keep us from stumbling, not only from within, by a garrison, but from without, by sentries which keep watch and ward. We are greater than worlds or suns, greater than time or space, greater than the universe in which we are found, as the child is greater than the royal palace, because the Lord hath need of us. We are "'kept for Jesus Christ"; let us not be unmindful or ungrateful, for, throughout the ages, this prayer never ceases to rise from the heart of our Redeemer: "I pray, not that Thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldst keep them from the evil."


We thank Thee, Heavenly Father, that Thou hast called us into the fellowship of Thy Son. Keep us by Thy mighty power through faith unto Thy salvation and service. AMEN.

Spotting the Little Foxes
Occasions for Stumbling in the Gospel Harvest

Psalm 50:

23 Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.



 Feel free to email a comment or contribution to the following:
Doug Blair,
May 13, 2012, 4:31 AM
Doug Blair,
May 13, 2012, 3:01 AM