Song to a Confederate

Yankee lad,
A midnight sentry.
On the graveyard watch tonight.
In this bitter autumn campaign
As our Rebels hold ‘em tight.

Fighting sleep,
The soldier’s struggle,
With the lives of troops at stake.
Fighting dampness, all a-shiver.
Singing, just to stay awake.

Perched on bluff,
And silhouetted,
With a chilly moon behind.
Easy target for my Springfield.
Morning sun-up, corpse they’ll find.

But the song
Drifts cross the valley,
In his soothing baritone,
Of a loving, reaching Saviour.
One, by mother’s side, I’d known.

Something of
A calling Jesus;
And a wanderer’s cry for peace;
And one bitter night’s unloading;
And the Spirit’s sweet release.

I had loved
My Mama’s rendering,
But I would not heed the call.
And with years of tramps and camps, since,
I’ve no heart for it at all.

So tonight
Oh foolish Yankee,
I will put the song to rest.
With a careful eye, a long breath
And a bullet through your breast.

Though sited
Down the cold, gray steel,
I cannot make this kill.
My trigger hand’s a-shakin’
And it isn’t from the chill.

Oh, blue-coat boy,
You’re “saved” again
To see the sun’s first rays.
I’ll not have Mama’s ghost, and yours,
To haunt me all my days…

…A million miles
I’ve traveled since.
And countless moons I’ve seen.
A business came, prosperity.
The war seemed but a dream.

One Christmas Eve,
Some long years’ thence,
I chanced to be afloat.
A break from work. A change of scene.
A festive riverboat.

And word got ‘round
The evening’s sport
Would be a talent fair.
“The lights, the song. Oh come along.
We’ve got to see you there.”

The program came.
I went outside.
With no love for this day.
And aft, I watched the big wheel churn
Its frigid wake away.

Another year.
Another gain.
By rights a sound success.
But like those waters swirling there,
Inside I was a mess.

Too cold it was.
I joined the throng.
I sat right at the rear.
A special guest, evangelist,
One Ira Sankey, here.

I’d heard the news.
I’d read the press.
His tour of Britain’s halls
With Moody; their effectiveness,
Their skill in Gospel calls.

And after songs
Of Yuletide hope,
This tall man took the stage.
His frame so straight, his dress so fine.
A prince in any age.

And then the voice.
That baritone!
My mother’s song begins.
Not Christmas cheer; the sentry’s here
To call me from my sins!

How’s this, I quake?
It must be so.
I’m here, but by some plan.
Oh Mama dear, I think that
Now I understand the man!

His words so true.
His voice so rich.
God’s presence fills the place.
I’ll leave my night. I see the Son.
I’m saved and by His Grace.

(A life was spared.
A song was sung.
His Christ had seen him through.
I’d heard the song. I’d come along.
And now, his Christ I knew.)

(True story. The voice and presence of Ira Sankey were applied to great effect in many of the Gospel Crusades of D. L. Moody)

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Secret Power


(Taken from the classic volume by D. L. Moody)I remember the morning I came out of my room after I had first trusted Christ, and I thought the old sun shone a good deal brighter than it ever had before; I thought that the sun was just smiling upon me, and I walked out upon Boston Common, and I heard the birds in the trees, and I thought that they were all singing a song for me. Do you know I fell in love with the birds? I never cared for them before; it seemed to me that I was in love with all creation. I had not a bitter feeling against any man, and I was ready to take all men to my heart. If a man has not the love of God shed abroad in his heart, he has never been regenerated. If you hear a person get up in a prayer meeting, and he begins to speak and find fault with everybody, you may know that his is not a genuine conversion; that it is counterfeit; it has not the right ring, because the impulse of a converted soul is to love, and not to be getting up and complaining of every one else, and finding fault.

But it is hard for us to live in the right atmosphere all the time. Some one comes along and treats us wrongly, perhaps we hate him; we have not attended to the means of grace and kept feeding on the word of God as we ought; a root of bitterness springs up in our hearts, and perhaps we are not aware of it, but it has come up in our hearts; then we are not qualified to work for God. The love of God is not shed abroad in our hearts as it ought to be by the Holy Ghost.

But the work of the Holy Ghost is to impart love. Paul could say, “The Love of Christ constraineth me.” He could not help going from town to town and preaching the Gospel. Jeremiah at one time said: “I will speak no more in the Lord’s name; I have suffered enough; these people don’t like God’s Word. They lived in a wicked day, as we do now. Infidels were creeping up all around him, who said the word of God was not true; Jeremiah had stood like a wall of fire, confronting them, and he boldly proclaimed that the Word of God was true. At last they put him in prison, and he said: “I will keep still; it has cost me too much.” But a little while after, you know, he could not keep still. His bones caught fire; he had to speak. And when we are so full of the Love of God, we are compelled to work for God, then God blesses us. If our work is sought to be accomplished by the lash, without any true motive power, it will come to nought.

Now the question comes up, have we the love of God shed abroad in our hearts and are we holding the truth in love? Some people hold the truth, but in such a cold stern way that it will do no good. Other people want to love everything, and so they give up much of the truth; but we are to hold the truth in love; we are to hold the truth even if we lose all, but we are to hold it in love, and if we do that, the Lord will bless us.

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More than a Conqueror

A wonderful image is offered in Romans 8:

33Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.

34Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

36As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

37Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

To be more than a conqueror. To get more than a battle won. To get the assurance of ongoing victories. This is the heritage of those taken up in a covenant of love with Jesus. Trials come and we are tempted to fret. “Oh, it looks as if I am going to go through that knothole again. I don’t think I can stand it one more time. Last time I got around to the point of trusting in God, and He brought the deliverance in a way not quite anticipated. But I don’t think that I can go through it again; don’t think that I should have to. It just isn’t fair!”

Have you ever heard yourself thinking or talking along this line? Has it not ultimately been proved to be a waste of adrenaline and a denial of His love and of the appropriateness of His plans for you?

The old evangelist R. W. Schambach gave a beautiful illustration of being more than a conqueror. He described a long drawn-out prize fight in boxing. Many rounds and many apparent swings in the advantage. Toe to toe; blow for blow. Finally in the tenth the one pugilist seems to receive a supernatural surge of determination, agility and punch power. A knockout to the cheers of the crowd! The belt. The ensuing press conference. The money prize.

And the weary fighter changes in the dressing room, takes his dream cheque home, and turns it over to his wife. Now SHE is more than a conqueror.

One gets the same impression in reading the Old Testament story of Ruth. The wealthy civic leader Boaz has been kind in harvest time to the sorry little Gentile widow. Her loving mother-in-law Naomi realizes that this man is near kinsman to the deceased husband and that God is at work in all these circumstances to give the woman a home and a name and honour and the laughter of children. Boaz is able to attend to legal matters at the gate before witnesses to bring it all to pass. Dear Ruth is more than a conqueror. It has all been done for her. (see also Deuteronomy 25: 5,6 and Ezekiel 16: 6-10)

Why Should I Gain from His Reward?

The hosts of Heaven wept

The Father held His ground

The Saviour hung in shame

With coarseness all around

The crowd saw only loss

Disciples hid from view

A Mother watched her dreams

Dismissed like morning dew.

And all the Man had said

And all that He had done

Could not prevent the hate

That stopped a mid-day’s sun

He begged on our behalf

That light would come, and soon

And mercy for our crimes

This great Plan to atone.

Now I have heard the tale

And I have sensed my debt

And I have mourned this Cross

Still, I am hopeful yet.

Just as a priest of old

By strictest ways and means

Christ bore me on His heart

And I am rendered clean.

I cannot comprehend

‘Twas me for whom he died

But at Redemption’s end

His pain, full satisfied.

Frontiers of Discovery : High and Deep

Taken from Presentations at a major Health and Safety Conference Mississauga ON

Commander Chris Hadfield: Take a farm boy from Milton ON and submit him to training in engineering, aviation, test piloting, NASA orientation, Space Shuttle flights, partnership in Russian Soyuz Space Station missions and joint space research projects. Slowly simmer for 21 years and you have the material, intelligence, stamina, judgment and caution necessary to command the International Space Station racing around the earth for 5 months (2013). Give him a camera, a guitar and a computer link-up and he becomes a worldwide social network phenomenon, capturing the imagination of millions, and reinforcing the fact that we are a tiny global community intensely connected, in the midst of a universe full of wonder.

That’s the artistic and humanitarian consideration. The scientific one has to do with remarkable observations and experiments in other-worldly, zero gravity environment above our beautiful blue green and beige planet. Risk assessment with NASA seems over the top. Every astronaut constantly asks the questions “What might kill me today. How can I prepare. Who has the threshold skills. Where to go to research solutions and alternatives ways of responding in advance. Let’s think-tank on this and refine and refine.”

Four days before scheduled earth return this kind of training became essential as the crew discovered a leak of ammonia from the station tanks (the basic ingredient of the station’s cooling system). A space walk for repair became necessary and in record time. Hadfield already knew the players and their intense level of training in the relevant areas. The result was totally successful. Good to know your men and women, their capabilities and temperaments. Good to know everything, virtually everything, about the space station as big as a football field.

And about medical procedures, nutrition, wilderness survival, electrical systems, computer repair, orienteering, Russian language…and of course that guitar.

Doctor Joe MacInnis: Trained as a physician at the University of Toronto, Dr. MacInnis, not a superior academic, drove himself into the passion for Leadership in High Risk Environments (arctic, submarine, military, rescue, anti-terrorist) doing high life-threatening assignments. He went under the Arctic Ocean for many government sponsored research dives and to retrieve sunken wooden sailing craft. He accompanied special operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Colombia. His dear friend movie-maker and oceanographer James Cameron invited him to team up in a mission to drop a high-tech submersible to the bottom of the ocean east of Philippines in the Mariana Trench. Seven miles down. Never done before. Trips had gone to the Titanic about 4 miles down. Dr MacInnis was asked to spearhead media coverage and all the medical and emotional needs of a team of 34 on an Australian ship carrying an Australian-made submarine. The construction and mission and publicity received support from National Geographic, Rolex and James Cameron personally.

The crew experienced an immense setback from a helicopter accident in rough weather killing two team members.

A test drop near Papua /New Guinea to a depth of 4 miles was aborted when Cameron experienced major systems failures in communication, lighting and environment. The little pressurized operator’s fish eye/compartment at the bottom of this long and heavy green steel cigar proved intensely uncomfortable. Rigged for the exterior with revolutionary IMAX cameras and functional arms and huge battery packs and light fixtures.

In a total of 60 days the team accomplished construction, travel, test measures and target dive. Water pressure down there in the darkness and cold, approached 8 tons per square inch! For leader James Cameron this consummated a seven year vision and effort. Truly he was the courageous and well-liked commander.

Morale on board was so very important to the Doctor.. “Press forward one day at a time”. He saw the genius of leadership and teamwork as follows:

  1. Enhance Empathy (getting inside the other guy’s heart and hopes and limitations)
  2. Elevate Eloquence (a common, concise language of terms and specifications clearly understood. An encouragement of suggestions and opinion exchange in a spirit of courtesy)
  3. Amplify Endurance ( the colossal tasks require physical refinement and drive in positive work ethic)

Not too difficult to imagine how these guidelines can impact initiatives in the workplace that work toward partnered agendas of accomplishment and improvement.

Note: The reader here might have a look at Psalm 19.

This Much I Do*

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The soil smells of promise

Low spots all dried up

Last year’s scruff calling for turnover

Team watches me adjust the discs

Shaking heads as trappings jangle

Anson will take the left this year

Old Caleb the right

Two young uns midst

And still learnin’ the trade

Much too eager yet

Competitive, even

I call the straight and narrow

Rooks above call the tune

For mid-afternoon outing

As clouds race merrily above

Knowing this wind is spring

And the blue not a disappointment

Right hand hurts

With the arthritis

Thankfully left still has the tug and touch

Anson gets the message

As if those reins were telegraph

And we’re off for first acreage

All the old metal squeaking with joy

Father used to talk to it

As I clung to his right

Feeling every rock through steel seat.

At the headland Caleb plants

His power as fulcrum

Ansen choreographs the sweep

Good sports all

And back we go

Fine pace setting in

As April gets ready to leave.

Late season with those snows

God is good.

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* for the prize of the high calling (Philippians 3)