Palm Tree Gospel

John Williams was dispatched by the London Missionary Society to French Polynesia in the Pacific (@1827). Eventually he died at the hands of cannibals.He relates one incident where he came across a farmer peasant, named Buteve, who through trauma had lost both his legs. Garden farming was a tedious matter of crawling around with the aid of some rudimentary assist. When assemblies were called by Williams, Buteve could only make it as far as the pathway by his lot, where he would inquire of passers-by as to a song, a scripture or any short message shared.

Williams heard of this simple, devoted man and paid him a visit in which he asked of the nature of his faith exercises:
Answer: “Oh yes, I very frequently pray as I weed my ground and plant my food, but always three times a day, besides praying with my family every morning and evening.”
Question: “What do you say when you pray?”
Answer: “I say, Oh Lord, I am a great sinner; May Jesus take my sins away by His good blood; Give me the righteousness of Jesus to adorn me, and give me the good spirit of Jesus to instruct me and make my heart good, to make me a man of Jesus, and take me to Heaven when I die.” (John Williams, The Martyr Missionary of Polynesia, by James J. Ellis, 1889, S.W. Partridge and Company)

The gardener got it! Simply by prayer, song, bits of scripture, meditation and dialogue. How much other “stuff” seems to occupy our pulpits these days. How many commentaries, testimonies and DVD’s keep us from the purity of this man’s experience of Christ.


Somewhere a Rooster Crows


I’ve read the Gospel story

The miracles and such

The preaching from the hilltop

The crowds He loved so much.

The fish and bread

For thousands

The girl raised from the dead

The stormy sailor crossings

The supper when He said

His death was at the doorway

His blood a new life paves

And none would dare stand with Him

When Evil rants and raves.

And Peter e’er the leader

Would cringe, deny his Friend.

A fear he thought beyond him

Would break him at the end.

And I can see the limits

To what this story proves

That God is good

And God is just

And hurting ones He loves.

But do I need salvation?

I try my best ya’ see

And over-much religion

Is sure to hamper me.

A business has me running

With corners cut to gain.

And friends would soon be shunning

If I proclaimed His Name.

And pain would come large measure

If I turned right around

And changed my speech

And changed my paths

For mercy I had found.

No, I must draw the limit

For history’s matchless Christ

He’s not my Lord

He’s not adored

I just won’t pay that price.

And surely all these drawbacks

Each modern person knows.

…What’s that? I hear out yonder

Somewhere a rooster crows!

Note: The good news is that some of the “Peters” of this world receive the rebuke, repent and enter into the life of joy unspeakable and full of glory. (1 Peter 1:8)


I can think of 2 popular Easter films that show Simon of Cyrene carrying the Cross with Jesus and not instead of Jesus.

I suppose that there are some theological issues. No one else could possibly accomplish what Jesus did at Calvary. It was His destiny to be the sinless, spotless Lamb slain for the sins of mankind. His Cross. No good deed or impactful message or midnight comfort contributed by mortal men could further the course of grace. When Jesus uttered “It is finished”, He could have said with equal impact ‘It is accomplished’.

But there was Simon of Cyrene, a district in North Africa. He had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. In short order he was told by gruff Romans to get in there and help a condemned man to His place of execution. His face (in the films) suggests that he cannot understand the indignity. But under that burden, in the blood, sweat and strain of it all, he meets a man without comparison. He accepts the task of moving Jesus forward and upward, in accordance with an incomprehensible desire.

Simon is crushed by the injustice of it all, and by the unstoppable majesty of the Nazarene. The lordship of Messiah is being established in the Cyrenian’s heart.

We also must go to that Hill with Jesus and be crushed.


The heaps of cold and white are gone
Expectant is the moon
And birds long missed
Will rule the morn
With signal spring-time tune
The crocus trembles ‘neath the scruff
Its purple touch to raise
The royal hue
Long overdue
Suggesting Paschal days
For Christ has died
And lived again
The Passion’s winter week
Disciples’ fear transformed in awe
And faith’s thaw for the meek.

My God, My God

The cry comes from the darkness of an execution. The accused has called himself a King. He has said that he is truth incarnate. He has said that he could easily summon a host of angels to the scene if that would further his peculiar plan. But instead he hangs there listening to the groans of his two colleagues and the jeers of a mob out of control.His mother is front and centre, trying to restrain the tears and deliver a gaze of courage and compassion to the jewel of her heart. His dear friend wraps arms of protection around her, shielding her from the jostling and the raised arms.The friend thinks to himself, “Master why cry, My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me? Better to cry, Peace be still. Or give the people to eat. Or take up your bed and walk. Or come out of him you foul spirit. Or fools, hypocrites you make a mockery of religion. Or come unto me and I will give you rest. Or look for me from the clouds of heaven with the angels.”

(Note: But “My God, my God!” That is the cry of vulnerability and trapped desperation, of human doubt and wincing pain, of bewilderment in a man beside himself with anguish. Yes, a man who had come this low from the majestic corridors of heaven. Now each breath gets harder and harder. The shoulders and the extremities scream. See Philippians 2:

5-8Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

9-11Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father. – The Message by Eugene Peterson

He “gets” our pain.)