Little Letter With Punch

From Paul in a Roman prison to Philemon, wealthy householder at Colossae. Not much to look at, if size matters. One chapter. Twenty-five verses. Very personal in nature. Recalling a former time when Paul introduced the Gospel to that household.

But something very unusual has developed. Paul has been ministered to in custody by a young man recently arrived in Rome named Onesimus.The name translates “useful”.

There was a time when the younger had proved useful to Philemon as a slave of his household. But then a theft. A flight to freedom and Rome. An introduction to Paul and a life of new hope in the Gospel.

Over time Paul comes to realize the wrongdoing of his new friend. He insists that the old score must be settled. But this slave faces very dangerous prospects. The law of the Empire would allow the master to kill the thief, or cut off his hand, or allow him back into service.

What will be the decision now in light of the common bond of Christian faith between master and slave? Paul applies some of his most persuasive words to tip the scale in favour of mercy.

Philemon accepts the challenge, leaving for Colossae, and carrying what amounts to his own letter of emancipation. Consider the thrilling words:

15For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever;

16Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord?

17If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself.

18If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account;

Does not each believer have a similar assurance through Christ? Based upon His own sinless credit He intercedes with the Heavenly Father for our transgressions. He makes the same request as is found in the 17th and 18th verses. Trusting in this plea, we are freed from the bondage and guilt of our sins. Where restitution or apologies are necessary, we comply, and move forward in joyful release.

Good letter isn’t it? Punchy.


Launching the Stones

“A thankful joint contribution of Anthony Gomez
and Doug Blair”

brave fish
Five smooth stones
Stones defending sheep
One-eyed vigil
One-eyed sleep.

Against paw of Lion
And paw of Bear
The Lord with him
And well did he fare.

And well did he come
When Israel’s forces shook
Slaying that Giant
By the brook.

How many stones
From cruel judicial hand
How many harsh blows
Would later land?

How much blood,
Would vengeance toll
Citing cold statutes
As heads roll?

Then came a King
With gentle shepherd’s rod
Marking our trail
With love of God.

Well do we march
The Lord going before us
Bleating our troth
And Love’s chorus.

Psalm 21:13
“Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength”

Remember Me

Straightened Out…

Had I seen the torment

And ridicule you suffered

Had I seen the demons

Behind the cast of men.

Had I seen the lashings

And piercings rake your body

Could I ever lightly

Regard your Cross again?

Could I go on living

As if the sin were trivial?

Could I enter worship

With casual thoughts in mind?

Would I rather fall down

And plead the Father’s mercy

Knowing in that foul crowd

My leering face I’d find.

Yet you uttered ‘Father

Forgive them in your kindness.

They do not yet fathom

The awesome thing now done.’

Scarce could I believe that

God heeded your petition

Washed my record clean

In the bleeding of His Son.

Morbid, some will say at

My point of view now altered

‘Why not stay with us

For we try to live aright.’

Jesus, there’s yet time

For the breaking and the blessing

Visit these dear loved ones

And give them Gospel sight.

Return to Glory

He is coming,
Hear the chorus:
“Jesus, Saviour
Of men’s race.”

Now the victor
Over evil;
Routed, Satan,
Face to face.

Clear the pathway
Here in Glory,
That Messiah
May pass by.

Note the emblems
Of his suff’ring
Now are dazzling
To the eye:

In his pierced hands
See the vessel
With the blood of
Matchless worth.

Precious off’ring
Of his passion,
With the power
To ransom earth.

And the cruel crown
Of a mock king,
Left those thorny
Tracks of shame.

Now agleam with
Regal splendour.
What a Saviour!
Praise his name!

Angels singing
To their God
Who left such bliss.

Never dreaming
That a conquest
Could be half
As grand as this. (PHILIPPIANS 2: 5-11)

Father waiting
To receive him,
And to bless him-

Thrilled by total
True submission
Which descended, lived
And died.

Spirit Beings
Stand in wonder
At the zenith
Of God’s Plan.

That the Son
Called Ageless Wisdom (PROVERBS 8)
Should return
To them, God-Man.

With assurance
That a family
Would be coming
In his train.

Singing, praising
God their Father
And the Lamb
For sinners slain!

JOHN 17: 4, 5
I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

Paintings Along the Gallery Wall

Our faith paints a picture of a candle-lit supper, a dark prayer garden with audible moaning, a jail cell and guards laughing outside, the gathering clouds of a storm, terrifying blackness at mid-day, nail-pierced suffering, a heavy tomb door being rolled shut. One might say that that is as far as the efforts and folly of natural men will go.

But something is percolating and out of view. The earth imitates the process with new birth all around. Resurrection is coming. The incomparable sunlight of Easter Morn’. The return of the Dear Friend and the celebration of reunion. His promises all were true. The winter of our hearts is defeated. Death and loss have been vanquished.

I remember preparing a message years ago for some young people at a YMCA Good Friday breakfast. It was intended that I take them to another room while the adults received a full-fledged sermon. I kept thinking about the mystery of the barnyard egg. Careful now, it may break into translucence and golden yolk. But in a few days, there will be transformation into that delightful fluffy chick, peeping merrily at the new day. Could the Resurrection be any more unreasonable than that, any more spectacular? God is all over the translation. God is in charge. At the moment of realization in those kids, the “ping” was almost audible.

Out With the Dog, She Was

Saturday of Easter weekend

Mixed sky but mostly blue

Robin’s egg blue.

Cold enough still

For the winter coat.

Commerce once again clicking

After Friday’s hiatus.

She had the Lab

On a long lead

And he was all smiles

As per the breed

Glorious golden coat shaking

Well-trained and well-timed

In their peregrination.

Approaching me on the sidewalk.

Great to be up

In this bright early hour.

Petty words exchanged in courtesy

And then I said it:

“Christ is risen

All things are better.”

The two stopped

Nothing said as sequitor.

Then, “Yes, I suppose it’s so”.

She was missing it!

Rebirth, life from the dead

Eternal life in the Vine*

All around us.

Happy crows, crocus purple

Upright daffodil

Gentle wind caressing.

Dog felt quite safe.

Smiles all around now.

“Enjoy your Easter Ma’am”.

* John’s Gospel chapter 15