Tag Archives: hope

Prayer / Poem of the Week # 8

Prayer / Poem of the Week # 8

Come back each Monday night for a free prayer or poem from one of the books we have published.

Sixty-three

River of life flow through me
I’m weary as a traveller can be
I need your water to wash over me

River of life flow through me
I’m weak as a baby can be
I need your power to strengthen me

I was lost in the desert
I was dying of thirst
I would never have found you
if you hadn’t found me first

River of life flow through me
I’m dead as a sinner can be
I need your spirit to revive me

We’re all on this journey
it’s a hot, dusty road
without you to sustain us
we’d never get back home

River of life flow through me
I’m lonely as a pilgrim can be
I need your song to comfort me

Let your water wash over me
River of life, flow through me.

From Redemption Songs by Mark Laurent (2016)

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Prayer / Poem of the Week # 3

Prayer / Poem of the Week # 3

Come back each Monday night for a free prayer or poem from one of the books we have published.

Costly Love

Martha
   the busy one
   whose natural way of showing love
was to cook, clean, serve
and she delighted to serve her Lord.

Mary
   the quiet one
   whose natural way of showing love
   was to listen, absorb
and she delighted to love her Lord.

Jesus’ friend Lazarus dies
beloved of his sisters – and their Lord away,
returning
meets Martha, first as always, breathless
“Lord, had you been here
    our brother would not have died!”
and Jesus consoles, teaches, explains.

Then Mary –
“Lord, had you been here
   our brother would not have died!”
…and Jesus weeps… and acts
the overwhelming love of Almighty God
leaping forth in resurrection power.

Lord –
take my love
I pour it at your feet
take my tears
   take my busyness
   take my stillness
may I serve you Lord.

(John chapter 11)

From A Celebration of Life by Meg Hartfield (2016)

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Prayer / Poem of the Week # 2

Prayer / Poem of the Week # 2

Come back each Monday night for a free prayer or poem from one of the books we have published.

One

I love your story Jesus
  I think about you often
    drinking deeply from the flow
      your life unlocked in me

Hungry for the promised fruit
  longing to sprout and grow tall
    hoping to be the kind of plant
      you’d enjoy to look at

I’m tired of windblown days
  one more storm-stripped leaf
    fluttering away to nothing
      on un-consecrated ground

Please don’t judge me harshly
  for the bad advice I’ve taken
    the times I’ve stood for nothing
      those I’ve criticised or mocked

I know you’re watching over me
  one day you’ll make me prosper
    because my roots are in your garden
      and my branches are your cross.

From Redemption Songs by Mark Laurent (2016)

Click here to Order Print books and here for eBooks

Prayer / Poem of the Week # 1

Prayer / Poem of the Week # 1

Come back each Monday night for a free prayer or poem from one of the books we have published.

Psalm 5

My friends, sometimes the best thing we can do is go to the beach,
or wander into the wetlands, to get close to the divine again.

The challenges we people of the east are dealing with at times seem
as high as the Southern Alps, and they can get us down, really down.

So taking time out of the mire and the mess to restore our waning spirits
is on some days simply essential.

On the beach I can gain a better perspective on things.
The vastness of the ocean reminds me of the immensity of God’s love.
It extends way beyond the horizon that I can see.
There is nothing that I am facing or in the grip of
that God’s love cannot absorb and transform.

When I really listen to the roar of the ocean,
instead of the noise of my thoughts,
I can hear God saying this over and over again.
The surf seems to shout eternally, “L-o-v-e,” in one long rolling sound…

When I feel the fresh, clean wind blowing on my face
there is a sense of being cleansed.
All the heavy things that pollute and clutter my mind
are somehow wonderfully dispersed.

So what I’m really trying to say is that a walk on the beach
can be a holy and healing experience.

As Adam and Eve discovered the divine walking in the Garden,
and Galilee fishermen experienced the same presence
in Jesus walking on the lakeshore,
we too can experience the divine walking with us on New Brighton beach.

It is the go to place when we are looking for new inspiration
and release from things that bind and blind us.

The quiet wetlands are another place to go to get closer to God.
Amongst that great seeping silence there is space to be and meditate.

On a still day all that breaks the silence is the song of birds.
There is something calming and comforting being close
to these beautiful and graceful creatures.
Like the dove that hovered over Jesus
they speak powerfully of the presence of God’s Spirit.

O God, draw us again to the places of beauty and life that surround us.
In these sacred places restore our strength and health.

From The In-Between Land: Psalms, Poems and Haiku by Mark Gibson (2015)

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Free Sample – Forty – from Redemption Songs by Mark Laurent

Here’s another sample poem from Mark Laurent’s Redemption Songs.

The book is available in print and in 3 eBook formats – see below for ordering links.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Forty

I’m not good at being patient
but God always hears me when I call

Lifts me up when the time is right
steadies my stumbling feet – I’m still walking

I was pretty depressed there for a while
but now I’ve got a fresh song in my heart

People have been noticing – they seem impressed
some have even started asking about Jesus

There’s not much joy in the idols of culture
but great reward in simply having faith

If I think about my life, it’s full of miracles
things that can’t be explained any other way

God isn’t demanding payment for this blessing
that matter’s already been taken care of
Jesus came, just as predicted in the stories
did everything God said was necessary

Jesus delighted to do what God wanted
heal us – forgive the sad things we’ve done

This is so important we should tell everyone about it
it’s heartless to keep such good news to ourselves

God’s love and constancy anchors our hope
we’d be adrift and lost without mercy like this

When I look at the world – so many problems –
my confidence shrinks and life feels hopeless

Without Heaven’s grace I’m certainly a wreck
my many faults keep catching up with me

But God gets me through – no, more than that
I’m overcoming things that used to bring me down

Let’s pray everyone finds this joy, this help
the poor and weak who need to know they’re loved

Come quick Lord – please don’t wait too long.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Click here for Print or here for eBooks

Free Sample – Thirty – from Redemption Songs by Mark Laurent

Here’s another sample poem from Mark Laurent’s Redemption Songs.

The book is available in print and in 3 eBook formats – see below for ordering links.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thirty

Lord I want to say thanks
I’ve got a passionate song in my heart
your love fills me with joy
I’m throwing off the drab colours I used to wear
I’ve a mind to dance in the street

My life was a real disaster
I was self-destructive, depressed
it was all about me, and I knew that was
    a loser’s game

When I yelled out to you for mercy
I was afraid you wouldn’t notice
but you came over and lifted me up
out of that hole I’d dug myself into

I’m standing on solid ground again
it was a long and lonely night
but morning’s come, and I’m wide awake

Sing to the Lord everybody
tell the world how good God is
there might be anger, but it never lasts
this love, however, goes on and on.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Click here for Print or here for eBooks

Sample – Seventy One – from Redemption Songs by Mark Laurent

Here’s another sample poem from Mark Laurent’s Redemption Songs.

The book is available in print and in 3 eBook formats – see below for links.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Seventy-one

Create a quiet place in me, Lord
hush the babble of my mind
the racing of my pulse
then my heart will begin to hear
    your ‘gentle, murmuring voice’

Slow me down, Jesus
I need to take time
to see the beauty of creation
the exquisite intensity of your care
that way I’ll come to appreciate
    and be thankful

Teach me to listen, Abba
to the cries of those in need
the questions of the confused
    so I can learn compassion

In this unquiet world
help me to find a quiet place
    and a quiet time

Lord, I need to hear
the counsel of your spirit
the poetry of your love
then I’ll have something to share
    with those who cannot hear you.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Click here for Print or here for eBooks

Sample – Forty Five – from Redemption Songs by Mark Laurent

Here’s a sample poem from Mark Laurent’s Redemption Songs.

The book is available in print and in 3 eBook formats – see below for links.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Forty-five

I never had a song worth singing
until I wrote a song for Jesus

No-one is finer than you, Jesus
you set my voice free, like ink on paper

Your words are grace and power
richness and inspiration spill in your footsteps

I’m in awe of such strength and wisdom
overwhelmed by how impressive you are

Everything you do is amazing
each word rings with the chime of truth
your meekness shows us what justice looks like

The world’s power-brokers are pathetic by contrast
nothing on this planet can stand up to you

When the dust of Armageddon settles
you’ll be the only one left standing
Earth will be as it should be at last

You’re the champion of all that’s good
we, your companions, are bathed in joy

Beauty and romance will return to Earth
songs of celebration ring out after all these years

Women love you, men revere you
some gladly leave all else to follow

You see the best in us, Lord
inspire us to be more than we are

Though all we have is rags and dust
we bring it to you, and you spin it to gold

We’ll be beautiful, as you said we would
our anxiety and shame all washed in joy

At last we’ll truly be Children of God
it’s what we’d hoped for, but never thought we’d see

We’ll keep on telling this story, Jesus
everywhere, every day, we’ll remember you.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Click here for Print or here for eBooks

 

Sample – Eighteen – from Redemption Songs by Mark Laurent

Here’s a sample poem from Mark Laurent’s Redemption Songs.

The book is available in print and in 3 eBook formats – see below for links.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Eighteen
Your love, Lord, makes me strong
I’ve needed safety and you’ve been my shelter
when I’ve had to fight you’ve stood beside me
In the past I’ve played some deadly games
got mixed up in all sorts of unhealthy schemes
I was my own worst enemy much of the time
I finally cried out for help and you heard me
and your answer shook my tree to its roots
everything I held dear was consumed
by the fire that accompanies you wherever you go
You covered me with darkness – a cloud of unknowing
restless winds howled through every crack
till I was broken, defenceless, and couldn’t even pray
naked and exposed, and ready to be saved
When at last I stared into the dry-bottomed pit of myself
and the enemy within could no longer hide his face
that’s when you reached me
that’s when you showed me your love
Lord, you’ve scrubbed me clean – made me well
I’ll not turn my back as I did before
you lit a fire in me that eats away darkness
Now I’m ready to take on the night
run up the hilltop and stand there
meet that old enemy of mine out in the open
blow him away with the words you gave me
sing out your name – ‘Save! Save!’
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Click here for Print or here for eBooks

Sermon: Cultivate an attitude of hope

I led worship at St Luke’s Methodist Church, Pukerua Bay today – 19 June 2016.

Here is the text of my sermon. I have added links to online resources.

* * * * *

Reflection

Let’s pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable to you, O God. Amen

On the internet I follow an American Presbyterian minister John Schuck who does half hour interviews with authors about their recent books. His website is called Progressive Spirit and I download and listen to the interviews on my phone. These are free. He has just talked with Patricia Tull, who  is another ordained Presbyterian minister and a professor of the Hebrew Bible. Her book is called Inhabiting Eden: Christians, the Bible, and the Ecological Crisis. A couple of points she made struck a chord with me.

First she talked about the Exodus and the lessons that God wanted the Israelites to learn during their years of wandering in the desert. Manna was provided from heaven each morning. There was enough food for each day, but it did not keep for long. This meant that the greedy or entrepreneurial couldn’t hoard the manna and try to sell it later at a profit. And the considerate people who held back politely, waiting for others, could also gather enough.   As it says in Exodus Chapter 16: “…those who gathered much had nothing over, and those who gathered little had no shortage; they gathered as much as each of them needed.”

On the sixth morning of the week a double helping of manna was provided, so the people could gather enough for that day and the Sabbath, the following day, when they could rest from the work of gathering and preparing food.

God wanted the people to see food as nourishment rather than a commodity to be hoarded and commercialised. And the people needed to learn to be grateful to God who could be relied on to provide for them. These principles were important training for the time when the people came to the promised land, the land of milk and honey, where food was plentiful. Then in the time of plenty the people would respect the land and treat each other fairly.

Another point that Patricia Tull made was about the verses in Genesis Chapter 1 that talk about God giving people dominion over the land, the animals, the fish of the sea and all creation. We people have been all too ready to translate that word as giving permission to dominate and exploit the land and the world’s natural resources. For instance, in America there are many Christians, who take a conservative, literal view of the Bible, as giving them permission to exploit coal reserves by ploughing the tops off mountains to get at the coal. They also deny or ignore the effects of human caused climate change, when the coal is burned for electricity generation, on the basis that they will be saved by the rapture if the end of the world comes in their lifetimes. Yes, that really is a commonly held attitude.

Food production methods in America are a cause for concern today. A hundred years ago farms were small and held by families. They had a few cows, pigs and chickens. They planted a variety of crops, rotated where the crops were planted from year-to-year and enriched the soil by ploughing back in the animal manure. Topsoil was retained. The farms supplied local communities. The food was healthy and varied.

Today most crops are grown on huge farms owned by corporations. They plant vast expanses of a single crop. The topsoil is lost through wind erosion, so the fields have to be fertilised with artificial fertiliser, which runs off into streams and aquifers. Beef cattle, pigs and poultry are raised in feed lots – huge sheds and barns – where they are given corn to eat, rather than grazing in fields of grass. They produce so much manure that the farms cant handle it and it runs off into streams and aquifers. The food they produce is lower quality and less healthy, with a lot of corn starch getting into people’s diets through processed foods. These farming methods are bad for the land, the animals and for people.

New Zealand is little better. Early European settlers clear-felled the native trees for timber and to make way for pasture for sheep and cattle to graze on. As a result in the hilly country we have slips and soil erosion, and need to top-dress artificial fertilisers to keep up the grass growth. On the flatter land big dairy farms create problems with needing to irrigate their pastures, so putting pressure on scarce local water resources. Run off of fertiliser and effluent from the stock pollutes streams and rivers. The government therefore lowers the standards of water quality in our rivers so that being able to wade in them is good enough – forget about swimming in them.

I am very concerned about the current and future impacts of climate change. The sea levels are rising now and will rise a lot more in the rest of my life-time. Storms are becoming more intense and extremes of rain or the lack of it will cause bigger floods and longer, harder droughts. Continuing dumb farming practices will put food security at risk, even in countries like ours.

How should we respond the these issues? Despair and anger are two entirely reasonable options. But I suggest instead that we increase our knowledge and understanding of what is happening, and cultivate an attitude of hope.

There are many good books, documentaries, news articles and internet resources that describe what is going on and the imaginative options for changing our approach. I like watching YouTube videos by climate scientists which give me the latest facts and findings.

There are also lots of inspiring local initiatives around the world to discover. Local farmer’s markets are a great way to buy fresh food direct from the growers. Many smart dairy farmers in New Zealand are planting trees alongside streams and fencing them off, and the quality of the water in their streams is slowing being restored. Some are milking only once a day and finding that the improvements in the health of the animals, their land and the quality of the milk, make up for the lost income caused by producing less.

As people of faith we have the stories and lessons of the Bible to sustain and encourage us. We need to interpret them with good hearts and intellectual honesty. Instead of treating Genesis chapter one as permission to dominate the earth, we should read it as a reminder to be grateful for all that God has given us, and to take seriously our role as servants and guardians of the land. We hold the world in trust for future generations – our children and their children and so on. And as the Israelites in the desert learned, we too can learn to be satisfied with having enough, and put aside the greed that causes us to always want more.

In the letter to the Galatian church (Gal 3: 23-29), Paul tells us that he turned around his thinking. He admits to previously having a legalistic, literal interpretation of the Law that kept him prisoner and led him to persecute those with a different approach to faith and to life. Paul interpreted the Law – that is, the first 5 books of the Old Testament – especially Leviticus and Deuteronomy – in a pedantic way. He forgot that the original intent of the laws was to help people live well together in community. His spirit-filled experience on the road to Damascus changed him.

Listen again to this beautiful new vision: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”

Warm hearts, open minds and wise actions are necessary to safeguard the earth. We all need to work together.

May the winds of the spirit blow freely among us, and fill and inspire us with life-giving joy. Amen.

* * * * *

I then led the congregation singing my recent song Breath of the Spirit. The sheet music is below. Click this link to download a free PDF of the sheet music: Breath_of_the_Spirit – Melody Click here for a video of me performing the song in a lunchtime concert as part of our Winter @ Wesley programme.

Breath_of_the_Spirit - Melody_square

 

 

Your comments are welcome. Email me at books@pgpl.co.nz

Philip Garside, 19 June 2016