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    • By Ragamuffin_John in Ragamusings
      I don't pray to saints,
      to me they're paradigms
      for every ache and joy
      in my life.
      Cause they cover the gamut
      of walking with Christ,
      display the mortal
      in a myriad of ways.
      Peter, I'm thinking
      I can be hard-headed, too.
      Thomas, I trust-verify,
      can be oh so cold.
      Like Martha I serve
      cause the Lord tells me to,
      then I reel when He says,
      inside--like Mary make room.
      Moses, man most times
      I'm peaceful and calm,
      but then in indignation
      I lash out at wrong.
      Maybe if I'm whittled
      down to the bone,
      I'd give like the widow,
      cause that's all I'd own.
      James, I repent
      of my double-tongued ways,
      I've much to learn about
      steering one way.
      And David, my eyes
      will see but family,
      pray all are feted
      at the wedding feast.
      Saints, you sometimes stumbled;
      were later called "holy",
      I set apart my myself
      in this clumsy molding.
    • By missionarymikew in missionarymikew
      1 John 4:18
      God’s Perfecting Love
      1 John 4:18 – There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.  But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
                  John is writing to Christians and expressing to them what a true Christian is and what one “looks like.”  One of the main things is love and the expression of it, based in truth and believing the right things.  In this verse and the immediate context, John is speaking of the confidence a believer has to have boldness in the Day of Judgment.  We do not have to fear God’s wrath because we belong to Him and naturally, Jesus’ righteousness covers us.  The fear John speaks of in verse 18 is the fear of judgment, which a Christian shouldn’t fear.  We fear God yes and His chastisement, but not the final judgment, because, again Christ has taken our place.
                  This love John is speaking of is “agape” love or God’s complete love and when this love is mature or “perfect” it eliminates fear.  The one who fears lives his or her life in torment because they don’t understand God’s love for us and can’t respond accordingly, 1 John 4:19.  We love Him because He loved us first and continues to love us no matter what.  Yes, He “spanks” His kids and disciplines them, but He does this out of His love for us and also because His Name is on the line in one aspect too.  His love for His children is perfecting love.  There are 2 aspects to this I want to discuss: 1) love that makes us mature and 2) the love that is mature.
                  First, God’s love makes us mature and understanding His love casts out the fear of His final judgment, but also the fears we have in life.  Whether it’s fear of missing God’s best, uncertainty in life, losing one’s salvation, not being adequate or fear of not being in control, understanding God’s love for us frees us from these foolish fears.  We all have them and it takes time too by the way.  This verse has helped me tremendously and His perfecting love is painful, but necessary to purge us from those things that are unloving in our life.  His perfecting love conforms us to the image of Christ which is His will for the Christian, Romans 8:29.
                  Secondly, the perfecting love God has for us is what He works in us and then out through us, Romans 5:5.  This perfecting love is the mature love shown in the life of a believer and is expressed in every area of our lives, from relationships to spending to how we treat people at our jobs.  Perfecting love does not fear what others think of us, though it listens to their input and it speaks the truth in love.  Speaking the truth in love is what God does to and for us and what we are to do to and for others.  This love comes out of love for truth and out of love for the person.  There must be both.  Truth without love is brutality and love without truth is sentimentality!  God uses this perfecting love to work in the lives of others and ourselves, so the first and second areas are related. 
                  Are we learning about His perfecting love?  Have we asked Him to show us what it means to be loved by Him and to love others by His love?  When we do this, we realize this love is not something we possess in ourselves, but must come from Him.  When we admit we can’t love, His perfecting love comes in to change us and then to be shared by us through His Spirit to those who need the same perfecting love. 
    • By Donald James in Donald James
      I have given my life
      to an itinerant carpenter,
      a teacher without formal education
      whose words capture the imagination.
      I kneel in homage
      before a homeless man
      who rest in fields
      with stones beneath his head.
      I praise the one
      who is of no reputation,
      who is a paradox
      to the law of the righteous.
      And I adore
      the covenant fulfilled
      by the Father who deeply loves
      His adopted children.
      Donald P James Jr (2016)
    • By Ragamuffin_John in Ragamusings
      Cooling leaves cover the ground,
      branches get to look profound,
      and the trunks remind trees stay
      upright by supported sway. 
      I see in this a strength, a core
      which endures the winter storm.
      Come next spring the green shall frame
      barrenness, bustle again.
      Lord, you strip me at this hour,
      looks like all my branches cower.
      Help me see the inner strength
      You have promised since You came.
      Frigid frost prickles the blades,
      gray clouds ask if earth is gray.
      And I say, "Don't play the fool;
      behind what you are is the blue."
      Heaven knows the gospel song
      will rise in me before too long,
      and the matrix of my life
      with the Savior's peace shall shine.
    • By Donald James in Donald James
      Below is a lyric I wrote nearly twenty years ago.
      at the time I was singing and playing guitar with a Christian Folk Group known as Disciple. We offered our music at a handful of folk festivals  and various churches in the late '80s and early '90s. I have always treasured the way God speaks through the music of His people.   From the time of Adam's sin, when the serpent first spoke to Eve and knowledge was given birth in the lies of the apple's taste. 'Til time of Abraham's fold when the Lord on high came down and Sara laughed for joy  at the promise of Isaac's birth.   I will promise you descendants as numerous as the stars that shine in the nighttime sky.   Then Moses spoke to the people. He said, "the Lord leads you out." Pharaoh let them free  so they may worship the Lord.   To the edge of the river Jordan where Joshua heard God's call      and the people followed the word and the walls of Jericho fell.   This land I give to you in love That you may worship me and not any other gods.   Then the nation was divided by sin  and slavery ruled the people again, but God did not forsake as his voice called out through men.   I'll send a child to be born. He'll be the promise fulfilled. His spirit will reign forever. His kingdom will never die.      This promise I give to you now That I shall bring to you the gift of eternal life.

      Donald P James Jr (2000)
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