A Good Confession

by Frederic Faber

The chains that have bound me are flung to the wind,
By the mercy of God the poor slave is set free;
And the strong grace of heaven breathes fresh o’er the mind,
Like the bright winds of summer that gladden the sea.

There was nought in God‘s world half so dark or so vile
As the sin and bondage that fettered my soul;
There was nought half so base as the malice and guile
Of my own sordid passions, or Satan‘s control.

For years I have borne about hell in my breast;
When I thought of my God it was nothing but gloom;
Day brought me no pleasure, night gave me no rest,
There was still the grim shadow of horrible doom.

It seemed as if nothing les likely could be
Than that light should break in on dungeon so deep;
To create a new world were less hard than to free
The slave from his bondage, the soul from its sleep.

But the Word had gone forth, and said, Let there be light,
And it flashed through my soul like a sharp passing smart;
One look to my Savior, and all the dark night,
Like a dream scarce remembered, was gone from my heart.

I cried out for mercy, and fell on my knees,
And confessed, while my heart with keen sorrow wrung;
‘Twas the labor of minutes, and years of disease
Fell fast from my soul as the words from my tongue.

And now, blest be God and the sweet Lord who died!
No deer on the mountain, no bird in the sky,
No bright wave that leaps on the dark bounding tide,
Is a creature so free or happy as I.

All hail, then, all hail, to the dear Precious Blood,
That hath worked these sweet wonders of mercy in me;
May each day countless numbers throng down to its flood,
And God have His glory, and sinners go free.

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Decisions, Decisions

We are a generation that hates to make decisions. We even have apps to help us make our decisions; where to eat, who to follow, and what music to like. When it comes right down to it, we don’t like to decide between this and that because we are convinced that we can have both. Like the child in Subway, we want the chips and the cookies and if we don’t get them both, you better watch out! Or like the one who calls herself a Christian, we want the blessings of God and the pleasures of this world and why shouldn’t we be able to have both?

Rev. Art Hodges tweeted last week, “Worship is exclusive. YOU must make a choice!” Elijah said the same thing a few thousand years ago, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!”

Photo by katietower

You must decide!

The word decision stems from the Latin word decidere, which means “to cut off.” Decisions don’t carry the same weight as they used to. Our culture treats decisions like test-runs. Two people ‘decide’ to marry but give up when life isn’t a fairytale anymore. A young person ‘decides’ to volunteer in a soup kitchen but quits after a few months when he realizes that his friends are out enjoying themselves while he serves up dinner to the same weary faces. Decisions just don’t carry the permanence which their name suggests.

One of my favorite poems is Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken. If you are familiar with the poem, the line that sticks out in your head is probably

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

And while the theme of taking the less traveled road is dominant in this poem, it is not the major theme. Mr. Frost was describing the difficult decisions that we all must make and he conveyed that when the decision is made, we will never return to try the other option.

“Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.”

The title of the poem makes this abundantly clear. He did not title the poem The Road Less Traveled By as it is often mistakenly called. He titled the poem The Road Not Taken. It was the choice that he cut off. He made a decision.

We must also decide.

As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

Tennyson Unsuppressed

I have been reading some poetry by Tennyson here and there the last few months. Here are a couple of my favorite stanzas (taken from The Suppressed Poems of Alfred Lord Tennyson).

Heart
Photo by wHaTEvEr
Love & Sorrow
O maiden, fresher than the first green leaf
With which the fearful springtide flecks the lea,
Weep not, Almeida, that I said to thee
That thou hast half my heart, for bitter grief
Doth hold the other half in sovranty.
Thou art my heart’s sun in love’s crystalline:
Yet on both sides at once thou canst not shine:
Thine is the bright side of my heart, and thine
My heart’s day, but the shadow of my heart,
Issue of its own substance, my heart’s night
Thou canst not lighten even with thy light,
All powerful in beauty as thou art.
Almeida, if my heart were substanceless,
Then might thy rays pass thro’ to the other side,
So swiftly, that they nowhere would abide,
But lose themselves in utter emptiness.
Half-light, half-shadow, let my spirit sleep
They never learnt to love who never knew to weep.

And this one from Taliessen:

Alas, Church writers, altercating tribes–
The vessel and your Church may sink in storms.
Christ cried: Woe, woe, to Pharisees and Scribes!
Like them, you bicker less for truth than forms.
I sorrow when I read the things you write,
What unheroic pertness! what un-Christian spite!
Alas, our youth, so clever yet so small,
Thin dilletanti deep in nature’s plan,
Who make the emphatic One, by whom is all,
An essence less concentred than a man!
Better wild Mahmoud’s war-cry once again!
O fools, we want a manlike God and Godlike men!