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Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

 Why is the modern church so spiritually impotent?  Maybe it should pay attention to the biblical idea of what it should be about, and how.

PRACTICAL ECCLESIOLOGY

Commentary, 1 Cor. 14:26, Col. 3:16

Each member has a place; each one belongs,

As seen when, gathered as a congregation

They sing their psalms and hymns and holy songs.

Whether two or three or mighty throngs,

The Lord is in their midst.  A priestly nation,

Each member has a place; each one belongs.

The Lord himself with love eternal longs

For them; each one by special invitation

Is singing psalms and hymns and holy songs.

A pincer movement, ministry:  the prongs?

A verse, a prayer, a word of exhortation.

Each member has a place; each one belongs.

How beautiful the feet, the sandal thongs

Which go to every tongue and tribe and nation

Singing psalms and hymns and holy songs.

Spectators passive in their pew?  It wrongs

The vision, suffocates the celebration.

Each member has a place; each one belongs,

Singing psalms and hymns and holy songs.

House church in India

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest books: Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2016) and “An Encouraging Thought”: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of L. R. R. Tolkien (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2018)!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

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Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

Christopher Smart

Christopher Smart was one of those endearing people who lack that little red light that goes off in the back of our heads to tell us that we are doing something socially unacceptable, or at least not expedient at that particular moment.  So if he thought of something he should be praying about, he would drop to his knees and do so then and there—even if it meant blocking the traffic in the public street to which he was oblivious.  He couldn’t understand why this was a problem, and eventually got himself committed to an insane asylum by doing stuff like that.  His friends, fearful of contagion or of public opinion, mostly dropped him like a hot potato—but not Samuel Johnson, who visited him there.  When asked why he had done so, the Doctor gave one of the most admirable, honorable, and inspiring answers in the history of responses:  “I would as lief pray with Kit Smart as any man alive.”  Thatmoment in the history Christian courage deserves a Spenserian Stanza.

FAITHFULNESS

Dr. Johnson would as lief have prayed

With Kit Smart as with any man alive.

So when Smart was summarily betrayed

And sent to an asylum to deprive

Him of the insane temper which could drive

A man to kneeling in the public street,

The Doctor was the first one to arrive.

What did he care what base tongues might repeat?

It seems they had to pray wherever they could meet.

Dr. Samuel Johnson

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest books: Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2016) and “An Encouraging Thought”: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of L. R. R. Tolkien (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2018)!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

230

Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

Kit Smart

Christopher Smart, the author of Jubilate Agno (which includes the popular “My Cat Geoffrey”) was one of those endearing people who lack that little red light that goes off in the back of our heads to tell us that we are doing something socially unacceptable, or at least not expedient at that particular moment.  So if he thought of something he should be praying about, he would drop to his knees and do so then and there—even if it meant blocking the traffic in the public street to which he was oblivious.  He couldn’t understand why this was a problem, and eventually got himself committed to an insane asylum by doing stuff like that.

His friends, fearful of contagion or of public opinion, mostly dropped him like the proverbial hot potato—but not Dr. Samuel Johnson, author of his famous Dictionary, Rasselas, etc., who visited him there.  When asked why he had done so, the Doctor gave one of the most admirable, honorable, and inspiring answers in the history of responses:  “I would as lief pray with Kit Smart as any man alive.”  That moment in the history Christian courage deserves a Spenserian Stanza.

FAITHFULNESS

Dr. Johnson would as lief have prayed

With Kit Smart as with any man alive.

So when Smart was summarily betrayed

And sent to an asylum to deprive

Him of the insane temper which could drive

A man to kneeling in the public street,

The Doctor was the first one to arrive.

What did he care what base tongues might repeat?

It seems they had to pray wherever they could meet.

Dr. Johnson

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest books: Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2016) and “An Encouraging Thought”: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of L. R. R. Tolkien (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2018)!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

 

CLIII 

Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

In the course of my pastoral work I did a sermon series on The Lord’s Prayer, which eventually became a book:  The Disciple’s Prayer (Christian Publications, 1998; reprinted by Wipf and Stock, 2005).  But of course, before it became a book, it first had to become a poem.

"Lord, teach us to pray."
“Lord, teach us to pray.”

THE DISCIPLES’ PRAYER

Oh Thou whose thoughts are far above my own

As are the stars above this whirling stone

We call the earth; who know’st the thoughts I think

Before I think to think them, though I shrink

To let Thee see them all; whose soul doth burn

With purity, and more, whose heart doth yearn

To see that flame of love also in me–

When I bow down before Thee on my knee,

What words have I that would be fit to say?

He said, “Just Father, Abba Father, pray.”

 

So:  that which I could never have begun,

Thou, sending forth thine own beloved Son,

Hast done, accomplished:  washed my sins away

So that as thine adopted child, I may

Approach thy throne–yet where shall I begin?

My purest thoughts are tainted yet with sin.

And though thy Spirit stirs my heart to pray,

To such a One as Thee, what shall I say?

Show me my deepest need, my highest aim!

He said, “Begin with ‘Hallowed be thy Name.’”

Portrait-Jesus3
Hallowed by thy name.

Yes!  Reverently to set thy Name apart,

Grant it the highest place in all my heart,

And crown it there because it speaks of Thee,

Thy greatness and thy grace poured out on me;

And so to come into thy courts with praise

And in thy gates my thanksgiving to raise–

Ah, nothing less than this my heart could give:

To crown Thee king of all my life–and live.

And what is next, now that I have begun?

“Just this: ‘Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.’”

Oh Thou who rulest in the Heavens above

Where Angels, burning with reflected love,

Flit forth like wings of wind or flames of fire,

Thy will their only thought, their sole desire;

If only I could be thine instrument

On earth as they in Heaven, with pure intent!

Since I believe thy promise to be true,

Do Thou work in me both to will and do

Thy pleasure.  What more can I ask?  He said,

“Fear not to ask me for your daily bread.”

soup and bread

Thou who didst go to Calvary and bleed

To purchase everything that I might need–

What wondrous condescension this, that Thou

Should’st stoop ev’n to concern Thyself with how

I am to be kept, housed, and clothed, and fed!

How sumptuously thine earth produces bread

For sparrows!  And Thou causest it to yield

A wardrobe for the lilies of the field.

And yet, how soon thy goodness we forget!

As we our debtors, please forgive our debt.

He said, “I do forgive you every whit

Your sin, for Jesus paid the price for it,

And you have freely bowed to Him as Lord

As evidenced by this, your very word

In asking for forgiveness; further still,

Your wish to pray according to my will

And for my glory.”  What else should I request?

For Thou alone does know just what is best.

He said, “Into temptation lead us not,

But save us from the Devil’s evil plot.”

ResurrectionJesus-998x665

Thus do I pray, and thus shall ever pray:

From thy dear side, Lord, let me never stray.

For I am weak and prone to every sin

Unless Thou cleanse me constantly within.

Oh, sanctify me with thy Truth, lest lies

Of Satan tempt.  Teach me to keep my eyes

Fixed ever on thy Word, and thus on Thee.

For Thou alone, and naught that is in me,

Alone thy greatness and thy sovereign Grace

Can save and keep me ‘til I see thy face.

For thine it is to rule o’er everything,

Thine alone the kingdom, Thou the king;

Thou art a shield, a rock, a fort, a tower,

Thou burning strength, thine all alone the power;

And every line of thy salvation’s story

Shouts Mercy!  Grace!  and Glory!  Glory!  Glory!

What Thou hast been, forever Thou wilt be,

And I thy grateful slave on bended knee.

So be it: I, who once loved self and sin,

Delight to have it so; and so, amen.

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest book, Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis, due out Sept. 1, 2016, from Square Halo Books!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

A Graduate Student’s Prayer

As tomorrow is my thesis defense (prayers and burnt offerings would be greatly appreciated), I have nothing new to offer today.  Instead, I’m sharing a little prayer/poem that I wrote during my second semester of graduate school.  Sadly, this little poem is only partially in jest.  Writing it was cathartic, at least, as poetry often is.

Now I sit me down to write;
Looks like I’ll be up all night.
I’ve got to read this giant book
(Or fake it so that’s how it looks),
And then write a book review,
Pointing out which parts are true.
And so dear Savior, Lord of me,
Help these watering eyes to see
The thesis of this monograph —
Oh, intercede on my behalf!
Make my analysis astute,
Bless me with undeserved repute.
Help me analyze each source —
Oh, God, just let me pass this course!

 

Graduate school textbooks
Yes, these were all required textbooks - for one semester. You're actually supposed to read them, but I found building a tower to be an excellent use of my time.