A Despicable Tyrant by Mark Nenadov

With the worst of tyrants–self
clinks its cup
daily we must chase it
shrinking from its outrages
but we must fight
if we’re to press on.

Before the fall goes Pride
which causes self to prance
like a peacock–puffed up
saturated—strutting its stuff
Satan waits for the pounce
as the Old Man exerting
his will and Satan’s—in one accord.

Slip and fall
we will to some degree
but not finally or fatally
we must carry on the battle
reminding ourselves
that we are not our own—bought
with blood–a precious price.

A spotless lamb suffered for us—through which
we died to our self
to rise again–and live with Him
as a New Man.

by Mark Nenadov

The Castaway by William Cowper

William_Cowper_by_Lemuel_Francis_AbbottObscurest night involv’d the sky,
Th’ Atlantic billows roar’d,
When such a destin’d wretch as I,
Wash’d headlong from on board,
Of friends, of hope, of all bereft,
His floating home for ever left.

No braver chief could Albion boast
Than he with whom he went,
Nor ever ship left Albion’s coast,
With warmer wishes sent.
He lov’d them both, but both in vain,
Nor him beheld, nor her again.

Not long beneath the whelming brine,
Expert to swim, he lay;
Nor soon he felt his strength decline,
Or courage die away;
But wag’d with death a lasting strife,
Supported by despair of life.

He shouted: nor his friends had fail’d
To check the vessel’s course,
But so the furious blast prevail’d,
That, pitiless perforce,
They left their outcast mate behind,
And scudded still before the wind.

Some succour yet they could afford;
And, such as storms allow,
The cask, the coop, the floated cord,
Delay’d not to bestow.
But he (they knew) nor ship, nor shore,
Whate’er they gave, should visit more.

Nor, cruel as it seem’d, could he
Their haste himself condemn,
Aware that flight, in such a sea,
Alone could rescue them;
Yet bitter felt it still to die
Deserted, and his friends so nigh.

He long survives, who lives an hour
In ocean, self-upheld;
And so long he, with unspent pow’r,
His destiny repell’d;
And ever, as the minutes flew,
Entreated help, or cried—Adieu!

At length, his transient respite past,
His comrades, who before
Had heard his voice in ev’ry blast,
Could catch the sound no more.
For then, by toil subdued, he drank
The stifling wave, and then he sank.

No poet wept him: but the page
Of narrative sincere;
That tells his name, his worth, his age,
Is wet with Anson’s tear.
And tears by bards or heroes shed
Alike immortalize the dead.

I therefore purpose not, or dream,
Descanting on his fate,
To give the melancholy theme
A more enduring date:
But misery still delights to trace
Its semblance in another’s case.

No voice divine the storm allay’d,
No light propitious shone;
When, snatch’d from all effectual aid,
We perish’d, each alone:
But I beneath a rougher sea,
And whelm’d in deeper gulfs than he.

by William Cowper

Anger is Fire by Mark Nenadov

Anger burns brighter than a wildfire
and a wise man learns
not to poke its terrifying embers
but yearns to soak it–away
in the satisfying water of the Word.

The gospel teaches–and preaches
and imparts to our hearts
the sense that we are forgiven much
and an every-last-pence-debtor
being humbled thus
we need not fuss
or be bound to anger’s fetters.

Look at the Saviour
revealed in The Book
though not a stranger to righteous anger
He waged war against Evil One
yet remained meek and engaged
in His mission of dominion
until it was done
all the while in control
never sinfully enraged.

by Mark Nenadov

Against Penance by Kilby Austin (2010)

There’s no atonement left to make,
not even by remorse.
When God forgives for Jesus’ sake
he settles all the scores.

Nor penitence nor faith nor prayer
pays any of the debt,
for payment Jesus will not share
and less the glory get.

Then why should I one minute wait
thinking I must atone
or get me in some proper state
to come before the throne?

No, halting heart! It’s Jesus’ blood
and only what he’s done
makes me acceptable to God
in the Beloved One.

by Kilby Austin

God Moves in a Mysterious Way by William Cowper

God moves in a mysterious way
his wonders to perform. William_Cowper_by_Lemuel_Francis_Abbott
He plants his footsteps in the sea
and rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
of never-failing skill,
he treasures up his bright designs
and works his sovereign will.

You fearful saints, fresh courage take;
the clouds you so much dread
are big with mercy and shall break
in blessings on your head.

His purposes will ripen fast,
unfolding every hour.
The bud may have a bitter taste,
but sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
and scan his work in vain.
God is his own interpreter,
and he will make it plain.

Luke 23:55,56 by Heidi Zartman

‘The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.’ (Luke 23:55,56)

How sweet, but bittersweet — before the dawn
Of the first day, to have rested
With God while His body lay in
Joseph’s tomb. As earth’s last Sabbath crested

Over Friday’s light, they had prepared their
Spices and their ointments for the
Burial — then wrought with despair,
That tense pause while He slept so tranquilly.

Since time began they had observed the rest
Of God. Now it lay all around
Them, as His Sabbath coalesced
With ours concretely. But how profound

His was — how disturbed, shattered, anxious must
Have been the women’s — til they wished
To wake Him as we waked Him once
On Galilee: ‘Carest thou not we perish?’

So little could they understand how sweet
And singular a thing occurs
When God’s respite comes, replete
To this convergence — for He rested with us

Perfectly. His labor had been finished:
He had only to fulfil our
Sabbath til our night diminished,
And He rose to wake His troubled sleepers.

by Heidi Zartman

Isaiah 11:8 by Heidi Zartman

‘The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.’ (Isaiah 11:8)

Now on my wall, a child gathers gold leaves
Quietly over buried Salem —
Bending where someone grieved,
Unconscious of that history —
Of her strange newness in old pain —
Of someone’s memory gathering her from the debris
Of gravestone, earth’s manifold vein
Of hope.

The graveyard, so I read, is haunted by a witches’ ghost,
Witnessed in images.
And on my wall the spirit of an innocence
Kneels artlessly,
Head bowed, in modern clothes,
Oblivious of her phantom nature
In their centuries —
Gathering from their fall a vivid shape,
Unaware of hers.

by Heidi Zartman