Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Liberty Bell

by Anonymous

There was tumult in the city,
     In the quaint old Quaker town,
And the streets were rife with people,
     Pacing restless up and down;—
People gathering at corners,
     Where they whispered each to each,
And the sweat stood on their temples,
     With the earnestness of speech.

"Will they do it?" "Dare they do it?"
     "Who is speaking?" "What's the news?"
"What of Adams?" "What of Sherman?"
     "Oh, God grant they won't refuse!"
"Make some way there!" "Let me nearer!"
     "I am stifling!" "Stifle then!
When a nation's life's at hazard,
     We've no time to think of men!"

So they beat against the portal,
     Man and woman, maid and child;
And the July sun in heaven
     On the scene looked down and smiled,
The same sun that saw the Spartan
     Shed his patriot blood in vain,
Now beheld the soul of freedom
     All unconquer'd rise again.

See! See! The dense crowd quivers
     Through all its lengthy line,
As the boy beside the portal
     Looks forth to give the sign!
With his small hands upward lifted,
     Breezes dallying with his hair,
Hark! With deep, clear intonation,
     Breaks his young voice on the air.

Hushed the people's swelling murmur,
     List, the boy's exultant cry!
"Ring!" he shouts, "Ring, Grandpa,
     Ring, O, ring for Liberty!"
And straightway at the signal,
     The old bellman lifts his hand,
And sends the good news, making
     Iron music through the land.

How they shouted! What rejoicing!
     How the old bell shook the air,
Till the clang of freedom ruffled
     The calm, gliding Delaware!
How the bonfires and the torches
     Illumed the night's repose,
And from the flames like fabled Phoenix,
     Our glorious Liberty arose!

That old bell now is silent,
     And hushed its iron tongue,
But the spirit it awakened,
     Still lives—forever young.
And when we greet the smiling sunlight,
     On the fourth of each July,
We'll ne'er forget the bellman,
     Who, betwixt the earth and sky,
     Which, please God, shall never die!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

[Thoughts] A Joy in My Life

The "Patriarchy Psalms," 127 and 128, have been a clarion call to generations of men who have been moved, by God's grace, to throw off the world's view of limiting the size of their families. Of seeing children as a burden and a curse. Of regarding children as "another mouth to feed." They take us back to the Dominion Mandate to "be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it." (Gen. 1:18) Children are described as "a heritage from the LORD," "a reward," "arrows in the hands of a warrior," "olive plants around your table."

For those who say, "I can't handle the ones I've got," or "I can barely afford the two I have," or "I don't have enough patience for more," or "How can I give one-on-one attention to so many?" the Bible tells us that God is the one who feeds us and our children, that He gives us everything we need to perform every good deed, that He will be a God to us and our children, that He rewards us with children so that we may be a blessing to others.

Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. (2 Cor. 9:10-11, emphasis mine)

God gives not only us, but the world, our children as a blessing. When we train up godly seed, the world (which God "so loved") is blessed; first the family of faith and then the ungodly, too, on whom God pours common grace.

For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men. (2 Cor. 9:12-13, emphasis mine)

So, when we're obedient to our confession to the gospel of Christ, and believe God's proclamation that children are a blessing and that through the seed of Abraham (which means, through our seed) all nations will be blessed, the saints and all men rejoice and give thanks to God. That thanksgiving is also a blessing. Jesus was the firstborn of many brethren, of whom are we and our children.

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Cor. 9: 15)

"Amen and Amen!" we say. We affirm with our mouths that children are blessing. We confess with our tongues that God is Lord of the womb. We ask God to bring more children into our families, "by whatever means." But for all our thanks to God, we often follow the world—and that which is worldly in the church—and treat our children like trophies. Our "obedience" like a badge of righteousness. Our patriarchal vision like a ticket to the front of the line of elder candidates.

We focus on ruling our own families well, not for our families sake—that they would grow in grace, learning to submit with all joy to the authority God has, in His love, placed over them—but for our own "advancement" in the eyes of men. We parade our obedient children in front of others to "show the world" that Jesus' ways are good.

But, it's not just about those who are afar off believing the gospel. It's about building the kingdom through our calling as fathers to our children. It's not about having children. It's about training up children. Making disciples of them. Enjoying them as the blessings they are, and the blessings they are to all men. And so, to really see them as blessings, we must also treat them as blessings.

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Phil. 1:3-6)

Like Paul, we ought to give thanks to our God on "every remembrance" of our children, always in every prayer making request for them with joy. And, like Paul, we need to express gratitude for our children to our children. God has made our wilderness like Eden, our desert like the garden of the Lord. May we let joy and gladness be found in it, thanksgiving and the voice of melody. (Is. 51:3, emphasis mine)

Our children, like we, have been brought back from captivity; they have been established in God's covenant and the ruins have been rebuilt. Now, says the Lord, "out of them shall come thanksgiving and the voice of those who make merry." (Jer. 30:19) He goes on to say, in verse 20, "And I will punish all who oppress them." Who oppresses our children? We do when we provoke them to wrath.

Delight in your children. Enjoy sitting with them and hearing their tales of adventure—even if it's the ninety-ninth time you've heard it. Rejoice to hold them in your lap and read to them, whether it's God's word, or Dr. Seuss, or poetry, or the story they just wrote. Write songs to and about your children and sing them. Learn to harmonize hymns as a family. A movie once had a family sharing "Highs and Lows" at the dinner table. Forget the lows and ask them about their highs. Share your heart and get to know theirs. For all physical indications to the contrary, they are not Mini-Me's; God has made them unique and He's given them to you so you will grow in grace.

Thank your children for their godly character. For being a blessing to you and your family. For reading God's word and hiding it in their hearts. For being your "little man" or "little lady." Let them be your joy and your joy will increase!

Thank God for kids. For your kids!

Now, if you'll excuse me… I need to go thank my children for being my children.

Posted By Jim Bob Howard to Thoughts at 3/24/2007 06:42:00 PM

[Poetry] The Right Family

by Edgar Guest

With time our notions allus change,
An' years make old idees seem strange—
Take Mary there—time was when she
Thought one child made a family,
An' when our delest, Jim, was born,
She used to say, both night an' morn':
"One little one to love an' keep,
To guard awake, an' watch asleep;
To bring up right an' lead him through
Life's path is all we ought to do."

Two years from then our Jennie came,
But Mary didn't talk the same;
"Now that's just right," she said to me,
"We've got the proper family—
A boy an' girl, God sure is good;
It seems as though He understood
That I've been hopin' every way
To have a little girl some day;
Sometimes I've prayed the whole night through—
One ain't enough; we needed two."

Then as the months went rollin' on,
One day the stork brought little John,
An' Mary smiled an' said to me;
"The proper family is three;
Two boys, a girl to romp an' play—
Jus' enough work to fill the day.
I never had enough to do,
The months that we had only two;
"Three's jus' right, pa, we don't want more."
Still time when on an' we had four.

An' that was years ago, I vow,
An' we have six fine children now;
An' Mary's plumb forgot the day
She used to sit an' sweetly say
That one child was enough for her
To love an' give the proper care;
One, two or three or four or five—
Why, goodness gracious, sakes alive,
If God should send her ten to-night,
She'd vow her fam'ly was jus' right!

Posted By Jim Bob Howard to Poetry at 3/24/2007 06:49:00 PM