March Memories: odds ‘n’ ends ‘n’ sparrows.

I’m kind of a collector of lost causes.  I’ve got a couple of plants people where I work have thrown away.  Both survived and are growing.  Then there’s the newborn pigeon on the balcony where I work.  The balcony seems to be a favorite breeding-ground for them.  Already two messes of babies this year.  [I don’t know what you call a group of pigeons, “flock,” I suppose.  Considering how dirty they are, “mess” seems like a good choice.]  This last batch consisted of two yellow fuzz-balls.  One was contentedly settled down in what passed for a nest; the other was having troubles.  I didn’t think it would make it.  It didn’t.

And…?

Got me to thinking about the time our Lord was teaching His disciples and talked about sparrows.  In Matthew 10:29, He said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin?”  Luke 12:6 records it like this, “Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins?”

That fifth sparrow.

A “throw-away, as it were.  A lost cause.

Yet, in both instances, the Lord said that God knew all about it.  Then, He continued, even the hairs of our head are numbered, v. 7.  Not counted – numbered.  So the next time you comb or brush your hair, you can say, “Well, there go numbers …”

Then He said, and I think it was with a tender smile, “Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

All of us are bent and broken and full of imperfections and problems.

Lost causes.

Yet, through the Lord Jesus, God is pleased to take those bits and pieces, those imperfections, that lostness, and to build Himself a dwelling, which He beautifies and glorifies with His presence.

No wonder the Psalmist, in considering the work of God in his life, said, Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it, Psalm 139:6.  Then in v. 17, he wrote, How precious are your thought to me, O God!
________________

(originally published July 12, 2013.) slightly edited.

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The Beautiful Snow, 2014

Last year, I started the custom of reposting this to mark the first snowfall of the winter.  With a few changes, it’s essentially the same post that I’ve done twice before, except that this time I put the poem first and all the background material second.  Also, I added “2014” to the title to distinguish this post from the others.

Whether you’ve read this poem before, or this is your first time, I hope it’s a blessing to you.

Oh!  The snow, the beautiful snow,
Filling the sky and the earth below.
Over the housetops and over the street,
Over the heads of the people you meet.
Dancing,
Flirting,
Skimming along.
Beautiful snow!  It can do no wrong;
Flying along to kiss a fair lady’s cheek,
Clinging to lips in frolicsome freak;
Beautiful snow from heaven above,
Pure as an angel, gently as love!

Oh!  The snow, the beautiful snow,
How the flakes gather and laugh as they go
Whirling about in maddening fun,
It plays in its glee with everyone:
Chasing,
Laughing,
Hurrying by,
It lights on the face and it sparkles the eye;
And the dogs with a bark and a bound
Snap at the crystals as they eddy around;
The town is alive, and the heart is aglow,
To welcome the coming of beautiful snow.

How the wild crowd goes swaying along,
Hailing each other with humor and song;
How the gay sleighs like meteors flash by,
Bright for a moment, then lost to the eye:
Ringing,
Swinging,
Dashing they go,
Over the crest of the beautiful snow;
Snow so pure as it falls from the sky,
To be trampled in time by the crowd rushing by –
To be trampled and tracked by thousands of feet
Till it blends with the horrible filth on the street.

Once I was pure as the snow, but I fell,
Fell like a snowflake from heaven to hell;
Fell to be trampled as filth in the street,
Fell to be scoffed at, to be spit on and beat.
Pleading,
Cursing,
Dreading to die,
Selling my soul to whoever would buy;
Dealing in shame for a morsel of bread,
Hating the living and fearing the dead.
Merciful God!  Have I fallen so low?
And yet I was once like the beautiful snow!

Once I was fair as the beautiful snow,
With an eye like a crystal, a heart like its glow;
Once I was loved for my innocent grace –
Flattered and sought for the charm of my face!
Father,
Mother,
Sisters – all,
God and myself I have lost by my fall.
The veriest wretch that goes shivering by,
Will make a wide sweep lest I wander too nigh.
For all that is on or above me I know,
There is nothing that’s pure but the beautiful snow.

How strange it should be that this beautiful snow
Should fall on a sinner with nowhere to go!
How strange it should be when the night comes again
If the snow and the ice struck my desperate brain!
Fainting,
Freezing,
Dying alone,
Too wicked for prayer, too weak for a moan
To be heard in the crash of the crazy town:
To be and to die in my terrible woe,
With a bed and a shroud of the beautiful snow.
_______

The poem ended there.  Later, a Christian added the following:

Helpless and foul as the trampled snow,
Sinner, despair not!  Christ stoopeth low
To rescue the soul that is lost in sin,
And raise it to life and and enjoyment again.
Groaning,
Bleeding,
Dying for thee.
The Crucified hung on the accursed tree!
His accents of mercy fall soft on thine ear,
There is mercy for thee; He will hear thy weak prayer:
“O God, in the stream that for sinners did flow,
Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.”

There are several versions of who actually wrote the poem.  The main one seems to be that it was written by Joseph Warren (Whitaker?) Watson.  It’s found among his published poems.  Perhaps he did write it.  I really don’t know, although the poem is written in the first person.  Unless Mr. Watson had a really vivid imagination, I find it hard to believe that he “dealt in shame for a morsel of bread.”  It’s certainly possible that he wrote the last stanza.

The background from years ago that I remember about the poem I found again in avisoland.blogspot, dated March 26, 2011.  Briefly, here it is:

In the early part of the Civil War, a young woman of 22 or so died at the Commercial Hospital in Cincinatti, Ohio.  She had once been beautiful, but a hard and dissolute life had written another story on what had been a fair countenance.

This poem was found among her belongings.  It was given to the editor of the National Union, where it was printed for the first time.  When the paper came out, the girl hadn’t yet been buried.  A noted American author (some sites say Walt Whitman) was impressed with the poem and followed her to her burial.

Perhaps this is the first time you’ve read the poem, or it may be a second or third time, and you’re feeling a little like the poor young woman who wrote the poem: abandoned and helpless.  So far as we know, though there are varying thoughts about it, this lady died without the Lord Jesus.  You, though, have an opportunity.  The Lord says to you, “Come.”  The Spirit says to you, “Come.”  I say to you, “Come.”  Come to the Lord Jesus just as you are.  You don’t have to dress up or clean up or shape up.  You just have to ‘fess up.  With all your discouragement, your depression, your depravity, just come.  “But,” you say, “You don’t know me, or what I’ve done.”  That’s all right.  He does.  And He died for such as you, anyway.  And me.  He didn’t die for the “good people;” He died for sinners.  That’s all you have to be to come to Him.  O, that you might do it today.

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, Acts 16:31.

Acceptance

(This post was originally published April 24, 2013 under the title, “Accepted”.  Thought it might be time for a “summer rerun.”  I changed the title in order to distinguish the two posts though they are the same, except for some minor corrections.)

One of the “traumas” of later teen years is the ordeal of trying to get into college.  Applications are sent in and their answer is anxiously waited for.

Aspiring authors send their manuscripts in to publishers and anxiously await their answer.

The answer can be found in one word – the same word.

Even professing Christians sometimes or often struggle to find this same answer.

That answer, that word, is “accepted.”

Prospective college students are elated finally to receive that answer to their application.

Authors rejoice to get that answer about their manuscripts from a publisher.

Strangely, Christians are reluctant to receive that answer from God.

I wonder why this is.  Perhaps it’s because they don’t understand the basis of “acceptance.”

Let me tell you a story which may help.

When our firstborn son was still an infant, I was someplace where there was a crying baby (not him!)  He was having a fit about something, as babies know how to do!  I had never liked crying babies, but as I looked at this red-faced little fellow, somehow I saw my own son – and it was alright.

Too many professing Christians have been taught or believe that in order to be accepted by God, you have to do this or that, or don’t do this or that.    There’s a whole litany of things people think they have to do or not in order to win acceptance and the favor of God.

But there’s another word which comes into play here.

Grace.

A lot of people talk about grace, but have never really thought about it.

Grace isn’t something we deserve.  We can’t earn it.  We can’t merit it.  It’s not some kind of reward for what we do.  We can’t buy it.  And we can’t obligate God to give it to us.  It’s not a result of anything we do, or can do.

It is grace.

As I looked at that crying baby, my “acceptance” of him had nothing to do with him.  It was because of my own son.

Ephesians 1:6 (NKJV) says that God has made us accepted in the Beloved. He looks at our sorry selves, but He sees His Son – and it’s alright.  Not because of us, perish the thought, but because of Him.

Books could be written about this, and have been.  Very simply put, Jesus lived a perfect life – the only One Who ever did.   He died a death that paid for sins, though He had none of His own.  The only One Who ever did that, too.

That perfect life, that punitive death.

It is on the basis of these that God accepts those who come to Him through Jesus Christ.

Not the Church.  Not the sacraments.  Not through works.  Not the liturgy.  Not baptism.  Not the Catechism.  Not communion.  Not confirmation.

Through Christ.  Faith in Him, Who He was and what He did.

If you want acceptance with God, quit looking to or at yourself.  You’ll find nothing there but reasons for rejection.

The Psalmist rejoiced in the truth of acceptance, if not in those words:  Psalm 103:10, He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities.

The reason for that is because He did deal with Christ according to them.

Our acceptance before God rests in the perfect life and complete payment for sins by the Lord Jesus Christ.

The whole section of Ephesians 1:3-14 deals with the Lord Jesus and the blessings, by grace, we have in Him.

How do we know this “acceptance” is ours?  Paul tells us in vs. 12, 13 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.  In Him you also trusted….

Oh, if you’re having trouble with this, look to the Lord Jesus Christ.  Trust Him.

Because

We are

accepted

in the Beloved.

odds ‘n’ ends ‘n’ sparrows

I’m kind of a collector of lost causes.  I’ve got a couple of plants people have thrown away where I work.  Both survived and are growing.  Then there’s the newborn pigeon on the balcony where I work.  The balcony seems to be a favorite breeding ground for them.  Already two messes of babies this year.  [I don’t know what you call a “group” of pigeons, “flock”, I suppose.  Considering how dirty they are, “mess” seems like a good choice.]  This last batch consisted of two little yellow fuzz-balls.  One was contentedly settled down in what passed for a nest; the other was having troubles.  I didn’t figure it would survive; it didn’t.

And…?

Got me to thinking about the time our Lord was teaching His disciples and talked about sparrows.  In Matthew 10:29, the Lord said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin?”  Luke records it like this: “Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins?” Luke 12:6.

That fifth sparrow.

A “throw-away,” as it were.  A lost cause.

Yet, in both instances, our Lord taught that God knew all about it.  Then, in Luke 12:7, He said that even the hairs of our head are numbered – not counted, numbered.  So, the next time you comb or brush your hair, you can say, “Well, there goes number …”

Then He said, and I think it was with a tender smile, “Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows,” Luke 12:7.

All of us are bent and broken and marred, full of imperfections and problems.

Lost causes.

Yet, through the Lord Jesus, God is pleased to take those bits and pieces, those imperfections, that lostness, and to build Himself a dwelling, which He beautifies and glorifies with His presence.

No wonder the Psalmist, in considering the work of God in his life, said, Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it, Psalm 139:6.  Then, in v. 17, he wrote, How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!

Accepted

(I’d like to thank the author of the blog “lessonsbyheart” for her post “Who ‘defined’ you”, for the inspiration for this post.)

One of the “traumas” of later teen years is the ordeal of trying to get into college.  Applications are sent in and their answer is anxiously waited for.

Aspiring authors send their manuscripts in to publishers and anxious await their answer.

The answer can be found in one word – the same word.

Even professing Christians sometimes or often struggle to find this same answer.

That answer, that word, is “accepted.”

Prospective college students are elated finally to receive that answer to their application.

Authors rejoice to get that answer about their manuscript from a publisher.

Strangely, Christians are reluctant to receive that answer from God.

I wonder why this is.  Perhaps it is because they don’t understand the basis of “acceptance.”

Let me tell you a story which may help.

When our firstborn son was still an infant, I was someplace where there was a crying baby  (not him!).  He was having a fit about something, as babies know how to do!  I had never liked crying babies, but as I looked at this red-faced little fellow, somehow I saw my own son – and it was alright.

Too many professing Christians have been taught or believe that in order to be accepted by God, you have to do this or that, or don’t do this or that.  There’s a whole litany of things people think they have to do or not in order to win acceptance and the favor of God.

But there’s another word which comes into play here.

Grace.

A lot of people talk about grace, but have never really thought about it.

Grace isn’t something we deserve.  We can’t earn it.  We can’t merit it.  It’s not some kind of reward for what we do.  We can’t buy it.  And we can’t obligate God to give it to us.  It’s not a result of anything we do, or can do.

It is grace.

As I looked at that crying baby, my “acceptance” of him had nothing to do with him.  It was because of my own son.

Ephesians 1:6 (NKJV) says that God has made us accepted in the Beloved.  He looks at our sorry selves, but He sees His Son – and its alright.  Not because of us, perish the thought, but because of Him.

Books could be written about this, and have been.  Very simply put, Jesus lived a perfect life – the only One Who ever did.  He died a death that paid for sins, though He had none of His own.  The only One Who ever did that, too.

That perfect life, that punitive death.

It is on the basis of these that God accepts those who come to Him through Jesus Christ.

Not the church.  Not the sacraments.  Not through works.  Not the liturgy.  Not baptism.  Not the Catechism.  Not communion.  Not confirmation.

Through Christ.  Faith in Him, Who He was and what He did.

If you want acceptance with God, quit looking to or at yourself.  You’ll find nothing there, but reasons for rejection.

The Psalmist rejoiced in the truth of acceptance, if not in those words: Psalm 103:10, He has not dealt with us according to our iniquities, nor punished us according to our iniquities…

The reason for that is because He did deal with Christ according to them.

Our acceptance before God rests in the perfect life and complete payment for sins by the Lord Jesus Christ.

The whole section of Ephesians 1:3-14 deals with the Lord Jesus Christ and the blessings, by grace, we have in Him.

How do we know this “acceptance” is ours?  Paul tells us in v. 12, 13, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.  In Him you also trusted….

Oh, if you’re having trouble with this, look to the Lord Jesus Christ.  Trust Him.

Because

We are

accepted

in the Beloved.

The Beautiful Snow

     I remember this poem from a booklet published, I think, by John R. Rice back in the mid 1960s.    At least, that’s when I bought it.  [Actually, it was printed in 1952.]  I was just looking for that booklet in all my stuff – kind of like an archaeological dig – but couldn’t find it.  So I decided to try the Internet.  Wow.  (I remember thinking I really had something when I bought a new transistor radio for $8 as a teenager.  They had just come out.  Yeah, I know, “a ‘what’!?”  All you youngsters out there!)  Anyway, I was amazed at all the listings.

     There are several versions of who actually wrote the poem.  The main one seems to be that it was written by Joseph Warren (Whitaker?) Watson.  It’s found among his published poems.  Perhaps he did write it.  I really don’t know.  None of the sites I visited addressed the issue of differing views of authorship.  The poem is written in the first person, and unless Watson had a really vivid imagination, I find it difficult to believe that he “dealt in shame for a morsel of bread.”  It’s possible he wrote the last stanza of the poem.

     A second viewpoint I found in trove.nla.gov.au article 13207292, which had a digital copy of the Sydney Morning Herald, June 23, 1870, which had an account of the death of a Major Sigourney, nephew of a famous poetess of that name.  (I didn’t really intend this to be a term paper.)  According to this article, he wrote the poem.  The woman in the poem is his wife, who left him, and the newspaper story says she died in St. Louis.

     That’s one thing about the internet, differing information on the same thing.  One site has me as a she, which would be news to my mother.  It also has the middle name of one of my sons as Donald, which would be news to him.  But I digress….

     The viewpoint that I remember about the poem I found in avisoland.blogspot, posted on March 26, 2011.  Thank you.  Briefly, here it is.

     In the early part of the Civil War, a young woman of 22 or so died at the Commercial Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio.   She had once been beautiful, but a hard and dissolute life had written another story on what was once a fair countenance.

     Among her belongings was found this poem.  It was given to the editor of the National Union, where it was published for the first time.  When the paper came out, the girl hadn’t yet been buried.  A noted American author (some sites say Walt Whitman) was impressed with the poem and followed her to her burial.

     There are some variations of the poem in the different websites.  This is as I remember it.  [And I did find the booklet of poems.  Here it is as printed there.]

The Beautiful Snow

Oh!  The snow, the beautiful snow,
Filling the sky and the earth below,
Over the housetops and over the street,
Over the heads of the people you meet.
Dancing,
         Flirting,
                 Skimming along,
Beautiful snow!  It can do no wrong;
Flying to kiss a fair lady’s cheek,
Clinging to lips in frolicsome freak;
Beautiful snow from heaven above,
Pure as an angel, gentle as love!

Oh!  The snow, the beautiful snow,
How the flakes gather and laugh as they go
Whirling about in maddening fun,
It plays in its glee with everyone:
Chasing
         Laughing,
                 Hurrying by,
It lights on the face and it sparkles the eye;
And the dogs with a bark and a bound
Snap at the crystals as they eddy around;
The town is alive, and its heart is aglow,
To welcome the coming of beautiful snow. 

How the wild crowd goes swaying along,
Hailing each other with humor and song;
How the gay sleighs like meteors flash by,
Bright for a moment, then lost to the eye:
Ringing,
        Swinging,
                 Dashing they go,
Over the crest of the beautiful snow;
Snow so pure as it falls from the sky,
To be trampled in time by the crowd rushing by –
To be trampled and tracked by thousands of feet
Till it blends with the horrible filth in the street.

Once I was pure as the snow, but I fell,
Fell like a snowflake from heaven to hell;
Fell to be trampled as filth in the street,
Fell to be scoffed at, be spit on and beat;
Pleading,
         Cursing,
                 Dreading to die,
Selling my soul to whoever would buy;
Dealing in shame for a morsel of bread,
Hating the living and fearing the dead.
Merciful God!  Have I fallen so low?
And yet I was once like the beautiful snow!

Once I was fair as the beautiful snow,
With an eye like a crystal, a heart like its glow;
Once I was loved for my innocent grace –
Flattered and sought for the charm of my face!
Father,
      Mother,
                Sisters – all,
God and myself I have lost by my fall;
The veriest wretch that goes shivering by,
Will make a wide sweep lest I wander too nigh.
For all that is on or above me I know,
There is nothing that’s pure but the beautiful snow.

How strange it should be that this beautiful snow
Should fall on a sinner with nowhere to go!
How strange it should be when the night comes again
If the snow and the ice struck my desperate brain!
Fainting,
         Freezing,
                 Dying alone,
Too wicked for prayer, too weak for a moan
To be heard in the crash of the crazy town,
Gone mad in the joy of snow coming down:
To be and to die in my terrible woe,
With a bed and a shroud of the beautiful snow.

__________

The poem ended here.

 Later, a Christian added the following: 

Helpless and foul as the trampled snow,
Sinner, despair not!  Christ stoopeth low
To rescue the soul that is lost in sin,
And raise it to life and enjoyment again.
Groaning,
         Bleeding,
                 Dying for thee,
The Crucified hung on the accursed tree!
His accents of mercy fall soft on thine ear,
There is mercy for thee; He will hear thy weak prayer:
“O God, in the stream that for sinners did flow,
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”  

_______

So ended the original post.  I suppose it’ll be “updated” to this form now.  Oh, well.  The thing is, perhaps you’re reading this for the first time, or even again, and you feel a little like the poor young woman who wrote the poem:  abandoned and hopeless.  So far as we know, though there are varying thoughts about it, this lady died without the Lord Jesus on that long-ago day.  You, though, have an opportunity.  The Lord says, “Come.”  The Spirit says, “Come.”  I say to you, “Come.”  Come to the Lord Jesus, just as you are.  You don’t have to dress up or clean up or shape up.  He does all that.  You just have to ‘fess up.  With all your discouragement, your depression, your depravity, just come.  “But,” you say, “You don’t know me, or what I’ve done.”  That’s all right.  He does.  And He died for such as you, anyway.  And me.  He didn’t die for the “good” people; He died for sinners.  That’s all you have to be to come to Him.  Oh, that you might do it today.  “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved,” Acts 16:31.