Our lives don’t start with agendas
though we eventually make our lists,
it’s the people we’ve encountered
that impact our lives and make us rich.

Crawford was that kind of person
though He didn’t speak that much,
just being with us was all we needed,
a special power in his touch.

He was born shortly after
the war between the states;
lived through 2 world wars and Great Depression,
which was anything but great.

He was poor by worldly standards,
didn’t leave much wealth behind,
but to the family he was golden,
we’re his legacy enshrined.

Like a match in total darkness,
just being near us he showed out,
always light in a world of darkness
his legend never much in doubt.

James Crawford, our living legend,
a stature strong and tall,
his brand of special hasn’t tarnished
Grandpa Crawford was our all.

Some people charm you with their words,
for me his presence was enough,
he never once reproved me,
he was never ever gruff.

No great sayings did he utter,
don’t recall him saying much,
talked a tad above a whisper,
his cane close enough to touch.

No lengthy detailed speeches,
a nod often sufficed,
lemon drops his favorite candy,
never wasteful, plainly nice.

Not only seldom speaking,
he hardly ever smiled,
why, we’re not real certain,
seems a grin was more his style.

Sunday’s roast beef, potatoes, gravy,
he only ate the fat,
made sure we kids ate the “lean meat”,
grandchildren beside him where he sat.

Always chewing Beechnut tobacco,
even during all the meals,
Corn Flakes every morning
russet colored milk had no appeal.

He had worked in the coal mines
way before my time;
I know life was never easy,
though he never seemed to mind.

He must have had skin cancer
cause he’d lost part of his nose
but with him it just looked normal,
like, with age, your nose it goes.

He’d walk 3 blocks to visit
many stops along the way,
he was the oldest in our village,
never in a hurry’s what they’d say.

Helping him with his garden
always started with orange pop,
why before the work was started,
never questioned as we chopped.

My Grandma had dementia,
Sunday’s visitation day,
so he avoided cigars and chewing,
looking his best, he never strayed.

What he talked about the most
was being in the mines,
he and both of his sons
had worked there for a time;

he’d followed the mines
from Virginia to Kentucky,
final stop in Illinois,
New Baden’s Whiskey Flats his destiny.

I still see him always the tallest,
seemed twice as tall as Dad,
he’s still a giant to me,
the greatest man we ever had.

How do you show real gratitude
to the ones who’ve changed your life,
the proper way to do it
is be the best You with delight.

I loved that old man dearly,
why, I can’t put into words
I still see him rocking slowly,
watching as the world unfurled.

His eyes were gray and weary
in his nineties, all alone
no doubt from missing Grandma
and 4 children then long gone.

He had a strong and vital presence,
my Gibraltar by the sea,
even fondest thoughts can’t describe him,
he was that and more to me.

My prayer now that I’m a grandpa
is to follow in his steps,
hoping my grandchildren will remember
it’s loving them we did the best.

Mason Swinney

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2017, The Year of Pride and Hatred

What word do you think best describes 2017? I think the word is arrogance/pride. Some of you may think the word is hatred which was prevalent but it was pride that fueled that hatred and is a natural consequence of pride.

It seems far to many of us have voluntarily chosen to be part of one or more organizations spreading, directly or indirectly, much of the hatred against the perceived other side that we see in our country today. Some of these organizations/mind sets are globalists or nationalists, white or black, liberals or conservatives, Democrats or Republicans, open border or vetted immigrationists, pro-Trump or anti-Trump, pro-this or that, and on and on.

Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites have become the logical forum for spreading this venom of hate since you can say things on them that you would never say to someone’s face with little or no consequences. They’ve become the perfect platform for making pugilists out of cowards. The time was ripe for this explosion of pride-filled hatred which Satan skillfully brewed.

Lest we forget, Lucifer, now Satan, got kicked out of heaven because of pride and Adam and Eve got kicked out of the garden of Eden for the same sin. Lucifer wanted to be god himself and was jealous of the Triune God for all the love, adoration and devotion He deservingly received. He tempted our first parents Adam and Eve with the promise of being like god that resulted in their disobedience and being forced out of the garden. Their sin gene has been passed on to each of their descendants which means to all of us.

If I am right about our pride problem, then our nation has set itself in opposition with the sovereign God of the universe. And that, naturally, is not a very wise or favorable position to be in since as James 4:6 says “…..God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Opposing God is always wrong and the results can be devastating.

Proverbs 16:5 says “The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.”

Proverbs 8:13 says “To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.”

We are not without hope however as 2 Chronicles 7:14 says “……if My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

The context of this verse is the Lord’s appearance to Solomon after the dedication of the temple to warn and reassure him on behalf of the nation of Israel. He was warning him that from time to time God would send judgments on Israel in the forms of drought, locust and pestilence for their disobedience and explained to him what would be required for Israel’s restoration. Therefore, we can’t apply this verse word for word to the USA because of God’s special relationship with Israel and since the verse was directed to all of Israel’s citizenry and not just a section of it but we can make application to the invisible church (church) in the USA which also has a special relationship with the Lord. If the church membership in the USA will humble themselves meaning repent of their sins which are any thoughts and/or deeds that are contrary to God’s word and pray and seek God’s face meaning turn our hearts as well as our lives over to God and His purposes and turn from our wickedness and start acting like God’s church and not man’s church, then God will hear from heaven and restore our churches.

And a restored and empowered church just might be the springboard for another great awakening in America where God’s mercy and grace flow down and our once great nation comes to it senses and repents and seeks God’s face again.

The balls in our court believers.

Mason Swinney

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Happy Birthday Big Brother

Happy birthday Big Brother,
no other compares to you,
You joyfully left heaven for earth
so your siblings could start anew.

Your birthday was surely needed
’cause our first parents took the dare,
couldn’t obey one simple rule,
their bite caused man’s despair.

Some big brothers blaze a trail to follow,
but You are The Way, truth, Divine;
some brother’s can throw a good party,
only You can change water to wine.

Other brothers set good examples,
but perfection we don’t comprehend;
Many brothers take their siblings fishing,
You made us fishers of men.

Big brothers protect little sisters,
You made them equal to men;
all men lost on life’s journey,
Your Spirit sent to guide them.

Big brothers protect us from bullies,
You crushed the bullies head;
death our last great enemy,
You defeated it removing it’s dread.

You became our older brother
by doing what we couldn’t do,
You kept the laws we’d all broken
and paid the debt our sins had accrued.

So this Christmas let’s remember
our Older Brother’s our greatest gift,
He wrapped Himself in our sins,
and eternally cleansed us when we were adrift.

So thank you thank you Jesus,
every day we celebrate You,
the second person of the Trinity,
and the greatest Big Brother too.

Mason Swinney

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Seeking Hard After God

“Before a man can seek God
God must first have sought the man”, (1)
God puts the desire to know Him n’us,
uses circumstances to execute His sovereign plan.

But man wants all the credit,
though it all belongs to Him (2)
for God does all the drawing, (3)
it’s His grace that draws us in.

Apostle Paul’s definition of contentment,
having food and clothing, nothing more,
when we die we take no luggage
all our things left here for evermore. (4)

But knowing Him’s all that matters,
it’s where eternity starts and never ends;
getting lost in His compassion
as He gently tucks us in. (5)

God told Moses,
tell ’em I Am sent you, (6)
and when I say that “I am Mason”
I’m first acknowledging the great I Am;

which is as it should be,
God should always be the first,
He made us and He saved us,
our sin nature’s been reversed.

And when I say that “I am stupid”,
aren’t I disputing what God’s said
“very good” is how he described us (7)
anything less says I’m misled.

Moses desired to see God’s glory, (8)
Paul wanted to know him best, (9)
we should follow their example,
seek Him first and find our rest.

Christmas helps us to remember,
what’s important, what is not
Jesus’ first, the last, the greatest
He’s The Word, The Son, The Rock.

So remember when we say I am……,
we’re confessing God above,
so be reverent and respectful,
let our words proclaim His love.

Mason Swinney

(1) Page 11, “The Pursuit Of God”, by A. W. Tozer
(2) John 6: 44
(3) Psalm 63: 8
(4) 1Timothy 6: 6-9
(5) Matthew 13: 44-46
(6) Exodus 3: 14
(7) Genesis 1:31
(8) Exodus 33: 18
(9) Philippians 3: 10

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The Present and The Cross

Christmas is about The Baby,
Easter’s about the cross;
One comes as a present
The other with a cost.

We seem to favor Christmas,
A sense of joy pervades,
You can feel it all around you
And wish that it would stay.

We’ve romanticized the manger
And divinity portrayed;
But forget about the dirt
And the poverty displayed.

Yet rising from the barnyard
A bright star showed the way
For the Shepherd men to follow
To find the Savior born that day.

Let’s stop and think a moment
About God’s answer to the fall
A child, a King, a Savior
Born in a dirty stall.

But the real Christmas message
Is more than peace on earth,
It’s God has condescended
To visit planet earth.

But the way He chose to do it
Leaves us humbled and amazed,
The King of Kings among us
Not to visit but to stay.

So this Christmas let’s consider
The Present and the Cross
For one without the other
Leaves us hopeless, blind and lost.

Mason Swinney

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Fear, Opaqueness and The Irresistible Force,

A demon’s been my companion
since forever and a day,
like a shadow perched beside me,
it just won’t go away.

Joining the Marines without thinking,
now the reason seems so clear,
not for glory or adventure,
but just running from my fears.

My life had become a prison,
circumstances all the clout,
no bars around my jail cell
but trapped within my own redoubt.

Like a wolf howling at the darkness,
for the sun to show its face;
or the deer scanning the horizon
for any evil in its space.

I’ve been running seems forever,
though no destination could I find,
just don’t be mediocre,
don’t leave regrets behind.

But shadows are hard to run from,
they’re always at your side,
formed when light’s blocked by something,
for me the opaque body in which I hide.

Opaque bodies are translucent,
impenetrable to light,
the only way to remove the shadow
is get opaqueness out of sight.

But man has all the answers,
we challenge God to debate it out,
but when God gets our attention
our self-trust turns into doubt.

The why questions with no answers;
making sense of all the years;
why did he or she desert me;
what’s the cause of all my fears?

Why do the best die to early?
Why do some turn out, some don’t?
Why do the good inherit sorrow?
Where do other’s find their hope?

Always in a hurry,
but no haven came to mind.
Anger seldom left me,
though the reason hard to find.

Where does love get all its power,
it’s a force hard to explain,
at times so logical and winsome,
other times like half a brain?

Only perfect love can master fear
and perfect love is Christ Himself,
our only hope’s to become His shadow,
then fear’s replaced by love itself.

And so the shadow goes full circle,
removing opaqueness is the key,
in every circle we’re that object,
once removed,
we become all we can be.

Mason Swinney

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Semper Fi Understood

Hurry up and wait
Hurry up and wait,
Marine Corp slang,
every Jarhead’s fate.

It seemed so dumb and senseless
when 18 years of age,
getting there an hour early
so you’re not a minute late.

I hated standing at attention,
constant marching seemed insane,
junk on the bunk inspections,
everyone looking just the same;

running, calisthenics,
the smoking lamp’s lit for two,
no pogey bait permitted,
eating all the food you choose;

your reflection in your boots,
spit and polish all the time,
hairless heads always covered,
a completely different paradigm.

But now I’m close to 70
and I finally understand,
it’s so much more than an expression,
it’s our essence, every woman, every man;

looking out for one another
never leave a man behind,
Semper Fi’s our marching credo,
it’s how each Marines’ defined.

The Corps’ goal is excellence always
and accomplished squad by squad,
once you start you don’t forget it,
cause it’s ground into your blood.

Always Faithful really says it,
we each remember it with pride
and you can bet the Marines will be on duty
when Jesus comes back to claim His Bride.

Mason Swinney

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