Is Bigger Better

If we’re honest, don’t most of us think bigger is better? For example, our prayer lives, the longer and more elegant our prayers the better we think they are. But doesn’t this fly in the face of Jesus’ teaching on prayer found in Luke 11:1 through 11? Here simplicity and brevity along with heartfelt perspective and devotion are what’s really important. The same can be seen in Mark 12: 41 through 44 where the widows very small, 2 mite offering, was the largest offering because she gave humbly and gave everything she had. Or, Micah 5: 2 where Jesus is prophesied to come from Bethlehem Ephrathah “too little to be among the clans of Judah”. And, of course, the verses on faith like a mustard seed, the power of the human tongue, a very small rudder directing a much larger ship, and Jesus and His 12 disciples.

There are a number of human examples as well. The Lincoln’s Gettysburg address was only 272 words and delivered in less than two minutes compared to the keynote speaker, former senator and Secretary of State Edward Everett’s 13,000 words speech that took about two hours to deliver and was the much more talked about and celebrated speech. Yet, today, most of us don’t remember the speech or the speaker for that matter.

I say all this to make a point. The church to easily gets wrapped up in bigger is better and the more technology we use the better and the more people we’ll be able to reach. All very commendable goals, but possibly contrary to much of Jesus’ teaching. This is not to knock mega churches, I am a member of one.  But I caution that we have to be very careful to not over utilize all the time saving, technical advances available like television, radio, livestreaming, internet, etc. Allow me to give a very simple example, communicating with the church membership. Admittedly this often depends on the speed the information needs to be disseminated and the size of the church itself. Unfortunately, if not careful,  we’ll find ourselves communicating with the church’s membership always via email with very little person-to-person communications and, therefore, missing out/ failing to take advantage of a very simple yet vital relationship building opportunity. And, at least in my opinion, more closely mirroring  the world’s communication style rather than Jesus’ who seemed to deliberately think “small” investing so much of his time and energy in his 12 disciples. Jesus was birthing His church and did it by investing most of His time and energies into 12 pretty ordinary and average men for roughly 3 years. And the Bible tells us He came to planet earth at just the right time. So, if He, historically speaking, avoided all these time saving devices, preferring old fashioned person to person and smaller is better relationship nurturing communication mechanisms, perhaps so should we.

Perhaps it’s time for some good old time religion?

Mason Swinney

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Shaun’s Mythology, Year 6

Shaun, we miss you more than ever,
it’s not gotten easier over the years.
The road of life’s a hazardous journey,
the narrow road the one that’s clear.

We know you didn’t mean to leave us,
the road you took just a mirage
but the short term consequences
are the same, no camouflage.

There’s the feeling that I failed ya,
it’s hard to put in words
if I’d been a better father,
the Sirens singing you’d a never heard.

Heroin enchants like a nirvanic Siren,
their alluring lyrics hard to forget,
they trap you on the shoreline
then harpoon you to your death.

Sirens are sweet, seductive killers
who macerate you with their charm;
A cacophonic stew that’s purely evil,
roulette with a gun hard to disarm.

All we’re left with are the memories,
but memories are hard to grasp
and the photos have no feelings,
just generic pictures of the past.

Life rolls on interminably without you,
it will never be the same;
I guess you just accept it,
count your blessings, nurse the pain.

The “what ifs” continue haunting,
our own Sirens singing out,
and I guess they’re always lurking,
reinforcing what we doubt.

Your car and tools their own mausoleum,
an altar to what might’ve been;
your garden’s looking chipper
its there I feel you close again.

I try to keep it weedless,
to keep you clean, honor your name?
But it’s a losing battle,
I do to keep me sane.

I still wear your clothes and yellow jacket,
your siblings can’t stay long within your room
we all handle grief a little different,
grief has no golden rules.

The fleshly you is gone but not forgotten,
though some memories seem to blur,
but it’s good to talk about you,
words complete you that’s for sure.

The awkward encounters have mostly vanished,
some people just can’t bring you up,
but those that matter, talk about you
their compassionate look and smile are just enough.

I see you in the silence,
as melancholy starts to settle in
but I try not t’give it a foothold,
and let depression claim a win.

Tiana will be sitting with your Mother
when Kris and Shannon marry, become one,
so you’ll be there in spirit,
a silent groomsman, silent son.

The key to living life to the fullest
is unconditionally trusting God,
your passing not a final test,
but a test we had to cede.

There’s so much we just can’t fathom,
that’s what faith is all about.
But we trust that God is sovereign,
His will’s perfect though often roundabout.

Hope, faith, and joy our family lifeline.
We hopefully KNOW we’ll see you once again;
by faith we know it’s going to happen;
our joyous family reunion will soon begin.

Mason Swinney

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Relationships

Think about all the people
you’ve met over the years,
is there a rhyme or reason for ’em
or a purpose not always clear?

We leave a bit of self,
in everybody that we meet;
and take a piece of them with us,
exactly what we need.

Like a little spritz of stardust
that is sprinkled all about,
every place we go our glitter
mesmerizes there’s no doubt.

If together long enough
we begin to sound like them,
it’s amazing how that happens,
finishing sentences they begin.

Think about the many people
who’ve impacted you over the years,
some you knew forever,
others, a face, a silent tear.

Do we consider the importance
of each and every person that we meet,
it’s for a divinely appointed purpose
though the reason not always seen.

Sometimes we never learn it,
others are right before our eyes,
but there’s a reason, there’s a purpose
that lives on long after we have died.

Then, is it true the more we meet,
the better off we all will be?
Or, do some impact more profoundly,
their impact clear to all who see.

So lets slow down a moment,
let the dust fall where it will,
and see no one’s a stranger,
their glitters still sparkling after all.

Mason Swinney

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Glimpse of Glory, Easter and The Quintessential Savior

It seemed they’d waited forever
for their Messiah to come;
yet when He arrived,
treated Him like He was a bum.

They were largely narcissistic religionists,
a threat was what they saw;
He hung with the poor, social misfits,
His behavior not expected at all.

They used trumped up charges,
and forced Pilate’s hand,
but Pilate couldn’t wash away his guilt,
he’d killed an innocent man.

Back when sin crawled around in Eden,
Adam and Eve wanted to be like God;
not obeying, followed their senses,
bit the apple, equality just a facade.

But none of this surprised the Father,
He had the perfect plan in place,
though they’d acted like they were gods,
they’d be redeemed by God’s pure grace.

Only Jesus could transform their failure,
He completely God, yet fully man;
sin came in the world through Adam,
a perfect Man had to execute God’s plan.

All man’s sins were placed on Jesus,
the spotless Lamb appeared a beast,
God’s Son paid for man’s sin problem,
their admittance to His wedding feast.

That Friday was profanely evil,
more evil than any day’d ever been;
the hope of the nation’s cruelly crucified,
Satan celebrated what he thought a win.

Most taunted the Messiah,
the temple veil was torn in half,
the creation itself mourned ‘n darkness,
Jesus executed on our behalf.

Was the sun surprised that morning,
the Son who’d placed it there above
now crucified and buried,
how’d they miss His awesome love?

If there had been another option
to procure man from his fall,
a loving Father would’ve used it
but His holiness required atonement,
once and forever after all.

But there’s more to the story
than could be seen that evil day;
God’s creation had been scandalized,
it’s very Creator crucified, done away;

The Lamb that roared now man’s redeemer,
the Lion born for such a time;
God Himself would pay man’s ransom,
Spirit-filled man’s paradigm.

Early that Sunday morning when the Mary’s
and Salome went to the tomb,
and saw that it was empty
and learned what made that Friday Good.

The Man that Joseph buried had arisen,
He was alive and walked, restored;
He did exactly what He said He’d do,
man would walk with God and more.

A new relationship with God was tendered,
bought and paid for by the Christ;
A new covenant that would last forever,
all because The Lamb had been sacrificed.

But mere words can’t describe what happened
unless they’re written on your heart,
the great news for all God’s people
God came to stay, He won’t depart!

Mason Swinney

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Putin vs. Dems

I fear Dem’s a lot more than Putin.
It’s they who support killing babies
just like they opposed freeing slaves.

Repubs have a sane agenda,
while Dem’s their Weiner’s show,
with the party of Clinton, Obama,
when the Repubs go high, they go low!

Mason Swinney

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The Hard Shell Called Life

Life was never meant to be easy,
in fact it’s downright hard,
so hard you want’a stop trying,
the whole world is broken, marred.

You disappoint people without trying
your best intentions blow up in your face,
you try to protect others interests
and end up all alone and disgraced.

You tried hard to be more relational,
isn’t that the way it’s suppose to be?
But the most relational person ever, Jesus
was murdered, nailed to a tree.

Is life two steps forward and three back,
at least it seems that’s the way it goes.
Or is that our own wrong perspective,
expecting life’s blessings to continually flow.

Perhaps it’s hard due to our past actions
or that’s just the way it’s meant to be,
through no fault or failure by us,
life just isn’t easy you see.

Maybe it helps to live’n the present,
the past is gone let it go;
don’t project it on your future,
creating a maelstrom of anxiety, depression, woe.

Aren’t our memories a bit myopic
when looking back over our lives,
the bad times take on different meanings,
the good times thrive and survive.

Rather than worrying
about things that won’t happen,
let’s learn to live by Grace;
understanding no one’s perfect
so stop trying so hard to be great;
and let God’s perfection and love overwhelm us
and let faith, not fear, guide our way.

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Painful Doors

Pain is all around us
if we’ll stop and look a bit;
physical pain is often visible,
the mental, a jacket that snugly fits.

Pain’s what humans have in common,
sometimes worn with subtle pride;
though we try to mask the mental,
like a blemish we need to hide.

But it’s in the pain that growth is hidden,
like an oyster in a shell,
for the pearl to reach its full potential,
the shell has t’be cracked, the pearl expelled.

We’re each a sum total of our pasts,
we’re the face, not just the scars;
pains a path that’s meant to lead us,
just a piece of who we are.

The key’s not letting pain define us,
it’s a step on the road called life;
but it’s up to us to use it,
turn it to joy not constant strife.

Recall, Jesus asked the paralytic
what he wanted Him to do,
cause his healing was not his destination,
but a door for him to enter through.

If the actual healing is but a step,
then the pain can’t be that much more;
just as the one follows the other
so they each are but a door.

Life’s a series of doors, all sizes
we all must open and go through,
the key is knocking, seeking, asking
for the Lord of the harvest to walk with you.

And pain’s a tool God often uses
for the removal of our dross;
and once the process is completed
we grasp the full meaning of the cross.

Mason Swinney

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