From the original blog article, It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christ… this episode examines what genuine repentance looks like from a Christmas perspective. Topics covered: Holiness, repentance, baptism in Jesus’ name, and the Holy Ghost’s infilling. Ryan looks at the winter’s perceptual dichotomy in the natural, repentance in the spiritual, and the cross of Christ. Christmas readings included: If Jesus Came to Your House and The Christmas Guest, two classics that are sure to warm your heart. So, from my family to yours… Merry Christmas!
Ryan discusses all the secular and Christian objections to celebrating the Christmas season. He defends the position that it is good and proper for Christians to celebrate the miraculous event of the Messiah’s birth. BONUS: Ryan defends the oneness of God from the perspective of Christ’s birth. All this information is based on the original article Should Christians Celebrate Christmas? This episode features two poems: A Christmas Carol by Christina Rossetti and Christmas Bells by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow which most recognize in song form I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. Merry Christmas! You can support this blog and podcast ministry monthly at www.anchor.fm/apostolicvoice/support. Your support is much needed and appreciated.
The Apostolic Voice Podcast is up and running. Most episodes feature an article that has already been featured here on the blog. And that’s the case with this latest episode. The original article, Should Christians Dye Their Hair?, is worth the read because it gives so many helpful links for those of you who like to dive deeper into study and reflection. But I recognize the importance of turning these blogs into audio format for busy and on-the-go folks who still want access to the information (I’m often in that category myself). Anyway, I hope you enjoy the new podcast format. If you do, please consider giving a five-star review on iTunes to help us grow in the rankings. This helps us show up in search engines so others can find the podcast. Also, you can support us monthly for as little as $0.99 a month by going to www.anchor.fm/apostolicvoice/support. As always, your prayer covering is the most important support you can offer and it is truly appreciated.
Episode number two of the podcast is available today. We cover all the information from UNMASKED (Cogent COVID Thoughts) and a little more. Apostolic Voice is now available on every major podcasting platform. Follow THIS LINK for quick access to most platforms. We’re also available on iTunes and you can find us by using THIS LINK. Please consider not only subscribing, but giving a five star rating and a review.
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I closed this episode of the podcast out with a poem by Edwin J. Milliken. First written in 1890, it was actually Sir Winston Churchhill who popularized the poem in the years leading up to WWII. He cited the poem as a poignent warning to wake up and be alert to the dangers of the world. I find this poem eerily relevent for us today. As promised, I’m including the complete, unabridged poem below and the original illustration as well. Enjoy.
Death and his Brother Sleep
Who is in charge of the clattering train? The axles creak, and the couplings strain. Ten minutes behind at the Junction. Yes! And we’re twenty now to the bad–no less! We must make it up on our flight to town. Clatter and crash! That’s the last train down, Flashing by with a steamy trail. Pile on the fuel! We must not fail. At every mile we a minute must gain! Who is in charge of the clattering train?
Why, flesh and blood, as a matter of course! You may talk of iron, and prate of force; But, after all, and do what you can, The best–and cheapest–machine is Man! Wealth knows it well, and the hucksters feel ‘Tis safer to trust them to sinew than steel. With a bit of brain, and a conscience, behind, Muscle works better than steam or wind. Better, and longer, and harder all round; And cheap, so cheap! Men superabound Men stalwart, vigilant, patient, bold; The stokehole’s heat and the crow’s-nest’s cold, The choking dusk of the noisome mine, The northern blast o’er the beating brine, With dogged valour they coolly brave; So on rattling rail, or on wind-scourged wave, At engine lever, at furnace front, Or steersman’s wheel, they must bear the brunt Of lonely vigil or lengthened strain. Man is in charge of the thundering train!
Man, in the shape of a modest chap In fustian trousers and greasy cap; A trifle stolid, and something gruff, Yet, though unpolished, of sturdy stuff. With grave grey eyes, and a knitted brow, The glare of sun and the gleam of snow Those eyes have stared on this many a year. The crow’s-feet gather in mazes queer About their corners most apt to choke With grime of fuel and fume of smoke. Little to tickle the artist taste– An oil-can, a fist-full of “cotton waste,” The lever’s click and the furnace gleam, And the mingled odour of oil and steam; These are the matters that fill the brain Of the Man in charge of the clattering train.
Only a Man, but away at his back, In a dozen ears, on the steely track, A hundred passengers place their trust In this fellow of fustian, grease, and dust. They cheerily chat, or they calmly sleep, Sure that the driver his watch will keep On the night-dark track, that he will not fail. So the thud, thud, thud of wheel upon rail The hiss of steam-spurts athwart the dark. Lull them to confident drowsiness. Hark!
What is that sound? ‘Tis the stertorous breath Of a slumbering man,–and it smacks of death! Full sixteen hours of continuous toil Midst the fume of sulphur, the reek of oil, Have told their tale on the man’s tired brain, And Death is in charge of the clattering train!
Sleep–Death’s brother, as poets deem, Stealeth soft to his side; a dream Of home and rest on his spirit creeps, That wearied man, as the engine leaps, Throbbing, swaying along the line; Those poppy-fingers his head incline Lower, lower, in slumber’s trance; The shadows fleet, and the gas-gleams dance Faster, faster in mazy flight, As the engine flashes across the night. Mortal muscle and human nerve Cheap to purchase, and stout to serve. Strained too fiercely will faint and swerve. Over-weighted, and underpaid, This human tool of exploiting Trade, Though tougher than leather, tenser than steel. Fails at last, for his senses reel, His nerves collapse, and, with sleep-sealed eyes, Prone and helpless a log he lies! A hundred hearts beat placidly on, Unwitting they that their warder’s gone; A hundred lips are babbling blithe, Some seconds hence they in pain may writhe. For the pace is hot, and the points are near, And Sleep hath deadened the driver’s ear; And signals flash through the night in vain. Death is in charge of the clattering train!
Poetry is an art form that has the ability to excite our imaginations and expand our thinking with rhythm and rhyme. Honestly though, too often I wade through one-hundred awfully dull poems before finding one little golden nugget. Understandably, the awkwardness, vagaries, and eccentricities of poetry ensures it will never achieve the mainstream popularity of its cousin art form; songwriting.
In my humble opinion (and I mean that sincerely), good poetry should have a meaningful message. And, though the message might be slightly obscured by artistic nuance and emotional flourish it ultimately shines through and becomes comprehensible to the reader. From King David to right now spiritually minded people have gravitated to poetry as a means of worshipful expression.
I’m not a prolific poet. When it flows, it comes like a waterfall that I couldn’t stop even if I wanted to stop it. When it isn’t flowing, I can’t even put one word after another in a worthwhile way. From time to time I’ve shared them here even though it’s a major departure from my usual writings. I hope they’ve been a blessing to some of you. I know there’s at least a few other poetic apostolic souls out there.
Because the poetry has been random and sporadic I’ve compiled them into an easy-to-find list below. Also, if you’re a poet I’d love to read your musings. Or, if you have a favorite poem or poet I’d love to hear about it. I’ll start by sharing a poem I just recently stumbled upon. Enjoy.
He did not fall then, blind upon a road, nor did his lifelong palsy disappear. He heard no voice, save the familiar,
ceaseless, self-interrogation of the sore perplexed. The kettle steamed and whistled. A heavy truck downshifted
near the square. He heard a child calling, and heard a mourning dove intone its one dull call. For all of that, his wits remained
quite dim. He breathed and spoke the words he read. If what had been long dead then came alive, that resurrection was by all appearances
metaphorical. The miracle arrived without display. He held a book, and as he read he found the very thing he’d sought. Just that.
A life with little hurt but one, the lucky gift of a raveled book, a kettle slow to heat, and time enough therefore to lift the book
and find in one slight passage the very wish he dared not ask aloud, until, that is, he spoke the words he read.
Below, I’ve compiled a quick link to the six poems I’ve featured on this blog over the years. I’m very nervous and excited to have recently launched the Apostolic Voice Podcast.
Hey, I’m excited to announce the launch of the Apostolic Voice Podcast. In this first episode, I feature some of the Poetry Collection, talk about the Kindom of God, and even do some dramatic readings. You can listen below or you can find the Apostolic Voice with Ryan French podcast on your favorite platform.
The burden of Truth is heavy. Sometimes it feels like too much to bear. The weight of knowledge is forever. It grips the heart with an icy stare.
Wondering soldiers know that home is elusive. They search for solace, yet it’s just not there. They look for hope in the strangest places. They search for kindness in angry faces.
The burden of Truth is an honor to carry. It hurts much more than we show or share. The cost of honor is expensive. It takes a toll yet most don’t care.
The dutiful soldier knows something of pain. A lesson that most have never retained. Opposition to Truth brings death to the soul. So, to the Truth we tenderly hold.
Dear one remember that life is a vapor. It’s not what we’re feeling that matters the most. For hearts are deceitful and often don’t know. It’s where we are going that matters the most.
Dear one remember that life is a vapor. It’s not what we’re feeling that matters the most. For hearts are deceitful and often don’t know. It’s where we are going that matters the most. #apostolicvoice #ryanfrench
Stop and think, does what you say some come from a place of love or hate?
If love then great. If hate, stop, and pray. Pray for your inward state.
Because without grace this life is a waste.
If you offend from a place of grace than you’ve stated your case in a godly way.
But if hate is hidden behind fake grace you lose faith.
And worse, your neighbors lose faith in the words you say.
Regardless of whether you’re right or wrong; no one wants to hear an angry song played out of key with broken strings.
That’s what hate sounds like; out of sync. The beat, the rhyme, the melody all collide, it shrieks.
Regardless of whether you’re right or wrong; no one wants to hear an angry song played out of key with broken strings. That’s what hate sounds like; out of sync. The beat, the rhyme, the melody all collide, it shrieks.
Loneliness is like a healing stream it hurts until you hear the music sing, and it reveals all your inward things. It stings in the silence of the night when you find out that your heart’s not right. And you hold on tight to the broken puzzle pieces that just won’t fit into your preconceived ideas about life. But pray until you see the light of a dawning sky, like acid it burns at first until your sorrows melt like butter, only then will you discover the meanings hidden beneath your tears.
Loneliness reveals the secret things that we all hold dear. It strips your conscience bare. Down to the bone, it digs until all your fears come up for air. Capture those fears and hold them tight until they die underneath the weight of faith. Faith is the substance of things unseen just know that it’s difficult to breathe when faith is fighting strange foes from below. But this is the measure of your strength; will you fight or lose sight of who you were meant to be?
Like a wordsmith, Satan shapes your thoughts until loneliness forces his manipulation into an open battlefield with your soul. Muster your last ounce of courage and careen into that confrontation with desperate anticipation knowing that you will not fight alone. The great God of heaven and earth will move like lightening, fighting, conquering when you fail, strengthening when you’re weak.
That’s the upside of loneliness, it reveals our hidden strengths; it unveils our deepest needs and pushes us to our knees. It brings us to dependency on a higher power that we all so desperately need. Why does it take such extremes for us to finally see that we’re all just candles in the wind in need of a flame that only God can bring? His fire fills and consumes. It heals and destroys at the same time. It thaws against the icy tendrils that grip a lonely heart until you feel alive and free.
Loneliness is like a healing stream, it hurts until you hear the music sing. And when you finally hear the song, don’t forget to sing along.
I think sometimes that time stands still when we’re facing judges and holding grudges. Like old knives, we sharpen our remarks into thinly veiled slices that dice and splice until nothing is left but pain and violence. Nothing cuts deeper than pointed remarks that open up scars, they bury straight to the heart of the matter, and all of this chatter makes friendships scatter, faster than rats on a sinking ship.
I wish we could all just skip these unnecessary scripts where we demolish our friendships and burn down bridges. When will we ever learn to tame our tongues, turn the other cheek, and keep the peace? Because our words create a world of hurt that does not heal with a thrill or a cheap pain pill, it takes real determination to keep our mouths closed tight and avoid the fight, but take every unkind name throw it away, and speak peace into a brand new day.
Remember, every critical remark creates a spark that burns into a raging blaze that spreads out of control until the heat is more than anyone can take. What a tangled web we weave when at first we fail to see that careless words march on like unseen armies. They crush and they break and they alienate, until families no longer speak, friendships litter the streets like war-torn causalities.
When will we learn to tame our tongues, turn the other cheek, and keep the peace, take inventory of the words we speak? Think of the difference we could make just by thinking before we say what pops into our heads on any given day. It’s safe to say the world would be a better place. Less hate, less pain, less heartbreak. Lay down your daggers and defenses, trade them in for tools that mend fences; tear down walls and build up bridges.
I think sometimes that time stands still when we’re facing judges and holding grudges. Like old knives, we sharpen our remarks into thinly veiled slices that dice and splice until nothing is left but pain and violence.
What a tangled web we weave when at first we fail to see that careless words march on like unseen armies. They crush and they break and they alienate, until families no longer speak, friendships litter the streets like war-torn causalities.