Showing posts from May, 2012

'Round the Horn

(Here is a wonderful ballad of commotion and courage at sea just now written by my son Jordan Blair)

She rides upon the rolling tide
Her mastheads gently sway
With seagulls her companions
In the fading light of day

And down below, in dim-lit bunks
Their courage now reborn
The men recount the terror
Of their voyage `round the Horn

How calm seas turned to chaos
And the day became like night
How each man's battle-hardened face
Had turned a ghostly white

How sails had torn like tissue
When the wind began to blow
And desperate prayers were offered up
From poor souls trapped below

But though their darkest hour had come
So far from friendly shore
The Captain's words were filled with hope
From those gone on before

"It's just a little wind my boys,
We've got a sturdy mast
 We'll round the other side
Before the devil knows we've passed!"

"It's just a little rain my lads
We'll barrel through its path
And God knows all you scurvy dogs
Could use a bloody bath!"


James Tissot, Jesus Chronicler

I have become fascinated with the story and the painting of James Tissot.

For years he captured with great realism the gaiety and dissipation of higher society in Paris and in London. The pictures were exquisite but the messages were all fleeting.

Late in life the man experienced a sincere conversion to Christianity and came under the compulsion to dedicate his significant talents to telling the story of Jesus. He delighted in several trips to the Holy Land. His work became more impressionistic with rather drab and sketchy representations of landscape and village, of heat and dust. But his characters, Jesus and following, and his story suggestions were brilliant.

Clearly the man was in a hurry to tell the Old Story. More than 400 paintings on display at one time in New York (1899)!

Perhaps the following poem will fill in some more blanks:

Tissot Comes Alive

So little time,
So much to paint
Of lasting worth.
The years mis-spent.
The social rave.
The treats of earth.
Those cities gay

Ten Pagers

I have collected a number of my smaller ebooks in one location as an Group named Ten Pagers. Brief topical booklets on various important subjects in the Christian faith (the approachable Jesus; our treatment of reproach for His name's sake; prodigals of all sorts; times of difficulty and what will really help; Christmas images; Grace forms it all; and others). I hope that they will prove a help to some readers of this blog.

There is also the possibility of recording one of your own documents under the utility and adding it to this Group (subject to review).

Contemporary Colours

  Spent Mother's Day today traveling with Hilary and Lauren to Alton, Ontario and its delightful Mill and Gallery. The property was once designed for manufacture with power from a spill which flowed down to the Credit River. It is very close to the stunning streamside drive along the Escarpment at Belfountain.

The building has been refurbished with remarkable respect for the initial design. It contains numerous galleries with exhibits and vendors in various mediums. A coffee shop and musician's platform were in full swing. Outside the grounds sport many curious or humourous sculptures and a sunny deck beside the Mill Pond - geese and bullrushes presenting yet more visual delights.

Of all the painters on display I would suggest that the most arresting was Jean Claude Roy a Frenchman with significant ties to Newfoundland through a merchant marine career and a ten-year stay working as marine electrician by day and blossoming artist by night. See the site:…

Knowing the Shepherd Intimately

I have sat in a room full of seniors and have read from the Psalms. When I came to the 23rd, the Shepherd psalm, they all appeared disposed to join in and recite it together. I was delighted at their participation. They came from a culture often exposed to the reading of these words.

But I had to notice that the facial expressions of these elderly seemed to suggest four different types of response:
1) Those who knew it was prudent to join in with the crowd and show respect to the Good Book.
2) Those who delighted in the value of good words, good poetry, touching the heart.
3) Those who knew the promises.
4) Those who knew the Shepherd.

Sadly only the last group had any real and abiding hope.

We must not be star-struck by words! We must take every mature resource available to help gain that intimate knowledge and confidence concerning that Shepherd, the Lord Jesus. We must confess known sin and turn around. The food is available (the four Gospels, Acts, Letter to the Hebrews). The mee…

Walking Into a Message

Had lunch with a friend the other day. He is a Lutheran pastor. We were talking about how inspiration comes for a message. As with all pastors, he runs into dry spells where he struggles to land upon something fesh and life-giving for his congregation.

In one incident he wanted to deliver a message on Christ's baptism at the Jordan River at the hands of His cousin, John. The exercise is intended to symbolize death to the old sinful life and a new beginning. But Christ was sinless. He turned to the baffled Baptist and stated that it 'was necessary to fulfill all righteousness'.

My friend was stuck, even to the point of the Sunday morning hour. Dressed in collar, suit etc. he stopped in at a coffee shop before service. The woman at the counter said, "You are a minister. I have a daughter suffering with a diagnosis of cancer. Would you pray for her? We have a moment."

"Certainly", the man said. "What is her name?"

"Her name is Faith Rivers*…