Gospel Series – A Prayer of Confession


, , , , , , ,

*Lord God, I confess that my sin was so terrible.  My life so unclean.  My defiance and war against you so complete and so ugly…that a man had to be beaten beyond recognition, forced to climb a hill with a huge beam of wood on his back, pinned down onto that beam of wood with nails hammered through various places on his body, bled out and suffocated unto death…in order to pay for all that I had done.  I confess that that was the righteous price demanded to forgive all of my many crimes.  May I remember this, instead of thinking more highly of myself than I ought or too low of others.  Instead of fear that my sin will be exposed, would that I realize that Calvary already screams out the fullness of my guilt.  There is nothing I can confess as shocking as what the cross already confesses about me.  I was a man in desperate need of saving and you were a God truly desperate to save.

*This little prayer was inspired by a section of Milton Vincent’s A Gospel Primer for Christians entitled “Exposed by the Cross, Part II.”


Gospel Meditation – Musical Expression

I have no idea if anyone reads these things, so I’m not going out on a major limb here by sharing a song that I’ve written.  The tune has been running through my head and the general idea of the song has been building, and so I thought I’d see if anyone had some feedback on it.  It’s called “How I Need.”  The words are still a bit in process and the recording is a very rough solo job on my desktop, but I’m not putting it here in order to get a record deal 🙂

To listen, click here.

How I Need

How I need your crucifixion

A child of wrath alone was I

Punished, you died for my transgression

Your guiltlessness, oh, now is mine

-Yes, your righteousness, oh, now is mine


How I need…to be pardoned

Making war against Your cause

I fought like mad to crucify you…

But You spoke forgiveness from the cross

-Yes, you said, ‘For-give them’ from the cross


How I need your resurrection

I had only a grave to be my home

Satan’s head is crushed, and death is dying

New Creation comes for these dry bones

-Oh, you breathe sweet breath on these dry bones


How I need regeneration

Born a-gain, by will divine

My heart of stone had ceased its beating

But now it’s drumming in my chest by your love revived

-My heart explodes with love now it’s fin’lly alive


How I need my heavenly Father

Who called me “child” before creation breathed

Oh, I need the Holy Spirit

To give me all that Jesus has won for me

-He makes all of God’s promises ‘YES’ for me


Gospel Meditation – Sermon on the Mount


, , , , , ,

Our church here just finished a sermon series on The Sermon on the Mount.  I had the distinct pleasure of giving the final message in the series.  The way our church here handles the proclamation of the word is a little different than you might be used to.  First, there is no paid pastor…we’re a bit small for that and our context makes it difficult.  Second, we are in the Arab World, and our little community of faith comes from the corners of the world, a diversity of denominations, a diversity of theological leanings, ecclesiastic philosophies, etc.  Third, as a result, those in the body that feel like they are gifted at or passionate about teaching the word are all scheduled to speak and we work through a book of the Bible typically one chapter per week.

So, I was on the roster to give the last message on the Sermon on the Mount (SotM).  As I began to look over the passage assigned (Matt 7:13-29), a few thoughts popped into my head.  First, this passage is way too long for a single sermon!  Pushing aside that thought, the second was this: In this series, with someone different preaching each week, it would give the impression that there is little unity within the sermon, but that it is just precept after precept to be understood and applied.  Third, because we chose to do the SotM instead of the whole book of Matthew, one gets the sense that the sermon could stand alone, but what if we need to understand Matthew in order to truly understand the SotM?

Fourth and where I’m going with this, each week the speaker has said something like, “Now, Jesus isn’t saying that we do all these things to earn our salvation.”  It’s recognizable that the SotM is full of ethical and imperative statements.  Jesus declares that the law will not be changed one iota until the heavens and earth fail.  Yet, as Christians we struggle with how to situation the SotM into our Biblical Theology, our Biblical Worldview based on Salvation by Grace through Faith.  It seems to me that the rest of Matthew holds the answer, starting with that wonderful, beautiful, breathtaking genealogy in Chapter 1.  The genealogy sets up the rest of the book.  We ask Who/What form the major sections of the genealogy because that will alert us to what will happen throughout his Gospel.*

1. Abraham – The one through whom the nation is birth, and the promises of God concerning a great people forever blessing all peoples are given.

2. David – The one through whom an everlasting Kingdom will come.

3. Exile – The situation out of which God promises final salvation, pieces of which are described by various Prophets, such as the coming the Messiah/Davidic King, the presence of God fully and finally dwelling with His people, the giving of the spirit and a new heart with the law inscribed on it, the dominion of God over all the nations and nations joining with the People of God, etc. etc. etc.

4. Jesus – To have Jesus here is the most blatant declaration that all the promises of God made to Abraham, David, and the Exiles are all coming to fruition in the person of Jesus, the Christ, son of Abraham, son of David!

And so throughout Matthew, you see the themes of People, Kingdom, and Salvation again and again and again.  The Gospel, the Good News that God is keeping His promises to mankind in the person of Jesus (finally to be enacted through the death and resurrection), runs rampant throughout the entire book!

And so we come to the SotM and we wonder, “why does this feel so much like law?”  Well, first, because it is law…it is imperative…it is expected of Kingdom citizens.  But, second, and most important, it feels like burdensome law instead of glorious honey-on-our-lips law because we haven’t waded into and them plunged deeply into the Gospel river flowing through Matthew.  The people on the mountainside who heard that message from Matthew 5-7 left astonished and amazed.  The left, not worried so much about what was being asked of them, but utterly perplexed at WHO THIS MAN MIGHT BE!!  This man who spoke with authority, this man who claimed to be the judge of mankind in the SotM, this man who said judgment will depend on how you respond to “these words of mine,” this man who had the audacity to claim, “What you’ve been waiting for, I now proclaim…the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”  Who could know that?  If we’re not careful, this guy might start declaring that he has authority over the Sabbath and the authority to forgive sins!!!

In the context of Matthew, we come face to face with Jesus – the one through whom all the promises of God find their “Yes and Amen”!  If that is true, if everything we’ve ever hoped for resides in HIM, then giving up our hateful, lustful, thieving, conniving, broad path, fruitless, built-on-sand lives of sin is very little to ask.  In fact, we can do it with joy.  If these things are true, then finding Jesus is like finding a treasure hidden in a field, and so joyfully, we sell everything to buy the field to have the treasure!  That sounds familiar…oh yeah, it’s in Matthew!

You see, Matthew is ALL GOSPEL!  And the SotM illustrates the life of someone who has become drunk on New Covenant People, Kingdom, and Salvation Wine!  We’re so happy to be drinking with Abraham, David, and returned Exiles.  The SotM is a portrayal of what it looks like to feast on Gospel realities that all find their fulfillment in Jesus, son of Abraham, son of David, Messiah!


(*Of course Matthew is also situated in the larger canon and so there is no doubt that he is also, following the writer of Chronicles, telling us where we find ourselves in the History of Redemption, but I believe that he does that through the lens of the major people/events founds in the genealogy.)

Evangelicals, The Trinity, and the Gospel


, ,

OK, first let me say that I feel quite sheepish.  I start a new series of posts on the Gospel and then, voila, you don’t hear from me for months.  Sorry about that.  A major reason for delay was the fact that we left the States and have sense moved to Africa.  That kind of change tends to take up a bit of your time.  Having said that, the bigger reason that this little corner of the blogosphere has gone silent is because I didn’t really know how I wanted to move forward with the series.  I thought about systematizing the series and having everything figured out in advance in terms of what aspect of the Gospel I’d look at from one day/week/month to the next, but honestly, that felt a little forced and way above my pay-grade 🙂

So, here’s how this will work.  As I learn something new about the Gospel, I’ll share it.  Simple, huh.  As one aspect/facet/branch/etc of the Gospel strikes me, I’ll try to elaborate on it here.  Nothing fancy, nor schmancy.  So, onward and upward.

I’m reading Fred Sanders’ book The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything.  And I really like his approach to this important topic.  One of the first things he does is to repeat something everyone already knows and then shares something that nobody realizes!  Everyone seems to say that Evangelicals are weak when it comes to Trinitarian Theology.  Sanders argues, first, that the reason Evangelicals are often weak in this area is because they focus so much on the areas of the faith that are centered around Salvation.  Evangelicals have 100 different ways to share the Gospel is less that 5 minutes with someone, but we don’t know what to do with the Trinity.  Of course, it’s generalizing to say that a group as large at the Evangelical world has no depth of thought on this topic, but generalizations often exist for a reason.

What Sanders does now is he takes what I just shared: “Evangelicals = Bad Trinitarian reflection & Good Gospel focus” and argues (I think persuasively) that because Evangelicals focus so much on the Gospel, that should actually lead them to be the absolute best Trinitarians.  Sanders believes that Evangelicals, because of their Gospel focus, are already more Trinitarian than others, but the problem is that they don’t realize it.  Their Trinitarian focus is subconscious, in a sense.  The Gospel which they so cherish is an achievement which requires the full participation of all 3 members of the Godhead.

He further argues that those traditions that have historically articulated Trinitarian theology well typically emphasize things that are not, at their deepest root, concerned with the Trinity, and are, therefore, poor ground out of which to grow deep Trinitarians.  He does not bash those other emphases (liturgy, service, tradition), in fact, he sees that those things could serve the Gospel emphasis.  The answer for Evangelicals isn’t necessarily to adopt a Trinitarian liturgy, but to see that the thing they are already passionate about (The Gospel) has everything to do with the Triunity of God.

In short, Deep Things, thus far, has been excellent.  I highly recommend it.  There are portions that might seem quite dense if you aren’t use to reading meatier things, but it’s worth wading through.  What you’ll get is some classic explanation of Trinitarian concepts, but also, a ton of exposition on why the Trinity so important to our faith, our church, our ministry, our family, our lives, etc.  I’m excited to read more myself.

The Gospel of First Importance


, , , , , , , ,

I wanted to unpack a little bit the Gospel of First Importance before moving into other aspects of the Gospel.  Here’s what I previous wrote about the Gospel of First Importance:

The Gospel of First Importance – It’s been said in several nearly identical ways that the Gospel is simple enough for a child to wade in, and yet deep enough to drown the most learned philosophers.  Some might call this the “simple gospel,” but I don’t like that name, so I’ll go with Paul’s phrase from 1 Corinthians 15:1-4: “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you…For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”  I like to think of this Gospel of First Importance as the roots of a tree.  Everything starts here.  All nourishment comes from these short, succinct objective truths that communicate the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, or in theo-speak, Christ’s substitutionary atonement for sinners.  When told to repent and believe, this is the object of that belief, of our faith.  It is the entryway into the Kingdom to as many as will believe and because of it, all that I say in the next 2 paragraphs is true.  This is the foundation.

Now, I must confess that I almost didn’t do a post like this…I almost forgot.  Even now, I see how easy it is to try and move onto “deeper and higher things” but there is nothing deeper or higher, better or more profound than the Gospel – particularly this part of the Good News that explains what Jesus did for us.

There have been beautiful explanations and unpackings on what it means that Christ, the Lord of All, would die for us.  I recommend reading books, singing songs, and writing poetry on this glorious truth as often as possible.  What I want to do here is draw our attention to some attendant truths – things that are assumed as true and must be true in light of what Christ has done.  I want to unpack these as the days and posts go by, but let’s intro them here:

1. Christ died for sinners.  If you are not a sinner, or pretend not to be, His blood does not cover you.  Or said another way, if you say, “I’ve sinned a little, but nothing serious” or “I’m not near as bad as this one girl I know” then you are left without a redeemer. However, if you are a sinner, you know and confess that you are, then there is hope.  In fact, the better idea you have of how bad of a state you are in without Christ, the better, for then you have no hope of saving yourself which is the exact state that we must all be in for the Gospel to work its might in our lives.  So earning our salvation is out of the question, impossible, foolishness.

2. Christ was a real person who did actually do the things which are recorded in Scripture.  The good news is objective truth, historical fact.  There is no room for fudging here and saying, “Well, he died, but he rose spiritually, not bodily.”  Or making Jesus out to be a good example for us which shows us merely how we can experience a spiritual resurrection in our lives.  NO!  Jesus was raised, from a real death, with a real, glorified body.  If not, we have no hope. Read 1 Corinthians 15.  A mentor of mine is fond of saying, “Why is “crucified under Pontius Pilate in the Apostles’ Creed?” Because it was a historical occurrence.  The Creed tells us this really happened in a real place at a real time!”

3. This was all done in accordance with the foreknowledge and by the decree of God.  This was done according to Scripture, but not only that, according to God’s good pleasure which Ephesians 1 says was decided before the foundations of the world.  Jesus death was Plan A (not B)!  This also means that if you are a believer, then you were chosen before the foundations of the earth to believe.  Before you (or the Earth) even drew a breath, He set his love on you to pluck you from the disaster that would soon ensue in the Garden.

Well, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Monsieur S

The Parts of the Gospel


, , , , , , ,

Harry Reeder tells a hilarious story about getting his first car.  It was a pink ’57 Ford.  In short, he was none too thrilled to have a pink car…until his dad popped the hood open to reveal the engine.  I’ll let him tell you about it:

underneath (the hood) was a 390 engine with two four-barrel carburetors. The car had been a South Carolina State Interceptor (a highway patrol car). Nothing had more power under the hood. Space and conviction prevents me from detailing the surprises that Corvettes and Roadsters would get after they looked laughingly at my pink ’57 Ford while sitting side by side at stoplights. It didn’t look like much, but there was power under the hood.

Reeder goes on to make the point that the Gospel may appear simple, basic, or unimportant after we get use to the face that Jesus died to save sinners, but in reality, if we truly understood all of the Gospel, it would beat anything on the road, blow away any competition…in short, we have to look under the hood of the Gospel to understand all it’s glorious and breathtaking power and to see that power at work in our lives, families, ministries, etc!

That’s what I want this series of posts to be about – looking at all the beauty of the Gospel.  I thought a good place to start would be discerning the various aspects of the Gospel and what they mean objectively in God’s work in history as well as subjectively as they are played out in our lives.  This might be a little too simplistic, though I hope not dishonoring to our God, but I’m currently at a place where I think we need to parse out 3 different ideas when we talk about The Gospel.

#1 The Gospel of First Importance – It’s been said in several nearly identical ways that the Gospel is simple enough for a child to wade in, and yet deep enough to drown the most learned philosophers.  Some might call this the “simple gospel,” but I don’t like that name, so I’ll go with Paul’s phrase from 1 Corinthians 15:1-4: Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you…For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.  I like to think of this Gospel of First Importance as the roots of a tree.  Everything starts here.  All nourishment comes from these short, succinct objective truths that communicate the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, or in theo-speak, Christ’s substitutionary atonement for sinners.  When told to repent and believe, this is the object of that belief, of our faith.  It is the entryway into the Kingdom to as many as will believe and because of it, all that I say in the next 2 paragraphs is true.  This is the foundation.

#2 The Triumphs of the Gospel – From the roots of the Gospel of First Importance spring the trunk and branches of what I call “The Triumphs of the Gospel.”  These are things that are now true because of Christ’s death for us.  For instance, our adoption as sons and daughters of God, reconciliation with God, confidence before God in prayer, sanctification, incorporation in the People of God, rescued from Satan, sin, and death, new hearts, being sealed by the Spirit, and forgiveness of sins just to name a few.  Put another way, God made a lot of promises about what He would do for His people once the Messiah came, once the New Covenant was ratified.  And, as Paul states in 2 Corinthians 1:20: For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ.  Wow!  All of God’s promises are fulfilled in Christ, through the Gospel, through the shed blood and broken body of the New Covenant!  Often if theologians start to drift from penal substitution towards some other “theory” of the atonement, it’s because they become enraptured by one of these promises fulfilled.  Now it is right to be amazed by each and every one of them…but they all depend on the Gospel of First Importance.

#3 The Life of the Gospel – So, how do these things impact our lives in the now?  In this present evil age?  Or asked another way…why does Paul want to preach the Gospel to believers in Rome?  What importance is the Gospel for someone who is already saved?  It is of every importance!!!  Remember, all of God’s promises, including our present sanctification and growth, are fulfilled in the Gospel of Christ, and in no other way.  So, it is to the Gospel that we must run to continue to appropriate those promises.  I believe that the way to do that is to Master the Gospel.  Yes, I know that in one sense, it is a message that masters us, but in another, very real sense, we must master it.  We need to know it inside and out…not as cold information wasting away in our grey matter, but as wood that is set as kindling, bursting into flame after just a moment of rumination.  We need to know the Gospel of First Importance AND we need to intimately understand all of the Triumphs of the Gospel.  Only then can we bring the promises of God to bear in our lives.  Only then, by feasting on what is supplied by the roots and branches, will leaves and fruit begin to adorn our lives.  I truly believe that Gospel-Centered foliage depends upon connecting our lives to these objective truths.  How? By meditating on them, chewing on them, rephrasing them, singing them, writing poetry of them, talking about them, praying them back to God, and so on.

A New Series on the Gospel


, , , ,

Hello Blogosphere! It has been quite some time since you’ve heard from me, but I’m back and ready to blog. Why the long absence, you might ask? Well, perhaps it was because I wanted to see how long it would take for absolutely no one to visit this site in an entire month. If that is the case, then mission accomplished! But, the truth is that I had a number of responsibilities that meant that I was blogging elsewhere and thinking about other things that might have been of interest to our faithful reader(s) here at R&P.

Regardless of the reason, I’m back, and I’ve got to tell you that I’m really excited about an upcoming series of posts on the Gospel. I’ve been reflecting quite a bit on the Good News recently and it’s spilling out in my life in various ways. These posts aren’t so much to tell you what to think about the Gospel so much as it is one more venue in which I can grow my own understanding of the glorious good news.

What will these series include.  I’m not 100% sure.  But, here’s what I do know.  I’ve been thinking a lot of what the Gospel is and isn’t, so we’ll talk about that.  I’ve noticed a ton of stuff written recently about the Gospel or being Gospel-Centered, Cross-Centered, Christ-Centered, etc.  I’ll be reviewing some of those resources.  Also, I’ll probably share some great quotes here and there that I find, including old hymns or new choruses that illustrate something important for us.

Lastly, I want to focus on what the Gospel has to offer believers…and I’m going to argue that while the Gospel is for non-believers, it is even more so for believers.  Or said differently, the Gospel is for sinners – whether believing or unbelieving.  And I think that, while many have talked about how a simplistic understanding of the Gospel has negatively affected our outreach, our spiritual formation as individuals and communities belonging to God have been negatively affected much, much more.

So, be watching and tell your friends. I’d love as much of your reflection and input as you have time to give.

Blessings all, Monsieur S.

George Herbert's "The Altar"


, , , , ,

Just FYI, I discovered a newly published book called A Year with George Herbert: A guide to 52 of his best-loved poems.  The poem for today and many others are included there with great insight.  I think the structure will not only help us read Herbert better, but learn to read poetry better.  Speaking of reading poetry, before reading my reflections on the below poem, read through it yourself maybe 5 or 6 times, let it soak in, visualize what you read, pray between readings…join me in enjoying these devotions to our God!

Herbert’s second poem making up the entire collection is called “The Altar.”  It was originally written in a shape much like that shown above, reflecting a stylized altar.  My favorite thing about the poem is the intentional mixing of the stone metaphor.  Obviously, an altar is made of stones, and this one being built in the poem is made from a stony, hard heart.  And this picture of building an altar from the pieces of a stony heart, these pieces being cemented together in their final form by tears, is just beautiful!  So, on the one hand, the current state of the stony heart, being hardened to God,  is a bad thing.

On the other hand, Herbert prays that God, the only one with the ability to shape/cut such a stone as a stony heart, would indeed do a work in him.  Making these stones like those stones that will cry out worship to Christ, even if God’s children won’t.

So, in the end, Herbert says, “Only You, God, can fix this stony heart which is so hardened,” but in a twist, Herbert doesn’t ask that his stony heart become soft and flesh, but instead uses another stone as a metaphor for that softened heart.  Basically saying, “Make by stony heart (in the bad sense of stone) into a stony heart (in the good sense).  Build such as altar out of my heart that it cannot cease to cry out with praise!”  And Herbert’s final prayer in the final lines make this explicit, asking that the sacrifice of Christ would be that transforming act which makes his heart as holy, sacred space (an altar) for God.

What else stands out to you?  Any words or phrases that really stick out to you?

New Series – A Leadership Quality gone missing


, , ,

There is a key leadership quality missing in a lot of sectors. It is a quality that may sound sexist, but I actually find that women possess much more of this quality than men do, despite the masculine name for the quality. What is this quality you ask? What is the this rare, much needed quality that is disappearing throughout the marketplace? The adjective is “ballsy.”  The noun might be “backbone.” The founding fathers of the U.S.A. might have called it courage. If you need further words, you can use chutzpah, cojones, or bravery. Basically, it’s the ability to do or say the right thing because it is the right thing and it needs to be said or done.

Now, I would be interested to here from any non-American readers whether they find this quality missing within the leadership structures of their cultures as well.

I’ve seen it missing recently when observing a high placed official in one organization refuse to give direction, perhaps feeling that he didn’t want to push his opinions on someone else or because he didn’t want to deal with any unpleasant repercussions that might come from someone acting on that advice.

Patrick Lencioni, among others, has written recently about the lack of this trait in leadership’s willingness to deal with the loafer, the bad apple, or chronic underperformer at work. These “leaders” close their eyes to this person’s failures and the effects it is having on their co-workers. They ignore the loss of momentum and positive attitude in the office. The just do not want to deal with the uncomfortable conversation that would take place if they had the spine to tell this person, “shape up or ship out.” Instead they sit and hope that this person will leave of their own accord…which of course rarely happens.

How did we get in leadership positions without the capacity to face the unpleasant consequences of either giving advice or reprimanding poor performance or attitude?  Pardon the crudity/sexism of some of my words above, and what I’m about to say, but it seems that many men (and some women) need to find their manhood (and by that, I mean their reproductive organs).  I guess that should the next addition to a standard business degree. 

Where have you seen the lack of courage in the marketplace, politics, the religious establishment, etc?  What are you doing to change it?

George Herbert 1


, ,

I have been wanting to get back into blogging. I attempting a blogging challenge, but I really didn’t like the structure of it, so I felt disinclined to continue it. I have thought of another to which I might give time. I’ve always liked poetry (I blame Shel Silverstein), writing it and reading it. One of my favorite authors, though I’ve read him too little, is George Herbert. So, I’d like to work through his collection of poems called The Temple.  I will, for time’s sake, most likely skip the longer poems, but we’ll see.

A good place to start then is the dedication of the collection.  Before that though, a little about Herbert.  The printer of the book, which came out just after Herbert’s death, shares a note to reader.  A few things from the short note which I really liked are (quotations):

1. The dedication of this work having been made by the Author to the Divine Majestie only, how should we now presume to interest any mortal man in the patronage of it? Much less think we it meet to seek the recommendation of the Muses, for that which himself was confident to have been inspired by a diviner breath than flows from Helicon.

2. To testify his independence of all others (and therefore his dependence solely on God), and to quicken his diligence in the kind, he used in his ordinary speech, when he made mention of the blessed name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to add, “My Master.”

3.  Next to God, he loved that which God himself hath magnified above all things, that is, his Word: so as he hath been heard to make solemn protestation, that he would not part with one leaf thereof for the whole world, if it were offered him in exchange.

4. We conclude all with his own Motto, with which he used to conclude all things that might seem to tend any way to his own honour; those things are “Less than the least of God’s mercies.”  So, without further ado, here is the dedication written by Herbert:

Lord, my first fruits present themselves to thee;

Yet not mine neither: for from thee they came,

And must return.  Accept of them and me,

And make us strive, who shall sing best thy name.

          Turn their eyes hither, who shall make a gain:

          Theirs, who shall hurt themselves or me, refrain.

What shall we make of this dedication?  As the publisher said above, Herbert’s only interest was that God be glorified by it, not some patron who paid for the publishing, nor even a dear family member.  God alone should receive these “first fruits.”  

Herbert, however, realizes that he is giving God something that already belongs to Him, as all things belong to Him.  How reminiscent of Herbert’s motto above.  I am sure he would have said about this complete collection of poems that they are less than the least of God’s mercies. 

He follows this with a prayer that this merciful God would accept him and all the saints (those “who shall sing best Thy name”), and that God would direct readers (turn their eyes hither) to these poems who will benefit from them, and keep away (refrain) those who would read them and seek to harm either Herbert or themselves in their responses.

So, there is our meaning! I won’t go on and on today about the beauty of the language itself, but only to draw your attention again to the man whose poems I hope to dig into in the coming days.  Should be fun…for me at least!