March 2008

Marlene woke up yesterday morning quietly singing a Bill and Gloria Gaither prayer/song. I love my partner’s sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. I am blest by the way she often ministers to my greatest need. (Even if she, for the moment, detours where I was going with this week’s Psalms, Hymns & Spiritual Songs.)

Our community is in mourning. A prominent person somehow committed a ‘comedy of errors.’ Six lives were ripped out of the fabric of who we were. By the time the last act was finished there were no curtain calls and a vast audience was left holding the emotional bag of pain, sorrow and confusion. Not personally acquainted, we were yet somehow affected. Somehow, the tentacles of grief radiate outward until they reach every one of our lives. Paul said that no one ‘lives or dies to themselves.’


To speak or not to speak! And if I choose to speak, must I choose between words that are harsh and words that sound like Pollyanna?


And then comes the gentle reminder: “There’s no other, we can turn to…”


Gentle Shepherd

(Written by: W & G Gaither

Gentle Shepherd,
Come and lead us,
For we need you,
To help us find our way,

Gentle Shepherd,
Come and feed us,
For we need,
Your strength from day to day,

There’s no other,
We can turn to,
Who can help us face another day,

Gentle Shepherd,
Come and lead us,
For we need you,
To help us find our way.


Marlene and I started the day with music: Old hymns sang around the Piano. Right now the CD changer is set to “shuffle all” and serving up a virtual smörgåsbord. Josh Grobin, Joseph Hadin (inst), Randy Travis, Sarah Groves, World voyage (inst); some of our treasures, “things old and new.”

What’s playing on your machine?

If it be all for nought, for nothingness
At last, why does God make the world so fair?
Why spill this golden splendor out across
The western hills, and light the silver lamp
Of eve? Why give me eyes to see, the soul
To love so strong and deep? Then, with a pang
This brightness stabs me through, and wakes within
Rebellious voice to cry against all death?
Why set this hunger for eternity
To gnaw my heartstrings through, if death ends all?
If death ends all, then evil must be good,
Wrong must be right, and beauty ugliness.
God is a Judas who betrays his Son
And, with a kiss, damns all the world to hell–
If Christ rose not again.

–Unknown Soldier, killed in World War I
(From The Life of Christ in Poetry, comp. Hazel Davis Clark)


A couple of weeks ago I made a day trip to St Louis. Each such trip always leads me through Pike County, Missouri and the place of my childhood. It seems that the new, four-lane Avenue of the Saints somehow can’t bypass the flood of memories which that area of the world holds for me. One of those memories resides firmly at Peno Creek, north of Bowling Green.


Our family had been invited to join some area Pentecostals at a baptism service. It was perhaps my first non-Amish baptism service. Peno Creek, just west of highway 61, flows between a limestone cliff on the north and a farmer’s field on the south. In this setting, we gather on the banks and the minister leads the candidates into the river. Standing out there in the water the minister gives the charge: Waving his hand toward the rock face at his one hand and the corn field at his other; he admonishes those he is about to baptize to maintain a “faith as strong as a rock and as fruitful as a cornfield.”


The imagery of that day engrained itself deeply into my young mind. I think about that sermonette every time I attend a baptism service. Yes; and every time I cross Peno Creek in Pike County, Missouri.


Jonas J. Borntreger

Easter 2008

A prophetic Psalm from the book of Isaiah:

Arise, shine, for your light has come,

And the glory of the Lord

Rises upon you.

For darkness covers the earth

And thick darkness is over the peoples,

But the Lord rises upon you

And his glory appears over you

Isaiah 61:1&2 NIV


The English word “computer” is translated as “computadora” in Spanish – but there are probably not many reasons why you should care. (There might be at least one reason why you should.)


Okay! In the interest of being ‘wise as serpents,’ it’s time to poke a little fun. Back in September of last year I made a post to my blog entitled “RFID, Mondex, Verichip, and the Antichrist.” When I wrote that little blurb I had no idea that it would be so significant a step in leading me to blog heaven. Now, months later, it is still (by far) my most popular post. Entering key words from that title into your Google search engine will quickly lead you to my site. As alluded to, in my responses to that post, I have the opinion that many come to my blog looking for support for sensationalism: Finding none, they go away disappointed. I have no desire to disappoint so perhaps some humor will sweeten the pie.


When you Google on these subjects you don’t have to dig far before you reach some pretty fantastic claims. People being shot with RFID guns and their every move traced; people having been implanted with a chip during surgery; people who are hounded by government agents because they masturbated in their basement.  While you’re at it, don’t miss the carefully prepared, many page, report that traces the lineage of HRH Prince Charles and proves that he also is, in very fact, that bad guy.


The other day I discovered, what for me, was a new one. Someone (using a computer to do it) claimed that computers were the Antichrist. That claim, in itself, isn’t new: How the researcher arrived at such spectacular knowledge is what surprised me. By taking the word ‘computer’ and assigning a numeric value based on each letter’s placement in the English alphabet, someone determined that the values totaled one hundred-eleven. That number, taken times 6, yields the magic number. Ergo: the next time, buy a ‘computadora’ from Spain or Mexico. There, the magic number comes out as 762 and you’re safe. (Wonder what it would be in Japanese.)


Who has time to dream up this hogwash and peddle it in the name of Christ? Is there any surprise that we Christians lose our creditability before the world?  JJB



The song, “It Is Well With My Soul” Has throughout the years been especially meaningful to Marlene and myself. It is a song that has been born out of great adversity and has stood the test of time.
This hymn was written in 1873 by Horatio Spafford In the middle of the Atlantic Ocean near the place where his four daughters had previously died in a shipwreck. The Spafford’s later had three more children. Their daughter Bertha Spafford Vestor spent most of her adult life doing relief work in the city of Jerusalem.

click here to hear Wintley Phipps sing this week’s edition of Psalms, Hymns & Spiritual Songs.

It Is Well With My Soul

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Horatio Spafford

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