IN THE SHADOW OF HIS WING
These are poems that were recorded on a CD with the help of Brian Caddy. There are nine tracks, and each has a music / sound accompaniment.
The nine tracks are:
UNDER HIS SHADOW Mark 4:30-41
MARTHA, MARTHA Luke 10:38-40
NAAMAN’S AWAKENING 2 Kings 5:1-15
JOY TO THE WORLD You Tube video
DAVID AND GOLIATH 1 Samuel 17
NOAH’S ARK Genesis 6-8
SIMON THE PHARISEE Luke 7:37–48
THE FALL OF JERICHO Joshua 6:1-20
PETER’S FAITH Matthew 14:15-33 You Tube video
The CD is available for purchase at £15 incl P&P, go to the Shop page.
What follows are the words of the nine poems in the CD “In the Shadow of His wings”
UNDER HIS SHADOW Mark 4:30-41
I’ve been his disciple for such a short time.
But in that short time my world’s been transformed. I don’t know where it’s going to take me.
Just take a look at the last twenty-four hours;
All day we’d been on the Galilean shore,
Huge multitudes from all over the place,
Many had walked miles upon miles, – others had come by boat.
I’d anchored ours just offshore.
There were so many people that Jesus used it as a pulpit, standing at the stern.
It was incredible.
Everyone that was there seemed to be hearing everything that he said with no difficulty.
Parable after parable he taught.
He made the Scriptures so clear, his speech reached the heart of everyone that hearkened to his words,
Some were healed just in the listening.
We all wanted to hear more, and were surprised when the sun began to dip beneath the mountaintop, and the evening cool brushed our faces.
Jesus finished his preaching, and said for us to pass over to the other side of the sea.
The multitude dispersed, and some got back into their own boats and set sail with us.
It was a beautiful evening, – a perfect end to the day.
The cool had settled in fast, and we wrapped up warmer.
But Jesus came as he was. He didn’t seem to feel the cold. In fact nothing ever seemed to trouble him.
It was as though he was living in another world, giving us glimpses of a different reality.
Anyway he retired to the hinder part of the ship, closed his eyes and slept. Just that quick.
We all felt at one with the world. Twilight. Early evening stars. Safe.
Thomas saw the first cloud. Just a casual remark, as one would. But less than a minute later he called out again, – the horizon had vanished, – not with the coming night, but looming storm clouds.
A sudden gust blew hard across us, followed by another. Quick shouts of warning echoed across the sea, boat to boat, scaringly lost in the now buffeting squall.
Night brought on early by treacherous black clouds; deep swells overtook our craft, rain with no caution just dumped down and merged into the jumping sea.
Wind driven waves mounted attack, tops driven hard, wet, into our faces, threatening, promising, crashing into our vessels.
Up, down, round, sliding, full of water, – frightened faces sharing fishermen’s worst fears.
I glanced at the stern, – took in Jesus still sleeping on his pillow, oblivious to the storm.
I looked at my friends, – we’d run out of ideas, of hope. We’d failed him and ourselves.
Unspoken agreement had us moving hand on hand to his sleeping form.
I’m holding onto some rope for my very life, balancing my weight against the mounting-falling deck, expecting him to scramble up and do..what?!
All this talk of the kingdom of heaven worthless. I felt an anger and resentment that matched the tempest.
I urgently shook his shoulder, woke him.
“Master, carest thou not that we perish?”
I swear to you the moment he awoke the boat stopped rocking. My fear, the great billowing storm, had not touched him. Instead inner tranquillity conveyed itself outwards. He was the Master, nothing else.
That moment he woke, he looked at me, not with reproach, but as though he abode in the kingdom of heaven, and had just opened the door for me to come in.
I forgot the storm; love for this man had replaced fear, the guilt of my resentment battling awe of his complete command. I let go of the rope, safe in the presence of his utter knowledge of supreme power.
He stood. Reached out with outstretched arms:
“Peace, be still”
The wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
The wind, the rain, the mighty sea swell, all suddenly gone. How? Where?
I looked down at my feet. The boat was empty, dry.
We looked at each other, hearts racing with fear of a different kind.
It was as though the storm had never been.
He turned round, spoke to us.
“Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?”
Have you ever shared witness of the impossible?
We whispered amongst ourselves “What manner of man is this that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
He looked at me again, both reading and guiding my thoughts..
His words at the seashore came back to me as if we were both back there barely two hours ago:
“Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it?
It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds
that be in the earth:
But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great
branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it”.
Once more I saw the kingdom of heaven within him, felt infinity itself enfold me in the still of the evening dark, the universe the heavenly abiding place of all God’s creatures, safe, secure.
I had just witnessed such a seed, a glimpse of some great Truth, already growing in my consciousness, of Man, under the shadow of the Almighty, untouched by whatever could be thrown at him.
With a jolt I realised his words had been more than just words. I’d been taking them at face value. They’d sounded good, and comforting. I’d not bothered, or been too scared, to think through their implications.
He’d just proved them!
“Peace, be still”
It all seemed so natural.
Jesus had been in control all along.
He was still looking at me.
And I felt sure I heard him say to my listening thought
“With God, you too have dominion”
Was this why he had called me?
Am I also as a grain of mustard seed?
I felt his love planting and nurturing me.
I’d forsaken my nets for this man. I must forsake all I once knew.
“How is it that ye have no faith?”
Lord, give me faith as a grain of mustard seed.
Take me where you will.
Jesus responded and held me by the hand.
“Peter, nothing shall be impossible unto you………..”
“Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain,
Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”
©Ken Cooper October 2005
MARTHA, MARTHA Luke 10:38-40
I’ll just do this before I sit down.
It won’t take long. Oh please do not frown!
It needs to be done; it’s plain to see.
Mary won’t do it. Has to be me!
I’ll just get some drinks: it’s been so hot!
You’ll all be grateful, likely as not.
The cups need fetching; it’s plain to see.
Mary won’t do it. Has to be me!
I’m nearly through; the food’s being cooked
Seating arranged, effectively booked.
-Just get some cushions: it’s plain to see.
Mary won’t do it. Has to be me!
There’s other things should really be done;
“Jesus, it’s simply not fair nor fun.”
“Martha, my friend, the choice is with thee!
Mary has chosen eternity.”
©Ken Cooper March 2007
My name is Naaman.
You will have heard of me.
By my valour the Lord has given deliverance unto Syria.
I am now second only to the king in the whole of my country.
Life would be perfect but for one thing:
I have leprosy.
I have conquered many peoples, many kings;
I know how to fight, how to win.
But this one thing is defeating me.
I will have to do something.
A servant girl captured from Israel has come forward,
Spoken to my wife. She knows a prophet in Israel called Elisha that can heal me.
I will go to him, with the king’s sanction.
He is certain to know of me and with the gifts I will bring this looks straightforward.
I am sure he will feel honoured to meet someone of my reputation.
I wonder what grand thing he’ll do.
I’ll make sure there’s plenty of people around to see.
I am bearing a letter from the king of Syria with generous gifts, as I lead my army of warriors from my gold-adorned chariot down into Israel.
Their king is afraid of my coming and my expectations. I am directed to Elisha’s house. We arrive in all our splendour..
This will be the great moment. At last I will be healed of this disease!
A lowly messenger emerges. Where is the prophet?!
“Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean”
He dares tells me what to do! How dare he treat me, Naaman, thus!! Has he forgotten who I am? Sends a mere messenger!? And what! Bathe in Jordan! – Abana and Pharpar are far better than all their waters put together! Who does he think he is! I’ve not come all this way to be so insulted. What a waste of time!
I head back home insulted and enraged and frustrated.
I am Naaman! Naaman!
My servants dare to speak to me in my wrath. I will listen to them and not that prophet. They love me enough to risk my rejection … My heart suddenly warms to their selflessness …and, behold, their words knife through my pride.. They love me not because I am Naaman, who I am, but because of what I am, because their love is part of what they are, greater and grander than title and glory. Who is more worthy of love? And yes, the prophet must have loved me enough to see what I really needed. This is now the greatest challenge of my life.
What shall I do? For the first time I ask, What should I do? Is it really the great Naaman asking this? “Who is more worthy….?” The question repeats itself many times, insisting on an answer I do not want to give. Not who I am but how I live. Their love is real, mine has been me. Mine has been me.
The river is cold. I dip myself once. The messenger said seven times. Twice. Five to go. Three times and the cold is strangely like a cleansing fire. Four times, and I feel the power of obedience washing through my body. Five. No longer Naaman of bow down to me fame. No longer Naaman how important am I. Six and revelation: Why must I wash seven times? and the evening and the morning were the sixth day …what is the belief in Israel? What happened on the sixth day? – Didn’t God make man in His image and likeness and everything that He made was very good? No one better than another? All equal. Is this Elisha’s hidden message? I am suddenly at peace. I dip down in Jordan for the seventh time. I have forgotten myself in the breaking dawn of understanding: God rested on the seventh day in the completion of His creation! His is all the power! His the majesty! I emerge from the river rested and transformed. The leprosy is no more. I don’t even need to look. I feel cleaned through. I am cleaned through.
I return to gratefully and publicly acknowledge Elisha and his God. I am a new man, complete, seeing others as myself and me so far greater than I ever was before. A child of God. I kneel in awe and humility before the Father of all.
His name is Jehovah.
You will have heard of Him.
Ken Cooper April 2006
JOY TO THE WORLD
“Have we not all one Father?”
An ancient prophet said.
“Hath not one God created us?”
Let us this gospel spread.
The baby Jesus hope did bring,
Born of a virgin mother.
His message powerful and strong:
Be to each a brother.
So Christmas brings to one and all
This calling from above:
It doesn’t matter where we’re from,
We share one Father Love.
Let Love therefore outreach your heart
And one another greet:
Oh let the joy of Christmas-time
Enfold all those you meet.
©Ken Cooper December 2006
DAVID AND GOLIATH 1 Samuel 17
I’d heard the rumour.
Felt the fear with which the stories sped their line.
The Philistines had a giant.
And I could see him now.
He must be well over six cubits!
His armour alone would be sufficient to crush a normal man.
Goliath of Gath.
A death-dispensing monster.
The very name engendered terror.
Forty times, each of forty days, he’d challenged, confident none dare reply:
“Choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me. If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us.”
The persistent mocking, his knowledge of invincibility, dragged all down.
I looked round.
Our army, our very king, sore dismayed and greatly afraid.
They didn’t know what to do.
No one could fight on his terms and win.
It seemed like certain death.
Israel destined to slavery.
The enemy had to be faced, not run away from. Fleeing only built up hidden fears, constant checking, looking for signs of the enemy, – where was he, how close, where close? The defeatist question: How long have we got till we are his?
I knew there was no mortal answer; nothing we had could match him. His brazen arrogance had within it his expectation of victory and ours of defeat. I shook myself free of the fearful mesmerism, this so-called unstoppable threat. And remembered..
I had beaten a bear and a lion, not from any power of my own, but with the hand of the Lord! Why should this Goliath be any different?
I heard my voice speaking to Saul!
“Let no man’s heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”
I began to dress with armour not mine.
Something was wrong. I had not proved the armour, but I had proved my God.
My forbears had spent forty barren years in the wilderness before they came to trust sufficiently in the Lord. Our army had now shown forty days of barren doubt. Now lest we have forty years of slavery, we must place our reliance totally on God. Immediately.
I drop all material defence and reasoning and feel the onrush of spiritual inspiration.
God cannot run from anything! His all-power is comprised in His ever-presence. How can he run from anything when He is everywhere? How can I ever be outside His Existence? How can I fear when the Almighty is ever with me?
I take my staff, (for I will lean on God),
I choose me five stones from a babbling brook, (rounded by the constant flow of inspiration, God its only source)
I have my sling, (God is my deliverer).
Goliath scoffs when he sees me coming. He was only looking at what he saw, not at what I had with me. He stretches out to his full height and reach:
“Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field”.
Threats that once seemed real will now prove empty in their vacuous boasting.
It’s my turn to set out the true battlefield:
“Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand”
I run towards this mountain of a man, adorned in his armour and ferocity, snarling and stamping his rhythm of war. I reach into my bag, draw out a stone, and place it in the sling.
The victory is already mine even before I sling the stone. I feel the presence of my God, the might of His power, myself as his instrument of deliverance, unstoppable, more invincible than any army. His All-power is the nothing-power of His foes. I see Goliath as though I see an empty dream. There is no fear because there is nothing to fear.
I feel at one with my sling and its snug stone. No longer David, but God’s emissary, I focus on the forehead of Goliath and let loose the whirling slung stone with the inevitable accuracy of utter dominion.
The stone sinks deep into his forehead. Strikes at the very source of his empire, the belief of life in matter, which kills itself. He thumps to the ground, to move no more.
A single stone the master over a terror a hundred times its size. It could have been a thousand times, the result the same. I stand victorious, knowing it was the hand of God.
I take Goliath’s sword from its sheath, – he hadn’t even drawn it before he was killed. Unprepared for my battlefield, he’d had no chance! I use it to cut off his head, its lifelessness the ultimate symbol of defeat and victory. There was no coming back.
I look up: the enemy has seen its mascot humiliated and defeated, and they flee. They cannot fight on the same ground; they have seen that God the Lord is with us. And who then can be against us?
The omnipotence and omnipresence of God fills my consciousness once more.
I stand in awe at His sovereignty, and am at peace.
©Ken Cooper January 2006
NOAH’S ARK Genesis 6-8
Hi Noah; God calling:
There’s something you must do.
It is to build a mighty ark,
The world’s first mobile zoo.
Now Noah, do trust me,
You’ve got to build this boat,
I’ll tell you everything you need:
Let’s get this ark afloat!
I hear you Lord, my God,
I’ll do just what you say.
I know that when You ask something,
It makes sense to obey!
The sun is bright in clear blue sky,
There are no clouds in view.
I’m going to feel a little daft
As I construct this zoo!
So when I’m building this strange thing
I’m asked what I’m a-doing,
Is it all right if I respond
“There is a big storm brewing”?!
It really is a test of faith
To do what seems so odd,
But I will do what Thou hast asked
Because I trust my God.
The ark gets built in record time;
It really looks a treat.
There’s plenty space for everything,
I’ve even got a seat!
The sun still shines as two by two
The animals all climb in.
And thoughts that aren’t in step with You
Will perish by their sin.
The rain it came, it didn’t stop
Until the land was covered;
But we were safe above it all,
And finally we anchored.
Now those that mocked will surely know
A message pure and stark:
If you don’t live as God intends
You won’t get in the ark!
No matter what the evidence
Of things that seem to be,
Your trust in God is always met
Because He trusts in thee.
©Ken Cooper September 2004
SIMON THE PHARISEE Luke 7:37–48
Life is all about credibility.
And this Jesus of Nazareth is certainly building his!
He is becoming the rising star of the region.
Teaching in the synagogues, preaching about the kingdom of heaven being here!
How would he know? I’ve been around longer than he has, and I’ve never seen it!
What’s worse, he’s healing people, not just of their diseases, but claiming also their sins!
How does a carpenter get to do that!
By all accounts he’s a dangerous man,
Upsetting the order of things,
Challenging what we do, what we’ve always done.
I suppose I’ll have to invite him to my home, check him out.
I feel a mixture of arrogance and intrigue.
He’s on my patch, I need to know what he’s up to,
But I’m also interested…
What’s he got that’s making people follow him rather than us?
Is he just some new fad, or is there something more real.
The healings seem genuine.
What if they are?
I complete my ritual of afternoon prayer, making sure I am seen of others.
I have a responsibility to maintain appearances.
It’s a comfortable routine, and I feel the better for it.
There’s time now to go out into the street and see this man for myself.
I watch from a distance, catching the odd word.
He’s in preaching mode.
I begin to make my way towards him through the crowd.
How they are listening!
I need to gently push my way through,
Minor irritation gives way to acquiescence when they see who I am.
Slowly and surely I reach to the front.
He is younger than I expected, and obviously less experienced than me.
Yet he has an authority about him that is somehow ageless,
A meekness and knowledge that speak of a higher power,
An effortlessness in every word and movement as he unveils the scriptures.
I can see why he is attracting crowds…
My earlier thought returns. Is it just novelty, the age-old hope of the new Messiah attaching to any thing original and different? I feel within myself it is something far deeper and suddenly resent his preaching and teaching and healing. That’s our job, our duty. Even though we can’t heal. We’ve all rather left that to the older prophets, – that was their special role. So what’s this Jesus doing? I will find out for myself, invite him to my home, be seen with him.
It makes me feel uncomfortable, but I shan’t show or admit it!
Jesus has seen me approaching. I feel in that one glance he has dissected my very thoughts, yet he continues untroubled and confident.
No wonder my fellow Pharisees hate him! He’s more dangerous than I imagined!
He finishes his parable, leaving the crowd thoughtful, and turns to me, expecting and granting my request.
And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.
This wasn’t the plan! How did she get in! All the kudos of his presence ruined by this harlot! He must know what manner of woman it is who is touching him! He read my thoughts readily enough!
“Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee.”
He’s reading my thoughts again! His meekness against pharisaical pride! Love against my surprising hatred of his superiority. Everyone is listening. I must be careful. I bid him continue.
“There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed ﬁve hundred pence, and the other ﬁfty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?”
The question is too easy, but I phrase the answer with due caution. “I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most.” Where’s he going with all this. I am nervous… He looks at me and responds with calm assurance.
“Thou hast rightly judged”
He looks at the harlot, – how does he get away with that! And I feel a sinking premonition of his wisdom putting me to shame…
Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.
His rebuke is harsh and uncompromising. I cannot fault him. My disdain in sharp contrast to the genuine repentance of the harlot woman. Yet who is the real prostitute? Aren’t I selling my pharisaical robes for my own purpose, getting money for worn out creeds and empty blessings?
Aren’t I putting myself before God!!! All the time!! Jesus doesn’t care what I think about him. He knows what God knows, and that’s all that matters to him. What does God know about me? He turns again to the woman:
“Thy sins are forgiven.”
She looks at peace while I am in turmoil. I have heard of Jesus’ demand that we should repent. Dare I change the habits of a lifetime? I ask myself the desperate question, do I really want to! I am too comfortable, too well set. I am a Pharisee! Yet she is forgiven, she has repented, she has loved much.. Who do I love more, – myself or God? The first commandment rings through my consciousness, – how many times have I said it out loud in the synagogue and in the streets? If Jesus hadn’t come, I wouldn’t be having this battle. Do I hate him or love him? Am I prepared to put God first?
Jesus looks at me again. Despite his damning words there is love in his eyes, the promise of redemption. His love is constant.
The choice is mine.
©Ken Cooper July 2006
THE FALL OF JERICHO Joshua 6:1-20
In front of us was Jericho
This was a place we had to go:
Yet there it stood the walls four square
-the finest fortress anywhere.
We looked up at the awesome sight:
What chance was there against this might?
But Joshua he loudly cried:
“ Fear not, for God is on our side!
What we must do is kneel and pray;
God will then make clear the way.”
The message came, both clear and stark,
We had to march behind our Ark!
And seven priests must go before,
A-blowing trumpets. Nothing more!
So round the walls we went next day.
Just the once. We did obey.
The fortress stood as we marched round,
But our hearts blazed with this pure sound.
And as we circled hour on hour
We felt the touch of latent power.
Each step we took on earthen sod
Was made in prayer to mighty God.
Each step, left, right, we thanked the Lord,
We knew He’d given us His Word!
Encompassed by this holy thought
Our actions were divinely wrought.
Each step we took divinely trod,
From early morn we prayed to God.
Expectant in His holy name,
Each day, six days, we did the same.
The seventh day our hope was high,
Despite the fortress large ‘gainst sky.
Seven times we marched around,
The seven trumpets loud with sound;
And at the seventh, with no doubt,
Our people shouted a great shout.
The confidence was like a roar:
The walls fell flat! They were no more!
That Jericho once proud and tall
Defeated by the prayers of all.
We looked amazed at what we saw,-
The stones stretched flat upon the floor.
For we had won, yet not been harmed;
We’d had no cause to be alarmed!
The power of God once more revealed.
Our victory was always sealed.
And all those there that seventh day
Still feel His power when they pray:
There is no problem that won’t go.
We just remember Jericho.
©Ken Cooper October 2003
PETER’S FAITH Matthew 14:15-33
Heaving, rocking, no ordinary squall,
Forget the fishing, survival is all:
The wind is contrary, deep is the night,
When we see Jesus, – it gives us a fright!
We had left him alone upon the far shore:
This must be a spirit amidst the storm’s roar!
But he felt our fear as waves merged with sky,
Calmly said, “Be not afraid; it is I”
My thoughts were in turmoil, how could this be, –
Things impossible he’d do constantly.
The previous day five thousand were fed
And all he had were some fish and some bread.
Walking on water and standing on sea,-
It does make me question reality!
Dare I believe in my friend, in my Lord,
“If it really is you, give me the word”.
I feel the strength of his simple command
For he has said “Come” and I cannot be harmed.
I step out of the boat and onto the sea
Each step toward Jesus has strange buoyancy.
But winds and waves continue to scream.
What am I doing? Surely I dream?
I look down at my feet, deep water there,
I feel all alone. I feel sudden fear.
It seems like slow motion, as I start to sink,
I’d glimpsed something true, I’d been on the brink,
But this is no dream, am I going to drown?
“Lord save me!” I cry as I drop down and down.
He answers my need without need of time.
In the instant I call his arm around mine.
My friends stand amazed, they all want to shout.
But Jesus asks quietly “Why didst thou doubt?”
Jesus’ calm presence dissipates fears.
We enter the ship, and the storm disappears.
The power of God and dominion of man
Becomes even clearer, for with God we can!
I now claim the faith that mountains can move,
The mere mustard seed that thy works I prove,
For I will remember, undoubtedly,
When I saw the Christ, I walked on the sea.
©Ken Cooper September 2003