Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Voice of Poetry and God at Work

 April 10th Writers’ Block guest Bob Johnston (91 and counting), talked about his book of poetry,  At the Rim,  and retired minister John Murray read from his book, If We Only Knew, and talked about personal accounts of God at work.  Writers' Block streams live each Tuesday at 9 a.m. MST, at

Poetry and Getting to Know the Poet

Ninety-one and going strong.
Bob Johnston is a man who proves that age doesn’t get in the way of creativity. He started writing poetry when he was 60 and now, 31 years later, he has put together a collection of his work in At the Rim, Selected Poems. He was a lively guest, and in addition to reading from his book, he quickly recited a favorite poem he’d written some years ago.

The title poem evokes thoughts of a time gone by and stirs the imagination.

At the Rim

When you were here the summer fruit was ripe
And love could stay without a robe or tent.
The morning sun fell softly on our sleep,
A yellow wash for pleasures still undreamt.

But then you passed all boundaries of light
Into a darkness that you call your own.
The autumn leaves have faded while I wait
And winds are blowing cold against the sun.

Poet Joyce Ellen Davis says of At the Rim: “It offers this collection of wit, insight, and above all, a direct honesty that will be recognized as a rare poetic voice that touches, stirs, and ultimately satisfies.”

Valerie Martinez, educator and author, said, “Bob Johnston is a poet of incredible range, whether narrating the rural lands of ‘dry lightning,’ invoking Rambo in a sonnet, dreaming ‘drowned corpses’ in a lyric, or voicing the dark monologues of deadly sinners.”

Bob, a retired petroleum engineer and translator, said he waited until his sixtieth year to begin writing serious poetry. He took workshops, wrote and revised, took inspiration from the past and the now and created a collection of works that are at times amusing, arresting, and clearly intended to get a reaction. He said during the interview that through his work he hoped people would get to know him better.

You might not agree with or grasp the depth or intent to Bob’s work, but you cannot deny its impact.

At the Rim is available in Las Vegas, NM at Tome on the Range, and through online retailers.  Bob says he even has a few copies he’s willing to sell. The book is $14.95, published by Sunstone Press in Albuquerque. Bob is a member of the New Mexico Poetry Society.

Retired Minister Shares 
Real Life Stories of God at Work

If We Only Knew, Remarkable True Stories of God’s Intervention, by retired minister John Murray, is a wonderful book about the ways God is present with us in difficult times. John spoke with authority having seen miraculous healings within his own family.

The book is comprised of first-person accounts of events that were life-changing for those affected. The stories range from physical healing to surviving horrific circumstances, and is packed full of uplifting accounts of God working in the lives of people, sometimes in evident ways and sometimes through intermediaries. If We Only Knew is peppered with scripture and each chapter is further explored through the questions at the end.

In each chapter examples that demonstrate answers to those questions give insight into the spiritual nature that exists in all of us when we open ourselves to hearing the voice of God and our eyes to seeing the hand of God moving in circumstances beyond our understanding. 

Chapter Titles:
  • Does God Care?
  • Does God Answer Prayer?
  • Does God Heal?
  • Does God Guide?
  • Does God Provide?
  • Does God Protect?
  • Does God Comfort?
  • Does God Intervene?
John said faith sustains the believer. Even when others doubt the validity of faith, the fact that believers have a foundation based on trust keeps them steady. He talked about a perception that in certain areas miracles happen all the time.

“I asked the pastor’s wife in Budapest this question, he writes, 'Why is it that you see miracles here in Eastern Europe and we rarely do in the West?' Her response was immediate but quite natural and humble. She replied, 'I don’t know why you don’t see them. We just do as much as we can and we leave the rest to God!' What a simple, yet profound, answer. They simply expect God to pick up where they leave off, and He does."

I very much enjoyed reading this book. It has a basis is scripture, opens the reader up to lives changed by God and provides a guide for reflection.

If We Only Knew, Remarkable True Stories of God's Intervention is available by order at Tome on the Range, directly from John Murray's website at, and at online retailers.

John Murray (from his website) grew up in the United Kingdom. He studied theology in Birmingham, England and in Toronto, Canada. His life experience has been in business, in pastoral ministry, in Christian journalism and for the last twenty years before retirement he was the Executive Director of Eurovangelism Canada. The main office for the Eurovangelism ministry is in Bristol, England and they have worked in Eastern Europe for over forty-five years.  A number of the stories found in  If we only knew… are from the years John travelled into Russia and Eastern Europe on behalf of Eurovangelism.


Tune in next week when guests on Writers’ Block will be Luke Benoit, author of All storms Pass (the anti-meditations), and Tracie McMillian, author of The American Way of Eating. Both of these guests have topics that stimulate thought and conversation. Tune in at 9 a.m., MST KFUN/KLVF, streaming live at

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