Tag Archives: Christ

My Lesson – A Poem

Over at dVerse Poets Pub today, Claudia has challenged us to write about anything we want, but we have to really look at it first. No clichés or hollow shadows of the thing allowed.

My Lesson

My BSF lesson was just some questions,
Bible passages to read—long passages
This is the life of Moses, Exodus and all that

Now it’s filled with my scribbles,
that half cursive, half printing jumble
that is my barely legible handwriting

Good thing no one else has to read it
It’s just for me, and to share with my
Saturday morning discussion group

But the real lesson is yet to come

I’m amazed every week, with each new lesson
that others don’t always have
the exact same answers as I do

We read the same passages yet
we glean different principles as
God’s Word speaks into each life, each heart

My lesson is that our Creator, omniscient
that He is, has a different lesson for me
than He has for you today, this week

Perhaps next week, or next year
I’ll be on the same lesson as you are now
or vice versa as our circumstances require

And that makes me rejoice
that my God truly knows
our daily needs and provides

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Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life, Poetry, Women

The Battle Within – A Poem

The challenge over at dVerse Poets Pub today is to write about war. As I was reading the prompt, a song came on my iPod (on shuffle) about the war between sinner and saint within each of us. And it just so happens that last night at my Bible Study Fellowship class we discussed the war between the Amalekites and the Israelites. So I decided to bring it all together and get to the root of war, which is pride.

The Battle Within

The great battle rages
throughout the ages
Pride brought war to the table
with Cain versus Able

Self became king
my right to my things
Love turned cold
as ego grew bold

Witness the Amalekites
against the Israelites
For the sake of arid land
in a desert of sand

But it’s the battle within
that rages against sin
This is where it all started
when we became hard hearted

Witness cruel ISIS
a great global crisis
We seek human solutions
to their persecution

The answer to war
lies in humility, not more
fighting with pride
unless we fight what’s inside

But the battle is won
if we look to the Son
At last peace will reign
when He comes again

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Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life, Poetry

To Publish – A List Poem

Today over at dVerse Poets Pub Meeting at the Bar, Tony Maude challenges us to write a list poem. As I read his article and poetry examples, I decided to write a list about the things I still need to do to self-publish my poetry book. I accomplished a lot this summer towards my goal of publishing by year end, but loose ends remain. I think a to do list on paper, instead of just in my head, will be helpful.

To Publish

Talk to reviewers
“How’s it going? When do you think you’ll be done?”

Consider suggested edits, proofread and edit

Decide on Bible verses to include and where
And divisions, do where do I include divisions?

Promote the book on Facebook, blog, Twitter

Final formatting, styles, font, so many decisions

Edit the preface and acknowledgements
Finish the front matter

Tell everyone I know I’m publishing a book of poetry

Encourage Benton to finish the cover art
Love the concept sketch; can’t want to see his final draft

Create a final PDF
Proof one more time to make sure it’s right

Upload PDF to CreateSpace
and upload cover art to design cover

Publish

Pray (wait, this probably should be first on the list)

Start on the next manuscript

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Obstacles – Hopefully Not a Bad Christian Poem

Last weekend I went to the Oregon Christian Writers fall one-day conference. It was a great conference filled with inspiring moments and lessons to learn. There were take-aways that will be incorporated into the poetry book I’m working on, but there was also a new poem I wrote.

One of the break-out sessions I went to was “How Not to Write a Christian Poem.” We talked about what makes a poem a “Christian poem.” My thought was that it must have an underlying Christian theme or worldview. Another comment was that it should glorify God—I liked that, too. We read a few poems and talked about whether we thought they were Christian. For some poems there was agreement, for others there wasn’t.

Of course, beauty and goodness are in the eye of the beholder, and I might like a poem you don’t, and vice versa. In the final analysis, though, we learned that a good Christian poem should:

  • not be overly laden with “Christianese”
  • not be trite or include over-used language
  • not be dull and boring
  • not be overly sentimental (I’m not sure how the presenter defined this)
  • be based on truth and the author’s experience

As part of the session, we each wrote a poem in the space of about 5 minutes. I thought I’d share mine just as I wrote it there. It needs some work to be a finished poem, but I liked the direction it went under the time pressure I was facing.

Obstacles

Obstacles appear
sickness and pain, busy-ness and loss
seemingly at random in my path
deterrents to my dream
The American dream of success and great gain

What is my dream?
A nightmare it seems has
overtaken me instead
Chaos in my world, in my mind

I thought I knew what was best
but Your detours have led me
to the real dream

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Swimming with the Fishes Fearlessly

A couple of weeks ago my husband and I took a vacation to Maui. It’s only our second time to Hawaii. The first time we went, I missed out on the snorkeling trip he and our son went on because I was afraid of the water. I missed out on cool tropical fish, octopus, spinner dolphins, and more. Simply because of fear.

It all started when I took swim lessons at the Collier Park pool in Ramona, California in the third grade. I was a skinny little thing back then, with not an ounce of fat on me and pitiful lung capacity due to living with smokers. The instructor told us to get into the 7′ end of the pool, push away from the side, and tread water. I followed his instructions—and a sunk like a rock. I frantically tread water at the bottom of the pool, looking up at the surface of the water where life-sustaining air was in abundance, terrified that I couldn’t get to the top, until someone jumped in and pulled me out.

Ever since then, if I ever got in a pool, lake, river, or even the ocean—and it has been seldom that I have—I always stay in the shallow end and my hair and glasses stay dry.

But as we planned our trip to Maui, I felt a strong desire to snorkel so that I could witness the beauty of God’s underwater creation. I knew it was going to take more courage than I have on my own to overcome a decades-long fear of water.

So I asked several groups of friends to pray specifically that I would be able to overcome my fear and snorkel. I prayed myself that God would give me courage to experience a successful and enjoyable snorkeling adventure.

God is good. He answered that prayer in ways I never imagined. In fact, I realized afterwards that He had begun answering my prayer 29 years ago when I met my husband, long before I even knew it would be my prayer. God knew I would need more than courage—I would need encouragement and someone to hold my hand through the experience.

I started in the hotel pool with rented snorkeling equipment, including prescription goggles so I could actually see. My husband was patience and encouraging as he sat relaxing in the lounge chair by the pool. Once I had mastered the ability to put my face in the water and breathe through the snorkel, we ventured out to Black Rock just down the beach from our hotel. As we first began to snorkel, my husband literally held my hand and we paddled around together looking at the fish. When I got water in my snorkel and became frustrated and wanted to quit for the day, he didn’t give me a hard time but was understanding.

Although it was a short snorkel that first day, we snorkeled three more times during the week. As long as I needed him to, my husband held my hand. Once when I felt a little panic, I recited one of my favorite versesPhilippians 4:6-7and God’s amazing peace did calm my heart. Eventually I was comfortable in the water and was able to snorkel on my own around Honolua Bay and Honokohua Bay. I even saw an octopus, a turtle, an eel, and a ton of colorful fish and coral.

Are you letting fear hold you back from something you would love to do? Are you missing out on life’s abundant blessings because you are paralyzed by fear and anxiety? Ask God to give you the courage—and whatever else He knows you need—to overcome that fear. He is faithful and He will answer, “for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7.

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Filed under Faith, Family, Jesus, Life

Words from Above – A Poem

The prompt at dVerse Poets Pub yesterday (and still there today) is to write a poem about our thoughts on the failure of language to capture our thoughts and feelings. I immediately thought about the challenge of writing a poem to a specific form, though the poem I penned isn’t to any set form but the one that came to me as I wrote.

If you want to read more poetry, head over the dVerse and check out what’s offered up in the Mr. Linky box.

Words from Above

Writing poetry to form
Struggling to make words conform
To meter and rhyme
A set scheme of repeating lines
Yet still sound sublime

It’s a challenge I love
Splendid words come from above
When self I dethrone
And don’t rely on my own
Desiring God be known

Still language falls short
His grandeur words distort
The best I can do
Is share what I know to be true
To touch a heart or two

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Darkness to Light – Take Two

The prompt over at dVerse Poets Pub today is to think of our words as seeds and to consider what we want to grow from what we write. I decided to share a revised version of a poem I wrote almost three years ago. I recently submitted the original version to a poetry contest, and although I did not make it into the final round I received some great feedback, so I decided to incorporate that feedback into this version.

What I hope will grow from these seeds are encouragement, hope, and faith for at least one person who is struggling today with the darkness of depression.

Darkness to Light—Take Two

Darkness surrounded me
Darkness invaded my mind
Darkness enveloped my barren soul

In the darkness
The evil one whispered
Thoughts that seemed my own
They’d be blessed without me
It would be better if I was dead

Tears drowned me
Tears flooded my mind
Tears drenched my barren soul

Through the tears
The evil one whispered
Thoughts I believed were true
I am broken beyond repair
These tears will never end

Pain ensnared me
Pain clouded my mind
Pain threatened my barren soul

Amplifying the pain
The evil one whispered
Thoughts I was powerless to deny
This pain will forever cripple me
I will never know joy

Then God’s Light
Pierced the darkness
Illuminating my soul
Revealing the sin in my mind
Proclaiming the way for me

Forgive Jesus whispered
As I’ve forgiven you
Your darkness will subside
His words are true

Then God’s Love
Dried all my tears
Infusing my soul with joy
Clarifying truth in my mind
Declaring healing for me

Live Jesus whispered
As I live in you
Your tears will be dried
His words are true

Then God’s Truth
Erased my pain
Protecting my soul
Clearing lies from my mind
Redeeming my life for me

Love Jesus whispered
As I forever love you
Your pain will be decried
His words are true

Darkness, tears, and pain
Replaced by my Savior’s
Light, Love, and Truth
Holding me forevermore
He is my Light

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God Is Always with Me

At the end of the book of Matthew, Jesus says to the disciples, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b (NIV). When He said this, He was talking not just to those disciples who were present, but to all who believe in Him even today. That includes me. He is always with me. He showed me that in a very concrete way this past week.

On Tuesday I had an appointment that I had been putting off for over a year. It may seem like a small thing to many of you, but to me it was huge. I was afraid to make and keep this appointment. But with God’s encouragement I finally did it.

I went to the dentist to have prep done for a crown. I know, people get crowns every day, but I have since childhood been extremely uncomfortable in the dentist’s chair. It stems from a childhood experience that I won’t go into because it’s not the point of this story. Suffice it to say that I have for as long as I can remember been tense and nervous when I have to go to the dentist, even for a cleaning.

There was no getting around the fact that I needed a crown. I have a hairline fracture in a tooth and I barely chew on that side because if I chew on anything even slightly hard it hurts. A year ago the new dentist I started seeing told me I needed to do this. He was nice about it and understanding about my fear, and he didn’t pressure me to put a crown or overlay on every molar in my mouth as a prior dentist had tried to do. I liked his manner enough that I finally felt like I’d found a dentist I could trust. (His name is Jack Henry in Lake Oswego, if you happen to be looking for a good dentist.)

After praying for God’s peace (see Philippians 4:6-7), I finally scheduled a cleaning one week and the crown prep the following week. Halfway through the cleaning appointment, I realized I was the most relaxed I had ever been in a dentist’s chair. This gave me hope that the crown prep wouldn’t be so bad.

Did I mention that I dislike Novocain intensely? It tends to cause my cheek and jaw to hurt for several days. So in spite of the good cleaning appointment, I was still feeling anxious as I looked ahead to the crown prep because I knew there would be Novocain and drilling involved.

But again, I prayed that God would give me peace and help me to not be afraid during this appointment.

I arrived on time and was escorted to the dentist’s chair. I asked if I could listen to music while they worked because I had brought my iPod and headphones. The dentist not only said I could but said it was a great idea. He likes to listen to music when he has dental work done, too, because he doesn’t like the sound of the grinder and drill. It was very reassuring to know that he understood that this procedure was not at all pleasant and that he was going to do whatever he could to make it better.

As he began to work, I shuffled my iPod on a MercyMe and Jeremy Camp playlist I had created in anticipation of Fish Fest that I am going to in August with some friends. And that’s when God so clearly reminded me that He is always with me. The first song that played was God with Us by MercyMe. I heard these beginning lyrics:

Who are we
That You would be mindful of us
What do You see
That’s worth looking our way

We are free
In ways that we never should be
Sweet release from the grip of these chains

I knew that He was mindful of this small thing in my life. I knew He had released me from the chains of fear that had kept me from making this appointment a year before. As that song ended, I felt the peace of knowing God was with me, but He wasn’t done reminding me. The next song to randomly play on shuffle was Here with Me, also by MercyMe, with lyrics that say:

And I can feel your presence here with me
Suddenly I’m lost within your beauty
Caught up in the wonder of your touch
Here in this moment I surrender to your love

You’re everywhere I go
I am not alone
You call me as your own
To know you and be known

Oh, that He would care so much for me; that He knows so well my anxiety and fear and also how to calm that fear. And then He reminded me of why I was feeling such peace in what would have otherwise been a tense and stressful situation. The next song to play was Every Time by Jeremy Camp. The chorus and one of the verses of this song say:

Every time I’m on my knees, pleading for Your strength
I will find You there, find you there
Every time I’m on my knees, reaching for Your strength
I will find You there, find You there

I’m holding on to this hope
I’ve been given, to be always with You
I’m seeing now
That this fullness of faith is, always seeking You

That very morning I had been on my knees pleading God for strength and peace to endure this appointment that my natural self dreaded. I held onto the hope that He would be with me, and He was faithful as always. Rather than be anxious about my appointment, I brought my concern to God, with thanksgiving, and His peace was my reward.

By the time this third song ended, Dr. Henry was done with the drilling and grinding. I was not tense and had not felt a thing. And to top it all off, the Novocain wore off much more quickly than I had expected and there were no lasting effects of pain in my cheek or jaw.

God is always with me, even at the dentist. What an awesome and wonderful God He is!

 

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Repent and Follow Jesus – A Poem

This poem is a found poem of sorts. It is based on the principles from my Bible Study Fellowship Teaching Leader’s lecture on Matthew 11–12. I rearranged the exact words of her four principles, but the concepts are what she shared regarding this passage of scripture.

Repent and Follow Jesus

Go straight to Jesus, trust His Word,
when facing doubt and frustration

Indifference to Christ’s revelation
brings only condemnation

To those called by God who humbly obey
in faith He brings peaceful elation

The proud who stubbornly reject Christ
will be excluded from His gift of salvation

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Finding Jesus in the Old Testament

Any serious study of the Bible includes some basics of Bible prophecy. There are, of course, the prophecies that Jesus:

For me, the connection between the Old Testament and the New Testament through the fulfillment of prophecy is sufficient proof of the Bible’s authenticity and Jesus’ authority as King and God. One of the things I love about God is how He frequently shows me new connections when I read His Word, in answer to a prayer I said many years ago (which you can read about here). Truly all of the Old Testament scriptures are about Jesus and His relationship to His people.

Last Monday I was in a Bible Study Fellowship seminar titled “Personal Quiet Time” given by our wonderful Substitute Teaching Leader Ginger. We learned a great method for reading God’s Word and listening for what He has to say to you in the passage you’ve read.

In the middle of this seminar, as we were each practicing a method of personal quiet time we had just learned, God revealed an Old Testament – New Testament connection to me in a most awesome way.

First of all, He worked ahead of time to make what He wanted to teach me possible for me to see. For some reason I went to the seminar without either my Bible or my phone (which has a Bible app on it). I left both in the room my group was to meet in after the seminar. As I entered the seminar I sat in the front row next to my friend and fellow Group Leader Gina. When it came time for us to open our Bibles to read the passage Ginger asked us to consider, Gina loaned me her study Bible and she used her iPad Bible app. If I’d had the Bible I bring to BSF (and had left in the room) what happened next would not have been possible because that Bible doesn’t have a concordance.

As part of this exercise, we read Mark 1:35-45, which begins, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” As I read this, I was reminded of another verse that I have long felt was a call to me to not sleep in so late but rather to get up early to spend quiet time with God, as Jesus did in the Luke passage. I knew the text of the verse, but not what chapter and verse it was. Using the concordance in Gina’s Bible I found that the verse was Isaiah 50:4, which says, “The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.” I was sure the Lord was trying to tell me that I had ignored His prompting to get up earlier long enough.

But then my eyes fell upon the next verses in the Isaiah passage that describe Jesus’ obedience and endurance in going to the cross, as well as His unwavering trust in His Father:

The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears;
I have not been rebellious,
I have not turned away.
I offered my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard;
I did not hide my face
from mocking and spitting.

Because the Sovereign Lord helps me,
I will not be disgraced.
Therefore have I set my face like flint,
and I know I will not be put to shame.
He who vindicates me is near.
Who then will bring charges against me?
Let us face each other!
Isaiah 50:5-8 (NIV).

Suddenly I knew that it wasn’t about what time I get up, but whether I desire to know Jesus more and spend time with Him in my otherwise busy day. I realized it was okay that I am not a very early riser even if Jesus was. He had to be to beat the crowds and have any time alone with His Father; I have other options. Then, to confirm what I had heard from Him, the Lord spoke again through Ginger. As we finished the exercise and discussed what we had learned from the passage, Ginger pointed out to the group, as an example of developing personal quiet time habits, that I had found a creative way to spend time with God, and that is by doing my BSF lessons while I eat my lunch at work.

What a blessing! I learned new prophetic connections and received wonderful encouragement, all because I made the time to arrive early for this one-hour seminar. And because God is good.

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Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life, Psalms