Tag Archives: Sacrifice

My Beautiful – A Ghazal

The Form for All lesson over at dVerse Poets Pub today is on the ghazal and Samuel Peralta’s ghazal sonnet. I immediately found it to be a very interesting poetry form and decided to try writing one. Mine is not a sonnet because it is more than 14 lines, and I didn’t pay any attention to meter. The refrain I settled on is “my Beautiful,” which refers both to the fact that Jesus is my Beautiful Savior and that I am His Beautiful child (since my first name is Spanish for beautiful).

My Beautiful

In my lost and wandering youth
my soul did flee my Beautiful

During numberless crazy times
I saw only me, my Beautiful

In the darkness of past days
I could nary see my Beautiful

Take this cup of grief from me
I echo Your adamant plea, my Beautiful

With joy I did learn of Your sacrifice
on the cursed tree, my Beautiful

I knew in my heart of hearts
Your grace is the key, my Beautiful

Alive and found by My love
Your soul set free my Beautiful

My greatest desire for all my days
is to glorify thee, my Beautiful

In Your strong and lovely voice
You call me Linda Lee, my Beautiful

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Thank Offering – A Triolet

Yesterday I was trying to decide what to write for my Thankful Thursday poem and couldn’t seem to think of anything. It’s not that I’m not thankful – on the contrary, I’m feeling quite thankful about many things. The Lord has blessed me in so many ways. Then I thought of just writing a triolet of praise to God.

Thank Offering

A thank offering of praise to our Lord
Rises from the lips of His beloved
I am His beloved, you are His love
A thank offering of praise to our Lord

Holy Spirit soaring high as a dove
Lifted up on praises offered above
A thank offering of praise to our Lord
Rises from the lips of His beloved

Then Hezekiah said, “You have now dedicated yourselves to the LORD. Come and bring sacrifices and thank offerings to the temple of the LORD.” So the assembly brought sacrifices and thank offerings, and all whose hearts were willing brought burnt offerings. 2 Chronicles 29:31 (NIV).

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The Cup – A Poem

The other day I started reading a book called Radical by David Platt. My pastor recommended it and so far I love it, though it is challenging me. Perhaps that is why I like it. When I’m done with it I will post a book review, but for today I am posting a poem that was inspired by one of the earlier chapters in the book.

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:36-39 (NIV).

As you read the poem, it may seem odd that I’ve posted on such an agonizing subject on Thankful Thursday. But when you get to the end you will see what I am thankful for today.

The Cup

The cup of
the Father’s wrath
poured out on You
as on the cross You hung,
though the one who
deserved it was me

The cup
You did dread
with drops of sweat
You prayed and bled
in anguish in the garden
of Gethsemane

Not only the wrath
for my own sin
but the sin of
the whole world,
of every sinner
who ever lived

I could never bear
my own portion
of the Father’s wrath.
You bore it all
and I will be
eternally grateful

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Fat Tuesday – A Poem

On my way to work this morning I was thinking about the fact that it is Mardi Gras today, and this poem started forming in my mind. I decided I had to get it out before it was gone. Besides, I needed a new poem to link to dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night later today.

Fat Tuesday

Mardi Gras
We call it Fat Tuesday
It’s the day we eat,
drink and be merry
for tomorrow we shall die
or maybe only diet

We sacrifice the things we love
→chocolate
→sweets
→coffee
→bread
→maybe our favorite TV shows

We attempt by our sacrifice
to understand
the passion of Christ, His suffering,
His sacrifice for us

He really did die,
not just diet

For 40 days we sacrifice
as if we were wandering
in the wilderness, hungry and tired
But each night we sleep in our own
warm, cozy beds
with our stomachs full
even if not with our favorite treats

Can we ever truly understand?
Perhaps not
For today, let’s just eat

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They Held Their Heads High

Today is Memorial Day in the United States. It is the day we remember those who so loved their country and their fellow Americans that they were willing to lay down their lives to protect them.

When I was a kid, to me Memorial Day mostly meant I got a three-day weekend for my birthday and that meant we would go camping. I didn’t really understand what this day was all about. I didn’t understand sacrifice. It wasn’t until I came to know Jesus that I understood the concept of sacrificing one’s life for others. Jesus said to His disciples:

This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. John 15:12-14 (NLT).

When Jesus died on the cross, when He willingly laid His life down for all of us, He held His head high. Even though He was abandoned by all His disciples and all of His creation rejected Him in that moment, His love for us held firm. He suffered for each and every one of us so that we could be free of the evil power of the devil to bring us down, to keep us in chains.

In the same way, our military men and women willingly lay down their lives to protect our freedom to live and worship from the evil who would take it from us. In foxholes and POW camps, they have held their heads high, knowing their lives were a sacrifice for our freedoms. This song is in honor and memory of all those who were beaten up and dragged down, who lost their lives, defending our country, and who held their heads high through it all. May their souls rest in Jesus, the One who modeled such selfless sacrifice.

“I Will Hold My Head High” by Third Day.

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The Last Supper – A Poem

Today is Maundy Thursday, the celebration of the last Passover meal that Jesus shared with His disciples before His arrest, trial, and crucifixion. Not all Christian denominations hold services on this Holy day, but I am so glad that the Lutheran church I attend does. The Maundy Thursday service is one of my favorite services of the whole year, topped only by Easter and Christmas Eve services. I also appreciate the Good Friday service, but it is much more somber.

The last supper is when Jesus instituted the sacrament of communion, the breaking of bread — His body broken for us — and the sharing of wine — His blood shed for us — all for the forgiveness of our sins. During this last Passover meal, Jesus replaced the old covenant, which required continual animal sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins, with the new covenant of His own sacrifice as the Lamb of God, which is sufficient for the forgiveness of all sin for those who repent and believe.

The Last Supper

The hour was late
His time was near
Emmanuel would be a sacrifice dear

Lamb for the Passover
All the disciples partake
Soon a new covenant
The Savior would make

Setting the table in the
Upper room for the feast
Prepared in advance His last
Passover meal; He broke bread without yeast
E‘er you eat the bread and drink the wine
Remember Him, who for you became least

     And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
     In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”
Luke 22:19-20 (NIV).

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The Beginning and End of Discipline

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, which is a period of 40 days (not counting Sundays) until Easter. Traditionally, Christians (as least in the liturgical denominations) have given up something for Lent in order to participate in and better understand the sacrifice of our Lord. In addition, the sacrifice is supposed to bring one closer to God as He becomes that which fills the need or desire otherwise fulfilled by the thing given up. Some people give up chocolate, or desserts of any kind. Others give up watching TV or eating meat. There is an endless variety of things that one can give up, or sacrifice, during the Lenten season.

Last year for Lent, I decided that instead of giving something up for Lent, I was going to commit to doing something, and I blogged about it on Feb. 19. I fulfilled my committment to blog something positive every day for Lent. That was the beginning of a discipline of writing that has now developed into daily posting. And it all began with one short post and a committment to praise Jesus for His love and sacrifice for 40 days.

Colie and Wordstrong Poster

This year, my local congregation is doing something similar for Lent. We are participating in a program called Wordstrong. It involves each member of the congregation committing to reading God’s Word every day throughout Lent. Last Sunday we received our reading schedules for Lent, and we have arranged prayer partners to pray for discipline for the rest of the congregation throughout this time. Those who chose to participate signed a poster pledging their committment.

I am excited to see where this Lenten discipline takes us as a congregation. If what happened with my committment to blog every day is any indication, we should be a congregation for whom this Lenten program is just the beginning of a discipline of being in God’s Word on a daily basis. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

So if committing to doing something every day for Lent is the beginning of discipline, what is the end of discipline? It is to develop a closer relationship with God. The discipline of reading the Bible every day will draw the believer closer to God, so that they may hear when He speaks to them. It is much easier to discern God’s will if one knows God’s Word.

The true end of discipline is a relationship with God that results in an abundance of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

So what do you plan to do, if anything, for Lent? Have you ever done something for Lent in the past, and if so, what was the result? Did it bring you closer to God? I’d love to hear about it in the comments! Whatever you decide, I pray you will draw closer to our Lord as we approach the celebration of His death and resurrection.

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The Greatest Sacrifice, the Ultimate Gift

Today is Memorial Day in the U.S., the day we remember and honor the many men and women in the military who have served our country to secure the freedom we enjoy. Some of those men and women have sacrificed a great deal in their duty to this great country, including family time, loss of limb, and even loss of life. Their sacrifice is a great gift to all Americans. It is a gift worth treasuring and sharing.

There is One who has made the greatest sacrifice and provided to us the ultimate gift. Often a song will inspire me to think more deeply about God’s love for us and the incredible sacrifice Jesus made for us. One such song is “My Savior My God” by Aaron Shust. The first three verses are:

I am not skilled to understand
What God has willed, what God has planned
I only know at His right hand
Stands one who is my Savior

I take Him at His word and deed
Christ died to save me, this I read
And in my heart I find a need
Of Him to be my savior

That He would leave His place on high
And come for sinful man to die
You count it strange, so once did I
Before I knew my Savior

It is amazing and awe-inspiring to me that Jesus would give up His place at the right hand of God — even for a moment — to rescue me. And He gave up and endured so much more that He did not have to, but that He chose to because He loves me and you. It’s tempting to think how easy it was for Him because He always knew how it would all end and that He would return to the right hand of the Father when His mission was over. But if we think it was so easy for Him just because He was God incarnate we miss an important lesson or message of the Gospel: this was the hardest thing for God to do, this was the supreme Divine effort.

Being separated from His Father while He was on the cross after having been in communion with God constantly since before time began was the hardest thing Jesus ever did. The temptations of the devil in the wilderness were nothing compared to the temptation He must have felt to reject this whole plan of redemption before it even began with His earthly birth. Don’t we all know the temptation to say, “I’m just not going to go,” when a trip is one we know will be difficult? We know that in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus wanted the Father to take His cup of suffering away — He was tempted to give up on the plan — but He resisted that temptation and gave in to the will of the Father. He went through with the plan even though it was hard. Matthew 26:36-46.

The plan was also not easy for the Father who had to turn His back on Jesus when He hung on the cross. But like the shepherd who leaves the flock to rescue one stray lamb, God, for what must have seemed like an eternity to one who knows no time, left His one and only Son, the Lamb of God, to rescue the flock that had strayed.

The Godhead was split, separated, just long enough to allow us into His fellowship, to return us to the flock. I don’t completely understand this plan. But as St. John Chrysostom once said, “A comprehended god is no god.” I do know that this awesome gift of salvation came at a very high price and is a gift worth treasuring and sharing.

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I’m the Branch, Not the Vine

I was listening to Jeremy Camp this morning and the song “This Man” came on. The song is about the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, and the chorus asks the question:

Would you take the place of this man
Would you take the nails from his hands
Would you take the place of this man
Would you take the nails from his hands

I suspect most, if not all, of us would answer “no” to that question. None of us wants to endure the pain, torture, ridicule, and death that Jesus endured for us. In Romans 5:7, Paul writes, “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.” Possibly, but not the kind of death Jesus suffered. We just are not that selfless, even if we want to be.

Whenever this song plays while my 15-year-old son is around, he can’t help but answer the question out loud. “No!” That is always his answer. But I am amazed at his reasoning and the understanding that it reveals. His stated reason is not because he is afraid to die as Jesus did (though he might be if he thought about it). The reason he gives for not wanting to take the place of “This Man” is that it would do no good.

He is absolutely correct. The death of no one but Jesus could result in the blessing of salvation that we reap from His sacrifice. The sacrifice of even a good kid like my son, or even a saint like Mother Theresa, would not provide the blessing of salvation. Only the blood of the sinless Lamb of God could do that.

We cannot take the place of God. Many have tried or desired to. Humans (and angels) have from time immemorial desired to take the place of God. That is what got Satan kicked out of Heaven. It is what lead to the deception of Eve in the Garden of Eden – she and Adam ate the forbidden fruit so they could be like God. Inventors, writers, artists, and actors often want to be immortalized and remembered forever as if they were God.

But we cannot do what God does. We can do great things through the strength, wisdom, and power God gives to His people, but alone we can do very little. We certainly cannot create the universe or save the souls of the world. We cannot bear fruit. As Jesus told His disciples, “a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.” John 15:4. Let us remain in the vine, not try to take its place.

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Blessing First, Then Obey

We had a guest speaker in church on Sunday, and I really enjoyed his message. He spoke of the Gospel and how it is unique among the world religions. He noted that every other world religion is about “do this (obey), and then receive the blessing of God or the gods.” The Gospel, on the other hand, is about “receive this blessing from God (the gift of His Son’s sacrifice on the cross), and then you will want to do this (obey).”

He used a great illustration to demonstrate our situation and God’s response. He talked about his nephew, who is about 3, going out into a Portland “snow storm” at Christmas time to make a snow angel. The problem was that generally a Portland snow storm creates more mud than it does snow, and the little boy quickly was covered in mud. He tried to wipe the mud off, but his hands were unclean and so he ended up just smearing the mud all over. So what did he do? He began to cry and call for his dad.

Enter the dad, clean as can be and with towels for cleaning the little boy. Because he was himself clean and had the right tools for the job, he was able to get the poor boy cleaned up.

We are like the little boy. We are filled with sin, but are unable with our unclean hands to clean ourselves up. Hard as we try, we just make more of a mess. Other religions and self-help books offer as their only advice that one should work harder and pull oneself up by one’s bootstraps, to wash oneself clean. Then we will receive the blessings.

But when we cry out and call to our Father in Heaven, He comes in the person of His Son Jesus and washes us clean. When we are not able to cleanse ourselves (which is always, no matter how hard we try), God cleanses us from our sin and restores us.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8.

Many mainstream Christian churches today are losing sight of this important truth. In an effort to be politically correct and all-inclusive, some churches have begun to teach that it is not necessary to know Jesus Christ as your Savior. So as not to offend anyone, some churches teach that Christ died for all people, even those who don’t believe. This teaching assumes that all religions are the same and lead to the same God.

But all religions are not the same. Humans have freewill and a right to choose what to believe, but that doesn’t mean all belief systems lead to the same place or the same God. A religion that requires one to follow all the rules in order to receive a blessing does not reveal the character of the God of Christianity. Our God blesses us because He loves us, not because we earn His blessing. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10.

Jesus warned His disciples, “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them.” Luke 21:8. You have freewill, and can believe what you choose, but be careful that you are not deceived.

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