Tag Archives: Word of God

The End – A Poem of Hope

What will you hear
When His coming is near
Rumors of war
Earthquakes galore
Widespread famine
Love of mammon

Don’t be alarmed
Your future is charmed
By the gift of life
That overcomes strife
Peace will transcend
When He comes in the end

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The Vineyard – A Poem

If my heart is the Lord’s vineyard
the fruit belongs to Him alone

If vines are to grow and flourish
first He clears out the weeds and stones

If fruit is to blossom and thrive
first the rain falls and sunshine shone

If I’m to produce His top crop
I must cling to the truth He’s shown

My heart is the Lord God’s vineyard
the fruit I set before His throne

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The Widow’s Offering – A Pantoum

This poem was inspired by the story of the widow’s offering recorded in Mark 12:41-44. I wrote it for an Advent devotional that my church is putting together. Each daily reading from the devotional will be offered for all to read on the church website at www.cofaith.net beginning on December 1.

The Widow’s Offering

You gave all You had to give, You gave me Your life
Like the widow’s offering to the treasury
Through Your great poverty, with love my soul is rife
Blessed by the abundant life, my sin You bury

Like the widows offering to the treasury
I am called to give what truly belongs to You
Blessed by the abundant life, my sin You bury
Now I embrace through You this life that is brand new

I am called to give what truly belongs to You
Without worry that it’s all I have left to give
Now I embrace through You this life that is brand new
And as You forgave me today I will forgive

Without worry that it’s all I have left to give
Even if lowly as the widow I may be
And as You forgave me today I will forgive
Praying others will see You when they look at me

Even if lowly as the widow I may be
Through Your great poverty, with love my soul is rife
Praying others will see You when they look at me
You gave all You had to give, You gave me Your life

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Something New

Note: As you read this post, you might ask yourself why I am telling you so much about my hair dyeing experiences. Trust me, there’s a purpose and a lesson to follow my seemingly rambling story.

In early July I decided to color my hair with a box of auburn hair dye that had been in my hall closet for about five years. We were on vacation for two weeks but didn’t go anywhere and I was starting to go stir crazy so it seemed like a good thing to do. The dye was more like a bit of highlighting, only slightly changing the color of my hair. A few people noticed but not too many. Within six weeks the color had faded significantly because it was the kind that washes out in 24 shampoos.

Then over Labor Day weekend I decided I wanted to do it again because I liked the slight red hint to my hair color, so I went to the store to get a box of the same dye. Unfortunately, that brand and color were no longer available (it having been five years or more since I bought it). So I selected another shade of red in another brand, though still the non-permanent kind that is supposed to wash out, this time after 28 shampoos. I took it home and dyed my hair the Sunday before Labor Day.

The color change was much more dramatic this time. I really wasn’t sure I liked it at first and was reluctant to go out in public as a redhead. Even my color blind husband could tell it was a very different color when he returned home from a backpacking trip at the end of that week. Many people have noticed and commented on my new hair color, and a number of them have taken to calling me Red. Even now, several weeks and many shampoos after dyeing it, my hair is still strikingly red. Today at church I had someone I barely know come up to me for the express purpose of telling me she really liked my hair color. Because the many comments I’ve gotten have all been positive, the new color is starting to grow on me and I think I will probably re-dye it when it fades.

On my way home from church I was thinking about how many more comments I’ve gotten with this dramatic hair color change then I did when I just highlighted my hair. It occurred to me that these experiences are a great analogy for the Christian life.

Scripture tells us that faith in Christ will change us. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV). But sometimes we are afraid of a bold new creation that God has called us to be. Instead, we allow little highlights of the new to show through. The change in us is subtle and noticed by only a few, just like my first experience of dyeing my hair with a subtle red highlight.

But if we allow Christ to truly change us and boldly allow His light to shine through, others will notice, even many people we don’t know well. People may even comment on the change. As Christians, as we see this new creation in others, we should comment on this change and provide them with encouragement. Just as receiving positive comments about my new hair color has made me feel much more comfortable with this change, the new Christian will feel much more comfortable with the changes Christ makes in them if they receive positive encouragement.

The apostle Paul taught us to encourage one another when he wrote, “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong—that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” Romans 1:11-12 (NIV). Let us, then, mutually encourage one another to let the Light of Christ shine so that others may see the change He has made in our lives. Let us share the great peace and love He has placed in our hearts. Let us never be ashamed of the new creation that we are in Christ, even when the world scoffs at our faith. Just as I have come to appreciate the nickname Red, let us appreciate and rejoice in the name Christian, followers of Christ, His new creation.

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Why He Came – A Poem

He healed the sick,
the lame, the leper
But that’s not
why He came

He gave the blind sight
and drove out demons
But that’s not
why He came

He fed the 5,000
plus women and children
But that’s not
why He came

He taught the masses,
and His twelve disciples
But that’s not
why He came

He raised the dead,
one four days in the grave
But that’s not
why He came

He turned water to wine
He calmed a storm and walked on water
He drove out the money changers
He was baptized by His cousin
He performed many miracles
which John says weren’t recorded

But none of these things
are why He came

He was born
for one sole purpose
To die the death I deserve
To die for my sins and yours
To die so we could be forgiven
To die so every lost straying lamb
could be brought back into the fold

He came to die

 

I’ll be sharing this one over at dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night today.

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The Beginning and the End – A Poem

I have seen the beginning
for I have known the Son
The all-creative King of kings
whose redemptive work is done

I’ve not yet seen the end
but I know the One who’s there
On His promise I will depend
assurance that I am His heir

The fullness of God does dwell
within Jesus, the Chosen One
Of grace His Word does tell
from beginning to end He’s won

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:15-20 (NIV).

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Where’s Your Focus?

Today is the last day of a 3 ½ day conference I’m attending in Florida for work. It’s been a great conference for the most part. I saw some good friends who I only see once or twice a year. I gleaned some tips and ideas that I will be able to implement back at the office to increase revenue and make my staff and me more productive and efficient. And I got to spend some time in the warm, sunny Florida weather, which has been a nice break from cold, rainy Oregon.

On that last note, I should have enjoyed just a bit more of that sun this afternoon instead of attending the final plenary session, but the topic looked interesting so I went. The topic was emotional intelligence. I thought I would come away with at least one or two tips on how to better deal with others, maybe something that would help in my role as a manager and program director. Alas, that was not to be.

This far too touchy-feely session was all quite odd. The “speaker” started by having us meditate for 7 minutes, during which time we were supposed to visualize ourselves next to a lake. Then he had us doing exercises to illustrate how we experience stress because of the fight or flight response of the amygdala of the brain because of the 99.9% of the human existence that involved running from tigers, followed by an exercise in which we were supposed to look into the eyes of another person for 2 minutes — twice — and I’m still not sure why.

In general, the “solution” to stress that he seemed to be offering — though he never came right out and said this — was to focus inwardly on our real self. He also suggested that we need to recognize the way things truly are.

I generally am not a very stressed-out person. Things don’t rile me up too easily and I don’t worry about all the things on my to-do list. I take one day at a time and one task at a time, and if no one is going to die as a result of my doing or not doing something, I don’t let it stress me. My solution to the problem of stress has been this:

  • I spend at least 15 minutes in prayer every morning, not focusing on me but on Jesus.
  • I concern myself more with the needs of those around me than with myself.
  • When I catch myself being “me” focused, I stop and ask God to refocus my thoughts onto Him.

I do agree with the second solution that this speaker suggested — that we recognize the way things truly are. And the way things truly are is that God is in control of the big picture, no matter what the little picture in front of me might suggest.

I thought of Peter who was able to walk on water, until he took his focus off Jesus. As long as we focus on the source of our strength, power, and peace, we will not sink into a sea of stress and worry.

I also thought of Daniel who was able to spend the night in the lions’ den without a scratch because he trusted in God to protect him. As long as we trust in the One who cares for us, we will have no need to engage in fight or flight behavior in the face of lions.

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:31-34 (NIV).

So where is your focus today? If you are feeling stressed and anxious, don’t look within for strength and peace. Focus on Jesus who is the Prince of Peace and cares for you like no other.

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What I Believe Doesn’t Matter

Anyone who reads my blog knows what I believe about God and salvation. You really only need to read my Apostles’ Creed page to get a nutshell version. But what I believe doesn’t really matter because it doesn’t change what is true.

God did not create the earth and all life on it because I believe that He did. By the same token, life did not spontaneously begin without the help of God because atheists believe that it did.

There are certain truths in this life that are determined solely by what I believe or what someone else believes. For example, I believe that I do not like mushrooms. In fact, I hate them. They taste like dirt and the smell of them cooking makes me nauseous. Other people love mushrooms; some of these people have tried to convince me that they are good, and I don’t argue with the truth that they like them, but their belief that mushrooms are good does not change the fact that I hate them.

Opinions about favorite colors, whether movies are good or bad, whether it is better to live in the country or the city, and a host of other things are dependent on what each person believes. The truth of a particular opinion is subjective.

There are other truths, however, that are not determined by what I or someone else believe. These truths are objective in nature. Truths that fall into this category include:

  • Whether there is a God.
  • Whether life was created by a God or spontaneously occurred billions of years ago.
  • Whether, if God exists, He is loving and compassionate, vengeful and hateful, or indifferent and disconnected from His creation.
  • Whether human beings cease to exist when they die or enter into the realm of heaven or hell.

What I believe about any of these things doesn’t change the truth, but it can change me. What you believe doesn’t change the truth, but it can change you.

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Before the Throne – A Poem

This morning as I was listening to music on my iPod the song Trust in Jesus came on and I started to think about standing before God’s judgment throne. Paul confirmed what is written all throughout the Old Testament, that everyone, even Christians, will face God’s judgment.

For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.
It is written:

“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will confess to God.’”

So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.
Romans 14:11-12 (NIV).

It occurred to me that as much as I appreciate what Jesus has done for me now, it will only be as I face the judgment throne of God that I will be able to fully appreciate the magnitude of His grace. Just as Solomon did, “I thought in my heart, ‘God will bring to judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time for every deed.’” Ecclesiastes 3:17 (NIV). Perhaps it is to fulfill His promise to bring us great joy and blessing that God will reveal, at the end of our days, how much He truly loves us. Only by revealing our great need for His redemption can He make us understand.

Before the Throne

I stand before the throne of God
He opens His book to my list of sins
His messenger begins to read
my transgressions, one by one

In my mind I begin to prepare
my defense, my justification for each sin
I think I am ready to answer
to show that I deserve mercy

The list goes on and on and on
Will it ever end?
My justifications begin to fade
My heart grows weak with shame

How can I stand before His throne
the judgment throne of the Almighty
I tremble in fear of His wrath, His righteous judgment
I know it will destroy me, I cannot stand

I fall to my knees before His throne

I bow my head knowing His judgment is true
Realizing I have no defense
I have broken every commandment, every law
without a single justification

Suddenly before the throne
between me and God’s final judgment
Stands the One who came to save me
His mercy and grace pour over me

I remember with great joy
that while I was yet a sinner
He loved me, He redeemed my soul
I trusted in Him and He is faithful to forgive

Before the throne of judgment and grace
I lift my voice in praise and adoration
Finally understanding completely
What His great love has accomplished

1/8/13: Shared this for Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub today.

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It Is Finished Even as It Begins

A new year begins today. It’s another year to live and work and play, and to make resolutions to be better than last year. It’s another year in which many will again strive to earn God’s grace and their own salvation by singing in the choir, volunteering for the altar guild, giving to the poor, attending church or mass each week, or any number of other good deeds.

But why do we work so hard to add to what Jesus has already done? Why do we try to earn what has been given as a gift from God? On Calvary Hill Jesus said, “It is finished.” John 19:30. Paul wrote that Jesus said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you.” 2 Corinthians 12:9. There is nothing more that we can or need to do for our salvation.

Even the act of believing in Jesus, the ability to have faith in His saving grace, is a gift from God: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV).

So as you begin 2013, rest in the grace of Jesus assured of His mercy and your salvation.

Go forth and sing in the choir out of gratitude for what He has done, but do not fret if you miss a practice or are unable to sing for a Sunday service.

Help out with the altar guild to share the blessing of God’s grace with others, but do not allow yourself to grow weary with the work.

Give to the poor out of thankfulness for the bounty God has bestowed on you, but do not give out of mere obligation and with resentment.

Attend church or mass because you desire to fellowship with God and other believers, and to worship the Lord in community, but not because you think you will lose points with God if you do not.

Perform good deeds as the Spirit leads, in the power of Jesus, so that God might be glorified, but don’t be deceived into thinking such deeds are necessary for your salvation.

For centuries Satan has tried to strip the children of God of the peace of knowing His love and grace. The Accuser engenders fear and doubt in the minds of believers, trying to deceive us into believing that God hates us and requires us to pay for our own sins and earn our own salvation.

But God’s Word is clear on this point: It is finished. The atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the embodiment of God’s love and mercy; His grace is sufficient to cover every sin and grant us eternal life with Him. Nothing Satan says or does can change this truth.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8.

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