Tag Archives: Gospel

Stop Throwing Stones

If you spend any time on social media and have conservative Christian friends or follow conservative Christian feeds, then no doubt you have seen numerous posts lately decrying the murder of innocent babies. Especially with the anniversary of Roe v. Wade and the release of undercover videos of meetings with Planned Parenthood officials, it’s impossible to avoid these posts. I will admit that I’ve shared or liked a few myself, though I am always careful that the right message is coming across in the post when I do.

I see a huge problem with the way the pro-life position is presented in social media. If not done carefully and gracefully, it amounts to throwing stones at hundreds of thousands of women who have had abortions and lived to regret that choice. We know what we did was wrong and have lived with the shame of our choice—some of us for decades. We can’t undo what we did and your insensitive posting of “Abortion is murder” messages only causes us more shame and guilt, delaying the healing for many. Even those of us who know God has forgiven and redeemed us can be hurt by these posts.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am a conservative Christian myself, in the sense that I believe the Bible to be the Word of God and that it contains the whole truth about God and how His people should live. I am also pro-life, though I was not always. But on the abortion issue my heart is more concerned with the women who were lied to or were in a situation where having an abortion seemed like the only possible choice, and are now suffering from depression, suicidal tendencies, or PTSD, or who are just living a life of fear that someone might learn their secret.

One social media post I saw recently that illustrates the type of insensitivity I’m talking about is this cartoon:

birthday

Frankly, I don’t believe this is the scene in Heaven. Why would a baby in Heaven wish to be on earth? Why would a baby in Heaven “wish” anything? Wishing is for those without faith. People who know God pray, not wish. And these babies know God—they rest in His tender care.

I believe all of the babies who died as the result of an abortion are instead kneeling before the throne of Christ interceding for their mothers. I believe they are asking God to have mercy and praying that the Church would show them grace. I believe they are asking God to remind the Church of His words: “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7). I believe our children want those of us who killed them—either because we didn’t know what we were doing or because we were between a rock and a hard place and couldn’t see any other option—to hear Jesus say: “Then neither do I condemn you. . . Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:11).

The Church—meaning the people of God and each individual one of us—has to stop throwing stones at women who have had an abortion. We have to choose instead to show them grace and mercy, to help them heal in Christ. I say this as one who needs that grace and mercy every single day just to survive.

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The Allure of Alliteration

Driving to Seattle yesterday to go to a play with my sister, niece, and cousins, this poem started playing in my head, but I only came up with the first line and a few other words and concepts. The allure of alliteration led me to finish it up this afternoon.

Savior

Savior so sweet
suffering sacrifice
so steadfast seeker
shall savor salvation

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The Gospel Misunderstood

Today is going to be Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub (I think). At any rate, I wrote this for Open Link Night. It was inspired by several conversations I’ve had lately—some in real life and some online. So often the Gospel is misunderstood by Christians and non-Christians, and that makes me quite sad, because it is the best news I have ever heard.

The Gospel Misunderstood

Humans have selfishly gone their own way
I know ‘cuz for so long I did the same
Living my life by my greedy desires
I refused my need to call on His name

The Gospel is the Good News of mercy
Undeserved but offered freely to all
There’s no longer any need for penance
Only our repentance after the fall

Fear of punishment turns many away
Knowing deep down that their heart’s filled with sin
They think God judgmental and nothing more
By His sacrifice He welcomes all in

There’s no condemnation for me in Christ
He paid the penalty that I once owed
Although I endured the consequences
Redemption and friendship to me He showed

If you have rejected a vengeful God
Look closer and you’ll find amazing grace
Daily relationship with Him, who’s love
Will never leave when you seek His sweet face

Please don’t misunderstand the Gospel news
Clinging to sin that will be your ruin
Believing judgment all that God offers
When truly His love and grace He’s proven

Turn from a life that’s empty and broken
Turn, as I have, toward our God of love
Seek the peace that comes only through Jesus
The way, the truth, and the life from above

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I Was a Seed

Brian Ens is running the show at dVerse Poets Pub today and is asking us to write a poem in any form. The catch? We have to explain why we chose the form that we did.

I decided to write a Rondeau. I selected this form because it is a bit irregular in that each stanza has a different number of lines, it includes an element of repetition (which I like to do anyway in my poetry), and the iambic tetrameter requirement fit the first line I wanted to write. This poem was inspired by a Facebook post of a Mexican proverb that says, “They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.” This proverb reminded me of John 12:24.

I Was a Seed

You tried to bury me in shame
Obliterate my holy name
You didn’t know I was a seed
You buried me and I was freed
In my dark grave the Savior came

So now in Him new life I claim
Bold and strong I grow, not the same
You thought I was only a weed
You tried to bury me

As if emerging from the flame
Wholly knowing I’m not to blame
Glad because of your dirty deed
Content that I’m a sprouted seed
Thankful your actions did not maim
When you tried to bury me

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Reputation

No one whispers to you
what they whisper about you
to others

Though they might
taunt and tease

And while there may be
truth in the taunting
it’s never the whole truth

Only God knows
the whole truth
your whole heart
the pain in the depths
of your tortured soul

And He whispers to you
You are my beloved
What they say
doesn’t matter to Me
Don’t let it define you

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You Can’t Go Back to Tuesday

I’m working on my book proposal today. I posted the draft Prologue last week. I’m determined to finish the proposal this week so an editor friend can review it before I submit it to the publishing house editor who requested it at the Faith & Culture Writers Conference. I had a breakthrough this week when I realized the Chapter 1 I’d drafted started in the wrong place. This is the beginning of the new Chapter 1.

I’m planning to include a poem on the title page of each chapter. The poem for this chapter is one I wrote a week after the events recounted here.

You Can’t Go Back to Tuesday

Last Breath

Breathing
in, out again
no other sound so dear
except if you spoke, one more time,
I’d hear.

I sat in that suffocating little room with my sister Suz, my brother-in-law Dick, and the shell of my sister Peggy. When I had arrived earlier in the day I wouldn’t have known it was her in the bed if Suz hadn’t also been there. I hadn’t seen Dick in 28 years; he’d changed, kind of looked like Grizzly Adams after a month in the woods alone.

And Peggy, she didn’t look like anyone I knew. The last time I’d seen her she didn’t look too bad. She admitted the cancer was back, but she covered up how bad it was pretty well. And she had been hopeful, ready to fight and win again. But she wasn’t going to win this time—she would breathe her last in that tiny, sterile room with just the three of us there.

I’d woken up that morning with plans to go to the dentist in the morning—even though I was dreading it—and then in for my annual mammogram and breast MRI. On Friday I was going to go visit Peggy in the hospital. I was told she’d probably be feeling better by then.

But Suz called early that morning and said Peggy had taken a turn for the worse. “You should come as soon as you can. Dick said she was pretty bad.”

I called my cousin Noryce to tell her what was going on with Peggy and to just talk. Noryce always has good advice and knows just what to say.

“I don’t know what to do. I have these two appointments I have to keep, but I want to go see Peggy. Maybe I can just wait until tomorrow to go,” I said. “I should have just gone to see her on Tuesday.”

Noryce, in her infinite wisdom, replies, “You can’t go back to Tuesday. What are you going to do today? What’s the worst that could happen if you cancel your appointments and go? What if you wait to go until tomorrow and she’s already gone?”

She knows the story of when my dad died and I wasn’t there. He had called me and said, “Come see me.” But it cost money to fly to Desert Hot Springs where he was and we didn’t have a lot of money at the time. So I bought an inexpensive ticket for two weeks out. He died a week later. I will always regret that decision.

So I called the dentist to cancel my appointment, worried that they would be upset and charge me for the appointment anyway. “Don’t worry about it. Go see your sister. Give us a call when you’re ready to reschedule.”

Then I called the hospital to cancel my mammogram and breast MRI. They were even more understanding given that my sister was dying of breast cancer. I don’t know why I was afraid they wouldn’t be.

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Courageous

The prompt at dVerse Poets Pub today is to write using antithesis. Bjorn asks us to use contrasting terms to encompass the real truth of the matter as we live in a world both black and white at the same time. As the topic of fear and courage have been much on my mind lately, I immediately thought of the antithesis of feeling fear while having faith. This is how we can be courageous.

Courageous

The giants tower above me
menacing and cruel
I tremble in faith
Stand resolutely with fear

The waves crash down upon me
mighty and powerful
I  shudder in faith
Rise unflinchingly with fear

The enemy surrounds me
threatening and heartless
I cringe in faith
Prevail triumphantly with fear

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Jeremiah Preached the Gospel

I’ve been reading through Jeremiah, alternating with Hebrews, as part of my Bible-in-a-year reading schedule. I’m up to chapter 23 of Jeremiah, but I kept thinking about chapter 17. So I went back and re-read chapter 17 the other night. As I read through it, I realized that this passage encompasses the Gospel and that is why I was drawn back to it.

I love when I find the essence of the Gospel of Christ in the Old Testament (it’s all over the place, you know), but I didn’t really expect to find it in Jeremiah. This is a book by a prophet that the Israelites did not like. His gloom and doom predictions for Israel resulted in the priests and “prophets” plotting against him, and he was arrested, whipped, and put in stocks. He spoke on behalf of the Lord to warn the Israelites of God’s anger because they had turned away from Him, and he predicted that many of the Israelites would die at the hand of the Babylonians or from famine, and that others would be exiled to Babylon, if they did not change their ways.

But in the middle of all of the warnings and predictions is this passage that I believe encompasses the Gospel in a nutshell:

Wisdom from the Lord

 5 This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans,
who rely on human strength
and turn their hearts away from the Lord.
6 They are like stunted shrubs in the desert,
with no hope for the future.
They will live in the barren wilderness,
in an uninhabited salty land.

 7 “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
8 They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
and they never stop producing fruit.
Jeremiah 17:5-8 (NLT).

Verses 5-6 speak of those who trust in their own ability to be righteous and believe they can earn their own way to heaven. When their judgment day comes, they will be cursed because they have trusted in human strength. Even in this life, their spiritual lives are barren and they have no real hope or strength in the face of the trials of this life.

Verses 7-8 speak of those who trust in the Lord Jesus for their salvation and know that they have no hope of righteousness on their own. They are not bothered by the trials of this world because they have the power of the Holy Spirit to sustain their spiritual life. They have the hope of eternity with God.

I love the imagery of this passage of Jeremiah. When trouble comes, and it will come for all of us, the one who trusts in human strength is “like stunted shrubs in the desert.” But the one who trusts in the Lord “like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water.” The stunted shrub is the perfect picture of worry and hopelessness. How can such a shrub ever survive? But the tree by the riverbank is the perfect picture of peace and hope. Such a tree will survive the worst drought because it has tapped into the source of life.

In this passage, water is life for the plant. In the New Testament, Jesus promises living water to all who believe in Him.

Jesus Promises Living Water

On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.) John 7:37-39 (NLT).

The question that faces every human being is whether they will trust in human strength or will put all their trust in their Creator. How about you? Do you seek to earn your own salvation through the strength of your own righteousness? Or have you chosen to trust in Jesus as the atoning sacrifice for your sins, recognizing that your strength and righteousness are nothing compared to His? When the drought comes, will you die of thirst because you have no power to create living water? Or will you thrive because you trust in the One who offers an endless supply of living water for all who believe?

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The Bridge You Built

The prompt for Day 28 of NaPoWriMo is to write about bridges, either real, imaginary, or metaphorical. I decided to write about my favorite bridge.

The Bridge You Built

The ravine between me and  You
is deep and wide and long
I pine here on the far side
quite enchanted by Your song

I have no way to get across
to rest peacefully where You are
I cannot even go around
the journey’s much too far

So You built a bridge for me
You stretched Your arms out wide
So when it’s time for me to cross
I will rest eternally on the other side

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My Simple Life

The Day 26 prompt at NaPoWriMo today (where incidentally my post of yesterday was featured) is to write a persona poem, which is a poem in the voice of someone else. I chose to write in the voice of John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, and who penned the Gospel of John, 3 epistles, and Revelation.

My Simple Life

Mine was a simple life
Catching fish with my dad and brother
Going to the synagogue on the Sabbath
Always honoring my dear sweet mother

Along comes this Nazarene
He wants James and me to be fishers of men
I don’t really understand quite what he means
Yet we drop everything to follow him then

Life is still simple, but not the same
We follow him as he teaches us about God
The Pharisees and Priests don’t like him at all
They try to trick him, call him a fraud

But the miracles he performs
Make me believe he’s Messiah
He fed 5,000, calmed a storm, healed the sick
He must be the one foretold by Jeremiah

All the prophets predicted
He would come to rescue us one day
I can’t hardly believe it’s happening in my time
After Israel for centuries from God did stray

When I saw him transform
On the mountain he became a magnificent light
Peter and James saw it too, we were frightened
We knew we had seen a glorious sight

I trust him with my life
He calls me the disciple whom he does love
Even when I vie for first place in his band
Of disciples who sometimes push and shove

Now he tells us he’s the lamb
Fulfilling the Passover his body is given
We don’t understand what he’s saying
That through him all our sins are forgiven

He prays in the garden
Where we often come to pray together
But this prayer is different, such anguish
Still we fall asleep, lulled by the weather

He’s arrested and we flee
By the Sanhedrin he’s unfairly and illegally tried
Handed over to the Romans for punishment
And Pilate decrees he be unjustly crucified

I stood at the cross
Bewildered by this unexpected turn of events
As he prays for the Father to forgive them
Not one among the Sanhedrin repents

They thought that it was over
They buried him in a borrowed garden tomb
But he promised he’d return and he did
He left the grave like a baby from the womb

After he appeared to us
He returned to his heavenly throne
Then he sent us the great Counselor
As he promised not to leave us alone

Many years later on Patmos
In exile I am given a vision of his grace
He will come again to rescue his people
All sin, pain, and tears he will erase

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