Tag Archives: Grace

Ash and Sackcloth

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. It is somber holiday when we are called to consider our sinful nature and our need for a savior. As a result, it tends not to be the most popular of holidays, and yet it is an important one. For only when one understands their sinful nature, their own wretchedness, can one truly see the need for the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus as their savior.

Many churches have services on Ash Wednesday, including my church—Community of Faith—and the focus is on repentance. As part of the service, the pastor or priest places a cross of ash on the forehead of the worshippers.

Ash and Sackcloth

To repent in ash and sackcloth
Is a concept we scarce understand
To revel in our pleasure and sin
Is a right we fully demand

Yet repent is what God commands us
Deep down we know that we should
Still we cling to our sinful behavior
Thinking obedience will hinder our good

Disobedience displays a lack of trust
That God yearns for our perfect peace
If we repent in ash and sackcloth
Only then will our wretchedness cease

Leave a comment

Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life, Poetry

The Perfect Center – A Sestina

In Bible Study Fellowship we are studying the Life of Moses. One of the great truths about God that we are learning in Leviticus and Numbers is that God desires to be at the center of our lives, and that when He is at the center He provides for His people. I decided that I wanted to write a sestina about God as the perfect center of my life. Unlike the first sestina I wrote, this one is patterned after the original sestina so that each stanza has lines of 8, 11, 11, 11, 11, and 11 syllables, rather than each line being in iambic pentameter (not that I was successful with achieving iambic pentameter in my first one).

The Perfect Center

You desire to be my center
O God, You alone are worthy of my trust
Yet the deceit of this world plunders my faith
Where would I be without your immense mercy
Show me, Lord, clear direction I might follow
Guide me in Your perfect ways that I obey

Forgive me when I don’t obey
Bring me back, Lord, to You my perfect center
Never let me stray as Your will I follow
O Lord, You are the only one I can trust
Because of Your great compassion and mercy
I will forever believe, cling to my faith

I marvel at the strength of faith
That some days makes it effortless to obey
Resting in the bosom of Your great mercy
Focused on the cross, Your Son my center
Considering Your perfect decrees, I trust
With reckless abandon Your will I follow

Headstrong, my own will I follow
I marvel at the fragility of faith
Prone to trust in worthless things I cannot trust
On my own it’s too difficult to obey
Worldly possessions, Lord, become my center
I’m lost, alone without Your perfect mercy

I am thankful for Your mercy
Leading me back to the One I must follow
O Lord, You deserve to be my soul’s center
I pray this day I will attain perfect faith
I pray someday I’ll learn to always obey
You have proven, Lord, You are worthy of trust

Correct me when I fail to trust
When I do wrong, but then repent, have mercy
Grant me Your Holy Spirit, then I’ll obey
Fill me with Your perfect grace, then I’ll follow
Remind me You are faithful, then I’ll have faith
Make me desire to keep You as my center

When I follow I learn to trust
Growing faith feeds on Your mercy
You, the Center, help me obey

1 Comment

Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life, Poetry

Cardboard Evangelism (Miracles)—A Found Poem

This morning in church we had a visit from a group of men from our local Teen Challenge ministry. The sermon was about how God still performs miracles and these men shared how they are each a miracle. They did so in a very unique way; they called it their cardboard evangelism. Each man walked in front of the congregation with a cardboard sign. On one side they had written who they saw themselves as before they came to Teen Challenge; on the other side they had written who they are now—a miracle of God.

After the service I asked if I could write a found poem based on their cardboard evangelism and they said I could. So with the help of a few of the men I took pictures of the signs so that I could transcribe these miracles into this found poem.

TC Frown TC Smile

Cardboard Evangelism (Miracles)

Walking in a world of darkness
Found the Light in Jesus Christ

Lost cause; No foundation
Redeemed child; New creation

Chained down by addiction
Set free in Christ

Suicidal depressed broken spirit
Miracle Overcomer Healed

Young homeless lost with no hope
Found by Jesus who gave me hope for a better life

Abandoned, Dad was in prison
Found and free through my ultimate Father

Addicted to cutting myself; Hopeless, in pain
Christ bled enough for me. I am healed inside and out

20 years running with the devil
Now . . . running with GOD

Introduced to meth; it was killing me slowly. I hit my rock bottom
Repented to God. Now praying to be faithful

Bitter outcast looking for acceptance in a needle and a spoon
Passionate Jesus freak

Godless dirtbag
Fresh and clean with the Lord

Lost everything to alcohol
Gained everything through Christ

Overwhelmed by darkness
Overcome by Truth

On the street homeless, shooting meth, feeling hopeless
Overcame all with God’s love & forgiveness

Felt misled
Now have purpose

Had everything; wasn’t enough
Have Jesus; more than enough

Lost, broken, and hopeless
Found, healing, and hopeful

Junkie running to the needle every day
Delivered running to my Sword †

Imprisoned by drug addiction
Bailed out by Jesus Christ

Drinking away the past and the hurt
Trusting in Jesus to heal it all

Chasing dope daily, just to get high
Chasing God daily, and lifting Him high

Afraid I could do nothing right
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!

3 Comments

Filed under Faith, Family, Jesus, Life, Poetry, Service

The Candle

Forgiveness is a candle burning bright
In it resides both heat and light

Just as one cannot divide the flame
To forgive and let go are one and the same

Forgiving does not mean the offender was right
But means we trust God will win the fight

Though we know who is to blame
We also know our own deep shame

When revenge is what we have in sight
Letting go is beyond our might

But when we trust Jesus is the only name
Great forgiveness we do proclaim

Then our candle burns hot and bright
Love and mercy are our delight

1 Comment

Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life, Poetry

Friends

We are in the middle of a sermon series at church called Faith by the Numbers. We are on number 4, True Friendship, based on the story in Mark 2:1-12 in which the 4 friends lower their paralyzed friend down through the roof to Jesus. During the sermon this poem started to form in my mind. On the theory that it’s better to just write, even if what you write isn’t the best every time, I decided to finish it up and share it here.

Friends

Friends go the distance
When friends are in need

Friends find great blessing
When friends each other feed

Friends trust in Jesus
When friends plant a seed

Friends are friends forever
When friends in Christ are freed

2 Comments

Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life, Poetry

A New Creation

I’m not a sinner and nothing more
I’m also a saint who Christ restored

I live each day a new creation
The Holy Rock my firm foundation

Though I have sinned, falling short of God’s glory
My life of sin is not the end of the story

I live each day a new creation
Relying on the Spirit to resist temptation

Christ died to redeem a sinner like me
Now I have His sweet victory

I live each day a new creation
Secure and free in my salvation

12 Comments

Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life, Poetry

The Veil

A thick, dark veil obscures Your beauty
not the sort a bride wears
that offers a glimpse of what lies beneath

An impenetrable, purple veil
like an enormous Persian rug
hanging from poles of acacia wood and gold

Your beloved desires to see
the beauty behind the veil
and for You to see her and her yearning

Sin, the veil of darkness
separates You from Your beloved
so completely reconciliation seems impossible

Yet Your love for her
is stronger than the veil of sin
as You died for her the veil was torn in two

Beauty shone beyond the veil
no longer obscured from view
Your beloved approaches Your throne of beauty

The veil is torn, it is no more

1 Comment

Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life, Poetry

The Greatest Winner

The Tuesday prompt over at dVerse Poets Pub today is to write a poem about winners or losers, or both. Mary noted these attributes of winners from an article she read (and linked to): “Winners are driven, winners take responsibility, winners are eager to learn, winners are positive thinkers, winners are humble.” These attributes reminded me of the greatest winner in all of history and so decided to write a poem about him using these attributes as my guide.

The Greatest Winner

The greatest winner in all history
was executed for crimes
He did not commit

Yet He was driven
by love and by grace
to take the punishment for all

He was not responsible
for our great sinfulness
but took responsibility nonetheless

Though He knew everything
since He was God, still
He longed to learn what others knew

He had the positive thinking
of a man of great faith and power
calming storms and healing the sick

But despite His greatness and majesty
He humbled Himself for our sake
was gentle like a Lamb to the slaughter

9 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Faith, Jesus, Poetry

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

14 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Faith, Jesus, Life, Poetry

This Big Light of Mine

For the past week or so I’ve been listening to the new MercyMe CD “Welcome to the New” as often as I can. There is not a song on this CD that I don’t love. I’ve written a post inspired in part by one of the songs, Flawless, and have wanted to write about more of the great music on this CD, but it’s hard to choose which song to write about. Perhaps in the end I’ll write about most or all of them, but for today I want to share my thoughts on Burn Baby Burn. I’m going to start by sharing the video:

I love this song because it is another one that reinforces what I’ve been learning in Bible Study Fellowship this past year. I’ve learned that it is not enough to believe who Jesus is and that He saved me if that knowledge doesn’t change me. I have the Light and I need to let it shine. I have the power of the Holy Spirit living in me, and I need to rely on that power in every circumstance. I need to truly know, with every fiber of my being, who I am and what I have in Christ.

Jesus’ disciples were truly changed by their encounter with Him, both before His crucifixion and after His resurrection. But even more importantly, when they were filled with His Holy Spirit, they became bold and fearless proclaimers of the truth. They knew who they were and what they had. The book of Acts is brimming with stories of the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through Peter, John, and the others. Eventually they all were martyred for their faith, but because they knew to whom they belongs they did not fear death or any earthly trial.

You probably know the old children’s song This Little Light of Mine. If all you have is a little of God’s light, it is good to let it shine. But I’d rather have a gigantic portion of the Light of Christ and to let it burn baby burn. How about you? Do you know who you are? Do you know what you have? Are you letting the torch of Truth burn bright in your life because you are thankful for God’s gift of grace and know He is with you?

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV).

2 Comments

Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life, Music