Tag Archives: Sin

The Cost

We’re jousting over at dVerse Poets Pub today as the tournament continues. The challenge is to take one line from either Brian’s or Claudia’s poem, posted there, and write a new poem with that one line included. I cheated a little and took the last two lines of Brian’s poem to create this one.

The Cost

I need no reminder
the cost.

I see it in the grieving faces
of the mourners as his funeral.

I see it in the furrowed brow
of a mother whose child is behind bars.

I see it on the network news
night after bloody night.

I see it in the mirror
looking at a life that could have been
but was delayed, hindered by disobedience and fear.

The cost of disobedience,
of “freedom” that isn’t truly free,
but a prison, as we become slaves to sin.

I need no reminder
the cost.
Still I’m reminded every day.

And then I recall the cost
He paid
to redeem what is lost.

To us the cost is consequences;
to Him the cost was to give His all
to save us from the ultimate cost.

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Pruning

The Twist and Shout — Meeting at the Bar prompt today at dVerse Poets Pub focuses on the volta at the end of a poem. I’ll let you check out Bjorn’s excellent description if you want to know more about it. I looked back over some old lessons at dVerse for a sonnet form to use and settled on the Terza Rima Sonnet from way back in May 2013. As usual, I probably didn’t get the meter right, but I liked the rhyme scheme for this prompt and the poem that I had already started earlier today.

Pruning

Jesus, intercede for me when I sin
If I loudly protest, make me mute
I must survive the Father’s discipline

Oh, Jesus, intercede when I bear fruit
Prune away enough of what is dead
But never my whole being to uproot

For my greater good I know You bled
To save me from a sinful wasted life
That I might bear abundant fruit instead

Seasons come filled with trials and strife
I cry out to You my God above
And still I must endure Your Pruner’s knife

Your pruning is a true act of love
As on my branches rests Your holy dove

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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

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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

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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!

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Comprehending His Power Is My Power

We are just about to finish up my first full year of Bible Study Fellowship, and as a group leader, in the study of Matthew. The experience has been richer than I could have ever imagined. I am so blessed to have been invited to be a group leader even though I had very little BSF experience.

The final two lessons cover the second half of Matthew 27 and Matthew 28, Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. The lessons coincided with Holy Week and Easter, and what an amazing blessing that was! I’ve heard the Holy Week and Easter stories many times. I’ve attended Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter church services for years. And yet this year, going deeper into those stories through the BSF study, I saw a great truth that I had never seen before in quite the way I did this year.

Throughout this year the Lord has been speaking to me through this study about how in His humanity He faced the same temptations and trials that I do. He resisted the temptations and overcame the trials with the same tools I have at my disposal: prayer, scripture, and the Holy Spirit. But it wasn’t until we got to the crucifixion and resurrection that it really sunk in.

As Jesus faced the cross in the garden of Gethsemane, He prayed earnestly, to the point of sweating blood, for the strength to see His mission through. When I face difficult trials, I can do the same. I have direct access to the Father in prayer because of what Jesus did for me.

But more importantly, I have the power of the Holy Spirit living in me. After His resurrection, Jesus said to His disciples: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. . . . And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18, 20. The authority He had, and still has, was sufficient to allow Him to lay down His life on the cross for our sake, and to take it up again at the resurrection and thereby defeat death, our greatest foe. Now that’s power! And He will always be with me so that I have that power at my disposal when I face temptations and trials.

If Jesus can overcome death by the power that enabled His resurrection, then by that same power overcoming sin is well within the realm of possibility for me. His power over death is my power over sin.

I feel like Paul’s prayer for the believers in Ephesus and for all believers has been answered in me:

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. Ephesians 1:18-21.

I’ve known for a long time that I have the power of the Holy Spirit living in me, but somehow the enormity of that power that raised Christ from the dead never quite hit me like it has in the past two weeks. This power will not only convict me of my sin and lead me to repentance, but when exerted in the authority of Christ it can and will enable me to overcome the temptation to sin that I face on a daily basis. I am a conqueror of sin because Christ lives in me and His power is my power!

As if to reinforce this message, just this week I bought the new Mercy Me CD titled “Welcome to the New.” There is a great song on this CD titled “Flawless.” It starts like this:

There’s got to be more
Than going back and forth
From doing right to doing wrong
‘Cause we were taught that’s who we are
Come on get in line right behind me
You along with everybody
Thinking there’s worth in what you do.

Then Like a hero who takes the stage when
We’re on the edge of our seats saying it’s too late
Well let me introduce you to amazing grace

And then the chorus reminds me that:

No matter the pain
Still the truth is
The cross has made,
The cross has made you flawless.

No matter what they say
Or what you think you are
The day you called His name
He made you flawless.

In the eyes of God I am flawless because He sees Christ’s perfection when He looks at me. Knowing that, and knowing the power He provides, I don’t have to go back and forth from doing right to doing wrong because that’s no longer who I am. If I embrace His amazing grace and His resurrection power, each day He changes me and enables me to be more of who He’s called me to be.

And here’s the video of Mercy Me singing this awesome song. I hope it blesses you as much as it has me, and encourages you to hold tightly to His grace and power, because the cross has made you flawless, too.

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