Archive for the 'Poetry' Category

The LORD is my rock, my fortress, my deliverer;
He is my stronghold, my refuge and my Savior
My God is my rock, my secure haven,
My shield and the horn of my salvation.
The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock!
Exalted be the Savior of His flock! 

In my distress I called to the Most High
I called out to my God with tears
My desperate plea came to his ears.
From his temple he heard my cry

He reached down and He took hold of me;
He drew me out of my deep disgrace
He brought me into a spacious place;
He rescued me for He delighted in me. 

The LORD is my rock, my fortress, my deliverer;
He is my stronghold, my refuge and my Savior
My God is my rock, my secure haven,
My shield and the horn of my salvation.
The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock!
Exalted be the Savior of His flock! 

As for God, His way is perfect and sure
His word is trustworthy and true
His presence will revive and renew
For who is God besides the LORD?

It is God who arms me with His might
It is He who keeps my way secure.
He makes my feet like those of a deer;
And causes me to stand on the heights.

The LORD is my rock, my fortress, my deliverer;
He is my stronghold, my refuge and my Savior
My God is my rock, my secure haven,
My shield and the horn of my salvation.
The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock!
Exalted be the Savior of His flock!

Therefore I will praise you, LORD, among the nations;
I will sing your praises, O God of my salvation

(From 2 Samuel 22)

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I’m thankful for a God who loves this fallen earth
Who redeems the lost and gives them worth
Whose ears and eyes are open
To the hopeless and the broken
Who will not abandon his mission
Of freedom and of abolition
Slaves now set free
Blind who now see
Orphans adopted and given a home
No longer abandoned or alone
Jesus the Christ has ransomed this race
By his death and resurrection and grace

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Life never leaves us alone, not for a minute. We think we have it all under control, we remember the lessons we learned in Classroom Management and Interventions for Severe Behavior Problems–a class in which we got an A–which was designed to teach us to never let a problem escalate, to always stay in control of the self. Yet still, despite how much we know and remember, we have a tendency to fail.

And after failure, we sit on a log on an ugly beach and start feeling like another piece of the garbage lying upon the beach–something the wind and waves haven’t carried off, something the cliff swallows nesting on hillside above will not be using for their nests. Yet, we hope. Annie Dillard wrote that we receive grace like a man trying to fill a cup in a waterfall.

Indeed.*

I’m like the beach upon

which I sit

Staring, aghast. Sand mottled with

Debris, detritus, and grit

Is unpleasant to behold, unsightly,

Dirty and cold.

My eyes–as anyone’s–are starved for

beauty here; grace.

For there is only ruin here

In this place.

I am an ugly, untended

Beach strewn

With sticks and rope and bottles;

Garbage left over from June.

I am littered with butts, straws,

Cans and mold.

My only hope is the waves small,

Beating a hasty retreat–

No more anxious to stay on the beach

Than tiny feet.

I am an ugly Lake Erie

Beach, not a white

Sand paradise whose water

Clear and bright

Lingers close to shore–or

So I’m told.

Dirty beach that I am I call out:

“Break, O Wave, upon this place.

“Break upon this beach, separate me

“From litter, dirty me with grace.”

*Sorry for the formatting. There are three stanzas. I hope you can figure out where they are, I couldn’t get the extra space to stay.

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I marvel at how, too often, we define people by what they’ve done. We do it with others and with ourselves. And we sometimes do it with those whose lives are recorded in the Bible. I think the epitome of this error is when we talk about “The Woman Caught in Adultery.” Anyone with a basic knowledge of the gospels is probably familiar with her story. (If not, it’s recorded here in John 8.) And yet when we get to heaven, we will not see her bearing that scarlet letter. In the eyes of God, she is not “The Woman Caught in Adultery.” She had a name in life, and now she has a new name. This is how we will know her.

From this day forward, I’m going to call her “No Longer Condemned.”
This poem is written from her perspective.

Caught in the act,
Without defense,
Too late to retract,
This latest offense.

Pulled from the bed of my illicit lover,
Frantically grabbing a sheet to cover
My naked body from the leering eyes
Of lustful men in religious disguise.

They wrongly believe their self-righteous zeal
Will appease the lust and guilt that they feel.
So they lash out, condemning, accusing,
Oblivious to the grace they are abusing.

And yet I cannot deny
I’m guilty of this crime
I confess I did not try
To even resist this time

Self-loathing swarms,
And overtakes me.
Self-pity storms,
And nearly breaks me.

They drag me before a rabbi from Nazareth,
I feel like bait in a trap they have set,
Caught so they can try to catch him,
Accused so they accuse him of sin.

Confusion mixed with humiliation,
No way out of this shameful situation.
How did I ever come to this place
Of such dishonor and disgrace?

Just an adulteress without a name,
I feel the rising blush of shame,
My nakedness runs deeper than skin,
Dark passions lurking deep within.

Defenseless I weep,
As each accusation rips
And pierces deep
Like arrows with poisoned tips.

But in my disgrace,
Here in my fears
I find a safe place
From these verbal spears.

This man, this teacher
This prophet, this preacher
Looks upon me with love, not lust
With eyes that invoke hope and trust

And in the midst of this chaos and din
The noise and mayhem don’t seem to faze him.
He calmly traces his finger in the sand
Absorbing all their raging demands

When he looks up, his gaze pierces each heart
And his soft, yet firm, answer tears them apart,
“Let any one of you who is not a sinner
Be the first to throw a stone at her.”

As this truth takes hold,
The clamor dies down
Stones once held
Now fall to the ground.

And starting from the oldest man,
They quietly, slowly leave,
Convicted that their scheming plan
Revealed their own hypocrisy.

I find myself alone
With this new-found friend.
I find myself known
And no longer condemned.

His hand and his love raise me to my feet.
My shame is lifted and my fears retreat.
My accusers have dispersed like my guilt
And finally all my defenses wilt.
With love in his voice and in his eyes,
He peels away my thin disguise.

He asks, “Where are your accusers?
Does no one condemn you?”
Timidly, I reply, “No one, sir.”
Though I can hardly believe it’s true.

Then with a voice soft and sweet
That bids my fear and shame retreat,
I hear the words like refreshing water,
“Neither do I condemn you, my daughter.
You are redeemed and restored,
In my grace, go and sin no more.”

Love sweeps in and floods my soul,
For the first time ever, I feel whole.
Forgiveness and redemption are mine,
Mercy and grace, surreal and sublime.

No longer broken,
Or compelled to pretend,
Jesus has spoken,
I am no longer condemned.

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Branches that are pruned
Will never fully grow back
But fruit will flourish

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The purest man ever born,
Here forsaken and forlorn
Tortured and racked with pain
Divinity enfleshed and slain
Upon a rugged tree
We now call Calvary.

Why, we ask, why
Did He have to die?
Is mankind that evil?
Is sin that primeval,
Are we that fallen and obscene
That God Himself must intervene?

The incarnation affirms,
And my conscience confirms
That only divinity enfleshed
Can break the bond enmeshed
Within this frame of dust,
This body of lies and lust.

And so Immanuel
Unlocked the keys of hell.
As His body expired,
Evil man conspired,
Unaware
That His last prayer
For their forgiveness
Would be manifest
In His power revealed,
From His grave sealed;
His resurrection,
His insurrection,
Mankind set free,
Mass escapee
From Satan’s arm,
From hell’s alarm,
From sin’s outcome,
Death is undone.

Jesus is alive,
And only He can revive
And bring to life
This sin, this strife
This separation,
This accusation,
And redeem for His glory,
For His eternal story,
Life from death,
This borrowed breath,
Resurrected and redeemed,
Unvalued and unesteemed,
Yet in the eyes of Jesus Christ,
Worth life and death, worth the price.

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Hope,
When faith is gone,
And lingers the dawn,
Hope,
When storms rage,
And wars wage,
Hope,
Cling to the promise,
When yawns the abyss,
Hope.

Hope,
Through tear-blinded eyes,
Through cloud-darkened skies,
Hope,
When trapped in grief,
And wrapped in unbelief,
Hope,
When all comes undone,
Refuse to abandon
Hope.

Hope,
When temptations ensnare,
When enticed to despair,
Hope,
When all else fails,
And doubts assail,
Hope,
In the One who keeps
Each tear you weep,
Hope.

Hope in God, dear soul.
And relinquish all control.
To the God of hope.

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I keep trying to find a life
On my own, apart from you
I am the king of excuses
I’ve got one for every selfish thing I do

What’s going on inside of me?
I despise my own behavior
This only serves to confirm my suspicions
That I’m still a man in need of a savior

I wanna be in the light
As you are in the light
I wanna shine like the stars in the heavens
Oh, lord be my light and be my salvation
Cause all I want is to be in the light
All I want is to be in the light

The disease of self runs through my blood
It’s a cancer fatal to my soul
Every attempt on my behalf has failed
To bring this sickness under control

Tell me, what’s going on inside of me?
I despise my own behavior
This only serves to confirm my suspicions
That I’m still a man in need of a savior

Honesty becomes me
[there's nothing left to lose]
The secrets that did run me
[in your presence are defused]
Pride has no position
[and riches have no worth]
The fame that once did cover me
[has been sentenced to this earth]
Has been sentenced to this earth

Tell me, what’s going on inside of me?
I despise my own behavior
This only serves to confirm my suspicions
That I’m still a man in need of a savior

–DC Talk

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I am free
For the first time
Left my fears behind
In front of me is open sky

I’m taller than trees
I can see further than before
Everything’s different now
Now that You’ve ruined my life

You took my dreams
And stole my schemes
And turned my life upside-down
You took my heart
Stole every part
And made it a miracle

Now I can sing, sing a new song
My burden’s gone
You gave me all the words and melodies

And now I can be at Your feet
Your place for me
Everything’s beautiful
Now that You’ve ruined my life

And I’m wide awake
And tonight I’m saved
In Your arms I’m singin’ of
How You made me a miracle

I’m taller than trees
I can see further than before
Everything’s different now

–Audio Adrenaline

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You are my refuge in the storm,
When trials surge and conflicts swarm,
Your presence alone will transform
            The squall into a calm.
You are my faith in my unbelief,
My consolation in my grief.
Your presence alone brings relief,
            A cool and curing balm.

You are my retreat in the chaos
Of each twisting turn and toss,
Your presence overwhelms my loss,
            With tranquility.
You pursue me when I run and hide,
You share my burden, walk by my side.
Your presence alone dispels my pride
            With your humility.

You are my shelter from the tempest,
When my soul is distraught and distressed,
Your presence alone brings peace and rest.
            I know I am not alone.
You sing a love song over me,
Grace and justice in harmony,
Your presence alone the melody,
            A soul-soothing tone.

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