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Posts Tagged ‘Poems’

Work With God

A third grandchild has arrived. It is time to praise God and plead mercy for the child. I pray that God might graciously answer my prayer:

Matthias gift of a gracious Lord

Come early to know your Savior God

That He may mercy to you afford

In the life ordained you run and trod

Knowing the path He gives to you

 

Spurgeon a flower of healing be

As the Prince of Preachers know God’s Word

Live it and speak it so others see

The Gospel and God’s glory be heard

That others taste His goodness through you

 

Francis a freeman by Providence

A slave to righteousness may you be

Soldier in step with Master’s cadence

To challenge fly, from temptation flee

The Lord’s will and work be done in you

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Worked, played, napped, read, ran, and just now I sat on this cool, exceptionally clear summer night listening to the distant fireworks of my small town. How could freedom not come to mind, but I’m concerned. As the rockets burst 10 blocks away my thoughts went to how freedom is abused and misused:

Always free to do what is right

In dungeon dark or Main Street bright

Don’t take license and act the fool

For righteousness use God’s gracious tool

Or else He’ll take it from us all

And great will be this nation’s fall

Which once so brightly shone for good

Frequently for justice it once stood

Not without fault or blemish there

But most citizens gave a care

Whereas now we say right is wrong

Parade evil in our law and song

Oh, once free land turn back to God

Give freedom more than a yearly nod

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Oh, America
  Not in praise of thee
Not the replica
  Sea to shining sea
 
Morally bankrupt
  No basis for law
Justice you corrupt
  From evil you draw
 
Death you promote
  And promiscuity
Truth is all but banned
  Scant integrity
 
Self-esteem the rule
  Less accomplishment
Spur acting the fool
  Spurn real achievement
 
Destroy family
  Children rule the roost
Dad the enemy
  Immodesty boost
 
Many a problem
  I’ll not mention here
Prosperity trim
  For the future fear
 
How fell this great land
  City on a hill?
Hear this reprimand
  If a conscience still
 
God is rejected
  Acknowledged no more
His law ejected
  Truth dismissed as lore
 
Time and chance create
  Says the scientist
God’s people berate
  Tolerate the rest
 
Turn from foolishness
  Acknowledge God now
Receive God’s kindness
  Before Jesus bow
 
Then dispense justice
  Teach the truth to all
Before the great crisis
  When this land will fall

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For those of you who understand, this is the season for poems, when the moments of musing through many days ooze out during hours of forced repose. Here is the most recent that hearkens back to Spring’s delights:

Life begin
  and again
When Spring sprung
  and birds sung
Blooms no lack
  eggs will crack
Life renewed
  beauty viewed
Why this show?
  ebb and flow?
Could it be
  God’s plan see?
Life from death
  Christ’s last breath
Rose again
  life begin

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The New Year started with quite a jolt
Not yet awakened to the day were we
When lesser mind from greater did molt
And confusion reigned as up went our plea
 
Fears and regrets won much of the day
Consequences realized and unforeseen
Extend forward in what we must pay
In tears and stress and oft puzzling scene
 
Week by week understanding more words
Paying bills on a month to month basis
Each day try words that curdle like curds
Prayer moments that connection retraces
 
God ordained all from start to finish
For His glory and our good He has planned
His provision and presence relish
From hard changes peaceful righteousness gained

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Partakers of grace by God’s decree
Participators in grace freely
Profoundly touched by His sovereign grace
Provides, motivates to run the race
 
Manifold grace for every challenge
Manifest grace on Spirit’s works hinge
Modeling character of God’s grace
Molded by His image we embrace
 
God’s grace worked out through His providence
Good gifts and guidance in evidence
Gone is condemnation and sin’s rule
Goal Christ’s likeness as with flesh we duel
 
On God’ grace through each day we will rest
Onslaught in the battle of each test
Ongoing refinement of this jewel
One day glory when Christ comes to rule
 
Philippians 1:3-14 seems to me to be saying that partakers of grace are participators in grace.
The God who decrees and predestines us to receive grace also enables and guides us in the living out of grace.
 

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If it sounds like whining, so be it. 2014 may well be my year of stress. It just is, so to keep from dwelling on that I won’t itemize. The stating of this fact does explain why I found myself on the yard swing on this balmy, early March day (3/8/14). I needed a few minutes to soak in nature. The amazing part is just how much God showed me in 30 minutes in my suburban backyard. Many of the observations I made will reveal themselves in just a moment but here are some others: wild onions are up; shadows are sharper at their edge now (clear sky, sun angle (near Equinox), low humidity? I don’t know); I still need to clear the remaining leaves that were protectors to snow holding on (insulating it from the ground? insulating it from the UV radiation sublimating it? I don’t know); moist ground; pitch pine trees still have cones up high; at least 3 different kinds of songbirds sounding off and many more numbers chirping; Spring grasses turning green while Summer grasses not close; a squirrel placing a twig in the log pile just under the shed roof (nest initiation? funny place) and another taking twigs off of the roof (got to get ready for those babies); English Ivy tattered after a long winter; Sun quite warm on the back of my neck. Are you still long enough to observe your surroundings? You can learn from nature’s patterns. In “The Long Winter” by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Pa Ingalls stood mouth wide open when he saw the muskrat building his nest thicker than Pa had ever seen. He knew it was a harbinger of a long, hard winter and that all wise critters best take heed. God has put the obvious signs of the Sun, Moon, and stars in the sky, but are the other patterns that mark the passing of the seasons also set there to inform us if we are quiet to hear them and wise to see the patterns? We well observe some of the easier hints of changes of seasons, subtle skirmishes of the uneven heating being re-balanced by fronts and currents, winds aloft and pressure systems, North battling South in a far older and grander way. Past seasons tell me that all we enjoy now on this pleasant day will be soon forgotten by Winter’s last hurrahs before Resurrection Day. Spring and new life sprouting will win out. The curious nature of the skirmish revealed and the pleasant moment quieted my soul enough to be thankful and express my thoughts as follows:

Maple buds bursting in dark blue sky

Framing a first quarter Moon up high

Early evening sun casting warm glow

Spring is come speaks the varied breeze flow

 

Red-tail hawk screams from overhead glide

Snow’s quiet threat at woodpile’s north side

Branches still leafless, grass is still brown

Ending a winter of much renown

 

Robins pace and listen for the worm

Passing to reside for Summer term

Screech owl rasps, the song birds do their best

Spring has won the daffodils attest

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Stress and strain are engineering terms. Stress is any force, pressure, torque, electrostatic potential, or thermal gradient that tries to distort an object, its surface or its components. (didn’t even look that up) Strain is the deformation of that object resulting from the stress. Motion is apt to result in both stress and strain. In elastic collisions stress does not result in permanent strain to the objects involved because the colliding objects temporarily distort and return to their original form when the deforming energy is converted to other forms, most notably heat. In other words, the strain is passed out of the system, leaving no impression on the objects. The most common example is billiard balls colliding on a pool table. Non-elastic collisions, on the other hand, permanently deform the objects involved. Tossing wet mud onto a wall where it sticks is an obvious example.

So, am I merely in the mood to convey physics concepts which are all too obvious to many who read this page? No, stress and strain have very straightforward analogy to life in the body and mind and spirit. Frequently when people say that they have so much stress in their life, they really mean both. That is, they are saying that all of the pushes and pulls that are stress are getting them down and making it hard to function, strain. I am experiencing both- changed schedule, pressures to succeed, accusations of neglect and slack-handedness, bills, desire to enjoy and play when it’s time to work and serve, and very notably, sadness at seeing someone I love degraded in her ability to serve her family as she likes to do.  You may take this for whining if you like, but it is really just the way that I have learned to deal with the stress. Somehow it’s supposed to be more noble to not talk about your troubles. Of course, there is nothing noble about self-focus and there is way too much of that in this society. Perhaps then I should keep quiet. Aaaccchh! Tangents!

So (love that word) here’s another one. My wife took about 6 hours to fix my son and me supper one day this past week. She can’t much read recipes just now, and her work is very slow and deliberate, but she so wanted to take care of her family that she worked diligently most of the day cutting up salad, baking sweet potatoes, sauteing cabbage and carrots with venison sausage, and baking cornbread so that we could eat a good meal. I about couldn’t eat for the tears. Then this morning she fixed oatmeal pancakes, a recipe that she had never done before. She laughed that it was a good thing that all of the ingredients were 1 (cup, teaspoon, etc) because she could not have made it otherwise. She still can’t say most names or understand much of what is said to her, but she can fix meals and wash dishes and she is happy to be able to do it again. I guess we’ll go grocery shopping together this afternoon.

Anyway, I have concluded that strainless stress is probably not very beneficial to this object. Afterall, if I am not changed by what pushes on me I’m apt to have to repeat that lesson until there is change. The idea of standing up to stress with dauntless courage and stone-faced lack of strain is neither where I live nor useful to my progress forward in the faith. I want to learn now so that I don’t have to repeat the lesson. Of course, the strain I am after is one that conforms me to the image of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, not a wet mud pie stuck to a wall like so much yak dung on the side of the house drying to be used for fuel to cook and heat. Though it is not particularly what I want in the sense of what is enjoyable, change for the sake of conformity to His image is good, and God is good in patiently working strain into my life through the stresses He ordains. The more pliable, that is non-resistant to strain, I am, the easier that strain will conform me without destroying the very fabric of who I am. It reminds me of Philippians 4:6-8: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” I so want that peace of and with God that so surpasses comprehension that onlookers upon spying it cannot help but attribute it to a work of God. But that will involve far more stress and considerably more strain that I’m not all too sure I’m up to. I have discovered that is not for me to determine. As per Colossians 3 I need to focus above so that I may succeed below:

God’s grace is my comfort and rest

 

My strong tower in the midst of test

 

While I trust Him I shall prevail

 

Raised from the dead without fail

 

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I sure am thankful that it is God who judges me, because He is so merciful and gracious.I lost all perspective during the recent events involving my wife’s stroke. All I could see were the seemingly insurmountable frustration she had with speech, the hesitations I experienced, the pressure from well-meaning people, and the mounting bills. None of those difficulties have been overcome but I am beginning to look up rather than around me as I seek ways to move on. I wish others could give their perspective on these events since they are severely skewed by my own fears and failures, but alas, not here. So here is my last of three poems on my feelings about the events of New Years Day, 2014, and following:

Fretting has no value at all

It only leads to early demise

And turmoil with those you love

And everything that you despise

 

In quietness and trust is your rest

The peace you seek is with God

And love from those who are close to you

Whatever the nature of the test

 

It is God Who is at work in you

To work and to will His good pleasure

The path He ordains is beyond view

So stroll forward in faith at leisure

 

Your struggle and strain is of no worth

Only serves to frustrate all designs

To have peace, joy, value and mirth

Written on your life’s last lines

 

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The context of the following poem is a story that I have frequently told my students over the years about how my fifth-born child came into the world. It is a story that is as close to a miracle as I personally have ever experienced. Now I encountered a new difficulty, my wife’s stroke, and drug my feet because I both feared and did not understand; I hesitated, but in God’s goodness I do not think it made any difference, though I will always be accused of neglect.

It doesn’t always work the same

This walk of faith we’re called to tread

No miracle this time did He

No sure answer to my prayer came

 

Provision came another way

To human interventions trust

Wisdom and prudence are the must

In all of this I had no sway

 

Now I am counted as the fool

I could not see just how He led

In fear from the solution fled

For my faith was a training tool

 

What are others to learn from this?

Do they trust God or their own schemes?

Surely for others there are themes

Their faith lessons they will not miss

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I break the present silence with trepidation because as always I feel compelled to be honest and that is hard when you have also been foolish in the eyes of others. So, I will start off slowly and get around to several points in a circuitous way.

At 4 AM on New Years Day, my precious wife awoke with what I now know to be “having a stroke”. She rubbed her head both front and back, complaining of it hurting and could not recognize me speaking to her. There is so much I am not saying because it is too hard to say, and there have  been many doubts and tears. We finally arrived at the hospital for a 3 night stay. Thankfully the stroke did not effect her motor skills other than a general, temporary weakness. She walked into the ER, spoke in a limited way without slurred speech, grasp numerous nurses and doctors hands and pushed against their resistance. Instead, her language center was arrested. She could not say names, mine, her own, and to her, most notably, her children. She could not understand many instructions which led one doctor to conclude she had motor skill deficiencies because she could not follow his instructions to apply pressure against his push.

I am going to post several poems that came 2 weeks after the events described above that reveal some of my reactions to all that I saw and experienced during this time as a result of seeing my wife’s debilitation and having family push me this way and that. The reflections are obviously focused around my thoughts and struggles concerning the stroke my wife had and are therefore skewed away from the events to my feelings about the events. No one is truly objective afterall though that does not mean untruthful. My first poem is a short one that deals with the immediate “why” question, to which there is no answer other than “He is good”:

I know in my heart that God is good
His Word declares it so
From His works to show
How His providence and care
The abundance He does share
Reveal that He is kind
And powerful and involved and good

If you have not yet concluded by faith that He is good you will probably ask endlessly “Why”, or perhaps, accuse Him, when it is sin in the world that is the cause of so much pain and suffering. Oh, so its sin and not Him. Why didn’t you say so? It is because all good and ill is filtered through His providential hands, otherwise He is not truly God: “I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure’; calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of My purpose from a far country. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it.” (Isaiah 46:9-11) Here it is, pay careful attention, those of you who want to soften God down, “who are stagnant in spirit, who say in their hearts, ‘The Lord will not do good or evil'” (Zephaniah 1:12): “I am the Lord, and there is no other, The One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these.” (Isaiah45:6-7) Wow what a tangent! But it is not a false one because His goodness is based on His sovereignty- He is not fickle; He has purpose, much of which He has made known and yet is inscrutable by man. He is good and there is purpose in difficulty and harm we experience.

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Full On

Recently I posted a reflection by my son called “Bouldering is Like Life”. Discussion of this reflection in my family prompted them to ask why I had never written a poem about climbing. The answer is “I don’t know”. I took it as a challenge; this is my first attempt. It is in no way intended to be an answer to my son’s reflection which is far more profound and in freeform. Rather it gives voice to two of the ways I like climbing- challenge and rest. It will not be of much interest to those who do not climb since the jargon will confuse and the draw of climbing will perplex, but perhaps climbers may relate.

Hang on the crimpers
Smear on the face
No place to rest
The challenge embrace

Gastones and side pulls
Muscles opposed
Fear a whipper
Relish how exposed

Arêtes and corners
Barn door and stem
Build up your core
Engage every limb

Hand jams, finger locks
In off-width cracks
Knuckles may bleed
Struggle with lay backs

Overhung boulders
Then feel the burn
Heel hook, mantle
The hard moves not spurn

Balance on tiny
Friction toe hold
Body tension
Feel the flow, don’t fold

Sequence and effort
Focus so hard
Worries all gone
Against stress you guard

So I like climbing
Work body tone
Relax the mind
Challenge full on

 

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The first poem I wrote this past week is the last one I am posting because I had to reflect on its content abit. It could so easily be seen as insensitive, or premature, but I consider it neither. I think it is just honest in a constructive kind of way. We have questions; we should voice them and find answers rather than silently or violently remaining agnostic about what is real and true. I offer this poem as a balm to many hurting loved ones who are truly asking. The eleven year old girl who died of leukemia and provoked my mind to write it has God’s best as I understand because she accepted God’s solution:

A purpose in life to glorify God
To enjoy His gifts, obey His commands
Accept hardships and the correcting rod
Challenge potential and all life’s demands

What’s the way forward when we’ve lost such life?
Then come tears and doubts and questions abound
Mind and heart struggle with internal strife
About ultimate issues, life profound

How is God good when there is so much bad?
God’s not the author of evil and wrong
Man disobeys, consequences are sad
Overtaking the ‘innocent’ and strong

God provides a way to overcome death
To have peace with Him and eternal rest
Bought by His Son, finished at His last breath
Now and forever have life and God’s best

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It has been a good week for poetry. I end on an encouraging note. I owe all that I am, have, and will be to the gracious Lord Who enables me to serve Him. His Benefits are far more than I can tell. I want others to bask in His goodness by submitting to His Son. The benefits are eternal.

Father near, sovereign will
Chosen in Christ, what a thrill

Rest from work, all is done
‘It is finished’ by the Son

Peace with God, free from guilt
All because Christ’s blood was spilt

Strength to live, sin abate
His Spirit does motivate

Stress and strife, like a knife
Spirit purifies my life

Help in trials, answers prayers
God is gracious and He cares

Hardship here, glory there
Joy, comfort beyond compare

Tell good news, with you share
Eternal life here and there

Purpose now, glory then
Live for Him, soon free from sin

All that’s good, all that’s fair
Is found in Christ, jewel so rare

Come again, at the end
In His glory, sky will rend

 

Forever with Him then
Perfect in Him without sin

 

 

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My previous poem, “It Is a Moral Issue”, is in our society largely, I believe, the result of believing that chance, time, matter, and energy (CTME) are the cause of all that we observe. If CTME is our god we have no purpose and no responsibility. But the universe screams a different message:

Nothing random in the way the world works
Order and sequence the rule of the day
For observers consistency has perks
Cause and effect reveal the rules at play

What is the source of this order we see?
Of design in the cosmos’s scenery
Even random disorder follows laws
And beauty is objective and enthralls

Design points to an Architect with skill
Information an Intellect reveals
Beauty an Artist with canvas to fill
Order a Mathematician Who wills

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The end of the school year is upon us. It is time for a little reflection and cultural commentary. Caution and disclaimer: This poem might make you mad, or conversely, you might shake your head sadly and say, ‘yes, it’s true’. If we do not take part in the last verse I fear we will not be tolerated very much longer. As one teacher said to me yesterday unprovoked, “We are not approaching crisis; we are in crisis.”

It is a moral issue
Lack of motivation
Rejecting what is true
Rules retaliation
Tolerance the only view

It is a moral issue
Say neither bad nor good
Be careful what you do
Even watch thoughts you should
Or we will certainly sue

It is a moral issue
Immodesty of dress
Crudeness of speech in lieu
Of more polite address
What I want to say and do

It is a moral issue
Lack of hygiene and care
Knowledge, no want or clue
All perversion laid bare
Gratification my due

It is a moral issue
Stealing what is not yours
Cheating and lying too
Coveting brings detours
Not earn what belongs to you

It is a moral issue
With rank and uniform
And age and gender too
Disrespect is the norm
Not even give God His due

It is a moral issue
Death is the focus now
Black the favorite hue
To dark stories they bow
Tattoos and piercings not few

It is a moral issue
Cry out to God, repent
Trust Christ the Savior Who
By grace from wraths relent
Our hope and nation renew

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I can not find the source for “thought, bought, wrought” but I can by my simple poem point once again to God’s glorious salvation for all who will receive it by faith.

Salvation is a great gift
Thought by the Father above
Received by faith in the work
Bought by the Son here in love
In our hearts promoting change
Wrought by the Spirit, the Dove

The word wrought means “to work by hand”. I well imagine the Holy Spirit toughening me up by a sanctifying work over so that I am hard and resilient like wrought iron rather than brittle like cast iron. “When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie, My grace all sufficient shall be thy supply. The flame shall not hurt thee, I only design, your dross to consume and your gold to refine,” says the old hymn. The trials are the fire and the hammer is the kind but firm work of the Holy Spirit to make us into the image of the Son.

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Be Strong

May God be exalted and may He strengthen our newest grandchild for this life and the next. Thus, I say the following blessing over this young one.

 
Ian Stuart may you be blest
In Christ’s salvation learn to rest
For this vile world would destroy you
Prepare by God’s grace for the test
 
Ian, “God is gracious” for sure
Enables to be strong and pure
Ever cling to his sovereign grace
Avoid temptation’s constant lure
 
Stuart has been a royal name
Carrying quite a bit of fame
But stewards have a charge to keep
Obeying their Lord without shame
 
Francis, the name means you are free
May God grant in every degree
Your mind and frame from worldly foes
And spirit ever God may see
 
Take God’s armor ready to fight
By the Spirit’s leading and might
Deep knowledge of God’s Word and prayer
Spiritual wisdom and insight

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Not from difficulty or frustration or pressure was my day in danger of preventing joy, but from excessively mundane and unwanted pursuit. One need not be bored nor down when the scope of all eternity, the God of the universe, dwells in the heart by grace through faith. So I asked and He provided:

Lord, please give me joy today
The knowledge of Your presence with me
Awareness of  all that may
Be fulfilled by Your Spirit in me
 
Joy in Your salvation free
Hilarity giving to the poor
The Gospel that they may see
Blessing now, in eternity more
 
Joy come in, joy reaching out
All God has and will do and nourish
He is great I want to shout
May His work in our time now flourish
 
God’s peace in my heart to stay
No regrets to repent or to act
Clinging to Him, always pray
Accepting His Word as ruling fact
 
Joy in who I am in Him
Happiness in the path He does give
Contentment when hard trials ever trim
Joy-robbing sin so I live
 
Now may I sing a new song
Of the blessing of knowing my Lord
On Him and His works be long
Raise voice as I praise afford

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After showing her some poetry of mine my English-teacher colleague challenged me to write Haiku. I’ve heard of it and maybe even wrote some in high school, but I don’t remember. It turns out to be a quite difficult short form of poetry that juxtaposes two ideas in three lines of five, seven, and five syllables, respectively. It has some other characteristics but that is sufficient for me since I add one other difficulty of my own. I want my poetry to rhyme and I was told traditional Haiku does not. So I asked, ‘Must it not rhyme?’ or ‘May it not rhyme?’ Evidently traditional Japanese Haiku simply does not but in other Asian countries it frequently does. So with all of this swirling in my head I began: 

Said she write haiku
I don’t know what to pursue
Will truth and rhyme do?
 
Haiku has no rhyme
For this form I have no time
Want my verse to chime
 
Haiku Nazis come
Five, seven, five is the sum
Juxtapose in some
 

Then I got a bit more serious and wanted to write more substantial verse:

God’s Son comes in flesh                                               Beauty in flower
Controls worlds yet has to rest                                   And in design of tower
Died that life flourish                                                    Art forms with power
 
What odd design this
Transfer sin for holiness
God’s death buys us bliss

And to end on a light note, I ‘haiku’d’ (Where’s the Nazis?) science:

Biology, cool!                                                    Chemistry, oh my!
Growth, reproduce, cells the rule                 Explosions and baking pie
So look alive fool                                              Electron shift is why
 Physics tells what moves
Accelerates, stops and grooves
Know it all behooves

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