Have you invited Jesus into your heart?

It’s recent­ly been the focus of David Platt and Ray Com­fort et. al., that we use the phrase, “Invite Jesus into your heart.”, and they sug­gest that the phrase and con­cept isn’t scrip­tur­al. It’s a great metaphor that helps under­stand­ing of the rela­tion­ship we begin when we repent with con­tri­tion and acknowl­edge Christ as Lord and sav­ior and accept the gift of sal­va­tion.

Legal­ism? Or some­thing to con­tem­plate when we choose our words when explain­ing the gospel? What bib­li­cal lan­guage would fill the role if it were to be retired?

Part of this con­cern is in response to a change in how we explain/spread the gospel in the “Evan­gel­i­cal” Chris­t­ian Church that’s occurred over the last half-cen­tu­ry or so that Ray and oth­ers believe has actu­al­ly result­ed in a great many false-con­verts who, instead of becom­ing Chris­tians with con­trite repen­tance and sin­cere giv­ing of Lord­ship to Jesus Christ, are instead becom­ing inoc­u­lat­ed against ever mak­ing such a conversion/repentance/confession of faith. I see direct links to this giv­ing rise to Pros­per­i­ty Gospel, Word of Faith teach­ing, and the Emer­gent Church move­ment where folks like Rob Bell of Mars Hill write books explain­ing that there real­ly is no such thing as Hell.

I’m not talk­ing about Hell­fire Preach­ing. Hell­fire Preach­ing will pro­duce Fear-Filled con­verts. Using God’s law will pro­duce Tear-Filled con­verts.” — Ray Com­fort “Hell’s Best Kept Secret” @43:47

Are our words real­ly so very impor­tant? I was uncon­vinced at first, but over the last month, I’ve real­ly begun to pon­der that ques­tion and become con­vinced that in try­ing to reach peo­ple and make Chris­tian­i­ty palat­able and ‘hip’, we’ve watered down the gospel to some­thing per­haps less strong than the prover­bial church punch/le­mon-aid.

This def­i­nite­ly qual­i­fies as pon­der­ings and won­der­ings as I don’t know where I stand entire­ly, let alone what to do about it once I do.

Homeless Ministry

I was priv­i­leged today to get to go out with my room­mate Dwight as he took sand­wich­es to give out the home­less folks in Colum­bia. As with most min­istry efforts, I expect I was more blessed than those we min­is­tered to.

End­ed up talk­ing with a guy for over half an hour. He told us up-front that was all over the God-thing. He want­ed to engage on spir­i­tu­al dis­cus­sion but he was all over the map before I fig­ured out where he want­ed to go. He want­ed to avoid going any­where while show­ing me that he had a huge breadth of knowl­edge.. Dinosaurs in the bible. Belief that Christ was an angel. Lots of dif­fer­ent odd bits from Jehovah’s Wit­ness­es, a bit of Mor­mon doc­trine, and a ver­i­ta­ble Smörgås­bord of oth­ers.

It made for inter­est­ing dis­cus­sion, and I told him so, but at the same time I tried to get him to think over the ques­tion of whether or not all these extra top­ics were as impor­tant as mak­ing sure you’ve got the core stuff squared away.

I real­ly don’t know if I had much of an impact. I expect what he’s been used to is get­ting peo­ple to bounce around from top­ic to top­ic. The top­ics are com­pelling. They’re intrigu­ing. They were cal­cu­lat­ed, I spec­u­late, to touch nerves no mat­ter where the per­son he engages is “com­ing from”, and engag­ing enough to keep things from get­ting into uncom­fort­able ter­ri­to­ry. I say cal­cu­lat­ed, but I can’t real­ly say that I believe that he’s ‘cal­cu­lat­ed’ some plan, but I think he has learned “what works” to get what he seems to want… dis­cus­sions on spir­i­tu­al mat­ters but noth­ing espe­cial­ly per­son­al or mean­ing­ful.

If any­thing we talked about has last­ing impact, I think it will be my response to a sto­ry he told us to explain why he avoid­ed spend­ing time with oth­er believ­ers and going to church. His mother’s ultra-charis­mat­ic Pen­te­costal wor­ship, along with some oth­er stuff poi­soned him against being in fel­low­ship with oth­er believ­ers. I sym­pa­thized, but per­haps not entire­ly in the way he expect­ed. I told him that it seemed regret­table that in addi­tion to hav­ing to go through the bad expe­ri­ences he went through before he was 8, it sound­ed like they’d also robbed him of being able to be in fel­low­ship for his entire life. I’m hav­ing a dif­fi­cult time putting things down in words. As bad­ly as I’m able to recall and explain it now a cou­ple of days lat­er, I’m still left with the feel­ing that it might have giv­en him pause to won­der if all the legit­i­mate ‘rea­sons’ he’d used his whole life were more excus­es and that maybe some­thing valu­able might have been tak­en from him. It may just be wish­ful think­ing on my part.

We made an appoint­ment with him for Sun­day after­noon to return with some cloth­ing items he need­ed. Dwight was unable to find him but did meet some oth­er folks who were in sim­i­lar need and was at least able to find a place for the cloth­ing to bless.

I look for­ward to future for­ays. Talk­ing to folks who are either men­tal­ly dys­func­tion­al, or high/drunk, or both, presents its own chal­lenges. It cer­tain­ly forces me to lean on Him more that I might oth­er­wise, in my lack of humil­i­ty, do. I rather like that.

A tale of two message-boards

Virginia Heffernan
I ran across an arti­cle that filled me with sor­row while at the same time giv­ing me a smidgen of hope.

Colum­nist Vir­ginia Hef­fer­nan has been in the conservative/Christian news for the past cou­ple of days. Her admis­sion of believ­ing in Cre­ation­ism and her han­dling of the expect­ed vit­ri­olic assault from the main­stream­ers is both con­fir­ma­tion of our fears of how hos­tile and intol­er­ant soci­ety is to faith and dif­fer­ing belief and encour­age­ment because one of us has coura­geous­ly stood up and spo­ken hon­est­ly and then coura­geous­ly stood up to their hate­filled response as well with char­ac­ter and back­bone.

Virginia’s arti­cle titled “Inside the Infi­deli­ty Club”, gives me much the same dual­i­ty of feel­ing.

I love mar­riage, fam­i­ly, and rela­tion­ship, and more specif­i­cal­ly God’s per­fect blue­print for them. See­ing what soci­ety has made them… the destruc­tion of the fam­i­ly, hearts, and lives is a top­ic nev­er far from my con­sid­er­a­tion. It’s so dif­fi­cult for me not to be filled with sor­row bor­der­ing on hope­less­ness as I per­ceive a con­tin­u­al and accel­er­at­ing decline, and find lit­tle to give hope of a return to san­i­ty and health. Virginia’s arti­cle took me into the deep­est regions of that dark val­ley as she describes a mes­sage-board for women who glee­ful­ly dis­cuss their extra­mar­i­tal affairs: hav­ing them, lov­ing them, jus­ti­fy­ing them, plan­ning them, recount­ing them, feel­ing enti­tled to them, encour­ag­ing one anoth­er to greater depths of betray­al, etc. She con­trasts it with a sec­ond mes­sage-board for women* who are try­ing to sur­vive being betrayed by their spouse.

My smidgen of hope is engen­dered by her choos­ing to explore/expose this dif­fi­cult sub­ject in a main­stream forum and wasn’t afraid to be hon­est and call the bad bad and speak truth regard­ing the ter­ri­bly self­ish immoral hate­ful behav­iors and the hor­ri­ble pain they cause oth­ers… to be hon­est and say that it’s unequiv­o­cal­ly wrong. Maybe that’s part of the answer to turn­ing stam­ped­ing herd that is rush­ing head­long for cliff’s edge… peo­ple stand­ing up and clear­ly say­ing, “This is wrong. It’s hate­ful, self­ish, imma­ture and despi­ca­ble. It’s wrong and there’s absolute­ly no jus­ti­fy­ing or ratio­nal­iz­ing it.” What a gift to those who have oper­at­ed under these lies so very long with the rest of the world cheer­ing them on to new depths of depraved inhu­man behav­ior.

She doesn’t stop there how­ev­er. She goes on to out­line efforts she intends to make to be cer­tain that she is pro­tect­ing and build­ing her own mar­riage… not things she sees that need fix­ing in her spouse, but extra efforts she her­self plans to make to grow her­self and her mar­riage. If any­thing, I sus­pect this final bit may be of even greater val­ue to those liv­ing the lie than even her speak­ing truth to the lie. I could see this find­ing chinks in hard­ened hearts and expos­ing self-decep­tions that might have stood unex­am­ined indef­i­nite­ly. The thing that seems to be most feared by per­sons of a moral-rel­a­tivist human­is­tic bent is self-exam­i­na­tion. Denied pre-knowl­edge on a much-sup­pressed hon­est lev­el, that they would -not- like what they would find, fills them with a ter­ror-dri­ven goal to avoid such an exer­cise at all cost. Per­haps her crit­i­cal self-exam­i­na­tion will be ignored just deter­mined­ly as the usu­al frontal-attack on their lifestyle, but I have hope to the con­trary.

Even if the results on the heart of one who reads and absorbs her per­son­al explo­ration is not imme­di­ate­ly and dras­ti­cal­ly felt, it may be that what Ravi Zachara­ias says is true of the appli­ca­tion of apolo­get­ics on a hard­ened spir­i­tu­al heart may also be true of her efforts on a hard­ened rela­tion­al heart. He states that apolo­get­ics can only take you so far and no fur­ther in many cas­es. He said that it is rare if not unheard-of to -argue- an athe­is­tic heart into belief in God. Over the years he’s been told by many for­mer-athe­ists that such argu­ments, while admit­ted­ly hav­ing some small influ­ence on their shift, were not the cause of or impe­tus behind the shift.

* No indi­ca­tion if there are sim­i­lar com­mu­ni­ties of dev­as­tat­ed men.

Jesus Christ — the youngest minichurch pastor in history

Bare­bones min­i­mum, yes?
Does the gospel need a $300,000 sound/lighting/video sys­tem to reach hearts?

Is the gospel rel­e­vant to the heart of some­one today, or must it be made rel­e­vant with pithy grit­ty angst, a rock-con­cert atmos­phere, and the Holy Spir­it rid­ing the back of the mega-church smoke machines?

I dis­cov­ered that I have a mail­box at church last week, or rather that the A/V Min­istry does. This is appar­ent­ly a fix­ture estab­lished for two rea­sons. The first is for the mem­ber [dear­ly loved] of the con­gre­ga­tion who reminds me near­ly every week that our 87dB wor­ship ser­vice is too loud and pro­hib­i­tive to wor­ship. I found a col­lec­tion of pho­to­copied jour­nal arti­cles and even jour­nals them­selves with bits cir­cled and notes paper-clipped to pages out­lin­ing the dan­gers of expo­sure to heavy sound pres­sure lev­els. *chuck­le* I feel bad because there were some con­tri­bu­tions that had sat there lan­guish­ing unread for a long while. The sec­ond pur­pose is to serve as a place to stick all the adverts and cat­a­logs from sound/lighting/video/production sup­pli­ers.

In perus­ing the pages of these full-col­or glossy tomes, I ran across tes­ti­mo­ni­als from church­es that had been helped by the catalog’s com­pa­ny. It was appar­ent that the answer to these ques­tions was indeed, ‘yes’. The pho­tos from these installs showed booths and stages that a pop-record­ing mega-artist and their sound-tech would feel quite at home with­in when per­form­ing.

I am a crea­ture of ADD extremes, flights of fan­cy, bursts of strong (some­times unwar­rant­ed, often­times inad­vis­able) emo­tion. I know this. God knows this. My friends and fam­i­ly bless me (Thank you. I love you. Thank you God) with an atti­tude sim­i­lar to that which we Mis­souri­ans express towards our capri­cious weath­er… “If you don’t like it, wait five min­utes.” That’s not to say that I’m an unteth­ered kite being blown by a storm with no emotional/intellectual anchor. Quite the con­trary… I just have a heart that rush­es on ahead and a mind that labors to catch it up and remind it that has again run away with­out a prayer con­sult, and left all the notes and lessons learned behind, sit­ting use­less­ly in a dis­card­ed back­pack. The teth­er and the anchor are there, there’s just a regret­table amount of slack in the line that usu­al­ly runs-out with a semi-painful ‘snap’.

I had a few hours of per­son­al cri­sis. Despair, dis­gust, sor­row. I just want­ed to turn in my mon­i­tor­ing phones along with my 2 weeks notice. This last­ed, for­tu­nate­ly, only a few hours, before rea­son reassert­ed itself and I was able to view my own goals to repair, expand, and oth­er­wise meet the mod­est ‘needs’ of our Sun­day ser­vice, with a peace­ful con­fi­dence that our answers to those ques­tions, if asked, would be a sim­ple, ‘no’, and if ever we stray into that men­tal­i­ty, we have only to reeval­u­ate and tell our­selves ‘no’.

It helped to have the clear words of Ravi Zacharais from a few days ear­li­er to remind me that the peo­ple that I turn to and trust for good teach­ing and insight into mat­ters of faith aren’t caught up in this trou­ble­some church mindset/trend:

The Lord’s affir­ma­tion of the phys­i­cal and spir­i­tu­al tells me there’s a place for my body to be used right­ly… and there’s a place for my spir­i­tu­al depth… and when those two con­verge, you’ve found the beau­ty of wor­ship. You’ve found it. …and a church that thinks we can only wor­ship if we get our­selves all hyped-up in music is an extreme. It’s not going to work. What you win them with is what you win them to.

Here’s the bot­tom line I want to make for you: The ratio­nal­ist had an angle at truth. The Exis­ten­tial­ist had an angle at truth. The Empiri­cist had an angle at truth. The prob­lem was in tak­ing this sin­gle line, they blocked off all the oth­ers… and the church that only goes for the intel­lect is going to send out dry peo­ple… that only goes for emo­tion… is going to send peo­ple bounc­ing around with no mind. You’ve got to bring all of these real­i­ties and con­verge into a com­pos­ite whole. That’s what the Chris­t­ian ought to do best in this world.”

Ravi Zacharias, “Engag­ing Cul­tures with Con­ver­sa­tions that Count, part 2″ @15:39 Pre­vi­ous Arti­cle

David Platt described his real­iza­tion thus in his book “Rad­i­cal: Tak­ing Back Your Faith from the Amer­i­can Dream”

The youngest megachurch pas­tor in his­to­ry.”

While I would dis­pute that claim it was nonethe­less the label giv­en to me when I went to pas­tor a large, thriv­ing church in the Deep South — the Church at Brook Hills in Birm­ing­ham, Alaba­ma. From the first day I was immersed in strate­gies for mak­ing the church big­ger and bet­ter. Authors I respect great­ly would make state­ments such as, “Decide how big you want your church to be, and go for it, whether that’s five, ten, or twen­ty thou­sand mem­bers.” Soon my name was near the top of the list of pas­tors of the fastest-grow­ing U.S. church­es. There I was… liv­ing out the Amer­i­can church dream.

But I found myself becom­ing uneasy. For one thing, my mod­el in min­istry is a guy who spent the major­i­ty of his min­istry time with twelve men. A guy who, when he left this earth, had only about 120 peo­ple who were actu­al­ly stick­ing around and doing what he told them to do. More like a minichurch, real­ly. Jesus Christ — the youngest minichurch pas­tor in his­to­ry.

So how was I to rec­on­cile the fact that I was now pas­tor­ing thou­sands of peo­ple with the fact that my great­est exam­ple in min­istry was known for turn­ing away thou­sands of peo­ple? When­ev­er the crowd got big, he’d say some­thing such as “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” Not exact­ly the sharpest church-growth tac­tic. I can almost pic­ture the looks on the dis­ci­ples’ faces. “No, not the drink-my-blood speech! We’ll nev­er get on the list of the fastest grow­ing move­ments if you keep ask­ing them to eat you.”

By the end of that speech, all the crowds had left, and only twelve men remained. Jesus appar­ent­ly wasn’t inter­est­ed in mar­ket­ing him­self to the mass­es. His invi­ta­tions to poten­tial fol­low­ers were clear­ly more cost­ly than the crowds were ready to accept and he seemed to be okay with that. He focused instead on the few who believed him when he said rad­i­cal things. And through their rad­i­cal obe­di­ence to him, he turned the course of his­to­ry in a new direc­tion.

Soon I real­ized I was on a col­li­sion course with an Amer­i­can church cul­ture where suc­cess is defined by big­ger crowds, big­ger bud­gets, and big­ger build­ings. I was now con­front­ed with a star­tling real­i­ty: Jesus actu­al­ly spurned the things that my church cul­ture said were the most impor­tant. So what was I to do?

I’m still trou­bled, but I think that’s a good thing. As Lewis says in Mere Chris­tian­i­ty, “We have cause to be uneasy.” and ” And I think if you look at the present state of the world, it is pret­ty plain that human­i­ty has been mak­ing some big mis­take. We are on the wrong road. And if that is so, we must go back. Going back is the quick­est way on.”. I want to stay uneasy. I don’t want to fall asleep. I want, at the very least, when I get excit­ed and think, “This would be so cool for our sound sys­tem.” to ever have a voice that reminds me to ask myself (and God), if the Gospel needs my tech, or even my tech­nique. Am I help­ing, or would I help more just by get­ting out of the way?

The sin­gle great­est cause of athe­ism in the world today is Chris­tians, who acknowl­edge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbe­liev­ing world sim­ply finds unbe­liev­able” — Bren­nan Man­ning

Happy Birthday — Flipsyde

From the heav­ens to the womb to the heav­ens again
From the endin’ to the endin’, nev­er got to begin
Maybe one day we could meet face to face
In a place with­out time and space, hap­py birth­day

This song real­ly touch­es me. It’s an incred­i­bly pow­er­ful and hon­est self-con­fes­sion to his unborn child about a choice he’s come to regret as so many do. He has the courage to express what so many feel yet nev­er share. If all these voic­es were to speak aloud they would deaf­en those spread­ing the non­sen­si­cal lies that few if any women and men suf­fer from hav­ing cho­sen to abort their baby. I praise God for this man’s courage and for giv­ing him a tal­ent that [here at least, I’m unfa­mil­iar with his oth­er work] he chose to redeem.

Ozymandias

Per­cy Bysshe Shel­ley

I met a trav­eller from an antique land
Who said: ‘Two vast and trun­k­less legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shat­tered vis­age lies, whose frown,
And wrin­kled lip, and sneer of cold com­mand,
Tell that its sculp­tor well those pas­sions read
Which yet sur­vive, stamped on these life­less things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear –
“My name is Ozy­man­dias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Noth­ing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colos­sal wreck, bound­less and bare
The lone and lev­el sands stretch far away.’

— Per­cy Bysshe Shel­ley

A Gem to Store in my Hearthoard

With great joy I now real­ize that I would much rather spend the remain­der of my life know­ing, desir­ing, hav­ing found, but nev­er hav­ing, than instead reach the the ter­mi­nus know­ing that for all my seek­ing, I nev­er found it, nev­er knew it, and yes, per­haps ques­tion­ing if I had done all that I could have done to find and if I had been faith­ful to myself and that which is truth.

I Want to Fit into My Birthday Suit

Oh I was much cuter than this even!
Oh I was much cuter than this!

I want to fit into my Birth­day Suit.
It used to be small and soft and cute.
It fit like a glove with room in the boot.
Yes, I want to fit into my Birth­day Suit.

I could buy an ensem­ble off Sav­ile Row;
Dou­ble-breast­ed with waistco’t; gold but­tons in row;
Fash­ioned and tai­lored with savoir-know;
It’d cost lots of mon­ey and con­tain all my dough.

Gone are the days when first it was fine;
Now stretched, dis­tort­ed, all bezi­er lines.
The vol­ume inte­gral I can­not define.
Rem­i­nisc­ing my sal­ad days [pureéd], when first it was mine.

Stretched thin in places, and dart­ed mid­way;
Taut on the ends, sup­port cate­nary sway.
Avian foot­prints imprint both my eyes;
and invert­ed horse­shoe lack­luck­sters my smile.

Twice the com­pli­ment;
Allot­ted just one.
My beard-holder’s dou­bled;
With more like to come.

Fur­ni­ture Dis­ease, diag­nosed not in time;
No treat­ment or ton­ic may halt the decline.
Grav­i­ta­tion. Migra­tion. Direc­tion? The floors;
What once was my chest, occu­pies now my draw­ers.

I sup­pose I’ll just have to love what I’ve got;
Con­tent with evi­dences of bat­tles well fought.
Sure, right, tat­tered, bat­tered, in places thread­bare;
The darned thing a patch­work of sewn notions of care.

The elbows gone shiny; cuff but­tons not there;
I know not the when, less know I the where.
Rum­pled and crum­pled with creas­es and tears;
Rump fab­ric well felt­ed where pos­te­ri­or meets chair.

I real­ize it now. I have all I’ve sought;
A life­time of love, won­der­ful mem­o­ries wrought;
My Birth­day Suit giv­en, but this one, I bought;
I don’t miss what I once had, near much as I thought.

luck­lasters?

Boxed it All Up and Put it Away for Good

BoxOnTheShelf-CleanedUp-180x180

No longer strewn across my life,
Men­tal dross to trip and fall.
Reminders of the long ago,
Hang not upon each wall.

Gath­ered in a card­board box,
Packed and ordered well.
Flaps fold­ed in and inter­locked,
Form cor­ru­gat­ed shell.

Place upon a stor­age shelf,
Away from thought and mind.
Dis­card­ed not, dis­turb­ing not,
From now till end of time.

Redeem for Joy (unfinished)

Redeem for Joy (Work­ing title, work in progress)

An econ­o­my estab­lished, most frag­ile;
Nay Smith, nor Fried­man, but God.
Bespoke of His heart, when time became time;
In gar­den where feet divine trod.

A bal­ance con­trived by holy design;
In pairs to be joined one to one.
Nev­er again to be sep­a­rate, till death us do part;
Togeth­er until life is done.

Untouched it would remain per­fect;
The GDP both joy and life.
These prod­ucts; har­vest of such union;
When man doth cleave he to wife.

Now enter a ser­pent most dead­ly;
With him lies and cor­rup­tion of heart.
Emo­tions, desires, self­ish­ness inspires;
That serve to tear them apart.

——

And here inspi­ra­tion fails me… I’m think­ing that it may be that in God’s econ­o­my, we are giv­en but a sin­gle mar­riage token to wise­ly invest. I see in Gen­e­sis that God estab­lish­es Man and Woman and Mar­riage… all a sim­ple straight­for­ward plan for which He had to make Man and Woman. I see that man devi­at­ed from that plan often in the Old Tes­ta­ment by prac­tic­ing plu­ral­i­ty, but nev­er ever does God endorse that devi­a­tion, and usu­al­ly in every exam­ple there’s a lit­tle moral­i­ty tale of that devi­a­tion caus­ing no end of heartache and trou­ble. When Christ speaks of mar­riage in the New Tes­ta­ment he basi­cal­ly says, “The mod­el you were giv­en was…” and then quotes the estab­lish­ment of mar­riage from Gen­e­sis. He men­tions that because of your hard hearts, devi­a­tions were tol­er­at­ed (but nev­er endorsed… mar­riage was nev­er ‘rat­i­fied’ to include man’s amend­ments). The the addi­tion­al treat­ments of this top­ic by Paul speak of the ide­al and then he goes on to pro­vide some per­son­al thoughts on how to han­dle the prob­lems that come from sit­u­a­tions that fail the ide­al… He takes pains to say that he’s not speak­ing words giv­en him by the Holy Spir­it, so even that advice is not ‘canon’ or mod­i­fi­ca­tion of the orig­i­nal design. I real­ly strug­gle with this top­ic… espe­cial­ly because near­ly the entire world tells me that I’m dead wrong on this, but I keep com­ing back to these things in scrip­ture that seem to me… to me… to say oth­er­wise.

Unbegun Symphony of Promise

Hand Dirt Seedling Gift Refrain:
They saw the har­vest inside me.
They saw what was not there to see.
Pur­pose which God embed­ded with­in;
Cre­at­ed with promise to be.
The seed the farmer reject­ed;
Hull and husk long fall­en and gone;
The sur­face pit­ted and bat­tered;
Dis­card­ed, deemed worth­less and done.

So small the seed hold­ing promise;
Which for lack of nur­ture and sun;
For rich soil nev­er embrac­ing;
Ger­mi­na­tion nev­er begun.

[Refrain]
Giv’n them­selves as His instru­ment;
Samar­i­tans on the stark lane,
Upon which lay, dis­card­ed ker­nel,
Hope­less. Wretched. Con­sumed by pain.

God’s sor­row-filled heart appar­ent;
The song He put there unsung.
Yearn­ing to see the seed plant­ed;
The pre­lude well writ­ten begun.

[Refrain]
Redeemed by hand of a stranger.
Exam­ined through lens of God’s love.
Found there what oth­ers were miss­ing,
Hid­den in quo­tid­i­an shell.

Warm embrace of earth enclos­ing;
Show­ered with unde­served love;
Radi­ant grace of accep­tance;
Infus­ing the core from above.

[Refrain]
Slow­ly the shell starts to soft­en;
New growth break­ing free from with­in.
The process now set into motion;
God’s sym­pho­ny of joy begins.

Secure roots of hope descend­ing;
Sup­port­ing as shoot starts to raise;
Bursts forth from cocoon­ing seedbed;
Lift­ing dicotyl arms in praise.

[Refrain]

This is writ­ten as a poor attempt to express bound­less grat­i­tude to my friends and fam­i­ly, the love and accep­tance of which, have tak­en me from the bro­ken, hope­less, joy­less, and rather feck­less man of recent past, to some­one who is begin­ning to embrace life and full of joy and the knowl­edge that God has a pur­pose for him.

A dear friend of mine, Allena Volk­say Yates, blessed me by putting this to a tune, which may be heard here.

Looking Back

Look­ing at him the way she used to look at me.
I knew that look was only for me.
Could only then be for me;
Could only ever be for me.
That look told me that I need nev­er doubt
and would nev­er need to seek or fear again.
The words under­scored and rein­forced the look.
The look is no longer turned upon me.
I look upon the emp­ty void, and I sor­row.

It’s good to be able to share this here on PoaM in the now and indeed, be able to Look Back and see the ter­ri­ble hurt I was expe­ri­enc­ing then, whilst being able to Look Now and see the heal­ing God has blessed me with, and hav­ing con­fi­dence as I Look For­ward that, even if there are more such sor­rows, there will be more such love, heal­ing and bless­ing.

Tatterdemalion Mended

Left but vapor, will-the-wisp in air.
Tat­ter­de­malion rem­nants; trans­par­ent, ethe­re­al, hard­ly there.

Gath’ring in what’s left, a soul mis­placed;
A scrap, a shred, a cast-off trace.

So light, insub­stan­tial, in hands cupped safe.
Away from harm in Savior’s grace.

So gen­tle must the gath­er be; Crush not to dust, the frag­ments frail.
Care­ful. Find each tiny piece.  Over­look but one and fail.

Nur­ture spark in tin­der bed, fuel for growth now being fed.
Gen­tly blow, give life by breath. Fan the flame that coun­ters death.

Place back with­in the hol­low shell. Seam the tear. Mend it well.
Mas­sage full well ‘till felt to beat. Restored now soul and heart com­plete.

My heart may not remain bro­ken with God’s heal­ing touch.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “Tat­ter­de­malion Mend­ed”

We

    Play­ing at house; pre­tend hus­band and wife.
    If this works out well, we’ll make it for life.
    And if it unrav­els, at least we had fun.

                                                              Didn’t we?
 
    We said pret­ty things to cap­ture a heart;
    Sin­cere for the moment, play­ing a part.
    The thresh­old passed, no path­way back.
    Joined and com­mit­ted.

                                                            Weren’t we?
 
    But where have you gone? The fan­ta­sy lost.
    Summer’s warmth over, panes crazed with the frost.
    The silence now speaks, in deaf­en­ing voice.
    But we’re still in love; still each oth­ers’ choice.

                                                             Aren’t we?
 
    Fun while it last­ed. But mov­ing ahead.
    Find­ing new play­mates to pre­tend to wed.
    What we had was spe­cial, no one could replace.
    Our dream plays again.

                         Now with­out me.
 
    Anoth­er wound, to hide deep inside.
    So many scars, tears of flesh, tears of eye.
    Betray­al of heart; pain rend­ing wide.
    But we’ve healed.

                                                            Haven’t we?
 
Inspired par­tial­ly by Joshua Har­ris’ “I Kissed Dat­ing Good­bye” and “Does Any­body Hear Her” by Cast­ing Crowns. June 23, 2011
 
I don’t usu­al­ly wri… I -don’t- write poet­ry. This rather came on it’s own. Not fan­tas­tic prose, but it was mean­ing­ful for me. June 27, 2011

[I guess I did start writ­ing poet­ry after this first out­pour­ing. I don’t know if it’s good, but it makes me hap­py and it helps to take it out and fash­ion some­thing from it rather than leav­ing it block­ing things up inside. July 30, 2013]