Two poems

I haven't been posting because I've been working on my poetry.  It's ironic that one of my #finishyear goals is getting in the way of another one.  The first poem has been ridiculously stubborn, but I'm happy with how the second one turned out.  Enjoy!  I'll be back to regular posting on Friday.


All things were made through Him.
Without Him, nothing that has been made
Would have been made,
And all that has been made
Is sustained by His Glory
His Weight
The Gravity that holds stars and planets and moons
in place
And choreographs the cosmic dance.

All in accordance
With the word of the Word
Who spoke "Let there be"
And there was.

But what is man?
Ashes and dust
A flower in the field
A breath
A passing shadow
And yet that breath came from the very lungs of God
And though a shadow in the Valley of Shadows,
I shall not want.

Winter Dusk in Orange County
Slow, but Deliberate,
the Distant Artist  tints
the once-azure expanse
ombre shades of red, orange, and yellow
Before disappearing in the West
Behind a parking structure,
Making way for the Winged Stallion,
Hunter, Lion, Bear, and
Southwest Airlines.

Psalm 20

You know how sometimes you read a passage of Scripture, but the words feel foreign to you?  You know that the words are true, but it's difficult to connect with them.  I'm having one of those moments today reading Psalm 20.

You see, my law school experienced its second depression-related death in a month.  It's a small community to begin with.  When the first died, it was a tragedy.  After the second?  There are no words.  Those who remain know and understand the stress of law school.  We know, too, that there is also life outside of law school, which comes with trials of its own. 

People want answers.  But more than answers, they want to know that everything is OK.  That their loved ones are "in a better place."  That they are "looking down on us."  That one day, we'll all be reunited again.  People don't really want answers.  They want reassurance.

And I can't give it to them.

That's why passages like this are hard.

"May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble!
    May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!"

"May he grant you your heart's desire
    and fulfill all your plans!"

These are blessings and prayers.

Not promises.

We will experience trials and suffering of all kinds.  1 Peter 1 tells us this.  We serve a man who was poor, and homeless, and who allowed himself to be murdered.  No man is greater than his master.

But there IS a promise we can hold onto:

Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed;
    he will answer him from his holy heaven
    with the saving might of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
     but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
They collapse and fall,
    but we rise and stand upright.

We can trust God for what we need.  I have salvation, and these deaths make me so much more thankful for this gift I did not deserve.  The gift I could not take for myself.  The gift given to me, and that I have received.  And because I have been given that gift, because I have received His spirit as the seal of my inheritance, I know that I am anointed.  I know that the Lord will save me.

There are many things that vie for my trust, but I will trust in the name of the Lord my God.

Therefore, I can "shout for joy" over my salvation.

Psalm 17-19

Yikes, I'm way behind.  My health hasn't been that great lately due to the trifecta of awful nutrition, exercise, and sleep, which explains why I don't have a ton of extra energy to devote to blogging right now.  I'm determined to follow through with the Psalms, though.

Today what I'm doing is creating a new Psalm out of 17-19.  Many times the Psalms become familiar to us through reading and repetition.  For me, I have a number of the Psalms memorized, so it is far too easy to gloss over the Truth.  Instead of reading each Psalm as a chunk, I read these Psalms phrase-by-phrase and reassembled it into a new poem.

Wondrously show your steadfast love,
O Savior of those who seek refuge
from their adversaries at your right hand.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;
when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.
The Lord also thundered in the heavens,
and the Most High uttered his voice,
hailstones and coals of fire.
He bowed the heavens and came down;
thick darkness was under his feet.
He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him,
thick clouds dark with water.

I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress. 
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me! 
Then I shall be blameless, 
and innocent of great transgression.
The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness; 
according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me.  
For I have kept the ways of the Lord,
and have not wickedly departed from my God.
With the merciful you show yourself merciful;
with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;
with the purified you show yourself pure;
and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.
For you save a humble people,
but the haughty eyes you bring down.

For who is God, but the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God?—
the God who equipped me with strength
and made my way blameless.
He made my feet like the feet of a deer
and set me secure on the heights.
The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock,
and exalted be the God of my salvation—
The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes; 
the fear of the Lord is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
For this I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations,
and sing to your name.
Great salvation he brings to his king,
and shows steadfast love to his anointed.

Why I am in Love

This was a Facebook note I wrote back in 2008, but it's just as true now as it was then.  I'm actually surprised it never made it to the blog, but it is now!

I am in love because my sworn enemy became my friend.

I am in love because the one I rejected accepted me.

I am in love because the one I hated loved me first.

I am in love because when I was dead, my Savior died to gave me life.

I am in love because the Creator of beauty embraced this child of Chernobyl.

I am in love because God is not hiding from those who seek Him but rather seeks them out and is ready to save.

I am in love because while I was blind to my blindness, foolish to my folly, and hard to my hardness, God gave me new eyes to see His beauty, a new mind to understand His grace, a new heart of flesh to receive His love.

I am in love because even after this initial act, God has never failed me. He who watches over me never slumbers nor sleeps. He gives me the feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to go on the heights. He restores my soul. He puts out a table before me in the presence of my enemies and anoints my head with oil. He works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose, for no plan of His will be thwarted. He is good and His love endures forever. His faithfulness continues for generations.

I am in love because my God is a God of love. He shows His love in this:

Every person who has ever lived on earth wages a war against God by living according to their own desires and not acknowledging His presence and priority in their lives, is headed straight to hell of their own volition. By choice, they reject the God who created them in favor of their own pursuits. By choice, they choose hell over God. But God, in His love and grace and mercy, awakens people to their condition and calls them to Himself. To overcome the magnitude of treason against God present in people's lives, He offered none other than Himself, for He alone is able to mediate.

Jesus, being God, became a man and lived among man. Not only did He leave the glory of heaven to become a man, but He also let Himself be killed by men. When He died, Jesus also took upon Himself the sins of the world. This means that He received the punishment for sin that the people of the world should have received. He, in essence, "paid the price." We as people, because of our sin, have a debt before God that we can never repay, but Christ, on the cross, paid our spiritual debt. Not only that, but His spiritual righteousness, His holiness or lack of sin, is then attributed to those who accept His payment in their stead.

If a person believes that Jesus took away the punishment for their sins and comes to Him and asks forgiveness for warring with God, that person is given "new life:" new desires, a new heart, a new mind, a new way of thinking, and a new way of living. That person not only is forgiven, but is changed!

I am in love because this is the work that Christ has done in me. If you're also in love, let others know about your love, and if you're wondering about this love and what it all means, don't be shy to ask :D

Psalm 16

Panic.  Sheer panic is the emotion flooding through me when I think about my schedule this week.

"Preserve me O God, for in you I take refuge."  This prayer speaks so powerfully to me right now.  If I took refuge in my success, or the volume of my work output, or even mere competency- I would be left without refuge.  I have nothing, and am nothing.  And that's OK.  Because I am loved.

I have no good apart from God...but I have God.  What a powerful, encouraging truth!  When I run after my idols, I will fail.  I will neither attain them, nor will they satisfy.  My sorrows multiply and the panic sets in.

But when I run after God, I shall not want.  He restores my soul.  I am led and cared for and loved.  He has chosen my cup, and it overflows.  I feast, and am satisfied.  I will not be shaken because I stand on Christ, the solid rock.  My heart is glad because He is the joy of my salvation.

Psalm 15

A series of questions for thought and meditation

  • Do you view God as esteemed atop a "holy hill"?
  • Is that hill a place you want to be?
  • How is/ are your:
    • walk with Christ?
    • thoughts?
    • feelings?
    • relationships?
  • How do you view:
    • sin?
    • righteousness?
    • money/ possessions?
Are you anchored, or are you easily moved?

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

Psalm 14

This one's really similar to Psalm 10, huh?  As a bit of a writer, myself, I wonder if David sat down and cranked these all out at once.  Or maybe it was something that weighed heavily on his mind, and he went back to the topic on multiple occasions.  Since I feel like a lot of what I said for Psalm 10 is applicable here, I'll leave you with the link and take a different spin on things.

Are you an atheist?  If you're reading this blog, I'm guessing that you're not.  But have you heard the phrase "functional atheism?"  That is, are there times where you think and act like an atheist, despite your well-rehearsed Sunday school answers?

I've heard it said that when we sin, we become "functional atheists."  It sounds weird at first, but on second thought, it makes a bit of sense.  Why do we sin?  We sin because we forget God.  We forget who He is, what He's done, and who we are before Him.  We act like he doesn't exist.  We may be Christians, but functionally, we're pretending God doesn't exist (or doesn't care).

The fool does two things: say there is no God, and does abominable deeds.  That's not to say that "atheists can't be moral," but atheists sin.  So do we- and when we do, it is as if, in that moment, we're atheists.

We are commanded to press on heavenward, toward the goal in Christ Jesus, to not become weary in doing good, and to be like Christ, who joyfully accomplished the task set before him.  But that's hard.  It's easy to turn aside, pushing away the knowledge of God's goodness and holiness to make room for our own desires.

But God is with the righteous.  If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus the Son cleanses us from all sin.  So don't be an atheist who denies God, a deist who doesn't believe in God's desire for a relationship, or a humanist who believes we're all basically good.  There are none who do good, but there is a God of goodness who produces goodness in us.  Believe in Him, abide in him, and receive strength from the vine.

Psalm 13

In biology, there is a technique called polymerase chain reaction (PMR) where a small piece of DNA is amplified to generate thousands, or even millions, of copies.  During this process, the original DNA's characteristics are exponentially magnified, so there is enough DNA to actually test it for a certain trait. 

Sometimes when I feel angry or frustrated or depressed, I will complain to myself.  But in the process of complaining to myself, what is a relatively small incident becomes replicated in my mind million-fold.  Like DNA in PMR, my own sins of pride or self-entitlement become magnified with each reiteration.  I become more and more self-righteous...and I become more and more discouraged.

David had plenty of reasons to be discouraged.  But instead of complaining to himself (or complaining to others), he talks to God.  Instead of being anxious, he brings his requests before God in thanksgiving.  David knows who God is, who he is, and that he has the right and the privilege to humbly ask God for an answer.

And instead of multiplying his misery, he finds peace.

So before you complain to yourself, ask yourself the following questions:
Who is God to you?  Who are you to God?  What is it that you seek?

Psalm 12

Sometimes it seems like there's just no goodness in the world.  That no one is faithful, true, or genuine.  The secular poem Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold expresses the same sentiment:

...For the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

It seems that David felt much the same way on the occasion where he wrote this Psalm.  Elijah, too, felt the same way- even right after calling fire from the sky and shaming the prophets of Baal.  And remember Jesus?  He, the only holy person to ever walk on earth, was crucified by sinful men while his disciples scattered in fear, doubt, and shame.

But what does David do here?  He does not wallow in his fear and doubt.  He prays.  He has an unshakable faith in God's goodness and willingness to answer.  He holds on to the words of God and the truth of God.

So though the world seems to lie before us like a land of dreams, let us proclaim the truth of God and the reality of Scripture:

5 “Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan,
   I will now arise,” says the LORD;
   “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.”
6 The words of the LORD are pure words,
   like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
   purified seven times.
 7 You, O LORD, will keep them;
   you will guard us[b] from this generation forever.
8 On every side the wicked prowl,
   as vileness is exalted among the children of man.

Psalm 11

This will seem like a cop-out, but I'm really stunned by the language of this Psalm so I'll just leave you with the text.  Take a read:

 1 In the LORD I take refuge;
how can you say to my soul,
   “Flee like a bird to your mountain,
2 for behold, the wicked bend the bow;
   they have fitted their arrow to the string
   to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart;
3 if the foundations are destroyed,
   what can the righteous do?”[a]
 4 The LORD is in his holy temple;
   the LORD's throne is in heaven;
   his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.
5 The LORD tests the righteous,
   but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.
6 Let him rain coals on the wicked;
   fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.
7 For the LORD is righteous;
he loves righteous deeds;
   the upright shall behold his face.