Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Song of a Friend

My heart it was heavy today.
It sagged heavy to the well of tears,
Pressing them to leak over,
Tears rolling, rolling steady.
Deep breath in, “I can manage, be strong.”
Put a little make-up—a covering—on.
“Don’t show weakness, it’s not a good time.”
Most inconvenient these rebel tears shine.
“My Lord, I just need Thee.”
“No, darling, you were grafted to a tree.”
A tree without branches indeed would be ill.
“Going alone was never My will.”
“Could You just hold me?” this prayer did I send.
“Feel My arms in the embrace of a friend.”
Sweet friend did answer
My last minute call.
With tea and dark chocolate listened to all—
All my tears, all my honest mess.
Crying together did this friend bless.
“Thank You,” I prayed on the night drive home,
“for keeping the future yet unknown.”
To know not is to need to lean—

To lean on You and on Your tree.

Photo from

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Some Poems

Heart’s Cry
My Bridegroom God
My Lord, my King
You have pierced my heart
Made me weep
Heart so full, words scarce can tell
I bow my knees
Conform my will
I fear, I tremble, I melt
You strengthen, You call, You help
I gaze, eyes wide with wonder
Dreams of my heart cherished by You
This greater Yes
Birth of an adventure
Planned, written, and guarded by You
A longing born, a fire lit
God Himself in me did knit
This ache for Him and Him alone
O win this heart
You’ve won my soul
Wholly dependent on Christ alone
Seal with blood, for Glory atoned
Only Lord, this my plea
Keep me close, close to Thee

Still Point
O patient Friend, loving God
Thou bids me lift mine eyes upward
How quickly though these lids do fall
Won’t Thee fasten them Christward

When all I perceive be troubles and woes
Thou calls to me gently, “Lift thine eyes.”
Though that around me is yet unchanged
I now see mercy ‘stead of worries rise

When tides break and billows roll
And earth quakes, unmoved are You
When batteries of life hammer their toll
I look to Thee, ever true

“Be still,” Thou calls, “Be still and know.
Exalted among the earth I’ll be
Though mountains melt and earth gives way
My wonders and glories thine eye will see.”

When that day comes, my heart at rest
Mine eyes shall see, my lips shall sing
All honor, glory, and power be
Ascribed to Thee, my matchless King

 Long have you slept, O heart of mine
Unaware of songs humming through time
Eyes not opened to His design
Faithful was He, failed not to refine

He has stood sentinel to thee
Guarding, cherishing the seed of dreams
Mercy whispered, eyes to see
Ears to remember the wonder theme

Awake! Awake! O heart and see!
Awake and see that thou may sing!
Bid others also come and see
This beauty, mystery, galaxy

For this, this was I made
For this, this damned soul saved
To honor Him who made a way
To give Him glory every blessed day

Now heart of mine soar to tell
Of Him who rescued souls from Hell
He has won! It is well.
Death is beaten, sin is felled!

Christ is risen! Glory be!
Hallelujah to the King!
On that day all eyes shall see

See this man, Jesus King!

Photo from

Sunday, September 13, 2015

20 Seconds of Courage

"Sometimes you just need 20 seconds of courage, of just embarrassing bravery...and I promise you, something great will come of it." We Bought a Zoo

There is a water hole in North Carolina that I used to visit with my youth group. After about a mile's hike, you come upon a clearing and the welcoming roar of a waterfall. Jutting out in front of the waterfall is a rock about fifteen feet above the water's surface. To get to the rock you have to swim through a strong currant and then pull yourself up onto the slippery stone surface. I followed the other kids, receiving help swimming to the rock and gladly accepting hands pulling me out of the frigid water onto the boulder. I had watched several others jump off the rocks, some of the more athletically inclined performing back flips and fancy dives. "I can jump off this thing," I thought.  

Then I stood upon the ledge.

My stomach flipped. 

The drop looked a lot farther from up here than it did watching from the sidelines. Everything in my body did not want to jump. I had an internal battle right there. I shivered from the swim over, goose bumps covering my body. My teeth chattered. 

A friend came alongside me. Took my hand. "1...2...3!"


Falling. Falling. 

I pierced the water and plunged deeper than I expected. It felt like a long time before gravity yanked my body back through the water's surface. I gasped for air...and smiled. "That was so fun!" 

Something about the fear and pushing through it made me feel so alive. 

Obedience is like that. There have been moments when I felt so sure the Lord was telling me to do confess a sin, have a hard conversation, or to talk to someone about Him...and everything in me didn't want to do it. I was terrified. I imagined all the negative things that could happen if I did. But every time I have obeyed I have never once regretted it.

When He calls us to do things, it’s scary. We resist. But when we jump...the result is exciting, invigorating, and rewarding. The greatest reward? Feeling His pleasure. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Jonathan Edwards, God's Wrath & Love, and the Extremity of the Gospel

Recently I had the opportunity to read several people's responses to Jonathan Edwards' "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." The 18th century preacher's sermon gives example after example of God's impending wrath toward sinners, yet in each instance His wrath is withheld for the time being. The time is coming, though, Edwards warns his audience, when mercy will no longer be available and all those outside of Christ will suffer eternally. Yet now, the door of mercy is open and Christ stands, beckoning sinners to come to Him.

Many of these people's reactions to Edwards' sermon showed annoyance, disagreement, and offense. They argued, "A loving God wouldn't send people to Hell," "Everyone makes mistakes but that doesn't make people evil," "If you live a good life and help others God will let you into Heaven," or "God is loving and therefore He will let people into Heaven who deserve it."

I've been sitting on their words for a couple of days. I imagine their responses are probably quite representative of the American opinion at large. Oh America, but what a cheap view of God's love is this! If I am nice to you because you are nice to me how am I showing anything beyond simple civility? But if you rob from me and insult me and I still extend kindness to you, is that not more meaningful? If God's love is demonstrated in that He admits 'good people' into Heaven because they deserve it, how is that love? Is that not simply fairness or obligation?  But if "God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" how great indeed is His love (Romans 5:8)!

So often we avoid the topic of God's wrath like an elephant in the room. But it is only when we comprehend the severity--and justness--of His wrath, and our complete and utter depravity, that we can truly appreciate and adore His love. Only when we behold our own unworthiness can we perceive the generosity of the gift! Oh that we would have eyes to see the beauty of the gospel!

"And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross" (Colossians 2:13-14).

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Looking for Home

Thirteen days ago I was on a plane that touched down on the runways of the Orlando airport. I had spent the past 46 days overseas. In some ways, that seems like a short time span. In other ways, it was a lifetime.

Coming back from a summer in Africa, touching down in Orlando, entering through U.S. customs, and riding the tram over the sunny palm tree dotted Florida, I quietly walked ahead. It felt less like a homecoming than I expected. A piece of me remained in that exotic continent. I cannot say I call Africa home. Still, America felt less like home to me than when I had left it a month and a half before. In a way, I felt a loss of place. I had changed. In my time gone, America had changed. My residency here felt a little more temporary. Riding in an AC-furnished vehicle on the interstate away from the airport, I saw America through different eyes. Not bad eyes. I still loved the country of my birth. But I had also experienced love for another continent.

How do you pick up the pieces of life in a place that was once all you knew? I haven’t figured it all out yet, but I think the answer lies in knowing that America—this country that I still ache and pray for—is not my home. Nor is that beautiful, black, vibrant country where I saw God in a new way. I fell in love with Jesus this summer. This loss of a place I feel has an answer. It is found in Him. My home is in Him. 

This verse has been speaking to me:

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches
us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” Titus 2:11-14

The age in which we now live is called the “present age.” It is present, it is now, but it is not forever. The verse says, “while we wait”; we are waiting. We are not complete. Not yet. It is common to humans to feel most at home with people they connect with, click with, the group they identify with. We use possessive pronouns—“my friends,” “my family,” “my country.” This is what Jesus has done for us. He gave Himself to redeem us…to purify us for Himself…that He would have a people that are His very own. Bought with His precious blood, we are His. Our hearts will never be at home until they are home with Him.

My parents have always said that homesickness is a good thing because it testifies to the bonds you have with those you miss. I want to be homesick for Jesus. I want to hasten His coming by spreading His gospel to the nations, including this nation in which I now find myself. I want to remember my true home. But I want to make the waiting count. This is not our forever home. But we are here on earth nonetheless. We are here for a reason. And we have work to do.

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