Category Archives: Poetry

What God says

On Wednesday we attended a choir festival. My granddaughter is in her school choir which was one of six high school choirs taking part.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

One of the songs performed was “You Say” by Lauren Daigle. I felt a deep affinity with the words.

“I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough

Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up

Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low

Remind me once again just who I am because I need to know

Ooh-oh

You say I am loved when I cant feel a thing

You say I am strong when I think I am weak

And you say I am held when I am falling short

And when I don’t belong, oh, You say I am Yours”

Jesus says about the devil, “When he lies he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)

Unfortunately we believe many of these lies – especially when they concern ourselves. The father of lies will tell us we are failures, we can’t do anything right, nobody loves us, we’ve been so bad that God will never forgive us and other similar lies. He will make us doubt our identity in Christ. “If you are really a Christian, you wouldn’t…” He even tried it with Jesus. “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread. ” (Luke 4:3 NIV,) or “If you are the son of God, throw yourself down” (from the pinnacle of the temple). (Matthew 4:6.) Each time Jesus countered with Scripture.

That’s what I love about this song. It tells us what God says.

We are loved. ” I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3 NIV,) “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Abide in my love.” (John 15 vs 9 ESV.)

We are strong in Christ. “I can do all things Through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13 NIV)

I know God is trying to teach me these truths at the moment. I was in Pick ‘n Pay, about to rush home after grabbing a quick lunch, when my phone rang. It was one of our elders so I thought I’d take the call. When we disconnected, I became aware of what song they were playing in the huge store – “You say” by Lauren Daigle! If I hadn’t had the phone call, I would have left the shop five minutes earlier and another song would be playing. Do you think God is trying to tell me something?

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, You give me strength. My identity is in You. Please give me discernment to recognise lies that I have believed and the wisdom to replace them with truths from Your Word. Amen.

A Poem of Praise

JuJoJan 14 January 2022.

The word for today is “freckled.” I thought of writing about my family, most of whom are freckled, but instead, a poem came to mind from my school days.

Pied Beauty 

BY GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS

Glory be to God for dappled things –
   For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
      For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
   Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
      And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
   Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
      With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
                                Praise him.

Source: Gerard Manley Hopkins: Poems and Prose (Penguin Classics, 1985)

Gerard Manly Hopkins (1844 -1889) suffered from a depressive disorder which today might be labelled bipolar disorder or chronic unipolar depression. Yet he was able to write such a positive poem of praise to God. He could see the beauty in creation from a unique angle.

I thought about this today as we walked home from the caravan place where our motor-home was being sealed. God is a God of variety. He does not make identical or standard anything. We are all unique and He deals with each of us in a unique way. Sometimes the very inclusion of opposites adds depth to His creation.

St Paul understood the essence of this. He wrote,”

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed, perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned, struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-10 NIV)

… and “When I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10b NIV)

When I got home, I noticed my petunias. Magnificent in their stripiness!

My Prayer

Father, I notice contradictions in myself. Please give me the grace to accept myself, contradictions and all, the way You accept me. Amen.

Oceans

JusJoJan 12 January 2022

This post of part of One-Liner-Wednesday as well as Just Jot it January

image by Pixabay

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Saviour

From the song Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) lyrics © O/B/O Capasso

Songwriters: Joel Houston / Matt Crocker / Salomon Lighthelm

There’s a Reason

I re-read this wonderful poem by Russell Kelfer this morning. I found it inspirational enough to share.

You Are Who You Are For A Reason

You are who you are for a reason.
You’re part of an intricate plan.
You’re a precious and perfect unique design,
Called “God’s special woman or man”

You look like you look for a reason.
Our God made no mistake.
He knit you together within the womb,
You’re just what He wanted to make!

The parents you had were the ones He chose,
And no matter how you may feel,
They were custom-designed with God’s plan in mind,
And they bear the Master’s seal.

No, that trauma you faced was not easy;
And God wept that it hurt you so.
But it was allowed to shape your heart
So that into His likeness you’d grow.

You are who you are for a reason.
You’ve been formed by the Master’s rod.
You are who you are, Beloved,
Because there is a GOD.

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

My Prayer

Thank you, Lord that You made me who I am. Please help me to accept the aspects of myself that I battle with and to know that every part of me, even my weaknesses, are part of Your design.

Trees

This post is part of Streams of Consciousness Saturday.

I have always loved the song, “Trees,” sung by Nelson Eddy and later by Mario Lonza.

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast; A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair; Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

We’ve been away in the Bush for the last five days, at a place called Dube Game Lodge.

We set up our motorhome between the trees and enjoyed the outdoor life. I got to thinking about trees. Besides the poetic beauty of trees as mentioned in the song, there is also the great design principle. Anybody who has ever tried making a model scene will know how difficult it is to get your trees to stand. You have to make bases or somehow prop up you sticks that represent stems.

In real trees, a network of roots anchor the tree in the ground and grow as the tree grows. I have heard that the root system of a tree is at least as big in area as the branch system. Not only do the roots anchor the tree, they also source the water and minerals from the ground that the tree needs. The food the tree makes itself, turning carbon dioxide into glucose and then to starch which is stored in the leaves. How wonderful is that! Moreover, a by product of the whole process is oxygen, which keeps us and all living things alive.

We use the structural strength of trees to make building materials. And more trees can grow if we are responsible in cutting them down and replanting.

If Man had designed trees, they would all be identical:- perfectly straight, maybe even square in diameter with branches, if any, at regular intervals and at right angles.

Fortunately, God’s designs combine function with beauty. Each tree is different and there are so many varieties. The Bible says, “…God…richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. (1 Timothy 6:17 NIV)

Next time you see a tree, stop for a moment and admire its beauty, Its functionality and its amazing design. Give thanks and glory to the God who designed it.

My Prayer

Creator God, as I walk through this life, open my eyes to see Your fingerprints on all created things. I praise You for Your marvelous works. Amen.

Gurgles and Claps

This post is part of JusJoJan. The word for today is “gurgle.” It is a lovely word. It makes me think of a stream chuckling to itself – especially since we went to the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens last week and I enjoyed again the burbling river and the roaring waterfall.

I’m not particularly good at descriptive writing, but I do enjoy reading it. I’m listening to an audibook by Laura Ingalls Wilder and I find her descriptions delightful.

The bible is shot through with compelling imagery. Below are some examples I enjoy.

You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands. (Isaiah 55:12 NLT)

I love the image of trees lifting up their branches and clapping their leaves together.

The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD thunders over the mighty waters. the voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is majestic. The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars, the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon leap like a calf, Sirion like a young wild ox. (Psalm 29:3-9 NIV)

Somehow those words evoke an emotional response in me.

I think it is necessary to read scripture with my heart as well as my intellect.

Please share some other imaginative scriptures that have been meaningful to you.

My Prayer

Thank you, Lord, for the power of words and for the talented wordsmiths You have created. Thank you for my imagination and that You can speak to me not only in words but also in pictures and emotions. Amen.

Pandemics and Plagues

I read an interesting piece on our church’s website this morning called the Plague of Plagues by Michael Philips. It is quite long but thought provoking and very biblical and it turned my thoughts once more in the direction of viruses and sin.

I am a microbiologist by training and I learned a bit of virology, as well as a bit of bacteriology, mycology, immunology, biochemistry and assorted other -ologies. I have often linked in my mind sin to some kind of infection so let’s play and pretend sin is a virus. Unlike earthly viruses, this one infects the soul as well as the body.

Patients zero were Adam and Eve. The virus quickly spread through mother to child transmission as well as contact with other infected people and now everybody has got it.

The symptoms are obvious. Paul gives a list in 1 Cor 6:9-10. Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? He then goes on to list some of the symptoms:- sexual immorality, idolatory, adultery, theft, greed, slander. There are other symptoms and they all fall into the category of ignoring God, His commands, His gifts, His love. Instead people want to do things their own way making themselves into gods.

Society down the ages has done their best to treat the symptoms, just like we might take decongestants for our cold. It will not cure us, only take away the symptoms. The Ten Commandments were a set of laws designed to treat the symptoms in society and model what cured people might look like. Other societies have laws and customs that do the same. With varying degrees of success they try to limit murder, theft, and antisocial behaviour with punishments which deter many from giving in to the tendencies which are symptomatic of the infection.

There is a cure. Think of it as a blood transfusion. …and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7b NIV)

Adapted from a Image by Ahmad Ardity from Pixabay

If we get a blood transfusion with blood that contains antibodies to the virus, we will slowly get better as the virus is neutralised. It doesn’t happen overnight, but slowly we get better. This is a once off treatment. However, to be totally clear of the virus and to prevent re-infection, we need our bodies to make more antibodies. Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit to enable this process. We become sanctified. Again, it is a slow process and some of the symptoms take a long time to disappear because of damage that they have caused to our bodies and spirits.

John goes on to say in verses 8 and 9, If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Imagine if, at the time of your blood transfusion, the doctor gave you a certificate saying you were no longer infectious, even though you might still have a symptom or two. This certificate could give you access to places you could not normally enter as an infected person. You could go through the screening processes with impunity. You could even have access to the Kingdom of Heaven which has a very strict anti-infection policy.

I’m sure trained ministers and pastors would pick holes in my analogy, but I had fun. Hope you did too.

An encouraging verse to leave you with as we all think about viruses, infections, quarantines, lockdowns, prohibitions, economic collapse and the like.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13 NIV)

Meditations on Sunshine.

Sitting in the sunshine this cool autumn morning, I enjoyed the touch of warmth on my skin. I thought of it as an embrace of love from God. I meditated on sunshine and love.

Sure, the sunshine was warm and comfortable like warm fuzzies. However, sunshine also has power. We all know the danger of sunburn. I have a solar cooker. I have potatoes cooking in it at the moment for lunch later. The sun has sufficient power to cook food. It can heat water for bathing. My daughter and son-in-law have a solar geyser. Sometimes it gets so hot steam comes out of the escape pipe. We haven’t got to the stage of electricity from the sun yet, but many households have. The sun is powerful.

Likewise, love is powerful. It is not only warm comfort. Sometimes it can hurt. Love kept Christ on the cross. Love for us. For me. A line from a hymn came to me, “strong as death.” I battled a while to find it on the internet because I incorrectly remembered the three words that came before the phrase. Finally I got it and I thought it was worthwhile posting it here. It was written by William Cowper in 1768 so it’s not surprising that some of the words are a bit archaic.

 Hark, my soul, it is the Lord;
’tis thy Saviour, hear his word;
Jesus speaks, and speaks to thee,
‘Say, poor sinner, lov’st thou me?

2 ‘I delivered thee when bound,
and, when wounded, healed thy wound;
sought thee wandering, set thee right,
turned thy darkness into light.

3 ‘Can a woman’s tender care
cease towards the child she bare?
Yes, she may forgetful be,
yet will I remember thee.

4 ‘Mine is an unchanging love,
higher than the heights above,
deeper than the depths beneath,
free and faithful, strong as death.

5 ‘Thou shalt see my glory soon,
when the work of grace is done;
partner of my throne shalt be:
say, poor sinner, lov’st thou me?’

6 Lord, it is my chief complaint
that my love is weak and faint;
yet I love thee, and adore;
O for grace to love thee more!

Love Sonnet

This month’s challenge for my writers’ circle is to write a love sonnet after the style of Shakespeare. This is my attempt.

SONNET 1. The Rising Sun

The rising sun in all its radi’nt light

Is but a shadow set besides thy face.

The panoply of stars, all blazing bright,

Is merely trim thy glorious robe to grace.

 

When all the birds on earth with song rejoice

And waters roar and thunders clap with glee,

Combin’d they’re just the echo of thy voice,

My ear is dull ‘till thou addresseth me.

 

Thy touch upon my skin is dearer, far,

Than first sweet sunbeams after days of rain.

In thy embrace my heart glows like a star,

And gathers strength to conquer every pain.

 

When hearts forget to pump, or eyes to see,

This truth remains. Thou died for love of me.

Sonnet – my last Poetry assignment.

Today’s assignment, and the last one (sigh) is a sonnet about pleasure, including Apostrophe, which is not what I thought it was.

Unearthly Joy

You are, O God, my Father, all my Joy,merle-552070_640

My everlasting fount of all delight,

You give me gifts, like birdsong to enjoy,

And music makes my burdened soul take flight.

When Earth’s great bounty overflows in Spring,

And Jasmine, roses, blossoms strew my way,bee-104628_640

Your overwhelming beauty pleasure brings,

Like fiery sunsets at the close of day.

 

Yet best of all the love of family and kin,

Those sticky grandchild kisses on my cheek,generations-462134_640

My husband’s warm embrace upon my skin,

My children’s love and interest in my week.

Yet life itself is knowing You, my God,

And Jesus Christ, your Son, my only Lord.

star-437519_1280