Saturday, September 21, 2013

Worship on the Lord's Day

[This entry is taken from an unpublished piece I wrote a couple of decades ago. Pastor Jackie]

For two thousand years the overwhelming majority of Christians have gathered on Sunday to worship God through Jesus Christ.  Historically, Sunday has been both a Sabbath day and a Feast Day.  As a Sabbath day it is a day of rest and remembrance.  It is a holy day that belongs to God.  On the seventh day of creation God rested and so he decreed that creation rest and renew its devotion to its Creator.  On the Sabbath all the ordinary activities and engagements of life are set aside in order to focus fully on God and his Word.  This holy day is intended to actualize and reinforce the fact that God is sovereign over all of his creation.  As such, Sunday is a time of surrender to the lordship of Christ who continues to work in history by attending to his creation, especially his people.
Sunday is also a feast day, a day of celebration.  The first Christians moved their Sabbath from the seventh (last) day of the week to the first day of the week.  Their reasons were simple.  Sunday was the "day of the Lord."  It was the day of Christ's resurrection and the day of his post-resurrection appearances. For them, attending to the Word of God meant meeting with the living Word of God and living under His direct sovereignty by the powerful, personal presence of the Holy Spirit.

Early in the second century Christians began referring to Sunday as the "eighth day" of the week.  For them
it was the last day of the first order of creation,  the order and age that was passing away because of sin.  In the resurrection of Christ, God had brought into final completion the first order of creation by conquering death, hell and the grave.  The resurrection was a restoration from death to life for someone (Jesus) who was fully human.  Therefore, in the resurrection Jesus entered into an ultimate rest.  In so doing, He split the veil of separation between God and humanity. As "Son of Man" and "Son of God" He entered into the eternal rest of living in the presence of God.

Jesus is the second Adam, the firstborn of a new order of creation. Through faith in Him believers also become a whole new creation and share in the life he gives.  The hope of the resurrection should be a vibrant reality. When the early Christians met together they understood they were sitting together in heavenly places in Christ. When they ate at the Lord's table they considered they were at the marriage supper of the Lamb of God. They were feasting on the presence of God and understood themselves to be living in His Kingdom.  Sunday was by its very nature a day for celebrating the righteous reign of Christ over creation.  It was a day in which the believer's future resurrection was a present reality.

Thus, on Sunday believers gather as members of God's family to attend to the things of God.  On this day they meet together as one body to make real the Lordship of Christ over all creation.  The past is remembered and brought into the present as a sacrifice of praise.  In hope, the future is grasped and made real in the present. The old is passing away; the new is breaking in.  Sunday gatherings for worship infuse believers with the grace and strength they need to walk with Christ until that day when He splits the eastern sky and gathers them together in the air.

But in this time in which we live Christian seem to have lost both of these two understandings of Sunday. We neither rest nor enter into the coming presence of Christ. Can we recapture a sense of it being a sacred day? What would that be like? How would we be changed? How would our worship change?

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Just a Thought on Family with link to book chapter

Just a Thought: Modern myths about Biblical families. I am concerned about families in the Western world. Our culture is disintegrating; there is an absence of core values and even foundational social definitions are suddenly being changed. Decades ago my commitment to the family drove me to study closely God’s plan for family life. Those studies led me to challenge several modern myths about family. If we are going to nurture Godly families we must follow God’s plan which is not the same as the one promoted by many. One overarching myth of the modern church is the very definition of family. To my surprise, there is no Scriptural term for our modern concept of “family.” Instead, Western Christianity long ago adopted a Roman definition of family as being determined by the father as titular head, the “pater familias.” The Biblical terms, both Old Testament Hebrew and New Testament Greek, which are generally translated as “family” are more literally translated “house” or “household.”  The error is that we read into our understanding of the Scriptures our definition of “family” as principally a nuclear, biological unit. In brief, we define family in terms of a contract of “commitment,” and “love,” etc. while the Scriptures understand family as grounded in a social covenant with God. Certainly the marriage covenant is at the core of the family identity, but by its very nature covenant is a different kind of relationship than one defined primarily by affections and genetics. Covenant with God holds families together and not the inverse. [More to come tomorrow. You may wish to read a piece I wrote as a chapter in a book published by the Church of God: “Our Covenant to Nurture Our Families” in “NurturingPentecostal Families.”] JDJ #242

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Blog Entries

My current Facebook series on marriage and intimate relationships is being added daily to "Thoughts on Human Relationships" below (2-10-2013).

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Thoughts on the Spiritual Disciplines

[This collection of thoughts on the spiritual disciplines first appeared in a series of random thoughts on Facebook. They are collected here and will be edited and expanded throughout 2013.

The faculty of our seminary have agreed to produce a book on the spiritual disciplines. I have agreed to be co-edit the book, along with Dr. Sang-Ehil Han. The target date for completion is next spring with publication next summer. Although I have taught on the disciples for decades, I have been thinking a lot about them since accepting this assignment.]

1. The spiritual disciplines are those personal Christian practices that are acts of worship and means of grace. Through them we express our faith and open ourselves to the presence and work of the Holy Spirit. They include all of the Scriptural activities whereby persons knowingly share in the life and purposes of God. The best known of these are prayer, fasting, Bible reading and study. The list includes submission, confession, meditation, acts of benevolence, and Christian service, etc.. These should not be thought of as mere rituals of self-denial; they are intended to be avenues of fellowship with God. They are exercises whereby faith is discovered, remembered, renewed, and expressed. They are activities of listening for, discerning, and responding to the voice of God. JDJ # 130

2. If the spiritual disciplines are to bear fruit in our lives, they must be practiced as acts of worship. This requires that at the core of all of the disciplines be active meditation on the presence of God within the practice of the discipline, meditation that is joined with a conscious desire to honor and glorify Him. Worship also requires a consciousness of our selves before God. Spirit-filled worship is in its essence a state of being in which we know ourselves knowing God (“Abba Father”) and being known by Him. This worship is an experiential re-member-ing of our union with God in Christ. Through the disciplines as acts of worship we anticipate and celebrate the strengthening of our union with Christ. In other words, the disciplines are means of grace but not mediators of grace; they do not cause God’s favor. They are tools for creating an inner environment for unmediated communion with God through Christ, an environment conducive for worship, fellowship, formation, transformation, and the reception of God’s good gifts. JDJ #143

3. The spiritual disciplines are means of grace. This is not to say that grace is automatically imputed to us when we practice a discipline. That would be a form of “works righteousness” or earning God’s blessings. It is to say that when practiced with a sincere desire to know God better one should expect to know God better. His grace abounds toward those who seek Him and seek to please Him. JDJ #144

4. The practice of the spiritual disciplines, like all of the Christian life, is always personal but never private. Some of the disciplines by their very nature require that others participate with us (confession, submission, etc); many are best done in solitude (silence, meditation, etc). But the disciplines are communal in their very nature. Our life in Christ is a shared life. When we withdraw from others in order to draw near to Christ we are in fact drawing near to all who are in Christ. The grace that we receive in the practice of the disciplines, like all grace, is intended to flow through us to others. The disciplines must always be practiced as exercises in receiving and in giving; they are exercises in being joined both to Christ and His body. JDJ #145

5. The disciplines are events of remembering and testifying. By their very nature they embody aspects of our faith and they recall the stories of our faith. Through them we rehearse what we believe. We fast, we pray, we confess, we submit, we study, we show mercy, etc. because through these disciplines we remember who we are, where we have come from, and where we are headed. And in re
membering we bear witness to the truth that is in us. Because they are done in Christ and not just toward Christ, through the disciplines we are salt and light set on a hill; in them we are extensions of the ministry of Christ. In the practice of the disciplines we touch the world and our witness is made more effectual.

6. Love for God should be at the heart of our practice of all of the disciplines. They are means of renewing and consummating our union with Him. As such, they are not burdensome; they are life-giving. JDJ #152

7. The spiritual disciplines should not be thought of as a means to an end, i.e., if I practice this discipline God will bless me. The end is contained in the means. The disciplines are a way of being, a form of knowledge which merges thinking and doing. The Greeks called this type of knowledge praxis. There are some things that can only be known through a fusion of reflection and action. This is the knowledge of creative engagement with the world as expressed in activities such as sculpting, riding a bike, playing a musical instrument. In this type of knowing the conceptual and the actual (or behavioral) are united as a single event. The disciplines should be approached as praxis with God, or entering into God’s praxis. They should be experienced as what I call theopraxis, or knowing God in His encounter with His creation. Through the disciplines we can be united with God as He intentionally engages His Trinitarian self and our world through His reflective action. JDJ #153

8. By approaching the disciplines as theopraxis we exercise our faith that we are indeed joined with God in Christ. We pray with and in Him, We fast with and in Him. We meditate with and in Him. We submit with and in Him. In His divinity and in His humanity Jesus fulfilled what it means to be a person of spiritual discipline. It was as both that He fasted for forty days. It was as both that He withdrew for prayer on many occasions. As both He submitted to the Father and to others. The disciplined life is the way of Christ, Son of God, Son of Man. We should not practice the disciplines as some form of preparation for future transformation into the image of Christ; we should practice them because they are the form and motion of His image. In other words, we should not practice the disciplines in preparation for the future, we should practice the disciplines as a way of knowing God in the present, an expression of what we are and what we are becoming. In the disciplines we follow Him, are joined to Him, are transformed into His likeness, and we extend His life and presence in the world. JDJ #154




Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Catechism

Some years ago, I wrote a catechism to prepare persons for baptism, Karisa and Aimie Thompson (Wilson). My plans were to develop it more fully and I have worked on it from time to time. Now is the time to complete that task and so I will be developing it on this page. At least once a week I plan to post an item from the catechism with follow-up discussions. I invite you to follow along as a Bible study. I especially encourage parents to do the study with their children.


This catechism was written for children eight years old and older.  The original purpose was to prepare them for baptism.  Younger children are able to memorize the questions and answers but will probably not have an understanding of the key concepts.  Therefore, you may use the catechism as a teaching tool with a younger child (4 to 7) but remember it will be important to review the instrument as he or she grows older.

Please use this catechism as a tool and not an end in itself. It is presented in question and answer form but should serve as a starting point for conversation with your child rather than something that is merely to be memorized. The given answers are doctrinal and propositional in nature. Our faith is relational and it is in many ways best expressed in stories. Before entering the first grade children should have heard the major stories of the Bible and be able to recognize the major characters and events in the stories. Before a child enters the fourth grade, he or she should be able to tell the major stories of the Bible. Around the age of eight or nine a child begins to be able to understand and value the more abstract order of doctrinal teaching. The stories from which these doctrines are taken (the Bible) should remain the primary source our theology.  Along with the Scriptural stories your child should know your own stories of faith in God.

For most items in the catechism Scripture verses have been given.  Read them with your child.  Remember that discovery is critical to learning. As a general pattern read the question then read the Bible texts and let your child find the answers in the text.  Then read the given answer.  Let your child put the answer in his or her own words.  

Finally, this is a work in progress.  The answers to questions are not divinely inspired and may be revised as we all work through this the first time or two (or more).
Pastor Jackie

1. What does it mean to be a Christian? 
(Luke 2:11; John 3:16-18; 4:42; Acts 2:36; 5:31; Ephesians 5:23; Philippians 3:20-21; 1 Timothy 1:1; 2 Timothy 1:9-10; Titus 1:4; 2 Peter 1:1, 10-11; 2:20; 3:2, 18; 1 John 4:13-16; Jude 24-25.)
Christians are persons who have believed on Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. 

[Notes to Parents:

A.  You may wish to talk with your child about the differences between Christian denominations, cults, and other religions.  Please stress the unity of all true believers, show respect for all people regardless of their religion but emphasize there is only one way to eternal life with God -- Jesus Christ.

B.  We accept as our brothers and sisters in Christ everyone who says they know him as Lord and Savior.  They may choose words that are different from those with which we are accustomed (i.e., they may simply say “I am a Christian” rather than “I am a born-again Christian”).  We accept their testimony until their life proves otherwise.]

2. Who is Jesus Christ?
(John 3:16; Colossians 1: 15-20; II Corinthians 4:4; Romans 8:29, 11:35-36; Ephesians 1:9-10)

Jesus Christ is the only begotten son of God. He is both God and human (fully God and fully human). As God he is equal with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. They are one being who eternally exists as three persons. He became a human being and was born of the Virgin Mary so that he might restore creation back to God and give us eternal life. And so he remains forever as both our creator God and our human brother.

[Notes to Parents:
1.  Review the story of God’s people (the Jews) and the birth of Christ as the promised Messiah.
2. Try to help your child accept the mystery of the Trinity. There are many things that are beyond our understanding. That does not make them untrue. We accept that Jesus is human (He was born a descendent of Abraham and David) and we accept that he is God (He was born of a virgin without human father). By him all things were made. Share with your child your sense of awe at this mystery and your confidence in its truth.]

3. How can I have the eternal life which Jesus came to give?
(John 3:14-17; 10:10; 15:4-6; 17:1-3;)
All life comes from God who is eternal. If we are joined to God through Jesus Christ (close friends with, bonded as family, He lives in us) we will have eternal life which is to share in the very life of God. This is eternal life, that we know God and Jesus Christ whom he sent into the world.

4. How will I know that I know God and have eternal life?
1 John 2:3-5

You will know you have been joined to God so that He lives in you and you truly know him if you love him and his Son Jesus Christ.

Notes to Parents:
1.  Place a great deal of emphasis here. Talk of your love for God and Christ.  Lead your child into talking about his or her love for Jesus. You might ask him/her to tell you why he/she loves Jesus.

 a.  How will I know that I truly love them?
1 John 2:3

You will know you love them if you obey their commandments.

  b. What are their commandments?
Matthew 22:37-39, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27
There are many teachings contained in the Scriptures but they are all embraced in two commandments. First, love God with all your mind and all your heart, and all your soul.  Second, love your neighbor as yourself.

 c. Why are these commandments so hard to keep?
Without God’s help, we are blinded by sin so that we cannot see clearly beyond our own selfish desires.

 d. What is sin?
Genesis 4:6-7, Psalm 39:1, 51:1-6, 119:11, Romans 3:19-25, 5:12-21, 6:1-23, 7:1-26,
Sin is anything that does not belong in God’s presence. It is any condition or action that places a person outside of God's goodness. We may sin through our actions or our attitudes; by what we do and what we refuse to do. All sin is therefore opposition to God's will and his good plans for His creation. Sin is also a disease that robs us of God’s presence in our lives, and a force that tempts us to do bad things. 


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Thoughts on Series

If you have not been following this blog, please note that the majority of my entries this year have been editorial additions to the "Thoughts On ..." series below. I post a thought on Facebook each day and then post that thought as an addition to one on my "Thoughts On..." entries below.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Human Relationships: A Devotional

[The following is a devotional I gave this morning to an ecumenical prayer group that meets twice a week in Cleveland, Tennessee. Rev. Max Morris started this group in 1999.  The total attendance for these services has been well over 100,000. The content of the devotional comes from my "Just a Thought" series on Facebook.]
Human Relationships: Forgiveness and Reconciliation
Jackie David Johns
His Hands Extended: Cleveland, Tennessee
February 26, 2013


Matthew 5:20-26  "For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that the ancients were told, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER ' and 'Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.'  "But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, 'You good-for-nothing,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. "Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. "Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.  "Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent.

Matthew 6:14-15 For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.

1 Corinthians 13:11 – 13:13  When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. 

This devotional is a collection of thoughts I have been writing on Facebook. This year I will complete forty years of credentialed ministry in the Church of God. I felt prompted to write each day a paragraph about the things I have learned and taught during those forty years. I have been surprised that so many of my thoughts have been on forgiveness and reconciliation. I am not certain what that says about me or my ministry. I have been equally surprised that this line of thoughts receives more responses on Facebook than others. Perhaps it is an indicator of our shared struggles to be faithful to the heavenly calling.

In my experience, forgiving another is often tied to the closeness I have shared with that person. The closer I am the easier it is to overlook the small things, but the more difficult it is to forgive the big transgressions. Intimacy makes daily life much easier and seasons of conflict much more difficult.

It is a fearful thing to place the care of your soul in the hands of another person. And yet that is what each of us longs for in intimate relationships and what each of us is called to in Christian community.

We all know human relationships can either hinder or nurture our relationship with God. This is because human relationships are by design a primary mode for knowing God. The struggle to know and be known by others is but an expression of the struggle to know and be known by God. The Spirit of God is the ever-present giver and sustainer of all life. To know another human is to stand before his or her Creator. God is thus a witness and participant in all relationships. It is for this cause that all sins against others are in fact sins against God. And discord in human relationships is caustic to our relationship with God.

It is by design that the need for intimacy with another human is linked to the need for intimacy with God.  Adam and Eve were created to know each other knowing God. The first couple fell into sin when they agreed to share a knowledge apart from their Creator. And the knowledge they chose to share became the knowledge that divided and destroyed them. In eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they lost their fellowship with God and their harmony with each other. Once marred by sin, the drive to live in deep communion with another became a primary battleground for sin. Ever since that fateful choice, humans have hungered to return to the Garden. That hunger is in truth a craving to return to that condition of knowing and being known in the shame-free, life-giving presence of our Heavenly Father.

This hunger to know and to be known is revealed most clearly in the gaze of our eyes. As we stare deeply into the eyes of another we are not voyeurs merely seeking to see into the soul of that person; we also desire for someone to see our inner self. When we lock our eyes on this person whom we are coming to trust, we enter liminal time and space. Without losing our personal identity we join this other person to create a new, shared reality. We enter into a covenant of co-existence. In that shared existence we freely give ourselves away; we boldly embrace that which was foreign to us, and we become more than we are. Hearts and minds are intertwined with or without physical connection. This psychic union offers the promise of personal fulfillment and the hope of the renewal of the image of God. Before the mouth speaks, the eyes expose the secrets of the heart.

The gaze of our eyes and the love of God are most exquisitely expressed in a holy and unfeigned love for one’s spouse. Properly construed, this love not only binds the husband and wife to one another; it also binds each to God; it serves as an ongoing expression of the worship of our gracious Creator. In the Garden, Adam and Eve knew and loved God as they knew and loved each other. For some, the great challenge in life is to not let love for one’s spouse eclipse that holy love from which it flows. For too many, the connection is never made so in failing to love their spouse they fail to know the love of God. Blessed are those whose love for spouse and love for God are of the same essence. They have already begun to know as they are known.

This is the reason forgiveness and reconciliation are essential to the Christian life. The quest for righteous intimacy is integral to our transformation into the likeness of Christ. Christian love, fellowship, and mutual honor mirror the glory and honor of the image in which we were made. In relationships of love and mutual respect we join with God in the restoration of His image. Brokenness in human relationships signals a fracture in our relationship with God. While marriage is the quintessential expression of knowing as we are known, all relationships must point toward our destiny in which we will stand together face to face with our Savior.

Our reconciliation with Christ and our reconciliation with each other comprise a single event in the divine economy. We will not be forgiven if we do not forgive. In the fellowship of the Spirit, we realize that the altar of self-denial at which we forgive one another and the altar at which we are forgiven of our sins against God are the same altar, the one at which all things are being reconciled to the righteousness of God. Similarly, at that place of reconciliation the voice of God’s pleasure (these are my beloved) and the voice of His call to service (go proclaim the good news) are heard as one voice. Those reconciled to God are reconciled to each other and they share in the ministry of reconciliation (II Corinthians 5:18-21).

Before concluding, it may help to make a couple of observations about that great obstacle to reconciliation – anger.

On one hand, anger is not a sin. It is an emotional response to a person, an event, or a situation. Counselors tell us it is a secondary emotion, one triggered by a primary emotion such as fear, or insecurity, etc.. I suggest that anger can also be grounded in love for others. Further, I suggest it is sometimes the only appropriate response to evil. Holiness draws us into the affections of God; we love as He loves and we hate as He hates. Thus, it may be sin to not have anger toward sin, especially sins of injustice. Our holy response to injustice should be to share in God’s anger toward it. Only, let our response be governed by His mercy and focused on the sin itself, not the sinner.

On the other hand, anger is a lot like wine. In and of itself it is not a sin. But like wine, anger has the potential to rule our lives. Mingled with other weaknesses it excites our brokenness and our inclinations toward sin. It numbs our better judgment and our self-restraint. Even righteous anger must be sobered by love and grace lest it devour our peace and give opportunity for evil in our hearts. To have anger may be an expression of righteousness. To hold on to anger is to hold on to our selfish ambitions instead of clinging to His righteousness.

With these thoughts in mind, I offer a few practical thoughts on forgiving and reconciling with others.

First, forgiveness should not be measured in emotions. We too often condemn ourselves for negative feelings when remembering an offence. The presence of the offender reminds us of the offence and we hurt. Then we feel guilty for hurting and possibly for feeling anger. We should not. Forgiveness is an attitude, a disposition, a dogged determination to treat the offender as if they never did us wrong. It is a firm commitment to act out of our convictions and not our feelings. Forgiveness should be measured in our resolve to bless the person who offended us.

Second, forgiveness must be more than the mental negation of an offense or simply “letting go” of a grievance. Such definitions allow, and even encourage, apathy toward the offender. Apathy is perhaps the greatest of the dehumanizing dispositions and indifference is a form of resentment. Thus, forgiveness requires a positive disposition toward the offender, a commitment to bless.

Third, forgiveness and reconciliation do not require a return to former patterns of relating, nor to old definitions of the relationship. Those patterns and definitions were no doubt built on an illusion of fidelity. They do require an openness to begin again and to build a relationship on truthfulness. Never settle for going back to the way things were. Never be driven to create that which should not be. Just be open to God’s power to make all things new. Seek to build a relationship that pleases God.

Fourth, as stated, the hope of reconciliation should not be the restoration of a relationship to what it once was; such attempts are destined to fail as they are locked within irreconcilable imaginations about the past. The hope should be for the creation of a relationship that should have been. Thus, true reconciliation is aimed at the future, the hope of what might be if both are willing to become.

Fifth, forgiveness is an expression of grace, a deep commitment to bless the one who offended our sense of worth and thereby fractured our delusion of wholeness. The grace of God never “dead-ends” in a receiver. In order for it to have its full effect on us, grace must flow through us to others. To “for-give” is to “for-grace.”

Sixth, forgiveness does not erase the pain of betrayal nor does it guarantee we will ever be fully healed. It is an exercise of faith in others that builds our faith in God. Forgiving others opens our soul to receive gifts from God. The grace that brings emotional healing flows from the same fountain as the grace that works redemption and sanctification. All of the gifts of grace are provisions of the atonement of Christ. Thus, we do not heal ourselves by forgiving others, instead we prepare ourselves to receive healing.

Finally, reconciliation with others requires reconciliation across time. While true reconciliation is aimed at the future, the journey forward should begin with openness about the present, and openness to the present requires sincere effort to hear and honor memories of the past. Those memories are part of our present reality and they too must be redeemed. We will have reconciled not when we fully agree on what happened, but when we each see what happened through the eyes of the other and embrace them as though it happened the way they remember it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Proverb on Honoring Parents


Dearest Daughter,
Listen to the words of your father
Righteousness is fulfilled
Not by avoiding evil alone
But by doing good always
For this Christ came
To free us from sin
Not from the penalty alone
But from its control within
Cleansed from our transgressions
Clothed in His righteousness
Recipients of His mercy
Granted grace that we might bless
Honor your father and your mother
That your days may be long
Seek ways to build them up
In their service become strong
Find the good in you
That first flowed from them
Let it shine for all to see
And they will glow more brightly
Add to the wealth of their memories
Your own nuggets of gold
Fuel their hopes for your future
And the future of those to come
Where they have failed
Never fail
Where they have excelled
Soar on the winds of their courage
Know and be true to yourself
Know and be true to them
From them you came
Unto them you will be gathered

August 1996
Taken from I Am Not a Poet:!/pages/I-AM-Not-A-Poet/202394679841098

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Make Your Redemption Complete

You hold all things together
You make all things new
Your redemption is perfect
Purchased out of death
Unto life, abundant life
Our destiny is purity and perfection
Not a static state of endless protection
Rather, a dynamic embrace of all we have known
And all that is yet to be shown
Yet I scarce believe you will transform
My brokenness into wholeness
My pain into pleasure
My sorrow into joy
Betrayal into fidelity
Evil into good
Can these dry bones live?
Can they be transfigured?
Can they join the pulse
Of Your pure heart?
Contain the flow
Of Your boundless love?
Can they endure the glory
Of Your consuming face?
Can they survive the power
Of Your holy embrace?
Can they ever grasp the beauty
Of Your matchless grace?
Can they know
As they are known?
Will all things be made new?
Will my memories remain
And yet be changed?
Can these thoughts
Enjoy transubstantiation?
Can all that I am
All I have known
Be engulfed in Your beauty?
What grace must you apply
To the emptiness of my being
That I might fit
Into the fullness of Your image?
 Let every thought
Be imprisoned to Your Majesty
Every recollection
Made factual and true
Every betrayal
A revelation of Your fidelity
Every pain
A song of Your goodness
Every disappointment
A hymn to Your faithfulness
Every threat of death
A proclamation of Your life
Let every fiber of my being
From the time you wove me together
In my mother’s womb
Through every breath I have drawn
Every joy and every sorrow
Past, present, and for all tomorrows
For as long as I am
Proclaim boldly Your greatness
Your faithfulness
Your beauty
And Your mercy
At your appearance
May I sing in harmony
With the symphony
Of Your creation?
Breathed upon by your Spirit
May I dance that flawless dance
Of the redeemed
Moving in the splendor
Of Your presence?
In that day
When all that is gives You glory
Martyrs and saints singing your praise
Angels continuing their ancient anthem
Flowers, plants and trees
Joining in the revelry
The crown of thorns
now a royal diadem
The cross unfolded
Bejeweled as your throne
In that day
All creation will your name revere
Every nation bowing every knee
The pit too will sing
Of the beauty of Your holy mountain
Hell itself will then proclaim
The righteousness of Your reign
And the splendor of Your Name
Judgment will your grace reveal
As the peoples gather to be healed.

The damned will bear witness
To Your mercy
In Your presence
Consumed by Your absence
Touched by Your love without end
Unknowing but revealing
The greatness of Your plan.
 And so we plea
Come quickly Lord Jesus
Fill all things with Your presence
Make all things new
Make Your Redemption Complete!
February 2009

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Truth Shall Set You Free

[Neither poem, nor prose, nor a rose by any name.]
Our words reveal the truth of who we are
If we knowingly tell a lie
Our words reveal us to be a liar
A deceiver, in bondage to deception.

If we speak an untruth believing it to be the truth
Our words reveal us to be misled,
Ill-informed, ignorant, unwise, or full of pride to boast of that we know not.
The deceived, in bondage to deception.

If we speak the truth
Believing it to be a lie
Our words reveal us to be the greatest of fools
The blind, in bondage to deception.

But, if we speak the truth in the spirit of the truth
Our words expose our love for the truth and the truth is true within us
Only when the truth transforms us into the truth
Are we that new creation, born of the resurrection.

Then and only then, we become living epistles of the truth
And then we are one with the truth
And our words carry not just a thought,
An idea, a doctrine, but the essence and texture of the truth.

Thus, in knowing we conform to the truth
And we become the language of truth
And in that union we are truly human
Freely knowing and freely living in the truth.