Musings on Christianity 29

Musings on Christianity 29

What Does It Mean to Live by Faith?

The greatest challenge some may face in becoming Christians is also a mindset that best represents a Christian. Yes, all people should be God-centered but one can not be God-centered without having faith, and that challenges people.

Hebrews 11 is essentially a summary of the Old Testament, but it presents that summary from the perspective of faith. It begins by defining faith.

“Now, faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).”

This can challenge some people. What they want is “proof” or “reason to believe.” But if you have proof, you don’t need faith. I don’t need faith to know I’m 5-foot-6 or 178 pounds. I measure my self. I can weigh myself.

Faith is the trust that something is real or will come without any real evidence. When we act on faith, we glorify the God we serve in faith. This, I feel, is the crux of faith and the message of Hebrews 11.

We start again with creation. Scientists have been working to prove one theory for as long as I can remember, and while that theory is commonly accepted, it is far from proven. Why? Where evolutionists rely on evidence they still have yet to find, creationists live by faith. Is it wrong to seek to understand? No, but any evidence I seek is more to defend my faith than to secure it. This is because, “By faith, we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. (Hebrews 11:3).

To live by faith is to live as God commands, trusting you will receive the promises His word makes. The challenges come when something doesn’t go the way one would wish. I’m not immune to this. I didn’t want my mother to die. I didn’t want the corona virus to attack the world. This leads to the questions like, “why would God … “ and “why do … “ 

I wouldn’t argue it’s wrong to ask questions. Plenty of people asked God plenty of questions through prayer. Even that can be an act of faith. When things happen, and someone prays to God genuinely seeking his comfort and council, they glorify God.

But one can’t become lost because of the lack of answered desires. All of our best promises are to come when Christ returns. There are good things in store for believers, but as long as we are in the cursed flesh of sinful humanity, the pains of that curse will remain. But if we live by faith and walk by faith, the greater promises that will come when Christ comes again are ours.

When our prayers are unanswered, we continue to pray in faith. When our desires are denied, we move on in the faith that those desires weren’t a part of God’s plan. We have faith that God’s plan will lead us to our greatest joy, and that joy isn’t one we will have on this earth. Even if a Christian were to have the most ridiculously happy life a person could imagine on this Earth, not all of those days together would be in any way comparable to a moment in Heaven. People have probably heard the inverse of this from Romans 8:18, but both are true. Nothing is worth comparing, and that is the promise we trust in as we live by faith.

Does that mean we are never given assurance? Of course we are. The Bible is full of assurances of faith, and Hebrews 11 is just a short summary of so many examples. Christ being raised from the dead is in itself an assurance of faith, for he was the perfect, sinless man, who lived by faith and walked by faith. So when man, in his wicked rejection of Christ, led him to crucifixion, Christ accepted that humiliation. He walked in faith, knowing he was doing as the Father commanded, and the Father rewarded that faith with the resurrection that thus serves as the assurance for our faith.

So we’re called as Christians to live in faith that if we hold fast to Christ as our hope, we have been saved and are assured a place with him in Heaven.

So we can not allow despair or sadness to take our faith. If it does, then our faith was false, and we never had hope. Please read that carefully. It does not say despair or sadness is a symbol of a lack of faith. What I wish to emphasize is that if despair or sadness can cause one to turn away from faith, their faith was false.

This is what never giving up means. The guy who keeps struggling even when he’s lost 1,000 times shows that he has faith he can win just once. That is faith. The only reason one would have to stop is if he becomes convinced he won’t win. If faith is what keeps us going, than only its absence can be the reason we stop.

I urge you all to never stop. Pray when you are happy, sad, lost, confused, assured, confident, or in despair. Live as Christ lived trusting that you will receive the rewards He promised. Do not let the seasons of this world lead you to forget the glorious eternal life that is to come. Live by faith, and you will be commended.

For our panel: What is your favorite story of faith from the Bible? Do you have a personal trial of faith you would like to share? Does fear or sadness immediately mean you have no faith? How does one endure suffering in faith? Does the absence of answered prayers mean an absence of faith?

Musings on Christianity 25

Musings on Christianity 25

How Do We Respond To Suffering

As I type this, it’s been about three months since COVID-19 began. People are afraid. People are sick. People are dying. People are practicing social distancing (I hope) and limiting their activities (I hope).

This is an unprecedented time in our nation’s history.

How then should Christians respond to trials? How should a Christian react to pain, loss, sickness, and sadness.

The short answer is to glorify God.

God shows us so much about suffering through the book of Job. Perhaps someone more unfortunate than myself can dispute this, but no one was ever made to suffer more than Job.

Job was blameless and upright (Job 1:1). He had sons and daughters and lots of animals on his farm. He was the greatest of all the people of the east (Job 1:2-3).

One day came when the angels presented themselves before God. Satan was among them (Job 6). God held Job up as an example of the human race. Oh! what a wonderful thought it would be to have God say to his angels, “Have you considered by servant Matthew?” I don’t expect that. What a wonderful thing it would be though. Still, Satan wanted to break that faith, so he established a challenge.

The argument was that Job had no reason to fear God. He had no reason to be angry with God. Satan challenged God to take what Job had, and that would cause Job to turn away.  Satan meant it to take a servant from the Lord. God used that evil plan for his purpose.

Satan took all of Job’s property and, more importantly, his children. I don’t want to imagine any scenario in which I lose anyone I love, let alone my children. This happened to Job (Job 1:13-19).

Job mourned. He was devastated. But rather than curse God, he worshiped. “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21).”

All that, and Job did not sin or charge God with wrong (Job 1:22).

The challenge became elevated. Job himself was stricken.

There came a point (and this is a large summary of some 40 chapters of Job) where he demanded a trial. During an argument with three friends, he spoke about what he didn’t understand. God challenged that understanding with his own voice from a whirlwind. The rebuke was a series of questions, asking Job how he expected to question God who created everything.

In those questions, Job understood and repented (Job 42:1-6).

There’s a lot to unpack there, certainly more than a single blog could do justice, but Job knew that to worship God in suffering is the best thing to do.

We look at these times, however, and we think inwardly. Job honestly hadn’t done anything wrong when this started. That suffering wasn’t to hurt Job. Yes, it did cause him pain. It absolutely brought tears. But after being exemplified in joy, God exemplified him in suffering for all time.

He was blessed again, more so than ever before. No, I don’t contend that he didn’t miss his sons and daughters he had lost, we all do. The point isn’t that suffering should be fun. The current point is that when we suffer, we tend to ask why.

When I started this book, I choose to start with why we suffer for this very reason. None of us is Job. I’ve sinned, and so have you. The things we have, every thing that we have, are a gift God has given us, and he has every right to take them away. We certainly didn’t receive it because we deserve it. I don’t deserve my wife and children. I don’t deserve my home. What did I really do to urn it in the eyes of God? When I see these things as a gift, I feel all the more wretched because I realize I could treat them better. I could certainly do a better job maintaining my home.

I think I sometimes pridefully covet my possessions because I truly think they were mine, earned by the sweat of my labor and the work of my hands. But who gave me that work ethic? Who blessed me with these hands? 

When I realize nothing is mine, I appreciate it more (if only slightly).

But does this mean we can’t be sad or pray?

No! In fact, offering our prayers and communing with God is always good and right. 

God even gave us a prayer to offer while suffering in Psalm 102.

Does this mean COVID-19 is a test? For some. Is it a punishment? For some. But I’ve said before, God lets the rain fall on both the wicked and the just (Matthew 5:45). Sometimes, rain is just rain. Job’s error was to question the wisdom and rule of God Himself. What I can promise is that it is for the good of those who love Him (even if they don’t yet or ever see it) and His glory.

Heaven is the ultimate reward. It is such a reward that no amount of earthly blessings in any extreme will will be worth anything against it. If we keep our faith in God and worship him, no matter the time, season, or circumstance, that reward is waiting for us. But even in this world, if we seek his kingdom and righteousness, our season of pain can be replaced with such wonderful abundance.

Joseph was second only to Pharaoh in Egypt. His people were prosperous and blessed until Joseph was forgotten. Then they fell to an age of slavery and pain. They cried out for God, who delivered them and then (in time) gave them the promised land and a king and kingdom that other nations looked to. This pattern holds today.

I’ve had days where I could go to restaurants and tip every employee $20 without so much as feeling the financial impact. I’ve had years where I lived in a small studio, afraid for my life and hungry for something other than a microwave stew and piece of bread. I’ve been alone and isolated. Now I’m almost always near someone who loves me and wants to be with me.

These seasons are seasons. They come, and they go. They bring sadness and joy. All of those things are temporary. God is forever. If He is the object of your focus in every season and at every time, it will be well. If he is the object of your worship, you will be blessed.

This isn’t to imply in any way that we can “earn” our blessings. This is hard for me to articulate. We are saved by grace and grace alone. If we say to ourselves, “Oh, well, I guess I ‘better pray’ so that this will all blow over and I’ll get my blessings when it’s done,” our hearts and minds were never on God. We worship the blessing rather than the one who blesses. It’s not, nor has it ever been, a trade system.

However if our love is for him and we find trouble, we can hold fast to that love. We can glorify Him knowing that He always keeps His promises and will deliver us from the troubled times in our life, either by ending that time and restoring us or by calling us to Heaven, where we can live in glory forever.

In my younger days I probably would have wanted some sort of meter or calendar. Suffer for  40 years for every hundred years of blessing. Suffer for one hour for 23 hours of joy. However, such a system would only guarantee things I don’t want any part of, even if it comes with a guarantee of other joys. Think about it. If I said, I’m going to punch you, but then I’ll give you a hug, does that make it worth it when you make it a trade?

But if love rules your heart, if you walk with someone you love, and you walk together, you do so because that love endures. In our earthly flesh we cling to that love through all our sorrows. I clung to my friends and family when my mother died. it helped.

If we multiply that by the infinite love of God, what trial could possibly overwhelm us?  What sadness could possibly cast us down? More amazingly, what joy could possibly cause us to set it aside? What gift could possibly cause you to forget the one who gave it? Let that love be the center of your thoughts.

For our panel: Do you have a Psalm or Lamentation that you consider in times of suffering? What are some ways to glorify God in the midst of suffering? How do we mourn without sinning? How do we balance the joy of a blessed Earthly life (wealth, health, prosperity) with a love for God? How can we pray when our sadness or remorse is greater than it’s ever been?

Musings on Christianity 13

Musings on Christianity 13

How Can I Hold My Faith In Times of Sorrow?

I was barely in junior high when my family was divorced. My biological father did something terrible. He was abusive in several senses. His verbal insults to me were cruel. Name calling and slapping were common things. He’d flick middle and ring finger at my lips for speaking against him. He did more, and he did worse, but the worst thing he did wasn’t to me, so it isn’t for me to speak about.

What he did broke my family for a very long time. I wish I could tell you we moved away, and everything got better, but it didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, there was plenty of love and laughter, but it seemed those times were interrupted with abuse that struck generation after generation. From the time I was a boy until now, I felt like a failure as a man because I couldn’t protect my family from the harm that came their way.

I constantly wondered why. You see, I have always believed in God. So I constantly asked why did this happen? Then came 2013. Yet another member of my family faced an abusive past. To say I was struggling at work would be a drastic understatement. It felt as if I couldn’t do anything right.

I spoke to a coworker a few times that I was tempted to even deny God’s existence, but I couldn’t. I knew he was there. I just couldn’t understand why I felt such pain. I couldn’t understand why I felt such helplessness.

A lot of things started happening then. In that conversation with my coworker, I said that I understood there was a reason, I just didn’t know what it was.

This is a brief story on the truth that there is a reason. His plan is perfect.

It started, with a dog. My sister Rosa and I spent pretty much every evening together with her daughter watching television. I’d hang out with my niece while she worked on an online college course. I let her dogs out, and realized at nine or ten at night that one dog was gone. The time I had with my sister and niece was perhaps the only place I had at that point in my life where I truly felt I was “right.” I felt as though I was competent. I felt as though every decision I made wasn’t some sort of epic failure, and then I lost my sister’s dog.

I told her, “I’m going to find her.” I wandered around in the rain, calling out her name, and, in between calling her, praying. “God, please reunite Rosa with her dog.” I was careful with the prayer. I wasn’t looking for God necessarily to make me look good. Instead, I was just asking God to reunite a person with her beloved pet. For perhaps a few hours I searched. The rain pounded me, but I held onto my faith. I desperately needed to see something.

Then I heard a voice, “You’re looking for that little white dog aren’t you?”

Standing outside in the pouring rain was a man smoking a cigarette. I wasn’t even sure how he was doing it. This was a real man. My sister knew him. They’d spoken. But there he was standing outside in the rain at that moment, at that time. So I called that little white dog the Miracle Dog.

In a lifetime filled with the abuse of so many people I loved, that little answered prayer (we found the dog a few minutes later) was this sip of water when I had felt like I was dying of thirst.

Perhaps you’re wondering how that one little thing could make up for at least four different instances of abuse in my family? Readers, that was a preview. It was God showing me, “Look how carefully I place people. Look how minute the details of my plans are.”

You see, he had to put me in a house I really didn’t have any business being in. He had to place me with a family that didn’t need to accept me. Rosa isn’t my sister by blood. We adopted each other. There wasn’t really a reason. It just happened. But there I was. Then he had to have a lost dog. I think the rain might have been just a flash of dramatic effect, but who am I to question God. Then he placed that guy outside at that exact moment just when I looked in that exact area to tell me something he’d briefly noticed hours before.

“Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways,” Romans 11:33.

The Bible is full of these stories of faith paying off. The birth of Isaac. Abraham’s testing with Isaac. But the one that sticks out to me the most, the story that I affiliate a bit more with now than I had previously, is the story of Joseph in Genesis. He was sold to slavery, imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit, forgotten in prison, and then, just when it was time, made the second most powerful man in Egypt.

There really are several stories of what some may call coincidence, and one might feel the Bible can have those because it was written to give faith. I’m not actually ready to present my case for why the Bible is real, though there are several books out there that address that question. All I need you to see is that the Bible has these stories. But I’d never thought in all my days that something like that would happen for me.

But that was just a dog. I mean, you keep looking long enough and you’ll find anything, right? Right! But why? Why keep looking. Why not give up? I had something to hold onto. Christ. It’s hard to explain the concept to you. There is no physical thing keeping me from denying Christ. Nothing is stoping me from turning away or letting him go. Nothing physical at least. Any non-believer could say, “Oh, just watch. If his life gets bad enough, he’ll turn away.”

Again, I was tempted. But that silly dog was the exact amount of encouragement I needed to begin a journey that strengthened me for even stronger trails, particularly the death of my mother.

But today is about how meticulous God’s plan is. Here I was, a man who was surrounded by horrid examples of what a father was, constantly feeling like he was failing his nieces and nephew. Here I was, a man helping to raise children that were never his. “Why!?” I wondered.

Then I met Julie, and then I met my sons. Three wonderful boys who fill my life with love and joy, and they needed me. I wrote that correctly. They didn’t need someone. They needed me! This isn’t arrogance. You see, my sons are struggling with their own feelings of loss and confusion. They’re struggling with a divorce of their own and trying to understand. I lived a life where I saw so many perfect examples of the worst a father could be, but I was also shown so many wonderful examples of what a father should be. The man who raised me. The comic shop owner who literally caught me trying to steal from him, and then forgave me, and then allowed me to take care of his shop when he went to get lunch. 

I met those boys and saw their need, and never felt more certain that I’d perfectly understood a very important verse of the Bible.

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today,” Genesis 50:20

God’s plan is perfect. In that moment I realized that every trial I faced and every hardship I encountered wasn’t necessarily punishment. I was unworked metal that needed forging for His use.

I was custom forged to be the father my sons so desperately wanted and needed, and now, looking back, I wouldn’t wish those I love to go through what they faced, for it was far harder than my own struggles, but if I could go through it alone, if I had to feel that pain again, I’d do it in a heartbeat if it would make me a fraction of a better father than the clumsy, well-meaning man I am now.

When we hold onto our faith, when we trust in His plan, in time, in His time, we understand why. The incident with the Miracle Dog was years before I met Julie, but God knew I needed just the smallest bit of light. I needed to find a stupid dog lost in the rain. I needed to see His perfect plan in that moment, just to get me by for a few more years until I could truly get it.

I have to tell you that not every suffering is made to forge you, but it can. It can prepare you. It can sanctify you. It can focus you. It can rebuke you. When you endure that suffering and maintain your faith, that comfort does a lot. But when you come out of the other side of the trial, I can tell you the blessings are far greater than the suffering was painful. One hug from my sons, and all of that pain and abuse just melted away. One smile from my sons, and I feel like the most blessed man in the world. One “I love you” from my sons, and I feel like the most loved man on earth.

And to think, it almost never happened. I could have chosen what many called, the wiser path. I could have stayed in the Navy. I could have gotten back into the Navy when I learned I’d been selected to be promoted to chief petty officer. I might have stayed in if the job at DINFOS wasn’t available. You see, even there is the meticulous work of our God. I wanted a job there as a civilian, but there weren’t any openings, not until a dear friend of mine got promoted, right when my time in the Navy was ending.

When we focus on all the bad that happens to us, we will only ever see our suffering. This is how we become convinced we’re alone. We’re looking at the punishment rather than our offense, or we’re looking at the fire rather than the blacksmith. But when you choose to focus on God, no matter what, you see the hope. At least, I did.

It might take hours, while you’re looking for a little dog in the rain. It might take years, while you’re working on getting a book published. It might take decades, while you’re looking at abuse and hate and hoping you’d get the chance to show love and compassion. The time it takes forges you. And when it all comes together, it’s more wonderful than you could imagine.

I’m still alive, so my trials aren’t over. I’ve had this time of joy in my life, and I mean to enjoy it. I mean to praise God for every minute of it. In times of need he is there. In times of plenty, He is there. Those times of need are when I know, after these days I’ve had, I can lean on Him harder. He is the secret to being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:11-13).

For our panel: What else does suffering do for us? What other value might there be in holding on to Christ?  How, can we hold on to Christ when we feel lost? Would you be willing to share a story in which you felt lost, and holding onto Christ helped you? How does holding on to Christ help us in the moment of suffering, before the relief comes?

Sonnets For My Savior 46

Sonnets For My Savior 46

What You Seek

Cry for those who turn from God to seek wealth.
Lament for those who prefer the respect of man over the Son’s sacrifice.
Mourn over those who think the things of this world lead to health.
Wail for those who cast aside God for the sake of any vice.

Listen for God’s call.
Respond when it comes.
Christ’s sacrifice is sufficient for all.
But it is to Him you must run.

God may grant an unrepentant child his earthly desires,
but those rewards are all the child will obtain.
When death comes, all that waits is a lake of fire.
The child has traded a moment of pleasure for an eternity of pain.

Think carefully about thing things you look for.
All the worldly things are filthy rags; God’s love is more.

 


 

Keep It

When the moon is gone, and the sky is black,
let me keep my faith in You.
When enemies surround me, and they are ready to attack,
let me keep my faith in You.

Should death be near, I shall not be afraid,
for I only pass through death to life unending.
Let me look upon Your grace having not strayed.
Help me hold to You with a trust unbending.

You created the Earth.
What could it do that You can’t control?
You power is the only power that holds worth.
Your grace is the only thing that can make a broken man whole.

When trials come to test our faith in You.
Let us endure the trail, keep our faith, and glorify You.

 


 

The Servant

He toils away through the night,
unsure of when his master will return.
He does as he knows is good and right,
and the master’s joy is what he will earn.

The manager is wise and faithful.
He’s determined to be ready.
The plates are clean as is the table.
His actions are trustworthy and steady.

When the master returns, the servant will be blessed,
for the servant was loyal and steadfast.
The humble servant passed the test,
so his gift is sure to last.

Christ will return when we least expect.
Display for Him how well His house has been kept.

 


 

Courage

The Lord our God is with me.
I shall be strong and of good courage.
Though enemies may surround me,
I shall not be discouraged. 

Wherever I may go,
He is my strength and my shield.
I stand firm because I know
none can match the power He wields.

What can the created do
against the might of the creator?
No matter the trials I go through,
I seek wisdom if I seek His favor.

I never have reason to fear
if I have faith in my God and keep Him near. 

 


 

Neighbor

Bleeding on the side of the road,
he’s beaten and broken.
They pass by as if they don’t know.
They pass by as if he hadn’t spoken.

Self-occupied and distracted,
they ignore others even when they have the means to assist.
Uncaring of how they have acted,
they’ve blinded themselves to the opportunity they’ve missed.

Love your neighbor as you love yourself.
Have compassion on them and offer them care.
Follow Christ and let go of yourself.
If you would receive, why do you refuse to share?

Treat your neighbors with love and kindness.
This is the fruit of a life of righteousness.

 


 

Trials

Let us face our trials with you on our minds.
Let us turn to you for strength.
Let us praise you all the more in trying times.
Let us hold fast to you no matter the trial’s length.

For you are our refuge.
You are our foundation.
You are our relief from aches many or few.
Glorifying you is appropriate in any situation.

Let us keep our faith in You.
You are our rock and our salvation.
Let our trust in Your will and glorify You.
Let us hold tight to You and resist temptation. 

We can not know how many trials may come;
May each cup pass, but regardless, Your will be done.

 


 

Weeds

They climb up from the soil,
choking the flowers that should bloom.
Though the sower did toil,
the weeds gave the seeds no room.

How the sower is saddened to see his seeds whither and die.
What wonderful things they could have been!
From the sower’s hands, the weeds did pry,
the life of the seeds and the plants within.

Be not the weed that chokes the seeds.
Let the flowers grow.
If you would be one who leads,
lead them to the sun and its eternal glow.

Seeds grow and become the sower’s crops and harvests earned,
but all that can be done with weeds is to be collected and burned.

Sonnets For My Savior 43

Sonnets For My Savior 43

Ungrateful

A mother protects her son from foolish deeds.
The son wails and gnashes his teeth in frustration.
His mind wants danger more than what he needs.
He sees the mother’s love as an act of restriction.

How much more has this happened to God the Father?
How often have we cursed Him for what would become our blessings?
How many times have we called His commandments a bother?
How frequently have we scorned Him out of desire for harmful things?

But our Father is patient, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He has plans for our welfare, which give us hope.
If everything that happens comes from God above,
why not be still and silent, for with Him, we can all cope.

How can we receive good from God and not receive the bad?
Why do we grumble over what we want, forgetting all we have?

 


 

The Change

In my mind, there is a mirror
Showing me the man I used to be.
The change in me becomes clearer,
for that wretched man sickens me.

He was angry and lustful.
He believed everything had to be done by his own hand.
He was bitter and mistrustful.
He only sought God to meet his every selfish demand.

How can such a different man wear the same face?
What can explain such a change?
It can only be God’s glorious grace.
Now the man I was seems strange.

Still, the mirror is a great comfort to me;
It shows me how I’ve changed and proves I’ve been set free.

 


 

Peace of Mind

Almighty above, you created man and his mind.
You have the power to quiet a man’s thoughts.
Hear now our prayer, for if we seek so shall we find.
His emotions are racing, and his ideas are tied in knots.

Let your servant’s head be clear.
Help him and guard him from false ideals.
For to you I surrender my anxiety and fear.
For only You can help; only you can heal.

Our trust is in your mercy and grace.
For you are slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
Look kindly upon your servant’s face
and grant him peace from above.

Let your name be praised, and bring glory to yourself.
Bring peace to his heart and return this man to himself.

 


 

Lament For A Guide

How long will your servant suffer?
How long will illness ravage his body?
Only You can free him, no other.
Hear our prayer and grant him the grace You embody.

How long will those who scorn you mock his testimony?
For he proclaimed his health to your name.
Heal him lest doubters scoff and call his praise of you phony.
Cleanse him lest doubters use this in attempt to bring you shame.

Our faith and trust are in You alone.
We praise You, for your mercy abounds.
We kneel before Your mighty throne.
When our strength fails, Your power compounds.

We sing Your praises even amid our pain.
We pray in hope, for in You our hope will always remain.

 


 

The Why

Why do you obey?
Is it for His glory or your reward?
For what reasons do you act in a certain way?
What are your treasures, and where are they stored?

What would you do if your prodigal brother returned?
Would you gnash your teeth and grumble?
Would you begrudge the loss of what you thought you’d earned?
Or would you be glad and remain humble?

Man can observe your actions and think you righteous,
But God sees the heart of every man.
It does you no good to only act pious,
if your actions are only part of a selfish plan. 

Deeds can seem wonderful to a merely human eye,
but those deeds are fear less important than the reason why.

 


 

Understanding

Thunder booms inside my mind.
The core of my spirit quakes.
In You is the only peace I’ll find,
For I lack the strength it takes.

My heart breaks with sadness.
My souls cries for relief.
My eyes seek and only find darkness.
This confusion vexes me beyond belief.

You understand that which is beyond my understanding.
Your comfort can soothe any pain.
Your love is far beyond human comprehending.
I cry out to you and pray in Your holy name.

Grant me wisdom and compassion to help my fellow man.
Work through me to comfort them even when I don’t understand.

 


 

You’re Going To Suffer Anyway

Pain comes to the wicked and the redeemed.
Misfortune falls on the generous and the selfish.
Trials come to the reviled and esteemed.
Death comes to those you hate as well as those you cherish.

Curious are those who turn from God because pain exists,
for their stiff necks don’t lead to lives without pain.
Curious are those who blaspheme God, shaking their fists,
for what does their fury ever obtain?

They make the same argument; pain comes to everyone,
but they only think in earthly ways.
However, what those who’ve turn to God have won,
is glory immeasurable in future days.

What is the reward of those who suffer without belief?
Those who have it can at least take comfort even when they feel grief.

Sonnets For My Savior 39

Sonnets For My Savior 39

The Only Way

It is Him.

There is no other way.

He has no alter ego or pseudonym.

Turning from Him only leads to dismay.

He is the only light.

There are no dimmer flames; His is the only one that exists.

Following Him is the only way that is right.

He is the only way in which salvation consists.

Only He paid the price.

Only He advocates for us.

We are only saved by His sacrifice.

To follow any other is treasonous.

There is only one who frees us,

and He is our Christ, Jesus.

 


 

The Mark of a Christian

A kind smile.

A generous gift.

One who walks the extra mile.

One whose values will never shift.

Providing for others

When they are in need.

Caring for one’s brothers

Rather than clinging to greed. 

Standing in truth.

Living in light.

Letting go the things of one’s youth.

Turning from wrong and doing what is right.

But the greatest trait of children from the Father above,

Is living a life with a heart full of love.

 


 

Holy Father

Holy Father,

There is no one above you.

Holy Father,

There is no one mightier than you.

You are merciful.

You are righteous.

You are wonderful.

You are glorious.

Holy Father,

You are life and light.

Holy Father,

In you are only goodness and right.

All glory be to Your name,

Our perfect, Father, whose grace washes away our shame.

 


 

His Glory

It would mean death to see His face,

for his glory is so great.

Oh! being wrapped in His grace

is such sweet, sweet state.

Moses stood in His presence,

and the mere reflection required a veil.

Oh! to have that pleasance!

Our God shall always prevail.

Gracious and merciful.

Slow to anger. Abounding in love and faithfulness.

Every action of His is purposeful.

He forgives the repentant when they transgress.

Let Him be worshiped in every territory,

for to God alone belongs the glory.

 


 

More

Too often I do what I do not want to do.

Too often I do what I hate.

But the Lord’s love for me is true.

His grace is more, and His mercy is grate.

My iniquities form a mountain I can’t climb.

My sins form chains I can’t break.

But the Lord lifts me time after time.

Any prison created, he can unmake.

My sins are countless.

His kindness is boundless.

My failings are limitless.

His love is endless.

My crimes are too great for any to ignore,

but my Lord’s forgiveness is so much more.

 


 

Endure

Endure, though you may lose everything.

Endure, though you may lose those you love.

Endure, though pain may bring its sting.

Endure, for God is watching from above.

Endure, though your heart may be filled with sadness.

Endure the trial with every breath.

Endure, when circumstances threaten to bring you to madness.

Endure, though you may be near death.

The sufferings of this present time

are not worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed to us.

His presence is so sublime,

as to make all the earthly things we’ve lost rubbish to us.

Endure, even if it’s hard to understand what your suffering is for.

Endure, for what we have in Heaven will be worth even more.

 


 

Joy

Beware the difference between joy and feeling good.

A feeling passes and doesn’t endure.

Joy remains when no one thinks it should.

Joy isn’t cheaply earned; it’s real and pure.

Understand where joy comes from.

It doesn’t come from the things of the Earth.

All the things of world will fall away when time is done.

But joy can be ours if we believe in Christ’s birth.

He provides freedom.

He offers peace.

Service in His kingdom

ensures one a joy that will never cease.

The most pure joy doesn’t come from within.

The most pure form of joy comes only from Him.

Sonnets For My Savior 35

Sonnets For My Savior 35

The Beauty of a Christly Family

Why do we hide our pain?

Did Job suffer silently?

Could it be we think our suffering means our faith is in vain?

Could we think that crying out means we don’t believe fervently?

Perhaps others suffer more greatly,

but that doesn’t make our pain any less.

If we bear our pain in a manner more stately,

does it honestly reduce our distress?

Even Christ asked his disciples to watch with Him when His betrayal drew near.

So why do resist sharing our fears with our brothers?

Could it be that what holds us back is fear,

fear that might lessen our perception from others?

Believers, suffering doesn’t have to be yours alone to bear.

The beauty of a Christly family, is that, even in suffering, we can share.

 


 

Suffering Doesn’t Mean Forsaken

We may suffer, but we are not forgotten.

Indeed, we were promised suffering would come.

Even if we lose all we’ve gotten,

It does not mean God’s heart has grown numb.

This doesn’t mean pain isn’t real.

It doesn’t mean we won’t wonder why.

Every living loved one will feel,

agony when the ones they love die.

It’s okay to pray for wisdom.

It’s okay to pray for pain to end.

It’s okay to seek freedom.

It’s okay to share your pain with a friend.

It’s not a sin to pray to God when you suffer;

It’s a sign that you trust Him more than any other.

 


 

He Is With You

Fear not, for He is with you.

He is greater than the one who is in the world.

No matter what man may do,

God’s Son has overcome the world.

He delivered the Israelites from the Egyptians.

He delivered David from the hands of Saul.

When one man sought to persecute Christians,

God changed that man’s heart, and thus was born the Apostle Paul.

What man does for evil; He does for good.

No suffering compares with the glory in the life to come.

Trust in His will, and do as you should,

for by this, God’s will is done.

Take heart; fear not; He is with you.

Find comfort in His grace, for there is nothing He can’t do.

 


 

Father

Grant me wisdom, LORD, help me start my children off the way they should go.

Keep them on the path, even when they’re old.

I yearn to see them learn and grow.

Their learning is such a blessing to behold.   

You are my fortress;

grant my sons shelter.

Don’t let me lead them to distress,

lest they turn from you in anger.

Change me, and make me an example,

one they can follow that pleases you.

Let my patience and love be ample,

so my teaching and instruction are true.

My son’s are a blessing I cherish;

let me lead them to You until the day I perish.

 


 

Selfish

I’m a fool.

I count the minutes of the day and think them mine.

I know the world is yours to rule,

but my hardened heart covets time.

Change me.

I serve, but my desire to do what I wish steals my true happiness.

Set me free.

I’m chained by my own selfishness.

Make me yours.

Grant me a heart that savors the tasks you give me.

I praise your name, and my heart soars,

but I’m not as willing to serve as I ought to be.

My heart is wrong, and only you can change it;

Help me grow, lest my desire to please you become forfeit.

 


 

Wise Provider

Our Lord never fails to provide.

He always gives us what we need.

Our Lord is always on our side.

He always hears those who pray and plead.

Our Lord knows all our necessities better than we do.

He knows what we must have isn’t the same as what we desire.

Our Lord is always faithful and true.

Just because He denies us doesn’t make Him a liar.

Our Lord formed the earth and carefully placed every river and tree.

He formed our bodies into intricate machines.

So trust in God, who brought all to be,

for He alone truly understands your means.

Do not feel abandoned if God denies your request.

Instead trust in Him because in Him, you are blessed.

 


 

Though I Am Unfaithful

I sin, oh LORD, when I forget You.

I abandon You and let You slip from my mind.

I cry out to You, knowing You are always true,

but I forget my promises to You time after time.

I have sinned against my God, who is faithful!

My heart is grieved that I could forget You so.

Have mercy, LORD, and do not be wrathful.

In Your mercy help me to change and grow.

My heart trembles to think I have wronged You,

so I call upon your grace and forgiveness.

You are a loving God, and I see that in all You do.

You hold me and teach me even through my unfaithfulness.

Change me, Lord, so I might serve you more faithfully.

Change me, Lords, so I might serve you more cheerfully.

Sonnets For My Savior 30

Sonnets For My Savior 30

The Body

Where is the body you worked so hard to bury?

What happened to the guards you set to watch the grave?

Rejoice believers and be merry,

Look, there is no body in the cave!

Man has found the tomb of Tutankhamun.

Indeed the body John the Baptist lay in Syria.

But where is the body of the Son of Man?

The truth is those who would deny him lack the most basic criteria.

Some have claimed he was stolen in the night.

Doubters say the body was concealed.

Couldn’t Rome and the Pharisees find a body with all their power and might?

Instead the Faith grew with no body revealed.

If emperors and armies sought the body and could not see,

the only logical reason is that He is risen! He is risen indeed!


 

Lazarus

Lazarus sleeps while his sisters cry.

They send word, but the time has not come.

They fear Lazarus is doomed to die,

but this trail is for the will of God to be done.

Four days, Lazarus slept.

Jesus arrived, already knowing what had occurred.

He looked upon the sisters and wept,

but what happened next, would change all who saw and heard.

“Come out!” the Lord had said after they’d rolled the stone away,

and out Lazarus came, strips of linen around his hands and feet.

Many saw and believed that day,

From then on, the hypocrites plotted, blind in their conceit.

They never thought to ask themselves the meaning of the event,

that the world could look and see that Jesus was truly, truly God sent.


 

Reason For Suffering

True, some people suffer for the sins they commit.

The wickedness of the wicked is upon himself.

Relief is there for those who turn to Christ and submit,

but only death waits for those who relies on themself.

There are also those who suffer so that God may be glorified.

Observe Job and see how he endured.

Be patient and trust God will provide,

Do not turn to sin for comfort, but hear these words and be reassured.

Still those who are truly blessed are those who suffer simply for his sake.

Blessed are those who are persecuted and reviled!

For the Kingdom of Heaven awaits!

Rejoice, for your rewards have been gathered and piled!

For whatever reason one thinks he may suffer,

Seek Christ; trust in him and no other.


 

To Control Ourselves

Some seek to use the Word to lift themselves up.

They use scripture to justify their own goals.

They have no interest in drinking from their own cup.

In seeking to condemn others, they only risk their own souls.

Some seek to use the Word to do as they wish.

They only seek the words that validate their own desire.

They treat the word like some sort of buffet dish,

but this path only leads to fire.

The saints are called to judge each other.

God judges those outside.

But consider also before you call out your brother,

what sins of your own are you trying to hide?

When we pull our Bibles from the shelves,

we should use it first to control ourselves.


 

The Greatest

He who would be first should be last.

Those who would be greatest should serve.

Let man’s pride be left in the past.

For we’ve already received more than we deserve.

Seek to be the servant of all.

Welcome the little children in his name.

Listen to hear His glorious call,

rather than seek your own fame.

A servant is not greater than his master.

A messenger is not greater than the one who sent it.

To serve the self is the path to disaster.

But blessed are those who serve and submit.

Care for the children and welcome them;

those who do receive Christ and the Father who sent him.


 

The Greatest Power

There is only the one creator.

He who made all.

There are none who can do more,

And all power is His to call.

No burning star,

Can shine as bright.

No crashing wave

Can match His might.

Other powers desire

What tiny spark he gives

But none can match the fire

Of the eternal God for which we live.

No other power can compare

Against the Lord, our God, who made the sea, land, and air.


 

Hold Me

Hold me tightly, Lord, in your mighty hands.

I know none can take me from you.

Your might is greater than anyone understands.

Whatever comes, You can carry me through.

Grip me more tightly, Lord, that I might be nearer

Nearer to you every day.

As You carry me, my eyes become clearer.

As I am with You, I see a better way.

Hold me, Lord, and let me take my rest in Your grace

Because I have none of my own.

I have no hope if I plead my own case;

I am forgiven through Christ alone.

Hold me tightly, Lord, that I might feel you with me.

Your embrace is comfort; Your love sets me free.

Sonnets For My Savior 17

Sonnets For My Savior 17

Turn Away

Turn away from your sins

regardless of their name.

The path to righteousness first begins

By seeing each sin as one and the same.

Do not seek to weigh one sin against another.

Do not claim another’s sin is worse than your own.

For the Lord in Heaven, your almighty Father,

equally hates any evil seed man has sown.

Worry more about the plank in your own eye

and less about the speck in your brother’s.

Repent of your own sins, lest you die

while in your pride, you were lost judging others.

Repent and seek salvation through Christ our Savior,

because you’ll only find Hell seeking your own foolish favor.


 

Fill Out Hearts With Trust

We offer our prayers and petitions with thanksgiving;

let our hearts not be anxious, but trust in You.

Your strength and faithfulness are unending;

You will strengthen and uphold us just as You say You do.

The peace You give us is perfect and true;

let us not be worried, upset or afraid.

When our anxiety was great, and we were blue,

Your consolation brought us joy, our fears did fade.

We pray to You, asking for aid,

but let us do so with faith and trust.

Help us remember that every promise You have made

has been kept, for You are just.

You hear all the prayers of Your faithful;

therefore, we have no reason to be doubtful.


 

Everyday Blessings

A child’s smile at bedtime,

a wife’s kiss in the morning,

fill my heart for such a long time

and send my hear soaring.

How wonderful are You, God, to bless me so.

A friend’s chuckle at a jest,

makes my heart glow,

and I feel so blessed.

How wonderful You are to me.

Every breath is a gift.

All these things You give for free,

and, my heart, these blessings uplift.

How glorious are Your blessings each day,

but the greatest is Your love, which can never be taken away.


 

Beyond Human Understanding

Who can know Your will?

Who could fathom your plans?

Yours is the wisdom of infinite skill.

Yours are the mightiest of hands.

Your plan was made before You spoke the universe into existence.

Your plan was complete before You even uttered a single word.

There are none who can bring Your song dissonance.

For everything that happened did so exactly as You preferred.

Foolish men scheme unaware of Your design.

Men of little faith question why You allow certain things.

But there are no mortal words that can accurately define

the inscrutable, unknowable greatness Your sovereign judgement brings.

Let us remember that Your wisdom surpasses understanding,

so we can trust in Your grace, for it is everlasting.


 

Endure

We may suffer for a little while,

but He will restore us and make us strong.

Though trials and issues may pile,

He will see you through, for, to him, you belong.

We should rejoice when we face these trials,

for these tests produce perseverance.

Even if our journey spans miles and miles,

God can carry us through any distance.

We are not discouraged,

for He is with us wherever we go.

For in His strength, we find courage,

and in his wisdom, for there is nothing he does not know.

So we strive to endure all things,

trusting in His grace and the peace that it brings.


 

Service For You

I see moments of fellowship as obstacles.

I see chances to bear fruit as impositions on my time.

When I have the chance to speak of your chronicles,

instead I sinfully try and make the moment mine.

How selfish of me to see opportunity as inconvenience!

How horrible to see this chance to serve as a bother!

Help me, Lord, to remember Your Son’s deliverance.

Help me follow His example, Heavenly Father.

Each moment is a blessing,

for it is a chance to glorify Your name.

What should ever be more pressing,

pride, money, or fame?

These fleshly things will all pass away,

but blessed is the one who takes advantage of the chance to serve and obey!


 

Your Power, Not Mine

Why trust in my mind,

when Yours was the one that created all things?

What is the strength of all mankind,

when compared to the King of Kings?

Wisdom is made foolish.

Strength is made weak.

What can we ever hope to accomplish,

without He who promised the world to the meek?

Our own ability, compared to His, is small.

Let us instead seek him in times of peril.

Trust in Him, who created all.

Trust in Him, who defeated evil.

We cannot hope to find our power within,

but true might comes only through putting faith in Him.

Sonnets for My Savior 12

Sonnets for My Savior 12

Why Do We Suffer Part I

Some ask why we suffer?

The challenge is to claim no good God would allow such.

Why do men hurt one another?

Why would He let pain fall on any who worship Him so much?

The noise grows louder when those who praise Him face pain.

They ask who would follow a God who allows His followers to come to ruin.

The temptation is to turn from Him and curse His name.

The desire is to turn from Him and rely on what lies within.

They do not know or remember the trials of Job.

They don’t know or remember that Jesus told them they would face resistance.

They want only a God who gives and blesses, but they do not know

that God is sovereign, and sometimes He tests us to se if we’ll go the distance.

It is easy to worship when one has blessing on top of blessing,

but it takes true faith to remember to praise Him even in our suffering.


 

Why Do We Suffer Part II

How easy is it to sing praise when one is happy?

How easy is it to forget to praise when one is sated?

One proves faith by keeping it while unhappy.

One is blessed even if it seems his end is fated.

We don’t crave the cups we must drink,

nor do we eagerly await the cross we must bear.

But neither can we fail to think

that when times are hard that God is still there.

We endure because today’s suffering doesn’t compare to tomorrow’s glory.

We endure because that’s what suffering brings.

The grace He provides is promissory,

of the blessings He’ll give in the next life for which we’re aching.

We suffer, and there are many reasons,

but blessed are those who honor God in good or bad seasons.


 

Let Us Be Grateful

You led the Israelites out of Egypt with your powerful miracles.

Yet soon after, they rebelled.

They foolishly thought lack of food and water were sufficient obstacles

to the God who held apart the Red Sea no matter how it swelled.

You granted Your people their portions,

Yet they fell away even after you sent your Judges.

You worked through Samuel, Eli, Abdon, and Sampson to execute your actions,

but time after time they turned away, forgetting their pledges.

They had, yet they wanted more.

They made demands even after you freed them from slavery.

Let us learn from those who came before,

and not become ungrateful, turning to acts that are unsavory.

Let us be grateful to you always!

May we keep you with us all of our days!


 

Our Cross

You carried Your cross for our sins;

let us carry ours to glorify you.

Your yoke is easy, and light is your burden,

so we seek to follow you.

We must deny ourselves our desires

and take up our crosses.

Of your gospel, let us be testifiers.

Let us praise you no matter what transpires.

We offer our lives for your sake;

we submit to your example.

When you come again, let us be awake

let the fuel for our lamps be ample.

For there is no profit worth our souls,

so let following you be our only goal.


 

Our Rock

Let us build our homes on the rock.

This foundation will protect us in the storm.

Great are the words you’ve given Your flock.

Let us hear them and conform.

You are the pillar of our lives.

With you as our foundation, we can stand.

We wait in hope of the day Your Son arrives,

so we can live with him in his Holy, remade land.

Let us stand firm with You.

Let us be always guarded by Your armor.

Let us be diligent in all that we do,

to make sure our efforts show you honor.

Protect us from the winds, and don’t let us fall.

For you, mighty God, are the rock of all.


 

Your Grace

Your grace is the only reason for our forgiveness.

Your grace is sufficient for all our needs.

Your grace is truly limitless.

Your grace guards us when temptation calls us to shameful deeds.

Your grace is how we receive mercy.

Your grace is given to the humble.

Your grace aids us in the midst of controversy.

Your grace abounds when those who love you with all their heart stumble.

Your grace delivers us from the dominion of sin.

Your grace toward us is never in vain.

Your grace through Your Son has made us heirs with Him.

Your grace comforts us when we are in pain.

Your grace makes it possible for us to live.

Your grace is such a great gift for you to give.


 

The Way, The Truth, and The Life

He is the only path to see our Father.

He is the example to follow.

Only He could pay for our sins, no other.

He intercedes on our behalf because our words and deeds are hollow.

He gave of his body for us.

His blood was poured out for many.

He endured our punishment for us.

He gave for us more than any.

His lessons guide those who follow his truth.

His lessons teach any who can hear.

His lessons are for any adult or any youth.

His blessings are great when one keeps him near.

He is our Savior who gives life after death.

Let as pray, follow, and serve him with every action, and every step, and every breath.