A Prodigal Poem

I wrote the following poem for a sermon I wrote and preached on 03/27/22. The text was Luke 15:11-32, The Parable of the Prodigal Son (you probably figured that out from the poem title). I haven’t written a poem for a while but when I wrote the sermon title, “From Pig Slop to Fattened Calf”, the poem began to flow. I share this with you for the glory of God.


From pig slop to fattened calf
Jesus died on my behalf.
Spotless lamb he’s true and right.
Suffered, died, was raised by might.
Sinner I am, prodigal yes
Father God I am, such a mess.
Father God, You run to me.
Restoration by decree.
You’re full of love and mercy too.
Embracing me You make me new.

Stiff Necked People

Below is my article for the Buffalo Center Tribune. This article is based on our daily Bible reading in a Bible reading Facebook Group that I lead. We have so far read through the Gospel of Mark and Hebrews. Currently we are working through Acts. So I present this to the glory of God.


At the writing of this article, the Facebook Bible reading group that I lead is reflecting on Acts chapter seven. It is the account of Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit. He has been serving the people and performing great signs and wonders. Opponents eventually rise up to confront Stephen and debate him, “but they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.” (Acts 6:10). They then concoct some trumped up charges and the religious leaders seize him and bring Stephen before the council. Finally, in Acts 7:1, the high priest questions Stephen, “Are these things so?” Stephen then launches into sermon through what we call the Old Testament. Starting with Abraham and going through Solomon, Stephen recounts God’s work among his people. I read through Stephen’s sermon, and it took me about seven minutes to complete it. For seven minutes or so, the council listened without objection. They had no problem with what he was saying. There was no heresy, nothing offensive, and definitely nothing divisive. It wasn’t until verse fifty-one that Stephen got into trouble when he said, “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you…” When Stephen applied the text and spoke the truth to them; the truth that they are sinners, the council became enraged.

And whether you like it or not, what Stephen said to that council that day also applies to you: You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. Please do not stone me like what they did to Stephen. Hopefully you can handle the truth. And besides, it is not me declaring this truth but rather God. But even so, many resist proclaiming this truth out of fear of being stoned by others. But as I like to say, you cannot truly hear the Good News of Easter until you have gone through Good Friday.

And so, I invite you to embrace this Lenten season. Reflect on your sinfulness and confess your sins. Remember that from dust you came and to dust you shall return. Remember that without God, death will embrace you forever. Remember and acknowledge your stiff-neckness (yes, I know that is not a word). Remember all of this but also know that there is a Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the Good News. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Jesus is the Resurrection, the Good Shepherd, the Bread of Life and the Light of the world. Jesus is the only Gate to God’s pastures, the Narrow Way.

And so, You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, do not resist the Holy Spirit. Embrace this Good News and praise Him, always and forever, Amen.

Anchor

The following is my article for the Buffalo Center Tribune. To God be the glory!


In reading Hebrews chapter 6 in our Facebook Bible reading group, I stumbled upon and stopped in this phrase nestled into verse 19, “We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul…”. The “this” being referred to is the hope that is set before us, a hope guaranteed by God through an oath. But what specifically is the hope and why does it need to be guaranteed by an oath made by God? Those are excellent questions. I am so glad you asked. Allow me to continue with an illustration:


Let’s assume that you are in search of a candy bar because you really, really like candy bars. And then one day I approached you on main street and said, “I am going to give you a candy bar tomorrow.” Now let’s assume that the candy bar in question is your absolute favorite and I am the only one who has any. Let’s also assume you are not weirded out by my offer. Now, would you need me to guarantee my statement with, let’s say, an “oath signed in blood”? Probably not because we are only talking about a candy bar, your favorite or not. If I did not follow through, you might be a little disappointed, but you would probably get over it quickly, and go one looking for a different candy bar.


Okay Pastor how does this relate to those nicely nestled words in Hebrews 6?
Just hang on, I am getting there.


Now, let us consider this scenario. You are dying and are desperate for a cure. You find that cure, but the price is too steep. Somebody must pay and you know that you cannot. Now, this person who has the cure says to you, “I will give you the cure tomorrow. No strings attached, a free gift. You just need to trust me” This is definitely no candy bar so would you need more than just this statement? Remember, you are dying, and this cure is your only hope and you do not know when you will die. I think I would need a guarantee.


Here’s the real situation, YOU are the person who is dying and the cure is Jesus. The sure and steadfast anchor for your soul, an oath signed with blood, is Jesus’ death on the cross and the fact that he rose from the dead – FOR YOU. This resurrection means that your sins have been forgiven and thus you will no longer die. You just need to trust him. Yes, you will die one day, but that is only the doorway to God’s mansion where death has been obliterated.


You do not need to look for another cure for what ails you in this life. And, you do not need to wait until tomorrow. The cure is yours NOW. Many will offer you options, but only God guarantees His cure and signs His oath in blood, the blood of Jesus. Forget the candy bars of this world. Stop your searching. Trust Jesus. It is all about Jesus, Amen.

Opening Prayer ~ Power and Authority

Holy God,
all authority and power resides with You
for You are power and authority;
sovereign over all creation.
You are mighty and merciful,
full of grace and truth.
You are the very breath we breathe.
You are our life.
No heart beat goes by without Your knowledge and guiding hand,
and what a wonderful place to be –
in Your hands.
We do not have enough words or the capacity to glorify You as You deserve,
so we ask
that Your Spirit may intercede for us
and through us
so that Your praises ring loud and clear.
To You be all glory, honor, praise, worship and thanksgiving, through Christ Jesus our Lord,
Amen.

Jonah

Below is my newest article for the Buffalo Center Tribune. I am now on a new schedule. Instead of the 2nd and 4th weeks of the month, I will be publishing an article every other week. Not a huge change but it will mean the opportunity to write more often over the course of the year 🙂 To God be the glory!


I realize that we have just finished Christmas, but I am going to say that “L” word anyway: Lent. There, I wrote it. I feel better now, like a huge weight off my chest (sorry, that sounds like I am laying it on thick). Anyway, Lent is coming soon with Ash Wednesday on March 2. Why in the world is this guy talking about Lent in January? Well, the reason I am mentioning Lent is that I am excitedly working on my midweek preaching series through the book of Jonah. You mean the guy who got swallowed by a whale? Actually, the Bible says a “big fish”, but that is just splitting hairs, back to my point.


I have always liked Jonah because he is more like us than we sometimes care to admit. He is a prophet; someone who claims that he fears God (at least that is what he told the sailors on that stormy sea). But yet, Jonah repents (runs away) from God when God commanded him to preach a message to a people that he (Jonah) did not like. Most God-fearing people repent from sin, not God. But admit it, you have run away from God’s call more that you care to admit. You do not have to answer that right now – back to Jonah. Jonah finally goes to “those people” after being vomited up on a beach following a three-day stint in the belly of a big fish. Jonah preaches the message of judgment but is fearful that God will be merciful if “those people” repent. “Those people” do repent and God is merciful, and Jonah is angry. “SMITE THEM, O GOD. THEY DO NOT DESERVE MERCY.” And the story continues, but I will save the rest for Lent.


Sorry to leave you hanging, but my point here is not to advertise Lent (which I am kind of doing) but rather to draw your attention to an important truth: Living in the belly of a fish is smelly and miserable. Well duh, I don’t need a pastor to tell me that. Actually, you kind of do, because if you are running away from God, life does not smell like roses, despite what you may say. Life is miserable and stinky because running away from God never turns out well for the runner, just ask Jonah.


And so, instead of running away from God, run to God – not stopping to smell the roses but smelling them along the way. This does not mean life will be easy. This does not mean that you will always enjoy everything God commands you. What this means is that you will be part of God’s perfect and sovereign plan – a beautiful painting yet to be revealed, even if you do not understand it. But when you see that painting someday, through Jesus Christ, it will all make sense and thus God will be glorified. Do not try to create your own painting; your own story but be part of God’s story; God’s painting. Get out of that fish’s belly you are in and trust God. I promise you; you will not be disappointed. Amen.

Year In Review

The following is a fun little year in review that I wrote for our church newsletter. But first, a little context for those not familiar:
~ My call process began April 13, 2021
~ We moved into the parsonage on August 20 during a freak, massive rainstorm that sent water into our basement and garage, and more during the upcoming week. All is good now.
~ My first Sunday was our 125th anniversary celebration.
~ Children? There are a lot here in this small town and church 🙂

So there you have it. Hopefully that did not ruin the poem for you. Enjoy and to God be the glory 🙂


On April the thirteenth my year began,
As God prepared me for my new clan.
With interview one and interview two,
We would soon move in and need a canoe.
But God’s sovereign will would not be denied,
With us to B.C., He was our great guide.
And then it began on a big weekend,
So many years, to God I commend.
We worshipped as one and dwelt in God’s Word,
With Jesus as Lord, the Gospel was heard.
And the children, wow, we do have a lot.
And our teachers, wow, lacking they are not.
Our town is small but always big in heart.
What a great place to get a brand-new start.
And there’s more to say, but now it is time,
To end this silly poem and quit the rhyme.
And so, I thank my God for everyone.
God’s amazing love cannot be outdone.

Happy New Year

That’s pretty much it – wishing you a blessed 2022. And for my resolutions? Well…none of the typical clichés but rather to continue following Jesus and placing my trust in him in all things and in all circumstances. I fail a lot but my God is faithful. And I thank God for that.

But what else…

~ There will continue to be articles from the Buffalo Center Tribune.

~ There will continue to be random poems.

~ There will continue…

…well, you get the picture. It’s a new year but the same me. So there you have it. To God be all glory in 2022.

Amen!

The 12 Gospel Days of Christmas

The following is my article for the Buffalo Center Tribune for this week. It is a poem I published here last year but thought it was worthy to share again. To God be the glory


The following is a poem that I wrote for the end of the twelve days of Christmas last year, 2020. I share it with you now – before Christmas – to prepare your hearts for the Good News of Jesus. For you see, Jesus is more than the “stuff” of Christmas. Jesus is God incarnate; love made manifest; forgiveness; salvation; mercy and Life. Jesus was born in a stable FOR YOU and FOR ME. Christmas, not just twelve days but every day, is about Jesus. And so, to the glory of God, I present you this poem:
My true Love doesn’t give me things like partridges or turtle doves, French hens or pipers piping, dancing ladies or egg-laying geese. My true Love does not give me silly things like these. My true Love, Jesus, gave to me…
(1) Instead of a partridge in a pear tree, I have a Savior who died for me.
(2) Instead of two turtle doves, I have His love that came down from above.
(3) Instead of three French hens, I have the faith to boldly pray my amens.
(4) Instead of four calling birds, I have His inspired, infallible, inerrant holy Word.
(5) Instead of five golden rings, I have a Spirit-renewed heart that sings.
(6) Instead of six geese a-laying, I have confidence that with Him I will be staying.
(7) Instead of seven swans a-swimming, I have a joy that is more than brimming.
(8) Instead of eight maids a-milking, I have His promises fulfilled that He’s not bilking (yes, that’s a word – and used correctly).
(9) Instead of nine ladies dancing, I have a place in His holy court, at whom I won’t be just glancing.
(10) Instead of ten lords a-leaping, I have security in His hands in which I have safekeeping.
(11) Instead of eleven pipers piping, I have the sure and certain hope that my tears He will be wiping.
(12) Instead of twelve drummers drumming, I have excitement that my Lord Jesus will soon be coming.

My true Love gave me everything I need, for all that I need is Him. And all that YOU need is him as well. Merry Christmas and Amen.

Samuel

The following is my article for the Buffalo Center Tribune that was published this week. I hope you enjoy it. To God be the glory.


I would like to introduce you to someone. His name is Samuel. Samuel has been visiting our home for about four years now. He shows up every year starting December 1 and returns home after Christmas. Each morning when my kids wake up, Samuel is hiding someplace different, so the fun is searching for him. This morning (December 1) he was sitting on top of our grandfather clock because, well, it is time (see what I did there?).


I know what you are probably thinking: Well, isn’t this cute. He’s talking about his Elf on a Shelf. And you would be wrong. Samuel is not an elf; he is our Shepherd on the Search. The search for what (or whom)? Samuel is on the search for Jesus. Each morning when the kids get up, they are searching, not just for, but with Samuel. You see, Samuel does not report back to Jesus on whether they have been naughty or nice, but rather, reminds us that because we are naughty, Jesus was born for us. He was born to die on the cross and rise from the grave for the forgiveness of our naughtiness. And that is what Christmas is all about. Now, I could easily say, “Amen” and end this article right here with that statement, but I am not done.


What are you searching for this Christmas? Are you searching for some normalcy after a pandemic-stricken year seemingly stole Christmas last year? Are you searching for that perfect gift? What is the object of your searching? What is getting your focus? The world has seemingly hijacked Christmas with its materialistic ad campaigns filled with stuff that you simply “must have”. And thus, the world tries to define the object of your searching. But really, can you honestly remember what you got for Christmas 10 years ago? Five years ago? Last year? I cannot remember, but I do remember what God gave me 2000 years ago. God gave me Himself in Jesus Christ, and let me tell you, that is the gift that keeps on giving. It keeps on giving because I keep on being naughty. No, I am not unique in that sense for you/we are all naughty, all sinners in need of a Savior. And the searching is not because Jesus is playing some cosmic game of hide and seek. The searching is our reminder that Christmas is more than we think. It is not about worrying that some elf or shepherd will report back to Jesus with a list of your naughtiness. No, rather Jesus is full of grace and mercy. That is Christmas. It is all about Jesus FOR YOU.


So may your Christmas searching shine the light of hope that through faith in Jesus, you have everlasting life. Keep your eyes firmly fixed on the baby in the manger and see a love like none other, for God IS love. Amen and happy searching.

Alone

It is not good for one to be
alone.
Oh, my God, how I long to be
known.
Known by brothers and sisters,
Connected in Christ,
For we are stronger together,
Let me say that twice.
It is not good for one to be
alone.
Alone I am vulnerable.
Alone I am weak.
Alone I am indefensible.
Here I do not misspeak.
It is not good for one to be
alone.
But even though my brothers and sisters are distant –
for now,
I am never truly
alone.
For through Jesus’ blood,
and his life,
my sins he did
atone.
Oh God, my God,
thank YOU that I am never truly
alone.