The Journey

Normally I wouldn’t post something that hasn’t been tweaked and polished. My last spoken word poem, “The Invitation“, has been fairly well received though, so I wanted to give you a sneak peak at my next project. It is called “The Journey”. It is based on my original poem “Weary Heart, Holy Ground“, but I wanted to take us deeper into the life of Jesus, and explore what it means to have communion with him in his life and death. When it’s finished it should be twice as long at what’s  already here.

I hope it encourages you!

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The Journey

Who are you when you’re in the dark?
When heaven in silent and just a spark
Or whisper is all you’d need to want to take
Another breathe, but you’re a crystal about to break?

Go on down to the silent place,
You who dare to seek God’s face.
For it may be you’ll find down there
An answer for that load you bear.

Stop not at the convenient spot
You’ve been before, for God is not
A landmark on a religious map,
Or a brew poured from some preacher’s tap.

Continue on with your open sores
To solitary haunted shores
Where human voices utter not
One breath of what a true God aught
To do or say or even be,
Except that He once died for thee.

Sit awhile in the cold dark tomb-
That barren place that became the womb
Of every hope we ever had,
And the death of all that makes men mad,
For that is where our God is found.
Your weary heart is holy ground.

Three days will pass or maybe more
‘Til angels move the great stone door
Locked tight against the morning sun.
But that first crack of light will stun
Lies hell has placed within your mind.
Walk out free and leave behind
The shame, the fear; let them rest
And walk out into Easters best.
Take whatever is left of you
Discard the lie, embrace the true.

Meet in the garden of your soul
A man who makes the broken whole.
You may not recognize at first
The one we crucified and cursed,
But hope will rise like an ancient flame
The first time that he calls your name.

Candy Coated Refugees

Throwing out a minuscule response to the refugee crisis this week, it seems I ruffled a few feathers and I thought a longer response might be the order of the day, so here goes…*deep breath*…

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I read a tweet recently regarding refugees from Syria that went something like this: “For all you bleeding heart liberals that want to welcome refugees: I’ve got 10,000 M&Ms, and only 10 are poisoned. How many of you want to grab a handful?”

“I know you didn’t ask,” I responded, “but consider this: Jesus would eat all of them, buddy. That’s how much he loves M&Ms.”

The response I got from this was terrific. A lot of people obviously love candy. Others probably have a sweet tooth, but think it should be satisfied by munching on confectionaries in moderation after careful inspection. Still others guard their health above all else, and would toss the whole lot in the trash at the first signs of a tummy ache.

The quote of the week goes to my friend Jeff. While we were in a lengthy discussion that spanned multiple subjects, he posited that Jesus would eat all the M&Ms and then reach for the Reese’s Pieces after the rapture had taken place.

But I digress.

What I’m stuck on, I guess, is the fact that God’s outrageous love stretches even to the wack-job wearing a balaclava, holding keys to a cage in one hand and a jerry can in the other. I’m not saying I understand it. Lord have mercy, there is a dark part of me that doesn’t even approve of that kind of affection. Give me a couple pieces of wood, a hammer and some spikes, and I’d have that jihadist up on a cross so fast I’d get the Legionnaire of the Year award.

He’d be hanging in the shadow of Jesus.

UnknownAnd then the refugees come, and people are peeing in their pants with the fear that they all look Middle Eastern. Our Prime Minister seems anxious to prove something, and wants to usher them in with an expedience that has us suddenly standing in front of our families while reaching for our sidearms.

So the refugees hang there on their own cross beside Jesus, just down the line from the ISIS madman, lost between the people that want to kill them and angels who would welcome them.

It may very well be that we only have time to rescue one.

We live in a world that needs order. Without proper logistics and due process the refugee crisis will simply take the off-ramp onto the boulevard of a different set of problems. Is there anyone who disagrees with that?

So screen them, form the queues, do the research. I’m all for it.

But while there are already processes in place to cover security issues, some who claim to follow Jesus are willing to slam the door in the face of fathers and mothers who walked away from home and country because they don’t want their children to die under the knife. Safety comes first, these “Christians” say. My friends, if there is crap in heaven it just hit the fan. In my opinion, at that point we have finished having a dialogue about safety and have surrendered to the jihadist’s cage and the terrorist’s howl of “Allahu Akbar.”

I am a Christian living in Canada. I have helped elect politicians that I pray will have the backbone to lead us through this time, vigilant but without fear, willing to put our nation in harms way for the sake of a value greater than safety.

America, my dear neighbour, is your’s still the land of the free and the home of the brave? Join hands with us and prove it.

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” 1 John 4:18-21 (ESV)

Ghosts in the Night

There are times when I lie awake at night. Though my lovely wife rests peacefully within arms’ reach, I am alone there in the dark.

Ghosts rise up then through the floor. I thought I had put these ones to rest long ago, but here they come again. Pale, tenuous spectres reach out to me with clammy hands of uncertainty. I lay there and let them come.

At first I am emotionally stunned, but as they hover closer I begin to feel the cold breath of anxiety and confusion upon my mind. The sensation provides the briefest moment of clarity and in that eternal heartbeat I have one solid realization:

“I am not afraid.”

There was a time I’d whisper that phrase over and over with quivering lips, willing myself to believe it. I was a child then, believing that fearlessness was its own virtue. In the midst of bewilderment and anxiety I’d think, “If I just have enough faith.” As if faith was the religious holy grail we all needed to drink from, in order to have eternal life. We all had some growing up to do, back in the day. I don’t judge my younger self.

I no longer worry about being afraid. It is of no concern to me whether or not I have the capacity to be fearless. When life creeps up on me and won’t let me sleep, I look to something more steadfast than my own courage.

I fix my eyes on Jesus.

What bottomless black hole has he not descended into, only to come out again? If a crucified thief can find peace while hanging in the shadow of the dying Messiah, what exactly is it that threatens to overwhelm me?

The spikes that once suspended Emmanuel between heaven and earth are by now rusted and gone. His promises aren’t. His promises walked out of the tomb with him three days later, while the lies of the Enemy stayed behind with the neatly folded grave clothes.

There are nights when I lay my head on a pillow of uncertainty, and mornings that illuminate the fact that I am in control of very little. That’s okay, because I am a ward of the Grave Tamer.lightstock_63343_small_bill_

Psalm 121
A song of ascents.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Psalm 121 New International Version (NIV)

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Life and Jazz

I’ve been given a temporary license to shed some responsibility, and time is of the essence. I’ve got to hurry up and relax. For a little while (that may feel like eternity) my amazing wife has agreed to single-handedly wrangle the kids, giving me sixty minutes to nurture my malnourished, introverted soul.

It looks like this: me sitting in a comfy leather chair. Alone. Beside me rests a pair of sunglasses, a motorcycle helmet, and a paper cup of decaf inspiration with a green mermaid logo stamped on the side. Because I want to maintain the stereotypical biker image, I may or may not confess to having said beverage topped with a healthy dollop of whipping cream instead of whisky.

There’s some funky, earthy jazz playing in the background – none of that smooth stuff. It’s an unresolved medley that poetically mimics the disjointed cycle of the average human’s daily existence.

I’m no connoisseur of the genre, but I believe jazz musicians must be closest to the imaginative heart of the Creator. While most of us will pop a blood vessel trying to find a pattern in the seemingly dissonant details and offbeat timbres of life, the Eternal Mind is able to take in the whole and see – as in the Genesis account – that it is good.

Our perspective, on the other hand, could often use a little tweaking. We read in the good book that God makes all things beautiful in it’s time, but raise a skeptical eyebrow at our unbalanced cheque books, board meeting minutes, to-do lists and piles of dirty dishes. These are the notes in the melody of life that throw us off key.

What do we do with the angst? Do we medicate the shame of our inharmonious way of life with nicotine, caffeine, or a shot of the hard stuff?

Sure, that’s an option.

Or we could offer up this offbeat, atonal, improvised existence to heaven, confess that sometimes this is all we have to give, and hope that God likes jazz.

“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 (ESV)

Courage

Finding myself in a wasteland
the sky stressed and red
the stones jagged.
I stand protecting my beloved
at my feet her tears flowing,
robes ragged.

My gaze rests steady upon
the hardened legions of evil
that soon in combat I’ll meet.
I drum my sword and my shield-
strength to me but to them the echo
of a haunting, menacing beat.

The beat a hammer and nail once made:
the cadence of our victory,
and the rhythm of their defeat.

Weary Heart, Holy Ground

Go on down to the silent place,
You who dare to seek God’s face.
For it may be you’ll find down there
An answer for that load you bear.

Stop not at the convenient spot
You’ve been before, for God is not
A landmark on a religious map,
Or a brew poured from some preacher’s tap.

Continue on with your open sores
To solitary haunted shores
Where human voices utter not
One breath of what a true God aught
To do or say or even be,
Except that He once died for thee.

Sit awhile in the cold dark tomb-
That barren place that became the womb
Of every hope we ever had,
And the death of all that makes men mad,
For that is where our God is found.
Your weary heart is holy ground.

Christianity For The Rest Of Us

Arguably the one term that carries more baggage than any other, “Christian” is a label defined in a million different ways. It’s a subculture and religion that defined me as I was growing up and a classification I raged against as it fell out of vogue.

And now?

It’s a word that on one hand articulates my deepest longings, and on the other a caricature that I love to make fun of.

I believe that in its truest mystical form, Christianity is a journey – both personal and corporate – marked by allegiance to and apprenticeship under the historical Jesus of Nazareth. Christians confess this Jesus as utterly preeminent, and believe that he is raised from the dead. Truly, that he is the Anointed One spoken of by the ancient prophets and written about in the Holy Bible.

Does it all seem a little too lofty? Too many choir robes and an excessive amount of stained glass? That’s why I write about a Christianity that is For The Rest Of Us…

Let me throw something out there for you to consider:

Christianity, I believe, is a state of being and a way of living that is available to everyone regardless of race, gender, orientation, social standing, or nose-picking technique. I do not, however, believe that it is for everyone. By that I mean that many people (most people?) cultivate a spiritual palate that makes Christianity seem bland at best and nauseating at worst.

There is another group of people, though, that love being Christian. They are proficient and polished. They are the elite that the religious world looks to as the Policy Makers. They are the Gatekeepers. They shed tears of holy water over the sins of the earth, which they define as everyone else.

And then there are the rest of us.

There is very little that we are sure of, and on our own merit even less that we are worthy of. We were the abandoned, discarded and hopeless. And yes, we sin; if something stinks around here, it’s probably because of us.

But I believe with all my heart that hope begins where mushrooms grow.

That is what I write about: Christianity for the Rest of Us.