Author Archives: zeekbog

Lucy’s Albatross

A meditation on the advent in the midst of uncertain times and a culture that constantly calls for fear.

Pitch black the island of darkness,
That which surrounds my heart.
Everywhere my eyes turn,
I am confronted with fresh fears.

Have you felt the ensnaring evil,
The cold grip of fear upon your heart?
Does your mind rebel against the violence in the world?
And your heart yearn for peace?
Have you wondered where the justice is?
Or been driven to despair?

The world seems ever darker.
Each days newscast rings out like an alarm bell.
Another war here, another murder there.
Fresh violence today, no answers tomorrow.

Where are you Prince of Peace?
Where is the peace on earth and goodwill toward mankind?
When will oppression cease,
And joy reign in our hearts?
What hope has truth in the midst of lies,
Or love in a world filled with hate?

So I stand and cry out to You.
The one who penetrated this darkness in human form.
I bear my heart full of fears and doubts,
Then like a whisper come the words:

“Courage dear heart!” 

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A Song for Stephen & The Prayer of Ananias

This is essentially one poem broken down into two parts. A Song for Stephen has been bouncing around in my head for nearly a year now. It really began with the persecution of our brothers and sisters in Christ at the hands of ISIS. However, I wasn’t given the liberty to right it down, because I felt strongly that something was missing. Eventually I realized that God doesn’t just liberate the oppressed, He also gives grace to the oppressors. All of us were once sinners, and none of us are beyond saving. Even as we pray for our brothers and sisters in the middle east, we should also be praying that God will call out Sauls from among ISIS to walk in His service.

A Song for Stephen

Where now is this God of yours,
Whom you will not renounce?
Here you stand alone,
And none can snatch you from our hands.
Even now will you not turn,
And reject this Christ you claim?
If you do so – even now,
Then you may yet live.

Here now we stand in the face of fear,
Refusing to back down,
The stones begin to fly,
Carrying us home on their backs,
Do you see this injustice on the earth Oh God?
Do you hear the anguished prayers of your people?
They heap our bones in piles,
As a witness against themselves upon the earth.
In the face of such horror and suffering,
We turn our faces away,
The pain of our brothers grieves us,
And words elude us.

How can you let this happen?
You who are love and grace.
Will you not give an answer,
To those whose fist is raised against you?
Arise Oh Christ,
And rescue your bride!

Raise your eyes up to the heavens.
Do you not see?
He who sat down at the right hand of the Father,
Has stood up as a witness.
He sees and hears,
His arm is not short to save,
But He is making ready for another day.
Until then let grace abound.

In the throne room of the most high,
There lies a pile of broken bones,
And an alter stands above,
The bones cry out for justice,
And their prayers burn as incense.
The day is coming when a coal will be pulled from that burning flame,
And hurled to the earth in answer.
Christ will return on a white horse,
And carry off His bride.

So now in this middle time,
While suffering prevails but grace abounds,
Let the broken bones pour forth a savings song,
Whose words shall catch fire in the night of wrong.
The fire will burn in the very hearts,
Whose actions kindled it.
This church that was born of blood,
Will only grow as its blood is shed.

It is for your glory alone Christ,
You who are worthy of all honor and praise,
Shall receive the reward of your suffering.

The Prayer of Ananias

You Father who know all hearts,
Surely know this man.
Have I not prayed night after night,
And soaked my bed with tears?
Is this not he who has killed many of our brothers,
And pursued us relentlessly unto death?
Is he not here to kill even now?
Why send your beloved into the home of a murderer?
What good could possibly come of such a meeting?

Now my eyes have seen a wondrous marvel!
How strong a light to blind a man yet make him see,
And in darkening the eyes to open the heart.
See the warrior has been thrown from his horse,
And confronted by the blinding truth.
Convictions and beliefs all melt away in one encounter,
With you – the resurrected truth.
You have struck down the murderer in his tracks,
And raised up for yourself and ambassador.

How wondrous is your grace oh God!
You who rescue the persecuted and oppressed,
And who turn the persecutor and oppressor into a vessel of your grace.
How steadfast is your love,
That even those who fight against you can be purchased by your blood.
You redeem your enemies into sons,
And appoint them to rescue others,
No one is beyond the reach of your grace,
None are unable to be saved by you.
You show yourself strong in redeeming for yourself a people!

Brother Saul, open your eyes!

Son of a Poor Widow

I was born on a fateful day,
Filled with pain and sorrow,
My mother bore me in searing pain,
And birthed me on the wrong side of the tracks,
My poor father past before my birth,
Destining me to a hard life.

One day this pain is going to be too much,
And I’ll leave this world behind,
No one is made to live like this,
The voices of pain rage in my head,
And eventually I’ll give in,
Standing on the edge of the river,
Eventually I’ll jump in.

Mother did her best to care for me,
Her only wretched son,
But times were tough and jobs were scarce,
And a young widow didn’t have a chance,
So I spent my childhood in rags,
Skin and bones with shallow cheeks,
Mother fought just to keep me alive

And as the time goes on,
The darkness grew within my mind,
The pain overwhelms my senses,
And takes root in my tormented imagination,
Even sleep is no release,
My dreams are fear and evil,
And eventually I’ll give in.

Day by day I walk passed this stream,
It looms larger month by month,
The pain wells up within my heart,
But I’ll allow no tears in my dark eyes,
No one sees my pain,
So no one will see me weak,
To make it in this life you must show strength.

I watch my mother waste away,
As I grow old enough to notice,
Her young face ages much too fast,
As she begs and toils on the street,
And the time will turn this troubled boy,
Into an even more troubled young man,
Every day the river bank is calling,
One day I’ll have to answer.

So mother dear,
Set your heart like steel,
‘Cause each day your beggar son dies a little bit,
Don’t weep for me when I depart,
This life is worse than death,
I’ll seek my comfort in the waters,
And finally get some rest.

I know I’ll break my sweet mothers heart,
As I stand here on the edge,
But the damage has been done to both our lives,
Two hearts shattered by a painful life,
And I can’t live that life any longer,
In death I see no hope,
But at least the pain will stop.

See me jump from off this rock,
Into the swirling stream below,
I won’t fight as the waters close over my head,
My body sinks,
Carried ever faster downward,
By the weight of my despair,
Here I am underneath the waters,
And the pain in my lungs at last drowns out,
The sorrow in my heart.

As the life seeps from my bones,
I know what will happen next,
The men down by the shore,
Will find my broken body tossed upon the shore,
And they will fetch my mother,
And how she’ll scream and moan.
There may be no life in my heart,
But I brought light to hers.

Then the pitying souls of those dear men,
Will bear me on their arms,
They’ll carry me out of town,
To lay by body to rest.
And they’ll be whispering to themselves,
About how my mom had done her best.
Then they’ll see how cruel life is,
And finally I’ll have said my peace.

My mother won’t hear them through her tears,
Pouring down in a torrent,
And watering this dry and barren land,
Even as I close my eyes,
Her screams are echoing in my ears,
But it is too late for me,
As I choose to breath in this water,
Replacing searing pain with searing pain,
I die.

Yet what is this I find,
As I sit upright in the midst of my own funeral,
As my eyes snap open,
I hear screams of pain turn into tears of joy,
Confusion and wonder rack my brain,
I am certain that I was dead,
No doubt remains about that,
Yet what can make a dead man live,
And a hopeless young man hope?

As I turn first to my mother and then to the rest,
I see only wonder in each face,
Clearly this was an unexpected reversal,
Of my fate thought to be inescapable,
Then my eyes rest upon the man,
Standing at my side,
As his eyes meet my mine,
Something strange happens in my mind.

My heart explodes with hope and wonder,
At the love behind those eyes,
Had I only known such love existed,
But it matters not for I live again,
Then in a voice that convicts and heals,
He says “I am the living waters”
“Come, dive in”

As my head reals in confusion,
My heart is sure and calm,
I must have living water,
And find this hope in a world of pain,
I dive off the ledge of pain and unbelief,
And sink in this immortal hope,
I will follow Him,
The one who turns death to life,
And pain to hope.

So I sink beneath these waters,
Of love and grace and peace,
Hope covers over all my pain,
And I am born anew.

Inspired by Luke 7:11-17

Hello, Hardship.

Hello, Hardship.
Hello, Tough Times.
Seems you’ve come to visit once again.
You bring questions I can’t answer,
And try to bury me in anxiety, fear, and doubt.
Yet in my struggling,
And in my weakness,
I refuse to let emotions reign,
You’ve brought and accusation,
That I refuse to accept,
I will not doubt the faithfulness of my Lord and God,
No matter what may come.

And after a while,
The pain and doubt fade,
I should have known you’d visit,
When I stepped out into the fray,
Why should I be surprised,
That evil wants to stand in the way of good,
And attempts to force me to despair,
Here I am,
Just plodding on,
And hardship becomes fellow traveler,
Without whose company the journey would be less real,
For my God is present especially in the tough times.

Light into Darkness

I find myself needing the sacred seasons and holy days of our Church more each year. As the storm clouds seem to be gathering on the horizon, it is more important than ever to set aside these special times to reflect on that which God has done throughout history and will do at the end of all things. What follows is a poetic meditation on the advent.

In this world of rock and dust,
As time moves on in relentless procession,
The sensation is often inescapable,
That the days are darkening and the water rising.

Often we are forced to watch unfold around us,
Events of deep despair,
When children starve and violence spreads,
And hate appears the victor.

All around we look and see,
Undeserved pain,
Unforeseen trials,
And our own inability to stand in the face of the flood.

Despair creeps in,
The tears run down,
Our hearts are slowly breaking,
And we weep for our broken world.

Is there are hope for love in a loveless world?
Or for joy in a world of despair?
When great evil seems to reign,
Is there any hope for good?

Yet my soul remember,
As the sacred season comes,
Through ritual and sacred ceremony force your mind to this,
The reign of evil is but a farce and good has conquered yet.

For when the darkness of sin seemed at its peak,
And our world was a swirling vortex of misery and despair,
The light struck the darkness like a lighting bolt,
In the form of a sacred infant.

Seemingly helpless,
Seemingly weak,
But Lord of all the earth,
Darkness trembled at His birth.

Born to die,
That we might live,
To be like Him in our lives and deeds,
Our lives remade by nail scarred hands.

Light in darkness,
God in flesh,
Hope stronger than despair,
The author of all created things has come to dwell among us.

He has come and He is coming,
The work is begun and will be finished,
Evil is already defeated,
And will soon be no more than a memory.

So strengthen trembling hands,
And still shaking knees,
Fear not the darkness,
For in your faith it fears you.

Rise up in broken victory,
And be a bolt of bright light,
In a world of deadly darkness,
In the pattern of the Master.

Take heart this sacred season,
Remember the hope you have,
Ours is not only the Creator God,
But also the Savior.

This is a time to reflect on that which is real,
In a world of illusion and farce,
For truth and justice do reign ,
In Jesus Christ the babe of Bethlehem and Savior of the world.

We need this time of sacred remembrance,
In dark days more than ever,
But the light has overcome the darkness,
So let us remember and rejoice!

Marriage as a Sacrament

These thoughts are the results of over 5 years married to the most gracious, wonderful, and beautiful woman I have ever known.

The Roman Catholics maintain seven sacraments; most Protestants have only two, which they don’t really take very seriously. While I’m not prepared to embrace the full Roman Catholic understanding, I definitely believe we need to go back to viewing marriage more sacramentally.

In the most classical Christian understanding, the sacraments are means of grace for mankind. It is faith in Christ Jesus our Lord which ultimately saves, but the sacraments empower and enrich the sanctification part of our salvation. Thus Baptism and Eucharist are not simply symbolic rituals but actually have real power for the believer who par takes of them, and according to St Paul real danger to those who partake apart from faith and righteousness before a Holy God.

While marriage may not be an ordained sacrament in Scripture, it is certainly an ordained action for our well being. All of the use of marriage as metaphor in the Word illustrates just how highly marriage ought to be viewed by those who follow Christ. That marriage is an important aspect of our sanctification and growth in the knowledge of God can be easily illustrated. This doesn’t mean marriage is ordained for everyone, but it does mean that to those who. It is given it should be taken very seriously. In a society that under values marriage, as a the Church of Jesus Christ we need to restore a proper understanding of its sacred significance. What follows is a list of the ways that marriage has been sacramental in my life, 5 years from now and no doubt I will have even more thoughts on the subject.

Marriage reveals how self-centered and petty we are. In premarital counseling, the difficulty of the first year of marriage is often a subject of discussion. Many married couples can look back to the first year and the trials they overcame together. The reason behind this is our own self-centeredness. Living together in a covenant relationship draws out our selfish tendencies so the Holy Spirit can purge us of them. This becomes painfully clear when we are quick to anger over the smallest of household operations. What it really boils down to is that we just want our own way that bad. The marriage relationship draws this selfishness to our attention in areas we couldn’t even see it before.

Marriage demonstrates the importance of covenant and unconditional love. Only in a firm commitment to love one another until death does marriages true teaching about unconditional love and covenant relationship hit home. When we find it easy to love, or to accept love this lesson is lost. When, ontheotherhand, love is painfully difficult or we find ourself feeling completely unworthy of love, the message of God’s love begins to dawn on us. When for the first time you receive love from your husband or wife while still behaving in a way you know is completely unworthy of that love, the cross stands in the background with new meaning. When we come to the full realization that no matter how bad things get, our love for each other isn’t going anywhere, God’s unchanging love becomes more real than ever before.

Marriage is an important part of our sanctification. As I mentioned above marriage often puts a spot light on issues we didn’t realize we had. This becomes a key part of the process of sanctification in our lives. A godly spouse becomes our primary source of accountability, and because they see us at our worst our spouses cannot be tricked by the pious show we often put on for others. When we allow our marriage to bring sin in our lives to mind, and then walk through repentance together, we overcome issues we likely would have missed on our own.

Marriage points out areas of unforgiveness and unhealed hurt in our lives . It is always interesting how previous pain and heartache can impact a marriage. Often actual arguments ensue simply because something was said that touched a sore spot. After some reflection and personal growth, it becomes clear that the marriage isn’t the problem. Instead previously unhealed areas or areas where hurt someone else did is still unforgiven must be addressed for the happiness of the home. This healing and forgiveness process is not always pleasant and that is why, when given the choice, we shy away from it. In marriage we quickly realize how much harm we are doing to ourselves and others by hanging on to the past and are forced to confront our own heartache, God is then able to step and heal our broken hearts.

There is a great deal more that could be said on all the different ways that marriage is sanctifying and sacramental, but the point remains the same. God has established marriage for our well being and help, we should treat it with reverence and allow it to do its good and healing work in our lives.

The Image and the Likeness

A meditation during Advent

Made from the dust of the earth,
God breathed life into the man,
And there arose our ancient forefather,
Adam, father of us all.
Firstborn of mankind,
Crowning jewel of creation now complete,
Made in the very image of God,
And walking daily in His presence.
Endowed with authority over all Creation,
Blessed with mind and might.

Would that the story ended there father Adam,
For now the image is broken,
The presence taken away,
And the power and might turned toward harm,
The presence that brought you life,
You no more may see,
And the image in you becomes corrupt, unclean.
Deceived and deceiving you fell away,
Pulled down by false desires conceived in your own pride,
Destroyed by thine own hand.

Now the image of God in our young race,
Is broken and almost lost,
Shining through but from time to time,
In a world whose hope is gone,
Violence grows,
And darkness rages,
As our race despairs,
We see not the image,
Still planted though broken in each heart,
And turn away blind and broken.

Yet through it all the rumors spread,
Of a coming King,
A new Father,
A Prince of Peace,
One who will bring us life,
And restore our hope,
The renewer of the Image,
Hands that heal,
What will our healer look like?
When will He arrive?

Only begotten of the Father,
Firstborn of all things,
Creator of heaven and earth,
All hail The Lord Jesus,
Descended to our broken world,
Born in a backwater town in a backwater nation,
In image like one of us,
But in Likeness God Himself,
Lying vulnerable in a cattle trough,
And come to die that we might live.

His hands are healing,
Yet they are pierced,
We must look on the one whose stripes heal us,
The King of all Creation came,
And we killed Him on a tree,
The broken Image could not stand before the Likeness,
And we walked instead in the violence we knew so well,
Yet see how he conquered our hearts,
For even in weakness and death,
The Likeness conquers over our darkness.

The barrier to the Father removed,
By the atoning death of the Son,
That Likeness was placed inside our chests,
In the person of the Spirit,
Restoring the Image anew,
Beyond even father Adam’s first condition,
We become something new,
Redeemed men indwelt by the Savior God,
Bearers now of the Likeness,
The Image now being restored.

So let the Likeness reign in your heart,
By walking with the Spirit,
And become this Advent season,
That which our Savior was,
On the day of His advent,
Bring in your person the Likeness of God,
To a world where the broken Image is still all many men have,
In a world of know hope,
Release the Likeness to its good work,
And leave the Spirit to heal the rest.