Poetry: Clamoring for the Bottom Rung, by Carole L. Haines

Image by Xin on Unsplash

 

Clamoring for the Bottom Rung

by Carole L. Haines

Even if no one else ever sees down deep in the darkest parts of me

I see and God sees

or if no one else ever knows the harshest thoughts,

the hurts, the wounds . . .

I know and God knows

Others may only expect the worst, or forget the best

But God expects the best for me

He believes the best, hopes the best,

and has sacrificed His most Precious Son

to purchase that Best, that freedom for me

He Promises that the work begun in me will be completed, perfected, finished

He promises that all things work together for my good and His Glory

That He is writing in me a wonderful story

of things lost that are found

things broken, made whole again

Things dirtied and soiled made white as snow

Blind men will open their eyes to see

the deaf hear words and songs and sounds

The lame leap up and dance around

Fools are made wise in the Kingdom of God

The last shall be first and the first come down

All the houses are built on solid ground

People will be clamoring for the Bottom Rung

Instead of climbing and clawing their way to the top

The Kingdom of God is upside down

Where the smallest seed is the most precious found

and we lose all we have to gain what is best

Sitting at Jesus’ feet, where we find true rest

Where once more, all that can be shaken will be

until only what God gives is left to see.

A Kingdom inside us that never grows old

A Kingdom that cannot be bought or sold

A Kingdom unshakable, strong and free

Where we are Bought back, cleansed and redeemed.

Until then, I wait here singing songs long sung

clamoring in humility for the Bottom Rung

 

About Carole L. Haines
Haines has been writing devotions, poetry, songs, etc. for the last ten years on her blog. One of her ministries is to make crosses out of broken glass and pottery and other materials to give to people in crises, such as grieving the loss of a loved one or deep disappointments. The message behind the giving of the crosses and my blog is that God can bring great beauty out of great brokenness. He doesn’t ever waste a tear or a heartache. Our God is a Redeemer, our Great and Mighty Savior, Our friend and our hope. Visit Haines here. See her last post on the Spotlight Blog, ‘The Steps That Lead To Nowhere,’ here.

 

 

How’s Your Heart this Christmas?

Relax and Reset

I can’t believe it’s December! So much has been happening that I can barely keep up. I’m sure you feel similarly, especially with the Christmas season around the corner.

As you’re getting ready to contend with snowfalls and snow storms, endless hours of holiday music blasting in the stores, and pushing past other customers to get the perfect gifts for the special people in your lives, take some time to remember what the Christmas season is really about: Jesus coming down to earth to become the ultimate Gift to mankind, a gift He was willing to give whether we wanted to receive Him or not. That is true sacrifice, and it’s why our God in unlike any other.

I mention this because for years I was getting tired of Christmas. Well, not Christmas itself but the commercialism. Santa Claus idolization and the jarring jingling of sleigh bells made me gnash my teeth!  But I realized that I was focusing on the wrong thing. Instead of being angry about mankind idolizing a man in a red suit, why not focus on the perfect Man who came to us in the humble garb of a blanket and surrounded by his faithful parents and a flock of animals? Why not think about that baby who grew into an incredible youth and then into the Man who changed the course of human history?

If you’re feeling a little Christmased-out, I invite you to recalibrate your focus and look up. Jesus is the reason for the season, and because of Him, our hearts should be filled with hope, gratitude, and love this Christmas season.

How is your heart this Christmas season? How do you keep your Christmas cheer? Let us know by posting your comments below.

–Delia

Poem: It’s Christmas Time

It’s Christmas Time

by Ghita Manaila

 

It’s Christmas time, the most beautiful holiday

It is time for carols, it is time for play.

Play of snowflakes, here and there

Play of the children from everywhere

Everywhere Santa is sharing toys

Everywhere Santa is sharing joys

Joys and happiness

Joys and soul peace.

Peace from above, heavenly one

Peace brought to us by Jesus, the Son

Son of God and  Son of Man

Son born in Bethlehem according to a plan

Plan of salvation, plan full of grace

Plan performed here, in this very place

Place visited by shepherds and by angels

Place visited by Magi, the eastern strangers

Strangers in the world, aliens on the Earth

Strangers are we all like Jesus at His birth.

Birth and life, death and resurrection

Birth and Ascension are proves of God’s affection.

Affection for the whole human race

Affection mixed with charming divine grace.

Grace, mercy and peace from Jesus our Savior

Grace, saved by grace from our bad behavior

Behavior and sinful nature

Behavior typical to human creature.

Creature with inclinations to scrimmage

Creature made by God in His own image

Image full of beauty, image of perfection

Image received by man at Creation

Creation , rebellion then Abel’s blood

Creation followed by a world flood.

Flood and destruction, olive branch and dove

Flood and eight souls saved by God’s love.

Love, sacrifice and fully paid bill

Love  revealed completely on Calvary Hill

Hill of the Skull, the place where Jesus died

Hill of the pain where Christ was crucified.

Crucified by Romans in the past

Crucified for our sins at last.

Last but not least for the sinners who were in  danger

Last but not least  Jesus, the baby was born in a manger

Manger, a poor stable in a building wing

Manger, only a manger for our beloved King?

King of kings and Lord of lords

King is the Word in the world of the words.

Words of gratitude for Christmas days

Words of forgiveness and bright sun rays.

Rays

Days.

 

To find out more about Ghita Manaila, international poet, click here.

Not Living Up to the World’s Standards

Not Living Up to the World’s Standards

by Lela Markham

 

What makes a Christian creative a Christian?

I had to ask myself that question recently when someone with an axe to grind posted a review of one of my books that said, in essence, that I wasn’t a Christian because I don’t think the Army would walk on water and hand out flowers during the Apocalypse.

Sigh.

I grew up and now live in a very military town. About one-quarter of my friends and family are either in the military or were once in the military. I know some lovely military people. I also have had plenty of experience with jerks who were jacked up on the power of being in the military. There’s that dichotomy in human nature that doesn’t go away if you ignore it. The Transformation Project series focuses on how ordinary people, including military and civilian authorities, react in an apocalyptic situation where their command structure has been fractured. I don’t show all individuals with military authority acting in a heroic manner because I personally know people who wouldn’t act honorably in a situation where they’re given that kind of power and no oversight.  The news has covered some of these people. I believe there would be more of them if the command structure that is in place no longer existed. I have other military characters who do act honorably … and some of them die for that stand. That’s the only defense I’m going to offer.

Circling back to my original theme of “in the world, but not of it” … must Christian creatives stand for certain secular societal norms or be deemed “not Christian”?

Being a Christian is defined by one thing. You can discover it in Romans 10:9-10.

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Do you believe that Jesus Christ is God, Savior of mankind and your soul and do you confess that publicly? Your lifestyle should adhere to that and your politics are part of your lifestyle. Whether you support the military, love policemen, eat apple pie, or spend Mother’s Day with your mom isn’t really addressed in the Bible, therefore, they are personal decisions that each of us make individually.

“Art, though, is never the voice of a country; it is an even more precious thing, the voice of the individual, doing its best to speak, not comfort of any sort, but truth. And the art that speaks it most unmistakably, most directly, most variously, most fully, is fiction; in particular, the novel.” ~ Eudora Welty in On Writing.

Writing a novel is about addressing truth as the author sees it. A lot of Christians are very supportive of conservative political causes that I can’t find anywhere in the Bible. There’s nothing wrong with that – most of the time. We live in this world and the politics of the secular world affects us. When my taxes go up, I have less money to give to the church, which I feel spends social welfare funds much more wisely than the government does. I vote accordingly. We should all care if a politician believes it is okay to kill babies in the womb. We should pray for people caught up in the cycle of drug addiction or alcoholism, pornography or polyamory. The Bible is clear on many issues that Christians ought to have an opinion on and the Bible tells us what that opinion should be.

The Bible is less clear on our involvement in those secular programs designed to address some of the world’s evils. I harbor doubts about how Jesus would feel about some secular programs American Christians are expected to support simply because we’re expected to support them. As a Christian creative who wants to reach a larger audience than just Christians who read religiously-oriented literature, I have given serious thought to which subjects for which I’m willing to fall on my authorial sword. I made a commitment to show Christian characters as human … with flaws, while showing their beliefs respectfully. I have every admiration for our Savior, not always the same feeling toward His followers. I try to show the world as I see it and not as I would like it to be, recognizing that it is fallen and so are the people in it. And, yet, I struggle with where the lines are because it’s not so simple as the Christian publishers make it seem. Because I’ve rejected those made-up constraints, I have to set new ones of my own – ones that I hope are Biblically-based, but not ignoring this world as it really is.

What about you? If you’re a Christian creative trying to reach a secular audience, do you find it difficult to push the “Christian” boundaries in a Christ-centric way without upsetting the “standards” people have applied to Christian creatives?

 

28721822_1972311923031983_1933873618_nLela Markham is the pen name of an Alaskan novelist who was raised in a home built of books. Alaska is a grand adventure like none other with a culture that embraces summer adventure and winter artistic pursuits.

 

Confessions From the Science Lady

Not every act of creativity involves writing or publishing books, composing a song, or painting. There are many unsung ‘creative heroes’ who use their creativity, skills, and passion to communicate the love of Jesus to others in different ways. 

Today’s guest is a woman who is dedicated to teaching children about Christ through the Vacation Bible School program. In her own words, Judith reveals why she chose the VBS to showcase her creativity. 

Judith

 

Confessions From the Science Lady

 

The Facts:

Name: Judith Cooper McNamee                                                     

Age: 32

Special verse: Psalm 37:25

25 I was young and now I am old,
    yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
    or their children begging bread.

Favourite books: The Visitation (Frank Peretti) Boneman’s Daughters (Ted Dekker)

Favourite quotes: “God is clever, but not malicious” (Albert Einstein); “If Jesus wasn’t God, He deserved an Oscar” (Josh McDowell)

 

The Confessional:

So the question was asked to me, ‘Why do I participate in Vacation Bible School?’ That is a layered question and the reasons seem to multiply the more I ponder it. So here goes:

#1: First and foremost the #1 reason I participate in Vacation Bible School is because I want to teach “baby adults” about the love of Jesus Christ—that there is a God in heaven who created each person and loves each of them. I want my children to be able to look at their lives and say ‘Mommy wasn’t perfect, but she wanted to make God happy and not only did she teach us about Jesus, but that she worked to teach others about Him too.’

#2: Second reason, because it is so much fun! I enjoy using God’s science laws to teach a Bible lesson and then comes my favourite question “What can we learn from this?” opens up to the children how we can apply Biblical truth in the day-to-day. I love thinking about what Albert Einstein said, “God is clever but not malicious” meaning God in not un-knowable. He created this planet with such things as the law of gravity and the laws of physics and I love using these constants (much like the results of an experiment can be repeated to the same result).

#3: Third reason and one that you would not expect from me…reason 2 told you I enjoyed teaching the children and preparing a lesson. Well I should also mention that my humanness is with me every day—the shy, kinda anti-social/unfriendly/ quite grouchy side of me— is this the kind of person who should be talking to kids? When you see that list and realize this is coming from the Vacation Bible School Science Lady, I hope you can say with me ‘Not I in this hour, but Christ power!” I love knowing God is at work in even me!                                 

-JCM

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