The Grace of All Graces

Broken is the man, stained by sin,

            likewise the woman, born of his rib.

Lost are their children, strayed since birth,

            for they don’t understand the soul or its worth.

Ravaged by envy, driven by greed,

            they’re pushed and pulled by the evil one’s seed.

He’s planted it there within their hearts,

            leading them swiftly into the dark.

But light still exists in the form of Christ!

            For love overflows from the Giver of Life!

He takes the guilt and the shame we all bear,

            He wipes the slate clean, He signs His name there.

We’ve all been offered His infinite grace,

            both deeper than oceans, more expansive than space.

There is no end to the grace He bestows,

            the depth of His love, not one can know.

For He is beyond and so high above

            that He cannot sin; He simply loves.

His love is greater than all we have known,

            much higher than the eagle has ever flown.

No comparison of love will ever be found,

            for God is unfathomable, His grace too profound.

Yet our souls have weight, we’re given a choice,

            to ignore His gift or to follow His voice.

We are to choose between life and death,

            and God will decide in whom to place breath.

Though some will fall and rise no more,

            others will marvel at His graces galore.

For He yearns to take us to heaven with Him,

            to shower us in grace and to usher us in.

There with the angels His praises we’ll sing

            to the Grace of all Graces, our King of Kings.

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The Artist of Life

Imagine an artist whose art comes to life…

His paintings leap from their canvasses,

            his sculptures break free and move,

His storied characters rise from their pages,

            his poetry blossoms and breathes.

Whatever he creates takes shape,

            their lungs filling up with air.

Whatever he envisions comes to be,

            for life flows from his giving hands.

Now, imagine his creations in the world

            where they live and they interact.

Imagine they’re given free will,

            granted freedom upon the earth.

Their environment is sublime,

            their surroundings are so pristine.

They commune together here, at peace

            with each other and their creator.

Next, imagine that they rebel,

            they reject their giver of life.

Chaos, anguish, and ire ensue,

            pain and hate take root.

What once was a place of harmony

            has been plagued and riddled by evil.

The creations are razing their canvas to the ground,

            their creator just watches them go…

There are wells of tears in his eyes

            and his heart is beyond broken.

His paintings have discolored,

            his sculptures have all contorted.

His characters have been manipulated,

            his poetry has turned against him.

All that he’s created has changed,

            warped by the evil in their hearts.

All that he had dreamed and envisioned

            has been lost, ruined, undone.

He gave of himself in their creation,

            but his love was not returned to him.

Now, imagine that we are his paintings,

            know that we are his sculptures.

Understand that we are his characters,

            believe that we are his poetry.

His life still flows through our veins,

            his breath still breathes in our lungs.

His love still beats in our hearts,

            and his touch is still within reach.

His longing stands before us,

            his arms are open wide.

His embrace will reshape and remold us

            into what he dreamed we would be.

Now, imagine he’s painting our path,

            know that he’s sculpting our souls.

Understand he’s the author of our lives,

            and believe our poetry is still being penned…

The Wide Sea

Sometimes the world feels so big, and I feel quite small.
There are things to do that I haven’t yet figured out how.
There are places to go that I’m unsure where to look.
There are people to meet that I’m unfamiliar with.
There are mountains to climb, yet I am still unequipped.
There are oceans to cross, yet I haven’t the stamina to swim.
I peer out the window and see the world, tall and ominous.
The people around me move so quickly that I can’t react.
There are days that pass by and I feel all too unaccomplished.
There are nights that worry prevents me from sleeping.
It’s difficult to admit when I feel overwhelmed.
It’s often embarrassing to ask another for help.
I’m no longer a boy, but am I truly a man?
I’m no longer a student, but there’s much more to learn.
The ambient noises are sometimes overbearing.
The constant advice is sometimes taken as criticism.
In this world so large, I’m truly very small.
I am a leaf on the wind, a single drop in the wide sea.
And so I close my eyes to escape the weight.
I close my eyes to dream of a place otherworldly.
I dream of feeling wanted, needed, loved.
It’s a distant and lofty dream, dreamt with regularity.
I close my eyes tightly and I drift off to sleep.
And when I awaken, I know what awaits me in spirit.
When I arise, I know that I’ll be embraced.
For I have been created and I am dearly loved.
I am wanted for a purpose, needed for many things.
In my life I will take countless small steps.
But when added up, I will have walked a great distance.
And so, I close my eyes tonight, ready for sleep.
I will once again think these very thoughts.
Once again I will dream this very dream.
And when I stir in the morning, I will once again rise.
Though small I will stand, and I will take many small steps.
I will go a great distance, until I become weary once more.
There I will lie down to sleep, to dream, and again to rise.

Freed

Stained by sin are the tips of my fingers

Stalked by death the steps that I take

Proud is the heart that beats in my chest

Sin is what’s left in my wake

.

Broken are the bridges that daily I build

Flawed are the friendships I keep

There are no ways to undo what I’ve done

The debt I’ve incurred is too steep

.

Someone must cover the cost of my sin

Someone must pay for my life

Nothing I do or say will suffice

I need the one they call Christ

.

Jesus Christ is the very Son of God

And He’s willfully died in my place

He’s gone as the lamb is led to the slaughter

He’s bestowed on all sinners His grace

.

Perfect was the life that Jesus had lived

Undeserving was the death that He died

But unworthy a foe the grave did prove

For Jesus has risen, He’s alive!

.

Not even the clutches of death could hold Him

There is no power below or above

Christ will triumph again and again

There is no match for His love

.

What we deserve is a sinner’s death

But Christ died for you and for me

Death could not hold Him, nor will it ever

Thus by Christ we’re alive, we’re free

Box of Dreams

I used to roam the neighborhood,
When I was just a kid dreaming like everybody should.
I kept my head up in the clouds,
Always speaking soft but thinking things out loud.

You know, the years kept rolling by,
Dream after dream would get left by the wayside.
I wish it hadn’t happened that way,
I don’t know where they went but guess what I found today.

A “Box of Dreams”
Overflowing at the seams,
My “Box of Dreams”
Still shining bright like sunbeams!
That “Box of Dreams”
Is so much more than it would seem
So won’t you please
Start your very own “Box of Dreams”!

I used to run all over the town,
My heart would speed up but my thoughts would slow right down.
I kept my eyes out in front of me,
Ready to discover whatever I was meant to be.

But life got busy, you know,
I had to work to pay to live to see tomorrow.
So I started thinking a lot,
But living in the past I know I’ll miss what the future’s got.

A “Box of Dreams”
Overflowing at the seams
My “Box of Dreams”
Still shining bright like sunbeams!
That “Box of Dreams”
Is so much more than it would seem
So won’t you please
Start your very own “Box of Dreams”!

Now I keep my head up high,
I’m dreaming every day but my eyes are open wide.
My feet are firm on the ground,
Chasing all those dreams that I used to give the run around.

I like to write my thoughts out,
So whenever people read them they’ll know what I’m all about.
So, friend, if you’re ever free,
Start a list, fill a box with everything you’ve ever dreamed.

A “Box of Dreams”
Overflowing at the seams
My “Box of Dreams”
Still shining bright like sunbeams!
That “Box of Dreams”
Is so much more than it would seem
So won’t you please
Start your very own “Box of Dreams”!

The World and I

The world and I are not alike.

The world spins at the same pace, day after day after day. It never speeds up. It neither slows down. It remains constant, ever steady. I, on the other hand, am not constant. I can sit still no longer than a moment. I may run quickly but surely I will tire. I am fast and I am slow, but I am not steady.

The world and I are not alike.

The world is neatly divided. It has its Northern and Southern Hemispheres. It has its North and South Poles. It has an equator and lines of latitude and longitude that clearly separate and define. I, on the other hand, am not neatly divided. I am part boy and part man. I am one part strong and the other part weak. I am both proud and humble. I am one moment serious and the other giddy. But while the world is black and white, I am grey.

The world and I are not alike.

The world is dominated by the fittest. The weak are brushed aside to the fringes and stepped on while the strong succeed and survive. The world has no mercy on the lesser man. The world is unrelenting. I, on the other hand, am unfit. I would prefer not to step on the weak but rather to give them a hand. I would rather not be first, but actually last. Greed is something I try to avoid, and not collect. I am in favor of mercy, of forgiveness.

The world and I are not alike.

The world is a created place, a landscape. It is also a canvas, so to speak. The world is lived on by many people, and those creatures paint the earth, sometimes beautifully and sometimes with ugliness. I, on the other hand, am a created being, a person. I am also an artist, so to speak. Both the world and I are creations, but I am made in the image of the Creator. Therefore, I can also create. I am not painted on but I do the painting. I leave my mark on this world, in whichever way I choose to do so. It may be beautiful, and uplifting, and meaningful. Or it may not be. That is up to me.

The world and I are not alike.

The world is a temporary residence. It is finite. It will have an end. I, on the other hand, am not temporary. I have a soul, and that soul does not have an end. It is everlasting in its being. When the earth has long been dissolved, I will still be, in some other place. I will be alive and well, not because I deserve to be, but because it has been offered to me and I´ve accepted. The world ultimately ends in destruction, as will all who choose the world over their souls. The world, at its core, is wicked. But in my core, should you pry open my soul, dwells one we call the Holy Spirit. And he is the stamp of everlasting life, the seal of the Almighty God, and by his word I will not perish but have eternal life.

The world and I are not alike.

Are you?

HIGH

Two months out from a big race and I decide to go for a training run. I get ready, mentally and physically, plug into my running playlist and take off. There’s a route I like that heads toward the highway and crosses over into a peaceful countryside. It’s sometimes louder, colder and windier, but to me it far outweighs being chased by dogs in the town center. So, I cross the bridge over the highway and get a glimpse of the trail ahead, beaten down on by warm rays of sunshine. It’s a welcome sight after a few days of rain kept me from heading out. I round the corner fronting the fields and run parallel to the highway, looking not towards the sporadic passing of trucks but towards the country, and towards the sky. In this moment I see the clouds part and the sun burst through in a way I haven’t seen in some time. People say not to look at the sun, but I can’t refuse. It’s as if the heavens are opening up. The warmth that’s beating on my chest and face is indescribable, and I’m filled with an overflowing peace and joy. An infectious wellspring explodes within me and I begin to rejoice as I run. I’m literally pointing to the skies and jumping, leaping and fist pumping. It’s as if I’m celebrating a goal at the World Cup; a goal that I’ve scored. That’s the kind of elation that I’m feeling. There exists this thing that people call a “running high,” a sort of euphoria experienced by distance runners when they reach this point of pure bliss and feel an extra jolt of energy. There also exists this thing that people call a “spiritual high.” This high refers to a place of spiritual satisfaction, peace, understanding and joy, often brought upon by retreat, meditation, or witnessing some miracle or conversion. And while this was likely somewhat a combination of the two, it was certainly more of the latter. I was high on running, on life, and on the Spirit. As the skies parted before me I witnessed a coming of light that I’d never seen before except in my soul. In my own heart, soul and spirit I’ve experienced bursts like this before, but this time it was different. It coincided with an explosion of light before my own eyes. The way the light refracted through the clouds amplified it in a way that made it otherworldly. I literally felt as if God was beaming down on me, lifting my spirit, warming my soul. He was cracking through the skies like a beacon, sweeping aside the darkness of this world as dust is taken by the wind. And there I was, leaping and rejoicing along the side of the highway, celebrating the grace that He pours down on us. I felt energized and relaxed at the same time. Despite the fact that I was salted with sweat, I felt cleansed. The joy that came over me was pure. The way my soul was renewed was breathtaking. And all that I felt was directly from God. As I continued running I dwelt on that moment, even as the clouds rolled back over the sun. That moment, that sunburst, that high, lingered in my soul, beneath my breast. And it still does some two days later. I’m consistently reminded and blown away by the mercy of our God, the way He renews us and cleanses us, the way He provides and cares for us. But above all, I’m flat out astounded at the way He loves us. Whether it’s apparent or not, I’ve spent days trying to formulate the words to describe this experience, and I’m still struggling to find them. Words aren’t sufficient; they fall short. And they will always fall short when we attempt to use them to describe our God, our Creator, our Savior, our Redeemer. I’m still blown away by this moment that I was gifted, but there is one thing that saddens me. The more I think about it the more I realize that God deserves that celebration, that jubilation, at all times. We should be on fire for Him, incapable of keeping His magnificence to ourselves. But it’s more often the opposite. We struggle to motivate ourselves. We lack the boldness, the gall, the strength, to step up and say something. Being loved and saved by the Creator of the universe deserves a celebration and euphoria far beyond that of a World Cup goal, or any other petty thing that we rave over. But we get things mixed up. Our priorities are wrong. We’ve got it all backwards. We give God ten percent and the world the rest. In reality, we should give God all that we’ve got. He deserves more than our lives are even worth. But instead He comes down to earth. He descends from on High, and dwells among us. Then, to top it all off, He dies in our place. We have life because He loves us to the grave. We have breath in our lungs and hope in our hearts because that grave cannot hold Him. Death cannot hold Him. He is greater. He is far greater. And now He’s exalted on High, at the right hand of the Father in heaven, and His Spirit dwells within us. In moments that are all too rare, we take notice of what this Spirit within us is saying. In moments like the one I experienced on my run, we realize that we have things backwards. So, I will continue to rejoice. I will continue to skip and jump and pound my chest and pump my fist and exalt the One who deserves all praise, the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings. Rejoice. I will say it again: Rejoice!