Bridge-Burning, Bridge-Building, and Wall-Building

A boy once lived through a river crossing. The waters receded and the ground became dry and the people crossed. But a few people stayed in the middle, stranded on high places in the river. They lived on islands in the middle of a grand, wide river.

As the boy grew up, he noticed the people in the middle. When he became a man, he longed to cross the stream again to bring more people across. He dreamed of just the right bridges and how to reach those on the other side and those on the islands.

He lived at the edge of the river and build a few walls for his home and then began planning to reach those on the islands and those on the other side. He watched their habits. He waved at people on the islands and on the other side, and he one day noticed that if he stepped into the stream a little and asked for help, he could reach the islands nearby. He would visit the people and talk to them. Sometimes people received him, sometimes they didn’t.

The budding bridge-builder would bring food and the fruit of the land to those on the islands. He gave them things to read to pass their time with joy. A few crossed over and left their islands, and joy filled his heart. All of his friends and family received the newly landed people and he was happy.

Gradually, he invited others to help him build bridges to those further out on the islands. He would look for the best place to land the bridge and visited with gifts of peace. On occasion he found islands where people had built walls all around the islands like fortresses and who refused to cross over or even to greet him. He pressed on and went to the islands that were accessible.

Sometimes he would build a bridge to an islander and the person attacked him. When this happened, he put up a gate on the island bridge to protect himself and the other incorporated citizens. Then, he moved on to build more bridges.

On rare occasion, he found islanders who would receive him freely at first, but later would burn all the bridges to their island. While he never understood why people would stay on the islands, he refused to muddle in the river weeping forever over the bridges that could have been and would venture out to new islands.

He kept finding new islands. Occasionally, he would even call out to those on the other side and would send a boat to retrieve those who wanted to cross. Yes, there is danger in bringing people safely to land. Yes, it is a life prone to long hours alone reaching islands and reaching out to the other side, but every time someone rejoined the people of the land and the rejoicing went up, the labor was worth it.

So will you build bridges or burn them? Build brick walls with graffiti smiley faces or put in doors and windows, ready to open the gates when the time is right.

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More Precious than Gold

(1 Peter 1:7 & 1 Corinthians 13:13)

 

Chorus

May the ‘gold’ of El Dorado, be found above the ground.

May the ‘gold’ of El Dorado, be revealed to us in time.

May the ‘gold’ of El Dorado, be pure from day to day.

May the ‘gold’ of El Dorado, really start to shine.

 

Faith costs far more than man’s gold.

Faith transforms all the earth.

Faith cost Jesus His own life.

Faith is called the new birth.

Holy Spirit, fill hearts with faith.

We believe, we believe all the way.

Chorus

 

We have hope for tomorrow.

We have hope for the town.

We have hope for our children.

We have hope to go around.

Jesus promised us that He would stay

We have hope, we have hope all the way.

Chorus

 

We will love all our families.

We will love all our friends.

We will love those who hate us.

We will love until the end.

God sent His son so that He could save.

We will love, we will love all the way.

Chorus

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Perseverance Song

Why do I keep holdin’ on, holdin’ on to Jesus?

All around these things are slippin’ on and on away.

Both day and night are dark and gloomy, filled with drear.

Jesus’ Name, still makes me want to worship and to pray

‘Til he draws me close and draws me up so very near.

Cause He keeps holdin’ on, keeps holdin’ on to me!

And he’ll keep keepin’ on, keep keepin’ on with you!

 

Why do I keep walking on, keep walking on with Jesus?

Jesus seems to go too fast, and other times too slow

I want to run ahead, but then I got catch my breath with Christ

Where exactly do we plan to let the path to go?

But I’ll let Him pay my aweful, final price,

Cause He kept walking on, kept walking on for me!

And he’ll keep keepin’ on, keep keepin’ on with you!

 

Why do I keep lookin’ on, lookin’ on to Jesus?

I look beyond horizons when skies are lookin’ dim.

I gaze beyond the moonset, when mournin’ ain’t to fun,

But He looked beyond my frets, past the dark within.

He suffered on that cross, though there was no Sun,

Cause He’ll keep looking out, keep lookin’ out for me!

And He’ll keep keepin’ on, keep keeping on with you!

 

Why do I keep standing up, keep standin’ up for Jesus?

I face the roughest storms in the coldest, hardest days.

I’ve climbed the high old hills against the hottest harshest wind.

But he climbed a deadly hill against the hateful storm.

He stood again the third day, so I will stand with Him,

Cause He’ll keep standin’ up, standing up for me!

And He’ll keep keepin’ on, keep keepin’ on with you!

 

Yeah He’ll keep holdin’ on, holdin’ on to you.

Yeah He’ll keep walkin’ on, walkin’ on with me.

Yeah He’ll keep lookin’ out, lookin’ out for you.

Yeah He’ll keep standin’ up, standin’ up for me . . .

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Tangled Roots & Broken Branches

Opening up history and genealogy
unleashes a panoply of potential terror:
diving deep to see where we come from
in hopes of seeing where we will go.
Digging up roots and truths we really didn’t want to know.
Facing lies that unleash monsters of the past
into our present fascade.
Feeling intrigued and put off … kind of odd,
wanting to dig deeper, yet grieving at the loss of innocence.
Looking up, broken branches loom,
Rotten, bitter fruit
and mushrooms scatter on the ground-
a reminder that they feed on death,
out here in the wild.
Suddenly, I simply want to be a child
simple and free,
certainly not so guilty,
I just want to be loved for being me.
shame and fear loom overhead in the forest of the nations, as well as in the untended garden of peace,
fears and tears are slowly released,
and as they fall,
the stains upon the dim reflection wash away the grime
the crime of days gone by, and I behold,
The promises offered from the Eternal One to ancient fathers
I never knew … is it true?
I am a child of God.

A cutting to the core, torn away and grafted in,
Will I ever know the life-giving flow of life again?
The Gardner wraps me in His tender care.
Bound to His favored tree, he tends to me,
so I reach out to Him, my initial fruit is a simple hymn
The Anointed One is Risen!
He calls my name …
Master!
Love, unspoiled, whole, complete,
The past is trodden underneath His feet.
I want to cling, but run to meet
the fellowship of family united in the promised Seed.
Bitter tears are replaced with pleasant praise
Now I can stand tall and reach up for happy days
The King shall be touched by our fruit upon His head.
Christ is risen from the dead!!

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Peace, where there is no peace.

Peace!

I greet the world

and saints and angels,

yet torment greets me.

Undeserved injustice!

My only comfort seems distant

beyond the furthest horizon,

so I will go there

and wait

and go again

until my spirit rests

within the realm of our Father.

Then Love and I

will leave

this world

and go home.

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Job: Cursed Work or Blessed Service

A job is a source of great travail and trouble;
“J.ust O.ver B.roke,” by some accounts,
yet near enough to feel the pangs of hunger.
Driven on by some invisible quest for significance
or trying to work the wa up the trickster’s ladder to God’s throne room
or slaving to please the closest Eve who insists
that the land east of Eden not be left to thorns and thistles.
So the sod buster, dandelion hunter, tree trimmer
putters around his personal paradise
muttering about the myopic vision of yard maintenance.

Then the sun begins to set, evening fades, and he realizes
he has been in the presence of God.
Not quite walking in the cool of the eve as man once did,
But unashamed, he lays down his tools, washes his hands,
as he pursues some just desserts.
Quietly, he gratefully tastes ice cream
and is glad that his wishes are heard.
He whispers petitions for precipitation, prosperity, and planetary peace.
He wanders calmly home in comfortable weather,
The clouds draped over the starry portals
Yet the veil is torn.
Love is celebrated in a simple meal and evening nap.

Dreams return, age accumulates,
and all the routines must be recycled,
seasons sprinkled with grace,
and love beheld face to face.
The curse is lifted as the cross is embraced
No longer serving self
But blessed as the book of life is dusted off the shelf.
(A revelation praise song erupts that I am not permitted to record here.)

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Divided Loves: Neighbor or Nobody

I have a choice: I love my neighbor as

myself, or love not one, not even

self. To love my neighbor, I will love

myself, yet there is more: I must be seen

by others as a neighbor for my love

to be received, and I must love my fellow

man for my words to be believed. For as

I give, I also get. Like body smells

exchanged in the embrace, or tones in jazz

that trade their lines–a gentle harmony;

an open dance of handshakes, reverent hugs,

and people wishing one another well.

“Now do to them as you yourself desire!”

Is what emerges from Love’s holy fire.

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Inheritance

(Based on reflections on our inheritance in Christ which is mentioned in Paul’s letters and the gospels and my own yearning for “something more.”)

I long for an infinite treasure
I can’t even start to measure.
Something yet to dawn and come,
More sure than death has ever won
Against our mortal, human flesh.
Eternal life will never mesh
with gaining stuff when others lose.
I want to rest, but cannot snooze
when I worry about lost love.
My hands now shake, though I wear gloves,
And it is warm around about.
My heart’s soul cries, I want to shout:
with many friends, I remain alone.
So inwardly, I start to groan,
and I am burdened with heartfelt pain.
In my global quest, what have I gained?
“Lord, hear me as I sob and cry!
And if You answer, here am I.
Provide fresh joy and hope and grace
that I might know and see your face.”
God’s Comfort comes despite my self,
And thus I’ve found that treasured wealth.
A peace the world never knew
I have God’s Love: the Lord is True.
This Gift is not for only me:
God gives to all who ask, He’s Free!
I hope these words expand your view:
Christ Jesus came for me and you.

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My Father’s Love: Assurance of No Abandonment.

I have been thinking about how my father showed love for me.

One dramatic demonstration of love was when he ran after me when I tried to run away. For whatever reason, I was cranky and wanted to live in the forest. Dad knew I wouldn’t last long out there, but, as if to underscore how much his love yearned to have me at home, he ran wholeheartedly after me and caught me and pulled me kicking & screaming and brought me home and gave a whooping. Then, in that place, tears streaming down my face, I felt loved. My father would run after me and get me if I ever got lost. Every child needs a father who will do that for them. The Lord disciplines those He loves, and I am thankful that our father disciplined us.

Another time I experienced my father’s love was when we went on the journey of a lifetime. We called it our East-West-and-Crazy trip, visiting most of the states west of the Mississippi and many of the national parks in the contiguous Western USA. Many significant memories were formed on that journey. It was a family forging journey, like the Israelites wandering in the wilderness. Anybody who has had to zip through the west with a minivan full of a bunch of kids with no air conditioning and seeing the wonders God has performed in shaping the earth will know how suffering creates healthy, if traumatized children. We were on the journey together and experienced first hand vistas that many only see in the movies or on TV or photo books.

Years later, I fell ill. It was not fun. I was in the process of maturing from childhood to adulthood. Though I had been voted most likely to succeed in my graduating class, I suddenly felt like the biggest failure. At the worst of it, I was having seizures and could not even go to church. I was weak, tired, exhausted, nervous, anxious, scared, alone in my heart, all rolled up in one big bundle of trouble. I probably didn’t look that sick to a passerby, unless I was out walking around the neighborhood trying to get exercise by swinging a baseball bat and wearing a blanket like a kilt. I so craved to be normal again: going to school, reading regular non-children’s books, feeling alive again, feeling human again. I remember that during this season of my life there were times when I lost whole days of memory and cried when asked about things I couldn’t remember. I wanted to carry on a normal conversation and could hardly get a sentence out of my mouth. I sought medical help, but doctors only seemed to make things worse, most of the time, I sought pastoral counsel, but they didn’t know what to make of me since I couldn’t even talk and appeared to have no infectious diseases and had no apparent sin.

In the middle of that worst season of my life, I one time tried going to church, but fell into petit mal seizures once again. My dad prayed with me. Sat with me. and waited. My mom spent as much time as she could then went to her meeting. My dad lingered, then, I remember him getting up and saying, “I’m going to have to leave you, but I’m not going to abandon you. I’ll be back.” Then he went off to the prayer meeting.

However, I kept mulling over what he said. He had left with a smile, and I managed to smile back, however faintly. Most likely, the church continued to pray for me as they had since I had first developed the seizures following a medical error. I had no profound epiphany, but I felt loved. I needed a dad who would love me even when I could do nothing for him or with him or ever expect to repay him.

It was also in this season, the deepest season of depression and agony that I have ever been in, that I encountered what it means for God to pour out His Spirit of adoption again on one of His children, on one who is poor in spirit. If there ever was someone afflicted, it was me. I had seizures in church. NOT FUN. Suddenly I couldn’t talk, my muscles stiffened, I was a dead weight. It happened right after going to the single’s class at church and my last words were, “I guess I’m in the right class.” I was single, yes, but God wanted me to go home.

That day, the pastor and some elders prayed for me. They continued to pray for the weeks following. It was also that season, when I had a profound turn around. I had tried everything I knew to get better. I had even complained to God. He seemed silent. One day though, almost as if I had no place else to turn, I sat one evening in the Laz-E-Boy recliner that has since been incinerated. I would spend long hours there while I was sick. That evening though, I was alone in my thoughts until I turned my thoughts once more to the Lord.

I handed over my life to God again, “I may be an invalid the rest of my life, Lord. But I’m going to be the best invalid You ever had.” Then I got up and went to bed, ready to sleep a long time.

The next morning, I awoke. For the first time in a long time, my heart was at peace. My Mom, who had chosen to take a break from work while I recovered, greeted me in the kitchen. She said, “Mert, you look different, what happened?” I answered, “I feel different. I feel like God is my Father and He is holding me in His arms.”

Everyone needs time to come home to the Lord, when He will embrace you and receive you just as you are, with all your pain and loneliness and anger and agony and fear and rage, and He will simply embrace you. No mere human can fully mediate that grace. My Dad is the best dad a young person could ask for, but he could only be with me so much. At that moment, I needed my Father in Heaven to smile on me and embrace me as His son, well loved, accepted and approved.

If you ever feel ill and like your life is wasting away, I dare you to pray like I did, “Lord, I may be an invalid the rest of my life, but I will be the best invalid You ever had.” God will hear your prayer and prove to you that in His eyes, you are very valid and most precious, accepted in the Beloved..

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Divided Loves: One Another and the World

 

In Christ, when strangers are a one another,

feet get washed, refreshed, and bodies fed

with festive, hearty food. The poor are clothed.

Those once alone become all sisters, brothers,

saints–together we taste living bread.

Though once ashamed, now praise becomes our robe

of righteousness. A word of hope is shared

among the brotherhood. A word of love

is given as a sacred trust. The bond

of unity now proves that we are cared

for by the King. Around, the world may shove.

But those immersed within the sacred pond

will find a gentle, just and perfect peace,

for from our sins we’ve been set free: released.

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