Friday, March 24, 2017

I Understand You to Be

Sight unseen,
the mystery of Your word.
I feel its truth
in the marrow of my bone.
You are the essence of life.

I have never witnessed,
nor walked in sandals
such as Yours.
I have been told
and submitted my heart
to trust.

I understand You to be
more than doctrine,
more than a supreme
dictator,
demanding my allegiance.

I understand You to be
more than creator,
more than the one
who breathes life
into my clay.

I understand You to be
a promise
come unto flesh
and the lover of my soul.

Sight unseen,
I take Your spoken sylables
into my heart,
where You can nurture my spirit
and guide
my every step.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Mark 6:34


Sheep without a shepherd,
needing green pastures in which to graze,
gather in the foothills
wanting to eat
and drink.

Sheep without a shepherd,
aimless in their journey.
A gentle voice fills the silence,
listen
and you will hear.

If you long to see,
look.
If you long to hear,
listen.
If you long to feel,
touch.

Sheep without a shepherd,
needing the care of divine love,
wandering through the throng
that listens
and hears His voice.



copyright 2002 - Donald P James Jr

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Driftwood

Drifting,
a piece tree,
discarded,
in the grip of a turbulent sea.

Taken
in the current's chosen direction
without effort
on my part.


Drifting
beneath the hot sun
of endless days,
baking me dry.

Listening
to a gentle voice on the sandy beach.
One who does not tire
of saying, "Follow me".



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr


Monday, March 20, 2017

Grumbling (Exodus 17)


We grumble
against Your spoken word
when it guides us against our choosing,
allowing a discontented spirit
to take root.

The desert consumes us
if we allow its sand
to swallow our souls.
We wander the vastness
without direction,
deciding to vacate
the path of our guide.

We thirst for You
more than water.
Like Peter
we will always be stupid men,
yet his confession of weakness
is not ours
due to pride.

You will draw a river from a stone.
Your skies will rain manna.
You will fill our needs in abundance.
Your blood will cleanse away our sins
and still we grumble.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr
 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Prodigal Son (Parts 1 & 2)




 

The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) – Part 1


He sat with tax collectors and others who were considered outcasts.  The Pharisees grumbled, upset because Jesus sat in the presence of sinners, those their law considered unworthy.  And He told them stories; about a lost sheep, a lost coin, a lost son:

~

I went to my father and told him that this life was not what I wanted for myself.  I needed to find my own sense of worth.  Despite the love he held in his heart for me I needed to find my own way.  A life of farming was not what I envisioned for myself.  I asked for my inheritance, as bold as that sounds.  I demanded my half of everything my father owned.

And he gave it to me.

With my share of my father's wealth I headed to a foreign land.  I intended to have the best of times, eat, drink, be merry and take my choice of beautiful, exotic women.  I fell in and out of love, if that's what you would have called it.  My father would have called my desires sinful lust.  I spent my money with abandon on every material item I could imagine, never thinking that every coin was earned by my father's hard work and calloused hands.

But soon my good time ended.  I heard of famines, droughts and wars.  At first I didn't think these hardships would affect me.  In time these disasters came knocking on my door.  In the aftermath my wealth had blown away like the desert dust.  I was without shelter on the street and not a single denarius in my pocket.

I begged for a job from a farmer not unlike my father, but not nearly as wealthy.  My job was to feed the pigs.  The scraps of garbage I gave them looked more tempting than the slop I had to force into my stomach.

One night, I said to myself, as I laid in the damp cold beside the pen for the swine. "My father's servants are better off than I am.  Even the lowest of his workers has more to eat than I do."  It pained me to consider returning home, without any of my father's wealth to my name. "Father, take me back," I planned to say. "Treat me as a servant, not your son.  I placed myself above you and threw the fruits of your labor into the streets with harlots."

I hoped he would at least allow me to harvest crops from the fields in the hot sun.

I started down the barren stretch of road, leading back to the home of my innocence.  This journey was hard, filled with so much regret.  My stomach ached from lack of nourishment.  I craved a drink of cool water to wash the dust from my throat.

But when my legs were at their weakest, I saw him.  A distant figure on a hillside.  My legs gained the strength to continue toward him.  I practiced my words of repentance until we were face to face and I fell into his embrace, sobbing.



The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) - Part 2


The land is vast, but daily I come to watch, hoping my son will someday change his heart and return to me.  I have aged much and the walk from my home to the crest of this hill is tiring.  My legs ache, but I will make this journey every day, because he is my son.

So I stand and wait, watching the horizon for a sign.


~

On the brink of the afternoon sun reaching the crown of its arch a figure approached.  Gradually characteristics clarified and I recognized the individual as my youngest son.  He was now bearded and his hair was uncut.  He looked to be overly thin and sickly.  My old tired legs carried me down the hill as fast as they were able.  He fell into my embrace and began to spout off a litany of apologies.  He claimed himself unworthy to be called my son.

My heart broke, as I knew it would, as he cried and begged for forgiveness.  I led him back to our home and beckoned one of my servants. "Take care of him," I said with a joy filled heart. "Bathe him and give him fresh clothing.  Tonight we are going to feast and celebrate.  Take one of our finest calves and slaughter it.  Today is the day I have prayed for.  My prayer has been answered.  This family of mine is whole once again."

Now as the evening neared my eldest son came out of the fields after a hard day's labor.  He was a hard and trustworthy worker, my reliable one. "What is this I hear," he asked, "about my brother who left with half the value of your holdings and now returns a pauper?"

"My son has returned... your brother."

"I don't understand this father," he continued. "This son of yours has sinned against all that you represent.  He returns after spending your wealth on gambling and prostitutes and you welcome him back with open arms, with no conditions.  You have never thrown a party for me... for any purpose.  I have slaved for you without complaint.  What have I received in return?"

"Please understand," I said with great sadness. "Your brother was lost and has now been found.  He was dead and has come back to life.  What I have is always yours... everything.  There is no need of envy.  Your brother has sought forgiveness.  I have prayed for his return... and now we celebrate that my prayer has been answered."





copyright 2016 - Donald P James Jr

 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Where is Your Light?

If therefore thy whole body be full of light, having no part dark, it shall be wholly full of light, as when the lamp with its bright shining doth give thee light.

Luke 11:36 (ASV) 
 

Where is your light?
Is it hidden under a basket
or has it become
subject
to doubt?
Does it fade in radiance
when deep shadows
converge in dark alleys?

Where is your light?
Does it glow
in the face of an enemy
or is it visible only to allies?
Are you a candle
flickering in the breeze?
Is your light struggling
to stay lit?

He is the light of the world.
He bathes us
in His radiance
that we might touch
the untouchable
and give strength to the weak.

So where is your light?
Is it hidden by sin
or complacency?
Is the world around you
a bit darker
because you decided,
today,
not to shine?



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Let Us Reason ( Isaiah 1:2-20)


Come,
Let us reason,
He says.
You have become your own burnt offerings.
Your hands are raised,
open palmed,
in one moment.
they are clenched as fists
in the next.

You could have been Sodom
or Gomorrah.
Still you are nothing but a dried vineyard
whose grapes have fallen from the vine.
He cannot see you
while you refuse to cleanse yourself.
He cannot smell
the aroma of the offering.

Remove the evil deeds
and desires
from your heart.
Seek what is just,
give the orphan a home,
comfort the widow.
Then you will once again
walk in His sight.

Come,
let us reason.
You are stained as scarlet.
It runs deep in your flesh.
But the Lord will bathe you,
wash you clean of your sins.
Your marks of disobedience
will be white as snow.

Come,
let us reason.
It is you that He has longed for.
You are the single sheep
He seeks in the wilderness.
He calls your name
over the barren land
and waits for the day when you will answer.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A Prayer of Asking


Lord,
I ask You daily, to forgive me
as I forgive others
and then I let my life
be governed by hate.

Lord,
I ask You to not pass judgement
on me
and then I judge others
by my standards.

Lord,
I ask You not to condemn me
and then I taste
so much condemnation
in my thoughts and words.

Lord
I ask You to see past my failings,
to give me strength
and then I admonish my brother
when he gives in to struggles.

Lord
I ask You to be merciful,
to make me a beacon of Your mercy,
and then I don't listen
to those who share their pain.

Lord
I ask You to mold me
into the image of You,
and then I stand distant
when others need me most.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr

Monday, March 13, 2017

Do Not Tell Anyone

"Do not tell anyone about the vision which has been shown to you until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead."

We all stopped short along the trail leading down the side of the mountain.  Rocks and sand, words that hung heavy in the air.  What did He mean by this? We were coming to understand the terms He would use to describe Himself, Son of Man, Son of God.  We all had come to believe He was the promised messiah.  Even those waiting for us in the field understood that.

What did raising from the dead mean?


We kept away from the subject of death as we continued down to where the rest of our group waited.  He had mentioned this before, death and His raising.  We always chose not to venture too deep in the subject.  Instead we asked Him about the vision, about Moses and Elijah, about the suggestion to erect a tent, a place of worship, to honor the sight.

"Why do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?" One of us asked.  We were all in such a fog, that is the best way I can describe the feeling.  I cannot recall if I spoke the words or if one of the others did.

"Elijah is coming first... and in fact he already has come.  There were many who did not recognize him.  They treated him without mercy, just as they will treat the Son of Man the same way."

We each nodded to each other, understanding that Jesus spoke about the Baptist named John.  He was dead now and we all mourned his loss.  There were those among us who had been disciples of John before he pointed them in the direction of Jesus.

Did we feel a sense of joy as we approached our brothers waiting for us at the mountain's base.  I suppose we did to a degree.  We had been chosen to witness Jesus in all His glory.  Illuminated and standing with the Fathers of our faith.  Moses and Elijah would not come to simply speak to a humble carpenter, or even a devout rabbi.  No, they came to the mountain to speak to Israel's Messiah, our king of glory.

Then why did I feel a lingering sadness as looked back up the mountain?  With glory comes pain.  With joy comes hardship.  Is that what life must be?  With all that we had witnessed at the mountain top there was still one small phrase Jesus spoke which haunted us all.

"Do not tell anyone about the vision which has been shown to you until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead."



copyright 2107 - Donald P James Jr 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Transfiguration



Titian - Transfiguration


I thought it was a dream,
for we had all abandoned You to sleep
                while You prayed.
We were tired from the climb
and not yet filled
                with the Spirit.
There were two others with You,
fathers of our faith,
who had not climbed the mountain
                by our side.

Lord, You were radiant
and Moses and Elijah
had come from heaven
                to stand in Your presence.
Let us make shrines on the mountain
to honor all of you.

The next moment
fear stole our wonder.
The sky darkened with thick clouds,
as if a storm would come and blow us away.
So many times
I have been afraid,
but You have always calmed the tempest
                by Your presence.

The voice we heard
is He who we call Father from our knees.
He tells us that You are his Son
and that we should listen intently
to the one He has chosen.



copyright 2016 - Donald P James Jr 
 The Poem above is included in the Collection
'Pictures of the Messiah'
Available in Print and Kindle Editions