Monday, October 16, 2017

Clouds on the Horizon

No one knows about that day or hour, 
not even the angels in heaven, 
nor the Son, 
but only the Father.

Matthew 24:36 


Raise Your hand, Lord
to calm the winds
and the torrential rains.
Still the turbulent earth
and quench its fire.

Are we in those days, Lord?
You said I was not to know,
yet prophets
speak of Your wrath
without knowing Your name.

There are soldiers mounted for war
and dark clouds on the horizon.
I hear You say
"not today,"
and remind me that only fools
predict the moment.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr

 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Lone Sheep

I am the lone sheep,
wandering
from the flock.
I am the one
unprotected,
caught in the numbness of the world.

I am the one frightened,
but ashamed to commit
to my protector.
I walk through shadows,
ensnared in the briars of sin.


I am the lone sheep
that the shepherd
searches for.
He celebrates my return,
a sinner
becomes a saint.

He removes each thorn
dug into my flesh
and returns me to the flock
healed of every wound
I have inflicted
on myself.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Desert of Sin

The whole Israelite community set out from Elim, and on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had left Egypt, they came to the desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai.  There in the desert they all complained to Moses and Aaron and said to them, “We wish that the Lord had killed us in Egypt. There we could at least sit down and eat meat and as much other food as we wanted. But you have brought us out into this desert to starve us all to death.”

Exodus 16 1:3 
 

God gives,
we take
and moan for more.

We complain
while walking through the desert of Sin
about our own failings
of faith.

The burden of every struggle
crushes us.
We accuse our deliverer
of abandoning our souls to the darkness.

Manna and quail
rain from the sky.
In time we will explain the miracle,
in human terms,
and forget God's gift.

He gives
over and over
as we give glory to ourselves
for our daily bread.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Gifts (1 Peter 4:10)

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, 
as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms.

1 Peter 4:10


Gifts,
God's design through us,
words we see as insignificant,
talents we see as insufficient.

Gifts,
God's daily grace in our lives,
of His creation,
not ours.

Gifts,
His prayer through us
to a people in need,
never ours through Him.

Gifts,
love that serves the servants,
bringing no glory to the giver,
but only to God.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr

 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Comfort


Why do I turn
back to those places you saved me from?
The pleasure is momentary,
not eternal.
The corners of darkness
tempt,
but offer nothing of comfort.

Why do I walk
among those who hide from the light?
Pushing aside
Your love,
saving You
for a day when I am overcome
with despair.

My God,
why are you always there
waiting for me?
Why are You always eager
to take me into Your embrace,
love me
and call me Your child?

I deserve
not one ounce
of Your precious blood,
and yet
You shed every drop,
over and over,
that I might turn again
toward the comfort of Your love.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr
 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Pristine Fields

Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.

Luke 9:58


I will follow,
but am I willing to sleep
in an open field
with a stone for a pillow.

The den is for the fox,
the nest is for the birds,
but the cold
and barren ground
is for the Son of Man.

I will follow,
but let me first
bury the dead
and say farewell
to those who abide with me.

He says,
begin the journey
without looking back
at where you have been.

Enter the pristine fields
of holiness
without the burden
of your sins.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr

 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

False Gods

Little children, keep yourselves away from idols

1 John 5:21


False gods,
idols,
golden calves,
proclamations of unbelievers intolerant of faith.

Isn't it clear
that there is one way,
one truth
and one life. (John 14:6)

The Father is not visible
through money,
possessions,
relationships or political division.

Look for Him
in His word,
in His creation
and in the promise of His only son.




copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr

Monday, September 25, 2017

Jealousy (Matthew 20:16)


“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Matthew 20:16 

 
Jealousy,
we have walked in the way of holiness
our entire lives
and our reward
is the same as he who sought You
in his final hours.

Jealousy,
we have fought the battle
and crawled along the difficult road,
while they slandered,
celebrated,
drank fine wine
and lusted.

Jealousy,
we have accepted You
before our peers,
stood by Your word
in print and heart,
yet they share equally
the reward of Your kingdom.

The last shall be first.
Am I a worker on a street corner,
hired at first sunrise,
or am I he
who stood waiting for a job
in the hot day's sun.

Help me
to not see Your kingdom
as I
would wish it to be,
where only those
I understand as righteous
stand before Your throne.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr
 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

I Am Levi (Revisted)


I am Levi,
I have taken advantage of my downtrodden brethren. 

I am Mary,
I anointed Your feet and wiped them with my hair.

I am the rich man,
Finding it so hard to forsake my comfort and wealth
 
and the poor,
Encouraged that You take note of me.
 
I am he who cries out in the dark valley,
I am the single lost sheep You search for
 
and she who they wish to stone,
Trapped in the fornication this world worships.
 
I will deny
In my fear of criticism.

and I will betray,
Since in my mind my plan is foremost to God's 

I will stumble and rise again,
Because of Your unconditional love.




copyright 2016 - Donald P James Jr

 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Green Pastures (Psalm 23)

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for You are with me; 
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. 
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, 
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. 
 
Psalm 23 


I see the green pastures
and the quiet waters.
I have come through the dark valley
and fought temptation.
The rod and staff of faith
are my strength.
I now will dwell
in  a land of peace,
in the presence of God.

He has prepared a meal
for me,
an abundant table,
bread and wine.
My enemies
understand their wrongs,
for my Lord has blessed me,
taken me in
from the cold valley of shadows.

Surely His goodness
and love
embraces me.
He anoints my soul.
I will sing praise
with each new morning
as I walk
through the green pastures
of His love.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Lord Said to My Lord (Psalm 110)

The Lord said unto my Lord, 
“Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.

Psalm 110


Thus says the Father,
to the Son
who witnessed creation,
to be born
of the great king's lineage,
Sit here
at my right hand.

The human messiah,
one of flesh and bone,
expected to be man
and not God.
The divine one
asking the blind
to open their eyes and see.

Whose Son is He?
An incomplete answer
lingers on the lips of some.
Is He a prophet?
Is He a great teacher?
Or is He the messiah,
the Christ,
the Son of God?

The Lord said to my Lord.
The Spirit moves a great king,
who realizes
he is the servant
of his promised
offspring.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr

I Will Praise the Lord

I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; 
I will shew forth all thy marvelous works.
I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.

Psalm 9:1-2


We rise after the storm,
some with fewer scars
than others.
The dark clouds
give way to sun
and eventually the flower blooms.

Armies have marched against us.
We have been betrayed.
The heathen
have slandered our faith
and false judges
have condemned believers.

Still,
as the sun crests in the eastern sky,
there is victory.
The rays of light bathe our flesh
and dry the earth.
The enemy has fallen
and the unbelievers are without hope.

And I will praise the Lord,
with all my heart.
I will tell of the wonderful things
He has done.
I will sing with joy because of Him.
I will sing praise
to the almighty God.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr


Friday, September 8, 2017

Murmuring and Grumbling

These are murmurers and complainers, 
walking after their lusts 
(and their mouth speaks proud things), 
showing respect of persons to gain advantage.

Jude 1:16 


Grumbling voices,
murmuring against God
and those spoken to
by the Lord.
Never content
with their share
of the Father's promise.

Complainers,
who are never pleased
with the path 
they are directed to walk.
Weeds among wheat,
wandering eternally
in the wilderness.

Seeking their own lusts,
justifying the outcome
of foolish
desires.
Opening their mouths
to spew forth swelling words
in praise of themselves.

They claim to stand for God
when in truth
they stand against
every commandment
of the flesh,
carved in stone,
and bow to their own glory.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr
 


Thursday, September 7, 2017

Sing Praises


Unto the Lord I sing praises,
with each string of the guitar
and the voice in my throat.
He has given me sonnets
meant to be sung out
over the land.
He has given me melodies
to help stir the mind
of the complacent.

Unto the Lord I sing with one voice.
If another joins
I have succeeded at little
for it is His words
lingering on my tongue.
I recite nothing more
than the prose of the prophets
and the psalms of David.

Unto the Lord I sing praises,
a chorus of saints and sinners
at my side,
instruments of faith
at the tips of their fingers.
Offered are notes
meant only for worship,
sung with the intimacy of prayer.




copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Foundation of Faith

“Everybody who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise builder who built a house on bedrock.  The rain fell, the floods came, and the wind blew and beat against that house. It didn’t fall because it was firmly set on bedrock.  But everybody who hears these words of mine and doesn’t put them into practice will be like a fool who built a house on sand.  The rain fell, the floods came, and the wind blew and beat against that house. It fell and was completely destroyed.”

Matthew 7:24-27
 
 
In the midst of the storm
there is hope.

Is the foundation of your house
built in the rock,
or does it rely
on sand
to keep it firm?

The strength of the storm
comes only in wind
and rain.

Any other power,
it yields,
we surrendered
when we built without conviction.

Keep your focus
on the foundation of faith,
the rock,
the cross,
the empty tomb
and the Lord's embrace
will keep you secure.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Keep Watch (Matthew 24:42-43)

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.  
But understand this: 
If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, 
he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.

Matthew 24:42-43 
 

Keep watch,
be vigilant about your ways.
There are those,
in these days and those to come,
who will point to disasters
and calendar dates,
making claim that the end is ordained.

I don't understand,
did we not comprehend His words.
"You do not know",
spoken to men
who witnessed every footstep
of our Lord's ministry.

Does pride invade our hearts,
telling us 
we have more knowledge of Him
than those who stood
in the midst of the teacher.

There will be floods,
there will be wars,
there will be earthquakes.
Understand the times,
but do not feel
you can count the days.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr 


Monday, August 28, 2017

Psalm 60

O God, thou hast cast us off, thou hast scattered us, 
thou hast been displeased; 
O turn thyself to us again.
 Thou hast made the earth to tremble; 
thou hast broken it: heal the breaches thereof; for it shaketh.
 Thou hast shewed thy people hard things: 
thou hast made us to drink the wine of astonishment.

Psalm 60:1-3


You have cast us off,
scattered us over the land.
We have been
displeasing
to Your sight.
Turn toward us again.

You have shaken the earth,
made it tremble
on its foundation.
We have struggled
because of our lack of You
and our fullness of self.

Denominations split.
Your word divides us,
because of our fault,
not Yours.
Bring us together
like wheat to bread
and grapes to wine.

I have been cast off,
turned my back from Your gaze,
although,
You never stop
watching me,
waiting for my return.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr 




Friday, August 25, 2017

Judgements


The ethics
I find difficult to apply to my life,
I apply to my neighbors
a hundred fold.

I speak slander with my tongue
against another's adherence to the law
and I condemn my soul
to the same judgement.

How foolish I can be,
rationalizing my guilt,
while asking that my debts
be wiped clean.
All the while
having not cleansed my heart
of the trespasses against me.

I ask the Father
to forgive
in the same fashion I forgive,
as unforgiving as I can be.

I have much work to do.
My heart can be like stone,
when it should be of flesh
and emblazoned with forgiveness.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Ephesians 5:14

Awake, O sleeper,
    and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.

Ephesians 5:14


The night of darkness is past.
Rise up from the shadows,
fold your mats and face the light.
You are no longer a victim of eternal death.

Sleep no more,
the light bathes your face.
The scent of a new morning fills your lungs.
You have followed the course,
without hope,
of your ancestors,
returning always to darkness.

The word is spoken.
He begs for your ear.
Hear Him now
while His voice calls to you.
Feel the warmth of His gaze
as His eyes settle on your brow.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Warnings (Titus 3:8-11)

 This is a true saying.
I want you to give special emphasis to these matters, so that those who believe in God may be concerned with giving their time to doing good deeds, which are good and useful for everyone.  But avoid stupid arguments, long lists of ancestors, quarrels, and fights about the Law. They are useless and worthless.  Give at least two warnings to those who cause divisions, and then have nothing more to do with them.  You know that such people are corrupt, and their sins prove that they are wrong.

Titus 3:8-11


Warnings, twice
to those who divide
the intention of the Word.
Do not break down
the law of love
with arguments and quarrels.


Corruption and sin
are ever present.
Give yourself to unity.
Bring together
what has been separated,
as the Lord
brought the fisherman
to the tax collector.

Warnings, twice
and you have made the effort.
Nurture the wheat
and have nothing to do
with the weeds.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr
 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Tension in My Soul (Matthew 6:25-34)


Worry not.
Sometimes I need to listen
to the gentle voice,
speaking to me,
calming every tension
in my soul.


You are so much more
than the birds
or the flowers
growing wild in the fields.
Why worry about clothing,
the bread on your table,
the money in your accounts?

I read these words
and know that I stumble.
I hear quotes
and sonnets
meant to remind and comfort me.
Still I give way
to anxiety and unease.

Tomorrow
will have enough worries
of its own.
Do not add them
to the concerns
of the day present.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr

Monday, August 14, 2017

Command Me to Come (Matthew 14:28)


Command me to come
on the water.
One step before the other,
without sinking.
Strengthen my faith,
that the undertows
do not pull me under.

Lord, bid me the courage
to see beyond the storms,
to ignore
the dark clouds
building against the horizon.

And yet,
if after all Your words
have been spent on me,
still stretch out Your hand
to pull me up
when I am
of little faith.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Cedars of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 17:22-24)



He will take from the crest of the cedar,

from its topmost branches,

tear off a tender shoot

and plant it high on a lofty mountain.

It shall put forth branches and bear good fruit

and become a majestic cedar.



Birds of every kind will dwell beneath it.

Every winged thing will rest in the shade its boughs

and all the trees of the field shall know.


That the Lord will bring low the high tree.

That the Lord will lift high the low tree.

That the Lord will wither the green tree

and make the withered tree bloom




copyright 2012 - Donald P James Jr 



Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Adopted

He has been broken,
left to be adopted by others.
Sing out with graditude,
crumbs from the table
of the children
have been offered to the dogs.

Gentiles,
those of the rebel tribes
who never stood in the temple.
The unworthy sinners
who have hidden themselves
from God.

How can this be?
Hands raised in the air
by the pious
are ignored
by the One Most Holy.


The prostitutes gather,
the tax collectors
and those with unpayable debts.
They cry out 
asking forgiveness
and they are heard.

He has been broken
and is adopted by others,
not those who felt a right
to claim Him,
but the sinners
who knew they had no right.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr

 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Who Among Us


Who among us
believes he is unblemished?
Who among us
justifies our transgressions?
Who among us
wears a mask to hide their imperfections?
Who among us
tastes hate and not love?
Who among us
is proud of the scriptures we know?
Who among us
has followed the broad path
when the narrow seemed difficult?

If we identify with one affliction,
we possess all,
covered in stains of sin
and scars we see as ugly.
We hate, we judge, we seek revenge.
We are proud peacocks,
Pharisees in the midst,
standing at the entrance to the narrow road,
where the incline is steep
and the terrain is rocky,
struggling daily
to take one more step in the journey.




copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr
 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Trespass


I trespass,
stepping over a line drawn in the sand.
Some prophets of this day
have spread their ideals
like wind through the grains
and the boundaries are less clear.

Do I seek
excuses,
stepping barefoot into sand
I should never feel?
Is the experience
worth the loss?

I trespass
into a world seemingly pleasant
and then,
I long for the simplicity
I once held tightly
in my heart.

Father in heaven,
be kind to me when I return,
a wanderer,
a prodigal.
Hold not my debts against me
and help my heart to forgive all that scars its flesh.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Psalm 65:10

You fill the furrows of the field with water
    so that their ridges overflow.
You soften them with rain showers;
    their sprouts you have blessed.
Psalm 65:10 (ISV)



You drench the earth
that life might spring forth
from its soil.
You fill the furrows
and quench the thirst
of a land once dry.

You till the ground
so it might be
receptive
to Your nourishment.
You bless all that comes forth
from the pastures
of love.


copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr