Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Who Touched Me? (Mark 5:25-34)


Who touched me?
Fibers of one spirit mingling with another.
Emotion flows outward
a stream of water,
purity,
God's strength.

Who touched me?
There is illness pressing in,
challenging concepts of cleanliness.
Who is to say
if a disease is a curse
upon any
of my creations?

Who touched me?
When the crowd presses in,
stroking my garments.
There is one who has faith,
despite all she has been told.
She bled once,
but no more.

Who touched me?
Daughter do not tremble,
you believed
as few will.
You sought healing
and took what was offered.


Who touched me?
Your prayer spoken at a bedside
melts into the fabric of my being.
I hear and I feel.
I am not the bronzed calf.
I respond to your every supplication
with love.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Innocent

My Father, Lord of heaven and earth, 
I am grateful that you hid all this from wise and educated people 
and showed it to ordinary people.

Matthew 11:25 (CEV)

William-Adolphe Bouguereau - Linnocence

You have shown Yourself
to the innocent,
to those who draw no pride
unto themselves
by tearing down Your word.

You come to those,
unexpected,
the ones who listen,
with tear brimmed eyes,
to every syllable
You speak.

Long awaited promise,
some have forgotten the expectation.
They interpret themselves
into lordship
and explain Your thoughts,
falsely,
to those beneath them.

But You Lord,
have shown Yourself
to the poor in spirit.
You offer inheritance
to those who seek Your gaze
and a word of comfort
to those who listen.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Be Still

Jesus stood up and commanded the wind, 
“Be quiet!” 
and he said to the waves, 
“Be still!” 
 The wind died down, and there was a great calm.

Mark 4:39
 
Rembrandt - Christ in the Storm on the Lake of Galilee

Quiet, be still,
calm the storm in my restless soul,
sooth the waves
threatening to drown me,
carry me away into the depths.

I cry out in despair
and for a moment
I am tormented by doubt.
You tell me to have faith.
You tell me You will answer my prayers
to the best of my needs.

You allow the storm to cleanse,
to take from me pride,
leaving in its wake
humility.
You will not allow the boat
to capsize,
and be taken away by the sea.

Quiet, be still,
You have not abandoned Your child.
I am cradled in the palm of Your hand,
calmed by Your touch,
by Your voice
as the waters around me
settle peacefully at Your command.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr

Friday, January 27, 2017

Potential

Just a thought and a prayer
in a moment of early morning reflection.

~

Lord remind us,
in the depths of our hearts,
when a child is welcomed
into the world
there is potential
for the world to become
a better place.

 Potential
that this one life,
wanted,
desired,
prayed for,
a life given to the embrace
of a loving family,
might offer this world 
the goodness he has received.
 


Photo by Ashlee M Konow



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr.

Feed Me, Clothe Me, Shelter Me

The insistent knocking on the door
continues
and we don't wish to answer.

"Feed me
when I am Hungry,"

"Clothe me
when I am naked,"

"Shelter me
when I am homeless,"


The world calls out for nourishment
and we respond
for only political gain.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr 
 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Light


Light,
consumed by shadows
dispels no darkness.
Light,
cloaked
by the dusk of evil
offers no clarity.

Hold the lamp
where it may be seen.
Let its illumination
chase the vile acts of night
from unseen corners,
harboring transgressions.

Light,
on a pedestal
to shine forth.
Light,
giving vision
to blindness.
Light,
filling the heart
of one who believes
and offers our world
hope.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

An Unclean Spirit (Mark 3:20-30)

Jesus Teaches - Tissot

How can they say this spirit is unclean?
He has laid hands
upon all forms of maladies,
healed shame
and defilement.
He has looked upon those
we would not see,
spoken to them
as we never would.

How can they speak an unforgivable sin?
Only goodness
can flow from the heart of God,
like rivers
of pure water.
His words are inhaled
as nourishment for the soul.
He speaks words
shining light on the shadows.

How can they say Satan touches Him?
Do they not feel
the presence of God,
or is this grace
only for those with low spirits?
He has lifted us up
from the mire of our sins,
touched the untouchable
and loved those
only God
would love.




copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

For They Were Fishermen

While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.  And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  Immediately they left their nets and followed him.  And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them.  Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

Matthew 4:18-22 (ESV)


He walked along the shore, over moss covered stones and the sea's discarded vegetation.  The water filling the basin before Him teemed with life.  He watched fishermen casting their nets.  He watched others mend the tools of their trade.

He counted them all,
the fish,
the stones
and the laborers.

Through the work of His father's hand all life was created, the visible and the invisible.  He inhaled the moist air, the scent of the catch, the odor of moldy nets and waterlogged boats.  All this He caressed, long ago, at the time of creation.

Wearing sandals and colorless garments He stepped through a nest of shells.  The fowl gathered on the shore sought the skies.  He considered the course of their flight, the beauty of wings catching the currents of air and the texture of feathers.

Was it simply a call?
Was it simply His voice cast out along the shore, that made Peter and Simon pause to listen?
Did they know about Him?
Had they listened at any time to His word?

Somewhere between the moment when He pondered the Sea of Galilee, fishermen and empty nets He spoke to them.  Simon, Andrew, brothers on the deck of their small boat.  Men with calloused hands and fatigued muscles.  He had heard the language spoken, curses, laughter and anger.  He knew they condemned, they gossiped.  Their joy was limited and their faith needed strength.

Yet He knew them and He chose them because of these attributes.

"I will make you fishers of men."

Your life will never be the same,
no longer will you draw empty nets back to your boat,
no longer will hopelessness fill your heart.
Follow me and let the concerns of this world be concerned for itself.

Was it immediate?
Did the brothers drop their nets without question?
He knew them, all their heartaches and joys.
He knew, regardless of the callouses and fatigue, that they wanted to be touched by God.


Lord,
for us is it ever immediate,
sometimes I want to cast my net
one more time,
do it on my own.
Lord,
be more patient with me
than I am with You.
Gently lead me to the shore
that we might walk together.




copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr

Monday, January 23, 2017

All My Days


For all my days,
Lord,
may I dwell in Your house?
This I ask,
a solitary request.
Lord, be my refuge,
be my strength
and be my salvation.
This is what I seek,
my quest,
the focus of my contemplation
and prayer.

For all my days,
Lord,
may I sit at Your feet?
Allow me
the sound of Your word
and the healing
poured out by Your blood.
Lord
be all I need.
Feed my hunger,
quench my thirst.

For all my days,
Lord,
may I dwell in Your house?
May I rest
in the room You prepared
for me.
May I dwell within
the peace You promised,
worshiping the lamb sacrificed,
that salvation
might be granted.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr

Friday, January 20, 2017

Dwell

I will listen to what God the Lord says;
he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants,
but let them not turn to folly.
Surely his salvation is near those who fear him,
that his glory may dwell in our land.

Psalm 83:8-9 (NIV) 


Dwell where we dwell,
in a land where your spirit is sought,
where mountains touch two oceans
and the plains
offer an abundant harvest.
We stand divided,
one man from his neighbor,
even in our places of worship.
Help us to not use You
as a focus of our disagreements.
Make us red and blue in our hearts.

I will listen and serve,
because the reward for obedience is peace.
I will pray for hearts to melt
and words to unite.
You will not leave me wanting
for the ideals of yesterday and tomorrow.
This day is all I need.
 
Let anxious thoughts flee from my soul
for You are the giver of the earth.
Let this soil be bountiful.
Will it by Your hand
that the farmer sows good seed.
Keep the enemy from our fields of harvest.

We are a nation
which hungers for salvation.
Make us poor in spirit,
meek and humble.
Fill us with a need to serve,
not be served.

Dwell in our hearts.
Dwell in our midst.
Dwell in our city streets and in the country fields.
Dwell in our churches no matter the color of the faithful.
Dwell where one voice becomes silent and the next sings praise.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Why Do You Think Such Things

At once Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he said to them, 
“Why do you think such things? 

Mark 2:8


Why do you think such things?
Is it because some voice with perfect tenor
told you this was so?
Is it because it was written on a stone tablet?

There is much in the law you ignore.
Guidelines with much more importance
than rules about particular days
and the forgiveness of blemishes on your souls.

Do not limit
what the father in heaven is able to achieve.
His will
is beyond your understanding and imagination.
You destroy in His name
and instruct in your own.

Why do you think such things?
Did I ever tell you to let the hungry starve,
to let the withered waste?
Did I ever tell you to condemn for sin,
when only I see the purity of a heart.

Rise,
pick up your burden and dance.
Your sins are no more.
They have been washed from your soul,
because love has come into your world.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Back to Capernaum

 A few days later Jesus went back to Capernaum, and the news spread that he was at home. So many people came together that there was no room left, not even out in front of the door. Jesus was preaching the message to them when four men arrived, carrying a paralyzed man to Jesus. 

Mark 2:1-3 (GNT)


He had returned to Capernaum and we were glad to have him back among us.  We were hearing of all the wonderful things he had accomplished.  There were stories, claiming he had cast out evil spirits and even healed a leper.

Like most men we had to see this for ourselves.

There was a paralyzed man in town.  His name was Eli.  He had been that way since his birth.  Now there were those who said he was paying for his parents sins and the sins of their parents.  Whether or not that is true is for the scribes and Pharisees to discuss and argue about.  We were fishermen, with worries of our own.  We were friends of Simon, Andrew and the two sons of Zebedee.  Our profession came with concerns beyond rituals and dogmas.

The idea belonged to my friend Barnabas.  Benjamin, Jonas and I agreed.  We would take the paralytic to Jesus and see for ourselves if everything conjured up by the rumor mill was true.  We grabbed the old man's mat and lifted him from the ground.  A large crowd was gathering at the house where Jesus was staying.  If we did not hurry we would have no chance of getting inside.

"Looks like everyone in town has come to listen to Jesus," Benjamin said.

And he was correct.  The crowd was blocking the door.  Some onlookers were trying to push through the crowd.  We set our burden down in the street to ponder our options.

"Bring me back," Eli said.

I considered the fact that I did not know this man well enough to call him friend.  I knew what others called him.  But to us he was the old man paralyzed, the paralytic, a beggar, nothing more.  What did any of us know, of real value, about him?  Had we ever sat at his bedside and conversed?  He asked others to fulfill his needs, some did, the four of us did not.

"Maybe we should go back," Barnabas suggested. "We are never going to get through that crowd."

"It is possible that none of the stories we are hearing are true," Benjamin added, "it might all be magic, a trick, and I do not think our friend here wants to be brought in there anyway."

That's when I saw it, a way up onto the roof.  I motioned to my friends.  They all nodded in agreement.  The paralytic just lay on his mat in a fetal position.

"Take me home," he whimpered with a dry voice.

We ignored him and with much effort hoisted him onto the roof of the home where Jesus spoke.  The crowd watched us, murmuring approvals and disapproval.  Someone yelled "They're tearing down my house".

We lowered the old man and his mat.  Jesus looked up toward us with eyes that knew without asking.  Everyone was out to test this teacher, this prophet.  Suddenly, just by looking in his eyes, I believed that this man could heal.  I had no doubt that the old man, Eli, would no longer bear the weight of his burden.  I believed the rumors about Jesus.  I prayed that when he looked at me he saw my faith, weak as it was.

Jesus squatted, beside the paralyzed old man... our friend and said, "Your sins are forgiven."

Now the crowd in the house became vocal at that statement.  There were those who observed the law with an unrelenting strictness.  They called the statement "blasphemy" and asked how anyone could dare to speak those words.

"Only God can forgive sins," someone shouted with anger.

Jesus rose and looked at the crowd.  I wonder what he saw in their faces.  Were some torn between the law of their religion and the words of this man.

"Why do you think such things?" Jesus asked. "What is easier to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or, 'Get up and walk?  The son of man has the authority to forgive sin." He looked down once again to the paralytic and said, "Get up, pick up your mat and go home."

We all watched as Eli stretched his limbs and slowly rose to his feet.  He stepped around in a circle, experiencing the movement of every muscle, before turning to Jesus with gratitude.  I will never forget the embrace between Jesus and Eli.  A tear ran down my cheek.  The crowd was in awe, even those whose only purpose was to find fault.  Never before had we seen anything like this.

"How could anyone ever doubt that this Jesus is sent from God," I said. "We have been witnesses to the works of his hands.  He looked at us and saw our desire to believe."

With smiles the four of us climbed down from the roof and joined Eli in celebration.

"Praise our God who has done a wonderful thing for his people," Eli shouted and we all sang along in chorus.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr


Monday, January 16, 2017

And We Gather (2 Timothy 4:1-2)

I solemnly urge you to preach the message, to insist upon proclaiming it (whether the time is right or not), to convince, reproach, and encourage, as you teach with all patience. 

2 Timothy 4:1-2 (GNT)



And we gather in the morning
to praise, proclaim and preach.
One body with many limbs,
listening to a pastor or priest.
The message is the word
and the light we need in this day
and the next.

Those who do not know the love
binding us as one,
turn their backs
at every anointing of the bride.
Teach them,
whether they shield their eyes or not.
Speak when they do not listen.
Convince when their hearts are hardened.

His love,
taught today and tomorrow,
is unchanging.
The beacon before you,
guiding your words and actions
in the times of holiness
and those that are void.

And we gather in the evening
to give thanks for the day's grace.
A people acknowledging
their struggle,
a body soothing its pain.
We are the word He has commanded us to preach.
We are the light He has instructed us to shine.
And we are the love
He has shown us to embrace.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr
 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

I Am Dust


My feet have tread in filth.
I am dust
without water to quench my soul.
Can I stand before You
as defiled as I am,
knowing Your basin of forgiveness
is poured out for me.

Call me in
from the streets staining my flesh,
where I have crawled
toward my demise.
Pour Your healing fluid
over my pride.
Embrace me Lord,
as You humble Yourself
before my sinfulness.

Hear me,
my God,
when I am at my lowest.
Wash away the dust
causing my sin
and remind me
how much I need You.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr

Friday, January 13, 2017

Even in the Lonely Places

As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. 
Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.

Mark 1:45 (NIV)


He came to soften hearts 
and heal souls,
but His hands cleansed,
brought sight to the blind
and opened the ears of the deaf.

The deserted places embraced Him
when the streets 
overflowed
with needs for the miraculous.
Places of loneliness
where no one would tread.

Still they came
from their squalor,
from their ghettos,
from their religious doubt.
They came from the shadows 
interwoven 
in their lives.

And He preached to them,
fed them,
healed their diseases.
He loved them without hesitation,
even in the lonely places,
loving all that they are
and all they will be.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Are You Prepared?


They have spoken of Him among the nations.
Some have listened,
others have turned their ears
to sweet tasting vices.
How long will the flavor last
on your tongue
before it becomes sour.

You have heard His name
spoken from mountain tops
and city streets.
Some embrace the truth,
others ignore.
The pleasures of shadowy corners,
tempt.
Darkness smooths every scar.

Are you prepared,
now that all nations have heard?
Are you carrying your lamp,
lit brightly,
with plenty of oil?
Is the thought in your heart
a prayer
or a fornication of His word?




copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Here as Dust

In the valley darker than night
there is a single thought
clung to in prayer.
I am here as dust
were it not for the soul.
I am a vessel of vile whims
were it not for the cross.

Lead me to the road
directed toward the light.
Support my burden
for I am weak.
I am the lost sheep
in field without boundary.
I am the son
returning home to his father
and I am the harlot
kneeling to wash Your feet.


copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr


Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Broad Path

Enter by the narrow gate. 
For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, 
and those who enter by it are many.

Matthew 7:13 (ESV)



The easy road,
the broad path offering distractions
of every flavor and shade.
The route most will find comfortable,
without challenge,
without heartache.
Walk the way of the lost
and never stumble.

The easy road,
dimly lit
to hide the flaws
defining its course.
Look into the shadows,
at the destitute,
who believe the popular slogans
at the cost of their souls.

The easy road,
the broad path
traveled by many
who believe in their own righteousness.
A road without a destination
worthy of the journey.
A road for those
who wish to not seek the light.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr

Friday, January 6, 2017

Less Than You Are (Matthew 7:21-23, Luke 13:25-27)


Lord, Lord
they call out
knowing His name only,
but not His heart.
They speak His name
because they have studied His word,
justifying each syllable,
weaving them into the fabric of their lives.

Lord, Lord
do you know us?
Your name is branded on my flesh
and Your cross hangs from my neck,
symbols of religion
worthless without faith.

Lord, Lord
they call out.
We prophesied in Your name,
spoke in Your churches,
cast out those who were sinners,
instructed them
in the ways
to worship You.

Lord, Lord
Your will was not done.
We spoke verses,
but never heard.
We loaded burdens
we would not carry
and assumed
You were less
than You are.



copyright 2016 - Donald P James Jr

Purifying Our World

Snow,
a lacy white garment,
covering the iniquities of our world.

A white cloth
covering the depths
of our our most intimate scars.

The thought is pondered by my soul
as I trudge through
the morning spectacle.

In the immediate moment
the white power holds such beauty,
purifying
our world
in a cloak of forgiveness.



copyright 2017 - Donald P James Jr