Seeing Symphonies

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

As I work through posting a year’s worth of poems, I land on some where I can’t remember what prompted the poem. This is one that is ironically opaque to me.

It doesn’t help that the only thing I wrote on Facebook when I posted it was, “The first thought in my strange mind this morning…” Indeed!

Everyone’s Friend

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

I’m finally reading Anne Frank’s diary. I’m a slow reader, so Sadness will hang around the next few days. She’s not my most welcome guest, but surely as wise as they come.

Almost every time I walk with Anger, I realize that Sadness would conduct me to a better place.

Note: I should use the following image as a background, if and when I get a copy with enough resolution:

Country Curate

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

On a friend’s post, my sister wrote, “I love that photography can help us really SEE the world. My mom taught us to look for those tiny bits of beauty that are often overlooked. Brad Hepp, you took that lesson to heart!”

My sister says,
“I think of you,
Of what you took to heart.”
What she says is right in part; 
God make it wholly true!

#bitsofbeauty #overlooked #individualsmatter #countrycurate #vasevine #clematisviorna #poetography

Dumb Criteria

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

Of all the questions I ask about my reading, the least important is “How quickly am I getting through this book?” That habit is left over from years of perfectionism, and of having to read what others assigned to me, instead of what I chose to read.

I’m a slow reader. There, I said it. But I’m happy to report that God uses the little I’m able to read to change me.

#falseguilt #perfectionism #howtoreadslowly #jamessire

One Can Only Pray

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

I cannot comment too much on this poem, except to say that it expresses a curious, abiding concern for someone I observe but don’t really know. I have no basis to intervene, but I’m free to pray. God knows what to do.

#prayer #vulnerable #godfather

Eremoneutics

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

[This title is a combination of Greek erēmō (ἐρήμῳ, meaning wilderness, desert) and “hermeneutics” (the art and science of interpretation, especially of the Bible).]

These days I’m doing a lot of puzzling about the relationship of words and events in the lives of Moses, John the Baptist, and Jesus. Consider how the following words figure in the announcement of Moses’ and Jesus’ ministries: wilderness, voice, fire, sandal. Add in the fact that Jews were looking for a fulfillment of Moses’ promise that “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen” (Deut. 18:15). They were bound to be looking for similarities between Moses and Jesus.

My 21st century brain wants to nail down logical, definite relationships between the men and their stories. But is that even appropriate? Is it possible that 1st century Jews were content with an unanalyzed, but harmonious gumbo of coincidence?

Please understand that the previous paragraph is not a denigration of biblical characters and writers. It’s simply that I want to really understand how they thought.

Bible students are taught “don’t make parables walk on all fours.” In other words, don’t assume that every aspect of a parable represents something in reality. But we’re tempted to ignore the advice. We get to the parable about the Rich Man and Lazarus, and we want to use that parable to map out Heaven, Hell, and eternal destiny. We need to be careful.

So, my last paragraph is a respectful pondering of the possibility that commonplace wisdom about interpreting parables may extend to interpreting other biblical forms.

(background image by Kordula Vahle on Pixabay)

#hermeneutics #johnthebaptist #moses #jesus #fire #burningbush #wilderness #voice

Word to the Wise Guy

When you go to poke fun
And the response isn’t glee,
Make your very next words
An apology.
— Brad Hepp, 9/7/2023

Commentary

I have often observed a kind of bullying behavior: a man or woman, girl or boy is easily stressed; less easily stressed jerks take advantage of that person by “kidding” them and then criticizing them when the “kidding” is not taken in stride.

Perhaps this is why I so much appreciate the Geigerism “Kid Up!”

Still Pondering

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

PONDERING THE UNFATHOMABLE
King David’s blessed man meditated “day and night” (Psalm 1) and Mary “treasured all these things in her heart” (Luke 2). These two passages provide my model of humble, intellectually honest pondering.

I assume that we please God more by pondering his words and ways than by pontificating on them. As a man of limited intellect and porous memory, I take shelter and comfort in this assumption.

The background image for this poem is a “map” of the Mariana Trench produced by the Nasa Earth Observatory.

#psalm1 #luke2 #mary #pondering #marianatrench

Warbling

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

IN PROCESS IN PUBLIC
Occasionally, I run into someone clearly wiser and more spiritually mature than me who says something like “I read all that you write.”

When I hear that, fear momentarily grips my heart.

Such people smile, and don’t judge. But if I can see my own foolishness in the recent past, such people can see it in my present condition. Being seen can be scary.

This poem is an attempt to deal with the embarrassment of being in process in public.

___________________

#embarrassment #humiliation #publicwriter #tmi #justification #babybird #inprocess

(background image by Steve Bidmead on Pixabay)

MOSES, JESUS, STEPHEN… ME?

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Stephen, full of faith,
The Spirit, grace, and power,
Served the Lord one glorious hour.

When Freedmen apprehended him,
He spoke to them of Moses,
Sent by God to set his people free.

He recounted how the Jewish slaves
Rebuffed their would-be liberator,
But let him lead them out, eventually.

Short-lived, this being led….
They got it in their head
A cow could rescue them instead.

It’s no surprise, this people unwise
Would not heed Moses when he said,
“Watch for another like me to rise.”

Angry, the list’ners let rocks fly.
Like risen Jesus, Stephen would die,
A loud “Forgive them!” his final cry.

— Brad Hepp, 8/17/2023

Commentary

In my crawl through Acts, I just arrived in chapter seven, and pitched my tent there. This poem is an early reflection on what I’m seeing as I look around my new camping spot.

Marco

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

I feel self-centered in the tears I shed at hearing of my friend’s death. I’m sad for his wife and children. But mainly, I’m sad for myself. Marco Ciavolino was one of my greatest, most faithful encouragers for over three decades. He knew how to point out my strengths, and downplay my weaknesses.

Back in seminary, Marco was recognized by students and professors as “Mr. Creativity.” I naturally attached myself to him, and spent many a long night working with him on his creative projects. While I was the beneficiary, he would never fail to recall our collaboration as though my self-interest were some kind of faithfulness.

Over the years, I could count on him calling me within minutes of my emailing or texting him with a question. From what I hear, that’s how he was with everyone (see Marco’s obituary).

So yeah…. I’m sad at my loss.

God, make me more like him.

ALSO THIS
Today, I was thinking of a crazy invention. There’s nobody who celebrated my crazy inventions quite like Marco. I WANT Eternity. I must have Eternity. Only in Eternity does Marco laugh approvingly. Only in Eternity does Jesus celebrate His little brother.

AND THIS: SURPRISED BY PIZZA (One of my many good Marco memories)
Being stupid and forgetful has its charms. For instance, there was that Saturday afternoon many years ago….

I was working in my home office when the doorbell rang. I opened the front door, and there was the Domino’s guy, already removing a large pizza from his insulated delivery bag.

“Brad Hepp?”
“That’s me.”
“Here’s your pizza.”
“I didn’t order pizza.”
“Well, somebody ordered it for Brad Hepp and they already paid.”
“Okay. Thanks!”

I set the pizza on the kitchen counter, wondering how this could have happened. Did I dare take a bite? What if someone was trying to poison me?

That’s when I remembered a phone call I’d had just 30 minutes before with my buddy Marco, who lives up in Maryland. Like me, he is a webmaster. He was calling to share the great news that he had just sold a domain name for $10,000.

“Wow!” I told Marco. “Congratulations!” Then I mindlessly added, “Pizza for everyone!”

Oh yeah! Duh.

Sometimes you get what you ask for.

MIDNIGHT ABLUTIONS OF A PENSIVE RACCOON

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

I sit on a rock on the bank of the stream, by the light of the moon methodically washing my midnight snack.

I’m thinking back to an earlier time, when darkness fell on the farmer’s shack….

Seated on a well-worn balustrade, I watched the farmer through slits in a dusty window shade. He sat on a chair at the kitchen table. By light of a lantern, he methodically penned. Poetry, I suppose.

With far less writing than scratching of head, he’d occasionally put pencil to paper and thoughtful compose.

Finally, he set down his pencil, snuffed out the lantern, and waddled to bed.

My careful ablutions are now complete.

It’s “Good night” to you, and to me, a pensive “Bon appétit.”

— Brad Hepp, 8/9/2023

(image adapted from original by Wolfgang Deckers on Pixabay)

#raccoons #thoughtfulwriting #pondering #poetry #turnthetables #rolereversal

Homeschool Poverty

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

My younger son Joshua just moved to New York City. I am almost ecstatic for the growth he’s poised to experience. Recently, I have been taking measure of the fathering I did when my boys were young. My sinfulness—including cowardice and racism—affected them negatively. HOWEVER, I am convinced that God can restore, even where we deprive and waste.

There’s more than one side to the homeschooling issue, especially in our circumstances. But I must be honest about my mixed motives. One of the beautiful things Joshua did for me is to help me see my racism (as well as some other failings).

(background image is a photograph I took of kids in a one-room school in Peru, when I was there on a missions internship in 1986)

#homeschooling #overprotection #restoration

In Fidelity

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

This evening, I texted what some might consider a disturbingly simple theological question to a trusted friend. He and I have talked about the good and necessary process of questioning a lifetime of assumptions. Sometimes, when you get old, you finally have the courage and wisdom to say, “WHY did I always make this assumption?” But then you realize there’s little time to come to new and settled conclusions. That’s why I wrote this poem. It doesn’t necessarily make sense. Actually, like the Preacher concluded, it doesn’t make sense at all apart from the prospect of eternal life.

#ecclesiastes3 #strengthofyouth #wisdomofage #fidelity

(background image by Viola on Pixabay)

Sapphira, on Fidelity

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

DO I RESPOND WITH APPROPRIATE FEAR?
Ananias and Sapphira both died as a result of lying to God and to the Apostles about their donation. The result, among other believers, was appropriate FEAR. Perhaps they were asking themselves, “How does my own lifetime of self-justification prepare me to respond honestly to all-seeing God?”

Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land?

Acts 5:3 (NIV)

Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”

Acts 5:9 (NIV)

Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.

Acts 5:11 (NIV)

#ananiasandsapphira #acts5 #honesty #dishonesty #selfjustification

Covenant of Promise

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

This little throw-away poem was my attempt to capture some of what’s being communicated by Stephen in Acts 7, especially the somewhat cryptic “uncircumcised hearts and ears” in his summary indictment:

You stubborn people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are always resisting the Holy Spirit, like your ancestors did!

Acts 7:51 NET

#acts7 #meaningofcircumcision #purposeofcircumcision #covenantofpromise #acceptgodsgoodness #acceptgodskindprovision

Noisy For Now

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

I’m not your guy to explain eschatology (what happens in the future, according to Scripture). Frankly, I doubt anyone’s got that completely right. But one book I’m reading now fired up my imagination about the last trumpet, and what trumpets do—they gather.

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.

1 Corinthians 15:51‭-‬52 ESV

#lasttrumpet #1corinthians15v52 #peacewithgod

Cease, O Drums, Thy Overwhelming

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

When I posted this on Facebook, I kept having to add comments to clarify my intent:

1. Is there anything more pathetic than an opinionated old audiophile with bad hearing?

2. In my experience, drums can be played in a way that complements the other instruments and voices, or they can be played in a way that draws attention to themselves. That’s just a matter of skill. Additionally, since I’m losing hearing in the higher frequencies, poorly-played drums (with their lower frequencies) can easily dominate and muddy up the whole ensemble. But hey, I torture people in my home with very bad accordion playing, so who am I to talk?

3. I want to be crystal clear…. I have nothing against drums, including as part of worship. As I sit here now, I’m reading theology while listening to one of my favorite Pandora stations. It features electronic dance music by artists like Tiesto, ATB, Armin Van Buren (much of it is built on driving beats). All I meant to say in the poem is “be skillful; be aware of how your instrument complements—or detracts from—other instruments.” One of my nephews is a top-notch drummer. I think he studied under a jazz drummer. When I talked with him about this, he expressed opinions very similar to my own.

(background image adapted from one by Carlos Rocha on Pixabay)

Ananias Wasn’t Abel

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

A MEMO REGARDING PIETY PARTIES
In my crawl through Acts, I finally forced myself to move past chapters three and four. There we see that Jesus came to bless all people. How? By turning them from their iniquity. What does that look like in this context? The Apostles and common believers are enabled to quit the iniquity of selfishness and practice generosity instead. Even when they don’t have much in the way of material goods to give, they can be generous in other ways. For example, Peter and John interrupt prayer time to heal a lame beggar. It’s a big deal.

Then we get to Acts, chapter five. There we encounter a couple—Ananias and Sapphira—who came to the piety party, but didn’t get the memo: generosity isn’t for impressing man, but for imitating God; don’t do a bad imitation.

Hospitality and generosity were huge issues in Israel. They’re probably still important to God… don’t you think? A deep recognition of my own selfishness has begun revolutionizing how I THINK over the last few years. By Jesus’ blessing that may even reach to how I BEHAVE.

RELATED ISSUE: IDOLATRY
Is it just me?
Or is this common
In our idolatry:
We worship what we think
Will get us the most.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
Colossians 3:5 NIV

#selfishness #generosity #piety #hospitality #acts3-5 #ananias #genesis4

(background image by Mystic Art Design on Pixabay)

Unbedazzled

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

TODAY’S ASSIGNMENT
Find a specific way in which to praise another person’s work, character, interaction, or other form of artistry.

#criticism #praise #recognition #beauty #jaded #bedazzled #artistry #poetography

(background image by Claire Margaret on Pixabay)

FURTHER COMMENTS
In my wording for “Today’s Assignment,” I was intentionally inclusive in choosing the word “person’s.” You probably understand this thing I’m starting to understand… that the person GOD displays his glory directly AND indirectly through our fellow men and women (also persons). All beauty is God’s beauty. When a friend chooses the loveliest way to express her thoughts, when a politician is respectful of his political opponents, when an artist uses color or juxtaposition to draw our attention to delightful design, these are all examples of God’s beauty manifested in and through people. We should respond to the degree and in the way God enables us.

Also, I’m on the perennial soapbox of lamenting that people criticize in excruciating detail, but praise in vagueness—if at all.

Culture Wars

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

I love it when a poem gets shorter and shorter, ’til all that’s left is one sentence.

I have asked one thing from the Lord; it is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking him in his temple.

Psalms 27:4

(background image by Alp Cem on Pixabay)

#psalm27v4 #winsome #witness #seeingisbelieving #culturewars #insanity #poetography

Disloyal Face

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

I sent this poem to a dear friend, saying “I think of you when I write this, with thankfulness that you use my guilelessness FOR me, and not AGAINST me.”

Having strong emotions is a blessing. Not being able to fully control them or mask them can be a curse.

MY FRIEND’S RESPONSE
My friend wrote: “You are allowed to have feelings and initial reactions. I would hope people would understand that and give you time to process.”

“That said, stay away from the poker tables. 😂 “

ALSO MY FRIEND’S RESPONSE
My friend also sent this shirt…

(background image by Stefan Keller on Pixabay)

#pokerface #guileless #masks #facialrecognition #emotions #proverbs29v11

Stolen View

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

You can never go home again, though sometimes I try. Google Street View is an amazing way to travel the streets of places where I lived long ago. Sometimes it just produces sadness. Recently, I did a virtual “drive” around the summit of the cerro La Paz, in Puebla. When I lived there as a little boy, I could walk the quarter mile to the summit of the hill and look across the valley to the volcanoes Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl. Now it appears that wealthy people have built mansions that block the view from everyone but themselves.

#youcantgohome #cerrolapaz #puebla #popocatepetl #iztaccihuatl

ADDITION:
One of my older brothers read the above poem and sent me the following photo from our family photo album. It is of me at about age three, being held by our maid, Lupe. The sky over Popocatepetl is ablaze with the kind of sunsets we often saw over the volcanoes. When you read that we had a maid, don’t get the wrong idea. By United States standards, and by the standard of most of the people who lived on our hill in Puebla, we were very poor (but only in financial terms!).

Dancing The News

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

This has come to be one of my favorite poems. Maybe that’s just because of the beautiful expression of the fellow in the background image. If you haven’t read Acts 3 in a while, do yourself a favor, and let your imagination play with the story we’re told there.

ACT ONE OF A TWO-ACT PLAY IN ACTS CHAPTER THREE
I’ve begun my crawl through Acts. In this morning’s passage, Luke mentions the look a lame man gives Peter and John, the look they give him in return, and the more attentive look they require of him. Is this and what follows a device to draw our attention to something Peter will tell the crowd? Who arranged this little two act play? Does the second act build on the first act? I suspect it does. We’ll have to take a closer look.

#beautifulgate #lamemandancing #acts3 #payattention #dancingnews #restoration #restored #raisedup

(background image by Dieu vath MAYOMA on Pixabay)

Looking For The Real Lord’s Supper

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

I serve two churches on Sunday mornings: a Bible church and an Anglican church. They both celebrate the Lord’s Supper each week. They do it differently. But in both cases, I think we must acknowledge—borrowing George MacDonald’s words—”the end of the Maker’s dream is not this.”

#1corinthians11v26 #proclaiminghisdeath #untilhecomes #revelation22v20 #iamcomingsoon #comelordjesus #communion #eucharist #lordstable #lordssupper #georgemacdonald

(background image by Bereana on Pixabay)

Prosaic Parrot

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

“How do you like to be addressed,” I asked. “I’ve read enough to know three dozen ways.”

“Dance!” he said, “Or sing… with moves and melody no other child has ever brought, or even thought to bring.”

“Don’t you care for words?”

“They’re fine,” he said, “but only if you join those words in such a way as shows they’re what you really mean.”

“Lord…” I said.

“Lord!” he cut me short. “Why do you call me ‘Lord’? If that is what I really am to you, there are at least three dozen other things that mean as much to you and more.”

“Am I—could you say—what brings you pleasure?
Am I what you crave?
Am I, on your ev’ry map, the ‘X’ that marks out treasure?”

“Am I not
To you
What you
Have always been
To me?”

“Or do I merit only prose,
While you’re my poetry?”

— Brad Hepp, 5/19/2023

COMMENT
Wow. That turned a whole lot darker than I intended. I have been thinking about the huge spectrum of creativity available to us in worshiping God, and how little we bother to—or sometimes think we’re allowed to—employ. But the darkness of this poem may be deserved, as it turns out. Is mouthing “Hallelujah!” really a suitable stand-in for praise, or is it a bouquet of wilted flowers?

Full disclosure…. I wrote this poem after reviewing an older poem where I personified Beauty. I wondered then—as I often do—if people with a sense of propriety narrower than my own will judge me for using metaphors they don’t find in the Bible. Is Jesus rightly called “Beauty” incarnate? Am I free to create my own names for the Creator? I’ll probably insist on sanctified creativity to the day I die. In fact, I suspect it’s my special responsibility as a poet. For God the Poet’s sake, I should double down!

#singanewsong #prosaic #poetic #trueworship #ephesians2v10 #youarehispoetry

(background image by Hans on Pixabay)

Fear of Moment’s Notice

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

WELCOME TO MY DIARY, 5/6/2023

Every time I post something like this, the algorithms pick it up and start feeding me articles and ads about “early signs of dementia.” WELL, THAT AIN’T IT!

A thoughtful friend consoled me: “Brad, while you can’t quote what you’ve learned, you DO work it into your thinking.”

AM I thinking? AM I honoring God with the mind He gave me?

AM I doing what I CAN do instead of wallowing in self-pity about what I cannot do?

Is there a chance I’ll find my limitations present a smooth and uncluttered path of progress?

Writing good poetry is a matter of making NEW connections, thinking afresh. Perhaps the thorn in my brain—my limited access to all I’ve learned—is a path to walk on, not a path to fear and avoid. As the clever preachers say, “Hmmm.”

(background image by Simon Mettler in Pixabay)

#limitations #welcomeeachrebuff #thatturnsearthssmoothnessrough #freshthinking #writingpoetry

Missing Roofs

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

You can’t be good at everything.

My friend, David Lewis suggested that “The arch never occurred to them. So perhaps we can’t refer to anything built in their time as architecture.”

I checked a dictionary and then responded, “I’m a fan of creative etymology. That one almost sounds plausible.”

David allowed that “Almost” is closer than I usually get.”

I have clever friends. Hopefully they don’t realize how easily they could pull one over on me….

The Deposition

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

I remember like it was yesterday (it was) when I realized that Nicodemus joined Joseph of Arimathea in removing Jesus’ body from the cross, preparing it for burial, and interring him. This historical event is referred to as “The Deposition,” and it has been the subject of significant paintings and sculptures.

Being simple-minded, I read “deposition,” and think of a legal case. This poem plays with that confusion.

GOSPEL ALLUSIONS

They replied, “Are you [i.e., Nicodemus] from Galilee too? Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.”

John 7:52 ESV

Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight.

John 19:39 ESV

CARAVAGGIO
See Caravaggio’s painting Deposition, and what is written about it at this site.
[TIP: when you get there, click the expand icon to see the whole image]

A PERSONAL RESPONSE
I can’t read the last stanza without tearing up. WE know what would happen within 72 hours. But Nicodemus didn’t. And neither do some of our friends.

#nicodemus #josephofarimathea #deposition #caravaggio #john7 #john19

What is Jesus Like?

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

As I near the end of my slow crawl through the Gospels, I’m asking myself, “How accurate and how full is my understanding of Jesus?” There are things we say about Jesus’ character based on brief accounts of his words and interactions. I believe they’re true, and I’m not discounting what the Spirit chose to record. But, to be honest, it isn’t an extensive record.

One could argue that the Apostles DID have an intense companionship with Jesus, and their later writings add to the picture. John assures us that “there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” (John 21:25 ESV)

ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE
The inspiration for this poem is the idea that even as Jesus showed us what the Father is like, we show the world what Jesus is like.

Or do we?

#ambassadors #historicaljesus #john21v25 #imagodei #psalm1v3

(the background image is a mashup of some tree photo I grabbed somewhere, addition of a “bag,” and creative effects)

Other Names in Heaven

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

I don’t know why I didn’t publish this back in April of last year. Maybe tomorrow I’ll wake up and remember why (maybe somebody will point out how knuckle-headed I am). Jesus’ radical identification with man, especially in suffering, changes everything. I love our Older Brother.

By the way, the preacher I refer to in this poem is one from long, long ago.

#daniel #shadrach #meshach #abednego #jesus #suffering #godwithus

To Silence and Beyond

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”

1 John 3:2 ESV

I apologize for this poem’s opacity. It expresses a growing recognition of the gap between my story-reading and God’s story-speaking. As I told a new friend yesterday, my questions increasingly outpace my conclusions. Hopefully, God is pleased with this.

(background photo: 6:59 am, Monday, September 19, 2016; ascending La Plata Peak)

#1john3v2 #weshallseehimasheis #babbling #tonguetied #poetography #laplatapeak

Sabbatical

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

I had a lot of this the last several years. And I’m better for it.

I suspect one reason God prescribed the Sabbath is so He can demonstrate HIS faithful provision. We tend to make it transactional: “Take this time off, and the reward is that you’ll be able to provide better for yourself by working harder and/more efficiently afterwards.” We say, “Here’s how I justify Sabbath….” I hear a murmur from the clouds: “They don’t get it yet!”

#surviving #pastors #anticipating #sabbatical

(background image by Roman Grac on Pixabay)

Orange, You Proud?

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

THE ICKINESS OF OTHERS’ SIN
I keep wondering what prompts moral outrage in society. Some of us fixate on outward forms of morality and conformance. We’re especially heavy on others whose sin holds no attraction to us. Is it deflection? “Don’t look at the greed and hatred in my heart. Look over there; notice that icky sinner. Concentrate on THAT sin!”

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

Matthew 23:27‭-‬28 (NIV)

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS
I must credit my mother for pointing me to the virtue of thin-skinned, “imperfect” oranges. You couldn’t fool Billie Jean Hepp.

ALSO
I was talking with a friend about this issue of moral outrage, and a different explanation emerged. It goes like this: People don’t really care about changing mores as much as they pretend to themselves and others. What they DO care about is being loyal to “our side” and the assortment of values espoused by “our side.” If the “other side” starts saying that (let’s come up with something silly) “all good men wear beards,” then you can count on it that “our side” will all agree that beards are evil, and must be banned. This agreement to rage about something as beautiful and sensible as beards doesn’t make sense, and “our side” doesn’t ACTUALLY care about the issue. It’s just that we’re in an all-out war to preserve the privilege secured for us by “our side.” Every hill becomes a hill to die on. Tribalism is juvenile.

“Thinking out loud….” I continue exploring my theory that selfishness is a common underlying motive that ultimately explains most of the weird behavior explored above. It sure has explained a lot in my own life!

(background image by Coleur on Pixabay)

#whitewashedtombs #pharisees #beautifulontheoutside #matthew23vv27-28

Zeff, Not Jeff

(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)

Commentary

I did actually meet a Zeff today. We talked about the origin of his name (Hebrew?), tools one can borrow at the library, and turning every lawn into a meadow. He didn’t seem to think I’m crazy, so maybe I have a new friend. Just don’t tell him about this limerick.

EDIT, 2/1/2024: Although I haven’t gone back and worked on this new friendship, I have since learned from someone else that the Zeff in question is a brilliant young man.