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Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

I’m taking a break from the “Hand to the Plow and Pray” book for the holidays. For the Thanksgiving season, I’ve got a few devotionals and prayers I’ve written over the years. Feel free to use any of these in your gatherings.

This poem was written in 1976 – wow – 40 years ago… I hope you enjoy it.

 

Modern-Day Pilgrim

To the Modern-Day Pilgrim

the feast isn’t hard.

Forget the musket

“Where’s my MasterCard?”

 

Things are better

than they used to be.

For the Modern-Day Pilgrim

in this land of the free.

 

There’s no need to call in

his Indian friends.

“I gave at the office!”

He loudly contends.

 

He feels that all

he has, he deserves.

No need to be humble

“It’s hard work,” he concurs,

“That got me where I am today.

“Let others work

and make their own way.”

 

But Modern-Day Pilgrim

where is your prayer?

I get the feeling

that it’s lost somewhere

between the Thanksgiving Dinner

and the football game,

Somehow dear pilgrim

it’s just not the same…

 

Betty J. Newman ©1976

 

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You Can’t Thumb Through a Kindle

Have you ever been thumbing through your Bible, turning to a particular scripture, when your eyes fell on an “underlined” passage that just “jumped out” at you and spoke to your heart? Well, we’re quickly losing that type of encounter in our society because…

You can’t thumb through a Kindle
Smart phone or I-Pad
There’s no “random” experience
In the latest gadget or fad.

“But” (the retort comes back)
“I’ve quit ‘chasing rabbits’
I’ve streamlined my time
It’s all at my fingers
The reason and rhyme

I’ve stopped the distractions
I’m focused you see
I’m in charge of my study
I’ll decide what I read.”

(But my friend, what you don’t realize is…)

There’s no surprise encounter
With the Word to be had
You can’t thumb through a Kindle
And what we’ve lost is so sad.

 

Yeah, it’s a hokey little poem (not my best literary work by any means) but it captures the anguish of my heart. (Though you may be reading this on an electronic device, still) I fear we are fast becoming a world in which God’s Word is not allowed to “speak” to our hearts. “WE” are too much “in charge” of our own study these days.

Mark up your Bible. Underline passages that speak to you. Make notes that you (or your great-grandchildren) will read in the future.

If you remember… folks died to make sure you had God’s Word, in print, in your hands…

Prayer:

Almighty God… El-Shad-dai… my All Sufficient One, thank You for this living, breathing Word in my hands. Speak to me today in my reading, and remind me tomorrow of what You have said.

When I am so troubled that I cannot read, may I “thumb through” and just read the “underlined” so that I remember Your presence, Your faithfulness in the past, and hold to that promise for the future.

I pray this in the Name of the One Who Is the Word made Flesh – Jesus Christ my Saviour – Amen.

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Our Wednesday night women’s Bible study group continued our study through the book of Joshua this week. We were on chapter 7 which I titled “The Battle at Ai – Part One”. The subtitle was “Sin in the Camp”. (Note: I have another blog post titled “Sin in the Camp” therefore this one is #2).

Looking back at the battle of Jericho we said that Jericho represented that type of battle where we are facing something we’ve never faced before. The Israelites had fought a few battles through the wilderness wanderings – but those were “normal” types of battles – hand to hand combat. Jericho, on the other hand, was a “walled city”. They’d never battled an enemy in a walled city before.

And sometimes we face battles and circumstances that we’ve never faced before either. We saw in chapter 6 how to fight such a battle as this.

Ai, however, represented a completely different type of battle. This represents a battle of the flesh. This is a picture of those types of battles that we go into thinking, “I can handle this… This will be ‘a piece of cake…’ There’s no need to pray about it or  bother God with this dinky battle. I’ll just take care of it…” And then we get routed and are forced to run from the enemy with our tails between our legs.

I shared a poem (of sorts) with the class titled “I saw a little worry” which describes how we can get caught up in thinking “I can handle this”. (To read “I Saw a Little Worry go to https://prayerlogue.wordpress.com/2015/02/22/i-saw-a-little-worry

The battle at Ai also shows us what happens when there is “sin in the camp” – and that is – we’re defeated before we even begin!

Read the last verse in Joshua 6, and then chapter 7 to discover what sin caused Israel’s defeat, and what God’s response was.

Is there sin in your life that is causing your defeat?

To read more on “Sin in the Camp” go to https://prayerlogue.wordpress.com/2012/11/08/sin-in-the-camp

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(This is a rather long blog post – but one that has been on my heart a long time. God just now provided the words. Feel free to share if you feel the same.)

Why I Need to Hear Hymns

The phone rang early one morning and one of our sons had some disturbing news. My first reaction was, “I must tell Jesus!” So, I fell to my knees and began:

 

I must tell Jesus!

I must tell Jesus!

I cannot bear my burdens alone.

I must tell Jesus!

I must tell Jesus!

Jesus can help me, Jesus alone.

 

I must tell Jesus all of my trials;

I cannot bear these burdens alone;

In my distress He kindly will help me

He ever loves and cares for His own.

 

I must tell Jesus!

I must tell Jesus!

I cannot bear my burdens alone.

I must tell Jesus!

I must tell Jesus!

Jesus can help me, Jesus alone.

 

At the time of this writing, I am in my early 60’s. Hymns have been a part of my life for – well – more than 60 years! From “Jesus loves me, this I know” to the Bible school favorites, “Deep and Wide” and “Zacchaeus Was a Wee Little Man”:

 

Zacchaeus was a wee, little man,

And a wee, little man was he.

He climbed up in a sycamore tree

For the Lord he wanted to see.

 

And as the Savior came that way,

He looked up in the tree,

And He said,

“Zacchaeus! You come down from there!

For I’m going to your house today.

For I’m going to your house today.”

 

When I was going through a difficult season in my life with caring for ailing parents and in-laws; teenage sons in school and trying to keep my business running as well as food on the table and clean clothes in the drawer – it was one special hymn that encouraged me every day. I made two copies of the hymn on yellow legal pad paper. One went on the refrigerator (where it stayed for years – despite stains and discoloring!) And the other I kept folded in my billfold. There have been many nights that I sat in a hospital room, reading these words over and over.

 

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord

Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!

What more can He say, than to you He has said,

To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled.

 

“Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,

For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.

I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand

Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

 

When through the deep waters I call thee to go

The rivers of sorrow shall not thee overflow

For I will be with thee, thy trouble to bless

And sanctify to thee, thy deepest distress.

 

When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie

My grace all-sufficient shall be thy supply.

The flame shall not hurt thee, I only design.

Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

 

The soul that on Jesus still leans for repose

I will not, I will not desert to its foes.

That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake

I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!”

 

 

Actually, it hasn’t been that long since I removed the faded, tear-stained, and worn sheet of paper from my billfold – but I know the words by heart now.

 

Another that sustained me during those years was, “When the Storms of Life are Raging”

 

When the storms of life are raging – stand by me.

When the storms of life are raging – stand by me.

When the world is tossing me,

Like a ship upon the sea,

Thou who rulest wind and water – stand by me…

 

In the midst of tribulation – stand by me.

In the midst of tribulation – stand by me.

When the hosts of hell assail

And my strength begins to fail

Thou Who never lost a battle – stand by me.

 

In the midst of faults and failures – stand by me.

In the midst of faults and failures – stand by me.

When I do the best I can

And my friends misunderstand

Thou Who knowest all about me – stand by me.

 

When I’m growing old and feeble – stand by me.

When I’m growing old and feeble – stand by me.

When my life becomes a burden

And I’m nearing chilly Jordan

O Thou Lily of the Valley – stand by me…

 

(My favorite version of this song is from the album “The Trouble Maker” by Willie Nelson – believe it or not!)

 

When I had my first experience with hospice, in the weeks before losing my mother, these words kept me going.

 

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow

Because He lives, all fear is gone

Because I know, He holds the future

And life is worth the living – just because He lives.

 

And then one day, I’ll cross the river

I’ll fight life’s final war with pain;

And then, as death gives way to victory

I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He lives!

 

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow

Because He lives, all fear is gone

Because I know, He holds the future

And life is worth the living – just because He lives.

 

 

In the days after my Mother died, as my Daddy’s health was failing, and with a heart still breaking, I reluctantly attended a county-wide high school honors’ band concert in which our younger son was playing. One song on the program was titled, “An Unknown Hymn”… As O sat in that auditorium, barely listening to the music, I suddenly heard a tune that caused a flood of tears to my eyes, as my mind automatically added the words.

 

When peace like a river, attendeth my way

When sorrows like sea billows roll

Whatever my lot

Thou has taught me to say

It is well… it is well… with my soul.

 

Though Satan should buffet

Though trials should come

Let this blest assurance control

That Christ has regarded my helpless estate

And hath shed His own blood for my soul

 

My sin (oh the bliss of this glorious thought!)

My sin – not in part – but in whole

Is nailed to the cross,

And I bear it no more

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! O my soul!

 

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight

The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;

The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend

Even so, it is well with my soul!

 

(Even writing these words, I feel tears fill my eyes once again…)

 

That night I cried out to God – “Oh God! It is well with my soul – but it still hurts!” And I “heard” in my spirit – “I didn’t say it would be easy… I said I would be with you…”

 

 

One of our sons suffered from nightmares for years. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve comforted him with:

 

Be not dismayed, what ere betide

God will take care of you.

Beneath His wings of love abide

God will take care of you.

 

Refrain:

God will take care of you

Through every day – o’er all the way

He will take care of you

God will take care of you…

 

Through days of toil when heart doth fail

God will take care of you.

When dangers fierce your path assail

God will take care of you.

 

Refrain:

 

No matter what may be the test

God will take care of you.

Lean, weary one, upon His breast

God will take care of you.

 

Refrain:

God will take care of you

Through every day – o’er all the way

He will take care of you

God will take care of you…

 

 

Later, when that same son lay in the hospital – in intensive care – the words “Whispering Hope” calmed me day after day after day through his recovery. (Again – Willie Nelson’s nasally version 🙂 )

 

Soft, as the voice of an angel

Breathing a lesson unheard

Hope, with her gentle persuasion

Whispers her comforting word:

“Wait, till the darkness is over,

Wait, till the tempest is done

Hope for the sunshine tomorrow

After the shower is gone”.

 

Refrain:

Whispering hope, oh how welcome thy voice

Making my heart in its sorrow, rejoice…

 

If, in the dusk of the twilight

Dim be the region afar.

Will not the deepening darkness

Brighten the glimmering star?

Then, when the night is upon us,

Why should the heart sink away?

When the dark midnight is over

Watch for the breaking of day.

 

Refrain:

 

Hope, as an anchor so steadfast

Rends the dark veil for the soul

Whither the Master has entered

Robbing the grave of its goal.

Come then, oh come, glad fruition

Come to my sad weary heart.

Come, O Thou blest hope of glory

Never, oh, never depart!

 

Refrain:

Whispering hope, oh, how welcome thy voice.

Making my heart, in its sorrow, rejoice.

 

 

It’s a proven fact that we remember songs easier than prose. (Think of the number of jingles from commercials that you remember – even though the commercials may be years and years old!) Scripture chronicles many instances when events were recorded in song to help the people remember (Exodus 15; Numbers 21; Deuteronomy 31 and 32; Judges 5 and 2 Samuel 22 – just to name a few). And although we read out of many translations today – most people (at least people my age) can still recall scriptures memorized from the King James Version – particularly because of the poetical flow to the words.

 

 

The powerful words of hymns have sustained my faith through many difficult times in my life. I don’t know how I would have survived without them. Today, however, we seldom hear the hymns of the faith in our worship services. Most services are filed with “praise choruses”. And while it’s important to spend time in praise to God – still – there is little in those choruses to uphold us when times are really hard. But sadly, at other times, when hymns are incorporated into the service, it is often just the chorus or perhaps one verse. What great theological truth is missed for the sake of saving time.

 

We bemoan the fact that much of society (as well as many church members) are Biblically illiterate. May I suggest that we augment our teaching and preaching with the rich message that the hymns of the faith provide? Add drums and guitars to the arrangement if you feel it necessary – but please don’t neglect the teaching of those precious words. We can still sing praise choruses – but as for me – I really need to hear hymns… I need it for my soul.

 

 

 

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On this special day I want to share this song from our son’s new CD released today “The Great Mistrial” which traces the events of Jesus’s life from His arrest to His Ascension.

Enjoy!

http://johnny-newman.com/track/christ-the-lord-is-risen-today-crown-him-with-many-crowns

 

 

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The Spirit’s Homecoming

Just as one’s sunset

is another’s sunrise,

And one’s dusk

is another’s dawn,

So is the body’s death

the soul’s awakening.

And the physical’s demise

is the spirit’s homecoming.

 

At that time

infirmities are healed

sorrows are comforted

and God is glorified.

 

Blessed be the Name of the Lord my God

Who heals our infirmities,

Soothes our sorrows,

And holds us in the Palm of His Hand.

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Another gem from about 10 years ago…

 

I Saw a Little Worry

I saw a little worry the other day – it wasn’t very big – not enough to bother God with – so I just picked it up, stuck it in my pocket, and went on my way…

A day or so later, I ran across a concern, but I just threw it over my shoulder and traveled on…

The same with a care, it wasn’t much to bear – or so I thought…

As time passed, I collected several more cares, concerns and worries. They didn’t seem like much at each particular incident, but after a while, I began to notice that I’d picked up quite a collection – quite a load.

These distresses began to be a burden. They started gaining weight, and inter-marrying, and multiplying until they completely overwhelmed my life! They were there when I went to sleep, and there when I woke up. And sometimes they even invaded my slumber.

They swung from the rafters and hid under the bed. They perched on my shoulders and played tag in my head.

Ultimately, I reached the point of sheer exhaustion and utter despair. Then finally, I cried out to God, “HERE! YOU TAKE IT! I CAN’T HANDLE THEM ANYMORE!

And God said, “My child, why did you wait so long? Did you not know that I would have taken every worry, every care, and every concern right from the beginning – no matter how small?”

And I thought, “Yes, Lord, I know…”

And I wonder why do we do that; when He is more willing to speak than we are to listen; when He is more willing to give than we are to receive; when He is more willing to save than we are to serve? Why do we think we can do it all – when in reality, we can do nothing…

And so I vowed to take Him everything – every hurt and every pain, every mar and every stain, and every joy and delight, every thrill and every height of wonderment – everything!

For He is Lord – He is Yahweh – He is Jehovah-Jireh, and He will provide… Amen…

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I just learned that Rod McKuen passed away this week. I was introduced to his work in 1972 by my high school art teacher. It forever changed my life in ways that affect me, even today.

In 2003 I read his autobiography “Finding My Father” and in the “age of the internet” decided to try to contact him. I e-mailed him and he replied! And not only did he reply – he wrote a lengthy e-mail with very encouraging words and advice on my writing.

A lot is happening in my life along those lines that I don’t have time to get into right now – but I did want to share this poem. This is entirely differently from the things I normally post on this blog – but perhaps it shouldn’t be – because this is real life. And all of our faith and prayers affect our “real lives”.

This was written in 2003, at a time of great personal struggle. I was 49 years old and was caring for my parents, (my mother near death) my husband’s parents, (his mother had Alzheimer’s) two teen-age sons, living on a farm AND running a very busy caning business… To say I was stressed was an understatement.

Then I wrote this…

Reading Rod McKuen

 

I haven’t really read Rod McKuen since high school

more than 25 years ago.

I’ve changed

or life

has changed so much.

I’m a wife now

and mother

and business owner

and caregiver

but I don’t know where “I” have gone.

 

My children would be shocked to know

what a complicated woman

their Mother was

is.

 

I think

my Mother thought

that I was an idealistic and naïve youth.

And maybe I was.

But I felt things so deeply.

Everything.

 

And now,

my life is so full

that there’s no time to feel

only react.

Each day runs into the next

and a moment’s guard let down

wrecks havoc with a schedule.

 

Even making love

becomes a 10:30 thing

take it or leave it.

And even at that

you wonder

will the kids hear us….

 

So what if they do?

They should be proud

that after 25+ years of marriage

their parents

still find one another desirable.

 

Someday they’ll learn

that it’s so much more than desire.

That to hold

and be held

is sanity.

Especially

when it’s a 10:30 thing

And I haven’t read Rod McKuen

since high school….

 

 

Betty J. Newman © 2003

 

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I’ve been sorting through some of my older writings. This one gave me chills…

 

Prophecy of Health

 

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…

and He created man and made him steward over all things…”

including his own body…

 

What we have done

we have done to ourselves.

“I have sent you the prophets as doctors,” saith the Lord.

“You have been warned to change your ways.

But still you sacrifice to the idols

of jobs, pleasures, and ‘more’.

You bow at the altars of

it tastes good

it looks good

and it makes me feel good.

 

Yes, your soul may be right with God

but the temple of your spirit is in disrepair.

You refuse to take your responsibility

to care for your body.

You choose to ignore the warning signals

of fatigue, stress, and weight.

You work more hours, but have less time

because you have not given the Lord His time.

 

Consider your ways.”

 

“The day will come,” saith the Lord,

“when you will be held captive

by medicines and diets,

by wheel chairs and oxygen tanks,

by pacemakers and insulin shots.

 

You will be taken into the strange land

of reduced activities

just to survive.

Where the choice will no longer be yours

to go here and there as you will,

but only as you are able…”

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I wrote this poem almost 10 years ago, and oh, how much more applicable it is today…

 

On Being the Older Generation

 

Our pastor just had a birthday – he turned 30 (bless his heart.) I remember turning 30…

 

Thirty wasn’t so bad – but 40 was something else entirely!

Fifty brought a lot of changes,

some good, some difficult

but still, I didn’t feel “old.”

 

The thing that really made me feel “older”

was losing both parents.

And, I don’t mean “older” as in terms of “age”,

but as in terms of “responsibility.”

 

I am now (at least in my family) “the older generation.”

 

Now, “the buck stops here.”

Or make that, “the questions stop here…”

 

There’s no one for me to call up.

No where for me to go

in fact, they now, all come to me.

 

That’s a scary thought

in some ways.

But, in some ways, that’s a very humbling thought.

 

And my prayer becomes,

“God! They’re actually listening to me!

Quick! Fill me with Your wisdom!

 

Then I see – He’s been working on me

for over 50 years…

©Betty J. Newman

Nov. 2006

 

And now – He’s been working on me more than 60 years…

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