Another 18th Psalm, a blackout poem

How do I go forward when my story seems to be encircled with weeping and great loss? King David found help in his King of kings, and he penned a God-inspired poem — Psalm 18. Although not nearly as verbose as Psalm 18, this blackout is a reminder to us that our King still listens and still responds with help. He has armed us with His Spirit’s perseverance and His Son’s namesake. With this truth, we can and will overcome the hard with joy. The King lives. He is my Chief. His purposes for me are good and great. Therefore, I give thanks.

A Prayer Against Destruction

Hey kiddos, we met together last night — New Year’s Eve 2021 — and we made predictions and spent time as a family praying for each other for the coming year. Your Solomon Grandpa made a comment last night that had me thinking way past the evening about how I can and should pray for each of you this coming year. Actually, it is a prayer we should all be praying for ourselves and each other. Your Solomon Grandpa reminded us of the Lord’s Prayer: Jesus, leading by example, prayed, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” To be completely transparent here, I have rarely prayed that boldly for the Lord to keep me from temptation. I ask the Lord to give grace to us so that we make right and careful choices. I ask the Lord to give us strength to be God-honoring. I ask the Lord for protection, but I focus more on physical dangers than spiritual dangers. Solomon Grandpa encouraged us to be more bold in our praying. Be bold in praying for protection from sin’s destructive path.

Dear God, don’t let me, my spouse, or my children follow a path that leads to destruction. Place Your protecting hand on us so that we do not fall into sin. Keep Satan from deceiving our hearts. Deliver us from the touch of evil in our lives.

None of us should assume we are immune from sin, its deception, or its brokenness. Salvation does not vaccinate us from sin’s dangers here on earth. We have to be vigilant. We have to know and apply truth even when it’s not popular, convenient, or easy. To the degree we believe we are strong enough to fight sin on our own is the same degree we are susceptible to sin and in danger of falling into its destructive path.

So pray diligently as I will be that God delivers us from sin’s destruction. Don’t be fooled with worldly thinking…even when it is reasoned and spoken by well-meaning Christians. Don’t be deceived with temporal pleasures that defy God’s ways…when when they are presented and accepted by so-called Christians. Don’t settle for temporary “easy and popular” over God’s forever “peace and joy.”

God, deliver me and my family from evil in 2022. We need Your truth in our lives to protect us from the deceit of sin. May we make Your truth our priority this year. Amen.

Return of Day, a blackout poem

Commentary about poem below

Depression is no joke. It is suffocating, overwhelming, and debilitating. BUT depression is not without a solution, a balm. Truth fights depression and tells us, “we don’t fight alone, we have a God greater than our grief and depression, we will be okay, we can take one step at a time, we are loved wholeheartedly, we do not have to succumb to the feelings of depression.” Instead, we can savor the truth and strengthen our hope that God always wins, and we are on God’s side. Wanting to step out of the night and return to the day is a hurdle though. We can with God’s help. Step into truth and see the light. Just a step is a good start.

What Is Best? a blackout poem

Commentary about the poem below

What is best to be done when we are tired of trying without success, tired of fighting with nothing to show for it, tired of working without any progress? What is best to be done when we struggle to see purpose in the trials?

Our next choice should always be to do the next right thing: try again, keep fighting, work to work it out. Sometimes our greatest success is found not in an achievement but in the determination to never quit.

Quitting is losing every time. Resolve to never quit, for perseverance is success. Often the process is more valuable than the achievement it may produce.

The Hero, a blackout poem

Commentary about poem below

I know some of these heroes. Personally. They walk into danger every day, and they love the opportunity to protect and preserve peace. Death danger is real. For that reason, my prayer for them is that God would keep them safe in His presence, surrounded by His presence, surprised by His never-ending presence, and satisfied with His presence. These heroes step into this life calling each day so I pray God goes with them. I believe He does go with them and before them and surrounds them with grace and strength. CS Lewis may have been surprised by joy, but I pray my hero-sons will be surprised by His grace and presence. Safe is a promise. God’s safety doesn’t guarantee health and on-going life on this earth, but it does guarantee eternal safety in heaven. So, no matter what the future holds on earth, God will keep my heroes safe forever and ever. God keeps His promises.

Reverential Curiosity, a blackout poem

Commentary on the poem is written below…

Curiosity is a good thing, and one that drives us to learn, invent, and discover new things. What do the curious find? Discovering that great Power that created the bright stars, endless sky, illumined moon, and blazing sun is the ultimate find; for God says when you search for Him, you will find a powerful Creator-God. “The heavens declare the glories of God.” If only we would do better at listening…

Cost of Influence, a blackout poem

See commentary below

I remember wishing that I wouldn’t be picked to lead a team, group project, or committee simply because I didn’t want to pay the price for leadership and influence. As this poem implies, sometimes we want to refuse the honor of influence and let someone else lead. Unfortunately, we have done that too many times, and now there is a vacuum of influence that is being filled by people and forces that I don’t want influencing those I love. This poem doesn’t delve into the cost of choosing NOT to influence. It’s a high price. So, when offered the chance to influence, my friends, may we take up the honor, face the hardship and criticism, and lead our followers toward righteousness and integrity, toward truth and faithfulness, toward love and unity, and toward growth and maturity. Will we face aggression, injury, and wrong? Yes, the criticism will come. Leaders suffer. May we never leave a vacuum of influence for the world to fill because we decided influence was too difficult and too costly for us to possess. Vacuums get filled. We can’t afford to falter in our calling or give away what was ours to do.

Instruments Working, a blackout poem

See commentary below

I wish every person (instrument) in a boy’s life would be positive tools for molding him into a man. Notice that the list doesn’t include a rough and tough, muscle-building, self-made instrument. The best men are those who humbly know life is not about them. Eventually, boys become men who, in turn, become instruments to the next generation.

The Mercy of Cold and Rain, a blackout poem

See commentary below

None of us like trials—the rain and cold of life. None of us want to lose the things we hold dear. Sometimes a trial leaves us with nothing. We lose it all, or we walk away from it all. In those moments of loss, we are drenched in grief and smothered in the dirt of discouragement. But then God comes, and He renews us through His power. He comforts our souls. He begins to take the emptiness and fill it with His decorations. He turns darkness to brightness. He takes our pieces and makes them perfect. He sets our table and prepares us with His goodness. He clothes us with truth. Only God can transform the trajectory of tragedy into our gain for His glory.

The Family Man, a blackout poem

See commentary about the poem below…

This ode to fathers describes the real superheroes of a successful generation. We need men who become dads to step up to be family men. Men who protect their own. Men who see the mundane matters. Men who are humble leaders. Men with integrity. Men who know how to work. We need Proverbs 31 men, too! The faithful family man—after years of doing this heroic, show-up-everyday-kind-of work—will feel  vulnerable and exposed; but a faithful family man who lives a full life, dies a whole man.