Haiku Images

I thought you might appreciate reading through the Haiku Cluster that the judges thought were worthy of first place winner in the competition. All of the haiku spring from the Scriptures related as listed.

Appropriate for the Easter season is “To say ‘I love you’ God sent a cross.” The truth that we are co-heirs with the eternal Godhead is incomprehensible, but the Scriptures certainly remind us how rich we are in Christ.

If a haiku or two moves you and you would like to share your thoughts, I would love to meditate on them with you.
A HAIKU CLUSTER
I bequeath to you,                                                                   Romans 8:17a
every sunrise I’ve painted,
all originals. -God

Adam, while you slept,                                                           Genesis 2:21-22
God slipped Eve into your bed,
then he left, smiling.

To say “I love you,”                                                                  John 19:17-18
we send flowers or a card,
but God sent a cross.

Five little fingers                                                                       Luke 2:7
squeeze young Mary’s nose and face
as God lies on straw.

Often mothers ’ prayers                                                         I Samuel 1:27
mend the broken jars of clay
they molded from birth.

Silent, by a grave,                                                                   II Corinthians 1:4
arm around a friend, healing
a hole in the heart.

Before life’s bookends                                                         Amos 4:12b
squeeze away your last-held breath,
prepare for closure.

A Conference to Remember Part 2

Here’s the followup to last week’s conference message.

The Keynote Address for the FCW Conference was given by Brian Bird, a 30-year veteran of the Hollywood film and televison business. Brian’s writing and producing work comprises nearly 250 episodes of network television, including Touched by an Angel, and his own original series currently airing on the Hallmark Channel, When Calls the Heart. Through him, the Lord challenged me to keep writing to keep his truth alive and to inspire others to write to praise him.

Torry Martin, an award-winning actor, screenwriter, and comedian, has written feature length scripts. He taught a continuing class, “Writing Screenplays for Everything, but the Big Screen.” He is an enthusiastic, humorous, very creative catalyst. We had great fellowship and in our conversations, I was humbled when he asked me to collaborate with him on a coming project.

Three publishers expressed an interest in my Biblical studies on Prayers of the Bible and my devotionals.

The conference climaxed with the Awards Banquet Dinner and I was humbled again when I received second-place winner in non-fiction for my Memoir, Naked With Clothes On, and completely overwhelmed with first-place winner in poetry for my Haiku Cluster.

I came away from the conference inspired, encouraged, challenged, and full of new ideas and directions. I am thankful for God’s confirmation that he wants me to continue writing my devotional blog Guarded Hearts and devotional articles for Christian Broadcasting Network.

There are other conferences that we as Christians have attended and been blessed and encouraged by. How about sharing your challenging and encouraging ones with me?

Remember, the new name for my blog is GUARDED HEARTS.

A Conference to Remember

Last week my wife and I had the privilege of attending the Florida Christian Writers Conference at Lake Yale in central Florida. What an exciting adventure from the moment we registered on Wednesday afternoon and picked up our room key until we left on Sunday afternoon after lunch.

The time was filled with speakers, appointments with publishers and critique personnel, continuing classes and workshops. I learned so much from them as I had opportunities to talk about my writing – haiku, memoir, devotionals, and Bible studies for small groups. Outstanding!

But the most rewarding experience was spending time with Christian people who have the same love for our Lord and want to share it through their love of writing.

Marti Pieper, chaplain for the conference, critiqued my memoir, Naked with Clothes On. Diane Matthews critiqued my devotionals and also taught 3 days of 2-hour classes honing our skills in devotional writing.

More about it next week. In the meantime, I would love to hear from you if you have ever attended a Christian Writers Conference, or any other Christian Conference. It’s a time of getting to know fellow believers who are also on life’s spiritual journey. What a time we are having on this earth, and we only see through a glass darkly until we are eternally with the Lord.

I am asking the Lord to help me improve my writing skills so that they can “Spur one another to love and good works” (Heb 10:24).

NOTE THE NAME CHANGE: The blog name has been changed from Umbilical to Guardedhearts.

Ridiculed

I remember Patty, in my seventh grade, who wore braces on both legs. Always pleasant and never grumbled or complained about her handicap, she struggled from class to class and her laborious effort to maneuver her crutches echoed on the oak floors. When I heard her, I held the heavy oak door open for her.

Generally, Patty was ignored but sometimes she was ridiculed. One time the boys hid her crutches. When the dismissal bell rang, she reached under her chair, feeling around for her crutches, and almost fell. The hot water radiators had ledges above them and someone had laid the crutches there. I got them for her.

As I stepped into the hall, a student grabbed my arm and laughed in my ear,“Maybe she’d go to the basketball game tonight with ya. You wouldn’t have to hold her hand.”

As he took off, I grabbed him by the shoulder, and asked, “Suppose she was your sister? Would you want her treated that way?

He walked away, but I stood there, as she labored to leave the building, my mind asking, God, why are we humans so cruel to one another? Then I burst through the heavy oak doors myself, pleased that I had confronted him. I passed her scooting down the three concrete steps, dragging her crutches. I ran to the bus and didn’t look back, wiping my eyes on my shirt sleeve.

An Old Testament prophet Jeremiah was derided all the time for preaching the unpopular Word from God and so he complained, “God, I am ridiculed all day long, everyone insults me all day” Jeremiah 20:7b. “I became the laughingstock of all people; they mock me in song all day long” Lamentations 3:14.

Why do we ridicule the handicapped, oppressed, and less fortunate? Psychologists tell us that it is to get pleasure from the misfortune of others, to fit in with the group so we’re not different, and to make ourselves important by putting others down. Human nature wants others to conform and to think and act as they do, an admirable trait if the conformity is positive and Godly.

Here are a few Scriptural burs under our saddles to help us find out where we are in our attitudes toward those who are belitted.“He who despises his neighbor sins” Proverbs 14:21a. Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her” Genesis 16: 6b. “They oppress the poor, the needy, and mistreat the aliens” Ezekiel 22:29. “Remember those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” Hebrews 13:3. This remembrance ought to motivate us to remove a few of the burs.

“Eternal compassionate Lord, give me eyes to see and feel as the less fortunate. Forgive my insensitivity when I ignore helping others and tenderize me with your compassionate heart so I feel like Jesus who healed the crippled, made blind eyes to see, cast out tormenting demons, fed multitudes, calmed storms, and raised the dead. Show me that same Power as I interact with those different from me, particularly the mistreated. Please keep the truth of Hebrews 13:3 alive in me, deep down in my heart and mind. Then and only then will I learn to reach out to those who are ridiculed and mistreated. Amen.”
——————–
Excerpted from my memoir Naked With Clothes On soon to be published

The Enduring Saint

13871101_sI often ask, what prepared Job for Satan’s permitted attacks on him. Answering that question can help us to be ready for those inevitable attacks on our souls.

What do we as modern Christians consider worthwhile? First, we value our position in a company or organization as very important. We also defend our reputation or influence as worth protecting at all cost. Third, we hold relationships of spouse and family worth fighting for. And things we treasure consume our thinking, determine what’s important to us, and shape our lifestyle.

What is applicable to us was equally applicable to our suffering patriarch and what mattered the most to Job can give us some insights.“I have kept to his way without turning aside,” Is that my resolve? “I have not departed from the commands of his lips.” Do I know them well enough not to ignore any one of his commands? and “I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.” I’m sorry to admit, I’m not there yet. So to review, he considered three things more necessary than his daily food. First, his knowledge of God’s words, second, his commitment to God’s Word, and third, his value of God’s words.

I hear Job’s words, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” Job 13:15. And that’s a dogmatic commitment! When the words of God took up permanent residence in Job’s will, Satan could not get him to curse God or blame God for the lack of understanding of his suffering.

As we align our values up with Job, rather than with our culture, any intruding destructive words from advisers or from Satan will lose their grip because that same affirmation,“Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him,” delivers us.

When our hearts and minds are filled with God’s words, we will identify with Job, and then each of us will be privileged to be called “an enduring Saint.”

God’s Grip

Elena and Dan holding hands0001My 7-year-old great granddaughter burst into my study, grabbed my hand, and asked, “Papa, “What’s your favorite chapter in the Bible? ”

“John 10 about Jesus being the Good Shepherd.”

“I know that one,” she said. I reached my arm around her waist and drew her to me.

“And Papa, what’s your favorite verse?”

“That I may know Christ and the power of his resurrection.”

She hesitated, then answered thoughtfully,“I don’t think I know that one.”

As I took her hand and placed her other hand into it, I said, “Another favorite is John 10, verse 28.” I folded her little fingers around her hand, and continued, “ ‘No one can grab your hand out of my grip,’ Jesus said.”

“Really, they can’t?”

I took those two little cupped hands into my hand. “Nope, no one.”

Her eyes twinkled as she looked up at me. “I do remember hearing that verse.”

“You’re so smart. Do you also remember when you were two years old and your grandfather held your hand to lead you to the party?

“No,” she replied. “But when Pappy takes my hand in his big hand, I feel safe and happy.”

I looked into those big eyes and thought, Oh, to be like that child!

“Wouldn’t it warm our Heavenly Father’s heart, as He grips our hand to make us feel secure, if we gripped His hand back?”

Next time someone holds your hand, let it remind you of the comfort, security and joy when Creator Father, gripping our human hand, leads us where we need to go.

Singing Each Day

music makersMy wife shared this morning that her 90-year-old brother has a list of 593 songs he has sung over the years. And he has a second list of 23 he sings every day.

When I heard about all those songs, the Holy Spirit flooded my mind with Scriptures about singing, especially these three.

“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God” (Psalm 40:3). When others heard David singing praises, it caused them to “put their trust in God.”

What a motivation to sing!

In corporate worship, “Speaking to one another in a variety of Christian songs” (Eph 5:19, Leon’s paraphrase) to encourage and comfort others. Recently, our Bible study group visited a hospice center to sing for an elder in our church to encourage him and comfort his family. Although he could not verbally respond while we sang songs like “10,000 Reasons,” his wife assured us that he understood.

What a motivation to sing!

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God” (Acts 16:25). As they sang in their pain from the cruel flogging and having their feet in stocks in the dark dungeon, their songs became a powerful vocal witness to “the other prisoners listening to them.”

What a motivation to sing!

I thank God for my wife’s sharing about her brother’s catalog of songs. It motivated me to sing songs during the day, like “You are My King,” “Jesus, Son of God,” and “In Christ Alone.”

Wanna join me in singing your favorite songs throughout the day?

——————-

The first three to identify the guy wearing the bow tie in the picture, a free Starbuck’s latte is yours!

 

God Gets Jealous?

2-01God gets jealous?

My daughter took piano lessons from a Boston Conservatory teacher. Her friend Sarah studied with the same teacher. She complained that their teacher gave all the good solos to my daughter and gave less challenging ones to her. Sarah was jealous of my daughter’s talent. This is how human nature is wired and often reacts. We can’t stand anyone outperforming us.

So we get jealous.

God gets jealous, too.

But for a different reason.

God’s all-consuming jealousy will not tolerate a rival god stealing us away from the true worship of Him. “Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is jealous, is a jealous God.” Exodus 34:14

When we’re jealous of other people’s accomplishments, talent, fame, or fortune, we slap God in the face and grieve him, for we question his decisions and don’t understand his all-consuming jealousy for us. His jealous heart yearns to keep us as jealous for him as he is for us so that no other god can ever steal away our jealousy for Him!

God’s Pleasure Places

Swing your arms  through clouds. 

     Run with the wind.  Discover

          God’s pleasure places.         dlp

 

We all know what we find pleasure in, but what does God find pleasure in?  Consider these pleasure places to visit. 

*God finds pleasure in a righteous lifestyle. “If the Lord delights in our behavior, he manages that lifestyle for us.” Ps 37:23

*God takes pleasure in his family. “The Lord delights in his sons and daughters.” Ps 149:4

*God smiles with pleasure in our worship in his house. “Build my house that I may take pleasure in it.” Hag 1:8

*God hears with pleasure our requests in prayer. “The Lord was pleased that Solomon asked for a wise and discerning heart.” I Kings 3:9,10

*God takes pleasure in his eternal attributes lived out on earth. “I am the Lord who exercises kindness, justice, and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight.” Jer 9:24

Now that we have discovered God’s pleasure places, let’s discover together how to experience them with Him during this Christmas season.

Consider sharing with me via email God’s pleasure places you’ve discovered. My link is leonpippin@gmail.com