The above video has beautiful lyrics to celebrate Our Messiah. I pray it blesses you to listen to the group “Lamb” and their excellent worship music.
You can see by the copyright date that I wrote the below poem many years ago. It came about just as I was learning about the Hebrew/Jewish roots of the Christian faith in which I was raised. Learning the Hebrew roots of my faith changed my walk with God more than I can put into words. It made the “Old Testament” come to life for me, and it explained so many of the words of Jesus I had grown up with. Through studying, especially in using The Complete Jewish Bible, I learned that Jesus/Yahshua actually quoted many Old Covenant words as He ministered. I recommend the above study Bible, which also comes with some great notes and appendices. I enjoy it in print and on my Kindle.
I have shared my testimony in previous posts, so I thought it was a good night to share the poem that came from my new understanding of The One who was both The Jewish Messiah and the Christian Messiah I had grown up with.
YAH-SHUA THE JEW
© 1999 By Crystal A. Murray
If Yahshua had come teaching
All the things we teach these days;
If He came not as a Rabbi,
But taught modern “Christian” ways;
If He said, “Stop being Jewish
For their laws & feasts are old;
Just form a church on Sundays
And give the pastor all your gold.”
If He taught multi-religions,
And many-faceted beliefs & ways
Religious & sin tolerance:
No judgment, no prices to pay;
If He taught that love means acceptance
No matter what other people do,
Would ANYone have believed in Him
As Messiah, King of the Jews?
See, it’s not the miracles He did,
Or the hungry that He fed.
Or His interpretation of the Scriptures,
Or any fancy words He said,
It’s the old, anointed, prophecies,
The promises of a virgin-born Son,
That proved He was THE Messiah,
Lion of Judah, and The Holy One.
‘Cause He could not have grafted anyone;
Into a vine of Love, pure and true,
If He, Himself, was not The Vine,
The Lamb, Son of Yahveh, and a JEW!
Poetry, Haiku Style: A Simple Way to Paint Pictures with Words
I use a diary app on my phone (Journey–Diary Journal) to write a haiku about my day as the last thing I do each night. I title each entry, Haiku My Day, and I enjoy this daily challenge. When I was in school, I hated it (like so many others) but now it’s one of my favorite forms of verse because of the simple format and forced focus. When I first taught it to my writer’s group, they groaned like I was one of the elementary teachers they remembered forcing this non-rhyming poetry on them as children–until the class was over. Then, they understood the following list of things writers can learn from creating haiku.
As a result of writing haiku…
- You will be more apt to notice, or be aware of, the present moment, (something important for every writer);
- You will realize the POET-ential (potential) of each moment for settings to be used in stories and articles.
- You can recapture some of the keen and vivid perception you had when you were young and everything was new and wonderful and worthy of further investigation, or at least of telling the world around you about. (Which is why we become writers in the first place, right?)
- You will have a heightened and deepened appreciation of life & nature, and how to paint them with word pictures.
Let’s begin with an answer to the question: What is haiku?
Haiku are Japanese in origin but have made their mark in American poetry where they traditionally consist of seventeen syllables, written in three lines that are usually divided into 5, 7 and 5 syllables, respectively. In Japanese haiku, there is always a nature theme. To express this, each haiku will use what is called a kigo (season word) to indicate the season in which the Haiku is taking place. For example, flowers & butterflies can indicate spring; snow & ice, winter; mosquitoes & lightning bugs, summer; and multicolored leaves, autumn. But in writing Americanized haiku, no topic is off limits.
Matsuo Basho, (1644-1694), considered the greatest master of this form of poetry, said the poet should write directly from his own experience and should try to seek the deeper, inner life of the subject or moment’s activity. He stated, “Learn of the pine from the pine: learn of the bamboo from the bamboo.” It is important to use your first impression, exactly as it was when you write about subjects taken from daily life.
Here’s a haiku I wrote the day I created the first lesson. For my examples, I’ll put the syllables in parentheses after each line. See if you can determine where I was while preparing.
…Quiet all around, (5)
…Just a whisper here and there; (7)
…People reading books. (5)
You likely figured out I was in a library. Now, here’s a set of haiku (called a renga) I wrote for the four seasons. See if you can figure out which season is represented by each.
…A cup of cocoa, (5)
…Flames blaze in a fireplace; (7)
…I am warmed inside. (5)
…New blossoms on trees, (5)
…Pink, white, purple, and yellow; (7)
…Generate new life. (5)
…The sidewalk is hot, (5)
…I do not have shoes to bear it; (7)
…I walk on the grass. (5)
…Feeding time is done, (5)
…The green has left the trees; (7)
…Look at the colors. (5)
I have plenty more, but now it’s your turn. Here are some suggested haiku exercises.
- Look around you right now and write one or more haiku about something you see. Think of it like playing twenty questions and answer some of the base questions. Then, see if someone else can figure out what you’ve written about.
- Write your own set of four three-line verses describing the four seasons.
- Think of two things that are opposites of each other: trust and fear; peace and war; rich and poor; tall and short; loud and quiet; hard and soft, etc. Now write a haiku that shows their differences. Try to get it into one three-line verse. Choose new opposites to write more verses. Here’s an example of an opposite haiku…
…Heat waves in the air, (5)
…Icicles aim for the ground; (7)
…Opposite seasons. (5)
- Think of two things that are like each other or that complement each other: faith and trust; peace and quiet; rage and violence; water and liquid; silk and satin; music and lyrics; etc. Write a haiku to draw attention to their similarities.
- Write about the most beautiful thing you can ever remember seeing. Make it visual enough for others to clearly see the same thing in their minds. If you’re tossed, don’t worry. Just write more than one haiku.
Try this form of writing to bring focus to a character or subject you may be struggling with. If you write a haiku you are willing to share, please comment on this post and let others see it. I’m excited to see what my readers might share.
For another post on my favorite Christmas songs, I’m including the lyric video from the Burl Ives’ version of I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. This version has a slightly different tune than what we find in many songbooks and by many singers, but it’s the one most familiar to me. I grew up playing the Burl Ives vinyl album called Holly Jolly Christmas for years. If you want to hear other tunes, including a newer one by the Christian group “Casting Crowns,” click the title to view the Wikipedia article.
In reading the history of this song, I’ve found that this poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was written after a number of life tragedies. History has it written in either 1867, or in 1863 in the midst of the American Civil War. Whether during or after the war, this poem was likely written when, in addition to personal tragedy that included a war-injured son and recently deceased wife, the writer’s heart was close to breaking.
Put yourself into the life of Mr. Longfellow. Imagine getting up in the morning, struggling to find any hope in your day or in your life. Your home and family no longer feel like the safe places of comfort they once were. Then, just when it seems nothing else can go wrong, war in your own homeland takes away your last place of security and stability. You stand on your front porch wondering what it’s all about when the church bells start ringing just as they did when life was safe and war was not raging. Here’s verse 1…
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet, the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
The poet laments how the song goes on when it seems life should not. The Christmas season and its accompanying song are unbroken, the exact opposite of the author’s heart. He writes about this in verse 2…
I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
It was more than the author could take. His pain brought him to one of his lowest points in life. He writes of this low point in verse 3…
And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”
The air is thick with his hopelessness. Can you feel it? Have you been there in your own life? He sees no possibility of peace on earth or any good will to men as things stand now. Whatever else he was thinking and doing here, I imagine he was also praying. It is only in heartfelt prayer that a man could hear a voice of hope reminding him that God is still on the throne. Here’s my favorite verse, verse 4…
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.”
God is not dead! He is not even nodding off for a nap, and He doesn’t need an alarm clock of war or tragedy to wake Him. He is and always has been (and always will be) on His throne. His desire is peace on earth and good will to all men. For that desire to come to pass, God knew there had to be a covering for the sins man commits while misusing his free will.
The best use of our free will is to choose God, and that’s God’s hope for all mankind. Unfortunately, we lean too often on our own understanding instead of on His will, His ways, and His everlasting arms, so we need the blood of Yeshua to rescue and deliver us. That salvation through Christ is the best reason of all to celebrate His miraculous birth. God is still on His throne, wide awake and preparing a hopeful future for those who love Him. The wrong shall fail! The right shall prevail! And, one day, we will have true peace on earth and good will to men.
Walk a mile in my shoes, Lord, Then walk another mile or two. Order my steps and show me the way To do what You’d have me to do. Lead me and guide me, walkin’ right here beside me, So I can be more like You. Walk a mile in my shoes, Lord, Then keep walkin’ my whole life through.
Those are the lyrics to a chorus I wrote once while having a conversation with God about His understanding of my life’s trials. They began with the words, “Put yourself in my shoes, Lord,” but I plan to move those words to the verse when I fully develop the song.
I think most of us wonder whether anyone else understands some of what we go through. And even those of us who love God with all our hearts may sometimes wonder if He truly understands. I think poems like the popular Footprints in the Sand come for those kinds of wonderings. And, since there is nothing new under the sun, I would guess people have been turning to God with that question for many centuries.
We can know that God does understand by the fact that He did, in fact, walk miles in human shoes. John 1:1-18 begins and ends with statements that declare Yeshua as both with God and God; both Unique Son and God Himself. Yeshua told His disciples that if they had seen Him, they had also seen The Father. And the verse that convinced me that God was not a child abuser but did love me enough to lay down His own life for me–the greatest love of all, is in John 10:30. Here, Yeshua declares, “I and my Father are one.”
Even with these truths, though, we may wonder if God could possibly understand what it’s like to live in our particular shoes. We look at His life and think maybe we could endure if we were Him. Sure, we could be homeless and sleep on a stone pillow, right? But thinking that was the only way He suffered before Calvary is like Bruce Almighty thinking he had too much to do with being responsible for the prayers of only three city blocks. We haven’t worn His shoes to know His times of rejection and sorrow, like when He looked over Jerusalem and wept for her past and her future. In Matthew 23:37 (NLT) we read…
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.”
How often, I wonder, has He been there to walk in our shoes, and we haven’t let Him. I speak this for myself as much as anyone. I need to be reminded sometimes that it’s not my job to sit on the throne, and I’m not in control of everything. Still, even as I let go and let God be God and fix things in His own way, I want to know that He understands. And when I slow down and read His word, I find encouragements like the following…
- This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15 NLT)
- Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. (1 Peter 5:7 NLT)
- “What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7 NLT)
With understanding that God does care about me personally, and trust that He will lead in the right direction, I can sing from my heart, “Walk a mile in my shoes, Lord, then keep walkin’ my whole life through.” I hope you can too.
P.S. Just for a little encouragement, here’s a video of the song Give Them All to Jesus…
It’s the end of a long but blessed day with interaction between a bunch of writers who love The Creator. That said, since I’m a bit tired tonight, I’m going to cheat a little and just throw in some previously written poetry. If you like poetry, this should make you happy. 🙂 If you don’t like poetry much, I hope you decide to at least explore my prose to see what you may see.
This first poem breaks away from anything I had ever tried before or since. It is called a Pantoum, and I learned it from a prompt at http://www.tweetspeakpoetry.com. (If you like to write poetry, I recommend following this page on Twitter to stay up with their many prompts.) To write this type of poem, read the detailed instructions by clicking the word, though I found a few different ideas for how they should be written by doing a Google search for the subject. In basic, you’ll notice some repeating lines from one stanza to the next (as required), and you’ll notice the last line of the poem is the same as the first. Here’s my effort…
ALOFT THE PETALS
A Pantoum by Crystal A Murray
July 9th, 2013
The rose lay aloft the petals
Strewn across a bed of fur.
She dug in deep to find the mettle
To dive right in and comfort her.
Strewn across the bed of fur,
A welcome invitation beckons
To dive right in and comfort her;
Should she or not her brain reckons.
A welcome invitation beckons,
Come hither to rest yourself just now.
Should she or not her brain reckons,
Would rest come swift or even allow?
Come hither to rest yourself just now,
Relax and close your weary eyes.
Would rest come swift or even allow,
To sleep and dream and touch the skies?
At last she lay upon the bed,
She dug in deep to find the mettle.
She rested there in colors of red,
The rose lay aloft the petals.
And, since we’re talking about roses, here is a video of one of my favorite songs by Linda Ronstadt, Love is a Rose…
This next poem is one of my first attempts at non-rhyming poetry. It’s called A Very Good Rose…
A VERY GOOD ROSE By Crystal A. Murray—(c) 1998 Each petal perfectly formed In the shape of a heart, With a feel of silk and velvet. What a creation is God’s beautiful flower… The rose. Its scent so pure and sweet, So smoothly it unfolds, Revealing at its heart The seed that makes it grow. No matter the color, No matter the size; Whether a bud or full bloom; No matter the differences in perfume, No matter the thorns that pierce the flesh, Still, everyone loves the rose. God must look upon this precious creation- This wonder of beauties. He must breathe in with its scent And sigh contentedly. “Such a great accomplishment.” “It is good!” He says, “And yet”, He says with another sigh, “This is not my best work. I know I can do better.” So, did He create a new rose? With no thorns? A stronger scent? Did He create a never-dying flower? No! In His greatest moment of creation God simply grabbed… A handful of dust And began to mold it. Suddenly, He caught a glimpse of Himself… A mirror image. He molded His new creation To resemble His own image. He breathed into it His own breath. And behold… God’s greatest creation of all time was born! “It is very good!” He said, and He rested.
And to bring this to an end, let me share one more video from YouTube. This one is the song What A Friend We Have in Jesus, but it is sung to the tune of The Rose as made popular by Bette Midler. Try singing it to this tune yourself. It works wonderfully, and it feels great to sing…
May God richly bless you with His abundant grace and mercy, and may you walk in His presence all your days until you walk into His presence for eternity.
I can share all kinds of stories and Bible words with you, but the thing that carries the most strength is what God means to me personally. The most established scholar cannot compete with the actual testimonies of my life with God. Of course, there must be balance in that my testimonies about God should be supported by His word to show that I am actually following Him and not just my own ideas. If I am following Him as my Shepherd, I will go where He goes and try to imitate what He does.
Today’s reading from Genesis 48:10 through Genesis 48:16 goes back to Jacob/Israel on his death bed as he prepares to bless the sons of Joseph. He was having trouble seeing, but Joseph brought his sons close enough to him that he could see and embrace them. He praised God for allowing him to not only see his son again but also to see his offspring.
Joseph guided his eldest, Manasseh, to Israel’s right hand and his youngest, Ephraim, to Israel’s left hand for their blessings. But Israel purposely crossed his arms and placed his right hand on Ephraim’s head and his left hand on Manasseh. He began his prayer for them with a beautiful statement that Yahveh Almighty had always been his own Shepherd.
I love the personalization in that. He not only proclaimed Yahveh as God of all the offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and himself, but by proclaiming Him as a shepherd, he declared himself to be a sheep that needed guidance. And, because he and his family were a family of shepherds, Jacob also connected to God in similarity of occupation. He knew God as both above him and with him in all things. As a matter of fact, there is a Scripture in Deuteronomy that I want to share now even though we will eventually get there in the studies. It’s from Deuteronomy 4:7, and in the Amplified Bible it says, “For what great nation is there who has a god so near to them as the Lord our God is to us in all things for which we call upon Him?”
There are many Scriptures that proclaim God as a shepherd, including the one on the above picture. The most famous, of course, is David’s Psalm 23. To personalize that Psalm, back in 2004, I wrote my own version of the psalm as attributed to myself as a writer. I’ll close this with that parody.
THE LORD IS MY EDITOR, I SHALL REWRITE By Crystal A Murray The Lord is My Editor, I shall rewrite. He lays me down in green pastures – Of fresh ideas. He leads me by the quiet torrents – Of conflict and resolution. He develops my characters and subjects. He leads me from beginnings to middles… – And from middles to endings… – For the plot’s sake. Yea, though my protagonist walks Through pages of shadows of death, – He fears not the antagonist, – For a good ending is promised. God’s red pen and word-processor; – They correct me. God prepares new writers’ books before me, – In the presence of my Amazon “wish list”. He anoints my printer with ink, – My paper tray overflows. Surely, acceptance and paychecks – Shall be offered me, – For every story I write. And I shall dwell in my home office – As a freelancer… – All the days of my writing life.
Today begins Parashah (portion) number 11, and today’s reading is from Genesis 44:18 through Genesis 44:30. I will warn you, first, that the last verse is incomplete, so it’s kind of an odd reading, but if you click the link to read yourself, you can view the whole chapter and see where it goes from there.
Judah pulls Joseph aside and with all due respect, he asks to speak to him privately. He tells him he appreciates his position and that he knows he is as powerful as Pharaoh, but he has an important thing to say, so he becomes bold enough to approach. We read in Hebrews 4:16 that we ourselves can approach God’s throne of grace boldly and with confidence. Knowing that a king has power over life and death should make us approach with respect, which is why the fear of The Lord is the beginning of wisdom. And then the rest of wisdom is when we learn to follow that respect with the confidence to accept the grace and mercy of Christ to deliver us from sin and into eternal life.
Well, Judah may not have been seeking eternal life for himself, but he was seeking mercy and grace on behalf of his father. He explained to Joseph how his father had two sons that mattered greatly to him and how one was gone, and the father thought torn to pieces never to be seen again. And then he explained how the father said that if he lost Benjamin as well, it would send him old and gray to his death. The verse that does not finish says, in effect, that Jacob and Benjamin’s souls are knitted together.
The message I see in this, beyond the coming boldly I mention above, is that we can also come boldly to the throne room on behalf of others we do not want to die in their sins. Before reading this, I was thinking a lot today about the poem, The Touch of The Master’s Hand by Myra Brooks Welch. In case you have not heard of it, I’ll paste it below. It is one of the most meaningful pieces of writing I have ever read, and it brings me to tears each time I read or recite it. When you read it, you’ll understand why going boldly to God’s throne on behalf of another would bring it to my mind. And you’ll also understand why I can sing with meaning the line from the song that says, “If you had known me, before I knew Him, you’d understand why I love Him.”
The Touch of the Masters Hand by Myra Brooks Welch (1921)
Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
thought it scarcely worth his while
to waste much time on the old violin,
but he held it up with a smile.
“What am I bidden, good folks,” he cried,
“Who’ll start the bidding for me?
A dollar, a dollar; then two! Only two?
Two dollars, and who’ll make it three?
Three dollars, once; three dollars twice;
going for three…” But no,
from the room, far back, a gray-haired man
came forward and picked up the bow;
Then wiping the dust from the old violin,
and tightening the loose strings,
he played a melody pure and sweet
as a caroling angel sings.
The music ceased, and the auctioneer,
with a voice that was quiet and low,
said; “Now what am I bid for the old violin?”
And he held it up with the bow.
“A thousand dollars, and who’ll make it two?
Two thousand! And who’ll make it three?
Three thousand, once; three thousand, twice;
and going and gone,” said he.
The people cheered, but some of them cried,
“We do not quite understand,
what changed its worth?” Swift came the reply:
“Twas the touch of a master’s hand.”
And many a man with life out of tune,
and battered and scarred with sin,
is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd,
much like the old violin.
A mess of pottage, a glass of wine,
a game – and he travels on.
He’s going once, and going twice,
He’s going and almost gone.
But The Master comes, and the foolish crowd
never can quite understand
the worth of a soul and the change that is wrought
by the touch of The Master’s hand.
The content of this poem I wrote many years ago says a lot about everything I’ve written to this point, especially about the covenant made by God in the post for October 17th. I felt this was an appropriate time to share it.
I FOLLOW HIM
By Crystal A Murray – (C)2005
I follow Him…
…Around the corridors of Heaven, where beings created for worshipping Him fall at His feet. He sighs, and I hear Him say, “How I long for a friend with whom I can commune, and who will worship Me and desire to commune with me–because he loves Me.” A few heavy sighs later, I see His breath flowing into His new friend. He smiles and says, “It is very good.”
I follow Him…
…through a garden, where He walks and talks with man and woman. I see His despair on the day He can’t find them because a veil of sin now separates Him from His new creation. I watch as, in pain and desperation, He slays an animal to cover their nakedness and then uses the animal’s blood to temporarily pierce sin’s veil, so He may commune once more with His friends. I hear Him lament that all communication with mankind will now be strife for Him because of sin, but He loves them, and He will not give it up. He will never leave nor forsake them.
I follow Him…
…to His drawing board and see His plans for a temple in Heaven and its counterpart on earth. I also see plans for an ark; a covenant; splitting a sea; how blood sacrifice should work and why it doesn’t; and a way to bring Perfect Blood before the Heavenly altar and permanently destroy the veil of sin.
I follow Him…
…to Bethlehem on a star-lit night; to a carpenter’s shop; to a temple service; to a wedding in Cana and a pool in Bethesda.
I follow Him…
…now to another garden. In this one, called Gethsemane, His flesh and Spirit wrestle. I hear Him pray for my salvation–and yours. The flesh bleeds, but the Spirit prevails. I watch as His betrayer kisses Him … and then flees with Perfect Blood on his lips.
I follow Him…
…to the judgment hall and the whipping post.
I follow Him…
…to the death stake: where Perfect Blood stains the ground … the Centurion’s sword … and the hands of His killers. I see a tomb where His body lays still while His Spirit descends into Hell to take the keys of death and forever deliver His creation–His friends–from bondage. As He returns to His tomb, I watch as His Spirit awakens His body with the dawning of a 3rd-day’s sun.
I follow Him…
…as He comforts those who grieve at His tomb, makes Himself known to disciples walking a lonely road to Emmaus, and fills the nets of forlorn fishermen. I hear Him tell of a Comforter. Soon, I watch as He ascends in a cloud back to Heaven, where He goes to prepare a place for me–and for all who love Him. I see that, even today, He works in Heaven’s Holy Temple as our High Priest continuously offering His Perfect Blood to atone for our sins.*
I follow Him…
…because I love Him and desire to commune with Him. He makes a way because He loves me and desires to commune with me. And someday, with the sounds of a trumpet and a shout, He will split the skies and call His people to come home. And then…
…I will follow Him for eternity!
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