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.
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 imagine a majority of my readers are writers. I know that many are anyway since I post links to my posts in my writer’s group. For you writers who include poetry among your styles and genres, I’m sure you remember when you first began to gather your poetry into some type of compilation. You may have even started it like a journal with subject matter based on the events of the day. I began my foray into poetry as cathartic exercise in a class of young girls who were invited to use poetry to deal with some issues in teen life. The active writing of poetry made me fall in love with it.
In today’s reading from Deuteronomy 32:1 through Deuteronomy 32:6, we begin a new week and a new portion. In this one, Parashah 53 called Ha’azinu in Hebrew and “Hear” in English, Moses begins writing the song that God has asked him to write as a testimony against the rebellion of Israel. Since we don’t have music, we can see the lyrics as poetry. And, while I may not post all of them each day, I do want to post the beginning so you can see the flow. So, here are the first three lines of The Song of Moses from The Complete Jewish Bible…
Hear, oh heavens, as I speak!
Listen, earth, to the words from my mouth!
May my teaching fall like rain.
May my speech condense like dew,
like light rain on blades of grass,
or showers on growing plants.
For I will proclaim the name of Adonai.
Come, declare the greatness of our God!
The Rock! His work is perfect,
for all his ways are just.
A trustworthy God who does no wrong,
he is righteous and straight.
He is not corrupt; the defect is in his children,
a crooked and perverted generation.
You foolish people, so lacking in wisdom,
is this how you repay Adonai?
He is your father, who made you his!
It was he who formed and prepared you!
I love how Moses starts this with the poetic blessing on his words; asking that they would fall to the earth like rain, dew, and showers. Then, as soon as he sets up how he wants others to hear his words, he begins to lift up The Lord with wonderful poetic description. He proclaims His name, declares His greatness, and calls Him “The Rock.” Just in that statement, he shows what his own heart is toward his Creator. And then he goes on to say God is perfect, just, trustworthy, and that He can do no wrong.
It’s all so flowing and beautiful, and then we get to the third stanza. There’s a twist in the first line: “God is not corrupt; the defect is in His children.” Boom! The truth that underpins all our lives on this earth. God is perfect and we are not. God is God and we are not. And then Moses asks the question we should all ask ourselves when dealing with our failures: Is this the way to pay back the God who loves you? The God who is a Father that made you His own?
If we can come to the reality that God deserves more than our present behaviors, we can come to a place of repentance, and that’s when life changes for the better. That works from the first time we repent to every time we fall to our knees in repentance before God after that. Remember this…God is more interested in our repentance than in our perfection!
If you battle with your imperfect and defective form, first, remember that God knows your form, and that’s why He paid the price in the blood of Yeshua. Next, humble yourself before God to confess and forsake those defects and imperfections with your whole heart and with the best of your ability. Then, trust God to take them as you rise to walk in the newness of life. Read the praises recorded in the Torah and other places in God’s holy word, and repeat them from your own mouth as you read and learn them. If it helps, consider writing your own thoughts (and maybe poetry) to God to lift Him up in your own words and to chronicle your experiences as a testimony to others with similar events in their own lives. May God bless your words as you write for Him.
Whether it’s song lyrics, simple rhymes, or silly parodies, I have always liked to write poetry. I learned when I taught a lesson during National Poetry Month (April of each year) that I can put out some rhythm and rhyme without even taking much thought, so it must be one of those natural gifts. I struggle a little more when I play with my refrigerator magnets because I want all the articles and proper verb tenses and such, but sometimes, the struggle to work with only what’s available stirs my creativity in a different way. If you like playing with words, be sure to click on the image above to visit the online site for Magnetic Poetry(TM) where you can build and share some of your own creations.
In today’s reading from Deuteronomy 10:1 through Deuteronomy 10:11, we’ll read as Moses gives details on the story of God giving him the covenant on stone tablets. Yesterday, it mentioned the entire covenant, so I thought it might be more than what we call The Ten Commandments, but today it lists what Moses receives as “The Ten Words,” so I guess maybe that is all that was on them.
Moses begins with God giving him the command to cut two stone tablets like the first ones he broke. Then God tells him to build an ark (basically, a box) out of acacia wood before he comes up on the mountain. Timeline wise, I tried to determine if this is the same ark that will be stored in The Holy of Holies and covered with gold, and since it’s called The Ark of the Covenant, I guess it’s the same one. I just never realized that it was Moses who built it originally. Anyway, Moses obeys and after God inscribes the new tablets, Moses brings them back down the mountain and puts them in the ark. He tells the people that they remain there to the day he speaks with them.
Moses then tells the people of Israel’s travels. He shares the journey to where Aaron died and was buried, and he tells of Aaron’s son, Eleazar, taking over as high priest. He talks of traveling to a place filled with streams called “Gudgod” which other translations list as “Gudgodah.” To me, it sounds like the words could mean “Good God,” and maybe were a place where the people named it in honor of God’s goodness to them. He does share that this is the place where God assigns the Levites to carry the ark for the covenant and to stand before God to serve Him and bless Him. He tells them that The Lord is Levi’s inheritance, and that’s why he has no possession among his brothers.
As he speaks to Israel, Moses reminds them of God’s desire to destroy the people for their rebellion, but he tells them of how God listened to him as before and agreed to spare them. And then God tells Moses to go back down the mountain, so he can lead the people to the land He promised to their ancestors.
I love the part in verse ten where Moses says The Lord listened to him. Sometimes, it’s hard to imagine with all God has to keep an eye on–and an ear out for, that He could actually find time to listen to each one of us, but He does. Of course, while God does hear us as we holler from the bottoms of some of the pits we get ourselves into, something tells me He is more attentive when we do like Moses and make our way up closer to Him. I notice that Moses listened to God before he spoke to Him, and I see Moses going into God’s presence with reverence and an obedient spirit.
See, we’re not just a box of words that God put on this earth to play with when He gets bored. We are a testimony written in such a way as to glorify God and lift Him up, so that all men can be drawn to Him. We may seem like a jumbled mess while we toss around trying to do things our own way, but I believe God has a plan to use every moment of our lives to bring glory and honor to Him. If we seek and search for Him with all our hearts, and if we humble ourselves before Him, He will rewrite the mess we’ve made. We have His promise in Romans 8:28 that ALL things work together for good, so we can trust that He will take our jumbled up days and moments and pull them together as a beautiful letter (hand-written and edited by God Himself) for all men to read and find His mercy, grace, and love.
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.
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