A prayer poem byJon Elvrum
These are times of great disarray
it might appear that God
has for a time, turned away.
Eli. Eli! Lama sabacthani!
There is death, and doubt,
there is arrogance and terror
there is confusion
there is lying
and disreputable behavior
It seems that God does not know what to do, or where we are.
God knows exactly where we are.
We are standing by a bloody Nile,
no longer a river, but a torn artery
hemorrhaging blood, not water,
Dead, stinking fish line the shore
Pharoah is unimpressed.
After all, he thinks that he is God,
What would impress him
was not a dead fish.
Pharoah is an arrogant man.
Dead fish are not enough.
A week passed and Moses returned to Pharoah
He restated the case:
Let my people go and
worship their Lord!
Pharoah was unpersuaded.
Frogs were the next plague.
Not annoying groups
of 10 or 15 frogs in a blockage
of a pathway, or a closet,
but millions of frogs, hopping along roadsides,
in rooms, covering all floors,
covering beds and chairs
and tables, rolling across bare feet,
lurking inside sandals,
A cacaphony of frog sounds
interfering with sleep and speech;
frogs crawling through food plates
"Let them go!" Pharoah said,
but as the Lord restored the land,
and sent all the frogs
back to the Nile,
Pharoah hardened his heart
and reversed his promise
to allow the Hebrews to go.
He was the Pharoah!
The truth was
whatever he said it was.
His truth was another's lie.
He was God, in his own eyes!
So, the Lord sent swarms of gnats, great swarms,
so that it felt like night, dark, black midnight,
impossible to see where one was going, stumbling and falling.
So thick were the swarms
that they clogged up the noses and stung the throats.
Animals gasping everywhere,
Pharoah's magicians failed
and were unable to do what the Lord had done.
They warned Pharoah, told him,
"God's finger is in this!"
Pharoah's heart grew hard,
and he ignored these false profits
just as the Lord said he would.
And so, the next day, the Lord
sent flies...by the millions,
maybe billions of buzzing flies,
stinging flies, unrelenting flies.
The Lord spared his people
by protecting the area of Goshen
making it safe from all the flies,
Goshen was where Hebrews
had dwelled since the days of Joseph.
In time Pharoah chose to lie
again, he said the people
could go and worship their God.
Moses went before the Lord to
pray that the plague would end, and the Lord ended it so that
not one fly remained. But Pharoah had lied again!
Pharoah hardened his heart and refused to let them leave.
The fifth plague came very soon.
Pharoah remained stubborn and hard-hearted. The Lord sent a plague
against the farm animals, at the same time placing a protection,
a covering over all the animals of the Hebrews,
and so, their flocks and herds were safe.
Pharoah learned that while all the Egyptian animals were destroyed,
not a single Hebrew animal was lost.
In spite of this, Pharoah's heart remained hardened
and he continued to deny the Hebrews permission
to go and worship in desert.
Proud, and arrogant, cruel, evil, this man
who thought of himself as God,
as a holy man, is revealed as powerless and inept.
He did not relent even in the face of more plagues.
He was a very stubborn man.
The sixth plague was delivered. Moses and Aaron were instructed to take
handfuls of soot into Pharoah's presence.
They were to fling the soot
into the air, and where the fine black powder touched skin,
fierce and festering boils appeared on the necks and faces
and other exposed skin, developing painful boils.
The Pharoah's magicians could not avoid the boils
and they were left powerless in Pharoah's service.
The seventh plague came upon Pharoah's people, attended by
a stark promise to Pharoah from the Lord, Jehovah God.
the Lordtold Pharoah that now, he would be dealing with Pharoah
and his officials directly. Future plagues
remain to come, they are fully the result of Pharoah's intransigence,
his stubborn unwillingness to recognize and accept
the power of the Lord God, Jehovah God,
and the Lord sees that Pharoah continues
to exalt himself against the Lord's people,.
This time the Lord is very specific.
Tomorrow at this hour I will cause the heaviest hail
that has ever fallen on Egypt from the day it was founded until now. [Exodus 9:18]
The Lord counsels Egyptians further: if you blieve me,
take your animals, your families, your servants,
and take them to a secure place out of the elements,
and they will be saved because you have believed me.
And then Lord instructed Moses, and everything in Egypt
that had been left uncovered was destroyed.
Animal and human suffered alike, no property in Egypt was unaffected.
Only in Goshen, where Hebrews dwelled
was there no damage.
Pharoah did what he usually does. He lies.
He confesses to Moses that God is right,
and pharoah and his people have sinned against the Lord.
Moses accepts his false answer
and signals to the Lord, Pharoah's reply.
As soon as the hail and winds and rain cease,
Pharoah turns his back on his promise and once again
hardens his heart,
refusing to release the Hebrews.
We see, when a man plays God
even for a little while he loses
more of himself, every day.
Eventually he becomes completely lost,
irredeemable outside of the full power of almighty God.
The eighth plague is a terrible plague to consider,
especially in an enhanced, advanced agricultural society,
which Egypt clearly was. The eighth plague was locusts.
It is difficult to explain to modern readers about locust
They have been mostly contained by pesticide use in these days, so it is difficult to imagine
mile long, mile wide living carpets of voracious grasshopper-looking creatures,
literally eating every single scrap of grass or grain lying in a field, every tree in their path is
food to them. Nothing will remain.
Nothing of value remains. Where this path is taken, only devastation remains.
This is the eighth plague.
Men are not Gods.
Nor ever will be.
God, our God, knows all
that can be known
and all that is beyond us.
Pharoah, when he had seen the devastation wrought by locusts,
reached out to Moses and Aaron, beseeching them, praying for his forgiveness,
and once again promising that the people
will be allowed to go out into the desert to worship.
At Moses prayer, the Lord created a strong west wind
and blew all the locusts out,
out into the Red Sea,
where they perished, every one,
The ninth plague was darkness.. Not just darkness, but darkness you could feel ...
cold and oppresive, dense thick darkness, like pea soup, or marine fog.
In this darkness, for three long days, no one could see one another.
This is the darkness that attends depression...humorless, daunting, terrifying,
seemingly unending and from which there is no apparent way out.
It seems that this time Pharoah is going to let them go.
But Pharoah presses them to leave their livestock behind,
and Moses holds out for all the people and all their belongings
to be allowed to leave at the same time. The Lord hardens Pharaohs heart again,
and once more he refuses to let them go.
In a final cry Pharoah swears to Moses that if Moses should ever see Pharoah's face again,
on that day Moses will die. And Moses says to Pharoah,
"As you wish. I will never see your face again".
And so, the first passover is set to take place. The Lord tells Moses and Aaron
that Pharoah will not speak with them again,
but the Lord says the leaders of if Egypt will come
and ask the Hebrews to leave at once.
The tenth plague
will claim the first born in every house.
The Hebrews are instructed to visit all the Egyptians with whom they have found favor
and ask for some token of gold or silver for them to take when they leave.
Many are friendly with Egyptians, and have maintained good relationships.
At the same time, the Passover lamb is established
as a basic celebration meal, and importantly, the blood collected from the Passover Lamb
is to be painted on to the doorposts and lintels of the doorway,
so the house can be recognized by the Lord, and when He sees this blood,
He will pass over it. No one in this place will die.
As for Pharoah, he never did see Moses face again. But life in the times of the plagues
goes forward even under great duress, and in the control of men
who imagine themselves to be Gods, yet who are always broken down
by history and shown to be nothing but men, weak and afraid,
men who seek to control by fear, or by the exercise of raw power.
In difficult times God is always present, always willing,
and always God,
who when we learn to trust is always able.
We put ashes on our heads to:
-Remind us of all those around the world who are mourning
-Remind us that we all have sinned, we all need repentance,
all must cling to the promises and love of Christ
-Remind us that in the passage of time we must all at some
-Remind us of Christ's suffering, death and resurrection
-Remind us that in the midst if this, we are still called, named,
claimed and loved
Children of God
PRAYER FOR FORGIVENESS
I confess that I have not loved You with my whole heart.
I have failed to be obedient.
I have not done Your will,
I have broken Your law,
I have rebelled against Your love
I have not loved my neighbors, and
I have not heard the prayer of the needy.
Forgive me I pray. Free me for joyful obedience, through Jesus Christ,
my Lord and Savior.
When Jesus saw their faith, He said,
"Friend, your sins are forgiven." Luke 5:20 and Matthew 9:1-8
I stand before you, a changed man.
The life I once lived, I live no more;
I am a man changed.
Once, I thought I knew,
so much more, I thought,
than what was merely true.
Once, I fancied myself to be wise
in worldly ways,
imagined I was clever,
capable of carving out
my own way
in an unfriendly world.
Once, I believed that I knew
all that was needed
to be a great success in the world
I had set out to conquer.
My wisdom was revealed
to be merely worldly ignorance,
a house built on sand
built of sticks and straw,
and being built on sand,
it could not stand
but swiftly collapsed
during the first strong winds.
I was left seated
in the rubble of my life,
shaken to the core,
having lost faith in myself as champion,
as shepherd of my soul; and more.
I could not summon the strength
to press on.
I testify today to undergoing
a radical reformation at the Lord's hand,
one challenging all my assumptions
about who I was,
or what I had really accomplished
within my empty life.
I was compelled to see how little
I had achieved by my own hand.
I was disquieted deeply
by those whom I had caused sadness,
and brought distress and pain.
I could see that most
of what I considered my successes
had been claimed at the expense
of so many others.
And then I WAS changed,
with numbing and deliberate speed,
into a new person,
one distinct from my former self,
yet, one aware of all my failings
and false narratives,
but also, aware
that a new opportunity had come to me
to recover wasted years and days,
to restart my life all over, again.
My life IS changed! It IS new!
All doubts about my purpose in life
have been erased,
my purpose is aligned with
the will of God,
the will of Him who is able,
of Him who enables me to labor
in His fields, to accomplish that
which, in my other life,
I could not even see.
I have been inhabited by the Holy Spirit
since my surrender
to His transforming power,
since I accepted
and embraced His yoke
upon my shoulders.
All is right.
All is well.
This is the way I know I should go.
And now that I know,
it is with Him
Surprise, Sorpresa, Wundern, Quelle Surprise. (English, Spanish and Italian,
Whatever the language,
the word, Surprise,
carries a special meaning,
it is a special word
with the power to change anything,
to change everything
to create a new circumstance
to create a new paradigm
to give voice and life
to a real change
that is at once startling
and at the same time
Can you see the hand of God?
Can you hear a prayer being answered?
Do you recognize a need being met?
Is it your need that is being attended to?
For whom is the Surprise intended?
Is it for you?
Is it for one for whom you pray?
Surprise! It may be for all of these.
It may be totally unexpected.
Does it affect you deeply?
Then think hard upon it
until you see the hand if God within it,
until you receive the surprise
When God is recognized for the gift
He gives to you, or to one you pray for,
or care about;
then be thankful.
Be joyful in the thanks you give.
Tell others of the gift which you receive,
gifts which God has shared with you,
Then, testify. Tell the story,
how God is good, and you know,
all over again, from this surprise,
how good a God He is.
And when you do this, you will see.
A poem by Jon Elvrum, 1/7/2020
A poem by Jon Elvrum
It is You whom I see
nailed to the cross
dying there for me
even as He
is dying there for you.
It is exactly this moment
that has called out to me
these more than twenty centuries later.
See now, the moment when the sky grows dark
dark as the moment seems
as dark as the moment feels.
I see that He has given
nearly everything for us,
to achieve our salvation,
yours and mine.
He has nearly nothing left to give...yet He is not finished.
He thirsts for our redemption
for our reclamation and salvation;
all the lives of everyone still lost
all those still unredeemed.
I thirst, He said
Among the seven last words recorded
His words remembered,
His words written down
there can be found
and a soldier squeezes vinegar
into a sponge,
lifts it up on spear's point
history does not know
if this was just more abuse
or a sad attempt to offer help,
even misbegotten help ...
an attempt to offer something... anything
that might assuage the dryness,
relieve the parched throat;
soothe the broken body;
when no other thing
seemed available to give.
Lord, I see that you
rejected the sponge
as soon as you knew
it was not the water that You intended
it was not the Living Water
that You offered the woman at the well
not the Revelation water
the Holy Water, water meant to redeem
water meant to restore;
not the water from the rock at Meribah
that kept the earliest of the Chosen
together, even in their deepest disarray.
It has always been about water...
The creation story tells
about all was water
then water divided, earth formed;
water mixed with earth
used to form Adam.
It was always about Your thirst for us
always about Your love for us
about Your desire that we be obedient
that we come to the water
that we come to You for
baptism by water,
water for relief
water for forgiveness
water for redemption.
I thirst, He said...
"Come," He said, "all who are heavy laden and I will refresh you."
He offers us His water to drink...
The old song says it:
"Come to the water.
Stand by my side.
I know you are thirsty.
You won't be denied..."
He said it first to us, first for us.
I thirst, He said.
We should be obedient.
We should be thirsty.
We should come to the water, His water.
And we should drink deep!
He thirsts for us. SELAH!
What is meant by the promise of God?
God's promises are His word:
Intended for us
meant for us to consider
for us to meditate upon
finally, for us to believe
whole-heartedly in God's son
believe in JESUS, the Christ;
which is to do with all our hearts
mind and soul
all that He says.
And what does He say to us?
He says that the Kingdom of Heaven
He tells us not to be afraid
He invites us to come...
He asks us to follow Him
wherever He leads us.
He promises He will never leave us,
nor forsake us
we will never be abandoned by Him
for the only inescapable reason,
for one undeniable truth,
because of His Father's love
and His Father's will
we are secure in our position.
Thanks to God's promise
and God's provision
We can believe the promise ,
we can embrace the provision
We are free to join Him
in His new life for us,
free in wholeness,
new in our restored beauty,
in the final, full dimension
of His perfect newness
as He told us when our conversation
of promise commenced,
when we first explored
the premise of His promise,
when we began by understanding first, His Incredible Sacrifice
and it's stunning result,
how Christ was broken for us,
How He was broken by us,
broken because of us.
In His suffering we are complicit,
as our sins are taken
and laid upon His already broken body
adding to His pain
the additional weight of our own sins.
We are not afraid for we know the Kingdom of God is here
For we have come,
now knowing; we are glad to be here
where His promises are no longer the subject of faith
But are now the very substance
of our new eternity.
Us resting forever in His promise,
knowing it is true.
That IS Believing,
I believe it IS true.
Is it also true with you?
Be not afraid!
The Kingdom of God is near.
Come and follow.
Reach out and taste His love,
feel His presence.
Believe He has called you to Himself.
Draw near to Him, be reconciled.
Do not be afraid! He has come, and He will come again!
Alongside His perfect life,
He has laid His perfect promise.
A poem by Jon Elvrum,
Poem by Jon Elvrum
Here we go again! Blessings.
Lord, I have read stories
of those who met you
no vision, perhaps blurred vision
seeing figures more like trees than men.
There are so many stories...
Lord, I have read stories
of those who encountered You
who were changed forever
from unclean to clean;
from once deaf to now hearing
from hemorrhaging to wholly restored
by Your holy restoration,
Lord, I have read stories.
I have wondered how one can read
all the stories
stories of forgiveness
of correction and re-direction
of penitence and remorse,
so many stories,
of sinners confronting their sin
through their encounter with You
sinners being changed
in a radical, life-altering moment.
There are so many stories
told with such passionste candor
such calm assurance sustained
by the kind of absolute certainty
which allows one to say
to the powerful skeptics of their day
"I only know that I was blind,
but now I see!"
Or, "I knew if I could touch
even the hem of His robe
that I would be healed."
There are so many stories...
With so many stories
stories from Scripture
with so many examples
examples from old to new history,
so many real life experiences about
of life and lives transformed;
with all we know, by what we have read,
what we have heard,from those we know or have known of...
How can we doubt any longer?
What "new" news are we awaiting?
If you still doubt all this,
all this gathered information,
if you still wonder what to do?
Then turn today
turn to the one who saves
to the only one who elected
to die for you
chose to offer himself as earnest payment
for all the sins
for all the evil and selfish acts
even those particular and special ones
all those done
His gift has been freely given.
One time for all of time.
Take the time to put your heart into
a place of penitential preparation
Confess that you are a sinner
Say aloud, you are sorry for your sins,
sorry you have been so long away,
say that today, you want Him to come
to make your life into a new life
a changed and corrected life
Declare all this in the name of the One
the One who is able
the only One who died to save you
the only One who lives to see that you
receive the gift He gave
Why do you hesitate?
Come to the water, He said.
Drink all you will. Come to the water.
"Freely, freely, you have received,
Freely, freely give.
Go in His name
and because you beliehve,
others will know that He lives."
Chorus from a Christian song of praise.
A poem by Jon Elvrum
I never knew how lost I was
I never knew why I was lost.
I thought I was my own master, my own keeper of my own keys
It was not true.
I thought, I knew, that life was often cruel.
Was often sad, sometimes lonely
and difficult to make sense of.
But I believed that I would make it through
to wherever was the next place
to that next thing, that next situation,
which always managed to occur.
just before ...
before I was really ready for whatever was to be;
then as my ability to control events failed once again
I heard a word
asking me quietly
if I would allow myself to be helped?
if I would be still, and know who it was who could help?
Who, could help, but GOD?
but O how greatly did I need His help?
This was a very radical idea to me,
convinced as I was that
could control my life's outcomes
only I could fight my own battles,
overcome my own inadequacies.
My failure was very hard to embrace
difficult to admit.
I heard You
into my soul
and at once I knew it was You.
You were with me
How did You know?
What could You see?
Suddenly I knew
that though I desperately tried
to hide my failure
You saw it clearly.
How did you see, how did You know
what I so fully needed from You?
You never lost sight of me,
I know now that You are always aware,
on the alert, ready to cover me
with Your grace
to cover me with Your favor
to inspire me to take on a different path,
a new path
where I never would have gone
in my own will.
suddenly I am on unfamiliar
yet confident ground;
suddenly, I know,
I feel that You are with me
I am not alone.
In an instant You have me, more than I can believe that I have You.
How? How can this be?
Because Your love is greater than my every weakness;
because Your faithfulness, is stronger than my every misstep.
You do the impossible.
I am left to embrace the impossible things You do because of who You are and for what You have done for all of us
for all of time.
There are things written down in deathless Scripture
never to be forgotten or ignored.
We are covered and lifted up
We are exalted by Your Word
and by, for, and through Your Will
which was always in Heaven
and is now on Earth as well.
Because You are all You have declared,
so much more than we can ever merit,
because, in spite of our weakness and even in our sin:
we are wholly Yours forever.
We are Holy! And that Is How.
Let us all as one, say Amen!