The Smile

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There was a smile for years within the shadows.
I saw no eyes but knew it smiled at me.
It wore a glee like one who watched the gallows
To revel in death and depravity.
I lived for years in fear of its abuses;
Its haunting was oppressive in its scope.
It laughed at my defenses and excuses
And steadily eroded all my hope.
How can one contradict a stronger power?
How can one run from what cannot be found?
I felt its gaze upon me ev’ry hour
And knew it laughed e’en when it made no sound.
But something changed the day that I surrendered
And ceased to fear the smile to fear the crown.
I turned from dark to light, life was engendered,
And what once smiled at me began to frown.


Photo by chmyphotography on Unsplash

Atrocities

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You may have heard the analogy of the terrible car accident, an example of something you don’t want to see but you can’t help but watch. Some parts of Scripture seem fitting passages for such a comparison (think of the story of Lot’s daughters in Genesis 19 or of David’s adultery and murder in 2 Samuel 11). Horror movies also match the model with their fantastical depictions of the broken state of reality. But true crime stories, for many people, may serve as more poignant examples of evil in our world.

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A Prayer to Abide

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I want to walk with hope though there be sadness.
I want to be at peace though there be war.
I want to remain sober in the madness.
I want to trust, not knowing what’s in store.
I want my life to testify to blessings
Surpassing the self-pity that I feel.
I want to stand in spite of second-guessings.
I want my love to be alive and real.
I want my joy to show through circumstances,
Joy drawn not from my circumstance or sight.
I want my setbacks to serve your advances,
That, in the darkness, I reflect your light.


Photo by Anjo Antony on Unsplash

The Ache for Hope

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My friend Atley and I watched Brightburn on Saturday (warning: spoilers ahead). We both enjoyed the movie, but we noticed that the movie left us feeling a bit gross. Granted, that’s not uncommon for horror movies, especially in an age when the horror genre seems to lean heavily on gratuitous violence or sexual content to capture attention. I typically don’t enjoy (or view) such movies. But Brightburn was different. While Atley and I pointed to a few instances of unnecessary gore in the movie, Brightburn left us uncomfortable not because of what it included but because of what it lacked.

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The Christian at Work

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A number of my friends from seminary work in local churches, meaning their coworkers and bosses are fellow believers. A number of other friends, however, work in coffee shops, department stores, or in other non-religious occupations. One such friend recently asked how Christians in such positions can best represent Christ to their coworkers, specifically when lifestyles and ethical frameworks conflict. Today, I want to offer a few thoughts on the subject.

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Three Days

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Remember now the darkness of those three long days before
The dawning of the day of resurrection,
For few have felt the fear of thinking God had lost the war.
The shadow of his people’s insurrection
Now loomed across the future. Now our hope seemed spent and slain.
The light of life appeared to be extinguished.
The ones who sang his praises now in shock sang no refrain.
His life, howe’er, was willingly relinquished.
What seemed to be a sure defeat was fixed before the fall.
The devil’s darkest scheme was his undoing.
As Christ was lifted up, he drew all men to heed his call.
He drained the cup of wrath our sin was brewing.
The bitter silence of that Sabbath day must have been great.
Unheard, Satan’s presumpt’ous celebration.
When was it Satan realized the cross had sealed his fate?
The slaughtered lamb became our faith’s foundation.
We now look back in wonder at this work in history
And sing with joy to God who reigns eternal.
The cornerstone came forth again in holy victory
O’er ev’ry sin, the mean and the infernal.
The resurrection of the Son secured our joy and peace.
No enemy can sabotage or sever
Us from the Father’s love. In him, sin’s slavery must cease.
Sing praise, his people, now and to forever.


Photo by Ricky Turner on Unsplash

The Psychology of Demons

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I watched The Exorcist in high school. While I watched movies often in those days, especially action/adventure movies and comedies, I hadn’t yet explored much in the realm of horror. The movie left an impression on me that remains to this day, though not because the movie itself scared me. No, I remember The Exorcist because, around the viewing of the film, I was told stories of real life events that inspired parts of the story. The story of The Exorcist forced me to recognize the reality of spiritual warfare, the existence of actual demons. The film reminded me that we face a very real, very evil enemy.

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Glory

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Unmatched, unmarred by sin, unshaken, God
Maintains the utmost glory. ‘Fore his face
E’en angels hide their faces. In that place
Corruption is not suffered, cannot trod
The ground made holy by his presence. Hide
Your eyes; gain clarity. Be still and know
That he is LORD o’er all, above, below.
Fear fills us, fear fulfills us: terrified
In tenderness. Unknown yet known; most high;
E’er near; eternally enthroned above
All enemies, all not-gods, perfect love
Perfectly conquers all, never runs dry.
The sun is but a shadow of his light.
No darkness can present a worthy fight.


Photo by Roland Epple on Unsplash

Huge thanks to Brett Dickson for his invaluable insight and encouragement during the writing of this poem.