Your Love Defends Me

This past Sunday, I had the opportunity to do something that was way outside my comfort zone.  I stood up and read one of my poems as part of a special Sunday night worship service at our church.  It was something that I had never done before and I was legitimately pretty terrified.  It was really putting myself out there.  However, I found it to be one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had in worship and one in which I feel I grew as a writer, speaker, Christian, and person in general.

The topic of the poem was answering the question of whether or not Jesus is still relevant in our day to day lives.  I wrote it to lead into the song “Your Love Defends Me,” by Matt Maher.  So, if you’re reading this and you are a Christian, then read it as an encouragement that Jesus can be relevant in your life today.  If you’re reading this and you’re not a Christian, then try to come at it with an open mind and just appreciate the poetry and come to a deeper understanding of something that Christians believe.

Also, since this poem was written to be performed, not necessarily read, the rhythm and meter is a little bit quirky at times.  If you want to hear the song that this poem preceded, go to this link to find it.  I hope you enjoy this poem and come away with some kind of deeper under standing or enlightenment.

Who is Jesus? That’s a topic for deliberation.
I know that whenever it comes up in conversation.
There’s usually some kind of confrontation
It’s a question that can bring a lot of consternation.
But I think the issue that causes much of the strife
Is not who He is but what is His role in our life.
I mean is He still alive and active? Is He relevant?
Or are we talking and singing these songs just for the hell of it?
And when I say hell of it a pun is definitely intended
Because most of us see His role as just a ticket to get to Heaven.
But today I would really like to lay before you
Three ways that Jesus can be so much more to you.

First, Jesus can be a source of motivation
He increases our hearts’ emotions call it cardiac inflammation.
Jesus gives to our lives a meaning and a mission.
He places in our hearts a more extensive conviction
And sends us to go far outside our comfort zone
To do things that we never would dream to do on our own.
He might send you off to Africa to teach kids how to read
Or you might stay here with Agape or Jesus Prom and serve those with special needs.
He might send you to share His love and grace with your neighbor down the road
Or you may end up in Piedras Negras even though tu no hablas espanol.
You could help somebody clean their gutters by getting on a ladder
Or fight against racial injustice by joining a group like Black Lives Matter.
Either way my point is that we get comfortable and, now don’t call me crazy
That comfort causes us in truth to become a little lazy.
So, the first way Jesus has a function in our day to day
Is He gives our lives a purpose and He sends us on our way.

Part two
Some people say that Christians have completely lost their touch
They say this Jesus guy is nothing more than a simple crutch
What comes into my mind whenever words like these are spoken
Is that it seems like you just haven’t yet had your legs been broken.
And that’s awesome I mean please please don’t get me wrong
But I’ve found in life that eventually it simply won’t be long.
I haven’t lived that long but I’ve seen enough of this world in which we’re living
To look down at my cards and know it’s a loaded hand we’re given
See the history of the world begins in Genesis chapter One
Where we find God’s plan for how He wanted creation to be run
He created and it was good and that’s how it’s intended to be
Problem is, if you keep on reading that you’ll get to Genesis Three.
Where we come to the entrance of a little thing that we call sin.
And it corrupts the entire Earth and everything we find therein.
And everyone’s got a chapter full of dark and dismal days
The pain of them still lingers even though you’ve turned the pages.
And thinking we can heal ourselves is how the devil tricks us
When Jesus love is the only thing on Earth that can truly fix us.
So the second way that Jesus Love can be real to us today
Is that he has the ability to heal us from our pain.

Part Three
We’re in a battle and this whole world’s the battleground
Satan’s stationed at the center with his forces gathered round.
He’s got demons of depression, addiction, anxiety
And pressure to look perfect placed on us by society.
Hatred and bigotry
Lust and pornography
Christians fighting Christians just because of greed and jealousy.
He’s used these for millenia his tactics are tried and true
And if we ever solved them he’d just switch to something new.
See he’s got the human weaknesses all spelled out to the letter
We’ve been fighting them for years and believe me it’s not getting better.
No way on Earth can we protect ourselves from his attacks
He doesn’t fight a fair fight he’ll just stab us in our backs.
The problem is our thinking that we have to fight alone
We wander into battle just to struggle on our own.
But Jesus already won this war, he’s beaten Satan’s armies
When he is fighting for us there is nothing that can harm us.
So the third thing Jesus does to help us out along the way
Is he gladly comes to join us as we march into the fray.

So I hope tonight these words have helped to clear up some confusion
Of Jesus’ role today so let me say that in conclusion
We all get lazy so we need his love to send us.
We’re all broken so we need his love to mend us.
We’re all helpless so we need him to defend us.
His love defends us.

 

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Who am I?

It seems for the last couple months especially, my entire newsfeed on FB, most Snapchat stories I follow, and most of the national and even local news have been focused on the racial divide that is still overwhelmingly pervasive in the United States.  I’m going to be completely honest and say that this is one of the things in life that simply weighs the heaviest on my heart.  It saddens me to see people so divided and hateful towards each other.  I was speaking with one of my best friends about it and he said, “It just shouldn’t be such a struggle to not hate each other.”

One of the things about the entire issue that has continually bothered me the most is the Christian Church’s part in it.  I’ll put a caveat in and say that some churches are better about it than others.  However, as a whole, the Church has fallen woefully short in the area of speaking out against systemic racism and race issues as a whole.  It has been damningly silent on these topics and even pushed back against groups trying to pursue true equality and take a stand.  If I had a quarter for every Christian/ Pastor that I heard say, “No, all lives matter…” but I digress.

So long story short, I was thinking about this whole issue the other day and, as I am sometimes want to do, I wrote a poem about it.  The rhythm and meter is a little bit odd I’ll admit.  I was listening to a song called “Love Letters to God” by Nahko and the Medicine People when I first started thinking it.  So if you listen to that song, you’ll get a feel for it.  Either way listen to the song.  It’s really good.  Well, without further ado, here is the latest rambling of my inner thoughts.

Who Am I?

 

When time began

I think that race was never part of God’s plan

But then we went and screwed it up again

And sadly then

hate and judgement

We started setting connotation to pigment

To think the skin makes the man that’s not intelligent

It’s a figment

Of imagination

To think that anyone is lesser a creation

Their star a smaller part the constellation

The human nation

Cuz who are we

Without the breath of the Almighty?

We’re laying lifeless underneath that tree

And can’t you see?

For what am I

But brown dust underneath blue sky?

My life and worth is from the Lord Most High

I wonder why

For who are you

To judge a brother by his color or hue?

With the same blood same soul imbued

And that’s the truth

In His likeness

Many colors but one palette now that’s priceless

A perfect picture of creation at its finest

Be the kindness

Stop the hatred

Just love God and one another that’s what He said

And give yourself for your brother that’s what he did

Stand united.

Love radiate

Instead of bringing others down elevate

And true love to one another demonstrate

It’s not too late

It’s not too late

It’s not too late

 

Well.  There it is.  I hope you can understand the place where this is coming from.  As always, if you like what you read,  please follow the blog by clicking on the link in the lower right corner of your screen.  Hell, even if you don’t like it, please follow anyhow.

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day at an elementary school is always replete with drama.  As teachers, we don’t always know who’s dating whom and who just broke up with whom.  We get snippets and hear some of it but simply don’t have enough time to truly keep up with it.  Furthermore, I personally can say that I don’t really care.  Some of it is noteworthy so we know that Boy A can’t sit next to Boy B anymore because Boy B is now dating Boy A’s ex so they’ll fight.  Or we know that we can’t let Boy A go to the bathroom when Girl A is out of the room etc.  But most of it is just tertiary drama that really doesn’t affect us day to day.  However, on Valentine’s Day, we usually get doused with it.  Here are some funny anecdotes from the past couple years from Valentine’s Day.

The Manipulator

This is a pretty simple story really.  I was in first grade one year and saw one little girl get up in the middle of instructional time, waltz up to a young boy’s desk, and blatantly drop a note on his desk and hug him.  The boy, obviously taken aback at this unexpected amorous display looked helplessly up at me.  I just rolled my eyes and held out my hand.  The boy handed me note and I opened it up to read, “Dear Finky (Badly misspelled name), I love you.  I really do Finky. Love, (Girl’s name).”  Obviously I ribbed the boy to no end about it and to this day call him Finky.

However, the real punchline of the story comes later while I was at lunch duty.  As I was walking around the cafeteria helping the first and second graders open ketchup packets, (a task that is seemingly impossible for them to complete independently) the girl walked up to me and said, “Mr. Steidl, I have a secret.”  “Ok” I said. “I don’t really love (boy’s name). I just gave him that note to make you jealous.” She whispered.  “Ok.” I said, as I felt that any other response would be somehow inappropriate.  She then skipped away as if we’d never talked.

Cool Points for Mr. Steidl

Two of the teachers were sitting in the lounge on their planning period on one Valentine’s Day just discussing some of the drama.  “Oh gosh and then the whole thing with Bob and Jane (real names redacted to protect the somewhat innocent).” I heard them talking about how he forgot to get her a card for Valentine’s Day and how she loves Hershey’s Kisses and he came in eating Hershey’s Kisses but didn’t give her any for Valentine’s Day so she’s so mad at him.  Now Bob is an idiot.  I love the kid, but he’s an idiot, especially when it comes to girls.  However, we were making Valentine’s Day cards in my first grade group when he was on his lunch.  So I went to the cafeteria and called him out to the hallway. “Am I in trouble?” He asked as he walked up to me. “Well not with me.” I replied “But I hear that Jane isn’t too happy with you.” “Oh man. I know!” he said, and proceeded to give me the whole sob story about how he forgot.

I decided to help the young man out and asked him if he would like to bring his lunch to first grade and make a valentine for Jane there.  One of my students had also given me a giant Hershey Kiss that I was in no way going to eat so I offered it to him if he wanted it.  He said that yes he wanted to come up and make a valentine for Jane.  He worked diligently for about 15 minutes and then got up to leave.  “You want me to proof-read it?” I asked. “Yea that’d be good.” He replied and handed me the note.  I opened it up…

“Dear Jane,

HAHAHAHA Gotcha!  You thought I forgot for real didn’t you? Best joke ever right?  You know I would never actually forget about you.  I just wanted to make it better because it would be more of a surprise.  You know I love you.  I would say more than that but I think Mr. Steidl gonna read this.

Bob.”

It was just epic.  I never told Jane anything about how he actually did forget or that the huge Hershey Kiss she got was actually from a little girl named Adrianna.  That would be some major violation of bro code.  I’m pretty sure she knows anyways.  However, every time “Bob” sees me in the hall now, he kind of just gives me a nod and grins.  Cool points for Mr. Steidl.