The Helper

In John 13, we can imagine the anxiety forming in the minds of the disciples. This time was shortly before the crucifixion and Jesus was preparing them, not only for what was to come in the short term, but later, when the infant church would be put to the test. Imagine yourself in their place. This was the man they had followed and worshiped. They were prepared to do anything for Him. But the prophesies must be fulfilled.

Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered, “Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later.” Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times.” John 13:36-38. It was in the backdrop of what on the surface seems like a shaky start that His church was formed, formed with men like Peter, of whom Jesus said, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Matthew 16:18

Lord, You said you would ask the Father to give us another Helper,
Who would be “the Spirit of truth.”
You said He would be in us
and with us abide.

You said the Holy Spirit would teach us
and help us remember all you said.
You said when You would go,
He would reside.

Thank you, Spirit of God,
for disclosing our Lord’s truth.
How else would we comprehend the mystery.
The revolution that conquered sin,
the ultimate sacrifice that took us in,
prophecy fulfilled on Calvary’s tree.

Thank You

If God gave me breath for two words,
when I’d come to the end of my time
and let’s face it we can never know
just when that will be…
With not enough words to wax poetic
I’d bring out the best two I could use.
I guess the most exquisite
would simply be thank you.

Thank you,
two words directed at God and then those
He’s allowed to touch my life
even the ones who brought me
some measure of pain.
Thank you,
no matter your intentions
you helped me to grow,
to live a full life
you can’t just have sun,
you also need rain.

Thank you for the dark
and the light.
Thank you for a family
to say good night.
I’ve found that some of the small joys
are really the best.
God, as you see I’m skirting the rules
by using many now
when then I’ll only have two.
I just wanted to get some out now
before I rest.

Thank you for music…
surely the precursor
to heavenly sounds.
I’m pretty sure there’s more to the band
than only the harp.
Thank you for painting,
from our hands though surely from yours.
Thank you for expression of all that we feel.
It seems like hardly enough to just call it art.

I hope to add to the list
before I’m down to my last two

though you surely knew,

I want to say thank you.


Circumstances, the events or conditions in our lives that we experience, don’t have an inherent value besides what we assign to them. A flat tire, while certainly a negative experience, is still just an event. Most of us have probably heard the saying, “attitude is everything.” Again, it’s not a difficult concept to embrace, but I think as we encounter various circumstances during the course of a typical day, we forget that we are in the business of assigning power, minute by minute, to our experiences.

As Christians, our prayers may include asking God to keep our families safe, to provide for us financially, to give us our favorite parking spot at the supermarket. Do we worship a living God who knows us intimately, who we trust to provide for us through all that we encounter? Or do we make of our God a servant who is responsible for fulfilling our every whim? Of course we serve a loving God who wants every good thing for His children, but our relationship will be stymied if we choose to rely on a temporal view instead of God’s eternal view. Only one of those two attitudes can cause us to survive and thrive through a voyage that may bring us fair or contrary winds.

Good to Me

That elaborate story about your depth of vision…

just an excuse to take my hand

forgetting your coat so I could keep you


You’re so


to me

Telling me I’m funny

then wisely rolling

your eyes

when I convince myself

I am too

Pretending you’re asleep so I can


you up

Comparing my skills to the best of Daytona’s


you graciously let me

fill your car

Who has it better than I do?


no one!

For every Valentine box of twenty


you let me eat eighteen

I share the best view of



You kindly allow me to greet

home invaders

for my side of the bed faces

the door.

Clearly no one has it as well as this man

the one staring


as I


but should I grin too


you’ll be sure to say


Time Lines

Past, Present, and Future got together for their regular lunch.
In what was usually a futile attempt to keep the peace, Present
sat in between the other two.
Past usually arrived early.
Present was right on time.
Future was always late, but just how late
from week to
The waiter to serve them was chosen on a rotating basis because of the stress.
Past: “Could you please make sure my coffee is fresh AND hot. Last week it was not the former. The week before that, it was not the latter.”
Present: “Whatever is back there, I’m sure it’s fine.”
Future: “There will be no tip for you if the beans are not Moroccan.”
A nurse stood watch just inside the kitchen to check the server’s vitals. There was never a guarantee he would even make it through the meal.

To be continued…


For from of old
they have not heard
nor perceived by ear
nor has the eye seen
a God besides You,
Who acts in behalf
of the one who waits
for Him.
Isaiah 64:4

Part and parcel of being human is uncertainty. Consider the insurance business: We may guess that our house will stand for a given number of years and we can take measures to provide for its protection, but any number of calamities can take our property away. The same principal applies to health, automobile, life, etc. Our efforts to provide for ourselves in the face of unforeseen circumstances are prudent, but at best they are the product of educational guesses. We simply can’t predict every twist and turn between our present and our tomorrow.
How you react to uncertainty depends greatly on your personality type. Some of us spend a great deal of time digesting forecasts, while others would rather experience life on the fly. Whether the concept of “not knowing” makes your heart stop or beat a little faster, the future is coming; it’s up there, just around the corner.

Carefully, like Elmer Fudd,
with comical stealth and guile,
there I go,
stalking my future.

If I stop
fast enough,
will I catch it
stalking me?

I’d rather spend
my life
in breathless anticipation
because I trust God for
what’s over the next rise,
than in a perpetually dizzy state
because I keep
looking back
to see
what’s gaining on me.

Power of Pizza Fridays

Now, you know…
I believe the greatest power in this world or any of the others yet to be discovered is the power of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Through His death and resurrection we are able to claim a place in God’s kingdom. When we plead for God’s forgiveness, it is only the blood of our Savior that washes away that which would separate us from Him.

But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

I also believe, along with I think most Christians, that we cannot serve the spiritual needs of our brothers and sisters while ignoring their temporal needs. I love outreach programs like water recovery and purification and those programs that teach people how to be self sustaining. The many farm and livestock assistance programs are a great example. These are ways as Christians we can shine. In my opinion, if you give a man a peaceful way to earn his own pride and dignity, you’re not only lifting the status of that man, you’re building safety and security into the area of the world where he lives.

In that vein, (and slightly with tongue in cheek) please allow me to propose a plan which I believe can change the world, make Fridays a little safer, and give us all some peace and quiet at least one day a week. I call my plan “Power of Pizza Fridays.”

And it goes a little something like this:

Yeah, yeah…
work it out
work it

work that dough

2 3 4

My main man mr. pizza
earned his way
through toil and sweat
he got his start
in the pizza business
and it hasn’t failed him yet
but one morning mr. pizza woke up
he said God I read about the wars
so many people are so angry
and they don’t even know what for
he said God what can I do?

I’m just a pizza man

God said I’ll give you a day
P said which one?

God said,


Yeah, Friday!

Take some pizza ovens
where the shots are being
advertise it all the other days
make your pizza wherever anger grows
give it away free on Fridays
make the ones who wanna eat
guns and bombs
for cheese and meat and dough

thick or thin
even haters stop hatin’
while they’re eatin’ that pizza pie

any topping they want

they might forget about making war

it’s a beautiful thing

so quiet on Fridays

you could hear a pepperoni drop

Search My Heart

Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way. Psalm 139:23-24

Search my heart, Lord,
the One who sees no difference
between night and day.
For you they are both alike.
Every hour you see all the same.
When the fog in front of my eyes is so thick
my hands could pull it apart like a veil,
You ask for my faith you will see me through
as though you were trimming my sail.

Search my heart, Lord,
purify, burn away all my dross.
All that I carry that is not of you,
I will not count as loss.
Let me value each day as a gift from you, Lord.
As I submit, let me be a gift too.
Guide my steps toward those hurting,
make the words I pen worthy,
while all in me your spirit renews.

Bribing Spring

23494_104526786236628_100000379204555_114172_2028252_nDear Spring,
On behalf of myself and all those who eagerly await your arrival, please consider this official request.
Okay, I know you must be rolling your eyes.
I know.
I know.
Here’s this guy who lives near the coast in the north of California. He spends most of his time in a marine climate that sees little in the way of extremes. Mostly what he has to worry about are earthquakes. A warm jacket when outdoors and a little extra caution while driving take care of things, pretty much. Now, you could understand the distress of those living in the grip of winter’s wrath, the mountains of snow, the inches of ice, the difficulty of… just doing anything outside. But this guy? With HIS cozy little micro-climate? Not so much.

Alright, Spring. Guilty as charged.

But hey, Spring?

I love you.

i love…
little buds peeking out on branches all over
before exploding in colorful blooms
i love the way our world fills with hues
until it seems there could be no more room
to hold so much grandeur and majesty and joy
unseen since the dawning of earth
nature fairly weeps for sights so exquisite
as the ecstatic ground gives birth

Now Spring, I can see you have blushed. If need be, I apologize for making you rush. It’s just I can’t wait for your start. Please accept this bribe of words. They’re all straight from my heart.

Sincerely, Joel