“My Cry I Raise” – An Easter Poem

empty tomb image

For Easter 2019, I wrote the following poem reflecting on Christ’s resurrection.

“My Cry I Raise”
Written 4/19/19

Hear my voice as I recount
the things I felt and heard.
You need to know what I will share,
so capture every word.

Friday neared the Sabbath when
they laid him down inside,
the one they called the Nazarene,
the one they crucified.

Wrapped and still his body lay,
hour by hour that passed.
The tomb was carved for those like this,
who finally breathed their last.

Outside the Roman soldiers watched
and guarded all around.
The Sabbath came and went without
a robber to be found.

But before the sun rose on
the quiet place of death,
I felt the ground begin to quake
and heard him take a breath.

I felt the royal cords give way
and heard the soldiers cry,
as some fell faint and others fled
in fear that they would die.

Angel hands pushed me aside
and there I sat again,
beside the tomb so I could let
the women enter in.

The Nazarene said stones would cry
if people did not praise.
I am the stone that rolled away,
and this my cry I raise.

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20 Years of Preaching the Bible

Open Bible picToday is April 18, 2019, which is twenty years since my first sermon on April 18, 1999. I have a deep love for opening God’s Word with God’s people, and I hope this joy never fades. Throughout these twenty years, I have learned and heard many important truths about preaching Scripture, and it seems fitting to share twenty thoughts.

  1. The whole Bible is important for the whole Christian, so preach the Old and New Testaments.
  2. The Bible is not boring, so neither should the preacher be.
  3. You can’t preach everything you’ve studied about a text, so a vital part of sermon preparation is determining what to exclude.
  4. Your personal sorrows are part of your sermon preparation.
  5. Some days you may not feel like preaching, but you preach anyway because the power of God works through his Word.
  6. Preaching must not be a regurgitation of commentaries.
  7. Don’t clog up your sermon with lengthy illustrations; simple and concise illustrations are helpful and sufficient.
  8. Growing in the craft of preaching is important, so read resources and learn from listeners (especially from other preachers) about ways you can improve your own presentation and method.
  9. Write a lot, either in a journal or in a document or for your congregation, because writing will fine-tune your thinking and your use of words.
  10. Make appeals and applications at points during your sermon, not only at the end.
  11. Don’t assume a faithful sermon equals a long sermon; instead, seek to treat the text faithfully and helpfully for your people, and that goal probably means the length will vary.
  12. Experiment whether notes-free, some notes, bare outline, detailed outline, or a manuscript works for you, but don’t think you have to adopt the method that works for others.
  13. Engage the imagination of the listeners, for that will help them stay engaged with you.
  14. First and last words matter, so spend time thinking about your sermon’s introduction and conclusion.
  15. Preach your own sermons, not somebody’s sermon that you’ve found online or in a book somewhere.
  16. Preach through difficult passages and through difficult books of the Bible.
  17. Whenever you think, “That sermon didn’t go the way I’d hoped,” thank God for the power of his Word, acknowledge that he uses his Word in ways we’ll never know, and then take a nap.
  18. Pray that God will help you exult in his Word as you are preaching it.
  19. With the authoritative and inspired Word of God that is sharper than a two-edged sword, you don’t need gimmicks.
  20. Be doers of the Word and not just preachers of it only, for you need the sermon that you are preparing for others.

“There Is a Manger” – A Song for Advent

For Advent this year, I wrote these lyrics to “There Is a Manger,” which should be sung to the tune of “There Is a Fountain.” The five verses of “There Is a Manger” take you from the manger to the empty tomb, stopping at a hillside and a mother and a dragon along the way.

“There Is a Manger”
October 11, 2018

Verse 1
There is a manger
Filled with hope:
The promised Savior came,
The Holy One, God’s only Son,
And Jesus is His Name.
And Jesus is His Name,
And Jesus is His Name,
The Holy One, God’s only Son,
And Jesus is His Name!

Verse 2
There is a hillside
Filled with song,
As shepherds watched their sheep,
For angels sang, “Glory to God,
And on the earth be peace!”
“And on the earth be peace!”
“And on the earth be peace!
For angels sang, “Glory to God,
And on the earth be peace!”

Verse 3
There is a mother
Filled with love,
Her baby wrapped and warm.
His tiny feet would tread the waves,
His hands would still the storm.
His hands would still the storm,
His hands would still the storm,
His tiny feet would tread the waves,
His hands would still the storm!

Verse 4
There is a dragon
Filled with rage,
Who knew that God had said,
“One day a son of Eve would come
To crush the serpent’s head.”
“To crush the serpent’s head,”
“To crush the serpent’s head,”
“One day a son of Eve would come
To crush the serpent’s head!”

Verse 5
There is a promise
Filled with blood,
His life for us he gave.
He drank the cup and bore the curse,
Then rose up from the grave!
Then rose up from the grave,
Then rose up from the grave,
He drank the cup and bore the curse,
Then rose up from the grave!

“Till All the Blood was Spent” – A Passover Poem

During this Easter season at Kosmosdale Baptist Church, we have been unfolding the plagues upon Egypt which culminate in the death of the firstborn son. But if families heeded the words of Moses, their firstborn sons didn’t have to die.

Passover smear above door

“Till All the Blood was Spent”
Written 3/23/18

Months it took to build the house
before which now he stood,
with sun above and shining on
the brick and stone and wood.

The door was closed with everyone
inside until the morn—
his love of fifteen years and,
at her side, their firstborn.

A boy! They praised the God who heard
their fervent prayers for life
inside the womb of her who thought
she was a barren wife.

At last a father, yet afraid
more now than e’er before,
he stood outside beneath the sun,
before his only door.

Had he heard the prophet right,
who spoke of death to fall
upon the firstborn sons that night,
no matter great or small?

With one hand he held the basin
full of blood he shed,
and with his other held the branch
now high above his head.

He moved his arm from side to side,
and smeared above the door
the blood until the branch was dry,
and then he dipped for more.

This time he started high and left
and drug his arm down slow,
as blood began to drip upon
his hand and feet below.

One more dip and one more side,
so high and right he went
and pulled his hand toward the ground
till all the blood was spent.

Stepping back, he saw the door
and thought of him he cherished,
his son—now covered by the blood—
and then said, “It is finished.”

“This Father’s Prayer for Grace”

IMy first pic with Graysonn the amazing kindness of the Lord, today my wife Stacie and I rejoiced at the birth of
our fourth son, Grayson Mitchell Chase. He was 7 pounds 15 ounces, 20 inches long, and arrived at 5:44 pm in Louisville, Kentucky, at Norton Suburban Hospital.

Here is a poetic reflection and prayer on the day of Grayson’s birth.

“This Father’s Prayer for Grace”
May 2, 2017

Praise and honor be to God
who rules the depths and heights,
and knits inside a mother’s womb
an image-bearer’s life.

What joy to declare the birth
of Grayson Mitchell Chase!—
this one whom we have longed to see
and now hold face to face.

We pray his future steps you will
direct to this chief end:
to glorify and to enjoy
Your Son who saves from sin.

Our fourth son needs a heart to love
and eyes of faith to see
the Risen, Reigning Lord above
who sets the captive free.

Father, you alone can grant
this father’s prayer for grace:
that gospel light will dawn upon
my Grayson Mitchell Chase.

“This Temple Will Be Raised” – A Good Friday Poem

The people of Israel were familiar with a temple being destroyed and rebuilt. When Jesus tells the people in John 2:19, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up,” the disciples later realized he was speaking about his body as a temple that would be destroyed and raised. Here is a Good Friday poem focusing on that temple motif:

jesus on the cross“This Temple Will Be Raised”
April 14, 2017

Seven years it took to build
The temple of the Lord,
That sacred space
And dwelling place
Where blood and life were poured.

But when the people saw the curse
That prophets warned would fall,
They strode the path
Of holy wrath,
And bitter was the gall.

Many years would pass before
The house, which fell by flame,
Was built to stand
In promised land
Once more for Yahweh’s name.

But all the blood of bulls and lambs
For sin could not atone,
So God the Son
Said, “It is done,”
And drank the cup alone.

Upon the hill they crucified
The temple of the Lord,
His body dead
Where, in our stead,
His blood and life were poured.

The people ’round the cross beheld
The one they deemed a fraud,
Who took the path
Of holy wrath,
The spotless Lamb of God.

Now he who once said, “In three days,
This temple will be raised,”
Who by the cross
Brought gain not loss,
Should be forever praised.

My 10 Favorite Reads in 2016

So many great books published, too little time to read them all. In no particular order, here are my favorite nonfiction reads this year. Almost all of them were published in 2016.

  1. Who Shall Ascend the Mountain of the Lord? A Biblical Theology of the Book of Leviticus, by L. Michael Morales.
  2. The Crucified King: Atonement and Kingdom in Biblical and Systematic Theology, by Jeremy R. Treat.
  3. You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit, by James K. A. Smith.
  4. A Peculiar Glory: How the Christian Scriptures Reveal Their Complete Truthfulness, by John Piper.
  5. Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical, by Timothy Keller.
  6. Devoted to God: Blueprints for Sanctification, by Sinclair B. Ferguson.
  7. Marriage and the Mystery of the Gospel, by Ray C. Ortlund.
  8. God the Son Incarnate: The Doctrine of Christ, by Stephen J. Wellum.
  9. Impossible People: Christian Courage and the Struggle for the Soul of Civilization, by Os Guinness.
  10. Unparalleled: How Christianity’s Uniqueness Makes It Compelling, by Jared C. Wilson.