A Mourning Lament Outline

So you want to write a lament poem to mourn someone you loved? You can just follow your heart, but if you don’t know where to start…then start with this outline derived from David’s lament for Saul and Jonathon (2 Samuel 1:19-27).

I. Introduce your loved one as a symbol using two lines. Here is the example from 2 Samuel 1:19. (The gazelle symbolizes an important figure.) 
    “A gazelle lies slain on your heights, Israel.
    How the mighty have fallen!”

II. Use four lines to explain how his or her death will affect the world. In the case of Saul and Jonathon, their death would cause their enemies to rejoice. See 2 Samuel 1:20 below.
“Tell it not in Gath,
    proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon,
lest the daughters of the Philistines be glad,
    lest the daughters of the uncircumcised rejoice.

III. Use four lines to give details of the death. In 2 Samuel 1:21, David curses the place that the death occurred.
“Mountains of Gilboa,
    may you have neither dew nor rain,
    may no showers fall on your terraced fields.
For there the shield of the mighty was despised,
    the shield of Saul—no longer rubbed with oil.

IV. Use eight lines to describe your loved one’s character. David describes their fierceness, skill, and bravery in battle (2 Samuel 1:22-23).
“From the blood of the slain,
    from the flesh of the mighty,
the bow of Jonathan did not turn back,
    the sword of Saul did not return unsatisfied.
Saul and Jonathan—
    in life they were loved and admired,
    and in death they were not parted.
They were swifter than eagles,
    they were stronger than lions.

V. Use four lines to describe the good he or she did in their lifetime. David recalls the riches that Israel enjoyed while Saul was king (2 Samuel 1:24).
“Daughters of Israel,
    weep for Saul,
who clothed you in scarlet and finery,
    who adorned your garments with ornaments of gold.

VI. Use four lines to describe how you loved the person. David and Jonathon were close friends, and this becomes evident as we read 2 Samuel 1:25-26.
“How the mighty have fallen in battle!
    Jonathan lies slain on your heights.
26 I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother;
    you were very dear to me.
Your love for me was wonderful,
    more wonderful than that of women.

V. Using the last two lines, repeat one of the lines in the first stanza. For the first line of his last stanza, David repeats the 2nd line of the first stanza. Then he adds another short line to close out this last stanza (2 Samuel 1:27).
“How the mighty have fallen!
    The weapons of war have perished!”

This versatile outline can be used to write laments for any event that caused you to feel abandoned such as a breakup or divorce. There is no better place to get inspired than God’s own Word. If you wrote a masterpiece and would like to have a chance at getting it published, see Draw Near’s guidelines.

Ophelia’s Depression (poem by me)

This is the 5,000th day
Ophelia rolled out of bed,
walked into the wind,
swam a river upstream,
biked up a steep mountain,
then ended right where she began.

She’d like to buy some hope,
but when she woke up,
she had negative five bucks,
now she has negative ten,
She calls it “life”;
they call it depression.

Ophelia wants you to see
why she’d prefer to stay in bed,
pull a sheet over her head,
and drift off to Never-Never Land,
After all she dreams in color,
but only wears gray.

“I counsel you to buy from me gold refined
in the fire, so you can become rich; and white
clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful
nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you
can see.” —Revelation 3:18

On Writing Poetry (by me)

I have not written many poems lately because I am currently reviewing poetry submissions for a new project called Blessed Creation: A Christian Poetry Collection. This publication will provide writers the opportunity to spotlight an aspect of God’s creation with their poetry. If interested, please visit the Call for Submissions page. In today’s blog, I want to share my process for writing poetry.

I usually start my poetry writing process with a memory. If I am not inspired by a memory, it could be a dream, a beloved animal or flower, an art piece, a sermon, or someone I saw on the street… Really the possibilities for inspiration are endless! From this inspiring idea, I develop and jot down one or two lines for the poem.

Next, I try to decide if what form the poem should take. (See http://www.shadowpoetry.com to learn more about poetry forms.) If my primary purpose is to communicate a concrete message, I will often choose free verse. Mangling a message to fit into a rhyming or syllable form simply will not do. However, I love expressing flexible ideas through rhyming poetry forms like a sonnet or rhyme royal. Rhyming poems can be fun, beautiful, and complex. I personally prefer to use near rhymes instead of obvious rhymes to make it sound more sophisticated. (Visit http://www.rhymezone.com to access near rhyme suggestions for your own poetry.) Syllable poetry forms like haiku and sijo are useful to capture the short attention span of new readers. (Visit http://www.wordcalc.com if you don’t like counting syllables by hand.) When no poetry form seems suitable, I simply invent my own poetry form! Creative people create. We can’t help it. Once the form is selected, I can add more lines to the poem until it is complete.

Once the poem is finished, I reflect on the message of the poem. For me, there is always a balance to be struck. I review and ask myself questions like:

  • Does the poem honor God?
  • Is it original?
  • Was I transparent and “for real” about my true emotions?
  • Would it be considered offensive or judgmental?
  • Does it reveal God’s heart for His people?
  • Is it too syrupy sweet?
  • Does it glorify sinful practices in any way?
  • Does it speak truth according to the Word of God?

If I don’t like my answers, it is time to rewrite the poem to ensure the integrity of my work as a Christian writer. In obedience to what God has called me to do, one thing is certain—I keep writing. My readers here on this site really encourage me to fulfill my calling as a writer. I could not continue day in and day out with your supportive likes and comments (which I can read although they do not publicly post). (If you seek an encouraging poetry community, you can find one at http://www.poetrysoup.com.)

That’s it! I hope the review of my writing process helps you in some way. If you landed here because of your interest in writing but do not consider yourself a Christian, please visit Draw Near’s About God page. Additionally, I am happy to read and reply to emails if you simply have questions or concerns about the Christian faith. (See the Contact page.) Maybe there is a more significant reason you landed on this page. Thanks for reading and God bless!

Deliverance From Strongholds

When I was a non-Christian interacting with Christians, I had mixed feelings about them. On the one hand, I admired them for not cheapening their lives with the activities that accompany a sinful lifestyle. On the other hand, I assumed Christians had no fun since they did not exercise my idea of “freedom.” To me, freedom included the use of foul language, drinking excessively, and a lot of other things. After I became a Christian, I realized had not been free at all. I had been a slave to my sins, and Christians were the ones who were really free.

I began to pursue my own freedom and explored the ideas of repentance and deliverance. I learned if I repent of something, I turn my back on it. I give it up and don’t look back on it longingly. I learned from the Bible that if God delivers me from a sin, then He will give me the strength to overcome it. He will take it away from me. In the story of my salvation, I usually do not linger on the experience of repentance and deliverance even though it was an important part of my spiritual growth.

It was actually quite miraculous the way the Lord instantly helped me to repent of my sins and gave me strength to give them up, but that makes the story anticlimactic. There is simply not much to tell. I admit I did backslide into some of my sinful habits but soon realized they were not fun anymore. In contrast, there was a sin that I simply could not seem to give up. That was smoking cigarettes.

I continued smoking for sixteen years after I became a Christian even though I wanted to stop. I wanted to repent and be delivered just as I was from the other sins, but this sin was a stronghold in my life. I would not let go of it even though I knew I was a slave to it. I tried the nicotine patch several times with no success, but I tried it again with a prescription smoking cessation medication with a different result.

I was suddenly suffering from multiple side effects including frequent anxiety attacks. Worse yet, the desire to smoke was still raging inside of me. During one unusually long panic attack, I cried out to God and begged him to make the panic attack. Suddenly and audibly, I heard him. He promised to make the panic attack stop if I would quit smoking. Then my panic attack stopped. Strangely, my desire to smoke also disappeared in a sudden way. I felt a little tempted that evening, and the next morning the temptation was almost gone completely.

The Lord had miraculously delivered me from several sins early on in my spiritual walk. Later, He also delivered me a stronghold: smoking. He is an awe-inspiring God who loves His children too much to let us be slaves to sin. He wants to draw us away from sin so we can enjoy a closer love relationship with Him. I pray God delivers you from every sin including your stronghold in a sudden and miraculous way so you can see He is our Almighty God. Thanks for reading and God bless!

 

 

 

God’s Glory Through Healing

God displays His glory with healing in many ways. Sometimes He shows us His glory through doctors. After all, mankind is created in His image. Considering many medicines and even prescription drugs are made from natural materials (which is God’s creation), it is plain to see God’s glory through the use of medicine. In certain circumstances, Jesus even supernaturally intervenes to heal people and show His Father’s glory in a dramatic way. Regardless of how God heals, I think it is right to give Him the glory. That’s why I want to share this personal experience with you.

After my son was born, he started getting frequent ear infections just like I did as a kid. However, I realized he suffered from a more severe health issue that I knew nothing about. Our toddler had trouble breathing. Our pediatrician prescribed him inhalers. It was hard for me to know when our son needed to use the inhaler since he was so young, but it seemed like he needed it an awful lot. She eventually referred us to an allergist who diagnosed him with asthma.

With the help of his allergist, we made the tough decision to pursue immunotherapy (allergy shots) for his asthma. The prescribed treatment would require painful shots over the course of three years and did not guarantee results. Still, we wanted our son to be well and live a full life.

After a year of shots, our son’s breathing tests still showed no progress. The allergist even suggested stopping the treatment, but we decided to continue the shots in hopes there would be some improvement. At that time, I really began crying out to the Lord during that time and got others to pray for him also.

About six months later, there was a sudden and dramatic change in his breathing tests. His allergist said his test results were actually 101%! He recommended we stop all medication. We were overjoyed to learn his asthma was completely under control even after we stopped his medications. Now, my son occasionally uses his inhaler when he plays basketball, but other than that—he does not take any medicine at all. I believe God did a miracle in my son’s life.

Jesus performed lots of miracles in His life. The miracles brought His Father glory. They also displayed His authoritative power to forgive sins. We can trust in Jesus alone as our Savior because God’s Word tells us in Acts 4:12 “there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” I pray you will accept Him as Your Savior. If you have already accepted Him as Savior, I pray you give God the glory for all of the wonderful things He has done in your life. After all, He created you with such care and loves you very much.

 

More Than Luck

Psalm 121:7 says, “The LORD will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life…”

The sound of screeching tires sends a chill down my spine. The terror probably started with the car accident I experienced as a child. My dad was driving my brother and me home from a Christmas party when our car was hit by a drunk driver. The car was incredibly mangled, and my dad and I were hospitalized for awhile. Yet when I look at the picture of that car, I wonder how we survived at all! People have always said we were lucky, and for a number of years I agreed. Now, I am absolutely positive it was not luck. It was the Lord who protected our lives.

A similar experience happened again when I was a teenager. I was driving at night down a curvy, two-lane road when suddenly my car slipped off the edge of the pavement into a small ditch. I over-corrected by pulling the steering wheel too much and flipped the car completely upside down!  My door was jammed, but I was able to crawl out of the window. My only injury was a tiny scratch. For years, I considered myself merely lucky.

It wasn’t until I saw how the Lord protected my son that I truly understood how God has kept watch over me and my loved ones. I could be called somewhat of a “helicopter mom” because of the way I have always watched over my son. That’s not my nature, but it is something I have learned because of his inordinate attraction to dangerous situations.

I suppose this can be said of many boys, but with my kid it seems like something more. It like there is an invisible force that means to do him harm. If I shared every harrowing encounter he has experienced, we would be here all day so I will just share a few examples. He nearly choked to death—thanks to God, he lived. He nearly drowned while swimming in a river when he was pinned under by the current—thanks to God, he still lives. Then there is his asthma—thanks to God, he is well.

I trust God’s Word to do exactly what He says in Psalm 121:7. Psalm 121:7 says, “The LORD will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life…” I need only reflect on the wonderful ways the Lord has kept this promise (even before I knew Him). What greater love is there than this? Only that He would lay His own life down for us that we may have eternal life.

Although our physical bodies may one day die, we can fully trust in God’s protection over our eternal lives if we have received salvation. If we accept Christ’s blood as payment for our sins, we can know that we will receive the promise of eternal life. God is full of love, true to His promises, and never lies. I pray your life and the life of your loved ones is anointed by the protection offered in Psalm 121:7 and that all of you accept His blood as payment for your sins that you all may receive eternal life. God bless!

*Draw Near exists to glorify God and help others draw near to Christ by providing free resources. Click here to learn more about God and here to access free Christian ebooks. Thanks for visiting. Stay blessed!

Curse of Childbirth

“To the woman he said, ‘I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
    with painful labor you will give birth to children….'” — Genesis 3:16

I became a Christian before I became a mother, which afforded me the opportunity to naively consider the above verse before I actually experienced it. One such unenlightened thought is this: Is it still a curse with the development of modern medicine?

My unlearned mind continued to question and explore the weight of this curse. Every mother had endured this pain. How painful could it really be? Many eager mothers continue to have multiple children even though birth control is readily available and effective. I have a pretty high pain tolerance and have endured various types of pain in my lifetime. I consider myself “tough.”

In the delivery room, my thoughts abruptly changed. Yes, pain in childbirth is still a severe curse. After all, you experience hours of painful contractions before an epidural can be administered (if you choose to get one). Yes, indeed! It is still a curse. For such a natural process, nothing quite seems to happen too naturally. How do all mothers make it thought that pain? I salute them all and confess it was my prideful thoughts.

As the Bible says in John 16:21, a woman does forget the pains of birth because of the joy that a child is born into the world. Sometimes the forgetfulness may not be immediate. It may happen after a mother has overcome the fears, surrenders to the sacrifices that must be made, and develops a relationship with her baby. Yet the joy is real and just as sure as the pain!

I reflect on the birth of my first child as such a miracle and blessing even though the process was cursed with pain. It was such a blessing, in fact, that I also chose to have a second child. We are now blessed with a family of four.

Over all of these thousands of years, the curse on Eve has not been lifted while the miracle of birth still triumphs over pain. I am equally convinced the curse of sin is death while the miracle of Christ’s sacrifice triumphs over the penalty of eternal punishment. God’s Word stands and—just as it says—not one stroke of it will disappear until everything is accomplished (Matthew 5:18).

I wrote this article to share my heart about God’s Word and my personal experiences. After reading it, I am realizing it could be intimidating to a mother who is pregnant for the first time especially if the mother is not in the perfect situation. For that reason, I want to encourage pregnant women that giving birth is the best decision and give you a link to a local group of special people who can help you in your circumstance. Contact Hand N Hand Pregnancy Help Center (Missouri) or a pregnancy help center in your area. There is no need to go through it alone. Joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5). Thanks for reading and  God bless!