old promise still counting the stars
God makes promises. It's what he does.
I'll make you a great nation
and bless you.
I'll make you famous;
you'll be a blessing.
I'll bless those who bless you;
those who curse you I'll curse.
All the families of the Earth
will be blessed through you.
Genesis 12:2-3 MSG
Abram was seventy-five years old when God made this promise.
He (God) took him outside and said, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars---if indeed you can count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be."
Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
Genesis 15:5-6 NIV
Now when Abram was 99 years old, God sealed his promise with Abram, and gave him a new name, Abraham.
Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born.
Genesis 21:5 MSG
God Keeps his promises! It's what he does.
So, Isaac had a son, Jacob, and Jacob had twelve sons, and so on...God indeed made Abraham a great nation.
But the world wasn't such a great place and that hasn't changed. We still don't know how to get along with one another. We still make war with one another. We still kill one another. We can't help ourselves. It's called sin. It's in our DNA.
But God had a great plan. He had this plan from the beginning, even before the beginning. God would become one of us. He would become one of Abraham's Sons...
Jesus, The Son of God, was born to Abraham's great, great, great,.. granddaughter, Mary.
Jesus, The Son of God, came to save the world, and indeed he did!
Jesus, The Son of God, died on a cross for us so that we could be a son or daughter of God.
Jesus, The Son of God, came so that we could live forever with him in heaven.
It was a brilliant plan, with just one little catch...
Do you remember what Abram did, before he became Abraham, and started having all those kids?
Abram believed the LORD'S promise!!
And because of this belief, Abram was made right with GOD!
God also makes a promise to all of us!
God offers us eternal life with him, a free gift, we just need to open our hearts and believe and he will come in. He will make us sons and daughters of the King, not just any King, but the King of Kings!
Do you believe?
Life on earth will never be a bowl of cherries, but Jesus will be there with us in our joy, and in our sufferings. And when we die we will see his face. There will be no more suffering or tears in heaven. God says so, and God always keeps his promises!
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
John 3:16 NIV
Receive the Good News!!
PS: To all of my poet friends. Life Poems is open for submissions for the March issue. I am looking for poems that affirm life and celebrate the joys of living as sons and daughters of the King of Kings! Check submission guidelines on the Life Poems Page of this blog! I am looking forward to reading and publishing your poetry as a witness and encouragement to my readers.
PSS: Did you know that believers are also "Sons of Abraham," We are the spiritual sons and daughters, believers in the promised messiah, Jesus, The Son of God! Count the stars if you can...
Jesus sent his twelve harvest hands out with this charge:
"...Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables..."
Matthew 10:5-8 The Message
Jesus sends his workers to the neighborhood to take care of the neighbors. I don't have to go very far to find my neighborhood. Sometimes I don't even have to go out my front door...
My neighbors are the homeless, the hustlers, the drug addicts, the mentally ill, the lonely, the forgotten, the people next door. They populate the street corners, parking lots, office buildings, churches, medians along the highway.
I'm getting pretty good at delivering food, money, and prayer, at the medians. I never know how much time I'm going to have, sometimes enough to preach the Good News with lunch provided, sometimes just enough for a Jesus Pen hand off, through the car window, before the light changes...
The Kingdom is here and now and in it nothing is impossible! You don't always get everything you want, but you always get what you need!
"With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26 NIV
So go out into your neighborhood, take care of your neighbors. Heal the sick, raise the dead, show kindness to strangers, preach the gospel. You can do it all in Jesus' Name!
Jesus said so...
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life"
John 3:16 NIV
PS You can sign up for notification of my weekly blog posts on Beautiful Defect, and my monthly Journal, Life Poems, by clicking on More at the top of this page, and then Newsletter.
Thank you for reading. Until next week, Shalom, His peace be with you!
Kenny waits by the dumpster
for a couple of bucks&
john 3:16 hope
Susan Beth Furst
I have kept this poem since 2015, the year I started to write haiku. I have sent it out a few times, but it was never accepted for publication. Maybe it is just a well. The poem is about a friend I haven't seen in a long time. He used to stand in his spot, in the Walmart parking lot, and I would drive by with some dollar bills and a Jesus Pen or a gospel. Kenny was always happy to see me. We would talk about things, and he would hug me through the car window. He called me his angel. What he didn't know, was that he was my angel.
Then one day Kenny wasn't there anymore. I asked his friends but no one knew where he was. Eventually I just stopped asking. But I never forgot him, Kenny. If he is still alive I hope he is doing well. If not, I think he is in heaven, looking down on me, or maybe he is having too much fun, exploring the universe with Jesus by his side.
"Don't forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!"
Hebrews 13:2 NLT
Life is funny, you're here and then you're not. People come and go and it is never easy when they leave, especially when they die.
Albert Finney died yesterday. I loved him, even though I had never met him. I love his movies, especially Scrooge. It is one of my all time favorites. I remember my parents dragging me and my sisters kicking and screaming to the movie theater. I was fifteen and I didn't want to be seen with my mom and dad at the movies on a Friday night. But I got over it real fast. The movie was Brilliant! The music was Brilliant! Albert Finney was Brilliant!
One of my favorite lines from the movie is strangely appropriate on the occasion of his passing.
"Remember Scrooge, Time is short, and suddenly you're not there, anymore!"
The Ghost of Christmas Present
We would all do well to remember that.
For Albert Finney, I shall miss you...
at the movie theatre
Thank you very much...
One last thing. The Hope.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life."
John 3:16 NLT
The New Living Translation of the Bible is very readable and easily understood. I highly recommend it!
Until next week...
PS Check out "Life Poems," on this blog. I am open for submissions of haiku, haibun, or short poems which celebrate the inherent value of life, inside and outside of the womb. Guidlines are on the Life Poems Page. Thank you!
One day, they just stopped
Then they took it off the shelves.
I found it forty years later,
in a bin
in the back
of a used record store.
I play it
in the dark,
spinning the sound
In 1974 Seals and Crofts recorded the song, Unborn Child. It spoke about abortion. One day the radio stations stopped playing it. When I looked for it in the record store I couldn't find it. It was boycotted, I would say banned. It disappeared overnight and the voices supporting life were silenced.
My heart has been heavy this week. The news of the abortion bill, passed in New York, and the one introduced in Virginia, took me back to my senior year in high school. It was 1973, the year Roe v Wade became law. I couldn't understand how we as human beings could sanction the taking of human life in the womb. I don't understand it now, especially now. We've come a long way, and in the wrong direction.
I have been silent all of these years. It is time to speak. I am coming out. I am pro-life. That's all. No lecture. No sermon. Just the Good News. Jesus loves you and so do I.
We are special:
"For you formed my inward parts, you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made."
Psalm 139: 13 ESV
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you..."
Jeremiah 1: 4 ESV
We are sinners:
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
Romans 3: 23 NIV
We can be forgiven:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."
1 John 1: 9 NIV
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
John 3: 16 NIV
Jesus is the gift. It is up to you, only to open your heart, and believe.
My Sin Story...
Jesus came into my life when I was very young. I can't remember a time when I did not know him. I was eight years old. My family was on vacation and we were attending church. But this church was a little different than my Lutheran, Jesus loves me, all is well with my soul, church, (not that there's anything wrong with that). The pastor was praying and we all had our heads bowed. The pastor asked if anyone had ever sinned...
"But I already know Jesus," I thought.
"But they are little sins, surely I'm not that bad..."
Then the pastor said that everyone would have their eyes closed, so no one would see if anyone raised their hand.
Well, I started to feel a little bit more comfortable with the idea of admitting that I was a sinner, and God already knew that if I didn't raise my hand I would be telling a lie, so...
My hand shot up like a bat out of, well you know...
What happened next is something that everyone who is, or ever was, a member of a Baptist church is familiar with.
The Great I Gotcha!!
The Pastor, the one who assured me that if I raised my hand everyone would have their eyes closed, neglected to tell me that if I raised my hand, I would also be called up to the front of the church, and everyone would have their eyes very much opened.
Mom gave me a look...
Dad walked up with me. I remember him telling the pastor that I already knew Jesus, but I got a packet of papers or something, anyway,
as a souvenir...
I tell you this story because it was the first time I remember ever admitting that I was a sinner.
And it felt good.
I think the pastor may have had to admit a little sin (of omission) that day too.
Everyone sins. We can't help ourselves. It's in our DNA.
But the day you meet Jesus, the Son of God, the one who took your sin on his back, so that you could live with him forever. That is a happy day.
A Happy Day Indeed!!
"We all die," she told herself, "sooner or later."
And she cried.
"The sharp colors hurt my eyes,"
The jade plant leaned toward the window, to suck up all the light, leaving a soft amber glow in the shadows.
"Perhaps that is where the healing is," she thought, "perhaps it has been there all along."
I lost a friend yesterday. Although we had never met, I knew her through her poetry and the pictures that she colored when she was depressed. She called it color therapy. Rachel was a kind and sensitive person. Her poetry was beautiful and hopeful, and her pictures were too. I am sad when I think that I won't see them anymore.
I look for the colors
you left behind
So what do you do with that hole in your heart?
"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed."
Isaiah 53:5 NIV
Jesus was, is, and always will be our healer. He heals us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. He healed us when He lived among us, He healed us when He died on a cross bearing our sin as His own, and He healed us once and for all when He said "It is finished."
Jesus was buried, but not for long. On that third day, He rose again. His tomb was and is still empty! And we, as believers, will live again!
And no, the disciples did not steal his body, do you think they could have fought off a Roman guard and rolled a two ton stone away from the grave, and then carried a dead body with one hundred pounds of embalming spices without anyone seeing them, ...to where?
They thought that it was the end when Jesus died, they didn't know he was gonna get back up out of that grave.
They were wanted men, a threat to the religious establishment, a threat to the Roman empire...
All they wanted to do was fade into the woodwork and go back to fishing...
But Jesus had other plans...
"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"
John 11:25-26 NKJV
That is the question...
What about the Jade plant? Take a close look. It has seen better days. It is scarred and beaten and yet it has life. And just as it sucked up all of the light producing a place of healing, a soft amber glow, so does Jesus. The one who was, and is, and is to come. The one who is eternal.
So be happy! When death comes knocking at your door, and you can be sure that he will, spit in his eye. Because Jesus came to Save, and when you believe in Him you will live forever!
dancing with colors
I can only imagine
Until next week,
PS Oh death, where is your sting?
Didn't I tell you?
all you gotta do is call
Nothing can separate us from the love of God!
hangin' out with
the usual suspects
In the most unlikely places
I saw this in the grocery store last night. Keith Richards on the magazine rack and Jesus less than a yardstick away. I knew I had been given a gift, so I grabbed my camera and started taking pictures. There was a haiku in there somewhere.
It came to me fast, the imaginary conversation between Keith and Jesus. Actually the conversation was pretty much one-sided, but when God speaks, it is usually polite to just be quiet and listen. And what did Jesus say?
"I am here, even if you can't see me because I'm three magazines to your left, and we are both facing forward." (Of course Jesus can see everything, all the time, but that's neither here nor there). "Just call me, Keith! When you are ready! I can hear you, even without a phone!"
Of course I'm joking...
Jesus is everywhere, all the time, 24/7. And he is ready to listen. Really, all you have to do is call. A simple, "Jesus help!"
And you don't even have to speak. He knows your thoughts. But don't worry, there are a lot of people who have worse thoughts than you. In fact when it comes to bad thoughts we are all pretty much in the same trash can.
Jesus came to save us.
That is what He wants us to know.
So, if the world is getting a little heavy on your shoulders,
If life seems crazy and you wonder why you are here,
Ask the one who knows.
He will show you the straight path. It's really not so bad. In fact once you are on it, you won't want to leave.
Jesus loves you!
Bad thoughts and all!
He is here to take them, and then some!
All you have to do is call!
Oh, the usual suspects...
Jesus came to save the lost, the sick, and the broken. That is all of us, even those who seem to have it all together. Jesus knows, remember what I said about him knowing your thoughts...
Jesus was notorious for hanging out with alcoholics, junkies, working girls, the IRS people, even Kings and higher-ups in the government. He also hung with average joes, women :o , and children. And last but not least, the religious leaders of the day.
And if you're telling the truth, we all fit in at least one of those categories.
So, If you need help, he's waiting...
"For God so loved the word that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
PS This is really good news...
Jesus in the room
I count my blessings
covered in prayer&
day nine / new year's pneumonia
I've been sick in bed with pneumonia for almost two weeks now. New Year's Day it hit me. No warning. Within a few hours, a cough, chills, and a fever. Blindsided. And I had so many plans. I was ready this year. Ready to get my doctors in order, my writing in order, my house in order...
What do you do? Nothing. Really. I could barely keep my eyes open.
The first week was a blur. Day eight, I had a thought about what I wanted for breakfast. Improvement. Day thirteen, I am up and dressed (Pajama casual), cooking (instant oatmeal), writing (a little), and watching a bit of TV. I still have trouble keeping my eyes open.
The thing is that I should've/could've gotten my pneumonia shot last year. My doctor highly recommended it, in fact he insisted, but I said no, for good reasons I might add, which I'll not go into here.
"I'll never get pneumonia," I thought.
The best-laid plans...
(Robert Burns is my new favorite poet)
So what do you do when there is nothing you can do?
What I haven't mentioned about being sick with pneumonia for two weeks is that I was really afraid. I was afraid that I would never get well, or that maybe I would die. I am almost 64 years old you know, stranger things have happened.
When fear takes over, your imagination can run wild, and not in a good way.
So what do you do?
I turn to the Word.
Because Jesus knew that Satan uses fear to attack people. In fact, He was always telling people, his disciples mostly, not to be afraid.
There was the incident when Jesus was walking on the water and Peter and company thought He was a ghost!
Fear can paralyze. Fear can torment. Fear can keep you stuck in a place you don't want to be. Fear can keep you from getting well.
Jesus came to set us free from fear. He is stronger than fear. He is stronger than anything Satan can throw at you. Including pneumonia...
So when I am afraid I let go of that fear and Freefall. I imagine God's hands stretched out underneath me and I know he will catch me. He hasn't missed yet!
"The spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free..."
Luke 4: 18
There is something about Jesus announcing good news to the poor and freedom to the prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind and the lifting of the oppressed. Jesus can do it. Jesus did it and he does it today. All you have to do is open you hand and take the gift of freedom and life that He offers.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."
Have a good week!
PS Luke 4:18 was written especially for me. I know this because my birthday falls on April 18. Not a coincidence. What is your birthday verse? ;)
midwinter moon: a collection of Christmas haiku
By susan beth furst
January 6th is the day Christians around the world celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany,
Wise men came from the east to Jerusalem asking where the King of the Jews was to be born, because they had seen his star in the sky and had come to worship him. King Herod let them in on an ancient Jewish prophecy; that Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem. But Herod had ulterior motives. He asked the wise men to return to him when they found Jesus so that he could worship him too. Of course worship was not what King Herod had in mind for this new little threat to his throne.
The wise men continued their journey to Bethlehem and when they found the baby Jesus it was revealed to them that he was not only King of the Jews, but King of all mankind. Jesus was God Incarnate. It was also revealed to them not to return to Herod for he wanted to kill the child and so they departed another way to their own countries.
Matthew Chapter 2
That's it in a nutshell! Epiphany is all about revelation. In this case a revelation of God sized proportions!
January 6th is special for another reason. It was the day my husband and I met for the first time, at IHOP. Today is the eleven year anniversary of that meeting. I learned many things that day. Herb's mother and my mother had the same birthday. He also had the same first name of my favorite Uncle, Herb.
How many Herbs do you know?
I learned other things too. Herb's mom was from Poland and his dad was from Latvia. They were both holocaust survivors...
Well, it was an auspicious night, and eleven years and ten years of marriage later, we are still learning things.
This morning, I realized that our anniversary and Epiphany were on the same date. This was a revelation to me. I wanted to know if Epiphany fell on January 6th every year, so I did a little research, and yes it does.
January 6th is now officially Epiphany and The Furst's First Date Day.
So what about the dog barking?
I learned that in Latvia, if you hear a dog bark on Epiphany Day and look in the direction of the dog, you will see your future spouse.
Hmmmm, I might be stretching it a bit, but it was on Epiphany Day that I first saw my future spouse. We were at IHOP, not the one in Latvia of course, and there weren't any dogs around, but....
Just one more thing. As I said I am a Lutheran Christian and my husband is a Jewish believer. I was baptized, born and raised in the Lutheran church. Actually, I was born in Shadyside hospital, but it was very close to the Lutheran church. Herb went to Hebrew school, was bar mitzvah'd at thirteen, and attended synagogue.
But he was born in Baltimore Lutheran Hospital...
Or maybe it was just meant to be...
Waiting... This is my first haiku of the new year. It is a one word photo-haiku, so there is a lot of empty space to fill in. I invite you to ponder my poem and photograph, fill in the blanks, and discover what waiting means to you...
A New Year's Blessing: Three of my haiku were published today in Failed Haiku: A Journal of English Senryu, edited by Michael Rehling.
a little night music the frogs fill the pond
parking-lot puddle the birds go all in
made in Japan
the pine tree missing...
Thank you Mike!
It is a good way to start the New Year...
I would like to wish all of you a Happy New Year filled with all good things and His Peace.
PS Time flies hold onto your hat...
The Princess and the Pearl: A Cautionary Haibun
Lily’s father took her to the Oyster House every Saturday. They sat at the small tables, on wobbly chairs, and ordered oysters and buttermilk. Lily liked hers with hot sauce and vinegar. She liked her buttermilk with three shakes of black pepper. Vintage photos of Miss America contestants lined the wall behind them. Boozy old men sat at the bar drinking beer and shots of whiskey.
funnel clouds on the horizon spinning shades of gray
One Saturday, Lily had a feeling that something extraordinary was going to happen.
“Perhaps this will be the day that I find my pearl,” she thought.
When the waiter brought the oysters to the table, Lily couldn’t decide which one to choose. So, she closed her eyes, made a wish, and picked the fat one on the right. She sank her teeth into the vinegar-laced breading. As it melted on her tongue, she felt something hard scrape against her tooth. Holding her breath and being very careful not to swallow, she extracted a rather large oddly-shaped yellow pearl.
“I found it! I found my pearl!” Lily squealed.
free fall she steps into her red high heels
Lily’s father let out a loud laugh and the boozy old men turned and stared. The Miss Americas stared back. The bartender came out from behind the bar, drying his hands on his dingy white apron. He looked at the pearl and held it up to inspect it.
“I’ve never seen a pearl quite this color before,” he announced, as he buffed it with his dish rag. “And it’s so large and bumpy. I’m sure there’s not another one like it! You must have it made into a ring!”
the wizard behind the curtain smoke and mirrors
Suddenly the bar came alive. There were oohs and ahs from the old men. The bartender puffed out his chest. And everyone was talking about Lily and her pearl. She felt like a Princess. The Miss Americas continued to stare from the back wall. They knew what it was like to be a princess, to find your pearl and to lose it. But Lily was too young and too excited to notice them. She was too busy thinking about that ring and how she was going to find her Prince.
still searching somewhere along the yellow brick road
by Susan Beth Furst
The Fredericksburg Literary & Art Review Spring & Summer 2018
How is your Sunday? I hope you are taking time to rest and relax. When God created the world he set aside a day to rest, not because he needed it, but for us. It is a tough world out there so I hope you will take this time to rest and enjoy your family and the day.
A scripture of hope should you need some;
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
in my own words....
Susan Beth Furst is a poet, author, painter, and photographer. She loves to write haiku and she Loves to tell people about Jesus.