Thursday, October 14, 2010

San Antonio's Rose

Many years ago, Ray Jones came to FBC Pelham and led worship for a revival. He brought along a keyboard man named Eric Solar.

Eric was H.I.V. positive, and my first thought when told about that was what the church's reaction would be to that fact. I was Deacon Chairman at the time, and feared what the reactions of some might be.

God took all of maybe 15 seconds to convict me mightily about that. And that led, three days later, to my first what-I'd-call face-to-face encounter with Jesus.

And with my own guilt for what was done to Him.

My response to all that was to write an acrostic poem for Eric. It follows, and please note that the first letter of each line spells out his name.


Even through Seasoning bittersweet
Rejoicing comes in fullness true
I see my sin, despise my faults
Christ shapes my heart anew.

San Antonio's rose, for but a season
Overwhelms my soul; God knows.
Love lifts the veil, reveals the reason
A view of God's own Broken Rose
Rejoice, rejoice, oh my soul

Eric died perhaps a year later. I still have his tapes, and still owe him for being a catalyst in one of the bigger life-changing experiences I've known.

Rest well, Eric.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Two Brothers

About 12 years ago, my brother phoned one day to tell me he'd been diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer. They'd caught it rather late, and he subsequently called to tell me they couldn't get it all out. It was, in his words, terminal.

Within the same week, Clarence Stone, a good friend from church, was also diagnosed with terminal cancer. So, my brother and my "brother" fought their killer along similar paths, though separate by perhaps 1,000 miles.

The differences, my brother a converted Jew, and Clarence a born-again Christian, sparked the following poem, which I had the privilege of reading at Clarence's funeral:


I have two brothers who come to mind
As I sit and stare .. and then I find
I love them both as God loves me
But very, very differently

One of them is flesh and blood
We wrestled, fought, and played in mud
As mom and dad observed our noise…
And watched their sons stop being boys

One sunny day we left their side
Each had his separate train to ride
I went South and Art went East
We seldom visited, to say the least

But even though the miles were long
The love of brothers continued strong
Until this day when I’m sad to say
He’s yet, the sinner’s prayer, to pray.

The other guy I see in church
And he’ll not be left in the lurch
For when that heavenly trumpet sounds
Ol’ Clarence heads for higher grounds!

And that’s the sad part, don’t you see
Forgiveness like God’s given me
Has not enfolded Brother Art
And when this life he does depart

I fear his face I’ll never see
And he will never visit me
For where I’ll be he cannot go
The bible, sadly, tells me so

But as for Clarence, him I’ll see
For the same grace God had given me
He’s given Clarence in the past
When from his broken heart he asked

That God would save, for Jesus’ sake
His soul, and then his life would take
And make it into something sweet
That ends with Clarence at Christ’s feet.

So what’s the difference, now, my friend?
It’s how their lives will finally end
They both endure the same disease
But the difference shows in who they please

For Clarence serves the King of Kings
And gladly tells of all the things
The King has done and yet will do
For every single me and you

If we will do as he has done
And trust our being to the One
Who saves and helps and sets us free
Of things that keep us from that tree

Where blood and grace came streaming down
And made that mountain hallowed ground
Where brother Art, would he but ask
Could find a freedom from his past

Of sin and shame and darkness deep
That damns us to eternal sleep
Where fire and brimstone do abound
And we cannot travel to that ground

Where peace for all was given out
And joyful people sing and shout
Of Him Who saved us by His grace
And gave us victory in this race.

I fear that Art has no such joy
For while I found God, as just a boy
My Brother Art did no such thing
And, I’m afraid, will never sing

Of Jesus love and grace so free
That wraps His arms round you and me
I pray that Art is saved, at last
But I’ll not know, ‘til life is past.

So now it’s up to you and me
Which brother are you going to be?
The one who’ll sing no joyful songs?
Or the one who to our God belongs?

The choice is up to you, dear friend
For only you will know the end
Which punctuates your time on earth
And puts a value on the worth

Of what you live and how you touch
And finally reveal how much
Of God you carried on your way
Each precious hour, each precious day.