Written and photographed by Kathryn Kircher - Heartland Church - Fort Wayne, IN
Emptied to Be Filled
Chosen chalice, holy grail,
Earthen vessel, sin abated,
You deign to fill me with Yourself:
Common cup now elevated.
Emptied often by exhaustion,
Bruised by stress, depleted, torn,
Expended, poured out, parched, and arid,
By daily cares dried up and worn.
Frightened by my frail condition,
Tempted to old ways turn back,
But emptiness contains Your promise:
Satisfaction amidst lack.
Emptied to be filled again:
Will I resist this vulnerable state?
Or will I turn to seek Your face,
Let You, my King, this craving slake?
Bounteous table laid before me,
Living waters flood my cup.
Why would I turn from festal fare,
Let broken cisterns fill me up?
That brackish brew will never do
When all of heav’n’s abundance waits.
Choose life, my soul! Let Him supply!
Your emptiness He’ll richly sate.
“. . . that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:19b
Song: Christ is Enough - https://youtu.be/V9fTw9MLKAo
Why use a teapot to illustrate this poem? Well, a traditional clay teapot from China or Japan evokes the benefits of allowing Father to fill us with His living water rather than the brackish brew that comes from our broken cisterns (Jeremiah 2:13). When seasoned by repeated brewing of the same type of tea, these lovely little unglazed teapots begin to take on a rich, smooth patina. They also absorb the oils from the tea over time, which ultimately enhances and enriches the flavor of tea brewed in them. Increasingly, they resemble what has been poured into—and over—them. That sounds like the Lord’s living waters flowing over, through, and in us: beautifying, filling, and transforming us.
Written by Cameron Miller - Heartland Church - Fort Wayne, IN
Photographer: Rhonda Logan-Bailey
“Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b NIV
Our city was hit with a raging thunderstorm the other night, featuring drenching rain, hail, and winds as strong as a Category II hurricane. But it was the lightning that got to me. Constant flashes and booming thunder increased until one struck right next to our house. The power surge tripped some of our circuit breakers, fried our router, and even sent our smoke alarms into a tizzy for a couple seconds. My wife and I had hairs standing on end that had nothing to do with the electrical charge in the air. The storm was getting more intense; would another bolt strike even closer? There was a smell like burning or ozone in the air. What had it done to our house? Was there an electrical fire somewhere in our walls? Was that smell something toxic in the air?
And yet, through all the chaos, one member of our household was fast asleep: our three-year- old. He was in the deep slumber that comes only to someone who is utterly convinced that everything is under control and there's nothing to worry about. As I went into his room to make sure he was still alive, I saw how peacefully he lay there. I wouldn't be sleeping anytime soon. I might have had that kind of peace and serenity when I was his age, but not anymore. Is this just something that we outgrow?
Well, I know one person who maintained that sense of peace and confidence: Jesus. I’d bet the storm He slept through was at least as intense as the one I experienced, and he did it in a small boat that was tossed about on the waves to the point where the seasoned sailors aboard feared for their lives. Where did Jesus' sense of peace come from? Exhaustion from the duties of his ministry? That was no doubt part of it. But I'm sure that just as my son was sure that he could sleep easily knowing his mama and dada had everything under control, Jesus also slumbered knowing that His heavenly Father was watching over Him. And, unlike my son, Jesus' faith was grounded in the truth. I’m going to keep seeking out that peace so the next time storms blow, I’ll have something that can’t be tossed by the waves or vaporized by lightning.
Prayer: God, grant me the faith to trust You no matter what, knowing that anything that comes my way has to get through Your hands first and that there’s nothing You won’t do for the good of those You love.
Written by Fr. Dale Minor - Reclaim Ministry - Rutland, OH
“Grandpa, tell me a story about when you were a kid,” might be a request some of us
more elderly citizens have heard from our grandchildren, at least from the younger
ones amongst us. Once they get to be preteens, just the hint of a story rising from the
lips of the older generation produces a rolling of the eyes preliminary to a quick exit to escape the boredom of hearing for the umpteenth time some exaggerated adventure involving the “good old days.”
Yet, there will come a time in their lives when these young folks will long to hear these stories. Tthey will search their memories for details of family lore and ask their relatives to fill in the blanks and their longing isn’t so much for the entertainment value of the story, but for the wisdom contained within it.
We live in an information age; so much information can be found at our fingertips. We carry it around in our iPhones and other electronic devices. It is before us to the point that printed maps, operation and repair manuals, personal letters, even printed books are fast becoming obsolete. Instead, if we desire information on
anything, we grab our device, click on an icon or two and, within seconds, we have more information than we want or need. But the problem is this information comes in short sound bites, in abbreviated texts. It’s as if the sum of our knowledge and wisdom has been reduced to an index of topics which tend to be ignored more than
When we consider the accumulated knowledge in our world, we come to realize that so much of what we know came from stories handed down generation to generation. Prior to the mid fifteenth century, little was written down and only a very few could read what was written. Oral tradition had been and would continue to be the primary means for the spread of wisdom and knowledge. This was particular true in matters of faith and religion.
“For He (God) established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children; that the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children, that they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God; but keep the commandments.” (Ps. 78:5-7)
This is just one of hundreds of verses in the Bible which instruct us to teach the word of God and His precepts from generation to generation. What is to be taught is more than tales of old but truths to be believed and concepts to be lived. As we study scripture, we hear over and over again how this process of knowledge
worked, that not only the accumulated wisdom was passed along, but the finer details of times past. The Bible contains hundreds of genealogies, listings of people, places and occurrences important to the development of each generation. It was done because God deemed it important. He instructed the fathers to tell their sons, and the sons to tell their children to the present age. In giving these instructions, he was asking that they do more than transfer information, but they must interact with those who will carry on God’s work, that they share the character of God: His wisdom, His love, kindness, generosity, and mercy.
Anyone who has studied the Bible knows that just reading it doesn’t reveal the fullness of the message. It has to be discussed, torn apart, examined, re-read, and experienced. This is a task which will take a lifetime and, in the process, we learn that having read and heard the word of God doesn’t satisfy. It has to be shared and the most effective means of sharing it is in living it and in its demonstration.
“Grandpa, tell me a story about Jesus.”