Category Archives: Poetry

God Our Fortress

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

Troubles will come in this life, of that we can be sure. How sweet then is the assurance that God is our refuge? When the flood threatens, when the night is darkest, retreat in blessed certitude and holy confidence that God is our fortress, our protection from the raging storm. The psalmist lifts our hearts and calms our fears, for not only is God our refuge, but our strength as well. Therefore, our predicament is never hopeless, for we place our hope in the God who cannot fail. We hide not in weakness, but strength, surrounded by the presence of our Heavenly Father. In the very moment when trouble finds us, He is there.

I am reminded of the classic hymn, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God. Martin Luther penned this beautiful hymn circa 1529 during a time of great personal turmoil. Translated into scores of different languages from the original German, “Ein’ feste Burg ist unser Gott”, Luther’s words have encouraged Christians for hundreds of years. They still stand true today.

A mighty fortress is our God,
A Bulwark never failing;
Our Helper He amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great,
And armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side,
The Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth His Name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim,
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For lo! his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers,
No thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Through Him who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also;
The body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still,
His Kingdom is forever!

May the words of the psalmist impart to us great courage, and may the words of this hymn resound in our hearts ever reminding us that “A Mighty Fortress is Our God!” Amen.

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel

The Suffering King

Matt McCarty shared this poem recently with our Cornerstone Care Group. I was so blessed, I requested a copy so that I could not only re-read and digest the words slowly, but also so that I could post it here on Gospel Apprentice. Hope you are blessed as well!

By His Grace and for the Gospel,

-by Matthew McCarty

In blood with screams of agony
This King sustains last mortal breath
As pain wrecked frame fights violently
To give his failing lungs a rest

But nails and crown shaped thorns impede
All efforts thus to bring relief
And skin unwrapped to nerve and meat
Boasts pain too real to mount this feat

So slowly sinks His body down
To rest upon those dreadful spikes
With last of strength He looks round
Till gaze unveils what seeks His eyes

I can’t believe or comprehend
But those tear soaked eyes have fixed on me
Ashamed I try to hide the sin
That all this while did bring me glee

But all is seen, my all is bare
For light and truth has proven wise
To show the beauty my heart did sneer
And pain wrought sacrifice despise

And so the shame my soul does feel
Finds deeper depth and further reach
But eyes and gaze are on me still
While lips contort and start to speak

What falls upon my ready ears
Are things that words cannot convey
Things that bring my heart to tears
Things that beckon me to stay

For the King upon this bloodstained cross
As pure and spotless as a lamb
Claims all this torture is no loss
Says through it and by, perfect I am

It cannot be my soul proclaims
For in this hour I loved my sin
As you were scourged in dreadful pain
And your body hung with wicked men

But says He firm, through bloodcrust lips
Know that t’was for this very hour
I came to climb this hill and fix
Your sin and heart so do not cower

For all your sin is cast on me
To delight My Father My soul to crush
That all be nailed into this tree
That you become His righteousness

My knees then fasten to the ground
And fingers clutch His nail pierced step
And through my sobs a booming sound
The King proclaims

But for Christ’s Blood

How oft do we condemn when Christ would not?
Is it more than repentance we require
as if the perfect work that He has wrought
suffices not to save us from the fire?

How is it that we refuse to forgive?
Dare we ask for more than His sacrifice?
Are we more righteous than He who would cleanse?
Yet, we cast the first stone, quick to chastise.

Why do we turn from the beauty of Him,
preferring darkness to One Right and Fair
and fixing our eyes on weakness and sin,
shamelessly feast on transgression laid bare?

Are we not sinners redeemed at great cost,
and but for Christ’s blood yet hopeless and lost?

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel

My Father Knows

“Look, I go forward, but He is not there, And backward, but I cannot perceive Him; When he works on the left hand, I cannot behold Him; When He turns to the right hand, I cannot see Him. But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold…”  (Job 23:8-10)


Beneath the Cloak

by Terrie van Baarsel 

The weight and woe
The desperate lack of vision
God’s Mercy
His love
Hidden within the folds
Of a burial cloth

Pressed down
A man’s soul bleeds
He hears God’s voice
As silence
Only echoed
Even as
Divinely appointed
His Maker’s face
But, the man
Is seen

Clarity of Grace
A brilliant
Of glorious hope
Births faith
“My Father knows the way I take.”
A sublime expectancy
A burning away
A throwing off
A revelation

Beneath the cloak

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