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  FREE CCW POETRY CONTEST WINNERS: MODERN DAY DISCIPLE & S.T. MANN FREE CCW SHORT STORY CONTEST WINNER: EOWYN 
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WINNER of the FREE POETRY CONTEST
The Miracle in Me by Modern Day Disciple

There is a miracle pulsing within
once and for all
has dealt with my sin

There is a miracle
began with a tree
a manger
a stranger
glory to be

There is a miracle living today
still promises freedom 
for those on the fray

There is a miracle
He lives within me
to this very day
calms angry sea

I've walked with Him now
for many a year
He's still the Good Shepherd
driving out inner fear

He drives out wolves 
from without and within
this is my Saviour,
Jesus my friend.


The Prayer of the Maestro by S.T.Mann

Nine o’clock on a Sabbath day, the usual crowd shuffled in…;
Then an old man who I did not know…he sat near me…and lowered his chin
He looked like a vagrant and wino…not the kind we ever let in…;
Now we had the biggest and best church in town, but we had no room for him!
Was this bum here for a handout? Or maybe steal someone’s purse?
He was really getting me angry…I even heard myself curse!
Now I was long-time head elder…and I was proud mayor of our town;
No way would I let our worship…be ruined by some homeless clown!
So I started to signal an usher…to escort the old man away…
Then I heard his voice speak softly…he was beginning to pray!
He said ‘Abba…Daddy - I love You, thank You for leading me here!
If there’s some way that I can serve You today…just whisper it into my ear…’
[Do not judge according to appearance….John 7:24]
[Better is the poor who walks in his integrity than one who
is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.   Proverbs 19:1]

Then pastor cried out in a panic – ‘Frederick called and he can’t be here….
We need someone to play his organ….we need a volunteer!’
Silence gave way to grumbling…but no one dared even move…
Then the old man stood up…probably bored and ready to leave…
But he turned and walked up to the pulpit…he said ‘I’d be honored to play.’
‘Fred has the music’ moaned the pastor; ‘I don’t know what else to say…’
The old stranger nodded slowly…then he touched his heart…and his ear…;
And he said - ‘there’s no problem my brother…Yeshua’s put it ALL in here…’
Oh what a special worship…and what a lesson I learned on that day!
Now, whenever a new stranger appears in my path, I lower my chin…and I pray!
‘Abba, Daddy, I love You…thank You for leading me here!
If there’s some way that I can serve You today…just whisper it into my ear!’
‘Abba, Daddy, I love you…thank you for bringing this stranger here!
If there’s some way I can serve my new brother…just whisper it into my ear!’
 
[Be kind to one another with brotherly love,
in honor giving preference to one another…  Romans 12:10]
[…whoever desires to become great among you, let him be
your servant. Matthew 20:26]
 
For those of you who might  like a little melody with your lyrics,
might I suggest the popular tune from ‘Piano Man’ by billy joel…
 
© 2014 - S.T.Mann,  This story is offered under Creative Commons license; it is permissible to use the story as long as an attribution bio is included.
To comment on their poems, click here.
WINNERS of the FREE SHORT STORY CONTEST
Comfort in Ink by Eowyn

I was born in a library.

Naw. Not really.  But I could've been.

Books prominently populate my earliest memories.  Lots and lots of books.  Enough to fill a library several times over.

I remember snuggling into Dad's lap as he read aloud about a brown monkey and a man in a yellow hat.  Mom reading and re-read a perennial favorite, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. Also stories about a runaway bunny. Ferdinand the bull.  Green eggs and ham.  A secret garden.  A spider weaving webbed words. Mary Poppins, Cinderella, Aesop and Dorothy Gale.  So many others.


As far as "learning to read" goes, it seems I was born reading.   I suppose I received academic instruction at some point.  I just don't recall being "taught" to read.  In fact, I can't remember ever not reading.  It's like not breathing.

Weekly visits to the library with Mom added fuel to my bookish fire. I've long thought of the library as my "home away from home."  Many are the cozy hours and golden afternoons spent browsing the library stacks, meandering in and out of Dickens, Bronte, Dinesen, Eliot and Evans.  Finding new books or a new author is like unearthing buried treasure. To this day I prefer a good book - or even a mediocre one - to any other media. I am never as well content as when behind the pages of a good book.

Innings and Acts
Whenever I'm sitting down, I feel compelled to be reading something.  Anything.  Even the back of a cereal box.  I bring books to baseball games, to the chagrin of my kids.  I tell them I read between innings.  And I do.  I bring a book to the dentist's office, board meetings, ballet rehearsals.  If I anticipate a line at the post office, grocery store or bank, I bring a book.  Shoot, I usually bring a book even if I don't anticipate lines.  I've also been known to read between acts at the opera and until the house lights dim at the theatre.  An apt epitaph might be: "So many books, so little time..."

Like I said, not reading is like not breathing.

Equalibrium
Given my "birth place," it may not be surprising that I retreated to the local library following a recent loss. Cut off at the knees, rug ripped out from under me, I beat a path to the quiet company and open arms of some of my best friends from years past: Misty of Chincoteague. A little house on a prairie. Wendy and Peter.

You'd think the stories would all be fuzzy now, gray.  They're not!  They're as rich and vibrant and glowing as they were when I first creased their pages.  Still captivating.  Still delicious.  I feel that while I may have forgotten these books, their stories have not forgotten me.  When I open the cover and dive into their patient pages, I find they've been waiting for me.  Dear friends welcoming me back. Kindness and comfort in ink.

And I am home.

The Shower Prayer by S.T.Mann


It was never a goal of mine to be involved in a jail ministry.  Not for me.  I had no interest at all.  Then our loving Heavenly Father gave me one.  And He gave me the necessary passion.  And the wisdom.  And joy and enthusiasm.

In all of your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths…

The ministry began with just one person.  Within months, I was sending weekly mailings to over 120 inmates. This went on for years – inspirational stories, devotionals, humor.  To this day, I still communicate with a number of incarcerated folks. 

Well, you learn lots of things pretty quickly dealing with inmates – jail is a pretty grim place. Crowded, noisy, dangerous, dirty.  Not much contact with the outside world.  Not much chance of a better life upon release.  Not much to be encouraged by.  Not much humor.  And a very high ‘rate of return’ - nothing much is very often corrected when you’re a guest over at the department of corrections.

God, give us help from trouble, for the help of man is useless…
One of the first folks I dealt with was Michelle.  She was in the local jail for piddly drug related infractions.  Again.  She had grown up going to church and was very enthusiastic about receiving weekly devotionals encouraging her to walk with Jesus.  From someone she did not know, and someone who asked nothing in return.

I wrote to her for almost two years.  She was an avid student of mine, and it seemed like she was truly embracing Jesus, and living a new life.  I had high hopes for her.  When her sentence was up, she vowed she would stay on the path God had prepared for her.  And to keep in touch.

After Michelle’s release, she almost immediately disappeared from the radar. I didn’t hear from her for a long, long time.  Finally her letter came; the return address was the jail.  She said she did ‘really good’ for a while, but couldn’t find a job, didn’t find a church, and got in with the ‘wrong crowd’ (again) and was back in jail (again). 

I have gone astray like a lost sheep…
how I have hated instruction…I have not obeyed the voice of my teachers…
O God, You know my foolishness, and my sins are not hidden from You…
…the Lord has chastened me severely…
Michelle apologized profusely.  She begged me for another chance.  For me to forgive her and put her on my ‘active’ mailing list.  She said she treasured all my encouragement her previous time in jail, and even remembered her favorite mailing – ‘The Shower Prayer’.

Was I disappointed she had stumbled?  Of course I was!  Very!  But how could I not forgive her?  Had Jesus Himself not forgiven her from the cross??

I wrote and asked her to look at her life.  And her choices.  To consider Einstein’s quip - that the highest form of insanity is to keep doing things the same way, but to expect different results. 

I asked her if maybe she wasn’t fearing God in the right way, fear not being terror or fright, but rather a love and respect.  A reverence for His awesomeness and fearsome capabilities, but realizing that He loves us beyond our comprehension, giving His only Son for us!  And that He knows more about us than we know ourselves, for example how many hairs we have on our head!  Respecting that we will one day give an account of our lives and actions, causing us to obey, to depart from all appearance of evil.

The fear of the Lord is to hate evil…

…by the fear the Lord one departs from evil..

…the eyes of the Lord are in every place…

…each of us shall give account of himself to God

I told her to be encouraged, we are ALL a work in progress.  Each one of us.  None of us ever ‘arrive’ at a place in our journeys where we have become completely pleasing to God. And we all need to be studying God’s Word daily!!  I pointed out an essential difference between a non-believer and a believer - a non-believer stumbles and stays down;  a believer stumbles…and gets back up!

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus…

The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him…

Your Word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You…

Create in me a clean heart…and a steadfast spirit…

I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.

I also told her that I was impressed she remembered ‘The Shower Prayer’

Michelle wrote back, thanking me for my forgiveness, for giving her another chance, a chance not too many other folks were willing to give her.  And she wrote ‘It wasn’t that hard to remember the Shower Prayer.  She said ‘I liked it so much when I was here before, I thought all the girls could benefit, so I taped it to the mirror in the girls wash room.  And it is still there!’ Three years later!!

My Word that goes forth from my mouth shall not return to me void but it shall accomplish what I please and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it…
 
Help me with some math – say there are 100 inmates in Michelle’s jail.  Say the average stay is 3 months.  Say each inmate read the Shower Prayer…how may read it in 3 years?  Say each inmate read it each day for three years…how many times was it read?  Say one out of ten copied it down and took it home with them, and posted on the mirror in the washroom at home…

Be careful what you say and write!   None of us can anticipate the impact our words might have on others.  Or how many others are affected by those words.

The Shower Prayer –
 
Thank You, Jesus For this day!
Please clean my body in every way –
Internally, externally;
Mentally, physically;
Emotionally, spiritually;
Sexually, chemically;
in Jesus’ name…Amen!

(say this prayer all day long, every hour if you like! 
And especially as you take your morning shower
as you lather up;  after you finish the prayer,
rinse and watch all the dirt flush down the drain into the sewer!)
 
Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be white as snow…
c - 2010 - s.t.mann, creative commons license

To Comment on Their Work, Click Here.
Slam Poet, Nick Benoit - The Lord’s Prayer - RockHarbor Church - http://nickbenoit.tumblr.com
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