*Poem and artwork by Eric Verbovszky


Entrenched in our churches,
walls we’ve built in our searches,
they’ve become our perches.

Not crossing valleys,
stuck in our alleys,
on our way to our rallies.

Afraid of the fog,
drunk from our grog,
aghast at braving the bog,
staggering in our own smog.

Content in our jest,
we call others possessed,
with ourselves most impressed.

we’re benched,
unable to wrench,
only serving to quench.

Hearts to the Spirit
– a spear right into it –
churches have to submit.
We must commit.
We have to admit.

Though the circus enticed,
the grog and the fog must be sliced.
They simply do not suffice.
They’re not valuably priced.
Our focus must solely be Christ.

God gives us the dove,
with license to love,
a power from above,
to take off the gloves.

so others can know.

no fear to seem weak.

words everywhere.

shepherd the countryside.

the Spirit will reach.





A Prayer at the Feet of Jesus

In the desert,
on the foundation of Jesus,
bowed before his feet.

His feet in front of me,
my hands on Jesus’ feet.

Jesus, help me to be your feet.
Jesus, help me to go, as your feet go.
Jesus, help me to be humble,
so that I may be a servant of you.

Jesus, help me to trust that as I go,
you will be with me.
Help me to trust that as I go,
you will prepare the way.

Psalm 93 Reflection

“The Lord is king, he is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed, he is girded with strength.  He has established the world; it shall never be moved; your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting.  The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring.  More majestic than the thunders of mighty waters, more majestic than the waves of the sea, majestic on high is the Lord!  Your decrees are very sure; holiness befits your house, O Lord, forevermore.” – Psalm 93

A rock in God’s ocean,
a rock shaped, formed, and eroded in God’s power and patience.
A pillar, sculpted by the wind and water of his Spirit.
A pillar, an example pointing to God.

Sitting on Christ’s stone foundation,
a foundation shaped and flattened against the desert sands,
a refuge in the apparent wild.

Will you seek him?
Will you ask to enter into his presence?
Will you be present to meet him?
Will you be humble before him?

Sitting on Christ’s foundation,
silent in solitude with Jesus,
meditating, praying, enjoying the company of Christ.

Yet your arms become heavy,
your legs encased in stone,
your body unable to move,
formed as a statue in the wilderness,
a rock for all eternity to see.
A pillar meditating on Jesus Christ.

Unable to move without Christ’s release,
only able to deeply breathe the peace of Christ’s Spirit,
your muscles are encased in the statue’s stone.
Your heart beats.
Your blood flows.
A subtle anxiety courses in your heart.
A nervousness beats in your body,
trapped by the stone Christ has encased you in.

“What is the meaning of this?”
You ask Jesus.
“If there is a lesson in this, please let me know.”
You say to Jesus.

Jesus smiles.
The Spirit’s presence glows bright.
A moment passes in the desert sand’s silence.
Your anxious heart beats faster.

“All you must do is rest in my presence,
and I will take care of you.”

“Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”

A test of faith.
A lesson in patience.
An exercise in giving up control.

The future uncertain,
but trusting God with everything that will come.

“Help me have faith.”
You say to Jesus.
“Help me learn to wholly rest in you.”
You ask Jesus.
“Help me trust in your sovereignty and love.”
You pray to Jesus.

Slowly, you are released.
Patiently, your cocoon disappears.
Yet with the challenge given to your heart, mind, and soul.
The challenge to rest given to you.

The power of God – his authority and sovereignty greater than the oceans that shape the earth.
The waters that build, erode, destroy, create, and give life.
He is even greater.

You are a rock, shaped by his oceans, eroded by his waves.
The strength of the stone built up,
the weakness sheared off,
weathered away by time spent in his presence,
in the power of his waters.
His ocean is shaping you into the pillar he needs you to be.
Resting in him forms you into the pillar you are to become.
He is the ocean.
You are the rock at his edge,
shaped so that others will see his work.

Others come, seeking God’s ocean,
seeing the meditating, praying individual at the sea’s edge,
powerfully pointing to his work.
Solitary, silent, humble before God.
A servant, yet a marker for who he is.
Unwavering, shaped and moved only by the power of God’s waters.

To be a pillar of God, a rock shaped and weathered by him alone, one who towers, demonstrates, and points to God as one of his saints, one must first learn to rest in silence and stillness before his power and truth, before the raw force of an ocean crashing against the rough and rocky crags, sharpened cliffs, and heavy boulders of the stone formations at the edge his shore.

Psalm 55 Reflection


“Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me.” – Psalm 55:1-2a

“My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen on me.  Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me.  I said, ‘Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!  I would fly away and be at rest.  I would flee far away and stay in the desert; I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.’” – Psalm 55:4-8

“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.  But you, God, will bring down the wicked into the pit of decay; the bloodthirsty and deceitful will not live out half their days.  But as for me, I trust in you.” – Psalm 55:22-23

Sitting at the stone desert circle,
the fire burns on its pillar.
The smoke rising, the embers burning,
the fire is small,
yet burns with strength and eternal endurance.

I stand up from the bench on which I am sitting,
from looking intently upon God’s fire,
and look to the horizon.

Dark clouds, heavy with rain,
envelop the barren horizon.
The sky is thick and grey.

From the distance, over the expanse,
across the dirt, sand, shrubs, and rocks,
I smell the rain.
Humidity presses against my skin.

Amid the empty desert,
secure on God’s stone foundation,
I watch the sky grow dark.
I wait upon the impending storm to assail our position.

The fire burns bright and strong,
the Spirit’s flame distinguished against the darkening sky,
contrasted against the impending battery of rain, wind, and thunder.

The storm is upon us.
Rain pummels the desert sand.
Wind beats the brush against the dirt.
Thunder breaks overhead.
Lightning flares in rage across the now blackening sky.

Water rises against the foundation.
The desert, a black ocean,
with waves darkened like oil,
emerging from the depths of the earth.

The wind riles the ink-like, glimmer-less water,
agitating it into madness,
enjoining it to rise, towering above us;
in the storm’s ire, charging it to crash against us.

The sky coal, the water oil,
the earth dark and outraged,
there is no light to look upon but God’s fire.

Its flame burns tall into the sky,
swelling in intensity,
point by point,
matching the storm’s ferocity, strength, and violence.

The stone foundation,
inundated in the storm,
is washed of its desert sand,
its true character and integrity revealed.

Standing upon the rock, peering to its edge,
I see the eternal abyss below,
haunting the depths of the water’s surface.

Fear enters my mind.
Possibilities emerge from its pathways.
Knocked over, pushed to the edge,
my fingers clutching the lip at the edge of this rock,
mustering strength to reach up my hand for Jesus to take hold,
yet my strength finished;
losing my grasp, tumbling deep into the abyss,
forever falling, hopeless.

Water rising, crashing,
seeking to intimidate any who would stand on God’s foundation,
against the brutality of the rain, wind, thunder, and lightning.

I look to the center of the rock,
to the radiant ferocity of its blinding flame,
the illumination of its brilliant pillar of fire.
The storm, in all its indignation,
unable to affect God’s signal in the darkness,

Saturated though I am,
my skin and clothes deluged with the storm’s rain, wind, and waves,
compelled to kneel in reverence and awe,
I look towards the blinding fire’s vivid light before me.
Its tower rising above the clouds,
God sees into the light, beyond the tempest’s edge.

Like Peter, focused on Jesus standing before him,
in the darkest of nights, terrified,
stepping out of the boat,
battered by the squall’s wind, waves, and rain.

Stepping in faith, during the storm.
Overcoming the abyss to where God is calling.
Walking into the waves, understanding the pit that lies beneath.

Focused on Christ.
Knowing his fire is upon you.
Lighting the way before you.
To see Christ and look to him alone,
despite the distraction around you.

Jesus, let your fire fill me.
Let the brilliance of your Spirit strengthen me,
to step into the darkness of the storm.

I step.
A valley opens in front of me.
The sky clear, the pasture green,
God’s creatures grazing in its peace.
The storm gone.
Mountains beset the pasture before me,
framing the meadow to the east and west.

To step into the savagery of the storm,
God with you,
is to step into the valley.
Knowing the fear of the pit underneath,
the anxiety of drowning,
the doubt of falling into a depth with no end,
floundering with no hope.

Yet to look at Jesus and step anyway.
Yet to know the Spirit is with you and step anyway.

You feel the water give way beneath you.
Despair rushes into the cracks of your soul.
Yet an arm reaches out towards you,
grabbing your arm, unrelenting,
strong, and not letting go.
Holding you, bringing you up.

Jesus, with you.


Psalm 54 Reflection


“For he has delivered me from all my troubles, and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes.” – Psalm 54:7

Sitting in the desert, there is a clear sky above.  A circle, elevated, maybe built up a few inches from the sand, rocks, and shrubs, is laid with stone, constructed in the desert, built by the work of Father, Spirit, and Son.  The desert is flat and far from civilization, with sand, dirt, rocks, and shrubs for as far as the eye can see.  One stone bench, set in a circle, is on the perimeter of the circular foundation, with a grey stone pillar, a couple feet in diameter, built in the center, a few feet high, with a fire burning atop, so that the fire burns at the same level as the bench.  Embers glow hot at the base of the small fire, so hot they would sear and scorch the top of the stone pillar if they were not from God – the burning fire that doesn’t burn.  Smoke rises, drifting towards me, as the dry desert kindling is set up in the shape of a teepee above these hot, burning, foundational embers, sending smoke rising through the gaps in the teepee of desert sticks. 

Sitting, waiting for Jesus.  Knowing that his Spirit is here.  Learning how to sit in the Spirit’s presence.

Jesus, deliver me.
Jesus, bring my heart your deliverance.
Jesus, let me sit in your presence.
In the desert, let me breathe in the smoke of your Spirit.
Let me breathe deeply your cleansing Spirit.
The Spirit that comes forth from the very fire of who you are.
Jesus, put the glowing, burning embers –
the inner foundations of your holy fire – on my heart.
Let it burn my sins away.
Let it burn through the hardness of my heart.
Put the ember on my tongue,
the burning coal you gave to your prophet Isaiah,
and let it sear through the pride and arrogance of my actions and words.
Let the coal make my heart humble.
Jesus, bring healing to my life,
the healing of your holiness,
your holy, burning coal upon me.
Deliver me.
Only your love brings lasting deliverance.
Give my heart the reality of your love.
Make your love more than just knowledge.
Make your love a reality for my heart.
A bright, fire-ful, burning stone that is placed on my physical heart,
piercing it with your powerful love,
melting through the shell of my calloused heart,
penetrating to the core of my soul,
the deepest, most hidden part of my very soul.
Pick up the bow you hung in the sky, once again.
Take your arrow and make it a weapon of your convicting love.
Put the tip in your Spirit’s river of molten fire.
Aim it towards me in my fearfulness.
And shoot it straight through my heart.
I ask you, Jesus, to make your love that kind of reality,
imprinting itself upon my soul, eternally, irreversibly.
Deliver me from my troubles.
Let me live in the triumph of your love.

Psalm 42 Reflection



“Why so downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” – Psalm 42:11

As I pray, I focus on and imagine simply sitting in God’s presence and waiting on Jesus.  Prayer is not one-sided.  We must focus more on listening to God in prayer, and not so much speaking at God.  When we listen, then we can speak to and with Jesus.

As I pray, the Spirit leads me to the desert: a palette mixed with red, brown, tan, and grey, dotted with rocks, shrubs, and brush among the sand and dirt.  I go from sitting on a bench on the perimeter of a small stone circle built in the desert, with a fire of dried, windswept kindling resting on a grey stone pillar at the circle’s center, smoke rising, and burning embers at the fire’s base, to the setting of God’s garden.  The life-giving tree of God is at its center, with vibrant shades of green and bright colors filling this palette.  Breathing deeply, the air is cool, clear, and cleansing.  God’s stream of cool, clear, cleansing, and life-giving water flows next to the meadow, overshadowed by the far-reaching shade of God’s tree of life.

The deer drinking from the stream,
the roaring waterfall below;
it’s the river of your life, Jesus.
Wash me in your water.
Let the flood of your waterfall come over me.
Let me stand in its water.
It is your life, Jesus, flowing through the land,
giving nourishment to your land and all your creatures,
winding through your plains, mountains, forests, and valleys,
flowing peacefully next to your tree of life,
teeming with life,
vibrant and abundant in every branch and leaf.
I rest against its trunk,
my back against its bark,
my hands in the soft grass,
sitting under your shade,
the sky blue above,
the air cool around me.
Give me peace in your life, Jesus.
Give me rest.
Why should I be downcast,
even when life has its pains and sorrows,
and the world so full of sin,
when I can rest in your land,
wash in your waters,
drink from your streams,
and sit under your tree?
As the deer pants for streams of water,
my soul longs for you, O God.
The deer pants,
but finds rest, refreshment, and safety
as it drinks from your streams,
and so my soul that longs for you
also finds refuge in you, Jesus.



An Excerpt from “An Intertwined Reality: Short Stories for the Already but Not Yet”

The following piece is one of 14 short stories I’ve included in my most recently published book, “An Intertwined Reality: Short Stories for the Already but Not Yet.” It will be available soon for $7.99 in paperback and $4.99 as an ebook on both the Amazon and Barnes and Noble websites! Read more about it and my other book, “The Memoirs of J.W. Bresee: 1897-1906,” here.

Share this short story with your friends and family; let’s build excitement for “An Intertwined Reality”!

The Ammonite Messenger

Nehemiah squinted his eyes as he scanned the far reaches of the horizon. The small outline of a man riding a horse appeared, silhouetted against the reddening sky. The rider was still a good distance away; if it was not for the setting sun casting shadows over the landscape, Nehemiah would have been able to see the entire expanse clearly in the dry air.

The horse kicked up a cloud of dust as the rider disappeared below the horizon, blurring the sharp contrast between him and the sinking red desert sun. Nehemiah faintly discerned their shape racing toward them among the shadows. They were at the borders of what was, to Nehemiah’s ancestors, once the northern kingdom; it was now divided between various pagan rulers as the conquering Persians split up their territories. First the Assyrians swept over the land, then the Babylonians, and then the Medes, and then the Persians. The Babylonians transported much of the southern kingdom’s population back to their capital and into diaspora; the Persians, generations later, allowed the exiles to finally return to their home.

Nehemiah, serving in the court of the Persian King Artaxerxes, petitioned the ruler to allow him to return to the land of his ancestors in order to rebuild Jerusalem. The King even gave Nehemiah, along with the others going with him, several of his prized Persian horses for their journey home. The Babylonians and the Persians, extending their empire to the west, brought many more of these exceptional animals with them into the area.

The pounding hooves thundered closer. “Halt,” the rider yelled. “Halt!” The horse, a large, black, muscled beast, finally stopped in front of Nehemiah and the others. The trail of settling dust stretched all the way back to the horizon; the bottom edge of the sun was just beginning to dip below it. “You are now in the land of Ammon. By order of the governor of the land, Tobiah the Ammonite, installed by the Persian king himself, you must make yourself known!”

Nehemiah did not speak a word, but looked sternly at the rider from atop his own horse. He knew that the surrounding provinces would not like the idea of Jerusalem’s restoration. And even despite Artaxerxes’ blessing, Nehemiah realized that the bordering territories would do everything they could to stop them. They did not want to see the walls of Jerusalem rebuilt.

Nehemiah reached into the pouch beside him and pulled out a piece of parchment. As he handed the letter to the man on the black horse, the rider recognized Artaxerxes’ seal. Lifting it up to catch the remaining sunlight so that he could read, the man began to speak.

“To the governors of the province Beyond the River; to Sanballat the Horonite; to Tobiah the Ammonite; to Asaph the Keeper of the King’s Forest:

“My servant Nehemiah has served with much honor in my court as my cupbearer. He has asked me to allow him to return to the land of his ancestors to rebuild their city of Jerusalem. Because he has demonstrated nothing but great loyalty to me, I have granted him this request.”

The rider stopped reading out loud and studied the remainder in silence. Nehemiah continued to look at the man as the sunlight waned.

A minute later, the rider stopped reading the parchment. He had a disgusted, almost angry, look on his face.

“It appears you have done well for yourself in Artaxerxes’ court, Nehemiah. The King’s favor is upon you and this little project of yours. I hope you know that, because his favor is going to be the only favor you will get. Tobiah the Ammonite will grant you safe passage through his land, but you will get nothing else from him. And you will not get any help from Sanballat the Horonite either. Whether you have this letter or not, we do not want you Jews rebuilding Jerusalem. We will do everything we can to stop it from happening. We will wage war against you if it comes to it. Try to move one stone in place and we will attack.” The rider paused, shoving the letter back into Nehemiah’s open hand. “Go back to Artaxerxes, Nehemiah. We do not want you here. Your people do not even want you here.”

The Ammonite messenger, unhappy about the prospect of Jerusalem being rebuilt, picked up the reins of his black horse and pulled them to the side. The horse snorted as it reared its head back. The rider slapped the reins down and the horse bolted off in the direction the messenger came from. Nehemiah watched the man disappear over the horizon in a cloud of dust, taking the last of the red sun with him behind the skyline.

One of the men with Nehemiah turned to him in the fading light. “What will we do Nehemiah?”

“What will we do? We will arm the people building the walls! Jerusalem will be rebuilt. We have no need to fear pagan rulers and their threats. They worship powerless idols while we worship the true God.”

Nehemiah leaned forward, placing his hand at the base of the horse’s mane. He and the others moved forward, beginning their trek through the hostile land as they continued their journey to Jerusalem.