Sunday, May 19, 2013

Standing In The Shadow - poetry by Ken Hanson

Standing In The Shadow

The weatherman said to go outside,
It’s gonna be nice today,
One last chance to enjoy the sun,
Before winter is here to stay.

The wind and rain are gone for a while,
I’m tired of being inside,
Today it feels like summer again,
A good day to go for a ride.

A Harley is my steed of choice,
Made of steel and leather and chrome,
A city boy’s equivalent of a favorite horse,
Minus the living flesh and bone.

I head to the east in the warm sunshine,
Not knowing where I’ll go,
I gladly follow where the spirit leads me,
Pretty soon I’ll know,

Claude is in the mirror now,
I turn to the north for a while,
The V twin makes a sound that stirs my soul,
I enjoy it’s music mile after mile.

Something catches my eye on the northern horizon,
You can see it from miles away,
The city of Groom is ahead of me now,
The destination of my ride for today.

There’s a giant cross by the side of the interstate,
That’s what I’ve come here to see,
It stands like a beacon to the faithful and the lost,
I feel like it’s calling to me.

It’s been a while since I was at this site,
It’s construction many years old,
But it’s finished now for the world to see,
With a story that needs to be told.

The site is arranged in a circular pattern,
With the cross in the middle of the ring,
One hundred ninety feet tall from base to tip,
From twenty miles away it’s easily seen.

At fourteen stations around the perimeter,
Sculptures tell the story of trouble and strife,
Cast in bronze, the heartbreaking scenes,
From the last day of Jesus life.

At station one, Jesus condemned to death,
A crown of thorns on his head,
Hands bound in front, his eyes downcast,
He knows he will soon be dead.

The bronze captures every detail,
The look of despair in his eyes,
In bare feet standing before his accuser,
He knows that the charges are a pack of lies.

At station two, Jesus carries his cross,
His back bent from the weight,
He accepts the burden the soldier gives him,
Grace in spite of the torture and hate.

At station three, Jesus falls the first time,
But he won’t let the cross touch the ground,
His elbow on his knee, struggling with the weight,
Without any help to be found.

At station four, Jesus meets his mother Mary,
On her knees, her hands clasped in prayer,
Despite his burden, he tries to comfort her,
To ease her weeping and despair.

The look of anguish is evident in her eyes,
The detail in bronze is clear,
Frozen in time by a gifted sculptor,
She’s unable to help whom she holds so dear.

At station five, Simon helps Jesus,
He helps his friend support the weight,
Jesus touches his shoulder in appreciation,
Grateful for the effort despite knowing his fate.

At station six, Veronica wipes the face of Jesus,
Unable to help him though she wanted to,
He reaches out to comfort her grief,
It’s all that she can do.

At station seven, Jesus falls the second time,
Pain and agony on his face,
On his knees now, the cross touches the ground,
Our sins too heavy despite his grace.

At station eight, Jesus comforts the women,
Those who have followed his progress there,
Despite his burden he touches their hands,
In an effort the ease their despair.

At station nine, Jesus falls the third time,
The hardest one for me to see,
Knowing the torture that he endures,
Knowing he endures it for me.

Totally spent, face down on the ground,
The cross on top of his back now,
He sacrifices his own broken body,
To keep it off the ground somehow.

I look at this statue with tears in my eyes,
His sacrifice in bronze for all to see,
There is nothing I can do to deserve this mercy,
It’s a gift from him to me.

At station ten, Jesus stripped of his garment.
A soldier bares his scarred beaten skin,
They divide it between the four of them,
A reward for their own vile sin.

At station eleven, Jesus nailed to the cross,
He’s carried it as far as he can,
A heartbreaking sight, the spirit of God,
In the broken body of a man.

The cross is on the ground now,
Jesus flat on his back on top,
Powerful blows from the hammer of a soldier,
Unendurable agony that doesn’t stop.

A grimace of pain, nails in his wrist,
The hammer finds it’s mark again,
How much must our savior endure,
To cleanse us of our sin?

At station twelve, Jesus dies on the cross,
Flanked by two thieves on a cross, both dead,
Are you not the messiah? Save yourself and us,
Is what the unrepentant thief said.

Upon his death we received salvation,
His last gift to us while alive,
He gave his life in exchange for ours,
To ensure our souls will survive.

At station thirteen, Jesus taken down from the cross,
His body an empty shell now,
His death and resurrection the core of our faith,
Our mission is to tell everyone somehow.

At station fourteen, Jesus placed in his tomb,
The torture is finally done,
An unimaginable ending he didn’t deserve,
For the life of God’s son.

We all know the rest of the story,
On the third day he rose again,
A miracle overseen by God,
To save us from our sin.

The heavy stone that seals the tomb,
Is rolled back out of the way,
As the angels bear witness, the tomb is now empty,
As seen in the light of day.

Mankind changed on that third day,
Jesus paid the price despite the cost,
Salvation replaced our hopelessness,
It is our job now to tell the lost.

Standing in the shadow of this giant cross,
I reflect on what it means to me,
These magnificent sculptures, this beacon of hope,
Standing here for the world to see.

It means the sacrifice made by Jesus,
Is something we can never repay,
Unconditional love given freely,
I am thankful for everyday.

We know it is our duty as Christians,
To talk to people and help spread the word,
We tell others about the salvation Christ offers,
And make sure everyone has heard.

Sometimes it’s hard to find the right words,
To help the lost find their way,
Sometimes an example tells the story better,
Than any words you might say.

If you’re looking for something to help make a point,
About the importance of that empty tomb,
Do what I do, put ‘em in your car,
And take ‘em to this big cross in Groom!

-Ken Hanson 

Monday, April 30, 2012

I Miss Paul Harvey ...

I Miss Paul Harvey
                      By Ken Hanson

Hello Americans, this is Paul Harvey, stand by for news!
How many of you remember that name?
We lost him quite a few years ago,
Since then, it hasn’t been the same.

How far back can you remember?
At what age do your memories begin?
I remember being five years old,
Several vivid memories from way back then.

I remember when Dave started first grade,
And I was left at home with mom all day,
I remember waiting by the door for hours,
When he got home we could go out and play.

I  remember riding with dad in his car,
We would go to the Dr Pepper plant on 4th street,
He would buy a case off the loading dock,
Watching the bottling machine was such a treat.

I loved riding around in that old car,
We’d get a hamburger at the drive in and I’d know
At noon we’d always listen to Paul Harvey,
That was dad’s favorite program on the radio.

When you’re five you don’t care about current events,
But dad did, he’s shush me  when I’d make a sound,
Paul Harvey was America’s most trusted newsman,
All across America on some station he could be found.

When I got older, I still listened to his broadcasts,
It seemed just a natural part of my day,
I would schedule my lunch to be in the car at noon,
I always seemed to find a way.

I agreed with his political views and opinions,
He had a style and delivery all his own,
He could sneak in an ad that sounded like the news,
America’s love for him was well known.

Every year at Christmas he’d have a reoccurring story,
I loved the message, I’d wait for it all year,
He had a way of explaining things that made sense,
This story is the one I hold most dear.

It’s about a man, kind to his family and a good provider,
But he wouldn’t go to church with them,
He didn’t accept that Jesus died on the cross,
And arose on the third day to save us from sin

One Sunday evening he was at home alone,
While his family was at the church in town,
He was enjoying a cozy warm fire,
When he was startled by a sound.

He turned on the porch light and looked outside,
To find the source of the noise he’d heard,
He didn’t see anything until he looked down,
There in the snow was a shivering little bird.

The poor little thing had flown into the window,
Trying to escape from the snow,
Then several more one after another,
Attracted by the windows glow.

Pretty soon there was a whole flock of them,
He knew he had to help them somehow,
Then he had an idea, he would lead them to shelter,
In the barn out back where they kept their cow.

He opened the door and turned on the light,
But they wouldn’t go inside,
He tried to catch them but he couldn’t,
Nothing worked no matter how hard he tried.

He made a trail of seed to lure them through the door,
But they just flopped around helplessly in the snow,
And as badly as he wanted to help them survive,
There was no way for them to know.

He waived his arms and tried to shoo them inside,
But they scattered in all directions, terrified of him now,
If only I could tell them I’m trying to help,
I’ve got to make them understand somehow.

I need to show them that they can trust me,
But they don’t know what I’m trying to do,
They wont last much longer in this freezing weather,
I’ve got to think of something new.

He stood there shivering thinking of a solution,
And then it occurred to him,
If he could be a bird he could speak their language,
But he would have to be one of them.

Just then the church bell rang in the distance,
He looked up and said, “Lord, now I know”,
“It finally makes sense and I understand”,
And he bowed on his knee in the snow.

Paul Harvey had a way of telling a story,
On his popular radio show,
That made it easy for us to understand,
I miss him more than you know.

He left the world a better place,
For all of us, so I’ll say,
On behalf of all Americans,
We miss you, Paul Harvey… good day.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Coulda Shoulda Woulda

By Ken Hanson

Years ago I lost a good friend,
Just after he lost his wife,
They just couldn’t beat their nicotine addiction,
Cigarettes cost them both their life.

Carl was my friend for 25 years,
A friendship based on motorcycles, pizza, and beer,
I didn’t get to say a proper goodbye,
I didn’t think his end was so near.

He would ride over with a cold six pack,
Or we would meet at a pizza place down the street,
He always had a new joke to tell me,
Our time together was such a treat.

The cancer in his throat that took his life,
He thought was just a lingering cold,
Turns out it was pretty far along,
Far enough to keep him from growing very old.

Chemo and radiation made him weak,
But it killed the cancer and kept him alive,
When they cut him open to take it out,
He wasn’t strong enough to survive.

I knew Carl during a time in my life,
When I was young and knew everything,
I miss him more than I can say,
Without him it’s just not the same.

When I was young I thought I’d live forever,
Nothing could hurt me and I’d be OK no matter what,
In my arrogance I turned my back on Jesus,
I didn’t need anyone, at least that’s what I thought.

Me and Carl we tore up the town,
Drinking and riding and acting cool,
We thought that it would go on forever,
Little did I realize I was such a fool.

During all those years of road trips and bars,
While we partied and avoided trouble somehow,
I never asked my friend if he knew Jesus,
More than anything, that’s what haunts me now.

I coulda’, because I knew Jesus,
I was saved at an early age many years before
But my lifestyle made me stray from the path,
I just didn’t care about that anymore.

I shoulda’, because I cared about my friend,
That’s what you do, make sure your friends are OK,
But alcohol and arrogance blinded me to the truth,
My decadent lifestyle had pulled me away.

I woulda’, if I was on the right path,
But I had strayed through years of sin,
I turned away from Jesus but He stood by me,
By His Grace, I’m back on the path again.

When Carl started treatment, he did pretty well,
I was sure that he would prevail,
He had a strong will and a fighting spirit,
Turned out to be to no avail.

When he went in for surgery, I told him,
“I’ll see you when this is through”,
When I was told that he didn’t make it,
A part of me died too.

If I would’ve known what was going to happen,
I would’ve turned it around and changed my way,
I would’ve made sure that he was saved,
But I didn’t, and I regret it to this day.

Coulda’ Shoulda’ Woulda’ are all words of regret,
Something we wish we’d done or didn’t do,
But it’s easy to change that and turn it around,
You can make it a positive if you really want to.

Now I say, I can, because Jesus is in my life,
I’ll never neglect a friend again,
I say, I should, because that’s what we do as Christians,
We help people find Jesus so their new life can begin.

I say, I will, because His Holy Spirit is in me,
He gives me the means to spread His Word,
I’ll never again fail to talk about salvation,
I can, I should, and I will make sure everyone has heard.

You can avoid the regret that I live with,
I’ve been there, so believe me when I say,
If there’s someone that you’re not sure about,
Tell them about Jesus, do it today,

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Got Your Back ...

By Ken Hanson

I have a friend I’ve known for years,
He lives about 3 blocks north of me,
We don’t get together as much as I’d like,
He works just about all the time you see.

We both have a passion for antique tractors,
We display them at our annual tractor show,
We met at a meeting of an antique tractor club,
That I was president of several years ago.

We restore these old machines as a hobby,
To make sure that they survive,
We take them to shows and parades when we can,
To help keep their history alive.

My friend has quite a collection,
Mostly John Deere’s but Farmall’s too,
He’s always looking to add to the fleet,
Most don’t run but a few still do.

He says he’s going to restore them all,
I hope he does, that would really by neat,
He will discover the secret to immorality,
If he lives long enough to accomplish that feat.

My friend Chris has a brother,
He’s someone that all of you know,
Kyle is a member of this congregation,
He usually sits in the second row.

These two brothers are so much alike,
Kind of like Dave and me,
They look alike, they talk alike,
The family resemblance is there to see.

They’re both friendly and outgoing,
Full of energy and full of spirit,
I call it switched on all the time,
It will rub off on you if you get anywhere near it.

Kyle adds a lot of flavor to these services,
You can tell how much he loves the Lord,
He’s what people call a real character,
Hang around him and you’ll never be bored.

He’s also a testament to the power of Holy Spirit,
There is nothing in your life that God can’t fix,
He can snatch you back from the grasp of your demons,
“With God all things are possible”, Matthew 19:26,

One of the nice things about having a brother,
There’s always someone who’s got your back,
That means someone’s watching out for you,
He will help you stay on the right track.

Chris and Kyle, me and Dave,
We enjoy the advantage of having a brother,
He’s got my back and I’ve got his,
We’re always looking out for one another,

I’m sure it’s the same way with sisters,
But there’s not one in our family tree,
He’s the older one, I’m the younger one,
It’s always been just Dave and me.

But our family’s way bigger than that,
Some our age, some younger, some old,
We are all brothers and sisters in Christ,
Born again Christians with a common goal.

We are all here to serve the Lord,
It is our mission to help spread His word,
We must tell others about the salvation He offers,
Everyone needs to have heard.

How do we do that? We each have our way,
Some kick off a service with music at the start,
Some lead the children with a time just for them,
Some of us hope our poems touch a heart.

Some teach a class, some work in the nursery,
Some teach the young ones to rope and ride,
Some serve as an elder, some as a mentor,
We all serve The Lord with a humble sense of pride.

We also carry His words beyond these doors,
That’s the mission of any church of course,
Some witness to others at work or at school,
Some do it from the saddle of a horse.

Serving The Lord should be a priority in our lives,
There’s lots of ways to do that every day,
As many as there are people on earth,
We each have to find our own unique way.

Some might say “I don’t know how”,
“I don’t know what I should do”,
Don’t worry about that, we’ve got your back,
This whole congregation will stand behind you.

This family of God stands untied,
I’ve got your back and you’ve got mine,
Kyle and Dave have got both of ours,
And the whole church has theirs in kind.

Our pastor has got every ones back,
And Jesus stands behind him too,
God our creator started it all,
He made all of them, and me, and you.

When you open your heart to His Holy Spirit,
Your cup runneth over and your new life will begin,
Jesus provided the path to His Kingdom,
When He died on the cross to save us from sin.

It’s a trickle down theory of the Righteous kind,
From God Our Creator, through Jesus, to you,
Embrace His Holy Spirit and ask for His help,
He will show you what you can do.

In Jesus name, open your heart in prayer,
If you don’t know what to say, for you see,
In a quiet moment He will give you the words,
Just as He does for me.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Your Favorite Horse

By Ken Hanson

Pleasing you pleases me,
That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do,
It’s been that way a very long time,
Ever since my world was still brand new.

Your favorite horse, that’s what you call me,
I work real hard to deserve that name,
It goes without saying you’re my favorite cowboy,
You can be sure that will always be the same.

Oh sure, when I was young I fought you real hard,
I thought I needed to be wild and free,
But you were determined to give me a chance,
You refused to give up on me.

You worked with me and calmed me down,
I finally began to see things your way,
We started to become quite a team,
One that continues to this very day.

I learned what you wanted from me,
You knew how to teach me with a gentle hand,
The skills I need for a cowboys job,
You whisper to me and I understand.

We’ve been together for many years now,
Perfecting the job we do as a team,
The other cowboys watch our moves,
A little envious it would seem.

Whether putting loose strays in a pen,
Or cutting steers from the herd,
It seems like I can feel your thoughts,
We do the job without a single word.

When we’re working our minds are one,
I know what you want before you do,
The touch of a spur, the flick of a rein,
A slight shift in the saddle by you.

I dodge and you lean into the turn,
Perfectly balanced like we’re connected,
Other cowboys hang on the top rail,
To watch the moves we have perfected.

I can feel your weight upon my back,
But it doesn’t slow me down at all,
At least until that fateful day,
I stepped in a hole and took a fall.

You weren’t hurt but I broke my leg,
I thought you were going to put me down,
I could see the worry in your eyes,
First time I’ve ever seen you frown.

The vet set my leg, put it in a cast,
Said it wasn’t that bad after all,
First time in my life that I can’t work,
All I can do is hobble around this stall,

You feed me every day to keep me alive,
Fresh water, oats, and sweet hay too,
But this isn’t what I call living,
I want to come back to work with you.

The job we did gave me purpose,
I miss it more than you’ll ever know,
Our teamwork means more than life itself,
I wish that I could tell you so.

The days go by, I’m slowly getting better,
But I see you working with a younger horse,
It breaks my heart but I understand,
A cowboys work must continue of course.

It’s been a year now, I’m out in the pasture,
I still can’t run no matter how hard I try,
Some days I get so lonely,
I just want to lay down and die.

Something happened today I didn’t expect,
You brought your grandson to the pasture to see me,
He was so little you carried him in your arms,
He must have been about two or three.

He was scared at first, but you talked to him,
He settled down and overcame his fear,
You held him up and I walked around slowly,
He held my mane tightly and laughed in my ear.

The fact that you trust me with this precious child,
Makes my heart swell with pride,
It’s been a long time since I felt useful,
It feels like it just might burst inside.

You bring him to ride me when he comes for a visit,
It gives me something to look forward to,
He’s my little cowboy and I’m his horsey,
You’re still my favorite but he might replace you.

That little cowboy has lassoed my heart,
That’s way better than being wild and free,
There are other horses he could choose to ride,
But he only wants to ride me.

The years have passed, he’s growing like a weed,
Big enough to ride me on his own now,
I can run, but not good enough to work,
That doesn’t matter anymore anyhow.

I have a new job now with my little cowboy,
That’s better than chasing steers of course,
Although we’ll never work together again,
I hope I’ll always be your favorite horse.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

It’s The Reason We’re All Here ...

By Ken Hanson
Note: I was inspired to write this poem by the galvanized steel horse-trough the Palo Duro Cowboy Church in Canyon, Texas uses for baptisms.

Some are made of marble or granite,
Spare no expense, the best of the best,
Impressive to see, to say the least,
Strictly first class compared to the rest.

Some are made of sculptured concrete,
Functional and attractive, as well,
Probably surrounded by flowers or plants,
They serve their need, that you can tell.

Some are made of more modest materials,
I can see one from where I stand,
Made of galvanized metal, simple and plain,
It’s right over there next to the band.

Baptistries range from humble to majestic,
But they all do the very same thing,
It’s the final step to being born again,
It lets the people know your life has changed.

Whether marble, granite, concrete, or metal,
They have nothing whatsoever to do,
With the salvation you have chosen to receive,
That’s a relationship between Christ and you.

That metal tank that’s full of water,
Isn’t there for your horse,
It’s for the rest of us to witness your decision,
It’s a symbol of your salvation of course.

When you make the decision to follow Jesus,
The water washes away your sin,
You rise as Christ did on that third day,
Your life begins anew and you are born again.

That humble metal tank would look out of place,
In a gothic cathedral I fear,
But likewise that giant marble lap pool,
Wouldn’t fit in here.

A church will find what works for them,
No two congregations are the same,
Some might require that they have the best,
Others prefer something a little more tame.

That giant chunk of a granite mountain,
Rising up behind a large choir,
Complements the stained glass and organ pipes,
Something a wealthy congregation can admire.

The thousands of gallons in that big pool,
Can’t baptize any better than a horse trough can,
A couple of feet is more than enough,
For any woman, child, or man.

God doesn’t care how much water there is,
A few drops would wash away your sin,
It only matters what’s in your heart,
And where you’re going, not where you’ve been.

I’m sure Jesus wouldn’t mind,
Someone baptized in whatever could be found,
A water trough was surely in the manger of his birth,
After all, there were animals all around.

That simple little metal tank,
Is something in a cowboy’s world every day,
He knows it’s as good as an ocean,
At washing sin away.

When someone is baptized during a service,
The whole church will rejoice on that special day,
It lets the pastor know he’s done a good job,
Kinda like a little bonus in your pay.

When we see someone rise from the water,
We all praise God and cheer,
Helping someone become a new Christian,
Is the reason we’re all here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Small Footprints In The Sand

By Ken Hanson

Our country changed September Eleven,
Right there for the whole world to see,
Our way of life had a wake up call,
It’ll never again be the way it used to be.

If those words sound familiar it’s because they began,
A poem I wrote years ago,
A tragic event in our beloved country,
A date that we all know.

Ten years later and we still hurt,
So many people we lost that day,
We grieve and move on as best we can,
But the pain will never go away.

Our innocence was lost early that morning,
We now know how vulnerable we are,
The terrorists got the upper hand that day,
Their worst attack on our soil by far.

When the towers fell and lives were lost,
We immediately became aware,
Just how important salvation is,
As the cries of the injured filled the air.

Some might say there’s plenty of time,
I’ll make that decision some other day,
How could they have possibly known,
American Flight Eleven was minutes away.

I prayed that everyone that died that day,
Knew The Lord and was saved long ago,
But some people are good procrastinators,
You just knew in your heart is wasn’t so.

When you’re a born again Christian,
In time, you’ll see those who are saved again,
But knowing some were inevitably lost,
I grieve even more for them.

It’s our job as servants of The Lord,
To help save as many as we can,
It cuts deep when we’re not in time,
And we lose even one woman or man.

About the only good thing that happened that day,
The towers were for commerce, children were spared,
Still, far too many lost one parent or both,
And were left alone and scared.

The most innocent victims did nothing wrong,
But their lives were shattered by evil men,
Terrorists don’t care who they kill,
They don’t consider it a sin.

When the dust finally settled, the dead were counted,
It became clear how many children were affected,
But New Yorkers stepped up and took care of their own,
Not a single child would be alone or neglected.

Aunts and uncles, grandparents and siblings,
All pitched in during this darkest of time,
Foster families made room in their lives,
Whatever it took so the children were fine.

Time goes by, memories fade,
You try to hold on to the people you knew,
But when you’re trying to get over the loss of a parent,
You can ask me and Dave, you never really do.

We’re all familiar with “Footprints In The Sand”,
Two sets, side by side, good days and bad ones too,
On our darkest days there’s only one set,
And The Lord said, “It was then that I carried you”.

For ten years now, small footprints in the sand,
So many children just trying to survive,
Some are them too young to understand,
Why their parents are not alive.

Long lines of footprints there in the sand,
Mostly two sets, quite often only one,
The burden these children live with,
Shouldn’t be carried by someone so young.

If I could speak to them, I would say,
Cling to The Father like the father you knew,
He will carry you as far as you need,
There is no end of his love for you.

When you are old enough to make the decision,
Give your soul to Jesus, live your life free of sin,
Honor the memory of your mother and father,
Be at peace knowing you will see them again.

To the procrastinators I would urge them,
Quit stalling, make your decision today,
It happened once, you never know,
When a plane might be headed your way.