The first day in 2020—another brand-new beginning

January 1, 2020

Today, January 1, 2020, we awake to embrace the first day of the New Year. In the Hebrew calendar the New Year has already begun, and we note this designation for the Year 5770—Year of the Mouth. Many times, I start off the New Year with a theme which I often express poetically:

Overflowing goodness from Almighty Jehovah’s horn of plenty
will abound toward those who open their mouths and
declare His favor without measure in 2020.

Thinking further about today representing a new beginning or a fresh start inspired this response:

The first day in 2020—another brand-new beginning

Today, the sun arises in splendor, in glorious array,
As we declare once more with conviction, “Yes! It’s a good news day.”
We seek to do the will of God and more fully and learn to serve Him
With gladness of heart, as we usher in the coming Kingdom.
Each day we draw breath flames the passion to be all God called us to be.
We fervently pray, Lord, open our eyes that we might truly see.
With outstretched necks we lookup, waiting to mount as eagles ascend
Each new day blossoms in beauty, a new the beginning of the end
When the Lord shall restore all the thief came to steal, kill, and destroy
When at last we dwell in God’s presence where there is fullness of joy
We learn once more that to love is also totally to forgive
And know the more abundant life we were designed to live.
For His glory, our spirit, soul, and body the Lord has healed
When face to face what we knew in part our God has fully revealed.
As we walk in love, we never lose, but we are always winning.
On the first day in 2020—another new beginning.

As we think about the Year of the Mouth, we should follow this simple admonition from Brent Jones:

“Open Your Mouth and Say Something” and the exhortation of Pastor Patti Mellette: “Open Your Mouth and Say Thank You.”

As we do, however, we must also realize the importance of speaking or confessing the Word of God with our mouth:

Isaiah 55:11(AMP)

So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Luke 1:37 (AMP):

For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment.

In this Year of the Mouth, this is my prayer:

Psalm 19:14 (NKJV):

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.

As we begin the New Year, this familiar passage from Isaiah reveals the creative power of God Almighty who also declares:

Isaiah 43:16, 18-19 (NIV):

This is what the LORD says— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

We reflect upon blessings of the past year with gratitude and anticipate even greater blessings awaiting us in the coming year, as each New Year represents a fresh start, as God reminds us once again that He makes all things new. As we considered deeply the concept of a new beginning or another chance, think about these simple lyrics:

It’s new, new, new–brand new.
God is doing a new thing.
Lift your voice and sing His praise.
Bless the Lord and glorify His name.

It’s new, new, new–fresh as the morning dew.
God is doing a new thing in our midst.
If we do not faint, we shall reap in due season.
Open your eyes and see, it’s a brand-new day.
God is pouring out His spirit in this new season.                                       Open your ears to hear what the Spirit has to say.

It’s new, new, new–brand new.
God is doing a new thing.
Lift your voice and sing His praise.
Bless the Lord and glorify His name.

It’s new, new, new–fresh as the morning dew.
God is doing a new thing in our midst.

As we embark upon this new season unfolding before us, we pause to reflect upon God’s goodness and mercy that sustained us through the most challenging circumstances of the past year. We also recognize that in the coming year we may encounter even more challenges and more difficult situations that seem impossible to resolve on our own. We are assured that if God triumphantly came through on our behalf before, He can and will do it again. During this time, we also savor the present reality that in all our circumstances “we conquer more and more.” Finally, we look forward even greater triumphs in the days ahead, as we move from faith to faith, glory to glory, and victory to victory.

Here is a word of encouragement from Ricky Dillard and New Generation who make this declaration: “Today Will be the Best Day of My Life.”

A gratitude sandwich the day before Thanksgiving

November 27, 2019

Colossians 3:16, the Verse of the Day for November 27, 2019, offers another reminder to be thankful. When we look at the context of this verse and read the verse that precedes it and one that follows it, we find a wonderful “gratitude sandwich.”

Colossians 3:15-17 (New Living Translation):

15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

In this “Thanksgiving season,” we find that in its most basic sense, the term is the application of an essential principle of life: giving and receiving. When one gives, one receives, and always in greater proportion than one gives. Although many people think of giving and receiving in terms of tithes and offerings or of giving of material abundance within a church or religious context, the universal principle works in all aspects of life—particularly in “thanksgiving.”

As believers, giving thanks to God for His grace and goodness is a positive expression that reverses negative thinking patterns. A heavy dose of “thanksgiving” will counter the potentially crippling negative effects of fear, anger, disappointment, discouragement, despair and any other toxic emotions of life. We cannot truly be thankful and feel fearful or disappointed at the same time, nor can we be angry or discouraged when we see all that God has done for us and express our gratitude to Him at the same time. Certainly, we cannot simultaneously sink to the depths of despair when we recognize how blessed we have been thus far, as we anticipate even greater blessings on the horizon, for the best is always yet to come with God, our beneficent Father.

Feeling disappointed, discouraged, and in despair or having other negative feelings is sometimes described as “stinkin’ thinkin’” which can directly affect how we act. One of the critical factors in our physical and emotional well-being is attitude. Of course, we must remember that “attitude begins with gratitude.” J. Rufus Moseley speaks of “an attitude of gratitude and boundless good will.”

For believers, maintaining such an attitude of gratitude is our magnificent and joyful “response-ability”; that is, our ability to respond to God’s love and grace. We endeavor to demonstrate our gratitude to God from the fullness of our hearts, overflowing with thanks. More than merely occasionally expressing how grateful we are, we desire to maintain a continual “attitude of gratitude.”

More than merely saying “thank you” to God, more than simply tithing or sharing of our abundance or giving of our time or material goods, we express our gratitude to God in everything we say and do. It is always an appropriate time to give thanks to God. One of the songs I recall from years ago declares, “Now is the right time to praise the Lord!” No matter the circumstances, no matter the conditions, weather-wise, health-wise, or any otherwise, we are to follow this exhortation:

In happy moments, praise God.
In difficult moments, seek God.
In quiet moments, worship God.
In painful moments, trust God.
In every moment, thank God.

At All Times

I will bless the Lord at all times,
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

Psalm 34:1

When God’s goodness and mercy follow closely,
And we savor the ecstasy of victory,
When joy overflows and floods our souls, we will praise God.

When gripped by the devices of this transient life
And caught in the straits of rising conflict and strife,
During these difficult moments, we will seek God.

When we long to abide within a tranquil mood
And linger in moments of sweetest quietude,
From the depths of our souls, we will worship God.

Despite raging seas, stormy winds and blinding rain,
When protracted pain strikes like a knife and numbs the brain
So we can scarcely scream the Lord’s name, we will trust God.

All along life’s journey, no matter the season,
Through every why and wherefore, for every reason,
Every moment we draw breath, we will thank God.

We seek the Lord and ask ourselves, “What shall we do?”
“Give thanks: it is God’s will in Christ concerning you.”
“Give thanks: it is God’s will in Christ concerning you.”

Don Moen offers this moving reminder to “Give Thanks”:

With each breath, each move live thanks to Him

November 18, 2019

As we approach the last Thursday in November, recognized as Thanksgiving Day, I thought of the teaching series being taught by Bishop Charles Mellette of Christian Provision Ministries.
This post echoes the same sentiments that every day is a day to give thanks. Co-Pastor Patti Mellette recently encouraged believers to “Open your mouth and say “Thank you.”May this re-posting be a blessing.

Dr. J's Apothecary Shoppe

1 Thessalonians-5 18 NewAs we have been moving steadily toward Thanksgiving Day, a number of scriptures related to being thankful have come to mind. The Verse of Day for the past several days has focused on expressing our gratitude to God for all that He has done. In commenting on aspects of thankfulness in every situation that we encounter as believers, I recalled the words of J. Rufus Moseley, who spoke of “an attitude of gratitude and boundless good will.” This attitude should be pervasive, as we attempt to express our gratitude to God in thought, word and deed. We endeavor to demonstrate our gratitude to God from the fullness of our hearts, overflowing with thanks. More than merely occasionally expressing how grateful we are, we desire to maintain a continual “attitude of gratitude,” a lifestyle that some have called “thanksliving.” The essence of our attitude of endless gratitude is expressed in this…

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Celebrating the goodness of God on Black Poetry Day

October 17, 2019
A Black poet celebrates God’s miracle-working power on National Black Poetry Day

Today’s blog post spotlights a special celebration. Although not recognized as a national holiday, October 17 is designated as Black Poetry Day. During this time we celebrate poets of African American heritage and their contribution to the literary landscape of the nation and of the world. Why was this particular day selected for the celebration? For the answer we go back to the America’s literary beginning and the “Father of Black Poetry.”

Jupiter Hammon, the first person of African descent to publish a poem in colonial America, was born October 17, 1711. Publishing a literary work of any kind during this period was a remarkable accomplishment for anyone, but for a man born into slavery, writing and publishing “An Evening Thought” in 1761 was nothing short of a miracle.

Born on the estate of merchant Henry Lloyd of Oyster Bay, NY, Hammon was believed to have been a lay minister. As a devout Christian, he expressed his religious convictions in all of his poetry and prose. In addition to An Evening Thought, his works include An Essay on the Ten Virgins, 1779; A Winter Piece, 1782; An Evening’s Improvement, 1783; An Address to the Negroes in the State of New York, 1787. In 2013 a University of Texas at Arlington English professor and his doctoral student located an unpublished poem, “An Essay on Slavery,” handwritten by Hammon around 1786.

Some believe Hammon may have experienced a powerful conversion during the Great Awakening, the religious revival of the mid 1700s, as he hammers out the word “salvation” more than twenty times throughout this first poem, An Evening Thought. Written in hymn stanzas or common meter, the same metrical pattern as many of the hymns of John and Charles Wesley and Isaac Watts from the same period, the structure of the poem leads some to speculate that Hammon’s poetry may have been set to music.

Black Poetry Day was first proposed in 1970 by Stanley A. Ransom. As author of America’s First Negro Poet: The Complete Works of Jupiter Hammon, Ransom has sought to bring wider recognition to Hammon and his works. Professor Ransom was among the scholars cited in my dissertation which examined the poetry of Hammon and three other black poets: Phillis Wheatley, George Moses Horton, and Frances E.W. Harper. Indeed, the poetry of Jupiter Hammon has profoundly influenced me as a practicing poet whose literary style also mirrors an attraction to the Bible for inspiration.

Recently, I went to my oncologist for a follow-up visit after starting hormone therapy and a new dietary/nutritional protocol as part of his most recent response to prostate cancer which had metastasized to my hips and thighs. I received some good news when I learned that my PSA reading had dropped significantly–from 90+ down to 0.7! As the situation miraculously unfolded, I was inspired to write this:

Look at God!

Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news;
lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news;
lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!”
Isaiah 40:9 (ESV)

I am turning a new page, stepping out into the more,
Reaching far beyond anything I have ever thought of;
Beyond anything I have even dared to ask for;
Through Christ, God is able to do exceedingly above,
Way beyond anything my finite mind could ever see.
Recently, God Himself opened the windows of heaven
And poured out a blessing–a miracle crafted for me:
My PSA had skyrocketed to more than ninety,
But within a month it plummeted to zero point seven.
Nothing is impossible–all things are possible with God.
When we pray, it is no secret what Father God can do;
What He has done for others He can do for me and you.
Behold! The outpouring of the Spirit of the Living God
As we now witness signs, wonders, and miracles: “Look at God!”

For all my family and friends in the Columbus, Ohio area, I will be sharing my testimony at 10 a.m. Sunday, October 20, 2019 

Equippers City Church Apostolic Resource Center
6954 Americana Parkway
Reynoldsburg, OH 43068

Following my presentation, I will be signing copies of Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs. I invite you to follow me down the road less traveled in a journey that weaves original poetry, Scripture, and a holistic battle plan, sharing how I emerged, not just as a survivor but more than a conqueror. Readers can apply my message of hope to overcome any adversity.

For more details about Embracing Your Life Sentence check out 

https://www.lonnelledwardjohnson.com/

We close with J J Hairston and Youthful Praise singing “Miracle Worker.”

God Himself asks, “Can I get a witness?”

September 26, 2019

The Verse of the Day highlighted on Logos Bible Software for September 26, 2019 comes from Deuteronomy 30:19 (New King James Version):

I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you, life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore, choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;

The authors of the Apologetics Study Bible discuss this verse in more detail:

To call heaven and earth as witnesses is not to suggest that they somehow represent living and sentient beings. This is a literary device (an “apostrophe”) the purpose of which is to provide an element in covenant making, namely, witnesses to the mutual pledges made by each party. God is here swearing to act upon the decisions Israel is required to make. In treaties outside Israel, the “gods” of the partners are invoked as witnesses. Since there is only one true God, He invokes His creation (“the heavens and the earth,” Genesis 2:1) as His two witnesses.

The Verse of the Day also brings to mind the expression “Can I get a witness?”, a phrase originating in the African American Church during the 19th Century. Members of a congregation would often share their personal testimony and “bear witness” of God’s divine presence and intervention in their lives. After sharing their personal account of how God came through and made “a way out of no way,” speakers would then address the audience by asking, “Can I get a witness?” Within the community, those who had experienced a similar move of God in their personal lives would respond with a hearty “Amen” or vigorous hand-clapping or raising hands or some other form of affirmation.

In reflecting on the Phrase of the Day, I also thought of the expression “Call and response” which I also discuss in a previous blog post from which this excerpt is taken:

In music, particularly in jazz which incorporates improvisation, we find a technique labeled “call and response,” whereby a musician issues a phrase or line, and another player answers with a phrase or comment in response. The same technique is also seen in other areas of African American culture involving speakers, such as preachers or ministers of the gospel or worship leaders who issue a series of calls, and the audience, the congregation, or group being addressed answers with responses.

“Can I get a witness?” is the call, and the group being addressed responds in some way to affirm the speaker and to bear witness of the same. The question raised is also the title of the following:

Can I Get a Witness?

This is the third time I am coming to visit you
(and as the Scriptures say, “The facts of every case must be established
by the testimony of two or three witnesses”).
2 Corinthians 13:1

Can I get a witness? Tell me what do you see?
Can you testify God is who He said He would be?
Probing the depths of God’s love, what do you discern?
We embrace afflictions that we might truly learn
To please the Master, striving toward our destiny.

As we stand, do you see bond-slaves now set free?
Those transformed who yearn for deeper intimacy,
As the passion for God’s Word continues to burn.
Can I get a witness?

Assess the whole of our life’s work done heartily
As to the Lord, who reigns for all eternity.
By grace, far beyond any wages we might earn,
Wherein we boldly stand blameless at Christ’s return
When we will hear “Well done, you have served faithfully.”
Can I get a witness?

Philipps, Craig, and Dean raise the same question: “Can I Get a Witness?”

Love one another and more

September 23, 2019

The Verse of the Day for September 22, 2019 offers this reminder of how we should behave toward fellow-believers:

Romans 15:7 (NIV)

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

The New Living Translation puts it this way:

So, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you; then God will be glorified.

The J.B. Phillips Translation offers this rendering:

So, open your hearts to one another as Christ has opened his heart to you, and God will be glorified.

In the Scriptures we find seven principles expressed as verbs which connote action specifically applied in terms of what should be done to “one another.” Here is a poetic summary of those principles:

We must learn to value and enhance relationships,
As we ever strive to nurture and to maintain them.
Within the One Body, with each sister and brother
As we love, honor, forgive and encourage each other,
We must admonish, serve, and make peace with one another.

To apply these seven principles, believers must apply the overarching principle expressed in Romans 15:7 and that is to “receive one another” that our lives may glorify God, our Father. His desire is that His children remain fruitful and bring glory to Him. Similarly, our desire is to give glory and honor to God by the way we choose to live. As believers, our heart’s desire is expressed in these lyrics:

Let our lives bring praise to you Lord, so the world will know that we are Yours.
Let our heart and soul sing of Your goodness.
May we proclaim each day new mercies and Your faithfulness.
As we apply Your Word and consider our ways,
May we praise Your name all our days

Let our lives bring praise to you Lord, so the world will know that we are Yours.
When we arise in the morning, we greet You.
With the dawning of a new day we rise to meet You.
When we begin with praise, somehow, we always find
Throughout the day You are on our mind.
Let our lives bring praise to you Lord, so the world will know that we are Yours.

The Verse of the Day also reminds us of the first principle: “love one another.” Each day we receive or accept one another, as we decide to demonstrate, freely give, and practice love: the first thread whereby we must initiate all relationships and follow Christ’s command that we love one another. The Lord further explains in

John 13:35 (New Living Translation)

Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

Michael W. Smith offers comments and a spirited rendition of a “Love One Another.”

Watch your mouth and other matters

September 19, 2019
The Verse of the Day for September 19, 2019 is also the opening verse for Chapter 2 of my new book.

Around this same time last year, I was putting the finishing touches on my new book which has since been released. In Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs, I share my holistic strategy to overcome prostate cancer. Part of my approach involves going to the Bible and looking for principles that I can apply to my situation. As it turns out, the Verse of the Day for September 19, 2019 is the same verse I used to introduce Chapter 2 which opens with

Ephesians 4:29 in the Message Bible:

Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.

Here is an excerpt from that chapter:

Watch your mouth and other matters

With regard to the mouth as a gate that I had to watch, I had to monitor not only what went into the mouth—what I chose to eat– as well as what came out of my mouth–what I chose to speak. Since “The power of life and death is in the power of the tongue,” I carefully chose the words that I would speak, as this original poem states:

We know the tongue has power to generate life,
To produce seeds that will eventually take root
And will bring forth two very different kinds of fruit:
Love, joy and peace or envy, confusion and strife
Can build or destroy a brother, a friend, a wife.

Throughout the whole process of responding to the diagnosis of prostate cancer, I had to encourage myself to make positive confessions and to speak words of positive affirmation. The Scriptures remind believers to let our words always be seasoned with salt, that they may minister grace to the hearers.

Most amazingly I did not have to look in the mirror to watch my mouth, but then again, I did! I looked into the mirror of the Word of God and made sure that what I said lined up with what the Word of God says. The Book of James speaks of not just being one who hears the Word but also one who does the Word: “a hearer and a doer.” Indeed, my actions speak louder than my words in this instance.

To sum up what I learned about watching in a strategic way, I came across this statement attributed to Frank Outlaw, founder of Bi-Lo Stores. Each line opens with an exhortation to “watch.” What we are to observe closely could we arranged as an acrostic that can be rearranged to spell “W-A-T-C-H”:

“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

Each chapter of Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs concludes with a psalm of remembrance of God’s goodness and faithfulness. As the journey continues, I am

Watching, Waiting, Seeking

Wait on the LORD; be of good courage,
and He shall strengthen your heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD!
Psalm 27:14

We are strengthened by the Word of God where we find
Courage to endure while seeking to watch and wait.
Those who watch and wait are never left behind,
For God has always been faithful and never late.
We trust in the Lord, as the Word of God extols.
Like Job, we wait until at last, our change shall come
Assured that in patience we now anchor our souls.
May we not faint and fall by the wayside as some
But follow in Christ’s steps, as we quickly obey
And bear up under and yield fruit of endurance.
We must walk in God’s love, the more excellent way
And through faith and patience claim our inheritance.
In these perilous times we are yielded and still,
Watching, waiting, seeking to fulfill all God’s will.

We are encouraged to make positive confessions and to speak words of positive affirmation regarding ourselves and others. The Verse of the Day for September 19, 2013 and other scriptures remind believers to let our words always be seasoned with salt, that they may minister grace to the hearers.

Johnny Holmes expresses the essence of our desire that thoughts that come from our hearts conveyed in the words that come from our mouths will be acceptable unto God, as revealed in Psalm 19:14:

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight. O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.

Quite providentially, September is also Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, and I am blessed to share this excerpt from my book on my cancer journey. In Embracing Your Life Sentence—How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs, I share original poetry, Scripture, and my battle plan to show how I emerged, not just as a survivor but more than a conqueror. This message of hope can be applied to overcome any adversity. For more information check out my website: https://lonnelledwardjohnson.com

The love God cherishes for us

September 16, 2019

The Verse of the Day for September 15, 2019 comes from 1 John 4:16 in the Amplified Bible:

And we know (understand, recognize, are conscious of, by observation and by experience) and believe (adhere to and put faith in and rely on) the love God cherishes for us. God is love, and he who dwells and continues in love dwells and continues in God, and God dwells and continues in him.

In 1 John 4:8 (AMP) we also find an expression of who God is and a portrait of the person who does not respond to God’s love:

He who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love.

For Christian believers nothing is more satisfying than to know that God is love and that God loves us, and nothing can separate us from that love. Romans 8:38-39 (NIV) reiterates this powerful declaration:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This passage from Romans 8 relates the constancy of the love of God which never fails. In a previous blog entry, I commented, “No matter the circumstances of our lives, whether on the pinnacles of success and dreams come true or in the pits of disappointment and failure, we are assured that God loves us. I recall a statement from the late Dr. Adrian Rodgers, “God cannot love us any more than He does, and He will not love us any less.”

God desires that each individual believer might know Him and experience His unconditional love, that is, to have a personal knowledge of who He is, to know Him as a loving father. This kind of knowing is more than “head knowledge” but relates to “heart knowledge.” A person may “know” by name the CEO of the company where that individual works, but the same person also “knows” to a far greater degree a co-worker who happens to be a close friend.

God desires that we know him, as He expresses His deep desire for intimacy on a very personal level. We come to know God through the Word of God which makes known the love of God. As we establish and maintain our relationship with Him, we also experience the love of God, the most powerful force in the universe. Once an individual knows God on such an intimate, experiential level, that person “knows for himself or herself,” and that individual is forever changed.

The closing verses of Ephesians 3 reveal God’s desires that we experience His love, expressed in this prayer:

To Know the Love of Christ

To know the love of Christ which passes knowledge;
that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:19

Father, expand our minds and widen our comprehension
To know Your love in an even fuller dimension.
As we call upon Your name and bow in humility,
Help us to see to an even greater degree.
Enlighten our eyes with the wisdom that comes from above.
You call us beloved, worthy of endless love.
When tempted, knowing You love us dispels all fear.
As we seek to please You, open our ears that we might hear
Your word and endeavor to hide it deep within our heart.
Despite past failures, misdeeds, and shortcomings on our part,
Your love is constant and never changes but ever grows
And unfolds in matchless beauty a dew-kissed rose.
No force on Earth, no power in heaven above,
Not death nor life can separate us from your love.

We conclude with a Truth Song “The Love of Christ” based on Ephesians 3:17b-19

And to know the love of Christ

September 15, 2019

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

1 John 4:16 NIV

Memories of Love and Devotion

August 31, 2019
Celebrating 46 years of love and devotion

Although I could find no specific traditional designation for a type of gift for the 46th wedding anniversary, I found that some sources suggest a poetic tribute as a contemporary gift. In celebration of our 46th anniversary, I offer poetic reflections accompanied by photos and some of the songs, and original poetry and a poem by Sara Teasdale, all of which have come to mean so much to us in

a collage of memories
Of love and devotion
to God, our Father
and to one another
preceding and reaching
beyond 46 years
of marriage

Brenda and I met in April 1971, after we both prayed for a lifelong companion, but I thought about her long before then:

Before I Knew You
for my beloved Brenda

I thought of you long before I ever knew you.
When through the mist I beheld your lovely face.
Before our two lives touched, my heart reached out to you.

I could not speak your name, yet somehow, I knew you
Would be all I could desire in style and grace.
I thought of you long before I ever knew you.

Alone, I saw the sunset, told myself you too
Needed a dearest friend to share this special place.
Before our two lives touched, my heart reached out to you.

Alone, I passed the time and asked myself who you
Were dreaming of, yet still longing to embrace
I thought of you long before I ever knew you.

I yearned to give my life, to share my soul with you
Who would make me feel whole and fill my empty space.
Before our two lives touched, my heart reached out to you.

God stretched out his hand, and then He gently drew you
To me with a true love that time cannot erase.
I thought of you long before I ever knew you.
Before our two lives touched, my heart reached out to you.

“You Make Me Feel Brand New” by the Stylistics

In 1973 Brenda and I married and committed to build our lives on the foundation of God’s Word:

For a foundation, laid a precious cornerstone,
tried stone of witness–the rock of my salvation,
hewn from the Savior, “more than friend or life to me.”

I bring a stone engraved with her name, Brenda Joyce,
my love, the wife of my youth in whom I rejoice;
white topaz, the symbol of my pure love for you.

“Brenda” by OC Smith

In our marriage we ever strive to be and to see

A Single Image

For this reason, shall a man leave
his father and mother,
and be joined to his wife,
and the two shall become one flesh.
Ephesians 5:31

look upon the
mirror of our
soul
and
see
a
single image

one heart
wearing no
ill will

one mouth
speaking peace
and promises
fulfilled

one hand
bearing
only love
open
outstretched
toward you

we stand
before you
naked
unafraid
and free

there is
no fear
in love
so why
should we

we are His
He is one
so are we

one
plus
one
makes
one
in
word
in
deed
in
truth

“Flesh of My Flesh”—Leon Patillo

I continue to thank God for my wife who was the answer to my prayer, even as I was the answer to hers.

I Thank God for You
For my beloved Brenda

With gratitude to God, who hears and answers prayer,
We reflect and rejoice, aware of His constant care.
Forty-six years flow:, abounding in amazing grace,
Unfailing love so strong, not even time can erase.
I thank God for you.

We look upon the beauty of the precious sapphire,
To remind us of the spark that first kindled desire.
As Christ loved the Church, willing to sacrifice his life,
So I renew my promise to serve my beloved wife.
I thank God for you.

Through each valley, plateau, climbing to a grand mountain view
We offer praise to God, our Father, who makes all things new.
God speaks to confirm His promise He will honor us:
All things work together according to His purpose.
I thank God for you.

I close with “Barter,” an exquisite poem that has come to mean so much to us over the years:

Barter

Life has loveliness to sell,
All beautiful and splendid things,
Blue waves whitened on a cliff,
Soaring fire that sways and sings,
And children’s faces looking up
Holding wonder like a cup.

Life has loveliness to sell,
Music like a curve of gold,
Scent of pine trees in the rain,
Eyes that love you, arms that hold,
And for your spirit’s still delight,
Holy thoughts that star the night.

Spend all you have for loveliness,
Buy it and never count the cost;
For one white singing hour of peace
Count many a year of strife well lost,
And for a breath of ecstasy
Give all you have been or could be.

Sara Teasdale

“A Song for You” by Morgana King

I am still singing my song for you, Brenda Joyce, BJ, the love of my life.