Reflections on Black History: Seventy years ago

February 22, 2021
My class photo taken in the third grade 70 years ago reminds me of a desire to “make history” during the celebration of what was then Negro History Week. Times and the name have changed, but the desire still burns brightly.


As the celebration of Black History Month continues to unfold, I recall an event occurring 70 years ago to the date on February 22, 1951, when I was eight years old in the 3rd grade at Roosevelt School, an all-black school in Gary, Indiana where I was born. I have been reflecting while looking at my class picture and noticing the bulletin board in the back of the classroom decorated with these words: “Negro History Week.” Since that time, the celebration and recognition of the contribution of African Americans have been expanded to Black History Month.

The bulletin board in the picture reminded me that at that time I consciously determined that I would someday “make history” and do something significant as an African American. Back in the day, it was expressed this way: “I wanted to be a credit to the Negro Race.”

Over the past seven decades, I continue to strive to make that desire a reality. In 2019 during a book signing and presentation during Black History Month 2019, I shared from my newly published book Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Transform Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs. I also reflected upon the significance of Black History and related some of the events transpiring in my life since that class photo was taken.

I went on to graduate as Valedictorian of Froebel High School, class of 1960 and enrolled as a pharmacy student at Purdue University from 1960-1965, becoming the first African American to graduate from Purdue’s five-year pharmacy program. During my time as a pharmacy student, I was also introduced to Black poetry and would later discover my passion to teach and to write poetry.

Upon graduation from Purdue, I took the state board examination and passed to become a registered pharmacist in Indiana. My first full-time job was as a hospital pharmacist at Methodist Hospital in Gary, Indiana. I was enjoying the good life until I received “Greeting from Uncle Sam” and I was drafted into the US Army in 1967, in the midst of the Viet Nam conflict. That two-year stint I describe as my “Lemonade Experience” in that what I thought would have been the worst thing that could have ever happened turned out providentially to be far better than I could have ever imagined. While I was a pharmacy instructor at the Medical Field Service School in San Antonio at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, I discovered the joys of classroom teaching and writing poetry, passions that continue to burn.

During my stint in the military from 1967-1969, I also rode the crest of the Jesus Movement, a national revival impacting the lives of countless young people and others. I experienced a powerful conversion that introduced me to the transforming power of God through receiving the Holy Spirit and studying the Bible.

Twenty years later in 1981, I enrolled in the Ph.D. program at Indiana University, pursuing a doctorate in English with a minor of Afro-American Studies. I completed my dissertation in 1986 entitled “Portrait of the Bondslave in the Bible: Slavery and Freedom in the Works of Four Afro-American Poets.” Of those four early Black poets discussed, I first heard of three of them as a freshman at Purdue in 1961.

As I reflect upon my life, I acknowledge that I have been blessed to enjoy the overflow of God’s goodness and grace. Today, I am a Vietnam veteran and cancer survivor of more than 20 years. In addition, I am a former registered pharmacist, a published poet and a writer, a retired professor of African American Literature, who continues to teach because “I love the teacher’s task and find my richest prize in minds that open and in eyes that ask.”

Just as I made up my mind in elementary school that I would someday make a significant contribution as an African American and someday do something to “make history,” I am sure that others now living and those who come after me also have a similar burning aspiration to “make history.” So often we think of history as people and events of the past; however, we must remember the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said, “The reader of history must replace the words ‘there’ and ‘then’ with the words ‘here’ and ‘now.’”

I close my sharing with an original poem shared during the opening session of a New Testament History Class that I taught in 1976 at a Bible college in Kansas when I knew that I was destined to teach on the collegiate level. That class and countless other events confirmed my desire someday to make history.

The Living Gallery of the New Testament

In the living gallery of the New Testament is reserved a special space
An empty canvas awaits each feature of your face.
Each of us paints a self-portrait in the minutest detail.
To develop your life’s masterpiece, you can never fail
When you follow Christ’s example, the Master of the Word,
Beholding as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord
Each day abounds with potential for matchless artistry.
Now is your golden moment—you are making “His Story.”

I close with this related song “History” by Maverick City Music



To come up smelling like a rose: what does it really mean?

February 10, 2021
To come up smelling like a rose: What does that commonly heard expression really mean from a spiritual perspective?

On February 10, 2021, instead of looking at the Verse of the Day, we are going to take a look at a common expression as the “Quote of the Day”:

“To come out/up smelling like a rose”

The Merriam Webster dictionary offers this definition:

“to have success or good fortune in a situation in which one was likely to fail, be harmed, etc.”

The Cambridge Dictionary has this to say about the expression:

“to have people believe that you are good and honest after a difficult situation that could have made you seem bad or dishonest”

I thought of all that Jesus Christ endured through his death, burial, and triumphant resurrection. Here is the account recorded in Colossians 2:12-15 (Amplified Bible):

12 having been buried with Him in baptism and raised with Him [to a new life] through [your] faith in the working of God, [as displayed] when He raised Christ from the dead.
13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh (worldliness, manner of life), God made you alive together with Christ, having [freely] forgiven us all our sins,
14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of legal demands [which were in force] against us and which were hostile to us. And this certificate He has set aside and completely removed by nailing it to the cross.
15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities [those supernatural forces of evil operating against us], He made a public example of them [exhibiting them as captives in His triumphal procession], having triumphed over them through the cross.

This passage inspired this poetic response:

Having. . .Having. . .Having. . .Having. . .Having. . .He made. . . 

Having forgiven all trespasses against us:
For every time we tried but failed and missed the mark,
When our flesh faltered, we received new strength within.
Christ, the Lord, washed and cleansed us from the stain of sin.
God made us to be lights that overcome the dark.
He set us free to sing on the wing, as a lark,
Having forgiven all trespasses against us.

Having wiped out the handwriting of ordinances:
The hand that records each failure to keep the Law
Graciously blots out each shortfall and each mistake
And releases us from the penalty, for Christ’s sake.
Through the eyes of love, He looked beyond what He saw
To decree that flesh should not be a fatal flaw,
Having wiped out the handwriting of ordinances.

Having taken it far from us, out of the way:
Guilt and shame removed and replaced with righteousness,
Transformed and fashioned with a new identity,
We stand in His presence, revealing the mystery.
Hurled and buried in the sea of forgetfulness,
The curse of sin has been replaced with blessedness,
Having taken it far from us, out of the way.

Having nailed it to the cross as a bold display,
Turning into triumph what seemed to be disgrace,
Symbolic sign displaying both shame and glory,
Dramatic unfolding of the greatest story.
To show his love for all, Christ took our place
To flaunt the victory right in the enemy’s face,
Having nailed it to the cross as a bold display.

Having disarmed principalities and powers,
Our triumphant warrior defeated every foe,
Crushing at once the head of the deadly serpent
To achieve our victory to the fullest extent.
To perform the greater works of Christ as we grow,
God enlightens and empowers that we might know,
Having disarmed principalities and powers.

He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
Coming attractions describe the Spectacular
Super-conquering show:
The captor has been made captive, a prisoner without parole
in his own prison,
The accuser of brethren, once idolized,
now the source of derision,
Stripped, crippled, toppled, and trampled
To be brought ever so low,
A foretaste of the day when every tongue shall confess
And every knee shall bow.
He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

Yes, indeed, we recognize and celebrate all that Jesus Christ went through when he endured the cross, despising the shame, and now he is seated in heavenly places at the right hand of the throne of God. As believers, we are also seated with him, having triumphed over sin, sickness, and even death itself.

The expression “smelling like a rose” also reminds us that gardeners recommend fertilizing roses in early spring to prepare for a bountiful, fragrant display of floral gardens that delight the eyes and please the noses of those who pass by. Ingredients in some of the fertilizers include manure, compost, and fish emulsions that may give off an unpleasant scent when applied, but as these elements are absorbed, the foul smell is replaced with a sweet-smelling fragrance. Indeed, we come up smelling like a rose in every situation that appears to be negative and designed to defeat us.

2 Corinthians 2:14 (New Living Translation) reminds us

But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume.

Michael W. Smith’s powerful song of worship refers to a rose to illustrate that Jesus Christ rose triumphantly “Above it All”:

God is faithful; that’s for sure

February 5, 2021

The Verse of the Day for February 5, 2021, once again highlights who the everlasting God is and what He does, as so brilliantly displayed in Psalm 33:4-5 (NIV):

For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.

The passage states “He is faithful is in all He does.” Throughout the Scriptures we find references to the faithfulness of God Almighty:

Once again, David makes these powerful declarations:

Psalm 145:13 (Holman Christian Standard Bible):

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; Your rule is for all generations. The Lord is faithful in all His words and gracious in all His actions.

Beyond the beauty of the Psalms of David, words of the New Testament also make known God’s faithfulness. Throughout the Scriptures we find that “. . . God is faithful and means what He says.” 1 Corinthians 1:9 (AMP) makes know this truth:

God is faithful [He is reliable, trustworthy, and ever true to His promise—He can be depended on], and through Him, you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Thessalonians 5:24 (AMP) further attests to His faithfulness:

Faithful and absolutely trustworthy is He who is calling you [to Himself for your salvation], and He will do it [He will fulfill His call by making you holy, guarding you, watching over you, and protecting you as His own]. Faithful is He who calls you who will also do it.

2 Thessalonians 3:3 (AMP):

But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you [setting you on a firm foundation] and will protect and guard you from the evil one.

Hebrews 10:23 (NKJV) offers these words of encouragement:

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

Other scriptures also remind us that God is faithful, beginning with Philippians 1:6 in the Amplified Bible:

6 And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.

God completes the good work begun in us so that as believers we will be complete in every good work to do His will, as Hebrews 13:20-21 offers this benediction:

20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well-pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen

This blessing and benediction also remind believers of God’s faithfulness:

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (AMP)

23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.

In Hebrews 6:10 (New Living Translation) we find another reminder that God is faithful and that He is not unjust:

For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.

As believers, we endeavor to serve God and minister to one another. Our efforts may not always be recognized nor appreciated. Those whom we serve in love may not always remember what we say and do, but we are assured that God never forgets. Not only is God, our Father, faithful and just, but He is also a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6), as the following poetic comments illustrate:

A Reminder: God Is Faithful

For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love,
which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered
to the saints and do minister.
Hebrews 6:10

All the good deeds you have done may not be extolled
When the fervor of God’s love has long since grown cold.
Some so quickly forget all the good you have done,
And they fail to recall you were the only one
To answer the call, seek the Lord and intercede.
Time after time you were the one to meet the need.
When others were busy and chose to walk away,
You were there and remained in the thick of the fray.
In dark times when words of thanks are distant memories,
Recall our God knows all things, for He alone sees
Your labor and saves every tear you have shed.
Our Father is ever mindful of how you serve,
And He shall reward you beyond all you deserve.
As you strive to finish your course, have no regret:
Our God is faithful–He will never forget.

In reflecting upon God’s faithfulness as expressed in Philippians 1:6 and elsewhere, I thought of this song which has come to mean so much to me: “Great Work” offered by Brian Courtney Wilson:

Despite wintry predictions, Spring is still coming!

February 3, 2021

According to tradition, on Groundhog Day, February 2, if the furry critter sees his shadow and emerges from his burrow, we are in store for 6 more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t and retreats into his dwelling, the weather forecast is for milder weather in the interim. Since 1886 the celebration of Groundhog Day on a grand scale has been associated with western Pennsylvania, home of the legendary Punxsutawney Phil, the famed rodent. As it turned out, Punxsutawney Phil did behold his shadow this year, indicating a forecast of 6 more weeks of cold weather although other groundhogs around the world provided opposing predictions of a short winter.

This past weekend, a winter storm, Orlena, swept through the Midwest on her way to the East coast, leaving 4-6 inches of ice and snow in her aftermath. As I was glancing out my window, I was grateful to be safe and warm inside. I also thought of the familiar expression, “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?’ I smiled as I thought, maybe it’s going to be an early spring this year, reminding myself. . . “Spring is coming.” These words caused me to remember my acting debut in the second grade in the basement of St. Timothy Community Church in Gary, Indiana when I played “Robin Redbreast with my red sweater and brown paper wings that I flapped vigorously as I ran across the stage proclaiming, “Spring is coming! Spring is coming! Spring is coming!”

A few years ago, my daughter, Melissa, sent me a card with the “Easter Legend of the Robin” on the cover:

A little grey robin, as he was flying to the Holy Land, saw Christ hanging on the cross. His heart filled with sadness. He noticed the crown of thorns the soldiers placed on the crucified Savior. The small bird, forgetting his timidity, flew down to remove a thorn from the brow of Christ. As he did so, a drop of Christ’s blood stained the little bird’s breast. The robin, through his act of love, earned the red badge of courage.

From this time forth, all robins have had redbreasts as reminders that one of them was kind to the Lord. Thus, the robin is truly the harbinger of spring. He welcomes Easter with his cheerful note of hope, reminding us that from death comes life.

In reflecting upon my acting debut, I composed a new song that I sing when I see robins returning in winter:

Red Robin, Red Robin—Harbinger of Spring,
Rear back with your redbreast
And sing, sing, sing.

Here is an original poem that offers a comforting reminder that although we may be in the midst of harsh winter weather that also symbolizes a dead time, a horrific season where hundreds of thousands of people have died due to the Coronavirus and other factors, we are waiting, anticipating. . .

Until Spring

So, when this corruptible has put on incorruption,
and this mortal has put on immortality,
then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written,
“Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death,
where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?

I Corinthians 15:54-55

Death, the enemy, no one can deny,
Snuffs out our candles in devious ways,
For each man must learn to number his days,
Although the soul still probes to fathom why.
The mind made numb with pain can only try
To make sense of the immense ache that stays.
The answer sounds since Adam but still dismays:
It is appointed unto man once to die.
Though grief surrounds us, comfort can be shown.
The sun melts frost with new life as surely
As blossoms will flourish from seeds once sown.
Until Spring, on tiptoe, we yearn to see
The day when we shall know as we are known,
When death is swallowed up in victory.

To round out this discussion is a magnificent rendering of Steven Curtis Chapman’s exquisite musical composition, a reminder that, indeed, “Spring is coming.”

Not my cooling board. . .not my winding-sheet:

January 23, 2021

Today, as I stepped out of the shower, and thanked God once again that I could take a shower on my own and that no one had to bathe me. As I was rejoicing and expressing my gratitude, I had a flashback of an experience occurring while growing up in a small Black church in mid-town Gary, Indiana in the 1950s. On countless Sunday mornings, the congregation gathered between the end of Sunday School and the actual opening of the morning service, and I recall that a dark-skinned deacon, whose name I can’t remember, would rise to lead the church in prayer. Beginning with familiar expressions of gratitude to God, the elder church official began with a prelude, slowly mounting in intensity before ending with a grand crescendo to lead the people of God to the Throne of God.

After a time, a couple of my buddies and I memorized the opening lines, snickering to ourselves as we bowed our heads repeating the familiar refrain that went something like this:

“Lord, thank you that the four walls of my room was not my grave, that my bed was not my cooling board, and my cover was not my winding-sheet.” I knew from context what the deacon meant, but I later learned that in African American culture a cooling board is a board used to present a dead body. According to definitions.net, “In winter months it would be difficult to bury the dead due to the earth being frozen, so the body was wrapped and propped in a barn until the ground thawed out.”

I learned the meaning of the term “winding-sheet” in graduate school while working on my doctorate with a minor in Afro-American Studies. I was introduced to a powerful short story, “Like a Winding Sheet,” by Ann Petry, a Harlem Renaissance author with whom I had something in common. We were both Black writers who were pharmacists. Because of my exposure to African American literature, I learned the meaning of this term used in the deacon’s prayer.

In my daily time of prayer, I give thanks to God for another day that I am alive and well and “clothed in my right mind,” another phrase from the deacon’s prayer. Having been diagnosed with prostate cancer more than twenty years ago, I have come to understand on the deepest personal level exactly what the good deacon was saying in his prayer that was repeated on Sunday mornings across the land back in the day. In reflecting on my childhood experience, I was moved to tears and inspired to write this psalm of praise to God:

Lord, thank you for my soul.

That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent.

O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.

Psalm 30:12 (AMP)

Lord, thank you for my soul. My God, you are so kind.
I woke up this morning sleeping in my own bed,         
Another day you clothed me in my right mind,       
Not wrapped in a winding-sheet but in your love instead.

If it had not been for you, I could have been dead,
Laid out on a cooling board, but one more time you remind
Me you are God of the living just as Jesus said.
Lord, thank you for my soul. My God, you are so kind.

Lord, you healed my body and gave me a sound mind.
You are my healer, and I believe what you said.
What you loose in heaven, no power on earth can bind.
I woke up this morning sleeping in my own bed.

You showed when you raised Jesus out from among the dead
The spirit of the living God cannot be confined.
Lord, I trust you—you alone know what lies ahead:
Another day you clothed me in my right mind,

Before you touched my soul, I was deaf, dumb, and blind.
After all I’ve been through, Lord knows I should have been dead,
But one more day you kept me clothed in my right mind,
Not wrapped in a winding-sheet but in your love instead.

From the soles of my feet to the crown of my head,
My total healing from the Lord is what is I find.
Yes, I can still pray, thank you for the presence of mind.
Lord, thank you for my soul.

I discovered this recording by Donny Hathaway, “Thank You, Master, for My Soul” where he mentions the familiar phrases I discussed and makes sidebar comments, “Y’all don’t know what I’m talking about.” I chuckled and fought back the tears, saying “Oh, yes I do!” Listen and reflect with gratitude with me.

What do you know? Three responses

January 16, 2021

Recently I thought of the expression “What do you know?” as I began my day in a reflective way. That phrase was also the title of a quiz show heard on BBC radio in the 1950s and 1960s. Generally used as a rhetorical question,  the expression also brings to mind a previous blog post entitled “These three things I Know,” revised and re-posted here:

  1. Some things I know
  2. Some things I don’t know
  3. Some things only God knows

Some things I know. . .

One thing I know for sure is that that God loves me.  I know that I love God and that’s really all that matters.  Not only do I know that God loves me and that I love God, but these lyrics express what I really know:

I know that I know that I know that I know.

I know that I know You still love me.

I know that I know that I know that I know.

I know that I know You still love me.

No matter how many times I go astray

And leave your side and choose to disobey. 

When I’m overwhelmed and can’t even pray,

No matter what I do or do not say.

I know that I know that I know that I know.

I know that I know You still love me.

I know that I know that I know that I know.

I know that I know You still love me.

No one else knows my heart: You are the one

To call me home when I have no place to run.

When I look all around at all that I’ve done,

Despite all my failures, You still call me Son.

I know that I know that I know that I know.

I know that I know You still love me.

I know that I know that I know that I know.

I know that I know You still love me.

Romans 8:28 is my favorite verse in the Bible, and it offers this reminder that because God is good, “We know that  all things work together for the good, to them that love God, to them that are the called according to His purpose.” So no matter how bad any situation may appear to be,  I know that it will work together for the good.

Some things I don’t know. . .

I recall the lyrics to one of my all-time favorite Gospel songs “I Don’t Know about Tomorrow.” This song was especially meaningful because it was a song that my late sister-in-law, Phyllis Warren Murdock sang. Listen to this recording of the song that she sang so beautifully.

Without question, I don’t know the answers to many of life’s enigmas that seem to defy the mind of man. Quite honestly, I don’t know the answers to the questions that God asked Job. Some things are not mine to know. . . if God doesn’t tell me in the Word or by revelation, then I just don’t know

Romans 11:33-34 reminds us of this truth:

33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?

I recall the lyrics to the hymn “I Know Whom I Have Believed” which states a series of things that the hymn writer does not know:

I know not why God’s wondrous grace
  To me He hath made known,
Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love
  Redeemed me for His own.

The chorus of the familiar hymn resounds with this assurance found in 2 Timothy 1:12 :

But “I know Whom I have believed
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.”

The last verse brings to mind something that neither I nor anyone else knows:

I know not when my Lord may come,
  At night or noon-day fair,
Nor if I’ll walk the vale with Him,
  Or “meet Him in the air.”

Some things only God knows . . .

When asked about his return to the earth, Jesus Christ responded in Matthew 24:36:

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

Although we are assured that the Lord Jesus Christ will return, no one is privy of the exact day and hour, but “of the times and seasons we have no need,”  as I Thessalonians 5:1-3 remind us that the Lord’s return will happen suddenly, at the precise time that no one knows, only God.

When confronted with staggering vision of the dry bones, the prophet Ezekiel is asked a question in Ezekiel 37:3:

“Son of Man, can these bones live?” He responds, “O Lord God, You know!” As the New Living Testament puts it, “O Sovereign Lord,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.”

In thinking about things that only God knows, I recall this original poem written to express that very idea:

“Lord, You Know!”

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities:

For we know not what we should pray for

 as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes

intercession for us with groanings

which cannot be uttered.

Romans 8:16

Many times we journey and don’t know which way to go.

When the right words won’t come, and we can’t even pray.    

Sometimes the only thing to say is “Lord, you know!”

We set our sights above but our thoughts fall below.

Though we walk by faith, we stumble along the way.

Many times we journey and don’t know which way to go.

We triumph in Christ and rise to defeat each foe.

Even though we wage spiritual warfare night and day,

Sometimes the only thing to say is “Lord, you know!”

God puts us in a place for us to prove what we know;

He tests us to see whether we rebel or obey.

Many times we journey and don’t know which way to go.

God leads the way and only asks that we follow.

We start in strength but often seem to go astray.

Sometimes the only thing to say is “Lord, you know!”

We long to serve the Lord, the one who loves us so,

But doubts and fears arise and somehow still dismay.

Many times we journey and don’t know which way to go.

Sometimes the only thing to say is “Lord, you know!”

Despite what we may think that we know and what we may think that we don’t know, we are comforted and assured with the words of I John 3:20:

For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.

We conclude our discussion with the classic hymn, “I Know Whom I Have Believed” which actually responds to what I know as well as what I do not know:

One more reminder: God is in control

January 14, 2021


A new day dawns after the horrific unfolding of events taking place in the Nation’s Capital and elsewhere across the globe last week. As we continue to pray, I recall a silver-framed plaque that was given to me with the words “God is in control.” This quotation is a comforting reminder during these stressful, perilous times described as “difficult to deal with.” The quote also brings to mind Psalm 46: 10:

Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen; I will be exalted in the earth.

Here is the entire psalm from the Amplified Bible:

1 GOD IS our Refuge and Strength [mighty and impenetrable to temptation], a very present and well-proved help in trouble.

2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains be shaken into the midst of the seas,

3 Though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling and tumult. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!

4 There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High.

5 God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God will help her right early [at the dawn of the morning].

6 The nations raged, the kingdoms tottered and were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted.

7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our Refuge (our Fortress and High Tower). Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!

8 Come, behold the works of the Lord, Who has wrought desolations and wonders in the earth.

9 He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow into pieces and snaps the spear in two; He burns the chariots in the fire.

10 Let be and be still and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth!

11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our Refuge (our High Tower and Stronghold). Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!

Verse 10 also introduces this poem with the first three words of the psalm as its title:

Be Still and Know

Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
Psalms 46:10

Be still and know that I am God, that I am the eternal one.
Though your cherished dreams seem to have faded and gone
The way of all flesh, my divine plans you shall see,
As I weave the tapestry of eternity.
Though you seem forsaken, you are never alone,
Even when the burden of dark sin cannot atone,
And the hearts of men have hardened and turned to stone:
Be still and know that I am God.

Though storms may overwhelm, and friends may abandon
When diseases surface to assault flesh and bone.
These scenes will reveal the people we thought we could be,
As words of the Psalmist comfort to remind you and me,
When this life is over, and all is said and done:
Be still and know that I am God.

As we pause and calmly think about that—as we “selah” this Psalm, we also give heed to these words—

Be Still

Be still and know that I am God.
Be still in your soul and be at peace.
Rise above your circumstance and rest in me.

In closing, listen to Steven Curtis Chapman singing “Be Still and Know.”

Imitating God by walking in love

January 7, 2021

Taken from Ephesians 5:1-2 (NLT), the Verse of the Day for January 7, 2021, offers this exhortation:

[Living in the Light] Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

The Amplified Bible puts it this way:

Therefore be imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father].
2 and walk continually in love [that is, value one another—practice empathy and compassion, unselfishly seeking the best for others], just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and sacrifice to God [slain for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance.

Verse 1 establishes the idea of being followers or imitators of God, and verse 2 provides a notable example of such a faithful follower, as displayed in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, the ultimate illustration of “Like father, like son.”

The passage from Ephesians also brought to mind something written more than ten years ago that we can apply to our lives, especially today:

In the Footsteps of Our Faithful Fathers

Follow the steps of good men instead,
and stay on the paths of the righteous.
Proverbs 2:20

We still walk the paths of the righteous, chosen ones,
In the footsteps of our faithful fathers, as sons
And daughters, we follow their lead as they show us the way,
Acknowledging God in all that we do and say.
We have not been here, for each step is strange and new.
Moving ahead, our eyes are now only on You.
As we continue to pursue the paths of truth,
We see Your guiding hand has been there since our youth.
Former days intertwined in confusion and strife,
In darkened, dead-end pathways, all bearing no life.
Along our journey, we have known Your grace before,
Assured that Your favor will abound even more.
We are strengthened and encouraged in this new phase
And pledge to press onward for the rest of our days.

Elevation Worship offers “Walk in Love” inspired by Ephesians 5:1-2 and other verses:

Good News Day—Break it Down–What the Scriptures Say

January 2, 2021

 This is the day the LORD has made;
 we will rejoice and be glad in it.
 Psalm 118:24

As the New Year unfolds, I remind myself that I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but I resolve that each day will hold “Good News!” I often recite the original poem “Good News Day” on birthdays and other occasions of celebration. I recall sharing the poem on my birthday when I happened to be part of a Bible study taught by Thamo Naidoo from South Africa. After hearing my joyful recitation, he remarked. “This isn’t just a nice poem, but it’s a prophetic declaration from the Lord.” Years later, I thought about his comment, and I decided to look at the poem more closely. Today’s blog post examines some Scriptural references that come to mind as we examine the poem line by line:

It’s a good news day

The title brings to mind the account of the four leprous men who entered the camp of the enemy and made a remarkable discovery:

8 When the men with leprosy arrived at the edge of the camp, they went into one tent after another, eating and drinking wine; and they carried off silver and gold and clothing and hid it. 9 Finally, they said to each other, “This is not right. This is a day of good news, and we aren’t sharing it with anyone! If we wait until morning, some calamity will certainly fall upon us. Come on, let’s go back and tell the people at the palace.”

no blues day

Psalm 30:11 (AMP)

You have turned my mourning into dancing for me; You have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
I have also composed some originals related psalms: “No Mo Blues” and “Little Boy’s Blues” which reiterate the same message.

new shoes

This line makes me think of “Parable of the Prodigal Son” the source of inspiration for “Homecoming” another original poem “Homecoming.” Here is a reference:

Luke 15:22 (KJV)

But the father said to his servants, bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:

no way to lose

2 Corinthians 2:14 (AMPC) reinforces the same message:

But thanks be to God, Who in Christ always leads us in triumph [as trophies of Christ’s victory] and through us spreads and makes evident the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere,

What a good news day!

It’s a great day

Psalm 42:8 (NLT)

But each day the LORD pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life.
I have also composed a number of original songs from a collection: “Songs in the Night Sung in the Morning”

I can’t wait day!

We look forward to each new day with great expectations:

Romans 10:11 (AMP):

For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM [whoever adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Him] WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED [in his expectations].”

lift your voice

let’s rejoice

Philippians 4:4 (AMP) reminds us of this reality:

4 Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, take pleasure in Him]; again, I will say, rejoice!
Rejoice in the Lord, always, and again, I say rejoice

Good God, a good news day!

Here are verses to remind us that we serve a “Good God!”:

Psalm 34:8 (NKJV)

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

Lamentations 3:25

The LORD is good to those who wait [confidently] for Him, To those who seek Him [on the authority of God’s word].

It’s a payday

For those who serve the Lord, every day is a payday:

Psalm 68:19 (NKJV)

Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits, The God of our salvation! Selah

I often encourage believers to make every day a “Pay Day.” Although that’s sweet, I’m not talking about a candy bar. To illustrate what I mean by “get paid every day,” I often recite “Barter” by Sara Teasdale. Here is a definition of the verb barter: to exchange (goods or services) for other goods or services without using money.

Isaiah 55:1 expresses the same sentiments:

“Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink— even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk— it’s all free!

goin my way day
no nay–all yea
what you say

When it comes to the promises of God, there is not yes and no, but this verse clarifies the matter:

2 Corinthians 2:20 (AMP):

For as many as are the promises of God, in Christ, they are [all answered] “Yes.” So, through Him, we say our “Amen” to the glory of God.

Such a good news day!

It’s a live it up day
overflowin cup day

This line brings to mind one of the most recognized lines from Psalm 23:

Psalm 23:5 (NLT):

You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.

It’s a bright and bubbly
doubly lovely

This line refers to our gracious, beneficent Father:

Isaiah 62:7

Instead of your [former] shame, you will have a double portion; And instead of humiliation, your people will shout for joy over their portion. Therefore, in their land they will possess double [what they had forfeited]; Everlasting joy will be theirs.

Show-nuff good news day!

 Mandisa offers a musical summary of  the celebratory poem with “Good News”

There may be other scriptures that come to mind when you hear “Good News Day. If you would be so kind, share them in the comments below, and may each day of 2021 be

‘. . . a bright and bubbly,
Doubly lovely,
Show-nuff good news day!’

A Rose for all seasons: Celebrating 93 years

December 22, 2020

Today, December 22, 2020, is another “Good News Day,” as we celebrate the 93rd birthday of a wonderful woman, my mother-in-law, Rosa Lee Williams, affectionately called, “Grandma Rosa.” Here is a special tribute to this special lady, our West Virginia Rose:

For Rosa Lee Williams
in celebration of her ninety-third birthday
December 22, 2020

A Rose for All Seasons

The wilderness and the solitary place
shall be glad for them, and the desert
shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.

Isaiah 35:1

We glorify the Lord for all He has done
And express our gratitude for countless reasons.
We praise God for the flowers, for each one,
For a Rose that grows in beauty, a Rose for all seasons.

When blossoms first open and birds begin to sing
And the voice of the turtledove is heard once more,
As the Rose of Sharon heralds the coming of Spring,
So, we glimpse our future to see what God has in store.

The hot, hazy summer days all too swiftly pass,
As our minds try to recall each beautiful scene.
Fleeting times of this season revolve and encompass
The last Rose of summer with leaves of deepest green.

A Rose in autumn offers a lesson we can learn:
We see that the budding Rose never stays the same.
Life is ever-changing, as leaves begin to turn.
At all times, we bless the Lord and praise His name.

Though slowly, a Rose still grows, even in winter.
As a new day is dawning, we look ahead
And seek to do God’s will, to abide in the center,
To follow the Lord wherever our paths have led.

We want to be enlightened, and everyone wants to know
The secret to longevity; we desire to know this:
In our garden a precious Rose still blossoms and grows:
Our Rose for all seasons, reminds us once more—“God is!”