Prostate Cancer Awareness Month 2021

September 19, 2021

As the ninth month of the year continues to unfold, we sound the trumpet to alert the public that September has been designated as Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. As we focus on this important health concern among American men, we revise and repost this entry.

About 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime. Last year, over 170,000 men received such a diagnosis. Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men, especially in African American men. However, prostate cancer develops mainly in older men. About 6 out of 10 cases are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older, and it is rare before age 40. The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 66.

Although prostate cancer can be a serious disease, the good news is that most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it—”I am a living witness!” In fact, in the United States, more than 2.9 million men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lives are still alive today. A diagnosis of prostate cancer or any other cancer or debilitating disease is not a “death sentence,” but it can be a “life sentence” to build your faith and trust in God.

During National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, we remember those we have lost to prostate cancer and celebrate survivors, as we renew our commitment to preventing, detecting, and treating this frequently occurring illness. During September, we encourage men to have a health check-up and talk to their doctor about prostate cancer. In fact, September 17 is also designated Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day. Light blue is the color of the ribbon bringing attention to prostate cancer.

Blue signifies the blue skies or the life-giving air and often symbolizes hope or good health. As the poet proclaims:

pastel blue
lighter, brighter
subtle twinge
of powder blue
like Betty Lou
hop-scotchin
up to sky blue
and back

As a prostate cancer survivor, I recognize the personal significance of September as Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Receiving a diagnosis of prostate cancer in 2000 was life-changing for me, as I asked God what to do. He gave me a holistic strategy, a battle plan, that took me down the road less traveled by that ultimately led to my being not just as a survivor but more than a conqueror. I share my testimony in Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs. The book closes with an original poem of celebration with Romans 8:37 as its introduction, expressing my new identity not, just during Prostate Cancer Awareness Month but every day I draw breath:

Embracing Your Life Sentence–
More than a Conqueror


Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors
and gain an overwhelming victory through Him
who loved us [so much that He died for us].

Romans 8:37 (AMP)


Embracing Your Life Sentence, more than a conqueror,
Defying the odds as a brave conquistador.
Despite intense pressure, I learn to rest in grace,
More than enough to withstand the daily tests I face,
Not merely to survive but to thrive even more.

A mighty warrior, triumphant super-victor
With a cause, prepared not to die but to live for.
At times I fell behind but fought to keep the pace:
Embracing Your Life Sentence, more than a conqueror,

To fulfill all the will of God and then to soar
To heights sublime where I have never been before.
Overcomer, bearing light in the darkest place,
I still fight the good fight, as I finish my race,
Moving forward, seeking to find the next open door:
Embracing Your Life Sentence, more than a conqueror,

We close with Steven Curtis Chapman reinforcing the message “More than Conquerors”:

My book is available through Amazon.com and wherever books are sold and through my website: https://lonnelledwardjohnson.com. Check out another tribute to Prostate Cancer Awareness Month on Medium.com and celebrate the goodness and the grace of God with me.

Dr. J is celebrating as not just a survivor but more than a conqueror.

The anointing of honor: Before honor is humility

September 18, 2021

Philippians 2:3-4, the Verse of the Day for September 18, 2021,  is revised and reposted with  this reminder:

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, those who serve the Lord seek to set their priorities: They say to themselves and to others, “God is first; others are second, and I am willing to be last.” The first and great commandment establishes the order for our lives:

Matthew 28:37-39:

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38 This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Romans 12:10 is another related verse that comes to mind when we think of putting others first:

10 Love one another with brotherly affection [as members of one family], giving precedence and showing honor to one another.

The New Living Translation puts it this way:

10 Love each other with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other.

In a previous blog entry, I discussed the term “Honor one another” and commented, “To honor means to place value on, respect, to place esteem upon, to esteem. The word also means “to prefer—to go before, to lead, to be intentional.” Clearly, this is the essence of the latter part of Romans 12:10.

Apostle John Tetsola notes that “Honor produces an exchange, in that when we give honor, we receive honor in return.” He elaborates upon this principle by stating that associated with honor is the “process of welcoming the person you honor in your heart, whereby you celebrate their anointing and receive the individual with gladness.” He calls this the “process of acceptance” which we apply when we honor one another.

This same sentiment is expressed in 1 Thessalonians 5:13:

13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.

Dr. Tetsola, in a teaching on the subject of honor, also inspired this response:

The Anointing  of Honor          

The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom;

and before honor is humility.

Proverbs 15:33

“Our honor activates the honor that is in the heart of God.”  

Apostle John Tetsola

“Before honor is humility,” says the Lord.                  

We give honor to those who minister the Word,

 Not withholding honor to whom honor is due.

We follow these precepts, for the Word of God is true,

Giving life, sharper than any two-edged sword.           

We honor one another and walk in one accord.                 

Husbands and wives—symbolic of a three-fold cord—

Must cherish honor, appreciate its value:

 “Before honor is humility.”                                  

The power of this precept cannot be ignored.   

All those who bestow honor have great reward.

We must give honor in all that we say and do,

Pressing toward the mark for the prize, we continue          

Striving for the perfection we all are moving toward:         

“Before honor is humility.”    

To wrap up our discussion, song writer Jimmy Scott sings a composition “To Honor You,” a tribute to the memory of a loved one.

On the 20th Anniversary of 9-11: Remembering Beauty for Ashes

September 11, 2021

On the 20th Anniversary of 9-11, we remember the tragic events of that day, but we also remember the awesome power of God and His amazing grace to restore.

Today, September 11, 2021, marks the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington DC. In addition, the nation pauses to remember the ninth anniversary of the September 11, 2012 attack against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi where four Americans were killed, including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya. On such solemn occasions, we look for rays of hope, like radiant beams of light that penetrate plumes of dust and debris on that fateful day, September 11, 2001. This morning, as we face the devastating consequences of events occurring in Afghanistan, recall this passage from Isaiah 61:3:

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.

Today, we reflect upon God’s amazing ability to transform the most horrific circumstances into a glorious display of His wisdom, power, and might. The expression “beauty for ashes” from Isaiah 61:3 offers a series of such transformations or exchanges that only He can give. That particular verse introduces this original poem with that title:

Beauty for Ashes

To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.

Isaiah 61:3

Beauty for ashes–we are transformed to testify                                                                             

Of lives so radically changed that we might glorify

The God of Heaven who touches the earth with His love

That overflows with bountiful blessings from above.

We are blessed and highly favored–no one can deny.           

That we should be chosen by God some may wonder why,                

But none can fathom God’s grace, no matter how they try.     

Ascend into God’s presence on the wings of a dove:

Beauty for ashes.                                    

Many times it may seem as if life has passed us by,

But God is faithful; on Him we can always rely.           

Nothing in this life surpasses God’s unchanging love;

It is far beyond all that we could ask or think of.          

Remember that God is not a man that He should lie:

Beauty for ashes.        

I also recall having completed another poem containing a reference to Isaiah 61:3.  Shortly after writing the poem, I was asked to officiate at a funeral service and do the eulogy for someone who had not been affiliated with a local church. It was an unusual service for me in that for the first time the individual being eulogized had been cremated. On a table in front of the mortuary was an urn that contained the ashes of the deceased.  As it turned out, this was perfect occasion for sharing the previously composed poem with the line “Just as from ashes, beauty and splendor arise.” The poem also contains a theme related to God with whom all things are possible and with whom nothing is impossible.

 No Matter How You Phrase It

And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God 

for with God all things are possible 

Mark 10:27

For with God nothing shall be impossible.

Luke 1:37

         

There is none like God who never fails to come through:

Whether you say “With God all things are possible”

Or say “With God nothing shall be impossible.”

No matter how you phrase it, the Word is still true.

As those who observes the times, we wisely surmise

That the Prince of Peace ascended to end all strife,

 Leading captive even death to release new life.

Just as from ashes, beauty and splendor arise,

We boldly declare the Word of God and assert

The Providence of an all-wise Father who makes

Barrenness to bloom with rivers in the desert.

With the Word of Life, even death itself awakes.

We seek to walk in wisdom and number our days,

Humbly discerning that His ways are not our ways.

In addition to reading the poem as part of the eulogy, I also commented about the beauty of gemstones that are formed from volcanic ash. Did you know that ashes in volcanoes under extreme heat and pressure provide the perfect conditions to form certain precious stones, such as diamonds?  As the volcanoes erupt, they push the gemstones to the surface where they can be seen after the site has cooled.  So, indeed, God both figuratively and literally “gives beauty for ashes.”

Crystal Lewis and Ron Kenoly offer a tender rendition of the song “Beauty for Ashes.”

On the anniversary of  the terrorist attacks of 9-11, we recall God’s amazing power to transform an unimaginable disaster into a glorious display of His power and grace to restore.

A special poem for a special lady on our 48th anniversary

August 31, 2021
A photo taken the first year of our marriage in the Washington DC area where we, by God’s Providence, now live.

On August 31, 2021, I begin this special day with a heart overflowing with gratitude to God for my beloved, Brenda Joyce, the wife of my youth, in whom I rejoice. Today is our 48th wedding anniversary, and I celebrate this grand occasion with a special poem for a special lady.

This particular poem is a villanelle, a nineteen-line poem with lines of the opening stanza repeated throughout the poem and in the closing stanza. It also has elements of a Golden Shovel poem where I take another poem where each line or various lines serve as the end words in the new poem. Most remarkably, the new poem was inspired by a poem that wrote for Brenda “Before I Knew You.”

Here is that original poem followed by “An Amethyst Remembrance” which refers to one of the precious stones in the breastplate of the high priest and in the walls in the New Jerusalem. Amethyst is also the stone associated with the 48th anniversary in France and one of Brenda’s favorite colors.

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.

An Amethyst Remembrance                                                              

Variation on a Golden Shovel poem based on “Before I Knew You”
for my beloved Brenda on our 48th Anniversary

Another precious stone–amethyst remembrance

Stone upon Stone: Psalms of Remembrance

You touched my life and filled my heart with love 

I thank God who heard and answered my prayer,          

Beyond all I could have ever thought of.              

You are God’s gift I still stand in awe of.           

I prayed and God brought me to a place where            

You touched my life and filled my heart with love.    

Firm as a rock, yet gentle as a dove                    

Is steadfast love that will always be there,             

Beyond all I could have ever thought of.               

You were my answer from the Lord above.                 

You fulfilled my deep desire to share.                 

You touched my life and filled my heart with love.     

You are the one—”You make me feel brand new.”          

A pure-hearted love such as ours is rare,              

Beyond all I could have ever thought of.               

You know, it’s still true—“If only you knew.”          

You see, I try to show how much I care.                 

You touched my life and filled my heart with love.         

Beyond all I could have ever thought of.              

One one of the lines in the new poem inspired by the first poem mentions a song that continues to be my heart’s song expressed to my Beloved BJ–“If  Only You Knew

Reflecting on the goodness of God on a special day

August 11, 2021
Here is quotation that I use as the motto for every writing class I teach and a statement I apply each day of my life.

As an adjunct professor of English currently starting a new semester at St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh, NC, I share a weekly email devotional with my students. A new semester started today, August 11, 2021, which turns out to be an especially significant day for me. Not only is today, the first day of classes where I teach, but it is also the 47th anniversary of my ordination to the Christian ministry and the 5th birthday of my grandson, Kingston Edward Simkins. All these events intersect in a glorious display of the Providence of God. I am posting this email devotional that represents my life and my ministry.

The devotional opens with a quotation attributed to Saint Jerome:

Good, better, best
Never let it rest
Until your good is better
And your better is best

Professional athletes, such as Tim Duncan and others, use this motto in an athletic context, but we can apply the statement in an academic context as well.

In discussing this inspirational quote, let us look for a moment at the adjective “good” which is derived from “God” who alone is good. Indeed, Jesus Christ said, “There is none good but the Father.” Good is an adjective, and an adjective has a comparative form and a superlative form. When you compare two objects, one is said to be better than the other. If you compare three or more items, one is selected as the best of the group. With God, however, there is no comparative or superlative. No, God has not seen “better” days, and God does not have the “best” day He’s had in a long time in comparison to others. With God every day is a “Good News Day” because “God is good.” Period! Because God is good, “. . . all things work together for the good, to them that love God, to them that are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28—my favorite verse in the whole Bible) So no matter how bad the situation may appear to be, it will work together for the good.

“O, taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the man that puts his trust in Him.”
“For the Lord is good, and His mercy endures forever.”

To further illustrate the truths of the opening quote, take a look at the video excerpt from “Facing the Giants.” Here we have a coach asking one of his players to “him his best.” That’s really all that anyone can ask of another person. Even so, as the facilitator of this class, that’s all I’m asking of you.


As we strive to apply this inspirational quote to every aspect of our lives, there should be an underlying motivation: that we want to express to God our gratitude for all that He has done for us through Christ Jesus, His Son, the least that we can do is give him our best. Like the coach in “Facing the Giants” that’s all that God is asking of us. This should be our response: “Giving My Best to You, Lord.” as offered by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir:

All Scripture is God-breathed. . .

July 30, 2021

The Verses of the Day highlighted on the Logos Bible Software homepage for July 30, 2021, come from 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and reveal the source and purpose of Scripture:

These two verses indicate the source and purpose of Scripture which is more clearly expressed in the Amplified Bible:

16 Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action),

17 So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Scripture Release offers this version of 2 Timothy 3:16 as a scripture memory song:

In thinking of the Scriptures as words given by the inspiration of God or as the” God-breathed word,” another related verse comes to mind:

2 Peter 1:21

For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost

In discussing “Our God-breathed Bible”, teacher John McArthur comments,

“So, when you pick up your Bible, you’re not reading the word of men, you’re reading the Word of God that was written down by men who were moved along in the process by the power of the Holy Spirit. “

When God breathes life comes forth. When God breathed into the nostrils of his creation in Genesis and he became a living soul. Likewise, the Word that God breathed is “alive and full of power” or living and powerful” (Hebrews 4:12). In thinking about the power of the breath of God, the hymn “Breathe on Me, Breath of God” came to mind, rendered here in a contemporary style:

Not  only is all scripture “God-breathed” but its purpose is that believer, the one who puts his trust in God, might be “complete and proficient,” fully equipped, as a cruise ship is thoroughly prepared and outfitted for its maiden and subsequent voyages.

The New Century Version offers this rendering of 2 Timothy 3:17:

Using the Scriptures, the person who serves God will be capable, having all that is needed to do every good work.

The Verse(s) of the Day are wonderful reminders of the source and the purpose of the Word of God.

     

July 4, 2021: Learning to live in a state of dependence

July 4, 2021

On July 4, 2021, the Verse of the Day examines Psalm 33:12, but to understand more fully the position of the Lord God Almighty toward the nations of the world, take a look at Psalm 33:10-12 in the Amplified Bible:

The LORD nullifies the counsel of the nations;
He makes the thoughts and plans of the people ineffective.
11
The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
The thoughts and plans of His heart through all generations.
12
Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the nation whose God is the LORD,
The people whom He has chosen as His own inheritance.

On this Fourth of July, when so much that plagues our nation appears beyond our control, we not only celebrate our independence as a nation, but we also recognize more than ever our dependence upon God as well. This original psalm reinforces that same message:

Learning to Live in a State of Dependence

And whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed,

do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and in [dependence upon]

His Person, giving praise to God the Father through Him.

Colossians 3:17 (Amplified Bible)

God’s promises never fail; we know the Word of God is true.                          

We learn to watch, fight, and pray, to be patient as we labor                               

We have no fear but faith for what God says about me and you.        

We taste the fullness of joy that He desires us to savor,            

As He lavishly displays His love with abundant favor.             

God, the righteous judge, avenges those who place their trust in Him          

And assures those who lean on Him He shall in nowise condemn.    

As we seek to keep His command to love God and our neighbor,      

The Word of God goes ahead as a plow to prepare fallow ground,                 

Fertile soil found in hearts that have been made pure with no pretense,

Where the Father’s precious seeds of faith will flourish and abound.

With God, we are learning to live in a state of dependence,

Where we are free to choose to serve, knowing we shall prevail.

Transient trials swiftly pass, but God’s promises never fail.                

During these presently turbulent times, never has there been a greater need for divine guidance and direction for the nation though prayer. The words of the spiritual continue to ring true, declaring, “There is trouble all over this world.” During such times of desperation and deepest need, our nation cries out to God.

O God our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come.
Our shelter from the stormy blast
And our eternal home.

In “History Reflection for 4th of July: How Prayer Underpinned American Independence” Fr. Stephen Lynch, states, “Prayer played an important role in the American struggle for independence.” He goes on to relate a request that the meetings of the Continental Congress be opened with prayer. After considerable disagreement, the Congress agreed to have the Rev. Mr. Duche read a prayer. John Adams describes what transpired:

Accordingly, next morning the Rev. Duche appeared with his Episcopal vestments and read the 85th Psalm. I never saw a greater effect produced upon an audience. It seemed as if heaven had ordained that psalm to be read on that morning.

George Washington was kneeling there, alongside him Patrick Henry, James Madison, and John Hancock. By their side there stood, bowed in reverence, the Puritan patriots of New England, who at that moment had reason to believe that an armed soldiery was wasting their humble households. They prayed fervently for America, for Congress, for the Province of Massachusetts Bay, and especially for the town of Boston [whose port had been closed and in which British troops were being quartered.

Lynch concludes by saying, “The First Continental Congress proved to be an inspiring example of the fraternal unity that can come through devout prayer.” Without question, the need to pray for our nation continues, being mindful of the words of Jesus Christ, who told his disciples “. . . it was necessary for them to pray consistently and never quit.”

Our reflections on the 4th of July conclude, as Michael Card offers this song as a heartfelt prayer for the nation: “Heal our Land”:

Reflections on the Journey—Strengthened for the Journey Ahead

June 23, 2021

Last week as it unfolded into a new week included my 79th birthday on Thursday, June 17 and Father’s Day on June 20. Sometime my birthday occurs on the third Sunday in June, but whether these two occasions coincide or not, this period of time is significant for me, as I reflect with deepest gratitude to God for these two grand occasions. Indeed, I have been in a reflective mood these past few days, and when I look at the Verse of the Day for June 23, 2021, I continue to pause and consider deeply, to “Selah” one of my favorite passages from the Old Testament. Today’s Verse of the Day comes from Isaiah 40:31, but I have committed the entire closing passage to memory because it offers great comfort and assurance, so needed in my life at this time:

Isaiah 40:28-31 (New Living Translation):

28 Have you never heard?
    Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
    No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
29 He gives power to the weak
    and strength to the powerless.
30 Even youths will become weak and tired,
    and young men will fall in exhaustion.
31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint.

In Psalm 103:3-5 (NLT) we find another reference to being renewed like the eagle.

He forgives all my sins
    and heals all my diseases.
He redeems me from death
    and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
He fills my life with good things.
    My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!

These passages also bring to mind the closing verses of Psalm 27, my favorite Psalm:

Psalm 27:13-14

New King James Version (NKJV)

13 I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.

14 Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

Psalm 27:14 also inspired the following original psalm that I recite to myself and share with others:  

Strengthened for the Journey

Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,

and he shall strengthen your heart;

wait, I say, on the LORD!

Psalm 27:14

Let us pause to reflect upon the past,

Not with longing to relive bygone days.

Though some were fine, such moments cannot last

A lifetime. The budding rose never stays

The same but unfolds in lovelier ways.

Let us linger to absorb the essence

Of this moment’s triumph. Another phase

Of growth we note within our lifetime since

We first began the quest toward excellence.

Let us look ahead with vision and strive

Toward greater goals, for each day we commence

To grow toward our perfection, as we thrive.

May we see clearly where our paths have led

And be strengthened for the journey ahead.                                                    

Donnie McClurkin and Karen Clark Sheard offer this comforting advice: “Wait on the Lord.”

Blessed beyond words

June 21, 2021

In reflecting over the past week which included my 79th birthday and Father’s Day, my soul overflows with gratitude to God for innumerable blessings that I continue to enjoy. My immediate family and my spiritual family of brothers and sisters in Christ have been so gracious in expressing their love and warmest regards for my well-being. Although I cannot respond to every good wish on Facebook and comment on blog posts, please know that I am so grateful beyond words.

To say that I am “blessed” is quite the understatement, and the term I use so often has become almost a cliché. The expression “blessed” goes back to the first passage of scripture I ever committed to memory more than 65 years ago, back in the day, in what we called “junior high school.” I remember that Mrs. Little, the local undertaker’s wife, gathered kids from the neighborhood and in an improvised Vacation Bible School, told us to memorize Psalm 1. Although I memorized the First Psalm in the King James Version, here is the translation of one of my favorite psalms in the Amplified Bible:

Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked [following their advice and example],
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit [down to rest] in the seat of scoffers (ridiculers).

But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And on His law [His precepts and teachings] he [habitually] meditates day and night.

And he will be like a tree firmly planted [and fed] by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season;
Its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers [and comes to maturity].


The wicked [those who live in disobedience to God’s law] are not so,
But they are like the chaff [worthless and without substance] which the wind blows away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand [unpunished] in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

For the Lord knows and fully approves the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked shall perish.

The first two verses in the Amplified Bible offer a more comprehensive definition of “blessed” which only begins to describe how I feel today:

Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked [following their advice and example],
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit [down to rest] in the seat of scoffers (ridiculers).

But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And on His law [His precepts and teachings] he [habitually] meditates day and night.

The First Psalm, which I still know by heart, continues to be a source of encouragement and strength and an inspiration, as reflected is this original psalm: 

Talk about a Man

Psalm 1

Talk about a man that show is blessed—I’m the man.

 Talk about a man that show is blessed—I’m the man.

 At first, I couldn’t, but now I see God’s master plan.

To study the Word of Life show is my delight.

To study the Word of Life show is my delight.

I’m all the time thinking about it—day and night.

Planted by the rivers of water, my roots reach deep.

Planted by the rivers of water, my roots reach deep.

By the still waters the Good Shepherd leads his sheep.

In God, all His promises are yes and amen.

In God, all His promises are yes and amen.

I have been so blessed since I can remember when.

The Word of God soothes my soul like a healing balm.

I’m the man they are talking about in that First Psalm.

To close our time of reflection, here is a musical rendering of Psalm 1 offered by the Joel Limpic

Reflections of My Father on Father’s Day 2021

June 20, 2021

Each morning, I arise with a heart overflowing with gratitude to God for being alive to see another day. On Father’s Day, I am especially thankful that I am a father with a loving wife and two beautiful daughters, Melissa and Angela,  and two great sons-in-law, William and Shajuan, and a grandson, Kingston Edward, all of whom have been blessings beyond words. This Father’s Day is special because of one of the special gifts that I received inspired this poetic response, as I thought of my father:

A Good-looking Hat

When my son-in-law asked what I wanted for Father’s Day,

He was wearing one of his signature hats that he wears with

Style and class, and I said, “I want a hat like that.”

And quicker than I could say “Jackie Robinson,” he took note

And made sure I received my request in time for Father’s Day.

As I look into the mirror and try on the Father’s Day gift,

I smile as I remembered my dapper Dad,

Styling and profiling, getting ready for church and other special occasions.

As far as I can remember,  whether summer or winter, Dad always wore a hat,

But Dad didn’t just put a hat on his head. Back in the day, as they would  say,

“He was wearing that hat!”

And so today, as I get ready for church,  I put on my beau chapeau nouveau,

And wear it proudly,  remembering my father, Lonnie Johnson, and I know he would

Have liked it, and I can hear him say, “That’s a good-looking hat. . .

You’re looking good, my son.”

This Father’s Day post also brings to mind another blog entry where I recall something that my father said. Although my father was a man of few words,  on a couple of memorable occasions, he told me, “Son, I’m proud of you.” Every man since Adam has sensed a deep yearning to hear these words or some variation thereof from his father. On one specific occasion occurring around Father’s Day, my dad made a similar comment that inspired this work:

The Perfect Father’s Day Gift

There was a time when I would stretch my mind,

Make a list and try to think of the perfect gift,

As we approached Father’s Day, the third Sunday in June.

Now let me see what will it be?

I know. . . a portable radio. . .

What about a shirt—extra-large—to fit?

Pajamas, house shoes, another Dopp kit?

Each year I would really try, as I resolved:

No more cologne—not another tie!

One year I ran out of ideas, and so I asked,

“Dad, what do you want for Father’s Day?”

He thought awhile and in his own quiet way,

He smiled and had this to say:

“Just between me and you,

Here’s what you can do.

Just keep me proud of you.

Son, just keep me proud of you.”

Now when my daughters ask,

What can they get me for Father’s Day,

I fondly remember, and I smile and say,

“The words of your Grandpa are still true.

As he said to me, so I say to you:

‘Just between me and you,

Here’s what you can do.

Just keep me proud of you.

Girls, just keep me proud of you.”

I continue to thank God for my father and all that he contributed to my success in all areas of my life. I have so many fond memories of my father, and so often this

I continue to thank God for my father and all that he contributed to my success in all areas of my life. I have so many fond memories of my father, and so often this song by Chris Tomlin comes to mind: