In the midst of trouble and anguish, we delight in the Word of God

November 15, 2022

The Verse of the Day for November 15, 2022,  makes reference to two inseparable traveling companions that so often overtake us, particularly in the midst of the turbulent times in which we live.

Psalm 119:143 (New Living Translation)

As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands.

The Amplified Bible renders the verse this way:

Trouble and anguish have found and taken hold of me, yet Your commandments are my delight.

Despite the most intense pressures that come with the perils that we face each day, we can say along with the Psalmist that the Word of God brings us delight. A previous blog entry spoke of  my delighting in the Psalms, as I pointed to other places in Psalms 119 and elsewhere that echo this same sentiment:

Psalm 119:24

Your laws please me; they give me wise advice. 

Psalm 119:47:

How I delight in your commands! How I love them! 

Psalm 40:8 in the Amplified Bible makes this statement:

I delight to do Your will, O my God; yes, Your law is within my heart.

In Psalm 1, the first passage of scripture that ever I committed to memory as a pre-teen, we find this striking portrait:

1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners,
nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season;
his leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Psalm 94:18-19 provide yet another reminder that God is the source of our comfort and delight, rendered here in the Amplified Bible:

18 When I said, My foot is slipping, Your mercy and loving-kindness, O Lord, held me up.
19 In the multitude of my [anxious] thoughts within me, Your comforts cheer and delight my soul!

Verse 19 is the inspiration for this original scripture memory song:  

In the Multitude of My Thoughts  

In the multitude of my thoughts within me,
Your comforts delight my soul.
You soothe my mind and strengthen the depths of my heart and soul.
I delight myself in the abundance of Your peace.  

You are my God. I know You love me.
You are my God. You’ve set me free.
You are my God. You will never leave me.
You are my God. I long to be all you’ve called me to be.  

In the multitude of my thoughts within me,
Your comforts delight my soul.
Your comforts delight my soul.
Your comforts delight my soul.

From time to time, we all may lose focus and become anxious regarding our ever-fluctuating circumstances. During times of uncertainty when our feet seem to slip, and we are about to lose our grip, we can turn our thoughts toward the promises of God, assured that just as He has been with us through the stormy trials of the past, so He will be with us now. Along with the Psalmist, we take comfort in this knowledge that delights our souls.

Christy Nockels expresses the essence of this message with the song “My Delight is in You.”

Veterans Day Tribute 2022

November 11, 2022

Today, November 11, 2022, is Veterans Day, and I am revising and reposting a previous blog entry. I invite you to rejoice and celebrate with me:

Each year on November 11, I pause to reflect upon Veterans Day, a national holiday of special significance to me. First of all, I am a veteran, having served two years in the US Army, from 1967 to the end of 1968 during the Vietnam era. Most providentially that experience relates to my being back in the Washington, DC area where I lived from 1969 to 1971. Upon being discharged, I found a job as an information analyst working for the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association in the Nation’s Capital. Most providentially, this is where I met my wife, Brenda. We were married in 1973 and returned to live in Arlington, VA, near the area where we currently live, right up the road from our older daughter, Melissa, and her husband, William, and our first grandson, Kingston.

Each Veterans Day, I reflect with the deepest gratitude upon my military experience, which first appeared to be a disaster but turned out to be a remarkable blessing and a time of great spiritual growth. When I graduated from high school in 1960, I enrolled at Purdue University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy in 1965, subsequently becoming a registered pharmacist, working as a staff pharmacist at Methodist Hospital in Gary.  While enjoying the “good life,” I received my “greetings from Uncle Sam” in 1967 and was drafted into the US Army. Back then I thought this was the worst thing that could have happened to me. Being drafted into the Army in the late sixties was not an ideal situation for a young African American male in light of the disproportionate number of Black men sent to Viet Nam, many of whom did not return and others who were forever changed by that experience.

In January of 1967 after a tearful farewell with my parents, I boarded the bus that took me to Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Upon completing my basic training, I was sent to Fort Sam Houston, in San Antonio, Texas, where I was given the option of working in a dispensary filling prescriptions, as I had done previously, or I could choose to become a pharmacy instructor and teach pharmacy technicians. The second option sounded intriguing since I had not done that before, so I opted to become a pharmacy instructor, which turned out to be ideally suited to me and opened up a new world of classroom teaching which ignited a passion to teach. This passion eventually motivated me to pursue a master’s degree in English from Emporia State University in Kansas and a Ph.D. in English from Indiana University. This passion continues to burn, even as I am teaching classes online at Carolina College of Biblical Studies and St. Augustine’s University.  

My time as a pharmacy instructor began with intense training at the Medical Field Service School.  During this time, I recall one particular veteran from Kentucky whom I knew briefly while serving as a pharmacy instructor at Fort Sam Houston. He and I had two things in common: we were both drafted as pharmacists who opted to become pharmacy instructors, but there was one notable difference. I had not signed up for an additional year of service, despite the Army’s indicating I might not get a pharmacy position if I didn’t. My fellow servicemember had signed up for the additional year, but we both received pharmacy positions. The additional year, however, increased the likelihood of being sent to Vietnam if a pharmacy position needed to be filled there.

About nine months after we completed our training as instructors, my fellow instructor received orders for Vietnam, and by the end of the year, he was shipped overseas. In the early part of the next year, we received the news that he had been killed. The impact of that experience did not fully resonate with me until years later on Memorial Day when I looked up the name of this individual on the website for the Vietnam Memorial and recognized that he was from a small town in Kentucky. I was teaching a class a composition and literature class at the time at the Louisville campus of Indiana Wesleyan University when I saw my colleague’s death in a totally different light. In literature, there is a term called a Christological figure or Christ Figure. The term refers to an object, person, or figure representing Christ allegorically or symbolically, or any similar object, person, or figure with qualities reminiscent of Christ, one of the most notable qualities being “self-sacrifice.”

I was overwhelmed by the reality that my fellow instructor, in a sense, went in my place. What transpired while I was in the Army culminated in an awareness of the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who took my place and gave his life so that I might live. My whole experience in the military brings to mind my favorite verse in my favorite chapter of the Bible: Romans 8:28

And 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.

Today I recognize more clearly than ever what Satan meant for evil, God in His providence, transforms it into something great and glorious. Each Veterans Day, I reflect with gratitude to God for my time of service in the military, recognizing the contribution that veterans have made and continue to make to secure the blessings of liberty that we enjoy, especially during this period in our nation’s history.   

We conclude with this Veterans Day Tribute:

After the mid-term elections and every day: It is better to trust in the Lord. . .

November 9, 2022

As the results of the mid-term elections continued to come in this morning, a verse from the Book of Psalms came to mind, and this will serve as my personal Verse of the Day for November 9, 2022:

Psalm 118:8 (Amplified Bible)

It is better to trust and take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in man.

Some people say that this verse is “smack dab in the center” of the Bible, meaning that if you open many Bibles to the center with the same number of pages on each side, you will find yourself in the vicinity of Psalm 118:8. Others say that it is not the center verse of the Scriptures. In any case, it was the inspiration for an original psalm with these lyrics to remind us we should not put our trust solely in elected officials to resolve the critical issues that confront the nation and the world.

It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.

Cast aside your own selfish schemes and follow His perfect plan.

Focus your eyes on Him and stay centered in His will.

Keep seeking the Lord with all your heart, stay prayerful and be still.

It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.

The power of man is limited, though he may do the best he can.

Put all your trust in the Lord, for righteousness shall prevail.

Keep putting your confidence in God, for He will never fail.

Other  verses from the Psalmist echo the same sentiments:

Psalm 20:7 (Amplified Bible)

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, But we will remember and trust in the name of the Lord our God.

Chariots and horses represent the power and strength of a nation, where some individuals may choose to place their confidence, but as Christian believers, we choose to place our confidence and trust in the name of the Lord. We stand resolute, in the facing of opposing forces, knowing that God Almighty never fails, and He alone is worthy of all our trust.

We conclude with this joyful exhortation that “Some May Trust in Horses” featuring Lynn DeShazo:

As we pray, November 7, 2022: 1 Timothy 2:1-2

November 7, 2022

The Verse of the Day for November 7, 2022, encourages believers to pray and introduces four types of prayer or ways of communing with God. This previous blog entry certainly has application today, as we acknowledge the truth: “There is always something to pray about”:

1 Timothy 2:1-2 (New Living Translation)

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.

Supplications
With these prayers, we entreat our Father with specific requests. Such petitions focus on our necessity, expressed as a personal need, rather than God’s sufficiency to supply it.  White-hot zeal and insatiable hunger ignite prayers of supplication. Strictly speaking, supplication also conveys an accompanying attitude of prayer, noting that “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16)

Intercessions
To intercede means to plead or mediate on behalf of another person. Intercession will involve meeting with someone on behalf of someone else. Those who act as intercessors are also described as “standing in the gap” or “making up the hedge” which provides protection. (Ezekiel 22:30)

Prayers
As we acknowledge the magnitude of God, we offer prayers as an expression of our personal devotion.  Other examples included in this category are the “prayer of faith,” “prayer of agreement” and “prayer of dedication or consecration;” also the prayer Jesus taught his  disciples or “The Lord’s Prayer.” Paul reminds believers to be “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—” (Ephesians 6:18)

Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving should be an essential part of our ongoing conversation with God. “Giving of thanks” is an expression of “showing oneself grateful.”  It is an all-encompassing “attitude of gratitude” involving everything we do and say: “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (I Thessalonians 5:18)


This introductory discussion of prayer is by no means exhaustive. Countless volumes have been written and continue to be produced on this topic of vital concern for Christian believers who are exhorted to “Pray without ceasing.”

In closing, we offer the following poetic reminder of the importance of prayer:

As We Pray

We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

as we pray always for you,

Colossians 1:3

During these dark times, we focus on the Kingdom,

Established and grounded on a sure foundation.

As we diligently pursue Godly wisdom,

New paths of this Apostolic Reformation

Unfold as the sun rises on the horizon.

Even in turbulent times, we must stay the course.

Aware of the consequences of each decision,

We look to God our Father, bountiful resource.

As we renew our minds, we are transformed and change:

With a “kingdom mindset,” we now see with new eyes.

Beyond past narrow limits, our view is long-range.

We number our days with each sunset and sunrise,

As the Word commands: pray without ceasing, night and day,

Knowing that God always fulfills His will, as we pray.

Gateway Worship offers a musical selection with the same title, featuring Walker Beach: “As We Pray”:

Open the eyes of our understanding: God’s desire and ours

November 1, 2022

The Verse of the Day for November 1, 2022, comes from Ephesians 1:18 in the New Living Translation:

I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.

Actually, verse 17 is part of a prayer, an expression of God’s desire for His people written by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 1: 14-23. Verses 17-18 are part of the introduction, as indicated in the Amplified Bible:

17 [For I always pray to] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him,

18 By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones),

Verse 18 brings to mind the words of the hymn “Open My Eyes that I Might See” which is, in essence, a prayer expressed in song. The lyrics to the hymn are displayed while Nathanael Provis plays the melody on piano:

Another contemporary song offering with a similar request is “Open My Eyes,” performed by Jesse Manibusan and Patrick Loomis:

Not only is our prayer that God will enlighten us and illuminate our lives by means of the spirit of wisdom and revelation, but God‘s prayer for us is the same, as is expressed so powerfully in Ephesians 1.

Reformation Sunday 2022 and the Emerging Third Apostolic Reformation

October 30, 2022
Originally written in Latin by Martin Luther in 1517, the Ninety-Five Theses, which Luther posted on the door of the Cathedral at Wittenburg, are regarded as a primary catalyst for the Protestant Reformation.

Although most Americans readily recognized October 31st as Halloween, countless people around the world acknowledge the last day in October as Reformation Day. Protestant Churches celebrate “Reformation Sunday” as the last Sunday in October, in light of October 31, 1517, being the actual date when Martin Luther nailed his “95 Theses” to the door of the Wittenberg Church in Germany, igniting the Protestant Reformation.

Luther and other reformers who preceded him, such as John Wycliffe, John Hus, and William Tyndale, were not only concerned with what the Scriptures taught, but they also wanted the common people to have access to read the Bible in their own language. The conditions were perfect, as the truths declared by Luther set Europe ablaze with the biblical doctrines of grace.

From the Protestant Reformation emerged five phrases that summarized the movement. Using the word  Sola the Latin word for “alone,” these basic theological beliefs stood boldly in opposition to the prevailing teaching of the Roman Catholic Church at the time.

Sola scriptura (“by Scripture alone”) teaches that the Bible is the only inspired and authoritative Word of God, the only source for Christian doctrine, and is accessible to all and that the Bible requires no interpretation outside of itself.
 
Sola Fide (“by faith alone”) teaches that justification, the act of “being declared right by God”, and assumed to mean exactly “salvation”), is received by faith only, without any mixture of or need for good works, though in classical Protestant theology, saving faith is always evidenced by good works.
 
Sola gratia (“by grace alone”) teaches that salvation comes by God’s grace or “unmerited favor” only. This means that salvation is an unearned gift from God through faith in Jesus Christ.
 
Solus Christus or Solo Christo (“Christ alone” or “through Christ alone”) teaches that Christ is the only mediator between God and man and that there is salvation through no other.
 
Soli Deo Gloria (“glory to God alone”) teaches that all glory is to be due to God alone since salvation is accomplished solely through His will and action — not only the gift of the all-sufficient atonement of Jesus on the cross but also the gift of faith in that atonement, created in the heart of the believer by the Holy Spirit.

With Scripture alone as the sure foundation, the Reformers affirmed that justification is by grace alone, received through faith alone because of Christ alone — for the glory of God alone. Today, Christians around the world give thanks to God for Martin Luther’s bold proclamation which occurred 505 years ago. We are also grateful for the brilliant display of God’s design for the Church, which continues to unfold. That number is laden with significance in that “five” symbolizes God’s grace.  

Emerging Third Apostolic Reformation

In reviewing the history of the Christian Church, certain historians recognize that the Protestant Reformation was actually the Second Apostolic Reformation, with the very first movement occurring in the 1st Century with the launching of the New Testament Church in the Book of Acts. The Protestant Reformation transitioned the Church from the “Dark Ages” to the beginning of the period of the restoration of the Church, described in Acts 3:21 as the “restitution or restoration of all things.” The underlying purpose of the second reformation was to restore and build the Church to the full maturity and ministry of Christ Jesus. This is accomplished through Christ’s five-fold ministers, of which the last two, prophets and apostles, are being restored to recognition, in light of the foundation of the Church being built on the doctrine of the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:21).

Church historians and other observers of the times and seasons indicate that the Third and Final Apostolic Reformation is underway. During this period of time, the Church will emerge triumphant, as a glorious display of the multi-faceted wisdom and demonstration of the glorious power of God (Ephesians 3:10).  Christ will restore His Church to fulfill God’s original purpose and intent–as the Kingdoms of this world become the Kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ. The beauty, splendor, and power of the Church in all its fullness are yet to be seen, as the third and final Apostolic Reformation gains momentum to transform the world.

A new sound for a new movement:

Out of the Reformation, came forth a “new sound”, commonly called “the hymn.” We now recognize the distinctive nature of this musical form, as “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” became known as “The Battle Hymn of the Reformation.” Luther composed the song after reading Psalm 46 which became the text for this most popular and best-known hymn.

Likewise, we note a “new sound” representative of the times in which we live. Elevation Worship  and Maverick City Music offer  a “new song” of exhortation from the 21st Century: “Build Your Church”:

Rainmakers: Seeding the Clouds for Revival

October 23, 2022
What are rainmakers and what does it mean to seed the clouds for revival?

Recently, Grace Covenant Church, Chantilly, VA hosted the 2022 Prophetic Conference with the theme “Releasing the Rivers of Revival.” Pastor Jim Laffoon was the speaker for the evening session on Friday, October 21, 2022, and he encouraged participants to become “rainmakers” who would “seed the clouds” for an outpouring of a great revival to flood and transform the world with the presence of the Lord, God Almighty.

The message inspired a poetic response incorporated in a previous blog post that I have revised and reposted in this blog entry “Rainmakers: Seeding the Clouds for Revival”

According to the Oxford Languages dictionary, “A rainmaker is a person who attempts to cause rain to fall, either by rituals or by a scientific technique, such as seeding clouds with crystals.” Pastor Laffoon exhorted us as believers with a passion to see change and become change agents that we are to pray fervently for an outpouring of the life-transforming presence of God across the globe. His words inspired this poetic response:

We Are Rainmakers

 17 Elijah was as human as we are,

and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall,

none fell for three and a half years! 

 18 Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain

 and the earth began to yield its crops.

James 5:17-18 (New Living Translation)

We are rainmakers, and we seed the clouds once more,

That God might revive the earth as He did before.

Even as Elijah prayed and You sent the rain,

We are confident that You will do it again.

Our fervent prayers for revival You will not ignore.           

Those moved with compassion are what you look for.             

Your desire is to show us mercy and restore.    

Our prayers are that you would one more time send the rain.         

We are rainmakers.                                   

The whole world seems engulfed in chaos; we, therefore,

Call on You to fulfill Your promise and pour                                    

Out the power of the former and latter rain.

When we express a great need, you do not restrain,     

But as we call unto You, You do even more.

We are rainmakers.

In the Bible, we find rain is the life source for an agricultural people whose lives are dependent upon crops. In the Land of Israel God, indeed, sends rain in due season in two specific forms:  the former rain and the latter rain. In the Middle East, the former rain occurs in October or November, accompanying the planting of crops, while the latter rain occurs in the Spring, around March or April, just before the harvest. Prophets Jeremiah, Hosea, and Joel all speak of both seasons of rain.

In Acts 2, on the Day of Pentecost, Peter addresses the multitude in referring to the Prophet Joel:

Acts 2:16-18:

16 No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel:

17 ‘In the last days,’ God says,
    ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
    Your young men will see visions,
    and your old men will dream dreams.

To appreciate the promise of God who will send the latter rain when He pours out of His spirit upon all flesh, think of what happened when God opened the windows of heaven and “poured” out the rain. Genesis 7 gives the account of Noah and the ark when the heavens opened, and it rained for forty days and nights. In the last days when God opens the windows of heaven to pour out of His spirit on all flesh, do you think the outpouring will be any less great than the first time God poured out?  God predates Morton salt whose motto is “When it rains, it pours.”

Anyone who is spiritually observant can sense that a great outpouring of the spirit of God is about to take place. In a similar way, one can tell when a torrential downpour is about to occur.

To answer the question posed at the end of the song, here is my advice: “Pray and get ready for rain!” As Zechariah 10:1 exhorts:

Ask ye of the LORD rain in the time of the latter rain; so, the LORD shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field.

The Book of James also reminds us of the importance of prayer in conjunction with the harvest.

James 5:7:

Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen.

James goes on to illustrate what can happen when a man of God prays:

James 5:17-18:

17 Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! 18 Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.

The Old Testament account reveals that after a three-and-half-year drought, Elijah heard the “sound of abundance of rain.”  He sent his servant to investigate, but he saw nothing in the sky. Elijah told him to go check again seven times. After the seventh time, the servant saw a cloud about the size of a man’s hand. Shortly thereafter “that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain.” 

God still answers prayer. His desire is to bless more than ours is to ask. Let us continue to pray for rain, the latter rain, an abundance of spiritual outpouring, which God promised to send before the abundant harvest toward which we are steadily moving. “Pray, the Latter Rain is on the way!” and remember, “We Are Rainmakers: Seeding Clouds for Revival.”

Alvin Slaughter offers a musical benediction to our prayer with “The Latter Rain.”

On 9-11-2022: Remembering God gives beauty for ashes

September 11, 2022

Today, September 11, 2022, marks the 21st anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington DC. In addition, the nation pauses to remember the 10th 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 during my time of prayer and reflection, I thought of the 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 psalm 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.

The expression “Beauty for ashes” also brings to mind the fact that beautiful gemstones 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.

Reflecting on God’s goodness as we celebrate forty-nine years

August 31, 2022
This family portrait reflects my gratitude to God on our 49th anniversary

Today, August 31, 2022, I reflect with the deepest gratitude to God for an event taking place 49 years ago. Brenda Joyce Warren and Lonnell Edward Johnson exchanged wedding vows, and that occasion always brings to mind the Providence of God that brought us together in Washington, DC. So often when I wax reflective, I also wax poetic and recall these poetic lines to describe our coming together:

We each prayed and God answered, as I remember.

Before I knew you, I reached toward you in my heart,                                 

Where I had prepared, set aside a special place.

Until we met, I had been patiently waiting.

Our lives were entwined, and we were forever changed,

As we vowed to walk in God’s love from that moment.

We have returned to live in the Washington, DC-Northern Virginia-Maryland area to be near our daughter, Melissa, her husband, William, and our first grandson, Kingston. Our younger daughter, Angela, and her husband, Shajuan are a couple of hours away in Wilmington, DE. We are blessed to be near our family as we embark upon the next phase of our journey. Indeed, we are thrilled beyond words to see what the Lord has awaits us.

All I know is that “The Best is Yet to Come,” so sings Mack Brock, featuring Pat Barrett:

David: Two poems from the Cave

August 28, 2022
The program cover of the Sight and Sound Theatre production of “David” in Lancaster, PA

This past Friday, my family and I traveled to Lancaster, PA, where we experienced an unforgettable event: the Sight and Sound musical and dramatic performance of “David.” The production was especially meaningful to me because of my intense identification with the Psalmist, prayer warrior, and overcomer, a man after God’s own heart and mine.

As a practicing poet, I have been influenced by the Psalmist, more than any other writer. As I reflected upon that amazing production, two original psalms came to mind, which I shared in a previous blog post.

Here is one of the most amazing accounts of radical transformation ever witnessed in the lives of the people of God, where a group of 400 desperate followers who are “in distress, in debt and discontented” join David in the Cave of Adullam.  When they eventually exit the cave, however, they are transformed into “David’s mighty men.” This account is recorded in I Samuel 22:1-2 and verses following. 

As is often my custom, I personalize the scriptures as I compose poetry. In this case, I composed two poems: one related to the account of a man who entered into the Cave of Adullam and the other related to a man transformed into one of “David’s mighty men” who exited the cave and what he learned in the process. 

A Cave of Adullam of My Own

David therefore departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam.

So when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it,

they went down there to him.

2And everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt,

and everyone who was discontented gathered to him.

So he became captain over them.

And there were about four hundred men with him.

I Samuel 22:1-2

“Your cave can be a good place”

Apostle David Pittman

In a place set aside for those who seek to hide,

Where thick darkness tries to hold back the light of day,

In debt, of no reputation, and stripped of pride,

Where obstacles on every side block my pathway;

Divorced from every resource that could comfort me,

Bankrupt and having goods of little or no worth.

Bound by lack, I have forgotten prosperity,

Though assured that seeds sown in the dark womb still give birth.

Distressed and discontented, in despair of life,

I live in a cave of Adullam of my own,

As I attempt to dispel confusion and strife

In this place where I measure how much I have grown.

In my cavern, teach me lessons I need to learn,

That I might also instruct others in return.

From  the Cave of Adullam into a Mighty Man 

These are the names of the mighty men whom David had: ….   

2 Samuel 23:8  

“Only the cave experience can produce mighty men.”          

 Apostle Eric L. Warren

As I prepare to leave my cave of Adullam, 

I reflect and ask just what lessons did I learn. 

My life is about to take yet another turn.   

While continuing to pursue my destiny,              

But content, I reveal my exit strategy.  

Stripped of pride that I might be clothed in righteousness,   

Unwavering hope has transformed former despair.  

I leave behind the chains of night with no regret.   

From my life spent in the cave I have much to share.     

Pressing toward a new day to be released from debt,   

I move beyond the seventh day into the eighth      

And exit the cave as a mighty man of faith.

The following video captures the essence of what I experienced:

The Cave (Cave of Adullam by Sara Groves) by Paul Siddall founder of THE CAVE!