Reflections on My 77th Birthday

June 17, 2019

Today, June 17, 2019, marks another doubly lovely “Good News Day” for Dr. J as we celebrate my 77th birthday. E.W. Bullinger in his extensive study Numbers in Scripture: Its Supernatural Design and Spiritual Significance, speaks of “seven” as the great number of “spiritual perfection.” He goes on to note that the number seventy is also another combination of two perfect numbers, seven and ten. We see something of the significance of their sum when Bullinger mentions that “seventeen” stands out very prominently as a noteworthy number which is not a multiple of any other number, and therefore, it has no factors. Hence, it is called one of the prime (or indivisible) numbers. What is more, it is the seventh in the list of the prime numbers. When seven is multiplied by ten, the product reveals the importance of each in an intensified form, emphasizing both spirit and order.

In the past, I would observe my birthday with a time to reflect and celebrate the goodness of God in sparing my life to see another year. I rejoice with an overwhelming sense of gratitude to God. To say that I have been blessed, not just this past year, but over the past 77 years, is quite the understatement. How grateful I am for all that God has done for me. At such a time as this, I recall the opening verses of Psalm 103, one of my all-time favorites:

[A Psalm] of David—Amplified Bible

1 Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul; and all that is [deepest] within me, bless His holy name!
2 Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul, and forget not [one of] all His benefits—
3 Who forgives [every one of] all your iniquities, Who heals [each one of] all your diseases,
4 Who redeems your life from the pit and corruption, Who beautifies, dignifies, and crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercy;
5 Who satisfies your mouth [your necessity and desire at your personal age and situation] with good so that your youth, renewed, is like the eagle’s [strong, overcoming, soaring]!

Most often in my waxing reflective, I also wax poetic and compose a psalm of celebration. This morning I noticed a framed quotation hanging on the wall, and it inspired this response:

Still the Student Teacher

To learn and never be filled is wisdom;
To teach and never be weary is love.
Anonymous

Reflecting with joy unspeakable, my heart overflows
As I read the lines of a plaque given decades ago.
The author of such profound words I do not know,
But I marvel they so mirror the desires of my heart
Given by the Lord as I continue to learn and to grow
In Christ, as I follow in his steps, walking in the light
Along the path of wisdom, while numbering all my days.
Once more, I strive to comprehend my new identity,
Unfolding as a scroll from faith to faith, glory to glory
And victory to victory with each breath-taking sunrise.
I am grateful for the bounty of seventy-seven years
As I enter the threshold of another new season.
Fueled by this passion to learn and to teach and serve even more,
I am still watching, waiting to see what God has in store.

We close as Family Radio Broadcasting offers a musical reminder: “Teach Us to Number our Days.”

Father’s Day Reflections: The Perfect Father’s Day Gift

June 16, 2019

On Father’s Day 2019 I am re-posting this tribute to my father. May these words be a blessing to all who read

Dr. J's Apothecary Shoppe

Lonnie JohnsonAs the sun rises on this beautiful Father’s Day, I reflect with fondness on my father, Lonnie Johnson, who passed away in 1996. As I have grown older and hopefully wiser, I have come to recognize my father’s undeniable influence. In my reverie, I thought of these lyrics: “The song is ended, but the melody lingers on.” At my father’s funeral I shared memories of my father and paid tribute to him with a poem that speaks of his enduring influence:

plainsong

for Lonnie Johnson

1922-1996

Your plainsong I know by heart,

a hymn stanza learned with ease,

lined out like the flow of chanted words,

syllables fused into a single sound:

I-love-the-Lord-He-heard-my-cry”

raised and repeated over countless Sunday mornings.

Your plainsong I continue to sing, expressed not in words

but in faithful deeds borne of a heart to serve.

Your rock-solid presence like a mantle clock keeping time

View original post 324 more words

Not Just a Survivor on Cancer Suvivors Day

June 2, 2019

The blog entry for June 2, 2019, the first Sunday in June, recognizes National Cancer Survivors Day. This observance has been set aside as a “Celebration of Life” for those who have survived a diagnosis of cancer. In events conducted in communities all over the nation and across the globe, those who celebrate show the world that life, indeed, after a cancer diagnosis can be fruitful and rewarding.

This post focuses on what I call the Word of the Day, in this case, “survivor.” In its most literal sense, the term means “one who survives.” FreeDictionary.com offers this series of definitions of the verb “to survive” as an action verb that has an object to receive its action. In this case, to survive cancer:

1. To live longer than; outlive.
2. To live, persist, or remain usable through any adverse situation.
3. To cope with (a trauma or setback); persevere after.

The verb is derived from Latin: supervivere: combining the prefix super + vīvere, to live.

Having been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2000, I have come to understand what it means to be a cancer survivor on a profoundly personal level. I recognize a “survivor” as one who, after encountering an extremely adverse situation, is revived to not only survive but to thrive. Jesus Christ, the ultimate example of a “survivor,” endured the cross, despising the shame, and after undergoing unimaginable physical abuse, along with emotional and psychological trauma of the highest degree, arose triumphantly over death itself. Like Christ, I have been revived not only to survive but to thrive, having been transformed from victim to victor.

The true essence of who I am as a believer in Christ is expressed in Romans 8:37, the verse introducing the final section of my newly published book based on my experience with cancer: Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs:

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us.

The Amplified Bible puts it this way:

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].

The expression “more than conquerors” is translated from the Greek verb hupernikao, a compound word with the prefix huper—a form of the same prefix found in “survive”—meaning over, beyond, above exceed, more than. Today, everyday expressions of the preposition would say “over and above” or “above and beyond.” The stem would be nikao, translated “to conquer, prevail, overcome, and overpower.” Although translated as such, being “more than conquerors” or “super conquerors,” is not who we are, but it is what we do, how we live. We entirely and overwhelmingly conqueror in the present tense with continuous action; we prevail mightily every day of our lives.

The book closes with an original poem of celebration with Romans 8:37 as its introduction, expressing my new identity in light of the Word for the Day for Cancer Survivors Day:

Embracing Your Life Sentence–Not Just a Survivor

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–Not just a survivor, 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:
Not just a survivor, 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:
Not just a survivor, more than a conqueror.

We close with the Rend Collection reinforcing the message “More than Conquerors”:

For more details about how to obtain a copy of Embracing Your Life Sentence, go to lonnelledwardjohnson.com. You can also get more information here on Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe. Not just on Cancer Survivors Day, but as believers, we are more than conquerors every day and in every way.

New view of new heaven and new earth

June 1, 2019

Revised and reposted from a year ago is The Verse of the Day for June 1. Here is a familiar passage from the last chapter of the Bible, which provides a view of a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwells righteousness:

Revelation 21:2-4

And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

Verse 5 goes on to reveal that God makes all things new:

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”

I recall reciting this particular passage in remarks that I shared during my father’s funeral, as I concluded by looking ahead and projecting toward the future with hope. At the time, my wife was involved in planning a family reunion for her mother’s family that would take place the next month. Such an occasion reminded me of the ultimate family reunion, the marriage supper of the Lamb described in Revelation 21:1-4:

The passage from the last chapter in the Bible relates to hope not in the broad, general sense as defined as “an expectation of a future good,” but it alludes to “the Hope,” defined as the return of Jesus Christ, an event that precedes the marriage supper of the Lamb. Indeed, “the Hope” continues to be a theme that energizes believers despite these perilous times that engulf the world, as Titus 2:13 reveals:

Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

I concluded my remarks at my father’s home-going service by reciting I Thessalonians 5:13-18, another familiar passage related to the Hope:

13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.
16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

In April of this year, I published an article in Medium.com about being a poet strongly influenced by music, especially jazz. I concluded my discussion about “the new heaven and the new earth,” as I envision this celestial scene when I express my gratitude to God for something that means so much to me:

Thank God for the Music

Music is God’s gift to man, the only art of Heaven
given to earth, the only art of earth we take to Heaven.

Walter Savage Landor

Day by day melodies overflow and flood our soul
With lyrics to touch the heart as God inspires them.
We compose reprises to play until the day
We sing our new song in the New Jerusalem
When all the chords of heaven and earth crescendo
In praise before the glory of the Lamb of God.
We will stand before Him and with our eyes, we will see
The jeweled walls of heaven and the streets of gold
And the Holy City descending as a bride,
Adorned in royal splendor to meet her bridegroom.
We will celebrate God’s grace at the wedding feast
And worship freely in His glorious presence
As we join in chorus with the host of heaven
To thank God for the music and the gift of song.

Inspired by Revelation 21:3-5 Esther Mui Song offers “Behold, I Make All Things New” Christian Praise Worship Lyrics:

Happy Mother’s Day, BJJ

May 11, 2019

For Mother’s Day 2019 here is a special tribute to a special mother, my beloved Brenda Joyce Johnson, mother of Melissa and Angela and grandmother of Kingston, a reminder of my love for you on Mother’s Day and every day:

One Red Rose

tender
reminder
love
grows

only
God knows
all the love
behind

one
red
rose

Love always,

LJ

Good News is on the way

April 30, 2019

Hey Everybody,

This is Dr. J, and I am here to let you know that I will soon be launching Dr. J’s “Good News Day” Newsletter. I am building my email list, and I would love to add you to my subscriber list. If you know others who might be blessed by the newsletter, please share the link:

https://pages.convertkit.com/0543fa9b56/e8ffdd75b0

When you subscribe to the newsletter, you will be sent an email to the address you listed when you subscribed. You will have to confirm that you want to subscribe.

Find out how you can get a digital recording of Dr. J reciting “Good News Day.” There is so much more in store.

Thanks for your support and the follow through by confirming your request for the newsletter.

Always,

Dr. J

No longer a mystery: God’s intent revealed

April 25, 2019

The Verse of the Day for April 25, 2019, comes from Colossians 1:27-28 (KJV):

27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:

This passage mentions the concept of “the mystery” which Dr. Mark Hanby refers to as part of the “progressive revelation of God.” The Scriptures reveal God’s desire for a dwelling place, displayed in the Tabernacle in the Wilderness (first dimension) leading to Solomon’s Temple (second dimension), and culminating in the Temple of the Living God, the body of Christ (third dimension).

Derived from the Greek word musterion, translated “sacred secret,” the essence of “this mystery” is that Jews and Gentiles would be united in one body, the Body of Christ. This “great mystery” was hidden in Christ before the foundations of the earth. Had Satan known this mystery or great secret, the Scriptures declare that he never would have crucified the Lord of glory, Jesus Christ. The mystery was revealed to the Apostle Paul as the context of the Verse of the Day indicates.

In Chapter 3 of Ephesians, Paul speaks of the spiritual impact that the Church, the Body of Christ, was designed to demonstrate:

Ephesians 3:10 (New Living Translation)

God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.

God desires that members of the Body of Christ, both individually and corporately, might know and apprehend more fully the meaning of the mystery of the one body. I express my yearning to understand the riches of the glory of this mystery to a greater degree in this way:

Oh, To See the Mystery

Ephesians 3

Enlighten my eyes that I might openly see;
Expand my mind and widen my comprehension
To understand the temple of the mystery.
Teach me to fully comprehend each dimension
And ascertain the magnitude without measure:
Reveal to me the true length,
though it is endless;
Teach me to find the full breadth,
though it is boundless;
Help me to reach the vast height,
though it is measureless;
Teach me to probe the great depth,
though it is fathomless.

Show me your divine design for the inner man.
Make plain the purpose, the pattern, the symmetry
Unfolded in the blueprints of your master plan
For the One Body, temple of awesome beauty.
Share with me the value of this priceless treasure,
The riches of the glory of this mystery
Held in the secret places of your good pleasure.
Take my hand and lead me, as you would guide a youth,
A son who lives to explore the depths of your truth.

Colossians 1:27-28 also inspired the lyrics of this original song:

Christ in You, Christ in Me

Even before the world began,
God put together His master plan,
Calling Jews and Gentiles into one body,
The riches of the glory of this mystery
Which is Christ in you, the hope of glory,
Christ in you, the hope of glory,
Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Enlighten my eyes, help me to see
All that you have called me to be.
Share with me the secrets that you have for me,
The riches of the glory of this mystery
Which is Christ in me, the hope of glory
Christ in me, the hope of glory,
Christ in me, the hope of glory.

Put on God’s Word, renew your mind.
Seek Him with your whole heart, and you will find
He’ll open your eyes; He’ll let you see
The riches of the glory of this mystery
Which is Christ in you, the hope of glory
Christ in you, the hope of glory,
Christ in you, the hope of glory.

I’m no longer bound; I’ve been set free.
I once was so blind, but now I see.
I’m walking into my destiny:
The riches of the glory of this mystery
Which is Christ in me, the hope of glory
Christ in me, the hope of glory,
Christ in me the hope of glory.

Christ in you, the hope of glory,
Christ in me, the hope of glory,
Christ in you and me, the hope of glory.

Charlie LeBlanc offers a musical reminder that it’s “Christ in You! (Hosanna! Music)”

Health and wellness and more

April 23, 2019

This morning I noticed the words on an advertisement for health insurance which serves as the Quote of the Day for April 23, 2019:

“It’s your life. Live it well.”

The packet of information provided tips, activities, programs, and services related to health and wellness. Generally speaking, the concept of wellness brings to mind our physical well-being. Perhaps, if pressed, most people might also acknowledge the desire to achieve a state of well-being mentally or emotionally.

We recognize wellness is a difficult word to define. Charles B. Corbin of Arizona State University offers this definition: “Wellness is a multidimensional state of being describing the existence of positive health in an individual as exemplified by quality of life and a sense of well-being.”

Wellness usually connotes “a healthy body and sound mind.” As the old folks used to testify: “I thank God for a reasonable portion of health and strength and that I am clothed in my right mind.” God, our Father and creator, however, desires for us to experience wholeness, spiritually, mentally, or emotionally, as well as physically. I Thessalonians 5:23 in the Amplified Bible reminds us of this truth:

And may the God of peace Himself sanctify you through and through [separate you from profane things, make you pure and wholly consecrated to God]; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved sound and complete [and found] blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah).

Apostle Eric L. Warren acknowledges that Christians most often place emphasis on the “Body Man” or the “Soul Man” but totally overlook the “Spirit Man.” The Bible encourages believers to be renewed in the spirit of their mind. We must walk in the spirit and not according to the flesh. Without question, spiritual wellness is the most important dimension of one’s sense of total well-being.

Those who seek to find and maintain wellness physically, mentally, and most importantly, spiritually obtain a priceless treasure. Indeed, they are wealthy beyond belief, as expressed in this response:

A Question of Wealth

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper
in all things and be in health,
even as your soul prospers.

3 John 2

 

How do you measure the fullest meaning of wealth?
What is the total value? How much is the price
Of a fruitful spirit, a sound mind and good health?
Can you calculate the sum and then square it twice?
To prosper and be in health, even as your soul
Prospers cannot be measured by any amount
Withdrawn from the world’s treasures, for even the whole
Earth could never contain so vast a bank account.
But those who set their affections on things above
And not on things on the earth are free to explore
The infinite riches of God’s favor and love,
For they alone know their true value even more.
The truly rich ask to receive and seek to find
The priceless wealth of strength in God and peace of mind.

Many times when someone asks, “How are you doing; how’s it going?” I will respond, “It is well.” The lyrics to one of the most popular hymns of all time come to mind as we close with this rendition by Chris Rice:

The strong, the wise, and the righteous

April 3, 2019

The blog post for April 4, 2019 offers the Quote of the Day, an insightful statement from Apostle Eric L. Warren:

Read the rest of this entry »

How long will you be a work in progress?

March 26, 2019

 

 

The blog entry for March 26, 2016, is a revision of a previous post discussing the concept of a “work in progress” or a “work in process” (sometimes abbreviated “WIP”). We could use the following statement as the Quote of the Day:

“Each believer is a work in progress.”

Fil Anderson of In Touch Ministries acknowledges this truth:

However, I’m no longer embarrassed or afraid to admit I’m unfinished, incomplete, and imperfect—a work in progress. Neither is God surprised or disappointed with my lack of development. God’s work in my life will never be finished until I meet Jesus face to face. Desiring to follow Jesus isn’t about being complete and perfect; it’s about doing my best and trusting God to finish what He began.”

Philippians 1:6 (AMP) expresses the same truth:

I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return].

The New Living Translation says this:

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

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

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.

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.

Until the Lord returns, we continue to learn and grow up in Christ, recognizing that maturation is a process that never ends. As adolescents, we envision the day when we will finally grow up and attain our new status as adults. We often think adulthood as the final stage of the maturation process, but we recognize the process is ongoing, and we must not only accept the process, but we must embrace it:

The Process

“When everything that can be shaken is being shaken,
we must acknowledge the process . . . trust the process. . .
embrace the process . . . and enjoy the process.”

Dr. Mark Chironna

 

Dear brothers and sisters, 

when troubles of any kind

come your way, consider it

an opportunity for great joy.

James 1:2 (New Living Translation)

 

What we perceive as failure, God sees as success.
In peace and confidence, we know that we will find
Understanding that reveals what God had in mind.
As we pursue truth, we acknowledge the process.
Though adversity seeks to hinder our progress,
Though we may be shaken to the depths of our soul,
If we refuse to give up, we will be made whole.
Because our God is faithful, we trust the process.
God’s heart of compassion forever seeks to bless.
We no longer wrestle but surrender—we yield.
As bold soldiers, we vow to stay on the battlefield.
Though we would shun it, we embrace the process.
Our gracious God is good, despite the strain and stress;
Resting in the Lord, we now enjoy the process.

Until the Lord returns, we are all “works in progress,” learning to embrace the process and ultimately to enjoy the process.

In reflecting upon Philippians 1:6 and other related verses, a familiar song immediately comes to mind: “He Who Began a Good Work in You” performed in this classic medley by Don Moen: