Archive for February, 2012

As I Begin This Day. . .

February 27, 2012

As I begin this day, I attempt to express just how much I love the Lord.

 

This morning as I started my day with a time of prayer and meditation, I came across one of my poems:

 I Begin This Day

Walk with me, Lord, walk w                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Walk with me, Lord, walk with me.

Walk with me, Lord, walk with me.

While I’m on this tedious journey,

I want Jesus to walk with me.

Traditional Black Gospel Song                         

                                                                                                                                                      

In the morning before I start on my journey,

As I greet and prepare to meet you each new day,

Once more you strengthen my soul and encourage me

And bolster my confidence all along the way.

Lord, teach me how to walk by faith and not by sight.

Each time I renew my mind, I prove you once more:

That you withhold no good thing from those who walk upright–

I have seen your faithfulness countless times before,

As you opened doors when there seemed to be no way.

Though transient life brings heights of joy, depths of sorrow,

The love I share today surpasses yesterday

But fades in light of my love for you tomorrow.

Led by the spirit and not by mere emotion,

I begin this day with pure-hearted devotion.

The epigraph or opening lyrics that precede the poem comes from a familiar gospel song “Walk With Me, Lord,” sung by Denny Denson and found on Michael Card’s “The Hidden Face of God” album.

As I re-read the poem my mind focused on these lines:

Though transient life brings heights of joy, depths of sorrow,

The love I share today surpasses yesterday

But fades in light of my love for you tomorrow.

The words brought to mind a song that I composed in 2003:

I Love You More Today Than Yesterday

I love you more today than yesterday

But not as much as tomorrow.

My love for your grows deeper every day

In sun and rain, in joy and in sorrow.

I love you more today than yesterday

But not as much as tomorrow.

I’ll serve you more today than yesterday

But not as much as tomorrow.

I’ll serve you, Lord, I’ll follow and obey,

Not just now but on that bright tomorrow.

I’ll serve you more today than yesterday

But not as much as tomorrow.

I’ll worship you more today than yesterday

But not as much as tomorrow.

I’ll worship you, I’ll honor and adore

And on that day I’ll worship you even more.

I’ll worship you more today than yesterday

But not as much as tomorrow.

As I recall, my song was a spontaneous overflow after visiting the Brooklyn Tabernacle in 2003.  I was working as an educational consultant in Newark, New Jersey for a few days, and figuring out how to get to the famed location via public transportation was a significant triumph for me.

After composing the song and singing it numerous times, offering it as a praise song unto the Lord, I recognized that the opening refrain was similar to a song that I recall from my “boppin doo wop days” in Gary, Indiana back in the 1950s. “M.T.Y.L.T.T.” is an abbreviation for More Than Yesterday, Less Than Tomorrow, a love song of another kind.

Erik Hogstrom, in his blog Route1, offers the following comments about this particular song:

Checkers Records single release No. 858 was a 1957 release by East Chicago, Ind. doo wop group The Dream Kings.

The enigmatically titled “M.T.Y.L.T.T.” only managed to become a local hit in the Chicagoland area. Now it shows up occasionally on doo wop or Checkers Records compilations, but for all practical purposes it has slipped into dark obscurity.

Give a listen to this classic “doo wop” recording:

As I begin this day, I am attempting to put in words just how much I love the Lord.

This recording of “Jesus I Love You” by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir expresses what I am trying to say:

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The Number 8: A New Beginning

February 22, 2012

In eternity there are no endings, only endless new beginnings.

Today, 02-22-11 is Ash Wednesday—representing a new beginning—as we embark upon a 40-day journey leading to the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. On this day, I am ending a 5-week writing course at a local university and beginning a corresponding course of five weeks at another university in another city. This occurrence serves as a reminder of eternity where there are no endings—only endless new beginnings:

Isaiah 9:7 prophesies of the coming Messiah:

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Luke 1:33 makes a similar declaration:

And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

The number 8 not only represents a new beginning but it also symbolizes infinity.

In reflecting upon the concept of “new beginnings,” I thought of the number 8, symbolic of such a “fresh start.” E.W. Bullinger, in his celebrated work, Numbers in Scripture, and in an Appendix to his Companion Bible, makes the following statement regarding this number:

Eight—Denotes resurrection or new beginning or regeneration or commencement.  The eighth is a new first. It is the number that has to do with the Lord, who rose on the eighth day or new first day. By the Gematria Jesus is 888. It or its multiple is seen in all that has to do with the Lord’s names, the Lord’s people, the Lord’s work. In Hebrew the number eight is Sh’moneh, from the root Shah’meyn, “to make fat,” “cover with fat,” “to super-abound.” As a participle it means “one who abounds in strength,” etc. As a noun it is “superabundant fertility,” “oil,” etc. So that as a numeral it is the superabundant number. As seven was so called because the seventh day was the day of completion and rest, so eight, as the eighth day, was over and above this perfect completion, and was indeed the first of a new series, as well as being the eighth. Thus it already represents two numbers in one, the first and eighth.

I also happened to think of two poems that I wrote containing this phrase “new beginning” or some variation. The first was written following my custom of writing a poem to commemorate my birthday, in this case my 64th birthday—8 squared or 8 to the second power is 64, as I make reference to:

In celebration of my 64th birthday

    June 17, 2006

 

Another Milestone

 

You also, as living stones, are being built up

 a spiritual house, a holy priesthood,

 to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable

to God through Jesus Christ.

I Peter 2:5

 

Another milestone: sixty-four triumphant years

Along this glorious, though at times, tedious journey

Toward the light in darkness until the day star appears

When I fully embrace this new identity

Merged in crescendo, unfolding to symbolize

Endless new beginnings: eight multiplied by eight.

Ever pressing toward the mark, for the highest prize,

In the service of the Master, I watch and wait

And continue to strive toward the highest degree.

As a beloved bondslave and friend of the Lord

Set apart, made whole in spirit, soul and body

And consumed with a passion for God and His Word,

Thus I transcend yet another rite of passage:

A living stone transformed to become the message.

The second poem was written during a period when our church was examining the theme of the rebuilding of the wall and the gates at Jerusalem during the time of Nehemiah, as a Apostle Eric Warren, offered a series of teachings which inspired a collection of poems, one written for each of the gates, one of which contains the phrase “new beginnings.”

Each sunrise holds promise of a “new beginning.”

With My Face to the Rising Sun: Yet Another Gate

On the east side, toward the rising of the sun,

those of the standard of the forces with Judah

shall camp according to their armies;

and Nahshon the son of Amminadab shall be

the leader of the children of Judah.

Numbers 2:3

Night gives way to a new day dawning before my eyes:

With my face to the rising sun, here I watch and wait.

With outstretched neck, straining to see the daystar arise,

I man my station, my position at the East Gate.

Though the enemy seeks to hinder, I still advance

And rise to stand under God’s standard, a new ensign.

Having waged great warfare through each adverse circumstance,

I reach this place, not by chance but by divine design.

Each sunrise yields golden moments, a new beginning

To reveal the coming glory with its eternal weight:

Prelude to the place that offers rewards for winning,

As I assess and renovate yet another gate.

I am strengthened within and refreshed to follow my quest,

Running to serve each day before the sun sets in the West.

The title brings to mind the well-known spiritual “Let Us Break Bread Together,” sung countless times as I was growing up, each time we partook of Holy Communion. This song, performed by the A Capella Choir of Arroyo High School, Elmonte, Califoronia, is, of course, apropos of the present Lenten season, leading to celebration of the Resurrection, the ultimate expression of a new beginning.

At All Times

February 20, 2012

Following the exhortation from David in Psalm 34 and elsewhere, I will bless the Lord at all times.

At times in life I cannot find in the words of others the encouragement and undergirding that I am seeking.  At such times, I find that I must be like David and “encourage myself in the Lord.” Often I will compose a psalm or poetic response to express some of the deepest yearnings of my soul.  One such poem, an all-occasion piece that I thought of today, is “At All Times.” A comforting statement precedes a series short exhortations regarding the times we encounter:

If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.

 

In happy moments, praise God.

In difficult moments, seek God.

In quiet moments, worship God.

In painful moments, trust God.

In every moment, thank God.

 

                 At All Times

I will bless the Lord at all times,

 His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

                        Psalm 34:1

When I see God’s goodness and mercy follow me,

As I savor the ecstasy of victory,

When joy overflows and floods my soul, I will praise God.

When gripped by the devices of this transient life

And caught in the straits of rising conflict and strife,

During these difficult moments, I will seek God.

When I long to abide within a tranquil mood

And linger in moments of sweetest quietude,

From the depths of my soul, I will worship God.

Despite raging seas, stormy winds and blinding rain,

When protracted pain strikes like a knife and numbs my brain

So that I can scarcely scream your name, I will trust God.

All along life’s journey, no matter the season,

Through every why and wherefore, for every reason

Every moment I draw breath, I will thank God.

I seek the Lord and ask myself, “What shall I do?”

“Give thanks: it is God’s will in Christ concerning you.”

“Give thanks: it is God’s will in Christ concerning you.”

 The title of the poem and the introductory verse from Psalm 34 bring to mind the joyful song of praise from Hezekiah Walker and the Love Fellowship Choir

Two for Twelve for 2012: A New Name

February 16, 2012
Isaiah 62 with its 12 verses comprises the theme for the New Year: “Twelve for Twelve in 2012.”
At the beginning of the New Year, I posted a blog in Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe based on my theme and scriptural focal point for 2012. In this case, I had selected Isaiah 62, a passage that most providentially contains twelve verses. In studying the chapter, I decided to write a series of poems, as I personalized each of the twelve verses, calling the collection “Twelve for Twelve for 2012.” Here is the link to the first installment, published in two parts, inspired by Isaiah 62:1: “One for Twelve”:
 

I continue the series with the second installment “Two for Twelve,” a personalized poetic rendering of Isaiah 62:2.  Here is the verse from the New Living Testament:

  The nations will see your righteousness.
      World leaders will be blinded by your glory.
   And you will be given a new name
      by the Lord’s own mouth.

                                         

Two for Twelve

       Isaiah 62:2

 

The nations across the globe will see your righteousness                                                                                                  

As I have blessed you with favor, so shall you bless                                                                                                       

And partake and share the sweetness of the goodness.                                                                                          

Of Him who crowns with mercies and lovingkindness.

Kings of the earth will be blinded by your glory,                                                                                                

For your presence astounds those who have eyes to see.                                                                                                

A lavish banquet table is set before me:                                                                                                                     

I thrive to disarm and defeat my enemy.

From this point you will now be called by a new name                                                                                                                        

For I have touched your life, and you are not the same.                                                                                            

I have crowned you with beauty and removed the shame,                                                                                                

For you are my beloved, and this I proclaim:

This I make known to all by the mouth of the Lord,                                                                     

Who upholds all things by the power of His Word,                                                                                      

The Lord provides and protects as shield and sword,

For we touch and agree and stand in one accord.

 

Often after a spiritual encounter of the most intimate nature, an individual is given a new name.

As I reflected upon the passage from Isaiah 62 and the poem based on the second verse, I thought of the phrase “a new name,” a concept that discussed in the blog entitled “My New Identity Kit.” One of the poems included in that discussion was “New Name”: 

New Name

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit

says unto the churches. To him that overcomes

I will give to eat of the hidden manna,

and will give him a white stone, and in the stone

a new name written, which no man knows

except him that receives it.

           Revelation 2:17

 

More than a moniker,

a sobriquet attached

to the bridal bouquet,

a new name to change

or not, hyphenate,

ignore, keep, or discard

like outdated his and her towels;

how to handle this essence of being,

my new identity.

 

Like the trickster,

who tried to run his game

and get over on Jehovah

when he wrestled out a blessing

from the evening till the break of day,

I woke up one morning

with a new name and a gimp leg

to remind me of that all-night-face-to-face encounter

when I sang

“I told Jesus, be all right if He changed my name.”

 

The closing line is also the title of a spiritual “I told Jesus be all right, if he changed my name,” accompanied by this moving rendition of the song by Jennifer Bynum:   

I close this blog entry with a most comforting selection by Israel and New Breed, “He Knows My Name.”

Celebrating the love of God: every day, not just on February 14

February 14, 2012
I Corinthians offers the quintessential definition of true love–God’s love.
Valentine’s Day is set apart to celebrate love, but we must recognize various forms of love, including the love of God or agape, the highest form of love. It differs from eros or passion or sensuous love of the flesh and is even beyond philos­ or love of friends or family. The root of philos is found in the designation of Philadelphia, which is known as the “City of Brotherly Love.” There is a love which is “more intimate than friend, or kin or wife;” this close-knit love is known as agape.

This particular term which is used exclusively in the New Testament, reveals the uniqueness of God’s love, so clearly defined in I Corinthians 13, a passage of scripture that is often excerpted or quoted in its entirety at weddings. This section from verses 4-7 of the Amplified Bible illustrates the distinctive power of the love of God:

Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.

It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act  unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self- seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].

It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.

Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].

The first part of verse 8 reiterates that “Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end].”

With love, as with any other emotion, there must be a demonstration or manifestation whereby one knows the reality of the emotion in question. We speak of the love of God in manifestation which is so clearly demonstrated in one of the most widely recognized verses in the Bible, John 3:16:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

It has been said that you can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving. Indeed, all love is giving. The essence of love as defined by giving is also seen in this poem by John Oxenham:

            Love ever lives, outlives, forgives,

            And while it stands with open hands it lives.

            For this is love’s prerogative:

            To give and give and give

 

To learn more about three essentials of Christianity—faith, hope and love, click on the following links:

http://www.examiner.com/christian-spirituality-in-columbus/faith-hope-and-love-three-essentials-christianity

http://www.examiner.com/christian-spirituality-in-columbus/christianity-101-what-is-faith

http://www.examiner.com/christian-spirituality-in-columbus/christianity-101-what-is-hope

http://www.examiner.com/christian-spirituality-in-columbus/christianity-101-what-is-love

Mercy Me, contemporary Christian musical group, offers a most poignant portrait of “The Love of God”  in their version of the hymn with that title:

Tillie Olsen meets “Maud Muller”: “To Soar on Wings of Hope”

February 10, 2012

Author Tillie Olsen generated a thoughtful comment from a student.

Recently while concluding a writing course at Indiana Wesleyan University’s Columbus, Ohio Center, I happened to think of a student’s response to one of the questions regarding “I Stand Here Ironing,” an essay by Tillie Olsen, a somber unfolding of unfortunate circumstances that contribute to the fractured relationship between a mother and her now adult daughter.

I taught the course for the first time almost a year ago at the IWU Center in Louisville, Kentucky.  As I was grading the responses to questions for the essay, I came across a particular response that arrested my attention. One of the students in the English 141 in Louisville wrote the following regarding the Olsen essay:

Is this story bleak, or do you see it as hopeful?  Explain.

This story to me is very bleak, and I believe that a chance of a positive relationship may be hard to achieve.  The mother now wants a relationship with her daughter, but I do not believe that the daughter wants a relationship with her mother.  It is difficult to rekindle something that you never really had.

In reading that most insightful comment, I experienced a remarkable moment of enlightenment, as the rivers of understanding flowed together, erupting into a splendid epiphany while reflecting on relationships that I had endeavored to “rekindle” but failed to do so, despite my best efforts. I now realize that the relationship that I thought I had never really developed in the first place. Most remarkably and ironically, the student who wrote the comment is a funeral director. If anyone knows the truth of such situations, he would certainly know.

In addition, I happened to think of a line from a poem that I first encountered as a freshman in high school, when Mrs. Frances Uncapher, my freshman English teacher, introduced our class to One Hundred Narrrative Poems, one of which was “Maud Muller” by John Greenleaf Whittier.” I wrote a reflective essay in which I celebrated my journey into teaching on the university level and paid tribute to some of the teachers who have influenced me, one of whom was Mrs. Uncapher. This is how I describe her:

I was introduced to the power of poetry in my freshman year of high school when Mrs. Frances Uncapher, my English teacher, read aloud the narrative poetry of William Cullen Bryant, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Greenleaf Whittier, James Whitcomb Riley, and other “three-named” authors. She read their works and discussed their poetry as if she were personally acquainted with each author.

 Click here to read the entire article: http://www.nea.org/assets/img/PubThoughtAndAction/TAA_03_06.pdf

Maud Muller, a simple country maid, in the narrative poem by John Greenleaf Whittier.

John Greenleaf Whittier’s “Maud Muller” depicts a simple country maid who meets a young judge, but they depart ways before any serious relationship can develop. The poem ends with these tragic and often quoted lines:

For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: “It might have been!”

I had written a trio of poems on faith, hope and love, and the one on hope contained a literary allusion to the last lines from Whittier’s poem. The statement “It is difficult to rekindle something that you never really had.” brought to mind the poem on hope to which I added to the quote from my English 141 student. Here is poem with the two quotations:

 Beyond Whittier to Soar on Wings of Hope        

It is difficult to rekindle something that you never really had.”

                           Jonathan Harris

                

Knowing the best lines are yet to be sung.

                      Lonnell E. Johnson

At times we seek to capture the fleeting what never was;

While the distant past seeks to satisfy, it never does.

Whittier’s poignant lines “Of all sad words of tongue or pen,”

Cause me to consider “The saddest these: it might have been.”

But wasted efforts seek to recapture things left behind:

Fragments of those distant memories, vestiges of the mind.

Though my life has not unfolded as many thought it would,

Now I know that all things have worked together for the good.

Each glorious triumph and disaster, I choose to forget.

As I savor the goodness of God, I have no regret.

I must leave behind all of the hurt of the past somehow,

For all life crescendos into the ever-present now.

Although the past attempts to sway me from my destiny,

I soar on wings of hope–the best is always yet to be.

Larnelle Harris and the Brooklyn Tabernacle close this commentary on a hopeful note with this reminder of where our hope must be found.

Similarly, Donald Lawrence, offers a final reminder of the truth expressed in the closing phrase of the poem which is similar to title of this song: “The Best is Yet to Come.”

A Five-fold Prayer: Perfect Me

February 8, 2012

The Verse of the Day for June 29, 2014 is found in Psalm 138:8 (King James Version):

The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.

This particular verse with its use of the verb “perfect” also brings to mind a previous blog entry which was part of a series entitled a “Five-fold Prayer.” I am re-posting the entry “A Five-fold Prayer: Perfect Me,” the final devotional which is posted below:

Slide12

This blog entry is the final part of “A Five-fold Prayer,” a series of commentaries based on a statement regarding the ways of God when we find ourselves in perplexing situations that challenge our faith. In such instances, God is endeavoring to do one or a combination of five things: “Direct you; Inspect you; Correct you; Protect you; Perfect you.” After hearing those words, I took those five verbs and formed them into a request, a petition, a prayer to God for me.  I asked God to become the initiator of the action, and I would become the object of his action. I also examined each of the verbs with scriptural illustrations from the Old Testament and New Testament and composed a prayer/psalm inspired by each verb at the end of each section related to each of the five verbs. In writing out my personal application of the scriptures, I also incorporated music related to the verbs as well. In Part 5 I ask God to “Perfect Me.”

“Perfect” can be used as an adjective or a verb in various places in the Bible.

In the Bible the word “perfect” can be used as an adjective or as a verb, as defined in the following manner, with some of the verses where the term is used:

Perfect:

In the Old Testament, as an adjective, “perfect” means: “blameless, upright, righteous; the proper action of simplicity, sincerity, absence from guile or evil intention.”

As a verb the term means “to complete, to make full, perfect or entire; to finish.”

II Chronicles 16:9

For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him…

Psalm 37:37

Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.

 

II Chronicles 16:9 and Psalm 37:37 comprise the lyrics to a this song:

 For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro,

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro,

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro,

Throughout the whole earth

To show Himself strong, to show Himself strong,

To show Himself strong in behalf of them

Whose heart is perfect toward Him.

The man with a perfect heart is whole and complete:

Mark the perfect man and behold the upright,

For the end of that man is peace.

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro,

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro,

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro,

Throughout the whole earth

 

In the New Testament, “perfect” is translated from the Greek word teleios. As an adjective it means–describing what has reached its end; complete, perfect, full, fully grown, wanting nothing, with special reference to the end for which it was intended.” 

As a verb teleioo means—”to complete, make perfect, so as to be full, wanting nothing, to bring to a full end.”

Hebrews 13:20-21:

Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,

Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

James 1:2-4:

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;

Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

I Peter 5:10:

But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

II Corinthians 13:11:

Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.

 Perfect me

What I lack fulfill, that I may not come up short.

Bring to maturity any deficiency

That I may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Make me perfect in every good work to do your will.

May the inner spaces of my heart catch your eye.

As you scan the vast landscape of this green planet,

May you see the perfect man you asked me to be.

“Change My Heart, O God” (Hillsong) is an appropriate song for this final section of my “Five-fold Prayer”:

“Something Beautiful,” written and performed by Bill and Gloria Gaither, expresses musically my ultimate desire which is also God’s desire for transformation.

“Have Thine Own Way” is another hymn that I learned as a child and continued to draw strength from as I grew into adulthood.

 

Conclusion

To conclude expounding upon the verbs that encompass my “Five-fold Prayer, I have formed a new compound verb—a neologism—as I make one final request, “Dir-ins-cor-pro-per” me, Lord:

Lord, I pray that you

direct me,

inspect me,

correct me,

protect me,

perfect me

That I may know you and the fullness of your grace.

This I pray in the name above all names, Jesus Christ. Amen.

I combine all five verbs to form a new compound verb used to conclude my Five-fold Prayer.

 

A Five-fold Prayer: Protect Me

February 7, 2012

In the fourth part of my Five-fold Prayer I ask God to "Protect Me."

This blog entry is the fourth part of “A Five-fold Prayer,” a series of commentaries based on a statement regarding the ways of God when we find ourselves in perplexing situations that challenge our faith. In such instances, God is endeavoring to do one or a combination of five things: “Direct you; Inspect you; Correct you; Protect you; Perfect you.” After hearing those words, I took those five verbs and formed them into a request, a petition, a prayer to God for me.  I asked God to become the initiator of the action, and I would become the object of his action. I also examined each of the verbs with scriptural illustrations from the Old Testament and New Testament and composed a prayer/psalm inspired by each verb at the end of each section related to each of the five verbs. In writing out my personal application of the scriptures, I also incorporated music related to the verbs as well. In Part 4 I ask God to “Protect Me.”

 

Using the verb "deliver" in place of "protect" which is not found in the KJV of the Bible

 

Protect: Since there is no word “protect” used in the King James Version, I used “deliver,” a word that has the following definition and is found in the following scriptures:

Deliver:

O.T.: to pluck out of the hands of an oppressor or enemy; to preserve, recover, remove; to deliver from danger, evil, trouble; to be delivered, to escape;

Psalm 31:1-4 and verse 15

31:1 In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness.

2  Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for an house of defense to save me.

3  For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.

4         Pull me out of the net that they have laid privily for me: for thou art my strength.

15  My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.

 

The Greek word used in the New Testament is ruomai, translated to mean: “to draw or snatch to one’s self from danger, to rescue, to deliver.” This particular definition brings to mind a stanza from one of my poems that poetically expresses my testimony:

With lovin arms you reached way down

        And snatched me from Satan’s outhouse,

Sought me and flat-out rescued me,

          Fixed me up in my Father’s house.

“Why Don’t Somebody Help Me Praise the Lord?”

Other related scriptures include the following:

Matthew 6:13:

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

 

II Thessalonians 3:3

But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.

 

II Timothy 4:18

And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory forever and ever.

This section also concludes with a psalm or poetic prayer to God:

Protect me

 As a child runs to safety in his father’s arms,

So I, too, run to you, “my shelter from life’s storms.           

Lord, I long to dwell with you in the secret place:

My buckler, my shield, deliverer, my fortress,

Strong tower, defender, who responds to my prayer,

For Lord, you are faithful, who will establish me

And protect me and deliver me from evil.

As a youngster, I recall singing in the Junior Choir and learning a number of hymns, one of my favorites being “Jesus, Lover of My Soul.” Charles Wesley, the brother of John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, wrote the lyrics to this classic composition:

 

Selah, contemporary Christian music group, offers a fitting song related to this entry, “You Deliver Me”:

 

“Your Deliverance Will Come” by James Bignon and The Deliverance Mass Choir is an energetic reminder of God’s faithfulness.

 At the end of January I posted a blog entry entitled “To the Rescue Anew” that was actually a lead-in to a reposting of an entry “To the Rescue,” a commentary on the rescue of the Chilean miners back in October of 2010.

A Five-fold Prayer: Correct Me

February 5, 2012

In the center of my Five-fold Prayer I ask God to "Correct Me."

This blog entry is the third part of “A Five-fold Prayer,” a series of commentaries based on a statement regarding the ways of God when we find ourselves in perplexing situations that challenge our faith. In such instances, God is endeavoring to do one or a combination of five things: “Direct you; Inspect you; Correct you; Protect you; Perfect you.” After hearing those words, I took those five verbs and formed them into a request, a petition, a prayer to God for me.  I asked God to become the initiator of the action, and I would become the object of his action. I also examined each of the verbs with scriptural illustrations from the Old Testament and New Testament and composed a prayer/psalm inspired by each verb at the end of each section related to each of the five verbs. In writing out my personal application of the scriptures, I also incorporated music related to the verbs as well. In Part 2 I ask God to “Correct Me.”

A definition of "correct" in the Old and New Testaments

In the Old Testament the verb “correct” is defined in the following manner, with some of the verses where the term is used:

Correct:

O.T.: chasten, chastise, to instruct, admonish; reprove, convince, rebuke

Job 5:17:

Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty:

Psalm 94:12

Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O LORD, and teachest him out of thy law;

Proverbs 3:11

My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction:

In the New Testament we find different words translated “correct” along with some of the places where the verb is used. 

N.T.: paideuo—to bring up or rear as a child; to train and educate (to learn is to suffer) e.g. Jesus Christ learned obedience by the things that he suffered.

paideia—the bringing up of a child, especially its training, teaching, and education; discipline, correction 

Hebrews 12:5-11

5And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,

6because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”

7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?

 8If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.

9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!

 10Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.

11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. [Amplified Bible]

Psalm 119: 71-72
Sometimes something that appears to be bad can be good .

Psalm 119:71-72

It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.

The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver. [KJV]

“My troubles turned out all for the best—they forced me to learn from your textbook.  Truth from your mouth means more to me than striking it rich in a gold mine.” [The Message Bible]

The passage from Psalm 119:71-72 inspired a song with the following lyrics:

It is good for me that I have been afflicted;

That I might learn Your statutes,

To walk in Your precepts,

To keep Your commandments,

To follow as You teach me.

It is good for me.  It is good for me. 

It is good for me. It is good.

I have learned to love Your Word and Your ways.

It is good for me that I have been afflicted;

That I have been made humble,

That I have known both joy and sorrow.

In times of famine and in plenty,

That You have always been beside me.

It is good for me.  It is good for me. 

It is good for me. It is good.

I have learned to love Your Word and Your ways.

It is good for me that I have been afflicted;

That I might learn Your statutes,

To walk in Your precepts,

To keep Your commandments,

To follow as You teach me.

It is good for me.  It is good for me. 

It is good for me. It is good.

I have learned to love Your Word and Your ways.

It is good for me.  It is good for me. 

It is good for me. It is good.

I have learned to love Your Word and Your ways.

It is good for me to draw near unto You.

I have put my trust in You

That I may declare Your works

And always sing Your praises,

And give glory to Your Name.

It is good for me. It is good for me.

It is good for me. It is good.

I have learned to love Your Word and Your ways.

A trio of songs related to “Correct Me” follow, beginning with “Let Me Be Broken” by Bryan Duncan from the album “Strong Medicine,” particularly appropriate for “Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe.”

Steve Green offers “The Refiner’s Fire” as an expression of my heart’s desire in this part of my “Five-fold Prayer”:

“Purify My Heart” is another expression of my desire:

This section closes with another psalm, a prayer to God:

Correct me

            As my teacher help me not to hasten each lesson.

            Even the times you chasten while drawing me near.

            Each time you admonish you demonstrate your love.

            Help me to learn not to resist the chastening rod,

            But may I yield toward your reproof and correction.

            ”It is good for me that I have been afflicted

            That I might learn your precepts,” may I also say.

A Reminder: Spring is Coming

February 3, 2012

Dr. J's Apothecary Shoppe

February 2 was Groundhog Day, and in recognition of the celebrated day, I posted an article on my Examiner.com page:

http://www.examiner.com/christian-spirituality-in-columbus/groundhog-day-spring-is-coming

On Saturday of the preceding weekend, I noticed a couple of robins skittering across the crusted snow, as I entered a building. That is a sure sign that Spring is on the way, I thought.  When I see robins returning after a brief absence, I recall that I made my acting debut in the second or third grade when I played “Robin Redbreast,” with my red sweater and brown paper wings that I flapped vigorously as I ran across the stage proclaiming, “Spring is coming! . . . Spring is coming! . . . Spring is coming!”

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

A little grey robin, as he was flying to the…

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