Archive for September, 2013

We have an advocate: “a lawyer in the courtroom”

September 25, 2013

1_John_2-1

The Verse of the Day for September 25, 2013 comes from I John 2:1 rendered in the New Living Translation in this way:

My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous

The Verse of the Day brings to mind lines from songs that I recall from childhood:  hymns and gospel songs composed of

Lyrics I did not know when I was young

When life was uncertain, my song unsure.

I remember descriptions of Jesus Christ, as a “doctor in the sickroom,” “a lawyer in the court room.” Other lyrics describe the Son of God as “a lawyer who never lost a case.”  First John, in speaking of Jesus Christ as our advocate, one who pleads our case, echoes this same idea. The late Dr. Adrian Rogers describes the term in this way:

“Advocate is just a fancy term for a lawyer, someone who pleads your case before the bar or justice. . . .  Jesus goes before God on our behalf and says, ‘Father, I know they are sinners, but they have repented and My blood has cleansed them. They belong to Me.’”

The word advocate is translated from the Greek word parakletos, the same word used for the Holy Spirit, also referred to as the Paraklete:  one who pleads another’s cause, who helps another by defending or comforting him.

Romans 8:27 in the Amplified Bible speaks of Holy Spirit, our advocate, in this way:

 And He Who searches the hearts of men knows what is in the mind of the [Holy] Spirit [what His intent is], because the Spirit intercedes and pleads [before God] in behalf of the saints according to and in harmony with God’s will.

Despite our best efforts, we will sin; indeed, all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. We are all sinners, saved by grace. On those occasions where we fall short or miss the mark in our efforts to serve the Lord, we have a defense attorney, a barrister, an advocate with the Father.

How comforting to know that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, serves as our advocate or defense attorney, who is seated at the right hand of God, as he ever makes intercession for us. Thank God that he is “a lawyer in the courtroom.” and that he has “never lost a case.”

 

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We take time for tea: A New Take on an Old West African Tradition

September 20, 2013

In 2003 while on sabbatical leave from Otterbein College (now Otterbein University), I participated in a faculty development seminar in Dakar, Senegal. While on my first visit to West Africa, as a tea drinker, as opposed to one who drinks coffee, I encountered the culture of preparing and serving tea called attaya, an elaborate process whereby Senegalese-style mint tea is served in three separate stages, called “the three concoctions”:

Eat Your World, a guide to regional food and drinks around the globe, describes the ritual:

Attaya: The word itself really describes the act of making the tea, a three-cup ritual during which the attaya maker boils the tea; pours a serving into a tiny glass; pours it back and forth into another glass, creating foam and mixing the sugar; and passes the glass around. This is done three times, with each glass becoming progressively sweeter and mintier. For the tea drinkers, there’s plenty of time to sit around and socialize after a meal, which is the primary goal of attaya.

attaya tea

Here is a young child preparing tea attaya near Dakar, Senegal.

Recently I thought of this ritual when I decided to spend some time with a dear friend, a talented fellow-believer who has been a chef by profession, who is also a fellow prostate cancer victor (I prefer the term as opposed to “survivor”). He introduced me to kombucha tea, an ancient tea that has proven to be beneficial in a number of physical conditions; my friend also taught me how to make the tea on my own.  Since I wanted to spend more time with him, I decided that we would get together once a week for “tea.” As I was on my way to his house, I recalled the ritual of serving tea attaya in Senegal, and I determined that I would introduce a variation of having tea attaya style by changing the kind of tea that would be served along with a change in the conversation during “tea time.” I express my thoughts in the following poem which is literally “hot off the press:”

“We take time for tea”: A New Take on an Old West African Tradition

 That I may make the voice of thanksgiving heard

       and may tell of all Your wondrous works.

                         Psalm 26:7

Seasoned soldiers, two elder brothers get together.

On this phase of our lifelong journey we take time for tea,

Using this practice to encourage one another.

Tea, not prepared attaya for my brother and me

But with a soulful Western touch, not green tea with mint

But kombucha, compounded after the art of the apothecary.

We transform this ancient tradition to this extent:

We don’t talk politics but may throw that in the mix,

Not what President Obama did or did not do.

We won’t complain about the “gummit” that folks can’t fix.

We look at life through new eyes and see another view.

To some folks our conversation may seem a bit odd.

We don’t dwell on sports and reality shows:

All that we say is in context of the Word of God.

Our love for God and one another steadily grows.

Thinking about lots of things, we consider our ways.

From the teapot of God’s favor, we pour and re-pour,

Telling of God’s goodness in these last and evil days.

We sip and savor the sweetness, then we tell some more.

Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness,

and for his wonderful works to the children of men!   

The accompanying video shows a Senegalese man preparing tea attaya/

Hurtful Words

September 19, 2013

This blog entry is a perfect complement to the entry “Guarding the mouth gate: speak no evil.” “Hurtful Words” offers a most insightful discussion expressed ever so clearly and concisely. Great post!

Wordsmith's Desk

~~~

Take a feather pillow and climb a high tower on a windy day. Once on top, cut open the pillow and let the feathers loose in the wind. Then, climb down from the tower and gather all the feathers and place them back in the pillow. Impossible, you say. I would have to agree.

You see, the feathers are like the hurtful words that leave our mouth. Once they are spoken, you cannot get them back. You may think “I’m sorry” makes it all better, but the most sincere “I’m sorry” cannot undo the damage done by hurtful words.

 ~~~

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Guarding the mouth gate: speak no evil

September 19, 2013

Once again, I start my day with the Verse of the Day:

Ephesians_4-29

Once again, I prefer reading the verse in the Amplified Bible:

Ephesians 4:29

Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it

This exhortation from Ephesians reminds believers to be aware of what they say. For the words that we speak are expressions of what is in our hearts. “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks,” says Solomon. With this in mind, John Bunyan recognizes that individuals must become guardians of “every gate that opens in our heart.” Howard Morgan speaks of “gates” in this way: “They are the places that we have to monitor diligently so that we allow only that which is positive and healthy into our lives.” Three such gates are the “ear gate,” “eye gate,” and “mouth gate.” The picture of the three wise monkeys comes to mind to remind us that we must consciously seek to “hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil.”

Three_wise_monkeys_figure

Without question, as believers we must watch what we speak and speak no evil.  Since “life and death are in the power of the tongue,” we must carefully choose the words that we speak, recognizing:

The Power of the Tongue

But the tongue can no man tame;

it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison

 James 3:8

 

We know the tongue has power to generate life,

To produce seeds that will eventually take root

And will bring forth two very different kinds of fruit:

Love, joy and peace or envy, confusion and strife

Can build or destroy a brother, a friend, a wife.

With his hand, the helmsman easily turns great ships,

So we covenant to guard the gates of our lips,

For words can heal or pierce the heart as a sharp knife.

We desire life and long to see good all our days,

So we speak the truth and refrain from speaking lies.

Like Jesus, we want our tongues to speak what God says.

We seek to be wise but never in our own eyes.

Pressing toward the finish, the coming of God’s kingdom,

We seek not just a word but the spirit of wisdom.

We are encouraged to make positive confessions and to speak words of positive affirmation regarding ourselves and others. The Verse of the Day for September 19, 2013 and other scriptures remind believers to let our words always be seasoned with salt, that they may minister grace to the hearers.

Johnny Holmes expresses the essence of the our desire that thoughts that come from our hearts conveyed in the words that come from our mouths will be acceptable unto God, as revealed in Psalm 19:14:

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight. O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.

As I Begin This Day. . .

September 18, 2013

Many times I begin my day reflecting on the goodness of God, recalling how much I love the Lord when I realize just how much He loves me. I attempt to express my thoughts in a blog post “As I Begin this Day. . .” which I am re-blogging here.

Dr. J's Apothecary Shoppe

 

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…

View original post 506 more words

As I Begin This Day. . .

September 18, 2013

Many times I begin my day reflecting on the goodness of God, recalling how much I love the Lord when I realize just how much He loves me. I attempt to express my thoughts in a blog post “As I Begin this Day. . .” which I am re-blogging here.

Dr. J's Apothecary Shoppe

 

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…

View original post 506 more words

As I Begin This Day. . .

September 18, 2013

Many times I begin my day reflecting on the goodness of God, recalling how much I love the Lord when I realize just how much He loves me. I attempt to express my thoughts in a blog post “As I Begin this Day. . .” which I am re-blogging here.

Dr. J's Apothecary Shoppe

 

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…

View original post 506 more words

Ephesians 5:1-2: Imitate God and walk in love

September 17, 2013

Ephesians_5-1

As is so often the case, the Verse of the Day becomes a springboard for a wonderful unfolding of scriptures that launch us into a glorious new day. Today, September 17, the opening verse is taken from Ephesians 5:1 in the King James Version:

Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;

Verse 2 continues with the exhortation:

And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

In comparing various versions, I many times prefer the Amplified Bible, especially in this case:

Ephesians 5:1-2

Therefore be imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father].

And walk in love, [esteeming and delighting in one another] as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a slain offering and sacrifice to God [for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance.

The Lord desires that as believers we become followers, imitators or mimics of Him, as we continue to walk in the love of God. We should let love lead the way, in that “Love moves first.” Walking in love is the more excellent way, as expressed in this poem by John Oxenham:

Love ever lives, outlives

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.

The last line of the poem repeats the verb “give” three times; however, in actuality, you could extend the repetition “And give and give, and give, and give. . .  (ad infinitum), for true love is giving endlessly.

I Corinthians 13 also reminds us that Love never fails:  Jim Brickman/Amy Sky also reinforce this message in the following video:

When we walk in love, we cannot lose . . . when we fail to walk in love, we cannot win.

Love beareth

I Corinthians 13 concludes with a reference to three quintessential aspects of our lives: “Faith, hope, love . . .” the inspiration for:

These Three

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three;

but the greatest of these is love.

I Corinthians 13:13 (New King James Version)

 

Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love,

and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ

in the sight of our God and Father,        

1 Thessalonians 1:3 (New King James Version)

 

As Abraham lived by faith, trusted and obeyed,

So we walk by faith and follow his example,

For God is faithful and through His Word conveyed

That the blessings of the Lord are more than ample.

Despite the storms of life, we are anchored in hope.

As Kingdom citizens with their minds set above,

We view heavenly bodies as through a telescope

And soar beyond the world on wings of a dove.

We seek to follow after Christ, the more excellent way,

To walk in love and simply follow his command.

Renewing our minds in all that we do and say,

We seek not be understood but to understand.

Live by faith, rejoice in hope, walk in love and see

Faith, hope and love: Love is the greatest of these three.

The opening lyrics learned in my childhood from a song written by Dale Evans Rogers speak of these three essential aspects of the Christian walk:

Have faith, hope and charity,
That’s the way to live successfully.
How do I know? The Bible tells me so.

Indeed the Scriptures remind us to “live by faith,” “rejoice in hope,” and “walk in love.”

Rejoice in the Lord!

September 12, 2013

Philippians_4-4

The Verse of the Day for September 12, 2013 is a marvelous reminder of the attitude that we should have as we approach each day.

Philippians 4:4

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.

The New Living Translation puts it this way:

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!

Despite the horrific conditions that Paul found himself in while imprisoned in an underground dungeon known as “a house of darkness,” his letter to the church at Philippi abounds with references to joy and rejoicing.  Renowned Biblical teacher John McArthur refers to Philippians as the “Epistle of Joy,” Paul mentions some form of the word “joy” at least 16 times in these four chapters. McArthur notes that Paul also mentions Christ 50 times and states, “And that is because his joy is found in Christ and so is our joy.”

I have fond memories of Philippians 4:4 taught as scripture memory song that was sung as a round in the Children’s Ministry classes that I taught for years. Here is a recording of the verse:

Israel Houghton offers a lively contemporary arrangement inspired in part by Philippians 4:4:

Paul’s exhortation to rejoice is clear. Philippians 4:4 is simply a reiteration of Psalm 118:24 “This is the day that Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” This verse is used as an epigraph or brief introduction to a celebratory poem that expresses the essence of joy that should abound in our lives every day.

Good News Day

This is the day the LORD has made;

we will rejoice and be glad in it.

 Psalm 118:24

 

It’s a good news day

no blues day

new shoes

no way to lose

What a good news day

 

It’s a great day

I can’t wait day

lift your voice

let’s rejoice

Good God, a good news day

 

It’s a payday

goin my way day

no nay–all yea

what you say

Such a good news day

 

It’s a live it up day

overflowin cup day

It’s a bright and bubbly

doubly lovely

Show-nuff good news day

Good News Day

On 9-11-13: Remembering beauty for ashes

September 11, 2013
The lower perimeter columns of the north and west faces of Two World Trade Center (south tower) after the collapse of the building.

The lower perimeter columns of the north and west faces of the World Trade Center (south tower) after the collapse of the building following the attack on 9-11.

Today, September 11, 2013, marks the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington DC. In addition, the nation pauses to remember the one-year 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 penetrated plumes of dust and debris on that fateful day, September 11, 2001 . This morning I thought of the passage from Isaiah 61:3 which makes known the transforming power of God:

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.

The God of universe, the all-wise, all-powerful, all-loving God, can utterly transform what appears the most devastating disaster into a glorious triumph that defies all attempts to figure out how such a grand outcome is even conceivable. I thought of a blog post on Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe inspired by this comforting passage from Isaiah. I thought it would be appropriate to re-post this two-part entry on this another 9-11 commemoration:

https://drlej.wordpress.com/2012/10/20/beauty-for-ashes-and-the-power-of-god-parts-1-and-2/

https://drlej.wordpress.com/2012/10/20/beauty-for-ashes-and-the-power-of-god-part-2/

A view of the World Trade Center 9-11-11 Tribute in light from Jersey City, NJ. The red, white & blue building on the left is the new World Trade Center building (formerly known as The Freedom Tower).

A view of the World Trade Center 9-11-11 Tribute in light from Jersey City, NJ. The red, white & blue building on the left is the new World Trade Center building (formerly known as The Freedom Tower).