Archive for January, 2018

True servant: first and the last

January 29, 2018

The Verse of the Day for January 29, 2018 speaks of the oxymoronic nature of true servanthood: the last shall be first and the first shall be last. If you want to be in the premier position as number one, then put yourself in the last position by putting others first, and you will be great.

Mark 9:35 (NLT)

He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”

Jesus Christ illustrates the same point that those who desire to be first should put themselves last and serve others first. Other places in the Scriptures also reveal this striking portrait of a true servant of the Lord:

Luke 22:26 (NLT)

But among you it will be different among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant,t. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant.

A particularly noteworthy verse is found in Matthew 20:27 (NLT):

And whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave.

In following in the steps of Jesus Christ, one of the most noble character traits that a person can demonstrate is that of serving others. Throughout the life and ministry of Christ, he takes upon himself the form of a servant, thus modeling the behavior that he desires to see his followers emulate.
Nowhere is this portrait of a true servant of the Lord more vividly revealed than in the account where Jesus washes the feet of the disciples in John 13:12-15:

12 After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. 14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.

A number of years ago, my wife and I received a special Christmas gift: a statue of Christ washing one of his disciples’ feet with the inscription John chapter 13 embossed on the base. I was deeply moved when I opened the package and discovered such a priceless gift inside. In reflecting on this sculpture and the related verses, this poem comes to mind:

         Let Me Wash Your Feet

As Jesus put off his garments and wrapped a towel
around himself,
So I lay aside my pride with nothing to hide and
expose myself.
As a humble servant I long to wash your feet.
You could yourself
Perform this deed of loving service, but let me
Serve you myself.
To allow me to wash your feet is to bless me,
as Christ himself
Blessed the Twelve before he departed from this earth.
You have yourself
The key to the door of blessing for you and me:

As Jesus took
Upon himself
The servant’s form
That I myself
Might freely give
To you yourself,
So I ask you
As Christ himself
Still asks of me,
So I ask you to

Let me to wash your feet.

“The Basin and the Towel,” musical composition by Michael Card, also portrays this moving account of John 13 in this video:

The Verse of the Day and subsequent verses remind us once again that those who would be great must first serve others.

Thanksliving: Universal Antidote for Toxic Emotions

January 28, 2018

1 Thessalonians-5 18 New

Exactly one week ago, I was honored to share the Word of God at Operation More Compassion, a local suicide prevention ministry, founded by Pastor James Simmons, a student at Carolina College of Biblical Studies where I teach.  As I reflect back on the events that unfolded during a week of physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges of immense magnitude, I recognize that the entire service was not just an opportunity to share the Word of God, but everything was custom-crafted to prepare me for the grueling week that began that very Sunday.  Invariably, I have learned that whatever God inspires you to teach others, He is first of all teaching and ministering to you. Today’s post summarizes the teaching shared a week ago: Thanksliving: Universal Antidote for Toxic Emotions (“Stinkin’ Thinkin’”)

In critical situations where a person may have accidentally ingested a poisonous substance, the Poison Control Center, if contacted, can suggest a specific antidote to counteract that poison. In some cases a “universal antidote” is recommended. Activated Charcoal has the well-earned reputation of being a key ingredient in a “universal antidote” that can facilitate the removal countless poisonous substances before they can cause harm. In terms of counteracting the potentially crippling negative effects of fear, anger, disappointment, discouragement, despair, all of which can culminate in unbelief that stifles our confidence and trust in God’s promises, I recommend another “universal antidote” to counteract any and all of these negative issues of life. A heavy dose of “thanksgiving” will counter the potentially crippling negative effects of any toxic emotions of life.

When most people hear the term “thanksgiving,” there is an almost automatic association with the fourth Thursday in November and all the food and festivities associated with that national holiday. For believers, “Thanksgiving” is always appropriate. “Thanksgiving” is the reason, not only for the current season as we embark upon a New Year, but “thanksgiving” should be the reason for every season.

In its most basic sense, “thanksgiving” applies an essential principle of life: giving and receiving. When one gives, one receives, and always in greater proportion than one gives. Although many people think of giving and receiving in terms of tithes and offerings or of giving of material abundance within a church or religious context, the universal principle works in all aspects of life—particularly in “thanksgiving.” In its most literal sense, the term means “to give thanks” or “to show oneself grateful.”  It is an expression of gratitude, a form of prayer specified in I Timothy 2:1 “. . . requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving. . . .”

As Christian believers, giving thanks to God for His grace and goodness is a positive expression that reverses the negative thinking pattern generated by toxic emotions We cannot truly be thankful and feel fearful or disappointed or resentful at the same time, nor can we be angry or discouraged or jealous when we see all that God has done for us and express our gratitude to Him at the same time. Certainly we cannot simultaneously sink to the depths of despair when we recognize how blessed we have been thus far, as we anticipate even greater blessings on the horizon, for the best is always yet to come with God, our beneficent Father.

God desires that we show ourselves grateful at all times. The Word of God reminds us of this truth in a number of places:

Colossians 3:17

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

A similar reminder is found in Ephesians 5:20:

Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Word of God reveals that the giving of thanks is to be more than an occasional act of gratitude; it is to be an ongoing part of our lives.

Philippians 4:6-8 (NLT):

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.         

Perhaps the most dramatic reminder to live in continuous thanksgiving is found in I Thessalonians 5:18:

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Every situation offers an opportunity to be thankful, no matter how bright or bleak life may be. We can always find something to be thankful for, if for nothing more than that we are alive or that our situation could be worse. We can begin with thanking God that we are alive and then adding to the long list of blessings we are enjoying at that moment. Each time we set our minds to be thankful, we are doing the will of God, which is the innermost desire of every believer. To give thanks is to do the will of God.

Feeling disappointed, discouraged, and in despair or having other negative feelings is sometimes described as “stinkin’ thinkin’” which can directly affect how we act. One of the critical factors in our physical and emotional well-being is attitude. The discussion of attitude comes full circle with this reminder that “attitude begins with gratitude.” J. Rufus Moseley speaks of “an attitude of gratitude and boundless good will.” For believers thanksgiving is a magnificent and joyful “response-ability”; that is, our ability to respond to God’s love and grace. We endeavor to demonstrate our gratitude to God from the fullness of our hearts, overflowing with thanks. More than merely occasionally expressing how grateful we are, we desire to maintain a continual “attitude of gratitude,” a lifestyle that some have called thanksliving.

More than merely saying “thank you” to God, more than simply tithing or sharing of our abundance or giving of our time or material goods, thanksliving is a way of life, expressing gratitude to God in everything we say and do. It is more than the arrival of Friday (TGIF), for which the workaday world thanks God. For believers, every day should be a day of living in thanks. We show with all our being, “Thank God it’s Sunday through Saturday.” As we do so, we counteract the negative effects of fear, disappointment, discouragement, despair and any other toxic emotions or “stinkin thinkin” that keeps us from being all that God designed us to be.

We close with these encouraging words:

At All Times                      

I will bless the Lord at all times,

His praise shall continually be in my mouth.  

Psalm 34:1


When we see God’s goodness and mercy flow freely,

As we savor the ecstasy of victory,

When joy overflows and floods our soul, we must 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, we must seek God.


When we long to abide within a tranquil mood

And linger in moments of sweetest quietude,

From the depths of our soul, we must worship God.


Despite raging seas, stormy winds and blinding rain,

When protracted pain strikes like a knife and numbs your brain

So that we can scarcely scream His name, we must trust God.


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

Through every why and wherefore, for every reason

Every moment we draw breath, we must thank God.


We seek the Lord and ask ourselves, “What shall we do?”

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

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

Finally, the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir offers this musical reminder: “In Everything Give Him Thanks”:

Way maker and more

January 26, 2018

Isaiah 43--19

Recently during a powerful time of worship, the lyrics to “Way Maker” by Nigerian recording artist Sinach resonated within me, touching the depths of my soul as the chorus offers a series of comparisons declaring who God is and what He will do:

Way maker
Miracle worker
Promise keeper
Light in the darkness
My God
That is who you are

Throughout the Scriptures we find extensive use of such metaphors that enlighten us regarding God’s amazing power and might and willingness to come to our rescue.

Way Maker

Isaiah 43:16, 18-19 provide this portrait:

Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea
And a path through the mighty waters,

18 “Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert.

Miracle Worker

God, our Father,  confirms the gospel of salvation by signs, and wonders and various miracles carried out by Jesus Christ, the Apostles, and by believers who operate the gifts of the Holy Spirit today, according to Hebrews 2:3-5

Promise Keeper

God Almighty, creator of the heavens and the Earth, is faithful and true, the original “Promise Keeper” who cannot lie. The Word of God declares God has given us exceeding great and precious promises that shall all be fulfilled:

For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.

Light in the darkness

Job speaks this reminder of who God is:

He reveals mysteries from the darkness and brings the deepest darkness into the light.

While the Psalmist also declares:

You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.

The Prophet Isaiah makes known these truths:

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.

I will lead the blind by a way they did not know; I will guide them on paths they have not known. I will turn darkness to light in front of them and rough places into level ground. This is what I will do for them, and I will not forsake them.

Reflecting on the lyrics to this powerful song of worship inspired this response:

That is who You are.

Way Maker

Who by His own power makes a way out of no way,

Out of darkness into the light of a brand new day.

That is who He is, and that is all we have to say.


Miracle Worker

Our source and resource of miracles without measure

From the riches of the glory of His vast treasure.

To work on our behalf is always His good pleasure.


Promise Keeper

His will is to fulfill every promise He has spoken.

We know no word of the Lord can ever be broken.

Each promise fulfilled is but a foretaste, a token.


Light in the darkness

We who once sat in darkness have now seen a great light.

With the light of His Word we put ten thousands to flight,

Pressing toward a new day when there shall be no more night.


That is who you are

We long to know you more closely and not from afar.

We love You and worship You for who you are.

We close with Sinach offering her rendition of “Way Maker”:


Keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking

January 22, 2018

The following blog entry originally posted a year ago has been modified and re-posted below: The Verse of the Day for January 22, 2018 comes from Matthew 7:7-8. Here is a rendering from the New Living Translation:

[Effective Prayer] “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

This particular translation recognizes that in the Greek New Testament the three verbs are expressed in the present progressive tense: meaning keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking. In the same manner that a child will keep asking for a treat while shopping with his or her parents, Jesus Christ says to continue to ask, continue to seek, continue to knock.

In reflecting on the passage from the Sermon on the Mount, I thought of the last phrase of the 8th verse: “. . . and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.” Revelation 3:20 came to mind where the Master declares, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear my voice and openeth the door, I will come in and sup with him and he with me.”

In the Bible, eating with someone was a most intimate act. One did not eat with strangers or those outside his most intimate circle of family and friends. In that light, Revelation 3:20 takes on even more significance as an invitation to intimacy. Luke 24 speaks of Jesus and the disciples on the Road to Emmaus and of their breaking bread together, a time of intense intimacy when Jesus opened the eyes of their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures. This unfolding of Himself as revealed in the Scriptures occurred during a meal, a time of wonderfully rich fellowship and intimacy.

About 15 years ago I wrote a scripture memory song using Matthew 7:7-8, and I also recall composing a song that we used to sing before serving our lunch at the summer program for school-age children where I worked. It is based in part on the passage from Revelation:

Come and dine with me, Jesus said
Come and dine with me, Jesus said
I’ve prepared a table to set before you
Come and dine with me, Jesus said

A few years later after having composed the first scripture memory song, I also realized that the verb A-S-K forms an acrostic which is the poetic form of the following:

Always ask, no matter how great or small the task.
Serve the Lord God with a pure heart and remove the mask.
Keep trusting in the Lord–all you have to do is ask.

Someday soon we shall stand on top of the mountain peak.
Every golden promise God has fulfilled, as we speak.
Each day adds another victory toward your winning streak.
Keep pressing toward the mark to obtain the prize you seek.

Keep renewing your mind, assess your thoughts and take stock.
Never give up–build your hope on Christ, the solid rock.
Overcome the odds–by faith get around any roadblock.
Count your blessings with every tick-tock of the clock
Keep this in mind and call on the Lord: ask, seek, and knock.

We close with a reminder of Matthew 7:7-8 from the Las Vegas Community Choir:

The patience of Job

January 19, 2018

Instead of the Word of the Day, we are going to examine the Quote of the Day for January 19, 2018, a remarkable statement about patience:

Learn the art of patience. Apply discipline to your thoughts when they become anxious over the outcome of a goal. Impatience breeds anxiety, fear, discouragement and failure. Patience creates confidence, decisiveness, and a rational outlook, which eventually leads to success.

Brian Adams

As believers, perfecting the art of patience involves learning to wait on the Lord. The closing verses of my favorite psalm come to mind:

Psalm 27:13-14 (NKJV)

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
that I would see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.

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

In the Bible the word for patience been translated endurance or perseverance, steadfastly bearing up under and remaining faithful while waiting. Patience or perseverance is a fruit of the spirit that should be evident in our lives, as we wait on the Lord.

When we examine one of the words translated “patience”, we see a compound word meaning “to stay, remain, abide”, literally abiding under. The verb form means to stay under or behind, remain; figuratively, to undergo, that is bear (trials), have fortitude, to persevere — abide, endure, take patiently, suffer, tarry behind.

The root idea of the noun is that of remaining under some discipline, subjecting one’s self to something which demands the yielding of the will to something against which one naturally would rebel. It means cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy — enduring, patience, patient continuance (waiting). It is a bearing up in a way that honors and glorifies our heavenly Father, not merely to grin and bear it.

James 5:11 provides an excellent example of the word for patience being used as a verb and as a noun in a particular individual who embodies the character trait of patient endurance. The New Living Translation offers this rendering containing a familiar phrase that encompasses a character trait most often associated with Job:

We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy.

The Book of Job is a classic example of the principle of first usage and first spiritual principle, which highlights as particularly important the first time that a concept is mentioned in the Bible. E.W. Bullinger and other Bible scholars surmise that the first book written was the Book of Job, believed to have been composed by Moses. Job, whom Chuck Swindoll described as a “man of heroic endurance,” was, indeed, a real person, and his story is one of the first demonstrations of many spiritual principles, one of the first being that God is “full of compassion and tender mercy” and that He rewards those who demonstrate “patience.” Although it is said that “Patience is its own reward,” God also rewards patience, as so clearly demonstrated at the end the Book of Job. Recall Job 42:10:

And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the
LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.

The topic of the need for patience in our lives brings to mind a statement by Graham Cooke whose words inspired this poetic response:

A Prayer for Patience

“My suggestion for people in a season of birth or upgrade
is to write out a prayer for patience and pray it every day.”

Graham Cooke

For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance,
so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God,
and thus receive and carry away [and enjoy to the full] what is promised.
Hebrews 10:36 (Amplified Bible)

We look back and pause and then look ahead to see
Clearly who God is and who He has called us to be.
We still journey down the road less travelled by
And pray that patience may serve as a trusted ally.
We must say “No” to the pressures of this life
And say “Yes” to the rest God gives, despite the strife.
As we stay our mind on Him, we abide in peace.
When we praise God, works of the enemy decrease.
May we remain and not fall by the wayside as some
But like Job wait until at last our change shall come.
Patient endurance seems delayed for some reason,
But fruit abounds to those who wait in their season.
We pray that in this time of transition and shift
That we embrace waiting as a wonderful gift.

We conclude with Karen Clark Sheard and Donnie McClurkin offering a song to capture the essence of our discussion on patience: “Wait on the Lord.”

Walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh

January 18, 2018

According to, the Verse of the Day for January 16, 2018 was found in Galatians 5:16 (NIV):

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

Most amazingly this verse is one I discuss in detail in my forthcoming book that gives an account of my 18-year battle and ultimate victory over prostate cancer. Stay tune to Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe as the publication details unfold. Here is an excerpt from the section “The real battle field is the mind” where I talk about the mental or emotional challenges confronting me when I was diagnosed with prostate cancer 18 years ago.

My experience helped me to understand more fully this intense conflict raging within every believer: the ongoing battle between good and evil, the constant struggle between fulfilling the lusts of the flesh and walking by the spirit. This dilemma is sharply delineated in

Galatians 5: 16-18 in the Amplified Bible:

16 But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God).

17 For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the [Holy] Spirit, and the [desires of the] Spirit are opposed to the flesh (godless human nature); for these are antagonistic to each other [continually withstanding and in conflict with each other], so that you are not free but are prevented from doing what you desire to do.

18 But if you are guided (led) by the [Holy] Spirit, you are not subject to the Law.

Paul goes on to draw a sharp contrast between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the spirit. This never-ending internal conflict is also depicted in Romans 7:18-25, where Paul speaks of his desire to do good , to do the right thing , but he winds up doing the very thing that he doesn’t want to do, and regrettably he does not do what he so longs to do:

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.

19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.

20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.

21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good.

22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.

23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.

During the time of my internal struggles “to get it together and keep it together,” I was teaching a class on America literature, and one of the writers whom we discussed was Colonial poet Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672), who personalizes the constant conflict raging within her own mind and within every Christian believer in this excerpt from “The Flesh and the Spirit”:

I heard two sisters reason on
Things that are past and things to come.
One Flesh was call’d, who had her eye
On worldly wealth and vanity;
The other Spirit, who did rear
Her thoughts unto a higher sphere.

This intense internal conflict is depicted in this original poem as a fight where each individual can determine the outcome:

Two Ravenous Wolves

An elder Cherokee chief took his grandchildren
into the forest and sat them down and said to them,
‘A fight is going on inside me. This is a terrible fight
and it is a fight between two wolves.
One wolf is the wolf of fear, anger, arrogance and greed.
The other wolf is the wolf of courage, kindness,
humility and love. . . .This same fight between the
two wolves that is going on inside of me
is going on inside of you, and inside every person.”

Rabbi Marc Gellman

Two ravenous wolves wage constant warfare within.
Each stalks the other, striving to survive, to reign.
One embodies fear, anger, arrogance, and greed,
The other courage, kindness, humility and love:
One a sinister serpent, one a gentle dove.
Each tries to gain the upper hand and to restrain
Its foe, but only one will rise to seize the lead.
Each is seeking to dominate, driven to gain.
One will be defeated–only one will remain.
Since each beast demands the opposite kind of food,
We select the diet, whether evil or good.
In each conflict, the soul determines who will win,
For wolves are ravaged by an all-consuming need,
And we decide the wolf we starve, the wolf we feed.

Every moment of the day, as believers we must decide the direction we will take, whether we will walk in the spirit or walk in the flesh.

Hosannah! Music closes our discussion with “Walking in the Spirit,” a medley to remind us where we desire to be:

Walking on the water

January 15, 2018

The third week in the New Year seemed to get off to a most inspiring and encouraging start, as I listened to a teaching from Bishop Charles Mellette of Christian Provision Ministries in Sanford, NC. Taken from a series of teachings entitled “Lord, Do You Have More for Me?” with the subtitle: “God is Bigger,” the message was especially challenging for me, as I think of some of the projects I hope to accomplish during 2018.

The message focused on the account where the Lord Jesus Christ came walking on the water during a fierce storm. Peter recognized the savior and asked that he tell him to come to him. As Peter followed the instructions, he climbed out of the ship and began walking toward the Lord. When he noticed the howling winds and the stormy circumstances, Peter became frightened and began to sink. He cried out to the Lord for help, and the Lord spoke these word: “O you of little faith; why did you doubt?” Jesus responds to Peter’s call and helps the fearful disciple. Hand in hand, they both walk back to the ship.

Bishop Mellette emphasized that “God is bigger,” and He has greater goals for us to accomplish. He encouraged us not to be afraid to go after every good thing God has put in our hearts to pursue. He went on to say: “It is time to step up and step out because confidence looks good on us,” noting confidence is a fragrance everybody needs to smell. His remarks caused me to think of 2 Corinthians 2:14 (Amplified Bible):

But thanks be to God, Who in Christ always leads us in triumph [as trophies of Christ’s victory] and through us spreads and makes evident the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere,

This record of Peter’s bold accomplishment under seemingly impossible circumstances, brings to mind one of the poems written following a series of storms that arose after the nation experienced the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and subsequent storms. This particular work is inspired by the same passage from Matthew 14:

Walking on the Troubled Waters of Life

Matthew 14:22-33

In the fourth watch, long before the sun begins to rise,
A tempest attacks my ship with waves that overwhelm.
My vessel seems abandoned with no one at the helm
When a vision of the Savior appears before my eyes:
Jesus comes walking on the troubled waters of life.
As storms of our times bring conflict, confusion and strife.
May I not be fretful, anxious, cowardly like some,
But like Peter say, “Since you are my Lord, bid me come.”
And step out of the boat to walk on the storm-tossed sea.
While battered by fierce waves, tormented and tossed about,
In the time of my distress I cry out, “Lord, save me!”
He then asks, “O, you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
In the midst of turbulent times, may I “get a grip”
And walk hand in hand with the Master back to the ship.

We conclude with a lively exhortation from the musical group Exodus 4:12: “Get out of the Boat:”

Moving forward: understanding the process

January 13, 2018

As 2018 continues to unfold, we recognize that as members of the Body of Christ, we are ever in transition, individually and corporately, moving from faith to faith, glory to glory, and victory to victory. In thinking about this reality, I recall a made statement by Dr. Tom Edwards during his workshop series “Moving My Life Forward” which serves as the Quote of the Day for January 13, 2018:

“Every great assignment and destiny requires transition”:

Dr. Edwards went on to define transition as ‘”a passage, development or movement from one state, condition, phase, or place to another . . . a period of instability proceeded by and followed by a period of instability.” The in-between time can be painful and completely black at times and you cannot see where you are going , but you are pressing toward your destination, the place of your destiny.

The transitional period we are all experiencing is related to the three stages leading to the ultimate fulfiling of the promise of God or a word of the Lord that we have heard. Dr. Edwards notes that the first stage involves hearing and receiving a promise while the second stage indicates the process, the refining or finishing stage that we must not only endure but come to embrace before we reach the third stage: the prize. The poet proclaims: “You’ve got to go through to get to the prize.”

Here is a poetic description of the second stage:

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


My brethren, count it all joy
when you fall into various trials,

James 1:2


“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


My brethren, count it all joy

 when you fall into various trials,

James 1:2


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 strong 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.

During this most painful period of transition, many questions may arise: “What is going on?” Why is this happening to me when I am right at the point of my breakthrough?” “Why me?” “Why now?” We may question God and ask “What are you doing?” Our question should be “Father, what are you trying to teach me?” We must learn to echo the sentiments of the Psalmist who declares:

Psalm 119:71

It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes.

These lyrics also express the song of our heart:

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.

We recognize that God is good, and that all things work together for the good for those who love God and who are called according to His purpose. While we are going through the process, it may not feel good, but it is good for us, working together for our good.

We close with this musical exhortation: “Moving Forward”—Israel Houghton:

Taking a look at leftovers: God’s remnant

January 8, 2018

amos-5 14

Recently the Verses of the Day on have focused on what the people of God should and should not be doing. Revised and re-posted, the Verse of the Day for January 8, 2018 comes from Amos 5:14-15 (NLT):

Do what is good and run from evil so that you may live! Then the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will be your helper, just as you have claimed. Hate evil and love what is good; turn your courts into true halls of justice. Perhaps even yet the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will have mercy on the remnant of his people.

This passage from the Old Testament is part of a dirge, a song expressing sorrow or distress over a great loss, such as the death of a loved one. If the people of God will adhere to the commands of God, “perhaps” or “peradventure,” God will be merciful to “the remnant of His people.”  Maurer goes on to explain “the remnant of Israel that shall have been left after the wicked have been destroyed.” On the Logos Research System this concept is further described as a

. . . group of people who survive a catastrophe brought about by God, ordinarily in judgment for sin. This group becomes the nucleus for the continuation of mankind or the people of God; the future existence of the larger group focuses in this purified, holy remnant that has undergone and survived the judgment of God.

Our discussion of “the remnant” also brings to mind a recent article spotlighting a number of popular London restaurants, such as WastED (the ED stands for education), and other venues who have been taking kitchen leftovers and turning them into ­spectacular meals. In an attempt to highlight Britain’s staggering food waste problem, some of Britain’s top chefs explain how we can all love our leftovers at home and reduce the millions of tons of food thrown away each year. Certainly God, our gracious Heavenly Father, is far greater than any master chef, and He can take what has been rejected and discarded and transform it into a glorious masterpiece.

Throughout the Bible we find accounts referring to a remnant people who will ultimately fulfill the purposes of God. The passage from Amos brings to mind this portrait:

God’s Remnant

God is never left without a remnant.

Apostle Eric L. Warren

And the remnant that is escaped of

the house of Judah shall yet again take

root downward, and bear fruit upward.

2 Kings 19:30


God is looking for a remnant; what is left over

Will suffice in the strong hands of a master craftsman.

Those who seek to know the mind of God will discover

That He keeps a remnant, set apart to stand alone,

A residue, an intricate part of His grand plan.

What the builders rejected is the chief cornerstone.

God uses what is left to fulfill His purposes in the earth.

As God’s remnant, to be hidden is our destiny.

We take root downward and bear fruit upward to give birth

To the glory that God intended our lives to be,

For remnant people maintain the same integrity

As the original: pure in essence—whole, complete,

As leaven remains hidden in three measures of wheat.

In closing, Worship Central reminds believers that we are “Set Apart”:



Good, better, best

January 7, 2018


As a rule, I choose not to make New Year’s resolutions, but I resolve to make each year the best year of my life. I try to follow the admonition I give to the writing students whom I teach, but at the same time this motto can be applied to athletics and to any endeavor:

Good, better, best

Never let it rest

Until your good is better

And your better is best.

In my classes I provide an illustration of this motto in action as I play “the death crawl” scene from “Facing the Giants.” Here we have a coach asking one of his players to “give him his best.” That’s really all that anyone can ask of another person. Even so, as the player-coach that I am, all I am asking of my students—“Give me your best.” After viewing the video, I ask the students to see its personal application to the class and beyond.

In light of the class motto, let us look for a moment at the adjective “good.” The word good is derived from “God” who alone is good. Indeed, Jesus Christ said, “There is none good but the Father.”  Good is an adjective, and an adjective has a comparative form and a superlative form; however, with God there is no comparative nor superlative.  No, God has not seen “better” days, and certainly God does not have the “best” day He’s had in a long time in comparison to others. With God every day is a “Good News Day” because “God is good.” Period! Because God is good, “. . . all things work together for the good, to them that love God, to them that are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28—my favorite verse in the whole Bible) So no matter how bad the situation may appear to be, it will work together for the good.

We proclaim with the Psalmist:

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

“For the Lord is good, and His mercy endures forever.”

As the New Year continues to unfold, we can strive to apply the class motto, not only to the classes that we take or teach but to every aspect of our lives. Our underlying motivation should be our desire to express to God our gratitude for all that He has done for us through Christ Jesus, His Son. In this case, the least that we can do is give him our best. Like the coach in “Facing the Giants” that’s all that God is asking of us. And this should be our response.

We close with the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, as they sing: “Giving My Best to You Lord.”