Archive for September, 2020

Yom Kippur – Day of Atonement and More in 2020

September 27, 2020

Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) is one of two Jewish High Holy Days. It follows 10 days after the first High Holy Day, Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), on the 10th of Tishri, the Hebrew month corresponding to September-October on the secular calendar. The purpose of Yom Kippur is to bring about reconciliation between people and between individuals and God. Ariela Pelaia notes that this solemn occasion is also the day when God decides the fate of each human being, according to Jewish tradition. The observance of Yom Kippur involves three elements: Teshuvah (Repentance), Prayer, and Fasting.

This year, 2020, The Return, a national and global event occurred on the Mall of the Nation’s Capital in Washington, DC on September 26, the day before Yom Kippur. This event brought 50,000 people together and called for national repentance, prayer, and celebration, marking 40 days before elections on November 3rd. Most remarkably, Yom Kippur 2020 begins on the evening of Sunday, September 27, and ends in the evening on Monday, September 28.

The ten days preceding Yom Kippur are known as the Ten Days of Repentance. As the longest Jewish observance, the service on Yom Kippur begins in the morning and lasts until nightfall. Many prayers are said but one is repeated at intervals throughout the service. Known as Al Khet, this prayer asks for forgiveness for sins that may have been committed during the year. According to Jewish tradition, only offenses committed against God can be forgiven on Yom Kippur. It is thus important that people try to reconcile with others before participating in Yom Kippur services. During this period, Jews are encouraged to seek out anyone whom they may have offended and request forgiveness to begin the New Year with a clean slate.

Colossians 2:16-17 offers this reminder:

Therefore, don’t let anyone judge you in regard to food and drink or in the matter of a festival or a new moon or a sabbath day.
These are a shadow of what was to come; the substance is the Messiah.

As Christians, we may not commemorate Yom Kippur and any of the other holy days in the Jewish tradition, but we can certainly learn and grow in our understanding of their significance. We recognize that whatever things were written before time in the Old Testament, were written for our learning. Certainly, as followers of Christ, we can increase our knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures and our appreciation of our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, whose presence is foreshadowed in the Old Testament and revealed throughout the New.

Here is a crafted Christian Prayer for a Jewish Holy Day

Almighty God—our Father—from everlasting to everlasting you are the same—our Father, the Father of Glory, the Father of Jesus Christ, our Lord, who is Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending, the First and the Last, the author and finisher of our Faith, we praise you and honor you as we humble ourselves before you on Yom Kippur, a solemn fast day, the Day of Atonement, to make atonement before the LORD our God.

God, our Father, the only-wise God, our creator, our maker, who fashioned all things after your will, you have made us and you know us: you know our down-sitting and our uprising; you understand our thoughts from afar. You have searched us and known us, and you are acquainted with all our ways. Despite all of our shortcomings and misdeeds, our sins of omission and sins of commission, you are patient and merciful. Thank you that you have not dealt with us after my sins nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. We praise you that you are forgiving and understanding. We thank you that you forgive us of our sins, even as we forgive those who have sinned against us. We praise you for Jesus Christ, the expression of your love, and your desire that we might be reconciled to you again. He shed His life’s blood upon the altar to make atonement for our souls, for the life of the flesh is in the blood and the precious blood of Jesus, the Savior, who makes atonement for our souls. By his shed blood, we are made one with you, even as Jesus Christ prayed that we might be one with you, even as you and your son were one. We thank you that we are one in you through Jesus Christ, our Lord, in whose name we pray. Amen.

We also declare this Manifesto to Remember

Even though we did not know
We had positioned ourselves in submission
To that good and acceptable and perfect will of God,
Even as Jehovah God had aligned our lives that we might be
In this appointed place at this anointed time on Yom Kippur,
As we end the year, in a solemn reflective way
As the former things have passed away
We behold that indeed, the Lord God in His grace makes all things new,
So, we begin the New Year, as we declare this manifesto
Never to forget but ever remember
In 2020 on the 27th of September.

Tommy Walker reinforces this message with “We Will Remember”

Pray: The latter rain is on the way!

September 20, 2020

The Verse of the Day for September 20, 2020, comes from Joel 2:23 in the New Living Translation:

Rejoice, you people of Jerusalem! Rejoice in the LORD your God! For the rain, he sends demonstrates his faithfulness. Once more the autumn rains will come, as well as the rains of spring

This verse from a prophetic passage from Joel brings to mind a teaching I delivered as the morning message at the church I was attending at that time. In the midst of powerfully energetic teaching the sound of thunder and turbulence poured from the speakers, as the following announcement interrupted my message:

We interrupt this teaching to bring you a world-wide weather advisory. This is not a test! Heavy rains are projected for the coming months. Conditions are favorable for a downpour across the world. According to meteorologists and Bible scholars, the latter rain is on its way. This is not a test! Take precautionary measures and prepare for an abundance of rain. Read your Bible and stay tuned for further developments on the projected worldwide outpouring of the spirit of God.


In actuality, the interruption was planned as it set the stage for my message entitled “Pray: The Latter Rain Is on the Way”

This excerpt from that memorable teaching notes that God’s ways are never hidden, and rain is one of the specific ways by which God reveals Himself. Since He is a God of order and planning, God never simply causes it to rain randomly, but He sends rain in due season. He instructed the Children of Israel to walk in His precepts and follow His guidance. If they obeyed, they would then be fruitful, as God showered them with His blessings. God expresses His desires for His children in terms of rain.

Deuteronomy 28:9-11(NLT):

9 “If you obey the commands of the LORD your God and walk in his ways, the LORD will establish you as his holy people as he swore he would do.10 Then all the nations of the world will see that you are a people claimed by the LORD, and they will stand in awe of you.
11 “The LORD will give you prosperity in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you, blessing you with many children, numerous livestock, and abundant crops.12 The LORD will send rain at the proper time from his rich treasury in the heavens and will bless all the work you do. You will lend to many nations, but you will never need to borrow from them.

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

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

Acts 2:16-18

16 No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel:
17 ‘In the last days,’ God says,
‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your young men will see visions,
and your old men will dream dreams.

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

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

“Soon It’s Gonna Rain”:

See how the wind begins to whisper.
See how the leaves go streaming by.
Smell how the velvet rain is falling
Out where the fields are warm and dry.

Soon it’s gonna rain, I can see it
Soon it’s gonna rain, I can tell
Soon it’s gonna rain, what are we gonna do?

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

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

Indeed, there is a parallel between the natural and the spiritual. Conditions are favorable for a worldwide outpouring of God’s spirit. The abundant latter rain precedes a correspondingly great harvest. Jesus Christ reminded His disciples in Matthew 9:37-38:

37 He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. 38 So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”

As we enter into the great harvest, following the Latter Rain, we need to follow the exhortation of Jesus Christ and pray.

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

James 5:7:

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

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

James 5:17-18

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

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

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

Alvin Slaughter and the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir offer a musical benediction to our prayer with Holy Spirit Rain Down:

9-11-2020: Remembering beauty for ashes

September 11, 2020

Today, September 11, 2020, marks the 19th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington DC. In addition, the nation pauses to remember the eighth anniversary of the September 11, 2012 attack against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi where four Americans were killed, including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya. On such solemn occasions, we look for rays of hope, like radiant beams of light that penetrate plumes of dust and debris on that fateful day, September 11, 2001. This morning I thought of the passage from Isaiah 61:3:

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.

Today, we reflect upon God’s amazing ability to transform the most horrific circumstances into a glorious display of His wisdom, power, and might. The expression “beauty for ashes” from Isaiah 61:3 offers a series of such transformations or exchanges that only He can give. That particular verse introduces this original poem with that title:

Beauty for Ashes

To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.

Isaiah 61:3


Beauty for ashes–we are transformed to testify
Of lives so radically changed that we might glorify
The God of Heaven who touches the earth with His love
That overflows with bountiful blessings from above.
We are blessed and highly favored–no one can deny.

That we should be chosen by God some may wonder why,
But none can fathom God’s grace, no matter how they try.
Ascend into God’s presence on the wings of a dove:
Beauty for ashes.

Many times it may seem as if life has passed us by,
But God is faithful; on Him, we can always rely.
Nothing in this life surpasses God’s unchanging love;
It is far beyond all that we could ask or think of.
Remember that God is not a man that He should lie:
Beauty for ashes.

I also recall having completed another poem containing a reference to Isaiah 61:3. Shortly after writing the poem, I was asked to officiate at a funeral service and do the eulogy for someone who had not been affiliated with a local church. It was an unusual service for me in that for the first time the individual being eulogized had been cremated. On a table in front of the mortuary was an urn that contained the ashes of the deceased. As it turned out, this was the perfect occasion for sharing the previously composed poem with the line “Just as from ashes, beauty and splendor arise.” The poem also contains a theme related to God with whom all things are possible and with whom nothing is impossible.

No Matter How You Phrase It

And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men, it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible
Mark 10:27

For with God, nothing shall be impossible.
Luke 1:37


There is none like God who never fails to come through:
Whether you say “With God all things are possible”
Or say “With God, nothing shall be impossible.”
No matter how you phrase it, the Word is still true.
As those who observe the times, we wisely surmise
That the Prince of Peace ascended to end all strife,
Leading captive even death to release new life.
Just as from ashes, beauty and splendor arise,
We boldly declare the Word of God and assert
The Providence of an all-wise Father who makes
Barrenness to bloom with rivers in the desert.
With the Word of Life, even death itself awakes.
We seek to walk in wisdom and number our days,
Humbly discerning that His ways are not our ways.

In addition to reading the poem as part of the eulogy, I also commented about the beauty of gemstones that are formed from volcanic ash. Did you know that ashes in volcanoes under extreme heat and pressure provide the perfect conditions to form certain precious stones, such as diamonds? As the volcanoes erupt, they push the gemstones to the surface where they can be seen after the site has cooled. So, indeed, God both figuratively and literally “gives beauty for ashes.”

Crystal Lewis and Ron Kenoly offer a tender rendition of the song “Beauty for Ashes.”

On the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9-11, we recall God’s amazing power to transform an unimaginable disaster into a glorious display of His power and grace to restore.

God is looking for a dwelling place: Is your heart prepared?

September 6, 2020

The Verse of the Day, for September 6, 2020, comes from John 14:23 (Amplified Bible):

Jesus answered, “If anyone [really] loves Me, he will keep My word (teaching); and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our dwelling place with him.

The verse begins with the conditional clause “if anyone,” followed by the verb “loves.” “If an individual [really] loves Jesus Christ, that person will adhere to the words that the Lord speaks. If they meet those conditions, that individual will be graced with the very presence of God, the Father, and Jesus Christ, His Son. John 14:23 establishes the conditions which, if met, will result in a corresponding action on God’s part.

As we continue to reflect upon the Verse of the Day, a parallel verse also comes to mind, as we begin to focus on Revelation 3: 20, as my mind becomes flooded with warm memories of a recent dining experience.

Revelation 3:20 (Amplified Bible)

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears and listens to and heeds My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and will eat with him, and he [will eat] with Me.

A number of years ago, I recall hearing a message “God is Looking for a Dwelling Place,” and I was inspired to write the following poem:

A Dwelling Transformed

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most-High
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
Psalm 91:1


Despite perilous times embroiled in confusion and strife,
We continue to learn that everything has its own price,
As we pursue the ultimate goal, a set-apart life:
Joint heirs with Christ presented as a living sacrifice.
With clean hands and a pure heart, we prepare a dwelling place.
To attract the Lord, we provide a pleasing ambiance:

As our songs of love flow from the depths of our inner space,
Our habitation designed and arrayed for God’s entrance.
To walk by the spirit of life, we are driven to pursue.
We dance to brand new music, softly playing in our mind,
And strive to understand that God alone makes all things new.
As the eyes of the Lord scan this green planet, may they find
A dwelling transformed into a place of simple beauty,
As we offer all that we are and ever hope to be.

The poem reflects the innermost desire of many fellow believers who are earnestly seeking to situate themselves to be in position for the next “move of God,” yearning for a fresh visitation from the Lord. While to bask in His glorious presence would bring with it, unspeakable joy, the deepest yearning of our heart is to experience an unprecedented visitation that goes on without interruption, a move of God extending indefinitely. Francis Frangipane reiterates this point, “Let us also keep in mind that the goal of a visitation from God is that we become the habitation of God.” Indeed, we long to see times of visitation transformed into times of habitation.

Imagine this scenario—you have a good friend who sometimes comes by to visit. You would like to have that individual come by more often, so you prepare a place for your friend to stay. In a similar way, the Shunamite woman and her husband prepared a special abode for Elijah, who visited them periodically. You know what your close acquaintance likes and does not like, so you have what they like, so you custom design an appointed the place to suit your visitor.

It is no different with God. We endeavor to provide the perfect atmosphere, the ideal conditions that will welcome Him so that He shows up often and stays long. In fact, our ultimate desire is to turn a visitation into a habitation, but how is this accomplished?

When God makes visiting a habit, then visitation becomes habitation. God visits so often and enjoys Himself so much that His visits become more and more frequent, and He stays longer and longer until His visits are a habit, and He decides to abide. Our heart’s deepest yearning for intimacy is expressed in this poem:

Times of Visitation

As you once visited Abraham, our father,

and sent angelic hosts to reinforce your pledge,

in these times of barrenness and seeming defeat,

where are the times of visitation set for us?

We offer our hearts, places prepared for you to meet.

As you sojourn, may you find in our lives a place

so prepared for you to come with friendly intent

that on each occasion where you show up

that your ultimate purpose is most apparent.

As you clearly reveal your promise to fulfill

your will, receive our obedience as sacrifice,

may favor be our portion as your faithful ones.          

May you find us yielded vessels, clean and fitted

for the glory of your presence that you might pour

blessings without measure to overflow and flood

our souls, as we commune with you in perfect peace.

May we never squander times of visitation

but shut the door in face of the enemy,

as we open wide the portals of our spirit

and transform our hearts into your habitation.


Esther Mui offers a tender rendering of Psalm 91 with its reference to God’s dwelling place

Prostate Cancer Awareness Month 2020

September 5, 2020

As the ninth month of the year continues to unfold, we sound the trumpet to alert the public that September has been designated as Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. as we focus on this important health concern among American men.

About 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime. Last year, over 170,000 men received such a diagnosis. Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men, especially in African American men. However, prostate cancer develops mainly in older men. About 6 out of 10 cases are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older, and it is rare before age 40. The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 66.

Although prostate cancer can be a serious disease, the good news is that most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it—”I am a living witness!” In fact, in the United States, more than 2.9 million men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lives are still alive today. A diagnosis of prostate cancer or any other cancer or debilitating disease is not a “death sentence,” but it can be a “life sentence” to build your faith and trust in God.

During National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, we remember those we have lost to prostate cancer and celebrate survivors, as we renew our commitment to preventing, detecting, and treating this frequently occurring illness. During September, we encourage men to have a health check-up and talk to their doctor about prostate cancer. In fact, September 17 is also designated Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day. Light blue is the color of the ribbon bringing attention to prostate cancer.

Blue signifies the blue skies or the life-giving air and often symbolizes hope or good health. As the poet proclaims:

pastel blue
lighter, brighter
subtle twinge
of powder blue
like Betty Lou
hop-scotchin
up to sky blue
and back

As a prostate cancer survivor, I recognize the personal significance of September as Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Receiving a diagnosis of prostate cancer in 2000 was life-changing for me, as I asked God what to do. He gave me a holistic strategy, a battle plan, that took me down the road less traveled by that ultimately led to my being not just as a survivor but more than a conqueror. I share my testimony in Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs. The book closes with an original poem of celebration with Romans 8:37 as its introduction, expressing my new identity not, just during Prostate Cancer Awareness Month but every day I draw breath:

Embracing Your Life Sentence–
More than a Conqueror


Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors
and gain an overwhelming victory through Him
who loved us [so much that He died for us].

Romans 8:37 (AMP)


Embracing Your Life Sentence, more than a conqueror,
Defying the odds as a brave conquistador.
Despite intense pressure, I learn to rest in grace,
More than enough to withstand the daily tests I face,
Not merely to survive but to thrive even more.

A mighty warrior, triumphant super-victor
With a cause, prepared not to die but to live for.
At times I fell behind but fought to keep the pace:
Embracing Your Life Sentence, more than a conqueror,

To fulfill all the will of God and then to soar
To heights sublime where I have never been before.
Overcomer, bearing light in the darkest place,
I still fight the good fight, as I finish my race,
Moving forward, seeking to find the next open door:
Embracing Your Life Sentence, more than a conqueror,

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

My book is available through Amazon.com and wherever books are sold and through my website: https://lonnelledwardjohnson.com. Check out another tribute to Prostate Cancer Awareness Month on Medium.com and celebrate the goodness and the grace of God with me.

Dr. J is celebrating as not just a survivor but more than a conqueror.