Archive for the ‘Application of Biblical Principles’ Category

Watch your mouth

September 19, 2018

Earlier this week, I announced that my new book is scheduled for release on October 15, 2018. In Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs, I share my holistic strategy to overcome prostate cancer. Part of my approach involves going to the Bible and looking for principles that I can apply to my situation. The Verse of the Day for September 19, 2018 brought to mind Chapter 2 which opens with Ephesians 4:29 in the Message Bible:

Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 2:

Watch your mouth

In my situation, I recognized that I had to become a guardian or watchman of what John Bunyan calls “every gate that opens in our heart.” Howard Morgan speaks of “gates” as “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 “the ear gate,” “the eye gate,” and “the mouth gate.” The picture of the three wise monkeys came to mind to remind me that I must consciously seek to “watch what I hear, watch what I see, and watch what I say.”

With regard to the mouth as a gate that I had to watch, I had to monitor not only what went into the mouth—what I chose to eat—but what came out of my mouth–what I chose to speak as well. Since “The power of life and death is in the power of the tongue,” I carefully chose the words that I would speak, as this original poem states:

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.

Throughout the whole process of responding to the diagnosis of prostate cancer, I had to encourage myself to make positive confessions and to speak words of positive affirmation. The Scriptures remind believers to let our words always be seasoned with salt, that they may minister grace to the hearers.

Most amazingly I did not have to look in the mirror to watch my mouth, but then again, I did! I looked into the mirror of the Word of God and made sure that what I said lined up with what the Word of God says. The Book of James speaks of not just being one who hears the Word but also one who does the Word: “a hearer and a doer.” Indeed, my actions speak louder than my words in this instance.

To sum up what I learned about watching in a strategic way, I came across this statement attributed to Frank Outlaw, founder of Bi-Lo Stores. Each line opens with an exhortation to “watch.” What we are to observe closely could we arranged as an acrostic that can be rearranged to spell “W-A-T-C-H”:

“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

Each chapter of Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs concludes with a psalm of remembrance of God’s goodness and faithfulness. As the journey continues, I am

Watching, Waiting, Seeking

Wait on the LORD; be of good courage,
and He shall strengthen your heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD!
Psalm 27:14

We are strengthened by the Word of God where we find
Courage to endure while seeking to watch and wait.
Those who watch and wait are never left behind,
For God has always been faithful and never late.
We trust in the Lord, as the Word of God extols.
Like Job we wait until at last our change shall come,
Assured that in patience we now anchor our souls.
May we not faint and fall by the wayside as some
But follow in Christ’s steps, as we quickly obey
And bear up under and yield fruit of endurance.
We must walk in God’s love, the more excellent way
And through faith and patience claim our inheritance.
In these perilous times we are yielded and still,
Watching, waiting, seeking to fulfill all God’s will.

The essence of the importance of “watching your mouth” and guarding the gates of our lives is captured in a simple children’s song that expresses profound truths: “O Be Careful Little Eyes:

If it had not been for the Lord. . .

September 18, 2018

Despite the stress and the distress in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence with its devastating impact on the Carolinas, we remain overwhelmingly grateful to God. I woke up this morning abiding in the safety of the Lord, thankful for life, health, and strength, being able to express in words my gratitude as I post this entry.

In reflecting on where I have been and where I am now, I often say, “If it had not been for the Lord, I shudder to think where I would be.” I also think of Psalm 124 which opens with a similar statement, “If it had not been for the Lord who was on our side. . . .” Here is the psalm in its entirety in the King James Version:

Psalm 124

“If it had not been the Lord who was on our side,”
Let Israel now say—
“If it had not been the Lord who was on our side,
When men rose up against us,
Then they would have swallowed us alive,
When their wrath was kindled against us;
Then the waters would have overwhelmed us,
The stream would have gone over our soul;
Then the swollen waters
Would have gone over our soul.”

Blessed be the Lord,
Who has not given us as prey to their teeth.
Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers;
The snare is broken, and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.

Verse 1 was the inspiration for this personal poetic expression:

If It Had Not Been for the Lord

“If it had not been the LORD who was on our side,”
Let Israel now say—
Psalm 124:1

If it had not been for the Lord who was on our side,

We would have drowned in the sea from the tears we cried.

We shudder to think just where we would be today.

We would have lost our mind or turned and walked away,

we learned that God is faithful—this cannot be denied.

 

He was there to guide when we were tempted and tried,

Our shelter from the storm where we could run and hide.

He was our deliverer—that is all we have to say:

If it had not been for the Lord.

 

Enemies rose up like a flood to wash aside,

But God came through and rescued us and turned the tide.

Pressing toward the mark, dawning of a brand new day,

Through all our trials we learned to watch, fight and pray.

The Lord is our keeper; in Him we confide:

If it had not been for the Lord.

Esther Mui offers Psalm 124: “Our Help is in the Name of the LORD.”

The reference to Psalm 124 causes us to think about where we all might have been, if it had not been for the Lord who was on our side.

Prostate Cancer Awareness Week

September 17, 2018

Designated Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, September brings focus to prostate cancer, an important health concern among American men. Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men, especially in African American men. 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.

The Prostate Conditions Education Council (PCEC), a national organization committed to men’s health and a leader in prostate cancer screening, sponsors Prostate Cancer Awareness Week (PCAW) from September 17-21, 2018. During September men are encouraged men to have a health check and talk to their doctor about prostate cancer. In fact, September 18 is also designated Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day. Light blue is the color of the ribbon bringing attention to prostate cancer.

As a prostate cancer survivor, September is an especially significant month for me. Receiving a diagnosis of prostate cancer in 2000 was life-changing. I share my response to the diagnosis in my forthcoming book, Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs. While some see a cancer diagnosis as a “death sentence,” I see it as a “life sentence” that transformed my thinking. Embracing Your Life Sentence offers lessons learned from this life-changing process. In revealing my holistic strategy to combat prostate cancer, I take you down the road less travelled on a journey that weaves original poetry, Scripture, and my battle plan, to show how I emerged, not just as a survivor but more than a conqueror. Scheduled release is mid-October. Find out more about it at lonnelledwardjohnson.com or keep checking Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe.

Open our eyes to re-look

September 14, 2018

Many times when looking for specific information located in a particular file on your device, you may “Providentially” come across something that ministers to you in a special yet unexpected way. Such was the case when I located a poem written years ago that I had not discussed nor posted. It opens with a statement from Chuck Pierce that I am calling the Quote of the Day for September 14, 2018:

“What the Lord is saying to us as we enter this season is: “’RE-LOOK!”

That statement became the inspiration for this response:

“Open your eyes. Look again, re-perceive.”

What the Lord is saying to us as we enter this season is: “RE-LOOK!”
Chuck Pierce

And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.
And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.
Luke 24:30-31

God says “Open your eyes. Look again, re-perceive.”
This time look at yourselves from a fresh vantage point.
He will refresh with loving kindness and anoint.
Look unto Him: Do not doubt but only believe.
We must reset our will to be in alignment
To see the truth and maintain the right attitude.
With a pure heart overflowing with gratitude,
We serve God and prepare for our new assignment.
Even in troubled times God has always been there.
As we commune with Him, blinded eyes receive new sight.
The Lord is our salvation. The Lord is our light.
With renewed strength we rest in hope and not despair.
As we complete our course, we look again and see
What was once a test is now our testimony.

In thinking about God’s desire for His people to “see” with fresh eyes and to be enlightened anew, I recall a previous blog entry discussing our request that God will open our eyes, as we echo the sentiments of the Psalmist in Psalm 119:18:

Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.

We find a corresponding command from the Lord who offers this exhortation in Jeremiah 33:2-3 (AMP):

“Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it—the Lord is His name, ‘Call to Me and I will answer you, and tell you [and even show you] great and mighty things, [things which have been confined and hidden], which you do not know and understand and cannot distinguish.’

Most providentially, we find another expression of God’s desire that our eyes might perceive what God desires us to see in Ephesians 1:18 (KJV)

The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,

In actuality verse 18 is part of a prayer, an expression of God’s desire for His people written by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 1: 14-23. Verses 17-18 are part of the introduction, as indicated in the Amplified Bible:

17 [For I always pray to] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him,
18 By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones),

The passage from Ephesians 1, along with the previously cited verses, brings to mind the words of the hymn “Open My Eyes that I Might See” which is, in essence, a similar prayer expressed in song. The lyrics to the hymn are displayed while Nathanael Provis plays the melody on piano:

Not only is our prayer to God like that expressed in Psalm 119:18 and Jeremiah 33:3: that God will enlighten us and illuminate our lives, but we also recognize that God’s prayer for us is the same: that by means of the spirit of wisdom and revelation, that the eyes of our heart may be flooded with light, as is expressed so powerfully in Ephesians 1.

We close with a musical rendering of the prayer from Ephesians 1:18-23:

Open our eyes to re-look

September 14, 2018

Many times when looking for specific information located in a particular file on your device, you may “Providentially” come across something that ministers to you in a special yet unexpected way. Such was the case when I located a poem written years ago that I had not discussed nor posted. It opens with a statement from Chuck Pierce that I am calling the Quote of the Day for September 14, 2018:

“What the Lord is saying to us as we enter this season is: “’RE-LOOK!”

That statement became the inspiration for this response:

“Open your eyes. Look again, re-perceive.”

What the Lord is saying to us as we enter this season is: “RE-LOOK!”
Chuck Pierce

And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.
And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.
Luke 24:30-31

God says “Open your eyes. Look again, re-perceive.”
This time look at yourselves from a fresh vantage point.
He will refresh with loving kindness and anoint.
Look unto Him: Do not doubt but only believe.
We must reset our will to be in alignment
To see the truth and maintain the right attitude.
With a pure heart overflowing with gratitude,
We serve God and prepare for our new assignment.
Even in troubled times God has always been there.
As we commune with Him, blinded eyes receive new sight.
The Lord is our salvation. The Lord is our light.
With renewed strength we rest in hope and not despair.
As we complete our course, we look again and see
What was once a test is now our testimony.

In thinking about God’s desire for His people to “see” with fresh eyes and to be enlightened anew, I recall a previous blog entry discussing our request that God will open our eyes, as we echo the sentiments of the Psalmist in Psalm 119:18:

Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.

We find a corresponding command from the Lord who offers this exhortation in Jeremiah 33:2-3 (AMP):

“Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it—the Lord is His name, ‘Call to Me and I will answer you, and tell you [and even show you] great and mighty things, [things which have been confined and hidden], which you do not know and understand and cannot distinguish.’

Most providentially, we find another expression of God’s desire that our eyes might perceive what God desires us to see in Ephesians 1:18 (KJV)

The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,

In actuality verse 18 is part of a prayer, an expression of God’s desire for His people written by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 1: 14-23. Verses 17-18 are part of the introduction, as indicated in the Amplified Bible:

17 [For I always pray to] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him,
18 By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones),

The passage from Ephesians 1, along with the previously cited verses, brings to mind the words of the hymn “Open My Eyes that I Might See” which is, in essence, a similar prayer expressed in song. The lyrics to the hymn are displayed while Nathanael Provis plays the melody on piano:

Not only is our prayer to God like that expressed in Psalm 119:18 and Jeremiah 33:3: that God will enlighten us and illuminate our lives, but we also recognize that God’s prayer for us is the same: that by means of the spirit of wisdom and revelation, that the eyes of our heart may be flooded with light, as is expressed so powerfully in Ephesians 1.

We close with a musical rendering of the prayer from Ephesians 1:18-23:

             

Hurricane Florence: The eye of the storm

September 12, 2018

The eye of the storm captured on this photo of Hurricane Florence taken on September 11, 2018

Residents of North Carolina and surrounding areas are bracing themselves for Hurricane Florence, described as what could be “an unprecedented disaster for North Carolina.” The powerful Category 4 storm has been down graded to a Category 2 with winds of 110 miles per hour and is expected to bring with it record-breaking amounts of rain and flooding.

In thinking about the approaching storm, I recall commonly repeated comments regarding the storms of life: As believers, we are either in the midst of a storm or coming out of a storm and preparing to go through another storm. Although I recall hearing the statement in 2005, following Hurricane Katrina, one of the most devastating and destructive storms in recent memory, it certainly has application today. The name of the storm may have changed, and the circumstances may be somewhat different, but this impending life-threatening disaster reminds us of

This Ever-present Truth

For He commands and raises the stormy wind,
which lifts up the waves of the sea.
They mount up to the heavens, they go down again to the depths;
Their soul melts because of trouble.
He calms the storm, so that its waves are still.
Then they are glad because they are quiet;
so He guides them to their desired haven.
Psalm 107:25-26, 29-30

As we navigate through the stages of our lives,
Mild breezes that caress our days are soon transformed
Into wild gales and floods, as one more storm arrives.
Despite this ever-present truth, we are alarmed
And unprepared for life’s torrential winds and rain,
As the raging storm center races toward our shore,
Gathering force and mounting into a hurricane.
We find ourselves near the eye of the storm once more.
The whirlwind soon passes over and leaves behind
Rising flood waters that would overwhelm the soul,
But through prayer and strong faith we know that we shall find
Courage to endure, though each storm exacts its toll.
God prepares us to go through howling gusts and rain,
With strength between storms, ready to go through again.

Even when we find ourselves in the midst of the fiercest hurricane on record, Ryan Stevenson reminds us of the place of trust and confidence where we long to abide: “In the eye of the storm”:

Waiting: Perfecting the art of patience

September 8, 2018

Recently, a colleague, Dr. Hopelyn Brown, posted an intriguing statement on her Facebook page:

“Finish this sentence:
The best things in life are ______.”

Here is my response:

“The best things in life are worth waiting for. You have need of patience, after that you have done the will of the Lord, you might receive the promise.”

My comment brought to mind a previous blog entry that talked about learning to wait on the Lord with patience. I have modified the post and added a new poem at the end.

We begin with a statement from Brian Adams:

“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.”

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!

Note this Biblical definition of patience which has also 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 (behind), i.e. remain; figuratively, to undergo, i.e. bear (trials), have fortitude, to persevere — abide, endure, 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. The New Living Translation offers this rendering containing a familiar phrase that encompasses a character trait most often associated with Job:

11 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 scholars believe the first book written was the Book of Job, 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 being that God is “full of compassion and tender mercy” and that he rewards those who demonstrate “patience.” Although many believe “Patience is its own reward,” God also rewards patience, as so clearly noted in 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 statement that began our discussion also reminds us of that we are currently in a season where patience, a fruit of the Spirit, should be abounding. Not only must we know what season we are in, but we must also know where we are in this season. I recall a teaching series that drew a parallel between our life’s journey as believers and the journey of the Children of Israel into the Promised Land beginning at Gilgal, symbolic place of new beginnings. From there they move on to Jericho onward to Jerusalem, going all the way to Mount Zion, the highest elevation in that beautiful City of God.

As we journey through life, we perfect the art of patience or endurance or perseverance. Associated with this character trait is the idea of “waiting”—steadfastly bearing up under and remaining faithful while waiting. We close with an original poem to capture the essence of where we are and what we are doing in this season.

Waiting in Gilgal

If a man die, shall he live again?
All the days of my appointed time
will I wait, till my change come.

Job 14:14

Waiting in Gilgal. . .

In the midnight harbor, place black as a raven,
Yielded and still in this new place of transition,
Seeking to do God’s will, in ready position,
To be launched from here to our desired haven.

Waiting in Gilgal. . .

Groaning, travailing resounds from this place on earth,
In the birthing room where thoughts rise to the sublime;
Prolonged moments extend toward the fullness of time
Where agony precedes ecstasy in childbirth.

Waiting in Gilgal. . .

To be raised from the tomb, released from the cocoon;
Exhausted, we yearn to escape and touch the sky,
To be freed from these quarters of the butterfly,
Where to be transformed at last can come none too soon.

Waiting in Gilgal. . .

This place demands sacrifice and obedience:
Not like Saul in Gilgal, foolish and immature,
But like Caleb, who with age, had strength to endure,
Fulfilled all God’s will and claimed his inheritance,
Waiting in Gilgal. . .

One of my favorite passages related to waiting on the Lord comes from Isaiah 40:25-31, offered here by Esther Mui:

We explore once more the mystery

September 7, 2018

Colossians-1 28

The Verse of the Day for September 7, 2018 comes from Colossians 1:28, but to comprehend more fully, we need to examine the preceding verses as well where Paul makes reference to the Church, the Body of Christ which is described in a most unusual manner:

Ephesians 1:26-28 (Revised Standard Version):

26 the mystery hidden for ages and generation but now made manifest to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man mature in Christ.

A previous blog entry devoted to this passage from Colossians 1:27-28 mentions the concept of “the mystery” which Dr. Mark Hanby refers to as part of the “progressive revelation of God”—reflected in God’s desire for a dwelling place, displayed in the Tabernacle in the Wilderness (first dimension) leading to Solomon’s Temple (second dimension), and culminating in the Temple of the Living God, the body of Christ (third dimension).

Derived from the Greek word musterion, translated “sacred secret,” the essence of “this mystery” is that Jews and Gentiles would be united in one body, the Body of Christ. The late Morris Cerullo referred to this concept as the greatest miracle since the creation of Adam and Eve.” This “great mystery” was hidden in Christ before the foundations of the Earth.  Had Satan known this mystery or great secret, the Scriptures declare that he never would have crucified the Lord of glory, Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul was the first to receive this revelation, as the context of the Verse of the Day indicates.

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

Ephesians 3:10 (New Living Translation)

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

God’s desire is that members of the Body of Christ, both individually and corporately, might know and apprehend more fully the meaning of the mystery of the one body. Because Jesus Christ broke down the middle wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles, we can now see what others could not see. Moses in the Wilderness glimpsed the backside of the glory of God from the cleft of the rock. Even then, the presence of the glory of God was so brilliant that a veil or covering had to be placed over his face when he spoke to the Children of Israel.

In the Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, the Queen of Sheba also glimpsed the backside of the glory of God from the Court of the Gentiles. Such a glance overwhelmed her, leaving her speechless. In contrast, the believers today are members of the Body of Christ described in this unique way:

2 Corinthians 3:18 (New Living Translation):

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

Another synonym for mystery is “secret counse,l” used to describe “mystery of His will” used in Ephesians 1:9, one of the verses to introduce this poetic reflection

The Mystery of His Will        

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and  

knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments,

and his ways past finding out!

Romans 11:33

 

Having made known unto us the mystery of his will,

according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 

Ephesians 1:9

 

Though we seek to plummet the depths of God’s wisdom,

We barely touch the surface, for there is always more

To explore as He unfolds the mysteries of the Kingdom:

A measure of our inheritance laid in store.

It is the glory of God to conceal a thing,

But the honor of kings is to search out a matter,

To see what jewels of knowledge their searching may bring.

Beyond former days is the glory of the latter,

Where God freely pours out His spirit upon all flesh.

As His will unfolds, we too see just how close we are.

He draws us even closer to bless and refresh,

As we know Him intimately, not from afar.

In such treasured moments we are quiet and still,

As we explore once more the mystery of His will.

Now that the great secret is no longer a mystery, we can share the riches of the glory of this mystery which is Christ in you and me, the hope of glory”:

We close as Charlie LeBlanc offers this musical reminder that it’s “Christ in You!” (Hosanna! Music)”:

 

I thank God for you

August 30, 2018

 

The last day in August is a special day for a number of reasons. It is the prelude to Labor Day and the celebration of the end of the summer marked by family outings, mini-vacations, and other celebrations. It is another “doubly lovely” day for my wife and me since we were married on August 31, as we celebrate another year of God’s blessings upon our marriage. Such occasions often inspire a poetic work, and here is an expression of my thoughts this year:

I Thank God for You

For my beloved Brenda
In celebration of our 45th anniversary
August 31, 2018

I thank God for you.

With gratitude to God, who hears and answers prayer,
We reflect and rejoice, aware of His constant care.
Forty-five years flow: multiples of amazing grace,
Unfailing love so strong, not even time can erase.

I thank God for you.

We look upon the beauty of the precious sapphire,
To remind us of the spark that first kindled desire.
As Christ loved the Church, willing to sacrifice his life,
So I renew my promise to serve my beloved wife.

I thank God for you.

 

Through each valley, plateau, climbing to a grand mountain view

We offer praise to God, our Father, who makes all things new.

God speaks to confirm His promise He will honor us:

All things work together according to His purpose.

 

I thank God for you.

   Photo taken during our first year of marriage.

Brenda and I have a number of songs that mean so much to us. One of our all-time favorite songs dates back to the beginning of our friendship and marriage: “You Make Me Feel Brand New” by the Stylistics:

Brenda and I have been so blessed with a loving family: our daughters Melissa and her husband William and our grandson Kingston; Angela and her husband Shajuan along with an extended family and a host of friends and acquaintances who continue to enrich our lives. We are grateful to God for all who have extended their love and blessings to us during this time of celebration.

Call on the name of the Lord

August 24, 2018

The Verse of the Day for July 24, 2018 comes from Psalm 116:1-2 in the Revised Standard Version:

[Thanksgiving for Recovery from Illness] I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my supplications. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.

The Psalmist acknowledges his love for the Lord who heard him when he called upon His name. Because the Lord “inclined his ear unto” the one who called upon Him, the caller will continue to call as long as he lives.

Verse 4 reiterates the same:

Then I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I beseech thee, save my life!”

This declaration continues elsewhere in Psalm 116: 13, 17:

I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord,

In addition to these references, other verses also remind us to call upon the name of the Lord:
1 Chronicles 16:8 and Psalm 105:1

Give thanks unto the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people.

We find a similar exhortation in

Isaiah 12:3-5 (RSV):

3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

4 And you will say in that day:
“Give thanks to the LORD,
call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the nations,
proclaim that his name is exalted.
5 “Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously;
let this be known in all the earth.

In the Old Testament we find reference to a coming day when those who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved, as Acts 2:21 reveals:

And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Romans 10:13 expresses the same views:

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Throughout the Scriptures we see that believers are encouraged to call upon the name of the Lord. Note this invitation extended in Jeremiah 33:2-3 (NIV):

“This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name:
‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’

One of the most often quotes passages from Jeremiah relates a promise given by God to Israel in Jeremiah 29:11-13, a passage that applies to Christians today as well:

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Recently I came across a series of five poetic stanzas written twelve years ago during a time when I called upon the name of the Lord in light of references to some of the specific names of the Lord:

I call upon Jehovah Jireh, who provides

Even in times of famine in a barren land,

With more than enough you continue to lead and guide.

You uphold and supply with your gracious right hand.

 

I call upon Jehovah Rophe, the Lord who heals

Diseases through the power of life-giving blood.

Whole in spirit, soul and body, your word reveals

That you will work all things together for my good.

 

I call upon Jehovah Nissi, the Lord our banner.

Descending in favor to bless, the gentle dove,

A sign to remind us of your gracious manner,

That your presence remains a canopy of love.

 

I call upon the name of the Lord, Jehovah Shalom,

Who dispels doubt and fear and surrounds me in peace.

As you lead us into battle, let your Kingdom come.

We plant and water but you alone give the increase.

 

When I have grown weary in the struggle at length,

In my distress I call on the name of the Lord.

I rejoice in knowing He shall renew my strength,

For He is faithful, as I stand upon His Word.

The Verse of the Day as an expression of thanksgiving for recovery from an illness seems custom-crafted for me today. I am in final stages of publishing my book which expresses my gratitude to God for my recovery from a potentially devastating illness.

When diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2000, I did not see the diagnosis as “a death sentence,” but I saw a “life sentence” that transformed his thinking. I share lessons learned from this life-changing process, revealing my holistic strategy to combat prostate cancer to show how I emerged, not just as a survivor but more than a conqueror.

Be sure to check out Lonnell E. Johnson’s

Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs

The book should be available to the public in Mid-October. I will keep you posted.

We close with this song of worship reminding us to “Call upon the Name of the Lord”: