Archive for the ‘Application of Biblical Principles’ Category

July 4, 2021: Learning to live in a state of dependence

July 4, 2021

On July 4, 2021, the Verse of the Day examines Psalm 33:12, but to understand more fully the position of the Lord God Almighty toward the nations of the world, take a look at Psalm 33:10-12 in the Amplified Bible:

The LORD nullifies the counsel of the nations;
He makes the thoughts and plans of the people ineffective.
11
The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
The thoughts and plans of His heart through all generations.
12
Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the nation whose God is the LORD,
The people whom He has chosen as His own inheritance.

On this Fourth of July, when so much that plagues our nation appears beyond our control, we not only celebrate our independence as a nation, but we also recognize more than ever our dependence upon God as well. This original psalm reinforces that same message:

Learning to Live in a State of Dependence

And whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed,

do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and in [dependence upon]

His Person, giving praise to God the Father through Him.

Colossians 3:17 (Amplified Bible)

God’s promises never fail; we know the Word of God is true.                          

We learn to watch, fight, and pray, to be patient as we labor                               

We have no fear but faith for what God says about me and you.        

We taste the fullness of joy that He desires us to savor,            

As He lavishly displays His love with abundant favor.             

God, the righteous judge, avenges those who place their trust in Him          

And assures those who lean on Him He shall in nowise condemn.    

As we seek to keep His command to love God and our neighbor,      

The Word of God goes ahead as a plow to prepare fallow ground,                 

Fertile soil found in hearts that have been made pure with no pretense,

Where the Father’s precious seeds of faith will flourish and abound.

With God, we are learning to live in a state of dependence,

Where we are free to choose to serve, knowing we shall prevail.

Transient trials swiftly pass, but God’s promises never fail.                

During these presently turbulent times, never has there been a greater need for divine guidance and direction for the nation though prayer. The words of the spiritual continue to ring true, declaring, “There is trouble all over this world.” During such times of desperation and deepest need, our nation cries out to God.

O God our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come.
Our shelter from the stormy blast
And our eternal home.

In “History Reflection for 4th of July: How Prayer Underpinned American Independence” Fr. Stephen Lynch, states, “Prayer played an important role in the American struggle for independence.” He goes on to relate a request that the meetings of the Continental Congress be opened with prayer. After considerable disagreement, the Congress agreed to have the Rev. Mr. Duche read a prayer. John Adams describes what transpired:

Accordingly, next morning the Rev. Duche appeared with his Episcopal vestments and read the 85th Psalm. I never saw a greater effect produced upon an audience. It seemed as if heaven had ordained that psalm to be read on that morning.

George Washington was kneeling there, alongside him Patrick Henry, James Madison, and John Hancock. By their side there stood, bowed in reverence, the Puritan patriots of New England, who at that moment had reason to believe that an armed soldiery was wasting their humble households. They prayed fervently for America, for Congress, for the Province of Massachusetts Bay, and especially for the town of Boston [whose port had been closed and in which British troops were being quartered.

Lynch concludes by saying, “The First Continental Congress proved to be an inspiring example of the fraternal unity that can come through devout prayer.” Without question, the need to pray for our nation continues, being mindful of the words of Jesus Christ, who told his disciples “. . . it was necessary for them to pray consistently and never quit.”

Our reflections on the 4th of July conclude, as Michael Card offers this song as a heartfelt prayer for the nation: “Heal our Land”:

Reflections on the Journey—Strengthened for the Journey Ahead

June 23, 2021

Last week as it unfolded into a new week included my 79th birthday on Thursday, June 17 and Father’s Day on June 20. Sometime my birthday occurs on the third Sunday in June, but whether these two occasions coincide or not, this period of time is significant for me, as I reflect with deepest gratitude to God for these two grand occasions. Indeed, I have been in a reflective mood these past few days, and when I look at the Verse of the Day for June 23, 2021, I continue to pause and consider deeply, to “Selah” one of my favorite passages from the Old Testament. Today’s Verse of the Day comes from Isaiah 40:31, but I have committed the entire closing passage to memory because it offers great comfort and assurance, so needed in my life at this time:

Isaiah 40:28-31 (New Living Translation):

28 Have you never heard?
    Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
    No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
29 He gives power to the weak
    and strength to the powerless.
30 Even youths will become weak and tired,
    and young men will fall in exhaustion.
31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint.

In Psalm 103:3-5 (NLT) we find another reference to being renewed like the eagle.

He forgives all my sins
    and heals all my diseases.
He redeems me from death
    and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
He fills my life with good things.
    My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!

These passages also bring to mind the closing verses of Psalm 27, my favorite Psalm:

Psalm 27:13-14

New King James Version (NKJV)

13 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!

Psalm 27:14 also inspired the following original psalm that I recite to myself and share with others:  

Strengthened for the Journey

Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,

and he shall strengthen your heart;

wait, I say, on the LORD!

Psalm 27:14

Let us pause to reflect upon the past,

Not with longing to relive bygone days.

Though some were fine, such moments cannot last

A lifetime. The budding rose never stays

The same but unfolds in lovelier ways.

Let us linger to absorb the essence

Of this moment’s triumph. Another phase

Of growth we note within our lifetime since

We first began the quest toward excellence.

Let us look ahead with vision and strive

Toward greater goals, for each day we commence

To grow toward our perfection, as we thrive.

May we see clearly where our paths have led

And be strengthened for the journey ahead.                                                    

Donnie McClurkin and Karen Clark Sheard offer this comforting advice: “Wait on the Lord.”

Blessed beyond words

June 21, 2021

In reflecting over the past week which included my 79th birthday and Father’s Day, my soul overflows with gratitude to God for innumerable blessings that I continue to enjoy. My immediate family and my spiritual family of brothers and sisters in Christ have been so gracious in expressing their love and warmest regards for my well-being. Although I cannot respond to every good wish on Facebook and comment on blog posts, please know that I am so grateful beyond words.

To say that I am “blessed” is quite the understatement, and the term I use so often has become almost a cliché. The expression “blessed” goes back to the first passage of scripture I ever committed to memory more than 65 years ago, back in the day, in what we called “junior high school.” I remember that Mrs. Little, the local undertaker’s wife, gathered kids from the neighborhood and in an improvised Vacation Bible School, told us to memorize Psalm 1. Although I memorized the First Psalm in the King James Version, here is the translation of one of my favorite psalms in the Amplified Bible:

Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked [following their advice and example],
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit [down to rest] in the seat of scoffers (ridiculers).

But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And on His law [His precepts and teachings] he [habitually] meditates day and night.

And he will be like a tree firmly planted [and fed] by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season;
Its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers [and comes to maturity].


The wicked [those who live in disobedience to God’s law] are not so,
But they are like the chaff [worthless and without substance] which the wind blows away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand [unpunished] in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

For the Lord knows and fully approves the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked shall perish.

The first two verses in the Amplified Bible offer a more comprehensive definition of “blessed” which only begins to describe how I feel today:

Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked [following their advice and example],
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit [down to rest] in the seat of scoffers (ridiculers).

But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And on His law [His precepts and teachings] he [habitually] meditates day and night.

The First Psalm, which I still know by heart, continues to be a source of encouragement and strength and an inspiration, as reflected is this original psalm: 

Talk about a Man

Psalm 1

Talk about a man that show is blessed—I’m the man.

 Talk about a man that show is blessed—I’m the man.

 At first, I couldn’t, but now I see God’s master plan.

To study the Word of Life show is my delight.

To study the Word of Life show is my delight.

I’m all the time thinking about it—day and night.

Planted by the rivers of water, my roots reach deep.

Planted by the rivers of water, my roots reach deep.

By the still waters the Good Shepherd leads his sheep.

In God, all His promises are yes and amen.

In God, all His promises are yes and amen.

I have been so blessed since I can remember when.

The Word of God soothes my soul like a healing balm.

I’m the man they are talking about in that First Psalm.

To close our time of reflection, here is a musical rendering of Psalm 1 offered by the Joel Limpic

Reflections of My Father on Father’s Day 2021

June 20, 2021

Each morning, I arise with a heart overflowing with gratitude to God for being alive to see another day. On Father’s Day, I am especially thankful that I am a father with a loving wife and two beautiful daughters, Melissa and Angela,  and two great sons-in-law, William and Shajuan, and a grandson, Kingston Edward, all of whom have been blessings beyond words. This Father’s Day is special because of one of the special gifts that I received inspired this poetic response, as I thought of my father:

A Good-looking Hat

When my son-in-law asked what I wanted for Father’s Day,

He was wearing one of his signature hats that he wears with

Style and class, and I said, “I want a hat like that.”

And quicker than I could say “Jackie Robinson,” he took note

And made sure I received my request in time for Father’s Day.

As I look into the mirror and try on the Father’s Day gift,

I smile as I remembered my dapper Dad,

Styling and profiling, getting ready for church and other special occasions.

As far as I can remember,  whether summer or winter, Dad always wore a hat,

But Dad didn’t just put a hat on his head. Back in the day, as they would  say,

“He was wearing that hat!”

And so today, as I get ready for church,  I put on my beau chapeau nouveau,

And wear it proudly,  remembering my father, Lonnie Johnson, and I know he would

Have liked it, and I can hear him say, “That’s a good-looking hat. . .

You’re looking good, my son.”

This Father’s Day post also brings to mind another blog entry where I recall something that my father said. Although my father was a man of few words,  on a couple of memorable occasions, he told me, “Son, I’m proud of you.” Every man since Adam has sensed a deep yearning to hear these words or some variation thereof from his father. On one specific occasion occurring around Father’s Day, my dad made a similar comment that inspired this work:

The Perfect Father’s Day Gift

There was a time when I would stretch my mind,

Make a list and try to think of the perfect gift,

As we approached Father’s Day, the third Sunday in June.

Now let me see what will it be?

I know. . . a portable radio. . .

What about a shirt—extra-large—to fit?

Pajamas, house shoes, another Dopp kit?

Each year I would really try, as I resolved:

No more cologne—not another tie!

One year I ran out of ideas, and so I asked,

“Dad, what do you want for Father’s Day?”

He thought awhile and in his own quiet way,

He smiled and had this to say:

“Just between me and you,

Here’s what you can do.

Just keep me proud of you.

Son, just keep me proud of you.”

Now when my daughters ask,

What can they get me for Father’s Day,

I fondly remember, and I smile and say,

“The words of your Grandpa are still true.

As he said to me, so I say to you:

‘Just between me and you,

Here’s what you can do.

Just keep me proud of you.

Girls, just keep me proud of you.”

I continue to thank God for my father and all that he contributed to my success in all areas of my life. I have so many fond memories of my father, and so often this

I continue to thank God for my father and all that he contributed to my success in all areas of my life. I have so many fond memories of my father, and so often this song by Chris Tomlin comes to mind:

Still numbering my days: A birthday celebration

June 17, 2021

Each morning I begin my day with a  time of prayer and meditation, thinking about the goodness of God and His mercy that have brought me thus far along my journey of faith.  Today, June 17, 2021, is especially significant as I celebrate my 78th birthday. My heart overflows with gratitude to God, my gracious heavenly Father, for all that He has done. Many times on such occasions, I compose a psalm of praise to the Lord as an expression of gratitude in celebration of being alive to see another year and to enjoy the bounty of God’s love. Rejoice and celebrate with me as I am

Still Numbering My Days

The days of our lives are seventy years;
And if by reason of strength they are eighty years,
Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow;
For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
11 Who knows the power of Your anger?
For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath.
12 So teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Psalm 90:10-12 (NKJV)

On the brink of the cherished four score years,

If the Lord tarries and if  the Lord will,

I press toward the mark, learning to be still–

Watching, waiting as Christ’s appearing nears,

Yearning to see what Father has in store

Beyond all I could ever think or ask for.

Looking ahead, I cannot hold back the tears.

With more than a portion of health and strength,

I have tasted His boundless love,

Flowing from the heart of the Father above

Beyond the breadth and depth and height and length.

I yearn to hear, “Faithful servant, well done.

Enter in the joy of the Lord, my son,”

On the brink of the cherished four score years.

We close with a musical rendering of the essence of Psalm 90 by Marty Goetz:

A Triptych from Hebrews 6: Take a Look (Panel 3)

June 10, 2021

Today’s blog entry is the third of a series of three poems that form a triptych inspired by Hebrews 6:10-12. OxfordDictionaries.com defines a triptych as, “a set of three associated artistic, literary, or musical works intended to be appreciated together.” WordNet 3.6 provides this definition of triptych art, as “art consisting of a painting or carving (especially an altarpiece) on three panels (usually hinged together).” Here is an example of one panel of a triptych carved from wood with three sections on each leaf. Each of the three poems that form my triptych is also accompanied by commentary and a musical selection related to that work.

ONE LEAF OF A TRIPTYCH IN CATHEDRAL OF SEVILLE

For our discussion of the third panel of our triptych from Hebrews 6, we are going to look at Hebrews 6:12, but 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 oneself 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 verband 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.  It is believed by E.W. Bullinger and other Bible scholars 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 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.

Hebrews 10:36 (AMP) also reinforces the message that patience precedes what one is striving to achieve:

For you have need of patient endurance [to bear up under difficult circumstances without compromising], so that when you have carried out the will of God, you may receive and enjoy to the full what is promised.

Previously, while working on a teaching related to patience, I read about an apple orchard run by “Farmer Johnson” in Washington State, an individual with whom I spiritually identified. Reading about the apples produced by this individual also inspired the following poem which opens with Hebrews 6:12, another reference using “patient endurance” or patience.

Farmer Johnson

Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent.

Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going

to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.

Hebrews 6:12

He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful follower I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.


Lyrics by Joseph H. Gilmore

Farmer Johnson owns orchards in Washington State.
His apples are renowned and said to be the best.
As scriptures remind us to labor and to rest,
This Farmer Johnson is patient and learns to wait
For the bountiful fruit of his harvest season.
Patience now abounds to complete and perfect me,
As I walk by faith, despite all that I may see.
I assess my times and unfold the real reason
For all the trials and seeming setbacks that came.
At times I felt as though being torn asunder
But like Job, I still abide and bear up under.
God yet delivers those who call upon His name.
Committed to go wherever the Lord shall send,
A faithful follower, I endure to the end.

As a youngster I recall singing this hymn “He Leadeth Me” countless times, performed here by the Michael Curb Congregation.

A Triptych from Hebrews 6: Take a look (Panel 2)

June 9, 2021

Today’s blog entry is the second of a series of three poems that form a triptych inspired by Hebrews 6:10-12. OxfordDictionaries.com defines a triptych as, “a set of three associated artistic, literary, or musical works intended to be appreciated together.” WordNet 3.6 provides this definition of triptych art, as “art consisting of a painting or carving (especially an altarpiece) on three panels (usually hinged together).” Here is an example of one panel of a triptych carved from wood with three sections on each leaf. Each of the three poems that form my triptych is also accompanied by commentary and a musical selection related to that work.

ONE LEAF OF A TRIPTYCH IN CATHEDRAL OF SEVILLE

Watchman Nee, early 20th Century church leader and teacher in China, describes the life of each believer in this way—“the Christian journey, from start to finish, is a journey of faith.” As we journey through life, we encounter challenges designed to build our faith. Believers are on a journey that takes us from faith to faith, glory to glory, and victory to victory as we pursue the will of God for our lives.

My life continues to unfold as a journey of faith  with several notable milestones along the way.  At 12 years of age I became a member of Carter Chapel C.M.E (Christian Methodist Episcopal) Church in Gary, Indiana, where I accepted Christ as my savior. The spiritual foundation for my life was laid in that church where I was actively involved throughout elementary and high school. I recall attending a summer camp in Saugatuck, MI as a rising sophomore and volunteering to do a short teaching on youth night. For some reason, I was inspired to share from Hebrews 11 verses one and six, two verses related to faith, the bedrock of my life:

Upon graduation as Valedictorian, Class of 1960 from Froebel High School, I attended Purdue University from 1960-1965, earning a BS Degree in Pharmacy and becoming a Registered Pharmacist in Indiana. In 1967 I was drafted into the U.S. Army during the Vietnam era, as I experienced a close encounter of the most intimate kind with Jesus Christ, my Savior. While serving as a pharmacy instructor at the Medical Field Service School in San Antonio at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, I rode the crest of the Jesus Movement and experienced a powerful conversion that introduced me to the transforming power of God through receiving the Holy Spirit and studying the Bible. During my stint in the military, I discovered the joys of classroom teaching, a passion that continues to burn. I also recognized my poetic inclination and sought to develop the art and craft of the poet.

Here is an original psalm inspired in part by Hebrews 6:11

This Far by Faith

And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence

to the full assurance of hope until the end,      

Hebrews 6:11

 “We have come this far by faith.”      

Traditional Black Gospel Song   

Though we see truth, there is still the rest of the story, 

As we strive to be all that God called us to be,   

Created to be to the praise of His glory, 

We walk by faith and not by what we can see. 

We now rise above to view life from God’s grand scope: 

Each day our faith will increase and not diminish.

With diligence to the full assurance of hope, 

We will complete our course, striving toward the finish.  

A great cloudof witnesses surround us to cheer 

Us on from faith to faith and victory to victory.

The mighty hand of our gracious God brought us here,

For such a time as this—behold our destiny. 

While pressing toward the mark, we must still watch and wait,

As we sing our song, “We have come this far by faith.” 

Growing up in the 1950s in Gary, IN, I have fond musical memories from the “Golden Age of Gospel Music.” One of the most popular songs of this period was “We’ve Come This Far by Faith,” a selection often used as a processional for morning services at countless Black churches across the country. The opening lyrics of the renowned gospel favorite are woven into the tapestry of the poem:

Voices of Hope, a choir from Los Angeles under the direction of Thurston Frazier, offer a rendition of one of the most popular gospel songs of the Fifties and Sixties.

A Triptych from Hebrews 6: Take a look

June 8, 2021

This morning while listening to a YouTube recording of peaceful relaxation music for meditation, one of the accompanying verses arrested my attention and brought to mind three verses from Hebrews 6:10-12. These verses inspired three poems which when connected together form “A Triptych from Hebrews 6.” OxfordDictionaries.com offers this definition of the term “triptych”: “A set of three associated artistic, literary, or musical works intended to be appreciated together.” WordNet 3.6 provides this definition of triptych art, as “art consisting of a painting or carving (especially an altarpiece) on three panels (usually hinged together).” Here is an example taken from the same source: a cathedral door in Seville, Spain.

ONE LEAF OF A TRIPTYCH IN CATHEDRAL OF SEVILLE

Over the next three days, I will feature a blog post inspired by one the verses from Hebrews 6:10-12. The first panel of this collection appeared in a recent blog post, “Each sunrise reminds us God is faithful” Here is an excerpt:

In Hebrews 6:10 (New Living Translation) we find another reminder that God is faithful and that He is not unjust

For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.

As believers we endeavor to serve God and minister to one another. Our efforts may not always be recognized nor appreciated. Those whom we serve in love may not always remember what we say and do, but we are assured that God never forgets. Not only is God, our Father, faithful and just, but He is also a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6), as the following poetic comments illustrate:

A Reminder: God Is Faithful

For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love,

which you have shown toward his name, in that you have ministered

to the saints and do minister.

Hebrews 6:10

All the good deeds you have done may not be extolled

When the fervor of God’s love has long since grown cold.

Some so quickly forget all the good you have done,

And they fail to recall you were the only one

To answer the call, seek the Lord and intercede.

Time after time you were the one to meet the need.

When others were busy and chose to walk away,

You were there and remained in the thick of the fray.

In dark times when words of thanks are distant memories,

Recall our God knows all things, for He alone sees

Your labor and saves every tear you have shed.

Our Father is ever mindful of how you serve,

And He shall reward you beyond all you deserve.

As you strive to finish your course, have no regret:

Our God is faithful–He will never forget.

In reflecting upon God’s faithfulness as expressed in the Word of God, I thought of this medley of two songs that have come to mean so much to me: “He’s Been Faithful” and “Great is Thy Faithfulness” offered by The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir:

To serve is not a dirty word

May 22, 2021

Revised and re-posted, the Verse of the Day for May 22, 2021 comes from Galatians 5:13 in the New Living Translation and highlights the paradox between freedom and servitude:

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.

This verse and other related scriptures bring to mind the idea of the servant or slave who has been set free. In the early 70s or thereabout, I was introduced to the Greek term “doulos”, translated servant or more literally “bondslave,” one of the most misunderstood concepts found in the Scriptures. The portrayal of the servant or slave, as revealed in the Bible has particular significance to me for a number of reasons, aside from my being a descendant of slaves brought from Africa to America.

In 1975, I produced an article “Doulos: A Different View of the Slave.” In 1978, while completing my master’s thesis, I explored the subject in light of Paul’s literary style in the Church Epistles. I went on to complete my Ph.D. in 1986 with a dissertation entitled Portrait of the Bondslave in the Bible: Slavery and Freedom in the Works of Four Afro-American Poets. 

Being a doulos involves a deep commitment to one’s Lord and Master.

The term doulos has become an intricate part of my life since I first learned of the concept of the “bond servant” or “bond slave” back in the early 70s. As used in the Bible, doulos is a metaphor that I have personalized and internalized. I explored the concept in master’s thesis which looked at the literary style of Paul in the Church Epistles, where he opens the Book of Romans with his “calling card”: “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle (note the order).” Beyond its biblical significancethat, the concept is deeply embedded into my soul, in that it has become the essence of who I am, as I attempt to express in this poem:

More Than Metaphor

Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle,

separated to the gospel of God

Romans 1:1

To capture my essence, I strive to find a word,

Phrase, image or mind picture to bring clarity,

To express my deep yearning for intimacy.

Like Paul, my calling card reads: “servant of the Lord.”

Each fiber of my being and each emotion

Pulsates with lifeblood flowing from a servant’s heart.

As I endeavor to learn and live to impart

The joy of serving with pure-hearted devotion,

I pledge to work in voluntary servitude,

As I fix my eyes, looking unto my Lord’s hands,

To heed His Word and to do more than He commands,

To serve with love from a heart filled with gratitude.

Beyond a single concept, more than metaphor

Is this branded bondslave, who embodies “the more.

The basin and towel are symbolic of the essence of servanthood as demonstrated by the Lord Jesus Christ in John 13.

In discussing this topic of the servant or bond slave, an image almost immediately comes to mind: a basin and a towel, representative of one of my favorite passages regarding the ministry of Jesus Christ, who revealed so clearly the heart of a bond servant when he washed the disciples’ feet in the account from John 13. This very moving excerpt inspired another related poem:

Let Me Wash Your Feet

John 13:4-5, 19

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.

One of the ancient practices associated with bond servants in the Bible is the year of the Jubilee, the Old Testament practice whereby the 50th year was a special sabbatical period when Hebrew slaves were released from their obligation of servitude, and they were free to leave their masters and go out on their own. These servants could by their freedom of will choose to serve their masters for the rest of their lives in light of the close relationship they had established. On my 50th birthday, I wrote “This Year of My Jubilee,”  alluding to this Old Testament practice:

This Year of My Jubilee

Exodus 21:1-6

Leviticus 25:1-17

I stand alone, clothed only with the wind

At the end of my seventh sabbath year.

Gathering of blessings now flow through my mind

As the shofar’s call resounds in my ear

To proclaim this year of my jubilee.

I reflect upon the wonders of this grace

Wherein I stand, a bondslave now made free.

In this golden moment as I embrace

The truth and pledge to love as you command,

Pierce my ear–place your brand upon my soul.

Enlighten me so I may understand

That to run to serve is life’s highest goal.

Unfold before me pleasures of your ways

And seal my vows to serve you all my days.

Once more Michael Card has the perfect song entitled “Jubilee” to accompany this poem.

I will conclude this entry by posting a PDF of the original article “Doulos: A Different View of a Slave” which was first published in 1975. Accompanying the article is a letter to  Apostle Thamo Naidoo to whom I sent the original article along with two of the poems posted above: “More Than Metaphor” and “This Year of My Jubilee.” I am grateful to my beloved Brother Lester Wiley Carver, who encouraged me to post the article. I trust that it will minister to all who read it. I welcome any comments or thoughts that this post might have inspired.

Before reading the article, listen to a powerful song written and performed by Dean Ellenwood, who captures the depth of commitment embodied in the individual called of God to be a  bondslave, a true Doulos. 

Doulos

Doulos: A Different View of a Slave

When a believer accepts Jesus Christ as Lord, that individual assumes the position of a “servant” or “bondslave”–a doulos.

Be likeminded: What does that mean?

May 20, 2021

Revised and re-posted below is the Verse of the Day for May 20, 2021,  coming from Romans 15:5-6 in the New Living Translation:

May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Here is the New King James rendering:

Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Here we find a verse that encourages believers to be “likeminded,” but exactly what does that mean?  In addition to its use in Romans 15:5, the phrase is used in Philippians 2:2:

Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord of one mind.

In these two instances the expression is used as a verb derived from a compound word meaning to think, “to be minded in a certain way, attitude, disposition of mind.” The Jubilee Bible translates the phrase “to be unanimous among yourselves.”

The phrase “likeminded,” is also used as an adjective in Philippians 2:20 where Paul describes his relationship with his “spiritual son,” Timothy:

For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.

Here the term is translated from another compound word meaning  “equal souled.”

Verse 6 of Romans 15 exhorts the followers of Christ to be unified with “one mind and with one mouth glorify God. . . .” The one mind that Christians should have is “the mind of Christ” referred to in Philippians 2:5 in the Amplified Bible which offers this reminder:

Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:]

The Scriptures also encourage us to put on the mind of Christ, to put off the old and put on the new. We are not to be conformed to the world, nor should we think as the world thinks, but the Word of God exhorts us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. When we, as believers, keep our minds focused or stayed on the Lord, we are kept in perfect peace. Although we endeavor to remain consistent in our efforts to let this mind be in us which was also in Christ Jesus, our thoughts stray from time to time. This original poem makes known the reality of our sometimes-failing efforts to stay our minds on the Lord:

Mindful

What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?

Psalm 8:4

Although we croon “You were always on my mind,”

We admit that has not been the reality.

Our thoughts may stray down some distant alley, and we find

Ourselves in places where we do not desire to be.

Those times of wandering are fewer than before,

As we are mindful that you are ever mindful,

We strive to abide in your presence more and more.

Your Word, both spoken and written, is remindful

That your passionate thoughts toward all men are constant,

That your thoughts toward us are endlessly good.

You are ever mindful to keep your covenant,

But we must align our thoughts to be as they should.

We want our lives to speak in all we say and do,

So that others see Christ and say, “God is with you.”

Jennifer Jill closes with a musical exhortation of Philippians 2:5-11: “Let this Mind Be in You.”