Archive for the ‘Black history’ Category

Love, honor, forgive one another

May 24, 2014

 

Romans 12 10

10 Love one another with brotherly affection [as members of one family], giving precedence and showing honor to one another. Amplified Bible

Here is a video reminder of this verse

The Verse of the Day for May 24, 2014 incorporates two of the seven principles for achieving successful relationships. Developed by Apostle Carolyn Warren of Equip U Ministries, these valuable, practical principles can be universally applied to “launch, challenge, and grow relationships.”

Each of the seven principles is expressed as a verb that connotes action when specifically applied in terms of what should be done to “one another,” a phrase that is used 31 times in the Scriptures.

1)      Love

2)     Honor

3)     Forgive

Love one another:

Love is an essential element of life. Jesus Christ is the model, the standard of love who offered this reminder:

John 13:34-35

 I give you a new commandment: that you should love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another.

35 By this shall all [men] know that you are My disciples, if you love one another [if you keep on showing love among yourselves].

Honor one another:

To honor means to place value on, respect, to place esteem upon, to esteem. The word also means “to prefer—to go before, to lead, to be intentional.” Clearly, this is the essence of the latter part of Romans 12:10

Apostle John Tetsola comments, “Honor produces an exchange, in that when we give honor, we receive honor in return.” He elaborated upon this principle by stating that associated with honor is the “process of welcoming the person you honor in your heart, whereby you celebrate their anointing and receive the individual with gladness.” He calls this the “process of acceptance” which we apply when we honor one another.

Song writer Jimmy Scott sings a composition “To Honor You,” a tribute to the memory of a loved one.

Forgive one another

In actuality, a third principle—that is—to forgive one another is incorporated in the first part of the Verse of the Day which encourages us to “love one another.”   An aspect of love is giving. Literally to forgive means to “give for.” You give to those who choose not to give. It has been said that you can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving. John Oxenham reminds us of this truth:

Love ever lives, outlives forgives,

And while it stands with open hands it lives,

For this is love’s prerogative:

To give and give and give.

You actually could keep adding “and give” to last line ad infinitum. For such love expresses endless giving.

And so the Verse of the Day encompasses not only the exhortation to love and honor one another but also by implication to forgive one another.

Spoken word poet, Amena Brown reads selections from Romans 12, from The Voice, a new Bible translation, from which the Verse of the Day was taken.

There is no pit so deep. . .

September 8, 2013

There is no pit so deep

At times in life, we may feel like we are sinking into a horrible pit, as we become bogged down in a quagmire of despair and hopelessness. No matter how hard we try to carry out the will of God, many times we seem to be slipping and sinking further into the pits of life.

Jeremiah 38:1-28 gives the account of the prophet Jeremiah who because of his prophetic word for Judah was thrown into a pit. We must remember, however, that God sent someone to rescue Jeremiah, who was literally thrown into a slimy pit, but he was rescued by Ebed-Melech, an Ethiopian, whose name literally means “servant of the king,” who served as  an official in the court of Zedekiah, king of Judah, during the time when Jerusalem was under siege by the Babylonians.  I make reference to feeling like Jeremiah in one of my poems when I recall an occasion when I called out to God, and He rescued me:

In A Place Called Gilgal

In a place called Gilgal, here I gather twelve stones

From the pit, like Jeremiah snatched from this place

Of disgrace, grief unspeakable, in a moment

Of time, calling from the depths of despair, waiting.

Midnight and sunrise, may I always remember

And cherish these bittersweet memories in my heart:

I stood naked before Him, waiting to be changed.

In His presence I am revived, and I am changed;

From the pit of despair, taken to a new place.

For I make Jesus Lord and believe in my heart.

I walk with Him in power, moment by moment.

Others may forget, but I choose to remember

The promises fulfilled after long years of waiting.

 

I express similar feeling in the lyrics to another original song:

Like Jeremiah, from the depths of the pit,

You brought me out of the miry clay.

My feet had almost slipped, but you set me on solid rock to stay.

You put a new song in mouth,

Even praise to our God.

Many shall see and hear

And shall fear the name of our God.

Many shall turn their hearts to the Lord on that day.

You brought me up.

You pulled me out.

You put a new song in my mouth.

You brought me up.

You pulled me out.

And I will praise You.  And I will bless you.

And I will glorify Your name.

I will raise my voice in praise all of my days.

A couple of days ago, I read a commentary regarding Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsy, who were imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps because they helped Jews to escape in Holland. They found themselves in a horrible situation, in a deep pit, and Betsy’s last words before she died spoke of hope, even in a most difficult situation. Corrie ten Boom, was later rescued and gave her testimony of the amazing power of God’s love that sustained her over the years of her life. Betsy said these words which became the opening line and the title of the following poem:

“There is no pit so deep. . . ”

“There is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still.”

 Betsy ten Boom

 

He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock,
and established my steps.

 Psalm 40:2                           

“There is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still.”

In times of turmoil and deep distress we rest until

We see that God’s Word comes to pass, for we have no doubt

That He will again deliver us and bring us out

With renewed strength to climb an even steeper hill.

We are assured that every promise God will fulfill.

When we are exhausted, God will refresh and refill.

No matter how severe the problem we thought about,

“There is no pit so deep. . .”

Despite our best efforts, at times life goes all downhill.

In times of despair we seek courage and strength to instill,

As we persevere to triumph along this treacherous route.

Rooted and grounded, we are no longer tossed about.

We remember these words as we strive to fulfill God’s will:

“There is no pit so deep. . .”

As I was growing up, I recall the song “He Brought Me Out” performed here as a congregational hymn from the Church of God.

I would like to close this blog entry with my personal testimony expressed poetically which touches upon a similar theme of being lifted out of a horrible situation:

Why Don’t Somebody Help Me Praise the Lord?

            Psalm 107

When I was down so low

it looked like up to me,

You broke those heavy chains

and gave me sweet liberty.

Why Don’t Somebody Help Me Praise the Lord?

 

When I was so big and bad,

tryin to be my own man,

You opened my blinded eyes

and then showed me Your master plan.

Why Don’t Somebody Help Me Praise the Lord?

I was headin straight to hell,

And I was goin in grand style

But you picked me up, turnt me round,

And you caused me to think awhile.

Why Don’t Somebody Help Me Praise the Lord?

Stumblin down the road of life,

I was wastin all my youth,

Then took a right turn to Jesus Christ;

Now I’m walkin the path of truth.

Why Don’t Somebody Help Me Praise the Lord?

You couldn’t tell me nothin

bout nothin I hadn’t seen or heard,

Then I ran right smackdab into

the power of God’s matchless Word.

Why Don’t Somebody Help Me Praise the Lord?

 

With lovin arms you reach way down

And snatched me from Satan’s outhouse,

Sought me and flat-out rescued me,

Fixed me up in my Father’s house.

Why Don’t Somebody Help Me Praise the Lord?

For mighty peace like a river

washin away confusion and strife,

What can I give you in return?

Yes, Sir, I’ll give you back my life.

Why Don’t Somebody Help Me Praise the Lord?

In recalling this particular poem, I also think of one of the most beloved hymns of all times “Love Lifted Me” with its most memorable opening stanza and chorus:

I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore,
Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more,
But the Master of the sea, heard my despairing cry,
From the waters lifted me, now safe am I.

Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help
Love lifted me!

This version of the classic hymn performed by Bill and Gloria Gaither, featuring Kim Hooper, is a most appropriate way to close this blog entry.

Celebrating my birthday: Recalling the first and most recent “occasional” poetry

June 17, 2013

June 17

As an “occasional” poet, meaning that I have been known to pen a poem or two from time to time, as well as being someone who writes poetry for specific occasions. One such occasion that generally inspires me to write a poem is my birthday. Today is my birthday, and as I began my day in reflecting with great gratitude over the past 71 years, I happened to recall the first occasional poem that I wrote, even before I ever acknowledged and accepted the poet’s calling.  My twenty-first birthday seemed a noteworthy occasion worth commenting on, and so I wrote a few lines which I entitled “Upon Turning Twenty-one,” a title that suggests a work of much grander proportions than my feeble first efforts might indicate.  Two years ago, I posted a blog entry written in celebration of my birthday, making reference to my first “occasional poem.” Here is a link to that particular entry:

https://drlej.wordpress.com/tag/the-great-adventure/

Today, in celebration of my birthday, I composed a new poem in which I refer to that first poem and several other compositions written over the years. I trust that you will read, reflect, and appreciate the sentiment that I express as a poet rooted in the Bible, writing from a Christian perspective

 

Poet Laureate

Reflections on my 71st birthday

June 17, 2013

 

The breath of the Spirit stirred my passion to create

With words to commemorate “Upon Turning Twenty-one”

My calling as so-called “self-appointed poet laureate:”

Before God even spoke, the work was already done.

He knew I would seek to be all He called me to be.

A son of Issachar, I inquire what does it mean

To stand at this time and place: “This Year of My Jubilee”

“Upon Turning Seventy-one” today in 2013.

“Young man, you’re born for luck,” I heard a wise woman say.

Happy, blessed, and fortunate is the man in the first Psalm.

The blessings of the Lord have abounded all along the way,

As I flourish in the courts of God as a fruitful palm.

The grace of God still abounds these three score years and ten plus one

I assess my life with gratitude “When All is Said and Done.”

 

 

Thoughts about the 4th Day of Creation on January 4

January 4, 2012

On the 4th day of the first month in the New Year, which began on a Sunday, I happened to think of the 4th day of creation.  Biblical scholar and prolific writer, E.W. Bullinger, discusses various aspects of the number 4 in his book Number in Scripture: Its Supernatural Design and Spiritual Significance:

Now the number four is made up of three and one (3+1=4), and it denotes, therefore, and marks that which follows the revelation of God in the Trinity, namely, His creative works. He is known by the things that are seen. Hence the written revelation commences with the words, “In-the-beginning God CREATED.” Creation is therefore the next thing—the fourth thing, and the number four always has reference to all that is created. It is emphatically the number of Creation; of man in his relation to the world as created. . . .

The fourth day saw the material creation finished (for on the fifth and sixth days it was only the furnishing and peopling of the earth with living creatures). The sun, moon, and stars completed the work, and they were to give light upon the earth which had been created, and to rule over the day and over the night

Genesis 1:14-19.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. God made two great lights – the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning – the fourth day.

Johnson and Johnson

This painting by Aaron Douglas accompanied “The Creation” in James Weldon Johnson’s God’s Trombones: 7 Negro Sermons in Verse.

Renowned African American poet, James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938), offers a vivid description of Genesis in “The Creation” taken from God’’s Trombones, 7 Negro Sermons in Verse, one of his most celebrated works. This opening excerpt describes the fourth day:

 And God stepped out on space,
And He looked around and said,
“I’m lonely —
I’ll make me a world.”

And far as the eye of God could see
Darkness covered everything,
Blacker than a hundred midnights
Down in a cypress swamp.

Then God smiled,
And the light broke,
And the darkness rolled up on one side,
And the light stood shining on the other,
And God said, “That’s good!”

Then God reached out and took the light in His hands,
And God rolled the light around in His hands
Until He made the sun;
And He set that sun a-blazing in the heavens.
And the light that was left from making the sun
God gathered it up in a shining ball
And flung it against the darkness,
Spangling the night with the moon and stars.
Then down between
The darkness and the light
He hurled the world;
And God said, “That’s good!”

For a powerful rendition of the entire poem recited by Wintley Phipps, click below.

As a practicing poet, I have been notably influenced by James Weldon Johnson, with whom I have a number of things in common. In addition to being poets with the same last name, we have both taught literature at historically Black institutions, and both of us have been involved in careers outside of teaching, but most remarkably we both share the same birthday, June 17. I am not exactly sure what all of this meaning. That is perhaps the topic of another conversation.

This photo taken from the Hubble Telescope displays some of the “galaxies of countless stars.”

A few years ago I recall reading about newly discovered rings around Saturn and other phenomena in outer space that caused me to see and appreciate the magnitude of the creative power of God in a new way. This information is staggering in light of the demonstrated power of God manifested through the Spoken Word of God recorded in Genesis where the account of the fourth day indicates, “And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. . .” Then almost as a modest aside, we learn that “He made the stars also”:  All the starry hosts with its millions upon millions of stars God made, each of which He numbered and called by name.  That particular passage from Genesis inspired the following poem:

“. . . He Made the Stars Also”

 Genesis 1:16

Seventy thousand million million million stars

Ten times more than grains of sand that cover the earth;

Galaxies that span far beyond Saturn and Mars:

Each star formed and fashioned and called by name at birth.

Ten times more than grains of sand that cover the earth;

Sparkling the night with lights, God made the stars also.

Each star formed and fashioned and called by name at birth.

The heavens declare God’s glory that men might know.

Sparkling the night with lights, God made the stars also:

Witness to Abraham of what was yet to be.

The heavens declare God’s glory that men might know.

As the stars and grains of sand, so shall your seed be.

All creation unified by a single bond.

Galaxies that span far beyond Saturn and Mars

Express the breadth of God’s love, reaching far beyond

Seventy thousand million million million stars.

On the fourth day of the New Year, I happened to think of the 4th day of Creation and thought I would share my thoughts in this blog.

Brand new look, brand new name but motive remains the same

March 3, 2011

Although my  Wordpress Blog has a brand new look, along with a brand new name, my motive, however, remains the same: I am “still compounding after the art of the apothecary. . . filling prescriptions to minister to the heart and soul.”

Recently I retrieved a journal entry that appeared to be a poetic response to a set of scriptures read during a particular time of prayer and fasting.

Day 25  April 13  Isaiah 10:26-27; I John 2:20; Isaiah 9:1-4

The anointing that breaks every yoke flows freely,

Released within me to slip past the enemy;

Anointed anew with oil compounded by me,

After the fine art of the apothecary.

The four-line stanza or quatrain with the same ending rhyme and metrical pattern makes reference to being “anointed anew,” a characteristic that I trust my “new” blog reflects. At the time of the journal entry, I recall a number of messages, personal prophetic words, and other references to “a new anointing”, the inspiration behind this poem with that title:

 A New Anointing

 But my horn you have exalted

like a wild ox; I have been

anointed with fresh oil.

Psalm 92:10

 

I am still overwhelmed, utterly astounded

When I recall all the Lord has done as I stand

In this place of grace where sin had once abounded.

Yielded and still, I submit to all that He has planned,

As I receive a new anointing compounded

Still after the art of the apothecary.

Fragrant  blessings caress all that I do and say,

 As I touch the realm of the extraordinary.

 I must walk in wisdom and not be confounded

 By devilish devices that distract and dismay.

 I look to God who shall bless and refresh my soul,

 As He pours this precious ointment upon my head

 That I might be sanctified, preserved and made whole

 And trade sorrow for the oil of gladness instead.

 Trusting in God’s will is never disappointing,

 As I receive from on high this new anointing.

 

Recently in a presentation celebrating Black History Month, I paid tribute to Jupiter Hammon, the first person of African descent to publish a poem in colonial America, recognizing that this year is the Tri-Centennial of his birth. I commented upon Hammon’s poetry which is inspired by the Bible and borne out of a personal salvation experience. I also shared that my introduction to Hammon, one of four African American poets whom I discussed in my doctoral dissertation, occurred when I was freshman pharmacy student at Purdue University back in 1961. Most remarkably I knew that I wanted to become a pharmacist when I was 15 years old, and I “prophesied to myself” that I would go to Purdue and major in pharmacy, the first time that I set foot on the campus. I enrolled in what would become the first graduating class of the newly implemented five-year pharmacy program at Purdue.

After graduation I passed the state board examination and became a registered pharmacist in Indiana. For more than 25 years, I practiced the profession in Indiana, Washington, DC and North Carolina. Although I have not been involved in pharmacy as a career since 1994, I have come to recognize the spiritual parallel of my initial profession: “first in the natural, then in the spirit . . .”  I have since come to know this reality in the lines of this particular poem, one of my heart songs. You might say it is the signature piece for this new blog that I have renamed “Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe.” I invite you to stop by and see what remedies I have been working on recently, as I continue to compound: 

 After the Art of the Apothecary                                 

 And thou shalt make it an oil of holy ointment,

an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary:

it shall be an holy anointing oil.

Exodus 30:25 [KJV]

  

I desire to follow recipes and not to vary

From the prescribed formulas for the remedies I need,

 To compound after the art of the apothecary.

 

I long to work circumspectly and always be wary,

 To measure and mix precisely for love and not for greed.

I desire to follow recipes and not to vary.

 

I recall yearning to learn from childhood days in Gary,

 To weigh my decisions and follow as the Lord would lead,

To compound after the art of the apothecary.

 

I seek to formulate my ideal art and to marry

Vocation and avocation as one of love and need.

I desire to follow recipes and not to vary.

 

I attempt to move with wisdom but never to tarry

To master each prescription, to excel and to succeed,

To compound after the art of the apothecary.

 

The sweet smelling savor I desire my life to carry

Is the pure, holy anointing oil tempered of my need.

I desire to follow recipes and not to vary,

 To compound after the art of the apothecary. 

In earlier times doctors were surgeons, eye doctors, dentist, psychologists, and general practitioners. Doctors diagnosed patients, prescribed medicine and then filled their own prescriptions in the front part of the shop.  Such may have been the case in this photo of an apothecary shop in Charleston, SC around 1790. Such also may be the case, spiritually speaking, with Dr. J in his “new” apothecary shop.

Inside an historic apothecary shop

National Aviation Month: A Local Color Story

November 19, 2009

Another first for the city of Columbus: Lonnie Corman takes flight in plane that he built.

Photo is personal property of Yvette Corman Davis.

November is National Aviation Month, and as Christian Spirituality Examiner for Columbus, Ohio, I was preparing an article in celebration of the occasion but with an African American focus. I have a friend whose father was among the noted Tuskegee Airmen, and the thought occurred that I could pay tribute to those distinguished pioneers in aviation. I also thought of Bessie Coleman and her role as one of the pioneers in terms of women in flight. As I was going to continue working on the article, my wife mentioned that I should talk with a friend of hers, an attorney whose grandfather not only built an airplane but he flew it himself back in the 1920s. Upon talking with her, she shared with me more information regarding her grandfather, Lonnie Carmon, who was recognized as the first Black aviator in Columbus, Ohio. She later sent me the text from a tribute she had completed on her website along with photos that she had also incorporated. Quite providentially I extracted from the information and compiled a slide show as well from the photos and completed an article which may be of interest as we celebrate National Aviation Month. Here is the web address:

http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-20264-Columbus-Christian-Spirituality-Examiner~y2009m11d18-Lonnie-Carmon-Columbus-Ohios-first-black-aviator

Lonnell Johnson/Dr. J