Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Happy Birthday My Sweet Lady

October 9, 2021

Birthdays are wonderful times of celebration, and today, October 8, 2021, is a special time of celebration for a special lady, Brenda Joyce, the wife of my youth in whom I rejoice. In thinking about my beloved Brenda, I recall these words composed for

My Sweet Lady

My Sweet Lady, much more than treasured fruit of the vine,

We both prayed, then we met by God’s divine design.

He has truly guided our lives by His own right hand,

Leading us here far beyond all that we could have planned.

As we reflect upon our lives, we now understand.

God said that you would meet me; you asked Him for a sign.

We were wed: Our hearts knit together; our hearts entwine.

Seeking to do God’s will, we traveled across the land,

My Sweet Lady. 

The deepest meaning of love we still seek to define. 

You are my Beloved; I am yours and you are mine.  

Despite the fiercest storms, we continue to withstand

And celebrate this life that continues to be grand.

I cherish you, my love, more than the mellowest wine,

My Sweet Lady.

I love you, BJ

Prostate Cancer Awareness Month 2021

September 19, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Embracing Your Life Sentence–
More than a Conqueror


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

Romans 8:37 (AMP)


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

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

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

We close with Steven Curtis Chapman reinforcing the message “More than Conquerors”:

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

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

On the 20th Anniversary of 9-11: Remembering Beauty for Ashes

September 11, 2021

On the 20th Anniversary of 9-11, we remember the tragic events of that day, but we also remember the awesome power of God and His amazing grace to restore.

Today, September 11, 2021, marks the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington DC. In addition, the nation pauses to remember the ninth anniversary of the September 11, 2012 attack against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi where four Americans were killed, including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya. On such solemn occasions, we look for rays of hope, like radiant beams of light that penetrate plumes of dust and debris on that fateful day, September 11, 2001. This morning, as we face the devastating consequences of events occurring in Afghanistan, recall this passage from Isaiah 61:3:

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

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

Beauty for Ashes

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

Isaiah 61:3

Beauty for ashes–we are transformed to testify                                                                             

Of lives so radically changed that we might glorify

The God of Heaven who touches the earth with His love

That overflows with bountiful blessings from above.

We are blessed and highly favored–no one can deny.           

That we should be chosen by God some may wonder why,                

But none can fathom God’s grace, no matter how they try.     

Ascend into God’s presence on the wings of a dove:

Beauty for ashes.                                    

Many times it may seem as if life has passed us by,

But God is faithful; on Him we can always rely.           

Nothing in this life surpasses God’s unchanging love;

It is far beyond all that we could ask or think of.          

Remember that God is not a man that He should lie:

Beauty for ashes.        

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

 No Matter How You Phrase It

And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God 

for with God all things are possible 

Mark 10:27

For with God nothing shall be impossible.

Luke 1:37

         

There is none like God who never fails to come through:

Whether you say “With God all things are possible”

Or say “With God nothing shall be impossible.”

No matter how you phrase it, the Word is still true.

As those who observes the times, we wisely surmise

That the Prince of Peace ascended to end all strife,

 Leading captive even death to release new life.

Just as from ashes, beauty and splendor arise,

We boldly declare the Word of God and assert

The Providence of an all-wise Father who makes

Barrenness to bloom with rivers in the desert.

With the Word of Life, even death itself awakes.

We seek to walk in wisdom and number our days,

Humbly discerning that His ways are not our ways.

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

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

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

A special poem for a special lady on our 48th anniversary

August 31, 2021
A photo taken the first year of our marriage in the Washington DC area where we, by God’s Providence, now live.

On August 31, 2021, I begin this special day with a heart overflowing with gratitude to God for my beloved, Brenda Joyce, the wife of my youth, in whom I rejoice. Today is our 48th wedding anniversary, and I celebrate this grand occasion with a special poem for a special lady.

This particular poem is a villanelle, a nineteen-line poem with lines of the opening stanza repeated throughout the poem and in the closing stanza. It also has elements of a Golden Shovel poem where I take another poem where each line or various lines serve as the end words in the new poem. Most remarkably, the new poem was inspired by a poem that wrote for Brenda “Before I Knew You.”

Here is that original poem followed by “An Amethyst Remembrance” which refers to one of the precious stones in the breastplate of the high priest and in the walls in the New Jerusalem. Amethyst is also the stone associated with the 48th anniversary in France and one of Brenda’s favorite colors.

Before I Knew You 

for my beloved Brenda

I thought of you long before I ever knew you.

When through the mist I beheld your lovely face.

Before our two lives touched, my heart reached out to you.

I could not speak your name, yet somehow, I knew you

Would be all I could desire in style and grace.

I thought of you long before I ever knew you.

Alone, I saw the sunset, told myself you too

Needed a dearest friend to share this special place.

Before our two lives touched, my heart reached out to you.

Alone, I passed the time and asked myself who you

Were dreaming of, yet still longing to embrace

I thought of you long before I ever knew you.

I yearned to give my life, to share my soul with you

Who would make me feel whole and fill my empty space.

Before our two lives touched, my heart reached out to you.

God stretched out his hand, and then He gently drew you

To me with a true love that time cannot erase.

I thought of you long before I ever knew you.

Before our two lives touched, my heart reached out to you.

An Amethyst Remembrance                                                              

Variation on a Golden Shovel poem based on “Before I Knew You”
for my beloved Brenda on our 48th Anniversary

Another precious stone–amethyst remembrance

Stone upon Stone: Psalms of Remembrance

You touched my life and filled my heart with love 

I thank God who heard and answered my prayer,          

Beyond all I could have ever thought of.              

You are God’s gift I still stand in awe of.           

I prayed and God brought me to a place where            

You touched my life and filled my heart with love.    

Firm as a rock, yet gentle as a dove                    

Is steadfast love that will always be there,             

Beyond all I could have ever thought of.               

You were my answer from the Lord above.                 

You fulfilled my deep desire to share.                 

You touched my life and filled my heart with love.     

You are the one—”You make me feel brand new.”          

A pure-hearted love such as ours is rare,              

Beyond all I could have ever thought of.               

You know, it’s still true—“If only you knew.”          

You see, I try to show how much I care.                 

You touched my life and filled my heart with love.         

Beyond all I could have ever thought of.              

One one of the lines in the new poem inspired by the first poem mentions a song that continues to be my heart’s song expressed to my Beloved BJ–“If  Only You Knew

Reflecting on the goodness of God on a special day

August 11, 2021
Here is quotation that I use as the motto for every writing class I teach and a statement I apply each day of my life.

As an adjunct professor of English currently starting a new semester at St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh, NC, I share a weekly email devotional with my students. A new semester started today, August 11, 2021, which turns out to be an especially significant day for me. Not only is today, the first day of classes where I teach, but it is also the 47th anniversary of my ordination to the Christian ministry and the 5th birthday of my grandson, Kingston Edward Simkins. All these events intersect in a glorious display of the Providence of God. I am posting this email devotional that represents my life and my ministry.

The devotional opens with a quotation attributed to Saint Jerome:

Good, better, best
Never let it rest
Until your good is better
And your better is best

Professional athletes, such as Tim Duncan and others, use this motto in an athletic context, but we can apply the statement in an academic context as well.

In discussing this inspirational quote, let us look for a moment at the adjective “good” which is derived from “God” who alone is good. Indeed, Jesus Christ said, “There is none good but the Father.” Good is an adjective, and an adjective has a comparative form and a superlative form. When you compare two objects, one is said to be better than the other. If you compare three or more items, one is selected as the best of the group. With God, however, there is no comparative or superlative. No, God has not seen “better” days, and God does not have the “best” day He’s had in a long time in comparison to others. With God every day is a “Good News Day” because “God is good.” Period! Because God is good, “. . . all things work together for the good, to them that love God, to them that are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28—my favorite verse in the whole Bible) So no matter how bad the situation may appear to be, it will work together for the good.

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

To further illustrate the truths of the opening quote, take a look at the video excerpt from “Facing the Giants.” Here we have a coach asking one of his players to “him his best.” That’s really all that anyone can ask of another person. Even so, as the facilitator of this class, that’s all I’m asking of you.


As we strive to apply this inspirational quote to every aspect of our lives, there should be an underlying motivation: that we want to express to God our gratitude for all that He has done for us through Christ Jesus, His Son, the least that we can do is give him our best. Like the coach in “Facing the Giants” that’s all that God is asking of us. This should be our response: “Giving My Best to You, Lord.” as offered by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir:

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.”

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 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.

On Mother’s Day and every day

May 9, 2021

On Mother’s Day

And every day. . .

This is what I say

To my Beloved Brenda,

My Sweet Lady, BJ,

Brenda Joyce

The wife of my youth

In whom I rejoice:

Lyrics from my “boppin’ doowop days”

Still apply today

I hope you remember

Lyrics so tender                                   

And you still see

How much I love you                 

M.T.Y.L.T.T.

(More Than Yesterday Less Than Tomorrow)

On Mother’s Day

And every day. . .

Happy Mother’s Day, My Love