Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Reflections on Black History: Seventy years ago

February 22, 2021
My class photo taken in the third grade 70 years ago reminds me of a desire to “make history” during the celebration of what was then Negro History Week. Times and the name have changed, but the desire still burns brightly.


As the celebration of Black History Month continues to unfold, I recall an event occurring 70 years ago to the date on February 22, 1951, when I was eight years old in the 3rd grade at Roosevelt School, an all-black school in Gary, Indiana where I was born. I have been reflecting while looking at my class picture and noticing the bulletin board in the back of the classroom decorated with these words: “Negro History Week.” Since that time, the celebration and recognition of the contribution of African Americans have been expanded to Black History Month.

The bulletin board in the picture reminded me that at that time I consciously determined that I would someday “make history” and do something significant as an African American. Back in the day, it was expressed this way: “I wanted to be a credit to the Negro Race.”

Over the past seven decades, I continue to strive to make that desire a reality. In 2019 during a book signing and presentation during Black History Month 2019, I shared from my newly published book Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Transform Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs. I also reflected upon the significance of Black History and related some of the events transpiring in my life since that class photo was taken.

I went on to graduate as Valedictorian of Froebel High School, class of 1960 and enrolled as a pharmacy student at Purdue University from 1960-1965, becoming the first African American to graduate from Purdue’s five-year pharmacy program. During my time as a pharmacy student, I was also introduced to Black poetry and would later discover my passion to teach and to write poetry.

Upon graduation from Purdue, I took the state board examination and passed to become a registered pharmacist in Indiana. My first full-time job was as a hospital pharmacist at Methodist Hospital in Gary, Indiana. I was enjoying the good life until I received “Greeting from Uncle Sam” and I was drafted into the US Army in 1967, in the midst of the Viet Nam conflict. That two-year stint I describe as my “Lemonade Experience” in that what I thought would have been the worst thing that could have ever happened turned out providentially to be far better than I could have ever imagined. While I was a pharmacy instructor at the Medical Field Service School in San Antonio at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, I discovered the joys of classroom teaching and writing poetry, passions that continue to burn.

During my stint in the military from 1967-1969, I also rode the crest of the Jesus Movement, a national revival impacting the lives of countless young people and others. I experienced a powerful conversion that introduced me to the transforming power of God through receiving the Holy Spirit and studying the Bible.

Twenty years later in 1981, I enrolled in the Ph.D. program at Indiana University, pursuing a doctorate in English with a minor of Afro-American Studies. I completed my dissertation in 1986 entitled “Portrait of the Bondslave in the Bible: Slavery and Freedom in the Works of Four Afro-American Poets.” Of those four early Black poets discussed, I first heard of three of them as a freshman at Purdue in 1961.

As I reflect upon my life, I acknowledge that I have been blessed to enjoy the overflow of God’s goodness and grace. Today, I am a Vietnam veteran and cancer survivor of more than 20 years. In addition, I am a former registered pharmacist, a published poet and a writer, a retired professor of African American Literature, who continues to teach because “I love the teacher’s task and find my richest prize in minds that open and in eyes that ask.”

Just as I made up my mind in elementary school that I would someday make a significant contribution as an African American and someday do something to “make history,” I am sure that others now living and those who come after me also have a similar burning aspiration to “make history.” So often we think of history as people and events of the past; however, we must remember the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said, “The reader of history must replace the words ‘there’ and ‘then’ with the words ‘here’ and ‘now.’”

I close my sharing with an original poem shared during the opening session of a New Testament History Class that I taught in 1976 at a Bible college in Kansas when I knew that I was destined to teach on the collegiate level. That class and countless other events confirmed my desire someday to make history.

The Living Gallery of the New Testament

In the living gallery of the New Testament is reserved a special space
An empty canvas awaits each feature of your face.
Each of us paints a self-portrait in the minutest detail.
To develop your life’s masterpiece, you can never fail
When you follow Christ’s example, the Master of the Word,
Beholding as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord
Each day abounds with potential for matchless artistry.
Now is your golden moment—you are making “His Story.”

I close with this related song “History” by Maverick City Music



To come up smelling like a rose: what does it really mean?

February 10, 2021
To come up smelling like a rose: What does that commonly heard expression really mean from a spiritual perspective?

On February 10, 2021, instead of looking at the Verse of the Day, we are going to take a look at a common expression as the “Quote of the Day”:

“To come out/up smelling like a rose”

The Merriam Webster dictionary offers this definition:

“to have success or good fortune in a situation in which one was likely to fail, be harmed, etc.”

The Cambridge Dictionary has this to say about the expression:

“to have people believe that you are good and honest after a difficult situation that could have made you seem bad or dishonest”

I thought of all that Jesus Christ endured through his death, burial, and triumphant resurrection. Here is the account recorded in Colossians 2:12-15 (Amplified Bible):

12 having been buried with Him in baptism and raised with Him [to a new life] through [your] faith in the working of God, [as displayed] when He raised Christ from the dead.
13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh (worldliness, manner of life), God made you alive together with Christ, having [freely] forgiven us all our sins,
14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of legal demands [which were in force] against us and which were hostile to us. And this certificate He has set aside and completely removed by nailing it to the cross.
15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities [those supernatural forces of evil operating against us], He made a public example of them [exhibiting them as captives in His triumphal procession], having triumphed over them through the cross.

This passage inspired this poetic response:

Having. . .Having. . .Having. . .Having. . .Having. . .He made. . . 

Having forgiven all trespasses against us:
For every time we tried but failed and missed the mark,
When our flesh faltered, we received new strength within.
Christ, the Lord, washed and cleansed us from the stain of sin.
God made us to be lights that overcome the dark.
He set us free to sing on the wing, as a lark,
Having forgiven all trespasses against us.

Having wiped out the handwriting of ordinances:
The hand that records each failure to keep the Law
Graciously blots out each shortfall and each mistake
And releases us from the penalty, for Christ’s sake.
Through the eyes of love, He looked beyond what He saw
To decree that flesh should not be a fatal flaw,
Having wiped out the handwriting of ordinances.

Having taken it far from us, out of the way:
Guilt and shame removed and replaced with righteousness,
Transformed and fashioned with a new identity,
We stand in His presence, revealing the mystery.
Hurled and buried in the sea of forgetfulness,
The curse of sin has been replaced with blessedness,
Having taken it far from us, out of the way.

Having nailed it to the cross as a bold display,
Turning into triumph what seemed to be disgrace,
Symbolic sign displaying both shame and glory,
Dramatic unfolding of the greatest story.
To show his love for all, Christ took our place
To flaunt the victory right in the enemy’s face,
Having nailed it to the cross as a bold display.

Having disarmed principalities and powers,
Our triumphant warrior defeated every foe,
Crushing at once the head of the deadly serpent
To achieve our victory to the fullest extent.
To perform the greater works of Christ as we grow,
God enlightens and empowers that we might know,
Having disarmed principalities and powers.

He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
Coming attractions describe the Spectacular
Super-conquering show:
The captor has been made captive, a prisoner without parole
in his own prison,
The accuser of brethren, once idolized,
now the source of derision,
Stripped, crippled, toppled, and trampled
To be brought ever so low,
A foretaste of the day when every tongue shall confess
And every knee shall bow.
He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

Yes, indeed, we recognize and celebrate all that Jesus Christ went through when he endured the cross, despising the shame, and now he is seated in heavenly places at the right hand of the throne of God. As believers, we are also seated with him, having triumphed over sin, sickness, and even death itself.

The expression “smelling like a rose” also reminds us that gardeners recommend fertilizing roses in early spring to prepare for a bountiful, fragrant display of floral gardens that delight the eyes and please the noses of those who pass by. Ingredients in some of the fertilizers include manure, compost, and fish emulsions that may give off an unpleasant scent when applied, but as these elements are absorbed, the foul smell is replaced with a sweet-smelling fragrance. Indeed, we come up smelling like a rose in every situation that appears to be negative and designed to defeat us.

2 Corinthians 2:14 (New Living Translation) reminds us

But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume.

Michael W. Smith’s powerful song of worship refers to a rose to illustrate that Jesus Christ rose triumphantly “Above it All”:

Despite wintry predictions, Spring is still coming!

February 3, 2021

According to tradition, on Groundhog Day, February 2, if the furry critter sees his shadow and emerges from his burrow, we are in store for 6 more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t and retreats into his dwelling, the weather forecast is for milder weather in the interim. Since 1886 the celebration of Groundhog Day on a grand scale has been associated with western Pennsylvania, home of the legendary Punxsutawney Phil, the famed rodent. As it turned out, Punxsutawney Phil did behold his shadow this year, indicating a forecast of 6 more weeks of cold weather although other groundhogs around the world provided opposing predictions of a short winter.

This past weekend, a winter storm, Orlena, swept through the Midwest on her way to the East coast, leaving 4-6 inches of ice and snow in her aftermath. As I was glancing out my window, I was grateful to be safe and warm inside. I also thought of the familiar expression, “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?’ I smiled as I thought, maybe it’s going to be an early spring this year, reminding myself. . . “Spring is coming.” These words caused me to remember my acting debut in the second grade in the basement of St. Timothy Community Church in Gary, Indiana when I played “Robin Redbreast with my red sweater and brown paper wings that I flapped vigorously as I ran across the stage proclaiming, “Spring is coming! Spring is coming! Spring is coming!”

A few years ago, my daughter, Melissa, sent me a card with the “Easter Legend of the Robin” on the cover:

A little grey robin, as he was flying to the Holy Land, saw Christ hanging on the cross. His heart filled with sadness. He noticed the crown of thorns the soldiers placed on the crucified Savior. The small bird, forgetting his timidity, flew down to remove a thorn from the brow of Christ. As he did so, a drop of Christ’s blood stained the little bird’s breast. The robin, through his act of love, earned the red badge of courage.

From this time forth, all robins have had redbreasts as reminders that one of them was kind to the Lord. Thus, the robin is truly the harbinger of spring. He welcomes Easter with his cheerful note of hope, reminding us that from death comes life.

In reflecting upon my acting debut, I composed a new song that I sing when I see robins returning in winter:

Red Robin, Red Robin—Harbinger of Spring,
Rear back with your redbreast
And sing, sing, sing.

Here is an original poem that offers a comforting reminder that although we may be in the midst of harsh winter weather that also symbolizes a dead time, a horrific season where hundreds of thousands of people have died due to the Coronavirus and other factors, we are waiting, anticipating. . .

Until Spring

So, when this corruptible has put on incorruption,
and this mortal has put on immortality,
then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written,
“Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death,
where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?

I Corinthians 15:54-55

Death, the enemy, no one can deny,
Snuffs out our candles in devious ways,
For each man must learn to number his days,
Although the soul still probes to fathom why.
The mind made numb with pain can only try
To make sense of the immense ache that stays.
The answer sounds since Adam but still dismays:
It is appointed unto man once to die.
Though grief surrounds us, comfort can be shown.
The sun melts frost with new life as surely
As blossoms will flourish from seeds once sown.
Until Spring, on tiptoe, we yearn to see
The day when we shall know as we are known,
When death is swallowed up in victory.

To round out this discussion is a magnificent rendering of Steven Curtis Chapman’s exquisite musical composition, a reminder that, indeed, “Spring is coming.”

Not my cooling board. . .not my winding-sheet:

January 23, 2021

Today, as I stepped out of the shower, and thanked God once again that I could take a shower on my own and that no one had to bathe me. As I was rejoicing and expressing my gratitude, I had a flashback of an experience occurring while growing up in a small Black church in mid-town Gary, Indiana in the 1950s. On countless Sunday mornings, the congregation gathered between the end of Sunday School and the actual opening of the morning service, and I recall that a dark-skinned deacon, whose name I can’t remember, would rise to lead the church in prayer. Beginning with familiar expressions of gratitude to God, the elder church official began with a prelude, slowly mounting in intensity before ending with a grand crescendo to lead the people of God to the Throne of God.

After a time, a couple of my buddies and I memorized the opening lines, snickering to ourselves as we bowed our heads repeating the familiar refrain that went something like this:

“Lord, thank you that the four walls of my room was not my grave, that my bed was not my cooling board, and my cover was not my winding-sheet.” I knew from context what the deacon meant, but I later learned that in African American culture a cooling board is a board used to present a dead body. According to definitions.net, “In winter months it would be difficult to bury the dead due to the earth being frozen, so the body was wrapped and propped in a barn until the ground thawed out.”

I learned the meaning of the term “winding-sheet” in graduate school while working on my doctorate with a minor in Afro-American Studies. I was introduced to a powerful short story, “Like a Winding Sheet,” by Ann Petry, a Harlem Renaissance author with whom I had something in common. We were both Black writers who were pharmacists. Because of my exposure to African American literature, I learned the meaning of this term used in the deacon’s prayer.

In my daily time of prayer, I give thanks to God for another day that I am alive and well and “clothed in my right mind,” another phrase from the deacon’s prayer. Having been diagnosed with prostate cancer more than twenty years ago, I have come to understand on the deepest personal level exactly what the good deacon was saying in his prayer that was repeated on Sunday mornings across the land back in the day. In reflecting on my childhood experience, I was moved to tears and inspired to write this psalm of praise to God:

Lord, thank you for my soul.

That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent.

O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.

Psalm 30:12 (AMP)

Lord, thank you for my soul. My God, you are so kind.
I woke up this morning sleeping in my own bed,         
Another day you clothed me in my right mind,       
Not wrapped in a winding-sheet but in your love instead.

If it had not been for you, I could have been dead,
Laid out on a cooling board, but one more time you remind
Me you are God of the living just as Jesus said.
Lord, thank you for my soul. My God, you are so kind.

Lord, you healed my body and gave me a sound mind.
You are my healer, and I believe what you said.
What you loose in heaven, no power on earth can bind.
I woke up this morning sleeping in my own bed.

You showed when you raised Jesus out from among the dead
The spirit of the living God cannot be confined.
Lord, I trust you—you alone know what lies ahead:
Another day you clothed me in my right mind,

Before you touched my soul, I was deaf, dumb, and blind.
After all I’ve been through, Lord knows I should have been dead,
But one more day you kept me clothed in my right mind,
Not wrapped in a winding-sheet but in your love instead.

From the soles of my feet to the crown of my head,
My total healing from the Lord is what is I find.
Yes, I can still pray, thank you for the presence of mind.
Lord, thank you for my soul.

I discovered this recording by Donny Hathaway, “Thank You, Master, for My Soul” where he mentions the familiar phrases I discussed and makes sidebar comments, “Y’all don’t know what I’m talking about.” I chuckled and fought back the tears, saying “Oh, yes I do!” Listen and reflect with gratitude with me.

Good News Day—Break it Down–What the Scriptures Say

January 2, 2021

 This is the day the LORD has made;
 we will rejoice and be glad in it.
 Psalm 118:24

As the New Year unfolds, I remind myself that I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but I resolve that each day will hold “Good News!” I often recite the original poem “Good News Day” on birthdays and other occasions of celebration. I recall sharing the poem on my birthday when I happened to be part of a Bible study taught by Thamo Naidoo from South Africa. After hearing my joyful recitation, he remarked. “This isn’t just a nice poem, but it’s a prophetic declaration from the Lord.” Years later, I thought about his comment, and I decided to look at the poem more closely. Today’s blog post examines some Scriptural references that come to mind as we examine the poem line by line:

It’s a good news day

The title brings to mind the account of the four leprous men who entered the camp of the enemy and made a remarkable discovery:

8 When the men with leprosy arrived at the edge of the camp, they went into one tent after another, eating and drinking wine; and they carried off silver and gold and clothing and hid it. 9 Finally, they said to each other, “This is not right. This is a day of good news, and we aren’t sharing it with anyone! If we wait until morning, some calamity will certainly fall upon us. Come on, let’s go back and tell the people at the palace.”

no blues day

Psalm 30:11 (AMP)

You have turned my mourning into dancing for me; You have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
I have also composed some originals related psalms: “No Mo Blues” and “Little Boy’s Blues” which reiterate the same message.

new shoes

This line makes me think of “Parable of the Prodigal Son” the source of inspiration for “Homecoming” another original poem “Homecoming.” Here is a reference:

Luke 15:22 (KJV)

But the father said to his servants, bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:

no way to lose

2 Corinthians 2:14 (AMPC) reinforces the same message:

But thanks be to God, Who in Christ always leads us in triumph [as trophies of Christ’s victory] and through us spreads and makes evident the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere,

What a good news day!

It’s a great day

Psalm 42:8 (NLT)

But each day the LORD pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life.
I have also composed a number of original songs from a collection: “Songs in the Night Sung in the Morning”

I can’t wait day!

We look forward to each new day with great expectations:

Romans 10:11 (AMP):

For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM [whoever adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Him] WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED [in his expectations].”

lift your voice

let’s rejoice

Philippians 4:4 (AMP) reminds us of this reality:

4 Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, take pleasure in Him]; again, I will say, rejoice!
Rejoice in the Lord, always, and again, I say rejoice

Good God, a good news day!

Here are verses to remind us that we serve a “Good God!”:

Psalm 34:8 (NKJV)

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

Lamentations 3:25

The LORD is good to those who wait [confidently] for Him, To those who seek Him [on the authority of God’s word].

It’s a payday

For those who serve the Lord, every day is a payday:

Psalm 68:19 (NKJV)

Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits, The God of our salvation! Selah

I often encourage believers to make every day a “Pay Day.” Although that’s sweet, I’m not talking about a candy bar. To illustrate what I mean by “get paid every day,” I often recite “Barter” by Sara Teasdale. Here is a definition of the verb barter: to exchange (goods or services) for other goods or services without using money.

Isaiah 55:1 expresses the same sentiments:

“Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink— even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk— it’s all free!

goin my way day
no nay–all yea
what you say

When it comes to the promises of God, there is not yes and no, but this verse clarifies the matter:

2 Corinthians 2:20 (AMP):

For as many as are the promises of God, in Christ, they are [all answered] “Yes.” So, through Him, we say our “Amen” to the glory of God.

Such a good news day!

It’s a live it up day
overflowin cup day

This line brings to mind one of the most recognized lines from Psalm 23:

Psalm 23:5 (NLT):

You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.

It’s a bright and bubbly
doubly lovely

This line refers to our gracious, beneficent Father:

Isaiah 62:7

Instead of your [former] shame, you will have a double portion; And instead of humiliation, your people will shout for joy over their portion. Therefore, in their land they will possess double [what they had forfeited]; Everlasting joy will be theirs.

Show-nuff good news day!

 Mandisa offers a musical summary of  the celebratory poem with “Good News”

There may be other scriptures that come to mind when you hear “Good News Day. If you would be so kind, share them in the comments below, and may each day of 2021 be

‘. . . a bright and bubbly,
Doubly lovely,
Show-nuff good news day!’

A Rose for all seasons: Celebrating 93 years

December 22, 2020

Today, December 22, 2020, is another “Good News Day,” as we celebrate the 93rd birthday of a wonderful woman, my mother-in-law, Rosa Lee Williams, affectionately called, “Grandma Rosa.” Here is a special tribute to this special lady, our West Virginia Rose:

For Rosa Lee Williams
in celebration of her ninety-third birthday
December 22, 2020

A Rose for All Seasons

The wilderness and the solitary place
shall be glad for them, and the desert
shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.

Isaiah 35:1

We glorify the Lord for all He has done
And express our gratitude for countless reasons.
We praise God for the flowers, for each one,
For a Rose that grows in beauty, a Rose for all seasons.

When blossoms first open and birds begin to sing
And the voice of the turtledove is heard once more,
As the Rose of Sharon heralds the coming of Spring,
So, we glimpse our future to see what God has in store.

The hot, hazy summer days all too swiftly pass,
As our minds try to recall each beautiful scene.
Fleeting times of this season revolve and encompass
The last Rose of summer with leaves of deepest green.

A Rose in autumn offers a lesson we can learn:
We see that the budding Rose never stays the same.
Life is ever-changing, as leaves begin to turn.
At all times, we bless the Lord and praise His name.

Though slowly, a Rose still grows, even in winter.
As a new day is dawning, we look ahead
And seek to do God’s will, to abide in the center,
To follow the Lord wherever our paths have led.

We want to be enlightened, and everyone wants to know
The secret to longevity; we desire to know this:
In our garden a precious Rose still blossoms and grows:
Our Rose for all seasons, reminds us once more—“God is!”

Whiter than snow: What do you mean?

December 17, 2020

This morning, I awoke and opened the blinds to see the residual effect of the first snow since we moved to Northern Virginia more than a year ago. A snowstorm swept through much of the area, depositing more than a foot of snow in some parts of the state. Even though it may accumulate in seeming excess, the silent splendor of falling snow is a glorious sight that reminds us that God has made everything beautiful in its time. As I looked upon the crystal beauty of the landscape, I thought of Isaiah 1:18, a verse that mentions a series of similes, or comparisons using “like” or “as” that describe contrasting views of sin and allude to the purifying process of repentance:

Isaiah 1:18 (NLT)

“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.

According to notes from Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible,

The rabbis say that when the lot was taken to select a scapegoat as a sacrifice a scarlet thread was bound on the scapegoat’s head, and after the high priest had confessed his and the people’s sins over it, the fillet [A narrow strip of ribbon or similar material] became white: the miracle ceased, according to them, forty years before the destruction of Jerusalem, that is, exactly when Jesus Christ was crucified. . . . Hebrew for “scarlet” radically means double-dyed. . . .

We recognize that without repentance there is no remission of sin. With repentance, however, sins can become “white as snow,” and “white as wool,” that is, restored to an original un-dyed state of whiteness.

There is a grand wonder in winter, as such scenes unfold in breath-taking splendor, to remind us of the soul-cleansing power of the blood of Jesus Christ which came to mind and inspired this poetic description:

Frosted Wood Scene

“Come now, and let us reason together, says the LORD,
though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
Isaiah 1:18


The stark nakedness
of the dark bark
blooms with crystal leaves.
Where death once reigned,
blossoms now flourish,
even as grace
did much more abound
and flower as
graceful almond trees.

I stand enraptured,
surrounded by
the fragile beauty
of the landscape
etched in a fuller
white than any
angel’s bright raiment.

The frosted wood scene
shows God’s design
to cleanse and make whole
the soul of man
that he might surely
know the pure love
that cleanses, covers
whiter than snow,
Lord, whiter than snow.

We close with another contemporary song of praise: “Whiter than the Snow”

Even deeper: Enhancing our relationship with the Lord

December 10, 2020

This morning as I began my time of meditation and prayer, I thought of words of encouragement spoken to those age 50 and older in our church, Grace Covenant Church, Chantilly, VA. Minister Michelle Jones exhorted the believers present on a Zoom call to go deeper in our relationship with the Lord and with His Word. We are living in tumultuous times, as we all are facing blinding rain and Hurricane-force winds that seek to toss us about and overwhelm our souls. In the midst of it all, God is calling believers to a deeper relationship with Him.

During this period of unprecedented upheaval where everything that can be shaken is being shaken, Psalm 42:7 (NIV) comes to mind:

Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.

Timothy Jemly, comments on this verse in his book, God’s Submarines: Go below the waves of stress, anxiety, and heartbreak using these simple tools to deepen your relationship with God.


“God dwells in the depths, and He has put within us a deep longing that cries out for Him; under all of our busyness is a longing for stillness of the deep.”


He goes on to explain:

“The last part of the verse says, “Your waves and breakers have passed over me.” That carries a different connotation than being tossed by the waves. If they sweep over you, then you are below them

The United States Navy tells its submarine captains that in the event of approaching hurricanes, they are to head for the nearest spot where they can dive into the depths. Why? Because even in the biggest hurricanes, things are calm down in the depths.”

I express my heart’s desire for even greater intimacy, for a relationship that is

Even Deeper

More intimate than friend or kin or wife
Is close-knit love God weaves within my life.

Lonnell E. Johnson

I have learned to value the foremost relationship
That transcends the deep affections of a loving wife,
Beyond Hebron, the place of our closest kinship,
Even above the heights of our most cherished friendship,
For, this relationship impacts all facets of life.
Above all else, this I know: God loves me–I love Him.
I vow to honor and obey as long as I live.
I will admonish and encourage and be strengthened.
All the borders of my heart I promise to lengthen.
I will not harbor resentment but willingly forgive.
My faith in the true and living God may it increase.
Even in the midst of strife, I sow seeds of peace.
Striving to maintain this primary relationship
Builds even deeper levels of intimate worship.

As we are blessed to close out another year, our hearts overflow with gratitude to God whose loving-kindness and tender mercy have brought us thus far along the way. We look ahead with even greater vision, knowing that the New Year holds blessings beyond anything we could ever ask or think, as we strengthen our relationship with the Lord who calls us to go even deeper.

We close with a moving song of worship: “Deep Calls unto Deep”:

Hold your peace and trust in the Lord

December 8, 2020

This morning during my time of prayer, I noticed the verse sent to those praying for Carolina College of Biblical Studies this week, one of my favorite verses related to abiding in the peace of God as we trust in the Lord, Isaiah 26:3 in the Amplified Bible. However, to appreciate more fully what the verse reveals about trust, we need to examine the following verse as well, a familiar reference that also speaks about the individual who trusts in God:

Isaiah 26:3-4 (NLT):

3 You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.
4 So trust in the Lord (commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him) forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock [the Rock of Ages].

Psalm 56:1-4: in the New Living Translation also speaks of trusting in the Lord. This particular passage offers great comfort, as a reservoir of strength and encouragement:

1 O God, have mercy on me,
for people are hounding me.
My foes attack me all day long.
2 I am constantly hounded by those who slander me,
and many are boldly attacking me.
3 But when I am afraid,
I will put my trust in you.
4 I praise God for what he has promised.
I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?
What can mere mortals do to me?

Verses 9-11 also reiterate the Psalmist’s determination to trust God:

9 My enemies will retreat when I call to you for help.
This I know: God is on my side!
10 I praise God for what he has promised;
yes, I praise the LORD for what he has promised.
11 I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?

The Word of God speaks to each believer to learn to trust in the Lord, as you renew your mind and

Hold Your Peace

So, shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.

Isaiah 59:19

The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.

Exodus 14:14

These days when the enemy enters as a flood
With distress and intense pressure on every side,
Despite signs of defeat, the Lord God is still good.
In the thick of battle, in peace, we will abide.
The Spirit of the Lord raises a bold standard:
Lord of Hosts bears His arm, as Jehovah Nissi
Covers us with His love; though foes may have slandered,
His royal banner is displayed for us to see:
Faithful Adonai has never slept nor slumbered.
He is not slack but hastens to perform His Word.
Despite outward signs, we are never outnumbered,
For we know that the battle belongs to the Lord.
On the battlefield, fierce attacks seem only to increase,
But as God told Moses, “Stand still and hold your peace!”

As we walk by faith and learn to trust God more than ever before, we recall two acronyms to remind us of the meaning of T-R-U-S-T:

We proclaim that we will maintain a

Triumphant attitude” with
Rugged determination” and
Unswerving commitment,” as we further develop
Strengthened believing” and
Tremendous confidence”

We are also learning to T-R-U-S-T:

Taking Risks Under Stressful Times.

Even as David encouraged himself in the Lord in Psalm 56 and throughout the Psalms, so we too encourage ourselves, as we trust God with all our heart and do not lean to our own understanding but acknowledge Him in all our ways, knowing that He will direct our paths.

We close with a song of trust written and performed by Gary Oliver: “I will trust in you.” The lyrics refer to Isaiah 26:4 which reinforces the comforting and reassuring message God will keep us in a state of perfect peace as we trust Him. As a result, we should trust in the Lord God forever, for He is the everlasting Rock of Ages:

Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, every day is Thanksliving Day

November 26, 2020


We are in the “Thanksgiving season,” with an almost automatic association with turkey and dressing, cranberries, and pumpkin pie (or sweet potato pie, depending upon your ethnic tastes). For Christians, however, thanksgiving is more than a holiday observed the fourth Thursday in November. Actually, “Thanksgiving” is always appropriate. “Thanksgiving” is the reason, not only for this season, but “thanksgiving” should be the reason for every season, even in the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic, especially during these unprecedented times of uncertainty.

When I use the term “thanksgiving,” I look at the word in its most literal sense, meaning “to give thanks” or “to show one’s self grateful.” It is an expression of gratitude, a form of prayer specified in I Timothy which speaks of “requests, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving. . . .

As a Christian believer, expressing thanks to God for His grace and goodness should never be confined to a single period of time. God desires that we show ourselves grateful at all times. Scriptures remind us of this truth in a number of places:

Colossians 3:17

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

A similar reminder is found in Ephesians 5:20:

Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Word of God reveals that the giving of thanks is to be more than an occasional act of gratitude; it is to be an ongoing part of our lives.

Philippians 4:6

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Perhaps the most dramatic reminder to live in continuous thanksgiving is found in I Thessalonians 5:18:

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ.

Every situation offers an opportunity to be thankful, no matter how bright or bleak life may be. We can always find something to be thankful for something, if for nothing more than that we are alive or that our situation could be worse. We can begin by thanking God that we are alive and then adding to the long list of blessings we are enjoying at that moment. Each time we set our minds to be thankful, we are doing the will of God, the innermost desire of every believer.

We desire to do more than merely occasionally expressing how grateful we are, but we desire to maintain a continual “attitude of gratitude,” which some have called “thanksliving.” The essence of our attitude of endless gratitude is expressed in this poem:

Thanksliving

What shall we render to the Lord for all
His grace? What can we say to offer praise
Worthy of His glory? How can we call
With all our being upon His name and raise
A new song from the depths of our heart?
We must do more than mouth a platitude–
To express our soul in words is an art;
Yet words cannot express our gratitude.
Our words are empty and without merit.
“Thank you” too soon becomes a hollow phrase.
So, we must worship God with our spirit
And must give thanks well for all of our days.
To live is to give thanks with tongue and limb.
With each breath, each move, let us live thanks to Him.

Beyond merely saying “thank you” to God, more than simply tithing or sharing of our abundance or giving of our time or material goods, thanksliving is a way of life, expressing gratitude to God in everything we say and do. It is more than the arrival of Friday (TGIF), for which the workaday world thanks God. We must show how grateful we are with all of our being, “Thank God, it’s Sunday through Saturday.” As we do so, we counteract the negative effects of “stinkin’ thinkin’”: thoughts of disappointment, discouragement, despair, and any other toxic emotions that seek to keep us from being all that God designed us to be.

We close with a music video described as the best Thanksgiving song ever, expressing the power of gratitude, praise, worship, and adoration: