Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Yom Kippur – Day of Atonement and More in 2020

September 27, 2020

Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) is one of two Jewish High Holy Days. It follows 10 days after the first High Holy Day, Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), on the 10th of Tishri, the Hebrew month corresponding to September-October on the secular calendar. The purpose of Yom Kippur is to bring about reconciliation between people and between individuals and God. Ariela Pelaia notes that this solemn occasion is also the day when God decides the fate of each human being, according to Jewish tradition. The observance of Yom Kippur involves three elements: Teshuvah (Repentance), Prayer, and Fasting.

This year, 2020, The Return, a national and global event occurred on the Mall of the Nation’s Capital in Washington, DC on September 26, the day before Yom Kippur. This event brought 50,000 people together and called for national repentance, prayer, and celebration, marking 40 days before elections on November 3rd. Most remarkably, Yom Kippur 2020 begins on the evening of Sunday, September 27, and ends in the evening on Monday, September 28.

The ten days preceding Yom Kippur are known as the Ten Days of Repentance. As the longest Jewish observance, the service on Yom Kippur begins in the morning and lasts until nightfall. Many prayers are said but one is repeated at intervals throughout the service. Known as Al Khet, this prayer asks for forgiveness for sins that may have been committed during the year. According to Jewish tradition, only offenses committed against God can be forgiven on Yom Kippur. It is thus important that people try to reconcile with others before participating in Yom Kippur services. During this period, Jews are encouraged to seek out anyone whom they may have offended and request forgiveness to begin the New Year with a clean slate.

Colossians 2:16-17 offers this reminder:

Therefore, don’t let anyone judge you in regard to food and drink or in the matter of a festival or a new moon or a sabbath day.
These are a shadow of what was to come; the substance is the Messiah.

As Christians, we may not commemorate Yom Kippur and any of the other holy days in the Jewish tradition, but we can certainly learn and grow in our understanding of their significance. We recognize that whatever things were written before time in the Old Testament, were written for our learning. Certainly, as followers of Christ, we can increase our knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures and our appreciation of our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, whose presence is foreshadowed in the Old Testament and revealed throughout the New.

Here is a crafted Christian Prayer for a Jewish Holy Day

Almighty God—our Father—from everlasting to everlasting you are the same—our Father, the Father of Glory, the Father of Jesus Christ, our Lord, who is Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending, the First and the Last, the author and finisher of our Faith, we praise you and honor you as we humble ourselves before you on Yom Kippur, a solemn fast day, the Day of Atonement, to make atonement before the LORD our God.

God, our Father, the only-wise God, our creator, our maker, who fashioned all things after your will, you have made us and you know us: you know our down-sitting and our uprising; you understand our thoughts from afar. You have searched us and known us, and you are acquainted with all our ways. Despite all of our shortcomings and misdeeds, our sins of omission and sins of commission, you are patient and merciful. Thank you that you have not dealt with us after my sins nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. We praise you that you are forgiving and understanding. We thank you that you forgive us of our sins, even as we forgive those who have sinned against us. We praise you for Jesus Christ, the expression of your love, and your desire that we might be reconciled to you again. He shed His life’s blood upon the altar to make atonement for our souls, for the life of the flesh is in the blood and the precious blood of Jesus, the Savior, who makes atonement for our souls. By his shed blood, we are made one with you, even as Jesus Christ prayed that we might be one with you, even as you and your son were one. We thank you that we are one in you through Jesus Christ, our Lord, in whose name we pray. Amen.

We also declare this Manifesto to Remember

Even though we did not know
We had positioned ourselves in submission
To that good and acceptable and perfect will of God,
Even as Jehovah God had aligned our lives that we might be
In this appointed place at this anointed time on Yom Kippur,
As we end the year, in a solemn reflective way
As the former things have passed away
We behold that indeed, the Lord God in His grace makes all things new,
So, we begin the New Year, as we declare this manifesto
Never to forget but ever remember
In 2020 on the 27th of September.

Tommy Walker reinforces this message with “We Will Remember”

Prostate Cancer Awareness Month 2020

September 5, 2020

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.

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
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 the Rend Collection reinforcing the message “More than Conquerors”:

My book is available through and wherever books are sold and through my website: Check out another tribute to Prostate Cancer Awareness Month on 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.

Celebrating 47 years: To God be the glory

August 31, 2020
This photo was taken in 1973 in Washington DC during our first year of marriage.

Today is a special day that commemorates a special event occurring 47 years ago when my beloved Brenda and I exchanged vows. This anniversary is especially significant in that we have returned to live in Northern Virginia, just beyond the Nation’s Capital where we first met in 1971. Since moving back to the DC area, I have connected with the VA Hospital in the District as a patient where I worked as a staff pharmacist during the first two years of our marriage.

While driving to my first appointment at the oncology clinic, I drove through an area where I had a most remarkable experience that some might call a “prophetic encounter” where I envisioned the “woman of my dreams” whom I would someday meet. That experience occurred in 1970, and I met Brenda in 1971. Subsequently, we were married in 1973. Driving through NW Washington, DC brought to mind this poetic tribute of love inspired by an experience occurring fifty years ago:

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.

When Brenda and I met, we learned that she had been praying to meet the man of her dreams, just as I had been praying to meet the woman of my dreams. This stanza from another original poem “A Place Called Gilgal” reveals:

We each prayed and God answered, as I remember.
Before I knew you, I reached toward you in my heart,
Where I had prepared, set aside a special place.
Until we met, I had been patiently waiting.
Our lives were entwined, and we were forever changed,
As we vowed to walk in God’s love from that moment.

Indeed, our lives have been forever changed. We have been blessed beyond measure with two lovely daughters, Melissa and Angela, and their husbands, two mighty men of valor, William and Shajuan. Most amazingly, today is the first day of school for our first grandson, Kingston. Without question, the blessings of the Lord continue to abound toward us.

I close this entry with this song “You’re the answer to my prayer” by Skip Ewing.

More Good News from Dr. J

July 21, 2020

In my most recent blog post for July 19, 2020, I shared one more reminder encouraging believers: “Do not fear.” The heart of the entry came as an excerpt from Chapter 5 of my book Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs.

When diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2000, I did not see “a death sentence” but a “life sentence” that transformed my thinking. I share his holistic strategy to combat prostate cancer, weaving original poetry, Scripture, and a battle plan that shows how I emerged, not just as a survivor but more than a conqueror.

Here is some good news. My triumphant account has been nominated for a book award through Author Academy Elite in the category of Religious Non-fiction. Selection of the Top Ten finalists will be based, in part, on popular vote.

To support Dr. J and participate in voting, go to, and click on the red link for“2020 Authors Awards.”Using the Blue Arrow at the top, find the Religious Non-Fiction section, (Category 11) then go down and find his book’s cover, Embracing Your Life Sentence: How To Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs, and click on his book to Vote. The Top Ten Finalists in each category will be invited to present their book synopsis at an Author Academy Awards Red Carpet Gala on October 23, 2020, in Columbus, Ohio. The winners will be announced later that evening at the Author Academy Awards Ceremony where they will be invited to give an acceptance speech.

Thanks for your support, and thanks for sharing the Good News.

God has the whole world–even our times–in His hands

June 30, 2020

Recently one of my sons-in-law sent me a YouTube music video of a host of celebrities singing a simple refrain from the Black spiritual “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.’ My wife also sent me a clip of our three-and-a-half-year-old grandson “reading” from his picture book with the same title and singing some of the refrains. The entire experience moved me to tears as I recognized how simple the timeless words are, yet so profound. Once again, God reassures us that He is with us and that He has not forsaken us and that we never need to fear. I also thought of this blog entry which I have revised and re-posted:

As a youngster back in the day in the middle of the 20th Century, I recall elderly adults testifying that we were living in “the last and evil days.” As we continue to move rapidly into the first quarter of the 21st Century, some believers refer to 2 Timothy 3:1 and echo similar views of the times in which we presently live:

2 Timothy 3:1

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:

This verse has also been translated this way in the Amplified Bible:

But understand this, that in the last days dangerous times [of great stress and trouble] will come [difficult days that will be hard to bear].

Other versions of the Bible describe perilous times as “violent periods of time” or “times full of danger.”

The Passion Translation renders the verse:

But you need to be aware that in the final days the culture of society will become extremely fierce and difficult for the people of God.

Without question, the recent events surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic have catapulted the world into a state of anxiety and fearfulness, as the world has been engulfed in wars and rumors of wars, as ethnic conflicts flare up across the nation and around the globe. The world is still seeking “Peace in our times” and continues to cry out for “Peace, peace, but there is no peace.” In the midst of these turbulent times of seemingly endless turmoil and strife, those with spiritual eyes to see observe all that is transpiring as some of “the signs of the times.” Although the present times are stressful and difficult to deal with, we can find strength and comfort in the words of the Psalmist who personalizes his assurance that the Lord God is aware of the times in which David lives and that He will deliver his servant. Note this reference in Psalm 31:15 in the Amplified Bible:

My times are in Your hands;
Rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from those who pursue and persecute me.

Verse 15 is also the inspiration for these original lyrics

My Times Are In Your Hand

There are times in life when I simply don’t understand,
When I cannot see the intricacy of your perfect plan,
When I’m tossed about and full of doubt,
When it seems I just can’t endure,
Your spirit comes beside me,
To comfort and to guide me,
To redirect and reassure,
To help me understand that my times are in your hand.

My times are in your hand.
My times are in your hand.
Your spirit comes beside me,
To comfort and to guide me,
To redirect and reassure,
To help me understand that my times are in your hand.
My times are in your hand.

My times are in your hand.
I submit every vision, each purpose, and plan.
Though I may never fully understand,
I stand secure in knowing my times are in your hand.
It’s so comforting to know
My times are in your hand.
My times are in your hand.

We close as Jason Silver offers “Refuge,” a worship song based on Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16

Father’s Day Reflections: Legacies

June 21, 2020

A photo of my son-in-law, William Simkins III, and my grandson, Kingston Edward Simkins, who embody the expression of “Legacies,” the subject of this Father’s Day Tribute.

As I begin my morning with a time of reflection and giving thanks to God, I realize that today, June 21, 2020, is Father’s Day. I am grateful for my Heavenly Father as well as my earthly father, Lonnie Johnson, who contributed so much to my success. In thinking about him, I recall words from my daughter, Melissa, who paid tribute to her grandfather in her first book Brand Me: Make Your Mark—How to Turn Passion into Profit. In Chapter 7 Pass on the Legacy, she comments on the impact her grandfather had on her life. Here is an excerpt from her thought-provoking discussion:

At the age of five, I had vivid memories of my Grandpa Johnson getting up early Saturday mornings to walk the streets of Gary, Indiana in search of one thing…aluminum cans. He would walk for miles with a trash bag going from corner to corner, house to house, and would even search the grocery store parking lots. Locals knew Mr. Johnson as the “can man.” It seemed a bit peculiar to me during my formative years until later in life when I discovered that this part-time endeavor was for me and my sister. He wanted to help my parents raise funds for college.

My grandfather was a straight A-student but had to drop out of grade school when his family moved to another state. Lonnie Johnson was bright, but he never had the opportunity to complete high school nor enjoy the benefits of a college education because of his family situation. What he lacked in formal education he made up for in his vision for life and his work ethic. Although he experienced many setbacks in life, he never lost his passion for education. He provided financial support for my father and his sister while they earned their undergraduate degrees. Most importantly, he was committed to leaving his mark in the world through creative foresight and vision.

Grandpa’s vision was larger than his lifetime. Picking up those cans represented a dream that in time would become a reality. Even though he knew it may not happen through his personal experience, he was determined that it would happen through his grandchildren. As I grew older, I came to know that Grandpa used every cent from those aluminum cans to establish a college fund for all four of his grandchildren. Although Grandpa is gone now, we all achieved our dream of going to college through the labor of his hands.

Today, I am living my grandfather’s legacy. My passion for education I attribute, in part, to his legacy. He left a financial legacy that has empowered me, my sister, and my two cousins to have access to education that he never experienced. Who is living your legacy?

Melissa’s question reminds me of an original poem composed on Father’s Day 18 years ago. I have since dedicated it to my sons-in-law and countless other brothers:



Faithful and true heroes ever remain
And generate legacies we pass on
To each generation, father to son,
Heart to heart. The light of life left behind
Ever shines to brighten the path of truth,
Raised and then passed on from elder to youth.


Faithful and true heroes ever remain for all
Who hear the mandate and rise to answer God’s call.
Our lives of service are legacies we pass on
To the next generation, from father to son.
With the love of Christ in us, we tear down each wall.

We rally to support a brother should he fall.
Our ears have been pierced with the sharp tip of an awl:
A covenant of blood ever seals our union.
Faithful and true heroes ever remain.

Spiritual athletes excel beyond glove or ball.
They seek to bring out the best, as iron sharpens iron,
Striving to finish strong and pass on the baton.
On the shoulders of our fathers, we now stand tall
To view the future where greater victories are won.
Faithful and true heroes ever remain.

We conclude our Father’s Day tribute with Nichole Nordeman singing her song: “Legacy”

National Cancer Survivors Day: We are more than conquerors

June 7, 2020

Cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide. Although the number of patients diagnosed with cancer appears to be increasing, cancer patients overall are living longer. While the number of cancer survivors in the United States continues to go up, a new report by the American Cancer Society – in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute – estimates more than 16.9 million cancer survivors are alive in the US today with more than 32 million survivors worldwide. We all know someone whose life has been touched by cancer.

On the first Sunday in June, National Cancer Survivors Day, communities across the U.S. and abroad hold celebrations to acknowledge the cancer survivors in their community, to raise awareness of the ongoing challenges cancer survivors face because of their disease, and – most importantly – to celebrate life.

According to the National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation, administrator for the celebration, “A ‘survivor’ is anyone living with a history of cancer – from the moment of diagnosis through the remainder of life.”

As a twenty-year prostate cancer survivor, I acknowledge that three words– “You’ve got cancer”: whether said to a loved one or to you, can change your life forever. While some may see cancer as a death sentence, I see it as a “life sentence” that transformed my thinking.

In celebration of National Cancer Survivor Day, I would like to share an excerpt from my book where I recount part of my journey of faith following my cancer diagnosis. Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs weaves original poetry and Scripture into my battle plan to show how I emerged, as not just a survivor but more than a conqueror.

More than a Conqueror

I posted a blog entry on Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe on June 4, 2017, the first Sunday in June. The post focused on what I called the Word of the Day, which in this case was “survivor.” In its most literal sense, the term means “one who survives.” offers this series of definitions of the verb “to survive” as an action verb that has an object to receive its action. In this case, to survive cancer—

1. To live longer than; outlive.
2. To live, persist, or remain usable through any adverse situation.
3. To cope with (a trauma or setback); persevere after.
The verb is derived from Latin—supervivere, combining the prefix super + vīvere, to live.

Having been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2000, I have come to understand what it means to be a cancer survivor on a deeply personal level. I recognize a survivor as one who, after encountering an extremely adverse situation, is revived to not only survive but to thrive. Jesus Christ, the ultimate example of a survivor, endured the cross, despising the shame, and after undergoing unimaginable physical abuse, along with the emotional and psychological trauma of the highest degree, arose triumphantly over death itself. Like Christ, I have been revived not only to survive but to thrive, having been transformed from victim to victor.
The true essence of who I am as a believer in Christ is expressed in Romans 8:37:

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us.

The Amplified Bible puts it this way—

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].

The expression “more than conquerors” is translated in the Greek New Testament from the verb hupernikao, a compound word with the prefix huper—a form of the same prefix found in survive—meaning over, beyond, above exceed, more than. Today, common expressions of the preposition would say over and above or above and beyond. The stem would be nikao, translated “to conquer, prevail, overcome, overpower, prevail.” Although translated as such, being more than conquerors or super conquerors, is not who we are, but it is what we do, how we live. We completely and overwhelmingly conqueror in the present tense with continuous action; we prevail mightily every day of our lives.

Each year I reflect with gratitude to God for being alive and being able to cherish another year of life. As is my tradition, I sometimes compose a poem of celebration on my birthday. Most remarkably, Romans 8:37 was the epigraph or introduction for a poem composed on my 74th birthday, expressing my new identity in light of the Word for the Day for Cancer Survivors Day and 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.

Steven Curtis Chapman offers a musical summation of this post: “More than Conquerors”:

To obtain a copy of Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs go to and click on “book.”It is also available through, Barnes and Noble, and bookstores everywhere.

Protection, Provision, & Perception: Three prayer points

May 25, 2020
Psalm 91:1 expresses the deepest yearning of our hearts at this time.

Recently, Pastor Jim Critcher, one of the ministers at Grace Covenant Church, Chantilly, VA, offered words of exhortation and prayer points as we press into God during the current COVID-19 pandemic. He encouraged us to apply these focal points: Protection, Provision, Perspective and Perception.


We are to pray Psalm 91 over ourselves, our families and our friends. This Psalm of David provides great comfort and strength in the midst of the chaotic times in which we presently live.

Psalm 91 (NKJV):

Safety of Abiding in the Presence of God

1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”
3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler[a]
And from the perilous pestilence.
4 He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
6 Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
8 Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked.
9 Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
10 No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
11 For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
12 In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.
14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high, because he has known My name.
15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation.”


We are to pray for God’s provision to be made known around the world.

Psalm 23 (NKJV) reinforces this message:

The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.

Perspective & Perception

We are to ask God for an understanding of His perspective in this moment and a perception that would be tied to heaven and not to earth, as we ask God for that which He desires for us, expressed in Ephesians 1:15-17 (NKJV):

Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your [c]understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

The email message from Pastor Jim inspired this response:

Three Ps to Ponder in these Stressful Times

When we dwell in the secret place of the Most-High,
We abide in the shade of the Almighty’s wings
In praise for His protection, our joyful heart sings
To Jehovah, the creator and Earth and sky.
In times of famine or fulness, God meets each need
With His generous provision for daily life.
The love of God sustains, His peace dispels all strife.
Despite countless failures, He helps us to succeed.
Once again, we pray: Open the eyes of our heart
That we might view life from a higher perspective
As we look to your Word with hearts more reflective
Of your unfailing promise never to depart.
We know you protect and provide but help us see
Your hand in making us all you designed us to be.

We close with Esther Mui offering a moving rendition of Psalm 91: My God, In Him I Will Trust:

Happy Mother’s Day–Queen of My Heart

May 10, 2020

For my beloved Brenda,
Not just on Mother’s Day
But every day,
You are Queen of my Heart

One of the joys of my life is preparing exquisite meals for people I love. As an expression of my love for my beautiful wife, here is the menu for our dinner, fit for a queen, which we will share with out daughter and son-in-law and grandson on this special Mother’s Day. I thank God that we are able to do this.

Mediterranean Dinner Extraordinaire

Greek Salad

Assorted Shishkabobs


Savory Quinoa w/ Vegetable Medley

Selected Riesling

Mini-Hollywood-Two-tone Cheesecakes


Perilous times: Time to sing the blues

May 2, 2020

In thinking about the times in which we live when so many are experiencing deepest sorrow and sense of loss, I recall words from poet Robert Bly: “It is easier to go through suffering if you have a name for it.” We have all learned the reality that suffering is a part of life; indeed, “There is a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance.” As the old folks used to say, “Ain’t no harm to moan. . . sometime.” During these dark times, the blues, an African American musical form, seems ideally suited to express the anguish and inner turmoil confronting the whole world.

Although this unique African American musical and poetic expression rooted in the oral tradition is often somber in tone, evoking a “soulful melancholody”, there can be brighter more vibrant qualities beneath the surface, expressing a wide range of emotions. Jan Farrington in a review of the musical, It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues, comments:

“Though we think of “the blues” as an endless song of sadness, . . . remember that blues music can sound every note of human life, from despair to joy. There’s anger, mourning and protest — but life and happiness break through even in the hardest times.”

Lines from an original poem, “All Blues,” raise a thought-provoking question and bring closure to our discussion of this evocative musical form:

just what is the blues?

is it somethin you get
a show nuff dis ease
like de rheumatiz
or de rockin pneumonia
and de boogie-woogie flu
or is it like Lightnin said
somethin you just borned with
whatsonever it is
somethin gets a holt of you
dis mornin dis evenin soooo blue
just what is the blues?
maybe Lady Day summed it up
when she said,
“The blues is everything.”
the sea,
the sky,
the blues and I
know all colors;
sea and sky,
the blues and I
know all colors:
all shades all hues all blues

Musically speaking, the blues emerged as amazing by-products of slavery, blending vestiges of spirituals with traditional West African musical and narrative forms to produce a new expression with a range of emotions. These songs called the blues, follow a 12-bar musical pattern, one long line of four bars, with repeated words and music in the next line, then a third line of four bars to rhyme lyrically with the first two lines that are always the same.

One of the distinctly American poetic forms that uses blues stanzas is the “Blues Sonnet” consisting of four blues stanzas followed by a heroic couplet to complete the variation of the classic 14-line sonnet, so widely recognized and celebrated. Here is an original psalm inspired by the current circumstances that have gripped the world to remind us how to view these adverse conditions:

Greater than Corona

A blues sonnet for these perilous times

To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.
Isaiah 61:3

Without warning, the deadly virus came on the scene.
Without warning, the deadly virus came on the scene:
A new global pandemic sparked by COVID-19.

This tool of the enemy comes to grip us in fear.
This tool of the enemy comes to grip us in fear,
But we cry out to the Lord, who is always near.

We know nothing low down on earth, nothing high above.
We know nothing low down on earth, nothing high above.
Not even death can separate us from God’s love.

So, get out our face, Coronavirus–don’t you see?
So, get out our face, Coronavirus–don’t you see?
In the name of Jesus Christ, we have the victory!

God of grace, God of the living and not the dead,
Gives joy for sorrow, beauty for ashes instead.

Recently I came across a magnificent musical illustration of what I am trying to say about Abba, Father’s sense of identification with those who sing the blues. Listen to Kevin Levar along with One Voice singing “Jesus Blues.”