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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:

Legacies

I

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.

II

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.” FreeDictionary.com 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 https://lonnelledwardjohnson.com and click on “book.”It is also available through Amazon.com, 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.

Protection

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.”

Provision

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:

Protection-Provision-Perspective:
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

Salmon-Chicken-Lamb

Savory Quinoa w/ Vegetable Medley

Selected Riesling

Mini-Hollywood-Two-tone Cheesecakes

Coffee/Tea

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.”

Poem in Your Pocket Day 2020: April 30

April 29, 2020

In celebration of National Poetry Month, the American Academy of Poets has designated April 30 as National Poem in Your Pocket Day. Until this year, the idea was simple: people selected a poem that they loved during National Poetry Month and carried it with them to share with co-workers, family, and friends. People unfolded poems from pockets throughout the day with events in parks, libraries, schools, workplaces, and bookstores. In light of the current COVID-19 circumstances, the celebration can continue digitally.

Here are ways to celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day 2020:

  • Select a poem and share it on social media using the hashtag #pocketpoem. 
  • Simultaneously participate in the Shelter in Poems initiative, and select a poem that brings you solace during this time of distance and solitude. Share what it means to you and use the hashtags #pocketpoem and #ShelterInPoems.
  • Record a video of yourself reading a poem, then share it on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or another social media platform you use. 
  • Email a poem to your friends, family, neighbors, or local government leaders.
  • Schedule a video chat and read a poem to your loved ones.
  • Add a poem to your email footer.
  • Read a poem out loud from your porch, window, backyard or outdoor space. 

Poem in My Pocket:

During times of crisis and personal upheaval, especially meaningful poetry comes from the Book of Psalms. David, my all-time favorite poet, has provided comfort, encouragement, and strength during my darkest days. The Book of Psalms continues to be a source of inspiration as well. Despite the devastating aftermath of the Coronavirus pandemic, I wake up each morning abiding in the safety of the Lord, thankful for life, health, and strength, being able to express in words my gratitude. In reflecting on where I have been and where I am now, I often say, “If it had not been for the Lord, I shudder to think where I would be.” I also think of Psalm 124 which opens with a similar statement, “If it had not been for the Lord who was on our side. . . .” Here is personal poetic expression, an original psalm, that I would like to share on Poem in Your Pocket Day:

If It Had Not Been for the Lord


“If it had not been the LORD who was on our side,”
Let Israel now say—
Psalm 124:1


If it had not been for the Lord who was on our side,

We would have drowned in the sea from the tears we cried.

We shudder to think just where we would be today.

We would have lost our mind or turned and walked away,

But we learned that God is faithful—this cannot be denied.

He was there to guide when we were tempted and tried,

Our shelter from the storm where we could run and hide.

He was our deliverer—that is all we have to say:

If it had not been for the Lord.

Enemies rose up like a flood to wash aside,

But God came through and rescued us and turned the tide.

Pressing toward the mark, dawning of a brand-new day,

Through all our trials we learned to watch, fight, and pray.

The Lord is our keeper; in Him we confide:

If it had not been for the Lord.

We close with this musical reminder based on Psalm 124 from Esther Mui: “Our Help is in the Name of the LORD.” She causes us to think about where we all might have been, if it had not been for the Lord who was on our side.

When you can’t change your circumstances, change your attitude

April 17, 2020


In the midst of the upheaval from the coronavirus pandemic, people across the globe are trapped in circumstances they don’t like but  feel powerless to change. I thought of this statement from the late African American writer and vibrant personality, Maya Angelou:

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

In observing the response of so many people who exhibit negative behavior in what they say and do, I thought such individuals could use “an attitude adjustment.”

In one sense,  we all are confronted with a whole new list of actions we must perform on our daily “to do list,” actions that we have to do or “got to do.”  In following the advice of Maya Angelou, I suggest, however, making an adjustment in how we think about essential tasks that we “got to do.”  

A number of years ago, a dear friend, Dr. Dale Sides , introduced the concept of changing our attitude from what we must do or “got to do” to thinking about what we have the privilege to do or “get to do.”  I shared the concept of changing our thinking from “gotta” to “gitta” with a friend and fellow teacher, Dr. Yolanda Stewart, who suggested that I express that concept in a poem to show just how important making such an attitude adjustment can be.  The poem seems ideally suited to the demands imposed on us in light of the current crisis that has changed our world so dramatically:

From “Gotta” to “Gitta“

Little biddy things can happen that don’t make much sense,

But changing one little letter can make a really big difference.

Subtle changes in the words we speak can also change our mood:

From “gotta” to “gitta” shows a whole new attitude.

“I ‘gotta’ go to work or stay at home and pass the time away”

Becomes “I ‘gitta’ go to work; I am thankful I have a job today!”

“I ‘gotta’ take care of these kids—now that’s another world”

Becomes “I ‘gitta’ nurture young minds who will someday change the world!”

Work heartily as to the Lord, whatever you do.

Remember in the end that He alone will reward you.

You may not agree with me, but it’s still so true,

Especially when you face tasks you really don’t “wanna” do.

Some doors may close, but this key to life you will find:

Put off the old, put on the new and renew your mind.

“ ‘Gotta’ to ‘gitta’ ” is thinking of another kind.

Move ahead in faith, and you won’t be left behind.

We have to change in the midst of these changing times.

Standing on the mountain top is the one who climbs.

Changing how we think and what we say does make sense;

From “gotta” to “gitta” makes a really big difference.

The poem also brings to mind  a vintage show tune sung by Roy Hamilton who tells us what we should emphasize, not just during the current crisis, but every day we should endeavor to maintain a positive attitude:

By his stripes I am healed

April 11, 2020


According to BibleGateway.com, the Verse of the Day for April 11, 2020 comes from 1 Peter 2:24. Here is rendering in the New Living Translation:

He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed.

The New King James Version renders the verse this way:

Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.

1 Peter 2:24 is actually a variation of Isaiah 53:5 (KJV):

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

The Verse of the Day also brings to mind the reality of the covenant God made with the Children of Israel expressed in Exodus 15:26 (KJV):

And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee.

The phrase “I am. . .” also brought to mind a powerful life-changing message heard years ago related to our identity, as revealed in the Word of God. At the end of the message the minister encouraged the congregation to make a list of qualities or attributes the Bible declares us to be. I personalized the assignment and composed a list of metaphors which opened with the phrase “I am.”

I AM says, “I am,” and all that I AM says “I am”

I am light, the light of the world, sent forth to shine.

I am salt, the salt of the earth, full of savor.

I am alive in Christ; eternal life is mine.

I am blessed: in the midst of famine is favor.

I am trusting in the Lord; I am not afraid.

I am made whole in Christ; by His stripes I am healed.

I am so fearfully and wonderfully made.

I am redeemed, and by the Spirit I am sealed.

I am a sweet savor, a living sacrifice.

I am ever before Him, always on His mind.

I am clothed in righteousness, bought with a price.

I am His beloved, the one He runs to find.

I am cleansed and made whole by the blood of the Lamb.

I am, by the grace of God, what I AM says I am

This weekend when Christians around the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Verse of Day and related verse remind each believer of who the Lord is and what he came to accomplish. The music of Don Moen reinforces that reality to remind me of who I am in light of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and by his stripes I am healed.

We close with the Don Moen song of worship: “I am the Lord that healeth thee.”


What are you going to wear? Above all things put on love.

March 17, 2020


Colossians 3:12 in the New Living Translation, the Verse of the Day for March 16, 2020, provides a picture of how we should behave toward one another. To gain a fuller understanding of what our behavior should be, take a look at verses 12-17:

12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

One approach is to view this passage in light of clothing that everyone puts on every day. We ask, “What are we going to wear today?” The Word of God provides the answer:

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

Put another way, we ask, “What are we going to put on?” The answer comes forth clearly:

13 Make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

We must recognize that forgiveness is another garment that is always fashionable, but we must choose to put it on. As poet John Oxenham notes:

Love ever lives, outlives, forgives,
And while it stands with open hands, it lives.
For this is love’s prerogative:
To give and give and give

Indeed, forgiveness is an aspect of love, the outer garment that we are instructed to put on that will pull together all the other garments that we should wear.

Colossians 3:14:

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.

In addition to putting on the proper garments, God desires that we show ourselves grateful at all times and make gratitude or thanksgiving a part of our daily attire, as verses 15-17 also reminds us:

15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.
17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

More than merely occasionally expressing how grateful we are, we are encouraged to maintain a continual “attitude of gratitude,” whereby we express our thanks to God in everything we say and do. The closing verse of the passage from Colossians 3 brings to mind these poetic words of encouragement:

In happy moments, praise God.
In difficult moments, seek God.
In quiet moments, worship God.
In painful moments, trust God.
In every moment, thank God.


At All Times

I will bless the Lord at all times,
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
Psalm 34:1


When God’s goodness and mercy follow closely,
And we savor the ecstasy of victory,
When joy overflows and floods our souls, we will praise God.

When gripped by the devices of this transient life
And caught in the straits of rising conflict and strife,
During these difficult moments, we will seek God.

When we long to abide within a tranquil mood
And linger in moments of sweetest quietude,
From the depths of our souls, we will worship God.

Despite raging seas, stormy winds and blinding rain,
When protracted pain strikes like a knife and numbs the brain
So that we can scarcely scream your name, we will trust God.

All along life’s journey, no matter the season,
Through every why and wherefore, for every reason
Every moment we draw breath, we will thank God.

We seek the Lord and ask ourselves, “What shall we do?”
“Give thanks: it is God’s will in Christ concerning you.”
“Give thanks: it is God’s will in Christ concerning you.”

Don Moen offers this moving reminder to “Give Thanks”: