Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

By reason of strength: Thanking God for my life

June 17, 2022

With each passing year, my heart overflows with gratitude to God who has blessed me to be alive another year. This year, 2022, is especially meaningful in that I celebrate my eightieth birthday. As is my custom, I compose a poem to celebrate my birthday and give all glory, honor, and praise to my gracious Heavenly Father. Here is my composition for this year.   

A psalm celebration for my Eightieth Birthday

June 17, 2022

By Reason of Strength

 The days of our lives are seventy years;

And if by reason of strength they are eighty years,

 Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow;

For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

 Psalm 90:10 (NKJV)

By reason of strength that only comes from the Lord,

I have reached another milestone in my journey,

Sustained by the life-giving power of God’s Word,

As I proclaim great is your faithfulness toward me

And attempt one more time to thank you for my life:

For all you say I am and all I will become.

Praise God  for countless blessings: for my lovely wife

And daughters and their families and heirs still to come

Who will honor and love and serve you all their days.

Though I have known you, may I know you even more,

While  walking in wisdom, still numbering my days

As your favor abounds with greater blessings in store.

God, the Father of all grace, goes to any length

To protect and to provide by reason of strength.

“Dear God” by Smokie Norful captures the essence of what I attempt to express in my song of celebration:

God bless you on Mother’s Day and every day

May 8, 2022

On today, Mother’s Day,  May 8, 2022, I express my gratitude to God for my wife, Brenda, the mother of our two daughters, Melissa and Angela, and the grandmother of our grandson, Kingston. Happy Mother’s Day to a special Lady, affectionately called, Mom, Mommy, Mimi, and My Beloved Brenda.

I love you and God bless you

On Mother’s Day and Every Day

For My Beloved Brenda

Brenda Joyce, the wife of my youth in whom I rejoice…                        

On Mother’s Day and every day, I thank God for you.

At times words fail, and so I say, “If only you knew.”

I try to reassure you in all I say and do.

Again, I say, “God bless you. You make me feel brand new.”       

Reflecting upon our lives since the day we first met,             

His love still enriches and sustains us yet.

That He answered each of our prayers, how can we forget?

Brenda Joyce, the wife of my youth in whom I rejoice…   

                                   

God deeply touched our lives so that we might also share             

This “Sunday kind of love,” one that is, indeed, so rare.

Through every storm of life, He sheltered us in His care.

Though we try to describe it, it is beyond compare.

The world ever changes, but God’s love is always there,         

Brenda Joyce, the wife of my youth in whom I rejoice…                                      

                   

Poem in Your Pocket Day: April 29, 2022

April 29, 2022

In celebration of National Poetry Month, the American Academy of Poets has designated April 29 as National Poem in Your Pocket Day. Until the Pandemic, 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 2022:

  • 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 aloud 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 pandemic, including a personal encounter with the virus, 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 being hospitalized and testing positive for Covid, I am grateful to God for bringing me through that experience triumphantly. Here is a personal poetic expression, an original psalm, “a taste of the blues,” that I would like to share on Poem in Your Pocket Day:

Beyond the Dark Night of Covid

Yet they don’t ask, ‘Where is God, my Creator,

the one who gives songs in the night?

Job 35:10 (NLT)

Like nothing we’ve ever known, the Covid Pandemic gripped the world in fear

Like nothing we’ve ever known, the Covid Pandemic gripped the world in fear

Bless the Lord, O my soul. What in the world’s going on down here

Twice they rushed me to the hospital—I couldn’t believe my eyes

Twice they rushed me to the hospital—I couldn’t believe my eyes

That low-down Covid pulled a sneak attack that took me by surprise

To steal, kill, and destroy—that’s always what the Enemy has planned

To steal, kill, and destroy—that’s always what the Enemy has planned

But be encouraged and don’t forget God’s got the whole world in His hands

Beyond the dark night of Covid, we shall walk in the light of a brand-new day

Beyond the dark night of Covid, we shall walk in the light of a brand-new day

We won’t be defeated, but we will survive and thrive, no matter what comes our way

God Almighty, our Father, our redeemer, delivers from Covid and every infirmity

Even this perplexing pandemic will work together for the good, just you wait and see

We conclude with a perfect music video: Matt Redman’s “Songs in the Night”

To Abide in God’s Presence

January 10, 2022
The theme for the Week of Prayer, Fasting, and Consecration at Grace Covenant Church and Every Nation Churches across the globe

January 10-14, 2022, marks the beginning of the annual Week of Prayer, Fasting, and Consecration at Grace Covenant Church and other Every Nation churches across the globe. The theme for this year’s observance is Abide: The Power and Beauty of God’s Word.  

Telos Fuller, one of the Associate Pastors at Grace Covenant Church—Chantilly, VA, provided the perfect prelude to this special time when he ministered regarding “The Prize” on Sunday, January 10, 2022. He touched upon the awareness, access, and emphasis of “The Presence of  God” which should be the ultimate prize that all believers aspire to attain. Examining passages from Psalm 84 and other scriptures, he encouraged believers to pursue a deeper awareness of the presence of God which becomes a different metric for measuring our success as Christians.

He went on to say that everything we need and want we find in the presence of God. He referred to Psalm 16:11 which inspired this original psalm written in response to the teaching, as my own expression of “Amen” to the truths that resonated so deeply with me:

To Abide in God’s Presence

You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore                 

Psalm 16:11

To abide in God’s presence is our utmost desire,

Beyond the wealth of any treasure we may acquire.

With all of our being, we pursue the Lord, our delight,

Who brings such joy and peace to comfort us through the night.

Our desire to linger in His presence burns like a fire.

He clothes us in righteousness, garments of praise, our attire.

We seek to do God’s will and all that He may require.

We meditate on the Word of God both day and night

To abide in God’s presence.           

God has touched our lives and made us perfect and entire,          

We are learning to trust him as our sole supplier.

Challenges confront us when we seek to do what is right,

But beyond the dark is the golden edge of daylight.

We know weeping may endure only for a night,

 But we rejoice each new day, reflecting our  desire

To abide in God’s presence.

I anticipate that this week will be life-changing for all who participate in this time of dedication and consecration: “Abide—The Power and Beauty of God’s Word.”

We close with this selection by Life Worship: “Here in Your Presence”

Happy Birthday My Sweet Lady

October 9, 2021

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

My Sweet Lady

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

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

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

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

As we reflect upon our lives, we now understand.

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

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

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

My Sweet Lady. 

The deepest meaning of love we still seek to define. 

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

Despite the fiercest storms, we continue to withstand

And celebrate this life that continues to be grand.

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

My Sweet Lady.

I love you, BJ

Prostate Cancer Awareness Month 2021

September 19, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Embracing Your Life Sentence–
More than a Conqueror


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

Romans 8:37 (AMP)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 11, 2021

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

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

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

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

Beauty for Ashes

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

Isaiah 61:3

Beauty for ashes–we are transformed to testify                                                                             

Of lives so radically changed that we might glorify

The God of Heaven who touches the earth with His love

That overflows with bountiful blessings from above.

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

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

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

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

Beauty for ashes.                                    

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

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

Nothing in this life surpasses God’s unchanging love;

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

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

Beauty for ashes.        

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

 No Matter How You Phrase It

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

for with God all things are possible 

Mark 10:27

For with God nothing shall be impossible.

Luke 1:37

         

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

Whether you say “With God all things are possible”

Or say “With God nothing shall be impossible.”

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

As those who observes the times, we wisely surmise

That the Prince of Peace ascended to end all strife,

 Leading captive even death to release new life.

Just as from ashes, beauty and splendor arise,

We boldly declare the Word of God and assert

The Providence of an all-wise Father who makes

Barrenness to bloom with rivers in the desert.

With the Word of Life, even death itself awakes.

We seek to walk in wisdom and number our days,

Humbly discerning that His ways are not our ways.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Before I Knew You 

for my beloved Brenda

I thought of you long before I ever knew you.

When through the mist I beheld your lovely face.

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

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

Would be all I could desire in style and grace.

I thought of you long before I ever knew you.

Alone, I saw the sunset, told myself you too

Needed a dearest friend to share this special place.

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

Alone, I passed the time and asked myself who you

Were dreaming of, yet still longing to embrace

I thought of you long before I ever knew you.

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

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

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

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

To me with a true love that time cannot erase.

I thought of you long before I ever knew you.

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

An Amethyst Remembrance                                                              

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

Another precious stone–amethyst remembrance

Stone upon Stone: Psalms of Remembrance

You touched my life and filled my heart with love 

I thank God who heard and answered my prayer,          

Beyond all I could have ever thought of.              

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

I prayed and God brought me to a place where            

You touched my life and filled my heart with love.    

Firm as a rock, yet gentle as a dove                    

Is steadfast love that will always be there,             

Beyond all I could have ever thought of.               

You were my answer from the Lord above.                 

You fulfilled my deep desire to share.                 

You touched my life and filled my heart with love.     

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

A pure-hearted love such as ours is rare,              

Beyond all I could have ever thought of.               

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

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

You touched my life and filled my heart with love.         

Beyond all I could have ever thought of.              

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

Reflecting on the goodness of God on a special day

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

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

The devotional opens with a quotation attributed to Saint Jerome:

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

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

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

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

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


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

Reflections on the Journey—Strengthened for the Journey Ahead

June 23, 2021

Last week as it unfolded into a new week included my 79th birthday on Thursday, June 17 and Father’s Day on June 20. Sometime my birthday occurs on the third Sunday in June, but whether these two occasions coincide or not, this period of time is significant for me, as I reflect with deepest gratitude to God for these two grand occasions. Indeed, I have been in a reflective mood these past few days, and when I look at the Verse of the Day for June 23, 2021, I continue to pause and consider deeply, to “Selah” one of my favorite passages from the Old Testament. Today’s Verse of the Day comes from Isaiah 40:31, but I have committed the entire closing passage to memory because it offers great comfort and assurance, so needed in my life at this time:

Isaiah 40:28-31 (New Living Translation):

28 Have you never heard?
    Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
    No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
29 He gives power to the weak
    and strength to the powerless.
30 Even youths will become weak and tired,
    and young men will fall in exhaustion.
31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint.

In Psalm 103:3-5 (NLT) we find another reference to being renewed like the eagle.

He forgives all my sins
    and heals all my diseases.
He redeems me from death
    and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
He fills my life with good things.
    My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!

These passages also bring to mind the closing verses of Psalm 27, my favorite Psalm:

Psalm 27:13-14

New King James Version (NKJV)

13 I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.

14 Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

Psalm 27:14 also inspired the following original psalm that I recite to myself and share with others:  

Strengthened for the Journey

Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,

and he shall strengthen your heart;

wait, I say, on the LORD!

Psalm 27:14

Let us pause to reflect upon the past,

Not with longing to relive bygone days.

Though some were fine, such moments cannot last

A lifetime. The budding rose never stays

The same but unfolds in lovelier ways.

Let us linger to absorb the essence

Of this moment’s triumph. Another phase

Of growth we note within our lifetime since

We first began the quest toward excellence.

Let us look ahead with vision and strive

Toward greater goals, for each day we commence

To grow toward our perfection, as we thrive.

May we see clearly where our paths have led

And be strengthened for the journey ahead.                                                    

Donnie McClurkin and Karen Clark Sheard offer this comforting advice: “Wait on the Lord.”