Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Nine times two and so much more

November 17, 2018

As we continue to move toward the end of 2018, the thought occurred to me that 18 is the number nine times two. I also recall the spiritual significance of nine in light of E.W. Bullinger’s Number in Scripture: Its Supernatural Design and Spiritual Significance from which this excerpt comes:

Nine–denotes finality of judgment. It is 3 x 3. The number nine or its factors or multiples is seen in all cases where judgment is the subject. In mathematical science it possesses properties and powers which are found in no other number. Among others may be mentioned (1) that the sum of the digits which form its multiples are themselves always a multiple of nine; e.g., 2 x 9 = 18 (and 1+8=9); 3 x 9 = 27 (and 2+7=9); 4 x 9 = 36 (and 3+6=9); 5 x 9 = 45 (and 4+5=9), etc. It is a factor of 666, which is 9 times 74.

But nine is the square of three, and three is the number of Divine perfection, as well as the number peculiar to the Holy Spirit. It is not surprising, therefore, to find that this number denotes finality in divine things (as in the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 and in the manifestation of the Spirit in I Corinthians 12).

As individuals seek to number their days and apply their hearts unto wisdom, we recognize all we do will examined by God, our gracious heavenly Father, the Righteous Judge. Romans 8:26 reminds us that God “searches the depths of each soul and probes each heart.” We recognize this searching of the hearts is ongoing, for God does not look on the hearts of humanity simply one time, but the probe continues in that He searches again and again.

While thinking about these ideas, I also thought about the concept of “research” (literally to search again and again) and recall a discussion regarding God, our Father, as the ultimate “Researcher” who conducts this grand “research project” whose primary purpose is for the advancement of human knowledge about God, that we might “fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” In the process we discover, interpret and develop knowledge, which we apply as we grow in our understanding of the Creator and His vast universe.

I also recall that a number of poems I have written centering on “searching” or “trying,” as in examining closely and scrutinizing in detail in order to render some kind of assessment or evaluation. This morning I came across one such poem written when I was participating in a clinical trial related to prostate cancer at the Ohio State University. During this time I wrote a poem reflecting on that experience, as I thought about one of the reasons I chose to participate in the clinical trial which caused me to think of lyrics to the song “If I Can Help Somebody”:

Then my living shall not be in vain!
If I can help somebody as I pass along,
Then my living shall not be in vain!

All of this information is flowing together in a most remarkable way as “I . . . arise and strive to reach the place /where the rivers of understanding flow.” That experience culminated in this poem written nine years ago:

Search Me Again

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; 

Try me, and know my anxieties;

24 And see if there is any wicked way in me,

And lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24

As you follow your protocol, search me again;
Probe the depths of my soul, as you once more explore
My life’s work, as you have done many times before.
While you search, take pleasure in all that may remain,
For your thoughtful study of my ways will explain
The lapses, that though I fall short, you will restore,
That I might be renewed to serve you even more
And so prove that my living will not be in vain.
May you find in me admissible evidence.
May your research validate my life and confirm
All that lives in me, as you once more analyze
The thesis of this “research project,” in a sense.
Despite intense scrutiny may all your findings affirm
Pure-hearted devotion and joyful service in your eyes.

We close with Hillsong offering this magnificent song of worship “Search Me O God”:

Veterans Day Reflections

November 13, 2018

Each year as November 11 approaches, I pause to reflect upon Veterans Day, a national holiday of special significance to me. First of all, I am a veteran, having served two years in the US Army, from 1967 to the end of 1968 during the Vietnam era. Most providentially that experience directly relates to my being here in Fayetteville, NC where I lived from 1985 to 1994 when I taught as an associate professor at Fayetteville State University. In 2013 I returned to teach as an adjunct professor at Carolina College of Biblical Studies.

Born and reared in Gary, Indiana, I visited Purdue University, the first college campus I ever set foot on, when I was about 13 or 14. At that time I decided I would attend Purdue and major in Pharmacy. When I graduated from high school in 1960, I enrolled at Purdue and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy in 1965, later becoming a registered pharmacist, working as a staff pharmacist at Methodist Hospital in Gary. While enjoying the “good life,” I received my “greetings from Uncle Sam” in 1967 was drafted into the US Army. Back then I thought this was the worst thing that could have happened to me. Being drafted into the Army in the late 60s was not an ideal situation for a young African American male in light of the disproportionate number of black men sent to Viet Nam, some of whom did not return and others who were forever changed by that experience.

In January 1967 after a tearful farewell with my parents, I boarded the bus that took me to Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Upon completing of my basic training, I went to Fort Sam Houston, in San Antonio, Texas, where I could choose to work in a dispensary filling prescriptions, as I had done before, or I could choose to become a pharmacy instructor and teach pharmacy technicians. The second choice sounded intriguing since I had not done that before, and so I opted to become a pharmacy instructor, which turned out to be ideally suited to me and opened up a new world of classroom teaching which ignited a passion to teach. This passion motivated me to pursue a Master’s degree in English from Emporia State University in Kansas and a Ph.D. in English from Indiana University. This passion continues to burn, even as I am teaching at CCBS where I teach classes on campus and online.

My time of service as pharmacy instructor began with intense training at the Medical Field Service School. During this time, I recall one veteran from Kentucky whom I knew briefly while serving as a pharmacy instructor at Fort Sam Houston. He and I had many things in common: we were both drafted as pharmacists who opted to become pharmacy instructors, but there was one notable difference. I had not signed up for an extra year of service, despite the Army’s indicating I might not get a pharmacy position if I didn’t. My fellow serviceman, had signed up for the extra year, but we both received pharmacy positions. The extra year, however, increased the likelihood of going to Vietnam if a pharmacy position needed to be filled there.

About nine months after we completed our training as instructors, my fellow instructor received orders for Vietnam, and by the end of the year, he was shipped overseas. In the early part of the next year, we received the news that he had been killed. The impact of that experience did not fully resonate with me until years later on Memorial Day when I looked up the name of this individual on the website for the Vietnam Memorial and recognized that he was from a small town in Kentucky. I was teaching a composition and literature class at the time at the Louisville campus of Indiana Wesleyan University when I saw my colleague’s death in a totally different light. In literature we find a term called a Christological figure or Christ Figure. The term refers to an object, person, or figure representing Christ allegorically or symbolically. Such a figure shares qualities generally found in Christ, with one of the most notable qualities being “self-sacrifice.”

I was overwhelmed by the reality that my fellow instructor, in a sense, went in my place. What transpired while I was in the Army culminated in an awareness of the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who took my place and gave his life that I might live. My whole experience in the military brings to mind my favorite verse in my favorite chapter of the Bible: Romans 8:28

And we know that all things work together for the good, to them that love God, to them that are the called according to His purpose.

Today I recognize more clearly than ever what Satan meant for evil, God in His providence, transforms into something great and glorious. Each Veterans Day, I reflect with gratitude to God for my time of service in the military, recognizing the contribution that veterans have made and continue to make to secure the blessings of liberty that we enjoy today.

We conclude with a Veterans Day Tribute (November 11, 2018 edition—100-year anniversary).

Perilous times: My times are in your hands

November 4, 2018

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 events subsequent September 11, 2001 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 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 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.

In the Old Testament some form of the verb palat, the Hebrew word for “deliver,” is translated “to pluck out of the hands of an oppressor or enemy; to preserve, recover, remove; to deliver from danger, evil, trouble; to be delivered, to escape.” We note how the term is used in Psalm 31:1-4, 15 in the Amplified Bible:

In You, O LORD, I have placed my trust and taken refuge;
Let me never be ashamed;
In Your righteousness rescue me.
Incline Your ear to me, deliver me quickly;
Be my rock of refuge,
And a strong fortress to save me.
Yes, You are my rock and my fortress;
For Your name’s sake You will lead me and guide me.
You will draw me out of the net that they have secretly laid for me,
For You are my strength and my stronghold.
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 personalized and expressed in 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.

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


Black Poetry Day: A dual celebration

October 17, 2018

This photo copy shows the first poem published in 1761 by Jupiter Hammon, the Father of Black Poetry.

Today’s blog post spotlights a special celebration. Although not recognized as a national holiday, October 17 is designated as Black Poetry Day. During this time we celebrate poets of African American heritage and their contribution to the literary landscape of the nation and of the world. Why was this particular day selected for the celebration? For the answer we go back to the America’s literary beginnings and the “Father of Black Poetry.”

Jupiter Hammon, the first person of African descent to publish a poem in colonial America, was born October 17, 1711. Publishing a literary work of any kind during this period was a remarkable accomplishment for anyone, but for a man born into slavery, writing and publishing “An Evening Thought” in 1761 was nothing short of a miracle.

Born on the estate of merchant Henry Lloyd of Oyster Bay, NY, Hammon was believed to have been a lay minister. As a devout Christian, he expressed his religious convictions in all of his poetry and prose. In addition to An Evening Thought, 1761, his works include “An Essay on the Ten Virgins,” 1779; “A Winter Piece,” 1782; “An Evening’s Improvement,” 1783; “An Address to the Negroes in the State of New York,” 1787. In 2013 a University of Texas at Arlington English professor, Cedric May, and his doctoral student, Julie McGowan, located an unpublished poem, “An Essay on Slavery,” handwritten by Hammon around 1786.

Some believe that Hammon may have had a powerful conversion experience during the Great Awakening, the religious revival of the mid 1700s, as he hammers out the word “salvation” more than twenty times throughout this first poem, “An Evening Thought.” Written in hymn stanzas or common meter, the same metrical pattern as many of the hymns of John and Charles Wesley and Isaac Watts from the same period, the structure of the poem leads some to speculate that Hammon’s poetry may have been set to music.

Black Poetry Day was first proposed in 1970 by Stanley A. Ransom. As author of America’s First Negro Poet: The Complete Works of Jupiter Hammon, Ransom has sought to bring wider recognition to Hammon and his works. Professor Ransom was among the scholars cited in my dissertation which examined the poetry of Hammon and three other black poets: Phillis Wheatley, George Moses Horton, and Frances E.W. Harper. Indeed, the poetry of Jupiter Hammon has profoundly influenced me as a practicing poet whose literary style also mirrors an attraction to the Bible for inspiration.

Black Poetry Day 2018 also marks a dual celebration as a “doubly lovely day” since I submitted the final approval for the release of my new book Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs. I share my response to a diagnosis of prostate cancer as I developed a holistic battle plan, weaving original poetry and Scripture to show how to I emerged, not just as a survivor but more than a conqueror. Here is one of the poems from the book revealing Hammon’s influence:

Watching, Waiting, Seeking

“Wait on the LORD; be of good courage,
and He shall strengthen your heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD!”
—Psalm 27:14

Reassured once more we will not be left behind,
But with patience we must still learn to watch and wait.
We look into the mirror of God’s word and find
Our God has ever been faithful and never late.
We trust in the Lord, as the Word of God extols.
Like Job we wait until at last our change shall come,
Assured that in patience we now anchor our souls.
May we not faint and fall by the wayside as some
But follow in Christ’s steps, as we quickly obey
And bear up under and yield fruit of endurance.
We must walk in God’s love, the more excellent way
And through faith and patience claim our inheritance.
In these perilous times we remain yielded and still,
Watching, waiting, seeking to fulfill all of God’s will.

In celebration of Black Poetry Day and the poetry of Jupiter Hammon, we close with a rendering of “I Love the Lord” arranged by Richard Smallwood. The original composition  was written by Isaac Watts in hymn stanzas, the same metrical pattern used by Hammon in all of his poetry. While living on the Lloyd estate, Hammon had access to the family library which contained a collection of Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs by Dr. Watts, the “Father of Hymnody,” revealing a possible influence on the poetry of Hammon:

For more details about Embracing Your Life Sentence and its publication, stay tuned to Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe and see

Favored for Life

October 15, 2018

Recently a student asked how I was feeling, and replied in a similar manner as my sister and others I know reply when asked the same question: “I am blessed and highly favored and forever grateful.” The student went on to ask, “How do you know that?” I responded “That’s what the Word of God says, and I believe that.” Most providentially, “favor” was the subject of the message at Christian Provision Ministries in Sanford, NC this past Sunday, as Bishop Charles Mellette taught regarding “Favored for Life.” The objective of the teaching was to help believers live the life they were favored to live.” As members of the Body of Christ, the Church Triumphant, we express our gratitude to God for all He has made us to be, as 2 Corinthians 2:14 in the New King James Version tells us:

14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.

As we examine the word “favor” more closely, we note the word has also been translated “grace.” God extends His grace, His undeserved favor toward His people. A previous blog post on the Quote of the Day had this to say:

“God doesn’t believe in favoritism, yet He shows favor.”

Another Quote of the Day proclaimed:

“The Favor of God is upon you; you will have victory.”

Psalm 5:12 (NLT) declares:

For You, O Lord, bless the righteous man [the one who is in right standing with You]; You surround him with favor as with a shield.

Although the Scriptures reveal that God is no respecter of persons, we find that God also states, “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”(Exodus 33:19)

Indeed, we note that the word “favor” has also been translated “grace.” God extends His grace, His undeserved favor toward His people. In thinking about God’s grace and favor Ephesians 2:8-9 (AMP) come to mind:

8 For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God;

One of the Points of Power emphasized by Bishop Mellette reminded us that the favor of God is always attached to the presence of God. His comments inspired this response:

Where Favor Forever Will Dwell

He who diligently seeks good seeks favor
and grace, but he who seeks evil,
evil will come to him.

Proverbs 11:27

Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the Word of God.
As the most ardent suitors will pursue their love,
We follow after to acquire the love of God,
For favor comes to the faithful who rise above.
As moths flying in darkness are drawn to the light,
So favor follows those who walk in righteousness:
His beloved always find favor in God’s sight.
Those who worship in the beauty of holiness
Are destined to know endless blessing and favor
As fullness of joy overflows in His presence,
Being transformed into a sweet smelling savor:
The favored life in the spirit of excellence.
We walk upright by faith while striving to excel
In His presence where favor forever will dwell.

In reflecting on God’s favor, we recall last year’s theme at Christian Provision Ministries: “unlimited goodness and unlimited favor.” In light of that, this year and every year should be a demonstration of that reality. The concluding remarks from Sunday’s message “The Favored Life” reinforced the message: as we observe what the Lord is doing daily in abounding His grace and kindness toward us, and as we look to see what lies ahead, we should be forever grateful for “the favored life” we are privileged to live.

We conclude with True Worshippers offering “Favor”:

A song for Brenda

October 7, 2018

Instead of the usual Verse of the Day or some other variation, today’s blog entry is a special tribute to a special lady, my wife Brenda, as we celebrate a special occasion:

Through the ages, men have been inspired to write songs for the love of their lives. Often these compositions sing of the special lady by name. Thinking of my wife, Brenda, as she celebrates her 70th birthday inspired this expression of my love for my Sweet Lady:

A Song for Brenda

Celebrating her 70th birthday
October 8, 2018

Each man is inspired by his fair lady;
Many a man has penned a song or two:
For Molly and Dolly and Ora Lee
And for the love Nina never knew.

Some songs are written for the love that’s seen
In the eyes of the cutest girl in town:
Amy, Diana, Fanny, Gigi, and Jean
Liza, Delilah, and Sweet Georgia Brown.

Some songs are written to capture the grace
In the wide smiles that wile and beguile you:
Margie, Maria, and Nancy with the laughing face;
Laura, Louise, and don’t forget Sweet Sue.

Of all the lyrics composed for ladies
The finest words were omitted somehow.
There never was a tender ballad for Brenda
There never was her love song until now.

When Brenda and I moved to North Carolina the first time, from time to time we went to Myrtle Beach. While there we discovered beach music and the shag (we called it fast dancing or the bop or some other name). We loved to shag and still do. In fact, we placed first in the shag division in a dance contest when we were taking dance lessons back in the day. We have the trophy to prove it. On one of our trips to Myrtle Beach we heard what has become one of “our songs”: the beach music classic by OC Smith: Brenda:


Happy Birthday, Beautiful.

No fear

October 2, 2018

In the midst of the uncertainty of our changing times, the Verse of the Day for October 2, 2018 touches upon a growing concern across the globe: fear.

Fear, a common and natural emotional response to potential danger, touches everyone, but if not properly addressed, it can become a deadly emotion with serious consequences. Excessive fear can cripple and impact our daily lives in negative ways. Unbridled fear, as a toxic emotion, limits and inhibits believers. Proverbs 29:25 makes this clear:

The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.

The Verse of the Day also brings to mind one of the chapters of my  forthcoming book. When diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2000, I did not see “a death sentence,” but I saw a “life sentence” that transformed my thinking. In Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs. I share the holistic strategy God inspired me to use to overcome this adversity. A vital part of the battle plan deals with confronting “the fear factor.” Here is an excerpt:

Regarding the toxic emotions of life,  we must learn to counteract their harmful effects with the proper remedy. In terms of responding to fear, we find that love is the perfect antidote.

The love of God  is the highest form of love, “a love which is more intimate than friend, or kin or wife;” This close-knit love is known as agape, a term used exclusively in the New Testament, to reveal the uniqueness of God’s love.

With love, as with any other emotion, there must be a demonstration or manifestation whereby one knows the reality of the emotion in question. We speak of the love of God in manifestation which is so clearly demonstrated in one of the most widely recognized verses in the Bible, John 3:16:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

The book of I John also reveals the perfect connection between fear and love, particularly in 1 John 2:5 (NKJV).

But whoever keeps His word, in him truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this know that we are in Him.

In those who hear the Word of God and keep it, the love of God is perfected or made perfect or complete, wanting nothing or brought to maturity in them. To be perfected is to be brought to a full end.

The love of God is perfected or made complete or full in us when we walk in the steps of Jesus Christ, the ultimate example of perfect love. Verse 18 provides the basis for love being the perfect antidote to fear.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

When an individual is perfected in love and walks in or demonstrates that love, there is no room for fear. The love of God is the key that releases each believer from the bondage of this self-imposed prison from which Christ came to set the captives free. Even in distressful and disturbing situations where we do not clearly understand what is transpiring in our lives health-wise and otherwise, we must always remember this:

There is No Fear in Love

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear,
because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
—I John 4:18

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear
And abounds to transform any adverse atmosphere.
We are perfected and made whole when we walk in love,
A true love that we live and not one we just speak of.
Such love is pure and never repels but draws us near.

This balm of love heals all wounds, no matter how severe
With words of compassion each soul on earth longs to hear;
Love conquers any disaster and rises above.
There is no fear in love.

We follow in Christ’s steps, knowing our mandate is clear.
Assured of triumph, there is never a need to fear.
We press toward the mark, the prize we seek to lay hold of
To ascend in victory on wings of a gentle dove.
We walk forth as bold pioneers on a love frontier:
There is no fear in love

Steffany Gretzinger offers this beautiful expression of our heart’s desire:

Scheduled for release in a few weeks, Embracing Your Life Sentence is designed to inform and inspire. Find out more about it at or keep checking Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe.

A new season: Be strong and courageous

September 24, 2018

As autumn leaves begin to change, we are entering a new season of harvest.

Fall officially begins at the autumnal equinox, where the Sun appears to cross the celestial equator, from north to south, signaling the beginning of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere, when the night and day are of equal length. This year it occurred on Saturday, September 22, which marks the end of summer and the beginning of winter.

Even in the midst of these changing times, seasons change. “The days dwindle down to a precious few” and the foliage unfolds in golden splendor along with the bountiful harvest. At this time “Deep rust and scarlet curtains dress the stage/Where trees change gowns on a warm autumn day.” This time of year reminds us of the truths expressed by God Almighty after the flood waters receded in the Days of Noah:

Genesis 8:22

22 As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.”

In thinking about autumn as a season of harvest, I thought of a particularly challenging situation for the Children of Israel as they approached the Promised Land and prepared to enter, Joshua 3:15 notes: ”the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest.” Before they head toward their destination, Joshua commands the people:

Joshua 3:5-6

5 Then Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves [for His purpose], for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders (miracles) among you.” 6 Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant and cross over [the river] ahead of the people.” So they took up the Ark of the Covenant and went on ahead of the people.

In a recent teaching of this account from the Book of Joshua, Pastor Joon of Grace Covenant Church, commented, “Before the impossible you pause and ask God what to do.” He went on to say, “Consecration is the vessel for miracles.”

We see that the priests entered the Jordan bearing the Ark of the Covenant on their shoulders. When they entered the river, the waters parted, and the people miraculously walked through on dry land.

This record also brought to mind a poem that personalizes our encounter with a Jordan River of our own, particularly at this season of my life as thousands upon thousands of Carolinians are recovering from devastating flooding after Hurricane Florence. Like the Children of Israel our desire is

To Cross Over

Deep river, Lord,
I want to cross over into campground.
Black Spiritual

To cross over the swelling Jordan is our goal.
Here we stand at the beginning of our harvest
When waters of the river overflow and crest
Above our tableland to overwhelm our soul.
Streams converge upon us as far as we can see
And flood our camp from shore to shore. The rising tide
Would hold us back and keep us from the other side,
But we prepare our heart and mind for victory.
As God sent forth the sacred Ark of the Covenant
Borne on the strong shoulders of the priests, reliant
On the Lord’s command that the waters would recede,
So shall those who trust God, never fail but succeed.
Though trials seem to hinder us on every hand,
We shall walk through this Jordan and stand on dry land.

As we enter into this new harvest season of our lives, we may be confronted with challenging circumstances that seem to overwhelm us at times, but we are confident that just as God delivered Israel, so will He provide a way for us reach our destination, the place of our destiny.

As we embark upon this new season, we inquire of the Lord and seek His guidance and direction for the days ahead. Some will be fasting and praying; others will journal and devote more time to reading and studying the Scriptures. We think of the lyrics to “Our Eyes are on You”:

Lord, we acknowledge You,

We don’t know what to do,

But our eyes are still on You.


We have not been this way.

Each step is strange and new,

But our eyes are still on You.


Teach us Your way, and we will follow.

Speak to us now. We will obey.

You’ve always brought us through.

Our eyes are still on You.

Our eyes are still on You.

We close with a musical rendering of some of the words spoken to Joshua, and they certainly can be applied to our lives in this new season: “Be Strong and Take Courage”:

If it had not been for the Lord. . .

September 18, 2018

Despite the stress and the distress in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence with its devastating impact on the Carolinas, we remain overwhelmingly grateful to God. I woke up this morning abiding in the safety of the Lord, thankful for life, health, and strength, being able to express in words my gratitude as I post this entry.

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 the psalm in its entirety in the King James Version:

Psalm 124

“If it had not been the Lord who was on our side,”
Let Israel now say—
“If it had not been the Lord who was on our side,
When men rose up against us,
Then they would have swallowed us alive,
When their wrath was kindled against us;
Then the waters would have overwhelmed us,
The stream would have gone over our soul;
Then the swollen waters
Would have gone over our soul.”

Blessed be the Lord,
Who has not given us as prey to their teeth.
Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers;
The snare is broken, and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.

Verse 1 was the inspiration for this personal poetic expression:

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,

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.

Esther Mui offers Psalm 124: “Our Help is in the Name of the LORD.”

The reference to Psalm 124 causes us to think about where we all might have been, if it had not been for the Lord who was on our side.

Prostate Cancer Awareness Week

September 17, 2018

Designated Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, September brings focus to prostate cancer, an important health concern among American men. Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men, especially in African American men. 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.

The Prostate Conditions Education Council (PCEC), a national organization committed to men’s health and a leader in prostate cancer screening, sponsors Prostate Cancer Awareness Week (PCAW) from September 17-21, 2018. During September men are encouraged men to have a health check and talk to their doctor about prostate cancer. In fact, September 18 is also designated Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day. Light blue is the color of the ribbon bringing attention to prostate cancer.

As a prostate cancer survivor, September is an especially significant month for me. Receiving a diagnosis of prostate cancer in 2000 was life-changing. I share my response to the diagnosis in my forthcoming book, Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs. While some see a cancer diagnosis as a “death sentence,” I see it as a “life sentence” that transformed my thinking. Embracing Your Life Sentence offers lessons learned from this life-changing process. In revealing my holistic strategy to combat prostate cancer, I take you down the road less travelled on a journey that weaves original poetry, Scripture, and my battle plan, to show how I emerged, not just as a survivor but more than a conqueror. Scheduled release is mid-October. Find out more about it at or keep checking Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe.