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To know God

March 11, 2018

Deuteronomy 7--9

Revised and re-posted is the Verse of the Day for March 11, 2018 found in Deuteronomy 7:9:

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.

The verb “to know” in this instance is translated from the Hebrew word yada , which according to Strong’s Concordance means: to  know, to learn, to perceive, to discern, to experience, to confess, to consider, to know people relationally, to know how, to be skillful, to be made known, to make oneself known, to make to know.

The same verb occurs in Deuteronomy 4:35 in the Amplified Bible:

To you it was shown, that you might realize and have personal knowledge that the Lord is God; there is no other besides Him.

This kind of knowing corresponds to the Greek word ginosko, translated “to know” in the New Testament.  Biblical scholar E.W. Bullinger translates the verb:

To perceive, observe, obtain knowledge of or insight into.  It denotes a personal and true relationship between the person knowing and the object known, i.e. to be influenced by one’s knowledge of the object, to suffer one’s self to be determined thereby.

Once a person knows God on such an intimate, experiential level, that person “knows for himself or herself,” and such an individual is forever changed.

God desires that we know him, as He expresses His deep desire for intimacy on a very personal level. We come to know God through the Word of God. As we establish and maintain our relationship with him, we also experience his love. I recall the popular love song of the 1950s recorded by the Teddy Bears expresses a profound truth when connected to God: “To know him is to love him.’

Not only can we know God, but we can know that we know Him, as 1 John 2:3 makes known:

And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

As we continue to draw even closer to God, we also come to know Him at even deeper levels of intimacy, as God expresses His desire that we might be filled with the knowledge of His will revealed by the spirit of wisdom and revelation of the knowledge of Him. This desire is expressed in the prayer found in Ephesians 1, which serves as an introduction to this response:

The Spirit of Knowledge

  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;

  Ephesians 1:17


To excel in mighty works that demonstrate God’s power,

Far above the knowledge of any human mind,

Beyond the confines of any exalted tower,

We pursue knowledge and seek that we might find,

To know the exceeding greatness of that power,

Surpassing natural intellect of the mind;

That we may be filled with the knowledge of His will.

Such knowledge begins with the fear of the Lord,

Knowing that every promise our God will fulfill,

We receive the spirit of knowledge, not just a word.

We have been bought with a price, we are not our own.

Assured that God keeps His covenant we stand still.

The fullness of that knowledge shall someday be shown:

When Christ returns, then shall we know as we are known.

Our desire to know God to an even greater degree is to know His Son, Jesus Christ, so beautifully expressed in the worship song “Knowing You Jesus”:

March Forth on National Grammar Day–March 4th

March 4, 2018

The fourth day of March is the only day of the year expressed as an imperative sentence given as a command: March Forth! Created by Deborah Shouse, noted writer, speaker and creativity coach, this unofficial holiday invites individuals to march forth into their lives, take on new experiences, and celebrate their accomplishments. In addition, National Grammar Day is also celebrated on March 4.

Sponsored by the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar, this annual event points out that “On National Grammar Day, we honor our language and its rules, which help us communicate clearly with each other. In turn, clear communication helps us understand each other—a critical component of peaceful relations.”

Mignon Fogarty, of “Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing” fame, comments:
“Language is something to celebrate, and March 4 is the perfect day to do it. It’s not only a date, it’s an imperative: March forth on March 4 to speak well, write well, and help others do the same!”

Most providentially, Dr. J will begin teaching an English Grammar course at Carolina College of Biblical Research in Fayetteville, NC on Tuesday of this week. As students of the Bible, we find an exhortation to “march forth” in the Amplified Bible in Psalm 68:7:

O God, when You went forth before Your people, when You marched through the wilderness—Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!—

Psalm 45:4 also uses another similar expression:

In your majesty ride forth victoriously in the cause of truth, humility and justice; let your right hand achieve awesome deeds.

Today is a day that speaks a command—March Forth—on Sunday, March 4th we will follow the command of the Lord and march forth into victory . . . today.

Now thanks be unto God who always causes us to triumph in Christ and makes manifest the sweet savor of His knowledge by us in every place. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

In the military we hear the command “Forward March. “Forward “is the preparatory command whereby the individual shifts weight to the right foot before stepping out smartly on the left foot with on the command “march.”

A previous blog post points out that as believers we find that we can follow the command to “Forward March” in four areas: Family Life, Finances, Favor, and Faith:

Forward March in Family Life, as we recognize that God sets the solitary and places them in families, and we pray the prayer of Ephesians 3:14-21:

14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,

16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,

18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;

19 And to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,

21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

In addition, we “Forward March in Finances”:

God’s desire for His people is health and well-being:

3 John 2:

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

The blessings of the Lord makes us rich and adds no sorrow with it. We are blessed that we might be a blessing.

Moreover, we also Forward March in Favor

Where sin did abound, grace (favor) did much more abound.—We are blessed and highly favored in the Lord.

2 Corinthians 9:8 tells us:

And God is able to make all grace (favor) abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.

Finally, we Forward March in Faith, as we move from—Faith to Faith—Victory to Victory.
We follow in the footsteps of faithful Abraham, our Father, the father of Faith
Like Abraham, we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

Romans 4:20-21 describes the “Father of Faith” in this way:

20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.

And so we march forth on March 4, 2018, as we “Forward March” in four areas: Family Life, Finances, Favor, Faith.

A most appropriate song to close out this blog entry is “Moving Forward” by Israel Houghton:

Despite groundhogs and robins: Spring is coming

February 13, 2018

With the especially harsh winter weather this year, we must remember that “Spring is Coming!”

This year February 2, Groundhog Day, slipped past without much recognition of the celebrated day that offers a prediction of the coming spring. According to tradition, if the furry critter sees his shadow and emerges from his burrow, we are in store for 6 more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t and retreats into his dwelling, the weather forecast is for milder weather in the interim. Since 1886 the celebration of Groundhog Day on a grand scale has been associated with western Pennsylvania, the home of the legendary Punxsutawney Phil, the famed rodent. As it turned out, Punxsutawney Phil did behold his shadow this year, indicating a forecast of 6 more week of cold weather although other groundhogs around the world provided opposing predictions of a short winter.

Whether our furry friend sees his shadow or not, we are assured that after winter still comes the spring. Indeed, if winter comes, can spring be far behind? We can also be certain that in the midst of the most severe winter, a touch of which we have experience this year, growth still takes places. Tiny buds appear and lay dormant until spring’s warm rays stimulate the surging green we long to see. Here is a reminder that life goes on:

Even in Winter

He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.

Psalm 1:3

Mournful dark notes of the wind’s contralto solo
Pierce the heart and chill the soul with its somber tones.
Shrouded in widow’s weeds all of creation groans,
Bemoans winter’s wilderness, lifeless and hollow.
Tall stark naked trees where nothing appears to grow
Bend in the wind, vacant lodges closed for the season.
To find life in this dead time seems beyond reason,
Yet tender buds sleep in blankets of ice and snow.
Though leaves once green have faded, fallen to frostbite,
Leaf buds cluster in secret places to keep warm;
Buds wrapped in snow are stronger than before the storm.
Soon the voice of the bridegroom will ring in the night.
The time nears when the turtledove returns to sing,
When ice-covered buds will blossom: firstfruits of spring.

Another traditional sign of the coming of Spring, is the sighting of robins on the Northern landscape. On January 31, 2018 two separate sightings of robins were noted in North Carolina, a sure sign that Spring is on the way, so I thought. When I see robins returning after a brief absence, I recall that I made my acting debut in the second or third grade when I played “Robin Redbreast,” with my red sweater and brown paper wings that I flapped vigorously as I ran across the stage proclaiming, “Spring is coming! . . . Spring is coming! . . . Spring is coming!”

Robins are generally thought to be a sign that “Spring is coming!”

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

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

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

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

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

Here is a poem originally written in anticipation of one of my favorite seasons:

Until Spring

So when this corruptible has put on incorruption,
and this mortal has put on immortality,
then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written,

“Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death,
where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?

I Corinthians 15:54-55


Whether on earth or shuttled in the sky,

Death snuffs out our candles in devious ways,

For each man must learn to number his days,

Although the soul still probes to fathom why.

The mind made numb with pain can only try

To make sense of the immense ache that stays.

The answer sounds since Adam but still dismays:

It is appointed unto man once to die.

Though grief surrounds us, comfort can be shown.

The sun melts frost with new life as surely

As blossoms will flourish from seeds once sown

Until Spring, on tip-toe I yearn to see

The day when I shall know as I am known,

When death is swallowed up in victory.


Despite predictions for more harsh winter weather or when we are blessed with unseasonably mild temperatures, we remember the words of Robin Redbreast, and enjoy this magnificent rendering of Steven Curtis Chapman’s exquisite musical composition, a reminder that, indeed, “Spring is coming!”

Valley of weeping into refreshing springs

February 6, 2018


psalm 84

We have all been there in a dry place, a place of weeping, a place of unspeakable grief and anguish, a place of pain, and a place of barrenness.  We pass as pilgrims through this barren land, mindful of the admonition from Dr. Martin Luther King, “Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.”

A recent blog post spoke of mountains and valleys, making reference to “the valley of the shadow of death” with these lyrics:

You have to walk this lonesome valley.
You have to walk it by yourself;
O, nobody else can walk it for you                                                                                      
    You have to walk it by yourself.  

David speaks of “The Valley of Baca” as a place of weeping:

.Psalm 84:5-6 (New Living Translation)

5What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord,
who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

When they walk through the Valley of Weeping,
it will become a place of refreshing springs.
The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings

There is no place where the presence of God does not dwell. As we offer praise to God wherever we are, we can transform the Valley of Baca into the Valley of Baraka, the Hebrew word meaning “blessing and praise.” I recall this statement by praise and worship artist Martha Munizzi:

“God can send His worshippers through the valley of despair, knowing that they will turn a valley place into a resort.”

Her words became the opening lines of this poem written after a concert with Martha and Israel Houghton:

Through the Valley of Despair 

5What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord,
who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

When they walk through the Valley of Weeping,
it will become a place of refreshing springs.
The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.

Psalm 84:5-6 (New Living Translation)


God can send His worshipers through the valley of despair,

Knowing that they will turn a valley place into a resort.

As long as Jesus goes with us, we will go anywhere.

We will go where He sends us and bring back a good report.

We do what we have to do, for the Lord will bring us through.

He makes a way in the wilderness, where there seems to be no way,

Even rivers in the desert where He makes all things new.

Some said we wouldn’t make it, but we don’t care what they say.

The daily pressure mounts, asking how much more can we take.

True worshippers rise and boldly proclaim, “Don’t count me out!”

We know God’s sovereign plan for our lives is not a mistake.

Praise God! We shout with a voice of triumph on the way out.

Weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning,

Transforming the Valley of Weeping into refreshing springs.

Esther Mui offers Psalm 84 Song “How Lovely is Your Tabernacle” (Christian Scripture Praise Worship with Lyrics)

Ultimate reseacher

February 1, 2018

A previous blog post focused on the Word of the Day” which turned out to be “research,” whose root is “search”, a term related to what God continually does to the human heart. Research, in its most literal sense, means to “re-search” or to “search again. God, our Father, as the ultimate “Researcher” 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 recall this poem that centers on “searching” or “trying,” as in examining closely and scrutinizing in detail in order to render some kind of assessment or evaluation. Introducing the work is a section of Scripture from Romans 8:27-28 (NKJV):

27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose

God Searches

Romans 8:27-28

God searches the depths of each soul and probes each heart,

To uncover each motive and extract the pure,

Discarding dross, thus perfecting the refiner’s art.

The word of prophecy stands as even more sure,

The touchstone to measure the essence of all life.

All else shall fail, but the Word shall ever inspire.

This two-edged sword, sharper than a finely honed knife–

Living, powerful, piercing each thought and desire,

Penetrating soul and spirit, joints and marrow–

Probing deepest emotions, dispelling the dark.

Life-giving and powerful, swift as an arrow

That finds its target and that always hits its mark

Reaching its own perfection, to its fullest extent,

The Word of God prospers wherever it is sent.

In thinking about God as “the ultimate researcher,” Psalm 139 also comes to mind. The Psalmist opens with recognition that God knows all about us. Verses 13-16 reveal the intricate and delicate complexity of His matchless creation:

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.

Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!

You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.

You saw me before I was born.

Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

In some Hebrew texts, the reference to the “inward parts” or “inmost being” in verse 13 has been literally translated “kidneys”, the seat of inner human desires. Indeed, we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

A patient undergoing a cystoscopy provides an example of deep internal examination of parts of the urinary tract. This surgical procedure allows a urologist to examine the lining of the bladder and the urethra by means of a device equipped with a camera and a light inserted into the urethra. Such advances in medical technology make possible the deep probing of our “inward parts” in the natural.

Spiritually speaking, all of Psalm 139 can be viewed as an invitation to deepest, divine inspection, as the celebrated psalm closes with this heartfelt request:

Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT} :

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

This passage, in part, also inspired this original psalm:

Search Me: A Song for You

“I know your image of me is what I hope to be

If I’ve treated you unkindly, can’t you see

That there’s no one more important to me.

Oh, won’t you please look through me. . . “

“A Song for You”–Leon Russell


Search me, O God, and know my heart:

try me, and know my thoughts:

And see if there be any wicked way in me,

and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139: 23-24


The whole of my life unfolds as an open book,
Known and read by all with eyes to see, page by page.
As you read each line, take an even closer look,
Probe the depths of each of my thoughts, as you engage
The text, searching my heart for its deepest meaning.
Your searching and knowing is the ultimate scan.
As you discern my essence, my inmost being,
I will align myself according to your plan.
Beyond scans, scopes, devices to diagnose,
You see and assess any abnormality.
In these times of watchful waiting, you draw me close:
Despite what tests reveal, you will heal and deliver me.
At times I’m overwhelmed and don’t know what to do,
“But we’re alone now, and I’m singing this song to you.

Esther Mui offers a Christian Scripture Praise Worship Song: Psalm 139:23-24 “Lead Me in the Way Everlasting”:

Thanksliving: Universal Antidote for Toxic Emotions

January 28, 2018

1 Thessalonians-5 18 New

Exactly one week ago, I was honored to share the Word of God at Operation More Compassion, a local suicide prevention ministry, founded by Pastor James Simmons, a student at Carolina College of Biblical Studies where I teach.  As I reflect back on the events that unfolded during a week of physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges of immense magnitude, I recognize that the entire service was not just an opportunity to share the Word of God, but everything was custom-crafted to prepare me for the grueling week that began that very Sunday.  Invariably, I have learned that whatever God inspires you to teach others, He is first of all teaching and ministering to you. Today’s post summarizes the teaching shared a week ago: Thanksliving: Universal Antidote for Toxic Emotions (“Stinkin’ Thinkin’”)

In critical situations where a person may have accidentally ingested a poisonous substance, the Poison Control Center, if contacted, can suggest a specific antidote to counteract that poison. In some cases a “universal antidote” is recommended. Activated Charcoal has the well-earned reputation of being a key ingredient in a “universal antidote” that can facilitate the removal countless poisonous substances before they can cause harm. In terms of counteracting the potentially crippling negative effects of fear, anger, disappointment, discouragement, despair, all of which can culminate in unbelief that stifles our confidence and trust in God’s promises, I recommend another “universal antidote” to counteract any and all of these negative issues of life. A heavy dose of “thanksgiving” will counter the potentially crippling negative effects of any toxic emotions of life.

When most people hear the term “thanksgiving,” there is an almost automatic association with the fourth Thursday in November and all the food and festivities associated with that national holiday. For believers, “Thanksgiving” is always appropriate. “Thanksgiving” is the reason, not only for the current season as we embark upon a New Year, but “thanksgiving” should be the reason for every season.

In its most basic sense, “thanksgiving” applies an essential principle of life: giving and receiving. When one gives, one receives, and always in greater proportion than one gives. Although many people think of giving and receiving in terms of tithes and offerings or of giving of material abundance within a church or religious context, the universal principle works in all aspects of life—particularly in “thanksgiving.” In its most literal sense, the term means “to give thanks” or “to show oneself grateful.”  It is an expression of gratitude, a form of prayer specified in I Timothy 2:1 “. . . requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving. . . .”

As Christian believers, giving thanks to God for His grace and goodness is a positive expression that reverses the negative thinking pattern generated by toxic emotions We cannot truly be thankful and feel fearful or disappointed or resentful at the same time, nor can we be angry or discouraged or jealous when we see all that God has done for us and express our gratitude to Him at the same time. Certainly we cannot simultaneously sink to the depths of despair when we recognize how blessed we have been thus far, as we anticipate even greater blessings on the horizon, for the best is always yet to come with God, our beneficent Father.

God desires that we show ourselves grateful at all times. The Word of God reminds us of this truth in a number of places:

Colossians 3:17

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

A similar reminder is found in Ephesians 5:20:

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

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

Philippians 4:6-8 (NLT):

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.         

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

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

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

Feeling disappointed, discouraged, and in despair or having other negative feelings is sometimes described as “stinkin’ thinkin’” which can directly affect how we act. One of the critical factors in our physical and emotional well-being is attitude. The discussion of attitude comes full circle with this reminder that “attitude begins with gratitude.” J. Rufus Moseley speaks of “an attitude of gratitude and boundless good will.” For believers thanksgiving is a magnificent and joyful “response-ability”; that is, our ability to respond to God’s love and grace. We endeavor to demonstrate our gratitude to God from the fullness of our hearts, overflowing with thanks. More than merely occasionally expressing how grateful we are, we desire to maintain a continual “attitude of gratitude,” a lifestyle that some have called thanksliving.

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

We close with these encouraging words:

At All Times                      

I will bless the Lord at all times,

His praise shall continually be in my mouth.  

Psalm 34:1


When we see God’s goodness and mercy flow freely,

As we savor the ecstasy of victory,

When joy overflows and floods our soul, we must 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 must seek God.


When we long to abide within a tranquil mood

And linger in moments of sweetest quietude,

From the depths of our soul, we must worship God.


Despite raging seas, stormy winds and blinding rain,

When protracted pain strikes like a knife and numbs your brain

So that we can scarcely scream His name, we must 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 must 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.”

Finally, the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir offers this musical reminder: “In Everything Give Him Thanks”:

Way maker and more

January 26, 2018

Isaiah 43--19

Recently during a powerful time of worship, the lyrics to “Way Maker” by Nigerian recording artist Sinach resonated within me, touching the depths of my soul as the chorus offers a series of comparisons declaring who God is and what He will do:

Way maker
Miracle worker
Promise keeper
Light in the darkness
My God
That is who you are

Throughout the Scriptures we find extensive use of such metaphors that enlighten us regarding God’s amazing power and might and willingness to come to our rescue.

Way Maker

Isaiah 43:16, 18-19 provide this portrait:

Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea
And a path through the mighty waters,

18 “Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert.

Miracle Worker

God, our Father,  confirms the gospel of salvation by signs, and wonders and various miracles carried out by Jesus Christ, the Apostles, and by believers who operate the gifts of the Holy Spirit today, according to Hebrews 2:3-5

Promise Keeper

God Almighty, creator of the heavens and the Earth, is faithful and true, the original “Promise Keeper” who cannot lie. The Word of God declares God has given us exceeding great and precious promises that shall all be fulfilled:

For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.

Light in the darkness

Job speaks this reminder of who God is:

He reveals mysteries from the darkness and brings the deepest darkness into the light.

While the Psalmist also declares:

You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.

The Prophet Isaiah makes known these truths:

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.

I will lead the blind by a way they did not know; I will guide them on paths they have not known. I will turn darkness to light in front of them and rough places into level ground. This is what I will do for them, and I will not forsake them.

Reflecting on the lyrics to this powerful song of worship inspired this response:

That is who You are.

Way Maker

Who by His own power makes a way out of no way,

Out of darkness into the light of a brand new day.

That is who He is, and that is all we have to say.


Miracle Worker

Our source and resource of miracles without measure

From the riches of the glory of His vast treasure.

To work on our behalf is always His good pleasure.


Promise Keeper

His will is to fulfill every promise He has spoken.

We know no word of the Lord can ever be broken.

Each promise fulfilled is but a foretaste, a token.


Light in the darkness

We who once sat in darkness have now seen a great light.

With the light of His Word we put ten thousands to flight,

Pressing toward a new day when there shall be no more night.


That is who you are

We long to know you more closely and not from afar.

We love You and worship You for who you are.

We close with Sinach offering her rendition of “Way Maker”:


Walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh

January 18, 2018

According to, the Verse of the Day for January 16, 2018 was found in Galatians 5:16 (NIV):

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

Most amazingly this verse is one I discuss in detail in my forthcoming book that gives an account of my 18-year battle and ultimate victory over prostate cancer. Stay tune to Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe as the publication details unfold. Here is an excerpt from the section “The real battle field is the mind” where I talk about the mental or emotional challenges confronting me when I was diagnosed with prostate cancer 18 years ago.

My experience helped me to understand more fully this intense conflict raging within every believer: the ongoing battle between good and evil, the constant struggle between fulfilling the lusts of the flesh and walking by the spirit. This dilemma is sharply delineated in

Galatians 5: 16-18 in the Amplified Bible:

16 But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God).

17 For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the [Holy] Spirit, and the [desires of the] Spirit are opposed to the flesh (godless human nature); for these are antagonistic to each other [continually withstanding and in conflict with each other], so that you are not free but are prevented from doing what you desire to do.

18 But if you are guided (led) by the [Holy] Spirit, you are not subject to the Law.

Paul goes on to draw a sharp contrast between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the spirit. This never-ending internal conflict is also depicted in Romans 7:18-25, where Paul speaks of his desire to do good , to do the right thing , but he winds up doing the very thing that he doesn’t want to do, and regrettably he does not do what he so longs to do:

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.

19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.

20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.

21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good.

22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.

23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.

During the time of my internal struggles “to get it together and keep it together,” I was teaching a class on America literature, and one of the writers whom we discussed was Colonial poet Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672), who personalizes the constant conflict raging within her own mind and within every Christian believer in this excerpt from “The Flesh and the Spirit”:

I heard two sisters reason on
Things that are past and things to come.
One Flesh was call’d, who had her eye
On worldly wealth and vanity;
The other Spirit, who did rear
Her thoughts unto a higher sphere.

This intense internal conflict is depicted in this original poem as a fight where each individual can determine the outcome:

Two Ravenous Wolves

An elder Cherokee chief took his grandchildren
into the forest and sat them down and said to them,
‘A fight is going on inside me. This is a terrible fight
and it is a fight between two wolves.
One wolf is the wolf of fear, anger, arrogance and greed.
The other wolf is the wolf of courage, kindness,
humility and love. . . .This same fight between the
two wolves that is going on inside of me
is going on inside of you, and inside every person.”

Rabbi Marc Gellman

Two ravenous wolves wage constant warfare within.
Each stalks the other, striving to survive, to reign.
One embodies fear, anger, arrogance, and greed,
The other courage, kindness, humility and love:
One a sinister serpent, one a gentle dove.
Each tries to gain the upper hand and to restrain
Its foe, but only one will rise to seize the lead.
Each is seeking to dominate, driven to gain.
One will be defeated–only one will remain.
Since each beast demands the opposite kind of food,
We select the diet, whether evil or good.
In each conflict, the soul determines who will win,
For wolves are ravaged by an all-consuming need,
And we decide the wolf we starve, the wolf we feed.

Every moment of the day, as believers we must decide the direction we will take, whether we will walk in the spirit or walk in the flesh.

Hosannah! Music closes our discussion with “Walking in the Spirit,” a medley to remind us where we desire to be:

Walking on the water

January 15, 2018

The third week in the New Year seemed to get off to a most inspiring and encouraging start, as I listened to a teaching from Bishop Charles Mellette of Christian Provision Ministries in Sanford, NC. Taken from a series of teachings entitled “Lord, Do You Have More for Me?” with the subtitle: “God is Bigger,” the message was especially challenging for me, as I think of some of the projects I hope to accomplish during 2018.

The message focused on the account where the Lord Jesus Christ came walking on the water during a fierce storm. Peter recognized the savior and asked that he tell him to come to him. As Peter followed the instructions, he climbed out of the ship and began walking toward the Lord. When he noticed the howling winds and the stormy circumstances, Peter became frightened and began to sink. He cried out to the Lord for help, and the Lord spoke these word: “O you of little faith; why did you doubt?” Jesus responds to Peter’s call and helps the fearful disciple. Hand in hand, they both walk back to the ship.

Bishop Mellette emphasized that “God is bigger,” and He has greater goals for us to accomplish. He encouraged us not to be afraid to go after every good thing God has put in our hearts to pursue. He went on to say: “It is time to step up and step out because confidence looks good on us,” noting confidence is a fragrance everybody needs to smell. His remarks caused me to think of 2 Corinthians 2:14 (Amplified Bible):

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

This record of Peter’s bold accomplishment under seemingly impossible circumstances, brings to mind one of the poems written following a series of storms that arose after the nation experienced the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and subsequent storms. This particular work is inspired by the same passage from Matthew 14:

Walking on the Troubled Waters of Life

Matthew 14:22-33

In the fourth watch, long before the sun begins to rise,
A tempest attacks my ship with waves that overwhelm.
My vessel seems abandoned with no one at the helm
When a vision of the Savior appears before my eyes:
Jesus comes walking on the troubled waters of life.
As storms of our times bring conflict, confusion and strife.
May I not be fretful, anxious, cowardly like some,
But like Peter say, “Since you are my Lord, bid me come.”
And step out of the boat to walk on the storm-tossed sea.
While battered by fierce waves, tormented and tossed about,
In the time of my distress I cry out, “Lord, save me!”
He then asks, “O, you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
In the midst of turbulent times, may I “get a grip”
And walk hand in hand with the Master back to the ship.

We conclude with a lively exhortation from the musical group Exodus 4:12: “Get out of the Boat:”

Good, better, best

January 7, 2018


As a rule, I choose not to make New Year’s resolutions, but I resolve to make each year the best year of my life. I try to follow the admonition I give to the writing students whom I teach, but at the same time this motto can be applied to athletics and to any endeavor:

Good, better, best

Never let it rest

Until your good is better

And your better is best.

In my classes I provide an illustration of this motto in action as I play “the death crawl” scene from “Facing the Giants.” Here we have a coach asking one of his players to “give him his best.” That’s really all that anyone can ask of another person. Even so, as the player-coach that I am, all I am asking of my students—“Give me your best.” After viewing the video, I ask the students to see its personal application to the class and beyond.

In light of the class motto, let us look for a moment at the adjective “good.” The word good 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; however, with God there is no comparative nor superlative.  No, God has not seen “better” days, and certainly 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.

We proclaim with the Psalmist:

“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.”

As the New Year continues to unfold, we can strive to apply the class motto, not only to the classes that we take or teach but to every aspect of our lives. Our underlying motivation should be our desire to express to God our gratitude for all that He has done for us through Christ Jesus, His Son. In this case, 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. And this should be our response.

We close with the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, as they sing: “Giving My Best to You Lord.”