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Celebrating Four Black Poets on Black Poetry Day

October 17, 2017

As the beauty of the day began to unfold with the morning sunrise, I recalled that today has been designated Black Poetry Day, a time to celebrate poets of color and their contribution to the diverse literary landscape of America and beyond. October 17 was selected since Jupiter Hammon, the first poet of African descent to publish a poem in America, was born October 17, 1711 in Long Island, New York.

Given the undeveloped and primitive conditions of the colonies, for any person to publish any literary work in colonial America in 1761 would be an extraordinary accomplishment, but for a slave to write as well as to have published a poem is nothing less than a miracle. Here is an excerpt:

An Evening Thought: Salvation by Christ, with Penetential Cries

Salvation comes by Jesus Christ alone,
The only Son of God;
Redemption now to every one,
That love his holy Word.

Dear Jesus we would fly to Thee,
And leave off every Sin,
Thy Tender Mercy well agree;
Salvation from our King.

Salvation comes now from the Lord,
Our victorious King;
His holy Name be well ador’d,
Salvation surely bring.

Dear Jesus give thy Spirit now,
Thy Grace to every Nation,
That han’t the Lord to whom we bow,
The Author of Salvation.

Dear Jesus unto Thee we cry,
Give us the Preparation;
Turn not away thy tender Eye;
We seek thy true Salvation.

Clearly, Hammon in relating his salvation experience in poetry, offers an exuberant testimony of his close encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. Given the metrical pattern of Hammon’s poetry all of which was written in hymn stanzas (think of the lyrics to “Amazing Grace,” and you will see the same pattern). Having closely studied Hammon’s poetry, I think that Hammon either “flat-out” sang his poetry as you would sing a hymn and/or he recited it with a passionate expression that is comparable to what we might think of today as a “rapper” or “spoken word” artist. The  intensity of his life-altering “salvation experience” so “rocked his world” that he couldn’t keep his feelings to himself. The words seemed to overflow, erupting into a passionate song of praise from the depths of the soul of this extraordinary poet. Since its publication the world has been blessed and refreshed and enlightened by his pioneering literary work, “An Evening Thought.”

On Black Poetry Day, 2017 we close with a tribute to Jupiter Hammon, the “Father of Black Poetry,” along with three other noted African American poets who have greatly influenced me. I recognize their contribution to my life, as I ask:

Did They See Me?

In tribute to Jupiter Hammon, Phillis Wheatley,
George Moses Horton, and Frances E.W. Harper

At night as he began to write
And looked to God on high,
Could he have known that one like he
Would read his works and be
Inspired by the same desire
To love God’s holy Word.
I read works by Brother Hammon
And wonder did he find
Any comfort and assurance
That his works would still be read
Three hundred years beyond his time:
And in his mind did he stretch forth
The hand of fellowship
To greet a man of kindred mind
Eons beyond his time?

I read works by Jupiter Hammon
and wonder did he see me?

A fragile gentlewoman, did she know
The enduring value her words would show?
When she lifted her eyes toward open skies
And posed with quill, did she realize
The power of her words to kindle fire,
To enlighten souls to marvel and admire?
Did she muse on those who were yet to sing
And seek to leave a lamp for her offspring?
Surely she knew death could not entomb
Seeds bearing fruit beyond the barren womb.

I read works of Phillis Wheatley
and wonder did she see me?

Did he soar far beyond his time
To reach a place of tranquil clime
To gain a grander view?
Beyond that place could he foresee
A man like him who would be free,
The poet’s calling to pursue?
Did he invite a distant friend
To flee together and ascend,
To join him in his cherished flight,
Leaving behind the chains of night
To soar into the poet’s world,
To uncover and unfurl
The naked genius of his soul?

I read works of George Moses Horton
and wonder did he see me?

When she made songs for her people
Did she have me in mind?
One who would join the chorus
In years beyond her time?
Though she left no sons behind,
Her poems continue to remind
Those who read and heed the message
That justice speaks to every age.
When she made her songs, did she feel
Kindred to come would share her zeal?
Did she know such songs would stir my heart
With the wisdom they impart?

I read works of Mrs. Harper
and wonder did she see me.

Through an infinity of mirrors
I look back and ask
did they look ahead;
I look ahead and ask
will others look back
and be inspired by
the self-same fire;
will they marvel as I,
marvel at the power
of the printed word,
the power of a single light,
like a cloven tongue of fire,
to shatter the darkest night.

I read their works and wonder did they see me?

We conclude with John Michael MacDonald reading “An Evening Thought”

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Ready for the new thing

September 26, 2017

Isaiah 43--19

Although this passage from Isaiah is not the Verse of the Day for November 26, 2017, these words previously posted at the beginning of the New Year also come to mind at this time:

Isaiah 43:16, 18-19:

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.

 

The passage from Isaiah also brings to mind this poetic expression:

God is constant, never changing.

Yet God is fluid, ever changing.

Like the ocean and horizon at sunset and sunrise,

Always the similar yet never the same,

Infinitely wise, ruler of earth and skies,

We humbly recognize our savior and creator,

Who makes all things new.

Marvelous are your works;

Righteous are your ways.

Worthy of the glory,

We give our highest praise.

Never changing, yet ever changing,

Who is like unto our God?

There is no one like Him.

Who is like unto our God?

As I embark upon a new phase of my journey, a new beginning, God reminds me once again that He makes all things new. While considering deeply the concept of a new beginning or a fresh start, these lyrics reinforce the message:

Behold, I make all things new.

Behold, I make all things new.

Behold, I make all things new, brand new.

Things will never be the same.

 

Behold, I am making you new.

Behold, I am making you new.

Behold, I am making you new, brand new.

You will never be the same.

The same expression is also the title of another poem with the same message.

All Things New

Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth;

shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness,

and rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43:19                                                                                                 

 

Behold, I am the Lord God who makes all things new.

Trust me and you will see. You will never be the same.

As you look to me, it is no secret what I can do.

 

I am God–I do not lie, I am faithful and true.

Almighty, God of the impossible is my name.

Behold, I am the Lord God who makes all things new.

 

Some thought it was over, but I am by no means through.

I cover and restore to remove all guilt and shame.

As you look to me, it is no secret what I can do.

 

Never forget what I have already brought you through.

You have a divine purpose; your life is not a game.

Behold, I am the Lord God who makes all things new.

 

In me you overcome—I am Lord of the breakthrough

Who offers boundless promises that you can now claim.

As you look to me, it is no secret what I can do.

 

Trust me, obey and see what I have in store for you.

With your life you will make known my goodness and proclaim:

Behold, I am the Lord God who makes all things new.

As you look to me, it is no secret what I can do.

These reflective comments and poetic expressions serve as a prelude to this announcement:

under-renovation

Beginning September 26, 2017, Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe will be temporarily closed for renovations. In addition, a new website is being developed along with other special projects designed to enhance the ministry of the Word of God which continues to be the life-force of Dr. J. Thank you for support and encouragement over the years. Please continue to pray for me during this time of transition, as God’s “new thing” unfolds. We will be sure to let you know when we are back in business. . . “Compounding after the art of the apothecary.”

We “close shoppe” with a Scripture Memory Song based on Isaiah 43:18-19, 25:

From here to there: You can get there

September 25, 2017

getting-from-here-to-there-Today, September 25, 2017, while reflecting upon yesterday’s morning’s teaching “From Here to There“ by Pastor Donna Taylor at Christian Provision Ministries in Sanford, NC, my thoughts turned to one of the early blog posts on Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe. This particular entry focused on Psalm 133 and included original poetry and an excerpt from a prophetic word by Al Thomas along with music videos related to striving to “get there”, to scale Mount Zion to arrive at the place of everlasting blessing.

Here is an excerpt from an excellent word of exhortation and encouragement from Al Thomas regarding God’s desire that we also reach that place of sublime communion with one another and with Him. Indeed, God always desires to take us from “here to there.”

“God Said, “YOU’VE BEEN HERE WAY TOO LONG, I WANT TO TAKE YOU
THERE–GET READY”

“There ahead of you is your destiny,” says the Lord. “The hope, the
dream and the fulfillment of My promise–it’s simply staring you in
the face! Here, is where you are now, but how you conduct yourself
today has everything to do with where I will take you tomorrow–My
there. Extend My grace to others when you least feel like doing
so–it will prepare you to go from here to there. Determine that you
are serious to get to My there for you (Luke 9:62). You will get
there by serving Me in the here and now (1 Corinthians 10:21, James
1:8).

“Are you serious about the vision you are following? If so, then
build in the now (here) for what I have shown you in the future
(there). If you are faithful in little, here, I will give you much
there (Luke 19:17). Use the compass of praise, private prayer and
undaunted searching in My word to guide you and keep you on course
(Mark 4:14-20).

“Be faithful today–tomorrow is almost upon you, and it is nearly
time to take you from here to there. Look up, it’s approaching and
you are about to leave here and arrive there–right where I’ve been
waiting for you. Pack up, say goodbye, and prepare to leave here for
there. My command is coming for many to move out–out there.”

“Faithful is He that called you, who also will do it” (1
Thessalonians 5:24).

As Pastor Taylor noted, to get from “here to there” on the surface, seems such a simple process: you simply go! On the journey, however, one encounters obstacles, pitfalls, diversions, distractions and all kinds of set-backs. At times it seems as though “you can’t get there from here.” In respond to that idea, these two poems offer encouragement along this tedious journey called life:

When at Last We Get There

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended;

but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind

and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,

14I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call

of God in Christ Jesus. 

Philippians 3:13-14

 

Despite constant reminders to the contrary,

We know in our soul that we can get there from here.

Someday we shall see the place of our destiny

And worship before the throne of God and serve there

When at last death is swallowed up in victory

And war and strife, poverty and disease have ceased.

In this place true believers dwell in unity.

Redeemed from sin, restored and made righteous; released,

Set free from bondage to savor sweet liberty,

To bask in the fullness of God’s glory and grace.

His favor and everlasting goodness increased

Beyond measure, as the champions finish the race

To stand under the banner of Judah’s lion

When at last we get there, when we reach Mount Zion.

God ever sets before us pictures of possibilities. The glorious portrait of harmony and communion of the highest degree is set before us in Psalm 133 which inspired another poem with a similar theme:

From Here to There

1    Behold, how good and how pleasant it is

For brethren to dwell together I in unity!

2   It is like the precious oil upon the head,

Running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron,

running down on the edge of his garments.

3   It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion;

For there the Lord commanded the blessing—life forevermore.

 Psalm 133:1-3

 

The final phase of life’s journey from here to there,

Yearning to return to Eden, beyond the place

Of the first promise spoken to all who would hear

And receive the fullness of the measure of grace

And know the never-ending flow of perfect peace:

Where perfect love has triumphed to cast out all fear;

Where all shall dwell in harmony and wars shall cease;

Where there shall be no night for the Lamb of God is near;

Where our joy shall never wane but only increase;

Where we know intimacy far beyond Hebron;

Where our raptured souls shall find rest and sweet release

In endless afterglow of sublime communion;

Where we know the everlasting blessings of unity

As we dwell in Zion for all eternity.

Just as these two poems capture the essence of the message of this post, we conclude with two musical selections to seal the prophetic word and the teaching from Pastor Taylor:

The first song is a love song that can be heard as a benediction of sorts, a message from the Father to His beloved, by way of Oleta Adams, relating this reminder: “I don’t care how you get there. Get there, if you can,” and you can get there from here.

The second selection is a musical rendering of Psalm 133 by Esther Mui:

Dying antelope transformed into a butterfly

September 13, 2017
Antelope into Butterfly--Rear view

This sculpture from Zimbabwe shows the transformation taking place as a dying antelope is changed into a butterfly.

Have you ever encountered a work of art that profoundly moved you? A painting, a sculpture, a musical composition, a photograph, or a scene from nature—a sunrise or a waterfall, a field of sunflowers or a fiery autumn leaf?  Were you inspired to think deeply, to “Selah” the moment: to pause, to consider deeply while reflecting upon what you observed or heard, as you endeavored to understand more full your breath-taking experience?

More than 20 years ago while living in Columbus, OH, I recall seeing a special exhibition called Chapungu, a collection of sculpture from Harare, Zimbabwe on display at the Franklin Park Conservatory. One of the sculptured works of art that particularly arrested my attention was entitled “Dying Antelope Transformed into a Butterfly.”

After considerable reflection, several scriptures came to mind, including 1 Peter 3:18 (KJV):

For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

The New Living Translation provides this rendering:

‎1 Peter 3:18 (NLT):

Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.

The verse contrasts being “put to death in the flesh” with being “quickened or made alive.”

Translated from the Greek word zōopoieō, the expression meansto cause to live, make alive, give life, restore to life, endued with new and greater powers of life, of seeds quickened into life, i.e. germinating, springing up, growing)

The phrase “quickened by the Spirit” also brought to mind this stanza from the poem “Constant Reminders”:

God makes known to us a new covenant,

Quickened within us by a lively hope,

Energized by ever-increasing faith,

That we might know and be known by His love,

Surpassing even the knowledge of God:

How great and how precious is each promise.

The sculpture provided a graphic illustration of having been put to death with respect to the flesh in stark contrast to having been quickened or made alive with regard to the Spirit, inspiring this response:

A Lesson from Chapungu

Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers;                                                                        

The snare is broken, and we have escaped.             

Psalm 124:7

With our eyes open to see what God has to say,

We stroll through varied green scenes while looking to see

Secret messages, sculpted letters speak clearly

In rocks that cry out from quarries of Zimbabwe.

Hunted game escapes, just beyond the fowler’s snare,

An antelope transformed into a butterfly,

Snatched from the clasp of death, energized to glorify

The God of the living, not the dead, to declare

Those who trust Him are released from the fear of death.

He upholds us with His victorious right hand.

Not even death can limit all that He has planned,

For God sustains all life and safeguards every breath.

The Lord protects His own, quickening flesh and bone,

That we might proclaim His praise a living stone.

Esther Mui offers Psalm 124 “Our Help is in the Name of the Lord” from which the introductory verse of the poem is taken.

 

What’s going on: More signs of the times

September 9, 2017

Matthew 24--3

Late Thursday, September 7, 2017, a magnitude 8.0 earthquake, the most powerful earthquake to hit Mexico in a century, struck off the southern coast. US Geological Survey (USGS) predicts “High casualties and extensive damage are probable, and the disaster is likely widespread, requiring a national or international response.”

This recent quake occurred while the US was still reeling from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, followed closely by the threatening dangers of Hurricane Irma.  This horrifying sequence of events continues to rivet the attention of the world, as many echo the sentiments of Marvin Gaye, asking, “What’s going on?” Others observe the news and comment, “These are just signs of the times,” recalling the remarks made by Jesus Christ when asked about the days before His return to Earth.

In Matthew 24, known as the Mount Olive Discourse, and in Luke 2, we find a list of signs said to occur before Christ returns. Indeed, one of the last signs involve “the sea and waves roaring”: [there will be] distress and anguish among nations, in perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea and the waves.  The recent spate of hurricanes would certainly qualify as one of the signs.

Other “signs of the time” include the following:

Earthquakes in various places

In an article “Are earthquakes signs of the end times?” Steven A. Austin and Mark L. Strauss discuss the controversy generated by such Christian writers and Bible teachers who maintain that Jesus predicted that an increase in frequency and intensity of earthquakes would occur prior to his return. In actuality, Jesus Christ indicated that earthquakes would occur in various places, nothing more.

“Wars and rumors of wars”

Jesus spoke of increasing conflict when he said, “Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” At the heart of the phrase “nation against nation” is the Greek word ethnos, from which the English word “ethnic” is derived.  With increased globalization, come increased ethnic conflicts which now ravage the world.

Never has there been a more revealing picture of kingdoms in conflict than with the recent focus on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and its threat to the Middle East and beyond. The Islamist militant group that is determined to establish a Caliphate that will dominate the world with its ideology is a demonstration of “Kingdom against kingdom.” Caliphate is another name for “kingdom.”

Famine.

According to the Food Aid Foundation, about 795 million people in the world are suffering from chronic undernourishment. Almost all the hungry people live in developing countries, representing 13.5 percent, or one in eight, of the population of developing counties. Estimates indicate that one in every eight people on Earth goes to bed hungry each night.

Pestilences

The global health crises such as the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the threat of the Zika virus have captured the attention of world. Other infectious diseases, such MRSA, (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus infection) and other drug-resistant infections, along with flesh-eating diseases and sexually transmitted diseases fall into the category of “pestilences.” Previous epidemics of contagious diseases have included Hepatitis C, HIV, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), Mumps, and Measles. Some would say that such outbreaks might refer to the “pestilences” that Jesus Christ spoke about.

Cosmic phenomena: “signs in the heavens above”

On August 21, 2017, the nation watched with wonder the solar eclipse of the sun, described as “the sight of a lifetime.”  Many observers also recognized this astronomical occurrence as prelude to another intersection of stars and planets that will be seen as ‘The Great Sign” spoken of in Revelation 12:1-2.  Projected to occur 33 days after the total eclipse on September 23, 2017, this rare cosmic conjunction is also are designed to display Jesus Christ and the glory of his second coming.

With the increasing frequency of these recent events, many recognize them as so-called “signs and wonders” spoken of in Luke 21:25-28. In addition, the hearts of people will fail because of fear, for “the powers of heaven shall be shaken.”

As the nightly news reports earthly and heavenly phenomena amidst escalating conflict among nations, along with increasing earthquakes and other natural disasters. In addition, famine continues to be a global issue of great concern, not to mention deadly diseases that threaten civilization. To many observers, the culmination of these “signs of the times” appear to indicate the return of Christ draws closer and closer day by day.

Luke 21:27-28

Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draws near.”

The lyrics of “Redemption Draweth Nigh” reinforce this message”:

 

Preparing for another storm

September 5, 2017
Hurricane_Katrina_August_28_2005_NASA

Hurricane Katrina, one of the most devastating and destructive storms in recent memory, occurred in August, 2005.

As Southeast Texas and the Gulf Coast area continue to recover from the massive devastation of Hurricane Harvey, Florida and the East Coast begin preparation for Hurricane Irma, already a Category 4 storm possibly headed toward the eastern seaboard. In thinking about this sequence of events, we recall words related to the cycle of life, whereby, as believers, we are either in the midst of a storm or coming out of one and preparing to go through another storm.  The statement was made following one of the most devastating and destructive storms in recent memory, Hurricane Katrina, occurring in 2005. During this present Hurricane season, we recognize:

This Ever-present Truth

For He commands and raises the stormy wind,

which lifts up the waves of the sea.

They mount up to the heavens, they go down again to the depths;

Their soul melts because of trouble.

He calms the storm, so that its waves are still.

 Then they are glad because they are quiet;

  so He guides them to their desired haven.

 Psalm 107:25-26, 29-30

 

As we navigate through the stages of our lives,

Mild breezes that caress our days are soon transformed

Into wild gales and floods, as one more storm arrives.

Despite this ever-present truth, we are alarmed

And unprepared for life’s torrential winds and rain,

As the raging storm center races toward our shore,

Gathering force and mounting into a hurricane.

We find ourselves near the eye of the storm once more.

The whirlwind soon passes over and leaves behind

Rising flood waters that would overwhelm the soul,

But through prayer and strong faith we know that we shall find

Courage to endure, though each storm exacts its toll.

God prepares us to go through howling gusts and rain,

With strength between storms, ready to go through again.

Although President Trump proclaimed September 3, 2017, as a National Day of Prayer for the victims of Hurricane Harvey and for our national response to that crisis, we continue to pray for our nation during this time of recovery and preparation.

We conclude with Alvin Slaughter and the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir offering “Peace in the Midst of the Storm”:

Trust: Another definition

September 1, 2017

Psalm 56--4

In the midst of the tempestuous times in which we live, when we are beset on every hand by circumstances that increase our stress levels, we receive strength and comfort by the words of the Psalmist encourage us to trust in God. In thinking about placing our trust in God, I recall an acronym that reveals one way that we can define T-R-U-S-T: Taking Risks Under Stressful Times.

Psalm 56 records David’s response to an extremely stressful situation when he was taken captive by his fierce enemy, the Philistines:

Psalm 56:1-4:

O God, have mercy on me,
for people are hounding me.
My foes attack me all day long.
I am constantly hounded by those who slander me,
and many are boldly attacking me.
But when I am afraid,
I will put my trust in you.
I praise God for what he has promised.
I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?
What can mere mortals do to me?

Additional verses in the Psalms echo the same viewpoint:

Psalm 56:11 (NKJV):

In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?

Psalm 118:6 (NKJV)

The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?

These words found in the Psalms resound in Hebrews 13:5-6 where the bold declaration of what God has said precedes the closing question of the passage:

Hebrews 13:5-7 (Amplified Bible)

5Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]

6So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me?

This passage brings to mind the lyrics to the powerful hymn of the Christian Church “How Firm a Foundation.” The last stanza reinforces the message of the passage from Hebrews which echoes the same sentiments of Psalm 56:4 in a particularly profound way:

“The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I will not, desert to his foes;
that soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never, forsake!”

As believers, we are continually learning to trust in the Lord, particularly during times of great stress. In the midst of the “perilous times” in which we live, times described as “difficult to deal with,” we demonstrate our confidence that God will deliver us, as we look to the Word of God and follow the exhortation to walk

By Faith

Look at the proud; his soul is not straight or right within him,         

but the [rigidly] just and the [uncompromisingly] righteous man shall  

live by his faith and in his faithfulness.

Habakkuk 2:4 [Amplified Bible]

 

The practical aspect of faith is a walk, a lifestyle:

Moment by moment, we walk by faith, not by what we see,

Knowing that this kind of faith propels us to victory.

Even though some may misunderstand and seek to revile,

The shield of faith counters fiery darts of the enemy’s thrust.

We trust God, despite all the hinderer might do or say.

Being fully persuaded, we learn to trust and obey.

We persist and press on: signs of our perpetual trust,

For faith directly reflects our relationship with the Lord.

Walking from victory to victory will not seem odd,

For whatever we desire according to the Word,

We shall have when we pray and put our trust in the Lord.

For true faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God.

Ever moving toward the dawning of a new day, the eighth,

We still trust and obey, knowing the just shall live by faith.

We close with a musical medley of trust:  “Trust and Obey” and “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus.”

After 44 years, still more in store

August 31, 2017

As Labor Day approaches, once I again, I wax reflective, recalling a most significant event occurring on the last day of the month preceding—August 31, 1973. Ah, I remember it well, the day Brenda Joyce Warren and Lonnell Edward Johnson exchanged wedding vows. My heart continues to overflow with gratitude to God, as I once again croon in my heart the lyrics to our song “You make me feel brand new”:

In celebration of this joyous occasion are these words:

After these forty years and four

 He who finds a wife finds what is good,

gaining favor from the Lord.

 Proverbs 18:22

 

After these forty years and four there is still more in store.

We look back and then ahead after all is said and done.

Still standing before Him: one plus one plus one making one.

We have arrived at another triumphant place to some,

But to us we know that the best is always yet to come.

We were for one another the one we both had we prayed for.

God drew us together to love one another all our days.

After these forty years and four there is still more in store.

For countless blessings overflowing we give you the praise.

Striving to become one, unified in the bond of peace,

God’s favor will never diminish but only increase.

We stand again with open hands and heart that He might see

Our desire to serve and to be all you called us to be.

After these forty years and four there is still more in store.

 

Listen to “our song”: You make me feel brand new

Total solar eclipse: Prelude to the Great Sign

August 21, 2017

Solar Eclipse

Today, August 21, 2017, the nation, indeed, the whole world is directing its attention toward the solar eclipse of the sun, described as “the sight of a lifetime.” This rare astronomical event occurs when the New Moon moves between the Sun and Earth, blocking out the sun and casting a shadow on parts of Earth for a limited amount of time. This path of the eclipse will cover 14 states, stretching from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Columbia, South Carolina. Observers outside this path will still see a partial eclipse where the moon covers part of the sun’s disk. Because of modern technology, this event will be the widely viewed total eclipse ever.

Many observers are trying to decipher the meaning of this astronomical phenomenon.  Dr. Dale Sides points out what he describes as the Christological significance of the event said to be a prelude to “The Great Sign” spoken of in Revelation 12:1-2.

Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.

On September 23, thirty-three days after today’s total eclipse, Rosh Shoshana, the Jewish New Year, will occur,  announcing the 120th Jubilee Year in the Hebrew calendar. According to Sides, this astronomical phenomenon is designed to display Jesus Christ and the glory of his second coming.

Christians, in particular, view the increasing frequency of current cosmic phenomena as “signs of the times and the end of the age,” referring to “signs and wonders” said to occur before the return of Jesus Christ spoken of in Luke 21:25-28:

25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;

26 Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.

27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draws near.

With such signs and wonders appearing in the sun, moon, and stars, observers of  times and seasons are more certain than ever that Christ’s return is at hand; indeed, for countless Christians, their redemption appears to be drawing closer and closer, closer than it has ever been, as this poem reveals:

Signs and Wonders Still

The heavens declare the glory of God;

And the firmament shows His handiwork.

Day unto day utters speech,

And night unto night reveals knowledge.

Psalm 19:1-2

 

Signs and wonders still abound in the daytime skies;

Principalities and powers assault and strive.

This solar eclipse witnessed with protected eyes:

A bold prelude before the Daystar shall arrive.

By looking above, we determine where we are.

The heavens declare the wonders of God’s glory;

Maker of sun and moon, calling by name each star,

Unfolds this tapestry for those with eyes to see.

The mystery of His will is now clearly revealed,

For we have an even more sure prophetic word.

On display by night and day, no longer concealed,

Such signs and wonders confirm the Word of the Lord.

Behold! The beloved bridegroom stands at the door:

Our redemption is nearer than ever before.

 

The song “Redemption Draweth Nigh” further reinforces this message:

Great deliverance

August 17, 2017

 

Genesis 45--7

Today’s blog entry examines the Quote of the Day for August 17, 2017, from David Wilkerson:

“How quickly we forget God’s great deliverances in our lives. How easily we take for granted the miracles he performed in our past.”

In the midst overwhelming circumstances that challenge our faith, we can become so quickly embroiled in the present that we sometimes forget that we have been entangled in seemingly impossible situations in the past but God came through and rescued us by a great deliverance.

The expression “great deliverance” is used in Genesis 45 where Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers who have come to Egypt during the time of famine, as he explains the circumstances that led to their arrival:

Genesis 45:7

So God sent me ahead of you to assure your survival in the land, and to keep you alive for a great deliverance.

Joseph assures his brothers that the plans of the Enemy were designed to destroy him, but God’s plans unfolded to bless him that Joseph might be a blessing. Indeed, all things work together for the good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” We can learn from this account, in that so often our current circumstances appear to be an absolute catastrophe, but if we patiently endure these trying circumstances, we will survive and we will reach:

The Other Side of Deliverance

 

We know the Spirit of the Lord God has set us free,

That we might manifest all God desires us to be.

We are empowered to perform miracles and more,

Being anointed to preach glad tidings to the poor.

The brokenhearted will be healed and captives set free.

We shall release from bondage all those bound in prison.

A new day of deliverance waits on the horizon.

To comfort and console all those who mourn in Zion,

We shall give them beauty for ashes, even from the dead.

We shall receive the oil of joy for mourning instead,

The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness,

To be transformed into flourishing trees of righteousness.

For all who risk being called foolish and who take a chance,

Endless joy awaits on the other side of deliverance.

Despite overwhelming circumstances that so often appear to be plummeting to a total disaster, our situation is being transformed into conditions suitable for a great deliverance.

In closing, Matt Maher reminds us that God is our “Deliverer”: