Posts Tagged ‘Embracing Your Life Sentence’

I choose to have a heart that forgives

May 11, 2021

The Verse of the Day for May 11, 2021 encourages believers to forgive one another:                    

Ephesians 4:32 in the Amplified Bible:

Be kind and helpful to one another, tender-hearted [compassionate, understanding], forgiving one another [readily and freely], just as God in Christ also forgave you.

Forgiveness is also a topic discussed in detail in my Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs. Chapter 7 examines “Forgiveness: A Forgotten Factor” in the healing process related to my diagnosis with prostate cancer. Here is an excerpt from that chapter which includes comments on Ephesians 4:32 and other related Scriptures:

Forgiveness is not only a vitally important concept in Christianity, but it has universal application as well. Described as a two-way street, this virtue is eloquently expressed in the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. . . .” The subject is connected to some of the last words that Jesus Christ, who was also brutally slain, as he spoke before his death on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

In addition, Paul also exhorts believers to “be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.” Dr. Arch Hart, Christian psychologist, offers a definition of forgiveness that seems to be particularly applicable in the situations with where one individual has hurt another in some way: “Forgiveness is giving up my right to hurt you for hurting me.”

What does it mean to forgive?

To forgive means: to send away, dismiss, set free; to acquit by a verdict; to give no punishment to the guilty person and to view the guilty person as if he is innocent. Another definition means to let loose or set at liberty (a debtor).

Literally to forgive means to “give for.” You give to those who choose not to give. This poem by John Oxenham expresses a profound truth about love and giving:

Love ever lives, outlives forgives,

And while it stands with open hands it lives,

For this is love’s prerogative:

To give and give and give.

You actually could keep adding “and give” to last line ad infinitum. For such love expresses endless giving.

Some of the lyrics to the song “Please Forgive Me” reinforce this truth.

God first gave to us so that we might live.

We give to others when we learn to forgive.

Jesus, our example so perfect and true,

Said, “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.”

I forgive you. I forgive you.

I forgive you. I forgive you.

I forgive you this time. I forgive you each time.

I forgive you.

When we practice forgiving, we apply the principle of “giving and receiving.”

Luke 6:38 relates this principle:

Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

When we forgive, we also recall another expression of truth by Jesus who said, “It more blessed to give than to receive.” In a situation where one person offers forgiveness and another receives forgiveness. Who is most blessed? I often say, “When you choose to give, you cannot lose, but when you choose not to give you cannot win.” In his book Total Forgiveness, R. T. Kendall states,

“Forgiveness is not total forgiveness until we bless our enemies—and pray for them to be blessed. Forgiving them is a major step; totally forgiving them has fully been achieved when we set God free to bless them. But in this, we are the first to be blessed, and those who totally forgive are blessed the most.”

Dr. Sidney Simon offers this definition of this critical concept:

“Forgiveness is freeing up and putting to better use the energy once consumed by holding grudges, harboring resentments, and nursing unhealed wounds. It is rediscovering the strengths we always had and relocating our limitless capacity to understand and accept other people and ourselves.”

Dr. Robert D. Enright, founder of the International Forgiveness Institute and pioneer researcher with the first scientifically proven forgiveness program in the country, has developed Forgiveness Is a Choice: A Step-by-Step Process for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope. This study guide demonstrates how forgiveness, when approached in the correct manner, benefits the forgiver far more than the forgiven, indicating that forgiveness can reduce anxiety and depression while increasing self-esteem and hopefulness toward one’s future. The title of Dr. Enright’s workbook also brings to mind this poem:

I Choose to Forgive

 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted,

forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 4:32 (NKJV)

I choose to forgive and to release from payment,

To clear the account and forego the debt once more.

Though rightfully owed to me, I choose to forgive,

To be gracious, in spite of the ingratitude.

My desire is to be kind and tenderhearted;

Even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven me,

I rise to the occasion of the Word of God.

Not keeping a record of any wrongs suffered,

I seek to walk in the footsteps of the Savior.

As Joseph, in compassion, assured his brothers

What Satan meant for evil, God fashions for good,

Widen my vision to see from your perspective::

May I also see all things working together

For the good, even in perilous times as these.

We close with Kevin Levar singing “A Heart that Forgives”

More Good News from Dr. J

July 21, 2020

In my most recent blog post for July 19, 2020, I shared one more reminder encouraging believers: “Do not fear.” The heart of the entry came as an excerpt from Chapter 5 of my book Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs.

When diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2000, I did not see “a death sentence” but a “life sentence” that transformed my thinking. I share his holistic strategy to combat prostate cancer, weaving original poetry, Scripture, and a battle plan that shows how I emerged, not just as a survivor but more than a conqueror.

Here is some good news. My triumphant account has been nominated for a book award through Author Academy Elite in the category of Religious Non-fiction. Selection of the Top Ten finalists will be based, in part, on popular vote.

To support Dr. J and participate in voting, go to, and click on the red link for https://authoracademyawards.com/vote2020/“2020 Authors Awards.”Using the Blue Arrow at the top, find the Religious Non-Fiction section, (Category 11) then go down and find his book’s cover, Embracing Your Life Sentence: How To Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs, and click on his book to Vote. The Top Ten Finalists in each category will be invited to present their book synopsis at an Author Academy Awards Red Carpet Gala on October 23, 2020, in Columbus, Ohio. The winners will be announced later that evening at the Author Academy Awards Ceremony where they will be invited to give an acceptance speech.

Thanks for your support, and thanks for sharing the Good News.

National Cancer Survivors Day: We are more than conquerors

June 7, 2020

Cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide. Although the number of patients diagnosed with cancer appears to be increasing, cancer patients overall are living longer. While the number of cancer survivors in the United States continues to go up, a new report by the American Cancer Society – in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute – estimates more than 16.9 million cancer survivors are alive in the US today with more than 32 million survivors worldwide. We all know someone whose life has been touched by cancer.

On the first Sunday in June, National Cancer Survivors Day, communities across the U.S. and abroad hold celebrations to acknowledge the cancer survivors in their community, to raise awareness of the ongoing challenges cancer survivors face because of their disease, and – most importantly – to celebrate life.

According to the National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation, administrator for the celebration, “A ‘survivor’ is anyone living with a history of cancer – from the moment of diagnosis through the remainder of life.”

As a twenty-one-year prostate cancer survivor, I acknowledge that three words– “You’ve got cancer”: whether said to a loved one or to you, can change your life forever. While some may see cancer as a death sentence, I see it as a “life sentence” that transformed my thinking.

In celebration of National Cancer Survivor Day, I would like to share an excerpt from my book where I recount part of my journey of faith following my cancer diagnosis. Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs weaves original poetry and Scripture into my battle plan to show how I emerged, as not just a survivor but more than a conqueror.

More than a Conqueror

I posted a blog entry on Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe on June 4, 2017, the first Sunday in June. The post focused on what I called the Word of the Day, which in this case was “survivor.” In its most literal sense, the term means “one who survives.” FreeDictionary.com offers this series of definitions of the verb “to survive” as an action verb that has an object to receive its action. In this case, to survive cancer—

1. To live longer than; outlive.
2. To live, persist, or remain usable through any adverse situation.
3. To cope with (a trauma or setback); persevere after.
The verb is derived from Latin—supervivere, combining the prefix super + vīvere, to live.

Having been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2000, I have come to understand what it means to be a cancer survivor on a deeply personal level. I recognize a survivor as one who, after encountering an extremely adverse situation, is revived to not only survive but to thrive. Jesus Christ, the ultimate example of a survivor, endured the cross, despising the shame, and after undergoing unimaginable physical abuse, along with the emotional and psychological trauma of the highest degree, arose triumphantly over death itself. Like Christ, I have been revived not only to survive but to thrive, having been transformed from victim to victor.

The true essence of who I am as a believer in Christ is expressed in Romans 8:37:

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us.

The Amplified Bible puts it this way—

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

The expression “more than conquerors” is translated in the Greek New Testament from the verb hupernikao, a compound word with the prefix huper—a form of the same prefix found in survive—meaning over, beyond, above exceed, more than. Today, common expressions of the preposition would say over and above or above and beyond. The stem would be nikao, translated “to conquer, prevail, overcome, overpower, prevail.” Although translated as such, being more than conquerors or super conquerors, is not who we are, but it is what we do, how we live. We completely and overwhelmingly conqueror in the present tense with continuous action; we prevail mightily every day of our lives.

Each year, I reflect with gratitude to God for being alive and being able to cherish another year of life. As is my tradition, I sometimes compose a poem of celebration on my birthday. Most remarkably, Romans 8:37 was the epigraph or introduction for a poem composed on my 74th birthday, expressing my new identity in light of the Word for the Day for Cancer Survivors Day and every day I draw breath:

Embracing Your Life Sentence—More than a Conqueror

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors
and gain an overwhelming victory through Him
who loved us [so much that He died for us].
—Romans 8:37 (AMP)

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

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

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

Steven Curtis Chapman offers a musical summation of this post: “More than Conquerors”:


Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs
is available through Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and bookstores everywhere.

Reflecting on God’s goodness: If it had not been for the Lord

February 1, 2020

This morning I wake up and begin my day in grateful praise to God to see another day. I have so much to be thankful for as I reflect upon the goodness of God. I think of Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs, my book where I share the challenges I faced and the victories I’ve won in my battle against prostate cancer. Chapter 4 closes with a reference to Psalm 124 which I would read aloud in the New Living Translation over and over. Here the Psalmist stimulates my thinking with one of those “What if?” questions.

Psalm 124
A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. A psalm of David.

1 What if the LORD had not been on our side?
Let all Israel repeat:
2 What if the LORD had not been on our side
when people attacked us?
3 They would have swallowed us alive
in their burning anger.
4 The waters would have engulfed us;
a torrent would have overwhelmed us.
5 Yes, the raging waters of their fury
would have overwhelmed our very lives.
6 Praise the LORD,
who did not let their teeth tear us apart!
7 We escaped like a bird from a hunter’s trap.
The trap is broken, and we are free!
8 Our help is from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
6 Praise the Lord,
who did not let their teeth tear us apart!

Verse 1 in the King James Version 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 my side,
I would have drowned in the sea from the tears I cried.
I shudder to think just where I would be today.
I would have lost my mind or turned and walked away,
But I learned that God is faithful—this cannot be denied.

He was there to guide when I was tempted and tried,
My shelter from the storm where I could run and hide.
He was my deliverer—that is all I 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 me and turned the tide.
Pressing toward the mark, dawning of a brand-new day,
Through all my trials I learned to watch, fight and pray.
The Lord is my keeper; in Him I confide:
If it had not been for the Lord.

We close this time of reflection with “Our Help is in the Name of the Lord,” Christian worship and scripture song by Esther Mui:

 

Still perfecting the art of patience

December 28, 2018

A recent blog entry examined a passage from James 1:2-4 which ended by focusing on patience. The discussion of this timeless topic also brought to mind my newly published book: Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs. Here is an excerpt from Chapter 8 which opens with this statement from Brian Adams:

Learn the art of patience. Apply discipline to your thoughts when they become anxious over the outcome of a goal. Impatience breeds anxiety, fear, discouragement and failure. Patience creates confidence, decisiveness, and a rational outlook, which eventually leads to success.ing

Throughout the entire healing process of my encounter with prostate cancer, I have been learning to perfect the art of patience by waiting on the Lord. The closing verses of my favorite psalm also come to mind.

Psalm 27:13-14 (NKJV)

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
that I would see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
14 Wait on the LORD; be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the LORD!

In the Bible the word for patience has been translated to mean endurance or perseverance, steadfastly bearing up under and remaining faithful while waiting. Patience or perseverance is a fruit of the spirit that should be evident in our lives, as we wait on the Lord.
When we examine one of the words translated—patience—we see a compound word meaning “to stay, remain, abide,” literally abiding under. The verb form means to stay under or behind, remain; figuratively, to undergo, that is bear (trials), have the fortitude, to persevere—abide, endure, take patiently, suffer, tarry behind.

The root idea of the noun is that of remaining under some discipline, subjecting one’s self to something which demands the yielding of the will to something against which one naturally would rebel. It means cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy—enduring, patience, patient continuance (waiting). It is a bearing up in a way that honors and glorifies our heavenly Father, not merely to grin and bear it.

James 5:11 provides an excellent example of the word for patience being used as a verb and as a noun in an individual who embodies the character trait of patient endurance. The New Living Translation offers this rendering containing a familiar phrase that encompasses a character trait most often associated with Job—

We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him in the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy.

The Book of Job is a classic example of the principle of first usage and first spiritual principle, which highlights as particularly important the first time that a concept is mentioned in the Bible. E.W. Bullinger and other Bible scholars surmise that the first book written was the Book of Job, believed to have been composed by Moses. Job, whom Chuck Swindoll described as a “man of heroic endurance,” was a real person, and his story is one of the first demonstrations of many spiritual principles, one of the first being that God is “full of compassion and tender mercy” and that He rewards those who demonstrate patience. Although it is said that patience is its own reward, God also rewards patience, as so clearly demonstrated at the end of the Book of Job. Recall Job 42:10—

And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the
LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.

After being introduced to Graham Cooke and his book on crafted prayer, I recall reading a statement he made regarding prayer and patience, part of the introduction to the psalm that closes Chapter 8—

A Prayer for Patience

My suggestion for people in a season of birth or upgrade
is to write out a prayer for patience and pray it every day.
—Graham Cooke

For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance,
so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God,
and thus receive and carry away [and enjoy to the full] what is promised.
—Hebrews 10:36 (Amplified Bible)

We look back and pause and then look ahead to see
Clearly who God is and who He has called us to be.
We still journey down the road less traveled by
And pray that patience may serve as our trusted ally.
We must say “No” to the pressures of this life
And say “Yes” to the rest God gives, despite the strife.
As we stay our mind on Him, we abide in peace.
When we praise God, works of the enemy decrease.
May we remain and not fall by the wayside as some
But like Job wait until at last our change shall come.
Patient endurance seems delayed for some reason,
But fruit abounds to those who wait in their season.
We pray that in this time of transition and shift
We will embrace waiting as a wonderful gift.

We close with encouraging from John Waller:
“While I’m Waiting”:

Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs is now available wherever books are sold and online. For more details check out https://lonnelledwardjohnson.com.