Posts Tagged ‘Good good father’

Celebrating the Life of Lonnie Johnson: Ordinary Man of Extraordinary Deeds

December 2, 2022

Today, December 2, 2022, would have been the 100th birthday of my father, Lonnie Johnson, who passed away in 1996. I would like to share a few words of reflection upon the life of Lonnie Johnson: An Ordinary Man of Extraordinary Deeds.

Born in rural Arkansas in 1922, Lonnie Johnson eventually moved to Gary, Indiana where he met my mother, the lovely Jessie Marie Garrett, whom he married. In 1992, my parents celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary in a special ceremony reaffirming their marriage vows. I had the absolute joy of officiating on that beautiful occasion. For a man to remain married to the same woman for more than fifty years is indeed an extraordinary accomplishment, but this is just one feature of the man whose life we celebrate.

My father did not have much formal education. Although he didn’t complete high school, he knew the value of education and instilled the importance of education in his children and grandchildren. My sister Cheryl has a Master’s degree and is a retired schoolteacher. I am a Professor of English who has taught for more than 40 years at the collegiate level. Unquestionably, we would not be where we are today without the support of our parents, but especially our father who worked very hard to put us through undergraduate school. During my second senior year of a five-year program, my sister and I were both in college at the same time, yet I never heard him complain. For forty years he worked as a crane operator in the Billet Mill at US Steel. For him, hard work was a way of life, and he passed that value on to me and my sister.

Not only did my father and mother support my sister and me in our college years, but my parents also made provisions to provide support for their grandchildren when each of them graduated from high school. In a real sense, they established a kind of scholarship fund–The Lonnie and Jessie Johnson Grandkids Scholarship fund. My Dad used to collect cans and put the money into the fund for his grandchildren. Among his greatest sources of pride were his children and grandchildren: my sister’s two sons Keith and Brian and my two daughters, Melissa and Angela.

When I reflect upon my father, I recall that he was “always there.”  Just as he was proud of his family, he was also proud of his home. My family and I lived in various parts of the country, and Mother and Dad would visit from time to time. After a few days, Dad would get restless and want to get back home. He loved his home. During the time that my sister and I were in college, my parents were purchasing a home: in fact, my parents purchased two homes–another extraordinary accomplishment for a man such as my father.

When I think of my father, I think of a good man who was always doing good. I recall the words of John Wesley who challenged Christians with these words: “Do all the good you can, to all the people you can, in all the places you can, at all times you can, as long as ever you can.”  I believe that the good men do lives on after them. It has been said that the greatest gift you can give is a good example. If that is the case, then Lonnie Johnson has left us an incredible gift. I know that his legacy lives on in my sister and me, and our children, and grandchildren, and in generations to come, as we follow his example of the strength of character and integrity, his quiet strength and diligence.

I close with a poem written in tribute to my father and recited at his memorial service.

Plainsong

for Lonnie Johnson

1922-1996     

Your plainsong I know by heart,                          

a hymn stanza learned with ease,            

lined out like the flow of chanted words,

syllables fused into a single sound:

I-love-the-Lord-He-heard-my-cry”

raised and repeated over countless Sunday mornings.

Your plainsong I continue to sing, expressed not in words

but in faithful deeds borne of a heart to serve.

Your rock-solid presence like a mantle clock keeping time

even beyond man’s three score years and ten.

Your plainsong resonates and flows through my being.

I sing with the strength of character, integrity,

unconsciously humming refrains, improvising

common melodies with grace notes, making my own

your plainsong that will not let go of me.

Many times when I think of my father, I am grateful to God that Lonnie Johnson was a good father, a good gift from God our Father, who alone is good. This contemporary worship song comes to mind: a fitting way to close this tribute:

“Good, Good Father” by Chris Tomlin:

God is perfect in all His ways

July 7, 2018

 Psalm 18--30

The Verse of the Day for July 7, 2018 clearly reveals one of the unique characteristics of who God is and all He does. God Almighty, the creator of the heavens and the Earth, is the epitome of perfection, as the Psalmist declares:

Psalm 18:30:

As for God, His way is perfect;
The word of the Lord is proven;
He is a shield to all who trust in Him.

Amplified Bible states this truth this way:

As for God, His way is blameless. The word of the Lord is tested [it is perfect, it is faultless]; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.

Likewise the New Living Translation offer this statement:

God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true.

Deuteronomy 32:4 makes the almost identical statement in the New Living Translation:

He is the Rock; his deeds are perfect. Everything he does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright he is!

In the Gospels, Jesus Christ commands his followers to be perfect, in the same way God is perfect:

Matthew 5:48 (NKJV)

Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

The Amplified Bible puts it this way:

You, therefore, will be perfect [growing into spiritual maturity both in mind and character, actively integrating godly values into your daily life], as your heavenly Father is perfect.

At first glance, to “be perfect” seems to be an impossible task, but certainly, God, our gracious, patient, heavenly Father, would never ask us to do anything that would be impossible to accomplish.

Ligonier Teaching Ministries, founded by the late RC Sproul, comments on the concept of being perfect:

In the first place, the word that is translated “perfect” literally means “be complete.” So often, the New Testament and the Old Testament will describe people as being upright and righteous—not in the sense that they have achieved total moral perfection, but rather that they have reached a singular level of maturity in their growth in terms of spiritual integrity. However, in this statement, it’s certainly legitimate to translate it using the English word perfect. For example, “Be ye complete as your heavenly Father is complete.”

Colossians 2:10 reminds us this reality:

And you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

So in the sense that we are complete, lacking nothing, we are perfect, just as God desires us to be. We are what God says we are: “Perfect!” The source of our becoming perfect as we mature is the Word of God, given that we might be “perfected”–that is to be whole, complete, fully equipped, lacking nothing needed to complete the work set before us. Note what 2 Timothy has to say:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

The Amplified Bible broadens our understanding of this passage:

16 All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]; 17 so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, outfitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Psalm 19:10 also reminds us:

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;

When believers look in the mirror of the matchless Word of God, they behold their true identity, perfected in the precepts of Almighty God’s changeless law. We now behold:

Our True Identity

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord,

are changed into the same image from glory to glory,

even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

II Corinthians 3:18

 

We look in the mirror of God’s Word, and we see,

Not only who we are but who we shall become,

Reflected in our eyes, our true identity.

 

Released from shackles of a slave mentality,

The bondage of Egypt we have now overcome.

We look in the mirror of God’s Word, and we see.

 

Perfected to reveal all we were designed to be,

In our hearts we have prepared for God a new home,

Reflected in our eyes, our true identity.

 

“Perfect and complete”: our new reality:

As born-again models of the Father’s Kingdom.

We look in the mirror of God’s Word, and we see.

 

God’s blessings in double measure abundantly,

Flowing by the spirit in knowledge and wisdom,

Reflected in our eyes, our true identity.

 

We live to fulfill our prophetic destiny,

As joys unfold with even greater joys to come.

We look in the mirror of God’s Word and we see

Reflected in our eyes, our true identity.

As Christian believers we study the Scriptures to show ourselves approved to God, and in doing so we learn more about God and His expectations for His people. Just as God is perfect in all His ways, He desires the followers of Lord Jesus Christ to be perfect, as God our Father is perfect. We close with Chris Tomlin, singing of God as a “Good, Good Father”, as the chorus resounds to remind us “You are perfect in all your ways.”