Posts Tagged ‘Lonnell Johnson’

By reason of strength: Thanking God for my life

June 17, 2022

With each passing year, my heart overflows with gratitude to God who has blessed me to be alive another year. This year, 2022, is especially meaningful in that I celebrate my eightieth birthday. As is my custom, I compose a poem to celebrate my birthday and give all glory, honor, and praise to my gracious Heavenly Father. Here is my composition for this year.   

A psalm celebration for my Eightieth Birthday

June 17, 2022

By Reason of Strength

 The days of our lives are seventy years;

And if by reason of strength they are eighty years,

 Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow;

For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

 Psalm 90:10 (NKJV)

By reason of strength that only comes from the Lord,

I have reached another milestone in my journey,

Sustained by the life-giving power of God’s Word,

As I proclaim great is your faithfulness toward me

And attempt one more time to thank you for my life:

For all you say I am and all I will become.

Praise God  for countless blessings: for my lovely wife

And daughters and their families and heirs still to come

Who will honor and love and serve you all their days.

Though I have known you, may I know you even more,

While  walking in wisdom, still numbering my days

As your favor abounds with greater blessings in store.

God, the Father of all grace, goes to any length

To protect and to provide by reason of strength.

“Dear God” by Smokie Norful captures the essence of what I attempt to express in my song of celebration:

Prostate Cancer Awareness Month 2021

September 19, 2021

As the ninth month of the year continues to unfold, we sound the trumpet to alert the public that September has been designated as Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. As we focus on this important health concern among American men, we revise and repost this entry.

About 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime. Last year, over 170,000 men received such a diagnosis. Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men, especially in African American men. However, prostate cancer develops mainly in older men. About 6 out of 10 cases are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older, and it is rare before age 40. The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 66.

Although prostate cancer can be a serious disease, the good news is that most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it—”I am a living witness!” In fact, in the United States, more than 2.9 million men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lives are still alive today. A diagnosis of prostate cancer or any other cancer or debilitating disease is not a “death sentence,” but it can be a “life sentence” to build your faith and trust in God.

During National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, we remember those we have lost to prostate cancer and celebrate survivors, as we renew our commitment to preventing, detecting, and treating this frequently occurring illness. During September, we encourage men to have a health check-up and talk to their doctor about prostate cancer. In fact, September 17 is also designated Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day. Light blue is the color of the ribbon bringing attention to prostate cancer.

Blue signifies the blue skies or the life-giving air and often symbolizes hope or good health. As the poet proclaims:

pastel blue
lighter, brighter
subtle twinge
of powder blue
like Betty Lou
up to sky blue
and back

As a prostate cancer survivor, I recognize the personal significance of September as Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Receiving a diagnosis of prostate cancer in 2000 was life-changing for me, as I asked God what to do. He gave me a holistic strategy, a battle plan, that took me down the road less traveled by that ultimately led to my being not just as a survivor but more than a conqueror. I share my testimony in Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs. The book closes with an original poem of celebration with Romans 8:37 as its introduction, expressing my new identity not, just during Prostate Cancer Awareness Month but 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,

We close with Steven Curtis Chapman reinforcing the message “More than Conquerors”:

My book is available through and wherever books are sold and through my website: Check out another tribute to Prostate Cancer Awareness Month on and celebrate the goodness and the grace of God with me.

Dr. J is celebrating as not just a survivor but more than a conqueror.

Celebrating 47 years: To God be the glory

August 31, 2020
This photo was taken in 1973 in Washington DC during our first year of marriage.

Today is a special day that commemorates a special event occurring 47 years ago when my beloved Brenda and I exchanged vows. This anniversary is especially significant in that we have returned to live in Northern Virginia, just beyond the Nation’s Capital where we first met in 1971. Since moving back to the DC area, I have connected with the VA Hospital in the District as a patient where I worked as a staff pharmacist during the first two years of our marriage.

While driving to my first appointment at the oncology clinic, I drove through an area where I had a most remarkable experience that some might call a “prophetic encounter” where I envisioned the “woman of my dreams” whom I would someday meet. That experience occurred in 1970, and I met Brenda in 1971. Subsequently, we were married in 1973. Driving through NW Washington, DC brought to mind this poetic tribute of love inspired by an experience occurring fifty years ago:

Before I Knew You

for my beloved Brenda

I thought of you long before I ever knew you.
When through the mist I beheld your lovely face.
Before our two lives touched, my heart reached out to you.

I could not speak your name, yet somehow, I knew you
Would be all I could desire in style and grace.
I thought of you long before I ever knew you.

Alone, I saw the sunset, told myself you too
Needed a dearest friend to share this special place.
Before our two lives touched, my heart reached out to you.

Alone, I passed the time and asked myself who you
Were dreaming of, yet still longing to embrace
I thought of you long before I ever knew you.

I yearned to give my life, to share my soul with you
Who would make me feel whole and fill my empty space.
Before our two lives touched, my heart reached out to you.

God stretched out his hand, and then He gently drew you
To me with a true love that time cannot erase.
I thought of you long before I ever knew you.
Before our two lives touched, my heart reached out to you.

When Brenda and I met, we learned that she had been praying to meet the man of her dreams, just as I had been praying to meet the woman of my dreams. This stanza from another original poem “A Place Called Gilgal” reveals:

We each prayed and God answered, as I remember.
Before I knew you, I reached toward you in my heart,
Where I had prepared, set aside a special place.
Until we met, I had been patiently waiting.
Our lives were entwined, and we were forever changed,
As we vowed to walk in God’s love from that moment.

Indeed, our lives have been forever changed. We have been blessed beyond measure with two lovely daughters, Melissa and Angela, and their husbands, two mighty men of valor, William and Shajuan. Most amazingly, today is the first day of school for our first grandson, Kingston. Without question, the blessings of the Lord continue to abound toward us.

I close this entry with this song “You’re the answer to my prayer” by Skip Ewing.

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

Thoughts about the 4th Day of Creation on January 4

January 4, 2012

On the 4th day of the first month in the New Year, which began on a Sunday, I happened to think of the 4th day of creation.  Biblical scholar and prolific writer, E.W. Bullinger, discusses various aspects of the number 4 in his book Number in Scripture: Its Supernatural Design and Spiritual Significance:

Now the number four is made up of three and one (3+1=4), and it denotes, therefore, and marks that which follows the revelation of God in the Trinity, namely, His creative works. He is known by the things that are seen. Hence the written revelation commences with the words, “In-the-beginning God CREATED.” Creation is therefore the next thing—the fourth thing, and the number four always has reference to all that is created. It is emphatically the number of Creation; of man in his relation to the world as created. . . .

The fourth day saw the material creation finished (for on the fifth and sixth days it was only the furnishing and peopling of the earth with living creatures). The sun, moon, and stars completed the work, and they were to give light upon the earth which had been created, and to rule over the day and over the night

Genesis 1:14-19.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. God made two great lights – the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning – the fourth day.

Johnson and Johnson

This painting by Aaron Douglas accompanied “The Creation” in James Weldon Johnson’s God’s Trombones: 7 Negro Sermons in Verse.

Renowned African American poet, James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938), offers a vivid description of Genesis in “The Creation” taken from God’’s Trombones, 7 Negro Sermons in Verse, one of his most celebrated works. This opening excerpt describes the fourth day:

 And God stepped out on space,
And He looked around and said,
“I’m lonely —
I’ll make me a world.”

And far as the eye of God could see
Darkness covered everything,
Blacker than a hundred midnights
Down in a cypress swamp.

Then God smiled,
And the light broke,
And the darkness rolled up on one side,
And the light stood shining on the other,
And God said, “That’s good!”

Then God reached out and took the light in His hands,
And God rolled the light around in His hands
Until He made the sun;
And He set that sun a-blazing in the heavens.
And the light that was left from making the sun
God gathered it up in a shining ball
And flung it against the darkness,
Spangling the night with the moon and stars.
Then down between
The darkness and the light
He hurled the world;
And God said, “That’s good!”

For a powerful rendition of the entire poem recited by Wintley Phipps, click below.

As a practicing poet, I have been notably influenced by James Weldon Johnson, with whom I have a number of things in common. In addition to being poets with the same last name, we have both taught literature at historically Black institutions, and both of us have been involved in careers outside of teaching, but most remarkably we both share the same birthday, June 17. I am not exactly sure what all of this meaning. That is perhaps the topic of another conversation.

This photo taken from the Hubble Telescope displays some of the “galaxies of countless stars.”

A few years ago I recall reading about newly discovered rings around Saturn and other phenomena in outer space that caused me to see and appreciate the magnitude of the creative power of God in a new way. This information is staggering in light of the demonstrated power of God manifested through the Spoken Word of God recorded in Genesis where the account of the fourth day indicates, “And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. . .” Then almost as a modest aside, we learn that “He made the stars also”:  All the starry hosts with its millions upon millions of stars God made, each of which He numbered and called by name.  That particular passage from Genesis inspired the following poem:

“. . . He Made the Stars Also”

 Genesis 1:16

Seventy thousand million million million stars

Ten times more than grains of sand that cover the earth;

Galaxies that span far beyond Saturn and Mars:

Each star formed and fashioned and called by name at birth.

Ten times more than grains of sand that cover the earth;

Sparkling the night with lights, God made the stars also.

Each star formed and fashioned and called by name at birth.

The heavens declare God’s glory that men might know.

Sparkling the night with lights, God made the stars also:

Witness to Abraham of what was yet to be.

The heavens declare God’s glory that men might know.

As the stars and grains of sand, so shall your seed be.

All creation unified by a single bond.

Galaxies that span far beyond Saturn and Mars

Express the breadth of God’s love, reaching far beyond

Seventy thousand million million million stars.

On the fourth day of the New Year, I happened to think of the 4th day of Creation and thought I would share my thoughts in this blog.