Posts Tagged ‘ordination’

Reflecting on ordination and more

August 11, 2017

Ephesians 4--1

I begin this day, August 11, 2017, reflecting on an event of supreme significance occurring forty-three years ago, when I was ordained to the Christian ministry. Biblical scholar, E.W. Bullinger discusses the symbolic significance of the number 43, which is a combination of forty and three:

The number 40 is the product of 5 and 8, and points to the action of grace (5), leading to and ending in revival and renewal (8).This is certainly the case where forty relates to a period of evident probation. . . . A period of testing.

Now the number three stands for that which is solid, real, substantial, complete, and entire. . . All things that are specially complete are stamped with this number three, representing divine completeness or perfection.

Many times periods of reflection result in a poetic output, as Wordsworth observes, “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” Today’s occasion brought to mind three poems written related to my calling to the ministry:

Although my ordination was the public recognition of my individual response to the call of God to serve, this recognition of my inner prompting to be of greater service transpired long before my actual ordination ceremony on August 11, 1974. I recall as a child being aware of the presence of God, and as I grew older and was introduced to the Bible, I remember reading the passage in Isaiah 6 where the glory of God overwhelms the Prophet, who responds to the question: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Isaiah answers saying, “Here am I, send me.” This simple response resonated within me for years, and I continue to respond to God whereby I first heard His voice and answered:

The Call

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord,

beseech you to walk worthy of the calling

with which you were called,

Ephesians 4:1

 

The call resounds like a repeated name

From the lips of a dear friend who knows you.

I clearly hear my name and see the flame

That lights the path of those whom God foreknew

Would hear and heed a higher destiny.

This calling only God can verify.

My ear cannot hear; my eye cannot see;

Yet within my heart I cannot deny

That I have heard and seen what few will know.

I must arise and strive to reach the place

Where the rivers of understanding flow1

And never doubt God’s purpose and His grace.

I stand in the unbroken line of all

Those who, having heard, rise to heed the call.

Another related poem is “This Year of My Jubilee.”  To understand some of the references in this poem, one must first be familiar with the Old Testament concept of the Sabbath Year observed every seven years. Also known as the “Year of Release,” during this period no farming nor manual labor was to take place. In addition, all debt payments were remitted. At the end of every seven Sabbath Years, a special Sabbatical Year, The Year of Jubilee, was observed, during which time bond-slaves were released from their obligation of servitude, and they were free to leave their masters and go out on their own. These servants, however, could by their freedom of will choose to serve their masters for the rest of their lives in light of the close relationship they had established.

As it turns out, some have calculated 2017 will be another Jubilee Year in the Hebrew calendar, so that this poem is even more significant in that light.

This Year of My Jubilee

Exodus 21:1-6

Leviticus 25:1-17

 

I stand alone clothed only with the wind

At the end of another seventh Sabbath year.

Gathering of blessings now flow through my mind

As the shofar’s call resounds in my ear

To proclaim this year of my jubilee.

I reflect upon the wonders of this grace

Wherein I stand, a bond-slave now made free.

In this golden moment as I embrace

The truth and pledge to love as You command,

Pierce my ear, place Your brand upon my soul;

Enlighten me so that I may understand

That to run to serve is life’s highest goal.

Unfold before me pleasures of Your ways

And renew my vows to serve You all my days.

A year ago, I posted a blog entry entitled “Reflections on a convergence of events,” as my heart overflowed with gratitude to God for being alive to celebrate not only my ordination, but most providentially my wife, Brenda, and I were present to share in the birth of our first grandchild, Kingston Edward Simkins, who made his grand entrance at 5:45 p.m. on August 11, 2016, weighing in at 6 pounds 14 ounces with a 20 and three-quarter inch frame. Later in the day while trying to take in the magnitude of the moment, I recognized that these two events had occurred during August which has been designated as “What will be your legacy month?”

The closing piece in this series of celebratory poems makes reference to the importance of the legacy that one leaves behind:

To Serve and To Sow

Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.

He who continually goes forth weeping,

Bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again

with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

Psalm 126:5, 6

 

I learn to serve and to sow with a joyful heart,

To pour from the fountain of my soul and to give

All my strength to the Lord’s work and to do my part

To complete each task, to build that the Word might live,

For only deeds done for the sake of Christ remain.

The legacy to fulfill God’s will lives beyond

The brief journey of our days filled with joy and pain,

This precious token of our covenant, the bond

Of devotion to the Master, perfected love

Shed abroad in our hearts, enfolded in His peace

That passes understanding, flowing from above.

As I plant and water, our God gives the increase.

Freely I have received that I might come to know

The love of Christ, as I learn to serve and to sow.

I closed my blog post last year with these comments and a music video which still apply today:

Overall, my desire is to leave a legacy of a man called to serve and to minister to the people of God, a legacy that will touch eternity. Indeed, the example that we leave for others to follow is part of our legacy, which should be of concern to everyone, not just during August but every day of our lives. We close with “Find Us Faithful” which reminds Christian believers of the importance of the legacies that they leave:

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Reflections on my legacy:ordination, a grandson, and more

August 18, 2016

Ephesians 4--1

Last Thursday, August 11, 2016 was indeed a special day of celebration, as three significant events converged in a remarkable overflow of gratitude to God.  My day began with a time of reflection and expression of my gratitude to God for my ordination to the Christian ministry which first occurred August 11, 1974. Most providentially my wife, Brenda, and I received news around 1 a.m. that our older daughter, Melissa, had gone into labor, as she and her husband, Will, were expecting their first child. We rushed to be with our daughter and son-in-law to share in the birth of our first grandchild, Kingston Edward Simkins, who made his grand entrance at 4:41 p.m. on August 11, weighing in at 6 pounds 14 ounces with a 20 and three-quarter inch frame. Later in the day while trying to take in the magnitude of the moment, I recognized that these two events had occurred during August which has been designated as “What will be your legacy month?”

Previously, I had commented on the significance of ordination in a blog post:

Ordination is said to be a process whereby individuals are called, chosen and set apart to serve as clergy. It is thought of as a “special sacrament.” Such an entry point for service can begin with “the new birth” experience when one accepts Jesus Christ as savior and endeavors to follow in his steps.  A child, however, who gratefully and joyfully accepts the blessings of the Father, eventually matures to the point of being about the “Father’s business.” In the minds of some, ordination is considered a kind of “rite of passage” which commences a new period of service in ministering to Body of Christ. . . .

In reflecting upon my ordination ceremony which also involved a prayer of consecration, the laying on of hands, and a word of prophecy, all of which have been sources of inspiration and direction over the years, I continue to respond to God whereby I first heard His voice and answered:

The Call

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord,

beseech you to walk worthy of the calling

with which you were called,

Ephesians 4:1

 

 

The call resounds like a repeated name

From the lips of a dear friend who knows you.

I clearly hear my name and see the flame

That lights the path of those whom God foreknew

Would hear and heed a higher destiny.

This calling only God can verify.

My ear cannot hear; my eye cannot see;

Yet within my heart I cannot deny

That I have heard and seen what few will know.

I must arise and strive to reach the place

Where the rivers of understanding flow

And never doubt God’s purpose and His grace.

I stand in the unbroken line of all

Those who, having heard, rise to heed the call.

While reflecting on my calling as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I also thought about the birth of my new grandson, Kingston Edward Simkins, as well as the offspring of my “spiritual son” in Capetown, South Africa, Neil Demas, who named one of his sons after me: Lonnell Edward Johnson Demas. I think of these individuals and others who are a part of my life and part of my response to the question raised during August: “What will be your legacy?”

Kingston Edward Simkins

A website devoted to various holidays, offers this definition of the term: “A legacy is defined as what someone or something is remembered for or what they have left behind that is remembered, revered or has influenced current events and the present day.”

Offspring of my "spiritual son" Neil Demas is Lonnell Edward Johnson Demas of Capetown, South Africa.

Offspring of my “spiritual son,” Neil Demas, is Lonnell Edward Johnson Demas of Capetown, South Africa.

The legacies that are part of our lives at this time we pass on, and they will impact generations to come, as we sow seeds of the Word of God while we live our lives. We anticipate that the seeds that we sow will fall upon fertile ground and abound with fruit, even as this poem suggests:

Legacies

 

I

Faithful and true heroes ever remain

And generate legacies we pass on

To each generation, father to son,

Heart to heart. The light of life left behind

Ever shines to brighten the path of truth,

Raised and then passed on from elder to youth.

 

II

 

Faithful and true heroes ever remain for all

Who hear the mandate and rise to answer God’s call.

Our lives of service are legacies we pass on

To the next generation, from father to son.

With the love of Christ in us, we tear down each wall.

 

We rally to support a brother should he fall.

Our ears have been pierced with the sharp tip of an awl:

A covenant of blood ever seals our union.

Faithful and true heroes ever remain.

 

Spiritual athletes excel beyond glove or ball.

They seek to bring out the best, as iron sharpens iron,

Striving to finish strong and pass on the baton.

On the shoulders of our fathers we now stand tall

To view the future where greater victories are won.

Faithful and true heroes ever remain.

 

Benjamin Disraeli made the statement, “The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.” We are perhaps familiar with the statement, “The greatest gift you can give someone is a good example.” Similar sentiments are also expressed in Proverbs 22:1:

A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold.

Overall, my desire is to leave a legacy of a man called to serve and to minister to the people of God, a legacy that will touch eternity. Indeed, the example that we leave for others to follow is part of our legacy, which should be of concern to everyone, not just during August but every day of our lives. We close with “Find Us Faithful,” a song which reminds Christian believers of the importance of the legacies that they leave:

After 40 years the answer is still yes

December 1, 2015

Yes

Not too long ago, I added a new category of blog entries which I called the “Word for the Day” in addition to the “Verse of the Day” which often becomes the basis for the blog entries that I post. Today’s discussion of a little word of great importance could fall into that category, as I relate the power of “Yes!”, compiled from previous blog entries:

Without question the Word of God is energetic and life-giving, as revealed in Hebrews 4:12:

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Each word in the Word of Life is an expression of power. Luke 1:37 in the King James Version says, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” The American Standard Version offers this translation: “For no word from God shall be void of power.” Indeed, there is life-changing power in a single word from the Word, as the Poet notes:

. . . the power
of the printed word,
the power of a single light,
like a cloven tongue of fire,
to shatter the darkest night.

One of the most powerful words in the English language, in my estimation, is “yes.” With regard to Jesus Christ, Paul makes known this profound truth:

2 Corinthians 1:19-21 (NLT):

19 For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” He is the one whom Silas, Timothy, and I preached to you, and as God’s ultimate “Yes,” he always does what he says.
20 For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.
21 It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us,

“Yes” is used to express affirmation or assent, often used as an affirmative reply. Certainly we are aware of the word as a strong expression of joy, pleasure, or approval. When a player scores the winning shot in an overtime game, often excited fans respond with a vigorous “Yes! Way to go!”

Recently I have been reflecting upon an experience where I said “yes” forty years ago when I enlarged my commitment to serve God when I was asked to develop and teach a class on New Testament History for the first time at a Bible college in Emporia, Kansas in 1976. Today as I continue preparing for the 2015-16 academic year at Carolina College of Biblical Studies in Fayetteville, NC, I marvel at the Providence of God, whereby I continue to answer yes in answer to God’s call.

On Sunday, my wife, Brenda, and I will be installed as one of the Senior Ministers and Associate Pastors, respectively, at Christian Provision Ministries in Sanford, North Carolina where we are presently serving. Ordination is the public recognition of a response of an individual to the call of God to serve. My recognition of this inner prompting to be of greater service transpired a considerable amount before time prior to 1976, however. I recall as a child being aware of the presence of God, and as I grew older and was introduced to the Bible, I remember reading the passage in Isaiah 6 where the glory of God overwhelms the Prophet, who responds to the question: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us.” Isaiah answers saying, “Here am I, send me.” This simple response resonated within me for years, and I simply acknowledged the call to ministry and said “Yes.”

In reflecting upon the intersection of these meaningful experiences, I recall this poem written in celebration of the call of God and my response:

Forty Years ago

The number 40 is the product of 5 and 8,

and points to the action of grace (5),

leading to and ending in revival and renewal (8).

This is certainly the case where forty relates

to a period of evident probation.

E.W. Bullinger

Number in Scripture

Forty years ago in a kairos moment in time,

I was forever changed, beyond all reason and rhyme.

I answered God’s call, offered my life, and I said “Yes.”

The exact path my life would take I could only guess

The valleys I must descend, the mountains I must climb.

I would need great courage, symbolized in fragrant thyme

That graced my neck, as I was striving to reach my prime

Forty years ago.

To stumble and fall along the way is no crime,

For my earnest desire was to minister full-time;

Despite the challenges, to serve God nevertheless,

To go where I am sent, to please the Lord and to bless.

With a simple “Yes,” I began my quest toward heights sublime

Forty years ago.

William Nelson offers “A Song for my Ordination.” to close out today’s blog entry.

Walking worthy of the calling

August 11, 2015

Ephesians 4--1August is a special month, in that during the eighth month, which symbolizes “new beginnings,” I am celebrating a particular milestone in my life. An event of supreme significance occurred 41 years ago when I was ordained to the Christian ministry. Ordination is the public recognition of a response of an individual to the call of God to serve. The recognition of this inner prompting to be of greater service may have transpired a considerable amount time prior to the actual ordination ceremony. I recall as a child being aware of the presence of God, and as I grew older and was introduced to the Bible, I remember reading the passage in Isaiah 6 where the glory of God overwhelms the Prophet, who responds to the question: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us.” Isaiah answers sayings, “Here am I, send me.” This simple response resonated within me for years, as I also came to understand more fully the words from 2 Timothy 1:9 (NIV):

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,

This verse brings to mind that most memorable event that occurred August 11, 1974. Today I reflect upon my ordination ceremony which also involved a prayer of consecration, the laying on of hands, and a word of prophecy, all of which have been sources of inspiration and direction over the years. I continue to respond to God whereby I first heard His voice and answered:

The Call             

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord,

beseech you to walk worthy of the calling

with which you were called,

Ephesians 4:1

The call resounds like a repeated name

From the lips of a dear friend who knows you.

I clearly hear my name and see the flame

That lights the path of those whom God foreknew

Would hear and heed a higher destiny.

This calling only God can verify.

My ear cannot hear; my eye cannot see;

Yet within my heart I cannot deny

That I have heard and seen what few will know.

I must arise and strive to reach the place

Where the rivers of understanding flow

And never doubt God’s purpose and His grace.

I stand in the unbroken line of all

Those who, having heard, rise to heed the call.

I also make reference to my ordination and celebrate this milestone in this poem:

Forty-one Years Ago

Forty has long been universally recognized as an important number,

both on account of the frequency of its occurrence, and the uniformity

of its association with a period of probation, trial, and chastisement. . . .

It is the product of 5 and 8, and points to the action of grace (5),

leading to and ending in revival and renewal (8). (The number eight

also signifies “a new beginning”)

There can be no doubt as to the significance of this primary number [one].  

In all languages it is the symbol of unity.

E.W. Bullinger

Forty-one years ago, the passion to fulfill the call

inflamed deep within my soul a desire to give my all.

In this golden moment, past, present, and future all converge

Where the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God emerge,

As words that God spoke over my life I vividly recall.

“The Teacher” laid hands upon me to bless and to install

Me to lead God’s people and to give my all in all.

In my mind I stand in another place where two roads diverged

Forty-one years ago.

Renewed in strength to run through a troop and leap over a wall,

To fulfill God’s divine calling nothing can ever forestall.

The rivers of understanding God’s purpose and grace still merge.

Today I stand triumphant in Christ Jesus while on the verge

Of a renewed commitment to give all or nothing at all:

Forty-one years ago.

The accompanying video also invites us to “Answer God’s call”

Anointed, a contemporary Christian musical group, offer “The Call.”

2 Timothy 1:9: Reflecting on The Call

March 9, 2015

                                          2_Timothy_1-9

From 2 Timothy 1:9 (NIV) comes the Verse of the Day for March 9, 2015:

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,

This verse brings to mind a most memorable event that occurred 41 years ago when I was ordained to the Christian ministry. In reflecting upon my ordination ceremony which also involved a prayer of consecration, the laying on of hands, and a word of prophecy, all of which have been sources of inspiration and direction over the years, I continue to respond to God whereby I first heard His voice and answered:

The Call             

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord,

beseech you to walk worthy of the calling

with which you were called,

Ephesians 4:1

The call resounds like a repeated name

From the lips of a dear friend who knows you.

I clearly hear my name and see the flame

That lights the path of those whom God foreknew

Would hear and heed a higher destiny.

This calling only God can verify.

My ear cannot hear; my eye cannot see;

Yet within my heart I cannot deny

That I have heard and seen what few will know.

I must arise and strive to reach the place

Where the rivers of understanding flow

And never doubt God’s purpose and His grace.

I stand in the unbroken line of all

Those who, having heard, rise to heed the call.

I make reference to my ordination and celebrate this milestone in this poem:

 

Forty-one Years ago

Forty has long been universally recognized as an important number,                                      

both on account of the frequency of its occurrence, and the uniformity                                        

of its association with a period of probation, trial, and chastisement. . . .                                  

It is the product of 5 and 8, and points to the action of grace (5),                                                    

leading to and ending in revival and renewal (8). (The number eight                                          

also signifies “a new beginning”)

There can be no doubt as to the significance of this primary number [one].

In all languages it is the symbol of unity.

E.W. Bullinger

 

Forty-one years ago, the passion to fulfill the call

Inflamed deep within my soul a desire to give my all.

In this golden moment, past, present, and future all converge

Where the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God emerge,

As words that God spoke over my life I vividly recall.

“The Teacher” laid hands upon me to bless and to install

Me to lead God’s people and to give my all in all.

I my mind I stand in another place where two roads diverged

Forty-one years ago.

Renewed in strength to run through a troop and leap over a wall,

To fulfill God’s divine calling nothing can ever forestall.

The rivers of understanding God’s purpose and grace still merge.

Today I stand triumphant in Christ Jesus while on the verge

Of a renewed commitment to give all or nothing at all:

Forty-one years ago.

 

The accompanying video also invites us to “Answer God’s call”

For a more in-depth discussion of ordination and its personal significance, take a look at this Examiner.com article:

Yes and amen: In answer to God’s call

August 11, 2014

2 Corinthians 1_19

Without question the Word of God is energetic and life-giving, as revealed in Hebrews 4:12:

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Each word in the Word of Life is an expression of power. Luke 1:37 in the King James Version says, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” The American Standard Version offers this translation: “For no word from God shall be void of power.” Indeed, there is life-changing power in a single word from the Word, as the Poet notes:

. . . the power

of the printed word,

the power of a single light,

like a cloven tongue of fire,

to shatter the darkest night.

One of the most powerful words in the English language, in my estimation, is “yes.” With regard to Jesus Christ, Paul makes known this profound truth in 2 Corinthians 1:19-21 (New Living Translation)

19 For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” He is the one whom Silas, Timothy, and I preached to you, and as God’s ultimate “Yes,” he always does what he says.

20 For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.

21 It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us,

Used to express affirmation or assent, “yes” often indicates as an affirmative reply. Certainly we are aware of that the word as a strong expression of joy, pleasure, or approval. When a player scores the winning shot in an overtime game, often excited fans respond with animated gestures and a vigorous “Yes! Way to go!”

Today I am celebrating an experience where I said “yes” forty years ago when I was ordained to the Christian ministry. Ordination is the public recognition of a response of an individual to the call of God to serve. For me, the recognition of this inner prompting to be of greater service may have transpired a considerable amount of time prior to August 11, 1974.

I recall as a child being aware of the presence of God, and as I grew older and was introduced to the Bible, I remember reading the passage in Isaiah 6 where the glory of God overwhelms the Prophet, who responds to the question: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us.” Isaiah answers saying, “Here am I, send me.” This simple response resonated within me for years, and I simply acknowledged the call to ministry and said “Yes” in my heart, even before I really knew what I was doing.

In reflecting upon that life-transforming experience I was inspired to revise this poem written earlier:

In celebration of my ordination

to the Christian Ministry

August 11, 1974

 

Forty Years ago

The number 40 is the product of 5 and 8,

and points to the action of grace (5),             

leading to and ending in revival and renewal (8).              

This is certainly the case where forty relates

to a period of evident probation.

E.W. Bullinger

Number in Scripture

 

Forty years ago in a kairos moment in time,

I was forever changed, beyond all reason and rhyme.

I answered God’s call, offered my life, and I said “Yes.”

The exact path my life would take I could only guess

The valleys I must descend, the mountains I must climb.

 

I would need great courage, symbolized in fragrant thyme

That graced my neck, as I was striving to reach my prime

Forty years ago.

 

To stumble and fall along the way is no crime,

For my earnest desire was to minister full-time;

Despite the challenges, to serve God nevertheless,

To go where I am sent, to please the Lord and to bless.

With a simple “Yes,” I began my quest toward heights sublime

Forty years ago.

Matt Redman offers “Yes and Amen,” the perfect expression in song of my response to God’s call to serve:

Ordination: Reflections on my calling

August 11, 2012

On August 11, 2012, I begin this day with a time of grateful reflection upon an event taking place thirty-eight years ago when I was first ordained to the Christian ministry. For me this was one of the spiritual highlights of my life, and I commented upon the significance of this event in one of the first articles that I wrote as Columbus Christian Spirituality Examiner for Examiner.com, an Internet publication. Click here to read Ordination: Responding to the call.

In celebration of the grand occasion, I would like to share this poetic, pictorial portrait, as I continue to echo the lyrics to an old gospel song sung countless times as I grew up: “How I got over, How I got over, My Lord/My soul looks back and wonders, How I got over.” And so we begin by looking back, as the opening line of this poem suggests:

Strengthened for the Journey

 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,

 and he shall strengthen your heart;

 wait, I say, on the LORD!

 Psalm 27:14

Let us pause to reflect upon the past,

Not with longing to relive bygone days.

Though some were fine, such moments cannot last

A lifetime. The budding rose never stays

The same but unfolds in lovelier ways.

Let us linger to absorb the essence

Of this moment’s triumph. Another phase

Of growth we note within our lifetime since

We first began the quest toward excellence.

Let us look ahead with vision and strive

Toward greater goals, for each day we commence

To grow toward our perfection, as we thrive.

May we see clearly where our paths have led

And be strengthened for the journey ahead.

The inspiration for the following poem is statement by Elijah Pierce, renowned minister of the gospel, internationally acclaimed woodcarver, and local barber. Rev. Pierce took the statement and carved it into a magnificent sculpture that profoundly impacted me when I first viewed it more than ten years ago. I published an Examiner.com article based on that unforgettable experience. Click here to read it.

Your Life is a Book 

Your life is a book, and every day is a page. 

You cannot deny the pages of your own book,

because you’ve already written into the pages of life. 

And that life will be open in the eyes of God.

When the book is finished, you cannot deny it.

 Elijah Pierce

Your life is a book, and every day is a page.

We all write our story, whether fool or sage.

Printed words in boldface impress to curse or bless,

Revealing measures of both failure and success

In applying hearts unto wisdom as we age.

No one knows the future nor can anyone gauge

The impact of one life with its living message.

Every word of our history continues to stress

Your life is a book.

Work heartily as to the Lord–forget the wage.

Accept this–it is futile to wrestle and rage

Against God’s divine plan that we know and express

His purpose, for each day we write as we progress.

From infant to elder, through each unfolding stage,

Your life is a book.

This picture of me taken when I was about six years old brings to mind fun-filled, carefree summer days from childhood when life for me was one grand adventure, expressed in this poem:

Man-child . . . Giddy-up, going on the great adventure

 “Here they beheld the man-child to someday reign as king. . . .”

 The Wise Men 

I leaped out of bed just after the sun came up;

I could not stay cause I had to be on my way.

Life overflowed like a fountain and filled my cup.

“Be back in a minute” was all I had to say. . . .

Giddy-up, giddy-up, giddy-up, going on the great adventure.

I was laughing and loving every good news day,

Running with abandon into the blazing sun,

With my heart wide-open and tender, pure for sure,

All that really mattered to me was having fun.

Giddy-up, giddy-up, giddy-up, going on the great adventure.

One day a white-haired man spoke as he looked at me.

“Say, little man, when you grow up to be a man,

Tell me, little fella, what do you want to be?”

His question made me think, just for a little while

Then I nodded my head, and I began to smile,

“That’s a real long time away, far as I can see,

But when I grow up to be a real grown up man,

“A man-child, man-child, is what I still want to be,

Man-child, a man-child, is what I still want to be.”

Giddy-up, giddy-up, giddy-up, going on the great adventure.

In the sixth grade I recall that I committed to memory Psalm 1, a passage of scripture that I still recall by heart and keep close to my heart. Mrs. Little, the undertaker’s wife, gathered kids from the neighborhood and told us to memorize the First Psalm, which I did and still recall by heart to this day. For me it was “the first Word,” a term used in the following poem with that title.   

 The First Word                  

When you’re in a difficult situation,

go back to ‘the first word.’ It still works.

 Apostle John Tetsola

Though only a child, I heard the word of the Lord.

Just like Samuel, I clearly heard God speak to me:

I still remember the power of “the first word.”

The desire to read and to learn by heart God’s Word:

Planted deep within my soul seeds of destiny.

Though only a child, I heard the word of the Lord.

Early years of famine and drought God has restored.

My Shepherd ever sets a table before me.

I still remember the power of “the first word.”

From an early age God became my shield and sword,

As the Psalms enflamed a passion for poetry.

Though only a child, I heard the word of the Lord.

The sound words of the First Psalm could not be ignored:

“Planted by the rivers of waters, like a tree. . .”

I still remember the power of “the first word.”

Striving toward the finish, ever pressing forward,

I now fondly recall glimpses of God’s glory.

Though only a child, I heard the word of the Lord:

I still remember the power of “the first word.”

I graduated from Froebel High School in Gary, Indiana, as valedictorian, in June 1960, and as my academic career has unfolded, I recognize that I have always desire to excel. The epigraph to the following poem expresses my heart’s desire:

To Graduate with Honors

I desire to be a straight-A student in the University of Life.

Lonnell E. Johnson

 

To graduate with honors, the first in my class;

Once more “to pioneer a new and living way.”

To rise above the mundane, striving to surpass

Past limits, still moving toward a more perfect day.

In reflecting on bygone years, I recall

These words: “The Lord is my light and my salvation,

Whom shall I fear?” words implanted to strengthen me,

Learned by heart, this prophetic declaration.

Though my thoughts may stray, Your presence is always near.

Hand-in-hand, while walking toward my destination,

With my ears still near your lips, ever listening to hear

Words of life that endear, words of exhortation.

I ponder the winding path that my life has turned,

With deepest gratitude for all that I have learned.

                                                                                                                     We are soldiers in the Army

                                                                                                      We have to fight although we have to cry

                                                                                                   We have to hold up the blood-stained banner

                                                                                                              We have to hold it up until we die.

                                                                                                                         Traditional Gospel Song

Upon graduation from high school in June 1960, I enrolled as pharmacy student in Purdue University in September of that year. In 1965 I graduated with a BS degree in Pharmacy and worked as a hospital pharmacist at Methodist Hospital in Gary from 1965-67 when I was drafted into the US Army, where I embarked upon another phase of my journey of discovery from January, 1967 through December, 1968. While I was a pharmacy instructor at the Medical Field Service School in San Antonio at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, I rode the crest of the Jesus Movement, a national revival impacting the lives of countless young people and others.  I experienced a powerful conversion that introduced me to the transforming power of God through receiving the Holy Spirit and studying of the Bible.  I began to write poetry and continued to write once I was discharged from the Army.

And the Lord says,” My son when I saved you I had to find you, for you were running, going your own way, and I mean this in a lovely way. But you were like a wild and a stubborn ass, doing your own thing. And I saved you, and I convinced you intellectually and spiritually that you were mine. And I put the fear of God within you on that day that I saved you, and I told you ‘You can do this your way or you can do this my way.’  And you said, ‘Yes, Sir.’ And you are a man under authority. You understood that early in your Christian career. And you understood that there were people under you, and you understood that there were people over you. And you’ve always understood authority. You’ve always understood that the Kingdom of God is like an army. And you always knew that you had power and power and authority.

 Personal Prophecy from Dennis Cramer, May 9, 2009                                                                                                                                                                                                        

After being discharged from the Army in 1968, I moved to Washington, DC where I worked for the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association until 1971. During this time I became involved with The Way International, having been introduced to the Ministry while I was in the Army at Fort Sam Houston. I met Brenda Warren, who worked in the same office building. I also introduced Brenda to The Way International prior to my leaving Washington, DC to join The Way Corps in 1971. Brenda and I were married in 1973, and we were assigned as coordinators of The Way International fellowships in Washington, DC, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and a portion of Pennsylvania. I was ordained the following year.

Lonnell Edward Johnson

Ordained

August 11, 1974

Prayer and Prophecy by Dr. Victor Paul Wierwille

Prayer:

Father, for your loving kindness and tender mercy and your goodness, for the great favor that thou hast showered upon us we are truly grateful, and Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, I lay my hands upon my Lonnell this night to bless him and to set him apart unto the ministry whereunto you have called him.

Prophecy:

For surely I the Lord thy God hath brought thee unto this day and time. It is I who succored thee and strengthened thee and upheld thee. It is I who have put the burning desire of this Word within thy soul, my son.  Surely, I the Lord thy God have called thee to send thee forth as one who is being sent to hold forth my Word rightly divided in this our time. Surely I the Lord thy God have called thee to teach and to manifest forth my greatness and to be a real pastor to my people, for I have loved you with an everlasting love. And I will under-gird you and keep you, my son. Walk forth in all boldness.

Prayer:

Father, I thank you for your love, and I ordain him this night to this sacred ministry whereunto you have called us through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

I was a part of The Way International from 1968-1988. Since that time I have received a number of personal prophetic words that provided exhortation and comfort,  as I continued to seek God’s direction. Here is one of the first such words that impacted me in a profoundly significant way.

Personal Prophecy to Lonnell and Brenda Johnson given by Marva Pharis in Raleigh, NC, September, 1993:

 Oh, Dear God, What a precious gift you are to the Body of Christ.  Oh, you are so precious in God’s sight, and you’re so precious to the Body of Christ.  And God has used you to speak words of wisdom and words of life in years past.  And that is only just a bare, and that is only a small amount of what He is going to use you in the future.  He says you have paid a price; you have paid a price; you have laid down the ministry and walked away and said ‘God, I will do whatever, if it’s scrub the toilets and sweep the floor, I will do whatever,’ and God has said I will honor that, I honor a servant’s heart, and God says I’m going to raise you to new levels of ministry that you have only dreamed about.  My Word is in you, within both of you, and I’m going to use you to teach, to preach, to prophesy, to move in areas that you’ve never even dreamed about because you have been faithful in the little things, and I’m going to make you ruler over much; I’m going to make you ruler and master of many things; and I’m going to use those giftings, and Sister, God is not leaving you behind.  There’s giftings and ministries in you that have not even been tapped into yet.  He’s going to bring forth those things; He’s going to pull those things, and you’re going to speak into ladies’ lives and release them to be all God has made them to be because He’s raising up a mighty army that’s made up of men and ladies. And, Oh, I see in the church that you’re working in, it’s going to start little, and it’s going to get bigger, and it’s a world-wide ministry, and it’s not just to ex-Way people; it’s to the Body of Christ; it’s to the Body of Christ; it’s all over the world, because you are precious in the Father’s sight.

Here is another excerpt from a personal word of prophecy from Dr. Kingsley Fletcher, spoken in April 21, 2001. I have read and reflected upon this word of encouragement countless times:

The anointing of the Lord is upon you. You shall walk through doors, and you shall bring the people of God behind you. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Mighty man of faith! When you declare, it shall be done. You shall affect many through your faith, for out of the faith you shall see my faithfulness. . . . And you shall declare this is the way of the Lord, and they shall follow. For you shall stand and declare just as Caleb declared. You shall stand and say, ‘If God said it, it shall come to pass. If God declares it, I believe it. If God points the way, I will follow.’ And the people of God shall be inspired by your humble faith. For you are a man that has pleased me, and I’m delighted in you. This is the word of the Lord to you, Lonnell. To Lonnell, the word of the Lord. You shall walk in faith and not by sight.                                                                    

The reference to Caleb inspired this poem:

             Like Caleb

But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him,

 and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land

   whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.

                                      Numbers 14:24

Caleb, son of Jephunneh, of the tribe of Judah:

The impact of this solitary life who can gauge?

May I be like Caleb, who grew in faith with the years

That passed, who with renewed courage transformed his fears

Into faith and lived to slay giants in his old age.

May I rise above any adverse circumstance.

As Caleb claimed for himself his inheritance,

May I too seize God’s promises at this new stage,

To remain fruitful in this season of my life.

And may I wholly follow the ways of the Lord,

Teaching by example the precepts of the Word.

As a servant, may I dispel envy and strife.

Like Caleb, may I look at life as one who sees

Not obstacles but endless possibilities.

As I reflect upon the many milestones of accomplishments leading up to and subsequent to my ordination to the Christian ministry, my heart is overwhelmed with gratitude to God. I would like to conclude my reverie with a single poem which captures the essence of my heart’s desire at this present time: 

  When All Is Said and Done

  His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant;

  you were faithful over a few things,

  I will make you ruler over many things.

  Enter into the joy of your lord.’

  Matthew 25:21

When all things of this life on earth are said and done

And all accounts settled, may this be said of me:

He was a good husband, father, and faithful son,

Who sought to serve the Master with integrity.

May God find a branded bondslave who came to learn

Firsthand that to run to serve is life’s highest goal,

Beyond fame, acclaim, wealth or status one can earn.

That I loved God with all my heart and mind and soul:

A  son who practiced obedience as a lifestyle,

Seeking to please the Lord and follow each command,

With an attitude of gratitude all the while,

Giving praise to Christ before whom we all shall stand.

When I have finished my course, and my race is won,

I long to hear “Good and faithful servant, well done.”