Posts Tagged ‘spirituality’

“Words of Wisdom”—a daily dose of “words to the wise”–Day 15

May 29, 2013
As we pursue Godly wisdom, we are also encouraged to "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem."

As we pursue Godly wisdom, we are also encouraged to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”

In looking over a collection of poetry in which there is a reference to wisdom, I came across “As We Pray,” a poetic exhortation to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” I also thought of a particular day that is set aside for various groups to come together to pray for Jerusalem. One such occasion is the first Sunday in October, when hundreds of thousands gather across the globe to offer prayers to God on behalf of the Holy City. The exhortation to pray for Jerusalem is not confined to one specific day of prayer, but the indication is that such prayer should be ongoing.

Last year, I presented a series of blog entries entitled “Twelve for Twelve in 2012,” based on the 12 verses of Isaiah 62 which was the personal theme passage that I had adopted at the beginning of the year.  In one of the entries we find a reminder to call unto God “And give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.” For a more detailed discussion of that verse check out “Seven for Twelve on 7-4-12.” I am simply suggesting that the reminder to pray for the peace of Jerusalem should be ongoing, particularly in light of the ever-escalating critical conditions in the Middle East.

Note the reference to pursuing wisdom which we have also discussed in previous “Words of Wisdom”:

As We Pray

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:

“May they prosper who love you.

Peace be within your walls,

Prosperity within your palaces.”

Psalm 122:6-7

 

This week as we pray, we focus on the Kingdom,

Established and grounded on a sure foundation.

As we diligently pursue Godly wisdom,

New paths of this Apostolic Reformation

Unfold as the sun rises on the horizon.

Even in turbulent times, we must stay the course.

Aware of consequences of each decision,

We look to God our Father, bountiful resource.

We are new wineskins, flexible, open to change.

With a “kingdom mindset” we now see with new eyes.

Beyond past narrow limits our view is long-range.

We number our days with each sunset and sunrise.

Observing the times and giving meaning to them,

We ever pray for “the peace of Jerusalem.”

 

Mariano Jose Jimenez offers a musical composition inspired by the exhortation to “Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem.”

“Words of Wisdom”—a daily dose of “words to the wise”–Day 11

May 25, 2013
This blog entry is the first in a series featuring "a daily dose of “words to the wise,” poetically expressed from the Book of Proverbs.

This blog entry is another in a series featuring a daily dose of “words to the wise,” poetically expressed from the Book of Proverbs.

Each morning as I rise to use the bathroom and refresh myself to start the day, I often recite a statement made by Prophet Kim Clement, as I look in the mirror and wash my hands: “I see myself somewhere in the future, and I’m looking so much better than I look right now. . .” I go on to attach this personal addendum: “But right now, I’m looking good!”

While looking in the mirror, many times I think of my true identity, as I continually attempt to assess who I am and who I desire to be, as I seek to do the will of God. Some time ago, I posted a blog entry entitled “My New Identity Kit” which contained a poem with a reference to wisdom as well as to knowledge. Here are “Words of Wisdom”—a daily dose of “words to the wise” for Day 11:

My 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

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

Not the man I am but the man I shall become,

Reflected in my eyes, my true identity.

 

Released from shackles of a slave mentality,

The bondage of Egypt I have now overcome.

I look in the mirror of God’s Word and I see.

 

I smile as I keep singing of “A Brand New Me.”

In my heart I have prepared for God a new home,

Reflected in my eyes, my true identity.

 

“I am what I am” is my new reality:

A first-born son, model of the Father’s Kingdom.

I look in the mirror of God’s Word and I see.

 

God’s blessings in double measure overtake me,

Flowing by the spirit in knowledge and wisdom,

Reflected in my eyes, my true identity.

 

I live to fulfill my prophetic destiny,

As joys unfold with even greater joys to come.

I  look in the mirror of God’s Word and I see

Reflected in my eyes, my true identity.

 

As I begin to understand more fully who I am and who God intended for me to be, not only am I looking good, but I am also “feeling good” as this YouTube video by Michael Buble makes known:

 

 

“Words of Wisdom”—a daily dose of “words to the wise”–Day 8

May 22, 2013
As we go through life, we encounter difficult situations whereby we can grow if we apply the lessons learned.

As we go through life, we encounter difficult situations whereby we can grow if we apply the lessons learned.

Many times as I begin my day in a meditative way, a passage of scripture or song lyrics will come to mind to jumpstart my day. This morning I thought of the lyrics to a powerful song performed by Barbra Streisand called “Lessons to be Learned:

Why did that right road take that wrong turn?

Why did our heart break, and why did we get burned?

Just like the seasons there are reasons for the path we take:

There are no mistakes—only lessons to be learned.

I began to think of some of the lessons that God is teaching me this season of my life. As a life-long learner, an ever-eager student in the University of Life, I am continually learning more about God and my relationship with Him, particularly in terms of applying the principles of wisdom, not just this month during this time of sharing “Words of Wisdom” from the Book of Proverbs, but each day abounds with opportunities to learn and grow.

A most valuable lesson that I am learning relates to using wisdom in terms of the words that we speak. An original poem that mentions wisdom in the context of the Spirit of Wisdom is “The Power of the Tongue:”

The Power of the Tongue

But the tongue can no man tame;

it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison

James 3:8

 

We know the tongue has power to generate life,

To produce seeds that will eventually take root

And will bring forth two very different kinds of fruit:

Love, joy and peace or envy, confusion and strife

Can build or destroy a brother, a friend, a wife.

With his hand, the helmsman easily turns great ships,

So I covenant to guard the gates of my lips,

For words can heal or pierce the heart as a sharp knife.

I desire life and long to see good all my days,

So I speak the truth and refrain from speaking lies.

Like Jesus, I want my tongue to speak what God says.

I seek to be wise but never in my own eyes.

Pressing toward the finish, the coming of God’s kingdom,

I seek not just a word but the Spirit of wisdom.

The last line of the poem brings to mind another song that captures the essence of that for which I am seeking: “Seekers of Your Heart” rendered by Steve Green, Sandi Patty and Larnelle Harris.

This blog entry is the first in a series featuring "a daily dose of “words to the wise,” poetically expressed from the Book of Proverbs.

This blog entry is another in a series featuring a daily dose of “words to the wise,” poetically expressed from the Book of Proverbs.

What if. . .: Reflecting on God’s Goodness

March 13, 2013
Psalm 124:1 in the New Living Translation opens with a provocative question: "What if. . . "

Psalm 124:1 in the New Living Translation opens with a provocative question: “What if. . . “

This morning I woke up and began my day in grateful praise to God to see another day. I have so much to be thankful for, and as I reflected upon the goodness of God, I thought of Psalm 124 which I read aloud in the New Living Translation. The Psalmist stimulates our thinking with one of those “What if. . .” questions:

Psalm 124

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

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

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.

Helen Baylor sings “If it Had Not Been for the Lord on My Side.”

The essence of that message is reinforced with the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, who remind me of “The Goodness of the Lord”

The Goodness of the Lord

I conclude this blog entry, as I reflect upon the past 70 years and metaphorically

I Sing in My Garden

Oh, sing unto the LORD a new song!

Sing to the LORD, all the earth.

Sing to the LORD, bless his name;

Proclaim the good news from day to day.

Psalm 96:1-2

 

I sing in my garden and reap the good,

The bounty of living these seventy years.

Each note seems to evoke a stream of tears

That fall, not because of some somber mood

But flow from a heart filled with gratitude.

The folksong of the farmer thrills my ears

Each time plowing, planting or harvest nears.

I compose my song, having understood

Lyrics I did not know when I was young,

When life was uncertain, my song unsure.

Now from my green garden I garner truth.

A song of conviction flows from my tongue.

I am seasoned and strengthened to endure,

Knowing the best lines are yet to be sung.

garden 2

2013: Taking a new look at “The Number 13”

January 1, 2013
The year 2013 provides an opportunity to see "The Number Thirteen" in a different light.

The year 2013 provides an opportunity to see “The Number Thirteen” in a different light.

Last night during a New Year’s Eve celebration at my church, Equip U Ministries, Columbus, Ohio, I was asked to share a poem that I had written related to “The Number Thirteen,” as we entered 2013. Earlier in 2012, I took a look at the number 13 with a different view and noted that thirteen can be a transitional number.  Although it is generally regarded as a number of rebellion and disorder, we also recognize that the number 13 occurs between 12—representing governmental order and 14—representing spiritual perfection symbolized in the number 7—established or doubled.  Apostle Eric Warren had also mentioned that the number could be seen as a transitional number in one of his earlier teachings. The essence my new perspective is expressed in the following poem:

The Number Thirteen

And so faith, hope, love abide [faith–conviction and belief

respecting man’s relation to God and divine things; hope–

joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation;

love–true affection for God and man, growing out of

God’s love for and in us], these three; but the greatest

of these is love.

 1 Corinthians 13:13

It [thirteen] occurs first in Gen 14:4, where we read “Twelve years   

they served Chedorlaomer, and the thirteenth year they REBELLED.”

Hence every occurrence of the number thirteen, and likewise  

of every multiple of it, stamps that with which it stands in connection

with rebellion, apostasy, defection, corruption, disintegration,

revolution, or some kindred idea.

E.W Bullinger

Number in Scripture   

Its Supernatural Design and Spiritual Significance

God always speaks, even numbers reveal His design.

With brand new eyes I now look at the number thirteen:

What does this so-called “unlucky number” really mean?

When I seek the mind of Christ to properly align

My thoughts to conform with the Word of God, line upon line,

I no longer see rebellion or misdirection

But a symbol of transition, moving toward perfection.

The love of God no expanse on earth can ever confine,

For God removes blindness to reveal His perfect will.

Christ in you, in me, is no longer a great mystery

But shines as in a mirror for those with eyes to see

That each promise in the Word of God He will fulfill.

I must awaken from slumber and walk as the wise

To view the whole of life with newly enlightened eyes.

the-number-13

For the New Year’s Eve service I wore and Christmas gift from my wife, a Tommy Hilfiger “rugby shirt” with bright red and black stripes with the bold number “85” in white with white stitching on the front of the shirt. Someone later pointed out that 13 is the sum of 8, representative of a “new beginning” and 5, symbolic of “God’s grace and favor.” Conceivably, what I was wearing reinforced the message that I was speaking regarding a different view of “The Number Thirteen.”

 The Number 13 and the Concept of the Lagniappe:

As someone who loves language, as one who is said to be a “wordsmith,” I was once asked, “What is your favorite word?” After briefly considering the question, I responded “lagniappe” and smiled broadly.  The ever-present, easily accessible Merriam Webster’s online dictionary offers this definition:a small gift given a customer by a merchant at the time of a purchase; broadly: something given or obtained gratuitously or by way of good measure.” Generally the term refers to “a little something extra, an unexpected treat, a blessing, a delightful surprise.”

My most memorable definition of the word occurred during my first visit to New Orleans where the term is frequently heard. When my wife and I were taken out to dinner at one of the fine restaurants of renown, I said, “What a delightful lagniappe!” Our host then shared this humorous definition of the concept offered by comedian and chef Justin Wilson, who spoke with a thick Cajun accent:

“You go to the baker, and you buy one dozen ‘cookie.’ When you go home, you count the ‘cookie,’ and you got thirteen ‘cookie.’ Thirteenth ‘cookie,’ that’s lagniappe.”

Mark Twain Lagniappe Quote

Here is another instance of the number thirteen, as in a “baker’s dozen” that can be seen as  being a “good number” that brings blessings rather than one that supposedly brings “bad luck.”

In reflecting upon my favorite word, I was inspired to write the following poem which I revised for this blog entry:

Lord of the Endless Lagniappe

 You will show me the path of life;

 In Your presence is fullness of joy;

 At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

 Psalm 16:11

 

 

In His presence God reaffirms and confirms once more

That the Lord God is good and that His mercy endures.

Abundant favor and boundless blessings I explore.

The unfailing Word of God strengthens and reassures:

A bountiful table is daily set before me,

Each so custom designed and prepared with me in mind,

Each a unique savory foretaste of eternity.

As I seek to do His will, I know that I shall find

The strength to lead and faith to follow the Lord each day.

The God of all comfort ever surrounds and upholds

Me in peace by the strength of His right hand, as I pray.

Unspeakable joy floods my soul, as glory unfolds.

God releases what the enemy seeks to entrap:

So gracious and kind, the Lord of the endless lagniappe.

May this New Year of 2013 overflow with the goodness of God, “The Lord of the Endless Lagniappe, ” for He alone is able to make all grace abound toward us that we always, having all sufficiency in all things may abound to every good work.

Three for Twelve for 2012: God’s Crowning Achievement

March 12, 2012

Isaiah 62 with its 12 verses comprises the theme for the New Year: "Twelve for Twelve in 2012."

At the beginning of the New Year, I posted a blog in Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe based on my theme and scriptural focal point for 2012. In this case, I had selected Isaiah 62, a passage that most providentially contains twelve verses. In studying the chapter, I decided to write a series of poems, as I personalized each of the twelve verses, calling the collection “Twelve for Twelve for 2012.” Here is the link to the first installment, published in two parts, inspired by Isaiah 62:1: “One for Twelve”:

I continue the series with the third installment “Three for Twelve,” a personalized poetic rendering of Isaiah 62:3, posted on March 12, 2012.  Here is the verse from the New Living Testament:

The LORD will hold you in his hand for all to see— 

a splendid crown in the hand of God.

Three for Twelve

Isaiah 62:3

 

Three for Twelve

 Isaiah 62:3

 

The Lord will hold you in his hand for all to see—                                                                                                                                                                               Crowning display of power, glory and victory.                                                                                                                                                                                       This one-of-a-kind crown overlaid with pure gold,                                                                                                                                                                                His crowning achievement whose worth cannot be told:                                                                                                                                                                    Beyond all the wealth of riches that crown the wise                                                                                                                                                                                 Is the crown of glory that shines before our eyes:                                                                                                                                                                                  Ever-increasing splendor never fades away;                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             A royal diadem shines brighter in the light of day.                                                                                                                                                                               The love that crowns us, not even death can destroy,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        For nothing can ever tarnish our crown of joy.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  We shall behold the fullness of all that God planned:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           We are the crown of life that He holds in His hand.                                                                                     

 

In reflecting on Isaiah 62:3 and the poem inspired by that verse, I thought of another poem related to the aspect of crowns, as indicated in the phrase “Finishing touch on His crowning achievement” in the following reflective piece:

On My Journey

 May we see clearly where our paths have led

 And be strengthened for the journey ahead.

           Strengthened for the Journey

 

Sometime I feel like I’m on my journey home.

Traditional Folk Song

 

I am steadfast– my soul remains anchored in hope,

Eagerly watching and waiting, looking above.

Feeling during dark times that I can barely cope,

But seasons swiftly change, for I have come to know

Nothing can ever separate me from your love.

Despite appearances, you have the last say so.

Once more I seek to serve, to go where I am sent          

That my life should reflect the praise of your glory,

The finishing touch on your crowning achievement:

The surprise happy ending of this love story

When all creation finally gets back to being one,

Even as with Holy Spirit, Father, and Son.                                                     

The perfect will of God unfolds for all to see,

As I begin this new day on my journey.

                                                                

“I Am on My Journey Home”–this a capella hymn is a recording from the 2009 Western Massachusetts Sacred Harp Singing Convention. Harp singing or shape note singing dates back to the colonial period and continues to enjoy popularity in the rural South and elsewhere.

The phrase “crowning achievement” evokes a number of synonyms: crowning accomplishment, crowning glory, masterpiece or masterwork, showpiece, smash hit, work of a master; crowning achievement, great work or magnum opus. The essence of the verse three in Isaiah 62 is magnified and reinforced in a broader context in the New Testament with reference to the Church or the Body of Christ. As born-again believers, we are all new creations in Christ, and we praise God that He has given us all things richly to enjoy. Indeed, Ephesians 2:10 declares that “. . . we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” 

The word “workmanship” is translated from the Greek word poiema, which means “masterpiece, a glorious creation, a centerpiece of attention, as the French would say, le piece de resistance, or showpiece.” Of course, the Greek word poiema is transliterated into our English word poem, which in the minds of many people, present company included, is always a “masterpiece” or glorious creation. Mike Riley has posted a most enlightening Bible Study Article “Christians Are God’s Workmanship” related to this topic.

The Church is designed to be the Crowning Achievement of God's creative wisdom.

Collectively the Church, the Body of Christ, has been designed to be a glorious masterpiece, God’s crowning achievement.  As with any magnificent work of art, there are various stages of development: Beginning with the preliminary design, we find intermediary stages with various alterations—multiple fittings—final fitting—put on finishing touches. Many times the artist will produce a prototype which is not the finished product but a replica in transition. I know first-hand that a literary work will generate numerous drafts on the way to being a masterpiece. The entire process from the initial concept to the finished product can take years until completion. Likewise, the Church is always a work in progress—always in transition, as Ephesians 4:13 reminds us of the direction we are moving in:

Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:

The Church has been designed to display the infinitely variegated, wisdom of God, as Ephesians 3:10 in the Amplified Bible reveals:

[The purpose is] that through the church the complicated, many-sided wisdom of God in all its infinite variety and innumerable aspects might now be made known to the angelic rulers and authorities (principalities and powers) in the heavenly sphere.

Though we may not presently see the fullness of that revelation, we are ever moving in that direction. For we know that “When that which is perfect is come then that which is in part shall be done away.” The Church is always moving . . . from faith to faith . . . from glory to glory. . . from victory to victory. As we shall see to an even greater degree, the Church is God’s masterpiece, His “Crowning Achievement.”