Sunday, April 12, 2009

Spiritual Heritage

“For you have heard my vows, O God; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.” Psalm 61:5

As a child, I often heard my father’s gravelly baritone throughout the house.

“Guide me, O Thou, Great Jehovah, pilgrim through this barren land.”

On Sunday mornings as he was getting ready for church or during the week as he was going about his day, a song would swell up in him and just bubble out.

“I am weak but though art mighty, hold me with Thou powerful hand.”

As a child, I really couldn’t appreciate what I considered his “old-fashioned” singing or even understand why he would be singing or how a song could grow inside of you to the point that it erupted from your soul in an explosion of praise and worship.

As an adult, I am so grateful for the spiritual heritage that my parents passed down to me, from the “old-fashioned” songs that now resonate in my soul to the living example lived out every day before me of what it meant to love God and His people.

A heritage is something that is passed down from preceding generations.

I thank God that my parents passed down to me not only sayings that I now find myself repeating to my own children, but that they also lived a life that I could emulate.

“God gave you some sense,” my mother would say. Now I hear myself repeating those words.
I saw my mother feed the hungry, visit the sick in the hospital and the elderly in the nursing home. I saw her care for the less fortunate, even bringing folks in from the street and fixing them breakfast. She has given away money, clothes, food or whatever anyone has needed. I saw her be a mother to so many others.

“If you can’t say Amen, at least look Amen.”

I heard my father say many a Sunday morning as he stood in the pulpit to preach. Now when I speak I find myself saying those same words sometimes.

I saw my father be a voice for the powerless and fight injustice wherever he found it. He preached every Sunday, but that was only a small part of what he did. He counseled couples and wayward teens. He married and buried, comforted and challenged. He arose from his bed in the middle of the night to help a family cope with tragedy. He was a father to so many.

There are so many other things that I could say but there is not enough time and space to say all that I received from my parents and others, some who have gone on to be with the Lord. But I am so grateful that even though they have left us physically—Mother Green, Grandmother Hagler, Aunt Marjorie, Elder Davis, Rev. Bond—that their spiritual heritage remains.

Now I sing throughout my house, even louder than my father. My kids must think I’m crazy as I am going through my day, washing dishes or whatever, and just break out in a song.

“If the Lord, never did anything else for me, He’s done enough.”

But I hope that I am leaving them a heritage not just by what I say or sing, but what I do every day, that one day they will pass on to their children.


“Evil is incapable of a perfect plan.”

“If you can’t say ‘Amen,’ at least look ‘Amen.’”

“A man who deserves a long introduction doesn’t need it. A man who needs a long introduction doesn’t deserve it.”

For those of you who know my father, Rev. William H. Copeland Jr., you might have heard some of the above statements that he has made over the years. There are so many. Some I may have forgotten. Perhaps there was something he said that made a great impression in your life.

I’m collecting some of these “Copeland-isms” as I’ve heard them called. If you have some that you would like to share, please leave them in the comment section or send an email to

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Prayer Warriors

Brother to Brother Column

Prayer Warriors

"I have never seen anybody more ready and willing to pray than Grandmother. She didn't mess around when it came to calling on Jesus. While spending the night at her house through the years, I had heard the telephone ring in the middle of the night, then Grandmother's raspy but soothing voice praying aloud, pleading for God to intervene in some situation for the caller on the other end. . . . It was like she had a hot line to heaven and that God was one of her bosom buddies.”

From “True Vine: A Young Black Man’s Journey of Faith, Hope and Clarity”

by John W. Fountain

Missing Grandmother

By John W. Fountain

The years so soon fade

Faces, like the shade--

They disappear,before our eyes

And seas of tears

Despite our cries.

And hope springs anew,

Eternal like the grass

That lives to wither,

whose life shall pass,

But that long lingers in the consciousness of spring,

In all of us human,

In every living breathing moving thing.

And come morning sun

Or days darkened and done

Or whatever life's sum

Will soon come

Will rise

Will stir

Will revive

Will soon be made again alive

Like new mint leaves before our eyes

And new emerald trees that know not our cries that once drifted up,

Away, toward dreary, cloud-patched skies

And our eternal ties

to loved ones past,

to our future and to the years of past,

Which quickly fade

That do not last

That disappear

Like withering grass

Will soon spring eternal


perfect in the Son

When this life's season is done,

And we are one with Him.

Precious Memories

“The memory of the righteous will be a blessing…” Proverbs 10:7

We all have those special people who have made an impact in our lives. Share your memories of those who have left a mark on your life by the words they said and the lives they led.

Just leave a comment or send an email to and I will post them in the future.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Plow in Season

“A sluggard does not plow in season; so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing.”

Proverbs 20:4


Every day I’m looking for a hint of green. A glimmer of a plant poking its head through the dirt. Although there is snow on the ground in April, I have already planted my seeds, preparing for my vegetable garden. Although I am still wearing my winter coat, I know that the warm air is coming sooner or later. Soon, it will be time to go into my little garden patch and start turning over the soil in preparation to plant the seedlings that are currently growing in my living room window.

I’m looking for signs of growth every day. I get excited when I see speck of green poking through the brown dirt, knowing that each now tiny plant will grow into a harvest of tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. I know that I have to start in April if I want to have tomatoes in August.

Just as we prepare for a natural harvest of fruits and vegetables, if we want to see a spiritual harvest in our lives, we need to plow in season. We can’t be weary in well doing or at harvest time, we will look up and find nothing. We have to prepare to plant. We have to cultivate the ground to make it ready for the seed. We need to break up the soil and turn it over. After the seed is planted and starts to grow we have to water, weed and fertilize. We have to prune and stake. Finally, we get to harvest the fruit of our labor.

Sometimes we get sluggish in our spiritual gardening. We don’t plant or hide the word of God in our heart that we might not sin against God. We don’t break up old habits and bad attitudes that make our hearts too hard to receive God’s word. We fail to weed out sin. We let bitterness grow and strangle our growth. We fail to fertilize and fortify ourselves with fasting and prayer or prune away everything that’s not like God.

If we want to see a harvest in our lives and in the lives of those around us, we have to plow in season. We have to do the work that is required now and practice the spiritual disciplines that will cause us to grow personally and that will empower us to touch the lives of others with the love and power of the gospel.

It’s hard work. It sometimes seems like a long wait. But in the end it’s worth it.

I see a little hint of green now, but I’m looking forward to biting into a ripe, red tomato at harvest time.


What type of harvest are you looking for in your spiritual life?

In what areas do you want to grow spiritually?


· Take a minute to write down your daily activities and how much time you spend on each. Then calculate how much of that time is spent praying, reading or studying God’s word or doing another activity that promotes spiritual growth.

· Commit to praying every day. It doesn’t have to be an hour. It could be a minute in the morning in the shower. But take time to talk to talk to God and then take time to hear what He is saying to you through His word—the Bible.

· Commit to reading the Bible every day—even if you just start by reading a verse a day. Proverbs is a good place to start if you don’t know where to begin. There are 31 Proverbs, one for every day of the month.

· Forgive the person who hurt you. Forgiving someone does not mean that you condone or forget the wrong they might have done to you. It does not even mean that you have reconciliation. But if you forgive, you free yourself. When you forgive, you don’t allow bitterness to take root in your heart and stunt your spiritual growth.


Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. Matthew 3:8

I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
A time to be born and a time to die,
A time to plant and a time to uproot. Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Ephesians 6:9


Dear God,

Thank you for giving me everything I need to grow in you. Let me delight in you and make me like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Prayer Breakfast: Women of Faith Delivering the Love of Christ

For those of you in the Chicago area, I will be speaking at a prayer breakfast on Saturday, April 18th at the Zion Gate Missionary Baptist Church in my hometown of Kankakee, Illinois.

The theme of the breakfast which is being sponsored by the women's mission ministry is
"Women of Faith Delivering the Love of Christ."
I hope to see you there.
Peace and Blessings,

When: April 18, 2009 at 9 a.m.

Where: Zion Gate Missionary Baptist Church
752 E. Oak St., Kankakee, IL 60901

Cost: $12.00 (Tickets are available at the door)

For more information, contact the church at 815-939-2343.

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