I should have killed the mike

 

no one cared I was off key
no one cared I was off key

My ears perked up. Sitting in the next to last row I heard a voice singing behind me – a voice which undoubtedly belonged in the choir. Except she can’t be in the choir because she sits with her precious granddaughter, whom she is raising. The child isn’t be more than nine years old, but she has the range of an adult. I’m talking she can seriously belt it out. She sings with exuberance despite the tragedies in her young life. The joy of Jesus flows like fresh living water out of this child who recently emerged from the baptismal waters, not long after she emerged from fire. We were singing a song way out of my range. Okay, let’s face it, I don’t have a range.

Psalm 95:1, “O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.” KJV

I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT PITCH AND KEY ARE

No one ever sat in front of me and thought I belonged in the choir. Instead they likely thought their ears were under aerial assault. So really, I should have killed the mike. Instead I sang. Do you hear me? I sang. With a live mike. On purpose.

For the first time in my  life I sang in harmony. Not musical harmony mind you; spiritual harmony.

John 4:23, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” NIV

NO ONE CARED

I don’t even think they noticed I was off key or pitch or whatever I am supposed to be on. At least if they did they didn’t care. Because it wasn’t about me, it was about worship. So I sang into the live mike,

Oh How I Love JesusThis is my story

And it was a little taste of Heaven.

Revelation 7:9-10, “I looked again. I saw a huge crowd, too huge to count. Everyone was there-all nations and tribes, all races and languages. And they were standing, dressed in white robes and waving palm branches, standing before the Throne and the Lamb and heartily singing: Salvation to our God on his Throne! Salvation to the Lamb!” MSG

TRUE HARMONY

Recently I have had opportunities to speak at several events among diverse denominations. Singing a capela around the campfire the pleasing blend of coordinated melodies rose with the smoke like an aroma of worship ascending toward Heaven. And God was there. The previous night, I soaked in uninhibited praise with arms raised and bodies swaying in front of the altar. The Holy Spirit was there. The week before, I bounced up and down with a vibrant band at an interfaith conference. The presence of the Lord was in that place too. How we worshiped didn’t matter, what mattered is that God showed up.

Revelation 19:1, “After this I heard something like the loud voice of a vast multitude in heaven, saying: Hallelujah! Salvation, glory, and power belong to our God.” HCSB

HALLELUJAH

With the exception of small spelling variations Hallelujah is the same in nearly every language. My personal favorite is  the Japanese translation ハレルヤ Hareruya but I think it’s because it sounds like what the Jetson’s dog Astro sang in Chris Rice’s silly song What if Cartoons got Saved.

Maybe we all need to get out of our comfort zones. I love my church and I love the way we worship mixing traditional with a sweet spirit,  but it was pretty amazing to experience women locking arms and dancing a criss-cross pattern through the sanctuary while singing:

Hava nageli, hava nerenena

I’m not sure what it means but I think it’s the language Jesus spoke.

In the spring I visited my local Catholic church and received the ashes on my forehead. I think I accidentally broke protocol but I hope they will let me return this year on Ash Wednesday. The ceremony was meaningful because God dealt with my heart and that is precisely where worship begins.

Romans 12:1, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” ESV

So worship. If you find yourself in need, worship. If you find yourself with plenty, worship. If you want God to show up, worship. If you are wondering where God is then remember, He inhabits the praises of His people. Worship with all your brothers and sisters in Christ. Not by protocol, not by tradition, but in spirit and in truth. Worship the One worthy of praise.

Be bold and leave the microphone on too.

Where is the fire?

Where is the fire?

It seems there is more controversy over the controversy than actual controversy. Is there any real debate brewing over the red cup? Please, raise your hand if you are offended by the red cup. Hello? I don’t see your hand. I read about the absurdity of the “Christian” reaction over a secular business refusing to keep Christ in Christmas so we can feel good about drinking expensive lattes on our way to spend outrageous amounts of money on unnecessary luxuries in the name of Jesus, but I have not actually encountered A SINGLE PERSON who is upset about the red cup. And I know a lot of Christians. Then again, I have been a little unplugged for the last few days. Wait, I think I see a hand. Nevermind, they were only  scratching their head. So am I.

REMINDS ME OF MY OWN LAPSE IN JUDGEMENT

As the mother, I should have been the voice of reason. However, my son’s uncontained excitement lured me in and I agreed to go to the front door to watch him launch a spinning, spark-spitting firework from the porch. It was winter, he was young and I should have known how easily dead grass ignites. The trajectory of the cardboard satellite fizzled as it landed in the corner of the yard, spinning in place and seeding flames into fertile ground. Soon a ring of fire began to enlarge.

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So what are you going to do about it?

Do something
Do something

His sagging eyes made his age difficult to determine. Half of his left arm was in a sling while the other half had escaped the protective cocoon. Struggling to maneuver a rolling walker which doubled as a seat, he approached the window and fished out his wallet. When he fumbled to open it, the receptionist offered to help retrieve the obligatory identification and insurance card. Bless her.

KINDNESS

Before sliding the glass window shut, she asked him to sit and promised someone would help him with paperwork. Not everyone is so kind.

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Words I never expected to say

No sir.
No sir.

NO OFFICER, I AM NOT CARRYING A GUN

Words I never expected to say on my way to speak at a Christian women’s conference. I was only breaking the law a little.

BLUE LIGHTS IN THE REAR VIEW MIRROR

When I saw the state trooper pull onto the interstate I was not concerned. I was cruising along with the flow of traffic. My speedometer tops out at 190 MPH, but I have no idea if my car really goes that fast because I don’t speed, at least not much. I have never had a speeding ticket in my life.

Eventually, I realized I had been selected from the other cars driving a few miles over the posted limit and I pulled to the shoulder. Dutifully retrieving my driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance, I apparently forgot to mention my concealed carry permit.

The officer politely asked me if I knew how fast I was going.

I did

He asked if I was aware of the speed limit.

I was

With a knowing smile he asked if I had a reason for speeding. I pursed my lips and shook my head side to side. Nope. I woke up at 4:30 a.m., gathered my things the night before and was on target to arrive an hour and a half before I was scheduled to speak.

Truthfully, I thought it was a little silly to detain a law-abiding, upstanding citizen on her way to speak at a Christian conference. Then it hit me:

James 2:10, “For whoever keeps the entire law, yet fails in one point is guilty of breaking it all.” NIV

LAW BREAKER

The speed limit on the interstate is 70 MPH. I was clocked at 77 MPH. Though I thought I deserved a little wiggle room, I broke the law. Plain and simple. No excuses. The limit was set at 70 MPH for my safety and my speed exceeded the law. His question was thought provoking. Why was I speeding?

MY DEFENSE

Sometimes I speed sin because I make poor choices and run late. Other times my speed sin drifts above the limit because I am not really paying attention.

Often it sin is simply a habit. Truthfully, I thought I could slide sin a little and get away with it.

Hebrews 2:1, “Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” ESV

MERCY

He gave me a warning. I had no defense if he had given me a ticket. Technically, I broke the law. I wonder what other laws I think I can skirt around? My mother always says, “What you do in moderation, your children will do in excess.” Yikes, what a terrifying thought.

Hosea 8:7,”They sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind.” NKJV

what you do in moderation, your children will do in excess #becareful Click To Tweet

HAVE ENOUGH SENSE TO STAY OUT OF THE RAIN

Theologically, I know all of God’s laws are for my protection. But if I am honest, on some issues it seems a little silly to be held to such high standards, so I try to blur the lines and move the boundaries. I may get away with a warning but oftentimes I fall flat on my face. Once I move the boundary, I am operating outside of God’s umbrella of protection. I hurt myself ignoring the rules and unfortunately I hurt others too.

Proverbs 22:28, “Do not move the ancient boundary which your fathers have set.” NASB

JUDGEMENT

Someday I will stand before God’s throne of judgement. If He asks me if I broke the law I will say, “Yes.” If He asks me if I knew the law, I will again answer, “Yes.” However, I will not be judged guilty. No, I am NOT doing my best to get to heaven. Instead I am depending on the righteousness of the One who has never broken the law. Sending His only Son to fulfill the law was the ultimate demonstration of God’s grace.

2 Corinthians 5:21, “How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.” MSG

Funny how blue lights in the rear view mirror made me look at myself and my own heart in the mirror. Thanks for loving me despite my faults and public failures. Thanks for sharing and inviting your friends to follow. We all need a little mercy and grace, right?

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Would you live here?

Would you live here?

Instead of a fixer-upper, it’s more like a faller-downer. I don’t want to live here, apparently neither does anyone else.

If this was my house I would never invite you over. In fact, when I know company is coming I usually light a  vanilla scented candle and whiz through the house to make sure everything is spiffed up and put away. The stack of mail which permanently resides on the counter top is stuffed into a drawer. I don’t recommend it though, somehow I misplaced our passports. They must be in my house, but for the life of me I can’t recall where.

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Who is he?

 

GLORY

After all he had seen and all he had heard, he dared to ask such a bold question.

Then Moses said,

PLEASE SHOW ME YOUR GLORY

I have been contemplating the glory of God. I am currently working on material for a women’s retreat. Unveiled will be a study of the glory of God. Last night I compiled the above phrases from scripture. Last night, before I got the call this morning.

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When you know you are about to crash

young boy about to crash with a scared look on his face, isolaed on a white background

I tucked my elbows close to my body and snugged my knees close to the frame so my bicycle would sail down the hill. The blur of asphalt gave me pause, but only a little. The pain of road rash when I was eight years old was seared into the back of my mind. Suddenly, I noticed debris on the road. I was fast approaching the curve in the road and knew it would be impossible to stop. A crash was inevitable. It was time to put on my helmet. Fortunately, I brought it with me in case I needed it, so I snugged it on my head and buckled the chin strap so the Styrofoam shell would cushion the blow soon coming to my skull.

ABSOLUTELY ABSURD

In reality, I never clipped my feet to the pedals until after I secured my helmet. Never. If I waited until a crash was looming before me, it would be too late. I have knelt on the side of the road for forty-five minutes waiting on the ambulance to pick up my dear friend whose scapula was shattered from a bike wreck, but whose head was protected by a helmet. However, the helmet did not fare so well, it was cracked in three places.

DON’T WAIT

Where is your helmet? Do you have your helmet ready in case you need it or is it strapped to your head in advance? Recently, I shared a story about a young widow whose first conscious thought after her husband died was, “I trust God.” That may have been her first conscious thought, but she could not have decided that in the moment. No, I suspect she and God go way back. I would bet He has demonstrated His faithfulness over and over. Otherwise, how could He be trusted?

YOU NEED A HISTORY

Trust comes from relationship and relationship takes time. Bonds are formed from shared experiences and conversations. When I was first diagnosed with myasthenia gravis in my eyes, I was in God’s word. Isaiah 41:10 became my lifeline,

“Don’t panic. I’m with you. I’ll help you and give you strength. I have a firm grip on you.” MSG

I believed God would be faithful tomorrow because I knew without a doubt He was faithful yesterday. But what if I did not know Him before the crash? If we didn’t have a history, I would not have been able to trust Him. Instead I would have trusted myself and I don’t know if I would have survived and surely I would not have thrived.

PUT ON YOUR HELMET

In fact put on the whole armor of God.

  • The helmet of salvation
  • The shield of faith
  • The breastplate of righteousness
  • Feet shod with the gospel of peace
  • The sword of  the Spirit which is the word of God

Ephesians 6:13, “This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day and having prepared everything, to take your stand.” HCSB

Get your armor on in advance. Once you see the debris on the road, it’s too late!

On Saturday, I will share a guest post about God’s armor, which includes an opportunity to win a free book from the author. If you don’t receive my posts in your inbox, enter your email address so you don’t miss it.

You’re not from here, are you?

FullSizeRender - Copy (11)

It is fairly obvious I am not Chinese.   Although my height does not set me apart, my eyes are blue and my hair is too light.  The only phrases I speak in Chinese are “hello”, “thank you” and “How much does it cost?”  The latter is THE most important phrase any woman in a foreign country needs to know.  I am fairly proficient with chopsticks by Western standards, but my skills are comparatively inadequate abroad. So when I traveled to China, it was obvious I was not from there.

Psalm 137:4, “How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?” NIV

STAND OUT

Sometimes we are not supposed to blend.  We are called to be different.  And it should be obvious we are not from here because we talk differently,  dress differently and have a different culture.

John 17:16, “They are not of the world, as I am not of the world.” HCSB

CUT IT OFF

God commanded Abraham to circumcise himself and his sons.  He wanted His chosen people to physically look different from the peoples around them. No doubt, He  still wants His followers to look different from the world.  He wants us to look like Him, so people know who we are from.

Colossians 2:11, “In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ.” ESV

THE HEART

Although the command for external circumcision was intended for the Jews, followers of Jesus  are to allow their hearts to be circumcised.  Cutting off the foreskin was a painful, bloody mess; circumcision of the heart even more so. In both scenarios, the process is often private.

Ezekiel 36:24-28, “For here’s what I’m going to do:  I’m going to take you out of these countries, gather you from all over, and bring you back to your own land.  I’ll pour pure water over you and scrub you clean.  I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you.  I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed , not self-willed.  I’ll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands.  You’ll once again live in the land I gave your ancestors.  You’ll be my people!  I’ll be your God!” MSG

HOW WILL THEY KNOW?

 I want people to know I am not from here. It should be obvious. I want to focus on eternity and not get caught up in this world I am just passing through. Jesus told His disciples how the world would know they were following Him. The most obvious characteristic of a Christian is how they treat others, especially the unlovable.

John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  By this shall all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” NKJV

WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

Be careful not to blend in with the world. Let’s speak differently, act differently and react differently. Although it is not necessary to be proficient with chopsticks, loving others is not optional.  That is how they will know.

If you are not receiving email updates in your inbox, you are invited to follow My Right Side Up Life.  Who knows where we will go, but it will certainly be an adventure.

Is that a bee?

Is that a bee?

DENIAL AND BLAME

I did a double take as I walked through the house on a peaceful Saturday morning. My double French doors were buzzing and crawling. Conveniently, my husband was in the shower and did not respond to my clamoring. My neighbor is a bee keeper, so naturally I figured he knew what to do. After scrambling to locate his phone number, I called him and breathlessly explained the situation, to which he replied, “They probably aren’t bees; they’re probably wasps.”

NOT BEES!

I may look like a city girl, but, I know nature and I am quite certain I know the difference between a bee and a wasp.Thanks to my dad I even know the difference between a white oak, black oak and pin oak tree. Nevertheless, the beekeeper agreed to help. Covered in protective gear, he entered my house to to assess the situation. Sure enough they were bees, not that I would have preferred wasps in my house. Did I mention they were inside my house?

He determined the 200 or so workers were swarming outside and entering through the chimney flue. We immediately closed it and opened the doors so the bees could go outside where they belonged. Guess what he told me next?  “Well they are bees, but…

THEY AREN’T MY BEES

Okay. I guess it was just a little coincidence that they followed him home. Isn’t that the way we are though?

It’s not my fault…

It’s not my responsibility…

I can’t help it…

It’s not sin, and if it is sin, it’s not MY sin

Jeremiah 6:14, “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious.  ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.”  NIV

LOOKING IN

I am experiencing a season in my life for introspection. Self examination is not always pleasant, but is necessary in order to take responsibility for my own actions. It’s easy to assign blame or ownership to someone else:  our parents, our background, our spouse or simply our circumstances. Feelings are no excuse for behavior.

Our circumstances do not determine who we are, our circumstances reveal who we are Click To Tweet

Psalm 26:2, “Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my mind and my heart.” NKJV

I DON’T WANT ANYTHING THAT STINGS  INSIDE MY HOUSE

If you are feeling separated from God, take an honest look at your life. God wants a personal relationship with His people but sin separates us from a holy God. Examining my own life I see many failures, but if I stay there, feeling like a failure, I will eventually act like a failure. God is eager to restore and He knows our failures and yet He offers grace. He wants us to admit our sin and receive the grace He offers. He forgives, completely and it is enough.

Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” KJV

Time to do a little house cleaning…