Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Mourning Glenn Frey

I’ve been grief stricken since learning of Glenn Frey’s death on January 18, 2016. I’ll be the first to say my reaction seems irrational because I’ve always considered fans who cry over the death of a singer or an actor a little crazy. For the love of Pete, certify me right now! I’m still tearing up when I think about him dying. Simply put, I loved Glenn Frey.

Lisa -1978
This one-sided love affair began on a Friday night in 1973 while I was watching ABC Concert. During the show the most beautiful man I had ever seen started singing about a peaceful easy feeling. Bam! Boom! KaPow! I was IN LOVE!! I didn’t know who this Adonis was, but I was going to marry him. Is anything more pure than a pre-teen girl’s love?

I discovered the handsome man’s name and became one of the millions of fans who loved Eagles’ music and Glenn in particular. It was tragic when news spread in 1982 Eagles were no more. How could it all be over? Well, history shows Glenn Frey and Don Henley would continue making music and both would have successful solo careers. My history shows I grew up during that time and my silly teen fantasies came to an end.

I liked his solo work, but it was the Frey – Henley team I found magical. So, to say 1994 was anything but an incredibly happy year, musically speaking, would be an understatement. Glenn and Don would do something no other American rock group seemed to be able to do. They would reassemble the team and pick up where they left off. They were, for lack of a better term, an anomaly.

Fourteen more years would pass before I finally got to see Eagles in concert. I may be prejudiced, but it’s the best concert I’ve ever attended simply because it was low key and focused on the music. Glenn was older, but he still had it. It was a dream come true.
2015 would bring them back my way, but tickets were so expensive and I passed. As you might guess, I wish I had splurged because that was my last opportunity to share time and space with this beloved man.

For more than 42 years Glenn Frey, prolific song writer, gifted musician, and incredible singer, brought me indescribable joy. To call it love may not be accurate. In truth, I don’t know if you can really love someone you've never met, but I can’t think of any other term to describe the enduring place he holds in my heart. He's gone, but he will never be forgotten. I'll always have his music and the memory of a hot summer night when the most handsome man with long brown hair first sang to me; a time when we were young, full of big dreams, and still had a lifetime to live them.

Eagles 1973 - Live on BBC

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Greater Love Has No One Than...

I’ve been working on a Women’s Retreat and one of the passages we will study in depth is Luke 9:23.  “Then He said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (NIV)  The crux of this passage is once we say we are followers of Jesus, we are also saying it isn’t our desires that matter, but His.  We live to be just like Jesus.

In John 15:13, Jesus says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (NIV)  Now, as a Christian I know Jesus was telling His disciples He was about to literally die to save them, and if we say we are His disciples, we should be willing to do the same.  However, I also think this verse says very much the same thing as Luke 9:23.  If I’m living John 15:13 and Luke 9:23, then I will deliberately think of myself less and others more.  So what does “laying one’s life down for one’s friends” really look like?

Yesterday, I went to see Cinderella with some friends.  After the movie ended and we were exiting the theater, we hit a bottleneck.  It wasn’t until we got out of the theater I saw what had been holding us up.  It was a feeble, old man, who looked like he might be 90 years old.  He was moving very slowly and hanging on to the arm of a young man I’m guessing was his grandson.  The grandson was either in his late teens or early twenties.  Just ahead of them was another man, who was probably in his 40s and he looked just like the grandson.  These two strapping man had brought their dad/grandfather to see Cinderella.  It was the sweetest display of love I’ve ever seen.

I’m guessing when grandpa said, “Boys, let’s go to the movies.”  The younger men thought, “Yes!  We can go see something where things blow up and everyone has guns.”  It had to be a little shocking to learn Gramps wanted to see Cinderella.  This is not a movie designed to attract the male viewers.  No doubt they thought, “This is the last movie I ever want to see!!”  Or, maybe, “I’m not interested in spending my afternoon watching a girl movie.”  And yet there they were with grandpa watching Cinderella.

Those guys laid down their lives for the old man.  And, that’s what John 15:13 is all about.  In the son and grandson, I saw Jesus, and He was beautiful.

Every day, we have opportunities to deny ourselves for the sake of others.  Sometimes it’s giving up our time; sometimes it’s giving up our money; and sometimes it’s doing something we don’t really want to do.  But we lay down our lives out of love to help a family member or a friend accomplish something of interest or importance to them.

Jesus knew all about love and He knew those who love the greatest are willing to sacrifice.  When we lay down our lives for our friends, we show how great our love is for Jesus.  And others who are watching will not see us, but will see something more beautiful.  They will see Jesus.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Mac Powell Goes Country. Is Armageddon Next?

I don’t know if Armageddon is next, but some people’s reaction to Mac Powell’s new country album would make you think the anti-Christ had just taken power.  But, the anti-Christ is not the point of my post.  The point is the reaction to Mac's new album.

If you’re unfamiliar with Mac, you may be saying, “Who’s Mac Powell and why does it matter if he made a country music album?”  Mac is the lead singer for the Christian group Third Day.  And, it really doesn’t matter at all that he’s made a country music album, unless you are a modern day Pharisee.  Now, I’ve not listened to the entire album, just the samples on Mac’s website, but as a whole, the songs appear to be light and somewhat silly, and Mac says he just wanted to have fun.

Most people seem to like the album based on the Amazon reviews, and if you liked the sound of Alabama, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the Allman Brothers, you’ll probably like Mac’s album too.  But, I’m not writing a review.  I’m writing because Mac hasn’t committed a mortal sin in releasing a country album even though some people act like he has.

Two of the reasons, I believe, so many people don’t want to become Christians are because so many Christians find it necessary to criticize other Christians publicly.and so many act like you can’t have fun and love God too.  Now in writing this blog, I realize I am being critical, but I am not implying any of the reviewers have somehow turned from God.  I am simply struck by the fact, we won't win people to Christ by being self-righteously critical and humorless.

One reviewer on Amazon indicated Mac needed to “hold true to the calling” from God and quoted Romans 12:3.  And, of course, they mentioned, they weren’t going to buy the album.  So my first question is why are you commenting under customer reviews?  My next question is how has Mac violated his calling from God by making a solo country album?  Mac isn’t forsaking his Christianty to become a country star.  Are we to conclude if God has called you to do something, you aren’t allowed to use those same talents to do anything else?   And, how does making a country album with mostly harmless lyrics mean Mac is conforming to this world?  

Another commenter on Mac’s website posted something to the effect that “Singing for Jesus isn’t good enough?”  which just flabbergasts me.  Let’s see, Mac has been singing for Jesus for 20 years with Third Day.  I just saw them in concert last week and they sang only songs for Jesus.  They all appear to be the most genuine men who clearly love the Lord.  They even have a new album coming out in the fall that’s all about Jesus.  I don’t think Mac has stopped singing about Jesus.  Moreover, I believe Jesus probably had some fun while he was here on earth.  I think he laughed, joked, and maybe even sang a top ten 30 AD song or two.  The disciples in their accounts of Jesus were more concerned about telling who Jesus was and why it was important to follow him than they were at giving us an in depth look at Jesus’ personality.  I understand that was the most important thing to do.  But I feel certain he had a sense of humor, and that even Jesus liked to have fun.  But, so many people want to mold him into a humorless and morose one-dimensional character, and then wonder why people don’t want to follow him. 

Another person commented on the comment of the person who thinks Mac needs to stick to his calling.  This person thinks the song “Saturday Night” is promoting willful sin and makes people think the reason you go to church is because you want to get forgiveness for living wrong, which makes lost people think Christians are no different than they are.  In defense of this person, the lyrics do say, “Trying to find forgiveness for what I did Saturday night.”  I guess I can see this person’s point and maybe Mac could have put it differently, but at the same time, if you’ve done something you shouldn’t have done, going to church and asking for forgiveness isn’t really a bad thing to do.  Mac doesn't spell out for us what he needs forgiveness for, but if I were going to give the song a rating, it still would be “G” rated.

In the end, I agree most with the reviewer who thinks Mac’s country album might reach a whole different audience for the Lord.  Think about it; you’re a lost person and you just happen to love country music.  You hear a new song by a guy named Mac Powell.  You decide to find out more about Mac Powell and you discover he’s the lead singer for a group called Third Day.  You like Mac’s sound, so you decide you’ll check out Third Day.  While you’re listening to Third Day, you hear something that makes you think about what kind of relationship you have with God, and suddenly you’re convicted you need to have a relationship with God.  And, so one lost person accepts Jesus and starts living a God honoring life.  I think Mac’s done a service for God.  Of course, I could be wrong.  Maybe God will be very upset that a lost person came to know Him by first listening to a country music song by a guy who makes a living singing Christian music.  But, I don't think so because Jesus didn't hang out with the Pharisees.  Jesus hung out with the sinners because the super, pious were to self-righteous to see him for who he really was, and the sinners knew he was the only hope they had.   

So what is my take away?  I want to shut my mouth when I feel the need to criticize a fellow brother or sister in Christ for something I don't think they should have done.  I want to reflect Christ in how I treat everyone and if what I have to say doesn't show his love, then I don't want to say it. 

In conclusion, the lyrics I heard are all “G” rated.  Mac doesn’t mention going to the bar, drinking until he can’t stand up, starting a brawl, or cheating on his wife with the woman next door.  He does sing about loving someone forever, holding someone’s hand, and feeling really stupid for acting like a fool.  Bless his heart; it looks like he was just trying to have fun.

And I will hope for the sake of all those who are highly offended by Mac’s country album that when they get to heaven they are not required to attend a Heavenly Hoe-Down every Saturday night.  But, if they are, do you think these super holy saints will ask to leave?  Nope, I think they’ll grab their partner and happily do-si-do around the throne of God.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Firefighter Challenge

This past Saturday night I attended a fundraiser involving firefighters from across the state.  It was a blast and the firefighters were all good sports and seemed to be the most genuine people.  Throughout the evening, we attendees treated these guys and one gal as if they were celebrities.  We were getting their autographs and having our pictures made with them as if they were famous movie stars.  For that night, they received admiration.

It wasn't until the next day I realized the significance of the event.  The right people were treated like heroes.  We freely give our adoration to movie stars, rock stars, and athletes, and so many of them really don't deserve it.  But all across our country, police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and other civil servants risk their lives for us, and we take them for granted.  Rarely, do we think of them as superstars.  But, they are the real superstars.  They are the people who will risk their lives for you and me - people they don't even know.  "There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends."  (John 15:13, NLT) These men and women who would die to save us deserve our admiration and adoration every day not just at a special event.

So, I want to challenge you to make May "Firefighter Appreciation" month.  Take the time to send a note to your local fire department or fire house and say thanks.  I believe the guys I met Saturday would really appreciate it.

If you take the challenge, let me know.  I'd like to know about it.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Mercy Triumphs

A few weeks ago I completed a Beth Moore study entitled Mercy Triumphs.  It was about the life of James, the brother of Jesus.  My prayer at the beginning of the study was to be a different person when I finished and I believe I am.

The title came from James 2:13 (HCSB), "For judgment is without mercy to the one who hasn't shown mercy.  Mercy triumphs over judgment."  The NLT version says, "There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others.  But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you."  Wow!  I see the big target across my chest, and I felt the piercing arrow of God's conviction when I read it.   You see, there was someone I needed to show mercy and it was long over due.

Five years ago, I had a friend I believed would be a friend for life.  That is until romance happened.  My friend had never had a romantic relationship before, and to say she completely lost her mind is an understatement.  We had been friends for eight years, and suddenly, I was expendable.  She was a part of a couple now, and we all know about the universal law that says if you are part of a couple, your single friends are no longer necessary.  I mean, what does a woman, who now has a partner, have in common with a single woman?

Over the course of six months, she went from ignoring me to carefully planning ways she could hurt me.  She didn't feel compelled to maintain our relationship, but I wasn't supposed to go on with my life.  I was supposed to sit at home and wait to see if her romance worked out, and if by chance it didn't then we could pick up where we left off.  When other friends tried to intervene, they too found themselves on the wrong side.  They were supposed to hate me because she hated me now.  Within a year, she had alienated all of her closest friends.  She made one weak attempt at an apology, which went something like this: "I'm sorry I hurt you, but we both did things we shouldn't have done."  I confess I didn't feel gracious and mercy didn't triumph.  I walked away deeply wounded and began working through the stages of grief over this lost relationship.

It took a long time to forgive her, and an even longer time to be willing to show mercy, but God didn't let up.  He kept working on me until I started to feel more compassion toward her.  Just after Easter last year, I sent her a card and explained how much she meant to me, why I had walked away, and apologized if I had hurt her.  I felt better even though I didn't truly feel I owed her an apology. 

God wasn't finished yet.  By Christmas, I had reached a point to where I felt I could actually be friends with her again, and in my Christmas card to her, I wrote how it would be great to see her.  She didn't respond, but I didn't really expect her to. 

Then, I started the study of James.  I realized, I needed to show her mercy.  First, because that's what Jesus would do, but secondly, mercy would free me.  As I thought about this, I realized that while my life had gone on, and I had been blessed with two new friends that I so enjoy being around, I still had room in my heart for my old friend.  I didn't trust her not to hurt me again, but I was willing to take that chance.

So, I began inviting her to things.  I invited her to a movie we showed at church.  She didn't respond.  Next, I invited her to join me and my friends for dinner.  The last invitation was the key.  As soon as I sent the email to her, I felt something inside that I can only describe as God's happiness with me.  I found myself smiling because I felt as if God were smiling, and it felt good.

Several days passed and then I got an email from her.  She thanked me for the invitations, but indicated she wasn't interested in renewing our friendship.  She didn't want to be hurt again.

I felt some sadness, but no anger or bitterness.  I emailed her and thanked her for responding and letting me know how she felt.  I said I understood because I knew how hard it would be to rebuild the trust we once had.  I said I was disappointed, but I would look forward to renewing our friendship when we both reached Glory.  I closed by saying I knew God was fond of her and so was I, and if she ever changed her mind I would consider it a beautiful thing.

Perhaps, she will change her mind some day.  I doubt it.  But, this showing mercy wasn't really about her at all.  It was about being obedient.  It was about being like Jesus.  It was about giving someone something they hadn't earned.  She deserved my mercy because God showed me mercy.  She deserved grace because God showed me grace.

By allowing mercy to triumph over judgment, I set myself free.  Something God knew would happen the minute I could say I will show you mercy.


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Living on the Periphery

For most of my life I've felt like a person on the periphery.  Webster defines the periphery as "the outermost region or part within a precise boundary or perimeter."  Peripheral refers to the visual field and of course means "being on the outer area of the visual field."  It may seem odd to think of oneself as only a peripheral, but it's an accurate description for me.

Sometimes I've chosen to be on the periphery.  Trusting people isn't always easy.  After experiencing emotional pain and hurt from others, it's harder to put myself out there again.  Still, other times, I believe others have put me in the periphery.  I'm allowed in to a certain degree, but not into the inner circle. 

Being a periphery person is a struggle because like most people I want to be a part of things.  I want to be a part of the inner circle.

I've been reminded recently of how we can place people on the periphery without even realizing that we have.  At the first of the year I started attending a Christian women's class, and I truly believe these ladies are for real.  But, immediately I was placed in the periphery because I didn't "join" the class.  Members are put into small groups so they can get to know other members in more social type settings.  There was a lively discussion as to what to do with me since I hadn't "joined" the class and the conclusion was I wouldn't be placed in a small group until I joined.  Obviously, as a "visitor" I wouldn't want to get to know other class members, and obviously they don't want to get to know me. 

And then I'm left wondering why we Christians make it so hard for people to fellowship with us?  Jesus accepted all who came to Him.  He accepted them as they were.  All a person had to say to enjoy all Jesus had to offer was I believe you are my savior.  And all the riches of heaven became available for that person.  Jesus didn't put people on the periphery then, and He doesn't do it now.

Having been reminded of how disheartening it is to be placed in the periphery, I've made a resolution to do everything I can to keep people from feeling like I do right now.  I believe Christians would make a greater impact for the Kingdom of Heaven if we could just love people where they are and for who they are without expecting them to become something else in order to be allowed into the inner circle.

If we could love like Jesus, no one would ever have to be in the periphery again.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Friendship, Loyalty and Love

I've had this post written for weeks and was saving it for Valentine's Day.  It seemed the perfect time to post it, but it actually reflects a commitment I made at the first of the year.

My only New Year's resolution for 2012 is to know and love Jesus more at the end of the year than I did at the beginning.  At the end of February, I will finish reading the Bible in one year.  I have found things I never noticed before, but the reality is, I've read it, not really spent time reflecting on what I've read.  So, I've decided when I finish the Read the Bible in a Year Challenge, I'm going to focus on the gospels so I can focus only on Jesus.

To help me in my quest, I have a visual reminder.  For the last 17 years I've worn a Claddagh ring on my right hand.  The claddagh is a traditional Irish ring made up of a crown, a heart, and two hands.

The crown represents loyalty; the heart, love; and the hands, friendship.  Friendship, loyalty, and love - three things that must be present for a relationship to be meaningful. 

The claddagh can be worn on the right hand with the heart facing out if the person's heart is still available.  If the person becomes involved in a relationship, she will turn the ring so the heart faces toward her.  Some people will use the claddagh as a wedding ring, and naturally they will wear it on their left hand with the heart facing toward them.  This is a sign of true commitment.

On January 1, I moved my claddagh from my right hand to my left with the heart facing toward me to indicate the commitment I've made to do what it takes to be more in love with Jesus on December 31, 2012, than I've ever been in my life.

I'm sure some people may think it's crazy or creepy, but I think it makes me more accountable.  If Jesus is my true love, then I should be showing it every day.  When I put my ring on in the morning, I think of Him because I know why I'm putting it on my left hand.  When I take it off at night, I'm reminded again of why the ring is there.  And, anytime I look down and catch a glimpse of it, I'm reminded to think about who He is and the commitment I've made.

Jesus wants my friendship.  I don't have to be the smartest, prettiest, or most popular girl to have His attention.  He is completely loyal to me.  I may prove unfaithful and turn from Him, but He's always waiting for me to return.  He loves me despite everything I've ever done or will ever do.  He is the only one who will always be a true friend.  His loyalty will never falter.  He is the only one I am absolutely sure will always love me.  Jesus, His love never fails me, and His love won't fail you.