Finding Your Voice


I’m just a singer of simple songs
I’m not a real political man
I watch CNN but I’m not sure I can tell
You the difference in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith, hope and love are some good things He gave us
And the greatest is love… Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?                                     Alan Jackson, Country Music Singer

It was in November of 2001 when I first heard the song, Where were you (When the World Stopped Turning). It was during a program… some sort of country music awards… and if I’m not mistaken, Alan Jackson humbly took the stage, hesitant to sing his song. And I’m pretty sure it was the first time anyone heard those lyrics. Today, I was prompted to look up the story behind the song. Through Wikipedia, I learn that Alan Jackson didn’t want to do a patriotic song, nor a vengeful song. And the last thing he wanted to do was to capitalize on such a tragedy. He simply wanted to convey his thoughts and emotions, but words didn’t come immediately. It was on October 28, 2001 that he woke up at 4 a.m. with the melody and opening lines and a chorus going through his mind. And so, still in his underwear, he arose to sing them into a hand-held recorder so he wouldn’t forget them. It was later that morning, after his wife and children went off to Sunday School, that he completed the lyrics. This songwriter didn’t find his voice immediately after the tragedy of 9/11. It was about a month and a half later when the words made their presence known in his heart and mind. And although they delayed in coming to him, it took only one morning to write down what he felt. This singer/songwriter had a voice and he used it. And through it, he has touched countless lives.

You know, in reflecting on that tragic day, another song comes to mind. It’s called One Last Time by Dusty Drake. I was sitting in my cubicle at The Pantry Inc., located in Sanford, NC, and I started humming along mindlessly as I worked. I thought the song was about a man leaving his wife. But then, a line cut through my work induced haze… “as the pilot tried to pull out of the dive. One last time.” That’s when I understood. This song wasn’t about a domestic argument, but rather, the song depicted a man who risked everything on United Airlines Flight 93. The song was about the plane that crashed in a field on 9/11. And there, in my cubicle, I was reduced to tears.

See, there’s power in words. And what a gift these songwriters have. How amazing to put together words with music to convey a feeling, an event, or even a tragedy. A songwriter can touch a soul and move someone to want to be different. A songwriter has a voice. And that voice can be easily heard.

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18

You know… there’s another type of voice. And it’s one that speaks just as loudly, and just as clearly, as the lyrics we hear on the radio. And the voice I’m referring to is action. In truth, actions speak much louder than our words ever will. I’ll give you an example. My friend told me about her mother’s weekly grocery store visits, which fall on Thursdays. That’s her routine, and so inevitably, she encounters the same people at the grocery store. And recently, during one of her routine shopping trips, she was approached by one of the employees working there. The employee asked, “You’re a Christian, aren’t you?” When my friend’s mother said that she was, the worker asked her to please pray for someone. And so, because my friend’s mother conducts herself in such a way, it was evident to those around her that she was a Christian. She didn’t have to say a word, or yell out, “I’m a Christian,” for her very nature and disposition flew her Christian flag for her. The actions of my friend’s mother must speak very loudly in that grocery store.  And today, I am inspired by that. Today, this is the kind of voice I want to find within me.

In First Corinthians 12:7, we find that God’s Spirit equips us for different gifts, different ministries and different activities. And the purpose of God’s gifting is to produce what’s beneficial. God’s Spirit dwells within us, prompting us to action, for the “common good.” And after this passage, which breaks down those gifts, Paul uses his voice to show the Corinthians a more excellent way. Because although God’s gifts are necessary and good, if that most excellent way is not part of us, then all the works we do are useless. Our voices become loud and unedifying and brassy.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;  does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;  does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;  bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13

It sounds simple. Too simple. But today, of all days, may we all find our voices within the language of love. May love, which is heard through action, cry out above the clanging cymbals of hatred and unforgivingness, which surround us. And today, in honor of those who have fallen, may we never forget that more excellent way. Paul used his voice to advance it, and Alan Jackson reiterates Paul’s words trough song. When we hear their voices, may we remember…

…faith, hope and love are some good things He gave us. And the greatest is love…

Love speaks loudly. Can you hear her?

So, what do you know?


It’s been said that ignorance is bliss. And what you don’t know can’t hurt you, right? Or how about this one… “I’m from Virginia! I don’t know anything!” Most of you are familiar with the first two phrases, I’m sure, but since I coined the last expression, it may be new to you. Yep, this last truism encapsulates me. I am surely from a small town in Virginia. And there’s no mistaking it, I don’t know anything. At least about cities and places beyond my borders. See, I live in a small town. And I work from home. So I am far removed from the harsher realities that inner city life can afford its inhabitants. I have been sheltered from that lifestyle… it’s something I do not know.

Last night, I was captivated by a movie called Freedom Writers. Its theme goes hand in hand with all that I’ve been stewing on lately. And the story happens to be based on true events. See, Erin Gruwell was a brand-new teacher and her first job landed her in a classroom filled with low-performing students. A privileged woman with a college degree was deposited smack in the middle of room 203, completely engulfed by racial tension, violence, and gang activity. And at first, she felt ill-equipped for the task at hand. Because basically, in my mind, I see a woman “from Newport Beach, and she didn’t know anything!” Because the reality of that classroom had to have been far different from anything she had ever imagined. Her smile was removed from her countenance as she realized these fourteen and fifteen year olds had experienced a very dark side of life. One she had never known… Abuse. Drugs. Homelessness. Drive-bys. Death. Incarcerations. Suicides. Immigration. And not only did this teacher meet with resistance from the kids, the school system itself was a deterrent. It was as if the school had already given up on them. They were freshmen, but their skills were not much beyond a fifth grade level. The goal was to usher them through the school as painlessly as possible.

Rather than turn the other direction in fear, this woman dug in and persevered. And rather than give up on these hopeless kids, she became a drink offering in that she poured out her life into theirs. When the school refused to give the students new books, she worked additional jobs so that she could purchase them. When the school resisted field trips, she made the way. This teacher gave them all that she could, and offered them experiences beyond their wildest expectations. One of the most amazing things Erin Gruwell did was to use books the kids could identify with, such as The Diary of Anne Frank. In opening their eyes to the struggle of a young Jewish girl who lived fifty years earlier, the kids saw a bit of themselves within her and they were finally able to make the connection with the other people sitting next to them in the classroom. By the teacher’s leading, the kids were able to take down the invisible barriers that separated them, and identify with each other. And this was a remarkable feat in that the kids from birth were conditioned to stick with their own and to take care of their own, even if that meant lying or killing.

Erin Gruwell encouraged the troubled kids to write about their adversity. Through her leadership, the students realized that each one had something important to say. And they realized their potential as they began to write, each one finding their voice. Through a project, the kids put together a book composed of the journal entries to tell the story of their lives. So that even if no one else read it, they themselves would never forget. We can all read about their struggles, as a book called The Freedom Writer’s Diary was published in 1999. Pretty amazing, huh? Because there was no hope for these kids… these outcasts… these gangsters… these trouble makers. Before that teacher came on the scene, these students were not expected to be successful. But they did make it. Some of them were the first in their families to graduate. And most, if not all of them, went to college. All because of a woman named Erin Gruwell, who was not afraid to step up for something she believed in. All because of a woman – who at first didn’t know anything – dared to lead them. And that’s exactly what they needed… someone to follow.

I have to share a few of the speeches. My hope is that you’ll feel as inspired as I am. The first came from Miep Gies, the woman who hid Anne Frank during the holocaust. After one of the students told her that she was his hero, she replied, “No, no – I am not a hero. I did what I had to do because it was the right thing to do. That is all. We are all ordinary people. But even an ordinary secretary or housewife or teenager can within their own small ways turn on a small light in a dark room, yeah?” And later, through a heated discussion, Erin defends her passion. She said that she hadn’t planned on becoming responsible for the kids. And when she heard, “Their not your kids, and who asked you to?” Her response was, “Why do I have to be asked?” She expounded, “I finally realize what I’m supposed to be doing and I love it. When I’m helping these kids make sense of their lives, everything about my life makes sense to me. How often does a person get that?” And finally, when she cried to her father because of uncertainty, he told her, “What you’ve done with these kids, I don’t even have words for it. But one thing’s for sure, you are an amazing teacher… you have been blessed with a burden, my daughter.” And that’s it right there. Erin Gruwell was blessed with a burden. May we each one be so blessed.

So what does this movie and these speeches have to do with anything? I think everything. See, through this story, we see a woman willing to give up her life for the sake of others. And this is the story of Jesus, for Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life… And like her, we’re wired to do something. Because His Spirit is in us, equipping us to do His will. No, we can’t all be teachers, like Erin Gruwell. But the truth is, we each one know something. And our own stories give us the best clues. What is it that we know? What is it in our own pasts that have shaped us and molded us? And can we use it? Will someone else relate to our story?

If you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday. Isaiah 58:10

Those are beautiful words through Isaiah. Moving words. Inspiring words. But you know, they’re not beyond us. Each of us can extend our souls to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted. We just need to figure out what we know, and how to use what we know. There is a practical way to accomplish Isaiah 58:10, like Erin Gruwell who used teaching abilities to lead young kids. She reached out to a group of intimidating kids, and chose not to give up on them. Most of the world turned away from them, but she used what she had to satisfy their afflicted souls.

Yes, it’s pretty tempting to say, “I’m from Virginia and I don’t know anything.” Especially when I open my eyes to the harsher realities of life. And when I contemplate all the causes and issues I can align myself to, it’s completely intimidating. Because which one is the right one? Do I really know what God equipped me to do?

In truth, I do know something. See, like those freedom writers, I can use my own voice to tell my story. And although I’m an ordinary woman, I know how to turn on a small light in a dark room. I do know the difference between right and wrong. And there’s a whole world beyond my borders. Before I know it, I’ll be blessed with a burden for something that is beyond me. Then, I’ll know what I’m supposed to do, for I’ll have a burning passion. And when He leads me to it, whatever it may be, my whole life will make sense. For it’s what I’ve been waiting for… my burden.

God in heaven is looking down on me. Before I know it, He’ll call out and say, “My daughter… you have been blessed with a burden.” Then I will know…

“We are most alive when we are loving and actively giving of ourselves because we were made to do these things.” – Francis Chan, Forgotten God

Fly your Flag


Twenty two years ago, I set out in hope of making it on my own. I ventured out on wobbly legs, believing with all my heart that I would be able to stand. In my naiveté, I thought I could move one thousand miles away and fully tackle life. I thought I would be fine away from my mom, away from my dad, and away from everything I knew. Because I had my friend. And we were seeking what every teenager yearns for… freedom. I thought that I’d find freedom in a place called Fort Lauderdale, Florida. But since I didn’t have much of a plan, my stay lasted just short of two months. Before I knew it, I realized that Florida was not the land of the free. At least for me.

It’s one evening in particular that comes to mind. A night that was telling in every way. See, I came home to my apartment late, only to find it filled with at least sixty people. Each room was filled, and there was quite a party in full swing. And so, I did what most eighteen year old girls would do… I joined in. However, things became a little loud. People started to filter through the whole complex, congregating in the stairwells and using the pool. There were arguments and fire alarms were pulled. And it’s not surprising that the police made an appearance. But I didn’t want to talk to them. I wasn’t equipped to. I was underage and I had been drinking. I was scared. However, when the police demanded to speak to someone whose name was on the lease, that task fell to me… a frightened, ignorant eighteen year old who had gotten herself into a predicament. Frankly, I didn’t know what to do about it. And you know, I really don’t recall much of the conversation between me and the police officers. Only one statement is clear. I cried out, “I’m from Virginia! I don’t know anything!” And now, I just have to laugh at that. What was I thinking? What kind of answer is that? I don’t know anything… Miraculously, I wasn’t taken to jail that night. And truth be told, I probably should have been.

Yes, my time in Florida is what I thought of this morning. And in the remembering… I see a picture of a naïve, young girl. Although she was ignorant in many ways, she set out courageously. However, she found out rather quickly that she was not equipped to be on her own. Not then. She wasn’t ready for the freedom she sought, and her own words proclaimed the truth… “I don’t know anything!” And so this is the statement that plagues me this morning. I am struck with the realization that in truth, not much has changed. I may be twenty-two years older than that young girl who set off on an adventure, but this morning I see… I don’t know anything!


Over the past week, I’ve explored pleading the fifth (keeping silent) and pleading Jesus (confessing with your mouth). But now, I realize there’s something else I’ve been pleading over time. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been pleading ignorance. At least in one particular arena. At all costs, I avoid politics, and current affairs, and the other hot issues of our day. Because I prefer to play it safe. If I see something controversial posted on Facebook, I dare not share it. Because what would people think of me? Or, because I’m so ignorant with regard to a certain topic, I stick my head in the sand rather than face it head on. Pretty cowardly when I think about it. But I’ve always had an excuse. I use ignorance. I justify not saying anything because I don’t know enough about a subject to address it. In essence, I plead, “I don’t know anything!” Just as that eighteen year old girl did long ago. But that’s not good enough for a forty year old woman. The reality is, it’s time to grow up. The reality is, it’s time to take responsibility. The reality is everything that we’ve heard since growing up is true… change begins with you! Take a stand! Do something!

My thoughts? God’s word says, “To him who has, more will be given; but to him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.” Mark 4:25. And so this morning, I wonder… what about freedom? Does this verse apply to freedom, too? We’re told we live in the land of the free, but at times, it feels that we’re helpless to do anything. It’s supposed to be we the people for the people, but it seems as if it’s a few people for certain people. Today, I feel threatened. As an American citizen, I feel a bit fearful of what the future holds. Because God’s word says a house divided cannot stand. What about our country? See, it was founded as one Nation under God, but now, America is many nations under many gods. Can our country stand? Will it?

Here’s the truth about me. I have taken my freedom for granted. I take my rights for granted. I take the United States of America for granted. Because I’ve been too comfortable. I leave all the political stuff to other people, because my life hasn’t been messed with much. I feel stable and somewhat secure, and by other countries’ standards, I’m rich. I’m doing just fine. But what about other people?

I have freedom… for today. Today, I can say what I want and I can worship God without the fear of being persecuted. But what about tomorrow? Because I see these freedoms being taken away bit by bit. And that alarms me. See, I wonder if what takes place in other countries can really take place here. Because the truth is, on other continents, Christians are murdered. Did you know this?  There are those who believe in Jesus Christ, and if they choose to stand for Him (to fly their flag, so to speak), they can be maimed, burned and slaughtered. Because of what they believe! Have you ever heard that? Why isn’t this front-page news? What’s taking place in Syria is horrible. It’s tragic and scary! But the reality is these things happen every single day. Every day people are killed for different causes, but the media chooses to report only what they deem important. It appears that Christians being murdered is not high on the list.

This week, something has come alive inside me. And I believe it’s called patriotism. After all this time. I am forty years old. Why the delay? Have I been too selfish? Too inward focused? Am I just now arising from a deep slumber? Or is it the threat to our country, and realizing that I’m at the mercy of what our leaders decide to do. It seems as if it’s their decision, not mine. And that scares me. Is it still “we the people, for the people.” Is it still my country tis of thee, sweet land of liberty….

Our fathers’ God to Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright,
With freedom’s holy light,
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God our King.

Freedom. It’s ours today. But we cannot sit by idly. We must fly our flags. And not just on flag poles. We the people must stand for what we believe in. Do you know what you believe in? I mean really know for certain? Are you impassioned for a cause? And if so, are you flying your flag? As for me, I no longer wish to plead ignorance. I don’t know anything is a poor excuse when freedom is at risk. My saying, “I don’t know anything,” is to surrender. And I love my country. I have a voice. And I will raise it… for America. I shall fly her flag. Proudly. Freedom will be my cry.

The Lampstand


“Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket or under a bed? Isn’t it to be put on a lampstand? For nothing is concealed except to be revealed, and nothing hidden except to come to light. Mark 4:21-22

My sister-in-law had a pastor who used to say, if you’re not doing anything for the cause, then take down your Christian flag. I understand what he means here. He’s saying that if the way you live your life doesn’t align with Christ, then don’t fly your flag. Don’t proclaim that you’re His if what you do brings dishonor to His name. Because your testimony will leave an impression on someone. Good or bad. How we decide to conduct ourselves will touch another’s life in some form or fashion. Each action we take through the course of our lives makes up our testimony. Our lives are our witness.

And there have been several times that I’ve questioned what I’m doing here. See, I am a woman. And I am overly sensitive (my husband can attest to that). I will take what someone says to me, and analyze it, and stew on it… and if it doesn’t jibe right – then I let it get me down. If I take a remark as criticism, I begin to doubt what I’m doing. And so, today, I wonder… Am I doing the right thing here? Because if you were to read through all the posts I’ve written, quite a few pertain to struggle. And I wonder – does that honor my Lord? Or, am I bringing dishonor to His name. Am I His credible witness? Or should I take down my Christian flag because my life just doesn’t align with His. I wonder…

I’ve titled this spot “The truth about God & me.” And I think in the very beginning, there may have been some “fluff.” I’d have to go back and read to be certain, but you know, there are some places you just don’t want to go. Some things may be better left alone… skimmed over or ignored. Because as a Christian, shouldn’t your life reflect nothing but light and glory and victory and peace and goodness and love? As a Christian, shouldn’t your light be shining bright to point out all the good there is in following Christ? As a Christian, shouldn’t your life be chock full of the fruits of the Spirit? But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22

The truth is, there should be. As a child of God, I should be loving and joyful and peaceful and patient and kind and all that other stuff. But you know what… I’m not there yet! I emphasize yet. I believe this is the whole point of my blogging. See, I’ve heard some phenomenal testimonies in my time. I have heard stories of those who found Jesus, and they did a complete 180, and they haven’t been the same since. And that’s wonderful. But sadly, this is not so with me. I am a Christian woman, I have no doubt. But the truth is, I hold to my old stuff. For the flesh is hard to overcome. My testimony is one of struggle, for I battle idols and hatred and strife and jealousy and selfish ambitions and factions among many other things. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Romans 7:19.

There’s a line from a movie that I like… there sits a man in the witness stand and an attorney hammers him, demanding the truth. Jack Nicholson’s voice rings out, “You can’t handle the truth!” Truth. It’s what we all want, right? Truth. It’s what can set one free. Truth. It’s what God demands of His people, for He desires truth in inward parts. Psalm 51:6. The 100% truth about God & me is that I struggle. And there are places that I cannot go yet in writing about Him. For I haven’t made it there yet.

A brother in Christ exhorts me to get the Bride mentality. But I can’t yet. Because the head knowledge has not made it to my heart yet. At least with regard to my being loved and cherished as a precious bride. I know He loves me, for His word tells me so. But for now… today… I have experienced God in other ways. He is my Heavenly Father, and He provides for me. I’ve experienced this. He is my wonderful Counselor and He guides me. I have experienced this. He is the still voice and speaks, for I have experienced this. He has a plan for my life. I know. I’ve experienced His hand maneuvering the seconds and minutes of my day. But cherished… by God? My head says yes, but my heart registers it not.

Another truth? I fancy myself a prophet. Because I love to proclaim God’s word and I want to encourage others. And for the longest time, I thought my mission was to proclaim freedom. But through the course of blogging, I had the shocking realization that I cannot do this! For how can one enslaved proclaim freedom? How can I help free captives when I am not free myself. Imprisoned by bars of my own making. Thus, I don’t feel free! And no doubt, I am not the only one. I am not the only one. I am not the only one. There are others… Christians… who have not experienced the freedom that is available to us through Christ. Why is that?

The truth about God & me, is I have far to go. And I am not the only one. Why fly this Christian flag of mine? Because I want women like me to know… there’s hope. I know my God is real. He speaks to me. He leads me. He provides for me. And I have no doubt that He’s leading me to that elusive freedom. He’s taking me by the hand and trying to convey to me how much he loves me. He’s been trying to show me this whole time. He wants me to know the truth. I can handle the truth. And the truth is, I’ve been bound. I am held by traditions and by rules and by regulations that were set forth by man long ago. I have been trying to adhere to all the things I think I should be doing… but Galatians 5 is clear. Christ has liberated us into freedom. Do not submit again to the yoke of slavery, for you are called to freedom!

The truth about God & me is that I am bound to law. But according to Galatians 5:14, the law can be fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself. And I’ve read that love covers a multitude of sin. Love and freedom. That’s what I want. I’m seeking it with all my heart, but for some reason, it eludes me. And from what I understand, it’s there for the taking. It’s free. This is part of my struggle. But you know what? I found something precious through God’s word not long ago… it gives me great hope.

The boy Samuel served the LORD in Eli’s presence. In those days the word of the LORD was rare and prophetic visions were not widespread. One day Eli, whose eyesight was failing, was lying in his room. Before the lamp of God had gone out, Samuel was lying down in the tabernacle where the ark of God was located. Then the LORD called Samuel, and he answered, “Here I am.” 1 Samuel 3:1-3

Samuel served the LORD, but at first, he never had a personal word from God. See, his mother had prayed for that boy, and she promised that if she gave birth, she’d give that boy to God. And so, Samuel was committed to the LORD before he even really knew Him. He began to serve because that’s what he was brought up to do. And as he lie near the ark of God, he heard a voice. It was God, but Samuel didn’t even recognize who was calling. Here is a boy who had been in service of the LORD, but he didn’t even know God’s voice when it came. But God didn’t stop after one time…

To me, this is a picture of us today. I think we begin doing and serving before we even know why we’re doing what we do. I think we take on tasks that we perhaps are not even meant to do. Because we haven’t heard from the LORD yet. We haven’t heard His call. And because we can become so distracted by busyness, we further alienate ourselves from Him. We bypass relationship with our Creator because we just get too busy. And His voice is a still, small voice. In our noisy lives, can we hear Him when He calls? Will we even recognize His voice amidst the clamor we encounter every day…

Why do I fly my flag if I’m so flawed? Maybe it’s because of the passage of 1 Samuel. Because within those verses, I see light. I see hope. There’s power in those words… Before the lamp of God had gone out. See, the lamp was still lit when God called to Samuel. And if we’re His, we have God’s lamp inside. It’s lit. There are those who have encountered the fullness of God’s love and their blaze is burning bright. And there are those who have broken free of the prison of their own making, and their flame beckons others to follow. But for some… there may only be a pilot light. And the good news is, the lamp of God has not gone out. There’s still time. And in my walk with God, I think this is me. There may only be a pilot light burning right now, but the truth is… it’s still on.  No, I am nowhere near where I should be. But I am on my way. I am on my way. That’s why I fly my flag. Because… I am not the only one. No, I am not the only one. And that’s encouraging to me. I am not the only one…

We have his light in us. Some shine more brightly than others. But in a dark world, just a spark will do.

… and her lamp never goes out a night. Proverbs 31:18

The Witness Stand


I think it’s no accident that I’m a legal assistant. I used to work in a law firm, but now, I work from home. My employer is an attorney, so needless to say, he knows the rules. My boss knows most of the laws, and the difference between right and wrong. He no longer practices law through a law firm, but rather, he serves as a mediator. Basically, he steps in as an arbitrary party and listens to the different sides of a case. He counsels the parties, and tries to facilitate a settlement before the matter reaches trial. It’s a good thing. A noble calling. My boss tries to help people resolve issues. And from what I hear, he does a good job.

And so, my being a legal assistant and working for an attorney seems natural. See, although I broke some rules growing up, I have always been a rule follower deep down. I was the one who followed the crowd, but always, there was a piece of me that feared the consequences of my actions. Although I tried to blur the lines a time or two, I could never completely cross over the line that separates right from wrong. And in contemplating my inflexibility, I get tickled when I think about my time in the Air Force. It was during our technical training (a little looser than basic training, but still many rules to follow), when my girlfriend had a good laugh at my expense. See, you were supposed to march everywhere you went. However, only if there were two or more people. Once, I had to go back to the dorms at lunchtime… all by myself. And do you know that because I was so scared of breaking the rules, I marched back to the school… all by myself. This in itself was against the rules, because you cannot be in formation when there is only one! At any rate, my friend had stayed behind during the lunch break, and she told me she could see me coming from afar. For she witnessed my rigidity, stiffly performing facing movements as I maneuvered across the air field. And although she couldn’t make out my face, she just knew it had to be me. Because she knew of my fear of breaking the rules, she could spot me a mile off.

Yes, I am a legal assistant, my employer is an attorney, and I like to follow the rules. So not surprisingly, I love the TV show Law & Order. In great anticipation, I listen… “In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups… the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders.”  Actually, this comes from the criminal intent version of the show, and I prefer SVU. But I digress… Law & Order. I like law and order in my life, and I like law & order in the show. I am a woman who needs the law, and I can assure you, I crave order. I want to know the rules so I can follow them. I want to know black from white and right from wrong. And as much as I tried to be a free-spirit in my youth, this is my true nature.

Since I have been a legal assistant for at least ten years now, and since I have a love of the Law & Order series on TV, I find it absolutely astonishing that I am just now picking up on some of the legal terms I am seeing in Scripture. Oh, not the more obvious ones… There is the Law. God’s Law. It’s what His people followed through Old Testament times. And Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of that law (Matthew 5:17). But here lately, I’ve been seeing some more subtle terms…

Isaiah 43:10: “You are my witnesses,” says the LORD. Today, witnesses are called to the witness stand… the place occupied by a person giving testimony in a court of law. It’s in Hebrews 12 that I find I am surrounded by a cloud of witnesses… God’s people are His witnesses. It’s Psalm 50 that displays God as Judge, for from on high He issues His summons to heaven and earth so that he can judge His people. It is God Himself who will testify against the wicked. And what does that word wicked mean? It means criminal, guilty one, one guilty of crime. And who in the Bible is wicked? Esau and Cain, for one murdered outright, and the other held murder in his heart. In God’s eyes, hate is hate whether it’s acted upon or not. And if one harbors hate, she makes both God and herself a liar. The one who stores up hate is not a credible witness. And the one who unleashes her tongue for evil and deceit, this one is wicked. So God Himself will lay out the case before the wicked.

Yes, in my trial by the light of God’s fire, the case has been laid out against me. And I’m so surprised to find myself sitting here… in the witness stand of God’s court. Me. A rule-follower. The woman who needs law and order has broken God’s law. Thus, my life is disorderly. For it’s clear that I’ve neglected to adhere to God’s Law of Love and His perfect Law of Liberty (Romans 14). Restitution must be made for my sins. He is right when He passes sentence, and He is blameless when He judges (Psalm 51:4). So, He sits and He waits. For me. Dare I admit my guilt? My heart, which is pierced by conviction, is evidence of my guilt. So shall I speak up and confess? Or will I remain silent? What about the Miranda rights… do they apply here? Do I have the right to remain silent because anything I say or do may be used against me. Do I have the right to consult an attorney before speaking. Or can I plead the fifth? For I know that anything I say in my defense will only further implicate me. What can I do?

For there is one God and one mediator between God and man, a man, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself-a ransom for all, a testimony at the proper time. 1 Timothy 2:5-6

And then, I remember. I made a confession long ago. And it’s only through that confession that I am saved from God’s judgment today. For Romans 10:9 says that I must confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord! I don’t have to plead the fifth today, for I pled Jesus years ago! And the truth is, it’s only His testimony that stands in God’s court. Because for the life of me, I cannot get it right. Not all the time. I fall short, and by the grace of God, I have an advocate. I have One who sits at the right hand of God and intercedes on my behalf. And you know, I also have someone else, for I have a Counselor.

Nevertheless, I am telling you the truth. It is for your benefit that I go away, because if I don’t go away the Counselor will not come to you. If I go, I will send Him to you. When He comes, He will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment… John 16:7-8

It is God’s Holy Spirit inside me that guides me in all truth (John 16:13). He is my attorney who comes alongside me… to guide and to help, to counsel and protect. In reality, it is God’s Spirit that leads me. He is the line and lets me know when I cross over from right into wrong. He is the reason I find myself on trial today, for He convicts my heart. But also, He is the One that reminds me of the truth… Jesus. Because Jesus already paid the price for my crime, I don’t have to. And so, I shall be released. I will walk away from this… a free woman. For my record has been expunged.

As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12

Trial by Fire


But if I say, “I will not mention his word
or speak anymore in his name,”
his word is in my heart like a fire,
a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
indeed, I cannot. Jeremiah 20:9

About a month ago, I was on fire… for God. I wanted to speak on His behalf. I wanted to be His witness. I wanted to glorify God through my words… and so, I typed out messages via blog format. This was my method of testimony. And I thought I was doing what I was supposed to. I was on a specific track headed in a certain direction. I was leaving darkness behind as I was entering His light. And then, I reached the destination of God’s Ten Commandments. His law set in stone. God’s words etched onto a tablet of rock by His very, own finger. And those tablets of stone were then placed inside the Tabernacle. God’s words were kept in the Holy of Holies, placed inside the ark of the covenant, which is also referred to as the ark of the testimony. There’s that word again… testimony.

I thought I knew where I was headed next. See, words swirled through my brain ready for blog format. I was ready to testify. I thought I was God’s girl… His witness. I wanted to magnify the difference between then and now. I wanted to proclaim that long ago, God’s words were etched in tablets of stone housed in God’s dwelling place – the tabernacle. But today, God’s words are housed in His new dwelling place… His chosen people. And His words are etched onto tablets of flesh… the heart. I wanted to show that God’s living word is lifted off the pages of Scripture, and nestled deep into our hearts. The words of the living God… living inside us… living inside of me. I thought I was ready. I believed I was a credible witness. My heart was right, and my motives were pure… or so I thought.

“The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it? ” Jeremiah 17:9

It was just over a month ago that I was halted in my tracks. God’s words leapt off the pages and I cringed when I realized they were meant for me. “What right do you have to recite My statutes and to take My covenant to your lips? You hate instruction and turn your back on My words.” Psalm 50:16-17. I couldn’t believe my eyes. How could this be? I was testifying for God. I was telling the truth. I was typing out messages about His words. What had I done wrong? But then, after I let His words simmer, they penetrated my heart. See, Hebrews 4:12 is true: “For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as to divide soul, spirit, joints, and marrow; it is a judge of the ideas and thoughts of the heart.” The heart. The very place I was ready to testify of… the innermost part of my being where God’s word is housed is what tripped me up. My heart. Deceitful above all things and wicked. My heart… chambers that I thought were pure were instead tainted… filled not with God’s word but something else entirely.

You know… there’s a small church down the road from me. I’ve passed it about a gazillion times. And on the sign out front, you can read, “A half-truth is a whole lie.” That sign has carried the same message for at least three months now. The first time I saw it, I thought it was pretty good. See, there are people out there who need to know that. Other people… not me. But now, after reading it one gazillion and one times, I know it must be just for me. And until I understand this truth, perhaps it will linger there – mocking me each time I pass. I have to get this right.

You see, it was sometime back that the word “liar” kept staring back at me from the pages of Scripture. I tried to address it. But mostly, I just skimmed over it. Because I don’t lie. I don’t tell lies! But you know what… God’s word tells me otherwise. If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” 1 John 1:8, 10. Liar. I am a liar in that I don’t recognize my sin. And not only that, by not seeing me as I really am, I make Him a liar, too. And this cannot be.

Sounds desperate, doesn’t it. But there is good news… the fact is, I am God’s girl. And the truth is, I am on fire. And what’s occurring in my life is only natural. Because the closer I get to God’s fire, the more of me will be burned away. For through this journey called life, I find that my faith is being tried (1 Peter 1:7). It was Peter who wisely said to Jesus’ followers, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you…” 1 Peter 4:12. The dross is being burned away. And for today, while the ashes still smolder inside, I cannot help but think of “Liar, Liar, pants on fire.” But tomorrow… tomorrow will be another story. For I am being purified by the Refiner’s fire. And what’s left will be golden and true. When the bitter envy and resentment and hate go up in smoke, only God’s word will remain. And then, when only His words fill my heart, I can testify. I can be His witness. And my testimony will be credible. I shall recite His statutes, for…

…his word is in my heart like a fire,
a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
indeed, I cannot. Jeremiah 20:9