Shut Up and Dance!

I’m a Straight No Chaser fan. Last week, I was listening to their music (thank, you, Alexa) and heard their rendition of “Shut Up and Dance.” It made finishing up my household chores way more fun. Last night, I played it for Steve, and we danced to it right there in the kitchen. Today, we both had it stuck in our heads.

The words of that song are a surprising reminder of how we are to live as followers of Christ.

Don’t you dare look back. Yesterday is passed. Our sins are forgiven. We are to forgive the past hurts others have inflicted on us. While these are obvious truths God intends for us to live by, we all need to be reminded: Don’t look back.

Keep your eyes on Me. Me, meaning our loving lord. When our focus is on the Lord, we become aware of his all powerful presence, affecting our attitude and our actions.

You’re holding back. What are we to hold back from the Lord? Nothing! Confess all. Submit all. Give all. Obey all. Enjoy all.

Shut up. Okay, we don’t think of God as saying “Shut up.” But that’s just another, albiet slightly rude, way of saying “Be still.” Or, “Stop babbling on about your fears, worries, and hesitations. Start trusting our Almighty God instead.”

Dance with me. I used to talk about God giving me marching orders, but that phrase—cold and unfeeling—was never the right one. He does ask us to dance with him. Make no mistake, our Lord is to be the one leading—always. Are we often uncertain, wondering what the next step will be? Sure. Nevertheless, our lives with him are to be intricate and beautiful as we seek to follow his ways.

Here’s a link to that popular song, part of which has become a hymn of instruction and praise for me. I hope you’ll never hear it the same way again!

Straight No Chaser – Shut Up And Dance [Official Audio] – Bing video

And if you want a little more. Read on:

Phil. 3:13 “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

Oh soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free

Oh turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace

Helen Howarth Lemmel, 1918

A Song in My Heart

A magazine editor once interviewed a successful author and asked, “What makes for a good story, one that will draw a large audience?”

The author’s answer, simple and pointed, was, “Trouble. Trouble. Trouble.”

I’ve never been one to spend a lot of time perusing the daily news. So much of it is full of “trouble, trouble, trouble.” It’s what sells. It’s what keeps us clicking on links or tuning in. While a lot of the morning news doesn’t really apply to me, it can still pull me down. I’m back to curating my input, filtering it through this faith-filled reminder:

 I never face trouble alone, and I have plenty of reasons to go through my day with good cheer.

It helps to keep a song in my heart. Here are a few of my favorites. Take a look today, or turn on your own faith filled tunes. Don’t let the morning news trouble you without filtering it through faith.

  • “Happiness Is the Lord”
  • “I’m So Happy and Here’s the Reason Why”
  • “Trust and Obey” (for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”
  • “Oh Happy Day”

And just to convince you further of the importance of song:

  • From Ephesians: “Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord .”
  • From Colossians: Teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”
  • From Isaiah: Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world.”

How Good Is Your Memory?

Every time I re-read portions of the Old Testament, I’m astounded by the way the Israelites got caught in this loop:

  1. Cry out for help. (For example, “Let us out of Egypt!)
  2. Experience God’s miraculous provision. (Like parted seas.)
  3. Find a reason to complain. (“We’re thirsty!”)


  1. Cry out for help. (“Give us food!”)
  2. Experience God’s miraculous provision. (Like manna from heaven.)
  3. Find a reason to complain. (“We’re so sick of eating the same old thing!”)


But I have grumpy days, don’t you? I feel sorry for myself or evaluate my lot in life and decide it doesn’t measure up to someone else’s. I long for something I don’t have and forget for a while all God has done and all I’ve been given. I’ve seen miraculous provision in my own life, so how am I any different from those Israelites? I am ashamed to admit that I can get tired of manna too.

I was knocked upside the head by this quote not long ago: “If God never did one more thing for you, you ought to be the happiest person in the world.” (I heard it in a TV sermon, but don’t remember who was preaching.) Oh my, yes! When I step back from my doldrums and recount the miracles in my own life and in those of my loved ones, I realize any one of those gifts from God should be enough to keep me rejoicing until eternity. How quickly I can forget!

So, today, I want to leave you with this verse, Psalm 42:6, from The Message.

“When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you.”

Has God ever done anything for you? Then, next time you find yourself grumpy or dissatisfied, refresh your memory! I plan to do the same.

Photo: Nam Anh on because “an elephant never forgets,” or so they say.

Be Happy, and Smile!

“May the righteous be glad and rejoice before God. May they be happy and joyful” (Psalm 68:3). Yes, I know. I’ve quoted that verse here before. And, most likely I will again. But today I want to pair it with this line, found on one of those cute wooden signs we all see in gift shops.

Be Happy, and Smile.

Are you happy? I hope so. If you put the word “happy” in the search bar of my blog, or click the link at the bottom of this entry, you’ll find plenty of content about happiness. Today, though, I want to remind you to SMILE.

“If you’re happy and you know it then your face will surely show it.”

Well, that’s a great line, but I’m wondering if it’s true. Are you ever happy on the inside, but a bit dour, or at least neutral, on the outside? I know I am sometimes. I’ll catch myself in a photo or in the mirror and think, “Who’s that grump? That’s not how I’m feeling!” Smiley faces aren’t always our natural bent. It’s time to try to change that.  Why?

“You’re never fully dressed without a smile.” Okay, not a bad sentiment. And smiles do make most of us look better.

“Smiles are contagious.” If you have any doubt of that, run an experiment next time you are out and about. Smile at the baby in the stroller, the lonely senior citizen on the park bench, or the worn out checker at the grocery store. Better still, try the same test out in your own home. My bet is that your smile brings a smile, and probably a bit of unspoken encouragement flows out with it.

“Smile. It makes people wonder what you’ve been up to.” Isn’t that something we want to induce? Don’t we want people to ask us why we’re happy? That’s one of the very best openings to a conversation about what a joy it is to live a life of total trust in our Lord.

I hope you will make your own little sign and post it somewhere. Supposedly, it takes 30 days to adopt a new habit. Let’s adopt this one together:

Be Happy, and Smile!

Read more here: (happy | Search Results | Smoother Sailing (  

Attraction to Distraction

Photo by Ola Dapo on

My pastor has been challenging us to rethink the way we use our cell phones (and tablets, and televisions and…) I’ve been an avid member of the “watch what you watch” club for years, but his thoughts have made me go even deeper into my evaluation of screenage. The questions I’m about to ask you are the same questions I’m asking myself. I need to make some changes, not all of which will be particularly easy, but I think the payoff will be worth it.

How much have we given up eye-to-eye, or even voice-to voice relationships to our detriment?

  • Texts and emails may be efficient—or not. Too often, I’ve texted back and forth with a friend or colleague only to determine that, by the time I’ve typed and read a dozen missives, a phone call would have been faster and maybe even more effective.
  • Sometimes I stop what I’m doing to answer a text, but then decide to “take a minute” to check Facebook, confirm the weather forecast, look at a few favorite photos…I don’t ever finish everything I’d like to get done in a day! So, it’s time for me to be more careful about how I spend my minutes.
  • When I actually hear someone’s voice, let alone meet them in person, I reconnect on a much higher level than most tech can provide.

So, this week I’m beginning a new habit. Whenever possible, I’m stepping away from my desk to stretch my eyes and make a call instead of typing out a text or email.

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Looking Loopy

Evan Almighty may not have been perfect in its theology, but it sure got one thing right. Noah looked like a hair-brained fool for building that boat. (‘Good thing he did it anyway.) Plenty of Bible heroes had to take on courageous challenges that didn’t make any sense at the time. Abraham (take a hike with your son and a knife) and Joshua (take a lot of hikes with torches and clay jars) come to mind first off. But were there any “little guys” who found themselves facing a crisis of obedience? I think so. Look at this passage from Mark 14. Jesus’ disciples have just asked where they should prepare what we’ve come to call The Last Supper.

“Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.”

That homeowner had already prepared his room. Then he went for water at just the right time, and it mattered very much that he did.

Then there’s this passage from Luke 5. While Simon Peter became a hero of our faith, at the time of this story, he’s just a regular guy, a tired fisherman facing a failure. “When he (Jesus) had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’

Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.’

When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.”

Simon had already started cleaning and repairing his empty nets. How did it look to the guys in the other boats when he headed back out?

These people looked loopy because God had a plan, and they trusted him even when they didn’t know what that plan was.

In today’s conflicted world, perhaps the nuttiest think you can do is look peaceful and happy. But, really, why not? As Charles Stanley said, “Christians ought to be the happiest people in the world, because we’ve got more to be grateful for.” We’ve also got More to trust.

So this week I’m asking you to not only embrace the peace and joy God offers you, but also to let it show! When you’re stuck in a conversation of doom and gloom, be the voice of hope. Let people hear of your trust in God’s plan. So what if it make you look a little loopy?

And for more of Dr. Charles Stanley, check out this link: “How to Stay Young and Useful All Your Life.”

Photo by Greg Reese via