Tag Archives: voices

Witness Protection Program

Witness Protection Program or  “Why I don’t have a fish bumper sticker on my car”

I try to be a pretty nice person. Most of the time.

I try to see the bright side of things. Most of the time.

I try to see the better in people. Most of the time.

But then, I fail. FAIL. Miserably.

I love Jesus, but I cuss a little.

But my failure is not just about me.

Its about what others are witnessing when they see me.

It’s about who I want to be a witness for.

I am an awful witness for Jesus.

I was relieved when I traded my Ford Focus in years ago. Relieved because I couldn’t live up to the witness that the little fish emblem on the back of the car implied. I got my only speeding ticket in that car. I ran very yellow lights.  I may have annoyed my share of other drivers.  All while I was proclaiming “I’m a Christian”.

I am an awful witness for Jesus.

I caught myself the other day.  After long days in airports, which I actually enjoy, I had a chance to volunteer to take a different flight.  Why not?  For once, I finally had the freedom in my schedule.  It wouldn’t bother me to go at my scheduled time or take the next flight.  No biggie. But wait.  They couldn’t tell me if they wanted me to actually volunteer until everyone boarded. EVERYONE.  It seems they had to weigh the plane.

I had a great seat.

Extra leg room.

On a regional jet.

Carrying a backpack.

And there was NO room in the overheads by the time I got on.


Everything I was carrying had to go under the seat.

Where my feet go.

So my knees aren’t under my chin.

It is easy to be a good witness for Jesus sometimes.

This wasn’t one of them.

I was ticked.

I didn’t cuss, but I am sure that Jesus didn’t like my attitude.

I sure didn’t. Grumpy. Sarcastic. Snarky.

And what’s worse?

My seatmate was chatty.  Nice guy.  Funny. Interesting.  We showed each other pictures of our kids and grandkids.


“What line of work are YOU in?” he asked.


“I work with volunteers.” I said.  And changed the subject.


I love talking about what I do, and I love Jesus.

But at that second, I needed a Witness Protection Program.

To protect the guy in 4B from my bad witness.

“I love Jesus” Angela was a sharp contrast to the grumpy, snarky, reeking of bad attitude Angela that this nice young man was sitting next to.

So I was quiet.

I was a non witness instead of a bad one.

Score for Witness Protection Program.

It was amazing and humbling to see how fast my desire for wanting some leg room and overhead space spiraled into grumpiness.

At the end of each day I know I have unintentionally offended and hurt more than I have encouraged and lifted up.

The lyrics to this Casting Crowns song echos in my head

Jesus, friend of sinners, we have strayed so far away

We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swing

Jesus, friend of sinners, the truth’s become so hard to see

The world is on their way to You but they’re tripping over me

Always looking around but never looking up I’m so double minded

A plank eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided

 “Jesus, Friend of Sinners”, Casting Crowns

“The world is on their way to You, but they’re tripping over me”

Yep, I admit, I don’t have it all together.  My cheese is slipping off the cracker.  I’m ok with with being broken.  I’m not ok with tripping people on their way to Jesus.

So here’s the thing.

Maybe the answer isn’t having a bumper sticker to show I am a Christian.

Maybe the answer is to live more intentionally like Jesus.


“And what does the Lord require of you? Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8


I love campfires. They bring back some sweet memories.

The smell of burning wood brings back times of fellowship, camaraderie and hospitality.

The crackling sounds mingle with notes of singing, laughing, and soft whispers.

The flickering multi colored, multi dimensional flames energize, yet mesmerize, and take me to somewhere deeper, silent, melancholy.

While the fire is burning life is good, fun, happy. Others are attracted to the fire. They gather together to share in the energy, there is a significance, a power, in being together.

And then the fire begins to die away. No longer fed by the fuel it needs to survive, the flames flicker, waver, and disappear. Those who have gathered around the brilliantly dancing flames begin to drift away. The crackling subsides, with only an occasional pop to crease the air.

Left in the fire pit are ashes. Smoldering ashes, with glowing edges and hot spots struggling to survive.

Left alone, these little fire lives will die.

Cold gray ashes will remain.

If even one person were to come along and blow gently on the glowing edges, the hot spots, the signs of life…

The fire would slowly, carefully, come alive.

With care, the flames would start to grow

I have ashes moments. Those times where ..

The blazing fire is gone

The flame is barely flickering

Times where I need

a breath of life to tickle the flicker into a flame

an encouraging word to spark a flame of hope

Quite honestly, there are lots of times where praying and reading and listening to music just aren’t doing it for me and I just really need God with skin on.

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. John 20:21-22 NRSV

My family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues reflect Jesus.

From long talks to quick emails, these genuinely loving and caring folks may not even know they are the breath of the Holy Spirit. Some may not even believe in the Holy Spirit, but they take the time to care, make me laugh, think, see different perspectives, and dig deeper.

Never ever underestimate the ministry of your presence. Your kind words, random acts of silliness, encouraging words, emails, positive facebook posts mean more than you know to someone who may never tell you.

You never know.

You may be God with skin on.

You may be the breath of life to rekindle a smoldering fire.

Christ has no body now on earth but yours,

No hands but yours, no feet but yours,

Yours are the eyes through which to look out

Christ’s compassion to the world

Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good;

Yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now.

Teresa of Avila

To all my fire whisperers…  thank you!

Beauty From Chaos

Steampunk. There are a lot of definitions, but I like this one:

Steampunk art mixes modern ideas and technology with those from the past, namely the Victorian Age, when the Industrial Revolution was in full swing and steam was a major source of power.

Maybe I relate to Steampunk. Mixing modern ideas with those from the past. I am particularly drawn to the steampunk art.

I feel like steampunk art.

Beauty from chaos. Beauty from a bunch of gears, nuts, bolts, pipes, washers, thinga ma bobs, doo-hickys, and whatchamacallits.

Most mornings, I feel like a pile of those things, heaped in the middle of the floor of this world.

Not much to look at.

No parts seem to work together.

Not even sure where to start.

We, you and me, have our own personal steampunk artist, though.

Our artist looks at the pile of junk, old stuff, the thingys and the doo-hickys, and the whatchamacallits, and sees beauty.

Our artist starts carefully choosing pieces out of our personal piles of chaos and putting them in a special order.

Our artist adds new parts, modern ideas, stretching us to learn and grow as our old parts work with the new.

As our artist works, we try to help.

We rearrange parts to meet our needs.

We resist some of the new parts. They are uncomfortable. They feel weird against our well worn stuff.

At the end of each day,

Our help may have hindered, but not stopped, our artist.

Our artist has not been able to use all the thingamabobs, doo-hickys, and watchamacalits. but..

At the end of the day, our chaotic pile of junk has been lovingly formed into a resemblance of the artist’s own heart. We are still beloved artwork, gazed upon with deep pride and devotion by the artist. Our artist, the artist who created us from the beginning, bids us rest so the chaotic pile of junk can be shuffled and restored each new day.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

My Word

I gave up making new years resolutions.  It seemed counterproductive, and I was just setting myself up for failure.  Whatever resolution I set for myself was usually broken within a week.  Eat healthy, be less sarcastic, exercise more..human goals that were just unattainable for my human self.

Instead of a list of goals now, I choose one word.  Well, actually, the word chooses me.  A word that pings in my head and starts to grow and settle into my life until it curls up in my heart.  They are growth words, words that are smaller in my life than they should be, ones that God wants to work on with me.

Several years ago, my word was Emmanuel. “God with Us”.  Not a goal, but a reminder with each breath of whose I am, where my strength and protection comes from, and the source of my joy.

Thirst.  My word for 2014.  It started with a thirst for the word of God. It grew to thirst for community. Thirst for deeper relationship with Jesus.  Thirst for understanding justice and privilege.

Listen.  The word that choose me this year is listen.   Not sure where God is going to take me with this, but as it takes hold in my life, I will be learning how to slow down and listen to God, listen to my colleagues, listen to my family.  Be present in the conversation. Listen in silence. Maybe even listen to my own heartbeat.

What one word is bouncing around in your head lately?  What is God whispering in your ear?

Walk with me on this one word journey.  I would love to travel with you as this year unfolds and God is revealed in unexpected ways.