Shut Up and Dance with Me…

Recently, my two hip hop, up to the minute, music loving children, Faith and Joshua compelled me to watch on YouTube the song, “Shut and Dance with Me” by Walk the Moon.

My reaction was immediate!
I loved it!

A good looking young man makes his way out on to the dance floor in a rather shy and unassuming way.
He’s looking to fit in.
He’s ready to have fun.
He’s not tardy to the party.
He’s ready to dance…
But there’s hesitation in his moves…
His eyes dart back and forth between all the women who are available to dance…
None seem interested…
His confidence is starting to tank…
All eyes are on him…
And then…
And then…
There she is!
She’s moving right toward him with bright red Chuck Taylor sneakers
Her short sassy hair parted on the side and her bright, shiny lipstick are an exact match to her red sneaks.
Their eyes lock.
He cannot believe that she would be interested in him.

Listen to these lyrics…

A backless dress and some beat up sneaks,
My discothèque, Juliet teenage dream.
I felt it in my chest as she looked at me.
I knew we were bound to be together,
Bound to be together

She took my arm,
I don’t know how it happened.
We took the floor and she said,

“Oh, don’t you dare look back.
Just keep your eyes on me.”
I said, “You’re holding back, “
She said, “Shut up and dance with me!”
This woman is my destiny
She said, “Ooh-ooh-hoo,
Shut up and dance with me.”


Whether we realize it or not…
We are on the dance floor of life.
Our eyes may dart back and forth looking for the perfect dance partner.
There are tons of potential suitors trying to catch our eye.

But there is only one Lord of the Dance.
God approaches us with outstretched arms…
He’s not tardy to the party…
His smile lights up your universe…
Your heart starts to beat a million miles an hour…
The God of the universe wants to dance with you..

We begin to backpedal..
We start to make excuses…
“I’m not good enough…
I don’t know how to dance…
Pick someone else…
Why would you want to dance with me?…
I’m too scared…
I’ll make a fool out of myself…”
And the list of excuses goes on and on…

I can’t help but laugh out loud as I see God draw near and with a hearty infectious laugh that brings the rest of the known world to a “slap your knee” moment, reaches out, takes your arm, ignores your excuses and shouts to the top of the mountains….

“Shut Up and Dance with Me!”

And you do…all night long…laughing and dancing night after night..for the rest of eternity!

And David danced before the Lord with all his might. (2 Samuel 6:14)

Laugh often and Fear not!

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12: 1-2) –

Dendy Paraphrase – “Dance this life with your eyes fixed on Jesus!!

Enjoy the Music video below:


On March 8, 2012 I packed up my office at First Presbyterian Church in Klamath Falls, Oregon into about 158 boxes (slight exaggeration).
Yesterday, three years, four months and five days later, in my office at the Mountain View Presbyterian Church in Las Vegas, Nevada, those 158 boxes began to get unpacked.


Unpacking the ten boxes or so yesterday took me on an unexpected roller coaster ride filled with emotional, spiritual and mental twists, curves, corkscrews, banks and turns.

The boxes were filled with books… some unread, some read, some – I should have read. Classic novels (think Old Man and the Sea, Grapes of Wrath), Systematic Theology books that were once pored over in days gone by. Authors that I soaked up every word. Authors that I have never even looked past the cover. Some hardback, some paperback and some had lost their backs altogether.

The boxes were filled with photographs… weddings I have performed, beautiful portraits of family members who no longer grace this earth with their physical presence, young pristine daughters who haven’t uttered a word to me in seventeen years and three months, faithful friends that I am still fabulously connected to, friends that have fallen by the wayside due to the natural attrition of life and distance, stunning geographical landmarks that I have had the good fortune to visit, to climb, to ride and conquer. Most of all the photographs elicited a memory where a very strong emotional and visceral connection was attached. The flood of emotional attachments was so overwhelming it was like trying to drink water from a fire hydrant.

The boxes were filled with gadgets, for lack of a better term. Yo-Yo’s, Old 35 millimeter camera that my dad had bought back in the 1950’s, Davidson College letter opener, Bronze American Legion Award from high school, a very old laptop computer, paper weights. My favorite paper weight that I hadn’t seen in three years, four months and five days with one of my favorite quotes – “Never, never, never give up!” – Winston Churchill. I realized after holding this paper weight that I had indeed done exactly that over the last three years – Never given up!

The boxes were filled with bulletins and programs. Weddings and Funerals tend to need the services of a pastor. The names and dates of birth and death dotted several bulletins. Each funeral notice struck deep into my heart the privilege of knowing the person whose funeral I had presided over. Names and faces filled my mind over the couples I have married. Some now divorced. Some still happily married to this day.

The boxes were filled with letters and cards. Over the years I have collected and kept encouraging cards, letters, emails and handwritten notes from friends, family members, parishioners and people I don’t hardly remember that have bolstered my sense of call and purpose in this world. There are times in my life where my insecurities take hold of me and my heart and I have to draw on those cards, letters and notes to buoy me during particular storms and rough seas that attempt to assault my well sense of being.

The boxes were filled with Bibles. There it was! My first hardback Harper Study Bible. Flipping through the pages and hovering over underlined passages that still hold meaning and value to this day in yellow highlighter from my high school days. Certain tags on specific passages indicated that I had preached on the underlined passage. Memories flooded my heart of my first youth pastor in high school sitting down with me on the dock of the Sacramento River Delta sharing with me the love of Jesus, the laughter of life and the abundant life that could be found in Jesus. His hands held this very bible. He helped show me the way. Depression got a hold of him like nobody’s business a few years ago and he committed suicide. At his funeral I sat next to a group of friends that were sitting on that same dock thirty five years ago.

The boxes were filled…

I wonder if life isn’t a lot like those boxes.
Our lives are filled with memories, experiences, photographs etched in our minds and hearts, people who have served us well and some people who have almost done us in, gadgets that hold special feelings and thoughts, cards, letters and notes that lift us up in ways like no other, scriptures that serve as the foundation of our very being and life.

How often are those boxes of life “unpacked?”

I’ll be honest with you…
Unpacking those boxes of our lives is not for the faint of heart.
It’s serious business.
I wonder if that’s why we don’t unpack those boxes more often.
The seriousness of it can oftentimes be too much for us to handle.

The major thread that ran through my heart, mind and soul yesterday as I unpacked the boxes was that with each memory, each emotion, each laugh and each tear there was one person who had been present on every step of the journey…God!

The thrill of the unpacking was found in the joy that I experienced God with each box unpacked…
I hope you’ll excuse me.
I have got to go now.
I have some more boxes that need to be unpacked!

I bet you do too…

Laugh often and Fear not!

And behold,I am with you always, to the end of the age. – Jesus (Matthew 28. 20)

Have you ever been “Stung?”


I needed to be back at the church for a scheduled 7:00 pm meeting tonight. I quickly made my way home by 5:20 pm to grab a bite to eat and spend some time with the family before retreating back to the workplace for the night.

My wife Julie was busy with Faith hanging some pictures on the wall of Faith’s newly painted and decorated room. Faith was having her first try at “hammer and nail.” Julie suggested I grab some leftovers from the previous night’s delectable dinner. I made my way to the kitchen and found the aforementioned leftover in the appropriate clear Tupperware container with the pale pink lid. No need to empty the contents onto a plate. Just dig it out of the ready-made pseudo bowl.

Clouds covered the usual clear sky, causing the temperature to drop to a very comfortable 95 degrees. (It’s a dry heat!!!) I asked my son Joshua if he would be willing to join me on the back balcony for some fascinating conversation while I ate dinner out of a Tupperware container.

His response was quick, decisive and very polite, “Thank you for the invitation Dad, but I am going to keep playing “Boom Beach” on Mom’s phone.”

I made my way through the sliding glass door and sat down on the green patio chair that swivels and rocks. To be totally candid, my son’s polite response and rebuff stung.


I am scared to ask this next question.
I believe that if I knew the answer my heart would sink so deep I would wallow in a depressed wasteland for weeks.

Here I go…
How many times has my heavenly Father asked me to join Him for some fascinating conversation and my response has been, “Thank you for the invitation God, but I am going to keep (you fill in the blank!)…..

How many times do I unconsciously or subconsciously or even blatantly say, “Thanks but no thanks” to the Father’s tender invitation to sit with Him ’round the proverbial campfire of conversation?

What on earth could possibly be more important than time spent with the Father of the universes and listen to His voice as He listens to the voice He created in me?

No one likes to get stung…even God.
Oh dear Lord, please take the “stinger” out of me as I carve out time and space to converse with you and others.
It’s going to be fascinating!

“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,
‘Today, if you hear his voice,

do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,'” (Hebrews 3: 7-8)

Laugh often and Fear not!


Eagle Soaring


The year was 1979 and a high school friend of mine was selected to be a part of an All-American band. He was very excited as this band would be touring Europe and even going behind the “Iron Curtain” to visit some of the eastern bloc countries.

While visiting Czechoslovakia he struck up a conversation with a 17 year old girl. In hushed tones the conversation soon turned to the subject of Christianity.

With eyes dotting to and fro for secrecy’s sake this girl told my friend that in order to have a bible study, she and her friends had to be very quiet about getting together. There could be no announcements. No pamphlets. No flyers. Just word of mouth, very tight lipped word of mouth.

She looked to my friend with inquisitive eyes, “What about America? What’s it like to have a Bible study there?”

My friend went on to explain that there was no need for secrecy. Make as many fliers as you want. Publish the pamphlets and tell as many people as you want that you are having a Bible study. There were no constrictions on such activity in the United States of America.

In the moment that it took for all of this mind boggling information to sink into the mind of this 17 year old girl from Czechoslovakia, her mouth went agape and her eyes widened to the size of saucers as she excitedly and loudly concluded back to my friend, “Wow! You must have Bible studies every day!!”

Every July 4th I am haunted by this story. How much we take our liberty, our freedom for granted here in these United States of America.

I have always wondered since the Czech Republic freed itself from the Iron Curtain if this young girl’s passion for Bible study has remained fervent in the freedom that is now afforded to her and her friends…


“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5: 1

Laugh often and Fear not!