On Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, it was announced that Christian singer, performer and actor Carman Licciardello had died from complications after hernia surgery. It was the first news I saw as I started my day. Even though I know he was welcomed with open arms into the kingdom of Christ, I cried. First, my condolences to his wife Dana and the kids, and the rest of the family.
Back in the 1980s, Carman was a megastar and I was a teenager who felt lonely and at times depressed. What teen doesn’t, right? But I had God on my side and he walked me through some deep valleys. Carman’s music was there to help.
I cannot tell you how much I adored Carman. I mean, seriously, my bestie and I were planning on tracking him down to his church in Oklahoma where her sister also attended. Yes, I had a major teen crush, but he did not like anyone to fawn over him because he wanted to keep the attention on Jesus and the message. I respected him for that. I did manage an autograph though.
As I got older, I still loved listening to his music, but I did not hear much from him on the radio. He was still producing music, plus acting in movies — who didn’t love him as Boaz? — and he had his own TV program.
Thanks to social media, I was able to reconnect to the ministry in the 2010s. It was through social media that I learned he finally got married — yay! I was very happy for him and Dana. I also learned of his cancer diagnosis, and his fans logged in some serious prayer time. Carman went into remission and was excited to get back on the road again to continue his ministry.
That’s how the photo up top came to be. I wanted to share Carman’s ministry with my daughter. I know he had to have been tired, but the brother was gracious and took photos with fans afterward. We had a blast, and I am so thankful I got to see him in concert one more time.
His ministry impacted so many people — people who are now in the family of God proclaiming Jesus is The Champion and will see Brother Carman once again in heaven.
I am in Training Camp at my church. We just finished the first week. No divulging secrets here. If you want to know more, join our Training Camp 🙂 It’s a great time with a bunch of women who love the Lord.
What I want to write about is how Training Camp, which encourages daily discipline, is happening at the same time as another venture I joined — Flourish. This year, I will be working with a group of other Christian writers, learning how to write and publish a devotional or book. I’m stoked.
So what does one have to do with the other?
In a word: DISCIPLINE.
Both require daily attention and commitment, some planning and work.
COVID left me flailing this past year. Although I was busy covering COVID news at work (I’m a journalist), the rest of my day was rudderless. So I signed up for Flourish to finish the book I’ve been working on. It gave me a personal goal and a sense of direction. Flourish is a group of Christian writers and the focus is not on what I can bring to the world but what God will bring to the world through me.
And then my church’s women’s ministry announced a new Training Camp. There was no doubt I needed to focus on God, so I joined.
Doing both at one time might seem daunting, but I like a challenge.
I’m excited to see what God has in store for me this year. I’ll be posting some updates and perhaps some book excerpts, so stay tuned.
for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.Philippians 2:13
We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9
Christ calls on Christians to encourage each other and to build each other up. Too much in this world tears us down. We should choose love.
A simple command: GO.
GO make disciples
GO to all nations
GO baptize people
GO do so in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
GO teach them to obey Christ’s commands
GO GO GO GO.
GO is the beginning to GOD.
“So don’t look at the troubles we can see now: rather we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.” 2 Corinthians 4:18.
Just like in archery, if we are distracted by the action going on around us, we’re going to miss hitting our target. Pictured above is my daughter, who is trying to focus through the rain — a problem beyond her control. She knows concentration and keeping her eyes fixed on the middle of the target is key to hitting a bullseye.
An archer follows her training: Tune out the distractions. Be still. Focus. Breathe. Release. Impact.
And … repeat.
Our spiritual life is much the same. What’s your ultimate focus? Is it God and eternity? If not, what is your priority?
This impressive ceiling is from The Palmer House in Chicago, Illinois. It’s magnificent. Look at the details and see how together they form a beautiful human creation. It’s creative and expressive. God, after all, designed us to be creative, like him. Although, none of us can create the beauty of this life — us, our world, the universe, we can add to the splendor.
The more we explore and discover this world and the universe, the more we realize how creative and wonderful God is. The details fascinate us, and our thirst for discovery grows. And that’s OK. God is not afraid of the question “Why?” These are all gifts God has given us.
So explore your own creativity. Pursue knowledge. Talk to God and use the gifts he gave you. Just don’t be surprised that in your creative quest you find God in the details.
In Galatians 5: 22-23, the fruit of the Spirit is listed. If we are following Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit will lead us to “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
What is against the law is found in the paragraph before: “sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
The Scripture goes on to say that “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”
May we all be led by and be in step with the Spirit. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.