Wednesday, February 20, 2008


To kill a mockingbird...was a lot easier than I thought. I heard a bird singing in the top of a tall pine tree. I was about eight-years-old. I had shot AT many birds. My dad didn't mind. He'd seen me shoot. He figured they were safe.

Mr. Mockingbird probably thought the same thing, "Look at that kid way down there with that BB gun," he sang. "He couldn't hit an ostrich at six paces." Poof. High-pitched chirp (more like a squawk). Gravity interrupted by a dozen tree-branch-speed-bumps...and one sudden stop.

I agreed with Mr. Mockingbird. I didn't think my BB gun would shoot that high. But when the singing stopped and the bird dropped, so did my jaw. I killed a mockingbird. (No, the classic book is NOT based on this story).

I learned what guilt was that day. It rushed over me like cold water when I looked down at the lifeless bird. Then came the struggle of truth. What do I do now? Hide it? Prop it up on a branch with popsicle sticks and duct tape?

No. I picked it up ever so gently and carried it to my dad. Tears ran down my dirty face and left tiny mud trails on my cheeks.

My guilt reached new levels when I heard my dad's reaction. He was a really good preacher. He could lay the guilt on thick. "Son, you've just killed the state bird of Texas! That bird is protected by law. You are in serious trouble!"

As if THAT wasn't enough, he continued, "I've listened to that mockingbird every morning when I leave the house to go to the office. Now, I'll never hear his beautiful voice again."

Dad and I held a memorial service for the bird. I buried the bird under the tree from which (and I quote my dad's eulogy) "the last melody of praise whistled through his tiny beak."

After the funeral, I expected to be carted off to jail. But dad found it in his heart to sentence me to bedtime without supper.

Some of you may think my dad's reaction was harsh. Some of you may be dialing Child Protective Services right now. Please put down the phone and hear me out.

I never did it again. I learned a valuable lesson that day about owning up to responsibility. I learned to use a BB gun with greater respect. I carried that respect over to my first shotgun and my first rifle. What can I say? This IS Texas.

I also learned that grace is much sweeter after guilt. As my dad tucked me in bed that night, he told me he loved me and that he was proud of me for fessin' up.

I can still feel that hug.

Remember the guilt that rushed over me like cold water? I didn't. As I drifted off to sleep that night, all I could think about was the grace and love of my father that had swept over me with forgiveness and cleansing.

Maybe things would be better in this world if we stopped trying to ease guilt and just let it do its job. Let it purge. Let it wound. Then let it open the door to our Father's grace and healing.

Sights Set on Grace,
Perry Crisp

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Eternal Blockbusters

Have you seen the movie list in heaven? It's a list of the favorite movies of angels and saints in their cloud recliners. Here's a quick rundown of the top ten:

1. Kingdom & Dumber - about two Christian friends. One lives a life of faith. The other just plays church.

2. From Here to Eternity? - a documentary of millions of testimonies from people who discovered a personal relationship with Jesus.

3. Castaways - stories of people who were shunned by society, but receive an incredible reward in heaven.

4. When a Stranger Calls out to Jesus - epic drama of a blind beggar whose life is forever changed when he cries out for mercy.

5. What Lies Beneath - an investigative report exposing the lies people on earth believe and where those lies "hail" from.

6. The Titanic Mistake - a tragic tale of three men who almost decide to follow Jesus, but turn and walk away.

7. Saving Private Ryan's Soul - a deeply personal look into the private life of a young man and the intense spiritual battle that takes place over his soul.

8. The Untouchables - the miraculous story of three men who were thrown into a fiery furnace, yet the flames and smoke did not touch them.

9. Nowhere to Run or Swim - the story of Jonah who discovered the futility of running from God.

10. Paid It Forward - the glorious story of how Jesus' death on the cross paid sin's penalty and purchased freedom for all who put their faith in Him.

A quick peek at some of the really big hits in hell enjoyed by demons everywhere:

How to Lose a Soul in 10 Days
10 Things I Hate About Hell
A River of Fire Runs Through It
This Ain't No Toy Story
Mississippi and Everywhere Else Burning
The Devil Wears Asbestos
Rebel Without a Prayer
Chariots of Fire and Brimstone
Towering Inferno (a movie with no ending).

HITCH-ed to Jesus,
Perry Crisp

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Don't Box Me In!

I used to think heaven had everything. But I'm certain now that it doesn't. Heaven doesn't have prison. Heaven doesn't have garbage or garbage cans. Heaven doesn't have traffic. Heaven doesn't have elections. Heaven doesn't have commercials.

And I'm really glad about this one -- Heaven doesn't have boxes. Life on earth is a never-ending box-management endeavor. The moment we are born, we are put in an acrylic box. Our loved ones take us home and put us in a box with wooden bars. From then on, it's boxes, boxes, boxes.

What's in the boxes? Mostly sentimental stuff. Stuff from the past that has a great deal of meaning to us, but no longer functions or contributes to anything. It just sits in a box as a memorial.

Life is a series of box decisions. What goes in what box? When do I get that box down and put this box up? Is this box-worthy or can I throw it away?

Eventually we have so many boxes, we have to rent or build bigger boxes called storage buildings to hold our boxes. We accumulate all these boxes, move them from place to place, and then when life on this planet is over, our loved ones throw away all our boxes and carry us off in one.

For the follower of Christ, that last box won't even matter. It will be the final sentimental collection of stuff that no longer functions or contributes to anything. But it won't be us. Long before my collection of bones, lifeless tissue, and whatever hair I have left is placed in that final box, I will be free to enjoy a boxless paradise for all eternity.

This place called earth is nice -- even with all the box issues. But this isn't my home. Heaven is my home. Jesus said, "I go to prepare a place for you" (John 14:2).

When I think of the plight of those who reject a relationship with Jesus Christ, I feel terribly sad for them. Whether they realize it or not; whether they believe it or not; THIS is the closest thing to heaven they will ever experience. THIS is their heaven.

For them, the old beer commercial is right -- it doesn't get any better than this. Oh, but it could! If only they would believe in a Savior! A Savior who was born into a wooden box and buried in a mountain box -- but a Savior no box could contain!

Jesus didn't say, "I came to give you stuff and stuff more abundantly." He came to give us life...abundant life. He came to set us free.

Let this truth OUT of your INbox,
Perry Crisp


"Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; Let such as love Your salvation say continually, 'The Lord be magnified!'" (Psalm 40:16).

That verse will get a preacher a lot of "a-mens" on Sunday morning. It's a feel-good truth with a positive, upbeat tone. But look closer. There's a word in there that gives me pause.

While we praise the overall truth of this verse and want to sway with the choir as we sing it, that one word creeps in to convict us once we've shucked our choir robes and put on our regular attire.

While you look for the word, let me tell you a story. Two grandparents were keeping their potty-training grandson and were pleased when the boy emerged from the bathroom shouting praises. The grandson smiled, threw his hands to the sky, and shouted, "Halledoyah!"

The grandparents celebrated with their grandson's apparent accomplishment. But the grandfather did not recall hearing the toilet flush. So he went to investigate.

The grandfather soon returned to his recliner with a furrowed brow. The grandmother asked, "Why the long face? Did he make a mess?"

"No," grumbled the grandfather. "It was all praise and no offering."

The sobering word of Psalm 40:16 is the word, "continually." It's one thing to "rejoice" and "be glad" and "love salvation" and shout praises when life is good, bills are paid, and everyone's health is in check.

But "continually" means we keep up the same "halledoyahs" when life gets hard, bills get too high, and our loved one is surrounded by a medical team.

Job did it. He lost everything. His children, his home, and his employees were all wiped out. The only thing left was his less-than-adoring wife.

Apparently, she never read The Five Love Languages, because she looked at Job with a rolling pin in her hand, curlers in her hair, and a snarl on her face, and said, "Why don't you just curse God and die already?" (Job 2:9).

Job's answer, under the circumstances, is incredible: "Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity" (v. 10).

Sure, Job grieved his losses and endured depression. But eleven chapters later, his faith still stood, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him" (13:15).

I have a long way to go. I have baggage and burdens that need to fit under the garage of my "halledoyahs." God needs to know that I will praise Him no matter what life brings. He deserves our praise no matter what our problems may be.

Closer to Continually,
Perry Crisp

Monday, February 4, 2008

Squirrelly Thoughts

Say hello to the picture I've attached of Mr. Squirrel. I met Mr. Squirrel last Friday while I was filling up my horse's water trough. The trough was half empty and topped off with an inch of ice.

The water flowed onto that slab of ice and slowly began to melt it. That's when I met Mr. Squirrel. His eye caught my eye. He was peeking up at me from under the ice.

Apparently, Mr. Squirrel needed a drink of water in a bad way, so he climbed out on a limb and rode the limb down to the trough. But because the trough was half empty, he had to go a little too far out on the limb and took a dive instead of a drink.

I'm still waiting on CSI (Cold Squirrel Investigation) autopsy reports, but my theory is that Mr. Squirrel drowned before the water froze. Then he froze.

I broke the ice with a shovel and scooped Mr. Squirrel out of the trough. He was a solid Squirrelsicle. Naturally, I entertained myself with him and took a few pictures of him standing up, looking very much alive. But Mr. Squirrel was very much dead.

My expertise in cryogenics (which comes from watching movies) gave me hope that maybe Mr. Squirrel froze before he drowned and he could thaw out and still be alive.

No, I didn't put him in the microwave. He wouldn't fit. I set him out in the yard in the sunshine. My dogs and I kept an eye on him all day. He thawed, but he didn't live. He did an impressive imitation of a grown man in a recliner. He gradually slumped and slumped and slumped until he was completely relaxed.

A story like that must be told. Even though most squirrels meet their demise in a much more violent encounter with things named Michelin, Goodyear, and B. F. Goodrich, I feel a burden not to let Mr. Squirrel's frozen fate take place in vain.

I know people like Mr. Squirrel. They look alive on the outside. But inside they are dead. They have an appearance of life, but spend their weeks and weekends at Bernies.

Ephesians says, "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins" (2:1). Jesus told Nicodemus, "you must be born again" (John 3). We are more than physical. We are spiritual beings.

And until we truly believe in Jesus Christ and invite Him to live the power of His resurrected life within us, we are spiritually dead. Though our physical heart beats, our spiritual lungs have been filled by the pollution of our sin. And we drown in it.

Mr. Squirrel only wanted to satisfy his thirst by dipping his tiny tongue into the water. But his thirst sunk him. Sin works that way. Our desires lead us to yearn for just a taste. One bite. One sip. And before we know it, we are drowning in our own thirst.

The "not-so-good-news" for the squirrel was that his rescuer could pull him out of the water, but could not bring back the dead. The good news for you and me is that our Rescuer can do both!

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish (drown or freeze) but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). "Even when we were dead in sin, (God) made us alive together with Christ" (Ephesians 2:5).

God can make you alive. All you need to do is call out to Him and trust Jesus with all your heart.

Here's hoping someone reads this and gets saved. Not everyone can say they were saved because of a frozen squirrel. But God is bigger than we figure. He can use irony like no one else. He might just use a squirrel that couldn't save himself to save a sinner in the same trough.

Pardon this ending today... But do you know what the squirrel said when he fell into the water?

Awww nuts!
Perry Crisp

Dandy Dandling

"On her sides shall you be carried, and be dandled on her knees" (Isaiah 66:12). Dandled? Am I the only English-speaking person to have never heard that word before?

God, speaking through Isaiah, compared His tender care and comfort to that of a loving, nurturing mother. But dandled?

I am the product of my upbringing, so I naturally assumed being "dandled" on your mom's knees meant you were getting a whuppin'. But no. It doesn't mean that at all.

Dandling is when a mom sits her baby on her lap and creates a vibrating sensation by rapidly jostling the baby up and down. The Amplified Bible puts it like this: "you will be carried on her hip and trotted [lovingly bounced up and down] on her knees."

I've seen dandling all along and didn't know it! I've been dandled! Though I'm not a mom, I've even dandled! If smiles, giggles, and drool are any indication of success, I'm a pretty good dandler.

Come to think of it, dandling for a baby is like a ride at Six Flags. It's pretty cool. Especially if your dandler dandles with speed. (Hey, back off...I've found a new word and I want to play with it).

You realize God is talking about Himself and how He cares for us. What an incredible picture of God. Most see God as the jolly mean giant with hands on hips standing over us with furrowed brow.

But God shows a softer side. He carries us on His hip and dandles us on His knee. I don't know about you, but I get tired and need to be carried. Physically? No. But spiritually and emotionally? Absolutely.

Being carried is one thing. But being dandled evokes a whole new scene in my mind. Me and you on the Father's lap, facing Him. He's holding us. He's bouncing us. He's focused on us. We are focused on Him. We smile. He laughs.

Nothing can hurt us. Nothing can separate us. His hands are strong. His knees secure. We are safe. We are loved.

I can face the day now. Can't you?

Dandled by Deity,
Perry Crisp