Monday, March 24, 2008

In Living Color!

Life should have color. I'm not talking about televisions or phones or computers. I'm talking about your life. What does it look like in there? How does it feel? Is it all black and white? Sometimes we don't even realize we lack color until we see a glimpse of color somewhere else.

I'm old enough to remember the first day I watched television in color. Up until that time, black and white was perfectly fine. Then my parents bought a color TV and had it delivered to the house...on a school day.

Somehow, my brother and I both fell ill that morning. "Cough, cough, moan, moan...ohhh, Mom, I'm not feeling well. I don't think I can go to school," said Mark (he was older, so he had the main acting and speaking role). Mine was simpler, yet on an academy-award level, "Ohhhhh, me too, Mommyyyyyy."

Mom went back to her bedroom and had a conference with Dad. Mark and I had a prayer vigil. Dad came back to our room trying to contain his awareness of our condition. He knew what we had. Our televisionitis was as apparent as his smirkitis. But he checked with the little boy inside him and decided to let us get away with it.

After was a color TV! Color makes such a difference. When color is absent, it becomes incredibly noticeable when it appears. During May and June, I don't ooh and aah at the grass, leaves, and flowers that decorate my drive to work. But in March, when earth first gives birth to spring, the colors seem so vivid and full of life.

Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have life more abundantly" (John 10:10). I think Jesus was saying, "I will give you life in living color!" You may not realize that you are seeing the world in black and white. But without Jesus, that's all you're seeing.

God wants to deliver life in living color to your heart's address. Open the door of your heart, believe that Jesus is God's Son who paid the price for your sin-sickness, and invite Him in to redecorate your life in living color. You'll be amazed at the difference.

Enjoying the View,
Perry Crisp

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Wait-y Faith

The struggle between stepping out in faith and waiting on God is one of the most perplexing tensions of the believer's life.

Mordecai revealed this struggle in his message to Esther, "If you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place" (Esther 4:14).

In other words, "Don't do anything hastily, Esther. Wait and give God a chance to work through someone else in some other way." Sometimes I wonder if this is the unspoken motto of most believers and churches.

Within the same breath, Mordecai switched to the need all believers have to be ready to be used of God regardless of the cost: "Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"

Sure, if we give it enough time, God will work through someone else in some other way to accomplish His purpose...or will He? What if we are His primary plan? What if all things were directed by Him to have us in this exact position at this crucial point in time? What if our hesitancy opens the door for Satan to deceive the very person God wanted us to engage?

Risk is inherent in faith. But is it any less inherent in remaining "completely silent" -- in doing nothing? No. The risk of faith is a personal risk. You may take a step of faith and fall flat on your face. The risk of doing nothing is not's kingdom-al. It is a risk that involves kingdom implications and may even impede the growth of the kingdom.

God is a big enough God that He can work around us in those instances. Obviously, if He can work THROUGH us, and IN SPITE OF us, He can work AROUND us and WITHOUT us. But oh, what we lose when we miss being involved in His work!

While that may be less embarrassing than a slippery step of faith, it is still a loss to us. So, what's the answer? Three things: prayer, confirmation, and peace.

When you don't know whether to act or wait, do both in prayer. Get active in praying over the matter and wait for God to answer. Then look for God's answer in confirmation and peace.

Confirmation often comes through other believers who agree with you about the situation. But confirmation comes in many ways, so keep your eyes, ears, and heart open.

The ultimate clue is peace. Peace is not the absence of apprehension. If we never did anything that involved a little apprehension, we would never do anything. Peace is that assurance of the soul that covers you like a liquid blanket of warmth.

Esther risked her life and the life of her family in a bold act of faith. God used her act of faith to save a nation. God may want to use your faith to save a Nathan or a Natalie. You may be exactly where you are "for such a time as this."

Linger Not Too Long...
Perry Crisp

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Side Effects May Include...

"Side effects may include blurred vision, heart attack, stroke, diptheria, three additional toes, intense abdominal pain, vomiting, schizophrenia, and loss of memory. But boy, can we stop your hair loss!"

Have you ever wondered why the side effects are always bad? You would think someone would eventually invent a pill with positive side effects. I would love to hear a pharmaceutical ad that says, "side effects may include regrowth of hair in bald spots, shrinking of abdominal fat, cessation of hair growth in ears and nose, removal of age spots, vericose veins, and bacne" (acne is what teenagers get on their faces; as you get older, it moves to your back and is called, 'bacne').

There is a pill with positive side effects: the gos-pill. You just have to take it once a lifetime with a full glass of repentance and a plate full of faith. And the side effects are incredible, amazing, and truly out of this world.

Many of the side effects of Christianity are not fully realized until later: A new body, a new home in heaven, an eternity without pain or tears. But some side effects take place immediately: Instant transformation into "new creature" status(2nd Corinthians 5:17), a forgiven past, guilt removed, and a soul that comes alive to a freedom you never knew existed.

Here's the fine print: "If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9). And "whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:13).

There's no greater medicine than that which not only removes the sickness, but restores the patient to a condition of health beyond anything he or she has ever known.

Actual Testimony of a Satisfied Customer,
Perry Crisp

Monday, March 10, 2008

RIF - Reading Is Foundational

Sports desk real taste road Jesus cord swing cash and blue is nose the when much bell the plate blur can fly squeeze only count at city petal of way my pick back color tree to you mail eyes spray flash heaven.

Making sense of what we read can be challenging at times. Even when we read the Bible.

Kevin hears a radio preacher tell him he needs to read his Bible to hear God speak to him. Kevin doesn't know where to start, so he just plops open his Bible and it lands in Leviticus 11. Kevin strains to hear God speak through a menu of unclean animals.

Amber wants to regain control of her life. One of her friends is a strong Christian who is always reading her Bible. Amber decides to give it a try and does the same thing Kevin did. Her Bible plops open to Ezekiel's vision of a spinning wheel thing that sounds like something in a sci-fi book.

Perhaps this has happened to you. You've gone to the Bible hoping to hear from God and it didn't happen. Maybe you struggled through a list of names in Matthew or scratched your head at the prophecies of Daniel.

Let me encourage you. Don't give up. The Bible is unlike any other book in the history of the world. You don't have to start at the beginning. You can start anywhere. You can settle on a Psalm, ponder a Proverb, or flip over to Philippians.

You can read about real people who face real challenges, make real mistakes, and find real forgiveness. If Matthew is hard to understand, try Mark or Luke or John. God will use one of them to speak directly to you today, and another one to speak directly to you tomorrow.

The Bible is like a mirror, according to James (1:23). But I find that the Bible can also be like a house of mirrors. You may read about the miraculous acts of Elijah and not identify with that mirror today. It may not reflect where you are today. But when you stand in front of the mirror of Job, you feel a connection because of the struggles and trials of your life today.

It may take effort. But anything worthwhile does. Reading your Bible tops the chart of "worthwhile." While God may speak to you through an email devotional or a Sunday school teacher or a television preacher, you need more than that. You need to read the Bible. It's not a matter of literacy. It's a matter of life.

It may take a while, but you will find the message from God that you need for your life. As you read, pray. Ask God to guide you in such a way that you do not miss what He wants you to hear.

Even in the most challenging portions of the Bible, God speaks.

By the way...there is a message in that mess of words in the opening paragraph. Use your "sixth sense" and circle every sixth word to find the most important message in the Bible.

Romans 10:17,
Perry Crisp

Monday, March 3, 2008

Don't Make Me Repeat Myself

There is a two-letter prefix that I find reappearing in my walk with God on a regular basis. I'm thankful for this prefix. I need this prefix more than I care to admit. I've already used it in the first sentence (tenth word, if you want to re-read it). Yep...there it is again: "re-".

The prefix "re-" is a huge part of our existence. It speaks to the nature of humanity because we mess up so much. We start and stop and need to redo this and retype that. We need "re-" in every part of our lives. "Re-" is the do-over attachment of life. It is the mulligan of man.

Jesus told Nicodemus he needed to be reborn (John 3). The Bible tells us to return to God (Zechariah 3), repent of our sins (Mark 1:15), and renew our strength (Isaiah 40:31). Jesus, our Redeemer, redeems all who will receive Him. Jesus told His followers, "Remember Me." "Re-" is everywhere!

Believers have always needed times of revival and refreshing. Every year, millions of believers rededicate their lives openly and publicly to Christ. We take retreats so that we can rekindle our passion, rediscover our feelings, reestablish our connections with God, and repair our relationships with one another.

We need "re-". I need "re-". I rediscovered a passage of Scripture that I needed today and will need to be reminded of tomorrow: Jeremiah 24:6-7, "For I will set My eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land; I will build them and not pull them down, and I will plant them and not pluck them up. Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall REturn to Me with their whole heart."

Let me know if any of this needs to be reworded,
Perre- Crisp
(Great! I have a prefix suffixed to my name!)