Thursday, July 31, 2008

Coordinates to Truth

Johnnie was looking for direction in his life. He desperately wanted peace, truth, and happiness, but he didn't know where to turn.

He entered "peace" into his GPS and it gave him 286,354 different addresses. "Truth" opened up millions of addresses. And "happiness" seemed to be on every corner, or so the GPS claimed.

Johnnie began to get frustrated. Tears streamed down his cheeks. "Is there any hope?" he cried. He knew better than to type "hope" into the GPS. It would only lead to more dead ends.

Without really knowing why, Johnnie slowly entered three letters: "G-o-d" and pushed the search button. The list of addresses wasn't as long, but still Johnnie was puzzled that God had so many. "Why can't there just be one clear way to God?" Johnnie whispered.

The moment he asked that question, the cursor on his GPS hovered over the name of Jesus. Johnnie felt something stir inside him. His pulse quickened. His breathing became audible. What was happening?

Johnnie clicked on the name of Jesus and read these words, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6).

Below the words of Jesus were the following directions:

1. Realize that God loves you and has a personal plan filled with meaningful coordinates for your life. Follow these directions and you will find peace, truth, happiness, and hope. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

2. To get to God, you must realize you are going in the wrong direction and turn around. You have sinned against God and it is leading you away from Him. "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). The direction you are going will lead you to eternal death and separation from God. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23).

3. Look for the cross of Jesus Christ. Stop at the cross. That is the only place anyone's life can truly be turned around. "But God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). At the cross, admit to God that you are a sinner. (Sin is the "Bridge Out" to your relationship with God). Invite Jesus to come into your life personally, forgive your sins, and save you. (Jesus is the only bridge that reaches God).

4. You are now ready to turn away from the direction you were going and start a brand new journey. Give Jesus the keys. Let Him drive. Place all your trust in Him. You will find peace instantly. You will find truth constantly flowing from the lips of your new Driver. As long as you allow Him to drive, you will find happiness no matter how bumpy the road may become.

Oh, and by the won't believe your final destination! There is a description of it in the Map (the Bible). It is an incredible place.

Johnnie followed those directions to God and found what he was looking for. When he types "G-o-d" into his GPS now, only one clear choice exists -- Jesus. The rest deleted themselves. They must have just been a mirage.

GPS...God Provided Salvation for you. Will you follow these directions?

Perry Crisp

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Liquid Faith

Peter became the second man on earth to walk on water. You know the story. His liquid stroll didn't last long. Peter took his eyes off Jesus and his cork feet turned into lead weights. He sunk.

But what you didn't know about this story is what happened next. After Peter sunk and Jesus rescued him, they both headed toward the boat and were met by eleven judges. Each of the gunwale-gripping disciples held two square signs up. One for Jesus. One for Peter.

Jesus got 10's straight across the bow. Peter was looking at 3's, 4's, and one 5 (thanks to his generous brother, Andrew).

Before you think I've been reading from the gospel of Thomas, let me clarify. I made that part up. It's not in the Bible. But oh, isn't it in human nature? We hold others up to impossible standards and expect them to perform impossible human feats while we snack on sardines and sit back in judgment.

We are quick to criticize Peter in his drenched toga while our own remains dry from lack of involvement. It's easy to stand on the beach and point fingers at someone who falls off their surfboard when your board never touches water.

But all was not lost. Peter's short water-walking career was not in vain. Once Jesus and Peter were back in the boat, the wind calmed. "Then those who were in the boat came and worshipped Him (Jesus), saying, 'Truly You are the Son of God'" (Matthew 14:33).

Peter's small amount of faith increased the faith of the other disciples. Never be discouraged or distraught when you exercise faith. Even if your faith is two inches shorter than you thought it would be and you fall face first --- at least you tried. At least you believed.

Later that night, Peter's family gathered around him. Someone asked, "What was it like to walk on water?" Peter shrugged and said,
"I only walked on water for a few seconds. I should have kept going, but I panicked."

Peter's mother-in-law piped up,
"Simon Theodore Peter, not another man in history besides Jesus ever walked on water for a single second. I am proud of you! And as long as you keep jumping out of boats believing you can do something, I will proudly say, 'That's MY son-in-law!'"

Two tents down, Judas told the story of Peter's attempt to walk on water. His family gathered around him as he told of Peter sinking. Judas held his stomach in laughter and described the look on Peter's face as he stood in the boat soaking wet.

While Judas was doubled over in laughter, his young son pulled on his daddy's toga and asked,
"Daddy, how far did YOU walk on the water?"

Wet faith is better than dry fear.

Perry Crisp

Monday, July 28, 2008

This Bud's Not for You

There's something you should know about me before this goes any further. You will find out sooner or later, so I might as well tell you now. I have TBD.

I don't expect you to understand, or to even accept this part of my life. It's not something I can help. It's just the way I am. I've been ashamed of it most of my life. But now that I realize that it's just a part of my being and that I have no control over it, I am learning to deal with the social stigma of it.

In case there may be someone who is not familiar with TBD, let me explain. TBD stands for Taste Bud Disorder. Apparently, some of us have abnormal taste buds. At first, I just thought I was weird. I can't tell you how many times I've heard,
"Ewwww...what is wrong with you? You're putting mayonnaise on a hot dog?"

I felt ashamed. But it wasn't just my mayo appetite. It was a whole range of disorders. I don't eat onions, but I love onion rings. I don't like nuts in my cake, cookies, or ice cream, but I like nuts. I'm not crazy about watermelon, but I love watermelon flavored gum.

I've denied some of the more perverse desires that I used to indulge. I no longer eat ketchup on my eggs. I no longer eat globs of mayo from the spoon. I rarely even lick the spoon any more after making a sandwich.

Whew. It feels good to confess. I needed to get this off of my chest. I hope I'm not grossing you out. I haven't even mentioned my love for fried spam or the way I eat vienna sausages straight out of the can when I'm fishing. Did you know that the juice in the vienna sausage can hardens into a gel in cold weather? Pretty tasty, too.

Sorry. I guess we all have different tastes. Mine just strays a little further than others. But there's one thing I am sure we can agree on. The Psalmist and I definitely have similar taste buds when it comes to the goodness of God.

David wrote, "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good..." (Psalm 34:8). Yes! God is good! Even MY taste buds can agree to that.

Headed to the Pantry,
Perry Crisp

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Good and Ready

"For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive. And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You" (Psalm 86:5).

A child nags his mom and gets a familiar response: "I will get to it when I am good and ready!" An impatient response to an impatient request.

The Psalmist tells us that God is always "good and ready." Our God is a "good and ready" God.

It seems so basic. So simple. But once grasped, this knowledge of the soul that God is good, can be one of the most exhilerating and freeing discoveries you can ever know.

We are acquainted with bad. We are familiar with diluted good. But God is purely, wholly good. That is not something we are quick to accept.

Our defenses are always fully alert. The more "good" we see in someone we meet, the more suspicious we are. The "too-good-to-be-true" virus always gets blocked by our antivirus protection.

Why? Scars. We've been hurt. We've been conned. We've been used. We've been sold a bill of goods. The old cowboy movies set us up for failure. They always put the good guys in white hats and the bad guys in black hats. We thought we could trust the guys in white hats. Sooner or later, we learned different. Good is always diluted to some degree.

But not with God. God is always good. All the way up and all the way down. Frontwards and backwards. Through and through. Day and night. Always.

If you can grasp that, then move on to the next part: God is always ready to forgive. No reluctance. No pondering. No pandering. You ask - He forgives. Simple. Simply incredible.

Don't stop there. As amazing as it is, it's only half the verse. God is good. God is ready to forgive. And God has more mercy than you will ever need. You are not a contestant on His "Gong Show" that has to fear being booted.

He is abundant in mercy. All you have to do is call on Him. He's good and ready...

Perry Crisp

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Saved from the Flames

Twenty years ago a single mother lived alone with her baby girl on the second story of a rental home. She needed a couple of items from the store just around the corner, so she left her baby asleep in her cradle, and hurried to the store.

While paying for her items at the counter, she heard sirens and looked up to see a firetruck pass by and turn the corner toward her house. She ran outside the store and around the corner to see the firetruck stopped in front of her home. Smoke and flames rose from the roof of her house.

She dropped her items and ran toward the house screaming, "My baby! My baby is in there!" A fireman stopped her and held her back. The chief came over and gave her the worst possible news:
"Ma'am, I'm sorry. The fire is out of control. It is too dangerous for anyone to go in there. It means certain death to anyone who tries to enter that structure now."

One of the fireman stepped forward and said that he would like to try to save the baby. The chief informed the brave fireman that there was no way he could get out alive. But the fireman said,
"Sir, I have a baby at home. I have to try."

The chief reluctantly allowed the brave fireman to enter the burning house. The young fireman scampered up the stairs, turned the corner and found the child. He took the baby into his arms and started back toward the staircase. A beam from above cracked and caused a large section of the roof to fall. The staircase was completely wiped out. Much of the floor was gone.

The fireman stood against a wall holding the baby. Between him and the window the floor was gone. He called to the men outside and instructed them to prepare the safety net below the window. Then he said,
"I can't get to the window, but I think I can save the baby. Her only chance is if I can toss her through the window into the net."

The brave fireman counted to three, kissed the baby girl on the forehead, and lobbed her perfectly through the window. She was caught safely in the net.

The fireman never made it out.

Today, twenty years later, a small statue of a fireman stands in a cemetery marking the place where he was laid to rest. Today, like every day, a young lady bends over his grave and places flowers at the feet of the statue. Today, like every day, just before she leaves, the young lady kisses the forehead of the statue and whispers,
"Thank you for giving your life for me."

Why have a time of daily prayer? Why spend time with God in the morning? If for no other reason -- to say,
"Thank you, Jesus, for giving your life for me."

Garlands of Praise Laid at His Feet,
Perry Crisp

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Monkey Bars

"What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs" -- or in my case, from the monkey bars (Luke 12:3, NIV -- except for the last eight words, of course).

I had heard about Robbie Beavers from my fellow first-grade classmates since the beginning of school. But I had not yet seen him. It's one thing to hear others talk about how big a guy's another thing to see him up close.

I had also heard that Robbie had his eye on Mandy Stephens. He was seen making "googly-eyes" at her in the cafeteria. Mandy was MY girlfriend. It didn't matter that she wasn't aware of it or that she might have vehemently disagreed.

I told a close friend in confidence that I was going to have to beat Robbie up if he continued to pursue my girl.

It stayed just between us buddies until recess. That's when he used the monkey bars as a stage and blabbed my threats against Robbie to the entire playground.

I was playing by the swings, unaware of the public announcement, when I saw Robbie standing in front of me. He was obviously aware of the announcement.

"Huge" doesn't describe what I saw. A first grader with hair on his chest. It wasn't even five o'clock yet, but he had a beard shadow. He was a boy trapped in a college football player's body. He had muscles where I had bones.

I was stunned. Speechless. Mouth draped open. If I said anything at all, it had to have been, "Mommy!" If I'd HAD a backbone, all of my blood would have been hiding behind it.

Thankfully, Robbie was a reasonable man-child. I lied and begged my way out of the "misunderstanding" and we became good friends. "Mandy? Who's Mandy? I don't know any 'Mandy.'" It's amazing how pliable love is in the first grade.

Numbers 32:23 says, "Be sure your sins will find you out." Mine did. I whispered something in secret and it met me on the playground within hours.

So I feel I must warn you. Your playground is just around the corner. Your "Robbie" may not be so understanding. Keep that in mind before whispering things you don't want published from the monkey bars.

Sorry Mandy,
Perry Crisp

Truth Seeker: Best articles from before

Truth Seeker: Best articles from before

Monday, July 7, 2008

Mud Anyone?

A mom walks into the living room and sees a purple stain on the carpet. A teacher enters her classroom and finds profanity written on the chalkboard (do they still have chalkboards?). A coach reviews a play on film where the opponent scored on his team.

In each case, they ask the same question:
Whose fault is this?

The disciples saw a blind man and asked Jesus the same question (John 9). The disciples had two suspects in custody: "this man or his parents" (v. 2).

Jesus set both suspects free: "Neither this man nor his parents sinned..." (v. 3).

His answer stumped them. His actions shocked them. Jesus started making onomatopoeic noises from the larynx. In other words, it sounded like a loogie was on the launch pad of His throat. A projectile toward the blind man appeared imminent. The disciples braced themselves, wondering,
"Yuck! Is Jesus gonna spit on this poor man?"

He didn't. Jesus spat on the ground and stuck His finger into the puddle (at this point, I can just hear the ladies saying, "Ewwww," and the men saying, "Cool!").

With His finger in the spit puddle, Jesus stirred until He made up a nice saliva salve. Then Jesus smeared the mud over the blind man's eyes.

The same man who turned water into wine now turned mud into medicine. The healing was not in the temperature or texture of the mud, but in the touch of the mud-maker. In the hands of Jesus, the available became valuable.

Mud is a strange cure for blindness. I can almost hear the once-blind man singing,
"I can see clearly now, the mud has come."

Do any of us really see clearly? Apart from Jesus' touch, aren't we all blind? Spiritually, we are as blind as someone trying to open their eyes in...mud.

If Jesus can make something noble out of something nasty by using mud to make a blind man see, can't He work the same miracle in our hearts? He can. He has.

My life once consisted of ingredients worse than mud and spit. Then Jesus touched me. He cleansed me. He changed me. He made me brand new. Not a speck of mud on me.


Clear as Mud,
Perry Crisp

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Listen Up

Weird dreams visit my subconscious dvd player on occasion. It is usually the result of a chili-cheese dog after 9 pm. Sometimes I remember the dreams vividly. Other times they fade into forgetfulness with my first yawn.

But the scorpion dream is one I will not soon forget. It was more real than a reality show. In the scorpion dream, I was babysitting a room full of toddlers and infants. Okay, so it's more like a nightmare.

While overseeing all these babies, I saw a scorpion crawl between my feet toward the children. In the awake world of my existence, I despise and fear scorpions as much as any other creature. I have felt the poisonous power of a scorpion's tail more times than I can count. The pain is impossible to describe.

The nightmare continued to escalate as the toddlers started crawling toward the scorpion. They all saw it and wanted to play with it. I screamed at the children, warning them not to touch it. They ignored me and kept reaching for it. I tried time and time again to step on the scorpion, but there was always a child in the way.

The inevitable happened. One of the smallest babies was injected by the sting of the scorpion's tail and let out a blood-curdling scream that woke me up. I sat straight up in bed, wiping away sweat and letting out a sigh of gratitude that it was only a dream.

That's when I heard the voice. It wasn't audible because it wasn't coming from outside my head where my ears are. It was inside my mind. It was high-definition. It was clearly the voice of God. He said,
"Now you know how I feel."

Then He left me there to meditate on what the dream and the God-statement meant. I knew what it meant. God wants so desperately for His children to hear Him. Yet we tune Him out so well. We fill our ears with what we want to hear. The voice of God drowns. When we do hear God, we often do not like what He says, so we learn not to listen.

We WANT to play with the scorpions. We think we know what's best. But we don't know what God knows. God knows the end result of playing with scorpions, and from a heart of passionate love He screams out to warn us and protect us. Will we hear Him? Will we trust Him?

1st Samuel 3:1 says, "the word of the Lord was rare in those days." I'm afraid we've let the voice of God become too rare a thing in our lives, as well.

The question for us to ponder is not, "Why isn't God speaking?" The question is,
"Why am I not hearing?"

If you want to hear God better, He tells you how: "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17). Hearing God begins with the Bible. If you are not reading it, you are decreasing your chances of hearing or recognizing God's voice.

Back to the scorpion dream. I tried to crush the scorpion with my heel, but the children were in the way. God's Son, Jesus, put Himself between the heel of God's judgment and the scorpion of man's sin. God has taken the eternal sting out of sin's tail, but He still doesn't want us playing with them.

Though the screaming child woke me up before I could see the reaction of the other babies, I would imagine none of them reached for the scorpion after hearing and seeing the pain it caused their fellow infant. So why would I want to play with that which caused Jesus so much pain? Why would you?

"Speak Lord, for your servant hears" (1st Samuel 3:9).
Perry Crisp