Thursday, August 28, 2008

Who's in the Right House?

"But there is a God in heaven" (Daniel 2:28).

A refreshing reminder. I don't know about you, but I sure could use it. As presidential candidates are picking running mates, prancing in football stadiums, tootin' their own horns, making promises that we all know they won't keep, vying for attention, and elevating themselves to savior-hood... let's just remind ourselves who the real thing is.

I don't stand on either side of the aisle when I say this. I'm not Democrat or Republican. I'm Theocratican. I believe God has the last word on all of us and our security rests solely in Him. When God makes a promise, you know He doesn't have a two-sided mouth. It'll happen.

You would think that this election was the most important thing in the whole wide world or in the history of humanity by the way the news channels and papers are talking. Oh really? Maybe it would be IF there wasn't a God in heaven.

You see, heaven is higher than the white house. Just thought I should remind you. The human in the white house can veto the humans on capital hill. But the God in heaven has veto power over them all. The human in the white house can appoint judges and justices. But the God in heaven holds the only gavel that matters. His justice is consistent and overrides man's inconsistent idea of justice.

Democrats are afraid that McCain will be four more years of the last eight. Republicans are afraid that Obama will be... well, they're not sure what he will be. But they don't want to find out. Everyone wrings their hands in fear.

Need I remind you? Republicans survived eight years of Clinton and Democrats survived eight years of Bush. Have any back-to-back, two-term presidents been as despised and maligned by their opposing parties as these two have?

Yet we survived. We're still the most powerful, affluent nation in the world. While others walk ten miles to use a telephone, our five-year-olds are packin' blackberries and surfing the net from their tricycles. Can we all agree that we can probably survive just about anything as long as there's a God in heaven?

I just thought we should start the day with this important announcement:
"but there is a God in heaven..."

From the Platform of the Theocratican Convention,
Perry Crisp

Monday, August 25, 2008

More Power

"I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works" (Psalm 145:5).

The power of God is bigger than we figure. Of all that we know about the world around us, we still don't know half of all there is to know about the world around us.

Some braniacs say there was no God involved in the creation of the world. It just happened. It evolved. Yeah, right. And Michael Jackson never had cosmetic surgery. He just morphed into his current confusion of self.

God is the creator behind all creation. The designer behind the design. The lawmaker behind all law. God is the supreme fact of history, science, and philosophy. Take God out of any of those things and you're just a babbling idiot. There will always be a job for you at a major university...but you're still a babbling idiot.

Taking God out of your worldview is like an ant standing on the F1 key of a computer keyboard thinking that the F1 key is all there is to the computer.

Apparently, when our heads swell with knowledge, we can't imagine anything bigger than us. We strain to contain all the knowledge we have of this vast universe. So to think of a super-sized God looming over the unfathomable might be a bit too much for an overstretched cranium.

If the biggest river you've ever seen is the Mississippi, and you've never heard of a place called South America, then it might be hard for someone to convince you of the size of the Amazon.

If you've studied the Niagara Falls and been overwhelmed by its raw power and majesty, and you've never heard of the African continent, you might scoff at a South African who says he's seen falls five times greater than the Niagara Falls. You would doubt that such a river as the Zambesi exists that could be two miles wide and take a 400 foot plunge. Your mind could not fathom the 35 million horsepower of the Victoria Falls compared to the 7 million of Niagara that your mind already has trouble wrapping around.

That's a place you've never seen and a power you've never experienced. But because you have neither seen nor experienced it, does that make it untrue? The same is true of a believer who speaks of the power he or she has experienced in God.

Thank God I learned to be a believing man before I ever became a thinking man. Thank God I listened to the testimonies of those whose souls were saved by a super-sized Savior named Jesus Christ. Thank God I learned that there is power in the blood.

God is bigger than we figure. And I'm not finished with this. Stay tuned.

Perry Crisp

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Are You Ready to Order?

I was in line at a fast food restaurant recently, waiting my turn to place an order. There were two lines at two registers. The lady in front of me stepped up to order at the same time her friend (another lady) stepped up to order at the next register.

The two ladies looked at each other before they ordered and both said the same thing to one another: "No super-size."

That was my first experience with fast food accountability partners. But what a great idea! Two women who recognized that super-sized meals lead to super-sized clothing, and held each other accountable to refrain from super-sizing.

Super-sized meals and super-sized clothes may not be in our best interest, but there is one thing we all need super-sized in our lives: We need a super-sized faith in our super-sized God.

"Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable" (Psalm 145:3). David wrote this out of a heart filled with super-sized faith.

Several years ago, while preaching to my church family, a statement flew out of my mouth without ever being born in my mind. In other words, it was as if God used my mouth to say it without giving it to my brain first. It has become a statement of our faith within our fellowship: GOD IS BIGGER THAN WE FIGURE.

A young man who grew up in our fellowship lost his brother in a tragic accident. It was a deep loss for our church, our community, and his family. Out of this young man's grief, he wrote these words:
"Just when you think you have grabbed ahold of who God is, you realize you are just holding a leaf that God has allowed to fall into your hands...and then you look at the Giant Redwood that is our God, and just stand in awe."

God is bigger than you figure. I just need to tell you that and remind me of that today. God is bigger than your biggest problem, enemy, bully, sin, temptation, doubt, fear, decision, ulcer, debt, disease, headache, heartache...and your biggest __________. Whatever it is, God is bigger.

You have a super-sized God. But you must connect with Him through a super-sized faith. You must believe. And because you believe, you must remain rooted in the soil of His presence.

May I take your order?
Perry Crisp

Monday, August 18, 2008

Holy Crow!

Beauty may only be feather-deep, but I have to rank crows among the ugliest birds in Texas. Ironically, this foul fowl is quite taken with himself. Why do you think the dictionary says that to "crow" is to "boast"? Crows boast, alright. I just can't understand why.

The glass doors to my office building have a mirrored tint on the outside. Every morning a flock of crows is gathered at the mirrored glass, each one vying for a place to gander at his or her own reflection.

It amazes me. I don't see the attraction. At the risk of sounding oxymoronic (or perhaps, moronic), I just want to yell at the crows,
"Have you looked in the mirror lately?"

That's ALL they do! They are enamored with themselves. They like the front view so much that they peck at the glass in an attempt to kiss themselves. They like the side view because they can watch themselves strut. I may have even heard one crow ask another,
"Do these legs make me look fat?"

Crows have no song. They have a note. It's loud and proud. They repeat it constantly. "Caw, caw, caw." Whether they are sitting in trees, flying through the sky, or pecking the church door mirror, it's always a one-noted karaoke contest.

Peacocks can strut. I see their beauty. Mockingbirds can sing. I hear their talent. But crows?

Let me interrupt myself now that I've expressed a great deal of prejudice and judgmentalism toward one species of God's creatures. Jesus said, "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you" (Matthew 7:1-2, NKJV).

In other words, the same way we view others is the same way we will be viewed. It is hard to measure up to our own scrutiny of others. This devotional isn't about crows. It's about Christians. Oh, how we judge one another. My rantings about the crow is an example of how we pick one another apart without ever having pruned in their feathers (aka, walked in their shoes).

To me, the visual image of a crow may be plain and drab. His song may irritate my ears. I may think he's full of himself. But what if "caw" in Crowese means, "Praise God!"? What if his strut is a dance of joy before his Creator? Maybe he's looking in the mirror to try to find the beauty that his Creator sees in him.

Do I need to take this silly illustration any further? Do we get the point? Let's leave the judging to the Judge. Let's not judge a bird by his feathers or a man by what we only choose to see on the outside. There's more to us than meets the eye. God created us in His image. We are precious in His sight.

Even if we get booed off the stage, God loves our song of praise to Him. Even if we take first place in the contest on, God has a picture of us in His wallet. The only One who should judge is the One who has all the facts. Only God knows it all. Only God can define beauty. When He looks at you, He sees what no one else sees. And He likes what He sees.

Sorry...I was just in a fowl mood,
Perry Crisp

Monday, August 11, 2008

What's That You're Wearing?

"Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings" (Genesis 3:7).

An increasing number of television documentaries take aim at the Bible in an attempt to question the validity of its content. Scholars with a bias against belief in a sovereign God or sinful man pick apart Scripture by developing theories of logic that seek to trap God within the confines of human limitations. Like a glove that doubts the existence of a hand, they ignore the obvious.

They also ignore Biblical scholars with equal or greater credentials than the ones they interview because such scholars believe the Bible is true and accurate. Instead, they seek out like-minded doubters with the same agenda to convince us all that the Bible is not a valid source for the creation of the world, the existence of man, or the explanation of life.

Forgive me for being blunt, but the question begs to be asked: Why, then, do those who spout their doubt so freely against God's story still wear clothing? Don't get me wrong -- I'm GLAD they do! But why?

If the Bible-attackers and naysayers of God who diligently work to convince the world that the Bible is a myth and God is dead truly believe what they are spouting, shouldn't their logic lead them to stop covering themselves?

I'm not advocating a revival of nakedness. I'm asking those who are certain of the absence of God or the irrelevance of Scripture why they are still clothed. If, according to them, the Bible isn't true, including the creation and beginning of man through Adam and Eve, and the whole Garden of Eden thing -- then humans are not sinners and shame, guilt, and embarassment are not valid.

I, for one, am glad they are inconsistent at this point. But think about it. If there is no God, no sin, no fall of man, and all that follows according to Scripture, then why are we the only species shopping at JC Penney? After all, we're born naked. Yet we are quickly covered. Frogs are born naked and swim nude the rest of their lives.

Oh, I know what their answer would be. It is a social etiquette engrained in our society based on a false belief system that would be too shocking to our culture to reverse. Plus, you can get arrested.

I wonder. Is that an answer based on logic or is it a personal conviction? I have a sneaky suspicion that even if we removed the laws, even the loudest Bible haters would never feel comfortable removing clothing from their closets. Even the atheist thanks God for clothing.

I thank God for clothing, too. Especially at restaurants. But I believe the origin of the whole clothing thing goes back to the first couple. I believe it had everything to do with sin, shame, and the fall of humanity. I know I'm sacrificing my opportunity to be a guest theologian on PBS and the History channel, but I believe the Bible.

Blessed to be Dressed,
Perry Crisp

Wait Right Here!

"Wait for the Lord; Be strong, and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord!" (Psalm 27:14, NASB).

I was ADD before those initials were invented. The reason they call it ADD is because none of us who have it can focus long enough to hear, "Attention Deficit Disorder."
Just hurry up and give me the initials!

"Wait" is a dirty, four-letter word to someone with ADD. The sound of that word makes us wrinkle our nose, fidget, groan, moan, roll our eyes, and huff.

It's almost as if the Psalmist was writing specifically to people like me. He not only says, "Wait!" He then follows it up with a parental tone that says, "YES, wait!" How did he know I was saying, "Noooooooooo" to the first "wait"?

The New King James Version is definitely parental: "Wait, I say, on the Lord!" That redounds with echoes of my mom saying, "Perry Wallace Crisp -- I said, 'WAIT'!" Why do they encumber us with such embarrassing middle names?

That memory just made me slouch, sigh, and slump. I think you get the point. I do not enjoy waiting. I don't know that anyone does. But some are better at it than others.

The good thing about waiting on the Lord is, it always brings good things. According to the Psalmist, waiting brings courage and strength. Our faith is rewarded with muscle every time we endure another season of waiting.

The word, "wait" in this passage is translated "trust" in other translations. To wait on the Lord is to trust Him. It is to believe that God is at work while we wait.

God always has a reason for telling us to wait. When I waited in the Sarajevo International Airport waiting to return home, I heard an announcement over the intercom in the Bosanski, German, French, and Korean languages. None of those are in my repertoire (okay, so I know ONE French word).

Passengers started shuffling toward the gate. I followed. The security guard/airline employee looked at my passport and ticket, pointed to a wall, and said something in a foreign tongue.

This was Bosnia. The smoke from their war was still rising from the ruins of their buildings. I didn't argue. I went and stood by the wall afraid that I was about to miss my flight and face a possible firing squad.

Ten minutes later, a fellow Bosnian guard/airline employee came to me and explained in English that I was about to board a flight to Korea. My flight would be called next. We may not always understand why we have to wait. But the guarantee of Scripture is that waiting on the Lord will always bring good things.

What are you waiting for?
Perry Crisp

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Ghost Church, part two

"Be not far from me, for trouble is near..." (Psalm 22:11). We all have a light bulb that comes on at certain times. I call it an "a-ha moment" when we catch onto something or figure something out.

When my dad emerged from the back of the sanctuary, bent over in laughter, only two light bulbs came on. My brother, Mark, knew instantly that my dad was the "church ghost." My light came on just a few seconds after Mark's. Andy's light bulb needed replacing.

He didn't understand. He still thought there was a ghost in the church. When my dad found out that Andy was still in the dark, he continued with his evil ways.

Dad recorded his ghost voice onto a tape recorder. "Who-o-o-o's in my chur-r-r-rch?" repeated over and over for fifteen minutes on that recorder. Dad placed the tape recorder in a classroom at the end of a hall in the church.

My sinister dad then gathered up the three ghostbusters and said,
"Boys, come with me back to the church. I want to prove to you that there are no ghosts."

Maybe it was the same blood running through our veins, but Mark and I knew Dad was up to something. We played along. Like father, like sons...we wanted to see Andy's "scaredy-cat" face again.

We trekked across the field back to the church. Dad led the way. Mark and I were side by side. Andy was in our back pockets. Oh, and my sister was poised at the end of the hall, waiting to turn the tape player on when she heard us enter the building.

Dad gathered us together in the foyer and held his finger up to his lips, "Ssshhhhhh...listen." With Stephen King-ish timing, the voice on the recorder began moaning down the hall. Mark and I smiled, then acted afraid. (Okay, so I was fifty/fifty on the fear scale).

Andy camouflaged himself by turning as white as the walls, and he lunged forward with a death grip on the back of my dad's jeans. The boy was scared. The boy was bordering on permanent trauma.

The fear in Andy's face frightened my dad. The joke had gone too far. Dad smiled and said to Andy, "It's okay. It's just a tape recorder with my voice on it." Andy didn't blink.

Dad decided the best thing to do would be to show Andy the tape recorder. Bad idea. When Dad took a step toward the ghost voice, Andy's grip got tighter and his face turned whiter. They both let out a scream.

Andy screamed, "No, Brother Crisp! Nooooooo!"

Dad screamed because Andy had two fistfuls of leg hair. After several minutes of verbal persuasion that it was all just a hoax, Andy's light bulb flickered a little. Eventually, it came on full bright and Andy released his grip. The blood returned to his face and to my dad's legs.

Andy survived the ordeal and still loves to hear my dad tell the story. The picture of Andy firmly attached to my dad's legs is still vivid in my mind. "Be not far from me, for trouble is near..." was fulfilled that day on a human level.

Trouble is always near. It never moves to Siberia. It's always right next door, in the next lane, around the next curve, behind the next curtain, under the next step, or over the next horizon.

It's a good idea not to get too far from God. Fear is not the only reason we should want to stay near God. If we always did what we should, things might be different. But a little healthy fear can be a good thing.

Right at home with my finger in God's belt loop,
Perry Crisp

Church Ghost

"Be not far from me, for trouble is near..." (Psalm 22:11). The closer trouble gets, the louder the knees knock. We want God closest when we feel most afraid.

The church of my childhood was a little Baptist church in southeast Texas. My dad was the pastor and we lived in the house provided by the church. The church was less than a hundred yards from our house. The church parking lot was paved and circled around the buildings making an excellent track for me to ride my bicycle.

One Saturday morning as I was racing around the church parking lot, something spooked me. A window at the back of the sanctuary was opened. To an eight-year-old who watched cartoons all morning, it could only mean one thing: We had a ghost in the church. I was determined to investigate.

Fear told me to enlist fellow investigators. I enlisted my older brother, Mark. He was three years older and three years tougher, so he would be all the muscle I would need.

My second choice was Andy. Andy was my best friend. He was younger than I and would do anything I asked (which may explain why he was my best friend).

Mark and I met Andy in our front yard. Andy was wide-eyed with excitement. It was his first adventure with us "bigger boys." My dad was close by, raking pine needles. He watched with curiosity as we bravely trekked across the field toward the church.

The combined confidence level of the three of us was one hundred percent when we left our driveway. By the time we stood in front of the sanctuary, our confidence registered at about eleven percent.

Rather than crawl through the open window at the back of the sanctuary where the ghost had apparently made his entrance, we decided to go in through a front window that we knew was always unlocked.

An argument ensued as to who would enter first. Mark and I endorsed the "survival of the fittest" approach and shoved Andy through the open window. As soon as Andy was in, I looked at Mark and knew I was going in next.

I no more than straddled the window sill, when Andy said,
"Did you hear something?"

Time stood still and I sat still, listening for something I hoped I would not hear. Then I heard it. A ghostly voice floated from the back of the sanctuary, "Who-o-o-o's in my chur-r-r-rch?"

The fear of that moment completely erased a small portion of my memory. From the time we heard the voice until we reached our front yard is blank history. Somehow, Andy reached our front yard first.

He used all his blood for fuel to escape the ghost because he was as white as the ghost he imagined was chasing him. We searched for my dad to tell him about our close encounter. He was no longer in the yard.

His rake leaned against a pine tree, but he wasn't there. A few moments later, we saw dad emerge from the back of the sanctuary, bent over in laughter. Our "ghost" was all too familiar.

The story continues tomorrow...
Perry Crisp