Tuesday, September 30, 2008


"Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils" (Isaiah 2:22 NIV).

Name your hero. Tell me who your favorite athlete is. Shower me with excessive accolades of an incredible actor. Convince me of the greatness of a politician, entrepeneur, philanthropist, or business executive. Then hear my question: Can he hold more than one noseful of air at a time?

The greatest of all earthlings are equipped with one set of both nostrils and lungs. We pull in tiny amounts of air and push tiny amounts back out. Not very impressive.

Should we get a cold or suck daily doses of smoke-filled poison into our lungs, we find ourselves fighting a huge battle over a little event called breathing. We wheeze, we hack, we struggle to get it in and back out. Sometimes we have to take a seat so we can "catch our breath." My, what powerful creatures we are! Yeah, right.

Isaiah is asking us to think soberly about the confidence we place in man. Do we really want to put all our marbles in humanism when two marbles appropriately placed can plug one up and end his life?

The Message reads,
"Quit scraping and fawning over mere humans, so full of themselves, so full of hot air!"

Stop being amazed by what man can do between wheezes. We can be easily stopped by simply being stopped up.

God, the creator and sustainer of all that exists, is the One we should adore. He puffed a little whiff of His air into the first human lungs and now, billions of people later, we are still reaping the benefits.

If we will personally invite Him to enter our lives through trusting in His Son, Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for us, God will grant us eternal life. So that, our last breath of oxygen on earth ends nothing but our flesh and blood. The soul's oxygen never flickers.

If you want to compare man's nostril capacity to God's, spend some time on the following passages of Scripture: Exodus 15:8-10, 2nd Samuel 22:14-16, Job 4:9, 34:14-15, 37:10, Psalm 18:15, Isaiah 11:4, 30:28, and 40:7-8.

Unlike God, we are all, from time to time...

...tissue dependent
Perry Crisp

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What's After If?

What comes after "if" in 2nd Chronicles 7:14 is the key to correcting our nation's corruption. Since you may not take the time to look it up, let's talk about it.

"If ________________________ will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

We tend to fill in the blank following the "ifs" of our nation's moral, social, and economic collapses and challenges a little differently than the Bible does.

"If the President would..."
"If Congress would..."
"If the Supreme Court would..."
"If the media would..."
"If government would..."

We fill in the blanks wrong. God put a different set of folks behind the "if." Don't get me wrong, I enjoy tossing blame grenades as much as anyone. But it doesn't transform anything or anyone. It only destroys.

In spite of how I might think the whole world needs to change, God keeps telling me to narrow it down a bit.

Willing to agree with God, I confess
,"You're right, God. The whole NATION needs to change."

"Narrow it down a bit more," He replies.

I keep trying and He keeps making the circle smaller until I'm the only one standing in it. What's behind God's "if"? Me. You. Everyone like us who claims to be a child of God.

"If My people who are called by My name..." We thought we were spectators watching a movie called, "Why the World is Going to Hell," and all those other folks were the actors and stars in the movie. We're expecting to see drug dealers, corrupt judges, and liberal college professors on the big screen of blame. God takes our popcorn, hands us a script, and says,
"You're needed on the set. You've got the starring role."

We have a part to play.

"But God! THEY took prayer out of our schools!"

"Yes, but who took it off YOUR schedule?"

Solutions to life's problems are not, as a rule, external. They involve us meeting with God at the altar inside our hearts, bowing before Him, confessing and turning away from our sins, and seeking a personal encounter with God. That's when the "if" turns to "then."

THEN things change. When we change.

If...Perry Crisp

Monday, September 22, 2008

Uncapsized Souls

"...then the waters would have overwhelmed us..." When I saw these words in Psalm 124, my mind went back to pictures of Ike's devastation on the Texas coast.

Friends of mine who owned a home in Gilchrist don't have that house anymore. Family members on Tiki Island, barely north of Galveston, experienced significant loss. The waters have overwhelmed many.

My brother-in-law, a pastor in Orange, Texas, has been through Rita, Gustav, and Ike with a devastating house fire in between. Rita ripped the roof off the sanctuary of the church. All was rebuilt just in time for Ike to take a shot at it. Thankfully, it withstood much better this time.

The waters have overwhelmed many people. Many coastal residents have decided enough is enough. They are looking for jobs and homes in the cities and towns to which they evacuated. They've lost more than possessions. They've lost dreams. Understandable. I can explain, understand, appreciate, and respect that.

What gets me is the spirit of those like my brother-in-law who take hit after hit and keep going. Repair ANOTHER roof. Cut up ANOTHER fallen tree. Wait for electricity ANOTHER week. How do they do it?

Take the whole 124th Psalm into view. Back up to the beginning. "If it had not been the Lord who was on our side..." Whether we realize it or not, God is always on our side. He never left our side. He created us. Thus, He created our side.

If it hadn't been for the Lord, then "the waters would have overwhelmed us, the stream would have gone over our soul...the swollen waters would have gone over our soul" (vs. 4-5).

Certainly the swollen waters went over the seawalls, the coastal borders, and all barriers of land and man. But not the souls of the saints. God is the keeper of the soul. Nothing can touch it.

Though I haven't specifically asked my brother-in-law or my aunt or my friends how they have survived with such hope and optimism, I feel confident that their answer would echo the words of the Psalmist: "Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth" (v. 8).

Praying for all south of here...
Perry Crisp

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Praise the Lord and Pass the Geritol

The aged may walk slowly, but aging is a speed demon. How did I get so old so quick? I find myself facing challenges of the future today. Stuff that should happen to me in another season of life is sprouting early.

I have hair growing on my shoulders. I walk with a pedometer. How did this happen?

I'm only 46 years old (at least, I think that's right). My memory isn't what it used to be. Is it? I'm not sure about that, either.

I walked by a basketball goal the other day. That's it. That's all I did. I just walked by it and looked up. When did 10 feet get so high? That old urge to look for a ball, dribble, feel the ball leave my fingertips and swoosh through the net is gone! It went somewhere without warning. The only dribbling I do now is during a good nap.

Did I mention I have HAIR GROWING ON MY SHOULDERS? There must be steroids in my Geritol. It's bad enough I have to weed-eat inside my ears and up my nose. Now I have to mow my shoulders.

A pedometer. I walk with a pedometer. I wear a counting device on my pants and shorts to tell me how many steps I have taken per day. I'm amazed by my own ignorant surrender to the aging process. I won't be surprised if my pants are eight inches above my shoes and over my naval tomorrow.

But who can stop it? I'm not particularly fond of the alternatives. The best we can do is grow old with grace. Or as the Psalmist viewed aging: "Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing, to declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him" (Psalm 92:13-15).

So, even if follicles flourish in unfamiliar places, what is more important is that I stay close to my God so that my soul stays fresh and vibrant. God is my rock...even when I can't get out of my rocking chair.

I need a nap.
Perry Crisp

Monday, September 15, 2008

Special Delivery

We knew Ike was coming. We planned ahead and watched Ike make his way straight toward us. We tied everything down. We prepared for the loss of electricity. We braced ourselves for the 80-100 mph wind gusts. We sat back and watched the radar. We could see it...three hours away...two hours away...

Our pets had no idea. They didn't know Ike was coming. And when Ike hit with all his gustav, their eyes were wide open and their bodies were shaking. Each one made his or her own cry of alarm in his or her own animal tongue.

Preparations were made for their safety before the hurricane arrived: plenty of food, water, and shelter. But they were without our knowledge of what was coming. Any attempt to communicate it to them would have been futile and straight-jacket worthy.

Limbs crashed all around Lady, our horse. Pot plants, yard tools, and patio furniture on the porch were tossed around like leaves where our little dog, Jake, was hiding. Poor Talley (our rabbit) watched his/her (?) roof lift off and fly into the woods. When I stuck my head out the door to check on them, each of these animals looked at me as if to say, "Helpppppp! Rescue me from whatever this is!"

Jake received an open door into the house. He was scared, but grateful. Lady took refuge in her stall. I picked up Talley's cage and brought her/him (?) to the front porch out of the rain.

Storms hit us whether we know they are coming or not. Including the storms of life. News of a loved one who has died. The phone call that you never want to hear, informing you that your child has been in an accident. Test results that come back from the lab with unexpected results.

Storms of life come without radar or seven-day forecasts. They hit us and we shiver with wide-eyed amazement. But we have a promise of rescue. "Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me" (Psalm 50:15).

We have two parts. God has one. We call on Him. We glorify Him. He delivers. His hand slips under us and picks us up or hovers over us in protection.

If you are in trouble, expect a delivery. Then give God the glory when the mailman of heaven arrives with your package of provision or protection.

Glory to God,
Perry Crisp

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Liquid Lessons

Peter wanted to go toward Jesus. Jonah wanted to flee from God. Peter stepped out of the boat. Jonah was tossed. Peter walked on it. Jonah swam in it. Peter saw the waves beating against his legs and doubted his ability to walk on water. Jonah saw the gigantic fin coming toward him and doubted it was Flipper coming to take him for a dolphin ride. Peter started sinking and asked for help. Jonah started sinking and asked, "What's that sucking noise?"

Jesus reached out and lifted Peter up. The monster fish opened wide and swallowed Jonah down. Peter joined Jesus in the boat and learned a lesson on faith. Jonah joined the oceanic buffet inside the big whale's tummy and learned a lesson on obedience.

We can learn both of these lessons from both of these soaked souls.

Peter, with towel wrapped around his shivering body, might say:

"It was awesome walking on water! It's amazing what you can do when you're keeping your eyes on Jesus. And it's surprising how quickly you can sink when you lose your focus. I'm glad I left the boat and walked on the water, but oh, how I wish I'd never let doubt sink my faith."

Jonah, with seaweed dangling from every orifice, might say:

"You better do what God tells you to do. Go where He tells you to go. You can't outrun God. You can't outswim God. You can't hide in the belly of a boat or a fish. I was afraid to follow God and do what He told me to do. Then I learned that the only thing I need to be afraid of is NOT doing what God tells me to do. There is nothing to fear when you are in the center of God's will. But I could tell you stories of what all there is to fear outside of God's will!"

Reporting Seaside,
Perry Crisp

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Big Rig, Little Know-How

In my younger days, I worked at a loading dock, unloading shipments and packages from trucks of all sizes. I spent most of the time on a forklift. Occasionally, I would have to move empty trucks out of the loading area and park them out of the way to make room for other trucks.

Most of our trucks were the size of large moving vans or UPS trucks. Very few big rigs. But all it takes is one big rig to learn a lesson. My boss stomped into the loading area one day and barked at me to back an eighteen-wheeler into one of the loading docks. It was a completely enclosed loading dock with little clearance on either side. Barely big enough for a big rig.

I had no experience, no training, and no business even trying. But that never stopped me before! I just thought,
"I can back a boat, a camper, or a horse trailer with my pickup truck...what's the difference?"

There's a difference. Those big rigs aren't normal. They don't back up normal. I was used to backing up by craning my neck to the right and looking out of my pickup truck's rear window. You can't do that in a big rig. You have to use mirrors. Since mirrors are backwards, you have to do everything opposite of normal.

My boss watched for a good ten minutes until I got dangerously close to a concrete wall. Then we traded places. He backed it up and jumped out fifteen seconds later.

I wasted time, sweat, energy, and transmission metal trying to do something I had no business doing when someone who could do it much better was not in the driver's seat. Oh, how we do the same as followers of Christ!

We once drove our own lives before Christ came into the picture. While we ended up on the wrong roads, in ditches, and even causing some nasty wrecks here and there, we still managed. But the Christian life is no go-kart. It's a big rig. Once Christ enters our lives, it's time to move out of the driver's seat and let Jesus take control.

When we get behind the wheel, we grind gears, get jack-knifed, and wear out the gravel in a six-inch radius because we aren't qualified. We'll never get it straight and we'll eventually hit a wall.

The Christian life is not about keeping our eyes on the road. It's about keeping our focus on the King of the road of life. It was said of King Asa that he did that which was "good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God" (2 Chronicles 14:2).

We need right eyes. The litmus test for everything we say and do should be,
"Is this good and right in the eyes of God?"

Ten-Four Good Buddy,
Perry Crisp

Shaken and Stirred

On April 19, 1995, I was walking down the hallway of a hospital in southeastern Oklahoma when I felt the ground shake. I later learned that the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City had been bombed. I was more than a two hour's drive from Oklahoma City, but still within trembling distance.

Several years ago, some friends asked me to tend to their pool while they spent some time in Alaska. Every couple of days, I treated the pool by pouring chemicals into the water line just a few inches away from the pump.

The pump itself was surrounded by a small picket fence. The space between the slats of the fence was just wide enough to slide my arm in and dump the chemicals. I repeated this process countless times without giving it much thought.

Then one day as I was about to slip my arm through the slats, I stopped. I'm not sure why. Something (or Someone) told me to look around inside the fence before sticking my arm through. Less than two feet from where my arm would have been was a napping rattlesnake. I trembled at the close call.

Not long after that, I was walking back to my house from the barn. My neighbors had a redneck shooting range behind their house. The sound of gunfire coming from that direction was not at all unusual. Then I heard the unmistakeable sound of a bullet cutting through the air. In milliseconds that felt like matrix seconds, the bullet whizzed by my head and smashed into the side of my barn.

I embraced the earth. After crawling to the house and calling my neighbors to let them know they missed, I sat down and trembled at the close encounter I'd had with lead poison.

As you can see, I've come within trembling distance of things that caused me to stop and take inventory. But nothing compares to the day I stood within trembling distance of the cross of Jesus Christ.

The bomb, the rattler, and the bullet could have killed me if I had been closer to them. But the day I knelt at the cross, I truly died. My past no longer mattered. My failures and mistakes were buried and lifeless. I died to who and what I used to be. I invited Jesus into my life and felt new life surge through me. I was born all over.

When God told Moses to bring the people of Israel to the foot of Mount Sinai to see the Lord come down the mountain in their sight, the anticipation of the nearness of God caused them to tremble (Exodus 19:16).

The songwriter asks, "Were you there when they crucified my Lord?" The songwriter's personal response and testimony is consistent with all those who have drawn near to God:
"Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble."

Have you been within trembling distance of God? Iffy answers only mean you haven't scooted up close enough yet. Get within trembling distance. It may be shaky at first. But from there, you will forever stand on solid ground.

I was there.
Perry Crisp