Monday, October 27, 2008

Gospel According to Lightning Bugs

A Texas firefly, commonly referred to as a "lightning bug" by the locals, lofted his way across a field of flowers late one evening. Like hundreds of other lightning bugs, this little guy's tail was flickering on and off, punching occasional holes in the darkness.

The tiny Texan with the glowing tail was suddenly carried away by an enormous gust of wind made by the engines of an airplane lifting off from a nearby airport. The gust blew the tiny firefly into the cargo area of an airplane that was being boarded by travelers to Siberia! But he didn't know that.

Before the little lighted Texan could disembark, the cargo doors closed and the engines started. The little lighted insect lit on a suitcase and waited for the doors to open again. He waited and waited and waited. He slept. He explored. He slept again. Finally, the engine noise stopped and the cargo doors opened.

With less than a two-inch opening, the excited lightning bug flew out of the airplane, ready to shout, "I'm freeeeeee!" But as soon as he hit the outside air, his shout changed to, "I'm freeeeeezinggggggggg!"

He flew this way and that way, looking for a warm place. His sensors picked up on warmth coming from a nearby truck. The firefly flew into the truck just before the door closed. The truck was warm and the firefly was scared.

By the time the truck stopped, it was dark outside. The door of the truck opened and the firefly flew out into the darkness, instinctively using his tail in hopes of signaling fellow fireflies as a call for help.

It was terribly dark and bitterly cold. Even though it was springtime in Siberia, his little body was shivering against the cold. The little lightning bug kept flashing his tail as he flew about aimlessly in the dark. A high-pitched bug voice cried out from a bush, "Look at that! That strange looking bug has a tail light!"

Suddenly the Texas lightning bug was surrounded by big-headed bugs with large eyes and small bodies. He had never seen anything like it. They had never seen anything like him. They were completely enamored with his bright backside.

The Siberian big-headed bugs were enthralled by his light. He told them he was cold so they gave him a warm leaf to wrap himself in. He told them that he was a firefly. They had never heard of such a thing. No one in Siberia had ever seen a firefly.

However, the ancient prophecies passed down from generation to generation of the big-headed Siberian bugs spoke of a bug who would one day bring light to the villages of the big-heads. It was obvious to the Texas firefly that they believed HE was the fulfillment of that prophecy.

He tried to tell them he was just a regular bug and there were millions more just like him back in the United States, but they never really listened to him. They were too busy celebrating their new celebrity. The lightning bug was adored, worshipped, and villified throughout the big-headed bug kingdom.

Everyone wanted to get close to the firefly. Everyone cheered the firefly. Everyone brought him gifts and treated him like a king. He was even given his own private and cozy bed chambers. The little lightning bug never felt bigger. He thought for the first time that he was truly loved and appreciated.

One of the chief big-headed bugs grew a bit jealous of the new guy. One day, he waited until the lightning bug celebrity was asleep and snuck into his private chambers. The big-wig big-headed bug touched the tail of the sleeping firefly and discovered that flecks of the flourescent light rubbed off onto his own tentacles.

He emerged from the chambers of the firefly glowing from tentacle to tentacle. Soon, every big-headed bug wanted to touch the firefly. The noise awakened the lightning bug and he stepped outside to see what was happening.

A mob of big-headed bugs moved toward him. What started as affectionate, tender touching of the lightning bug's light turned to mauling. Everyone grew greedy for a piece of the light.

When the frenzy was finished, the firefly was unconscious on the ground. He was bleeding. His wings were spread straight. Almost unnoticeable was a tiny stick underneath the fallen firefly that stretched from the tip of one wing to the tip of the other. A second stick intersected the first, starting under the stunned firefly's head and poking out from under his tail. Only a flicker of light remained in his tail. As the other bugs watched, the firefly died and the tiny remaining light in his tail dimmed to darkness.

The big-headed bugs never really wanted to get to know the firefly. Nor did they ever want to know and understand the truth of his light. They only wanted to feel the light.

I wonder how many people really only want to feel Christ or rub up against His light rather than know Christ and be changed by His light and His love.

Hoping to Enlighten You,
Perry Crisp

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I am currently sandwiched between memories and vision. God has blessed me with eight amazing years serving Him as pastor of Walnut Creek. I look around my office and this community and see memories everywhere.

It is not until God leads somewhere else that you take the time to look back. He has. I am.

God has provided a new place and a new people for me to lead, and I look forward to the future knowing it is in the hands of the same One who blessed the past.

I look forward to what God is going to do at Lake Fork. The potential is exciting. But for this moment this morning, I am taking the time to thank God for this place and this people.

"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you" (Philippians 1:3).

Perry Crisp

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Parable of the Tool Shed

The First Hardwood Church of Carpenterville held a business meeting that had the sawdust flying. Here are the minutes from the business meeting:

The meeting was called to order by the moderator, Brother Claw Hammer. The minutes of the previous meeting were read by Sister Blue Prints. There was no old business. There was no new business. Brother Hammer asked for a motion to adjourn.

Before anyone could make the motion, Brother Sledge Hammer stood up and grunted, "I think it's time we got a new moderator. Claw has no vision and his leadership is weak. It takes him ten licks on a nail that I could drive with one blow."

Brother Claw responded, "So you think YOU should be the moderator? You have no gentleness whatsoever. Everything you touch gets smashed to pieces."

"Well, at least we don't have to listen to that constant banging from Brother Sledge like we do when Brother Claw is tapping away incessantly," piped Brother Hand Saw.

"If you think constant banging is annoying, Brother Saw, you should hear your monotonous sliding back and forth," buzzed Brother Power Saw.

Sister Plane, hoping to smooth things out, said, "What if we let Brother Claw and Brother Sledge alternate as moderator?"

"Why does it have to be a Hammer?" asked Brother Screw Driver, "Haven't the Hammer's run this church long enough?"

"Well, nobody's going to follow a screwdriver, for crying out loud," said Sister Tape Measure, "We would all just be going in circles until we buried ourselves!"

"I think the obvious choice would be me," said Brother Ruler.

"If Brother Ruler becomes moderator, I'm leaving," said Sister Sand Paper, "He would wear me down to nothing with his perfectionistic legalism."

"At least I don't rub everyone the wrong way," answered Brother Ruler.

In the middle of all this discussion, Brother Latch was quietly lifted. The Carpenter of Nazareth opened the door unnoticed by the fussing tools. He donned His apron and walked right into the middle of the tools. When they saw Him, they all got quiet and bowed down, as if offering themselves to His hand.

The Carpenter went to the work bench, opened the original Blue Prints, and began working. He used Brother Saw, Sister Plane, Brother Ruler, and all the other tools. When He was finished, there stood two objects side by side: A cross and a pulpit.

The Carpenter laid the tools down, took off His apron, and left the shop. Each tool stared at the objects in silence. No motions. No moderators. No meetings. They KNEW what they were here to do. One by one, each prior statement was confessed, withdrawn, and forgiven.

The Great Carpenter has work for each one of us. Though we are all different, we all have a purpose. We should all work together to proclaim the sacrificial love of the Son of God to the world around us.

Colossians 3:12-13,
Perry Crisp

Monday, October 20, 2008

Oh Man...

Only a man would buy his wife a pocket taser stun gun for an anniversary gift.

Only a man would then take the stun gun home and play with it before giving it to his wife.

Only a man would ignore the instructions that came with a stun gun.

Only a man would test the stun gun on his wife's stainless steel microwave oven that leaves a permanent black mark on it.

Only a man would shake his head and say, "I have no idea!" when his wife asked how the black mark got on the microwave.

Only a man would enjoy seeing the blue arc of electricity so much that he would taser the toaster, the refrigerator, the stove top, the metal stools, and the kitchen sink...and THEN notice the trail of burn marks similar to those on the microwave.

Only a man would sit in his recliner with the stun gun and pursue the urge to advance from stainless steel to living tissue.

Only a man would contemplate experimentation with Fluffy, the wife's cat.

Only a man would cross his arms and say, "Hmmmm...that IS strange!" when his wife showed him Fluffy's new look: Eyes permanently crossed, fur standing on end, and tongue that no longer retracts into mouth.

Only a man would ignore the effects of the stun gun on Fluffy and ponder the nature of human response.

Only a man would sit in his recliner in shorts and no shirt and logically calculate which part of his body would be least affected by the 100,000-volt surge of electricity if applied there and removed quickly.

Only a man would fail to realize that once a taser is self-applied, it cannot be removed quickly. Either the batteries have to die before you do or you have to pass out and hit the floor to jar the taser from your hand.

Only a man would deduce that his inner thigh is a logical place to test the stun gun.

Only a man would unwrap a stick of butter and apply it to the burns on his body once he regained consciousness and stopped screaming, and then put the butter back in the refrigerator.

Only a man would act shocked and say, "How did THAT get there?" when his wife saw butter-soaked burn marks all over his body.

Sorry guys. Just making a point. Here it is: What have you done today that only a Christian would do?

Only a cat would lick the butter off a man who tasered her while the man enjoyed a vicodin-nap on his recliner.

NOT that man...
Perry Crisp

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


"Every decision I've ever made in my entire life has been wrong. My life is the complete opposite of everything I want it to be. Every instinct I have in every aspect of life, be it something to wear, something to eat... It's often wrong. So, from now on, I'm going to do the opposite." - George Costanza, Seinfeld.

"Whenever I’m about to do something, I think, 'Would an idiot do that?' and if they would, I do not do that thing." - Dwight Schrute, The Office.

These two characters from television get extremely close to a Christian principle without realizing it. There is an "Opposite Mentality" to the kingdom of God. Christianity flourishes when it swims upstream. Successful believers live in contradiction to conventional wisdom.

The world's way is not God's way. The world tosses failures (people who fail) onto the garbage heap of oblivion. God often brings success to someone's life right after failure. God looks for the person who is empty of himself. The world admires those who are full of themselves.

In God's kingdom, the way up is down. Jesus said, "Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Luke 14:11). The world exalts the self-exalted.

The world throws a party and invites the favored among us, then waits for an invitation to a "return the favor" party. Jesus told us to invite the poor and the disabled to our shindigs (Luke 14:13-14). Those who can't pay us back. If we minister down, God will reward us up.

Think about this principle: The way up is down.

Conventional wisdom, logic, and basic human emotion says, "Hate your enemies." What does Jesus say? (Matthew 5:44)

The world tries to find the smartest, brightest, deepest thinking, and most qualified to run things. God calls preachers. Enough said.

When Jesus was asked about greatness in the kingdom of heaven, He didn't point toward the temple or the palace. He pointed toward the playground.

It's everywhere in Scripture! Take some time to see it for yourself: Proverbs 16:19, 22:4; Psalm 145:14, 146:8-9; Isaiah 57:15, 66:1-2; Luke 14:10; Romans 12:3; James 4:10; 1st Peter 5:5.

Since I started by quoting George and Dwight, let's finish with a quote from Martin: "God creates out of nothing. Therefore until a man is nothing, God can make nothing out of him." - Martin Luther.

Comfortable with doing things backwards,
Perry Crisp

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Backwards Thinking

God has no reverse. God's kingdom doesn't beep. The back-up lights don't exist. We may wish for a time machine, but God deems it unnecessary.

We think a time machine would be fantastic. We would love to go back and fix, erase, redo, or delete some event, word, thought, or deed. God doesn't see the need. He makes no mistakes, forgives us of ours, and heals those that have harmed us from others.

There are no rewrite's in God's script of human history. God allows us (the actors) to improv. He manages somehow to allow us freedom of choice in what we say, think, and do while His involvement in our lives remains true to the script. God doesn't write in chalk. He writes in permanent marker. The only eraser God owns is the one He uses to forgive our sins.

The prophet Balaam understood this when he said, "God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent" (Numbers 23:19). God doesn't back up because He always does it right the first time.

God not only does it right - He does it great! When God chooses to bless, He blesses so good that His blessings have no reverse either. Why anyone would want to reverse a blessing is beyond me, but just so there's no mistake, Balaam added, "He has blessed, and I cannot reverse it" (verse 20).

God deserves an awful lot more credit and praise than we give Him. God is good. All the time. He makes no mistakes. His gifts never have to be returned. You don't need to keep the receipt. Just enjoy and celebrate His blessings.

The "R" on God's steering column stands for Rejoice!
Perry Crisp

Thursday, October 9, 2008

You Gonna Fish or Fight?

I remember well the great pond war of 1972. My fellow 10-year-old fishing buddies and I made our way to our "secret pond" to enjoy some afternoon fishing. We walked for miles back into the deep woods of the Big Thicket National Forest in southeast Texas. It was a long, hot walk, but it would be worth it to sneak up on those unsuspecting fish and ease our lines into the water.

It would have worked, too, if there hadn't been another group of boys our age already there fishing! They were on the other side of the pond. Five of them. Four of us. The shouting ensued.

"What are ya'll doing fishin' at our secret pond?"

"What are WE doing here? What are YA'LL doin' here?"

Diplomacy was out of the question. This was war, pure and simple. We dropped our poles and picked up rocks. A direct hit was when you tossed a large rock and it landed in the water right in front of the enemy causing him to get hit with the splash. The enemies returned fire. The pond became a war zone of massive splash explosions on both sides.

We came to fish. We ended up fighting. Then a miracle happened. My friend, Jody, got tired of throwing rocks and started fishing. None of us knew it. We were all still heaving rounds across the battlefield.

Had I noticed Jody fishing, I would have ridiculed him with my professional opinion: "The fish ain't gonna bite now! We done scared 'em into lockjaw with all these rocks" (yes, I was a minnie hick in those days).

But I didn't notice. Neither did anyone else. Until we heard splashing over by Jody that didn't sound like rock-splashing. It sounded like fish-splashing. Like BIG fish-splashing! We looked over at Jody. His pole was doubled over and he was struggling to get that fish to the bank. When he finally landed the fish, he held up a 5 pound bass! Spinner baits and plastic worms from eight other fishing poles hit the water within seconds. The war was over. It was time to fish!

Jesus said to His earliest disciples the same thing He still says to His followers today, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19).

What is the church supposed to be doing? Fishing. What are most churches known for? Fighting. What do we need in our churches? Jody. We need someone to get tired of fighting and start fishing. When one person catches a fish, it inspires everyone else in the boat or on the bank. And when one person gets saved, it inspires the whole body of Christ to go after more.

"Father, I lay down my rocks and I pick up my gear. Show me where they are and guide my every cast."

Tying on my cross-shaped, crimson-colored sinner bait...

Perry Crisp

Monday, October 6, 2008

I Be Besetted

Sitting in an airplane on a tarmac in Munich, Germany, I was surrounded by people who didn't look like me or talk like me. The pilot announced over the intercom something that sounded like this: "Altoids! Vos splikken goose veetlejuice unz snitzer splat Sarajevo!" Half the passengers gasped at the announcement.

The pilot repeated the message in a second language that sounded something like this: "Palsja! Sapna skendervakuv trebinje adidas soj deanmartin llickaroach vunt Sarajevo!" The other half of the passengers gasped.

I waited for the pilot to key up the mic again and report the news to his one or two english-speaking captives. The mic finally keyed up, then a muffled scratching noise, then...elevator music. Elevator music? (Picture a rubber band wrapped around the key button on the mic handle of a cb radio, leaning against a small transistor radio...and you get the idea.)

After several agonizing minutes, a stewardess saw the look on my American face and was apparently fluent in perplexity. She shuffled to the front of the airplane and spoke to the captain on her cb radio. A few seconds later, the elevator music ended, the muffled scratching noise resumed, and the pilot struggled with his unrehearsed translation in english: "Attention! We have been strictly warned not to continue with this flight and denied permission to fly safely into Sarajevo." I gasped.

Two minutes later, without a word from the pilot (in any language), we taxied down the runway, and took off! We were in the air over the Balkans and none of us knew if we were flying to Sarajevo with or without clearance or if we were going to visit the pilot's in-laws in Croatia.

When Sarajevo came into view, we made our descent toward the airport. The runway was lined on both sides with a welcoming committee of tanks spread out about fifty yards apart. Before I prepared to meet my Maker, I noticed that the tanks' gun barrels were all pointed away from the runway. Whew!

We landed safely. I looked out the window and saw thirty or forty military personnel holding weapons. Before I asked for a cigarette and a blindfold, I noticed their formation. They stood shoulder-to-shoulder in two lines, making a walkway from the steps of the airplane to the door of the airport. They were there as human shields to protect us from sniper fire.

I was surrounded by people with guns and tanks, and it was humbling. There stood men willing to take a bullet for people they knew nothing about.

Being surrounded is not always such a bad thing. Psalm 139:5 in the King James Version says,
"Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me."

"Beset" has two possible meanings. It can mean "perplexed or harassed." But its deepest meaning is "to surround." Watch how the translators captured the meaning of this word:

New King James - "hedged"
New International -
New American Standard -

They all tell me the same thing: I am surrounded by God. Not only does God surround me, He's close enough to touch me.
"...laid thine hand upon me."

Your stereo and entertainment center may have "surround sound." But your God has soundly surrounded you with His love, mercy, and power.

Gladly Surrendering to His Surrounding,
Perry Crisp

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Loss Doesn't Mean Lost

Loss. What a powerful word. That one word can stop you in your tracks. It can turn your world into a matrix of uncontrollable emotions and unexpected behavioral changes.

The object of the loss is not as relevant as it's significance to you. The loss of a job, a home, a pet, or an irreplaceable heirloom or memorabilia can divert your emotions down an unexpected path. You may not even notice it. Others will.

The loss of a loved one is usually "the big one." When Jacob heard that his son, Joseph, had been killed, he saw no way out of his grief: "I shall go down into the grave to my son in mourning" (Genesis 37:35).

Loss can feel that bad. That hopeless. That overwhelming.

For many of you, I'm not telling you anything new. You've been down that path. You've been through the valley of the shadow of death. And it wasn't a walk in the park. You didn't stroll. You crawled. Sometimes, you just laid there in surrender.

Getting out of that valley can be one of life's greatest challenges. Once out, you never forget. No matter how much progress you make from that valley, you can still hear the voices from the shadows calling you back from time to time.

How do we deal with loss? Don't expect easy answers. Don't listen to those who offer them. There aren't any. The only thing you need to know is that God is with you and will lead you out in time. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death...Thou art with me" (Psalm 23:4).

Forget about trying to figure out the timetable. We're all different and grief doesn't care about calendars and schedules. Seek advice from your family, your pastor, and your physician. Listen to them.

If you need ongoing spiritual and emotional guidance, do not hesitate to seek out a licensed Christian therapist. You will be amazed at how God can use him or her to help you heal. I know...

I've been there...
Perry Crisp