Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Words never uttered...from the animal kingdom:

Fish: "I'm thirsty."

Cow: "That hamburger looks good."

Snail: "It all happened so fast."

Eagle: "No thanks. I'd rather walk."

Vulture: "Gross! I'm not eating that!"

Snake: "Hey, look! A guy with a hoe. I wonder if he's friendly."

Porcupine: "That was the best massage I ever got."

Cat: "I hope Jamie wants to play 'fetch' today!"

Alligator: "What! No salad bar?"

Turkey: "I love November."

Salmon: "I'll be back."

Armadillo, Opossum, Rabbit, & Turtle: "Always look both ways before crossing the road."

Words never uttered...from me:

"May I please have a pickle?"

"Oh boy! Algebra!"

"I wish I had a cat."

"I wonder what's on HG tv."

"Alright! Golf AND Nascar on tv at the same time! Cool!"

"I'll be back right after I get an earring and highlights."

"Fishing? Nah, I'm too tired."

"I only feel like preaching ten minutes today."

Words never uttered...from Biblical characters:

Adam to Eve: "Oh yeah? I'll have you know there are PLENTY of women who find me attractive!"

Eve to Adam: "Honey, I wouldn't eat that if I were you."

Noah (before the ark): "I've always dreamed of operating a zoo."

Noah (after the ark): "We sure could use some rain."

Abraham: "Sodom seems like a nice place to raise a family."

Lazarus: "I don't believe in miracles."

Satan: "You really need to think this through."

Jesus: "I could probably help you get to heaven. Or you could try one of those other guys. Either way."

God: "I changed my mind. I don't love you any more."

Perry Crisp
(Okay, so I admit. My quiet time got a little off-track this morning)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Elijah, the prophet, stood alone before Ahab, the king of Israel. Ahab was not high on God's "This is how you should rule Israel" list. In fact, "Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him" (1st Kings 16:33).

Because of Ahab's sin, God was going to turn the water sprinklers off. Israel was about to see clear skies. No rain. No sprinkle. Not even a light mist. Hebrew forecasters would soon forget how to say "precipitation."

Elijah had the privilege of telling the wicked king about God's "No Repentance, No Rain" policy. Elijah was a Tishbite from Gilead. Mean anything to you? Basically, Elijah was a renegade preacher from the back woods of a foreign country. He was no dignitary. Not a politician. Like today's politicians, he knew nothing of foreign relations. He just knew that God set him on Ahab's front porch, told him to ring the doorbell, deliver a message, and run!

Why Elijah? We're not sure. Other than the fact that Elijah was close enough to God to hear Him speak. Apparently, Israel wasn't. God will do that sometimes. He will use an available witness to confront a wayward soul just to get His message across.

Elijah's name and his story begin and end with God. "El" means "God" and "jah" means "Lord." All that's left to his name is "i." Add a little English to a lot of Hebrew and you could translate Elijah's name this way: God(me)Lord. A lot of God at the front and back...and a little bit of me in the middle. That's the way it should be for all of us.

Even in his name, El-i-jah was surrounded by God.

Zoom in on this one scene and you'll see a fiery, rugged, rawboned country preacher facing a rotund, posh, self-absorbed king. Elijah walked into six decades of immorality, idolatry, rebellion, and violence and pronounced a multi-year drought.

It was not a good time to invest in an umbrella company because Elijah was right. The drought came. The land of Israel suffered an unprecedented string of days, weeks, months, and years without a single drop of rain.

God provided for Elijah's food, water, and shelter. When the time was right, God sent Elijah out again to stand before a thinner, thirstier shadow of a king. When the smoke and dust settled, Elijah, the lone prophet of God prevailed over hundreds of Ahab's false prophets.

We live in a day and in a land where immorality and ungodliness surround us. We are called upon to sometimes stand alone against the evil that everyone else ignores or accepts. When we do, we are never really alone. God looks for special people in difficult times to stand for truth and righteousness.

Will you?

God probably wants to use you to lead others through difficult times. You can be someone's El-i-jah. In fact, go ahead and put your name between the "El" and the "jah" --- El________jah.

Surrender to the God who wants to surround you and let Him use you. All it takes is a lot of Him and a little bit of you.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Are You Over, Over?

"Get over it!" Someone recently gave me a motorcycle patch with those three words on it.

Great advice, isn't it? If only we knew how. No matter what "it" is that we need to get over, the issue isn't always so easily resolved.

Some things take a while to get over. Grief is a natural process when we experience a significant loss. A process which often takes time and great effort.

Occasionally, we experience things we will never get over. They permanently impact our lives. They shape who we are. They mold our character and our outlook. These can be good as well as bad. On the good side, I will never get over being forgiven of my sin and adopted into God's forever family. On the bad side, I will never get over being born in Louisiana! (Can't wait to see the emails I get on that one).

But seriously... There is much that we can and should get over. So, why don't we? Is it because we don't want to? Possibly. Even negative attention is a type of attention. It is attention we won't get if we "get over it." Pathetic attention is still attention. Enabling attention is still attention. We may not get over some things because of the attention we get from it. But does the word "unhealthy" mean anything?

Sometimes we don't get over things we should get over simply because we don't know how. It isn't really a lack of desire. It's a lack of direction.

We need God's help. Thankfully, God provides it. Proverbs are not just proverbial, they're provisional. And directional. God helps us get over anything from speed bumps to mountain passes in His Word.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths" (Proverbs 3:5-6, NKJV). The NIV says, "He will make your paths straight." In other words, stop trying to figure it out for yourself, and start trusting and acknowledging God as your pathfinder. He will lead you and guide your steps. You'll be surprised what God can help you get over.

There are also times when God guides us to others to help point us in the right direction. Make no mistake about it. I believe in counseling! I believe that God calls and equips people in fantastic and amazing ways to give guidance and counsel to His children to help us along our way.

I don't recommend secular counseling (no matter how degrees they have behind their name) because they leave a very integral part of the puzzle in the box. They don't address the spiritual. And if they do, they do so with vague generalities. Why leave the greatest source of hope and healing out of counseling?

I highly recommend solid, licensed, Bible-based Christian counselors. God has placed them in my life when I needed them and I have found their ministry invaluable. GASP!!! A pastor who had to see a counselor??? Absolutely. If you've read enough of my stuff, you've probably already thought about recommending it anyway!

I certainly recommend counseling. We all need help along the way. Proverbs also says, "Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety" (Proverbs 11:14).

So, get over it. Getting over something doesn't mean you forget it. It means it no longer hinders your ability to grow and function the way you were meant to. When it may seem impossible to us, Jesus reminds us that nothing is impossible with God.

Got to Texas as soon as I could...
Perry Crisp

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Nose Prose

I have a big nose. There. I said it. It' snot a family trait. Oops. It's not a family trait. It isn't big because I wiggled it too many times. It isn't a compensation for big fingers. My nose is big because of a diving accident.

In my early teens, our community swimming pool had an awesome diving board. It was so limber, it would almost touch the water when you pushed off. Like most pools, this one had a deep end, a shallow end, and a slope bridging the two.

Back in those pre-frivolous lawsuit days, it was no big deal if the lifeguard forgot to put the rope across the pool with the little white and blue kegs on it to mark the division between the deep and shallow ends. The day my nose got bigger, the rope was curled up, taking a nap in the pump house.

The broken-nose dive was quite a beautiful swan dive. I hit the board hard, sprung high, spread my wings, pointed my toes, threw my head back, and flew...and flew...and flew. Beyond the deep end. I entered the water and met the upward slope of the bottom of the pool.

Concrete met bone. Concrete won.

I pug-nosed the bottom of the pool. It was bad. I looked like I had been chasing parked cars.The nose bone broke, flattened, and widened. The bleeding eventually stopped. The swelling and bruises slowly disappeared. But the bone has remained the same.

I considered surgery until I found out what it was called: Rhinoplasty! Really? Is that necessary? Isn't it bad enough to have a big nose without having to be compared to a rhinoceros? If they are kind enough to come up with "liposuction" and "tummy tuck," instead of...nevermind. You get the point.

I'm comfortable with the scenter of my matter how much facial real estate it occupies. Besides, it was a beautiful dive worthy of an ESPN highlight reel... If only we'd had film back then...or TV...or electricity.

That dive taught me some important lessons: 1) Feel free to dive, but remember there's a bottom. 2) Keep arms extended upon entry and hands ready to meet the bottom of the pool.


Unless you are soul-diving into the pool of God's grace. In that case, feel free to spring high and dive straight down with no concern for the bottom. There isn't one. Same with the pool of God's love. No bottom. Dive deep!

How do I know? I've been to the cross and found grace and love immeasurable. The more you realize the amount of love and grace it took for God to send His Son to die for your sins, the easier it will be to convince you of the infinite nature of it.

It's as plain as the nose on your face...or even mine.

Perry Crisp

Monday, July 13, 2009

Same Difference

When I pastored my first church, I was very young. Mid-twenties. Full of ideas. Most of my ideas were shot down by the much older congregation. The most memorable was when we were discussing ways to make ourselves visible to our community and I suggested we have "dinner on the grounds" after church one Sunday. An old, moss-backed deacon stood up and said, "Preacher, we tried that back in '65 and it rained."

The stunned look on my face froze in complete disbelief for a solid two minutes. What was the old guy saying? He was saying,
"We're tired of trying and failing."

Same road. Same results. That's how we think. It's logical enough...usually. You don't talk to certain people because you have tried and tried and they continue to snub you. You don't expend tired energy on something when you've already tried and failed.

Peter understood. He had fished and fished all night long and caught nothing. I feel his pain. Someone defined insanity as "doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." The guy who said that may have been in the boat with me at the time.

There is a lot of truth in that. But it isn't a hard and fast rule. It's a general observation. What if you do the same thing over again, but this time you do so with a different attitude, a renewed motivation, or utilizing the strength and energy of someone else's enthusiasm?

We tried it again in '85 and it didn't rain. It was an enjoyable and successful experience. As people drove by, we waved them in as an invitation to eat with us. And they did!

Peter fished all night and caught nothing. He was tired. His enthusiasm for fishing gone. His hope of catching depleted. But he had Jesus in his boat this time. And it was Jesus who asked for a guided fishing trip.

"Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let the down the net" (Luke 5:5).

The legend of tall fishermen tales was born. They caught so many fish, their nets were breaking. They had to bring in a reinforcement boat. They filled both boats so full of fish that they were starting to sink.

Same lake, same boat, same nets, same fishermen. Much different results. Why? This time, they had Jesus in the boat.

Jesus once said something we need to remind ourselves of at least once a week: "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26).

Let's try this again...with Jesus on board.
Perry Crisp

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Catfish Christians

My daily route to the office and back takes me by a series of beautiful homes, ranches, pastures, and across portions of Lake Fork. It is a beautiful commute.

With one exception. A catfish. A large catfish. Hanging on a fence post. He's been there quite a while. Apparently, the owner of that property caught a nice big catfish and wanted us all to know it. So he slipped the bottom jaw of the catfish over the top of a t-post and left him there.

And left him there.

And left him there.

Some people hang wreaths on their doors. Others have ornate signs decorating their driveway to inform us that "The Hendersons" live there.

But this is Texas. We're liable to hang anything from a prized catfish to a freshly-killed coyote over our fences. We even pull up to the local diner with our tailgates down, facing the highway so everyone can see the deer, hog, or snake we kilt (that's how we say it...not killed...kilt...don't tell a Texan that a kilt is a man-skirt unless you want to wind up on our tailgate).

Back to the hanging catfish. It's July. Not July in Ontario. July in Texas. The catfish has been there so long, I can't even remember when I first saw it. But it's been months. Catfish aren't supposed to be brown. But they get that way when they've been out of the water and in the sun long enough.

It really doesn't even resemble a catfish any more. There's not much left but bones and fried dried fish flesh. Jerky anyone? Sorry.

Do you know what I've noticed about myself? Even though I know the catfish is gross, I still look. I even anticipate it.
"Here it it comes...there it is...ewwwwww..."

Half a million dollar homes to look at, and I barely see them. The most beautiful lake in Texas with the most awesome-looking bass boats on it, and my thoughts are elsewhere. But I notice the catfish.

That catfish got me to thinking about Christians. The same thing that happens to a catfish out of water happens to a Christian out of fellowship with Christ and His church. We get dry. Crusty. Hardened. It's hard for a leathery soul to feel much. Christ will never leave us nor forsake us, but we can take leave of and forsake our call to follow Him.

What kind of Catfish Christian are you today? Are you enjoying the cool waters of an ongoing swim with Jesus? Or are you flopping around on dry ground, starving yourself of what you most need to truly live?

That cafish didn't turn brown overnight. Your heart won't harden toward Christ overnight, either. It happens gradually. We need fellowship with Christ as regularly and importantly as we need oxygen. But we let so many things get in our way.

Something the preacher or the Sunday school teacher or the deacon said... The way sister Lulu looked at you... Whatever tries to get in your way, do me a favor. Try to imagine a catfish swimming itself right out of the lake onto dry ground and climbing up to the top of a t-post because of what Mr. Bass or Miss Perch said...

Sound ridiculous? Sure it does. That's the point.

Off the Fence Post, Into the Fish Pond...
Perry Crisp

Monday, July 6, 2009

Dropping Like Celebrities

Roll was called recently and a great number of celebrities went from "here" to absent: Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Ed McMahon, Billy Mays, Karl Malden, Fred Travalena, and Steve McNair. All of them died within days of each other.

We could categorize their deaths with various adverbs: Some died valliantly. Others died mysteriously. One died tragically. But the adverbs we most often hear at this time are "expectedly" and "unexpectedly."

The world may have expected a few on that list to die. Farrah, Ed, and Fred battled long illnesses. Karl was pushing 100. But the others were a complete shock. Michael died in bed with a doctor nearby. Billy died a few hours after receiving a slight bump on his head. Steve was brutally murdered.

But is death ever unexpected? Everyone dies...eventually. None of the founding fathers of our nation are still getting mail. All the old Pharaohs have entered their mummy clothes and pyramids. The Huns have all ended their pillaging. Any sign of Billy the Kid? Sir Walter Raleigh? Julius Casaer? Even George Burns eventually smoked one too many Sir Walter Raleighs.

Death is never unexpected. The date and time of a person's death may catch us by surprise, but death itself is written into everyone's calendar.

The Bible makes an exclusive claim: "It is appointed unto men once to die..." (Hebrews 9:27, KJV). The Psalmist asked a rhetorical question: "What man can live and not see death?" (Psalm 89:48). We know the answer.

Death is an inevitable chapter of life. But it isn't the end of the story. There have been a lot of soft words and phrases attached to death to make it more palatable. My least favorite one is "expired." Sounds too much like a gallon of milk or a credit card.

"Passing" is a better word for death. Not just because I will finally be able to "pass" something, but because "passing" paints a more accurate picture. Since death is not the end, it is then a transition. It is a passing from one place to another. It is leaving the land of clocks, calendars, and aging to enter the land of eternity.

Death itself may not be optional, but the route you take after death is. While your loved ones are asking, "Why?" you'll be facing a different kind of "Y." You will go in one of two directions.

Before you die, you have a choice to make. There are important plans you need to make. I'm not talking about funeral arrangements or cemetery plots. I'm talking about reservations.

Where you will spend eternity is a choice you need to make before your name is called. Your choice is heaven or hell. If you want to go to heaven, you have to choose Jesus Christ while you're on earth.

Everyone will want Jesus after their first second in hell.

In spite of what Oprah and Obama say, the Bible says there is only one way to heaven --- through Jesus. Jesus had this to say about that: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6).

I only shared half of each verse from Hebrews 9:27 and Psalm 89:48. The Hebrews passage finishes by saying, "...but after this, the judgment." Judgment is as inevitable as death. We are all guilty because we've all sinned against God. The rest of Psalm 89:48 asks, "Can he deliver his life from the power of the grave?" The answer is --- you and I can't, but Jesus can!

Jesus is the only one to conquer death. He died in our place to pay for our sins. Having finalized that payment, He then rose from the dead. Death couldn't hold Him. And now...death can't hold those who've placed themselves in Jesus' hands by faith in His atoning death.

Fred Travelena may be the least recognized name on the list of celebrities who have recently died. Fred was a celebrity impersonator. You and I will one day impersonate these celebrities, too. We, too, will die. Expectedly.

Shouldn't you make the necessary arrangements?

Author Relatively Unknown,
Perry Crisp

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Set Free for Freedom

The 4th of July is a blank box on my calendar. No plans. Yet, even that is symbolic of Independence Day. Freedom means we can make our own plans. We can even make our own un-plans. I love the 4th of July!

What bothers me is the health of all that the 4th of July symbolizes in this country. Independence Day used to shine like chrome at a Barrett-Jackson auction. Maybe it's just me, but there's a dimness to this date that wasn't there before. Do you sense a slight absence of some of the majesty of it's former glory? Has a layer of neglect covered our nation's holiday of freedom?

Soldiers are on their way back home to this fertile soil of freedom having handed freedom to the citizens of another country at a great personal cost. Shouldn't there be more people at the airports welcoming THEM home than people at Never Never Land saying "good-bye" to a bizarre and deeply-troubled soul?

The story of substance in this country will be the men and women in fatigues laying down their duffel bags to hug their spouses, children, parents, and siblings. But that's not where the helicopters, cameras, and reporters will be. They will be focused on a lifeless being who used to dance and sing.

Freedom should be celebrated with gratitude for those who purchased it and defended it, and a commitment to keep freedom intact.

Have we yet realized how much freedom we've forfeited to people we know nothing about in Washington? People who've never fought FOR our nation's freedom continue to grab more and more freedom FROM us.

We let them take from us rather easily what has been purchased for us with great difficulty.

I'm proud to be an American and grateful to live in this great country. I am grieved by what I see happening to it. But my true permanent citizenship is in a country not found on any map or planet. Heaven is my home. God is my Father. Jesus is my Savior and Supplier of my eternal freedom.

The joy and hope of being a believer in Christ can be found in the security of our soul's freedom. It's an eternal joy and an un-iffy hope. The same One who purchased our spiritual freedom by His sacrificial death on the cross of Calvary came back to life to guarantee that our freedom remain untarnished and eternally secure against all enemies.

No one can snatch me (nor the freedom Christ purchased for me) out of my Father's hands.

The freedom purchased by Christ cannot erode, wane, dissolve, or be diluted in any way. It's a forever freedom that never needs polishing.

Because I am an American, freedom runs through my veins. But because I am a Christian, freedom goes deeper than my flesh. It's in my soul. As much as I love the Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence, my passion for freedom runs deeper than the documents of man. I stand and stake my life and eternity on the Bible, which is the Word of God.

In fact, I don't think the tenets contained within the documents of American freedom would have ever been written without the truths found in the Word of God.

Arguments can be made back and forth as to whether we are or are not a "Christian nation." But one thing is undeniable. The content and character of these United States of America and her place in history would have never been what they've been apart from the truths of Christianity or the Christians who founded this nation.

It was that freedom of the soul purchased for them by the blood of Christ that drove them to forge a free land. A freedom so valuable they were willing to purchase it with their own blood.

Celebrating Independence Inside and Out,
Perry Crisp