Tuesday, December 14, 2010

That Wasn't Ferry Nice!

*Rated U-PC (Un-Politically Correct): Reader Discretion is Advised. Liberals, most news agencies, most college professors, and the politically correct WILL be offended.

A Staten Island Ferry removed the baby Jesus from their holiday display but left the "holiday" tree and the menorah. One official said the baby Jesus was "a religious symbol and they didn't want to offend anyone," so they removed him. What an intolerable toddler! Isn't it ironic that a baby can strike such fear in the pc police?

There are only a few thousand problems with the logic of those who booted the baby from the display, but let me focus on three. First, the menorah is a Jewish "religious symbol" dating way back to the days of the Tabernacle (Exodus 25). But let's not let faulty logic stand in the way of an official statement. Surely, we have learned THAT from our government by now.

Second, the "holiday" tree is, and always has been, a Christmas tree. Only recently have some hypocrites, who want to celebrate Christmas without Christ, come up with the whole "holiday" replacement word. I'm not saying you have to be a Christian to enjoy Christmas. I'm just asking you to stop butchering reality with lunacy.

I don't like asparagus, but I would not disparage you from enjoying it nor would I attempt to make up another name for it simply because of my personal preference. And if thereis ever a date on the calendar that celebrates Asparagus Day where lovers of asparagus exchange gifts or decorate their homes, I'm not going to take what I want from their celebration, strip it of it's meaning, and call it Chocolate Chip Cookie Day!

If Christmas offends you this much, George Costanza from Seinfeld has come up with an alternative for you called Festivus. You can get together with your family and friends, stare at your silver pole, try to pin one another with feats of strength, and air your grievances with everything you hate about Christmas. It's the perfect alternative.

Third, Christians in this country are not considered to be "anyone" by the politically correct. They "did not want to offend anyone," so they adiosed Jesus. When was the last time someone punted Buddha off a stage? Ever hear of Mohammed being yanked from the public's eye? No one else is fair game. Christians are the only ones untolerated by those who scream from their arrogant platforms of tolerance.

It is a most unusual form of persecution. It pales significantly and substantially from the persecution our brothers and sisters face in China and other parts of the world. But since I have "freedom of speech" and "freedom of religion" (at least in document form) in this country, I'm fixin' to use it.

There is an ongoing blatant hypocrisy that poisons political correctness. For example, the department stores all want us (especially Christians) to go shopping to buy gifts that will be exchanged on December 25th. They want and beg us to buy the latest toys, gadgets, cars, computers, lights, tinsel, bows, food and candy for the 25th. They cannot survive without our dollars.

It's all for the same date: December 25th. None of this stuff is for Hanukkah or Kwanzaa. It's all for Christmas. But each and every one of their employees (Christian or not) and each and every sign on their windows and ads in their papers all say, "Happy Holidays" instead of the horrifying sound of "Merry Christmas!"

They smile as they swipe our cards. They grin as they stuff their "Happy Holiday" stamped plastic bags with our purchases. They are swiping more than our cards, folks. They are essentially trying to rob Christians and Christmas of Christ. And we let them...even though they could not survive without us. And if we question this unbelievable treatment of intolerance, the same people whose own survival depends on our shopping sprees release public statements offensive to no one but us. It's incredible!

They want to take Christ out of Christmas but could not survive if we took Christmas out of the calendar.

They are so hungry and greedy for our money that they even begin decorating and advertising long before November. Thanksgiving has become a speed bump they hurdle. They can't wait for the third Friday of November so they can gorge themselves on our credit cards.

Now, as to the big question: Why? Why is a manger scene offensive and a sacrificial atoning Savior so repulsive? Again, there are a few thousand reasons, but most of them boil down to one --- pride. Man is so full of pride that he will even shake his finger in the face of God if God tells him he's a sinner.

The same pride that fell Satan from heaven stirs bad tidings on earth. If anyone were to take an honest look at the whole issue, they would find this very situation to be compelling evidence in favor of Christianity. There must be something sinister and evil behind a movement that wants to hush the singing of "Silent Night" or toss into a dumpster the display of a tiny baby resting in a feeding trough.

Mohammed can call for infidels (non-Muslims) to be killed and is met with toleration and acceptance. Statues and temples made of pure gold adorn Buddhist communities while the worshippers of Buddha starve in poverty. Not a voice is raised in protest from the pc. Name a religion and you'll find a fault, an injustice, an inconsistency, but you won't find anyone in this government trying to wipe it out or remove it from the public's eye (with the occasional exception of Judaism, which is the root system of Christianity).

Tax-funded schools are not allowed to pray to the God of Christianity while accomodations are made for Islamic prayer times in tax-funded schools in predominately Islamic communities. The point is: One is persecuted in this country while the rest are tolerated and accomodated. Why? Because there is one true God and He has an enemy.

The enemy only wishes to keep ONE message silent. That message is this: "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11).

Think about it. And while you are thinking about it, dwell on the irony of the name of the Staten Island Ferry that tossed Jesus overboard. The ferry with the baby Jesus phobia is named the St. George!

Who is St. George? A Christian officer in the Roman military who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods after the Roman Emperor Diocletian, in AD 302, ordered every Christian soldier in the army arrested and every other soldier to offer a pagan sacrifice. George objected and, with the courage of his faith, approached the Emperor.

George loudly renounced the Emperor's edict, and in front of his fellow soldiers he declared his worship of Jesus Christ. Diocletian attempted to convert George with bribes of land, money and slaves if he would make a sacrifice to the Pagan gods. George would not cooperate with the attempts to renounce Christ, so Diocletian had George decapitated on April 23, 303.

George's witness and martyrdom were so powerful that the Empress and one of the pagan priests converted to Christianity and were martyred as well.

George's body was returned to Lydda for burial, where he can currently be found rolling over in it.

Merry CHRISTmas,
Perry Crisp

Monday, November 29, 2010

Free Indeed

Shon Hopwood was not a particularly sophisticated bank robber. His bank-robbing strategy was not well planned. Listen to the strategy of someone assuming one of the most difficult tasks to get away with in this country: “We would walk into a bank with firearms, tell people to get down, take the money and run.”

Brilliant, right? Wrong. Shon pulled off 5 robberies in rural Nebraska in 1997 and 1998 that only brought in $200,000 in cash and resulted in over a decade-long vacation in federal prison. Yep. He got caught and went to prison.

No one was hurt in Mr. Hopwood’s bank robberies, but, according to the judge who sentenced Shon to prison in 1999, he and his accomplices “scared the (inserting Baptifanity* replacement word) heck out of the poor bank tellers.”

The judge was skeptical about Mr. Hopwood’s vow that he would change. He had heard it over and over again from those caught and convicted of crimes. After Shon's pledge to change, the judge said, “We’ll know in about 13 years if you mean what you say.”

Getting caught has a way of changing us. The honesty of it all is this: We get caught every time. There is never a time, never a crime, never a sin, never a slight of hand or eye that is not both seen and recorded. God sees. God knows. When I miss the mark, He doesn’t miss noticing that I missed the mark.

Ironically, getting caught is sometimes the door to true freedom. You’ll find that out about Shon Hopwood in a few minutes. You can see it in a nameless criminal in the gospel of Luke 23, beginning at verse 32 right now.

"There were also two others, criminals, led with Him (Jesus) to be put to death" (Luke 23:32). Criminals. The King James Version calls them "malefactors." The word in Luke is a combination of two words: "evil" and "work." Luke called them evildoers. Matthew and Mark were more specific and called them robbers. Luke wasn’t concerned with the flavor, just the poison. Sin is sin regardless of the label.

Matthew says that both men joined in the sneering and mocking of Jesus at first. But somewhere between verses 37 and 39 of Luke’s account, one of the criminals began to have a change of heart. After the other criminal screamed at Jesus to save Himself and them if He truly was the Messiah, the other criminal rebuked his partner in crime. He confessed that, of the three hanging on a cross that day, only one didn't deserve to be there. Then he turned to Jesus and said, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom" (v. 42).

How is getting caught the door to true freedom? To receive the forgiveness of God, you have to first admit you failed. Our conscience is supposed to weigh on us. And it usually does, but not always. When we continue on and push past our conscience, a hardness begins to set in. If left to harden and callous, we can become our very own hardened criminal. Sometimes, the only hope we have left is to get caught.

Had this criminal not been caught and punished on that very day, he may have never looked within himself nor to the Man on the Middle Cross who died to pay the price for his own evil work. But he did get caught. He did hang on a cross to pay humanity for his evil work. Yet simultaneously, the Man next to him hung on the cross to pay the debt owed to God by that evil worker…and this one.

One word made the difference… “Lord.” Jesus, by His own reply to that man in verse 43, opened a door no one ever thought could be opened for such a man. “Today, you will be with Me in Paradise."

No one would have ever picked that cross-hanging criminal to be the Valedictorian of Redemption. If he'd had a high school yearbook, the only thing written in it would have been, "You'll never amount to anything." Had we interviewed the old men from his neighborhood, they would have spoken of him in disgust, "That boy has been trouble since the day he was born."

But that boy was escorted by Jesus to the kingdom of heaven as the first trophy of God's amazing, redeeming grace.

Shon committed the crime and was forced to do the time. Once behind bars, Mr. Hopwood quickly began soul-searching. Prison has a way of getting a person’s attention. Shon said, “I didn’t want prison to be my destiny. When your life gets tipped over and spilled out, you have to make some changes.”

I would like to say that Shon turned to the Lord. He didn’t. Instead, he spent much of his time in the prison law library, and it turned out he was better at understanding the law than breaking it. He achieved something rare at the top levels of the American bar, and unheard of for someone behind bars: Shon Hopwood became an accomplished Supreme Court practitioner.

He prepared his first petition for certiorari (sir-she-o-rari) — a request that the Supreme Court hear a case — for a fellow inmate using a prison typewriter in 2002. Since Mr. Hopwood wasn’t a lawyer, the only name on the brief was that of the other prisoner, John Fellers.

That year, the court received 7,209 petitions from prisoners and others too poor to pay the filing fee, and it agreed to hear only 8 of them. One was Fellers v. United States .

Seth Waxman was the United States Solicitor General at the time. He had argued more than 50 cases in the Supreme Court. Of Shon’s petition, Waxman said, “It was probably one of the best cert. petitions I have ever read. It was just terrific.”

Mr. Waxman agreed to take the case on without payment. But he had one condition: “I will represent you,” Mr. Waxman told Mr. Fellers, “If we can get this guy Shon Hopwood involved.” Mr. Fellers agreed and they both felt good that Shon was there to quarterback the effort.

The former solicitor general showed Shon drafts of his legal briefings. The two men consulted about how to frame the arguments, discussed strategy, and tried to anticipate questions from the justices.

In January 2004, Mr. Waxman called Mr. Hopwood at the federal prison in Illinois to tell him they had won a 9-to-0 victory. Mr. Fellers’s sentence was reduced by 4 years.

The law library changed Mr. Hopwood’s life. Mr. Hopwood helped inmates from Indiana , Michigan and Nebraska get sentence reductions. Mr. Hopwood was released from prison in the fall of 2008. Mr. Fellers, the fellow inmate who was first assisted by Shon, was out before Shon, and owned a thriving car dealership in Lincoln, Nebraska .

“Here,” Mr. Fellers said, presenting his jailhouse lawyer with a 1989 Mercedes in pristine condition. “Thank you for getting me back to my daughter.”

Mr. Hopwood now works for a leading printer of Supreme Court briefs, Cockle Printing in Omaha . “What a perfect fit for me,” he said. “I basically get to help attorneys get their cases polished and perfected.”

His boss at Cockle said she had some misgivings about hiring Mr. Hopwood. It was hard to believe his story to start with, and it was really odd to see an aspiring paralegal driving around in a Mercedes.

But she called Mr. Hopwood’s references, including the former solicitor general, and was not only surprised to get right through to Mr. Waxman, but to hear his glowing endorsement of Shon. Did you catch that? Shon got through on the recommendation of a higher authority. So did the man in Luke 23. So do we.

Mr. Hopwood, who is 34, hopes to attend law at the University of Michigan. Mr. Hopwood’s personal life is looking up, too. He is married, and he and his wife had a son on Christmas Day.

A professor at Michigan who had worked with Shon in previous court cases said, “His gratitude for the quality of his life is that of someone who has come back from a near-death experience.”**

I know someone like that. Several someones. The man from Luke 23, the man who wrote what you are reading, and quite possibly the person now reading these words. Ours wasn't a "near-death" experience. It was a "true-death" experience. We were truly dead in our sins and needed the life-giving power of the blood of Jesus to make us alive to God. When you've been brought from death to life, you can't help but be grateful.

Excerpts from my favorite current writer are quite fitting here:

"The past doesn’t have to be your prison. You have a voice in your destiny. You have a say in your life. You have a choice in the path you take."

Remember this. Jesus, from the cross "saw you cast into a river of life you didn't request. He saw you betrayed by those you love. He saw you with a body that gets sick and a heart that grows weak. He saw you in your own garden of gnarled trees and sleeping friends. He saw you staring into the pit of your own failures and the mouth of your own grave. He saw you in your own garden of Gethsemane and he didn't want you to be alone ... He would rather go to hell for you than to heaven without you."***

Free Indeed,
Perry Crisp

*Baptifanity - replacement words used by Baptists instead of cusswords.
**Shon's story was published in the New York Times, February 9, 2010, and was written by Adam Liptak.
***Max Lucado

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Search is On

Abel Madariaga saw his 28-year-old wife, Silvia, being forced into a car by Argentine army officers on January 17, 1977. That was the last time he saw his pregnant wife. Silvia, a victim of evil politics as part of the 1976-1983 "dirty war" against political dissidents, was kidnapped and killed after giving birth. Some Argentinian rights groups believe that about 400 children were stolen at birth during this time from women who endured the same fate as Silvia.

Abel made it his life's ambition to find out what happened to his wife and child. When Argentina returned to democratic control, Abel lobbied the government to create a DNA database and dedicate judicial resources to the effort.

Abel's efforts paid off. After years of searching, he was able to find out what happened to his wife, though the details were sketchy and heartbreaking. Abel learned that his wife, Quintela, gave birth to their son in July of 1977 while imprisoned in a notorious torture center in Buenos Aires. The newborn, whom the couple had planned to name Francisco, was taken from his mother the day after he was born. Quintela was never seen again.

Abel's son, with umbilical cord still attached, was taken by a military intelligence officer, Victor Gallo, to his own home and his own wife, Ines. They named him Alejandro Ramiro Gallo and never told him anything about the circumstances of his birth or his adoption. But Francisco knew that something wasn't right. He never felt that he belonged to the Gallo family. He looked nothing like his brother and sister.

The marriage between Victor and Ines didn't last. Victor was a violent man. As the Gallo family fell apart, Francisco found a way out as a professional juggler touring Europe. Meanwhile, Victor Gallo was convicted of murdering a couple and their child during a robbery in 1994 and was sentenced to prison for ten years.

Eventually, Francisco worked up the courage to confront his "adoptive" mother, Ines. She broke down and told him what she knew. She didn't know who his parents were or where Victor got him. But she told the young man she knew and loved as her son, Alejandro, that he had been adopted. The news was a welcome relief to the increasing doubts that had haunted Francisco.

Francisco forgave Ines and the two of them determined together that they would try to find Francisco's family. Finally, some friends encouraged Francisco to get a blood test. On February 3, 2010, over 33 years after his mother was kidnapped, Francisco's blood was sent for DNA testing to a database set up by his own father, Abel Madariaga. A couple of weeks later, the DNA results arrived.

The test results told Francisco that Victor and Ines Gallo were not his parents. Gallo was not his real name. His real name was Madariaga and his father, Abel, was alive and searching for him. On Friday, February 19th, 2010, father and son embraced for the first time.

"When he came through the door that night, we recognized each other totally," said Abel to a large gathering of media cameras and microphones. "The hug that brought us together was spectacular. Hugging him that first time, it was as if I filled a hole in my soul," he said.

At age 59, Abel had never stopped believing that he would one day find his child. For 33 years, he searched the faces in the streets of Argentina, hoping to see his son.

At another news conference, Francisco, who had learned his real name only a few days earlier, said, "For the first time, I know who I was. Who I am."

The only time Francisco stopped smiling during the news conference was when the name Alejandro, given to him by the Gallos, was mentioned. Francisco stopped smiling and said, "Never again will I use that name. To have your identity is the most beautiful thing there is."

My soul identifies with the life story of Francisco Madariaga. Something inside me was missing. I wasn't complete. I wasn't whole. I was filled with holes.

Then I met the Father who never stopped searching for me. The Father who created a means by which I could find the identity He purposed for me. It wasn't through a blood test, but through a blood gift. He and His Son created a plan to help me find my way home. He gave His own Son as a willing sacrifice and substitute to purchase my invitation to come home.

Like Francisco, I now know who I am. I have my identity. I'm a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ, His Son. And I must agree with Francisco -- to have my identity is the most beautiful thing there is.

I must also agree with Abel -- the holes in my soul have been filled.

Home Where I Belong,
Perry Crisp

Monday, October 11, 2010

Open For Business

A mysterious stranger arrived at a New England seaport town from somewhere across the ocean. He opened an office with a sign that simply read, "Recovery of Lost Things." At first, no one entered the stranger's office, but everyone was curious.

The stranger put an ad in the paper to further explain his business, "I will help you find anything you have lost." The explanation did not satisfy all.

"So he's a detective?" asked one villager. His question received only shrugs of uncertainty.

Yet, the explanation was enough for a woman who had lost a great deal of money. She slipped into the stranger's office under cover of night. A few nights later, another person asked for the stranger's help because he had lost his great-grandfather's Bible.

Eventually, many of the villagers felt drawn to this stranger. The more comfortable they felt with him, the more they truly opened up to him about other "things" they had lost. An aging lady with wrinkles and sadness wept before the stranger, yearning to recover the beauty of her younger days. A young man of barely twenty was filled with regret and asked the stranger if he could help him get his innocence back.

After a few weeks, the stranger sat in his office late one night with a list of grand requests:
1. Bring back opportunities that were missed.
2. Restore tarnished reputations.
3. Replace sadness with joy forfeited long ago.
4. Renew relationships destroyed by selfishness, hatred, pride, and greed.
5. Resurrect loved ones buried both recently and long ago. Many asked only for one final moment to express feelings of love, or to apologize for things said or things not said.
6. Return the accolades, fame, popularity and praise of years past that has now faded and been replaced with continual silence.
7. Remove the effects of aging, smoking, drinking, and hard living and restore health, fitness, and vibrance.
8. Replace bitterness, emptiness, loneliness, and callousness with love, joy, forgiveness, and peace.

The stranger shook his head in disbelief. He only meant to help others find lost luggage, cargo, or other tangible items left behind on nearby ships. Yet, just as these hurting souls felt drawn to him to express the loss of their truest valuables, he felt the depth of their pain, listened to their requests without clarifying his intentions, and assured each one, "I will do everything I can."

He became a praying man, a compassionate man, a broken man, and a man of great understanding concerning the importance of valuing relationships and redeeming the time.

These requests were neither returned nor recovered by the mysterious man. But at least the longing of each visitor to his office was addressed. At least the pain was confessed. At least someone listened. Someone cared.

What each villager did not know was the trail of pain and heartache from which this stranger from across the ocean had fled. He came to their village to escape. Each of their longings reflected the longings of his own heart. His wife had died giving birth to their first child. The child followed his mother into eternity an hour behind her. He dealt with the pain of his loss with great anger and drunkenness. He boarded a ship with his few possessions in hopes of getting away from the painful memories. Upon arrival at the village, the ship's crew could not find some of the belongings he had stored below deck.

As the weeks turned into years, many who had once visited his office met him along the sidewalk or in the market. They met him with smiles, hugs, handshakes, and expressions of gratitude. With renewed hope and lifted spirits, they thanked him for all he had done. What had he done?

Only what each of us can do for one another. He gave them permission to grieve, promised to get involved, and prayed on behalf of their woundings. He did so unwittingly. We can do so intentionally. In helping others with their wounds, he found healing for his own.

This morning, let's go into business together. You grab a hammer and a nail. I'll hold the shingle above our business door that says, "Recovery of Lost Things."

Perry Crisp

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


This past weekend, we had an outdoor expo at Lake Fork Baptist Church. Among the many activities over the weekend, we were blessed with three performances of Hank Hough and his Amazing Dogs (www.kingdomdog.com).

The dogs truly were amazing. Hank wasn't bad either. At the 1 o'clock show last Saturday, we gave away an AKC Registered Lab puppy (valued at $600) named Lucy. Hank and his dogs visited some of the area schools on Friday and we promoted the puppy giveaway to hundreds of children.

There was a big crowd at Lake Fork Baptist at 1 o'clock Saturday. Lots of little boys and girls were praying to win the puppy while quite a few moms and dads were praying NOT to win a puppy! But this wasn't just ANY puppy. This was Lucy.

Lucy is a black lab puppy that stole all of our hearts with her sweet, gentle disposition. Lucy was given to us by a generous donor who believed in what we were doing. We received Lucy on July 29th, but the Expo wasn't until September 11th. Someone had to take Lucy in and care for her for 45 days.

Bob and Charlotte Orr took Lucy into their home. Lucy took the Orr's into her heart and snuck into theirs, too. Bob was the overall team leader of the Expo. He didn't have to take on this additional responsibility. But the burden of caring for a pet melted away and quickly became a labor of love. Lucy became a part of their family.

As the Expo drew near, we were able to secure twin yellow lab puppies a little younger than Lucy. They were both AKC Registered from a great bloodline as well. We had planned on giving one puppy away at the 1 o'clock dog show and another puppy away at a men's dinner, but now we had three puppies.

The temptation was strong for the Orr's to celebrate the addiontal dog and keep Lucy for themselves. But they decided to give all three puppies away. They began to pray for Lucy to be given to a little boy or girl who would love her, play with her, and be able to afford the best care for her.

September 11th came and the Orr's were overextended with all the duties of the Expo events. They were physically exhausted. But more than anything else, they were emotionally exhausted. It was a gut-wrenching day because they knew Lucy would be given away. They wanted her to go to the "best person" possible. They prayed to that end over and over all morning.

Charlotte sat on the back row as the drawing for Lucy took place. I could tell she was praying. I could tell she was struggling.

Finally, the name of the winner was called out. We all knew the name. We know the boy who won Lucy very well because he is at church every time the doors are opened. He and his brother started visiting Lake Fork Baptist about a year ago. A retired couple in our church invited them, picked them up from their small home, and brought them every Sunday and Wednesday.

These two boys didn't have much in the way of earthly possessions, but they certainly had a way of grabbing our hearts. We have helped the family with food and clothes, but not because they asked or expected it. We saw the need and wanted to help.

The boy who won Lucy was the first of their family to invite Christ into his heart. He was saved in the fall of 2009. A short time later, his brother accepted Christ, too. Both boys were baptized together on a Sunday night. Their dad and grandparents came to the baptism. We presented the good news of God's plan of salvation the night of their baptism and we began praying for the boys' dad and grandparents.

This past Easter, our children's department put on a play written by one of our church members. Those two boys were in the play. Their dad was at church again to see his sons in the play. The children in the play shared God's plan of salvation with the audience as clearly as I've ever heard it. They even led the congregation in a prayer to receive Christ. When the play was over, I reminded the congregation of that prayer and led them in it again.

After the play was over and the kids were taking down the set and removing their costumes, I was on the platform trying not to get run over by all the excited children when the dad of those two boys walked up onto the platform, shook my hand, smiled, and said, "I prayed that prayer just now."

We hugged and cried and I began to look for his boys. They had already made their way to the Family Life Center to eat ice cream. Their dad and I went looking for them. We found both boys and their dad told them that he had just accepted Christ as his Savior.

Both boys smiled real big. The boy who won Lucy pumped his fists and said, "Yes!" He told me time and time again that his dad was going to get saved because he had been praying for him. He was right.

We all know the boy who won Lucy. We know his family. We know their financial struggles. We've helped them. We've prayed for their dad to get a job and God gave him a job. The dad has become quite a testimony. He tells people they ought to come to Lake Fork Baptist because "those people will love you no matter what."

Before the Expo and just before the 1 o'clock show, many of us heard that boy say, "I'm gonna win the puppy." We just smiled and patted him on the head. When his name was called, there were quite a few jaws that dropped. But not his. His arms went straight into the air and he did the same fist-pumping motion he did when his dad got saved. He ran onto that stage as quick as lightning, fell on his knees, and wrapped his arms around Lucy. It was a sweet embrace.

I must admit, I had my concerns that the boy and the family would be able to afford to provide the care Lucy needed. Charlotte was more than a little concerned about the same thing. She was confused and upset. Not because of anything she had against this boy or his family. Not at all. She was concerned that they wouldn't be able to take care of Lucy. Quite frankly, Lucy had it made at the Orr's. She lived there in a beautiful home in a beautiful neighborhood with lots of neighbors who had dogs who were well cared for. To know the Orr's is to know that Lucy was loved and cared for by the sweetest of people.

After a couple of days of personal mourning, anguish, and prayer, Charlotte and Bob decided to buy Lucy some food and medicine and take it to her. They called the Children's Minister and asked her to go with them to Lucy's new home so they could see Lucy and take her the food and medicine. The Children's Minister agreed to go with them. Charlotte then called the number where Lucy now lives and spoke with the boys' grandmother to get permission to come by on Thursday (tomorrow).

I'll let Charlotte tell the rest from an email I received from her this morning:

"My conversation with her (the grandmother) is one I will never forget. She said that today started with she and the grandson and Lucy on the front porch waiting for the school bus. Lucy's new proud owner got on the bus after saying good-bye to Lucy and her tail was just wagging. After the bus left, her tail quit wagging. She was already missing him. When her new owner came home she (Lucy) was so excited to see him. They were playing with her when I called. We had told the boy who won Lucy that Lucy needs to go out in the morning by 6:30 am . The grandmother said her grandson cannot normally get up in the mornings, but now he gets up at 6:15 am , gets dressed, and takes Lucy out. He also takes her out at 9:00 pm before he goes to bed. Lucy has not had an accident in their home. I told her we would see her Thursday and she said ok. I hung up the phone and told Bob the conversation and we both cried."

Charlotte then came to the following conclusions: "God knew what He was doing when that boy’s name was drawn. All the 'things' that we all have do not generate the most important thing and that is Love. I am convinced that the boy who won Lucy loves Lucy. The family may not have a lot of 'things', but when I hung up the phone I knew that Lucy was cared for and loved. I have cried most of today and I have had many talks with God. I prayed and asked Him to take care of Lucy and He did. I tried to control the situation and all the time God was in control. I know this, but I continued to try to help Him. Only now have I given everything back to God."

Charlotte knows that the family will need help with Lucy because the food, medicine, and veterinarian bills can get costly, so she has started the “LUCY SOCIETY’ to help provide for her and to give whatever help she can to a truly needy family.

After reading Charlotte's email and wiping away a ton of tears, I began thinking about all of these events. Things we often can't see when prayers aren't answered "our way" can become clear when we give them up to God and trust that He knows what He is doing.

Maybe God's plan is two-fold: 1) To let Lucy love a young boy who will return her unconditional love. Anyone who knows this little boy knows his heart is filled to overflowing with love. 2) To find a way -- a way named Lucy -- to help us truly get involved in helping a needy family. Yes, we have already helped them in the past. But have we loved them like God loves them? Have we gone the second mile? Has God sent this family to us as an example of how His love for us should be imitated by us toward them?

There's a deeper meaning -- a parable, if you will -- for all of us in the story of Lucy and the boy she loves.

Wiping doggone - correction - dogSHARED tears because Lucy is shared, not gone.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


What if I'm right?

In an instant, the levy broke. It wasn't a slight breach. It was a wide, gaping break that emptied an entire lake in a matter of hours. Within minutes, a wall of water forced its way over and through trees, homes, streets, and towns. The water was so powerful, trees snapped and houses crumbled and disappeared. Dozens of people were swept away in an instant.

Dozens. Not hundreds. Not thousands. Dozens. The dozens swept away were the ones who refused to believe the warnings and heed the voluntary and eventual mandatory, evacuations. The Corps of Engineers had warned the public of the likelihood of a pending breach or even complete failure of the levy. Warnings and precautions had been public for three months. Officials went door to door insisting that residents evacuate.

Many heeded the warnings and evacuated. Some who evacuated early decided the authorities were wrong and snuck back into their homes after a month or two. Others grew impatient and held rallies in their towns to protest the evacuations, angrily shouting insults at the public officials and engineers who kept them from returning to their homes.

Then the levy broke.

Just as the engineers predicted, the water runoff from the rain miles away from the lake eventually made its way to the lake and increased the already tremendous pressure on the weakening levy, and it broke open with the same force as if detonated by a bomb.

Dozens died instantly. The anger of those who once protested the intrusion of the evacuation turned to tears of sorrow, disbelief, humility, and gratitude. Those who had been the objects of constant verbal assaults comforted and cried today with those who had cursed them yesterday.

Once the initial force of the water passed and left the area flooded, rescue teams manned dozens of boats and several helicopters to search for those who might have survived. The helicopter pilots guided the rescue boats to people in trees, on rooftops, and hilltops. The "eye in the sky" (via radio communication) also warned of unsafe areas so that the rescue boats would not get swept away in dangerous currents or their motors entangled in power lines. The results of the search were not as positive as everyone had hoped. Less than twenty people were rescued.

One rescue boat came upon a man in a boat tied to a tree. When the waters initially swept the man from his front porch, he managed to grab onto a tree limb and hold on. Within an hour, an empty boat came floating toward him. He swam to it and climbed inside. He drove the boat around for a while, but could not tell where he was. Afraid of running out of gas or getting completely lost, he tied the boat to a tree and waited for help.

The rescuers pulled their smaller boat next to his and instructed him to get into their boat, but he refused. "This boat saved my life and I'm gonna keep it," he insisted. The rescuers tossed the man a rope and told him to tie it to his boat so that they wouldn't get separated. He tossed the rope back to them, shook his head, and motioned for them to go on. He would follow.

He followed. For a little while. Apparently, the man eventually recognized where he was. Once he got his bearings, he sped up, passed the slower rescue boat, and took off. The rescuers shouted and tried to wave at him to stop, but he kept going. They tried to catch him, but he was quickly gone. A rescue helicopter followed above him for a few minutes, but lost him in the trees.

Two hours later, the helicopter pilot spotted the man's boat. The hull was severely compromised. Water filled the boat. The man was nowhere in sight. His body was found a week later.

As sad as this story is, it reaches infinitely greater depths of sadness when you realize it is a modern-day parable of those who refuse to heed the teachings of Scripture; and instead, believe the popular modern-day myth that there are many paths to heaven.

I believe the Bible is the true Word of God with the same depth of conviction that you believe oxygen is vital to the survival of your body. I believe what Jesus said when He said, "I am THE way, THE truth, and THE life. NO ONE comes to the Father, but by Me" (John 14:6). Jesus, in His own words, excludes Himself from the argument that there are many ways to heaven.

I believe Acts 4:12, "Nor is there salvation in ANY other, for there is NO OTHER NAME under heaven given among MEN by which we MUST be saved."

I believe what the Bible reveals. And the Bible doesn't argue about it. It states it as fact. Jesus said He's coming back and this world will one day end. I believe Him. The signs provided in the Bible to help us know when the end time is drawing near have never been more contemporary than they are now. The end could be closer than any of us realize. The levy is swelling.

Jesus said there is a heaven and there is a place of eternal torment called "Hell" and I believe Him. I also believe HIS description of hell over your favorite joke or country song about hell. There will be no partying. There will be no friends. There will be no escape.

Back to my first question: What if I'm right?

What if Jesus IS the only way? What if God gave us ONE way and the devil manufactured twenty alternatives to deceive those who preferred a different way than God's way? What if the Bible is 100% accurate?

What if I'm right?

I know what you're thinking at this point: What if the narrow-minded, holier than thou preacher is dead WRONG? Good question. What if I'm wrong? That would mean you are right.

What if YOU'RE right and there are many ways to God and/or heaven? Then I've lost nothing and gained everything. In that case, I am ON one of the so-called "many ways" to heaven. Why do I feel like I've gained everything? I have lived as both a non-Christian and a Christian, and I'll take the Christian life of joy, peace, grace, forgiveness, and love over the life of emptiness, ambiguity, uncertainty, emotional-roller-coaster-living ANY DAY...even if I'm wrong. But I know I'm not. How do I know? Faith. Faith confirmed daily. I know because I know Him experientially.

What if I'M right and you're wrong? You lose everything and gain an eternity in hell. Your shouts of anger and defamatory name-calling toward those of us who are trying to help you find the truth in Jesus place you in the parable as those who foolishly rally against and curse the ones who have saved your life before you realize it. If I'm right, then your perception of my intentions toward you are wrong. If I'm right, you might also be the man in the boat who felt he had a superior boat and knew a better way to safety only to find out that the other ways lead to disaster. If I'm right, I'm in contact with the "Eye in the Sky" who is trying to lead you in the right way.

Shouldn't that be a sobering enough thought to send you into an honest inquiry of the truth about Jesus? Not a quick googling of websites that agree with your presuppositions and prop up your opinions. I'm asking you to take an honest heart journey. I'm challenging you to drop your argumentative anger and face the issues of your soul without bias.

If I'm right, or even have a ten percent chance of being right in your mind, then what would it be worth to you to find out? And if YOU are so right, why not take my challenge, read the Bible, attend an evangelical church faithfully for a few months, and listen. Really listen. Not just to what the preacher says. Listen to what you hear inside your heart.

One more sobering question for you to think about today: If there were many ways to God and/or heaven, why would Jesus claim otherwise, and then believe it enough to die for it, knowing that man could reach God through lesser means? In other words, there's no wiggle room. You have to decide whether Jesus was/is the Son of God or whether He was a misinformed, delusional liar.

I'm just a man in a boat who is in contact with an eye in the sky who knows the way. And I'm begging you...

...please take the rope.

Perry Crisp

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ya Reckon?

Bobby crouched behind a thicket of bushes in the southeast Texas woods, waiting for his target to appear. He heard the crunching of leaves and twigs to his south and waited to see if it was an animal or his enemy approaching. Armadillos make a great racket in the woods, but not nearly as much as an eight-year-old boy.

This was the sound of an eight-year-old boy. Bobby lifted his rifle -- a wooden stick to an adult observer -- but a sniper's rifle to a boy's imagination. Within seconds, a skinny, blonde-haired eight-year-old boy wearing only cut-off jeans came into Bobby's line of fire.

As Bobby squeezed the invisible trigger, he yelled, "Pow, pow, pow, pow!" (Imaginary rifles require vocal sound effects).

Bobby's enemy ducked behind a tree, apparently unharmed.

"I shot you! You're dead!" shouted Bobby.

"Nu- uh! You missed! I dodged your bullets before they could get here!" I shouted back. (Yes, I was the noisy eight-year-old playing army in the woods between Bobby's house and mine. And yes, I've had an overactive imagination all my life...but I really was fast, so he DID miss).

The argument continued. He claimed victory. I claimed stealth. He said I was dead. I said I was alive. The war within the war was never settled.

So it is with the soul and flesh of the believer. The soul tells the flesh to die. Sometimes the flesh dies, but dies slowly; like a black-hatted cowboy in an old western movie who's just been shot. Sometimes the defeated flesh should just go ahead and die, but won't; like a white-hatted cowboy in the same movie who's been shot four times center mass and calls it a flesh wound. But most of the time, the flesh dies like J. R. Ewing: Dead for a season, but makes a comeback.

The Bible tells the believer to die to his old sinful nature. A new nature is in town. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17, NKJV).

"But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness" (Romans 8:9-10, NKJV).

Good stuff. What does it mean? Perhaps an imaginative translation will help: "So don't you see that we don't owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There's nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life" (Romans 8:9-10, The Message).

Earlier, Paul wrote, "Reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:11, NKJV).

If ever a truth were a challenge, this is it. How do I "reckon" myself to be dead? The principle is solid. The fact is, from heaven's perspective, what Jesus did on the cross buried sin's power to destroy us. But we need to transition from principle to practice. How?

First of all, it may surprise you to know that this kind of thinking is psychologically sound. What we think usually translates into conduct. The thought gives birth to the act. But it isn't mechanical. It can't be ritual. There's no going through the motions or chanting a magical set of words. You have to truly desire to be free from sin and alive to the desires and wishes of God for your life.

Being dead to sin and alive to Christ must become the constant conviction of your heart and mind. Everything you think, do, and say must sift through the filter of this truth. You are no longer what you used to be.

"Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God" (Romans 6:11, The Message).

Let's go literal for a minute. As a pastor, I've stood beside the casket of many a brother and sister in Christ. I've seen the families of the deceased lean over caskets and whisper words of affection and faith. Nothing ever said, no amount of dripping tears ever shed, have altered the reaction of the deceased. It isn't that the deceased is deaf, blind, or uncaring. He's dead. Conscious elsewhere? Absolutely. The soul lives on. Conscious of earthly noise? Nada. A twenty-one gun salute in a cemetery disturbs none of its occupants.

Oh, that we could respond to temptation's noise the same way!

Paul's words in Romans 6 are strengthened by Paul's words in Colossians 3: "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For YOU DIED and your life is hidden with Christ in God" (3:1-3).

A Christian is camouflaged in Christ. Time means nothing in heaven. So when God sees the Christian, He sees the result of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. From heaven's view, I died when Christ died. His victorious resurrection was mine, too.

I Reckon So,
Perry Crisp

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It Pains Me to Say This...

"There shall be no more pain" (Revelation 21:4). I have no fondness for pain. Not a single happy painful memory. Sure, good things have often risen out of pain. But neither the pain itself nor the memory of it bring a smile.

Jesus said we will always have the poor with us. The same is true of pain. Pain is always at hand. If not our own, then someone we know. Can you think of someone you know right now who is suffering? I can.

A grieving family a few miles north of me struggles with a pain I cannot imagine -- the drowning death of their three-year-old son.

A dear couple in our church family brought a sack of fresh vegetables from their garden to give to their daughter yesterday...only to be met at the door by the son-in-law saying, "When I tried to wake her up this morning, she was dead."

Parents burying their children flies high off the pain chart.

We know where pain originated. Genesis. The book of beginnings tells us. Adam, Eve, and the serpent had the first committee meeting in human history and decided one of God's rules was suspect. They decided God didn't have their best interests at heart, so they deliberately dined on a forbidden fruit.

God punished each of them with pain. The serpent's mode of transportation went from whatever it was to belly-crawling. If you don't think that's painful, try it. Along with the belly-crawling, the serpent's sin earned him dust-eating and head-crushing.

The woman's punishment was two-fold: Greatly multiplied sorrow and pain when having children, and having to submit to the authority of the dumber of the two genders. Why childbirth? Probably for more significant reasons than I, the dumber of the genders, will ever know. But childbirth had not yet occurred in human history. Chapter 4 of Genesis hadn't been written yet. So, childbirth, the next event in Adam and Eve's lives, was going to be more unbearable (pat yourself on the back if you recognized the pun) than originally planned.

The man obviously took one for the team when the punishment was handed out, though. One could argue that the woman's punishment would be enough for both genders due to the fact that the woman's punishment would naturally be transferred onto the man. Thus, the phrase, "If momma ain't happy, nobody's happy" was born.

Not only that, a man standing next to a woman during the birthing process, FEELS her pain if he is dumb enough to be within reach of her fingernails or teeth. We usually are. One bite has led to a billion more. The woman's second punishment lands in the man's lap as well. Things like heavy sighing, rolling of the eyes, tapping of the foot, hands on the hips, etc., have all evolved from this punishment.

But wait...there's more! For the man. Man had to go out and work the uncooperative fields. The woman and kids needed food. Food came from the ground. But the ground was as cooperative as the clamped jaws of a baby refusing a spoonful of medicine. Thorns, thistles and sweat awaited the man every day until he dropped dead.


Isn't it interesting that the Bible introduces us to pain's birth in the first book and then points to pain's death in the last book? "There shall be no more pain."

What happened between Genesis and Revelation that led to the promise of a future in heaven without pain? The answer is not a what, but a who...


Jesus happened.

Genesis even predicted Jesus would happen. When God was doling out the serpent's punishment, He said, "I will put enmity between you (serpent) and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He (Jesus) shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel" (Genesis 3:15, parenthesis mine).

Seems to me the winner of that battle is the one with the bruised heel. My, what a bruise it was. Are you with me? Between the birth of pain in Genesis to the death of pain in Revelation, Jesus was born.

Jesus was born.

The cure came via the curse.

Jesus came to pay the price for the sin of humanity. He gathered up all the rotten apple cores that have ever fallen from the sin-dripping lips of mankind, toted them to the cross, and paid for them with His life. Through pain.

More pain than any human has ever known. Through His own excruciating pain, He paid sin's penalty with His pure life's blood. The pain was meant for us, yet He stepped between it and us and took it upon Himself.

We still feel pain. Though the penalty has been paid, though forgiveness has been settled, we still live with pain...for now. But there is coming a day when there will be no more pain.

That's something worth knowing. And worth sharing.

Advil until then...
Perry Crisp

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Man Four All Seasons

A man had four sons. He wanted them to learn not to judge things -- or people -- too quickly. So he sent them each on a quest, one at a time, to go and look at a pear tree that was a great distance away. Each son was to view the same tree.

The first son went in the winter, the second in the spring, the third in the summer, and the youngest son in the fall. When they had all completed their individual journeys to the pear tree, the father called his sons together to hear a description of what each one had seen.

The first son said that the tree was ugly, bent, and twisted. The second son quickly disagreed, "No! It was covered with green buds and full of promise." The third son corrected the second as he described a tree that was laden with blossoms, sweet-smelling, and beautiful. "It was the most graceful thing I have ever seen," he said. The last son disagreed with all of them. He described the tree as ripe and drooping with fruit, full of life and fulfillment.

The father explained to his sons that they were all correct because they had each seen but ONLY one season in the tree's life. He told them that you cannot judge a tree, or a person, by only one season. "The essence of who you are -- and the pleasure, joy, and love that come from your life -- can only be measured at the end, when all the seasons are fulfilled."

If you give up when it's winter, you'll miss the promise of your spring, the beauty of your summer, and the fulfillment of your fall. Don't let the pain of one season destroy the joy of all the rest. Don't judge your life by one difficult season. Persevere through the difficult patches. Better times are sure to come in time.*

What season of life are you in? There are more than four seasons of the soul. How would you describe this season of your life? Productive, blossoming, barren, dry... There are so many options. I can assure you, there is no way to avoid occasional harsh winters. But there is a way to enhance, lengthen, and strengthen the feeling of spring in the roots of your soul.

"His delight is in the law of the Lord (the Bible), and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper" (Psalm 1:2-3).

Allow your soul to drink from the Fountain of Life that is the Word of God and feast on the Bread of Life who is the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

I've never stayed at the Four Seasons, but I've lived a few of them,

*Adapted from "Seasons of Life." Author unknown.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Seeing Triangles

Three Old Testament passages completed a triangle in my heart as I studied the Bible this morning. When all three came together, I felt a significant peace. But not until I saw them side by side.

Something was there, but I didn't understand it until I saw the three passages next to each other. Let's see if you see it.

Genesis 39:2, "The Lord was with Joseph."

Psalm 46:1, "God is...a very present help in trouble."

Jeremiah 29:13, "And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart."

Do you see it? "The Lord WAS." "God IS." "You WILL."

Past. Present. Future.

That's MY story. That's YOUR story. That's OUR story. A story the way it should be and could be written, if only we would let go and believe.

PAST. "The Lord was with Joseph" becomes huge when you know Joe's story. He was loved by his father, but hated by his brothers. He had a lot of brothers, so there was plenty of hate to go around. Some of his brothers wanted to kill him. Others just wanted to dump him in a hole and leave him for dead. But Joseph had just enough brothers that one of them planned to come back later and get him out of the hole. Then again, Joseph had just enough brothers that one of them wanted to make a profit off of him. So, they agreed to sell their brother as a slave.

Joseph went from being a treasured son to a dust-eating slave dragged behind a caravan of foreigners and eventually sold at First Monday Trade Days in Egypt. That is when the Bible says, "The Lord was with Joseph."

In spite of your past, God is with you. In spite of your pain, God is with you. In spite of all wounds, self-inflicted or otherwise, God is with you. No matter who you are, what you've done, what's been done to you, or where you've been, you can rise above your beginnings. God can make a masterpiece out of the ashes of your past. God can help you build a new bridge to a new life and new relationships even when you have done your best to burn all bridges.

Have you been rejected? So was Joseph. Have you discovered that the people you thought loved you really didn't? So did Joseph. But "the Lord was with Joseph." Those words change everything! With God, yesterday doesn't have to poison tomorrow. Take your focus off of those who hurt or mistreated you. Put your focus on the God who never will.

PRESENT. "God is...a very present help in trouble." Don't buy the lie. Becoming a Christian doesn't turn you into a problem-free, unsinning saint who never has a bad day, a bad thought, bad breath, or never makes a bad decision. Becoming a Christian means Christ has forgiven you of your sins and moved into your life. He will never leave you nor forsake you.

You ARE going to mess up. You ARE going to find your way to an occasional pit of trouble. God IS a very present help when you do. Pit-dwelling doesn't have to be permanent when you know a guy with a rope. God has the rope, the strength, and the desire to pull you out if you will call out to Him.

When you do mess up, Satan is going to quickly write out your grade, and it will be an "F." The devil loves giving out "F's" to Christians:

"You Failed! That makes you a Failure!"

"How can you call yourself a Christian?"

"God is going to drop you like a hot potato now that you've done that!"

But God doesn't. He is a VERY PRESENT HELP! When your clock strikes "trouble" or "failure" or any other point on the darkest hours of your life, God is very present. When God says He will never leave you, believe it. You might FEEL abandoned because guilt says you deserve it. But the opposite is true. At that very moment, you are more than ever the object of His love, concern, and attention.

FUTURE. "And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart." There is no greater guarantee. There is no greater Guarantor. It is so simple, yet we so often miss it. Our future, yours and mine, is as great as our ability to pursue God honestly. Tell God all that is in your heart. Tell Him your troubles, your dreams, your weaknesses, your wounds, your prejudices, your shallow fears, and your deep thoughts. Open up and let it out.

He doesn't listen only to King James prayers filled with lofty oratory. In fact, He may not liketh those very much. He listens to the crying kid in us who needs Dad to protect him, love him, accept him, and guide him. Ohhhh, how He loves childlike prayers!

So there you have it. The triangle completed. God was with us. God is with us. God will be with us. I can face the day and sleep through the night with that in my heart. Can't you?

Triangled by God,
Perry Crisp

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bleeve It!

"As you have believed, so let it be done for you" (Matthew 8:13). And so often it is.

These words of Jesus were for a specific situation where a man with an ailing servant asked Jesus to intervene. Jesus commended the man's faith as the best faith He'd seen, even among the Israelites.

But even outside of that context, Jesus' words bring a universal truth to light: As you have believed, let it be done for you.

Some people say we get what we pay for. But then I see my tax dollars at work and beg to differ. By watching today's children in Wal-Mart, I'm tempted to think we get what we cry for. In our miserable excuse for a justice system, it appears we get what we sue for. At the doctor's office, we get what we are insured for...sometimes. In politics, we get what someone else was bribed for.

But honestly...don't we so often get what we "faith" for? The hypochondriac's tombstone reads, "I told you I was sick" for a reason. What we believe impacts what we receive. (I'm going to type that sentence again in it's own paragraph and I'm going to type slow because I want you to see it and let it sink in).

What we believe impacts what we receive.

And what we believe is not always what we say we believe. Church folk love to hear a good message on a variety of subjects they have no desire to practice. Many "a-mens" on Sunday are not followed through on Monday. "Name it and claim it" is not nearly as effective as "Believe it and step toward it." Most churches are where they want to be right now, not where they SAY they want to be. As we have believed, thus it is being done.

Everywhere God shines light, the devil makes shadow puppets to shed a little darkness over the truth. So every time Jesus tells us of the simplicity of faith and the greatness that can be accomplished if we would only believe, the devil brings in his red-suited lawyers to pick truth apart with deception and lies.

This devotional is done, but our meditation on this truth from Jesus should stay stamped upon our minds for a long time: "As you have believed, so let it be done for you."

You have an outstanding chance of receiving tomorrow what you believe today.

"And his servant was healed THAT SAME HOUR..." (same verse)... I guess Jesus was telling the truth, eh?

What you believe can happen can happen,
Perry Crisp

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Little Debbie

Debbie T. returned to her one bedroom apartment with the words "four to six months" boldly emblazened into her mind. A few weeks earlier, a shadow appeared on one of her test results. That shadow, her doctor discovered, was a fast-growing form of cancer. Deb was faced with the news that she had only a few months to live.

Deb had lived her life without really giving her own eventual demise much thought. Now, it was all she thought about. "But it was just a shadow," she kept repeating through her tears. "How can a shadow kill?"

Eventually, Deb began to take inventory of her life. She looked at herself and her situation. She was a divorced, 57 year-old woman with no children. Her parents had both died before she was 50. Her sister, twelve years ahead of her chronologically, was now 50 years behind her mentally and emotionally, spending her remaining years in a care facility for alzheimer patients. Deb worked as a cashier at a small, family-owned grocery store in rural Louisiana since her divorce fourteen years ago.

The first phone call she made was to her boss, Randy. Through her tears, Deb let Randy know that she would not be coming back to work. In spite of his many efforts to find out why she was crying and quitting her job, Randy soon heard the line go dead. A strange, illogical fear kept Deb from telling anyone that she was dying. It was as if, by saying it aloud, it would make it true.

The second phone call Deb made came two days later. She called her bank to find out how much money she had in her checking and savings accounts. The amount surprised her. She had hoped to have enough money to get away for a few days. She wanted to sit on a beach and watch the sun rise and set. Instead, she had enough money to go practically anywhere she wanted for a week! Upon further investigation, she discovered a sizeable deposit into her account the previous day. Randy.

Randy and his wife and family had always been good to her. She knew she had to tell them what was going on, but she decided she would wait until she returned from her trip. She had to get away. But where? Deb wanted to see at least one place on earth that she had always dreamed of seeing before it was too late.

Deb knew what that one place was --- Hawaii! For years, she watched game shows and dreamed of being a contestant and winning a trip to Hawaii. But it had only always been a fantasy. With Randy's help, she had just enough money to get to California for a week.

A plan developed in Debbie's mind. She would go to California, get on a game show, and win a trip to Hawaii. It seemed simple enough...until she tried to apply as a contestant. The waiting lists did not fit her limited calendar. The tryouts, application forms, and the odds of being selected were not in her favor either. The only game show she could get tickets to immediately was the one she had watched all her life: "The Price is Right."

"The Price is Right" is the one game show that pulls contestants from the audience. She knew the likelihood of being selected as a contestant was a long shot. She knew the chances of winning a trip was an even greater long shot. And the odds of her winning a trip specifically to Hawaii? Just this side of "not-a-chance." But what did she have to lose? At least she would die knowing she finally took a risk on fulfilling her dreams.

To her surprise, an ad on "The Price is Right" website inviting people to be a contestant on the show had a sample contestant name tag that read, "Debra!" It was all she needed to point and click her way toward contestanthood.

With great fear and enormous butterflies in her stomach, she booked a seat in the audience and one on an airplane. She then found the big, luxurious hotel that they always advertise on the game show and booked a room for three nights. The fear of the shadow was driven away by the excitement of going to California and being in a television audience.

This was a huge step for Deb. Her flight left in four days and she didn't sleep for the next three nights. She packed and packed again a dozen times, ignoring all phone calls, emails, and knocks at the door.

Deb felt totally out of place in Los Angeles. She tried to act like a seasoned traveler, but knew she was failing miserably. In spite of her anxieties, she forced her way through LAX, baggage claim, and an unforgettable cab ride to the hotel. As she checked in at the snazziest place she had ever seen, she looked around, hoping to catch a glimpse of Richard Gere, only to discover that everyone was looking at her. They had obviously never seen anyone from the other "LA"!

When the door closed behind her in her immaculate hotel room, she let out a gigantic sigh of relief, flung herself onto the soft bed, and let the emotions flow. It was an odd demonstration of grief, laughter, sorrow, satisfaction, disbelief, and relief.

The next day, Debbie sat in the studio audience of "The Price is Right" with a big tag on her shirt that read, "Deb." The process of getting to her seat was all a blur. She vaguely remembered filling out paperwork and going through security, but it was mostly a fuzzy series of events that didn't find a home in her memory.

Deb enjoyed the entire show, but her name wasn't called...until the second half! "Debbie T, come on down! You're the next contestant on 'The Price is Right!'"

Deb couldn't believe it! She didn't jump up and scream. She floated down the aisle in shock. It didn't seem real. When she reached her place in the contestant line-up, tears began to flow down her cheeks. The host of the show saw the tears and tried to help her laugh it off, "Wow. She's crying. That usually only happens backstage BEFORE I go to makeup."

Everyone laughed. Everyone except Deb. She cried harder. The place went silent. Fear gripped Deb like never before. Barely discernible words crept out of her for the first time about her diagnosis and her dream. Before she could stop herself, she blubbered to a studio full of strangers what she had kept from close friends: "A shadow...cancer...four to six months...Hawaii..."

People in the audience gasped. Producers began to whisper. Deb saw their reaction. "What are you DOING?" she thought to herself. She suddenly felt foolish and alone. She ran as fast as she could out of the studio. She didn't stop running until she got to the hotel.

Deb hid in her room for the next two days until time for her flight home. She was miserable. She felt like a total failure, having stood at the plate of "the oppurtunity of a lifetime" and struck out.

When Deb entered her home, the sound of the door closing behind her seemed like the closing of the casket on her hopes and dreams. She went straight to bed and slept for ten hours. "Why wake up?" she thought to herself. "What's the point?"

Deb laid in bed staring at the ceiling fan for another hour before getting up and fixing herself some toast and coffee. She had two messages on her answering machine. One number she recognized. Randy. The other number must have been a telemarketer. She didn't recognize the area code. Deb let both messages sit and blink while she ate her breakfast and started the bathwater in the tub.

While in the tub, the unrecognized area code bounced around in her head until it finally found a home. In Deb's mind, there was almost a "ding, ding, ding" sound that went off. The area code was the same as her hotel in Los Angeles. Deb knew that she had paid her bill before leaving, so she decided to finish the relaxing bath before checking the message.

BEEP. "Debbie T? This is Adam Sandler, producer of 'The Price is Right.' Would you please give me a call? I have something I would like to discuss with you."

BEEP. "Deb? Hey, it's Randy. Listen, I need to talk to you. Can you please call me back?" BEEP.

"The Producer is calling ME?" Deb was shocked, scared, and embarrassed. She had replayed her incident on the show over in her mind ten million times and it always left a painful hole in her stomach. She knew they simply edited her out of the program and called another contestant to take her spot. So, why was Mr. Sandler calling?

Three slight raps on her apartment door jolted Deb out of her attempt to understand Mr. Sandler's message. Deb went to the door and looked through the peep hole. Randy and some man in a business suit. Both smiling.

"What do you want, Randy? And who is that with you?"

"This is Mr. Sandler, Deb," answered Randy. "He's a big Hollywood producer. Would you please let us in? We would like to talk to you."

Debbie stood silent, trying to process the situation. "I know about your cancer, Deb," said Randy. "Mr. Sandler tracked me down from the paperwork you filled out to be on the show. He told me what happened. You have nothing to be ashamed of. We know there's nothing we can do or say to change what you are facing. But please, give us a chance to change how you face it."

Tears flowed down Deb's cheeks. Her heart was broken, but her will was stubborn. "Randy," she answered. "You and your family have been so good to me. But this is something I have to deal with alone."

"I apologize for interrupting, Mrs. T," said Mr. Sandler. "If you wanted to deal with it alone, why couldn't you stop yourself from telling a theater full of strangers? I don't think 'alone' is working for you. We'd like to help if you would be kind enough to let us in so we can talk."

"You came all this way to talk to me?" Deb couldn't imagine such a thing.

"I did," answered Mr. Sandler.

A brief silence followed. With trembling hands, Deb unlocked her apartment door, opened it, and buried her face in Randy's embrace. The three of them sat in Debbie's apartment and talked briefly about her cancer, treatment options, and grim prognosis. Few conversations fill a room with as much heaviness and sadness as this one did.

But the heaviness and sadness didn't last long. Through Mr. Sandler's travel connections and sponsors, as well as sizeable donations from businesses and banks in Deb's small Louisiana community, Deb was going to Hawaii for four weeks! All expenses were paid. Reservations and flights were already booked. Randy handed her an envelope with all her ticket and hotel information and enough spending money for a family of twelve, and said, "I hope your toothbrush is still in your suitcase. You have a plane to catch tomorrow evening."

Did you catch her name? Deb T. Put them together. Debt. We all face Debbie's dilemma. We live in bodies cursed by sin and sentenced to death. The hope of our soul is to gain an envelope of grace that grants us a ticket to Heaven.

We can't earn it. Our debt is higher than our ability to pay. But there is One to whom our value is higher than our debt.

God loved us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to pay the cruel price and purchase our fare to Heaven. Jesus came all this way for YOU!

Debbie didn't go to Hawaii until she reached her hand out and accepted the envelope from Randy. Any gift involves a willing giver and a willing receiver. God has willingly given you the gift of salvation. Jesus willingly gave His blood to pay for your sin's penalty. Have you willingly, personally received that gift?

You can. Here's how: Admit to God that you have sinned against Him. No excuses. No comparisons to anyone else. Just acknowledge that you are a sinner in need of His gift of salvation. Then, ask God to forgive your sins through the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross. Then, by an act of your will, heart, mind, and soul --- turn away from sin and turn toward the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Invite the resurrected Christ to enter and change your life forever.

Have you? If so...believe. Stand on your soul's liberty through the promises of God's Word, the Bible, that you are forgiven and redeemed by the blood of Jesus. You invited Him into your life by faith. Now, live by that same faith.

If you just prayed to receive God's gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, I would like to know about it so that I can pray with and for you, and help you take your next steps as a born-again child of God. Please email me and let me know of your decision. I look forward to hearing from you.

Perry Crisp


Monday, May 17, 2010

School Daze

Pick a grade. It doesn't matter which one. Third grade? Yep. Seventh grade? Ah-huh. Eleventh grade? That one, too. You can even count my four years of college and six years of seminary. My feelings never changed. It was always the same: I COULDN'T WAIT FOR THE BELL TO RING!

The coolest thing about school was the bell. Kids today are cheated if they don't get a real bell. Don't give them a wimpy electronic ding. Don't shortchange them with a beep or a buzz. The bell is the best! It inspires the fireman in all of us. It shoots kids out of the cannon of semi-consciousness.

When I was younger, the bell was a wonderful daily surprise. I was ADD before they had the initials, so I was lost in my own little world the first few years of first grade. But when that bell rang -- hot dog -- I sprang to action! Slam the book shut. Grab the Big Chief tablet (google it, kids) and the Green Hornet lunchbox. The bell has sounded! It's time to go home!

As I got older, I gradually learned to expect the bell. Somewhere along the way, I became a clock watcher. I knew the bell was coming. I knew WHEN it was going to ring. I'll be honest. I liked it better when I didn't know. Even the smug satisfaction of counting down the final ten seconds and synchronizing my "NOW" whisper-shout perfectly with the ringing of the bell was not as exhilerating as the former days of being surprised by the bell.

But still, the anticipation was there, even in seminary. The knowing. The waiting. Stealthily watching the clock like a professional spy without anyone knowing that I knew time was about to run out. Slowly, methodically, unnoticed, I would gather my books and my Green Hornet lunchbox (the seminary bookstore didn't sell Big Chief tablets) and lunge for the door when the bell sounded. The thrill of the bell never left. It never let me down, unless it was a fire drill. But even that had it's own adrenalyn rush.

What could be more awesome than a bell to end school? A trumpet and a high-volume shout from the sky to end the world. Oh yes. It's coming. Just as I knew the bell was coming in school, I know the trumpet will one day blast and the angel in charge of shouting will let her rip. The only thing I don't know is...when. No one knows.

A few morons guess. Jesus predicted they would. But Jesus said, "No one knows" (Matthew 24:36-37). No one knows when it will but happen. But the Bible assures us that it most definitely will happen.*

When the bell in school rang, I was always ready to go. School was not my home. School had moments of pleasure. Thank God for recess, lunch, good friends, and nice teachers. But as good as the good in school was, it couldn't compare to home.

This world is the same. It has great moments. I'm thankful for the blessings of God in this life. But this isn't home. Heaven is. I don't watch the clock because there's no clock to watch. But every once in a while, I see signs that make me think the angel in charge of trumpet blowing is about to pucker!

I'm ready. Are you?

*"The Master himself will give the command. Archangel thunder! God's trumpet blast! He'll come down from heaven and the dead in Christ will rise --- they'll go first. Then the rest of us who are still alive at the time will be caught up with them into the clouds to meet the Master. Oh, we'll be walking on air! And then there will be one huge family reunion with the Master. So reassure one another with these words" (1st Thessalonians 4:16-18, The Message).

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Home is Where the Hard Is

Where do you go when your life's been changed? According to Jesus, you go to the hardest place there is to live a changed life --- home.

Jesus and His disciples hopped in a boat and went across the Sea of Galilee to Gadara. They were met by an unwelcoming committee of demons who had taken up residence in a man's life. They didn't want Jesus near their man-hotel. They liked living inside him and enjoyed torturing him. But he didn't like it so much, so he ran toward Jesus for help.

He got what he hoped for. Jesus evicted the unwelcome gang of demonic thugs from the man's life and sent them into a more fitting host --- a herd of pigs.

The man who had terrorized nearby villages with his screams of demonic torture was released of that evil, and the Bible described him as "sitting and clothed and in his right mind" (Mark 5:15).

The people of the village saw the man sitting there like a normal man and it scared them. It seemed they were more afraid of him now than when he acted like a raving lunatic. People untouched by God's grace don't understand it. They don't trust it. They don't know where to put it or what to do with it. They will "amen" a sermon on grace, forgiveness, and restoration, but they will "oh me" someone they know who used to be a hellion and now claims to be permanently altered by that grace.

Some will even pretend to accept such a person with a hug, a handshake, or a wink. Yet, the wink stays permanent and becomes an attitude of --- "I'm keeping my eye on you." Which is another way of saying, "I believe God can change people, but I'm not sure God can change YOU."

The former host of the demonic tormentors knew this. He took one look at the fear and scowls on the faces of his homies and ran to Jesus a second time. This time he was hoping for a ticket on Jesus' boat so he could get far away from his hometown.

"Jesus, can I please go with you? I'm not welcome here. They won't believe that I've changed. I'll always be the ex-maniac here. They'll never trust me or accept me."

Jesus' answer is hard: "Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you" (verse 19).

The hardest place to live a changed life is at home. Friends and family are the hardest people to convince that you are a new person. No one knows the old you like they do.

But Jesus knows this... If your family and friends can see a difference in you, then everyone else will, too. If it's real, it can pass even the hardest test.

My friend, the world might forever label you as a former this or that. Take heart. The world doesn't have the last word. God does. His wink is genuine. His embrace is everlasting. His home is yours forever.

He will even give you a job: "Tell them what I've done for you and how I love you."

That's change you can truly believe in!

Perry Crisp

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Hi Mom!

Four days from now, the land of the free and the home of the brave will turn the gratitude spotlight on the ones who make it all happen: Mom!

Seriously, moms DO make it all happen. That kid who stands at home plate swinging at and completely missing the ball on the t-ball stand today, yet hits a grand-slam tomorrow for a MLB team owes a lot to the mom who rarely missed a game, always cheered him on, and taught him to believe in himself. He becomes the hero who hears the roar of thousands cheering his name, yet when the dugout camera gets in his face, he says, "Hi mom."

The eleven-year-old girl who hears insults and name-calling from her peers today, yet walks the stage to receive an Oscar for Best Actress tomorrow didn't make the journey without a mom who was always her biggest fan and took time out of her busy schedule to attend her daughter's every play and theatrical performance. The actress begins a list of thank-you's to all the important people who made it possible. First on the list is the mom who worked two jobs to make her daughter's dreams come true.

Worthy of honor. Yes. Mom, you are worthy of honor. Search the Bible and you will find at least a dozen commands to honor, respect, and obey your mom. I find that especially significant in light of the fact that the societal and cultural times in which the Bible was written were heavily male-dominated. These were Patriarchial times with a capital P. Women simply were not honored in those days. Yet, God made it one of the Big Ten (no, not the athletic conference, the Ten Commandments). "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you" (Exodus 20:12).

Here is my dilemma. Mom went to heaven sixteen years ago. How do I honor her? Is there a statute of limitations on this command when our mother has gone to heaven ahead of us?

I think I have figured it out. It wasn't that hard. Whether your mom is alive on this planet or alive on God's porch, you can and should honor her by honoring and living up to the truths she taught you to live by. Make her proud whether she's numbered among the earthly crowd or gathered with the saints in the clouds.

I've done enough funerals for moms who were saints to see sons and daughters weeping uncontrollably over the casket because their lives didn't honor the truths their mom tried to instill in them. It's a sad thing. You want to honor your mom while she's still alive? Live so that when the day of her funeral comes, you will be crushed with grief over her loss, but not crushed with guilt over your life.

You want to honor her after she's gone? I do. So what do we do? Live so that when you get to heaven, she wants to hug your neck instead of grab you by the ear.

Thanks, Mom. I love you.
Perry Crisp
Yes...that's a picture of Mom, Me, and Dad circa 1979

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

This Way to Safety

A passenger plane failed to take off properly, crashed through the fences and barriers at the end of the runway, skidded along its belly a great distance before doing a nose dive into a nearby river late at night. The aircraft was half in and half out of the powerful river current. The craft remained intact, but the wings and tail section of the plane remained on land while the nose, cockpit, and business-class section floated on the river. Only the pilot and the co-pilot knew that the front half of the plane was on the river, but the pilot was dazed and nearly unconscious from the crash.

The co-pilot knew that the strong current made the exits at the front end of the plane too dangerous. Anyone exiting the plane in that river would drown in the darkness. The co-pilot acted quickly. The crash knocked all the power out. He could not call the flight attendants or calm the passengers with the PA system.

Knowing that the primary exits in a crash are near the cockpit and that the flight attendants might soon try to open the forward doors, he exited the cockpit, turned on his flashlight, and began directing everyone to the back of the aircraft. Flight attendants were located at the front and rear of the plane, and the ones at the rear could not hear the co-pilot over the voices of panic and creaking noises of the crumpled plane.

The co-pilot instructed the flight attendants at the front of the plane not to open the doors because the water would come flooding in and could possibly pull the entire plane into the river. He then pushed his way through the frightened passengers toward the rear of the plane, encouraging everyone to remain calm. Every few rows, the co-pilot instructed everyone that the only safe exit was at the rear of the craft.

This process took a great deal of time and the passengers were getting more and more anxious to get off the plane. Fear spread throughout the craft. Someone shouted, "What if the plane catches on fire with these fully-loaded fuel tanks?" Another shouted, "The front exit is the largest. Why aren't we exiting there?" Yet another said, "If we use all the exits, we can all get off of here quicker!"

By the time the co-pilot reached the flight attendants at the rear of the plane, chaos had ensued. People began panicking and pushing in both directions. Others argued with those who were panicking to listen to the co-pilot and do what he says.

The co-pilot opened the rear emergency door and began safely disembarking the passengers. He used his flashlight to guide the frightened passengers toward him while the flight attendants on the ground took them to a safe, open area away from any potential explosion. Emergency personnel from the nearby airport began to arrive on the scene.

Little did the co-pilot know what was happening at the front of the craft. A few of the passengers near the cockpit chose not to follow the co-pilot or heed his instructions. Instead, they unleashed their panic on the flight attendants guarding the large exit door, shoved them aside, and tugged on the exit handle to get the door opened.

Thankfully, the flow of the river forced the door to stay shut long enough for everyone else, including the injured pilot and the flight attendants to get safely off the plane. Multiple attempts were made to control the panicked passengers and lead them safely to the rear of the plane, but they continued pushing against the door that would lead to their death should they succeed in their mission.

Finally, the emergency personnel from airport security boarded the craft at the risk of their own lives and forcefully removed the remaining passengers. Once the passengers who had defied the co-pilot's plan of escape were on the ground, they looked back toward the front of the craft, saw the powerful river that would have swept them to their deaths, and hung their heads in shame. Not long after everyone was safely removed from the sight of the crash, the force of the river overpowered the nose of the plane and wrestled the front half of the craft to the river's bottom.

The co-pilot's quick action and knowledge of the situation saved the lives of every person on board.

But wait. What if this story was a parable? What if the crumpled aircraft was symbolic of the world, the co-pilot was Jesus, and the front and rear exits of the craft represented hell and heaven, respectively?

Apply today's logic of tolerance and the world's overbearing and distorted hatred of anything that remotely appears to be intolerance of other's religious views to this situation. If YOU were on that plane, would you accuse the co-pilot of being intolerant for insisting that there is only one way to safety? Would you call the emergency personnel who forced you off the plane a bunch of narrow-minded bigots?

As a Christian, I believe the Bible is the Word of God. As such, I believe it is truth, not opinion. When Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6), I believe Him. When Peter said, "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12), I believe him. When Paul wrote, "If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9), I believe it!

So, when I stand at the corner of sin and salvation and point people in the direction of Jesus alone and you think me intolerant, bigoted, and narrow-minded, your disdain is for with the wrong person. Your argument is really with Jesus, Peter, and Paul (all three were Jews, by the way...so don't think me anti-semitic, either).

What would you think of the co-pilot had he simply pushed his way through the passengers, shared his opinion that he thought maybe the back exit was the best, but then said, "Use whatever exit you think is best for you," and then left everyone in danger to figure it out for themselves?

Think for just a moment about the passengers who insisted on using the front exit. They were convinced they knew more than anyone else on board. They were determined to use the front exit, believing totally that it was a way to safety. It was only AFTER they were off the plane that they saw the error of their ways. Yet for them in this story, they were still safe. They just had to deal with their own shame and stubbornness that nearly cost them their lives.

But eternity is a different issue. You must decide to accept and follow Jesus before you disembark this physical world. You must live eternally with whatever decision you make now. Weigh your arguments carefully. Research truth honestly. This is no place to casually accept the fluff of pop culture. This is the biggest decision of your life.

This Way,
Perry Crisp

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Man Fishing

Jesus said, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." Seems simple enough. Followers of Jesus have been given a clear task: Go fishing to find others who will become followers of Jesus.

Oh my, how we have complicated that call! We have become species specialists, selectively fishing for certain fish. The Sunday morning boat ramps are filled with favoritism. The Bass Boat Baptists hit the boat ramp first. While they are content to leave the Crappie to the Charismatics and the Catfish to the Catholics, they are divided even among themselves over how to fish for bass, selective about which bass is worth catching, and suspicious about other fishermen who are more successful.

Some want to bed fish and yank those sinners right out of bed on Sunday morning. Others want to finesse fish and lure them in without them realizing they're caught until it's too late. Still others are looking only for "keeper fish." They go after the big fish. Oh, they don't mind catching an average fish, but they eventually toss it back and forget about it. Let them land a lunker and they'll parade that catch in front of everyone! It'll even make the "Baptist Mess-O-Fish-enger" paper. They are quite proud of their trophy fish.

It is dangerous to get the Bass Boat Baptists together for too long. It won't be long before they'll divide up amongst themselves arguing over everything from which bait is better to which species of bass is better. The topwater lovers will cluster and preach against the crank baiters. The largemouth crowd will speak derisively about the smallmouth. Before long, another new club will be formed.

To make matters worse, the Bass Boat Baptists won't share a boat ramp with Pontoon Presbyterians because they have more than fish in their coolers and the Canoeing Church of Christs won't even use the same boat ramp as any of the others because they don't believe in motors.

It is puzzling to observe such behavior. The call of Jesus seems simple enough. Yet, instead of fishing, much of our time is spent maintaining and polishing our boats, admiring our gear, bragging about last year's catch, fussing over favorite fishing holes, fuming at another boat because they took one of our fish, and taking classes on everything from better knot-tying to what color boat cover to use.

The craziest behavior of all takes place away from the water. In alarming numbers, fishermen sit cross-armed at the boat ramp or on the bank or in their driveways with their boats still on the trailer, wondering why the fish won't jump out of the water and flop toward them! It's as if they expect the fish to jump in their boats and baptize themselves in their livewells!

Jesus didn't call us to fish for men for the pleasure of fishing, but for the importance of the men. It's not about our pleasure. It's about His passion. We've made fishing for men too much about the act of fishing and not enough about the lost condition of man. Jesus doesn't care what your boat looks like or whether you use the same spinner bait as Peter. Jesus isn't judging you by how many fish you catch or how big they are. He just wants you to fish.

If we'll do the fishing, He'll do the catching.

Oh, and by the way, Jesus doesn't practice catch and release. Why should we?

Hooked on Jesus,
Perry Crisp

PS: The reason I am being harder on the Baptists than the others is because I are* one.
*(Intentional use of poor grammar)