Monday, February 22, 2010

Do You Yell 'Fore' or 'Four' After Whacking a Golf Ball?

For the past few months, I have seen quite a bit of golf...from my windshield. We have been house-sitting for some dear friends who are on an extended mission to Kenya and their beautiful home is located next to a golf course.

I'm not a golfer, but I drive by them every day. I don't have anything against golf or golfers. I just don't want to wear the plaid shorts and can't afford the toys involved with both fishing and golfing. So, I choose to fish and gladly encourage other fishermen to take up golf.

As an outsider to the golfing community, I feel compelled to share a few thoughts with members of the golfing community. I like the idea of golf. It seems like it would be kinda fun to whack a ball and try to get it in the hole. But it's the golf culture that keeps me off the golf course.

In an attempt to take golf seriously, many golfers buy the latest sticks, the best golf balls, the coolest golf carts, and all the trimmings of golf wear (designed by Rodney Dangerfield, I assume). They watch the golf channel, read the golf magazines, get golf haircuts, and fly their expensive sticks all over the country to play on the best courses. They have it all!

I need to be honest, though. I have picked up on a distinct aura that eeks from ambitious golfers. They wear it like cologne. They parade it like a fashion model. Honestly, it looks quite silly to a non-golfer. They look so stoic and serious as I drive by them. Very few of them wave. It wouldn't be proper, I guess. There must have been an article about that in the magazine. Or perhaps, they can tell I'm stifling a giggle as I see how serious they are about the culture of golf. Most of them lean on the sticks or sit in the carts and talk to other golfers. I assume they are talking about golf.

It's not like basketball at all. No sweating. No jumping. No running. No clock. Unlimited time-outs. Did I mention plaid?

The road from the golf course to the highway is a dangerous one. Before the sun rises, the golfers are tearing down the road. Like a dinner reservation with Jack Nicholas, they cannot and will not be late for their tee time. They are in a hurry to leave the 8-cylinder SUV so they can scoot quietly along in a cart filled with batteries under their bottoms. From my windshield, I can see through theirs. The aura penetrates glass. The same magazine article forbids windshield waving, too.

Why am I picking on golfers? Besides the fact that I'm having an awful lot of fun with it, there is a point. What do Christians and church goers look like to non-Christians and non-church goers? Do we look like golfers to non-golfers? I've given you an outsider's thoughts into the golf culture which most golfers would scoff at. Nor would they care what a non-golfer thought about their culture! The golf culture exists for and within the golf community.

The church, however, should be different. The church exists for those inside and outside the Christian community. Shouldn't we care about how the unchurched and unsaved see us? Shouldn't we wave? Shouldn't we create an inviting spirit of friendliness and avoid running over them on our way to church?

Most people like the idea of a God who loves them and a Savior who died for them. They really do. But, oh, those Christians! Smug. Scowling. Pew-protecting. Do we really want to know how many of them balk at turning their blinker on at our places of worship because of US?

Newsflash, Christian friends. They don't have to be like us to worship with us. The only aura that a church ought to have is when we ask each other, "How aura you, my brother/sister?" Instead of an aura, there ought to be a tangible residue of love, acceptance, forgiveness, and compassion. We're not a country club. We're a hospital. A haven. A home. For everyone.

Waving Through Stained-Glass Windshields,
Perry Crisp

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Postponing the Amen

Nearly three-year-old Bethany climbed into her grandparent's bed to spend the night. Bethany's grandmother said, "We need to say our prayers." Little did she know what was on Bethany's prayer list. Grandmother and granddaughter bowed their heads and had a precious prayer time together. Grandmother said, "Amen" with enthusiasm, expecting granddaughter to follow suit. She didn't.

Instead, Bethany said, "We aren't done yet." So her grandmother prayed some more and said "Amen" again. Bethany repeated her first evaluation of the prayer and said, "We aren't done yet." Grandmothers never get tired of praying, but after this scenario repeated itself multiple times, Bethany's grandmother was scrambling to find something or someone else to pray for.

Finally, Bethany was satisfied enough to join her Grandmother's benediction and the "Amen" stuck.

Until Papaw came to bed.

The prayer meeting began all over again. Papaw prayed a good, hearty "Papaw prayer" and ended with a hefty, "Amen." He didn't know what Grandmaw knew. They weren't done yet.

Before the covers ever settled in a good night's sleep, every human, cow, horse, dog, crab and guinea pig on Bethany's heart was covered in prayer.

God speaks through tiny voices. Bethany's message is loud and clear. No matter how much praying we do, we aren't done yet.

"So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend" (Exodus 33:11). That's what prayer is. A two-party conversation between friends. A conversation that should never end.

Crisp but Not Done,
Perry Crisp

Monday, February 1, 2010

My Posthumous Piece

Huckleberry Finn faked his own death in hopes of finding a life of freedom. Thus, the famous quote from Samuel Clemens' pen, "The rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated."

The rumors of MY demise are completely accurate. Write the obituary. Perry is dead. Like Huck Finn, I had to die to truly live. Huck was a slave to a mean, drunk father. I was a slave to sin. Huck faked his death. I haven't faked anything. I just up and died.

In fact, being a fake is one of the reasons I died. I saw God's righteous demands and knew I couldn't live up to them. "For the Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness" (Psalm 11:7). "As He who called you is holy (perfect), you also be holy in all your conduct" (1st Peter 1:15).

Isaiah let me know that my righteousness "is like filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6). Actually, my righteousness was worse than that. It was more like filthy beach towels. Filthy drapes. Filthy parachutes.

I didn't stand a chance. So, I did the only thing I could do. I died. I'm not alone. Paul, who was chief of sinners until I came along, wrote, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).

I'm no longer who I once was. I died to me. Dying is not an easy process. My old corpse still wants to call the shots, so it is a daily thing. I die daily.

If you understand this about me, then it will help you understand why I preach what I preach. When I preach the righteous demands of God, it isn't because I have lived up to them. It is because I have died to myself and my efforts so that I can allow Jesus, the perfect Son of God who lives in me, to live up to them through me.

I don't have to be holier than thou. I have to be holier than me. I have to be holier than I can be. How is such a thing accomplished?

I empty me of me. I refill me with Him.

I am killed, then filled.

I'm sure this sounds strange to many. It sounds strange to me! But I know of no other way to honestly say what I know is true. Search it out. Read Jesus. It's all there. Jesus spoke of the necessity of the seed falling into the ground, dying, and being buried before it can bear fruit.

When I am terminated, He is germinated.

It is a doubly vicarious relationship that Jesus and I share. He died FOR me so that He could live IN me. I die TO me so that He can live THROUGH me.

I guess what I'm saying is...

Don't die trying. Try dying.

posthumously written by perry crisp...may he rest in the Prince of Peace.