Abraham, The Father of Faith?

I don’t know if this is wise or not, but…

As I write, the new material for my book tends to become the next lesson I preach. Or vice versa.

At any rate, to keep up interest, I thought I’d share a snippet written ultimately I hope for publication…

Though I walk through the valley of darkness

I am not afraid

Cause I know I’m not alone

And if the wind blows east, would you follow me

And if the wind blows north, would ya stay your course

And if the wind blows west, would ya second guess

And if it blows to the south, would you count me out

And if the sun don’t shine, would you still be mine

And if the sky turns grey, would you walk away

Would you say I do, if I say I’ll be

And walk this road through life with me

You know I love youuuuuu

On this lonely road of faith

On this lonely road of faith

(Kid Rock)

It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God. It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed[a] that God would keep his promise. And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead—a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them… It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead. (Hebrews 11:8-12, 17-19 NLT)

Abraham.

The father of faith.

But what exactly is faith?

In my blog Desperately Wanting to Believe Again, some might have been tempted to think I wanted to learn how to believe in God again. That would be the wrong temptation to embrace. When I use the word believe I don’t mean acknowledge God’s existence. To the contrary, I believed then and believe now fervently.

What I have wrestled with is faith.

The belief and trust that God has my best interests at heart. That God really does care. That God loves me.

Like many of you, I know the scriptural definition of faith: Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1, NLT)

I believe that verse. And yet, it is problematic for me.

The first part I am extremely cool with. I have great confidence that God has given me salvation. I eagerly await the day when Jesus comes back to take us home. I didn’t say if, I said when.

But the second part of the verse in question? Faith gives us assurance about things we cannot see…

I said it was problematic. That’s really understating the case.

I have found it hugely hard to believe God really wants the best for me. I have struggled significantly with the idea God was protecting me or taking care of my family.

Even now, when I see His providence, I still wonder about the past. I still question where we are going.

Whether I wanted it or not, I long ago left my home for a far country. I once wrote on my blog that I mourned the loss of me. If we had experienced only a double murder, that would be massively bad enough. But the loss of wife and son, mother and brother, brought on more changes than we could have ever imagined.

Yes, I have mourned the loss of me.

The connections, the location, the friends, the life once had… It all went away. And faster than you might believe.

I am also appreciative of the faith of Abraham.

God said go and he did.

And for whatever reason, we don’t quite get the questions he might have had. The worries. The fears. And even the loss that came with leaving one life and embarking on another.

Abraham, the Father of faith is presented as a man who unquestioningly trusted God.

It’s a beautiful picture even if it is not quite true.

Before you level a charge of heresy or sacrilege, try to remember some stories from his life of faith. It wasn’t an all cheerful Forest Gump life is a box of chocolates existence.

There were struggles. There were hard times. There was disbelief. There was uncertainty. Remember Sarai? Was she wife or sister? And what about the promise of having a son? Sarai laughed. They played pregnancy games. Poor Ishmael was nothing more than a faithless attempt to make God’s word true.

And then there was the whole deal of sacrificing Isaac. Do you really think Abraham made the trip up the mountain with a light heart unburdened by questions, worries, fears, and doubts?

But if none of this is enough to help you see Abraham as man for whom faith wasn’t always easy, then let me remind you of Sodom and Gomorra. Remember when God was going to destroy those two wicked cities? And Abraham was cheering God on? Right? Except, there was no cheering. Instead there were questions, doubts, fears and disbelief.

Remember what Abraham asked the Lord? What if there fifty righteous people living there in the city? Should not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?

I don’t know about you, but I hear the questions of Abraham’s heart. I see a man of faith who was also a man unafraid to say to the God of the universe, hey, wait a minute. I am not sure about all of this. I see how things aren’t working the way I imagined. Sometimes it doesn’t look like you have my best interests at heart. And yet, I believe even as I doubt.

In a book about zombies and survivors at the end of life as we know it, the author gives vibrancy to an ex-catholic priest turned warrior with these words that resonate still: Faith isn’t the absence of doubt, it’s the decision to believe in something contrary to what you observe. (The Remaining: Refugees, D.J. Molles)

And like the man once told Jesus, I believe; help me with my unbelief.

Relentless

Destin, FLorida is beautiful. We have enjoyed our stay, but the trip home is fast approaching.

Vacations can be fun, should be fun, but I often find it hard to really relax. I am normally a fairly driven person (ok, so maybe intense is more accurate). And it seems like there is always something that I could be doing to get a leg up on the competition–to make a sale, get a listing, new marketing, etc. it is hard for me to let it all go for even short periods of time.

To say I have huge security issues is quite the understatement. I am not all gloom and doom, but I am afraid far too much of the time.

Whether it be fear, worry, grief, or pain, life can often be like the waves pounding the seashore.

Relentless.
And sometimes the waves come in so fast you can hardly catch your breath.

I try hard to believe God has good things in store for me. I try hard to trust life will not always be difficult. I try hard to hold on to the hope that one day pain will not be quite so intense.

In so very many ways, I can see what I just wrote as being my reality.
I have a loving and compassionate wife. We have children that are amazingly good kids. And thus far, nobody has ever gone hungry or without. Crippling pain and grief still rears its ugly head from time to time, but not nearly as much as it has in the past.

This vacation as been a little bit of a chance to catch our collective breaths. To get ready for the waves to come again…

I don’t know what God is always up to. I try to trust Him even though it is very hard for me to do at times.

Long ago I learned a saying that may be familiar to you…

God is good all the time.
All the time God is good.

I want to believe that.
Do you?

Show Me The Way–Another Throwback Post

Thanks to a friend, we are chilling out, regrouping, relaxing, and recreating in Destin, FL. I came here with the intention of trying to write, but the beach and water call my name.

There is something restorative about the ocean… The never ending waves roll in and with them the certainty that life goes on.

I worry about the future. I stress constantly over being able to support my family. I wrestle with doubt. I strive with fear. I struggle with self-confidence… And still, life goes on.

Patience is not my strong suit. I want a voice from heaven that says everything is going to be alright. Bills will get paid. Opportunities are coming.

Yes, as I once said before, I am a mess. Certifiable.

In the meantime, I found another old post from my old life and old blog. Amazingly enough, it is so appropriate for where I am today. In the next day or so I hope to share something new. In the meantime. Check out my new endorsement and enjoy…

Every night I say a prayer in the hope that there’s a heaven
And every day I’m more confused as the saints turn into sinners
All the heroes and legends I knew as a child have fallen to idols of clay
And I feel this empty place inside so afraid that I’ve lost my faith

Show me the way, show me the way
Take me tonight to the river
And wash my illusions away
Show me the way

And as I slowly drift to sleep, for a moment dreams are sacred
I close my eyes and know there’s peace in a world so filled with hatred
That I wake up each morning and turn on the news to find we’ve so far to go
And I keep on hoping for a sign, so afraid that I just won’t know

Show me the way, Show me the way
Take me tonight to the mountain
And wash my confusion away

And if I see a light, should I believe
Tell me how will I know

Show me the way, show me the way
Take me tonight to the river
And wash my illusions away
Show me the way, show me the way
Give me the strength and the courage
To believe that I’ll get there someday
Show me the way

Every night I say a prayer
In the hope that there’s a heaven… (Dennis DeYoung)

I vacillate in the type of music I listen to. Some days it’s more about good classic rock. The kind of music I grew up with. The kind that has been belted out of my lungs from the first day I ever got behind the wheel. I love rock and roll. Put another dime in the jukebox baby.

Some folks might read this and laugh at the idea of a dime jukebox. Others are probably looking at this and trying to remember if they have ever seen an old jukebox in an old movie.

Isn’t that a hoot?

But I digress.

My other favorite is contemporary Christian, preferably the hard charging kind that is reminiscent of secular rock but with lyrics that reflect Christian values and/or praise God.

And from day to day and sometimes within the same day, I go from one to the other.

Imagine my surprise and delight when I connected with an old rock song from a group that is still around in one form or another a song with a decidedly spiritual touch. A plea even to see and know and understand that there is something out there that is better than the values of this world.

Enter Dennis DeYoung and Styx.

Show me the way.

Indeed.

I don’t know how I missed the import of the lyrics for all of these twenty-seven plus years that I have been singing along to this song. But I did, that is, until last week.

Show me the way. That might very well be the anthem cry of generations of young people, middle aged people, and old people.

Show me the way.

Politicians fail us.

Sports figures fail us. (Did Kenny Rogers really have pine tar on his hand?)

Teachers and principals and business leaders and religious leaders fail us.

Even our own flesh and blood can fail us in grievous ways.

Is it any wonder then that the world, at least those who are not so far gone in self-absorption, is looking for something better? And in particular, someone to show them the way?

That’s where you and I come in.

Christians.

Beacons of light.

The people who can show the way, if we only will.

Matthew 5:14-16, (NIV) You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Show me the way, show me the way
Take me tonight to the river
And wash my illusions away
Show me the way, show me the way
Give me the strength and the courage
To believe that I’ll get there someday
Show me the way

Every night I say a prayer
In the hope that there’s a heaven…

When Your Name Is Job

Seriously.

That’s not my birth name.

It’s not my nickname.

It’s not some weird family term of endearment.

In fact, if there is a biblical name I hate more than any… If there is a biblical story I despise more than any other, it is the name and story of Job.

I don’t want to hear how I am a modern day version of Job. It makes me sick. It makes me angry. It gives me questions for which I am still impatiently demanding answers.

I read Job’s story and find it utterly horrific that God would allow, much less encourage the kind of faith testing Job endured.

But as hard as it might be to wrap our minds around it, since the day mankind choose sin and self over righteousness and God, Satan has owned the power and authority to wreak havoc in our lives.

Satan did it in Job’s life.
Satan did it in mine.
And maybe not to the extreme others have had to face, Satan is still doing his best to wreak havoc in all of our lives. Mine and yours included.

It’s bad enough when it comes through the destruction of tragedy… it’s more than bad enough when it comes at the hands of wicked evil men.

But the truth is, it happens more often as a result of our own personal choices and decisions.

For every person whose family is murdered, destroyed–whose life/lives are damaged beyond comprehension, there are thousands and thousands–untold numbers–who face destruction, heartache, and grief as a result of their own making, be it poor choices or systemic failure.

There are people all around us who look to be successful, even “faithful” church folk. There are good friends and family whom we know and love… and they are hurting, struggling, dying on the inside.

And they are often ashamed.
Ashamed of their own weaknesses.
Ashamed of their own doubt.
Ashamed of their own lack of faith, belief, and trust.

I know this to be a fact.
I know it because I am one of them.

Regardless of how we got here, we are here. And we are most likely not going away.

So the question for the church is this: what are you going to do with us? My experience is that the church can do just as much damage, cause just as much pain. Platitudes will not fix us. Neither will hoping we go away. And expecting us to fix what is broken ourselves may be a lost cause.

Yeah…

When you are dealing with broken people, it doesn’t really matter how they became broken, does it?

It shouldn’t but it often does. Sometimes we see the nastiness of broken lives and because they did it to themselves, we try to extract our pound of flesh–to add some more punishment.

Really? Isn’t that what God would have us do?

No.

In case you didn’t catch that, no.

If you are stubborn like me, we’ll say it again, no!

Everybody who has received mercy, who has been given grace, should be a conduit of the very same.

Really.

Besides, turn about is fair play and one day it might just be you caught in a bad place…

I once preached for a church where those in leadership refused to allow a baby shower for any unwed mother. The one place where this broken life should find help, hope, understanding, and forgiveness became a place that piled on even more shame.

If you or your church wants to be a beacon of hope for the lost and weary, you could honestly begin and maybe do your very best work right there in your own family…

You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

You save more lives with love than condemnation.

Thank you for helping save mine.

Les Ferguson, Jr.

Another Throwback Post: Authentic Religion

If you just decide not to read some of these old posts of late, I’m not gonna moan and cry.

I am writing and working–trying to be ready for speaking three times this weekend. I promise to share some fresh stuff in the weeks ahead.

Promise.

In the meantime, we will blow past 84,000 views in the next few hours it appears. That’s hard for me to imagine. I am thankful for the voice your reading is giving me.

Enjoy, comment, and share if you can… 

It is somewhat amazing to think of the things we do in the name of religion. Worse, is the way we often describe it.

So many in our culture are looking for an authentic religious experience. Unfortunately, so many also define religious authenticity as a worship experience that moves them in some emotional way.

Don’t get me wrong. I crave those times of worship. I need our worship leader (who is simply wonderful) to help us enter the throne room of God in a passionate, emotional way. As mystical as it might sound to some who are more logical and rote in their approach to worship, I want to be moved by the songs we sing, the prayers we pray, and the word we preach.

And, I am not so naive as to think that my frame of mind, attitude, and effort isn’t important to the whole process. But when you crave intimacy through worship, you can find it if your heart is right no matter the songs we sing or the leader who leads.

But what gets me and I know I sound like a broken record to some is how much of our religion is defined by what we do in a worship assembly. It’s the “go to church” mentality.

And frankly, I am quite weary with the kind of Christianity that sees its sum total as taking place on Sunday morning. I wouldn’t miss worshiping with my family for anything, but if that is all there was to it, Christianity is shallow at best and worst, empty of anything that really matters.

Authentic religion is best described by James the brother of Jesus who says, If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted in the world. (James 1:26-27 NIV)

Sometimes I wish we didn’t have a single church building to our name. Again, don’t get me wrong. Church buildings can be one of the most valuable tools we own. I pray that every church building be utilized to its fullest from soup kitchens to after school play times to whatever gets us involved in the lives of those who live in our vicinity.

Authentic religion is living out our beliefs in God-honoring, life-changing ways. It is changing how we think, speak, and act. It means looking after the needs of those who may be unable to help themselves. It means going to places and being with people we might never associate with in a normal and sane world. It is all about knowing whom we belong to and living accordingly.

The reality is that authentic religion, authentic Christianity is not played out in pristine, sterile settings! An Australian, John Smith, once wrote, If I remember correctly, it was a clergyman of some distinction who said long ago that we must rediscover the fact in the church that Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves, on a town garbage heap that was so cosmopolitan they had to list his name in several languages, in a place where men talked smut and where soldiers gambled for the only thing he possessed. That’s what Jesus was about and that’s what the church ought to be about.

So where does Sunday morning worship fit into authentic religion? It is the time where we renew and revive our connection to the Father and to each other–it is the time when we encourage and are encouraged to live like Jesus, to love like the Lord, and to care like the Good Shepherd!

If you want an authentic Christian life, then be in worship this Sunday. Magnify the name of the Lord. And then take Him into the highways and byways of the life you have been given!

Les Ferguson, Jr.

July 5, 2006

Braying Away!

I have been sick for a couple of days. Today I went to the doc and got a shot for an upper respiratory infection. I refuse to be sick this coming weekend because I am speaking three times in Ash Flat, Ar.

I don’t know if it is wise or not, but what I am writing for a book is the theme/ substance of the lessons I have been developing.

Can you tell I am excited? I am.

I added a new speaking engagement to my speaking page. Thanks again, Meadowbrook!

In the meantime, I thought I’d share a couple of different posts from my old blog A Wayfarer’s Trek.

Here’s one originally titled To Be or Not To Be… A Donkey!

Personality tests.

Maybe you have seen them from time to time.

I took one that said my type was a social director. But I don’t have a social life, so who are they kidding?

Another style of personality tests compares people to four specific animals: the lion, the beaver, the otter, and the dog (golden retriever).

Surely I would be a lion? No such luck. I am an otter. At least I am not a dog. No comments allowed from the peanut gallery-at least about that!

And since we are doing comparisons here, what kind of an animal would we want to be representative of our church?

My first inclination would be a lion. I want to be a part of a church that is strong and bold and courageous and powerful.

Sounds good until you think about it a little differently. Jesus is already the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. His roar has already vanquished sin and death. His boldness and strength is what we should depend on, not our own.

So what animal should we be?

How about a donkey?

Please put politics aside for the moment. Please repress any desire to make a joke or any other allusions to what being a donkey might mean… it’s really important for the life of our church to get this point.

Did I say important? How about extremely vital?

This past Sunday was the grand opening of our new building/ location. It was a great day. 261 were in attendance. We had lots of visitors-some of whom I feel confident will one day call our church family their own. But last Sunday was not the end of a process–no, not the end by an imagination. Instead, it was the stepping off point to new opportunities, new dreams, new visions, and even new struggles and faith challenges. We cannot rest on our laurels when the Lion of the Tribe of Judah is waiting to lead us forward.

And that brings us to the idea of using a donkey to describe us.

I read a recent article by Rick Rusaw that was adapted from the book The Externally-Focused Church. Take a close look at what he says…

Riding a donkey, Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. The crowds cheered and shouted praises to Him. They lopped off palm fronds and laid them on the ground for the donkey to walk on. When they ran out of palm branches, they gladly laid their own cloaks on the ground and, walking ahead of Jesus and the donkey, shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9). For a moment, the donkey perhaps thought it was all about him; after all, he was doing all the work that morning. But it wasn’t about him. It had nothing to do with him. He was simply carrying the Message.

 The externally focused church is a “good donkey” that takes Jesus into places where He hasn’t always been welcome. The serving church is just the method. It’s still all about Jesus.

 Any changes you see in what we do or how we do it are not changes for change sake.

You see, like the donkey, it’s not about me. Nor is it about you.

 It is, however, about Jesus. It is about the lost. It is about the community around us.

Never in a million years would I have imagined myself saying this. And like I mentioned earlier, I hope you will restrain yourself from making jokes because I am deadly serious. I pray that you will be also. I want to be a donkey. I want to be a good donkey. I want our church to have the stubborn tenacious strength of a donkey-a donkey whose purpose, who’s sole reason for existence is to carry the message of Jesus into hearts and lives where it has not always been welcomed. If it means being different or looking different for the sake of the gospel, then so be it.

One final thought, take a look at what I call my personal ministry mission statement. It works well for preachers. It works well for churches determined to be a good donkey…

1 Corinthians 9:19-23,

Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

….I hope this new ministry allows me to be a good donkey to those who are hurting, doubting, questioning, angry, and fearful…

Les Ferguson

Dying…

I remember writing the article below. I don’t know if it was for my old blog or if it was a bulletin article… Or at some point, both.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German theologian famous for his stand against Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party. His beliefs and convictions ultimately cost him his life in a Nazi concentration camp.

While we might differ with him on a number of theological issues, he does have some interesting things to say about God and the role of the church today. One particular quote that has been ascribed to him is enough to give one significant pause:

“When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.”

Mr. Bonhoeffer managed to encapsulate Romans 6 in a very concise way. The call of Jesus Christ has never been to join a religion. The plea has never been to accept a certain package of beliefs and espouse them. The message has never been about the lack of passion or the rote ceremony that has often characterized mankind’s approach to God.

When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. It’s not about changing an area or two of our lives. Instead, it’s all about death and dying. No amount of fixing and repairing can ever restore men. We are beyond fixing.

I think that’s what makes this so hard for us to accept. We are fixers and if it’s broke, we want to fix it. We want to change it. We want to do what we can do to solve the problem. But it has never been about our own ability or desire. However, it is about God killing the old man and bringing a brand new one back to life.

Take the time to read Romans 6:1-7.

1What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

5If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin-7because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

It is one thing to submit to the imagery of baptism, to accept the teaching of scripture, to be immersed in water and to immerse our individual lives in the life of the church. Yes, it is one thing to do those things and yet quite another to truly submit ourselves to the death that Jesus offers: the killing of the old and the raising of the new.

Too often, we want the blessings of rebirth without all of the consequences of dying. We want the privilege of relationship without the sacrificing of the things that hinder relationship between men and God. We want the comfort and security of “church” without ever really accepting and paying the real price we must pay.

When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. Can you and the world see a clear indication of your death by the priorities you choose, by the friends you keep, by the values you profess, by the life you live? Have you really died yet?

I have preached and taught the New Testament concept of dying to sin, dying to self, and the rebirth of being immersed into Christ. I still believe that.

I just never quite got it like I do now. Dying is a hard business, especially when we keep resurrecting that which has supposedly died.

What I am learning is simple if not revolutionary: dying is a continual process. Just because I died to something yesterday doesn’t mean I won’t die to it or something entirely different tomorrow.

My relationship with God has been shaken to its foundation. And then some. But, religiously, relationally, I am beginning to experience a new kind of freedom.

While I still desperately want to believe (trust), I am grateful for the opportunities before me…

Les Ferguson, Jr.

Giving God A Second Chance?

I love second chances, do overs, and mulligans.

Well, maybe not mulligans. I don’t play golf anymore. Turns out, when I play golf there are not enough mulligans to go around. And besides, golf is boring to me.

I know, I know. Somebody is not going to like me disparaging golf. But I am really not. I wish I could like it. After all, nobody rocks a sweater vest like me!

Second chances and do overs.

Every time we look at those we love and say I am sorry, we are acknowledging wrong and hoping for a second chance, a do over to get it right.

I love second chances and do overs.

Turns out, I find myself often in need of that opportunity.

One of the things that is so hard about death is the loss of second chances. Losing a wife and son was hard. Even harder was grappling with the mistakes of the past–learning to live with the guilt of never being able to say I am sorry and finding a way to make amends, to make it right.

Not that I was a bad husband or father. But, being fully human, there were ample opportunities for bad attitudes, bad days, and the tendency to be less than kind and gracious to those you love.

Like I said, I am thankful for second chances. Being married again (thank you, Becki for sharing my life) has allowed me to really self-evaluate. And that has lead to not making as many or the same kinds of mistakes that salted and peppered my past.

The same tendencies are still there, but because I don’t want to make those mistakes again, I try extra hard to be more self-aware.

The same goes with my children. I don’t want to ever be in the position of wanting to say to my child, I am sorry and be unable to do so.

I love second chances. I love the ability to do some things over–and better than I did them before.

I love the fact that God is a God of second chances. Jesus is a certain indicator of His willingness to give us do over after do over. Humanity obviously needs an unlimited supply of mercy and grace.

And at the very real risk of sounding presumptuous, blasphemous, or disrespectful, I am also glad God is a God worthy of second chances…

Scratching your head at that one? That’s ok, I don’t mind explaining.

You see, for many of us (and probably you too sooner or later), God is also the God of disappointment.
Of shattered lives.
Of questions without answers.
Of prayers unheard.
Of hope destroyed.
Of inflicted pain unimaginable.

Somebody out there is going to argue with me about this. And that’s alright. But sooner or later, they will eventually run headlong into the God who disappoints.

Yeah.
There it is.

I am thankful God is a God of second chances. Even in your pain. Even in your rage. Even in your greatest moments of doubt, God is still hanging in there, waiting for the time to help you see, grasp, and understand His love and blessing again.

Even when you don’t understand or can’t possibly understand, God is patiently waiting for the second chance to help you know his peace. His mercy. His grace.

I am glad God is worthy of a second chance.

What say you?

Les Ferguson, Jr.

Huge Sucking Chest Wound

It’s really strange the things that catch me off guard and start the waterworks.

This past Saturday I was trying to find something in one of my dresser drawers that is a catch all. There is a lot of stuff in the drawer.

  • Hunting knife
  • Hunting gloves
  • Toboggan hat
  • Checkbook refills
  • Navy Medals/ Ribbons

You name it, I find it, and invariably, if it is somehow important to me, it gets stuck in that particular drawer… or it’s twin brother.

Yes, I have two of them.

At any rate, while searching for something I needed, I accidentally dropped/ dumped the entire drawer on the brick floor.

Casey rushed in to help me, and as he began to pick up stuff, he found a couple of pictures of Cole he had never seen before.

I don’t know for sure what set me off.

Maybe it was the strange look on Casey’s face and the questions I heard forming in his head…

Or, maybe it was the fact those specific pictures are stuck away because it just about kills me every time I see them…

Poor Casey. He’s standing there holding here before unseen pictures in his hand, and me? I am having a complete meltdown on the hard brick bedroom floor.

I am so grateful for good days and positive directions. I am thankful for old and new friends alike–for your encouragement, understanding (even when you haven’t a clue), and support.

But at the risk of using unpreacher-like language, sometimes there is nothing good that can be said… sometimes, life just sucks.

Years ago in the Navy, I went through rudimentary first aid. I remember learning about different ways to seal up or contain a sucking chest wound. Maybe they have fancier language for that these days, but I know what that means. I suspect you do too. If not, then google it here.

Turns out I am all too familiar with a huge sucking chest wound. Mine comes from having my heart periodically ripped out of my body. Grief does that. and sometimes when you least suspect it.

Days like Saturday are hard.

And they suck.

Big time.

Thanks for reading. God bless!

In the meantime, if you want to listen to my sermon at Meadowbrook from a couple of Sunday’s ago, you can do so here: Meadowbrook sermon–the trickster.

Les Ferguson, Jr.

The Bad Day Cycle

Good days.
Bad days.

Bad days.
Good days.

The bad days are inevitable. They will come. For one reason or another, logical or illogical, people happen. Circumstances happen. Life happens.

Sometimes it is just uncomfortable.
Sometimes it just, well, blows. Sucks even. And all you can do is just try to hang on.

Knowing that doesn’t always make it any easier. There certainly is little comfort to be drawn from the knowledge that bad days happen.

To everybody.
Rich or poor.
Wealthy or wise.
Feel free to plug in any descriptive words of your own choosing…

Yes, bad days are inevitable.

But, at this stage of my life, as we move forward–sometimes gracefully, sometimes clumsily, I am grateful to say good days are inevitable as well.

If you are stuck in what seems like, feels like an ever spiraling out of control endless number of bad days, don’t expect me to try and act like you are imagining it.

Once in the US Navy, a medical guy did an unmentionable procedure to my body… And just beforehand, he told me it didn’t really hurt. But if it did, it was because I imagined it. I asked him if I could punch him in the face–and if it hurt, it was just because he was imagining it.

He didn’t like that deal. And for some reason, he seemed to have a better attitude acknowledging my pain…

If you are hurting over a never ending supply of bad days, I get it. And feel your pain. No sugar-coating it from me.

Bad days hurt.
Bad days can sap all your energy and ruin your outlook on life.

But if you hang on long enough, good days are inevitable too.

Today?

Today has been a bad day.

For lots of reasons.
Some are the ripple effects of our tragedy.
Some are simply from living.
And some are the results of my own internal struggles.

Thankfully, I refuse to succumb to the bad days.
I may hurt.
I may agonize.
I may be frustrated out of my ever loving mind… (Today I have been!)

But I choose today to get through the day. To start over again in the morning.

As long we live, we can choose that option.

I, for one, am glad…

Good days are coming again. Count on it!

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming…

Les Ferguson, Jr.