April 7, 2018 (from two to four PM) is the date and time of my first ever book signing. The location is Lemuria Books in Jackson, MS. If you are in the area, I hope you can join me. I am looking forward to meeting lots of folks for the very first time.
I am incredibly excited about the release of “Still Wrestling! It has been an unbelievable journey and a labor of love. The official release date is still April 10–although books may ship a few days before that.
I am thoroughly grateful to those who have read this blog from the very beginning. I still plan to write here at what used to be called Desperately Wanting to Believe Again, at Wineskins, and the Clarion Ledger.
I also have a chapter in a book called Surrendering to Hope: Guidance for the Broken coming out in May. This was a project with authors
Not the least, I am working on a second book effort of my own. If anything, I am almost more excited about this one than anything I have done. But, it is a work in progress and who knows where it will end up.
In the meantime, newspapers are increasingly looking for a greater online presence–this link is to my latest offering at the Clarion-Ledger. I hope you will check it out, show some love and maybe even share it. The more clicks, the better!
Thanks again for being my friends and supporters!
I love you all!
Les Ferguson, Jr.
Madison/ Ridgeland, MS.
“Still Wrestling: Faith Renewed Through Brokeness” is available for pre-order on Amazon”
From my latest The Clarion-Ledger Column…
So, I had this car accident. It was quite traumatic. There was no blood or broken bones, but still, it was a bit frightening. But thankfully, I am ok. At least where that wreck was concerned. I was sixteen at the time, so it has been a few years ago since all that happened.
But if you want to talk about an ongoing wreck, I have that covered too. Over the last couple of months, I’ve struggled with stress and anxiety. Some of it has been self-inflicted; some of it just comes with the territory of being a husband, father, and preacher. In full vulnerability mode, I sort of feel like a ping-pong ball in a speed match between Olympic caliber players. How’s that for turning a phrase?
But it’s true. I am not even close to being a professional counselor, but I would be quick to tell you that feelings are subjective. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t feel them anyway. It doesn’t mean our feelings are somehow without power. Not in the least.
In my ping-pong ball persona, I often feel ineffective and powerless to change things. Consequently, there are times I allow circumstances, situations, and even people tosteal my joy and zest for living. But all that is another story we will get to in a moment.
In the meantime, I had a wreck. It wasn’t my first nor would it be my last. Full disclosure would tell you I had my first accident while Dad was teaching me to drive (you can laugh if you want to, but that mailbox was alive–I know it jumped in front of me). But the accident I am referring to was a two-vehicle sideswipe in a curve on a narrow gravel road. The other guy was in my lane, and while I had nowhere to go, he was able to maneuver a bit and ended up in the trees on the other side of the road. Now if I had the freedom to embellish the story, I’d tell you there was loud sounds of rendering metal—shrieks even born of torn steel. I’d tell you about the clouds of billowing smoke and the sounds of destroyed engines still ticking from the heat of their combustion. Fortunately, while I had a wreck, there is no need for any Hollywood special effects. The real fireworks happened in the aftermath.
Like I said, I was sixteen. Dad had been down this road (literally and figuratively) with me before. Accidents were not uncharted territory. But the other guy, a grown man, got a bit ugly and demeaning with unnecessary and untrue recriminations. He tried very hard to pass the whole thing off as my fault alone. He played to my dad’s experience as another older guy. He played to the fact that I was only sixteen and quite possible an idiot who had no idea what I was talking about. Hey. I was sixteen. Idiot was my first and middle name. But that’s beside the point. All these years later, I have no reason to lie, no new confession to make. I have nothing to, as my Dad would say, ‘fess up” about. This one time I was truly innocent and I think my Dad recognized it.
In the verbal confrontation that followed, I’ll never forget the moment Dad had had enough. With blazing eyes and steel in his voice, my father stood and said, “that’s it, we are done.” The other guy was rendered speechless by the way Dad ended it. So was I, and as we left, I was completely bumfuzzled (yes, that is a word. I ought to know, because I made it up). In what had to be a minor miracle, Dad grew at least two foot taller in an instant!
Although it was a long, long time ago, I’ll never forget the way Dad stood up for me that day. I wasn’t quite yet the prodigal son I would one day become, but Dad’s strength would serve me well more than once in my life.
Even now, my father is still here. Both of them. Yes, I claim two Father’s. Earthly dad; Heavenly Father. They are both such strong towers. Proverbs 18:10, The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are protected. I may never know this side of eternity how many times my heavenly Father looked the enemy in the eye and said, “that’s it, you are done.” How about that for a beautiful and compelling picture?
Yes, I am thankful for my father (and mom) who raised me and pointed me to God.
Unfortunately, life has seen fit to send some pretty bitter circumstances my way. I didn’t handle them all with the faith and assurance I should have. Chaos has in fact overwhelmed my life at several different key points. But the reality is, I have far more blessings than I deserve.
And then there is my wife, Becki, one of the greatest blessings I’ll ever know. In fact, following her constant advice to slow down and count my blessings tends to provide a bit of needed equilibrium.
So here I am, still standing. Sometimes battered and bruised, sometimes weaving on my feet. But, I am not alone in the chaos of life. I am not the first nor will I be the last to experience the ping pong ball effect of circumstances and situations outside my control.
If you find yourself there too, count your blessings and remember, God is a strong tower!
Les Ferguson, Jr.
Madison/ Ridgeland, MS
“Still Wrestling: Faith Renewed Through Brokeness” is available for pre-order on Amazon”
I ask that question quite frequently. If not that exact question, then one of a similar nature.
- Where’s my Hex wrenches?
- Where’s my new scraper?
- Who used my drill last and where did you leave it?
- Would somebody please tell me where they left or hid the TV remote?
Last night (as I write this on Wednesday morning), it was my favorite blue-handled framing hammer missing from action. Eventually, after looking for something else, I found it in the bottom of a basket full of electric tools (said tools which haven’t been used by me in months). It was like somebody took everything out and laid it in the very bottom before piling it all back in.
Have you ever heard of the mischievous sock elves (the ones responsible for the one missing sock of a pair in the basket of freshly laundered clothes)? At my house, we also have the if-it-belongs-to-the-Dad-let’s-use-his-stuff-and-leave-it-in-obscure-places elves.
Whether your experiences are like mine or not (please don’t further depress me by telling me I am alone on this), we all value our stuff. Sometimes it’s because we paid good money for the things we own and the value derives from that. Sometimes the value is found in what the stuff is used for. And sometimes, the value of our stuff is based on sentimental worth. In my closet (which is often not safe from the I-need-a-pair-of-dress-socks-or-a-plain-white-T-shirt elves), there are two footlockers full of my Cole’s treasures. Inside are toy cars, ball caps, stuffed animals, assorted balls, and other things of little monetary worth. But because they were his, they are my treasures now. Others might see junk, but those things are of immeasurable worth to me.
In the great scheme of life, nothing we own of a physical nature has any lasting or eternal value. On the other hand, how we view our stuff does. In the guise of keeping it real, stinginess comes easy for me. But since stingy is never pretty, I must work hard at not holding on so tightly to my stuff. What helps me is seeing my stuff as tools. I can use my tools to serve myself, or I can use my tools to serve God and others. Serving God and others helps me recognize the true source of my stuff.
How about you? Got stuff? Where is your treasure?
Don’t store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19–21 CSB17)
Writing, writing, writing… I am writing left and right it seems these days. And I love it! I am amazed to see myself where I am… Thank you for reading and sharing and encouraging! I am blessed and thankful!
The following is the second in a series of old bulletin articles…
I must be a horrible father because I cannot remember which boy. One of them, either Conner or Casey, was good at making faces on demand. They were quite funny. The happy face was sweet. But the grumpy and mad faces were hysterical because they served as miniature caricatures of how many adults look and act.
Honestly, I don’t know many people—adults especially—who haven’t perfected wearing the grumpy woe-is-me-the-world-is-ending kind of face.
Likewise, I have seen enough mad faces to know it doesn’t take any special skill to scare the socks off folks with a practiced, well-aimed glare.
And if I can be a bit meddlesome, some of us deserve an Academy Award except for one thing; we aren’t acting!
I teased Mickey in my article last week. I am not going to tease him this time. I have never seen his grumpy or mad face. I suspect he has one of each, but if you want to know more, you’ll have to check with Kay.
In the meantime, the Latin phrase Imago Dei means the image of God. When those words are used, it is meant to convey the same thing you read about last week.
Genesis 1: 26a, Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness….
We bear the image of God.
Now some question what that means. There are those who think its about knowledge and wisdom from God. Others see this as something we lost with the Fall of Man. Still more understand we were each created with a bit of the divine and therefore have inherent value, worth, and identity.
Imago Dei. Image bearer. It’s that last concept that really rings true for me. I have value. You have worth. A part of God is in each of us. We were made in His image. That ought to give rise to a happy face.
It ought to also make us pause when we treat badly someone whom God has made and infused with the precious gift of life.
What did Jesus say?
You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, Do not murder, and whoever murders will be subject to judgment. But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Whoever insults his brother or sister, will be subject to the court. Whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be subject to hellfire. (Matthew 5:21–22 CSB17)
Whose image does your face, words, and action resemble?
It’s worth considering again what it means to bear the image of God!
PS. Try to make a happy face right now. Try to keep it all day long. I triple dog dare you…
Here’s my latest book news…
So the full title/ subtitle is Still Wrestling: Faith Renewed through Brokenness.
I am told that work is under way on cover art. How cool is that?
I am excited. Life is absolutely crazy, but it’s a cool ride anyhow!
The link here is to my latest offering at The Clarion-Ledger.
May you be blessed!
I had a funny (as in Ha-Ha) conversation with my editor at Leafwood Publishers today that went like this: “Any news on a title? That would help me a lot—it gives me something to tell people. It is too weird telling folks ‘I have a book coming out next spring. No, I don’t know the name of it yet.’”
In perfect timing, she emailed me back with an answer this afternoon. Pardon the pun, but while we are still wrestling with the subtitle, I am fairly confident that the main title will be: “Still Wrestling!”
As far as I know, everything is percolating right along for a late spring/ early summer 2018 release.
I can hardly wait! This is worse than waiting for Christmas morning! Meanwhile, I continue to write for The Clarion-Ledger on a monthly basis. I am also at work on a second full book of my own. If I had to guess, I’d say it will serve quite well as a sequel to my first.
If you are in the area, we would love for you to come visit at the Lake Harbor Church of Christ where I minister and preach.
What follows is the modified first of a four-part series of bulletin articles I wrote earlier this year. I hope each will be of benefit…
You have four choices to choose from in answering this question:
Where was I?
- A Star Wars/ Star Trek/ Battle Star Galactica Convention
- An intergalactic Zoo
- The Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
- A point in time where transhumanism was in full evidence.
In the vein of a popular syndicated morning radio show, take C.
I had never in my life seen anything like it.
Anybody with eyes in their heads could have seen this country bumpkin come to town. What a rube I was! Did I mention I had never in my life seen anything like it? In every direction I turned, I saw a new sight stranger than the one before. I didn’t want to be rude, but I wanted to ask a lot of questions.
Or not. I was genuinely afraid of the answers.
So there I was, with my mouth, wide open and my faced scrunched up in a semi-permanent, “Wow, are these people real?”
Why yes, yes, they were.
Jim Morrison didn’t know the half of it. People are strange. Apparently, the Los Angeles airport is where strange comes to town.
Or a magnet. That’s a distinct possibility. I did see lots of metal stuck in the weirdest places.
Netflix’s production company missed out on a money saving/ money making opportunity. Instead of all the effort involved in the filming and special effects in Stranger Things, they could have set up a camera in the Los Angeles airport.
People are strange. There is no doubt about it.
Take my friend Mickey for instance. On second thought, my contract only allows me to tease Mickey while I’m preaching.
Take me for example. Or you, if you’re feeling a little bit charitable.
I love ketchup on my eggs and grits.
I have a child who eats ranch dressing on everything.
Those aren’t half the examples of strange things in my family. Need some more?
I have a brother who likes the University of Alabama. I don’t know how much weirder that can get.
And my own wife, yes even her, likes to work around the house on Saturdays. Work? Yes, work. She grew up in a strange family apparently.
But then there is you. Can you spell weird? The music you listen to, the shows you like, the things you expect–and from your preacher too.
Weird, strange, and sometimes hysterical. Yes, we are.
Because of our idiosyncrasies, most of us are in a constant need of mercy and grace. Unfortunately, instead of being deep reservoirs from which we share the same, we tend to be fixers. We try to fix everybody in every way that doesn’t line up with our own likes, understandings, and beliefs. And maybe some fixing is needed.
But whether it is mercy, grace or fixing you offer, it ought to all stem from one specific understanding.
Genesis 1: 26-27, Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female.
Image-bearer! Every human being bears the image of God. Even those of us who are strange.
Think about that the next time you want to be critical, overbearing, mean or ugly.
I am an image-bearer. So are you!
Les Ferguson, Jr.
Madison/ Ridgeland, MS
I know the face of evil. It is extraordinarily ugly; it looks just like us. The link I am sharing is about an evil that struck our community today. It is still reverberating and the aftershocks will go on for a lifetime… What follows after the link is my attempt to process and offer a small token of encouragement…
Today an unspeakable evil has raised its ugly head in our community. It’s not the first time. It will not be the last time.
One thing I have learned is this: none of us are too far removed from the pain and heartache of tragedy. The ability and inclination to harm others surprises us as it rises to take root in what we think are unlikely people. Evil reaches out and hurts even the most vulnerable among us.
My family has certainly experienced this. Others among us have as well. Still others will face some extraordinary ugliness in the future.
If there is another thing I know, it’s the white-hot rage that desires answers and retribution. The evil that has given birth to such deep pain and emotions can well spark an ugliness in our own hearts and actions.
At such a time, we would do well to heed the words of James: My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. (James 1:19-20 CSB17)
Can I confess? The thing that has struck our community today makes me extraordinarily angry. It makes me so very sad. It reminds me of my own tragedies. It draws out my own pain. It hurts to know that other families will now be forever changed by a moment of inexplicable horror.
However, as we contemplate the brokenness of our world, I am reminded of Paul’s words in Romans 16:19b-20, I want you to be wise about what is good, and yet innocent about what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. (CSB17)
Evil does not win. Evil does not have the last word.
But in the meantime, may the lament of David be our own—may we find comfort in God alone…
The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry for help. The face of the LORD is set against those who do what is evil, to remove all memory of them from the earth. The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, and rescues them from all their troubles. The LORD is near the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit. (Psalms 34:15–18 CSB17)
Rest in peace, Kingston Frazier.
May God bless his family.
May God bless us all.
Les Ferguson, Jr.
Not to us, LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory
because of your faithful love, because of your truth. (Psalm 115:1 CSB
Sometimes life goes in directions we have planned and provided for; other times it takes us places no one could have ever imagined.
One day we laugh; the next we cry.
One day we are surrounded by those we love; the next is lonely.
One day we are on top of the world; the next we are in a deep dark valley.
One day we are the champion of all we survey; the next we lose.
Sometimes it isn’t just a matter of a day or even a week. Often it is comprised of seasons–seasons of triumph, defeat, challenge, and grief.
From one season to the next, we ride the waves of opportunity; we struggle through the stormy seas. It is an amazing thing to live, especially live well among the good and bad this life has to offer.
Over the last four years, I have written about my struggles with grief, doubt, and faith. I have shared my desperation. I have written from a place of pain. I have shouted from a place of joy.
There will be more days of struggle in the future. That is the nature of life.
There will be more days of joy. That too is the nature of life.
The fact is, even in our pain, joy is possible if we look for it.
My life and the life of my family will forever be marked/ scarred by the events of October 10, 2011. However, that day will not define who we are, where we go, or what we do.
To the contrary, we choose hope.
We choose peace.
We choose joy.
We choose the God who gives them.
We choose life!
Somedays it will be easy; other days it won’t, but I choose life!
Speaking of life, I’d like to share something joyous from mine…
Last Tuesday (April 18th), I signed a very important document. I have been waiting and hoping for a long time to say these exact words: I am under contract with Leafwood Publishers!
What does that mean? My book is happening!
There is still work to do. There will be an editing and reshaping process. The name may even change. But, I expect to have copies in my hand late spring/ early summer of 2018.
Over the past several years, so many–God, Becki, family, friends, and church family– have walked with me through dark days and hard seasons. I am thankful for your encouragement and support.
We may yet face dimly lit days ahead, but the Son still shines!
Choose life ( you’ll be glad you did)! Never quit dreaming!