The Power Of A Villain Story–By Tyler Jarvis

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One of the things I like the most about the Bible is that it doesn’t pull any punches. I mean, there are lots of guys who are generally “good” guys but who do really crappy things. Generally, when you read a story, the main character is presented in the most likable light possible.

Not in the Bible. Or at least, not always.

In the Bible, you hear about guys like David, who was famously described as a man after God’s own heart, but who also impregnated a woman who was married to another guy, and then carried out a plan to kill the woman’s husband so he wouldn’t be caught.

In the Bible, you hear about guys like Samson, who served as a Judge of Israel and was supposed to rescue the Israelites from the Philistines, but he actually just winds up breaking all the vows he made to God, and even when he does kill a few Philistines, it’s too little too late, and he dies without having done what he was called to do.

In the Bible, you hear about guys like Peter who was the rock on which the Church was built, but who was portrayed as incredibly dim-witted all throughout the Gospels. And even after the resurrection, when Peter is supposed to be super awesome all the time, Paul still has to get onto Peter for being a racist.

I think it’s important that these stories are included in the Bible, because the writers understood the importance of a villain story. It’s important to have stories about people who screw things up. It’s important to tell the stories of the guys who weren’t always good at following God.

Because really, that’s our story. I can relate to guy who does good and bad things. I’m familiar with seeking after God’s heart, but also trying to make myself look good. I know what it’s like to know what God has called me too, and to ignore it because there were other, better things to do. I know how it is to want to follow Christ, but to make stupid mistakes.

The Bible includes all these stories to show us that being a follower of God isn’t just something for the elite. David wasn’t bred to be a holy King. He was a shepherd boy who accidentally found himself anointed to be King, and he screwed up along the way. Samson had strength, but lacked the discipline and desire to follow God. Peter was self-absorbed, and only followed Jesus because he thought Jesus was going to lead a violent rebellion against the Romans, but he wound up leading Christ’s Church.

This is important to note, because, like Peter, Samson, and David, we’re not always going to be the good guy. We are going to do things that are stupid, shameful, and Un-Christlike. At some point in our lives, we are going to do things that hurt the cause of the Kingdom of God. And God can use us anyway.
Because the Christian story isn’t a hero story. It’s not a fairy tale. It’s a real story about real people who seek after God and who screw up. It’s a story about people who are constantly being transformed, but who sometimes resist that transformation. It’s a story about people who don’t always look more like God today than they did yesterday.

And that’s encouraging. Because I take steps back. I have days like David, where if people knew what I’d done, they would probably think I wasn’t a Christian. I have days like Peter, where even though I work as a leader in a Church, I exclude people that I’m supposed to include. I have days like Samson, where God gives me everything I need to follow him, and I do my own thing anyway. And it’s on those days that I need these reminders that God’s not finished with me yet. Even on the days that I’m the villain of the story, God works in and through me.

We should strive to be followers of God. We should strive to be after God’s own heart. We should strive to be perfect as God is perfect. But we should also rest in the comfort that God uses us when we screw up. Some of the greatest heroes of the faith were bigger screw-ups than you and me.

Sometimes, the villains make the best heroes.

Tyler Jarvis is the youth minister at the Oak Ridge Church of Christ in Willow Park, TX. He’s married to his wonderful wife Andrea and they have zero kids. He enjoys playing guitar, rock climbing, and writing about himself in the third person. You can check out his blog at or follow him on Twitter at @Tyler_Jarvis.

Summer Blog Tour–The Power of Telling A Story

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I am participating in a summer blog tour–over the next few weeks, there will be a number of guests posts. I will be writing for this as well.

To kick it off, I gladly share the following by Steve Ridgell…

The Power of Telling a Story

Jesus often used stories to illustrate how to live as his disciples. I believe hearing the stories of Jesus still equip us to live out his call on our lives. And here is one example of how I think that works.

I have often heard people talk about the Great Commission passage in Matthew 28, but I wonder if we have missed what it means.   It is too easy to simply make the point that “go into all the world” means go out of your front door and into your world.

What does that mean in terms of real life action? I believe Jesus explains exactly how his followers go into their world and make other followers. I think he shows how to go, where to go, and what to do when we get there.

Listen to the stories he told about going into your world.

How do I go? I go living forgiven.

She was a woman caught in adultery. The response by those who caught her was the familiar refrain of guilt, shame, and feelings of worthlessness. But Jesus offered forgiveness, not condemnation. And then he told her to “go and leave your life of sin”. Go back among her friends and family as a changed person. Live forgiven. That is how we demonstrate the truth that Jesus changes lives. We are the living examples of God’s work in this world.

Where do I go? To those in need – and then serve them intentionally.

The story of the Good Samaritan was told to illustrate who is our neighbor. It is the story of a man who saw someone in need and then did something about it. He cared for them. Your world, your neighborhood, is full of hurting people in need of help. Physical needs, emotional needs, spiritual needs. Sick people, abused people, lonely people, addicted people. The last thing Jesus said after the story of the Good Samaritan was for us to “go and do the same.” So we go into our world as servants committed to helping others. But we do it with purpose.

We serve intentionally in the name of Jesus. This gives us credibility to speak into lives. Our lives are living proof that Jesus works. Our service is the proof that the Jesus story is worth hearing.

What do I do when I go? Speak with courage the story of Jesus.

He fought so many demons he was called Legion. He was lonely and in pain. Jesus met him, connected with him, and healed him. When Jesus left that place, Legion was ready to go with him. He was all in for a mission trip with Jesus. Except that Jesus told him no. Instead, he told him to go home to his family and tell them what the Lord had done for him and how he had mercy on him.

Our lives give credibility to the story of Jesus. Our service gives opportunity to share that story. But you will not make followers of Jesus in your world until you tell them the good news of Jesus. Tell your story. Tell His story. And invite them to become part of the story.

Go into all the world. Go into your world.

Live Forgiven.

Serve with Purpose.

Speak with Courage.

And you will make followers… who will make followers… who will make followers.

Buffalo Gap

Steve Ridgell lives to share the story of Jesus with this world. In addition to his work as Director of Ministry for Hope for Life (, Steve is a regular writer for and has written books. His latest book is Can I Tell You a Story?

Steve also serves as an elder at the Southern Hills church of Christ in Abilene, Texas.

How Do You Smell?

I have been away for far too long. No excuses, just busy with preaching, traveling (you can catch my Pepperdine class on podcast at iTunes), and working on this house so we can move in the middle of June. In the meantime, Conner graduates from High School next weekend and… between that and trying to figure out college, well, writing took a back seat…

At any rate, here’s something I wrote this week…


Hurricane Katrina was one of those defining moments in life. It was a before and after delineation and everything you did or had done was put through that particular filter.

Back before Katrina, we used to…
After Katrina, we had to…

I came out of Katrina and all of its associated recovery with some strange idiosyncrasies.

For a long time, I filled up my vehicle every time it got to three quarters of a full tank—I did not want to get stuck without enough gas to get where I might need to go!

And then there is the whole antiperspirant situation.
Yes, you are reading about antiperspirant in the church bulletin.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, you couldn’t make a trip to Wally World for whatever you needed, whenever you needed it. And because there was no electricity (and therefore no air conditioning) or fresh water to bath in, antiperspirant was worth its weight in gold. I came out of that experience with a determination to always have at least two unused antiperspirants at home at all times…

Yes, I know it’s weird.
Yes, I know I am weird.
And yes, you can tell me any of the above.
But, you will never–to the best of my ability–be able to truthfully say I literally stink!

This article might stink.
My sermons might stink.
Occasionally, my attitude might stink.

But not me, not me! No sir and no ma’am.
Fresh as a daisy—that’s my plan and my approach. And if I do happen by some astronomically poor planning to run out of antiperspirant, I am going to have enough gas to get somewhere to buy what I need!

How much does a guy have to pay to get an Amen?

In the book of Proverbs, we read that there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. (14:12)

When I say, death stinks, you will most likely agree. It does. Seeing those we love suffer and die, stinks to the high heavens. Visiting a cemetery stinks like nothing else can.

Death stinks.

Years and years ago, Loudon Wainwright III sang a rather goofy song about a dead skunk in the middle of the road stinking to high heaven

Death stinks. And when it is the stench of death and decay from our rebellion and sin? There is not an antiperspirant or deodorant good enough to mask that smell.

Thankfully, for those in Christ, we are given a new aroma—not a masked, powdered, covered over smell—but the very aroma of Christ himself. (2 Corinthians 2:15)

Death stinks.

How do you smell?

Les Ferguson, Jr.

Madison/ Ridgeland, MS

A Season of Hope/ A Redeemed Story

Over the last couple of years, I have publicly and privately expressed a lot of pain. I have not wavered from sharing my struggles. I have ranted and raved. I have shaken my fist. I have stomped my feet like a petulant child–literally and on the pages of this blog.

Occasionally, I have been asked to speak and share my story. At times I have chosen to offer help to those who hurt too. Sometimes, my message was more about what not so say and how to treat those who are suffering. At this point in my life, I am never more excited than when I get to share what God has done in the redemption, restoration, and reconciliation of my life. Better yet, I am thrilled when I have the chance to help people see hope–to know that God can redeem not just their souls from sin, but that He can and does redeem their stories.


We all have a story. Some of us can’t escape the knowledge of our stories, they are ever before us. Some of us are blessed to have stories of far less drama and tragedy than others. But all of us have a story. We each have a story of sin and the broken life that follows. We have a story of loneliness and despair. We have a story of _________________ (I’ll let you fill in the blank).

We each have a story, but no matter what yours is or isn’t, here’s hope: There is no story too horrific or too ugly for God to redeem.

Not a single one.
No matter the details.
No matter the guilt.
No matter the shame and embarrassment.
No matter the consequences still yet to be faced.

Not a single one.

Yours, like mine, can be redeemed.
Beauty can be found again.
Although different from before, life can be resumed once more.

In today’s post, I’d like you to notice the tag line has changed to be more reflective of where I am on this journey…

From the crash and burn of destruction and despair to a posture embracing redemption, restoration, and reconciliation, this is my journey of leaning on the gospel of grace…

And lean I do… For where I lean, I find hope!

For those who walked this journey with me, a million billion gazillion thanks. Yours is a story worthy of telling and telling soon!

In the meantime, the following links are the beginnings of Desperately Wanting To Believe Again.

If you choose to stop reading here, Happy Easter! It is a season of hope!

Les Ferguson, Jr.

**Warning: Graphic Details Ahead**…hy-its-obscene/ ‎ ‎

Is It Icey or Icy?

IMG_0899 (looking out the kitchen window)

In 1977, the British-American rock band, Foreigner, released their hit single Cold As Ice. And while they were singing of a relationship gone awry, the imagery is apropos.


It is very cold. As Cold As Ice.


As I write this I am sitting in the kitchen lingering over a late breakfast/ lunch.

Ice is everywhere.

I went to get some firewood a bit ago, but the driveway was so slick with ice, I envisioned an unhealthy and painful fall… so I came back inside where I sit reading, contemplating, and writing…


Everywhere I look here in the woods of north Warren County is the evidence of cold, bitter weather.


As Vanilla Ice once said, ice, ice, baby.

It’s everywhere.

We are pretty much iced in. When the gravel road is as slick as… well, ice, you are not going anywhere anytime soon.

At this stage of the game, I am thankful we have not lost power and for what remains of our dwindling firewood supply. And if completely honest, I also confess to being thankful for the still warm plate of deer sausage in front of me.

Ice, ice, baby.

And if you want to know the cold, icy truth of my life, I am thankful for the ice today. The ice we are predicted to endure tomorrow is another story, but for today, I am thankful for the forced isolation. I am thankful for the forced slowdown. I am thankful for the time to relax—to have the family home in one place…

Ice, ice, baby.

As God said to Job, Whose womb did the ice come from? Who gave birth to the frost of heaven when water becomes as hard as stone, and the surface of the watery depths is frozen? (Job 38:29-30 HCSB)

Thank you, Lord.
For family.
For heat.
For good food.
For coffee.
And for the ice that pauses and brings reflection.

Ice is cold, but my heart is warm…

Ice, ice, baby!

And by the way, it’s icy not icey out there!

Les Ferguson, Jr.
Somewhere deep in the woods of Oak Ridge…

Momma Said!

So I am back to preaching and being a minister.
And because ministry often involves serving people at times of great pain and heartache, I find myself sharing in funeral services once more.

Last week a much beloved member of our church lost his battle with cancer and won the victory in Jesus. As I contemplated being a part of a funeral service again, I penned what you read below.

But before you read, I am still searching for the right name for this blog–so stay tuned, changes are coming sooner or later that will hopefully reflect my new reality!

Thanks for being a part of my life!

Les, Jr.

Most Moms are founts of knowledge and wisdom. And most of us grew up with any number of things we needed to heed and remember simply because Momma said.

My mother and my life were then and are still no different.

Momma said.

And she did.

Things like:

If you can’t say anything nice about somebody, don’t say anything at all.

 Don’t talk with your mouth full.

Chew your food up.

Wash your hands.

Be on time.

Wear socks to church.

Be nice to your brother.

Be a gentleman at all times.

Be nice to your sisters and their friends–you might marry one of those friends one day.

Yes, Momma said.

Well maybe not that part about marrying one of my sister’s friends. But she should have because I did!

I am thankful for all the warnings and wisdom found in what Momma said. Thanks to her, I have thus far avoided the catastrophic indignity of riding in an ambulance to the hospital while wearing ratty old undergarments! (And by using the word undergarments, I have also avoided using in public a word/ subject Momma said I shouldn’t talk about).

Momma said.

One time before a date, Momma said I should always keep a copy of the Bible between me and whatever lucky girl I was with. When I asked her (my momma, not my date) about the validity of just using a small checkbook sized New Testament instead, I distinctly remember that Momma said something I didn’t want to hear…

Momma said.

Momma said we shouldn’t use the word hate.

Momma said we shouldn’t hate anybody or anything.

I am hoping that Momma will give me a one-time pass on this one…

Because I hate dying and death.

I hate the pain and suffering of all concerned.

I hate the heartache.

I hate the long-term struggle of coming to grips with the empty seats at the table.

I hate dying and death.

I do.

I do.

I am not alone.

Not by a long shot.

I am not alone.

The psalmist says in Psalm 116:3-4, The ropes of death were wrapped around me, and the torments of Sheol overcame me; I encountered trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of Yahweh: “Yahweh, save me!”

Death was not a friend of the psalmist. In fact, he reminds us that God knows the high cost of this thing, this enemy we hate…

Psalm 116:15, The death of His faithful ones is valuable in the Lord’s sight.

I hate death, but in Christ, death’s victory will be short-lived…

Death, where is your victory?
Death, where is your sting?
Now the sting of death is sin,
and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ!
(1 Corinthians 15:55-57 HCSB)

Momma said I could trust God in this.

I do.

I do.

Thanks be to God who gives us the victory!


David Bowie Ain’t Got Nothin’ On Me…

In another world, in a different time, David Bowie sang that it was time to turn and face the strange changes


In the same song, he also said he didn’t want to be a richer man, instead, he was just gonna have to be a different man.

Yes, indeed.

While I wouldn’t sneeze at the opportunity to be a little more financially independent, being rich materialistically is not one of my life-shaping goals.

I’m just gonna have to be a different man.

How many times can a guy say indeed in one blog post?
Apparently, at least five times…

So once again, indeed.

I am just gonna have to be a different man and I am.

Strange changes abound. Strange changes indeed.

I suspect as long as I am alive, there will occasionally be moments of anger and pain, heartache and rage–yes, joy comes in the morning, but there are plenty more nights of questions and grief to come.

And I am ok with that.

Indeed (somebody stop me…).
There’s one of those strange changes… I have learned to not be afraid of it–grief serves its purpose and while tears can be bitter, they can also be cleansing…

I am thankful for many of the changes in my life.
I am thankful for lessons learned.

My reality has changed.
I am enjoying life.
To quote the Foo Fighters, who will have their own post fairly soon (as in almost done), I am learning to walk again…

Strange Changes.

I am wrestling with a new name for my blog. Desperately Wanting to Believe Again has served it’s purpose. I never quit believing. I do believe. I still struggle with trust at times, but I trust God even if I don’t always understand.

I am done with bitterness. I may be bitter at times or for a moment, but I never want to embrace bitterness again.

I may still have hurt. Pain will raise itself once in awhile, but I never want to be that guy again whose hurt turns him into a pariah.

It’s time to move forward.
It’s time time live again.
And I am.
I am.

Ok. So I am blathering on like the crazy strange man I am.

Four more things:

1. I am going to recommit to writing here more often–giving it the good old college try (whatever that means).

2. I am going to make significant progress on my book (call the first two New Year resolutions if you want).

3. If you have an idea for a new blog name reflecting my new reality, please share it ASAP.

4. Here’s a sermon from the first Sunday of 2015 (last week)–it ends with what I call a story of redemption, restoration, and reconciliation…

God bless and Happy New Year!

Les Ferguson, Jr.

and oh yeah, one more piece of happiness…

My beautiful wife and our new house in Madison, Mississippi! (This picture was from yesterday–after we closed on the house!)


Pumpernickel, Anyone?


I am not a fan.
But don’t get me wrong because I like bread.

I know some people who just get all ga-ga about bread.
They could care less for the entree’s at O’Charley’s, but will go to the moon and back to eat a couple baskets of those hot fresh buttered rolls.

Other bread specialty restaurants can be found here and there.
Maybe you’ve had an opportunity to experience the “throwed rolls” at one of the three Lambert’s Cafes… it’s all ok, but throwing a roll across the room doesn’t really change how it tastes.

I am really not the bread Grinch.
I like bread.

Some have referred to bread as the staff of life because it has long been the main ingredient of the human diet.

Sometimes we refer to something that is really neat as being the greatest thing since sliced bread.

James Beard, an American icon and culinary expert, once said, Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.

I don’t much like plain white loaf bread. But then if you slather it with mayonnaise, add slices of thick garden fresh tomatoes, and liberally dose it with salt and pepper… Oh, man. That is a slice of nirvana held in two hands…

I really like BLT’s… But honestly, a BLT is nothing more than a different vehicle for getting bacon off the plate and onto the taste buds.

I can dig a good club sandwich. But heaven is a Reuben on Rye with a good sauce and sauerkraut.

Maybe I like bread better than I think.

What’s your favorite bread?

Or better yet, what are you consuming?

Here’s a painful confession…

When Karen and Cole were murdered, I was ill prepared.
And obviously that’s a great understatement in one perspective. How could you be prepared?

Here’s where the painful confession comes to play… in my life as a preacher and an elder, I was busy. Busy writing and speaking. Busy helping others. Busy feeding the flock. But my consumption of bread, my feeding on the Word of God was almost non-existent. I neglected my own relationship for the sake of others and it cost me dearly. When tragedy occurred, when the pain and heartache hit, my foundation crumbled.

It’s still a struggle. It’s still far too easy to want to help take care of everyone else first. However, I have learned that in order for me to feed others, I have to make sure I am being fed too.

“I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again.”

As the old hymn says, Bread of Heaven feed me till I want no more…

(Hey, check out my latest post at Wineskins!)

Les Ferguson, Jr.
Lake Harbour Drive Church of Christ
Ridgeland, MS.


***Some days are hard. Some days are harder still. I heard about a murder last night during midweek Bible Study… I almost gagged and threw up.

****But God is big. Bigger still than I can ever comprehend. I am thankful He is still working in my life.

*****This post and the last couple come from my new blessing as a full time minister again. With apologies to those who read the Lake Harbour Dr bulletin…

Unrepentant. defines unrepentant in the simplest of terms: not repentant or contrite.

A lot of friends and contemporaries have gone where I cannot go.
I feel badly for them.
But I remain unrepentant.

To wit: I am a life long devotee of classic rock. Not pop, bebop, or anything else. I will not listen to country.


Give me Rock. With speakers powerful enough to vibrate my bones, rock should be heard and felt.

Yes sir and yes ma’am…

I bought Becki tickets for her birthday to see two of her favorite classic rock bands, Foreigner and Styx.

Who am I kidding? Happy Birthday to me!

In their song Renegade, Styx sings about the wanted man on the run—fleeing from the lawman and the hangman. The chorus says:

The gig is up, the news is out
they finally found me
The renegade who had it made
retrieved for a bounty
Never more to go astray
The judge’ll have revenge today
on the wanted man…

In my imagination, this song with it’s driving beat has always evoked images of the old west. The bad guy being tracked down by the good guy out to see the guilty stopped and punished.

And if you’ll follow that imagery a bit, the bad guy is me (and you too, you’re not getting off that easily).

The good guy? That’s God coming with righteous punishment and His mighty justice in hand.

Surely we deserve it.

In the book of Romans, Paul paints a bleak picture of sin, failure, and pure ugliness. And the brush he uses? It’s wide enough to catch us all. Romans 3:23, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…

But God does a funny thing.

With mercy and grace and a huge reservoir of love, Jesus pays our bounty and frees us from the long arm of the vengeful lawman.

However, If you read Romans 3:23 without reading verse 24, you miss the amazing gift Jesus brings…

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Here’s a news flash: For those who accept the gift of Jesus, the bounty has been paid.
The price was love.
The sentence has been lifted.
The past is forgiven.

How could you not love a God like that?

Rest easy my friends; secure in the knowledge that God loves you and so do I!

Les, Jr.

Why Are You Reading Here?


Why are you reading here?

Move along, move along.

There is nothing for you to see today except old posts… And you are welcome to read them. Should be a new one sometime in the next three or four days.

But in the meantime, there is a new post up at Wineskins.

“A Second Chance Lord”

Please check it out and read some other stuff by some great writers!

Happy Mothers Day!