Suck It Up Buttercup!

fat-man-running

These have been my mantras of late:

  • Endurance.
  • Perseverance.
  • Fight through the pain.
  • Soreness is weakness leaving your body.
  • It doesn’t matter where you start; It’s where you finish that counts.
  • I may be slow, but I’m faster than everyone still sitting on the couch.

And my favorite motivational phrase (thanks to Becki who found the t-shirt) is Suck it up Buttercup!

Over the last twelve weeks I have been on a journey of pain, soreness, competition, and learning about myself.

As a result, I am healthier, fitter and more fully engaged in a long-term transformation procedure. (Not where I want to be yet, but getting there…)

They call it Fitness Bootcamp.
I call it a desire to live better.

(Huge shoutout to Paul Lacoste, Clark Bruce & team at Paul Lacoste Sports–these are the guys to work with, hands down!)

I am not the first to do such a thing.
I will not be the last.
Actually, I am already signed up for another go!

(Good gracious, who was the chucklehead who invented burpees?)

This weight loss, get-in-shape, be healthier process is a lot like life. Christianity itself calls for perseverance and running the race with determination and endurance.

1 Corinthians 9:24, Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize.

And so we run and train spiritually all the while knowing:

  • There will be detours.
  • There will be roadblocks.
  • There will be difficult competition.
  • There will be temptations to take shortcuts.
  • There will be pain.
  • There will be soreness.
  • And there will be days when you will desperately need the attitude and demeanor that says Suck it up Buttercup.

But no matter how hard life gets…

No matter how difficult this world can be…

No matter what tribulations come, we serve a God who tells us quite clearly that He has this!

Romans 8:35-39, Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: Because of You we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!

So do me a favor. If you see me struggling—if you catch me wallowing—then not so gently please  remind me, Suck it up buttercup!

arm_muscle

Blessings to you and yours,

Les Ferguson, Jr.
Madison/ Ridgeland, MS

The Humpty Dumpty Conundrum

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

Life leads us to lots of questions.

And often questions of the kind of Humpty Dumpty might have asked.

I have no idea what precipitated Mr. Dumpty’s unfortunate plunge from the wall where he sat.
Maybe he had inner ear problems and it eventually destroyed his equilibrium.
Maybe he was pushed by circumstances outside of his control.
Maybe he jumped.

Oh my.
Isn’t that a kicker?

Of course this is a children’s nursery rhyme.
And when you write nursery rhymes for a living, there is no contractual obligation to end the story with the plot all tidied up and all the possible questions and scenarios believably answered and or resolved.

But in the vein of another great literary tale, who shot JR?
I am sure there is answer and we can all Google it later…

But back to Humpty Dumpty’s great fall…
How did it happen?
Why did it happen?

Who knows? (Since it’s my blog, I also am not contractually obligated to offer any speculation made to look like a definitive answer. Yes, I know. I am just lucky that way.)

But before the great fall that splattered his world, I imagine he asked the same sort of questions common to all men… even those who look like an egg drawn by a bad cartoonist.

Humpty_Dumpty

And like Humpty, we sometimes wonder…
Who am I?
Why am I here?
What is my purpose?
What really matters?
And does anybody care whether I like green eggs and ham?

Wait.
Sorry.
I am guilty of mixing more than my metaphors at this point.

Again, back to the point at hand…

Eventually we all run headfirst into the God questions…
Who is God?
Is He really here?
Does He care about me?
Does He really care about what I am going through?
Where is He when I need Him most?

You may not recognize them quite yet, but those are delivery room questions born of pain—be it physical, spiritual, emotional, or even philosophical.

Eventually, as most of us will experience in some fashion or another, there will come a day when everything shatters, when the world falls apart, and life makes absolutely no sense.

Sort of like Sir Dumpty’s great fall as immortalized by nursery rhyme…

Except ours are real and the consequences severe—often accompanied by an agony that expands like a nuclear mushroom cloud and consumes everything in its path.

And as Old Humpty Dumpty experienced, when all the king’s horses and all the king’s men have completely failed to put us back together again?
What then?
What now?
What next?

And when the whole montage of questions and doubt turns theological…
Where was God?
Why didn’t He fix this or stop it?
And who is this Jesus anyway?

Now that’s the real question.

Who is Jesus?

Ultimately, He’s the author of the epic story we were created to live.
He’s the one who makes possible our redemption, restoration, and reconciliation.
He’s the one who will one day wipe away all our tears.
He is the one who puts us back together again.
He’s the one that brings meaning to our story.
He’s the one who loves us the most in spite of ourselves.

So who is this Jesus?
Really.
And what does it all mean?

Scripture gives many names and concepts to describe Him.
He’s the Lord of Lords.
He’s the King of Kings.
He’s the Alpha and Omega.
He’s the Lamb that was slain.
He’s the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.

And while I am fascinated by this Lion of the Tribe of Judah description, there is quite another designation that resonates with my greatest need.

My little brother, Billy, recently reminded me of this and I am so glad he did.

Who is Jesus? He’s a friend of sinners (Matthew 11:19) just like me.

And for those of us whose life experiences and consequences make Humpty Dumpty’s great fall look like a cake walk?

Here’s hope: There is no fall so big, so bad, so dramatic that Jesus cannot redeem, restore, and reconcile…

But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds. (Isaiah 53:5 HCSB)

Humpty Dumpty lives!
He may not be quite as egg shaped as he once was. But if anyone could put him back together again, it’s Jesus!

Thank you for reading.
And stayed tuned for some future changes at Desperately Seeking To Believe Again!

Les Ferguson, Jr.
Madison/ Ridgeland, MS

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

Indeed.

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!)

New_house

News I Can Use

So.
In the life is stranger than fiction category, my resurrection saga continues.
In the category of never saying never, well, I made that mistake too.
In the category of a seemingly never-ending job search, well, that’s a wrap!

Hallelujah! I have a job. And not just a job, a ministry! I have been given the opportunity to serve with and minister to and for the wonderful folks at the Lake Harbour Drive Church of Christ in Ridgeland, MS.

I am beyond excited. I cannot wait to begin working with this group of elders, deacons, and saints.

Will there be problems and difficulties? Absolutely!
Will I have to stretch and grow? Without a doubt, yes!
Will there be growing pains? Of course.

But I am still overwhelmed by the knowledge: God is not through with me yet!

If God is not through with me, then rest assured, God is not through with you either! Life can be hard, unyielding, and relentless. It can feel for all the world like unending roller coaster of pain and suffering.

I get that. Been there; done that. Got the T-Shirt. And still I wrestle and struggle… In some ways, I always will until this life ends and my eternity begins.

But God is still God.
His Throne is secure.

So hold on.
Hold on.

God is not through with us yet.

And if you are in the area, come see us. I start my new job (did I mention I have a fantastic new job?) on April 28th.

I’ll post a real blog post soon.
Promise.

Les Ferguson, Jr.

Wineskins Check-Out: I Need Restored!

Hey There Friend! I am so glad you have spent time with me in the past year as I wrestle with my faith. A new year has dawned and many of us are still wrestling with questions and that’s ok. Wrestling is growing.

I hope I never stop.

I have been out of the loop a bit, so here’s a little self-promotional news about the happenings in my life.

I preached this past Sunday in Natchez, Ms. I will be speaking there again this coming Sunday. Always looking for more opportunities to share…

Also, the new schedule for the Tulsa Workshop is out and I am presenting three times–and yes, I am very excited.

I have spent considerable time this week reworking my book proposal and remain committed to the process.

Awhile back I announced the opportunity that had come my way to be a featured author at wineskins.org. At the time I didn’t quite grasp how it was going to work—I thought DWTBA was going to be linked and what I wrote here would just become a part of the other web e-zine.

Not the case at all.

In fact, I am writing in two different places.

So, I would like to invite you to take a look at the new issue as soon as it is out. The writers are each telling stories of those special people who have helped shape their own personal faith.

Please take the time to check out http://wineskins.org.

In the meantime, I am going to share here what I wrote there in the inaugural restart issue…

Thanks for sticking with me—
Les, Jr.

Restoration.
I have experienced way too much of that in my life.
Going to the dentist is painful and difficult when you have had mouth trauma over the years.
It is also financially painful.

At age 51, I (and my wallet) remain terrified of dentists and the work they do.

Why?

Because at age 15, I totaled a Volkswagen Beetle. In the process, I ate the steering wheel and knocked teeth out and tore gums away. Not a pretty sight, for sure. But, the docs were good and wired it all up and things stayed well for a number of years until some of those teeth died.

And when they had to be removed, we found out that a prescribed acne medicine had caused chemical bonding of those dead teeth to the bone. Getting them out of my mouth required some uncomfortable surgery.

My teeth woes have gone on and on throughout much of my adult life.

But wait.

This is a place for theological discussions, not bad oral health stories.
This is a blog post that is supposed to be a part of a theme on Biblical Restoration.
Amazingly enough, there are some similarities between the two.

Dentists and those who practice dentistry with bigger and fancier names know all about tooth decay and gum diseases. They have seen the results of accidents. They know the stench and damage of rotting teeth.

Sounds a lot like sin, does it not?

Sin causes spiritual decay. It causes the very fabric of our lives to become rotten to the core. And the following physical, emotional, and mental trauma is often spread into the lives of others.
The consequences can be really really high and very very hard.

The man who murdered my first wife and our handicapped son didn’t start out life as a child molester, rapist, and murder. But the effects of sin caught up with him—resulting in an even greater sin spiral that eventually spilled over into our lives in a horrific way.

Please don’t take this as somehow blasé. Because it most assuredly is not. Sin always has consequences. And sin often has ramifications that are unintended in our own lives and often claim innocent victims as well.

So how does all of this work into the theme of biblical restoration?

The Bible tells us that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
That word all is a funny little guy. It leaves no one out. We are all guilty.
And, the result is all are also in need of restoration as well.

So, I am very grateful for the forgiveness, mercy, and grace God grants me. But beyond all the. wonderful forgiveness, I need a full scale restoration. I need a life obsessed with living for God in all respects.

This heritage many of us call the Restoration Movement is a great thing. Restoring the church of the New Testament is a lofty goal. But when you get down to it, the church of the first century was full of the same kind of folks as the church of the 21st century (no matter what name is on the door).

Sinners all, we are a people who need to be healed and forgiven. We are a people whose lives need a total transformation. And only God can create the kind of total make over that fundamentally restores perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors in redeeming fashion.

As it turns out, restoration or restoring people to God saves not only them from pain, but also others who might otherwise be hurt.

Hey kids.
Brush your teeth good before bed tonight.
But before then, consider those areas of your life that need to be restored to Him.

Les Ferguson, Jr.

A Little Blog Competition

Not competition with other bloggers, but a readers competition!

I know this is not the promised blog mentioned on Facebook.

Patience, grasshopper.

It’s coming–hopefully by 7:00PM Tuesday. That’s my self-imposed deadline.
Lots of stuff going on this week. This afternoon I am trying to sell a little real estate–sitting here in an open house wishing somebody would show up–and writing while I am waiting. At least there is air conditioning and a bag of contraband potato chips to munch on. Maybe Becki won’t read that part…
Back to school night is Monday night for two high schoolers–and a court of honor for our Jr. High guy in Boy Scouts. Don’t ask how we are going to be in multiple places at once. It’s a secret only known by us super, high achiever parents… LOL!
Wednesday night I am speaking at the White’s Ferry Road Church of Christ in West Monroe, LA. I am looking forward to seeing some old and new friends and maybe meeting a famous TV character or two.
We shall see.
In the meantime, I am working on my hope-to-be published book (it’s gonna knock your socks off, guaranteed–how’s that for confidence?) as well as a short ebook (or two) that will be offered here on this blog.
I have been brain storming with my buddy and blog platform provider, Brad Palmore, about some ways to use my writing other than a book to generate some income and security as well as advertise speaking opportunities.
However, let me be clear. I am a true believer! I believe God is shaping, molding, and transforming me for a ministry that is needed–you readers are my earliest and best forms of support in that regard. Your encouragement is so greatly valued and appreciated!!
So here I am. Thankful for you. For reading, for commenting, for sharing, for subscribing, for liking! You guys (and gals) are the best.
Let’s have a little fun. Below you will find some old song titles from popular radio in days gone by. One of them is the title of the next blog post. The first person who responds either here in the comments or on my Facebook page or DWTBA Facebook page with the correct song title (and artist) along with the closest possible reason for my using it gets a prize.
A Starbucks Gift Card…
starbuck
We will leave the competition open until midnight, Monday.
Here are your choices:
I’m Bringing Sexy Back
 
That’s the way, un huh, un huh, I like it
 
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
 
Don’t Stop Believin’
I am having fun with this–I hope you will too!
Blessings to you and yours!
Les Ferguson
PDFLogo copy

Doritos, Blue Skies, Boys, & Graduation

Congratulation to my oldest son, Kyle! He graduated today from Lipscomb University with an MA in Theology. I am proud of him and hate we couldn’t make the trip.

As I write this, I am eating Doritos underneath a cloudless blue sky. Temps are around 70 degrees and it is an absolutely gorgeous day.

There are more boys around here than you can shake a stick at today. Good boys. Kind boys. Polite, respectful boys.

Most of them are Boy Scouts.

That’s something I never had any real experience with. I was a Webelos scout once for a short time. The only thing I really remember is getting introduced to dry ice. You can do some pretty cool things with dry ice.

But I digress.

I look at these kids and I am thankful that somebody has been a good influence. Somebody has infused them with good qualities. Obviously God has done His work, but others have developed, mentored, guided, disciplined, and corrected.

Like I said, good boys. I am glad some of them live under my roof.

Unfortunately, they come into contact with some kids in the school system who are not nearly so good. Or nice. Or polite. Or respectful.

I feel sorry for those kids.
And fearful too.

So far this school year our district has lost six children. I have grieved anew at each loss. For the parents especially. For our community. For the pain and anguish felt. For the salt each death has poured into my own wounds.

Some of those have been tragic horrible stupid accidents. But not all. At least one was a murder quite possibly committed by six other young people.

Bad kids that weren’t born that way.

I wonder what went wrong in their lives. Was it parents who were inattentive? Was it outside influences that could have been prevented?

I don’t know and I don’t presume to judge.

But I wonder and I worry.

And God help me, I can’t help but wonder what went wrong in Paul Buckman’s life. Was he influenced as a little boy? Did he get introduced to perversion as a teenager? Was he himself the victim of a sexual predator?

Those are questions to which no answers will be found. But still I wonder who or what could have made a difference. That difference just may have saved my family from a world of hurt and pain.

But it didn’t happen. Horror invaded. And we are left to pick up the pieces and move on.

And as we do, I am thankful for all who do strive to make a difference in young people’s lives. Your work is seen, noted, and appreciated.

And Boy Scouts? You guys are the bomb! Thanks for the hope you instill in those of us who are watching!

Les Ferguson, Jr.

Hodgepodge & Sovereign Redo

It’s been a beautiful Saturday thus far. I have spent the better part of the day painting in our master bedroom bath. As I write this I am pretty well splattered with paint and tired. Hopefully not too tired for an evening walk/ run in just a bit.

I m very appreciative of the audience and fellow travelers who have connected through the pages of this blog. It tickles me to no end to see some of you communicating back and forth through the comments.

All of us are at different places on the same journey of discovery and understanding. I envy you who are traveling much faster with a clearer view than me.

I think it would be easier if there were not so many different ripples going in as many different directions. I told Becki today in a moment/ a couple of hours of self-pity that I felt like a loser. I am not looking for your affirmations or even words of encouragement. You can’t fix this by telling me how I should feel or even by pointing out the good things going on.

Just understand, trying to start two careers simultaneously is hard. Either one by their little lonesome would be enough difficulty. I have never been a man of great patience. Under normal circumstances it would take a couple more years to get this real estate thing going good enough for me to be self-sufficient. As for building a writing and speaker career, I have no idea the time frame necessary to be successful.

The only solution I know for the constant worry, fear, and stress is to keep plugging away trying to build a business and writing as much as I can. It is what I am going to do.

Thank you for sharing the journey and giving me voice once again…

A coupe of notes…

The Drew Marshall Show sent me this official link to the interview I did with them last week.

http://www.drewmarshall.ca/listen2013.html#130406

I am writing some other things for other formats.
The blog is closing in on 59,000 views.
And best of all, my oldest son, Kyle, got his acceptance letter for the nursing program at the University of Alabama–Hunstville. Woo Hoo Kyle! So proud of you!

In the meantime, in place of your regularly scheduled programming, I am reporting here the first blog article that started it all for me…

Sovereign in the mountain air
Sovereign on the ocean floor
With me in the calm
With me in the storm

Sovereign in my greatest joy
In my deepest cry
With me in the dark
With me at the dawn

In your everlasting arm
All the pieces of my life
From beginning to the end
I can trust you

In your never failing love
You work everything for good
God whatever comes my way
I will trust you

Sovereign in the mountain
Sovereign on the ocean floor
With me in the calm
With me in the storm

Sovereign in my greatest joy
Sovereign in my deepest cry
With me in the dark
With me at the dawn

In your everlasting arms
All the pieces of my life
From beginning to the end
I can trust you

In your never failing love
You work everything for good
God whatever comes my way
I will trust you

God whatever comes my way
I will trust you

All my hopes
All I need
Held in your hands

All my life
All of me
Held in your hands

All my fears
All my dreams
Held in your hands

All my hopes
All I need
Held in your hands

All my life
All of me
Held in your hands

All my fears
All my dreams
Held in your hands

In your everlasting arms
All the pieces of my life
From beginning to the end
I can trust you

In your never failing love
You work everything for good
God whatever comes my way
I will trust you

God whatever comes my way
I will trust you

God whatever comes my way
I will trust you

I love this song.
I hate this song.
I love Chris Tomlin.
I hate Chris Tomlin.

To say I am a conflicted man is a such cliched statement.
Cliched or not, it’s true.

Please understand, what you will read in the pages and chapters of whatever this will ultimately become won’t be for the faint of heart. It won’t be for those whose faith is comfortable or complacent. It may very well be too much for those who cannot handle unvarnished truth and pain.

One page may be raw emotion. Another story may be bittersweet memories of what was lost forever. And still another entry may be rage against the God I believe in… the God whom I have lost my faith, hope, and trust in.

That’s why I both love and hate Chris Tomlin’s song Sovereign.

In your everlasting arm
All the pieces of my life
From beginning to the end
I can trust you

I want to believe that so badly.
I desperately need to believe again.

And yet.
And yet…

Interview Quick Note

I am almost finished with a new post on Job. Kind of letting it percolate like a good pot of coffee… Which reminds to go grab another cup before the coffee monsters around here make it all disappear.

It is a beautiful Saturday in Vicksburg and we will shortly leave to hear Becki’s mom play with her old time music band on the old courthouse square.

It’s a quick trip into town and back.

Why so quick? Because, I am scheduled to have a live interview on the Drew Marshall show at 1:00PM central time. You can hear it as it happens live streaming at www.drewmarshall.ca

Thanks for all the likes, subscriptions, and sharing. Oh, please, please share!

New post coming soon!

I hope your day is super fantastic!

Les

Excitement Times One Hundred Thousand Equals?

C’mon.

Surely you know the answer.

Quit teasing. I know you know…

Are you sure you want to continue this obstinate streak?

Ok. So be it.

For those math challenged among us (self-included), I’ll help you work the equation.

Excitement X 100,000 =?

In this equation, excitement is knowing somebody passed this blog on to a huge Canadian talk show host by the name of Drew Marshall. Got that?

100,000 is a hypothetical number representing the unknown amount of people who will listen via radio and online in over 150 countries to stated radio show host. If you don’t like that number and insert your own figure, the answer will still be the same.

So are you ready to do the math? You have thirty seconds to work the equation.

Go!

(Insert countdown timer here)

Whew. That was the longest thirty seconds of my life.

Anybody that didn’t come up with the answer of Les Ferguson, Jr. got it wrong.

Me!!! Me!!! I am bouncing off the walls excited!

(Did you get the mental picture I am really, really kid-on-Christmas-morning-getting the biggest-and-best-toy-ever kind of excited?)

Yep. That’s me.

On the afternoon of April 6, you can tune in online at The Drew Marshall Show and listen as Drew asks about me, the blog, you, and the journey we are on together.

Please share in my excitement and pray I have the right words to get this message of struggle, faith, and God into the ears, hearts, and minds of others who hurt, question, and doubt.

Yes, I am excited. And yes, this is a cheesy post considering other topics, but, I am hopeful this will lead to more opportunity.

Thank you for traveling with me.

More details to follow as I know them.

Les Ferguson, Jr.