Life is Good

Busy, busy, busy…

Just like you.

Next Tuesday I will be speaking/ teaching three classes at the 2014 Harding University Bible Lectures. If we haven’t met and you are there… well, come let me buy you a cop of joe!

Today I sent in my topic title for the 2015 Pepperdine University Lectures.

Won’t that be a funny sight? A Mississippi Redneck in Malibu, California!

I would have never imagined how much life could have turned in around in the past three years. We are fast approaching the three year anniversary of the day my family came unglued.

And while all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again… God has been mightily at work in the life of my family.

What was broken has been in many ways restored.

At any rate, I am thankful for so much that we have been given–new opportunities for ministry, speaking, writing…

I am so thankful for Becki and the way she has brought peace and love into our lives.

My parents, siblings, and close preacher friends have been rocks of stability!

And then there is my oldest son, Kyle. No man could have asked for and received better support and love from his oldest son (and his wife, Karissa)!

Indeed, all my children–whether birth, adopted, or step continue to give me great joy and more reasons to fight on!

And I cannot say enough about my new church family at the Lake Harbour Drive Church of Christ in Ridgeland… Your positive encouragement and patience mean everything!

So.

No theology or challenges from this blog tonight (Although you can read new material from me posted this evening at Wineskins.org–please feel free to check it out!)

Just thanks.
Thanks to all of you who have allowed me into your lives–who have helped give me a new voice!

Les Ferguson, Jr.

Where Do We Go From Here?

So I have been absent for awhile.
Not the kind of writing behavior that keeps a blog front and center in the minds of its readers.
And certainly not conducive to the stats need to get a publisher interested in my ongoing book experiment.

Honestly?

I don’t know what to do with this blog.
Originally it was written to chronicle and give voice to my anger, pain, hurt and distrust of God and people too.
It was about my journey through an emotional and spiritual minefield.

As long as I was writing from that perspective, it resonated with the pain and hurt others have felt or are feeling even now.

So I wrote.
I cried.
I ranted.
I struggled.
And I wrote some more.

I fought to move forward in all aspects of my life.

Sometimes I took big steps forward.
Sometimes I took small steps forward.

Sometimes I took huge steps backward.
Sometimes it felt like I was sliding back down the hill.
Unabated and for good.

All the while, I spoke openly and freely about what I faced, what I endured.

You never know what life is going to send your way.
You never know what fundamental questions are going to find you with answers that are either not forthcoming or simply not up to the task at hand.

So what do you do if you lose you?

If you are me, you write.
You engage ideas and concepts.
You take long philosophical looks in the mirror.
And you when you don’t like what you see, you write some more.

You wrestle and stretch.
You grow even when you think no progress is made.

And over time and through the encouragement of others you realize you will never be you again. At least the you like you used to be.

My me is vastly different.
Sure, I still look like me.
And I am even back to full-time ministry (something I couldn’t ever imagine being my life again).

Certainly my ministry will be different because my relationship with God is different.
More real.
Less pretentious (Please Lord, let it be).
And focused quite differently.

Mercy, grace, redemption, and second chances… those are the things I want to emphasize. That’s the message of hope I want to bring.

The truth is, people are tired of being beat up.
They are beat up by the world, on the job, and often by our culture itself.
They are beat up by their own mistakes, by failures that destroy.
They are beat up by so-called family and friends.
And far too often, they are judged, condemned, and thoroughly trashed by the spiritual arrogance and spiritual smugness of some in the church.

We have forgotten the old cliche about the church not being a hotel for the perfect; instead it is a hospital for sinners, for the broken, for those who have made a complete mess of their lives.

I want to be that one guy, that preacher, that fellow miscreant who offers a word of hope, who gives a hand in peace, who understands what it means, what it feels like to be thoroughly broken…

This next bit is going to sound strange. I get that. I really do.

I still grieve.
I am in such a good place right now with my family and new ministry, but I still grieve.
I always will until the day God calls me home.

I still grieve.
And I am glad.

I am glad that my brokenness will never be completely healed on this side of the great divide.
It’s not that I enjoy pain.
Not at all.

I am glad because the world is full of broken people—and only the truly self-aware broken can stand with them.

When we come alongside those who are hurting for whatever reason and stand with them as anything other than another broken person too… instead of offering them mercy, grace, redemption, and second chances, most likely what they will get isn’t real hope, but the condescension of one who thinks they have it all together and know all the answers.

Nothing makes the broken more broken than condescension, condemnation, and judgement.

All of that and we still haven’t answered the question of what to do with this blog… except, maybe we have.

If you are broken and know it, this place is for you—I’ll try to write the encouragement we both need to make it through.

If you are grieving, this place is for you. I’ll share my grief from time to time and you’ll know you are not alone.

Desperately Wanting To Believe Again?
You betcha! I long for that day when all wrongs will be made right.
But until then, I will strive to remember the words of a desperate father when he once met Jesus… “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

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.