Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Miracle

I love to tell stories. I really love to tell stories about Jesus. So, I have a Jesus story to tell; my own personal Christmas miracle Jesus story.

As you know, I have recently applied to and been accepted at a seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. As Laura and I have prepared to move, it has been a bit worrisome how we were going to pay some bills, my tuition etc. Walking away from sixteen years of your career is a bit stressful. But, I know that the Spirit has led us to this and so we have been walking forward with Jesus in this adventure.

A few weeks ago, I was talking to Jesus about how exactly we were going to pay for all this. To be honest, I was having some doubts. You know how it is; the enemy creeps in and whispers lies in your heart: “Are you sure about this? You can’t do this. You’re going to be homeless and destitute. It’s safer here.” Those kinds of lies. So I told Jesus, “I don’t know how you’re going to do this but you have to do this because I simply cannot.”

I’m one of those weird people who assume that when I pray about something, Jesus will answer. I’m learning that the answer he gives might not always be what I want to hear. But, he will answer. So I talked to him about it, applied for financial aid and that was that.


Laura and I were visiting with my family in Alabama the week before Christmas. One morning I noticed that I had just missed a call from a number in North Carolina. When I checked my voicemail, I heard this (not the exact words but you get the point): “Mr. Garrison, this is Southeastern financial aid office. I was calling to tell you that we were going to offer you financial aid. However, this morning someone has donated $6,000 for your tuition. If you have any questions, please feel free to call me.” I just deleted the voicemail and kinda stared at my phone for a second. I mentioned the call to my wife and parents. My dad, the king of understatement, said “Well that’s good.”

Just a few minutes later, my parents shared their Christmas presents with Laura and I and my dad handed me a Christmas card. I opened it and inside it was a letter. The letter was from some people who know my family but shall remain nameless (at their request). In the letter, they detailed how the Father had impressed on them to provide us (Laura and I) some financial assistance. They said something along the lines of us stepping out in faith to follow His call on our lives and that God had told them to give us money to help. So, they are donating up to $18,000 to my tuition for seminary (up to $6000 a year).

I just sat there, holding the letter with what I’m sure was a dumbfounded look on my face. I looked at Laura and she was smiling at me. I looked at my dad. He smiled and said, “Wow. God is good.” King of understatements. I could feel the tears and a profound sense of relief wash over me. Then, in my heart, I could hear him. Laughing. I could see his face thrown back, roaring in sheer delight at my reaction, my surprise. Jesus was so happy for me, so pleased at this Christmas miracle he had just pulled off. I was just stunned. That’s a crap-load of money and, if things go right, could pay for my entire education. Later that night, as Laura and I prayed before bed, I wept tears of joy for his care for me.

Oh what a Saviour we serve! Jesus!! I will never stop telling this story! His provision is unbelievable! I don’t know what other cares we will have along the way but I know that he will provide what we need (notice I didn’t say what we want).

Celebrate with us our Christmas miracle friends! More importantly, celebrate Jesus!! He is all that matters!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Today my life changed and, no matter where I go from here, things will never be the same. I was accepted to seminary today. The official letter is coming in the mail but I got the email today. And now I must admit that I am terrified. Not of God and His purposes but of the unknown. I am forced to admit that I don’t have it all together, I don’t have it all figured out. And that terrifies me. It forces me to face both myself and my Saviour and tell Him to His face that I’m afraid.

I would ask this of all my friends and family. Please pray with me now (I know you have been). There are still decisions to make and some things to do. I have some options, of course, as far as seminary goes. I can do some on-line classes if I want or I can, of course, move to North Carolina. I will not, however, need to move immediately as I’m late for the fall semester so would not start until spring; if seminary is indeed what He has for me.

I have no means to move, no vehicle to move with etc. etc. It’s funny in an ironic way that God knows how much I hate uncertainty. I’ve spent my entire adult life keeping things around me as safe as possible. The irony of this whole thing is that everything about this is uncertain. Weird, right?

There’s so much more I could say but I’ll leave it at this for now. Thanks for coming on this journey with me and praying with me.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The right thing

I find great personal comfort in the fact that all the dudes in the Bible that we now look up to were seriously jacked up. Take Abram (before he was Abraham). He starts out so good, right? Genesis chapter 12 (read it). God tells Abram, “Go to a land I will show you.” God’s obviously not into details very often, I see. But He tells Abram, ‘Hey, pack your stuff and take your family and start walking. I’ll let you know when you get there.’ So, Abram does what he’s asked.

What faith!
What courage!

I wish I had Abram’s faith and courage sometimes; the faith to obey without question, the courage to act without hesitation. To pick up and go when God says go and to be unafraid to obey even when all those details that I love so much are missing.

Then, a little while later in Abram’s story, he steps on his crank. I’ll explain…probably should after saying it that way (somewhere my dad just cringed). So Abram and his wife, Sarai, are going to Egypt because there is apparently a famine going on everywhere else. So as they’re headed in to Egypt, Abram says to his wife, ‘Honey, you’re pretty hot and these Egyptians like their women hot. So let’s do this. If anybody asks, you’re my sister. We have to tell them that or they’ll take me out to get the hot chick. Cool?’ (my translation of the original Hebrew). And, inexplicably, she agrees to this. So that’s what happens. By the way, Abram probably would have gotten murdered for his wife. Apparently, she was really hot and the Egyptians were really evil.
So, here’s where I don’t get it. Abram has done so well up to this point. He has been obedient, faithful and courageous. And then this. What a cowardly and selfish act on Abram’s part. He totally failed. I mean, if you’re gonna bomb something, go all out…and he certainly did. He whiffed on this one. And then what really boggles my mind is that God doesn’t punish Abram for his lies; He punishes Pharaoh for getting’ it on with Abram’s wife. Did I miss something? I read this and was like, ‘Hold on, if I was God, I’d smack Abram.’

Then, God reminded me that I’m a coward as well sometimes. I sometimes keep my mouth shut when I should speak up for Him. I sometimes fail to act because it’s uncomfortable. I sometimes fail to trust Him, follow Him and have courage. Sometimes doing the right thing might get me whacked…and who wants to get whacked, right?

See, even in our worst moments, our monumental collapses, He is still there. He still waits to be merciful and forgiving to His children. That doesn’t mean we won’t be punished but His mercy is always right and His ways are always just, even when it hurts. So, I guess we have to learn to stand on His promises and trust His provision even in the land of uncomfortableness and sacrifice. Hey, I’m not crazy about the idea either but doing the right thing, the thing He commands us to do, might be hard but it’s always right. And He will reward our faithfulness.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The beginning

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
- Genesis 1:1

I recently went back to the beginning. I think it’s good to go back to the beginning sometimes. If we never go back to the beginning, we might forget. We might forget where we came from, where we began, where He has brought us from; we might forget His sovereignty. So, I went back to the beginning. Genesis.

If you have time right now and a Bible is close to you, read Genesis 1. Let it soak in, take your time and devour this passage. Close your eyes and imagine what it must have been like to be there at the beginning.

The power you would have witnessed.

The care He took to make all the little details just right.

Imagine the first sunset and sunrise and the angels weeping at the beauty of seeing this for the first time.

The thing that struck me when I read this, aside from the unfathomable power of it, was the personal nature of The Creator. This is the Being who spoke the universe into existence. Spoke it. Spoke. It. His word, His very nature has that much incomprehensible power, that much majesty, that much authority.

And this Being, The Creator wants you. And me. He wants to have a relationship with us. Just as He did with Adam and Eve, He wants to walk with you in the garden in the cool of the evening. He wants a relationship with you and me. Stop and think about that for a second, a minute, an hour..the rest of the day.

Unfathomable, incomprehensible Love.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A prayer of gratitude

You ran to me!

Despite my arrogance.
Despite my rebellion.
Despite my rage, wrongly thrown at you.
I wandered so far away, lost in my own filth, my self-hatred.
And yet,
You ran to me.

Just as the prodigal son returning, You wrapped me in Your arms, threw Your cloak about me and feasted my return.
Oh, the Love that will not let me go!
You ran to me.

Even now, I feel Your arms around me, Your smile so bright, the wild smell of Your beard as You hold me close.
“Welcome back.”

You ran to me!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Ever reminisce? Ever think back on “the way things used to be” and say, “Man, I wish I could go back to that.”? It could be anything. High school (really, who wants to go back to that?), before you “got old”, had kids, whatever. Funny how we spend so much time looking back that we usually stumble over what’s right in front of us. I do anyway.

So recently, “life” has been rough in a way for me. Somewhere along the journey of my life, I became bitter and I really struggle with that even today. I’ve found that bitterness and anger just taste bad but it’s like that ridiculously sour pickle that you just can’t stop eating even if it causes you to make that stupid face. You know what I’m talking about? (Oh and you parents that do that to your kid and get a laugh out of the faces they make oughta be ashamed of yourselves…just sayin’)

So, back to it. A couple of years ago, I got woken up to what was really going on in this place we call the world. The eyes of my heart and soul were opened to some very stark realities. There is an enemy out there and he hates me and wants to destroy me. And you. I am, of course, talking about Satan. So when I was woken up to this fact, it was a little shocking I must admit. I mean, I was raised in the church so it wasn’t like I didn’t know the Bible. I just didn’t take some stuff in there very seriously apparently. Like the part where Peter says for us to be aware that our enemy “prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

So along comes Jesus and sets my heart free. He shows me what real life is like and helps me begin to get rid of all that crap that was weighing me down. He takes me into my wounds, all those scars I carry and begins to heal me with Love and Mercy. And some of that hurt…and still hurts, ‘cause the healing isn’t finished. He also told me this was going to get a little nasty but what He didn’t tell me was that, with His help, I had just painted a target on my chest for that little punk Satan and his band of trouble-makers.

Boom! Along comes attack after attack…lust, anger, bitterness (my old friend), relationships falling apart…and the list could go on. (And I sometimes suck at fighting these) Jesus didn’t warn me about that. Or did He? Didn’t He say something about that to His disciples, warning them that the world would hate them because they hated Him first? (That goes back to the whole not taking the Bible seriously) And it’s not just the world. The world only does what Satan tells it to do, only makes the choices it chooses to make.

Fine. Apparently I was warned.

But really? I suppose I should have listened to my brothers in Christ who warned me, heeded the words of Jesus. After all, why would Paul tell us in Ephesians to “put on the armour of God” if we weren’t going to be in a fight? So I should have listened ‘cause here’s the thing: I’ve discovered that we don’t get to just be neutral observers (sorry Switzerland). We have to pick sides here. Either you are with Jesus or you are not. If you’re not, then Satan probably won’t spend a lot of time on you. You’ve made your choice. If you’re with Jesus, you are going to get blasted. Get ready; it’s coming in some form or another.

Ever reminisce and wish it was “the way it used to be”? Ever hear that old saying, “Ignorance is bliss”? I must beg to differ. Ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is willful blindness. Don’t be willfully blind. You know there is something else out there other than your own little bubble, you just don’t want to admit it. Hey, I’m not crazy about having a target on my chest either but I’ve made my choice so I guess I better strap it on and get ready for a fight.

My choice is Jesus.

What’s yours?

Monday, April 11, 2011


I wonder if you know the desert. I wonder if you know the dry times when the soul feels cracked, parched, barren. I know those times. I have learned that to walk with Jesus means that sometimes I will be lead into the wilderness. Those wilderness times, desert times are times of purification. The problem is I tend to gripe at my Savior rather than listen and learn. After all, who wants to be hot, sun-burned and thirsty when the Giver of Life-Giving Water is standing beside you? Who wants to stand in the hot, sandy desolation of silence when the Author of Peace holds your hand?
Recently I have been in the desert. My time with Him has seemed dry and fractured, leaving me grasping at Him, whining at times. “Lord please, speak to me. What do you have to say to me today? Why can’t I feel You?”

You know, questions like that.

I don’t think it is the questioning He minds. I think it is the attitude with which we question. Why does He owe me anything in the desert? After all, isn’t He there with me? What more do I need?

Today, I went to church. The worship band at the church I’ve been attending is a scruffy-looking bunch of dudes with long hair, scruffy facial hair (except the lead guy who has an epic beard) and tattoos. Needless to say, I like ‘em. I dig ‘em. My kinda people right there. But those dudes clearly love Jesus and love to worship. So, we’re listening to some rowdy worship music played really loud and it happened.

He spoke.

He spoke to my heart at first without a word. I felt His embrace, those mighty arms around me; holding me close to whisper in my ear, “Is this what you had in mind? You just need Me and My Love. Let the rest of it go.” And His love poured over me like rain. And my heart soaked up the rain of His Love like the thirsty, dry place it was.

Oh how He renews our hearts in times of need!

Look around you. He is there, pouring His love like rain into your heart. Only trust Him when the quiet times come. He is with me, with you.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Psalm 37 prayer

“Trust in the Lord and do good…”
“Take delight in the Lord…”
“Commit everything you do to the Lord…”
“Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act…”
“Put your hope in the Lord…”
“Travel steadily along his path…”
- Psalm 37

What a word, what an honor! What peace, fulfillment; Life flows from these words! What would my life, my heart look like if…
If I trusted You?
If I took delight in You?
If I committed everything to You?
If I would be still in Your presence, at Your feet?
If I waited patiently for You?
If I put my hope in You?
If I walked steadily at Your side, following You as You call me to?

Would I become like You?
Would my heart change from darkness to light?
Would Your holiness, Your spirit become mine?

Oh Jesus. Father. Light of the world, Word that existed before time. I AM. Come Lord; come and make me whole!

Help me, Father, to trust You and do good!
Help me to delight in You, Jesus!
Help me to commit everything to You, Master!
Help me to be still at Your feet, my King, and wait!
Help me to put my hope in You, Savior!
Guide me as I walk Your path, Holy Spirit!

More, Jesus. More of You and less of me.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A prayer for today

The heavens proclaim Your glory, Lord.
The skies display Your craftsmanship.
Day after day the world You created continues to speak;
Night after night, it makes You known.
Nature speaks without saying a word;
its voice is never heard.
Yet the message goes out to all the earth,
And the words to the all the world.
You have made a home in the heavens for the sun,
It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after his wedding.
It rejoices like a great athlete eager for the race.
The sun rises and sets as You ordain and nothing can hide from it.
Your instructions are perfect, reviving my soul.
Your decrees are trustworthy, giving me wisdom.
Your commandments are right, bringing joy to my heart.
Your commands are clear, giving me insight for living.
Reverence for You is pure, lasting forever.
Your laws are true and each one is fair.
Your laws are more desirable than gold,
Sweeter than honey.
They are a warning to me and a great reward if I obey.
How can I know all the sin lurking in my heart?
Cleanse me, Lord, from these hidden faults.
Keep me from deliberate sin, don’t let them control me!
Then I will be free from guilt and innocent of great sin.
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You,
O Lord, my rock and redeemer!

-Taken from Psalm 19

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A prayer

Preserve me, O God, for in You I take shelter and refuge.
You are my Lord; I have no good apart from You.
The saints here on Earth and those who have gone before are my heroes!
Those who chase other vain, empty gods will be sorry.
I refuse to follow after them or even mention them to You, Lord.
You are my chosen portion and my cup;
You hold my lot.
I have a beautiful inheritance in You!
I bless You, Lord, who give me counsel;
In the night, You hold my heart and instruct me.
I will set You always before me.
Because You are with me, I will not be shaken.
And so my heart is glad and my soul rejoices;
My body also is secure.
You will not abandon me to this hell on Earth.
You make known to me the path of Life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy!
At Your feet are pleasures forever!

-Taken from Psalm 16

Thursday, January 20, 2011


I want more of You, Jesus.

More of Your love,

Your sacrifice,

Your grace,

Your mercy,

Your compassion,

Your heart,

Your holiness.

I want to know You to a depth that is inexplicable. I am desperate for You!
I love You, Jesus. Help me to love You more!

To fall,




Dream through me, Lord. Dream Your dream in my heart and make it my dream.

I know You want all.

It is Yours.

I want all as well; all of You.

I want Your holiness, Your peace, Your love.


Monday, January 10, 2011

There are days

There are days that God is different with me.

Some days my Teacher. We sit in silence as He pours truth and wisdom into my heart and soul. Those are days of deep learning and growth.

Some days my Friend. We walk the path of life together, laughing, telling jokes, hanging out, completely comfortable in each other’s presence. There is breadth to those days of true companionship.

Some days my Comforter. Tears, pain and life beats me down. He is there to hold me, wipe my tears and assure me of His providence. Those are days of healing.

Some days the Lover of my soul. I find myself staggered by Beauty, enraptured by the touch of His hand on my heart, blinded by tears of bliss, raising my arms to be held by a true Lover. Moving me with indescribably beauty, those are days of joy.

Some days a King. We draw swords together and fight against the enemies of the Kingdom, against the darkness that wages war against all we hold dear and true. Kneeling at the feet of my Warrior King, those are days of honor.

Some days my Father. Sitting at His feet, He loves me as a son, guiding me, showing me how life is to be lived. Those are days of closeness, mentoring.
And in all days, He is Jesus.

My Savior.

The One who came for me in my darkness.

The One who rescued my heart and set me free to be who I really am, a son of the Risen Lord!

Jesus is His name, the unspeakable beauty of holiness!

The One who was and is!