The Cost of Commitment

Commitment to anything requires cost. It requires sacrifice. Some people say yes far too often and over commit themselves and then have a difficult time paying the cost and making the required sacrifices. But some don’t ever want to commit to anything because they don’t know if it’s worth the sacrifice. 

If you are a true follower of Christ, you have the Holy Spirit guiding you.  

Meditate on Scripture, and spend time in prayer. Also, seek wise counsel from your church body. 

Rely on God to show you what is worth the cost of your commitments, and don’t sign up for something unless you are willing to sacrifice for it—your time, focus, and finances. 

Pledging to commitments provides you special opportunities that add significant value to life, and those who always run from commitment will miss out on many of those deeper blessings. 

Angel Entertainment

It was when I was a little boy. I remember looking at the enamel pins that were attached to a black cardboard. Some were sporadically missing, but many were still left. It was the first time I can recall seeing a skull with wings attached to it. I remember these pins because they did not fit in with my family’s style or character. Later, I found out why.

My nanny and papa used to rent and operate a small restaurant near the bottom of the Grapevine. If you’re familiar with driving through California, you’ll probably recall the dangerous highway as it descends down from the mountains into the valley where Bakersfield resides. The difficult drive is infamous to truckers, and there are a few emergency pull-off areas for when trucks burn through their brake pads.

My nanny told a story about a trucker who came in hollering that he wanted to buy the best steak in the house for another trucker who pulled in front of him when he lost his breaks and slowed down his big rig with his own truck, saving his life—a selfless hero who would go his own way on the road and soon become forgotten.

My nanny told another story that stood out to me even more. One day she looked out the restaurant’s door to see three men standing out in the cold. She could tell that they were migrant workers and hungry.

She hollered out, “You guys want to come in for some food on the house?”

The three men nodded thankfully and followed her in.

My nanny went in the back and prepared three large plates overflowing with food. When she carried them out and sat them on the table, the men’s eyes stretched in hungry anticipation. She noticed that one man was missing.

She asked, “Is your friend in the restroom?”

The men looked at each other a little confused. One apprehensively answered, “What friend, miss?”

My nanny replied, “There were three of you. I saw three of you come in. That’s why I made three plates.”

The same man replied, “Sorry, but there’s only two of us.”

My nanny continued, “No, I saw a third man with you.”

He responded a little confused and maybe even a little spooked, “It has just been me and my friend here the whole time.” The friend nodded sincerely.

My nanny believed she entertained an angel that day. I believe it too. I know it’s odd to talk about seeing angels when we are encouraged to be critical thinkers bound to the realm of whatever is directly in front of us, which is normally our cell phone, but we really must speak and live as if Scripture is real, because it is.

Angels exist.

There’s a spiritual realm that’s just as real as anything we can see.

We have likely entertained a few angels and certainly have been in the presence of many.

Let’s give them something good to watch—some quality entertainment as we demonstrate how awesome the love of God is through our daily lifestyle worship.

The Prophetic Dream

I’ve always had very visual dreams, and I usually remember them. As a little boy, some could even be classified as night terrors as I would wake up screaming, and my dad would rush in and hold me during such frightening episodes. Other dreams were just oddly nonsensical, and some were good, but a select few were prophetic.  

During my MFA program in visual art, an older, black woman named Tamara asked me one day after class, “Terry, do you have dreams?” 

I answered a little interested in her question, “Yes, I do.” 

She said without hesitation in her long, calm voice, “You know some are prophetic, don’t you?” She seemed to have a supernatural confidence about her words.

“Then why don’t they all come true?” I asked with polite scholarly criticism. 

She answered, “Some dreams take a lifetime to come true … some after that.” 

When I went back to my dorm area—they were called the mods at APU—I thought about the dream I had as a beginning undergraduate student. If any dream had ever been prophetic, that particular dream felt like a real vision from God. 

In between misguided college relationships while searching for the one, I had a dream. I was invited to my friend’s wedding, and it was out of town. Dressed up in wedding attire, I got into my car and pulled onto the highway to begin the distant journey to a location I had never heard of before. About an hour or so later, I followed the card stock printed directions from the wedding invitation and pulled off the highway to a regular road surrounded by more agricultural land. I followed the directions turn after turn until I found myself further away from anything that would resemble a wedding venue. I double checked the directions and continued to follow them apprehensively. Thousands of trees hid any sign of my location as they surrounded both sides of that two-lane road.  

Then I slowed as the asphalt faded into a dirt road.  

I stopped my car.  

Something had to be wrong.  

I pulled out my directions and recounted every turn. This was before GPS or smartphones, so I only had the card stock printed directions as my guide.  

I looked all around me, and due to the trees, I couldn’t see anything.  

There was no way my friend would have his wedding in the middle of nowhere, I thought. The logical thing to do would be to turn around and try to find where I messed up, where I missed or misread some sign or turn.

But something deep inside told me to just trust the instructions and have faith in something other than myself.

I started up my car to move forward on the dirt road. It wasn’t bad at first, but then my car began to feel each little divot and hole as I was jerked left and right.  

At this point I thought, well, I’ve already gone this far. I might as well keep trusting the directions. 

And I did, even though it was completely illogical. It made no sense. There was no way my friend would have chosen to get married way out here where people would have to take a dirt road that made you feel like you were on the King Kong ride at Universal Studios.

But then … I saw a turn come up. It was the next and last turn printed in the directions.

I took it.

The thousands of trees opened up, and before me was a small lake, a large pasture of green grass, rows of white folding chairs—the wedding venue.

I parked and walked up to be greeted by friends with excited smiles ready to celebrate a special occasion. Behind the flower-covered alter was the setting sun casting a radiant orange to pink gradient glow through the sky and reflecting off the water. It was the kind of sun that didn’t hurt to look at briefly, the kind that welcomed the cool evening and the awaiting stars.

I felt a special presence outside at that venue. It was God. And I already considered the analogy of following his directions even when life gets confusing and difficult, even when things don’t make sense.

My lonely natural self thought how nice it would be to have a girlfriend in such as setting, someone to just sit next to me and share such a glorious scene.  

But I decided to be thankful for what I had. I was there in the presence of God, in a holy place for a holy reason.  

Then I sense someone coming up behind me. I heard a voice behind my right shoulder say hello. It was one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard.  

I then felt an inaudible voice from within say, “This is her, Terry. Here’s your future wife.”

I turned to my right as I widened my eyes to see her with the most eager excitement.

It was my bedroom.

I was awake now.

And all I had was the sound of her voice still in my head developing into a lucid memory.

Even if I tried, I knew I couldn’t go back to sleep. It was unlike any dream I’ve ever had, and I knew no one would understand if I tried to explain it to them. I walked around my room for a bit, and then reached for my Bible for some sort of answer.  

I normally never condoned such Bible reading practices, but I opened it up to a random page desperate for a heavenly answer. I immediately read the first verse I saw. Proverbs 3:8: “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” 

Fifteen years went by of private mental battles about the authenticity of that dream until on a regular Sunday morning I heard the same voice again when she walked into Bible study.

And this time, it wasn’t a dream.

The Christmas Tie

There was an excitement in the crispy, cold air as students hurried through the halls of my junior high in their California-thin jackets the week before Christmas break. The two-week break was practically an eternity for us young teens. And there was also the excitement of the anticipated Christmas presents. Christmas always seemed to be the time when the best video games were released with the newest gaming consoles.  

I was in the 8th grade, and it was my first year in band. I was a drummer. And although many would say that it should be illegal to give junior high boys drumsticks, drumming was a great passion of mine, but since it was my first year in band, I wasn’t very skilled yet.  

The top band students got to leave school early the Friday before Christmas break to perform in a musical Christmas concert off campus, and boys had to wear ties and girls, dresses. Some of the nerdy band boys got all dressed up in tight dress pants tucked in too much, exposing their awkward transitioning junior high bodies. But not the drummers. They wore their dress shirts but tucked them into lose jeans, and their ties hung a little more casually and were bright with fun colors, some even rebelliously featuring cartoon characters. So somehow it became the cool thing to wear a tie on that last day of school before Christmas break.  

The night before the last day of school, I asked my mom around 8ish at night, if she would take me to get a tie to wear.  

Yes, I was one of those kids who waited until the last moment to tell my parents anything—my mother hated science fair projects.  

When I mentioned my tie request to my mother, I didn’t expect her to be all for it. I didn’t really need to wear a tie; I just kind of wanted to. My mom responded with enthusiasm, and we hurriedly hopped into our family’s minivan and drove to Mervyn’s because they were open later than most of the other clothing stores.  

She and I searched the large store as elevator Christmas songs placed in the background. It was the same Mervyn’s she used to take me to for back-to-school shopping when I was little, and I would hide inside of the giant clothes racks, the circular ones.  

My mother and I eventually found the perfect tie. It displayed the Looney Tunes characters with a Christmas theme. My mom bought me a dress shirt to match it too, and the next day at school, I was one of the cool kids … well, maybe not “cool,” but I stood out in a way that I liked.  

As a grown man today, happily married and with my own son, I understand my mother’s eager excitement during those short hours of late-night shopping, and to this day, that Looney Tunes Christmas tie still hangs in my closet with all my others.  

In many ways I have learned about God’s character through my mom. I didn’t need that tie, but she still blessed me with it. God does the same, and we need to remember all the blessings we have been given in our life—all the ties. 

New Christmas Novel Published on Amazon

I want to share my deepest appreciation to everyone who reads and shares my posts from Tripp Blog and supports me in my writing. I have not been writing on Tripp Blog as much lately due to being a first-time father and a doctoral student, but I have been writing books. My newest book is called Christmas Land: And Other Seasonal Stories. It’s a story that encompasses all of our popular Christmas mythology into one novel. Viewers can have fun finding references to Christmas movies, cartoons, songs, and stories from popular culture. This story is like a literary Where’s Waldo book. I specifically did not include the Nativity in this Christmas story because I did not want people to associate the true story of Christ’s birth with elements of playful popular culture.

Also included in this book are short, Christmas stories that pull at the heartstrings. I challenge you to try to read these without tearful eyes or a wistful heart. Here’s the main book summary:

After Cindy loses her grandmother, the young graphic designer in her twenties faces the yuletide season alone in the small mountain town of Timberton Heights. This Christmas will be unlike any other as she uncovers the magical land of Christmas. Classic legends meet modern day reality in this new seasonal novel of Christmas adventure that will help anyone get into the Christmas spirit. Terry Tripp’s collection of short stories touches upon the wistfulness of the Christmas season as they span the spectrum of human thought and emotion, leaving readers in a pensive state of awe. Tripp pushes his readers to meditate upon life, death, love, and family in these touching holiday tales.

Terry Tripp

I hope you enjoy this Christmas book, and I pray that it encourages you to reflect gently during this cold season while being moved to appreciate this very unique Christmas.

New Published Book on Christian Worship

I want to share my appreciation to all of you who read and share my posts from Tripp Blog and support me in my writing. I have not been writing on Tripp Blog as much lately due to being a first-time father and a doctoral student. My son is now five-months old, and I’m officially halfway through my doctoral program in worship studies. Although it’s an interesting time in our world, my wife and I are very thankful to be able to spend it together with our growing family.

I felt God calling me to write a book during my last doctoral class, so I did. It’s called Lifestyle Worship: 8 Roles of the Worship Leader. Here’s the preface:

The term “worship leader” is one that is commonly thought of as a person in leadership at a church in charge of musical worship. Although this is a true description, the worship leader can be anyone who leads others to worship God. A senior pastor is a worship leader. A church counselor is a worship leader. A Sunday school teacher is a worship leader. If we are followers of Christ, we should aim to help lead others to worship God, not just in the musical part of the church service but in all areas of life—living out lifestyle worship. Although this book focuses on the musical worship leader, the concepts in it can apply to many different areas where people lead others in lifestyle worship, as it discusses eight important roles to provide direction and encouragement with focus on the calling of being a worship leader.

Terry Tripp

I hope you enjoy this new book, and I pray that it encourages you in living lifestyle worship unto the Lord as a child of God.

The Vegabond

Vegabond

Adventure. It was a yearning that Shawn and I shared, and we would often take last minutes drives out of town. This time in life, Shawn was married with two little girls, and I was still single at age 34. I always thought I would get married at 27, but I was wrong.

Sometimes in life we are wrong.

I was in the middle of my masters in fine arts (MFA) in visual arts degree at Azusa Pacific University, and art was on my mind. There was an art show opening in Chinatown, which was one of the Los Angeles art districts at the time. Some of my APU professors were going to be there, along with two gallery owners who became friendly acquaintances.

Seeking last minute adventure, I texted Shawn, and we cruised down the 5 to Los Angeles on a Saturday evening catching up on all of life’s little details.

It was September 5th, and the fall season was introducing itself with the slight change of weather and the coming county fair with the anticipation of Halloween following shortly.

We decided to take a detour and check out a Halloween super store in Los Angeles. Shawn and I roamed down the towering aisles packed with all genres of costumes, yard decorations, masks, toys, etc. It was a world of make-believe awaiting the cooling season. We examined it all. I remember the swords. We took up the plastic weapons and wielded them in the middle of the aisle.

It was a short flashback to childhood.

And then we moved on to the couple’s costumes.

Examining all the different themes—some funny, some stupid—I told Shawn, “Someday I would like a girlfriend who would want to dress up with me for Halloween. Someone who I would want to dress up with too.”

Once again, I was 34, and I was beginning to wonder if I was being too picky about who I should marry. Some people would tell me, “You’ll just know when you meet her.” Others would tell me, “You can’t be too picky; nobody’s perfect.” I knew no one was perfect, but I still had expectations. I still had a list. And I felt that God told me to hold onto that list.

But I was 34.

Single.

I told Shawn, “Maybe I need to ignore a few items on my list and just get married already.”

I could tell Shawn was in a difficult place to answer; he wasn’t for sure what to tell me.

Back on the highway through the downtown city lights, we arrived at the art show. We viewed colorful art, ate authentic Chinese food, but mainly talked to a bunch of different people. I made some helpful contacts in the LA art community, and we called it a night.

At one point of the night, Shawn took a break from the gregarious groups of art enthusiasts and wandered around the area to capture some creative photos. Shawn had a deep passion for photography. Later, he showed me one of his photos and tagged me on Instagram. He titled it, “The Vagabond.”

Honestly, I had to look up that word: “A person who wanders from place to place without a home.”

I appreciated the photo.

It was me taking a break from the crowds.

By myself.

Blurry.

The late drive back to our hometown was long and full of tiring thoughts: I need to just commit to a decent girl. I’m being too picky. I’m not going to meet a girl who fits every expectation on my list.

I wrestled with my newly found conclusion on my way to church the next morning.

I walked up the stairs to my Bible study life group.

I went in and greeted everyone with a smile, trying my best to be encouraging.

I opened up the Bible, and we started reading.

Verse by verse we studied and discussed the Word of God.

Then she walked in—the complete list.

I knew I was no longer a vagabond.