A Little Every Day

One of the best kept secrets in life is that you can accomplish anything if you just do a little every day. 

Consistently wins over speed, skill, and even talent.  

But you need time on your side, so plan ahead, and be prepared to practice patience. Most people can’t see past tomorrow, let alone five years from now. Trust that God has good plans for you, and do your best to be ready for the future, but hold onto those plans with loose hands because we are not ultimately in charge; we submit to the will of our heavenly Father.  

It’s always easier to start something new than to continue in being faithful to something your have already started. 

Don’t let the excitement of new ideas override the commitment of old goals. 

The ordinary person starts many things but finishes only a few. 

Don’t be the ordinary person.  

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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. 

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Fun Days

Contentment comes when our goals and our callings line up. Work hard, but do not neglect good, innocent fun.  

Seek after it.  

The older you become, the easier it will be to quit chasing fun.  

Somedays you may prefer rest over fun, but if you give into rest too often, rest will over take your life.  

Rest begets rest, and fun begets fun.  

There will always be pressure upon you to work more and harder, but life is not just about your work. Your identity is not within what you do or what you will do.  

It is in who you are—child of God.  

And every good father wants his child to enjoy the things he gives him while practicing wisdom and having a thankful heart.  

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Scripture Meditation

When people think about meditation, they often think about yoga or some sort of new age spirituality where people meditate to clear their minds of everything. As Christians we don’t meditate to think about nothing but to think about truth—Jesus. We are called to the practice of daily meditation upon the Word of God.  

It may be challenging to have a daily in-depth Bible study where you look up the original Hebrew and Greek with several commentaries laid out all over your desk, so here’s a practical strategy for younger people to get into the habit of opening your Bible everyday.  

Search online for a good source to get a list of the top Bible verses to memorize. Print them out. Every morning start your day with looking up one verse. Mark it up in your Bible—make it messy. Read the verses that come before and after it. Then deeply think about what it means.  

This is meditation.  

Continue to think about it all day. 

Hide it in your heart.  

A lifetime of this practice will grow into a powerful spiritual discipline and branch out into other areas of your life as well.  

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Just Dance

Don’t ever be the guy who just sits while others dance. Don’t congregate around the punch bowl attempting to logically weight out the pros and cons. Don’t sit out to make small talk with some neighboring friend. And definitely don’t stare alone into the endless void of your glowing phone screen.

Dance! 

Don’t even think about it. Yes, you probably aren’t good at it, but it doesn’t matter. Be the guy who is secure enough in himself to simply have fun.  

Make life fun. 

Some will see your personality light up the floor and come join you. Others will want to but not have the confidence. They may applaud you afterwards in friendly encouragement or try to tear you down in deep jealousy. 

But no matter how tired, underdressed, or not in the mood, never let your girlfriend or wife dance alone. And especially don’t persuade her to sit it out with you. 

Your body was created to move. Use it. Don’t care what others will think about it. It is one of the greatest gifts you ever been given, and believe me or not, it’s fading quickly.  

So dance.  

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

Growing Up with OCD

Stressed on Chair

I remember it being silent.

Dark.

Cold.

So early in the morning.

Alone.

It took me two hours to get ready in the mornings when I was in junior high. I scrubbed my entire body with soap and hot water in the bathtub and had to finish rinsing off in the shower. I had to partially air dry after using my towel. My hair had to fall perfectly into place before I plastered it with hairspray. I used my mom’s old blow dryer to warm my feet before putting them in my white socks—I was once told that damp feet cause athlete’s foot.

The meticulous details were physically tiring, and the obsessions were mentally exhausting. I barely made it to school on time to face all the other difficulties of junior high school life. If any part of my arduous morning process went wrong, there was a good chance I was “staying home sick” that day.

I had obsessive-compulsive disorder.

But I was never diagnosed formally.

Before the sun came up one routine morning, I accidentally knocked the blow dryer off the bathroom counter onto the hard tile floor. As I hurried down to pick it up, my hand grabbed onto the loose part of the cord that attached to the handle.

I’m not sure if the lights flickered or not, but with a striking flash, something hurt my hand. I examined myself. Besides for a fading stinking pain, I was okay. I continued my extensive process of getting ready for school. For the entire school day, I smelled the awful stench of burnt hair.

OCD wasn’t talked about as commonly as it is today, so my parents didn’t really understand my behavior. They were concerned though and took me to speak to my junior high school counselor. In his office he asked me a lot of questions. He was a nice man, but overall, he didn’t seem concerned about my behavior. He just encouraged me to try to get to school on time and not miss so many days.

Later on I learned more about obsessive-compulsive disorder. My struggle even helped inspire me to major in psychology. I wrote my college senior paper on the effects of cognitive-behavioral therapy versus selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Reexamining my own mental health past brought some frustration about the interaction that took place with my old junior high counselor so many years ago. I felt he should have known.

Maybe he could have helped me.

Looking back at it all now, I realize that it was a true blessing that I was not formally diagnosed. I was never given medication for it. I wasn’t given a reason or excuse for my struggle. Instead, I was expected to work through it.

That’s exactly what I did.

I learned to truly analyze every compulsive thought to see if it were realistic or not. I asked myself, “Do I really need to wash my hands again?” “Will touching money really hurt my health?” “So what if my hair isn’t perfectly in place?” I then took baby steps to remedy my compulsive behaviors.

I’m not sure if it was just me figuring out how to properly think through my thoughts or growing out of my OCD tendencies with age or my parents’ new family routine of going to church.

I do know that with the prayers of my parents and grandparents, God helped me relearn how to think.

Another boy I grew up with who was a few years younger than me didn’t have the same success. His parents took him in and had him diagnosed. Then came the treatments—drugs. Then came the side-effects. Then came more drugs to help with the side-effects. This led to a 20-year, downward spiral. Today he receives a monthly check from the government and still depends on his parents for stability.

I’m not stating that drugs are always bad when dealing with mental health, but drugs as treatment alone are not enough. There should always be something else paired with pharmaceutical treatment.

Mental health is such a major topic today, and so is physical health. But what people forget to add to this conversation is spiritual health.

We are so much more than physical containers housing neurotransmitters, and understanding this will help us have a proper perspective on life.

We are a soul; we are spiritual.

We have a body.

An earth suit.

And it comes with an unknown expiration date.

Concerning mental health disorders, sometimes the soul is fine but the physical body, the brain, is off. Sometimes the physical body is off because the soul is off.

Does the world ever suggest healing the soul and helping the spirit?

Typically, no. Just more drugs. Or a different drug. Or maybe, yoga.

Let’s be thankful we live in a time where there are drugs to help the physical body, but let’s never forget that more than physical healing, we need healing of the soul; we need spiritual help.

There are times in my life when I still struggle with old OCD tendencies. They come more when I’m tired or experiencing a lot of anxiety, but as I did as a child, I continue to do today. I try my best to take captive each thought. I force myself to go to bed earlier. I enjoy a light jog around the neighborhood. I refocus my life in meditative prayer.

And things get better.

Everyone’s story is different though, but this is mine.

May we seek after God in his Word as we are guided by his Holy Spirit to find the reconciliation that comes through Christ, Jesus—the mighty healer who cares for all parts of us, including every obsessive thought.

 

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