Author Archives: b.rizzle

the imitation game//part 2


“You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings…”
2 Timothy 3:10-11a

As if Paul saying “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1) isn’t convicting enough, here he points out specific areas Timothy has been imitating.  It’s important to note that Paul has just finished describing how the world would progress in the last days while opposing the truth of God.  Just take a moment and read the beginning of chapter 3.  It’s a pretty accurate description of godless humanity living for itself.  And it’s very relevant.  It includes actions that are openly defiant of biblical morality, people who cannot be satisfied, abusers, the arrogant, and even those who have the appearance of godliness but will not surrender to the power of the Holy Spirit and actually live it out.  People who are following the world and seeking it’s pleasures.

But Timothy, on the other hand, is following a different example.  He is following the example that he has seen Paul.  We can see clearly in scripture that Paul, Silas, and Timothy spent much time together.  So, Timothy has seen the real Paul and he has seen Paul live opposite of the world in each of these areas.

So now I ask my self, “Would I want my kids, my disciples, to follow my example in each of these areas?”

My teaching?  Sure. I try to always teach and counsel from the Word of God.  I think I’m pretty confident here.

My conduct?  Uh…well…um…eeee….I think I’m a pretty good example…most of the time.  But as I say that, events and actions are running through my head that I wouldn’t want my kids imitating.  Dang.  That one’s out.

My aim in life?  I feel pretty good about this one.  In general, I do seek to Glorify God in all that I do. However, there are definitely times when my attitude is influenced by a more worldly focus and especially when it involves self-preservation or future security.  Well, this one is suspect.

My faith?  I think so.  Again, I put the bible forward on this one.  But am I teaching it faithfully?  Do those around me, especially my family and friends, really know what I believe.  Have I been faithful to disciple and pass on the Word of God.  Man, I’ve got to remember that these things have to be modeled to be imitated.

My patience?  Crap.

My love?  Pass.

My steadfastness?  At first glance, I think I endure pretty well.  But the real definition of this one in it’s original language is “cheerful endurance.”  Oh, you mean I have to be a good example?  Ug.

My persecutions and sufferings?  Living in America, I’m afraid I don’t have many Paul-like examples to pull from.  My sufferings are in no way a comparison to Paul’s or even most of the rest of this world.  But even at that, my reactions to trials and suffering leave little to be imitated.

Wow.  So, I thought I was doing pretty good until Paul made this list.  It’s a convicting read for sure.  We will never be perfect at it, but it is a great aim.  It’s great to make this a matter of prayer.  We can add to it Paul’s encouragement to in his first letter to Timothy, chapter 4 verse 12,”…but set the believers and example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”  That’s a pretty exhaustive list.  And it’s God’s will for our lives in Christ.

So, how are you doing in these matters?  Take some time and meditate on it.  Let the Holy Spirit guide you and speak to you.  And when you’re ready to admit your own failed efforts, you’ll be ready to join me, Paul, and all the other God seekers out there in surrendering to His power to do it through us.  We’re all failures needing a perfect Savior to pick us up and show us how it’s done.  Oh yeah, He’s the one we’re supposed to be imitating anyway.


the imitation game//part 1


So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.
1 Thessalonians 2:8 (ESV)

For many years now, I’ve been challenged by the imitation factor in Paul’s discipleship example.  He charged the Corinthians twice in his first letter to them to imitate him.  How bold do you have to be to encourage people to imitate you?  What kind of life you need to live to make that sort of challenge?  In his second challenge he added to it, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” 1 Cor 11:1 (ESV).  So, there you have it.  The heart of discipleship.  It’s not so much having a good curriculum to teach or the best scripture memorization strategy.  All of those things are good.  But discipleship has to be much more.  It’s sharing life together.  It’s living a life seeking Christ and being able to say, “Imitate me as I follow the ways of Jesus.”

Many people shy away from discipling others because they don’t feel qualified.  I know the feeling well.  I’ve pondered the question many times wondering what I have to teach, what I have to share.  But, if you are a seeker of Christ, the best thing to do is to be willing to open up your life to others.  Be willing to let them see your successes and failures, your dirty laundry, you discipline your kids, and maybe even a marital spat.  Be honest and real.  Admit failure and demonstrate grace.

Seek Christ and share your life.  Paul, Silas, and Timothy did this with the Thessalonians.  In 1 Thessalonians 2:8-12 Paul says that they shared not only the Gospel Christ with them, but also their very lives; living an example before them while sharing the gospel and encouraging them to live a life worthy of God.  They lived the example and shared the truth of Christ at the same time.

Sure, there is heavy accountability with this.  That’s part of the process as well.  Sharing our lives with others challenges us to grow and be diligent as well but it’s not about being perfect.  You think Paul was perfect?  Far from it.  In fact, Paul was open about his ongoing struggle with sin in Romans 7.  Be real.  Be open.  It’s called community.

Live to be imitated as you imitate Christ.

ministry update//coffee and a house?

It has been a whirlwind week. We traveled to Gadsden, AL to reconnect with some dear friends and share about our ministry. It was a blast! We had worship with some great musicians who love the Lord, wonderful fellowship, and amazing coffee! The next time you’re in Gadsden do hit The Coffee Well. It’s worth it. Best mocha frappuccino I’ve ever had.
Then, we rose early on Sunday to make a “quick” trip to Crestview, FL to look at a house. Sounded easy enough. Leave Gadsden at 7:30am. Arrive in Crestview at noon. Look at house. Leave by 1:30pm. Be back in Cape Girardeau around midnight. And it would have worked…except Kate got a stomach virus. So, with her blessing, we loaded her up on Imodium and Zofran and made the trip. Only, we got back to Cape at 4am instead of midnight.
It may have been worth it, though. The house is amazing. It’s a foreclosure that is in great shape and at a nice price. So, we made an offer today and wait to see how God will move in it. Now, that may not sound like much, but it’s a huge step of faith for a family that is only about 25% funded right now. We believe that this is God’s plan for us and He will provide what we need.
So, now we just have to be patient and wait and see. Oh yeah, and get better…Sonya caught the stomach virus!  I’ll spare you more details.
If you want to know more about our ministry or how to support us click here.

Crisman ministry transition FAQs

Hey everybody,

Because of the nature and length of our ministry transition there seems to be some confusion.  Not bad confusion, just general confusion.  Have we moved yet?  When are we gonna move?  Will we live in Africa? Stuff like that.  So, I thought it might be a good idea to put together a little FAQ post.  It may not be the only one.  As questions arise I will answer them on this site so that others with the same questions can get answers.  I will also maintain a full FAQ page in the top of the page links. If you have any questions or are interested in supporting us email me at


1. Have you moved yet?

No. We are still in Cape Girardeau until (see number 2). We sold our house in just three weeks and moved into Lynwood’s mission house. Therein lies the confusion.

 2. When will you move?

The simple answer is that we will move when our monthly sponsorship commitment equals our monthly financial need as we will be fully self-supporting missionaries. However, we sense the need to move in late May or early June for several reasons. We are working on that timeline and trusting God to provide. As He has called us to this ministry, we believe God will move in the hearts of His people to supply our needs through monthly giving.

 3. What determines when you move?

Again, the final determining factor will be our monthly support commitment.

4. What if I can’t give much?

We are not looking for just a few “big donors.” We are praying for God to give us many team members so each monthly gift of any size makes a huge difference. If everyone who received a letter gave just $25 per month we would already have more than our monthly need. Also, there are several ways to partner with us. We need prayer partners who will walk with us through this ministry. The Commitment Card can also be used to join our prayer team and to sign up to receive updates from us.

 5. How can I give to your ministry?

There are two ways to give:

1) The most economical and convenient way to give is through monthly automatic debit – you can fill out and submit the  the Commitment Card and ACH Debit Authorization Form by sending them to the address below, emailing them to, or calling Amy Bishop at 850-678-9008.

2) You can send a check made out to Heart of the Bride with a note designating your gift to Crisman Support to

Heart of the Bride
P.O. Box 786
Niceville, FL 32588

6. If I feel led to give when would giving start?

Anytime. When you send in your commitment a member of the Heart of the Bride staff will contact you to discuss that. If you call to set up your commitment then the process goes a little faster. You can begin giving now or when we officially transition to Heart of the Bride. All gifts given now go into our support account to help us move and get set up in Florida.

7. Will you live in Africa?

No. We will live in the northwest Florida near the Heart of the Bride home office in Niceville, FL. Brian will travel from there to the various Heart of the Bride ministries throughout the world.

 8. What is that scary statement at the bottom of your support letters?

For contributions to our support to be tax deductible the IRS requires that Heart of the Bride be in control of the funds. That statement reflects Heart of the Bride’s compliance with the IRS.   All funds donated in our name will go into our support account.

All documents you would need to join our support team as well as instructions on submitting them can be found here. 

More information about Heart of the Bride, including a statement of faith, foundational values, and information on individual ministries, can be found at

20 years

20 years.  That’s how old we were when we got married.  Just kids!  Many suggested we wait until after we finished college.  But we knew that wasn’t God’s plan.  We prayed and sought Him together and knew it was the time.

20 years.  That’s how long we’ve been married today.  1 wedding, 4 apartments, 4 houses,  5 cities, 2 college degrees, 3 long years in seminary, 5 children, 5 OBGYNs, 5 full-time ministries, 6 cars, 1 minivan, thousands and thousands of miles driven, 1 incredible wife, and 1 husband blessed beyond degree.  Good start.

20 years ago today.  I woke early.  Had breakfast at the hotel.  Then golf with my father and brother.  Lunch with family and friends at Ruby Tuesday seemed innocent enough until one of Sonya’s bride’s maids informed us that she was there too!  Yes, we were all traditional with the not seeing the bride before the wedding thing.  Loved it.  Loved that Sonya got shoved under a table as we walked in.  It’s so much fun.  Months before we rejected a photographer because they wanted to take all the pics before the wedding.  Nope.  This is too much fun.

Then, taking all of our stuff for an early check-in at our hotel.  O.K.  This is were I messed up.  Several out-of-town friends from my Continental Singers days had come in for our wedding, including an old girl friend.  They were all with me when I picked up Sonya’s stuff.  I don’t think it would have had the effect it did if she hadn’t been trying to take a bath on her wedding day and run out of hot water.  I remember talking to her through the bathroom door.  But hey, just little bumps on an incredible day.

Before the wedding, the men all dressed in the Music Suite.  Why does the bride get a Bride’s Room and the groom get a choir room?  Aaa, who cares?  Suddenly, I remembered that I left our rings in the suitcase.  You know, the one I’d taken to the hotel.  So, last minute hope-I-don’t-get-pulled-over-for-speeding trip to the hotel to get the rings, in my tux.  No problem.  Made it back in plenty of time.

Then, right before the wedding, they informed me that our cake had not arrived yet and not a call from the baker.  “Should we tell Sonya?” they asked.  No.  Don’t add that stress.  Turned out to be a good answer.  The cake was there for the reception no added stress on the bride.

I remember when they opened the doors.  Down the aisle was a woman so beautiful.  So stunning.  Her dress was perfect.  Wow, she was gonna marry me.  Her dad married us.  My dad was best man.  Her sister was matron of honor.  Many of our family and friends played and sang.  It was perfect.

I look at these pictures and think, “Wow, we were just kids!”

That is still the best groom’s cake I’ve ever had.  Chocolate heaven.

Right after this picture of us running to the car, someone, probably a kid, pelted Sonya in the face with an unopened bag of birdseed.  One of the bags we’d stuffed two nights earlier.  Lesson learned: pretty lace + bird seed + unsupervised child = dangerous projectile.

Off we go.  Not a clue.  But blessed beyond measure.

The best part: I wouldn’t change a thing.

Thank you, Sonya.  You are my best friend, my inspiration (insert Chicago song here), my wife, my mate, my partner in parenting, and my partner in ministry.  You are awesome.  I love you more now than ever before.  I love you with all of my heart and I can’t wait to spoil our grandchildren together, then go for ride in our red convertible Corvette.  Just the two of us old people making the young ones jealous.

Thank you God.  You are so good to me.


the adventure continues…

the big picture

Sonya and I have always referred to seeking God’s will and surrendering our lives to it as “this crazy adventure of following God.”  So far, it’s led us from Mobile, AL to Louisville, KY, through Little Rock, back to Alabama, and then totally out of the South to the Midwest in Cape Girardeau, MO.  In each step God has stretched and grown us.  I started out as a church orchestra director, became a Music Associate, and landed as the head cheese of Worship Ministries (possibly a new title for churches to consider?).  And now, the adventure continues.  But this time, it mostly likely will be our last big change.  The final adventure?  We don’t know for sure, but that’s our commitment.

For many years we’ve felt that we would end up in some ministry with Heart of the Bride.  And that is exactly what God is calling us to.  Heart of the Bride was founded by Sonya’s brother and sister-in-law (Tony and Faith Gibson) 14 years ago.  If you’re not familiar with it then please follow the link and get a sense of the scope of this ministry.  To say “orphan care” just doesn’t do it justice.  God has grown them into many more avenues than that.  It’s not surprising, need is everywhere.

Though we thought it was many years away, it wasn’t a total shock to us when Tony called us in September of 2013 to ask us to consider a position with HOB, though what he was asking may have been.  We’ve always imagined ourselves in Kenya as a missionary family, or at least some place like that where HOB is working.  But in the past few years our church has partnered with an HOB ministry in Kenya and our hearts are filled with a longing to be there (and perhaps swayed by a little boy we desperately want to bring back as a part of our family).  Maybe one day that will happen but right now the assignment is different.  Heart of the Bride is growing and there are many opportunities to continue growing.  Not just in size but in scope.  New roads to explore and people to touch.  It has reached a point that growth will not happen unless HOB gets more help.  More people.  More resources.  More US partners.  Well, we can help with one of those needs.  What Tony asked us to pray about was this: me coming on staff with HOB to help him do what he does.  To represent HOB around the US and the world.  To help develop and maintain partnerships.  And, more specifically, to develop and oversee the discipleship efforts of HOB around the world.  Heart of the Bride is driven by two huge biblical mandates: to help widows and orphans in their need (James 1:27) and to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20).

We feel that this next step in our adventure has grown out of two areas of our lives: 1) our growing passion for the rescue and care of orphans and widows through HOB, and 2) the key verse and passion of our worship ministry:

…those who seek the Lord will praise Him…

Psalm 22:26b

When God opened this verse up to us in 2006 it really changed the way we approached worship ministry.  No longer did we feel called to “charge” people up to sing.  We realized that we were called to lead people to seek God.  If we really wanted people to worship the Lord, then we had to lead them to know Him.  People who truly love God, who seek Him with all of their hearts, will gather and praise Him.  So, we began to pray and lead in that direction. From that has grown a passion for discipleship, both group and one-on-one.  And we have put it to practice.  Even gone through training with Downline Ministries out of Memphis, not knowing how God would ultimately put that to use.

And so, there it is.  I will be developing and overseeing the discipleship efforts of orphans in Kenya, Haiti, Zambia, Ukraine and India, street kids in Zambia, a boys school in Haiti, and all of the college students receiving HOB scholarships around the world.  And who knows what else is to come.  It’s a huge task and I don’t even feel up to it.  But God has called us and we will trust that He will provide everything, even the ability to accomplish His calling.

There is so much more to share about our journey from September to now – fasting and praying, our kids fasting and praying, how our kids have grown so much spiritually through the seeking, family circumstances that have spoken so clearly – but this post has to end some time and I’m sure you have things to do.  So, let me answer the big questions.


so, what does this mean for the Crisman family

When we are ready, we will move to the Niceville, Florida area where the Heart of the Bride home office is located.  I will work in the home office and travel to the various ministries around the world from there.  It is very different from what we thought God would ask us to do (having always imagined we would be on a foreign mission field together one day) and asks different sacrifices of us.  I will be traveling and Sonya will be home with our family.  We feel like this is a lifelong commitment.  We have grieved over stepping out of full time worship ministry, our heart’s greatest passion now for 20+ years. But we have all prayed about this and feel that it is what God wants us to do.  He is giving us a new calling and new passion, so, we accept our calling and we will go.

When we go is up to God.  We have to sell our home here in Cape Girardeau and raise all of our support.  There is no time table on this.  When our home is sold and God has provided commitment for all of our support, we will go.


how can you help?

Pray.  Please, pray.  Transitions like this are always hard.  This will be the hardest.  Our kids are older and more connected.  We feel at home in Cape Girardeau. We love our church and we love our pastor.  We have good friends and a ministry we love.

If you know of anyone in the Cape area that needs a 4 bedroom home in the Alma Schrader school district, send them our way.

If you would like to partner with us in this venture through prayer or financial support please contact us and let us know.  We will get you connected and keep you informed of what’s going on in our ministry.  You can email me at

I hope to begin writing on more in the coming months to help you follow our journey and keep you informed of what’s going on.


the biggest confirmation

The biggest confirmation from the Lord came in the things that make this place the hardest for us to leave.  Those reasons are also the things that make this the best place for us to launch into a new ministry like this: a loving and supportive Pastor, a body of Christ that supports missions and ministry around the world, good friends, and lots of love!

Thank you for reading and caring about our family.  We’re not sure of everything that is ahead, but we know it is God’s path for us.

For His Glory Alone,

Brian for the Crisman family



Sister Don’t Leave Me: an original musical

This is how the Crisman kids deal with the boredom of a day of doctor’s offices.  And it doesn’t matter if strangers pass by; they just become “extras.”