Thursday, May 12, 2016


Stop using God as an excuse to marry someone else

It is something I am hearing more and more these days.

I am hearing it from Christians that should be more mature.

I am hearing it from Christians that should know better.

Christians are using God as an excuse to end their marriage.  And sometimes using God as their excuse to marry someone else.

You may have heard statements like these:

God wants me to be happy and I am miserable in this marriage, so...
Or God wants me to be happy and that will happen if I was with this other person, so...

My mate is keeping me from doing the ministry God has called me to, so...
Or, this other person would really be the partner I need to do God's work, so...

God desires happy marriages.  Mine is not, so...
God wants me to have a happy marriage like I would have with someone else, so...

My mate should help me get closer to God. Since they do not ...
This other person would really help me grow spiritually, so...

These are lies from Satan and they are not true.

Breaking up your marriage is not a spiritual decision.  Marrying someone else's spouse is not spiritual.

Stop defining happiness by what you think you want or what you think is best.

God wants you be obedient.  He wants you to live in ways that honor his Son and bring glory to him.

I know sometimes being faithful to God and trying to save your marriage is not enough.  Marriage is hard and sometimes Christians break their promises to God and to their mate.  Divorce happens and God hates it.  After all, it takes two committed to Jesus.  Not just one.  And I am sorry for those of you who never wanted to end your marriage but your mate did.  But that is on them.  It was not what God wanted.

So stop using God as your excuse to get out of a marriage you no longer want to be in.
Repent.  Be faithful to God's call.

I do believe this with all my heart.  When both of you are committed to God, your marriage will survive and thrive.  If you will not honor your current marriage, why do you think God will honor a marriage to someone else?

And I believe this.  When marriages end, someone has not been faithful to God.

There may be many reasons someone chooses to end a marriage and be with someone else.  But none of them are spiritual.  And none of them are what God wanted..  So if your mate ends your marriage, do not let them try to tell you it was God's will.  It was not.

You may fool yourself.  You may even believe the lie.

But that does not make it true.

Thursday, May 05, 2016


Mother's Day is a Great and Horrible Day

I love to celebrate Mother's Day.

I love to watch the Moms who obviously have warm, loving families to celebrate with.

I love the Moms in my physical family.  Marsha and I are blessed to have both our Moms still with us.  We talk and visit often.  They know we love them and they love us.

Marsha is an awesome Mom and Mimi.  She is great with her own family, and she has a whole group of younger women she has sort of adopted.  And lots of extra grands.  Spiritual Mom and Mimi.

Julie and Jamie are both passionate, loving, fun, spiritual Moms.

I love the church Moms.  Our church has incredible Moms.  Foster Moms, single Moms, Moms who adopted their kids, Moms who never had children of their own but have "adopted" kids all over their community of faith.  Moms whose kids and grandkids live far away so they love on all the rest of us.
I celebrate them all.  Mother's Day is a wonderful day.

And it is a horrible day.

There are some women who dread this day.  It hurts.

So I hurt this weekend for these Moms.

Those who have buried one of their children.

Those whose kids are in a far away country spiritually.

The Moms who do not have a relationship with their children.

The Moms who did not mother like they should have and live with that guilt and pain always.

The ladies who desperately want to be a Mom and can't get pregnant.  Or who have not found a mate.

The Moms who have sick kids:  physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

The Moms worried to death about things they cannot control.  Bad Dads, culture, friends.

So this Sunday be aware.  Celebrate with those who celebrate.  Laugh and share joy.

But if you know those who are having a tough time... cry with them.  Hug them a little tighter.  Say a prayer with them and for them.  Help them if you can.

So God thanks for our Moms.  Your really blessed our family and I know it and thank you for it.  And you have blessed our church family with some great Moms.  But help us see the hurting Moms that struggle.  Help us not just see them but to serve them in physical, emotional, and spiritual ways.  And help us remember Mother's Day every day.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016


Happy birthday Granny

Marsha's Mom, Jean Herttenberger, turns 88 tomorrow.  Here are just a few of the reasons I love her and am proud of her.

She has an amazing spiritual legacy.  Her kids are faithful.  But I especially appreciate her generational influence in my family.

She raised my wife.  Taught her to be an amazing wife and mother.  She has been a great influence on our Julie.  Helped Marsha teach Julie to be a strong woman.  Prays for Marsha and Julie as they raise Avery the same way.

I call them 1,2, 3, and 4.  Strong women.  Women of faith.

She includes lots of people in our family.  Her home has always been a place where everyone is welcome.

She is someone to cry with.  Her heart is huge for those who are hurting.

She loves Grandpa.  71 years a faithful wife.  Amazing.

She loves me as a son, not a son-in-law.

She has been a giver all of her life.  Taking care of others.  Now she needs taking care of .  I appreciate that she always thanks those who care for her.

She is one of those who models faith much more than she talks about faith.

Great example of a wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.

Daughter of the King.

Talks about wanting to go home and means it.  She is ready.

God thanks for Granny.  Thanks for all she has meant to our family.  Thanks for her love and faith.  Thanks for her example.  Thanks that she molded Marsha, Julie, and Avery to be like her ... and to be like You.  Give her peace and comfort.  You have done a good work in her.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


I finally figured out how to form faith in our kids...

I have been thinking a lot about how to shape faith among our young.  I am interested because I am an elder and we have a lot -- a lot -- of people under 18 in our church family.  I am interested because I have five grand-kids whose faith is being shaped right now.

It is no secret that I am proud of my two kids.  They are not perfect but they are faithful.  They love God.  So I started thinking about what it might have been that shaped their faith.

I want to be clear how much I appreciate Bible classes and youth programs.  I appreciate Youth Ministers and the programs they implement.  I am a big fan of good preaching and singing praises to God.  But I don't think it was programs and ministers that formed my kid's faith.

And we tried as parents to shape faith.  We prayed over Julie and Joe Don.  We tried to model grace, forgiveness, repentance, faithfulness, service, and sharing our faith.  I do think parents have more to do with shaping faith than anyone -- or anything -- else.  But parents need help.

So here is what I appreciate about how my kid's faith was shaped.

When they were little, I was a Youth Minister for a bunch of teens who loved our kids.  So did a lot of the parents.  And we did life with other couples trying to raise faithful kids.  Some that our kids don't even remember.  

Then I preached for a while at a small church in East Texas.  That church adopted our kids -- and us.  Half the time a teenager had our kids.  The rest of the time they were sitting with extended family.  Church was a fun and happy place for them.

I did campus ministry for a while.  Did life with the other families helping in that ministry.  And our kids knew a lot of committed Christian students.  Athletes who loved Jesus more than sports.  Kids hanging out with them.  Taking them to movies or to get snow cones.

And my kids spent lots of time with grandparents who loved Jesus.  Family church.  Prayer circles.  Lots of love.  Eating with them, showing up at ballgames, going to church.  We still have a four generation row at church even now.

Our kids saw a lot of real life.  Been going to funerals all their lives.  Seen who knows how many baptisms.  Devos at our house.  Heard lots of prayers.  Heard lots of Bible studies.  Lots of laughter and lots of tears.

So here is what I think I have figured out about forming faith in your kids.

Don't worry about the programs at church.  Quit searching for the perfect Bible school and youth program.

Instead, be sure your kids get lots of life sharing.  Be part of real community.  Have people you do life with for Jesus.

Be sure your kids have faithful grandparents -- their own or adopt some.

Get good role models in their life.  Older kids.  Teenagers and college age.  Help them find "their" elder.  Smart kids who love Jesus.  Musicians who love Jesus.  Athletes who love Jesus.  Cool kids who love Jesus.  Other parents who love Jesus.

So open your home for meals.  Or devotionals.  Have some people over.  Ask God to put people in their lives.

So here is my heartfelt thanks to all those families we have done life with,and all those teens and college kids who loved our kids.  And now our grands.  Thanks to faithful grandparents (and even great-grandparents) and extended family.

Be intentional about raising your kids in a generational faith community.

They will get it.

So thanks God for all your people who did life with us when we were raising Julie and Joe Don.  For those who know how important they were in shaping our kid's faith, and for those who had no idea.  Keep putting people in the lives of our five grands.  And help us all do that for the kids we do life with.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016


My wife is having a birthday...

Marsha turns 63 tomorrow, April 6.  Here is why I love her and am proud of her.

She doesn't care if you know her age.  She is comfortable with who she is.  I guess it helps when you do not look -- or act -- your age.  But I love that does not have an age hang-up.

She is fanatical about following Jesus.  We are talking to a college girl tonight about following Jesus.  Marsha set it up.  Working with a couple tomorrow night.  Marsha stayed connected to the girl through thick and thin until they were ready to talk about Jesus.  She touches people for Jesus.  Teaches Bible class.  Hosts showers.  Prays.  And she is one of the really good people I know.  She would say that is because of Jesus.  She is right.

Great wife.  I cannot imagine where I would be without her.  She has been the calm in our storm for over 40 years.  She keeps me grounded and focused.  She reminds me what matters.  And she still laughs at my jokes.

Great Mom.  For Julie and Bobby.  For Joe Don and Jamie.  Prays for our kids.  Loves our kids.  Helps our kids.  Their biggest fan.  Speaks truth into their lives.

Awesome Mimi.  Cousin Camp every year is one of the all time great productions.  Family vacation is all her planning and execution.  She finds time for each one of our 5 grands.  She is fantastic about Christmas, b'days, Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Valentines, and every other special day imaginable.  Supports their school activities and sports.  Prays all the time for them.

Loving daughter.  She is amazing with her parents.  Patient, helpful, supportive, and does for them so much they cannot do for themselves.  She is a true daughter to my Mom.  Calls, helps out, gives advice.

Amazing friend.  She has adopted daughters everywhere.  She is always available to talk to, cry with, laugh with, and give Godly advice for more women than I can count.

So happy birthday Mimi.  We hit the jackpot with you.

God, we are so blessed by Mimi.  Thank you for the gift of her love.  And we know that her love is just a reflection of your love.  Give her many more years to be about your business.   

Thursday, March 31, 2016


We better start listening to our old Christians

I have spent most of my life talking about Jesus and life with young people.  Mostly college students, but also high school and young adults.  I really have not spent much time with old Christians, but I am becoming more and more convinced we better start listening to our older saints if we want to have healthy, growing churches.

And yes I called them old.  Not senior saints, not 39ers, not even older.  Old.

And here is why we better listen.

I am rapidly becoming one.  Well, OK that may not be a good reason.  But I do actually think about what I have to offer the Kingdom and how that may change if God grants me another 20 or 30 years on this earth.  And much of what I am learning I am getting from old Christians.  And it is strong spiritual advice.

The Bible says to listen those who are older.  Read I John.  Or I Timothy.  Older men teach younger men.  Older women teach younger women.  Older widows on the ministry staff.  Elders teach the church.

Older Christians really care about the future of the church.  Not worship styles and making sure nothing changes.  I mean they really care about the generations behind them staying faithful to Jesus.  They want to see lost people saved.  Maybe it is more urgent because they have less time but they really care.

They understand priorities.  Most old Christians really are not afraid to die.  But being able to see death helps them focus on what really matters.  They get it.

Those of us who are younger need to see living examples of those that made it.  We need their stories of addictions defeated, marriages healed, and how God worked.  Those sweet, cute little old couples holding hands have weathered the storm.  And they made it.  They are living witnesses to God's goodness.

We need to hear how they made it.  What did they do to stay faithful to God?  What are the dangers maybe we do not see?  What would they do more of?  Less of?  What would they change?  What would they not change?

Their faith stories are inspirational.  There are great testimonies among our old.  We need them.

I know some old Christians get stuck in the past.  And some seem afraid to change anything.  Some of them act like a bunch of young, immature Christians wanting everything their way.

But not all of them.  Not even most of them.

We stand on their shoulders and we need to know how we got there.

They have seen it all and lived it all.  And they love God.

So find an old Christian to learn from -- and old may be someone twenty years older than you, or fifty years older.  But find them.

And then listen.

We better.

So thanks God for your old saints.  You have told us to let them teach us and we don't listen very well.  Help us to do better.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


How do you stay married 71 years?

Marsha's folks, Don and Jean Herttenberger, just celebrated 71 years of marriage.  Amazing.  I love them and am proud of them.  Here is my tribute and what I have learned from them about staying married.

Start young and grow up together.  They ran off when they were 16 and 17.  Made it pretty funny when they thought Marsha and I were too young at 20 and 21.  But here is the key.  Grew up.  They stuck it out.  I know enough to know there were times they could have quit.  Hard times farming.  Health crisis.  Family troubles.  But they stuck it out.  Didn't believe there was any other option.  For either of them.  They really did commit for life.  Taught us that all you need to make a good marriage is three:  husband, wife, God.

Faith carried them.  Grandpa converted Granny.  They have spent their lives loving God.  Raised their kids to love God.  Served others.  A lot of people have been fed by them.  Physically and spiritually.  Gave generously even when they did not have much.

They have a church family.  Showed up at Southern Hills the 2nd Sunday it existed.  Been there ever since.  Taught Bible classes, had people over, served as a Deacon, asked several times to be an elder, visited, showed up.  Were part of small groups, life groups, study groups.  Church friends.

Modeled love, forgiveness, grace, mercy, and faith.

They love family.  Herttenbergers are family people.  Uncles and aunts, cousins, grandkids, friends.  All showing up for birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and Sunday lunches. I watched them take care of their parents.  Now we kids take care of them.  Generational love.  They love their grands and their great-grands.

Pretty cool to get to be a Herttenberger.  And pretty easy to be part of their family.  God, Jesus, faith, and love.  Pretty well covers it.

I love Don and Jean.  Great role models for us, our kids, and our grands.  I have been their son for a long time now.  Blessed.

And of course, they gave me Marsha.  Best gift I ever got.  Well, except for my folks telling me about Jesus.

So God, thanks for Granny and Grandpa.  We have all learned a lot about you by watching them.  They are getting old now and I suspect their time here is getting pretty short.  They have spent a long time loving you, loving each other, and loving us.  Bless the rest of their lives here.  They taught us how to live in you and now they are teaching us how to finish strong in you.  And they will die in you. Then live with you forever.  So thanks for putting them together 71 years ago.  We give you the glory. 

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