Thursday, August 17, 2017


Three things I know about our country and our world ... and Jesus

OK.  Let me start by getting the obvious out of the way first.  Racism bad.  Violence not the answer.  Hatred will not win.

Nope, don't really feel better.  So I want more than words. I want to do something.

So here is what the tragedy in Charlottesville reminds me.

Because I am a Jesus follower.

We are living in a fallen world.  There is hatred.  There is violence.  There is racism.  There is greed and immorality.  There is evil.  This is not the world God made.  We messed it up when we chose to listen to Satan.  Sin is everywhere.  So I am not surprised at what happened in Virginia or what will happen all over the world today.

Jesus is the answer.  When people follow Jesus transformation happens.  We get better.  We change into people more like Jesus.  So hate turns to love, violence turns to peace, and racism turns to brotherhood.  So where I am, it is different.  Where my family is, it is different.  Where Christians are, it is different.

So if you want to change things, make more disciples.  Tell the story of Jesus.  When you make a follower, this world changes.  There is another oasis of love, peace, and brotherhood.

You and I cannot change this world.  Not really.  Not by being nicer.  Not by expressing outrage.

But Jesus can.  He has changed me.  He has changed you.  He has changed people all over this world.
So be a disciple maker.

That changes this world.

Jesus is coming back.  And he will make it right.  Evil does not triumph.  And hate does not win.

Our world needs to know that good news.  Jesus died for the haters, the abusers, and the racists.

And if they hear of him, and if they believe him, they change.

Jesus followers love God with all we have and we love our neighbors like we do ourselves.

Jesus followers do not use the weapons of the world (violence, fear, evil).  We use the power of the Lord God Almighty.

And Jesus followers destroy racism.  The same blood of Jesus was shed for everyone.  We shared the same baptism.  And we have the same Holy Spirit.  We will live together forever.

Because we believe.

And that will change the world.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Our youngest grandchild, Austin, turned 7

Our youngest grandchild, Austin Ridgell, turned 7 a few days ago.  And here is why I love him and am proud of him.

He is happy.  Very happy.  Loves life.  Laughs.  Enjoys playing.  Excited to meet the day.

He talks.  A lot.  We had someone tell us a while back that he always talks... even when nobody is listening.  Mimi said I just like that because he is just like me.

Loves his family.  His parents, grands, siblings, cousins.  He loves all of us unconditionally.

The boy is fearless.  He will do anything.  Not scared of anything.

He is his own person.  He can play with everyone else.  He can play by himself.  And be happy either way.

He counts the cost.  He weighs out his decisions and sometimes decides the cost (read:  punishment or consequence) is absolutely worth it.

He loves Jesus with great joy and passion.  Loves to pray and sing.

Every family really needs an Austin.  Loves God, dogs, his family, and life.

So God thanks for Austin.  He brings a smile to our face just like he does to yours.  Protect him from danger and evil.  Use his gifts to do great Kingdom things.

Thursday, August 10, 2017


Our first grandchild Anna is 12...

Another milestone for our family.  Our first grandchild, Anna Ridgell, turned 12 last week.  Here are just a few of the reasons I love her and am proud of her.

She loves us... especially her Mimi.  Still not too embarrassed to be seen with her old grandparents.  Still runs to hug us.  Still likes to talk to us.

She is an outstanding student.  Very smart and makes excellent grades.  But even better, she is one of those students teachers like to have in their class.

Good athlete.  At this point in her life, she is focused on basketball and volleyball.  Very good at both.  I like watching her because she is also a really good teammate.

She is pretty and graceful.  Lots of things I value more but it is part of who she is.

She goes out of her way to tell Mimi and me how much she appreciates us when we do things for her.  Does't have to be told to be gracious and polite.

She is committed to being a Jesus follower.  Prays, reads her Bible, and tries to put it into practice as a believer.

You always wonder how it will be to be a grandparent.  Anna has helped it to be more than we ever could have imagined.

Love that girl.  And proud of the young woman she is becoming.

God, thank you for our Anna Claire.  We are proud of her, but more importantly I know you love her and are proud of her too.  Protect her and bless her.  Thanks for sharing her with us.  Do amazing Kingdom things thru her.  

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


What a crazy ostrich reminded me about Jesus and life...

It was a fun ride through a wildlife park with our grandkids.  The grandkids were especially enjoying getting to feed the animals.  They would come right up to the car and even eat cubes out of tour hands.  Everything was wonderful, until the ostrich showed up.  There were several of them and knowing a little of how aggressive they could be… we were careful to drop the food pellets out the window instead of holding the food in our palms.
But there was one ostrich that was very aggressive and stuck his head right inside the driver’s window.  And that is where I was.  My grandson, Jake, was in the passenger seat and being a quick thinker, he decided to throw pellets at the ostrich.  He assumed it would be so interested in catching the pellets that it would move its head back to catch them.  So he threw a pellet.  Good arm, good accuracy, and no cooperation from the ostrich.  The food bounced right of its beak and back into the car.  On me.  Which led the ostrich to try and retrieve it. 
Let’s just say it is funnier now than it was then.
But I did learn a few things that reminded me of Jesus and life.
1.    Good plans well executed do not always turn out like you planned.  Things happen.  Natural disasters, economic downturns, sickness, sin.  All of these things change the best laid plans.  Which reminds me I am not in control.  And ostriches end up chasing food inside your car instead of outside.  Thankful to be reminded God is in control.
2.    People are who they are.  They do not always act like we want them to, or like we expect them to act.  They are being formed, shaped, and changed to be more like Jesus.  And that is messy.  Sometimes they revert to old patterns.  Or temptation ambushes them.  An ostrich is an ostrich and behaves like one.  People are people, and they act like it.  Only Jesus can change them.  Just like he changed us.
3.    This world is not our reality.  The whole idea of a wildlife park is not real.  That park has fences, animals are separated, and the whole thing is fenced in.  We rode through the park with dozens of other cars, feeding “wild” animals out our window.  It was not real.  This world is not our reality either.  It seems as if evil is winning and Satan is in control.  Not true.  Jesus has overcome all the powers of darkness.  He has even defeated death.  He is on the throne and someday will come back to take us to our real home.  I need to remember that.   
So I was reminded by a crazy ostrich that I am never really in charge, that people are messy, and that this world is not my reality.  
I need that lesson. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


Avery Grace is 10 today...

My Granddaughter, Avery Gilbreth, is 10 today.  Here are just some of the reasons I love her and am so proud of her.

She loves her family.  Her Mommy and her Mimi are her best friends.  She loves her Bubba Jake.  Loves her cousins.  Her family really are her people.

Fun happens when the Ave is around.  Laughter, joy, good times.  She wakes up happy and stays that way.

She is amazing with the younger girls that follow her around at the ballpark.  She has a little posse of girls that hang with her.  They play slime, she talks to them, she has time for them.  She's their friend and is a great role model.

She loves animals.  Her heart is tender and she wants to adopt -- and sometimes does adopt -- every stray animal she sees.

Great athlete.  Gymnastics is her sport.  State champion.  Fearless, hard working, fierce, and loves to compete.

She loves to help.  Helped me put in the garden this year.  Helped Mimi do the VBS teeshirts.

Does not speak bad about people.  Even when they are not kind or good.

Is friends with everyone.  Money and popularity do not matter to her.  People do.

But most of all, she loves God and Jesus.  I do not know what the future will be for Avery, but I do know it will involve great things for the Kingdom.

I love you Avery Grace.

So thanks God for Ave.  Keep molding her into a disciple of your Son.  Protect her from evil and do amazing Kingdom things thru her.  

Thursday, July 13, 2017


Some of my Shepherds are no longer elders...

It started with my grandson Jake a few years ago.  He was in the hospital with a scary case of Kawasaki disease and some of our elders came up to pray over him.  Some time later he saw one of them in a restaurant and asked his Mom if he could go say hi to one of his elders.  He still refers to him as his elder.  But this man is no longer an elder at our church.  Due to some family issues, he resigned.  But Jake still thinks of him as his elder.  And if Jake was in trouble, I believe he absolutely would talk to this man.

So he is still his shepherd tho he is no longer his elder.

And I have realized I have men that are no longer serving as elders that I definitely consider my shepherds.  These are men that resigned for different reasons.  Some felt they needed to "retire" and let others be elders.  Some had family situations that required a great deal of time.  Others decided the church politics were not worth it.  But at one time, our church selected them to serve.

I recently made a list of men I would call if I needed real shepherding.  Not men who would make decisions, but real elders.  Men who lived like Jesus, who knew Scripture, who had faithful families.  Men who could be elders.  I also have a number of friends that I trust but who for various reasons would not be elders.  But I am thinking about elders who are not listed on the website and don't come to the meetings.  But who our congregation very much recognizes as shepherds.

So my list of real shepherds was about 50% men who are currently elders and about 50% who no longer hold that title.

This blog has no agenda to change our church structure.  I am not advocating having elders to decide things and shepherds to take care of people.

It is more my realization that the men I would trust to get my family to heaven, the men I do trust to get my family to heaven, are still my shepherds.  Just not all of them are elders any longer.

I am not the only one who feels this way.  I often ask people in crises to tell me other elders they would like to work with me to help them thru the current struggle.  Often they list elders, and often they list men who used to be elders.  When I point that out, they often ask if they can still get them to help.  And we do.

Shepherds who are no longer elders.

I am thinking a lot about this lately.

And have no idea where I am going with it.

Just thinking out loud.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


God did an amazing thing 17 years ago...

It actually occurred on July 1 but this is the first chance I have had to write about it, so congratulations to my son Joe Don and his wife Jamie.  They just celebrated 17 years together.  And it is a God thing.  Here are just a few of the reasons I love them and are proud of them.

They are still in love with each other.  You can see it and know it if you spend any time with them.  They work to make time for their relationship.  They have fun together.

God is absolutely and without a doubt the center of their home.  They read Scripture, they pray, they give generously, they open their home.  They are deeply involved in their church.

They are raising three amazing kids (yes I know they are my grands and if you want to know why they are amazing, check out my blog on their birthdays).  They both work hard at parenting.  They support each other.  They do family mission trips.

They are better together than they would be apart.  They give God the glory for what happens in their life.  They can discuss, disagree, hold each other accountable, and do it in the context of love and submission.

Joe Don is a leader and Jamie is his partner.  And they both put God first.  And they both put the kids third -- after God and each other.

They are doing some great Kingdom work.  People are going to be in heaven because of what they have -- and are -- doing.  This world is better because God put them together.

I am so proud of them and love them so much.

Thanks God for connecting Joe Don and Jamie.  You get the credit and the glory for what they are doing in the Kingdom.  Keep blessing them and their family.  

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