Thursday, April 12, 2018


Hate the Sin ("eye roll" here) But Love the Sinner

Who comes up with these sayings anyway?  I cannot even explain what a trite sentence is, but I think this may be one.  Just say the first two words and everyone can finish the statement.  It is that thing that seems to make sense but it has been said so much that no one even understands what it means anymore.  It is that thing you say when you don't know what else to say. 

Love the sinner, hate the sin. 

But I get it.  I really hate sin.  I hate the sin in my life.  I hate the sin in the lives of my faith family.  I hate the consequences of sin.  Broken lives, broken relationships.  I hate the chains of guilt and shame that sin puts on people.  I hate sin because it separates us from God.

I am glad God sent Jesus to destroy, defeat, and forgive sin.  Broke the chains.  Restored our relationship with him. 

Because God loves the sinner.  So do I.  I love the sinners in my church family so much that I will do anything to help them to repentance and restoration when they have sinned.  I spend my life talking about Jesus to sinners.  Because I love them and I want them to have the same forgiveness I do.

I love sinners so much that they are always welcome in my house.  I hate sin so much that their sin is never welcome in my house.

Love the sinner.  Hate the sin.

And God help me to never get that backwards.  I never want to love the sin.  Never hate the sinner.

Hate the sin but love the sinner.


And that is why I think I will keep saying this over and over.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018


A Salute to my siblings: Jan, Phyllis, Donnie, and Richard

So today is national sibling day.  So here is a quick shout-out to my four siblings.

Jan Frank.  OK.  She is my sister, and the only blood sibling I have.  The first thing to say is that it was a good thing I was born first.  She was and is way smarter than me.  More popular, better looking.  Well, you get the picture.  Not someone I could have followed because everyone would have expected me to be more like her.  High expectations.  I admire her today because of the way she loves her family and her church.  I admire the way she works hard.  She raised three smart and talented daughters.  Love you Poo (Sorry, I had to throw in the nickname).

Donnie Herttenberger.  I got Donnie as a brother when I married Marsha.  There are a lot of things I appreciate about him.  Loves sports, loves Jesus, loves family.  But I really appreciate that he is a constant supporter and encourager of my ministry.  And he shows up at a lot of my grandkids activities.  Most of all I love him for being a faith fighter.  Love people that never quit on Jesus.  Love you brother.

Phyllis Herttenberger.   I got her too when I married Marsha.  Phyllis loves God and loves her family.  Doesn't have grandchildren so has adopted ours.  Shows up at games, keeps up with them, supports them.  I so admire her for the way she took care of her parents till they went home.  Love the way she takes care of my Mom and of her Uncle Jerry.  She does for people.  Love you Phyl.

Richard Blaisdell.  And everyone has that person that you grew up with who was not your sibling by blood but really was in every other way.  For me, that brother was Richard Blaisdell.  Met him when we were in the church nursery.  Best friends all the way thru.  College roommates.  Richard was, and is, the most consistent person I have ever known.  In lots of ways, he was what I really wanted to be.  It was probably hard for him to realize it at times, but I cannot imagine where I would have ended up were it not for his example and influence.  Great follower of Jesus.  Love you Blais. 

So thanks to my four siblings.  I wrote about you today, but truth be known ... I love, admire, and appreciate each one of you every day. 

Thanks God for the two I got to grow up with, and the two I got when you gave me Marsha.  Bless them and their families every day.  

Tuesday, April 03, 2018


So My Wife Has a Birthday Coming Up Friday

So Mimi Marsha is about to turn 65 on Friday.  Here is why she is awesome and I love her.

Age really does not matter to her.  She doesn't look 65 and she doesn't act 65.  But I love that she is not afraid, ashamed, or awkward about it.

She pours out her life for others.  She was a great daughter to her parents before they passed.  She takes care of my Mom.  Helps with her Uncle Jerry.  She spends a lot of time helping with our grands.  Loves to keep them, watch them, hang out with them.  She is a card writer, meal cooker, crises prayer for lots of people.

She gets what I was made to do and lets me do it.  I literally go all over the States (and a lot of the world) talking about Jesus.  That means I am not there for a lot of things that need doing.  So she does them.  She not only lets me go, she believes it is what I should be doing.

Our home is a great place to come when you are wounded.  And most of that is because of her.  She makes our home a place of Jesus, Bible, prayer, love, food, and hugs.  She sets that tone.

Jesus and family are the driving forces in her life.

But maybe the best thing I can say about her is this.  If you want to hear about Jesus, find me.  But if you want to see Jesus, find her.

It is true.

I am blessed.

So thank you God for Mimi.  Because of you she is a great daughter, wife, Mom, Mimi, and friend.  Continue to bless her and keep giving her the time and energy to make a difference in this world for your Son. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018


Sin, Sex, Love, and God

There has been quite a bit of discussion in my city of Abilene recently concerning Abilene Christian University and same sex relationships.  The conversation centers around questions like ... what is sin, how do you treat others, and how should a Christian University handle this situation?  Which sparked talk about what churches should do or what individual Christians should do. 

People ask me what I think.  So here it is.

Sex with those of the same gender is sin.  That is not always a popular position to affirm in our society.  Yet I am convinced the Bible teaches this.  And it does so emphatically.  Some will argue that Scripture should be interpreted based on our feelings, experience, and culture.  That the various verses addressing this issue were written for a culture then and there, not here and now.  But when something is identified as against nature, then it seems to be much bigger than a cultural argument.  So any discussion by Christians needs to be framed by what God's will is. 

But of course, homosexual activity is not the only sin mentioned in Scripture.  Or even the only sexual sin mentioned.  So let's not act as if this sin is greater than all others.  But it is sin. 

Christians are held to a higher standard concerning sin than are non--believers.  So I treat them differently.  Christians have committed to follow Jesus.  We are not perfect.  But we confess our sin and strive to live forgiven.  So we must speak truth into the lives of our Christian community and call fellow believers to live as Jesus would. 

And we must treat non-believers with love and respect.  But non-believers will not control my convictions about how God expects us to live.  Sinners are welcome in my home.  I associate with sinners.  I serve them and am friends with non-Christians.  But they are not my family. 

And their sin is not welcome in my church or in my home.  Non-believers living in sexual sin are welcome in our home.  But they are not welcome to bring their sin with them.  There are lines that I will draw.  They can disagree with me.  They can hate me.  They can speak ill of me.  And I will still be respectful and kind.  I will seek to have conversations about Jesus. 

Sounds like I am repeating that trite old phrase:  love the sinner, hate the sin.  And of course in some ways I am.  I also realize some Christians and church leaders will strongly disagree with me.  That is their right.  They do not answer to me for what they teach and endorse.

And I do not answer to them.  I do answer to God.  So I believe Jesus would have me ...

Live forgiven.

Love sinners.

Call my family and my church to speak truth.

Call Christians caught in sin to repentance.

Tell my world about Jesus.

And help those who decide to follow him to live forgiven.

Father thank you for sending Jesus to restore us to You.  Help me to reflect Your will in my life and in my teaching.  I am a sinner that is now your son, a brother to the King.  Let me show others that road.  

Thursday, March 22, 2018


I did it and I am sorry...

I am not even sure if I had started school yet.  I don't really remember stealing them, but I do remember what happened next.  And it was the beginning of learning how to live forgiven.

I am not sure if I thought I needed them, if I believed they would work in my toy gun, or if I just saw them and thought I should get them.  But I do know that we did not pay for them.

A handful of cheap, plastic bullets.  Could not have cost more than a few cents. 

My Mom found them when we got home.  Got home after the first trip to the store.  There was a second trip.  The one where I had to return them to the clerk at the check-out.  And apologize.  And promise to never do it again.  I couldn't just keep them.  I couldn't just go pay for them.  I had to confess and apologize.

And it was a great act of Christian parenting.  Because that was not the last time I ever did something wrong.  So here is what I learned about living forgiven that day.  And what I am still trying to live out in my life.

Some things are wrong.  Those things are not determined by how I feel about it, but how God feels about it.  Scripture is pretty clear about stealing.  And lots of other things also.

Own your sin.  Confess.  Not just that it was wrong, but that I did it.  No one made me.  No excuses.  It was wrong and I did it.

Repent.  I was sorry I had done it, but more than that I learned I had to do something about it.  I returned them.  Said I was sorry.  It was embarrassing and humiliating.  Sorta hurt my feelings.  But I learned that God's feelings were also hurt by what I did.

Forgiveness is real.  My Mom still loved me.  God forgave me.  It was all going to be OK. And God still loved me.

Do better from then on.  Don't do it again.  Be careful about temptation.

Most important of all:  I learned that what matters most is not always what you do... but how you react to what you do.

I still sometimes do things I shouldn't.  Or don't do things I should.  So I admit they are wrong.  I confess I did it.  I repent.  And I live forgiven. 

So thanks Mom for teaching me how to live in the grace of God.  Even when I didn't really understand it.

And thanks God for forgiving me for the sins in my life.  I am not worthy but always grateful.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018


Jamie Ridgell turned 40 ... and here is her tribute

Our daughter-in-law Jamie turned 40 last week and here is why I love her and am so proud of her.

She is not a daughter-in-law.  She is our daughter.  And one big reason is that she treats us like family, not in-laws.  She could not be more loving or any sweeter to us.

But she is like that with everyone.  Jamie loves people.  She really does care about them.  She listens, prays, and serves.

She wants people to know Jesus.  She looks for those she can help lead to Jesus.

Great Mom.  She is patient, kind, strong, fun, and never seems to get flustered by life with three kids.

Great wife.  She works hard on her relationship with Joe Don.  Makes time for the two of them.  Loves him.

But more than anything else, Jamie loves God and Jesus.  Her home is a place of prayer, service, Bible, and love.  She lets faith guide her decisions.

I am blessed by being around Jamie.  Our family is better because she came into it. 

So God thanks for our Jamie.  Thanks for your Jamie.  Bless her as a wife, mother, daughter, friend, and follower.  Do great things in her and through her.  

Thursday, February 15, 2018


Shootings, Christians, and what our children need to hear...

It has happened again.  And that does not surprise any of us.

I have heard and read a number of responses from Christians.  Responses like these.

Advocate for gun control legislation.  Or be sure we have concealed carry people in our schools.
Be sure we have armed guards in our churches.
Home school so your children will be safe. 

Here is what that sounds like to me.

Politics, fear, and how to use the weapons of the world.

So here is what I want our children -- and my grandchildren -- to hear.

We live in a fallen and evil world.  It will be that way until Jesus comes again.  Hatred and racism.  Murder and stealing.  Greed and gossip.  It is not going to get any "safer". 

Do not be afraid.  This world is not our home.  We are heading to heaven.  Satan and evil cannot destroy you.  Not even death.  God has defeated evil -- even death.  Cancer, car wrecks, shootings are not victorious.

Jesus is the answer.  He is why you never have to stay dead.  He is why you never have to be afraid.  He is why you are different than the world around you. 

In a world of hate, we will love.  In a world that says every man for themselves, we will treat others as we want to be treated.  In a world that says do what you want, do what you think best, do what makes you happy ... we will seek to love God and follow Jesus. 

I want our children to know that as Christians we have already died.  We have been crucified with Christ and the life we are now living we live by faith in the one who loved us enough to die for us.  Nothing can take that away from us.

So live boldly.  Live courageously. Go against the crowd.  Stand for what is right.  Treat people like Jesus.  Let your light shine in a dark world.

And when people see the difference in you, tell them about Jesus.  Tell them they can have a life of joy and peace.  That they do not have to fear death.  That their life matters and they can make a difference.  Forever.

So for my kids and grandkids...

If a shooter gets one of us, or cancer strikes, or a car wreck happens ... we will be together again. 

Because of Jesus.  So do not live in fear.  Live boldly for Jesus. 

Till we all get home.

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