Thursday, September 22, 2016

 

Peace During the Election Season...

This first appeared on our Hope for Life blog and then again today on Heartlight.  

There is a Presidential election happening in the United States and many people are afraid, apprehensive, or nervous over what will happen in this country.  There is harsh rhetoric, angry voters, and lots of rumors, lies, and fear mongering.  And this is happening on both sides of the political divide.  What will the country look like if the “other” candidate wins the election?  Is the country going to be destroyed by this election?  Are we doomed?  Of course, this happens in other countries also.  When your emotions, your loyalty, and your faith in the future are wrapped up in any one nation or any one system of government then you are going to be worried much of the time.
So let me suggest an alternative.  Christians have a different view of this world. 
The followers of Jesus believe this world is not our home.  This world is not where our future is.  It is not the focus of our hope.  We believe we will live forever in heaven with God and Jesus.
We do not count on the powers of this world to offer us hope.  After all, nations rise and fall.  The United States is only 240 years old.  But God’s Kingdom is forever.  It will not fall.  It has outlasted all the governments of this world.
Christians partner with God to increase his Kingdom.  We believe that God wants everyone to be in a relationship with him and that he sent his son to die for our sins so we could have that relationship.  So we tell people that good news.  That is our purpose.  We Christians make a forever difference.
Someone bigger than any political system is in charge.  And he will be in charge forever.

So if you are worried and upset about election politics … there is a different, and I believe a better, alternative.  I can help you find it.  Write me at steve@hopeforlife.org.  Or visit our website at www.hopeforlife.org.   

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

 

Thoughts on a milestone birthday





Well, I made it.  I turned 65 last Sunday.  I have never put much stock in numbers but everyone seems to think 65 is a major milestone.

I act like I'm 45 and look like I'm 85 so 65 is about right for me.  And to use one of my favorite illustrations, if life was like a football game I am early in the fourth quarter.

And hee are a few of my thoughts.

Many people use milestone birthdays to look over their life and reflect on what they have -- and have not -- accomplished.  I am really not very introspective that way.  We have managed not to accumulate much.  Not much money, or possessions, or debt.  Not exactly a "big name" in my profession, but getting paid to do what I love.  And paid to do what I would be doing anyway.  Talking about Jesus.

Marsha and I have been doing life together 43 years.  I like where we are.

My kids are both faithful Christians.  Happier about that than anything else.

My five grands are well on their way to being healthy, active followers of Jesus.

That's the legacy I would choose.

Past that I really don't see much point in reflecting back over life.  Much more interested in tomorrow than yesterday.  Would do a lot of things differently.  Would do a lot the same.  I am content with who I am and where I am.

Everyone seems to want to know about my future.  When will I retire?  What am I going to do?  How about money?

I don't really have plans.  I just want to keep on telling people about Jesus until I am no longer able.

I will work for Hope for Life until they stop paying me.  Or maybe a church will want an evangelist or a full-time elder.  Or maybe we will make on what we have.  God has always taken care of us.  Always.  Can't imagine that he will not take care of us in the future.

So I am pretty much living life at 65 just like I did at 64.  And like I will at 66.

Love God.  Follow Jesus.  Love Mimi, the kids, and the grands.

Tell people about Jesus.  Help Christians to know how to tell others about Jesus.  Help struggling Christians keep their faith.

And someday go home to real home and real life.  Then wait for Mimi and the rest of the family to get there.

Not much of a plan.

Or a really, really great plan.

So thanks God for 65 years.  You have always taken care of me and you always will.  So do with me what you want till I get to be with you forever. 



Thursday, September 08, 2016

 

What Do You Mean I Have to Go Back This Week...

He is not the first to be confused, nor will he be the last.  My grandson Austin is in Kindergarten and had a good first week.  His older brother was asking Mom to come have lunch with him one day and Austin answered "Of course we will."

Mom then had to explain that Austin would not be joining them since he had to go to Kindergarten.

Evidently Austin did not realize that it was not a one week event.  I am not sure anyone has had the heart to tell him that this will go on for longer than he can yet imagine.

It is a little like some people think about their Christianity.  It is great for week at Easter and Christmas.  Or even every week if we hold it to just a couple of hours.

But following Jesus is all day, every day for the rest of our lives.

When we were baptized into Christ we were crucified with him.  We gave up our old life to live a new one by faith in Jesus.

Following Jesus is not a matter of time.  Or a series of acts.

Jesus said if we want to come to him then we must deny ourselves, take up the cross every day, and follow him.

Give up ourselves, die, and follow Jesus.

Every day.  From now till forever.

So God forgive us when we think following you is a short-term proposition.  Today and every day from now on forever we will deny ourselves, die with your Son, and follow him.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

 

And this is why we share our stories...

Some of you know the story of Todd and Christian.  Todd is one of my fellow elders that prayed for God to put someone in his life that he could share the story of Jesus with.  Christian was a refugee who ended up in Abilene.  Todd hired Christian to work for him, he and his family served Christian with the love of Jesus, taught him the gospel, and Todd baptized him into Christ.

Great story of prayer, passion for telling the story of Jesus, a seeker, and how the Holy Spirit connects believers and seekers.

I have told this story all over the world.  I even included it in my book, Can I Tell You a Story.

So there is a farmer in Rupert, Idaho named Luke who needed to hire a hand for his farm.  One night he is reading about Todd and Christian and realizes he ought to pray that same prayer.  So he asks God to help him hire someone he can share Jesus with.

The next Sunday at a church meal, he asked if anyone knew someone looking for agricultural work.  Chris recommended Joe, recently released from jail.  Luke hired Joe.  Chris and Luke told Joe about Jesus.  Joe believed and decided to follow Jesus.  He was baptized into Christ about one month ago.

And I got to meet him at our evangelistic event up in Idaho last week.

Todd wanted to reach lost lost people and the Holy Spirit brought him Christian.

Todd and Christian inspired Luke.

The Holy Spirit brought Joe.

Sharing faith.  Making disciples.

Maybe this story will inspire you to pray for God to send you a Christian or a Joe.

Go God go.

God send us more seekers like Christian and Joe.  Thank you for being faithful to give the increase when we sow Jesus seeds.



Tuesday, August 16, 2016

 

Austin Ridgell is 6



Our youngest grandchild, Austin Ridgell, turned 6 last week.  And here is why I love him and am proud of him.

He is fearless.  Climbs, jumps, runs, swims, can water ski and well... you get the idea.  I have not yet found anything he is afraid of.  Of course, that also means I have to worry for both of us.

Super active.  All the time.  When we keep all 5 grands, we divide them up this way.  Me and Austin.  Marsha and the other four.

Last week he and his brother and sister went to see Granny, Marsha's Mom.  Austin led This Is the Day.  We all sang. Sweet.

He prays for everything.  I sometimes forget to pray for everything.

He is strong willed.  He does what he wants.  I have watched him count the cost -- you know, if you do this then here is the consequence -- and then do what he wants.  And pay the price.  And if he does not want to do something, he does not.

He talks all the time.  All. the. time.  I do not know where he gets that from tho Marsha seems to think it was inherited from someone in the family.  I tell him not to worry if no one listens.  Happens to me all the time.

The guy loves life.

He loves his Pops.  And I love him.

So here is what I think the future holds for Austin.  He will choose his own path.  It will be about Jesus.  He will not give in to peer pressure.  He will make life exciting and fun for everyone around him.

So thanks God for Austin.  I pray you will use his big heart and his enthusiasm in amazing and powerful ways for the Kingdom.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

 

Our Anna Claire is turning 11

Anna Claire, Joe Don and Jamie's girl, turns 11 tomorrow.  Here are a few reasons I love her and am proud of her.

She loves  her family.  She adores her Mom and Dad.  Loves her brothers (even tho she has to put up with lots of "brother" shenanigans).  Loves her extended family of Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins.  And she loves her Mimi and Pops.  She even still likes to hang out with us.

She is really smart.  Not only makes good grades, but actually understands lots of things.  Loves reading and enjoys writing.

Great athlete.  She is really good at softball and basketball.  And I think she is as natural a runner as I have ever seen.  Intense competitor.

She cares about others.  I loved hearing her talk about the family mission trip to Honduras.  Her prayers always include something about other people and not just her.

She has lots of friends.  Teachers like her.  Younger girls look up to her.

Anna loves Jesus.  She wants to follow him.  She wants to make a difference in this world.

She was our first grandchild.  She sets a high standard to follow.  Great example.


So thanks God for giving us our Anna Claire.  Continue molding her into a follower of your Son.  I look forward with great excitement to what you will do with her and thru her in the future.


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

 

Why I Love Vacation Bible School

Tonight is our last night of VBS at Southern Hills.  200 volunteers.  Over 1000 in the auditorium for the musical.  Several hundred visiting the various stations around the building.  Oh... and that does not count the 20 or so of our young people doing a VBS down in the Dominican Republic.

But ours sure is different than some I have worked.  Our musical is fantastic with amazing talent and sets.  There wer times I have done them with me singing with 20 kids in a gym.  I've done them with as few as 10 or 12 teachers.  I've watched cookies come in by the thousands over the years.  I've seen one class for all the elementary students and I've seen multiple classes for just one grade. I've seen VBS where I really think Marsha and I did all the teaching, singing, and crafts.  This year we worked like crazy just getting out the Tee Shirts.

But here is why I love VBS.  And why I think all of these are more alike than different.

Every volunteer is performing an act of love.  They love God and they love kids.  And the want the kids to love God.

They have all been fun.  Lots of laughter, singing, noise, and study.  God and fun.  That fits.  And it works in VBS.  Maybe Sunday mornings ought to be a whole more like VBS.

God is glorified.  Every VBS tells God stories from his word.  The singing is in praise of God.

People arere invited to join us on the Jesus journey.  Last night our Children's minister invited people to come to the stage and talk with him about becoming royalty in God's family.  One of our  main performers in this year's production was converted in large part by what he saw a couple of years ago in VBS.  Last year we had our baptistery covered for the musical.  So we set a horse trough out in front of the building.  One of my great VBS memories is when I watched one of our members baptizing a couple into Christ in it.  

The whole church has to pitch in.  I've seen teachers, cookie makers, and van drivers.  I've seen singers, actors, teachers, carpenters, cooks, registration ladies, photographers, and security volunteers.  The entire body of Christ working together.

And here's one more reason I love VBS.  Marsha and I both grew up going to VBS.  Having our parents teach.  We both started doing VBS as high schoolers.  Joe Don and Julie grew up going to VBS.  They have taught, led singing, and worked in VBS since they were teenagers.  And their kids have grown up going to VBS.  I have no doubt all five of our grands will be involved in working some version of VBS for most of their lives.  And their kids will go.  And on and on it goes.

So thanks God for the Vacation Bible Schools going on all over everywhere this summer.  Thanks for the people who love you and love children so much that they will give up hours and hours of their time to teach the little ones about You and your son.  Thanks for the hours my family has spent setting up, teaching, singing, and helping in VBS.  I pray even tonight their will be someone touched by your story enough to let us share the good news of Jesus.  And you get the glory.

Go VBS.

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