Tuesday, June 19, 2018

 

Father's Day and a holy Communion

So I spent Father's Day with my son Joe Don and his family.  And we went to church together Sunday morning.  My grandson, Andrew, was sitting between us.

Communion was served. Andrew, Joe Don, and I took it together.  All three of us at the same time.

And it was absolutely a holy moment.  One that I will remember with great joy for the rest of my life.

Maybe it was because it was Father's Day and I realized what a great Dad my son is.  But I realized that we three Ridgell men were declaring our conviction together that Jesus died for us and that we believe that.  We have each given our lives to that truth.

Until the Lord comes.  If he has not come by the time I die, Joe Don and Andrew will still be sharing the Lord's Supper and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom.  It is easy for me to picture Joe Don, Andrew, and Andrew's son sharing this some day.  And on and on it will go.

Forever.

Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.  Psalm 71:18

It was the best Father's Day ever.  The generations behind me believe.

I have done my job.  Joe Don is doing his job.  Just like my Dad did his.

Because of Jesus.

It was holy.

So thank you God for a glimpse of the future.  Let me keep passing faith on to the generations behind me.  Bless Joe Don as he does the same.  And Andrew after him.  Forever.   



Thursday, June 07, 2018

 

I met two great evangelists dressed as repairmen...

I love evangelists.  If you know me, you know that.  It's one reason I love my job at Hope for Life.  I am basically a full-time evangelist.  I get paid to go around and talk about Jesus.

I love preachers who are evangelists.  Not all preachers are, so when I meet those who are I really, really appreciate them.

But I not going to be able to share the Jesus story with most people.  Neither are the preachers.  Because we are professionals.  We are supposed to do it.  And by nature of our profession, we don't meet as many ordinary people in the community as we could.  Maybe even should.

But I tell you who is going to make a difference in bringing people to Jesus.  It is the ordinary person going about their everyday business... and who talk about Jesus.

I recently met a couple of them.  They were repairmen.  One worked on appliances.  He was visiting with my wife while he worked on a stove and he talked about how Jesus had helped him overcome his addictions and how committed he was to being the kind of husband and father that God wanted.  Obviously he did not have to convert Marsha, but he did get some affirmation and praise God from her.  But if she had not been a Christian, she might have been intrigued and interested by what God was doing in his life. 

The other one was a plumber.  He was doing some work at my daughter's house and I was out there working on some other stuff.  He called me over to explain that one of the things we wanted repaired could be done by me.  I told him that I appreciated the tip but wasn't that going to cost him money.  He explained that a few weeks ago he had become serious about following Jesus and he was trying to love his neighbor as himself.  He got affirmation also.  But if I was not a Christian, I might have asked him a lot of questions about following Jesus.

I know some other evangelists who support themselves.  I know another plumber, a garden center manager, a car dealership owner, and a Doctor who are really evangelistic.  I know a couple of nurses and a lawyer who talk about Jesus.  And I do know some preachers who do.

So thanks to the two evangelists I met dressed as a repairman.  God bless you and keep telling the story. 

Let's all go and do the same.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

 

The Hills church is growing... really growing

I get to spend most of my Sundays in different churches talking about evangelism.  Either equipping Christians on how to share their faith or motivating them to share their faith.  I am there to help them grow the Kingdom.  Really grow.  Not just how to keep our young people.  Not how to be the most attractive option when someone new moves to town.  Not how to get those who feel the need to look for a different church home.

Those kinds of things are Kingdom maintenance or troop transfer, not Kingdom growth.

Kingdom growth happens when non-believers become followers of Jesus.  That is real Kingdom growth.  And that is what I spend my time helping churches do.

But I recently had a Sunday off and we were in Fort Worth visiting my son and his family and so I got to visit the Hills (Richland Hills campus).

And they are growing and here is what I saw that convinced me of this.

Their campus minister, David, talked about how to connect to someone to learn more about taking the next steps in following Jesus.  He did it in the intro and in his wrap-up.  It wasn't rote.  It was not boring.  It was heartfelt and inviting.  They are seeking people who want to connect to Jesus.  Not just that Sunday.  I hear that every time I visit there.

Their preacher, Rick, made it a point at the end of his lesson to encourage seekers to take the next step.  He prayed for people to be saved that very day.  He invites people to follow Jesus.  Every single time I hear him preach.

And one was.  I saw an adult man baptized into Christ.  So David made his closing appeal from the baptistery.  Pretty effective.

So they are going to grow.  Real growth.  The elders want it.  Rick preaches it.  The rest of the staff encourages it.

And that kind of passion might just keep the young people.  And it might attract people moving in. Or those who are looking for a church home.

But most of all, they are bringing people to Jesus.  So I love that church.  And yes, I know they were speaking my language, but I think they get it.

So maybe you ought to see if your church will encourage and invite people to learn and take the next steps in following Jesus.  Pray publicly for people to be saved.  Win your one.

Well done Rick, David, and the Hills.

Stay after it.



Thursday, May 31, 2018

 

So my girl Julie has a birthday tomorrow...


Well tomorrow my Julie turns 42.  Hard to believe but it is true.  And I am so proud of the woman she is.  Here are just a few of the reasons why.

Julie is a survivor.  Life has not turned out like she wanted or expected.  She has learned that the only person you can control is yourself.  And that has helped make her a really good parent.  Her kids are being raised to make good decisions.  They have a living example in their Mom how to make good choices.  And just as important, how to make hard decisions when things are off track.

She is a good Mom.  Not just because she makes pallets and has Dance parties.  Not just because she is as crazy about their pets as her kids.  Not just because she has learned to love gymnastics and because she will sit at a baseball field all day (and like it).  Not just because her kids friends like to come over and hang out.  But she is intentionally parenting her kids.  And that is hard as a single parent.

She sees the best in people.  She is certain everyone will do the right thing, and if they are not -- that she can convert them.

She is a great nurse.  Actually cares for her patients.  Prays with many of them.  Holds their hand.  Puts them before herself.

Loves family.  Her Mom and her daughter are her best friends.  Loves her Grandmother.  And her extended family.  Her birthday lunch had kids, parents, a grandmother, an aunt, and a great-uncle.  Adores her brother and his family.  Always trying to "steal" her nieces and nephews to come live with her.

But here is the thing I am most proud of about my girl.  She is a faith fighter.  Life gets really hard.  You fight to hang on to Jesus.  You don't give up.  When your health is poor and no one can figure out the answers, you keep putting one foot in front of the other.  And by the way, one day your Dr. says your health is better than it has been in years (thank you God).  If you make a wrong choice, or lose your focus, you stop it, set your eyes of Jesus, and fight for your faith.

So Jules, thanks for making me a proud Pops.  You are doing well.

And God thank you for giving Julie to us.  She has blessed us beyond what we ever could have dreamed.  Protect her from evil.  Give her strength and energy and thank you for giving her health back to her.  Use her to help others see you.  

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

 

Friends, Death, and my Memorial Day

We just had Memorial Day celebrations in the United States.  This is the day we remember those who fought to ensure the political freedoms of this nation.  There was talk of sacrifice, death, and heroism.

So it got me to thinking about the people I love who are real heroes.  People who fought for the real and lasting freedom found in Jesus.  People whose lives made a difference.  People who battled Satan.

And people who died.  When nothing else worked, Satan used the death weapon.  And he still lost. 

So here is my Memorial Day remembrance and thanksgiving.

Tina.  Satan used cancer and it only took a few months.  But I was there in her hospice room.  It was a holy place.  Even a place of joy.  And of peace.  Death lost.  Jesus and Tina won.

Josie died of  cancer too.  Went into remission for a while but the cancer came back stronger.  I spent time in her hospice room also.  Prayed with her.  Took communion with her.  Talked about Jesus.  She died and went home.  Satan lost that one too.  Some of her family are now talking with me about following Jesus.  Josie and Jesus won. 

DeLynda too died of cancer.  Just a matter of weeks from diagnosis to death.  There are going to be a lot of people in heaven some day because she believed.  Struggling believers that she would not give up on and that she kept loving.  People that did not know Jesus.  People she studied with, prayed with, counseled.  People she helped find Jesus.  Satan lost again.  Delynda and Jesus won. 

Three soldiers of the cross. Each of their deaths was precious in God's eyes.  People whose deeds follow them still.  People who now get to see God face to face. 

Satan thought death would give him victory, but Jesus turned death into our victory. 

So thanks Tina, Josie, and Delynda.  I remember you.  I know you are free.  And I know you helped others to be free.

Really free forever.

So we will tell your stories. 

And we will use them to help others know and to see Jesus.






Thursday, May 24, 2018

 

Hard truths that I want me and my grands to live by...

Raising children in this world is scary.  Always has been.  Always will be. 

School shootings.  Pedophiles.  Drunk drivers.  Bullies.  Racists.  Gossips. 

Sinful actions normal.  Not just accepted, but promoted.  Standing for truth/Jesus will open them up to ridicule, abuse, and hate. 

I get asked a lot by parents how they should feel about things.  And what they should do.  What should they teach their children?

So here are things I believe to be true and righteous.  I want to live out these truths.  I tried to raise my kids to live these truths.  And I want my grands to live this way.

But I get how dangerous that is.  Risky.  Scary.  Much easier to talk about what we ought to do than to do it.  Much easier to huddle up in church and talk about courage and what ought to be done than to actually do it.

But here are the truths I want me and mine to live out.

This world is evil.  Most people we encounter are not Jesus followers.  People do bad things to others.  It is a fallen world.

This world is not our home.  We are not supposed to be at ease here.

Heaven is better and that is where we want to be. 

Death is real.  So is pain and sorrow. 

Jesus is the only answer.  He changes hearts and lives.

So talk about Jesus.  It will be hard, awkward, and you will have some who will hurt you for it.  But some will listen.  Some will come to Jesus.  You will change lives.

And that will change the world.

As Christians we have already died.  Baptism was our crucifixion.  Even death does not defeat us.

So do not be afraid or terrified.  Do not hide inside your house or your church.

Be courageous.  Get out in the world and be a Jesus follower. 

God you know that all this is easier said than done.  But you sent your Son into a hard world because he brought life.  Help me bless my grands to live and speak that message in a hard world.  Let them be warriors for you, not cowards.  And let them see me leading them.   

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

 

What the Bible says and what the Bible means...

"Well, we just read the Bible differently."

I often hear this statement when people do not agree on what the Bible means.  Or course, this statement is not correct.  We all read the Bible the same.  The problem is how we view what we read. 

I do believe Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit.  And I believe the Holy Spirit was active in preserving Scripture as the early Christians came to consensus about what constituted the Bible. And I do believe that Scripture was written at a certain time to a certain people in a certain context.  But...

"It is cultural."

That is the phrase often used to talk about the audience, setting, and situation of different passages.I do believe that Scripture was written at a certain time to a certain people in a certain context.  But...
the real question should be:  is the teaching specific just to then and there?  Or does it have meaning for here and now?

You hear this discussion quite a bit these days concerning women's role in the church.  And I Timothy 2 is one of the passages I hear discussed as to whether it is cultural. 

The reading is clear.  Paul speaks to the authority and leadership of men. 

But does that mean male authority is a principle just for the church in Ephesus almost 2000 years ago?  Or does that principle apply to the church today? 

Paul makes two statements that certainly seem to make it broader than just a local principle for a certain time and place.  He says this principle is based on creation and the fall.  Adam created first.  Eve sinned first.  Those concepts are much bigger than Ephesus and whatever was going on there.

Clearly that church had problems.  There are some men causing problems.  And there are some women causing problems.  Some would argue that Paul's teaching is just because of that local situation.  Except that when Paul writes about male authority,  he is clear that this is a fundamental truth starting from creation and the fall.

But doesn't Paul say "I" when talking about this?  Yes he does.  And then explains his reasoning.  And that reasoning is not cultural only.  I suppose you could argue that Paul is incorrect in his theology and the Holy Spirit decided to let that error pass.  But that is an argument that opens up all of Scripture to debate whether the Biblical writers were correct or not.  And that assumes we are certainly correct when questioning them.  I cannot read the Bible that way. 

So I am very careful about the "cultural" argument when the very passage contains teaching that shows it is more than just then and there.

It is obvious that I believe Scripture clearly teaches male authority and leadership.  And I agree that that principle has been abused sometimes.  And we have been wildly inconsistent on what authority and leadership actually means. 

But that does not change the principle.

So I listen to Christians debating the topic of women's role and what I Timothy means.  And I see many churches dividing over it.  But I think the division is bigger than this one topic.  I think the debate is over how we view Scripture.  Not how we read Scripture, but what it means.

Women's role is one issue.  There will be others. There are others.

You may agree with how I see Scripture.  You may disagree.  But as someone who uses Scripture to teach non-believers, and uses Scripture to do spiritual counseling ... I have to be true to my conviction about what the Bible means.

It is what God expects of me. 

And of you.





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