Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Family Traditions

We are coming up on what may be my favorite weekend of the year...opening day of dove season. It is a big deal in the Ridgell family. Yes, I enjoy hunting, and I do like to bird hunt. But the real reason I love dove season is because of the family traditions around it. Joe Don and Jamie will be in this weekend. Jamie is not a fan of hunting but she figured out early in the relationship that this is a big deal. Bobby and Julie like it too. Julie has cooked a lot of dove over the years. Derran and Ann Reese will be with us. He was Joe Don's best friend growing up and almost like another son.

So what's the big deal? Family bonding. The guys hang out in the field. Waiting on doves, cleaning doves, and grilling doves gives a lot of time to talk. The women cook (yes, sometimes they go into the field but none of them hunt yet). And they talk. And we spend generational time together as family. Most of our hunting is up at the Herttenberger family farm and Marsha's folks go sometimes. Now Jake and Anna are going to start learning what a big deal it is. Some things change (we grill them now, not fry them), but the important things stay the same.

Family traditions are important. It connects us to what is important. Don't you have family traditions? Aren't they important? What are some of yours? Maybe it will give someone else an idea about how to start their own family traditions.

Monday, August 28, 2006


So Pluto's not a planet...

How can they do that? So many of us grew up learning the planets in science class. And now I find out they had it wrong. What's next? Some will even question the string theory of physics. No, I don't understand it. I just know it was the theory that provided answers to many physics questions. It was very uncool to even question it, but now it is evidently cool to raise questions about it.

Well, all that is just to say that maybe science doesn't have all the answers. And maybe everything does not have to be explained. We live in a world that has any number of competing value systems. I wonder how it feels if science and/or knowledge is the basis of your value system?

I for one like some certainty in my value system. The things I base my life on are constant, and they don't change. I believe the Bible is the word of God. I believe Jesus died for my sins, he was buried, and he was raised on the third day. I believe my faith in Jesus enables me to live forever.

And I'm glad the 10 commandments are not 9 today and 11 tommorrow. I don't have to check and see how many apostle's we're counting today. So I'm glad for a little affirmation that I am still making the right choice. Aren't you?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Anna turned one year old...

Our granddaughter, Anna Claire, turned one a few weeks ago. Her party was some blow-out. I am not sure I even remember what we did for my kid's first birthday, but Jamie did some serious work for Anna's (and J.D. too). Lots of babies, lots of families, lots of friends, lots of food, and lots of presents.

The best part was watching the parents try to get 20 kids from 2 months to 2 years to pose for a group shot. Utter chaos. I also loved watching Anna eat her own little birthday cake. Started out very carefully picking at the icing, and ended up with a face full of cake.

I hope she always has as much fun in life as she did that day. And I hope she always feels that special.

In fact, I hope I keep having fun and feeling special. After all, that's what life in Christ is all about.

So have fun and feel special.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


I'm back...

I am now back in the country and even in town for a few weeks. After the Cuba trip, I had a wedding in the Metroplex and then it was off to Malawi for a week of evangelism and meetings. Got back and had to preach last Sunday at Southern Hills. Now HIP is starting. Well at least life's not dull.

The Africa trip was great. Over 1000 at the church meeting out in one of the villages. The men sat in chairs on one side and the women sat on a huge tarp on the ground. Interesting. The other interesting thing was to witness the worship. The Malawians I know are very into singing. I have been at youth events where they "dance before the Lord". Very happy, very into celebrating worship. But not at our church gathering. Evidently some early missionaries convinced their early converts that they needed to sing praise like we did in the States...in the 50's. Interesting. Some are ready to go off on how we inserted our culture into a mission work and probably created some issues. And that is right. But would these same people want to change the seating arrangement of the men and women? And would that create some issues also? Would that be inserting our culture into a mission field?

So again I say... just preach gospel. Death, burial, and resurrection preaches and fits into any culture.

By the way, the elderly ex-chief of the village slaughtered a beef for the fellowship meal. I got to be his honored guest for lunch. Very interesting. No utensils. More interesting.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


Christians, war, and politics...

One of my most vivid memories of Cuba is the number of signs denouncing my native country, the United States. They even had a major anti-American rally near where we were staying. I was amazed at how easy it must be for a Cuban to learn to hate all things American. Of course, it is easy for an American to learn to hate Castro, communism, and perhaps even Cuba.

It is not out of the realm of possiblity that at some point there could be some level of armed conflict between Cuba and the United States, either overt or covert.

So I am glad that I am not a citizen of Cuba...or even of the United States. My citizenship is in heaven, as is that of my brothers and sisters in Cuba. There is no Christian nation in our world. The nation of God has no earthly headquarters, nor any geographic boundaries. And I have much more in common with my family in Cuba than I do with those outside my family who share my geographic citizenship.

As a believer, I could never serve in the military of any country. Because if I fight in a war for my country, and my brother in other country fights for his country...I could kill my brother (or vice versa). And if you believe it is acceptable to go to war for the United States because we are on the side of truth and justice...then I urge you to read your New Testament more closely.

Besides, years ago I decided which army I had to fight with, and it is the army of God. My army was in battle before most countries in the world existed and it will outlast every country on this earth.

And we will win.

So am I really a patriot? I guess not. I love the USA, Texas, and Abilene (and probably the Northeast part of Abilene most of all). In fact, if I was not a Christian I would bleed red, white, and blue. But Jesus bled red for me and that's where my allegience will be. And so I love the family of God more. In fact, there is no comparison. God has done more for me than any country ever would do or could do.

I will pray for my Cuban brothers who face persecution, and I pray for my American brothers who face persecution. And I am confident God will deliver us all.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Thoughts on Cuba...

Our recent trip to Cuba for the Herald of Truth youth campaign was amazing. Over 300 in attendance, 25 baptisms, lots of prayer and fellowship. Here are some of my initial thoughts and reactions.

...the area we worked in (Matanzas) has had 100 baptisms since the first of the year. They take evangelism seriously.

...if you are the first person converted in your town or village, the church meets in your home the next week.

...some young people rode the bus 14 hours one way just to be able to fellowship with other believers.

...Tim Archer and I visited in 12 - 15 different homes on our visit. They all wanted to serve us something. I took whatever they offered me. I still don't know what some of it was. Probably don't want to know.

...my favorite story is the couple who responded to Juan Monroy's radio broadcast. Tony, our field rep there, visited with them and baptized them last December. The church met in their house the next Sunday. The husband started a preacher training program two nights a week and now is the preacher for that church of now around 15 people.

...they recognized my name from one of our tracts someone had given them. I think they thought I must be famous. Now they know better.

...I was never scared at any time going thru customs in Cuba.

...I was very nervous going thru customs in the U.S. And for my sons and my accountability group- no I did not bring back cigars.

...I wonder how many of us would have church in our homes Sunday, and be expected to invite our friends and neighbors, and buy into the fact that ministry is now our highest and truest calling (even tho we are not paid).

I am now even more fired up about being serious about my calling. I am tired of playing church and holding hands of Christians who should know better. Bet you can't wait to hear me at HIP now, huh? Maybe I'll cool off by then. Or maybe not.

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