Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Kids are great...

One of the fun things about holidays is the chance for Mimi and Pops to spend lots of extra time with our granddaughter Anna Claire. She is over a year old now and walks/runs everywhere. We got to take her the park, to a Santa's workshop, and I even kept her entertained while Mom and Mimi shopped. Watching her interact with other little kids was great. They all got along, they all had fun, they all were kind and generous. Oh, and they were different colors and came from different backgrounds, and even different cultures. And most of them were under three (it's pretty cool to see a three year old be the big person).

I suspect that if there had been a few older kids it might not have gone so well. As our babies start to grow up, they develope prejudices, they become selfish, and they don't always play well with others. Where do they learn this stuff? Surely not from parents that should know better.

I really am not surprised at what kids in the world learn from their parents. After all, why do we expect non-believers to act different? But how do the children of believers learn the wrong things? Do they pick it up from the world as they grow, or do they get it from us?

God help us to teach our little ones the right things...and not the wrong. And if you think I'm harsh on this... check out Jesus.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Thanksgiving reflections...

I really wasn't going to do one of those "what I'm thankful for..." posts, but I've had four opportunities over the holidays to share my personal thanks, and it has really made me think. So for what it's worth, here it is.

Above all I am thankful for God's grace and restoration in my life. I am not yet what I want to be but I am a long way from what I used to be. I hope I am able to say this every Thanksgiving for the rest of my life.

I am so thankful for Jake and Anna. Our two grandchildren are healthy and happy. They are a joy to be with and I cannot believe how blessed we are.

Julie, Bobby, Joe Don and Jamie are all healthy and happy. To see all of your children faithful to the Lord is a wonderful feeling. I cannot imagine the pain if it were different.

All four of our parents are still alive and going strong (tho just not as fast as they used to). As we look around at our friends, we realize how blessed we are to have all four of our parents still with us in this life. They are all still spiritual leaders and examples for us, their grandkids, and now their great grandkids.

God is good and I am blessed.

Monday, November 20, 2006


More on forgiveness...

Wednesday nite's HIP at Southern Hills was one of those special times. Those times of praise, preaching, and prayer are some of the best times of spiritual growth for me. Many of you have gone out of your way to comment about what I had to say about forgiveness. For those of you not there, basically we talked about living out gospel by forgiving one another. We talked about forgiving those who hurt us, and how we are guilty of wanting God to forgive us and yet we do not fogive those who sin against us. So we reminded ourselves of the Lord's model prayer, Jesus on the cross, and Stephen when he was stoned (the Stephen in Acts, not me...I wouldn't want anyone to get any ideas). Gary Green was so open in sharing some of his struggles as he led us into a powerful Garden of Prayer. Then we visited about what kind of church we wanted to be based on the the Prodigal Son story: Daddy looking every day for his son to come home and celebrating when he die, or older brother who make sure to drag up his brother's past and was basically unloving and non forgiving.

A couple of you asked questions that prompted this post. The question came up about forgiving people who don't repent. Two things seem relevent here. The first is that we need to remember that our extending forgiveness to someone does not empact their salvation. God is the only one who can grant forgiveness of sins. My forgiving someone who is not sincere, or who does not ask for it, has nothing to do with whether or not they get to heaven. It may, however, have to do with whether I get there. The other observataion is that forgiveness does mean they "got away with anything". That is older brother thinking. There are consequences to sin. The younger brother had lost his inheritance. Forgiveness does not eleminate consequenses.

We forgive others because God forgave us and it models to the world the gospel.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Go Razorbacks...

I have tried not to write about my Hogs, but I can't help it. I am sure this may jinx them... but what a year. We are ranked anywhere from 5 - 6 in the various polls and 7th in the BCS standings. If things go well... national championship.

You may be wondering how I got to be an Arkansas Razorback fan. After all, I didn't attend there, never lived there, and have no real connection there. Except that my parents are from Arkansas, and all my relatives followed the Razorbacks. I still remember one of my uncles taking me to the Cotton Bowl to watch Arkasas defeat SMU. It's where I learned to call the Hogs. And of course, my son Joe Don grew up rooting for the Hogs. It was just what you did around our house.

Which leads me to reflect about how families inherit certain beliefs, prejudices, convictions, etc. It just happens when you are immersed in certain things. So I became a Razorback fan, Joe Don became a Razorback fan, and I suspect his kids might also. Of course, how could J.D. not become a fan. We watched the Hogs on television, we saw basketball games at Barnhill, and talked about their chances. Of course, they delivered: bowl games, a great run in basketball, the greatest track program in history, baseball playoffs.

So what else did my kids pick up growing up in our family? I think they are people of the Word, grace, forgiveness, evangelism, service, and giving. I think they were immersed in Christ (both in a literal and a figurtive sense). The Razorback intoctrination was not intentional, the Jesus was. But they learned them both the same way. They were part of Ridgell culture.

So what are your kids learning as they grow up in your family? What do we talk, live, and get excited about? And does the object of our passion deliver?

Friday, November 10, 2006


What can an assembly...

I have spent some time this week thinking about how to achieve balance between conflicting desires in our worship, work, and fellowship. It seems there is always that difficult line to walk. For example, we want our worship to be for God as his children gather to praise him. The core of our worship is to reconnect with gospel as we share the Lord's Supper, an act that by nature is for those in the family of God. In fact, it is a visible sign of our unity and of our faith. Our public worship is in many ways the inspiration for our every day worship as salt and light in this world.

Yet at the same time we have a desire to have "seeker sensitive" services that have an evangelistic thrust. So we have set up desires that seem to be in conflict. The family of God gathers to worship and celebrate what God has done- and is doing- in our lives. Or do we gather to worship in such a way as to convert the non-believer? Or can a worship assembly be both? I have always wondered if part of the emphasis on evangelistic services is because we don't know how to do evangelism any other way. Just live forgiven, ask people to visit our worship, and then let the "seeker" service convert them.

I don't want an "outsider" to feel awkward or uneasy at our assemblies. Yet I do want to remember that they are not for the non-believer. I would hope they would catch a glimpse of something the want, or perhaps be inspired to ask questions.

I guess I am just more interested in a "God sensitive" service.

What do you think?

Thursday, November 02, 2006


More on "picking a church"...

Several have asked what kind of church we should be so that others would want to be a part of us. And the follow-up to that is how to become that church. I think the first is much easier to answer than the second. Here it is: I want an Acts 2 church. I know that probably seems too simplistic, but every time I read Acts 2: 42-47 I see the model for the church I want to be belong to.

So what would a church look like today that was really modeling Acts 2? It would be a Word based church. They would preach it, teach it, study it outside of the assembly. Public worship would be important. The Lord's Supper would be central, there would be lots of prayer, the fellowship would matter to each of us.

There will be a sense of awe and excitement at what God is doing. We would truely be family where those who have real needs have them met by those God has blessed with various resourses (time, talent, money).

There would be opportunities for real daily fellowship as we study, pray, and eat together. Maybe today they are called life groups, shephering groups, or small groups. We would praise God and our communities would appreciate what we are doing in this world.

People would seek to be a part of a church like that, and we would willingly share our testimony about the wonderful things God is doing. We would share the gospel so that others could know the blessings of Jesus.

So how do we become this kind of church?

Maybe I should just work on being that kind of Christian, and I will see that kind of church.

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