Thursday, February 28, 2008


Back from Ecuador...

I am just back a couple of days from Ecuador. Herald of Truth did about five months of television across the nation last spring and summer, and followed that up with a couple of preaching campaigns. This was the follow-up trip to evaluate the effort and get input for future efforts.

I've got to tell you... Ecuador is beautiful. I spent most of my time in and around Quito in the Andes mountains. I saw lots of mountains, trees, and one volcano. Had a half dozen meetings and spoke four times while there. I got to spend quite a bit of time with Kent and Sharla Marcum. He heads up the Ecuador project and works with the school of preaching, a camp, children's home, and liaisons with six different mission teams in Ecuador, Columbia, and Bolivia. They are a great couple and I enjoyed getting to know them.

I also got to meet two of their three grown children. All three of them are doing ministry is South America. Two of them (and spouses) are on mission teams in Bolivia. The other, along with her husband, runs the camp. This family really is committed to taking the name of Jesus to Latin America.

The report from the churches was very encouraging. There are some seventy contacts still being worked and at least eight have been baptized that I know about. Very exciting.

So any of you know the Marcums, or been to Ecuador? What did you think?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


For dog lovers only...

If you are not a dog lover, you will not understand this. So do not bother reading further unless you get the whole "they really are family" connection with dogs.

The Ridgells are grieving today, especially Marsha and Julie. Yesterday we had to put Jaxon, our Shih Tzu, to sleep. He has had kidney disease for several months, but a few days ago he quit eating, and we had to make the decision to spare any more suffering.

He was actually Julie's dog and during one of her moves several years ago we inherited him. Just like Remington, our golden retriever, was a Joe Don legacy. Jaxon had a special place in my heart because he was actually a dog, not a pampered psuedo dog. He stayed outside during the day, was fiercely protective of his family, and kept Mimi company during all my travels.

When Julie was living by herself, an intruder tried to get in her bedroom window. Jax went nuts barking and ran the bad guy off. He would torment Rem to play and when the big dog had enough, he would pin Jaxon with his paw till we rescued him.

So even Remington is a little off balance. He misses his little buddy. I also know I better get ready because it will be very tough on me when Rem passes.

And before you ask, yes we buried Jaxon, he has a marker, and we prayed over him. And yes, I think Romans 8 and creation waiting to be liberated might be a way to think dogs can be in heaven. And if not, God will still have taken care of them... and us.

So what do you think? Are we crazy, or are your pets family too?

So, Jaxon, thanks for joy, love, and laughter for the past 12 years.

You loved us and we loved you.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Jesus and my truck...

Last week a friend asked to borrow my truck. Well, he didn't need to borrow it, but another member of our church needed it. His father-in-law had passed away and they needed to move some furniture out of the rest home. I believe that whatever God gives me is for the kingdom, not me. So if God gives me a truck, and one of my family needs it.... that's what it's for. So I lent it to him.

It came back with a dent. I asked him about it. He had no idea. I believe him. But he did say he would pay the deductible in case it was hit while he was driving it. I said no. So should I have lent it? Now I have a dent in my truck. But I think it's God's truck, not mine. So yes, I should have lent it.

But there's more. Yesterday, the borrower calls me and says he knows what happened. He did it. He didn't even know it. He went back to the storage unit, checked where he enters the complex and realized there was a yellow pole by the place you enter the code to open the gate. It appeared to have a fresh scrape along it. He checked the truck and saw yellow paint and concluded that he must have done it. Now he is going to have it fixed. Most Christians would not have gone to the trouble to "prove" that it was their fault. I was struck by his desire to do what he thought Jesus would do.

I was affirmed in my belief that my stuff is really God's, not mine. And I was humbled and motivated to go the extra mile in my dealings with others.

Jesus and my truck. Pretty neat.

So what do you think? About my theology of possessions, and about my brothers actions.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Random Ministry

It is amazing the things God will drop in you life. Here are some of mine over the last two days.

...our small group had a really good discussion about our spiritual walk, our kids, and growing in Christ.

... Heard that a good friend' Dad is waiting on test results for possible cancer. Pray for Mike Riley. of our Herald of Truth respondents on agreed to visit with some of my friends that live near her and she emailed to say they had made contact and were going to visit.

... one of my flock came by last night for spiritual guidance and it wasn't because they were in crisis (and I get lots of those). They wanted to talk about being Jesus in the work place and how to grow spiritually in their financial dealings. preaching buddy Phil Ware is in Uganda with Compassion International. Remembering to pray for him every day. Check out his blog on

Had a spot cut off my face. They didn't think it was bad, but since I had one melanoma they didn't want to take a chance. More surgery on my face might have been helpful (insert own joke here).

...Bible study tonite with a Catholic who has been visiting Southern Hills. Wants to know more about "dying with Jesus".

Isn't God the best?


Thursday, February 07, 2008


Practical lines of fellowship...

OK. For those who asked, and for those who didn't, here are some practical ways I determine lines of fellowship. I believe I can - and should - draw lines of fellowship for brothers or sisters who intentionally continue in homosexual activities. I believe Scripture is clear on this, and where I believe Scripture is clear I will draw lines of fellowship. However, I would not make a test of fellowship over someone who struggles with this sin and seeks repentance and forgiveness. I think Scripture is clear there also.

I could not make instrumental worship a test of fellowship because if it were that important, God would have been much clearer in the teaching of worship and instruments. That is not to say that I think there are no arguments to be made on either side. It is to say I am uncomfortable drawing a line on an issue where I am not sure God did.

One other comment on the instrumental issue from a discussion with someone a few nights ago. I was told that some younger Christians would not worship at a non-instrumental congregation because this simply had to be a non-issue. It seems to me that they just made it a big issue. If it is not an issue, I can worship with or without the instrument. If I refuse to worship with a congregation because they have - or don't have - instruments... then I have made it an issue.

Anyone that picks a church home based on whether or not they use instruments may be focused on the wrong thing altogether.

Just my opinion. Feel free to weigh in.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Zach is gone...

Many of you may know by now that an ACU student died early this week. He was also a member at Southern Hills. Zach Swan was outgoing, friendly, and enjoyed singing and talking about Jesus. He made it a point to connect with me every Garden of Prayer. There were always about two full rows of the group he ran with. He will be missed and our hearts go out to his friends and family.

Last night some of us from Southern Hills and a few ACU faculty met with about 100 students to sing, pray, and just be together for healing. So here are some things I was reminded of over the past few days.

We have to lean on each other when times are tough. That's what family does. We cry together, we bear burdens together, and we help each other heal.

Continue to seek real community and stay connected. Tragedy will come into our lives and we will need each other to survive.

There are some things for which there are no answers. At least not answers I know and can give. I just have to trust God. He was God, He is God, and He will always be God.

Love on the people close to you. Be sensitive to their hurts and needs. Be willing to go the second mile.

And sometimes, no matter how connected, tragedy comes. Satan is real, he hates us, and he wants to destroy us.

Someday God will wipe away all tears.

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