Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Christmas made real...

Christmas is when we think about God's love being shown in action by the sending of Jesus to this earth.  In the same way, the reality of God is often seen in the people around me.

So... here are a few of the things that happened this Christmas that made me see Jesus in action.

Hearing my grandkids lead the prayers at all of our meals together.  Generational faith.  

Holding Andrew (age 5) during church and singing "bless the Lord O my soul" with him.  Trying not to cry with joy.

Praying for our daughter Julie's health every day. All day.  Then hearing Grandpa remind me that everything will be all right.  And remembering that it will.  More about that in later posts.

Calling to check on Granny and Grandpa and hearing that they had just been visited by one of the couples at church.  Unsung heroes showing Jesus.

Watching Avery pull her first tooth out.  Knowing she is growing up.  Happy with the kind of girl she is becoming.

Hearing the grands talk about their school friends and realizing that many of their best friends are in Christian families.  We are family together.

Having a Christian friend call in a Rx. for Granny on Christmas day.  She didn't have to do that.  But she did.  Love.  

Praying with one of our neighbors who lost her Mom and sister-in-law recently.  Inviting them to church or to have more conversation about Jesus.  

Hearing Marsha talk about giving one of my books to our bakery lady and inviting her to come to church with us.  Making friends.  Sharing Jesus.

Realizing that there will not be many more Christmases with all four of our parents alive.  Knowing that it is OK  Heaven waits for all of us.  

Taking cookie plates and cards to all of our neighbors.  Getting presents and cards from many of them.

Remembering that when God's love came to earth it was not a plan or a program.  It was a person.  

Eating and eating,... well, and eating some more.  All with much love and laughter.  Thanking God.

Watching Marsha prepare all that food.  And knowing it is done with love.  Jesus in action.  

Thank you God for letting me see you thru Jesus.  And thank you for letting me see Jesus thru so many of his people.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012


So what am I going to do about it?

Yesterday I shared some of what I was feeling after the horror of last Friday in Newtown.  But I am still struck by the need to do something.  So here are some things I am going to do.

Make sure that there is a kingdom presence in my corner of the world.  I will be a place of refuge from evil.  My home will be a safe haven.  My family will be those you can count on to help in time of need.  Prayer warrior, accountability partner, spiritual counselor, or someone to walk with during the hard times.

I will protect my faith zealously.  No holier-than-thou here.  Those of you that know me know that.  Boy has that ship sailed.  But I will fight to prevent Satan from gaining even a toehold in my life.  No victories for him.

I will talk about Jesus fanatically.  Even more than I do now?  Yes.

But what if everyone is not ready to hear it?  I am not sure I am smart enough to know when the time is right.  And if God's Holy Spirit puts me in someone's life, I have to assume it is to tell them about Jesus.

What if it offends them?  Better than my politics or my sports opinions offending them.

What if they don't want to hear my Jesus stories?  Or don't listen?  Or don't believe?  I cannot control the response, but if I really believe Jesus is the only answer to the evil in this world I cannot keep it to myself.

I will intentionally build bridges in my community of faith.  Hard times are coming.  I want them to know I am there with them.  And that they will be there when I need them.

I will live as if I am dead.  And I am... died with Jesus when I was baptized.  Going to live every day like it.

I will consciously surrender my spouse, parents, kids, and grandkids to the will of God.  I will pray for their protection, but I will encourage them to live courageous, bold lives for God.  And I will live in confidence that whatever happens in this life, we will all be together again someday.  Forever.

I will not let Satan make me afraid.  Or make my family afraid.  Or make my church afraid.  It is a war and we are going to battle for the King of Kings.

Come Lord Jesus... and until you do, this is how I commit to live.

And yes, I have been trying to do this for a long time.  But sometimes I need the reminder.

Finally, words to live by...

Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.  Joshua 1:9

Monday, December 17, 2012


Things to remember from a tragedy...

Everyone is still talking about the tragedy that shook our nation last Friday.  As a Christian, here a some things I was reminded about and that I must remember.

There is evil in this world.  Has been since man's fall in the Garden

Satan targets the innocent.  He did it in Moses' time.  He did it when God sent his son.  Satan is a baby killer.  Sometimes he uses gunmen.  Sometimes it is abortion.

This happened in our country and was heavily covered by news outlets.  Things just like this happen all over the world every day.  Doesn't make this easier, just need to remember that.  

I don't want to be too self-righteous.  Evil can -- and has -- infected me.  This is not the time to compare degrees of evil.  Sin is always horrible.

This world is not my home.  There is not going to be heaven on earth in our time.  Sin, pain, tears, death, and evil are here till Jesus returns and takes us home.  Real home.  Heaven.

There is horrible pain all around me.  Just in my church and in my neighborhood there are those going thru the holidays for the first time without parents, spouses, and kids who have died.  There are people wondering if their marriage will survive another year.  Friends battling for their life with addictions.  Christians eaten up with the guilt of their sin.  Despair, pain, guilt, anger, grief.  It is everywhere.

God is still God and he didn't want it to be this way.  Choices.  He lets us all make them.  Sometimes we make bad ones.  Horrible ones.   God will make all things right someday.

God gets his people through the hard times.  What do those people without Jesus do?

Bad and evil things can happen to any of us -- or our families -- at any time.  This is especially true if we are Christians.  Satan hates us most of all.

This is not about the trouble with our country or our culture needing to come back to God.  We have never been a Christian nation.  God's kingdom is not about the boundaries we draw.  Hearts turn to God, not countries.

God and Jesus are the only answers.  The only answers.

I want Jesus to come soon.

Have I not commanded you.  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.  Joshua 1:9


Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Jaclyn's journey

I baptized my friend,  Jaclyn Owusu, last weekend.  She grew up with my kids.  In fact, there were 8 or 9 families that went to church together, did ministry together, and hung out together.  It was 20 something years ago and lots has changed.  Some of those families have seen the parents divorce, and now even some of the kids.  We have faced sin, sickness, and sorrow over the years.  Some of our kids are faithful Christians doing amazing things for the kingdom.  Some of our kids are in spiritual struggles.  Some are even in a "far country" spiritually.  But almost every one of them decided as young people to be baptized into Christ.

But not Jaclyn.  Her parents were converts themselves.  They were faithful.  They installed spiritual values.  They talked about Jesus.  She watched the other kids she grew up with make the decision to become Christians.

But not Jaclyn.  She believed in God and Jesus.  She just never made the personal commitment.  And she too, drifted away from the faith of her family.  Life dealt her some hard blows.  Some her fault.  Others because this is a hard world.

But God was at work in her life.  He protected her and provided for her.  Lots of us prayed for her.  Everyone kept loving her.  And slowly she found her way back.  She rediscovered her belief in God.  She found faith in Jesus.

So she called me a couple of weeks ago and asked if she could back to Abilene so I could baptize her.  She said she was ready to die with Jesus and be raised to live a brand new life.

It was a special night.  Her family came in to witness it.  Several of the parents from our old group were there.  And some of the kids.  Others sent text messages of support.

So I want to thank Jaclyn for reminding me that God works even when we don't see it.  And for reminding me that seeds planted and watered do bring fruit.  And that God gives the increase.

So I am more inspired and motivated to plant Jesus seeds this week.  And I'll water some that are already planted.  And I won't worry about the increase.  God will give that in his time.  Not mine.

So thanks Jaclyn.  And even more, for both of us... thanks God.

Monday, December 10, 2012


Happy birthday Grandpa

Don Herttenberger turned 85 today.  Grandpa is my father-in-law and I get to spend a lot of time with him.  I do their yard and 2 or so times a month I get to take him up to the family farm for the day.  He farmed it himself for a number of years and now he leases it out but we like to go up and see what's going on, work some around the place, and sit on the back porch.  He doesn't work much any more.  His knees hurt, his eyes are going bad, and he needs a walker to get around.  I enjoy those days and I love him like he was my on Dad.  Here is why.

My on Dad is suffering from Alzheimers so we really can't talk anymore.  So Grandpa has filled that gap for me.  He is the one I talk about church problems with.  He gives me advice, he listens, and he has been around a long time.  He loves God, Jesus, and the church.  He is generous and forgiving.  

He is a great prayer.  When things are tough, I ask him to pray.  He does.  God listens.

He always tells me everything is going to be OK.  He is not blind to problems, and some of the things that drive me nuts at church are the same things that drive him nuts.  But he always reminds me that God is bigger than anything and that everything will be alright.

I am an elder because of him.  For years, he was the Southern Hills greeter.  He knew everyone and everyone knew him.  I got the benefit of that  He never would serve as an elder so I became the family elder.  

Some of our folks at Southern Hills still get confused and think I am Don's son and that is the family connection, not Marsha.  You would think the names would give it away and when people think a minute, they realize that.  But I am amazed how many people think that.  Some even say we look alike.  And boy, is one of us offended.  Just not sure which.

But when they think I am his son, I think that is about a high a compliment as I can get.

He married Granny.  Genius.  Converted her too.  

He gave me Marsha.  Not sure he wanted to, but he did.  It's made all the difference for me.

So Grandpa, I love you.  You have been a true father to me.  Thanks.

And God I speak for lots of your people when I say thanks for Don Herttenberger.  He makes a difference in this world. 

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