Friday, February 28, 2014


Happy birthday Jamie Ridgell

It is our daughter-in-law's birthday today.  Jamie Bankes Ridgell is married to our son Joe Don and here are the reasons I love her so much.

She loves our son.  It still thrills me to watch them together and to see the way they love each other.

She has given us three precious grandkids.  But what I love is the way she mothers them.  She is their teacher in home school, but she is also so intentional about faith development in each of them.

I love the way she takes everything in stride.  I know with everything going on in their lives it has to be frantic at the Ridgell house some days -- maybe most days.  But if it rattles her -- and how could it not -- she never lets it show.  She just handles one thing at a time until it all gets done.

I love the way Jamie shares her faith.  She teaches Bible class, invites friends to church, and opens their home for lots of spiritual activities.

She is a prayer warrior.  I will never forget when our Julie's son Jake was in the hospital with Kawasaki disease last summer.  Jamie came down with the kids and took Avery for a couple of days just to make her feel special.  But I also listened to her pray over Jake.  And over Julie.

She makes time for the whole family to see Joe Don's grandparents.  She always invites us for family outings:  birthdays and ballgames.  Always makes us feel wanted and welcomed.

She is a great wife, mother, sister, and daughter.  Not sister-in-law to Julie, but sister.  Not daughter-in-law to us, but daughter.

And most important, she is a daughter of the King and she gives her life to honor him.

They say that Proverbs 31 might have been written by a mother-in-law describing what she wanted her son's wife to be like.  Might explain why it seems so daunting.

But from this Daddy-in-law...

Well, let's just say you nailed it Jamie.  You are a Proverbs 31 woman.

You are blessing our son and your kids, but you bless us too.

Love you girl.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Seeing what matters...

I needed to see glimpses of what matters this week.  It was a week that would have been easy to lose sight of what real Kingdom life is about.  But I saw things that helped me focus.  Here they are.

I got to take my granddaughter Avery to the church Red Carpet date night.  Her Dad is President of their Little League and he was tied up so Pops got to sub in.  I saw a lot of Daddy's and their little girls (and I wasn't even the only Granddad).  There was intentional effort to make those girls feel special and feel loved.  Lots of our church family put in a lot of work to make it happen.  That time was special.

Joe Don and his family came in to see Marsha's Mom in the hospital.  Loved hearing about their sports.  Anna scoring 14 points in her Basketball game and Andrew leading off his baseball season with a home run.  (Yes this was blatant bragging but I am a Pops so what do you expect).  But that was not the glimpse of what matters.  It was hearing my grandkids pray for Granny -- even little Austin.  It was listening to Joe Don pray over her.  It was seeing Granny's eyes and knowing she saw faith two and three generations behind her.  It matters.

I watched good friends bury their Mom.  I heard them talk about seeing her again.

I met with a brother who is battling his sin demons.  Right now he is winning.  Even more, he is sharing his faith with courage in hard places with people who don't know Jesus.

In a week that would have been easy to get bogged down in church politics and in a week it would have easy to quit...

I saw Jesus in a party, a hospital, a graveside, and in my office.

I needed to remember what matters.  I needed to see real church.

And I did.

Thanks God.

Friday, February 21, 2014


Why the Texas Rangers don't listen to me... and I that's probably a good thing

I have been a Texas Ranger fan since they came to DFW.  I suffered thru all the horrible, bad seasons and so have loved the past few seasons when they are winning and in contention for the World Series every year.
As a fan, I have strong opinions.  I cannot fathom the things they do sometimes.  And sometimes I think they are the smartest baseball people ever.

I thought Ron Washington would not be a good manager.  Oops.

I thought they should have let Josh Hamilton sign elsewhere.  I think I was right.  Though I have to admit I liked his outspoken faith.

And by the way, loved Dave Murphy having praise music played before his at bats.  So happy when he got to play regularly.  Good guy who just needed an opportunity.  Hit over .300 year before last.  I thought they should lock him up with an extension.  Until he hit barely over .200 last year.  Oops.

And how in the world could they not figure out a way to work with Nolan.  Texas legend.  Did he really have to go?  Evidently.

Wasn't too sure about Adrian Beltre signing.  Oops.

Loved the Joe Nathan signing.  Got that one right.

And think they should have let him walk.  We'll see if I'm right on that one.

It's fun being a fan.  Love the Rangers.

I think I know baseball.  I even delude myself into thinking I know what they should and shouldn't do.
It makes it lots of fun.  And I would be a disaster.

Because I think they know a lot of things I don't know.  They have a pretty good track record.
So I'll keep rooting for the Rangers.  Avidly.  And I'll let Jon Daniels keep running the team. He seems pretty good at it.

He can do his job and build the team.  Ron can manage it.  And the players will come thru.

And I'll do my job.  Cheer, groan some, hang out with Grandpa and watch them.  Take in a game or two with the grands.

Spring training is here.  I am happy.

This is the year.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


What I am teaching my grandkids about their future mates...

I have 5 grandkids -- two girls and three boys, ages 3-8.  I expect they will all get married some day.  And I already tell them the kind of girl or boy they should marry.  I even make them repeat them back to me.  So here are the things I tell my grands are requirements for their future mates.

Loves God and Jesus.  I tell them this is more important than anything.  I tell them not to even like someone who does not love God.  I ask them if they want their someday children to love God.  When they answer. "of course," then I tell them they better marry someone who will help them raise their kids to love God.

Loves them.  I tell them they want to marry someone who is crazy in love with them.  Someone who wants to spend the whole rest of their lives together.  Someone who likes them, who thinks they are the greatest person in the whole world.

Loves babies.  This is the one I tell my grandsons.  Marry someone who loves babies.  So watch girls around babies.

Loves little kids.  I tell this one to my granddaughters.  Watch how boys treat kids younger than them.  That is how they will treat your kids someday.

And I tell them to see if little kids want to be around them.  It is hard to fake out babies and little kids.  They are drawn to good hearts.

And last, do they like dogs?  I know that we are a dog family, but it is more than that.  How people treat dogs tells you a lot about them.  I personally just don't trust people who don't like dogs.

And watch how dogs respond to the people you like.  You can't fake out a dog either.  This test goes all the way back to when Marsha and I were dating.  If my dog hadn't liked her it would have been a deal breaker.  And if either of my kids brought someone home I wasn't sure about, you better believe I sent in the dog to check them out.

As they get older, I'll tell them how to know these things.  Do they go to church?  How do they treat their your siblings?  And theirs.  How do they treat the grandparents?  Are they nice to people?  And they will figure it out.  But I sure want to plant seeds now.

Their parents will do a much better job of this, and they will be very intentional about it.  But Pops has fun with it now.

 And they think this is fun now, and my granddaughters can both already roll their eyes at Pops and his advice on picking a mate.

But I think this is important.  After all, Mimi and Pops already pray for all five of our future grandchildren-in-law.  Even if we don't know who they are for sure.  But I do think I know the kind of people they will be.

So just curious ... what do you teach your kids/grandkids about who they should marry?

And God, I pray you will help them to choose as well as I did.  Thanks.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


Seeing God when Satan attacks...

OK.  This is a very personal blog today.  As many of you know, our family has just been attacked by Satan with illness.  My Dad has Alzheimer's.  Marsha's Mom is in the hospital because of pain and her stomach either has a blockage or has quit working  Waiting to see what happens next.  Our daughter Julie is better in so many ways.  Still has a long way to go but God is healing her.  She had a major appointment today and found out the last round of tests showed no cancer.  She has had three years of one thing after another.  And on top of this, last night Julie's Avery fell on their concrete floor.  On concussion watch till around 6 tonight, but everything seems normal so far.  Could have been bad.  And that doesn't even count Jake's Kawasaki disease last summer.  Or my heart scare.  Or Marsha's sister Phyllis and her back surgery.

We are just waiting for the hospital ER to offer frequent flyer points.  Or maybe we can get a "stay 10 nights get one free."

Hate Satan and tired of his work.

But in the middle of this, I want to share three glimpses of God and his love that I saw over the past 12 hours.  And by now you know that we are a family that believes in God.  With everything within us we believe.  So here are the three things that remind me Satan never wins.

Granny wants Grandpa to spend the night in the hospital with her tonight.  He is not in shape to do that. There is not anything he can do for her.  But we are going to let him.  We will put his cot right by the bed and they will lay there and hold hands.  They will pray, and cry, and whisper.  Don't imagine either will sleep a wink.  That is what love looks like after 68 years of marriage.  It is what a marriage built on Jesus looks like.  It is a great love story.

And Julie went to her appointment today.  She went and signed in at the counter.  When she turned around, there was her Mom sitting there.  Julie burst into tears.  She had told Mimi to stay with Granny.  But Granny told Marsha to get over there and be with Julie.  Still Mimi's little girl even at 37.  But when you love, you show up.  You be there no matter what else is going on.  Like God is always there for us.

And when church heard about Avery last night, I lost track of the number of calls, texts, Facebook messages, and emails.  Offers to help.  Offers to sit with Granny, check on Grandpa, help with Jake.  Offers to help Mimi and Pops.  And prayers, prayers, prayers.  Family.  It's what God's people do for each other.

Strong marriage.  Strong family.  Strong church.  Faithful.  Honoring God.  Doing kingdom work in the midst of pain.

Satan doesn't have a chance.

We win.  Now and forever.

Thanks God for the glimpses of your presence.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Scottie Minton is home...

I preached the memorial service Sunday afternoon for Scottie Minton.  He was 40 years old and had Cerebral Palsy.  His parents, Danny and Kathy, adopted him as an infant.  When they found out how severe his illness was, the adoption agency offered to let them "return" Scottie.  They chose not too.  What if he had been their natural son?  They just believed that God had given them Scottie.  They took care of that precious gift for 40 years.

I believe Scottie's illness was a result of the fact that we live in a fallen world.  But even so, I believe God has a purpose for all his creation.  I believe he had a purpose for Scottie.  And I think it was to help so many of us see Jesus more clearly.

So here are those things I mentioned that I learned from Scottie Minton.

Express joy often and loudly.  He had a great laugh.  Marsha and I were sitting in a hospital waiting room with the Mintons about a week before Scottie died.  Danny started laughing at something and that got Scottie started.  And then Kathy.  And then Marsha and I too.  It was fun, loud, inspiring... and holy.  Of course, I also like it that Scottie laughed at horror movies, musicals, and running horses.  I think his favorite movie would be Walking Dead, the West Side Story.  And set in the old west.

Hurt for the helpless.  One thing always got Scottie agitated.  It was when he heard a crying baby.  As if their pain became his.  Just like Jesus.

Grace.  Watching the Mintons care for helpless Scottie reminded me that Christ died for the helpless.  I am much more like Scottie than some would think.

Love.  Unconditional, unending, sacrificial.

Gospel.  The Mintons are a great love story.  Just like the gospel.  When I tell Scottie's story, I am getting to tell the story of God's love, his sacrificial love to give us what we could not do for ourselves.  And it is the story of resurrection hope.

So Scottie fulfilled his purpose well in this life.  I hope to do as well with my purpose.

And Scottie I'll see you soon.  This time you will know who I am.  You can even take me on a tour of heaven.  A walking tour.  How great is that.

You lived well.  You helped us all see Jesus.  And now you see him in all his glory.

Thank you God for letting us know your child Scottie.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014


At war with the forces of evil...

I believe we are at war with the forces of evil.  I believe Satan attacks the kingdom at every opportunity.  I believe he he tries to stop, discourage, or destroy every good work.

Here are few ways I think I  have seen him in action.

The church where I am an elder plans a major giving Sunday each year to fund our short-term missions, non-profits we support, and various projects.  It does not count the several missionaries who are part of our regular budget.  We encourage our members to go and many of our members are part of non-profits doing great things for the Lord.  (Full disclosure:  I work for Hope for Life/Herald of Truth and we support that ministry).  On the day of our big contribution, we had an ice storm in west Texas.  Cut our crowd way down.  So we scheduled a make-up Sunday and it happened again.  Ice storm in west Texas.

You might just think that is coincidence, but I wonder if Satan was trying to keep us from raising money to do things that bring people to Jesus.  Should of just killed our Harvest Sunday campaign.

Last time I checked, we were at about 96% of our goal with about 2/3 of the money already given.

I was in Guatemala last week as part of an evangelistic campaign sponsored by Herald of Truth, some of the local congregations in Guatemala City.  Preacher students from the Biblical Institute of Central America helped with door knocking and Bible studies.  Good crowd Friday night with lots of visitors.  Great momentum.  Very excited for Saturday night.  And that is the night there were two major accidents blocking traffic in exactly the part of the city where we were meeting.  Many of those expecting to come could not get there.

So did Satan have a hand in any of that?  I don't know, but I do know this.

Some walked, some came late, and even though the crowd was down there was still energy and excitement for Jesus.  And Sunday night was our biggest crowd.  And so far 11 have been baptized into Christ with many studies still ongoing.

And tonight our elders are having a special time of prayer because almost 1/2 of our elders have significant health issues with themselves, their mates, their parents, or their kids.

Satan trying to distract us?  Discourage us?

Yet, we are baptizing non-believers every week, we are committing to even more mission work.

So I am not sure how much of this is directly tied to Satan and his attacks on the kingdom.  But I do know this.  It is not working.

And God is.  Just like always.  Satan will never win.  We will cling to Jesus, trust God, and fight the good fight till we go home.

Satan loses.

God wins.

And so do we.


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