Thursday, May 28, 2015


Praying the "God Knows" Prayer

Today I have been praying for people I do not know.  Or at least I do not know that I know them.  I am praying for the people who struggle in secret, who are ashamed, and who do not think they can ask for help.  And praying for the ones who want to help.

I don't know them but God does.

I am praying for the Christian business man in a hotel room about to do battle with his porn addiction.

And the sweet Christian sister who is disgusted by the way she looks and knows the ice cream is still in the freezer.  And wants it to stay there.

Praying for the hurting parent whose child is living in a far country spiritually.  Hurting for the pain and guilt they feel.

Praying for the Christian neighbor who is having friends over tonight hoping to have a chance to say a word for Jesus.

And the teenager who wants to be so much like Jesus and to be popular... and doesn't know if they co-exist.

The wife who knows what she and her boss did today was flirting and worrying about where it could lead.

And the husband who just wishes he could believe his wife still loves him.

The preacher who is agonizing over exactly what to say when he stands before God's people this Sunday.

Asking God to bless the single parent who is worried about money, kids, and is so desperately lonely.

And the soul who is so close to making the call for someone to baptize him.

The patient asking God to be with them in surgery tomorrow.  And their family.

Asking God to protect the child hoping their door does not open in the middle of the night.  And for the one who might open it.

For the Dad who wonders where they will get enough food to eat tomorrow.

Praying for the Bible class teacher working on Sunday's lesson.  And the teacher writing notes to the kids in her Bible class.

And the Christian about to walk across the street and ask their neighbor to go to church with them.

God, I don't know who these people are.  Not even all the ones in my own flock.  And there are so many more to pray for in a broken world.  Both those I know and those I don't.  And so many of your people trying to work with you and for you to make it right.  It feels overwhelming to me, but not to you.  So thanks and take care of all these.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015


Of course it is raining in West Texas

Well, more than just raining... it is really, really, really raining.   In West Texas.  And I am amused by some of the things I am hearing.  I actually hear some people complaining about the rain.  We live in WEST TEXAS.  Never, ever, complain about rain.

I hear people wondering if it will ever stop.  Yes it will.  God promised he would not destroy the world again by flood, so...

Mosquitoes are everywhere, ant beds are all over the yard, and snakes come out with this much water.  That's true.  And when it is too dry, skunks and possums, and raccoons show up in backyards looking for water.  Every action has a reaction.  I'll take my chances with all the above to have water.

Some are upset because the rain keeps them from "doing anything."  OK... time to read a book, read your Bible, have a conversation, cook a meal.  Enjoy slowing down some.

But here is the one that amazes me the most.

"I can't believe it is raining so much."


"Where did all this rain come from?"

I know the answer.

It came from God.

Lots of us Christians in West Texas have prayed fervently for God to send rain to break the drought out here.

And He did.

We asked and he gave,

We Christians are not surprised at all.

So we give Him the credit and glory.

And if we have another drought, we will still praise Him and give Him the glory.

After all, it is His world and we are His people.  We ask in faith and He answers in the way that is best.

It reminds us all how much we depend on God for everything.

But I just want to say thanks God.  We needed rain and you are sending it.  Powerful, life sustaining water.


Thursday, May 21, 2015


Everybody's great or nobody's great

Having five grandkids means you see a lot of ballgames, recitals, and award assemblies.  I have noticed something recently that seems to be becoming more and more prevalent.

One is the "Everybody is great" approach.  You know how it goes:  "Now we are going to recognize all the outstanding students.  Will everyone rise."  In an effort not to hurt any child's self-esteem, we tell them the lie that everyone is a star.  They know from a very early age that is not the truth.  Some kids are smarter, some are more athletic, some are more gifted musically, and some are better at building things.  Does it really help your child for everyone to tell them what a great athlete they are right up until the time they are cut from the high school baseball team.  Or they go to a school that has an honor roll actually based on your grades.  Or they do not in fact get into the college of their choice.  Or they go to work someday and are not promoted because others are better at the job than they are.

I am all for building self-esteem but not by lying to our kids.

Or it goes the other way.  I saw a graduation for second graders the other day.  Just like one I attended last year.  All the students were called to the stage and received their diploma promoting them to third grade.  They had their name announced and proud parents clapped for them.  Very special.  There was also a group of students who maintained a 95 average in every subject for the entire year. This particular school district wants to promote academic excellence so these students got a medal in addition to their diploma.

Last year, the high academic students had an extra statement added to their name recognizing the achievement and they got their diploma and a medal around their neck.  Evidently some students -- or more likely, some parents -- did not like the fact that these students were recognized for this.  It implied that some students were not as good a student as others.  So this year every student got an envelope with their diploma inside.  The academic achievers got their medal, but it was just in their envelope and no mention made of it.

When the assembly was over, the medals were being put on necks and it was quickly obvious who the high academic achievers were.  Except no one recognized them for it publicly.  So they are learning that we want you to be a really good student, but it is not a big deal and do not let everyone else know.

So what does that teach our kids?  There is a subtle message communicated about effort and success.  Why try if we are going to pretend everyone is a star?  Or why make extra effort if we pretend it does not matter?

Oh well, maybe I am just a old geezer who doesn't get it.

Except for one thing.  If we are talking about Jesus and spirituality I am all about the everyone is great concept.  Because of Jesus, that is true.  And really no one is great because everything we have and do is because of Jesus.  So just get the diploma and there are no medals.  But we are all winners in Jesus.

And in the long run, the Jesus deal is the only thing that really matters.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


What do you do to celebrate 42 years together... or how do you stay married 42 years?

Two most asked questions today on our 42nd birthday.  What have you done special to celebrate?  Or, how in the world do you stay married 42 years?

It was interesting to find out that what we are doing during our anniversary week is pretty much the same stuff that has kept us together.  So here are some of the things we have been doing.

Hung out a lot.  Cooked out, walked, prayed, went to church, traveled to see Grandkids.  Just spent time doing life together.

Talked to parents and kids.  Saw Grand's ballgames and gymnastic programs.  Fished with the boys.  Went to award assemblies. Cared for parents.  Worked at the family farm.  Lots of time with family.

Taught Bible class, had a Bible study, talked about sharing Jesus, visited hospital, prayed with people, worked on VBS plans, gave some spiritual advice.  Ministry and church stuff.

Thinking about our week, I remember laughing lots, crying some, praying a bunch, eating together and with others, helping others, hugging, working, seeing the fam.

So what's the common theme here?

God, Jesus, family, church, hang out together, laugh lots.

That's pretty much what we do.  It's who we are.  And it's what has kept us together 42 years.

So if you want to stay married 42 years, here is the secret... at least from my viewpoint.

Jesus first.

Family is everything.

Don't quit.

Laugh and love.

Hang out together.

Stay in church.

Pick well.

It has worked for me for 42 years.

Thanks God for blessing me with Marsha.  I got a keeper.

Thursday, May 14, 2015


God and Tony are doing work in Cuba

Tony Fernandez works for Hope for Life/Herald of Truth in Cuba.  One of his main responsibilities is to coordinate the Cuban follow-up to Tim Archer's radio programs.  Tim got this message from Tony last night.

"I'm getting letters by the ton and people calling on the phone asking for Bible studies. This is taking on dramatic dimensions. I'll be working late into the night tonight for we've had many requests this week. I've started taking the packages to 3 different post offices since they need time to process the packages; this way they get out Finding stamps and envelopes is driving me crazy. There aren't enough and sometimes I have to drive to other provinces to get some after I've bought all they have here.
I'm just asking for prayers. I've been doing this for 20 years and know that the Lord always provides."

I love to hear what God is doing around the world.  One reason I blog is to share my thoughts obviously, but also to let you know when God has done an amazing thing.

He is doing something amazing in Cuba.

So take a moment and pray for Cuba.  Pray for the people that hear Tim's program.  It is not an easy thing just to send a letter there.  And they are getting hundreds of letters weekly.

Pray the Tony can find the envelopes and the stamps to respond to all of these.

Pray for those these contacts.  Tony will follow-up in person with many of these who want more study or to become Christians.  Pray for the Christians in Cuba that Tony will contact to help with the follow-up.

Pray for energy for Tony and his team.  Passionate to reach people with the story of Jesus.

Pray for God to give the increase.  Many of these will become Christians and for many of them, they will be the first Christians in their village.

And Tony and your Cuban brothers and sisters will want to know what they need to pray for as we face obstacles in telling people about Jesus.

What do I tell them?

God, thanks for Tony and for your people in Cuba.  Give them what they need to share the story of your Son in Cuba.  And thank you for letting them inspire me to keep doing the same in my part of the world.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


70 mile an hour winds, 100 year old trees, and God

I first heard it on one of our local television station during a weather alert.  Winds up to 70 miles per hour, torrential rain, hail, and tornado warnings between Rule and Rochester.  That caught my attention.  That is right where the family farm is.  We have a farmhouse, garage, and barn.  We have a hog fence around the cultivated field.  Cattle fence around the pasture.  Two rows of trees that are over 100 years old.

So Saturday morning I drove up to see the damage.  Water standing in the fields everywhere.  The road was covered in several places.  Had to drive carefully thru a couple of low spots getting to the farm.  The dirt road to the farm was quite the adventure, but I got there.  I could see the house standing.  And the barn and garage.  Two limbs down in the front but no worse than many a storm up that way.  Then I turned into the drive leading to the house.

And stopped.

Two trees split down the middle and laying across the drive.  Our biggest Mesquite tree in the back was broken off at about four feet.

But none of them fell into the house.  Several limbs were over the fence but none of them broke wire. One big limb laying one foot from the Butane tank, but didn't hit it.  Not even a widow broken in the house.  Just one screen torn.

We think a wind gust traveled right down the drive taking out trees.  Narrow and powerful.  Then lifted up and went on it's way.


I am amazed at the power of nature.  I can only imagine what it would have been like to be there during that storm.  Though I have to admit, we would have been out in the storm cellar.

The big tree could have hit the propane tank.  That would have been ugly.  Trees around the barn and garage not hit.  The ones by the house fell away not toward the house.

So thanks God.  Thanks for sparing the house, the outbuildings, and the wheat.  Thanks for reminding me that we are not as in charge of things as we think.  And because I believe you have power over nature, thanks for giving us a glimpse of your power.  

Just wanted to share what I've been thinking about the past few days.  One more thing,  The clean-up reminds me I'm not as young or as strong as I used to be.  But we have wood for the winter next year.

Thursday, May 07, 2015


Happy birthday to Granny

Granny, that's Marsha's Mom Jean Herttenberger, turned 87 this week.  She celebrated in the hospital where she is recovering from some surgery.  I love Granny, so here is why I love her and am proud of her.

She stays amazingly cheerful and upbeat in spite of living with increasing pain.  She has survived cancer, a broken hip, and a degenerating spine.  But I love her smile.

She is tough.  Most people would quit trying if they had as many setbacks as she has.  But she never gives up.  She works at her Rehab.  She doesn't complain.

She sets the bar high for the women in our family.  She is a great role model.  I call her #1 and Marsha #2.  I see so much in Marsha that she has learned from Granny.  And my daughter Julie is #3.  I can see her Granny and Mimi in her.  And now her daughter Avery is #4.  Tough, faithful, loving, serving, working women.  It is a legacy.

Granny is ready to die.  Has been for a long time.  I think that is a great way to live.

She loves God and her church friends.  She adores her family -- kids and in-laws, grands, great-grands, and all the extended family.

She treats me like a son and not a son-in-law.  Everyone says that is what they do.  She is one of the few people that doesn't say it.  She just does it.

And on top of everything else, she has been married to Grandpa for 70 years.  Love that.

And of course, I love her for raising Marsha.

So thanks God for Granny.  She has blessed us all in more ways than we could ever realize.  But you know.  So thanks.

Happy birthday Granny.  I'll be by for more cake later.  And don't worry... I won't tell the other kids that I'm your favorite.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015


What is going on with that church in Abilene?

Since I travel to churches all over the United States, and when people find out I live in Abilene, I often get questions about specific churches of Christ there.  Is it true?  What is going on?  What do you think?  I have heard it asked about University, Highland, Oldham, Hillcrest, Baker Heights,
Southern Hills, etc, etc.  It has been asked out of curiosity.  Sometimes it has been asked with what sure seemed to be a mean, judgmental spirit.  And sometimes in a condescending, judgmental spirit.  It is usually a question about worship styles, organization, or personnel.

So here is how I answer that question about what is going on with that church in Abilene.

Almost every time I tell them I do not know since I am not a member there.  And almost every time, they will follow it with this question:  but what do you think about...?

So I have to tell them that I don't have time or energy to worry about what other congregations are doing.  I am an elder at Southern Hills, and I can barely keep up with what we are doing. I am way too busy reaching people and living life with my Southern Hills family to worry about what anyone else is doing.  If they still persist, here are things I go on to tell them.  And to tell you.

I doubt I agree with everything they are doing.  I don't even agree with everything Southern Hills is doing.  I doubt I agree with everything your church is doing.  But I am not responsible for those other congregations.

I know elders and staff at every church of Christ in Abilene.  I have preached at almost every one.  And I can say without reservation that the leadership of every one of them is doing the best they can to be faithful to Jesus.  They all value Scripture and they want their people to love Jesus more and more.  Every one of them wants to be influential in leading people in Abilene to Jesus.

I know they are all baptizing people from our community who have learned about Jesus from them.  I know they are trying to live as a community of Jesus followers.  And I know every Sunday when I am sharing the death of Jesus in Communion, so are they.

I pray for every one of those churches to be blessed in their efforts to share Jesus.

So I am probably the wrong person to ask what is going on in with so and so church in Abilene.

I love them all.


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