Tuesday, October 25, 2016


My mother-in-law is home for good

Jean Herttenberger, Marsha's mom, is home.  It was a long journey and we knew it was coming. God's promise of no more pain and tears is real now in her life.  Here are a few of the thoughts shared at her funeral celebration.

She died like she lived.  Faithful.  She was baptized when Marsha was just a couple of months old.  Realized she wanted to be a Christian wife and mother.  And she was.

She loved her family.  Married to Grandpa over 71 years.  Some of those years were hard and sometimes they fought.  But they always loved.  What a testimony to faithful marriage.  For better or worse.  Richer or poorer.  Sickness or health.  They modeled all of that for us.  She was the emotional center of their home.

Raised three faithful kids.  Not perfect but faithful.

Left a faith legacy.  One of her grandsons, Joe Don, helped do  her funeral.  Pretty special when your son, son-in-law, and grandson all speak at your funeral.

She had a really special bond with her daughter Marsha.  Granny taught Marsha to love Jesus and to live her faith.  Marsha and Granny taught our daughter Julie to love Jesus and live her faith.  And then Granny, Marsha, and Julie taught Julie's daughter Avery to love Jesus and live her faith.  We called them #1, 2, 3, and 4.  Sweet and special.

She made a home.  There is no way to tally the number of people who ate around their table.  Or how many meals Granny fixed for people.  Everyone that came to see her got her hug, her smile, and an "I love you".  Everyone.  Her son, Donnie, talked about how she always made him feel special.  So did Joe Don.  So did I.  It was one of her gifts to all of us.

Everyone thought that they were her favorite.  I did.  Marsha did.  Julie did. Avery did.  And on and on it went.

She loved prayer circles.  Holding hands and praying.  Really loved to hear her great-grandkids pray.
Loved singing.  In her last months, she came to love the song This Is the Day.  Not sure how this all happened but I do know that Joe Don and his family sing it at breakfast.  I know Julie's two sing it on the way to school.  I heard Marsha sing it to her, I sang it to her, her greats sang it to her.  We all sang it to her.  Often she would sing it with us.

It was how she lived life.  Every day was a gift from God.  A day to be happy.  A day to love Jesus.  A day to live her faith.

She was special to me.  Loved me when she didn't have to -- and maybe shouldn't have -- but did.

We knew I would probably be off preaching somewhere when she went home.  We talked about it.  She told me to go talk about Jesus.  Just come back and do her funeral.

I was in Nicaragua the day she died.  Made it home and did the funeral.

Looking forward to when I get to see her again.

And I will.

Thanks God for Granny.  Thanks for loving her home.  She loved you and loved us.  She made us feel special.  Her life is still seen in Marsha, Julie, and Avery.  She died like she lived.  She honored you.

Thursday, October 13, 2016


Elder Authority

I believe in elder authority.  I believe that elders/overseers/leaders have the authority to make decisions for the church.  And I believe the elders have authority to speak into individual lives under their care.  Many people seem to bristle at that concept so I thought I would share where elders get their authority.

Scripture.  The Bible talks about elders being overseers, that the members are under our care, that they are to submit, that we have authority, that they should obey, and that we will give account for the souls under our care.  So I do believe God expects me to speak into the lives of my sheep.  I do believe elders can, and should, speak to how you live.  But we better do it in the right way.  We do not lord it over the flock.  And we will answer for your soul.

Knowledge of Scripture.  When we speak into your lives, we better be using Scripture.  When we are rebuking, teaching, correcting, and instructing ... we better be using Scripture.  That is what it is useful for.  Elders are to know Scripture so we can protect you from false teaching by others.  One of the characteristics of elders is that they are teachers.  Using Scripture.  In fact, elders that direct the church well, and especially those who teach and preach, are even worth paying.  So when an elder sits with you and tells you what to do, or how to live ... they will have an open Bible.

Example.  Elder authority comes not just from the Scriptures and from knowing Scripture.  It also comes from who we are.  You are to follow the example of elders.  You are to study how their life has turned out and imitate them.  Elders have healthy marriages and faithful kids.  You should look to your elders and their families to learn how to be married and how to parent.  You should watch elders to learn how to serve and how to tell others about Jesus.  Elder families should model forgiveness.  Elders should show you how to live forgiven.  How to face sickness and death.  How to deal with sin.

Maybe that is why your elders/overseers/leaders are well... elderly.  We have learned about life as a Jesus follower.  We have figured out how Scripture speaks into our lives.  And we know how to share that.

Scripture gives elders authority.  And it tells them how to use it.

So listen to us.  Watch us.  Follow us.  We will get you home safely.  God entrusted your soul to us and we are watching out for you.

So God thank you for elders and wives who have taken care of me and mine.  Men like Jack, Bill, my Dad, and so many more who have used the authority you gave them to speak into my life.  Thank you for my elders that still have lead me today.  They have made sure that I -- and my family -- are going to get home to you.  Thank you for those you have entrusted to me.  I will do everything I can to get them home to you.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016


I am going to make the United States better...

I am really concerned about a number of things happening in the United States recently.

Election season with the overwhelming majority of campaigning done on both sides consists of character assassination and lies.

Living in a culture where everyone is encouraged to make their own decisions about what is right and/or what is wrong.  And should you disagree with someone, you are reviled and attacked.

It is time I did something about it.

But here is what I am not going to do.

I am not going to lament the good old days in our country.  Because there were no good old days.  Injustice, greed, hatred, racism, and evil have been around since our country started.  Civil war, slavery, abortions, robber barons, These are just a few of the ways evil is -- or has been -- demonstrated in our country.

I am not going to lobby for moral laws so we can legislate Christian behavior.

I am not going to huddle in fear of what this world is coming to.  This world is coming to the same thing it came to with Adam and Eve in the Garden.  Satan is powerful and evil abounds.

I am not going to hope somehow the Church will become relevant in our society.  Not going to put my faith in bigger and better buildings.  Or in devising more relevant programs.

Not going to write a few checks to local charities to ease my conscience.
No... it is too easy to moan and groan and complain.  Too easy to put trust in politics.  Too simplistic to hope the corporate Church can do something.  Too easy to write a check for someone else to do something.

I believe it is time to be courageous.

So here is what I am going to do.  Come to think about it... what I have been doing.  What I was called to do when I decided to follow Jesus.

Live the way Jesus did.  I am going to try every day to follow him.  To do what he would do.  To not do what he would not do.  I will live counter to my culture.  Loving God with everything I have.

I am going to radically love the people I connect to in my life orbit.  I am going to serve.  Helping my neighbors.  Being a friend to the lonely and the friendless.

And I am going to talk about Jesus.  I am going to tell people about the one who died for our sins and was raised back to life.  And I going to invite people to join me on the Jesus journey.  Helping them learn to love God and love their neighbors.

And when I do that, my corner of the world changes.  And when the people who follow Jesus make other followers, the world changes a little more.

That is how to change a family, a neighborhood, a city, a nation, and a world.

And I can do that.  Not elections, not programs, not other people.

Me.  I can make a difference.  I have.  And I will.

You can too.

So Father, give us the courage to live in our world.  To serve in our world.  To speak good news into our world.  Help us to live as your followers.  Forgive us when we think elections and programs are better than our getting into the lives of those you put in our world.  Help us to love you radically and to love others radically.  Use us -- use me -- to change the world forever.     

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?