Wednesday, May 31, 2017


Am I really following Jesus if it is easy?

What does it cost to follow Jesus?

Jesus uses language like leaving family and work to follow him.

He talks of denying self and taking up our cross.

He speaks of persecution.

Baptism is described as dying with Jesus.

Which leads me to ask what it is that following Jesus has cost us.

Is there anything in your life that is different because of Jesus?

Is there anything you have had to change because of him?

I am not sure following Jesus should ever be easy.  After all, dying is hard.

So maybe our conversations should not be about meeting our needs.  Or finding what makes me happy.  Or chasing cheap grace.  Thinking repentance is about being sorry or being caught.

What if following Jesus cannot be about what we want, what makes us happy, or what fulfills our perceived needs for self esteem and satisfaction?

The discussion should always be about Jesus.  And in following him we will find what we are looking for because he really does know better than us what real life is.

Just thinking about hard decisions and life choices.

Admitting that most of the problems in my life came because I put myself before Jesus.

Helping some in my flock get their eyes on Jesus instead of themselves.

Realizing that most church problems and fights come because we are defining what God wants through our eyes, not his.

Sometimes wishing things could be the way I want them to be.  Or wondering why God doesn't understand that I have this life thing figured out.

But that is not how dead people should think.

We were crucified with Jesus.  Maybe we ought to try and live that way.

Dying, persecution, and self denial.  That is the Jesus way.

It is hard.

And it is worth it.

Thursday, May 18, 2017


Celebrating 44 years of life together

I asked.  She said yes.

And tomorrow we celebrate 44 years of doing life together.

Here are just a few reasons I would choose Marsha all over again.

She loves God.  It's not so much that she talks about Jesus.  It's more that she does Jesus.  She is a really good person.  She loves others.  Thinks of others.  Serves others.  Puts others before herself.

We have buried both her folks this year.  I watched her care for her folks.  It was holy.

She has a heart for the marginalized and those that need help.  Food, advice, rides, money.  I have seen her give it all.  But she is drawn to those in need.

She has a heart for those who do not know Jesus.  She has them in our home.  Spends time praying for them.  Shares stories with them.  Invites them.

Loves her family.  Great Mom.  Sensational Mimi.  Her kids and grands really do love her.  Because she loves them.

She loves me.  She could have done better.  But she chose me.  She lets me go almost every weekend to tell people about Jesus.  Takes care of me in more ways than I even realize.

We make a good team.  Come see me to hear about Jesus.  Come see her to see what Jesus looks like in real life.

She still makes my heart skip a beat when she walks into the room.

I am blessed.

Monday, May 15, 2017


My father-in-law, Don Herttenberger, is home forever

My father-in-law, Don Herttenberger, is home with God and Granny.  My son and I will do his funeral Wednesday morning at Southern Hills.

But I wanted to share a few reasons why I love him so much.

My Dad had Alzheimers for several years before he went home and Don became my dad.  Treated me like his own son.  

He gave me Marsha.  But more than that, he modeled what it means to be a faithful and loving husband.  He took care of his wife for 71 years.  Right till she went home about seven months ago.  After that, he was ready to go.  He had done what he promised to do.  Took care of Granny.  Raised three faithful children.  Took care of his extended family also.  

He was a farmer.  I learned a lot about ministry from the farm.  Getting ground ready, planting, watering, and praying for God to give the increase.  He prayed over his crops.  He trusted God when they were abundant and when they did not make.  There were a couple of years when it was just me and him going up there.  Talked a lot about farming, family, and faith.  

And I sure learned a lot about following Jesus from Grandpa.    He was a world class hospital visitor and greeter at Southern Hills.  Read his Bible.  Prayed.  Took literally thousands of meals to people.  

He was my elder sounding board.  I asked his opinion about a lot of shepherding issues.  And I always got good advice.

His favorite saying:  "It'll all be alright."

And it is.  He is with Granny and God.  His legacy of faith is rich and continues right thru his great-grandchildren.  

I was blessed to marry Marsha.  Getting her folks made it the deal of a lifetime.  And then forever.

You did good Grandpa.  See you soon.

Thursday, May 04, 2017


The Parable of the Ad Salesman and the Soul Winner

I have always tried to make disciples of Jesus.  Sometimes I was paid by a church, sometimes I supported myself.  There was a period of time when my income came from selling ads for a phone book.  I was especially good at selling new advertisers.  Good enough to win some awards.  Even more telling... good enough to have members of my sales team ask me how I did it.  

Jesus taught a lot of lessons from everyday life.  He called them parables.  Everyday stories that had spiritual application.  So here is what I did to sell new advertisers.  I think there is a lesson here about sharing Jesus.

When asked how I sold so many new accounts, I always said it was a God thing.  I asked him to bless my business and I gave him the glory when it went well.

I worked really hard at it.  I talked to every business I could about advertising in our book.  I noticed a direct correlation between how many businesses I talked to and how much I sold.

I thought the product sold itself.  I just told stories about how it had helped other businesses to grow.
But I always asked for the sale.

I had a lot of fun.  And I did really well.  Thanks God.


I ask God to help me see the people around me that need Jesus.  I give him the glory when people respond to his Son.

I talk to a lot of people.  I ask visitors to my church if they have any questions or want to know more about following Jesus.  Every time I speak anywhere I ask people to please let us know if they have questions.

Jesus sells himself.  I just tell stories from Scripture and stories about followers today.  Stories of how Jesus makes a difference.

I always ask if they want to visit a service with me, or if they want to hear another story, or if they want to die with Jesus and be raised to a new life.

And God has -- and is -- giving a great harvest.

And it is fun.  I am happy and blessed.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017


Church Myths: The Sunday assembly is not the most important hour of the week

I am not sure I have ever heard any church leader proclaim that Sunday morning worship assembly is the most important hour of the week.  In fact, they all deny it.  We all claim that the hours outside the building are much more important.

And I think our actions absolutely proclaim that Sunday morning worship is more important to the church than anything else.

What does every new congregation do as soon as they can?  Build a building.  And the main focus of that building is the sanctuary/auditorium.  A lot of money is invested in those worship centers.  And how often is yours used?

The first hire is a preacher.  And what is his main job function?  To preach -- maybe only once per week.  How is he evaluated?  By how many people are showing up on Sunday morning.  If the crowds are going down, better look for a better preacher.  If the crowds are growing, give him a raise.
Listen to us talk about the great things going on.  Building programs, satellite campuses, growing crowds.  We even think the great accomplishment in some churches is to do something different in the assembly.  Change worship (or be sure it stays the same).  I even hear churches talking about women's ministry and I realize in almost every case they are just talking about what happens in that one hour on Sunday and not actual ministry by women.

Most of us pick our churches based on what happens on Sundays.  Do we like the worship style?  Do we connect with the preaching?

Because the truth is that most of our leaders and members like it this way.

Preachers like it because if the worship time is not the main focus it might get very difficult to justify the paycheck.

Elders like it because that is something you can see and measure.  Real shepherding is hard and exhausting -- and does not happen in an assembly.

Members like it because it is easy.  Evangelism gets reduced to an invitation to come to church.  Bible study is handled by the guy we pay to talk for 20, 30, or 40 minutes.  And all you really need to do is show up, shut up, and pay up.

But it does not have to be that way.  Members can -- and some do -- live, serve, and make disciples outside of that one hour.  Preachers become evangelists.  Elders become shepherds.  Deacons serve people.

Maybe our assemblies could become a way for all of us to be inspired and motivated to go out and do real church in our communities and families.  

But all of that would require radical reordering of our lives and churches.

Let's just stick to buildings, and arguing about one hour worship and who can lead it.

Our actions really do speak louder than our words.

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