Thursday, August 31, 2017


How my friend Al became my brother

Al was a nurse who often gave end of life care to older people.  That was how he met one of my fellow elders, Guy.  Al gave care to Guy's father.  Guy periodically invited Al to church at Southern Hills but Al never took him up on it.

Then Al's eyesight started going and he had to give up nursing, then driving.  Guy would occasionally give Al a ride or help out with something.  Life was not turning out like Al had planned, or how he wanted.  It became increasingly difficult for Al to see well.

One day Al was walking to get gas so he could try and mow his yard.  One of our members, Tony, saw Al, gave him a ride to get gas, bought him a coke, and invited him to church.

A few days later, Al called a taxi to take him to an eye appointment.  He told the taxi driver he could not remember the address of Dr. Avila.  The driver, Chance, said he went to church with Dr. Avila at Southern Hills and he would get Al to his appointment.  Chance asked Al to church (and by the way, Chance has been a Christian only about three years).

And then Guy called and invited Al to church.  Al said he wasn't sure what was going on, but it sure seemed like God wanted him to check out Southern Hills.  He was telling his next door neighbor this story and the neighbor said he knew someone at Southern Hills.  He was an elder named Steve and his Dad had heard Steve preach at the neighbor's home town church.

So Al came with Guy.  Met a lot of people.  A lot of nice people who were very friendly.  He even got to meet elder Steve, who thanked him for coming and asked if he had any questions.  Al did in fact have some questions.  And that is how I met Al.

So Guy, Al, and I would meet every week for coffee and talk about life.  And tell Jesus stories, and ask and answer questions.  And pray about things.

One day a long time friend of Al's, Bruce, came over to check on him.  Al told him he had been talking with Steve about following Jesus and being baptized.  But Al wasn't real sure what he wanted to do.  Bruce told him he was teaching a class out at Hamby chruch of Christ on the book of Acts and maybe he would like to come hear.  So Al did.

A couple of weeks later, Al told Guy and me that Bruce was saying the same things we had been talking about.  I told him of course -- same book, same stories.

So a couple of weeks ago, Guy and Bruce baptized Al into Christ.

Because Al was honest and seeking God's will for a life turned upside down.  Because some Christians lived out their faith by serving their neighbor and by speaking a word for Jesus.  Because some brothers shared the good news of Jesus.  Because God still connects seekers and believers.

Al told me the other day I would not believe all the good things happening to him since he was baptized.  I told him that actually I really would.

So God thanks for Al.  Thanks for Guy, and Tony, and Chance, and Gabe, and Leon, and Bill, and Bruce, and Cody, and well ... more people than I even know.  But you know them.  And used them.  And your Kingdom grew.  So bless and protect Al.  In Jesus.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


God, Giving, Glory, and Natural Disasters

It happens every time a natural disaster strikes.  People want to know how they can help.  As Christians, that is our nature.  We want to love our neighbor as our self, and we want to serve others.

Let me say first that helping in a time of disaster is much more than money.  If you can give of your time and muscles, or if you can open your home, then do so.  Pray.  Prayer is not something you do if you cannot help in any other way, it is what you do before, during, and after all other help.

But having said that, financial contributions can be invaluable in times of disaster.  There are any number of organizations that use contributions to provide needed supplies during these times.  Many of these organizations are even faith based.  I appreciate all they do.

But personally, I am giving to local churches, or to groups that partner with local churches.

And here is why.  Because God gets the glory.  Other organizations do relief in their name and they get the glory.  Churches do relief in the name of Jesus.  So God gets the glory.

Local churches help their own.  They are part of my household of faith.  We are told Scripture to help all people, but especially those in our spiritual family.  What a great testimony for our world to see us taking care of own.  To hear someone say that their church is helping them.  There is an attraction there that may lead people to see about being part of a community like that.

And when churches help outsiders in the name of Jesus, there is a door opened to share the good news of Jesus.

I want God to get the glory when I use his money to help others in crisis.

I want there to be doors of opportunity opened to share Jesus.

So to help those in Houston devastated by Hurricane Harvey, I am sending my help to the West Houston Church of Christ.  17100 West Road.  Houston, TX 77095.

Why West Houston?  Well, there are lots of churches helping people in and around Houston, but I know this church.  I did some preaching for them a couple of years ago.  I know their elders, some of their staff, and many of their members.  They will use this for God's glory and to grow the Kingdom.

So find your local church connection, or an organization that works thru local churches, and give to them.

So God gets the glory and the Kingdom will grow.

It is who we are and why we are here.

Thursday, August 17, 2017


Three things I know about our country and our world ... and Jesus

OK.  Let me start by getting the obvious out of the way first.  Racism bad.  Violence not the answer.  Hatred will not win.

Nope, don't really feel better.  So I want more than words. I want to do something.

So here is what the tragedy in Charlottesville reminds me.

Because I am a Jesus follower.

We are living in a fallen world.  There is hatred.  There is violence.  There is racism.  There is greed and immorality.  There is evil.  This is not the world God made.  We messed it up when we chose to listen to Satan.  Sin is everywhere.  So I am not surprised at what happened in Virginia or what will happen all over the world today.

Jesus is the answer.  When people follow Jesus transformation happens.  We get better.  We change into people more like Jesus.  So hate turns to love, violence turns to peace, and racism turns to brotherhood.  So where I am, it is different.  Where my family is, it is different.  Where Christians are, it is different.

So if you want to change things, make more disciples.  Tell the story of Jesus.  When you make a follower, this world changes.  There is another oasis of love, peace, and brotherhood.

You and I cannot change this world.  Not really.  Not by being nicer.  Not by expressing outrage.

But Jesus can.  He has changed me.  He has changed you.  He has changed people all over this world.
So be a disciple maker.

That changes this world.

Jesus is coming back.  And he will make it right.  Evil does not triumph.  And hate does not win.

Our world needs to know that good news.  Jesus died for the haters, the abusers, and the racists.

And if they hear of him, and if they believe him, they change.

Jesus followers love God with all we have and we love our neighbors like we do ourselves.

Jesus followers do not use the weapons of the world (violence, fear, evil).  We use the power of the Lord God Almighty.

And Jesus followers destroy racism.  The same blood of Jesus was shed for everyone.  We shared the same baptism.  And we have the same Holy Spirit.  We will live together forever.

Because we believe.

And that will change the world.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Our youngest grandchild, Austin, turned 7

Our youngest grandchild, Austin Ridgell, turned 7 a few days ago.  And here is why I love him and am proud of him.

He is happy.  Very happy.  Loves life.  Laughs.  Enjoys playing.  Excited to meet the day.

He talks.  A lot.  We had someone tell us a while back that he always talks... even when nobody is listening.  Mimi said I just like that because he is just like me.

Loves his family.  His parents, grands, siblings, cousins.  He loves all of us unconditionally.

The boy is fearless.  He will do anything.  Not scared of anything.

He is his own person.  He can play with everyone else.  He can play by himself.  And be happy either way.

He counts the cost.  He weighs out his decisions and sometimes decides the cost (read:  punishment or consequence) is absolutely worth it.

He loves Jesus with great joy and passion.  Loves to pray and sing.

Every family really needs an Austin.  Loves God, dogs, his family, and life.

So God thanks for Austin.  He brings a smile to our face just like he does to yours.  Protect him from danger and evil.  Use his gifts to do great Kingdom things.

Thursday, August 10, 2017


Our first grandchild Anna is 12...

Another milestone for our family.  Our first grandchild, Anna Ridgell, turned 12 last week.  Here are just a few of the reasons I love her and am proud of her.

She loves us... especially her Mimi.  Still not too embarrassed to be seen with her old grandparents.  Still runs to hug us.  Still likes to talk to us.

She is an outstanding student.  Very smart and makes excellent grades.  But even better, she is one of those students teachers like to have in their class.

Good athlete.  At this point in her life, she is focused on basketball and volleyball.  Very good at both.  I like watching her because she is also a really good teammate.

She is pretty and graceful.  Lots of things I value more but it is part of who she is.

She goes out of her way to tell Mimi and me how much she appreciates us when we do things for her.  Does't have to be told to be gracious and polite.

She is committed to being a Jesus follower.  Prays, reads her Bible, and tries to put it into practice as a believer.

You always wonder how it will be to be a grandparent.  Anna has helped it to be more than we ever could have imagined.

Love that girl.  And proud of the young woman she is becoming.

God, thank you for our Anna Claire.  We are proud of her, but more importantly I know you love her and are proud of her too.  Protect her and bless her.  Thanks for sharing her with us.  Do amazing Kingdom things thru her.  

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