Tuesday, March 27, 2018


Sin, Sex, Love, and God

There has been quite a bit of discussion in my city of Abilene recently concerning Abilene Christian University and same sex relationships.  The conversation centers around questions like ... what is sin, how do you treat others, and how should a Christian University handle this situation?  Which sparked talk about what churches should do or what individual Christians should do. 

People ask me what I think.  So here it is.

Sex with those of the same gender is sin.  That is not always a popular position to affirm in our society.  Yet I am convinced the Bible teaches this.  And it does so emphatically.  Some will argue that Scripture should be interpreted based on our feelings, experience, and culture.  That the various verses addressing this issue were written for a culture then and there, not here and now.  But when something is identified as against nature, then it seems to be much bigger than a cultural argument.  So any discussion by Christians needs to be framed by what God's will is. 

But of course, homosexual activity is not the only sin mentioned in Scripture.  Or even the only sexual sin mentioned.  So let's not act as if this sin is greater than all others.  But it is sin. 

Christians are held to a higher standard concerning sin than are non--believers.  So I treat them differently.  Christians have committed to follow Jesus.  We are not perfect.  But we confess our sin and strive to live forgiven.  So we must speak truth into the lives of our Christian community and call fellow believers to live as Jesus would. 

And we must treat non-believers with love and respect.  But non-believers will not control my convictions about how God expects us to live.  Sinners are welcome in my home.  I associate with sinners.  I serve them and am friends with non-Christians.  But they are not my family. 

And their sin is not welcome in my church or in my home.  Non-believers living in sexual sin are welcome in our home.  But they are not welcome to bring their sin with them.  There are lines that I will draw.  They can disagree with me.  They can hate me.  They can speak ill of me.  And I will still be respectful and kind.  I will seek to have conversations about Jesus. 

Sounds like I am repeating that trite old phrase:  love the sinner, hate the sin.  And of course in some ways I am.  I also realize some Christians and church leaders will strongly disagree with me.  That is their right.  They do not answer to me for what they teach and endorse.

And I do not answer to them.  I do answer to God.  So I believe Jesus would have me ...

Live forgiven.

Love sinners.

Call my family and my church to speak truth.

Call Christians caught in sin to repentance.

Tell my world about Jesus.

And help those who decide to follow him to live forgiven.

Father thank you for sending Jesus to restore us to You.  Help me to reflect Your will in my life and in my teaching.  I am a sinner that is now your son, a brother to the King.  Let me show others that road.  

Thursday, March 22, 2018


I did it and I am sorry...

I am not even sure if I had started school yet.  I don't really remember stealing them, but I do remember what happened next.  And it was the beginning of learning how to live forgiven.

I am not sure if I thought I needed them, if I believed they would work in my toy gun, or if I just saw them and thought I should get them.  But I do know that we did not pay for them.

A handful of cheap, plastic bullets.  Could not have cost more than a few cents. 

My Mom found them when we got home.  Got home after the first trip to the store.  There was a second trip.  The one where I had to return them to the clerk at the check-out.  And apologize.  And promise to never do it again.  I couldn't just keep them.  I couldn't just go pay for them.  I had to confess and apologize.

And it was a great act of Christian parenting.  Because that was not the last time I ever did something wrong.  So here is what I learned about living forgiven that day.  And what I am still trying to live out in my life.

Some things are wrong.  Those things are not determined by how I feel about it, but how God feels about it.  Scripture is pretty clear about stealing.  And lots of other things also.

Own your sin.  Confess.  Not just that it was wrong, but that I did it.  No one made me.  No excuses.  It was wrong and I did it.

Repent.  I was sorry I had done it, but more than that I learned I had to do something about it.  I returned them.  Said I was sorry.  It was embarrassing and humiliating.  Sorta hurt my feelings.  But I learned that God's feelings were also hurt by what I did.

Forgiveness is real.  My Mom still loved me.  God forgave me.  It was all going to be OK. And God still loved me.

Do better from then on.  Don't do it again.  Be careful about temptation.

Most important of all:  I learned that what matters most is not always what you do... but how you react to what you do.

I still sometimes do things I shouldn't.  Or don't do things I should.  So I admit they are wrong.  I confess I did it.  I repent.  And I live forgiven. 

So thanks Mom for teaching me how to live in the grace of God.  Even when I didn't really understand it.

And thanks God for forgiving me for the sins in my life.  I am not worthy but always grateful.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018


Jamie Ridgell turned 40 ... and here is her tribute

Our daughter-in-law Jamie turned 40 last week and here is why I love her and am so proud of her.

She is not a daughter-in-law.  She is our daughter.  And one big reason is that she treats us like family, not in-laws.  She could not be more loving or any sweeter to us.

But she is like that with everyone.  Jamie loves people.  She really does care about them.  She listens, prays, and serves.

She wants people to know Jesus.  She looks for those she can help lead to Jesus.

Great Mom.  She is patient, kind, strong, fun, and never seems to get flustered by life with three kids.

Great wife.  She works hard on her relationship with Joe Don.  Makes time for the two of them.  Loves him.

But more than anything else, Jamie loves God and Jesus.  Her home is a place of prayer, service, Bible, and love.  She lets faith guide her decisions.

I am blessed by being around Jamie.  Our family is better because she came into it. 

So God thanks for our Jamie.  Thanks for your Jamie.  Bless her as a wife, mother, daughter, friend, and follower.  Do great things in her and through her.  

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