Tuesday, June 26, 2018


My son Joe Don is about to turn 40...

So Joe Don is having a birthday Friday and he will be 40.  As is my custom, here is why I love him and am so proud of him.

JD is a passionate follower of Jesus.  He studies, he prays, he serves, he shares his faith. 

Committed husband.  He loves Jamie and he works hard to see that their family is taken care of not just physically, but spiritually and emotionally. 

Amazing Dad.  His kids absolutely adore him.  They run to hug him when he comes in the door.  They respect him, they listen to him, and they obey him. 

He is a great family man.  Not just his family, but his extended family.  Great son, outstanding (and according to his nieces and nephews very funny) uncle.  Loved and respected by the Ridgell, Herttenberger, and Bankes families.

Good Bible teacher and a good lawyer.  Maybe that is why he is sought out for advice by many people.  And maybe the reason he gives wise counsel.

And he loves hunting, fishing, and sports. 

I am a blessed Dad to be able to look at my son and say that is the kind of man I want to be.

So thanks God for JD.  Bless him as he leads his family and as he leads many in your family.  Give him strength and courage.  Keep doing great things in him and thru him.

Thursday, June 21, 2018


Keeping Communion Meaningful

It is a subject we don't like to talk about in my fellowship, but the truth is... sometimes it is hard to stay focused on the Lord's Supper.  We do it every week and it is really easy to slide into a ritual habit that you can do without even thinking about it. 

Maybe we don't want to talk about it because some of our religious friends say that is exactly the problem with weekly communion.  It gets stale.  So in their view is much more meaningful to do it monthly, quarterly or even annually. 

And we do it the same way almost every Sunday.  Not much of a "supper" anyway.  Little bite of cracker, sip of wine -- sorry, grape juice -- and as the little boy once said "then they want you to pay for it."  Most churches expect it be done within a certain time limit and work to make sure it gets done quickly and efficiently. 

Make it smooth, quiet, quick, and also meaningful and spiritual.  Don't let the person giving communion thoughts take too long or you will cut into the sermon time.  You know the drill.

So here is how I keep communion deeply meaningful to me.  I people watch during it. 

Sometimes I watch my family and realize how blessed I am that we are both flesh family and faith family. 

I look at the older saints I am eating with and I am thankful that for 60, 70, and even 80 years they have been doing this.

I see new Christians doing this and realize how special it is to them.

I notice people taking communion for the first time after their spouse has died.

I watch those whose stories I know.  I know the demons, the addictions they are battling.  And I root for their faith to overcome.

I see those people who are sick and know that the opportunity to partake in this is dwindling down.

I see single Moms doing the best they can.  With faith.

So I give thanks, and I pray, and I am inspired, and I am awe of the people I do life with. 

God is good and together with my people we proclaim the Lord's death and resurrection.

In faith and love.


Until he comes.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018


Father's Day and a holy Communion

So I spent Father's Day with my son Joe Don and his family.  And we went to church together Sunday morning.  My grandson, Andrew, was sitting between us.

Communion was served. Andrew, Joe Don, and I took it together.  All three of us at the same time.

And it was absolutely a holy moment.  One that I will remember with great joy for the rest of my life.

Maybe it was because it was Father's Day and I realized what a great Dad my son is.  But I realized that we three Ridgell men were declaring our conviction together that Jesus died for us and that we believe that.  We have each given our lives to that truth.

Until the Lord comes.  If he has not come by the time I die, Joe Don and Andrew will still be sharing the Lord's Supper and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom.  It is easy for me to picture Joe Don, Andrew, and Andrew's son sharing this some day.  And on and on it will go.


Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.  Psalm 71:18

It was the best Father's Day ever.  The generations behind me believe.

I have done my job.  Joe Don is doing his job.  Just like my Dad did his.

Because of Jesus.

It was holy.

So thank you God for a glimpse of the future.  Let me keep passing faith on to the generations behind me.  Bless Joe Don as he does the same.  And Andrew after him.  Forever.   

Thursday, June 07, 2018


I met two great evangelists dressed as repairmen...

I love evangelists.  If you know me, you know that.  It's one reason I love my job at Hope for Life.  I am basically a full-time evangelist.  I get paid to go around and talk about Jesus.

I love preachers who are evangelists.  Not all preachers are, so when I meet those who are I really, really appreciate them.

But I not going to be able to share the Jesus story with most people.  Neither are the preachers.  Because we are professionals.  We are supposed to do it.  And by nature of our profession, we don't meet as many ordinary people in the community as we could.  Maybe even should.

But I tell you who is going to make a difference in bringing people to Jesus.  It is the ordinary person going about their everyday business... and who talk about Jesus.

I recently met a couple of them.  They were repairmen.  One worked on appliances.  He was visiting with my wife while he worked on a stove and he talked about how Jesus had helped him overcome his addictions and how committed he was to being the kind of husband and father that God wanted.  Obviously he did not have to convert Marsha, but he did get some affirmation and praise God from her.  But if she had not been a Christian, she might have been intrigued and interested by what God was doing in his life. 

The other one was a plumber.  He was doing some work at my daughter's house and I was out there working on some other stuff.  He called me over to explain that one of the things we wanted repaired could be done by me.  I told him that I appreciated the tip but wasn't that going to cost him money.  He explained that a few weeks ago he had become serious about following Jesus and he was trying to love his neighbor as himself.  He got affirmation also.  But if I was not a Christian, I might have asked him a lot of questions about following Jesus.

I know some other evangelists who support themselves.  I know another plumber, a garden center manager, a car dealership owner, and a Doctor who are really evangelistic.  I know a couple of nurses and a lawyer who talk about Jesus.  And I do know some preachers who do.

So thanks to the two evangelists I met dressed as a repairman.  God bless you and keep telling the story. 

Let's all go and do the same.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018


The Hills church is growing... really growing

I get to spend most of my Sundays in different churches talking about evangelism.  Either equipping Christians on how to share their faith or motivating them to share their faith.  I am there to help them grow the Kingdom.  Really grow.  Not just how to keep our young people.  Not how to be the most attractive option when someone new moves to town.  Not how to get those who feel the need to look for a different church home.

Those kinds of things are Kingdom maintenance or troop transfer, not Kingdom growth.

Kingdom growth happens when non-believers become followers of Jesus.  That is real Kingdom growth.  And that is what I spend my time helping churches do.

But I recently had a Sunday off and we were in Fort Worth visiting my son and his family and so I got to visit the Hills (Richland Hills campus).

And they are growing and here is what I saw that convinced me of this.

Their campus minister, David, talked about how to connect to someone to learn more about taking the next steps in following Jesus.  He did it in the intro and in his wrap-up.  It wasn't rote.  It was not boring.  It was heartfelt and inviting.  They are seeking people who want to connect to Jesus.  Not just that Sunday.  I hear that every time I visit there.

Their preacher, Rick, made it a point at the end of his lesson to encourage seekers to take the next step.  He prayed for people to be saved that very day.  He invites people to follow Jesus.  Every single time I hear him preach.

And one was.  I saw an adult man baptized into Christ.  So David made his closing appeal from the baptistery.  Pretty effective.

So they are going to grow.  Real growth.  The elders want it.  Rick preaches it.  The rest of the staff encourages it.

And that kind of passion might just keep the young people.  And it might attract people moving in. Or those who are looking for a church home.

But most of all, they are bringing people to Jesus.  So I love that church.  And yes, I know they were speaking my language, but I think they get it.

So maybe you ought to see if your church will encourage and invite people to learn and take the next steps in following Jesus.  Pray publicly for people to be saved.  Win your one.

Well done Rick, David, and the Hills.

Stay after it.

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