Enjoy and Be Prepared

What a beautiful morning #OnTheRidge! That large glowing object in the sky is the sun! As I walked into the building, the geese were taking off from the lake. The picture was priceless.

Let me encourage you to enjoy The Ridge Campus. The lake is the home of roaming flocks of geese, some ducks and even a swan or two. Come out and enjoy the scenery. Bring your lunch. Picnic tables have been added at the pavilion.

The fishing is always good, so I am told. Not an angler? What could be better than kayaking all afternoon?

The kids will enjoy the playground as you absorb the warm sun and a few pages of your favorite book. The prayer garden is close by. It too has a beautiful view of the lake and is conducive for meditation and prayer.

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Let me change the subject and share with you some recent tools that have been added to assist everyone in preparation for small groups on Sunday. Of course the Sunday School quarterly is the ol’ standby. It is now available digitally if you would like to study the weekly topic from your phone, tablet, or laptop.

In addition, a weekly study guide is available on the YouVersion Bible app, simply click on “events” and look for The Ridge Event. Also, I prepare a weekly discussion guide and it is available usually on Mondays, by email. It is certainly true that when all of us are prepared we have better class discussion. These are all available whether you attend small groups or not. Just let me know.

We Labor Together With God,

Children in Worship

I was asked whether young children would be welcome at the Maundy Thursday service. I quickly responded in the affirmative.  I did say that it was a Lord’s Supper service and that the children might feel left out when it came time to participate in the elements. That did not seem to be an issue.

The more I thought about children being in worship, even in formal services, the more convinced I became that not only was it ok but it should be encouraged.

Yes! Little ones should be encouraged to remain in the worship service. What about distractions when they make noise? Is it not disturbing to the people around them and doesn’t it interrupt the flow of the service and the worship experience?

My response is, when one considers how often cell phones ring, adults get up and move around, and the almost deafening adult chatter as we prepare for worship each week, a few cries, whimpers and liveliness by a child pales in comparison.

One of the many benefits of children in worship is the questions they ask on
the way home. What a natural way to discuss the meaning of the Lord’s supper, salvation, baptism, church membership, and what it means to be a  follower
of Jesus.

There’s nothing magical about remaining focused on worship in the midst of distractions. Worship doesn’t require perfect surroundings. It simply requires God and believers — adoring him, loving him, and absorbed in him. See you in Worship!

We Labor Together With God,

 

 

 

Not Too Busy For Worship

We’ve had quite a busy Spring On The Ridge. Our ministry in Gorham resumed this past Tuesday with 9 children present. The Easter Egg Hunt planned for last Saturday was rescheduled to this Friday due to weather concerns. The Ridge Easter Egg hunt Sunday was a huge event with over 160 present and over 5,000 eggs hunted.

Last week several were able to do some Spring-cleaning and get the campus ready for Easter. We are still waiting for some landscaping items to arrive to finish the entrance area.

The purpose of the Maundy Thursday service is to provide an opportunity for us to prepare through reflection, meditation, and worship for celebration of God’s great sacrifice in our behalf.

Bright and early Sunday morning (7 AM) we will gather at the pavilion to vocalize this celebration. Then we will enjoy a breakfast together, attend small groups, and then join with the Ridge Choir in worship as they present “Blessed Redeemer.”

After that, it is on to dinner and get togethers and another precious time of family, food, and fun.

Yes, we have been busy and yes, this weekend will keep us very busy. Here’s the take home: Be careful not to get so caught up in the plans, activities and family, that you miss worship and the resurrection celebration. You’ll feel it Monday!

We Labor Together With God, Wes

Not A Pretty Picture

This Sunday, referred to as Palm Sunday among many churches across the world is the Sunday before Easter. It was on Sunday that all of Jerusalem turned out to welcome Jesus into the city for the celebration of Passover. They were ready to crown him King and follow Jesus in an insurrection against the powerful Romans. They were motivated, excited, and ready to go all in, feeling insurmountable.

Fast forward, a few days later and the scene is drastically and tragically different. No longer is Jesus the “darling” of the crowds. As Pilate presents Jesus torn and tattered before the crowd, they in unison call for his crucifixion.

What caused such a distinct change in attitude and actions?

Because we are a fallen people, may I say it, a sinful people, we cannot be trusted. When the going gets tough, when life becomes hard, when the journey appears to be overwhelming the enthusiasm, hope, and plans we once had disappear and we degenerate into a wild uncontrollable mob. It is certainly not a pretty picture. The picture is not pretty it is unappealing, ugly, and repellant. The cross is not either, but it was necessary for our salvation.

Join me this week as we focus on the events that led Jesus to die willingly a shameful death on a shameful cross so that our sins could be forgiven and we might have a personal relationship with him.

We Labor Together With God, Wes

A Family’s Future Health and Happiness

As I write this article, Easter is about 2 and half weeks away. We have “Sprung Forward” to “fast” time (Daylight Saving Time), and spring is right around the corner (March 20). With all the rain we’ve had I am just waiting for the sun to burst forth a couple of days and send the grass into a growing spurt of cataclysmic proportions. Yes, the New Year is gaining momentum and everyone’s calendar is getting full.

Being busy, active, involved, and on the go, appear to be the narrative of today’s family and of society in general. No doubt, the affluence of the day combined with the opportunities that abound contribute to the non-stop frenzy many families experience. Time passes quickly and one must make the most of the present time.

“Carpe Diem” (Seize the day) is often referenced as the reason for such frenzied family activity. However, that is NOT what the term infers. In its proper context, (“Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero” – “Seize the day, trusting as little as possible to the future”) means, to do everything you can do today to make tomorrow better. It’s not about indulging in the present and ignoring the future, but realizing that today’s activities affect and influence the results of the future.

So, the “take home” is this: As you quickly fill up the family calendar with good activities to “seize the day”, do not leave the future to chance and by-pass the benefits of weekly Bible study, worship, and service. These activities have the greatest influence on your family’s future health and happiness.

We Labor Together With God, Wes

Preparing for Easter

Easter is less than 4 weeks away! While we live in a culture that is majority unchurched today, there is still an openness to faith and connecting with a church. The key is a personal invitation.

Recent studies have indicated that 48% of the unchurched said they would attend if someone personally invited them. There is no easier, better, or greater time to extend an invitation than Easter Sunday.

Most people have an inclination to attend on Easter. Where they attend is often determined by who they know and who invites them. Would you begin to pray for 3 specific people or families you will invite to attend on Easter, April 1?

To assist you in making that invitation easier, be sure to pick up several “Come Alive” brochures to give, as you invite. They are at the Information Center.

The schedule for Easter Sunday is:
7 AM Sunrise Worship at the Pavilion.
If possible, bring fresh cut flowers. Breakfast following
9 AM Small groups/Sunday School
10:15 AM Morning Worship: Choir will present “Blessed Redeemer”

We Labor Together With God, Wes

The Passion of Decaying Teeth Restored

So, I followed the technician into the room where the dentist and his assistant were involved in a very active conversation. As I entered Doc called me over and without missing a beat, the conversation continued with me included.

I was there to get a temporary cap (or crown) replaced with a permanent one. The Doc instead, called my attention to a series of tooth x-rays (high quality and in color) that he had been working on and pointed out, that due to this NEW polymer a tooth could be almost fully restored to its original quality, while leaving much of the good part of the tooth intact. The pictures he showed me were from the before, after, and during mode. I’m not gonna lie, pictures of decaying teeth are not very appealing. Even the splendor of the restored tooth, while very magnificent still did little to change my impression of the whole conversation.

However, what did strike me was the dentist’s great passion for fixing teeth. His great passion for helping his patients experience the best dental care possible. His passion for restoring what was truly unsalvageable to such a pristine condition.

This Sunday morning Josh Hunt will share with us his passion for doubling groups and reaching people with the gospel through small groups. I pray that we will grasp his passion for seeing the gospel restore life to people whose lives seem to be unsalvageable. May we have a greater passion for the gospel and its ability to provide us with the best life possible. I can’t wait!

We Labor Together With God, Wes

What Is The Cost?

I got a text this morning. A very important piece of paper was lost and maybe it flew out the vehicle door when it opened and the person got out or in as they attended Wednesday Night Bible Study. The text asked me to keep my eyes open in case I might spot it.

After I got to The Ridge and parked, I started to look around and headed down toward the road. Well, first I attempted to discern which direction the wind was blowing. As I walked toward the road, I did see a rather large piece of paper in a ditch by the road. Upon arrival, I determined this was the aforementioned “important paper.” However, it was mired down in the mud, which fortunately kept it from “easing on down the road.” After a few moments of contemplation, there was no doubt; I would have to take at least one-step into the sludge to retrieve it. I firmly planted my foot into the muck and almost came out of my shoe, picked it up and successfully pulled my foot and shoe back to solid ground. Yes, foot, shoe, and a rather deep coating of the mire!

A very successful task completed but not without cost. The cost of time looking, the cost of time cleaning, the cost of uncertainty whether the paper would be located. I was happy to help. I was able to clean my shoe and the paper I found was indeed the one that was lost. It was worth the cost

Here’s the challenge: What’s the cost of reaching people with the gospel and are we willing to pay it?

We Labor Together With God, Wes

Small Groups – Good for Thee; Not for Me!

Scripture reminds us that we need to be in relationships for our personal and spiritual growth. In the midst of this fragmented and persecuted world, we desperately need to be connected!

Are you thinking this is great for thee, but not for me? Perhaps you are struggling with a very busy full plate in life. A plate overfilled with mounds of things that you need to do and are responsible for in your life. Perhaps, they are overflowing your dish. We all struggle with the demands of our career and all of the frustrations and stress placed on us, such as goals, deadlines, and workflow.

Then there are our family obligations, taking the kids to school, picking them up here and there, dealing with all of their demands and obligations too. Then maybe you are already volunteering for something in the church or community. Maybe you are juggling work and school and family, to the point there is not a free minute in your week.

Then you are asked, “Hey, why don’t you join our small group?” What??? I do not have the time! I cannot possibly commit to anything else. I am overloaded and overwhelmed! Well, to be honest, then you are the person who needs to be in a small group the most!

We ALL need a place to grow, and we as humans in a relationship with Jesus grow best in community with people who love and care for us!

We Labor Together With God, Wes

6 Reasons Sunday School Small Groups Rock!

1. Sunday School Small Groups (SSSG) improve your Bible knowledge. When you know and understand God’s Word, you are more likely to obey it.

2. SSSG, assist your spiritual growth. Think of Sunday School teachers and class members who have modeled the Christian life. Most importantly, spiritual growth often occurs best in the context of small group Bible study.

3. SSSG provide a “place to belong.” In a Sunday School class you are known, personally recognized and transparency is more likely to occur. You can share needs and concerns. As you participate, you become part of the group.

4. SSSG help you build meaningful relationships. You meet people, learn their names, hear their stories, and meet their families. You share fellowship times with class members. You minister alongside others.

5. SSSG provide opportunities to serve and minister. Contacts with sometimes “unchurched prospects” gives you the privilege of sharing your faith. You show the love of Jesus by ministering to class members who have needs.

6. SSSG have a place for the whole family. In one trip to church, your entire family can participate in the important purposes of Bible study, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, worship, and evangelism.

We will recognize Sunday School Small Group Workers Sunday, February 25, @ 10:15 am.

We Labor Together With God, Wes