Seasons of the Year

A friend of mine loves baseball. He knows just about any baseball fact that is worth knowing. When we visit, he shares some of the old baseball matchups. He has a treasure of St. Louis Cardinal stories stashed away in his mind that he pulls out one after the other and tells each one with little hesitation.

He has informed me many times that he wished baseball season never ended and as soon as the World Series is complete, he looks forward to the pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training in February. One might conclude that my friend’s year begins in February, ends in October, and just floats along the remaining three months.

In the church, we might conclude that the church year begins in the spring as we prepare to welcome Easter through the Lenten season, and ends in the winter as we anticipate Christmas during the season of Advent. I suppose it is fitting to consider the leftover months of January and February as a quiet time to refresh and renew. However, I am reminded that betwixt Easter and Christmas we have Vacation Bible School. Further, VBS is a major pillar of the church year.

Now that Easter has come and gone our attention turns to “Galactic Starveyors – Discovering the God of the Universe.” I invite you adults to join us on Wednesday evenings at 6:30 pm as we rediscover that the God who created everything is interested in a relationship with us.

We Labor Together With God, Wes

Are You Undecided About Easter Attendance?

Survey: One in Five Americans Undecided About Easter Church Attendance

Easter Sunday Church attendance is not a cut and dry decision for everyone – even for self-identified Christians. There are as many Americans saying they are not attending, as are attending, Easter worship services. However, 20 percent say they are undecided.

This undecided group includes those who rarely attend and those who attend only on religious holidays.

In addition, eighteen percent who attend only on religious holidays do not plan to attend on Easter, as do 92 percent who never go to church. About half of Americans who say they rarely attend church do not plan on attending at Easter.

Also, Americans age 55-64 are the least likely to attend Easter services (29 percent), but those 65 and older (50 percent) are more likely to attend than those in the youngest demographic: 18-29 (41 percent).

Folks of The Ridge Church, we must be mindful of our many friends and family who haven’t ruled out the idea of attending Easter Sunday. It may be that a personal invitation from you is what would make a difference to them.

Easter is the greatest celebration of the Christian faith. As one in five Americans keeps their options open, we have no reason to be shy about asking friends to join us for Easter worship.

We Labor Together with God, Wes

Share the Victory!

We have just concluded a very busy week on The Ridge. Most of it was packed into the weekend. On Saturday, visitation and funeral services for Dave Baggett were here, followed by a meal for the family. Your expressions of sympathy were a great comfort for Dave’s family as well as the outpouring of your help in providing and preparing the memorial meal.

Sunday began with the Ordinance of Baptism during Morning Worship as we welcomed Jakob Wilson and Jillian Wilson into the Ridge family. We can expect more baptisms following Easter Sunday. If you have questions about salvation, baptism, and membership, I am glad to discuss them with you. Please contact me.

Sunday afternoon was time for our annual Community Easter Egg hunt. We had a great turnout. The numbers are located inside “The Witness”. There were many people involved in procuring, filling and hiding over 5,000 eggs.

And then, our Sunday was complete with our Birthday Potluck as we recognized those celebrating birthdays during the month of April.

These events were opportunities for all the folks of The Ridge church to share the victory, give testimony, and demonstrate our faith in Jesus Christ.

The good news of Jesus is too good to keep for ourselves. We must continue to find ways to share it with others.

We Labor Together with God, Wes

Why Baptism by Immersion?

Sunday we will observe the Ordinance of Baptism. Someone may ask why the Ridge Church baptizes by immersion and why we do not baptize infants? I refer to FAQ’s on the SBC website for explanation (www.sbc.net/faqs.asp).

Southern Baptists have historically held to the mode of baptism that we believe to be the most consistent with the Bible – believer’s baptism by immersion.

When Jesus gave His command in Matthew 28:18-20 to make disciples, the directive was to baptize those new believers/disciples, and the word for baptism was literally “to immerse.” It was a practice reserved for those who had decided to follow Him. Baptism is not salvation. It is an act of obedience following salvation.

Baptizing a believer by immersion conveys the picture of a person dying with Christ, being buried with Him, and being raised with Him in a new life (Romans 6:3,4). This act is a voluntary declaration to all witnesses that the person has openly and unreservedly placed his/her faith in the Lord and will follow Him.

When a person is baptized as a baby, he/she has no knowledge of the Lord, repentance, salvation, discipleship, or any of the essentials related to following Him. This baptism may be meaningful to the family and may convey their deepest desire to dedicate that baby fully to the Lord, but because a baby cannot make such choices, baptism could not convey these essential truths directly associated with a believer’s baptism. If you have questions or thoughts please contact me.

We Labor Together with God, Wes

Balancing Broomsticks

Monday morning at 5:29 a.m. CDT, spring arrived. I noticed several pictures on Facebook of brooms perfectly balanced in a vertical position all on their own. Whether this was fake news or not I cannot attest.

With spring, increasing daylight, daylight saving time, and warmer temperatures comes increased activities inside and outside. Let me update you on some very important dates and happenings on The Ridge over the next few weeks.

1) The Ministry Continues – This Saturday beginning at 9 am. Stewardship is an important part of the Christian life. It is our responsibility to care for the resources that God has entrusted to us. Make plans to be here to help with some spring cleanup around the building and property. Chris Robison will direct us.

2) Outreach Event – Trivia Night Saturday beginning at 5:30 pm. Whether you are good at Trivia or not is secondary to the opportunity God has provided to reach out to our neighbors and friends for a night of fun and introduction to the people of The Ridge Church.

3) Mission Action – Three opportunities for your participation present themselves. We are collecting diapers and other baby items for Pregnancy Matters. ALSO, we are collecting candy and money to fill Easter eggs for the grand Easter egg hunt on April 2nd. Then, remember to give your part in sharing the gospel here in North America through the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.

Once again, it is a privilege and a joy to join with God in His ministry!

We Labor Together with God, Wes

A New Way To Connect With The Ridge

In almost every Worship, Bible Study, and Small Group gathering on The Ridge we use handouts, outlines, and/or study guides.

According to American educator Edgar Dale 
WE REMEMBER
10% of what we read
20% of what we hear
30% of what we see
50% of what we see and hear
70% of what we discuss with others
80% of what we personally experience
95% or what we teach others

Therefore, a new link has been added to the left tab of the web page titled,  “Group Handouts.” 

Click on the link, then click on the service (Sunday AM Worship Outline, Sunday PM Discussion Guide, Sunday Small Group GuideWednesday PM Outline),  and find the latest handout.  

The goal is to take what we hear and see, discuss it with one another and make application to our life. 

Exciting Times on The Ridge

What an exciting time to a part of the Ridge Church! God has been so good to bless. Sunday was just a microcosm of God’s great blessing upon us all.

We rejoice in the decision for salvation, baptism and church membership that was made at the end of the worship service Sunday. I pray everyone realizes what a sacred moment the time of commitment is every week. It is so important to be in prayer and not leave the service or cause any distraction as the Holy Spirit is at work in people’s lives. Every week there are many decisions being made. Please don’t hinder the moment.

Then Sunday night a tremendous outpouring of fun, talent, and good food prevailed upon us. The folks of the Ridge Church contributed over $3,000 for our youth to attend camp this summer. That was in addition to a great general fund and debt retirement fund contribution earlier in the day. The Ridge Church folks always rise to the occasion and meet the need at hand.

I offer a “Hats Off” not only to all of the talent show participants but also to those who set up and cleaned up. A double “Hats Off” goes to Jenny and Louie, Ann and Steve, and Courtney and Bradley for their leadership.

With great blessing comes great responsibility. Let us continue to grow stronger and deeper in spiritual maturity, faith, fellowship and sacrificial service.

We Labor Together with God, Wes

Receiving the Gift*

Imagine you have decided to give a “just because” gift to someone you know well. You put a lot of thought into it and take time to create or purchase something you are certain will make this person very happy.

As the time for giving your gift approaches, you begin to imagine your recipient’s reaction. Will they jump up and down? Will they scream, or smile? Wouldn’t it be great if they cherished the gift as much as you cherished them?

Now imagine a year has passed. You’re helping this same friend prepare for an upcoming yard sale when you notice your gift among the items in a box designated for the sale.

What? Do they no longer value our relationship? Maybe NOW they don’t like the gift. Are they just taking me and my gift for granted? Gee, my friend really didn’t appreciate or accept my gift in the first place.

Jesus gave us a “just because” gift expecting us to receive it with great joy and appreciation. However, our actions and attitudes give the impression that we really don’t value the gift or the friendship very highly.

As we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection, may we use this time of preparation to reflect on our actions and attitudes and how we all might appreciate Jesus’ love for us more seriously than we do right now?

We Labor Together with God, Wes

*From “He Chose the Nails” by Max Lucado.

What is Easter 200?

Easter 200 is a reminder that we the folks of The Ridge Church have a great God called and God given responsibility to reach our communities for Jesus. In fact, we exist to lead non-believers into fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. This is our mission.

Easter 200 is a vision of how we can easily fulfil our mission on a particular Sunday morning. On this specific Sunday, similar numbers of Americans plan on attending (41 percent) as are not planning to attend (39 percent) an Easter worship service, 20 percent say they are undecided and thus are naturally open to your invitation. Imagine what might transpire with your personal invitation.

Easter 200 is a challenge. We are challenged to put into practice what we say we believe. We believe that all have sinned and missed God’s standard of perfection. We believe that sin separates us from God. We believe that God sent Jesus to redeem us and restore that relationship through the cross. We believe that unless a person accepts what Jesus did on the cross and asks for forgiveness they are eternally separated from God. We believe that God has called us individually and as a congregation to share the Good News that God desires that no one should perish but all come to repentance through Jesus.

Therefore, this is a reminder that The Ridge Church has a vision to reach our communities and challenged to an attendance of 200 in worship on Easter Sunday morning! Are you ready?The Lord God is with you!

We Labor Together with God, Wes

Where Is My Joy?

We are completing a six-week Bible study from Philippians on joy. I have shared five messages on Joy. Yet some might still ask, “Where is my joy?”

My first response would be to query whether you were in small groups or worship to allow God’s Word to guide you toward joy. The value of being in Bible Study and Worship cannot be over stated. Not only does it make sense it is also a biblical truth. The Hebrews author commands us to  “not avoiding worshiping together as some do,..” (10:25 MSG) BTW, have you ever avoided worship?

MY second response comes from my devotion this morning in “StandFirm” (Feb. 22, ’17). The writer affirms that there is “an incredible joy in the Lord, but it often becomes a reality through self-sacrifice and serving others.” He continues that whatever it is that you are to do, JUST do it! He also makes this great point — do it through the local church.

A few of the truths that I have learned and relearned through this study is that it is not only a privilege but also a joy to be able to join God in God’s work through our financial giving and serving others. In addition, contentment is necessary for joy and further, contentment is unrelated to our circumstances. Contentment and joy comes directly from our relationship with the Lord.

When we question our joy, my counsel is that we should look first at our relationship with the Lord and find ways to serve others. The sooner the better!

We Labor Together with God, Wes