Step Up Sunday, Sunday Nights, & the Annex

Step Up Sunday was a great day in the life of The Ridge Church. What a privilege to worship our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ outside in God’s Creation. Much planning and preparation makes this annual celebration a success. I specifically want to thank the food preparers for this year’s meal. While the fried chicken was purchased at Kroger (the best chicken we’ve had), the potato salad and baked beans were “homemade” and OHHHH so good!

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With the new church year, there are a few changes. One change is the dismissal of evening services. The deacons and church council will revisit this decision before the beginning of the next church year. It is our hope that rather than filling this time with other activities, that it will be used for refreshing and renewal and preparation for the week ahead. All of us are already busy enough.

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The annex building has been sided and painted. A ramp is being installed and the flooring has been ordered. A few Sunday School classes are already meeting in the building. Within a few weeks, we hope to have several more classes moved to the annex from the multi-purpose building

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If you are interested in any of the pictures on the bulletin board, please take them. First come first served.

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As we move into the fall, I encourage you to get involved in a Sunday morning small group. These small groups provide a great opportunity to get to know people and grow in your faith. A whole lot of learning and sharing is happening!

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Finally, I encourage you to invite new persons to small groups and worship. So many do not attend church anywhere. We have so much to offer that will assist folks in their daily life. Why would we hesitate?

We Labor Together with God, Wes

Use your gifts to engage God’s plan for your life

It seems like it was only yesterday when you could hear the last school bell ring letting you know that summer had officially begun. You trade in your backpacks full of books for suitcases full of swimsuits and sunglasses. The sun’s been out and the weather has been hot.

Vacation Bible School and summer vacations have come and gone. We have reached the time of year where it starts getting darker earlier, soon the leaves will start changing colors and the heat will turn into cool, crisp air. And all this can only mean one thing: school is back in session.

Most everyone is already back in classes; the routine of fall is already feeling somewhat familiar.

September 1st begins the new Church year. Some folks will be taking on new responsibilities this year. Others will continue serving in their current capacities.

We are all remarkably and wonderfully made, unique, and here for a purpose, for such a time as this! As I shared Sunday morning, God has gifted each of us with talents, abilities, and passions to utilize in God’s service through The Ridge Church.

What is the thing that God has asked you to do, the ministry that God is asking you to engage in, what is it that pumps your blood?

In what area of service has God gifted you? Maybe you don’t have the gift but God has given you a passion and you are willing to learn how to do it, or give financially so that the goal can be achieved.

I confidently believe that God has gifted The Ridge Church with what is needed to fulfill God’s mission and yet we have very present needs in Preschool 1 & 2.

How are you using your gifts to engage God’s plan in service through The Ridge Church? Is there a place God is leading you to serve?

We Labor Together with God, Wes

Under Construction

It always seems to happen this way. As soon as the students begin to arrive at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale and the kiddies get ready to begin the new school year, road construction ratchets up a notch.

This year is no different. All along the Carbondale strip, a major north/south route, construction has gone on all summer. It has now encroached on the other major artery through the city. Heading east on route 13 the barriers are up, the equipment has moved in, and lane closures lead out of Carbondale.

This is the Carbondale way.

If you happen to pass by the Trico School in Campbell Hill, you will notice big earth moving equipment, construction signs and barricades. One would think that any major building project would be complete before students return to the classroom. You would be right. The school is ready for the new school year. The construction equipment that litters the entrance serves as a reminder of a crucial life message.

According to Trico Community Unit School District #176 Superintendent Larry Lovell, “Don’t worry, the buildings are ready for school. We are just preparing for our awesome kids to return for their first day of “work.” Our Instructional Theme this year is “The Road to Success is Always Under Construction.”

What is true in educational life is truer in spiritual life. The road to a successful spiritual life is always under construction.

That is why belonging to a small group (Sunday School), worshiping together, daily Bible study, and consistent praying are so important if we are to grow spiritually.

As we begin this new season of the year, please take the time to evaluate your spiritual growth and make the necessary adjustments to maneuver your way through the detours, lane closures, and construction zones we call life!

We Labor Together with God, Wes

What are your plans for serving God through The Ridge Church this year?

In our Sunday small groups, we are studying the life of Nehemiah; “Nehemiah: Building a Life of Service.” The point of last week’s lesson was, Serving God requires intentionality. In other words, serving God is not done with leftovers. To serve God we must intentionally plan to serve God.

When given the opportunity to rebuild Jerusalem’s wall, Nehemiah knew this would take planning. He had to gather resources, secure, motivate workers, and provide protection. It was a difficult situation.

Planning is quite biblical. When Nehemiah prepared to present his request to the king, he had a plan ready in case the king granted it. When he arrived in Jerusalem, he made more plans to rebuild the city walls.

Serving God requires intentional planning. We see that point illustrated in the life of Nehemiah. We understand the point as something we should apply.

That is the lesson and here is an application: What are your plans (intentions) for serving God through The Ridge Church this year? The church year begins September 1st. What are your plans (intentions) for supporting the ministries and programs and activities of The Ridge Church?

Where would you like to serve? What would you like to do?

  • Can we count on you to participate?
  • Can we count on your financial support?
  • Can we count on your enthusiasm?
  • Can we count on your prayer support? In praying, Nehemiah became the answer to his own prayer.

What are your plans and intentions for serving God through The Ridge Church?

We Labor Together with God, Wes

Have you been a guest at church lately?

Last week Debbie and I were on vacation. We made minimal plans and simply enjoyed the lack of structure for a few days. It all worked out well.

We headed to Nashville and then on to Mobile, AL. We stayed at a quaint little place in the old part of Mobile and had dinner with Charnel Et-tawill and Jacob. They were excellent hosts. We ate at The Original Oyster House overlooking Mobile Bay and watched the alligators head to their homes for the evening. What a marvelous sunset. I will post a picture on our Facebook page.

From there we motored on to Marietta, GA and visited with Debbie’s sister, Rhonda and her family. On Sunday, we attended church at FBC Mableton.

Since I am not accustomed to visiting churches for the first time, I relished the opportunity to take on the role of GUEST.

Entering the parking lot was quite intimidating since it was rather large and there were several points of entry. I was not sure where I was supposed to park until I spied the “guest parking” sign. Next, I was searching for the entrance. Not just
any entrance but the correct entrance. I remembered a sign as I was parking pointing to the worship area. As we entered the building my nephew, Andrew, escorted us. Otherwise, we would have had to make the very long trek to the
sanctuary on our own.

Finally, we were where we were supposed to be and were greeted by several members and a few of the staff. Overall, finding our way was a good experience.

I must say though, if there were greeters, in the parking lot it would have alleviated a lot of stress and given us more confidence in where we were going and what we were supposed to do.

Thank you parking lot greeters of The Ridge Church for your dedicated ministry!

We Labor Together with God, Wes

VBS Gorham

As I write this article, we are in the middle of VBS at Gorham. What has been a great week is getting greater each night!

While many have been involved in the planning, prayers, and providing financially for this mission project I specifically want to give a hats off to the following:

  • Bible Study:  Courtney Griffith
  • Parenting Workshop:  Pam White
  • Music:  Debbie Henson
  • Recreation:  Allie Hottensen, Jakob Wilson
  • Crafts:  Lisa Hottensen
  • Records and Assistants:  Angie James, Dennis Howell, Mat Phillips
  • Snacks:  Lynette Yates, Linda Garlinghouse, Karen Dover
  • Meals prepared and served:  Jenny & Louie Hertter, Lisa Hottensen, Courtney & Bradley Griffith, Adult 4b, Adult 3
  • Encouragement by attendance and participation:  Kay James, Betty Jo Raney, Myrtle Huppert, Nancy Wells, Susan Russell, Butch & Rosie Herter, Louie Hertter V, Lilly Barr

Our involvement in Gorham is making a difference in the lives of the people there as we share the gospel of God’s love. Just as important, our involvement in Gorham is making a difference in the lives of those of us here, who have
given time this week to be in Gorham.

On another topic: I’m sure you have noticed the Newsletter/Bulletin combination. We will experiment with several different layouts over the summer. The goal is to
keep everyone informed with the many activities, ministries, and happenings On The Ridge through the most effective and efficient means possible. We also want the format to be appealing so it will be read.

One more thing: Have you been anywhere this summer? Take a picture and put it on the bulletin board.

We Labor Together With God, Wes

I Just Don’t Know What to Expect

It’s very difficult for me to make that confession but it is true. Monday evening we begin Mission VBS in Gorham and I have no idea what to expect.

These are a few of the many questions running through my mind right now.

  • Who will show up? How many will show up? Will anyone show up?
  • Will it be too hot?
  • Will we have enough food?
  • Will anyone participate in the Parenting Workshop?
  • Will the folks from The Ridge Church be disappointed?
  • Will they complain?
  • Will I be disappointed? Will I complain?
  • What have I forgotten?

Actually, I do know what to expect!

I expect that however many or few we have in attendance that each one who attends will know that Jesus loves them and we love them as well.

I expect that the gospel will be the central focus of the week. No doubt, the games, crafts, and recreation are a lot of fun and they will reinforce the daily Bible study. However, the main emphasis will be telling the children and their parents about Jesus.

Everything else is secondary to the great purpose of sharing with each child, Jesus loves you and he came to save you.

I expect that those who are unable to participate in person will be praying each night for the children, parents, and volunteers.

Further, I expect God to do a mighty work in the midst of us all for his glory!

What a great week we have ahead of us. I wouldn’t miss being a part of it.

We Labor Together With God, Wes

All Aboard!

Wednesday night we pondered the significance of Genesis 2:5 “no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground.”

The verse reinforces the truth I shared Sunday that “God works through you.” The application of that truth was experienced Sunday afternoon #OnTheRidge with the “Blast of Splash.” There was a great turnout of Ridge folks to meet the many guests that came to enjoy the many streams of refreshing water.

God desires to work through you even though it is not convenient. Where in scripture do we hear God say, “Lucky you, this won’t be difficult, I’m calling you to the easy task, the one without personal sacrifice.” Nowhere!

Spending a week of evening hours in Gorham is going to be inconvenient. It is too far to go, it is too late in the evening, there is too much to do at home, there are other activities already scheduled for the week. The list of true inconveniences goes on, and God responds, “Yeah I know.

I am truly grateful for those who, in spite of the inconveniences, are making the sacrifices with a happy heart and a positive attitude, to “labor together with God” in reaching the families of Gorham with the “Good News.”

We Labor Together With God, Wes

Mission Action Opportunity – Get on Board

In Southern Baptist life, much is made of Missions. Missions is an important part of who we are as a people of God. Our mission is to reach people with the gospel of Jesus Christ so they have an opportunity to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Over the years, “The Ridge Church” mission involvement has often been measured according to the amount of money given so other people can do missions. However, missions is not what other people do, it is what we personally do.

The South Carolina WMU (www.tinyurl.com/TRC-MissionAction) website reinforced this idea in my mind this week. Their site included a reminder that, “mission action activities always include a witness. Mission action is hands-on involvement. It is not giving other people materials to do the work for you. … Also, remember mission action is ministering and witnessing to people who are not members of your church or church programs.”

The Ridge Church has always been very involved in Missions. Right now, we are collecting cans of green beans for the Murphysboro Food Pantry.

July 9-13th we will embark on a new Mission Action Project – VBS in Gorham. We will definitely be hands-on giving testimony of the gospel to those who have no connection with our church. You have an opportunity to be “hands-on” involved.

We need your help with meals, participation, financial support, and prayers. Will you “Get on Board”? Register as a volunteer at tinyurl.com/GorhamVBS2018 or call the church office. There is a place for everyone.

We Labor Together With God, Wes

Is VBS Worth It?

When you plan for months and then pour your heart and soul into a week’s worth of VBS, you might sometimes ask yourself, “Is it worth the effort?

After all, VBS is not cheap. It requires a large investment of money. While The Ridge Church has budgeted, $2,000 for this year’s VBS, that just covers the basics. We are so fortunate that our VBS volunteers shoulder most of the cost of each year’s VBS.

VBS also requires a large investment of time. The time invested includes the 15 hours of actual VBS (9-noon,mon-fri). However, there are many hours of lesson preparation and room preparation. Oh yes, and the daily responsibilities at home pile up (literally). Then when all is completed its time to tear down and clean up.

VBS also requires a large investment of understanding. Children come from a variety of backgrounds and ways of learning. We are a rambunctious society and the days of sitting still for a lecture have long since passed. The challenge becomes finding ways to connect with each child so they can hear the gospel and feel God’s great love.

Is it worth it? Those of you, who have invested yourselves over the years in VBS, how do you answer that question? We would all love to hear from you. Will you take the time to write/email me a note?

We Labor Together With God, Wes