Update on Illinois Disaster Relief Efforts

Karissa Howell

Since September 16th, Illinois Baptist Disaster Relief has sent over 90 volunteers to help people in North Carolina. Sent out were eight Chainsaw/Mudout teams, four Shower/Laundry teams, two Feeding teams, one Assessor/Chaplain team, and one Incident Command team to Wallace, Lumberton, and Franklin, North Carolina.

These teams prepare meals for Red Cross workers to pass out to flood victims and maintain shower units so volunteers can have warm showers and clean laundry after long days in the field. In addition, the assessors and chaplains check the houses to make sure the volunteers are able to complete the requests. They also talk with the homeowners to assess any spiritual needs.

The National Disaster Relief director reported 3,000 work orders, with about 2,000 left to complete. They anticipate the work in NC continuing into December.

One of the biggest tasks undertaken is “Recovery” or Chainsaw/Mudout. These workers spend a day or more with the homeowners cutting down and removing trees or clearing out the flooded homes. They often have the most time to make ministry contacts and hand out tracts. At the end of the assignment, each homeowner is presented with a new Bible signed by all the workers.

With Hurricane Michael making landfall in the Florida panhandle, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief workers are on stand-by and ready to respond to the states affected. This is in addition to already being on call for Hurricane Florence. Please pray for the people affected by these storms.

If you are interested in being a part of Illinois Disaster Relief, there is a training on October 19-20 at Lake Sallateeska. Volunteers are needed to respond to local as well as national disasters. See Dennis or Karissa Howell for more information. To donate visit www.OnTheRidge.org/Give; “Give to:” Illinois Baptist Disaster Relief.

We Labor Together with God, Wes

Teach Us to Pray

How often do you pray? Do you pray with your eyes closed? Do you pray before meals? What about when you order a meal from a restaurant, or when dining alone? Do you pray before consuming a snack? Do you pray when you get up in the morning? When you go to bed at night? Do you pray when you hear the siren of an emergency vehicle? Then, there are the questions of how and what do you pray?

My questions about prayer have no end. Which reminds me, Paul instructs that it is God’s will for us to, “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). There is a connection between joy, praying, and being thankful.

Pastor Alan Rhein, First United Methodist, Carbondale recently wrote about prayer. Allow me to share a few of his insights. There is no “magic” or “extra special power” when a pastor prays for a person. God hears and answers prayers with the same urgency when any of us pray. Prayer is not a “trick” we work out with God to get what we want. Instead, prayer should be a conversation with God, which provides inner strength to deal with the trial at hand. Prayer is the foundation of our relationship with God. It is a relationship builder. The most important aspect we often forget about God is that God is listening! Just to know that God hears me and cares about me is often enough to get me through the immediate challenge.

I am inviting you to join me in a 7-week Bible study on “How to Pray” beginning 9 a.m. Sunday, October 14. All nine adult and two youth small groups will study this topic.

Our Small group leaders are passionate about teaching and facilitating the discussion each week. They are prepared and arrive by 8:45 a.m. each Sunday. You may choose almost any adult group to attend. The list of classes is available at the Hospitality Center or just call the office. If you are unsure about which class is for you, attend several.

Prayer tip:  If you are praying and driving, please keep your eyes OPEN!

We Labor Together with God, Wes

Time Marches On

As of today anyway, it appears as if the autumnal equinox and the weather forecast are in-sync. Yes, it is autumn and yes, we have experienced some autumn type temperatures. The low for Friday will dip to about 51. Just about right for me. Whether the weather cooperates or not seasonal changes are in the future.

God has provided markers to help us remember the changes that take place in our lives. Things don’t stay the same. I am reminded of Ecclesiastes 3:1-15 which begins, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven; a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted…”

We often take for granted the wonder and the workings of our world. We don’t even think about how intricate and fragile this world is and yet how enduring and magnificent it is as well.

We focus so much energy on the present that we ignore the world around us, the passage of time, and the changing of the seasons. We appear insulated from the changes that surround us. We watch our favorite programs on our own schedule. We don’t have to fret about above or below average temperatures. Just move the dial a few degrees up or down. So much technology at our fingertips persuades
us that we are in control and are indeed masters of our own fate.

The reality of Ecclesiastes reminds us that this is God’s world, God created it all, God is in control, and we are his creation.

Yes, like the seasons, life is changing for us all, and we are not in control.
Nevertheless, rest easy, we belong to God and everything is under God’s control.

“Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” Psalm 100:3

We Labor Together with God, Wes

Sleepless in Carterville

For some reason, I have been having difficulty sleeping this past week. I would fall asleep fast but wake up in a few hours and then lay wide-awake for several hours. Sometimes I would get up and read or work on a project. In fact, I worked on this Sunday’s sermon and almost finished it one night this week. Remember that Sunday morning when I bring the morning message.

Someone posted on Facebook the reason for all this sleeplessness. Evidently, I wasn’t the only nocturnal individual roaming around aimlessly. The culprit was “solar storms” erupting in the atmosphere causing lack of sleep, nightmares, fatigue, restlessness and a litany of other maelstroms.

I was ready to accept this explanation. In fact, I was even tempted to get my telescope out and see if I could track one down.

However, rather than trust my fate to the sun and the stars, I examined the scriptures for some comfort and insight. What else is there to do at 2 a.m.?

Proverbs 3:24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid, when you lie down your sleep will be sweet.

Psalm 127: 2 … for he gives sleep to his beloved

Psalm 4:8 I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord make me dwell in safety.

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Of course, there is also this, How long will you lie there, you sluggard? Proverbs 6:9

We Labor Together with God, Wes

Where is your place in ministry?

One of the basic understandings of the word church is that the church is not the buildings and the grounds. It is not an object. The church is the people! We, the redeemed, are the church. Another basic understanding of the church is that the church does not exist for us to be served. The church exists for us to serve others.

At times folks wonder whether they fit in when it comes to the church. Some feel left out. Others wonder how they can serve through the church. And, still, others feel that the church exists for their benefit. These are all legitimate questions and issues. Perhaps all of us have pondered them at some point in our life.

This topic got me to thinking, which can be dangerous for all of us at times. However, I pray that this time it will be beneficial and edifying for all of us. For those who feel disconnected, wondering where they fit in, what could they do, and whether there is a place for them at The Ridge Church, let me suggest a few areas of on-going ministry where you can easily find a connection.

  • Sunday School/Small groups ministry
  • Vacation Bible School ministry
  • Children’s ministry Music ministry
  • Parking lot ministry
  • Audio/Visual ministry
  • Welcome ministry
  • Security ministry
  • Bus/Van ministry
  • Youth ministry
  • Missions ministry
  • Gorham ministry
  • Social Media ministry
  • Outreach ministry

You can be a part of these ministries. Call the church office and get connected. There is a place for everyone at The Ridge Church. Step up and get involved!

We Labor Together with God, Wes

Opportunities to Give: Mission Illinois Offering and 5th Sunday Debt retirement

As a follower of Jesus, blessed beyond measure, it is a joyful privilege to give for the cause of the gospel! This month we have two extra opportunities to give financially above and beyond our regular giving.

The 5th Sunday Offering for Debt Retirement is September 29 and September is the month we support Missions in Illinois through the Mission Illinois offering.

The Mission Illinois Offering is an opportunity for us to focus on state missions. I truly believe that the focused mission field for The Ridge Church lies outside the four walls of our building and in our local communities.

While the command Jesus gave to “Tell as you go” (Matthew 28:19-20) begins locally, it does not end at the borders of our communities. There is an overwhelming need for the heralding of the gospel message throughout our state as well.

The need is great all across Illinois, but especially in the cities and Northwest Illinois. Nate Adams, executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association reports, “In many parts of Illinois, Baptists offer by Muslims, Mormons, eastern religions, and people with no faith at all, In fact, at least 8-million of our 13- million neighbors in Illinois do not know Jesus Christ.”

Our giving through the Mission Illinois Offering, provides supplies for VBS training and children’s camps, sends expertise to churches in need of stronger leadership, recruits and equips church planters to start congregations where they are desperately needed. And the list goes on and on.

All gifts given through the Mission Illinois Offering stay here in Illinois: teaching students, equipping leaders, planting churches, and always, advancing the gospel.

Won’t you give through the Mission Illinois Offering? Your partnership in advancing the gospel in Illinois is needed now, more than ever.

We Labor Together with God, Wes

Happy New Year!

When does the New Year begin? Well, it depends. The calendar year runs from January 1 through December 31. The Ridge Church year begins September 1 and concludes August 31. Finally, the Southern Baptist Convention year begins July 1 and ends on June 30. I know it is a lot to keep up with, but someone has to do it.

The Nominating Committee has been busy enlisting folks for the upcoming church year that begins September 1. I hope that when you are asked to serve you will prayerfully consider your response and focus on reasons to serve rather than reasons not to serve. As members of The Ridge Church, we have a responsibility to find areas to serve cheerfully with the gifts that God has equipped us.

Several pressing areas of need include our preschool department. The leadership is in place and assistants are needed. If you have questions or can help one or two Sundays a month please contact the church office.

Now when it comes to the SBC New Year, I want to share some exciting information from the past year.

July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018

Total Baptisms:  13

New Members

Baptism:  11

Statement Of Faith And Baptism:  6

Letter From SBC Church:  1

Total New Members:  18

Total Receipts:  $ 260,167.00

We Labor Together with God, Wes

No Summer Hiatus

I was beginning to wonder, but I do believe that Summer is here. It would have been nice, however, to have had a little bit of Spring in the mix. Nevertheless, Game On!

As Summer approaches and family plans and getaways take shape I remind everyone that the ministries and financial needs of the Ridge Church do not go on hiatus. The financial responsibility of each member of The Ridge Church continues through each season of the year.

In the midst of our Summer re-creation, there is also a need for weekly worship together. Whether you are in town or out of town find a place of worship each Sunday. It will deepen the meaning and purpose of the rest of your activities.

While not always the case, I am sure that most family plans can be put on hold for an hour. In fact, one might consider worship part of the day’s plan for everyone.

Summer #OnTheRidge is actually a very busy time. With the arrival of Memorial Day we are off and running. We begin with Vacation Bible School in June (June 11- 15). Following that, our #SummerSundayNights #OnTheRidge schedule begins. The complete schedule is inside. These activities are intended to bring people together to connect, relax, and enjoy. It’s great family time.

Please remember to pray for Gorham. We are in need of volunteers to provide and serve a light dinner before each night of VBS. Day 1 has been assigned. Let me know how you can help.

We Labor Together With God, Wes