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

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

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

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