Ramblings #OnTheRidge

9 Good Reasons to Attend Church – Part 2

Regular church attendance is important. Thom Rainer shares nine good reasons to attend church regularly, usually weekly. Last week I shared the first four. This week I share the concluding five reasons.

  1.  The world looks at our priorities and evaluates what we deem as important. We can’t expect the community to get excited about our church if they see it to be a low priority among the members.
  2. Accountability takes place in the local church. When we gather, we hold each other up and accountable. When we belong to a small group in the church, our absence is conspicuous.
  3. Families that attend church faithfully and regularly are happier and healthier families. The research from the secular world is overwhelming. Studies show that families who are in church almost every week are among those with the best-adjusted children. Marriages are healthier. Children grow to become mature and joyous adults.
  4. Discipleship takes place in the local church. There seems to be this big mystery about discipleship. Discipleship is simply becoming more like Jesus. We become more like Jesus as we gather and worship together, belong to a small group, do ministry & evangelism in community, and listen to the Word preached. The New Testament clearly demonstrates the local congregation is God’s “Plan A” for growing as a disciple.
  5. God gives us great joy when we serve others through the local church. We can experience incredible joy as we serve others, as we put others before ourselves, as we don’t focus on our own preferences and desires. We experience incredible joy as we serve other church members and those who reside in our community.

Faithful weekly church attendance is important. It brings us joy. It helps us to grow spiritually. It is one of the primary characteristics of a healthy family. Above all, it is an act of obedience to God. And that’s what really matters.

9 Good Reasons to Attend Church – Part 1

I’m sure you are not surprised by this week’s topic. I’ve written and talked about the importance of regular worship attendance many times. Please indulge me one more opportunity. Recently Thom Rainer shared nine good reasons to attend church regularly.  I am happy to share this article and his insights with you.

I think I’ve heard most of the excuses.“You don’t need to attend church to be a good Christian.”We give our family priority when we miss church to do sports on Sunday.”  “My church really doesn’t meet my needs.” “I’m not getting fed at my church.” “Sunday is really the only day we have off.” “My church has a bunch of hypocrites.”

I will deal with these and other lame excuses later. For now, I want to focus on the positive. Why is it important for us to attend church services regularly, usually weekly? Allow me to share nine reasons.

1. The local church was God’s plan in the New Testament. The New Testament is clear. God wanted His people gathering regularly and faithfully. All of these churches had problem people but it was not a valid excuse to give up the local church.

2. The Bible speaks clearly about the priority of local congregations. A gathered church was not just one important factor for the Christian; it was one of the highest priorities. After the ascension of Jesus, the local church was truly “the body of Christ.” 

3. We are commanded and designed to enjoy worshipping the one true God as a gathered community. What if church members really did just one thing in worship? What if they asked God to let them see God and know God fully as the gathered church?

4. A unified church can stand strong in a culture turning away from God. We can’t be a unified church with sporadic attendance. We can’t stand together if we aren’t persistently gathered together. We experience incredible joy as we serve other church members and those who reside in our community, rather than focusing on our own preferences and desires.

TeamKIDS

TeamKIDS is a weekly after school ministry supported by The Ridge Church in the community of Gorham. Our focus is on children in Kindergarten through 6th grade, living in the Gorham area. We meet on Tuesdays from 4:30-5:30. 

The weekly ministry team leaders are Avis Barrett, Allie and Lisa Hottensen, Dennis Howell, Angie James, Pam White, and myself. Each get-together includes an opening activity, Bible skills activity, mission focus, snack, Bible lesson, Bible verse memorization, and a craft or recreational activity.  The hour passes quickly. This unit will last five weeks through the end of February.

At the conclusion of this five-week unit, we will take a break and resume on Tuesday March 17, with a new afterschool model that will focus on outdoor and indoor physical activities. Implementing this new model will require a few more volunteers who will be available to engage the students in physical activities. 

Our goal is to engage students one on one and share Jesus’ love with them. Each session will still have refreshments and a Bible study/devotion. 

This Is How You Can Help

Needed

Pray for the Gorham community and the afterschool program 
that we may reach them and share Jesus love for them. 

Volunteers to participate and engage with the students during the activities 

Donate/loan lawn games 

Volunteers to construct games 

Ideas for group activities and activity schedule 

Contact Lisa Hottensen to volunteer or for information (text/call 618.967.1858).

Do you remember the old Sunday School Song, “I’m in the Lords Army?

I may never march in the infantry, 

Ride in the cavalry, 

Shoot the artillery,

I may never zoom o’er the enemy,

 But I’m in the Lord’s army!

2020 provides a great opportunity for ministry through The Ridge Church. The sky is the limit. Since there are so many needs around us, I am confident there is one or two needs somewhere that we can meet whether we are 8 or 108.

When Jesus redeemed our life, he provided us with at least one and probably more gifts that we are to use for God’s glory. Our talents, abilities, availability, and attitude are all gifts that God has given every one of us. And, we are to use them in service for God’s Kingdom. They do not belong to us. They are not to be put on the shelf to gather dust like a souvenir from the baseball game. In fact, we will never be content or joyful until we are exercising those gifts. 

However, don’t be surprised, for where there are many opportunities there are always many adversaries to keep us from putting God’s gifts to work in our life.

Our own flesh provides great excuses in keeping us from the success God has in store. Our friends and family will even advise us not to “go off the deep end,” or “don’t get fanatical about it.” They may even try to “reason” that Jesus doesn’t want us to be radical about our faith. Unbelievers will mock us. Nevertheless, grab the vision! Embrace the opportunity! 

Whatever God has called us to do; we can do it through the power of God that resides within us. It might be tough. Nothing worth anything comes easy.

This is a battlefield and we are in the Lord’s Army. Endure the difficulty and the overcome the obstacles as a good soldier and fight on!

No New Year Resolutions Required

Traditionally the new year is a time for resolutions. These resolutions are promises we make to do things differently in the year to come. I heard that the top three resolutions for 2020 are 1) exercise more, 2) eat healthier, and 3) save more money. Noble resolutions indeed. I also heard some sage advice from Papa John’s pizza, “When it comes to resolutions there’s always next year.”  Included with the quote was a very delicious looking and tempting picture of a large pepperoni pizza! Who could resist? 

On a Facebook page, someone posted a devotion titled, “Resolutions” from, Experiencing God Day by Day” by Henry and Richard Blackaby. 

Let me share a few of their thoughts.

When we fail the Lord and fail to keep our promises (resolutions) to the Lord, the Lord does not berate or humiliate us. Instead, the Lord will ask us to examine our love for him. 

Do you remember when Jesus encountered Peter at the seashore after he had denied him three times? Jesus asked Peter if he loved him and Peter responded three times that, he truly indeed loved Jesus. 

Jesus does not need our resolutions, recommitments, or promises to try harder this year. If we failed last year in our resolutions and promises, we will no doubt fail again this year. Instead, Jesus simply asks for our love. 

If we truly indeed love the Lord, our service for the Lord in the new year will be of the quality that the Lord desires. 

Rather than grand resolutions and our annual promise to “try harder” may we instead examine our love for the Lord, obey his command to follow him, and grow in Kingdom service through the Ridge Church this year.   

It is a Privilege

In my last article, I wrote of the many mission opportunities the folks of the Ridge Church support. I continue to be pleasantly amazed at all the Lord is able to do through this congregation. 

This week my article serves as a gentle reminder of the necessity of financially supporting the day-to-day operation of The Ridge Church. Without the consistent financial support of the folks of The Ridge Church, as provided through the giving 

of tithes and offerings, The Ridge Church would cease to exist.  

I realize it’s a challenge to get excited about water, light fixtures, electricity, furniture, buildings, staff salaries, printed materials, video projectors, microphones, computers, telephones, music material, vacuum cleaners, soap, trash cans, stamps, postcards, coffee, windows, Wi-Fi, a web page, and an assortment of other equally boring items. Yet, all of these are necessary for the fulfillment of the mission that God has called us to accomplishment, “To lead non-believers into fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.”

I am hesitant to send out this reminder because I am aware of the many financial household commitments many already have. Nevertheless, I am also aware of the generous spirit of the people of The Ridge Church. In addition, I remember the teaching of Jesus as recorded in the Gospel of Mark, (12:17) “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”   In The Message, the response of the people to these words of Jesus was, their mouths hung open, speechless.”

It’s not a matter of just giving enough to get us by. It’s a matter of being responsible stewards of the bounty that God provides to meet the vision God has for this congregation. The vision exists to reach children and adults in our communities and lead them to follow Jesus. However, the financial resources for enlisting, training, and developing the necessary components are simply not available at this time. Meanwhile we do the best with the resources we have. Again, I am pleasantly amazed that God is still able to accomplish much. Still, so much more of God’s plan could be achieved if our financial giving increased.Actually, financially supporting The Ridge Church is not just a necessity, nor even a responsibility. It is a privilege.  I am grateful for the privilege of being an enthusiastic financial supporter of The Ridge. I know you are as well. May our enthusiasm abound!

Missions Opportunities

This morning I reviewed some of the events of last month and was pleasantly amazed at all the missions’ activities of The Ridge Church. These are activities supported in addition to the giving of your weekly tithes and offerings.  

Here are a few examples: 

  • Thanksgiving Baskets – $715 was donated for Thanksgiving baskets and 20 families were provided a complete Thanksgiving dinner. I received several 
    “thank you’s” from the recipients. One individual picked up her basket with tears.
  • Murphysboro Food Pantry – Funds were available to donate $125 to the Murphysboro Food Pantry. The food pantry serves residents of Jackson County.
  • Spirit of Christmas – 30 individuals were touched by your generosity. These individuals would have most likely received nothing or very little for Christmas.
  • Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes. Not only were we able to fill 64 shoeboxes with fun and practical items for children a whole world away, we were also able to raise the shipping cost for each shoebox ($9/each).  

In addition, the month of December provides more missions’ opportunities.

  • Lights Fantastic Parade – Ride The Ridge Church float this Saturday December 7, and let people know that “Jesus is Born.” Hot Chocolate and cookies provided! See Lisa Hottensen for details. 
  • Lottie Moon Christmas Offering – 100% of this offering is used to provide support for international missionaries and their families.  
  • Hand out Postcards – Be a missionary. Invite those around you to attend the Cantata on December 22 and the Christmas Eve service
  • Pregnancy Matters – We will collect diapers for Pregnancy Matters during our Christmas Eve service.

Thank you for your support of missions at home, far away, and places in between.

I Need Your Help

Perhaps when you read this, you will have just finished your Thanksgiving feast or maybe this finds you in the midst of your Thanksgiving festivities. In fact, you may even be in the middle of enjoying the tasty leftovers, the best part of Thanksgiving eating, IMHO. Regardless, I hope this note finds you grateful and thankful. 

Whether this has been the best year of your life, the most challenging, or something somewhere in between, we all have so much to be thankful for and appreciate from the hand of God. 

It is to God that the offering of our thanks belong. No doubt, when the ten lepers (Luke 17) realized Jesus had “cleansed” them, they all were thankful, but only one returned to thank Jesus.  Jesus expected all ten to return thanks. I want to be more like the one and less like the nine. I know you do as well. 

I need your help! Can you help me? Will you help me?

The Ridge has two major outreach events coming up in December. December 22, The Ridge Choir will present the Cantata, “His Name is Jesus” during the worship service.  Also, our children will present their Christmas program as well. 

Then, The Ridge Christmas Eve Candlelight service, at 5:30 p.m. This service will last about thirty minutes and is a “come as you are” gathering. It is a great way to begin your Christmas Eve family traditions.  

Here is how you can help. 1) Plan to attend both events. If you have family and friends coming in, bring them with you. Neither event will disrupt your schedule; it will only enhance your time together.  2) I need you personally to invite others to attend. To assist you, there are postcards available at the Information Center promoting the events. Pick up several and hand them out with your personal invitation. In addition, you have probably received one in the mail at your home. Please pass it along with your own smiling invitation.

God has included us in His plan to reconcile the world to Him. Lets’ embrace God’s plan.  Thank you for your help! 

What’s your Favorite Bible Story and Why?

What a great Thanksgiving meal we enjoyed together Sunday evening! Everything was superb. I want to thank you for your presence and the warm fellowship that we experienced. What a great congregation the Lord has brought together through The Ridge Church! 

Please join me in thanking Jamie Robison, Nikki Perschbacher, and Lois Anderson for taking the lead ensuring that everything was just right. I know they had lots of help and I thank you all for making our Thanksgiving meal possible.  And, ooh wasn’t that some of the best turkeymashed potatoes, and dressing that you’ve ever tasted?   

Sunday, the Children’s two class led by Jenny Hertter asked the Sunday School/Small group leaders to write down their favorite Bible story and explain why. Everyone participated and the results were amazing. The purpose of the assignment was to reinforce in the children the truth that the entire Bible has meaning from the first page to the last. Also, each part of the scripture has application from the Old Testament through the New Testament. Here are a few random examples.

  • Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego because they did the right thing even though they were unsure of the outcome.
  • Feeding the Five Thousand because it shows how Jesus meets the needs of people. It must have been amazing for the crowd to realize how Jesus can bless a small lunch, eat all you want, and have leftovers!
  • Joseph’s rise from abandoned by his brothers to Pharaohs top person because it is a great example of having faith in God in the toughest of circumstances.
  • Moses parts the Red Sea because it demonstrates God’s power and God’s willingness to use it for his people. He loves us so much.
  • Parable of the Good Samaritan because it shows it only takes the kindness of one person to do something good for someone else.
  • The veil of the Temple torn from top to bottom because it shows that we now have direct access to God without going through a priest.
  • Peter cutting off the ear of the soldier and Jesus heals him because it shows that we can’t go around hurting people just because we disagree.

What’s your favorite Bible story and why? Let me know.