11
Jan
13

What do I need to do this year?

So what has this past year been like for you? What have you done? Where have you been? What does the future hold?

No matter where we have been nor where we are going there are three things Jesus says we must do if we are to experience the abundant life offered by Him and if we are to fully trust and follow Him. I would offer that these are three things we MUST do in 2013 if we are to experience God’s presence and purpose this year…and in the future. 

However, here’s the thing about these three simple things: most of us won’t do them. That’s just the reality, becaue while they are simple, they are not easy. Yet it doesn’t change the words of Jesus. So let’s look at these three simple steps to truly being a disciple of Christ…the three things that He is calling us to in this year…and every day, month, year. 

READ Luke 9:23-26 

23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

  1. DENY YOURSELF

…it means to deny anything that is about self. Jesus is meaning to prepare the disciples for martyrdom. To lay aside anything that is related to self gratification, self satisfaction, selfish desires. Does that mean we cannot enjoy things in this life? No. But to feed our flesh with the desires that the world offers will never satisfy and we must at moments throughout the day, week, year, make a choice to deny our self because our sinful self…our natural desires are not inline with the desires of God. It is something we must choose to do.

This year, if you and I and the church, want to experience all the fullness of a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, we must come after Him…and the first thing He says we must do is deny ourselves.  

SO WHAT IS IT THAT GOD MAY BE ASKING YOU TO DENY YOURSELF THIS YEAR? WILL YOU MAKE A COMMITMENT TO DO SO? 

  1. TAKE UP YOUR CROSS…daily

Jesus was speaking to his disciples here and they were all too familiar with what it looked like to take up your cross. They had seen this lived out, seeing men literally carry crosses to their death.

Jesus was saying that it wouldn’t be easy. There are going to be burdens to bear. To these 11 there would even be martyrdom and exile to endure. They knew what this inferred. He was laying it out straight for them.

We are all charged up with following Jesus. We get excited about the idea of Him doing great things in our midst. “Yea God!” We are all about the miracle moments of the multiplying of the loaves and fishes…which we see personal benefit from. But…what about the burdens? What about the persecutions? What about the difficult times? What about the suffering? Are we gonna walk away from those? Are we gonna quit and say, “this is too much.”?

Burdens  and suffering are going to come this year just as they have come this past year. These are things we must bear as Christ’s followers…NOT things we have put on ourselves because of sin, selfishness, disobedience, rebellion. Those are different because they are consequences for sin.

Burdens are going to come each day…daily take up your cross. My burdens are not going to be the same as yours, and yours are not going to be the same as someone elses. Don’t get caught up in who is carrying what. The burdens are simply things that are going to come each day that we have to deal with. These will be things that God will use to shape us and mold us into the likeness of His Son…which is what it means to come after Jesus…to be made over into the His likeness. This won’t happen just once, but over our whole life. That’s why we must take up our cross daily.

This may be a burden that will bring suffering into our lives, but we must be ready to suffer for Christ. We must also know that all of these are for our good and His glory.

 SO WHAT IS CROSS MAY GOD BE ASKING YOU TO BEAR THIS YEAR? WILL YOU MAKE A COMMITMENT TO DO TRUST HIM NO MATTER WHAT BURDENS COME? WILL YOU COMMIT TO ALLOWING HIM TO MOLD  AND SHAPE YOU THIS YEAR INTO THE LIKENESS OF CHRIST THROUGH BURDENS, CHALLENGES? 

  1. FOLLOW HIM

…both of these terms, deny yourself and take up your cross, are in the sense that they take place in a point of time. This phrase follow me is an ongoing term. It isn’t just a one time thing, but continuous. It isn’t just something that happens at a certain point in time, but is actively happening in an ongoing manner. 

We must be willing to follow Jesus no matter what we see on the road ahead. No matter what we think things are going to turn out to be…because they likely won’t turn out how we think.

 ARE YOU WILLING TO FOLLOW JESUS IN 2013 OR WILL YOU SIMPLY PLAY IT SAFE AND TRUST IN YOUR OWN WISDOM, YOUR OWN STRNGTH, DEPEND ON WHAT YOU CAN SEE AND FILLYOUR LIFE WITH YOUR OWN DESIRES?

If you do you’ll be settling for less. You’ll not experience God in a powerful way this day, this year…or any year.

 Here’s The Thing… What do you really want out of this year? More of the same? Or something greater?

 If we are to be what God wants us to be and if we are to experience the abundant life as He promises us and if we are to make a difference in this community, the world and the next generation, there are some things we must do. However, like I said, most of us likely won’t do these, but I pray that we will…that I will. It starts with just today, just this moment.

 “deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow Him” 

 

24
Dec
12

Christmas is a time of Expectancy…

When you think of Christmas is your heart full of Expectancy or Expectations? The answer to that question will determine whether you experience miracles and the glory of God or disappointment and disillusionment.

Expectations are things that I decide that I want…at Christmas, in life, in relationships, at church. Usually I have to work hard to make these things even come close to happening. When they don’t work out like I expected, I am disappointed and can get disillusioned…even to the point of giving up.

Expectancy on the other hand is exciting and unknown. When I approach God with expectancy, then I am trusting HIM, not ME. If I come to Jesus with a heart of expectancy this Christmas, I am simply anticipating Him to do something miraculous in my life. If not here on this earth nor in a way that I expect, I can trust that whatever He is doing is going to be for my best.

The ultimate expectancy is in eternity. If you have truly put your faith in Jesus as your Savior, then you can look with expectancy to Jesus second coming where He will make all things right in this broken world. Your expectations won’t matter because He will do all that He has promised. Everything in God’s Word will be fulfilled.

That is why Christmas matters. Jesus came the first time to make a way for us to know God and to be made right with Him. Our sins are forgiven and our debt for sin has been paid. Jesus paid the price by dying in our place on the cross and conquered sin and death by rising from the grave! That is the Hope of Christmas!

He returned to heaven with this promise:

 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.And you know the way to where I am going.Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.(John 14:1-4,6)

 If you still have expectations that are unfulfilled, why not lay them aside and put your trust in the only WAY…Jesus. Then you can look forward with expectancy in life knowing that He has it all in control.

 Jesus isn’t  “A-way in a manger” He is “THE -Way in the manger”! Merry Christmas!

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

29
Nov
12

Duck Dynasty

If you’ve ever watched Duck Dynasty, you can’t help but enjoy it…and watch it again. Something about it draws you in. I think it’s the family dynamic, but also the genuine faith of this family…and it’s pretty funny too! The show is currently the #1 show on cable. Amazing! God has in His sovereignty put these guys in a place of influence.

Just this week…yesterday (Nov. 28) in fact…Willie Robertson, the CEO of Duck Commander and star of Duck Dynasty, spoke at chapel at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. Willie is a former student at Harding…yes he has a college degree. He spoke of family and faith and challenged the students to live it out. Below is an edited version of the talk. You get to hear a little more of this family’s heart and what drives them. If you want to listen to the whole thing…which I would highly recommend…you can go to THIS LINK. (It’s a free itunes video link)

Pray for this family as they seek to follow the Lord and allow Him to use them to make a difference in Hollywood and across the nation.

14
Nov
12

What to do when you don’t know what to do…

So…it’s been several months since I posted any blogs. the last 6 months have been pretty crazy in a lot of ways and blogging kinda took a back seat. Well, I’m once again trying to return to somewhat regular blogging. So for the few of you that read this…here we go.

Have you ever found yourself in a place in life where you just didn’t know what to do? Whether it is in ministry or family or career or school or relationships or even politics. We all can find ourselves at a place where we are at a loss as to what to do. Many of us are right now at a loss of what to do with our nation, the economy, the political landscape. Others are at a loss of what to do in their personal life, their marriage, their job (or lack of one). So, what do we do?

In recent weeks and months, I found myself in that place. I’ll admit that much of this journey of planting a church these last 7 years I have been at a loss of what to do. Most of the time, actually. However, I think that is a good place to be because it makes me realize my utter dependence on God. I should be leaning on Him, but while I know that, I still “lean on my own understanding” many times. When I get to a place where I can’t come up with what to do on my own…and even after asking God…what do I do then? Finding oneself in this place can lead to dispair, depression, slavery to fear, even falling into sin. We’ll turn to that secret sin or pleasure, we can get bitter, anxious. We might even turn to our favorite ice cream to help! So what do we do?

When I found myself in this place recently, God showed me something from His word that I had never really seen before in an Old Testament story. I was prompted to turn there when I saw a verse posted on facebook by my good friend Aidan McKenzie. The verse was 2 Chronicles 20:12b…

“We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

Wow! That is what I needed to hear. So, I backed up and read the context of the story of King Jehoshaphat…which is what one should always do in studying the Bible. (“Context is king”, as Kay Arthur always says.) STOP NOW and read it for yourself HERE before going on. No really, you need to take the time to read 2 Chronicles 18-20…its a good story and the message is strong.

Did you read it? If not, the rest of this post won’t mean much. READ IT before going on. You did it? Good!

Jehoshaphat was King of Judah at the time that Israel was a divided kingdom. He had made an unwise alliance with King Ahab of Israel and went to war alongside him…this almost cost him his life too. God was not pleased because of the wickedness of King Ahab. Yet God knew Jehoshaphat’s heart was to seek Him. After this, Jehoshaphat brought reforms to Judah and brought the nation back to God. Then, enemies from within turned against Jehoshaphat. In Chapter 20 we see where the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites, who had been allowed to live in peace among the children of Israel when they conqured the Promised Land, came against Jehoshaphat in battle (20:1). When Jehoshaphat was told, he did not know what to do. He was about to be overcome by a great horde. What did he do?

What we read in 2 Chronicles 20:1-30 gives us the answer and also gives us a prescription on what to do when we don’t know what to do. If you haven’t read it, go there now and read it. (You get the idea I want you to read this?) What did Jehoshaphat do when he didn’t know what to do? (all scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version)

  • v. 3 – Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.
    When we don’t know what to do we are afraid…but when we are afraid we should determine to seek the Lord…with intensity. The proclaiming of a fast was to seek God with greater intensity. Fast and pray.
  • v. 5-6 - And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, and said, “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.
    Cry out to God…Pray. Jehoshaphat cried out to God in front of the whole assembly. We should not be afraid to cry out to God with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Have them cry out on your behalf.
  • v. 12 - “O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
    We need to admit our poverty and in humility understand our powerlessness and utter dependence upon God. Then turn to and KEEP our eyes on the LORD alone. He alone is worthy and He alone is able to win the victory. We can’t, but He can! Sounds trite and cliche-ish but it’s true. Jehoshaphat realized this. His own wisdom had gotten him in a mess and nearly killed him. That leads to the next step…
  • v. 15-17 And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. 16 Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.”
    Recognize whose battle it is...and quit trying to fight it ourself! Interestingly, v. 17 is the middle verse of the Old Testament. It’s no coincidence that this verse somewhat sums up what God had to continually remind the children of Israel…”see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf..the Lord will be with you.”
  • v. 18-19 18 Then Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshiping the Lord. 19 And the Levites, of the Kohathites and the Korahites, stood up to praise the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.
    WORSHIP! Sing praise to God…even in the midst of your circumstance! For HE IS WORTHY! Jehoshaphat worshiped in humility. When you don’t know what to do…DON’T PULL AWAY FRRM THE CHURCH! I see this all too often. Don’t stop gathering with the Body of Christ for WORSHIP. Jehoshaphat worshiped before the battle…while surrounded by enemies.
  • v. 20 – And they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. And when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.” (emphasis added)
    Be OBEDIENT. They stepped out IN FAITH. Continue to walk in obedience. Whatever you KNOW God commands…continue to do. Whatever the last thing He told you to do…continue to do, even while you wait on Him. Step out in obedience. Oh…and by the way…STOP the things you know are in DISOBEDIENCE. Notice that they didn’t come up with a plan, Jehoshaphat simply told the people to do what God had instructed. “They went out“. God calls you and I to obedience…because He loves us and we love Him. When your finances are in trouble, don’t stop tithing. That’s “robbing God” (Malachi 3:8). When your marriage is struggling…don’t give up and break the covenant you made before God and pursue another relationship or lifestyle. When you have sinned against your spouse…don’t continue in it. STOP and repent and return to walking with God in obedience.  When you don’t know what to do…step out in faith…each day. DO the things you already KNOW to do…and DON’T do the things you know you are not to do.
  • v. 21 – And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise himin holy attire, as they went before the army, and say, “Give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
    Give THANKS in advance. The people thanked God ahead of the battle. Thank Him before you know the outcome. A heart of gratitude will keep everything in perspective. The Bible reiterates this over and over. (see James 1:2-3)
  • v. 22 - And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed.
    Sing and praise God for the victory. WHEN they began to sing and praise the Lord…HE ACTED! When they stepped out in faith and obedience…THEN God acted.
  • v. 29-30 – And the fear of God came on all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around.
    God’s glory was evident to ALL! His glory will be manifested (made vividly clear) in your life and church to everyone around…even enemies. In the previous verses (23-28) we also see the provision and blessing that God gives Jehoshaphat and the people as a result of HIS victory and their FAITH. More evidence of the glory of God.

So what do we do when we don’t know what to do? I don’t know what enemies you are facing right now…what “horde” is surrounding and advancing upon you, but your eyes need to be on the Lord. That is our only hope. Our eyes don’t need to be on government, elections, people, economics, leaders, pastors or anything else in this world. We should simply fololw this pattern Jehoshaphat did:

  • seek God intensly
  • pray…cry out to God
  • in humility turn our eyes to the Lord
  • trust Him to fight the battle
  • worship and praise Him
  • step out in faith and walk in obedience…daily
  • give thanks in advance
  • watch God work!
  • repeat continually… :)
16
Apr
12

6 years and counting…weekend reflections from The Ridge 4-15-12

Yesterday was our 6th Anniversary as a church @ The Ridge. In a lot of ways I cannot believe that it has been six years…in other ways it seems like a lot longer. God has been good to us and has blessed this community and many others around the state and the world through His church. I am certainly blessed to be allowed to pastor such a church. I believe God is doing some significant things in us as He grows us deeper. Disciples are developing, lives are being changed, people are being made over into the likeness fo Jesus, souls are being saved, and a generation yet to be born is being impacted because of what God is doing in families. What a privilege it is to be a part of His work.

Yesterday we had a great worship time as we kicked off a new series called Life Is A Highway. We are continuing to seek God for revival and awakening. I pray that we will all humbly come before Him, hungry, broken and surrendered. We looked at Isaiah 35 and the Highway Of Holiness described there. We determined that those who walk this Highway are first hungry and second humble. They hunger and thirst for righteousness and they come befor the cross in humlity and brokenness. When we walk this highway, we are clean, full of the Spirit, in fellowship with Christ, living victoriously.

Yesterday I also introduced the church to a book that was written over 60 years ago, but is one that has had a profound impact on milllions of people, me included. Some of our small groups are using this book as a guide to study God’s Word in relationship to personal revival. This book is called The Calvary Road by Roy Hession. I was very excited to see many people pick up a copy at our resource center. You can get a copy HERE or if you have a Kindle it is available for free download. I would encourage all Ridgers to read this book during this teaching series. We are not teaching the book, but we will be exploring the principles laid out in it as we examine what revival is in God’s Word and what it looks like in our lives.

Another special part of our worship gathering and anniversary celebration yesterday was the installation of our first two Elders @ The Ridge. When the Church @ The Ridge was formed six years ago, we said, we wouldn’t have Elders until God sent us Elders. Well, it took a while, but God has affirmed two men to serve in this capacity @ The Ridge. I am so pleased to have these men serving alongside us privding wisdom and discernment as they help us seek God together for His vision and direction for His Church @ The Ridge. Mike pinkerton and Darrell Galloway have agreed to serve in this capacity. These men ahve been vetted according to God’s Word and the qualifiacations for Elder that we find in We will be adding more Elders in the future as God directs, but for now  these men will be laying groundwork for future elders. Please pray for them as they seek God with us. They will provide, wisdom, direction, vision, discernment, accountability and encouragement for the pastor and staff. I will be giving a profile of each of them in a later post.

Last evening, we had a chance to celebrate together as a community of faith with The Ridge Family Picnic. It was a great time of eating, playing, hanging out with one another.

I believe that God has some HUGE things on the horizon @ The Ridge!  The opportunity for us to “impact another generation for the glory of God by changing people’s perspective” has never been greater…nor mor urgent. May we be diligent in prayer, faithfulness, obedience as we join God is His work around us!

14
Apr
12

6th Anniversary @ The Ridge TOMORROW!

I can’t believe that it has been six years since we officially launched The Church @ The Ridge! God has been so gracious and has done so much work in and through His Church here. We are celebrating tomorrow, Sunday Evening, April 15th with a special Ridge Family Picnic and with some special elements in our worship gathering Sunday morning.

Here’s some quick details on our Anniversary Picnic

  • Picnic is at White Oak Park on Mustang Drive off Hwy 61 at 5pm look for the tents we’ll have set up.
  • FOOD: Bring enough food to fee your entire family a MEAL. We will put it all together in a big spread and share. Church will provide paper goods.
  • DRINKS: to keep it simple, bring your own cooler with your own water, soft drinks, etc.
  • We will have cornhole, but you can also bring your own games. Whatever fun picnic, family, group games you want to bring. Break out the frisbees, horseshoes, footballs, volleyballs, whiffle balls, baseballs, or whatever!
  • Come and plan on having fun and getting better acquainted with your fellow Ridgers!

YOU have been and ARE a part of God’s work here in this community. Let’s celebrate what God has done these last 6 years and what He is going to do in the future.

See you tomorrow morning @ The Ridge as we gather for worship at Austin Middle School. Remember, we are back to our regular schedule at 10:30am.

We are beginning a new series tomorrow that dovetails out of our OneCry series. This series is called “Life Is A Highway” and I believe it will be one of the most important teaching series we have ever done! Don’t miss it ! There are also going to be some other special things happening in our worship gathering tomorrow that you won’t want to miss. God has something for YOU. Won’t you be there?

See you tomorrow!

Pastor Steve

02
Apr
12

Dead or Alive?

 

46 years ago, Time Magazine put this question on their cover. Many people then were saying that God no longer had a place in America…or anywhere for that matter. He was dead. Not relevant. Unneccessary. Afterall, man was so enlightened that he had all the answers. Culture was moving away from a need for God, so therefore He was dead.

But what about today? What do you say? Is He dead or alive in your life? Do we need Him anymore?  Well, as we approach Easter, here is a headline for you:

Join us for Easter @ The Ridge! This Sunday, April 8, 1012
9:30 & 11:00am at Austin Middle School on Ridge Rd in So. Paulding Co!

  But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb,  taking the spices they had prepared. 2 And they found  the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold,  two  men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5 And as they were  frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you,  while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man  must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and  be crucified and on  the third day rise.” 8 And  they remembered his words, 9 and returning from the tomb they  told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. – Luke 24:1-9 (emphasis added)




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