Easter @ The Ridge is coming…


This weekend we celebrate the most significant event in history. It is the day that we were set free from the bondage of sin. It is the day that we were given access to the Heavenly Father and the Kingdom of Heaven through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross and God’s raising of His Son from the dead!

Join us @ The Ridge for a special Good Friday worship gathering that you will not want to miss. I promise you it will be unlike anything you have ever been a part of. We will gather at 7pm at Austin Middle School.

Then we will continue our worship and praise of God by gathering on Easter Sunday morning at 9:30 and 11:00am at Austin MS. (Both RidgeKidz teams will serve that day, so plan to be there.)

Invite all your family and friends! I was so pleased to see almost all of the invite cards we had printed, gone last Sunday. Hand them out! Don’t miss the opportunity to invite a friend, family member, classmate, neighbor, co-worker, or even a stranger to join you for Easter @ The Ridge. It truly is urgent! Eternity hangs in the balance!

If you are a volunteer in ANY area, we need ALL hands on deck this Sunday. Please plan to be here. There are a lot of guests going to be here and we NEED YOU ALL to be available to make them feel welcome!

I can’t wait to see what God is gonna do this Easter as we look at the question “Does Easter matter…Really?” Don’t miss it!

Before Sunday…

Before this Sunday, here are a few things you need to do, think about, prepare for, and know…

  • This Sunday we celebrate our 5th Anniversary…our 5th Birthday @ The Ridge! God has done amazing things in and through us and we want to celebrate what HE has done and glorify HIS name for these 5 years.
  • We want all you Ridgers to wear any t-shirt you might have from The Ridge on Sunday. We’ve had a bunch of them over the years and we though it might be kinda cool for everyone to wear a different shirt from the past if you have one.
  • We’ll have some guests with us, so make sure you watch out for them and make them feel welcome. If you are a volunteer in any way, please wear a nametag Sunday. If you don’t have a volunteer nametag, we’ll have our usual nametags available. If everyone wears one, then everyone will know everyone else! Makes it less awkward for people like me who can’t remember names too well. 🙂
  • We will not have RidgeKidz or RidgeKidz Jr this week so that ALL of us can gather as one family. Please reserve seating on the outside edges for those with babies so that they can have freedom to get up if necessary. We had hoped that some folks from another church were going to come take care of the nursery for us this week, but that didn’t work out. But it’s gonna be fine as we will have a great time as one family. It’ll be just like we’ve done in the past when we met at the tent, so it will be fine.
  • We’ll be having an old fashioned dinner on the grounds/picnic after the worship gathering. Bring your own picnic for your family and pack a little extra for another so that you can share with someone who doesn’t bring anything. We’ll have a few hotdogs available for folks who came without knowing to bring food.
  • Plan to stay and enjoy hanging out together and even play together. Bring your games, cornhole, frisbees, etc. This is a great time to connect with one another. If you have not had a chance to get to know many folks, this will be a good time to do just that!
  • If you have become accustomed to parking in the gues lot right in front of the school…and you are not a guest…then please start parking in the larger lot and save those spaces for guests, expectant moms, and those with newborns. Especially starting this Sunday AND Easter Sunday.
  • How do I know if I qualify for guest/expectant/new mom parking? If you’ve been coming here for 1,2,3 + YEARS you are not a guest anymore. Guest parking is intended for 1st, 2nd, or even 3rd time guests. If you are MALE you are not an expectant mom. If your child is 3, 4, 7, or 15 years old, you are not a new mom. Okay…you get the picture 🙂 We will have lots of first and second time guests the next two weeks with Anniversary and Easter, make them feel welcome by leaving the best parking for them.
  • Finally, before Sunday….and next Sunday…INVITE, INVITE, INVITE!
  • There is still time to invote people to The Hunt tomorrow, April 16th at 2pm at Austin M.S. Come and enjoy the crafts and egg hunt as well as the stories and snacks. It’s another good chance to connect with other families at The Ridge, but it is also a great chance to invite someone who doesn’t attend church anywhere.
  • Make note of our Easter Weekend Schedule: Good Friday Gathering 7PM at Austin M.S. (April 22); Easter Sunday Worship Gatherings at 9:30 and 11:00 am (April 24). You don’t want ot miss any of it!

Weekend Recap 4-10-11

Well, we finally finished our hike…our hike through the Sermon On The Mount in our Take A Hike series. We spent 6 weeks on the Beatitudes in our GameChanger series back in October/November then took a break for the Christmas season. In January we picked up with the remainder of the Sermon On The Mount, in which we have spent the last 14 weeks, with Take A Hike. I can’t believe it’s over, actually. I have really enjoyed it!

This past Sunday was the tail end of Spring Break, so I was actually once again expecting a pretty slim crowd, bu I have been pleasantly surprised these two weeks! God is bringing lots of new folks to The Ridge each week. Great to see so many new faces! That’s exciting! If you are one of those new faces, I pray that you will make an effort to get connected here by getting in a small group. All of our small groups are beginning new studies the next couple of weeks as they come back from spring break. You can find more info about our Quest Groups HERE.  If you have questions about it, email me at stevew@churchattheridge.com

If you missed any of the Take A Hike series, we will have box sets of the entire series available and individual message cd’s available as well, this Sunday in our Resource Center. Podcast is also available HERE.

It was exciting to see GOd move in the hearts of people this Sunday. Wow! I could sense the Holy Spirit moving in a powerful way. The band did a fantastic job of leading worship and “setting the table” so to speak. It sure makes it easier for me when they do such a great job each week!

Here are a few of the bullet points from this week as we looked at Matthew 7:13-29

 Two Ways:

  • The Narrow gate is not only narrow, it is low and it is found at the base of the cross. Hebrews 4:15
  • There is only ONE way, only ONE path to life.  
  • How narrow is this way? Look up these verses: John 3:36; 1Timothy 2:5; 1 John 5:12; John 14:1-6; Acts 4:11-12
  • When Jesus says to “beware” of false prophets, He means that we are to continually beware.
  •  How will we know the difference? You’ll be able to determine whether they are true or not by what they produce…by the fruit of his life.
  • Why will so few find it? Because they are seeking to enter into God’s kingdom on their own terms.  

Two Foundations Jesus talks about at the end are simply…

  • Obedience
  • Disobedience

 The results of the storms of life will show the truth of the foundation.

 How do you know that you are truly His? The Bible never points to the past as evidence of salvation, it always bases proof of your salvation on your life now.

 Here’s The Thing… The only path you want is the narrow path because of where it leads; the only way to be sure of that is to know what foundation you’re building on.

 Some other stuff from this weekend:

Major props to the Johnsons, Mullins, Pruets, Bullocks, McIntyres, Davisons, Brewtons and even my little Whiplets for helping out with our “Spring Cleaning” projects Saturday! Some MUCH needed work was done at our storage unit and the office. Made a HUGE difference! You guys rock!

Our youth and parents went to see the movie SoulSurfer Sunday night. If you haven’t seen it, you need to do so! Check out Bethany Hamilton’s story HERE and the movie trailer HERE. I haven’t seen it yet, but I intend to. I told my wife to go with our three teenagers and I stayed home with the younger Whiplets. We all had good times though!

Can’t wait to celebrate with all you Ridgers what God has done in and through us at our 5th Anniversary this Sunday! Don’t miss it!

Spring Cleaning…

This Saturday, April 9th, we are having a Spring Cleaning Day @ The Ridge. It isn’t often that we get this opportunity, being a portable church, to have empty trailers. With Spring Break this week, we have the opportunity to leave all of our stuff set up at the school. Therefore, we can work on our trailers, clean them out of the extra stuff that tends to accumulate and use our empty trailers to cledan out our storage unit.

The storage unit! That’s another story. What a mess that tends to become. Well, we are gonna take some time this Saturday morning to get to cleaning. We are meeting at Austin Middle School at 9am. If you are a Ridger and can join us, please do so…even if it is for just a little while. We’ll be done no later than noon. If you have questions or want to let us know you are coming call the church office at 678-838-4549 or email info@churchattheridge.com .

BUT that’s not so much what this post is really about.

All this talk about cleaning out and cleaning up, got me thinking about what we’ve been studying @ The Ridge these last few months. This Sunday we will end our Take A Hike series. This has been an awesome study on The Sermon On The Mount that Jesus preached in Matthew 5-7. It has been quite a hike, but I believe God has revealed much in our hearts that needs to be cleaned out and much in His Word that we now have a fresh perspective about.

I know that there has been much in my own heart that He is doing by way of “spring cleaning.” I also know that He has done much in the lives of many people in His church in the same way. The question is, what will we do with what He has done?

I know that on many occasions, my wife will tackle our kids’ rooms with a “deep cleaning” that is much needed. It will look great when she is done. However, as with most kids, it doesn’t take long for it to get messed up again…even though she’ll say, “Now let’s try to not let get like that again.” They try to stay on top of it, but they are kids and it just seems to happen. If you are a parent, you know what I mean. The mess mysteriously accumulates until it is in need of a deep cleaning again.

Our hearts are constantly in need of cleaning. 1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” That is something that we must continually do. That is why I’m so thankful for grace. In his classic little story My Heart Christ’s Home, Robert Munger challenges and convicts us with this whole concept of Christ cleaning out our hearts and then taking ownership. I love this story. If you have never read it, or if you have, read it HERE.

What might God want to do in your life in the area of some “spring cleaning”? We all need to let Christ constantly clean areas of our heart, reveal areas of sin, pride, selfishness, idolatry. Then after He’s done, listen to his admonition to “go and sin no more,” when He says, “Now, lets try and not let it get in this mess again.”  Walk in His truth daily, dealing with sin as it happens, and watch Him transform your heart. He doesn’t jsut want to change your perspective, but change your life and use you to change a generation!

Let’s allow Him to do some Spring Cleaning.

Sunday Recap 4-3-11

Yesterday I was totally surprised by our attendance on the first Sunday of Spring Break week. Traditionally, this week is always very low. While there were lots of people out, there was also a pretty good crowd. We were also blessed to see several new faces! It was…as always… a good day!

  • The band did a great job. Loved the songs chosen to express our worship yesterday! Props to Jerry and the entire Creative Arts team!
  • We had a unique opportunity to pray for a couple of people in out church body during our prayer time. I hadn’t realized that one of our own who has been in training with the US Navy would be there yesterday. Ryan Fallon just graduated from the first of three training schools and is home on leave for a little while. He showed up looking sharp in uniform. We gathered around him and prayed for God’s protection and wisdom as he continues his training. Thankful for the many men and women who are serving our country!
  • We also had a chance to pray for a sweet young family in the church who is adopting a child from Uganda. Jeremiah and Sara will be bringing home, very soon, their new adopted son! Jeremiah leaves Tuesday of this week for Uganda and may be there as long as a month to complete the process. We prayed for him for safety and for Sara while he’s gone…especially as she has a 10 week old and a 2 year old to care for! Love this family and their heart fo the Lord and their willingness to be ob edient to whatever God calls them to do.
  • We are almost to the end of our Take A Hike Series through the Sermon On The Mount. Yesterday we were in Matthew 7:1-12 as we looked at Jesus’ teaching on judging others.
  • Here are a few of the bullet  points…
  • One of the big questions about this passage is: Are we to never judge at all?
  • Jesus doesn’t rule out HUMILITY or CORRECTING, but does rule out PRIDE in thinking myself BETTER than my brother.
  • We want PATIENCE with our own IMPERFECTIONS but aren’t willing to give it to others.
  • The problem with being judgmental is that we don’t even KNOW we have a PROBLEM! Take a hard look at Romans 2:1-13 to see what I mean.
  • We SHOULD help a brother/sister in Christ who has   STRAYED to come back to the PATH of righteousness (see James 5:19-20
  • The answer to the question of judging is in your HEART.
  • Am I there to CONDEMN or RESTORE? It’s one thing to point out a brother’s error, it’s another thing to CONDEMN their HEART
  • A heart attitude of HUMILITY is the key to how we approach God and treat others.
  • Finally…the thing we have to keep ion mind is Jesus’ purpose and example seen in  John 8:10-11 and John 3:17

Next week we’ll be finishing up this incredible journey through the Sermon On The Mount. I am very excited about it. It has been a “hike” for sure…spanning 20 weeks, believe it our not! However, it has been awesome to dig into Jesus’ words as He laid out specifically what His followers will be like…and what their heart will be like first and foremost. Can’t wait to reach the “summit” of our hike next week! If you want to read ahead, check out Matthew 7:13-29. You DON’T WANT TO MISS THIS!! Be here!

I FORGOT SOMETHING VERY IMPORTANT SUNDAY!!! I was supposed to announce this at the end of the worship gathering and forgot! If you are an Ridger and are in town next Saturday, April 9th, we need your help! We have been announcing for several weeks that we are doing a “Spring Cleaning” day @ The Ridge! With Spring Break we are able to keep all of our setup at the school, this allows us to have empty trailers for this week…which is unusual. SO…we wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to clean out some of the trailers AND clean out our storage unit AND do a little cleaning a sprucing up at our offices. We need everyone’s help who is available. We’ll meet at Austin Middle school at 9:00 AM Saturday and give assignments to everyone on where they can go to help. If you have a truck and can bring it, please do so. If you only have your willing hands, that’s awesome! Come on! If you have some painting supplies, being them as we will be doing some painting at the offices. We’ll be done no later than 12 noon, so it wont take your whole day. Even if you can only come for an hour or two, that’s cool! Come for what you can. Thanks in advance for helping us to get some much needed work done! Let us know that you can come, by emailing info@churchattheridge.com .

Weekend Recap 3-27-11

Great day @ The Ridge last Sunday! We had a great worship gathering followed by a fantastic FamJam. Here’s the highlights…

  • We saw 2 young people baptized!! That is always exciting and never gets old! One teenager from our DiscipleNow Weekend last month and one young girl, actually the daughter of our Family Pastor Wendell Brewton. He had the privilege of baptizing her. That is always cool to see!
  • Still seeing lots of new faces each week! Love seeing new folks coming to The Ridge. God is moving in our community!
  • We started giving out tickets to The HUNT which is coming up Saturday, April 16th. It is gonna be an Easter Egg Hunt, crafts, games, food for families @ The Ridge. We ask that you take two sets of tickets…one for each of your family members AND one for those families that you intend to invite. This is gonna be a great connecting event for our church butr also a great chance to invite someone. We never want to lose sight of those around us who need to hear the Hope of the gospel. There will be no other advertising for this event other than YOU Ridgers making personal invitations. SO lets invite folks! This can be a fantastic first step for people to come to Jesus! Get your tickets this week. They are free but limited.
  • FamJam is a high-energy worship environment for kids and their parents. It is something that we do about 3 or 4 times a year. Last Sunday, we had a pizza lunch after our worship gathering then we came back in to the cafetorium for FamJam! It was a fun time for our families. Wendell and the FamJam team did a fantastic job as always. Major props to him and all his volunteers. W learned the “Big Idea” of HUMILITY. Good stuff. My kids are already putting what they learned into practice.
  • We continued our series  called Take A Hike as we are walking through the greatest sermon ever preached: Jesus’ Sermon On The Mount.
  • We looked at Matthew 6:19-34 and what Jesus said about where our treasure should be as well as what we should be seeking really.
  •  Here’s what Jesus is NOT saying in this passage: He is not saying don’t store up treasure for yourself. He actually commands it!  Jesus commands us to storeup treasure! He’s all for it!  WOW, that’s a relief! Jesus has a treasure mentality…with the right perspective. He says whether or not our treasures last, is dependent upon where they are.
  • We gave out copies of Randy Alcorn’s book The Treasure Principle to each family in attendance. This is one of the best perspectives I’ve ever read on Jesus teaching on treasure in Heaven. In this book Randy spells out the Treasure Principle which Jesus is speaks about: “You can’t take it with you… but you can send it on ahead.”
  • The first key to understanding this principle is found in Psalm 24:1
    The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;
  • That includes ME…He even owns ME.
  • God has ENTRUSTED His assets to me…not GIVEN.  If I am a good money manager, then I am to manage the owner’s assets for HIS benefit, not mine.
  •  I need to apologize for something I said in the message Sunday. I was speaking about how when we store up treasure on earth, the reason we have trouble grasping what Jesus was saying is simple physics.  The greater the mass the, the greater the hold that mass exerts.  The more things WE own, including our selves, the greater their total mass.  Thus the greater the hold they have on us…they grip us and set us in orbit around THEM.  Finally like a black hole, which has incredible mass, we get sucked in.  Well when I said that, I made a joke about how some people have accumulated a lot of mass in their physical body and might want to think about that. It was an off the cuff comment and was meant to be a joke, but apparently some were offended by it. Please know that I was in no way intending to belittle those who are overweight. That was not what I was saying at all. It was a joke…maybe a poor attempt at one. For that I apologize and as forgiveness of anyone who was offended.
  •  What makes it so difficult for us to actually live and give with the treasure mentality that Jesus is talking about is a simple but HUGE obstacle. The biggest obstacle that makes it so difficult for us to give is the illusion that this earth is our home.
  • We must understand that we weren’t made for here. Our home is a place we’ve never been, but one that is being made just for us. 
  • Therefore, Jesus said…why are you anxious?  If I have a Kingdom perspective on God’s treasure…a steward’s mentality…serving and seeking to please only one Master, then why am I anxious? What did He say in Mt. 6:33?

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

  • Here’s The Thing from Sunday’s message…What are you seeking really? God’s Kingdom or yours?

I know that some people don’t like to hear about money in sermons at church. Honestly, I don’t know of many preachers who like to talk about it. However, Jesus talked about money more than He did about Heaven and Hell combined. Maybe that’s why He focused so much on the heart when it came to treasure.  I hope that we’ll listen to His words and allow the Holy Spirit to teach us and continue to make us into His likeness.

If any of you Ridgers are gonna be out for Spring Break next Sunday, be safe. If not, plan to BE HERE as we start to wrap up this awesome series on the Sermon On The Mount. Only two more weeks left. If you want to read ahead, read Matthew 7.

Next week: “Plankeye“. Then the following week: “Warning: Narrow Road Ahead” Don’t miss it!

Weekend Recap 3-27-11

Okay, so I totally didn’t blog at all last week. 😦 Well, things were pretty crazy and it just kept being put on the back burner until the week was gone. Well, we’re back and here are the highlights of a good weekend with our family and @ The Ridge:

  • My oldest was home from college on Spring Break all week. It was nice having her around! Miss that girl when she’s not there. She’s back and school for the downhill side of her Sophmore year.
  • Baseball’s opening day was Saturday for my two boys. Both of them played well even though their teams lost. It was a beautiful day Saturday though. My kids came home from the ballpark sunburned…as did a lot of people I suspect.
  • We had the third part of our SquareOne Newcomers Group at our house Sunday evening. This has been a blast to get to know these new people in our church! I have really enjoyed this format. We’ll be tweaking it a little and offering our next SquareOne in a few months. Watch for it if you are a Ridger who is new to the church.
  • Last Sunday (the 20th) Jerry did a great job of teaching. You can see a post from his blog about last Sunday HERE. It is always good for me to get a break now and then and it is also good for our folks to hear from someone besides me sometimes. 🙂
  • The last couple of Sundays have been awesome as far as new faces are concerned. We are seeing lots of new people every week! God is moving in people’s hearts and drawing people to Himself and His church.
  • This past Sunday (the 27th) we talked about the next part of our Take A Hike series as we have been walking through the Sermon On The Mount. We looked at Matthew 6:16-18 where Jesus continues His teaching on elements of worship and talks about Fasting.
  • While this may not be the most exciting topic to some, it is something Jesus spoke about that was a part of worship, so we dug into what He said a little and explored some other scripture on the topic.
  • “When you fast” Jesus said. Once again, just as He had said about giving to the poor and about prayer…it is assumed that Jesus Followers…Disciples…would fast. But what Jesus is saying here is all about the heart. He is saying that when you do this it is to be a private thing. Just like prayer and giving had been made into public displays of piety that the Religious leaders did in order to be noticed by men.
  • We are in the season of Lent and if we think about it we are sometimes no different than the Pharisees Jesus was addressing here..even when it comes to something like Lent. I mean why do we make it public what we are “giving up for Lent”? I’ve seen people on fb announcing what they are giving up for Lent. The thing about Lent is that it isn’t found in Scripture anywhere. I’m not saying it doesn’t have value, but only if it is done as a private act of worship in order to seek God. NOT so that we can be noticed. Is that really an different than what the Pharisees did.
  • It is important to understand here that Jesus is not condemning the Pharisees for their fasting, but for their pride in it and their motives.
  • Jesus doesn’t say how often we should fast but that it is to be a time of humble, private worship and seeking and listening to God.
  • When we fast we are to seek Him. But even if our desire is to seek Him humbly we still need to check the motive of our hearts. WHY are we seeking God? Are you seeking God or tying to manipulate Him?

Zechariah 7:5 “Ask all the people of the land and the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted?

  • We did something a little different Sunday also. We took time to look at a passage of scripture from the Old Testament that speaks very clearly to this issue that Jesus was addressing. We got into groups and dug into Isaiah 58 and what God was saying to the Israelites about their worship. Read it very carefully. Look and see if you see any correlation to the church and our nation today. This is a powerful passage!
  • In our groups we looked specifically and the statements God makes that begin with the words “Then” and “If”. It would be a great study for you to do on your own.
  • Here’s The Thing…Our worship should never be about trying to manipulate God into our agenda, but seeking Him to move our heart into His. Don’t play games with God.

Before Next Sunday…

FIRST OF ALL…

Don’t forget to SPRING FORWARD ONE HOUR Saturday night before going to bed! Daylight Saving Time begins this weekend.

SECOND…

Join me Sunday at 10am before our Worship Gathering for a special “Backstage Tour” @ The Ridge! If you are not currently volunteering on a Ministry Team on Sundays, I would personally like to take you on a backstage, behind-the-scenes tour of what goes on @ The Ridge each week. There is a place for EVERYONE to use their gifts, talents, skills, personality in serving the Lord and others as we seek to “Impact Another Generation By Changing Perspectives.”

Join me and you will see that you can join God is what He is doing and  serve Him and others in your sweet spot. It is such a huge blessing to be used by God to accomplish His purposes! You can be a part of something eternal every Sunday @ The Ridge! That’s exciting! Why not just come check it out and pray about what God would have you do?

There are areas of need in our RidgeKidz environments…did you know that last Sunday there was one class with 23 kids in it?! …and another with 31?! That’s awesome because God is bringing families to The Ridge…but it also means we need to step up and help with these kids.

What if you don’t like working with kids? That’s cool, because there are a ton of other areas where your service is needed. From  our Guest services team…which includes the parking lot, greeters, cafe, hospitality…to our Operations Team which sets up all of our environments…to our Creative Arts Team which includes a variety of ways to serve, not just music!

All of these are ways that people just like YOU make an impact in people’s lives. Think you don’t have much to offer? I guarantee you that isn’t true!

Join me THIS SUNDAY, MARCH 13 AT 10:00 AM for an exclusive Backstage Tour. We’ll meet at Connection Point in the Atrium. It will only take about 15 minutes and then you’ll be ready to go to the Worship Gathering.

Lookin forward to seeing you Sunday!

Masks…a recap from 3-6-11

Yesterday was one of thse amazing worship gatherings that you just can’t plan. God revealed Himself in a fresh way that was incredible! We saw the Holy Spirit speak very specifically and LOUDLY to all of us. if you were there, you know what I’m talking about; if you weren’t there, then I can’t really explain what went on…but I’ll try.

First of all, there was a great crowd with lots of new faces! That is always exciting. Ridgers, keep bringing people. YOU are the best outreach we can have!

We had all of our students who had participated in DiscipleNow weekend along with their leaders there together. Awesome weekend with these guys. Wendell Brewton, our Family Pastor did his usual awesome job of organizing along with an amazing team of volunteers. Thanks to ALL of you for making DiscipleNow Weekend great! Major props to all!

We are continuing in our series on the Sermon On The Mount which we are calling Take A Hike. Yesterday, we looked at Matthew 6:1-4.

The main thing in this passage Jesus was teaching is not so much about giving to the poor, that isn’t His point here; rather that our relationship with God is for Him to see, not for men to notice, applaud, approve or acknowledge. Do we do righteous acts to be noticed by men or are we righteous before God?

Hypocrite means literally means “one who wears a MASK the Greek actors of the day would wear masks to portray multiple characters in a play. Masks are something we wear to HIDE who we really are…or to make us APPEAR to be something we are not…or to PROTECT ourselves. Masks also draw attention to ME.

Jesus understands that the FLESH is the root of the hypocrisy problem. The FLESH demands to be NOTICED. The flesh will always want to “put on a show” in order to be SEEN by MEN.   If we are in Christ, we have a new heart. This is what Jesus wants to get down to. Again, where is your heart? If we have a new heart, we have to realize and never forget that the battle with the flesh will always be there until we die and Jesus changes or mortal bodies into new heavenly immortal ones. Until then we will live a in a body of flesh and the flesh will always be the flesh. However, that doesn’t mean that we have to give in to the demands of the flesh. (see Galatians 5:16-17).

When all people see is my mask, they’ll never see JESUS.  When we give, serve, worship, pray, whatever… in order to be noticed, we have gotten our reward. There is no more reward coming. So, when do you want your reward? Now or later?

 Here’s The Thing…at the end of the day…in our hearts…Whose APPLAUSE are we after? That is the heart of the matter as far as Jesus is concerned. What mask are you hiding behind that is seeking man’s approval instead of God’s? What are the hypocrisies that God is convicting you of? What are the pride issues that you are using to steal God’s glory? You see that’s really what we are doing.

As people had arrived, we had masks on all of the seats. At the end of our teaching, we gave people a chance to respond by coming to the altar and writing on these masks the things that they had been hiding behind…the hypocricies…the false righteousness…the “religiousity”…the desire for recognition and the applause of men….whatever God was showing them. Then we asked them to pray and simply leave those things there at the altar. It was a powerful moment! I think some folks got serious about their walk with Christ and took some major steps yesterday. I pray that they will continue in their journey each day this week! Let’s keep hiking! God is working in us…and through us to accomplish His purposes!

If you laid your mask at the altar…don’t pick it up again. If you didn’t, why not get real with God and lay it down. He wants to change your heart…and He doesn’t want you to put on an external mask to try and hide it.

Ridgie Awards! …and Before Next Sunday

Last Sunday was Oscar night. I don’t really care about award shows like the Oscars, Emmys, Grammys, etc. I rarely watch any of them. All the self-adulation is kinda too much for me sometimes. But its the world in which we live.

I always had a philosophy in ministry that says “I don’t need to toot my own horn. If my horn needs tooting, God will toot it.” Because, it isn’t about me…its about Him. That is so easy to say, but tough to DO and LIVE. Because the flesh NEEDS to be noticed; and we have to fight against that.

By the way…THAT is our “Before Next Sunday” thought to look at. We are looking at just that in Matthew 6:1-4 as we continue in our Take A Hike series studying the Sermon On The Mount. Read ahead and come ready to dig in.

ALSO “Before Next Sunday” remember to be praying for our middle & high school students this weekend. Friday night begins our DiscipleNow Weekend! This is an awesome experience for all our students. We will have over 32 students of our own joining with students from two other churches in our community for a weekend of Bible study, worship, and service in the community. The theme is “Dirty Jobs: having a faith that’s willing to get dirty.” Pray for Wendell and the Student Ministry volunteers as well as our speaker Ritchie  Johnson from Transform Student Ministries along with a great group of small group leaders that will be treaching all the students in the home groups.

Back to the awards thing…Last Sunday, we gave out our first ever “Ridgie Awards”. These are recognitions for outstanding, humble, servant hearted, volunteer leadership @ The Ridge. I was so honored to recognize these people who give SO much to God’s Kingdom work. We gave each of them a t-shirt that says “I Got A Ridgie” with Galatians 6:9 on the back:

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

The thing I love about all these people, is that they have no desire to be recognized. They just serve God with a humble spirit so that others can hear the Gospel and so that the church may be built up. Love their heart! Here are the Ridgie recipients from last week:

Operations Team:

  • David Lottinger…who sets up our signs and flags at the entrance to the school every Friday and takes them down every Sunday. He’s a humble guy who diligently serves. This guy has literally touched thousands of lives week after week with his volunteer service and leadership.
  • Jeff Shropshire…aka Robo-Man! This guy is the most amazing worker. He is the first one at the school each SUnday and usually the last to leave. Does a fantastic job with our set up team. I can’t keep up with him, so I just stay out of his way! Epitomizes “going the second mile”!

RidgeKidz Team:

  • Beth McIntyre…serves in our RKjr hall and is the main “story-teller”. Beth is the one who teaches the kids the Bible each week. She is SO sweet and does a phenomenal job. What most people don’t know is that Beth was our preschool coordinator from day one @ The Ridge and did an amazing job of getting our RidgeKidz Jr ministry off the ground. We wouldn’t be where we are without Beth!
  • Ross & Molly Weaver…These guys pull double, triple, quadruple duty! They serve in RidgeKidz, teach our youth on Wednesday nights, and serve in our FamJam ministry. Ross also serves faithfully on our Operations Team. Diligent, faithful, dedicated servants! Ross has also created many stage props, backgrounds, etc. with his awesome artistic ability.

Creative Arts Team:

  • Jason Johnson…Jason has been in our band from the beginning. His talent is excellent and his heart for worship and ministry is evident. Jason also was our interim Band Coordinator during the year-long transition between Creative Arts Pastors Doug Garvin and Jerry Davison. He has done MUCH to hold things together…on many levels. Love this guy’s commitment and his desire to use his gifts for God’s glory.
  • John Marino…ROOKIE OF THE YEAR! John came in a little less than a year ago and started setting up sound, lights and tech stuff. He was just willing to serve where needed. He has run sound and played multiple instruments in the band…all very well! John is simply willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done and to make the ministry happen. Great attitude! John and his wife Joy also are hosting a small group of Financial Peace University this semester.

Those are the first recipients of the Ridgie! There will be more…because God has blessed us with some incredible servant leaders @ The Ridge! We always need more too. Want to know more about volunteering and using your talents and gifts to “Impact Another Generation”? Click HERE and let us know by emailing info@churchattheridge.com OR by checking that you would like to “Make An Impact” on a Ministry Team on the back of your Communication Card this Sunday.

I will be leading a special “Backstage Tour” on Sunday March 13th at 10:00am. Meet at Connection Point in the center of the Atrium that day to see all the ways God can use you to serve in His Church and make an eternal impact in our community. You can sign up for that HERE

Finally…below is the video of some of these Ridgie recipients. Check it out…