Archive for the 'Family' Category

16
Sep
16

I Ran Out Of Gas On A Date…yeah right!

low-on-fuelWhen my wife and I first started dating, we were in fact on our third date, we were on our way home from the movie. All of a sudden, my 1975 Volkswagen Scirocco began to sputter. I pulled over and said, “I think I’m out of gas.” Now, many a guy over the years has tried this cliche excuse with a girl. But in this case, it was no excuse. It was true…and a little embarrassing, especially on just a third date. Since this was pre-cellphone days, we had to walk about a mile to a Dunkin Donuts and call her dad. Really embarrassing! Then we walked back to the car and by the time we got there he was there putting gas in.

I am notorious for running my cars until they are almost totally empty…and yes, I have run out of gas on multiple occasions. It frustrates my wife to no end, but she should have realized this after that third date! 🙂

The reasons I have run my vehicles on empty are various…and sometimes legitimate. Like it being the day before payday and we had no money left in the account. Or I might have been on the highway and there was an unexpectedly long stretch before coming to a gas station. But mostly, honestly, it comes from just not paying attention…or just forgetting to check the gauge.

Recently, a pastor whom I know stepped down from a vibrant, large, growing church. A seemingly successful, fruitful ministry. However, in his own words he said he was “not okay” and “I’m tired. And I’m broken and I just need some rest. ” He didn’t take a leave of absence, even though that is what his elders begged him to do. This pastor totally resigned. He said that for some time he had been “leading on empty” and “leaders who lead on empty don’t lead well.

Knowing and respecting this pastor, I was heartbroken. I could see the weariness in his eyes and hear it in his voice. It really struck me. I do not want to get to that point myself. And I fear that, while I’m not there, I can feel myself getting close.

The car I drive now has a computer that says exactly how many miles you have left to

3-miles-to-e

yes these are actual pictures of my car…but this was payday, so it was about to be filled!

empty. So I know how much I can push it. The problem with us as human beings…and especially pastors…is we don’t have such a computer. I don’t know exactly how far I can push it. And many times that computer can be inaccurate…just like my mind can be. And any mechanic will tell you that if you run on empty all the time, you are in danger of burning up your fuel pump. I’ve done that!

In Exodus 18, we read an account of where Moses was in danger of “running out of gas” as he was leading Israel in the wilderness. His father-in-law saw what was happening and called him out…and gave him loving advice.

13 The next day Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning till evening. 14 When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning till evening?” 15 And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God; 16 when they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between one person and another, and I make them know the statutes of God and his laws.”17 Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good.18 You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone. 19 Now obey my voice; I will give you advice, and God be with you! You shall represent the people before God and bring their cases to God, 20 and you shall warn them about the statutes and the laws, and make them know the way in which they must walk and what they must do. 21 Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. 22 And let them judge the people at all times. Every great matter they shall bring to you, but any small matter they shall decide themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. 23 If you do this, God will direct you, you will be able to endure, and all this people also will go to their place in peace.”

 I am thankful for a group of elders and a church that have done much the same for me as a pastor. Their wisdom and counsel is to be heeded. It’s time.

After 30 years of ministry, it’s time. Nineteen years of youth ministry and 11 years as a church planter and pastor can certainly run your tank down pretty low. Not taking days off during the week and not taking full vacation time in recent years can do that too. It is challenging to lead in ministry, beyond what a lot of people can understand. I didn’t fully understand when I was a youth pastor the amount of energy, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, it takes to be in this position of shepherd. As this pastor who just resigned said, “You all see what I do on Sundays, but there is a lot of leadership energy that takes place the rest of the time.” Oh yes, I have taken time over the years to refuel…conferences, listening to other teachers/pastors, reading, studying, vacations, etc…and there have been times when God has graciously brought my tank close to full. There have been other times that by His grace he has somehow enabled me to keep moving forward on a little bit of fuel. Miraculously allowing me to go farther than I expected. This is all HIM!

However, it is time. Not time to quit…although if I’m honest I have wanted to several times over these last 30 years. No, it’s time for me to take the upcoming exit off the freeway and pause at the next station to refuel…maybe get a snack and something to drink. It’s time for a SABBATICAL. It is an intentional Sabbath season. It is biblical and necessary for those in ministry (and other professions as well).  Our elders have graciously given me this opportunity. In fact, we have been planning it for some time, but the last year or so, circumstances have meant it to be delayed because of several factors including moving into our new church facilities. This is the first time in my 30 years of ministry that I have been afforded such an opportunity and I consider myself blessed.

I am still tempted to to continue on, pushing the limits, thinking that I have a little fuel in the tank and times of spiritual refreshing are going to come. But it’s time…to withdraw for a season. When Jesus heard that his cousin, friend, predecessor, and best man had been killed by Herod, He was heartbroken…in His full humanity, he knew it was time to withdraw.  Matthew 14:13 says

13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself.

Even Jesus needed to breakaway. There are many reasons for a pastor to take a sabbatical. Some are documented herealso here…and here is a good post about it from Dr. Thom Rainer.

I need to pay attention to the gauge. My wife and I used to tell our kids that we loved them so much that we were going out without them! We knew we needed time together just us. I want my church flock @ The Ridge to know that I am fine. I am not going anywhere. I LOVE them! Very much! So much so, I am going to pull over for a month starting September 19th and refuel. I’ll be resting, praying, reading, recharging, learning by going to a couple of conferences, taking some time away with my wife and also with my family and mostly unplugging.

I’m thankful for our elders who are all but requiring that I do so. I will say this also to all pastors and church members out there: your pastor’s wife and family need a sabbatical as much as he does. I can see this in my own family. As much as I love my church family, I love my own family more. They are my first ministry and they too need a sabbatical to an extent. So, it’s time. Look there’s a rest stop up ahead! I don’t want to lead on empty.

Thank you for your prayers and support and thank you for allowing me to have this opportunity to sabbatical. Thank you Lord for your grace…which is sufficient! I’ll see y’all in October!

 

02
Jan
15

Don’t Throw Away Those Christmas Cards!

Christmas card basket

Our basket of Christmas Prayer Cards for 2015

What do you do with all those Christmas Cards you received over the last month…even those latecomers that might not have arrived until January 2nd (we got a few of those!)? Why not keep them and let them help you give back to each person/family throughout the whole year?

A few years ago we began a tradition at the Whipple house. I wrote about it on this blog several years ago, but I thought I’d re-write about it this year, because it has been such an important part of our family’s Christmas tradition that usually lasts through the summer and into the fall.

We take all those cards down from display when we put the decorations away, and place them in a basket. Each Sunday, when we have our dinner, one of the kids draws a card randomly from the basket. The younger ones in particular love picking the card. Sometimes there are spirited discussions about whose turn it is. 🙂

We then pray for that person or family every night at supper for the entire week. It is a great way to give back to them by praying for them. I try to let people know that we have prayed for them, but honestly, I often don’t. However, the times that I have called, texted, or emailed the family we prayed for in a particular week, or when I simply know the circumstances in their lives, I am always blown away by the timing of God allowing us to pray for that particular family on that particular week. It has almost always come at a time when that family/individual really needed it! Then again, I don’t know why it should blow me away. His sovereign timing is always right!

SO…don’t throw away those cards! Keep them and pray for those who have been meaningful in your lives and to thank God for them. It is a great example for your kids. We rotate saying the blessing around our supper table, so it is always cool to hear our kids intercede for others…sometimes people that they don’t even know well. Then, it is even cooler when we can tell them how their prayers were very timely!

You may even take the cards and put a note on them and send them back to those who originally sent them to you, letting them know you prayed and thanked God for them. It truly is a blessing to stand in the gap for friends and family and to teach your kids about praying for others.

Make those old Christmas Cards from last year into Prayer Cards for the new year!

And know that if you sent the Whipples a Christmas Card…we will be praying for you!

I thank God in all my rememberance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you allmaking my prayer for you with joy
Philippians 1:3-4

 

19
Feb
12

Sunday Recap…2-19-12

It was a great day @ The Ridge Sunday! While attendance was a little low (because of weather and winter break), God really spoke as we began wrapping our Family Matters series. There was a good vibe in our worship gathering today!

The band did their usual great job. Loved the new music today!

SO thankful for our volunteers in our RidgeKidz area! You guys rock! Your faithful ministry week in and week out is much appreciated…and makes a huge difference in the lives of families!

We saw 5 men stand, along with their wives and kids, at the end of our worship gathering and make a commitment to leading their families by making The Resolution, which was featured in the film Courageous. We will be allowing men to make this resolution anytime they feel led by God to do so. We felt that this opportunity needs to be made available just as we do our Family/Child Dedications peiodically through the year. It’s that important! It was also very encouraging to see a bunch of men standing behind these guys who had made that Resolution back in the fall. Pretty pwerful ending to the worship gathering today. What is the Resolution? Check this video out…

Today’ teaching was from Psalm 128 as we talked about “The Result” of walking in the ways of God and in fear of the Lord as a family.

  • When we walk in His will, He provides our needs and we are blessed or happy
  • the next generation will be blessed because of the faithfulness of your family now.

We talked about how we try to play a “quid pro quo” game with God too. Do you know what quid pro quo means? It is something done in exchange for something else. It’s “returning a favor”. We have taken passages like we read in Proverbs in regards to family and used them as quid pro quo with God.  We have misinterpreted them to say that Christian families will experience blessings from God or that He will take things away from us based on what we give Him in exchange for what we expect from Him.  We try to take Proverbs annd make them into promises like some sort of divine guarantee that we can use to manipulate God into doing what we want him to do. That is a dangerous game to play.

Without a doubt, we should look to Scripture for guidance in our homes. God’s Word speaks of family matters in the responsibilities of men (Eph. 5:25–33; 6:4; Col. 3:19, 21; 1 Peter 3:1–6), women (Eph. 5:22–24; Col. 3:18; 1 Peter 3:7), and children (Eph. 6:1–3; Col. 3:20). There are all kinds of examples of positive and negative family stories in the Bible. We should do our very best to follow all the teachings of Scripture. But we should never be deceived into thinking that the future results of our family depends on us.

Here’s The Thing…

The future results of our families depends on God, not you or me. Never take your eyes off of the One who actually holds your family’s future.

If things are going well in your home right now, don’t be fooled into thinking that somehow you have made it that way. Look again: your home is broken beneath the surface because it is full of broken, sinful, fallen people and each of us could fall apart in a moment. So, we should give God the praise and thanks he deserves and pray diligently for His ongoing mercy in the future.

If things are not going well in your home, don’t give up on the hope of deliverance. God loves to show his amazing saving power through people who have nothing left.

1 Corinthians 1:27-29 says,

 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being[d] might boast in the presence of God.

Whatever the condition of your family may be, turn to the One who holds the future in his hands and ask him to honor himself through your family. Not so that you can have stuff or recognition or anything this world offers, but so that the world might see Jesus Christ in your family…God glorified in and through your home…they might see that YES, when you follow the principles and teachings of God’s Word it does work. If that’s the motive of your heart, then God will honor that. That’s why family matters…that’s the results of following Him and doing the hard work of training yourself and your family in godliness. That is where the hope lies.

10
Feb
12

Family Matters…really, we believe that!

At The Ridge, we really mean it when we say that family matters. It matters to God, the church, a nation, and generations to come. That’s why this Sunday, February 12th @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm @ Austin Middle School we will offer our Family Matters Workshop. This is a great opportunity for you to attend a breakout wworkshop that will deal with…well, Family Matters.  There will be a Pizza Dinner for ALL. Cost is $2 per person/$10 max per family. You can’t beat that deal! After dinner with your family, the children and youth will break off into their groups. Students 6th-12th grades will enjoy their Regular Sunday Night activities while Babies/Toddlers & Preschoolers will have Childcare provided and Kindergarten-5th grade kids will have some fun activities provided. Thanks to the good folks from Hope Church for being willing to come in and help with our children so that all of our adults can have a chance to particiapte in the workshops.

While the kids are having fun, adults will have a chance to choose form one of the following Workshops:

Top 10 Components of a Strong Marriage (Led by Bryan & Kari Robertson)

Is your marriage hitting on all 10 components? Come and hear author Bryan Robertson and his wife share about these components and how they can fortify your marriage. Does your marriage need a little motivation to get back on track? Join us as we share fun, practical steps along with God’s truth to a better marriage. We will discuss the most unused word in marriage, timing, money, the 3-letter word, and much more. These truths will energize your marriage and allow it to bring glory and honor to God.

Dating or Courtship?  (Led by Steve & KimWhipple)

Einstein said that the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting the results to be different.” Dr. Tommy Nelson, pastor and author, says that “we in the church want to attract and date the way the world does, but because we are ‘Christians’ we expect the results to be different.” What does the Bible say about dating? Is courtship “old fashioned” and “out of style”? Just how “different” and “set apart” are we supposed to be in this area anyway? What does a biblical model of dating/courtship really look like? Come explore this topic as we discuss some practical ways parents can help their teenagers make wise, biblical choices in regards to relationships.

Who’s on First? (Led by Mike & Mary Pinkerton)

What does baseball and discipleship have in common? Ask yourself, “What do I need to do to get up to bat? Who is on first? How can the game of baseball relate to discipleship within the family?” Join us as we take a look at the importance of discipleship within our families and gain some practical tools to making discipleship a reality in our own homes.

Don’t miss this great opportunity to invest in your family!!

Sign up for the Family Matters Workshop HERE!!

26
Jan
12

Before Sunday…

This Sunday @ The Ridge we are continuing our Family Matters series with “The Reason: Why did God give us us all these kids anyway?”

I have been asked before, “Why did you all have so many kids?” or “Did you all plan to have that many?” Well, the question is something that we have to look at from a different perspective: My wife and I didn’t HAVE them…and neither did any of you…rather God GAVE them to you. So when we have that perspective, there must be a REASON that He gave them to us. So…what IS that reason? Why did God choose to give you those children…whether you have one, two, five, or eight? We will be looking this Sunday at what God’s Word says about The Reason. (by the way…this isn’t going to be one of those “you-should-have-more-children-like-Pastor Steve” messages 🙂 ) I hope you will join us and that you will invite someone to come to Church @ The Ridge with you. If you want to read ahead, read Psalm 127 before Sunday.

In case you’ve missed it, we have a new billboard up on Highway 92 at the intersection of Ridge Road. We were able to get a really good deal on the billboard rental, so we are trying it out for a few months. We have traditionally done a couple of mass mailings throughout the year. When we do that, we usually hit between 5000 and 10000 mailboxes. However, that is a one-time “touch”. With this billboard, the thousands of people that will see it each day and week will be more repetitive…meaning the same people will see it multiple times. So, we thought we’d give it a try. We’ll see how God might use this to draw people to His church. I pray that people who are lost, hurting, seeking, in need of hope and community, will see this and check out The Ridge. Will you pray too? Ridgers, as you pass this billboard pray that God would use it to reach people in our community. By the way, I tried to get my wife to go for having she and I on the billboard, but she declined. 🙂

We also have updated and upgraded our website this week! After way too long (in my opinion) of trying to come up with a better site…and being hamstrung by the cost of it along with the time to make it happen as well as the technical savy…we were able to make an upgrade with our current site host. They offered a better template option upgrade with some much better features…like listening to our messages right from the site rather than having to host them elsewhere…as well as a cleaner, better look that is easier to use. Check it out HERE and let us know what you think! While it may not be everything we want in a website, for now it is much better. We hope to go a different route in the future, but this is a stopgap that works better than what we have had. Thanks to Danny Sloderbeck for working on this upgrade for us!

16
Jan
12

Influence…and a recap of yesterday @ The Ridge

Yesterday @ The Ridge was a great day. Good attendance and some new faces as well as returning guests. We signed up for small groups for this semester. If you missed that opportunity, you can sign up next Sunday or go HERE for more info on this semester’s groups.

Today is Martin Luther King Jr Day. Dr. King was certainly a man of influence. But what influenced him the most? I was listening on the radio today

Martin Luther King Sr with his family (Martin Jr is front row right)

of one recounting of some of the things the younger M. L. King was taught by his father, Martin Luther King, Sr. It was interesting to hear what a great influence he was to his son. The one who would become a “reformer” in the civil rights movement was influenced and inspired most by his father who had changed his name to one of the greatest “reformers” in history. While we rightfully laud the influence that Martin Luther King, Jr. had in our country, it can be easy to overlook the one in his life who, apart from God, influenced his character, his spiritual life, his boldness, his vision. It was his father.

It is said that one day, Martin Sr and his son were driving through Atlanta when they were pulled over by a police officer. When the officer called the elder King “boy”, Martin Sr. is said to have pointed to his son in the seat next to him and told the officer, “This is a boy. I am a man. And until you address me as such I’ll not respond to you.” Now, I cannot corroborate the accuracy of that story, but don’t you think that would have had a great influence on the junior King? That passion, courage and vision that his father showed and instilled into his son would influence him greatly in the years to come. This young man who would become a great influencer, was influenced greatly by his dad.

Fathersdon’t discount the influence you have on your sons & daughters! YOU have a great opportunity and responsibility to invest in your children. It is critical not only for them now, but for generations to come. Don’t take that responsibility lightly! As generation yet to be born is depending on you.

This past Sunday we also continued our Family Matters series by looking at this responsibility in Psalm 78. This is what made me think about Martin Luther King, Sr. today and the influence we as fathers have on the next generation.

This Psalm is a “Maskil” which means it is to be contemplated; it is a psalm to give instruction. When the Israelites heard “Law” the first thing that would have come to their minds was instruction. Instruction from God for their benefit. It was seen as positive instruction, instruction that was by example as well as negative warnings. We just think of Law as the negative. We see here that God has appointed this Law as a testimony and fathers are commanded to teach it to their children so that they may teach it to their children. Now there are three positive results that will come from the study, remembrance, teaching and application of God’s Word…

  • we would put our confidence in God
  • the Law is to teach us is that God is sovereign, so we should be humble and grateful in our thinking toward Him
  • the Law is to move us to obedience…We are to show our gratitude to God for His mercy & grace by keeping His commandments.

The One Negative that the instruction of the Law reveals is in this next verse. (v. 8)

and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.

In other words: “Don’t be THAT guy!”

Don’t be like those in your past…or those in the past (or even current) generations of this nation who were stubborn…putting their confidence in themselves or in the things of the world or in things that they saw others doing …rebellious… willfully choosing to NOT be obedient. Choose your path…choose wisely. Fathers especially, choose wisely and humbly what path you will lead your sons down. Your influence will impact generations to come.

Influence is a great responsibility. And you have it, positive or negative, whether you like it or not. May the influence you have on the next generation, be founded in the Word of God, in the sovereignty and grace of God. May it impact a generation yet to be born…for the glory of God!

09
Jan
12

Yesterday @ The Ridge

What a great day @ The Ridge yesterday! Our Family Matters series kicked off and God spoke powerfully! We started off looking at what God established as the baseline, the priority, for us as parents and parents to be and leaders in the church. We find it in Deuteronomy 6:1-14. The bottom line is that we need to reprioritize as parents and families because the next generation needs us to. We can’t forget. We must diligently pass on the word of God and the commands of God and whatg God has done. If we don’t, we will be like the Israel in Judges 2:10:

And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel.

 And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel.

We need to reprioritize and the next generation needs us to!

I am really excited to see what God does through this important, foundational series. Lots of feedback of how God spoke to individuals. Three people indicated that they were putting their faith in Christ for the first time! DOZENS indicated their desire to recommit and reprioritize themselves and their families to God’s Word and to keeping His commands and diligently passing them on to the next generation. THAT NEVER GETS OLD!!

We also had out new RidgeKidz computerized check in system online. It was a little slow (only one printer was working ), but everyone was patient and we were able to get everyone acclimated to the new system. We’ll get all the bugs worked out and this is going to be a smother and more secure system in the long run. Thanks for all you Ridger parents being patient. 🙂 Thanks to Wendell and his team of volunteers for their diligent work too!

Great attendance yesterday too…and there were lots of regulars out! Several new faces and returning guests.

New Quest Groups are starting this month. If you are a regular attender @ The Ridge, get connected by signing up the next two Sundays. More details to come!

I am really excited about what God is doing @ The Ridge right now! There are some amazing things just around the corner. Hang on Ridgers! God’s about to do some incredible things in our community!

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