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… 🙂

The Truth Is…

Last week I was in my devotion & prayer time and I was reading in Ephesians 6. A familiar passage, no doubt. I quickly read through it as I have many times before. Then I felt like the Holy Spirit was telling me to pray through it, so I did. Praying through the armor of God, but I felt like I needed to pray through each piece of the armor. It turned out to be just what I needed that day. It was one of those days that I was kinda down…sort of in a little funk. So, I went back and reaqt verse 14: Stand therefore,  having fastened on the belt of truth, then I stopped and started to just pray back to God the things I knew to be true…about God, from His Word. But I felt like the Holy Spirit was saying, “Write these down.” So I got my prayer journal out and started writing. I don’t normally share what I write in my journal, but I thought I would share this. I wrote the things that I know to be true from God’s Word, about God, about me, about His will. After SIX pages I simply stopped and thanked God for the “belt of truth” from His Word! I was blown away! The more I wrote, the more God brought to my mind.  I came away inspired, revived and renewed to face the day, having immersed myself in the truth and remembering what I know to be true and seeing more clearly the falsehoods of the enemy. Here is just a little of what I wrote as a prayer back to God:

The belt of truth = Truth is…

Your grace is sufficient; salvation is sure, real, paid for; forgiveness is offered and given; You are a God of encouragement; You have overcome the world; I am no longer a slave to sin; your power is made perfect in my weakness; I have access to the throne; You love me unconditionally; You are Jehovah-Jireh; the Holy Spirit dwells in me; I don’t have to be good enough; I am a new creation in Christ; You are preparing a place for me; Your plans are to prosper me and not to harm me; You are sovereign and in control; I have nothing to fear; You are Lord Almighty; there is healing in Your wings; Your Word is a lamp to my feet; I can fully trust You; You have already won the victory!

That was just the first page I wrote that day. What do you know to be true from God’s Word? I’d love to hear your comments.

Take some time this week to do this little exercise. I can promise you God will use His truth to lift you up.

turn 4

This past weekend, for auto racing fans, there were two of the biggest races on the schedule. The Indy 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600. I watched the races off and on throughout the afternoon and evening, but the finish of both these races was what was most intriguing and unexpected.

In the Indy 500 a 23 year old rookie, J.R. Hildebrand was winning the race after a flurry of lead changes toward the end. Coming into turn

JR Hildebrand crashes coming out of turn 4 at Indy

four, the final turn, he had only to pass a slower lapped car then cruise down the straight away to the finish line and take the checkered flag. It was going to be a great story. But…it was not to be. As he passed the slower car coming out of the final turn, Hildebrand’s car got a little high on the track and out of the groove…sending him crashing into the wall! Dan Wheldon passed him and took the victory…while Hildebrand maintained enough control to slide all the way down the wall to the finish line and finish second. A great finish for a rookie, but not what could’ve been. My heart went out for that guy!

In the Coca-Cola 600, which is the longest race on NASCAR’s schedule, a crazy bunch of racing and pit stops and strategies made for an unexpected finish. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had been running well all day. Through a series of strategic calculations on fuel, Jr. decided to gamble on being able to finish

Earnhardt runs out of gas as Harvick passes him in turn 4

the race. he conserved as best he could…even turning off his engine and coasting during a late yellow flag. All this enabled him to be in the lead on the final few laps. He took the white flag with what seemed to be an insurmountable lead and a sure victory…his first in a long time. Then coming into turn 4…just as at Indy…that all changed. He began to slow and it was quickly apparent that he was out of fuel. Momentum would only take him so far. Six cars would pass Jr. before he coasted across the finish line in 7th place. A respectable finish and a decent payday for sure, but not what could’ve been.

So I was thinking about these races this week and several scriptures and principles from God’s word came to mind. Where are you on the track? Are you thinking about the finish at all? For all we know we are all coming into “turn four.” While Harold Camping’s supposed prophecy did not come true on May 21, we don’t know what the future holds, nor do we know when Christ will return (Matthew 24) or when our days will end (Ecclesiastes 9:12a). We can make all the calculations we want on our future, the future of the world, our nation, politics, economic forecasts, and on and on. The bottom line is we are all in “turn four” or at least we should live like we are.

In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Paul says,

24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

And again in Galatians 5:7…

You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?

Jesus warned us to always be ready…live prepared for His return (Matthew 25:1-13). We should live as if we are coming out of “turn four” all the time. Some of us have run well but we are running out of fuel. We are not keeping our lamps full of oil as Jesus illustrated. We aren’t living  our lives filled with and dependent upon and trusting in the Holy Spirit. We may be doing good things…going to church…but we aren’t in a relationship with Jesus. You are coming out of turn four and you are gonna run out because what you are filled with is insufficient to get you to victory. You must put your faith in Jesus…not in religion or spirituality. A relationship with Jesus is the only thing that will get you home. (John 14:6). We need to live everyday walking with Jesus as if it is the last day…as if we are in turn four.

Some of us are walking with the Lord, but we are in danger of crashing because we have gotten out of the groove. We are looking to the finish line but not paying attention to what’s going on right under our wheels. Hildebrand crashed because he got out of the racing groove and got “up into the marbles.” The marbles are the little balls of rubber that accumulate on the outside parts of the track as tires ont he cars wear over the course of the race. When a car “gets in the marbles” it’s like getting on ice. They can quickly lose control…and before they know it they are in the wall. We have to pay attention to the things that are all around us that can trip us up and send us into the wall. As the writer of Hebrews says, “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us” (Hebrew 12:1). The enemy wants nothing more than to see you not finish well. If you are a Christ follower, Satan knows he can’t have you (John 10:28) but he can surely disqualify you and make you less than useful for the Kingdom and the sake of the Gospel in this world. He can get you “out of the groove” and “into the marbles.” We’ve seen it over and over. In the wake of such disasters we see many hurt and disillusioned people…even the ones we love the most wind up damaged. Discipline and concentration are essential coming out of turn four and headed to the finish. That’s where we are as the church. It isn’t about us…it’s about HIM and HIS glory. It’s about the Great Commission and taking the Gospel to the nations…then the finish line comes.

We have to stay focused…concentrating…not letting anything “cut in on us” and distract us from what Christ calls us to. We must stay filled with the Spirit…stay in the narrow groove (Matthew 13:22-30). Turn four is where the race can be won or lost. We can finish strong and well or we can limp across the line…or not make it at all. What is your focus as you come into turn four? Are you running on fumes or full? Are you disciplined and concentrating or distracted by the world? Are you in the groove or not? Finish strong! Finish well!

 1Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and seated at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:1-2

Heroes

I went to the store today to pick up some items for supper tonight. My oldest came home from summer school so the whole family is here! After several hours at a friend’s pool, we were doing the traditional grilling out. It appeared that the whole community is having the same menu, by the appearance of the shelves at Kroger. All the baked beans were gone as were most of the ingredients for homemade ice cream!  As we enjoy our family time and the day off…don’t ever forget what Memorial Day is really about…don’t let your kids forget either. We remember those who made our freedom possible by making the ultimate sacrifice…true American Heroes.

Summer Interns @ The Ridge

We are looking at hiring summer interns at The Ridge. if you know of someone who has at least completed their sophomore yr of college, is called to the ministry, & is looking for some practical ministry experience this summer, let us know by sending resume’s to me at stevew@churchattheridge.com. Click HERE for job description.

There is a weekly stipend as well as housing provided. Some expenses will be provided as well.

Any RIDGERS who might be interested in hosting one of our interns, please let me know.

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…

Are we as leaders really hearing from God?

I was reading in my quiet time this week from Jeremiah 23. It is a very sobering passage for pastors and leaders in the church. I heard Richard Blackaby speak on this passage about a year ago at a Pastor Leadership event. God really spoke hard to me. The message of this prophet was relevant to Israel when he spoke it and, sadly and frighteningly, it is relevant for us today. Jeremiah begins this passage with this statement:

“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD. 2Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them.  Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:1-2 ESV)

If you read that, you see how serious God is about those of us who claim to lead His people. The standard is incredibly high. The consequences are eternal. How many times are we, as leaders really hearing from God? Are we drawing His people TO God and His Word or are we in actuality, maybe uniwittingly, scattering them from Him? It is sobering. It is challenging. If you read the entire chapter, it will cause you to question some things in your heart…it has me. It’s easy to point to the TV evangelists and the “prosperity gospel” hawkers out there or the super mega church guys who seem to be getting rich off the church and others and say, “Yeah, that’s about them.” But is it only? Is it about us…the average pastor or Bible study leader in the average church, the church planter who is just getting started, the missionary, the para-church  leader, the pastor of the highly successful church that is new and growing rapidly…too?

Read this section of Jeremiah 23 starting with verse 16. I’ve quoted it in the New Living Translation because it reads pretty clear. Then ask yourself, “Am I hearing from God? Do I as a church planter have a vision from Him? Am I just taking words from others and saying they are form God? Am I just trying to gather a crowd and tell them that everything is gonna be ok, because God loves you no matter what?”  We need to hear from God. Then we need to faithfully teach and proclaim it.

 16 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says to his people:

   “Do not listen to these prophets when they prophesy to you,
      filling you with futile hopes.
   They are making up everything they say.
      They do not speak for the Lord!
 17 They keep saying to those who despise my word,
      ‘Don’t worry! The Lord says you will have peace!’
   And to those who stubbornly follow their own desires,
      they say, ‘No harm will come your way!’

 18 “Have any of these prophets been in the Lord’s presence
      to hear what he is really saying?
      Has even one of them cared enough to listen?
 19 Look! The Lord’s anger bursts out like a storm,
      a whirlwind that swirls down on the heads of the wicked.
 20 The anger of the Lord will not diminish
      until it has finished all he has planned.
   In the days to come
      you will understand all this very clearly.

 21 “I have not sent these prophets,
      yet they run around claiming to speak for me.
   I have given them no message,
      yet they go on prophesying.
 22 If they had stood before me and listened to me,
      they would have spoken my words,
   and they would have turned my people
      from their evil ways and deeds.
 23 Am I a God who is only close at hand?” says the Lord.
      “No, I am far away at the same time.
 24 Can anyone hide from me in a secret place?
      Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?”
      says the Lord.

 25 “I have heard these prophets say, ‘Listen to the dream I had from God last night.’ And then they proceed to tell lies in my name. 26 How long will this go on? If they are prophets, they are prophets of deceit, inventing everything they say. 27 By telling these false dreams, they are trying to get my people to forget me, just as their ancestors did by worshiping the idols of Baal.

 28 “Let these false prophets tell their dreams,
      but let my true messengers faithfully proclaim my every word.
      There is a difference between straw and grain!
 29 Does not my word burn like fire?”
      says the Lord.
   “Is it not like a mighty hammer
      that smashes a rock to pieces?

 30 “Therefore,” says the Lord, “I am against these prophets who steal messages from each other and claim they are from me. 31 I am against these smooth-tongued prophets who say, ‘This prophecy is from the Lord!’ 32 I am against these false prophets. Their imaginary dreams are flagrant lies that lead my people into sin. I did not send or appoint them, and they have no message at all for my people. I, the Lord have spoken!

Communication…a little funny for all those who are snowed in

Todd Rhoades at Monday Morning Insight blog had this to say about communication in the church…and a pretty funny video to illustrate:

In many churches, communication sucks.

Many times, we thing we’re communicating very well as leaders, but the truth is, most people don’t get what we’re saying.  So… we go about our day and week and then are shocked when people aren’t on board with our plans, our direction, and our future.

It seems that we’re all speaking a different language sometimes.

It’s almost like the encounter Bill Cosby had with this lady:

…very few of us are as good at communicating as we think we are.Actually, the problem is probably two-fold.  We don’t communicate as well as we think we do; and we’re not as good of listeners as we need to be.

Perhaps you’ve also played the role of the woman in the video.  You find yourself in a situation where you just don’t have a clue (even though you should).

The lesson here for the church leader… communicate early and communicate often.  Ask questions to make sure people are following you… don’t just take it for granted.

Assume nothing.

HT:  Teamwork and Leadership Bloggings with Mike Rogers

What are some things that you do to improve communications?  What’s the biggest miscommunication/misunderstanding you’ve had in your leadership recently?

Feel free to share.

Todd

So how is your communication at home, school, work, church? What are you using to communicate with the people in your life. I thought about this recently, just because I use certain ways of communicating, doesn’t mean others use the same ones (i.e. facebook, email, text). That’s why I try to use multiple methods to communicate…but I’m still not the  best at it. I need to do better. What do you do?

a voice from the past, relevant for today’s church leaders…

E.M Bounds was a lawyer, pastor, prisoner of war, Civil War Chaplain, preacher, and writer. He has been called an American prophet on prayer. His books have been called the greatest collection of writings on prayer. He said and wrote many things about prayer and the church, but I recently read this quote that I believe could have been written yesterday, but it was written over a hundred years ago. Amazing how little has changed. Church leaders, church planters, church members read it slowly and let it sink in…

“We are continually striving to create new methods, plans and organizations to advance the church. We are ever working to provide and stimulate growth and efficiency for the gospel. This trend of the day has a tendancy to lose sight of the man. Or else he is lost in the workings of the plan or organization. God’s plan to is to make much of the man, far more of him than of anything else. Men are God’s method. The church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men…What the church needs today is not more or better machinery, not new organizations or more novel methods. She needs men whom the Holy Spirit can use – men of prayer, men mighty in payer. The Holy Spirit does not flow theough methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men – men of prayer!”

This brings to my mind this verse from 2 Chronicles 16:9…

For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.

What would happen in our church if this was true of us? What would happen in our community…nation…the world?! Are we asking God to anoint our PLANS and ORGANIZATIONS or are we asking Him to anoint US and His Bride? If you are planting a church, how will you pray?

2010 in review

2010 has been an interesting year. We have seen God do some exciting things as well as allow some challenges to come before us. There have been opportunities for which we sought God’s wisdom and some yes and no answers from Him. All in all, 2010 has been a good year, because it is another year of serving God and being a part of His mission.

It is amazing how fast these years have gone by since God called us to start The Church @ The Ridge. I can’t believe that it has been 5 years since that first core group meeting in my house. God has used many of you in many ways over these years and it has been a blessing to have you partnering with us in the vision to reach this community and the nations with the Gospel.

I  feel that in many ways 2010 has been a “But God…” year. My good friend Aidan McKenzie taught me many years ago that any time you see the words “But God…” in Scripture, it means that God is about to step in…things are about to change…He’s about to do something only He can do. That is an exciting place to be. However, to get there usually involves us having to go through some tough times. Well, in many ways this past year has been challenging…as it has been for many churches in our nation…especially on a financial level. While it has been tough, God has remained faithful and has kept us afloat by His grace. Sometimes it has felt like just our nose was above water, “But God…” has always come through. 1 Thessalonians 5:24 has been a verse I have kept in the front of my mind this year: 

“He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”

  I must always remember that it is HE who called us and HE is faithful and HE will build HIS church and the gates of Hell (or recession, or anything else) will not prevail against it!  (Matthew 16:18) Thankfully, I don’t have to do it!   

This year God has refocused our attention on revival, and spiritual awakening. I felt the Him leading us to study Experiencing God together in the spring. All of our small groups went through this great study and it had a huge impact on the church. God has begun to reveal Himself in many ways to people and inviting them to join Him in His work in their lives. Exciting to see!

The summer included our annual IMPACT Week, which is a sports camp for kids in the community. This year we had nearly 90 kids involved!

This summer also gave us two community outreach opportunities:

  • Our outreach at the county fireworks show. We handed out hundreds of bottles of water & glo-sticks to hundreds of families.
  • We also participated with over 70 churches in our county for the third year in the Community Makeover. We took the last weekend in July and did ministry projects all over the area. It was awesome to participate with thousands of fellow believers in sharing the love of Christ with our own community in practical ways.

In the previous three summers we have always done a Family Camp. However, this year our school system changed the school calendar in the spring which made us have to cancel our camp. However, God gave us an opportunity to do a Family Conference event instead. We hosted 25 families at the school we rent for a week of worship, fun, teaching for the entire family. Stephen Kendrick, co-writer and producer of the movies Fireproof and Facing The Giants, joined us along with his family and challenged us from God’s word. It was a great week!

This fall we held a Fall Festival in the parking lot of Kroger. It was part of our Pumpkin Patch (see sidebar next page) and over 1000 people came through. We were able to follow up with each one through email, letter, and phone calls. Great outreach & a great community builder for the church too!     

The LORD does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths. – Psalm 135:6

In April, a local bank contacted us and asked if we would be interested in a piece of land they had which had been foreclosed on. While it wasn’t in the exact location we would have chosen, it wasn’t bad. We decided to pray and seek God for wisdom. We prayed about it and did some due diligence on the land through the summer seeking some expert help and  felt the green light to proceed to the next step. After getting a price from
the bank, which was a very good price, we made a formal proposal at their asking price. The
bank then went silent on us for about five weeks. Then they came back and said they couldn’t
sell it to us for that price (which was their price). Our prayer had been that if it would please the Lord to give us some land, we’d like to have a permanent home. This seemed to be  something that came from Him, but in the end, He closed that door. We learned a lot in the process, though. I would as that you pray with us about this. That God would give us a piece of property…if it would please Him!

 This summer a couple in our church was led by God to talk to me and our staff about doing a Pumpkin Patch to raise money for missions in Africa. We had never done this before and weren’t sure how it would go. But… After praying about it, we felt like it was a low risk opportunity to raise a little money for missions.  We had no idea what God was gonna do. One challenge was to get volunteers to staff a Pumpkin Patch for all of October. Well, our people really stepped up and volunteered. It actually became the place to hang out! Sales started off good and before we knew it, we were ordering another shipment! Clean water is the greatest need in Burkina (and all over Africa). Thousands of kids die every day from water borne diseases. All the proceeds from the Patch were to go to dig wells in Burkina Faso. But would it really make much of a difference?

 To our surprise, we sold over $12,000 worth of pumpkins! That gave us a net profit of over $4500! This is enough to drill a well that will provide clean water for over 2000 for 10 years! This well will be dug & a church built next to it, enabling the pastors there to share Living Water with those who are thirsty too. Did pumpkins save lives? You be the judge. Praise God for the vision He gave to one couple and their obedience to listen to Him!

What does 2011 hold? I don’t know…”But God…”      

REMEMBER…
Your year-end, tax deductable gift to God’s vision and work at The Church @ The Ridge would be greatly needed and appreciated. As you consider where you want to invest at the end of this year, please pray and seek God as to His will and consider supporting God’s work here. You can give online HERE. If you do so by midnight December 31, 2010, your contribusion can be deducted on your 2010 taxes.