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.

Christmas Eve @ The Ridge! …and beyond…

So, this month I have been terribly derelict in my blogging duties. I will strive to do better in 2012. In the meantime, join us for Christmas Eve @ The Ridge at 5:30pm. We’ll gather at Austin Middle School on Ridge Road for a great time of worship, lots of music, a very important Christmas message, candlelight and even a special time just for the kids. Join us and make this a part of your family’s Christmas Eve tradition! It is the perfect time to invite an unchurched friend or family member to hear the hope of Christmas.

We will not have a gathering on Christmas Day, rather we would invite you to worship with your family at home.

The Church @ The Ridge will gather on January 1st to kick off 2012 with a special family worship gathering. There will be no RidgeKidz that day. I’ll also be sharing some vision for 2012 that I believe is exciting.

We’ll begin a new series called Family Matters on January 8th that you will not want to miss! Make plans to gather @ The Ridge in 2012. I believe God has some great things in store.

Take a second to copy and paste this picture into your email and invite someone to join us Christmas Eve.

Finally, if you are a Ridger and are traveling this next week, or if you simply want to support the work God is doing here, you can take care of all of your year-end giving by giving online HERE or through your bank’s auto bill pay or simply by mailing your offering to
The Church @ The Ridge
P.O. Box 1228
Hiram, GA 30141

Sunday Recap 10-2-11

What a crazy day @ The Ridge! Well, Sunday was special in a lot of ways. There were several highlights:

    • We wrapped up our GodQuest series with a second look at John 14:1-7 . SignPost # 6 says “The Path you follow on your spiritual journey will determine your destination.”
    • Your GodQuest is not just about a decision. Yes. We all must choose what path to follow.  Yes, we must decide if we will follow Jesus, but we make the decision the destination. We think that just because we’ve decided to put our faith in Jesus, we’re good. Got my ticket to heaven punched. “I have decided to follow Jesus.” Then we don’t really follow Him, because we think the decision is the destination. We don’t walk with Him each day, because we are waiting for a day out there somewhere where we’ll be going to heaven.
    • Our GodQuest is about a destination. We want to make the destination about us. We want to make the destination about getting us out of hell. It’s not about us, it’s about GOD. We think that salvation is all about us. It isn’t it’s about God. The destination is to be like Christ and to spend eternity with GOD. Romans 8:29 says that we were pre-destined to be conformed to the likeness of Christ. That was God’s intent from the beginning. You see, heaven is all about a relationship. It is US, undeserving as we are, by His grace and mercy, spending eternity with the Creator and with our Savior. Everything else will pale in comparison.
    • We gave away several “Ridgie” awards to people who have served God @ The Ridge by volunteering their time and talents and gifts. Thanks to Shane & Erin Crider, Kendall Adamson & Kerry Drew for your faithful service to God @ The Ridge! You all have impacted many people for the Kingdom!
    • Sunday evening about 75 Ridgers went to see the new movie Courageous. It was great!

Then there was the only thing that most people are going to remember from yesterday! At the end of our Worship Gathering, I had a couple of announcements, then I said I had one final announcement that I needed some help with. So, I called my two oldest daughters up on stage. My oldest, Aly, was home from college for the weekend. She was thinking I was going to embarrass her in some way. I told her and her sister (who was in on the whole thing) to stand there while I stepped offstage to grab a prop for the announcement. Then her boyfriend Cris (whom she thought was back at school at Toccoa Falls College) came out.

A little background:
Cris had been our summer intern at The Ridge summer before last. He and Aly had been friends at college and she had suggested that we talk to him about possibly working as an intern. So our staff did and we hired Cris for the summer.  It was during that summer that they began to think their relationship might move beyond a good friendship. He asked me about entering into a courtship with Aly. In our family we don’t “date” in the cultural sense. We have taught our kids that courtship is a preparation for marriage, so I spoke with Cris about courtship and he agreed that he would be interested in pursuing a relationship with Aly to see if God would have them to marry one another in the future. Well, that was about 14-15 months ago. They have grown closer together and have felt that God brought them together to be life partners. After meeting with me last week and asking for my permission and blessing, Cris wanted to propose at The Ridge on Sunday, because this is where their courtship began and where they first began to fall in love. I asked if he was sure that he wanted to do that in front of the whole church and he said yes, because that is a special place to both of them.

Well, coordinating this and trying to figure out how to make it happen and keep it a surprise were a little challenging, but we came up with the plan and that’s what brought us to this past Sunday morning. We had asked Aly to come home this weekend because we were trying to get some family pictures done. She had come home thinking that Cris would be back at Toccoa Falls. When Cris walked out, needless to say, Aly was shocked. She had no idea that he had driven down from TFC along with her roomate and his sister and had snuck in the back door and was waiting backstage.

I walked off the stage to “get my prop” for her to hold for this special announcement. Little did she know what that “prop” was! 🙂 That was when Cris asked her to marry him. The whole church was as shocked as she was! We had even surprised Cris by telling him that his parents had snuck in the back of our worship service and were there. He had no idea they were coming. So there was a lot of coordinating and a lot of surprises all around. Both sets of parents came up and we had a prayer of blessing over them before dismissing the gathering. So that’s the story!

I don’t think anyone even remembers anything about the sermon though. 🙂

Jesus Draw Me Ever Nearer

This song has particularly ministered to me the last several months. Keith & Kristyn Getty are very gifted, modern hymn writers. I really love their music, but in particular I love the depth of their songs. Margaret Becker colaborated with Keith on this song and Kristyn brought it beautifully to life. If you are going through a difficult season, some challenges or trials, may this song minister to you as it has to me. You can check out more of their music HERE.

Jesus Draw Me Ever Nearer (May this journey)

Jesus draw me ever nearer
As I labour through the storm.
You have called me to this passage,
and I’ll follow, though I’m worn.

May this journey bring a blessing,
May I rise on wings of faith;
And at the end of my heart’s testing,
With Your likeness let me wake.

Jesus guide me through the tempest;
Keep my spirit staid and sure.
When the midnight meets the morning,
Let me love You even more.

Let the treasures of the trial
Form within me as I go –
And at the end of this long passage,
Let me leave them at Your throne.

May this journey bring a blessing,
May I rise on wings of faith;
And at the end of my heart’s testing,
With Your likeness let me wake.

“Jesus Draw Me Ever Nearer” Music by Keith Getty; Words by Margaret Becker Copyright © 2002 Thankyou Music

Here is a live performance of this song preceded by Kristyn reciting the poem Watches of the Night. Be encouraged! God is working in you so that He may perfect you and use you for His glory! James 1:2-4

Utopia

Today a new movie comes out that is a must see: Seven Days In Utopia. It is based on the best-selling book Golf’s Sacred Journey by David Cook. Men need to see this movie. It is one of those rare Hollywood films that has a positive, biblically principled message. It will also challenge you. For more on Golf’s Sacred Journey check out THIS LINK.  Watch the trailer…

Weekend Recap…Community Makeover ’11…”nice feet!”

This past weekend we participated, along with 110 churches in 6 counties, in the Community Makeover.  Ridgers took on 7 projects in the Ridge Road community. Including two individual’s homes, Austin Middle School, Dugan Elementary School, Ridge Road Community Ballpark, and Kroger.

While the number of Ridgers involved was down from previous years, those who did participate were a huge blessing to people in our community. Thos who participated received a huge blessing in return too! The work done was amazing! The Schools looked awesome as did the homes we worked on. At Kroger, we gave people clean windshields at the Fuel Center and cleaned all the glass in the store, including all the freezer compartments. It was just a practical way we could minister to the community. Below are some pics of a couple of the projects: sod laying at Austin Middle School and repainting at one individual’s home. I’ll publish more pics when I get them.

Thanks to all the people who participated. You have nice feet!

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace,who brings good news of happiness,
who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” (Isaiah 52:7)

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.