January 28 Devotional

A word on being a Godly leader

Ever feel like you can take on the world, then once you do you realize it’s not as rewarding as you imagined? Our society teaches us to be cut throat and rise to the top regardless of who you have to step on to get there. Then they portray this as  characteristics of a good leader. The Bible has other things to say about that. The Bible talks about God using foolish or uneducated people to lead things. He will take our experiences over our credentials any day. He is much more interested in spending time with us  than us being in charge of something and taking on too many tasks.

“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”

Acts 4:13 NIV

God also teaches us to be content with what we have. Sometimes in our striving to be the biggest, baddest, fastest and strongest we become discontent and unfulfilled. Instead He wants us to be reliant completely on Him, then our ability to lead comes from an over flow of our love and reliance on Him, rather than our own abilities.

“For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Matthew 6:32-33 NIV

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

Philippians 4:11-13 NIV

We have a clear mapped out instruction in 1 Peter as to how we should lead what God has entrusted us with. This can be our family, our jobs, the children we teach in Ridge Kids, the people we lead in ministry.  There is a time and place for everything, and if we take the time to know His word and follow His instruction He will give us a fulfilled life, not free of stress, or pain, but one that are certain and confident that we are serving others out of our love for Him and not out of any selfish gain which will return void.

“To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christʼs sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of Godʼs flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under Godʼs mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

1 Peter 5:1-11 NIV

Tara Gibson

January 20 Devotional

Luke 10:38-42, Matthew 22:36-39

“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lordʼs feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, donʼt you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.””
Luke 10:38-42 NIV

There are so many things in our lives today that distract us from what’s important. This passage tells a story of two sisters, one that is task driven and one that is relationally driven.
Martha, the task driven sister was honorable in her preparations, after all, who wouldn’t want their house to look nice and the meal they are preparing to be scrumptious? It takes a lot to make sure everything is on point.  The problem with that is when your main focus is on your presentation and not the one your serving, you’re missing out on so much.
Mary was relationally driven, she wanted to spend as much time with Jesus as possible.  The home preparations were “good enough”. As soon as Jesus got there her attention shifted completely to Him.  Jesus says this is the way it should be.  He didn’t go there to inspect her home, or to critique the meal that was prepared. He went there to love them and spend time with them. Jesus would rather have the quality time with us than to walk into a perfectly prepared home.
It is the same with the people in our lives.  God designed us to be relational, His greatest desires and command is that we love Him and we love others. If we are too busy making sure everything is perfect, or worrying about every little thing  there is little time left to spend with the people in our lives.

““Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Matthew 22:36-39 NIV


Tara Gibson

January 9 Devotional

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do
not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
John 14:27
I can remember being afraid since I was a little girl. I was afraid of the dark, loud noises, and big
dogs. I once ran so erratically from a German Shepherd that I managed to slip down the hill on
our street, cutting my forehead open and having to get stitches. I was terrified of Darth Vader
when I saw Star Wars for the first time. I had nightmares afterwards, waking up unable to
breathe after getting swooped up in his black cloak in my dreams. I was always shy and timid in
school, and I didn’t really have any friends because I was afraid to talk to people.
I still struggle a lot with fear. Often, I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to
sleep, and the panic feels like a dark thing sitting on my chest, pressing down until I can’t
breathe. During these times, it’s all I can do to pray, but I can’t really do anything else at 3 a.m.
So I lie there, trying to think of something to say to God, some way to ask for His help, and bits
and pieces of scriptures illuminate like light bulbs my mind:
“Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day.”
(Psalm 91:5)
“The Lord is my keeper: the Lord is the shade on my right hand.”
(Psalm 121:5)
“Fear not, fear not, fear not…”
(Isaiah 41:10, Luke 2:10, and, according to Rick Warren, 365 places in the
I keep repeating these verses like a mantra, until I can breathe again.
Jesus said that He left us with peace. If you look around the world or even your own
neighborhood, it’s hard to see that peace, and it’s easy to be afraid. Hardly a day goes by that I
don’t see a Facebook status about a sickness, a death, an accident, a job loss, a war, another
political battle. It feels never-ending. Yet in John 14:27, Jesus assured us that His legacy is
peace, and He says that it’s unlike anything the world has ever given us before.
What has the world given me? I have blessings: a great husband, awesome kids, a terrific
church, a good job. But I think that, while these gifts exist in this world, they’re not of it. James
1:17 says that “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of
heavenly lights.” God gave me these blessings. The world’s gift to me has been fear, because
who knows what could happen in an instant on this planet?
But this fear is not the gift that Jesus gives. He says He doesn’t give as the world does, so the
peace He gives is nothing like what we’ve received from life on this planet. Life on Earth
conditions us to be afraid of what we’re going to get—the things that chase us or envelop us
around every turn, each and every long and endless night—but that’s not His legacy to us.
That’s not the gift He’s offering. It’s peace.
What does this peace entail? There are lots of things that I want it to be: the monsters to be
vanquished, the wars to end, death to be overcome. And He promises all that, too. But right
now, I live in a world that is marked by uncertainty and instability. Yes, that knowledge at times
threatens to suffocate me. But in the middle of the fear, there He is, saying what He gives is so
much more. It’s peace, perfect peace, that He promises to keep us in.
I don’t know what the next day will bring when I’m awake in the middle of the night, but I do
know that all I have to do is whisper His name and He is there. He promises us, over and over
and over, that I don’t have to be afraid, that He’s got me, that “in peace I can lie down and sleep,
for He alone, makes me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8). And in those moments, that gift is more
than enough.

January 5 Matthew 6:9-13

Matthew 6:9-13King James Version (KJV)

9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

This prayer has a special meaning for me. I had sat under an amazing pastor who introduced me to Jesus. It was after my sister had taken her life and I was at my lowest point in my life. He showed me who Jesus really was, not religion or Christianity, but really introduced me to Jesus.  Fast forward to 2015 when (after searching for a church literally for years and finding unkind people, backbiting, and frankly uncaring souls) we walked in to The Ridge. First, I knew so many people from there who had always been kind to me in daily life. That was a plus!  Everyone I met was so kind. They were happy to see us, they reached out to us on Sunday and throughout the week. They embraced my boys, even when they were noisy.

On January 5, 2016 I was sitting at my desk at The Arc and got a call from Loni, my daughter-in-law. She said that I needed to come to her house right away because Branden had “done something.” I asked if he was dead and she said, “Just come.” I remember telling another lady in my building that I had to go and I feared that my son was dead, but I don’t remember walking there or back nor locking my office. I talked to 2 different people on my way to Branden’s house. They kept me on the line until I arrived in the driveway. I saw the ambulance coming from there and asked if they had my son. He replied that they had nobody inside. I knew then that my son was gone. Now, I want to go back to October when we first came to The Ridge. I cannot tell you how thankful I am that our lives were lead by the Lord between October and January. People reached out to us and He put things in place that I needed to just survive this devastation.

Now, that day, I remember (in slow motion) pulling into the driveway and seeing the love of my life bending over from the waist and screaming. There were police officers guarding the camper and talking to the many family members that had already arrived. Family continued to come and hug me. I was numb and had no idea what to do or where to turn. Jerry said,”Don’t go to the dark place like you did with Pam (my sister) because I will not be able to save you this time.” I knew I had to lean on others to make it through this. My sons and daughter had lost their brother, Jerry had lost his son, Loni had lost her husband, and my grand babies had lost their daddy.

The coroner’s van came to take Branden away. Nothing would ever be the same again. I would see his smile only in photographs and in his children.

I wanted  to be there when they took him away. The clergy from the sheriff’s department stood with us and asked what he could do. I said help me say the Lord’s prayer. We called Bobby and he came. I hardly knew him, but he came.

I could hardly move or think from being numb with shock, but I asked him to help me say the Lord’s prayer because I knew that it covered everything. I screamed it to God as they took Branden out of the camper and slid him into the back of the van. It was that simple physically to do their job. For me it was shutting a door on my favorite chapter of my life, when I became a mom and we became a family.  I knew that this prayer would cover all of our needs.  It was the only thing I could think of to pray.

There was praise to The Father who would be receiving my son; Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

There was perspective to ask for His will to be done;

10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

There was a plea for provision as we all missed work and traveled to say our final goodbyes:

11 Give us this day our daily bread.

There was a plea for forgiveness (Branden and ourselves):

12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

There was a plea for covering all my family from slipping back into complacency and worldly “comforts”;

13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:

And then there was trust, praise and a reminder that He had this under control before it even played out;

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.


I know that God led me to the Ridge. I love you all. When I think of the time and words and hugs that you all have shared…it is why I was able to survive this year. I want to time to pass so that it doesn’t hurt so bad-people tell me time is all that changes it. But on the other hand I do not want time to pass. I worry that I will forget his smile and his humor and that his children will not know the good that he did and the real man he was.


Hope is what I have and I am so thankful.


Hard typing through tears.

Anyway, I am going to get my kiddos up and head for The Ridge, where I will be accepted, loved on and embraced by the loving hands of Jesus. And I thank you. AMEN




Most Viewed Blog Posts from 2016

By AJ Underwood:

Hello all Ridge Church Blog readers!! We wanted to send a quick thank you to everyone who has followed and read the Ridge Church Blog over the last year. We also want to give a big thank you to all of those that contributed to the blog over the past year. In the upcoming year we hope to continue to give you great content that not only informs you about the happenings at the Ridge Church, but can be used to enrich your lives and grow your faith.

As we close out 2016 we wanted to share with you some of the most viewed writing from the last year. Maybe you didn’t catch them the first time around or possibly you did and just want to revisit them or know someone that could use those words in their life today.

How Do You Move On?

Behind The Song: No Longer Slaves

21 Days of Prayer | Day 1

A Weekend In Orlando

The God That Grieves With Us

What Does Ridge Kids Mean To Me?

Jesus Is…..Strength

Thank you again to all of those that wrote a post for us in 2016 and if you are interested in writing something in 2017 please email to aj@ridgechurchonline.com!!

See ya in 2017 Ridge Church…..Happy New Year!!