21 Days of Prayer | Day 13

by wesley hicks

As part of the 21 days of prayer I have read such amazing blogs that share the heart of people I love very dearly.  I have seen fantastic stories, deep wisdom, and scripture referenced beautifully.  I am truly honored to even get to share on Giving, in this opportunity to write with such an amazing set of people, and for such an amazing audience that we have in our church family.  

As I have thought about the topic, the thing that has weighed heaviest on me has been my experience in life and I honestly don’t know how much scripture I will quote or reference in this blog.  More than anything I want to share from my heart.  I guess, what I am saying is—well, giving matters.

We were poor.  I don’t mean like can’t get the new LeBron’s type of poor.  I mean like government cheese, paycheck to paycheck, praying that God would bless us with bill money kind of poor.  Some of my earliest memories include times my sister and I would share/fight for covers that we were using to cover the floor vent so that the heat would keep us warm in the winter.

I remember our trailer had a hole in the outside, about the size of a softball, and honestly have no idea when it happened to appear.  I remember seeing a mother working multiple jobs so that she could try to give us the things that we as kids wanted.

My mom is a giver.  I remember my unemployed dad, drunk when around, which was so infrequent that I can’t recall one birthday or Christmas in which we were together.  I remember a dad that took from his family- finances, time, structure, and the joy in my mother’s eyes.  I remember as a kid, early on, becoming aware of something about our nature as humans.  Rarely are we ever neutral here, but rather we are bent towards being givers or takers.

You see, there are some of us that are gifted towards being natural givers and it flows well from our hearts.  There are some that, well, we are takers and we seek to see what we can get out of X, Y, and Z.

If I am honest, I share traits of both my mom and my dad.  Early on in adulthood, I was so much like my dad, the taker within me robbed me of so much joy that God had intended for me to delight in.  John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  God gave so I could have life, you could have life, but not just life.  Eternal, overflowing, joy-filled delight kind of life fully satisfied in Him.  As a taker I was completely missing out on His gift, but once I received His Gift it transformed my heart’s desire as a taker and has continually moved my heart towards that of a giver.  I want to give.  I want to give financially even when it is tough.  

I want to give my time, even when I could be doing “cooler” things or it may mean I miss the big game.  You see, giving is what we do, it’s what our Daddy does, and it’s what He wants us to do.  WHY?  Because He is trying to get a G6 and fly spot to spot?  NO. Because HE IS A GIVER.   

Follow me here.  What if it is in our generous, and sacrificial giving we actually receive more?  What if God’s desire is to not only see others blessed by you and me, but also because He wants to see you and me blessed by Him? You see when we give out of a desire to be like our Daddy, a reflection of the Gospel type of giving, not only does it impact those around us but it also hits us deeply.

Here is what I know:  There has never been a moment that I gave like this and went on to regret it.  There has never been a time that I helped someone less fortunate and knew I had chosen differently.  I remember as a child, someone leaving money in our mailbox so that we could pay that months bills and how much I saw it impact my family.  I remember when I was in full taker mode, and having two men give me the best reflection of the Gospel I had ever seen in that they loved a moron like me generously even when I was a foolish taker.

I reflect on those moments, and those truths and I know that I no longer want to be a taker but I want to be like my Friend, my Father, my King.  I want more to be like Him and I want more of Him and I know that the more I give of myself, the more He looks at me and smiles.  I feel it, I experience, I enjoy Him more because I give.  What about you?  What’s your story if you were to write it down?  Are you a giver?  A taker?  Are you being overwhelmed with the delight in your Maker?

“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”

John Wesley

Father,

Thank you for being my friend.  Thank you for giving me so much more than I could ever dream to have deserved.  Please investigate our hearts, search us deeply and break our hearts in the places we hold onto as takers.  Give us your heart.  The heart of a giver.  May we not be captives to our finances, to our stuff, and to ourselves any longer.  May we become givers so that we can be more like You.

In Your Son’s name,

Your friend and son Wesley.

 

21 Days of Prayer | Day 9

by bobby williams

“True friendship calls you out of the darkness of personal privacy into the loving candor of mutual concern. It moves you from being a sealed envelope to being an open letter”- Paul Tripp

Community; you and I, are together, in community with one another. The question however is, are we engaging in the community to which we have been placed.

It’s seldom that I ever look around and realize that I am completely alone. I have a wonderful wife and two beautiful children. As much as possible, we spend our time together. During the day, I often go into local coffee shops to work on sermons, planning, etc. At night, at home, I sit on the couch with my wife. However, even in the midst of all of these “people”, I can sometimes be surrounded but entirely disconnected.

In the middle of working inside Starbucks, I often have my face in a computer with my headphones on. Sometimes at home we are glued to the television or I have my nose in my phone. I’m connected to the world through the internet, but “connectivity does not equate to community.”

So although we are more connected than we have ever been as as a culture, we can also be more alone, even though we are surrounded by people. Thankfully, the gospel propels us, encourages us, and forms a community around us.

Chances are pretty good that you and I are different in a lot of ways. But regardless of how different we may seem in our likes and dislikes, we might have this in common; the gospel that has saved us. It’s in that gospel that we are brought together into a deeply formed community.

And this deeply formed community has not been formed by accident. From before the beginning, God himself has been operating in community. He exists in the community of the Trinity; the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.

So it is because of this already formed community and binding agent of the gospel that we too are called to community. Part of the function of the local church is to help one another form communities to work out the “one anothers” together. It’s not perfect because you and I are not perfect. But it is binding and it’s what you and I are called to be part of.

Father, today we thank you for the community to which you have invited us into. Through you, we have been invited into a community of a people formed, that exist together to honor and glorify you. Give us the courage today to be bold and to step a little deeper into the community you’ve given us. Give us the courage to encourage others to step into that community. Give us the wisdom to speak truth into this community. Give us the heart to feel when others need to be encouraged around us to step deeper into this community.

Father it can be a scary thing to be in community with others when we don’t know what it is that we have in common with them. But remind us that above all, we have you in common. We have each been saved from something and are all being saved to You. Let us hold on to the gospel together, and let it drive us to this community even when we don’t “feel like it”. Encourage us, propel us and lead us to experience what you intended for us in the community of the gospel together. Help us not just go to church, but the be the church, together, “one anothering” each other, daily.

Amen.

21 Days of Prayer | Day 8

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by andrea herrell

I truly believe that God gave me a passion in life, and that passion is children. Nothing brings my heart more joy then being around a child.
Being a Ridge Kids director has been the most fulfilling job I have ever had. I get to spend my time showing little hearts how to love and follow Jesus!!!! In Ridge Kids we have loving, compassionate, hardworking people who love and care for God’s children every Sunday just as I do. They show them how Jesus loves them for who they are, and how he wants to be in their lives forever.
Although being a Ridge Kid’s volunteer is a rewarding job it is not always the easiest. There is a lot of pressure teaching a child about God, especially if that child has never heard of God, or has grown up in a family that does not know Christ. So Ridge Church I ask that today you join me in prayer for our Ridge Kid’s volunteers and more importantly our Ridge Kids.
Heavenly Father, I pray that you show us your vision for our little hearts in Ridge Kids. I pray that your vision is clear to each child and to each volunteer. Be with our volunteers as they spread your word and love to your children. Show us how to put Jesus on their level so that they may come to understand and love you the way you intended them to. I pray they learn early in life that to obey you, God, is the absolute best way for them to obtain true joy.
I pray they find comfort in your ability and power, God, to mold their lives into what they should be. Surround them with family and friends that are of you Lord, and that follow your ways. I pray they always keep their child-like faith in you Lord, for nothing is stronger, and I ask that you give them the knowledge and strength as they grow to live and serve you and only you. Hold them and rescue them from anything that is not of you. Let them find comfort and confidence in you, God, even when hard times are upon them. Keep their little eyes fixed on you, Lord.  Thank you Father for giving Ridge Church the opportunity to teach your children, for there is no greater honor then to love and teach a child your ways. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

21 Days of Prayer | Day 5

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by julie bradford

How do I worship? What is worship? I think before we can answer the how we have to answer the what. Worship is more than what happens on Sunday mornings. Worship goes far beyond the stage. In fact, let’s just clear it up, worship is not just singing songs about Jesus.

Yes, that is a way to worship, but it is not the only way. Worship is an outward expression of what God is doing inside of us. So, worship is dependent on our relationship with God. It’s a lot like when you fall in love with someone. You constantly want to be with that person and that person is constantly on your mind. And because your mind is so wrapped around them, you want to do things to make them happy, as well. The same goes for God, when he comes into our lives he changes us and brings such a joy that it is hard to contain. It is easy as time goes on to forget that joy that he brings, but when we are reading his word, talking and listening to him daily, and obeying what he is telling us to do, we become overwhelmed with him. His grace, peace, hope, love, and joy come rushing through us and all we can do is worship him.

So how do we worship? When you fall in love you will do anything to make them happy. The same goes for Jesus. We worship him by doing what he tells us to do and that makes him happy. We sing to him, we help others, we give our time to serve, we use our talents for his glory, we become disciple makers, and sometimes we just thank him for where he has brought us from.

Our desire for Ridge Church is that we become a worshipping church. A church whose heart and mind are set on God constantly. A church who desires to worship God when we are at church, but more importantly the other 6 days of the week.

Dear God,

Thank you for what you are doing at The Ridge. We come to you and ask you to remind us of where you brought us from. Help us to remember that we were once in darkness, but have been brought back to the light by your saving grace. Renew our passion and desires for you so that we can truly worship you in spirit and in truth. Let our hearts overflow with love for you so much that all we can do is worship you. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to worship you.

We love you!

21 Days of Prayer | Day 4

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By Mindy Wilson

What is a first impression? Why does it matter? How does a firm hand shake, a friendly good morning, or a cup of hot coffee make you feel? My prayer today is that these gestures make you feel loved and welcomed to the Ridge but most importantly loved and welcomed by our God and Savior.

Acknowledgement is the action of expressing or displaying gratitude or appreciation for something.

When Sean and I first began attending the Ridge, I was always surprised to see the same people standing outside of the church opening doors, welcoming us back, and acknowledging our family. At first I felt intimidated and out of place, because we knew people that attended the Ridge but not well enough to strike up conversations by ourselves. However, every Sunday the same people greeted us with acknowledgment. They intentionally asked our names (and remembered them), and as each Sunday passed the same people intentionally created a Godly relationship with my family. Our first impression became more about how our week went than just a good morning. Our first impressions blossomed into Godly relationships and friendships. The Ridge has become a group of people that we “do” life with. I find myself longing for that interaction throughout the week. It feels like you can’t get enough of the acknowledgment of being loved, accepted, and confident to be who you truly are as a person and most importantly in your relationship and daily walk with God.

These first impressions turn into Godly relationships that you rely on to help you with your walk with our Savior. That hot cup of coffee turned into a friendship.

My Prayer today is that everyone who walks through the Ridge doors feels acknowledged, welcomed, and loved by those attending the Ridge, but most importantly acknowledged, welcomed, and loved by our Father and Savior.

Prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father, I pray today for all those that will walk through your doors at the Ridge Church. I pray for those that are far from you. I pray for their hearts. I pray that when they walk up to your doors Lord that they feel loved, welcomed, and truly cared for. I pray for the volunteers that endure the ever changing weather climates from rain to snow to below freezing temperatures or way too hot temperatures. I pray that the volunteers truly know how much their ministry matters and their important role in furthering Your kingdom. I pray Lord that when people see Your volunteers that they see You instead. I pray that You shine through them so that everyone walking through Your doors feel loved, special, missed, cared for, welcome, themselves, and confident in being who they truly are. I hope they know “it’s ok to not be ok”! Lord, I thank you for this ministry and the people that serve. In Your name I pray, Amen.