Sometimes We Fail One Another

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by tara gibson

Have you ever had those moments that you heard news that was so shocking that you remember every detail about where you were and what you were doing when you heard it?

In 2003 when I was on maternity leave with my first born, very colicky son, I was sitting on my new $20 thrift store couch, that smelled like someone else’s bad habits. I got a phone call from my best soul-mate sister, which was also the wife of one of the pastors of my beloved church. Her words still sting as she said “Troy has been arrested for child molestation”. I was shocked, disturbed, sickened and terrified all at the same time.

Troy was our lead pastor, the founder of our church. The entire time I was asking the typical questions…”Who? When? Where? my mind was reeling back to my childhood when another highly respected, very spiritually gifted man of God was doing the same thing to children that are now scarred up grown-ups with trust issues, low self worth, and a string of bad choices that stem from the innocents that was stolen from them. Many years have passed since then, years that have been served in prison, or for the victims in therapy or in what God only knows what else.

The news that broke this past week in our city about 32 arrested, including 2 church leaders, in connection with human trafficking and prostitution took me right back to these moments. Moments where my church family was devastated. Moments when we all questioned how we didn’t know this was part of his character…this was the man that collectively married us, buried our loved ones, dedicated our babies, baptized us! Did his sinful nature make all of that null and void? Was everything we had learned about Jesus while under his teaching now questionable? How could this happen from such a “good Christian”?

I moved from that state shortly after that. I left that church where I was once so involved that it was part of my identity. I was broken. It took me a very long time to even want to go to church again. When I did I spent years in the background of a giant church where I didn’t want to know anyone, or get close to any of the pastors, because up until this point in my life preachers have been the men that have shattered everything I understood about God’s love and protection.

I was keeping myself “safe”, but in all honesty I isolated myself from the very people that I would need. I didn’t form the relationships that I needed when my life fell apart due to my first husbands addictions, depression and ultimately his death. Because I allowed fear to take over I was completely alone in a giant church full of people.

Now, 13 years later, I have had to overcome the after effects of my lack of faith and fear of man disappointing me. I am a very active part of my church family at Ridge Church. I have learned that we are all flawed and apart from Jesus we are all capable of hurting others. Even as believers we will fail each other.

I also know that sexual sin is alive and thriving in this broken world we live in, Christians are not immune to the draw of sexual desires. I am in no way excusing the actions of anyone! I’m simply stating that God’s word gives us specific instruction on how to guard ourselves from attack of the enemy.

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

http://bible.com/111/eph.6.11.niv

Non-believers will never comprehend that spiritual battle we are in EVERYDAY as Christians. They will never understand that we are probably tempted more than anyone because the enemy knows he can destroy the character of the men and women that are spreading the gospel by luring them into his traps.

So I say this to my friends and family that attend the churches effected by this disgusting crime that was revealed yesterday, stand firm in your faith, stand firm in your trust in God. Don’t let another mans actions draw you away from the community that God has called you into. Pray for discernment, pray for wisdom! Don’t read all the articles that come across and if you do don’t read the comments. If you read the comments, don’t react to them in an un-Godly way that will further damage what non-believers understand about our Jesus!

Let God fight for you!

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.””

‭‭Exodus‬ ‭14:14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

http://bible.com/111/exo.14.14.niv

It is no surprise to God what happened in our community yesterday. Another thing non-believers can’t comprehend. It was NOT His will, but I can promise you He has a plan and His plans are always good.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭NIV‬‬

http://bible.com/111/rom.8.28.niv

Ridge Kids Makes Learning The Gospel Fun

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by ashley rutherford

Ridge Kids means to me that I know my children are being taught the Gospel truth each Sunday. That is first and foremost the most important thing to me about Ridge Kids.

Beyond that, they are being loved on wholeheartedly by the volunteers. And a big bonus for the children? Ridge Kids makes learning the Gospel FUN!

My 3 girls always love going downstairs to learn and play. They love the lessons and the people they are surrounded with.

I am thankful for all of the volunteers who teach and love these children every Sunday…I am thankful for Ridge Kids ministry!

You Can Make A Difference

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by rob purdie

A common struggle for all people working and volunteering in various ministries is the challenge of being able to see or understand the impact of our efforts. It can be a source of frustration to wonder if what we’ve done has made a difference.

We were blessed, however, to see the results of impactful children’s ministry in our own children over the course 20+ years.

Our experience in a denominational church was a struggle for us both. But we saw to it that the classes that our own children were in were always staffed with loving, knowledgeable teachers (even if it often meant that one of us was teaching, as it did).

In another church, we saw a vibrant and caring children’s and youth ministry. We became part of the children’s ministry team as our own kids grew to love the youth group and teen ministries. We were grateful for the energetic and caring leadership of the programs.

Still, as a 4-5 year old teacher, I often wondered if my efforts on any given Sunday were really “taking root.”

We eventually left that church due to some rather unpleasant circumstances. It took me a long time even want to be in fellowship again. Then, after God (and Susan) convinced me to start looking for a church home once more, we couldn’t seem to find the right fit.

In this time, all three of our children began serving God in strong, impactful ministries. Laura is our middle child. For years, she had been called to children’s ministry in Haiti. When she saw the devastation of the 2010 earthquake there, within a week she had arranged transportation and a ministry to serve with there.

A few years later, our oldest, Megan, and her husband, Shane, began serving with a group called Youth With A Mission (YWAM). They travelled to Thailand and Vietnam as missionaries. When they returned, they joined the staff of YWAM San Francisco, where they still serve today.

Our youngest, Robbie, also did discipleship training with YWAM. He served in Mediterranean Europe, helping Middle Eastern refugees getting off boats and in refugee camps. After his return, he struggled with God’s call on his life. But now, he too serves as a missionary technician with CROWN Ministries, a branch of YWAM located at the University of Nations in Kona, Hawaii.

All of this certainly reaffirmed that we had made a lot of the choices God was steering us toward. And it all would have been confirmation enough for us.

But God had more . . .

After our negative experience, and many months, we found a wonderful church that Susan loved. And they managed to corral me by having an anointed Bible senior pastor, a fantastically blessed worship leader and a youth and kids ministry team that didn’t know the word “quit.”

Soon, we were part of that “no quit” team.

One day, not very long after we had become youth volunteers, we saw a young girl come in to the youth group of our new church home. While she looked familiar, I couldn’t quite place where I had seen her before.

After speaking to her and her family, we discovered she had been one of our 4-5 year olds at our previous church many years ago. Now a teenager, her fond memories of our earlier class were a reason she and her family would ultimately choose to join us at our new church.

People say that Jesus doesn’t have favorites. I disagree. “At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.”    – Jesus Christ, Matthew 18:1-5.

Most parents know that young people can be challenging. But every parent knows what a great reward it is to know that a child’s life is better, more joyful, because you’re a part of it. And we all can be.

Kids Ministry Myths

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By Bobby Williams

One of the questions I often get as a pastor when people are deciding to attend the Ridge is, “What do you have for my kids?”

It’s a good question and one I appreciate. It tells me they care enough to ask.

But as often as I get that question, almost as often, I find people who just simply know very little about our Ridge Kids ministry (some are even parents!).

So I thought I would take a moment to talk about a few common myths about Kids ministry & what really goes on in Ridge Kids.

Myth #1- Ridge Kids is Sunday School

I don’t what kind of Sunday school classes you went to as a kid, but for me it was rather boring.

We sat in a dull painted, cold room with a teacher who had *maybe prepared 5 minutes before we walked in.

Plus think about the language used; teacher, lesson, school…another day of school????

At Ridge Kids, we don’t do Sunday school, we do a kids experience. It is designed to be FUN & engaging for children & centered on the gospel. Oh did I mention fun? YES! They intentionally are having fun!

Myth #2- We send kids downstairs so the adults can worship

Wrong.

In fact we encourage older children to attend a worship service on occasion. We love it when kids & parents can worship together.

We don’t baby sit kids so the adults can go to church. We engage children in an environment built with them in mind so they too can experience Jesus in the same relevant ways adults are.

Myth #3- Anyone can work with kids

I mean really, how hard can it be?

It’s not that it’s hard, but it does require a different kind of person. Someone who loves kids is a great place to start. A Ridge Kids volunteer needs to be a person who takes seriously teaching children about Jesus.

Also, they need to be safe. We take the safety our kids very seriously & this is why “just anyone” can not volunteer in that area.

Myth #4- Adult ministry is more important

Show me a church that values adult ministry over kids or student ministries & I will show you a church that will get old & die.

Truth is, they are equally important. And if anything, kids & student ministries near more of an emphasis & attention.

Did you know that a majority of people give their life to Christ before the age of 16? The older a person gets, the chances decrease.

So YES- it’s very important.

Myth #5- Kids are the church of tomorrow

No, kids are the church of NOW.

Kids & students are just as much part of the church as adults. By saying they are the church of tomorrow, we’re saying they are not important now but will be later.

If we don’t make it important now, there will be later.

The God That Grieves With Us

  
By Wesley Hicks
Jesus wept. (John 11:35)

The shortest verse in the Bible, yet to me I have found it to have some of the deepest meaning in my life.  

Can I just say that grief and loss sucks? I guess I just did, but can we all agree that none of us wake up this morning hoping to experience grief? 

 The unavoidable fact, however, is that each one of us will at some point or another experience the loss of a loved one. Whether it be a close friend, grandparent, spouse, or child each time we experience loss the sting seemingly wounds our very souls. This is a basic human truth, but what we sometimes miss is how much God also hurts with us and for us.

​Let me start with some of my most painful moments of grief so that what I am saying may become more clearly understood. In 2012 my wife and I were pregnant with our first child, Farrah Adin, and on December 26th of that year we discovered that we lost our daughter a little over half-way through the pregnancy. Needless to say, we were devastated. Even in writing this, I find old wounds resurfacing and my heart breaks at the loss of our daughter.

 After having an amazing daughter a couple of years later, we became pregnant for a third time. This time, twins, but on December 31, 2015, during a routine doctor’s visit, my wife found out that one of our twins had passed away. That was a phone call that I will never forget. My heart had been ripped open yet again to re-live the pain from losing Farrah, and at the same time, the additional devastation of losing one of our sons. To say that I was troubled would be the understatement of a lifetime.

 Loss…….well, loss hits us in some of the deepest and most devastating ways that is humanely possible. Why?

You see, it is in this question of why that oddly enough I began to feel the most peace that I can ever recall experiencing in my entire life to this point. It is the question, “why do these things happen,” that may be a blog for another day, but the question of “why does this hurt so badly.” It was with this question that God met me where I hurt, and John 11:35 spoke into me some of the most life changing truths that I think I have ever received with the only exceptions being the Word as it led me to salvation in Jesus.

The truth is, that it hurts so deeply and intensely because we were never designed to experience it in the first place. It was here that I saw Jesus so deeply troubled with the loss of a friend and the grief of Lazarus’ loved ones that I was reminded that our broken existence also breaks God’s heart. 

 Think about this, you and I were designed at creation to experience life everlasting in communion with each other and open communion with the God of all the universe. Because of sin, that design was transformed into a broken shell of what God created us to experience. The impacts of sin are more than just loss and grief, but it definitely has brought us to a place to specifically experience each of those severely. Now, since we can see that the original design was not for us to encounter death or loss, but to fully experience abundant life with God and with others. We were made for more and when we experience loss it triggers grief as a natural result and can be a reminder of our design to experience more. This is not lost on God.

Jesus Wept. 

 You see all of this is something that deeply impacts God. That statement reminded me of how much He hates what has happened to cause us to experience this broken existence. He hates it so much that it grieves Him, and ultimately so much that He took on flesh so that He could take on death to redeem the brokenness and restore the original design for His children. You see God sees us in our grief and He shares in our pain. I think not only does He share it, but I honestly think it breaks His heart more than it ever hits us. 

When we experience loss, God sees it as a loving Father. Imagine your child, broken and in heart wrenching pain. Can you feel your heart burdened by just that image? That is a dim reflection of the compassion God has for His children as we experience brokenness. He grieves with us and has paid unlimited cost to resolve what causes us to experience it with the currency of His own Son.

Loss hurts, but I have peace in it all. I have peace because my pain is not lost on God, and because He grieves with me and deeper than I can even begin to imagine. I have peace because in it all, He has already paid the price to make new what was broken. I have peace because the one that is in control of the life that experience pain is also the one that grieves the most because of it. I can trust a God that is there through it all, and has never once waivered in His deep love for me. 

 It’s odd; I have never hurt so much as I have in the last few years, and at the same time I can honestly say I have never trusted God more nor had more peace that I do today. 

 Jesus Wept. It’s funny how two words can change everything so much. My hope is that those two words and understanding why will help you to trust Him more than ever before. It does not always take the pain away, but you will never be alone in the middle of it.