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
http://bible.com/111/luk.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
http://bible.com/111/mat.22.36-39.niv

 

Tara Gibson

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!!

Don’t Make Resolutions…..Instead Set Goals for 2017

By AJ Underwood:

It’s that wonderful time of the year again…the Holidays are over and we can look back on the year that was and remember, but we also look forward to the upcoming year and we make our dreaded New Year’s Resolutions. This year I want to encourage you to do something a little different, instead of making resolutions for 2017 let’s set some goals. Goal setting at the beginning of the year is a great way to start your year off on track, and writing them down somewhere visible will help to keep you accountable.

So, let’s talk about setting goals!! Most people when they set a goal, set what is called an outcome goal such as, “I want to lose 15 pounds” or “I want to get closer to God”. Which are both great goals to set and two that I believe most of us would love to accomplish!! However, the goal focuses on the outcome, which is to lose the weight or get closer to God. Instead when you are setting goals try and focus more on input goals. Don’t say “I want to lose 15 pounds”, instead say “I am going to stop drinking soda”. That allows you to focus on one physical input step that you can take toward reaching the outcome of losing 15 pounds.

I want to share with you 4 Input Goals I have made for myself and in turn share the hoped outcome from accomplishing those goals.

  1. Start my Year, my Week, and my Day with God

I am starting my year with God by making the decision to read through the Bible this year. There are many ways you can go about doing this, just pick it up and read or if you have the YouVersion Bible App there are a number of different reading plans for the whole Bible. Just remember if you are going to read through it make sure you have a specific strategy to achieve the outcome.

I am going to start every week with God by being at the Ridge church on Sunday mornings. Am I the only one that is just missing a bit or a recharge when I don’t go to church on Sunday and worship, hear God’s word, and spend time in that community of people that I love?

Then I want to be sure to start every day with God. What a perfect time to spend with God, then when you first wake up. Take that time to read a devotional, pray, listen to worship music, or whatever your quiet time with the Lord may look like. If you are going to be reading through the Bible in the year this is a great time to read that scripture and pray that God would show you something through it, besides it is just a great positive way to start the day.

When I keep myself to these simple input goals daily, weekly, and over the course of the year it will allow me to grow in my relationship and get closer to God.

“Successful people do consistently what other people do occasionally.” Craig Groeschel

  1. Read a Book a Month

I was recently moving my office in my home to another room and I noticed something odd. I have an entire bookshelf FULL of books that I have never read. Books on leadership, books on Student Ministry, books on faith, books on marriage, and even books on cooking!! After moving a bookshelf worth of unread books, I decided that all that book-weight was just going to waste if I didn’t crack them open and read them. So, I have made the goal of reading one book a month for the next 12 months, and through that input goal I hope to achieve the outcome of being a better follower of Christ, husband, father, leader, and Pastor.

  1. Pray with and for my Spouse daily

I know some of you may be thinking….”uh, duh”, but this is something my wife and I don’t do on a consistent enough basis, other than over a meal. To aid in this goal for Christmas I got us books 31 Prayers for my Wife/Husband, and for the month of January we are going to commit to praying through these books daily. I also want to encourage you to not just pray with, but to pray out loud with your spouse daily and through praying for/with your spouse, you are inviting God to be a part of your marriage and the envisioned outcome is a better marriage.

  1. Once a Week Family Night

 

Our family does our very best to make sure that we eat dinner together at the table (phone free – house rule) every night. Rather, I am more referring to an intentional night together doing an activity. Whether that be a board game, a puzzle, a Nerf battle, watch a movie, or go out and do something together. This will also be a great time to break out the Bible and read and discuss with your kids what you have read. Spending this consistent time with my family will be one of the best steps towards the outcome of my family growing closer together.

 

These are some of the input goals I have made for myself and my family for the year 2017. I challenge you to make some goals for yourself as well, and when doing so be sure that you make realistic goals that focus on the input versus just the outcome. Proverbs 16:9 says; The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Be sure that as you set your goals for 2017 that you always leave room for God to move, because with the combination of realistic input goals and God guiding you’re steps the outcome will be immeasurably better then you could ever plan for anyway. Happy New Year Ridge Church!!

Jesus Is…..Strength

jesus-is-logo-01

By Loni Arwood:

 

Growing up, church wasn’t always a good thing. My grandmother took me with her; she attended 2 different churches in my life. As a teen and young adult I was not very impressed with them for numerous reasons. The Ridge has changed that for me. I have never felt more loved by a group of strangers. I’m smart enough to know how special that is, and that it’s the real thing. The Ridge has taught me that. Because Jesus is love.

John Monday and I have known each other since we were kids. We worked together, I have loved his sister and his parents for 20 years. He was just someone I knew, the familiarity of a childhood friend that you see occasionally as an adult. Yet, once a month or so for the last several years I would get an invite to church. Almost like clockwork. Sometimes I said, ‘Maybe’. I never intended to go. Then he was gone, and I truly regretted that. September of 2015 my life was out of control. I felt as though everything I was doing was wrong. I needed something. My kids needed something. There were no more monthly invites from John, but I heard him just the same. So I went that very first Sunday. Because Jesus is always On Time.

When you lose someone, you replay so many moments through your mind. You remember firsts, you remember lasts. You think of all of the things you didn’t say and of the many times you fell short. I knew this already, unfortunately this was not my first experience with loss. But losing a spouse…the father of my babies…was indescribably terrible. Planning, worrying about all the details. Being numb yet feeling everything amplified to the tenth degree. I never even realized before that how you could be completely shut down, yet hyper aware at the same time. How am I going to do this? How am I supposed to be a mother and a father at the same time? How do I show my babies, all five of them, that I love their father when I am so mad at him? Why would I continue to love him and teach them to love him as his memory  deserves? Because Jesus is Forgiveness.

There are days I cry all day. Especially this time of year. Birthdays, holidays and, right around the corner, an anniversary. There are days I throw things, and break stuff and take one more shower just so I have a place to cry. I cry for myself, I cry for his family that will forever be my family. But mostly I cry for our children. Our five amazing, talented, special children. I hurt for them more than I could ever explain. There are days when I am just going through the motions of life. There are days I don’t want to get out of bed. But I do. I put one foot in front of the other. I rise, and rise again. Because Jesus is Hope.

I will raise my kids with faith. I will encourage them to excel and have integrity. To love and give their hearts to another. I will count my blessings in my darkest moments and praise Him in this storm. Because Jesus is Strength.

Jesus Is…..Shepherd

jesus-is-logo-01

By Jessica Duncan:

We are currently in a series at church called “Jesus is_______”.  We were asked during church to fill in that blank and write it on a card to hang on one of the trees at church.  I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t participate.  As I sat there thinking about that question, at that time, I couldn’t come up with just one word to put there that quickly.   The easier thing to probably have to answer in short is what Jesus is not.

A few days ago, I posted a blog post continuing to share some of my story, and some of the things that God is doing in my life. After posting, I was asked by one of our church leaders to write a post sharing who Jesus was to me and to fill in that blank.  Apparently I was not going to get out of that exercise that easily!  I thought about that question a lot, trying to find the perfect word to put in that blank.  If I had to choose one word other than “everything” (Thanks Wes, you beat everyone to that!), I’m going to borrow King David’s analogy and say that the Jesus is my shepherd.  One of my favorite passages of scripture is Psalm 23. It has helped me through one of the most difficult times in my life.

The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Amen.~ Psalm 23

As many of you know, I lost my husband Brandon a little over a year ago.  After his death, I was lost. I was scared. I was tired. I was confused. Just as a shepherd leads, cares for, protects, and loves his sheep, Jesus has done the same for me.  At a time when I questioned everything and had no idea how life was going to go on, Jesus guided me every step of the way. He loved me. He gave me rest. He gave me hope. He gave me security. He gave me peace.

Sheep tend to wander off and get lost. They are helpless and depend completely on their shepherd for direction.  When I was the most lost and hopeless I have ever been, Jesus lead me to the Ridge Church at a time when I needed it the most. I have shared more detail in my other blog posts, but I was mad and angry and He knew exactly where I needed to be to help me grow closer to Him.  He sent me the people that I needed in my life to help me through the dark times, many of these people who had or were going through the same thing I was going through, giving me the hope I needed for my future without Brandon.  He provided me outlets for healing, growth, and rest . He also proved he was there and calmed my fears. Of course the bible tells you these things, but sometimes it takes being smacked in the face with reality to REALLY help you trust that everything is going to be okay.

After Brandon passed, I was scared.  My anxiety and fear of something happening to me or Avery was paralyzing.  My job requires a lot of driving and traveling, and my worst fear was a car accident. I have actually always feared that Brandon or I one would have a bad car accident because his job as well required a lot of driving. I didn’t think I could go back to work because I was scared to be on the road a lot. Almost 3 months after Brandon passed, this worse fear came true. I was involved in a car accident. A car ran a stop sign and crashed into my passenger side right where Avery’s carseat was and totaled my car. I ended up with a broken hand, sprained knee, and some pain in my chest from the air bag, but overall, I was OKAY. Avery was not with me as I had just dropped her off at the sitter, but had she had been, she would have been OKAY. Her carseat didn’t budge. Her door where the initial impact was barely even had a dent.  WE were OKAY. Jesus was with me. He kept me safe.  He showed me through that accident that there was no need to fear. He was going to be with me.

 

So, that is my best answer that I have to that question. He is my shepherd. He finds me when I wander. He guides me through this very difficult and painful journey of “life”. He cares for me , loves me, and protects me.  He is with me, and doesn’t leave me. He provides the way out of the messes and mistakes that I make in life so that I may have eternal life.