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 12

By Jari Lapp

Definition of Healing 

a.)To restore to health or soundness “cure”. 

 b.)To ease or relieve emotional stress. 

Often in life, we are thrown some curveballs that majorly upsets our “perceived” harmonious balance of our daily lives. We can get so wrapped up in our “daily grind”, that as long as things are going our way without any “Glitches”…We FOOL ourselves into believing we are Invincible.
Truth of the matter is…We are NOT Invincible. Our lives are NOT our own, nor are we the Authors of our lives. God is Our Creator & he is the Only one with “Blue Print” to Exactly how our lives will “Play Out”. > (Psalm139) (Romans8:9-11) 

A deep rooted Faith & Trust in God is Essential in promoting a “Spiritual Healing! 
                                  (2Corinthians7:10)

In our lives, none of us are exempt from sin & sorrow; nor are we exempt from experiencing one of Life’s inevitable events…Death. Death of a “Loved One” leaves such a gaping wound in our hearts often breaking our “Spirit”. This wound is internal & invisible to the outside world; often resonating some extreme “Raw Emotion” (Grief, Anger, Blame, etc…) stemming from the internal PAIN.
I most definitely do NOT want to make this about me…I would just like to Share what led me to begin a ‘Spiritual Healing” & how Ridge Church has played a Crucial role in the “Healing” process.
I have experienced many untimely deaths of Loved Ones. Never have I felt such a deep disconnect from life…as I did on the 18th of Sept.2014; when the Lord called Home, the one Earthly person who Loved me Truly 100% Unconditionally (which hasn’t always been easy!) >> my Best Friend, & Biggest Supporter, my Beloved Mother.
Never underestimate the Power of Prayer. >> (Matthew21:22) (John14:13-14)
Approximately a year ago, at the unrelentless request & Prayer of my daughter Alyssa Bowlin I entered through the doors of Ridge Church with a shattered “Spirit” & hardened Heart. Truth be told, I really wasn’t expecting to gain Anything other than getting Alyssa off my back.!!  
WOW…What I felt after experiencing a service @ the Ridge Church, was Truly nothing short of “Life-Changing”. (Ephesians5:14-20) 
From the Awesome, AmaZing Band & their Incredible Talent in Leading us All into Worship, > to Pastor Bobby having a Gift of “Unpacking” Scripture, & making it relevant to today’s world, > to the Excitement of my Grandkids eager to Share what they learned about Jesus in “Ridge-Kids”, > to the Warm & Welcoming handshakes, & Hugs of several people in the congregation…I felt the Holy Spirit “Moving & Shaking”. (John14:26-27) (Romans5:5)
In Life, we will all experience Trials & Tribulations…there is Comfort in knowing that @ Ridge Church they will Love You through it. You do Not have to do Life alone…& as they say >> It’s OK to NOT be OK…Keep coming back…It’s Not OK to stay that way. Come as YOU are Truly applies here. I Love that this congregation is Less Flash & More JESUS.
Thank You ALL for Welcoming & Loving Me. I feel as if I have found my way Home. I know that I am a work in Progress…But to quote Mark Twain >> “Continuous Improvement is Better than delayed Perfection.” I am HEALING!!!
(Psalm30:2) (Philippians4:19) (Proverbs4:20-22) (Matthew11:28)

“Prayer”
Dear Heavenly Father, I come before You with a Humbled & Grateful Heart. HEAR my Prayer Oh Lord. >> I ask that You Illuminate the Paths of Each & Everyone of us that Call upon Your Name. 

Father, Only You see the gaping wounds of our Spirit, & Only You know Best the Needs of each of us to begin our own “Spiritual Healing”.

Father, Lead us & Guide us to Seek Your Word & Your Will. > Resonate within us, an Awakening that begins & continues to HEAL our wounded hearts. Allow us to Move Forward with Hope & Jubilation in the knowledge that YOU Father are Our Master & Redeemer. You Will take care of All of our Inequities.
Lord Jesus, Thank You for NEVER Giving up on us. Thank You for richly Blessing us with your Mercy & Grace, & the Promise of Redemption. 
                                    In Jesus’s name I PRAY, AMEN

21 Days Of Prayer | Day 11

By Jeanie Smith

Hi, My name is Jeanie

I struggle with co dependence, low self esteem, & GREIF!!!

November 16, 1995, is a day I will never forget. That day changed my world FOREVER!
I got a call at work saying that my daughters, Judy, 17 & Krystal, 9, was hit by a drunk driver and they were on the way to the hospital. Krystal had bumps & bruises, and glass in her head & leg…..Judy never woke up.
My heart was broken & I was mad at everyone….I was mad at my husband, I was mad at my son, I was mad at myself, I was mad at Jerome Larent, ( the man that killed Judy), but most of all I was mad at God…
I couldn’t understand why he would take my daughter, she had so much life left. How could someone that was suppose to be so good let this happen to me.
I carried this angry & bitterness around for almost 20 years.
Then we found The Ridge Church. Here is where my questions were answered. I learned that God is always there when you are at your lowest & that he will get you through anything as long as you believe. When I realized this it was easy to forgive him.
But Jerome Larent was different, he never admitted he did anything wrong, he never said he was sorry. He had 4 previous DUI’s & still he thought he had the right to be on the road that night. I couldn’t understand how you could forgive someone that killed your child.
Then we started coming to Recovery, thats when I met some of the most important people in my life. I learned so much from them. They told me to try to see him as God does.
So on this day I say I will never forget, but I forgive you Jerome Larent.
A very wise person sent this message to me that said:
I never knew how strong I was until I had to forgive someone who wasn’t sorry, and accept an apology I never received.
Thank you…I love you all..

21 Days of Prayer | Day 10

By Tara Gibson

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”
‭‭James‬ ‭1:5-6‬ ‭NIV‬‬ http://bible.com/111/jas.1.5-6.niv
That verse is very straight forward. No room for doubt. God delights in us when we ask Him to give us wisdom. It’s really that simple too. Just ask and He will give you the wisdom you need, but when you do, don’t doubt!! When you doubt you create confusion. Confusion is not from God.
Wisdom can come in different ways. Some seem to be wise by nature, they just naturally make wise choices. Some gain wisdom by experience. You’ve heard of the school of hard knocks…right? It’s a great teacher of wisdom, but the Bible tells is that we should study to gain wisdom, that doesn’t hurt as bad as learning the hard way.
As believers we should have a desire to gain wisdom, to learn God’s word.
 “My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭2:1-5‬ ‭ESV‬‬ http://bible.com/59/pro.2.1-5.esv

God is so good to us that He has made it very clear and very simple to gain wisdom and knowledge.

Lord,
I thank you for giving us every opportunity to spend time with you and gain wisdom and knowledge from you through our Bible and our relationship with you. This world makes things so complicated at times and I’m thankful that we can turn to you for wisdom on how to handle things that come our way. I pray that we, as a church, seek your wisdom with every decision made, every person that comes through our doors, and every opportunity we have to be a reflection of you. Thank you for loving us the way you do.

Amen

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.