Sunday we kicked off the message series titled Prodigal. If you’re on top of things, that’s a message series on the Prodigal Son from Luke 15. We’ll spend the next 3 weeks talking about a few different things in this passage.
Sunday was Mother’s Day and it was a great day to celebrate homecomings. Here’s a few highlights from the message. Be sure to listen to the entire message on our website. If you’re on Twitter, be sure to follow @theridgechurch. The message notes are tweeted each Sunday
- The Prodigal Son is a parable Jesus told as a response to Pharisees that questioned why Jesus cared so much about sinners and tax collectors, or those far from God
- The son set off and lived recklessly. But it’s not like he meant to ruin his life. One bad decision, led to another and so on. He drifted
- “Sin takes you further than you want to go, keeps you longer than you want to stay, costs you more than you want to pay”
- The son woke up and “came to his senses” meaning that he began to repent
- Wake up! You don’t have to eat with pigs! You’re better than that
- 3 elements of repentance – Wake up, realize how deeply you’ve offended God, come home
- The heart of the Father is surprising- no one listening to Jesus would have expected this response
- The Father ran to his son, embraced him and took him back and restored him to his previous place. This is just like our heavenly Father
- Chris Hill’s story, Prodigal Me
- God doesn’t just forgive you, He restores you
- No matter how far you’ve been, no matter where you’ve been, and no matter how long you’ve been gone, you can still come home
I spent last evening with a group of people that are just starting to get to know each other. As we shared about our plans, our struggles, our victories and our fears, it became evident that the group had much in common. But the greatest thing they have in common is this – they’ve committed to doing life together. That’s what LifeGroups are about at the Ridge.
A LifeGroup is a group of 8-12 people who are simply committed to one another. They agree to meet together on a regular basis, to encourage one another, to look into God’s Word together, to pray for each other, and to support one another throughout the week. As I told the group last night, you probably shouldn’t count on a pastor to help with a flat tire, to bring you a meal when you’re sick or to watch your kids when you get in a bind.
But you should be able to count on your LifeGroup.
Some people believe…
Church is a place for people who have their lives together…
Church is something that you should go to…
Church is a place where you have to pretend to be something that you’re not…
Church is something you do for a couple of hours on Sunday morning and My faith is between me and God…
At the Ridge, we believe…
We’re all messed up, so there’s plenty of room for you, too…
Church is a group of people following Jesus together and serving him together…
Church is a place where you can be honest and people love you anyway…
Church is a group of people that provide support and resources for the mission you’ve been called to every day…
Life is better when lived in community with other believers…
Our network of LifeGroups is something relatively new to the Ridge, but they are very important. And as the Ridge continues to grow, they’ll become even more important. They will be the place where you find friends, support, encouragement and ministry opportunities, and they’ll be the place where the next generation of leaders is discovered, trained and engaged. Two groups have already started this year and we have another
getting ready to launch in June.
I forgot to mention there was one more thing that this particular group of people had in common – they’ve all been at the Ridge for less than 6 months. That’s pretty cool.
Jonathan Haskell is the Connections Pastor at Ridge Church and member of the Lead Team
Are you a mom? Know a mom? Have a mom that is still with you or close by? Bring them to Ridge Church Sunday!
We’re pulling out all the stops for our moms this Sunday at Ridge Church. Not only are we starting a brand new series called Prodigal this week, but we’ll also have a special gift for all the moms out there. And I promise, it’s much better than a rose and a poem or a membership to the Jelly of the Month club.
But wait! That’s not all! For everyone Sunday, we’ll have a professional photographer on hand snapping family photos in the photo booth. And you’ll get your photo FREE! So if it’s been awhile since you’ve had a high quality photo snapped of you and the family, put a smile on and jump in the photo booth this Sunday.
Don’t miss this week!
Sunday we concluded our Oh Snap series with arguably one of the hottest topics in our culture currently, Jesus and homosexuality. More specifically, what Jesus had to say about it and how we should respond. If you missed Sunday’s message, I highly encourage you to listen to it. If you think you know how all Christians believe and think about homosexuality, then I also encourage you to listen as well. (link to follow)
- The Oh Snap series was one of my all time favorite series we have ever done at Ridge Church
- The level of excitement for this series for each week was off the chart
- The bible paints a very clear picture of what Christ followers should believe about not only homosexuality, but ALL sin (Romans 1:21-34 & 1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
- We can not and should NOT elevate homosexuality over any other sins. Unfortunately, we have done just that. It’s almost like it’s the unforgivable sin. But according to 1 Corinthians 6- it is not that sin.
- God does not hate homosexuals or just homosexuality- no God hates ALL sin, including being lazy, lust, or that extra piece of cake I had when I should have passed
- Jesus created tension and contrast by showing us how He loved and responded to sinners
- Read stories about the Samaritan woman, the Rich Young Ruler, and the woman caught in adultery
- John 1: 14-18 was our main scripture for the day
- Jesus was full of both grace and truth. 100% of both- not one or the other
- If you want to see how Jesus loved, watch what he did
- Church we are to be dispensers of both grace and truth – not just one of the two – especially when it comes to homosexuality
- To speak only truth drains the cross of its grace and to speak only grace drains the cross of its power
- With those that struggle with homosexuality or with any sin, lead with grace with a helping of truth and another side of grace.
- Romans 15:7 says that we should accept one another the way that Christ has accepted us- that doesn’t mean we turn our heads to sin- no we call sin, sin, love the sinner and extend grace
If you would like to listen to the message or download it to listen to later, here’s your link.
Life has been a roller coaster lately for me. For whatever reason, I’ve been dealing with relationship-related stuff a lot the past month either due to remanents of wounds from my divorce a few years ago or the emotional vacuum of loneliness that comes with being single. I posted something to Twitter recently that God was speaking very loudly and clearly to me in response to all of this: “If there are holes in your heart or chinks in your armor, fill them with praise to the Lord.” Immediately after posting this, a familiar hymn filled the air:
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation
O my soul, praise him, for He is thy health and salvation
This experience reminds me of the importance of praise and practicing the discipline of it. Sure, it feels good and might even be easier to praise God when things are good. We’re filled with joy and excitement because we are grateful for what He has done in our lives. Or maybe we’re filled with complacency and are going through the motions with life not really being good or bad. Either way, practicing the discipline of praise strengthens our souls for the valleys that are destined to come our way. It’s in the valleys that our core is tested the most.
Think of it in terms of playing a sport. Top athletes practice a lot because they know their bodies and skills need refinement and strengthening for the moments in a game when fatigue sets in. It’s when they are worn out and feel like giving up that their training kicks in. Relying on their training in these low points allows the athlete to press on. Additionally, the mental toughness gained from hours of practice and game time builds so that the pressure moments do not shake them because they know to return to their core for strength.
What is your core? Or, more importantly, WHO is your core? Are you? Is God? Biblical worship is laying ourselves down before a holy God, acknowledging that He is the One in control and not us. As we practice this discipline in the good and mediocre times, we train our souls to return to this place during hard times. We celebrate, make a joyful noise, clap our hands, sing loud, raise our hands…all of these are expressions of the greater work that is going on inside us as God transforms us into His image. Praise and worship comes from the overflow of a joyful, thankful heart, but it can fill an empty, broken one as well.
Kevin Bradford serves as a worship leader at Ridge Church
Some people that attend Ridge Church come in ready. They’re ready because they know what’s coming, as in what the message will be about that week. It’s not powerful knowledge, but it is kinda cool. You can know too.
Each week we send out an update via email, usually on Fridays, that will give announcements, what’s coming for the week, a preview of the next series, and all kinds of other great bits of information.
If you would like to get on “the list”, go ahead and sign up today, right now, while you read this. You’ll be glad you did.
Sunday we tackled the difficult topic of marriage/re-marriage and divorce in our sermon series, titled Oh Snap! Here are a few highlights of the day and the message
- Every week I’m blown away by how our band brings the people into worship and how they flawlessly set up the message each week. We have always been blessed with talented people in our band, and this group is no different. AND- they get better every week
- This week they used a Zac Brown Band song called Goodbye in Her Eyes to set up the message. Perfect
- The topic was a difficult one because the truth of the Gospel on this topic is pretty tough. But I think we approached it with grace and people grew from it
- Our scripture was Matthew 5:31-32 and Matthew 19: 3-10
- There are times Jesus speaks metaphorically. This was not one of those times.
- Jesus spoke about the topics that were relevant to the people at that time- and in relevant terms
- How can someone who is divorced be committing adultery if adultery is what we understand it is? Jesus is saying there is something about marriage that maybe we have forgotten, missed, or just don’t understand
- The Pharisees when confronting Jesus wanted to to know, that even though God made 2 become 1, when can 1 become 2 again?
- Jesus’ answer was simple- what has been oned can not be un-oned (Andy Stanley)
- This is problematic for some who have been divorced.
- We may recognize the divorce, but it’s possible that God does not. Oh Snap
- We may think it has been un-oned but God says that you can not un-one what has been oned. #OhSnap!
- The bible is NOT picking on divorced people- the same Jesus that said these also said that he did not come into the world to condemn the world but to save the world
- There is GRACE
- Here’s what we do- Embrace – Confess – Ask
- Embrace the truth of the scripture, regardless of any objections you may have
- Confess any/all sin, especially sin that this may expose
- Ask for marriage grace- Marriage grace will fill the gap
Happy birthday Ridge Church!!!! This past Sunday we celebrated 4 years of doing ministry as Ridge Church in Oak Ridge. It was an awesome celebration with food, games, fellowship and some church! Here are a few thoughts from the day….
- Sometimes I wonder why each year we celebrate another year of ministry as Ridge Church and then I remember the people/organizations that said we would fail or wouldn’t make it in Oak Ridge, or didn’t have what it takes. We’re 4 years in and God is still moving in this place. I’ll celebrate that.
- Every time I think about how God called us to start a church from scratch in a city that was not my home, I’m floored with emotion that God has sustained us, grown us, and is still pushing us forward. I’m so glad we get to be part of this.
- Thank you to those people/churches/organizations that have helped us and prayed for us over the years. People like David Allred and High Places Community Church here in Oak Ridge (a truly Kingdom minded church), Ignite Network and pastors Dan Grider and Dan Palmer, all our Ignite partners and Mission Church team, pastor JR Lee, pastor Perry Noble and the team at Newspring Church in Anderson SC, pastor Steven Furtick and the team at Elevation Church, especially Frank Bealer, Connect Rome Church, KnoxLife Church and Sean Alsobrooks, Legacy Church and Luke Thomas, OneLife Church and Rodney Arnold, and last but not least, the people of Ridge Church
- And I (Bobby) have to also thank my wife Denira for being an amazing pastor’s wife and supporter of my crazy dreams of being a church planter.
- If you attend Ridge Church, are on staff at Ridge Church, or volunteer, you are what puts the Church in our name and you do a heck of a job at it. I love being your pastor!
- As far as the message goes from Sunday, it was one my favorite of all time to preach. Check it out on our website under podcast
- You need to go ahead and make plans to be here Sunday and the next Sunday. We’ll talk about two of the most controversial things Jesus had to say when it comes to marriage, remarriage, divorce and homosexuality. It’s about to get hot!
If you’ve been at the Ridge the last few months you have noticed a new flavor sprinkled in some of our worship sets; hip hop. Hey- I saw your foot taping, Jack! Don’t try and hide it. I (Bobby) can’t deny the fact you might hear me bumping some hip hop in my car or at the gym. In fact, I’m listening to some hip hop as I write this.
It may be odd to some of you to hear a song with hip hop in it sung to bring honor and glory to God. Let’s be honest for a moment about worship first; it’s not about you or me. We don’t sing songs in worship on Sunday to make ourselves feel good. We are responding to the greatness and goodness of God; for what He has done and will do, for His honor and His glory. So if we believe that the lyrics we sing in songs honor God, then what difference does it make the rhythm to which they are expressed? Correct. It doesn’t.
So at Ridge Church from time to time, you’ll hear a song with hip hop in it. We have been blessed with amazing musical talent to be able to pull it off so we’re going to let those gifted and called to express honor to God in such a way, use their talents at the Ridge. Big props to Austin Bradford for bringing the flavor.
Here’s a song (not our version) we’ve done at the Ridge with some hip hop