Climbing From “Not Ok”


by kevin bradford

Rusty Sampson, one of our pastors, recently spoke on how to follow Jesus as a parent. It’s a challenging message and I highly recommend you listen to it. As I listened to him speak, I found myself tracking with everything he said. I felt challenged in my parenting and I welcomed it!

But something started to sit weird with me. As Rusty talked about how to maximize your time to influence your child’s life, my mood started to sink as I wondered how in the world I’m supposed to have an influence on their lives when, as a divorced father, I only get them every other weekend? My eyes started to survey the room and I began to count close to 10 others in the room who were in a situation similar to mine. In fact, a growing percentage of the people coming to the Ridge are divorced parents.

If you are one of these people, I want you to know you’re not alone. No matter how alone or hopeless you may feel, there is a community of broken people at the Ridge who know what you’re going through and want to walk through the struggle with you. Believe me, I know.

I bounced around to a number of churches in the area for years, often feeling like a misfit. For far too long, churches have ostracized divorcees. One church I visited didn’t have a place for a divorced father of four to plug in to, so I joined their singles community group. I’ll just say it was hard for me to relate to a bunch of twentysomethings who had never been married, not to mention knew what it was like to raise kids.

My goal here is not to throw other churches under the bus, but to let those of you who are divorced parents know you’re not misfits. I too know the pain of divorce. I know what it’s like to have to cram two weeks’ worth of time with my kids into two days. It’s hard. It sucks. It isn’t fair, but it’s life. At the Ridge, I found a community of people who accepted me for who and what I am…broken and jacked up. As time passed, I discovered some of our leaders, including our pastor Bobby, had also tasted the bitterness of divorce. I finally found a place where I fit.

We have a core value of embracing the unembraced because each one of us have been unembraced at some point. That’s why when we say “it’s ok not to be ok”, we mean it. We want to help you climb out of the “not ok” so you can experience all that a life alive in Christ has to offer.

Following Jesus Takes You All In


by bobby williams

Three weeks ago, we started an all new series called #follow. You can catch up on the message here. 

For the last several posts, we have been looking at the 4 phases of following Jesus we see in Luke 5 where Jesus calls Peter the fisherman, to drop his nets and to follow him.  Phase 1 is to simply observe, phase 2 is to be inconvenienced, phase we looked at the take action phase and today, I want to unpack the all in phase.


When Jesus called his disciples, they took a radical first step and left what they were doing, and started following Jesus, learning from him, watching him and even participating. But being all-in has more to do with belief than it does actions. The thing that separates phase 3 (taking actions) from phase 4 is that a Christian who has gone all-in really does believe that Jesus is who he says he is and that he really will do all that he promised us he would do.

It took some time for Peter to get there. In fact, it probably wasn’t until several years in that we can see Peter start to get there and then some time later after the resurrection that we could properly call him all-in (see Acts 1-4).

Here are a few characteristics of an all-in believer:

  • They trust God with their whole lives, not just the easy parts
  • They belong to a local church and participate in the body of believers community 
  • They seek out ways to give, serve, and pour into others Monday-Saturday, not just on Sundays
  • Jesus is submitted to (to the best of our flawed ability) in parenting, finances, careers, relationships, and every other area of life
  • The goal is not heaven, it’s to become more and more like Jesus

Those are just a few. The bottom line is that an all-in follower of Jesus submits their life to being made more and more into the image of God and then seeks to reflect that image to others and in every area of life.

Now here’s the bad news; you can’t do this.

Actually that’s really good news. It’s Christ in you through you and the power of the Holy Spirit in you that we lean on to transform us from the inside out.

If you’re not there yet, don’t worry. It’s a process that can take time. Press into the Holy Spirit more and more, lean on him and trust him to do a good work in you. God is completing the good works he has started in you in due time.


The Old Lumberjack


by rusty sampson

There was a young lumberjack that got hired  by a logging company.  Now this young man was big, and strong and determined to make a good impression with his new boss.

On his first day on the job, the young lumberjack was working beside an old, grizzled lumberjack that was at least the twice the young guy’s age and about half his size.  The young guy was determined to show the old guy up, so he worked as hard as he could cutting down trees.  He felt pretty good about how things were going, because he noticed that the old guy was taking a break about once an hour.  

At the end of the first day, the foreman counted up the trees that each man had cut down and to the total surprise of the young guy, the old lumberjack had cut down more trees than he had.  The young lumberjack was all bent out of shape.  

The next day he came back and worked even harder.  The old guy continued to take his break every hour and at the end of the day had still cut down more trees than the young guy.  The young guy almost exploded.  The third day the young guy worked with a furious pace.  He skipped lunch and didn’t take a single break all day.  At the end of the day the old guy had once again cut down more trees.  

The young guy stormed over to the old lumberjack and  demanded that the old guy confess how he was cheating!!!   The old guy smiled and said that he hadn’t cheated, he had simply cut down more trees.  Exasperated, the young guy demanded that the old lumberjack explain how he could possibly cut down more trees than he had, especially when the old guy kept taking breaks.  The old lumberjack looked at him and chuckled, and said, “Son, I don’t take breaks, I just stop and sharpen my axe.”

Now I tell you that story, so you will hopefully understand just how blessed we are at the Ridge to have a pastor who will stop, take a break from preaching, and sharpen his axe.  A lot of churches are not so fortunate.

So when you come in and see someone else bringing the message that day, regardless of whether Pastor Bobby is here or not, just know that he is sharpening his axe and becoming a better pastor in the process.

Amen?  Amen

Following Jesus Requires Action


by bobby williams

Two weeks ago, we started an all new series called #follow. You can catch up on the message here. 

For the last several posts, we have been looking at the 4 phases of following Jesus we see in Luke 5 where Jesus calls Peter the fisherman, to drop his nets and to follow him.  Phase 1 is to simply observe, phase 2 is to be inconvenienced and today in phase 3, we look at the take action phase.

In Luke 5, Jesus asks Peter to go and do something he had always done, fish. But the catch was (see what I did there?) that this time he would do it differently; with a greater purpose. Jesus says to Peter, “drop your nets and I will teach you to be a fisher of men.”

Peter would continue fishing, but it would be for a purpose far greater than putting Nemo on the table. (Too much?)

When you follow Jesus, he leads you to a greater purpose. But so many of us think that following Jesus may lead us to change jobs, careers, schools, friends, etc. And let me just say, SOMETIMES THAT IS THE CASE. But more often than not, what Jesus is asking you to do, is the same thing but with a different purpose. Let me explain.

If you’re stay-at-home mom, he’s not asking you to go get a job. You have a job, and tough one at that. He’s asking you to do it differently. You’re not just getting the job done with your kids and family, you’re taking advantage of moments to reflect the Gospel in how you do what you do.

If you work, you have a job to do each day, but now your job has a greater purpose than a paycheck. You get to reflect the Gospel where you work, and to who those you work with.

If you are in school, you not just getting and education or hanging with friends, you’re reflecting the gospel where you are.

You’re doing what you’ve always done but with a greater purpose. You’re taking action.

So today, as you go about your day, don’t just look at it as something you’ve always done, look at it as an opportunity to do what you’ve always done, with an even greater purpose.


Following Jesus Can Be Inconvenient

Norrbotten, Gällivare, Gällivare, Lappland, Övrigt-Arbetsliv, Miljöer-Insjömiljöer

by bobby williams

Last week we started a series of posts to go along with the start to our #follow teaching series at the Ridge. You can catch part 1 here and listen to the first 2 messages in the series, here. 

In Luke 5, we read about Jesus’ first known encounter with Simon Peter the fisherman and how Jesus asks Peter to stop catching fish, but now to be a fisher of men.

In the story, after Peter had been out all night fishing, had come back in and washed his nets, put up his tools and was about to clock out and binge on some Netflix, Jesus says to Peter, “Put out into the deep and cast your nets there.”

“Jesus, you see we didn’t catch a thing last night. Now it’s day. Fish aren’t biting. Plus, it’s wine-thirty my friend. Time to hit up Long John’s on the way home since we didn’t catch anything, grab some wine, and chill till it’s time to punch the clock again tonight.”

Ok, so that’s wasn’t his exact response. His response however was, “Master, because YOU say so….” Peter let it be known that if he wasn’t the biggest fan of this idea and if it doesn’t work, it’s on him. It was inconvenient.

There’s another instance where Jesus tells his disciples to go out into the towns, and sends them out two-by-two, but they can only take with them what they have on them. Or another time when he tells two of his disciples in Mark 11 to go and steal a colt that was tied up so he can ride into town on it.

Following Jesus can be inconvenient.

One thing that I understand well about myself is that I do not do well with inconvenience. They frustrate me and toss out the rhythm of my well-planned out days. Call me OCD if you like, but when there’s a schedule, I like to be on it and on time with it.

However, the longer I follow Jesus, the more that I am learning that divine inconvenience speaks to a greater purpose. Some things are just plain inconvenient and not of the Lord, but there are other things that are “divine inconveniences” like Peter’s encounter with Jesus.

In the moment, Peter probably had no idea what hang in the balance by casting his nets again. Peter showed Jesus a willingness to “just see”. Just see what happens by saying yes…to just see what happens if you listen to his voice and do what he says. Even if it sounds and feels crazy; even if it’s inconvenient.

Peter responded to this inconvenience by saying, “at your word I will let down my nets.”

What inconvenience are you facing or that you know is coming that could be a divine inconvenience? Even though it’s going to throw out your schedule, can you say to Jesus, “at your would I will….” ?