Not A Pretty Picture

This Sunday, referred to as Palm Sunday among many churches across the world is the Sunday before Easter. It was on Sunday that all of Jerusalem turned out to welcome Jesus into the city for the celebration of Passover. They were ready to crown him King and follow Jesus in an insurrection against the powerful Romans. They were motivated, excited, and ready to go all in, feeling insurmountable.

Fast forward, a few days later and the scene is drastically and tragically different. No longer is Jesus the “darling” of the crowds. As Pilate presents Jesus torn and tattered before the crowd, they in unison call for his crucifixion.

What caused such a distinct change in attitude and actions?

Because we are a fallen people, may I say it, a sinful people, we cannot be trusted. When the going gets tough, when life becomes hard, when the journey appears to be overwhelming the enthusiasm, hope, and plans we once had disappear and we degenerate into a wild uncontrollable mob. It is certainly not a pretty picture. The picture is not pretty it is unappealing, ugly, and repellant. The cross is not either, but it was necessary for our salvation.

Join me this week as we focus on the events that led Jesus to die willingly a shameful death on a shameful cross so that our sins could be forgiven and we might have a personal relationship with him.

We Labor Together With God, Wes

A Family’s Future Health and Happiness

As I write this article, Easter is about 2 and half weeks away. We have “Sprung Forward” to “fast” time (Daylight Saving Time), and spring is right around the corner (March 20). With all the rain we’ve had I am just waiting for the sun to burst forth a couple of days and send the grass into a growing spurt of cataclysmic proportions. Yes, the New Year is gaining momentum and everyone’s calendar is getting full.

Being busy, active, involved, and on the go, appear to be the narrative of today’s family and of society in general. No doubt, the affluence of the day combined with the opportunities that abound contribute to the non-stop frenzy many families experience. Time passes quickly and one must make the most of the present time.

“Carpe Diem” (Seize the day) is often referenced as the reason for such frenzied family activity. However, that is NOT what the term infers. In its proper context, (“Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero” – “Seize the day, trusting as little as possible to the future”) means, to do everything you can do today to make tomorrow better. It’s not about indulging in the present and ignoring the future, but realizing that today’s activities affect and influence the results of the future.

So, the “take home” is this: As you quickly fill up the family calendar with good activities to “seize the day”, do not leave the future to chance and by-pass the benefits of weekly Bible study, worship, and service. These activities have the greatest influence on your family’s future health and happiness.

We Labor Together With God, Wes

Preparing for Easter

Easter is less than 4 weeks away! While we live in a culture that is majority unchurched today, there is still an openness to faith and connecting with a church. The key is a personal invitation.

Recent studies have indicated that 48% of the unchurched said they would attend if someone personally invited them. There is no easier, better, or greater time to extend an invitation than Easter Sunday.

Most people have an inclination to attend on Easter. Where they attend is often determined by who they know and who invites them. Would you begin to pray for 3 specific people or families you will invite to attend on Easter, April 1?

To assist you in making that invitation easier, be sure to pick up several “Come Alive” brochures to give, as you invite. They are at the Information Center.

The schedule for Easter Sunday is:
7 AM Sunrise Worship at the Pavilion.
If possible, bring fresh cut flowers. Breakfast following
9 AM Small groups/Sunday School
10:15 AM Morning Worship: Choir will present “Blessed Redeemer”

We Labor Together With God, Wes

The Passion of Decaying Teeth Restored

So, I followed the technician into the room where the dentist and his assistant were involved in a very active conversation. As I entered Doc called me over and without missing a beat, the conversation continued with me included.

I was there to get a temporary cap (or crown) replaced with a permanent one. The Doc instead, called my attention to a series of tooth x-rays (high quality and in color) that he had been working on and pointed out, that due to this NEW polymer a tooth could be almost fully restored to its original quality, while leaving much of the good part of the tooth intact. The pictures he showed me were from the before, after, and during mode. I’m not gonna lie, pictures of decaying teeth are not very appealing. Even the splendor of the restored tooth, while very magnificent still did little to change my impression of the whole conversation.

However, what did strike me was the dentist’s great passion for fixing teeth. His great passion for helping his patients experience the best dental care possible. His passion for restoring what was truly unsalvageable to such a pristine condition.

This Sunday morning Josh Hunt will share with us his passion for doubling groups and reaching people with the gospel through small groups. I pray that we will grasp his passion for seeing the gospel restore life to people whose lives seem to be unsalvageable. May we have a greater passion for the gospel and its ability to provide us with the best life possible. I can’t wait!

We Labor Together With God, Wes

What Is The Cost?

I got a text this morning. A very important piece of paper was lost and maybe it flew out the vehicle door when it opened and the person got out or in as they attended Wednesday Night Bible Study. The text asked me to keep my eyes open in case I might spot it.

After I got to The Ridge and parked, I started to look around and headed down toward the road. Well, first I attempted to discern which direction the wind was blowing. As I walked toward the road, I did see a rather large piece of paper in a ditch by the road. Upon arrival, I determined this was the aforementioned “important paper.” However, it was mired down in the mud, which fortunately kept it from “easing on down the road.” After a few moments of contemplation, there was no doubt; I would have to take at least one-step into the sludge to retrieve it. I firmly planted my foot into the muck and almost came out of my shoe, picked it up and successfully pulled my foot and shoe back to solid ground. Yes, foot, shoe, and a rather deep coating of the mire!

A very successful task completed but not without cost. The cost of time looking, the cost of time cleaning, the cost of uncertainty whether the paper would be located. I was happy to help. I was able to clean my shoe and the paper I found was indeed the one that was lost. It was worth the cost

Here’s the challenge: What’s the cost of reaching people with the gospel and are we willing to pay it?

We Labor Together With God, Wes

Small Groups – Good for Thee; Not for Me!

Scripture reminds us that we need to be in relationships for our personal and spiritual growth. In the midst of this fragmented and persecuted world, we desperately need to be connected!

Are you thinking this is great for thee, but not for me? Perhaps you are struggling with a very busy full plate in life. A plate overfilled with mounds of things that you need to do and are responsible for in your life. Perhaps, they are overflowing your dish. We all struggle with the demands of our career and all of the frustrations and stress placed on us, such as goals, deadlines, and workflow.

Then there are our family obligations, taking the kids to school, picking them up here and there, dealing with all of their demands and obligations too. Then maybe you are already volunteering for something in the church or community. Maybe you are juggling work and school and family, to the point there is not a free minute in your week.

Then you are asked, “Hey, why don’t you join our small group?” What??? I do not have the time! I cannot possibly commit to anything else. I am overloaded and overwhelmed! Well, to be honest, then you are the person who needs to be in a small group the most!

We ALL need a place to grow, and we as humans in a relationship with Jesus grow best in community with people who love and care for us!

We Labor Together With God, Wes

6 Reasons Sunday School Small Groups Rock!

1. Sunday School Small Groups (SSSG) improve your Bible knowledge. When you know and understand God’s Word, you are more likely to obey it.

2. SSSG, assist your spiritual growth. Think of Sunday School teachers and class members who have modeled the Christian life. Most importantly, spiritual growth often occurs best in the context of small group Bible study.

3. SSSG provide a “place to belong.” In a Sunday School class you are known, personally recognized and transparency is more likely to occur. You can share needs and concerns. As you participate, you become part of the group.

4. SSSG help you build meaningful relationships. You meet people, learn their names, hear their stories, and meet their families. You share fellowship times with class members. You minister alongside others.

5. SSSG provide opportunities to serve and minister. Contacts with sometimes “unchurched prospects” gives you the privilege of sharing your faith. You show the love of Jesus by ministering to class members who have needs.

6. SSSG have a place for the whole family. In one trip to church, your entire family can participate in the important purposes of Bible study, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, worship, and evangelism.

We will recognize Sunday School Small Group Workers Sunday, February 25, @ 10:15 am.

We Labor Together With God, Wes

Thankful For our Small Group Leaders

Our small group leaders are the mainstay of our congregation. No one person could do all that they do. They are valuable to the growth of The Ridge Church. Not just numerically but spiritually as well. We will honor our small group leaders with a banquet on Saturday, February 24 and recognize them on Sunday, February 25.

Just think about it —

  • They consistently attend small group and worship weekly, which is an
    encouragement to all who attend.
  • They are committed to preparing a weekly plan to enable biblical learning regardless of the number present.
  • They are dedicated to the people they teach through prayers, visits, and weekly contacts. When someone is missing in worship or small group, I am confident that their small group leader will be in contact during week.
  • They support and promote the plan and vision of the church. They join with the
    pastor and the leadership team in following the direction that God is leading.
  • They spend their own money, time and other treasure as they see needs in their class.
  • They are committed to supporting the other ministries of the Ridge Church through the giving of their tithes and offerings.
  • They arrive early and prepare the learning area, keeping it fresh and welcoming each week.

We Labor Together With God, Wes

Please Come to Small Group/Sunday School

At The Ridge Church, we definitely want you to join us for small group Bible study. How can we encourage you to attend? Ken Braddy lists 5 ways to encourage attendance. (Read article at

1) Give them an assignmentIf people have a job to do, they are more likely to show up. Place someone in charge of nametags, announcements, prayer time, assisting the group leader by leading a portion of the study, planning fellowships, and like that.

2) Pose a controversial questionBefore Sunday, email (text) the members and call attention to a section of personal study guide. Pose a controversial question. Stir the pot. Help your group members think critically. Promise to address the question or comment during the Bible study. They’ll have to show up to find out the answer and to hear everyone else’s responses.

3) Preview the next sessionmovie theaters have learned the value of making us sit through 25 minutes of “coming attractions.” They know that to get us to come back in the future, they need to pique our interest in the present. At the end of each Bible study, spend a minute previewing the next study, encouraging your group members to study in advance and to come prepared to engage in next week’s Bible study.

4) Teach with excellenceOne of the quickest ways to drive people away from your group is to get into a teaching rut. If your group members can predict what is going to take place each week, it’s time for you to shake things up. Learn to incorporate new teaching techniques each week. The variety will spice things up.

5) Reach out to themit’s a mathematical fact that about 50% of your group’s members will not be in attendance each week. Normally groups average an attendance of 50% of their enrollment. So every week the group leader and the care group leaders have an important job to do – they must contact every absent member and discover if there is a ministry opportunity.

We Labor Together With God, Wes

Gorham Outreach and Ministry

Wednesday night we had a great discussion on our future ministry in Gorham.

It all began last summer as we sponsored a 5 day Bible club. Then, a block party was planned and we participated in the community’s “Trunk or Treat” effort. In November, we began a 6 week after School program that included a bible study, mission study, Bible verse memory, games and refreshments.

The discussion last night centered on future ministry ideas.

Ideas included – VBS in the community July 9-13, 5:30-8 pm. Begin with a light supper. Include an adult and youth bible study at the same time.

Movie night, Easter Egg Hunt, work day to do light yard work in the community, coordinate the delivery of lunch meals in the summer for the children, begin an “adopt a grandparent” ministry, provide Monday- Friday activities during spring break (March 30-April 6), continue with the Tuesday after school program in 6 week cycles.

Begin a weekly Bible Study/Worship time in the community supported by the people from the Ridge church. Perhaps meeting on a Sunday afternoon. This service would be in lieu of our Sunday night service.

As you pray, ask the Lord how we can reach the community.

We Labor Together With God, Wes