Summer Kick Off!

Summer has arrived! Graduations are celebrated, schools are out, and vacations have begun. To kick it all off we celebrate Memorial Day. I realize that some may conclude that the purpose of Memorial Day is to help us “memorialize” the arrival of summer.

Of course, that is not the case at all. Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America. While several cities and towns vie for the honor of celebrating the first Memorial Day, one thing is for sure, the origin of Memorial Day is the result of The Civil War and a desire to honor our dead.

This weekend some will find their way to the cemeteries for the purpose of, as proclaimed by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11. dated 5 May 1868: “strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

Over the years, this observance includes decorating the graves of all men and women who died in any war or military action. In addition, we often take the time to remember and honor our loved ones who have died.

This Sunday morning at The Ridge Church, we will remember those friends, family, and church members who have died during 2016.

I hope you will find time to attend Sunday as we honor those who have gone before us and as we worship our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.”

We Labor Together With God, Wes

Church Membership Update

In just the nick of time, the weather is starting to follow the calendar. Whether this continues or not is anyone’s guess. After all, this IS Southern Illinois!

I would like to update you on a task taken on by the Church Council

Membership Update: One of the goals of the Church Council this year is to update the membership list. Currently WSBC/The Ridge has more than 720 members including 350 resident members. Obviously, this is not an accurate picture. .

Since January, the council has been updating the membership list (NO small undertaking). They will present their results in June. Two lists will be presented: 1) Members of Walnut Street Baptist Church and 2) Members of the Ridge Church.

Members of The Ridge Church are those members who attend the Ridge Church, support The Ridge church, and/or connected to The Ridge Church.

The WSBC members will be those who have not connected with The Ridge Church.

The plan is to present the two lists to the congregation in the middle of June for review. Questions will be referred to the Church office. Then a scheduled date will be set for church approval sometime later in June. .

Finally, we will have a current list of The Ridge Church members.

We Labor Together With God, Wes

Seasons of the Year

A friend of mine loves baseball. He knows just about any baseball fact that is worth knowing. When we visit, he shares some of the old baseball matchups. He has a treasure of St. Louis Cardinal stories stashed away in his mind that he pulls out one after the other and tells each one with little hesitation.

He has informed me many times that he wished baseball season never ended and as soon as the World Series is complete, he looks forward to the pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training in February. One might conclude that my friend’s year begins in February, ends in October, and just floats along the remaining three months.

In the church, we might conclude that the church year begins in the spring as we prepare to welcome Easter through the Lenten season, and ends in the winter as we anticipate Christmas during the season of Advent. I suppose it is fitting to consider the leftover months of January and February as a quiet time to refresh and renew. However, I am reminded that betwixt Easter and Christmas we have Vacation Bible School. Further, VBS is a major pillar of the church year.

Now that Easter has come and gone our attention turns to “Galactic Starveyors – Discovering the God of the Universe.” I invite you adults to join us on Wednesday evenings at 6:30 pm as we rediscover that the God who created everything is interested in a relationship with us.

We Labor Together With God, Wes

Are You Undecided About Easter Attendance?

Survey: One in Five Americans Undecided About Easter Church Attendance

Easter Sunday Church attendance is not a cut and dry decision for everyone – even for self-identified Christians. There are as many Americans saying they are not attending, as are attending, Easter worship services. However, 20 percent say they are undecided.

This undecided group includes those who rarely attend and those who attend only on religious holidays.

In addition, eighteen percent who attend only on religious holidays do not plan to attend on Easter, as do 92 percent who never go to church. About half of Americans who say they rarely attend church do not plan on attending at Easter.

Also, Americans age 55-64 are the least likely to attend Easter services (29 percent), but those 65 and older (50 percent) are more likely to attend than those in the youngest demographic: 18-29 (41 percent).

Folks of The Ridge Church, we must be mindful of our many friends and family who haven’t ruled out the idea of attending Easter Sunday. It may be that a personal invitation from you is what would make a difference to them.

Easter is the greatest celebration of the Christian faith. As one in five Americans keeps their options open, we have no reason to be shy about asking friends to join us for Easter worship.

We Labor Together with God, Wes

Share the Victory!

We have just concluded a very busy week on The Ridge. Most of it was packed into the weekend. On Saturday, visitation and funeral services for Dave Baggett were here, followed by a meal for the family. Your expressions of sympathy were a great comfort for Dave’s family as well as the outpouring of your help in providing and preparing the memorial meal.

Sunday began with the Ordinance of Baptism during Morning Worship as we welcomed Jakob Wilson and Jillian Wilson into the Ridge family. We can expect more baptisms following Easter Sunday. If you have questions about salvation, baptism, and membership, I am glad to discuss them with you. Please contact me.

Sunday afternoon was time for our annual Community Easter Egg hunt. We had a great turnout. The numbers are located inside “The Witness”. There were many people involved in procuring, filling and hiding over 5,000 eggs.

And then, our Sunday was complete with our Birthday Potluck as we recognized those celebrating birthdays during the month of April.

These events were opportunities for all the folks of The Ridge church to share the victory, give testimony, and demonstrate our faith in Jesus Christ.

The good news of Jesus is too good to keep for ourselves. We must continue to find ways to share it with others.

We Labor Together with God, Wes

Why Baptism by Immersion?

Sunday we will observe the Ordinance of Baptism. Someone may ask why the Ridge Church baptizes by immersion and why we do not baptize infants? I refer to FAQ’s on the SBC website for explanation (www.sbc.net/faqs.asp).

Southern Baptists have historically held to the mode of baptism that we believe to be the most consistent with the Bible – believer’s baptism by immersion.

When Jesus gave His command in Matthew 28:18-20 to make disciples, the directive was to baptize those new believers/disciples, and the word for baptism was literally “to immerse.” It was a practice reserved for those who had decided to follow Him. Baptism is not salvation. It is an act of obedience following salvation.

Baptizing a believer by immersion conveys the picture of a person dying with Christ, being buried with Him, and being raised with Him in a new life (Romans 6:3,4). This act is a voluntary declaration to all witnesses that the person has openly and unreservedly placed his/her faith in the Lord and will follow Him.

When a person is baptized as a baby, he/she has no knowledge of the Lord, repentance, salvation, discipleship, or any of the essentials related to following Him. This baptism may be meaningful to the family and may convey their deepest desire to dedicate that baby fully to the Lord, but because a baby cannot make such choices, baptism could not convey these essential truths directly associated with a believer’s baptism. If you have questions or thoughts please contact me.

We Labor Together with God, Wes

Balancing Broomsticks

Monday morning at 5:29 a.m. CDT, spring arrived. I noticed several pictures on Facebook of brooms perfectly balanced in a vertical position all on their own. Whether this was fake news or not I cannot attest.

With spring, increasing daylight, daylight saving time, and warmer temperatures comes increased activities inside and outside. Let me update you on some very important dates and happenings on The Ridge over the next few weeks.

1) The Ministry Continues – This Saturday beginning at 9 am. Stewardship is an important part of the Christian life. It is our responsibility to care for the resources that God has entrusted to us. Make plans to be here to help with some spring cleanup around the building and property. Chris Robison will direct us.

2) Outreach Event – Trivia Night Saturday beginning at 5:30 pm. Whether you are good at Trivia or not is secondary to the opportunity God has provided to reach out to our neighbors and friends for a night of fun and introduction to the people of The Ridge Church.

3) Mission Action – Three opportunities for your participation present themselves. We are collecting diapers and other baby items for Pregnancy Matters. ALSO, we are collecting candy and money to fill Easter eggs for the grand Easter egg hunt on April 2nd. Then, remember to give your part in sharing the gospel here in North America through the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.

Once again, it is a privilege and a joy to join with God in His ministry!

We Labor Together with God, Wes

A New Way To Connect With The Ridge

In almost every Worship, Bible Study, and Small Group gathering on The Ridge we use handouts, outlines, and/or study guides.

According to American educator Edgar Dale 
WE REMEMBER
10% of what we read
20% of what we hear
30% of what we see
50% of what we see and hear
70% of what we discuss with others
80% of what we personally experience
95% or what we teach others

Therefore, a new link has been added to the left tab of the web page titled,  “Group Handouts.” 

Click on the link, then click on the service (Sunday AM Worship Outline, Sunday PM Discussion Guide, Sunday Small Group GuideWednesday PM Outline),  and find the latest handout.  

The goal is to take what we hear and see, discuss it with one another and make application to our life. 

Exciting Times on The Ridge

What an exciting time to a part of the Ridge Church! God has been so good to bless. Sunday was just a microcosm of God’s great blessing upon us all.

We rejoice in the decision for salvation, baptism and church membership that was made at the end of the worship service Sunday. I pray everyone realizes what a sacred moment the time of commitment is every week. It is so important to be in prayer and not leave the service or cause any distraction as the Holy Spirit is at work in people’s lives. Every week there are many decisions being made. Please don’t hinder the moment.

Then Sunday night a tremendous outpouring of fun, talent, and good food prevailed upon us. The folks of the Ridge Church contributed over $3,000 for our youth to attend camp this summer. That was in addition to a great general fund and debt retirement fund contribution earlier in the day. The Ridge Church folks always rise to the occasion and meet the need at hand.

I offer a “Hats Off” not only to all of the talent show participants but also to those who set up and cleaned up. A double “Hats Off” goes to Jenny and Louie, Ann and Steve, and Courtney and Bradley for their leadership.

With great blessing comes great responsibility. Let us continue to grow stronger and deeper in spiritual maturity, faith, fellowship and sacrificial service.

We Labor Together with God, Wes