What A Year!

As we come to the end of 2016 we can look back and say “What a year!” Of course the emotion and meaning of that statement is open to personal interpretation based on our own personal experiences. Many end this year as they began last year with a great amount of grief, turmoil, and general unrest.

I think all of us can agree, we are in dire need of help and direction. Many are looking to Politicians, Government and Human Institutions for relief and answers to their problems. So many have lost hope and given up all together. This situation reminds me of a very similar condition in the world when Jesus spoke these words we find in Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

The Apostle Paul faced many troubling times during his life and encouraged us with these words from 2 Corinthians 4:7-11 “But we have this treasure in fragile clay jars, this makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed — always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.”

The words of Jesus and the Apostle Paul serve as reminders, that life as we know it is fragile. We are weak and powerless to confront the negative forces that come against us in our own strength or with human institutions. However, if we bring our weakness and uncertainty of life to Jesus Christ in faith, he will give us rest for our souls and the ability to withstand whatever forces that causes us so much unrest.

 We Labor Together with God, Wes

The More or Less of Christmas

Matthew 1:23 “Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” 

We have a certain expectation of Christmas. Whether its gifts, family together, baking, football, snow, or Christmas trees. Perhaps it’s the Christmas tree and decorations. Each year we pull them out set them up and each year we add more to the previous year’s stash.

Our expectation increases each year until we figure out we can’t do all of that or it becomes more of a burden than a delight. THEN, we feel let down or frustrated or cranky.

But Christmas is really more about less. Less of me and my decorations, impressive gift giving, attending parties, or what I want for Christmas, and more about what God has given to the world in Jesus.  Immanuel, God with us, is to be enjoyed, embraced, worshiped, and praised.

Remember Martha and Mary: Jesus came to them and Mary sat down and enjoyed the presence of God.  Martha, was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She complained – somebody’s got to do it, it won’t get done by itself.

To which Jesus replied, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, it will not be taken from her.”

“Immanuel … God with us.” Lord, help us to focus less on Christmas expectations and more on Jesus presence.

Bring Them With You

This week as you are hustling about I hope you will slow down, take some time, catch your breath and ponder those who are around you. Family, friends, acquaintances, co-workers, strangers, neighbors, you get the idea. Be observant!

When I go to the mall I see the men (most often) holding large pocketbooks as their significant other is busy in the plethora of stores that adorn the mall hallway.

Of course if you happen to find a Starbucks, Gloria Jeans, or a Dunkin kiosk with a little sitting area, you can settle down in the middle of all the movements.

Wherever you find yourself this Christmas season whether in the mix of things, or on the periphery holding a large pocketbook, or a double espresso mocha – ponder those around you.

Do they know Jesus?

This Christmas, we return to the scene of a humble manger where the great Light of the world was born. We join with the shepherds and angels¬ — in awe of God’s love come to earth. Amidst the noise and distractions, we still our hearts as we bow before Him and worship the one true King.

Join us at The Ridge Sunday December 18, at 10:15 am as the adult choir presents “Come Let Us Adore.” Those folks you are pondering … bring them with you! We Labor Together with God,

We Labor Together with God, Wes

Happy Thanksgiving

rambling on logo for newsletter“As you journey through life make it your goal; 

to look at the donut and not at the hole”

That’s quit an amusing little ditty. It is also quite profound. Focus on what you have rather than what you don’t have. The donut is made for eating (just ask me!) while the hole cannot be eaten. When it’s time to eat, focus on what is in front of you and enjoy, not on what you wish was there and complain. If you keep your eye upon the donut, everything assumes its proper perspective.

It’s like in the garden! Do you remember the garden?

Don’t you remember? God gave Adam and Eve all the fruit of the garden, that’s the doughnut. The fruit that Satan gave them is the hole! They should have kept looking at the doughnut, not at the hole!”

This week we will all pause and observe a day our nation sets aside as a holiday. It is “Thanksgiving Day.”

Hopefully we will pause to focus on the donut and remember just how grateful we should be for the privileges and blessings afforded us by God. Happy Thanksgiving!

We Labor Together with God, Wes

Five reasons you need to make church a weekly commitment

Lisa Appelo, www.tinyurl.com/TRC-church-weekly

Is church really necessary for the Christian? I want to share 5 reasons why you can’t do without church as a Christian.

1) You’re missing out on how God has chosen to work in this age. God founded the church. It’s not an invention of people. God created the church and has specifically tasked it to carry out His work until Christ returns. (Acts 1:2)

2) You’re missing out on using your spiritual gifts. Every believer has one or more spiritual gifts. Spiritual gifts are not meant for the recipient. They are meant for the body. We’ll be held responsible for how we use our spiritual gift.

3) You’re missing out on spiritual gifts meant for you. If you’re not in a church, not only is the body missing out on your spiritual gifts, but you are missing out on the body’s spiritual gifts intended for you.

4) You’re missing out on accountability. God calls believers to be holy. Can we do that on our own? The more we’re away from regular Biblical teaching and the more we drift away from others, the more difficult it is to live by God’s standards

5) You’re missing out on the sweetest fellowship this side of heaven. Insert your story here.

We Labor Together with God, Wes

A Happier People

In our home we give a tithe and an offering to the Lord through The Ridge Church. I am a simple person so I simply calculate my tithe (10%) based on my gross income.  I have no desire to perform mental gymnastics in determining the least amount that is acceptable to God or myself.

There have been times when I have sold an asset and received a financial return that I would re-invest in another asset. I felt no inclination to tithe on the sale of that asset since it was not income. Although, at other times, I have sold assets and used those receipts to give an offering.

The sale of 218 was the sale of one asset to reinvest in another asset. The asset was sold below market value, at a loss. It was not income and need not be treated as such. I am grateful for The Ridge leadership in reinvesting those financial receipts in the safety and the betterment of The Ridge Church.

I was reminded this week that money is only one tool to achieve a goal. There are other tools and it is not the goal itself. As this week’s small group/ Sunday School text reminds us, the unstoppable gospel has an unstoppable message. Our goal should be to be personally involved in sharing the message in the mission space God has provided for us.  As we focus on the goal, the message, and the people we have less desire and time to focus on the money. And we will be a happier people as well!

We Labor Together with God,  WES