Growing Forward or Going Backward?

rambling on logo for newsletterAs I mentioned Sunday morning, John instructs us, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.” (1 John 2:15)

Pastor Greg Laurie (Harvest Christian Fellowship, Riverside, CA) addresses that topic in a recent article ( Here are some highlights.

  • Christians need to question if they are growing or going backwards, as there’s no other alternative.
  • A believer doesn’t backslide overnight; it’s a slow, but sure, process. Things of the world gradually start looking more appealing than things of God.
  • To keep growing, at least three things are required: 1) you must read, study and love God’s Word. 2) You must pray without ceasing. 3) You must be actively involved in the Church.

Hebrews 10:24, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the day approaching.”

  • How can you love God whom you can’t see, if you do not love His people whom you can see? Not going to church is proof that something is wrong with you spiritually. Read 1 John 2:19.
  • We go to church to serve others, if we are mature Christians. We don’t choose a church based on its facilities, or how good the singing or music is.
  • The Church exists for three reasons, 1) the glorification of God, 2) the edification of the saints, and 3) the evangelization of the world.

We labor Together With God, Wes

Déjà Vu All Over Again

rambling on logo for newsletterOne of the late Yogi Berra’s famous quips was, “It’s Deja vu all over again.” I experienced some of that this week as I attended the IBSA Pastors Conference.

Mark Emerson led a session titled, “Launching New Groups.” In addition to reviewing Arthur Flake’s 5 Principles of SS Growth: know your possibilities, enlarge the organization, enlist the workers, provide the space, and go after the people, I was also reminded that reaching people is the NUMBER ONE purpose of our small group Sunday School classes.

In other words, YOUR Sunday School class exists for NUMERICAL growth!

I’m not sure I have grasped that truth. I have talked about it, preached about it, and even ranted about it. However, I don’t believe I have fully grasped the concept and its ramifications.

Let me put it a different way. The number one purpose of YOUR Sunday school class is to reach people.

Now, we may believe that because of our size we aren’t capable of doing that. Here are some facts. 75% of all the churches in Illinois average 86 or less in Sunday Worship. Our worship attendance places us in the top 20% of all the churches in Illinois. If any group of people is capable of reaching unchurched People, surely we are.

So let’s grab hold of the truth, develop our plan, and do it.

We labor Together With God, Wes

In Your Hands

rambling on logo for newsletterAs far as I was concerned 2015 was rolling along just fine. This past year has been a year of monumental change for the people of The Ridge Church. Much of the year was spent in planning and preparation for our move. On Easter Sunday it became a reality. We have spent much of the spring and summer settling in and improving our space.

Now with autumn upon us, the shortening of the days, and the subtle reminders of the coming winter, the days gone by have hit me all at once. It is November! There are just a few short weeks left to this year. Yet we have so much to do. Thanksgiving is upon us and the noise and commotion of Christmas and New Year’s follows almost simultaneously.

I’m not complaining about the swiftness of the clock. That’s how time flies. Richelle Goodrich writes about times reality, “Life may dawdle along in minutes but don’t be deceived, for it will sprint by in years before you even notice.”

I am just surprised, as I am every year, at pace of the sprint and the enormity of the opportunities before us. God has blessed us with so many options in life. Yet, as much as we might like, there is no way we can do everything that beckons.

So to make the most of the time we must research, prioritize, and make lists. Yet even our best lists are often nothing more than wishful thinking. Life itself seems to have its own plan for our life. Life’s plan often fills itself with routine, repetition, and regret.

Don’t be a prisoner of time. Enjoy November, embrace December, and find the time to seek out a few of the opportunities that beckon. And remember, ALL our times are in God’s hands. Your time is in God’s hands. My time is in God’s hands! “But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hand.” – Psalm 31:14-15, ESV

We labor Together With God, Wes

So, Why Do You Pray?

rambling on logo for newsletterWhen it comes to prayer I am regularly confused. I pray for things, good things for other people, and often my prayers are not answered as I prayed. I have come to realize that we live in a fallen world and no matter how hard we pray, regardless of the level of faith, our good prayers with our good intentions are not always going to become a reality. NOW, that sounds kind of depressing. Why then should I pray to God, if God is going to let me down at some point?

On the other hand, if everything I prayed about came to pass as my prayer directed then I would be able to corner the “prayer market” and make a comfortable living praying for people. “Send in those prayer requests folks, along with your best financial gift.” But again I am confronted with the question, why should I pray?

Well, first of all I believe the Bible. The scriptures clearly teach that we should pray. In fact, Philippians 2:6-7 says, “don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.”

So I pray about those things in life that give me cause to worry. The promise I get from God through the scripture is that even though my prayers may not be answered as I wish, I will experience a peace that cannot be explained.

The outcome may not be as I had hoped. I may be disappointed and saddened. However I don’t think there is anything more satisfying than the experience of God’s peace that comes through faithful prayer. So why do you pray?

We labor Together With God, Wes

Back to the Future

rambling on logo for newsletterIt is 1985 and Doc Brown, Marty McFly, and his girlfriend Jennifer take the time-traveling DeLorean into the year 2015 to straighten out the future of the McFly family. Specifically the date is October 21, 2015. Well, their plans do not quite work out the way they anticipated. So, they have to go back to 1955. Or at least that is what I have read from the reviews.

What an idea. Imagine trying to peek into the future. Would it be exciting or devastating? Would our wildest dreams come true or would our worst fears be realized?

We spend a lot of time trying to predict the future. Our whole economic system seems to be based on what the perceived future holds rather than the events of the day. A fortune is won or lost in a day in the Stock Market based on the projections of a few prognosticators. Planning for retirement is also another way we attempt to predict the future. And, while past performance is no guarantee of future results we are banking on it! Of course the vocation with the poorest attempt at predicting the future has to be your local weather forecaster. In what other position are you financially rewarded when the chance of being right is only 50%? Even major theologians have jumped on the bandwagon of “Back to the Future” as they predict at least one Armageddon in each generation.

Who knows what will happen in the future? I haven’t even decided what I am going to have for lunch. My lack of futuristic knowledge does not vex me for I am reminded of a word that the original “Back to the Future” guy said. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34 NIV). Now, about the Chicago Cubs winning the 2015 World Series ……

We labor Together With God, Wes

Doing Our Part

rambling on logo for newsletterYard work is not one of my “joys” in life. I think if I were to be an inventor I would invent a material one could place in the yard and the proper landscaping could be drawn on it. It would be lifelike and completely maintenance free. But alas I drea

Monday was the day for yard work. Debbie and I tackled a few items on our list.

Fortunately we had Peighton to help us. Now you might think that a 4 year old would not accomplish very much but as the picture reveals she was of great assistance and very eager to do “her part.” Of course, “her part” was a little less strenuous than our part. Nonetheless her participation made the work go well.

This Saturday there is an all church work day scheduled from 9-noon here at The Ridge Church. The list is long and the need is great. We all have different levels of skills and abilities. Usually my contribution is as the go-fer, anything to get me out of the way.

We are all responsible for a part of the work. I have found when we all eagerly do ourpeighton and leaves part, the work goes well and a lot is accomplished. I know that physical limitations keep some folks away. However your prayers, encouragement and moral support are important
as well.

Will you do your part with eagerness and joy? We will surely get a lot more done if you would.

We labor Together With God, Wes