Thursday, November 19, 2015

Remember The Way

by: Julie Johnson

Several months ago, I discovered a lump in my chest.

The first two times I said that sentence out loud, my voice caught on something – anxiousness, sadness, the realization I could cause my family grief. I assured the recipients of the news it was nothing. I was tough, strong, the whole bit.

In September, I began the process of seeing a doctor. This will not make sense to you, but it’s the way the Lord planned it: I ended up in my dermatologist’s office. After the examination, he said, “I don’t think it’s anything. But I want to see if I can get you an appointment with an appropriate doctor. If I can’t, I will schedule you for an ultrasound.”

I’m pretty good to have as a sidekick during emergencies. I’m calm when it comes to others (though adrenaline-y). What’s frustrating is that I cannot control how my body reacts to being in a doctor’s office. Or how it reacts to being examined. Or how it reacts to words being spoken. I’ve been on the brink of passing out enough times to know the drill. What I’m saying is this: An ultrasound sounded decent. The idea of a mammogram did not.

My next appointment involved both.

I sat in the waiting room with my mom. I ate lunch. A lady from the finance department called me to her cubicle. I felt the urge to spill my guts, to tell her how I am a horrible patient because my insides betray me. I sat there. Friendly as could be. Answering all of her questions with an added, “Thank you,” here and there. Finally, I asked her, “Do you have any advice?”

Yes. She said. Yes. She too had many near misses when it came to these sorts of things. She knew exactly what I was talking about. She even had a name for it per her doctor. I felt relieved. Taken care of. Not being alone really is powerful knowledge. Not to mention, I had friends/co-workers/friends praying for me, asking the Lord of all to prohibit me from passing out. 

Before the appointment, I went to the ladies’ room because my nervous bladder was super nervous and super full. In my moment of calm and quiet, I talked to God. I whispered to my God, “Be with me, beside me.” We both know God is always here. Near. Always with His children. What I was facing, though, what I was on the verge of embarking upon – I didn’t need answers. I didn’t need a plan. I wasn’t looking for a clean bill of health. I didn’t want to seek promises of ease and comfort. What my heart needed was to know without a doubt, my Jesus was with me. If I hurt, I needed Him by my side. If I felt weak, I needed Him by my side. In my secret moments of being scared, I needed Him by my side.

My name was called. I followed a nurse to a room a few doors down. She reassured me she had no intention of letting me pass out. I laughed. In the middle of the mess, I laughed. We talked about my interest of being a detective. And how she passed out c-o-l-d while watching an autopsy. We talked about her dogs and how one had been abused.

“I’m so glad this room has a window,” I said. It helped me focus on something other than what was happening to my body. I watched cars and people and clouds. “It’s the only room of this sort that has one,” she said. I knew instantly God prepared it for me. The window was too important for it not to have been from my Father.

After all the tests were completed, I went back to the waiting room. I prepared my mom, “I think something’s wrong.” The second technician was equally as nice as the first. I noticed, though, the ultrasound paddle she was using stayed in one spot a very long, difficult, painful amount of time. So I asked her. “What’s going on?” I explained how I prefer to be given off-the-record bad news before the official on-the-record bad news. It helps me process, I said. Her lips held tight. She couldn’t confirm nor deny.

Yet, I was calm. Though the examining team gave me no absolutes, God did. He allowed me to wonder, but He held back the fear and pushed through with peace.

The doctor sent for me. My mom and I went to a small little room and sat on a small little couch. The doctor walked in, introduced himself. Shook my hand. Met my eyes. “The mammogram was clear,” he began, “but the ultrasound found a mass in a spot away from the original issue.” He said non-cancerous masses were smooth, but what he saw from my ultrasound was smooth on top and jagged on bottom. He could not say with certainty whether or not this thing inside me was or was not dangerous. He went on to give the size and explained how, even if it were cancer, it was so small it would be easy to take care of. Hopefully, though, a biopsy would show it to be benign.

“Do you have any questions?” He sat in his chair, his eyes still with mine. He didn’t look away. What God did was send me a doctor who had nothing better to do and who was willing to wait for me.

“No,” I said. “Not right - Actually, yes. I do.” I paused. And apologized. Recapped for this man what just happened. “I said I didn’t have any questions, but as I was saying that, I realized I do. So I’m not sure why I said what I said.” He chuckled. “It’s okay,” he assured me. I may have taken a breath.

I asked my question, which boiled down to me asking this long-suffering doctor to repeat himself. He obliged. “Even if it is something,” he reassured me, “it’s very small.”

The morning of my biopsy, I ate a good breakfast and went for an hour’s walk. I felt fine about things – until I arrived at the clinic. Hearing people talk and make noise nauseated me. The TV in the waiting room was airing a Rachel Ray show. She was super pumped about some men cooking Italian food. I was not. At all. A nurse called for me before any damage was done. I was half-and-half relieved.

I entered the room, ready to tell all who would listen how weak of a stomach I have and how I didn’t want to know the nitty gritty details of what was to come. What I found behind Door No. 1, though, was one of you.

I wouldn’t find out until after the biopsy, but what God gave me while I was exposed and vulnerable and not sure about days to come was a member of Ridgecrest. Someone who comforted me and assured me the next few moments would be all right. She was kind and gentle. Though she had a job to do, she made sure I was good.

The afternoon of my first exams, sitting in the ladies’ room, with unknowns taking over, I spoke to our Creator and asked Him to be by my side. Not across the room. Not at the foot of the exam table. But right next to me. I had no right to do so. I’ve not been kind to Him lately. I’ve been short and unloving, ungrateful.

But God.

I didn’t need to ask Him of His whereabouts. He had already shown me. The words I spoke were for me so that I could focus on Him.

Deuteronomy 8:2 says, “And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.”

Christian, remember the whole way the Lord your God has led you. Remember how He delivered you. Remember how He rescued you. Remember the times He brought unexpected, deep-down, from-the-belly joy. Pay special care in recalling the moments you knew without a doubt He was with you. Then tell others your story about Jesus.

Note: The biopsy showed the mass to be benign. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Encouragement | He Is The Same


Encouragement from the Character of God

He Is The Same 
by: Julia Bennett

He is peace. He is strength. He is personal. He is almighty. He is sovereign. He is is loving. He is just. He is truth. He is grace. The list of all Jesus is goes on and on.

“Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever," (Hebrews 13:8).

We live in a world of uncertainty, a world where economies fall to pieces and entire nations break into war in the blink of an eye. On a more personal level, people die, people lose their jobs, relationships change. When things are calm, we often feel we can handle this life on our own, but it only takes one difficult circumstance to make us feel as if we have been rung out like an old dish rag and set aside to be forgotten. That is not the case. Christ has not forgotten us; He is unchanging. We can know with certainty the same God who sustained us yesterday will sustain us tomorrow and all the days that follow. I have found when my life seems to be falling apart, it becomes most evident Jesus is the only certainty to cling to. When the storms of life are swelling around us, pushing us around, pulling us under, He is the only thing that will remain steady. He is an anchor to those who choose to hold on. Jesus is seen clearly in the storm. This spiritual truth was shown in literal storms in multiple places in the Bible; one example is found in Mark 4.

Mark 4:35-41

Jesus Stills the Sea

"On that day, when evening came, He said to them, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’ Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him. And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?’ And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Hush, be still.’ And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. And He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?’ They became very much afraid and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?'"

In this passage, the disciples were worried the Lord had forgotten them because there was a storm raging. He had not forgotten them; He simply let the storm come so He could show them His power, faithful love and protection.

Jesus is the same God today as He was 2,000 years ago when He told the wind and the sea to obey Him. He is waiting for you to realize the God who commands the sea is in the storm with you, sitting in the boat, quietly reassuring you and asking you to have faith He is stronger than the storm.

Fix your eyes on Him. No matter what uncertainties you are facing, all of who He is will always be all you truly need. He is all we can depend on in such a world of trouble. We are given a choice between living a life of chaos and uncertainty or clinging to the hope of Jesus, who is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Julia Bennett is a senior in high school.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Adopted + Mountain People + Pray

Adopted + Mountain People + Pray
Points to pray on behalf of our adopted Mountain People

On May 24, 2015, Ridgecrest adopted two people groups, the Phunoi and the Akha, who live in SE Asia. Upon doing this, we agreed -- as a church -- to show them the Light of Jesus. Pastor Chad said, "Maybe we can't all go, but we can pray. We can give financially." 

Many of you took magnets and wrist bands as reminders to pray for these people. Our missions pastor, James Copeland, has shared, below, ways in which EACH OF US can pray on behalf of our adopted people groups.

1. Pray for God to soften and prepare hearts to hear the Gospel.

2. Pray for God to raise up people among the Mountain People who will be curious and interested in hearing the story of the Gospel.

3. Pray for opportunities for Scripture translation among these people.

4. Pray for God to send workers to these people. 

5. Pray for wisdom for Ridgecrest, as we develop methods of presenting the Gospel to the Mountain People.

6. Pray for finances to be readily available to send teams to Southeast Asia.

7. Pray for God to begin working in the hearts of some who could one day come to know Jesus, and lead others in the villages to Jesus.

8. Pray that God will open the hearts of the governmental leaders to the Gospel.

9. Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant church among the mountain people for the glory of His name.

10. Pray that Ridgecrest #rbcMissions teams will have favor with the government, as well as with the people in the villages.

11. Pray for the development of "The Hope" video project, as this will make it possible for many to hear the Gospel.

12. Pray for God to prepare people from Ridgecrest to go to the Mountain People, whether short-term or long-term.

13. Pray for many Mountain People to respond to the message of the Gospel.

14. Pray against the darkness of Buddhism and tribal religions, that the truth of the Gospel would shine brightly.

Encouragement | He Is Personal

Encouragement from the Character of God

He Is Personal
by: Julia Bennett

The Almighty God, Creator of the world, is everlasting, all-powerful and sovereign, yet He chooses to step down to our level and get in our lives.

Through scripture we see that God didn’t just create the world and let it continue on without Him, as some believe. From the beginning of time He interacted with mankind on a personal level. In Genesis, He was watching out for the first man and going above and beyond to meet his needs. The fact that the God who created us puts us at the forefront of His mind is nothing less than incredible. 

God showed that He cared for people and the details of our lives all the way through the Old Testament, using ordinary people for extraordinary things. The greatest example of His desire to know us intimately and personally came 2,000 years ago, in the New Testament, when He humbled Himself to take the form of His creation (Philippians 2:5-8). 

He became a man. 

Jesus was the embodiment of God in the flesh, He bridged the gap between heaven and earth so we can access God through Jesus anytime. All we must do is follow Him. God coming to us, to live in and through us, is the most personal thing He could possibly do. 

“He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth,” (John 1:10-14).

God pursues all of humanity, drawing us to Himself. Many reject Him. But knowing He personally desires every person is key (2 Peter 3:9). He cares for you. He does not just "like" you sometimes, but He is fully head-over-heels in love with you. If you are in Christ, that means you have a personal moment-to-moment relationship with Him. He not only cares about our hearts and our eternal destination, but He cares about each detail of our lives. 

Knowing He cares about the details of our lives is encouraging because we can be confident He has not forgotten us. He is in control. We are not alone. Did you hear that? You are not alone. You are loved. You are treasured. Even when other people move on and leave you, God is still there to reassure you of your value. He is there in the storms to hold your hand and lead you. Trust Him, walk with Him and know the Lord of all creation loves you personally.