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Friday, November 21, 2014

Thankful Me | Jessica Saunders



Thankful Me 
by: Jessica (Stone) Saunders

When I start to think about everything I’m thankful for, I always start to think about the little things. Pretty soon the little things add up to create bigger things, landscapes of gratitude, mountains of grace—so many things to be thankful for that this heart of mine can’t process it all through clear eyes. There’s breath in my lungs. A structure to call home. Loving husband. Supportive family. Loyal friends. Quiet Saturday mornings. Grace after tough conversations. Sunshine. Rain. The ability to see, hear, taste, touch, smell. I could go on and on.

A beautiful element of being thankful is that it’s contagious. Thankfulness breeds thankfulness. There are plenty of times I’ve not felt thankful, but felt the opposite: bitter, negative, cynical, ungrateful. (And those qualities all breed more of themselves too.) It’s in those times of gunk that being thankful is the most crucial. Being thankful forces me to look through a different lens than my “to-do” lens or my “nothing’s going right” lens. It is impossible for me to be truly thankful and bitter or cynical at the same time. One will eventually win. How I view my life—my circumstances and situations—completely affects whether I am thankful me or bitter me.

I can choose an anxious, overwhelmed, grumpy, bitter me. And too often—honestly, transparently—I do. That me is the easiest, most convenient me. It comes naturally, from the fleshly, human part of me. It doesn’t require discipline, or anchoring to a greater Source. But this me also misses out on the beauty of the little things, the precious, treasured moments and details that come from the gracious Hand of our Creator.

Really, thankful me comes down to two things: choosing to be thankful and shifting my perspective. It takes a conscious effort, a deliberate decision to recognize and give thanks for the blessings—and the not-so-blessings—all around me. It isn’t necessarily an easy choice to make, being thankful; but the more I choose to be thankful, the easier it becomes. In choosing to be thankful, I choose to change my perspective. Instead of focusing on the mountain, I notice all of the beauty during the climb and thank the Creator for those glimpses of hope along the way. Rather than throwing a fit about the waves crashing down all around, I respond in faith and thank the Calmer of the storms for an opportunity to trust Him.

Thankful me may not be the easiest, but it is the boldest, most humble, most positive me. Thankful me is the best me I can be. It’s the me I choose to be.

Jessica Saunders was an associate in rbcstudents before being called to Tennessee. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Thankful Me | Whitney Lett



Thankful Me
by: Whitney Lett

“Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus,” (I Thessalonians 5:18).

As the leaves begin to change and the air turns brisk, I begin to think about what I am thankful for. The above verse is one I learned as a child, and it remains one of my favorites. Recently, I realized I wasn’t really embracing what it says. I’m a pretty thankful person for the most part, but there are those two little pesky words that were tripping me up, "in everything."

It is easy to fall into the woe-is-me attitude during the child-raising years. We’re tired. Our schedules are crazy. Every day is made up of the same wash, rinse and repeat cycle. Before we know it, we are in a perpetual state of discontent with everything and everyone around us. Eventually our ungratefulness spills over to our entire household. What’s an overwhelmed momma to do?

Begin by putting on your own oxygen mask! When I’m at my worst I’m not reading Scripture. I’m not lifting my situation up in prayer. And I’m certainly not encouraging my family to do the same. When I find myself in this situation here are the steps I take:

1. Read the Word. Not the easiest thing with little ones, but if you get creative, you can make it happen. There’s always the get-up-before-the kids method, but I fail miserably with that. Try keeping Scripture handy, like a New Testament in the bathroom. I’ve become quite skilled at reading and brushing my teeth.

2. Listen to Praise Music. It’s hard to be in an ungrateful state when you have praise music on. If crazy is reigning supreme at your house, just crank up the music.

3. Be Still. Nap times and early bed times were made just for tired mommas. Take advantage of them. When the kids go down, you slow down too. It’s the perfect time to just close your eyes and talk to the Father. Don’t worry about the endless tasks that need to be done. They will still be there when you open your eyes.

When I diligently pursue these areas, my focus begins to center on what is important. And what is important is that Christ has taken upon Himself every wicked thing I’ve done and replaced it with life everlasting. He has chosen me to live the life I’ve been given, craziness and all, and I can choose to be thankful in everything.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Happenings! Oct. 17, 2014

Happy Friday to you!

1) We have a concert in the Worship Center on Saturday! Twila Paris, Steve Green and our choir will be performing Oct. 18 at 6:30 p.m. Tickets available at the doors. General admission is $20 or $10 for children under 3.

2) Our annual rbcstudents Chili Cookoff is Nov. 9 at 12 p.m. Tickets will go on sale Oct. 26. Cost is $5 for those 12+, $3 for those under 12 or $20 for a family. We need your chili! Prizes will be given. Categories are: Little Girl, Slightly Spicy and Blazing Hot. Sign up at the table in the foyer on Oct. 26 or contact Emilee Garrison at emilee@ridgecrestbaptist.org. ALL PROCEEDS go to rbcstudents Mission projects. This is a great Small Group fellowship.

3) Remington's needs our help! On Sunday at 1:45 p.m., the Friends of the Library book sale will be taking boxes of books off the trucks and setting up the sale. Anyone can help. In other words, we have lots of jobs for lots of abilities. Show up unannounced at 1:45 p.m. on Sunday. If you have questions, email Joy Steele at joysteele@gmail.com. Let's serve our church and community, eh???

4) On Sunday, we will be in Week 2 of talking about worship during our worship services. Watch the original sermon preview video now: http://j.mp/1plw1x3.

5) Speaking of Sunday, Oct. 19 is the final day to bring food for our food drive to benefit Grand Oak Mission and our community. Bring non-perishable food and show our neighbors big love! Collection bins at main entrances.

6) Read the bulletin. Read the newsletter.

Questions? Let us know.

Julie

jjohnson@ridgecrestbaptist.org

Friday, September 26, 2014

Remaining Hopeful.

Remaining Hopeful. 

Monday. I was ready to leave for work; however, I couldn't find my keys or my phone. So I looked in alllll the usual spots. On the counter, in my closet, in my purse, in my work bag, in my purse, on the counter, my pockets. After 10 minutes, I was reassured by one thought: My car was in the garage. Keys would have been a necessity. I walked back to my closet, picked up the previous day's shoes. And found both my keys and my phone. Interesting placement. Drove to work. Parked. Leaned over to grab my lunch only to find no lunch to be grabbed. I forgot my packed lunch. (sigh) Went home at lunchtime to retrieve said lunch. Came back to work. Finished the day. Decided to drive to a new-to-me hair salon and make an appointment.

I couldn't find it. #awesome

Tuesday. I was eating my lunch and heard a knock at the door. Went to see who was visiting. Lo and behold, it was my across-the-hall buddy, Pastor Wayne. "Were you looking for these?" he said, holding my office keys. "No, " I said, being all honest. I hadn't missed them at all. "This never happens, huh?" Wayne has a great memory of previous conversations, especially when he's able to drive home a point.

I told him all about looking for that salon and how I had looked at the map on their website and how Monday was really an off day. Well. Come to find out, Wayne was the person I needed to talk to. I, apparently, went the exact opposite way down Republic Road in which I should have. And he knows the owner! #SoMuchForInternetMaps

My mom has a saying for me. "Oh, Julie." I think maybe God uses it too. "Oh, Julie." And I think maybe God says things like, "Julie, you are a bundle of entertainment, but you have to quit your doubting Me." Or. "Julie, you have a way about you, but you have to remember I am Lord of your life."

And He sends me messages throughout the day to remind me. "Persevere." "I want to use you greatly, but we need to go through some things first." "Be strong and courageous." "I am with you. I know what's going on. I know your heart." "Do not quit. Do not lose heart." "I am doing things you know nothing about." "I.know.your.heart." "Trust me."

Hear me. I want to be that woman who charges on fully aware of Jesus in my life. But then I lose five battles in a row. And the majority of those battles are named "Goliath," and I know God has sent them my way. And I know He knows my heart. And that gives Him lots of ammunition.

And I say, "This is dumb, God. This pain in my heart." And He catches my breath. And calls it a sin. I stumble and sputter and become one of those people who spat in His face. Because I'm mad and hurting and, in that teeny tiny moment, just want it to stop.

I'm still in the Old Testament. On Wednesday, I read 1 Samuel 29. David is trying his darndest to find a safe place in the world, away from Saul, who is set on killing him. The Lord calls David to do some crazy, funny things. For example, Saul is going wee wee in a cave, right? And David goes in and cuts part of his robe. On another night, Saul is sleeping with protectors all around, a spear and a jar of water at his head. David and a buddy go and take the spear and jar o' water. Each time, David says to Saul, "Saul-man, I could have killed you. You were within arm's reach. Take notice I didn't only because you are God's appointed." In Wednesday's reading, David was feeling pretty good about his current residence, but the Philistines weren't having it. They banished him. David, this man who defeated Goliath by God's power. David, this man who was CALLED BY GOD to do amazing things and to become KING. David is running for his life, and he cannot catch a break.

I am not comparing myself to David.

All I'm saying is it's reassuring to know David -- DAVID from the Bible -- must have had some of the same conversations I do with the Lord. "Um, God? I know you've said this and that, I know how you've done this and that. But you know he's playing with real weapons, right?" Or. "God, I really believe in my heart you said this months ago. But, God, the story isn't looking so good. If You really want it to happen, You are going to have to do something."

In Deuteronomy 29:2-4, Moses says to Israel, “You have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, and those great wonders. But to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear."

I don't know why. What I do know is for the past year, my prayer has been, "I want to know You have done it, Lord." So, I work to "remain hopeful and expectant as [I] wait with perseverance," @Jesus_Calling.

by: Julie Johnson