Friday, July 25, 2014

News To Use.

July 25, 2014

Happy Friday to you!

I'm currently a foster parent for a cat. We're working on sleep schedules. Last night was the perfect example of what doesn't work. He was awake ALL night. Alllll night. Meowing and talking and probably complaining and saying unpleasantries about my name. Yet ONE minute before I had to rise and shine, he crawled under my bed in the very spot I cannot reach. Know how I know I can't reach it? I tried. Several times. I didn't think it appropriate that he was going to bed in a super quiet spot as I was starting my day. We both know he's at home, curled up and sleeping, right? Er.

In other more relevant-to-you news:

1) Pastor Hosea is preaching in the Worship Center on Sunday! #BeHere at 9 or 10:30 a.m. or 6:30 p.m. Pastor Chad is preaching in the FC on Sunday! #BeHere at 10:30 a.m. for TEN31 Modern Worship. Watch his sermon preview video now:

2) Speaking of Pastor Hosea + Sunday, I know you have stories to tell about him. And his ministry at Ridgecrest. On Sunday, visit a Welcome Center and pick up a blank binder page. Take it home. Write out some stories. Bring it back M-F to the receptionist desk or take it to The Bilyeu Revue on Saturday. A memory book will be presented to him at the end of the Revue.

3) Speaking of The Bilyeu Revue, this celebration is Aug. 2, 2-4 p.m., at Remington's. 2-3 p.m. is a meet, greet and mingle time. 3-4 p.m. is a roast of Pastor Hosea. Fun will be had!

4) Speaking of fun, YOUNG ADULTS!!! Last Sunday Breakfast is Sunday at 9 a.m. at Remington's. Word on the street is that pancakes will be eaten. Yummm. p.s. I had a great time at the Scavenger Hunt last Sunday. To see pictures and videos, visit #PartOfTheWinningTeam

5) As I type this, we have 63 tickets available for the Hosea Bilyeu Family Concert on Aug. 17. All tickets are for 11 a.m. Once again, if you have extras you will not use, please please please bring them back to the receptionist desk ASAP.

6) Are you striving for a Christ-centered life, seven days a week? Have you thought about teaching a Small Group? Or being more involved in leading a Small Group? Our annual Small Group Kickoff for Small Group leaders is Aug. 3, 2-5 p.m., in the FC. The kickoff is for anyone already involved or anyone wanting to serve in our discipleship ministry, including with rbckids or rbcstudents.

7) We are having a Back-to-School Supplies Drive for Jeffries Elementary. Bring school supplies on Aug. 3. Collection bins will be at the main entrances. See list of needed goods in Sunday's bulletin/service folder.

Questions? Send me an email.


Friday, June 13, 2014

Big Prayers

Do you trust God?

We like to say we do, don't we? In TEN31 Worship a few weeks ago, I had to stop singing. Craig was leading us in "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)." Great song. Beautiful. But something happened at, "Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander. And my faith will be made stronger. In the presence of my Savior." I could either continue singing with a smile on my face and a bold-faced lie on my lips or stop.

Increasing faith is hard. Hear me: God has done marvelous, wonderful, awesome things in my life. Things no one else could have done. He has given me peace and love and laughter in all sorts of heartbreak. He has guided me through decisions when both options seemed great.

Yet. Some days it feels like God has me on a straight-up mountain, pushing me toward battle after battle. Telling me to trust Him right before I get sucker-punched and lose again. My across-the-hall officemate, Pastor Wayne, and I were talking about this the other day. He asked if I had seen "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade." I said no. (side note: As I was retelling this to Brandi, she stopped me and said, "Wait. You've never watched 'Indiana Jones'?" We are friends only because of God. Yesterday, she sent me an email with a link to a list of things emotionally unavailable people deal with. I think it was a hint. I digress.)

Wayne talked specifically about a point in the movie where Indiana reads a clue that forces him to take a leap of faith by jumping across a canyon to a cliff a distance away (I just watched this clip on youtube). Wayne said, "Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith with God. Otherwise, He won't show you that bridge."

Yesterday, Dr. Chad Grayson, our senior pastor candidate, reiterated something that has been huge in the wilderness journey God has me going through. If such and such happens in my life, I want nothing less than to know God did it. I want to see God come through SO big that I -- and those around me -- know He is the Lord our God. What has surprised me is how little faith some Christians have when I tell them parts of my story and say, "I am waiting for God to do it." They say, "Well, have you said this or that? Have you done that or this?" No. I haven't. They continue, "Nothing will ever happen then." After one such conversation, I woke up at midnight, questioning God, "Are my prayers too big for You?" True story. I all but asked our Lord, the one who made Heaven and Earth, the one who knit me together, "Is this too much for You to handle?"

Do you trust God? On those days when everything you see is the opposite of what God has promised, do you wait in faith, knowing God will come through? On those days when your heart is tender and the battle continues to rage, when you're shaking your head, asking God, "What is going on?" do you wait for Him?

I wish I could say, "YES!" But, again with the lies. I am thankful I was hushed during that song a few Sundays ago because my heart cried out, "This is real, God." What's more, I cannot begin to tell you how honored I am God has sought me out, that He would be patient and take the time, that He would remain strong and faithful and GOOD while I question every good thing about Him. I'm still reading Deuteronomy. I still have not reached that land God has promised. But I am hopeful.

"If I am willing to put my life in God's hands, God then has to take the responsibility of using my life for His glory," Louie Giglio (who just happens to be one of this year's speakers at The Global Leadership Summit!). #excited

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Alex Dowell's Manly Blog: Change Agents

Change Agents
A Manly Blog by: ALEX DOWELL

Alex Dowell.
Hey guys. Funny thing I noticed about this blog. Right after I wrote the "Unashamed" post last July about the Robertsons from "Duck Dynasty," the thumbnail photo with my headshot suddenly showed me with a beard. I was subliminally influenced, and I didn’t notice until just now! Actually I was growing the beard before the post; it was just a month before we took a new picture. It was just a small change. 

In other news, I’m back to writing after a three month hiatus. And a lot can happen in three months.

Personally, I was accepted to a long-term position as a campus staff member with Cru (witnessing to and mentoring college students for Jesus! Woot!). I started dating a wonderful, God-fearing woman who lives in Colorado (we share an interest in hiking up giant rock structures). And I moved from the house where I spent the past year rooming with one of my closest friends (He was married last weekend!) Lots of change.

There are major changes in our church, as well. Soon we will say goodbye to two beloved men who have ministered and served our church with all of their hearts for years. We are about to welcome a senior pastor candidate who may soon be the next leader of Ridgecrest. We also started using a different brand of coffee in the Young Adults Small Group classroom (an upgrade in my opinion). Any major shifts or minor joking aside, the point is change is inevitable.

This is not revelatory information. Pastor Hosea Bilyeu preached on this exact point recently, but I believe it needs to be reiterated as much as possible at a time like this in our church’s life. Ridgecrest does not look like it did 30 years ago. And that’s a good thing. My life does not look like it did three years, or even three months, ago. This, also, is a very good thing. We struggle against change so often, but many times it is eventually beneficial if not immediately healthy for us.

The change and growth that has happened, and will continue to happen, in the life of our church is actually a microcosm of a greater reality. The reality is this: The Christian life is predicated on change. As believers, we should desire it. Through Christ’s blood we changed from sinners to saints, new creations in Christ. The vision of God is to change the earth from its corrupted, broken condition to a renewed paradise where He will dwell with His people. And He wants to use His new creations to help lead others to be changed by His Holy Spirit just as we are.

The call then for us as believers and men of God is to serve Him wholeheartedly in the process of change He is seeking to accomplish in this world. If we are thinking of our jobs, our families or our church as components of our own personal heavens on earth, we are pitifully missing the point. That being said, we don’t change on a whim for the sake of mixing things up. In the example of our own church’s transition, the whole decision to change is based upon seeking the wisdom of God and believing He is the one orchestrating it for His glory.

So, the question I pose to you now, men of Ridgecrest: How will you continue to be an agent of positive growth in the life of our church during this intense season of change? The hardest part is about to arrive. The way we lead in our families, small groups, communities, friendships and acquaintances determines how we will share in what God desires to do through us at this time. Let’s commit to something real that can make an actual difference and bring glory to our Father.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

What I Wish Somebody Would Have Told Me | Michael Wilbanks


Christianity: We are sinful and run away from God, yet we are fully and completely accepted by Jesus as we are in order to save us and bring us into a relationship with the LORD. 

Michael Wilbanks
When I graduated from high school, what I wish someone would have told me is this: I wish someone would have clearly told me how to have a relationship with God, how to know Him personally. So here are four simple truths:

1. God loves you and created you to know Him personally. He has a wonderful plan for your life. (John 3:16, John 17:3)

2. People are sinful and separated from God, so we cannot know Him personally or experience His love and plan. (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23)

3. Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for our sin. Through Him alone we can know God personally and experience God’s love and plan. (Romans 5:8, 1 Corinthians 15:3-6, John 14:6)

4. It is not enough to just know these three previous truths. We must individually receive Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord; then we can know God personally and experience His love and plan. (John 1:12, Ephesians 2:8-9, John 3:1-8, Revelation 3:20)

Receiving Christ involves turning to God from self and trusting Christ to come into our lives to forgive us of our sins and to make us into who He wants us to be. Just to agree intellectually that Jesus Christ is the son of God and that He died on the cross for our sins is not enough. Nor is it enough to have an emotional experience. We receive Jesus Christ by faith, as an act of the will.

Jesus must become the center of your daily life. It must not just be something you do or a place you go. It is not going to church on Sundays or on special holidays. The Christian life is the one that is entrusted to Christ and surrendered to Him daily and throughout the day. We are yielding to our desires and wants and placing God’s desires and wants in our hearts.

If you don’t treasure Jesus, you need a new heart. You need to surrender your life to Him and be reborn. Jesus promises to send us the Holy Spirit to live inside of us and to help us discern God’s plan for our lives. We are promised the Holy Spirit when we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior.

God knows your heart and is not concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. Praying allows us to talk to the God of the universe! Pray on your own, pray with others and pray for others.

Do not depend on feelings, but trust in God’s promises in the Bible. The Bible has to be our ultimate authority on everything -- big and small -- in life.

Recap: When Christ comes into your life, yours sins are forgiven, you become a child of God, you receive eternal life and everlasting relationship with God, and you begin the great adventure for which God created you! Don’t take these for granted.

Growth: Go to God in prayer daily. (John 15:7)

Read God’s word daily. (Acts 17:11)

Obey God moment by moment. (John 14:21)

Witness for Christ by your life and words. (Matthew 4:19, John 15:8)

Trust God for every detail of your life. (1 Peter 5:7)

Allow the Holy Spirit to control and empower your daily life and witness. (Galatians 5:16-17, Acts 1:8)