Jesus is Risen Indeed

Jesus is Risen Indeed

Holy Week 2022

Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. – Matthew 28:5-6

Today is Resurrection Sunday, and to celebrate, I’d like to offer four practical implications of the resurrection. In other words, four ways that the empty tomb ought to be huge for us today.

First, because of the resurrection, we are justified in Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:17 teaches us that if there is no resurrection then we are still in our sins. Put positively, that means that because there is a resurrection, we (those who trust in Christ) are not in our sins anymore. If your hope is in Christ alone, you are forgiven. You are justified in Christ. The resurrection means that you are no longer in your sins.

Second, if you are in Christ then, because of the resurrection, you have new life. I know that because of Romans 6:4, which says: We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. So being made alive in Christ is tied to his resurrection. We have newness of life because the tomb is empty and our Lord is risen.

Third, we have future hope. Jesus made the case for this many times. One of the clearest is in John 11:25. Jesus said,

I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?

Because of Jesus’ resurrection, everyone who believes in Christ overcomes the grave. That’s real and everlasting hope! Do you believe this?

And finally, because Jesus is alive and has conquered death once and for all, we have in Christ a treasure above all else. Consider Ephesians 2:1-10 to help see this:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Does that not make you want to treasure Christ? To sing to your risen Lord, worthy is the lamb who was slain? To follow him with your life?

Jesus is risen, my friends. He is risen indeed.

The SwissMiss Team and Poland

The SwissMiss Team and Poland

Missions Word in Season

Dear Church Family,

As you may know, Ridgeview is sending a missions team to Switzerland to help our missionaries there with various ministries. The team leaves tomorrow morning from Chadron. I am writing this to ask you to consider doing two things to support this effort.

First, please commit to praying for the team and the various ministries they will be doing. Pray for safety and for fruitfulness and that the Lord will work in the team as well as through them. The team will participate in many ministries, including serving with a church in Germany, working with missionary students from Latin America, completing some projects on the Movida campus, and helping respond to the Ukraine refugee crisis in Poland.

That last point is a new development. The Swiss Movida team is seeking the Lord’s wisdom as to how they can respond to the crisis in a way that shows the love of Christ to people who are downtrodden and in great need. The plan as it stands now is that a few will split off from the rest of the team and travel with Movida staff to a border town in Poland and work with a local church providing humanitarian aid to the refugees who are pouring over the border from Ukraine. Maya, my wife, will be going with them as a translator. Please pray fervently that the Lord bring much fruit from this, and provide safety for the team.

The second thing is to consider helping financially – if you are able – both with the extra expenses needed for travel and lodging and the humanitarian aid/supplies that the team will be distributing in Poland. Obviously, these things were not considered when the team planned its original budget, so Movida and our team need additional funds for this. You can give online by going to our giving page (click here). Please be sure to note that it is for the Ukrainian refugee crisis (or just write “SwissMiss” in the notes).

May the Lord be glorified, and many people helped, through these efforts.

In Christ,
Pastor Mike

Three Reasons to Pray for Ukraine

Three Reasons to Pray for Ukraine

Word in Season

You probably have heard by now that the President of the Russian Federation has declared war on its smaller and peaceful neighbor, Ukraine. What had been building for months – cloaked in sinister euphemisms and deceit – has given way to open war as Russian missiles and artillery bombard cities, and invading troops pour across the border.

As I write this, Ukraine is feeling the full brunt of the Russian armed forces (against which Ukrainian forces are no match). With this post, I’d like to call on American Christians to pray, especially the Christians of Ridgeview Bible Church.

Here are three reasons.

First, this war will surely bring about massive destruction and suffering for the people of Ukraine. In a war like this, it is not only soldiers who will die. Cities will be destroyed and villages will be wiped from the earth and law and order in this normally peaceful country will be massively disrupted. Refugees and displaced persons will flee across the borders into the countries that neighbor Ukraine to the West, and we are seeing this even now. Homelessness will abound, and many will likely freeze. As I preached in a sermon a few weeks ago, Christians care about this kind of suffering, so we should pray for Ukraine.

Second, pray because the world is much smaller than it sometimes feels. Ukraine is a long way away from Nebraska and many of us have never been there. Some would have difficulty finding it on a map. But history teaches us that wars like this in Europe seldom stay a long way away. Pray to the Lord, the One who is sovereign over nations, that this war does not lead to a much greater war, involving many more countries, and bringing about catastrophic suffering and loss of life in the world.

Third, pray for Ukraine because our brothers and sisters are there. The church in Ukraine will surely suffer during this war. Pray for the believers and for their families. Pray for ex-pat missionaries who have decided to remain (I know a few personally!), and for the witness of Christ in the region. Pray for those who will soon enter a season of persecution, that they might have strength and that they remain faithful to Jesus, and that many others will “become much more bold to speak the word without fear. (Phil 1:14)” on account of their faithfulness.

My brothers and sisters, I urge you to pray for Ukraine.

The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. – Psalm 9:9

End-of-the-Year Members’ Meeting

End-of-the-Year Members’ Meeting

Word in Season

Dear Church Family,

Thank you for participating in the members’ meeting last night (December 5). We enjoyed a sweet time of fellowship and thoughtful conversation about the church; our ministries, vision, finances and the church’s constitution. I’m thankful to the Lord for the atmosphere of unity and humility and the deep love that was present for the Bride of Christ.

Many shared ministry reports. How encouraging it was to hear the joyful accounts of VBS and conferences and home groups and FCA and student ministries and Sunday School and missions and children’s church and AWANA and the many Bible studies in 2021 and more.

I delivered the elders’ report, sharing our thankfulness to God for many answered prayers in 2021, and our commitment to focus mainly on three areas in the coming year: evangelism, discipleship, and fellowship.

Evangelism because “it has pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe (1 Corinthians 1:21).” Our world and our community need Jesus Christ, and the hope that comes only through him and his death on the cross and his triumphant resurrection. We want to spread that good news, and the fame of Christ’s name, in 2022!

Discipleship because, in God’s love and wisdom, he has designed us to grow together. So, in 2022 we will press into what it means to be a people committed to “teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in our hearts to God (Colossians 3:16)” in both formal and informal ways.

And fellowship because we are a family, and families need to spend time together. If the last couple of years of pandemic craziness has taught us anything, it is that fellowship is vital. We sense that “all the more as we see the Day drawing near (Hebrews 10:25).”

I also shared that the elders are putting forward Cole Wyatt as the new elder candidate, believing him to be biblically qualified (see 1 Timothy 3:1-7). Cole plans to share his testimony during the gathering this coming Sunday, and the church will meet to vote on December 19, following the worship service. We are inviting members to share any concerns or questions they have about Cole’s candidacy with an elder before the meeting on December 19.

Sam Parker shared details about the church’s finances, and our thankfulness to the Lord for his provision in 2021. He also presented the 2022 budget proposal, and the church voted unanimously to approve it. We proposed two minor constitutional amendments. One passed unanimously. The second we tabled after a few members helpfully suggested wording changes. The elders agree with these suggestions and will present this for vote also on December 19.

We then adjourned the meeting and made our way to the RidgeRoom for a wonderful potluck dinner and a time of sweet fellowship. What an encouraging Sunday night this was!

As we come to the end of 2021, my heart is full of gratitude to God and I am so humbled at how merciful and gracious he is towards us. I am grateful to the Lord for his church, and this local church especially. I look forward to 2022 with hopeful anticipation. May the Lord Jesus Christ be made much of among us and by us, for his glory alone.

In Christ,
Pastor Mike, for the Elder Team

An Open Letter to Parade Organizers

An Open Letter to Parade Organizers

Word in Season

Dear Community Leaders,

First off, I have to say that I love the 4th of July parade that is hosted by the Crawford Chamber of Commerce each year. My children love that parade. My friends love that wonderful parade. It has fast become a tradition for our family to make the short drive over from Chadron and set up folding chairs on a shady corner and watch the fire trucks, horse-drawn buggies, classic cars and those zippety go-carts pass by. When my children were small, they would come home with a bag of candy. Thank you for organizing this first-class parade year after year.

The reason I am writing to you now is because I just learned that the parade this year will be held on Sunday morning at 10AM. As you likely know, that presents an issue for churches, as that is precisely the time when most churches gather for weekly worship. For many – myself included – this is a sacred time, set aside each and every week to worship the Lord.

I love America and I love the 4th of July and I love parades. But if I have to choose between going to a parade and gathering with the church, I will choose the church every time. My point with this letter is that I am saddened that I have to make that choice this coming Sunday. My children are saddened. Many of the members of the church I serve as pastor are saddened.

But alas, there is a solution. You could, as a courtesy to churches and Christian worshippers and deference to this sacred time of worship on the Lord’s Day, reschedule the parade to 1PM on Sunday. That change would allow people like me to both attend worship on Sunday and also make it over to the parade to celebrate our independence as a nation. I’m sure that a change up at this late stage would create some difficulties, but I am just as sure that rescheduling will mean many more spectators for the parade. And I think it will be a welcomed kindness to churches in the surrounding community.

Also, the weather should be mild this coming Sunday, even at 1PM.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and consider this request. May the Lord continue to richly bless America.

Sincerely,

Pastor Mike Johnson
Ridgeview Bible Church

My Writing Leave – Don’t Call Me, but Please Do Pray…

My Writing Leave – Don’t Call Me, but Please Do Pray…

Announcements Word in Season

On Monday, Lord-willing, I will “go away” for two weeks of writing leave. I put scare quotes around “go away” because I’m actually staying in Chadron (shhhh!) for these weeks to make the endeavor less of a burden on my family. For me, the leave will mean being free of church responsibilities for two weeks. I won’t be preaching or counseling or having meetings or handling church matters or being available in general from June 14 to June 27.

I’m grateful to the Ridgeview elders for granting me this leave, and I thought it would be good for me to explain to you what this is all about.

First, it is not a vacation. I do have one of those coming up later this summer, but I won’t be resting during these upcoming two weeks. If anything, I will be more busy; but with a different sort of work.

I have a few specific goals for these two weeks. The really big one is to finish a major writing project that I have been struggling to write for the last two years. A college science professor and I have undertaken a book together countering theistic evolution. He is writing from a scientific standpoint, demonstrating that genuine science does not, in fact, require that informed, intelligent, non-science-denying Christians buy into the claims of those today who are promoting the theory of evolution.

I am writing from a theological standpoint, demonstrating the incompatibility of a truly biblical worldview (and the gospel!) with the views and claims of theistic evolution. Our target audience will be Christian college students, and our hope is that this work will help some students as they encounter professors who are hostile to the biblical understanding of Creation (along with many other of the Bible’s teachings). We want to produce a book that might help college students keep the faith while in college.

The good professor is nearly done with his part (and he should be – they only work about half the year, ya know!). All that is left is for the theologian to take up his pen and finish his part. Please pray that I will finish this project, and that the Lord will make it fruitful.

Another goal of mine is to create a better outline for another book project rolling around in my head. This one is about the first 7 years as a lead pastor. It’s still forming, but my hope is to provide an easy-to-read book aimed at incoming pastors to help them walk through their first season of pastoral ministry. I’d like to share a few of the mistakes that I have made and lessons the Lord has taught me during my first 7 years in a way that might be helpful to new pastors. I am also eager to share the joys of this early season, that make every tear and heartache of a new pastorate totally worth it.

Some other, fairly optimistic goals are in the mix too. 1) I’d like to read a couple of really good books. 2) I’d like spend some time reading and praying about upcoming preaching projects (Habakkuk, the rest of 1 John, where we will go next, etc.). And 3) I plan to spend a lot of time praying for the church, for the ministry in Chadron, and for… you.

Which leads me to the big burden of this post. I would like to ask that you pray for me during these two weeks. Pray for focus and productivity and a clear head and few interruptions. Pray that from these two weeks, the Lord bring genuine fruit for his glory and the good of others. And pray for those who are taking up the slack with preaching and church ministry, etc..

Do pray. Please and thank you!

Introducing The Ridgeview Podcast

Introducing The Ridgeview Podcast

Announcements

Do you listen to podcasts? It’s a great way to use windshield time or to make the most out of your run. We produce a weekly one that is super helpful, covering a broad range of mostly church-related topics. Here is the published description:

The Ridgeview Podcast is a weekly podcast hosted and produced by the staff, leaders, and members of Ridgeview Bible Church. It focuses on Theology, contemporary issues, church life, and other mildly helpful but quirky and nerdy stuff.

Click here to check it out!

Creation to the Cross – A New Bible Study Coming Soon!

Creation to the Cross – A New Bible Study Coming Soon!

Announcements

The Bible is not a massive collection of unrelated stories. It is one unfolding narrative of God’s saving grace. Join us in this powerful study to learn how all the events of the Bible – from creation to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – fit together to tell the greatest story in the universe; that God so loved the world.

The intro session will be December 15 @ 6:30PM in the Worship Center. The weekly study will begin on January 15. This would be a great class to invite friends and family to, especially those who would like to learn more about the Bible.

What: A weekly Bible study focusing on the unfolding narrative of the Bible.
When: Tuesday nights from 6:30-7:30 (Intro class on December 15, then weekly from Jan 15).
Who: This is a class for anyone desiring to learn more about the Bible! Pastor Mike Johnson & Cody Trump are the teachers.
Where: The Worship Center of Ridgeview Bible Church

*Child care provided and there will be a Zoom-in option available by sign up.

Meet Lyubov Zheleva

Meet Lyubov Zheleva

Missions

Recently, the elders tasked the missions committee to find a new home for support that we were giving to a missionary couple who returned permanently from the field. The committee recommended that we support two pretty amazing people: Tanya Batueva (whom we introduced here) and Lyubov Zheleva. With this post, I’m happy to introduce you to Lyubov, and I am so glad we are a part of her support team.

Lyubov served alongside a Ridgeview mission team to Bulgaria a few years ago. She also visited Ridgeview last year, and even served as part of the worship team for a Sunday gathering. So, many of us have met her. Lyubov is Bulgarian, and she is now serving as a missionary to Bulgarian young people with Josiah Venture. Here is Lyubov sharing her new ministry in her own words:

Friends, it is so humbling to look back and see how God has been preparing me for this. Nothing in my life has brought more delight and joy than stepping into His will for me. Oh, how tirelessly God has pursued me; how privileged I am to call myself his servant, his friend, his daughter. My Father has saved me, is sanctifying me, and is now sending me… on a mission at home! I am sent on a mission with Him- to find the lost, to disciple the found and build up the church!

Besides serving as a local youth leader at my home church in Asenovgrad, I am particularly excited to step on board as the Bulgaria Intern Director!

Let’s commit to pray for Lyubov as she continues to raise support for this ministry and as she serves to bring the gospel to Bulgarian young people. May God bring much fruit from this, for his glory among the nations! Also, if you would like to support Lyubov, either with a one-time gift or monthly, you could give your gift to Ridgeview with a clear designation and we will make sure the funds get to Lyubov.

 

Meet Tanya Batueva

Meet Tanya Batueva

Missions

As I mentioned yesterday during the service, the Missions Committee has recommended, and the elders have approved, monthly financial support for two new missionaries: Tanya Batueva, en-route to Asia-Pacific; and Lyubov Zheleva serving in Bulgaria. Today, Tanya will introduce herself, and later this week we will spotlight Lyubov. Please be praying for both Tanya and Lyubov as they continue to prepare and to raise support for their respective ministries.  Without further ado, here is Tanya in her own words:

Hello Ridgeview! My Name is Tanya Batueva. I was born in Siberia during the Soviet Union times and grew up with the notion that there is no God. With the break-up of the Soviet Union, the iron curtain fell and many missionaries came to Russia. That’s how I learned about Christ’s love for me – through the ministry of missionaries! Their example taught me about God’s plan for the Church and later directed me to missions. In 2017, God opened a door for me to train for ministry – focusing on Bible translation. Now I am getting ready to go to the Asia-Pacific region to church-plant among unreached people groups and to translate the Bible into their heart language.

Tanya is presently in the US raising financial support. She is at 58% of her recommended support level. Tanya is tentatively planning a trip to Chadron in July, so you may get to meet her soon! She visited Ridgeview for several Sundays in 2017, and was scheduled to participate in Reach2020 – until a global pandemic made that impossible. Thank you for praying for Tanya, and if you would like to give to her financially, you can do that through Ridgeview. Just make sure to clearly designate the gift.

(Note: This support is part of the approved 2020 budget. We are redirecting support that Ridgeview was giving to a missionary couple who returned permanently from the field in March.)