Why We Won’t Be Applying for Stimulus Assistance

Why We Won’t Be Applying for Stimulus Assistance

Announcements Word in Season

Recently, the President of the United States signed into law the CARES Act, known informally as the Coronavirus Relief Bill. There are many provisions in the bill that are intended to assist small businesses as well as faith-based groups like churches. The most relevant to Ridgeview is the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

Basically, this program makes it possible for churches to take out a loan equaling 250% of their monthly payroll. It is more assistance than loan, as the debt is 100% forgivable, so long as the funds are applied to the payroll and the payroll remains the same (no layoffs). Ridgeview researched this program with help from our primary banker and then we sought guidance from our elder team. On Sunday, the elders met to decide whether we will apply for this. And, as you can tell from the title of the post, we decided that we will not. For the good of the church, I think it is worth sharing our reasons.

First, no one on the elder team was convinced that we should participate in this program. Not all the elders were against it, but no one was clearly for it. And two of the elders felt strongly that we shouldn’t do this. To move ahead on something like this, we would need a strong and unified conviction that we should, and we are nowhere near that.

Second, while we do acknowledge that churches can trust God to supply for them AND also apply to these programs (seeing these programs as a means of God’s provision), we also believe that we can trust God to supply for the church through normal means; i.e., through the believers who make up this local church.

We believe that God would be more glorified by our looking to him alone to provide for our church through normal and biblical means – through the body of Christ.

Third, we feel that we, as a church, need to grow in our theology of giving. God calls us to be cheerful and sacrificial givers, not merely people who give out of our abundance or prosperity. These are trying times, but in these times we are not called to be any less cheerful or sacrificial in our giving. Taking advantage of this assistance would not help us grow in this area, and it could even hinder us, as we look to the government to do what God has called us to do.

Fourth, and most important, as an elder team we believe that God would be more glorified by our looking to him alone to provide for our church through normal and biblical means; through members of the body of Christ. Honestly, it would be easier for us to turn to this program, and it can feel more secure to do so. Yet God is not always honored when we take the easy path. He is glorified when we find our security and our rest in him alone. And more than anything, we want to glorify God.

None of this is to say anything about churches that decide differently than we did. We recognize that there are coherent and valid arguments for choosing to apply for these programs. These are simply our convictions, before the Lord. We also sincerely pray that many small businesses (especially local businesses) and individuals receive the help they need through the CARES Act.

For the Glory of Our Risen King,

Pastor Mike

What I Learned Last Sunday

What I Learned Last Sunday

Word in Season

Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice, Pray, Thank, Repeat.

Rejoice
Rejoice in the Lord Always
Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS
Rejoice in trials
In sickness
In loss
Find your strength in Christ
For in Christ’s joy He went to the Cross (Hebrews 12:2)

Do not be bitter
Do not fear
Do not rejoice in your own strength
REJOICE! Your God is near

Pray
Pray without ceasing
To pray is to be dependent
Dependent on our granite God
Who never fails
He never fails so come boldly with every need and align your heart with His desires

Pray!
Do not be anxious
Pray!
Do not fear
Pray to our God who is the Lion
Pray!
You will find Him near

Pray without ceasing in COVID-19
Pray without ceasing in times of ease
Dependent prayer will be the difference
To pray means you are dependent
Thank
Be not thankful for medicine or savings in the bank
Thank our God for saving your soul
In everything Him should you thank

Thank our God
He is a foundation
Not like that of shifting sands
Thank our God
He is a shield and sword
A shelter in times like these
Thank our God
Who is our peace
He holds His own in unwavering hands

Repeat
Rejoice!
And the peace of God, surpassing understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Jesus.
Pray!
And the peace of God, surpassing understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Jesus.
Thank!
And God’s mind-boggling peace will protect you from anxiety because you are His blood bought child only in Christ Jesus

The Worship of Lament

The Worship of Lament

Word in Season

I have been thinking about worship this week. What does it look like to worship in the midst of a global pandemic or personal tragedy? How do we approach God when things are less than OK? Often we react in one of two ways: we shut off that connection and turn away from God, or we pretend that all is fine and continue on, ignoring hardship and suffering. But what would it look like to worship while acknowledging deep pain and difficult circumstances? To neither deny God nor the realities we are facing? In his book Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy, Mark Vroegop puts forth a pathway toward hope, even in the darkest circumstances. This pattern of lament is seen all over the Bible and helps us when we don’t know how to move forward.

The first step is to turn. Turn to God in prayer! It takes faith to call out to God in the middle of our suffering; to keep talking, to keep praying through pain. Using Psalm 4 as an example, we see in verse 1:

Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!

The psalmist, David, is crying out, calling for God’s attention to his circumstances. He acknowledges God and his work in his life in the past, despite what he is going through now. This may seem obvious and overly simple, but moving towards God in our pain is where all hope begins.

Next, after we cry out to God, we are to bring him our complaints. This might seem illogical or just plain sinful to us. We have absorbed the admonishment to “do everything without grumbling or complaining”, which is, of course, good and true. We are not to bring our complaints and grievances to other people, who have no power to change our situations, but to God, the one who has all power. We see David all over the Psalms bringing his complaints to God and in Psalm 4:2 he says,

O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame? How long will you love vain words and seek after lies?

He names his specific problems to God- namely that his reputation has been destroyed by the lies of sinful men. Many times, these statements begin with “How long..” or “Why…” before they name the individual grievances. Of course, even as we bring our complaints, we need to come with reverence and humility- we are addressing the omnipotent, living God. Yet this sovereign Lord cares for our every specific need.

But we don’t stop there. After we have brought our complaints, we are to ask boldly. In the lament Psalms, we see this change often marked by a “but” or a “yet.” The psalmist will move on from focusing on his complaint and set his eyes on God.

But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him.

Here in verse 3, David is calling on the Lord to hear his cry. In this sense, hearing means answering; he is putting his trust in God responding to his prayer. He doesn’t sheepishly petition within the framework of “if it’s your will”, but rather asks boldly and allows for God to answer in accordance with his will.

Finally, after we have turned, complained, and asked, we are to choose to trust. This trust is not a shallow hope that what we have prayed for will come to fruition, but rather an “active patience.” Not a one-time choice to trust God, but a continuing, day-after-day decision to see God as worthy of our faith.

Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.

Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the LORD.

There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!” You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.

In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

The rest of Psalm 4 is, I think, devoted to that choice to trust God and what that looks like. Not sinning in our anger about the situation. Offering right sacrifices, which in other places in the Psalms is defined as thankfulness (50:14, 23, 107:22, 116:17) and a broken and contrite spirit (51:16-17). Remembering that all true goodness and joy comes from the Lord, who has given us the ultimate cause for joy in Christ: reconciliation to God! And seeing that peace and safety only come from the Lord, and not temporary circumstances. This trusting acknowledges that God alone is God, and will answer all our cries in a way that is both for our good (Romans 8:28) and his glory (Isaiah 48:11).

You may be thinking, as I once did, that you may have no personal reason for lament. Maybe you have nothing “grievous” in your life and you feel like things are going well. However, lament is not just for the “big” problems of life, although it certainly is. It can be practiced in the small things of this fallen world, like the grief of my kids missing their favorite sports season or the daily sin that creeps into my heart, just as well as the momentous things of a global pandemic that disrupts all sense of public normalcy or being diagnosed with a chronic disease that does the same privately. All of these occasions offer us a chance to turn to God, bring him our complaints, ask him boldly, and choose to trust him. And that is worship. Praise God!

The Loving Call of Christ

The Loving Call of Christ

Word in Season

And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Mark 10:21

How in the world is Jesus loving the rich young man in this story? This young man (let’s call him Rich) comes to Jesus in reverence desiring to understand what is needed to inherit eternal life. Rich believes he has kept the commands Jesus asked of him up to this point, and yet Rich knows that something is still required of him to inherit eternal life (See Mark 10:19-20).

“You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he [Rich] said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.”” Mark 10:19-20

Jesus’ loving response is that Rich should sell and give away all his possessions and follow Christ.

How in the world is Jesus loving Rich with the call to sell all and follow (Mark 10:21)?

One may read this passage and assume that Jesus is not really loving Rich at all. In fact, we may feel like Rich is being given an impossible task in order to keep him from following Christ. Rich loved his riches and was exposed by the weight of Christ’s call. We rather think, “I hope Jesus doesn’t call me to do the same.”

Dear friend, anyone who has heard the loving call of Christ and responded in faith and obedience is doing the same! They are surrendering their desires for the sake of gaining Christ. Jesus is standing at the door knocking, awaiting those who, on hearing the call, will cast aside their idols, and turn to the Savior for life.

The call from Christ to lay aside our idols and follow Him is ALWAYS a call of love. Jesus knew what was best for Rich and certainly knows what is best for you and me.

Think of it negatively. Rich comes to Jesus. Jesus identifies the sin keeping Rich from eternal life, but then goes on to tell Rich that he is fine and that Rich should continue as he is (in love with his riches). It would certainly be a comfortable response but not loving at all!

Oh may our hearts be transformed to love what Jesus loves and hate what he hates. May Christ’s call to follow after him be met with joy and not sorrow like Rich.

“Disheartened by the saying, he [Rich] went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” Mark 10:22 

We Are Needy

We Are Needy

Word in Season

I woke up needy today. Desperately needy. I imagine most of you did too. In a world that shouts “You are Enough” the recent pandemic squashes that mantra before our feet touch the floor in the morning. Being needy is seen as a weakness in our culture today. When you are weak you are not enough, you are desperate, dependent, and unable. Who wants to update their Facebook status with those words? We should be able to do this, whatever “this” is right now in your particular situation. We must look within ourselves, find more strength, pull it together. I’m exhausted, aren’t you?

I have some good news for you. God is Lord over all. It’s his perspective that matters and his word turns everything upside down on this particular topic. 

Look at Proverbs 30:1, “The man declares, I am weary, O God, I am weary, O God, and worn out.” Sound familiar? Where does this weary man find his strength? Himself? No, in the refuge that the Holy One provides (Proverbs 30: 2-5). 

David exalts God and publicly praises him because God stands at the right hand of the needy one (Psalm 109:31). God is at the ready and supports those who are desperately needy for Him. Not the one who has it all together. 

The Prophet Isaiah proclaims the type of person who God will favor and it is the one who is humble with a spirit of neediness before Him (Isaiah 66:2). 

Jesus says the supremely happy and honored person is the man who knows his great need for Him (Matthew 5:3). 

The circumstances may not always be ideal, but it is a blessed thing to be so acutely aware of our great need for Christ. Great glory for the name of Christ comes shining through needy people. 

  • God weakened Paul so that Christ’s perfect power could shine for all to see (2 Corinthians 12:19). 
  • The LORD brought the Israelites into the wilderness to help them see and repent of idols in their hearts so they would turn and worship the one true God (Deuteronomy 8:2-3). 
  • God took Christ to his weakest point on the cross, humble, shamed, mocked and through this neediness, all who believe in the name of Jesus can be saved. God works in mighty ways during times of great neediness. 

Playing off of Pastor Mike’s recent article, don’t waste this neediness. Instead of trying to look to yourself, humbly come to Christ and admit your great need for him. Rejoice in this desperation because it draws you closer to Christ. Be open to seeing where God is revealing idols in your heart during this time. The Lord is working to conform you to the image of His son through your neediness (2 Corinthians 3:18), what a gift! Come and find rest at the feet of the one who says His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9), whose mercies never end (Lamentations 3:22), and who sent his son to die in your place so you could draw near to him. 

Join me and let’s be desperate for Christ together.

Don’t Waste Our Pandemic

Don’t Waste Our Pandemic

Word in Season

Nearly 10 years ago, a famous pastor from Minnesota was diagnosed with cancer. On the eve of his surgery, John Piper wrote an essay called, “Don’t Waste Your Cancer.” It has helped thousands of people walk through cancer with a determination to glorify God with and through and in their trial. You can read that here. I’m shamelessly coopting the title to encourage you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, not to waste our pandemic. I want to focus my heart and mind on glorifying God through this, and I want to encourage others to do the same. So with that, here are some thoughts about not wasting our pandemic.

You will waste your pandemic if you fail to set your hope in our sovereign God. This, of all things, ought to humble the world and help us see how fragile we are, and how little control over things we actually have. A tiny, nearly invisible agent has shut down the most powerful countries on earth – nearly shut down all of the world! That’s humbling, and it ought to focus our hope in God.

Our ultimate hope can never be in preventative measures or in science or in medicine, as important as all these things are. We have to trust in God. He is God over all, big and small. From the mightiest nations to the tiniest microbes – he is Lord.

You will waste your pandemic if you spend all your time worrying about the future or complaining about the present. By all means, do what you can to secure your business, or find other employment, or whatever you can do today to keep food on the table. But doing things is different than worrying. You have no idea what tomorrow will bring (James 4:14), so leave tomorrow’s concerns to tomorrow and focus your efforts on today. Meditate on Philippians 4:4-7 (memorize it) and preach the truths of those verses to your soul until they stick there.

And complaining is about as helpful as worrying. Which is to say, it is not at all helpful. In fact, there is little in this world that is more faith-killing than a complaining or grumbling heart. So don’t give in to that. Start a journal and write down, every day, all the things for which you are thankful. Share the things for which you are thankful with those around you. Post evidence of thankfulness on your social media. Let the world know that we are thankful to the Lord, for he is good and his steadfast love endures forever. Read 1 Corinthians 10:10 to sober up from the stupor of complaint, and then drink deeply from passages like Psalm 136:1-26.

You will waste your pandemic if you spend all your time browsing or ranting on social media. Social media can be a wonderful thing during an event like this – an unprecedented means of communication while we are sheltered in place. Many thousands of Christians will be watching live-streamed sermons and services this Sunday from the safety of their own homes. We can easily check in on one another. We should be thankful for social media (and related technology). I’m thankful.

Yet, these things can also be a great means of discouragement. Christians would do well to stop Facebook shouting at their neighbors for either over or under-reacting (according to their superior, better-informed judgment). Please remember that the bridges you burn during this pandemic will likely stay burned after this is over. And people need love right now, especially from the children of God. So use this time to show love to your neighbors. And maybe turn the phone off and go read a book.

You will waste your pandemic if you focus only on your own needs. The world is reeling from this. Fear is everywhere. Use this time to show the love of Jesus to those around you. Call an elderly person and tell them you are praying for them and ask them what they need. Gather a list of needs and people and pray for them, every day. Seek for ways to serve others.

And do good things for your soul. If you have extra time off from work, spend that time with your family. Start up some online prayer groups (Zoom is an excellent tool for that). Read good books, go for a [socially-distanced] walk. Play a board game. Get on the floor and build a castle with your six-year old.

These are hard times. Let’s not waste them! Soli Deo gloria.

Our New House-Church Movement

Our New House-Church Movement

Announcements Word in Season

How I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house… – Acts 20:20

Christians and house churches go way back. Some of the earliest churches met in homes. Even today, many Christians meet in homes. And now, at least for a while, we will too.

Today, the Governor of Nebraska restricted all public gatherings to no more than 10 people. This restriction will remain in place for at least two weeks, but possibly much longer. Obviously, this makes it imprudent for us to continue meeting as we normally have.

Thus, the church leadership has developed a plan for us to still meet, while also complying with the law. And that plan involves meeting in homes.

Every Sunday at 10AM (Update: Beginning, Lord-willing on March 29), Ridgeview members and attenders are invited to one of several homes (click here to sign up to attend a group). The groups will each have a leader and will worship and pray together. And then, at 10:45, the groups will all watch a message preached live in one of the groups, and broadcast via Facebook Live.

Those in greater danger of COVID-19 and others who feel safer by sheltering-in-place might choose not to meet at one of these groups (and that is totally fine!). You can still catch the sermon online. If you need any help arranging this, please contact us and someone would be glad to walk you through it.

Many people will see these things as very negative developments, and in some ways they are. These are hard times! Yet, we see so many opportunities to love the church, to see people discipled, to evangelize the lost, to develop new leaders, to serve one another, and to glorify God as a unified church meeting in diverse locations. It’s true: for a time we are not able to gather together as the full local expression of the body of Christ that Ridgeview is. Yet we can still meet, freely and without persecution. We just have to meet in smaller groups. We are very blessed.

And Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Check back here later this week for more specific information. Also, sign up for Remind (text @rbcchadron to 81010), and check out our Facebook page for the latest developments. Everything in this post – except for God 🙂 – is subject to change as things change and develop in our state and nation.

The Word of God in 2020

The Word of God in 2020

Word in Season

After the worship gathering on Sunday, we had our annual Members’ Meeting. It was sweet to hear the reports of various ministries and endeavors at Ridgeview. God is at work, and that is an exciting and humbling thing.

I had the privilege of giving a brief Elders’ Report. I shared both the fruit of our time away at the Fall Elder Retreat, and our talks since that time. This year we reaffirmed our unapologetic commitment to the Word of God in every aspect of church life. By God’s grace, in 2020 we will continue to be a church that deeply loves the Word of God; that values expositional preaching and teaching and Bible study and other forms of Word-centered discipleship. We will be a church that seeks to be shaped by God’s Word.

During the report, I read a written response by one of the elders to this commitment we share, and I want to commend it to you if you missed the meeting. John Dockweiler wrote:

Ministry of the Word of God is a means to a compelling end. We are not just about doing endless Bible studies. The Word of God will produce godliness, fruitfulness, and life change through Jesus Christ. We teach the Word of God so that men will be qualified and capable to lead and teach in the churches. We minister the Word of God so that older men will be dignified, temperate, sound in faith, constrained by the Love of Christ and persevering. We minister the Word of God so that older women will disdain idleness and gossip, choosing instead to serve, be reverent, investing in families and teaching young women. Bible study should lead young women to love their husbands, be submissive and teach their children to love God. Being in God’s Word produces young men who exercise self-control, who are purposeful, intentional, and diligent (see Titus 2:1-14).

Overall, it’s my hope and prayer and firm belief that the Word of God will unify us in truth, in love, and in purpose. I believe we will become zealous for good works, eager to give to meet pressing needs, devoted to Christ and one another.

This is going somewhere. This is a compelling vision of godliness, fruitfulness, and real, tangible, life change, to the glory of God.

May God, by his grace, continue his good work in us through his Word; for our good and for God’s Glory.

Do We Need Biblical Counseling?

Do We Need Biblical Counseling?

Word in Season

Let’s begin by asking an obvious question: Is Jesus back? Not yet? In that case, the simple answer to the title question is YES! As long as we remain in this fallen world there will always be a need for biblical counseling. We are surrounded by suffering, pain, confusion, sadness and more. It’s a far cry from God’s original design for us. Therefore, we all need help! And that is why we need biblical counseling.

What exactly is biblical counseling? Jay E. Adams said that, “biblical counseling is a form of evangelical counseling based solely upon the Bible and focused on Christ.” Biblical counseling uses God’s word to help others navigate their situations, identify their needs and make the proper corrections to their lives.

We see in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, and Hebrews 4:12 just how powerful God’s Word is. God’s Word is alive! It is fully sufficient to guide and direct our lives in every way, and through every circumstance of life. Not only is God’s Word alive and sufficient, but we have a High Priest, Jesus, who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses (Heb 4:15) and He is sufficient for all of our needs.

Biblical counseling is often described as discipleship that is focused on an issue or problem. Whether it is a sin issue, grief, anxiety, or a marital problem, the goal of biblical counseling should always be to bring us to the cross of Christ! It is because of Jesus that we are dead to sin and have new life, and all biblical counseling should point to those truths.

We all have needs, and since the body of Christ is made up of different people, we see differing needs within the body. We seek counsel because we need help. Maybe we are struggling with a difficult situation at home, or dealing with sinful addictions or temptations. Perhaps we have already sinned, and that sin is creating a stronghold in our lives. We often need help to overcome these struggles. How often have believers sought that help from the world instead of from Jesus and the Word of God?

Biblical counseling, on the other hand, is about Christ-centered, heart-level change – change that is rooted in the truths of God’s Word. We need a biblical perspective of our problems and struggles and we need biblical strategies to overcome them. Biblical counseling happens when a brother or sister in Christ offers godly wisdom or reproof or even rebuke, speaking the truth in love. Christians shouldn’t be ashamed or fearful to seek counsel from godly and mature Christians, and we shouldn’t shy away from offering that kind of help to others. It is the way God has designed things!

We are not called to do this life alone. We are called to love one another and bear with one another (Colossians 3:13); to speak the truth in love, to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ (Ephesians 4:15-16). We are called to build one another up in love and be built up by one another!

One of the best biblical counselors, second only to Jesus, is Paul. Paul’s letters are filled with counsel to Christians: answering spiritual questions, bringing peace to conflicts, giving instructions for how to live with one another well. Paul constantly points to the teachings of Jesus and reminds his readers of the gospel! This is biblical counseling at its finest.

From time to time we all need help. Biblical counseling points us to the one who brings real healing: Jesus Christ. He is able to meet all our needs. We have everything we need in Jesus and the Word to do this life well. So let us, arm in arm, take hold of His wisdom and apply it to our lives, so that we may endure and finish the race that is set before us, to the praise of His glory!

Editor’s note: Be sure to sign up for our upcoming biblical counseling course (sign up online by clicking here).

The Church Needs the Church

The Church Needs the Church

Announcements Word in Season

The church needs the church. Not just on Sunday to help with Sunday school, potluck, greeting newcomers, nursery care, or worship. The church needs the church for everyday life. And if you haven’t noticed, life can be hard in our fallen world. We groan with all creation at the fallen-ness of this world and the effects it has on our lives (Romans 8:23). 

Conflict in relationships, health struggles, financial unknowns, child rearing, disabilities, marriage challenges, injustices at our workplace, death, addiction, and the list goes on. Christians and non-Christians alike are needy people. The difference is where we go to address those needs. As Christians we turn to God, our loving Father, and cry out to him with our needs. And then we turn to the body of Christ, in our local church, or at least we should. God is gracious to provide the body, our family of brothers and sisters, to help each other as we walk through life. 

Ed Welch explains this well (Side by Side, p.11):

We were meant to walk side by side, an interdependent body of weak people. God is pleased to grow and change us through the help of people who have been re-created in Christ and empowered by the Spirit. That is how life in the church works.

Christ has commanded us to love one another (John 13:34). He is speaking about the family of Christ loving each other. This love must be visible to the world as our love and care for each other in the body becomes a witness to others of our love for Christ (John 13:35). We all have a responsibility within the body to do this. This is what it means to be a disciple and to disciple others. 

It is critically important that we do this well for one another not only because Christ commanded it, but also because the world cannot offer the help the body can offer to each other. Our hearts and minds have been transformed by the gospel. The gospel and God’s Word radically shapes how we think, feel, and deal with all of those hardships listed above. 

But how? We need wisdom on how to love each other well. I highly encourage you to join the 13-week class on Discipleship/Counseling, on Sunday Mornings, 9-10 a.m. (during Sunday School hour) beginning January 12, 2020. You can sign up here

I need you and you need me. The church needs the church.