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. 

The (Un)Forgotten Husband

The (Un)Forgotten Husband

Word in Season

As has been often stated, the story of Ruth is a very beautiful one. It teaches great lessons of redemption, romance, courage, loyalty, providence, and grace. These themes are seen largely in its main characters: Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz. However, there are other characters that we often forget when we study the book of Ruth: Elimelech and his two sons, but mainly Elimelech. Even though he does not make it past the first three verses of Ruth, there is a lot we can learn from his role in this wonderful and true story. The following are some (but not all) of the verses that reference Elimelech. Together they help paint a picture of tragedy, redemption, and promise. 

Ruth 1:1-3

In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons.

Ruth 2:19b-20

So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, “The man’s name with whom I worked today is Boaz.” And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Naomi also said to her, “The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.”

Ruth 4:9-10

Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and to Mahlon. Also Ruth the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon, I have bought to be my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brothers and from the gate of his native place. You are witnesses this day.

The story of Ruth, as we know, begins very poorly for Ruth and Naomi. It is much more tragic for Elimelech. He leaves his home to die in a foreign land, leaving his wife and sons alone. If we were able to jump into the life of Naomi and Elimelech at his death bed what would we tell them? We could not tell them that Elimelech is going to get better. In fact if we did not know how the book ends we could not even tell them that there is a silver lining to the situation. This is important because so often when we comfort others we want to tell them that it will get better, when really we just do not know. For all we know it could have gotten worse. The truth is that the death of Elimelech and his sons is very tragic. Yet, as heartbreaking as it is, his tragedy was not meaningless and neither is yours.

As the story continues, Ruth and Naomi begin to see hope, but not only hope for themselves but also hope for their husbands. After Ruth meets Boaz and tells Naomi about him, Naomi makes a powerful exaltation of praise. She says in verse 20, “may he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Naomi recognizes that the work God is going to do will not only save the living (Ruth and Naomi), but will also save the dead (Elimelech and his sons)! We see this come to fruition in chapter 4 where Boaz buys the land of Elimelech and his sons in order to continue on their name. Because of this, rather than the name of Elimelech fading into nothingness, it is carried along into the lineage of the great King David, and then on even further our Lord Jesus Christ. Despite the horrific ending of Elimelech, it brought about not just the saving of his wife and his country, but eventually the salvation of all who call on Christ as savior!

This same truth can be carried over to believers today. As an individual, Elimelech was not promised to live to a ripe old age and not suffer greatly. However, he was a partaker in the promise to Abraham in Genesis 15 that “all the world would be blessed” through the nation of Israel and Elimelech was a part of that. We are not promised long painless lives, but we have been given very precious promises that all those who trust in Christ share in:

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Philippians 1:6 –  being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:38-39For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

These promises reveal to us that though our lives may get very difficult and even tragic with no perceivable silver lining, our hurt is not meaningless. God is working and moving in the lives of those who love him, and though we may meet darkness in this life, we can know two things. First, that in the end those who trust Christ will have him for all eternity. And second, our pain was not wasted. Like Elimelech, all of our hurt is used for God’s good purpose. We, like Elimelech are not forsaken by the LORD. We are part of his great plan of salvation.

Boring Obedience – Big God

Boring Obedience – Big God

Word in Season

But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Ruth 1:16

[Boaz] said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.” And he said, “May you be blessed by the Lord, my daughter. You have made this last kindness greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman. Ruth 3:9-11

Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” Ruth 4:14-15

Why? That question usually rises up in our flesh from time to time when we are called to obey God. Love your wife and children. Why? Be kind to your coworker. Why? Spend time with me in prayer. Why?

The simple answer is that you should do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. It is God’s command. You will deepen your relationship with your wife if you love her. You will show Jesus to your coworker as you are kind. You will get to know God better as you study His word and commune with Him.

The root of the “Why” question often arises because we question how effective our obedience will be. Why obey if I can’t see the fruit that will come from my obedience?

For the spouse whose wife despises him, what fruit will come from loving her? Or why should I be kind to my coworker who undercut me for that position? And if I don’t feel like I’m growing closer to God after I spend time with him, why would I study and pray?

To the doubters, I give you Ruth and Boaz. I love the examples from the Old Testament of people who stepped up and did the right thing without ever seeing the outcome.

Ruth, a widowed foreigner, chooses to do the right thing and follow her mother-in-law back to Judah. She willingly cares for Naomi and abandons her own home for the sake of Naomi even to the point of saying, “Where you die I shall die, and there I will be buried.” (Ruth 1:17).  From the circumstances, I can strongly assume that Ruth did not foresee the outcome of her obedience.

Boaz, a successful farmer and businessman, chose to obey the command of the Lord and sought the opportunity to be a kinsman-redeemer (Deuteronomy 25:5-10) to keep the line of Elimelech and Naomi alive. There is no way that Boaz in obeying could have seen in the moment the long-term impact of His obedience. Boaz was simply acting in obedience as he redeemed Ruth and married her.

And yet, the simple in-the-moment obedience of both Ruth and Boaz led to the birth of man named Jesse who had a son by the name of David. And it is from this Davidic line that the Savior of the world, King Jesus, was born in the little town of Bethlehem.

Two things happen when you obey Him. First and instantly, you bring glory to God. The world sees it. Your wife will see it. God will be seen as more beautiful when you adorn His doctrines (Titus 2:10). Second and unforeseen, God uses the obedience of His people as a means to accomplish His plan. You have no idea how masterfully God will use your simple obedience in the little situations of life. Maybe your coworker will turn to Christ in repentance. Maybe tomorrow morning, when you meet Him in the quiet, God will show himself more clearly to you than ever before. Maybe God will use the love shown to your wife to open her eyes.

We aren’t called to be omniscient. God has that handled. We are called to be obedient and trust Him with the results.

I pray we do that more today.

Thankful for Providence

Thankful for Providence

Word in Season

November is upon us and in some sense this month brings our hearts and minds to a greater awareness of what we are thankful for. There is an endless list of things to be thankful for, to our Lord. In particular, this November I find myself pondering that God is a God of purpose. I am striving to believe and take hold of the truth that God is purposeful and to live out my faith and life in a way that reflects this truth.

Sovereignty and Purpose

God is sovereign. God has supreme power over all things (Psalm 135:6).
God is purposeful. God uses this power with purpose (Proverbs 16:33).

God is in control. Praise God! And, God is in control with purpose. Praise God! “Providence” is the theological term for God working with purpose. The Holman Bible Dictionary defines providence as “God’s benevolent and wise superintendence of His creation” (Holman Bible Dictionary, 1312). God is managing and arranging or “superintending” all of his creation. He works with meaning and intention to bring about His will, His glory, and His kingdom. God is purposeful. Without providence, God remains all powerful, but that power is exercised without any order, aim, or objective. Power without meaning. Powerful yet chaotic. God’s providence is, indeed, something to be thankful for.

Providence in the Bible

Joseph: Jealous brothers sold him into slavery and told their father he was dead (Genesis 37). Joseph ends up being falsely accused and thrown in prison. Through God’s providence, Joseph winds up in a prison cell with the cupbearer and the baker to the King of Egypt (Genesis 40:1-4). God gives Joseph the ability to interpret dreams and eventually this gifting from the Lord leads to his release from prison and he becomes Pharaoh’s right hand man. Because of this position, Joseph ends up saving his own brothers, who sold him into slavery, from certain starvation. Joseph sees the beauty of God’s providence in his life as he speaks to his brothers (Genesis 45:5, 7-8). His brothers meant this all for evil, and God, through it all, was working towards his ultimate purpose.

Moses: The baby boy who was supposed to drown in the Nile through Pharaoh’s own orders ends up being saved by Pharaoh’s daughter and brought up in Pharaoh’s household only later to lead the Hebrew people out of Pharaoh’s captivity. God’s providence. See Exodus 20:2.

Paul: The prison sentence that was meant to silence the gospel ends up spreading it inside the prison. Amazingly, it served to advance the gospel outside of the prison walls by emboldening other followers of Christ (Philippians 1:12-14). God’s purpose prevailed.

Jesus: The seemingly tragic death of the son of God, in God’s most magnificent act of providence, provided salvation for all who believe: a plan, or purpose, which God had before the foundations of the earth (Ephesians 3:11).

Our Response

We walk by faith. We remain confident that God is working out his purposes (his will), especially when we can’t see it or fathom it. We befriend faithfulness, walking in the fear of God.

We remain hopeful. Knowing God is working with purpose helps us fight despair and hopelessness. How can we be hopeless when we serve a God whose will is never thwarted or overturned? Our hope doesn’t rely on our changing circumstances or the exact answer to prayer we want, but in an unchanging God who is working out his purposes through our lives.

We respond with trust. If God’s purpose “causes all things to work together for our good,” then God can be trusted as we walk through prosperity and hardship (Romans 8:28). We can rest, not fret, as we trust God. We actively trust instead of giving in to anger or bitterness.

We rejoice. We thank God that he is a God who works with purpose. We thank him for the ways he is working that we can’t yet see. We thank him by remembering all the places we see his providence played out in the Bible and in our lives. We are happy in God and who he is.

I am keenly aware that these responses aren’t easy for us. Most of the time our prayers sound something like this: God I am struggling to believe you are working with purpose. I can’t see it and I can’t feel it. I am on the verge of despair. But, I know your word is true and I can trust you. Please help me to believe that you are working out your will in my life. Help me to walk by faith and hope in you.

Those prayers I believe are honoring to God as we strive to allow God’s character to shape us for his glory. I pray that we remain thankful always, not just this November, that God is a God of purpose.

Manly or Godly?

Manly or Godly?

Announcements Word in Season

I have never really considered myself a very “manly” individual, but not for a lack of trying. Growing up I hunted, lifted, weights, and worked on the ranch hoping to show my prowess as a mighty provider. Yet, as I got older I never felt like I was much of a man. It did not seem like I had the characteristics that make a boy a man.

When I got to college, other Christian men came around me and taught me the importance of God’s Word and encouraged me to search the Bible for answers. So I dug in deep! I found stories of great warriors and kings that inspired me and challenged me, but I also saw stories of women with great courage and strength that did the same. As I searched the Scripture, I noticed that there were few, if any, character qualities that God designated just for men. Both men and women are called to be strong, courageous, humble, kind, gentle, peaceful, and self-controlled. All Christians – no matter the gender – should persevere, fight for the faith, and run the race. In all my reading I never found a call to “manly” characteristics; instead, I found a much more challenging call.

God doesn’t call me to be like the great warriors of the past. God calls me to be like himself!

In 1 Peter 1:14-15, Peter wrote the following words to persecuted believers, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you are also to be holy in all your conduct.” You see, I found that God does not call me to be like the great warriors of the past. He calls me to be like him! Paul wrote to Timothy and told him to “train yourself for godliness.” His call on the character and conduct of Timothy is not to be manly, but rather to be godly. What a challenge!

Notice that these are not statements about who we are, but rather statements of what we are to become; who we are to train to be. If a man wants to be strong or fast, he trains. If he wants to be the best pitcher, hunter, mechanic, doctor, or teacher that he can be, he trains. None of those skill sets come naturally. Being godly does not come naturally, either. We must work at it. We must train for it.

But where do we train? To build muscles, we have gyms. To grow professionally, we have schools and conferences. To train in godliness, Christ gave us his church. The church is meant to be a place – a fellowship – for us to train in godly disciplines.

For this reason, the Ridgeview Men’s Group will be going through “Disciplines of a Godly Man“, by R. Kent Hughes. This book will challenge us to seek godliness in all aspects of our lives from purity to studying God’s word to leadership. Along with godly disciplines we will talk about the roles that the Scriptures give men to fulfill such as being a husband, son, father, friend, and leader in the church.

Join us, every Thursday at 6:30AM.

Do You Do Well, Joe?

Do You Do Well, Joe?

Word in Season

Over the first five weeks of the fall, we studied the book of Jonah with the Main Adult Sunday School class. There are many lessons about the hardness of the human heart and the loving compassion of God in those four short chapters. Below is a short recap that hopefully will inspire you to dig deep into this book and God’s word.

I hope it also encourages anyone on the fence to join us Sunday mornings at 9:00 AM as we go through God’s Word together. It is a gold mine of hope, encouragement and calls to action.

God:
Do you do well to disobey me, Joe?
My command was certain that you should proclaim, mercy to your enemies—those whom you hate.
Their evil hearts before me, condemn them to eternal shame.
Warn sinners of my coming judgment, their sin before God, not man.
Was it wise for you to try and thwart my plan?

Have I been unreliable? Have my commands ever failed in the past?
Am I the God of optional plans that bend upon fate and man?

Joe:
Yes I do well, God!
I know you are reliable, and that’s why I’m disobeying.
Your plan must be wrong. What you command has a flaw.
Those evil wicked people, deserve death that’s why I’m flying

[God pursues Joe and exposes his sin and disobedience. But rather than repenting of his sin, Joe would rather continue in his rebellion (Jonah 1:4-16)]

God:
Joe, do you do well in the midst of the storm? Do you do well to give up on your life?
Your disobedience was for naught.
None can run from my presence, don’t you know?
I have pursued you with trials and exposed you with man’s devices.
My plans are never thwarted by feeble disobedience, or have you forgot?

Joe, do you do well to want death over repentance? Don’t you see you are in the wrong? You disobeyed me, and are embracing the consequences.

Joe:
Yes, I do well! I will not obey.
I’d rather be dead than see goodness extended.
You must be missing how evil these sinners are.
They don’t deserve mercy, that’s why I am justified
I’m sparing them from your mercy, from being Your children they are protected

I will die now; I am indifferent.
To the pit I will go; cast me in it.

[Joe in the pit and the depths of his sin (Jonah 1:15-2:10]

Joe:
God, please help!
I went into the deep. I hit rock bottom. My life was almost done.
And in those final breaths, one thing was on my heart—it was not disobedience.
Save me God! You are my rock and hope.
Dead men can’t praise you.
Let these lunges breathe anew, my life I give to you.

God:
You are forgiven, though the grave you deserve. I will be merciful,
To the depths of the sea, your transgressions are removed.
And your life, I will spare, transport you back to earth
Now do well to obey me. It’s is truly for your best.
The mercy you’ve received is not greater than the rest.

[Joe obeys, God saves evil sinners, but Joe gets angry (Jonah 3:1-4:4)]

God:
Do you do well to be angry at me, Joe? Is your anger right?

Joe:
Yes I am right, God. Yes I am justified.
I wanted to save you from extending your mercy. I wanted to help you avoid giving grace.
That thing that you did was totally not right.
You saved sinful people, they weren’t even your own children. You made yourself dirty by extending your grace.
This thing done is evil!
I knew you would do it, it’s why I disobeyed at the first.
I wanted to save you from being tarnished,
These dirty sinners make you look the worse.
You were meant to stay pure and clean and only to extend grace to good people like me.

[Joe sits down in hope that God will bring judgment to the evil sinners. God gives Joe some comfort in the form of a thing then takes the thing away after a day. Joe gets angry (Jonah 4:5-11)]

God:
Do you do well to be angry about losing that thing, Joe?
I gave it to you then took it away. You didn’t earn it or make it.
What right do you have to be so upset?
That thing you love, is it worth such a fit?

Joe:
Yes, Yes, Yes I do!
That thing gave me comfort. That thing gave me joy.
I loved that thing. That thing protected me.
It’s not fair. It’s not just.
How can you take away what I love most?
Death is preferred to the injustice of this life!
Why live in a world where things flee from me as a ghost.

God:
Joe, do you see the problem? It’s in your heart.
You think things that you love are top on my chart.
You think things that you hate, I should hate too.
You want me to be God, but God in Joe’s shoes.
You’ve dreamed me up to be someone like you. But I’m not.
Joe, you think you are clean and deserving of mercy, and think no one below you could ever be worthy.
You want people to earn my love and affection, but have you done anything to earn me?
You love your little comfort things more than people. How is that anything but evil?
You’d rather see judgment on souls than my love to win.

I am not you, Joe. I am God.
Everything I do is right and just.
I have mercy on those I will and I extend judgment on the unrepentant.
My ways are higher. My ways are greater.
Your low opinion of me makes you worthy of the grave.
Do you not see the grace all around you? What did you do to receive it from me?
Was it your status or work, or family tree? No, I gave you mercy when you deserved death. You were down in the pit, and I gave you a lift.
You are not better. You are not more worthy.
So, stop playing judge and jury.

Joe:
God, I am broken. You’ve exposed my sin. I do love my things more than souls,
my heart is sick from within.
You are God, I am not. You get to choose who deserves your mercy.
My sick heart cannot match your grace.
I will write of your compassion upon my poor life.
It will not be pretty, from this sinner’s perspective,
But God, you will shine, your compassion overflowing.