Fear and Grace

Fear and Grace

What I Learned Last Sunday

This past Sunday we had the joy of baptizing several people from our church. The baptism was outside at Chadron State Park. It was a beautiful afternoon. Perhaps my favorite part of the event was the singing afterwards. We sang two songs, one of which was “Amazing Grace.” I have sung this song on many occasions, but for the first time, the following line from the second stanza stuck out to me: “Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear and Grace, my fears relieved.”

This beautiful little lyric captures a lot of truth. It shows not only that God’s grace saves us, but also that God’s grace teaches us to fear sin as well as God’s wrath toward sinners. We often think of the good feelings that God’s grace gives us, but not the fear. That truth reminded me of the message preached that very morning at church from 1 John 5:13-15. The passage taught that all of 1 John was written to make believers confident in the eternal they have in Christ.. You might say he wrote it to relieve them of their fears. However many of the passages in John’s letter at first look are not very encouraging, but rather are warnings meant to bring fear. Here are some examples:

If we say we have fellowship with [God] while we walk in darkness. We lie and do not practice the truth. – 1 John 1:6

Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. – 1 John 2:9

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love… – 1 John 4:8

No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. – 1 John 3:6

How frightening! These verses do and are meant to instill great fear into the hearts of believers. We should be asking questions like: “Am I living in the darkness?” “Do I love others well?” “Am I abiding in sin?” Though they are scary, these questions and the fear they create are grace to us. Such fear graciously shows us our need for Christ.

But grace does not stop there. It shows us how our fears can be relieved in passages such as these from 1 John:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9

[Jesus] is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. – 1 John 2:2

And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. – 1 John 2:28

See what kind of love the father has given to us, that we should be called children of God. – 1 John 3:1b

What great grace! Oh, how such truths can relieve us of the fear of our sins and darkness! We need but turn to Christ, seek forgiveness of our sins, and we will abide in him. This little letter from John is filled with such grace. Grace that generously teaches us to fear God’s wrath, and grace that shows that we need not fear thanks be to Christ. Oh, what confidence we can have in eternal life. Oh, what confidence we can have in Christ. May we live in the confidence of God’s amazing grace!

In the words of John Newton:

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind but now I see

Was Grace that taught my heart to fear
And Grace, my fears relieved
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed

Through many dangers, toils and snares
We have already come
T’was Grace that brought us safe thus far
And Grace will lead us home
And Grace will lead us home

Our Vision for 2021

Our Vision for 2021

From the Ridgeview Elder Team

2020 was a difficult year in many ways; not only on a global and national scale, but also on a personal level for many families and individuals. However, it is still a year worth rejoicing in! We saw the Word taught, the lost found, disciples made, and God glorified. As we move into 2021 our church desires to keep moving in that direction. The elder team has taken time to think about what we want to focus on this year.

We have decided to emphasize three main things in 2021: discipleship, evangelism, and fellowship. These three tend to overlap. Evangelism and fellowship are part of discipleship and fellowship is part of evangelism. In 2021, want to emphasize these three connected things in the life of our church by both formal (with set plans and programs, etc.) and informal (organic, less planned) means.

I will highlight here three of the ways the elder team plan to better implement discipleship, evangelism, and fellowship. First, we have established and equipped the new deacon team to share in the leadership responsibilities of the church, under the direction of the elders. The duties they have assumed will allow us to work more smoothly as a body and involve more people in the mission of the church. The deacons are Cole Wyatt, Evan Baker, and Brandon Horst.

Second, we want to form more home groups in 2021. We have seen great fruit in all three areas – discipleship, evangelism, and fellowship – from Ridgeview’s home group ministry. Home groups meet in homes on Sunday nights, often enjoying a meal together, fellowshipping around the Word, singing and worshipping and praying together. Home groups are a great place to get to know others, grow in the Word and find further encouragement for the week. If you are not part of a home group, you are really missing out, and we invite you to join one! 

So that more people can participate, we are praying that a few individuals and/or couples in 2021 would show interest in launching new home groups in 2021. We believe that our church needs two more groups in Chadron, and potentially one in Crawford. If you are interested in starting a new group, please let an elder know and we can help you with the next steps!

Third, as church leaders want to be more intentional about shepherding and praying for individuals in the congregation. To that end, we we have created a list of members and regular attenders of Ridgeview and have divided that list among the deacons and elders (rotating the list each quarter). And we will reach out to our families/individuals to show intentional care, find out their prayer needs, and encourage each one in the Lord. If you are a member or active attender at Ridgeview, a church leader is praying for you! 

In the short term, we also have plans to help emphasize our three focuses. To encourage and equip the church for discipleship we will host a “How to Study the Bible” seminar in April. This seminar will teach men and women how to dive deeply into God’s Word and how to show others to do so. Along with the Holy Spirit, the Word of God is the key catalyst for discipleship. We hope this event will both encourage and equip the church to better know God through his Word and help others to know him. Stay tuned for more on this!

We are taking similar steps to encourage and teach on evangelism. In February, the church will host a half-day seminar on evangelism. The seminar’s purpose is two-fold 1) to start a conversation about evangelism and 2) to teach what it looks like to develop a culture of evangelism in the church.

Finally, to encourage organic fellowship, we will make the church facilities even more available so that the congregation will make  frequent use of the campus to host game nights, group meals, ping-pong tournaments, etc.. These are great ways to bring new people in and connect with them and fellowship more together as a church family. It is has been great to see this happening already – so many informal game nights and fellowships during the fall and winter of 2020! We want to encourage more of it in 2021 to see God’s people gather even more often for the purpose of fellowship. If you want to host something like that here, just let the office know!

We are excited for what God has done, is doing, and will do in this church. Our prayer is that God will use our people and resources to save the lost, disciple them into Christ, bring all into the fellowship with Him, and above all glorify His name.

Ridgeview Pastors’ Retreat

Ridgeview Pastors’ Retreat


The purpose of the Ridgeview Pastor’s Conference is to encourage and equip men who lead in the local church through the role of pastor and/or elder. The event is all inclusive: housing, meals, speakers, break out sessions, and fellowship. All you need to do is get there!

Guest Speaker:

Brian Croft, Practical Shepherding

Brian Croft has served in pastoral ministry for over twenty-five years and is the founder and Executive Director of Practical Shepherding.  He is also the Senior Fellow for the Mathena Center for Church Revitalization at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and has written or contributed to over twenty-five books on pastoral ministry.  He is married to Cara and they have four children. For more information on Brian’s ministry visit practicalshepherding.com.

April 8th @ 5:00 PM – April 10th @ 10:00 PM, 2021

Camp Norwesca

79 Camp Norwesca Rd, Chadron, NE 69337

Early Bird Price (by February 13th): $120

Normal Price (After February 13th): $150

Information about the schedule and seminars will be available as the conference gets closer


You can register at the link below and pay at the conference.


Consider This

Consider This

Word in Season

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.” – Hebrews 10:24

People of Joy

There are two words that I have been thinking about often over the last couple of weeks: fear and shame. We are in a time when much of what we hear, see, and read are rooted in one or both of these emotions. Fear of getting sick, shame for acting selfishly, fear of destroying our financial future, shame for being afraid. Even if we ourselves are not feeling afraid or shameful, many of our friends and neighbors are. As Christians we should not be ruled by fear and shame, rather we should be lighthouses for joy. Joy should be seen as the trademark mindset of Christians especially in the worst of times.

Why is this? Why are Christians able to be joyful and excited even when life is not going our way? Look at 1 Peter 1:8:

Though you have not seen him (Jesus), you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your soul.”

The emotion of salvation is inexpressible joy! Paul is writing this to Christians that are being persecuted for their faith. He encourages them to see the truth of their salvation in Christ and root their emotions in that eternal truth, not in the temporary. Christians radiate joy because we have a salvation in Christ which gives us all hope. 

When considering how to stir up one another in love and good works we need to consider how our words and actions affect the attitude of those with whom we come in contact. Do we foster an atmosphere of fear and shame, or one of joy and hope? In Philemon 1:7 Paul says to Philemon, Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.”  Look at the influence of Philemon’s love! Not only does his love refresh the hearts of God’s people in his community, it also brings joy and encouragement to those who hear about it. As God’s people we are meant to create atmospheres of joy wherever we are. We are to have a reputation for bringing joy.

You have the opportunity today, this week, and for the rest of your life to bring fear or bring joy to your community. Which will you choose? You can tell others that they should be afraid of what is to come or shame them for what they are doing. Or you can give them hope. You can live in such a way that fear and shame neither come into your heart nor out of your mouth. You can speak of your hope in Christ and your dependence on him alone. You can lighten up a room with your reliance on scripture rather than your reliance on the media. I pray this week that God’s people use every word, action, and thought to bring joy to our communities so that the world may know the hope that we have in Jesus.

Consider This…

Consider This…


And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works. Hebrews 10:24

I recently preached a message at my church on Hebrews 10:24-25. This passage challenges believers to consider ways to stir up one another to love and good works by gathering together and encouraging each other. As a follow up, I thought it would be helpful to write some articles for the next couple of weeks to stimulate in our minds and hearts ways to encourage and stir up one another in our churches and communities. The purpose will be to study God’s Word and use our own creativity to find ways to practically live out this command from Hebrews 10:24. Hopefully this will be the first of several articles that can help us think of ways to outdo one another in love.

Bear With One Another

One phrase from the Apostle Paul that always makes me giggle a little is when he commands Christians to “bear with one another” or as the NIrV says in our modern lingo “put up with each other”. The quote is slightly laughable because it accurately presumes that we as humans are not always easy to get along with. A part of considering how to stir one another up in love and good deeds is being able to get over our differences.

This idea of bearing with one another comes from two verses in the writings of Paul: Colossians 3:13 and Ephesians 4:2.  Both passages are encouraging the church to love one another, and each has a slightly different focus. Let’s look at both passages, find the distinctives, and come to some practical ways we can use these truths to stir up one another.

Forgive One Another

The Colossians verse contains many ways believers are to live because they are in Christ. Paul points out in 3:11 that all differences we once had become moot under the truth that we are servants of Christ above all else. Neither race nor social class, neither profession nor political bent exist in Christ, when we are Christ’s he is in all and is all. Our difference are secondary to our unity in Jesus. 

In light of that we are to be humble, kind, meek, patient, and, as we are focusing on here, to bear with one another. Paul helps us to do this by commanding us to forgive each other as Christ has forgiven us. This is a great application for stirring up one another. What better way to encourage our community than to live everyday with a heart of forgiveness. In this time of fear and confusion many will say and do things that will harm us and others. As Christians, we will need to be ready to forgive and bear with those offenses. On the other hand, we can also seek forgiveness. We are not perfect. We have and will hurt others and need to be ready to seek forgiveness as well as give it. What a great way to stir up the church in love!

Eager to Maintain Unity

Ephesians 4:1-5 uses a lot of the same language as Colossians (humility, gentleness, patience), but it has a slightly different focus. In Ephesians, Paul is encouraging believers to eagerly bear with one another for the sake of unity in the Spirit. True unity in Christ does not come from having similar hobbies, careers, or movie preferences. It comes from having one Spirit. Verse 3 says our bond is that of peace – peace with God because of Christ’s sacrifice. We are united in our common salvation through the savior. Therefore we should be eager to maintain that unity because it was bought with a price.  We can bear with one another because Christ bore our sins on the cross. 

Practically speaking, we should be a people who are visibly eager. Eager to make Christ known, eager to love fellow believers in spite of our differences, and eager to keep the body united. What does this eagerness look like? Call someone who you have not seen since last time you met in person. Message someone who you do not normally talk to because you run in different circles. The bond of peace that we share with fellow believers is one that we should eagerly hold on to by bearing with all differences and barriers that seem to keep us apart.

You have probably heard the old adage “blood is thicker than water.” We use it to express how much more important family is than normal friendships.. However, I have been told that this idiom comes from an older saying that goes something like: “the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.” What a great truth? The bond that we have in Christ’s blood is deeper and stronger than any other. May we be a people willing to bear with one another in order to keep that bond and stir each other up to love and good works in the name of Christ. 

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.

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.

Why Two Easters?

Why Two Easters?

Moments in History

All around the world Christians celebrate Easter. On that day we come together to remember and celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. However, not all Christians meet on the same day of the year. There are two different days (most years) that Christians around the world celebrate Easter. You may wonder why. The answer is found in the pages of church history.

The early Christian church did not have a set date to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Most churches recognized the holiday on any given Sunday in spring. So when the First Nicaean Council was held in 351 AD on the agenda was when Christians should celebrate Easter. The council made a twofold decision, 1) Easter should be celebrated on the same day by all Christians and 2) Easter should be independent of the Jewish Passover Feast. Before the council, many Christian churches consulted the Jewish calendar and celebrated Easter after Passover. The Council of Nicaea decided that Easter was a Christian holiday that should be celebrated separately from the Jewish calendar. The Council did not decide a specific computation for Easter at Nicaea. It took many years for the church to decide when to hold the holiday.

Easter was one of the many Christian rituals affected by the Great Schism.

Eventually, it was decided that Easter would be celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox (the first day of spring). However, by the time this computation was settled, the church was not as unified as it once was. In 1054 AD, the church suffered a split known as the Great Schism. The schism split Christianity into the Western and Eastern Churches. Easter was one of the many Christian rituals affected by the schism. While Western Christians used the Gregorian calendar, Eastern Christians used the Julian calendar. Also, the Eastern Church decided that Easter should always follow the Jewish Passover. These two differences put the Eastern celebration later in the spring than the Western.

In the West, Easter falls between March 22nd and April 25th. In the East, Easter is between April 4th and May 8th. Some years, such as 2010 and 2011, Easter lands on the same day in both the East and The West. This year, Christians in Western countries will celebrate Easter on April 21st. Eastern churches, in countries like Romania and Russia, will celebrate on April 28th. The dates are different but the purpose of the holiday is the same.

All believers recognize Easter as a time to celebrate Christ’s victory on the cross and his defeat of death at the resurrection. And for what greater purpose could Christians gather than to remember the pinnacle of human history when God became man and gave his life for his people and for his glory. So no matter the day, may you join with your brothers and sisters in Christ this Easter season and celebrate our risen King! May our hearts sing the words of this beloved hymn:

Behold the man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders;
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished;
His dying breath has brought me life –
I know that it is finished.

I will not boast in anything,
No gifts, no power, no wisdom;
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer;
But this I know with all my heart –
His wounds have paid my ransom.

The Holy Spirit and Predestination

The Holy Spirit and Predestination

Word in Season

During the Spirit of Truth Conference Q&A Panel, people texted in many questions relating to the Holy Spirit’s role in predestination. Questions like these:

  • What is the Spirit’s role in predestination?
  • Can I receive the Holy Spirit if I was not predestined to Heaven?
  • If the Spirit starts the work in someone’s heart, does that imply that there is a distinction between chosen and unchosen?

We have to begin by defining predestination. Predestination is often associated with Calvinism, but it is a doctrine found all over Scripture, especially the New Testament (Matthew 24:22, 31; Mark 13:20, 27; Romans 8:33, 9:11, 11:5-7, 28; Ephesians 1:11; Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:4; 1 Timothy 5:21; 2 Timothy 2:10; Titus 1:1; 1 Peter 1:1-2, 2:9; 2 Peter 1:10, et.al.). Predestination means that God sovereignly chose (elected) certain individuals to salvation before the foundation of the world.

Sometimes the word predestination makes people think of robots, with no will or role in salvation. However, Ephesians 1:11-13 makes it clear that we are predestined by the will of God AND that those who are saved “heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him.” In order to be saved, we must believe, and believing is a genuine act of our will (Romans 10:9, Ephesians 2:8). We are not robots; we choose to believe in the gospel by faith as it is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit.

So what is the Spirit’s role in this? In John 6:44, Jesus says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” This drawing or calling to Christ is what Jesus explained to Nicodemus a few chapters earlier (John 3:7-8). After telling Nicodemus he must be born again, Jesus said: “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again. The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit draws us to Christ, and that is one of the Holy Spirit’s roles in predestination. The Spirit draws the unbeliever to Christ so that he may be born again.

When a person is drawn by the Spirit and trusts in Christ, he or she becomes a child of God and is indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:15-17, 1 Corinthians 12:13). The Holy Spirit only indwells those who hear and believe the gospel. Also, Ephesians 1:13-14 teaches that the Holy Spirit seals the believer as a guarantee that the inheritance that God promises will be fully acquired. So not only does the Holy Spirit draw us to God and indwell us once we believe, but he also seals our position as children of God for eternity!

So that is a glimpse of what the Bible teaches about the Holy Spirit and predestination. The Bible teaches that man can not come to saving faith in God unless the Spirit draws him. The Holy Spirit awakens our hearts to Christ, draws us to him. Because of the Spirit, we find Jesus and his gospel compelling and beautiful and true. And the Spirit indwells all those he draws to Jesus and seals the believer forever. You can see all of these truths in Romans 8:30: “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

God is so gracious to us! He not only makes the plan for our salvation through Christ, he also completes it in us through the mighty work of his Spirit.

Who was Patrick of Ireland?

Who was Patrick of Ireland?

Moments in History

In the small town I grew up in people took Saint Patrick’s Day very seriously. What else would you expect from a town called O’Neill? In fact, O’Neill is known as the “Irish Capital of Nebraska.” When I was a child, Saint Patrick’s Day meant a giant four-leaf clover painted on the main intersection of town, at least one green horse in the parade, and Irish dancers clogging down the streets. Despite growing up with such festivities, I never really knew what the holiday was meant to celebrate. I heard the myth about Patrick chasing the snakes out of Ireland, but that was all I knew. It was not until I was older that I learned the true story of Patrick of Ireland and his importance in Christian history.

Though we do not know exactly when Patrick was born, we do know that he died on March 17, 461 AD. Likely, he was born around 385. Even though Patrick is known as an Irish saint, he was born in southern Britain, which at the time was occupied by the Roman Empire.

When he was 16 years old raiders kidnapped Patrick and took him to Ireland as a slave. Unlike his largely Christian homeland, the Irish Celts were pagan animists who worshiped nature. Even so, it was during his 6 years in slavery that Patrick turned to Christ as his savior. In his Confessions, he wrote that he prayed over one hundred times a day while working pigs for his masters. When Patrick saw the opportunity to escape Ireland he took it and returned to Britain.

Years later Patrick dreamt that the people of Ireland were calling out to him asking him to return and preach the gospel. He immediately began studying to teach God’s word. Eventually, he became a bishop. Most bishops in the fifth century stayed in urban areas and ministered to established churches. So when Patrick gave that up in order to preach the gospel to the pagans in Ireland, he did not have very much support. Even so, he spent the rest of his life in Ireland preaching God’s word to the people who once enslaved him.

What we can learn from the life of Patrick

1. The church must be about reaching the ends of the earth with the Gospel.

In Patrick’s time, Ireland was the furthest West that anyone knew or had traveled. Patrick was going to the ends of the earth, and he is an example to us of faithfully going out; leaving homelands and crossing cultures to preach Christ to the nations. And this was no short-term visit; he lived with the Irish and became their bishop. He is one of the great Christian missionaries of the early church and an example to us of obedience to the Great Commission.

2. We can use simple ideas to explain complex biblical truths.

Just as Jesus used stories about everyday objects and people to explain big truths about God, Patrick used items familiar with his audience to teach them important doctrines. Patrick is most famous for using the Irish clover to explain the Trinity. Though not a perfect illustration, it helped explain that important truth about God. The doctrine of the Trinity was especially important to Patrick because of the time in which he lived. The church had just emerged from the Arian controversy, which taught that God the Father was devine, but Christ and the Holy Spirt were not. Patrick saw the importance of teaching vital biblical truth to all believers. And he did this through simple words and illustrations, demonstrating that one doesn’t need big words to teach big truths.

3. God can use anyone who is faithful to do his work.

We all doubt ourselves, and Patrick was no different. He thought he lacked intelligence and most scholars consider him a sloppy writer. Yet, despite these weaknesses, God used him to reach the lost in Ireland and change the country forever. He was faithful to his calling. Danger knocked at his door regularly, but he relied on God’s power and Spirit to work wonders in the lives of those he reached. As it turns out, Patrick really did chase the snakes out of Ireland – snakes like idolatry and unbelief. He trusted God, and God used him greatly.

Patrick’s Own Words

To wrap this up, perhaps it is best to allow Patrick to speak for himself with a few of the most famous quotes from his Confessions:

“But after I came to Ireland – every day I had to tend sheep, and many times a day I prayed – the love of God and his fear came to me more and more, and my faith was strengthened. And my spirit was moved so that in a single day I would say as many as a hundred prayers, and almost as many in the night, and this even when I was staying in the woods and on the mountains; and I used to get up for prayer before daylight, through snow, through frost, through rain, and I felt no harm, and there was no sloth in me—as I now see, because the Spirit within me was then fervent.”

“Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.”

“I know for certain, that before I was humbled I was like a stone lying in deep mire, and he that is mighty came and in his mercy raised me up and, indeed, lifted me high up and placed me on top of the wall. And from there I ought to shout out in gratitude to the Lord for his great favours in this world and for ever, that the mind of man cannot measure.”