An Open Letter to Parade Organizers

An Open Letter to Parade Organizers

Word in Season

Dear Community Leaders,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

Pastor Mike Johnson
Ridgeview Bible Church

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

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

Announcements Word in Season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do pray. Please and thank you!

Introducing The Ridgeview Podcast

Introducing The Ridgeview Podcast

Announcements

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

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

Click here to check it out!

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

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

Announcements

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

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

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

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

Meet Lyubov Zheleva

Meet Lyubov Zheleva

Missions

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

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

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

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

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

 

Meet Tanya Batueva

Meet Tanya Batueva

Missions

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

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

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

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

On Sunday (May 10) We Gather

On Sunday (May 10) We Gather

Announcements

Dear Church Family,

On May 4, a new set of directed health measures went into effect for our area, and churches have been formally exempted from the 10-person limit on gatherings. Accordingly, we plan to gather together as a church on Sunday, May 10 at 10:30 AM. I can hardly wait. It feels like it has been years!

We will need to comply with a few conditions/stipulations from the authorities. So please note the following:

  1. The 6-foot Rule:
    1. Households are encouraged to sit together in the Worship Center, and maintain a seating distance of three seats from other households seated in the same row.
    2. Seating will be arranged with six feet of distance between the rows. Because most of the college students and all of the Job Corps students are presently away from Chadron, we believe we can use this method to both accommodate all who wish to come and also adhere to the distancing guidelines.
    3. Please do not congregate in the Worship Foyer and limit fellowship in high-traffic areas (entrances and exits). It might be better to fellowship outside, keeping six-feet apart.
    4. No nursery or child-care services will be provided. Parents, please keep your children with you, and help them comply with the 6-foot guidance.
    5. No coffee or beverage services will be available.
    6. Please avoid handshaking or hugging.
  2. The Lord’s Supper: we plan to observe the Lord’s Supper together. Special arrangements will be made so that the elements can be distributed while maintaining the social-distancing guidance.

Of course, if you are in an at-risk demographic, are constrained by work or quarantine requirements, or simply feel unsafe attending the meeting we would encourage you to stay home. We will still livestream the service so you can follow along from home. And we look forward to the day when all of us can gather together again.

I hope to see you this Sunday.

In Christ,

Pastor Mike, for the Elder Team

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

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.