Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Following Jesus When You Feel Hopeless by Kyle Idleman

One night I received a call around 9:00 in the evening from a good friend of mine whose wedding I had performed. He told me he and his wife were getting a divorce. I asked, “Well, why don’t you come in and let’s just talk for a bit. Can we talk? Can we at least do that?”
“There’s no point in talking,” he responded. I said, “Well, just the two of you go see a counselor. It’s worth that. Just go visit one time. I’ll pay for it. Just go one time.” He said, “No, you don’t understand. I’m not calling for help. I’m calling to tell you it’s over.” Then he said, “The situation is hopeless.”


Have You Ever Felt Hopeless?

  • You can’t see past the diabetes or the dialysis.
  • You have a prodigal child whose shadow seems far from the road towards home.
  • Your career is stuck at the end of a dead-end road.
  • You can’t see past the pile of bills
  • You can’t imagine life without chemotherapy.
But when we follow Jesus, something changes. Well, something can change. In Romans 5:5, Paul speaks of a hope that doesn't disappoint and flows no matter the situation.  I don’t know about you, but I am interested in a hope like that.

Hope That Leads To Disappointment

It has been my experience that hope almost inevitably leads to disappointment. I think back to my daughter Macy’s sixth birthday. She was so excited -- she had the whole day planned out. In the morning, I would take her and two friends to Chuck E. Cheese for breakfast. From Chuck E. Cheese we would go to Champ’s Rollerdome for roller-skating. Next we would go out to Huber’s Farm. After Huber’s Farm would be a stop at Build-a-Bear Workshop. The celebration would finally conclude at Puzzles Fun Dome with more pizza and birthday presents.
She had even gone to the trouble of making a list of presents and had her older sister transcribe it for her. A CD player was at the very top of her list. The list also included pink hair-coloring, play makeup and an Easy-Bake Oven WITH food. Number twelve on the list was chocolate ice cream. Number thirteen said, “More chocolate ice cream.” And, finally, a dalmatian puppy and a pony.
Let me tell you how her birthday actually unfolded. She woke up and went to school even though going to school wasn’t on her list. Then, she had a doctor’s appointment. After that we did go to Build-a-Bear Workshop, after which we had dinner at "On The Border". We returned home to open up presents, none of which exceeded $40 in value. I am sad to report there was no Dalmatian and no pony. That was how her day went. She had a great time. It was a lot of fun. But it wasn’t what she was hoping for. 
We’re always hoping, and yet it seems like there is always disappointment along the way in life.”
— Kyle Idleman
We are always hoping and yet almost always disappointed. We hope to make the team and hope to get invited to the prom. We hope to get into the right school. We hope to get married. We hope to get the promotion. We hope to have kids. We hope that one day those kids will leave the house. We hope for an early retirement. We hope for good health. We’re always hoping, and yet it seems like there is always disappointment along the way in life. You don’t make the team or get invited to the prom. You don’t get the right job or you’ve had it up to here with your kids.

Hope That Never Disappoints

I’ve noticed that even when we get what we hoped for, we often still find that we’re disappointed. Things don’t live up to our expectations. And, after enough disappointment, we lower our expectations and then we settle. We accept that it is just the way life is.
But it doesn’t have to be. Remember in Romans 5 when Paul said he found a hope that doesn’t disappoint? In Philippians 3 he writes,
Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord!”  
This is significant because Paul was was under house arrest and was chained to a Roman guard. Not only was he a prisoner, but he also faced the possibility of execution at any moment. Despite his grim circumstances, his letter to the Philippians focused on finding JOY.
Why? Because his hope was in the right place. As a follower (not a fan) of Jesus, Paul had found joy by placing all his hope in Jesus. 
Followers whose hope is completely placed in Jesus will never face disappointment.”
— Kyle Idleman
Paul went on to warn his readers how easy it was to put hope in the wrong things. He wrote about false teachers (or fans of Jesus) who taught about hope in Jesus PLUSsomething else. They taught about a need for Jesus, but also a need to center life around hope in something else. Paul emphasized that it’s not Jesus plus anything.  Followers whose hope is completely placed in Jesus will never face disappointment.

The Most Valuable Hope Of All

Have you ever thrown away something valuable? I have. It happened several years ago. I walked into our garage on garbage day and noticed four garbage bags lined up in a row along the side. I grabbed them all, put them in the garbage can and wheeled them out to the street. 
Later that afternoon, my wife called me and said, “Kyle, did you take out all the garbage bags?” I knew she was about to give me well-deserved praise and a huge thank-you for my hard work and initiative.
So I said, “Yes, honey, I did. I took out all the garbage bags, even the ones over on the side.” That's when she informed me that the garbage bags were full of maternity clothes belonging to her and my sister. Apparently, they both planned to use them again at some point in the future. She also explained the value, cost and difficulty of shopping for quality maternity clothes and ended with, "we'll talk about this more when you get home.” I stayed at the office a little longer that day.
Some things don’t seem to belong in the garbage. That’s exactly how Paul’s readers would have seen the list accomplishments Paul was tempted to put his hope in. Accomplishments are very valuable but Paul says, “No, compared to knowing Christ, it’s all garbage.”
I think of the things we can be tempted to put our hope in:
  • Job
  • Education
  • Marriage
  • Parents
  • The success of our kids.
  • Financial security
These are all good things. These are all valuable things, but compared to knowing and following Jesus, they're all rubbish.
Beyond rubbish, they are all things that will ultimately cause disappointment. In the end, they won’t do for us what we wanted. They won’t live up to our expectations. Fortunately, followers have another option because there is a hope that doesn’t disappoint.

His name is Jesus.

KYLE IDLEMAN is the teaching pastor at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, and is the author of the award-winning and bestselling book, not a fan. Blog originally posted on https://www.cityonahillstudio.com/blog/following-jesus-when-you-feel-hopeless 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Pastor Appreciation Month

It's Pastor Appreciation Month and we have one of the best! Take this opportunity to share give Pastor Mike a big "Thank you!".

Thank you, Pastor Mike, for all you do, the wisdom you share, your humility, and the jokes you tell. You are one of a kind and we are so thankful you followed God's leading 18 years ago to start The

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Meet The Ridge Staff: Angela Derby; Global Cafe Leader

Tell us about yourself.

I have been married to my wonderful husband, Craig for 11 years. We have a 5 year old son, Hunter, who is in kindergarten. I was born and raised in Ankeny, so other than my collage years and a few years after that, I have lived here my whole life—it is exciting to raise my son in the same community I grew up in.

What's your role at The Ridge?
I am the leader of the Global Cafe. It is very exciting to serve our Ridge members their morning beverages on Sundays…and to know that the whole purpose of the cafe is to raise money to use for mission. It is very rewarding indeed.

What brought you to The Ridge? 
Craig and I were members of another church and were invited to attend a service at the Ridge in 2009, we absolutely loved it! I was drawn in that day by the unbelievable music by the worship team, Pastor Mike’s sermon and how welcoming all the members were. We have been attending ever since!

If you could do anything what would you do?
I would travel the world. I have been blessed to be able to travel a lot with my family - it is amazing to me to experience other cultures.

What was your favorite thing to do in PE?

I loved PE! I love all things sports related, but my favorite thing was playing basketball.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Meet the Ridge Staff: Joni Pine - Director of Connection

1. What is your job at The Ridge?
Director of Connection – I oversee our Ridge Welcome Team and work closely with new families and individuals at the church to help them get plugged in to the life of the church.
2. Favorite thing about your job?
Connecting with people and seeing them connect with others. I love people!
3. Least favorite thing about your job?
Desk work…it needs to get done but I never mind an interruption which is why they put me next to Marco (our printer).
4. Tell us about your relationship with God.
He’s my best friend and who I start and end my day with. I talk to him all the time and I love it when He talks to me (when I’m listening). My spiritual pathway is worship and it is the quickest way to center me and change my day!
5. What are you studying now?
The Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5) I’m in a Beth Moore Living Beyond Yourself study with my Women’s Group and it is amazing…I love digging in the Word!
6. What brought you to The Ridge?
Personal invitation by our college friends Mindy and Graham Schardt.
7. Favorite Ridge memory.
10 Year Anniversary Cardboard Testimonies
8. Tell us about your family.
My husband Derek and I celebrated our 15 year wedding anniversary in June. We are Junior High Sweethearts, however, so we’ve been a couple well over half of our lives (there are amusing photos to prove it). Derek serves our church as a drummer and designer. Miya is 12 and in 6th grade. She is amazing gifts in compassion and serves on the Sparks Team in Ridge Kids. Miya sings, plays drums and is also learning the guitar. She plays volleyball as well. Isaiah is eight and just about to begin 2nd Grade at Crocker Elementary. He is full of intensity and loves all things sports. We are blessed that both of our families live close and Derek’s parents attend the Ridge as well.
9. Favorite Bible Verse
Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;  in his love he will no longer rebuke you,  but will rejoice over you with singing.

Would you rather…
1. Read on a Kindle or paperback book?
Both…I like the variety…probably paperback because I like to underline
2. Go to a play or musical?
Musical…I like to sing along
3. Go to the theater or a movie?
Theater to dress-up…Movie to get popcorn
4. Hike or bike?
5. Wear jeans or chinos?
6. Crash with friends or stay in a hotel?
Friends at a hotel with a spa
7. Visit Europe or Mexico?
8. Travel by plane, train, or automobile?
9. Enjoy a houseboat or speed boat?
10. Go climbing or zip lining?
Zip lining

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Meet The Ridge Staff: Brandy Young, Director of Support & Small Group Ministries

1.      What is your job at The Ridge?
Director of Support and Small Group Ministries
2.    Favorite thing about your job?
I’m new to my job, but I love challenging and encouraging people in their faith – being able to meet people where they are through support groups and doing life together through small groups.
3.    Tell us about your relationship with God.
I met Jesus in my twenties and He completely flipped the script of my life.  I was one of those stubborn ones who had to be humbled by life and brought to my knees before I figured out what I was meant to do there – pray and surrender – and a radical transformation followed.  While He completely captured my heart, I’ve learned that my relationship with the Lord requires daily tending to fully live out His ways.  He is my ultimate purpose and greatest adventure.
4.    What brought you to The Ridge?
I moved to Ankeny a couple years ago when I got married and my husband was already attending The Ridge.  I didn’t feel connected right away, but I started volunteering with the Junkyard and was won over by the love and community of the sponsors and youth.  So I guess you could say that my husband introduced me and the Junkyard kept me!
5.     Favorite Ridge memory.
I’m not sure if it is my favorite but perhaps the most memorable – getting applesauce dumped on my head during a Junkyard event.  You’d be surprised how difficult it is to wash applesauce from your hair!
6.    Tell us about your family.
I’m married to the man I affectionately call #handyhubs (despite his pleas for me to stop).  We met while both working at John Deere and transitioned from co-workers to friends to husband and wife.  I acquired 3 teenage step kids in the deal: Brea is a sophomore at the University of Iowa and the twins, Lane and Karrena, are juniors at Ankeny Centennial.  Despite how scary it sounds to become a step-mom of 3 teenagers…they’re awesome and I wouldn’t trade them…(on most days)…
7.     Favorite Bible Verse
I’m always taken by God’s sovereignty and have found much comfort in Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will  make your paths straight.
8.    Favorite Quote
A Franciscan Benediction:  “May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.  May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.  May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain in to joy.  And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.”
9.    Favorite Spot to connect with God
In nature, by a body or source of water.
10.           Favorite spot in your house.
My prayer closet!  #handyhubs converted our basement storm shelter room into a prayer room.  Cozy, serene, I love it!
11.   What is your favorite book?
It is hard to pick just one but Love Does by Bob Goff brought so much joy to my life!
Would you rather…
1.      Read on a Kindle or paperback book? Paperback
2.    Hike or bike?  Both (off-road biking)
3.    Crash with friends or stay in a hotel?  Friends
4.    Visit Europe or Mexico?  Europe
5.     Enjoy a houseboat or speed boat?  Speed boat
6.    Go canoeing or waterskiing?  Waterskiing
7.     Watch sports or play sports?  Play sports
8.    Play dodgeball or kickball?  Dodgeball
9.    Get up early or stay up late?  Get up early