About 350 years ago, a shipload of travelers landed on the northeast coast of America. The first year they established a town site. The next year they elected a town government. The third year the town government planned to build a road five miles westward into the wilderness. In the fourth year the people tried to impeach their town government because they thought it was a waste of public funds to build a road five miles westward into a wilderness. Who needed to go there anyway?
Here were people who had the vision to see three thousand miles across an ocean and overcome great hardships to get there. But in just a few years they were not able to see even five miles out of town. They had lost their pioneering vision. With a clear vision of what we can become in Christ, no ocean of difficulty is too great. Without it, we rarely move beyond our current boundaries.
I am glad that for over six decades Ridgecrest has been building roads “westward.” We have been engaged in a magnificent journey with God. During that time, we have experienced miracles and expanded the mission entrusted to us by God that birthed our congregation from humble beginnings in a home, with a handful of committed followers, to the wonderful campus and congregation of more than 4,000 members today.
Every great work of God begins with a dream, an ideal, or a vision in someone’s mind, put there by God and only accomplished through His power and for His glory. Ephesians 3:20-21 says, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
After forty years of ministry, speaking in scores of churches across the country, I have observed two things about healthy congregations. First, they are full of people who “Believe.” That is, they believe God, they are characterized by a great faith in Him. Second, they are people driven by a God-given mission for God’s Kingdom and are committed to carry out their role in its fulfillment through their church. Those distinctives were characteristic of the New Testament Church and are still true today.
These two observations are also true of Ridgecrest over the decades. It is one of many reasons why I am thrilled to launch our “Freedom Campaign” today. Our theme scripture is Galatians 5:1 “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Don’t misunderstand, this campaign is not just about freedom from debt, it’s about freedom to go forward in our work for the future, for our future, and the future of those yet to come who will hear the gospel because of our faithfulness here and now. It’s part of our continued journey onward. It represents a journey toward Freedom financially, but even more so, it is a journey that frees us to carry on our mission for God without encumbrances. This isn’t about getting “Free” to Build something else, and it isn’t about getting “Free” to Buy something else. It is instead about getting “Free” to Be something more for God.
God has led us on this great journey thus far, but the journey never ends until we gather together in His presence in the Kingdom of heaven. So, join me and let’s keep pushing “westward” to places God has designed for us, places that we cannot even see at the moment. And remember, God is always trying to take us someplace new! I love being your Pastor!
Onward For God’s Glory,