Archive for the 'Weekly Email' Category

Hi from Greg 10.17.2010

We’re into our second week of fall Wednesday night programming at Cedar Ridge. Awana for kids grew in its second week at our Sapulpa campus. Thanks to all our volunteer leaders serving in that area. See our website for what’s being offered at our respective campuses on Wednesday nights.

If you were gone Sunday, you missed a great message by guest speaker and Ozark Christian College President, Matt Proctor. Matt spoke on The Power of a Praying Church from Acts 1:12-14. He challenged us to consider the depth of our prayers, the width of our prayer and the length of our prayers. If you missed it, you can always get the message on our website at cedarridgecc.com. This Sunday, we start a new series called, Runner. It’s based on the Old Testament prophet and original runner, Jonah. Read Jonah chapter one if you want a sneak preview.

Don’t forget to pick up some of our new Cedar Ridge Invite Cards. One of the primary reasons we come together as a church is to empower us to help others find Christ. You do that by simply living a Christ-filled life every day as a testimony. You also do that by inviting someone from your circle of influence to church with you. Our Invite Card are a great reminder and source for all the pertinent information when inviting someone to church.

Look forward to seeing you (and a friend) at one of our campuses this Sunday.

Finish Line Faith


When we talk about mission at Cedar Ridge, we talk about being a place where anyone can find Christ. And though I’m sure we have plenty of room to grow in the areas of acceptance and sharing our faith, there’s no doubt that we have been in a season of increased spirit movement and individual response. Do you realize we have had baptisms every Sunday since Easter? For seven consecutive Sundays, people have been obedient to Jesus, died to themselves, been raised from that watery grave to experience new life in Jesus Christ. Would you keep praying for God’s spirit to move and for people to respond during the invitation and for the baptismal waters to be continually stirred?

Some of you have asked about the free memory verse mobile app I mentioned this past Sunday. Bible Memory Verses by Woody Hays is what I downloaded and have recently used. There are others to choose from. The context of that free commercial was when I was talking about two things you need to finish: You need to surround yourself with good people and you need to fill yourself with the Good Book. One of the ways you fill up on God’s Word is to commit some of it to memory. This app is just a convenient way to help you do so. If you didn’t get a chance to hear the sermon on Sunday,go to cedarridgecc.com/podcasts.

We wrap up our Finish Line Faith series from 2 Timothy this week. We’ll look at the fourth chapter of this letter from Paul and see his final words to Timothy to finish strong. Why not read the final chapter in preparation for Sunday.

Rich Toward God Conclusion

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Sunday, we finished our Rich Toward God series and I could almost sense the relief. Our oldest son, Tanner, called his mom last week (He gets my weekly email, but attends church elsewhere with his wife) and said, “Tell Dad he better quit always talking about giving in his emails or people will think that’s all the church talks about.”

That’s certainly been our focus the last four weeks. Thank you to those who read along in our accompanying book. Thank you to those who discussed the material in their Journey Groups or other settings. And thank you to those who made commitments at the end of our series. Many committed to start tithing. Many committed to increase their giving beyond the tithe. I’m looking forward to how God will provide for those who trust him.

If you missed any or all of the Rich Toward God sermons, you can always go back and listen anytime at cedarridgecc.com.

Some of the questions people have before they contribute to any organization are such: Are the leaders of the organization trustworthy and have they shown themselves to be good stewards? Can I be confident that the money I give is not being misused or misappropriated? So I asked Robin Smith, our Business Administrator, to give me just a quick list of things that Cedar Ridge does to assure financial accountability.

• While our Business Administrator deals with the day-to-day finances, our appointed Treasurer (also an Elder) provides oversight and accountability.
• Separate personnel complete each step of the accounting process (count offerings, post giving, issue checks).
• The counting of offerings is always done as a team.
• Church expenditures are reviewed by more than one person.
• All expenditures require receipt or documentation.
• A recent in-house audit was performed with positive results.
• Monthly financial statements are always available to any member upon request.

I might also add that no staff member (other than our Business Administrator) including myself, nor Elder (other than our treasurer) has access to giving records or knowledge of what any individual gives. We teach it. We encourage it. We expect it of our members. But ultimately, what you give is between you and God. We trust that you will be rich toward him.

Sunday, I start a new series called, The Story of Everything. In this series we’ll look at some of the fundamental beliefs of our church understanding that they are really just a part of a big story that is unfolding through eternity. I look forward to seeing you Sunday.

Advancing the Kingdom

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Have you ever thought of being intentional with your giving – so that you can be a part of advancing the kingdom of God? Unfortunately, many don’t consider the benefits of using economic resources for spiritual purposes like Jesus talks about in Luke 16. Sunday, I talked about what happens when we start “placing treasure” toward kingdom causes:

1. We align ourselves with God’s agenda.
2. Part of God’s “To Do” List Is accomplished.
3. God allocates funds toward our heavenly account.
4. God is pleased with our giving.
5. God extends his personal resources to us.

The truth is, at the end of life, the only thing that will matter is what you and I invest with the Lord. So, how are you coming?

Can I share with you one secret that has helped Andrea and I to be more faithful in this area of giving? We started giving to God FIRST – before we made the mortgage payment and even before we went to Wal-mart. We found that if we waited until after we paid the bills, it affected how much we thought we could give. By prioritizing God, and giving to him first, it kept us from short-changing our offering. Proverbs 3:9 says, “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops.”

One of the most practical things that has helped us to be more disciplined, is to give our tithe online. Like many, we now pay the majority of our bills through an online bill-paying service offered by our personal bank. Our bank cuts the check and even mails it to the church for us. We never see it, so there’s no chance of misplacing it or holding it until a later date. And when we have to miss church, we can still be faithful in our giving. What might happen before is, I would write a check, but get busy on Sunday morning and possibly forget to put it in the offering. I might find it days later in my pocket, then have to remember to put it in the offering next week (if the money was still there). It’s not that we didn’t want to be consistent; we just didn’t have an avenue that worked for us. This works for us. If giving online helps you to be faithful, then why not take advantage of it?

Remember, we have one brief opportunity – a life time on earth – to use our resources to make a difference.

Here this sermon at cedarridgecc.com.

Giving Generously

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February 2, 2010

Sunday I talked about five “windows” that tithing opens for us.

1. The window of mutual commitment. Tithing says, “I’m loyal to God and he’s loyal to me. I can trust him to take care of me.”
2. The window of personal provision. Tithing puts us into a position to be blessed by God.
3. The window of financial order. Tithing puts discipline into your spending, protecting you from greed and materialism.
4. The window of spiritual identity. Tithing identifies us as “people of God.”
5. The window of ministry impact. Tithing releases resources to support ministry and ministry activities.

If you’re new to this, tithing refers to the practice of giving at least 10 percent of one’s income back to God to be used in ministry. The Israelites were to give 10 percent of their income or crops making it possible for the priests to feed the poor and receive support for their living expenses. Their gifts were used to support ministry. Malachi 3:10 instructed them to, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse…” The storehouse in the Old Testament was the temple. The storehouse in the New Testament is the church. When we tithe into the storehouse of the church, we are releasing funds into the care of church leaders to use those resources to support ministry and ministry activities. For that reason, I believe your tithe should go to the church you attend. Now there may be causes and projects that you are passionate about and want to help fund. The Bible differentiates that as an offering, and it should be given over and beyond our regular tithe.

When it comes to where we give our tithe, Pastor Barry Cameron says, “Remember, we’re to bring the tithe into the storehouse where we are cared for and led. You don’t eat at Burger King and say, ‘I appreciate the food, but I’m going to go down to Taco Bell and give them my money.’ It doesn’t work that way. We’re to bring the tithe, God’s tithe to the storehouse where we’re cared for and led.”

Another conviction I have is that the tithe belongs to God. We are not free to designate it, divide it, or direct it wherever we want. Unfortunately, some people want to say to the church, “Take my tithe and use it for this or apply it to that.” We can’t do that. That’s God’s tithe. In the Old Testament, priests administered the tithes and offerings. Today, Church Elders are charged with that responsibility. They are to take the tithes we bring and prayerfully and carefully direct their use. It’s important for church members to trust their decisions and not try to direct their tithes to their favorite ministries. Not only is that questionable legally, it creates problems for those who track our finances. Now occasionally, there are missions that we support or projects we tackle in which we ask members to consider giving a designated gift, over and above their tithe (like we’re doing now with the Northwest Haiti Christian Mission). But the norm should be to give our tithe to God and trust him for the distribution.

Ultimately, the question of tithing comes down to this, “What do you fear most? Not having enough or not having the involvement of your heavenly father in the realm of your finances.” I hope you’ll take the challenge to start tithing or to grow in your tithing.

Sunday, I also updated you on our current financial situation at Cedar Ridge. For 2009, our giving was about 15 percent down from the previous year. That is a trend many churches are experiencing now. We have certainly been affected by the economy; some members are unemployed or have taken a lesser-paying position. Because of that, we have adjusted expenses accordingly. In crafting our 2010 budget, a 15 percent cut was reflected. Unfortunately since some expenses, like utility costs and mission support, aren’t optional; it means that many of our key ministries took a 40 percent cut in funding. In addition to that, we have cut back our building payments to the minimum amount of principal and interest required by the bank, instead of paying extra on the principal to accelerate our debt reduction.

The good news is that we have not had to lay off staff or cut salaries as many churches have been forced to do. We have not had to cut our mission support. We’re still giving 13 cents of every dollar that’s given, to mission efforts around the world. And God still owns it all. May we be faithful stewards.

If you missed Sunday’s sermon, you can always go back and listen anytime at cedarridgecc.com. Don’t forget to read Chapter Three of the book, Rich Toward God, this week.

Trusting God

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Sunday, I kicked-off a new series called Rich toward God. I asked you to consider four decisions to help you increase your trust in God when it comes to your finances.

1. Put your greed on notice.
Jesus said in Luke 12:15, “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Decide that you will keep your greed in check.

2. Recognize your true source.
It wasn’t the rich man and his hard work that produced a good crop. It was the laws of nature that God put into place. 1 Chronicles 29:12 says, “Both riches and honor come from You…” Everything belongs to God. We are just temporary stewards.

3. Do your giving while you’re living.
Don’t do what the rich fool did. He died and his stuff passed on to someone else, without his approval or blessing. He refused to be generous in life, but he had no choice in death. One day, every single one of us will give away everything we have. Are you getting ready…while you have the choice?

4. Make God and His kingdom your top priority.
The problem with the rich man was that he left out God. He was rich toward himself but he wasn’t rich toward God. Jesus said in Luke 12:31, “But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”

If you missed Sunday’s sermon, you can always go back and listen anytime at cedarridgecc.com. Don’t forget to read chapter two of the book, Rich toward God, this week.

It’s not too late to sign up for the estate planning seminar, Sunday night at 6:00 pm at our Broken Arrow campus. Over a hundred people already have. There is no cost for the seminar, but you do need a reservation.  Reserve your spot by emailing Janice Wilmoth at jwilmoth@cedarridgecc.com or calling the church office, 254-0621 and register with the receptionist.

Looking forward to celebrating with you this Sunday!

Church is a Verb – Connecting

Church is a verb and this week’s action word is connecting. John Ortberg in his book, “Everybody’s Normal Till You Get to Know Them,” references a study done by Harvard social scientists who tracked the lives of 7,000 people over nine years.

Researchers found that the most isolated people were three times more likely to die than people with strong relational connections. People who had bad health habits (such as smoking, poor eating habits, obesity, or alcohol use) but strong social ties lived significantly longer than people who had great health habits but were isolated. In other words, it is better to eat Twinkies with good friends than to eat broccoli alone. Harvard Researcher Robert Putnam notes that if you belong to no groups but decide to join one, “you cut your risk of dying over the next year in half.”

That’s no surprise to God. Romans 12:5 reminds us, “…we belong to each other and each of us needs all the others” (NLT). You need some like-minded, loving, encouraging people in your life who are committed to you. Why not join a Journey Group? It seems Harvard Researchers would agree – join a Journey Group and you’ll live longer. If you missed my sermon on this Sunday, you can always go back and listen anytime at http://cedarridgecc.com/podcasts/.

Thank you for praying for our leadership this past weekend. We had a great series of meetings with a church consultant to help our Staff and Elders lead Cedar Ridge more effectively in the future. Our leaders are on “information overload” right, but I’m sure after some processing we’ll be sharing some of the things learned.

Church is a Verb

What do you think about the following statement? The church isn’t called to simply be a gathering place, but to be an action-oriented group of believers who recognize their role in God’s redemptive plan of this world and willingly participate in it. I love the idea of associating church with movement. After all, that’s real Christianity. It’s not so much a religion as it is a movement. It is action-oriented. James 2:17, “…faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

That’s exactly what I’m talking about in our current series, Church is a Verb. There are actions we must be about as the Body of Christ; to celebrate…to connect…to contribute. Sunday I talked about the idea of celebrating in worship using King David as our model who said unashamedly, “I will celebrate before the Lord” (2 Samuel 6:21 NIV). In his celebration, David was recognizing God’s activity, he was respecting God’s holiness and he was appreciating God’s presence. He worshiped God passionately. He worshiped God physically. He worshiped God humbly. May we do the same each Sunday morning as we come together to celebrate. If you missed Sunday’s sermon, you can always go back and listen anytime at http://cedarridgecc.com/podcasts/.

Would you pray for our Staff and Elders this weekend? We have invited a church consultant to come in and help us think ahead and plan for the future of Cedar Ridge. That is not something our leadership takes lightly and we covet your prayers.

Look forward to seeing you Sunday.

Happy New Year

You may not think of New Years as having a lot of spiritual significance, but of all holidays it may most connect with the Christian. The Bible tells us, “…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17)! If you’re glad that this past year (and its hurts and painful memories) is over and are looking forward to the new year (with all its hope and potential), it’s really just a celebration of something bigger going on within us; the truth that we have been “crucified with Christ and no longer live” (Galatians 2:20) so that in Christ we “may live a new life” (Romans 6:4).

I hope you have a Blessed and Happy New Year celebrating the new life you enjoy in Christ Jesus!

The Born Ultimatum

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December 22, 2009

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas remembering God’s ultimate mission into our world, “to reconcile to himself all things…” (Colossians 1:20). And I can think of no better way to celebrate Christmas than to take on “the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18) and bring people together. Look for opportunities where you can be one of “those who work for peace” (Matthew 5:9 NLT) and instead of just “having” Christmas this year, be one who “practices” Christmas.

If you missed Sunday’s sermon from The Born Series, where I can into further detail on this, you can always go back and listen anytime at cedarridgecc.com/.

It’s not too late to invite someone to our Christmas Eve Services on Thursday, December 24th, 5:00 and 6:30 pm at our Broken Arrow campus.

Have a Merry Christmas!

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