October 20, 2014

God Working Through Podcasts

...at Riverside Church

Brian attended Riverside back when it was beside the river. He grew up here, attended a Christian school, and had great parents—a mom who planted many, many seeds. Still, after graduation, Brian fled Ft. Myers, never to step inside a church for over 25 years. He’d been hurt and wanted nothing to do with Christians. God wasn’t done with Brian, though. After years of “living the good life,” it took a medical crisis—a brush with death—for Brian to slow down long enough to reevaluate his life, his purpose, and his future. He knew God was there, somewhere in the background of it all, but he had no personal relationship with Jesus, wasn’t living out what he’d learned when he grew up, and had stopped growing in his faith. He had no one to share it with, and he began to feel a tugging at his heart for something more.

While recovering and caring for his dad back here in Ft. Meyers, Brian kept feeling like he should get back in church. He started listening to various podcasts and came across one of Bob Reed’s. It gripped him immediately, so he listened to several more. He felt really drawn to Bob, like he was speaking directly to him. It was almost disturbing, “as if the dude already knew me or something,” he recalls. He kept finding himself driving past Riverside, not even realizing it was the same church he grew up in.

When he could stand it no more, Brian decided he had to meet this Bob guy—see if he was for real. The first week, Eric preached. Brian loved it, the sermon, the people, the music...but where was Bob? He came back again, and Eric preached another fantastic sermon. Bob was recovering from surgery. Brian kept returning until at last he met Bob, and sure enough, he was the real deal. Bob introduced him to Ron Detwiler, and before he knew it, he found himself in a Life Group and Men’s Fraternity, surrounded by friends, sharing what God is doing in their lives, working out their faith, and doing life together.

Brian can’t believe he’s back in the same church he grew up in, and he can’t believe he loves hanging out with Christians. He’s staying in Ft. Meyers to care for his dad, and his life is being transformed. Praise God for using podcasts, Bob’s messages, to draw one of Riverside’s “kids” back to a thriving relationship with others in the body and with Christ.

September 17, 2014

God working through His Disciples in Life Groups

                                                                 ...at Riverside Church 
We all want to “belong.” Joining, or even visiting, a Life Group can be a rather scary prospect for some folks, though. “Doing life” alone is even scarier, however. Pastor Bob recently preached, man’s first crisis was being alone. God said it was not good...and He made Adam a companion. This week, a new couple at Riverside attended a Life Group for their first time. Here’s a part of the letter the Life Group leaders received after that first visit: 
I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for the wonderful hospitality that you extended to us this evening. Once again there is proof that God indeed answers prayers. When we moved here, I prayed that the Lord would help us find a new church that would meet our needs, most importantly a church that truly had a love for the Lord and one in which we could feel as if we belonged. I believe he has done that for us in Riverside. 
We also wanted to be in a small group but wanted one wherein there were like-minded people who love the Lord and who shared that love with others. I know we have found that as well. We are excited about belonging to your group and look forward to forming relationships with everyone. Your group feels like a family and that was so important to us.  
My husband is a very private man and has had difficulty over the years in forming trusting relationships with other men. He’s always been hesitant to “open up” with them. We talked about that on the way home, and he said he felt comfortable with the group and was looking forward to being there. It will be a slow process for him to open up, as I said, but I think he is looking forward to the opportunity. While he has remained a part of the denomination he grew up in, he told me that it’s probably the reason he’s been so mistrusting. So, for me, it is a true blessing that he is opening up his mind to new possibilities. He loves the Lord but has not shared his love of his faith with many others beside myself.  
So this is simply to say Thank you for your kind welcome tonight and your warmth and kindness you showed us. You are both true disciples of God. 
 Praise God for drawing this couple to Riverside and to this Life Group, meeting their needs. Praise God for allowing us to be a family, His family, growing together into disciples that love and live like Jesus.