On February 9th, Mike Rider is going to lead a study on the Holy Spirit. The study will meet over Zoom for eight weeks and we want to invite you to be a part of the study. I believe the fact that Mike will lead this study is a work of the Holy Spirit. As you are all aware we continue to pray for the Lord to send us a youth minister. While we wait on the Lord, I have felt a pull to minister to the youth on Wednesday nights which means that I need to step away from the Sacred Circle Bible Study for a season. I had been praying and asking the Lord for direction and one morning as I was sitting in silence, Mike Rider’s name came to me and I was led to ask him if he’d be willing to facilitate a study on the Holy Spirit. Mike and I met and he agreed to look over the material, pray, and seek the Lord’s council. When we met, he told me that he actually led a study on the Holy Spirit a number of years ago at Bethel. I thought, “Wow, the Lord could really be doing something here. That can’t be a coincidence.”
I asked Mike about how the Holy Spirit has guided his life over the years. He said, “I grew up in a Pentecostal house church and the Holy Spirit was pretty important to me. I learned early on that the Holy Spirit is a person, the third person of the Trinity.” Mike said he came to Christ early on in life, but like many of us, he said, “I wanted God in the car, but just not at the wheel. I liked to be in control.” Also like many of us, it took a tragedy in Mike’s life to highlight just how much we need the Lord. Mike’s mother, Dolores Rider, battled Melanoma for several years. At one point they thought they had the cancer under control. She got clean scans for eight years, but then the doctors discovered a tumor in her abdomen. Doctors removed the tumor, but it grew back and it was inoperable. They did everything they could do until there was nothing else to do. Mike was called to Georgia where his parents lived to say goodbye. Mike said, “When I got there and walked in the room my mom had gone back so much that I couldn’t even recognize her.”
That visit was Mike’s last visit with her, she passed away shortly after Mike returned to Richmond. She was 58 years old. Mike said, “I was in shock. It was a really bad time for me. I wasn’t prepared to say goodbye and then there were some things that happened afterward that I wasn’t prepared to handle. For seven or eight years I was walking through the desert. The only way out of the hole I was in was through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit saw me through that time and often it was the Spirit working through other people. One of my co-workers kept inviting me to Promise Keepers Rallies. I kept turning him down; I kept making excuses. In reality, I knew I needed it, but just kept telling him no and kept my heart closed. Finally, I relented and went to a Promise Keepers rally, which was held on the infield of Charlotte Motor Speedway.
It was in the middle of June in 95-degree heat.” Mike’s wife, Paige, quips, “This had to be the work of the Holy Spirit because two things that Mike hates are crowds and the heat! Some people have mountain top experiences, but the Lord had to put Mike through ‘hell’ in order to soften his heart.” Mike said, “It was the Holy Spirit working through Promise Keepers and other really good friends that helped me out of the desert. Looking back there were lots of little things that let me know that the Lord was with me.”
For example, Mike said his mom was famous for stockpiling items that were on sale. “If I needed a new pair of blue jeans, I’d tell my mom and she’d go back to the closet and pull a pair out of her stockpile. I’ve even seen her buy dog food that was on sale and we didn’t have a dog! She’d bless our neighbors with some dog food. She just loved finding deals.”
One day, about 10 years after his mother passed away, Mike was sitting with his dad on the front porch of his father’s mountain cabin enjoying the view. His dad told him that the Lord really blessed him with Dolores. He said, “She’s still looking out for me, even though she’s been gone for 10 years.” Mike said, “How does she do that?” “Well, I opened my last pack of underwear that she bought me this morning!” Mike just laughed. He said it’s moments like that where God whispers to him.
“It’s little things that I go back to again and again and now I understand where those little things come from. The Holy Spirit is with us all the time, he’s inside of you. If you know how the Spirit works, you can give God the credit.” One thing I appreciate about Mike is his humility. He said he told one of his daughters, “Anything coming out of me that’s good is from the Holy Spirit. God gets the credit. Anything coming out of me that’s bad, that’s me.” One thing that Paige shared that I think sums up Mike’s experience is this, “When Mike had that seven or eight-year walk through the desert, he missed a lot of blessings because he missed where the Spirit was leading him. Once he began to be led by the Spirit, many, many blessings began to come into his life.”
One thing I pray is that our church would be led by the Holy Spirit. I pray that my life and your life will be Holy Spirit led. If you would like to learn more about the Holy Spirit and get closer to the Lord then please consider signing up for Mike’s class. Again, it starts on February 9th over Zoom. The cost of the book is $10 and you can sign up by calling the church office.
I want to thank Mike for his willingness to lead this study and I’m certain you’ll be blessed if you take the study. May God bless Mike and Paige Rider and their family and may God bless Bethel Baptist Church!