Friday, December 15, 2006

I read an article last night that was helpful for me. Bob Roberts, Pastor of Northwood Church in Keller, Texas, said that on a scale of 1 to 10, starting a church is a 10 when it comes to ministry. He should know; his church has started hundreds of churches. Anyway, there are days that I think starting a church and pastoring on a scale from 1 to 10 is around a 10.5. It takes faith to serve God no matter what you do. There are times that I have a little less faith than I should. This Sunday, I'm going to be somewhat transparent with our church as we examine the "Faith of Mary" in this "Experience the Nativity" Christmas series I'm doing. It's important for me to remember that "Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). I'm going to take that thought and run with it Sunday.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Happy birthday to my little bro, Phil Jr. For many years, we called him Phil Lee. As a kid I couldn't pronounce his name too well and called him "Oooh Wee." He's 34 today! He is currenlty the director of Admissions at Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. He has a beautiful family. I'm proud of him even if he isn't Southern Baptist anymore!
I have just discovered a great way to share my faith that makes so much sense. For many years, I have shared Christ using the four spiritual laws. I would start and say, "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life." I would then refer to the fact we have all sinned and fallen short of God's standard. Ray Comfort emphasizes in his method of sharing called "The Way of the Master," that we should point to the Law (the Ten Commandments) first. We must in a loving way show people their need for a Savior because of their sin. I think for far too long we have emphasized how Jesus can give you a full, meaningful, abundant, and purpose filled life. And that is true, He can and does. But, too many people sign on to Christianity because they want that life instead of realizing they are law breakers. Too many Christians bail out when life gets tough because they called out to Christ for the abundant life, not to save them from all of the big Ten Commandments they have broken. So, when life does get tough a true convert to Christianity is kept by the power of God and is grateful because his or her name is written in the Lamb's book of life. For more information on Ray Comfort's training materials, check out

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Ridgeview Community Christmas Eve Service at the Red Dutch Barn
Last year was the first year we did this at the Red Dutch Barn right off highway 101. It went really well. I think we may have started a tradition at Ridgeview. The barn is used for parties, etc and is a great environment. This year our worship leader, Milo Wilson, along with his family and members of the praise team, will be presenting Andrew Peterson's "Behold the Lamb of God." We'll also have a children's message given by Chris Crist. I will share a short devotion on "The Love of God." There willl be coffee, hot chocolate, and hot apple cider. One word of warning: the barn is drafty so bundle up. We will be able to heat it up until the worship service starts and then have to cut it off. I believe this will be one of the more unique Christmas Eve services around. I can't wait!

Monday, December 04, 2006

They will not be receiving any more of my business! Today on my day off I went to get my oil changed. It was around 12:45 pm. As I pulled up to the bay, the glass door was down and on the door it said to honk for service. I honked and waited for about 1 minute. No one appeared to help me. I honked again thinking no one heard me. A rather complacent young man comes out from the garage and opens the bay door and directs me in to the oil change pit. He's noticeably chewing something and as I get out of my car he walks over to his two other co-workers and joins them as they finish their Taco Bell value menu items. They just look at me as if to tell me they are annoyed I happened to come by during their lunch. I walk into the lobby area not sure what to do or say. Finally, I ask the most obvious question in the room, "Did I catch you guys at a bad time?" Lying through their teeth they said, "No, we'll take care of you" and then they proceeded to continue eating. As my anger began to rise, I told them I would catch them later (a kind way of saying I'm outta here) and got back into my car and drove off to another business that actually seemed to want my business. OK, I understand, everybody needs to eat lunch. But, a business that's open a set time actually needs to be prepared if a customer shows up. As a pastor I wonder if new people that show up to Ridgeview may feel some of the same feelings I felt getting my oil changed. Does our church welcome them, show them where to go, and take care of them and their kids from the moment they get out of their car? We've worked on answering yes to those questions. I've gotten numerous comment cards thanking us for the friendliness we showed them as they showed up. I've heard stories of a guest visiting a church and no one seems to even care they showed up. I hope this isn't true of many churches, but even one church is too many. I pray Ridgeview never forgets what it's like to be from the outside coming in and we treat every person that walks through the door as a VIP, because after all, they are!

Friday, December 01, 2006

This Sunday, December 3, we are voting on our church budget. The entire service will be a time that we look back on what has transpired this past year and look forward to next year. There will be plenty of pictures and videos as we cover the areas of our church, namely: worship, outreach, discipleship, ministry (children & youth), and fellowship. Normally, the budget vote at my church growing up was a time I wanted to skip and watch paint dry, or something more fun than the budget. I can honestly say I'm pumped about this Sunday. I will cast vision of what our purpose is: "To be a bridge of God's love to all people so they may experience His purpose for their lives." That's what keeps us focused. This year, we've baptized 17 people. We'v almost doubled our baptisms from our first year. We're making progress! I pray I never lose focus on the Great Commandment and the Great Commmission.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Jesus Christ is my passion. College football is my hobby. With that said, I'm pumped about the big game this Saturday: South Carolina vs. Clemson. Bragging rights for a whole year. Granted, we Carolina fans haven't had a whole lot of bragging to do over the last 10 years. Regardless of who wins Saturday, I'm also looking forward to Les & Helen Neely speaking at Ridgeview Sunday. Les and I grew up at Taylors First Baptist and he and his family are missionaries to Zambia, Africa. God is at work all over the world. Let the nations rejoice!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Part of the benefits of being a pastor is that I get to share in some of the most significant times in a person's life. Last Saturday, I had the honor of officiating the wedding of James Ratica and Megan Smith. I met with them for three premarital sessions at my favorite office, Starbucks. It's always exciting to see a couple dream together their future. James and Megan are most likely returning from their honeymoon today or tomorrow. Good advice for any marriage, including mine: pray together, keep Christ in the center of your home. Best wishes James and Megan and I look forward to being your pastor for many years to come.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Congratulations to Darren Gaddis who was elected President of the Kentucky Baptist Convention today! Darren is Pastor of Central Baptist Church in Corbin, Kentucky. He and I met the first few hours I arrived on the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. I was moving in to the dorm and he introduced himself. We became instant friends and we were roommates for a semester or two. I was in his wedding, he was in mine. Darren and I were able to hook up in Greensboro, NC this past summer at the Southern Baptist Convention for a few hours and it was great to catch up with him. I always have a great laugh when I see him. He is one of the funniest guys I know. I am grateful that he sent the student ministry of their church down here a couple of summers ago to help me out with outreach at Ridgeview. He will do a great job as KBC President and I will continue to pray for him as he leads.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Ephesians 4:32 states, "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." What a morning we had at our second single mom's oil change! The first time we did this last May we had 12 ladies. Today we had 17! It's an awesome feeling to forget about myself for a couple of hours and serve others in the name of Christ. I guess I shouldn't be surprised because according to Ephesians it's what God created me to do and prepared in advance for me to do. Thanks to everyone from Ridgeview who gave up their Saturday morning to serve Christ by serving others. I love you guys!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Pastor Rick Warren says that you judge a church not by the seating capacity but by the sending capacity. Our church each month has a designated "First Saturday of Service." This month we are sponsoring a single mom's oil change. I got a call this morning from a single mom who will be bringing her car Saturday for the free oil change. I love it! It gets my juices flowing to serve my community. I truly believe that good works become the bridge upon which the good news can travel. I want our focus as a church not to be on how many butts we have in the seats but how many butts we have serving in the streets!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

"Seeking to be a bridge of God's love to all people so they may experience His purpose for their lives." I've been preaching that, teaching that & living that for the last 3 years at Ridgeview. I had breakfast this morning sponsored by Child Evangelism Fellowship here in Greenville. They wanted to thank pastors whose churches are sponsoring Good News Clubs in the various public schools. Our church sponsors a club that meets after school on Thursday at Mountain View Elementary. That's where we meet for church on Sunday as well. We've been sponsoring a club now for 3 years. This year our coordinator is Liz Niles. She's doing an excellent job! I got word last week a young boy named Joshua placed his faith and trust in Jesus. I understand he has no church home. I am following up with him. That's a beautiful picture of the church in action. I'm so glad I get to be part of a church like Ridgeview. I thank the Lord everyday!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Some things I've read this morning. Great reminders! 1. Application is very important in communicating, especially preaching. One must think about the entire audience when applying the principle and how it applies to them. Really get specific. Don't just broadbrush- "You need to practice integrity at your job." Apply a specific example.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Children's Ministry
Last summer our children's leaders started a ministry called C4C (Champions For Christ). They met at Rock's Country Store in the patio area and then headed over to the field across the street for sports activities. As the school year has rolled around, we've moved the C4C over to our home and gone with a more in depth discipleship time with our kids. It is really going well!
I love children! They are so real! They tell you what they're really thinking. That's always refreshing. I am enjoying studying the Bible with them each Wednesday at our home and hanging out and having a good time. We have some incredible people working with our children on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. I thank God for them!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

This Sunday I'm sharing a message entitled "Planting gardens and taking walks." In Mark 4, Jesus shares a parable about sowing seedings of the word of God. I'm convinced now more than ever that we as churches (including Ridgeview) have got to do more seed throwing. We can have the best of the best things on Sunday morning in worship, but if no sharing, investing, and caring in the lives of those who don't know Christ, what effect is it having in our community? I like how Neil Cole describes it: all we have is a mudpit and not a garden if we haven't planted seeds. I am planting each week. I always can do a better job. But, I can't make seeds in a garden grow no matter what I do or how I work. There are some things only God can do.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Last Sunday I had the opportunity of baptizing 3 people at Ridgeview. We have baptized 15 people at Ridgeview this year. God is doing so much around my little community and around the world. It's awesome to be a tiny part of His Kingdom. I want to spend the rest of my life being a bridge of God's love to all people so they may experience His purpose for their lives. Hmm, sounds like a good purpose statement for a church!

Friday, September 22, 2006

This morning I met with a brother in Christ for breakfast at 6:15 am. I've been meeting with him for about a month. We sit and share together for about an hour. He encourages me in the Lord. He prays for me. I pray for him. Hopefully, I encourage him as well. Jesus says, "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." (Matthew 18:20) I've been an education minister in charge of small group Sunday School classes and have helped implement small "home groups" at my currrent church. They are wonderful parts of a church. However, I think there is something really special about two or three gathering together for encouragement, accountability, challenge, prayer, etc. It is the ultimate "small group" and well worth one's time. I know it has been for me!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

I'm a South Carolina Gamecock fan. I don't apologize for that! I heard on the news last night that our starting QB was arrested at a bar the other night. He has been suspended until Coach Spurrier finds out more info, etc. I hate to hear this. Blake Mitchell is the team leader. Not only that, he has spend countless hours practicing, lifting weights, two-a-days, etc getting ready for the season. He may have forfeited it all this season. What a waste! We all must remember it only takes one stupid mistake for us to lose our integrity and credibility and if we lose our integrity we've lost our leadership. I am so weak so I pray God would protect me from even entering the ring of temptation. I want to finish this race He's marked out for me faithfully. With God's power, strength, protection, and help I'll get there.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Unfortunately, over the last year I've been part of several counseling sessions with couples who are about to call it quits on their marriage. It usually has entailed one spouse wanting to make it work and the other wanting to move on. It breaks my heart to see what they go through, especially when kids are involved. Although not nearly as painful as divorce, I as a pastor experience the pain of those who leave our church for one reason or another. The Bible says, "Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it (1 Cor. 12:27)." I look at each person at Ridgeview church as a family member in Christ. When they leave, for whatever reason, I experience loss. I really care! I think the church can and should be a model for those who look at us. When problems, disagreements, misunderstandings, etc arise, instead of bolting for the door and checking out one of the other hundreds of churches around, we work through it. I believe Christ would be pleased with that.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Our prayer series has begun this past Sunday at Ridgeview and we have begun coordinating our church with a concentrated effort of prayer called "God's Power." How awesome it was to see after church our people breaking into different prayer groups such as praying for families, praying for the staff (I need it!), prayer triplets that pray for those who need Christ, spiritual warfare prayer groups, and even having our children pray for our church. May we all, including myself, be people who don't just talk about prayer, but do it!

Friday, September 08, 2006

This Sunday I will beginning a new message series entitled, "Prayer: God's power for your life." The title may be somewhat deceiving; it's not about getting what I want from God. It's about returning us to what prayer should start with and that is relationship. I find it incredible that God wants to hear from me. I also find it equally amazing that God wants me to hear from Him. I am not saying that petitionary prayer isn't important. I just believe that relational prayer must be first before I ask anything of God because in relationship He shapes my wants, my desires and they become His desires. That is praying the will of God, and those prayers are always answered.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Thursday around mid morning I went to the Greenville Memorial hospital to be with a man in our church who is having surgery. They had already taken him in when I got there. I spent time with his wife and had prayer and was able to see him as he came out of surgery and have prayer. I spent the rest of the day working at the office. I cut the grass last night and am looking forward to having students over for a time to say good bye to the exchange student we have hosted for the past year. He leaves for Bangkok, Thailand next Tuesday at 4 pm. We will miss him! He has been a great family member and wonderful big brother to our two year old.
I’m starting a sermon series on Daniel this Sunday. In chapter 1 verse 8 it says Daniel “resolved” not to defile himself. He was a person of integrity and stood strong on his convictions and didn’t waffle and yield to preferences. That’s something we all need to see more of today!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Tanya and I traveled to Greensboro, NC for the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting. My sponsor church pastor, Dr Frank Page, was being nominated for president. In what came as a shock to many in a three way race, Dr Page took 50.4% of the vote. I’m glad that many people voted for Dr Page- he certainly wasn’t well known by many, but his leadership and the strong CP giving of Taylors First Baptist led many to vote for him. He has said this was not about theology, but methodology. As a Southern Baptist, I love the fact that the 8% of all designated offerings we give from our church go to support our missionaries all over the world, and support some wonderful SBC institutions. I can partner as the pastor of a small church plant and pool our money with churches like Taylors First Baptist to help see the Great Commission move closer to completion. That’s cooperation at it’s best!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

I read an article this morning entitled, "Is Your Leadership Failing?" Some great thoughts for me to think about as a pastor. One of the warning signs is not communicating a clear, compelling vision. Each month, I interject in some way through the sermon our church's purpose. I seek to communicate it through our monthly newsletter and our weekly Ridgeview Church update email. I must realize I can never overcommunicate our purpose as a church.
Another warning sign is the fear of taking bold, courageous steps. I never play it safe, to get comfortable in ministry. God is not pleased with those who coast.
Finally, character corruption. I used to think that wasn't a big deal. Yet, within the last year I have seen a Ph.D from a Christian college leave his wife and a youth pastor leading a dynamic student ministry with hundreds of kids and one of the best youth facilities in the nation be unfaithful to his wife with 3 small kids. Satan wants to destroy all of us. I must remind myself that these things didn't happen overnight. They were small steps that led to bigger steps. I am reminded today of what Erwin Lutzer said, "Make prayer such a priority than only an emergency would make you miss it." When I spend time with God each day Satan's attempts to lead me astray become much less appealing.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I had my last meeting today with my sponsor church pastor, Dr. Frank Page. He has met with me faithfully for the last 3 years so I could share with him how things were going in the church plant Taylors First helped start. He has been a great encouragement to me over these last 3 years. I certainly could not have done this without his support and the support of Taylors First Baptist. In spite of the fact he's a candidate for the SBC presidency, he still mad time to meet with me today. Great man!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Wow, some weeks ago I wrote about my two year old son Ethan and the pain he was having in his ankle area. Turns out after a follow up appointment that he had a bone infection! Poor little guy knew he was in some serious pain. He spent 5 days at Greenville Memorial. Turns out it was Strep A. The bacteria ate a small hole in his bone. Fortunately, it will grow back. He's on the road to recovery. He has a pick line where we feed the antiobiotics through. He'll be on that for a month and then all should be well. It was so hard to see my son go through that at the hospital; everything from trying to find a vein in his little arm to putting him down for the surgery. Reminds me to treasure the time I have with my family. Life is so fragile

Monday, May 08, 2006

After working for 7 years in the mental health counseling profession as a child and adolescent counselor, my Tanya turned in her 2 week notice and came home recently. We have a 2 year old named Ethan and she wanted to spend more time with him (and me, of course). Well, let me tell you, she had less than a week of tranquility before Ethan has made life quite difficult. After two x-rays of his ankle, legs, and pelvic region, the doctors can find nothing broken. Yet, he has been a different child crying incessantly off and on all day. It has been a challenge, especially on Tanya because she has been there for him more than me. She's a great mom!

It's been a great week at Ridgeview Church. Our children' s ministry kicked off a neat thing called "Champions for Christ (C4C). It went really well. I am also so proud of our church. Saturday we had our first single mom's oil change and car wash. Over 40 adults participated and 15 of our students. Awesome! We were able to service around 12 cars. It's great to see our church fulfill our purpose of "being a bridge of God's love to all people so they may experience His purpose for their lives."

Saturday, April 29, 2006

I just joined the world of blogging. I've enjoyed reading the thoughts of other bloggers. Don't know if anyone will ever read mine. No big deal. I just want to record some thoughts on life. I forgot who wrote it but I like the quote: "An unexamined life is not worth living."