Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sunday Night Reflections

This morning at Ridgeview Church a beautiful thing happened. Our church became a meeting place for the Blue Ridge community to gather together and not only worship God but also remember one of our own who lost her life a little over a week and a half ago. I conducted the funeral for precious Lexie James who moved out of our community with her family last December to live in Knoxville because of her father's job transfer. Today was an opportunity for those who were not able to go to the funeral and even for those who did to gather together and start the healing process. We had Keith Vaugh from the Blue Ridge Little League share some remarks and present the family with a beautiful plaque/picture of Lexie in her Blue Ridge softball uniform. We had principal Tommy Hughes who leads the elementary school in which we gather for worship on Sunday share some wonderful stories of Lexie as she left her mark on Mountain View Elementary. We had her father read a letter he wrote that encapsulated the essence of what Lexie was like. Also in attendance were the girls softball teams that Lexie played on along with parents and others whose lives had been touched by Lexie in one way or the other. It's important for churches to be involved in the community. Ridgeview will always be involved in serving our community in the name of Christ. God allowed our church to minister to others today who were in our church for the first time. That's what we are about at Ridgeview. That's what we do.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

New York Mission Trip Wednesday Night Reflections

Tonight the group went over to view ground zero at the World Trade Center and were going over to China Town. No, we haven't been sightseeing the entire trip. We have been hard at it all day today doing more painting, cleaning up the rooms we've already painted, and then more painting of classrooms and hallways at the middle school here on Staten Island. It's been a great experience! Yesterday was our sightseeing day. We worked in the morning and then took the afternoon and evening to see the city. We went over to the Rockefeller Plaza, then caught an off broadway play called "Altar Boys," and then headed over to the ESPN Zone for a while before heading on home. Our days have been long. We've worked hard and played hard. Tomorrow we will do touch up on the school hallways and classrooms and then head back to South Carolina. We will travel all night in our two SUVs by switching drivers every couple of hours. It has been a great trip and I hope to double if not triple our group for next summer.

I am staying at the hotel tonight because I've got to finish the message for Sunday. Anyway, I shared with our group this morning a passage from 2 Corinthians 5 which Paul states, "The love of Christ compels us..." He goes on to say later in the chapter that we are "ambassadors for Christ." It's been a great trip up here to NYC/Staten Island and the people of New York are great. We've seen some awesome sights in the city. But, that's not why we came. We came to help be a bridge of God's love to the people of New York. The "love of Christ compels" us! We have been wonderful ambassadors for Christ this week. Thank you to those who took a week of their lives to be Christ's ambassadors: Gerri Jefferson, Rahel Wilson, Dave & Thor Yearick, Tyler Smith, Logan Yarlett, Patrick Knorr, and Milo Wilson.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

This morning we began to do what we came to do: “Paint the Town.” We met at the middle school along with the two other churches and began painting the school hallways and classrooms with a nice baby blue color. I spent some time putting tape down around the edges to prep the room for painting and then did most of my painting in the afternoon. I was able to spend some time with two pastors from Houston who are here for this same cause. It has been neat to get to know Dr. Rodney Woo from Wilshire Baptist Church and James ? (sorry, I’ve forgotten his last name) who has planted a church in the Houston area. Unfortunately for me when I returned to the hotel for lunch I received some good natured ribbing from some of the guys claiming I went off and took a nap. It’s going to take some time to get my credibility back!

Pastor Ray from CrossRoads Church here in Staten Island has had several groups do this over at least the last 2 summers. The bridges it has built for him have been incredible. He has been named principal for the day and was also asked to speak at one of the school’s graduation ceremonies. In fact, just today as I was walking into the school 3 police officers were at the front door who are assigned to provide security there. One asked why we were doing this. Once again, good works become the bridge upon which the good news can travel!

I feel our group is getting along well and it’s neat to be here with them. We’re getting ready to go eat supper so it’s time to go.

Monday, July 23, 2007

New York Mission Trip Monday Morning
We arrived for our first ever mission trip to New York Sunday morning around 8:30 am. We traveled all night leaving Saturday night around 8 pm. We went to Cross Roads Church on Staten Island. We will be working with Pastor Ray from Cross Road (a Southern Baptist Church plant) this week to help build bridges in his community. The biggest way we will be doing this is by helping paint IS 72 (that's a middle school as we know it in the South). We went into the big city last night and just walked arouind Times Square. Pictured above is all of us at Ray's pizza in Times Square. All of us were exhausted when we got back in around 1 am. But, we're fired up and ready to go do some work today! This has been a great trip already and we will be working alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ from Wilshire Baptist Church (Houston TX) and the college students from Germantown Baptist Church (Memphis TN). Looking forward to being a bridge of God's love this week also as we will be handing out water here on Staten Island in the name of Christ. More details and pics to come.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Alexis James
Yesterday I received a call bearing tragic news. I was told 10 year old Alexis James died in a car accident on I-26 in Columbia. She was heading with some family friends down to Savannah for a softball tournament. The van's tire blew and caused the vehicle to roll. She died on the way to the hospital.
I had the priviledge of getting to know young Alexis from the Good News Club our church sponsored at Mountain View Elementary after school on Thursdays. She always was so friendly to me and had a vibrant, glowing smile. She was also very competetive. Whether it was answering a Bible question or getting to help the teachers, she had a spunk about her! I had the opportunity of talking with her father yesterday. The family had moved to Knoxville recently. I honestly cannot imagine what the entire family is going through. I read this passage of Scripture this morning as I have been preparing for a sermon message next week. How appropriate these words in times like these.
8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9
16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Please pray for Patrick, Kelly, and Austin James and extended family and friends.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Summer is here! We went downtown G'ville along with 50,000 other people to watch the fireworks Wednesday night. I love going downtown, but for me it was a bit too crowded for my tastes Wednesday. Anyway, every summer means the annual golf trip with some guys I've known for many years. This summer's trip is being planned by Jon Fowler. We're going to Myrtle Beach. We're all competetive when we play golf but the real enjoyment is the time we get to hang out together. We're all spread out over the Carolinas: Charlotte, Rock Hill, Greenville, Lake City, Charleston. For a few days we come together and I look forward to it every year. Proverbs 17:17 states, "A friend loves at all times..." Everyone needs at least one good friend in life. A friend that is honest with you and will tell you sometimes what you don't want to hear but does it in love. A friend that keeps you accountable making sure your devotion to Christ doesn't waver. As I write these words I am waiting on a new friend for our accountability time here at Panera bread company. Do you have at least 1 person in your life you can truly call friend? If not, don't wait for them. Be proactive and take that first step. It's true: To have a friend you need to be a friend.