Thursday, December 18, 2008

This weekend I will be officiating the wedding of Nathaniel Balough and Morgan Williams in Westminster SC at Magnolia Manor. Never been there but I'm always up for new places to see. One of the great joys of being a Pastor is to be a part of some of the most meaningful times in a person's life. I enjoyed our premarital sessions together and I look forward to this joyous time in their lives.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

This past Monday Milo Wilson and myself loaded up his truck and dropped off the 56 "Operation Christmas Child" boxes that our church collected Sunday. Thank you Ridgeview Church for participating in a great world wide outreach. We believe that good works can be the bridge upon the good news can travel. Over 7 million shoeboxes will be shipped all over the world with the good news of Jesus Christ. That's an awesome thing to be a part of!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I am currently reading Neil Cole's book "Search and Rescue: Becoming a disciple who makes a difference." He says on page 68, "There is no greater legacy to pass on than the mission Jesus gave to us originally-to go and make disciples of all the nations. These were Jesus's last word to his disciples. Last words are lasting words." God has been laying on my heart and mind the fact I must do a better job of making disciples. Sometimes it feels like I'm making spectators. Neil Cole lays out a great plan. It starts small at first; that's hard when we're focused on numbers. But, part of my problem is I am looking at church growth and health through numbers of addition (i.e. we have 20 more this year than last). Neil says we should look not at addition but multiplication. I've been challenged on how to see church multiplication- I will get to work on it soon. You can count on that because life is too short to do anything less than the will of God.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

I read a portion of Bob Roberts book today called "Glocalization." This stood out to me:

"The fruit the Holy Spirit produced in our lives is a far greater tool for evangelism than possessing skills. It is only through transformed lives that we will ever see the Church make global impact. 'There is a direct relationship between the power of the gospel being lived out in the lives of people in a community and how much that community is altered by the gospel.' In other words, it is how you live, not what you believe, that will transform the world."

Thursday, October 09, 2008

I am currently listening to the book "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch. He recently passed away of pancreatic cancer but his lecture has gone viral on the internet. Here is a quote that has stuck with me:

"The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough. They are there to stop the other people!"

Nothing in life that is worth anything is easy. What has God called you to do? Go do it; and the moment you hit your first wall don't walk away and say, "It's just too hard." If you do, then maybe you didn't clearly hear from God or maybe you really aren't interested in giving your life to him when things get tough. I'm so glad I didn't give up when I hit my first wall of rejection by a mission agency years ago about starting a church. I even had one guy from seminary tell me I would fail. Believe me, I thought about giving up long and hard many times! As I approach our 5th anniversary I thank the Lord I didn't! What about you? What is God calling you to do? Don't give up!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

This week we kicked of our Fall '08 Growth Groups. Sunday night our college group met at our home led by Patrick Knorr (he's the guy...well, I guess you can figure out who he is in the pic). We had a great meeting and then we had the Hargrove/Riggs group meet at our home Tuesday night. Again, another wonderful evening. My vision for Ridgeview even before we had our first worship service was to see our church meet throughout the community in small group Bible studies. I love what we do with our groups by not only having a time of Bible study but also these groups are serving once a month on Sunday and once a month in the community. Next up- single mom's oil change. Spiritual growth happens by taking in the word and giving out as well through service. A Christ-follower needs both in his or her life. I know I do!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Today I paid an $80 fine at the Greer municipal traffic court for allowing my decal to expire. I was guilty and I had no ground to stand on. It kind of reminded me of the guilty verdict God renders towards my sin. I am guilty. Fortunately for me and all people, God "demonstrates His own love for us, while we were still sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8)." That's good news!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Last Friday a reporter from the Greenville News Greer edition called me about an article they were going to do about O'Neal Village and our church that is going in there. It was published on Tuesday. I thought they did a great job on the article. I am very excited about the direction we are headed!

Monday, August 25, 2008

My father turned 70 last week. We took him to lunch. No frills. Just the way he liked it. I wrote him a letter that shared how proud I was to have a dad like him. He told me Sunday night how much that meant to him. The Bible says we are to honor our father and mother. I believe we all should sit down and write a letter to our parents and share with them good things we've always wanted to say in the living years. Here's a rather somber question: if your mom or dad were to go home with the Lord tomorrow would there be things you regretted not sharing with them today? Don't wait. Do it now. I'm glad I did with both!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I picked this up this week. It is known as the responsibility process. I know it will help me because there are things on my mind at times that take more energy there mulling about them than to deal with them. Maybe this will help you?

1. What is a difficult or troubling situation in your life?
2. What payoffs or benefits do you get for keeping it like it is?
3. What costs do you pay for keeping it like it is?
4. How do you create, promote, or allow it to be the way it is?
5. What do you pretend not to know?
6. What do you want?
7. What actions could you take and what requests could you make to get it?
8. When will you do that?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Last weekend was a great weekend in the life of our church. It capped off what I feel has been a great summer at Ridgeview. On Saturday our church was out buying down the cost of gas $5 for each customer who arrived at the Spinx on highway 290. Reactions ranged from "what's the catch," to extreme gratitude, hugs, handshakes, and even two ladies began to cry. I was reading my Bible this morning (good thing to do, right?) and came across this passage: "If anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward (Matthew 10:42). I continue to lead our church to reach out to our community because I want people to know the joy having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. God's word says we all will be rewarded one day at his "Awards and Appreciation Day." I know I am rewarded each and every time I see a life changed by Christ. Our church continued sharing the love of Christ on Sunday as we hosted the North Greenville University football team for our morning worship. We also fed them after church. What a great day! I was especially thrilled to see 5 young men express their desire to begin a relationship with Christ! Again, the rewards of serving Christ are incredibly fulfilling.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Big "Ask"
I've recently rediscovered an audio recording of the book "The Alladin Factor." The whole premise of the book is to ask for what you want in life. Think about that for a moment. How simple a concept and yet how many of us are afraid to do it. This has been a growth process for me. I've had to step out of my comfort zone and give the big "ask." Two of the major "asks" in my life have been: 1) Asking Jesus Christ to forgive me of my sin and to come into my life to be the forgiver of my sin and leader of my life. I was 13 years old. 2) Asking this drop dead gorgeous Texan out on a first date and then dropping to one knee for her hand in marriage (not on the first date, mind you.) Probably the third biggest ask in my life was my meeting with Dr. Frank Page and the asking of his blessing to start a new church in the Blue Ridge community that we now know as Ridgeview. Now that I think about it, just some months ago had we not asked developer Jeff Randolph to consider our church in O'Neal Village, we would never be where we are today. Someone recently told me as we start the process of raising funds to build our church, "Man, I'm excited about the building but I hate the asking of fundraising." I understand to an extent, but when there is a greater cause behind the ask than one's own self interests, it gives one the boldness to move forward in faith. Ridgeview Church has a great cause: "To be a bridge of God's love to all people." As I will be doing much asking in the next couple of months, that helps me with the boldness. My challenge to anyone reading this blog today: What great things can you ask for; things greater than just yourself but contribute to make the world a better place?

Monday, July 07, 2008

New York/Staten Island Mission Trip Reflections
17 kids accepted Christ on the last day of Sports Camp! What in the world is more important than that?

Rob Smith and Tyler at the Yankees game. Later that week Tyler expressed his desire to follow the Lord in believer's baptism to his dad and me. There is no greater joy in life to see your son give the reigns of his life over to Christ!

We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge to Grimaldi's Pizza Monday night. The guy in the middle from Grimaldi's made our experience one we'll never forget!

Liz (on left) and Pastor Ray (on right) from Crossroads Church were great to work with. Ray is doing an awesome job in an area where 98% are unchurched. Although Liz is a sophomore at Clemson University, we were able to put our differences aside for the gospel!
Milo is an awesome team mate in ministry!

We pushed our people hard by driving all night to get there, working all day and then sight-seeing in Manhatten at night with 3-6 hours of sleep a night. Yet, each day they worked hard and their attitudes were incredible!

Dean Lewis: One of my roommates on the trip and all around great guy! Here he is getting busy painting at IS 72. Pastor Ray from Crossroads Church in Staten Island has seen some great doors open for him and the church by groups coming up and painting the public school. I've preached this many times to our church: "Good deeds become the bridge upon which the good news can travel."

This was truly one of the best mission trips I've been on! God did an amazing thing this past week in us and through us. The key is not to leave it there but to bring it home. My prayer is that God continues to work through me throughout the summer and in the life of our church as we enter a very exciting time in the Fall.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Ridgeview Church Mission Trip 2008
Staten Island, New York

We're back this summer to the Big Apple for our second trip to partner with Crossroads Church here in Staten Island. Pastor Ray of Crossroads Church is doing a great work and has a real heart for the people here. We've come here to help advance the gospel on behalf of Crossroads Church. We are having an incredible trip and there is barely a minute of free time to post a blog. We have done kindness projects like passing out water. We are prepping and painting IS 72 public school to build bridges of God's love for Crossroads Church. We are leading a sports camp at PS 58 public school and had 42 kids show up today. We are literally at the Crossroads of the world up here this week. It is a true melting pot of people of different races, cultures, and religious backgrounds. One young lady at our sports camp who is a Muslim told us she didn't pray to our God. It is so awesome to have an opportunity to share with her about our God and His Son, Jesus Christ. I certainly appreciate the prayers of my Ridgeview Church family!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I am currently reading The Breakthrough Company: How everyday companies become extraordinary performers. Chapter 3 discusses the topic of "Crowning the Company." These are great questions all Pastors must ask themselves: "Is your company building something that is far greater than the leader?" (p. 28) "Visit Roger Staubach in his office and you'll notice that something is missing-practically anything relating to football. Ask him why and he'll tell you, 'It's because we are building something here that is bigger than Roger Staubach.'" The chapter goes on to show keys to crowning the company are 1) Crown the customer first 2) Aim high 3) Avoid the trappings of corporate royalty 4) Shift from commander to coach 5) Don't let loyalty become a liability 6) Encourage chaotic communication (i.e. do you have an open door policy?) 7) Cut people in on the action (i.e. take care of your people).
Ridgeview Church is so much bigger than her Pastor. I want us to speak of the purpose for which we labor and take the focus off of me. John the Baptist said something about that didn't he? "He (Jesus) must increase, I must decrease."

Friday, June 20, 2008

Yesterday I spent the day at the Cliff's Valley clubhouse as part of a Pastor's mentoring network I'm a part of led by Dr. Ken Hemphill. Our guest Pastor for the morning was Dr. Don Wilton of First Baptist Church Spartanburg. Don is from South Africa and he has one of those accents that keeps your attention even if he read the back of a cereal box. Fortunately, he gave us something more substantive. Right before lunch Jim Anthony, CEO and founder of the Cliff's, dropped by to say hello and welcome us. Jim is a Christ follower who really wants to help Pastors. We owe him a huge debt of gratitude for making this opportunity available to us.
Here are some key thoughts I gathered from Dr. Wilton:
*Preaching is the power of God through an individual personality.
*Your conversion, your call, and your commitment to Christ means when you preach you fear no man but God.
*There is nothing more important than the preaching ministry in your church- a weak pulpit is a weak church.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I just finished the book mentioned above. The premise of this book: "The secret to winning and keeping customers is to reward them." Ok, as a Pastor I don't look at the people in my church as "customers." But, there is much to be applied here. Our staff team and volunteers work hard to reward those who may be first timers or long term attenders at Ridgeview Church. It comes with inspiring worship services, relationship building, opportunities for spiritual growth and service, and events each month to be outward focused in our community. In fact, tonight I received a call from a man in our church who had just come home from one of our Growth Groups led by Rob & Sandra Smith. He was rewarded by going tonight and wanted to call and let me know how much he and his wife enjoyed it. He's one satisfied Christ follower tonight. My goal is for everyone in our church and community to experience the rewards of knowing Christ and serving Him. I believe it don't get no better than that!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Make Us One

This Sunday Pastor Craig Groeschel from will be speaking at Ridgeview by means of video. He will continue the message series begun last week called "One Prayer." Craig is the originator of this campaign that is seeing many churches around the country and world take part. Pastor Craig will deliver a powerful and humorous message. His "one prayer" for the church is that God would "Make us one."

Pastor Craig shared a humorous story about someone telling him they heard their pastor say his church waters down the gospel. I had someone in my church a few years ago tell me a fellow Pastor in our area state that Ridgeview is fine for people if "all they want to do is show up on Sunday morning." This same Pastor stated about my church, "They do things differently over there." He wasn't being complimentary.

We as Christ followers can do so much more when we are united rather than divided. It is my prayer that as a Pastor I will always have a spirit of cooperation and unity with my brothers and sisters in Christ and the sister churches in my area. It isn't about competition; it's about cooperation. We have a common enemy! Imagine what we could do if we Pastors and churches focused on doing battle with him with the full armor of God rather than focusing on lesser issues.

With that thought I'm going to bed. Good night!

Monday, June 02, 2008

O'Neal Village: Future Home of Ridgeview Church

This past Sunday I shared with our people the good news that Ridgeview Church has officially found a home. Jeff Randolph, the developer of O'Neal Village, has graciously agreed to give our church two acres in which to build a church! We will be nestled in a mixed use commerical/residential development known as O'Neal Village. The development will have shops as well as office space. We will build the church basically on the corner of the town center square. I am delighted about this opportunity. One day our church facility will be in the middle of people going about their daily lives playing, eating, shopping, etc. This is exactly where we want to be- among people! I believe we will have an incredible opportunity to splash people everyday by showing people love and sharing how they can experience His purpose for their lives. Thanks Jeff Randolph for giving us a wonderful gift. It is an answer to prayer! Five years ago I had no idea what course Ridgeview would take. It's neat to see the doors God's Hand has opened for us. "Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 4:20-21 NIV)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Spiritual Warfare

This Sunday I finish up a series on spiritual warfare entitled, "Flying under the radar." I shot a video testimony today of Don and Beverley Brown, along with Michele Turner. You will hear their stories at Ridgeview Sunday. They have all experienced very real encounters of demonic presence. In fact, Michele's body experienced major downturns in health that were inexplicable. After intense times of prayer over several months with husband Tracy, she was freed. Some will balk and say this is a bunch of nonsense, etc. To those who understand the battle at hand, we underscore the words of Paul in Ephesians 6:12, "For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places."
P.S. Pictured above standing at the mics are Tracy and Michele Turner. They are former worship leaders at Ridgeview and wonderful people!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Just Do Ministry & Shut Up About How Your Church Is Like No Other!
Maybe in my older age and in my 5th year of a church plant I'm getting a bit grumpy, but if I hear one more church declare how Jesus Christ personally appeared to them and wanted to let them know how their church was the coolest, most relevent, authentic, real, cutting-edge, exciting, happening, church like no other and not like all the other churches around, I think I'm going to explode! Where in the Bible does Jesus say our goal as churches is to outdo one another and to compete for "coolest" church around award? If your church attracts bikers on Harleys wearing leather and is reaching people for Christ, I'm for you! If your church is reaching blue collars, white-collars, or no collars, using guitar and drums, banjos and bluegrass, or Steinways and handbells, I'm for you! As one famous Pastor declared, "We need all kinds of churches for all kinds of people."
So, with that said, the church I Pastor (Ridgeview Church) will be out this Saturday from 10 am to 12 pm conducting a "Single Moms Free Oil Change" over on highway 101 here in the Blue Ridge area of Greenville County. We're not the first to do this in our community. It's not original with me; as if that has to be a criteria for doing minisry. We're simply going to be out there seeking to obey the Great Commandment and the Great Commision because we believe good deeds can be the bridge upon which the good news can travel. We're part of the Kingdom of God working alongside our sister churches to do what Christ has commanded us to do. Life is too short to get caught up on any other cause than that!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Happy 1st Birthday,
Landon Jack!
We had a good day, didn't we? We went to Brushy Creek Park and rode "George" the train. We went to the playground afterwards and watched
your brother run around. You'll be out there soon enough. Mom baked you a cake and it sure was good, wasn't it? You liked the wrapping paper more than the presents themselves, didn't you?
God has blessed us with another blond-haired, this time blue-eyed, little boy. We pray for you every day and with the Lord's help will do our best to "train up a child in the way he should go.." (Proverbs 22:6)

Friday, February 29, 2008

I came across a 2006 survey that identified occupations that have the highest satisfaction rate. Here is the sampling:

Clergy—87 percent percent
Firefighters—80 percent percent
Physical therapists—78 percent percent
Authors—74 percent
Special education teachers—70 percent
Teachers—69 percent
Education administrators—68 percent
Painters and sculptors—67 percent
Psychologists—67 percent
Security and financial services salespersons—65 percent
Operating engineers—64 percent
Office supervisors—61 percent

For every one negative experience I have as a Pastor there are ten wonderful things I enjoy about the opportunity of being a shepherd to a group of people God has entrusted me with. Let me share a few: seeing people grow, counseling people as they prepare for marriage, officiating weddings, comforting those who've lost loved ones, giving hope and encouragement to those struggling, preaching on Sunday and seeing life change by repenting of sin or commiting to an action step of growth, overseeing and being part of small groups that connect people to their church family and foster spiritual growth in their lives, leading our church to reach out to the community and being a bridge of God's love to them by single mom oil changes, community basketball tournaments and community Easter egg hunts and community Christmas eve services, and ultimately, to see people come to know Jesus and have the opportunity to baptize them showing to everyone the outward sign of an inward change.

Being a Pastor is a high privilege and I thank the Lord that He has given me this opportunity. I will have to give an account one day of how I led God's church. That's what keeps me on my knees in prayer!

Friday, February 15, 2008

I returned from my monthly trip to NYC last Saturday. I had never gotten the opportunity to venture into Central Park. My brother met me up there and we went walking through part of the park on Saturday before I returned. Neat place!

When I return to New York next month for my coaching network we will be discussing financial stewardship in the church. Unfortunately, our giving at Ridgeview has taken a major dip into January. I have to do a better job of teaching our people on giving. One thing I do know: you cannot separate giving from discipleship. Any person who claims to be a Christ follower will be a person who gives financially to his church. And when I say financially, I mean the "tithe." Some say that's Old Testament stuff, and we are now under grace. I would say I agree; in fact I believe as Christ followers we should be giving even more than the tithe, or 10% of our income. Remember, Jesus talked more about money more than any other subject. He knew that where our money goes our heart will follow. I want my heart following Jesus. Therefore, my family sends our money to support His Kingdom.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Huckabee rolls through Blue Ridge!
Today Presidential contender Mike Huckabee made a campaign stop at North Greenville University. Milo and I drove up there to catch the action. In fact, as we were getting out of my car Governor Huckabee's bus came rolling in past us. It was interesting to be a part of a campaign rally and observe. I'm still undecided but I like many of the things Mike Huckabee stands for.
Tonight it started snowing. Half of the Upstate will be closed tomorrow! I'm going to get up early, get some message prep out of the way, and take Thursday instead of my regular Friday off. It's going to be fun to take Ethan (and maybe Landon) and play in that white stuff! I told Ethan today on the way home that we were going to have snow tomorrow morning. He told me, "No daddy, no snow, pop-tart!" Sometimes you gotta say, "Whatever?"

Friday, January 11, 2008

New York City Coaching Network January Meeting
I spent today at the Journey Church office in Manhatten with 15 other pastors from around the nation for a coaching network I'm involved in. I've never been involved in a network like this. It's been a great benefit to me. The issue at hand today was that of evangelism. Pastor Nelson Searcy laid out four areas concerning this area: The Pastor's role, Personal Evangelism, Promotion, and Preservation/Preparation. One thing that stuck with me today was the "principle of spiritual readiness" we discussed. Those who use well what they are given will be given more. We can put some preparation into expecting God to work in our church and God will bless it. Roy Mansfield stated churches pray for the fire of God to fall down on their churches but don't prepare the wood to burn. Are we as a church preparing for God's blessing to fall down on us by getting ready for Him to entrust us with new babes in Christ? Growth groups we are starting next month are a great first step!
By the way, I shot a video in Times Square I am going to share Sunday morning in my message. It is short and sweet but I couldn't waste an opportunity to be in the most recognized place in the world and not use it in some way to illustrate a message point.