Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Reflections From Last Sunday

After five years I've learned one can never be too careful and must check and re-check things to make sure all is ready for a big event like Sunday's 3 on 3 basketball tournament. So, with that in mind, I went over and started our church van on Saturday afternoon to make sure all was well. We had run into a battery issue with the van the previous Sunday so I wanted to make sure all was well. It was. The van started right up. I had peace of mind and slept well Saturday night. All that changed Sunday morning when I was informed by another driver for the van that it wouldn't start because the key was not able to be fully inserted into the ignition. Panic set in. The clock was ticking and we were running out of time- there was much to set up outside for our worship service and basketball tournament. Thankfully, I serve in a church with servants. We loaded up in our SUVs and trailer and unloaded what we needed out of the van and the church trailer and brought it over to the school. We got everything done in time although there was stress and panic.

Having a few days to reflect from Sunday, here are some observations I'd like to share with you:
1) Our church is willing to do whatever it takes to be a bridge of God's love to all people so they may come to experience His purpose for their lives, which is repentence of sin and a personal relationship with Him. The basketball tournament on Sunday morning was one way of doing something a little out of the box to reac those who are not connected to any church. By the way, we had a smaller attendance this year for our tournament because there was less people from other churches participating because they were at their own church Sunday morning. That's a good thing. So, we had a higher percentage of those participating who were not connected to any church. Isn't that the point? Our goal isn't to see how many people from other churches we can gather for an event even if it does mean the numbers are bigger.
2) We have solid, sold out servants to Christ in our church. As mentioned in the van break down story, we had a number of people jump in and help out with that situation. We had others on Sunday morning show up and didn't know what would be asked of them but when duty called, they rolled up their sleeves and served. Without greeters, set up teams, people who picked up basketball goals, food help, face-painters, registration table workers, preschool workers, worship leaders, ushers, and sound and media crews this event would never have happened.
3) I see spiritual warfare alive in our church. We have never had as many machinery breakdowns in the life of our church like we've had this past week. Our copier went down when we were printing advertising for the tournament. Our printer went down as we were printing the labels. Milo's laptop computer crashed and our desktop computer in the office crashed as well. Oh, and did I mention the van didn't start? There are unseen spiritual forces of darkness in this world that want to see our church fail because we are coming in on enemy territory with the light of Jesus Christ. We should expect nothing less than opposition.
So, those are a few reflections from Sunday. We have this promise from Acts 1:8 "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses (a bridge of God's love) in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samarai, and to the ends of the earth." Ridgeview Church will continue to be a bridge of God's love to all people in the power of God's Spirit. Will you pray God's Spirit will open doors for you this week to be a bridge of His love to someone?
See you Sunday!
Pastor Tommy

A New Baby is Born!

Congrats to Rob and Tonya Whatley on their beautiful little girl!

Anna Katherine Whatley
"Anna Kate"
Born March 23, 1:29 am
8 lbs, 8 ozs

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Why the 3 on 3 basketball tournament this Sunday morning?

Why the 3 on 3 basketball tournament this Sunday morning?
Recently, we received disappointing news that we would not be moving from Mountain View Elementary school to the high school. We were looking forward to the move. After the news and the weeks that have followed at Ridgeview, there has definitely been an effect upon our church. Our attendance has dropped and there seems to be a spirit of discouragement upon some us, including myself. No one was more excited about the move than me. But, that door has closed on us and we must move on. God's providence will lead us each month and we trust Him to guide us each step of the way.
So, what do we do now? We must get back to the basics, the fundamentals of what the vision is of our church: "To be a bridge of God's love to all people so they may experience His purpose for their lives." We must first of all pray! In two weeks we will be in chapter 38 of Isaiah. King Hezekiah received very disappointing news from Isaiah: "You're going to die." It says in verses 2-3,  2) Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD. 3) He said, "Please, LORD, remember how I have walked before You faithfully and wholeheartedly, and have done what is good in Your sight." And Hezekiah wept bitterly. There was a passion, there was a fervency to his prayer because he was dying. Without God's Holy Spirit filling us at Ridgeview, we are as good as dead also.
Secondly, we must be "experience His purpose for our lives." What is His purpose? It's to become a follower of Jesus Christ; also known as a disciple. We are seeing fruit in the lives of people at Ridgeview who are being discipled. I believe one of the greatest ways we are making disciples at Ridgeview is through our Growth Groups and our Life Transformation Groups. Each week in my Life Transformation Group I am challenged and sharpened by men who keep me accountable in my walk with Christ and my service to Him. I believe one of the greatest things you can do to spiritually recharge your batteries is to meet with one or two other people each week of the same gender in a Life Transformation Group. Try it for a month and see if you aren't changed and being discipled!
Thirdly, we've got to do a better job of being "a bridge of God's love to all people." That means evangelism. A bridge connects. We've got to bridge out to people through acts of kindness, through our attitude, through our actions, through our words and tell people that God loves them and Jesus died for them. We've got to do this every week; not just Easter, Christmas, or a special day. All these times are great but this must be something we do every week. The book of Acts says, "The Lord added to their number daily." Each week I am challenged by my Life Transformation Group to share the love of Christ in some way. Last Friday night at Fuddruckers I paid down the cost of someone's hamburger behind five dollars. I left a card from Ridgeview with the cashier. I threw some seed. Monday our staff team took over sixty granola bars to the staff at Mountain View Elementary and left them in their boxes with a card from our church thanking them for all they do. People don't care how much you know until they see how much you care. There are opportunities around you each week to show you care in the name of Christ to people. I believe if everyone in our church took advantange of one opportunity a week to be a bridge of God's love to those who don't know His love we could touch over one hundred people each week. We could touch four to five hundred people a month. We could touch over 5,200 people a year with the love of Christ. Do you think that would change the attitude and climate in our church. Absolutely.
So, let me get back to the title of this article. Why the 3 on 3 basketball tourney this Sunday. Because it gives us a platform to share the love of Christ to those who do not know Him through the game of basketball. Basketball will be the platform this Sunday; Jesus will be the message from our set up team, greeters, worship service, games, prizes, food, moon bounce, and face painting. It's all about Jesus and being a bridge of God's love to all people- people who love basketball and even people who can't stand basketball but appreciate the work done to show them the love of Christ.
Here's what I'm asking you to do: 1) Pray for our church that we would not lose our focus on what God has called us to be and do, 2) Allow yourself to be discipled through God's Word and God's Spirit and through the vehicles He is using at Ridgeview: worship services, Growth Groups, Life Transformation Groups, 3) Look for opportunities each week to be a bridge of God's love and act on them. This week is an excellent opportunity to invite your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers to the basketball tournament.
I'll be out in my neighborhood Thursday inviting my neighbors to the tournament at church Sunday. I ask you to join me in this great opportunity God has given us to be His messengers of the good news of Christ.
See you Sunday!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What does it mean to be a bridge of God's love to all people?

What does it mean to be a bridge of God's love to all people?
This Sunday I will have the wonderful privilege of baptizing Brian Bowen. Last summer our church conducted a "Gas Buy Down" at the Spinx gas station on highway 290. One of the people we touched with the love of Christ that Saturday was Shonnon Bowen. She and her husband were looking for a church and we came along at just the right time. She told her husband about this church called Ridgeview that bought down the cost of her gas. They decided to check us out the next day. They were welcomed by friendly faces at the door. They enjoyed their worship experience and have been coming back ever since. Brian decided to go on the men's retreat with us last month. His life changed that Friday night and desires to be baptized this Sunday.
Why do we do kindness projects in our community like gas buy downs, smoke detector battery give-aways, single mom oil changes, Easter egg hunts, Fall festivals, community Christmas eve services, 3 on 3 basketball tournaments, NGU athletic luncheons, and mega sports camp to name a few? To reach people like Brian Bowen and help them "experience His purpose for their lives." I challenged our church last Sunday to look for one opportunity this week to reach out to someone with love in the name of Christ. It may be buying their gas, their coffee, their meal, or going across the street and inviting your neighbors over for supper this week. As we read in Isaiah 6 this past Sunday, may this be the attitude of us all at Ridgeview: "Here I am Lord. Send me."
See you Sunday!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Daylight Savings Time, Smoke Detector Battery Give-away, Isaiah 6

Don't forget that this weekend is daylight savings time. Please set your clocks one hour ahead as you lay your head down Saturday night. We'll have the coffee brewing for you Sunday in the foyer! Also, this Saturday from 10 am to 12 pm, we are going out in our community to take free smoke detector batteries to around 200 homes off of highway 101 (see picture above). This is a great way to be a bridge of God's love in a real practical way. The response from those we have visited has been very positive. We will meet at Mountain View Elementary school. Hope to see you there!

It has been great to hear of those who are reading the Bible text in anticipation for Sunday's message and then diving deeper in our Growth Groups. Let me ask you to read Isaiah 6 for this Sunday. Remember, nothing changes a person's heart other than the Word of God and the Spirit of God. Please come this Sunday prepared for your heart to be changed. See you Sunday!