Thursday, April 30, 2009

Last night was one of the more difficult meetings I've had as a Pastor. There are some growth barriers we're trying to work through. Anyway, I came across this quote today from M. Scott Peck: "Problems are the cutting edge that distinguishes between success and failure. Problems call forth our courage and our wisdom; indeed, they create our courage and our wisdom. It is only because of our problems that we grow mentally and spiritually. When we desire to encourage the growth of the human spirit, we challenge and encourage the human capacity to solve problems, just as in school we deliberately set problems for our children to solve. It is through the pain of confronting problems that we learn. Wise people learn not to dread but actually to welcome problems because it is in this whole process of meeting and solving problems that life has its meaning."

Well said!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

" they may experience His purpose for their lives."

" they may experience His purpose for their lives."

Many people know the first part of the purpose statement we have as a church: "Seeking to be a bridge of God's love to all people." Did you know that's not all? We desire to be a bridge of God's love to all people " they may experience His purpose for their lives." God's purpose first and foremost for us is that we call on the name of the Lord to save them (Romans 10:13). But God also desires that we connect with His church family, grow in our faith, serve Him in ministry, worship Him with our lives, and in turn go out on a daily basis looking for ways to be a bridge of God's love to people.
It's neat to see those things happening in the life of our church. This past weekend Milo Wilson and seven of our students participated in a 30 hour famine to raise money for World Vision, a hunger relief agency. They also did ministry projects like helping out at Paris Mtn State Park, yard work for a woman who has Lou Gehrigh's disease, and some tasks for an elderly woman who is unable to get out. I had the opportunity to play paintball with some of those students Sunday at Look up Lodge. The picture above is of that day. It was a great time of connection I had with our students Sunday. I am proud of them and the leadership of our student Pastor, Milo Wilson. They are learning what it means to be a bridge of God's love to all people. They are experiencing His purpose for their lives.
Our Growth Group semester ends this week and I know two of our groups finished with some great socials. I saw pictures of the Morris Group having a great time of fellowship Saturday night. My Group met Tuesday night for a cookout and the burgers were great. It was a wonderful semester and a time of growth for many. People were stretched as we dug into the books of Isaiah and Micah. I believe this semester has been one of our best in getting people reading, studying, meditating, and applying the Word of God. We are helping them experience His purpose for their lives which is growth!
Finally, I can't stress how important I believe Life Transformation Groups are. I met with my partner today and he told me a great story. He and his family were eating out for breakfast this weekend. He and his wife saw a couple at another booth and this couple looked sad. They had an idea. They called the waitress over and asked if they could pay for that couple's meal. She brought the ticket and they paid for the meal and left a Ridgeview card that says, "Just wanted to show you God's love in a practical way." That fires me up! Our people are getting what it means to be a bridge of the love of God. As they share His love, they are experiencing God's purpose for them and that is evangelism. You see, you can't have one without the other. We must each strive to "Know Him and make Him known." Every system is in place to do that at Ridgeview. All it takes is a little obedience.
See you Sunday!


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bad News... Good News

Recently, Newsweek magazine ran an article on the decline of the number of Americans who would claim they are "Christian."  The article was by Jon Meacham. He offers some powerful data, notably a near doubling since 1990 of the number of Americans who claim no religious affiliation, from 8 percent to 15 percent. Meacham also points to a 10-point drop in the share of Americans who self-identify as Christian, from 86 percent to 76 percent.
This is a cause for great concern. But, I am actually encouraged about the future. It's actually pretty simple to explain in our church and across America. Let me explain using Spring time and a garden illustration. Some of you are getting your gardens ready as Spring time is upon us. You have raked leaves, sticks, and stones out of your plot. You have tilled and cultivated the soil. You have added some ph balance if the soil is too acidic, etc. You have also set up irrigation systems to water it and have rejoiced with the rain we have received of late. But, you know you cannot expect rows of lush, green corn along with okra, squash, cucumbers, and tomatos if  you forget one important step. You've got to plant the seed in the ground to expect fruits and vegetables to abound!
It's no different when it comes to our church. Being a bridge of God's love to all people means we must plant seeds in the ground every week. We can't rely on the single mom's oil change we did last May or the awesome Fall Fest we did October 31 or the lightbulb giveaway we did in February. We must be planting seeds each week. Every week the first question I am asked by my Life Transformation Group (LTG) is, "Have you been a testimony this week to the greatness of Jesus Christ with both your words and your actions?" As I write this article on Tuesday afternoon I am reflecting back to yesterday when John Mauldin, Milo Wilson, and myself went out to the North Ridge neighborhood off of highway 14 and gave away seed flower packets as a way of sharing God's love in a practical way. I can answer yes to that question.
Please hear me Ridgeview! We cannot expect our church to grow whether we meet in a school or own our own building if we are not planting seeds in our daily week. For me, it means every Monday I go out around lunch time and share the love of Christ in a practical way. I've shared with you over the last month the ways I've done just that (cleaning restaurant restrooms, flower packet giveaway, free soft drinks to local businesses, paying for someone's meal, etc). Believe it or not, it's actually very fun!
Why aren't more people being a bridge of God's love? I believe we haven't seen how fun it really can be. Let me encourage you this week to look for one way you can be a bridge of God's love to at least one person. You can pay for their meal in line at the drive through, buy them a cup of coffee at Starbucks, mow their lawn, give them a fern to beautify their porch. The list goes on and on. When they ask why you did it you simply tell them you were wanting to be a bridge of God's love and wanted them to see that love in a practical way. It's as simple as that. And I promise when you do Scripture promises you this in Acts 1:8: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." If we as a church and churches across America simply do some of the basics of bridge building for Christ there will be no more articles in Newsweek about the decline of Christianity. I suspect different cover stories will have to be written.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Easter Sunday at Ridgeview was a good day. A female in the church snapped this pic of me and my family that I will treasure for years. Anyway, I'd like to pass on a nice email from someone in our church I received this week. I soooo appreciate our children's ministry leaders and Erin Wilson, our children's minister. You guys are awesome!

I’d like to send a note of thanks and appreciation to Ridgeview Church. The Easter egg hunt on Sunday was incredibly fun (and unexpected-we didn’t know about it at all J)! It should not go without being said that Ridgeview does an amazing job when it comes to their children’s programs/events. Erin is so incredible (!!!) and I cannot even begin to imagine all of the behind the scene time it takes to do all that she does. But not only Erin, everyone involved in what goes on for the children of Ridgeview is to be commended! My boys never come away from time spent at Ridgeview Church or C4C (which by the way they LOVE C4C) that they have not been taught something new and exciting about Jesus. Not only is that a great thing, but they are also aware that a challenge has been set for them each week-and their eagerness to meet that challenge is contagious ~What a blessing in every way! I wanted to share my compliments with you mostly because I know it is often that those that work with the children don’t get to see the fruits of their labor. They are most certainly making an impact! They are setting little fires for ChristJ! I appreciate their efforts and their time; it is a blessing to my family.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Being a bridge of God's love means...

Being a bridge of God's love means I believe Christianity is real and I want to show it!
I am writing this article 10 minutes before I am to meet my Life Transformation Group partner Brian at McDonald's. The first question he will ask me as we sit down to eat is, "Have you been a testimony this week to the greatness of Jesus Christ with both your words and actions?" I haven't always been able to say yes to that question. But, I have implemented changes in my life and schedule to allow me each week to answer "yes." You see, being a bridge of God's love to all people means I want to show them I believe this stuff about Christ. I want to show them His love in me. He changed my life! One of the changes I have made in my week is before staff meeting on Mondays I go out around lunchtime along with our staff team and we do some bridge building in our community. This Monday we ate at Firehouse Subs in Greer. I asked the manager John after we ate could we clean their restrooms. I got the same reaction from last week when we cleaned Moe's. "You want to clean our restrooms?" I told him it was one small way I wanted to show him and his employees God's love in a practical way. Our staff team cleaned their bathrooms and another bridge was built for Christ.
Each and every week opportunities are all around us to build bridges of God's love to people. I share my story with you this week not to toot my horn but to encourage you to do the same. Paul said follow me as I follow Christ. I never want to be one who promotes a "do as I say but no as I do" attitude. I want to obey the words of Scripture that say, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24). I want an explosion of love and good deeds performed each week by the people at Ridgeview Church in the name of Christ so we may see many people come to know Him. I will keep beating that drum loudly. Will you make an effort this week to look for ways to be a bridge builder for the Lord? You've read my story. I'd love to hear yours!
Happy 3rd Anniversary Milo! 
Three years ago Milo Wilson joined the staff team at Ridgeview as our worship and outreach Pastor. He has worn many hats over these last three years and done an excellent job. He has built upon the great foundations our worship and student ministries were built on and taken them to new levels. He has been a joy to work with and I appreciate him greatly. I pray for him and his family weekly and I encourage you to do so as well.
P.S. Check out this link to one of my favorite videos Milo and me made one day at our old office as we were promoting an outreach event. It still cracks me up! 

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

A Bridge Story

A Bridge Story
One of the most beautiful words I hear every week on Monday is, "Welcome to Moe's!" Yes, Milo Wilson, John Mauldin, and myself have made a habit every Monday of taking advantage of the Moe's Monday lunch special. I usually get the "Joey Bag of Donuts." Anyway, a thought occured to me this past Monday morning. The previous week at Moe's when we finished our lunch I noticed one of the employees was cleaning the bathroom (the one I was trying to enter). The thought I had was this: Why not after we finished our meal on Monday clean the men's and women's restrooms for them? So, here's what I did. I went over there around 11 am and asked if I could talk with the manager. A young female named Hannah said she was the highest one on the food chain at the time. So, I told her that we ate at Moe's regularly on Mondays and would it be okay if we cleaned their restrooms around 1 pm after the main lunch crowd was gone. She looked at me strangely and asked, "And you want to clean our restrooms?" She told me that would be fine.
Later that day John Mauldin, Milo Wilson, and myself came over to eat our lunch. I saw the Moe's employee Hannah again and she told me her manager wanted to speak with me. His name was Steve. I approached him and told him every week before our church staff meeting we do some act of kindness in our community to show the love of God in a practical way. I gave him a card from Ridgeview that says "Just wanted to show you God's love in a practical way, no strings attached." He asked me to be careful as we cleaned because he didn't want us getting injured and sue him. I promised we wouldn't. He took the card, looked at it, asked me again about our church, smiled and said, "Thanks." Off I went to get our cleaning caddy out of the car and we knocked two restrooms out in record time!
Each week at Ridgeview I do the very best I can in the proclamation of the Word of God. I promise this Sunday as we start this new message series in the book of Micah entitled, "Blazing new trails," that it will be a powerful Easter message. But, I also want you to know that just as important in the proclamation of the Word is the demonstration of the Word! People do not care how much you know (or how many Bible verses you can quote) until they know how much you care. This Easter, my challenge to you before you walk through the doors on Sunday morning, is to show those around you that you care about them. You see, our purpose as a church is to "be a bridge of God's love to all people so they may experience His purpose for their lives." We want everyone to experience God purpose for them: a saving relationship with Christ and growth in that relationship. In order to see that happen, we must embark in good deeds because they become the "bridge" upon which the gospel can travel.
So, let me state again, this Easter week let me challenge you to be a bridge of God's love to someone your path crosses. You don't have to be a Pastor with a Master of Divinity degree. Just look for a way to show God's love. You'll be amazed how that can open doors for you to invite them to church and better yet, share Jesus! It's so easy, even a Pastor can do it like me!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

This little light of mine. I'm going to let it shine!

On Monday Milo Wilson, John Mauldin, and myself before staff meeting headed up to Blue Ridge middle school. We had bought over 80 granola bars to give to the faculty. We were welcomed by the secretary and were able to walk through the administrative offices escorted by guidance counselor Sara Broome. We were introduced to those working that day. Then, we were shown their teacher boxes and we placed a granola bar and a card from our church in each box expressing appreciation for what they do. We were able to talk with several faculty members and the assistant principal. That's one small way our staff team is seeking to be a bridge of God's love to all people each week.

I got a text message last Saturday from a man in our church. He told me he was in line at the Subway sandwich shop. There was a person behind him in line. He turned around and gave the person a Ridgeview card and $5 in order for them to buy lunch. He told them God loved them and wanted to show them that love in a practical way. I had lunch with another man today who told me on his sales route he encountered a lady working at a pizza restaurant. She shared with him her husband had lost his job and they didn't know how they were going to pay their utility bill. Guess what? God's Spirit began to speak to him. Why don't you be that bridge of My love to her? He went home and talked it over with his wife. She also felt it was what God would have them do. He is going back to this lady tomorrow and will give her the money to pay her utility bill as a means of being a bridge of God's love to her. He was so excited about the opportunity!

The Bible says, "...let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16)." As we approach this Easter season, let me challenge you this week to look for opportunities to share the love of Christ in practical ways. After all, God loves people and wants everyone to know His love. Will people know of God's love this Easter because of you?

Lord's Supper This Palm Sunday

This Sunday we will finish up our message series in Isaiah on "Maintaining Spiritual Health." At the end of the message we will partake of the Lord's Supper. This is always a special time for us as a church. Scripture states concerning the Supper, "So a man should examine himself; in this way he should eat of the bread and drink of the cup (1 Corinthians 11:28)." This week, ask God to reveal to you sin in your life and repent and confess (1 John 1:9). This week, examine your relationships and if any need to be restored make the effort of restoration (Matthew 5:23-24). I look forward to partaking of the bread and the cup with you and remembering what Christ has done for us.

Building Team Announcement last Sunday

This Sunday Don Brown, chairman of our building team, shared with our congregation the current direction our church is headed. Our Building team and Advisory team have been focused on the purpose of our church: To be a bridge of God's love to all people. Part of fulfilling that purpose to be a bridge of God's love to all people is to move as soon as possible from Mountain View Elementary school to a single rental facility closer to Greer. One person on the building team remarked that he wanted to do whatever it took to reach as many people for Christ as a church as we possibly can. I love that attitude! If you have any questions, feel free to call Don Brown at 292-5888 or email him at