Friday, June 26, 2009

Reminded today with the sad passing of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson: "Only one life, will soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Bridging Nationally

Bridging Nationally
I am looking forward to our church's summer mission trip to Staten Island, New York. Please pray for us as we leave out Saturday and travel all night to get there Sunday. We will be bridging there for the third summer in a row on behalf of Crossroads Church and Pastor Ray. Crossroads is a Southern Baptist church plant that meets in a school like us. We will be doing lots of painting in the school in which they meet. This act of service has opened many doors for Pastor Ray with school Principals and school administration. He was able to be the graduation speaker at one of the schools as a direct result of painting their school. Let me remind all of us whether we go to Staten Island and paint a school or go across the street and give some Panera Bread to a neighbor, good deeds become the bridge upon which we can share the gospel with people. We do not do good deeds and stop at that. We do good deeds in order for opportunities to share what we've been preaching on the last few weeks in Galatians: salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
Please be prepared this Sunday as Tim Norton will be preaching from Galatians 5:1-15. Tim and his wife Anna have been attending Ridgeview for some time now. They have a young son named Judah. They have just been appointed by the International Mission Board and will be going as our Southern Baptist missionaries to Madagascar by the end of the year. You will be blessed this Sunday as Tim opens the Word and shares it with you!
Pastor Tommy

Whole Lotta Bridging Going On!

Whole Lotta Bridging Going On!
This week I have been listening to an audio teaching from a Pastor mentor of mine, Nelson Searcy. His topic was on ministry and serving. He said, "Serving is the act of putting the needs of others before my needs." That's what Jesus did! Jesus said in Matthew 28:20, "For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many." Being a Christ-follower is about being selfless. Being the Church is all about selflessness. One of the most unselfish things a church like ours can do is grow. One of the most selfish things we can do as a church is not to grow!
Well, although the summer attendance numbers are lower there is a "whole lotta bridging going on" at Ridgeview Church. There are lots of unselfish people who are serving both inside our church and outside the walls of our church to be a bridge of God's love to people. Did you know we are making almost one hundred touches a week with Panera Bread visits? It's great to meet people through these visits and to see them worship with us on Sunday. I even received a call this morning from an older gentleman who received bread at his door a few weeks ago but he was out of town. He is out of church but wants to come Ridgeview this Sunday and "give it a try." 
God is blessing our going out! Our first Tunes on Trade Kidszone went great last Friday night. We saw a number of kids come by with their parents. I personally had an opportunity to invite an unchurched young couple who lives close to the school in which we meet. Another person in our church Friday night at Tunes on Trade had a great conversation with a lady about the Lord and invited her to Ridgeview. On top of all this, we will again be downtown Greer Friday for Tunes on Trade. Also, on Saturday our church will be out in a "real deal" ice-cream truck passing out free water and ice-cream to our community. Thank you Sean Brady for making that happen! Lots of great touches we are making in our community. Let me remind all of you that as we are working our way through Galatians this summer, it says in chapter six verse nine: "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I am currently listening to an audiobook by Dr. Gary Chapman on anger. Helpful practical advice for me in this book. Common sense I know, but when someone angers you he advises walking away and counting to 10, 100, or maybe a 1,000. I wish I could say I've always followed this advice but I haven't. It feels so good to fire back; but then I've made a mess of things. Leaders are learners. I am learning to put more of this into practice. If you see me walking around counting I am practicing Paul's advice in Ephesians 4:26, "In your anger do not sin..."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tunes on Trade 09

Tunes on Trade is finally here! This Friday night we will be at thriving downtown Greer hosting the Kidzone. We will be setting up at 6:30 pm and will be done by 9:30 pm . Several thousand people will be there enjoying the music and food. Many will come by and see us with their kids to the Kidzone. It will be a great opportunity to meet people and build more bridges in our community. Allow me to share some of the materials we will be using to build bridges Friday night: two inflatables, face painting, street chalk art, and a table set up for kids to make Father's day cards. Many of you have signed up on your Connection Cards from Sunday to help. We will be there for the next six Friday nights. If you could give us one Friday night that would be awesome! There's still an opportunity to get in on the fun. Please contact Shelley Thompson at and let her know you're in!
By the way, one of the sponsors of the event, as you can see from the logo, is Budweiser. Our church, by participating in Tunes on Trade, is not endorsing alcohol consumption. I personally do not drink alcohol but I believe if it is taken in moderation it is not a sin. If you are uncomfortable working in an event where alcohol will be served (down the street some yards away from our Kidzone), I understand. But, I like what Christian author Neal Cole said in one of his books: "If you want to reach people you've got to sit in the smoking section." We'll be in the smoking section Friday night!

Good News Club

Good News Club
I received a letter this week from B.J. Bateman, district director for the Good News Clubs. She reported to me that our club had an enrollment of 187 children for the 2008-2009 school year. Most exciting to me was that 14 children received Jesus as their Savior this year in club. Since the beginning of our church beginning a Good News Club five years ago at Mountain View elementary, 87 children have made their decision to become a child of God! I am so grateful for the leadership Liz Niles has given to the club these last couple of years and for those who have given their time to serve every Thursday. You have made an eternal difference!
Pastor Tommy

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I think all of us struggle from time to time with procrastination. There are some things in life we just want to put off and not deal with because they may be hard, boring, not any fun, etc. That includes areas in our work life and areas of our personal life. Psychologist Henry Cloud says in battling procrastination one should "play the movie." Fast forward a week, a month, a year- imagine if what you need to do isn't done. Consider the consequences. That should help motivate you. Also, he recommends invoking some discipline and accountability in your life. For example, meet with someone and lay out some items you want to have completed by next week. When next week arrives if any of those items are not done you "pay up" financially to the other person an amount that can cause a financial sting. It's a grown up way of being sent to time out. Some good thoughts that I will seek to implement in my life someday when I get around to it- ha!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

We're Fulfilling Our Purpose!

We're Fulfilling Our Purpose!
This past weekend I believe our church hit the "sweet spot" of what it means to be a missional church. Last Saturday from 10 am to 12 pm, we held a free single mom's oil change at O'Neal Village. We were able to change their oil, sit and listen to them as they waited on their cars, take down prayer requests and pray with them, and share the gospel with them. Their kids had a blast jumping to their heart's content in the inflatable. One lady named "Cissy" showed up with three kids. She told us she was homeless. Someone from our church felt compelled to give me $20 to pass on to her as her car was finished. As I gave it to her, tears began streaming down her face and she said, "Thank you!" That is being the church of Jesus Christ!
We received a card in the mail this week at the church office from Teresa Cheeks, one of the single moms from the oil change. She stated, "Church family, people like you keep hope and faith alive knowing there's still (the) love of God (from) people still loving and helping others. You really touch my heart. Thank you so much." 
On Sunday, I challenged people who were at our worship service to take a Panera sourdough bread bowl with them and go "bless" someone with it. Bill & Debbie Howell took two. With her permission, I'd like to share her story that she emailed to me Monday. It fired me up!
I officially met my neighbors across the street and one house down today - Patrick and Shirley H. They're a recently retired couple. Bill had met them quite a while ago and I have said "hi" to Pat a few times when I've been walking and he was out in his yard. Shortly after we moved in, Shirley issued a standing invitation to Bill to walk through their yard and use their dock for lake access anytime we want. Nice people.
A few weeks ago, our next door neighbor had told me that Shirley had recently been diagnosed with renal cancer and is in an experimental cancer program. Since that time, they've been on my heart and mind a lot. When I walk past their house on my evening walks, I pray for Shirley. I wanted to do something nice to show her I cared, but I'd never met her, hadn't seen them out for several weeks and didn't want to go knocking on their door to disturb them... yeah, I'm a coward!
Today at church, Pastor Tommy had a bunch of Panera Bread bowls wrapped with cellophane on a table by the door. He urged us to take one and give it to someone with no strings attached - just to show them God's love in a practical way - in keeping with our mission to be a bridge of God's love to all people.
Bill and I left at different times and each of us picked up a loaf of bread, not realizing the other had picked one up. I had in my mind to give it to one of Zach's friend's parents who spend every weekend sailing. I asked Bill to drive by their house on the way home so I could drop it on their doorstep and they would be surprised when they came home later today. As we neared their house, we could see that both cars were there. They had not gone to the lake this weekend and I got to personally deliver the bread - they were appreciative and pleased that we thought of them.
Now who to give the second loaf to? Bill had taken his with no person in mind and we had already delivered to the persons I thought of. As we neared our house, Bill saw Pat and Shirley out doing some yard work. Bingo... we had our person(s)! As soon as the car was parked in our driveway, we made a beeline.
Not only did I meet Pat and Shirley, but was able to tell her I had been praying for her as I walked in the evening. She hugged me.  What a blessing we got today... Shirley's attitude is the best I've ever seen for a person with terminal cancer. The cancer has metastasized to several places in her body, yet she is smiling and feeling good. Her experimental chemotherapy is not making her sick, yet has shrunk several of the tumors by 50%. She knows that even if the chemo kills all the cancer cells, this form is so aggressive that it will mutate itself into another form and pop up somewhere else. Yet I could see the hope in her eyes - she was not at all giving up. Wow - what a lesson for Bill and I when something in life gets us down. I believe God arranged for both Shirley and Pat to be outside today at just the time we came home. Perhaps if we had not stopped at our friend's house first and spent some time chatting with them, we would have missed Pat and Shirley. If Bill and I had left the church together, I know we would have taken only one loaf of bread and given it away before we got home.  Because of God's perfect timing and awesome planning, I made a new and wonderful friend today.
Thank you Debbie, for sharing your story. And thanks to all of you who gave of your time to serve single moms last Saturday. I look forward to hearing many more stories of God's people on mission with Him this summer. Oh, by the way, I'll have more bread waiting on you Sunday!
See you then!
Pastor Tommy

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Scorecard

The Scorecard
I've been reading a book lately by Reggie McNeal called "Missional Renaissance: Changing the Scorecard for the Church." For many years we've measured success of a church by "nickels" and "noses." We measure how much in tithes and offerings the church receives and how many people attend. All of those things are important. But, one thing that never seems to get measured is how many people are we sending out each week? I've had lots of people ask me over the last five years how many people we were "running." Not one person has ever asked me how many of our people are involved in some kind of externally focused church activity. I believe that's a very important number to measure. It needs to be on the scorecard. 
I'd like to share with you this week how Ridgeview Church is sending people out. Pictured above are a few of the thirty sourdough bread bowls from Panera Bread Company. We are getting those out to new movers, new homeowners, people who've visited Ridgeview, kids from Good News Club, teenagers from Release time, etc. We are blessing our community! That's exciting to me!
Not only that, this Saturday we will be out at O'Neal Village conducting a free Single Mom's Oil Change. Thanks to everyone who took a "Single Mom's Free Oil Change" stick sign and placed it in the community on Sunday. I received a call just a few hours after they had been placed from a single mom wanting more information. I also received another call today from a single mom. She wanted more information about the free oil change and where it would be located. She shared she had three kids and had lost her job recently. Things are very tough for her. She then asked me a question, "What's the catch?" I had a great opportunity to tell her that the people of Ridgeview Church wanted to bless her life because they wanted her to know God loves her- no strings attached! She will be there Saturday!
I am proud of the people at Ridgeview Church. Each week that goes by and each month we are sending people out to be a bridge of God's love to all people. Let's measure our church on how well we are doing in that area. As I said Sunday, we as a church should always be in seeker mode for those far from God. We've got to go to them. By this coming Sunday, we will have done that for the week of June 1-7. Let's put that on the scorecard!
Josiah Wilson
After church on Sunday me and my family went down to Savannah, Georgia to attend Patrick Knorr's wedding at 5 pm. Patrick was with us for four years at Ridgeview as he went to school and played football for NGU. We spent the night in Savannah and came through Charleston Monday to see Milo and Erin Wilson at MUSC. Tanya was able to go see Josiah in the PCICU. I have a cold and so I didn't go back. We gave them the rest of the love offering our church took up for them. They have been touched greatly by the love, generosity, and prayers of God's people. Please continue to pray for the Wilson family and for Josiah. I would even suggest you fast if you are physically able.
You can stay current  with all the latest news on Josiah and how you can pray more informatively at
Pastor Tommy