Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ridgekidz has a new leader!

I am pleased to share with you upon the recommendation of the Advisory Team our new Ridgekidz children's minister, Shannon Cole. Shannon is married to Tom Cole who is best known now as our famous Easter Bunny at the egg grab. Shannon is also the mother of four beautiful children; Hunter, Chase, Carleigh, and Dillon. She brings many gifts, abilities, and experiences to lead Ridgekidz. Many of you already know her and her family. If you do not, please make an effort to introduce yourself and hear her story. It is an amazing story of God's hand of providence that brought the Cole's to Ridgeview! Lastly, I encourage you to pray for her as she builds on the great foundation that has been laid in our children's ministry.
In Christ,
Pastor Tommy

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Body of Christ at Ridgeview

The Body of Christ at Ridgeview
The Bible says "4) Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5) so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6) We have different gifts, according to the grace given us... (Romans 12:4-6 NIV)." I am so grateful to be a part of a church that is seeing the body use their gifts in service. It is adding so much to our worship services, our Growth Groups, our bridging out to our community, and our ministering to one another. It is a beautiful sight to behold!
New Message Series on the Second Coming of Christ
The bodily return of Christ not a point on which Scriptures are ambiguous or unclear. As the disciples watched the resurrected Christ ascend into heaven, Scripture tells us,  10) They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11) "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven (Acts 1:10-11 NIV)."
The Second Coming is one of the most important doctrines of Christianity, yet many of the details are surrounded in mystery. We must be careful about being dogmatic on certain finer points. Jesus says that "no one knows the day or hour (Mark 13:32)." However, we must also be ready. Jesus says,  "You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. Luke 12:40 NIV)"
I look forward to this four part message series entitled "Can You See Him"  because Jesus Christ is coming again. The Bible commands us to know the signs of the times, to remain watchful, and to be ready. This series will help you do just that!
See you Sunday!
Pastor Tommy

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Happy 4 Years, Nathan "Milo" Wilson!

Four years ago Ridgeview Church stepped out on faith and brought a second full-time minister on staff. His name was Milo Wilson. From the moment he came on board I knew we had someone special. He was a gifted musician and worship leader and brought many other gifts, talents, and abilities to our staff team. We have spent many hours working together. We've been on leadership retreats in Columbia and Anderson SC, mission trips to Staten Island, and men's retreats to Flat Rock. We've done tons of bridge projects in our community that literally have touched thousands. We've worked together to plan and lead over 200 worship services at Mountain View Elementary, Blue Ridge High, and the Red Barn. We've hashed out strategy in the office and debated with one another our points of view, always respectful of one another. I was privileged to be part of his ordination. I have seen him in the good times and in the most trying of times. Through it all he has been a man of integrity. He has been a pleasure to work with these past four years.
Bill Hybels says in bringing on a staff member they must meet the "three C's." They must have competence in their field. There must be chemistry with you and them as far as the working relationship. And, there must be character. Milo meets all three! Concerning character, Scripture teaches if one aspires to lead in the church as an "overseer" (pastor) their character is what is most important. Paul writes concerning character qualifications to serve in 1 Timothy 3:1-7. One of the values of our church is integrity and it is an honor to serve alongside Milo because of his character.
Please express to Milo this week your appreciation for his four years of ministry at Ridgeview. My how the time flies! 
Pastor Tommy

Friday, April 09, 2010

Is a "Christian" who is not a disciple really a Christian?

We had a great Growth Group last night as we are making our way through Francis Chan's book Crazy Love. Chapter five is entitled "Serving leftovers to a holy God." Francis Chan pulls no punches when he says on pages 83-84, "As I see it, a lukewarm Christian is an oxymoron; there's no such thing. To put it plainly, churchgoers who are 'lukewarm' are not Christians. We will not see them in heaven."

He shares the passage in Revelation 3:15-18 where Jesus says because they are neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm, He will spit them out of His mouth. I can't see how that would refer to a person who is saved if Jesus spits them out of His mouth.

So, is a person really a Christian who calls on the name of the Lord to save them but never gives Christ their time, their talents, their treasure? Basically, he or she never obeys Christ but likes the idea of not going to Hell when they die and spending an eternity in Heaven. Is that person a Christian?

Being a disciple is to be a learner and follower of Jesus Christ. To follow Jesus means to obey Him. Is it perfect obedience? Of course not. We all fall short. Even the apostle Paul did, and Peter, etc. But, it is a growth process where there is a passion to follow Christ and obey Him. After all, Jesus said if you love Him you will obey His commands (John 14:15). Please do not mistake my advocacy of a works salvation. I know there is nothing I can do to save myself (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, "Christianity without discipleship is Christianity without Christ." I am passionate about following Jesus and giving Him all that I have. I want to be His disciple. My calling as a Pastor is to lead a church to make as many disciples as we possibly can. It's our marching orders found in Matthew 28:19-20. To this end I labor.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Two Hundred and Three!

Pictured above is the attendance number from Easter Sunday written on the backside of a Connection Card. I shared that number at the end of the worship service with those present. Although we did not reach our goal of 215 people, there have been only a handful of times we have ever had over 200 people on a Sunday morning. It is cause for celebration! Why? Because 203 people gathered at Ridgeview to worship Jesus Christ on Resurrection Sunday. Because 44 kids were learning more about Jesus in our Ridgekidz area. Because the Gospel was shared and seeds were planted in the hearts of those who have not yet claimed Jesus as forgiver of their sins and leader of their lives; I believe they are one step closer. Because there were families there who have not been in church for years and we are seeing them get connected. Because we were able to be a bridge of God's love to 203 people through the way they were greeted, through the music and message, and through the connections made through fellowship.
Let me thank the many of you who invited someone to come with you to church. The most loving thing we can do for people is invite them to hear about the good news of Jesus!
Pastor Tommy

Church Signs

I read a church sign in Taylors this week. It stated, "This month's focus: Discipleship." Shouldn't being a follower and learner of Jesus Christ seeking to obey everything He's commanded be our focus every month, every day?

By the way, concerning church signs, there are some great ones out there. My favorite is the one I saw in my community a few years ago. It stated, "Dial 911 because this church is on fire!" Yes!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Never Give Up!

I remember it well Easter 2009. I was down. Things at church weren't going very well. Some doors had closed on us and it seemed like everything I did a brick wall was there waiting for me. I remember going home on Easter 2009 realizing our Easter numbers were the same as the numbers of our first year as a church. That was defeating to me.

What kept me going was the calling God placed on my life and the lives that had been changed at Ridgeview in spite of some difficulties we were experiencing. I am so glad that we pressed on and worked through the difficulties.

I can say this Easter 2010 I Pastor a different church! We had close to 75 more people this Easter than we did last year. But more than the numbers, we are seeing new people come into the life of Ridgeview and their lives are being changed. We are seeing people excited again about what is happening in the life of Ridgeview Church! God never left us. Perhaps He allowed me to get to the point where I was utterly and completely dependent on Him before we could move forward. Whatever the case, I didn't give up and God didn't give up on me. Life isn't always easy. Ministry isn't always easy. Stay the course. God's Word promises, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9)."

Thursday, April 01, 2010

"If I come to your church I won't be disappointed, will I?" That's the question I received today from a rather sweet older lady on the phone today. I told her if she is prayed up and ready to worship and hear from God, then no, she wouldn't be disappointed on Sunday. The bigger question we must all ask ourselves is, "Will Jesus be disappointed in our worship of service to Him this Easter Sunday?"