Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Why our 4th straight mission trip to Staten Island, New York?

Why our 4th straight mission trip to Staten Island, New York?
This Saturday night we will embark upon our fourth consecutive mission trip to Staten Island, New York. And, for the fourth straight year, we will be working with Pastor Ray Parascondo and the Crossroads Church family. We have developed a great partnership with this church. They are much like us; a church plant that meets in a school seeking to bridge their community to Jesus Christ by serving them.
Why are we going to Staten Island, New York? That's a great question. To help answer that question, take a look at some facts about the state:
*The population in the territory served by the Baptist Convention of New York is 26 million.
*The area is 95% unchurched.
*25 million unchurched people live in the territory.
*429 Southern Baptist churches serve the area.
*That is 1 SBC church for every 61,000 unchurched persons.  In the south the ratio is 1 SBC church for every 1,000 unchurched persons.
*One out of three adults in New York State do not speak English at home.
*One out of five living in New York State were born in a foreign country.
*Ten percent (10%) of the lostness of North America lives in the territory of the Baptist Convention of New York.
The needs are great! Please pray for Brian Green, Milo Wilson, and myself as we seek to bridge people to Jesus Christ through the work of the Southern Baptist Crossroads Church of Staten Island.
Summer Bridge Challenge & Woody Allen
I recently read an article/blog about sharing Jesus with people. I felt it affirmed exactly why we are doing the summer bridge challenge (mowing or paying for your neighbor's grass to be mowed & inviting your neighbors over for a barbecue, ice-cream, etc). In the article, Christian intellectual and historian Eric Metaxas was asked the following question: "How would you share Christ with Woody Allen if he were sitting next to you on a plane."
He replied, "I have to somehow figure out how to connect with him. . . . If you come across as morally superior, that's unbiblical, that's wrong, it's a lie, so you're confused. But also you'll push the person away. You've got to find a point of connection, otherwise they won't hear you. If you walk around New York you might see someone, semi-homeless, almost always from out of town, with a hat and a Bible "preaching the word" on the street. Nine times out of 10 they are not preaching the Word any more than Satan was when he was quoting the Bible to Jesus in the wilderness. The words are not magic. Some people will respond, "The word of God will not return void," and yes, the capital-w Word of God, the Logos, will not return void—but the words of the Bible can certainly return void unless they're anointed by the Holy Spirit. Many people think that if they just spew out Scripture or something that people are hearing them, but it's not true. Jesus never did that. He always connected with everyone around him."
Let me challenge you this summer to find a connection with those around you who need to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. Doing an act of kindness for them and developing authentic relationships with them open natural doors for you to share your faith. Remember, every member at Ridgeview should look to themselves as missionaries to those around them. We go to Staten Island as missionaries. We are going internationally next year as missionaries. But, we must also go as missionaries across our yard as well!
In Christ,
Pastor Tommy

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What Walt Disney World Can Teach All Of Us At Ridgeview

What Walt Disney World Can Teach All Of Us At Ridgeview
Last week we made our way to Walt Disney World for our family vacation. It is the most visited vacation destination in the world. I read that twelve million people come through their gates annually. They have around 62,000 employees they call cast members which makes them the largest single sight employer in the United States. What stuck out to me was their attention to the details, their making me feel welcome, and their going the extra mile to help me with my questions.
This was my first trip back to Disney World since 1986. I was a little overwhelmed and confused after being away for twenty-four years. Questions arose in my mind like where's my hotel, what bus do I get on to get to the park, how do I purchase the tickets, how do I use the meal plan, and what are the essential rides I need to experience in the park? Disney cast members were extremely helpful to me. They were easily accessible out by the doors and gates showing me exactly where to go and answering all my questions. They took pride in their jobs and who they worked for and the experiences they were providing our family.
I know I have to be a little careful in comparing Disney World and the Church. But, here are the takeaways for me: We have guests who show up at Ridgeview who have similar questions I had at Disney. Where do I park? Which entrance do I use? What do I wear? Where do my kids go and are they going to be safe? Am I going to be made uncomfortable/look silly in the worship service because I don't know what to do? Are the people greeting me in the parking lot and doors glad to see me? Did I experience the love of Christ at this church and love from His people?
As Christ followers we must do everything we can to help people who show up at Ridgeview for the first time experience the love of Jesus Christ and hear the gospel message. We must be extremely diligent in removing any and all barriers that may hinder people from hearing the good news of Jesus Christ. So, that means we put people in the parking lot to welcome and direct first time guests, we put people at the doors as greeters to welcome and direct where to go from there, we buy the best children's curriculum out there and expect a lot from our Ridgekidz leaders, and we put our best efforts into our worship gathering. If Walt Disney World puts all that effort and hospitality into people coming to see Mickey, how much more effort should we put into what we do as people come to see Jesus?
I was challenged to continue giving my best to Christ and His Church by watching those who work at Disney. I am thankful that many of you at Ridgeview have that same attitude. Let's keep at it! The stakes are high!
In Christ,
Pastor Tommy

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

We are part of something much larger than us!

We are part of something much larger than us!

Our family is in Orlando this week mixing vacation and attending the annual Southern Baptist Convention. As a messenger from Ridgeview Church, I will be voting today on our next SBC President and some very important proposals.

As Southern Baptists we come together for one main purpose; the Great Commission. Small, medium, large, and megachurches within the SBC pool their resources together in seeking to win the world for Christ. Ridgeview Church comes along over 40,000 SBC churches to take the light of Christ to our community, our state, our nation, and our world. It is all about His Kingdom!

See You Soon!


Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Pure & Faultless Religion

Pure & Faultless Religion
This past weekend we had two teams from our church ministering to people in the name of Christ. The first team helped put a coat of primer on the walls of a Habitat For Humanity house in Travelers Rest. They also helped put siding and steps leading out to the back porch on the house. They worked alongside Ms. Floyd who will be moving in to the house when it is completed.
The second team helped moved a widow in our church and her son out of their home into a new place. Due to unfortunate events, she was forced to move. She had no one to help move her. What she would have done without the wonderful caring people at Ridgeview Church, I don't know?
I am grateful for those who gave of their time and abilities last Saturday to work on the Habitat House and to help a widow move her belongings. It's not the kind of ministry that is glamorous or will end up being on the front page of the paper, but it is as important nonetheless. James 1:27 says "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." For those that volunteered last Saturday and all the ministry that happened in the life of Ridgeview Church that I know of and don't know of, thank you! You are beautiful people!
We need a Great Commission Resurgence!
I will be attending the Southern Baptist Convention in Orlando next week. It will be a historic time for Southern Baptists. As a messenger to the SBC from Ridgeview Church, I will be voting on a motion from the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force. The Task Force has brought to all Southern Baptists a report detailing a new direction for the SBC to be more effective in reaching our world for Christ. I ask that you pray for for the Southern Baptist Convention as a denomination for wisdom in this very important matter. I am so grateful we are part of a denomination that is focused on the Great Commission. Several billion people in our world do not know of the love of Jesus Christ for them. Millions of people in America are without Christ and are heading to a Christless eternity. We must do everything we can to reach them!
I encourage you to check out the website www.pray4gcr.com. It has much more information. Two important links I also encourage you to check out from the website are:
The lostness of America:
The Great Commission Resurgence Report:

See you Sunday!
Pastor Tommy


Tis the season where many are gearing up for summer vacation. I have to admit there is much work to do to get ready for it. Many things need to be in place before I leave. Sometimes it feels it would be easier not to go and a lot less stressful. Actually, going on vacation for me really does not provide rest. In fact, it adds to my load. The reason I do vacation is for my family. It builds memories that we will be able to look to years down the road. That's what makes it all worth it.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Cut the cords; burn the ships (or ski boat)!

I have a friend named Lee. He called me Friday as he was coming in to town. I caught him up with my life briefly. He did the same. He then shared he was going to meet with a potential buyer of his ski boat. Many who know Lee know that waterskiing is his passion. He has taken hundreds out to Lake Hartwell. This is a bold move. Why is he doing it? Because he feels God leading him to serve a people group outside of the United States. He's cutting the cords, burning the ships. He is moving in that direction and making every effort possible not to turn back. I admire that. Jesus said in Luke 9:62, "No one who put his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Summer Bridge Challenge

We have some great opportunities for bridging people to the love of Christ this summer. We have tons of people ready to go this weekend for the Habitat for Humanity project. We will be in downtown Greer June and July hosting the kid's area for Greer Idol. We are partnering with Northwood Baptist for Mega Sports Camp in early August. We are headed to Staten Island, New York to work with Crossroads Church in their sports camp. These are some great opportunities!
I also want to lay out another personal bridge challenge. It involves two things you can do for your neighbors. The first is to mow your neighbor's lawn or pay to have it done. What a great way to serve them in the name of Christ. The second way is to invite your neighbor(s) over for a summer party. It might be relaxing at your pool, grilling some burgers, or enjoying some homemade ice-cream. You do all the planning. You do all the work. You do it all in the name of Christ!
Why the challenge; what's the point? The Bible says in Romans 2:4, that "...God's kindness leads you to repentance." We want to show the kindness of God in order to bridge people to God. Good works can be the bridge upon which the good news of Jesus Christ can travel. It provides great opportunities for relational evangelism.
I look forward to sharing more about this with you Sunday as we begin a new series on the book of Ruth. If you get the opportunity, how about reading the first chapter of Ruth?We will see in this great story how God works all things out for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
See you then!


Update: Nathaniel and Morgan Balough

1LT Nathaniel and Morgan Balough were married by Pastor Tommy on 20 December 2008. They are living at Fort Knox, KY where they have been for about two years. Nathaniel is working as a Basic Training Company Executive Officer. They will be moving to Hawaii later this year, and Nathaniel will be heading to Iraq for a deployment in the near future. Nathaniel is looking to get his Masters in Physics and Morgan is looking receive her Masters in Marine Biology hoping to get some experience while in Hawaii. They are both North Greenville University graduates. They are looking to start a family in the next few years, but right now have two dogs, Baxter and Oreo.