Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Stop The Hop This Christmas & New Year

I'd like to share a blogpost that Pastor Steven Furtick wrote way back in January of this year. Pastor Steven Furtick is one of our nation's most gifted Pastors. He is a North Greenville University graduate and grew up near Charleston, SC. He started Elevation Church in Charlotte in February 2005 with 121 people attending their first worship service. Since that day Elevation Church has been one of the fastest growing churches in America. They saw 11,500 people attend their Easter worship services this year. They have seen over 15,000 people make professions of faith and have baptized over 4,600 people. We were honored to have Steven's father in law, Murrill Boitnott, speak at Ridgeview this past May.

Steven's blogpost is not written from a Pastor who has seen a declining church. They continue to see explosive growth. So, I share his message as a challenge to us all. It is a challenge shared with love. We are not Elevation Church, I know. But, God has called us to "go and make disciples" and my desire is for Ridgeview Church to make the biggest impact in this world for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Stop The Hop
By Steven Furtick

One of the things that really troubles me about the church today is the phenomenon of church hopping and church shopping. It's a consumeristic mindset towards the body of Christ that grieves the heart of God.

It's time for us to stop the hop. This isn't Christianity. Jesus didn't die so we could sample different churches like varieties of meat on a party platter. Jesus died to establish His church as the most powerful entity on the planet.

We are alive at the greatest time in history for the advance of the gospel. We have so much going for us.

We have the ability.
We have the resources.
We have the people.

What we don't have is them committed to a place where they can actually be used for their God-ordained purpose.

If this generation doesn't make the impact it should, it won't be because it didn't have the resources. Or even the passion. It will be because it was too busy hopping to different churches to stop and commit to one where its resources and passion could actually find an outlet.

The church is the change the world is waiting for. God help us if we keep the world waiting for us while we try to find the perfect church for us.

If you've fallen into the trap of church hopping, let me encourage you: embrace your place somewhere where God can use you. At the end of your life, God's not going to be impressed or pleased that you saw what He was doing at ten different churches. He's going be more pleased that you were a part of what He was doing at one church.

And you're never going to find the perfect one, so give up looking. If the church you're visiting doesn't have what you're looking for, it might be because God wants you to provide it.

Let's all commit together to begin a campaign to stop the hop.
Find a place to get planted. Embrace it. And start changing the world.

The question of our day isn't if God wants to do incredible things through the church. The question is will we be in place to experience it?

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Lottie Moon Christmas Offering Is For Tim & Anna

Several years ago a young couple named Tim and Anna attended our church. They were North Greenville University graduates and were preparing to be assigned as missionaries with the International Mission Board of our Southern Baptist Convention. It was a pleasure getting to know them and it was a delight having them in our Growth Group. In fact, when I had to switch back to Verizon from AT&T (remember those days when only AT&T had the iPhone?) I painfully gave Tim my iPhone that they would take to the country they were assigned. If I had to give it up, I was consoled it would be used for missions. 

Recently, I received an email from Tim. He stated, 


I would like to think we are sent out from Ridgeview and you would claim us as YOUR IMB Ms in ____________. I just got back from the trail. I hiked 5 hours in on Monday, preached to more than 100 people before coming home today. No one responded in faith so continue to pray that God would remove the blindness and they would receive the gift of faith.

Eph. 2:8&9


Sent from my iPhone

This Sunday we will show a video of Tim being interviewed by the International Mission Board. Aren't you proud that when you give to the Lottie Moon Christmas offering you are helping Tim & Anna take the gospel to unreached people groups? There is no better investment of your money this Christmas!

Pastor Tommy

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Stage A Simulation

Recently, I finished reading Tim Sanders' book Today We Are Rich. It is an excellent book and has helped me tremendously. One of the chapters is entitled Prepare Yourself. Lots of great content in that chapter. One very practical piece of advice he gives is to "stage a simulation." If you speak publicly, have a job interview, etc, seek to simulate the experience by rehearsing it live. 

For me, I preach each Sunday. Before I ever get up on the stage on Sundays I rehearse messages out loud in my office. I seek to prepare for things beyond my control such as sound system feedback, a baby in the audience crying, people getting up out of their seat to go to the restroom, and many other factors. All these things have happened while I've been preaching/teaching at my church. 

Whatever you find yourself doing, seek to "stage a simulation" before actually doing it. You'll find in the moment when obstacles arise in the live event you're prepared. You will silently say to yourself, "I was expecting that," and then move with confidence.

Monday, November 21, 2011

You've Got To Play The Game

Back in 1997 I attended my first and only Baylor University football game in Waco. My girlfriend at the time and Baylor grad, Tanya, wanted me to go with her down there for homecoming. Baylor was playing Texas with Heisman winner Ricky Williams running the ball for the Longhorns. To my surprise, Baylor defeated Texas 23-21. A classic David and Goliath match up. The fans stormed the field and tore the goal posts down. It was a surreal feeling! I have had some of those memories come back as I saw Baylor defeated #5 ranked Oklahoma last Saturday.

I also had the unfortunate opportunity as a sophomore at Carolina to witness the Citadel Bulldogs defeat the Gamecocks back in 1993. It was an awful feeling that day for us Gamecock fans as we left Williams Brice stadium.

I've learned a few things in life when it comes to sports. You've got to play the game. Just because a team is ranked nationally and the other team is not doesn't mean the underdog just needs to go ahead and forfeit. Sports is a great microcosm of life. You've got to lace it up and play the game, regardless of the odds against you. You've got to believe in yourself and the God who created you. Attitude makes all the difference. Henry Ford said, "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right." Thank you Baylor for reminding me of that lesson this week. And by the way, that girl named Tanya became my wife. I knew I was out of my league but laced it up anyway and went after her. So glad I did!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

South Carolina Baptist Convention Great Commission Task Force Report

Yesterday I traveled to Columbia, SC for the annual SC Baptist Convention meeting. I served on the enrollment and credentials committee registering people who forgot or never received their messenger cards. Messenger cards allow people to receive ballots so they may vote in SC Baptist proceedings. Later that night we had the "Great Commission Resurgence Task Force Report." This task force and report was mandated by the messengers from last year's convention to study the effects of the GCR on our state's institutions. This task force brought forth a plan that would allow our state to to increase our contribution to missions (both foreign and domestic). It would mean some state Baptist agencies would take a cut. 

Getting Baptists to agree on anything is no small task. After discussion of the report, the plan presented, and others offering amendments to the current plan, we took a vote. The messengers spoke and by majority the recommendations were accepted as is without any amendments.

Not everyone agreed with the totality of the changes, but at the end of the night many left on a positive note in which our state convention is headed. Here are some of the recommendations that really got me excited:

1. "We increase South Carolina's contribution to the IMB (International Mission Board) by 21.95 percent over the next three years.

2. "Church revitalization, Missions Mobilization/Evangelism, and Church Planting be made the primary focus of the SCBC."

The theme of the report was "The harvest is plentiful." That is so true! Six billion on this planet are living in spiritual darkness, desperately needing the light of Jesus Christ. I'm proud SC Baptists are uniting in purpose; to help take the light of Jesus Chrsit into the darkness.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Quickest Answer To Prayer I've Ever Received

Sunday night I headed over to Rock's Restaurant where our students meet for Bible study. As I walked in the restaurant, there was a distraught senior adult woman with one of the restaurant owners, Gene Hunter. They were looking for something. I asked what was the problem. The lady approached me with a tear rolling down her face. She said, "After church today we ate lunch here. I noticed after lunch as I got home that my purse was gone. I don't know where it is. I've looked all over. Would you pray that I find it?" Gene Hunter laughed, "You've come to the right person, he's a preacher." 

I have a policy if it is possible at the moment to pray right then and there if someone asks me to pray for them. So, I asked her if she would like for me to pray right then. She said, "Yes!" I reached for her hand and gently held it. I then prayed to our Heavenly Father who cares about the big and small concerns in our lives. I prayed for a specific answer, that this purse would be found. I prayed Philippians 4:6-7 for this woman, that she would not worry but present her request to God. I thanked God in advance that He would take care of this situation. I prayed God would give this woman a sense of peace. And then I said, "Amen."

As I opened my eyes, Gene Hunter was returning to where we were standing with something in his hands. He asked, "Is this what you were looking for?" It was the woman's purse! She was ecstatic. Some of the first words out of her mouth was, "Praise the Lord!" I gave her a hug along with high-fiving Gene and Tim Camilletti who was there to lead the Bible study.

What was the lesson I learned last night? Paul instructs me in Philippians 4:6-7 not to worry but to pray about everything with a good dose of praise and thanksgiving. And then leave time for God to work. It may be immediate. It may take years. The principle remains the same. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lessons From The Penn State Scandal

I read the indictment this week against former Penn State football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. He was entrusted with his "Second Mile" charitable organization to invest in young boys who had tough home lives and backgrounds. Unfortunately, he violated that trust. The damage he incurred on at least eight young boys (some say it's up to twenty) will last for years; many may never recover. 

The fallout has been great as well it should. Jerry Sandusky has been indicted and although innocent until proven guilty, could face the rest of his life in prison. The athletic director and another football assistant have also been indicted due to their cover up of the situation by lying to a grand jury. Trustees have terminated the President of Penn State. Perhaps the biggest news of all is that trustees also terminated legendary head football coach Joe Paterno. This is the man who coached at Penn State six decades and won two national championships. Many claim "JoPa", who had reported to Penn State knowing something shady about Jerry Sandusky, should have done more. This story is a tragedy and the real loser is not Joe Paterno who at age 84 has lived a long, successful life. The tragedy is what happened to these boys and the guilt, the shame, the lack of trust, and the challenges they will face the rest of their lives.

As I've thought about this situation at Penn State, I'd like to share some thoughts, lessons, and why we do some of the things we do at Ridgeview:

*Lesson 1: "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)." 
When we read an account of a child molester we look at that person with utter disgust because of their sin. However, have we ever really thought about the fact that this is the same way a holy God looks at our sin as well. Can we comprehend that our sin is equally heinous in the eyes of a holy God?

*Lesson 2: People need Jesus!
Romans 3:24 states concerning sinners who trust Christ, they "...are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." 

*Lesson 3: Pornography will take you further than you think you would ever go!
I guarantee you that Jerry Sandusky didn't wake up one morning and suddenly decide to do the things he did to little boys. His actions began in his mind. That's why repentance means to "change one's mind." Pornography fills one's mind with filth. As a person continues to engage in viewing pornography, the sin nature will crave more deviant and disgusting acts. Sooner or later, simply viewing filth will not be enough. Proverbs 27:19 states, "As water reflects a face, so a man's heart reflects the man."

*Lesson 4: Never allow yourself to be alone with a member of the opposite sex or a child.
I've had a policy in my life for many years; never meet alone with a female. It has caused some inconvenience at times, but I want to finish faithfully the race marked out for me. Also, just protect yourself by not being alone with a child so that there will never be any justification of an accusation.

*Lesson 5: If you see or know something, say something! (if you don't you can go to jail)
If I am told as a Pastor in a counseling session that someone was molested, legally I have to report it. It is simply the right thing to do!

*Lesson 6: Every church should do a background check on children's workers.
Any person serving in our Ridgekidz area has to have a background check done on them. We want to protect our kids. Also, we have a check in and check out system on Sunday mornings for our kids. Some may not like the inconvenience but please understand we are seeking the protection of each child.

These are a few thoughts and lessons we can learn from the Penn State scandal. I am again reminded that our world is sin sick. We must sacrifice our time, our talents, and our treasure to take the good news of Jesus to people living in darkness. This world will only get darker as long as we keep the light of Christ to ourselves.

In Him,

Pastor Tommy

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Is leaving a full-time ministry leaving ministry?

While I was a student at Southwestern Baptist seminary in Texas, I remembered being told that there were thousands of graduates of Southwestern in the metroplex who had come through our school but were no longer in ministry (i.e. full-time church staff). I've heard Pastors recount how those who graduated with them in seminary years later only a few were still in ministry (i.e. full-time church staff). Their challenge was to stay faithful and to persevere the race marked out for us. I heartily agree with that challenge! However, the more I'm in full-time Christian ministry I see the merit of those who may be working full-time jobs outside of the church being just as involved in full-time ministry as I am. Also, I believe it is wrong to categorize those who may have stepped out of a full-time Christian vocation as having left "the ministry." There are many bivocational pastors on the front lines who are having a huge impact for the Kingdom. In fact, the Apostle Paul was a tentmaker and some argue that the Apostles didn't leave their jobs entirely in following Christ (i.e. they went back to their nets after Christ was crucified).  

So, whether a person is in a paid, full-time Christian vocation or whether a person left that arena and is now in the marketplace, hopefully their vocation/calling stays white hot. Christ has called His followers to "go and make disciples." As long as they have that passion to share Jesus and make disciples, they can do it in whatever profession they choose. The Bible says in Colossians 3:17, "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Pastor Appreciates You Month!

This past October was Pastor Appreciation Month. So, let me express my appreciation and gratitude to be the Pastor of Ridgeview Church. Here's what I appreciate about many of you at Ridgeview Church:

1. Your love for Christ.

2. Your love for people (all people).

3. Your attitude.

4. Your servant's heart.

5. Your desire to meet needs of people in our church.

6. Your desire to meet needs of people in our community.

7. Your generosity,

8. Your time you give to serve Christ.

9. Your talents and abilities you give to serve Christ.

10. Your treasure/money you give back to Christ.

11. Your desire to bridge people to Jesus and see them become fully devoted disciples.

12. Your prayers.

13. Your forgiving spirit.

14. Your flexibility in meeting together for corporate worship in rented schools for almost 8 years. 

15. Your faith.

16. Your allowing me to be me. 

God has blessed me to be surrounded by an incredible group of people at Ridgeview Church. I appreciate you. I love you. It's hard to believe we began this journey almost eight years ago when my firstborn was only a month old! It has been such a ride. I still get a thrill and my joy comes each week as I see you grow "in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18). Thank you for allowing me and my family to be part of the journey with you!

Many thanks!

Pastor Tommy

Monday, October 24, 2011

Two weeks ago all of our Growth Groups went over the story in Matthew 18 where Jesus tells Peter about the importance of forgiving. It is a powerful story of forgiveness and makes it clear we have been forgiven much therefore must forgive. It made an impact on our people who were in Growth Groups that week.

For every person in our church the goal is to make disciples. It was encouraging for me to receive a comment card on a Sunday after that Bible story on forgiveness from a person who had been struggling with that issue. This person acknowledged how convicting the Bible story was in Growth Group and how changes needed to be made to get to a point of forgiveness in her own life.

Discipleship occurs when a person's heart and behavior is being transformed by the power of God's Word, God's Spirit, and God's people speaking into their life. The process can be slow at times but it's what God has called us to do.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Recently I finished reading Eric Metaxas' book on the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. So many great lessons I am reminded from his life. He spoke against the concept he coined "cheap grace." It is simply the idea that faith without works is not faith at all, but a simple lack of obedience to God. In fact, Bonhoeffer's mother was a huge influence on his life and this concept. She prodded her son to make the church live out what it claimed to believe by speaking publicly against Hitler and the Nazis, and taking action against them. For Bonhoeffer, this cost him his life.

Several books and messages are out in print today speaking to this same issue such as Francis Chan's Crazy Love book or Craig Groeschel's Practical Atheist or Kyle Idleman's book Not A Fan. Our church is grappling with cheap grace this week as we look at the story in Luke 9:57-10:1 where Jesus does not accept excuses in following Him.

Bonhoeffer wrote a book called The Cost of Discipleship. Jesus implores all of us in Luke 9:62 "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God." I don't want to look back. I want to be all in for Christ and His Gospel.

Friday, October 14, 2011

I could never forgive them for what they did!

I met with some men this morning at Peggy's Diner for our Friday Men's Growth Group. We are exploring the Bible stories in the gospels. Today we looked at Matthew 18 where Jesus shares the story of an unmerciful servant. This servant owed the king billions. The king took pity on him and canceled his debt and let him go. He did the Dave Ramsey yell, "I'm debt free!" But, then he came across a fellow servant that owed him the equivalent of a couple thousand dollars. This debt free servant had his fellow servant thrown into prison until he could pay the debt back. Word got back to the king who was justifiably angry. This servant was brought to him and the king gave him a piece of his mind. He then had him thrown into prison.

Jesus' words to us are at the end of this story; "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." Ever heard someone say, "I could never forgive them for what they did." Based on Jesus' teachings, what would you say? Better yet, what do you need to do?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The beauty of Growth Groups

Last Thursday night a week ago Aaron and Kayli Williams welcomed their first child into their family, Lexington Grayce. Throughout the day I received texts of Kayli's progress from Aaron. I received my last text Thursday evening. It was a picture of the baby! I made my way to the hospital to see them the next morning. It was a great visit and I enjoyed celebrating with them. As I was leaving the hospital, I ran into two Growth Group members from Aaron and Kayli's group coming to see them. In fact, this same couple had also seen them the night before!

As Aaron and Kayli returned home two days later, both present and past Growth Group members had called to check on them and bring them food. They are being cared for by their church family. It is the church being the church!

I love what our Growth Groups provide! First and foremost, they are making disciples. Out of discipleship there have also been many other side benefits. Relationships are formed in our groups. When people experience the joys of life (i.e. birth of child, engagement, wedding, job promotion, etc) their Growth Group is there to celebrate with them. Their Growth Group is there to pray for them. Their Growth Group is there to provide support for them through meeting practical needs. 

In the last few weeks I've seen our Growth Groups put their discipleship into action. I've seen them help a single mom find a place to live, move her belongings, and do some home repairs she needed. I've seen another Growth Group provide meals and house cleaning to a family who is experiencing some tough times. I've seen baby showers thrown by Growth Groups. The list goes on and on!

Ridgeview Church is a church of small groups. They are biblical (Acts 2:42-47). They are our primary way of making disciples. They meet many needs whether they be spiritual, emotional, physical, or financial. I am grateful for all that I see God doing through them!

Pastor Tommy

P.S. Here's a video of Ridgeview's newest family member. Congrats to Aaron & Kayli Williams!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Detroit Lions? Oh Yes!

Can't believe I actually wanted to watch the Detroit Lions last night! For many years they have been one of the worst teams in the NFL. They have been the team that gets beat every year as we sit around on Thanksgiving Day and watch them lose to the Cowboys, etc. But something is different this year. They are now undefeated. What happened?

They began to practice what Jim Collins refers to getting the right people on the bus and then getting them into the right seats. I'm not up on all the right people at Detroit. I actually only know two. Matthew Stafford was drafted as QB from Georgia and has made an immediate impact. His receiver, Calvin Johnson, from Georgia Tech, has also been a great draft pick. They are winning and the culture is changing in Detroit.

Whatever organization it applies to; getting the right people on the bus in the right seats is the key to success. Wrong people on the bus going in the wrong direction will kill any team. Who needs to be on your bus? Who needs to get off?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Aaron, "Lexi," & Kayli Willaims

Part of my role as a Pastor is to make hospital visits. My most recent visit was to Spartanburg Regional to see our newest Ridgeview family member. Her name is Lexington Grayce Williams. She is adorable and her parents are very proud! I am very happy for them!

I have been making hospital visits ever since my first church position back in 1998. There are a few things I've learned along the way. I try to practice these things:

1. I knock on the hospital room door if it is closed and wait for someone to open. I never walk in on my own.

2. When I first walk in the room, I squirt my hands with the antibacterial lotion on the wall.

3. I assess what's going on as I walk in. If there's a nurse talking with the patient, I wait my turn.

4. I ask general questions. I don't want to appear intrusive when it comes to a person's illness.

5a. If I'm talking with the patient and the nurse/doctor comes in, I step out of the way.
5b. If I'm about to leave and pray with the patient and the nurse/doctor comes in, especially if it isn't an emergency, I ask for 3 minutes to pray with the patient and then I move on.

6. If I'm visiting someone who just had a baby, I never ask to hold the baby. If they offer, I will accept.

7. I never overstay my welcome. Most people appreciate my visit and I want it to stay that way. I try to keep my visits to 10 minutes.

8a. I always seek to share a word of Scripture and always pray with those in the room.
8b. When praying, I always seek to touch the patient by holding their hand or placing my hand on their shoulder, etc. There is power in touch when praying.

9. I try to resist eating any leftover hospital food they have on their tray (:

Just a few things I try to incorporate in making hospital visits. This isn't an exhaustive list, but a few insights I've incorporated along the way. The most important aspect anyone can bring in making a hospital visit is a sense of love and care for the patient.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Effective Praying

We have been looking at the life of Elijah on Sunday mornings at Ridgeview and the principles we can learn from this great man of God. One of those is effective praying. Elijah was effective in praying. How so?

1. His prayers were marked with humility.
(Elijah)...bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees. 1 Kings 18:42

2. His prayers were specific.
"Go and look toward the sea," he told his servant. And he went up and looked. "There is nothing there," he said... 1 Kings 18:43

Why did Elijah ask his servant to go toward the sea? He was specifically praying for rain!

3. His prayers were marked with persistence.
"Go and look toward the sea," he told his servant. And he went up and looked. "There is nothing there," he said. Seven times Elijah said, "Go back." 1 Kings 18:43

4. His prayers were marked with expectancy.
The seventh time the servant reported, "A cloud as small as a man's hand is rising from the sea," So Elijah said, "Go and tell Ahab, 'Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.'" 1 Kings 18:44

What have you stopped praying about? Start back today with humility, specificity, persistence, and expectancy. God answers prayer!

Friday, October 07, 2011

In my Bible reading this morning one passage really jumped out to me in 1 Samuel 30. David was being pursued by King Saul who was jealous and wanted him dead. On the other end, David and his men were gone and in their absence the Amalekites came and raided their home base. They took the women, sons, and daughters away with them. David and his men returned to Ziklag to find an empty camp that had been burned by fire. The men were ready to stone David.

David had nothing to do with what happened. This was beyond his control. And yet, the stones were about to fly at him. Leaders always have the bullseye on their head. Here's what jumped out to me as David faced this situation: "But David found strength in the Lord his God."

Ever face situations in life where you had no control over circumstances and yet find yourself being blamed? Do what David did. Find strength in the Lord Your God. How do you find strength in the Lord? I have a few things I do to draw strength from Him. What do you do?

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Steve Jobs' life on this earth ended yesterday. He made a huge impact on the world in his role with Apple computers. I am reminded of the legendary story when Steve was recruiting John Sculley, the VP at Pepsi, to come work at Apple. The game changing question Steve asked him was whether he wanted to continue to sell sugared water the rest of his life or did he want to change the world? John left Pepsi to go work for Apple.

As a Christ-follower, that's a question Jesus asks me as well. He asks me to come follow Him and He will make me fishers of men. He asks me to come follow Him and He will use me to make disciples who in turn make disciples. That's an incredible way to change the world. I do my part in participating with God in advancing His Kingdom one disciple at a time. So glad He invites me to be part of His team!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Week In The Life Of Ridgeview Church

(That I know about)

*New Message Series on Elijah. Looked at the life of Elijah in 1 Kings 17 and how God takes us through the valley to do a work in us in order to do a work through us.
*Ridgekidz- Great time of teaching using our 252 Basics curriculum.
*Sunday night Growth Group- met at home of Don & Beverley Brown. Aaron Williams facilitated. Great to see disciples being raised up to make more disciples.
*Ridgestudents- CJ Cauble & our students met at Rock's Country Store. They are using the same Bible stories our adult Growth Groups are using. CJ has challenged the students to share that Bible story this week with someone at school. I love it!

*Staff meeting at Moe's restaurant. Great food and great time to pray over the Connection Cards turned in from Sunday; yes, right in the middle of the restaurant!

*Tuesday Growth Group met led by Paul & Paula Eill. Hearing great things from that group!

*Wednesday Growth Group met led by Lane & Renee Stovall. This is new group that branched from the summer semester. This is a win for us as a church; making disciples who give birth to new Growth Groups who in turn make more disciples!
*Ridgekidz Summit Group met at our home. Amy Eldridge taught the older group "How to read God's Word." Tanya Hargrove led the younger group as they learned more about David and how "man looks at the outward appearance, God looks at the heart."
*Ridgeview provided refreshments for the Mountain View Elementary for their faculty meeting. Sharing the love of Jesus in a practical way. Great bridges built!

*Thursday night Growth Group to meet led by Rex & Carolyn Culbertson. I am attending this one tonight with my family. Love being a part of it!

*Friday morning men's Growth Group to meet at 6:45 a.m. at Peggy's diner. Excited that Max Culbertson is going to share the Bible story this Friday. More disciple-making! Excited one or two more men will be joining us!

These are just a few things I know about this week in the life of Ridgeview Church. The exciting thing is there are other ministry related acts going on in Growth Groups that I know nothing about. I can't control it, and that's a good thing. I love to hear about how God's people are responding in ways the Holy Spirit is leading them to go. I believe our structure is in place at Ridgeview to continue seeing that happen. I just try to stay out of the way and let God lead!

See you Sunday!

Pastor Tommy

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Loving People When They Don't Love Me Back

I was reading my Bible this morning. Good thing to do, right? I'm using Wayne Cordeiro's Bible reading plan of reading through the OT once and the NT twice in one year. Anyway, came into Matthew 5 today as Jesus taught His listeners in verse 45, "But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45) that you may be sons of your Father in heaven..." This verse was a great reminder for what I continually need to practice.

Over the last couple of years since I started a church, I've had a number of people in the church hurt me. Not physically of course. Sometimes I wish it was physical rather than emotional. Physical scars heal. The other kind take much longer. As a Pastor, I love the people God has entrusted me to shepherd and disciple. Sometimes, I've had some sheep bite me. Then, they go find another pen to graze in. It hurts; really hurts! But, Jesus calls me to love and pray for those who for one reason or another just don't like me or the way I go about ministry anymore. Now I could pray God would strike them with leprosy, but I guess that would negate the whole love thing. Seriously, I have a list of people in my prayer journal I pray for that have hurt me in some way. God does an amazing thing when I do that. He changes my heart toward them. It also shows the Lord that when I actually obey this command He is truly Lord of my life.

I'm not always perfect in this arena but God is doing a work in me so that He can do a work through me. I want to be all that I can be in Christ living to glorify God in all that I do. That means loving people when they don't love me back.

Monday, September 26, 2011

I sat in last night on the Sunday night Growth Group from Ridgeview Church. Aaron Williams facilitated last night (his shoe & Bible are shown at the bottom left corner). The encouraging thing to me is to see disciples being made and disciples being raised up to disciple more people. Aaron is one of those people. He has made himself available and is well on his way to leading a Growth Group on his own in the very near future!

Our goal for our small groups is to make disciples who are making disciples. We want to reproduce! Judging from what I'm seeing, we are definitely heading in the right direction!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What is the "win" for Ridgeview Church?

This past Monday and Tuesday I served as a co-facilitator at a conference called Immersion 1. It is sponsored in part by the South Carolina Baptist Convention. It is held quarterly at Trinity Point Church in Easley under the direction of Pastor Michael Mohler. It is the same conference our leadership went through last Spring as we began our new direction in Growth Groups. We thought it was so important that we brought Pastor Mohler to lead our church retreat at Lookup Lodge this past May to teach these principles. I had a great time meeting and sharing with a great church from Missouri and the fine folks from Sans Souci Baptist in Greenville. People from all over the country attended (Florida, Alaska, Missouri, Oklahoma) and many denominations were represented. As we all gathered in our separate break out sessions, we talked about alignment. In developing a winning team, there must be alignment on what the goal or the win entails. Sadly, churches are filled with well meaning people who have different scorecards on what is  the win.

Since Ridgeview began, I have been confronted with different ways of what the win looks like. So, what is the win anyway? Jesus laid it out in Matthew 28, "Go and make disciples." The win is making disciples who in turn go and make disciples. From our earliest days one of things I believe we got right was focusing on small groups as our best vehicle to accomplish discipleship. After almost eight years at Ridgeview, I still see our small groups and the relationship environment they provide as being the most effective means of making disciples. We will never waver from that! Our Sunday morning worship gatherings are important and we work hard on that element, but we are seeing disciples made most effectively in our Growth Groups as we open God's Word and share the Bible stories each week. 

As we initiate our Fall semester this week, we have gone from three groups to five groups. We have a Growth Group meeting almost everyday of the week! We already have a Growth Group reaching out this week meeting a huge need a family in our community has. The core, the lifeblood, the heart of Ridgeview Church is in our small groups! As we come together each week sharing the Bible story, rebuilding that story, and applying what God is saying to us from His story, hearts are being changed! It is exciting to see God's people being mobilized to do what He's called us to do. 

Let me say for those who read this article who actively attend Ridgeview: if you are not involved in a Growth Group you are missing out on God's plan for your life. Jesus invested His entire ministry into twelve people, a small group. Before Jesus even went to the cross He said in John 17:4, "I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do." He made disciples who in turn would make more disciples.

Don't tarry, don't waste your life! Sign up for a Growth Group and make it a priority. Discipleship for a Christian is not optional and God expects us to do it with other believers. There is no discipleship outside of relationships. Hope to see you in a Growth Group this semester!

Pastor Tommy

P.S. My friends Brian Parker and Chad Hall from Trinity Point Church in Easley wanted to say hello to you and provide another encouragement to join a Growth Group today...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Black Bear Spotted In My Neighborhood Yesterday

Last night after dinner, my boys wanted to go to our neighborhood pool. I agreed to take them. My wife decided while I hung out with the boys at the pool, she would go walking in the neighborhood. She would meet back with us at the pool after her walk. All went as planned; the boys were having a blast jumping in and out of the pool when I got an email on my phone. I decided to check it. It was from the neighborhood Facebook page. A neighbor wrote a blanket email that she just saw a black bear run behind her house into the woods. Those same woods where my wife would be walking by. I immediately yelled to my boys to get out of the pool and that we needed to hurry up and go. They saw the urgency in my eyes. I grabbed my phone and called Tanya. She answered and I told her the news. The boys and myself jumped in the car and headed quickly down the road to pick her up. She got in the car and we headed back to the house safe and sound. We didn't see any bear and I just may have permanently scared my boys out of ever going in those woods down the road.

I got to thinking about how this relates to evangelism. Several thoughts came to mind:

1) In receiving the email, I quickly realized a real danger to my wife- a black bear that could rip her to shreds.
When it comes to evangelism, do I really believe there is a real and present danger to people in this world without Christ? I believe in a literal hell, a place where Jesus says those will go who reject Him (Matthew 13:49-50). That leads to my second thought.

2) I immediately left lounging at the pool with a sense of urgency to go pick up my wife walking unprotected by the woods. I didn't say to my boys, "five more minutes" or to myself, "she'll be alright." I didn't stay at the pool and pray, "God, would you protect my wife from the black bear while I continue lounging at the pool doing nothing about it."
When it comes to evangelism, it can be real easy for me to fall into the trap of saying "five more minutes" or just hoping someone else comes along to share the gospel with others while I do nothing.

3) While driving back to the house with my family in the car, I saw a neighbor walking with his small dog on a leash. That dog would be an appetizer; that man would be the entree to a black bear. I stopped to tell him a bear had been spotted. He thanked me for the info.
When it comes to evangelism, I interact with people in my world all the time who do not have the information that I have. They need to know it!

One of the battles I must continually fight against when it comes to evangelism is complacency. I know there is a real and present danger for sinners who die in their sins without Christ. I must fight everyday against evangelism procrastination all the while enjoying any kind of lounge by the pool type Christianity.

Not trying to be morbid, but if I had not gone to pick up my wife and she was attacked by a bear, I would be negligent to say the least. The same is true for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with people all around me. God's prophet Ezekiel received a word from the Lord in Ezekiel 3. God told him, "17) Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 18) When I say to a wicked man, 'You will surely die, and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. 19) But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself."

When it comes to evangelism, I want to live my life with "no blood on my hands." The loving, responsible, natural thing to do when I heard my wife was in the vicinity of danger was to warn her and get her to safety. As a Christian, the loving, responsible, hopefully natural thing to do is warn the sinner and lead him or her to the Savior, Jesus Christ. Knowing it in my head is one thing. I must continually fight the battle of "ought to" with action everyday.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Itching Their Ears?

I've had some fun with the message series the last two weeks called FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions). I got much of the ideas from for this series and have added some of my own stuff to it as well. Each week I've shared that as we address these frequently asked questions, when the Bible speaks directly to them, we will let the Bible speak for itself. Where the Bible doesn't speak directly to the question, we will incorporate biblical principles. Also, if I offered an opinion, I would let everyone know it was simply my opinion.

This format has been unlike any series I've ever done at Ridgeview. Never covered so much so quickly ranging from homosexuality, tattoos, cremation, suicide, the coming judgments, living together outside of marriage, gambling, interracial marriage, pets/animals in heaven, and Sunday's 9/11 question of why bad things happen to "good" people. It has certainly kept people interested!

As I've gone through this series addressing these questions, I know some in my church are dealing with some issues that are very clear sins. The Bible speaks very clearly to that. As I dealt with an issue in the message, part of me quivered a bit with the thought, "What if this person is offended and leaves the church?" Granted, I'm just sharing what the Bible says. But, what if? I certainly have had it happen before (i.e. tithing message).

Hopefully, as a person of integrity, I will not shy away from preaching truth to the church I pastor because of fear it may anger and cause people to leave. I don't want to be the preacher Paul refers to in 2 Timothy 4:3, "...they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear." I'm not going to cast stones at any preacher that may do that or play the martyr card either. I'm simply reminded that John 1:14 states, "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." I want to be the Christ follower who shares His truth to people far from God. But in sharing that truth, I do it with grace. Both must be at work. All grace and no truth; that will take one down a road of liberal, believe anything theology. No grace and all truth; well, that's just not being like Jesus! A balanced approach is what I try to take. Hopefully, I honor God in it all.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

In My Seat

Three years ago on a cold, overcast day in February, I took this picture of ground zero at the World Trade Center sight. All of us remember where we were on September 11, 2001. It rattled our nation to the core. For many people, at least for a while, it caused a time of reflection on what is most important in life. All of us wanted to hug our loved ones and hold them close. We realized life wasn't about more money to be made but about relationships that God gave. For us as Christians, it reminded us all that evil is real, sin is serious, and there is no hope in this world without Jesus. 

As we approach the ten year anniversary of 9/11, this video of American Airlines pilot Steve Sheibner who was supposed to fly flight 11 dramatically shares the power of the gospel. First Peter 3:18 states, "For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit." After watching the video, I thanked the Lord Jesus again for being "in my seat." Paul said it best in First Corinthians 15:56-57, "The sting of death is sin, and power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Some Baptist Press?

I was contacted by email this week by a writer working on an article for publication in Baptist Press. He was looking at church plants that are using Bible storying in their churches. Now, I don't feel like Ridgeview is a church plant anymore. We are so past that; we are seven and a half years old! We have our big boy pants on now! All kidding aside, I enthusiastically shared with the writer the wonderful things I witnessed this summer in our Growth Groups using Bible storying.

This past Sunday night at my home fourteen people gathered together for our once a semester Growth Group leadership training. We ate together and heard from our Growth Group leaders the celebration stories of what God had done in their groups. For about an hour we poured into them much of what we know in leading a successful Growth Group. There was a great energy in the room. I had much excitement from that meeting anticipating what God is going to do this Fall semester. As we started with three Growth Groups this summer, we are seeing "disciples who are making disciples." We are seeing people grow up in their faith and are looking to lead others to do the same. New Growth Groups are being spawned from existing groups because we are doing something right; we are making disciples!

As we begin our time of promotion for the Fall 2011 Growth Group semester, I am extremely excited about the Growth Groups we have formed and the Bible storying sets we are ready to dive into. Let me challenge you this Fall to join a Growth Group. Ninety-percent of our church was involved in some type of small group this summer. Many people have grown in their faith this summer due to connecting with God, God's people, and through the stories in His Word. There is no better tool we have in our church to disciple people than our small groups gathered around God's Word. For the ninety-percent of our people who know this; don't stop being part of Growth Groups due to the busyness of the Fall. Life will always be busy! For the ten percent who are not involved in Growth Groups at Ridgeview, why not give them a try this semester? It could be the most helpful tool you have this Fall in your spiritual growth!

Lastly, I'm looking forward to this Sunday as we start our new "Frequently Asked Questions" series. We'll look at questions on homosexuality (can a gay person be a Christian?), Christians having tatoos, Heaven (cremation, marriage in heaven, recognizing loved ones, can they see us from heaven?), and suicide. Where the Bible speaks clearly on these issues, I will lay it out. Where the Bible does not, we will apply biblical principles. In all things, we will show love. This should be fun!

See you Sunday!

Pastor Tommy (aka Little Tommy, the Big Nasty, Daddy, Stud Muffin- if you have no idea what these names mean, then you are just going to have to listen to last Sunday's message from our website found at the "media" tab.)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I recently read the book Unchristian by David Kinnamon & Gabe Lyons. Okay, let me be a bit more honest; I read the book summary of Unchristian. It was an interesting read on how Mosaics & Busters (my generation) perceive Christians. There were six themes the authors identified of how Christians are viewed. They are: 1) Hypocritical, 2) Too focused on getting converts, 3) Anti-homosexual, 4) Sheltered, 5) Too political, and 6) Judgmental.

These things may be true, they may not. It doesn't matter. This is how many Christians are viewed. So, what are my thoughts?

As a Christian, God has called me to love him wholeheartedly and to love my neighbor. As an expression of love for all God's people (red, yellow, black, white, gay, straight), I believe the greatest thing I can do for them is to share the good news, the hope of Jesus. Hopefully, my motives are pure and I do it all with love. One of the ways I try to lead in that love is by serving others in the name of Christ. Our church calls them bridge events. Recently, as teachers returned from their summer break, our church provided them an awesome breakfast from Chic-Fil-A. It was a small way to share with them the love of Christ. We had a blast!

The old adage is true; people don't care how much you know (or who you know) until they know how much you care. Caring for people is my way and our church's way to build a bridge to the "unchristian." A bridge that leads to Christ who is perfect in every way and who is not hypocritical, too focused on getting a convert, anti-homosexual, sheltered, political, or judgmental. He's none of those things; he is God who wrapped himself in flesh to rescue all of us from the depravity of our sin and wants us to be in relationship with him.

I acknowledged my sin and need for Jesus' forgiveness about twenty-six years ago. He changed my life. My heart's desire is for all people to come to know this Jesus who is alive and real and is the only way to the Father (John 14:6). I may not convey that message very well at times. But, to those who do not know Jesus, please understand that I am a sinner just like you who has found forgiveness. You can too! His name is Jesus.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

As we finish our summer Growth Groups semester this week, I would like to say thank you to the following people for facilitating a group this summer: Paul Eill, Don Brown, and Rex Culbertson. They stepped out and helped us test this Bible storying experiment this summer with our groups. They have done an excellent job! I have received more positive feedback this summer from those in Growth Groups than at any other time in the history of our church! We have seen time and time again that the Word of God is "living and active" from Hebrews 4:12. The more we examined God's Word, the more God continued to reveal His truth. As group members shared what God was teaching them, life-transformation was taking place every week.

I also want to thank those of you who volunteered in your Growth Group to share the story, rebuild the story, and even facilitate. Some people did this for the first time ever. It was exciting to see you step out of your comfort zone. That's usually when we grow the most. At Ridgeview, our goal is to make disciples who are making disciples and Growth Groups are the primary vehicle we use to do that. We saw disciples being made this summer! We are now seeing disciples who want to make more disciples!

As we take a month off from Growth Groups, let me remind us all that we never take a day off from discipleship! May we as followers of Christ continue daily to see God shape our thinking, our hearts, and our burden for those who do not know Him.

See you Sunday!

Pastor Tommy

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Reflections on Sunday's Message & Discipleship

What a great Sunday we had last week as we kicked off our new message series. It was great to have so many of you join us for lunch after church. As we learned Sunday, a practical atheist is one who believes in God but lives his or her life as if God doesn't exist. There is no evidence in a person's life that he or she knows God or fears Him.  At the root of practical atheism is real discipleship. So, what is a disciple anyway? How do we define the term disciple? There are three areas to look at:

1) A disciple is one who is committed to following Christ. They have made Jesus Lord or their life. Jesus said in John 8:31, "...If you hold to my teaching you are really my disciples." 
2) A disciple is one who is committed to being changed by Christ. They are becoming like Christ in attitude and action. Jesus said in John 15:8, "This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."
3) A disciple is one who is committed to the mission of Christ. We call it being a bridge of God's love to all people at Ridgeview. It is about seeking to build a bridge for people so they can connect to Jesus who is "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6) and is the only way to the Father. 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said "Christianity without discipleship is Christianity without Christ." Our Practical Atheist series has challenged us all to examine our Christianity and whether or not it has Christ in it. If it does, then we will obey Jesus as Lord, we will become more like Him everyday, and we will be burdened for those who do not know Him and we will look for opportunities to share Jesus with others. 
As Jesus clearly lays out in the Scriptures, there is no room for casual, lukewarm Christianity when you follow Him. What steps can you take today to align your life with true discipleship?  

Pastor Tommy

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Do you believe in God, but don't fear Him?

This Sunday we will begin a new message series entitled, "Practical Atheist." As you survey the spiritual landscape of our country, 94% of Americans claim they believe in God or some kind of universal spirit. Unfortunately, there are many today who claim to believe in the God of the Bible but do not fear Him. They do not fear Him by living with an attitude of "I can do whatever I want to do." Many people today believe in God but live their lives as if He does not exist. They are practical atheists. The Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:1-5, "1) But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2) People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3) without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4) treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5) having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them." We see these characteristics today in those who claim to believe in God.

The Bible says in Romans 12:2 not to "conform any longer to the pattern of this world." I look forward to sharing this Sunday the characteristics you will see in your life when you truly love and fear God. 


Pastor Tommy

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fanning The Flames With Our Words

This Sunday we will conclude our message series dealing with the words we speak. It certainly has caused me to focus on speaking words of life rather than negative words of death. As we have learned from Jesus' teaching, our words are an indication of what is going on in our hearts. We must guard our hearts!

Paul encouraged Timothy to "fan into flame the gift of God which is in you..." in 2 Timothy 1:6. We as the body of Christ have great opportunities to fan the flames for Christ as we speak into each other's lives. I have found our Growth Groups to be great vehicles to do that. Just last night at our group I told a brother in Christ I was proud of him.

As we gather for worship Sunday, may we all fan the flames in others by lifting them up with positive, edifying words. As we will see this Sunday, they literally do have the power of life and death.

See you then!

Pastor Tommy

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Mega Sports Camp Opportunity 1 1/2 Weeks Away!

I'm excited about participating in Mega Sports Camp 2011! It will be held again this year at Northwood Baptist Church (888 Ansel School Rd, Greer) beginning Sunday, July 31 through Thursday, August 4. The camp hours are 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and the total cost is $15 which includes a t-shirt, a sports bag, snacks, and tons of fun! Sports offered for kids will be basketball, soccer, cheerleading, and baseball. 

The most exciting part for me is that through the vehicle of sports a number of kids will come to know Jesus Christ! My 40 year old body will be out there each night running, jumping, clapping to the worship songs, kneeling in our sports huddles, and kneeling in prayer with the kids each night. My skills aren't what they used to be; but I believe God is okay with that. He can use me just by being available. Maybe you feel you can't really contribute to a sports camp because there's no way you can get out there and play. That's okay. We'll have plenty of others who can do that. We have opportunities for people who will sacrifice their evenings for five nights for a couple of hours. In return for your investment, the Kingdom of God will grow.

If that's a team you'd like to be a part of, how about emailing me and letting me know you're in. We'll find a place for you on the roster!


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Don't forsake the small things this summer

I appreciate the encouraging words I received as we finished up our Man 2 Man series. In many ways this series was about stewardship; being a good manager of what God has entrusted us men with. For many of us men, we can always have our eyes set on the next big goal, career track, etc. Sometimes the less glamorous things like being in a Growth Group at church, spending time with family, giving God the firstfruits of our income, exercising, or personal time with God can get postponed "until tomorrow" or "the fall semester." 

Jesus said we must be faithful in little matters: "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much" (Luke 16:10). God has entrusted us with stewardships; are we being obedient in them? 

I was challenged recently by this statement: "How can I pray for God's blessings on certain areas of stewardship when I'm being a disobedient and poor steward in others? What does my lack of faithfulness reveal about my relationship with God? Am I truly making Him the Lord over all my life?"

Wow, those are strong and convicting words! God expects me to be a good manager over many thins such as my physical body, my family, my friends, and my income to name a few. A lack of faithfulness in the small things reveals a character flaw of mine. I must turn and repent each time I realize I'm falling into that trap. I want to hear my Master say "Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master" (Matthew 25:21). I've got to stay connected to Jesus everyday. I pray for wisdom that He would show me areas where He wants me to be faithful and I pray for strength to be fully obedient in all those areas.

As we fly through these dog days of summer, take a moment and think: "Are there any areas of your life that you've been neglecting? Don't forsake the small things this summer. A good word for all of us! 

Pastor Tommy

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Man 2 Man Series Finale This Sunday: Ally

Our four week Man 2 Man message series will wrap up this weekend with what I believe will be one of the most important. I look forward to challenging all of us as men to have an ally in our lives. Why an ally? Because even the greatest of men have weak spots and vulnerabilities that the Evil One knows about and looks to target. We need men in our lives who have our back! The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 states, "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up."

Men, do you have an ally in your life? The key thought I want you to think about for Sunday is this: Without accountability, you are vulnerable. I look forward to sharing this Sunday how we all can thrive as a Shepherd Warrior, a spiritual coach for our family, and a knight who lays down his life for his bride.

Men, don't miss this Sunday! God's Word and God's Spirit are going to work in your heart to shape you to be all that He wants you to be in Christ!


Pastor Tommy

Saturday, July 02, 2011

16 Things I Pray For My Boys Every Month
That I Received From Evangelist Tom Harmon

1. Their salvation.

2. Their mate.

3. That they would fall in love with God's Word.

4.That God would keep them from the evil one.

5. That they would have a conscience void of offence before God and man.

6. That their character would be more valuable to them than their credentials.

7. That they would stand up for what is right even if it means standing alone.

8. That they would be kept from the love of money.

9. That they would be kept morally pure.

10. That they would have the heart of a servant.

11. That eternity would burn in their hearts.

12. That sin would always be distasteful to them and that they would be broken easily over sin.

13. That they would love each other.

14. That they would trust God with their parents and not allow rebellion to set in.

15. Regardless the hardship, that they may never become bitter against God.

16. That our boys would be glad to be boys.

17. That I do not stir up anger in them, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)