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