Sunday, December 28, 2008

Assembly Required--words of fear

Many of us parents have a severe physical reaction to the words "assembly required". Earlier this year two dudes stole my children's basketball goal from our backyard in the middle of the day. They even took time to place a flag on the back of the goal before they drove away--beautiful isn't it?--safety conscious criminals, just what our world needs! Stop laughing. It's only funny when it happens to someone else.

Good news is that my kids grandparents bought them a new goal for Christmas. Bad news is, "Assembly is required" with the new goal. I hope they can shoot on an 11 foot rim:-) Some things come out of the box completely ready to go: Plug and play; aim and shoot; detag and wear. I love that stuff. In fact I'll buy a piece of furniture that I kind of like over the one I really like if the one that I kind of like is a display model already put together.

Unfortunately this same mentality can plague my spiritual life (maybe yours too?). I want a plug and play relationship with my heavenly Father, but like the basketball goal there is some assembly required. Paul said it this way to the Christians in Philippi: "...continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling [Philippians 2:12]." Placing our trust in Jesus is the first step into a relationship with our heavenly Father not the final one. Maybe one of the "resolutions" that needs to make your list this year, is to continue the sometimes hard work of assembling (working out your salvation according to Paul)--your relationship with your heavenly Father through Jesus. It's worthy of the effort.

Friday, December 26, 2008

"Ridge Under the Tent" Countdown begins

January 4th, 2008, Ridge will kick-off the new year "under the tent" at the Levine Center! Put on your scarves and bring your friends as we worship together in a special time. Don't worry, the tent will be heated and coffee will abound. Our UpStreet and Waumba children's environments will take place as normal, in their usual locations. Let's celebrate the new year together as we anticipate what God is doing in our lives and city. Invite people like crazy. It's going to be awesome. See you there!

Join the hype:

Ridge Friends on Facebook

Ridge Fans on Facebook

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Monday Morning Review

December 21st (part three of Tinsel or Tension here) was a really great day at Ridge Church. We started with breakfast in honor of all the amazing and super committed volunteers from Ridge. It is really fun to watch and interact with these great people that have owned this church in such a significant way. These volunteers comprise the backbone of Ridge Church! Interestingly most of them didn't even know each other when this church began, yet now the relationships that have merged in many cases are like family.

Communion at Ridge...hard to describe. Very powerful. Very worshipful. Very appropriate.

Worship at Ridge...WOW! Andy Cherry lead and did an amazing job. Introduced one of his new songs called "Holy", which we'll definitely do again soon.

Take a second to check out this video reading of the Christmas story, by some of our Ridge peeps and friends. (Filmed by Brian Quien and edited by Rusty Burchard)


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Communion at Ridge

I'm really excited about this Sunday! It is going to be an incredible day at Ridge Church. The day will officially begin with a thank you breakfast during "CORE worship" (9:30am) in honor of all of our amazing volunteers (click here to view evite). At the time of this post I think 75 of you have confirmed (children are welcome)--It's going to be a great time to hang out for a few minutes and enjoy each other over breakfast before we dive into the amazing service planned for the day.

Side note: If you attend Ridge and haven't jumped into an area of strategic service. --or maybe I should say you haven't jumped in YET as a volunteer, you simply don't know what you are missing. These are the people that make Ridge Church what it is. You can start the process online.

Tinsel or Tension (part 3)

I won't show all the cards for the day, but just know it will be an amazing Christmas service. Part three of our Christmas series, Tinsel or Tension, and we will be celebrating communion together in a really awesome way. We are making the official announcement about something HUGE for January 4th as well! That's all I can say for now come Sunday to hear the details.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Deck stacked against you

If you are in a relational situation or work situation where it feels like the deck is stacked against you, then you have probably asked out loud or at least in your head, "Why is this happening to me?"

I don't know the specifics of your situation but I do know that sometimes in life God will allow the deck to be stacked against us so that we will come to a point of not relying on ourselves and our own strength and wisdom to pull us through every situation in our life.

The first century Christians suffered much and were severely persecuted because of there relationship to Jesus and their persistence in spreading the news about Him to "everyone". I'm guessing they probably had a least a few if not many moments when they looked toward heaven and asked, "Why is this happening to me?"

Listen to what Paul says about their suffering in 2 Corinthians 1:9-10, "...this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead... he has delivered us...and will deliver us. On him we have set our hope, that he will continue to deliver us."

Since relying on God is the only way for us to ultimately live fully satisfied and complete lives of purpose---God is not beyond occasionally allowing the relational, physical, financial, emotional--deck to be stacked against us so we will remember to rely on Him, not ourselves. The great news is--He is all powerful (can raise the dead), he is driven by love, and he has a long track record of delivering his followers from sticky situations. In your situation today--choose to rely on him!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Who do you podcast?

I keep it on a pretty good rotation when it comes to listening to other pastors, and communicators by way of podcast. There is so much great stuff available to us these days by way of the web and podcasting. Today while I worked, I caught part of a talk by Brian Houston, pastor of Hillsong Church, and part of a Willow Creek podcast. Yesterday I caught part of a sermon from Fellowship Church and part of one from Granger. And last week I caught a talk from Erwin McManus and one from from Francis Chan. Lots of different styles and types of presentations--but lots of gold nuggets! All that to say this--Here are a couple of quotes from Bishop TD Jakes. You should check him out sometime by podcast. He has an "in your face approach", and never holds back but says some really good stuff:

“The cost of leadership is conflict.”
“If you aren’t experiencing conflict, you’re not a leader–you’re a follower.”

“People generally admire their leaders best when they are dead.”
“The breaking stage is the blessing stage.”
“Leadership is really spelled loneliness.”

**Who are you learning from? Who is challenging you? Are you using your drive time wisely?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Eric meets Project Generosity

I have a huge passion to see our church, my generation, and the generation on the way, truly embrace generosity. So I get really excited when I see my children or our church take a step in that direction. I get even more excited when I see our church help my children take a step in that direction!

Upstreet (k-5th grade) under Patrick Mitchell's leadership, is doing something pretty cool called Project Generosity. Each month in Upstreet we reinforce a virtue for the entire month and this month the virtue is "Generosity". So, our Upstreet team (small group leaders and children) are adopting a child through Compassion International. Essentially our children are going to provide education, basic health care needs, clean water, and the opportunity for six year old, Eric Base Kiria, from Kenya to not only hear about, but practically experience how much Jesus loves him.

With help from the small group leaders in Upstreet the children came up with ideas on how to raise money for Eric. Some them have asked parents to remove a gift from their list so they could give the money that would have been spent on that gift to project generosity. Others are drinking water instead of soft drinks at meals and putting the money toward project generosity.

Bottom line--it's pretty cool and I'm proud of what they are doing. If you would like to partner with them to change Eric's life here is how you can get help:
  1. Send a check: Ridge Church_P.O. Box 1853_Indian Trail_N.C._28079 *Put Project Generosity in the memo line of checks.
  2. Give online through E-give: You can follow up with an email to to let us know your gift was for Project Generosity

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Big is Little

Big is Little: There are certain times and situations for all of us that we go big or not at all. Especially in terms of benevolence or meeting the needs of other people. Think about it: Haven't there been times when you were presented with a need or you were made aware of a need, BUT since you couldn't meet it completely you did nothing?

Maybe you heard about the tragic death of a young dad who was survived by a wife and three small children. Your heart was broken and you felt compelled to do something. But as you pulled out your $50 it seemed small in the scheme of things so you put it back in your pocket.

Maybe you are bothered by the fact that countless #'s of children die everyday due to lack of clean drinking water...but again, you think my $50?...and do nothing.

Maybe you felt compelled to help with a community event, or at a homeless shelter but because you couldn't give an hour a week or four hours a month you gave nothing?

I think we need to seriously change the way we define, "big"!

Here is my two week challenge to you: For the next two weeks I want you to think of "big" not in terms of volume but in terms of capacity. The biggest thing you can do for someone is likely something they can't do for themselves. It may be tied to $, but it may be tied to your skills, your time, or your knowledge. The next "big" thing you do or give may be something that feels super small to you but represents something that a person couldn't have done for them self. When it comes to serving people "Big is Little!" Find that little thing that someone can't do for them self and do it for them. Bless people. Don't get stuck in the big or not at all trap when it comes to serving people.

Ever changing stage at Ridge

"Tinsel or Tension"

"Letters to the Next President"


"It's Personal"

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Want a bigger life?

I want to see through, or rise above the dark clouds that sometimes surround and descend human existence. Plain and simple, I believe God has called me to lead something amazing and I refuse to settle for anything less than that. Maybe this is semantics but I do think that half if not 98% of that leading is somehow wrapped up in me figuring out how to simply get out of God's way. Right now, today, I'm praying as I have many times in the past, for God to arouse vision in me in a unique way. I want to see farther. I want to dream huge dreams that are impossible apart from God. I want God to increase my expectations of what can and should be done with my life! If we become what we see, then I want to see as God sees. Anything less than that would fail to give to God the worship that he deserves from my life.

Check out this blurb from Erwin McManus. I think he nails it:

"Those people that seem to live bigger lives, who discover the hero inside of them, and live their most heroic life...they have a higher sense of expectation. An almost insane conviction that their future is going to be better than their past. This irresistible optimism and hope keeps them moving forward."

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

God can't come to work

We place a really high premium on group life at Ridge Church. My community group is going through a study together called "Taking Care of Business" (Great for a work place study!) This series is phenomenal and dives straight into a lot of the tensions that followers of Jesus feel when it comes to being a Christian at work.

If you are a follower of Jesus then you can attest to the fact that when you placed your faith in Jesus things began to change. Sometimes the changes in our lives that come as a result of our relationship to Jesus are immediate, drastic, and obvious, and sometimes it happens more subtly over time. Regardless of how, it happens---IT HAPPENS! A relationship with Jesus changes the way we think, live, spend or give, relate, etc.

Simple challenge: Both while at work and with people from work--live, interact, perform, relate in such a way that causes people to ask the question "WHY?" Why do you do or not do those things. Why didn't you react with anger? Why do continue to show kindness? Then you can tell them it isn't because I believe something, it is because I know SOMEONE. Your and my relationship with Jesus is personal but it shouldn't be private. It's time to take God to work with you! He loves your co-workers and longs for them to know him personally too! Who knows, just maybe your paycheck was never the most important thing about your job anyway.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tinsel or Tension

We are stoked about the new Christmas series, "Tinsel or Tension" that starts this week at Ridge Church. It's going to be a really fun series with super practical topics. Also, like most of you, I love Christmas music and we are doing some great Christmas tunes every week of the series. Be sure to invite people to come with you. Some people will attend church for a Christmas series even though they wouldn't attend any other time. Here is a brief description:

"The Christmas holiday, a time when we focus on Christ, family gatherings, and shopping (not always in that order though:-) It can often be a time of tension and stress instead of peace and good will toward men. In this three-part series Chris Brown and Andy Stanley address the challenges of the season... tinsel or tension?"