Friday, May 29, 2009

Ridge Road Crew!

Ridge Environment Teams/ Road Crew:

We start them young! We have jokingly called the environment team or "road crew" at Ridge Church our official "sun rise service." You don't have to wait for Easter at Ridge Church to get your Sun rise service on! We arrive at 6:30am every week to starting creating amazing environments. And I'm not bragging---just stating fact/reality--our environments are really good! I'm amazed at what the creative, committed, hard working, kingdom minded volunteers at Ridge are able to accomplish every week.

We are able to achieve a level of excellence and creativity in a portable environment that some will never achieve in any context. Why? Because we are competing for the souls and life purpose of people that matter to us and matter even more to God. But we aren't competing with the church down the street. They are on our team! Different bedrooms in the same house so to speak. We are competing with every other thing that wins the attention of our un churched, un convinced neighbors on any given Sunday. So we must be great. We must be excellent. We must be on point every week! And we are.

We create environments each week that serve the greatest possible purpose on planet earth! That's why people keep showing up every week at 6:30am. Maybe it's time for you to join the team too. You might be surprised. It's hard work but it's a great community and ultimately it is an investment that will outlast you! OR---you can let the children have all the fun. Your call:-)

Family Birthday Celebration Last Year-Just one Environment example!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Insecurity answers every question!

[Especially for Christians...] I believe it is often times our insecurities that create this need in us to answer all the questions for people. I think that a person's need to go through the discovery process and find the answers is greater than a simple need for answers. What we can do is provide a safe context for those questions to land in.

Feeling the need to answer:
Every once and awhile I find myself in a one on one meeting or small group context where I find my self leaning forward ready to say "Well not really" or "actually that's not what the Bible says" or sometimes I want to just say "you are way off base man...come back to reality". But again I believe it is our insecurities that often drive us to answer all the questions. There are some questions that need clear, concise, and immediate answers. More times than not people's questions need a context for conversation and contemplation. People are in process. Especially when it comes to God.

Answers in the back:
It's kind of like the math book from my trig class in high school. The answers are all in the back but if I simply grab the answer from the back every time then I never learn the process and never own it and ultimately I'll fail the final. Yet we both passionately and naively handicap our friends all the time by giving all the answers.

If you are a follower of Jesus:
Don't allow your insecurities or impatience drive you to answer all the questions for the people in your life that are asking. Create a context for conversation instead of giving them all the answers from the back of the book. Christianity is personal at it's core. Just because you know the answer doesn't mean that you necessarily need to share it to every person in every situation! If it isn't personal for people it will never stick. Add to that the fact that listening gives you a license to speak. Seek to understand rather than seeking to be heard.

If you are still on the fence about Jesus or Christianity:
Keep asking questions. God isn't afraid of your tough questions. The Bible is rich with answers and insight. And if those of us that are followers of Jesus give every answer too quickly just know it's because we so desperately want you to experience what we've experienced that we sometimes jump the gun. Not because we are know it alls!

That's My thought for the day.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Conclusion of Text

I rolled without access to internet for the last couple of days so I missed a few "text" posts. My wife and I headed to Athens Georgia for my high school reunion and didn't get back into town until very late Saturday night. Reunions are always interesting! Enough said about that. I won't tell you what year reunion in an effort to pretend to be blissfully unaware about it all.

Text Concludes:
We concluded an amazing series today at Ridge. We are having a lot of visitors these days because the people that call Ridge Church their church are inviting friends like crazy. Second service was at capacity. I totally forgot to give away the free prize to the text message winner in the second service but we did manage to track him down before he left. We had a bunch of people that jumped on it with some speedy texting! (Your phones were supposed to be off during church...hmmmm?)

Andy visited three keys to help our time spent in the Scriptures. Simple but so good:
  1. Find a Place
  2. Pick a Time
  3. Have a Plan
You can download the reading plan from today HERE
You can listen to the message HERE

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Wed. "Text" "You are that man!"

I Read yesterday (I promise) but just now making it to post. Totally intense passage.

Read the Wednesday text: II Samuel 12:1-22 HERE

The emotions wrapped up in that defining moment in vs 7 must have been "INTENSE." Nathan tells David a sad and twisted story about a very evil man. I can envision King David with all of his kingly authority leaning in from his throne of power as the story unfolds from the prophet Nathan's lips. Nathan walks him right up to the cliff and then King David's "ironic righteous passion" thrust him head first off the cliff.

You are that man!
At the pinnacle of the story when David's anger at this sick and twisted man in Nathan's story had reached a boiling point it becomes apparent that Nathan has set David up like a t-shot and then he takes a swing as he says to David, "You are that man."

In that moment David is toast! Busted. Laid bare. Exposed. In that moment he realized that he hated the man he had become. Also in that moment he found himself in a posture to receive forgiveness and take a step on the road to healing. Rightly defined it was a bitter sweet moment.

David's exact response to the man that turned out to be HIM was "He burned with anger against that man."

OBSERVATION 1: You and I might be surprised how angry we would be without ourselves if we could see ourselves as others see us--or as God sees us. (Slow down and read it again!) Your self image is probably skewed.

OBSERVATION 2: You and I might never see ourselves in an honest light until we give someone else unfiltered permission to give us an occasional snapshot of who we really are. (as a son, daughter, employee, employer, husband, wife, mom, dad, neighbor, friend...)

**Don't read David's story without considering your own story! Maybe an outside voice into your life is long overdue?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tuesday "Text" (Bible Rated R?)

Tuesday "Text" II Samuel 11:1-26 (Read II Samuel 11:1-26 HERE)

I think stories like this are proof that this book really is the Word of God. If men had made this stuff up "pretending" to speak on God's behalf I'm pretty sure they wouldn't have included a soap opera chapter like this. It's a horrible story.

I have two observations about sin from this passage that stand out to me:

I think it's fair to say that one of sin's greatest companions is opportunity. Where there is "opportunity" sin often lurks around the corner. This is why we (I) must consistently seek to minimize the opportunity for our (my) eyes, ears, or hearts to even move in that direction. I was reminded of the New Testament verse that says this: "But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. -Romans 7:8" Verdict---Minimize opportunity and you'll minimize sin.

Simply stated sin is like an oreo with milk. It's tough to have just one. As David's story demonstrates and as my life has proved (and your life if you're honest)...we will go to great lengths to hide our sin even if it takes more sin to cover up our sin. Seems silly when you say it out loud but it is so true. I wonder how many of us have lied to cover up an addiction? How many have lied to cover up cheating? (on taxes--or a spouse?). Sin is a doorway to a chaos.

Add those two and you get--Words of wisdom for life!!!:
Next time you pass the oreos just keep walking. If you stop to look you just might eat the whole bag. And when your parents or spouse catch you with oreos in your teeth and asked where did all the oreos go? You'll lie and say the dog did it :-)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Monday "Text" (10 commands)

Monday "Text" Exodus 20:1-20 (Read Exodus 20:1-20 HERE)

If you stumbled onto this blog or haven't checked in for awhile here is the deal. We are in a series called "Text" at Ridge Church. As a church we diving into some Scripture passages together asking God to speak to us through his Word. Join us on the journey. You may be surprised at the result when you come to the Scriptures honestly and openly seeking to hear from God.

Honestly...I couldn't get past the first verse of today's text without writing out a thought. Exodus 20:1 says "And God spoke all these words" STOP!

That changes everything.
If that phrase is true, and you'll have to do whatever homework necessary to ease your mind or suspicions on that subject--but I believe that these are the very words of God---but if that phrase is true then we simply must read and see the verses that follow through a different lens. If that is true it changes everything.

My Paraphrase:
"PSSSSST. This is your Creator Speaking...your loving Heavenly Father...the all knowing one...the God with a passion to redeem you...and I have truth that should guide your life. Live within these guardrails and experience life as it can and should be. And don't forget--things look different from my perspective. Here it comes:"

5 or 6 work days?

No more commentary from me today but one question that gave me pause. vs. 9. God said 6 days you shall labor, but pause completely for one day (sabbath). So where did the idea of five work days and two weekend days come from? Not that I'm complaining but thought it was interesting. There is a logical answer but I won't give it to you. Scripture is fascinating though! I love that God chose to talk about super practical stuff like how to work and how to take appropriate breaks.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

"Text" Stage Pics & re-cap

Text Part 2 today!!!
This is definitely one of my favorite series that we've ever done at Ridge Church. It's not only great content but the services have been fun and the take aways have been super helpful. I'd love to say you can't go wrong doing a talk or series about the word of God but unfortunately I've heard some pretty boring talks and some guilt driven talks about the Bible. I've heard some that left me defeated, bored, unimpressed or too uninspired to actually read it for myself. This isn't one of those series! But don't take my word for it. Listen for your self--then show up for part three:

"Text" (part one) Ding--Listen HERE
"Text" (part two) 2G2BT--Listen HERE

Here are a few stage pics from the Day--Josh Via lead worship. Along with being an super musician and worshiper leader, he is an all around great guy. It's an honor to have him on our stage:

Last but not least here are the text's and topics that we will be reading together as a church this week. I told several of you that I'd post the text's on my blog so here they are. I hope you'll join the adventure. Remember your story is found within the context of "His Story"--the Bible:

Monday: Ten Commandments Exodus 20:1-20
Tuesday: David and Bathsheba II Samuel 11:1-26
Wednesday: David and Nathan II Samuel 12:1-22
Thursday: David's Prayer Psalm 51:1-19
Friday: Jesus' Response John 8:1-11

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday "Text"

Friday Text: Proverbs 2:1-6 (Read Proverbs 2:1-6 HERE)

Panning for Gold?
Ever been to one of those tourist deals where you pan for gold or jewels? They line you up and dump a bag of dirt in your area that "supposedly" comes from the nearby mountain. Then the dirt sifting, mud swirling adventure begins. Oh yeah...and we pay for this little opportunity. The last time my family did this we sifted through five or six bags of dirt to uncover a few small tidbits of gold and precious rocks. But you would've thought my kids had hit the mother load and struck it rich. They were so excited and if I told them we were headed back tomorrow they would quickly and gladly dig through the dirt all over again.

Diggin' through Crap?
This is the essence of Proverbs 2:1-6. I believe King Solomon was describing a similar experience or phenomenon that can and does happen with us. I should be careful to say my analogy breaks down here because I don't think he's saying that you dig through a bunch of "crap" to get a few nuggets in God's Word. It's all valuable. Every word--even the parts that don't make sense at first glance and the parts that seem tough to live by--ALL VALUABLE.

Wait for it--Watch for it--Love it!
I do believe our tourist experience panning for gold captures the idea though. When we begin to dig around the Word of God, the things that at first glance appear as confusing stuff or normal stuff "dirt" eventually yield things so precious to us that we (like my kids) will find ourselves excited to go back and dig for more. So wait for it--watch for it--love it!

...look for it as silver and search for it as hidden treasure." -Proverbs 2:4

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thursday "Text"

Thursday Text: Psalm 119:97-104 (Read Psalm 119:97-104 HERE)

My wife and I have laughed often about the question that I like to ask: "what are you thinking about right now?" The reason it's funny is because since we were dating she has often responded "nothing" to which I typically respond "that's do you think of nothing?"As it turns out she is often thinking of something but because it didn't feel important or pertinent she would say she was thinking of "nothing."

Maybe some of you have this challenge but for whatever reason I have a tough time shutting my brain down. I always have 10 layers of thoughts in various stages of development bouncing around in my brain. The thought that hit me as I read the "text" for today is what if?...what if I committed myself to consistently meditate/think all day long on God's word (not just on Sunday:-). Maybe a verse? Maybe a concept? Maybe a principle? But to take God's word and intentionally incorporate it into my thought process each day. To choose to think about it and consider it. That is in essence what it means to meditate on God's Word.

So What Are You Thinking?
It is a discipline to meditate/think about God's word but God's word produces in us "wisdom vs 98"--"insight vs 99"--"understanding vs 100"--"a hate for wrong things vs 104" If we added just those four qualities to our daily lives and they guided us through out each days decisions and relationships--how different would our ultimate outcomes be? I think drastically different!! So what are you thinking about?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wednesday "Text"

Wednesday Text: Psalm 119:33-37 (Read Psalm 119:33-37 HERE)

(Recap) We are in a series at Ridge Church called "Text". For most people reading the Bible is something they categorize as an activity only the "professionals" participate in. So our goal is to get everyone to dive into the Scripture for the themselves during this series. Each day I'm writing a brief personal/devotional thought on the "text" for the day. Start small but start somewhere!

Path of Least Resistance
You've heard the phrase: "Path of least resistance." Some times---most times? the right thing to do isn't the easy thing. There is something in me (and you) that gravitates toward the path of least resistance. Internally we ask: How can the conflict be less? What will minimize the pain? What will reduce the disappointment? Is it really hurting anyone? Will they be upset if I tell them? And it is this type question that often determines the paths we take or the decisions we make.

However sometimes the right thing is to speak up but the easy thing is to be silent and tell ourselves "it's not my business." Sometimes the easy thing is to bend your standards this one time but the right thing to do is to stand firm even if it costs a relationship. Sometimes speaking the truth hurts people's feelings--it's not easy but it's right. Sometimes the easy thing is to make excuses for wrong behavior while the right thing is to own it, say I'm sorry or it was my fault. Sometimes the easy thing is to talk about someone but the right thing is say that same thing to that someone. But we all tend toward "the path of least resistance."

Defined: [The path of least resistance] describes the pathway that provides the least resistance to forward motion by a given object or entity, among a set of alternative paths. The concept is often used to describe why an object or entity takes a given path.

In today's "TEXT" the Psalmist seems to be aware of that same tendency "to take the path of least resistance". Two times (verse 36-37) there is a request to God to "turn my heart...turn my eyes." As if he is saying "God without your help my heart and eyes naturally turn toward the path of least resistance. Help me! I'm asking you to turn my heart and eyes toward you...even when it isn't easy and doesn't make sense." ---I prayed that today!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tuesday "Text"

Tuesday "Text" Psalm 119:9-16 (Read Psalm 119:9-16 HERE)

When I read this "text" the phrase "fan or follower immediately came to mind." I just heard a pastor use that phrase to describe two broad categories of people as they respond to Jesus. Some are fans and admire him from a distance while others have taken more active maybe more radical steps to become a follower. As I read this text the "action" of the writer is what grabbed me. Active pursuit!

I seek...
I have hidden your word...
I recount...
I rejoice...
I meditate...
I delight...
I will not neglect...

The Psalmist was in an active pursuit of God and much of that pursuit was obviously tied to the "word of God". I've seen a pattern in my life. It seems so obvious and so simple that it doesn't need to be stated but I will. When I am "active" in pursuing my relationship with God through his word intimacy grows. Like any other relationship the one with our Heavenly Father takes work.

How about you? Fan or Follower?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Monday "Text"

Monday Text: Psalm 1 (Read Psalm 1 HERE)

(My simple thoughts and insights...)

There is a direct connection between our time spent in the "word of God" and our ability to stand strong in the midst of the storms or challenges of life.
Deep, strong, nourished roots=stability

[in season] This phrase stood out for me in today's Scripture "text." Maybe it stood out because this concept can be an irritant at times. Our time in God's word will yield "fruit in us" but it may not produce or even be visible in the time frames that we like or want! Is it just me or are there times that it seems like God is unaware or uninterested in the importance of events in our lives that need to happen now?

I need a
I need to sell the
I need to make a job

I need the
I need my son or daughter to come
I need the check to show

I need the

Yet however it may appear, God isn't unaware of our needs. Nor is he uninterested. In reality when we read and absorb the word of God it will produce in us the appropriate things at the appropriate times like a tree that "yields fruit in season."

I've noticed in my life that the word of God has the ability to bring balanced perspective in the midst of chaos. Not to mention that living out the principles of this book becomes preventative measure for much of the "self induced" chaos many of us experience on a regular basis.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Dust it off!

Man, I really enjoyed part one of "Text." The talk and everything that went with the day was great. I had a lot of comments from you too telling me how much you enjoyed the day. Certain parts were direct and pretty challenging in a good way. Pretty cool little take aways for moms too!

I had a couple of favorite Andy quotes/thoughts from the day:
  • "We often want to see how something will turn out before we obey. Throughout the Bible the model is obey first and as we obey we will understand 'the why'. On the other side of obedience is clarity."
  • "We are good at asking God to do something on our behalf but what if he wants to say something?"
The consensus: "Dust off your Bible" and dig in!

From Charlotte or wherever you are I'm personally inviting you to join the five day challenge starting Monday. Below are five "texts" to read. I am going to post at least one thought every day from my personal read of these verses. Feel free to comment if you have some thoughts that jump out for you as you read:

Prayer: "Heavenly Father, help me see as you see. Empower me to do as you say"
  1. Monday: Psalm 1
  2. Tuesday: Psalm 119:9-16
  3. Wednesday: Psalm 119:33-37
  4. Thursday: 119:97-104
  5. Friday: Proverbs 2:1-6

Thursday, May 7, 2009

personal text message record

In the last two days I hit my personal text messaging record! Feels like a proud event...if you are 16 years old:-) The official text messaging madness has begun at Ridge Church and you too can join in! We are starting a brand new series this weekend called "text." Our goal was to get everyone involved in getting the message out by sending a text invite to at least ten friends to join you at either 9:30am or 11am service this week at Ridge.

A group of Ridge Volunteers traveled together to Atlanta this week for a conference called Drive. I literally started the "buzz" (pun intended) for our new series in the middle of the last session. I texted every one in our group an invite to the series at the same time and it was like watching dominos fall. Each of them in rhythm all reaching for and digging for phones. Then in unison all of them turning and shaking their heads at me (the fearless and in that moment slightly immature leader). It was pretty funny though...and it worked as you can see in the pictures.

So join the madness. Maybe you will hit your text message record too. You too can have a proud day of records and accomplishment. And for goodness sake--Please get your teenagers involved in this. If they participate it will definitely be our highest attended Sunday ever! Start your texting.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

I'm all messed up

I shared with our church today about an experience I had this past week that ended with me being "all messed up" [for lack of better descriptive words]. I'm not super emotional but this got to me as it does every time. As I sat in my office I watched a DVD with some footage of people telling their stories of how their lives had been changed by Jesus through Ridge. I get so excited about this stuff because it's God sized stuff. I found myself overwhelmed and silently hoping that none of my staff ventured into my office at that moment because I was a mess!

I asked Rusty to condense it and give a few snippets for our service today. Check it out and I'll tell the rest of the story below.


The rest of the story...(brief version)
Part of the story--a truly incredible part--that will never appear in one of our video testimonies is the story of one of the guys in the video's dad. He was almost 60 and in failing health when he started coming to our church. He came multiple weeks in his wheel chair with his oxygen tank in tow. Truthfully, for this church full of young families and college students--"This kid was not like the others!" The short story is that he ended up putting his faith in Jesus at Ridge Church. When I talked with him he relayed to me that when he was around 19 he went away to war and his dad died while he was gone. He blamed God and disengaged from God and church for almost 40 years...UNTIL RIDGE CHURCH! He placed his faith in Jesus and then his health took a turn for the worst. Less than two months later he went home to be with the Lord.

If he could say something to those of you that bleed for ridge, give to ridge, and serve with all that you have I don't know what words he would use but I do think he would tell you that "It matters!" Keep serving and keep giving because eternity hangs in the balance.

Today I challenged people to dig deep for Ridge so we can keep doing the stuff that matters the most! I can't wait to see what comes next! Great to be a part of this church.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Three reasons you MUST be there!

I can think of a bunch of reasons why you MUST be at Ridge this Sunday, but I just picked three:
  1. B/C it will be a fun service start to finish. Fun opening song this week! Super message. Fun closing challenge. (don't be late 9:30am or 11am!)
  2. B/C If you hang around Ridge long enough stuff changes in you! Good stuff!
  3. B/C Something powerful is in the making right now. You can sense it and feel it in a unique way right now. This Sunday just might change your life and I really don't want you to miss out.
Literally every meeting I had this week and every time I turned around I heard YET another story of some one's unchurched or formerly churched friend that has come to Ridge Church in recent weeks and been both overwhelmed and anxious to come back. Some of them have encountered Jesus for the first time and become followers of Jesus. Others are still in the hunt but still can't wait to get back to Ridge each week. That's awesome!

I have heard two powerful stories of major life change from last Sunday's worship service alone. I will give a snapshot just before the message this week of exactly what God is up to and what this place and group of people is all about. I think it will affect each of you the way it affected me as I experienced it personally this week. I can't wait. SO--you must be there!

P.S. For those of you that have an immediate affection or even "addiction" to our new 9:30am service here is a little challenge. The original plan was to run it for 8 weeks until summer and go back to one service. HOWEVER: Last week was our highest adult attendance of the year and the services were almost identical in adult attendance. HERE's your challenge: We really need to see at least 15 more adults in each service in the next 6 weeks to keep that 9:30am service through the summer. So the ball is in your court! If you like it--invite.