Showing posts from January, 2011

Acts 4 (sermon audio: Sunday a.m.)

Recycling, in its modern sense, is the idea of taking our trash and useless items to someone who processes it down and creates something useful again from that same material. But, what if we were talking about your life, your hurts, your pain? Is it possible that our struggles, in the hand of God, could be re-created into something of worth? Acts 4 explores this idea of God taking our circumstances and making them valuable for His glory. Listen to Audio

Norma Sampley Video


Notes for Acts 4

PDF notes for Acts 4 , for 1/30/2011, Ridgecrest Baptist Church. To subscribe to the Ridgecrest sermon podcast and automatically download new sermon audio each week, visit our link through iTunes or our sermonaudio site at .

Lunch With Islam, My Confession

Yesterday I had lunch with Islam.   Accepting the invitation of Ashfaq Taufique, President of the Birmingham Islamic Society, a leader from our church and I spent a few hours of our midday at the Hoover Crescent Islamic Center.   It was a day of firsts.   According to our hosts I was the first Southern Baptist pastor to ever visit the center.   For me it was the first time I had ever eaten anything curry.   It was the first time I had ever been inside an Islamic Mosque.   It was the first time I had ever carried on a meaningful conversation with anyone Muslim.   Eating something curry for the first time gives me yet another possibility of something one can do to mask the natural taste of chicken.   I am fully convinced that God gave us chickens for eggs and so that their meat may serve as carriers for an array of international condiments and flavorings.   Going to the mosque for the first time gives me yet another culture credit that I so desperately need.   I am still determined to

Suddenly/Supernaturally: Reading Acts 2:1-4

It is natural to desire change.  In American culture failed resolutions are epidemic.  Tomorrow will be different.  We awake to a new day, in the same city, with the same people, with the same trees . . . and like birds in migration, we instinctively walk the same paths.  Wanting to change is natural.  Yet living the pattern is instinctive.  This is what makes truly living the sequel most difficult.  In film, sequels often present the same characters set in the same scenes as they were in previous episodes.  Most of the time our surroundings are inescapable.  Yet to truly live the sequel, if the next chapters of our lives are to become their own epic story, something must change.  If changing our environment is not possible, the locus of change must be us.  Yet how can we ever truly become anything other than who we are?  It seems unlikely and unnatural.  If change is so unnatural, then for us to begin a new sequence of life that becomes its own epic story we need something to sud

Kiley's First Race

Bible Conference with Dr. Ken Keathley

As a freshman at Tennessee Temple University in 1991 (my education career is becoming an era!) it did not take me long to realize that although I had been in church since infancy, there was a lot about the Bible I did not know.   Almost daily, in various Bible and theology classes I would ask myself, “Why didn’t I know this?”   There are a handful of reasons that account for the cause.   1)   I didn’t listen.   2)   I didn’t study.   3)   I was never told.   As a pastor, I resolved that with some people #1 just can’t be fixed.   Listening is a matter of choice.   But # 2 and #3, I could do something about.   For those God entrusts me to pastor I will challenge them to study and I will try my best to offer them the greatest opportunities possible for them to hear, from the Bible, what they need to be told.   This weekend at Ridgecrest we are offering you an opportunity to study and to learn from a gifted theologian.   Dr. Ken Keathley from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary will

Clarifying Our Investigation of Islam

I had a subtle feeling that our current series “Investigating Islam” may receive a notable amount of curious attention.   I was right.   Thus I want to share a short post to clarify my intent, content, and direction for the series as well as answer a barrage of questions I have received in a few short hours this morning. The series is designed to be an eight week general overview of Islamic doctrine with responses from the Biblical text.   As the pastor of a Christian church, I am not interested in my congregation becoming experts on Islam as much as I am interested in helping them to answer questions that may be posed to them from the Islamic community.   The people of our church go to work and school with members of the Islamic community.    Peter tells us in I Peter 3:14 – 16 that the church should live a compelling life that invites questions.   Those questions should be answered with a very measured demeanor, “gentleness and respect.”   Being prepared and educated fosters confiden

Acts 3 (sermon audio: Sunday a.m.)

The overriding theme of Acts 3 is the power of the gospel to save. Salvation can only be found in the simple truth of the life of Christ and his sacrifice for us. The gospel is the story of his death, burial, and resurrection accomplished to provide the forgiveness of sin that we all require. Therefore, the success of our witness of this gospel is not in our own power to persuade, but rather in our faithfulness to proclaim what God has already said and done through Jesus our Savior. Listen to Audio

David and Siranda West Video (1/16/2011)


Notes for Acts 3

PDF of Acts 3 notes from 1/16/2011, Ridgecrest Baptist Church . To subscribe to the Ridgecrest sermon podcast and automatically download new sermon audio each week, visit our link through iTunes or our sermonaudio site at .

And Matthias: Reading Acts 1:15-26

Judas had betrayed Jesus and committed suicide.   It was the will of God for someone else to become number 12.   The criteria were simple.   The next number 12 had to have been with Jesus from the beginning of His ministry until the ascension.   The Bible says there were two candidates.   Candidate one is Joseph.   Some call him Barsabbas.   Others call him Justus.   He is a man with three names (Acts 1:23).   Of the other candidate, the text simply says, “and Matthias.”   They pray and cast lots.   Matthias is chosen and the Bible says nothing else about him.   It would be easy to conjecture from the brevity of his mention that Matthias was unimportant, insignificant, but that may not be an honest interpretation.   We must remember the first reader of the Jesus sequel is Theophilus.   A more honest interpretation of “and Matthias” would be that for Theophilus, all he needed was a name.   Because of their relationship, Theophilus could fill in the rest.   Whether good or bad, there

Acts 2 (sermon audio: Sunday a.m.)

The coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost changed the lives of believers forever. However, that one day event was not the ultimate testimony of the work that had taken place in them. The true evidence was the work that continued in them after Pentecost. Daily they were devoted to the Word, to the church and its people, to generosity and meeting needs. The power of the Holy Spirit changed lives and thus the will of God was accomplished “day by day.” Listen to Audio

History of Islam (notes)

Here is the quick copy of the notes I used for teaching on 1/12/2011, "The History of Islam." _________________ Short History of Islam Muslim means “one who seeks wholeness, or one who submits to God.” Islam is an infinitive form of the same term and means “to seek wholeness.” The Life of Mohammad 1)  In the sixth century AD, north of the Arabian Peninsula two great powers were locked in a seesaw power struggle. The Christian Byzantine kingdom, successors of the Roman Empire controlled the Mediterranean Sea, North Africa and the lands of Palestine. To the northeast lay the Zoroastrian Persian kingdom. Both the Byzantine and Persian kingdoms had client Arab tribes allied to their cause of trade and conquest.   The Arabian Peninsula became a land of refuge for those seeking escape from both of these empires. Heretic Christian sects like the Nestorians, and Jewish tribes escaping the oppressive Byzantines found refuge in the protective deserts and cities of the Peninsula.

Joe Gunter's Story (Video from Sunday)

Broken Witnesses: Reading Acts 1:15-20

Luke takes roll of the followers of Jesus.  At this point in the story, there are not many of them.  Now that Jesus is gone, they are left to wait.  Luke mentions eleven of the men (1:13).  They are mostly fishermen, one of them is a tax collector, several of them are brothers.  None of them are notable.  All of them left Jesus during his trials.  Only one of them is mentioned while Jesus is dying (John 19:26).  The only other men who are mentioned here are the brothers of Jesus.  They are there with their mother (1:14).  It is no secret that during Jesus' life his brothers did not believe in him (John 7:5).  There were also women.  The women who followed Jesus were questionable at worst and marginal at best.  Mary Magdalene had seven demons, Joanna worked for Herod (Luke 8:1-3).  Some of them were notable sinners (Luke 7:39).  Whatever they were they have now made a bold choice.  They were broken, but now they would be witnesses.  They chose to live the sequel . While they wait

It's Not Over: Reading Acts 1:6-11

It was a fair question, "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?"  They discerned from Jesus' promise that soon the Holy Spirit would come (1:5), that this may be the end.  It was not a bad end, in the sense that most of us think of "the end."  Most of us associate "the end" with "the apocalypse" and "the apocalypse" as a very scary way to end.  For them the end was not frightening, but victorious, the restoration of the kingdom to Israel.  They looked forward to the end. The coming of the Holy Spirit signaled to them the final season of salvation, but even though it may be the last one, Jesus shared with them that it would be a long one.  Their lives were far from over.  Jesus gave them a new focus, a mission.  He gave them something to do that would not only take them to the chronological end of time, but would take them to the geographic ends of the planet.  They were to live life to the fullest.   They were

Acts 1 (sermon audio: Sunday a.m.)

For decades Paul Harvey kept his audiences glued to their radios for the conclusion to his popular stories by requesting they “stay tuned for the rest of the story.” The book of Acts is just that, it’s the rest of the story, the sequel and continuation of the work of Jesus and his followers after the Gospel of Luke. The church becomes organized as it experiences the power of the Holy Spirit and prepares to carry on the work and message of the gospel as begun by Jesus Christ. Listen to Audio

Sledding Into the Mailbox (Almost)

Notice the frantic leg kicking when I realized I was headed for the brick mailbox!

The Sequel: Reading Acts 1:1-5

Our lives are written in chapters.  Sometimes it takes years to recognize when one ended and the next one began.  At other times those chapters are more definitive; a graduation, a baby, a job change, marriage, or loss.  The message is clear, it is time to move on.  Most of the time new chapters merely represent a change in scenery.  We have learned our lessons, gained some wisdom, taken on new responsibilities, but a new chapter is simply another story of a slightly differing version of us - maybe older, wiser, or jaded, the scenery is somewhat different but at the core of who we are, new chapters represent little change.  Sometimes we need to quit writing chapters.  We need a chance to create the sequel. In literature and film, sequels may present the same set of characters in the same environment, but there is a sense of newness to the journey.  Yes, there are connections to the previous plot lines, but a sequel, in many respects, can stand alone as its own epic story.  The Book

Acts 2 Notes

Supplemental notes for Acts 2.  This copy contains a few points under "Acts 2:33 - The Expectation that Jesus Would Be the One To “Pour Out” the Holy Spirit", point # 6, that were omitted in the hardcopy provided in today's services. Chapter 2 notes

Acts 1 Notes

Each week of the Church 1.0 series I will provide supplemental notes that I hope will help you in your personal study of the Book of Acts.  A hard copy of the notes can be found each week near the entryways of the auditorium.  I will also provide a copy here on the blog just in case you missed picking them up.  Chapter 1 notes