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Arguments vs. Debates

Here is an excerpt from my sermon manuscript concerning the nature of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 and an observation of the state of the modern American church.  The way we have descended into uncivilized argument rather than spirited debate is symptomatic of what we have become.  We have sacrificed community for individualism.  At least that's what I think :)! 

"The Bible does not specify how long the council met, it says only that there was "much debate (Acts 15:7)."  As unnerving as debate may be to many, it is not unhealthy for the church to engage in debate.  Certainly debate can be unhealthy when its goal is to criticize rather than inform, when it is aimed to divide rather than contend, when it focuses on personalities instead of problems.  In the first century culture, thanks to the Greeks, debate was a way of life and it was borderline entertainment.  It was charged, but it was civil.  The American church, taking cues from pop culture has drunk the poison of individualism.  In doing so we have lost any semblance of civility and along with it the ability to disagree without destruction.   Individuals argue.  Communities debate.  Because the American church has become so individualistic it has become argumentative rather than informative.  Debate airs both sides of the issue and allows the body at large to decide what is right.  Arguments are more about emotion than information and demand that people pick sides.  Arguments decide who is popular.  Debates decide what is right.  The Jerusalem council was a debate, not an argument."
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Clean Sheet

photo by sharon k.a. winiger
The Book of Acts tracks the spread of the gospel from Jerusalem into Judea, Samaria and on to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8).  There is a lot that can get in the way between here and there; language barriers, religious issues, prejudice, persecution, safety, fear.  As each chapter of the story unfolds God works to break down those barriers.  In Acts 2 the language barrier falls.  In Acts 5 God deals with deception.  In Acts 9 God converts Saul, the persecutor to the persecuted.  In Acts 10 the barrier is a personal one.  It is a prejudice in Peter fostered by years of religious distortion.  Here is a man who is called to take the gospel to the ends of the earth but who, at the time, would find it repulsive to eat dinner with a Gentile.  It would be impossible to take the gospel global if the church failed to get it as far as the table.  God gives Peter a vision of a sheet.  Inside the sheet is Peter’s prejudice.  The end result for Peter is a clean sheet; a better understanding of the gospel and a new way of relating to the people who desperately need to hear it.
We all need a clean sheet.  In each of us are barriers that must be overcome if we are to enjoy the full expression of the life giving power of the gospel in our lives and in our relationships.  For some people it is the vice grip of sin, something of which we refuse to repent.  For others it is the bitterness of a failed relationship.  The barrier may be in the home, a strained marriage, a difficult child, a large amount of debt that causes a great deal of tension.  It may be a bad church experience.  Or, like Peter it may be prejudice.  Maybe you are considering a move, adopting a child, a career change, or pursing a calling, yet you are full of fear.  Your mind races with reasons why you can’t, why you shouldn’t, why it would never work.  Whatever it is, the purpose of God is for you to have life in Jesus Christ; but for now there is a hindrance, a barrier that seems to choke the life . . . out of life.  We all need a clean sheet.
On Sunday we will be talking about clean sheets from Acts 10.  For both services (9:30 and 11 a.m.) I am asking the congregation to bring objects that are representative of issues that may be barriers of the gospel in your life.  For some, considering these things may lead to salvation.  For others, this may be a Peter type moment, an ongoing moment of change, an adjustment of life so that the gospel can continue to grow in and through you.  I am also proving a link to a webpage on which you can post a message via text message.  Anonymously share with everyone what needs to be in your clean sheet.  Over the weekend we will be posting your messages to the page and they will serve as a growing testimony of how we are seeking God’s power in giving us a clean sheet. 
To text your response, send your message to 62935 and include the letters “RBC” before your response.  For example, your response should read, “RBC my difficult barrier.”  Your response will not appear immediately, it will be submitted for approval.  Check back over the weekend and read the responses. We will also use the displayed responses in worship on Sunday.   Also, let’s pray for one another that this will be an incredibly freeing weekend in which God grants the people of RBC a clean sheet.     
Instructions for the weekend:
1.      Read Acts 10
2.      If you were Peter, what would go in your sheet?
3.      Text to 62935 rbc+your message
4.      Go to http://www.jarbyco.com/ridgecrest/ to read responses through the weekend (If you use Internet Explorer, you will need to refresh often)
5.      Pray for those responding
6.      Bring something representative of what needs to go into your sheet on Sunday.
7.      We will also have a "text in" Q & A in 11 a.m. worship this Sunday. 
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Playlist for 2nd Service 4/3 at Ridgecrest

You can access the playlist for the 4/3, 11 a.m. worship service on iTunes here.  Don't forget, cell phones ON tomorrow!
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Acts Chapter Notes 1 - 9

In case you missed a section of Acts chapter notes, here is a complete listing of the notes so far, including notes for this coming Sunday on Acts 9.

Acts 1
Acts 2
Acts 3
Acts 4
Acts 5
Acts 6 and 7
Acts 8
Acts 9
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Shahbaz Bhatti Video

this is the video I shared in the sermon on 3/13/2011

Shahbaz Bhatti was an outspoken Christian as a member of Pakistan's elected National Assembly. As Federal Minister for Minorities Bhatti came to the defense of religious minorties and sought to reform Pakistan's Islamic based blasphemy laws and Sharia law. He recorded this video in case he was assasinated for his faith. In the interview Bhatti shares his resolve for the gospel. Shahbaz Bhatti was martyred on March 2, 2011.


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Brad and Michelle Aldridge

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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.

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Norma Sampley Video

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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 sermonaudio.com.
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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.

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


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Notes for Acts 3

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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 sermonaudio.com.



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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.”

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Joe Gunter's Story (Video from Sunday)

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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.

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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
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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
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