Monthly Archives: September 2008

The Gospel According to “Wipeout”

Every so often something comes along that causes you stop everything you’re doing and burst out in spontaneous praise to God. For me, one such recent event was the night I came across the ABC show “Wipeout”.  I mean, all it took was seeing someone bounce off the “Big Balls” and go hurtling through the air like a drunken leprechaun shot from a cannon and I was hooked. For the remainder of the summer, Tuesdays at 8:00 pm (7:00 central) became an almost sacred time around my house as all work ceased and parents & children alike sat down to watch the parade of spectacular falls and countless contusions. Trust me, there’s nothing more conducive to family bonding than watching someone get their sinus cavity filled with mud.

While “Wipeout” is undoubtedly mere mindless entertainment on one level, I do think it vividly illustrates one of the primary recurring themes in the Bible – the idea that no one gets through life unscathed. “Wipeout” takes the contestants past the “Sucker Punch” (or, sometimes, “Butt Kicker”) where they typically take several blows to the face & body before nose-diving into a mud pit. Then there’s the “Big Balls” which usually sends them “cartwheeling” in mid-air before tumbling into murky water. A dozen survivors then get to face the “Sweeper” where they stand on platforms twenty feet high and try to jump over a large metal arm that “sweeps” around higher & faster each time. A sizeable number of them get their legs knocked out from under them and end up doing a “face plant” on the top of the (lightly padded) concrete platform.

Then it’s usually on to something called the “Dizzy Dummy” (which is like a “Spinning Teacups” ride on steroids) where they’re spun around at a high rate of speed for two minutes (or more) and then let loose to race over some obstacles. At last, the final four contestants get to compete on an obstacle course where they are plunged into ice cold water, mowed over by rolling barrels and whipped around at high velocity on the “Spinner”. The person who completes the course in the fastest time is the “winner”.

Think about it, the “winner” has most likely been punched in the face (or kicked in the butt), flipped head-over-heels on the “Big Balls”, done a swan dive off the “Sweeper”, been spun to the point of projectile vomiting by the “Dizzy Dummy”, and then deluged with cold water on their way to being bombarded with rolling barrels and re-spun on the “Spinner”.

That’s exactly the way the Bible portrays the plight of mankind. Even the “Son of Man” himself – the only winner in the history of the human race – wasn’t spared the brutality of life on earth. That’s why it’s so important for believers to be engaged with a church community rather than act as “Lone Ranger Christians”. When struggles & hardships come – and they most assuredly will – it’s the community of fellow believers who can provide the support and encouragement to get through the difficult times. While none of us may get through life unscathed, as Christians, we enjoy the blessing of having both encouragement from fellow believers and the hope that comes from following Jesus.

Post by: Eron Elswick, Leadership Team

We Experienced Technical Difficulties

No podcast this week.  Something happened to the digital recorder but will try to summarize with a different podcast later.  Stay tuned this week for reminders and announcements!

Grace and peace.

Matt, Revolution Leadership Team.

Image and Fall Sermon Redux

Why Do People Suck? and What is God Doing About It?

It is important to remember that God did not need to make us (Acts 17:24-25 cf. Job 41:11; Ps. 50:10-12).  He has perfect love and fellowship among members of the Trinity for all eternity (John 17:5, 24).

”God created us for His own glory” (Isa. 43:7; cf. Eph. 1:11-12).  Therefore, we are to do all for God’s glory.  (1 Cor. 10:31).   This is our purpose.  This is the meaning of life.

That may sound boring to some because they confuse glorifying God with church, which may bore you to death.  Yet, Jesus states that he came that we might have life and have it abundantly.  (John 10:10). If we align our lives with our created purpose then we discover true happiness (Ps. 16:11; 84:1-2, 10).  This doesn’t mean sitting in a pew, singing old hymns or K-love pop songs and listening to someone go on and on about how you should “stop doing this or stop doing that”, or worse, preach topical sermons that are essentially “How To Succeed In Life Without Really Trying!”  This means being on mission and following Jesus to the storm the very gates of Hell if necessary.

Some of our Emergent church brothers object that life all being about glorifying God  makes God selfish but really this is a selfish objection because WE want to be worshipped, honored and glorified. 

The cool thing is this is a two way street.  We glorify God and find happiness there and, in turn, God rejoices in us. (Isa. 62:5; Zeph. 3:17-18).  This led John Piper to make his classic statement that “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” See his book Desiring God…in fact see all of his books!

By grace, we are all made in the image and likeness of God which means that we are like God and represent God (See how Adam speaks of his son Seth in Gen. 5:3).

But what does this mean? Theologians have identified the following possibilities: (1) moral aspects (i.e., accountability, an inner sense of right and wrong, etc.); (2) Spiritual aspects; (3) mental aspects; and (4) relational aspects.  We derive our true dignity and worth from this fact not from our bodies or bank accounts but from how we were created.

Sin entered the world and distorted the image but did not destroy it (see Gen. 9:6 or James 3:9 and note that these are post-fall assertions).

It is important to remember that sin is not just “breaking rules” but a direct offense against God Himself (note King David’s words to the prophet Nathan (2 Sam. 12:13)).  Thus, because God is the greatest good (i.e., pure, good, right, just, etc.) and sin is an offense against this good God then any sin is the greatest evil imaginable and justice demands the most severe punishment imaginable, which is death.

The bad news is that all of us have both an inherited guilt and an inherited sinful nature from Adam and Eve (Rom. 1:18-3:23; 5:12-21).  All of us have sinned (Rom. 3:11-18) and all sin demands death as punishment (Rom. 6:23).  Thus, all of us stands condemned before God

What are we to do? By ourselves we can do nothing. Because of the sinful nature we inherited, we do not have the power to earn God’s favor and save ourselves.

But the good news is that Jesus, our God, priest, prophet, judge and King, lived the life we could not live and died the death we deserved to die.  When we place our faith in Jesus, He grant us His very own standing before God (2 Cor. 5:21). And when we place our faith in Jesus, He in turn grants us a progressive restoration of the original image (2 Cor. 3:18) and will completely restore God image upon His return (1 John 3:2).   This is truly good news…this is the Gospel.

Image and Fall

Tonight at Revolution we cover the creation and fall of humankind.  We kick off at 7:00 p.m. with music by Ryan Rolfe and the World’s Most Dangerous Praise Band and then we tackle Genesis 2-11.  Bring your Bible to the old PHS gym on 8th and Waller. 

Grace and Peace.

Matt, member of the Revolution Leadership Team.

Biblical Culture v. Christian Culture

Revolution has taken a lot of criticism for my (Matt) comment that we don’t care if a member drinks (in moderation), smokes (legal substances) or watches R-rated movies.  So, on my personal blog (, I’ve laid out my reasons for that statement.  Feel free to take a look and shoot me a comment or email.  We may simply agree to disagree but hopefully you will see that where I’m coming from if nothing else.

Grace and peace.

Serve God, Save the Planet.

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Giving: One Chili-Cheese Burrito At A Time

Since I used last week’s blog post to talk about Revolution’s attendance trends, I thought it would be fitting to spend this week detailing our financial trends. The “good news” is that the numbers we’re dealing with are so small that we haven’t had to purchase expensive computer software (or even a calculator, for that matter) to keep track of our income. Obviously, that also happens to be the bad news.

For the first four weeks of Revolution, the average amount each person (not including children) has contributed is $1.27 per week [no, that’s not a misprint or misplaced decimal point]. Actually, that’s a fairly impressive amount compared to this past weekend’s average contribution of $0.51 per person.

Obviously, setting up shop in one of the poorest areas of the state in the midst of a recession and devoting most of your energies to reaching out to college students who have large student loans and no jobs isn’t the greatest way to establish a financially prosperous church. However, we didn’t put Revolution where we did because we think it has favorable financial prospects. We put it where we did because we believe it has favorable Kingdom of God prospects – where the good news about Jesus most desperately needs heard. After all, when Jesus came to earth, he didn’t select prosperous, triumphant Rome as his headquarters; he chose impoverished, beaten-down Galilee. From the beginning, we wanted Revolution to be centered in the place where the spiritual conditions are the gloomiest, not where the financial conditions are the brightest.

Now, having said that, we certainly wouldn’t turn down a Brinks truck full of cash – in fact, we would put it to good use helping the neediest in our community and proclaiming the message of Jesus. However, for now, I’d just be satisfied if the people who call Revolution “home” would buy one less chili-cheese burrito the next time they drive through Taco Bell and use the extra change to help us double our weekly income!


Post By: Eron Elswick, Leadership Team

Creation Sermon Redux Part Two

I was listening to a Christian radio station today (something I don’t really enjoy…honestly, at times its like an SNL skit!) and the announcer read the results of a recent poll in which the majority of believers expressed skepticism in regards to climate change and resisted the push to “go green.”

In my opinion, this is a problem and not for some tree hugging, hippy, worship mother earth reason.  When God remade the earth for humans He called it “very good” (Gen. 1:31) and charged humankind with caring for it (Gen. 1:26).  Some translations read “rule over it” or “dominate it” but the Hebrew word is the same word used to describe tending to a flock and guarding a house against intruders and even the way in which God cares for Israel.  Thus, we have been commanded to gently care for the earth.

Moreover, Jesus, our king, commanded Christians to love one another.  So, We have been given the commission to care for God’s creation and love everyone but filling up landfills with stuff that fill the groundwater with toxins that may cause cancer is neither. 

Dr. Matthew Sleeth in his book “Serve God, Save the Planet” notes that we currently find more than 700 man made toxins in human tissue.  Cancer rates have risen greatly.  For example, it used to be that 1/19 women in their 30’s would contract breast cancer now that rate is 1/6.  Coincidence?

We need to stop wishing to be raptured out of this trailer park and follow our God’s command to care for our home and our neighbors.  Now you may object, “but heaven is our home.”  Actually, Revelation 21-22 makes it clear that heaven is only a temporary home for those who die before Christ’s return.  In the end, God comes to earth and we live here.  It is true that God will perfect creation, which, along with us, groans for redemption but we will live here not in the clouds with wings and halos!

Regardless, once again, our God has commanded us to care for His creation and love everyone.  We need to recycle, use a water bottle (buy one from Blood: water mission and support their ministry!), compost if you can, carpool, unplug appliances when they are not in use, etc.  Our actions are possibly hurting people and the earth God made and pronounced good. 

Revolution is all about following our King even to the gates of Hell, so a weekly trip to the recycle bin is not such a big deal!

Creation Sermon Redux Part One

A reading of Genesis 1 begs the question, “how old is the earth”?  The geological record seems to indicate that our world is billions of years old yet many contend that the Bible teaches that the planet is only 6000 to 10000 years old.  Those who adhere to this view hold a very literal reading of Genesis 1 and are known as “young earthers.”  They argue that the Bible speaks of dinosaurs (i.e., “the Leviathan”) and that our system of dating the earth is radically flawed.  Maybe they are right.

There are Christians, however, who hold to a position known as “old earth creationism.”  Such a view encompasses arguments as diverse as “the six days represent many ages” and “the Bible does not contain a complete list of genealogies” or that Genesis 1 is simply poetry and not intended to be taken literally.  Maybe they are right.

Some “old earth creationists” argue for the “Gap Theory.”  Those who hold to such a view believe that Genesis 1:1 is a complete thought and that there is a time gap between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2.  In other words, they argue that God made the universe and then, some time much later, He re-made the earth in six days to make it inhabitable for human life. 

Some, like Dr. John Sailhamer, argue that the six days focuses wholly on Israel, the promised land, where he believes the Garden of Eden was once located.  This may not seem to cohere with your English translations but that is because the translations proceed from the belief that there is a seemless flow between Genesis 1:1 and the rest of the chapter. For example, on the fourth day, most translations read that God made the sun and the moon but the Hebrew phrase could just as easily be translated as “ordered” rather than made.  In other words, God remade the atmosphere and caused the light to shine on an area once covered by sea water (which coheres with the geological record).  Sailhamer also notes that this solves the problem that there was already light before God “made” the sun. 

I hold this view.  I believe that God made the universe and that it included dinosaurs but then, perhaps after a great catastrophe billions of years later, God remade the earth, specifically the Promised Land, to accommodate human life, which is only 10,000 to 30,000 years old.

You may disagree with me and this is the great thing about Revolution, in my opinion anyway, that we don’t care if you disagree.  Issues like these are fun to debate but must never divide us.  You may hold to a young earth position and feel like I need to take a trip to the Creation Museum to get my stuff together! You may be right.  You may hold the position that Walter Brueggemann holds and is taught by Rob Bell, which is that Genesis 1 is simply poetry affirming God as creator and the goodness of His creation.  So be it. Or you may be smart enough to agree with me! Just kidding.  Sort of. 

More about Creation tomorrow.  Until then, God bless!

By Matt Rawlings, Revolution Leadership Team.

John Sailhamer’s Translation of Genesis 1:1-2:4

Professor John Sailhamer provided the following interpretative translation of Genesis 1:1-2:4 in his book “Genesis Unbound.”  It is pertinent to the first part of the sermon on creation “Serve God, Save the Planet.”  Want to know why? Stop by Revolution Sunday night at 7:00 p.m. at the old PHS gym to find out.

1:1 Long ago God created the world.  He created the sun, the moon, and the stars, as well as all the creatures which inhabit the earth.  He created all of them out of nothing–not in a single instant of time, but over a vast period of time.

1:2 God’s world, however, was not complete.  He had not yet created human beings and the land where He intended to put them was not yet suitable for them.  It was covered by a deep ocean and the sun could not penetrate the dense fog which covered the waters.  God’s Spirit, however, was already present over the waters covering the land. 3 One day God set out to prepare the land for human beings.  First, while the darkness of night still hung over the vast surface of the waters, God spoke, calling on the sun to rise and break through the darkness. 4 God saw that, now, the land was on its way to becoming a very good place for the man and woman to dwell. 5 God named the sunlight “day,” and the darkness He named “night.” When the sun broke through the darkness that morning, it showed that a special work of God had begun.

6 On the second day of that week, God again spoke.  This time He commanded the fog to lift up from upon the waters to form clouds over the land.  7 In that way God filled the sky over the land with clouds. 8 He also named the area where the clouds floated overhead, the “skies.”

9 On the third day of that week, God spoke again, commanding the waters upon the land to gather  into lakes, rivers and streams so that there would be dry land for human beings and water for the beautiful garden He was preparing for them. 10 When they had obeyed His command, He named the dry areas the “land” and the lakes, rivers and streams where the waters had gathered He named the “seas.”  God saw that the dry land was now good for human beings.  11 On that same day, God spoke a second time, commanding the land to sprout fruit trees.  12 The land obeyed and was immediately covered with trees bearing all sorts of fruit.  This too God saw was good for human beings.  13 That was the end of the third day.

14 As He had done on each of the preceding days, God spoke on the fourth day to issue a decree that the heavenly bodies were to serve a particular purpose for those who were to dwell on the land. They were to remind God’s creatures of His power and grace, and they were to mark the arrival of the great feast days when His people were to worship Him in the land. 15 Such special purposes for the heavenly bodies were in addition to their natural function as sources of light upon the land. 16 So we see that God had a purpose in mind when long ago He created the sun and the moon, as well as the stars.  They were to provide a time frame for those who dwell on the land. 17 God also put them in the sky to provide bright light in the daytime 18 and faint light in the night–this was good for human beings. 19 So ended the fourth day.

20 On the fifth day, God spoke again.  He commanded the fish and water creatures to fill the lakes, rivers and streams in the land and the birds to fill the skies over the land.  21 On that same day God created sea creatures and birds of all sizes to dwell in the land.  22 Moreover, God blessed them so that they might abundantly increase throughout the land and skies. 23 That was the end of the events of the fifth day.

24 Once more God spoke.  This time on the beginning of the sixth day, He commanded the land to bring forth various kinds of animal life; small creatures, domesticated creatures, and wild animals. 25 So it was God who made those creatures for the land.  These, He saw, would be good for man.

26 On that same day, God spoke again.  He said, “Let us make human beings. Let us make them persons like ourselves.  And let them rule over all the other creatures in the land, those in the skies, the seas, and the dry land.” 27 So God created human beings.  He made them persons–male and female. 28 Then He spoke once again.  This time He blessed the human beings with the promise of having children and families in the land He had just prepared for them.  29, Then, for the tenth and last time, God spoke again. “See all the fruit trees I have made in this land,” He said.  “I put them there for your nourishment. 30 Also, the animals may eat the other vegetation which will grow in the land. 31 Finally, God saw that all He had made in the land was very good for the man and the woman.

2:1 The world which God had made was now complete. 2 So, on the seventh day, God ceased working. 3 He blessed and sanctified the seventh day as the time to cease from one’s work and worship God. 4 That is the story of the creation of the world.