Monthly Archives: October 2008

The Prophets: Naked, Screaming, Poop Cooking Preachers

This weekend at Revolution we cover the Prophets and how they point to Jesus, the ultimate prophet. We kick off with Coffee & Community at 6:30 (free coffee and snacks), Pastor Justin will bring things to order at 7:00, then I’ll preach and we’ll wrap up with worship led by Ryan Rolfe. 

We have some exciting things planned for the near future such as “Free Market”, where we give our extra to the needy in the area, a mini-concert by 20 Ton Angel and “Porn Sunday.” 

Revolution Church meets every Sunday at 6:30 at the old PHS Gym on 8th & Waller Street. Hope to see you there.

Grace and peace.

Advertisements

A Duel to the Death

Mark Twain, in his book A Tramp Abroad, wrote about a time in which he was asked to be a “2nd” (assistant) to a French politician who had been challenged to a duel by a fellow politician. It was Twain’s task to confer with the “2nd” of the other dueling politician and arrange the terms of the duel, covering everything from the weapons to be used to the distance between the combatants.

Twain, who assumed the whole point of a duel is to kill the opponent, recommended several different lethal weapons that might be effectively used by the two opponents – suggesting everything from sawed-off shotguns to Gatling machine guns, and even axes. While the two French duelists vigorously declared that they personally would be in favor of using such deadly weaponry, unfortunately the French “dueling code” would not allow their use. After being denied on several such “technical” grounds, finally, in exasperation, he asked if they knew of any weapon that was allowed. At this, they brought forth a pair of guns so small & dainty that Twain remarked that they could fit on his watch chain.

When it came to setting the distance for the duel, Twain – still believing the purpose of a duel is to rid the world of a much-hated opponent – suggested a distance of fifteen paces. This was received as tantamount to a murderous bloodbath, so they instead selected a distance so far apart that the combatants couldn’t even see each other. This required the “2nd’s” to give a loud “whoop” so the opponents would at least know the general direction they needed to aim their guns.

Not surprisingly, in spite of the duelists’ rabid declarations that they truly wanted to slay their hated rival, the tiny “pea shooters” discharged at such a distance failed to harm either of them [The only injury being sustained by Twain when one duelist, thinking himself shot, fell on him, breaking Twain’s arm & rib].

Obviously, the two French politicians never seriously intended to kill (or be killed), contrary to what they may have passionately stated in public. Twain gives the reader a good laugh by pointing out the absurdity of enthusiastically declaring oneself to be bent on death, but then rigging the system to make sure that no one actually gets hurt. He exposes the wide gulf between what people say and what they truly intend.

We Christians do this same thing all the time, to possibly even greater levels of absurdity. The Bible is quite clear that we are to die to self, and that sin is a great enemy that we are to battle to the death [Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry – Col. 3:5]. So we openly declare our desire to deny ourselves, follow Christ and fight sin & evil, but then we rig our lives so that we don’t have to do any of those…at least not really. We may make a good show of it for awhile, but we’ll usually come up with an impressive list of “technicalities” & “excuses” for not denying ourselves and not fighting sin to the point of death. Thus, like Twain’s French politicians, we end up looking ridiculous as we say one thing and do the complete opposite. But, thankfully, God has given us a “2nd” (helper) – the Holy Spirit – who views sin as a much-hated opponent and wants to equip us with the weaponry we need to put it to death. [For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live – Ro 8:13]. May we all follow the Spirit’s guidance in our duel to the death with sin.

 

Post by: Eron Elswick, Leadership Team

King Jesus Sermon Redux

After the period of the Judges (great warriors empowered by God to fight evil and temporarily free His people), the people of Israel rejected God as their king in favor of a king they could see, comprehend and manipulate (1 Sam. 8:1-6).

Now, God warned them that this would be a mistake (1 Sam. 8:7-18), yet He gave them the kind of king they wanted (1 Sam. 9:1-2, 15-17; 10:1) and when he tanked God then graciously granted Israel a king, David, that at least had a heart that burned for God’s glory (1 Sam. 13:13-14). Yet, he was an adulterer and murderer! One wonders what David would have been like without such a heart.  God then gave great earthly wisdom to David’s son Solomon. Yet, he was ultimately a failure as well (1 Kings 1:38-40; 3:1-15; 11).
 
The Kings of Israel in the Old Testament all failed just as all our leaders have failed.  None of our leaders have been perfect.  All have failed us in some way.  Why? Just like the Israelites, we have been wrong to look to anyone but God for leadership.

Yet, despite our sin, God has mercifully granted the universe a great, wise and kind King. 
 
The Bible teaches that Jesus sits at the right hand of God (Acts 7:55-56) where he sits as king (1 Peter 3:22; cf. Eph. 1:20-22) where he receives our worship (Rev. 5:12), where he holds everything together (Heb. 1:3) and
where he stands ready to judge (Matt. 25:31-46).
 
We need to stop viewing Jesus as sweet little dude who wants to give us all a hug! In the world in which the Bible was written, when Caesar (the king of the “civilized world”) died, imperial heralds would go into the city centers and proclaim something like “Caesar Augustus is dead.  However, hear the good news (or gospel) that Titus, the son of God and prince of peace is Lord!”  The message sent by these heralds was not “so, if you want to have a personal relationship with Titus then pray this prayer and write this date down in the back of your bible…NO!!!  The message was “on your knees and declare loyalty to the King!”  This is why Paul uses this language to describe Jesus because everyone will recognize Jesus as king whether voluntarily or not (Phil. 2:9-11; Rev. 19:16).  It is not about having a “personal relationship with Jesus” it is about recognizing that He is the one true king and that we are to be loyal to him!

 

The really cool thing is that we share in that kingship now as part of our King’s Kingdom.  Know that the Kingdom of God is an area or dimension that is directly ruled by God not some far off future event after the “rapture” and “great tribulation.”  I don’t believe in any of those things but we’ll get to that at a later date.

The Kingdom is here and for those of us who belong to it it is important to remember that our King has given us commands to carry out (Matt. 28:18-20 and 25:31-46) and He will reward us for our faithfulness (2 Cor. 5:10).

Let’s get busy.

Revolution Preview–The One True King

This weekend at Revolution I’ll be preaching on how the Old Testament Kings forshadow Christ and then Ryan Rolfe and the World’s Most Dangerous Praise Band will lead us in worship.  Sunday night at the old PHS Gym on 8th & Waller Street.  Coffee and Community at 6:30 p.m. and worship at 7:00.  Hope to see you there.

Grace and peace.

By Matt Rawlings, Revolution Leadership Team.

Kindergarten Condemnation

It’s hard to believe, but one of my most vivid memories from all the years I went to school actually took place the very first week of kindergarten. The teacher – a fairly strict woman for a kindergarten teacher – informed us that, “If you want to talk in class, you must first raise your hand.” Not long after hearing that official edict announced, and truly wanting to follow the rules of the classroom, I raised my hand in the air and began talking to the boy sitting next to me. The teacher sent me directly to the hall, incensed that I would mock her in such a manner.

At that point in my life, I wasn’t trying to be a smart aleck (that came later) – I was merely following the rules exactly as they were given to me. I suppose the fact that I was punished even though I had complied with the rules (as they were enunciated) really etched the incident in my brain. It all seemed so unjust, being punished by the teacher for something tantamount to a “technicality” rather than a true offense.

Unfortunately, I think this is sometimes the view we have of God: That he’s an overly strict school teacher who has laid down a whole host of vaguely worded rules in the hopes that he may be able to catch us in a slip-up or some other sort of “technicality”. Yes, God has laid down some rules [most of which, by the way, lean much more toward “brutally straightforward” than “vague”], but they weren’t given so God could play “Gotcha!” with the human race. They were given to lead us to Christ. The law given in the Old Testament demonstrated (repeatedly) that even straightforward rules given to well-intentioned people (such as I was in kindergarten) are impossible to keep perfectly. The law merely revealed our futility in order that we might grab hold of Jesus, our only hope of rescue.

 

Post by: Eron Elswick, Leadership Team

Ultimate Fighter Jesus

10-19-08

Ultimate Fighter Jesus Sermon Redux

In the Old Testament, we read about a great leader and warrior chosen to replace Moses as the earthly head of Israel and to lead the people of God into battle, to defeat evil and to settle into a perfect home where Israel was to be a kindom of priests commissioned to lead the nations to know the one true God. See Deut. 7:1-2; Joshua 1:1-11. Cf. Deut. 9:4-6 
 
Yet, as great as Joshua was, he ultimately failed to defeat evil and bring the world to worship the one true God (Josh. 9:1-27).  In fact, all of Israel’s great warriors failed (see the Book of Judges) and so have we.
 
We have attempted to use force, politics, economics, religion, psychology, or you name it, to defeat evil and create a perfect home but all of our attempts have failed.
 
Thousands of years later Jesus was born.  Jesus is the English of the Greek Yesus which is taken from the Hebrew Yeshua which can also be rendered…Joshua.
 
Why did God name his son after a great warrior? Is this how you think of Jesus? Probably more like the 80lb weakling from South Park, right?

Well, we all need to rethink Jesus.  We need to rethink his story.  If you remember the story of Israel, it goes something like this: (1) Israel passes through water; (2) is tested in the desert; and (3) is commissioned to go into the Promised Land, defeat evil and bring the world to worship the one true God.  What does Jesus do? He is baptized (or passes through water); is tested in the desert and is commissioned to defeat evil (exorcisms, healings and, of course, the cross).  Jesus lives out the story of Israel.  We may err and think that Israel was plan a and Jesus was plan b, but, in fact, the plan was perfect…it just took God in the flesh to execute it correctly.

We even need to rethink how he looked.  Isa. 53:2 states that the messiah was to be plain looking not blue eyed, rosy cheeked and ready to lead an ’80’s hair metal band as he is depicted in many of the bad paintings you see hanging in churches and old ladies’ living rooms. A few years ago, the BBC did a poor documentary on Jesus but the one thing it did well was have forensic archaeologists dig up skulls from 1st century Palestine and created a composite drawing of a “plain looking” Jewish man from Jesus’ time.  This drawing is closer to what Jesus really looked like than the popular images we see every week.

Moreover, we need to rethink how he died.  Luke 9:51 states that Jesus “set his face toward Jerusalem.” In other words, Jesus headed toward tortue and death on our behalf with head held high and shoulders square.  We like to think of Jesus as compassionate and wise but we also need to remind ourselves that Jesus was brave.

In other words, Jesus was not a 90lb sweet guy who got beat up.  He was, in Mark Driscoll’s words, a rough guy from a hick town who swung a hammer for years, had calloused hands and was probably cut from eating fish and figs and walking for miles all around Palestine. This is a savior that fits the mold of a warrior and not just a model example of how to suffer.

We also need to rethink why he died.  It is true that Jesus died to satisfy God’s wrath against sin (Rom. 3:25) and wash away our guilt (Heb. 9:14) but he also died to defeat the powers of evil.  This is the doctrine known as Christus Victor i.e., Christ victorious over the powers of evil (Heb. 2:14-15; Col. 1:13; 2:13-15).  The Bible clearly describes Jesus as having solely defeated Satan, death and the powers of darkness and affirms that Jesus will return to finish the work he started (Rev. 20) and we need to rethink that return as well.  If you read Rev. 14:10, 17-20 we see that Jesus is the judge and lord even of Hell who will bring a heavy boot down on those who refuse to voluntarily worship him.  

One things, while I’m on judgment, it amazes me that Christians get nervous and even disgusted by speaking of judgment as if they are nicer than God!  God is wise and just.  So, if He judges then it will be right and just and who are we to act as if it is bad thing?  The Israelites sure didn’t see it that way. 

Let’s put it this way, if you had a judge in your hometown that when faced with rapists or child molesters or murderers just patted these slimebags on the head and said, “it’s okay, honey, you just go home” then people would be up in arms and rightly so!  Well, all of us deserve the punishment of hell but out of pure grace Jesus died to pay the penalty for Christians.  We should just be grateful for what God has done and affirm that anything He does, including judgment, is right and just.

 
So, in the end, Jesus is the warrior that Joshua hoped to be and has won the victory we cannot win on our own. 
 
Next week, King Jesus.