Monthly Archives: January 2009

This Weekend At Revolution…Ask Pastor Matt

Revolution will be different this weekend.  We will begin earlier with Coffee & Community at 4:00 and things will kick off at 4:30. 

The format will be different as well.  Instead of a standard sermon, I will be answering questions submitted last week by Revolution members.  I have been some of the tougher ones in advance but some will be given on the fly. 

Should be interesting.

After I finish, I’ll turn things over to Ryan Rolfe and the World’s Most Dangerous Praise Band.  We should be done in time for everyone to catch the Super Bowl!

Also, it is not too late to register for Mission Groups, which will begin in a little over a week.

I hope to see you there.

Grace and peace.

Posted by Matt–Revolution Leadership Team

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When The Dam Breaks…

dam_break

A few years ago while watching late-night TV, I happened to see the tail end of a documentary about the collapse of the St. Francis dam in California back in the 1920’s. To this day, in terms of lives lost, it ranks second only to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake as the worst catastrophe in California history.

The dam burst at three minutes before midnight and the wall of water began its relentless, destructive surge down the canyon valley toward the Pacific Ocean, 54 miles away. There were at least a half dozen towns directly in the path that the water ended up taking. With a torrent of water that began at a height greater than 150 feet, moving at speeds up to 18 miles per hour, and eventually expanding to 2 miles in width – anyone or anything in its path was marked for complete & certain destruction.

When the first official warning of the breech went out at 1:20 am, the water had already traveled nearly 18 miles and was bearing down on the first of the towns. In one of the villages, instead of fleeing, the telephone operators stayed at their posts and began frantically contacting as many people as possible in the surrounding communities. At the same time, a handful of state patrol officers on motorcycles raced ahead to the remaining towns in the water’s path with sirens wailing to warn the people, even stopping to pound on doors to awaken the homeowners. Through the efforts of this small group of telephone operators and police officers, hundreds of additional lives were saved from certain death.

This catastrophe, and the ensuing events, vividly illustrates mankind’s deadly predicament and the crucial role Christians should be playing in trying to save as many as possible. As unexpected & inexorable as a dam break, God’s judgment is coming upon rebellious & sinful humanity. We, as Christians, have heard the warnings of the impending doom and – like the phone operators & patrolmen – it’s up to us to warn as many people as we can so that they might be saved from certain destruction.

Once you realize – truly realize – that this is indeed the direness of the situation, only then can you understand how critical evangelism is. We’ve just spent several weeks in a row at Revolution discussing the “where, when & how” of evangelism, and have made it one of our core principles from the very beginning. We didn’t do this to try to get more people to show up at one of our worship services or because we’re “supposed to”. We’ve done this because we view evangelism as literally a matter of life & death – eternal life & eternal death – and we truly want to “awaken” as many people as possible before “the dam breaks”.

 

Eron Elswick

Worship – Grow – Serve

Don’t Stop At Believing

bent-stop-sign

When I was a senior in high school, a couple of my buddies (also seniors) were driving around one evening with an underclassman friend of ours tagging along in the back seat. They were cruising around talking & listening to music, with the underclassman just excited to be along for the ride. As they were approaching an intersection with an old, half-bent stop sign, the cassette tape (yes, I said “cassette tape” – I’m sure they can still be found in museums) in the car stereo began to act up & make a dreadful noise. As the car rolled to a complete stop, the driver said “Fix that!” (meaning the car’s tape player). At hearing this command, the kid in the back seat (not realizing the driver was referring to the tape player) immediately jumped out of the car and began trying to straighten up – fix – the bent stop sign! The boy obviously came off looking ridiculous that night, but you have to admire his zeal for following the instructions of his “superior”.

As we discussed the “Do” (“evangelism”) portion of our “Mission Training” Sunday night at Revolution, I got to thinking about “The Great Commission” in Matt. 28:18-20. This is where Jesus first instructs his disciples (and, by extension, all disciples throughout history) to “Do” (evangelism & discipleship). He begins his pronouncement by saying,” All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” Notice that the command to “go and make…” follows directly after Jesus declares his authority. In other words, Jesus is saying, “I am all-powerful so you’d better do as I say and start making disciples of all nations”. It wasn’t a recommendation or plea or suggestion. It was: “I am the King, and this is the King’s decree (now get moving)!”

We would all do well to follow Jesus’ command to evangelize with the same kind of immediate obedience to orders that my underclassman friend displayed that night at the stop sign – even if we risk looking ridiculous in the process.

 

Eron Elswick

Worship – Grow – Serve

“International Eron Elswick Day”

Well, okay, I don’t think it’s actually an officially recognized holiday, at least not by any legitimate international organizations (not yet, anyway…). For some reason, the majority of my family & friends simply refer to it as my “birthday” (but I’m sure they’ll start using my preferred designation any year now…).

So what’s my birthday wish for this year? How about hoping that the people of Revolution will:

     Preach good news to the poor

                Teach and proclaim the good news that Jesus is the Christ (the King!).

                Give the hungry something to eat

                Give the thirsty something to drink

                Give clothes to the naked

                Look after the sick & dying

                Look after orphans and widows in their distress

                Love one another as God has loved us

                Live holy and godly lives…making every effort to be found spotless

                blameless and at peace with the Lord

[In other words, I want people of Revolution to party like it’s 30 AD]! Surely, that’s not too much to ask for my birthday…er, I mean, “International Eron Elswick Day”!

Something To Ponder

journal

A.W. Tozer once said, “To check on your true spiritual condition, log all your voluntary thoughts over the course of a day or several days.” Meaning that our mind’s “default mode” – when it’s not distracted by work or other diversions – is to think most often about the thing we love or desire above all else. As we’ve learned at Revolution, whatever we love the most is our “god” or “idol” (no matter what we may declare to the contrary).

Do you want to find out what your true love (“god”) really is? Take Tozer’s advice and jot down the things you think about as you’re lounging around this weekend. It may be a profitable exercise in determining what your “idols” are. [Can pizza be an idol? I’m guessing that’s what I think about more than anything!]

 

Eron Elswick

Worship – Grow – Serve

Worshipping At The Temple

church-tavern

One late evening when I was a fairly small boy, my mom loaded me and my siblings into our not-so-trusty, faux-wood paneled family station wagon and took us to a local dairy bar to get some ice cream. At that point in history, there was a small “drinking establishment” located across the street from the dairy bar parking lot. To this day, I don’t know if my mom was purposely trying to give her children a front row seat to witness the follies of mankind (in a vain attempt to point us in a different direction), or if she merely wanted to enjoy her ice cream without having to drive; but, whatever the case, she backed the car into a parking place, giving us a full-on view of the tavern door. So there we were – stuffed in a car, munching on snacks, and waiting for a “show” – almost like family night at the local drive-in.

For the next half hour – until our desserts were gone – we did indeed have some top-notch entertainment. It must have been a Friday or Saturday night because there was quite a lot of foot traffic in and out of the bar. The striking contrast between those walking in and those walking out is what made the whole thing so amusing. The people walking in were straight-postured and composed, but the people “walking” out were quite a different story. We saw men stumble out and slump over a parking meter or car parked along the street as if they were boxers who had just been KO’d. We saw men fall down, get up, fall down, get up…until they were out of sight. And we saw slouching men staggering down the sidewalk as if their legs were intermittently being pulled in opposite directions by two giant, invisible magnets.

Now – and I’m sure I ought to be ashamed of this – everyone in my car (including my mom) laughed uproariously at the spectacle we were witnessing. Being so young, I had barely even heard of alcohol, much less knew of its effects on people. That being the case, the event was especially hilarious to me because I had no idea why these normal-looking grown men were suddenly (and seemingly inexplicably) acting like clowns & Neanderthals.

What I witnessed that night was a crystal-clear depiction, not only of modern-day idol worship (as we’ve been discussing recently at Revolution), but also the effects of it on the human “worshipers” themselves. Think about it. These normal-looking fellows (“worshipers”) would walk into their “temple” (tavern) with a steady stride, but after a prolonged period of “worship” (drinking) at the “altar” (bar) they would emerge from the “temple” disoriented, insensible and even physically impaired.

Though this is a more obvious illustration than most, all forms of idolatry eventually distort and impair the idol worshiper in various destructive ways. The pleasure worshiper winds up dissolute, debauched and insensitive to the very feelings of pleasure that they once worshiped. The worshiper of comfort & security becomes stingy, fearful and self-concerned. And the list goes on…

 We were made in God’s image to worship God alone. To worship anyone or anything else is to condemn ourselves to slowly becoming as hollow & worthless as the false idols we’re worshipping. We drift from “made in the image of God” and wind up as spiritual “clowns & Neanderthals”. Truly does Paul instruct us, “My dear friends, flee from idolatry!” (1Co 10:14)

 

Eron Elswick

Worship – Grow – Serve

 

Obedience: One Small Step At A Time

sad_woman

Recently, one rainy, Saturday morning, I was downtown after a workout and heading to work for some overtime when I remembered my office keys were at home. This meant I made a right onto Gay St. to head home instead of heading straight on Gallia St. and heading for the bridge to drive over to Ashland. I was in the far right lane when I came to the intersection of 52 East when I saw a person in a big, black coat standing on the left corner with a sign that read “will work for food or money.” I couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman, but I immediately knew what I had to do, my last Subway gift card staring me down on the dash of my car. I told myself they might be dangerous – I’ve had a few close calls with hungry and hurting people in my day job. I was also in the far right lane! None of that mattered, God told me. So I passed the person, switched lanes, and circled the entire block around Tim Horton’s, Long John Silver’s, etc… Finally, I pulled up at the gas station where the person was standing in the rain.     
I said a prayer for my safety, and told God I hoped it wasn’t a man with a gun in that coat. I also wrote the address and time of Revolution on the back of my contact card. Next, I got out of the car and walked over to the corner with my Subway card in hand. The dark figure turned and I saw this young, white woman, soaked and dripping with rain. I said something like, “here’s a $5 gift card to Subway, go get something to eat.” She dropped her sign instantly, and tears began to form in her eyes. I looked at her and said, “God bless you.” I can’t remember if she said thank you, but she quickly turned and started to walk across the intersections to get to the Subway less than two blocks away.
I’ve heard enough people speak on helping the poor to know there is more I could have done. Thoughts began racing in my mind that I could have taken her out to eat myself, talked to her, dropped her off at a shelter, maybe been the one to lead her in a prayer for salvation. I finally decided that all these thoughts I had as I saw her walk away were just the enemy trying to turn my good deed into something that would frustrate me. I did everything Jesus asked me to do and everything I thought of until she was 100 feet away from me. We can’t do everything for anyone and Jesus knows this. He’s happy with us when we do what we can.
One last thing, if you are that young lady I gave the card to and you are reading this right now from a computer somewhere near Portsmouth, you’re still invited. Sunday’s, 7 pm, 8th and Waller. I’d really like to talk to you. You made my day last weekend!

 

Mike Peters
Social Justice Director for Revolution