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We continue to sail through the Gospel of John. This week we polish off chapter 2 with a sermon entitled, “Jesus Opens a Can.”
As always, Coffee & Community commences at 6:30, Pastor Justin will brings things to order around 7:00, I’ll yell for a while and then Ryan Rolfe will lead the World’s Most Dangerous Praise Band.
We continue to collect goods for the area food pantries, so bring anything extra you may have.
Revolution meets every Sunday night at the old PHS Gym on 8th & Waller Street in Portsmouth. Come as you are.
Revolution Chuch: Worship-Grow-Serve.
Posted by Matt, Revolution Leadership Team.
I’m speaking to the Shawnee State University chapter of Campus Crusade for Christ tonight. I’ll be speaking about the history, state and future of the “Emerging and Emergent Church.” We will meet in Room 020 in the basement of Massie Hall. I’m told that things kick off around 8pm. Everyone is welcome.
Posted by Matt, Revolution Leadership Team
Revolution Church: Worship-Grow-Serve.
The water in the baptistry may have been the color of the muddy Ohio River and colder than Alaska in January, but three brave souls took the plunge last Sunday evening. See the “action” photos below:
Photo #1: Allison Price (the expression on her face says all you need to know about the frigid temperature of the water).
Photo #2: Audrey Binns makes a quick exit from the arctic water!
Photo#3: Cody Warren comes out half-frozen while Matt signals that it was a “Touchdown for Jesus”!
I know that this may come as a shock to some of the people who know him, but when my middle brother was a little boy he was somewhat wild and unruly. Today he would be labeled as ADHD and medicated into a near-comatose stupor; but, fortunately for him, he grew up in a day when such kids were generally left alone and simply labeled as “high energy” (and their parents were simply labeled as “poor slobs”).
While I wasn’t around to experience his “reign of terror”, I’ve enjoyed hearing some of the stories over the years. About a year ago, after a Sunday dinner at our parents, he made mention of the fact that when he was in kindergarten he spent the majority of the school year locked in a coat closet with his mouth taped shut. My mom, who was appalled by this revelation, said, “I had no idea that was going on! How come you didn’t tell me?” My brother just shrugged his shoulders and said, “Heck, I had never been to school before. I just thought it was a normal part of kindergarten.”
I think my brother’s kindergarten experience is representative of what happens when a church preaches religion instead of the gospel. The people in the congregation receive the message (either implicitly or overtly) that Christianity is primarily about being morally upright, attending church and grudgingly following Jesus (or “God will get you!”). They end up believing that’s the gospel – “normal” Christianity – when, in fact, they’re actually [like my brother in kindergarten] locked up in the dark closet of legalism and behavior-based religion. Yes, sin & moral failings are evil and enslaving, but legalism can bind us just as quickly and surely as sin can. The gospel, on the other hand, sets us free from both masters: sin and legalism (which is the religion of self-salvation).
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Gal.5:1)
Let us step out of the dark closet of slavery to either sin or legalism and into the liberating light of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Worship – Grow – Serve
As I was looking through my grocery store sale flyer earlier today [yes, I’m a swingin’, party dude!], it occurred to me that I apparently shop at a religious grocery store. By “religious grocery store”, I don’t mean that the canned yams have been anointed with oil or that the cabbages have been blessed by the pope. Rather, I mean there’s a religion (of sorts) that has to be followed – down to the tiniest detail – in order to have even a remote chance of buying an item at its advertised sale price.
For example, instead of giving the straight up cost of a single item, they’ll usually give the price in some kind of “easy to calculate” multiple such as: 7 items for $22.99! Then, in slightly smaller print, they’ll inform you that purchases of less than 7 items or greater than 7 items will be charged $6 per item (so you’d better not miscount by even one item or you’ll pay double).
However, before the 7 items for $22.99 “sale” is even valid, you must buy 10 other qualifying products. As can be expected, if you accidentally buy only 9 “qualifying products” then you’ll be stuck for full price on the 7 for $22.99 bargain. Sometimes they’ll even limit the “deal” to a limited number of days during the week (Tuesday-Thursday, for instance). I’m just waiting to see them advertise a sale occurring “Only on even numbered Tuesdays, in months containing 30 days, between the summer solstice and autumnal equinox”.
As if all that weren’t enough, they’ll also add, in the tiniest of print, that “the advertised sale is subject to availability, may not be valid in every store, and that other terms & conditions may apply”.
So, in order to take advantage of this “great bargain”, you have to be able to calculate a deliberately uneven quantity-to-price ratio. Then you have to make sure that you get the exact advertised number of items. You also have to see & understand that the whole discount price is predicated on you purchasing 10 other qualifying items (and coming up even one item shorts nullifies the whole deal). Of course, you also have to make sure that these transactions take place on the properly designated day. But, even if you somehow manage to clear all those hurdles, the grocery chain can’t guarantee that everyone will be able to take advantage of the sale price due to limited availability or other unforeseen circumstances. In other words, the system is rigged to maximize failure and minimize (or even eliminate) reward.
That is exactly how religion operates! There are always rules, with more-&-more rules buried underneath. If you slip up on any rule, then the entire “deal” is off. Even if you somehow manage to follow the rules, the promised rewards are predicated on you doing something else first, and doing it flawlessly. Of course, all this must be done in certain ways, at certain times and in certain places – praying a specific number of times each day, giving away a set amount of money, worshipping in a particular building – or, once again, the offer of reward becomes “null & void”. And even if you do (unbelievably) manage to clear all these “religious hurdles”, there are still other “terms & conditions” that may apply which could deny you of your eternal reward down the road.
Christianity stands – or should stand – in stark contrast to religion. Tragically, Christianity, all-too-often, has been practiced like it’s a religion, but it’s actually quite the opposite. Religion sets up rules & systems – full of traps, pitfalls & loopholes – and tells its followers that they must work & struggle to make it through all the “terms & conditions” so that they can (hopefully) earn the reward that the religion promises (“though some exclusions may apply”). Christianity, on the other hand, says that we don’t earn our reward by meticulously following obscure rules (or anything else). Jesus Christ has already perfectly fulfilled all the “terms & conditions”, disabling the traps & pitfalls, so that there’s no longer any loopholes or technicalities to keep us from receiving our eternal reward. Christians don’t follow rules as a means to reward. We follow Jesus – who is our reward – the one who saved us from religion (and other dead end paths).
Worship – Grow – Serve
Revolution Mission Group Leaders, here are the suggested questions to get you going this week. Remember that our mission is to: (1) grow closer to God and one another; (2) to focus us on the mission given to us by King Jesus in texts such as Matthew 28:16-20; and (3) to seek justice in our community as a group. Blessings to you all.
(1) The changing of water to wine pointed to the future messianic age, how does this vision compare with the popular portrayal of “heaven”? Do you think the difference may impact a non-Christian’s view of the faith?
(2) How do you, your witness to Jesus, give people a taste of the new creation to come? If you haven’t, then how can you?
(3) Legalism is defining yourself by what you do or what you don’t do instead of what Jesus has done for you. It is also taking something that is not clearly prohibited by Scripture and making it a defining characteristic of a Christian. What legalisms do you struggle with? Why?
(4) As always, whose salvation are you praying for? Who are you sharing the Gospel with? If no one then how are you going to do so in accordance with our King’s command found in Matthew 28:16-20?
Also, be praying about how and when your group will undertake a social justice project.
Grace and peace to you all.
Posted by Matt, Revolution Leadership Team.
Revolution Church: Worship, Grow, Serve.