Monthly Archives: March 2009

Way To Go Revolution!

I think last Sunday’s worship service may have provided me with the highlight of my involvement with Revolution to this point. That may seem a strange thing to say when you consider that we had no heat (yet again), Matt came crawling into the service with virtually no voice & utterly exhausted from being on the road all week, and the Praise Band – which was comprised of a new combo of musicians – had to scramble around at the last minute to get a bass player after a family emergency popped up. Interestingly, the gym seemed much warmer than past weeks, Matt’s sermon was quite good (though he probably doesn’t even remember preaching it), and Jeremy & the rest of the guys put on a great set of music.

However, none of that is what made the worship service so memorable for me. What made it so great was the extent to which our congregation stepped up to financially support the DeAtley’s mission work in Guinea, West Africa. On the night we declared that every single cent we collected would go toward taking the gospel to Guinea, we took in our largest offering ever! Think about it. Here we are, a financially poor church lacking many “comforts” (such as heat!). Our people would have plenty of justification to “keep back” some money to buy things to benefit our own congregation. Instead, the people of Revolution gave more generously than ever before in order to benefit people on the other side of the globe – people we’ve never even met, nor likely will meet. It was a clear sign to me that the people of Revolution are far more concerned with spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ around the world than they are about being pampered at their home church (Hallelujah!).

What was especially heart-warming for me was seeing all the one dollar bills that were given. (There were two or three times as many one dollar bills as there were all other denominations combined). Usually church leaders weep & wail when they see a lot of one dollar bills (because it means a low offering for the week). I was thrilled beyond words because I know it means that a whole bunch of our poor, jobless high school & college students pitched in to help. The people with the least to give still found a way to contribute something, if only a single dollar. It was a wonderful thing to witness and makes me feel truly blessed to be a part of Revolution!

 

Eron Elswick

Worship – Grow – Serve

Mission Group Questions

The text this week is John 4:46-5:17. Be sure to cover it as well as the Gospel and who everyone is either sharing it with or praying about sharing it with.

In order to avoid being like the lame man in John 5:1-17, how are you dealing with your ongoing sins? What have you tried? How often do you read your Bible? Pray? Fast? Give to those in need? When the World’s Most Dangerous Praise Band leads us in worship, do you sing? If not, why not?

May God guide your discussions.

Grace and peace.

Posted by Matt, Revolution Leadership Team

Revolution Church: Worship-Grow-Serve.

This Weekend at Revolution…

…I’ll be preaching on John 4:46-5:17.  The sermon is entitled, “Is It Okay To Kneecap Someone Jesus Just Healed?”   After I’m done screaming, Jeremy Clark will be leading the World’s Most Dangerous Praise Band. 

Revolution meets every Sunday night at the old PHS Gym on 8th & Waller Street.  Coffee & Community kicks off at 6:30 with the new Superdrag CD playing in the background.  Justin Clark will bring things together around 7.:00 p.m.

Remember that this week every penny that we collect will go to help fund the DeAtley’s mission trip to Guinee, Africa.

Come as you are.

Revolution Church: Worship, Grow, Serve.

Jesus: Wonderful or Indispensable?

com-cross

Is Jesus indispensable or merely wonderful? When you survey what is taught about him within many churches today and see what is being emphasized, it would seem that Jesus is wonderful (very, very wonderful, perhaps) but he’s not quite indispensable.

For instance, there is “Jesus the Social Worker” whose main message is to help the needy and poor. Now that’s a great thing to do, but we could help the poor & needy without Jesus. Thus, “Jesus the Social Worker” is merely wonderful, not indispensable.

Others teach about “Jesus the Peacemaker” whose main mission is to oppose war & violence. Once again, that’s a tremendously worthwhile pursuit, but it can be done with-or-without Jesus – thereby making him wonderful instead of indispensable.

There’s also “Jesus the Just” whose primary concern is freeing those who are oppressed or wrongly imprisoned. Here again, it’s a highly commendable endeavor, but it can be done (and is done) by secular organizations without the aid of Jesus, which means that “Jesus the Just” is also in the wonderful column instead of indispensable.

The list could go on with “Ethical Jesus”, “Jesus the Healer” and “Civil Rights Jesus” among others. Now, I don’t want to diminish those attributes of Jesus in any way. They are at the core of his very essence and reveal what an amazing Lord he truly is. However, if Jesus is only a “Social worker, peacemaker, just, ethical, etc…”, then we’re all still in our sins and bound for eternal death (both physically and spiritually). Sin & death are humankind’s primary “intractable” problems that render us utterly helpless without Jesus.

It’s “Jesus the Son of God” dying on the cross for our sins and being raised to give us eternal life that makes him INDISPENSABLE and not merely wonderful! Preaching or teaching that fails to make this message its cornerstone may still be able to portray Jesus as amazing & magnificent, but it ultimately makes him disposable.

1Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

 3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. [1 Cor. 15:1-4]

 

Eron Elswick

Worship – Grow – Serve

“Just Following Orders…”

There’s a new book out detailing the capture and subsequent trial of the Nazi war criminal, Adolf Eichmann. In case you’re a little hazy about this episode in history, Eichmann was the officer in charge of facilitating and managing the mass deportation of Jews to extermination camps during World War II. After the war, he eventually made his way to Argentina where he lived in safety & obscurity for nearly fifteen years before Israeli intelligence agents captured him and whisked him back to Israel to face trial.

In court, Eichmann’s whole defense essentially boiled down to this: “I had no choice. I was just following orders from my commanders.” It was really a ridiculous defense (even if it hadn’t been a complete lie). He had plenty of choices, ranging from: simply leaving the Nazi party, to fleeing Germany, to actively resisting, to even laying down his own life. Quite simply, he chose to collaborate with evil rather than stand up to it, most likely because he found it easier (or more lucrative) at the time. Not surprisingly, the Israeli court didn’t buy his “pass the buck” defense and eventually made him the guest of honor at an “Old West Necktie Party”.

Though we may not be guilty of crimes on par with those of Eichmann, we essentially use his same defense plea when trying to explain away our sinful behaviors: “I can’t help it. I’m just doing what comes naturally.” In effect, we say that our sinful desires are in charge and we have no choice but to follow their commands. So if we sleep around, our defense is that “Hey, it’s a natural desire. I’m just doing what my body leads [commands] me to do.” If we gossip against others and then get confronted about it, we pass the blame by shrugging and saying “Well, you know how I am. I say things without thinking” [which is another way of saying, “My mouth is in command and I’m helpless to stop it.”].

Our excuses are as lame as Eichmann’s defense. Sure temptation & sinful desires may be powerful, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t resist them (or flee them). We have a choice between collaboration with sin or utter defiance of it. Peter says:

1PE 5:8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith…

We can be like Eichmann and follow every order from the “commanding officer” known as sin or be like Peter and oppose sin at every turn. Obviously, Christians are called to be members of a resistance movement against sin, not collaborators. We may not always be successful in every mission, but we should never go down without a fight.

     

Eron Elswick

Worship – Grow – Serve

Mission Group Questions

As always, the questions are more suggestions then requirements but we (the leadership team) do ask that you always: (1) make sure that everyone understands the Biblical text & sermon; (2) understand the Gospel; (3) be looking for ways to share the Gospel with others; and (4) be thinking about ways to serve Jesus as a group in our community.


As the notes from the sermon indicated, Jesus accomplished a number of things on the cross: (1) Jesus “propitiated” God’s wrath or satisfied God’s righteous sense of justice by taking the punishment for our sins upon himself (Rom. 3:23-25; 5:9; 1 Thess. 1:9-10; Heb. 2:17; 1 John 2:2 and 4:10); (2) Jesus also “expiated” our sins or put them away so that we may be freed from guilt (see esp. 1 John 1:7-9 cf. Jer. 33:8); and (3) Jesus also “imputes his righteousness” or grants us His own legal standing before the Father so that we are judged by His life and not our own (2 Cor. 5:21).  Do you understand each of these actions?  Why do you think they were necessary? How could they change the way you approach your life?

Do you know people who define themselves by “all that they have done”? How can we reach them? Are you praying about any such person now? Could you explain the three actions discussed previously to them?

God bless!

Posted by Matt–Revolution Leadership Team.

Revolution Church: Worship-Grow-Serve.

 

This Weekend At Revolution…

We will gather at the old PHS Gym on 8th & Waller Street in Portsmouth at 6:30 for Coffee & Community including some cool new music.  Justin Clark will call things to order around 7:00 and then I will preach on John 4:1-45.  The sermon is entitled “Jesus in the Ghetto” and once I finish yelling about all that then I will call us to worship God together and turn it over to Ryan Rolfe and the World’s Most Dangerous Praise Band.

Please remember that we continue to collect food for the local food pantries.

Also, if you have a friend who doesn’t think they are “worthy” of walking into a church then this would be the weekend to invite them.

As always, come as you are.  We’re all jacked up and looking to Jesus for healing.

I hope to see you there.

Revolution: Worship-Grow-Serve.

What Is Good Fortune?

horseman

One of my all-time favorite movie quotes comes from the 1970 western, “A Man Called Horse”. In the movie, Richard Harris plays an English aristocrat who comes to America on something akin to a sightseeing tour of the frontier. However, his expedition is ambushed by a tribe of marauding Indians and Harris’s character is taken captive and summarily beaten & tortured to the point of death. His captors initially intend to kill him but, instead, they tie him up with a rope around his neck – like a horse – and leave him a bruised & bloodied heap in the middle of their camp.

Eventually an old English-speaking Indian in the camp stumbles across him and begins talking to him. The old Indian is astonished that the marauding warriors didn’t immediately kill Harris and expresses his amazement by telling him how “lucky” he is that they spared his life. Having been brutally beaten, stripped, tortured & tied up outside like a common animal, Harris looks at the old Indian through swollen black eyes and dryly cracks: “I can hardly believe my good fortune.” The comment is bitter sarcasm at it best (or, perhaps, worst), but the old Indian’s assessment was in fact correct. Yes, things had gone horrendously bad for the Harris character in virtually every way possible, but he was still alive and that trumped everything that he’d lost or suffered.

As Christians, we need to assess our situations & circumstances in much the same way as the old Indian did. However, instead of doing it through a self-preservation lens, we need to do it through a Christ-centered lens. We need to realize and understand that no matter what we lose, no matter what we may suffer, no matter how bad our present circumstances – if we still have Jesus (and nothing else), then that’s more than enough. It’s not an easy thing to swallow, but Jesus is to be so precious to us that even if we lost all our worldly possessions, family & friends – yet had Christ – we should still be able to truly & honestly say: “I can hardly believe my good fortune!” That’s how wonderful Jesus Christ is!

What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ. (Phil.3:8)

 

Eron Elswick

Worship – Grow – Serve

Mission Group Questions

First of all, always remember to review the text for the week with your bulletin outline in hand. 

Second, look over C.J. Mahaney’s list for cultivating humility

ALWAYS:
1. Reflect on the wonder of the cross of Christ.

AS EACH DAY BEGINS:
2. Begin your day by acknowledging your dependence upon God and your need for God.
3. Begin your day expressing gratefulness to God.
4. Practice the spiritual disciplines – prayer, study of God’s Word, worship. Do this consistently each day and at the day’s outset if possible.
5. Seize your commute time to memorize and meditate on Scripture.
6. Cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.

AS EACH DAY ENDS:
7. At the end of the day, transfer the glory to God.
8. Before going to sleep, receive this gift of sleep from God and acknowledge His purpose for sleep.

FOR SPECIAL FOCUS:
9. Study the attributes of God.
10. Study the doctrines of grace.
11. Study the doctrine of sin.
12. Play golf as much as possible.
13. Laugh often, and laugh often at yourself.

THROUGHOUT YOUR DAYS AND WEEKS:
14. Identify evidences of grace in others.
15. Encourage and serve others each and every day.
16. Invite and pursue correction.
17. Respond humbly to trials.

Now run through as many of these as possible (remember to try to stick to an hour!) and ask yourself why these activities could help you cultivate humility? Why do we need to decrease so that He might increase?

What is the Gospel and how does know it keep us humble?

Who are you praying for God to save? How are you trying to reach?

May God bless your time together.

Smells Like Sin

shoes

Imagine combining sauerkraut, spoiled milk & canned tuna with the bloated, rotting carcass of a dead possum and that should give you some idea of what my teenage son’s tennis shoes smell like. We recently had to buy him a brand new pair – even though his existing shoes were in great physical condition – simply because of the “stench of death” emanating from them. [I felt so sorry for the young gal working at the shoe store. When she came near my son carrying the shoes he wanted to try on, she immediately dropped down to one knee – not because she was trying to help him put them on, but because she almost passed out from the smell!].

Now the amazing part of it all is that my son swore that he couldn’t smell any noxious odor coming from his old shoes, in spite of the fact that flowers would wilt and skunks would go screaming into the woods whenever he walked past them. However, he wasn’t lying. Because he had worn the shoes most of his waking hours and then slept with them by his bed every night, he’d become so accustomed to the smell that he no longer even noticed how putrid they were (though it was immediately obvious to anyone who came within a 500 yard radius of him).

This is how it is with sin. The longer we wallow in it, the less sensitive we become to its presence and devastating effects. When we’re immersed in our sin throughout most of our waking hours, we become so accustomed to it being part of the “norm” that we no longer notice how foul it really is. We become unable to recognize the destructive effects that our sin is having on us and those around us.

How can we regain our “sensitivity” to sin so that we can “sniff out” where it has us enslaved? First, we need to dive into the scriptures. Not only will it point out the sins that hide deep in the heart, but seeing the ways in which our lives diverge from the life of Jesus will reveal where we’ve gone “off track”. Next, we need to build relationships with mature Christians who can objectively look at our lives and tell us (gently, yet firmly) where sin is at work. Finally, we need to periodically get away from the hustle-&-bustle of everyday life so that we can do some prayerful reflection on what is happening in our lives & in our hearts, and let the Holy Spirit guide us toward increasing holiness & away from the stench of sin. 

 

Eron Elswick

Worship – Grow – Serve