Monthly Archives: July 2009

This Sunday Night at Revolution…

We continue our walk through the series “The Mission of God” with “The Way of Jesus.”  IF, and I stress IF, a package arrives in time then we should have a free gift for everyone in attendance. 

After I’m through, Ryan Rolfe & The World’s Most Dangerous Praise Band will lead us in worship.

Revolution meets every Sunday evening at 315 Chillicothe Street in Portsmouth.  There is plenty of parking in the municipal lot off of Washington and 4th Street.

Coffee & Community begins at 6:30 and Justin will bring everything to order with announcements and prayer at 7:00. 

If, and again, I stress IF, a second package arrives in time (I don’t know what’s up with the mail this week) then I’ll be spinning the new Project 86 release during Coffee & Community.

Hope you join us.  Everyone is welcome to come as they are.

Posted by Matt, Revolution Leadership Team.

Revolution: Worship-Grow-Serve.

The Mission of God Part 4: The Way of Jerusalem and the Way of God

Amos 5:21-24:

21 “I hate, I despise your feasts,
and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
22 Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them;
and the peace offerings of your fattened animals,
I will not look upon them.
23 Take away from me the noise of your songs;
to the melody of your harps I will not listen.
24 But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

Where have we been?  The story of  Israel breaks down like this:
 
Abraham and his family are given the role of being God’s instrument to rescue the world (Gen. 12:1-3).  
 
God grows Abraham to the point that he even prays for an oppressive place like Sodom (Gen. 18:22-33)
 
Yet, Abraham’s family become enslaved to an empire that refuses to acknowledge God.  So, God rescues them but He saves them in order for them to complete their great mission.  They were to establish a nation that would bring the whole world to know God, to worship God and to live in peace.  This involves making sure that there is food for the poor, justice for all and even a year of debt forgiveness every 7 years known as Jubilee (Exodus 23:10-11; Deut. 15:1-6).  
 
Israel, however, does not complete their mission.  Soon after settling in a land that God has given them, they begin to want to adopt the culture of all the other nations.  They don’t want to trust God, probably because they can’t control Him, so they establish a monarchy and build a military and even construct their own empire complete with slaves. 
 
Israel still swears they are God’s people because they have Bibles, worship services and abstain from certain practices that other nations engage in.  
 
What does Bob Dylan have to with all of this? 

In the ’50s, folk music was viewed by many just as punk would be in the ’70s, that is it was an alternative movement rebelling against the perceived shallow materialism that pervaded middle and upper class America but by the ’60s, folk had become an institution with rigid rules (acoustic instruments only), a set type of dress and a standardized vocabulary. 

On July 25, 1965 Bob Dylan walked onto the stage of the Newport Folk Festival with a band who proceeded to plug in electric instruments.  It resulted in a near riot.  In the movie I’m Not There, the director depicts the scene as if Dylan and his band had reached into their cases, pulled out machine guns and fired into the crowd.  
 
When Israel failed to be the alternative community God wanted it to be and instead became a closed institution, God sentprophets who engaged in “guerrilla sermons” in an attempt to call the people back to their mission. For example, see Isa. 20:3 and Ezekiel 4:12.
 
Yet, the people didn’t listen, but does that mean the prophets failed?
 
The story of “Christendom” is one in which the people of God adopt the way of empire but still consider themselves disciples of Jesus because they attend worship, have Bibles and abstain from certain practices that “others engage in”.  
 
The people still pushing Christendom are largely very good people but they are only telling part of the story for following Jesus is much more radical than what you don’t listen to, what you don’t watch, who you don’t vote for or whatever.  It is the shocking act of dying to self, picking up a cross and following Jesus into hard, dangerous situations and even unto death.  It is an alternative movement not an institution.
 
Peter Rollins wrote a parable about a state that allowed being a disciple of Jesus and then put a person on trial.  The state entered evidence that the person owned worship CDs, journaled daily, had been seen praying and reading a Bible.  The person nervously awaits the verdict only to hear the words “not guilty.”  The judge announces that the person may be “spiritual” but is not a dangerous, paradigm challenging follower of Jesus as described in Scripture.
 
If truly following Jesus were outlawed tomorrow then what would the verdict be for you?  Are you part of a movement or an institution?

This Sunday Night at Revolution…

we will continue our sermon series “The Mission of God.”  This week’s sermon is entitled, “The Way of God and the Way of Jerusalem.”  After the sermon, Jeremy Clark & The World’s Most Dangerous Praise Band will lead us in worship.

Revolution is a missional community that meets every Sunday night at 315 Chillicothe Street, Portsmouth, OH.  Coffee & Community kicks off at 6:30 p.m..  This week I’ll be spinning the new Derek Webb release between 6:30 and 7:00.  Announcements and prayer bring things to order around 7:00.

Everyone is welcome.  Come as you are.

Posted by Matt, Revolution Leadership Team.

Revolution: Worship-Grow-Serve

The Mission of God: The Way of God and the Way of Empire

Last week’s sermon notes. 

Warning: videos contain a few strong words. 

Exodus 5:1-9

5:1 Afterward Moses and Aaron went and said to Pharaoh, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.’” But Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.” Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God, lest he fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.” But the king of Egypt said to them, “Moses and Aaron, why do you take the people away from their work? Get back to your burdens.” And Pharaoh said, “Behold, the people of the land are now many, and you make them rest from their burdens!” The same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people and their foremen, “You shall no longer give the people straw to make bricks, as in the past; let them go and gather straw for themselves. But the number of bricks that they made in the past you shall impose on them, you shall by no means reduce it, for they are idle. Therefore they cry, ‘Let us go and offer sacrifice to our God.’ Let heavier work be laid on the men that they may labor at it and pay no regard to lying words.”

The Exodus story is one in which God hears the cries of a people and rescues them from an oppressive empire.
 
God gives these people a great mission, which make their lives worth something rather than just making bricks to make towers to bring honor to an evil emperor.
 
Part of this mission to make sure that food is plentiful for everyone including the illegal immigrant, the widow and the orphan (Exodus 22:21-23).
 
He also promises them a weekly day of rest, food and celebration (Exodus 20:8-11).  
 
He even promises them an amazing thing called Jubilee (Exodus 23:10-11; Deut. 15:1-6).
 
How do the people respond?
 
First, the people turn on Moses & Aaron! (Exodus 5:21)
 
Later, they complain about the lack of creature comforts provided by the Empire (Exodus 16:3).
 
Too many people today, even those in the church, believe that “reality is making bricks” and Christianity is just another item in a shopping cart. They may go to church out of fear of hell or because they want their children to be moral or because they are looking for friends or a spouse.  To many, church is a place like Wal-Mart where you go to get something. 

Yet, God describes His people as a rescued group given a great mission.  Sound like the church to you?
 
So, what if we dared to do something different?
 
Have you heard of Bansky? He’s an anonymous graffiti artist in England. With a few cans of spray paint he creates powerful commentaries on society that leaves an indelible impression. 

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How many churches make such an impact?

Yet, Jesus did.

Why doesn’t his church do the same?  Because its not on mission.  His people are too busy making bricks for an empire that doesn’t care for them.  They are too worried that if they leave the empire behind it will cost them too many creature comforts.

But what if a community who loved Jesus took this mission seriously and undertook it in his name today? What would it look like?  What impact would it have?
 

 
Tomorrow doesn’t have to be like today.

Posted by Matt, Revolution Leadership Team.

Revolution: Worship, Grow, Serve.

The Mission of God: The truth of Sodom

podcastThe mission of God The truth of Sodom

This Weekend at Revolution…

We continue the sermon series “The Mission of God” with “The Way of God and the Way of Empire.” 

Ryan Rolfe & The World’s Most Dangerous Praise Band will lead us in worship.

Revolution meets Sunday nights at 315 Chillicothe Street in Portsmouth, OH.

Come hang out during Coffee & Community at 6:30 and stick around for worship at 7:00.  

And, as always, come as you are.

Posted by Matt, Revolution Leadership Team.

Revolution: Worship, Grow, Serve.

The Mission of God Sermon Series Part 2

Genesis 18:22-33 read:

22So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the LORD. 23Then Abraham drew near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?  24Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it?  25Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” 26And the LORD said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

 27Abraham answered and said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. 28Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking. Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And he said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.” 29Again he spoke to him and said, “Suppose forty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.” 30Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there.” He answered, “I will not do it, if I find thirty there.” 31He said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.” 32Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” 33And the LORD went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.

Now, take a look at this:

Now back to Abraham.

Most people read this section from the point of view that God is about to destroy Sodom for homosexual activity, yet the story is not that simple.

If you read Ezekiel 16:48-50 then you see that the “sin of Sodom” was not homosexuality but oppression.  God’s judgment on Sodom is not that different from his judgment on Egypt and his threatened judgment on Nineveh. 

Now, you may object, “What about the men outside of Lot’s door who wanted to have sex with the angels?”

Did you know that it was common in Ancient Near Eastern cultures for men to rape other men not because they were gay but as an act of conquest and humiliation, not that different from what happens in prisons today.

Does that change how you read the story?

But that’s not what I want to talk about. 

What intrigues me is that Abraham intercedes for Sodom.  Well, really, he prays for them.  That’s what we call talking to God, right?

Abraham is praying for a city that rapes the men of nearby villages in order to humiliate them. 

Wow!

Have you read the book of Jonah lately? Probably not.

The book of Jonah is a great book that unfortunately has been relegated to the children’s section of the Bible.  A lot of it has to do with the whale (or big fish) that swallows Jonah.  I’ve never understood why the fish gets all the attention.  Its not really doing much.  In the story, the fish is (1) salvation, not punishment and (2) cheap transportation.  That’s it!

The story goes like this: God commands Jonah to go to Nineveh and tell them to repent.  He doesn’t want to and tries to hide from God.  Bad idea. 

God has Jonah thrown into the sea and swallowed by a fish until he is in the right mood to perform his allotted task.  Once there, the fish pukes Jonah onto a beach near Nineveh.

Now, before we write Jonah off as a snob or whatever we need to remember that Nineveh had a reputation akin to Sodom and ancient Egypt.  In modern parlance, they were Nazis or the barbarian soldiers you read about who rape women of all ages in the Congo.

So, Jonah preaches and, lo and behold, the city actually listens and actually repents.  So, God spares  Nineveh and this really torques off the prophet.  Jonah wanted God to do them what he did to Sodom.

Jonah fumes under some shade until God withers the vine.  This is too much for Jonah who asks God to just go ahead and kill him!

God responds by asking Jonah how he can be so upset over losing a little shade and expect God not to be upset at the prospect of destroying a whole city of people that He created and has watched from the time they were all children.

So, the point of the Book of Jonah is that God loves the Ninevites too. 

I had this professor in law school named Sherri Johnson.  She has a Yale law degree (as does her husband) and they both could be partners in Manhattan law firms making millions.  Instead, they adopt orphans and Sherri works on death penalty cases across the country.

I worked on a case with her when I was in law school.  Our client was accused of killing 2 women.  There was no evidence that he actually killed the women.   In fact, the evidence pointed to his partner.  A jury sentenced our client to death anyway.

Sherri has been handling cases like this for nearly 30 years.  Some are innocent and many are not.  Some of the innocent ones are killed anyway.  Heartbreaking stuff. 

Why does she do it?

Because Sherri is a Christian and she knows that God loves the Ninevites too.

This fall, Revolution will hit the streets of Portsmouth to pray for and to minister to the meth prostitutes, to the homeless and to all those who dwell in the darkness with no hope.

Why do it? Some of these people have abandoned their own children.  Many of these people steal. Most of them certainly brought their situation upon themselves.

So why waste Friday and Saturday nights trying to help these men and women?

Because God loves the Ninevites too.

Now I know that none of this makes any sense. 

To pray for the Sodomite?  To preach to the Ninevite?  To love the drug addicted prostitute?

True.

It makes about as much sense as a maniac doing stunts on a BMX in order to postthem on Youtube.

But it was beautiful wasn’t? 

Posted by Matt, Revolution Leadership Team.

Revolution: Worship-Grow-Serve.