Monthly Archives: October 2009

This Sunday Night at Revolution…

We continue to study the Gospel of John at Revolution.  This week we will hit Chapter 13 with a talk entitled, “Jesus vs. Joel Osteen.” 

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

Sadly, we also say goodbye to Eron Elswick, at least for the time being, as he has resigned from the Revolution Leadership Team to care for his brother Jay who is battling cancer.  Prayers for the Elswick family are appreciated.  We will have a little goodbye party for Eron after the service.

Revolution meets every Sunday night at 315 Chillicothe Street in Portsmouth.  We have Coffee & Community at 6:30 (come hang, sip coffee & hot chocolate and listen to good music) and then we kick things off at 7:00 p.m. 

Everyone is welcome.  Come as you are.

Revolution: It’s Not A Church, It’s A Movement


Jesus vs. Chuck Norris Sermon Notes

Remember when your inbox was invaded with Chuck Norris jokes a few years back? Ever wonder why they were popular for 15 minutes? They basically lampoon our deep faith in brute strength and the ability to pound our enemies into dust so that we have a happy ending.

 Even Christians buy into the “might makes right” philosophy and display this belief in business, politics even in the way they spread the good news of Jesus

 Ever met a Christian who introduces Jesus to others in a really aggressive way? Like it was some sort of combat?

 Yet, when the all-knowing, all-powerful, eternal God who created everything comes to earth and takes on flesh what does he do?

 Take a look at John 12:12-50

12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,

15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey’s colt!”

16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. 17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. 18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”

20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. 34 So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” 35 So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”

When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. 37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

“Lord, who has believed what he heard from us,
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said,

40 “He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their heart,
lest they see with their eyes,
and understand with their heart, and turn,
and I would heal them.”

41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. 42 Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

44 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”

The reason the Jewish people greeted Jesus with palm branches is that it was a symbol of revolt. Israelites waived palm branches at the fleeing Greek army after defeating them in battle around 164 B.C.

 So, the Jewish people greet Jesus as a warrior but he refuses to fight.  In fact, Jesus receives confirmation that this is “the hour” when non-Jews want to know more about him. 

Jesus takes this as a sign that his hour will come for he knows that the reign of God will spread throughout the fallen world not by fighting but through love; not by inflicting pain but by absorbing it.

 But does it really work? Taking a cue from Matt Chandler, let’s take a look: (1) God promise to bless all the nations through the children of Abraham (Gen. 12); (2) He forms a nation out of Abraham’s children to be a light to the nations (Isa. 42); (3) God becomes a child of Abraham to carry out the perfect plan for the redemption of the world when Abraham’s other children fail to (see the Gospels); (4) Jesus commissions 12 of Abraham’s children to proclaim his life, suffering, death and resurrection in love to the world; (5) they commission others to do it…and on and on and on until you get to Revolution Church and beyond.  This redemption is happening right now and it is happening not by force but through the gentle life, suffering, death and resurrection of God.

 So, why don’t we follow our King’s example? Don’t really believe it? Too scared? Too arrogant?

 It takes more courage to absorb suffering than to inflict it and that is what will change the world

 One day, history will be re-written as it is and many in the shadows who the Bible calls “meek” but often risk their lives and regularly risk having their hearts broken will be…where will you be standing?

This Sunday Night at Revolution…

This Sunday at Revolution we will finish the 12th Chapter of John with a talk called, “Jesus vs. Chuck Norris.”  Then Ryan Rolfe & The World’s Most Dangerous Praise Band will lead us in worship.

Revolution meets every week at 315 Chillicothe Street in Portsmouth.

Coffee & Community at 6:30 and Gathering at 7:00 p.m.

Everyone is welcome.  Come as you are.

Hope to see you there.

Revolution: It’s Not A Church, It’s A Movement

Relationship vs. Religion Sermon Notes

I grew up in church but somehow I perceived that Christianity was a religion all about “being good” and I seemed wholly incapable of “being good.”

Later, I read guys like Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud and decided that “religion” was just a crutch for people afraid of life and afraid of death and a tool to try to make “bad people” be “good people.”

What I discovered after being saved by God in 1997 was that “being good” in order to be accepted by God is not a view taught in the Bible!

The term “justification” refers to how a person in open rebellion against his/her creator is reconciled to God. Some churches still teach, or at least strongly imply, that a person is justified via the type of person they are.

Some churches teach a type of “moralistic deism,” where you are justified depending on what you do or what you don’t do.

The Bible teaches that there is nothing you can do to be justified…only Jesus can do it for you (2 Cor. 5:21) and he has done it.

Jesus died to take the punishment for our sins and grants us his right standing before the Father, so that when we all stand before God in judgment, we are judged by Jesus’ life, not our own. This is what the Bible calls “good news.”

Take a look at John 11:45-12:11. 11:45

Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the Council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death. 54 Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there to the region near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and there he stayed with the disciples. 55 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. 56 They were looking for Jesus and saying to one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? That he will not come to the feast at all?” 57 Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where he was, he should let them know, so that they might arrest him.

12:1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 3 Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. 8 For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” 9 When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.

Note that the “religious” people want to kill Jesus while the thankful just want to worship him. That’s the difference between religion and relationship.

It’s not about keeping the rules, it’s about living in gratitude.

“What about the Ten Commandments? What about all the “rules”?”

Okay, here is a news flash for you, women and men are different! They tend to even think differently.

Ever seen books like “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”? It, and books like it, are written to help someone who wants to be in a relationship with someone different. Books like this try to teach you to understand the other and to love the other by learning how they think, what they care about and how they want to be loved.

All of the “commands” in the Bible are not “rules” but helpful guides on how to be in a relationship. To turn gratitude for the love given to us into a set of rules to keep demeans it!

There is a story about a mother and daughter in a South American country. The daughter wants to leave their small town and move to a city where she can make her own decisions. Her mother doesn’t want her to go because she knows that pretty young girls with no education often end up being taken advantage of or worse.

Yet, the daughter persists and sneaks out one night for the city. The mother waits a week for her to return, then two, then three and then a month before withdrawing her life savings and boarding a bus for the city.

The mother spends every dime she has on hotel rooms as she wanders through the large city posting fliers in the bathrooms of bars and hotels where prostitutes are known to work. After the mother runs out of money, she boards a bus and heads home.

One night, the daughter walks into a hotel bathroom after selling herself once again to a man in order to eat. She washes herself in the sink, trying hard to scrub away the filth she feels. She looks over and sees a picture of herself as she once looked and below is a note stating, “I don’t care what you’ve done. I don’t care what you think you’ve become. You’re my child and I love you and I want you to come home. ”

The cross is like a note written to all of us saying, “I don’t care what you’ve done. I don’t care what you think you are. I love you and I want you to come home.” We live a life of thanks in the light of this mercy.

This Sunday Night At Revolution…

I (Matt) will be talking about the difference between religion and a relationship with God.  Afterwards, Ryan Rolfe & The World’s Most Dangerous Praise Band will lead us in worship.

Everyone is welcome.  Come as you are.

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

We have Coffee & Community at 6:30 and the main gathering begins at 7:00 and we are finished by 8:15 at the latest.

Revolution: It’s Not A Church, It’s A Movement

Sermon Notes: Kanye Was Right About One Thing (John 11)

Kanye West was Right about One Thing (John 11:1-44)

I left the church as a teenager for the church of heavy metal because it was less judgmental, more inclusive and it better connected with me at an emotional level.  

Metal was all about anger, partying and heartbreak, which, as a teenager, was my life! I spent most of the ’80’s partying, fighting and listening to power ballads in the dark while crying over some girl!

On the other hand, I saw God as unemotional, unmoved and uninterested in me as a person.  I thought God was disgusted with what I thought and did.  I believed God just wanted me to behave…but I didn’t seem to be able to behave.
I came to think of God this way largely via my experience with His church, which also struck me as unemotional, unmoved, uninterested in me and ultimately just wanted me to sit down, shut up and behave. 
Yet, I’m not at all sure that this is the way the Bible presents God as we see Him in Jesus.  Take a look at John 11:1-44:

1Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. 3So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord,  he whom you love is ill.” 4But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

 5Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. 7Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” 9Jesus answered,  “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

 17Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again inthe resurrection on the last day.” 25Jesus said to her,  “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

 28When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private,  “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him,  “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he  was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35  Jesus wept. 36So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”

 38Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for  he has been dead four days.” 40Jesus said to her,  “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

Note esp. vv.33-35 and 38.
So, if Jesus is God & man then God was moved and God cried. Why? v.33 because those around him are hurting.
Jesus is not the rigid, stoic figure of popular culture. 
Jesus/God cried (John 11:35), Jesus/God danced as all rabbis did before they taught the Scriptures in the synagogue (Luke 4:16ff), Jesus/God joked (Matthew 7:3), he was tempted as we are (Hebrews 4:15), and He died (Matthew 27:50; Mark 15:37; Luke 23:46 and John 19:30). 
God feels! And he promises never to leave us. 

Thus, Jesus doesn’t just suffer for us, he suffers with us. He doesn’t just watch us. He walks with us. Kanye got that right, at least.
God is closer to a father whose children’s pain is felt deeply in His own person.
Eli Wiesel, a holocaust survivor, wrote in his book Night about a young boy that was hung by the Nazi guards in front of the whole camp and took nearly a half-hour to die. “Where is God?” Wiesel asked and a voice within him said, “Here He is – He is hanging here on these gallows.”  
God walks with us and when we hurt, He hurts.

One day, Jesus will fix everything.  He will wipe away every tear but until then He sheds them for us.

This Sunday Night at Revolution…

We continue our walk through the Gospel of John with a sermon entitled “Kanye West was Right about One Thing.”

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

Revolution meets every Sunday night at 315 Chillicothe Street in Portsmouth, Ohio. There is plenty of parking in the municipal lot behind Rev HQ.

Coffee & Community at 6:30 and worship at 7:00.

Everyone is welcome. Come as you are.

Revolution: It’s Not A Church, It’s A Movement.