Welcome to Provocative Church

As you browse, read and share the many articles, our hope is that you may find this site an encouragement to your faith and Christian life.

Worship

We were created to worship. And we are to worship God with every aspect and area of our lives - presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.

The Church

The bride of Christ can often times be difficult and messy - but it is Christ's beautiful mess - to which He is the head and chief cornerstone.

Ancient Future

Our faith comes out from a rich heritage and history. It was during the formative years of our faith that creeds, confessions, traditions, and liturgies were developed. These practices and traditions recaptured will not only anchor us but move us forward in our faith.

Freedom

There is freedom in the gospel as it proclaims that in Christ we are sons and daughters of the King. The importance is learning to preach those truths to our heart and life everyday.

Saturday, November 26, 2005


Provocative Community

This week as we take our excursions into John’s first letter, we are looking at the mark of the Christian, which is Provocative Faith. Last week we saw the foundation is the love of God. As a Christian we are forgiven and have the freedom to obey God and live for him.

This week we are looking at our love for one another.
Our text this week is 1 John 4:9-12

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. –1 John 4:9-12

We are called to love one another, to serve one another.
LOVE IS PRACTICAL

Loving one another takes place in the context of community.,
but it also defines community. Christian community is to be radically different than any other group that comes together.

The earliest picture of this community is seen in Acts.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. – Acts 2:42-47

This LOVE and COMMUNITY is different than any other.
One of the values here at Big Creek reflects this picture.
Doing Life Together.
Living our Lives BEFORE one another and WITH one ANOTHER
Yes, we all want this….

We will have buy in to community but are we really achieving it?
Illustration: In Orlando, there was a builder who was building homes to foster community. His homes had front porches. But he realized that no community was being achieved. People bought into the idea of community, but they didn’t want to do what it took to actually cultivate.
Dallas Willard makes the same point in response to the question raised over why are so many young people desirous for community?
“People are lonely and they hurt. They don’t know why that they think community might solve that, but when they look community in the face and realize that it means raw, skin to skin contact with other people for whom you have become responsible…that’s when they back away.” – Dallas Willard, in an interview with Relevant Magazine

What are the lies that we are believing that are keeping us from achieving true, authentic loving community?

What are the barriers we are putting between us and true community?

What are the loves that we love more than loving one another in true community?

I am sure some of you are thinking, community sounds good,
Perhaps you are saying….
I’ve been hurt.

Perhaps the memories are vivid and the wounds you’ve faced are fresh. You’ve been hurt by another’s careless words, perhaps you trusted someone – gave them a confidence and they violated it. Perhaps you have felt hurt because you were not attacked but merely ignored. No one seemed to care to reach out to you.

If you have never been hurt by people, you have never been around people.

“The serious Christian, set down for the first time in a Christian community, is likely to bring with him a very definite idea of what Christian life together should be and to try to realize it. But God’s grace speedily shatters such dreams. Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

In our relational hurts, we erect walls.We keep people at arms length or we let them only get so close. Not only don’t we want to give love to others, we are not willing to receive their love and relationship.

Perhaps you are saying in your heart, community just isn’t worth it, it is too hard, it asks too much.

Building true community takes time and effort. Are you believing the lie ofwhy bother?
People are going to move away, I’m going to move away.
People are needy, they have needs and I just can’t be bothered, its too inconvenient
Community doesn’t just happen overnight, it isn’t instant- just add water. It takes time, attention and nurture.

The last thing that is what is preventing us from building community is the most INSIDIOUS.

The Zeitgeist-The Spirit of the Age.

Our Hurriedness. We are often chasing the urgent things of life that aren’t always that important. Community, relationships are often never urgent, but very important.

Our busyness allows us to Neglect Community. I’m too busy, I don’t have time, and it’s not a priority.

What is causing us to feel like we need to be so busy?
Are we allowing our busyness to simply numb the need for community?
To the point where we don’t think we need other people?

How do we overcome our hurts,
persevere when it’s hard
and break free of our hurriedness?

We need the healing of the Gospel.
People will disappoint, they will hurt us.
Our spouse will hurt us and disappoint us.
Our parents will hurt us and disappoint us.
Our friends and our fellow Christians with hurt us and disappoint us.
Your pastors will hurt you and disappoint you.
I will hurt you and disappoint you.

And if we are looking for the support, safety and security from other people. If all that we are clinging to are other people.

It is as if we are hanging over a chasm, and if all we are clinging to are other people, when they disappoint, and hurt us it is like people dropped in a chasm. We experience hurt and pain.

Unless we are tethered on belay with Gospel. WE NEED GOSPEL Belay
It is allowing the Gospel to define us, defend us.

When we are on Gospel belay, WE ARE SAFE.
So even though others may disappoint us, with Gospel belay we know that God won’t.
Even though others may reject us, with Gospel belay we are secure that God won’t reject us.
Even though others may withhold love from us, with belay we are able to experience God’s love lavished on us.

With Gospel belay we can risk in entering into relationships.

We need his strength to persevere when it is hard.
Early in his career, Barnum created an exhibit, entitled the Happy Family consisting of a cage housing a lion, a tiger, a panther and a baby lamb. The remarkable display earned Barnum unprecedented publicity and attendance figures. Some time after its opening, Barnum was asked – “How long will you keep doing this.” Barnum answered, “The display will become a permanent feature” he declared “if the supply of lambs holds out.”

We can settle for the superficial facade of community. Of course we can find that anywhere.
But if we want true community it will require hard work.

Hard work in forgiving others
Hard work in serving others
Hard work in persevering with others who are going through tough times

But if we allow the Holy Spirit that indwells us to manifest his power in and through us

And in our hurriedness we need to stop running away, and ask God for the courage to truly love one another in community. Loving one another isn’t an option. We just can’t say it isn’t on our to-do list.
If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. - 1 John 4:20-21
We need the courage to say No to all the other good things in our life and be willing to say Yes to the best, our relationships.
We need the courage to face up to our heart and why we are pushing out relationships in our life.

Where are you today?


Wherever you are you need to take the next step
Doorways into community:
Serving together Discipleship Serving others
Life Groups Hospitality Praying together

Some of you are more connecting and building true community with others – Keep persevering!

While some of us continue to remain of periphery not allowing ourselves to connect with others, you need to take the next step and walk through one of these doorways!
Examples:
Serving Together

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. – 1 John 3:16-18

Illustration, Mississippi trip

Life Groups


Conclusions

Additional Resource: Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation

Proclamation Establishing Thanksgiving Day

October 3, 1863



The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.

A. Lincoln

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2005

A Convicting Quote from John Stott

From a post on Reformation_21 blog...

"We need to get the failures of the church on our conscience, to feel the offence to Christ and the world which these failures are, to weep over the credibility gap between the church’s talk and the church’s walk, to repent of our readiness to excuse and even condone our failures, and to determine to do something about it. I wonder if anything is more urgent today, for the honor of Christ and for the spread of the Gospel, than that the church should be, and should be seen to be, what by God’s purpose and Christ’s achievement it already is—a single new humanity, a model of human community, a family of reconciled brothers and sisters who love their Father and love each other, the evident dwelling place of God by his Spirit. Only then will the world believe in Christ as Peacemaker. Only then will God receive the glory due to his name." (John Stott, God’s New Society, 111-112)

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Provocative Love - 1 John 3:1

Provocative Love.

The past several months we have been looking at the Law of God. Jon Adams has been speaking about the Ten Commandments.

The heart of the law is that it is a law of Love. The heart behind the law is that God loves us.

God’s love is to protect us and provide for us.

For the next three weeks we are going to take some excursions into John’s first letter.
1 John 3:1
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!


John’s letter was motivated to encourage and warn the young churches in the area and instruct them in their new-found faith.

In fact the purpose of letter is found in 1 John 5

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 1 John 5:13

John want them and us to know and understand the marks of our faith. What are the marks of a Christian. What does a Christian look like? What is the faith of a Christian, well according to John it is a Provocative Faith.

And John places as the foundation of our faith, the love of God. – so what we are talking about fits tongue and groove.


God’s Love is an exercise of his goodness toward sinners.. you and me.

As you think of God’s love you may be at a place where the reality of that isn’t there.

READ Brennan Manning – ABBA’s Child excerpt.

The Reality of Life may be overshadowing the Love of God.
- Perhaps you have just found out about a major health issue, or someone you love is going through bad health.
- Perhaps you are going through a hard time financially, or your relationship with your spouse or children is becoming fractured.
- Perhaps for you life has only been one disappointment after another

I know that I am suppose to believe that God loves me, but I’m experiencing it…

God’s love transcends a mere sentimentality

My daughter Brenna a couple of days ago wrote us Lauren and I a letter wanting to tell us how much she loved us…

Brenna talked about that love involves sacrifice. Brenna understood that love goes beyond mere sentimentality, love acts.

It is TANGIBLY displayed through Jesus Christ

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son a into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. – 1 John 4:8

God’s love is practical, and tangible. God’s love is expressed by his only son, living life among us, dying a criminals death on a cross even though he lived a perfect life, and then raising from the dead.

God’s love for you and me through Jesus Christ reminds me of the words of that great hymn..

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!



He loves us not because we were pretty, not because we have our act together. In fact Paul says in his letter to the Romans,

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

And then a couple of verses later it says we were enemies of God.

God loved us even as we were unlovely. That was the heart of the video we just saw. I was all those things in the video, you were all those things. But by God’s grace he loved us. We are completely forgiven, we have been brought back into a right relationship with him. God’s love is great and vast but also that it is personal ---he loves you.

“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.”
- Augustine, Bishop of Hippo

It is totally undeserved…that’s why it is called grace.

Not only does God’s love get us back into right relationship…

God’s Love brings us Forgiveness and Freedom.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9

Why do we confess our sin? Aren’t we already forgiven? Why confess.

Illustration. Lets say, hypothetically that I come home one day, go upstairs and I see a tricycle in the toilet. I know that tricycles don’t belong in the toilet. I know that I didn’t put the tricycle in the toilet. I know that my wife didn’t put the tricycle in the toilet. So I call my daughter Brenna upstairs. And I ask her the question…Did you put the tricycle in the toilet? Now why am I asking her that question? I know that she put the tricycle in the toilet. It isn’t because I need to know, but rather she needs to tell.

Remember in Genesis, the story of creation and the first man and woman, Adam and Eve. Let me set the scene… in the third chapter, after they have disobeyed God and eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God has come to have fellowship with them and this is the interchange..

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” Genesis 3:6-11

Here is the God of the universe asking questions as if he doesn’t know anything. But the issue is not that God needs to know, but rather Adam and Eve need to tell. God desires relationship. Sin damages our fellowship with him, Confession restores our fellowship with God. Our relationship with him is always secure, but our fellowship becomes affected by our sin.

What does Confession Look Like?
Most often my sin is apparent – Whack on side of the head/Kick in the seat of the pants.. But we need to also do business with God….

-Ask God to search your heart. Ps 139: 23,24
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting. – Psalm 139:23-24

-Acknowledge your sin agree with him.
-Drink afresh of the Gospel of Grace, that you are completely accepted and forgiven. Remind yourself that you are child of the King, forgiven, not condemned
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”

Does that mean we can sin it up? No, God’s love won’t let us go there.
God as loving Father will disciple us
And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”
If we are parents, we understand this! GOD WILL INTERVENE!

God’s Love Brings Freedom

This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.. – 1 John 5:3

God’s Loves frees us to obey and live for him
Jon has been talking about the heart of our God’s law for us. If we allow ourselves to be transformed by God’s love, our obedience will stem out of a heart for love. His love frees us to obey him.
If we think that God’s love is defined by the things we do (by our obedience), or don’t do,
- Then we will live by fear
- Condemnation when we fail
- Self righteousness when we succeed.
When we know that we are defined by how God sees us through his Son Jesus Christ. That we are fully loved and accepted. Not because of what we’ve done but because what Christ has done on our behalf. Obedience to God takes on a whole different essence. We don’t obey out of a sense of trying to achieve our acceptance from him. We are motivated to obey and follow him.
What does this mean???…
The application of this is everything that Jon Adam has been talking about the last couple of months. God’s law isn’t burdensome.
Knowing and experiencing the Love of God, tees up what we are going to be talking about the next several weeks, Next week we are talking about our love for one another – Provocative Community…

Prayer for the Ephesians and my pray for you and me.
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:14-19


Additional resources: Knowing God by J.I. Packer; Abba's Child by Brennan Manning; The Letters of John by John R. W. Stott

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Big Creek Greenway

Family enjoying a beautiful Saturday afternoon walk on the local trails and soaking in God's wonderful creation. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


"Signs" of an unwelcoming churchPosted by Picasa

Friday, November 04, 2005

Irresistible Evangelism

The book Irresistible Evangelism (Group Publishing) includes the story of Jan, a staffer with Athletes in Action. After attending a conference where the importance of listening to unsaved people was stressed, Jan and others were relaxing in the hotel whirlpool. Two adolescent girls joined them in the tub. One of the teens, named Brittany, began passionately telling her friend about an upcoming Wiccan gathering she was planning to attend.

Jan says: "Normally we would have tried to counter the girl's ideas, but we decided to listen instead. I said something simple like, 'Wow, you really sound excited about this!' This was all the encouragement she needed to launch into a five-minute explanation of why she was so attracted to neo-pagan rituals. The bottom line was that she'd had a really traumatic time in high school and the Wiccas accepted her. She said, "I've gone through so much crap just trying to make it through high school that I'll probably be in therapy for the rest of my life!"

"I tried to mirror back what she said with, 'It's hard for you to even imagine a future where you'd be free from all of the pain you've gone through.'

"What came next completely floored me. With a film of tears starting to form in her eyes and with complete sincerity in her voice, she said, 'Sometimes I wish I could be born all over again. I'd really like to start over from scratch.' After a long pause, my friend asked if she would really like to be born again. 'Yes, I really would,' she said."

(from Irresistible Evangelism by Steve Sjogren, Dave Ping, Doug Pollock; from PreachingToday.com by way of Leadership Weekly e-newsletter)

Thursday, November 03, 2005


It is fun to be back in the mountains again. Our family enjoyed some good time in the rolling hills and great outdoors. Posted by Picasa