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.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Problem of Pain

Justin Taylor provides us a helpful metapost to the BeliefNet exchange on the Problem of Pain:


The discussion begins with Ehrman explaining how the problem of pain ruined his faith. Here is an excerpt to get you jump started:

For most of my life I was a devout Christian, believing in God, trusting in Christ for salvation, knowing that God was actively involved in this world. During my young adulthood, I was an evangelical, with a firm belief in the Bible as the inspired and inerrant word of God. During those years I had fairly simple but commonly held views about how there can be so much pain and misery in the world. God had given us free will (we weren't programmed like robots), but since we were free to do good we were also free to do evil—hence the Holocaust, the genocide in Cambodia, and so on. To be sure, this view did not explain all evil in the world, but a good deal of suffering was a mystery and in the end, God would make right all that was wrong.

In my mid 20s, I left the evangelical fold, but I remained a Christian for some twenty years—a God-believing, sin-confessing, church-going Christian, who no longer held to the inerrancy of Scripture but who did believe that the Bible contained God's word, trustworthy as the source for theological reflection. And the more I studied the Christian tradition, first as a graduate student in seminary and then as a young scholar teaching biblical studies at universities, the more sophisticated I became in my theological views and in my understanding of the world and our place in it.

Suffering increasingly became a problem for me and my faith. How can one explain all the pain and misery in the world if God—the creator and redeemer of all—is sovereign over it, exercising his will both on the grand scheme and in the daily workings of our lives? Why, I asked, is there such rampant starvation in the world? Why are there droughts, epidemics, hurricanes, and earthquakes? If God answers prayer, why didn't he answer the prayers of the faithful Jews during the Holocaust? Or of the faithful Christians who also suffered torment and death at the hands of the Nazis? If God is concerned to answer my little prayers about my daily life, why didn't he answer my and others’ big prayers when millions were being slaughtered by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, when a mudslide killed 30,000 Columbians in their sleep, in a matter of minutes, when disasters of all kinds caused by humans and by nature happened in the world?

Read the rest: How the Problem of Pain Ruined My Faith

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Doubts aren't merely a matter of reason

Almost everybody who doubts does so for personal reasons, mainly because they have had bad experiences with the church, Christianity or Christians. [As a Christian] you can’t just say, I’m going to give you the gospel and you’re going to hear it. You have to embody a different kind of Christianity than the one they have experienced in the past or they are simply not going to hear it.

—Tim Keller, pastor and author of The Reason for God, talking about reaching skeptics with the gospel

(ht: bpnews.net)

Oh the irony

I guess it's true that everything now is made in China:

Police in southern China have discovered a factory manufacturing Free Tibet flags, media reports say.

The factory in Guangdong had been completing overseas orders for the flag of the Tibetan government-in-exile.

Workers said they thought they were just making colorful flags and did not realize their meaning.

But then some of them saw TV images of protesters holding the
emblem and they alerted the authorities, according to Hong Kong’s Ming
Pao newspaper.

Full Article

Want to find happiness? - talk to someone over 60


It turns out the golden years really are golden. Eye-opening new research finds the happiest Americans are the oldest, and older adults are more socially active than the stereotype of the lonely senior suggests. The two go hand-in-hand: Being social can help keep away the blues.

"The good news is that with age comes happiness," said study author Yang Yang, a University of Chicago sociologist. "Life gets better in one's perception as one ages."....

....."People's social circles do tend to shrink a little as they age - that is mainly where that stereotype comes from, but that image of the isolated elderly really falls apart when we broaden our definition of what social connection is," said study co-author Benjamin Cornwell, also a University of Chicago researcher.

The research rings true for 81-year-old George O'Hare, a retired Sears manager in Willowbrook, Ill. He's active with church and AARP and does motivational speaking, too. His wife is still living, and he's close to his three sons and four grandchildren.

"I'm very happy because I've made friends that are still living," O'Hare said. "I like to go out and speak in schools about motivation."

"Happiness is getting out and being with people, and that's why I recommend it," he said.

(read the whole story here)

Elderly adults are happier because they are more likely to make the investment in relationships. More likely they are connecting with people and getting into people's lives. We too often think that happiness comes from getting the right career/job, or pulling down the 6 figures or just having all the new "toys". Wrong. Those pursuits often lead to overworking, isolation, loneliness and unhappiness.

People and relationships are those investments in our life that are seen as "important but often not urgent" (time with family and friends aren't often the things that scream the loudest) and therefore we end up forgoing that which is important to chasing all the stuff that glimmers and shines.

I've never seen on a tombstone someone put that they wished they put more hours in at the office. In the end the "stuff" that we think that is important won't really matter to us. What really matters is who we invested our live into. Don't wait until you are in your golden years to invest and pour into relationships with others. Doing it today will be happiness and fulfillment that can't be measured.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Now first the bad news!



The Christian Century has perhaps some shockingly, bad news for the church in America. . .

Every year about 3,700 churches close their doors in the US. That’s one in one hundred churches. That makes 3,700 new churches required each year in the US just to maintain the status quo—if you forget about population growth.

Of course with every piece of bad news, there must be some good news. Now for the good news — a 1% mortality rate is pretty good for an institution. Rates of closure for secular organizations are higher.

Now don't get too excited about that. Just because the church as a relatively low mortality rate doesn’t mean that the church population is particularly healthy relative to other kinds of organizations.

Whereas in other arenas the weakest organizations shut down, the weakest churches have ways of staying alive for a longer time. The churches still may exist, but they are merely on life-support. Therefore a very low mortality rate doesn’t necessarily mean a superhealthy church population.

The research reveals that up to half of the closed churches are new churches that did not survive. That’s bad news? No that’s good news!

David Olson, in his book -The American Church in Crisis, says, a “surprising fact” is that mainline churches tend to have lower closure rates than evangelical churches do. He sees an inverse correlation: the fewer churches that close, the more the denomination declines; the more churches that close, the more the denomination grows.

Go figure!

When you’ve worked it out you’ll understand the difference between a dynamic movement and a dying institution.


“The American Church in Crisis: Groundbreaking Research Based on a National Database of over 200,000 Churches” (David T. Olson)


(ht: World Changers)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Communion Meditations


At Big Creek Church we celebrate communion weekly, you can read the theological and practical reasons are from this series of posts on the Lord's Supper, part 1; part 2; part 3.

These are our communion meditations that we post on the screen to provide an opportunity of meditation and contemplation during the Lord's Supper.


I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclidean mind of man, that in the world's finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, of all the blood that they've shed; that it will make it not only possible to forgive by to justify all that has happened.
Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov (as quoted in Tim Keller's The Reason for God).

Behold, I am making all things new
Jesus, as quoted in Revelation 21:5.

This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus
the apostle Paul, Romans 3:22-24.

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.
Moses, Deuteronomy 7:9.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.2This is what the ancients were commended for.

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him
the writer of Hebrews, Hebrews 11:1-4.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double–minded man, unstable in all he does
James (the half brother of Jesus), James 1:2-8.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Facebook for Pastors


“Facebook for Pastors”

Chris Forbes is the founder of Ministry Marketing Coach has just published a new e-book entitled "Facebook for Pastors".

The e-book shows Pastors and those in ministry how to build relationships and connect with people using the most popular social network on the Internet. This 32 page e-book will help Pastors and other ministry leaders make the most of this great networking tool.

* How to make the most of your profile information

* Tips for Networking with People in Facebook

* All about groups, messages, poking, etc

* Brand Your Ministry

* Meet prospects for your church

* Learn more about the members in your church

* Fine tune your communication skills

* Testimonies from Pastors who use FaceBook

* and much more!

Get the e-book HERE


The e-book is in PDF format. Also, yours truly, has a one page testimonial in the publication on how we are using Facebook at Big Creek.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

New Prince Caspian Trailer

Enjoy! I am putting this on my must see list for the summer. It will be out in theaters on May 16, 2008


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Buford Dam

On Sunday afternoon it was a beautiful, cool spring day. And so we went down to Buford Dam to walk around and enjoy the outdoors. Buford Dam was built to form Lake Lanier.





You can see the rest of the pictures on my Facebook - HERE

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What if...?

..Homer Simpson were a real human?


He would look like this -



Disturbing, isn't it?!

(ht: Pixeloo)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Ground Breaking Video

This is our ground breaking ceremony that took place for the new church on March 30, 2008

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Star Trek and "Red Shirts" - the real truth


As you know from previous posts, I am a big Star Trek (and most sci-fi) fan.

It's a tragic tale that plays out countless times every day on re-runs of classic Star Trek. Captain Kirk & Co. beam down to an alien planet. They come under attack by some malevolent energy being or dudes in rubber suits. Security crewmen wearing red shirts get vaporized, stabbed and poisoned by booby-trapped flowers.

Being a "Red Shirt" on the USS Enterprise is one of the most dangerous jobs in any (imaginary) military. Don't believe me? SiteLogic founder Matt Bailey crunched the numbers: 13.7% of Kirk's crew died during their three-year televised mission. 73% of the deaths were Red Shirts.

What might save Red Shirts' lives?

Besides not getting involved in fights, which usually proved fatal, the crewmen could avoid beaming down to the planet's surface, which is inherent to their end. However, that could result in a court-martial for failure to obey orders.

Besides not beaming down, another factor that showed to increase the survival rate of the Red Shirts was the nature of the relationship between the alien life and Captain Kirk. When Captain Kirk meets an alien woman and "makes contact" the survival rate of the red-shirted crewmen increases by 84%. In fact, out of Captain Kirk's 24 "relationships" there were only three instances of Red-Shirt vaporization.


(ht: Wired)

I am sure that your life is better and more meaningful now that you have this information.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Tithing isn't in vogue




This week, The Barna Group published research on tithing in the United States. In 2007, 84% of U.S. adults donated money to churches or non-profit organizations, but only 5% of adults tithed.

This isn't new news.

But what's interesting is Barna’s analysis of which demographic groups tithe the most and which groups tithe the least.

Who tithes in the United States?

Religion

  • 24% of evangelicals
  • 12% of people who have prayed, read the Bible, and attended a church service during the past week
  • 11% of charismatic or Pentecostal Christians
  • 9% of all born again adults
  • 8% of Protestants
  • 2% of Catholics
  • 1% or less of atheists and agnostics

Politics

  • 12% of conservatives
  • 10% of registered Republicans
  • 1% or less of liberals

General

  • 5% of adults
  • 1% or less of downscale adults
    (
    Those whose annual household income is less than $20,000 and who have not attended college)
  • 1% or less of people under the age of 25
  • 1% or less of single adults who have never been married

What is interesting is that Catholic tithing is not much higher that the percentage of atheists and agnostics who tithe. I am not too surprised by this. Some of my Catholic friends tell me that although their parish has thousands of members, because people don't give, like they should - their church doesn't have the capacity and ability to do all that it could if the members tithed.

Here is a surprising statistic: 1 in 100 people younger than 25 tithe. And the same is true for singles who have never been married. What this tells me is that tithing has nothing to do with discretionary income. Even though young people and singles have few financial commitments and obligations, it doesn't translate into tithing.

How can a church effectively get more of its members to start tithing?

Obviously, discipleship is a factor since people who pray, read the Bible, and attend church weekly are among those most likely to pay tithes. And I think it is also vital for church leadership to communicate the importance of tithing, whether from the pulpit, small groups, or leading by example. We can't be afraid to talk about money.

One book that I would recommend concerning money and giving is Randy Alcorn - The Treasure Principle



The Seed of the Church

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"The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church" -Tertullian

Open Doors has announced the 2008 top 10 worst places to live as a Christian
They are, in order of infamy:

1. North Korea
2. Saudi Arabia
3. Iran
4. Maldives
5. Bhutan
6. Yemen
7. Afghanistan
8. Laos
9. Uzbekistan
10. China

The annual country persecution list ranked North Korea in the No 1 spot for the sixth year in a row.

In North Korea, considered by many the world’s most repressive regime, citizens are strictly banned from worshipping any other gods beside those enforced in the state religion – a personality cult revolving around current dictator Kim Jong Il, and his deceased father, Kim Il Sung.

Moreover, Christianity is considered a serious threat to the regime’s power and there are many reports of Christians being publicly executed, tortured or imprisoned indefinitely simply because of their faith.

It is estimated that there are up to 400,000 to 500,000 believers secretly practising their faith in North Korea. At least a quarter of the Christians are imprisoned for their faith in political prison camps, from which people rarely get out alive.

In second place is the kingdom of Saudi Arabia where fundamentalist Wahabbi Islam dominates society and oppresses believers. Under the kingdom’s strict interpretation of Islamic law, apostasy (conversion to another religion) is punishable by death.

Following close behind in third is Middle East neighbour Iran. Although Christians are officially recognised as a religious minority, believers regularly face discrimination and persecution.

Islam is the predominant religion in six of the top 10 countries: Saudi Arabia, Iran, Maldives, Afghanistan, Yemen and Uzbekistan.

Three of the top 10 countries – North Korea, Laos and China – have communist governments.

Bhutan is the only Buddhist country on the list.

Source: Christianity Today

(ht: The Religious Write)

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Extinction of the Christian Bookstore?


I have to admit -I have contributed to the demise of the Christian bookstore. I rarely buy my books from a Christian bookstore anymore.

Most of the times I buy my books at either at a seminary bookstore or Amazon.com. The reason that I don't frequent Christian bookstores is because they don't stock good, sound theological books. In fact nowadays they have very few books at all. Most of the time their shelves are filled with Christian kitsch and Jesus Junk. I hate to sound so harsh because I know many people depend on their livelihood in this industry.

Christianity Today recently looked at the issues:

How to Save the Christian Bookstore

Closing Down the Bookstore

Bringing the Bookstore to Church

Inside CT: Rescuing Bookstores

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Don't Judge This Movie By It's Cover


Perhaps this weekend you will be browsing the local movie rental store looking for a DVD to rent. Consider renting a movie called Lars and the Real Girl.

But before you rent it (or add it to your Netflix queue) you need to read my comprehensive review of the film at Christ and Pop Culture.

Here is my review at Christ and Pop Culture

Expelled Movie

Ben Stein's “EXPELLED” opens on 1,000 movie screens this Friday, April 18!

This movie is getting some people fired up.

  • Ben Stein is being called both “an idiot” and “a genius”

A lot of this information is from the Expelled movie site and I am not sure yet how much this movie is going to impact the cultural conversation. Right now there is a lot of hype surrounding the movie - so time will tell how much much this movie is going to get people talking. But nevertheless, I am interested in going to see it, because the subject matter has always interested me, ever since I read Phillip Johnson's book, "Darwin on Trial".

Check HERE to see where EXPELLED is playing near you.


Here is the EXPELLED Trailer:


Here is an interview with Ben Stein and R.C. Sproul:

Vacation Pictures

Here are some pictures of our vacation this past week. We had an awesome time and a very busy week. Here are some highlights.

We visited Lauren's parents in Leesburg, FL.
Saw my parents one afternoon over in Sanford, FL
Went to Disney's Animal Kingdom - our favorite park
Went to Boma's restaurant at the Animal Kingdom Lodge - the best restaurant at the Disney parks.
Spent an afternoon at Downtown Disney and ate lunch at Rainforest cafe.
While in Orlando, stayed at the Wycliffe Bible Translator's apartment housing - awesome deal for people in ministry.
Visited our friends church before we left. Scott Puckett and Christ Kingdom Church
My wife attended a 3 day women's conference called Synergy - she had an awesome time.



See the rest of the pictures on my Facebook site.

CLICK HERE

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

N.T. Wright comes to Atlanta


If you are in the Atlanta area, you may want to put this in your calendar. Hope to see you there.

N.T. Wright at Emory University

April 23, 2008
at 7:30pm. White Hall 208
Bishop of Durham, Church of England. Theologian and New Testament Scholar.

Bishop Wright is one of today's best know and respected New Testament scholars. Before becoming Bishop of Durham, he taught New Testament studies for twenty years at Cambridge, McGill and Oxford Universities. Wright has written over thirty books, both at the scholarly level and for a popular audience. His most recent books include Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense and Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church.

(more info at Veritas.org)

FREE is my favorite Flavor!

WiseBread blog has a great overview of all the opportunities to get FREE ice cream. I scream! You scream! We all scream for ice cream!

Ben and Jerry’s Free Scoop Day – It’s that time of year again! Free Cone Day is on April 29th this year, and I’m all in! Check the Ben and Jerry’s website for the list of participating shops in your area.

Haagen-Dazs Free Scoop Day - To celebrate their new flavor, Vanilla Honey Bee, they are offering a free scoop of the stuff at participating locations on May 13th! Mark your calendars!

Cold Stone Creamery’s Birthday Club – This Caloric treat is one of my faves. Sign up for their Birthday Club to get free ice cream on your birthday. You can start planning how you’ll make your Cold Stone Creation now, and be ready for that special day!

Baskin-Robbins 31 Cent Promotion – OK. So it’s not free. But 31 pennies for a small scoop ain’t bad, and the proceeds go to a really good cause. Check the website to see how this deal on April 30th can help America’s firefighters and to find a location near you. (Baskin-Robbins also has a Birthday Club, so sign up if you want to double-dip on deals.)

Blue Bunny iScream Team – Sign up to get the iScream Team Newsletter, and be the first to hear about promotions, contests, and stellar coupons. I have been a member for over a year, and I have enjoyed the occasional free product with much enjoyment. You also get the chance to provide feedback on Blue Bunny’s tasty treats. (Sampling opportunities are available in many parts of the country.)

Edy’s Slow-Churned Neighborhood SaluteThis freebie is actually a contest, but the prizes are plentiful, and the goods are to die for! From now until May 30th, just tell Edy’s why your neighborhood deserves a party, and you’re in the running to win one of 1,500 prize packs that include 12 cartons of ice cream delivered to your door and enough party supplies for 100 people (includes bowls, spoons, napkins, and tons of other promotional stuff!) See a sneak peak at the prizes HERE. I’ve known folks who have won in past years, and it is an awesome way to share your love of ice cream with your friends and family!

However you decide to fulfill your ice cream desires -- do it slowly. You don’t want to get a headache!

(ht: Wise Bread)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

10 Ideas That Are Changing the World


According to the editors of TIME, more than money, more than politics, ideas are the secret power that this planet runs on. Check out their list of ideas that they feel are changing the world.

Take note of the last idea of Re-Judaizing Jesus.


(ht: TIME)


Deadliest Catch Begins Tonight


Who would of thunk it? A show about catching crab would be so fascinating! Our family has watched this show from the very beginning, and we have been "hooked" ever since. If you haven't seen it yet, it is worth checking out tonight at 9pm on the Discovery Channel.

Here is a preview...

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Provocative Vulnerability

I am currently on vacation. Therefore I have automatically scheduled posts throughout the week that are the "Best of Provocative Church". These are the posts in the last 90 days that, according to Google, have been read the most on the blog.

If you are new to the blog, I hope you will enjoy some of these posts from the past. If you have been a long time reader of the blog, I trust you'll appreciate seeing again some of your favorite posts.


Being honest and vulnerable with others is tough. It is especially tough if you are ministry. But I have experienced the best kind of ministry when I have allowed people into my life in real and honest ways. That is why I appreciated Mark Batterson's thoughts on the necessity of pastors to be vulnerable, honest and real with those in the church. In Mark Batterson's blog, Evotional.com he shared 10 Thoughts on Vulnerability in Ministry.

(READ THE REST OF THE POST - CLICK HERE)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Are you Connected?

I am currently on vacation. Therefore I have automatically scheduled posts throughout the week that are the "Best of Provocative Church". These are the posts in the last 90 days that, according to Google, have been read the most on the blog.

If you are new to the blog, I hope you will enjoy some of these posts from the past. If you have been a long time reader of the blog, I trust you'll appreciate seeing again some of your favorite posts.


I live and minister in one of the busiest communities in the United States. North Atlanta is a rat race. Everyone is going on with their life at nearly 120 miles per hour with their hair on fire. People's schedules are super packed. Everyone seems to be pushed to the limit with time, energy and resources. People's lives are isolated, walled-off and lonely.

In light of that, I am not surprised that the biggest cry I hear in the church is "I'm not Connected".

If that is you, or if someone you know says that to you, let me gently counsel you and give you some help in addressing this issue.

(READ THE REST OF THE POST - CLICK HERE)

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Provocative Coffee Art

I am currently on vacation. Therefore I have automatically scheduled posts throughout the week that are the "Best of Provocative Church". These are the posts in the last 90 days that, according to Google, have been read the most on the blog.

If you are new to the blog, I hope you will enjoy some of these posts from the past. If you have been a long time reader of the blog, I trust you'll appreciate seeing again some of your favorite posts.

You know that I am coffee lover and I have posted on this before...but I couldn't resist posting these picture that my mom sent me from a restaurant in Vancouver that dresses up the lattes.

It is amazing what can be done with coffee, cream, milk & some imagination. These look too good to drink!


(SEE THE REST OF THE PICTURES - CLICK HERE)

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

How to use Christian Code

I am currently on vacation. Therefore I have automatically scheduled posts throughout the week that are the "Best of Provocative Church". These are the posts in the last 90 days that, according to Google, have been read the most on the blog.

If you are new to the blog, I hope you will enjoy some of these posts from the past. If you have been a long time reader of the blog, I trust you'll appreciate seeing again some of your favorite posts.


The following is a list of phrases which are considered "Christian Code". I know that this list may sound a little cynical, but understand that this meant to be humorous, but also consider that within all humor there is always a kernel of truth. For those unfamiliar with what the code language is, below you'll find a helpful "Christian Code" lexicon so that you can find out what your Christian friend is really saying to you. I got this from Mark Waltz's blog and he got it from someone else as well, so no one seems to know who created this, but whoever did, they did a great job. (READ THE REST)

Monday, April 07, 2008

Provocative Oprah post

I am currently on vacation. Therefore I have automatically scheduled posts throughout the week that are the "Best of Provocative Church". These are the posts in the last 90 days that, according to Google, have been read the most on the blog.

If you are new to the blog, I hope you will enjoy some of these posts from the past. If you have been a long time reader of the blog, I trust you'll appreciate seeing again some of your favorite posts.

Is Oprah the next Billy Graham?


Here is my new article at Christ and Pop Culture.

You can read it here

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Going on Vacation


Beginning today and for an entire week I will be on vacation. I have automatically scheduled posts throughout the week that are the "Best of Provocative Church". These are the posts in the last 90 days that, according to Google, have been read the most on the blog.

If you are new to the blog, I hope you will enjoy some of these posts from the past. If you have been a long time reader of the blog, I trust you'll appreciate seeing again some of your favorite posts.

Charlton Heston dies

A favorite actor of mine, has died at the age of 84. One of my favorite movies is Planet of the Apes and of course Heston was awesome in it. He was definitely a legend.

Read Story Here

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Blogging can kill you

Yikes, read this article from the New York Times

Information Overload

Here again is a lot of good material throughout the week that I've come across. I feel the need to share some of the good stuff with you since I don't have time to comment on it throughout the blog.

This stuff shows up in my Google RSS Reader throughout the week and I use the widget from my "shared items" in my Google Reader to post the most interesting information that I've gathered from the web. Enjoy some fun, entertaining and provocative reading. (my shared items have their own individual rss feed that you can subscribe to directly)

If Jesus never showed up, would anyone notice?


About a year ago I read the book, Organic Church, by Neil Cole. Todd Hiestand reminded me of a section from the book from a posting on his blog. When I went back to look at this quote and reflect on it, it hit me right between the eyes.

Neil asks a very provocative question,

“Our churches should allow Jesus to be the leader on our team and set expectations accordingly. Someone might say, ‘Well of course we recognize Jesus is on board; it is assumed.’ But the real test is if you conduct ministry business expecting Jesus to carry the load - to carry the team. Or do you practice church as though Jesus doesn’t need to do anything, and everything is done for Him instead of by Him?”

Later in the book, Neil writes about this issue again,

“We must trust God to do His part. We must be willing to place ourselves in a position where, if He does not show up, we will be seen as complete fools. Most churches have not been willing to take that risk.”

So, if Jesus never showed up in your church or ministry, would anyone notice?

Last Sunday we celebrated our ground breaking for the new church. This facility, that is designed to "facilitate" ministry into the community, won't happen unless Jesus shows up. Jesus must truly carry the load. Without Him, this whole project is utter foolishness and is doomed to failure.

(thank Todd and Neil for a good reminder)

Friday, April 04, 2008

Has Bill O’Reilly Overstayed His Welcome?

Chicken Fried Bacon

You can actually hear your arteries harden as you watch this video.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Spiritual Menu

Hotel Preston in Nashville has added a new twist to the trend of merely removing Bibles from hotel rooms by replacing Bibles with “spiritual menus” in all its guest rooms. The menus will invite guests to call room service to order their religious book of choice. Choices include the Quran, The Book of Mormon, the Torah, books on Scientology and the Bible.

Dr. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary wrote on his blog that the growing absence of Bibles from hotel rooms speaks to the secularization, sexualization and extreme sensitivities of the culture.

“The fact is that many persons have come to faith in Jesus Christ by reading a Bible supplied to their hotel room by the Gideons,” he wrote. “Many others have turned to the Bible when in crisis. Some have even decided against suicide when they read from the Gideons Bible.”

(ht: Citizen Link)

Blue Like Jazz coming to theater near you!


Christianity Today (CT) has an interview posted with Steve Taylor, director of the upcoming Blue Like Jazz movie. Apparently the screen play is finished, with input from Donald Miller, and production starts in May. The movie should arrive sometime in the first half of 2009.

Perhaps you know or remember Taylor's last directing project, The Second Chance, starring Michael W. Smith. In this new movie Taylor wants Tim Keller to make a cameo in the film - apparently Taylor is a big fan and has heard just about every Tim Keller sermon.

I must confess I am dubious on how this book is going to translate into a movie. My advice, don't wait for the movie, but rather definitely read the book if you haven't already.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Bible and Money


Seven Deadly Signs of Financial Bondage

This is one of my guest posts over at freemoneyfinance

Divorce statistics - fact or fiction?


50 percent of all marriages end in divorce, whether you're a Christian or not. False.

I've heard this statistic as long as I can remember. But those statics are skewed and over the years it has become an urban legend.

Some explanations of why this myth has perpetuated account for the fact that when you look at the sheer number of marriages and divorces in a single year, there's a virtual two-to-one ratio. The problem is, however, this doesn't factor in all the millions of marriages still existing.

The Barna Group's latest study echoes this with a relatively small sampling of 5,000-plus Americans. Thirty-three percent of those polled had been divorced at least once. Among born-again Christians, that rate essentially remained the same (32 percent), while for evangelicals it dipped slightly (26 percent). Is this difference enough to prove that a walk with God automatically makes you divorce-proof? Of course not. But it also echoes the fact that significantly less—about half, in fact—people are getting divorced than what you hear.

(ht: barna.org)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Evangelicals to get our own Pope







Here is some breaking news. I’m sure you’ve heard by now, but voting for the new Evangelical Pope (or ePope) is underway. Jump over to Hope Waves on the Shore of My Soul to read more details.

Here are a few excerpts from this article:

Exactly one year ago, frustrated evangelical leaders joined together to brainstorm ways in which to tackle the problems of divisions they have been facing in their churches. The solution?

A heavy dose of rigid church hierarchy. Most notably the appointment of what’s being dubbed the ePope.

Spiritual guide Joel Osteen had this to say, “I just wish people could get along. There’s so much positivity the church could be getting out there if we could just put on a happy smile, join hands, and pass the collection plate.”

The vote details a few additional measures like eBishops and the disbanding of the Emergent church. Bill Hybels, CEO of Willow Creek mentioned, “With this synergistic structure, paradigms will start shifting so fast we’ll have begin re-leveraging our real estate resources.”

Front runners for the ePope include Saddleback’s Rick Warren, Brian McLaren and—as a cursory nod to the past—Billy Graham. There was also mention of Shane Claibourne but it was met with derisive laughter and a few concerned shouting, “That sissy would make us give away our money!”

Rob Bell was not invited to attend.

(HT: Evangelicalism to Get its Own Pope)