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.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Gospel Repentance

“Legalistic remorse says, ‘I broke God’s rules,’ while real repentance says, ‘I broke God’s heart.’ Legalistic repentance takes sin to Mt. Sinai, gospel repentance to Mt. Calvary. Legalistic repentance is convicted by punishment, gospel repentance becomes convicted by mercy.”

- Timothy Keller, Church Planter Manual





(ht: First Importance)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Stop the Insanity!!!!


What is happening in our country? Have we lost our soul? Is buying a bunch of crap and hunting for deals so important on "Black Friday" that shoppers would trample someone to death?

Here’s a tragic Wal-Mart stampede that left one worker dead and got several people (including a pregnant woman) injured:

The Black Friday stampede plunged the Valley Stream outlet into chaos, knocking several employees to the ground and sending others scurrying atop vending machines to avoid the horde. [...]

"He was bum-rushed by 200 people," said Wal-Mart worker Jimmy Overby, 43. "They took the doors off the hinges. He was trampled and killed in front of me. "They took me down, too … I didn’t know if I was going to live through it. I literally had to fight people off my back," Overby said.

Damour, a temporary maintenance worker from Jamaica, Queens, was gasping for air as shoppers continued to surge into the store after its 5 a.m. opening, witnesses said.

Even officers who arrived to perform CPR on the trampled worker were stepped on by wild-eyed shoppers streaming inside, a cop at the scene said.

"They pushed him down and walked all over him," Damour’s sobbing sister, Danielle, 41, said. "How could these people do that?

If that’s not bad enough, even after being told that someone was killed, they kept on shopping! And when the police had to vacant the store because it was a crime scene, one woman refused to leave until she left with what she came there to buy!

Here is the Link (with video tape of the stampede)

Related Post:

My last year post on Black Friday: Stop the Madness!

(ht: Neatorma)

Happy Birthday Jack


You can view C.S. Lewis' bio at Theopedia.

BILLY - The early years


As a companion book to the soon to be released movie Billy, McKay and Abraham write a compelling story of the early years of the world's best known Evangelist and Christian Statesman.

Billy covers Billy Graham's life and ministry up until the now famous Los Angeles Crusades that launched him into the national spotlight and made him the household word he is today. The book covers Billy's journey that brought him to that pivotal time in his life, his conversion, his journey through several Bible schools and his relationship with Ruth.

But it is Billy's relationship with former evangelist Charles Templeton that drives the story forward. The story of Billy Graham is told through the eyes and perspective of Charles Templeton, and old friend and fellow evangelist with Billy Graham. Charles, while ill in the hospital, recounts the story of Billy to a visiting reporter.

While Billy Graham lived in mere obscurity, Charles Templeton was one of the most charismatic and famous evangelist of the time. Most people at the time expected Templeton's popularity and influence to only increase. But as Billy's star rose and his popularity grew, Charles began to spiral into a crisis of faith. This book illustrates not only Billy's faith and call to ministry but does so against the contrasting backdrop of Templeton's life, ministry and eventual fall into agnosticism.

I found Billy to be a delight to read. The author's were able to portray this iconic figure with all of his humanity in tact. It was easy to discover within the pages of the book that Billy, was a real person, with real dreams and challenges, but who was willing to do and go where the Lord called him. Billy's call as an evangelist wasn't clear from the very beginning. Billy, a boy who wanted to be a baseball player, who then thought he would be a pastor and then seminary president, found himself thrust into the world as one of the most influential evangelists that the world has ever seen.

Even if you think you know about the life of Billy Graham, this book adds another dimension to understanding this amazing man of God.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Jesus was truly Free!

“Jesus was truly free. His freedom was rooted in his spiritual awareness that he was the Beloved Child of God. He knew in the depth of his being that he belonged to God before he was born, that he was sent into the world to proclaim God’s love, and that he would return to God after his mission was fulfilled. This knowledge gave him the freedom to speak and act without having to please the world and the power to respond to people’s pains with the healing love of God. That’s why the Gospels say, ‘Everyone in the crowd was trying to touch him because power came out of him that cured them all!’”
- Henri Nouwen


(ht: JR)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving


Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation

Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation that follows is taken from the collection of Lincoln's papers in the Library of America series, Vol II, pp. 520-521.


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, tranquility and Union.

Abraham Lincoln

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Frozen Chosen

And now for some light-hearted fare:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Big News!


This is probably one of the hardest blog posts that I've ever had to write. As of November 30th my relationship with The Vine Community Church with discontinue and I will no longer be serving on the staff and be a pastor at The Vine.

Certainly it has been a tough and difficult time having to leave a position with a church that has truly been a real "family" for me, my wife and children. Yet, the reason for moving on is necessary and pragmatic.

Currently our church desperately needs a person with different skill sets to fulfill several key roles and responsibilities at the church. These critical roles need to be filled before our move into our new facility in August. And because of the financial situation brought on by our economy, this situation is exasperated because there aren't enough funds to keep me on and bring another person onto the team-therefore I am being swapped out.

As you read this, would you pray for me and my family? And please add us to your prayer list during this time.

During this transition we are exploring and entertaining different opportunities that the Lord may put in our path and send in our direction.

Also, in the transition period, I will be leveraging my 20+ years of ministry experience and expertise to do some ministry consulting through my association with Ministry Best Practices.

Of course, I will continue to blog here at Provocative Church sharing my learnings, thoughts and spiritual journey with you all.











Sunday, November 09, 2008

Who are we attracting?


Jesus' teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church. That can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did. If our churches aren't appealing to younger brothers, they must be more full of elder brothers than we'd like to think.

Tim Keller in The Prodigal God, 14-15

Faith

“Faith is transferring your trust from your own efforts to the efforts of Christ. You were relying on other things to make you acceptable, but now you consciously begin relying on what Jesus did for your acceptance with God. All you need is nothing. If you think, ‘God owes me something for all my efforts,’ you are still on the outside.”

- Timothy Keller, How Can I Know God?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Voting Today

Free Stuff on Voting Day!


Starbucks: Giving away a free tall coffee to people with proof of voting (or a pledge of having voted)

Krispy Kreme: Giving away free star-shaped donuts with red, white and blue sprinkles (while supplies last) to people with an "I voted" sticker all day

Ben & Jerry's: Giving away a free scoop in any flavor from 5pm to 8pm to anyone who says they voted.

Free 3 pc. Chicken tenders, fries and a drink for voters - Shanes Rib Shack - Nov. 4

Free cup of Joe from Books A Million for voting

Monday, November 03, 2008

Take the voting test


If you have been encouraged to either become worried, afraid, concerned, prepared for disaster, and concerned about a whole host of other maladies if your candidate doesn't win, then take this test.

This test is not to deny the importance of this election, but it seems that no matter what the outcome, we need a dose of perspective. So here, on the eve of the election, take this “True/False” test.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, Jesus will still be King.
True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, our responsibilities as Christians will not have changed one iota.
True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, the greatest agent for social change in America will still be winning the hearts and minds of men and women through the gospel, not legislation.
True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, my primary citizenship will still be in this order – (1) the Kingdom of God, (2) America, not vice-versa.
True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, the tomb will still be empty.
True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, the cross, not the government, will still be our salvation.
True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, our children will still be more concerned with whether or not we spend time with them than with who is President.
True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, my neighbor will still be my neighbor, and loving him/her will still be the second greatest commandment. (Do you know the first?)
True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, my retirement will still not match my treasure in Heaven.
True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, “Jesus Is Lord” will still be the greatest truth in the Universe.
True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, we will still know that God is in control.

How did you score?