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, August 30, 2009

Henri Nouwen - A Wounded Prophet

If you have never read Henri Nouwen's writings - I would encourage you to head to a Barnes and Noble or Amazon and familiarize yourself with them.

Nouwen's honesty and brokenness as he lived as God's beloved - has been food for my soul for years.

These small video excerpts are from a wonderful film called Journey of the Heart from Windborne productions. I encourage you to purchase the entire video HERE









Please support the Henri Nouwen Society and the artists who made this film by purchasing the video HERE

















Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tech Support for Dummies

(click image above to enlarge)

I am not a technical/IT guru...although many people think I am, because I know how to do more than them. But computer/IT stuff isn't my full time job and therefore my skills are pretty basic. In fact, if you ask me to help with your computer - I am mainly following this IT Cheat Sheet above.

About 90% of computer problems can be solved by following the flowchart...the other 10% can be solved by rebooting your computer.

You don't need to be a whiz-kid to be seen as the computer "go-to-guy"...you just need to look like you know what your are doing - and others will see you as an expert. :-)

(ht: xkcd)

The Folly of Prayer


Doesn't prayer often feel like that, folly? Let's be honest, if it didn't then why is prayer so difficult? We wonder, are our prayers heard? Do they really make a difference? Matt Woodley, author of Holy Fools, has just written one of the best books I've read on prayer - The Folly of Prayer.

Woodley takes, what can often be seen as the one-dimensional spiritual discipline of prayer - and showcases all of it's glorious facets. He shows all the different kinds of things that prayer looks like, from groans and wanderings to bread and wine to mystery and the most dangerous activity you can pursue.

Woodley demonstrates how these paths to prayer will open our hearts to God and to other people. What will be surprising to most readers is that the 11 paths that Woodley outlines, are deeply biblical. As you follow these paths to prayer - it will give you freedom and refreshment in how you pursue God and commune with Him.

Woodley has hit another home run with this book- as he did with Holy Fools. Get this book, read it, and let it guide you to a place that will turn this "seemingly foolish" practice of prayer into something very precious.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Prodigal God - now on DVD

I was just talking today about Keller's book, The Prodigal God - and recommending how great it is.

Now Tim Keller’s book The Prodigal God has now been produced in six DVD video sessions, which covers the following material:

  • The Parable
  • The People Around Jesus
  • The Two Lost Sons
  • The Elder Brother
  • The True Elder Brother
  • The Feast of the Father

You can get the DVD and the Discussion guide at a discount through WTS Books. You can also view some sample pages of the discussion guide here.

(ht: JHG)

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Where Wrath and Love Come Together

“On the cross the wrath and love of God are both vindicated, they are both demonstrated, they are both expressed completely, and they both shine out and are utterly fulfilled.”

- Timothy Keller, Gospel Christianity 1


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The Hole in Our Gospel



"Preach the Gospel always. Use words if necessary." - St. Francis of Assisi

Get this book! I am listing "The Hole in Our Gospel" by Richard Stearns as one of the best books I've read in 2009!

In 1998 God met Richard Stearns in a unique way as he sat in a mud hut and listened to the story of an orphaned child in Rakai, Uganda. Stearns found himself having answered God's call on his life, a call that hurtled him out of his presidential corner office at Lenox-America's finest tableware company-to this humble corner of Uganda working with World Vision.

This is a very personal book of one man's journey, story and struggle to obey God whatever the cost, and his passionate call for all Christians to change the world by actively living out their faith. According to Stearns, to which I wholeheartedly agree, we have relegated the gospel as merely a set of propositions to believe - but it is more than that. That understanding of the gospel as left us with an anemic faith and a "hole in our Gospel". Rather the gospel isn't just about the head, but must be accompanied by the heart and the hands and feet as well.

The gospel of Jesus Christ calls us to serve and help the least, the last and the lost. We are not to be just concerned about a person's soul (although their eternal destiny is very important) but also with the "whole" person.

Stearns' chapter on the systemic issues of injustice that keep people trapped in poverty - was one of the most helpful chapters to me in understanding that helping people goes way beyond giving someone some food and clothes, but rather it is going to require that we change systems and institutions that are keeping people in poverty prisons.

Again, I can't recommend this book more highly. As you read Stearns' personal journey and the stories throughout, your heart will come away - broken, convicted and committed to bringing the "Whole" gospel to those in need.

"Don't fail to do something just because you can't do everything" - Bob Pierce


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Our Hearts Are Restless Till....


Here are two wonderful prayers from St. Augustine.
Almighty God,
You have made us for yourself,
and our hearts are restless till they find rest in you.
Grant us purity of heart and strength of purpose,
that no selfish passion may hinder us from knowing your will,
and no weakness hinder us from doing it;
but that in your life we may see light,
and in your service find our perfect freedom;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. - Amen

_________________________________

You are Christ, my Holy Father, my Tender God, my Great King, my Good Shepherd, my Only Master, my Best Helper, my Most Beautiful and my Beloved, my Living Bread, my Priest Forever, my Leader to my Country, my True Light, my Holy Sweetness, my Straight Way, my Excellent Wisdom, my Pure Simplicity, my Peaceful Harmony, my Entire Protection, my Good Portion, my Everlasting Salvation.

Christ Jesus, Sweet Lord, why have I ever loved, why in my whole life have I ever desired anything except You, Jesus my God? Where was I when I was not in spirit with You? Now, from this time forth, do you, all my desires, grow hot, and flow out upon the Lord Jesus: run… you have been tardy until now; hasten where you are going; seek Whom you are seeking. O, Jesus may he who loves You not be an anathema; may he who loves You not be filled with bitterness.

O, Sweet Jesus, may every good feeling that is fitted for Your praise, love You, delight in You, adore You! God of my heart, and my Portion, Christ Jesus, may my heart faint away in spirit, and may You be my Life within me! May the live coal of Your Love grow hot within my spirit and break forth into a perfect fire; may it burn incessantly on the altar of my heart; may it glow in my innermost being; may it blaze in hidden recesses of my soul; and in the days of my consummation may I be found consummated with You!

Amen.

What happens when the church lives out the Kingdom of God?


When the church is seen to move straight from worship of the God we see in Jesus to making a difference and effecting much-needed change in the real world; when it becomes clear that the people who feast at Jesus’ table are the ones in the forefront of work to eliminate hunger and famine; when people realize that those who pray for the Spirit to work in and through them are the people who seem to have extra resources of love and patience in caring for those whose lives are damaged, bruised, and shamed; then it is not only natural to speak of Jesus himself and to encourage others to worship him for themselves and find out what belonging to his family is all about but it is also natural for people, however irreligious they may think of themselves as being, to recognize that something is going on that they want to be part of. In terms that the author of Acts might have used, when the church is living out the kingdom of God, the word of God will spread powerfully and do its own work.

- NT Wright, Surprised by Hope

(ht: Tony)

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Suffering in Africa

Here is a little perspective on the suffering men, women and children face in Africa.
Africa suffers roughly the equivalent of the 2004 tsunami every month through HIV-AIDS related deaths.
- Dr. Christopher Wright, The God I Don't Understand, p. 45

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tear Down My Idols

The dearest idol I have known,
Whatever that idol be,
Help me to tear it from thy throne,
and worship only thee…

- William Cowper, “O For a Closer Walk with Thee”

Sunday, August 02, 2009

A Dangerous Prayer



Would you be willing to pray this prayer?

(ht: Take Your Vitamin Z)