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.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

They Call it "Black" Friday for a Reason!



Black Friday.

It's called that for a reason-Black Friday darkens the soul of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving, which is a holiday to remember and reflect on God's blessings is followed by a ritual that turns normal, respectable people into something resembling Lord of the Flies. 

Disgust. Embarrassment. Anger. Disappointment. Sadness.

These are some of the emotions that I experience every year when I see people on the evening news as they  are filmed piling into the stores early Friday morning. All week before Thanksgiving, I see the hype. I can't ignore the television commercials that tell everyone that we need to wake up early Friday morning to take advantage of the unprecedented savings. "Run, don't walk!" is the mantra of every television commercial and newspaper insert. If I hurry, stores will happily open early (some as early as 4am!!) so that I can take advantage of buying their cheap crap now.

What continues to amaze me is that this ritual gets bigger and bigger every year.  Every year the local news camera's get in place to capture all the action. Reporters are sent to the stores. It becomes a big party, the stores stoke a carnival-like atmosphere.

But nothing changes, I see the same thing every year -people pushing, running and screaming. People pushing over their fellow man in order to save $20 on a digital camera, or $50 on an Mp3 player or 1/2 off the latest GPS system.  Sure the savings are good, But at what cost?

Here, I believe, are a couple of the costs:

People sacrifice their time. Thanksgiving is a time for family. It is a time for reflection and giving thanks. Thanksgiving is a time to look beyond one's self and give thanks to God, our wonderful creator and source of all blessings. In contrast, Black Friday is all about self.

Many of these sales demand that if you want to save you have to be there early. And can you believe it!?-The stores are now opening as early as 4am. But, then of course, you need to get there even earlier in order to secure your place in line. I've read stories of people leaving Thanksgiving evening to spend all night in line. People sacrifice their sleep. They take time away from their families and from their homes. Family members split up to divide and conquer in order to maximize the amount of stores they can visit.  Some families approach this shopping day with more planning and preparation than the Allies did for D-Day.

People sacrifice their dignity. Every year I feel the craziness and energy come through the television as I watch people shove and squeeze their way through the small, narrow portal doors of large department stores. People get worked up into a feeding frenzy. All social considerations are thrown out the window. No more is it women and children first, rather it is every man for himself.

Other people are to be seen as important and valuable and to be treated with kindness and consideration. But not on Black Friday. Black Friday says that people are obstacles who are now in my way of getting the $500 LCD flat panel big screen T.V. If you have to trample over someone's fallen body, then DO IT! If you have to throw an elbow in order to grab a Nintendo Wii, then DO IT! Do whatever it takes because they don't call this day Black Friday for nothing. Disgusting!

People sacrifice their souls. Is this what we are? Is who I am defined as merely being a consumer. Is that my sole identity? Is that my sole purpose? NO, God tells us that we are more than consumers. Our purpose goes well beyond mere consumption. We are to glorify God and enjoy Him forever (Westminster Shorter Catechism question #1)

Look!-let it be known that I like getting a good deal more than anyone. I rarely buy anything full price and will often wait for something to go on sale. But what I am angry about is how many of us are being led around by the nose by these stores and their contrived, manufactured sales.

They create artificial scarcity to build up need and angst. They manufacture hype and buzz. They tell us that we need to be there. They tell us we need to sacrifice everything to get it, our time, dignity and soul. And in return they will sell us stuff, already marked up 400%+, at a token discount, letting us believe that we smartest and luckiest people in the whole world.

STOP THE MADNESS!!!

I would encourage you to choose not to take part in this ritual.  Sleep in and use the time on Friday to rest and rejuvenate.  Enjoy the time with your family.  Continue, from Thanksgiving day, to remember your blessings.  Your life can feel frantic every other day of the year, why make this day like all the rest.




(this post adapted from a previous post at Provocative Church on Black Friday)

Happy Thanksgiving


Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation

Every year, I re-read Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation.  It is a great reminder of the heart of the holiday that we come together to observe and celebrate as a country.

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

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Separated by Birth

Here are a couple of church leaders that are separated by birth from some famous Hollywood stars.

Tim "the Toolman" Allen and Joel Osteen


Patrick Stewart and Tim Keller


(ht: Skye)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

E.T. Phone Rome



Four hundred years after it locked up Galileo for challenging the view that the Earth was the center of the universe, the Vatican has called in experts to study the possibility of extraterrestrial alien life and its implication for the Catholic Church. (read entire article HERE)

The Vatican's chief astronomer says believing in aliens does not contradict faith in God.  In an interview, the Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes said:
"How can we rule out that life may have developed elsewhere?" Just as we consider earthly creatures as 'a brother,' and 'sister,' why should we not talk about an 'extraterrestrial brother'? It would still be part of creation."
There is even now a branch of theology that some are calling Exotheology (theology of outer space)These discussions about religion and extraterrestrial life even go back to a 1978 article in Time magazine.
Major religious thinkers have yet to give serious attention to the issues posed by what some call "exotheology" (the theology of outer space). Perhaps they are waiting for the first UFOs to land, but more likely they suppose that ultimately the discovery of other beings makes no difference. Even if the visitors turned out to look like bug-eyed monsters or gelatinous blobs, such species might serve to enlarge the vision of the Creator's creativity. To theologians the "image of God," after all, does not refer to the type of body that characterizes Homo sapiens but to the intellect and spirit that reside therein.

No less orthodox an author than the late Cambridge Don C.S. Lewis was untroubled by the prospect of life elsewhere. Writing in the Christian Herald two decades ago, he saw no reason why the eternal Son of God could not also have been incarnate in other worlds, or why God could not devise a totally different form of redemption. Lewis also predicted that if life ever were found elsewhere, every one would find new arguments for beliefs they already held.

There has always been a fascination with aliens and the idea that we are not alone.  But do you think Christian theology has anything to speak on this issue?  Does the idea of extra-terrestrial life undercut mankind's position as made in the image of God?

Certainly a resurgence of interest of extraterrestrials visiting our planet has renewed by the new T.V. series, "V"




I think that ultimately the desire to look up into the heavens to find signs of intelligent life is our deep need to know that we are not alone. But we don't need to look light years away to know that. God came near to us, through His son Jesus...and our search for meaning and purpose in the universe need not go any farther

Monday, November 02, 2009

Divine Communion


“When we invite friends for a meal, we do much more than offer them food for their bodies. We offer friendship, fellowship, good conversation, intimacy, and closeness. When we say: “Help yourself … take some more … don’t be shy … have another glass,” we offer our guests not only our food and our drink but also ourselves. A spiritual bond grows, and we become food and drink for one another other.

In the most complete and perfect way, this happens when Jesus gives himself to us in the Eucharist as food and drink. By offering us his Body and Blood, Jesus offers us the most intimate communion possible. It is a divine communion.”
-Henri Nouwen

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Information Overload

Too much stuff, so little time. 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)