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, July 31, 2011

Jesus and the Unfolding Drama


“The Christian faith is gospel-driven at its core, with an unfolding drama from Genesis to Revelation. Far from a catalogue of eternal principles and timeless truths, the Bible is proclaimed by the apostles as the history of God’s redemptive purposes. There is genuine movement from creation to the fall to the long and often winding path from the promise of a redeemer to its fulfillment in Jesus Christ.”

— Michael Horton The Gospel Commission

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Burning ‘Nasty’ Bits of Bible Not Sin, Welsh Priest Says


A vicar in Wales has outraged his church authorities by refusing to make an apology a week after he burned pages from the King James Version Bible which he said portrayed God as “cruel and vile.”

“The passages I cut out [and later burned] referred to the wrath of God, a God who killed millions of people in a vengeful, spiteful way,” the Rev. Geraint ap Iorwerth, the vicar of St. Peter ad Vincula Church in the town of Machynlleth, told Walesonline Saturday.

The charred remains were “a memorial to the millions whose lives have been destroyed as a result of the cruelty of this kind of God and his followers,” the 60-year-old priest was quoted as saying.

Full Article

What the vicar fails to understand are several facts.
  • Our sin and rebellion is so heinous toward a holy God it deserves His wrath.
  • God in His wonderful mercy, sent He only begotten Son, Jesus, to satisfy that wrath by dying on the cross.

God isn't cruel and vile - our sin is.  Rather God is rich in mercy in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

(ht: Bag of Nothing)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Blue Like Jazz The Movie


Blue Like Jazz the Movie's Official Teaser Trailer (by BlueLikeJazzTheMovie). I’m really interested to see how this movie by Steve Taylor translates Don Miller’s very thought provoking book.

Marriage Problem in U.S. Culture Isn’t "Gay Marriage"


New York has become the latest state to legalize gay marriage.  And although it is understandable and reasonable to be deeply concerned, as Christians, toward this growing trend of acceptance within our culture of these marriages - the deeper issues lie elsewhere.

Gabe Lyons says that we miss the point if our outrage is directed entirely at gay marriage, when in fact the deeper cultural corrosive toward marriage has been the licentious sexual views and behaviors that have been going on outside of marriage for years.

Below is an overview of Gabe's comments in the Christian Post:

Gabe Lyons, author of The Next Christians, said the degrading health of traditional marriage, thanks to the hook-up culture and other maladies, was a far bigger problem for America than a possible proliferation of same-sex marriage legalization.

“Christians need to be having rigorous, civil dialogues about marriage and sexuality that go beyond the issues of same-sex relationships,” Lyons wrote in an article published in The Huffington Post Sunday, the day New York’s gay marriage law came into force.

The young evangelical leader pointed out that shame no longer kept divorce and infidelity from being “commonplace fixtures” in American culture. “This degradation of marriage is due, not to the 2.8 percent of those who identify as LGBT in our society, but to the heterosexuals with spoiled marriages and the increasingly popular hook-up culture in the younger generation.”

Lyons articulated what appeared to be the key point of his article by quoting Dr. Robert George of Princeton University: “The problem with marriage in our culture isn’t same-sex marriage. It lies in heterosexual sexual activity in and outside of marriage.”

( Read the rest in the Christian Post)

What To Say When You Are About to Die for Christ?

“I do not need to plead my own cause … I am a dead man already. My life is dead and hidden with Christ. It is your lives that in danger, you are dead in your sins. I will pray to God that after you have killed me, He will spare you from eternal destruction.
- Kefa Sempangi, facing 5 would be assassins in Idi Amin’s Uganda

(ht: Trevin)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Are Christians Warming Up To The Wizard?


This past month the last of the Harry Potter movies opened in theaters and during it's opening weekend it broke all box office records. But have you noticed over the past couple of years that the criticism of Harry Potter within Christian circles has died down quite a bit?  I remember when the movies started to be released, churches were distributing articles in front of the movie theater on how Harry Potter was linked to drawing children into Satanism (little did the church understand that the article was a spoof from the Onion)

In Sarah Pulliam Bailey’s recent column in the Wall Street Journal she has been observing much of the same development of tolerance within Christian circles

She writes:
In its early years, “Harry Potter” was a litmus test of orthodoxy for some conservative Christians, who expressed concern over its portrayal of witchcraft. A Christian lawyer sued a public library for encouraging young readers to check out the series. Texas Pastor John Hagee called the books a “precursor to witchcraft.” In 2005 a Canadian website published a letter opposing the books written by Pope Benedict XVI when he was Cardinal Ratzinger. (In 2009, the Vatican’s newspaper L’Osservatore Romano published a favorable review, seeming to reverse course on the series.)

The hysteria has largely died down, and not many religious leaders asked their flocks to avoid the final movie, which opens today. Potter observers cite a few possible reasons for the waning concern, including a natural desire to move on to other entertainment issues, but also an interest in the themes that unfolded.
Pulliam Bailey also reminds us that Ms Rowling identifies herself as a Christian who was widely influenced by writers such as C.S. Lewis. Rowling even said, “To me, the religious parallels have always been obvious…But I never wanted to talk too openly about it, because I thought it might show people who just wanted the story where we were going.”

Have you noticed that the tone toward Harry Potter has changed over the last decade?  What are  your thoughts?

God's Covenant Promise


A beautiful double rainbow.

I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. - Genesis 9:11-13

(photo: Karan4o)

Seven Kinds of Prayer to Soak Our Bible Reading


From Ed's blog, quoting John Piper:

In 1998, John Piper preached a message, 'Open My Eyes That I May See,' based on Psalm 119:17-24. In that message he mentions seven kinds of prayer to 'soak' our reading of Scripture.

Seven Kinds of Prayer to Soak our Bible Reading
But since our text is Psalm 119:18, 'Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law,' we should let this psalmist show us how he prays more generally about his reading of the Word of God. So let me close with a little tour of Psalm 119, and show you seven kinds of prayer with which you can soak your Bible reading this year.

We should pray . . .
1. That God would teach us his Word. Psalm 119:12b, 'Teach me Your statutes.' (See also verses 33, 64b, 66, 68b, 135). True learning of God's Word is only possible if God himself becomes the teacher in and through all other means of teaching.

2. That God would not hide his Word from us. Psalm 119:19b, 'Do not hide Your commandments from me.' The Bible warns of the dreadful chastisement or judgment of the Word of God being taken from us (Amos 8:11). (See also verse 43).

3. That God would make us understand his Word. Psalm 119:27, 'Make me understand the way of Your precepts' (verses 34, 73b, 144b, 169). Here we ask God to cause us to understand - to do whatever he needs to do to get us to understand his Word.

4. That God would incline our hearts to his Word. Psalm 119:36, 'Incline my heart to Your testimonies and not to [dishonest] gain.' The great problem with us is not primarily our reason, but our will - we are disinclined by nature to read and meditate and memorize the Word. So we must pray for God to incline our wills.

5. That God would give us life to keep his Word. Psalm 119:88, 'Revive me according to Your lovingkindness, so that I may keep the testimony of Your mouth.' He is aware that we need life and energy to give ourselves to the Word and its obedience. So he asks God for this basic need. (See also verse 154b)

6. That God would establish our steps in his Word. Psalm 119:133, 'Establish my footsteps in Your word.' We are dependent on the Lord not only for understanding and life, but for the performance of the Word. That it would be established in our lives. We cannot do this on our own.

7. That God would seek us when we go astray from his Word. Psalm 119:176, 'I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant.' It is remarkable that this godly man ends his psalm with a confession of sin and the need for God to come after him and bring him back. This too we must pray again and again.

(ht: Ed)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

RIP - John R. W. Stott (1921-2011)


John R. W. Stott, at the age of 90, went home to be with the Lord earlier today.

Ten years ago Timothy Dudley-Smith, his longtime associate at All Souls Church, Langham Place, wrote the following about the essence of the man:
To those who know and meet him, respect and affection go hand in hand. The world-figure is lost in personal friendship, disarming interest, unfeigned humility—and a dash of mischievous humour and charm. By contrast, he thinks of himself, as all Christians should but few of us achieve, as simply a beloved child of a heavenly Father; an unworthy servant of his friend and master, Jesus Christ; a sinner saved by grace to the glory and praise of God. (“Who Is John Stott?” All Souls Broadsheet [London], April/May 2001)
John Stott left an incredible legacy of ministry which many of us have experienced through his writing.

He has penned dozens of influential books and commentaries, the bestselling one being Basic Christianity, which was written in 1958 when Stott was 37 years old, and has sold over 2.5 million copies.

His outstanding book on preaching, Between Two Worlds, was published in 1982.

His most substantial book is probably The Cross of Christ (1986), about which J. I. Packer says, “No other treatment of this supreme subject says so much so truly and so well.”

His final published words came at the end of his last book, The Radical Disciple, published in 2010:

Much more will be written in the days ahead about this servant of the Lord but no words of commendation will be as significant as the words John Stott heard earlier today: “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master.”

(ht: Justin)

How Does A Pastor Make Time For Evangelism?



When I was in seminary I read the book, The Pastor-Evangelist edited by Greenway.  This book is a wonderful collection of pastors who discuss the pastor's role of evangelist among his people.

(ht: Vitamin Z)

A Handy Map of Hell

I hope you appreciate the humor as I did.

(click to enlarge)

(ht: Neatorama)

Are You Living Deeply?

Here is an interview Richard Chancy conducted with two friends of mine Tim Willard and Jason Locy the authors of  Veneer: Living Deeply in a Surface Society

Richard: What made you write Veneer?

Tim & Jason: In our earliest conversations around the topic we noticed how inflated the culture had become: Enron, Madoff, housing industry, suburbia McMansions, four-dollar coffees, really smart phones, branding. In the church world, the relevance movement was in full swing as churches tried to look more and more like culture. We couldn’t escape the reality that society seemed to be influencing the church instead of the church influencing society.

Our questions centered on what culture looked like and how it was effecting us as humans, as Christians, and the church in general. We eventually came to the realization that these societal issues were by-products of our human condition. And we wanted a different way, for the world, Christians, and the church to act.

So the idea for Veneer was born.

Veneer: Living Deeply in a Surface Society
Veneer: Living Deeply in a Surface Society

P.S. Right now my wife is reading it and loving it!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Lost Shine of Email


(ht: Geeks)

Sobering Statistics


Planned Parenthood may want to spin their purpose as merely providing reproductive health and maternal and child health services - but they are unmistakably in the business of abortions.

Taking a look at Planned Parenthood’s latest fact sheet which pulls data from 2009 (it is July, 2011 and they haven’t released any 2010 numbers) and guess what? Abortions are up and adoption referrals are down. 
  • 332,278 abortions of human embryos and fetuses
  • 997 adoption referrals
That makes the latest ratio of 333 terminations performed for every adoption referral.

A Man of Courage and Faith


No man fought harder to abolish slavery than William Wilberforce. A member of Parliament, he introduced antislavery measures year after year for 40 years until he retired in 1825. On this day July 26, 1833, as he lay dying, word was brought him that the bill to outlaw slavery everywhere in the British empire had passed in Parliament. The dream for which he had struggled for decades was now within sight of fulfillment!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Amy Winehouse - What Her Death Can Teach Us


From Walt Mueller:

Only 27 years-old, Amy Winehouse died far too young. While saddening, it's not all that surprising. Even her mother is quoted today as saying that she somehow knew something was up only 24 hours before Winehouse was found dead. Amy Winehouse was a fascinating yet tragic figure even while she was alive. Tormented by so many of the issues that we all pray won't visit kids in these troubling times, Winehouse made music that flowed out of these realities. That's why it connected so well with so many.

I realized that Amy Winehouse and Kurt Cobain both died at the young age of 27. I hope we realize that these two shouldn't be seen as temporary blips on the youth culture radar. They both represented and continue to represent the fact that all human beings are made in the image of God, that we are all marred by sin and brokenness, that all humans long for redemption, and that the role of the church is to reach out, love, and minister as we live and proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom. In life and death, Amy Winehouse can teach us a lot about our world, our selves, and our hunger for Heaven. Hopefully, we'll allow Amy Winehouse to remind us why we do what we do, while giving us clues for how to do it.

Should A Pastor Shepherd Those That Despise Him?


This becomes a most troubling question for every pastor.  We love to care for those who love and support us.  We learn to develop tough skin for those who attack us.  But shepherding those who are difficult or attack us…that is a another story.  This may seem like an impossible task, but Richard Baxter reminds us of our responsibility:

“So you see it was then taken as a duty to look upon every member of the flock by name, even if it should be the meanest servant-man or maid…A faithful pastor should have his eyes on them all.”

What is implied by Baxter here is not just a knowledge of our people, but a faithful pastor has his eyes on them for the purpose to know how to best shepherd them.  Although I recognize this may be one of the hardest tasks we carry as pastors, we must be faithful to shepherd ALL our people God has entrusted to our care.  Because of this, here are a few tips that might help:

Read the Rest at 9Marks

The Effects of Reading Scripture


Interestingly, a study from Baylor University claims that as people read the Bible more regularly, they become more concerned with a variety of social issues. Here are some examples from that study as reported in the Huffington Post:
  • The likelihood of Christians saying it is important to actively seek social and economic justice to be a good person increased 39 percent with each jump up the ladder of the frequency of reading Scripture, from reading the Bible less than once a year to no more than once a month to about weekly to several times a week or more.
  • Christian respondents overall were 27 percent more likely to say it is important to consume or use fewer goods to be a good person as they became more frequent Bible readers.
  • Reading the Bible more often also was linked to improved attitudes toward science. Respondents were 22 percent less likely to view religion and science as incompatible at each step toward more frequent Bible reading.
  • The issues seemed to matter more than conservative-liberal tags. In the case of another major public policy debate, same-sex unions, nearly half of respondents who read the Bible less than once a year said homosexuals should be allowed to marry, while only 6 percent of people who read the Bible several times a week or more approved of such marriages.
Be sure to read the whole article here.

(ht: Ed)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Lost Vision Of Pastoral Ministry


Has the church growth paradigm within American culture reshifted focus away from the intended calling of most pastors?

Here is a provocative quote from an article by Mark Galli in Christianity Today:
...We find that American churches exalt and isolate their leaders almost by design. Our ambitious churches lust after size—American churches don't feel good about themselves unless they are growing. We justify church growth with spiritual language—concern for the lost and so forth. But much of the time, it's American institutional self-esteem that is on the line. This is an audacious and unprovable statement, I grant, but given human nature (the way motives become terribly mixed in that desperately wicked human heart) and personal experience, I will stick to it.
With this addiction to growth comes a host of behavioral tics, such as a fascination with numbers. The larger the church, the more those who attend become stats, "attenders" to be counted and measured against previous weeks. Pastoral leaders are judged mostly on their ability to enlarge their ministries. It's not long before we have to rely on "systems" to track and follow newcomers. It is the rare church now that can depend on members naturally noticing newcomers, or on their reaching out to them with simple hospitality. That has become the job of a committee, which is overseen by a staff member. With increasing size comes an increasing temptation to confuse evangelism with marketing, the remarkably efficient and effective if impersonal science of getting people in the doors.
With the longing for size comes a commitment to efficiency. No longer is it a good use of the head pastor's time to visit the sick or give spiritual counsel to individuals. Better for him to make use of his "gift mix," which usually has little to do with the word pastor—or shepherd, the biblical word for this position. Instead, he has been hired for his ability to manage the workings of large and complex institutions. The bigger the church, the less he works with common members and mostly with staff and the church board. To successfully manage a large church, one must be on top of all the details of that institution. This doesn't necessarily mean directly micromanaging things, but it certainly means to do so indirectly. The large church pastor may not personally tell the nursery volunteers to repaint the 2–3 year-old room, but when he notices a spot of peeling paint as he passes by, the pastor will tell someone who will tell someone, and it will get done in short order.
Read the whole article HERE

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Killing Moralism

Many Christians have grown up in the church on moralistic preaching; that is, preaching that calls for obedience without connecting the commands of God to the cross of Christ. This disconnect is dangerous, potentially leading hearers into either self-loathing or self-righteousness. Moralistic preaching is often the ground in which the devil sows the seeds of legalism. Of course biblical preaching will always be relevant and call for a response, but how can we preach the commands of God without reducing our messages to moralism? Is the key to simply jump from the command “pray without ceasing” to the reality that Jesus suffered a vicarious, penal atonement? Well, that’s one way to do it. But, let me suggest three ways of preaching the commands of God that help us avoid the trap of moralism.
Show the God of the Command

Show the Grace Behind the Command

Show the Gospel Above the Command


"Nerd"vana

I wish I was at Comic Con this weekend to get my geek on....but there is always DragonCon during Labor Day here in Atlanta.


Getting Beyond Our Tribal Agendas


"The greatest obstacle to the fulfillment of the Great Commission now is sin on the part of the Western Church. You might ask how that can be - with all the money, missionaries, mission agencies, global initiatives, etc. … It really can be completed now. It’s sin because we have all this money, people, etc., and yet continue to not work together. Our tribal agendas in the fulfillment of the Great Commission are more important than God’s global agenda. Until there is change we will not get to be a part.
– Bob Roberts @Glocalnet"

Mursi warrior with his knife on his head (the best place to carry it, of course!) in the Omo valley - Southern Ethiopia

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Finding Jesus At Walmart


A couple from South Carolina has found Jesus...on a Walmart receipt.

Jacob Simmons and his fiancee, Gentry Lee Sutherland, picked up a few things at the discount retailer last month and then forgot about the receipt. A month later, Simmons spotted the receipt on his apartment floor and something about it caught his eye. A face staring back at him had emerged from a mark on the paper.

The couple say they recognized the figure, which seems to show a man’s bearded face with intense eyes, as Jesus.

“We just feel like it's a blessing that God showed it to us and opened our eyes. And we just feel like we should share the blessing God gave to us to everybody else," Sutherland said.

Full story at wyff4.

Here is my question...why does it take people looking at a stained Walmart receipt to supposedly find God?  God has revealed Himself plainly to us through His Son Jesus in His Word.  I always shake my head at the silly things we are willing to hang our faith on.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sermon Stack of Stuff Part 4


Here is the closing prayer from the sermon - let's these words reflect the attitude of your heart.

“Oh precious Christ Jesus, the Amen, the faithful and true witness, fill me to overflowing with the sin-killing grace of your Spirit. Draw near and shatter any complacency in my soul. May my life be a fragrant aroma in your nostrils, a melodious symphony in your hearing, a beautiful sight in your eyes, a pleasing touch to your hand, and a sweet taste in your mouth! By your grace and for your glory, may my life bring refreshment to the weary soul and healing to the spiritually sick. Preserve me from lukewarm indifference. Deliver me from presumption and pride. Amen.

(credit: Rev. Sam Storms)


Bibliography of the Sermon


To the One Who Conquers - Sam Storms
Reversed Thunder, The Revelation of John and the Praying Imagination - Eugene Peterson
New International Greek Testament Commentary, Book of Revelation - G.K. Beale

(you may click on these books to purchase them at Amazon.com)



Sermon Stack of Stuff Part 3


What was the rebuke of the Laodiceans so harsh, because they were robbing God of his glory..here are some verses we looked at that illustration that point.

I am the Lord; that is my name! My glory I give to no other (Isa. 42:8)

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. (2 Cor. 4:7)

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards God’s varied grace…in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. (1 Pet. 4:10-11)

Sermon Stack of Stuff Part 2


Diagnostic Questions - Are you playing it safe? (from the sermon)

1. Do you make decisions in your Christian life and put yourselves in positions where if God were to never show up – you’d be doomed to fail? Or would it make little to no difference?

2. If someone asked you - "What's the Lord taught you recently", would you have anything to say?

3. Does the phrase "I can't" dominate your vocabulary?  Do you make decisions based on fear - because of a lack of confidence and competence?

4.  When was the last time you experienced the conviction of the spirit? And how did you respond?

5. Do you feel the need and compulsion to pray?


Sermon Stack of Stuff Part 1


Neil Cole, church planter, makes this comment on whether or not we are trusting in God or merely operating out of our own resources and strengths.

“Our churches 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.”

This quote compliments the point of the sermon - are we merely trusting in our own selves, our competence and confidence - are we playing it safe!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

What Is the Mission of the Church?

Here is an hour-long panel discussion at The Gospel Coalition with Matt Chandler, Kevin DeYoung, Jonathan Leeman, and Trevin Wax on the the Great Commission and the mission of the local church.


Gospel, Mission, and the Church from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.


Friday, July 15, 2011

How God Is Glorified

John Piper makes a great case in his critique and condemnation of the prosperity gospel (you can watch the video below). In the video Piper provides an illustration about the tragic death of a young girl, in which God is glorified in the midst of a believer’s grief and suffering – not success.  That doesn't sound very American - but then again we worship a God that isn't held capture to our American values, ideals and expectations.



How Famine Happens



Refugees from the Darfur Region of Sudan flooded the borders of Chad in 2004, leaving the neighboring nation struggling to feed and house their numbers. Here, refugees receive rations of onions, beans, flour and oil.

We read about the tragedies of famine throughout the world...but how does famine start, and become epidemic?

Read HERE.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Luther - The Graphic Novel


Here’s a look inside a new graphic novel on Martin Luther published by Concordia Publishing House.

(ht: Justin)

No Need to Hide the Real Jesus


"I confess to the church, I know I have backed away from certain things because of my arrogance I thought I could attract more people to Jesus by hiding certain things about him.”

Francis Chan

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Has Intolerance Gotten In The Way Of Serving The Poor?


The Atlantic wire has an interesting story of how TOMS shoes was bullied into relinquishing their partnership with Focus on the Family in helping to provide shoes to those in Africa. Apparently when some progressives caught wind of the proposed partnership they called TOMS founder, Blake Mycoskie, out and challenged the partnership as contrary to TOMS values? In the course of crisis management, Mycoskie, backed away from his support, denying that he knew of Focus on the Family's agenda and both parties issued statements.

But here is the kicker - in the meantime, a golden opportunity to help those in need throughout Africa has been missed - and shouldn't that ultimately be the focus.  Are the progressive critics so intolerant that they can't allow partnership for a good cause, even though both organizations may not share exactly the same values?

Francis Schaeffer often talked about "co-belligerence" among organizations around common causes.  What this meant for instance is that organizations or faith traditions, like evangelicals and Roman Catholics, who may be diametrically opposed on many issues of faith, can still find common ground and unite around shared causes like the Right to Life.  This kind of co-belligerence needs to be practiced among many passionate progressives - for the sake of those who are most in need.

The Marginalized Are Central In the Church


A good word from Henri why the church must always look outside of itself and be missional.
Those who are marginal in the world are central in the Church, and that is how it is supposed to be! Thus we are called as members of the Church to keep going to the margins of our society. The homeless, the starving, parentless children, people with AIDS, our emotionally disturbed brothers and sisters – they require our first attention.
We can trust that when we reach out with all our energy to the margins of our society we will discover that petty disagreements, fruitless debates, and paralysing rivalries will recede and gradually vanish. The Church will always be renewed when our attention shifts from ourselves to those who need our care. The blessing of Jesus always comes to us through the poor. The most remarkable experience of those who work with the poor is that, in the end, the poor give more than they receive. They give food to us.” – Henri Nouwen
(ht: JR)

How We Carry Out Jesus’ Instructions


If you've read the book UnChristian or even be keenly aware of the culture around you, you know that Christian's are too often perceived like how the cartoon lampoons.  Is that justified?  If so, what can we do to change that perception?

(ht: Cartoon from NakedPastor.com)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Will You Be A Trader?




The Great Assurance of Christ


But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.—Romans 5:15

Jesus Christ broke the power of sin and death, but the converse is not true. Sin and death cannot break the power of Jesus Christ. The condemnation of Adam's sin is reversible, the redemption of Jesus Christ is not. The effect of Adam's act is permanent only if not nullified by Christ. The effect of Christ's act, however, is permanent for believing individuals and not subject to reversal or nullification. We have the great assurance that once we are in Jesus Christ, we are in Him forever.

—John MacArthur, MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Romans 1–8 (Moody, 1991), 304.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Death Lost its Foothold


“Death, the last enemy, lost its legal foothold in creation by the cross.”
— Michael Horton

The Birth of a New Nation

South Sudan







See the pictures all the pictures HERE.

Christianity: China's best bet?


Interesting article from Al-Jazeera's english news site on faith and the church within China.
 "Officially atheist, Communist China is witnessing a massive rise in religiosity. Recent surveys have found that one in every three Chinese consider themselves to be religious.
'All Chinese religions have been growing, especially popular or 'folk religion',' explains Daniel Bays, a professor of history and the director of the Asian Studies programme at Calvin College in Michigan.
'Protestant Christianity seems to be growing fastest, because it is congregational, providing a social-belonging aspect, leaders can be self-proclaimed, not needing formal credentials.'  Historically, China's policies on religion have veered between approval, bloody repression and grudging tolerance."
Read entire article HERE:

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Do Leaders Need to Be Holy?


Do leaders need to be holy? Your answer to this question is probably an automatic ‘Yes!” or perhaps ‘Of course!”

Robert Murray M’Cheyne, a Scottish pastor in the mid-19th century once stated, “my people’s greatest need is my personal holiness.” I couldn’t agree more. Without personal holiness, a Christian leader has no foundation with which to lead.

And yet of all the resources available on leadership today (there are currently almost 350,000 available at amazon.com) I do find the issue of personal holiness missing from most discussions on leadership, even among those who serve in ministry.

Read all of Chris Carr's comments here....this is a must read.