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, August 31, 2011

Big Church FAIL!


This church loves the "idea" of helping people, but just not "actual" needy people!

(ht: Steve)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Jesus Welcomes Weak Christians

See the gracious way [Jesus] executes his offices. As a prophet, he came with blessing in his mouth, `Blessed are the poor in spirit’ (Matt. 5:3), and invited those to come to him whose hearts suggested most exceptions against themselves, `Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden’ (Matt. 11:28). How did his heart yearn when he saw the people `as sheep having no shepherd’ (Matt. 9:36)! He never turned any back again that came to him, though some went away of themselves. He came to die as a priest for his enemies. In the days of his flesh he dictated a form of prayer unto his disciples, and put petitions unto God into their mouths, and his Spirit to intercede in their hearts. He shed tears for those that shed his blood, and now he makes intercession in heaven for weak Christians, standing between them and God’s anger. He is a meek king; he will admit mourners into his presence, a king of poor and afflicted persons. As he has beams of majesty, so he has a heart of mercy and compassion. He is the prince of peace (Isa. 9:6). Why was he tempted, but that he might `succor them that are tempted’ (Heb. 2:18)? What mercy may we not expect from so gracious a Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5) who took our nature upon him that he might be gracious? He is a physician good at all diseases, especially at the binding up of a broken heart. He died that he might heal our souls with a plaster of his own blood, and by that death save us, which we were the procurers of ourselves, by our own sins. And has he not the same heart in heaven? ‘Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?’ cried the Head in heaven, when the foot on earth was trodden on (Acts 9:4). His advancement has not made him forget his own flesh. Though it has freed him from passion, yet not from compassion towards us. The lion of the tribe of Judah will only tear in pieces those that “will not have him rule over them” (Luke 19:14). He will not show his strength against those who prostrate themselves before him.
- Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed (pp. 8, 9)

(ht: Joe)

The Gospel and Poverty


Great excerpt from David French:

For many, many years I spent time “in the trenches” reaching out to at-risk youth. At first I was the stereotypical naive idealist. ”All they need is love and a chance,” I thought. Working in mentoring programs, I spent untold hours playing catch, going to little league games, going to parks, and just hanging out with at-risk kids as part of a variety of programs. Seeing ragged clothes, I’d buy new clothes. Hearing that a mother couldn’t pay the light bill, I’d kick in and help. I spent night after night sleeping in homeless shelters, cooking dinners in the evening, pancake breakfasts in the morning, and fixing snack lunches for hard days on the streets.

I can’t remember when I first realized that I was accomplishing nothing of substance. A few car break-ins taught me that some guys saw me as an easy mark. A few pot purchases with the “gas bill money” taught me that others saw me as an ATM. Admonitions to “stay in school” had little appeal compared to drug-fueled orgies for kids as young as fifteen years old. I tried. God knows I tried. But it was all for naught.

Only one thing really worked. The Cross. There are kids today that Nancy and I worked with who are doing well, who are happily married, and who are pillars of their community. What made the difference for them? The Cross. It wasn’t about my words. It wasn’t about my effort. (After all, I tried just as hard or harder with other kids — who are now in prison or “baby-daddies” or both.) The kids who made it heard the Gospel, repented of sin, and were transformed through the renewing work of the Holy Spirit.

It’s trendy now for churches to put less emphasis on the Gospel and more emphasis on service. I’ve even heard Christians almost brag that their outreach efforts don’t include any proselytizing at all. This is tragic. Billions of dollars of “service” won’t change hearts and lives. We know that now. In fact, those very billions may very well numb the human heart to the gravity of its sin.

So, yes, let’s do “more,” but let’s make sure that “more” is aimed at the real source of American poverty — our depravity.

You can read the whole thing here.

I couldn't agree more - too often there is a dichotomy between Gospel service and Gospel Proclamation.  When my organization, CMDA, does medical missions, we don't just treat people's physical and felt needs, we also address their real need - reconciliation to their creator through Jesus.  For our doctors, and medical professionals, this reflects the philosophy of whole person care.  We reflect and follow the model of Jesus and his ministry, "...and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal." Luke 9:2

(ht: Justin)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Machine Gun Preacher



Machine Gun Preacher is the inspirational true story of Sam Childers, a former drug-dealing criminal who undergoes an astonishing transformation and finds an unexpected calling as the savior of hundreds of kidnapped and orphaned children.

This looks like a fascinating movie!

Steve Jobs: Don’t Waste Your Life


This last week the internet was a buzz about Steve Jobs, his illness and his resignation. I want to share with you Steve's 2005 commencement address at Stanford University - some very honest and candid words.

—————————–

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: “We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” They said: “Of course.” My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents’ savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn’t know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down – that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I’m fine now.

This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960′s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

Read more:http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903596904576520690515394766.html#ixzz1W0w3DH6T

Sunday, August 28, 2011

What a “missional church” is NOT


Alan Roxburgh also often stated what missional church is NOT.

It is not –

• An evangelism program
• A new way of doing foreign missions
• A method for church growth
• The “Next” way to do church
• A Post-modern way of doing church
• The Anti-traditional pattern of church

Here is a good definition of what a missional church is:

"Missional Church" is a term that describes a people of God embarking and living out a missionary lifestyle; adopting the posture, thinking, behaviors, and practices of a missionary in order to engage others with the gospel message.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

God’s righteous wrath

“God, because in his mercy he willed to forgive sinful men, and being truly merciful, willed to forgive them righteously, that is, without in any way condoning their sin, purposed to direct against his own very Self in the person of his Son the full weight of that righteous wrath which they deserved.”
— Charles Cranfield, quoted by John Stott in The Message of Romans

Living Out Jesus In Their Neighborhood


Here is a short video about Sacred Roots community in Portland, Oregon. It is a new church plant trying to live out what it means to be Jesus in their neighborhood. (ht: Christian Associates)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Gospel Brings Rest


From the Ordinary Pastor:

The gospel brings rest while sin makes us weary.
In addition to be high-handed rebellion against the King, sin has a subtle, not so frequently noted impact.

It is the restless pursuit of satisfaction, fulfillment, and happiness outside of God. Our hearts, in concert with the world around us, pump out the lie that we are not the problem but instead authority is. This just enlivens our rebellion. It stirs up our restlessness. And it has the devastating and debilitating impact of making us more empty, more hungry, and more angry.

The redundant lie of our hearts is that in our restlessness we can find satisfaction and soothing in created things. We think that in this pursuit we’ll find liberation from an oppressive and unreasonable authority, namely God.

Test yourself and see where you run when you are disappointed, hurt, or frustrated. Who or what do you run to? How does it do?

The truth of the matter is that created things cannot deliver. In our seeking after them to chiefly satisfy us, we are enslaved, laden with guilt, and always craving for more. This is seen through experience, common sense, and the Scriptures.

Only in the gospel does God remove guilt and satisfy our cravings. In short, the gospel brings rest.
28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11.28-29)

Steven Curtis Chapman's New Album - Recreation

Prayer Is Your Life

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Say Something Nice

What would you do if someone put a bullhorn in front of you and asked you to say something nice?!



To often the discourse in our world is jaded, angry, scathing, nasty and mean.  But as we read from the scriptures, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Prov. 15:1

Words of kindness have power and give life.

Has Ricky Gervais Gone Too Far?

It’s no secret that Ricky Gervais is an atheist. And it’s no secret that he’s controversial. But the comedian who became popular as the main character in the British version of “The Office” may have gone too far with his latest magazine cover. That’s because Gervais irreverently poses as Jesus Christ.

The cover for the British magazine “New Humanist,’  includes Gervais wearing a crown, strung up on a microphone stand, bare-chested, and the word “atheist” scratched across his chest.


While it’s true what Gervais says, that he has a “right” to offend, do you think he’s gone too far? And do you think that if this was done to mock another religion (i.e. Mohammad) there would be public outcry?  Sound off in the comments section.

(ht: The Blaze)

The Call Of God

"It is easier to serve God without a vision, easier to work for God without a call, because then you are not bothered by what God requires; common sense is your guide, veneered over with Christian sentiment. You will be more prosperous and successful, more leisure-hearted, if you never realize the call of God. But if once you receive a commission from Jesus Christ, the memory of what God wants will always come like a goad; you will no longer be able to work for Him on the common-sense basis." ~ Oswald Chambers
(ht: Various Parables)

Monday, August 22, 2011

30 Simple Ways To Be Missional In Your Workplace


1. Instead of eating lunch alone, intentionally eat with other co-workers and learn their story.

2. Get to work early so you can spend some time praying for your co-workers and the day ahead.

3. Make it a daily priority to speak or write encouragement when someone does good work.

4. Bring extra snacks when you make your lunch to give away to others.

5. Bring breakfast (donuts, burritos, cereal, etc.) once a month for everyone in your department.

6. Organize a running/walking group in the before or after work.

7. Have your missional community/small group bring lunch to your workplace once a month.

8. Create a regular time to invite coworkers over or out for drinks.

9. Make a list of your co-workers birthdays and find a way to bless everyone on their birthday.

10. Organize and throw office parties as appropriate to your job.

11. Make every effort to avoid gossip in the office. Be a voice of thanksgiving not complaining.

12. Find others that live near you and create a car pool.

13. Offer to throw a shower for a co-worker who is having a baby.

14. Offer to cover for a co-worker who needs off for something.

15. Start a regular lunch out with co-workers (don’t be selective on the invites).

Read the last 15 HERE

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Hipster Youth Minister Wanted


From Matthew Paul Turner's blog - an actual job posting for a youth minister:
“[We are a] small, growing, easy going, no problem church. Seeking a young man (no experience, no education is no problem). Piercings, tattoos, hair, etc. is no problem. We are good at reaching the types of young people who are traditionally not welcome in churches. We can pay very very small amount, apartment in church available. The perfect place for a young dude who wants to step out into this kind of ministry, but thought he couldn’t due to experience, age, education, looks, etc. We are no liberal, we are out of the box workers. all of us here at First Church of Christ are long since tired of churchy church, tradition, discriminating of people due to whatever, etc. If you are in doubt…give us a shout…you just may be surprised.”
This is where the real job listing is posted…

Is this the place where the church has gone?  A place where we've relegated and placed ministry to the next generation in the hands of the merely the hip and the cool all the while ignoring experience, spiritual maturity and biblical depth?  Let's just hope this posting is an anomaly and not the norm within the church.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Four Kinds of People in the World


Tim Keller:
...There are four kinds of persons in the world:
#1 Law-obeying, Law-relying: These people are under the law, and are usually very smug, self-righteous and pharisaical. Externally, they are very sure they are right with God, but deep down, they have a lot of insecurity, since no one can truly be assured they are living up to standards. This makes them touchy, sensitive to criticism and devastated when their prayers aren’t answered. [This includes members of other religions but here I am thinking mainly of people who go to church.]

#2 Law-disobeying, Law-relying: These people have a religious conscience of strong works-righteousness, but they are not living consistently with it. As a result, they are more humble and more tolerant of others than the Pharisees above, but they are also much more guilt-ridden, subject to mood swings and sometimes very afraid of religious topics. [Some of these people may go to church but stay on the periphery because of their low spiritual self-esteem.]

#3 Law-disobeying, Not Law-relying: These are the people who have thrown off the concept of the Law of God. They are intellectually secular or rather relativistic, or have a very vague spirituality. They largely choose their own moral standards and insist they are meeting them. But Paul in Romans 1 says that at a sub-conscious level, they know there is a God who they should be obeying. [Such people are usually happier and more tolerant than either of the above groups. But usually there is a strong liberal self-righteousness They are definitely earning their own salvation by feeling superior to others. It is usually a less overt kind of self-righteousness.]

#4 Law-obeying, Not Law-relying: These are Christians who understand the gospel and are living out of the freedom of it. They obey the law of God out of grateful joy that comes from the knowledge of their sonship and out of the freedom from the fear and selfishness that false idols had generated. They are more tolerant than #3, more sympathetic than #2, and more confident than #1. [Most real Christians tend toward the errors of #1, #2, and even #3. But to the degree that they do, they are impoverished spiritually.]
--from Redeemer Presbyterian Church's Leader's Guide for Paul's Letter to the Galatians
(ht: Vitamin Z)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Corny Church Signs


When church signs aren't being offensive, confusing or cryptic, they're just being corny like this one!

(ht: DivineCaroline)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What Social Media Can Teach Us About America


(ht: Hasai)


The Death of America's God


Here is an excerpt from an essay by Stanley Hauerwas:
Protestantism came to America to make America Protestant. It was assumed that was to be done through faith in the reasonableness of the common man and the establishment of a democratic republic. But in the process the church in America became American - or, as Noll puts it, "because the churches had done so much to make America, they could not escape living with what they had made."
As a result Americans continue to maintain a stubborn belief in a god, but the god they believe in turns out to be the American god. To know or worship that god does not require that a church exist because that god is known through the providential establishment of a free people.
This is a presumption shared by the religious right as well as the religious left in America. Both assume that America is the church.
But now we are beginning to see the loss of confidence by Protestants in their ability to sustain themselves in America just to the extent that the inevitable conflict between the church, republicanism and commonsense morality has worked its way through the system of our national life.
America is the great experiment in Protestant social thought, but the society Protestants created now threatens to make Protestantism unintelligible to itself. Put as directly as I can, I believe we may be living at a time when we are watching Protestantism, at least the kind of Protestantism we have in America, come to an end. It is dying of its own success.

Read the whole essay HERE

At the end of the essay Hauerwas says: "We are now facing the end of Protestantism. America's god is dying. Hopefully, that will leave the church in America in a position where it has nothing to lose. And when you have nothing to lose, all you have left is the truth."

Leave you thoughts and opinions in the comments section.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Lloyd-Jones on Preaching and The Gospel


Tim Keller's newest blog post on Martyn Lloyd-Jones and preaching:
Do we preach the gospel so clearly even when we are seeking to edify that there are always at least a trickle of people within our church who come to see that they never really believed? The purpose of every sermon, according to Dr Lloyd-Jones, is not to give information and general instruction but to preach the gospel and make it real to the heart. -"Lloyd-Jones on Preaching the Gospel, Part 2"...
 Wow, let that sink in!

(ht: Steve)


Monday, August 15, 2011

Study Underscores How Dependent We Are Becoming To Our Phones


"The latest survey from the Pew Internet & American Life Project underscores how reliant users are becoming on their mobile devices. According to the report, 42% of adults aged 18-29 — a growing number — said that they have had trouble completing a task because they didn’t have their phone nearby. A majority of adults aged 18-49 use their phones as entertainment devices to stave off boredom.

And most surprisingly of all, 30% of adults 18-29 have pretended to be on the phone in order to avoid human interaction, the report says.

But that doesn’t mean we want to stay connected all the time. Nearly 1/3 of adults surveyed also reported that they sometimes turn their phones off for a period of time, just to get a break. This figure was equally true for smartphone and feature phone users."

These statistics are illustrating not only the ubiquitous nature of mobile phones but our ever growing dependency on them (and even addiction to them).

(ht: Mashable)

cross posted to www.MinistryBestPractices.com

The Magic of Truth and Lies (with iPods)



This is one of the coolest TEDS presentations I've seen!

The Hidden Life Of Jesus

“The largest part of Jesus’ life was hidden. Jesus lived with his parents in Nazareth, “under their authority” (Luke 2:51), and there “increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favour with God and with people” (Luke 2:52). When we think about Jesus we mostly think about his words and miracles, his passion, death, and resurrection, but we should never forget that before all of that Jesus lived a simple, hidden life in a small town, far away from all the great people, great cities, and great events. Jesus’ hidden life is very important for our own spiritual journeys. If we want to follow Jesus by words and deeds in the service of his Kingdom, we must first of all strive to follow Jesus in his simple, unspectacular, and very ordinary hidden life.” 
– Henri Nouwen


(ht: JR)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Dadaab Refuge Camp


Compelling and heart-wrenching photography by BostonGlobe from the Dadaab refuge camp close to the border between Kenya and Somalia.  See all the photographs HERE.

God is NOT Indifferent

“If you think God is far away and indifferent, here is the surprising revelation. From the foundation of the world, God knew your sufferings and declared that he himself would take human form and participate in them (which means that we too could share in his). This is not a distant, indifferent God.”
— Edward T. Welch,  Depression: A Stubborn Darkness p. 48

Thursday, August 11, 2011

When The Devil Accuses


“When the devil throws our sins up to us and declares we deserve death and hell, we ought to speak thus: ‘I admit that I deserve death and hell. What of it? Does this mean that I shall be sentenced to eternal damnation? By no means. For I know One who suffered and made a satisfaction in my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Where he is, there I shall be also.’”

— Martin Luther  Luther: Letters of Spiritual Counsel, p. 85

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Religious People Are Nerds!

If you are a "Comic-Con" kind of nerd like me, then you will understand the many Star Trek and Game of Thrones references and appreciate the humor of this video.

But this parody did make me think, "How do those who are not Christians actually view us?" Do they think of Christians as weird? Strange? Extreme? Perhaps. And although our faith will appear peculiar to those on the outside (1 Peter 2:9) - the question is, are we unnecessarily erecting barriers to Jesus because of our behavior, attitudes or by living within our insular and strange Christian sub-culture?  Discuss below in the comments.

Don't Play It Safe


Here is the audio from the sermon I did a couple of weeks ago on Revelation 3:14-22. You can listen here with the embedded player.


Also in accompanying the audio I posted additional resources and bibliographical information on several previous posts:
Sermon Stack of Stuff, Part 1
Sermon Stack of Stuff, Part 2
Sermon Stack of Stuff, Part 3
Sermon Stack of Stuff, Part 4

The Candy Shop

One of the issues that my ministry with Christian Medical and Dental Associations has been involved with here in Atlanta has been addressing the plight and crisis of human trafficking.

A couple of months ago I got to see this movie called Candy Shop on public television here in Atlanta, a short film that portrays the realities of child sex trafficking by using the allegorical story of a candy shop.  It is an extremely powerful and highly effective way in bringing attention to this issue.

Now I just caught wind that the movie is online!  You need to carve out 30 minutes and watch this movie.


The Candy Shop from Whitestone Motion Pictures on Vimeo.

(ht: Churchm.ag)

Christians Hate Their Sin


Currently I am in the middle of reading John Owen's classic work on The Mortification of Sin.  And it's been a challenging read as I understand better my relationship to sin as a Christian. Mike McKinley illustrates that relationship in the story of the Prodigal Son by pointing out that “you are not a Christian if you enjoy sin.”.

Mike McKinley writes,
The son’s turnaround began when he saw the reality of his sin clearly. He realized what a fool he had been, how offensive behavior and attitudes were, and how ratty the pleasures of sin were in comparison to the joys of his father’s home. In Jesus’s words, “He came to himself”—he came to his senses.
Since a Christian is dead to sin and alive to Christ, when he does sin, he finds that it doesn’t suit him. He cannot be comfortable living in it. Although sin may provide him with a moment of pleasure and enjoyment, he is later plagued with feelings of regret, disappointment, and shame. If a true follower of Jesus is snared in sin, he will eventually have a moment like the Prodigal son, had in the pigsty where he comes to hate his sin. He does not grow in an ever-increasing love for sin, but as time goes by, he hates it.
 —Mike McKinley, Am I Really a Christian? (Crossway, 2011), 70.

(ht: Thirsty Theologian)

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

To Love God Is To Know His Love For You

“You cannot love God if you are under the continual secret suspicion that he is really your enemy! … You simply cannot love God unless you know and understand how much he loves you. … In the gospel, you can come to know that God truly loves you through Christ. When you have this assurance, you can even love your enemies, because you know that you are reconciled to God. You know that God’s love will make people’s hatred of you work together for your good.”
— Walter MarshallThe Gospel Mystery of Sanctification: Growing in Holiness by Living in Union with Christ

(ht: Scotty)

Four-Fold Franciscan Blessing


May God bless you with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.

May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people.

May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.

May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really CAN make a difference in this world, so that you are able, with God’s grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.

And the blessing of God the Supreme Majesty and our Creator,
Jesus Christ the Incarnate Word who is our brother and Saviour,
and the Holy Spirit, our Advocate and Guide,
be with you and remain with you, this day and forevermore.

(ht: Next Reformation)

The Story of Everything

Monday, August 08, 2011

John Stott on Preaching


Here is a very helpful interview between Dr. Mohler and the late John Stott found HERE.

Also, more about John Stott and preaching can be found in his classic book, Between Two Worlds.



J. I. Packer Delivers the Sermon at John Stott’s Memorial




Part 2





Part 3




(ht: John Starke)

More Churches are Leaving Liberal Denominations


An article in the Christian Post this past week explored the increasing number of congregations that are leaving their more liberal denominations over a shift away from traditional teachings and reforming their identities either as independent congregations or by uniting with more conservative denominations.

Why We Fear To Rebuke


As Christians we are called to speak, truth in love toward others.  With humility, we are called to lovingly and gently rebuke and instruct our brothers and sisters in Christ.  But when was the last time someone called you out on your stuff?  When was the last time you called someone else out?  We don't, because at the heart, we are scared and lack courage.
'Instead of our being free to love and to plead, to warn and to rebuke, we are hung up with our own inner problems. We are inhibited. We are ourselves guilt-ridden. ('What will she think of me if I say that?') We are not prepared to lay cards on tables or to call spades spades. . . . We beat around the bush, not because we're tactful but because we're cowards.'
- John White, Eros Defiled: The Christian and Sexual Sin 

It is this lack of courage that has cultivated shame and silence on issues such as pornography addiction and all types of sexual sin.  We must rest in the power and freedom of the gospel that reminds us that we are dearly loved and forgiven children of the King - and therefore break the cycle of silence.

(ht: Jared)

Sunday, August 07, 2011

An Interview with David Platt


John Piper sits down with David Platt—both speaking at the forthcoming DG conference on mission—to talk about local discipleship, world missions, and the Word of God.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

True Humility

Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call “humble” nowadays: be will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody.

Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.
- C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

How NOT to Be a Comfort

(an example of  giving real and true comfort from one of my Haiti Mission Team members as she sits with one of the Haitian orphans)

From Route 59: Sometimes as peacemakers we are called to minister to people in moments of suffering and one of the things we should seek to avoid is making the suffering worse. This is because we’re called to minister to the suffering in a biblically faithful, tender, and caring way.

Something that I commonly see (and, sadly, have done myself) is giving poor advice, hurtful words, or empty phrases to people who want to be comforted.

This is an excerpt from Justin and Lindsey Holcomb’s book  Rid of My Disgrace recommending what not to say (and what to say) to a victim of sexual abuse. Although their book is written for people who have been sexually abused, I found a lot of their advice to be applicable in most situations of suffering and well worth reading.

Don’t say:
  • I know how you feel.
  • I understand.
  • You’re lucky that ___________.
  • It’ll take some time, but you’ll get over it.
  • Tell me more details about what happened.
  • I can imagine how you feel.
  • Don’t worry, it’s going to be all right.
  • Try to be strong.
  • Out of tragedies, good things happen.
  • Time heals all wounds.
  • It was God’s will.
  • You need to forgive and move on.
  • Calm down and try to relax.
  • You should get on with your life.
 Do Say:
  • I believe you.
  • Thank you for telling me.
  • How can I help?
  • I’m glad you’re talking with me.
  • I’m glad you’re safe now.
  • It wasn’t your fault.
  • Your reaction is not an uncommon response.
  • It’s understandable you feel that way.
  • You’re not going crazy; these are normal reactions.
  • Things may not ever be the same, but they can get better.
  • It’s OK to cry.
  • I can’t imagine how terrible your experience must have been.
  • I’m sorry this happened to you.
(ht: Route 59)

Rate Your Pastor


As if pastors aren't under the gun often enough, now, on a German website, http://hirtenbarometer.de, you can rate your pastor. Here is the English translation of the site.

There are five areas you rank the pastor on:
  • worship – how good is the service you lead; and is there room for new people
  • credibility – do you trust the pastor; does s/he live up to the values preached?
  • on the cutting edge – does s/he have a finger on the pulse or is out of touch?
  • youth work – works with youth and can be trusted with youth
  • elderly – provides opportunities for the elderly
Each is ranked out of a top score of 6 and then averaged. A pictorial sheep is provided as a rating icon alongside the averaged score: white sheep=very good; black sheep=very bad.

Perhaps the pastor should have the ability to rate the congregation!  Whadda think?

(ht: Liturgy

Friday, August 05, 2011

Rapturepreneurship


From the sad, but true file:

Beware! The end is near! Which means, of course for some people, you'd better cash in while you can. Some entrepreneurs have seen a market ripe for harvest.
Keith Preston, owner of Rapture Ready Consulting in Kenton, Ohio...estimates his company grossed $380,000 in 2009 by selling products like...a smartphone app for $4.99 that tells you if you’re in a flood zone. Although sales plummeted to $200,000 in 2010—the short-lived economic uptick, Rapture-sellers say, cast a pall over the sector—Rapture Ready rebounded this year.
Preston isn't the only one making a move on this market. Take a look at the full article for the other examples.

Full story on Businessweek.

The Internet Changes What We Remember


I am currently reading The Shallows by Nicholas Carr, a book about how the internet is changing our brains and the way we think.  I have been seeing more and more critical studies about the effect of the internet on our thinking and memory.  Here is one that caught my attention:
A recent psychological study in Science suggests we may be changing the way we store memory. Instead of remembering facts and information, we have started to remember where we can find the information online.
Researchers in the study say the internet acts as "transactive memory," meaning we recognize it as an external memory source. The idea isn't new, throughout history we have associated certain people with an expertise or a skill set and who have answers to our questions, but in this case, we're doing the same thing with the internet.
One of the experiments in this study provided a set of facts to two groups of participants and asked them to remember them. Half of the group was told these facts would remain in folders on a computer, the other half were told they would be deleted. Participants who knew the files would be erased performed significantly better in a memory test than those who knew they could pull up the information later.
Lead author Dr. Betsy Sparrow notes to the BBC, "This suggests that for the things we can find online, we tend to keep it online as far as memory is concerned." The participants in the study tended to remember the location of information rather than the information itself.
This study got me thinking about the affect of the internet on our faith, since a means of spiritual growth depends on memorizing spiritual truth so that they get into our heart and mind. Therefore how does this affect the way we catechize children or memorize Scripture.

(ht: LifeHacker)