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, May 31, 2012

Praying The Gospel Every Day


From Scotty’s Smith’s Everyday Prayers: 365 Days to a Gospel-centered Faith (Baker, 2011), pp. 13-14:

Praying the gospel involves engaging with all three offices of Christ: Jesus as prophet, priest, and king.

Engaging him as our prophet, we listen to Jesus and we look for him in every part of the Scriptures (Luke 24:27).

Engaging him as our priest, we honor Jesus as the perfect sacrifice for our sins, the righteousness we have by faith, and our loving Savior and High Priest who meets and greets us at the throne of his grace.

Engaging him as our king, we submit to Jesus as the one who is making all things new—including us and the broken world all around us.

Praying the gospel involves “redemptive redundancies.” I intentionally always come back to who we are in Christ and who he is in us. Like Luther said, we need the basics of the gospel every day because we forget the gospel every day.

Praying the gospel also involves connecting with the grand meta narrative of the Bible, which runs through and connects all sixty-six books. This redemptive-historical way of praying helps us remember our calling to be characters in and carriers of God’s story. God’s story unfolds through the fourfold plotline of creation, fall, redemption, and consummation. Keeping this big story line in mind helps us consistently focus on the person and work of Jesus.

Indeed, the central and operative question in life is not “What would Jesus do if he were here?” Rather, it is “What is Jesus doing?” since he is right here, and everywhere else, right now. The two things that Jesus has “signed on for”—the two things that are central to the history of redemption and echo through every one of these prayers—are his commitment to redeem his bride from every nation and his commitment to restore creation and usher in the new heaven and new earth at his return. These two passions of Jesus are assumed in every one of my prayers.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Crows Always Remember Who Wronged Them


I always thought the way crows seem to examine humans was a little creepy. As it turns out, I was right; they’re looking at you so they can tell if you have wronged them in the past.

A new study has revealed that crows memorize the faces of people who have wronged them and they may even bring in mobs of other crows to attack the person if they see them later on. The crows in the mobs will also remember the person’s face, so even if you never harmed that specific crow, it may still organize a mob against you. The bottom line is: don’t mess with crows.

But unfortunately this can be true of other people too - or even us.  We hold on to grudges.  We remember those who have offended us - whether intentionally or not. And unfortunately we hold on to that offensive and forgiveness is not offered.

But the gospel demands forgiveness. Paul writes in Colossians 3:13 - Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 

When we live in light of the gospel, we can forgive others, because we remember dearly how richly we've been forgiven by our holy Father.

“In our sin, we are worse off than we know, but in God's grace we are more loved than we can ever imagine.” — Tim Keller

(ht: Mental Floss)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What The Church Needs Today


Provocative words from E. M. Bounds.
What the church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use—men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not anoint plans, but men—men of prayer.
- Preacher and Prayer

(ht: Joe Thorn)

Monday, May 28, 2012

The End Of Missional


Nothing could be more important than clarity about the mission Jesus’ entrusted to us as his followers.

Yet nothing could be less clear, at least for the church of the affluent West.

Western clergy and theologians have been rethinking the nature of the church’s mission for over a century.

The journey began with the Student Volunteer Movement which morphed into the World Council of Churches. A dynamic, evangelical, missionary movement became a century-long talkfest, the fruit of which was the rejection of traditional missionary endeavour as evangelism and church planting, and the collapse of the progressive mainline denominations.

The mainline churches became captive to the spirit of the age which sidelined God, and placed humankind’s dignity, aspirations, values, and needs at the centre of the universe.*

Today, a new generation of evangelicals are going down that same path. They will face the same consequences.

Mission is increasingly about creating an economically just society on earth, and caring for the environment. Even starting businesses can bring in the kingdom of God. This holistic mission seeks to both transform society, and win disciples. Both are equally valid.

There are no priorities. Mission is everything the church is sent into the world to do. We are all missionaries now.

When everyone feeds the horse. The horse starves. When everything is mission. Nothing is. When everyone is a missionary. No one is.

*Christopher Little, What Makes Mission Christian?

(ht: Movements)

The Great Paradox Of Life


“The great paradox of life is that those who lose their lives will gain them. This paradox becomes visible in very ordinary situations. If we cling to our friends, we may lose them, but when we are nonpossessive in our relationships, we will make many friends. When fame is what we seek and desire, it often vanishes as soon as we acquire it, but when we have no need to be known, we might be remembered long after our deaths. When we want to be in the center, we easily end up on the margins, but when we are free enough to be wherever we must be, we find ourselves often in the center.

Giving away our lives for others is the greatest of all human arts. This will gain us our lives.”

 - Henri Nouwen

We Already Have Christ


I used to think that growing as a Christian meant I had to somehow go out and obtain the qualities and attitudes I was lacking. To really mature, I needed to find a way to get more joy, more patience, more faithfulness, and so on. Then I came to the shattering realization that this isn’t what the Bible teaches, and it isn’t the gospel. What the Bible teaches is that we mature as we come to a greater realization of what we already have in Christ. The gospel, in fact, transforms us precisely because it’s not itself a message about our internal transformation but about Christ’s external substitution...."
by Tullian Tchividjian from Jesus + Nothing = Everything




Sunday, May 27, 2012

That Idol That You Love Doesn’t Love You Back


Everyone has to live for something and if that something isn’t the one true God, it will be a false God–an idol.

An idol is anything more important to you than God. Therefore, you can turn even very good things into idols. You can turn a good thing like family, success, acceptance, money, your plans, etc. into a god thing–into something you worship and place at the center of your life.

This is what sin is. Sin is building your life and meaning on anything (even a good thing) more than God. Do you know the idols you’re prone to worship? There are about four root idols that we tend to attach our lives to.

CONTROL. You know you have a control idol if your greatest nightmare is uncertainty.

APPROVAL. You know you have an approval idol if your greatest nightmare is rejection.

COMFORT. You know you have a comfort idol if your greatest nightmare is stress/demands.

POWER. You know you have a power idol if your greatest nightmare is humiliation.

Which one or more do you find yourself attaching to the most?

(ht: Crossway)

Friends Are Free Gifts From God


“We need friends. Friends guide us, care for us, confront us in love, console us in times of pain. Although we speak of “making friends,” friends cannot be made. Friends are free gifts from God. But God gives us the friends we need when we need them if we fully trust in God’s love.
Friends cannot replace God. They have limitations and weaknesses like we have. Their love is never faultless, never complete. But in their limitations they can be signposts on our journey towards the unlimited and unconditional love of God. Let’s enjoy the friends whom God has sent on our way.”

- Henri Nouwen

A Sonship Which Comes By Promise


And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:6)

We are not the sons of God by nature in the sense here meant. We are in a sense “the offspring God” by nature, but this is very different from the sonship here described, which is the peculiar privilege of those who are born again. The Jews claimed to be of the family of God, but as their privileges came to them by the way of their fleshly birth, they are likened to Ishmael, who was born after the flesh, but who was cast out as the son of the bondwoman, and compelled to give way to the son of the promise.

We have a sonship which does not come to us by nature, for we are “born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Our sonship comes by promise, by the operation of God as a special gift to a peculiar seed, set apart unto the Lord by his own sovereign grace, as Isaac was. This honour and privilege come to us, according to the connection of our text, by faith. Note well the twenty-sixth verse of the preceding chapter (Gal. 3:26): “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”

As unbelievers we know nothing of adoption. While we are under the law as self-righteous we know something of servitude, but we know nothing of sonship. It is only after that faith has come that we cease to be under the schoolmaster, and rise out of our minority to take the privileges of the sons of God.

Adapted from Charles Spurgeon, “Adoption—The Spirit and the Cry,” as published in The Sermons of Charles Spurgeon: Sermons 1-200 (Vol 1 of 4)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Simple Dependence

But faith in Jesus is not simple agreement with his words in principle; it is dependence on him to such a degree that you renounce all other things in life that have occupied a place of supremacy. 
-Joe Thorn from Note to Self

Would Anyone Miss You?


If you and your church were to disappear off the face of the earth tomorrow, would anyone in the community around you notice you were gone? And if the community did even notice would they say ‘we are really glad they are gone’, or ‘we are really going to miss them’?
-Tim Keller

(ht: Keller Quotes)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Why Is It So Hard To Repent?


It’s hard to repent. And while it’s hard enough to repent before a perfect God, it’s even harder to repent before an imperfect human being. To admit that you have injured or neglected another person, then to go the person and say, “I’m sorry. I’m ashamed. Will you forgive me?”—to do this is mortifying. It kills us to do it. You need to be a big person to give it a serious try. That’s the paradox of repentance, says, C.S. Lewis. Only a bad person needs to repent. Only a good person can do it.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

The Top 10 Most Read Books in the World



by Jared. Browse more data visualizations.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Use The Wrong People

In Jesus’ simple command to ‘make disciples,’ he has invited every one of his followers to share the life of Christ with others in a sacrificial, intentional, global effort to multiply the gospel of Christ through others. He never intended to limit this invitation to the most effective communicators, the most brilliant organizers, or the most talented leaders and artists — all the allegedly right people that you and I are prone to exalt in the church. Instead, the Spirit of God has empowered every follower of Christ to accomplish the purpose of God for the glory of God in the world. This includes the so-called wrong people: those who are least effective, least brilliant, or least talented in the church.
Building the right church, then, is dependent on using all the wrong people.
— David Platt -Radical Together

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

The Cure for Cold Religion

The reason our affections are so chilled and cold in religion—is that we do not warm them with thoughts of God. Hold a magnifying glass to the sun, and the glass burns that which is near to it. So when our thoughts are lifted up to Christ, the Sun of righteousness, our affections are set on fire. No sooner had the spouse been thinking upon her Savior’s beauty—but she fell into love-sickness. (Song of Sol. 5:8).
O saints, do but let your thoughts dwell upon the love of Christ, who passed by angels and thought of you; who was wounded that, out of his wounds, the balm of Gilead might come to heal you; who leaped into the sea of his Father’s wrath, to save you from drowning in the lake of fire! Think of this unparalleled love, which sets the angels wondering—and see if it will not affect your hearts and cause tears to flow forth!
 — Thomas Watson (The Great Gain of Godliness), p. 87

(ht: Ordinary Pastor