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, September 23, 2012

Turning Back To The True God



The only way to free ourselves from the destructive influence of counterfeit gods is to turn back to the true one. The living God, who revealed himself both at Mount Sinai and on the Cross, is the only Lord who, if you find him, can truly fulfill you, and, if you fail him, can truly forgive you.
- Tim Keller from Counterfeit Gods

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Praying For Your Pastor


from Joe Thorn

There are a number of ways we should be praying for our leaders in the church, here is an encouragement for you to pray for your pastors and their preaching in 4 specific ways.

Pray fervently…

FOR THE WORD TO BE AT WORK IN HIS HEART
Before he preaches the word to others your pastor needs to experience the word himself. Pray that he would search the Scripture to know God and his truth personally, and then bring that to the people. Ask God to impress on him the practical implications of the doctrines revealed in the text, to convict him of his own sin, and work grace in his heart. Ask God to make his message the offspring of Bible and belief, bearing the distinguishing marks of truth and passion.

FOR JESUS TO BE EXALTED IN HIS MESSAGE
The goal of his preaching should be to make much of Jesus, bringing him before the people with clarity and conviction. So, pray that whether he is in the Old or New Testaments, hitting a passage heavy on law or gospel, that he would be led to point his hearers to the gospel hope of pardon and peace in Jesus Christ.

FOR THE SPIRIT TO EMPOWER HIS PREACHING

FOR HIS SATISFACTION TO BE FOUND IN JESUS

Read the Joe's entire post HERE

Thursday, September 13, 2012

8 Helps For Growing In Godliness



from Joe Thorn:


Toward the end of Thomas Watson’s, The Godly Man’s Picture, are these 8 “rules” or helps for growing in godliness. They are summarized below.

1. Use the Means of Grace.
Be intentional and consistent in the use of the means of grace. Seek to know and become more like Jesus through prayer, Scripture, corporate worship, etc. Use every means God has given you to know him and grow in his likeness.

2. Beware the World.
“The world eats the heart out of godliness, as the ivy eats the heart out of the oak.” The world, as a system and kingdom, is at war with the Kingdom of God and the life of faith. Know its dangers and guard yourself against its charms and temptations.

3. Set Your Mind on Things Above.
“Accustom yourself to holy thoughts.” Growing in godliness is connected to where your mind and heart dwell. Be sure to give yourself to the biblical discipline of divine meditation on the truths revealed in Scripture.

4. Watch your Hearts.
Guard your thoughts and affections by praying against sin and watching against temptation. “The heart has a thousand doors to run out from,” so we must watch it carefully and lead ourselves, again and again, back to the gospel where we find our identity, hope, confidence, strength, and salvation.

5. Guard Your Time.
“Time misspent is not time lived but time lost.” It’s not that time itself is precious, but that we “work out our salvation” in it, making it a precious commodity. Use your time thoughtfully for all good things: work, recreation, rest, spiritual disciplines, etc.

6. Consider the Shortness of Your Life.
“There is but a span between the cradle and the grave,” and this should move us to make the most of our days. God has not promised us tomorrow, but as he has given us today. This realization should promote the priority of godliness as we live now, preparing for the life to come.

7. Make this Your Maxim: Godliness is your Purpose.
“God never sent a man into the world only to eat, drink and put on fine clothes, but that they might serve him in holiness and righteousness (Luke 1:74, 75).” Just yesterday I quoted Sinclair Ferguson who said, “If the glory of God is the ultimate goal of all things, including our sanctification, conformity to Christ is the immediate goal of that sanctification. We are called to be like him. Our corresponding responsibility is to become like him.” I like saying we are his to know him and make him known. The pursuit and experience of godliness lies at the heart of that.

8. Surround Yourself with Godly People.
“Be often among the godly. They are the salt of the earth, and they will season you.” You need their counsel, prayers, love, and fellowship to grow and remain healthy in godliness. The fellowship of the saints will sharpen and strengthen you.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wading Into the Gospel Pool


The Gospel has been described as a pool in which a toddler can wade and yet an elephant can swim. It is both simple enough to tell to a child and profound enough for the greatest minds to explore.
 -Tim Keller

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Is Your Gospel Too Small?

A gospel which is only about the moment of conversion but does not extend to every moment of life in Christ is too small. A gospel that gets your sins forgiven but offers no power for transformation is too small. A gospel that isolates one of the benefits of union with Christ and ignores all the others is too small. A gospel that must be measured by your own moral conduct, social conscience, or religious experience is too small. A gospel that rearranges the components of your life but does not put you personally in the presence of God is too small. 
- Fred Sanders, The Deep Things of God

(ht: Vitamin Z)

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Are We Addicted To Social Media?


I certainly appreciate the new and exciting opportunities that come with social media but is it controlling our lives? Are we addicted? It is a question I have to ask myself. Is it merely a tool that serves me, or am I serving it like a slave. Serving it always with updates, tweets, posts and checkins??  Technology does make an impact on us, and we always need to approach it with discernment.

 

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

The 10 Warning Signs Of An Inwardly Obsessed Church


  1. Worship wars. One or more factions in the church want the music just the way they like it. Any deviation is met with anger and demands for change. The order of service must remain constant. Certain instrumentation is required while others are prohibited. 
  2. Prolonged minutia meetings. The church spends an inordinate amount of time in different meetings. Most of the meetings deal with the most inconsequential items, while the Great Commission and Great Commandment are rarely the topics of discussion. 
  3. Facility focus. The church facilities develop iconic status. One of the highest priorities in the church is the protection and preservation of rooms, furniture, and other visible parts of the church’s buildings and grounds. 
  4. Program driven. Every church has programs even if they don’t admit it. When we start doing a ministry a certain way, it takes on programmatic status. The problem is not with programs. The problem develops when the program becomes an end instead of a means to greater ministry. 
  5. Inwardly focused budget. A disproportionate share of the budget is used to meet the needs and comforts of the members instead of reaching beyond the walls of the church. 
  6. Inordinate demands for pastoral care. All church members deserve care and concern, especially in times of need and crisis. Problems develop, however, when church members have unreasonable expectations for even minor matters. Some members expect the pastoral staff to visit them regularly merely because they have membership status. 
  7. Attitudes of entitlement. This issue could be a catch-all for many of the points named here. The overarching attitude is one of demanding and having a sense of deserving special treatment. 
  8. Greater concern about change than the gospel. Almost any noticeable changes in the church evoke the ire of many; but those same passions are not evident about participating in the work of the gospel to change lives. 
  9. Anger and hostility. Members are consistently angry. They regularly express hostility toward the church staff and other members. 
  10. Evangelistic apathy. Very few members share their faith on a regular basis. More are concerned about their own needs rather than the greatest eternal needs of the world and community in which they live. 
Read the rest.

(ht: Thom Rainer)

N.T. Wright On Homosexuality


Recently in this POST, I brought you a video with Tim Keller discussing how the church ought to respond to LGBT neighbors. This week N.T. Wright discusses the need for meaningful debate on the issue rather than a shouting match. He also unpacks how he reads the Scriptures on the issue of marriage.


(ht: Out of Ur)

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Life Only Has Meaning If....


from Tony Reinke

Timothy Keller writes the following in his book The Gospel in Life: Grace Changes Everything, Study Guide(Zondervan, 2010), page 40:

Why do we lie, or fail to love, or break our promises, or live selfishly? Of course, the general answer is “Because we are weak and sinful,” but the specific answer is that there is something besides Jesus Christ that we feel we must have to be happy, something that is more important to our heart than God, something that is enslaving our heart through inordinate desires. The key to change (and even to self-understanding) is therefore to identify the idols of the heart.”

After explaining the idolatry theme more closely from Romans 1:18–25, Galatians 4:8–9, and 1 John 5:21, Keller lists particular categories for personal reflection. The idol categories include the following:

“Life only has meaning/I only have worth if…

  • I have power and influence over others.” (Power Idolatry)
  • I am loved and respected by _____.” (Approval Idolatry)
  • I have this kind of pleasure experience, a particular quality of life.” (Comfort idolatry)
  • I am able to get mastery over my life in the area of _____.” (Control idolatry)
  • people are dependent on me and need me.” (Helping Idolatry)
  • someone is there to protect me and keep me safe.” (Dependence idolatry)
  • I am completely free from obligations or responsibilities to take care of someone.” (Independence idolatry)
  • I am highly productive and getting a lot done.” (Work idolatry)
  • I am being recognized for my accomplishments, and I am excelling in my work.” (Achievement idolatry)
  • I have a certain level of wealth, financial freedom, and very nice possessions.” (Materialism idolatry)
  • I am adhering to my religion’s moral codes and accomplished in its activities.” (Religion idolatry)
  • this one person is in my life and happy to be there, and/or happy with me.” (Individual person idolatry)
  • I feel I am totally independent of organized religion and am living by a self-made morality.” (Irreligion idolatry)
  • My race and culture is ascendant and recognized as superior.” (Racial/cultural idolatry)
  • a particular social grouping or professional grouping or other group lets me in.” (Inner ring idolatry)
  • My children and/or my parents are happy and happy with me.” (Family idolatry)
  • Mr. or Ms. “Right” is in love with me.” (Relationship Idolatry)
  • I am hurting, in a problem; only then do I feel worthy of love or able to deal with guilt.” (Suffering idolatry)
  • My political or social cause is making progress and ascending in influence or power.” (Ideology idolatry)
  • I have a particular kind of look or body image.” (Image idolatry)
Then he looks more closely at the first four categories:

If you seek POWER (success, winning, influence)…
Your greatest nightmare: Humiliation
People around you often feel: Used
Your problem emotion: Anger

If you seek APPROVAL (affirmation, love, relationships)…
Your greatest nightmare: Rejection
People around you often feel: Smothered
Your problem emotion: Cowardice

If you seek COMFORT (privacy, lack of stress, freedom)…
Your greatest nightmare: Stress, demands
People around you often feel: Neglected
Your problem emotion: Boredom

If you seek CONTROL (self-discipline, certainty, standards)…
Your greatest nightmare: Uncertainty
People around you often feel: Condemned
Your problem emotion: Worry

For more information check out his workbook and DVD.

(ht: Tony)