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.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Quotes To Encourage And Inspire


If you're breathing and you know Jesus, you're a missionary. - Alvin Reid

No amount of activity in the King’s service will make up for neglect of the King Himself. - Robert Murray M’Cheyene

My deepest awareness of myself is that I'm deeply loved by Jesus Christ & I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it. - Brennan Manning

Christ is not valued at all, unless he is valued above all. - Saint Augustine

Regret looks back. Worry looks around.  Faith looks up. - John Mason

Removing all risks from your life renders faith unnecessary. Faith requires risks! - Ken Mahaynes

Don’t mistake movement for achievement. It’s easy to get faked out by being busy. The question is: Busy doing what? -  Jim Rohn

Monday, December 30, 2013

Top 5 Posts Of The Year


Looking back at 2013, I've shared a lot on Provocative Church, therefore it is hard to simply qualify the top 5 posts. Yet simply using the metric of "pageviews" - these are the top most visited posts written in 2013. I hope these will bless you again as you revisit them and share them with others.

Top Five Regrets Of Dying

The Book Of Judges Infographic

Four Kinds Of People

Idols Infographic

How To Spot A Legalist

Saturday, December 28, 2013

30 Incredible Year End Ebook Deals



Center Church by Tim Keller – $4.49
The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones – $1.99
The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller – $7.99
Jesus the King by Tim Keller – $7.99
The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Tim Keller – $1.62
The Scriptures Testify about Me: Jesus & the Gospel in the Old Testament  by Tim Keller, D.A. Carson, Alistair Begg, Matt Chandler, & more – $3.49


GOSPEL by J.D. Greear. Foreword by Tim Keller – $3.49
Jesus on Every Page by David Murray – $2.99
Does God Desire All To Be Saved? by John Piper – $1.99
Knowing God by J.I. Packer – $2.99
Willing to Believe by R.C. Sproul – $3.49 


Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions by Gregory Koukl – $2.99
Nine Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever – $3.99
Effective Bible Teaching by James Wilhoit and Leland Ryken – $3.49
How to Read the Bible Book by Book  by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart – $2.99
I Am Second: Real Stories. Changing Lives. by Dave Sterrett – $2.99
How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart – $2.99
7 Truths That Changed the World by Kenneth Samples – $3.03
A to Z with C.S. Lewis by Louis Markos – $0.99
A Life Observed: A Spiritual Biography of C.S. Lewis by Devin Brown – $2.99
Faith & Life by B.B. Warfield – $0.99 


Resisting Gossip by Matthew Mitchell - $3.99
Chronological Study Bible - $4.99
NIV Study Bible – $4.27
Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary – $4.27
MacArthur Study Bibles - $4.99
Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung – $3.99 
A Quest for More by Paul Tripp – $3.03
NIV Bible Study Commentary by John Sailhamer – $2.99 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Great Ebook Deals - Post Christmas Edition



Even though Christmas is in the rearview mirror....perhaps some of you have some Christmas cash burning a hole in your pocket, or you have received some new devices that need to be filled up with some good books? Either way, check out these great deals on all of these great titles!

Christian Focus has put the following Torchbearers e-books on sale for $3.99 through January 6th:

Polycarp: The Crown of Fire
William Tyndale: The Smuggler’s Flame
Nate Saint: Operation Auca
James Chalmers: The Rainmaker’s Friend
Jim Elliot: He Is No Fool
The Two Margarets
Titanic: Ship of Dreams

Also definitely worth checking out:

Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson—$2.99
Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem by Kevin DeYoung—$3.99
Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home by Gloria Furman—$2.99
Jesus on Every Page by David Murray—$2.99
The Conviction to Lead by Albert Mohler—$2.99
The Life of God in the Soul of the Church The Root and Fruit of Spiritual Fellowship by Thabiti Anyabwile—$3.99
Willing to Believe: The Controversy over Free Will by R.C. Sproul—$3.99
A Better Way: Rediscovering the Drama of God-Centered Worship by Michael Horton—$3.99
Does God Desire All to Be Saved? by John Piper—$1.99
The Scriptures Testify about Me: Jesus and the Gospel in the Old Testament edited by D.A. Carson—$3.99
Nine Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever—$3.99

Nancy Ganz’s Herein is Love series is available for $1.99 each:

Vol. 1: Genesis
Vol. 2: Exodus
Vol. 3: Leviticus
Vol. 4: Numbers
Vol. 5: Deuteronomy

Also,  Zondervan and Thomas Nelson have put a ton of titles on sale from their catalogue. Here are a few worth checking out:

Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman—$2.99
Gods at War by Kyle Idleman—$2.99
Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem—$8.99
Center Church by Tim Keller—$4.99
Evangelical Theology by Michael F. Bird—$7.99
The Christian Faith by Michael Horton—$8.99
Historical Theology by Gregg R. Allison—$7.99

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Message Of Advent - Repentance

"So the whole of the message of Advent becomes an urgent sermon, calling men and women to repentance. Before Jesus came John the Baptist, and we must not over him. For the whole of the early Christians, Advent was a time for repentance, not for rejoicing. All the hymns that we have sung speak of this and it seems to me that it is right that we should have sung with repentant hearts. (But now it is true that in three days, Christmas will come once again. The great transformation will once again happen. God would have it so. Out of the waiting, hoping, longing world will come in which the promise is given. All crying will be stilled. No tears shall flow. No lonely sorrow shall afflict us any more, or threaten. The One who helps us is there. He, who never leaves us alone, is there"
 - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Sunday, December 22, 2013

My Advent Devotional

this is my entry into my church's Advent devotional....

Mark 10: 26, 27 - The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

From all appearances, salvation seems impossible when one thinks of a holy and perfect God being united and reconciled to sinful man. And the truth of the matter is, that is impossible. Because of our sinful condition we stand separated from God. If left to our own resources, we are doomed, with no hope or solution. Salvation is impossible through us. Yet God did the impossible. God helped bring about reconciliation by uniting himself with man through the incarnation of Jesus. The incarnation is Emmanuel, God with Us. That is what the prophets of old anticipated, the promise of the coming Messiah. The incarnation is what we celebrate during this Advent Season.

Jesus, being fully God and fully man accomplished what no person could. Because Jesus is God, holy and perfect, living a perfect, sinless life, He didn’t have His own sins to pay for. Therefore Jesus could pay for your sins on the cross. Yet also because Jesus was eternal God, He could go beyond just payment of sins for a single person, rather His death could pay the penalty for the sins of the world. (John 3:16)

Prayer: Jesus thank you that you accomplished the impossible and willing came to earth, became man and dwelt among us. Thank you that you lived the perfect life, that I was unable to live and willingly went to the cross - to the pay the death penalty that I justly deserved.

(pictured above...Jesus and the rich young ruler)

Someone Is Coming


Christmas like you've never seen it before - a Bible overview that connects present day to the very first Christmas day.

Add a bit more wonder to your Christmas services by downloading this video from their store:
UK: http://shop.plungepool.co.uk
USA:http://gumroad.com/plungepool

Friday, December 20, 2013

InstaChristmas


This video below is from Discovery Church in Melbourne, Australia. They tell the Christmas story using some 600 Instagram photos:

You can also download an HD version of the video to use in your church



Lazarus At The Rich Man's Gate...


Luke 16:

19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas In The Dark Places

This can be a very difficult season for many people - loneliness, hurt & pain - yet real Christmas can shine in the darkest places.

Christmas in Dark Places by RevivalMedia

 
It used to be summer when Christmas came round,
Neath tall southern skies, over sun-scorched ground,
With the backyard cricket, the barbies, the beach,
And munching on mangoes to watch the Queen's Speech.
The slatherings of sunscreen, the glorious glare
And toasting the glow in the warm evening air. 
It used to be summer... when I was young.
A golden age in a land far flung.
But there came a point, I crossed a divide,
Went up in the world and summer had died.
December is dark now, the nights close in,
So we huddle together as kith and as kin.

It's winter now when Christmas rolls round,
We celebrate still though with different surrounds.
We mull the wine and strike the matches,
Light the fires, batten the hatches,
Gather around the warming beam
Of family love or a TV screen.
So safe inside, no place to go,
We toast marshmallows and let it snow.

Our summer's gone, if you've been around,
you've felt the fall: life's run aground.
We've gone up in the world, seen summer die.
So what's our hope? The dark defy?
Stoke the hearth? Retreat indoors?
Rug up warm with you and yours?
The shadow reaches even here,
But THIS is the place for Christmas cheer.

It's dark, in the bible, when Christmas is spoken.
Always a bolt from the blue for the broken.
It's the valley of shadow, the land of the dead,
It's, "No place in the inn," so He stoops to the shed.
He's born to the shameful, bends to the weak,
becomes the lowly: the God who can't speak!
And yet, what a Word, this Saviour who comes,
Our dismal, abysmal depths He plumbs.
Through crib and then cross, to compass our life.
To carry and conquer. Our Brother in strife.
He became what we are: our failures He shouldered,
To bring us to His life: forever enfolded.
He took on our frailty, He took on all-comers,
To turn all our winters to glorious summers.

It's Christmas now... whatever the weather,
Some soak in the sun, some huddle together.
But fair days or foul, our plight He embraces.
Real Christmas can shine in the darkest of places.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Blessings Of Family

You'll get some good vibes from this very cool Coca-Cola ad on the blessings (and yet challenges) of family.

 

Monday, December 09, 2013

Personal Idols Destroy Community

One of the primary laws of human life is that you become like what you worship; what’s more, you reflect what you worship not only back to the object itself but also outward to the world around. Those who worship money increasingly define themselves in terms of it and increasingly treat other people as creditors, debtors, partners, or customers rather than as human beings. Those who worship sex define themselves in terms of it (their preferences, their practices, their past histories) and increasingly treat other people as actual or potential sexual objects. Those who worship power define themselves in terms of it and treat other people as either collaborators, competitors, or pawns. These and many other forms of idolatry combine in a thousand ways, all of them damaging to the image-bearing quality of the people concerned and of those whose lives they touch.
- N.T. Wright, Surprised By Hope

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

The Incredible Shrinking Work Of The Cross



Every time we look at the cross Christ seems to say to us, ‘I am here because of you. It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying.’ Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary. It is there, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our true size.
- John R. W. Stott, The Message of Galatians

Monday, December 02, 2013

Suffering Is Inventible

No matter how much we want to avoid suffering and pain...it is a part of life.

Tim Keller says it well in his latest book:
“No matter what precautions we take, no matter how well we have put together a good life, no matter how hard we have worked to be healthy, wealthy, comfortable with friends and family, and successful with our career — something will inevitably ruin it.”
Get his latest book - Walking with God through Pain and Suffering 

Sunday, December 01, 2013

10 Things To Be Thankful For



from J. Lee Grady

If you are reading this online, you are already blessed because 70 percent of the world has no access to the Internet. Here are 10 more things you should be thankful for:

1. Got drinkable water? About 1.1 billion people in the world don’t have access to clean drinking water. Because of that, about 9 million people will die this year because of water-related illnesses. The next time you open a bottle of Dasani or drink from your tap, remember that millions of women around the world spend an average of four hours daily walking to get water.

2. Do you eat three meals a day? The World Health Organization estimates that one-third of the world’s population is overfed, one-third is underfed and one-third is starving. Approximately 925 million people in the developing world are chronically undernourished, and 15 million children die annually because of hunger.

3. Got electricity? About 1.5 billion people in this world have no access to electrical power. In the nation of Malawi, where I preached two weeks ago, only 9 percent of the people have electric lights. Do you enjoy that oven in your kitchen? The next time you prepare a meal, remember that 2.5 billion people in the world still use wood or charcoal to cook their food. Do you enjoy your washing machine? Data analyst Hans Rosling recently reported that 5 billion people in the world still wash their clothes by hand.

4. Got a roof over your head? The U.N. Commission on Human Rights says there are 100 million homeless people in the world. One in three children in the world live without adequate shelter. And today there are about 42 million people who are living as refugees. Most were displaced by war and live in crude camps.

5. Do you own a car? The United States still has the highest number of motor vehicles in the world. Globally, only 1 out of every 8 people has access to a car. Many of the others either walk, take crowded buses or public vans or ride on bicycles, rickshaws or animals. Did you fly somewhere in the past year? You are blessed. Only 5 to 7 percent of people in the world have ever flown in an airplane.

6. Do you have a flushable toilet? The United Nations Development Program reports that 2.6 billion people do not have access to any toilet facilities. India has the largest percentage of people who lack adequate sanitation. About 638 million Indians must go outdoors.

7. Can you read? Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names. There are 72 million children who should be in school but are not enrolled. If you have a college degree, you are in a privileged minority; only 6.7 percent of people in the world have a college diploma.

8. Do you have health care? Here in the United States, we are debating the pros and cons of Obamacare—and griping about the reliability of the government’s infamous health care website. But let’s keep in mind that in developing countries, you might wait 8 hours to see a doctor in a clinic where there are no medicines and no electricity—and you might have to bribe the doctor to see him.

9. Do you have political freedom? About 1.6 billion people in the world live in repressive societies where they have no say in how they are governed. They face severe consequences if they express their beliefs or assemble peacefully. The most oppressive countries today include North Korea, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Eritrea and Equatorial Guinea.

10. Are you free to worship?
More than 75 percent of the world's population lives in areas with severe religious restrictions. Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution simply because of their belief in Jesus Christ.

I encourage you to make your own list of blessings. Thanksgiving is not an optional virtue. Without it, our pride swells and our selfishness consumes us. This is why David wrote, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits” (Ps. 103:2, NASB). Thanksgiving is an important exercise because it adjusts our attitude. It calibrates our hearts so we remember again why we are blessed and who deserves the credit for our blessings.

The Importance Of Advent


“The time before Christmas is Advent, a season of preparation for Christmas. Christians prepare for celebrating the birth of Jesus by remembering the longing of the Jews for a Messiah. In Advent, we’re reminded of how much we ourselves also need a Savior, and we look forward to our Savior’s second coming even as we prepare to celebrate his first coming at Christmas. The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word advent us, which means “coming” or “visit.” In the season with this name, we keep in mind both “advents” of Christ, the first in Bethlehem and the second yet to come. 
— via Mark Roberts

(cross posted with Ministry Best Practices)