Providence Church Blog A gospel-centered church in Austin, Tx

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Community Idolatry

Bob Thune and I are working on a follow-up study to The Gospel Centered Life. One of the lessons has this chart, which I am unable to sit on until it is published. So here’s a sneak peek:

Community is about God. Community exists to declare his praises and to exalt his goodness and to display his excellencies. True community – the community we were made for – is God-centered and God-focused and God-exalting.


Repentance Questions

The word “repentance” has picked up a negative connotation in our culture, but it is actually good news. One Bible commentator said, “repentance from the beginning of time to this present hour has been, and remains, the most positive word from the heart of God.” The call to repent is an invitation to give up the futility and frustration of doing life on our terms and turn to God who restore us to the life for which we were made. Often, we do not respond to this invitation because we simply do not think deeply enough about what true repentance would look like for us. So here are eight questions to ask yourself and others. May they help us experience the good news of the gospel!


Advent Devotional

If you are looking for something to guide you through the Advent season, you can download Come Lord Jesus Come for free.


How To Deal With What You’re Not

Here’s a question that snuck up on me this week: Is there anything compelling about your life? That is, does your way of life inspire or challenge or shape those around you? For me, this question surfaces a constant tension between the person I want to be and the person I am.

I will assume that there are times when you feel deep down in your gut that you are not what you want to be. Not as healthy as you want to be. Not as proactive or productive as you want to be. Not as joyful, thoughtful, thankful, faithful, gentle, or peaceful as you want to be. I will assume this is true of you because it makes me feel better about it being true of me.

So how do we deal with this tension?


Ten Reasons to Celebrate Today

I am working at Mozart’s this morning. I have been praying and thinking about what it means to live with a sense of expectancy and dependency — to have “eyes to see” the activity of God around us, and faith to walk in it. So I am considering the gospel and rejoicing in its implications for this moment in my day. Ten causes for celebration:


Walking in the Light (part 2)

How does the gospel help us walk in the light? In 1 John 1, there are three things related to walking in the light: confession, honesty, and cleansing. I want to consider briefly how the gospel enables these three things.


Walking in the Light (part 1)

The basis of any relationship is truth— the representation of things as they really are. I think this is John’s point about what it means to have fellowship with God and with one another (1 John 1:5-2:2). He begins with God: “God is light” … God is true, and what he reveals is true. He cannot lie. With him there are no shifting shadows. He operates entirely in the realm of truth.

To have fellowship with God means to live in the realm of truth. Not just in what we believe or say, but in our actual lives. Fellowship with God is not just knowledge about God, but also to share in his life, to have intimacy with him. I read someone who put it this way: “To walk in the light is to live in openness to Him who searches our hearts and endeavor to live in conformity to whatever He reveals to us.” God is calling us into the light, to share in His life. When we resist, when we ignore him and go our own way, we walk in darkness.


God’s Purpose for Relationships (part 2)

God gives us relationships for our maturity. Paul’s exhortation in Ephesians 4:1-3 is to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” It is not that we must create community. God has already secured that in Christ and called us into the “unity of the Spirit.” We must walk in that calling by “making every effort to maintain” that unity.

I tell my two boys how blessed they are that God put them in the same family. They get to live in the same house, share their things, go on vacations together … they could be the best of friends! I am usually giving this speech because they have been fighting. They compete, argue, bother each other, and all the things siblings tend to do. It’s not the reality of their unity that is broken. They are brothers, like it or not. Rather, it is how they walk in that unity that is broken. As parents, we address their issues because we love them and want to help them learn and grow. In the same way, God has brought us into His family, but we have to walk in it. When we struggle, he lovingly corrects and disciplines us so that we might learn and grow.


God’s Purpose for Relationships (part 1)

God gives us relationships for our joy. This was the design in the beginning, and it is central to our redemption in Christ. Jesus reconciles us to God (Eph 4:1-10) and to one another (Eph 2:11-21).

When God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness (Gen 1:26),” he was saying something about community, because God himself lives in community. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have a wonderful interplay of love and affection, always creating and working together, deferring glory to each other, serving each other, affirming one another’s roles. Do you see the utter joy in the life of the Trinity? This is what God wants for us, that we might experience joy in community even as He does.


Contentment: “Do Not Covet”

Now that we have worked our way through the Ten Commandments, we see what Paul discovered in Romans 7, namely, that we are guilty: “For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’ But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness.” His use of the Tenth Commandment here is instructive. The issue is not that we are doing bad and need to do better. This commandment is not about a behavior problem. It is about a worship problem.