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


Archive for the ‘community’ Category

The Gospel and the Church

For the most part, people in our culture have written off the church as a necessary or even a helpful institution. The result is a movement, even among Christians, toward decentralization and individualism. That which has historically been central to the church is now being pushed out to the individual so that “I” am the authority when it comes to what I believe and what I do. I see why we are like this, but honestly, it is just another swing of the pendulum from our experience of ineffective or abusive churches to a definition of church that really isn’t church at all, historically speaking. The answer, of course, is not to do away with the church, but to be the church, truly.

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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.

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Community: Just a Matter of Personal Choice?

Community. As Christians, we all want it. Unfortunately, we often want it primarily for what we will get out of it, not for what we might have to put into it. Because of this, it is easy to have a consumeristic approach to community. We want to tailor-make our community in much the same way we would custom order an automobile (“I want the pearl white exterior, tan leather interior, and navigation system, but no sunroof.”) This approach makes sense to us, because we get to choose everything else in our lives (from the songs we download to the type of milk in our latte). So why shouldn’t we be able to choose our community in such a way that it maximizes our own growth and best fits our own preferences, schedule, and comfort?

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The Discipline of Presence

“Know that showing up is half the battle.”

I lifted weights five days a week this summer with my little brother—his senior season of basketball provided the motivation to get stronger. The above quote was posted on the front door of the gym, and for the three months we spent working out at 6:30am, it was true. The hardest part, easily, was just getting there. Never did we show up and decide not to work out. And the workout itself was always pretty enjoyable—we were there together, and afterwards our bodies felt good and refreshed.

The only barrier that my brother and I truly experienced in working out was the mornings when sleep was just too hard to overcome, and so we didn’t show up. Our presence at the gym was crucial to us getting stronger.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Feedback

When my kid falls off his bike, he looks at me to determine how he should feel about it. If I let out a scream and run toward him, he will start crying. If I say, “Awesome wipeout, dude!” he will give me a thumbs-up. Kids are funny like that, and by funny I mean transparent.

When you have a conversation with someone or give a presentation, don’t you wonder how it went; that is, how you should feel about it? I do: Did I offend that person? Was that sermon any good? Could that meeting have been more effective? Is this counsel helpful? These questions point to my various insecurities, sure, but also to the need we all have for honest feedback.

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