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


Archive for the ‘gospel’ Category

First Day of High School

This morning I dropped off my daughter Lauren and her friend Emily at high school. High school. I have a daughter in high school. The drive over was fairly quiet. I asked Lauren and Emily how they were feeling about the day.

“Nervous,” they both answered.

I asked them what makes them most nervous … academics, social dynamics, schedule and busyness, the unknown?

“All of it,” they both answered.

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The Gospel

We articulate the message of the gospel in this way: It is the good news that God saves sinners through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son Jesus. It’s worth meditating a bit on each part. That’s what I do in this audio clip:

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What Is Jesus Doing?

*Providence Church (and this blog) is a very communal affair, so … Here are some thoughtful words from Grayson Walker, who is a younger guy in our church trying to sincerely follow Jesus and live out his faith:

Do you remember the Christian fad circa 2001? I do. All the “Christian kids” were wearing them. They weren’t like today’s trendy Silly Bandz. There were no fancy shapes or stretchable “fabrics”. Instead, kids wore simple bracelets — the letters WWJD stitched neatly into them, usually in white. Surely you remember them.

It seems like the aptly named “W.W.J.D.” bracelets had become the cultural mark of young Christians. After all, we seemingly bought into this vision: If only we can remind ourselves ‘What would Jesus do?’ in everyday situations we’ll conquer sin. Of course, that was shortsighted. Whenever we de-emphasize the death and resurrection of Jesus, we lose the very power of the gospel to change us.

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The Church Guards the Gospel

To guard the gospel means to uphold it as true and defend it against whatever is contrary. The very thought confronts one of our deepest cultural values: individualism.

This value makes us feel that “I” am the final authority on what I believe and do. It passes as inclusivism, but it is really just individualism. Far from promoting community, it promotes autonomy and surface relationships.

This value has shaped our view of church as well. Christians love concepts like “organic church,” and we say things like: “When I am with my friends serving people, that is church.” I continue to hear church leaders say that we need to stop talking about what we believe and start focusing on doing what we believe. Such sentiments reflect our individualistic desire to define church and spirituality on our own terms. When someone is confronted by a pastor with regard to his doctrine or conduct, he is likely to hear it as good advice from a respected friend, but not as admonishment from godly authority. His “right” is to proceed however he wants because the individual is the final authority.

So this is an important question for our day. What does it mean that the church guards the gospel?

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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?

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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:

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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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What Does the Lord Require of You?

Our lives are filled with expectations. It starts when we are born and never stops. Every parent expects and longs for their newborn son or daughter to begin walking and talking, which is funny, because in no time at all their expectations will completely change – they will long for nothing more than for their child to sit still and be quiet.

I became an uncle this year to two beautiful girls, and I am discovering that this is perhaps the greatest thing ever. As best I can tell, the expectations are that I will spoil my two nieces to no end, and at the end of the day, I give them back. All of the good without any of the bad. Those are expectations I am willing to live with, I can handle that.

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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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