Thursday, 15 August 2013

Weekly Wrap (12/08)

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

Thought it was about time to share a lighter-hearted video on my blog... check out this video all about Terrorist Toothpaste... yep, Terrorist Toothpaste. This is well worth a listen and will make you laugh!

Hybels: How To Stay Replenished - "Bill Hybels shares his painfully-learned lessons about staying replenished in the midst of stormy circumstances. Ask yourself: Am I going to be able to keep this up?" A great video and a must view for anyone in any kind of leadership position anywhere - fantastic insights and self-care ideas from a much respected leader.

Church Signs of The Week - Okay, so the article is a little old but this is a great post by Ed Stetzer. I have long appreciated his classic church signs posts and this one is terrible (in a good way...) Enjoy!

Counselling Cohabiting Couples - "Cohabitation is increasing and becoming more widely accepted as an alternative to marriage, with the result that marriage is being delayed or disregarded altogether. Cohabitation is here to stay. How do we counsel those for whom cohabitation is the expected norm?" A very good question indeed - Phil Smidt provides some insightful ideas.

Parenting For Dummies - Yes, this is another post that will make you laugh. Enjoy Eugene Cho's post on how to best parent your children. This is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud!

6 Ways Small Churches Can Love Their Communities - "What if you are the pastor of a small church but would like to do something to serve your community? What if you love the idea of adopting a school, but barely have enough resources to cover your nursery on Sunday? Is it possible to do acts of mercy in your local Jerusalem with a tiny band of volunteers?" Daniel Darling provides 6 key ideas to empower churches to better love their communities.

Thought for the day...

"As long as we remember who God is, we will serve him radically and joyfully."
— Tim Keller

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Weekly Wrap (04/08)

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

Would we have been friends with C.S. Lewis? John Piper and Tim Keller discuss and reflect on the life, beliefs and generosity of C.S. Lewis.

Simon Prevette - "You aren’t incredibly gifted? Well, welcome to the club of the “average.” Most of us dwell there. As an encouragement, let me introduce you to Simon Prevette. He is a man you have never heard of, but he is a man you should know." A great article written by Jason Helopoulos, guest blogger on Kevin DeYoung's blog.

Teaching Children The Bible - "These children think they have to keep the rules or God won’t love them. They think if they mess up God will stop loving them. These children are in Sunday schools. They know all their Bible stories. And they have missed what the Bible is all about. They are children like I once was." A thought-provoking article from Sally Lloyd-Jones of the Resurgence challenging teachers to consider how they read and teach the Bible to children.

How Much Time Do Pastors Spend Preparing A Sermon? - Thom Rainer writes another great article sharing many pastor's perspectives, on the amount of time that is required to write the weekly sermon.

Ordinary Christians And A Great Commission - I love Tim Challies writing. Tim writes a great post encouraging all of us to continue faithfully as we go about the day to day, being ordinary Christians participating in a Great Commission.

The Boldness of Knowing Jesus - "The people of Jesus should know Jesus. That is the inescapable impression we get from reading the Book of Acts. We see it in the church’s boldness — that is, the church’s outspoken clarity about the identity and significance of Jesus." Jonathan Parnell provides some interesting insights into how we as Christians can lead life with boldness.

Thought for the day...

"Don't dilute God in order to make him more marketable."
— Dan DeWitt

Monday, 22 July 2013

Weekly Wrap (21/07)

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

Why did North Point Community Church come into existence? Andy Stanley shares his passion for creating an engaging church for all in this video.

Simon Prevette - "You aren’t incredibly gifted? Well, welcome to the club of the “average.” Most of us dwell there. As an encouragement, let me introduce you to Simon Prevette. He is a man you have never heard of, but he is a man you should know." A great article written by Jason Helopoulos, guest blogger on Kevin DeYoung's blog.

How Can I Make A Bigger Impact? - "My response and challenge is simple: Be faithful now. Don’t fall into the temptation of merely dreaming about future ministry fruitfulness. Be faithful right now with what the Lord has entrusted to you." An excellent article from Eric Geiger challenging young leaders to remain faithful and develop patience in ministry.

10 Ways To Be A Better Church Staff Person - Thom Rainer writes a great article sharing from his experience, the 10 ways that people employed in work from the church can better support their pastors.

Is Discipleship The Focus Of Most Churches? - "Making disciples is not about a church program. It’s not one of the things the church does. It is the thing. Jesus’ last words to his followers were, “Go and make disciples.” So if this is the mission of the church, its reason for being, its all-encompassing purpose, then why isn’t this the focal point of all that we do?A wonderful post by Dr Gary Thompson that is well worth a read.

Spreading Your Message Online - Wondering how to get your message out to the masses online? Tony Morgan provides some interesting insights into the most effective ways to engage with your desired audience online from recent research on the topic.

Thought for the day...

"Christian maturity is not demonstrated through the lack of conflict, but by how we resolve it."
— J.R. Miller

Monday, 15 July 2013

Weekly Wrap (14/07)

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

Why is discipleship important? Hugh Halter offers some great thoughts in this short video.

Living On Mission Takes Time - "Some of us believe in "missions" or the act of being on mission, but we feel like we are complete failures at it. One of the reasons is because we fail to give mission time to mature. We are too busy to be on mission for Jesus because we are on mission for ourselves." A great article written by Michael Criner, guest blogger on Trevin Wax's blog.

The Importance Of Losing - Barnabas Piper writes a great article challenging parents to let their children lose.

Revolutionary Parenting In The Lord - "A myriad of books has been written on what “discipline and instruction,” “bringing them up,” and “provoke” mean. But we have focused on the wrong parts of these verses. We have solely focused on what we are to do and forgotten what Jesus is about and what he has done." A nice piece from Jessica Thompson of the Resurgence.

A Reunion Of Old Friends - A wonderful post by Tim Challies on some of his most dear friends - his much loved books. Well worth a read.

Reading The Bible Through The Cross - "Bible study can become a blind pursuit of self-righteousness. Our quest for the knowledge of God can subtly become a way in which we compare ourselves to other Christians. We can come to believe that our great knowledge of Scripture means that we are spiritually mature." In this great article Chan Kilgore reminds us of the importance of reading the bible through the lens of the cross.

Thought for the day...

"Imagine the revolution if every Christian went to church wanting to bless someone and then left the church wanting to bless the world."
— Eugene Cho

Monday, 8 July 2013

Weekly Wrap (07/07)

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

I recently came across this video from John Piper discussing the Prosperity Gospel. Somehow I don't think Piper thinks too highly of this kind of theology...

Consumer Christianity - Marketing or Making Disciples? - "I don’t want to push the analogy too far, but for the sake of illustration, let’s think of the membership model of church as similar to the membership model of the modern health club. One becomes a member of a health club by paying dues (in a church, the monthly or weekly offering). Having paid their dues, the members expect the services of the club to be at their disposal. Exercise equipment, weight room, aerobics classes, an indoor track, swimming pool—all there for them, with a trained staff to see that they benefit by them." Are our churches about meeting people's needs or doing God's work? A challenging article from Dr Gary Thompson.

Why Gay Marriage Is Good (and Bad) For The Church - Trevin Wax writes a great piece challenging the church to hold fast to the exhortation found in Romans 8:28 amidst the apparent storm that is Gay Marriage in America.

How Much of a Pastor's Vacation Time Should He Use? - "You may begin reading this post with the idea that I will suggest how many weeks of vacation you should be given by your church, or how much you should advocate to give your pastor. Instead, I intend to answer this question a bit differently. My concern is not about how much vacation time a pastor is given, but how he uses (or doesn't use) what he is given." A great, thought-provoking article from Practical Shepherding.

Longing For God - A wonderful devotional by Charles Swindoll on Psalm 42:1-2. Well worth a read.

The Mathematics of Grace - "The world runs by ungrace. Everything depends on what I do. I have to make the shot. Jesus calls us to another way, one that depends not on our performance but his own. We do not have to achieve but merely follow. He has already earned for us the costly victory of God’s acceptance." A great article courtesy of the Gospel Coalition.

Thought for the day...

"The Lord is kind. He is good to all who take refuge under his wings."
— John Piper

Friday, 5 July 2013

Weekly Wrap (30/06)

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

Like being comfortable? Francis Chan talks about why we as Christians should reject comfort.

Why You Need A Half-Year Resolution - "Life gets in the way of our good intentions and we sometimes abandon them all too quickly." Time to make some changes in your life? A good article courtesy of Relevant Magazine.

Listening To Young Atheists - "Church became all about ceremony, handholding, and kumbaya," Phil said with a look of disgust. "I missed my old youth pastor. He actually knew the Bible."" A very challenging and thought-provoking article from Fixed Point on a new breed of young atheists - ex-churchgoing, young group attending, God serving atheists.

Christ-Centred Hermeneutics and Typology - "Daniel Block suggested that we need to be less Christocentric and more Christotelic in our Old Testament interpretation. By this he means that we need to shift our emphasis from seeking Christ in the Old Testament and more towards seeing Christ as the end, as the destination, as the climax of the Old Testament, which each Old Testament text plays a preparatory part in." Like thinking deeply about Theology? Then you will appreciate this great post from Ed Stetzer.

Why I Pray Publicly For Other Churches - "Every Sunday morning, I lead the congregation of Third Avenue Baptist Church in a "pastoral prayer."... The part of the prayer that elicits the most comment, however—both positive and out of sheer confusion—is when I pray for another evangelical church or two meeting in the city of Louisville." A really timely article from the Gospel Coalition discussing a little known (and likely practiced!) practice: praying for God's broader church, not just your own.

Lay Aside The Weight of Self-Preoccupation - "Want to refresh your soul? Want to run with more endurance today? Cease to be the focus of your attention." Yet another wonderful and encouraging article from Desiring God.

Thought for the day...

"We've substituted doctrinal belief for personal belief, thats why many people are devoted to causes & few are devoted to Jesus."
— Oswald Chambers

Friday, 28 June 2013

Be Still And Know That I Am God

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

Do you sometimes find it really difficult to sit still and focus at times? I do. I find it really hard at times. The worst part is that sometimes I find it hard to slow down and do that which I most want to do in life; spending time in fellowship with and building a relationship with Jesus.

I came across Psalm 46:10 the other day in my quiet time. It reads:

"Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!"

Be still. Be still. What is it like to be still? So often in our culture - both church and secular - it is all about the doing. It is easy to get consumed with the busyness of life, moving from one task on our to do list to another, or one ministry meeting to another without even stopping to take a breath. It is easy to get consumed with work, work, work; doing, doing, doing. Trying to cram more and more things into each day. But God directs us to be still. Be still and know that I am God. What is this passage of scripture actually saying?

The word translated as "be still" is the Hebrew term raphah which is used in multiple places in the Old Testament and refers to that which is slack, to sink, to relax, or to let drop, or in some cases, to be disheartened or weak. In this context, scholars generally agree that "to be weak" is the most appropriate interpretation.

So what is this passage of scripture saying then? I see it this way: this passage is highlighting that we need to stop relying on ourselves, we need to stop doing everything in our own strength, and we need to take some time out from the busyness to relax with God! God wants us to take the time out to know that He is God! To recognise His majesty and splendour and to know Him as our heavenly Father! To become weak and allow the divine God of the universe to take back the leading of our lives! To recognise our finiteness and to behold His infiniteness.

Whilst we obviously do need to take initiative in our lives to actually fulfill our responsibilities, the key is that we should be relying solely on God to strengthen and prepare us for every task in life. Funnily enough, the Bible highlights the reality that if God is our focus, everything else that we need will fall into its rightful place in time. Matthew 6:33 says:

"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."

I don't know about you, but I think it is time to truly be still before God. It's not always easy to do, but it is what we all need to do. After all, the almighty God of the universe is just waiting for us to stop doing life in our own strength so that He can come in and offer us guidance, support and His strength to succeed. Sounds like a pretty good option to me!

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Weekly Wrap (23/06)

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

This is a beautiful video on God's amazing grace by Matt Chandler.

What is Open Theism? - Do you appreciate theology? Then you will like this article and brief video with N.T. Wright on Open Theism.

Hymn Stories: I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say - Do you know the story of Horatius Bonar, the man who penned this famous hymn? If not then Tim Challies post will enlighten you. A great and encouraging read about a man of faith.

14 Free eBooks For You - "Though it won’t replace good old-fashioned books, the upward trend of ebooks has created a new platform for us to spread our message — that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him." Check out these 14 free eBooks from Desiring God.

Audio from the Christ-Centered Teaching – Panel Discussion at the SBC - Ed Stetzer, Eric Hankins, Jonathan Akin, and Trevin Wax were joined by more than 300 pastors and church leaders for a breakfast meeting devoted to discussing the New Testament’s use of the Old, the appropriate ways of leading people to Christ from Old Testament stories, and the difficulties and dangers of applying this hermeneutic in irresponsible ways. The audio of their conversation at the Southern Baptism Convention is well worth a listen.

Top Blog Posts of 2012 - Unhealthy Christian Organizations - "I decided to write about a problem I had seen in a number of organizations throughout the years-- an unhealthy culture among Christians in places of ministry. I wrote about it because I thought that it was an important issue to address, but even I was not expecting the level of response. Unfortunately, this appears to be a widespread problem." Ed Stetzer shares his research into the characteristics of unhealthy Christian organisations.

Thought for the day...

"We must not be content with a theory of faith. We must have faith within us so that we move from the ordinary to the extraordinary."
— Smith Wigglesworth

Monday, 24 June 2013

It Is Not Good For Man To Be Alone

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

It is not good for man to be alone. A long time ago in the garden God realised this and brought Eve into the world from the flesh of Adam. Genesis 2:18 reads:

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

God provided for Adam a companion. A lover. Someone to 'do' life with. Someone to be united with. God created the first woman in the history of the world as he saw that it was not good for Adam to be alone.

I've seen this passage of scripture in a new light recently. You see, my wife has been away on a remote work trip for the last week or so. She has been on a trip to some remote parts of central Australia in the Northern Territory, and was so remote at times that she did not have internet or phone reception. We have only been apart for a bit over a week so far - and we will only be apart for nine days total - but I'm feeling lonely. I'm missing my wife; I've realised for myself how it is not good for man to be alone.

God has made the institution of marriage for this very purpose. Two become one flesh and live to love, nurture and honour one another, developing an earthly relationship that reflects the heavenly relationship that the members of the Godhead experience. To live together in intimate relationship. To practice unconditional love and acceptance. To rely on and trust in one another. To spend time enjoying and experiencing life together.

God realised that it wasn't good for man to be alone and God brought into existence the perfect partner for Adam back in the days of Genesis. After this time apart, I am eagerly anticipating God returning my perfect partner to me tomorrow afternoon. Just like Adam, I've had enough of being alone. Just like Adam, I've realised that it's not good for man to be alone.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Weekly Wrap (16/06)

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

Jon Acuff speaks from personal experience on the value of integrating social media into your organization's communication strategy in this video.

Stop Paying People To Do Ministry - "As they grow, many churches eagerly anticipate the moment when they're finally big enough that they can afford to hire more staff and offer more ministry options for people... Paying people to “do” ministry instead of “lead” ministry is an expensive mistake that many churches fall into." A very interesting article by Paul Alexander urging the church to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry.

Three Things Churches Love That Kill Outreach - Seriously, you've got to love the stuff that Ed Stetzer brings to the table. Another great article from the man right here.

We Are Far Too Easily Pleased - "It’s a beautiful thing when a single sentence reorients a soul for good. When one proposition proves potent enough to be life-changing for the better. Especially when it’s a short one." David Mathis provides a wonderful article here that is well worth a read.

Four Lies About Introverts - "I'm an introvert. Most people who don't know me well wouldn't guess this about me, but it's true. On a practical level, being an introvert means I'm generally more energized by time alone than by time with people, and I have a preference for a less externally stimulating environment. I feel very alive in a quiet, empty room. On the introversion/extroversion spectrum I fall closer to the middle, but still lean decidedly toward the introverted side." Amen sister! A great article that clearly debunks myths about those of us who are introverts.

New eBook: Piper Celebrates The Influence of C.S. Lewis - Another free eBook from Desiring God. What could be better that John Piper reflecting on the teachings of C.S. Lewis?

Thought for the day...

"If you read history... Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next."
— C.S. Lewis

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Weekly Wrap (09/06)

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

"We live in a day where is means almost nothing to be a Christian. According to research almost 4 out of every 5 Americans identify themselves as Christians...But in this group of self proclaimed Christians, less than half of them are involved in church on a weekly basis. Less than half of them believe the Bible is true." David Platt discusses what it looks like to be a Christian today in this thought-provoking video.

Bono On Jesus - "Bono’s career is unlike any other in rock history. As the lead singer of U2, Bono has sold 130 million albums, won fourteen Grammys, and played numerous sold-out world tours, but he has also lobbied and worked with world leaders from Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to Nelson Mandela on debt relief, AIDS, and other critical global issues." Frank Viola posts an interview with Bono where he shares his Christian faith.

The Church is God's Demonstrated Community - "The church exists to share the gospel, and a large part of how we demonstrate the gospel is through local outreach. As we preach the announcement of Jesus’ finished work on the cross verbally, we have to tangibly display the love of the gospel through the work of our hands." J.D. Greear provides some good thoughts in this very short blog post.

Was Bonhoeffer Right?: Is There A Cost To Discipleship? - "In his book The Cost of Discipleship Dietrich Bonhoeffer insisted, “Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.” Was he right?" Dr Gary Thompson writes a great article here - well worth a read.

The Bible As One Story - "How does the Bible hold together into a single, cohesive story? It’s an important (and intimidating) question reserved for the discipline of biblical theology, an angle of scholarship that focuses on sections of Scripture, sometimes the whole of the Bible, to show how the texts fits together within the unfolding drama of redemption and consummation in Jesus Christ." This well written book review is for those of you who appreciate theology as much as me.

7 Sexual Lines No Pastor Should Cross - John McKeever writes an interesting article outlining 7 things that people new to ministry want to steer clear of. What do you think? Should point 1 & 2 be included or is he right in listing them?

Thought for the day...

"Fasting is abstaining from anything that hinders prayer."
— Andrew Bonar

Friday, 7 June 2013

Weekly Wrap (02/06)

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

Rob Bell, Rob Bell... the slippery slope continues... check out this video of Rob Bell and Andrew Wilson discussing the issue of Homosexuality and the Bible. We need to be praying for this man and all the people who follow him... he has made it clear where he stands on his view of scripture.

Why Every Pastor Should Read About Melissa's Suicide - "Many of us in vocational ministry want to try to fool our churches and the world. We want to act like our home has no problems. We never fight with our spouses. Our children are the embodiment of angelic beings. We are never tempted. We have no sin issues in our lives. And we certainly don’t have family members who are depressed, and perhaps, suicidal." A fantastic article by Thom Rainer - a must read!

Should I Start a Grassroots Movement to Change My Church? - Kevin DeYoung provides 7 keys to consider when you don't agree with where your church is headed.

Legalism or Love? Religious or Radical? - "If you’re struggling with legalism, don’t fight it by quitting your quiet times. That’s the good advice I remember once hearing from a pastor. In other words, there’s a temptation to presumably fight legalism by running away from good things, whether Bible reading or acts of love, because we mistake them to be part of the problem." Another great article from Desiring God.

Quit Calling Your Wife Hot - I completely agree with this article from Barnabas Piper (just not the plate throwing bit!)

We Get The Help, He Gets The Glory - "One of the unique things about God is that he displays his glory by helping rather than demanding help... This changes the way we pray. When we ask him for help, we know that he will give it for his name’s sake, not because we deserve it. His helping us highlights his riches." Yet another fantastic article from John Piper.

Thought for the day...

"All of history is moving toward one great goal, the white-hot worship of God and His Son among all the peoples of the earth."
— John Piper

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Weekly Wrap (26/05)

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

Meet Zach Sobiech: The story of a man who was diagnosed with cancer and given only a few months to live. This video shows what he did with his remaining time on earth.

Australia's Boom is Anything But for its Aboriginal People - Not a faith-based article but one which resonates with my heart for justice for all people. A great article highlighting the disparity in experiences between Aboriginal and Non-aboriginal Australians.

Wycliffe Bible Translations for Muslims - "Bible translations that avoid the phrase "Son of God" have proven successful among Muslims. But dismay by some missionaries and scholars recently led at least two denominations—including the three-million-member Assemblies of God—to threaten boycotts of Wycliffe Bible Translators unless it ended the practice." A interesting Gleaning from Christianity Today on this contentious issue.

Why Some Preachers Get Better & Others Don't - "No one denies that a preaching class and some coaching can help anyone become better. What we question is the possibility that someone with no natural giftedness and ability can be taught well enough that he can become really good." Hershael York offers some interesting reflections on the art of teaching people to preach.

Why Do Rookie Pastors Get Fired? - "I have a simple two letter answer. EQ. Or rather, the lack of it." A good, thought-provoking article.

Is Ministry Ruining Your Marriage? - "So, how do you keep church conflict from impacting your home life? The short answer is, you can’t. If you’re in church leadership, serious church conflict will, in various ways, impact your family life." An interesting article highlighting the importance of boundaries in cultivating a strong and healthy marriage.

Thought for the day...

"Don't obey God to get things. Obey God to get God. He is your shield and your very great reward."
— Mike Pilavachi

Weekly Wrap (19/05)

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

This should make you laugh... stories of Preaching Goofs from members of the Gospel Coalition.

Is Prayer Necessary? - "You don't need prayer when there's nothing at stake in your walk with Christ." David Platt offers some thoughts in this great video.

John Piper on Regrets & Retirement - A video interview with John Piper discussing his reflections on his long time ministry leading Bethlehem Baptism Church in the USA.

It Happens After Prayer - A great book review by Tim Challies - well worth a read.

Fixed Point - Fixed Point Foundation have recently released a new and improved website with lots of interesting content.

Free Resources for You & Your Church - Life.TV offer some seriously cool graphics and powerpoint slides to use for your church for free. Check them out!

Thought for the day...

"The best work is done out of rest."
— Louie Giglio

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Weekly Wrap (12/05)

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

Here's a contentious one... Shai Linne a Christian American Rapper slams False Teachers in his song which names many popular Christian leaders in it. What do you think?

John Piper Praises Rapper of Controversial 'Fal$E Teacher$' Song - Here's what John Piper thinks of Shai Linne's song. An interesting read.

How Dallas Willard Changed American Christianity - "Dallas Willard’s legacy and influence will continue, despite his death. His writings will endure and the many institutions that looked to him for guidance will continue to practice the life of the kingdom in the ways he commended." Matthew Lee Anderson writes a fantastic tribute piece to the much loved and respected Dallas Willard.

Preach Better Sermons 2013 Highlights - "If you missed the free online Preach Better Sermons conference put on by the good people at the Rocket Company, don’t worry. I took a ton of notes. Here are a few of the nuggets I got from each speaker." ProPreacher does indeed share some nuggets from the many well known Christian communicators who participated in the Preach Better Sermons Conference this year.

Suffering Servants - Sarah Pulliam Bailey interviews Joni Eareckson and Ken Tada and discusses in detail their deep struggle to make their marriage work.

Not Only To Profess, But Also To Practice - Trevin Wax shares a short, yet powerful poem by Thomas Becon.

Thought for the day...

"The first responsibility of leadership is to make time to humbly listen to God. Without that, you're on your own."
— Rick Warren

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Weekly Wrap (05/05)

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

John Piper and Kevin DeYoung discuss in this video, the process of working hard towards holiness and the effort that is involved in developing a life that reflects Christ.

4 Reasons Not To Homeschool Your Kids - This is an interesting article that is sure to stir up some conversation amongst many Christians who choose to home school their children. What do you think?

Love Your Neighbour: Even the Muslim Ones - "For many Americans, their knowledge of Muslims is what they see on television news rather than what they know from experience. Yet, forming a view of any group based solely on what one sees on the news is a bad idea.
When the Boston Marathon bombing occurred, many Americans were quick to assume it was the work of Muslim extremists, even before it was confirmed... Yet, far too many take it further, leading me to ask, why do some people assume that all, most, or even many Muslims must be terrorists?" Another brilliant article from Ed Stetzer that is worth reading more than once.

Are you Telling Lies When You Preach? - This is an interesting article by Ryan Hobbs which suggests the need for preachers to check the authenticity of stories that they use as sermon illustrations week to week. An interesting read.

A Father's Love - "When I was 16, my parents kicked me out of the house. They had tried everything. Nothing worked. And it got to the point where my lifestyle had become so disruptive to the rest of the household, that they were left with no choice but to painfully say, “We love you but you can’t continue to live this way and live under our roof." Tullian Tchividjian from the Gospel Coalition shares the story of his own father's love for him in this great post.

Antidote to Poison - "I was haunted by failure to the edge of suicide—and then came life." Ravi Zacharias shares his personal testimony in this blog piece. A very powerful and challenging read!

Thought for the day...

"The power you need is not found In faith, but in WHOM you place that faith. Tiny faith in a big God gets big results."
— Rick Warren

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Book Review: Forgotten God by Francis Chan

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting


As I indicated when I started this blog, one of my priorities would be to provide book reviews on interesting Christian books that I come across from time to time. So here it is: my very first book review on Alive in Christ!

Francis Chan's Forgotten God is a great book - let me just start by saying that. Why the title Forgotten God you might be thinking? Francis Chan outlines his justification for his provocative title from his introductory passages, suggesting that the Holy Spirit is:

"...tragically neglected and, for all practical purposes, forgotten. While no evangelical would deny His existence, I'm willing to bet there are millions of churchgoers across America who cannot confidently say they have experienced His presence or action in their lives over the past year. And many of them do not believe they can."

Francis Chan poses this challenging thought:

"...what if you grew up on a desert island with nothing but the Bible to read? Imagine being rescued after twenty years and then attending a typical evangelical church. Chances are you'd be shocked... Having read the Scriptures outsides the context of contemporary church culture, you would be convinced that the Holy Spirit is as essential to a believer's existence as air is to staying alive."

He continues with this statement:

"There is a big gap between what we read in Scripture about the Holy Spirit and how most believers and churches operate today. In many modern churches, you would be stunned by the apparent absence of the Spirit in any manifest way."

Challenging thoughts indeed! Through his book, Francis Chan provides a basic overview of the Holy Spirit and provides some fantastic, thought provoking statements - such as the ones above - that could be pondered for some time after the reader has finished the book. This is what Forgotten God does well. Forgotten God is not a deep, theological book, written to provide definitive answers on all aspects of theology about the Holy Spirit. Rather, Francis Chan's Forgotten God provides an endless array of statements, illustrations and stories which challenge and unsettle the reader, causing the reader to reassess the degree to which the Holy Spirit has influence and is evident in their own life.

Tim Challies in his book review of Forgotten God makes the following statement in concluding his review:

"...for those who have thought little about the person and role of the Holy Spirit, Forgotten God may be just the thing to get them thinking. For those who have not thought about the Spirit for a long time, this may serve as a good wake-up call. It is far from a full-orbed or exhaustive treatment, but neither is that its purpose. Chan sets out to get the reader thinking “that by keeping in step with the Spirit, we might regularly fellowship over what He’s doing rather than what He did months or years ago.” It’s about living a life dependent on and surrendered to the Spirit, about seeking how we can live faithfully here and now. And this he accomplishes well."

I think Tim sums it up well. Francis Chan's Forgotten God is a great read that exhorts the reader to live a life of reliance on - and surrender to - the Holy Spirit. Any book that encourages the reader to do that can only be a good thing in my opinion.

Empty Me - A Song by Jeremy Camp

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

Holy Fire burn away, 
My desire for anything
That is not of you and is of me.
I want more of you and less of me.

Holy Fire burn away,
My desire for anything
That is not of you and is of me,
I want more of you and less of me.

Empty me,
Empty me,
Fill, won't you fill me, 
With you, with you...

Empty Me, Jeremy Camp

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

The Daniel Project

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

I recently came across this Documentary on the Age website and watched it with my wife. We had both never really looked in to the issues of End Times and Biblical Prophecy in too much detail, so we were eager to check this Documentary out. The Documentary (according to the official website) is:

" acclaimed and gripping 90 min feature length documentary for our time. The Daniel Project is a genuine investigative documentary that puts ancient predictions under a journalistic microscope and presents this astonishing subject in a unique format that is both entertaining and challenging."

The Age website promotes the Documentary in this way:

Did ancient scrolls predict not only the path of modern human history but also signs of its destruction? The Daniel Project puts these prophecies under a microscope and discovers that many appear to have already come to pass. Writings by the prophet Daniel in the 6th Century BC appear to predict with uncanny accuracy today's surveillance society, climate change, terrorism and the rise of conflict in the Middle East. Known as the real Nostradamus, he was famous for his apocalyptic visions. Could his foresight be a sign of a deadly pattern we fail to see today?

I thought that it was quite interesting to see such a Documentary on a secular news site and after watching it, thought that it was worth sharing online. Wherever you stand on Biblical Prophecy and End Times thinking, you will get a lot out of viewing this challenging Documentary. So make yourself a cup of coffee, stream the Documentary online from The Age, put your thinking cap on and enjoy!

Weekly Wrap (28/04)

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

How can the church respond to the tragic Boston Marathon bombing? Ed Stetzer and Adam Mabry provide some great ideas and shares what the local church did and are continuing to do, to support the people of Boston post the attack.

Confessions of a Pastor Who Used to be More Reformed Than Jesus - Ed Stetzer writes an interesting article about a pastor who used to be more reformed than Jesus, called Danny Slavich.

We Should Shine Bright In The Darkness - "Churches are not peddlers of Christian goods and services; we are cells of subversion and transformation. We're not just opening our doors and hoping for a good turnout; we're opening our lives to show off the glory of our Savior by the way we live together, by the way we serve together, by the way we reach out in Jesus' name together." Another great article from Ed Stetzer.

Should We Always Expect God to Heal? - "My answer is somewhat simple, but then again, maybe not so. Here’s how I answer the question: We should expect God to do what will bring God the most glory." Aaron Armstrong writes a thoughtful take on the hot topic of God and physical healing.

Autopsy of a Deceased Church - "I worked with the church for three weeks. The problems were obvious; the solutions were difficult." Thom Rainer writes a reflective piece on his time working with a church that was slowly on the decline.

Can a Dying Church Find Life? - A follow-up blog post to Autopsy of a Deceased Church from Thom Rainer. This is well worth checking out!

Thought for the day...

""How can we expect to live with God in heaven if we love not to live with him on earth?"
— John Mason