Monday, 28 January 2013

Weekly Wrap (27/01)

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

I Hate Loving Mark Driscoll - Christian Platt from Red Letter Christians writes "Rev. Mark Driscoll, founder of Mars Hill church, has a true gift. Just when I think I’m making at least a modicum of progress toward tolerance – if not actual Christlike love – toward the guy, inevitably he does something to make me despise him all over again."

What Happens When The Church Stops Praying? - A thought provoking interview with Mark Batterson, a Christian Leader in Washington, DC on the need for believers to pray continuously.

7 Tips for Better Bible Study - A good article from Mark Driscoll on getting more out of your Bible study.

Four Things We Can Learn From Lance - What can we learn from Lance Armstrong's fall from grace? Four important lessons according to Ed Stetzer.

12 Essentials to Church Communication - I was sent this from my pastor and it is well worth a read.

Thought for the day...

"Small numbers make no difference to God. There is nothing small if God is in it."
— D.L. Moody

Thursday, 24 January 2013

God Revealed in Creation

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

A few months ago I went on an overnight hike with my Dad into the Victorian High Country, approximately four hours North East of Melbourne. We walked out carrying our heavy gear and scaled Victoria's second highest peak Mount Feathertop (1922 m), which is known to be breathtaking both for its natural beauty, as well as for the effort that is required for climbers to successfully reach the summit.

As you can see from the pictures, the scenery throughout the entire walk was simply amazing. But the view from the top of Mt Feathertop was by far the highlight of the trip. As I was sitting on top of Victoria's second highest peak, I could not help but be overwhelmed with the way in which God's creation reminds us of God's majesty and sovereignty over the earth and all mankind. Psalm 19:1 says:

"The Heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the works of His hands."

Psalm 24:1-2 reads:

"The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for He founded it on the seas and established it on the waters."

Likewise, I was reminded of how the Bible states that God has made Himself known to all of mankind through His creation. Romans 1:20 says:

"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse."

Have you ever really stopped to ponder this passage of scripture? The bible suggests that "God's invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made" (v.20). By contemplating and appreciating God's amazing creation - that which "...has been made" - people can come to understand more of God's character and attributes. The God of the universe has revealed Himself to mankind - in one of the many ways - through the glory and magnificence of His creation!

Romans 1:20 finishes with the words " that they are without excuse." Now this passage in context is in the middle of teaching around God's wrath against sinful humanity (Romans 1:18-32). There is no need to look deeper into the whole passage in this article; with a quick reading it is clear to see what God is saying to all of humanity through this teaching. He is simply saying: "Guys, you cannot deny My existence. I'm here, I've revealed myself to you through my Creation, and I want to know you!"

God has made Himself known through His Creation. I for one, am glad that I know Him. I am thankful that I am His adopted son, assured of a eternal relationship with Him. I am glad that I have seen Him and have come to know Christ's character and attributes more through time spent in nature with Him. The long, arduous walk to the top of Mt Feathertop was well worth it for me - not only did I reach the summit and reaped the reward of an amazing view, but more importantly I met with my Creator. Nothing can beat that.

What about you? Have you had powerful encounters with God whilst spending time appreciating His creation?

Monday, 21 January 2013

Weekly Wrap (20/01)

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

Steve Shalke Drops The Bomb in Support of Committed, Faithful, Same-sex Relationships - Tony Campolo reports on his close friend's decision to come out in support of marriage for committed, faithful, same-sex relationships.

The Essentials: Salvation - It's no secret that I appreciate Tim Challies insights. This is his twentieth instalment in his essentials series on theological terms.

Jesus Sings - He sure does! Tony Reinke from Desiring God highlights this reality of worship from the Son to the Father.

10 Principals of Church planting and expanding - Hillsong's Senior Pastor Brian Houston offers some valuable insights into the areas of church growth and church planting.

30 Things You Might Not Know About C.S. Lewis - Yearn For God provides some interesting little known facts about the great man.

Thought for the day...

"There are two ways of spreading light. You can be the candle or the mirror that reflects it."
— Edith Wharton

Fought the Good Fight, Finished the Race, Kept the Faith

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

A few weeks ago now one of my friends and great examples of the faith for me personally, passed away after a long battle with various forms of cancer. I was privileged enough to have the opportunity to visit with him and his wife and pray with them on the morning he passed away, only hours before he left this world to be with His Lord and Saviour in the next.

In times like this it is easy to sit back and ask God why. Why did you allow Him to suffer God? Why did he only have a few years to enjoy married life with his wife? Why does a faithful man of God have to go through the pain of cancer in his body?

The reality is that these are questions that did not seem to worry my friend John too much. Yes, John prayed and believed that God could heal him of the cancer. But John was not worried when his health deteriorated; he was committed to trusting that God would do His will in his life. Despite the hardships that he faced towards the end of his life, John's faith remained steadfast in God to the very end. While we were praying with John on the morning that he passed away, he continually praised God saying "Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah" despite finding it difficult to muster up enough strength to even talk. John knew that God was in control; John knew that God loved him and still had His best in mind for him. Ultimately, John knew in his heart that God's best for him was not in this world any more but was in the next with God for all eternity.

My friend John is not here any more but we can take great peace from knowing where he is now. John is now in heaven with his Saviour, Lord and best friend! John 11:25 says, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live." John is now free of pain! Revelation 21:4 says, "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away."

Jeremiah 17:7 says "Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord." John trusted in the Lord to the very end and is now blessed far beyond anything he had ever known before. Thank you John for the faith and belief that you had in me. I won't forget the encouraging words, the many gifts and the never-ending strong handshakes that you greeted me with each week. Most of all, I won't forget the example that you set for me. You fought the good fight, you finished the race, you kept the faith (2 Tim 4:7). For that I salute you. Rest in God's peace my friend; I look forward to meeting with you again in glory one day in the future.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Weekly Wrap (13/01)

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

8 Top Christian Blog Posts of The Week: The Lou Giglio Edition - You have to have lived under a rock for the last few weeks to not have heard about the Lou Giglio saga. Dr Bob Kellemen collates the best blog posts in his opinion which explore why Lou Giglio stood down from giving the benediction at President Obama's second inauguration ceremony under intense political pressure.

The Essentials: Holiness - Tim Challies writes his nineteenth instalment in his essentials series on theological terms, and his exploration of Holiness is well worth a look.

Take Courage for God's Mission - "The problem is not that God has neglected to make promises to us or that he doesn't keep those promises. It's that either we don't believe what he says, or we're not interested in what he promises because we still love the world too much." - An excellent, though provoking post from Jonathan Leeman from the Gospel Coalition.

The Slaughter of the Innocents - "A baby is born and we love it, a baby is in the womb and we kill it." - Mark Driscoll offers his reflections on the parallels between the recent shooting atrocity at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the USA and "The slaughter of the Innocents" in Matthew chapter 2.

Pergatory: An Evangelical Doctrine? - Credo magazine's latest edition is free for download and well worth a read.

Thought for the day...

"This may test your prayers. If there is anything that Jesus would not pray for, do not dream of praying for it."
— C.H. Spurgeon

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Weekly Wrap (06/01)

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

Santa Claus is Coming to Town... But Can Your Kids Find Jesus? - Yes, it's a little late since it is no longer Christmas time, but this article is a good, thought provoking read courtesy of the Bible Society that is worth checking out.

Jesus or Prosperity? - Bill Muehlenberg writes a fantastic article on the contrast between what some sections of the church preach and what Jesus affirmed, particularly in relation to hardship, deprivation and suffering.

Every Moment in 2013 God Will Be Doing 10,000 Things in Your Life - An encouraging article from John Piper to consider as we begin the new year.

The Top 15 Most-Read CT Articles in 2012 - Pretty self-explanatory and well worth a read.

A New Year's Plea: Plan! - A great article written by John Piper back in 1984 exhorting us to plan, plan, plan towards what we want to achieve in the new year.

Thought for the day...

"The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing."
— John Powell