Thursday, 28 March 2013

The Christian Hipster

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

I came across this video recently on and thought it was a hilarious and true commentary on the fashion culture in many popular churches today (I don't think that it is necessarily a good thing... what do you think?) 

The video shows you exactly how you can become a Christian Hipster, from clothing, to haircuts, to fashion accessories. It even assists you in choosing a hip Bible so you can look the part at church!

It's a very clever video and is well worth checking out. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Rob Bell & The Slippery Slope of Compromise

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

Last week I briefly touched on the latest news about Rob Bell in my blog post available hereRob Bell has voiced his clear support for Same-Sex Marriage and has caused quite a stir throughout the Christian and secular media. Rob stated his view in this way (Note: This is his direct response when asked about his views on Same-Sex Marriage):

"I am for marriage. I am for fidelity. I am for love, whether it's a man and woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man. I think the ship has sailed and I think the church needs -- I think this is the world we are living in and we need to affirm people wherever they are."

What should we think about Rob's latest statement? I think we shouldn't be surprised. Ed Stetzer summed it up well with his tweet:

You see, anyone who has observed the way that Rob Bell has been going for a while could see this coming. Rob Bell wrote a book called Love Wins which questioned the existence of Hell - a basic doctrinal belief held to by the early church fathers and Christians throughout the ages. In undermining this doctrinal belief, Rob effectively walked away from Biblical Christianity - Rob started to walk along the path of compromise, choosing to promote a culturally relevant and 'trendy' gospel instead of one deeply rooted in biblical truth.

And that's the thing with compromise - compromise usually leads to further compromise. It becomes a snowball effect. What was once a theological absolute becomes questionable. Spiritual truths are thrown out the window in the hope of tailoring the Christian message to better reach the lost.

Martin Luther addressed such an approach in his sermon "Knowledge of God’s Will and Its Fruit":

"The world at the present time is sagaciously discussing how to quell the controversy and strife over doctrine and faith, and how to effect a compromise between the Church and the Papacy. Let the learned, the wise, it is said, bishops, emperor and princes, arbitrate. Each side can easily yield something, and it is better to concede some things which can be construed according to individual interpretation, than that so much persecution, bloodshed, war, and terrible, endless dissension and destruction be permitted.

Here is lack of understanding, for understanding proves by the Word that such patchwork is not according to God’s will, but that doctrine, faith and worship must be preserved pure and unadulterated; there must be no mingling with human nonsense, human opinions or wisdom.

The Scriptures give us this rule: “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29)."

We need to obey God and follow what He says on every matter, taking seriously His Word and its teachings - just like Martin Luther did when he nailed his ninety-five theses to the door of the chapel all those years ago. It is not okay to compromise biblical truth because of our own human opinion on any given issue. In the end, God is the only one who is wise, the only one who truly has a handle on each and every issue. We might think we have a great idea, a progressive way to think about the world in which we live, a new revelation in understanding the scriptures. But the bible is clear on such thinking. 1 Corinthians 3:19 says:

"For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight."

We - as Christian thinkers - need to be careful as we think. It's fine to wrestle, challenge and struggle through the scriptures as we come to a greater understanding of scripture and in turn, our loving Saviour Jesus Christ - I love this process and do it on a daily basis. However it is not fine to pick and chose from the scriptures, accepting and promoting the bits about love and grace and neglecting the less palatable parts about sin and judgement. That is compromised truth. As John MacArthur says:

"Compromised truth has no hope of rescuing the eternal souls of men and women." 

That is what is at stake here: the eternal souls of men and women. Our family members, our friends and our neighbours - those we love and treasure. That is why Rob Bell's stance is deeply concerning. That is why there has been such coverage in both secular and Christian media.

I'm reminded as I finish of what Timothy wrote concerning such teaching in his book 2 Timothy in chapter 4 verses 3 & 4:

"For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths."

I pray that Rob Bell is not going to continue on this path of undermining biblical truth. After all, whilst he doesn't pastor a church any more he does 'pastor' hundreds of thousands of people through his Nooma DVD series, through his own books, blog posts and newspaper articles. He has influence. His words have weight. He is leading people whether he likes to admit it or not, and he needs to take that responsibility seriously. The bible is very clear in warning people in leadership and teaching positions about the dangers of leading people astray. I'm praying for you Rob and I hope that others will be too.

Weekly Wrap (24/03)

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

Tim Keller talks in this video about how Christians should treat Homosexual people. This has caused a bit of controversy so have a look and see what you think! (Apologies for the poor quality of the video.)

Why Serving The Common Good Isn't Good Enough - "Serving the common good isn't enough by itself. But when Christians illumine the motivations for neighbor love with the gospel story, actions become rich symbols of the reign of God in the world." Jeff Haanen writes a thoughtful piece for the Gospel Coalition on why serving alone just is not good enough.

Islam & Christianity: Major Differences - "Those who argue that Islam and Christianity are quite similar really know very little about either religion... To believe in one means you cannot believe in the other. Each one rules out the other." Bill Muehlenberg writes a fantastic article outlining the major differences between Islam and Christianity which is well worth a read.

The Reason Darwin Left The Faith - C Michael Patton from the Parchment & Pen Blog writes an interesting piece exploring Charles Darwin and his experience with suffering, pain and the Christian faith.

9 Reasons You Can Face Anything - Yet another great article from Jonathan Parnell, content strategist at Desiring God.

The Jesus Way vs. The American Way - "We can’t gather a God-fearing, God-worshipping congregation by cultivating a consumer-pleasing, commodity-oriented congregation. When we do, the wheels start falling off the wagon... We can’t suppress the Jesus way in order to sell the Jesus truth. The Jesus way and the Jesus truth must be congruent." Eugene Peterson - author of the Message translation - provides an excerpt from his new book The Jesus Way.

Thought for the day...

"Don't be so quick to jump to the celebration of His resurrection. Take time. Pray. Reflect. Walk with Christ over the last week of his life."
— Eugene Cho

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Weekly Wrap (17/03)

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

Francis Chan - a Pastor and well-known Christian Author - talks about the importance of remaining courageous in walking as a Christian in the world today. A great three minute video to check out!

The Only Foundation For Youth Ministry - "I want students to be won to Jesus, not jokes and games. I must trust in the Spirit, not my amazing programs, to work in my midst." Josh Cousineau writes a great piece for the Gospel Coalition on developing a biblical foundation for Youth Ministry focussed on Jesus.

The Next Bible - "Scripture? There’s an app for that." Joshua Dubois - President Obama's former faith advisor - writes on the increasing market for Bible Applications on technology devices. Well worth a read.

Don't Just Pray - Become a Praying Church - Brady Boyd from provides 5 tips to make your church a praying church.

A-La-Carte - Tim Challies always comes up with some great articles from the blogosphere. This one has many interesting articles that are well worth looking at.

Clarifying My Words About Roman Catholic “Heresy” - John Piper's clarification around his assertion that the Catholic Church is promoting heresy through their teaching. It's a good read.

Thought for the day...

"A man that studieth revenge keeps his own wounds green."
— Francis Bacon

Rob Bell - No Hell & Same Sex Marriage

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

The internet is abuzz today with news that Rob Bell has officially come out in support of Same-Sex Marriage. The controversial Christian author, thinker and pastor has previously received a lot of flack for his book Love Wins, which questions the very existence of Hell.

There are many good Christian responses already out there in the blogosphere to Rob's latest controversial stance - Christian News covers the event in detail here and Christian Post cover it here, whilst Greg Carey from the Huffington Post reports this news as well. Ostrachan from the Patheos blog writes a good summary and provides ideas around what a Christian response to Rob Bell's latest stance should be.

I'll write a post in the next few days once I've had time to process this news and read some opinions from prominent Christian bloggers. Like I suggest in my article on Steve Schalke, the best thing we can be doing as Christians at this time is to pray that Rob comes back to Biblical truth on this issue. After all, the bible is very clear about what will happen to leaders who lead their followers astray (Matthew 18:6). Let's be lifting up Rob Bell in prayer; he needs it.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Weekly Wrap (10/03)

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

Greg Laurie - a Pastor and well-known Christian Author - talks with Colleen Swindoll-Thompson about a topic that does not get a lot of airplay in mainstream Christian circles: how to deal with grief and loss in life. This is quite a long video but is worth checking out.

Shot of Glory: Tear-jerking Story of Honour - Okay. So when I saw this I cried like a baby. Just warning you. This is simply a beautiful video that is well worth a look. Have the tissues ready!

Are You Making This Mistake in Your Prayer Life? - "Many times we feel so overwhelmed with our life’s circumstances that we become paralyzed... At that point we become so fixated on our problem and on ourselves, that it becomes super hard to be thankful or to have a Biblical perspective on life." Check out this great article from Not Ashamed of the Gospel.

Forgiveness - "If you want to see God change your family, it has to start here: Word #1 is Forgiveness.James McDonald writes a fantastic devotional on the importance of practising the value of forgiveness.

How Will They Know Jesus? - A very challenging video excerpt from one of Steve Furtick's messages. Well worth a look.

What Kind of Leader Was Jesus? - Dan Guy provides some great insights into the type of leader that Jesus Christ was during His earthly ministry. Another fantastic article from

Thought for the day...

"The most loving thing we can do is tell the truth so people can be reconciled to God."
— Mark Driscoll

Friday, 8 March 2013

Weekly Wrap (03/03)

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

Christian Rapper LeCrae explains what Biblical Manhood is. Well worth a look! Check out more great video, audio & print resources at

Community As Sacrament - "Are Christ’s characteristics and heart for the world reflected in the way we live as a community?  Do we love selflessly?  Do we care for the underserved?  Do we steward the land out of reverence for God’s Creation?" John Huckins writes an interesting article for Red Letter Christians on how Christians should be living in community with purpose.

The Cost of Compromise - "The appearance of unity, no matter how enticing, is not worth sacrificing the clarity of the gospel." John MacArthur urges all Christians in this piece to "...contend and not compromise." Well worth a read.

Five Signs of an Arrogant Pastor - "Arrogance stifles mission. It redirects the focus of our ministry to us instead of to a kingdom focus. And if left unchecked, our ministry will begin to exist for its purpose, not God's purposes.Ed Stetzer writes yet another thought provoking article on Arrogance.

How to be Mentored Without a Mentor - Jodi Ware writes a great piece exploring the issue of mentoring for Christians, and offers alternatives to the traditional one-on-one mentor relationship. Well worth a look.

Who Does What? 5 Observations on Clarifying Leadership Roles - This is a process that we have been going through recently at our church. Tony Morgan provides some great points on the importance of clarifying leadership roles in the church.

Thought for the day...

"Compromised truth has no hope of rescuing the eternal souls of men and women..."
— John MacArthur