Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Weekly Wrap (14/04)

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

I came across this video recently where N.T Wright - renowned author and Christian speaker - speaks about his views around Atheism. It is worth listening to if you have time!

Rick Warren, Critics, And The Hope of God's Son - I'm sure you are well aware by now of the terrible tragedy that happened just this week: the suicide of Rick Warren's son Matthew. You might also be aware of the horrible judgement and criticism that Rick Warren has received as a result, both within some areas of the church and in secular media. Mark Driscoll - Pastor of Mars Hill Church - writes a fantastic post on the three different types of Rick Warren critics. This is well worth a read.

Get A Mentor in 2013 - This is from early on this year, but it is a helpful article still nonetheless. Tyler Braun exhorts all of us as believers to take the time to meet regularly with a mentor stating: "It could change your life. I know it changed mine."

Three Surprising Reasons Churches Don't Grow - Aaron Armstrong writes a thoughtful post about why it is that some churches just don't grow. A great article that is well worth checking out!

Learning To Resist Cutting Edge & Sexy - "The longer I work with students, the more convinced I am that there is nothing sexy or cutting edge about effective youth ministry." Cameron Cole writes a great post on Churchleaders.com, exploring the need for Youth Ministries to remain grounded in what is important: "...pursuing relationships, teaching scripture, proclaiming the Gospel, worshipping and praying fervently."

Are Some People Disqualified From Ministry? - "Not everyone is qualified to serve and lead in the Lord’s church. Don’t miss that — "to serve and to lead." In the Lord’s work, serving and leading often consist of the same activities, performed by the same people. The Lord’s best servants are the congregation’s best leaders. Those who lead best are humble servants willing to stoop and wash the feet or rise and lead the charge, whatever the situation requires." Joe McKeever writes a great article on leadership qualities that churches should be looking for in appointing people to positions of leadership.

Thought for the day...

"Jesus Christ is not a problem, He is the solution to every problem for life, for death, and for eternity."
— H.A. Ironside

Money... The Root of All Evil?

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

Okay, so now that I've got your attention with my crafty title, let me clarify what I'm talking about. 1 Timothy 6:10a says:

"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil."

Have you ever heard anyone say, "The Bible says that money is the root of all evil?" I have. And guess what? They are wrong. The bible doesn't say that. The Bible isn't against money. It isn't against believers having money. What it does teach though is this: "...the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil."

So what was Paul talking about when he wrote this rather strong word to his young charge Timothy? Why did he give Timothy and the church at Ephesus such a strong warning about money?

In the preceding verses, Paul was directly addressing false teachers in the church of Ephesus who were warping and compromising sound doctrine because of their own greed. These teachers were altering the message that Paul had previously preached to the church for their own financial gain, instead of finding their contentment and satisfaction in Christ alone. These leaders were profiting financially from the gospel, leading people astray and had ultimately "...wandered from the faith" (1 Timothy 6:10) as a result of their sin.
Paul was concerned. Really concerned. Here were people that he had previously ministered the truth of God's Word to who were wandering from the gospel message, promoting a completely different message – a radically different message. A message that was not the gospel at all. So Paul reminded Timothy that everyone comes into the world with nothing and anything that anyone has is a gift from God's hands (1 Timothy 6:7-8). Paul let Timothy know what happens to people who want to get rich: "Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction" (1 Timothy 6:9). Finally, Paul concludes his thoughts with the verse that we started with: "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil."

So what does the Bible teach elsewhere about the "love of money"? Jesus addresses the love of money in his Sermon on the Mount stating in Matthew 6:24:

"No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money". 

In the first commandment recorded in Exodus 20:3, God commands us to have no other Gods before Him – that is, we are not to allow anything to take "...first place in our lives other than our creator God" (Got Questions 2013). Anything that takes precedence in our lives above God effectively becomes an idol in our lives, ultimately making us guilty of breaking the first commandment (Got Questions 2013).

Jesus also addresses the issue of money with the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:16-30. The young man seeks Jesus asking what he must do to inherit eternal life to which Jesus exhorts him to follow the commandments. The rich young ruler indicates to Jesus that he has kept all the commandments to which Jesus replies: "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." Matthew 19:22 records the young man's response: "When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth." The young man was stuck: he couldn't do what Jesus asked him to do. It was too costly; he couldn't part with his money. His wealth was an idol and it had become the master of his life. Money was ultimately more important to this young man than relationship with Jesus himself!

Directly after this passage of scripture, Jesus addresses his disciples and uses this event to teach his disciples a very important spiritual truth. Jesus says in Matthew 19:23:

"Truly, I tell you, it is hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the kingdom of God."

Jesus is effectively saying to his disciples: "Look guys, the love of money is one of the biggest obstacles to coming to faith in me!" Jesus is highlighting that wealth or the "love of money" can very quickly become an idol in our lives, driving us further and further away from trust in and relationship with God. The bible is very clear – the "love of money" is a dangerous snare that keeps believers from experiencing the fullness of relationship with Christ.

So what lessons can we learn from Paul's words to Timothy all those years ago? What of his teaching can we apply to our lives today? We can learn and apply quite a lot actually. Here are some thoughts to prayerfully think about and consider in light of Paul's words to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:10a:

We need to be careful to not allow ourselves to be consumed with "the love of money" as this ultimately leads to behaviours that "plunge people into ruin and destruction" (1 Timothy 6:9).

We need to learn to be content in Christ and not become preoccupied with financial gains. As 1 Timothy chapter 6 verses 7 and 8 suggest, we came into the world with nothing and everything that we do have is a gift from God. We should practice and develop grateful and thankful hearts towards God for what we have.

We need to always be wary of being influenced by false theology. As believers we should always be prayerfully testing and discerning biblical teaching from extra-biblical theology.

"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil." – 1 Timothy 6:10a

God, help us to not become preoccupied with the things of this world and the pursuit of financial gain and prosperity. Help us to put our faith in you – not in what we can do, or what we think money can provide for us. May we experience the fullness of relationship with you and may you keep us from the snare of "the love of money" by the power of your Spirit. Amen.

Note: This blog post is taken directly from my assignment submitted for Harvest Bible College in April 2013.


Monday, 8 April 2013

Weekly Wrap (07/04)

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

I came across this video recently on Churchleaders.com - This is a great video which explains what the Church is - or should be - all about and what it should be doing. Check it out!

10 Surprising Reasons Our Kids Leave Church - "We all know them, the kids who were raised in church. They were stars of the youth group. They maybe even sang in the praise band or led worship. And then … they graduate from high school and they leave church. What happened?" Marc Solas writes a wonderful post on why the church in general, are losing the next generation. This is well worth a read.

Honouring Christ Online: An Interview With Tim Challies - There are not many Christian bloggers as influential and well respected as Tim Challies. Ligonier Ministries provides this great interview with Tim Challies.

The New Televangelist - Chris Nye writes a thoughtful post about the new form of Televangelists - "role models under shining lights." A great article!

Eight Diagnostic Questions For A Church's Health - Chuck Lawless writes a great post on Thom Rainer's website, exploring the signs that people in church leadership should look for when considering the health of their church.Well worth checking out.

4 Things to Remember During Unwelcome Work - "I never wanted to work at Cracker Barrel... But none of that mattered when the most pressing question was, How will you provide for your wife and son this week? Like many before and after me, I did whatever was necessary." Trevin Wax provides some encouragement for those of us currently serving God in what he terms "unwelcome work."

Thought for the day...

"If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire. If you want joy, peace, eternal life, you must get close to what has them."
— C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Weekly Wrap (31/03)

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

I came across this video from 2008 of Tim Keller, John Piper & DA Carson talking about what they look for in appointing someone to the position of elder or deacon in their churches. Well worth checking out!

Why "Insiders Are Killing Your Church" - "Almost everybody who follows Christ, and almost every gathering of those Christ followers constituting a church, says the same thing: "We want to reach the world for Christ." Yet, most don’t." James Emery White writes a great piece on why "long-term insiders" in churches, hamper efforts to truly reach the lost.

Sex in the Sermon - "Over the past few years, my now 12-year-old daughter has been exposed to some rather uncomfortable subjects. Prostitution, homosexuality, whoring, menstrual cycles, bodily emissions, and rape have all been discussed in her presence... We take her to church." Melissa Kruger writes a fantastic article exploring the importance of addressing such issues with children in the safety of the Church environment.

The Revival of a Rebel Jew - Tim Challies invites guest blogger Rick Pearcey to share his incredibly powerful testimony of redemption and coming to faith in Christ. This is a must read.

How Christians Prepare for Suffering - Yet another great article from Jonathan Parnell - content strategist at Desiring God - discussing the issue of suffering. Well worth checking out.

Ten Ways to Know Someone is Leaving Your Church - "Does it bother you when someone leaves your church? The reality is that every church has a “back door.” The key leadership question that must be asked is not, “Are we going to lose people?” The reality is that you are." Brian Dodd - churchleaders.com - provides 10 warning signs for leaders to look out for.

Thought for the day...

"Christ's resurrection is the breaking in of God's future kingdom on earth. The Risen Christ invites us to live in this coming kingdom now."
— Mike Glenn