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