Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Monthly Wrap - February 2014

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

Is Atheism Irrational? - Gary Gutting from The Stone provides a wonderful interview with Alvin Plantinga, an emeritus professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, a former president of both the Society of Christian Philosophers and the American Philosophical Association, and the author, most recently, of “Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism.” A tough read, but worthwhile.

10 Ways to Love Your Neighbor - "You can't love your neighbor well if you live an overscheduled life. The key is leaving margin in your life so that when the opportunity to love your neighbor arises, you're available." Another great article by Ed Stetzer which really impacted me this week. This is well worth a read and provides some very practical ideas around simple ways to best engage with people around you.

They Do It Better Than We Do - "It’s a sad commentary and indictment when little league baseball coaches are more successful and committed to training and developing boys into baseball players than disciple-makers are to making and maturing disciples of Jesus." Tim Brister writes a great article exhorting Christians to spend as much time making disciples of others as they do engaging in sporting activities each week. Some great points in this article.

Work That Makes A Difference - "The work was boring and mundane, dull and tedious, because I allowed it to be that way." Tim Challies writes a fantastic article urging Christians to glorify God as they work, noting that "...work is a stage to bring glory to my God." A great reminder and challenge for everyone who works anywhere.

Using Social Media In Your Church - "[Social media] is a tool for interaction and connection, not merely a megaphone to announce the next church program and party. Social media opens doors and opportunities to engage with people who rarely, if ever, step foot in a church building." Ed Stetzer writes a great article about the importance of people in leadership in churches being active agents for God on social media.

February's video...

All I can say to this video is Amen! Pastor Jeff Vanderstelt shares about what the Church actually is, providing the following definition: "The church is the regenerate people of God saved by the power of God for the purposes of God in this world."

Thought for the month...

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."
— John Quincy Adams

Friday, 31 January 2014

Monthly Wrap - January 2014

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

It's time! Time for my first Monthly Wrap on this blog. These posts showcase some of the best articles that I have come across over the course of the month. I hope you find them to be helpful for you in your relationship with God.

Digital Overload: Claim Back Your Life - "...Figures show that on average, Australians spend almost one day every week using the internet." One day a week? This article from the ABC highlights the worrying trend of people becoming increasingly digitally overloaded and provides some ideas to get your online time back in control. An article that rings true for anyone living, working and ministering in our modern world.

5 Ways To Teach Your Children To Hate The Ministry - "Pastors' kids are prone to hate the ministry. Why? How can it be avoided?" Another great article by Ed Stetzer encouraging anyone in a pastoral position to firstly be a parent, and then be a pastor. This is well worth a read.

Don’t Hate, Pray for Pro-Choice Champions - "...As Christians, we must not give in to the cultural tendency to denigrate and demonise people on the other side of the political aisle." Trevin Wax writes a great article exhorting Christians who campaign against abortion to pray and not hate people whose opinion differs from theirs.

Cynicism Doesn't Reach A Lost World - "It's worth remembering that your (and my) cynicism about certain evangelism methods is not actually evangelising a lost world. In that regard, cheesy does indeed trump unengaged cynicism. Yes, there might be better ways to share Christ, but too many cynics complain about how others evangelise while not sharing Christ themselves." Another fantastic article by Ed Stetzer who shares his reflections on evangelism in the sky.

The Effect of Your Life in 1400 Years - "...What we do in obedience to Christ in this life is never wasted. Our acts are like pebbles dropped in the pond of history. No matter how small our pebble, God rules the ripples. And he causes the design on the face of the waters to be exactly what he wills." John Piper writes an encouraging article about the sovereignty of God and His hand on every single thing we do with our lives.

January's video...

Each month along with my list of articles, I will also be sharing a video that I've come across during the month. This month's video is from David Platt and Francis Chan who recently collaborated to create an eight-minute video about the dangers of diluting discipleship and how the art of "making" disciples is intricately tied to the identity of "being" a disciple.

Thought for the month...

"When all your favourite preachers are gone, and all their books forgotten, you will have your Bible. Master it."
— John Piper

Friday, 3 January 2014

New Desiring God Website

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

Many of you would be aware that I admire the ministry of John Piper in many ways. To kick of 2014, Desiring God - the online home of John Piper - have launched a new website. The website could be described as a treasure chest full to overflowing of jewels for the Christian soul - quality sermons, books, blog content, audio podcasts and much more are offered online; many of them available for no cost.

Along with the new website for 2014, Desiring God have also released a short video clip to explain who they are and what they stand for. Take the time to familiarise yourself with Desiring God by viewing the above video.

I encourage you - check out the new Desiring God website and make it a regular place that you visit online - you will be blessed by the relevant and biblical content I'm sure!

New Year, New Vision

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

Well as you are no doubt aware I have not posted on my blog for some time; almost for six months in fact! Life is busy, our baby is soon to be born, and posting on Alive in Christ has not been at the top of my priority list. I have nevertheless for some time been thinking about how I can best utilise this blog and hopefully continue to provide encouragement to people through exploring the Christian faith together online.

So along with a new year, here is my new vision for the blog:

Firstly, my Weekly Wraps are going to become Monthly Wraps. There are so many great articles that I come across every week however, with time constraints I think that it would be best if I provide just one wrap once a month. I'd prefer to take the time to read and then pick from a wider range of quality articles to share online.

I'm also going to continue to write book reviews as I read them - this is a skill that I am interested in developing so what better way than to share here? I want to make a concerted effort in 2014 to share a wide variety of book reviews so you should see a couple of reviews here and there throughout the year.

Also, I also want to commit this year to explore and hopefully explain (to some degree at least!) what various theological terms actually mean. We all hear and read words like substitutionary atonement, post-tribulation, election, dispensationalism but what do they actually mean? I'll humbly try to provide some insights into common theological terms.

Finally, I'm keen to start reading through and studying a book of the bible and posting my reflections and notes online for discussion. To kick off 2014, I'm going to start with one of my favourite books of the bible: Ephesians. This should be a great way to engage with the bible and hopefully learn from one another along the way.
So I encourage you to stay tuned in for the all new blog content in 2014 - it should be a great year ahead!

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