Current Issues

'End Times' Fever One of the last questions Jesus’ disciples asked him was about the end of the world (see Matthew 24:1-3). After the resurrection and at the end of Jesus’ ministry on earth, he ascended up to heaven. As he did, two angels appeared and boldly proclaimed, “Why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven (Acts 1:10-11).” The last recorded words of the ascended Jesus are in the book of Revelation. They were to the church and he said, “Yes, I am coming soon (Rev.22:7, 12, 20)!” Ever since that time people have... Read more →


The topic of the ‘end of the world’ has been one of interest to humans since time began but it has intensified in recent years. Church History Here is a quick overview of what has taken place from the end of New Testament times up until today: 1. Many people have speculated about the time of the second coming and the end of the world as we know it. Even in 100 AD there were believers who thought it was immanent. In the early 200s, Hippolytus of Rome predicted that Christ would come in 496 AD, working out this date from studying the book of Daniel. Another Syrian church leader led his people out into the desert to await the... Read more →


In the holidays, we went to see the movie Suffragette. It was very moving - showing the struggle of women to gain the right to vote in Britain back in the early 1800s. The movie does not claim to be a comprehensive exploration of every activist who falls under that broad term, but instead revolves around one working class woman’s story. As a result, critics have noted that the full detail and nuance of this mass movement has been lost in the transition to the big screen. Nevertheless, it's a story crying out for justice for everyone everywhere - regardless of gender, race, age or socio-economic status. What would it look like to treat all God's creatures with respect, honour... Read more →


TONIGHT at 9.30pm on ABC TV, Ka-Ching Pokie Nation will screen across Australia. By all reports, it is a shocking report into the way that poker machines are placing a terrible cost on our society. There is stunning new evidence that pokie addiction functions in exactly the same way as heroin, cocaine or ice. This product has not just been licensed by the State but spread irresponsibly throughout Australia for the profit of the gambling industry, not to mention State Treasuries. PLEASE help us lift awareness about poker machines by: Watching Ka-Ching tonight and encouraging others to watch it to. You can see and share Ka-Ching's trailer here. Live tweeting during the event with the hashtag #kaching so that we... Read more →


Most followers of Christ understand the need to pursue truth and avoid error. Some take it upon themselves to find error and point it out to others. Most churches I know have a statement of faith and their teaching teams speak from this foundation. They believe that the Bible is inspired by God and is authoritative in matters of belief and practice. From time to time, I noticed that one of our teaching team may quote someone in a message and it raises questions from a listener or congregation member. This can lead to some interesting conversations. In one such recent dialogue, I raised three questions: 1. "If a person quotes someone else, does that mean that they endorse everything... Read more →


Right now, our vision as a church is to see over 10,000 stories of transformation. Recently, we have had a number of moving stories about individuals coming out of domesitc violence situations. These are people who once felt isolated, hopeless, and helpless. Now they feel cared for and looked after. These stories provide hope for anyone affected by domestic violence. Domestic violence (sometimes referred to as ‘family violence’ or ‘interpersonal violence’) is defined as “a pattern of coercive or controlling behaviour used by one individual to gain or maintain power and control over another individual in the context of an intimate relationship. This includes any behaviours that frighten, intimidate, terrorise, exploit, manipulate, blame, injure, or wound a person.” It is... Read more →


"Porn Kills Love" by Josiah Conner

We fight the drug of porn with the power of love Ephesians 5:1-14 [Josiah Conner kicked off our Modern Family series last weekend with a message entitled "Porn Kills Love" (watch or listen). Here is a summary, along with some reflection questions] Steak: We have taken the good gift of sex and turned it into something it is not. Steak: food is for eating (we have twisted sex into something it isn’t). 1. Think about the ways that sex has been twisted away from God’s intention. 2. The dictionary defines pornography as: Sexually explicit writing, images, video, or other material whose primary purpose is to cause sexual arousal. Think about what kinds of pornography there are in our world. 3.... Read more →


Who would’ve thought that one photo could cause so much trouble? It wasn’t the first time I’d been criticized for my friendship and solidarity with the Muslim community, in fact I’d had some threats of violence when I spoke up about Halal certification but this one took it another level. Had I renounced the gospel? Sure, being friends with Muslims, but praying in a mosque? Did I even believe in Jesus anymore? The beard didn’t help any. Had I taken the instructions “love your neighbour as yourself” and “love your enemy” too literally? Too far? 1 John 3. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down... Read more →


As a pastor and church leader, I have a confession to make: The church has not handled the matter of domestic violence well. Let me be more specific: 1. We have not done a good job of helping to prevent domestic violence, of confronting it when it does occur nor of helping those involved - both the perpetrator and victim. 2. There has been too much ignorance about the prevalence of domestic violence. Many church leaders have failed to believe that it can happen, even in Christian homes. 3. There has been much erroneous teaching about ‘submission’, ‘authority’, and ’obedience’ in the home. This has led to a culture of silence and acceptance.. 4. Preachers have not taught on this... Read more →


As a nation, there are traits that have defined Australia for decades, but as the times shift and trends emerge McCrindle Research takes a look at the extent to which these are still relevant in defining us today. 1. The Lucky Country Statistics show that Australia is doing better than ever when it comes to health, education, economic opportunities, and even political participation. The economy is on a steady increase, even despite a recent global economic crisis. Cash flow is increasing with the net disposable income for everyday Australians now $10,000 more than it was a decade ago. We value independence but in a community-minded way. As Aussies we recognise that individual achievement rarely occurs without a helping hand from... Read more →


On Monday, the 26 of January, we celebrate 'Australia Day' - the official national day of Australia. I love Australia. I have travelled to around 30 countries in my short time on earth and I love different cultures and places ... but there is no place like home. Amidst the fireworks and BBQs we remember the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet of British Ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales in 1788. That was when Governor Arthur Phillip raised the flag of Great Britain at that site. We can celebrate and be grateful for this beautiful nation we live in and at the same time understand how some people may not feel like celebrating on this particular... Read more →


A few weeks back I wrote a letter to the Australian Prime Minister expressing concern about how children are being treated in detention centres. This last week I received a response from him and I post it here. It feels like a "everyone has a right to their opinion but we're going to do what we want to do regardless" response. He has totally ignored my concern. I will be writing him back again. Read more →


As we head towards the crazy Christmas season, it's a good thing to pause and think about consumerism and the follower of Christ. At CityLife, we have a social justice LifeGroup and they have put together a paper designed to be a thought provoking series of questions and comments exploring some key issues which confront us in our Western, first world culture. We hope that it can be used to start discussion and to promote action in your family, your LifeGroup, your social network and your work colleagues! 1. On the Issue of “Stuff” When is enough, enough? Or we could ask ourselves what would Jesus buy? Thought Spot: Jonathon Comford, in his article - Daily Bread: The Economy of... Read more →


The inhumane treatment of asylum seekers here in Australia is extremely concerning. Thankfully, more and more people are speaking up about it. All year, Christian leaders have been peacefully protesting and writing letters. I encourage you to do the same. Here is a copy of an open letter to Prime Minister Tony Abbott I recently sent: Dear Prime Minister, Subject: Treatment of Asylum Seekers and Children in Detention I am the Senior Minister of CityLife Church, Melbourne. We are a community of over 9,000 members representing people from over 105 cultural backgrounds who make up our diverse and beautiful nation. On behalf of these members, I am writing to raise grave concerns about the current direction the government is taking... Read more →


Good friends of ours, Rob and Christie Buckingham (pastors of Bayside Church here in Melbourne), host The Exchange, an interactive TV program that engages with a variety of current issues, including parenting, technology, dealing with loss, the sexualisation of children, and domestic violence. The Exchange is like meeting with your friends in a coffee shop and discussing everyday stuff that affects us. It’s a half hour chat show that aims to share ideas on relationships, parenting, finance, wellbeing and social justice. Each week co-hosts Rob and Christie Buckingham invite guests around their table to get their take on a particular issue. The Exchange reporter Sandra Cavallo also hits the streets and finds out what the Australian public thinks. The show... Read more →


I remember attending my first Halloween party as a kid (not long after our family moved to the USA back in the 1970s), with its eerily lit pumpkins, freaky dress-up costumes and the scary dark room we were all dared to navigate ourselves through, kind of like a pseudo-haunted house. It was a lot of fun. And it was hosted by our local church! My, how times have changed. Christians today either continue to celebrate it as an innocent annual party or boycott it as evil and even demonic. Why the debate? Halloween (literally "hallowed or holy evening") originated as a pagan festival that followers of Christ 'Christianised' (as an occasion to remember the saints, martyrs and all departed believers)... Read more →


Australia is marked with the beauty of diversity. People from many backgrounds, ethnicities and beliefs call this land home. Over the last several years I have had reservations about the treatment of asylum seekers, especially children in detention. The current harsh treatment of destitute people, seeking safety on our shores for a variety of reasons, does not reflect the beauty and depth of a society that embraces and celebrates diversity. There have been many reports about the detrimental impact of detention on the welfare of children and asylum seekers. As a follower of Jesus, and as a minister who believes that the church is called to exist as a faithful witness in the world, the abuse of children and the... Read more →


In October 2013, my wife and I participated with a number of other church pastors in an Indigenous Awareness Trip, sponsored by the Concilia organisation. We began by flying from Melbourne to Alice Springs. It was my first visit to this iconic Australian town. It was not as big as I thought it would be - only 28,000 people. It was 41 degrees when we arrived - a very warm welcome. We began by visiting a number of the 20 Aboriginal camps around the town. Aboriginal people make up about 20% of the local population. We also visited some of the work of Mission Australia. Needless to say, it was quite confronting to see the challenges being faced by Indigenous... Read more →


Australians Together is taking a fresh approach to building relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Their web site has some inspiring stories and helpful articles. Check it out. This coming weekend at CityLife Church, I will be sharing some of our experiences on an indigenous awareness trip we did with some Australian pastors last year, sponsored by Concilia. We will also be running the entire course on Saturday, 18th October. The course promotes the value of listening to Indigenous people and learning about our shared story so that we can live in respectful peer relationship with each other. In these sessions we will be watching ‘Sharing Our Story’, a 4 episode DVD series that explores how the events of our... Read more →


I am sure we all heard the tragic news of actor Robin Williams death this last week. It is so sad when a person gets to the place where they think that ending their life is a better option than living it. Depression is a real challenge in our world today and many people battle with it. It is estimated that one in six Australians face depression at some time in their life. As a result, suicide is now the biggest killer of young Australians and accounts for the deaths of more young people than car accidents. If you are walking through what seems like a dark tunnel, please don’t say suicide. Talk to someone. Share what you are feeling... Read more →


A recent article from the Barna Group: March 18, 2014 — He was the most talked-about person of 2013 and winner of TIME’s “Person of the Year” award. Google Translate coders have set his name to translate as “a better world.” Yet Pope Francis insists that he is “a normal person,” and has no desire to be “a superman or a star.” Some religion columnists and commentators attribute the public’s esteem to his humble insistence that he is ordinary. In fact, humility may just be the pontiff’s paradoxical trademark. The Washington Postsummed it up in one headline: “Like Pope Francis? You’ll Love Jesus.” The Post is not alone in pointing out that the pope’s actions, words and demeanor are often... Read more →


Let’s be in prayer for people in the Philippines recently affected by Typhoon Haiyan. Thankfully, many groups, including World Vision, are at work in the area. Pray for safety, food and water for all families in the region, for the quick set up of evacuation centres and child friendly spaces, for those who have lost loved ones, for relief workers, and for those affected that they would find comfort in this time of tragedy and grief. Let’s declare that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). Read more →


Congratulations to Mr Tony Abbott who was elected today as the next prime Minister of Australia. He succeeded Mr Kevin Rudd, who will not contest the leadership of the Labor Party. This election campaign has been somewhat of a circus, but in the end the Australian population voted, and the Coalition has taken government, with a strong swign in their favour. Results for the Senate are yet to be finalised. Regardless of how you voted and who you voted for, now is the time to get behind our new Prime Minister and his elected government, as we move forward as a nation. Those of us who are Christians should pray earnestly and consistently for whoever is in government, regardless of... Read more →


Here is a very thought-provoking article about tomorrow's election, by my good friend, Jarrod McKenna. "Mixing religion and politics is like mixing ice cream and manure. It doesn't do much to the manure but it sure does ruin the ice cream", my friend Tony Campolo likes to say. Yet this election, like many before, there is an unpleasantly nutty taste and many politicians have their finger on the blender. Don't get me wrong - as a Christian leader who has studied the Bible since I came to faith, it's clear that central to the Christian tradition is a story of how well faith leaders and politicians work together. But what's strangely forgotten around election time is the important detail that... Read more →


On Saturday, September 7th, Australia goes to the polls to vote and to choose their Prime Minister and who will govern them for this next season. As with any election, this is an important time in the life of our nation. This coming weekend, our church will pray for the election in all of our gatherings. Our focus will be on four aspects: First, we need to acknowledge that God is in control. He is sovereign over all matters on earth. Ultimately, his purpose will be accomplished. He puts one leader up and takes another down. He can put it into the hearts of people to do his will. We must trust him and honor him as the God over... Read more →


Australia's humanity is the casualty of repugnant asylum politics Article written by: Tim Costello chief executive of World Vision Australia. The Australian philosopher Peter Singer asks students to consider whether a person wearing new shoes and a suit has a responsibility to wade into a nearby pond, thus ruining their clothes, if they see a child in that pond having difficulty swimming. Predictably they respond that the person has a responsibility to save the child and that the cost of the shoes and suit are no reason not to act. In other words, you either think that people have inherent dignity and worth, or not. In the eyes of the bystander, that dignity does not depend on whether you have... Read more →


Is Australia becoming a nation of whiners? The third survey of opinions on tax - for 2012 by Per Capita shows more of us believe we pay too much tax in a system that is less fair. Per Capita says Australia has the fifth lowest tax burden of the 34 OECD countries, only higher than South Korea, Chile, the US and Mexico, and yet 50% of us believe we are 'over-taxed', up from 44% in 2010. And the proportion of people who think they pay too much tax increases as income increases. [Source: Money Magazine, May 2013 - Issue 156] Read more →


Barna Report: In the aftermath of the Boston marathon bombings, the attention of the media and the American public quickly turned toward the faith and political background of Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Reporters honed in on Tamerlan’s apparently deep Muslim faith, especially analyzing if that faith had become radicalized in the last few years. Fair or not, pundits, experts, and the American public wondered—did the faith of the two alleged bombers have anything to do with the atrocity that occurred? If so, what did that mean? It was yet another instance of American ideals and radical Islam clashing with one another. Since September 11, 2001, American attitudes toward the religion of Islam have been under increased investigation. Controversies surrounding al... Read more →


A well-written article by Greg Boyd, worth re-posting: To no one’s surprise, yet to the sadness of many of us, several Christian spokespeople, including James Dobson, Mike Huckabee and Bryan Fischer, are blaming the shootings in Newtown, Conn, on abortion and gay marriage. This is sadly reminiscent of Jerry Falwell’s hurtful response to 9/11 when he divined that “the pagans,” “abortionists,” “feminists,” “gays,” “lesbians,” “ACLU” and “People For the American Way” were to be blamed. It’s reminiscent as well, on a smaller scale, of John Piper’s disturbing public declaration that the collapse of the 35W bridge here in Minneapolis that killed 13 people was God warning us about our sin and the toppling of a church steeple by a tornado... Read more →


It always concerns me the amount of so-called ‘Christians’ who spend their time throwing mud at other Christian ministries, claiming that so-and-so is a false prophet or spreading heresy. Jesus does call us to discern ministries (by their fruit) but to go beyond this and place a judgment on a person is something we are strongly commanded to NOT do (see my previous BLOG post 'Discern, Don't Judge). To quote my previous post, Derek Prince recommends five key things that we should look for when discerning whether any church, ministry or so-called “move of God” is genuine or not (from his booklet Uproar in the Church published by Derek Prince Ministries). Here they are: The fruit of repentance. Are people... Read more →


The following article is the from the Barna Group web site ... November 5, 2012 – Compared to the days leading up to 2008, when Barack Obama was a frontrunner and poised to make inroads among Christian voters, the 2012 presidential race remains without a clear leader. Yet most voters place a high urgency on tomorrow’s outcome: Two-thirds of all likely voters (67%) perceive the 2012 election to be one of the most important races in the past 50 years. From the early primaries through the debates, Barna Group has been tracking the public perceptions of the candidates and the key issues. Here is a look at some of the factors that will affect people’s votes. Top Candidate Influencers Of... Read more →