In his best selling book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey noted that when it comes to healthy relationships, mature people think “win/win”. Win/Win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all situations, agreements and solutions. With a Win/Win solution, all parties feel good about the decision and are committed to the action plan - there is something in it for everybody and everybody wins. Win/Win sees life as a co-operative, not a competition. One person’s success is not achieved at the expense or exclusion of the success of others - it’s not your way or my way; it’s a better way, a higher way. It helps to avoid alternative approaches... Read more →

[Watch this message] It’s Mother’s Day: a century-old tradition of taking time to thank and honour our amazing mums. Mums are special people we owe so much to - in addition to our very existence! Most mums are faithful, loyal, hard-working, loving and caring people. We honour and applaud them today. Of course, Mother’s Day brings a variety of emotion with it – gratitude, if you had a great mum, some sadness and pain if you had a difficult or absent mum, and grief if you have lost your mum or wanted to be a mum but haven’t yet been able to have children. Our Mothers What was your mother like? Mothers are highly influential people but no mother is... Read more →

Luke gives us some interesting insight into Jesus' self-perception ... as a 12 year old. Luke 2:41-52. Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among... 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 →

Looking for a baby name? In 2014, around 1 in 10 Australian babies were given one of the Top 10 most popular baby names; a total of 30,581 babies. There were more than 2,189 boys named Oliver and 1,796 girls names Olivia last year. Keeping the top spot from 2013 is Oliver, the top boy baby name in Australia for 2014 having overtaken Jack and William which were 1st in 2011 and 2012 respectively. Oliver was the top boys’ name in all 6 states (NSW, VIC, QLD, SA, WA, TAS) while William was the top boy baby name in the 2 territories (NT, ACT). There were 230 more instances of Oliver than William, an increase on the margin of 37... 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 →

In most marriages, one person is wired a little more relationally than the other. Often it is the wife ... but not always. If so, husbands, find a quiet time and place and ask your wife these two simple questions: 1. "How would you rate the current state/health of our marriage on a scale of 1-10?" 10 being you should start your own marriage seminar, 1 being you desperately need to attend a marriage seminar. No negative numbers, please. Note, that it will probably be lower than your score. Don't start an argument about that! 2. Then ask her, "What do you think would improve our marriage?" Then consider doing just that. Women often have great relational insight. [If the... Read more →

Divorce and Remarriage In Matthew 19:1-9, we have a record of the Pharisees trying to trick Jesus with a question about divorce, a hotly debated topic of his day. Everyone today has or knows a friend or family member who has been divorced and possibly remarried, or maybe we have even gone through that experience ourselves. Stories of family breakdown are usually filled with pain and heartache – for spouses and for children, if they are involved. Here in Australia 43% of first marriages end in divorce and the rates go up with second and subsequent marriages. One in three marriages today are a re-marriage, resulting in an increasing number of step-families and blended families. All sorts of questions emerge... Read more →

Let’s talk about the family. There have been many popular TV families over the years – Little House on the Prairie, The Waltons, The Brady Bunch, The Cosby Show, Friends, The Simpsons and now Modern Family. Some people say that television shapes the culture while others say it simply reflects the culture. A few would even say it is 5 years behind the culture. What we do know is that today’s families are changing and facing tremendous pressure both from within and without. Complex questions are emerging about such matters as blended families, same-sex attraction, as well as divorce and remarriage. Families in Bible Times What did families look like in biblical times? In the first book of the Bible,... Read more →

This coming Sunday is Mother's Day. I realise that this can be a difficult day for some people. Maybe your mother passed away recently, or you don’t have a good relationship with your mum, or maybe you always wanted to become a mum and it hasn’t happened. Our thoughts and prayers go out to you. It is, however, a good time to honour all of the mums. They are amazing people. Both Nicole and I lost our mothers a few years back now (Joyce Conner and Renata or 'Oma' Meyer). That's a good reminder to all of us to love them while we can. Have you ever thought about a mother's job? Check out this humorous video clip showing 24... Read more →

A friend pointed me to a very good article recently in the Huffington Post religion section by Jamie Bruesehoof to parents with young children in church (especially relevant when kid's church is having a break during the school holidays!). Here is it: You are doing something really, really important. I know it's not easy. I see you with your arms overflowing, and I know you came to church already tired. Parenting is tiring. Really tiring. I watch you bounce and sway trying to keep the baby quiet, juggling the infant car seat and the diaper bag ('nappy bag' for the Aussies) as you find a seat. I see you wince as your child cries. I see you anxiously pull things... Read more →

Research in America shows that 59% of millennials (also known as Gen Y) drop out of church after attending regularly as a teenager. For the past decade, Barna Group has been working to understand this important age group. After interviewing more than 27,000 millennials and conducting 206 studies of this group, they have amassed a significant body of knowledge on millennials. Now they are sharing that knowledge via a special section of their web site that contains research, articles and carefully curated information on this elusive and often confusing age groups. Check it out at In many ways, Australia is a unique environment that has major differences to the American context, but there is much we can learn from... Read more →

Today is Father's Day, a time to honour all of our dads. I am thankful for my own father and the positive role model he has been for me, despite that fact that he was an orphan and never had either a father or a mother his entire life (see his biography This is my Story for more). He has done his best to be the kind of father to my sister and me that he never had. I would also like to thank our three amazing kids - Josiah (and daughter-in-law, Shelley), Ashley (and daughter-in-law Malisa, if there is such a thing!) and Natasha - for making being a dad such an enjoyable experience. I am so proud of... Read more →

You and Your Father

Tomorrow is Father's Day in Australia. Unfortunately, when it comes to dads, the news is not all good. Steve Biddulph, in his best-selling book Manhood, estimates that: * 30% of men don’t speak to their father. * 30% have a prickly or hostile and difficult relationship. * 30% go through the motions of being a good son and discuss nothing deeper than lawnmowers. * Only 10% of men are friends with their father and see them as a source of emotional support. Those are sad statistics! In an ideal world, we need to feel love and respect for our fathers and also receive love and respect back from them. However, maybe your relationship with your dad is not a good... Read more →

3. Instruct Clearly Father God does not leave us to figure out life by ourselves. He gives us clear instructions about every area of life and explains why his way is full of wisdom (Gen.2:15-17. Deut 30:11-20). God's words are contained in the Scriptures and they present his will and best wishes for our life. They are for our good – our ultimate benefit – not because he wants to take the fun or enjoyment out of life (2 Tim.3:16-17). As parents, we are to instruct our children in God's way of living (Eph.6:4). We are to make our expectations clear as well as the consequences. Then we need to be consistent in following through. Instruction may be a regular... Read more →

It's that time of year when we honour all the dads – Father's Day. Let's talk about fathering and who better to learn from that the greatest father of all time. No, not me – Father God. The God of the Bible has revealed himself as one God existing in three persons - the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We have the opportunity to be "born again" spiritually into God's family. God wants to be our Father and we can be his children (John 1:12-13. Rom.8:13-17. Gal.4:4-7. 1 John 3:1-2). With the breakdown of marriages and family relationships today, we often develop a marred concept of fatherhood. All natural fathers often fail in accurately presenting the character and... Read more →

With the celebration of Father's Day this coming Sunday, I thought this post by J John on "The Anatomy of Fathering" was appropriate ... In the New Testament God is described as a father, and human fathers are to be imitators of God the Father. Fathering requires many skills and one way to think of them is in terms of parts of the body. Fathers need: 1. A Heart Children need to be loved, with a deep caring love that is more than an emotion. Children also need to know they are loved. The Bible talks about God as a loving father, whose heart goes out to men and women. In Jesus’ Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15), having... Read more →

Modern Family (Pt.3) - Singleness

Today, let’s talk about being single. Singles are people who have never married (because they chose not to marry or have not found a partner) or those who have been married but are single again because of the death of a spouse or through divorce. This includes single parents. American theologian Stanley Hauerwas argues that Christianity was the very first religion to hold up single adulthood as a viable way of life. Nearly all ancient religions and cultures made an absolute value of the family and of bearing children, which was seen as the only way to significance and leaving a legacy. In ancient cultures, long-term single adults were considered to be living a human life that was less than... Read more →

I am a PK - a "preacher's kid" or a TO - a "theological offspring", as my father used to call me. Growing up in a pastor's or minister's home is not easy. Many people think you should be perfect or at least have an extra holiness gene. It's just not true. Your surname brings all sorts of pressures and expectations, many of them unrealistic. No wonder far too many PKs drop out of the church and some from faith altogether. I am a survivor. People often ask me why. It's hard to explain ... but a few things I do mention are: 1. My parents were the real deal. They were the same on the platform as they were... Read more →

You can become a parent in an instant but learning the art of parenting can take a lifetime. Children don’t come with instructions but thankfully we can glean God’s wisdom through the Scriptures, from other effective parents, and from the common sense that comes from life experience. God describes himself in parental terms (as a “Father”) and calls us his “children.” Each one of us has the opportunity to be “born again” spiritually into God's family (John 1:11-13. Rom.8:14-16. Gal.4:4-7. 1John 3:1-2). No matter what our natural family situation may have been God wants to be a perfect spiritual parent to his children. As we reflect on the character and behaviour of God, we can learn much about parenting. The... Read more →

God invented marriage as a covenant relationship between a man and a woman (Gen.2:18-25). Marriage is one of the most intimate of human relationships, as a husband and wife join every aspect of their lives together for life. Getting married is easy but building a strong marriage takes time and effort. A great wedding doesn’t make a great marriage. The key to any great marriage is LOVE – a commitment to put the best interests of the other person before our own. Let’s look at four important steps we can take to build a great marriage. 1. Lay a Good Foundation If you want to build something to last, you need to start with a strong foundation, and a marriage... Read more →

A Changing Culture Just mention the word “family” in society today and you’ll get a variety of opinion and perspectives on what it is and what it should be. Changes to the family are reflected in the typical TV family. We've come a long way from Little House on the Prairie, The Waltons, The Cosby Show and The Brady Bunch (anyone remember The Munsters or The Adams' Family?) through shows like Friends (a bunch of friends living together in a pseudo-family), The Simpsons and now Modern Family. The traditional “nuclear family” (a dad and mum and a few kids) is becoming less common (some sociologists would say “extinct”). Of course, in many Asian cultures, the “extended family” (including grandparents and... Read more →

I love the story about the Harvard MBA who was in Mexico for his company. He saw a small Mexican fishing boat pulling up the dock and one solitary fisherman got out and held four huge fish on a stringer. The Harvard guy was amazed at the quality of the fish. He asked the fisherman, “How long did it take you to catch those?” He said, “About three hours.” “What are you going to do with them?” The fisherman said, “They’re going to feed my family.” The Harvard guy was intrigued and said, “What do you do with the rest of your time?” The fisherman said, “I sleep late. I play with my children, I have a siesta with my... Read more →

Our daughter, Natasha, turns 20 in a few weeks. We bought her a dog, with some help from the RSPCA. He is a labrador and is a little over 2 years of age. His name is Oscar. Oscar is very cute and has a peaceful nature. While looking through a few other dog pounds with my wife, Nicole, we saw the following 10 Commandments from a Dog's Point of View. Worth repeating ... 1. My life is likely to last 10-15 years; any separation from you will be painful for me. Remember that before you buy me. 2. Give me time to understand what you want from me; don't be impatient, short-tempered, or irritable. 3. Place your trust in me... Read more →

The pool of those living beyond 100 – the centenarians of society - is increasing in leaps and bounds (70,000 in USA in 2007 increasing to 834,000 in 2050; over 4,252 in Australia as of June, 2011, up from 203 just 40 years ago). Demographers are now starting to the number of ‘super-centenarians’ – people over the age of 110 (300-450 currently)! So life can be prolonged, but eventually we will all die … unless Jesus returns in our lifetime. Eventually the life clock must run down and the human body must die. People at this stage of life need to feel loved and valued, especially in a society that values productivity and youth, qualities that are in short supply... Read more →

In medieval times the Catholic worldview of the human life span was often depicted as a circle. In the centre was the image of Christ. Around this divine hub, were illustrations of the different ages of life from infancy to the grave. Each age, like a spoke, was equidistant from the hub. This suggested that every point in human life existed in the same sacred relationship to the divine. During the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, this symbolism underwent a profound and lasting change. Instead of a circle, the image of an ascending and descending staircase became prevalent. The image seemed better suited to the new importance of work, ambition and changing social roles in the emerging market economy... Read more →

Like the sun sweeping through the sky, midlife (ages 35-50) is like noon-time, dividing the first and second halves of life. At the stroke of noon, the descent begins. Note that what we consider midlife, was for most of history in fact the end of life for most people. As recently as 1900, the life span of the average adult in the Western world was only 47. We have been blessed to have extra decades added to the average life span in our time. Midlife is a season that can be like moving through muddy waters. Some people experience what is referred to as a “midlife crisis” during this time (first written about in 1965). Midlife signals that youth and... Read more →

Early Adulthood (20-35 years of age) is a time of leaving the familiar world of family, parents, community, school and entering the big unknown world. It is a break with the past and a move into future. Of course, the very term "adult" is very hard to define. When do you become an adult? When you can drive, vote, drink or when you are married? It is a fuzzy line and for many the transition is a slow process. Some young adults are staying home longer. After all, why leave when there is free rent, cooking, TV and washing? Young adults often have some kind of life dream - a desire to achieve great things. They have plans and possibly... Read more →

Adolescence (13-19 years of age) refers to the teenage years - the hazardous passage from childhood to adulthood. One way to describe this journey is like ‘rapids’ along a river. Things may get rough for a while but if you hang on and don't panic, everything will eventually smooth out again. Physically, this is a time of huge change. Puberty brings pimples, sweat, hair in unusual places, new odors, and crazy hormones. Emotions include quickly shifting moods, trying to find an identity, and strong passionate feelings. Mentally, it's a time of growth, taking in the abstract, logic, and an ability to mount a good argument, as well as to spot hypocrisy and inconsistencies at great distances. Spiritually, teenagers are open... Read more →