General Interest

Over the last month or so, I have been gradually reading through the book of Psalms in The Message Bible translation. It's a wonderful collection of songs and poetry, expressing the full range of human emotion: disappointment, frustration, anger and hope, as well as praise, worship and joy. One of the most well known Psalms is Psalm 100 - which is a call to worship. It begins by declaring, "Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!" The next line is "Serve (or worship) the Lord with gladness (or joy)." Every day, as we go about our life, we are serving someone - at home, through volunteering, or at our workplace. Those of us who are people of... Read more →


The third ingredient contributing to our everyday happiness (read part 1) is financial control. Money isn't everything but having enough to meet our own needs as well as to give away to others can create a sense of happiness and freedom in our lives. This has nothing to do with our 'net worth' or waiting until we get that next raise or bonus. It's about how we are managing the resources we currently have. Money is a terrific servant but it can be a cruel taskmaster if we allow it control us. Thankfully, we don't have to wait until we have more money. We can start having a sense of financial control ... beginning today. It's about having a common-sense... Read more →


The second factor that contributes to our happiness (read Part 1) is Strong Personal Relationships. Each of us is born into a family and a desire for a sense of belonging is a part of what it means to be human. Although the introverts among us tend to be energized by solitude and alone time, most people enjoy meaningful conversation and are enriched by good friendships. In many ways, relationships are spatial. Most people have lots of acquaintances, many 'friends' or people they know more about or do life together with, but usually only a few close or best friends. Like circles of friendship, the former are further away emotionally while the latter are in close proximity. The key is... Read more →


Are you happy? What does happiness really look like? Australia's longest running and most comprehensive survey on happiness is conducted by the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index. After 15 years of detailed research, the author of the survey, Deakin University Emeritus Professor Bob Cummins, says he's finally cracked the code to wellbeing, which he has dubbed the ‘golden triangle of happiness': A sense of purpose. Strong personal relationships. Financial control. Let's take a look at each of these: A Sense of Purpose Deep inside of each one of us is a need for a sense of purpose and meaning. What are we living for? What is life all about? Why should we even get out of bed in the morning? Good... Read more →


I'm on holidays and I'm loving every minute! My time off started just over 3 weeks ago. The difference in this break is that it began with me finishing employment at the same place for over 32 years. Needless to say, I have been gradually starting to relax and unwind, although it has taken discipline to not focus on what I have 'done' at the end of any particular day. My productivity bias is very strong! One thing I have noticed is how long and how deeply I have been sleeping. I guess you don't really know how tired you are until you slow down or stop for a while. I said to Nicole one morning this week that it... Read more →


It may take time … but having and working a financial plan is the path to financial freedom and God’s blessing whatever your situation. Notice the plan is not the 80-10-10 plan. The order is important. Put God first in your finances. Then change ratios over time as you’re able - 15-15-70, etc. This is pretty simple: a 10-year old can do it. Every person’s financial situation is unique. What is right for you may not be relevant for someone else, but these principles can work for just about everyone. My motive in sharing this message is to help you personally – because a lot of people live under tremendous financial pressure and all of us need to learn principles... Read more →


Establish and Live by a Budget If you don't take control of your money it will take control of you and your life. Money is a great servant but is a cruel taskmaster. A budget is the most important and effective tool for getting your finances under control. A budget is simply a plan for earning and spending money. It provides limits and boundaries, which give security. There are many Scriptures on planning (Proverbs 15:22; 20:18; 21:5; 27:23-24. Jerermiah 29:11. Luke 14:28-30). INCOME - How to Acquire Money Human labour is the means by which we earn money. It is the key to the earning side of the financial equation. God is a worker. He worked for six days (on... Read more →


Jesus and Money In Luke 16:1-13, we have an example of Jesus’ teaching about money. There’s a difference of opinion as to what exactly Jesus is commending about the manager in the story but the application of the parable is very clear: (1) all of us will be called to give an account of how we have served him and what we have done with our resources; (2) preparation for that day of account should involve wise use of our resources, especially in the area of finances; and (3) wise use of resources, demonstrating a life of true discipleship, will be rewarded with eternal life and joy. Jesus then added a few other lessons after he finished the story: (1)... Read more →


To realize the value of ONE YEAR, ask a student who failed a grade. To realize the value of ONE MONTH, ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby. To realize the value of ONE WEEK, ask the editor of a weekly newspaper. To realize the value of ONE HOUR, ask the lovers who are waiting to meet. To realize the value of ONE MINUTE, ask a person who just missed a train. To realize the value of ONE SECOND, ask someone who just avoided an accident. To realize the value of ONE MILLISECOND, ask the person who won a silver medal at the Olympics. Treasure every moment that you have ... and treasure it more because... Read more →


As the age of 19, I left America with my family to relocate back to Melbourne, Australia where I was born. I had been living in the USA for 10 years. I had friends, memories, and great opportunities for the future there. But my family was coming home and so I agreed to come with them for one year and give it a try. I had prayed bold prayers of surrendering everything to God. Now was the time to put those words into action. I was leaving everything, letting it all go, with no promise or guarantee of what was ahead. I had many more questions than answers: "Could I trust God? Would it work out? Would I regret leaving?"... Read more →


I love eagles. We live in a semi-rural area on the outskirts of Melbourne. When I took my first sabbatical back in 2012, on the very first day, Nicole and I were walking on a gravel road nearby and a huge wedge tailed eagle flew over our head and then up throught the trees. It was breathtaking. In the last few weeks, we have seen a pair of eagles soaring above our area a number of times. There are many lessons we can learn from the eagle. God likens us to eagles (Isaiah 40:28-31) and Solomon gained a lot of wisdom and insight from studying God's creation (1 Kings 4:29-34). Here are my main points: Embrace adversity. An eagle never... Read more →


A holidaying American businessman standing on the pier of a quaint coastal fishing village in southern Mexico watched as a small boat with just one young Mexican fisherman pulled into the dock. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. Enjoying the warmth of the early afternoon sun, the American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish. "How long did it take you to catch them?" the American casually asked. "Oh, a few hours," the Mexican fisherman replied. "Why don't you stay out longer and catch more fish?" the American businessman then asked. The Mexican warmly replied, "With this I have more than enough to meet my family's needs." The businessman then became serious, "But what do... Read more →


The following fictitious story illustrates the power of discouragement. Once upon a time it was announced that the devil was going out of business and would sell all his equipment to those who were willing to pay the price. On the big day of the sale, all his tools were attractively displayed. There was Envy, Jealousy, Hatred, Malice, Deceit, Sensuality, Pride, Idolatry, and other implements of evil on display. Each of the tools was marked with its own price tag. Over in the corner by itself was a harmless-looking, wedge-shaped tool very much worn down, but still it bore a higher price than any of the others. Someone asked the devil what it was, and he answered, "That is Discouragement."... Read more →


Do you feel like your life is cluttered? Are you a hoarder? Do you have stuff everywhere and the piles are only getting bigger? Do you feel overwhelmed? Maybe it's time to de-clutter. For some assistance, why not check out The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. This #1 New York Times best-selling guide to decluttering your home from Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes readers step-by-step through her revolutionary method for simplifying, organising, and storing. Here are the main take away ideas: The art of tidying requires discarding first (things that have outlived their purpose), then organising (the remaining things that you cherish now). Sort by Category (not Location). Do it in this Order: Clothes, Books, Papers, Miscellany, Momentos.... Read more →


Last weekend, as part of our Australians Together focus, we were privileged to host Max and Tracey Conlon at CityLife Church. They are indigenous Australian church leaders who founded Walkabout Ministry. They travel and minister to many of the isolated indigenous communities across our nation. Max was raised amongst 14 siblings in the Cherbourg Aboriginal settlement in south east Queensland and is a descendant of the Kabi Kabi/Kullali tribes. Max is an established artist and has been painting for 35 years. He has travelled extensively with exhibitions of his work in Dubai, Japan, Korea and a number of European cities. He has also exhibited extensively throughout the east coast of Australia, collaborating with his brother Robin (Goma) on murals and... Read more →


The Blessings of Aging

In a culture that idolises youth, it's easy to lose the value and joy of aging. Yet, wisdom says: "The glory of young men is their strength; gray hair the splendor of the old (Proverbs 20:29)." Having turned 50 years of age not long ago, I know what it's like to start to feel your own frailty. Those double digit birthdays can definitely take a significant mental and emotional toll on us. Thankfully, we are all aging at the same rate. The Huffington Post recently posted the following article by Sister Joan Chittister. There's some good wisdom here for us. The one certain dimension of US demographics these days is that the fastest growing segment of the American population is... Read more →


Okay, so today is World Animal Day. World Animal Day was started in 1931 at a convention of ecologists in Florence as a way of highlighting the plight of endangered species. October 4 was chosen as World Animal Day as it is the Feast Day of St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. Since then, World Animal Day has become a day for remembering and paying tribute to all animals and the people who love and respect them. It's celebrated in different ways in every country. Personally, I love animals and think we should show tender love and care to all God's creatures, great and small ... Gen.1:25. God made all sorts of wild animals, livestock, and small... Read more →


During my sabbatical last year, I saw an eagle on at least five different occasions. The first time was a huge wedge-tailed eagle that flew near the tree tops not far from our house while we were on a walk. The others I saw while travelling in various places. Eagles are so beautiful and majestic to watch, flying in an almost effortless fashion. To me the eagle represents God calling me to a higher life, resting in him, soaring on the wings of the Spirit, seeing life from his perspective, and riding far above the winds of adversity. What are some other lessons we can learn from the eagle? 1. As we wait on the Lord, we can exchange our... Read more →


The 23 millionth Australian, due to arrive this week, could be a baby called Jack or even a young Pom. The Australian Bureau of Statistics says the nation's population is set to hit 23 million people on April 23 at 9.57pm (AEST), but there's only a 40 per cent chance he or she will be home grown. Migrants make up 60 per cent of Australia's population growth and the UK accounts for one in five arrivals. If number 23,000,000 is born locally, there's a slightly better chance of it being a boy, with 105 males born for every 100 females, and Jack their most popular name. Australia's population is increasing by 1048 people per day, or by 1.7 per cent... Read more →


This week we've been talking about Your Work, God's Work. Did you know that the average person today has 5-7 complete career changes in their life time? That's an average of 10 different jobs with an average of 4.1 years at each workplace. I sure help the average, having worked as a builder's renovator, a book binder, a printer, a music director, a youth pastor, a church administrator and now as a pastor for the last 18 years. Maybe you've had lots of changes in career too or maybe you're one of those people who stick at something for a long time. Just for a bit of fun, here are some unusual though highly paid jobs in demand here in... 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 Cologne Cathedral is Germany’s most visited landmark, with an estimated 20,000 visitors each day of the year. It is a World Heritage Site and is a stunning example of Gothic architecture. What is most fascinating about this church building is the fact that it took 100s of years to build. The first part was constructed between 1248 and 1473. But then work was halted before eventually being resumed in the early 19th century finally to be completed in 1880, over 600 years later! This is an amazing example of generations of people being commited to a vision much bigger than themselves - something that would outlive them. That's what the church is all about - not a physical building... Read more →


Here in Melbourne, Australia the season of Spring begins - today! I love Spring. We start to move away from the cold, rainy and cloudy days of winter. The sun starts to become warmer. Birds are singing their little hearts out. Trees that have looked dead start to blossom with new life. Solomon described it well ... Look, the winter is past, and the rains are over and gone. The flowers are springing up, the season of singing birds has come. [Song of Songs 2:11-12. NLT] God created the seasons ... Genesis 8:22. As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night. And God can change the seasons... Read more →


Every day or so I receive one of those "pass it on" emails explaining some horrible thing that has happened or some latest conspiracy theory. It's hard to know what to believe. How do you separate fact from fiction? There is a web site dedicated to helping us in this area, called Snopes. Their mission is "to be the definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation." You can use the search box on the web site to locate an item of interest or browse the site by category. A recent example (actually, it's been around since 2004) is an email announcing the supposed crushing of a small boy is an Islamic country for stealing a... Read more →


A friend passed this on to me. Interesting reading ... Before you read to the end, do you know what the main ingredient of WD-40 is? Who knew? I had a neighbour who bought a new car. I got up very early one Sunday morning and saw that someone had spray painted red all around the sides of his car (for some unknown reason). I went over, woke him up, and told him the bad news. He was very upset and was trying to figure out what to do.... probably nothing until Monday morning, since nothing was open. Another neighbour came out and told him to get his WD-40 and clean it off. It removed the unwanted paint beautifully and... Read more →


Silent Night is one of the most popular carols sun across the world at this Christmas season. There are many romantic stories about how it was composed. Here is one of them that may contain an element of truth to it ... On Christmas Eve 1818 in Austria, the Vicar of a small church in Oberndorf had written a new song to be sung on Christmas Day. The organist, Franz Gruber had set the words to music but the organ broke and it looked like it was all going to be a disaster. In an attempt to rectify the situation, Frank grabbed a guitar and accompanied the Vicar on the first ever rendition of Silent Night. When the organ repair... Read more →


Congratulations to Tony and Lisa Clark who were selected as the winners of the Australian Human Rights Commission - Community Organisation award at a ceremony in Sydney today. Tony, who founded Swags for Homeless in 2007, started the non-profit homeless charity in Melbourne when he questioned what was given to street sleeping homeless turned away from shelters. Tony and Lisa Clark designed the emergency relief Backpack Bed, which received the worlds largest and most prestigious product design award the Red Dot ‘Best of the Best’ in Germany this year. Backpack Beds are provided to homeless and are distributed through 139 charities around Australia. “As well as warmth and protection, the Backpack Bed provides the homeless with dignity,” said Mr Clark.... Read more →


Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up. As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and... Read more →


Derreck Kayongo, from Uganda, is one of this year's Top 10 CNN Heroes nominees. Click here to read his amazing story. Through simple presence of mind, Derreck had an idea to collect used hotel soap, that usually ends up as landfill, and recycle it for use in impoverished nations such as Haiti, Uganda, Kenya and Swaziland. Each year, more than 2 million children die from diarrhea. According to the World Health Organization, these deaths occur almost exclusively among toddlers living in low-income countries. The issue is not the availability of soap. The issue is cost. If you are living on $2 a day, paying 25 cents for soap is probably out of the question when there is food and medicine... Read more →


Apparently explorer Earnest Shackleton placed the following notice in a newspaper while preparing for an expedition to Antarctica: "Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success." Supposedly there were 5,000 men and 3 women who responded! Have we become too comfortable today? P.S. The search for a copy of the advert still continues today. Click here to read more. Read more →


Christopher Hitchens is one of the most outspoken atheists today and author of the best-selling book God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. Francis Collins is a world re-known scientist with a strong Christian faith, noted for his leadership of the Human Genome Project and his best-selling book The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Faith. The Telegraph, a newspaper based in Great Britain, reported on an unlikely bond of friendship and trust between these two very different people. Even so, a March 2011 newspaper headline announced, "Atheist Christopher Hitchens could be 'saved' by evangelical Christian." The article went on to report, "The two had often met in the past as adversaries in the debate about whether... Read more →