Relationships

The Christian God exists eternally in a Trinity of loving relationships – Father, Son, and Spirit. God created us as the object of his love and invites us to participate in a community of loving friendships. As we fully understand how much God loves us, we are able to love others from a strong foundation of acceptance, significance, security, and purpose. A Community Characterised by Forgiveness Because of sin, loving others is not always easy. In fact, sometimes it is awkward. This is especially so when people act in ways that offend or cause hurt to us. Situations such as these provide an opportunity for us to obey God’s command for us to forgive others. When teaching his disciples to... Read more →


The foundation of our love for others is a revelation of God’s love for us. The most important question in your life is not how much you love others or even how much you love God. It is how much do you think God loves you. Everything flows from this. Once we grasp and fully understand how much God loves us and allow that love to transform our lives, we are in a much better place to reach out in love to those around about us. In contrast, when we are unaware of God’s love for us, we can tend to relate to others from a point of need, seeking to get them to fill the emptiness in our own... Read more →


Relationships in Turmoil Despite the fact that there are many good things happening in our world today, it doesn’t take a lot of insight to realize that we are a time of turmoil – especially in our relationships. At our very core, human beings are relational creatures. We have this tendency to ‘herd’ - to want to be together with other people. Deep inside, we have longings for belonging, for acceptance, for love, for intimacy and for meaning – all of which are found in a relationship with others. Yet despite our obvious need and our best efforts, there is evidence of fractured, broken and dysfunctional relationships everywhere: between and within nations, in the marketplace, in families, and even in... Read more →


The fairly new church in the bustling seaport city of Corinth back in AD 65 was booming. It was a dynamic charismatic and Pentecostal community attracting pagans and religious people alike. The meetings were pumping - inspiring worship times, sensational preaching, insightful teaching, as well as regular healings and miracles. It was the place to encounter God. The Holy Spirit was at work in powerful ways. But something was wrong. In the midst of all the growth and hype about this church, a kind of spiritual cancer had subtly set in. Yes, it was good at pretty much everything ... except LOVE. The apostle Paul, who founded this church, was annoyed, and rightly so. After all, LOVE was to be... 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 →


Hopefully, you’ve had a chance to read through the Song of Songs - an extraordinary love poem. How can we apply the insights from this love poem to our own lives today? What efforts are you making to keep the romance of your love relationship alive? What things can you do to cultivate a greater desire for the one who you love? In what ways can you further affirm the value and dignity of the opposite sex/gender? Wisdom calls us to loving and exclusive commitment, not to a rampant promiscuity which turns sex into a mere commodity. Read Proverbs 5:15-19 and reflect on the impact of more readily available pornography on genuine love. In the beginning, men and women were... Read more →


Everyone likes love songs. They fill the radio waves throughout the day. I can still remember enjoying the crooning voice of Lionel Richie singing "Hello, is it me you're looking for?" in my late teens. There is something deeply profound about the desire and yearning of one person for another. We call it love. The Bible contains many diverse types of literature, including poems, prophecies, narratives and of course, songs. The book of Psalms is literally a psalter, or collection of songs, expressing the full range of emotions of the human heart. But then we have that small little book at the end of the Wisdom Literature section called Song of Songs. That title means it is being declared as... Read more →


One day Jesus was having dinner at the home of one of the top Pharisees (the religious leaders of his day). As always, there was some lively and interesting conversation around the dinner table. Near the end of this meal, this happened ... Luke 14:12-14. Jesus turned to the host. "The next time you put on a dinner, don't just invite your friends and family and rich neighbors, the kind of people who will return the favor. Invite some people who never get invited out, the misfits from the wrong side of the tracks. You'll be — and experience — a blessing. They won't be able to return the favor, but the favor will be returned — oh, how it... Read more →


A Church United

John 17 is the longest recorded prayer of Jesus and it reveals what was important to him. After praying for himself (vs.1-5) and his disciples (vs.6-19), he prayed for all who would believe in him – for the church yet to born (vs.20-26). Nearest to Jesus’ heart was his concern for the unity of his followers. So how are we doing at being “united”, as Jesus prayed? The Centre for the Study of Global Christianity estimates that there were 34,000 denominations in the year 2000 rising to 43,000 in 2012. These are all “Christian” denominations, not those of other faiths or beliefs systems. All declare Jesus as Lord yet each has a distinct approach to areas such as leadership, structure,... Read more →


Someone once said that “encouragement is like oxygen to the soul”. Each one of us thrives in an environment of affirmation and encouragement. No one likes to be in an atmosphere where we are being torn down or ridiculed. So think about what you are doing to those around about you. Are you encouraging them? Are you lifting them up with your words? Occasionally, I’ll sit at a funeral and listen to the eulogy or the tributes that are given and often think, “I wonder if that person knew those things when they were alive?” Don’t wait until someone dies to tell them what you appreciate about them. Take the time now to express your love and your affirmation for... Read more →


Well known psychologist, Daniel Goleman has done a lot research on the components of success, especially in the work place. His conclusion is that Technical Skill and Intellectual Intelligence (or IQ) are very important, but that the quality of Emotional Intelligence (or EQ), is the most essential. In fact, it’s twice as important as the other two attributes. ‘Emotional intelligence’ is: knowing how to relate well to a wide variety of people. How do we do that? Well, Jesus gives us some great advice in Matthew 7:12 when he says, “Do for others what you would like them to do for you.” Some people call this the “Golden Rule”. Jesus is basically saying to think about how you like to... Read more →


Life can be very rewarding and fulfilling. It can also be very difficult at times. Two of the hardest things to do are handling criticism and confronting people, not that we should love confronting people (!) but learning how to do so in a loving manner. The apostle Paul once wrote in Ephesians 4:15 that one of the marks of a mature church is the ability to “speak the truth in love”. Some people speak the truth but not always in a loving manner. Others are so loving that they never speak the truth. Finding the balance of doing both well is essential. Being Lovingly Assertive We all need to be lovingly assertive, when appropriate. Assertiveness is all about being... Read more →


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 →


The Denial (Mark 14:27-31, 66-72) The theme of abandonment overshadows many of the Stories Around the Cross. Jesus was abandoned by betrayal (Judas), by indifference (the disciples sleeping three times in Gethsemane), and by denial and desertion (Peter and the Twelve). When Jesus needed them the most, his friends left him alone. They all participated in the supper (Mark 14:23), they all confessed their allegiance (Mark 14:31), and yet they all deserted Jesus (Mark 14:50). Peter is as impetuous as ever – opening his mouth first and thinking afterwards. But he is hard to condemn and impossible to dislike. He has demonstrated nothing but reckless courage to this point - drawing his sword in the garden prepared to take on... Read more →


The apostle Paul worked hard to relate to a wide variety of people. Have a read of this from his letter to the church at Corinth in the first century: 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose–living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized––whoever. I didn't take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ––but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I've become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet... Read more →


The apostle Paul spoke a lot about a 'clear conscience' back in the first century. Here are two examples: "Friends, I've lived with a clear conscience before God all my life, up to this very moment." Acts 23:1. MB "I always try to maintain a clear conscience before God and all people." Acts 24:16. NLT "The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith." 1 Timothy 1:5. NLT "Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked." 1 Timothy 1:19. NLT A deep awareness of... Read more →


Ten tips for supporting someone who is grieving: • Offer practical support such as meals, shopping, gardening, errands, lifts, etc. especially in the early days. • Accept that everyone grieves differently. Grief is a normal and natural response to loss but everyone grieves differently. • Don't judge. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Especially don't say "you should..." or "you shouldn't..." • Accept a wide variety of emotions such as sadness, anger, confusion, fear, guilt, relief, etc. Such varied emotions are a natural response to the death of a loved one. • Listen well. Bereaved people often need to talk about their grief and sometimes it's okay to just sit in silence. • Use the name of... 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 →


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 →


Christmas is a joyful time for most people. But for some it can be a difficult time, especially for those who have lost a loved one. Christmas reminds them of what or who is gone. The pain of that grief can be quite unbearable. I had my first major encounter with grief when I lost my mother suddenly back in 1990. I had to navigate through all the ordinary stages of grief and it wasn't easy. The first Christmas after this was a painful time. Mum wasn't there any more and she wasn't coming back. Let's be sensitive this year to those around us who may be in pain or grief. They may not be experiencing the joy and sense... 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 →


Almost a year ago, Matthew Warren, the son of well-known American pastors Rick and Kay Warren commited suicide. It was a sad day for everyone and of course, the Warrens being public figures, everyone had an opinion about the situation. Today, Kay Warren made the following post on her Facebook page and I think it is well worth reading, hearing and taking to heart. Wise words ... From Kay Warren As the one-year anniversary of Matthew's death approaches, I have been shocked by some subtle and not-so-subtle comments indicating that perhaps I should be ready to "move on." The soft, compassionate cocoon that has enveloped us for the last 11 1/2 months had lulled me into believing others would be... Read more →


A little wisdom goes a long way. When you give you will always get it back. A father left 17 camels as an asset for his three sons. When the father passed away, his sons opened up the will. The Will of the father stated that the eldest son should get half of 17 camels while the middle son should be given 1/3rd (one-third). The youngest son should be given 1/9th (one-ninth) of the 17 camels. As it is not possible to divide 17 into half or 17 by 3 or 17 by 9, three sons started to fight with each other. So, the three sons decided to go to a wise man. The wise man listened patiently about the... Read more →


We live in an age where attention deficit affects all of us. We are bombarded with information and messages, each trying to gain our interest. In the process, we tend to skim from item to item, from matter to matter, from person to person ... never really slowing down enough to go deep ... to really listen and connect. I visited a cafe recently where there was a sign that said: "No, we do not have wi-fi. Why not just sit and talk with your friends!" Watch this video. How did it affect you? I was personally challenged. Which scene did you identify with the most? Which was the most moving? For me it was the one with the girl... 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 →