Special Events

The signs of Easter are all around us - cooler weather, school holidays, an upcoming long weekend, hot cross buns and extra church services to cater to people's faith which comes in all shapes and sizes. For many people, it is also a time to reflect on some important events that took place over 2,000 years ago - the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. No doubt, this is the foundation of the Christian faith. If Christ did not die and rise again, then our faith is useless (1 Corinthians 15:13-14). The Gospels all tell us WHAT happened during this Passion Week. Tragically, Jesus was betrayed, denied, falsely accused and eventually killed by the cruel death of crucifixion at... Read more →

Well, Christmas 2016 is done and dusted. Now it’s time to prepare to enter a new year. During transitional seasons such as this, it’s always good to stop and do three things: Reflect, Review and Re-calibrate. Firstly, reflect on the year that is about to finish. What happened? What went as expected? What surprises came your way? What are you thankful for? What pain did you experience? What will you be glad to put behind you? Secondly, review. What did you learn? We sometimes believe that we learn from experience but this is not necessarily true. It is easy to repeat the same patterns year after year. It is only when we reflect on and review our experiences that we... Read more →

Merry Christmas! Last weekend, I participated in my final Christmas Carols production at the church where I have served for over 30 years. It was a fun time together - singing carols, listening to our amazing singers, musicians and creative teams inspire us, watching the bright-eyed children, and sharing about Jesus as THE gift we all need at Christmas. I do pray that you have an enjoyable Christmas and holiday season. It's been a joy to share with you via this BLOG through the year and I look forward to what is yet to come as we continue on this journey called life. P.S. Over the years, I've written a variety of posts about Christmas. Here are a few for... Read more →

It's hard to believe we are just 10 sleeps away from Christmas! I really enjoy the Christmas season. It's a time to enjoy family and friends, way too much delicious food, some time off and a reminder of God's greatest gift to our world - Jesus Christ. Of course, most followers of Jesus know that Jesus probably wasn't born on 25th December. No shepherd worth their salt would have their sheep out in the fields in the northern hemisphere at that time of year! And we know that Christmas has a lot of trappings that had nothing to do with Jesus' arrival over 2,000 years ago. In reality, the early Christians borrowed a pagan festival from the Roman Empire and... Read more →

At a Special General Meeting on 6th October, the CityLife members confirmed by an overwhelming majority the unanimous nomination by the Board of Elders of Andrew Hill as the next Senior Minister of CityLife Church (read my initial announcement about leadership transition back in February 2016, in case you missed that). I congratulate Andrew on this appointment and look forward to working with him over the next few months to ensure a smooth transition for him and the church. Good days are ahead. February 2017 will be a big month for our church as we celebrate our 50th anniversary (11-12th Feb), have my farewell (18-19th Feb), and have Andrew's official induction as the new Senior Minister (25-26th Feb). What's next... Read more →

As Jesus was dying on the cross, he was not completely alone. There were a small group of people who loved him dearly, right there until his last breath (John 19:25-27). They demonstrated great courage just to even be there. One of them was Mary - Jesus’ mother. I am sure Mary did not always understand her Son, Jesus (what he was up to and why he did what he did) but she always loved him. Her presence there was the most natural thing in the world for a mother. Jesus might be a criminal in the eyes of the Roman government, but he was her son. Imagine the anguish of watching your own son die. The undying love of... 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 →

Can you believe it – it’s Easter Sunday! I know - it seems like we just finished celebrating Christmas. I heard one little boy once say, “Jesus was just born, are you telling me he’s died already?” In many ways Easter is the second half of God’s Christmas gift. Jesus came into the world as a baby who grew up to show us how to live. We learn so much from his teachings and we are inspired by the amazing things he did. But the pinnacle of his life was his death and resurrection on that first Easter over 2,000 years ago. On the cross, Jesus took all of our sin, sickness, pain and suffering. Most importantly, death didn't hold... Read more →

Today is Good Friday, a day where people all around the world remember and reflect on the death of Jesus Christ that took place over 2,000 years ago. Jesus’ death wasn’t an accident nor was he a martyr. His death was an atoning death by which he started to put the world back together again. On the cross, Jesus took all of our sin, sickness, pain and suffering. He died in our place … so that we may truly live. The good news is that God is not a distant God. Good Friday shows us a God who suffers with and for us. Whatever you may be going through today or whatever challenges you may be facing, know that God... Read more →

This weekend, I made the following announcement to my church family - CityLife Church. Obviously, it was a surprise to many, while not to others. There is a degree of sadness with any change like this but I am also encouraged by the amount of support I have received. [Watch on You Tube] I have given the matter of our church’s future, as well my own future, much prayer and reflection over the last eight months. As a result, I believe that it is time to start thinking about a successor – who will be the next Senior Minister of CityLife Church. I have been on church staff for 31 years now, 21 years as the Senior Minister, and I... Read more →

God is a God of new things. He has made us new creations, given us new hearts, a new spirit, a new covenant. We live in a new day; we have a new name; we have a new commandment; we’ve been given new garments; His mercies are new every morning; we drink of the new wine; we’re headed for a new Jerusalem and eventu­ally a new heavens and earth. In the end, God makes all things new! Embracing the new things God has for us implies leaving the old behind. It requires change and transition. God wants freshness in our lives not stagnation, staleness or sameness. God sent the manna to Israel fresh daily. It could not be kept for... Read more →

In a few days time, we'll be into a New Year - 2016. The year 2015 will be history - water under the bridge. At transition times like this between years, it's beneficial to pause, take some time aside and think about your life. Someone once said, "The unexamined life is not worth living" and Moses prayed to God , "Teach us to number our days that we may present to you a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12)." Over the years, I have written a variety of BLOG posts designed to assist you in this process. Check out a few of these links below. I'm sure you'll find some helpful insights or questions for your own life. Here's to an... Read more →

Can you believe it's almost Christmas! Usually around this time of the year, you'll hear some questions or comments from some well-meaning Christians such as: "Jesus was not born in December." "The Bible never tells us to celebrate the birth of Jesus." "The Christmas tree is a pagan tradition." True, the early Christians did not celebrate the birth of Jesus and Jesus never asked them to. They focused on his death and resurrection, as well as his promised return. Christmas Day as it is celebrated today did not begin until the fourth century. Interestingly enough, Jesus was most likely born in October not December. Shepherds don't have their sheep out in the December snow in the northern hemisphere! Many of... Read more →

Christmas is right around the corner and many people are starting to think about what gifts to buy for family and friends. The truth is that as you get older you start to realise that you don't really need more 'stuff'! In fact, more 'things' don't bring more happiness. Some of the best gifts in life are FREE. Here are a few of those you might consider giving this Christmas: 1. Gratitude. Why not give the gift of appreciation? Just say 'thank you' to someone in your world. The story is told in the Gospels about Jesus healing 10 lepers but only one taking the time to come back to Jesus and express his gratitude. I am sure the other... Read more →

It’s Christmas time again. I wonder what you enjoy most about this season? Maybe it’s the Christmas carols, the holidays, or the shopping. I know for the kids, it’s the presents. That’s what I looked forward to when I was young - maybe a new Mechano set or an extension to my Motorific slot car course. Today kids are into Star Wars paraphernalia, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the most covered gift of the season - the hoverboard. Pretty cool … and pretty pricey. You know, God took time to think about the kind of gift we needed. As Max Lucado once said, “If our greatest need had been technology, he would have sent us a scientist. If our greatest... Read more →

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day. Every year, on 11 November at 11 am – the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month – Australia pauses to remember those men and women who have died or suffered in all wars, conflicts and peace operations since the beginning of the 20th century. All Australians are encouraged to pause all activities and meetings this morning at 11 am for a minute of silence in respect of those who have given their lives for our nation and our freedoms. For more details, visit the Australian War Memorial web site or The Department of Veteran Affairs. Here is a brief history from the Australian Government website: History of Remembrance Day At 5am on... Read more →

NAIDOC Week is a celebration of the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It’s one of the most important events in the Indigenous calendar, and you might be surprised to hear that it all began with a letter to the churches of Australia. The letter was sent by William Cooper, a legendary Aboriginal Christian leader and rights activist. In it he asked the church to observe what he was calling ‘Aboriginal Sunday’ - an annual day of prayerful awareness of Aboriginal people and their God-given place and future in this land. From 1940 to 1954, ‘Aboriginal Sunday’ was observed by churches throughout Australia. It was initially held on the Sunday before Australia Day and was... Read more →

The asylum seeker issue continues to hit the news here in Australia and beyond. On June 29 at 7:30 there is a free debate in the city of Melbourne. Business Faith Law and Morality: The Asylum Seeker Debate. What is Your opinion? The asylum seeker issue needs resolving. We encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to listen to expert opinion and have your considerations and suggestions discussed. What is the role of Faith and a United Faith Community in the Asylum Seeker debate? Are Asylum Seekers an Economic opportunity or threat? Does Business have a role to play in the Asylum Seeker debate? Do we have a Moral obligation to assist Asylum Seekers? Is Australia’s policy to discourage... Read more →

To all the mums out there, Happy Mother's Day! We wouldn't be here without you. What amazing people you are. My mother passed away over 25 years ago now and I still miss her. Nicole's mother, affectionately known as 'Oma' passed away 7 years ago and we still really miss her. Mothers are very special people! The photo to above is an old one of my dad and mum (in the red top), and Nicole's dad and mum (light blue top)] Here are the lyrics to a song I heard many years ago called Love Them While You Can by Chris Christian (available from the iTunes store). [Vs.1] They tied our shoes, took us to school, patched our worn-out jeans... Read more →

The ANZACs have a great hero called John 'Jack' Simpson Kirkpatrick who enlisted and was chosen as a field ambulance stretcher-bearer in Perth on 23 August 1914. On 25 April 1915, long with the rest of the Australian and New Zealand contingent he landed at the wrong beach on a piece of wild, impossible and savage terrain now known as ANZAC Cove. Attack and counter attack began. During the morning hours of 26 April, along with his fellows, Jack was carrying casualties back to the beach over his shoulder. It was then that he saw the donkey, and having worked as a donkey-lad as a young boy, he knew exactly what to do. From then on he became part of... Read more →

Tomorrow, in Australia and New Zealand, we commemorate the centenary of ANZAC Day. 'ANZAC' stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. On the 25th of April 1915, Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the Allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula. The ANZACs landed on Gallipoli and met fierce resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders. Their plan to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915, the allied forces were evacuated. Both sides suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. Over 8,000 Australian soldiers and over 3,000 New Zealand soldiers were killed. What is often forgotten is that over... Read more →

Matthew tells us the story like this: Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb. Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint. Then the angel spoke to the women. Dont be afraid! he said. I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isnt here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come,... Read more →

A few weeks ago, on January 15th, Americans celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Day in commemoration of his birthday. Dr. King was the chief spokesman for non-violent activism in the civil rights movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law. The campaign for a federal holiday in King's honour began soon after his assassination in 1968. President Ronald Regan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed three years later. At first, some American states resisted observing the holiday as such, giving it alternative names or combining it with other holidays. It was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000. Keep any eye out for the highly... 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 →

Today is Christmas and people all around the world will be giving and receiving gifts of all kinds. Jesus offers us a gift today - something incredibly valuable that he alone can give. John 14:27. I am leaving you with a gift — peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. NLT I pray that you will experience that deep and genuine peace in your heart and life today, no matter what circumstance you might find yourself in. Read more →

It is important in every aspect of life to understand what is essential/central and what is peripheral/unessential. Only by knowing what is essential can you truly make sense of life and live it to the full. As we begin a New Year, we step into the future. As we do so, we want to ask an ancient and foundational question: "What is most important?" As Christians following Jesus, we need to get back to the essence of our faith. In doing so, we can surround these essential parts of our faith with all other aspects of life. While we are making New Year’s resolutions we want to make an internal revolution. We make resolutions according to what we value and... 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 →

Luke was a doctor who lived in the first century. Like most doctors, Luke valued facts and obtaining accurate information. That's why he spent so much time interviewing people and talking to eye-witnesses when he prepared to write his Gospel record of the life of Jesus Christ. Let's read some of the Christmas story as he recalls it for us ... That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.... 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 →

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 →