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September 2007
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November 2007

The Art of Reading

The God we serve is a relational God. He communicates with us. He speaks and he listens. He has also created us as relational beings, created to communicate. Through communication we can know God and know each other, as well as the world around us. The Bible is God's primary source of communication to us - a book. Through it inspired words He has revealed himself to us and his plan for our lives. We read to know him as a person, as well as for wisdom, comfort and inspiration. The Bible is relevant for our lives and is our... Read more →


Just Do It!

Some thought-provoking quotes ... "If you love me, you will obey what I command." [Jesus - John 14:15. NIV] "Knowledge doesn't change the world; action does." [John Maxwell] "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Those who listen to the word but do not do what it says are like people who look at their faces in a mirror and, after looking at themselves, go away and immediately forget what they look like. But those who look intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continue in it - not forgetting... Read more →


The BBQ Rules

Some gender-related humour ... for your enjoyment ... We are about to enter the summer and BBQ season. Therefore it is important to refresh your memory on the etiquette of this sublime outdoor cooking activity, as it's the only type of cooking a 'real' man will do, probably because there is an element of danger involved. When a man volunteers to do the BBQ the following chain of events are put into motion: (1) The woman buys the food. (2) The woman makes the salad, prepares the vegetables, and makes dessert. (3) The woman prepares the meat for cooking, places... Read more →


Preaching Thoughts from Rob Bell

Last year I took a course on 'Preaching' with Haddon Robinson and Rob Bell, as part of my Doctor of Ministry program with Fuller Theological Seminary. I thoroughly enjoyed it and learned so much. There is an entire field of study in preaching and communication and although I’ve spoken thousands of times, I've only given it occasional thought and attention. Yes, I've taken a class or two on preaching, read some books on the topic, and listened to a lot of preachers, but there is so much more to learn about communicating to our contemporary audience from the timeless Word... Read more →


Maturity

“Maturity does not come with age but with the acceptance of responsibility.” [Edwin Louis Cole] When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I grew up, I put childish ways behind me." [The Apostle Paul - 1 Cor.13:11. NLT] Read more →


Sacred Sex

We are currently doing a series of messages at CityLife Church on Sacred Sex. No, 'sacred sex' is not an oxymoron. The word 'sacred' means holy, special, set apart unto God. We must avoid a dualistic philosophy that separates life into two spheres: the sacred and the secular, the holy and unholy, the pure and the profane. ALL of life is meant to be sacred, including our sexuality. Sexuality is such an important part of our personal lives and because we now live in such a highly sexualised culture it is vital that we catch God's perspective on it. I... Read more →


Christians and Alcohol

"Should Christians drink alcohol?" This question has caused a fair bit of heated discussion over the centuries. Obviously, alcohol abuse does a lot of damage in our society and drunkenness needs to be avoided by any Christ-follower. But should a Christian totally abstain from all alcoholic beverages or is it okay to drink in moderation? For many years our church required all leaders to abstain from alcohol, for a variety of reasons. Back in 2004, we reviewed this policy, in light of the biblical teaching on this issue, as well as our contemporary context. As a result, we made a... Read more →


What’s a Senior Minister to do?

Church work is never done. There's so much to do with seemingly not enough time to fit everything in. The urgent constantly seeks to crowd out the important. We often question whether all our efforts are truly effective. So, what's a Senior Minister or Pastor to do? The leaders of the early church faced the same challenge: "In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, "It... Read more →


Prophetic Bloopers

At our church we believe in the ministry of prophecy. God still speaks today, not at the authoritative level of Scripture, but to bring strength, comfort and challenge to people's lives (see 1 Cor.14:3). Recently, we had a time of prophetic ministry over 250 of our church leaders and we've received many excellent reports about the positive impact that this had. We encourage each person to listen to the audio CD of the prophecies with someone, so that each prophetic word can be judged appropriately. The apostle Paul tells us not to treat prophecies lightly, but to test them –... Read more →


My Encounter with Grief

Seventeen years ago tomorrow (October 20th, 1990), I had my first real encounter with intense grief. Yes, I had seen other people grieve. Yes, I had played the piano and sung at funerals ... but nothing this close to home ... It was the day my mother passed away - Joyce Conner. My parents had flown to the USA and my dad had left my mother in the LA airport where she was waiting to catch a flight up to Portland, Oregon to spend time with my sister, Sharon. My dad flew on to Chicago for some meetings. While alone... Read more →


Angels Watching Over Me

While on safari in Tanzania, Africa, recently, we stayed at a place where you weren't allowed to walk outside your room at night. If you wanted to go to the dining room or reception area (both separate buildings) you had to call the office and they would send one of their staff to escort you – a Masai warrior with a big spear! Why? Because there were often wild animals walking through the camp grounds at night – zebras, buffalo and an occasional lion. Needless to say, we kept close to our Masai warrior. I'm glad that in real life... Read more →


Who will you vote for Prime Minister – John Howard or Kevin Rudd?

The Australian Federal Election date has finally been set for Saturday, November 24th, 2007. Who will you vote for Prime Minister of Australia – John Howard or Kevin Rudd? I have a personal conviction that it is not my role to tell people how I think they should vote. Neither does our church take a stand with one particular political party or individual politician. However, we do encourage people to do all that they can to make an informed vote, for the common good of our nation. I have had the privilege of meeting and speaking briefly with both Mr... Read more →


Reflections on the War in Iraq

The war in Iraq continues to be a topic of fairly heated political discussion across the globe. I personally believe that US President, George Bush, would have been better to wait until a United Nations joint decision before choosing to invade Iraq. The 'weapons of mass destruction' that were the cause of the invasion soon turned into the 'weapons of mass disappearance'. Saddam Hussein is gone but the war continues to drag on and on, at the cost of many lives. Rebuilding the nation has become an almost impossible task, much like the complex situation that developed with the Vietnam... Read more →


Anyone for Golf?

Did you hear about the two guys who went golfing ... the one guy hit the ball right down the middle of the fairway about 150 metres. He was so excited ... he had never been down the middle of the fairway in his life. He was so excited ... he got down to where his ball was and ... not only was it 150 metres down the fairway, it had rolled up on top of an ant hill. So it was teed up about 2 inches for him. So he grabs his wood, he is so excited. He's never... Read more →


Multiply Your Ministry Impact

Everyone wants to have a fruitful life and ministry. But that's only half of our mandate. God wants us to be "fruitful AND multiply" (Gen.1:28). He desires us to reproduce ourselves in others "after our kind". Great leaders are able to train others to join them in ministry and thereby multiply their ministry impact. God is calling church leaders to make a leadership shift where they see themselves as equippers, not only ministers. Each leader needs to take on the role of a coach, who empowers others to reach their ministry potential. This is leadership the way God designed it.... Read more →


Successful Christian Ministry

I have grown up around church leaders and ministers. I'm a PK, a 'preacher's kid', or a TO, as my dad used to call me, a theological offspring'. I have also been involved in a variety of church ministries both as a volunteer and as a staff member for over twenty-five years now (I started very young!). I led the worship ministry of our church for five years as a volunteer (age 20-25), while working full time at National Mutual insurance company in the city of Melbourne. Then in 1985, I came on full time staff at our church, where... Read more →


The Difference between a Chorus and a Hymn

An old farmer went to the city one weekend and attended the big city church. He came home and his wife asked him how it was. "Well," said the farmer, "It was good. They did something different, however. They sang praise choruses instead of hymns." "Praise choruses", said his wife, "What are those?" "Oh, they're OK. They are sort of like hymns, only different," said the farmer. "Well, what's the difference?" asked his wife. The farmer said, "Well, it's like this - If I were to say to you, "Martha the cows are in the corn" - well that would... Read more →


Schooling Choices

Well, the 2008 school year is not far away. It doesn't seem that long ago when Nicole and I were talking about schooling options for our toddlers. At that time we managed to get a hold of a book called Schooling Choices edited by Dr. Wayne House which outlined various arguments for (1) home schooling, (2) Christian schooling, and (3) government schooling - from three different authors, who then interacted with each other's viewpoint. We found the dialogue very interesting and informative. Our children are now 18, 16 and 14 years of age. We ended up doing a little home... Read more →


A Balanced Perspective of Church

So you're a pastor. What are you supposed to do with this thing called "church"? Is it a family to simply enjoy and have fun with? Is it an army to try to take the world with? Or is it a business? Gaining a proper perspective on church can be quite a challenge but it is essential. Read the following Scripture slowly … "But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs" (Phil 2:25). Paul describes... Read more →


Don’t Quit!

Being a leader or ministry volunteer can be very rewarding and fulfilling. It can also be a source of frustration and extra stress. In other words, ministry can be very draining – spiritually, emotionally and physically. What are some of your frustrations? Come on, I give you permission to have an official approved "whinge session" - just for a few minutes! Make your own list. Okay, so there's occasional poor attendance at meetings, difficult people, time pressures, periods of no numerical growth, financial pressures, criticism, low commitment and conflict, just to name a few. These things all add up and... Read more →