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February 2011
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April 2011


A few years ago, I was having lunch with a friend of mine. I asked him how he was doing and he said he was “great.” He then asked me how I was doing. I hesitated at first but then I answered honestly. I was doing it tough and so I told him about it. The depth of our conversation changed immediately. He thanked me for my openness. Sadly, near the end of our time together he admitted that he was going through some challenges too … but he never had the courage to tell anyone. Authenticity is very important.... Read more →


Imagine a group of people seated in a circle with a small table in the middle. Let’s now put an object on the table – a vase. Here are three very important observations: First of all, no one sees the vase exactly the same. In fact, everyone sees it differently and has a unique perspective – based on where they are sitting. Secondly, no one sees the vase accurately. There are parts of the vase that each person cannot see. Some portions are hidden and out of view. Finally, the only way to form an accurate picture of the vase... Read more →

The Call to Obey (Pt.3)

The Importance of Motivation In our relationship with Jesus, it is important to realize that he does not begin with the call to obey. He calls us to come, to follow, to believe, to abide and over time he calls us to also obey. The order is important. It is similar in any relationship. God delivered the nation of Israel out of Egypt to be his special people. Only later did he give them the Ten Commandments, as a sort of covenant with his people. In a similar way, when going out with someone, you don’t begin with the marriage... Read more →

The Call to Obey (Pt.2)

Jesus is both Saviour and Lord As we take the journey of following Jesus, along the way we start to see who Jesus really is. When Jesus was on earth, there were many opinions as to his identity. Some thought he was Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the prophets back from the dead (Matt.16:13-15). Peter received a revelation that Jesus was “the Christ (the Messiah), the Son of the living God (Matt.16:16-19).” The disciple’s belief in the divinity of Christ (the understanding that he was not only fully human but also fully God) emerged over a period of time, culminating... Read more →

The Call to Obey (Pt.1)

This year our focus at CityLife Church is simply on following Jesus. We have been reflecting on Jesus’ call to come to him (Matt.11:28-30), to follow him (Luke 5:27-32), to believe him (John 20:19-31) and to abide in him (John 15). As we respond to his call, we begin to know Jesus better and we begin to love him. After all, he laid down his life for us. Over time, we also begin to hear Jesus’ call to obey. The Call to Obedience As people began to follow Jesus, he taught them about what life in his kingdom should look... Read more →

Random Thought #7: Love over All!

7. Love over all! For all of the many things and activities we will be involved in this year, let’s remember that LOVE (for God and people) is to be primary! Remember the Ephesus story. This was a church that experienced an unprecedented revival (see Acts 19). It was a church 'on fire.' Yet as the decades went by, they left that first love. Here is Jesus' message to them through his servant John ... Rev. 2:1-7. Write this letter to the angel of the church in Ephesus. This is the message from the one who holds the seven stars... Read more →

Random Thought #6: Exiles over Kings

6. Exiles over Kings. A theological reflection ... We are now living and ministering in a different environment and we need to think differently in response to this change. Here are some thoughts from Walter Brueggemann's insightful book, Cadences of Home: Preaching Among Exiles where he encourages us to rethink various church models through Scripture: 1. The Israelite Monarchy (approximately 400 years long) – the center of the Old Testament is the Jerusalem establishment of monarchy and dynasty (from David in 1000 BC to 587 BC). Israel is both state and church and it is a model that dominates many... Read more →

Random Thought #5 - Stories over Numbers

5. Stories over Numbers Like most churches, we have a lot of important numbers that we count and look at (attendance, salvations, baptisms, partners, volunteers, leaders and giving). However, we must continually remind ourselves that it’s all about the PEOPLE! The Bible is a story about God and people and their journey together. It contains numbers (un-apologetically) but the focus is the people. One day Jesus fed 5,000 people (someone counted!) BUT the focus of the story is on the little boy who offered up his lunch, the training of the 12 disciples in growing their faith, and the miraculous... Read more →

Random Thought #4 - Practices over Beliefs

4. Practices over Beliefs We BELIEVE at lot of good things! Most churches have an orthodox "Statement of Faith" and many have articulated an admirable list of "Core Values." However, we must go beyond this. Beliefs are very important but we must move to ensuring that practices flow out of those beliefs. We must bridge the gap between preferred values and actual values. The Great Commission was not about knowledge but rather about action. We were told by Jesus to, “... teach them to DO … everything I have commanded you (Matt.28:18-20).” Notice Jesus did not say "... to know"... Read more →

Random Thought #3 - Being over Doing

3. Being over Doing Yes, we will be DOING a lot this year! However, who we ARE speaks louder than what we SAY or what we DO. It affects HOW we go about what we do on a daily basis. Qualities such as gratitude, joyfulness, enthusiasm, and willingness are vital. The psalmist says, "Serve the Lord with gladness (Ps.100:1)!" Your greatest impact will be from who you are – your EXAMPLE (2 Tim 3:16). That’s why God is more interested in WHO you are becoming than WHAT you are doing for Him. In his excellent book The Making of Leader,... Read more →

Random Thought #2 - Relationship over Task

2. Relationship over Task All of us will have a LOT of tasks and projects to DO this year. I love tasks. I even have a task list when I am on holidays. I love ticking off checkboxes next to completed tasks. I thrive on achievement. But I also realise that DOING must flow out of BEING. We all know the story of Martha and Mary (Luke 10:38-42) and the constant tension between ministry for God and relationship with God. It is not an either/or proposition but an establishment of what is primary. Spirituality is the key to intimacy and... Read more →

Random Thoughts #1 - Presence over Programs

At our first church staff meeting in early February this year, I shared 7 Random Thoughts relevant to our ministry this year. I think that we are in a significant season of change. Transition and shifts are taking place at every level of our world, our church and our personal lives. There is a growing degree of uncertainty emerging and we have to be change-ready. Here is my first thought ... 1. Presence over Programs There is nothing wrong with programs, ministries, meetings and activities (every church will have lots of them this year) ... BUT they only serve as... Read more →

The Dignity of Work

"Most of what Jesus said and did took place in a secular workplace in a farmer's field, in a fishing boat, at a wedding feast, in a cemetery, at a public well asking a woman he didn't know for a drink of water, on a country hillside that he turned into a huge picnic, in a court room, having supper in homes with acquaintances or friends. In our Gospels, Jesus occasionally shows up in synagogue or temple, but for the most part he spends his time in the workplace. Twenty-seven times in John's Gospel Jesus is identified as a worker:... Read more →

International Women's Day

Today is the centenary of International Women's Day - a day of global celebration for women each year on March 8th. Read more about it here. Women are a wonderful part of God's creation - something he called "very good." Some people say that man was created first, so males are superior. Other's say that after creating man, God thought he could do better than that, so created the woman. The truth is that both men and women are created in the image of God and together reflect that image on earth. We were created to be partners - in... Read more →

Dealing with DOUBT (Pt.2)

Jesus’ instruction to Thomas was "Stop doubting and believe." Jesus calls us to develop a permanent attitude of openness and trust toward Him – not just to be open to him and trust him on any one occasion, but to be like this ALL the time. Yes, at times the Christian life is a lot like walking in the dark. The dawn is now nearer than when we first began to walk, but it is yet to happen. We cannot fully see the road ahead of us; we can’t see the full picture; nevertheless we trust in the Lord to... Read more →

Dealing with DOUBT (Pt.1)

Have you ever had doubts? Here's a thoughtful quote ... “I think the trouble with me is lack of faith. I have no rational ground for going back on the arguments that convinced me of God’s existence: but the irrational deadweight of my old skeptical habits, and the spirit of this age, and the cares of the day, steal away all my lively feeling of the truth, and often when I pray I wonder if I am not posting letters to a non-existent address. Mind you I don’t think so – the whole of my reasonable mind is convinced: but... Read more →

WAKING UP: a Helpful Metaphor for Understanding Christian Conversion

What happens when you wake up in the morning? For some people, it's a rude and shocking experience. Off goes the alarm and they jump up in fright, dragged out of sleep to face the cold, cruel light of day. For others, it is a quiet, slow process. They can be half asleep and half awake, and not even sure which is which, until gradually, eventually, without any shock or resentment, they are happy to know that another day has begun. Most of us know something of both, and a lot in between. Waking up offers one of the most... Read more →