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December 2012
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February 2013

The 10 Commandments From a Dog's Point of View

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... Read more →

The Spiritual Discipline of Fasting

At CityLife Church, we are about to commence a two-week season of prayer and fasting. Jesus fasted for 40 days at the beginning of his ministry, releasing great power into his ministry (Matthew 4:1-2), and he assumed that his disciples would fast also (Matthew 6:16-18). Fasting can be a powerful personal discipline to train our will, to help develop self-control, and to tune our spiritual sensitivity towards God. In fasting we choose to intentionally go without something for a period of time (usually something pleasurable but not necessarily sinful). It could be food (in a variety of forms) or some... Read more →

Reflections on Psalm 10

A few verses from Psalm 10, an ancient song with contemporary relevance ... Vs.1. O Lord, why do you stand so far away? Why do you hide when I am in trouble? Vs.2. The wicked arrogantly hunt down the poor. Let them be caught in the evil they plan for others. Vs.3. For they brag about their evil desires; they praise the greedy and curse the Lord ... Vs.17. Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless; surely you will hear their cries and comfort them. Vs.18. You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed, so mere people... Read more →

Reflections on Psalm 9

The Psalms are a collection of ancient songs, reflecting Israel's experience with God. In Psalm 9, David opens his song like this (vs.1-2): I will praise the Lord with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing prises to your name, O Most High. Note the order here: 1. Thankfulness. David took time to think of all the good things God had done. This cultivated a grateful attitude and outlook on life. He was focusing his mind on the positive, not everything... Read more →

Reflections on Proverbs 2

A few reflections from Proverbs 2: 1. Wisdom will save you from the immoral person. The path of lust leads to death and to hell. If you take that route you are doomed and will never reach the path of life. Think about it. 2. Instead of following evil and immoral people, follow the steps of good people and stay on the path of the righteous. Ultimately, only the upright will live in the land and people of integrity will be blessed. Wicked people will be removed from the land and destroyed. 3. Who are the ‘good people’ that you... Read more →

Reflection on Proverbs 1

A few reflections on Proverbs 1 1. Two things that we need are ‘wisdom’ and ‘discipline’. ‘Wisdom’ is living from God’s perspective on life and ‘discipline’ is having the character to consistently do what you know is right. 2. We must have a hunger for wisdom and pursue it. Fearing God is the first step in the quest for a meaningful existence. 3. Acquiring wisdom is not a hard thing to do. 4. Who you hang around with has a huge influence on who you become. Choose your friends wisely. 5. Good things tend to flow from wise behaviour (but... Read more →

Your Life is an Adventure

I think it is quite significant that two big-time movies helped to kick off 2013: Les Miserables (based on the classic novel by Victor Hugo), which is about living life as forgiven people who forgive others, letting go of revenge and embracing redemption, and The Hobbit (based on the book by J.R.R. Tolkein), which is about the call to an adventure ... slaying dragons in this world. Life really is to be an adventure (just ask Bilbo Baggins) ... a journey that involves faith and risk. God calls us out of it comfort zones into a new world, walking with... Read more →

An Invitation from Jesus (Reflections on Matthew 11:28-30)

In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus is quoted as saying, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light." The Message Bible puts it this way: "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest.... Read more →

The Changing Shape of Temptation (Barna Report)

It’s that time again — the beginning of a new year when people resolve to make some changes in their lives. New Year’s resolutions are certainly nothing new. In fact, for many people, they are the same year after year. Making and breaking resolutions is something of a tradition. A new study from the Barna Group examines the temptations Americans say they most commonly struggle with — and how they resolve to deal with these moral and ethical lures. The research reveals some new, and not so new, aspects to the temptations facing today’s adults. The research was conducted in... Read more →

Leadership Lessons from the Bonsai (Guest Post)

I really enjoyed the insights from this BLOG post on leadership by David M.Dye ... A mature bonsai tree commands attention. With just one tree a master evokes an entire landscape and tells a story of power, perseverance, struggle, or abundance. As I’ve studied bonsai, I realized that the art of growing these trees has much to say to aspiring leaders. To accomplish this elegant combination of grace and strength, great bonsai practitioners must be both gifted horticulturists and artists. In the same way, leading people entails both vision and cultivation. Here then, are 12 most inspiriting bonsai leadership lessons:... Read more →

Stages of Life (Late Adulthood)

The pool of those living beyond 100 – the centenarians of society - is increasing in leaps and bounds (70,000 in USA in 2007 increasing to 834,000 in 2050; over 4,252 in Australia as of June, 2011, up from 203 just 40 years ago). Demographers are now starting to the number of ‘super-centenarians’ – people over the age of 110 (300-450 currently)! So life can be prolonged, but eventually we will all die … unless Jesus returns in our lifetime. Eventually the life clock must run down and the human body must die. People at this stage of life need... Read more →

You're Blessed!

The Gospel of Matthew records five main teaching discourses from Jesus. Matthew 5-7 is Jesus' call to righteousness, which is about doing the will of God. Jesus is teaching his disciples and the multitudes from the mountain. Jesus begins with what is commonly called The Beatitudes which are the blessings of God (Matt.5:1-12). The Latin word for "blessed" isbeati. I love Eugene Peterson's take on this: You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to... Read more →

Stages of Life (Mature Adulthood)

In medieval times the Catholic worldview of the human life span was often depicted as a circle. In the centre was the image of Christ. Around this divine hub, were illustrations of the different ages of life from infancy to the grave. Each age, like a spoke, was equidistant from the hub. This suggested that every point in human life existed in the same sacred relationship to the divine. During the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, this symbolism underwent a profound and lasting change. Instead of a circle, the image of an ascending and descending staircase became prevalent. The... Read more →

Stages of Life (Midlife)

Like the sun sweeping through the sky, midlife (ages 35-50) is like noon-time, dividing the first and second halves of life. At the stroke of noon, the descent begins. Note that what we consider midlife, was for most of history in fact the end of life for most people. As recently as 1900, the life span of the average adult in the Western world was only 47. We have been blessed to have extra decades added to the average life span in our time. Midlife is a season that can be like moving through muddy waters. Some people experience what... Read more →

Stages of Life (Early Adulthood)

Early Adulthood (20-35 years of age) is a time of leaving the familiar world of family, parents, community, school and entering the big unknown world. It is a break with the past and a move into future. Of course, the very term "adult" is very hard to define. When do you become an adult? When you can drive, vote, drink or when you are married? It is a fuzzy line and for many the transition is a slow process. Some young adults are staying home longer. After all, why leave when there is free rent, cooking, TV and washing? Young... Read more →

Stages of Life (Adolescence)

Adolescence (13-19 years of age) refers to the teenage years - the hazardous passage from childhood to adulthood. One way to describe this journey is like ‘rapids’ along a river. Things may get rough for a while but if you hang on and don't panic, everything will eventually smooth out again. Physically, this is a time of huge change. Puberty brings pimples, sweat, hair in unusual places, new odors, and crazy hormones. Emotions include quickly shifting moods, trying to find an identity, and strong passionate feelings. Mentally, it's a time of growth, taking in the abstract, logic, and an ability... Read more →

Stages of Life (Childhood)

As we begin the new year, it is a good thing to "number our days" (Psalm 90:12) - to reflect on and give consideration to our life. Life is short and wise people live from God's perspective, understanding that what we do in time echoes into eternity. Students of human development would be aware of the concept of seeing life as a journey through successive stages of life, depending on our age (see The Human Odyssesy: Navigating the Twleve Stages of Life as an example). Let’s briefly overview a few of them. The first stage of life is Childhood. Childhood... Read more →

Bible Reading Tools

Reading your Bible each day is a terrific way to experience God as well as to learn his ways and wisdom for life. This year our church is reading through the New Testament and the books of Psalms and Proverbs. As we read the written word (the Greek word logos), we position ourselves for the Holy Spirit to give us a quickened word (the Greek word rhema) specific to our situation. As we read, some days may seem more relevant and powerful than others, but like any meal, God's Word does us good, whether we are aware of it or... Read more →

Happy New Year - 2013

Happy New Year! Aren't you glad that life isn't just one long unchanging time-period. God has divided time into days so that every 24 hours we have a fresh start. Then there is the new week, the new month and the new year. Each new year is a new beginning, the start of a new season. I pray that it is an enjoyable and fruitful one for you. I'd like to share two of my favourite promises with you: One is from Jeremiah 29:11 and it says, "I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to... Read more →