Current Issues

Indigenous Awareness Trip (October 2013)

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... Read more →

Australians Together

Australians Together is taking a fresh approach to building relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Their web site has some inspiring stories and helpful articles. Check it out. This coming weekend at CityLife Church, I will be sharing some of our experiences on an indigenous awareness trip we did with some Australian pastors last year, sponsored by Concilia. We will also be running the entire course on Saturday, 18th October. The course promotes the value of listening to Indigenous people and learning about our shared story so that we can live in respectful peer relationship with each other. In these... Read more →

Don't Say 'Suicide'!

I am sure we all heard the tragic news of actor Robin Williams death this last week. It is so sad when a person gets to the place where they think that ending their life is a better option than living it. Depression is a real challenge in our world today and many people battle with it. It is estimated that one in six Australians face depression at some time in their life. As a result, suicide is now the biggest killer of young Australians and accounts for the deaths of more young people than car accidents. If you are... Read more →

What do Protestants think of Pope Francis?

A recent article from the Barna Group: March 18, 2014 — He was the most talked-about person of 2013 and winner of TIME’s “Person of the Year” award. Google Translate coders have set his name to translate as “a better world.” Yet Pope Francis insists that he is “a normal person,” and has no desire to be “a superman or a star.” Some religion columnists and commentators attribute the public’s esteem to his humble insistence that he is ordinary. In fact, humility may just be the pontiff’s paradoxical trademark. The Washington Postsummed it up in one headline: “Like Pope Francis?... Read more →

Typhoon Haiyan

Let’s be in prayer for people in the Philippines recently affected by Typhoon Haiyan. Thankfully, many groups, including World Vision, are at work in the area. Pray for safety, food and water for all families in the region, for the quick set up of evacuation centres and child friendly spaces, for those who have lost loved ones, for relief workers, and for those affected that they would find comfort in this time of tragedy and grief. Let’s declare that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). Read more →

A New Australian Prime Minister: Mr Tony Abbott

Congratulations to Mr Tony Abbott who was elected today as the next prime Minister of Australia. He succeeded Mr Kevin Rudd, who will not contest the leadership of the Labor Party. This election campaign has been somewhat of a circus, but in the end the Australian population voted, and the Coalition has taken government, with a strong swign in their favour. Results for the Senate are yet to be finalised. Regardless of how you voted and who you voted for, now is the time to get behind our new Prime Minister and his elected government, as we move forward as... Read more →

Religion and Politics is like Ice-Cream and Manure: They Don't Mix (Jarrod McKenna)

Here is a very thought-provoking article about tomorrow's election, by my good friend, Jarrod McKenna. "Mixing religion and politics is like mixing ice cream and manure. It doesn't do much to the manure but it sure does ruin the ice cream", my friend Tony Campolo likes to say. Yet this election, like many before, there is an unpleasantly nutty taste and many politicians have their finger on the blender. Don't get me wrong - as a Christian leader who has studied the Bible since I came to faith, it's clear that central to the Christian tradition is a story of... Read more →

Federal Election Reflections

On Saturday, September 7th, Australia goes to the polls to vote and to choose their Prime Minister and who will govern them for this next season. As with any election, this is an important time in the life of our nation. This coming weekend, our church will pray for the election in all of our gatherings. Our focus will be on four aspects: First, we need to acknowledge that God is in control. He is sovereign over all matters on earth. Ultimately, his purpose will be accomplished. He puts one leader up and takes another down. He can put it... Read more →

Some thoughts on the current Asylum Seeker Issue (by Tim Costello)

Australia's humanity is the casualty of repugnant asylum politics Article written by: Tim Costello chief executive of World Vision Australia. The Australian philosopher Peter Singer asks students to consider whether a person wearing new shoes and a suit has a responsibility to wade into a nearby pond, thus ruining their clothes, if they see a child in that pond having difficulty swimming. Predictably they respond that the person has a responsibility to save the child and that the cost of the shoes and suit are no reason not to act. In other words, you either think that people have inherent... Read more →

Tax Blues on the Increase in Australia

Is Australia becoming a nation of whiners? The third survey of opinions on tax - for 2012 by Per Capita shows more of us believe we pay too much tax in a system that is less fair. Per Capita says Australia has the fifth lowest tax burden of the 34 OECD countries, only higher than South Korea, Chile, the US and Mexico, and yet 50% of us believe we are 'over-taxed', up from 44% in 2010. And the proportion of people who think they pay too much tax increases as income increases. [Source: Money Magazine, May 2013 - Issue 156] Read more →

What Americans think of Islam

Barna Report: In the aftermath of the Boston marathon bombings, the attention of the media and the American public quickly turned toward the faith and political background of Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Reporters honed in on Tamerlan’s apparently deep Muslim faith, especially analyzing if that faith had become radicalized in the last few years. Fair or not, pundits, experts, and the American public wondered—did the faith of the two alleged bombers have anything to do with the atrocity that occurred? If so, what did that mean? It was yet another instance of American ideals and radical Islam clashing with one... Read more →

Finger-Pointing and the Impulse to Judge (by Greg Boyd)

A well-written article by Greg Boyd, worth re-posting: To no one’s surprise, yet to the sadness of many of us, several Christian spokespeople, including James Dobson, Mike Huckabee and Bryan Fischer, are blaming the shootings in Newtown, Conn, on abortion and gay marriage. This is sadly reminiscent of Jerry Falwell’s hurtful response to 9/11 when he divined that “the pagans,” “abortionists,” “feminists,” “gays,” “lesbians,” “ACLU” and “People For the American Way” were to be blamed. It’s reminiscent as well, on a smaller scale, of John Piper’s disturbing public declaration that the collapse of the 35W bridge here in Minneapolis that... Read more →

Heretic Hunting?

It always concerns me the amount of so-called ‘Christians’ who spend their time throwing mud at other Christian ministries, claiming that so-and-so is a false prophet or spreading heresy. Jesus does call us to discern ministries (by their fruit) but to go beyond this and place a judgment on a person is something we are strongly commanded to NOT do (see my previous BLOG post 'Discern, Don't Judge). To quote my previous post, Derek Prince recommends five key things that we should look for when discerning whether any church, ministry or so-called “move of God” is genuine or not (from... Read more →

2012 American Election Day Preview (Barna Group)

The following article is the from the Barna Group web site ... November 5, 2012 – Compared to the days leading up to 2008, when Barack Obama was a frontrunner and poised to make inroads among Christian voters, the 2012 presidential race remains without a clear leader. Yet most voters place a high urgency on tomorrow’s outcome: Two-thirds of all likely voters (67%) perceive the 2012 election to be one of the most important races in the past 50 years. From the early primaries through the debates, Barna Group has been tracking the public perceptions of the candidates and the... Read more →

The Tragedy of Halloween

[A guest post by Rev Canon J.John -] The bizarre preoccupation with Halloween shows no sign of abating. Indeed, the enthusiasm with which some shops are marketing this celebration of evil, death and the occult suggests that their owners are banking on huge sales of pumpkins, masks and witches’ hats.. Many concerns have been raised concerning Halloween over the years and the two most common are that Halloween encourages dabbling with the occult and that it celebrates evil. Both are true but let me add another: Halloween raises big questions but only gives lies as answers. This is serious... Read more →

Justice Trumps Spices (Pt.3)

Practicing Justice Let's take this first important matter that Jesus mentions: justice. How can we move from believing in justice to actually living it out in practice? It requires as to ACT and that involves three things: Awareness - Ignorance is not bliss. Sticking our head in the sand until the storm blows over is bot meant to be an option for us as Christ followers. Jesus has called us to be ‘salt’ and ‘light’ (Matt.5:12-13) which both involve a proactive positive influence on our world. We now live in a global village and we need to have our eyes... Read more →

Justice Trumps Spices (Pt.2)

Weightier Matters In the Pentateuch, there was as many as 613 different laws or commandments that God’s people were meant to keep - 248 affirmative commands and 365 negative commands. Debates and discussions often occurred as to which were the more important ones. One teacher of the law even asked Jesus this question: “What is the most important commandment?” Jesus selected two: “Love the Lord your God …” and “love your neighbour as yourself.” While not neglecting the others, Jesus made it clear that these are the two most important commands and that if a person does these two things,... Read more →

Justice Trumps Spices (Pt.1)

In Matthew 23, we have a record of Jesus’ strong condemnation of the religious leaders of his day, who had not led the people faithfully and who had become hypocritical and legalistic. Here is one of the seven “woe’s” he gave them: “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law — justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things (NLT).” To Tithe or Not... Read more →

Abolitionist Sunday

The International Day for the Abolition of Slavery will be recognised by many churches around the country by holding an Abolitionist Sunday on November 20th this year. Although the fight to end slavery is a year round activity, Abolitionist Sunday provides an annual focus for churches to unite in action against this injustice. Tim Costello from World Vision says, "Whilst legal slavery has been abolished, tragically there are far more slaves in the world today than when William Wilberforce was campaigning for the abolition of slavery in the first part of the 19th century. Today churches are challenged to work... Read more →

Australian 2011 Census

This coming Tuesday, August 9th, is national census day here in Australia for all residents. The census seeks to give a clear snapshot of our nation and is conducted every five years. Participation is mandatory for all households. The census can be completed via a paper form or on-line. For full details about the census click here. Religion is one of two non-compulsory questions.For those from Pentecostal church such as CityLife Church, we recommend that you choose "Other" under this question then write in "Pentecostal" so that the government gets an accurate idea of how many people attend churches like... Read more →