The Bride of Christ

Have you ever noticed that the Bible is book-ended by marriage? Gen 2 tells us about the first marriage in history, between Adam and Eve; “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” [Gen 2:24].

Rev 21 tells us about a bride adorned for her husband; “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb. And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God” [Rev 21:9-10, see also 21:1-2].

And in between, we see all manner of marriages; good ones and bad ones, and even surprising ones, like Hosea’s marriage to the prostitute Gomer [see Hos 1-3].

Marriage is a major theme of the Bible, but it is my guess that few people understand why marriage is so important. Continue reading

Don’t be a baby!

It’s a beautiful thing to watch your children grow up – and for Mel and I, to watch our grandchildren grow up. They learn so much, especially in the first 4 or 5 years of life.

They learn to recognise and respond to mum and dad; to crawl, then walk; to talk; to feed themselves, dress themselves, to read and write.

It seems only yesterday that we were caring for our infant children, and now they are all raising beautiful children of their own. We are justifiably proud of them.

How quickly it flashes past; how quickly they grow. One of the grandchildren has reached the stage where he doesn’t want to sleep in the cot anymore. He wants to sleep in ‘the big boy bed.’ And he no longer likes the highchair at mealtimes. He reckons he is grown up enough now for the ‘big boy chair.’

It seems he is in a rush to grow up. Pity so few of us adults feel the same way.

Continue reading

The more you know, the less you know?

Have you ever noticed that the more you learn, the more you realise how little you know? I find these thoughts, which may appear contradictory on the surface, fascinating and honest.

A great example, in the Christian life, is the growing awareness of the depths of our sin as we travel further down to path of sanctification. As we grow in holiness, by the working of the Holy Spirit within us, we see ever more clearly how unlike God we are in that respect. Continue reading

Praying like Paul

How shallow my prayers can often be. “I pray God’s richest blessings on you; I pray for traveling mercies.” What do those word even mean?

Do they mean anything at all? Or are they only Christianised ‘white noise’? Just filler and fluff, about as meaningful and helpful as ‘sending happy thoughts your way’?

I’m challenged and convicted when I read Ephesians 3 because my prayers are frequently little more than that sort of fluff.

Not so when the apostle Paul prayed.

Continue reading

The Pharmacy of Heaven

In the brilliant 2007 movie ‘I Am Legend,’ Will Smith plays a Virologist in New York City trying to save mankind. A virus developed to cure cancer has instead wiped out 99% of the world’s population.

He alone is immune; the only other inhabitants have been turned into terrifying rage-filled nocturnal mutants. The movie is edge-of-your-seat thrilling and frightening in equal measures. I highly recommend it!

We all – each and every one of us – suffer from a disease. This disease will also kill all of humanity. There are no exceptions; this disease is cruel. Even Will Smith’s character won’t be able to find a cure.

Humans have been trying to find a cure since the beginning of time. All have failed. All will fail.

What is this disease that is killing us without mercy? Continue reading

Sand or Solid Rock?

The city of Melbourne is famous for its Yarra River – ‘the river that runs upside-down.’ The Yarra is, for the most part, a pretty safe and healthy river. It just happens to carry a lot of silt, which gives it the appearance of being muddy. All that silt gets deposited at the mouth of the river, as it has done from time immemorial.

I remember years ago the authorities began to develop the Docklands area of Melbourne near the mouth of the Yarra for commercial and residential use.

The story goes that they drove huge piles into the ground to support the weight of the planned buildings. Piles are piers designed to go below loose soil onto something solid and immovable, thus enabling the structure above to stand strong.

Apparently, they drove 14m (45′) long piles into the silt, which promptly disappeared. They drove another on top, which also disappeared. I don’t recall how many had to be piled on top of the previous one before they found solid ground, but it was plenty.

The point is that silt can’t carry heavy loads. Unless they could get the load transferred to something solid below the silt, the structure above would collapse in short time.

Not unlike our Christian faith… Continue reading

The first Twitterstorm

When was the first Twitterstorm? Anyone care to venture a guess? No cheating though, no using Google to search. A chocolate bar for the first correct entry (special conditions apply).

For those unfamiliar with the term, a Twitterstorm is “a sudden flurry of activity about a specific topic on Twitter.” Presumably, there are terms to describe similar trends on Facebook, Instagram and other social media.

A recent example of a social media storm is the online outrage that arose after Australian rugby player Israel Folau paraphrased 1Cor 6:9 on Instagram. He posted it as a warning that “Drunks, Homosexuals, Adulterers, Liars, Fornicators, Thieves, Atheists, Idolators” will face punishment in Hell if they don’t repent and turn to Jesus.

The fury from some quarters was predictable. Strangely though, I don’t recall that drunks, adulterers, liars and thieves were quite as outraged. They certainly didn’t storm social media in rage. Continue reading

The joy of family

Well, that’s another Christmas done, and another year behind us. Many of us are on holidays, and many away travelling. It’s a great time to reflect – if you’re not holidaying too hard!

As we mentioned in last week’s Sunday Reflection, City Edge Church had the privilege of joining brothers- and sisters-in-Christ from Bread of Life Church for a combined service.

I had the pleasure of visiting a small church plant down near Geelong on the same day for their Christmas Carols service. I must say, it was refreshing to be able to join in without needing to think about or prepare for the next part of the service.

But what was even more refreshing was to spend time with other believers – all of whom were strangers to me at the time – and connect immediately and deeply with them. Continue reading

What if Jesus never came?

This week, City Edge Church had the privilege of joining with Bethel Bread of Life Chinese Church for a combined service. It was a great Sunday of worshiping together in both English and Chinese. What a privilege to be united together worshiping Jesus with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

We should not belittle this. Where in the world can we find people of different nationalities, languages, cultures, backgrounds, experiences put aside their differences, and come together for a common purpose – that of exalting our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ? Continue reading

For King and Kingdom

As we approach another Christmas, we are reminded of the prophecy in Isaiah 9;

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this” [Isa 9:6-7].

We had the pleasure of Paul and Monika Zanardo’s company yesterday, and Paul shared with us from this – and many other – Scriptures about the kingdom of God.

The first thing Paul pointed out is that “of the increase of his government … there will be no end.”

We sometimes look at our society becoming increasingly hostile and intolerant towards Christians and despair for ourselves and for Christianity. We hear of the slaughter of Christians overseas, and watch the march of Islam, the New Age, and Secularism and wonder how the gospel can survive in the face of such opposition. Continue reading