Hiding from God

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” [Gen 3:6-10]

Whatever made Adam think he could hide from God? Surely he knew God well enough to know that there is no hiding from Him. Continue reading

For God So Loved…

“How much does Nana love you?”, Mel will ask our grandchildren. “I love you thiiiiis much!” she says , stretching her arms out as wide as she can. The words are a delight to hear, and the grandchildren soon learn that a Nana’s love seemingly knows no bounds.

This week, we began to look at John 3:16, probably the most famous verse in the Bible. And it starts off, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…”

This verse is beloved of Christians the world over, for very good reason. It speaks to us of a love that also knows no bounds. And believers are the recipients of that love.

But what makes this love strange, difficult to comprehend, is that no one seems to deserve it. For the Bible tells us – and we all know from bitter personal experience – that we are far from lovely or lovable.

In fact, both the Bible and experience tells us that we are sinners who are unable to do good; unable to please God in anything we do.

Which makes God’s love even more strange, even more remarkable, even more… unexpected. Continue reading

Moses and the bronze serpent (John 3:14-15)

Isn’t it funny how you can read a passage of Scripture 5 times, 50 times, 500 times, and still not realise what it is talking about? That’s what Jesus rebuked Nicodemus about in John 3:10. And it is what I’ve experienced the many times I’ve read John chapter 3. It probably won’t be the last time either, so I can’t be too critical of Nicodemus.

Jesus had been explaining why Nicodemus – and all of us – need to be born again [see John 3:1-13]. And He was adamant that this new birth was entirely a work of God by the Holy Spirit, not something any of us are able to do for ourselves.

Then Jesus inserts these words that I’ve never before connected with the rest of the passage; “… as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life” [John 3:14-15].

As it turns out, they are critically important words for us to understand our part in the work of new birth, the work that is done entirely by God. Confused? Let’s see if we can shed some light on it. Continue reading

Ebenezer Moments

There is a line in a song we sing occasionally at church which goes, “Here I raise mine Ebenezer.” It’s part of a lovely old hymn called “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” written by Robert Robinson around 1757.

But it’s a lyric that probably means little to many modern Christians. The word Ebenezer only occurs three times in the Bible, all in the same story of a series of battles between the Israelites and the Philistines. And this story contains an important message for us today.

We had the privilege of having – at short notice – Tim Petersen with us yesterday. Tim planted and leads a church called Cityhill in Amanzimtoti, Sth Africa. He shared with us a message he entitled “Ebenezer Moments.”

The story – found in 1Sam 4:1-7:14 – begins with the slaughter of 4,000 Israelite soldier in battle. Intriguingly, the Israelites ask, “Why has the Lord defeated us today?” [1Sam 4:3].They conclude that the reason for their defeat was because the Ark of the Covenant [see footnote] was not with them.

So, with much rejoicing and excitement, they bring the Ark of the Covenant up with them to battle, striking fear into the hearts of the Philistines [see 1Sam 4:5-8].

This time though, they lose 30,000 soldiers, and the Ark of the Covenant is captured by the Philistines. What went wrong? Continue reading

Happy 5th Anniversary City Edge Church

Dear City Edge,

How time flys… On Sunday March 10, 2013 we celebrate our 5th anniversary.
We are going to have a short meeting beginning at 10:30am with some music and I will cap off the vision and values series I began two weeks ago. Then we will all head out to the front of the Lecture Theatre (weather permitting) to mark the milestone by releasing helium balloons into the ‘stratosphere’, similar to what we did in our first week back in ’08, but this time with a slight difference that we will find out on the day.Then we are going to have some time for fellowship around pancakes and coffee.
I will be sending letters to some people who began with us and were foundational to where we are today. Please feel free to invite your friends and family to mark this special occasion with us.
I personally have learnt so much over those years and count the many lifelong friendships that I’ve made with each of you to be my greatest joy.
Thank you and God’s richest blessings over each of you for our next 5yrs.
Kind regards,
Tony Hodge
City Edge Church
Melbourne, Australia

Apostolic Visit – Indonesia November 2012

Indonesia November 2012

During November 2012 a small team from City Edge Church joined Rudy Furlong’s team and travelled to various parts of North Sumatra, Indonesia as part of his ongoing Apostolic visits to this region.

The purpose of the visits are to preach the gospel, train leaders, and help to mature the local church. It is part of the ongoing outreach into Indonesia by Rudy’s local and international teams and has been taking place over the past 7 years with at least two visits per year in April and November.

I have attached my report back Indonesia Nov 2012 that details where we travelled and some of what was taught during this visit.

If you would like further information on future visits then the following Facebook links will be a good place to start and to keep informed.

Loving On Indo
Medan YouthLTT
God bless

2012 in review

For the City Edge Church website we have proudly been using WordPress since 2008 and below is an excerpt of the statistics and a link to the full report that they gather to show who visits our site, where in the world they come from and who have been the main referrers.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 6,100 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 10 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Mother’s Day 2012

Welcome to the second Sunday in May also known as Mother’s Day.

Some interesting information about Mother’s Day.

It was an American by the name of Anna Jarvis who is was credited with the birth of Mother’s Day as we know it today during the early part of the last century and even though there have been various celebrations of Mothers in ancient history Anna Jarvis began the modern tradition.

Her mother Ann Jarvis worked throughout West Virginia in the US to promote worker health and safety and during the American Civil War and she organized women to tend to the needs of the wounded of both sides of the war conflict. After the war she became active in the promotion of a “Mothers’ Work Day” that, unlike the modern version of the holiday, specially emphasized the causes of pacifism and social activism. She organized meetings of the mothers of soldiers of both sides of the late war

At Ann’s funeral in 1907 her daughter, Anna Jarvis, passed out 500 white carnations at her mother’s church one for each mother in the congregation. The following year, she held a memorial to her mother and then embarked upon a campaign to make Mother’s Day a recognized US holiday, a goal which was achieved when President Woodrow Wilson declared it in 1914.

By the 1920s, Anna Jarvis had become soured by the commercialization of the holiday. She incorporated herself as the Mother’s Day International Association, she trademarked the phrases “second Sunday in May” and “Mother’s Day”, and was once arrested for disturbing the peace. She and her sister Ellsinore spent their family inheritance campaigning against what the holiday had become. Both died in poverty. According to her New York Times obituary, Jarvis became embittered because too many people sent their mothers a printed greeting card. As she said,

A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world. And candy! You take a box to Mother—and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment.

Anna Marie Jarvis never married and had no children.

It’s interesting how traditions get started and eventually grow to proportions that the original could never really envision.

I know we can get all hung up about observing these traditions like Christmas etc, but they can be terrific times where people who may never be honoured in throughout the year can be.

This will not be a long message today as I want to spend some time in fellowship over some tea and scones that the setup team have prepared this morning in honor of our mothers.

I also want to have a time for an open mic where those who would like to affirm their mums can and even where some mums may want to tell us what they love about being a mum or to say a few words of praise over their own kids.

I personally think both Mothers and Fathers days are great ones to celebrate as they fall nicely into line with the biblical encouragement to honour our parents.

But one thing that I find interesting about mums is that they are often the ones that “typically” spend the most time with their children throughout their lives.

Even Jesus’s mum was not only their at his birth (couldn’t help but not be there I guess) but also at his death as well as being a regular throughout his life and ministry.

Isn’t fascinating that you hear very little about Joseph after their return from exile in Egypt to Nazareth when Jesus was a boy.

I love the way that Jesus honours his mother at his death.

John 19:23-27
23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom,
24 so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” So the soldiers did these things,
25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.
26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!”
27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

Ephesians 6:1-4
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise),
3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”
4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

There is something that we need to learn not only about honouring our own mums and dads but of also cultivating a culture of honour amongst ourselves.

It’s very easy to construct or formulate an opinion about someone and never have the grace to allow it to be deconstructed and reformulated. Let’s not be those people.

So in finishing off and continuing to develop a culture of honour amongst ourselves we are going to have a time of “open mic” for mums to be specifically honoured today.

May God bless all our mums today and always.

What are people looking for in us?

So what are people looking for in Christians and the Christian community?

1) People are looking for authenticity and not hypocrisy
2) People are looking to be loved for who they are and not what they can provide
3) People are looking for holiness and not a holier than thou attitude
4) People are looking to belong to a community who will embrace them and not a clique that will exclude them
5) People are looking for us to remember their name and find out about them and not to be treated as a number who just makes up the numbers
6) People are looking for their shepherd and their shepherd is looking for them