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

Why would you perish?

I must confess to being surprised recently to discover that Universalism is gaining in popularity. Even a good friend is leaning in that direction. For those who don’t know what Universalism is, it is the belief that everyone without exception will be saved.
There are a few variations of this belief. Some believe that everyone immediately goes to heaven. Others believe that some punishment will still be required for sin – a time spent in purgatory – but the guilty person will get to heaven eventually.
Regardless of the timeline, the common understanding is that all will get there one day, no matter what they’ve done in this life. (Does that include Adolf Hitler, and Joseph Kony, and serial killers, and paedophiles??)
Given that God is love, and God so loved the world [John 3:16], this would be a reasonable assumption, would it not? Continue reading

Just how powerful is God, really?

God is omnipotent; all-powerful, there is nothing He can’t do. The Bible is pretty clear on that.

After all, God created the heavens and the earth with just a word. “Let there be… and there was…” [see Gen 1]. And it didn’t deplete His reserves of energy in the slightest. Even though the creation account tells us that God rested on the 7th day, He didn’t rest because He was exhausted.

“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” the Lord says in Jer 32:27. He does whatever He pleases [Ps 115:3]. With Him, all things are possible [Matt 19:26]. He is the Almighty who reigns [Rev 19:6].

God is so powerful that He can even turn the heart of a king in any direction He wants to. Who can stand before the Lord?

So then, can God create a rock so heavy that even He can’t lift it? If we say no, He can’t, then there is something God can’t do, thus He must not be omnipotent.

It the answer is yes, He can, then if God can’t lift the rock, He is not omnipotent. Ha, gotcha! Answer that one, Christians!  Continue reading

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…

The measure of love is the value of the gift given. That seems so obvious as to go without saying. If someone loves another person, then no expense will be spared to give them what they desire.

Love that doesn’t give can hardly be called love. Love that takes rather than gives is not love at all, but self-interest, selfishness. Call it what you will; it’s certainly not love. The nature of love is to give.

If that is true, then, does it also mean that the rich man who buys his wife a $300,000 Mercedes love his wife more than the poor man who buys his wife a $3 block of chocolate? If that’s how love is measured, then the rich man must be more loving.

But is he really? Can we really measure love like that? Continue reading

For God So Loved The World…

“Gentle Jesus, meek and mild” opens a famous 18th century hymn written by Charles Wesley. It is a sentiment that permeates much of modern thinking about Jesus, and yes, even some Christian thinking. “Loving Jesus, gentle Lamb” he also wrote in the hymn.

It is the idea of a soft, almost cuddly, Jesus, who would never dare to upset anyone, to challenge anyone, or to disagree with anyone, lest they be hurt and offended.

Of course, He is a God of love, so He is always careful not to offend. Isn’t He??

Continue reading

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

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