Reflection on Genesis 3:1-7




The serpent said, “Did God really say…”


The serpent says to Eve, “Did God really say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?’” Eve replies that they were allowed to eat from any tree except the one in the middle of the garden.

The serpent then entices Eve with the prospect of knowledge of good and evil, and that this is something that God is trying to keep from them.

So Eve takes the fruit and eats it, and then offers some to her husband. Then their eyes are opened, and they know that they are naked.


At the heart of every temptation that comes to the follower of Jesus is the question, “Did God really say…?”

When we are torn between what our fallen nature wants to do and what God wants us to do, then satan comes along wit the deadly question, “Did God really say?”

Sadly, there are too many christians who do not know what God has said in His word, and so they can’t accurately or confidently answer this simple question.

There are people who know the word of God intellectually but do not carry it in their hearts. These people perform the most amazing mental gymnastics to justify their own sins. When the devil says “Did God really say that homosexuality is an abomination?” they will twist the words, redefine terms and deny the plain meaning of the text to say “No, God didn’t really say that?”

We need to know the word of God. We need to understand the will of God for our lives.

In Ephesians 6, the word of God is described as the sword of the Holy Spirit, If we know the scriptures, we can quickly cut satan down with this powerful weapon.


Help me, Lord, to know, understand and take into my heart your wonderful word. When I am tempted with the question, “Did God really say?”, may I always have the grace to say, “This is what God has said!” Amen.

Reflection on Matthew 17:1-9




After six days, Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.


Jesus takes Peter, James and John up a high mountain by themselves. There His appearance is changed so that His clothes and face shine like the sun. Then Moses and Elijah also appear with Him.

Peter babbles on about building shelters, but he is interrupted by a voice from the cloud which says, “This is my Son whom I love; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to him.”

The disciples are terrified, but Jesus tells them not to be afraid.


Jesus led a small group up a mountain for a revelation of His true nature.

Our culture, including our church culture, is obsessed with big events. Bigger, it seems, is always better.

But here we have a small group of believers, Peter, James and John, on a small group retreat (a leadership retreat, perhaps) whose sole purpose is to receive a revelation of Jesus.

He leads. They follow. He reveals.

This is a model for discipleship everywhere:

  • Jesus leads us step by step

  • We follow the best way we know

  • He gives a new revelation of His nature and His purpose for us.

  • The cycle is repeated.

This cycle of discipleship applies also to cell groups. This passage shows that revelation comes most clearly in the presence of a small group of people who are determined to follow Jesus together.

We don’t know much about the journey up or back down the mountain. There would have been talking, banter, fellowship and teaching. They were on a journey together, and in the middle of the journey there is given a new insight into Jesus.

We need one another. The church is meant to be a community of people who encourage and build one another up along the way. That community building happens most effectively in small groups.

Big meetings are great for their own purpose, but we also need small groups of believers seeking God together.


Lord Jesus Christ, I thank you that in our walk with you there is always more to discover. Thank you for the people you have put in my life who help me to learn more of you and to see more of who you are. Amen.


Greens Logic


A report by the National Electricity Operator (AEMO) found that NSW suffered a big shortfall in electricity production last week due to problems with some of the traditional generators. A couple of smaller generators were off-line due to mechanical or gas supply issues.

So this morning’s ABC Radio News featured the obvious response from the Greens: “Fossil fuel generators are not reliable and need to be replaced with renewable energy sources.”

So Greens logic is that you can depend on wind and solar which only operate when the weather is right, but not on coal or gas generators which run night and day regardless of the weather. Yes traditional generators do break down and do need to be taken down for maintenance some times. But so do wind generators and solar systems.

Brilliant logic from the Greens, as usual.


Melania Trump and The Lord’s Prayer

From Charisma News:

Why Melania Trump Leading the Public in the Lord’s Prayer at a Rally in Florida Was a Historic Event

U.S. first lady Melania Trump steps from the stage after speaking at U.S. President Donald Trump's 'Make America Great Again' rally at Orlando Melbourne International Airport
U.S. first lady Melania Trump steps from the stage after speaking at U.S. President Donald Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ rally at Orlando Melbourne International Airport. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

We just witnessed Melania Trump’s finest moment as first lady so far.

After a week in which her husband declared war on the mainstream media, Melania absolutely electrified a huge crowd at a rally in Melbourne, Florida by reciting the Lord’s Prayer. What Donald Trump had to share afterwards was remarkable as well, but that night will always be remembered for what Melania did.

After beginning with the phrase “let us pray,” Melania stunned the entire world by slowly but carefully leading the crowd in the Lord’s Prayer, and it is being reported that the assembled throng responded to her prayer with “thunderous applause.”

She did not pronounce all of the words perfectly, but that didn’t matter.

What matters is that her courage enabled her to create the most powerful moment that we have seen from a First Lady in decades. The following is from a transcript of her remarks:

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed is your name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespasses [sic] against us.

‘Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

If you have not seen footage of this incredible moment yet, you can watch it right here.

One of the primary reasons this moment evoked so much emotion is because the Lord’s Prayer is undeniably a Christian prayer.

Over the decades, our politicians have become very adept at speaking of “god” in a very generic sense. Even when they pray, most of our politicians are careful to use universal language that could apply to almost any religion.

That is why what Melania Trump did was so radical. By reciting the Lord’s Prayer, she was clearly identifying herself as a Christian, and there was absolutely no question about whom she was addressing.



Read the full article here

My Story


Last night at the Christian Life and Witness Course, which we are running as preparation for Come Together next month, it was suggested that we write down the story of our faith journey. “You can blog it,”  the presenter, Rodney Trinidad said amongst other options.

Unexpectedly finding myself with a spare half hour, I thought that might be a good idea. I have talked about my conversion experience on many occasions, but it has been a long time since I wrote it down.

The story starts with my birth in 1958, in Wolverhampton, England, to a working class couple. My school years were at a Catholic school, and Mum used to take my brother and me to Mass most Sundays.

I guess that time of my childhood would be like that of most children in England at the time. My parents rented an ordinary Council house and made sure we had enough to eat and were dressed warmly.

In the late 1960’s the UK began a long process of transition from the unionised industrial era to a much more modern economy, and as companies were trying to become more competitive there were increasing strikes in all parts of the country. As a result Mum and Dad saw some brochures about how wonderful life in Australia was- backed up by letters from my Aunt who had moved to Sydney years before.

So it was that in February 1969, the Bates family became 10 pound poms and moved to Sydney.

As I grew through my teen years, I became a bit of an atheist. I loved to bait the christians in my year. But I was also very depressed.

In May 1976, during the first year of my degree in Chemical Engineering, I was staying at my friend’s place. His family had gone on holidays, and the plan was that after we had finished our end of term exams we would join them.

As I was lying in bed one night just before going to sleep, I had a vision as clear as if it were real life. In this vision I saw myself climbing a mountain. It was so steep that I was literally dragging myself up the side of the mountain. As I climbed I could see that there was an intense light shining from behind the mountain, but I couldn’t see the source. As I climbed the light got brighter.

Finally, I reached the top and saw that the source of the light was Jesus. As I saw Him I felt love, joy and peace such as I had never experienced before.

So what do you do with an experience like that? God literally dropped on a self-proclaimed atheist and said “Here I am.”

I said to the God who only minutes before I would have said I didn’t believe in, “I will go to church next Sunday and if it’s good I will follow you.”

The following Sunday, I didn’t go to church because I was away with my friend’s family. But the Sunday after, I went to the night service at Wesley Methodist Church Castle Hill. The service, although it was a traditional 4 hymn service, was so full of the presence of God.

Since that time, I have obviously grown in my knowledge of who God is. There have been times when  life has been very challenging. There have even been times when the old depression has threatened to come back and overwhelm me.

But God has given me such purpose in my life, and that initial feeling of love, joy and peace has always remained with me.

Walking with Jesus is just the best life there is.

Reflection on Matthew 5:38-48




You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evil-doer”


Jesus takes the principles of the Law and extend their application to lengths that seem (and actually are) impossible to fulfil.

An eye for an eye becomes do not resist an evil-doer.

If someone sues you, give them more than is their due.

Love you neighbour becomes love your enemy because to be like the Father we have to love those who hate us.

The people of this world can be kind to people they like. It takes the grace of God to love our enemies.


How do I live my daily life in the context of the radical love of God?

Revenge, even in the limited version allowed in the Jewish Law seems appropriate to most people. The Law of Moses allowed that a person who was injured by another person could take a legally sanctioned retribution in which the perpetrator was injured to the same extent as the victim. So then you have two maimed people, and the injuries of the victim are still there.

Jesus says, “Do not resist an evil-doer.” How does this apply when your house is invaded by people who want to harm you and your family?

Many Americans, and I suppose many people from most cultures, whether christians or not, subscribe to the philosophy of “Do unto others before they do unto you.” In other words a loaded gun beside the bed is your best protection.

How does that tie in with “Do not resist evil doers”?

Jesus tells us not to meet violence with violence, but with a defiant form of non-violence. “Turn the other cheek.”

Most of us do not often face extreme violence such as robbery or assault. Our situation is more likely a daily slap in the face- contemptuous put-downs, mischievous harassment. In those situations, Jesus tells us to show kindness to those who show us hatred, to love those who do us wrong. Rather than retaliation we choose a higher path of peace and love.

When our physical safety is threatened the odds are higher. But the principle is the same- remove the threat without harming the person. I can’t imagine what it is like to be a christian in ISIS controlled territory, or to go through a violent home invasion. In those situations we need the grace of Jesus to follow Him even in great suffering or at the point of death.


Lord Jesus, you sometimes challenge our thinking on what is right and good. The standard “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” is too high for us. Help me to surrender myself to your grace in every situation. Amen.

Reflection on 1 Corinthians 3:16-23




Do you not know that you are God’s temple, and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?


Together we are God’s temple. The Holy Spirit dwells n us. If anyone tries to destroy His Temple, God will destroy them.

Those who think they are wise in the world’s ways should become fools because God’s standard of wisdom is different to the world’s. We must not boast about our human leaders because we belong to Christ.


We are God’s temple. Together the church “contains” or become a place of habitation for the Holy Spirit.

We read this verse and think it means “I am a temple of God.” But Paul says “You (plural) are the temple of God.” He does not say “You are temples of God.”

It is when we worship and work together in the unity of the Spirit that God is manifest amongst us.

This is not to deny that each individual christian has the Holy Spirit. Three is a special anointing that comes when the people of God come together and worship with one heart and one mind.


Holy Spirit come and fill me. Empower me to worship you in unity with my brothers and sisters so that we truly become the temple of God. Amen.

Sunday’s Sermon


The sermon for February 12th is now available on the New Life web-site.

In this sermon, which is based on 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, I talk about Preaching With Power.

The first 5 minutes is missing from the recording, but the rest is pretty good.

Click here to listen on your browser, here to download the mp3

Book Review: “The Day The Revolution Began” by N.T. Wright


One of the big problems with contemporary evangelical theology, according to N.T. Wright, is that we often have part of the answer but it leads to the wrong conclusions. For example, the theology of the cross comes down to “Jesus died so you could be forgiven and go to heaven.”. As Wright points out that is not what the New Testament teaches, or at least it is not all that the New Testament teaches.

So Wright goes back to Adam and Eve, right through the Old Testament and comes to the conclusion that the main sin that people have to face is idolatry. The people of God were constantly faced with the challenge of staying faithful to the one true God, Yahweh or worshipping the false gods of the nations around.

The problem with idolatry is that it undermines our calling or vocation as human beings. We were created in God’s image so how can we worship another image without damaging ourselves? For Israel, God’s covenant people, to worship other gods meant separation from God and the Land He had given them to live out their calling.

When Jesus comes on the scene, Israel has spent much of its existence either in exile or in subjection to other nations. The prophets knew that the solution they needed was national as well as individual salvation.

The cross then is not about a human sacrifice to appease an angry deity, which is what many christians think of. It is more like the one true representative of humanity (“the Son of Man” as Jesus frequently called Himself) dying for the world. He speaks of the sins of the nation, especially its idolatries, being heaped up and falling on Jesus.

A revolution of love, self-denying and sacrificial love, brings a new rule in the world- the Kingdom of God. This Kingdom, launched by Jesus’ death on the cross, sets us free to see and experience the true God and to follow in His ways.

The death of Jesus on the Cross at 6 pm on Good Friday is the start of the revolution. His resurrection before dawn on Sunday is the first sign that God’s kingdom of life, love and forgiveness is here.

Wright says that the gospel is bigger than “we get to go to heaven” (which is a pagan Platonist ideal). The true gospel message is that the Kingdom is here and God is overturning everything that is based on human idolatry, including relationships, politics, oppression and self-worship. Yes we get to live for ever in the new heavens and the new earth, but the Kingdom is more than that.

It’s hard to justice to a book of this size and scope in a few hundred words, but it is well worth reading. Wright covers deep topics in a way that many people find is easy to read. I think most people would want to read a few pages and mull it over for a few days.

I’ve always felt that the typical atonement theory whereby Jesus takes the punishment for our sins and as a result we go to heaven has a few gaps in it. This book goes a long way to filling the gaps.