I want to share my recent experiences with you in this blog. I am neither a doctor, medical practitioner, dietician or nutritionist. I am writing about my experience and what I learned from it. This is my journey, and I hope it encourages you and helps you on yours.


I know I’m not alone in this, but at the start of the first lockdown in 2020, I started eating quite unhealthily. While I still went for a brisk walk each day, I enjoyed way too much chocolate and other snacks most evenings, which went on for the two years of lockdowns. The result? I found myself the heaviest I’ve ever been and tipped the scales at 96 kg.

I’m tall and could carry the extra weight without anyone noticing, but I noticed. My shirts and trousers seemed to shrink every time they were washed, and some no longer fit. I needed to choose: either I bought new clothes or lost weight. I decided on the latter.

A Shock

The decision to cut the COVID kilos was spurred on by a visit to my doctor for a regular check-up, including blood tests. The results alarmed me because they came back indicating that I was pre-diabetic and needed to go on medication to correct it. I asked my GP if there was anything else I should do. He poked me in the belly and said, “Losing some of this would be a good start.” I’ve known him for a few decades, so his response did not surprise me.

It was the incentive I needed, along with the increasingly tight clothing, to do something to correct the two years of less-than-healthy eating and subsequent weight gain.

My Response

From that day, I started eating healthily and exercising. My exercise schedule included (and still includes) three gym sessions per week, Pilates once a week, and brisk walking every day. That, combined with eating high-fibre fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and good fats, led to a steady decline in my weight over the next year or two. I’ve avoided starches and processed “foods” as well as sugar, chocolate, and high-carb, sugary drinks.

I am very focused when I set my mind to something, a quality that has served me well throughout my life. So, I maintained my healthy discipline throughout 2022 and 23. The result was a total weight loss of 17 kilos. I still had to buy some new clothes, but now it was because my old ones were too loose!

I returned to my doctor for blood tests. The results showed that I was no longer pre-diabetic, and I came off the medication. I am NOT suggesting that weight loss can prevent or heal all medical conditions, but it has worked for me.

God’s Help

I don’t want to underestimate the encouragement I received from God and the scriptures in my weight loss journey. Losing weight is hard, and keeping it off is equally as tricky. But God is always present to help us. And that’s a key: constantly relying on the strength of the Holy Spirit.

The fruit of the Spirit includes forbearance and self-control. Forbearance means patience and restraint, and self-control is self-evident. We need these qualities with whatever we set our minds to achieve. So many other scriptures are helpful, and I’ve included a list at the end of this blog.

What Else?

If you want to lose a few kilos, there are a few other things that I’d encourage you to consider. Firstly, talk to your doctor and ask for their guidance. You may be on medication that makes weight loss difficult or have conditions that need to be monitored. Ask their advice about foods to avoid and discover what works for you.

Secondly, be realistic about your body type and work with what you’ve got. The media constantly bombards us with “beautiful” bodies. Social media is the worst. I especially feel for young people who are confronted with unachievable body images, often from photoshopped pictures. A few people are genetically blessed, but most don’t fall into that category. You can’t change your genetics, but you can make the best of what you have.

Lifestyle Choice

Achieving a healthy weight is a lifestyle choice. Understand that certain foods are not appropriate for you and find alternatives. Be aware of instant gratification. Ask yourself, is the short-term enjoyment of this (fill in the blank) more significant than the long-term enjoyment of the benefits of sustaining a healthy weight—of feeling better about myself, being healthier, and being more comfortable in my clothes?

Healthy eating and exercise are lifestyle choices that help you avoid fad diets and the trap of losing weight only to gain it again. They also allow you to embrace a health-giving future. People live longer than ever, but our extra time sometimes reduces our quality of life. Rather than lifespan, we should make healthspan our focus. Why would we want to live longer if the last decade or two of our lives were spent in doctors’ surgeries and specialists’ waiting rooms?


The weight loss journey is long. Patience is critical, especially when your weight plateaus, which can last weeks or months. Stay cheerful, optimistic, and focused on the benefits during these times.

I’ve also found planning to be incredibly valuable. Making a meal plan, preparing food in advance, and cooking extra so there are lunches for the next day(s) are all good tips. And don’t get addicted to the scales. If you use them, make sure they are good ones and have an accountability buddy if you need one.

By doing all this, I lost excess weight and feel great and full of energy. I am now maintaining weight by embracing a healthy lifestyle, exercising daily, and eating well. I hope my story encourages you to do the same.

Scriptures to Help You

Proverbs 16:3, Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.

Psalm 145:15-16, The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

Psalm 63:5, I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

Lamentations 2:22-23, The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Philippians 4:6-7, Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Isaiah 40:31, Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.

Romans 12:1, Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

Matthew 4:4, Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’

Isaiah 26:3, You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you.

Psalm 32:8, I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.

1 Corinthians 10:13: No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity.

And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?

You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honour God with your bodies.

1 Corinthians 10:31, So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Hebrews 12:11, No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those trained by it.

Matthew 6:25, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?”

1 Timothy 4:8, For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

1 Corinthians 9:24, Do you not know that all the runners run in a race, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.


My intention in writing this blog is to point out something that I hope will be helpful to us all in recognising potential unhealthy behaviour and adjusting our lives accordingly. Also, that we would all would continue moving in grace and compassion with those we encounter.

Over the last few years, I’ve noticed that when someone begins communicating in an edgy, argumentative way, there is ALWAYS something going wrong in their life. It could be a loss of a job, health, a marriage, or a ministry.

I always reach out privately to such people. Sometimes I get a response. Rarely does it change anything. So, I’ll repeat, every time someone is edgy, argumentative, or aggressive in the way they speak or interact on social media, something is going on in their own life that is causing frustration.

So, What’s Really Going On?

A helpful article published by the University of Montreal on conspiracy theories sheds some valuable insights into this phenomenon.

In summary, the authors address “significance loss” and how a person behaves to satisfy this need. The article speaks to why people embrace conspiracy theories to recover significance. The dopamine hit they used to get from their importance as a preacher, a husband, or their job is replaced by the audience they gain on social media. They “feel good” again because they have an audience, a platform, a voice, influence and allies. Significance has returned. Sadly, they lead others down a poisonous rabbit hole into a dark world of imaginary schemes where others are simply gullible sheep.

In all of the examples, I am aware of; the person has experienced loss: loss of ministry, relationship, job, house, or health. We all have lost something this year, especially freedom, but most people can rationalise this and not allow their behaviour to become toxic. But some, for whatever reason, do not possess this capacity. So, they attempt to recover from their loss of significance.

Something Else

In psychology, projection is an understandable self-defensive mechanism. When we don’t like what is going on in life, we are tempted to project our frustrations on others. Invariably this will be somebody we love or a person in authority who we perceive should do something to help us.

While projection is understandable, it is not healthy or godly. Projecting your frustrations on others only causes angst in friendships and relationships. I have held onto some friendships “by the skin of my teeth” over the past couple of years.

Rather Than Ranting, Try Talking

Firstly, if you are a person of faith, talk to God. Allow God to be a circuit breaker for your frustrations. Confess what is vexing you to him and invite the Holy Spirit to refresh and heal your wounded soul. Make a covenant with the Lord that you will not say or write anything in the public space when you feel irritable or anxious.

I have found it very therapeutic to write an email when I’m feeling frustrated and then put it in the drafts folder for a day or two. Note: DO NOT put the person’s email address in the “To:” line just in case you send it by mistake! After a day or two, I either delete the email entirely or rewrite it in a much gentler tone. But the action of writing the email can be a tonic.

And talk to someone you know and trust. It could be a professional such as a pastor, counsellor, or psychologist, or maybe a faithful friend. Tell them what you’re going through and how you are feeling, and ask them if you can chat regularly and for them to hold you accountable.

A Final Example

I did this recently when I had watched a guy I had known for years being extremely edgy on my Facebook page. Here’s my message to him, “You and I have known each other for a long-time. I have always respected you greatly. I am concerned about the way you’re engaging online. Of course, you are totally free to post what you like on your own page, but when you’re commenting on mine, could you please keep it respectful? I’m asking, kindly, could you please use some self-control when commenting on my page? Thanks so much.”

He wrote back, “I’m sorry Rob I should not have replied to that comment, although they were laughing at my opinions, I just should not have bitten back anyway. I’m needing to change my social media approach 100%…as hard as it is to bite my tongue I simply must now. I’m sharing that with you so you can hold me accountable if you feel like I’m stepping over the mark please feel free to poke me. Bless you heaps.

That was a good outcome. But it’s rare. I encourage us all to be like that and, if we are feeling frustrated because life is tough, we need to find a healthy outlet by chatting with God and a friend. Let’s tell them what’s REALLY going on.

Last week, Christie and I, along with millions of others, watched the Oprah interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. I must admit to not being terribly excited about the prospect of seeing it. Still, the rest of the family was keen, so here are some take home thoughts:

Everyone has an opinion

What followed was several days in which newspapers, TV shows, and social media seemed interested in little else. Professional commentators and amateurs alike had various opinions of the couple’s attitudes, behaviour, and words. Families and friends across the world have been arguing passionately about the Royal Family. Are Harry and Meghan manipulators or schemers, victims or bullies? Were they innocent or guilty? Was it the Queen’s fault, or was it Prince Charles? Or Prince Phillip? Everyone wanted someone to blame.

I will not comment on the interview or their behaviour, but the hubbub made me wonder what Jesus thinks. Who would Jesus blame? Whose side would he take?

Jesus’ Example

And that’s just it. Whenever Jesus was challenged to blame people, to take sides, he questioned the motives and actions of others instead. Consider these examples:

  • A prostitute washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and hair and anointed him with expensive perfume. Those present questioned her motivation and generosity as well as Jesus’ discernment. But Jesus didn’t condemn her. Instead, he celebrated her heart and actions.
  • A soldier from the oppressive army occupying Jesus’ country asked for help for his beloved servant. Jesus gave it.
  • As a religious teacher, people were shocked when Jesus invited himself to a cheating traitor’s home, treated as an outcast by Jericho’s townspeople. They grumbled and gossiped until the money started to flow from Zacchaeus’ wallet when his heart was transformed by Jesus’ love and acceptance.
  • Jesus touched lepers. He was not repulsed by people considered to be outcasts. He talked to women, a taboo for a single man in his culture. Jesus frequently shattered the stereotypes of every expectation of a religious leader. And the people loved him for it.

Acceptance First

The wonderful thing is that the people who met Jesus in first-century Palestine were profoundly changed. It’s important to note that, on most occasions, Jesus didn’t demand change first. He welcomed and accepted people unconditionally as a precious gift. Often, individuals, communities, and cultures reject people who do not look like them or don’t behave in line with “the norms”.

This acceptance by Jesus of others is one reason why he is such a compelling figure to me. This gift of his acceptance attracted me to follow him when I was a young atheist radio DJ. This same acceptance has challenged millions of people throughout history and across the globe to strive to live the same way.

This desire to follow Jesus’ example has challenged me to model that same acceptance to others. Sure, I fail at this sometimes, but desiring to be courageously like Jesus gives me example and motivation. And this is my challenge for all of us. As we express our opinions about Harry and Meghan, are we showing the acceptance of Jesus?

And what about in everyday life? As Jesus’ followers, do we accept or shun? Do we embrace or reject? Do we harbour secret feelings of superiority? Like the Pharisee who stood by himself and prayed, “God, I thank you that I am not like the other men – swindlers, evildoers, adulterers” (Luke 18:10-11). This man was very religious, but his pride prevented him from accepting those he considered unworthy.

Sadly, this kind of religious superiority and bigotry is still alive and well in Jesus’ church. For them, people need to get their beliefs and behaviour in line BEFORE they can belong. Jesus flipped this on its head and put BELONG at the front. Christians and Churches would do well do to get the order right too.

We have witnessed much hype around Harry and Meghan’s interview. Everyone’s got an opinion about them, and the Queen, Prince Charles & Camilla, William and Kate. After all, we’ve watched The Crown, on Netflix, haven’t we?

What we witness in the Royal Family is what we see in all humanity. We are all deeply flawed. We are all deeply loved by God. We are all eternally accepted in Jesus. May our lives reflect that same level of grace.

Forgiveness. We know we should do it. Christians (and many others) believe God has given it. But what is it? What does it mean to forgive?

Shedding Light on Translations

The Bible uses four Greek words that have various connotations of forgiveness. The one Jesus uses in the Lord’s Prayer (aphesis) is translated in a variety of ways in the New Testament. In the Lord’s Prayer, aphesis is rendered “forgive” and “forgiven,” but almost everywhere else, it is translated, “to leave; to have left.”

Delving into Biblical Words

This Greek word (aphesis) is used to translate its Hebrew equivalent (Yo’bel) that is usually rendered as “Jubilee” in English. It alludes to the Biblical Law that required periodic forgiveness of debt. The Hebrews were commanded to “Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan” (Leviticus 25:10). The Year of Jubilee restored personal liberty to those who had become slaves, and full restitution of all property also took place.

Consider this in the light of forgiveness. It’s an action that leads to release, liberty, restitution, and Jubilee. It’s about leaving something behind. We’ll explore this in greater detail later in this blog.

Another picture of “aphesis” in the Hebrew Scriptures is the scapegoat as part of the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16). By sending away the scapegoat, the Israelites were symbolising the leaving behind of their sins.

What Forgiveness Isn’t

Before we start looking at what forgiveness is, let’s find out what it isn’t. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you will put yourself back into a hurtful situation. Jesus’ teaching on turning the right cheek isn’t about letting someone slap you on the left cheek repeatedly. You’re not called to be a doormat for Jesus.

Over the years, I’ve heard some second-rate teaching on forgiveness. Pastors have told women in an abusive marriage to submit to their husbands, “as the Bible teaches.” It should be remembered that submission in marriage is mutual and conditional. Husbands and wives are to submit to one another (Eph. 5:21). Submission is always based on love: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” and “husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.” No man ever beats himself up, and he shouldn’t abuse his wife either. A woman in an abusive relationship needs to get out as quickly as possible and seek safety. This is not a matter of forgiveness but of self-preservation.

Also, forgiveness isn’t forgetting – only God can do that (Isaiah 43:25). I’ve heard people say, “well, just forgive and forget,” but people don’t have that ability. It’s a Divine prerogative to choose to forget, not a human one.

What Constitutes Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a process rather than an event. Each of us has the choice of when and how we forgive. Don’t be guilty of communicating clichés to others like, “just forgive them,” “move on,” “it’ll be okay.” Real-life cannot be lived by platitudes or formulae.

Forgiveness has to do with release, liberty, restitution and jubilee. In its purest form, forgiveness is about releasing another from your right to get even. It means “to leave, or to have left, your desire to punish someone for their offense against you.” Unforgiveness says, “You hurt me, and I’m going to hurt you back.” Forgiveness says, “You hurt me, but I’m going to release you from vengeance.”

Forgiveness is a choice rather than a feeling. You may still feel hurt, angry, wronged, offended, and wounded. You may feel that way for a long time during which God and time can gradually bring healing and restoration. But these feelings don’t mean you have unforgiveness. If you have relinquished the temptation to get your own back, you have forgiven. When you forgive, you will begin to experience liberty and jubilee.

If you are the one who has hurt or offended someone, then forgiveness for you will be seeking restitution.

Zacchaeus, the crooked chief tax collector, is a beautiful example of this. When he encountered the grace of God through Jesus, Zacchaeus was so impacted that he made restitution with everyone he had offended, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Can you imagine how the forgiveness flowed towards Zacchaeus from people he had ripped off? If he hadn’t responded in this way, he would never have had this experience. People would have known that he was now a follower of Jesus, but they would forever have felt angry with him for the way he stole money from them.

Restitution caused release, liberty and jubilee. True forgiveness will always have that effect.



Earlier this year, I received one of the most tragic phone calls I’ve ever taken.  One of our Bayside Church leaders told me that a guy, who’d been part of our church for over a decade, had died by suicide.  I dropped everything and raced over to the house.  By the time I arrived, detectives and the police were in attendance, confirming that the worst had happened and this precious guy had ended his life.

Over the next hours and days, I spent time letting his wife and family, and then his closest friends, know what had happened.  To see the utter devastation in so many people was heartbreaking.  At times like these, there are so many questions that cannot be answered.  At his funeral, I did my best to comfort, encourage, and give hope to his family and friends.

The sorrow I witnessed at the start of the year is encountered several times every day all around Australia, and thousands of times daily in every country of the world.[i]

 “Countries large and small, advanced and developing, all experience the pain of suicide firsthand.[ii]  In all but one of these countries (Lesotho), men are more likely to suicide than women (75% of suicides in Australia are men).

Suicide Rates

Last month, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released its Causes of Death report, highlighting that Australians are taking their lives at an unacceptable rate with suicides increasing.  Suicide is the leading cause of death amongst 15 to 44-year-old’s, and the third highest cause of death amongst those from 45 and 64.

SANE Australia CEO, Jack Heath says, “Suicide rates are heading in the wrong direction and we need to change this.  We also know that the risk of suicide is higher for those living with complex mental illness and we still have a long way to go in reducing the stigma associated with complex mental illness and in facilitating access to adequate evidence-based care and support.  It is now more important than ever to support people and help them understand that the world is better off with them.”

Starting with Mental Health

One in two Australian men will have had a mental health issue at some time in their lives.  According to the Movember website, “Most of us say we’d be there for our mates if they need us.”  But sadly, “Most of us also say that we feel uncomfortable asking mates for help.”

Now more than ever there are a great number of resources available to help us deal with mental health concerns.  Websites like Conversations Matter offer lots of ideas for discussing suicide, and Beyond Blue have an entire page dedicated to getting help and ‘having the conversation.’  Heads Up Guys offer health strategies to help men manage and prevent depression, and Head to Health is an Australian Government initiative that enables you to access many mental health services and resources.

With regards to my friend who died earlier this year, none of us (his friends and family) were aware of how bad things were for him or that taking his life was on his mind.  We are all devastated by his loss.  Rarely a day goes by when I don’t think of him.

Finding Support After Suicide

One of the most helpful things at this time was a visit by a lady from Jesuit Social Services (JSS) who offer a program Support After Suicide.  She spent a couple of hours with me, Christie and our pastors at Bayside Church.  JSS offers some excellent resources on their website that will help you if someone close to you has taken their life.

Getting Active

Men’s mental health and suicide is something that touches (or will touch) us all.  Early intervention is a key strategy in mental health recovery.  I encourage you to start and continue those difficult conversations with loved ones, stay connected to your community and seek help if you recognise some warning signs in yourself or another.

RU OK also provides information on how to approach someone you may be concerned about.

If you’d like to do something practical, join me in November as I #bringbackthemo.  Create a profile on www.au.movember.com, grow a Mo and encourage people to donate to the cause of men’s mental health.  If you’d like to sponsor me, please click here.

Also, if you live in Melbourne, I invite you to join us at Bayside Church for a Men’s Mental Health Night on either the 8th or 13th November.  You’ll hear men talk about what it takes to develop a community of support, as well as GP’s about best practice treatments and their role in supporting men. It’s a free event, and everyone is welcome.

Further Help

SANE Help Centre on 1800 187 263 or helpline@sane.org from 10am-10pm AEST

Lifeline – 13 11 14

Suicide Call Back Line – 1800 659 467

MensLine – 1300 789 978

Beyond Blue – 1300 22 4636

Kids Helpline (5 to 25 years old) – 1800 551 800

Headspace (12 to 25 years old) – headspace.org.au


[i] About 3,000 people a day commit suicide, that’s one every 40 seconds. For each individual who takes his/her own life, at least 20 attempts to do so.  Approximately one million people commit suicide every year worldwide.

[ii] https://www.mentalhelp.net/aware/suicide-rates-interactive/


I’d love to have a dollar for every time I’ve heard the words, “I just want to be happy.”  And I hear those words more and more as we increasingly become an individualistic, self-focused society.  Sadly, this phrase even comes from the mouths of Christian people as if happiness is somehow God’s perfect will for all of His children.

Now, if the will of God intersects with your happiness then all well and good, but Christians should not live with that expectation.  Consider this, if Jesus had made his choices based on happiness he would never have gone to the cross: “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”[1] Jesus calls his disciples to follow this example, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.  If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?”[2] The answer is NO.

But we’ve been duped, conned by the happiness myth spread by Western culture and bought into by a modern, Western distortion of what is called Christianity but is, in fact, a poor reflection of the genuine article.  It’s “a different gospel, which really is no gospel at all,”[3] because the real gospel works everywhere and for everyone, not just those of us lucky enough to live in a prosperous, developed country, and not just by those whose lives happen to be going well most of the time.  It’s interesting that books inspired by the “Happiness Gospel” don’t seem to sell that well in countries like North Korea, Iraq and Syria.

The true gospel of Jesus has a cross at its centre – a cross to be taken up daily by Jesus’ followers.  The cross is something we die on – die to our selfish desires and motives, die to the need always to be right, and die to the pursuit of happiness when it takes us outside the realms of God’s will and purpose.

For example, I’ve had many conversations in recent years with people who’ve told me they are no longer happy in their marriage. The husband/wife they were once in love with they love no longer, and some of these people have chosen to leave their spouse and children because “I just want to be happy.”  Now, I realise that some marriages get to a point where they are beyond repair, and my intention here is not to condemn those who have gone through (or going through) a marriage breakup or divorce.  However, I do want to challenge the easy “out” I hear from some people all for the sake of personal happiness. [b]

Every marriage, including mine, goes through tough times.  It’s during these times that I go back to my vows and remind myself of what I signed up for: “to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, and forsaking all others till death do us part.” These vows, which are easy to say but hard to live by, recognise that there will be times when happiness is absent from a marriage.  If we’ve bought into the cult of happiness we’ll find reasons to quit when life gets hard, but if we’ll take up our cross and stay faithful to our vows, there’s something on the other side of such obedience that outshines happiness by far, and that is JOY.

Happiness is based on happenings – life happens to be good.  I’m financially secure, things are going well with my husband/wife, my children are behaving themselves, work is satisfying, and my life is conflict free.  But when one or more of these things change my happiness vanishes and I want to get it back.  I just want to be happy!

Joy, on the other hand, is not dependent on circumstances, it is a gift from God.  Author Rick Renner puts it this way, “The Greek word for ‘joy’ is chara, derived from the word charis, which is the Greek word for ‘grace.’ This is important to note, for it tells us categorically that chara is produced by charis of God.  This means ‘joy’ isn’t a human-based happiness that comes and goes … Rather, true ‘joy’ is divine in origin … it is a Spirit-given expression that flourishes best in hard times. For example, in 1 Thessalonians 1:6, the Thessalonians were under great stress due to persecution; yet in the midst of it all, they continued to experience great joy. In fact, the Greek strongly implies that their supernatural joy was due to the Holy Spirit working in them. Paul even called it the “the joy given by the Holy Spirit.”[4]

Nehemiah tells us that, “the joy of the Lord is your strength.”[5]  The writer to the Hebrews encourages us to fix “our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” [6]  It was joy, not happiness, that got Jesus through his suffering and brought him into an excellent place.  What joy God’s people miss out on when they make short-term decisions to get happiness but miss out on long-term joy because of those decisions.  I encourage you to allow God to form you through the tough times and you’ll come out the other side refined, mature and full of joy, to live a life beyond happiness.

It’s important in the tough times to know you are not alone, there is a community to support and walk with you.  Consider talking to someone and sharing what you are going through – friends, family, connect leaders, pastors, your GP and counsellors.

The Careline – ph 03 9583 2273

Beyondblue – ph 1300 22 4636

Lifeline – ph 13 11 14


[1] Luke 22:42

[2] Matthew 16:24-26

[3] Galatians 1:7

[b] https://baysidechurch.com.au/divorce-and-remarriage/

[4] Sparkling Gems from the Greek, Rick Renner

[5] Nehemiah 8:10

[6] Hebrews 12:2


Welcome to winter! It’s a wonderful season in many ways but one of the downsides is the increase of sickness and sadness. SAD stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder and is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons, especially when it’s cold and there’s less sunshine. So how do we beat flus and winter blues? Read on for some practical tips.

Recent studies show that the number one way to prevent getting the flu is by having an annual flu vaccine, which reduces the risk of flu illness by about 50-60%. Last year was the first year I didn’t get a flu jab (ironically because my doctor was sick on the day I was booked in to get one) and I ended up getting the worst flu and being off work for 2 weeks (and feeling pretty average for about 6 weeks). Needless to say this year we had a family outing to the doctor and we all got jabbed J. You can’t catch the flu from the vaccine – that’s just a myth. You’ll also need to avoid contact with people who have the flu, wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face (some viruses can live on surfaces for hours. Regular hand washing is your best strategy to keep them from getting inside your body).

Other ways to beat flus and winter blues include healthy eating and exercise. Plant foods (especially those high in vitamin C like broccoli, kiwi and citrus fruits) contain natural disease fighting compounds that can improve your immune system, so eat lots of vegetables and fruits as well as healthy fats and lean protein, dairy, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Include ginger, garlic, olive leaf extract and green tea in your diet. Don’t “starve a fever”. Make sure you drink plenty of fresh water too. Regular, sensible exercise will stimulate the fighting T cells into doing their job – attacking foreign invaders like germs and viruses. Spending time outside during the day is very important in beating the winter blues (SAD) because of the benefits of sunlight. Taking a vitamin D supplement is important too – and other supplements in addition to a healthy diet. Also get plenty of rest and minimise stress where possible.

If you smoke it’s time to give up! Not only is it bad for your health it’s also bad for your wallet. It’s likely that a packet of 25 cigarettes will cost $40 in Australia by 2020. That’s almost $15,000 a year up in smoke (if you have a packet a day). Smoking is known to worsen the effects of flu and colds as it causes the body to overreact to a virus.

Finally, make sure you don’t change your routine too much in the winter. The temptation for those who live in a colder climate is to hibernate, but this can be ultimately detrimental. A big contributor towards our physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing is being an active part of a community of people. Resist the temptation to isolate yourself. We’re not meant to live life alone – we’ve been created for community. Join a church, make friends, get involved and volunteer. Being with people and singing together pays huge dividends. A Time Magazine article states, Researchers are beginning to discover that singing is like an infusion of the perfect tranquilizer, the kind that both soothes your nerves and elevates your spirits.” And of all the musical genres, Gospel music is the one that is particularly effective at lifting a person’s mood.

Wherever possible do the some of the above recommendations together – eat healthily with friends, exercise with others, play board games together and pray with others. Making sure all of these ingredients are in your life will not only reduce your risk of the flus and winter blues, they will also lead you to living the happiest and healthiest life possible.

(Please be sure to always talk with your health care provider if your symptoms persist; before taking any herbal, vitamin, or mineral supplement, or engaging in any strenuous exercise.)

Last September I posted a blog titled “The World is Getting Better.” In this blog, I made the following statement, In Jesus’ time most people were poor but over the centuries this has changed dramatically.  Since the economic growth of industrialisation the number of people living in poverty has decreased – and has kept on falling ever since.  The number of people living in poverty has decreased massively in the last twenty years.  While there is still much to do we are winning the war on poverty; the world is getting better!”

While we are winning the war on poverty, recent research has indicated that the gap between rich and poor is actually increasing. According to Oxfam, “The richest 1% now has as much wealth as the rest of the world combined.” Oxfam also calculated that the richest 62 people in the world had as much wealth as the poorest half of the global population. That’s 62 people having the same amount as 3.7 billion people!

What it takes to be in the top 1% is fascinating. If you have cash and assets (including your house) worth just over $AUD1 million you’re in the top 1% – the same percentile as Rupert Murdoch, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.

The news is not all bad though. Other research shows that those in the middle and bottom of the world income distribution have all got pay rises of around 40% between 1988-2008. Global inequality of life expectancy and height are narrowing too – showing better nutrition and better healthcare where it matters most.

Oxfam said that the 62 richest people having as much wealth as the poorest 50% of the population is a remarkable concentration of wealth, given that it would have taken 388 individuals to have the same wealth as the bottom 50% in 2010.

This is not to be critical of wealthy people; especially when those who have more than enough spend so much time and money helping others. Bill Gates, for example, says he has no use for money beyond a certain point. And he means it. Gates has already donated $US28 billion since 2007 to eradicate deadly diseases around the world and he hopes to double that investment in renewable technology in the next five years.

In June 2010, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett formally announced the Giving Pledge campaign. The organisation’s goal is to inspire the wealthy people of the world to give the majority of their net worth to philanthropy, either during their lifetime or upon their death. By December last year, 141 individuals and/or couples were listed as pledgers on the official website.

However, bridging the gap between rich and poor is not just the responsibility of the super-rich. Governments around the world need to take action to reverse this trend and make sure workers are paid a living wage, the gender pay gap is ended and equal land and inheritance rights are promoted for women.

This is also the responsibility of all people in the top 1% or even the top 10% – anyone who has more than enough, has a responsibility to help those who don’t have enough. The Bible speaks into this need to bring about equality between the haves and the have-nots, Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality” (2 Corinthians 8:13-14). The apostle Paul wrote this to the believers in the Greek City of Corinth about coming good on their promise to help those affected by the famine in Judea. Many of Corinth’s Christians had more than they needed and Paul is encouraging them to take some of their surplus in order to help those struggling with poverty. The same principle applies today. The purpose of giving and generosity is about bridging the gap between the rich and the poor.

One of the things I’ve done in recent years is to decrease the number of latte’s I buy. I used to buy one on most days until I realised it was costing me just over $1,000 a year. These days, I donate that money to help the 8 boys we look after in our Bayside Church Forever Home in South Africa. I encourage you to look for ways you can do the same. Maybe go without something so others don’t have to go without the things they need for sustaining life. Let’s all do our bit to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor.

If you want to do something practical to help right now, please consider making a donation to Bayside Church’s Home and Away fund.  100% of the money donated goes towards projects aimed at relieving poverty such as Matt’s Place (our twice-weekly lunch program giving a hot meal to the homeless and marginalised people in Bayside Melbourne) and the Forever Home in Johannesburg that I mention in the blog.  You can give on line by clicking on this link.

All donations are Tax deductible if required.

Almost a year ago my dear old mum passed away at the age of 83.  For about 5 years she had gradually declined mentally and physically because of dementia.  The first time we noticed it was when she was cooking a lovely family dinner and couldn’t remember how to make custard.  Over the next few years things got worse and worse.  My dad was amazing in his care for mum, but eventually he couldn’t cope anymore.  I will never forget the look of sadness on her face when we left the nursing home that day. We walked outside and wept.

Mum spent about a year and a half in the home before she peacefully passed away early one morning.  The nurse had gone into mum’s room, looked at her and said, “Sheila, it’s fine if you want to go now.”  A few minutes later she took her last breath.  I had been with mum every day the week before and had said my “goodbyes.”  I have no regrets.  She was a great mum and I have many fond memories.

I conducted her funeral a few days later and then came back to Melbourne. But niggling in the back of my mind was a fear of getting dementia myself in my latter years, so I started doing some reading and research on what causes it.  I know there’s no known cure at this stage, but some of the current research strongly indicates there are several ways to reduce your risk and slow it down.  Here’s what I found out:

There are six things we need to do to keep our brain healthy, stronger and lasting longer:

The first is exercise that helps to reduce stress, improves memory, increases energy and lifts our sense of wellbeing.  Research shows that exercise can reduce the risk of developing dementia by 50%.  The recommendation is for a balance between cardio, weights and stretching / breathing exercises such as Pilates.

Secondly, it’s important to maintain a healthy diet.  The Mediterranean diet has been found to be the best mix of food to help prevent dementia. Foods to include are fish, nuts, whole grains, olive oil, and lots of fruit and vegies from across the colour spectrum to maximise protective antioxidants and vitamins.  Other foods that help include ginger, green tea, white and oolong tea, black coffee, soy products, blueberries, and other dark berries, lean protein and healthy fats, a glass of red wine and square of dark chocolate, eggs, quinoa, hummus and brown rice.  Drink lots of fresh water.

Avoid full-fat dairy products, fast food, fried foods, and packaged and processed foods and drinks as well as refined carbohydrates that are high in sugar and white flour.  Eating six small meals throughout the day is recommended.

Thirdly, keep your mind active.  Learning new things like a foreign language or a musical instrument, reading, taking up a new hobby, playing strategy games and board games (like Scrabble), memorising Scripture, doing crossword puzzles and Sudoku all help.  When you drive somewhere take an alternative route, eat with your non-dominant hand, rearrange your computer file system. Vary your habits regularly to create new brain pathways.  Luminosity gives an excellent brain workout.  Subscribe to it and you’ll receive a daily email reminder.

Number 4: Get at least eight hours of sleep per night.  Go to bed and get up at the same time every day because your brain’s clock responds to regularity.  Avoid taking naps during the day. If you have to nap then a maximum of 30 minutes early in the afternoon is the way to go.  Create a relaxing bedtime ritual and ban TV, computers and phones from the bedroom.  When stress, anxiety, or negative thoughts keep you awake, get out of bed. Try reading or relaxing in another room for twenty minutes then go back to bed.

Next, it’s important to limit the amount of stress you experience especially over long periods of time.  Do things that help you relax, breathe deeply, and engage in prayer, meditation and reflection.

Finally, keep yourself actively involved with other people.  We’re not meant to be alone we’ve been created for community.  Join a church community, attend regularly, make friends, get involved and volunteer.  Wherever possible do some of the above recommendations together – eat healthily with friends, exercise with others, play board games together and pray with others.  Making sure all of these ingredients are in your life will not only reduce your risk of dementia, they will also lead you to living the happiest and healthiest life possible.

According to the XXXChurch website “The scary truth … is that at least 72% of men and 28% of women use pornography.” 

In His book Ashamed No More, Dr. T. C. Ryan lists four reasons why porn use is counter to healthy human sexuality:

  1. Looking at porn is seeing something very personal, very intimate of another person, but it’s not mutual. There is no exchange, and no genuine intimacy. It’s one-sided.
  2. If we are aroused and then climax sexually using porn, we experience a neuro-chemical sequence that is disjointed. Part of the sequence is intensely pleasurable (dopamine) followed by another part leaving us wanting to be held (oxytocin) but we’re alone. We’re not bonding; we’re isolating.
  3. For many this solo, porn-induced neuro-cocktail becomes a preferred experience. We become attached to non-attaching sexual experience. And when we become compulsive consumers, our appetites become progressive. Contentment with healthy intimacy is replaced with soul-starving consumption.
  4. We have to carefully and honestly consider how pornography is produced. People are hurt, used and abused in porn production. There is a correlation between the demands for porn and sexual trafficking. Something beautiful and God-given gets flipped into something evil and destructive. Porn production and consumption moves us from the light and into the darkening gloom of the shadow-life.

The following testimony is from a member of Bayside Church who was addicted to porn for many years and has now found freedom:

I want to share a story with you of my journey through my sexual and porn addiction.

I grew up in a normal middle class home where I had everything I needed.

While in my early to mid-teens I was first exposed to pornography. I found a pornographic video in my father’s draw and out of curiosity I watched it.  Little did I know at that time, but my father had a problem with lust. He used sex as a way of dealing with problems. I grew up seeing a man who would view porn and flirt with other women, and it became an example for me in how to deal with the issues of life.

From this moment on a desire and interest in porn was ignited within me. It was like nothing I had ever seen or experienced before, and it gave me a sense of excitement in my life that I was longing for.

I began to feed my desire for lust and would at least once a week visit the local news agency and steal a playboy or penthouse magazine. I also began to hire out pornographic movies and watch them when my parents were not at home.

My addiction to porn and lust grew to the point where every night before I went to sleep I would view pornographic magazines. It was my drug. At the age of 20 I became a Christian and I thought that my addiction would end, however it didn’t and it only grew stronger once I had discovered the world of the Internet. Now I could access all the material I wanted from the comfort of home without having to walk into a shop.

I was desperate to get help, however many of my church leaders had no idea about how to deal with this issue, some even said to go away and fast for a few days. This didn’t help!

I continued on as best as I could. I would stumble and then get up and sometimes be fine for months at a time. I would then get too confident, let my guard down, and I would be back to square one. My struggle led to an enormous amount of shame and guilt. Even though I continued to struggle, I loved God and was desperate to break free.

During this time I was attending a large church in Melbourne and eventually became a staff member there.  I was living this double life and it was becoming unbearable. Everyone thought I was some great man of God without a struggle in the world, yet I knew that I had this area of my life which was not under control.

My struggle continued and I eventually came to a point where I had had enough and visited my pastor and told him of my struggle. Eventually it was brought before the leadership team and my struggle was made public. It was one of the most humiliating times of my life, yet also the most freeing. I didn’t have to pretend to have it altogether any more.  There was something incredibly freeing about being honest and open. That was the start of my recovery and healing. I had to hit rock bottom before I could heal. I began to become accountable and attended counseling.

I recognised the triggers in my life and avoided those situations in life that led to sin and temptation.

Just after I confessed to my pastor, I met a wonderful lady who has since become my wife. I was upfront with her from the start about all that had taken place and the grace and love that she showed me was just incredible. I couldn’t have done it without her.

It has been over four years since that time and I can thankfully say that I have not succumbed to the pull of porn. I thank God for his grace and forgiveness.

If you find yourself with an addiction to pornography (or any other sexual addiction) you cannot free yourself from it on your own. You need to seek help. First of all share your problem with a trusted, Christian friend (of the same gender) who will pray with you and keep you accountable. James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” Seek counseling with a good counselor, and utilise the many useful online resources.  Here are two very good ones:

XXXChurch provides many incredible resources, workshops, X3watch accountability software, and online support groups to help you become the man or woman you want to be. Go to www.XXXChurch.com for more information and help.

The Feed the right wolf website is excellent too:


Job said, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman” (Job 31:1). We would all do well to do the same!

I was shocked yesterday when I heard about Robin Williams’ suicide. Shocked because it was such a sad and senseless way for him to go.  Shocked because he has touched my life by his amazing work. One of my all-time favorite movies is Dead Poets Society. Our family love watching Mrs. Doubtfire. I’ve enjoyed Robin Williams’ work since the early days of Mork and Mindy. Remember Na-Nu Na-Nu and Shazbot? He has given us so much joy in films like Good Morning Vietnam, Aladdin, Patch Adams and more. It’s tragic that a man who gave others joy in life found so little joy in his own.  And he wasn’t alone. There are hundreds of “sad clowns” in the entertainment world: Alan Alda, Owen Wilson & Jim Carrey to name but three.  Have a look at this list of famous people on Wikipedia who suffer from major depressive disorder…


There are many Bible characters that faced periods of depression too.

According to officials of the Marin County Sheriff’s Department Robin Williams is believed to have hanged himself with a belt in the bedroom of his home near San Francisco. He also had superficial cuts on his wrist and police found a pocketknife near him. His personal assistant found his body. His publicist confirmed that Williams had been battling severe depression.

The tragic passing of Robin Williams brings to the forefront an issue that millions of people struggle with each and every day. Depression is an illness that does not discriminate. It affects celebrities and regular people alike. And sometimes it has deadly consequences. I faced periods of deep depression in my own life in my teens and twenties. Thankfully it’s not something I struggle with much these days.

Last night on Social media I joined many others in expressing my sorrow at the passing of Robin Williams. I wrote, “So sad about Robin Williams taking his own life. This highlights again the very real need for people facing depression to reach out for help.” Several people responded to this statement including a Christian guy from South Africa. He wrote: “Well said Ps Rob…we have to realize that depression comes from the Devil…The word clearly says that the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. Too many people are not focusing on the word, but rather the negative influence from the world (media, music). We as Christians should reach out in Love and let each person know that Life is a choice and they can at any moment choose that life. The devil has blinded people for too long.”

My response was: “That’s partly true. The verse you quote in context actually refers to false prophets not the devil. Depression needs a holistic approach that includes the Word of God and prayer. Good pastoral care is necessary and oftentimes good medical and psychological care. All of these are good gifts from God.”

The reasoning behind my response is that I sometimes find Christians too simplistic and narrow in their response to major life issues. Just read the Bible and pray and all will be okay! But not even the Bible teaches that is enough to overcome major life issues. For example, James teaches to “confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16). Life controlling issues, be they addictions or illnesses like depression, can rarely be overcome in solitude. Pastoral care, counseling and accountability are necessary.

Healing is a gift from God. Sometimes God heals instantly, sometimes gradually and sometimes though the avenue of good medical care. It is not a lack of faith for a Christian to see a doctor. God is not anti-doctors, nurses and specialists.  In fact, He chose Dr. Luke, “the beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14) to write two of the Bible’s most important books – Luke and Acts. Paul advised Timothy to “use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.” He didn’t suggest he just read the Word and pray. In Isaiah 38:21 the prophet Isaiah (upon God’s directive) prescribed a poultice for King Hezekiah’s boil. Ezekiel 47:12 mentions the healing properties God has placed in plants. The Good Samaritan used oil and wine for medicinal purposes (Luke 10:34).

Medical experts and specialists can treat many conditions successfully, diagnose a condition so you can pray more specifically and confirm that healing or recovery have taken place. Of course medical science still has its limitations and it is sometimes when doctors can’t help that God steps in.

The second mistake my friend makes in his statement is inferring that depression is demonic in origin.  It could be but it is dangerous to presume that this is the case every time. Matthew 4:23-24 talks about various categories of illness that Jesus healed: those who were ill with various diseases, suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures – sudden attacks of a particular disorder, and the paralyzed.  Only one-in-five were demon-related disorders. Through prayer, good pastoral care, counseling and medical help the cause of depression can be found and an appropriate response put in place. Some people find healing while others learn to manage their condition with good support. Sadly there are others, like Robin Williams, whose life long struggle ends in tragedy.

If you’re struggling with depression – or any other life controlling condition – please reach out for help. Remember that suicide is permanent. Your problems can be a temporary problem.


I came across an article this week that was published in Psychology Today a while ago. The article highlighted the psychological benefits of having faith. Despite the many voices around today that would decry the importance of religious faith, it is still thriving in many parts of the world – including Australia. One reason for this is that faith is actually good for our physical and psychological health. Psychology Today suggests four main ways this takes place:
1. Faith is a source of hope and optimism
Research in psychology indicates that positive attitudes are good for our health. For example, people who are optimistic about their chances of recovery from major diseases tend to better adhere to medical treatment plans, be less bothered by disease symptoms and have better recovery rates. For many people, their faith is a major source of hope and optimism.

2. Faith promotes feelings of belonging
We humans are social creatures and so meeting our need to belong is good for us. In a world that is leading to increasing isolation through an addiction to so-called “social” media, belonging to a community of people has never been more important. Conversation, prayer, laughter, empathy, hugs and serving are all benefits of belonging.

3. Faith can boost self-esteem
Like optimism, self-esteem has been shown to be a predictor of good physical health. We gain self-esteem from feeling as if we are people of value. Faith can offer a particularly potent and resilient sense of self-worth because God, like a good parent, loves and values us no matter what we do. Many sources of self-esteem (like beauty, success and popularity) are not so reliable.

4. Faith provides answers to many of life’s questions
As intellectual and self-aware creatures, we humans are uniquely able to ask questions like, “Where did I come from?” “Why am I here?” “What is the meaning of life?” “What happens to me when I die?” For people of faith it is not satisfying to accept the possibility that human existence is by chance and people are no more significant or enduring than any other organism. Faith offers meaning, purpose and hope in this life as well as the life to come.

Of course anything good can be counterfeited and so some people, whose faith becomes misguided by being involved with false cults, can experience the “bad side of faith.” But as long as faith is placed in a loving God and expressed in a healthy community of believers, it adds an amazing dimension to life. Jesus referred to it as “abundant life” and expressed clearly that this was His main mission, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). If you haven’t put your faith in Jesus, why not do it now?