In His Likeness and Image by Ps Michael Podhaczky
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I can forget that humanity is the result of divine purpose. I can tend to ride roughshodover those around me as I insist on my way and pushing my ideas. I can see myself as God’s special son, yet, from a biblical perspective, all of humanity has been created in God’s likeness and image, not just me Gen 1:26. This truth can (and should) help us to see the sanctity of lifefrom God’s perspective.

We have no right to devalue, damage or destroy those made in God’s image and likeness. But since the fall of humanity (Genesis 3 and 4), we have done just that, beginning with Cain’s murder of Abel. In the Torah, it stated, “You must not murder” (Ex 20:13 NLT). Throughout history, mankind has continued to mistreat others.

Jesus Christ quoted this passage from Exodus as He pointed out that murder begins in the heart (Matt 5:21). He took things to a whole new level when He said:
“But I say if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell” (Matt 5:22 NLT).
In other words, we can murder someone in our hearts before we ever use our hands or a weapon. Those around us are made in God’s image and likeness. What gives us the right to devalue, damage or destroy anyone?

Pause in His presence for a moment and think this over… 
Reading the Bible: Part Three by Ps Michael Podhaczky
Our generation would appear to have a problem with authority. So, as part of this matter of reading the Bible, it can be asked: “Where does the Bible get its authority?” The Bible’s authority is based on infallibility (it is never at fault, but totally trustworthy). In fact, the whole Bible as God’s Word is authoritative for us at all times. It is the final authority of truth, life, and faith for the Christ-follower. It remains the Word of God for the nation of Israel and Christ-followersup to today as timeless truth. It is important to grasp the truth that the Bible is the ultimate, absolute and authoritative Word of God. Peter (in 2 Pet 3:16), understood Paul’s writings to be God’s Word, calling it “Scripture” - (2 Pet 3:14-18). In light of this Paul said that,
16 “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realise what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17 NLT).

Its relevance may be questioned, suggesting that it is irrelevant and outdated, but this is not the case. It has been pointed out,
“How do we know that Scripture is the Word of God? How do we know this with that total conviction that brings the child of God into humble submission to the Word? How do we know this truth so that we are willing to lay down our lives for it? Because some skilled and knowledgeable redaction critic has proved it with an involved argument from literary and historical sources? God forbid. We know this by faith. Faith believes the Scriptures and the testimony of the Scriptures. Faith alone bows in humble submission to God’s Word.”[1]
The Bible does not need anyone to give it their authoritative backing. On the contrary, God’s Word is the ultimate, reliable and trustworthy foundation for the Christ-follower’s faith and teaching for life. It has been stated,
“…the normative authority of Holy Scripture is the authority of God Himself and is attested by Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Church.”[2]
The supernatural transforming and authoritative Word of God in the control of the Holy Spirit and as read and studied by the Christ-follower, can guide to salvation those who are unsaved, sanctify and transform lives.

Pause in His presence for a moment and think this over…

[1] Hanko, Herman C. “Issues in Hermeneutics.” (16thNovember 2017).
[2]“Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics: Article 1.” November 2017). Cf. also “The Supernatural Origin of Biblical Texts.” November 2017).
Hospitality by Ps Dave Podhaczky
Last weekend, my wife and I went hiking with some friends at one of our favourite places, Wilson’s Prom. After a morning spent packing, food shopping, driving and comparing packs, we eventually set off on our hike.
The first leg skirts around the coastal edge of Mt Oberon and into Little Oberon Bay, a lovely little spot for a muesli bar and chat break. From there, a lovely coastal track leads on to Oberon Bay, which was our destination for the night. The camp sites at Oberon Bay can be found on little tracks that branch off either side of the central campsite track. Many of the sites had already been taken, although at a squeeze most of these could have accommodated more people. Our group split up to search for the best available site and several of us gravitated towards a largish area right at the end of the track. There was probably enough room for 4-5 tents there (our group was 12 people). It would be perfect for meals together and any of the tents that did not fit could squeeze into other sites. However, before we even had the chance to take our packs off, another camper came stomping over and sharply told us that this was their site, which they had booked and paid for and that there was not enough room for us. We would have to find somewhere else to camp. 

Well needless to say, we were taken aback at this welcome. Almost all of the hikers I have encountered on my adventures have been lovely and helpful. Not this time. After we recovered from the initial shock of this verbal spray, we pointed out several things in favour of us camping in this spot: there are no site numbers - people can camp wherever they like within the designated areas. We would be several metres away from the other group; there were not many other options. However, as we were explaining these things, one of our group came to inform us that they had found a better spot. So off we went to leave these unhappy campers to their prized site! As we were putting the finishing touches on our camp setup, another group of hikers came looking for a spot to setup. We sent them in the direction of the other site, with a word of caution about the inhospitable neighbours there.

Hospitality is a theme that runs throughout both the Old and New Testaments and was an integral part of Mediterranean culture during Jesus’ time. Beautiful examples of this type of hospitality can be seen in Homer’s The Odyssey, as Telemachus travels in search of his father, Odysseus. Telemachus is repeatedly taken in with feasting and departs with gifts. Obviously there are significant cultural differences between Mediterranean hospitality and much of our individualistic, self-centred, busy lives here in post-modern Melbourne. However, there is no harm in reflecting on our attitude towards hospitality and whether our lives and attitudes are in alignment with scriptures such as 1 Peter 4:8-9 which says:

"Above all hold unfailing your love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins. Practice hospitality ungrudgingly to one another."

What is your first response when someone interrupts your plans, comfort or night? Is it to find an excuse, or to tell them to rack off (like our hiking friend from earlier)? Or is it to see an opportunity to share a cup of water, meal, kind word or listening ear with someone that needs it? After all, Jesus said himself that when we do this, it as though we give him a drink.

Reading the Bible: Part Two by Ps Michael Podhaczky
In the previous blog we looked at “How do we safely read the Bible without overlaying our thoughts, theology and interpretation onto it?” However, having said this, the greatest theological perspective for reading the Bible is knowing God and His ways. In addition to this, the greatest interpretive revelation of God is Jesus Christ. Knowing these two things can bring greater illumination to reading the Bible. Knowing God and His ways should be the greatest purpose of all Christ-followers. Sometimesit appears that for many, reading the Bible is just a task to be completed. How can this be, when the Bible is God’s help to understand revealed theology regarding Him?  What have we missed?

If we try to take this theological feature out of the Bible, I would be so bold as to say that we would end up with no more than a subjective humanistic process and historical record like any other history. It may not be exactly atheistic in its stance, but it would probably be theistic humanism. God becomes reasonable, rather than the supernatural God, Saviour of the created historical universe. But if there is a God of the Bible then we need to read it to know Him. We need to know Jesus Christ who came to reveal or exegete the Father to us. (Jn 1:18).

Pause in His presence for a moment and think this over…
Reading the Bible: Part One by Ps Michael Podhaczky
How do we safely read the Bible without overlaying our own thoughts, theology and interpretation onto it? Do not get me wrong - theology and interpretation are important features of Bible reading. However, it needs to be remembered that these flow from the Bible and not the other way around.

The Bible is the nervous system of divine knowledge, networking the whole of the issue of theology and interpretation. The writers of the books of the Bible may not have set out to write “set theological pieces,”[1]but they did. The various theological concepts, interpretive principles and application are outworked differently through each book of the Bible but make up a whole.

Yet there are those who see a conflict between the Bible and theology and the Bible and interpretation. How can this be, when the Bible is God’s revealed theology to be interpreted within the community of faith? Remember that the chief reason behind theology revealed in the Bible and interpretation is to know God. This can be seen through His plan of salvation, unfolded by means of Jesus Christ, and how the redeemed are to live the life of salvation. If that is not theological and interpreted through Jesus Christ, then what is?

Pause in His presence for a moment and think this over…

[1]Morris, Leon.  New Testament Theology. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1990), 10.
Melbourne Is On Top Of The World…Again! by Ps Jacob Cunningham
Wow, the city of Melbourne is on top of the world...again!
Melbourne has topped the Economist Intelligence Unit’s ranking of the most liveable cities in the world for the seventh year in a row. This annual assessment comprises; stability, healthcare, culture, environment, education and infrastructure across 140 of the world’s leading cities. If you’re reading this blog, the likelihood is that you are therefore also living in this beautiful city.

Now of course, just because you live in an amazing city, it doesn’t guarantee that you will live a life void of difficulty, challenges or pain. But maybe this is a reminder that, you do indeed live in the ‘lucky country.’ This prompts you right now to take a moment to appreciate and be grateful for what you DO have in this life.

It can be very easy to take life’s ‘first-world basics’ for granted. Things like - running water, hot running water (!), electricity, supermarkets stocked full of food, cars and public transportation, education opportunities, a roof over your head, a bed to sleep in at night. I think that you get the gist...

Yes, life can be hard at times, but we really have a lot to be grateful for living life in this amazing city called Melbourne.

The apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippian church says,
Phil 4:11-13 (MSG) “I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.”

This is a great attitude to adopt for our own lives - being content no matter what life throws our way.

Could I encourage you today, to stop reading this blog, and take a minute and list three things that you’re grateful for in your life today? Speak them out aloud and appreciate the life you get to live.