home > Pastor’s Desk > 2022 > October 7th > Who Builds A City On A Hill

For those who don’t know, I was born in Geelong, and have always been fan of the Geelong Football Club. But I’m not just a fan, I’m a paid-up member of the Club. In fact, I’m a student of AFL (as one of my recent Pastor’s Desk illustrated). Coincidentally, at the start of the AFL season this year I was invited to preach in Victoria by a good friend, Jim. Jim used to pastor in a large inner-city Melbourne church then a few years ago had a sea-change when he and Robyn moved to the country to pastor a historic church. Normally when I am invited to speak at a church I speak at meetings on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. But Pastor Jim said we were not going to do any meeting on Saturday—instead, we were going to Melbourne to watch the opening AFL game of the season between his team, the Essendon Bombers and my team, the Geelong Cats. And when I say “his” team, I mean Jim is just as passionate about the Bombers as I am about the Cats – except that Jim is able to make it to most of their games. And while my team ended up winning the season and then the Grand Final, Jim’s team ended the season in turmoil.

Controversial Victorian Premier Daniel AndrewsMr Andrew ThorburnOn Wednesday, Pastor Jim rang me and asked if I had heard the news that the Bombers had just appointed a new CEO? But more importantly, he wanted to know if I had heard that the appointment of the former CEO of the National Australia Bank, Andrew Thorburn, as the new CEO of the Essendon Bombers had aroused such hostility from a particular journalist? Apparently the journalist had taken great offence that Mr. Thorburn was the Chairman of an Anglican Church, City On A Hill, which actually believed what Jesus taught about the sacredness of life, the sanctity of marriage, and the sanctitude of sex. While journalists are often unaware (in my experience) of what Jesus Christ taught and Christianity represents, Premiers — such as Dan Andrews — is actually expected to be aware of it! Instead, Premier Andrews accused Mr Thorburn of being ‘homophobic’ and said that the Essendon Football Club should not associate with such people. What followed was that some journalists began referring to the church – City on a Hill – as a cult with extremist ideas such as “anti-abortion”. This accusation illustrates just how Biblically-illiterate many in our culture have now become.  



The Cross

The universal symbol of Christianity is the cross. The symbol of the cross, now worn as jewellery around people’s necks, symbolises love, peace, sacrificial care, and the work of Christ. But the cross, the instrument of the Roman Empire’s most violent vengeance and wrath upon those who dared to defy them, stood as a despised symbol of the ultimate humiliation and pain.

¶ For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing,
but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
First Corinthians 1:18

And being found in human form,
He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Philippians 2:8

The Church

Cities are always built near abundant fresh water or harbours – not on top of hills! Which is why the choice for the ancient location Israel’s capital, Jerusalem, was very odd because it was built on a hill where there was no water (a problem creatively solved by King Hezekiah in 2Kings 20:20). Jerusalem was chosen by God to be His city which was to be a statement and a wonder to the surrounding nations. Coincidentally, Christ said that His followers would be “a city on a hill”.

¶ “You are the light of the world.
A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
Matthew 5:14

In other words, Christ’s followers would be a wonder to the world that would defy reason (Jn. 17:20-21). By describing them with the odd expression “a city on a hill” Christ was describing the spiritually supernatural nature of His followers united together as the church. The Church is unlike any other organisation or corporation on earth! While companies and governments need masses of money to solve their many problems, the Church taps into its supernatural resources of prayer, spiritual gifts, ministries, and servant-hearted volunteers, and can often solve the same problems at a fraction of the cost. 


In the Greco-Roman world into which Christ entered humility was seen as weakness. The most despised role in the Greco-Roman world was that of a slave. Yet, after Christ came as a humble servant, the world no longer regarded humility or servant-hearted leadership as weaknesses – but as virtues.

Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me,
for I am gentle and lowly in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
Matthew 11:29

Love, Sex, and Gender

The basis of relationships in the Greco-Roman world was often transactional – that is, people would form alliances through treaties or marriage contracts. Love rarely entered into the equation. But when Jesus came He taught that the basis of relationships and interactions with other people – and especially marriage between a man and woman – was love.

¶ “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
Matthew 5:43-44

Christ’s description of marriage included statements about how His Father created all people as either male or female and that human bodies are created sacred, and sexual. Jesus said that sexual union was designed by God to be exclusively between a husband and wife (“the two become one flesh”) –

He [Jesus] answered, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said,
‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?
So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Matthew 19:4-6



The Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne, Rev. Dr. Philip FrierWhen the journalist and then the Premier of Victoria accused both Andrew Thorburn and A City on a Hill church of being anti-abortion and homophobic they committed two mistakes. Firstly, they named-called. Whenever someone does not have a case to make they often resort to name-calling. Secondly, they ridiculed people they did not know. Mr Andrew Thorburn is a highly respected corporate leader who has a wealth of corporate leadership experience. A City on a Hill is a church in eight locations around Australia which is under the auspices of the Anglican Church of Australia. It is a highly regarded church that teaches the Word of God and strives to encourage its members to live authentic Christ-following lives. This is why Melbourne Archbishop Philip Frier was quick to defend A City on a Hill and its leadership as godly and Christ-honouring people, including Mr Andrew Thorburn, its Board Chairman. While I feel for the unfair treatment that Mr Thorburn has had to endure, I also feel sad for the Essendon Football Club who would have benefited greatly from the much needed culture change that Mr Thorburn would have instigated. May God continue to bless the members, leaders, and Board of City on a Hill and may God also continue to use them to raise even more Company CEOs of many of Australia’s leading companies, and maybe even a few CEOs of AFL Football teams! So Who builds a city on a hill? Christ does, that’s who!  And He calls it His Church.

Your Pastor,


Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.


  1. LYDIA

    When I began to hear this news grab this week I thought ‘They’re at it again!’ At the same moment I remembered I used to barrack for Port Adelaide. That is a very long time ago and I haven’t thought much at all about the sport since… After reading this Pastor’s Desk which BTW Andrew is a very ‘helpful’ address, it did make me think of the pain that is caused by those who jump at the first sound of a person’s name and assume they know everything, without asking anything or even knowing that person. Journalists do it often and it is rare to find an objective person in this field of the media. In the climate of today where Christianity is under the microscope, those without knowledge jump on the bandwagon where much harm can be done. So the same holds true, if you don’t know, ask, if you are curious, check it out. Many have come to know who Jesus is thru checking it all out and then discovering that the Jesus they thought they knew, they now know.

  2. Blair

    I was sickened, then angry when I heard Dan Andrew’s comments, what a load of uneducated, intolerant biased rubbish. This is just another example of the subtle persecution of the Christian church.
    The interview with the senior pastor by Koshie On Sunrise (look it up on Facebook) was just as sickening where an interviewers sole purpose was to ridicule and denigrate the church and it’s leaders.
    The Word and history make it clear that the church thrives under persecution, may this be the case in Melbourne today, May people be motivated to check out the accusations and then turn to the truth.
    Unfortunately today in our media and in governments there are a lot of “know alls, know nothing) who influence those who want to be influenced
    Good response Andrew

    • Andrew Corbett

      Like I wrote, journalists and politicians are among the most biased and uninformed Blair

  3. Marko Stepanovic

    It is very disappointing that the Essendon FC presented an ultimatum to Mr Thorburn to choose between the club or his Church.
    What is interesting that our new Prime Minister hasn`t said a word.
    I am encouraged though by many commentators and Peter Dutton for standing up for Mr Thorburn and the need for the equality and respect of all Australians and their right to religious beliefs without being persecuted.

    I pray and thank Mr Thorburn for holding onto his faith when challenges arose. He is a good example to the Christian walk.


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Anyone who has attended a large event such as the recent Will Graham Outreach event that was held at the Launceston Silverdome would be familiar with the varying levels of access that are provided to staff and volunteers associated with this type of event. The security system used included identification in the form of different coloured shirts, prayer volunteer cards, and all access cards that permitted access to the entire venue with no questions asked by security personnel. This is like the access level that God has to our lives. Being omnipresent, He has unhindered access to every aspect of our lives. He knows our innermost thoughts, sees all that we do, hears all that we say. God has the ultimate ‘all access’ card.


How can we determine whether a claim is true or false? Some people think there are different kinds of truth — my truth, their truth, and your truth. But how do they know that their assessment of truth is true? After all, their assessment – that there is my/their/your truth might just be based on their truth rather than the truth. Truth has certain qualities that distinguishes it from what is false-
 Truth corresponds to reality.
 Truth is verifiable (that is, if it is true, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is falsifiable (that is, if it is false, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is sometimes testable (that is, claims that are experiential can be tested by experience – including scientific claims, historic claims, and existential claims).
We have good reasons for the believing that the Bible is true because it is the divinely inspired, reliable and authoritative Word of God which has been superintendedly preserved by the Holy Spirit (read more about this).


Parents, Kids Church leaders, and Christian school teachers should be intentional about shaping children to be fully devoted followers of Christ who have reasons for believing Christianity is true – which shapes them into virtuous contributors to society and to find their role in God’s Kingdom. This will be one of the necessary and indispensable means for the Church to fulfil the Great Commission of Christ.


We live in a fast paced world. We expect things to happen quickly. None of us like to be kept waiting. Even when we order something online we expect it delivered straight away. Some of us having to work two or even three jobs just to be able to pay the bills. We describe ourselves as time-poor. Yet, we all get twenty-four-hours in a day. Sixty-minutes in an hour. And sixty-seconds in a minute. Most of us need to adjust how we see, understand, and treat our time. This will involve, what will be for some, adopting a foreign and largely unaccustomed view of time that involves worship, sabbath, and deepening relationships. From this biblical perspective we will come to see time as a gift from God, not a curse, or source of frustration. Within this gift of time God teaches us how to worship in those times when it is difficult to do so. Rather than thinking this divine gift of time is ours to do with what ever we want, God uses this gift to teach us that we should gift it back to Him beginning with (but not limited to) treating Sunday as a sabbath to come together to recommit our hearts, voices, minds, and presence with God’s people, back to God. God gives us passing time to learn to deepen relationships – especially with our kin, and our friends. Time is meant for relationship building. 


One of the greatest lies that the would-be enemy of all our souls attempts to perpetuate is that we are what we are and we can never change. This lie is whispered into the ears of many people’s invisible ears so imperceptibly that they actually think it originated with them. “You were born this way – and you can never change”, “This is who you really are – and you can never change”, “There’s no hope of anything ever changing for better – so you might as well just kill yourself” and so on. But these sly alien voices inside the heads of the vulnerable are lies. People can change. People do change. Some circumstances were always going to be temporary and were always going to change. I know this is true because I am living proof. I am who I am but I am not who I used to be and I am not yet who I will be.


It may well still be the best-selling book of all time – and continues year-by-year to be so – but certainly is not the best-read of our current times! If there was ever any doubt about this, the events this week in Hobart, at St. Mary’s (Catholic) College Girl’s School, should remove all doubt! A furore erupted over the news that the prescribed Scripture reading for the year-end graduation celebration, which incorporated a Mass, was “Wives submit to your husbands” taken from Ephesians. Callers into ABC radio’s breakfast program decried this assault against women – especially young, vulnerable girls. One caller, responding to the news that the text being used was a citation from Ephesians, denounced Ephesians and apparently demanded, “Just who does this Ephesians bloke think he is?!” Another caller stated, “Why are they quoting ancient Roman philosophers in the twenty-first century?!” And yet another caller somehow linked all religious wars to passages like this one in the Bible! He remarked, “I’m an atheist. All wars are started by those who are religious! No war was ever started by atheists!” (Perhaps he had never heard of Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Vladimir Putin, who were collectively responsible for the deaths of over 20,000,000?) This furore led to the Archbishop conceding that the Ephesians passage did not have to be used at the graduation ceremony. But this furore has highlighted just how unaware many Tasmanians are about what the Bible is, what is actually says, and why it says it. And I am now about to correct this deficiency.  


Of the many tributes paid to her majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, was the often noted reflection that during her reign the world underwent a series of rapid changes that were dramatic and unprecedented in human history. There were technological inventions that revolutionised the way people could access international travel options enabling them to be virtually anywhere in the world within a matter of hours. New forms of communication emerged with the development of a global satellite communications network enabling people to watch Neil Armstrong take his one giant leap Live on their black-and-white TV screens (as I did in the corridors of Corio Primary School in 1969). Space exploration, the stuff previously just in the realm of science fiction writers, became a reality with manned and unmanned voyages to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. But the past one hundred years have also been a time of great upheaval with empires crumbling, governments toppled, wars waged, genocides committed, pandemics raging, nations birthed, rulers assassinated, and massive refugee movements from oppressive Islamic and Communist regimes. Added to this has been the demise of professional journalism and the rise of internet-citizen-journalism where it is now common for TV News reports to feature footage taken from someone’s cell-phone which was posted on social media rather than the more expensive option of sending their own film crew there. And while we’re mentioning the internet, let’s not forget to mention – the internet. This alone has possibly been the most monumental change in the way people communicate, work, learn, and shop. But while it was noted that the Queen had witnessed all of these many changes, it was also noted that the Queen herself was an unchanging constant during all these upheavals who brought about a sense of stability, peace and reassurance. To millions of people around the world, she was their rock in a world of turmoil and change. Yet this was only possible because she herself had an immovable, dependable rock upon which she had built her life.


This is not for everyone. If you are already a parent, this is not for you. Instead of reading this I suggest you read one of my other more abstract Pastor’s Desk articles. If you are not a parent and have no intention of ever being a parent, this is not for you. Instead of reading this I suggest you read one of my more weighty articles on FindingTruthMatters.org. If you are not yet a parent and one day hope to become a parent, this is for you. Find a quiet place, take the next six minutes thirteen seconds and use the reading of this article as an investment into your future parenting strategies. I did not invent these guidelines. Like many parents who have also discovered the value of these guidelines, once discovered, they seem obvious. These successful parents probably grew up with own parents who inculcated these guidelines almost intuitively. However, my suspicion is that this is becoming increasingly rarer. As with all true guidelines they are adaptable, flexible, and are not a guarantee of parental success — but if ignored they become the point in the mathematical problem solving where you can see you made an error in your working out. In other words, while these guidelines may not guarantee success, if ignored their neglect almost certainly leads to frustration and disappointment. Here are five indispensable guidelines for every prospective new parent.


I’ve been praying for Penn Jillette for some time now. It began when I first heard him ridicule the Bible and Christianity. My fascination with Penn (and Teller), and other world-class magicians, has been due to my pursuit to develop my craft of preaching. There are a lot of similarities between preachers and magicians (just as there is also a lot similarities between solo musicians and preachers). I seek to learn from magicians about how to keep an audience’s attention, how to tell a story, and how to make a point by employing the element of surprise. But there are some significant differences between what magicians do and what preachers do though. A magician is deliberately deceptive. A preacher is striving to uphold truth in an honest way.


In Australia, it’s football finals time and the U.S. the last Grand Slam event for the year has just concluded. I find a lot of life lessons from observing elite athletes — including and especially those who play football and those who play tennis. Most people might consider football to be a team sport and tennis to be individual sport. But the distinction is not so clear these days. Often times footballers are individually coached by “position coaches” and a tennis player is often just who the public sees of a team of people responsible for the performance of that player. At the time of writing, there are remaining four Australian Rules Football (AFL) teams about to play off in the Preliminary Finals (including my beloved Geelong Cats). Last weekend, Carlos Alcaraz of Spain defeated Casper Ruud of Norway. Both players have intriguing stories which I will mention shortly. In the AFL, after a disastrous last season, the Collingwood Magpies appointed a new coach for this season, Craig McRae. Even though they got off to a slow start this season, under McRae’s oversight ended up having an 11-straight winning streak toward the end of the season and now look like genuine  Premiership contenders. What do Carlos Alcaraz, Casper Ruud, Craig McRae, and the Collingwood football team, all have in common? All the players at the elite level of their sport make an enormous commitment to train, practice, sleep, hydrate, and eat a regulated diet. Yet at the very highest levels in their respective sporting codes the difference between the elite and the extra-elite is no longer skill or fitness. In fact, the difference between them is so applicable to everyday life that it may be the most relevant and do-able thing you hear for a long time. So, think about this.