Reflections of Psalm 139 (Part 2)

As we continue our reflections on Psalm 139, we move on from the awareness that God is always with us to the understanding that you, like every other human being, are made in the image of God. Let's read on ... Vs.13-15. Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; You formed me in my mother's womb. I thank you, High God — you're breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration —what a creation! Your Identity - A Child of God We all long for a sense of identity and significance. We often search... Read more →


Reflections on Psalm 139 (Part 1)

This beautiful Psalm begins by boldly declaring that God knows all about us, will never let us go, and has been involved with us from our earliest beginnings (vs.1-18). The latter part of the Psalm provides the context - one of feeling the injustice of people who go about doing wrong and need to be held to account (vs.19-23). When we are faced with life's contradictions, with personal challenges, or opposition from others, it's good to remind ourselves of these truths about God: God With Us Vs.3-5. I'm never out of your sight ... I look behind me and you're... Read more →


Pass the Baton: Successful Leadership Transition

CityLife Church, located in Melbourne Australia, had three Senior Ministers in the first 50 years of it's history. Richard Holland was the founding pastor and led the church for 20 years, followed by my father, Kevin Conner, who led the church for the next 8 years. I was the Senior Minister for the next 22 years before passing the baton in February of this year to Andrew Hill. [Read my announcement on 28th February 2016] Like any relay race, passing the baton effectively is vital for any organisation, including a local church. I wrote about this a few years ago,... Read more →


Living with JOY

Over the last month or so, I have been gradually reading through the book of Psalms in The Message Bible translation. It's a wonderful collection of songs and poetry, expressing the full range of human emotion: disappointment, frustration, anger and hope, as well as praise, worship and joy. One of the most well known Psalms is Psalm 100 - which is a call to worship. It begins by declaring, "Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!" The next line is "Serve (or worship) the Lord with gladness (or joy)." Every day, as we go about our life,... Read more →


Dealing with Depression (Part 10)

Hope for the Future The amazing thing about Elijah is that, despite his incredible bout of depression, he continued to minister. God helped him to honour his physical body, he learnt to observe his thinking then renew his mind, God provoked him to action, and then God moved him back into relationship. Elijah lived on. In fact, what is quite humorous is that the biblical record tells us Elijah never died, even though he experienced a suicidal episode. How good is that! Apparently, he went straight up to heaven. When you feel depressed, it can seem as if you will... Read more →


Dealing with Depression (Part 9)

Establish Supportive Relationships The final lesson we learn from the story of Elijah is to establish supportive relationships. You will notice that Elijah had left his servant just prior to this episode of depression and during this entire incident, he was alone. Look at the story again. Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he... Read more →


Dealing with Depression (Part 8)

Provoke Yourself to Action To break free from depression we first honour our body and then we observe our thinking. The next step is to provoke ourselves to action. Here is what God said next to Elijah. Then the Lord told (Elijah), “Go back the same way you came, and travel to the wilderness of Damascus. When you arrive there, anoint Hazael to be king of Aram. Then anoint Jehu son of Nimshi to be king of Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from the town of Abel-meholah to replace you as my prophet. Anyone who escapes from Hazael... Read more →


Dealing with Depression (Part 7)

Observe Your Thinking The next step in dealing with depression is to observe your thinking. Let’s keep reading the story. There (Elijah) came to a cave, where he spent the night. But the Lord said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:9) After the angel attended to Elijah’s physical well-being, God met personally with Elijah. In the course of conversation, God asked Elijah a question – “What are you doing here?” We need to understand that when God asks a question, it is not because he lacks information. In the garden, when God said, “Adam, where... Read more →


Dealing with Depression (Part 6)

Let’s use the word HOPE as an acronym and draw four principles out of the story of Elijah for finding freedom from depression. Honour Your Body The first step in dealing with depression is to honour your physical body. Let’s keep reading. Then (Elijah) lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!” He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again. Then the angel... Read more →


Dealing with Depression (Part 5)

Let us look a bit more in depth at one person in Bible times that went through an incredible battle with depression. His name is Elijah. Yes, the great prophet Elijah. Elijah was a prophet in Israel during the time of King Ahab. Ahab was far from God and most of the nation was worshipping a foreign god by the name of Baal. Elijah preached during this time and there had been no rain for three years because of God’s judgment on the people’s rebellion. Elijah then called for a confrontation. He told the people that they had to make... Read more →


Dealing with Depression (Part 4)

Biblical Examples of Depression God is very interested in the practical areas of our life, including emotions such as depression. If you look up at the word ‘depression’ in a concordance, you will not find many verses in the Bible on depression, but the concept of discouragement, despair, low mood, and depression are mentioned frequently throughout. In fact, some of the heroes of the faith experienced depression. Consider the man Job and listen to what he had to say: "Oh, that I might have my request, that God would grant my desire. I wish he would crush me. I wish... Read more →


Dealing with Depression (Part 3)

Attitudes toward Depression Unfortunately, there is a stigma attached to depression, along with a great deal of ignorance and misunderstanding. Some people think that depression is a sign of weakness and that strong people never get depressed. This is simply not true. Winston Churchill was one of the great political and military leaders of the twentieth century. He led the allied forces in World War II to victory over Hitler. Yet he suffered regularly with depression. In fact, he labeled his depression, ‘the black dog.’ There were many days in his life when the black dog was in the room.... Read more →


Dealing with Depression (Part 2)

Symptoms of Depression Depression is a complex subject, as it can take on many different forms and it has a variety of causes, as well as symptoms. Unlike a physical injury or illness, depression is hard to ‘see’, but it is no less painful or difficult to work through. Depression affects people in a wide variety of different ways. Symptoms of depression may include a negative change in thought, in mood, or in behaviour. Depression can happen to everyone in varying degrees or levels - from mild (feeling ‘down’) to very serious (even becoming suicidal). When it comes to a... Read more →


Dealing with Depression (Part 1)

Back in 2002, I went through what could be called an emotional valley. It took everything within me to get through the day. Each appointment, meeting, task or project seemed like an insurmountable mountain that I had to somehow climb. I was relieved when something was over and I did not experience much joy or pleasure during any of these activities. It was like a cloud had settled in over my heart and mind. Everything was bleak, like someone had closed the window shutters. In the natural, nothing was going wrong. My family life was good, as was work and... Read more →


The Priority of LOVE (Part 6) - Visible Love

Known by Our Love Jesus’ dream was that his followers would be known by their love (John 13:34-35). Think of all the various qualities Jesus could have told us to be known for – truth, justice, holiness, or righteousness. All of these are very important, yet Jesus’ desire was that LOVE be the mark, the measure, and the goal for his new community – the church. I Want to Know What love Is Love is such a misunderstood word and concept today. It can mean anything from friendship to romance to sex. Jesus came to demonstrate a love of another... Read more →


The Priority of LOVE (Part 5) - Tough Love

Jesus calls us to a life of love. Sometimes love has to be tough, especially when there has been a conflict. Arguments and disagreements separate people and create division between friends, families, communities, and even in the church. It takes a great deal of courage, wisdom, and sensitivity to resolve conflicts and restore relationships. Jesus understood that conflict would occur and he prepared his followers for these times. He warned against anger and made reconciliation a priority for disciples (Matthew 5:21-23). He commanded loving confrontation and taught a clear process for sorting out differences (Matthew 18:15-17). He expected his followers... Read more →


The Priority of LOVE (Part 4) - Awkward Love

The Christian God exists eternally in a Trinity of loving relationships – Father, Son, and Spirit. God created us as the object of his love and invites us to participate in a community of loving friendships. As we fully understand how much God loves us, we are able to love others from a strong foundation of acceptance, significance, security, and purpose. A Community Characterised by Forgiveness Because of sin, loving others is not always easy. In fact, sometimes it is awkward. This is especially so when people act in ways that offend or cause hurt to us. Situations such as... Read more →


The Priority of LOVE (Part 3) - I Am Loved

The foundation of our love for others is a revelation of God’s love for us. The most important question in your life is not how much you love others or even how much you love God. It is how much do you think God loves you. Everything flows from this. Once we grasp and fully understand how much God loves us and allow that love to transform our lives, we are in a much better place to reach out in love to those around about us. In contrast, when we are unaware of God’s love for us, we can tend... Read more →


The Priority of LOVE (Part 2) - Original Love

Relationships in Turmoil Despite the fact that there are many good things happening in our world today, it doesn’t take a lot of insight to realize that we are a time of turmoil – especially in our relationships. At our very core, human beings are relational creatures. We have this tendency to ‘herd’ - to want to be together with other people. Deep inside, we have longings for belonging, for acceptance, for love, for intimacy and for meaning – all of which are found in a relationship with others. Yet despite our obvious need and our best efforts, there is... Read more →


The Priority of LOVE (Part 1)

The fairly new church in the bustling seaport city of Corinth back in AD 65 was booming. It was a dynamic charismatic and Pentecostal community attracting pagans and religious people alike. The meetings were pumping - inspiring worship times, sensational preaching, insightful teaching, as well as regular healings and miracles. It was the place to encounter God. The Holy Spirit was at work in powerful ways. But something was wrong. In the midst of all the growth and hype about this church, a kind of spiritual cancer had subtly set in. Yes, it was good at pretty much everything ...... Read more →