The Smart Phone?

I love my mobile phone. I have had one ever since they first came out back in the 1990s. I've moved from the Motorola brick size ones ... to the flip lid ... to a few versions of the Nokia ... and now I have my faithful iPhone 6 Plus (no, I never had a Blackberry or a Samsung). I am an 'early adopter' when it comes to technology. I love to have the (almost) latest and greatest. But I probably won't jump right away to the new iPhone 8 or iPhone X (with face recognition!), as amazing as they... Read more →


The Berlin Crows

Nicole and I are nearing the end of our 12 days of touring Germany. The beauty of the stunning scenery of the villages, lakes and mountains of southern Germany has been a stark contrast to the horror of the Dachau Concentration Camp and the Holocaust Museum in Berlin. Reflecting on the genocide of 6 million people (primarily Jews, but also gypsies, gays, the elderly and the disabled) is a sobering experience, not for the faint of heart. Yesterday and today we meandered around the streets of Berlin - a city with plenty of attitude, and it's easy to see why.... Read more →


A New Day

Nicole and I are currently spending 12 days in Germany while on our way to Russia, where I will speak at three church leaders' conferences (in St Petersburg, Moscow and Novosibirsk). Our day is about over here in the northern hemisphere and we have had a wonderful time touring some of the beautiful southern Germany countryside. Today we drove from Triberg in the Black Forest all the way to Fussen where we will visit a few famous castles tomorrow. On the way, we stopped for lunch at Lindau, a picturesque town right on the edge of magnificent Lake Constance with... Read more →


Successful Christian Ministry

I love cooking. Sometimes I discover a new recipe that I am keen to try out on the family. At other times I pull out one my ‘classics’, a recipe that I have used before that everyone already loves. One of those classics is a roast chicken and vegetable meal based on a Jamie Oliver recipe. It is delicious! No wonder it is a hit every time I cook it up. This time last week I was in Adelaide speaking at a ministers' conference for about 250 church leaders. The theme was ‘Growing Leaders to Grow the Church.’ Any time... Read more →


Personal Update from Mark Conner

It is hard to believe that it has been 6 months today since I finished up as Senior Minister of CityLife Church. The month of February this year was such as special time as we celebrated the 50th anniversary of CityLife, had my farewell, and inducted Andrew Hill as the next Senior Minister. These important events all went so well and I look back with gratitude for that. Nicole and I are particularly thankful for the many 'thank you' notes and video messages we received from people both inside and outside of CityLife, as well as the generous gifts from... Read more →


Reflections on Psalm 139 (Part 4)

As we said when we began these reflections, the writer of Psalm 139 was facing many challenges from unjust people and oppressors. In this context, a hymn of adoration was crafted, declaring that (1) God is always with us, (2) God's affections are towards us, and (3) we have a unique purpose. In concluding this journey, the psalmist offers a prayer to God: An Open Book Vs. 23-24. Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I'm about; See for yourself whether I've done anything wrong— then guide... Read more →


Reflections on Psalm 139 (Part 3)

Psalm 139 not only reminds us that (1) God is with us and that (2) we are objects of his affection. It also shows us that we have been crafted for a specific purpose. Crafted for a Purpose Vs. 15. You know me inside and out, You know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, How I was sculpted from nothing into something. Vs. 16. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; All the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my... Read more →


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 →