Discovering Your Life Purpose (Part 1)

Take a moment to think back to when you were a child (for some of us, that is a little further back than for others!). Question: “What did you want to be when you grew up?” Maybe you dreamt of being an astronaut or a scientist or a movie star? We all had ideas of what the future might be. Sometimes those dreams become a reality, while at other times they don’t. Some of us are really clear on who and what we want to be. Others aren’t quite sure or our desires change over time.

As a kid, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be when I grew up. I had a neighbor who had lots of pets so early on I wanted to be a naturalist. I built myself a wooden ‘run’ in the backyard where I kept a few long-necked turtles and blue tongue lizards as pets. But after they either escaped or died, I lost interest in that pursuit. Then I wanted to be an architect. I was really good at three-dimensional perspective drawings but my handwriting wasn’t that neat. Then I wanted to be a cabinet maker. But after a week of work experience while in high school at a cabinet making shop, the fascination of that career died, mainly due to me spending hours sweeping up wood shavings up every day!

During my studies, I dabbled in many different jobs – working for a building renovator, a bookbinder, and a printer. Then eventually I ended up working in jobs involving music, youth work, and ultimately in various church leadership roles.

Whatever our story may be, one thing we ALL have in common is a desire to be useful. I have yet to meet a person whose aim in life was to be useless! Most people want to do something meaningful and significant in their life. They want to make a difference in the world. All of this is deep inside of us, whether we’re aware of it or not and whether we respond to it or not. As humans, we are hard-wired for a purpose. It’s in our very DNA.

I would like to suggest that our life purpose isn’t something we decide but rather something we discover. Have you ever heard that statement, “You can be anything you want to be!” It sounds good. It’s just not true! I am 6 foot 5 inches tall (using the old scale) and 100 kilograms. I will never be a jockey! I’d kill the horse 🙂 You CAN’T be anything you want to be. If you don’t believe me, just watch some of these popular talent shows on TV. You’ll inevitably see some sweet teenager whose aunt told them they would be the next Mariah Carey or Justin Timberlake. As soon as they sing those first few notes, you’ll probably go, “Nah”. You get the point.

Could it be that our Creator designed each one of us with a purpose in mind? Paul, the author of much of the New Testament, believed so and once wrote these words:

“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:8-10. NLT

Notice that God’s love and acceptance of every human being is based on ‘grace’ – it is a free gift and not dependant on anything we have or can do to earn it. Most religions, including Christianity, forget that! We think it is about ‘grace plus …’ Anyway, that’s another subject.

Paul goes on to say that we are God’s ‘masterpiece’. Other translations use the word ‘workmanship’ or ‘handiwork’. The Greek word is poiema and it literally means a ‘work of art’. Yes, YOU and I are a work of art (not ‘a piece of work’!).

We were created (crafted or shaped) to do certain ‘good things’ prepared in advance for us to do. That means we need to take some time to reflect on – to discover – our uniqueness.

In another letter, Paul says this …

“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” Galatians 6:4-5. The Message Bible.

In many ways, you were born ‘pre-packaged’. You have been fully equipped you for your life purpose. So, what is in your suitcase? Have you taken time to discover what has already been invested in you?

Tomorrow, I’ll share a few suggestions to help you with the discovery process.

Gone

None of us like to talk about death. It is an enemy that steals away the ones we love. My step-mum, Rene Conner passed away recently. It’s been hard for all for all of us, but especially for my dad. I was walking through their home a few days back – so empty now. A flourishing garden, but no one to care for it now. I sketched the following poem after that.

Just like that
Gone for good
Not coming back
Life is over

Sobering and surreal
The frailty of life
In a moment
It is no more

Memories
Moments
History
Relationships

What really matters?
What lasts?
What’s it all about?
What are we living for?

Left it all behind
Stuff and more stuff
Meaningless now
Of no use at all

The grief and the loss
The tears and the pain
Left behind
We still remain

A hole in the heart
A missing limb
Part of us gone
Never to return

Our life goes on
Each day a gift
No guaranteed future
Will tomorrow come?

Live to the full
Be in the moment
Give it your all
Only love lasts

NEW Book: “The Spiritual Journey – Understanding the Stages of Faith”

In December last year, one of my goals for 2018 was to publish three books. Well, number three was released a few weeks ago. It’s called The Spiritual Journey: Understanding the Stages of Faith. I am really excited about it as I believe this material will be of help to many people in their spiritual journey, whether seekers, beginners, or experienced travellers.

When you are on a journey, it helps to have a map of the terrain and a guide to help you along the way. In this book, I present such a map and seek guide people through the stages of faith that are common to the spiritual journey. This journey is rarely linear or in a straight line. There are many curves, twists and surprises along the way. Sometimes we seem to move in circles or in random patterns that don’t make sense at the time. Nevertheless, God is at work in our lives. Welcome to the journey of faith.

The book can be purchased from WORD in Australia or internationally from Amazon in either paperback or eBook format.

Here are a few endorsements:

Continue reading “NEW Book: “The Spiritual Journey – Understanding the Stages of Faith””

What Happens After Death?

Life is a gift – to be enjoyed and lived to the full. Yet life is uncertain and death is inevitable. In many ways, life is like a room with two doors. We enter through the door of birth and we leave through the door of death. There is a “time to be born and a time to die”. None of us knows the distance between those two doors.

Let’s face it, death is not something we like to talk about. Sometimes we live as if we’ll never die. No wonder, we are often unprepared for it (see my recent poem called Gone). The truth is, all of us have an appointment with death. No one escapes it. The last time I checked, the death rate was running at about 100%.

Some of the common questions people ask today are, “What happens after death?” and “Is there an afterlife?”

There has been some intriguing research done on near-death experiences. Of people who have been close to death, about 40 percent report a similar pattern: an experience of journeying through a tunnel, a burst of light, a feeling of being in the presence of a loving reality, quite often accompanied by a sense of being out of one’s body.

The last component sometimes includes a sense of being able to see one’s body from a vantage point beyond the body. A significant number of reports include details about what was going on that the person could not have witnessed from within his or her body.

This is very interesting, because if our consciousness and perception can even momentarily be separate from our bodies, then the modern linkage between the brain and human consciousness is called into question, and we have no idea what is possible beyond death. Just because a body stops breathing or a brain shuts down, doesn’t mean the person ceases to exist.

There are a wide variety of ways people have thought about this through history, including Christians and those of other religions. So, what happens after death – is it heaven, hell, purgatory, reincarnation, soul sleep, or nothing?

If heaven, are we the same person – or different? Will there be family reunions in heaven? Most funeral sermons suggest so. If so, is this good news or bad news? If you liked your family, this may be good news but if you didn’t, maybe not! Eternity with these people!?

The truth is that none of us knows for sure what happens after death. Of course, our beliefs are important but simply believing something doesn’t make it a reality.

Continue reading “What Happens After Death?”

Rene Conner Passes Away

Early last Thursday morning, my step-mum, Rene Conner passed away peacefully in her sleep at the Ringwood Private Hospital. She was 89 years of age. It was really hard to see her go but we are glad that she is now free from pain and discomfort. My 91-year-old dad found it very hard, as you can imagine.

Today we have a public thanksgiving service for her at CityLife Church at 12.30 pm Melbourne time.

UPDATE 21st October: You can watch the video recording of the service online at this linkI have summarised part of my message from the service in a post called “What Happens After Death?” and I wrote a poem recently called Gone.

Below is a brief eulogy of Rene’s life.

Continue reading “Rene Conner Passes Away”

Navigating the Storms of Life

Navigating the Storms of Life (JPEG)

Nahum 1:3. The LORD has His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet. NKJV

The book of Nahum is one of the 12 minor prophets found at the end of the Old Testament. Nahum lived in the seventh century BC during a time of great political upheaval due to the rise of the Assyrian Empire. His messages sought to encourage God’s people who were being oppressed by a seemingly invincible foe. The book opens with a song of praise to God for his power and justice. The spectacular manifestations of nature are symbolic of his power. Continue reading “Navigating the Storms of Life”

Stormy Winds

The-perfect-storm-michael-swanson

Have you ever been in the middle of a storm – a literal one or maybe a storm of adverse circumstances? I sure have – many of them and of all kinds. In fact, just over three years ago, Nicole and I were in the middle of what felt like a perfect storm. It was bigger and more fierce than anything we had ever experienced before and it was totality beyond our ability to control or navigate. There were headwinds blowing at us from multiple directions. Everything seemed to be shaking and we felt like we were in a spin of ginormous proportions. Continue reading “Stormy Winds”

Kid’s Humor (Part 2)

Children-laughing-together
I love kids. Especially their sense of humor.

No wonder Jesus loved them too. I love the story about Jesus and some children that is recorded in the Gospel of Mark (10:13-16) …

“One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch them and bless them, but the disciples told them not to bother him. But when Jesus saw what was happening, he was very displeased with his disciples. He said to them, ‘Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I assure you, anyone who doesn’t have their kind of faith will never get into the Kingdom of God.’ Then he took the children into his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.” [NLT]

Here are some of my favorite kids’ letters to the pastor.

  • “Dear Pastor, I’m sorry I can’t put more money in the offering, but my father didn’t give me a raise in my pocket money. Could you have a sermon about a raise in my pocket money?” Patty (10)
  • “Dear Pastor, How does God know the good people from the bad people? Do you tell him or does he read about it in the
    newspapers?” Marie (9)
  • “Pastor, I know God loves everybody but he never met my sister.” Arnold (8)
  • “Dear Pastor, I would like to go to heaven someday because I know my brother won’t be there.” Stephen (8)
  • “Dear Pastor, I liked your sermon on Sunday. Especially when it was finished.” Ralph (11)

Enjoy 🙂

Kid’s Humor (Part 1)

Laughing_kids
I hope you had an enjoyable Father’s day a few weeks back. It’s a happy day for many people as we take time to thank and honor our dads. But not for all. Maybe you always wanted to be a dad but it hasn’t happened OR you had an absent or abusive father OR maybe you didn’t even know your dad. That can be hard. May you know God’s comfort and strength.

My dad is 91 years of age now and he grew up in a Salvation Army boys home, never knowing his dad or mum. That was incredibly difficult for him but after he married my mum he tried to be the dad he never had to my sister and me.

When our kids were little, when father’s or mother’s day came around one of them was bound to say, “When’s kids day??” Of course, I told them that every day was kid’s day. I love children – their sense of wonder, their frequent laughter, and even their mischievousness.

I thought today I would post a few funnies from the kids of this world … enjoy!

Kid’s Doctrine – taken straight from Sunday Schools around the world:

  • “The first book of the Bible is the book of geniuses in which Adam and Eve were created from an apple tree.”
  • “Noah’s wife’s name was Joan of Arc.”
  • “Lot’s wife was a pillar of salt by day and a ball of fire by night.”
  • “Samson slayed the Philipines with the axe of the apostles.”
  • “Unleavened bread is bread that is made without ingredients.”
  • Moses went to the top of Mount Sianide to get the 10 commandments and the seventh one is, ‘Thou shalt not admit adultery’.”
  • “Solomon had 300 wives and 700 porcupines.”
  • “Jesus was born because Mary had an immaculate contraption.”
  • “The people who followed Jesus were the 12 decibels.”
  • “The epistles were the wives of the apostles.”
  • “A Christian should only have one wife. That’s called monotony.”

[Source: Unknown]

NEW Book Release: “How to Avoid Burnout: Five Habits of Healthy Living”

How to Avoid Burnout (Front Cover) copyThis year I set a goal of writing three new books. Early in the year, I released Money Talks: Practical Principles for Becoming Financially Free which has already helped a lot of people.

I am excited to announce the recent release of How to Avoid Burnout: Five Habits of Healthy Living. Continue reading “NEW Book Release: “How to Avoid Burnout: Five Habits of Healthy Living””

Ancient Celtic Christianity

C
Have you ever heard of ‘Celtic Christianity’ or ‘Celtic spirituality’?

It refers to the form of Christian faith that existed among the Celtic-speaking people of Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales during the Early Middle Ages. Although, we don’t know everything we’d like to know about these people, we can glean much from their writings and the historical narrative of their era.  Continue reading “Ancient Celtic Christianity”

NEW Book Release: “How to Avoid Burnout”

I am excited to announce the release of my latest book “How to Avoid Burnout – Five Habits of Healthy Living.”

Here is the description:

“In a world of rapid change, growing complexity and increasing pressure, stress and burnout are becoming far too common. In this practical book, Mark Conner shares five habits for healthy living, gleaned from his decades of experience as an organizational leader and Christian minister.” Continue reading “NEW Book Release: “How to Avoid Burnout””

Could You Live to 100 Years of Age? (Part 4)

100
Peter Drucker,
the father of modern management, once noted that we are the first generation to have two lives – a first half and a second half. Over a hundred years ago, many people lived to only 45-50 years of age. Now, as we have seen in this series of posts, many people are living well into their 70s and 80s … and some well beyond this (100+ and 110+).  Continue reading “Could You Live to 100 Years of Age? (Part 4)”