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 link. I 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.
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”
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”
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)
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.”
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”
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””
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)”
In part 4 and 5 of this series of posts on the possibility of living to 100, we will look at what longevity could mean for our lives. What does a life of significance, rather than mere success, look like? How do we break free from the conventional view of the three-stage life: education, vocation, and then retirement? Continue reading “Could You Live to 100 Years of Age? (Part 3)”
One of the best gifts you can give those you love is to live a long life, Yes, why not plan to be around for a while. Of course, none of us control the number of our days nor do we know how long we will live. But there are things we can do that are within our power that can add to the possibility of a longer … and a healthier life.
I remember early on in our marriage shopping for a new BBQ. The store had a sale on so I bought not only a whiz bang BBQ but also a heap of extras to go with it. In the end, I had overspent and busted our budget plans. It took a few months to recover from that impulse buying spree. Nowadays, when Nicole and I are discussing a possible purchase we will often say to each other, “Let’s not do another BBQs galore!” Continue reading “Beware: Impulse Buying!”
As I teenager I loved to play RISK, a board game similar to Monopoly, but in RISK the goal is to conquer the world, not just own the houses in the neighbourhood. Each player is dealt a certain number of countries and armies to placer on them. Then through the roll of the dice they choose to attack neighbouring countries endeavouring to conquer them and expand their territory. The winner is the one who eventually conquers the world. We played it for hours, even creating multi-day games through treaties and all sorts of secret strategies.
I also loved Geography while growing up and I have been privileged to travel to over 30 countries of our wide world in my fifty-six years on the planet so far.
In 2010, I visited Russia for the first time. I had an invitation to speak at a pastor's conference in Moscow which allowed me to then apply for an entry visa. The visa process was complex. Just ONE of the questions was, "What countries have you visited in the last 10 years (date of entry and departure)?" I needed extra paper for this one and it took hours to backtrack my overseas trips, as you can imagine.
During my first visit to Russia, I found the people to be friendly, very hospitable and they have a terrific sense of humour. I have now been back to Russia four times, having visited St. Petersburg and more recently two trips to Siberia – to the cities of Novosibirsk and Achinsk.
When I visited Siberia for the first time, I suddenly remembered all of those remote Russia regions on the RISK board – places such as Ural, Yakutz, Irkutz and Kamchatka.
Here are a few interesting facts about Russia:
Russia is a huge country. In fact, it is SO big that there are 11 time zones! Think about that.
Moscow is amazing. So many people, so much history, such rich culture and so much traffic!
St. Petersburg is truly one of the most beautiful cities in the world and home to the State Hermitage Museum with over 3 million artefacts including the original of Rembrandt's Prodigal Son painting.
In Siberia, it gets so cold in the winter (-52 Celsius!) that people leave their car engines running 24 hours a day so they don't freeze.
Russia is rich with history and both heroes and villians. If you love reading big books and want to grasp the full sweep of Russia's history, check out the 945 page historical novel by Edward Rutherford called Russka. It is an epic story, covering over 1800 years of Russian history traced through the generations of four families.
Alexander Pushkin is Russia's most famous poet. He influenced many other writers such as Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. Check out my wife's BLOG post on "From Russia with Love" for more about this creative poet.
This old building pictured above (with a huge below ground basement) is in the remote city of Achinsk, Siberia. It was once a storage place for vegetables for the Russian military. When I was there a few weeks ago week it was packed with 3,000 enthusiastic Russian Christians worshipping Jesus. See below for a short video clip.
Hundreds of these people are former drug addicts, alcoholics and criminals whose lives have been literally transformed by their experience of Jesus. Grace is still amazing! It reaches out to every person, even to the remotest places on our planet.
If you can ever visit Russia, please do so … with love.