Having hope in Christ and building strong relationships with other believers.
Contributed By Melissa Chen
|CN PHOTO: Albert Soh|
Mark Conner is the senior minister of CityLife Church, with a Doctor of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary. An old friend of CHC, the preacher is known for his inspiring and empowering messages on leadership, motivation and church growth.
Conner preached on anchoring a believer’s hope on Jesus in times of hopelessness during the Saturday services, and on Sunday, he spoke on the seven practical steps in building effective relationships. He told the congregation that Christians are living in a time of great paradox where knowledge is accelerating and doubling, bombarding people with many questions.
Quoting verses from Proverbs 13:12, Jeremiah 29:1 and Romans 15:13, Conner encouraged the congregation with God’s future plans for believers, which is a promise of hope and prosperity. He then listed out the root causes of hopelessness in life—childhood memories, painful past issues, genetics, environment and thoughts. As such, Conner exhorted the believers to renew their minds and went on to share the “ABCDs” of renewing of the mind which are: Adversity, Beliefs, Consequences, and Disputes.
Conner explained that how one regards their adversity will invariably affect them. Subsequently, beliefs will affect behavior and emotions. Conner urged the congregation to learn to question themselves about the accuracy and truth of any thought they encounter and to dispute negativity by bringing into captivity every thought to Christ. Since a negative thought will attract other negative thoughts and would eventually form a stronghold in a person’s life, believers should therefore always focus on Jesus; the anchor of hope for Christians. Believers can have hope in Christ through three ways: by knowing the promise of His presence, the promise of His purpose and that He will keep His promise to His children.
Ng Kee Peng, a secondary school counselor said of the message, “The sermon is a very practical model to illustrate how our beliefs affect our reaction toward adversities. This will definitely help me in my work with youth!”
On Sunday, Conner shared the seven steps of connecting to others. Firstly, Jesus possessed the art of acceptance; acceptance expels the tendency of being judgmental. Secondly, Jesus knew the art of listening; He engaged the people by asking questions. Next, Jesus looked beyond the person’s needs and words and looked at the heart because He had the art of empathy, and was thus able to minister to them in their situation. Jesus also had the art of authenticity that was seen in Matthew 26:36-38 where He revealed His overwhelming emotions to His three closest friends.
“Our degree of openness equates to our degree of intimacy. Believers don’t have to go about impressing others and losing ourselves,” advised Conner.
Jesus also practiced the art of forgiveness toward those who offended Him. On the art of loving confrontation, one should always speak the truth in love to others; believers need to win others to themselves before they earn the right to minister. Finally, Conner shared, “Encouragement is like oxygen for the soul!” Jesus had the art of encouraging as He gathered the people every Sabbath to encourage them. A single piece of coal cannot burn long by itself but many coals put together can produce a stronger fire; likewise, believers need to look beyond other’s fragility to discover their potential and help one another. Conner reminded the congregation that a believer’s life is about the overflowing hope of Christ and encouraged them to continue creating and building rewarding relationships with others.