A perpetual dialogue of gratitude

large_be-grateful-titleBlessed Thanksgiving to all!

Even if you live in parts of the world where this national holiday is not celebrated, please join us in giving thanks! God’s call for all of us is to be an extravagantly grateful people. When our gratitude diminishes, our joy goes with it, and life becomes a more difficult journey.

Reflect for a moment on a few points about gratitude from Scripture.

1. A moderately grateful person or Church is not walking in the will of God, by the power of the Spirit of God or in the way of love.

  • The will of God – “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. ” (I Thessalonians 5:18)
  • The Spirit-filled life – be filled with the Spirit … always giving thanks to God the Father for everythingin the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:18, 20).
  • The life of love – “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (I Corinthians 13:7, NLT).

2. A grumbler and faultfinder is certainly not a hope-filled witness to the good news of what God has done for us through Christ.

  • “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky” (Philippians 2:14-15, NLT)
  • “These people are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage” (Jude 16).

Some final thoughts on thankfulness

  • The Christian life cannot be lived as God intended apart from a perpetual dialogue of gratitude toward God and others. Initiate an intentional dialogue of thankfulness today. Start with a purposeful week of gratitude ands watch how it grows. What if God made you live today on only those things you thanked Him for yesterday? 
  • We all have bad days when we’re not the most cheerful persons. And there are proper ways to express disappointment. Yet we need to become more mindful of our witness for Christ if our attitudes are creating a negative reputation.
  • Those who walk in God’s will are distinguished by a grateful and gracious disposition. How can we expect people to believe our message of hope when our lives do not reflect hope? How can grouchy people share a gospel of grace? So if you’re a critical, crabby, grumpy grumbler, please don’t tell people you’re a follower of Jesus Christ.
  • Have you become a moderately grateful person? Are you slow to give thanks and quick to complain? Your heart has drifted from the Lord if you fit these descriptions.
  • I invite you to turn to the one who can restore the joy of your salvation and learn to be amazed each day that God, “does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities” (Psalm 103:10).
  • Remind yourself each day of something that cannot be changed no matter the circumstances of this life — “God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (II Corinthians 5:21).

with gratitude,

Steve Cornell 

Misreading the Bible

Originally posted on WisdomForLife:

God makes significant concessions to meet us where we live. His justice makes these concession necessary; His mercy makes them possible.

Should this truth influence the way we understand the Bible? Since the Bible addresses violent and evil people where they live, we should not be surprised to find some really horrible things in it. The whole project of humanity is happening under merciful divine concession.

The fact of divine concession started early in history and it set the tone for all of the ways of God with humanity. If we do not pause long over this fact, we’ll likely misunderstand God and misread the rest of the story of God’s dealings with humanity. Look closely at this truth of divine concession:

“‘Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all…

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10 goals for parents

In raising four children, like most parents, we tried to build positive character traits in their lives. These are traits necessary for both surviving and thriving in the world.

Yet we had to be careful in our efforts because positive traits can easily become negatives. Life is so often a balancing act.

So we tried to be more conscious about what I call trimming the positives to protect them from the negatives. 

Discuss with other parents ways that you could build the 10 positive traits below into the lives of your children without allowing the negatives to destroy the positives.

Your strategy as parents will likely have to change based on the personality, temperament and challenges related to each child. And never forget that your example will be the most important factor in shaping their lives.

Positives without negatives

  1. Confident without being arrogant.
  2. Humble without being weak.
  3. Determined without being stubborn.
  4. Teachable without being gullible.
  5. Friendly without being naive.
  6. A servant without being an enabler.
  7. Merciful without being undiscerning.
  8. Discerning without being a critic.
  9. Capable without being overly self-reliant.
  10. Godly without being Pharisaic.

Steve Cornell

Four marks of an Antagonist

Originally posted on WisdomForLife:

In his insightful book, Antagonists in the Church, Kenneth C. Haugk wrote that there are people simply bent on antagonistic behavior. He calls them “antagonists” and insists that these people must be identified and dealt with for the sake of church unity.

His book offers, among other things, a personality profile and a manual for dealing with the person who “stirs up dissension among brothers.”

“Antagonists,” he wrote, “try to build themselves up by tearing others down. They express their inner struggles with a negative self-concept by attacking people, enjoying the failures and misfortunes of others while they project their own sense of worthlessness onto them.”

Four Descriptions of Antagonists: 

Personality profile of dangerous people:

  1. Narcissism: “Narcissism is a personality pattern in which a person displays an excessive sense of self-importance and preoccupation with eliciting the admiration and attention of others … a narcissistic individual greedily fishes for and hungrily devours…

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Divisive people – two warning signs

Originally posted on WisdomForLife:

“I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people” (Romans 16:17-18).

“These people are grumblers and fault-finders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage” (Jude 16).

Two characteristics of people who cause division in local Churches or small groups:

1. Narcissism: 

“Narcissism is a personality pattern in which a person displays an excessive sense of self-importance and preoccupation with eliciting the admiration and attention of others … a narcissistic individual greedily fishes for and hungrily devours the praise and attention of others … Narcissistic individuals who are antagonists are extremely reluctant to admit wrongdoings. They cannot conceive of being…

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Prayer of confession about care ministry

As I’ve been doing a series of messages about care ministry in the Church, I found this prayer focused on care ministry. Take a few moments to reflect on this deep and searching prayer.

King of heaven, We confess before you the pride, fear, and selfishness that closes our eyes to hurting people around us. Though we share their flesh and blood, we are quick to look away when their suffering and brokenness make us uncomfortable. Instead of looking at them and seeing their great need, we quickly walk away, and turned toward people who make us feel good.

Forgive us for the help that we should have offered this week that we did not. Forgive us for the help that we offered for sinful reasons: to feel proud and superior, to purchase friendship, or to put people in our debt. Forgive us for the times when our hearts have been full of resentment and bitterness toward hurting people for needing us, and toward you for asking us to help them.

Lord, we cannot obey you with pure hearts and minds. Thank you that in your deep love for us you have not despised and abhorred us in our great affliction, but treasured us and sent your Son to rescue us.

Jesus, you see our great need and are not ashamed of us. We are crippled and afflicted by weakness and sin, but you rushed to rescue us. You took on the weakness of our human bodies and entered our sin– infested world in order to live the life we could not live.

Thank you for seeing the needs of those around you, for loving them in their brokenness, and serving them with pure compassion, clean hands, and a pure heart. Thank you for your perfect obedience, which is credited to us, even though we continue to struggle every day with selfish hearts that lack compassion.

Holy spirit, melt our hard hearts, for we cannot soften them. Cause us to see how we have been rescued by our great Savior, and give us the desire and ability to open our eyes, to look around us, to see people as they are, and to love them deeply from a heart of gratitude and concern. Help us to enter the worlds of others, to celebrate with them, to grieve with them, and to walk alongside him with caring hearts and hands that are ready to help.

May we grow into people who love as we have been loved and who serve as we have been served. Amen.’ (from: Prone to Wander) (Thank you Tim Challies for posting this)

A great message from a good friend

I was in the audience to hear this message from Crawford Loritts. After the message, we spent the entire afternoon enjoying deep and rich fellowship. Crawford and I met when we shared pulpit ministry at Sandy Cove Conference Center. He was later our guest speaker at the 20th anniversary of our Church. While golfing one afternoon on that occasion, he shared with me his new direction to become the senior pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, GA.

I heard many great teachers at the conference where this message was delivered, but Crawford’s message was the best — by far! Don’t miss his four closing points!