10 goals for parents

Like most parents, we wanted to build positive character traits in our children. These were traits necessary for both surviving and thriving in the world.

But we had to exercise care in building these traits because I learned in my extensive work with people (especially in counseling) how often positive traits could become negatives. Life is truly balancing act.

This led us to be more conscious about what I call trimming the positives to protect them from the negatives. 

Discuss with others how to practice and teach the 10 contrasts below between positives and negatives.

Your strategy as parents will likely have to change based on the personality, temperament and challenges related to each child. And 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!

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Expect the unexpected with God

Imagine this…

Imagine the looks on the faces of early Church leaders if God had told them that Saul of Tarsus was the one He chose to spread the gospel, plant many churches throughout the Roman empire and write most of the New Testament letters.

I could hear the response: “Lord, we don’t mean to question your judgment, but have you heard about how this man has been opposing you and persecuting believers in Christ?”

We actually know about their hesitation and fear. After his dramatic conversion to Christ, Paul came to Jerusalem and tried to join the disciples, but, “they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple” (Acts 9:26).

It’s not surprising that there was confusion and doubt about Saul’s conversion? He was (on the human level) the least likely man for the calling! So how could it be that God would choose this man to be his foremost evangelist and church planter?

Here is an occasion when people say, “It can’t be done” or “He’s too far gone.” I am sure they thought of Saul of Tarsus as a hardened unbeliever who was the chief antagonist to Christ. And, he was… until…

In his own words,

  • “I persecuted the followers of this way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, as also the high priest and all the council can testify” (Acts 22:4-5).
  • “I went from one synagogue to another to imprison and beat those who believe… And when the blood of Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him” (Acts 22:19-20).
  • “I was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And that is just what I did… I put many of the saints in prison and when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. I tried to force them to blaspheme and in my obsession…I even went to foreign cities to persecute them’ (Acts 26:9-11; cf.Acts 9:1-22; 22:6-16; 26:12-18; Galatians 1:11-16b).
  • Paul referred to himself as “once a blasphemer, a persecutor and a violent man” and “the worst of sinners” (1Timothy 1:13-16).

Paul was a violent man — a man of outrageous disregard for the rights of others. This pictures a man with seething insolent anger. These words offer a very dark picture of the man who, before Christ apprehended him, arrogantly considered himself “blameless” as a Law-keeping Pharisee.

The descriptions of paul as a blasphemer, persecutor and violent man form a picture of an enemy of God. And Paul fully acknowledged that he was God’s enemy (see: Romans 5:8-10.) He wasn’t a pretty good guy or a sincerely religious person. He was a blasphemer, persecutor and violent man!

Expect the unexpected! 

The conversion of Saul of Tarsus to become the apostle Paul and a follower of Christ is one of the most amazing conversions in the history of the church—if not the most amazing. Few events were more unanticipated in the book of Acts than the conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus.

Expect the unexpected with God! Get ready for the predictable to give way to the unpredictable! Stand in awe at the ways of God!

How often God delights in reminding us, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8).

That God would take this man to plant churches in every region throughout the Roman Empire and to pen most of the books of the New Testament (in just three decades) stretches human imagination and credulity! But it is so much like our God!

Paul’s salvation story

Acts 9 tells the story of Paul as a man obsessed with ecclesiastical authority in pursuing Christians to persecute them. But Christ stopped him and took hold of him. A light brighter than the sun appeared — blinding Paul (Saul of Tarsus) and Christ confronted and claimed him! Paul’s short biographical description of his conversion said it well: “I was apprehended by Christ Jesus” or “Christ Jesus took hold of me.” (Philippians 3:12).

In another short summary, he told the dark side of his past and then said, “Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy …. “The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly ” (I Timothy 1:13-14).

Praise God for His mercy and grace! Remember to expect the unexpected with God! Don’t be surprised when the predictable gives way to the unpredictable! Stand in humble awe at the ways of God!

Steve Cornell

* For more on Paul’s salvation story, see - Romans 9:2-4; 1 Cor. 9:1, 16-17; 15:8-10; 2 Cor. 3:4-4:4, 5:16; Gal. 1:11-16; Eph. 3:1-13; Phil. 3:4-11; Col. 1:23-29; Acts 22 and 26.