Are you a hypocrite?

Why are we willing to see the faults in others but quick to turn a blind eye to our own faults? 

  • Do you tend to overlook the dark things in your life or family by telling yourself that you’re doing things the right way?
  • Do you try to keep up an image for others by highlighting the things you feel you do right and pointing out the way others do wrong?
  • Do you downplay or make excuses regarding the wrongs in your life or family that should cause you to be more humble toward those who fail?

Perhaps God has recently humbled you by exposing ways you have failed. Have you learned the lesson? Or, do you continue to judge others as if you had never been humbled? 

Do you allow yourself excuses while not accepting excuses for others? How can we sit in judgment on others when what has happened right under our noses or in our lives is as bad or far worse? Is this a mechanism we use to give ourselves a sense of self-righteousness and live in denial of our own situation?

Are you quick to see (and even talk about) ways others don’t measure up while overlooking obvious failures in your life or family? Do you think others don’t notice such blatant hypocrisy? 

Questions from Jesus and the apostle Paul

  • “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:3-5).
  • “So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?” (Romans 2:3).
  • Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand. You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat” (Romans 14:4,10).

Take off the mask of hypocrisy and come before God and others with humble honesty. Would you rather learn even harder lessons to bring you to a more humble state of mind and heart?

Steve Cornell

11 rules of life for graduates

Most kids could benefit from understanding these general rules of life.

  • Rule 1: Life is not fair — get used to it!
  • Rule 2: The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
  • Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school.
  • Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.
  • Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping — they called it opportunity.
  • Rule 6: If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.
  • Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you are. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent’s generation, try cleaning the closet in your own room.
  • Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
  • Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.
  • Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
  • Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.

(by Bill Gates)

Whose Idols are in the way?

idols6In his book, “An Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens” Paul David Tripp identified 5 idols that parents must reject to be effective parents in an age of opportunity. Here’s a sample of what he shares:

Core Principle

The anger, frustration, discouragement, irritation, impatience, and fear that parents feel during the teen years not only reveal that the teen is struggling, but that the parents are as well. 

If our hearts are controlled by something other than God, the great opportunities of the teen years will not be viewed as opportunities at all, but as a constant stream of hassles brought on by a selfish, immature person who upsets our otherwise comfortable life.

Failure to deal with our idolatry will mean we will turn God-given moments of ministry into moments of anger. We will personalize what is not personal, become adversarial in our approach to our teen, and settle for quick, situational solutions that do not focus on the teenager’s heart.  

The goal of this chapter (dealing with the idols) is best summarized by Proverbs 20:5, “The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.”  The goal is that parents would use the mirror of the Word (Luke 6:34-36; Ezek. 14:1-5; James 4:1-10) to examine their hearts.  Which of the typical parental idols listed below best describes them?

 Five Idols

  1. Comfort  (“I just wish life were a little easier, a little more peaceful, and a little more predictable.”)
  2. Respect  (“If it is the last thing I do, I am going to get her to respect me!”)
  3. Appreciation  (“I have done and done for them and this is the thanks I get? It is about time that I got a little credit for all of my hard work!”)
  4. Success  (“Do you know what it is like to do all this work and have him behave this way?  What are people thinking about our family now?”)
  5. Control  (“If I had a little more control around here, life would be much easier and he would be in far less trouble!”) 

The goal is that parents would understand that they must be willing to start with their own hearts if they want to be used by God to help transform the hearts of their teenagers. If we do not do this, we will be a hindrance, not a help, in what God is doing.

 

7 Links worth seeing

Mommy, Somebody Needs You

The sooner I can accept that being Mommy means that I never go off the clock, the sooner I can find peace in this crazy stage of life.   That ‘Mommy’ is my duty, privilege and honor. I am ready to be there when somebody needs me, all day and all night.  Mommy means I just put the baby back down after her 4am feeding when a 3-year-old has a nightmare.

For the Moms stuck inside 

Call it cabin fever, seasonal affective disorder or just feeling cooped up, caring for young children during the winter is no joke when the walls feel like they are closing in around you. On top of feeling stuck inside with your kids, it takes more effort to bundle kids up and do anything or see anyone. That means a lot of moms feel isolated during the winter.

The Heartbreak of Foster Care

I mean, there’s nothing glamorous about it. You voluntarily allow a child into your home whose parents are probably less than stellar. They come with lice (or worse). They don’t know how to eat at the table properly. They probably cry for parents you wish could be locked up for decisions they’ve made. It means child services in your home, scrutinizing you in ways no one does for a biological child.

Profiles of Courage: Jo’s Story, Part 1 (Foster Parenting)

I used to say I wanted to adopt someday. I envisioned a dark hand in my pale one. And maybe a few more little hands as well. A full colour pallet of little hands. It was a pretty picture that I now realize was sustained mostly by a rosy-colored romanticism.

Develop a Thick Skin

I argued that emotional self-control is a critical part of professional maturity, and that emotional outbursts really have no place on a warship—especially in a watch-standing context.

Why Privatizing Marriage Can’t Work

Young Evangelicals are not stupid. They see the writing on the wall, and they don’t want to drown when the approaching cultural tsunami hits land. Their suggested compromise makes an enormous amount of sense to them. Unfortunately, it cannot work.

Faithful Compromise

Daniel and his friends are remembered for their uncompromising witness: they refused to defile themselves with the king’s delicacies; they refused to worship the image of the king. They were willing to bear the costs of such faithfulness, and we rightly celebrate such public witness.

But Daniel was also willing to make compromises, to almost embrace his exile in a way that secured influence. He learned the language and literature of the Chaldeans; he served in an administration that had captured his own people; he provided counsel to an idolater. His faithfulness did not find expression in an enclave of purity, nor did it require him to insulate himself in some holy huddle that protected him from compromise. Instead, he was faithful amidst compromise.

Formula E429 could change your life!

One of the best ways to improve our communication is to replace destructive tones with constructive ways of speaking to each other.

Words of appreciation and encouragement are excellent alternatives to ugly tones of grumbling, whining; impatience, frustration and defensiveness.

Think of how many times we could defuse a situation by choosing better words and tones. Parents especially need to ask if their words and tones set the right example for their children. 

Use Formula E429 to remind yourself of God’s will for our speech. The formula is based on Ephesians 4:29 – “Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” (Ephesians 4:29, NLT).

Then apply a large dose of the first two characteristics of love: “Love is patient, Love is kind…” (I Corinthians 13:4).

This could literally change your life and the lives of those close to you!

WARNING LABEL

This advice comes with a warning about how easily we excuse our attitudes, words and tones by pointing to the difficult people around us. Remember the basic truth that the only person you can change is yourself. But by working on self-correction and experiencing personal change, we can powerfully influence others. So if you feel stuck in a bad place, find ways that you can change your attitudes, words and tones. But start with the words and tones you use because this discipline will make you face and confront your attitudes and emotions.

Recognize how all of this change fits under the work God is doing in your life based on these truths:

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And we all … are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (II Corinthians 3:17-18, NIV).

“Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (Philippians 2:12-13).

I have work to do. Will you join me?

Steve Cornell 

See also: Spiritual Depression

The role of motivation in parenting (pt. 2)

 

Like all godly parents, Solomon gives his son instruction and warning about the realities that will confront and test him in the world. The early chapters of Proverbs reveal how Solomon wants his son to realize that life in the big world is not easy and can be dangerous.

Solomon naturally desires for his son a long and prosperous life. He wants him to find favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.  However, he realizes (what life soon teaches) — that these things do not come by accident and that there are many threats to this kind of life.

Solomon uses a variety of motivations to encourage his son in the way of wisdom. He realizes that motivation is a big part of every area of life. Any position in life of leading others involves motivation. When law enforcement, for example, investigates suspects in a crime, one of their early efforts is to establish possible motives. For example, if a your relative died unexpectedly and police learned that you recently helped him take out a large life insurance policy in your name, you should expect to be questioned about a motive that might point to your involvement.

The need for motivating or energizing others toward certain choices or behaviors and away from others is a big part of the role of law. You can read a lot of material on motivation as a social learning theory.

God’s concern about motives

  • “All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord.”  (Proverbs 16:2).  
  • “The word of God is quick and powerful . . . it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

The book of Proverbs repeatedly appeals to various motivations and incentives. Their aim is to direct our choices away from folly toward wisdom.  It is interesting to consider the book of Proverbs in this light because so much of human experience relates to motivation, choices, and consequences.

In Proverbs 1:10-15, the father provides his son with some examples of motivational incentives evil people use to lure others to join them. They appeal to a sense of belonging, membership, and shared experience (vv.11, 14); anticipation of thrill, power, and control (vv. 11b-12); and potential for material prosperity (v. 13).

However, in Proverbs 1:15-19, the wise father exposes the actual outcomes of following the appeals.  He encourages his son to look beyond the deceptive veneer of allurement to the reality. He does this to fortify him against being drawn into a trap.

Motivational incentives

We are creatures who respond to motivational incentives, and God’s word is filled with incentives. Some are not as explicitly presented as others. In Proverbs 1:10-19 we have explicit reference to motivational incentive. Sometimes, however, the motivational force is less explicit or presented in a different style.

  • In Proverbs 10:1, it’s presented by joining character and conscience. The motivational incentive is to be a source of joy to others.

“The proverbs of Solomon: A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son brings grief to his mother” (pr. 10:1).

  • In Proverbs 11:15 , we have an example of act/consequence, where the motivational incentive is to avoid suffering and harm, and maintaining safety.

“Whoever puts up security for a stranger will surely suffer, but whoever refuses to shake hands in pledge is safe” (Pr. 11:15).

“The ultimate motivation is life (8:32-36). Self-preservation, the desire for well-being and the avoidance of harm underlie much proverbial motivation.  Rather than demeaning such motivational forces by labeling them as adolescent or crassly egocentric, such ‘worldly’ motivations need to be embraced as having been utilized in Proverbs, the law (Deut. 28; Lev. 26), and even the NT (cf. I Tim. 5:23; Titus 2:5; cf. Matt. 6:33; Acts 16:3)” (Roy Zuck, p. 261).

In Proverbs 3, the motivational factors fit this primary desire for life, well-being and avoiding of harm.

In verse two we have the personal factor of long life and prosperity.  Verses eight and nine also describe personal factors of physical health and well-being and an abundance of material goods.  Verse four points to the social and spiritual motivation of favor and a good name.  Whatever the motivation, the son must choose to obey.  Although the account of the motivation falls on physical and material benefits, there is a careful integration of the moral and spiritual dimension into the physical and material.

Above all, Proverbs 3 is a God-centered passage with a variety of motivations toward a God-centered life. In verses 5-12, the son is instructed to trust in the Lord, acknowledge Him, fear the Lord, honor the Lord, and respond favorably to the Lord’s discipline.  Another way to consider it would be to see four units of thought:

  1. Keep the commands (vv. 1-4);
  2. Trust the Lord completely (vv. 5-8);
  3. Honor the Lord’s provision (vv. 9-10); and
  4. Accept the Lord’s correction (vv. 11-12). 

Steve Cornell