Rain on the just and the unjust?

ask-question-1-ff9bc6fa5eaa0d7667ae7a5a4c61330cEnter the conversation

I’ve been thinking a lot about the implications of what Jesus said about God – “He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).

Seven questions

  1. What does the context contribute to the meaning?
  2. What are some of the broader implications theologically and philosophically – in terms of the way the world works?
  3. People sometimes pray for sunny days for their outings. Are such days reserved for the good and the just?
  4. How directly is God involved in distributing sunny and rainy days?
  5. And who fits in each category? Who are the “evil” and “unjust”? Who are the “good” and “just”?
  6. How does reference to the “just” relate with those who are declared “just” in Christ?
  7. How does this fit the larger discussion about common grace?

Context: Jesus words are seated in a startling countercultural command: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (vv. 43–44). Why? “That you may be children of your Father in heaven.”

  • Matthew 5:43-48 – “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

More thoughts to come, and I welcome your input.

Steve Cornell

Posted in Jesus Christ, Justice, Sermon on the Mount, Teaching of Jesus, Weather, Wisdom | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Many in the Church do not know Jesus

83327-truth_in_loveI am going out on a limb. My heart is heavy. I fear that much of the professing church doesn’t know Jesus.

The reason I say this is that far too many who claim to follow Jesus relate to others as if they never fell on their knees and begged God to be patient with them so that they could find a way to pay their massive debt.

Let me frame it in a series of questions.

  • How do we forget the pity God took on us when He canceled such unimaginable debt?
  • Are we drunk with a sense of entitlement?
  • Do we claim such forgiveness, and then with fierce indignation demand to be paid back by fellow humans for many smaller debts?
  • How could we be souls without mercy toward those who fall to their knees and beg for patience?
  • Are we among those who are confident that we are righteous and look down on everyone else?
  • Are we those who thank God we are not like the horrible sinners?
  • Where are the ones who stand at a distance with downcast eyes – the chest-beating, mercy-pleading, self-confessed sinners?
  • Where are the ones who lay aside their fancy clothing to become towel-girding, water-pouring, basin-carrying, foot-washing followers of Jesus?

Be very honest.

How would you respond if you saw Jesus seated at dinner and observed a certain immoral woman from the city with a beautiful jar filled with expensive perfume kneeling at his feet, weeping and wiping her tears off his feet with her hair? Then you saw her continually kissing his feet and putting perfume on them.

Would you think to yourself, “If this man were a godly man, he would know what kind of woman is touching him? She’s a sinner!” Did Jesus fail to “avoid all appearance of evil”? Her actions might convey something erotic associated with her life as a prostitute. The beautiful jar filled with expensive perfume was purchased with money she earned selling herself to men. Should he reject its use on him?

Is it possible that this woman didn’t want to live as a prostitute, but difficult circumstances or coercion by others landed her in such a life – a life perhaps that she hated? Are we too quick to make unmerciful judgments? Was she a worse sinner than all the others at the dinner? (see: Luke 13:1-5).

Be careful with your answers. Jesus said to self-righteous people, “I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do” (Matthew 21:31).

A story we need to read often (Luke 7:36-50)

One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so Jesus went to his home and sat down to eat.  When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them.

 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. She’s a sinner!”

Then Jesus answered his thoughts. “Simon,” he said to the Pharisee, “I have something to say to you.” “Go ahead, Teacher,” Simon replied.

Then Jesus told him this story: “A man loaned money to two people—500 pieces of silver to one and 50 pieces to the other. But neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more after that?” Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt.”

“That’s right,” Jesus said. Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.

“I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only a little love.”

What self-righteous religious people said about Jesus

  • “When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’” (Matthew 9:11).
  • “….the people were displeased. ‘He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled’” (Luke 19:7).
  • “Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people — even eating with them!” (Luke 15:1-2).

Forgetfulness – a formidable enemy

There’s a reason why the Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me. Do this in remembrance of me’” (I Corinthians 11:23-24).

It seems too easy to be “shortsighted or blind, forgetting that we have been cleansed from our old sins” (II Peter 1:9). There is great danger in forgetting the day when you “stood at a distance and would not even look up to heaven, but beat your chest praying, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner’?” (Luke 18:13). This was the day of our salvation; the day we “went home justified before God” (Luke 18:14).

Perhaps, however, you have never had such an experience. Maybe you think you “accepted Jesus into your heart,” but you do not truly know Jesus. Have you cried out, “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”? (Romans 7:24-25).

Be honest with yourself. We must confront every self-righteous tendency of our hearts.

Let’s not be among the “many” on judgment day which addressed him as “Lord,” but will not enter the kingdom of heaven because we never knew Jesus and He never knew us (see: Matthew 7:21-23).

Think about Jesus’ words: “I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do” (Matthew 21:31).

Steve Cornell

 

Posted in Gospel, Jesus Christ, Salvation, Security of salvation, Self-deception, Table of the Lord, Teaching of Jesus, True Christianity?, Wisdom | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Answer a challenge!

Opportunity

The writing of my book coincides with a significant emphasis on the ACE study in public education. ACE is an acronym for Adverse Childhood Experiences. Teachers throughout the nation are receiving training on how to understand the effects of adverse childhood experiences. This emphasis is where my book could be a welcomed addition in public schools. It is also an opportunity to bring wisdom, where it is desperately needed.

Challenge

I desire to give a copy of my book to the approximately 98,817 K-12 schools in our nation. I am asking YOU to invest in changing lives by purchasing at least one copy of my book from Amazon and giving it to a public school in your community.

As many people answer this call increased opportunities will come for me to speak to people on this urgent subject. It will also provide funds for sending books to more schools.

Will you be part of this challenge? Everyone can make a difference for only $14.25!

Go to – 

Thank you!!

Steve Cornell

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Why do people refuse to believe?

Why do people refuse to believe?

Wisdomforlife

Skepticism

A number of years ago, I spoke on the theme of unbelief at a conference for church leaders.  I asked the question, “Why do people refuse to believe the gospel?”  

We explored the issue from four perspectives:

  1. Theological (the work of theologians): creation, the fall and redemption.
  2. Epistemological (the work of philosophers and apologists): cognitive issues and the noetic effects of sin.
  3. Missiological (the work of missiologists): evangelistic and cultural issues.
  4. Practical (the work of pastors): dealing with barriers like ego and sinful lifestyles.

We also discussed the psychology of atheism. In psychology classes at the university, consideration will often be given to the psychology of theism. What is the psychological wiring of these people who feel the need to believe in a god? I reverse this and ask what it is that leads atheists to believe there is no God. What is the psychology of…

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Regrets and Bad memories

Recalling and reliving the sorrows of yesterday prevents you from experiencing the joy of the present.

Q. Are regrets, bad memories, or losses keeping you from enjoying each new day?
Q. Is the past keeping you from moving into the future with hope and anticipation?

People often say very unhelpful things,

• “Just move on.” But that sounds too simple.
• “Forget the past.” It doesn’t seem to work that way.
• “Get over it.” You’re not sure how.
• “How long are you going to wallow in it?”

No matter the cause of your pain or who caused it, the healing process has common stages.

1. Denial
2. Excuses
3. Self-blame
4. Anger
5. Despair
6. Acceptance (passively)

I wrote my book to help people work through painful experiences in ways that are healthy. Get your copy today! (only $ 14.25) Share this post with others.

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Hiding something behind her eyes

  • What do we reveal with our eyes?
  • Is it possible to detect a story behind a story through our eyes?

A photographer once told me that when you smile, make sure you are smiling with your eyes. I never thought about this before, but I have never forgotten it. Try smiling with your eyes. Our eyes are capable of communicating the truth about our inner lives.

Have you ever noticed what people reveal with their eyes? Eyes can communicate loss, hopelessness, shame, fear, sadness, and pain. Along with facial expressions and bodily postures, our eyes often reveal a story behind life.

One of the Chinese exchange students who lived in our home interestingly validated this point. One evening, he visited a friend from his previous year in the United States. When he returned home, I asked about his visit, and he expressed deep concern for his friend. He said he could tell that she was “hiding something behind her eyes.”

I asked him what he meant by this expression. He said he notices when a person doesn’t look directly or shifts her eyes as you speak with her.  It appears that she is feeling bad or ashamed of something. He said, “When I watched her eyes, I knew something is not right with her.”

I thought he meant that she’s hiding something or being deceitful. But there’s much more to hiding something behind your eyes.

Our exchange student learned that his friend’s life had turned in the wrong direction. Although she did not volunteer this information, what she hid behind her eyes spoke enough for him ask her if everything was alright.

We should all learn to listen to others with our ears and our eyes. Eyes can communicate things about life and the inner self.

Turn out the light in your eyes

A female police officer was preparing to go undercover as a prostitute, and part of her preparation involved an exchange with an actual prostitute. The prostitute approached the officer and got close to her face and asked her if “her daddy ever touched her when she was a little girl.”

The prostitute then got even closer. She looked into the eyes of the officer for an uncomfortable amount of time and said, “Turn the light off in your eyes.” The officer understood what she meant and tried to make her eyes appear to be empty and hopeless.

The emotionless expression of someone whose childhood is violated sexually is a sad reality.

What does it look like when the light is turned off in someone’s eyes? These are eyes void of light. Dark eyes. Eyes that tell us a story is hiding behind the story.

A dark secret

I was immediately impressed with Sue. She always seemed eager to learn, cheerful and friendly–a delight to have around. Everything about her would have made me think she had a healthy 18-year factor. I would have never guessed that this outgoing university freshman carried a dark secret.

As time passed, Sue could no longer maintain the happy demeanor she wanted others to see. She began to turn to excessive behaviors of exercise, dieting, and sleeping. She battled feelings of depression and despair, trying desperately to gain control of her life while feeling helplessly out of control.

What could have caused such a sudden and extreme change? There was a story behind her story, and it was not a fairy tale.

At the advice of a caring friend, she nervously called to request a meeting with me. In the act of tremendous courage, Sue allowed me to be the first person to hear the dark secret she had been carrying.

During visits to her grandparents’ home, at the tender age of 12, her grandfather entered her room and sexually molested her.

Suffering silently, Sue tried to hide and suppress this unimaginable betrayal of trust and violation of her life. She finally reached a breaking point and could no longer sustain the self that she wanted to be. The past devoured the present, and her life began to fall apart.

What happens to a little girl’s sense of identity and security when her grandfather sexually violates her? How would Sue feel if someone told her to “just get over it” or “forgive him and move on”? How is she supposed to do this? How long will it take?

These careless words of advice are unrealistic to the victims of such betrayal and abuse. They only make victims feel more guiltier and more ashamed.

Without loving intervention and help from a counselor, Sue would likely struggle with crippling emotions that destroy her life. She will also leave a broken trail of damaged relationships.

Is there a story behind your story?

Most people recall positive and negative experiences from their upbringing. If you had an overall healthy 18-year factor, you are part of a rapidly diminishing number of people. Those who experienced a healthy upbringing can also benefit from looking more closely at the influences that shaped the way you see yourself and relate to others.

This is especially true for those who are married or planning to marry. Marriage is one of the primary contexts where 18-year-factor issues emerge. Differences in upbringings are a common source of marital disagreements.

It is wise to have deeper conversations about these differences before they become a source of conflict. Looking back in this way should be a required part of the preparation for marriage.

The way we communicate, resolve conflict, process anger, and many other essential parts of life are shaped during our 18-year factor, the most impressionable years of life. These matters profoundly affect our relationships.

Are you willing to be honest about the influences that have shaped your life? If so, buckle up for what might be an interesting and rough ride. Be patient and don’t give up because the destination is worth the trip.

Purchase your copy of my book at https://www.amazon.com/dp/1798227959/ref=sr_1_2…%20AMAZON.COM

Steve Cornell

Posted in 18 Year factor, Dysfunctional, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Assault, Wisdom | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Four approaches to parenting

cropped-bp133.jpgQ. What do you recall about the way your parents raised you?

A young man in his twenties asked me if I had anything in my book to help someone who had overly strict parents.

I asked if that was his story. “Yes,” he answered. “My mother was a very controlling person. My brother got out of the home as soon as he could because of mom’s need to know everything and control everyone.”

The way we approach parenting affects the lives and relationships of our children well into their adult lives.

And since parents tend to default the parenting style they were raised by, it’s needful to consider different approaches to parenting.

The four approaches outlined in chapter 10 of my book reveal four different kinds of parent-child relationships.

One reader said that this chapter is worth the price of the book.

Purchase your copy today on Amazon. Link here

Steve Cornell

Posted in 18 Year factor, Child Abuse, Childhood trauma, Discipline, Fathers, Mothers, Parenting, Parenting Groups, Parenting teens, Wisdom | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment