An unnerving but amazing truth

“Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you” (Matthew 21:31).


Imagine religious leaders who “shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces” (Matthew 23:13).

Jesus said to such leaders, “You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. ….You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are” (Matthew 23:14-15).

Jesus also said, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you” (Matthew 21:31).

Only the poor in spirit will be in heaven. 

How could one read the teaching of Jesus and reach any other conclusion? Heaven will be filled with humble people. Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3). The proud of heart will be excluded, the broken and contrite, God will not…

View original post 455 more words

Posted in Wisdom | Leave a comment

Top 12 posts of Wisdomforlife

What does postmodern mean?

What if you don’t feel love?

7 signs of true repentance

Dogs, pigs, and sacred things

Moving from forgiveness to reconciliation

Profile of a true disciple – 6 characteristics

How can I walk in God’s will? (12 Essentials)

3 dimensions to God’s will

5 steps for turning back to God

The Most Violent Century of Human History

Does God control everything?

7 consequences from the fall of humanity

Posted in Blog, Wisdom | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wealth and honor come from you

The Psalmist offered needed perspective on wealth and honor,

“Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom;
you are exalted as head over all.
Wealth and honor come from you;
you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
to exalt and give strength to all.”

(I Chronicles 29:11-12)

It’s a tragedy when, “God gives some people great wealth and honor and everything they could ever want, but then he doesn’t give them the chance to enjoy these things. They die, and someone else, even a stranger, ends up enjoying their wealth! This is meaningless—a sickening tragedy” (Ecclesiastes 6:2). 

One of the best ways to enjoy wealth is to be generous with it. The Apostle Paul gave specific orders to the young pastor Timothy to:

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth,which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life” (I Timothy 6:17-19). 

I pray we will all be generous and know the joy of sharing with those in need.

I pray also for perspective on wealth and honor that reaches beyond this life.

  • “Just the very act of letting go of money, or some other treasure, does something within us. It destroys the demon ‘greed’.” (From: “Leadership promises for everyday” J. Maxwell)

A true test

“There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditures excludes them.” (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)

Meditate on these words

  • “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (II Corinthians 8:9).
  • “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (II Corinthians 9:8).

Steve Cornell

see also – 10 principles for giving

Posted in Dying well, Generosity, Giving, Money, Thanksgiving, Wealth | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Is there a place for cynicism?


Some books are worth more than the cover price. “Seeing Through Cynicism: A Reconsideration of the Power of Suspicion by Dick Keyes is one of them.

Rarely does a book hold my attention as well as this one. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in Philadelphia. Few are more cynical than those from Philly, especially Philly sports fans. 

Suspicion is a big-city survival instinct. We city folks question what people are really up to. We know to watch our backs and our wallets. But cynicism is more pervasive than city-life. We all feel pulled toward the cynical side. 

Keyes wrote, “Attempts to escape our own internal cynical voices are not easy.” Have you ever noticed how easily cynicism becomes a default setting for many conversations? It functions as a filter of suspicion or a protective screen to keep us from being duped – or at least from appearing duped.

Yet, as Keyes observed, “Cynicism does not get the scrutiny it deserves…it has some privileged position that makes it immune to serious challenge.” Some actually consider cynicism a virtue. They view it as, “…shrewd, courageous and truthful, the last stopping place of the honest mind.” As one philosopher stated, “Cynicism is the universally widespread way in which enlightened people see to it that they are not taken for suckers.”

“Cynicism,” according to Keyes, “has to do with seeing through and unmasking appearances to reveal the more basic underlying motivations of greed, power, lust and selfishness. It says that every respectable public agenda has a hidden private agenda behind it that is less noble, flattering and moral.”

The key word in this definition is “every.” Cynicism reaches dangerous levels when the evil motivations of a few are projected on everyone. When cynicism becomes a “totalizing way of thinking applicable to all people,” in a strange way, it has duped the one controlled by it. 

Thoroughly cynical people also tend to reap cynicism. For example, it is difficult to take political opinion columns too seriously because, as Keyes rightly observes,” Cynicism has become virtually stock-in-trade for much of journalism, particularly in its political commentary.” But why is cynicism so pervasive?

Sometimes, as Keyes observes, “When other people fail to meet our important expectations of them, it can be unbearably painful—so much so that it can turn us to cynicism about all other people. I have hoped in someone, invested in a relationship, counted on my family, given years to my employer, served in my Church—only to get kicked in the teeth. If we have been disappointed, betrayed, or disillusioned enough times or even once in a big way by a significant enough person, cynicism may come to us naturally.”

Before allowing cynicism to control us, we should understand what it is and what it can and cannot deliver. Keyes explores the three primary theaters in which cynicism operates: “cynicism about individual people, about institutions of society and about God.” He is concerned that, “If we consent to cynicism, it should at least be an informed consent.”

Keyes warns that cynicism is elusive and accommodating. “It can live in some areas of your life and thinking and leave others alone. It can come and go, or it can be a permanent fixture in your life. You can be dominated by its insights one moment and disown them the next. At the most trivial end, it can come with low blood sugar and leave with a good cup of coffee.”

Cynicism is also self-authenticating. “It’s essentially a negative judgment that stakes out no positive turf that it would then have to defend. It can make withering exposures of pomp, selfishness or hypocrisy, then count on an intuitive disgust for those vices in its hearers. It can also count on a response of satisfaction and catharsis when it exposes pompous, selfish hypocrites. It only needs to unmask somebody’s phoniness to make its case.”

In revealing his own history with cynicism, Keyes admits that, “On a scale with cynicism at one end and sentimental optimism at the other, I have always been much closer to the cynicism pole. My instincts and internal voices have always gravitated toward suspicion when there is any doubt.” Keyes acknowledges that he embraced the Christian faith, “both because of my cynicism and in spite of it.” 

“Unlike other worldviews that I had considered,” he explains, “I never felt the God of the Bible was asking me to put on rose-colored glasses to upgrade what was wrong with the world. Even the heroes of the Bible were described unsparingly in appalling moral failures—lies, sexual aberrations and murders. I did not have to give up the honesty and realism that I had valued.

Cynicism claimed that the world –both inside and outside of our heads—was profoundly broken and bent, I realized that the Christian faith had been saying that for two thousand years, and Judaism for longer than that.” On the other hand, faith in Christ challenged my cynicism. There was something too facile about cynicism. It seemed too complete in its tidy and convenient dismissal of virtue. I realized that many of the key cynical judgments I had made were overreaching what I could actually know.”

Cynicism seems like a necessary response to life “…in a world saturated in artificiality, spin and banality.” But, if you are willing to move beyond cynicism to well-grounded optimistic realism, Keyes book will help you get there.

Steve Cornell

Posted in Antagonists, Belief, Cynicism, Doubt, Unbelief | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Victory over bitterness and despair

“God called down famine on the land and destroyed all their supplies of food; and he sent a man before them — Joseph, sold as a slave” (Psalm 105:16-17).

Is this hindsight? Did Joseph understand that everything was unfolding according to God’s plan?

He answered the question when he said to his brothers, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” (Genesis 50:20-21)

If you need encouragement in the painful and perplexing seasons of life, follow the story of Joseph through the links below. His story helps to protect our hearts from the poison of bitterness and the prison of despair.

Joseph’s life – unfolds in five main scenes. See the link on each scene below.
1.    Life in a dysfunctional family
2.    Life as a slave
3.    Life and a prisoner
4.    Life as a ruler in Egypt
5.    Life at the family reunion

Scene 1 – Life in a dysfunctional Family

Scene 2 – Life as a slave

Scene 3 – Life as a prisoner

Scene 4 – Life as a ruler in Egypt

Scene 5 – Life at the family reunion

Steve Cornell

Posted in Bitterness, Despair, feeling hopeless, God's control, God's Heart, God's Love, God's power, God's Will, Hope?, Joseph's story, Mad at God, Questioning God, Seeing God, Seeking God, Walking with God | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What about Cain?

Look more closely at Cain (especially for those in reformed theology).


When considering the effects of Adam’s sin on humanity, it seems reasonable to look closely atthe children of Adam.

For all that has been written about the fall of humanity, very little is focused on Cain. Check the major works of theology on this theme and you won’t find substantive consideration of Cain. Why is this?

If (as theologians believe) all humans are born with a sin nature and are spiritually dead, the first human to be born this way should be Exhibit A for discerning the effects of sin.

Why wouldn’t we study what we know about Cain before reaching too many conclusions about what it means to be born with a sin nature and spiritually dead in our sins?

The first use of the word “sin” is found when God confronts Cain. God said, “You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if…

View original post 603 more words

Posted in Wisdom | Leave a comment

10 tests for personal inventory

I’ve found the following ten tests helpful for evaluating my life. A question and Scripture are offered with each one for deeper reflection. This list is for personal review, not for judging others. 

1. The test of anger: What makes you mad?

“He (Jesus) looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts” (Mark 3:5). “While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed (provoked within) to see that the city was full of idols” (Acts 17:16).

2. The test of humor: What makes you laugh?

“There’s a time to laugh, and a time to cry” (Ecclesiastes 3:4). “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22). “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh” (Luke 6:21) (see also: Ephesians 5:3-4).

3. The test of music: What makes you sing?

“Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts” (Ephesians 5:18-19). “Let my tongue sing about your Word,
for all your commands are right” (Psalm 119:172).

4. The test of anxiety: What makes you worry? What do you fear?

“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe” (Prov. 29:25). “Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God” (John 12:42-43). “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28; cf. Ps. 111:10; see also: Matthew 6:25-34; Philippians 4:6-7; I Peter 5:6-7; Isa. 41:10).

5. The test of money: How important is it to you?What do you do with it?

“Honor the Lord with your wealth” (Prov. 3:9a). “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21). “You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24). “So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” (Luke 16:11). Loving money is condemned (see: Luke 16:14; I Timothy 6:9-10; II Timothy 3:2).

6. The test of value: What is most important to you?

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well: (Matthew 6:33; cf. Colossians 3:23). “Do not love the world or anything in the world. …  For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever” (I John 2;15-17). “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:36-37).

7. The test of influence: What difference are you making in others?

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16; cf. Philippians 2:14-16).

8. The test of companionship: What kind of people do you prefer to be with?

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?” (II Cor. 6:14-15). “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed” (Proverbs 13:20) (cf. Psalm 1:1-3;Proverbs 22:24-25;Amos 3:3;I Corinthians 5:9-13).

9. The test of speech: What do you like to talk about?

“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:32). “Brothers, do not slander one another” (James 4:11; cf. Prov. 11:12-13; 16:28; 18:7-8; 21:23).

10. The test of time: What do you use it for? How well do you use it?

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16). “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” (Colossians 3:23). “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:16).

Steve Cornell

Posted in Disciple-making, Discipleship, Maturity, purpose, Spiritual Detox, Spiritual disciplines, Spiritual growth, Spiritual inventory, Spiritual transformation | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The life-giving power of God’s Spirit

After Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to the Father, He sent the Spirit (cf. Jn. 7:37-39; 14:15-17; 16:5-15; Acts 1:4-9) for all who place faith in Him as Savior and confess Him as Lord. 

At the moment of faith in Christ, we receive the gift of the Spirit. All believers without exception are indwelt by the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom. 8:9; I Cor. 6:19-20; II Cor. 1:21-22; Gal. 3:2-5; Ja. 4:5).

If you are a believer, God dwells in you by His Spirit! The indwelling Spirit of God is the agent and power for enabling us to live a life that pleases God.

But when God’s Spirit indwells us, we experience an immediate conflict with the realm dominated by our sinful nature. “For the sinful nature (flesh) desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature (flesh). They are in conflict with each other “…” (Galatians 5:17). This explains the internal conflict felt by all Christians.

Romans 8 – the distinction between flesh and Spirit 

Romans 8:4 speaks of people for whom “the righteous requirement of the law has been fully met.” These are people who have trusted Jesus Christ as their Savior. These are believers; Christians; followers of Christ; the converted. According to Romans 8:4b, a distinguishing mark of these people is that they do not live (or walk): “according to the flesh” (kata sarka) but, “according to the spirit” (kata pneuma).

Continuing the contrast, Romans 8:5 informs us that the distinction is found in the way one thinks or reasons. To “have their minds set” means “they regard things with an outlook and attitude characteristic of the flesh or characteristic of the Spirit.” This is the difference between a believer and an unbeliever – between one who belongs to God’s kingdom and one who does not. One of the primary differences has to do with the way they think or reason.

In looking for evidence of true Christian conversion, ask this question: “Is the way he reasons or understands things characteristic of the flesh or of the Spirit?”

  • Romans 8 is not using the language of exhortation (as if to exhort believers to have their minds set on what the Spirit desires).  
  • Romans 8 uses the language of description to establish the fact that a believer is one who walks/thinks/is (kata pneuma) “according to the Spirit.” And, he is not one who walks/thinks/is (kata sarka) “according to the flesh.” (Rom. 8:6-9)

“To walk” “according to the Spirit” is to order your conduct under the direction of the Spirit. “To think” “according to the Spirit” is to regard things with an attitude or outlook characteristic of the Spirit.  “To be” “according to the Spirit” is a reference to your position in relation to the Holy Spirit (cf. Romans 8:9 “…the Spirit of God lives in you”).  

  • Life “kata pneuma” is distinguished by: life, peace, and submission to God.
  • Life “kata sarka” is characterized by:  death, hostility and rebellion toward God and His law (Romans 8:9). 

This is the language of description.

Description to exhortation

But the N.T. does move from description to the language of exhortation:  Look at Romans 13:13-14; I Peter 2:11 with I Peter 1:14-15; and Ephesians 5:18 which provide commands in the other direction! 

  • Ephesians 5:18- continually “let the dominating influence of the Spirit permeate you life…”  
  • Galatians 5:16 uses the language of exhortation:  “walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.” 

Douglas Moo put it this way:  “The life giving power of God’s Spirit is effective only in those who continue to let the Spirit change their lives.”

According to the Spirit – (kata pneuma)

Putting all of this together, there will always be a battle between flesh and Spirit for the believer and sometimes it will be intense. It’s possible for true believers to give into the flesh. But, according to Romans 8, we should expect a true believer to walk “kata rheumka”  according to the Spirit.” Although it may not always be this way, things should be moving in the direction of the Spirit and away from the flesh.

There should be a submissive response to God and His word, not a hostile and rebellious response. There should be resistance to fleshly oriented thinking behavior. These are evidences of regeneration we should expect.

According to the flesh – (kata sarka)

We cannot fully appreciate what it means to “walk according to the Spirit” without an adequate understanding of the contrast of “walking according to the flesh.” And, we said that “flesh” in these scriptures refers not to a person’s nature (as the NIV’s “sinful nature”) but to a sphere a realm of existence. Flesh is human existence which excludes the true God. I did not say it excludes religion or a god. It excludes the true God. To state it differently, Douglas Moo defines it as “human life or the material world considered as independent of, and even in opposition to, the spiritual realm” (Moo, p.47, Romans).

Therefore, life that is  “according to the flesh” (kata sarka) is not just a sexually immoral life (it might not involve that at all), instead it is a life that is directed by self and for self. 

  • It’s a life where I demand to be in control – as I set my own agenda. 
  • It’s a life that is based on selfish ambition. 

The person who lives “kata sarka” focuses on attaining human standard for social and religious acceptance. He manipulates both people and circumstances for self-advancement and places his confidence in human achievement – without giving the glory to God. In the context of relationships, fleshly living involves:  scheming, conniving, deceiving, controlling and manipulating. And these things give way to jealousy, quarrels, hatred, fits of rage, and envy (I Cor. 3, Jam. 3, Gal. 5:19).  In life “kata sarka” I must be in control!  I must come out on top!


Whenever you are involved in a conflict, it is important to consider how you may be contributing to the problem, either directly or indirectly. In some cases, you may have caused the controversy.  In other cases, you may have aggravated a dispute by failing to respond to another person in a godly way. Therefore, before focusing on what others have done wrong, it’s wise to carefully examine the way you have been thinking, speaking, and acting (Matt. 7:3-5).  

In particular, you should try to identify the desires and motives (idols) that are leading you to behave in a sinful manner. With God’s help, you can discover where your ways do not line up with His purposes. That realization is the first step toward repentance, which opens the way for confession, personal change, and the restoration of genuine peace (Galatians 5:15-16, 25 – have to do with relationships!).

Life “according to the Spirit” (walking kata pneuma) looks like this…

  • It’s lived for God and His glory.
  • It’s lived under God’s sovereign purpose, control and authority. 
  • It pursues God’s wisdom and will – recognizing the inadequacies of human wisdom.
  • It’s God-centered, not man-centered.
  • It waits on the Lord instead of manipulating and controlling.
  • It’s based on truth, sincerity, honesty, integrity, and humility.
  • It speaks the truth in love.
  • It’s lived in trustful dependence on God’s grace and strength. 
  • It is focused on eternity not the temporal realm (II Cor. 4:16-18).

Life “according to the flesh” is foolish because it is temporal; it is fleeting and unreliable. It’s transitory, weak and frail. 

In Scripture, it is related to death. In at least two passages, Paul outlines the close relationship between flesh and death:  ‘if you live according to the flesh you will die’ (Rom. 8:13; ‘he who sows to the flesh will from the flesh reap corruption (phthoran)’ (Galatians 6:8). Here death is the inevitable fruit that grows out of a fleshly way of living. 

At this point, if not at others, an existentialist interpretation of the NT becomes relevant and convincing. If man simply is what he makes of himself (man as sarx), he lives in a world of vanishing possibilities. Each decision that he makes about his own life limits the future possibilities which are still left open to him; he is molded and restricted by the fruits of his own decisions. By contrast, the Spirit in the NT enables a man to go beyond what his own past has made him, giving him new desires, new capacities and new horizons (Galatians 6:7-8).

A command and a promise

Galatians 5:16 says, “so I say”, (or ςέ “but I say”). This is a common formula, used by Paul, to alert his readers to an emphatic point: Here is my advice.” Or, “Here is the remedy for the situation described in v. 15.” (Phillips). To protect the community from destruction, each member must “live or walk by the Spirit.” Verse 16 is a command with a promise.

  • Command: “live or walk by the Spirit.”
  • Promise: “you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature (or flesh).”

The RSV translates this as two commands: the second being, “do not gratify the desires of the flesh.” But, although we do have similar commands (e.g. Rom. 6:12-13; 13:14; I Peter 2:11), Galatians 5:16 is a promise or a word of assurance indicating the means for gaining victory over sin. “Paul was making a strong assertion that once the Galatians allowed the Spirit to guide them, then they would ‘never satisfy the flesh’”(Moffatt).

The battle of two wills

Galatians 5:17 expands on the conflict that confronts every believer. We could look at this as a conflict between two wills: My will and God’s will. Or between: “the ought to” and  “the want to.” It’s great when they join together– when: “I will to do what God wills for me to do.” Or, “I want to do what I ought to do.”  This is great!

Where do find strength?

So often we experience an ongoing conflict or tension between these two forces, and sometimes it gets incredibly intense and unrelenting (cf. Rom. 7:19, 21-25).  Where do we look for the strength and power to overcome? Galatians 5:16—“Walk by the Spirit…” present tense—“go on walking…” This is not something you must do from time to time. It’s a way of life!  It’s long obedience in the same direction.

There is no way to get to a place where we no longer experience the tension. There is no secret spiritual technique or second blessing that will put us above the battleground. And to take it one step further, the moment you think you’re invulnerable to the allurement of sinful desires—you are most vulnerable. If you think you have reached some higher plane of spirituality—above the conflict between flesh and spirit—you are self-deluded and in great danger of sinning.

One has written,–“No Christians are so spiritually strong or mature that they need not heed his warning, but neither are any so weak or vacillating that they cannot be free from the tyranny of the flesh through the power of the Spirit…In the battle between the forces of flesh and Spirit there is no stalemate, but the Spirit takes the lead, overwhelms, and thus defeats evil.”

A frustrated man confronts his pastor

A man came to his Pastor and complained how impossible it was to live a Christian life.  The Pastor agreed and the man was taken back! He expected to be rebuked and set straight. Instead, the Pastor congratulated him for learning the most important lesson for living a victorious Christian life. What is it? That you cannot do it! You must live in total dependence on God.

But this is not the “let go and let God” approach. This is a constant practice of humbling oneself before God and learning to lean on Him and look to Him. (Deut. 8:1-3- God will teach you this). It involves commitment to all the spiritual disciplines out of a recognition of need and dependence (see: Spiritual Disciplines for developing a heart for God )

Steve Cornell

Posted in Christian Counselor, Christian life, Christianity, Following Christ, Holy Spirit, In Christ, New Christian, Theology | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A strange question

Jesus approached a man who was invalid for thirty-eight years. When he saw him lying in this condition, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:1-6). What a strange question!

As the story continued, Jesus healed the man and the legalistic religious community took issue. 

Do you want to get well?

The question caught my attention. Why ask such a question. The answer seemed obvious. Can’t we assume that people want to get well? Could there be reasons they prefer not to be well?

Perhaps some people don’t want to get well. Those in recovery from alcohol and drugs typically spend years in addiction before they turn for help. Most of them didn’t fully recognize that they were not well. Many of them repeatedly turned down the kind of help they needed. 

Can you think of reasons people don’t want to be well?

I suggest five. 

  1. Fear of responsibility. I can remain “comfortable” in my excuses and victim mindset if I refuse to get well. Being well means (among other things) I have to take responsibility for my life. Addicts sometimes prefer blaming others to excuse their addiction because of a deep-seated fear of taking responsibility for their lives. 
  2. Validation of victimization. Many addicts have real stories of being victimized in their childhood years by selfish and cruel adults. Not being well (remaining an addict) could be a strange way of validating victimization. The victim mindset is one where I always give myself a pass and never have to feel guilty or responsible. Such a mindset only gives prolonged life to the original damage.
  3. Soliciting sympathy. Most addicts have had real hurts that leave deep pain in their lives. The absence of caring adults is another common childhood experience. Addiction can be a self-damaging way of crying out for someone to care. Not being well could be a means for soliciting care from others. Sadly, it also becomes a common tool of manipulation for addicts. It’s one reason addicts wear out their welcome and burn bridges with caring people. Weakness becomes willfulness when we refuse to get well. There are also good-willed people who enable this kind of behavior. Such people are typically meeting their need to be needed – not serving the best interest of the addict. 
  4. Seeking retaliation. Some use their condition as a means to pay back those whom they feel sent them into a life of addiction. Not being well is a way to put a burden on loved ones or to manipulate others with guilt. Addicts commonly carry feelings of justified anger. Feeling that something is owed to them for what they suffered, they allow cherished resentments to validate their addictions. Sometimes it involves an “I’ll show them!” attitude. 
  5. Refusal to trust the Savior. Jesus is the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls (I Peter 2:25). He is our Creator and Sustainer (Colossians 1:16-17). He is our faithful and merciful High Priest, and our Advocate with the Father who became sin for us that we might be made right with God through him (Hebrews 2:17; 4:14-16; I John 2:1-2; II Corinthians 5:21). Recovery is possible through Him!

None of these reasons for not wanting to be well are worth bondage to addiction. The temporary feelings of satisfaction each one offers will only multiply into years of downward spiral. If you doubt this, ask those who hit the bottom. 

Steve Cornell

Posted in Addiction, Alcohol addiction, Drug addiction, recovery, Wisdom | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A story behind your story

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

Share your story.

This is especially important 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 share your story – to have conversations about the differences before they become a source of conflict. Looking back in this way should be a required part of 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 here 

Steve Cornell

Posted in 18 Year factor, Abuse, Alcohol addiction, Child Abuse, Childhood trauma, Sexual Abuse | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment