You don’t come to the garden alone

The Lord’s prayer and a misleading old hymn…

  • “It is very significant that in the Lord’s Prayer the words I, me, and mine never occur; it is true to say that Jesus came to take these words out of life and to put in their place we, us, and ours. God is not any man’s exclusive possession” (William Barclay).

Misleading hymn

  • “I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses; And the voice I hear, falling on my ear; the Son of God discloses. And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own, and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.”

Not only have others known the joy, but it is a joy that’s meant to be experienced in fellowship with others. And we miss “the fullness of joy” when we isolate ourselves and try to individualize spiritual matters.

I am not trying to take away the personal nature of our relationship with God. I am simply reminding us that God does not view His people as isolated or even loosely connected individuals.

God’s plan is for His people to be meaningfully related in local churches with all the messiness and challenges that come with growing relationships.

We suffer in the West from an overemphasized individualism. The community relationship of God’s people is the emphasis of the New Testament, not my personal and individual relationship with God.

Steve Cornell

Posted in Church growth, Church membership, Local Church, Wisdom | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Five kinds of people in the Church

be-the-church--blue_2265_1024x768We are told not to cause the group identified under #2 to stumble. We limit our liberty for them. As for those in group # 1, we are told to “leave them alone” or “Ignore them” (Matthew 15:12-14). Too often churches are trying not to offend group #1 and allowing them to set the agenda for the Church. See Five kinds of people in the Church

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To love and to cherish

Palm-Sunday-650x487Is it possible to love without cherishing? One cannot claim to cherish someone without loving them. I am commanded to love others, but I am not ready to say that I cherish everyone I love. What’s the difference?

see –  To love and to cherish

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The sensuous Christian

Are you a sensuous Christian? see – The sensuous Christian

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What does maturity look like?

Image_500_330_c1It’s hard to overemphasize the importance of maturity to a good relationship. But what does maturity look like? see – What does maturity look like?

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Rise to the challenge!

sun.earthWe need leaders with an ability to see through superficially convenient or dismissive assessments of reality. Leaders who can discern the actual, vital and essential character of things – who can see truth with wisdom.

The grace and humility of true wisdom will help us to avoid ways of thinking that leave out shared realities of life.

Such wisdom will give us accurate perception of  the world of the five senses but also invite us to realities beyond these senses. Wisdom is absent when we fail to include God, the soul, transcendent values, intrinsic meaning and mystery.

Costly deception from respected places

We have been deceptively told that if we want to believe in the supernatural, the spiritual, the unseen and the eternal, we’re welcome to such beliefs but we won’t have the backing of science. This is a very narrow understanding of science.

While science and technology assisted us in rationalizing, classifying, calculating, and controlling much of life, it came with a costly loss of soul in a world without windows. Life lost the needed connection with anything outside of the physical world. God, religion and spirituality were increasingly marginalized, personalized and privatized. They became matters of personal taste and preference.

God is now treated like a resident of a convalescent home where he is politely visited. God is an acceptable subject for church services, weddings, funerals, baptisms, and times when life seemed beyond personal control.

True reality, we’ve been told, is  lived with the windows shut and under our management. The horizontal is all that really matters and (we we’ve been told) all that is real.

We’ve been fed the beguiling notion that we can be our own managers. We’re in control. True wisdom will expose this foolish notion and lead us to see that we’ve sinned against the vertical (by ignoring God) and disoriented and sabotaged ourselves on the horizontal.

We’ve turned the good gifts of the Creator against ourselves because we’ve failed to honor him as the Giver. We’ve defined our own reality; our own morality and foolishly believed we could be the captains of our fates and the masters of our souls. This has left us empty; beaten down — without clear direction and certain hope.

Yet an encouraging thing is happening. There is a growing hunger afoot for what is real and lasting; for something hopeful, eternal, and spiritual — for a world with opened windows.

You won’t find much of this kind of humble wisdom among the self-appointed intellectual custodians of the academy.  You will, however, find hunger for it among the students.  The students are tired of being stuffed into the culturally mandated, and narrow, little world without windows!

Being forced into a world without windows has left a generation hungry for something more, something bigger, something beyond — for mystery, transcendence—for the eternal.

A great opportunity! 

What an opportunity this is for the church! This is not a time for the church to get stuck in battles of the past or to trivialize over things that are not of primary importance. It’s a call for the church to be truthful rather than trendy; to be faithful rather than fashionable. We must not play church. We must be the Church!

It’s a call to a fresh, bold, humble incarnate living proclamation of the truth of the gospel!

Expect the windows to be open when you hear the message of the Church. Expect to be lifted out of the narrow little suffocating world where you are told that the physical is all there is, was, or ever will be. Such ideology has produced a tsunami of personal, relational and societal ills.

The humility of wisdom recognizes that opening the windows does not solve all our problems. If we open windows to the realities of the spiritual, eternal and transcendent, we must provide careful definition for what we mean.

Where do we go for such wisdom?

Our Maker did not speak to us from a distance (see: John 1:1-3, 14; Hebrews 1:1-3). He entered our reality. God brought meaning, purpose and hope to us, not is a religion but in a person, in Jesus Christ.  Jesus was not merely a human through whom we see God, He was God become man (Colossians 2:9). He entered our suffering and he experienced death and broke its power over us (see – John 11:25; Hebrews 2:14-15). He said, ““Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look — I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave” (Revelation 1:17-18).;

God is the one who “gives wisdom. From his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6). The lesson he wants us to learn is that “man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3).

Every word…

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NLT).

Let’s rise to the challenge!

Steve Cornell

Posted in Apologetics, Christian worldview, Church, Church growth, Church Leadership, Wisdom, Witness, Worldview | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

7 consequences in the fall of humanity

  • The one who changes his beliefs is likely preparing to change the way he lives.

This is what happened when humans originally rejected their Creator’s will for them. see – 7 consequences in the fall of humanity

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