Turn the light off in your eyes

The prostitute looked closely at the officer and said, “Turn the light off in your eyes.” The officer did her best to look as if her eyes were void of light and hope. What a sadly realistic way to describe the emotionless expression of someone whose childhood and life had been sexually violated.

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In a recent TV show, a female police officer was preparing to go undercover as a prostitute. Part of her preparation involved an exchange with an actual prostitute. The prostitute approach the officer and asked her if her daddy ever touched her when she was a little girl. Then the prostitute looked closely at the officer and said, “Turn the light off in your eyes.” The officer did her best to look as if her eyes were void of light and hope.

What a sadly realistic way to describe the emotionless expression of someone whose childhood and life had been sexually violated.

We all know what sad eyes look like but what does it look like when the light is turned off in someone’s eyes?

Have you ever noticed what people show or don’t show with their eyes? A photographer once told me to smile with my eyes. “Is it possible,”…

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What’s love got to do with it?

Take a closer look at each of the 14 qualities of true love.

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Valentine’s Day is (for many people) about love.

  • Is there a way to know what love really is?
  • Can we fall in love and fall out of love?
  • When someone says, “I love you,” is there a way to know if he/she means it?

When couples want to be married, they tell me they love each other. When they want to divorce, they tell me they no longer love.

  • Are we victims of love?
  • Can we train ourselves to love?
  • What is love?

Love is indispensable to marriage, family and community. Relationships are difficult when love is absent but we need an objective way to understand what love looks like when it’s present.

Scripture commands husbands to love their wives (Ephesians 5:25); Older women are to train younger women to love their husbands and children (Titus 2:4) and communities of Christians are to be distinguished by their love for one…

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Troubled dust, but dust that dreams

There must be more to life than our brief existence in this world.

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As he struggled with the exasperating enigma of existence, Scottish agnostic, Richard Holloway, couldn’t escape the feeling that there must be more to life than his brief existence in this world.

  • “This is my dilemma. I am dust and ashes, frail and wayward, a set of predetermined behavioral responses, … riddled with fear, beset with needs…the quintessence of dust and unto dust I shall return…. But there is something else in me…. Dust I may be, but troubled dust, dust that dreams, dust that that has strong premonitions of transfiguration, of a glory in store, a destiny prepared, an inheritance that will one day be my own…so my life is spread out in a painful dialectic between ashes and glory, between weakness and transfiguration. I am a riddle to myself, an exasperating enigma…the strange duality of dust and glory.”

From dust to glory 

Jesus broke the grip of the curse…

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Are you a judgmental Christian?

We are guilty of the kind of judging Jesus condemned when we make judgements of others in areas not specifically addressed by Scripture.

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“Judge not, lest you be judged.”god-judge-world.jpg.crop_display

These are perhaps the most well known words of Jesus. They’re commonly used to keep people from making moral judgments about others.

Try sharing a strong moral opinion in a mixed crowd and notice how quickly you’ll hear: “Judge not, lest you be judged.”

Others use these words to excuse themselves from making judgments. “Who am I to judge?” they ask. “After all, Jesus did say, ‘Judge not…’”

  • What did Jesus mean when he spoke these words?
  • Was he advocating a policy of minding your own business?
  • Was he forbidding all judgments about the actions of others?

Good question


John R. W. Stott asked if obedience to these words required us to “…suspend our critical faculties in relation to other people, to turn a blind eye to their faults (pretending not to notice them), to avoid all criticism and to…

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Every Jekyll has his Hyde

All_in_the_mindHumans (all humans) are divided beings. Our division is between dignity and depravity.

Amazing expressions of human dignity have always existed alongside large amounts of human selfishness, evil and violence.

Why are goodness and evil a universal reality?

Many years ago (1993), I choose for my morning reading, John R. W. Stott’s book “The Contemporary Christian.” I highly recommend it.

Stott emphasizes the dual nature of humans as beings of dignity (made in the image of the good Creator) and beings of depravity (fallen from that image). This explains a lot about the world and about our daily struggles. We find in each person a mix of good and bad – yet even the good is tainted in certain ways with the bad.

It reminds us of the words of the apostle Paul, “I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:18-19).

Two essential truths

  • Dignity – “There is an “intrinsic worth of human beings … God made man male and female in his own image and gave them a responsible stewardship of the earth and its creatures. He has endowed us with rational, moral, social, creative and spiritual faculties which make us like him and unlike the animals. Human beings are Godlike beings. Our Godlikeness has indeed been distorted, but it has not been destroyed.”
  • Depravity –  Those intended to be whole are now fallen, broken, partial and fractured. As a result, we can speak of our existence with a sad set of terms. We are lost, wayward, drifting, restless, alienated, separated, partial, incomplete, sinful and dying.

Who will help us?

One thing that is clear from history is that we cannot by our own intelligence and strength solve our dilemma.

“Faced with the horror of their own dichotomy,” Stott wrote, “some people are foolish enough to imagine that they can sort themselves out, banishing the evil and liberating the good within them.”

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

“The classic expression both of our human ambivalence and of our hopes of self-salvation was given by Robert Louis Stevenson in his famous tale The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde(1886). Henry Jekyll was a wealthy and respectable doctor, inclined to religion and philanthropy. But he was conscious that his personality had another and darker side, so that he was ‘committed to a profound duplicity of life’. He discovered that ‘man is not truly one, but truly two’. He then began to dream that he could solve the problem of his duality if only both sides of him could be ‘housed in separate identities’, the unjust going one way, and the just the other.  So he developed a drug by which he could assume the deformed body and evil personality of Mr. Hyde, his alter ego, through whom he gave vent to his passions—hatred, violence, blasphemy and even murder.”

“At first Dr. Jekyll was in control of his transformations, and boasted that the moment he chose he could be rid of Mr. Hyde forever. But gradually Hyde gained ascendancy over Jekyll, until he began to become Hyde involuntarily, and only by great effort could resume his existence as Jekyll. ‘I was slowly losing hold of my original and better self, and becoming slowly incorporated with my second and worse.’ Finally, a few moments before his exposure and arrest, he committed suicide.”

“The truth is that every Jekyll has his Hyde, whom he cannot control and who threatens to take him over. In fact, the continuing paradox of our humanness throws much light on both our private and our public lives” (The Contemporary Christian, John R. W. Stott).

No human being is irredeemable

“Because evil is so deeply entrenched within us, self-salvation is impossible. So our most urgent need is redemption, that is to say, a new beginning in life which offers us both a cleansing from the pollution of sin and a new heart, even a new creation, with new perspectives, new ambitions and new powers. And because we were made in God’s image, such redemption is possible.”

“No human being is irredeemable. For God came after us in Jesus Christ, and pursued us even to the desolate agony of the cross, where he took our place, bore our sin and died our death, in order that we might be forgiven. Then he rose, ascended and sent the Holy Spirit, who is able to enter our personality and change us from within. If there is any better news for the human race than this, I for one have never heard it” (The Contemporary Christian, John R. W. Stott).

Great insights!

Steve Cornell

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What does postmodern mean?

A helpful review for understanding cultural changes in our times.

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We live in a postmodern world. Or, so we’re told. What does this mean? Postmodern is a word used to describe changes in way people think — especially the way they view truth and reality.

Understanding post-modernity requires a review of modernity and the pre-modern world. What are the main differences in these eras?

Pre-modern, modern, post-modern

The pre-modern era was one in which religion was the primary source for truth and reality. God’s existence and revelation from God were widely accepted in the pre-modern world.

In the modern era, science became the predominate source of truth and reality. Religion (and the morality based on it) were arbitrarily demoted to a subjective realm.

In the postmodern era, there is no specific defining source for truth and reality beyond individual preference.

Post-modern

In postmodernity, relativism and individualism are radicalized and applied to all spheres of knowledge — even science. Truth…

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14 Spiritual Disciplines

Spiritual discipline is essential for spiritual maturity. We don’t reach maturity in our own strength (it is the work of the Holy Spirit), yet we are not passive recipients of God’s work in us. Spiritual maturity is the by-product of a spiritually disciplined life that is lived in constant dependence on God.

Challenge yourself in these disciplines and you will develop a deeper love for God.

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Seven Disciplines of Abstinence — Letting go — (I Peter 2:11- putting off)

  1. Solitude – Spending time alone with God. In our incredibly busy times, we need to prioritize alone time in the audience of One. This is indispensable to spiritual growth. Perhaps we must let go of some of our busyness.
  2. Fasting – Abstaining from food to express our dependence on God. Fasting is meant to be an act of humbling oneself before God to seek His help and deliverance. It is often associated with repentance (Deuteronomy 8:3-5; Matthew 4:2;6:16-18).
  3. Denial – Intentionally denying yourself certain legitimate pleasures to find your sufficiency in God and/or a higher fulfillment in God (Matthew 16:24-26).
  4. Sacrifice  Giving of ourselves and our resources beyond what seems reasonable to express our dependency on God (time/service/money). C.S. Lewis has written: “… if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc., is up to…

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