Lion chasers needed

How to survive and thrive when seemingly insurmountable obstacles or challenging opportunities roar.


Have you read, “In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day” by Mark Batterson? It’s based on one of the most courageous acts recorded in Scripture. Using this amazing story, Batterson challenges readers on surviving and thriving when opportunity roars. The scene comes from the Old Testament and I am sure most people are unfamiliar with it.  

“Benaiah son of Jehoiada was a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, who performed great exploits. He struck down two of Moab’s best men. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. And he struck down a huge Egyptian. Although the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear. Such were the exploits of Benaiah son of Jehoiada; he too was as…

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Are you a wise and discerning person?

a931d-tears4“To be wise is to know reality, to discern it. A discerning person notices things, attends to things, picks up on things. He notices the difference between tolerance and forgiveness, pleasure and joy, sentimentality and compassion.”

“Discernment shows a kind of attentive respect for reality. The discerning person notices not only the differences between things, but also the connections between them.”

“The really discerning person, the one whose discernment marks genuine wisdom, does not merely inspect reality, or analyze it: the one who discerns also loves.”

“To discern realities at their deeper levels, we have to become engaged in them, to bring both empathy and care to what we know. Discernment of the hopes and fears of other persons, for example, depends on compassion for them: knowledge of these persons comes in to us only if our hearts go out to them” (Cornelius Planinga Jr., “Not The Way It’s Suppose to Be”).

A voice worth hearing

  • “Wisdom shouts in the street, she lifts her voice in the square, at the head of the noisy streets she cries out, at the entrance of the gates of the city, she utters her sayings.” (pr. 1:20-21)
  • “Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her” (pr. 3:13-15).
  • “Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7; cf. Ephesians 5:15-17).

To the man in the street

“At the head of the noisy streets”, “at the entrance of the gates in the city”— in the city, wisdom is pictured “shouting”, “raising her voice”, “crying out”, and “uttering her sayings”, or “making her speech.”  Wisdom is not presenting herself in the quiet place of meditation.  She does not call out in the halls of academia.  “. . . the offer of wisdom is to the man in the street, and for the business of living, not to an elite for the pursuit of scholarship” (Derek Kidner, TOTC).

Wisdom “. . . strides from the ‘open squares’ (plazas used as markets) to the boulevards rumbling with the noise of traffic . . . to the several ‘gates’ where open spaces allowed people to assemble for trade or official business.  No behind-the-hand seductive whispering here; wisdom is a public figure, making her claims in the open and calling her disciples boldly to follow her” (David Hubbard, p. 55, Communicators Commentary).

The fear of the Lord

The truth that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom “keeps the shrewdness of proverbs from slipping into mere self-interest, the perplexity of Job from mutiny, and the disillusion of Ecclesiastes from final despair.” (The Wisdom of Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes, Derek Kidner).

I knew I needed wisdom

When I began ministry many years ago, a scene out of the life of Solomon greatly influenced me and became my prayer.

  • “At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, ‘Ask for whatever you want me to give you.’ Solomon answered, ‘You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.’ ‘Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?’” (I Kings 3:5-9).

I was unaware that gaining wisdom necessitated many hardships and trials. Gratefully, we have a promise of wisdom from God when we face the perplexing circumstances that so often come with our trials  –

  • “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).

this course has not ended,

Steve Cornell


Posted in Church Leadership, Discernment, Elders, elders in the Church, Emerging Leaders, Leadership, Life of a pastor, Pastors, Qualifications for leadership, Suffering, Trials, Wisdom | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

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.


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.


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.


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.


“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

Posted in Human depravity, Human dignity, Humanism, John R. W. Stott, John Stott, Salvation, Sin, Truth, Wisdom | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment