13 red flags identifying antagonists

  • “…watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned.” (Romans 16:17)
  • “God hates the person who stirs up conflict in the community”? (Proverbs 6:16-19).

These individuals use a variety of deceitful tactics to separate and alienate people from each other. They take twisted pleasure in dividing people, especially if it draws a following for themselves.

They use subtle innuendo, ask questions with raised eyebrows, and resort to flattery. But they often couch their attacks as concerns — even godly concerns.

  • Jude described such people as, “grumblers and faultfinders; ..who… flatter others for their own advantage” (v. 16).

Watch out – wolves in sheep clothing

Although they conceal their identity behind veneers of concern and displays of godliness, this person is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

  • He especially targets leaders in a Church or an organization.
  • He has inordinate desires for attention and control. He sows seeds of distrust to turn people against each other.
  • He drives wedges between friends, neighbors, relatives and even church members.
  • Like Absalom, sometimes he does this to win the loyalties of others to himself and his agenda. Or, it he simply takes perverted pleasure in separating people.

Whatever the motivation, God hates the person who engages in this evil behavior (see: Proverbs 6:16-19).

Consider 13 red flags that warn us of potential antagonists.

Wisdomforlife

2c80b-newyear2013goalsandresolutionsThe 13 red flags below provide training material for equipping Church leaders and members in discerning the presence of antagonistic people.

This material is from the book, “Antagonists in the Church” by Kenneth C. Haugk. He suggests that the presence of one or more red flags does not guarantee that you are dealing with an antagonist. But it will give you fair warning to exercise caution.

  1. THE PREVIOUS TRACK RECORD FLAG – Some antagonists will wave a red flag announcing: “See how antagonistically I behaved before!” They could have played the role of antagonist earlier in the present congregation, or they might have done so in another congregation. Do not ignore this clear flag or say, “It won’t happen to me.” The data indicates that those with antagonistic track records tend not to reform.
  2. THE PARALLEL TRACK RECORD FLAG – Individuals who behave antagonistically in other arenas of life…

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When counseling others…

Care-Ministry-Logo-FOR-WEBMeaningful relationships will involve opportunities to encourage and counsel others. Consider some practical guidelines for being an effective friend when giving counsel to others.

1. Slow down and listen

  • Proverbs 18:13 – “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.”
  • James 1:19 – “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak…”
  • Proverbs 18:17 – “The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.”
  • Proverbs 20:5 – “The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.”

2. Counsel the whole person (avoid the trap of being one-dimensional)

Three dimensions of life

  1. Physical beings with bodily needs
  2. Social beings with relationship needs
  3. Spiritual beings with spiritual needs

Three dimensions of personhood

  1. Intellect (mind, thoughts, imagination)
  2. Will (volition, decision-making)
  3. Emotions (affections, feelings)

3. Consider four keys to influence

  1. Develop a relationship of trust and respect
  2. Know the right time and place (avoid giving uninvited advice)
  3. Know how to say something (suggest, suggest…) Not – “You should…” or “You need to …” But – “I have found helpful… What has helped us…” “A Scripture that has helped think about this is…”
  4. Be humble and sympathetic (Hebrews 4:15)

 4. Follow seven guidelines

  1. Give them a full line of moral credit (dignity and respect)
  2. Listen for the whole story (the story behind the story)
  3. Weigh the effects of each dimension of life and personhood
  4. Ask if they are weak or willful (encouragement or rebuke)
  5. Expose false or unrealistic ways of thinking
  6. Provide truth to counter wrong thinking
  7. Map a path to life as it was meant to be – all dimensions in view.

 5. Three callings for life together …

  • Bear with one anotherEphesians 4:2 – “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love”
  • Build up one anotherRomans 14:19 -“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification (building others up)”
  • Accept one anotherRomans 15:7 – “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”

6. Two principles for conflicts

  1. Confronting in love – Ephesians 4:15 “…speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ” (Matthew18:15)
  2. Covering in love I Peter 4:8 – Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” * Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs.

Steve Cornell

 

Posted in Accountability, Christian Counselor, Church Leadership, Church membership, Communication, Community, Counseling, elders in the Church, Encouragement, Local Church, Wisdom | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The most amazing person who ever lived

sun.earthWithout a doubt, Jesus Christ is the most amazing person who ever lived on this planet.

Hear me out.

Although born in obscurity more than 2,000 years ago, the world can’t escape the legacy and global influence of Jesus.

No individual comes close to the impact He has made on humanity.

How unexpected that this seemingly obscure person — from an even more obscure period of history — continues to make front page appearances on so many non-religious magazines!

“Jesus of Nazareth remains the most important individual who has ever lived. Nobody else has had comparable influence over so many nations for so long. Nobody else has so affected art and literature, music and drama. Nobody else can remotely match his record in the liberation, the healing and the education of mankind. Nobody else has such a multitude not only of followers but of worshippers.”

“Our claim, then, is not just that Jesus was one of the great spiritual leaders of the world. It would be hopelessly incongruous to refer to him as ‘Jesus the Great’, comparable to Alexander the Great, Charles the Great, or Napoleon the Great.  Jesus is not ‘the Great’; he is the only. He has no peers, no rivals, and no successors.” Because of his identity as God, Jesus Christ is not to be relegated, like other religious leaders, to history and the history books. He is not dead and gone, finished and fossilized. He is alive and active. He calls us to follow him, and he offers himself to us as our indwelling and transforming Savior” (John R. W. Stott).

He defies normal categories

Jesus Christ can only be explained by using terms that defy normal categories. The terms needed to explain him go beyond our reality and shatter common assumptions.

Here is one who…

  • healed the sick
  • made the lame walk
  • opened the eyes of the blind
  • raised the dead to life

What do you do with one who…

  • fulfilled ancient prophecies in his birth, life and death?
  • predicted his own death and resurrection?
  • claimed to exist before Abraham was born?
  • claimed the right to forgive sins?
  • claimed that he would be the judge of all people?
  • claimed eternal duration for his words?
  • claimed equality with God?
  • claimed the ability to give eternal life to those who believe on him?

We simply don’t have a normal human category for Jesus!

  • Pre-existence?
  • Virgin birth?
  • Incarnation?
  • Resurrection?
  • Ascension?
  • Promised return?

It’s too much for us to wrap our finite minds around. He is far more than human imagination would invent.

All of this demands a God who “breaks in” on the natural order. Jesus Christ is so extraordinarily unprecedented that he shatters our categories and demands our worship.

Some find Jesus a bit difficult to accept because of His exclusive claims – particularly  about being the only way to God.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the father but through me” (John 14:6). “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people.” (I Timothy 2:6)

The death of Jesus is repeatedly emphasized as something offered for the sins of the world, for all people; for the whole world (see: John 3:16,17; I John 2:1-2). And his death, as the great demonstration of God’s love, is the only way to be forgiven and accepted by God.

Seven inclusive truths testify to the extensive reach of God’s love through Jesus

  1. God has demonstrated his love for all people (John 3:16).
  2. God desires the salvation of all people (I Timothy 2:3-4).
  3. God has made provision for the salvation of all people (I John 2:2).
  4. God commands all people to repent (Acts 17:30).
  5. God will hold all people accountable for their response (Acts 17:31).
  6. God takes no pleasure in anyone’s rejection of his love (Ezekiel    18:23,32).
  7. God will save all people who place faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (John 3:16).

The just penalty our sin deserves is death (and we all die). But the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23).

We cannot hide from the dreadful reality of death. Jesus, however, offers to transform our understanding of death. He said,” Because I live you also will live (John 14:19).  Jesus made this staggering promise: “…everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Do you believe in Him? Are you trusting what He did for our elternal salvation?

Posted in Birth of Jesus, Christian worldview, Christianity, Christmas, Christology, Death of Christ, Incarnation, Jesus Christ, True Christianity?, Virgin Birth, Wisdom | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Why does the story continue?

cropped-rural-christmas-scene_5621.jpg

  • Why do millions of people throughout the world focus on the heartwarming story of Joseph and Mary bringing Jesus into the world?
  • Why has this quaint story from so long ago captured worldwide attention – for more than two thousand years?
  • Why are there thousands of re-enactments of this scene on every continent of the globe each year?
  • Could this all be attributed to the power of tradition?
  • Or, is there more to what happened on that night?

Consider the un-sanitized version of the Christmas story here 

Steve Cornell

 

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Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility

Scripture will not tolerate any view of God’s sovereign control that eliminates human responsibility.

Wisdomforlife

Welcome to a subject that has intrigued and confused many. Divine sovereignty and human responsibility are equally revealed truths, but they are not truths that are completely accessible to finite minds.

As you to contemplate these great truths here, I pray it will result in worship of the One who is, who was and who is to come, the Almighty!

May it also encourage us to practice the wisdom of this counsel:

“Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few” (Ecclesiastes 5:2). 

We must walk with awe and humility lest we cross a line that brings God to ask, “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me” (Job 38:2-3). 

Seasoned reflection

Many excellent teachers have offered seasoned…

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10 marks of immature Christians

You might be an immature Christian if…

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You might be an immature Christian if…

  1. You rest too much on your observance of Christian duties (ex: Bible reading, prayer, etc.). “As it is a sign of an apostate professor to call of duty, so it is also a note of a young and weak professor to rest too much upon his duties.”
  2. You aren’t able to see the faults in your successes. “A weak Christian does not have clear insight into the close and spiritual failing which cleave to his performances.”
  3. You focus your attention on matters of indifference. “Not to know our liberty, and to abuse our liberty, is an argument we have but little grace. Young converts call more things sins than ever God did”
  4. You neglect your worldly callings. This would be like the Thessalonians who stopped being a working part of society as the waited upon the Second Coming. Neglecting your family, your job…

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Where is the peace on earth?

Peace is a good word for the Christmas season, but some find it difficult to believe. A familiar Christmas carol illustrates this struggle.
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I heard the Bells on Christmas Day
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Upon news of his son being wounded in the American Civil War, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the poem, “I heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” He found it difficult to believe the Christmas message of peace on earth.
Many can identify with his words.

“I heard the bells on Christmas day Their old familiar carols play, And wild and sweet the words repeat of peace on earth, good will to men.”

“And in despair I bowed my head ‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said, ‘For hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men.’”

“Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: ‘God is not dead, nor does He sleep; The wrong shall fail, the right prevail with peace on earth, good will to men.’”

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We are called to make peace a priority
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  • “Make every effort to live in peace with all men (Hebrews 12:14)
  • “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18)
  • “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,… Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace” (Romans 14:17-19).
  • “Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).
  • “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving” (James 3:17).
  • “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace” (I Corinthians 14:33)
  • “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him” (Romans 15:13).
  • “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way” (II Thess. 3:16).
  • “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9).
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Pray this way…
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Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.
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Four dimensions of peace from God
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1. Vertical – Peace with God

“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us” (Romans 5:1, NLT).

2. Horizontal – Peace between people — even those who are normally hostile toward each other

“For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. …. He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us” (Ephesians 2:14,17-18, NLT).

3. Internal – Peace within – God’s peace conquers our deepest anxieties.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, NLT).

 

4. Eternal – Peace forever!

“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end” (Isaiah 9:6-7, NLT).

Steve Cornell

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