Where can we find security and safety?

2Where can we find security and safety in a vulnerable and uncertain world?

“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge” (Psalm 62:1-2, 5-7).

Take note of the metaphors of security (rock, fortress, mighty rock), and the repetition of the word “alone.” God certainly uses other people in ways that offer comfort and security but God is the only unchangeable source of certainty. He is the only all-sufficient One! Our sufficiency must be in Him! (v. 10) (cf. Psalm 46:1-3; Psalm 59:16-17)

God is strong and loving

“One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong and that you, O Lord, are loving.” (Psalm 62:10-11).

How do we make this truth about God our experience? 

Practice Psalm 62:8 – “Trust in him at all times, O people, pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”

“Trust in your strong and loving God at all times.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 – with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding). Pour out your hearts to Him: for God is our refuge.

When you feel vulnerable or anxious, or when you feel misunderstood or misrepresented – pour out your heart to Him.

The Psalms help you do this! (cf. Psalm 42:1-6; Psalm 63:1-8). They lead you to the God who is your rock and refuge (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4; Philippians 4:6-7; Hebrews 4:16; 1 Peter 5:7).

in a vulnerable and uncertain world?

Steve Cornell

Posted in Comfort, Faith, feeling hopeless, God, God's Heart, God's Love, God's power, God's Protection, Hope?, Suffering, Trials, Weather, Wisdom | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pre-marriage

Resources for making the marriage decision

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Love must be earned

suggestion box handle with careWhen severe dysfunctions or significant disruptions are part of one’s upbringing, they cast a long shadow over adult life.

Minimizing or dismissing the effects of these experiences based on spiritual changes is not wise. Being a new creature in Christ, for example, does not erase the impact of a troubled upbringing. Superficial cliches like “forgive and forget” or “just put the past behind you” are equally naive and misdirected.

Consider the experience of Lindy (not her actual name)

One of the things Lindy learned from her Father was that love is earned.

Good behavior merited favor. Disobedience, or even non-conformity to his beliefs, earned his anger and distance. It was all about performance. If she displayed to others what he thought to be right and good, then she would receive approval from her dad. As long as she pretended to be the obedient, respectful child, she was accepted. She grew up in hypocrisy, not knowing her Father’s love. He was absent emotionally, and to this day, Lindy does not know him, though she still clearly hears his disapproval.

Lindy learned that many of her choices displeased her dad. According to him, she did not eat, dress, or date appropriately. Rather than gaining what her heart craved, she lost hope of ever being loved for who she was. She turned to other male relationships seeking affirmation and acceptance. During this phase of her life, the connection with her Father severed completely.

Lindy became a people-pleasing, empty, broken mess. All her male relationships further splintered her soul. When she could not bear the self-deception any longer, she enrolled at a Bible College in one last-ditch effort to ease the overwhelming pain in her heart. Perhaps total abandonment to God would grant her release from her consuming turmoil and please her Father. If she embraced God, perhaps the emptiness of her heart would fade away.

In college, she began to slowly see the layers of her deception and her troubled mind. Lindy became determined to submit entirely to God’s hold on her life. When she finally stopped running, she met a stable, godly guy and married him believing her past would become a distant memory … distant, perhaps but not forgotten.

For the next seventeen years of marriage, however, Lindy was baffled by unexplainable outbursts of anger and almost continual discontentment. What could be missing? She was married to a loving, supportive husband, was heavily involved in youth ministry, had four beautiful children.

Unable to pinpoint the cause of her unrest, Lindy finally broke. She hit a wall and admitted failure…personal, marital, parental, social, and to her dismay, even spiritual. She felt attacked on all fronts. Everything she was trying so hard to keep in balance came crashing down…simultaneously. Depression consumed her for the next three years. Could her problems still be traced to the deep void she felt from her distant Father?

Lindy told me her story when she was in her forties. She lived for years without understanding why she felt and acted as she did. I encounter people all the time who identify. They grew up in homes void of functionally healthy relationships. Many of them are skeptical about the possibility of good relationships because their past taught them not to be vulnerable, transparent, and trusting – three essentials to good relationships.

These people cycle through unexpected waves of sadness, depression, anxiety, irritability, and anger. Many of them do not understand why they battle these emotions. They are also unaware of ways that they multiply pain from their past because suppression and denial played a significant role during their troubled childhood.

It’s difficult being honest about the influences that have shaped our lives. And revisiting the past comes with risks. The journey could lead to wallowing in self-pity or feeding resentment. Such responses, however, only give the past victory over the present. Understanding our past must lead to freedom from the hold it has on our lives.

For the rest of Lindy’s story and a closer look at ways the past effects the future in more real-life stories, check out my book, “The 18-Year Factor: How our upbringing affects our lives and relationships.”

Steve Cornell

Posted in 18 Year factor, Child Abuse, Childhood trauma, Fathers, Love, Parenting, Parenting teens, Wisdom | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Path to legalism

The links below will help you understand and teach about the danger of legalism.

Steve Cornell

Posted in attitudes of unity, Church, Church membership, Legalism, Unity, Wisdom | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Total Depravity?

A truncated vision of humanity can result from the wrong starting point for a doctrine of total depravity. This then easily leads to over-renunciation.

via Total Depravity?

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Love is earned

One of the things Lindy learned from her Father was that love is earned.

Good behavior merited favor. Disobedience, or even non-conformity to his beliefs, earned his anger and distance.  It was all about performance. If she displayed to others what he thought to be right and good, then she would receive approval from her dad. As long as she pretended to be the obedient, respectful child, she was accepted. She grew up in hypocrisy, not knowing her Father’s love. He was absent emotionally, and to this day, Lindy does not know him, though she still clearly hears his disapproval.

Lindy learned that many of her choices displeased her dad. According to him, she did not eat, dress, or date appropriately. Rather than gaining what her heart craved,  she lost hope of ever being loved for who she was.  She turned to other male relationships seeking affirmation and acceptance. During this phase of her life, the connection with her Father severed completely.

Lindy became a people-pleasing, empty, broken mess. All her male relationships further splintered her soul. When she could not bear the self-deception any longer, she enrolled at a Bible College in one last-ditch effort to ease the overwhelming pain in her heart. Perhaps total abandonment to God would grant her release from her consuming turmoil and please her Father. If she embraced God, perhaps the emptiness of her heart would fade away.

In college, she began to slowly see the layers of her deception and her troubled mind. Lindy became determined to submit entirely to God’s hold on her life. When she finally stopped running, she met a stable, godly guy and married him believing her past would become a distant memory … distant, perhaps but not forgotten.

For the next seventeen years of marriage, however, Lindy was baffled by unexplainable outbursts of anger and almost continual discontentment. What could be missing? She was married to a loving, supportive husband, was heavily involved in youth ministry, had four beautiful children.

Unable to pinpoint the cause of her unrest, Lindy finally broke.  She hit a wall and admitted failure…personal, marital, parental, social, and to her dismay, even spiritual.  She felt attacked on all fronts. Everything she was trying so hard to keep in balance came crashing down…simultaneously. Depression consumed her for the next three years. Could her problems still be traced to the deep void she felt from her distant Father?

Lindy told me her story when she was in her forties. She lived for years without understanding why she felt and acted as she did. I encounter people all the time who identify. They grew up in homes void of functionally healthy relationships. Many of them are skeptical about the possibility of good relationships because their past taught them not to be vulnerable, transparent, and trusting – three essentials to good relationships.

These people cycle through unexpected waves of sadness, depression, anxiety, irritability, and anger. Many of them do not understand why they battle these emotions. They are also unaware of ways that they multiply pain from their past because suppression and denial played a significant role during their troubled childhood.

It’s difficult being honest about the influences that have shaped our lives. And revisiting the past comes with risks. The journey could lead to wallowing in self-pity or feeding resentment. Such responses, however, only give the past victory over the present. Understanding our past must lead to freedom from the hold it has on our lives.

Allow God to access the painful parts of your past with his transforming grace. He’s great at recycling our junk, and using it to help us help others!

For the rest of Lindy’s story and a closer look at ways the past effects the future in more real-life stories, check out my book, “The 18-Year Factor: How our upbringing affects our lives and relationships.”

Steve Cornell

Posted in 18 Year factor, Wisdom | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Rain on the just and the unjust?

ask-question-1-ff9bc6fa5eaa0d7667ae7a5a4c61330cEnter the conversation

I’ve been thinking a lot about the implications of what Jesus said about God – “He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).

Seven questions

  1. What does the context contribute to the meaning?
  2. What are some of the broader implications theologically and philosophically – in terms of the way the world works?
  3. People sometimes pray for sunny days for their outings. Are such days reserved for the good and the just?
  4. How directly is God involved in distributing sunny and rainy days?
  5. And who fits in each category? Who are the “evil” and “unjust”? Who are the “good” and “just”?
  6. How does reference to the “just” relate with those who are declared “just” in Christ?
  7. How does this fit the larger discussion about common grace?

Context: Jesus words are seated in a startling countercultural command: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (vv. 43–44). Why? “That you may be children of your Father in heaven.”

  • Matthew 5:43-48 – “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

More thoughts to come, and I welcome your input.

Steve Cornell

Posted in Jesus Christ, Justice, Sermon on the Mount, Teaching of Jesus, Weather, Wisdom | Tagged , , | Leave a comment