Archives For Criticism

people

Those outside of Christ have a perception of you. They know you are a follower of Christ; but how do they label you? Do they define you by all the beautiful life-giving things you are for, or do they define you by all the things you are against?

I once heard it said, “It should break our hearts that often we are known more for what we are against than what we are for, for who we have excluded than for who we have embraced.”

Years ago when I gave my life to Christ, I became part of the youth group at the church where I surrendered my life to Christ. It was an enthusiastic group of kids. They loved God very much. However, there was one thing that confused me much.

They spent a lot of time after the message in the altar praying. Now of course there was nothing wrong with that but it was some of the prayers I heard that confused me. The prayers didn’t confuse me because they were wrong. I think they confused me because they seemed incomplete. The prayers were one-sided prayers.

I would often hear prayers of repentance over sin they had committed in their lives. Of course,  there is nothing wrong with that because it’s the right thing to do. However, I would also hear prayers of repentance over things that were not sin. I’m not sure why they did that, but I can only assume it was motivated by the desire to be holy and closer to God. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with that, other than you’re repenting over something that doesn’t need repentance.

The thing that was missing were prayers that would accompany them out of an altar into the darkness of their world with the love, grace and mercy of Christ as their battle cry. Instead, I often saw these same kids walk into the darkness preaching their convictions onto those outside the faith. Therefore, many of them became known for what they were against, instead of what they were for.

I once heard Billy Graham say, “It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and my job to love.” I love that! I don’t have the ability to convict anyone. I do have the ability to bring guilt to someone but that not the same as the conviction the Holy Sprite brings. I much rather leave the task of drawing the heart of the outsider to Christ in the hands of the Spirit of God.

I don’t have the right to judge the outsider. That’s the job of God when He sees fit to do so. (Judging one another in the church is for another post) However, I will share just one scripture. 1 Cor 5:12, “It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning.”

It’s my job and your job to love! When we love and show God’s love to the world it melts and convicts the heart of the outsider. When people met Jesus, they didn’t walk away with an opinion of what He was against. (Well, the religious Pharisees did because they needed to be shook up) When people encountered Jesus, they walked away hopeful because of what He was for.

So, allow me to ask you one last time. Those outside the faith, Do they define you by all the beautiful life-giving things you are for, or do they define you by all the things you are against?

Live like Jesus. Love like Jesus and He will change the world through your witness.

Stage

 

You can only think about one thing at a time. Don’t believe me?

Try spelling aloud, “I love Jesus with all my heart” at the same time as you write down your address on paper. (Go ahead and try it; I’ll wait.)

I’m convinced this is a blessing and a gift of God.  There are times in our lives we need to fully immerse ourselves in Him and nothing else. We need to get our minds and hearts refocused on life giving thoughts and directions.

For instance, let’s say someone has broken your heart or wronged you in a particularly profound way. All you seem to be able to do is fixate on them and it’s driving you crazy. It steals your joy, your smile, your happiness, your forward motion and a host of other good emotions that belong to you.

When you have been wronged it brings pain. Pain is a part of life and often the hammer that drives the nail of suffering into your heart. When suffering takes over my emotions I have a choice to make. I can continue to think about it or think about the things Jesus told me to think about.

1 Peter 5:7, instructs us, “7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

You can take your pain and emotional distress and cast them on Him. You can cast them into the sea of His mercy and love and watch them sink away.

Often, we turn to God for help, but we don’t take Him the problem. We manage the problem under lock and key. We open it over and over again and complain about it. Instead, you must take it to Him and cast it upon Him. After all, that’s what He said to do. You want to be obedient, correct? I thought so.

It’s been said, “The human mind is like a stage. Only one performance can play at a time.” Now, let Jesus have the stage by thinking on the things He said to think on. He has given you the power to choose who will play on your stage. It can be the thought of a person that hurt you, or  Jesus who can heal you. It’s your move. God bless you.

Philippians 4:8-9
8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

eatingwithsinners

 

Matthew 9:11 “And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?'”

 

The religious folk always speak up, don’t they? Their questions are always self-righteous. Their questions always have a built-in motivation to separate the Christ follower from the darkness.

What if God never intended us to be separate from the darkness? What if instead, God wants us to bring light into the darkness? After all,  It’s not like God is afraid of the darkness. Psalm 139:12 declares, “even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.”

When was the last time you invited someone who is just rude, crude, and vile to have dinner with you?

I much rather look at my life not so much as a person who avoids darkness at all cost, but rather, I consider my life as a carrier of God’s light, marching through a dark world picking up broken people and showing them the King.

Have a great day; darkness is calling and I must eat with the sinners. I’ll be in good company. Jesus will be there.

P.S. How did Jesus answer the self-righteous?

Matthew 9:12 “On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

You can only LEARN WHAT THIS MEANS by going and doing. Just saying.

 

stop_complaining

Complaining feels like the right thing to do, when my world is falling apart. Complaining makes me feel like I’m fighting against injustice in my life. Complaining is something I falsely think I can control and direct in any direction that makes me feel a little better.

What about you? How do you view complaining? Do you like it? Does it feel good to complain when your world is not lining up the way you expected?

We like to complain because it seems to get the discontentment that is on the inside of us out. However, complaining is just downright wrong to do, and it changes nothing.

Complaining will never change the problem or problems you are facing. In fact, complaining most often causes more problems. Complaining spreads discontentment through your spirit faster than anything else I know.

The most devastating fruit of complaining is it keeps me from obeying God’s word and trusting Him with all of my life. When you complain, you reach into the hand of God and take little bits and pieces that you think should be changed the way you see it and not the way God see’s it.

In Philippians 2:14 we are instructed to “Do all things without grumbling…”

Notice the two words, ‘all things.’ That certainly sums it up! We are not to complain because God is in control of our lives. When we complain it is a form of non-trust in God’s working in and through our lives. When we complain, it is disobedience and unbelief. Worst of all, Complaining  gives place to the enemy to work stronger in your life.

So, what is the answer? What must we do?

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 gives us the answer and what to do. It tells us, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

For more on Complaining and some practical steps, see this post.

You are fired!

Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

No one wakes up in the morning and says, “I hope I get criticized today.” None of us pursues criticism, but criticism has a way of finding each of us.  We each love positive feedback that lifts us up and encourages us. However, along with positive feedback, there is a place for criticism in our lives.

As a pastor, I get my share of uplifting feedback, and I’m grateful when it happens. It’s nice to know you are loved, cared for and that something you have said or written has touched someone’s life in a positive way. Nevertheless, criticism finds it way to my doorstep also. I don’t have  a criticism shield that protects me from hard words, but I do have a way of navigating strong and sometime hash words.

1. Fast answers mostly make it worse

When I first hear or receive criticism, I tend to get defensive. I can feel hurt and anger start to gain a foothold on my heart. Therefore, I don’t answer the criticism fast. I take time to hear it again, read it again, and think through it. I want to first find any truth in the criticism that I can grow from. You can’t find the truth in criticism fast. You must find it slow.

2. I write what my flesh would like to say

I have fun with this one. I defuse my anger and hurt by GOING OFF in writing. I write strong in your face stuff. I respond like I’m in a war. I keep writing until I begin to laugh with just how silly my words of defense are. Once I’m done with writing, I delete it or throw it away.

3. I try and give the other person grace and pray

Often we only see criticism as all about us. However, that is just not the case. The other person might be condemning me because they are just hurt and needed to deflect their angry and pain toward another person. Therefore, I read the criticism again and look for pain that might be in their life. Then I pray for them. It’s hard to stay mad at someone you pray for.

4. I respond until its time not to respond anymore

If I respond I ask them question of clarification. I ask them question that help me to see their side. I can’t fully turn a situation around unless I really have a handle on what they are truly trying to say. If they answer back in a calm and mature manner, then I keep the conversation going. If they take it to a more ugly level…I stop responding and move on with my life.