Getting the Best Out of Criticism

I’m always alert to good advice on how to respond to life’s challenges. Because of my personality type I’m extra sensitive to criticism. And, due to being messed up, I’m well acquainted with criticism, mostly very well deserved. So, when I saw this article by Christian writer Shane Pruitt, it immediately grabbed my attention. I love this article. It describes a very practical way of dealing with the criticism which is sure to come to each of us in one way or another — even those who are not so terribly messed up. The article appeared at: www.alreadyam.com as: 3 Ways to Respond to Criticism. I hope you enjoy it. RMF

3 Ways to Respond to Criticism
By Shane Pruitt

Shane Pruitt

In life, there are three things that we can’t avoid: death, taxes, and criticism. From the suburbs of Texas to the urban areas of New York to the jungles of the Congo to the mountains of Nepal, people are desperately trying to figure out how to respond to criticism.
Criticism is “the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes.”
We receive it, we despise it, we can’t avoid it, and most of the time it hits us when we least expect it. Criticism can come from our all sorts of people—our spouse, boss, friend, enemy, church member, or a complete stranger. Although, we can’t control how criticism comes our way, we can control how we respond to it.

There is a hope and a strategy. It’s what I call the C.O.T Response. Usually a cot is thought of as a portable bed used for lying down. However, C.O.T. allows you to respond to criticism in a healthy way, and not lay down in defeat, doubt, or discouragement.
Here are three ways to respond to criticism:
Chuck It: As a Christian, one thing that you can never forget is that you are in the middle of a spiritual warfare. You’re not wrestling “against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).” You may not be ultimately fighting against flesh and blood, but the enemy sure does use the flesh of red-blooded people to destroy, discourage, and dissuade you from following the will of God. Yes, God is alive, but so is the devil. You can be sure that wherever God is moving, Satan will be attacking. It’s in moments like these that you need to discern the wiles of the enemy through criticism, and “chuck it”! “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).” Don’t be devoured by criticism.

  Own It: Let’s face it. Some of the most insecure people in the world are Christians, especially us Christian leaders. We tend to wear our feelings on our sleeves. We don’t enjoy being challenged, questioned, or criticized. However, you need to own up to a very import truth every single day—You are not perfect! Let’s be honest, we all make mistakes, a lot of them! There are moments in your life where you’re just not operating in the Spirit but rather walking in the flesh and making a mess. The Lord says that you must constantly, “consider your ways (Haggai 1:7).” There are moments when you to flat out need to “own it” because its time to consider your ways, then change your ways. You cannot arrogantly assume that every word of criticism is coming from someone being used by the enemy. In fact, sometimes those challenging statements are coming from someone being used by God because you needed to hear them!

Test It:There are times when you’ll know immediately that someone is operating in the flesh and/or being used by the enemy to speak to you with ill-intentions. There will be other times when you’ll be convicted by the Holy Spirit knowing that you’re in the wrong, with the wrong attitude, with the wrong motivation, and God showed you grace by speaking to you through someone else. However, most of the time it is not going to be so easy to know how you should respond to the criticism. Should you “chuck it” or “own it”? In those moments when it’s not so clear, what should you do? It’s in these scenarios where you should “test it.” There are three ways to do this.

  1. When criticism comes your way, the first thing you should do is take it to God in prayer. Ask Him to reveal truth in those critical moments, to bring comfort when you need protection from the enemy, and to convict you when people need protection from you.
  2. Second, test it with Scripture. God is not going to speak through someone in a way that is contrary to His Word.
  3. Third, seek wise counsel. People that you love and trust will be able to protect you from harmful words but will also be able to tell you when you’re in the wrong and need to change.Aristotle once said, “Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” Always remember, if you’re doing anything of substance and meaning, criticism will come your way. It can’t be avoided, but it can be advantageous if you respond properly.

P.S.   The other side of criticism is praise.  One of my life heroes, Coach John Wooden, addressed both issues when he said: “You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.”  Coach was right.  RMF

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Prayer and Healing

There is a ton of misunderstanding regarding prayer and healing.  The following article by one of my favorite Christian authors, Randy Alcorn, and the accompanying video interview of Joni Eareckson Tada by Pastor Todd Wagner shed some much needed light onto the subject.  For those of us who have the privilege of offering intercessory prayer for others it is particularly important to have a clear understanding of the way that God deals with pain and suffering in general.  The article appeared at: Eternal Perspectives Ministry  as: If I Have Enough Faith, Will God Heal Me? RMF

If I Have Enough Faith, Will God Heal Me?
Randy Alcorn

Pastor Randy Alcorn
Eternal Perspective Ministries

Okay, first let me say this: if you don’t have much time, just skip through what I’ve written below and go to the video at the end where Joni Eareckson Tada is interviewed by Todd Wagner. What Joni says in this video is more important than what I say below (though I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t think it was also important).

When I became insulin-dependent in 1985, I wondered who wanted me ill, Satan or God. The obvious answer? Satan. But I’m also convinced, as was the apostle Paul, that the ultimate answer is God. Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, saw God’s sovereignty, grace, and humbling purpose of his disease (see 2 Corinthians 12:7–10). I have clearly and repeatedly seen the same in my own life.  Continue reading

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When to Keep Your Mouth Shut

When to Keep Your Mouth Shut

Its been said that: “Words are free. It’s how you use them that may cost you.”  And Proverbs 21:23 teaches that: “Whosoever keepeth his mouth and his tongue, keepeth his soul from trouble.”  That being the case and in order to avoid trouble, the following is a list of situations where it is probably wise to say nothing without giving real serious thought to what you’re doing and the possible consequences.  I know from painful personal experience that each of these admonitions is well founded.  I’m just say’n.  RMF

  Don’t open your mouth:

• In the heat of anger – Proverbs 14:17
• When you don’t have all the facts – Proverbs 18:13
• When you haven’t verified the story – Deuteronomy 17:6
• If your words will offend a weaker brother – 1 Corinthians 8:11
• If your words will reflect poorly on the Lord or your friends and family – Peter 2:21-23
• When you are tempted to joke about sin – Proverbs 14:9
• When you would be ashamed of or regret your words later – Proverbs 8:8
• When you are tempted to make light of holy things – Ecclesiastes 5:2
• If the issue is none of your business – Proverbs 14:10
• When you are tempted to tell an outright lie, convey misleading or incomplete information, or leave a wrong impression. – Proverbs 4:24; 17:27, Zachariah 8:16
• If your words will damage someone’s reputation – Proverbs 16:27, Leviticus 19:16
• If your words will destroy or endanger a friendship – Proverbs 25:28
• When you are feeling critical – James 3:9
• When you should be listening – Proverbs 13:1
• If you may have to eat your words later – Proverbs 18:21
• If you have already said it more than once (it becomes nagging) – Proverbs 19:13
• When you are tempted to flatter a wicked person – Proverbs 24:24
• When you are supposed to be working instead – Proverbs 14:23

It is also wise to zip the lip: when tempted to boast, when your words would be idle chatter, if your words would be heard as profanity, and if your words would betray a confidence.

 

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What to think about Evolution

I once heard it said that if you can accept as true the first sentence in the Bible, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” (Genesis 1:1) you shouldn’t have trouble believing anything else in the Bible. Since creation was itself a miracle that I believe happened I no longer have any difficulty believing that God could and did perform all the miracles and other events recorded on the pages of Scripture. Any way you cut it we are here and everything started from nothing at the beginning, before there was time or matter. Exactly how God chose to get us to where we are will be debated by folks far smarter the me until all is revealed in eternity. That being said I do appreciate hearing and reading about discoveries that reveal ever more clearly God’s awesome creative ability and all to His great glory. The following is an article by Pastor Bob Russell explaining his position on the theory of Theistic evolution. The article appeared first at: www.BobRussell.org as: Six Reasons Why I Don’t Believe In Theistic Evolution.  RMF

 

Six Reasons Why I Don’t Believe in Theistic Evolution

QUESTION: My daughter is a junior in High School. She asked me last night if I could help her with a paper she was writing on Theistic evolution. Her teacher, who is a Christian, had suggested that Genesis is figurative and the writers of the Bible were using symbolic language to accommodate the understanding of their day. His position is that since we now know evolution is factual we can better understand the metaphorical language of Scripture. Can you provide any help?

Pastor Bob Russell

MY ANSWER
I’m certainly not a scientist and I am no expert on evolution. And I’m not in a position to condemn someone who believes in Theistic evolution. However, I am a student of God’s Word and I am told in Scripture that the wisdom of God supersedes the wisdom of man. Here are six reasons why I don’t believe in Theistic evolution.   Continue reading

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Roe v. Wade – Unsettled

With the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court the rhetoric regarding the Roe v. Wade ruling has re-erupted. Well, actually, the clamor over the ruling, which has resulted in millions of abortions, has never really subsided, at least not for long. The big question the court will be addressing in the future will be whether sufficient precedent has been established to render the right to an abortion a “settled” Constitutional right as has been claimed. Writing persuasively on the issue is Clarke Forsythe, Acting President & Senior Counsel at Americans United for Life and author of Abuse of Discretion: The Inside Story of Roe v. Wade (Encounter Books 2013).  The following article by Mr. Forsythe: How Can Anyone Think That Roe v. Wade is “Settled”?  appeared at dailycaller.com.  I am deeply grateful for Mr. Forsythe and others like him who are skilled in their ability to speak up for the not-yet-born who are unable to speak for themselves.  RMF

How Can Anyone Think That Roe V. Wade Is “Settled”?

by Clarke Forsythe

 

Clarke Forsythe

  It’s a tragedy for the Supreme Court and the American people that Supreme Court confirmation hearings have been so terribly skewed for 45 years by undue emphasis on one case, Roe v. Wade. We should hope that one day Roe v. Wade is overturned, and the abortion issue returned to the people, so that the range of important constitutional and federal issues can be given proper treatment in the assessment of Supreme Court nominees. But that is not where we are today.

In her opening statement on day one of the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Judge Neil Gorsuch, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) singled out Roe v. Wade—the

Senator Dianne Feinstein

Supreme Court’s 1973 decision that legalized abortion for any reason, at any time, in every state—as the most important Supreme Court decision that she wanted the judge to keep, saying it was “super precedent” because it had been affirmed in 39 cases.  Continue reading

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Saint Patrick’s Day – Beyond the Hoopla and Green Beer

It seems that few today know the origins of Saint Patrick’s Day and the man whose day we celebrate.  The following article by Professor Edith M. Humphrey can remedy that for us.  And it does so not in just a Wikipedia sort of way but in a manner which captures the spiritual essence of the life and mission of the man and his evangelistic mission.  Dr. Edith M. Humphrey is Professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. She is an active member of the Orthodox Church (attending St. George’s Antiochian Church, Oakland).  Her article appeared at: blogs.ancientfaith.com as: St. Patrick, Natural Icons and the Sacramental Creation.  RMF

St. Patrick, Natural Icons and the Sacramental Creation

by Edith M. Humphrey

Readings: Isaiah 13:2-13; Genesis 8:4-21; Proverbs 10:31-11:12

Professor Edith M. Humphrey

St. Patrick, the Bishop of Armagh and Enlightener of Ireland, was born as a slave in Britain—either Scotland or Wales— between 385 and 390, travelled to Ireland in response to the call of God, eventually became bishop of the area of Armagh, in Northern Ireland, and died, having braved many dangers for Christ, on March 17, 461. Today his name is, alas, associated with carousing and noise, activities that deformed his feast-day, perhaps as those weary with Lent sought a release from fasting! Because of the uproarious nature of the popular holiday, the bishop’s lasting legacy as a primary missionary in Ireland is almost forgotten, except for the wearing of the green (with a touch of orange, if you hail from Northern Ireland), and a fleeting association with the shamrock.

The Kontakion [a form of hymn performed in the Orthodox Church and the Eastern Catholic Churches that follow the Byzantine Rite. RMF] for his feast-day is instructive:

From slavery you escaped to freedom in Christ’s service:
He sent you to deliver Ireland from the devil’s bondage.
You planted the Word of the Gospel in pagan hearts.
In your journeys and hardships you rivaled the Apostle Paul!
Having received the reward for your labors in heaven,
Never cease to pray for the flock you have gathered on earth,
Holy Bishop Patrick!

Armagh, Ireland

The celebratory atmosphere of the contemporary St. Patrick’s day celebration is a distortion of the positive approach to God’s creation that we see in the Saint. Though an imperfect symbol, the shamrock, a three-in-one plant, was close at hand everywhere, and became a useful bridge by which St. Patrick could lift their eyes to the Triune God, the Creator of all. We also see St. Patrick’s celebration of God’s world in that famous hymn called the Lorica, or Breastplate of St. Patrick. The story goes that this luminous  Continue reading

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