Laudable Linkage

It’s been a little while since I have shared good finds on the Web. Here’s my most recent batch. Maybe you’ll find some of these good reading as well.

Partially Hydrogenated Bible Study. “Much like junk food manufacturers, Christian writers have been known to appeal to our senses to garner popularity. But the stakes for dining on spiritual junk food are high.”

Falling in Love With God’s Word, HT to True Woman.

The Gift of a Friend’s Rebuke. “Because I had not willfully sinned against her in my heart, my conscience had not been awakened to shine the light on my oversight. But still, I had hurt my friend. So much so that she no longer looked forward to hanging out with me, which was how she knew she needed to address it. Because she valued our friendship and cared about me, she spoke up, even though it was highly uncomfortable for her.”

The Surprise Meaning of Judge Not Lest You Be Judged.

Are We Doing Church Wrong?

Avoiding Difficult People, HT to True Woman. Though “there are clear circumstances that call for avoidance, distance, or even permanent severance from a relationship,” the “cultural philosophy of avoiding difficult people has an underlying worldview that should alarm any Christian.”

How Does She Do It? The Making of an Atypical Woman. HT to True Woman. “Isn’t that the beauty of God’s work in our lives? He takes us — the un-super, regular, sometimes scraping-by women — and he works on us.”

Kitchen Table Discipleship, HT to Story Warren. “So often we think our greatest accomplishments will come from outside the four walls of our house, but the discipleship we do right at the ‘kitchen table’ has eternal impact as we raise little ones to love and follow Jesus.”

Our Culture of Contempt, HT to Challies. “People often say that our problem in America today is incivility or intolerance. This is incorrect. Motive attribution asymmetry leads to something far worse: contempt, which is a noxious brew of anger and disgust. And not just contempt for other people’s ideas, but also for other people.” “Contempt makes political compromise and progress impossible. It also makes us unhappy as people.” “What we need is not to disagree less, but to disagree better.”

Famous Christian Quotes . . . That Aren’t Real, HT to Challies.

Evangelicals Embracing (and Rejecting) Lent, HT to Challies. I really appreciate the balance here. “What is more important than the practices we take on is the heart attitude behind them. If there’s anything we should give up this time of year, it’s our sense of superiority either to those outside the church or those inside the church who do things differently than we do.”

A thought from Pinterest. I couldn’t find where it originally came from to credit the creator.

And don’t forget, it’s that time of year (seems way early to me!)

 

Laudable Linkage

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Here are some noteworthy reads found recently.

On Giving Criticism As a Christian, HT to Challies.

Personality Assessments and the Wondrous Knowledge of Being Known, HT to True Woman. While some personality tests are helpful, Lore Ferguson Wilbert says, they are limited. “I cannot worship at the altar of my personality, but I can look at it honestly and ask the creator God to make and remake me until Christ comes again.”

Biblical CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) vs. Worldly CBT in relation to depression, HT to Challies. Applying truth to our thoughts.

5 Better Ways to “Argue” About Social Injustice, HT to Challies. If you’re not aware of it, there’s a maelstrom all over the internet concerning just how social justice should be exercised and to what degree it should be under the purview of churches and governments. As with most online storms, there’s more conjecture, accusation, and misrepresentation than there is real conversation.

Lawnmower Parents Are the New Helicopter Parents, HT to Story Warren. “Lawnmower parents go to whatever lengths necessary to prevent their child from having to face adversity, struggle, or failure. Instead of preparing children for challenges, they mow obstacles down so kids won’t experience them in the first place…But in raising children who have experienced minimal struggle, we are not creating a happier generation of kids. We are creating a generation that has no what idea what to do when they actually encounter struggle. A generation who panics or shuts down at the mere idea of failure. A generation for whom failure is far too painful, leaving them with coping mechanisms like addiction, blame, and internalization.”

Hope When Hope Is Lost, HT to Out of the Ordinary. “While we commemorate the stories of freedom fighters, we tend to overlook the vast majority of regular people like my grandmother whose own hopes were sacrificed on the altar of someone else’s ideologies, ambitions, or societal norms. Their stories deserve to be heard as well.”

When Disability Makes Your World Feel Small.

A Writer’s Prayer, HT to Out of the Ordinary.

I’ve read biographies of Amy Carmichael, one of them a few times, and several of her own books. So seeing this tour of the Dohnavur compound that the Lord enabled her to build, where she lived and ministered most of her life and where she died and is buried, meant a lot to me. It was neat to see there are still people there who knew her personally.

Receiving Criticism

I recently heard it said of someone that he doesn’t receive criticism well. And I thought, not many people do.

I have to admit, when someone points out something in my life that needs possible correction or attention, my first response is not, “Thank you! You’ve given me something to think about. I am so glad the Lord laid that on your heart to share with me.” It should be. But my first response to criticism (inwardly, at least) is more likely to be one of the following:

  • How dare you!
  • You just don’t understand.
  • Who do you think you are?
  • Oh yeah? Well, have you examined yourself lately?
  • What makes you think you’re right all the time?

Not very pretty, is it?

It should be no surprise to us that we’re not perfect, and no surprise that someone else notices that fact from time to time. We’re sinners — we naturally do wrong. We’d be the first to admit that we don’t have it all together. We’d never claim perfection. We probably know deep down that we have blind spots to some of our character flaws and that we tend to excuse or justify negative traits in ourselves that we see as faults in others (i.e., I’m determined but another who acts the same way is stubborn.)

Let someone try to correct us, and they are being hateful, petty, mean, or, one of the favorite adjectives in today’s Christianity, judgmental.

Here’s what Spurgeon had to say about being criticized:

“Brother, if any man thinks ill of you, do not be angry with him; for you are worse than he thinks you to be. If he charges you falsely on some point, yet be satisfied, for if he knew you better he might change the accusation, and you would be no gainer by the correction. If you have your moral portrait painted, and it is ugly, be satisfied; for it only needs a few blacker touches, and it would be still nearer the truth.” (Source unknown).

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Isn’t that the truth? Sure, some people are judgmental. Some are busybodies. Some correct too much or too easily. Some people who really mean well can correct in an unkind or hurtful way. Some are even wrong in their critiques. But whatever they’ve said, they don’t know the half of it. There’s plenty of fodder for criticism in any of our lives.

Not surprisingly, the Bible has much to say about receiving criticism or reproof or correction. Here is just a sampling.

For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life. Proverbs 6:23.

Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. Proverbs 9:8-9.

He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth. Proverbs 10:17.

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise. Proverbs 12:15.

Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured. Proverbs 13:18.

A scorner loveth not one that reproveth him: neither will he go unto the wise. Proverbs 15:12.

The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise. He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding. Proverbs 15:31-32.

A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool. Proverbs 17:10.

As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear. Proverbs 25:12.

I used to tell one of my sons who had trouble receiving correction that if he didn’t acknowledge that a certain action or attitude was wrong, he could not correct it or change it. I often shared with him Proverbs 28:13: “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”

So what’s the best way to respond to criticism? Here are a few tips that I know I need to put into practice:

  • Believe that the other person has your best interest at heart, or at least he or she is trying to make you better in some way. Thank them for their interest and concern.
  • Receive it calmly. Beware of responding defensively,  in angry retaliation, or in a wounded closing in on oneself. You may need to ask for time to process what they’ve said.
  • Examine it to see whether it’s valid.
  • Pray about it. Maybe it doesn’t seem valid because you have a blind spot that God is trying to alert you to.
  • Criticism stings so much primarily because of pride. “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble…Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:6, 10).

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  • If it is valid, do whatever you need to do to correct it. Confess it to the Lord if it is a sin (1 John 1:9) and to anyone else it has affected.
  • If it is not valid, explain to the person, kindly and calmly, why you feel you need to keep doing what you’re doing. There are times it will be invalid. For example, a pastor of a church of 200 may hear 25 (or more!) opinions of what he should do, some in direct conflict with each other.There is no way he can implement every suggestion or change everything to please everyone.

We can take comfort in the fact that God sees believers through His Son, Jesus Christ, and that once we savingly believe on Him, His righteousness is transferred to our account because He took our sinfulness on His. Because of His amazing grace, those who have believed on Christ for salvation become God’s children, and will have a home with Him in heaven. Our eternal life begins NOW, not when we die.

Yet until we get to heaven, we have a sin nature to contend with, and we’re instructed to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (II Peter 3:18). II Timothy 3:16-17 tell us: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (ESV). Part of that growing, completion, equipping, is realizing those areas where we have a problem and then seeking God’s grace and relying on His Word to change us. So when we receive a criticism, instead of just brushing it off, we can see if God means to use it to show us something we need to know about ourselves. We can prayerfully examine it to see if it is just, then we can confess it to the Lord (and to whomever else we might need to confess it) and correct it and grow in wisdom and character — and stop causing a problem in other people’s lives by continuing on in the fault. Isn’t that much better than hanging on to our hurt and indignation? And even if the criticism is invalid, perhaps God allowed it to put us through a time of self-examination and humbling.

There is only one perfect person in the universe, and as we behold Him, He changes us to be more like Himself:  But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. II Corinthians 3:18.

(Updated from the archives.)

(Sharing with Inspire Me Mondays, Literary Musing Mondays, Woman to Woman, Works For Me Wednesday, Thought-Provoking Thursday)

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Spurgeon on criticism

Someone posted this quote on Facebook recently:

“Brother, if any man thinks ill of you, do not be angry with him; for you are worse than he thinks you to be. If he charges you falsely on some point, yet be satisfied, for if he knew you better he might change the accusation, and you would be no gainer by the correction. If you have your moral portrait painted, and it is ugly, be satisfied; for it only needs a few blacker touches, and it would be still nearer the truth.” Spurgeon

The first sentence especially resonated with me. I was just discussing with my son yesterday that the first response to any criticism should be to examine it to see if there is any truth to it. I’m amazed at people who can’t take the merest suggestion that they might be doing something not quite right without becoming defensive and blowing up, or, in opposite fashion, becoming wounded and closing in on themselves.

Yet I have to admit, my first response to criticism isn’t, “Thank you: you’ve give me something to think about.” I might not say so out loud, but my first thoughts are likely to be something like, “You don’t understand,” or, “How DARE you!” or, “Oh yeah? Well take a look at yourself and deal with your own faults!” Not very pretty, is it? My first response should probably be, “Yes, and you don’t know the half of it!”

It should be no surprise to us that we’re not perfect, and no surprise that someone else notices that fact from time to time. Proverbs has much to say about hearing reproof:

For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life. Proverbs 6:23.

He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth. Proverbs 10:17.

Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured. Proverbs 13:18.

The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise. Proverbs 15:31.

He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding. Proverbs 15:32.

A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool. Proverbs 17:10.

We can take comfort in the fact that God sees believers through His Son, Jesus Christ, and that once we savingly believe on Him, His righteousness is transferred to our account because He took our sinfulness on His. Because of His amazing grace, those who have believed on Christ for salvation become God’s children, and will have a home with Him in heaven. Our eternal life begins NOW, not when we die.

Yet until we get to heaven, we have a sin nature to contend with, and we’re instructed to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (II Peter 3:18). II Timothy 3:16-17 tell us: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (ESV). Part of that growing, completion, equipping, is realizing those areas where we have a problem and then seeking God’s grace and relying on His Word to change us. So when we receive a criticism, instead of just brushing it off, we can see if God means to use it to show us something we need to know about ourselves.

There is only one perfect person in the universe, and as we behold Him, He changes us to be more like Himself:  But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. II Corinthians 3:18.