12 Things To Do When Criticized

Mark Altrogge writes...
We will all be criticized at one time or another. Sometimes justly, sometimes unjustly. Sometimes others’ criticism of us is harsh and undeserved. Sometimes we may need it. How do we respond to criticism? I haven’t always done well and I’m still learning, but here are a few things I try to think of when others criticize me.
Be quick to hear. (James 1:19)
This can be hard to do because our emotions rise up and our minds begin to think of ways to refute the other person.  To be quick to hear means we really do try to listen to and consider what the other person is saying. We don’t just write it off. Even if it seems unjust or undeserved.
Be slow to speak (James 1:19).
Don’t interrupt or respond too quickly. Let them finish. If you speak too quickly you might speak rashly or in anger.
Be slow to become angry.
Why? Because James 1:19-20 says the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Anger won’t make someone do the right thing. Remember, God is slow to anger, patient and long-suffering with those who offend him. How much more should we be.
Don’t rail back.
“When (Jesus) was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).  Talk about being unjustly accused – Jesus was, yet continued to trust the Lord and did not revile in return.
Give a gentle response.  
“A soft answer turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1). Be gracious even to those who offend you, even as God is gracious to us when we offend him.
Don’t defend yourself too quickly.
Defensiveness can rise out of pride and being unteachable.
Consider what might be true in the critique, even if it is given in a poor way.
Even if it is given with the intent to hurt or mock, there still might be something worth considering. God might be speaking to you through this person.
Remember the Cross.
Someone has said that people won’t say anything about us that the Cross hasn’t said and more, which is, we are sinners who deserve eternal punishment. So actually, anything anyone says about us is less than what the Cross has said about us.  Turn to God who accepts you in Christ unconditionally despite your many sins and failures.  We can be discouraged when we see areas of sin or failure but Jesus has paid for those on the cross and God is pleased with us because of Christ.
Consider the fact that you have blind spots  
We can’t always see ourselves accurately. Maybe this person is seeing something you can’t see about yourself.
Pray about the criticism
Ask God for wisdom – “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you” (Psalm 32:8).
Ask others for their opinion
Your critic could be right or completely off-the-wall. If this is an area of sin or weakness in your life, then others will have seen it too.
Consider the source.  
Don’t do this too quickly, but consider the other person’s possible motives, their level of expertise or wisdom, etc. They may be criticizing you to hurt you or they may not know what they’re talking about.
I don't know about you, but don't you kind of wish "completely freak out", or "pinch their neck off" were on that list?  Let's face it, all of us have been on both ends of the equation if we're being honest.  One lesson I learned long ago (although I still fail to remember on occasion) is this, "if they knew half the sin in my heart, they would rebuke me all the more."

Why Should You Go to A Prayer Meeting?

Erik Raymond writes

Chances are someone has invited you to a prayer meeting. Your immediate response is probably predictable. “What time is it? And where do you meet?” Your next response is also highly predictable, “Why should I go to a prayer meeting?” My goal in this post is to provide help with the latter question.

Here is my short-list of 6 reasons why you should go to a prayer meeting.
    1. Privilege- Sometimes we forget that prayer is a privilege. And it is not a cheap privilege. When we pray we are communing with the God of the universe, the originator and sustainer of all life. Further, we are talking to our Father. He is more than a cosmic superintendent he is our caring Savior. This family relationship, this access was purchased with the highest price, the royal currency of Christ’s blood. Don’t allow yourself to crowd out privilege with inconvenience.
    2. Community- In the NT we know that personal prayer is to be prioritized and protected (Matt. 6.6). But we also see community prayer modeled and prescribed (Acts 1.142 Tim. 2.1-8). There is great refreshment in the gathering of believers, in-dwelt and led by the Holy Spirit, calling upon Trinitarian Community while in the church community.
    3. Edification- Every time I pray with other believers I find myself edified. People often have different devotional soups on the front burner. God is preparing, teaching, and showing them different things than he is me. As these other believers pray they speak of what they are learning and how God is leading them to be sympathetic and burdened for others. This is surprisingly impactful and is a useful tool for my edification.
    4. Training- Along the lines of edification there is great training when believers pray together. I think of the disciples who asked Jesus to teach them to pray. Evidently Jesus’ prayers were so different than others that they heard; they wanted to be instructed in the school of prayer by its headmaster. So too we as believers, as we are instructed by Christ in the Scriptures, find ourselves training together in prayer. Some people may not come to a prayer meeting because they feel that they are not “good” at praying. But this is precisely why they should come. There is great training in the meetings.
    5. Serving- As believers gather together to lift of the needs of others and extol the beauty of God there is an aspect of service. This came home to me one day as a person in my family was very sick. In fact, it caused me to miss the weekly prayer meeting in the morning. Later that morning I received multiple messages from guys who were at the meeting saying how they were praying for the situation. I cannot detail the level of encouragement I received from this. Even so meeting, week after week, folks gather together to serve their brothers and sisters, their city, and saints around the world by lifting up petitions to God on their behalf.
    6. Reminder- There is little else you can do that will remind you of your neediness than prayer. In fact, your prayer life corresponds directly with how needy you really feel. When you carve out time to meet with other believers you are reminded of your great need and great privilege. You have to be reminded by virtue of the fact that you are coming to God through Christ and petitioning for the glory of God in this world! This is a tremendous blessing for us to be reminded of our need even as we call out in need.

A Good Dad is Hard to Find

Unreasonable, dissatisfied men roam this world. And many of them have children along the way. This is no surprise to our culture. The terrible father is a recurring motif in our literature and a common feature in our experience. You can read Mark Twain and Richard Wright, or you can talk to your child's classmate or a friend from church. A good dad is hard to find.

People have generally lost the sense of what a strong, self-sacrificing father looks like, largely because they've never seen one. Anyone with a listening ear and a speck of empathy can see the unique difficulty that growing up under a crummy father can cause.
Our early relational experiences---particularly with those entrusted with our care---are incredibly shaping. That's not a bad thing. In fact, it's part of God's design for human development. Through fathers and mothers, children receive a framework for understanding the world and everything in it, from important things like morality to relatively trivial things like clothing styles. Why else would God be so adamant that parents teach their children the knowledge of him in the context of the everyday activities of life (Deut 6:7; 11:19)? And alongside the words they speak, parents model the character of God in their affection for, generosity to, and patience with their children. This should be particularly true of fathers (Psalm 103:13, Matt 7:9-11, Eph 5:4, Col 3:21, 1 Thes 2:7-12).
So how can ministers of the gospel help people whose fathers were bad role models?
First, we recognize that earthly fathers can lie to their children about the nature of fatherhood.
Sadly, there is a wide spectrum of sins a father can commit against his children. Some fathers are volatile and moody, subjecting their children to an anxious existence. Other fathers are uncaring and unmotivated, showing little interest or delight in their children and thus depriving them of confidence in the relationship. Others are dissatisfied and accusatory, subjecting the children to impossible standards and punishing them with insults and manipulation. Still other fathers are lazy and indulgent, satiating their children with brightly colored distractions so that he can pursue distractions of his own. Each of these ways of relating to children lie to them about the nature of authority, fatherly dedication, familial intimacy, and the privileges of sonship.
Second, we recognize that these false beliefs about fatherhood can hinder a person from trusting the fatherhood of God.
This is not to say that something irreparable gets knocked loose in the subconscious during the developmental years. Rather, the false beliefs formed through experience can be more functionally significant than what we learn from Scripture. Often, people approach God with the kind of suspicion they developed for their fathers, projecting on him the same moodiness or ill intent they suffered under. But this is to interpret God in precisely the wrong direction. We don't project on God things from our experience. He reveals himself to us, by which we then understand our experience.
Third, we recognize that God's revelation of himself as Father is ultimately the only way to undermine false beliefs about fatherhood.
Believing the gospel of Jesus Christ is more than just rejoicing that my sins are forgiven and that Jesus is my righteousness. It is also involves believing in my adoption as a son (Eph 1:5, Gal 4:5) so that I can call out to God with the intimate confidence of a child-heir (Rom 8:15-17). God includes his children in the love he has for the eternal second person of the Trinity (John 17:23,26). Even those with excellent earthly fathers cannot imagine such generous divine fatherhood!
Faith in such a surpassing vision of fatherhood is a gift that God gives by the Holy Spirit through the proclamation of his Word. So we unapologetically rely on the Word to do what it alone can do. And as we cast this positive vision of God as he has revealed himself, we should also help identify and consciously put off those false beliefs about fatherhood that undermine childlike trust.
For instance, we may challenge others to consider the following lines of questioning to identify and oppose false beliefs provoked by poor fathering:
  • How is your conception of God similar to your conception of your earthly dad? Volatile and moody, uncaring and unmotivated, dissatisfied and accusatory, lazy and indulgent? What does Scripture say about your conception of God?
  • How do you feel toward God? Do these feelings line up with what you know from Scripture or with something else? What do your feelings indicate about your attitude toward God?
  • What is the Father's disposition toward you? Are you thinking of your relationship with God as dependent upon your efforts to appease him? Does God put the burden of the relationship on your shoulders?

Fourth, we help men to be earthly fathers who reflect their heavenly Father.
People with crummy dads may know better than anyone else the importance of a good dad but feel the least equipped to be one since they didn't benefit from an example. Specific instruction in parenting is very helpful for those who lack the background to sense it naturally. But the more specific the instruction, we must be careful not to imply that there is a single system of parenting that, if followed, will result in his being a good dad. I've seen men from homes with poor or absent fathers become almost militaristic in an attempt to avoid being an inattentive dad. I've seen others become almost indulgent in an attempt to avoid being a harsh one.
The secret to becoming a great father is not so secret: by faith, be a child of your heavenly Father. As you trust your Father, you will know what fatherhood was meant to be. Here's a pertinent prayer from Paul---that "the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints" (Eph 1:17-18).

Sounds That Can't Be Made

Today is the day Canadian "Marillionaires" have been waiting for.  I have already grabbed the latest offering from Marillion, "Sounds That Can't Be Made" from iTunes.  First impression...it is stunning; it very well could be their best.

Check out the trailer...

And the single "Power"

And the epic "Gaza"