Posts Tagged ‘criticism’

The day after Easter

Monday, April 17th, 2017

The day after Easter brings us a simple word-of-the-week…

AND

Most of us read some version of this passage over the weekend.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” (Mark 16:6-7)

I’ve likely read the account a hundred times without noticing it. The “and.” Read it again.

“…tell his disciples and Peter…”

Peter was one of the disciples, so why the and?  I think they all knew, and the angel knew they knew. Knew that Peter had denied Jesus, not once but three times! I think they wondered if denying Jesus in that terrible moment was too much. I think they wondered if Peter was still welcomed by Jesus, and the angel knew they wondered.

The angel left no doubt. Peter was still on the team.

Peter messed up pretty badly. Not only was he not kicked out, he got a special invitation. God’s angel made sure everyone knew grace and forgiveness were still part of the deal.

That’s good news for you and me.

It’s Monday. He’s risen. He’s going ahead. We’ve got an engraved invitation. Let’s follow.

You may also want to read: Easter: The Big Event, and then—what?

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God is your refuge – and underneath are the everlasting arms!

Monday, February 6th, 2017

“The eternal God is your refuge — and underneath are the everlasting arms!” Deuteronomy 33:27

If we are held in the clasp of the everlasting arms — we need not fear that we shall ever be separated from the enfolding. “Underneath.” They are always underneath us. No matter how low we sink in weakness, in fainting, in pain, in sorrow — we never can sink below these everlasting arms. We can never drop out of their clasp!

God’s love is deeper than human sorrow. Sorrow is very deep, but still and forever, in the greatest grief — these arms of Divine love are underneath the believing sufferer.

God’s love is deeper than death. When every earthly support is gone from beneath us, when every human arm unclasps and every face fades from before our eyes, and we sink away into what seems darkness and the shadow of death — we shall only sink into the everlasting arms!

Drop your plummet into the deepest sea of sorrow, and at the end of your soundings: “Underneath are the everlasting arms!”

What abiding consolation! What all-embracing, never-failing strength!

~J.C. Pittman, 1917

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A New Beginning

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

“As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12 King James Version

Someone reminded me of a bad decision I made a few years ago.  For a few minutes, satan tried to discourage me and then God brought our Scripture verse to my mind.  This is why it is so important that we hide the Word of God in our hearts.  When we repent of our sins and ask God to forgive us and the blood of Jesus Christ is applied to our hearts for the forgiveness of our sins, we have been forgiven.

We have a new life and a new beginning and when we say to God “Remember what I did several years ago?”  He will say to us “I don’t know what you’re talking about because I don’t remember that.”  Does this mean that God has a bad memory?  Of course not, it means that He makes a choice to forgive and forget and never hold it against us again.

May God help us to love others as He loves us.  We also need to make the choice to forgive people and then forget about it and never hold it against them again.  However, many times we harbor unforgiveness, resentment and bitterness in our hearts instead of letting it go.  I am so glad to know that when I fail God, and I do fail Him just like you do, He forgives me and forgets it.

Don’t let people put you under guilt because of something you did in the past.  If you asked God to forgive you, let it go.  It is important, however, that occasionally we think about our past just to remind us how far He has brought us.  Praise and thank Him for His mercy, grace, forgiveness and unconditional love for you. Thank Him for all He has done for you.

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JoanneCopyright by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.
Used by permission.
http://joanne-freedominjesus.blogspot.com/
http://christians-in-recovery.org

Labels as Excuses

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

Are you “one of those people who …”?

I lived in schools for about fifty-two years.

K-12, four years of college, and thirty-five years as a teacher—52 of my first 58 years, interrupted by brief stints to build houses (which I enjoyed) and rehab from my injury (which I enjoyed a lot less). Toss in some nights and summers doing a Master’s degree, and it all adds up to a lot of time in schools.

When you live in schools, you learn about labels. Geek. Nerd. Jock. Goth. Skater. Gangster. School’s all about labels. The only worse fate than being labeled and stuck in a group is NOT being labeled and stuck in a group.

Jocks and gangsters get to walk down the middle of the hallway, crowds parting before them in a confused mixture of adoration, disdain, and fear. Geeks and nerds slink along the walls.

In college I took a class called “Adolescent Psychology.” The professor’s opening line: They’re all crazy!

We learned that kids group themselves as a way of separating from parents and developing an identity, that’s it’s normal for them to try out different costumes and roles. Colored hair, odd clothing, mimicked behaviors—it’s all just part of growing up and figuring out who they are. One of the many paradoxes of adolescence involves the need to discover one’s individuality by identifying lock-step with a group.

And we learned that it’s a phase, that eventually we grow out of our need to define ourselves by the group(s) to which we belong.

That professor was mostly right. They ARE all crazy, which explains my love for them as co-conspirators. They do try on identities like costumes, which makes them fun as long as you don’t take it too seriously. There’s something refreshing about a young lady with pink spiked hair and holes in her jeans intently solving an equation, especially when she shows up after Christmas break with beautifully curled hair and a flowered skirt.

The adolescent labeling process makes developmental sense, bringing humor and pathos to a difficult, confusing stage of life. But I always felt less comfortable when adults insisted on placing kids in much less temporary categories.

During my career I taught classrooms filled with “gifted” students and others identified as “special needs.” I often wondered whether Christian parents believed some kids weren’t gifted by God, or whether ANY parents thought their kids weren’t special.

In the same room I’d find kids who were creative and artistic, lazy and driven to achieve, lethargic and hyper-active. Some were inquisitive, some wanted to read everything in sight, and some were fascinated by technology. Some struggled to focus as they worried about issues at home.

And of course it’s obvious which group I just described, right?

I think the professor missed an important point. I don’t see much evidence that we grow out of our adolescent need to define ourselves with labels. When you live in a wheelchair you get really sensitized to labels. People slap them on my forehead (which has plenty of room) like bumper stickers. But you don’t need paralysis to see the harmful effects of labels.

Last time I discussed labels as averages.  Today I’m thinking about labels as excuses.

Labels excuse laziness.

    No need to actually invest in getting to know the person and really understand his perspective. Just slap on a label, toss him in the right bucket, and you “know” all you need to know about him.

Labels excuse marginalization. She’s one of “them” and “they” just can’t do certain things. Of course we’ll be nice to her, but we can’t expect her to really participate. We’ll make a spot on the edges where she can watch without getting in the way.

Labels excuse unacceptable behavior. If you attach the “enemy” label to someone, you don’t have to treat them with respect. So it’s suddenly okay to demonize and shout at the person with different political views. There’s nothing wrong with gossiping and spreading rumors about “bad” people, right?

Labels excuse divisiveness. Why would we support that “evangelical” church down the street? And that one over there that doesn’t condemn our notion of “unbiblical” behavior, or the one around the corner that’s “right wing?” Just label them and the walls magically appear.

Of course, labels don’t really excuse any of these, but they certainly provide convenient excuses. When I hear adults using labels in such hurtful ways, I wonder how much we’ve really progressed since eighth grade.

I can chuckle when a kid with baggy pants will only associate with other kids that have the same brand of baggy pants. They’re learning, and next year they’ll all have short hair and khakis.

It’s a lot harder to find the humor when adults use a label based on behavior, belief, appearance, or perceived ability to justify including or excluding an individual.

And if you’re tempted to think it’s really not that important, that labels are just words, that “sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me” I’d offer an alternative view.

Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can break my heart.

Broken bones are easily treated; no surgical procedure exists that can mend a broken heart.

Do you see examples of labels as excuses?

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Dixon
Copyright 2010 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:
Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance
. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

Does a Christian Have to be Nice to Everyone?

Friday, December 9th, 2016

“One of the sins of our age is the lack of strong language where evil is concerned.”

A very unpleasant and ungodly woman once told me, “A Christian must be nice to everybody.” What she meant was that I had to take her nasty criticisms and yet be sweet to her. Was she right? A minister tried to tell me, within the past week, that we should all be like Jesus, who, according to this minister, loved everybody and never had an unkind word for anyone or ever indulged in name-calling. Was he right?

Not according to my Bible. Jesus called Herod “that fox” (Luke 13:32); He called the Pharisees “hypocrites”; “blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel”; “whited sepulchres”; “serpents”; a “generation of vipers” (Matt. 23:23-33); and much more. On one occasion, He even called Peter “Satan” (Matt. 16:23) for counseling a wrong course of action.

Nor is strong, blunt language lacking in the prophets and apostles. The Bible rings out with strong condemnation of a great many persons as well as nations, and sins as well as sinners. Neither Jesus Christ nor the Bible is “nice to everybody,” nor can we be, without sin.

The Bible’s strong language does not represent sin or weakness on the part of the prophets, apostles, or Jesus Christ. Their anger is righteous anger, and their plain, blunt language is godly indignation and righteous judgment.

One of the sins of our age is the lack of strong language where evil is concerned. Nothing seems to be called by its right name these days. Murderers are called “freedom fighters,” and revolutionary mobs are called deprived and underprivileged people whom we must subsidize. Hoodlums are called victims of their environment, and so on.

Because of the inability of many to face facts plainly, they are easily imposed on by knaves and fools. Evil and foolish persons are tolerated, allowed to take up time and attention and to hamper godly men and women.

We cannot deal with evil unless we first of all face up to it for what it is and call it by its right name. We have had too much nicey-nice from politicians and preachers. It is high time to use some blunt, plain, and strong language, and then, by the grace of God, to take steps against the powers of evil. We cannot win a battle until we first of all recognize that we are at war.

We need more strong language, strong deeds, and strong men. God give us such men!

~ R. J. Rushdoony
Taken fromA Word in Season: Daily Messages on the Faith for All of Life, Volume 6 .

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The Power of Gratitude

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

“Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!” Ephesians 5:20

~ ~ ~ ~

One day, Johann Tauler of Strosbourg met a peasant and greeted him, “God give you a good day, my friend!”

The peasant answered briskly, “I thank God that I never have a bad day!”

Tauler, astonished, kept silent for a moment. Tauler then added, “God give you a happy life, my friend.”

The peasant replied composedly, “I thank God that I am never unhappy!”

“Never unhappy!” cried Tauler bewildered, “What do you mean?”

“Well,” came the reply, “When it is sunshine–I thank God; and when it rains–I thank God. When I have plenty–I thank God; and when I am hungry–I thank God. Since God’s will is my will, and whatever pleases God pleases me–I am never unhappy.”

Tauler looked upon him with awe. “Who are you?” he asked.

“I am a king!” said the peasant.

“A king?” Tauler asked, “Where is your kingdom?”

The peasant smiled and whispered softly, “In my heart!”

~ ~ ~ ~

“Thank you consists of just eight letters that form two of the most meaningful words in the English vocabulary.”

~ ~ ~ ~

“Counting up our mercies and our every-day reasons for gratitude, looking at the hundred little things and large things–we do not know where to end the list. The only thing to do, is to live always in an atmosphere sweet and vital with thanksgiving!”

~ ~ ~ ~

“Be thankful for the small things–the trivial things and the mundane things!”

~ ~ ~ ~

“If anyone would tell you the shortest, surest way to happiness–he must tell you to make it a rule to yourself to thank and praise God for everything that happens to you.”

~ ~ ~ ~

“Have an attitude of gratitude. Don’t wait till Thanksgiving.”

~ ~ ~ ~

“Everything short of Hell is mercy!”

~ ~ ~ ~

“God is glorified, not by our complainings, but by our thanksgivings.”

~ ~ ~ ~

“We can always find something to be thankful for. There are reasons why we ought to be thankful for even those dispensations which appear dark and frowning.”

~ ~ ~ ~

“A cheerful heart has a continual feast!” Proverbs 15:15

“Be thankful to Him, and bless His name!” Psalm 100:4

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What Jesus Didn’t Say

Friday, November 4th, 2016

A conversation at a new church inspires today’s word-of-the-week…

DIDN’T

truth1I met a new friend yesterday, and we talked a bit about things Jesus didn’t tell us.

For example, He didn’t tell us that people we love will always agree with us. Or that “enough faith” makes things turn out the way we want.

After our conversation, I made my own list.

He didn’t tell us that loving our enemies would make them stop being our enemies.

He didn’t tell us that people would appreciate our compassion.

He didn’t tell us that drug addicts would stop using drugs if we start programs for them or that prisoners would stop committing crimes if we visit them.

He didn’t tell us that a nonviolent search for justice would be met with acceptance and understanding, that others wouldn’t take advantage of us.

He DID tell us to love our enemies, have faith, help others, visit prisoners, and seek justice.

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Dixon
Copyright by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance
. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

Love isn’t a feeling

Friday, October 21st, 2016

A conversation from a long time ago prompts today’s word-of-the-week…

FEELING

thing-called-love“Love isn’t a feeling.”

My friend looked at me like I’d just landed from Mars. “Of course love is a feeling. When you fall in love, it’s the greatest feeling in the world!”

“And then you fall out of love and it’s the most horrible feeling in the world, right?” She nodded.

“And you always fall out of love, because that mushy-gushy feeling doesn’t last.

“Real love, the kind of love you can count on, is a decision.”

We had a long discussion that evening. My friend never gave up; it was years later that she quietly told me, a bit sadly, “I think you were right. Love is a decision.”

I’m reminded of this old conversation because a guy told me recently that his faith didn’t feel very strong. He wondered if something was wrong.

“Nothing’s wrong,” I assured him. “Feelings come and go. They are what they are. But…

“Faith isn’t a feeling. Real faith is a decision.”

Feelings matter. A lot. It’s good to understand, talk about, and share your feelings with God. But we need to keep them in their proper place.

Jesus said, “Take courage. I AM. Don’t be afraid.”

He wasn’t telling us to deny normal, natural feelings of fear. Everyone feels afraid at times. He asked us to decide, to choose not to be controlled by those feelings. And to assist, He placed Himself, I AM, in the center.

Don’t feel like forgiving? That’s likely pretty normal, but authentic forgiveness is a conscious decision. I choose to forgive despite my feelings, and when I slide into a desire for vengeance I lean on grace and forgive again.

Most of following Jesus isn’t nice, flowery, gooey feelings. It’s simple obedience and basic daily choices and messing up and starting again.

That’s all Jesus did, except for the messing up part. It’s what He asked of his friends.

And us.

What simple choices can you reaffirm? Might be a good week to accept your feelings without allowing them to take over. 

When Should You Seek Justice?

Monday, October 17th, 2016

roman jailPaul and Silas were beaten and tossed into prison illegally.

God intervened and used the opportunity to convert the jailer and his household. It’s a cool story until the following morning when the city officials try to get Paul and Silas to leave without making a fuss about their unlawful punishment.

Why not leave well enough alone? They’ve already been flogged and thrown into a dungeon. Why risk embarrassing the city leaders again?

But Paul said to the officers: “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.” (Acts 16:37)

Paul wasn’t after retribution or vengeance. He didn’t demand a public beating or some sort of punishment for the officials who’d broken the law. But he also knew he needed to confront his persecutors.

Paul decided to set things right. He decided to seek justice, even at the risk of his personal safety.

The bible says the magistrates were alarmed when they learned Paul and Silas were Roman citizens and they came to appease them. Perhaps Paul used the opportunity, as he did earlier with the jailer, to demonstrate grace and forgiveness. I don’t know.

What’s certain is that it’s always the right time to seek justice, to balance the scales and set things right.

The trick, at least for me, is to make sure I’m balancing God’s scales rather than mine. It’s awfully tempting to get self-righteous about my personal USAmerican sense of justice which is usually about punishment or some version of getting even and doesn’t have much to do with what Jesus had in mind.

ALWAYS SEEK JUSTICE

Now all I have to do is be aware of injustice, understand what it means to correct it, and summon the courage to act regardless of risk.

That’s all. Sure glad Jesus is along in case I miss a step or two.

Your thoughts?

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Not a member of CIR yet? Join us Today!Dixon
Copyright by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:
Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance
. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

Need a New Perspective?

Saturday, September 3rd, 2016

A fifth grader’s comment brings us today’s word-of-the-week…

PERSPECTIVE

The young lady told me she loved the idea of perspective.

I just spoke to her class and she was escorting me to the office. “Why is perspective so interesting to you?”

She stopped and gazed right into my eyes. “Because,” she explained, “it means I get to control how I look at things. It’s like choosing my attitude instead of letting my attitude choose me.”

I love listening to kids.

Can I be honest, just between you and me? Once in a while this thing of living in a wheelchair still gets a bit discouraging. You would think after nearly twenty-eight years I’d be over that feeling, but I still hit an occasional stretch in which all I can see is how difficult life is and all the things I wish I could do.

Then a young lady reminds me God gave me the ability to decide whether I’ll see darkness or light. It’s not easy, but with the Spirit’s help I can choose hope rather than despair. I’m not a victim of circumstances.

As my young friend said, “Perspective means I get to control how I look at things.”

Is there some situation that requires a new perspective?

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Not a member of CIR yet? Join us Today!Dixon
Copyright by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:
Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance
. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com