Daily Archives: December 6, 2011

A Thought on Criticism and Trust

     Have you ever wondered as you listen to people how they got their views?  How their worldview developed, what kinds of things must they have experienced that would cause them to think, act, and say the things they do?  Sometimes, I can’t help it, I wonder do they have any sense of how they’re coming across; any idea of the kind of impression they’re making as they go about their lives. 

     I can’t speak for them, but I can speak for myself.  When I look at myself and my relationships with other people, I often wonder what kind of impression I’m making; what other people might be thinking of me.  How do I come across?  Do I come across as being someone who’s judgmental, arrogant, and know-it-all? 

     I like to think I know myself, who I am, but I know that I have blind spots, and sometimes I fail to see what others see when they look at me.  I’d be less than honest, if I said I didn’t care, but when it comes right down to it, I don’t care nearly as much about what people think of me as I used to.  I’ve learned over the years that trying to please everyone, trying to change to fit someone else’s idea of who I should be, just doesn’t work.  The only thing trying to please everyone, and changing to be what someone else wants you to be, gets you is a lot of disappointment, anger, and heartache.  It’s the surest way I know to be miserable.

     Now, I’m not saying that we should just tell everybody to drop dead, and go to you know where if they don’t agree with us, or think there might be room for us to improve, but rather than just dismissing them out of hand, that we at least give a differing viewpoint an opportunity for examination and contemplation.  I have a rule-of-thumb that I use when listening to criticism – especially when it’s directed at me – that I always (as much as I can) look at the person giving it.  Opinions matter when they come from people who matter, and I mean people who matter to you.  Now maybe that doesn’t sound very nice, but when it comes to our lives, our souls, our minds, and our hearts I don’t think just anybody’s imput should be taken as 100% fact.

     Remember that motive matters, so before you take something someone says into your heart, mind, body, and soul, I believe it’s okay to ask the questions: why are they saying this, and what are they hoping to get out of it?  We have to remember that not everyone we meet, not even those closest to us, always have the best intentions.  It never hurts to look at who benefits from what is being said to you.  Is the fact that someone loves us a good test of criticism?  Not always.  Just because someone loves you doesn’t necessarily mean that they won’t lie to you, or mislead you; that they won’t use you to get what they want.  It should, but sadly, it doesn’t always.  Still, it’s a good place to start. 

     It really boils down to who do you trust.  Trust is something we give too readily to most people, too willingly, and we do so to our peril.   Your trust is the most precious gift you can give to another.  Nothing, and I mean nothing, you have, will ever have, or give is more precious than trust.  Nothing you ever recive in this world, no amount of money, will equal the wealth you’ll have in this one – this single one- possession you’ll own if you’re lucky enough to have it.

     And this is why, I believe, that our trust is the thing that God cherishes and treasures above all else that we, as human beings, can give. 

Here’s some food for further thought:

 “Duties are ours, events are God’s; When our faith goes to meddle with events, and to hold account upon God’s Providence, and beginneth to say, ‘How wilt Thou do this or that?’ we lose ground; we have nothing to do there; it is our part to let the Almighty exercise His own office, and steer His own helm; there is nothing left for us, but to see how we may be approved of Him, and how we roll the weight of our weak souls upon Him who is God omnipotent, and when we thus essay miscarrieth, it shall be neither our sin nor our cross.” 

Samuel Rutherford, quoted in Prodigals and Those Who Love Them, Ruth Bell Graham, 1991, Focus on the Family Publishing, p. 106.

One day, while my son Zac and I were out in the country, climbing around in some cliffs, I heard a voice from above me yell, “Hey Dad! Catch me!” I turned around to see Zac joyfully jumping off a rock straight at me. He had jumped and them yelled “Hey Dad!” I became an instant circus act, catching him. We both fell to the ground. For a moment after I caught him I could hardly talk. 

When I found my voice again I gasped in exasperation: “Zac! Can you give me one good reason why you did that???”

He responded with remarkable calmness: “Sure…because you’re my Dad.” His whole assurance was based in the fact that his father was trustworthy. He could live life to the hilt because I could be trusted. Isn’t this even more true for a Christian? 

Tim Hansel, Holy Sweat, 1987, Word Books Publisher, pp. 46-47.

From “Morning and Evening” by C.H. Spurgeon

     Too often our failures begin with our failing to ask.

“Ask, and it shall be given you.”

Mat_7:7

We know of a place in England still existing, where a dole of bread is served to every passerby who chooses to ask for it. Whoever the traveller may be, he has but to knock at the door of St. Cross Hospital, and there is the dole of bread for him. Jesus Christ so loveth sinners that he has built a St. Cross Hospital, so that whenever a sinner is hungry, he has but to knock and have his wants supplied. Nay, he has done better; he has attached to this Hospital of the Cross a bath; and whenever a soul is black and filthy, it has but to go there and be washed. The fountain is always full, always efficacious. No sinner ever went into it and found that it could not wash away his stains. Sins which were scarlet and crimson have all disappeared, and the sinner has been whiter than snow. As if this were not enough, there is attached to this Hospital of the Cross a wardrobe, and a sinner making application simply as a sinner, may be clothed from head to foot; and if he wishes to be a soldier, he may not merely have a garment for ordinary wear, but armour which shall cover him from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. If he asks for a sword, he shall have that given to him, and a shield too. Nothing that is good for him shall be denied him. He shall have spending-money so long as he lives, and he shall have an eternal heritage of glorious treasure when he enters into the joy of his Lord.

If all these things are to be had by merely knocking at mercy’s door, O my soul, knock hard this morning, and ask large things of thy generous Lord. Leave not the throne of grace till all thy wants have been spread before the Lord, and until by faith thou hast a comfortable prospect that they shall be all supplied. No bashfulness need retard when Jesus invites. No unbelief should hinder when Jesus promises. No cold-heartedness should restrain when such blessings are to be obtained.

A Thought on Character Assassination

     As I’m sitting here in front of my computer, I’m thinking about all the things I’ve seen today that I could write about.  I’ve seen a good many things that I haven’t liked, and if I were to go into detail about all of them there’s a good chance this post would be entitled “The Never Ending Post.”  There’s simply so much to choose from anymore when it comes to seeing things I dislike.  Knowing though that I can’t write about everything, I’ll write about this one thing that I didn’t like.

     I was watching a news program (I won’t say which one) in which they showed a story about Nancy Pelosi threatening to disclose information she had concerning  GOP candidate Newt Gingrich.  Now, I’m not here to talk about Nancy Pelosi or Newt Gingrich, but rather about the issue of character and ethics.  Rather the lack of them in this case.  I don’t know Nancy Pelosi or Newt Gingrich personally – only through their public lives as portrayed by the media – so just like everybody else, I only know what I see from how they’re portrayed by the news.

     As far as I know, the media hasn’t taken to putting words into the mouths of the people they cover – though I think some would if they could – so I know that Nancy Pelosi did indeed threaten to reveal information about Newt Gingrich she obtained as part of a group investigation into  Mr. Gingrich’s ethical practices years ago.  I’m no expert, so please don’t take what I say as 100% fact, but I believe that Mr. Gingrich was absolved of most if not all of the allegations against him.  If I’m incorrect please let me know.  The thing I do know is that she would be in violation of the ethics laws of the senate to reveal what she knows.

     I have my own opinion about these people as, I’m sure you do, but I found it distasteful that she would go on national t.v. and essentially threaten to blackmail someone.   Am I the only one who sees something wrong in this?  When did it become okay for people – especially people in public – to come on national t.v. and suggest wrong-doing on the part of someone; to make charges against someone’s character without proof, and – in Mrs. Pelosi’s case – knowing that to do so would be breaking the law. 

     What’s worse is the fact that the media doesn’t even try to confirm facts anymore, nor does anyone.  It saddens me greatly that we now live in a society where people are guilty until they’re proven innocent.  We don’t like someone – for any reason – all we have to do is make something up, just suggest, imply, intimate, that something is askew, and, if it’s our aim to hurt or damage someone, then we’ve accomplished our goal.

     Take, for instance, the story of Herman Cain.  As of today, I have not seen one shred of evidence that Mr. Cain is guilty of anything, other than perhaps bad judgment.  Yet, I have heard political pundits on t.v. say that he is guilty of adultery.  I have not seen any evidence put forth that would convict him in a court of law: no times, no places, no receipts, no witnesses, nothing more than inference, innuendo, suggestion.  I don’t know the man, but I do know that he deserved more than what he got from the media. 

     We live in a country where it’s easy to assassinate someone’s character with nothing more than the power of suggestion, and this saddens me.  There have been too many people ruined, damaged by the carelessness and irresponsibility of others to look for the truth and nothing else.

From Winslow “Morning and Thoughts”

     As christians our view of holiness and our occupation with it’s role in our lives says a lot about our witness and relationship with Christ Jesus.  If you’ve never given thought to the subject of holiness in your life perhaps it’s time to do so.

“As you therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk you in him: rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.”

Colossians 2:6, 7

BY simple, close, and crucifying views of the cross of Christ does the Spirit most effectually sanctify the believer. This is the true and great method of gospel sanctification. Here lies the secret of all real holiness, and, may I not add, of all real happiness. For, if we separate happiness from holiness, we separate that which, in the covenant of grace, God has wisely and indissolubly united. The experience of the true believer must testify to this. We are only happy as we are holy-as the body of sin is daily crucified, the power of the indwelling principle weakened, and the outward deportment more beautifully and closely corresponding to the example of Jesus. Let us not, then, look for a happy walk, apart from a holy one. Trials we may have; yes, if we are the Lord’s covenant ones, we shall have them, for He Himself has said, “in the world you shall have tribulation;” disappointments we may meet with-broken cisterns, thorny roads, wintry skies; but if we are walking in fellowship with God, dwelling in the light, growing up into Christ in all things, the Spirit of adoption witnessing within us, and leading to a filial and unreserved surrender-oh, there is happiness unspeakable, even though in the very depth of outward trial. A holy walk is a happy walk: this is God’s order, it is His appointment, and therefore must be wise and good.

Seek high attainments in holiness. Do not be satisfied with a low measure of grace, with a dwarfish religion, with just enough Christianity to admit you into heaven. Oh, how many are thus content-satisfied to leave the great question of their acceptance to be decided in another world, and not in this-resting upon some slight evidence, in itself faint and equivocal, perhaps a former experience, some impressions, or sensations, or transient joys, long since passed away; and thus they are content to live, and thus content to die. Dear reader, be you not satisfied with anything short of a present Christ, received, enjoyed, and lived upon. Forget the things that are behind-reach forth unto higher attainments in sanctification-seek to have the daily witness, daily communion with God; and for your own sake, for the sake of others, and for Christ’s sake, “give all diligence to make your calling and election sure.”