Criticism

WHO IS THE BIGOT?

by Adam Ford:  Adam4d.com

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QUESTIONS THE BIBLE ASKS YOU

We are correct when we think of the Bible as a book of answers. What we may not notice is that when giving us those answers the Bible sometimes asks us questions as a way of helping us look into our own lives.

In an age of science, technology and self-proclaimed enlightenment. It’s easier than ever for pride prone humanity to think we know what to do in order to make life work. God’s word provides “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3), yet we so often still want to run life our way. More amazingly is when we actually think we have the capacity to run life our own way.

Of all the people who have walked this earth, we would think no one had more of a right to complain to God than Job. He lost his health, wealth and family in one quick sweep of disasters.

Yet, when Job’s felt capable of assessing God’s actions with his own understanding, the Lord asked this question of Job:

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?

The full question God asked, is two chapters long beginning in Job 38. I will share the beginning of God’s question from 38:1-7

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:

“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Dress for action like a man;
    I will question you, and you make it known to me.

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
    Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
    Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
    or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
    and all the sons of God shouted for joy?  

In case you wanted to know how Job responded, that is in 42:1-6

Then Job answered the Lord and said:

“I know that you can do all things,
    and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
    things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
‘Hear, and I will speak;
    I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
    but now my eye sees you;
therefore I despise myself,
    and repent in dust and ashes.”

THANKFULNESS A – Z

School Days

In a sermon a couple weeks back, I mentioned that if we are keeping lists of what we don’t like about people, it is a warning sign that we have a critical spirit.

As an (unplanned) illustration, I mention that several years ago a church member came into my office with an A–Z list of what was wrong with our church.

Following the letters of the alphabet, he read off 26 ways our church had it wrong. Some of his list was on target, some of it was petty and all of it was excruciating!

In response to my illustration, last week Kim Ordile, who is a member at Greentree, sent me an A–Z list of what she loves about our church.

This list was a joy to read, and it pointed my heart toward God by filling my heart with reasons to be thankful for the many ways He is working through his people and creating blessing to many.

If you are from Greentree, I am sure this list will lift your heart.

And if you are from another church, I am sure your pastor(s) would be thrilled to receive an A-Z list of what you love about your church

As you read over Kim’s list, may you be doubly encouraged as you see items where you have been part of how God is blessing people’s lives.

Amazing book store

Biblical theology taught

Children’s ministry full of love

Discipleship relationships emphasized

Evangelism training

Fellowship Mall that promotes unity

Giving baskets that are private

Home Fellowship meetings

Incredible facility

Joe and Jessa love to come (the names of her children)

Kindness to those in need

Love is demonstrated here

Music and musicians that glorify God

Nursery that is safe and organized

Outreach/mission opportunities

Powerful prayer meetings for healing

Quiet Times emphasized

Relationship not religion demonstrated

Servant outreach Saturdays

Testimony times

Ushers that serve with great care

Victorious perspective of all that God is

Wednesday night pizza dinner/program

X-cellent greeters to welcome you in

Youth programs that target the heart

Zealous preaching of God’s Word

SERMON LEFTOVERS 7.13.15

‘Judging People and Ourselves’

Matthew 7:1-5

We Are Not To Judge Each Other

1. v2 reminds us, God already holds that role

This is his right as Creator – all the world’s kicking and screaming won’t change it

As the just God, he will judge the world (Acts 17:30-31)

This is not just about being nicer; it’s about God’s role (James 4:11-12)

2. We don’t have the capacity to judge hearts and actions well

At the center of Jesus’ argument is that we do a lousy job of judging (v3)

Our perspectives are too limited to judge well (Job’s friends are a good example)

God alone knows all truth and can judge with perfect justice

3. When we become judgmental, we have forsaken Great Commandment living

When we are judgmental, we forsake godly character

Jesus illustration of the “log and the speck” points out how hypocritical our judging can be (v5)

Being judgmental sweeps aside what we are meant to be (Ephesians 4:1-3)

When we are judgmental, we forsake what it means to be the Church (Romans 14:10)

It pushes fellow believers down and away – which is the opposite of biblical community

Instead, God gives us the responsibility to care for one another (Ro 15:1)

When we are judgmental, we leave the gospel behind

We create moral or social lepers that are ‘undeserving’ of our attention

Do we truly think that anyone is too undesirable for us to keep the gospel’s agenda with them?

This includes after people become believers. We are often the harshest toward fellow Christians!

Yet, as God’s representatives, we must make judgments

Examples where judgments are required of us:

To exercise church discipline (1 Corinth 5:1-13)

Who is appropriate to marry

Affirming who can be baptized

Choosing deacons and elders (judging their character)

Guarding against false teachers by examining their fruit (Matt 7:15-20)

It is part of how we care for one another (Eph 4 “speaking the truth in love”)

Are you getting confused?

There is a clear rule about biblical or unbiblical judging:

Are we echoing God’s Word or imposing our opinions?

If we are simply repeating what God has said, then we are not judging – God is

Other principles to help us disagree without disharmony

1. Our lack of comfort with someone’s actions is not God’s standard for judging them

2. We must always judge fruit (actions), but we must beware of judging the root (heart)

3. Distinguish moral discernment from personal condemnation

Maturity should increase our discernment in what we observe

Responsibility requires we exercise that discernment

But we jump the tracks when we are critical instead of discerning

Indications we may have a critical spirit:

1.  When our first thoughts are usually about where we disagree, or what we don’t like

2.  When disagreement keeps us from seeing any good in other believers

3.  When we refuse fellowship with other believers because of their position or opinions

4.  When we keep a list of what we don’t like about them

Jesus lets us know that sinful judging is a serious matter

We risk bringing judgment upon ourselves (v2)

If we have no grace for people, what does it say about our possession of grace?

Start With Ourselves

We like to correct sin in others and be offended by their failures

Jesus redirects our perspective and actions in (v5)

1. Notice the log in our eye

2. Be offended by our sin

3. Take action and remove it

Examining ourselves must be biblically driven, because we cannot judge our own heart (1 Corinth 4:3)

As we examine our own heart, we are better prepared to gracefully help others

v5 ends with the person who removes the log, being able to help remove a speck from their brother’s eye

Jesus is not directing us in how to be meddlesome churches; he is directing us in how to “speak the truth with love”

How should we respond when someone judges us?

Don’t ask yourself – was it done properly, ask yourself – was it needed?

We should love God enough to accept and apply correction whether or not it is done graciously

Be thankful for God’s grace in whatever reveals the ‘specks’ in our eye

WHAT DOES SATAN WANT?

What does Satan want for your church?

He uses cunning and strategy, and his main weapon is deceit. Jesus warns us that, “there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44)

But with the Apostle Paul, we can say that “we are not ignorant of his designs” (1 Corinthians 2:11).

We should easily recognize these strategies of Satan who hates Christ and wants to harm his Church:

Satan wants us to be impatient with other believers

Satan wants us filled with frustration for the people of our church

Satan wants us to think that our differences with other believers are greater than our bonds in Christ

He doesn’t want us to read Ephesians 4:4-6

“There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism,  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

Satan wants us to argue with as fellow church members as possible.

Satan wants us to gossip about the weakness of fellow believers

Satan wants us to give up on one another instead of keep “bearing with one another”

He really doesn’t want us to read any of Ephesians 4

“Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,  with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (vs 1-3)

Satan wants us to attack the failures that we see in fellow believers

Satan wants us to live disconnected from other church members

Satan wants us to ignore the hurts of fellow believers

He doesn’t want us to read 1 Corinthians 12:24-26

“God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”

Satan wants us to believe the worst about people in our church

Satan wants us to think that we have loved enough, and to think that we are justified in giving up on loving them more

He doesn’t want us to read 1 Corinthians 13:7-8 

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends”

Satan wants us to forget that God deeply loves every believer – that Jesus died for every believer – and that the Holy Spirit lives in every believer

We know what Satan wants – what do you think God wants?

SKILLED SELF-SWINDLERS

Some of the sins we struggle with are obvious to us. We pray about them, we struggle against them and in Christ we truly can make significant progress in having them become less and less a part of our life.

But what about the sins we don’t see in ourselves? There is far more of this than we want to admit. An obvious problem is that it is hard to work on something you don’t even realize needs work. Is there hope? Yes, actually we have many reasons for hope.

1.  The Holy Spirit is good at convicting us

2.  The light of God’s word is meant to reveal areas in our life that need work

3.  Close friends (especially family) see us in ways that our eyes miss.

4.  The church is meant to be a place where we are under accountability

All of these helps exist, but they may not be having much impact on us if we are not open to them.

Do you ask God on a regular basis to reveal sins you do not see? And do you take action on what He shows you?

When you read God’s word, do you measure your own life by it?

Are you defensive when friends and family make corrections, or do you thank them for it?

Are you involved in close relationships in your church and small group where accountability is an expectation?

Paul Tripp wrote posted this blog entitled “Blind to Our Blindness” in which he leads us through this problem of not seeing or justifying our sins. He refers to it as being “skilled self-swindlers”. If we are serious about living for God then we must be serious about understanding and confronting all of the areas in which we struggle with sin.

4.10.12

SILENCING THE BIBLE’S VOICE

While in Guatemala this week I am giving my readers the gift of connecting you to other people’s blogs!

In this article titled “Christianity Packs Its Office and Leaves the Building”, Jonathan Leeman makes an interesting response to those who say Christianity has no place in public forums, by writing in the voice of Christianity itself.

 

FRESH LOOK AT AN IMPORTANT STORY

As a pastor I have watched many people leave our church for the terribly sad reason that they don’t want to submit to the biblical call and standards given to the church.

These are self-proclaimed Christians who in the same sentence will claim they really do love God, but they are not willing to change the clearly unbiblical behavior or attitude in question. Quite often I have been barely able to even deal with the standard in question. This is because the person is so focused on being resentful over the fact that I would  dare challenge their sin.

At these times I wonder what they think the role of pastor / shepherd is supposed to be? There is certainly no recognition that I am also guilty before God if I knowingly ignore and refuse to deal with sinful behavior. And I certainly am not exercising love toward church members when I avoid confronting what is harmful to their soul and eventually to the health of the church.

Trevin Wax does an excellent job of turning the biblical account (Matthew 19:16-22) of the “rich young ruler” into a modern story. In this article Trevin approaches the story as if it was a young man today who tells us why he is walking away from the demands of Christianity.

I think you will see themes we often hear from people today. It’s the classic tale of someone who says they “love” Jesus, but they don’t like the church. As you read, may it also refresh your heart against the subtle lies that lead us to upholding our own will over the will of Jesus who is serious when he claims to be Lord of all.

STANDING IN YOUR CORNER

We have an Accuser who is Satan. He tirelessly whispers failure into our ear. His arguments can seem very persuasive and he is good at covering over all the evidence to the contrary. We struggle with this to varying degrees, but we have all experienced Satan’s daggers of accusation.

How wonderful then that the Bible calls Jesus our Advocate!

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (1 John 2:1)

Jesus stands by those who trust in him. He never leaves. He never wearies in defending us. He is bold and forceful in his love for us and commitment to us. If you have any doubts, look to the cross and remember the price he paid to be our Advocate.

In the Old Testament book of Zechariah, we see an example of our accuser and defending in action:

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord was standing by. (Zechariah 3:1-5)

I appreciated this article on Tim Challies blog earlier this month, which addresses the competing voices of the Accuser and the Advocate. Tim quickly gets to the heart of the matter and that should be a great and lasting encouragement to us!

CRITICISM

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Charles Spurgeon wrote these words about responding to criticism and there is nothing I could add to improve it.

“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.”

 Originally posted 2.25.11