What to do when you’re not where others think you should be

Nothing! Your first response should not be to leap into action–whether that be in defense of yourself or an offensive means of making changes that will better align yourself with the expectations of the person who is critiquing you. All critiques, to be properly handled, should be patiently evaluated and discerningly digested. These things spell time, which most of us don’t want to give to personal criticisms, but we must not neglect these measures or we will miss the blessing that is it be slowly squeezed out of them.

In most cases of solicited or unsolicited evaluation, someone will bring a criticism with at least a vague idea of what direction you should go in implementing the necessary changes to your problem. But just because someone has an idea of what you should do with their observations and advice, this does not mean the matter is settled. You, the hearer–as well as the one implicated by the information given–have the responsibility to exercise wisdom in weighing the judgment and executing a sound response. Even when someone goes to great lengths to exercise wisdom in what they present to us and how they choose to present it, this does not negate our own need to exercise wisdom in receiving it.

When we make it our goal to not receive the comments others have for us emotionally, we save ourselves from “feeling errors.” We are choosing to not be super-sensitive concerning ourselves so that we may be objective concerning the words and ideas before us. We recognize that the matter is not so much about us. We will not handle admonitions well if we do.

Because of Christ and the covering His blood gives us, we do not have to protect our honor by never messing up, nor do we have to try to avoid being confronted with our mess-ups. Instead, we turn our hearts from their occupation with our honor in order to focus on a higher honor: God’s honor in Christ. We acknowledge that we have messed up. We admit that without Christ we could not stand because of our sin, but with Christ, we stand because of His righteousness that covers us and is at work within us.

This righteousness from Christ does not become our excuse for personal unrighteousness, but rather our only power to confess it and reach out for change. It is our truth for living to Christ and also for dying to self. It allows love to bloom for Christ amidst our guilt, and even enables us to love the one who points out our offense. There is no reason why love cannot rule here: God is at work in the middle of every mistake and He commands every conveyance of correction. When our lives are yielded to Him, we become more distinguished by God’s love. It triumphs in the place of all our weakness. The cross’ shadow is big enough to engulf us in salvation as well as everyday occasions of being straightened out.

 

Who gets the blame?…God, do You think You could take it this time?

Who gets the blame when we have a problem between us and God? Can we ever charge Him with error? Can we ever threaten Him to shape up and learn to treat us better? Can we ever respond to one of His corrections with a defense that condemns Him to a puddle of shame?

Do we have that kind of power? Can we really be God’s self-appointed pollsters? Can we really tell Him how to be God? Can we really pretend that we have the authority to bring Him under our scrutiny and insist what He must be to please us?

Brothers and sisters, we cannot keep this up! We must leave it all behind. Proper relationship with God demands it. We don’t need words to tell God what He ought to be, we must obtain words to weep for the way we are; to ask Him and plead with Him to make us what we ought to be.

That is the way we must live out the relationship with God that Christ procured for us through death and shame. We don’t tell God what is wrong with Him, He tells us what is wrong with us. He tells us how we are right with Him now because the covenant between us is not dependent on us–it is sealed with Christ’s blood. He tells us that we are kept in relationship with Him because of His blood. He teaches us to honor our relationship with Him by bringing all honor to His blood. It is the only thing of significance we own in this life. May we not abuse it or forget why we have it.

 

The naming of Billy Bob and other fun ways to honor our loved ones…

Billy Bob. (I apologize for my post in advance if you are the possessor of this illustrious tag.)

Don’t you like funny names like that? I do. They’re a joy because they’re just so ridiculous. I think to myself when I hear them, Who in their right mind would name their child Billy Bob when there are so many beautiful and honorable names to choose from?

I don’t know, maybe parents who bestow such names on their children just want to be silly. Maybe they are honoring a family member who made something right respectable of himself (despite his name). Or, maybe their goal in naming their child wasn’t to bestow honor at all–whether on the child’s namesake or the child himself.

But who doesn’t want honor? Who is not willing to give it?

These are mysteries to me until I look at myself. Am I willing to give honor? Yeah, I want it, but do I see it as such a good thing that it should be given to others?

I’m not sure I think about anything that way. I don’t see any of the things God gives as though they were infinitely abundant. If I did, I would surely consider not wishing these things on friends and enemies as a crime.

Yeah, a crime. One worthy of punishment. The same punishment Jesus took for me so that I could be generous just as He is. But, do I really use this gift of generosity, given for the sake of making me generous? Do I welcome it being applied in my life with open arms and heart? If not, I must ask myself, Do I really get the point? Do I understand where Jesus fits in my life and why He’s there?

A powerful thought for application: Do I minimize the wealth of God and the weakness He took on for the world so that they are just things that are meant to serve me?

I hope not.

A weighty blessing

I pray these words will bless you as they did me once my heart had been corrected by them.

Hallelujah! Thank God! Pray to him by name!
Tell everyone you meet what he has done!
Sing him songs, belt out hymns,
translate his wonders into music!
Honor his holy name with Hallelujahs,
you who seek God. Live a happy life!
Keep your eyes open for God, watch for his works;
be alert for signs of his presence.
Remember the world of wonders he has made,
his miracles, and the verdicts he’s rendered—
O seed of Abraham, his servant,
O child of Jacob, his chosen.

He’s God, our God,
in charge of the whole earth.
And he remembers, remembers his Covenant—
for a thousand generations he’s been as good as his word.
It’s the Covenant he made with Abraham,
the same oath he swore to Isaac,
The very statute he established with Jacob,
the eternal Covenant with Israel,
Namely, “I give you the land.
Canaan is your hill-country inheritance.”
When they didn’t count for much,
a mere handful, and strangers at that,
Wandering from country to country,
drifting from pillar to post,
He permitted no one to abuse them.
He told kings to keep their hands off:
“Don’t you dare lay a hand on my anointed,
don’t hurt a hair on the heads of my prophets.”

Then he called down a famine on the country,
he broke every last blade of wheat.
But he sent a man on ahead:
Joseph, sold as a slave.
They put cruel chains on his ankles,
an iron collar around his neck,
Until God’s word came to the Pharaoh,
and God confirmed his promise.
God sent the king to release him.
The Pharaoh set Joseph free;
He appointed him master of his palace,
put him in charge of all his business
To personally instruct his princes
and train his advisors in wisdom.

Then Israel entered Egypt,
Jacob immigrated to the Land of Ham.
God gave his people lots of babies;
soon their numbers alarmed their foes.
He turned the Egyptians against his people;
they abused and cheated God’s servants.
Then he sent his servant Moses,
and Aaron, whom he also chose.
They worked marvels in that spiritual wasteland,
miracles in the Land of Ham.
He spoke, “Darkness!” and it turned dark—
they couldn’t see what they were doing.
He turned all their water to blood
so that all their fish died;
He made frogs swarm through the land,
even into the king’s bedroom;
He gave the word and flies swarmed,
gnats filled the air.
He substituted hail for rain,
he stabbed their land with lightning;
He wasted their vines and fig trees,
smashed their groves of trees to splinters;
With a word he brought in locusts,
millions of locusts, armies of locusts;
They consumed every blade of grass in the country
and picked the ground clean of produce;
He struck down every firstborn in the land,
the first fruits of their virile powers.
He led Israel out, their arms filled with loot,
and not one among his tribes even stumbled.
Egypt was glad to have them go—
they were scared to death of them.
God spread a cloud to keep them cool through the day
and a fire to light their way through the night;
They prayed and he brought quail,
filled them with the bread of heaven;
He opened the rock and water poured out;
it flowed like a river through that desert—
All because he remembered his Covenant,
his promise to Abraham, his servant.

Remember this! He led his people out singing for joy;
his chosen people marched, singing their hearts out!
He made them a gift of the country they entered,
helped them seize the wealth of the nations
So they could do everything he told them—
could follow his instructions to the letter.

Hallelujah!