How Do You Respond to Criticism?

October 22, 2020 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Health and Fitness

By Julie Morris –

There are three ways to respond to criticism—but only one leads to healthy living. We can respond as…

1. Victims—When Victims are criticized they say things like, “Poor me!” “I can’t help it!” and “I’m worthless!”
2. Vindictive—Vindictive people say, “It’s his fault!” “She’s a jerk!” and “I’ll get even!”
3. Victors—Victors say, “Is there truth to this criticism?” “I’ll learn from my mistakes!” and “I refuse to criticize them for criticizing me!”

Victims often hide from challenges; Vindictive people bully their way through them and Victors grow from them.

Victims are complainers (“Why me?”). Vindictive people are competitors (“I’m better than you!”) and Victors are cooperative (“What can I learn?”)

Victims are often passive or passive aggressive when challenged. (They either don’t respond or respond by gossiping.) Vindictive people are often aggressive when challenged. (They attack, insult or take revenge.) Victors are usually assertive. (They tell the truth in love and don’t respond to criticism out of fear. They have the courage to confront and the wisdom to do it diplomatically.)

In 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NIV), Paul lets us in on how we, as Christians, can be Victors, no matter how hurtful people are to us.

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed;” We must remember that we  won’t be crushed by criticism if we look to the Lord for our identity.
“perplexed, but not in despair;” We may be perplexed and confused, but we don’t have to be in despair because we know that God loves us and will help us to learn from our mistakes.
“persecuted, but not abandoned;” We may be persecuted unfairly, but we can forgive our enemies, no matter what they have done because God tells us to—and He never tells us to do something that He doesn’t empower us to do.
“struck down, but not destroyed.” We may be temporarily struck down, but no matter how hurt we feel, we can get back up and try again because God is always there to help us.

In which of these three ways do you usually respond to criticism? Take this little test to see. Place a check next to each way you respond to criticism. Then look below to see which type has the most answers—Victim, Vindictive or Victor.

When criticized, I…

1. Tell the person off.
2. Complain about the person to someone else.
3. Tell his boss, spouse or friends about his bad qualities.
4. Feel ashamed.
5. Get mad, but don’t tell anyone.
6. Ask the person to discuss their complaints with me.
7. Deny any wrongdoing.
8. Blame someone else.
9. Try to ignore what the person said.
10. Apologize even if it’s not my fault.

Answers:

1. Vindictive
2. Victim
3. Vindictive or Victim
4. Victim
5. Victim
6. Victor
7. Victim or Vindictive
8. Vindictive
9. Victim
10. Victim

Let’s learn how to respond to criticism as Victors in Christ—learning from our mistakes, forgiving those who criticize us, rejoicing that the Lord loves us just the way we are and will help us to become the people we want to be.

Passing Over

October 15, 2020 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Heather Allen –

Spring is coming. Trees are already budding as we experience an unseasonably warm winter. Passover is approaching and with it my anticipation of celebrating God’s divine protection. A few years ago my family was invited to celebrate our first Passover Seder. The experience was rich as we recalled how Moses and Aaron were called to be spokesman, plagues came on a stubborn ruler, and then thousands of years later Christ became the Passover lamb.

After the Seder, I began studying the Passover and other feasts in scripture. A beautiful painting took form as I traced God’s preservation of His people throughout history.

Several Passover truths stood out as I studied. Under King Josiah & Hezekiah, Israel celebrated the Passover, renewing their covenant to follow God’s law and repenting for their sin. While under Persian rule the Jewish people were handed a death sentence also known as Haman’s edict. This edict would have come as they prepared for Passover. And just as God spared His people in Egypt, he again spared them in Persia. Both times they were integrated into another culture. As deliverance came, perhaps the realization that they were a separate people followed. There was a covenant in place. And then Christ’s death fell on Passover, His last breath coming as the Passover lamb would have been slaughtered – A man should have taken much longer to die, but Christ gave up His spirit at that exact hour.

There is a pattern I am noticing the more I study the Jewish feasts, a divine calendar. These dates were not merely historical dates with significance for the Jewish people; they are significant today. I believe we will continue to see prophecy linked with these dates. God still distinguishes between His own and those who are not. This is a covenant relationship. Do I believe we may see God pass over us again on Passover? Perhaps. Blood on our doorposts will not separate us. Rather Christ’s shed blood covers our sin.

An identity shift should take place as we embrace the reality that we are His people. We belong to the God who called forth water from a rock. He will be enough for us in any circumstance. He is a covenant God, faithful to all generations.

“Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until His wrath has passed by. See the LORD is coming out of His dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins” (Isaiah 26:20-21 NIV).

(The cross reference on this is the first Passover is Exodus 12:23)

Present Your Body

October 12, 2020 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Health and Fitness

Laurette Willis –

“I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your body a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1 NKJV).

While exercise was not a priority in Biblical times, Paul instructs us to “present your bodies a living sacrifice.” Each of us is advised to take care of our body since it is the “temple of the Holy Spirit.”

Here’s a sobering question: do you think we’ll be required to give an accounting to the Lord for the stewardship of our bodies and how well we’ve taken care of them?

That’s a frightening thought for most of us! “You are not your own,” Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:19. “For you were bought at a price” (the shed blood of Jesus Christ).

Could that mean your body is not yours, but the Lord’s? How well are we, as stewards, caring for the Lord’s property?

The good news is that since your body belongs to the Lord, He has a vested interest in helping you care for it. Your body is not only the temple of His Holy Spirit, it’s what you need to be able to walk around on this earth and spread the good news that Jesus is Lord!

The more fit and healthy you are, the greater the probability is that you will be around longer to carry out His will for your life.

The enemy wants you to fail at your task, to fail horribly and go to heaven before your time. He doesn’t really care that you’re going to heaven–he just doesn’t want you to take anyone else with you!

If your body is out-of-shape and lacking energy, it’s difficult to do all the Lord is calling you to do. But you and the Lord working together can change that!

“What?!” you ask. “The Lord needs my help? But He’s omnipotent, all-powerful and in control!” Well, yes–and no. He is all-powerful, but He will not wrestle the cake fork out of your hand or pick up the strings like a grand marionette master and animate your body to take a brisk walk. We are the ones who have to exercise our will to exercise our body and “choose life.”

I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19 NKJV).

Everyday choices are set before us that add to our lives or take from them. Select just one thing you can do today that you know would be life-engendering to your body (drink more water, eat a cup of raw vegetables in a salad, exercise your God-given body for 20-30 minutes, bless your life and loved ones by speaking God’s promises over yourself and your family—out loud!).

Present your body to God today (including what you do, hear, see and say) as an act of worship. Since you cannot “out-give” God, you will discover He will bless, beautify and strengthen everything you present to Him.

Good Grief

October 2, 2020 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Jane Thornton –

Respectful whispers brush across the church lobby. Hugs cling a little tighter than the norm. Sunday Best is slightly more prevalent than on a typical modern Sunday, even if the predominant color is not black like it would have been fifty years ago.

Family and friends have gathered to celebrate the life of my father, David Hines. A few moments before the official assembly, a disturbed murmur of horrified gasps ripples across the room.

“David Hines fell in the baptistery!”

A moment of stunned silence follows.

“I thought they didn’t bring the casket here.” A friend’s undertone reflects her shocked disbelief.

Stifled laughter flutters through the family. Not dead David, grandkid David. Where else would a ten-year-old boy who arrived thirty minutes early for a funeral be but playing near the baptistery?

I go to see for myself. Sure enough, there stands my nephew, khaki pants and plaid shirt darkened and plastered to his wiry frame, a puddle forming around his loafers. My embarrassed but resigned sister-in-law hustles him off on a frantic Wal-Mart trip for dry clothes.

Ten years later, that story highlights our reminiscing. Everyone enjoys a hearty laugh over the spectacle, including a semi-sheepish David.

Last week, our church laid another David to rest, a brother we all agreed was a “mighty man of God.” Sunday morning after the funeral, we took several moments to share memories. Numerous memorable hospital visits brought appreciative tears. Reflections on Dave’s unique eccentricities brought poignant chuckles. We sang his silly song. We wept and laughed at his love for kids.

At the funeral of Lazarus, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35 NIV). Even knowing he would conquer death, Jesus shared his friends’ sorrow. I wonder if laughter shuffled through the crowd when Martha protested the stink of opening the grave. I wouldn’t be surprised. Several stories show Jesus’ sense of humor and comic timing. I love knowing He participates in all our emotions—the joys and tears found in the everyday vagaries of life.

When teaching English, I offer “good grief” as a prime example of an oxymoron. But as I reflect on funerals, silly songs, and sopping wet boys, I see that through our faith, God makes good grief a reality. “‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be o God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 15:55-57 NIV).

Comment Prompt: Any funereal yet funny moments you can share?

Waiting for the Spring Runoff

September 30, 2020 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Health and Fitness

By Don Otis –

He was born in China the son of missionaries. In 1924, he competed in the Olympics, a Scottish runner who famously said, “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.” Eric Liddell’s inspirational story was told in the 1981 film, Chariots of Fire.

The truth is that we aren’t all fast like Liddell was. Some of us are slow. We struggle and suffer through workouts and would rather do almost anything but run. There are, however, others who persevere through workouts in the winter and by spring start thinking about entering local races. It is a good way to remain motivated and do something with your hard work on the treadmill.

If you have never entered a race, there are many distances–5K (3.1 miles), 10K (6.2), Half Marathon (13.1 miles), and Marathon are the most popular. There are trail runs, hill climbs, charity events, and everything in between. In my home town in Colorado we have a Blossom Festival 5K and 5 mile run on trails along the Arkansas River.

I want to encourage you to set some goals for this spring and enter a local race. There are many good reasons: having something to focus your efforts toward, the encouragement that comes from joining other people in a healthy activity, or discovering how you measure up to others in your age category. These are just a few benefits beside the obvious health payback. So, how do you get started? Here are a few tips.

1. Check with your local Parks & Recreation Department to find out if they sponsor any events in your community. Then, get registered. This is the first step–commitment.
2. Depending on the length of event you select (don’t sign up for a marathon if you’ve never done a race before) prepare yourself accordingly. If you want to run a 10K, be prepared to do slow training runs of between 6-8 miles.
3. Weekly runs should include one longer run, one tempo run (shorter distance at the pace you want to run on race day), some limited speed work (shorter intervals).
4. Cross train on off days or rest. Plan on running 4-5 days a week. You should do your long run and tempo run after a light day. You can swim or cycle on off days but don’t overdo these days. You want to feel fresh on days when your workouts are toughest.
5. On race day, go out slow and finish strong. The best runners understand that going out too fast will cost them dearly at the end of the race. We call these negative splits where the first half of a race is slightly slower than the second half. This requires enormous discipline on race day because you are rested and ready to go.
6. A few weeks before you race, go easy on weight-training. Rest more in the last week or two. Good runners know that going into a race fresh is part of the balance between a good time and a frustrating experience.
7. Don’t over-train. This means that you bump up your mileage or speed slowly. Your body must adapt to any new workload. If you want to avoid injury, don’t suddenly go from running 15 miles a week to trying 25 or 30.

In more than thirty years I have done more than 100 races of all kinds. I remember when my boys were small, they’d ask, “Dad, why do you go to these races because you never win!” It was one of those teachable moments. I told them, “I run to do the best I can.”

Comment below and let me know how your journey goes!

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