"Nothing more impressive than an intellectual and spiritual approach to seeking truth and a willingness to embrace it unconditionally."

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Criticism: The Overlooked Compliment

What is at the heart of criticism? What motivates one person to criticize another? At the heart of criticism is pride and self-preservation. Criticism is the weapon that is used to destroy another in an attempt to protect my sphere of influence. Criticism is used against another person whose circle of influence has threatened mine. We criticize in order to marginalize!

Dinesh D'Souza, Author of What's So Great About Christianity, powerfully points out that we only attack what we are threatened by. He makes the parallel between books written against God by Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, and the absence of books written against unicorns. Dawkins wrote The God Delusion, and Hitchens wrote God Is Not Great. No one writes books like: The Unicorn Delusion, or Unicorns Are Not Great, because unicorns are irrelevant. The point he is making is that there is something about God that threatens Dawkins and Hitchens. As Pastor Steve Pixler points out: the reason they are so vocal is they are "trying to drown out the voice of God in their own minds."

Inherent to criticism is a respect or fear of the person criticized. We are afraid of their influence, so we criticize in order to marginalize. Criticism is a recognition of the gifts, talents, skills, intellect and influence of another person. So, to preserve my influence I have to destroy their influence.

I write this as a confession of my own motivation for criticism. I can't think of a time that I have criticized a person that it was not born out of pride and jealousy. I have had to repent more than once of this awful sin.

Really criticism is a compliment and a display of respect, and maybe in some twisted way a form of flattery. So, when your are criticized, feel flattered and take it as a compliment. Not only is criticism the overlooked compliment, it is usually the uncomfortable and unsolicited compliment. One could say, "With compliments like that, who needs criticism?"

P.S. This is only one aspect of criticism. The subject of criticism is much more dynamic than this.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Hypocrisy of Bitterness

Bitterness is usually born out of betrayal, or the feeling of having been done wrong. Bitterness is justified because one feels his own righteous superiority over his offender; I did not deserve to be treated that way. Because bitterness is self-righteous at its core, it will also become self-justifying. This is carried out by accusing the offender and excusing one's self at all cost. The person who offended me is wrong, period; on the other hand I am right, period. Bitterness gives no consideration to the offenders motives, only his actions.

Bitterness, in its self-righteous and self-justifying way, not only gives voice to the offenders faults, it also actively seeks the offenders destruction. Bitterness, through self-righteousness and self-justification, abandons ethical constraints; it begins to excuse itself from the ethical obligation it imposes on everyone else. Herein is the hypocrisy of bitterness: the bitter person begins to treat their offender as bad, or worse, than the offender treated them. The very thing the embittered person condemns in his offender, he justifies in himself. Let me give just two examples.

1. Many times in cases of marital unfaithfulness, the "innocent" spouse becomes bitter. This bitterness is justified by the offended spouse because of the awful betrayal on the part of the offending spouse. If this bitterness continues unchecked it will, in its own self-righteous and self-justifying way, quickly dispense with moral and ethical restraints. This bitterness will drive its victims to justify in themselves what they hated in their offenders.

Bitterness will drive an offended and embittered husband to justify viewing pornography, because what she did was much worse. "At least I am not actually having an affair," he justifies self-righteously.

Bitterness will drive an offended and embittered wife to justify having an affair solely for the purpose of making the husband pay for what he did.

2. It is easy for a pastor who is robbed of members by an unethical neighboring pastor to become bitter. As a result he will talk about how detests that no good sheep thief and began to shout ministerial ethics from the roof top. That same bitterness, left unchecked, will cause him to take advantage of opportunities to steal saints from the man who offended him, and justify it.

The bitter pastor will not stop with the man who offended him. He will look for reasons to become suspicious of other men as well to justify stealing from them, all the while still condemning the man who originally betrayed him.

CONCLUSION:

Saints and Ministry: let's do not let our bitternesses make hypocrites out of us. Let us not justify in ourselves what we detest in others. There will be plenty opportunities to become bitter, so let us pray for the grace of God to save us from this awful poison.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lessons From Egypt: How Not To Lead

Exodus 1:8-11 ESV
8 Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.
9 And he said to his people, "Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us.
10 Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land."
11 Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses.

I am going to make this short and to the point. If anyone wants to contribute to the conversation we can discuss it more. I would love your input, especially from leaders!

Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph: By not knowing Joseph he does not know the people of Israel. Whether this is merely an ignorance of historical events I don't know, but it is certainly an ignorance resulting from a lack of relationship. You have a king that assumes a position over a people that he does not know, neither seeks to know. He is a king who is only concerned with POSITION and not PEOPLE; RULE and not RELATIONSHIP. It will always lead to disaster when we seek to lead those with whom we have no relationship.

And he said to his people, "Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us: Secondly, this king becomes intimidated by the strength of his subjects. When leadership is motivated by position or power and not people, it always becomes intimidated by the strength of those it seeks to lead.

Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land": Thirdly, leadership becomes suspicious of people and their motives. This too is a by product of the lack of relationship. If the king of Egypt really knew the people of Israel, he would have been comforted by their strength and not intimidated by it. And if he and really known them he would not have been suspicious of their motives. Both the intimidation and the suspicion were born out of a lack of relationship.

Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses: When a leader becomes intimidated and suspicious of his subjects, he will eventually begin to oppress them. Ironically, the reason that the king of Egypt began to oppress them was fear that they would "escape from the land." The very thing that he sought to prevent by oppression, he caused by oppression. The king of Egypt began to oppress a peaceable and profitable people, because of intimidation and suspicion, and as result unrest rose and profitability decreased.

CONCLUSION: This more a note to myself, than a message to anyone else. I am reading through Exodus for my daily devotions and this is some thoughts that are in my head.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Get More Than One Friend

When I say, "Get More Than One Friend," I mean two things: first of all, you need more than one friend numerically. Secondly, you need more that one friend categorically. I will address the numerical aspect first, then the categorical afterwards.

NUMERICALLY:

You need more than one friend numerically because you (myself included) have a lot of issues. While you may find someone who is willing to try to befriend all of you, at some point they are going to need a break. Be a friend to your friends and spread yourself around. Don't make one person responsible for having to deal with all your issues.

No one person can fully satisfy all of your relationship needs, including a spouse. When you make one person responsible for satisfying your relationship needs you have set the relationship up for failure. It is simply to great of a demand to make of any one person. Many times jealousy is a result of this unrealistic expectation.

CATEGORICALLY:

You need more than one friend categorically. Because it is to much to demand of one friendship to supply all your relationship needs (intellectual, emotional, spiritual, social ect...), get specialized friends. In other words, develop a relationship whose primary contribution to your life is intellectual, and one whose primary contribution is spiritual and so on.

You can have a friend in your life that can fill multiple faucets of friendship; however, no matter who they are, they cannot completely satisfy your relationship needs. Expand your relationships, it is going to make you a better person.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

For His Name's Sake

This post will not be nearly as spiritual as the title sounds. I have gotten numerous questions and emails asking why my parents named me John Calvin. Some have thought that I was joking when I told them what my name was.

Pat Donahue, a Church of Christ friend of mine that I have debated, asked, "Why did your parents name you John Calvin when they appose his doctrine of Calvinism?" When Elder Todd Nance found out what my name was he simply responded, "That explains a lot." :)

The answer to why my parents named me John Calvin is: 1. When I was born they immediately recognized by my incessant screaming that I was T-Totally Depraved. 2. Because I was U-Unconditionally Elected they knew that they had been predestined to name me John Calvin. 3. As mean as I was, they knew that even the cross and all its power would only be able to give me L-Limited Atonement. 4. They knew that the only way that I would get saved is if God left me no choice and saved me against my will with I-Irresistible Grace. 5. They knew that the only way that I would be a P-Preserved Saint and stay saved was for God to make it where no matter what I did I couldn't be lost. :) Also, my mother knew that she was pregnant with me when she woke up one morning with and irresistible urge to plant three acres of TULIPS.

The other sided of the coin is: my paternal grandfather was Born August 6, 1926 and his name was John Calvin Carroll, and his nickname was "Buddy." So, when I was born August 6, 1975 I was named John Calvin Carroll, and most people know me by the name that I grew up being called, "Buddy." That is how it happened. And now you know the rest of the story.