Constructive Criticism Can Be Good

“Can I give you some constructive criticism?” 

When someone asks that, we can sort of brace ourselves because we don’t know what’s coming.  No one likes criticism… constructive or not so, we may prepare ourselves to hear some tough words.  But, at times, criticism is good.  

In Proverbs 25:12, the Bible says, “to one who listens, valid criticism  is like a gold earring or other gold jewelry.”  Notice the text reads, “…valid criticism.”  If you do anything.. you are likely going to receive some criticism… and  most of the time, it’s worthless.  It’s someone who may be jealous or defending their turf or something else.  But, there are times when criticism is something we need to hear.  

Years ago, a Pastor told me that when he received criticism,  he would pray and ask the Lord what part of the criticism he needed to receive?  Then, he would try to learn from that and he would toss the rest away.  

It may be that someone has recently given you some criticism and maybe it stung a little.  Ok, take some time and think through what you were told. Is there something you need to hear?  If so, receive it… make necessary changes and toss the rest away.  

Although we normally don’t like it, valid criticism is good and helps us grow. 

Encouragement & Patience

Encourage & be patient.

That’s what Paul challenged the Thessalonians to do as he closed out his letter to them. He said “Encourage those who are timid….be patient with everyone.”

You may know someone that is anxious about something. Maybe they are starting a new job or there is something else they are anxious about. Paul challenges us to encourage them.

Then he says “Be patient with everyone.” Patience can be a challenge for us. We live in a fast-paced, instant-gratification society so patience doesn’t come easy. Yet Paul challenges us to be patient with others.

Maybe there is someone that you are struggling to be patient with. Patience is a fruit of the spirit. So, ask the Lord to help you be patient.

You may be thinking, “I know I should be patient but, it’s running out.” I just remind us all of how patient the Lord has been with us. We have slipped and sinned time & time again but the Lord is patient with us. None of us are divine like our Lord but we can ask the Lord to fill us with His spirit to help us be patient.

Today, ask the Lord to help you be led by and filled with the Spirit and have patience with others.

Selling Your Soul To The Devil

“He sold his soul to the devil.”

You are likely familiar with that phrase.  When it is said of someone that they “sold their soul to the devil,” it means the person began doing some things that were wrong… ie.. selling their soul to the devil…. In order to make money or gain fame etc…. 

The person I was talking to was an alumnus of a University.   This University had a Coach that didn’t have much discipline on his team.  The discipline was lacking because the Coach wanted to win a Championship.  So, in the words of my friend who is alumnus, the Coach sold his soul to the devil in order to win a Championship.  

As my friend and I talked, that statement got my attention… “he sold his soul to the devil to win a championship.”  I thought, “That’s a pretty high price for a championship” and it is… But if we aren’t careful, we can sell our soul to the devil as well.  

“Selling our soul to the devil” can mean doing things in business that are wrong… in order to make money.  

“Selling our soul to the devil” can mean getting involved in an immoral relationship for sex.

“Selling our soul to the devil” can mean overlooking some things because we like the power we have or the access to power that we have.  

It means doing something that is wrong and justifying it… making it sound….maybe, not as bad as it seems.  

In the gospels, Jesus was tempted.  On one occasion, Satan tempted Jesus by offering to give Him something in exchange for Jesus worshiping Satan.  Jesus told Satan, he didn’t even have the authority to give what he was proposing so Jesus resisted the temptation of Satan.  That is exactly what selling our soul to the devil is… yielding to his temptation.  

Coaches aren’t the only ones who sell out… people do it all the time.  So, question for all of us; are you selling your soul to the devil?  If so, I can tell you in advance; whatever it is… it’s not worth it.  You may not have much money or have fame or power… but none of those things are worth, selling out to the devil.  Doing so leads to eternal punishment if we don’t ask God for forgiveness.  

Trouble

In the western movie “Tombstone” In one scene Wyatt Earp tells Johnny Ringgold, “We don’t want any trouble.” Ringgold responds in anger and says, “Well you got trouble!”

We all have trouble. Country musician has a song that talks about trouble. It says,

“Trouble in my heart, trouble on my mind

There’s never any trouble for me to find,

Some kind of trouble.(Some kind of trouble.)”

All of us could sing that song. In I Thessalonians, Paul refereed to some trouble he faced. He says, “…and to keep you from being shaken by the troubles you were going through. But you know that we are destined for such troubles. “

“We are destined for such troubles…” Trouble is part of life. It happens. It may be that you are going through some trouble. If so, the Lord promises to be with us. He doesn’t promise to keep us from trouble but to be with us in it.

There is an old negro spiritual that goes;

“Nobody knows de trouble I’ve seen
Nobody knows de trouble but Jesus
Nobody knows de trouble I’ve seen
Glory Hallelujah!

Sometimes I’m up, sometimes

I’m down
Oh, yes, Lord
Sometimes I’m almost to de groun’
Oh, yes, Lord.”

“Courage”

You are familiar with the classic movie, “The Wizard of Oz.” Enroute to the land of Oz, Dorothy meets the Tin-man, the Scarecrow and the Lion. Each one needs something. The Lion needed courage.

The Lion isn’t the only one that needed courage. Everyone needs courage. We need it more at times than others but everyone needs courage.

In I Thessalonians, the apostle Paul said that although they had been treated badly in Philippi, they came to Thessalonica anyway. Paul said that God gave them “courage..”

You may be facing something today that you are kind of nervous about. Today, you may need an extra dose of courage. Just as God gave Paul courage, he gives us courage as well.

Someone has said that courage is being afraid but saddling up anyway. The Lion needed courage and we need it as well. Ask the Lord for the courage needed for whatever you are facing.

“Jesus…You Got To Help Me Make A Stand”

Last night while driving home, James Taylor’s song, “I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain” came on. You are probably familiar with it.

The second verse reads;

“Won’t you look down upon me, jesus

You’ve got to help me make a stand

You’ve just got to see me through another day

My body’s aching and my time is at hand

And I won’t make it any other way.”

As I listened to that song and sang along, I thought that many people are in the very position described in that song. I’ve been there & others have.

“Look down upon me Jesus…

You got to help me make a stand…

You’ve got to see me through another day…”

I don’t want you are going through but perhaps that’s your prayer today. Maybe you are discouraged or broken-hearted….maybe you have reached a point where you have said, “Lord I need you….Lord, if you are there, I need you…I won’t make it any other way.”

Jesus loves us and knows our needs. Jesus cares. That doesn’t mean we will never hurt because we will. But, Jesus does care.

Return To The Old Paths


Have you ever heard someone say, “Boy, we need to get back to the way things were in the good ole’ days.” Well, the good ole days weren’t as good as we often like to think they were but there are somethings about the good ole days that we do need to
return to.
The prophet Jeremiah told Israel they need to “…ask for the old, godly way and walk in it.” What did Jeremiah mean by this statement?
The people of Judah had disobeyed the Lord. And because they had disobeyed the Lord, they are about to be punished. God sent Jeremiah the prophet to warn Judah to return to God. God says to Judah, “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for
the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’
Many people are concerned about our nation. In some ways, we have gotten away from things that are good. We need to to return to the old paths as well. What are some paths we need to return to? The path of responsibility. This is a trait that at one time was more common than
today. People took pride in taking responsibility. Not as much anymore. We have a tendency to want to blame others. There is an old saying that “every tub has to sit on its own bottom.” That’s good advice for all of us. Instead of shirking responsibility or wanting to point fingers, we need to be willing to take responsibility.
Second, we badly need to return to the path of civility. Each one of us are different. We think different. We have different political views. It’s called “diversity.” This nation is a diverse land. A little over a year ago, Holli and I traveled to New York City to see
our son. I am a Southerner. But that week, while riding the subway, I realized there are other people in this country. They are just as American as I am but they look and think
differently from me.
Years ago, we were civil to one another. That didn’t mean we agreed on everything but we didn’t argue as much as today. We badly need to return to the old path of civility.
Several years ago, the Kennedy family had a dedication ceremony for some building built in honor of the late Senator, Ted Kennedy. One of the guest speakers was former
Mississippi Senator, Trent Lott. I’ve met Senator Lott. He is as conservative as they come. As he stood to speak, he said, “Some of you are wondering why Trent Lott is
speaking at an event in honor of Ted Kennedy. He was liberal and I’m conservative.”
Then, he said, “Although we had different political philosophies, we were friends and were able to work together to get things done.” That’s called civility. We need much more of it today. Just because someone disagrees with you does not make them a bad person or the enemy.
We need to return to the path of integrity. One of the Ten Commandments is,
“Thou shall not bear false witness.” That refers to lying. Someone referred to another man once and said, “He only lies when his lips are moving.” We should be honest with
one another. Don’t tell a lie… don’t start gossip and don’t repeat gossip.
It’s not good to cling to the past but there are some things about the old paths that are good. Among those are the paths of responsibility, civility and integrity. We need to return to the old paths.

God Has Not Forgotten Us

There are times when heaven is silent. Times when we feel like God has forgotten us. We pray but no answers seem to come. We can begin to wonder if God has forgotten us.

The Psalmist felt the same way. In Psalms 77, the Psalmist felt God had forgotten him. He wrote, “This is my fate; the Most High has turned his hand against me.”

But in the next verse, the Psalmist says, “But then I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.” The Psalmist thought God had forgotten Him but then, he remembered all God had some for him in the past and he knew God hadn’t forgotten him.

God hasn’t forgotten us. We may be going through some tough times but God hasn’t forgotten us. If you need proof, remember everything God has done for us in the past. Remember how God has provided and God will provide today.

God hasn’t forgotten us. Habakkuk felt the same way years ago when he wrote, “Though the fig tree does not blossom, and there be no fruit on the vine; though the yield of the olive should fail and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in Thee O God.” God hasn’t forgotten us; we can trust Him.

Incentives God Gives

In the car business there are normally rebates & incentives on vehicles. Incentives are intended to ..literally…give a customer an incentive to purchase. And, the incentives can change from month to month.

Well, the Lord gives Christians incentives as well. The greatest incentive for the Christian is the promise of heaven. When a person believes in Jesus they do so because they want to go to heaven when they die.

In Colossians 1, the apostle Paul told the Christians in Colossae, “For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people….” then Paul says, “which come from your confident hope God has reserved for you in heaven.” Notice the last sentence…these people had faith and love because if their hope of heaven. Their hope of heaven was their incentive. Because of their hope of heaven, they had incentive to have faith in God and a love for God’s people.

We have the same incentives. Because we have faith in God and a belief in life eternal, that gives us faith and a love for God’s people.

In the car business, incentives change but God’s incentives never change. That is why we should love God.

Dealing With Anxiety

Most of us have, at some point in our lives, worried or we have been anxious about something.  It may be our finances or our health or our job or maybe our children.  But anxiety is something that is common.  Now, some may be more anxious than others still, we deal with anxiety.  How do you handle anxiety?

In Phillippians 4:6-7,  the apostle Paul gave us a remedy for anxiety.  Paul wrote, “In everything, in prayer and supplication, let your requests be made known unto God and the peoce of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hears and minds in Christ Jesus.”  That verse has been described a as prescription for prayer.  

In the verse, Paul is telling us that we should pray and not worry.  Paul says that instead of worrying, we should lift our concerns to God.  And, Paul says that when we pray, “the. Peace of God which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  

I’ve known people who shared a prayer concern and then, I would speak them maybe days or weeks later.  I would ask them about their concern? They would respond, “I have peace beyond comprehension.”  They were talking about Philippians 4.  

So, whatever you are concerned about, we can give it to the Lord and the peace of God which is beyond our comprehension, will guard our hearts and mind in Christ.  Today,  instead of worrying (at times, easier said than done), give your requests to to the Lord and He will give us peace.