How to Measure Success in Our Lives

Tim TebowTim Tebow, former NFL quarterback, current TV sports analyst and sought-after speaker, had this to say about success: “TRUE SUCCESS is not measured in physical possessions, but in the amount of lives that you change.”

Okay, I admit it. I like Tim Tebow! My daughter says I have a man crush on him. Funny, but not what I’m feelin’.  :)  I admire the man not for the outside appearance or even his athletic achievements, but for what is on the inside of him. His character!  He has been brave, honest and courageous in his stand for Jesus. And he has been kind to those who have mistreated him. But more than that, Tim Tebow has made a difference for others with his life.

Here is what the Bible says in Matthew 6:19-21:  19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth where they can erode away or may be stolen.  20 Store them in heaven where they will never lose their value and are safe from thieves. 21 If your profits are in heaven, your heart will be there too.” (TLB)

This means we should do things that really count in this life, and those are the things that help others. We show God’s compassion by giving, serving and helping those in need. When we do this, people are encouraged and their lives are changed for the better. And when we do good deeds for others in some way, God tells us we are laying up treasures in heaven.

Look at Tebow’s actions and see why I appreciate his example as a brother in Christ:

Tim Tebow grew up the son of missionaries, and even after moving to Florida as a child, he returned to the Philippines as a teenager–to spread God’s word, and do the Lord’s work, by serving the needy. He carried that calling with him to the University of Florida, where in addition to leading the Gators to two national championships, and winning the Heisman Trophy in 2007, he also devoted himself to charity–raising money for pediatric cancer patients and disadvantaged children.

In 2010, his vision took shape in the Tim Tebow Foundation. The Tim Tebow Foundation exists to bring faith, hope and love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need. The foundation fulfills this mission every day by making dreams come true for children with life-threatening illnesses, building Timmy’s Playrooms in children’s hospitals, providing life-changing surgeries to children of the Philippines through the Tebow CURE Hospital, sponsoring Night to Shine, a nationwide prom for people with special needs, providing care for orphans in four countries and adoption aid grants for families who choose to adopt an international child with special needs.

The dude is practicing what he preaches. He is changing lives and, as a result, he is “laying up treasures in heaven.” I do think that is the definition of success.

A great question for all of us is: How many lives are we changing? It would be a fantastic goal if we each decided that we were going to look for ways to give to the poor, help those in need, serve those who could use a hand up in life and love people with the love of God.

Matthew 5:15: “Don’t hide your light! Let it shine for all; let your good deeds glow for all to see, so that they will praise your heavenly Father.” (TLB)

Grace and Truth,

Pastor Stan

INVITE A FRIEND TO CHURCH THIS EASTER, SURVEY SHOWS THEY’RE LIKELY TO SAY YES

Friend ImageWe tend to think these days that no one will really come to a church service if invited. Not true according to a recent study by the  North American Mission Board (NAMB) and LifeWay Research which found that:

  • 67 percent of Americans say a personal invitation from a family member would be very or somewhat effective in getting them to visit a church.
  • A personal invitation from a friend or neighbor would effectively reach 63 percent.

Another survey showed that the two most likely times they would attend if invited are Christmas and Easter.

So this week is a great time to invite someone to an Easter church service. Click here for information about Horizon’s Easter Celebration. But, of course, any bible-believing, Jesus-focused church would be a great one to invite your friend, neighbor or family member to. Jesus is waiting to pour His love out on them!

Share this article for others to see too!

Grace and Truth,

Pastor Stan

Did You Know That God is Crazy About You?

It is true. God has a crazy love for you! Look what He says to His people:

Zechariah 2:8b:  …whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye. (NIV)

It reminds me of a story I heard about a little girl sitting on her daddy’s lap. She suddenly said, “Daddy, I know what you’re thinking about right now.”

“You do?” her dad asked. “Then tell me.”

She answered, “You’re thinking of me!”

“That’s exactly right,” he exclaimed. “How did you know that?”

“Easy,” the little girl said. “I can see me in your eyes.”

She could see the reflection of her face as she looked into her daddy’s eyes.

God's LoveThat is the way it is with you too. God says that His children are the “apple of his eye.” This is a term that means that you are His most prized and precious possession. You might say, “Me? No way.” I know it sounds crazy, but it is true. He loves you more than you can ever imagine. See it here in the Bible:

1 John 4:9: God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. (NLT)

 And here again, see how God fills us with love the more we trust in Him:

1 Timothy 1:14: Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus. (NLT)

God is not angry and against you. He has a crazy love for you and He has made a way through His son Jesus to show you His great love. You are His creation and He wants to adopt you as His child. So trust in God through His son Jesus. Go to your loving heavenly Father and tell Him how you feel and what you need. He will meet you and bless you incredibly because He has great love for you.

Galatians 4:6-7: 6 Since you are God’s children, God sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, and the Spirit cries out, “Father.” 7 So now you are not a slave; you are God’s child, and God will give you the blessing he promised, because you are his child. (NCV)

Grace and Truth,

Pastor Stan Russell

Your Place of Business is Your Ministry Too!

workplace imageToo often pastors like myself have unwittingly caused believers to feel that ministry takes place primarily at church services or events. We certainly need people serving and loving others when they come to our church services, but the gospel of Jesus Christ is to be lived out every day, wherever we go.

Obviously, one of the key places where we spend most of our time is at work. Whether a business owner or employee, God wants us to minister to those around us at work too! The Bible shows us that we are to work for God every day in our place of employment.

Colossians 3:23-24  23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (NIV)

There are some really practical ways that we can do this without standing on our desks and saying, “Turn or burn.” Consider these thoughts:

Our attitude toward employees should be:

  • They are God’s creation.
  • I want to bless them.
  • I want to pay them as well as I can. (Benefits)
  • I want to encourage and help them when they are in crisis.

As a worker, I am seeking to love God and love people and serve Him in that setting.

Your manner toward customers should be:

  • I will always be fair and honest.
  • I will do my best to do what I say.
  • I will go above and beyond to bless the customer.
  • I will always give my best.

Do a little bit more good than you say; it will bring blessing to the business, the customer and eventually God will get the glory.

In general, our example must be the character of Christ lived out:

1 Peter 2:12 Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.  (NLT)

This means we need to be people of high character, generous, compassionate, humble, honest, caring and concerned about others. After all, this is the way Jesus lived and He is the one we are following. People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.

There are also some ways we can create opportunities to share our faith with others in the workplace.

Here are a few potential ways to launch conversations:

1.  In your office area, display conversation launchers like:

  • A Bible.
  • Christian books like, God is My CEO, and Succeeding in Business without Losing Your Faith. Books like these really will start conversations, may lead to questions from visitors and could eventually bring the chance to share the gospel.
  • Quotations from scripture, framed artwork, placards, paper weights etc., on desks, in bookcases, on coffee tables, and even out in the reception area. These artifacts can evoke questions about your faith.

2.  Share your faith by what you wear. Wearing a gold cross is a way to signal your faith.

3.  Insert a scriptural references into one of your talks. Mark Belton, a CEO of General Mills, said that when he talked, “Most of the folks really don’t know it’s a scripture, but the folks who do…love to hear it.”

4.  Don’t be afraid to mention, in everyday conversations, that you read the Bible or go to church. You don’t have to go long and strong here, just say it in passing.

5.  Attend the company Bible study or even start one. Wurzbacher of Coca-Cola says she attends a company Bible study as a way of signaling her allegiances and encouraging other believers at work.

6.  Attend church on Sundays when you are out of town on business trips. Archie Dunham, who led ConocoPhillips for many years, regularly attended church on Sundays, even while traveling.

7.  Don’t do some things. Model great character by, for instance, not getting drunk and chasing after women.

If we live these ways, people who are facing difficulty and challenges in their lives will ask us questions about this Jesus we serve and what the Bible says:

1 Peter 3:15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect… (NIV)

So love them, live it and be ready to share it at work, because your place of business is your ministry too!

Grace and Truth,

Pastor Stan Russell

 

 

 

Eight Steps to Discovering God’s Will for Important Decisions

walk image1.     Pray and ask God for His wisdom.

“Okay,” you say, “I thought your counsel would be more profound.” What follower of Christ would not pray? You would be surprised how many people do not submit big life decisions to God in prayer. We tend to look at all the circumstances and go with what feels best to us. We need to start with prayer! Remember, God loves you and wants to bless you and put you in the best settings for fruitfulness and blessing.

Jeremiah 29:13-14a: If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. (NLT)

James 1:5-6: If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. (NIV)

Whether it is a new home, a new car, a new job, a partnership or a prospective mate, start with prayer and you will have your best opportunity to end up with a great decision.

2.     Ask for counsel from trusted people close to you.

There is wisdom in the thoughts of others who know and love God and know and love you. Talk to two or three people you admire and trust and who know you well. Ask them what they think.

Proverbs 15:22: Plans fail without good advice, but they succeed with the advice of many others. (NCV)

Take note of their thoughts and let those thoughts enter into your journey for the right choice.

3.     Compare your now to the new possibility.

Practically speaking, this just makes good sense. What are the pros and what are the cons? Do the pros outweigh the cons? Please take note here that not all decisions will add up when it comes to the will of God. Sometimes He asks us to take less money or to sacrifice for His kingdom’s sake. However, the pros and cons list will give you some sense of what you are dealing with and sometimes cause you to see that the Lord is creating quite an opportunity that He wants to bless you with.

4.    Ask yourself, “What is best for my family?”

Better money, a better career trajectory, better perks or a warm weather climate do not mean it will be best for the family. Church, friends, timing in the kids’ schooling and their feelings matter!

The Bible says in Deuteronomy 6:6-7:  6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. (NLT)

Notice that this is a young family (they have children). They are hanging out together, doing life together, talking and interacting about important things in life, including the most important aspect of our lives: spiritual growth. Consider which setting will be a better situation for these things to happen for your family; the one you’re currently in or the one you’re considering going to.

Ecclesiastes 9:9: Live happily with the woman you love through all the meaningless days of life that God has given you under the sun. The wife God gives you is your reward for all your earthly toil. (NLT)

Don’t forget that you have a spouse to do life with for a reason. Your spouse is God’s gift to you and a companion you are to enjoy life with. Will the new situation help or hurt this relationship? You don’t want to put your spouse in a situation where their life is negatively impacted by the decision. And you don’t want resentment to develop in your relationship with your spouse or children. So check it with them and get them praying too.

5.     Look for confirming circumstances.

If you are praying and seeking God, it only makes sense that He will confirm it along the way with some obvious direction. So don’t overlook the ways God is showing you. Write them down and discuss them with your loved ones and spiritual leaders.

In the Bible, when Peter and His friends were praying for His deliverance from an unjust imprisonment, the angel of God came and opened the prison door. It was an obvious sign that He was to walk through the door and into his freedom.

Acts 5:19: But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. (NIV)

When you pray sincerely and fervently, God sometimes opens doors. When you pray, take note of these things and move accordingly.

6.     Consult the Holy Scriptures.

Too often today many followers of Jesus are making big decisions that are contrary to the Word of God. This is often because they don’t know or ignore what the scriptures have to say about the specifics of their situations. For example, if someone was praying about divorcing their spouse, but did not have scriptural grounds, meaning their spouse had committed adultery against them, then they should stop praying and be obedient to the will of God and stay in their marriage and pray that God would help them work things out.

Matthew 19:9: “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman is guilty of adultery. The only reason for a man to divorce his wife is if his wife has sexual relations with another man.” (NCV)

1 Peter 3:1-2: The same goes for you wives: Be good wives to your husbands, responsive to their needs. There are husbands who, indifferent as they are to any words about God, will be captivated by your life of holy beauty. (MSG)

God doesn’t want us to be hurt further, so He shows us the path to healing, and at times He says, “Don’t go there.” So don’t do anything contrary to the already revealed Word of God in the Bible. Remember that God is all about protecting you and bringing blessing to your future. Trust Him. If you don’t, you can find yourself in a big mess and alienated from the ones you love the most.

7.     Get other people to pray with and for you.

Ask your friends, family and pastors to pray with you about this key decision for your life. There were a lot of people praying for Peter to be delivered from being jailed when he had done no wrong. Peter was miraculously set free by God’s angel and He went right to the prayer meeting and thanked his friends and family for praying for Him and thus helping bring about his deliverance (Acts 12:11-17). Prayer works and the more people who are praying for you and your situation, the better!

8.    Fast when you pray.

One final thought on prayer. My wife, Karen, and I like to fast and pray when it comes to these big decisions in life. Fasting – not eating food – is coupled with prayer many places in the bible. Here are a couple:

Esther 4:16: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” (NIV)  

Acts 10:30: So Cornelius said, “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing…” (NKJV)

There are different ways to fast, but the most common one in the bible is to forego food and drink only water. This may seem a little weird to some of you, but I believe that when we subdue the physical in our life, the spiritual things are easier to discern. We can hear from God easier. Also, He sees that we are sincere and He will meet us because we are seeking Him with all of our hearts.

So there you have it: eight steps to the right decision. I hope you will trust the Lord and follow His ways, because His ways for you are always best and will bless your life. This passage explains God’s heart for you:

Deuteronomy 4:40: “Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the Lord your God gives you for all time.” (NIV)

God isn’t bullying you, He is showing you the best path in life because He wants it to “go well with you and your children.”

Grace and Truth,

Pastor Stan Russell

The Most Important Thing to Remember When You Vote

Flag and Ballot 2016-02-02Wow, what a barn-burner last night in the Iowa presidential primary. Trump loses, and Hillary needs coin flips to win.

This is an important time in our nation’s history. I want to remind everyone of one scripture in the holy Bible that ensures success for a nation. I hope you can see the importance of its truth:

Proverbs 14:34 Godliness makes a nation great but sin is a disgrace to any people. (NLT)

What is godliness? What is sin? We must read the Bible to know and then we must follow the truth revealed in God’s word. If we do, great days ahead!

Grace & Truth,

Pastor Stan

Helping Those Who Are Unable to Help Themselves

You Can Free UsIn December, my wife, Karen, daughter, Candice, and I traveled to India to check out a ministry called You Can Free Us. It is an outreach built to rescue women from sex-trafficking. We actually went up into the brothels and gave Christmas gifts to those young women who are enslaved. The pain we felt in those moments makes me think of the passage of the Bible in Exodus 3:7b-8a where God speaks and says,

“I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them.”

At Horizon Community Church, we are dedicated to raising $50,000 from our Kingdom Builders missions fund this year to give to help rescue these women through the great ministry of YouCanFree.Us. Check out this video which has highlights from our trip to India.

Kingdom Builders – You Can Free Us from Horizon Community Church on Vimeo.

Seven Reasons You Should Go To Church

Church - Image for 1-20-2016 Blog1. The bible says you should. 

Hebrews 10:25a says, “Let us not neglect our church meetings, as some people do…drawing near.” (TLB) In this passage God calls us out. “Come on now,” He says, “you are not doing right to neglect church.” Come back and He will bless you for it.

2. Jesus went regularly as an example for us. 

Luke 4:16 tells us that, “Jesus traveled to Nazareth, where he had grown up. On the Sabbath day he went to the synagogue, as he always did, and stood up to read.” (NCV)  If you are going to follow Christ, well then, you should follow His example.

3. You need friendship with other believers.

See it here in the Bible: “All the believers were together and had everything in common.” (Acts 2:44, NIV).  And Acts 2:46 says, “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts…” (NIV). We need each other. See what the Bible says about this further in 1 Peter 1:22b: “…love one another deeply, from the heart.” (NIV) You can tell people you love them, but unless you spend time with them it can’t be true. You need to show up so you can love and be loved.

4. You need to hear good teaching from the Bible.

Acts 2:42 tells us, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” (NIV) They met together in the temple (a large group gathering) to hear the teaching of the Bible from God’s servants regularly. People who don’t go to church are often hiding so they don’t have to grow. They tell themselves and others, “I am fine just the way I am. I don’t need help from a church or a preacher.” Well, if that is true, then why did God say to his preachers in the Bible, “Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:2, NLT) You show me a person who doesn’t gather in the church with other believers and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t want to be held accountable for their own growth. After all, “correction, rebuke and encouragement,” can’t happen if you don’t show up. And it’s not just them, it’s me and you. We all need the grace and truth of God’s word applied to our lives to keep us on track.

5. It is a great way to bless your family.

One of the best things you can do for your family and yourself is to find a great Bible-believing, Jesus-centered church and attend regularly. “Really?” you ask. “Yes, really!” Your kids will learn Bible values, not worldly philosophies and, as a result, they will have a much better chance of making good decisions in life. It is the best place to find the love of God, good friends, and good friends for your kids. When you settle in a great church, your family will find great blessing. Parents, we need to lead the way for our children. The Psalmist said: “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’” (Psalm 122:1, NLT) This parent loved the place and he wanted to be there. Another great man of God said in the Bible: “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15b, NKJV) Lead your family to a good church and, in the end, you will find that it was one of the best things you ever did. If you don’t believe me, just ask someone who has taken their family to church regularly for years and listen to their answer.

I need to say that yes, there are some churches that don’t do it well and your experience may have shown you this, you may have even been hurt at church. But don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. After all, if any of us finds the perfect church and joins it, it won’t be perfect any more, LOL. There are many, many excellent churches out there. Find one and get your family into one.

6. God asks you to gather with others to praise Him.

Psalm 100:2-4 says, “Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name.” (NLT) There is nothing like joining together with other people and lifting His name in worship and praise with thanksgiving. It will lift your heart and remind you of who God is, how powerful He is and how loving He is, and you need that.

7. You may have the wrong idea about church.

If you think church is a bunch of self-centered, boring, old-fashioned people who are judgmental, then you have just bought into every negative stereotype that the enemy of your soul has thrown your way. Many churches these days are teeming with young people, alive with the spirit of God and with worship that is current and will blow you away. The children’s ministries are not only safe, but excellent, loads of fun and kids can’t wait to come back.

Google churches online and you can tell the ones that are healthy and effective for families and helping them come close to God.

Grace and Truth,

Pastor Stan

 

 

 

 

 

Ten Great Resolutions for 2016

NEW-YEARS-RESOLUTIONS-calendar1. Read the Bible every day.

God’s word covers everything that is important in life. If we read the word of God and apply it to our lives, everything gets better.

2. Spend more time with family.

No one ever said on their deathbed that they wished they had spent more time in the office. Quality time shows up more with larger quantities of time. Schedule time with family, get home at a decent time, vacation and live, laugh and love with those who count most in life.

3. Speak positive words.

It is so easy to slip into the way of the world: criticizing, complaining and speaking negatively about circumstances and others. It won’t help you and certainly won’t help others. The Bible says, “The tongue has the power of life and death.” I want to speak life. Encouragement, approval, compliments and kind words: these things change people’s lives for the better. Let’s make effort to be the person others remember because of our positive impact on their lives. It is way more fun and fulfilling.

4. Be more generous.

Joy comes from giving. The Bible says that we are happier (blessed) when we give than when we receive. Help out a neighbor or a family member, someone struggling to keep things together because of tough times, or give to charities that help the poor. Joy follows the generous giver.

5. Develop a hobby.

We need more space in our lives. We are so busy, so committed to building our financial resources. Ask yourself what would you do on a regular basis for fun and relaxation if you could? Then do that because you can. You are the one who creates your own schedule. If you find time on a regular basis for yourself, you will fill your tank and be even better for family, work and every area of life. God says in Ecclesiastes 8:15a, “So I commend the enjoyment of life.” (NIV) God wants you to enjoy life too.

6. Serve somewhere.

Okay, this is similar to giving, but it is our time, not our money. Serve where your heart is, do something for someone without expecting anything in return: the community, your church, a family member or a beggar on the street. Jesus said, “Anyone wanting to be the greatest must be the least-the servant of all!” (Mark 9:35). Serving helps us know that our lives are making a difference for others and it is one of the things that bring a sense of fulfillment in life.

7. Exercise and keep yourself healthy.

Do you want to feel better and live longer? Exercise. The Bible says, “Physical training is good…” (NLT, 1 Timothy 4:8b). This will give you more energy for the rest of life.

8. Go to church every weekend.

One of the best things you can do for your family and yourself is to find a great Bible-believing Jesus-centered church and attend regularly. It is the best place to find the love of God, good friends, good friends for your kids, and a steady diet of Bible teaching that will help you grow. “Really?” you say. “Yes, really!” Check this out:

  • Jesus went regularly. Luke 4:16 “Jesus traveled to Nazareth, where he had grown up. On the Sabbath day he went to the synagogue, as he always did, and stood up to read.” (NCV)  If you are going to follow Christ, well then you should follow His example.
  • The bible says we should. Hebrews 10:25a “”Let us not neglect our church meetings, as some people do…drawing near.” (TLB) When you settle in a great church, your family will find great blessing.

9.  Sleep better.

Take care of yourself. Doctors say you need 7-8 hours of sleep a night to be your healthiest. This will keep you from getting sick and cranky. We are not much different that three year olds when we don’t sleep well. You need it to be your best, so work at it.

10. Hang out with friends more.

You need to be around people who like you. You’ll find encouragement, laughter and flat out fun. You also get someone who will help you work through the tough times in your life. These things really do make life more enjoyable and bearable.

  • Proverbs 17:17a A friend loves you all the time… (NCV)
  • Ecclesiastes 4:12b Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. (NLT)

So you may be thinking, “Who has time to do all of these things?” Remember, there are 168 hours in your week. If you work 45 hours a week, that leaves you 123 hours to work these things in. So choose one or two areas to emphasize this year. If you do, life most likely will get better for you.

How to Handle Criticism

criticism

1. Ask yourself if it is true. 

The bible tells us that the wounds of a friend are faithful. (Proverbs 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend… NKJV) This means that when people love you and care for you, you should listen to them. If someone close to you, and even more so if many close to you are bringing something to your attention that is causing difficulty for others or is a character issue, you should listen and prayerfully consider it. If it is true, you should ask God to help you overcome the flaw.

On the other hand, it is true that people who don’t like you will often be more honest than those who love you. It is important to seek God concerning whether their criticisms are true, then change in that area even if, in your mind, the wrong person revealed it to you. If it is true, it is true and God will bless your humility if you seek to follow His will and become more like Jesus in every area. (James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor. NLT)

The most important thing to remember is that if you will seek God for growth in your areas of weakness, no matter how they are revealed, you will be blessed, those around you will be blessed, your relationships will be strengthened and God will be glorified.

2. Try not to take it personally.

Keep your cool, don’t lose your composure and don’t say something that later you will wish you hadn’t. (Philippians 2:14 Do everything without complaining or arguing… NIV) If you do this, often you prove to others that they are off base with their criticism. If you fight back, kick and scream (metaphorically speaking) then you are just making them and others think the criticism is correct. If you think, during the criticism, “I am not going to take this personally,” you can weigh everything evenly and move on without guilt for past or present actions.

3. If it is not true, then don’t worry about it.

I mean literally, don’t worry. Now this is a place where I fall short at times myself. I want everyone to like me and think good thoughts about me, after all, I am a good guy, right? Well, sometimes people will judge you wrongly, even Christians. How do you handle that when it happens? I once shared in anguish with my wife Karen about some criticism I had received about having wrong motives. She asked me, “Is it true?” I said, “No,” and she said, “Don’t worry about it then.” Great advice. I can’t be responsible for every wrong criticism I receive, and neither can you. Instead, pray and give it to God as Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (NLT)

4. When you respond, speak once and speak well.

Tell the person why it isn’t true. Tell them your real heart and point out to them how they are off base, but don’t speak to them over and over to try to win them with your words. Jesus, when accused of crimes by the Pharisees, spoke once and He spoke the truth well. He told them who He was and they didn’t like it. People who don’t like you want to hurt you and expose any weakness you have. Don’t get into it with them over and over again. Speak once and speak it well and then move on. I like to think of critics as those people who “boo” in the stands when a game is being played. If you are a player, the only way they can affect the game is if you let them get in your head. Don’t talk to them, it is just a distraction. Move on and follow God and He will bless you.

5. Live your life with character and purity.

In the end, the best way to overcome criticism is to prove your innocence with faithfulness to God, character and purity. Sometimes you can’t overcome criticism that is false in the moment, or even in a week or two, but over time, the months and the years of character add up. You will get credit for living the right way. God will vindicate you. Show that your life is one lived in love, in dedicated service to God and with character, and in the end you will win.

Matthew 5:16b … Live so that they will see the good things you do and will praise your Father in heaven. (NCV)

Grace and Truth,

Pastor Stan

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