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menu-coffee-outside-cafe Avoiding a Critical Spirit

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Avoiding a Critical Spirit
I enjoy cooking, finding recipes, and sharing new meals with my family and guests who visit our home. Because of my love for cooking, I get especially excited when I have the opportunity to visit a restaurant that I have read about or seen advertised. And, if I happen to have the chance to eat at one of these restaurants, I always look to see what the critics have said about the food, décor, and overall dining experience.

Several years ago, my husband and I were in the New York area, and we went to a restaurant that came highly recommended by all food critics who had eaten there. I was eagerly anticipating the meal and couldn’t wait to share this fun experience with my husband. But, much to my disappointment, while our meal wasn’t exactly terrible, it was definitely underwhelming. I left a little disappointed in the restaurant and its critics.

A couple of years later, I was with my husband on the West Coast, and we had the opportunity to visit another restaurant that had been featured in magazines and news clips. Again, I was very excited, and I sent a text to one of my daughters, letting her know that we would be able to visit. She replied that she was glad for me, but warned that the critics’ reviews weren’t very good and told me not to get my hopes up.

I tried to prepare my expectations for what was to come as we walked into the restaurant. But, we were pleasantly surprised when the food we ordered was amazing! Every bite was delightful and the entire experience – from décor to dessert – was overwhelmingly positive.

I learned a lesson that day: you can’t always trust the critics. And while it is easy to point out the faulty critics in our lives, sometimes it’s much harder to admit when we have our own critical spirit. And, even harder to acknowledge when our criticism is false and hurtful.

Criticism is a problem in the lives of a lot people, but sadly, it is a struggle among many Christians, as well. Criticism is wrong because it carries with it a sense of pride and superiority. (Luke 18:14) It is also often a cover up for my own heart issues. (Jeremiah 17:9) The following are a few truths I’ve learned (and am doing my best to implement!), as I’ve studied the consequences and the cure for criticism in our lives:

The Consequences

1. Criticism hinders my relationship with others.
Proverbs 15:1
A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

2. Criticism hurts others.
Matthew 7:3-5
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

3. Criticism hurts me.
Proverbs 11: 2
When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.

4. Criticism hinders my relationship with God.
Psalms 66:18
If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:

5. Criticism stops God’s blessing in my life.
Proverbs 28:13
He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

Those consequences are eye opening! Criticism hurts every relationship in my life, including my relationship with God. So, how can I address it and change for God’s glory?

The Solution

1. Search your heart.
Psalm 139:23-24
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

2. Confess your sin.
Proverbs 28:13
He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

3. Change your thinking.
Philippians 2:5
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

While food restaurant critics get a pass when they are wrong, we will give an account to God for our critical spirit. So, let’s admit when we’ve been wrong, ask God for forgiveness, and then determine to have the mind of Christ – a mind of humility and deference. May this spring be a time when you enjoy the blessings of a positive and joyful spirit in your life.

corn_dip Crock Pot Corn Dip

Crockpot Corn Dip
I tried this recipe last fall, and it quickly became a favorite. It’s great to serve to company and even tastes good when re-heated. Enjoy!

Crockpot Corn Dip
Ingredients:
16 oz cream cheese
1 cup of mayonnaise
1 bag (approximately 20 oz) of frozen corn
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1–2 cups cheddar/jack cheese
1 small can of diced green chilies
1/2 jar of roasted red bell peppers (diced)
Directions:
1. Put all ingredients (except for the cheddar/jack cheese)  into crockpot.
2. Stir in cheddar/jack cheese just before serving.
3. Serve with tortilla chips.

 

admin-ajax.php A Family Announcement and Practical Encouragement

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Our son, Matt, and daughter-in-law, Katie, have recently announced that they are expecting a baby boy this May! (That is our sweet granddaughter Alivia in the picture holding balloons to celebrate the news.)

And, our son, Larry, and daughter-in-law, Ashley, have also announced that they are expecting their second child this July! (We’re still waiting to find out the gender!) We couldn’t be more thrilled for our sons and their wives and are definitely looking forward to welcoming two more grandchildren into our family in just a few months.

Because of these upcoming births and the babies already in the family, when our daughters and daughters-in-law get together, topics involving babies and giving birth almost always come up in their conversations. It’s a fun and busy time for them, for sure!

I was thinking recently: if there is one story that is most often repeated by women, it is typically the story of their childbirth experiences. Put a few moms together in a room, and before long, stories of labor and delivery are being shared! Why? When a baby is born (although work and pain are often involved), it is a miraculous moment that fills a mother’s heart with joy. The experience of giving birth is unlike any other, and the love she has for that new child is unlike any other love.

Our spiritual birth into God’s family is a miraculous love-filled moment, as well! When Nicodemus came to Jesus by night seeking answers for his spiritual questions, Jesus told him, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). We know that Nicodemus was initially confused by this statement. But, Jesus explained to him that salvation is a re-birth. A spiritual birth.

When God commanded us to share the gospel with others, He invited us to labor for the joy of new spiritual birth. God performs the miracle of giving spiritual life, but He chooses to use us in the process. So, as this new year continues to fly by, how can we focus on laboring for the lost in these early weeks?

1. Look for opportunities.

When I was expecting, I noticed every baby and every mom to be. I had babies on my brain. Overnight, it seemed like the whole world was filled with moms and kids.

We should have that same consciousness of people around us. When you take time to look, you will see a lot of people who need the Gospel. Our communities are filled with people who are hurting.

While running errands, give Gospel tracts. Participate in the organized outreach program in your church. Perhaps you have friends or fellow soccer moms who would be very open to hearing the truth of the Gospel. Jesus shared the truth with Nicodemus, and with the Holy Spirit’s power, you can approach others with the Gospel, too! We just need to look for those God-given opportunities.

And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.—Luke 14:23

2. Claim God’s promises.

Just like going through labor can be a time of nervousness and uncertainty, the idea of sharing our faith can initially seem intimidating, too. Thankfully, God has given us many promises we can claim: Here are just two to get you started:

We can claim the promise of His guidance. Perhaps you wonder who should you talk to and where should you go. God will direct you. Proverbs 3:6 says, “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

We can claim the promise of His power. I love Acts 1:8. Notice the specific promise God gives to those who witness for Him: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

3. Keep a record.

When a woman begins prenatal care, her doctor makes a record of her pregnancy. The health care provider tracks the health of the mother and baby because that child is worth the hassle of keeping careful records!

Every person who expresses interest in the gospel is worthy of the same careful attention. Consider keeping a list of people you meet who need the gospel. Look at it every day, pray over it, and try to contact every person each week with a visit, call, or note. Their eternal destination is worth the diligence and effort.

4. Find a partner.

It would be difficult deliver a baby by yourself. It is (usually!) comforting to have someone like your husband in the room with you. Having a doctor to assist in delivery is always helpful, too!

I love that God sent his disciples into the world to spread the Gospel together! They worked as teams to share the Good News. Mark 6:7 says, “And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits.”

Consistently sharing your faith with an outreach partner will provide support, encouragement, and accountability. Not only that, but two people who are laboring together for the Lord can develop a great friendship and special bond as you see God working in lives together.

5. Remember the basics.

In the middle of labor, it’s easy to let the emotions and pain of the moment cause you to forget everything you read or prepared for (especially when you’re giving birth for the first time). The same can be true when laboring for the Lord. Sometimes, we just need to remember the basics. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you share the gospel with others:

  • God is the giver of life. Noah preached 120 years, and only his family came with him into the ark. Your responsibility is to sow the seed; God gives the increase.
  • The birth process can take time. It may take several visits over several months or even years for a person to be saved. Don’t give up and don’t stop praying!
  • If the Lord allows you to lead someone to Him, you are the new Christian’s spiritual parent. Take responsibility for seeing them baptized and mentored in spiritual growth. Strive to be a good example and special encouragement.

As the routines of this year begin to fall into place, I hope that you won’t forget the wonderful love of God demonstrated to you in salvation. I also pray that you (and I!) won’t lose the wonder of seeing someone accept Christ’s love and experience the joy of being born into God’s family. Every lost soul is worth our earnest labor!

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.—1 Corinthians 15:58


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