handling criticism

Tim Keller has some useful insights into handling criticism.

First, you should look to see if there is a kernel of truth in even the most exaggerated and unfair broadsides. There is usually such a kernel when the criticism comes from friends, and there is often such truth when the disapproval comes from people who actually know you. So even if the censure is partly or even largely mistaken, look for what you may indeed have done wrong. Perhaps you simply acted or spoke in a way that was not circumspect. Maybe the critic is partly right for the wrong reasons. Nevertheless, identify your own shortcomings, repent in your own heart before the Lord for what you can, and let that humble you. It will then be possible to learn from the criticism and stay gracious to the critic even if you have to disagree with what he or she has said.

go check out the rest.

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practical prayer helps

here is John Piper talking about how practically to develop a passion for prayer.

what he says about the stories is just so true. I read a book about George Mueller in high school and it has had to biggest impact on my prayer life of anything.

The other part about praying scripture, Julie and I learned from Beth Moore while we were in Arkansas. Very good stuff.

Hat tip to Vitamin Z.

prayer request time

John Mark has some ideas for matters about which we should be praying. Here are a couple. Go read his post for the rest.

Advancement of God’s Kingdom (Matt. 6:10)

Explicitly that God’s will be done (Matt. 6:10)

Thank God for each other being together for the Gospel (Phil. 1:3-5; 1, Thess. 1:2)

Why pray?

Pulpit Magazine concludes its series on why we should pray if God is sovereign with part 4 here. The first three parts are linked here.

“5. We should pray because God has ordained prayer as a means by which He accomplishes His eternal purposes.”

This part is a little longer and more involved, but it is the crux of the whole thing. Go read it and think about it a while. Read the Bible passages that it points to and think about it some more.

here is one of the examples:

A second example can be found at the end of the book of Job. God addressed Job’s friend, Eliphaz the Temanite, saying,

I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly (Job 42:7b-8a; NIV)

Then, as verse 9 reveals, Eliphaz “did what the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer” (NIV). From this it is clear that God not only ordained that His wrath toward Eliphaz would be turned aside, but He also ordained that the means He would use to accomplish that end would include the intercessory prayer of His servant Job.

why pray?

A recurring theme in our men’s Bible study and on this blog is the question “why should we pray if God is sovereign over all?” another variant is “why should we pray if God is going to to what God is going to do anyway?”

Here are two previous posts that I have put up about this question.

Why Pray?
the power of prayer

Pulpit Magazine has now posted three parts of an answer to the question as well.

Part 1 sets up the issue.

Part 2 begins the answer with 1. God commanded us to pray and 2. Jesus modeled a life of prayer.

Part 3 continues the answer with 3. God is able to respond to our prayers and 4. God actually does respond to our prayers.

Here is a bit from number 4:

Scripture is filled with examples of God granting to His people what they have requested in their prayers of petition and intercession. First Chronicles 4:10a records the prayer of Jabez in which he said, “Oh that Thou wouldst bless me indeed, and enlarge my border, and that Thy hand might be with me, and that Thou wouldst keep me from harm, that it may not pain me!” In response to Jabez’s prayer, “God granted him what he requested” (v. 10b). In Exodus 32:10, God told Moses of His intentions to destroy the people of Israel because of their idolatry. But Moses interceded on behalf of Israel (vv. 11-13), and in response to his prayer God relented and did not destroy them (v. 14). And as James records, God responded to the earnest prayers of Elijah in both initiating and ending a three-and-a-half-year drought (James 5:17-18; cf. Genesis 18:22-33; 32:26; Daniel 10:12; Amos 7:1-6; Acts 4:29-31; 10:31; and 12:5-11).

At the same time that it is acknowledged that God is sovereign, then, it must also be acknowledged that “[t]he effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (James 5:16b; cf. 4:2). In fact, immediately after answering the question of how to pray in Luke 11:2-4, Jesus goes on to answer the question of why to pray by giving two reasons—because God rewards diligence in prayer by granting requests (Luke 11:5-10), and because God delights in giving good gifts to His children (Luke 11:11-13).

How great is it that God delights in giving good gifts to His children?

Roe v. Wade @36 part 3

Yuval Levin points to a speech by Professor Robbert P. George on the occasion of this anniversary. Go read it.

In the name of a generalized “right to privacy” allegedly implicit in the Due Process Clause of the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment, seven justices created a license to kill the unborn.

These men probably had no idea that they were unleashing a struggle for the soul of the nation. Five had been appointed by Republican presidents—two by Eisenhower, three by Nixon. Four of these five were regarded as “conservative,” “law and order” judges: Warren E. Burger, Potter Stewart, Lewis F. Powell, and Harry Blackmun. All no doubt believed that legal abortion was a humane and enlightened policy, one that would ease the burdens of many women and girls and relieve the enormous cost to society of a high birth rate among indigent (often unmarried) women. They seemed blithely to assume that abortion would be easily integrated into the fabric of American social and political life.

They were wrong on all counts.

They were wrong about the Constitution. As William H. Rehnquist and Byron White, the two dissenting justices in the case, pointed out, it is absurd to claim that a right to feticide follows from the constitutional injunction that “no state shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.” If the Constitution can be read to imply anything about abortion, it is that unborn human beings are, like everyone else, entitled to “the equal protection of the laws.” At a minimum, Roe and Doe were an outrageous usurpation of the constitutional authority of the people of the United States to shape law and policy through the institutions of representative government.

…..

Of course, from the pro-life vantage point, success on the judicial front is only the prelude to the larger political struggle over abortion. If Roe is reversed, the result will be to return the matter to the domain of ordinary democratic deliberation for resolution by the state legislatures or the Congress. The burden will then be on the pro-life movement to win the struggle for the soul of the nation. We must, with God’s help, persuade our fellow citizens to fulfill the promise of the Declaration of Independence by bringing the unborn fully within the protection of our laws.

On this score, we have a marvelous model in the great anti-slavery crusader William Wilberforce. When he began his work against the monstrous evil of chattel slavery, the odds appeared to be long against abolition. He was attacked by partisans of the slave power as a zealot, a religious fanatic, and, most perversely, an enemy of freedom. He was, they said, imposing his religious values on others. If he didn’t like slavery, well, no one was forcing him to own slaves. He should mind his own business and stay out of other people’s affairs. Less vitriolic critics said that he was unrealistic. He was a dreamer. He was making impossible demands. Does any of this sound familiar?

Wilberforce refused to be intimidated. He would allow nothing to deter him from his mission of Christian charity to free the slaves and end the practice of slavery. He was undaunted by the ridicule often heaped upon him.

A more recent hero, Mother Teresa of Calcutta reminded us during her final visit to the United States that prayer is the most powerful weapon in the pro-life arsenal. Wilberforce would certainly agree. We must ask God’s forgiveness for our great national sin of abandoning the unborn to the crime of abortion and implore His guidance and assistance in recalling the nation to its founding ideals of liberty and justice for all. While not all pro-life citizens are in a position to be activists or exercise leadership in the social and political spheres, all are able to participate in the prayer effort, and no one’s prayers are superfluous.

In addition to prayer and our political efforts, there is the obligation to reach out to pregnant women who are in need or who are subject for other reasons to pro-abortion pressures. The partisans of abortion, with the help of an overwhelmingly sympathetic and deeply biased news media, have portrayed people who oppose the killing of the unborn, whether by abortion or in embryo-destructive research, as heartless moralizers bent on oppressing women and impeding the progress of science. Nothing could be further from the truth.

….

And those of us who are Christians must, in obedience to the command of Christ himself, love our enemies. We must pray for those who have brought the abortion license upon our nation and for those who today protect and sustain it. We must also pray for those who perform and profit from the taking of human life. Our love for them must be godly and ungrudging. We must never give up on its power to transform.

emphasis added

how to pray

here are 9 suggestions from John Piper regarding how to pray.

Here are the first three to get you going, but go to Desiring God for the other six.

Here are some ways to pray for yourself so that you’re praying in sync with the way God works.

1. For the desire of my heart to be toward God and his Word.

Incline my heart to Your testimonies and not to gain. (Psalm 119:36)

2. For the eyes of my heart to be opened.

Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law. (Psalm 119:18)

3. For my heart to be enlightened with these “wonders.”

[I pray] that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened. (Ephesians 1:18)

really good stuff. hat tip to Ramblin’ Pastor Man.