Celebrities, Their Opinions, & Culture

United States culture has been interesting in the past few years. Just when it seems the cultural landscape can’t get any crazier, it does. As the crazy trends continue, there is no shortage of people who voice their opinion. Be it a layman like myself, a professional in that area, or a politician, there is plenty of noise. However, there is one group of people who often comment and perhaps should not: celebrities.

In recent weeks current events within America has caused many celebrities to voice their opinion. Some have taken to Twitter; some go on talk-shows, some who are not even American citizens have become very vocal. Each time they speak, we should ask one question, “What is their expertise?” Continue reading “Celebrities, Their Opinions, & Culture”

Listen Through the Bible in 2017

audiobible2017 is here, and so are New Year’s Resolutions. Some common resolutions each year relate to health and wellness. Others are developing a new hobby or spending time with family. Resolutions can be anything for anyone.

Many Christians each year attempt to read through the Bible. This ambitious goal starts off well for many, but either the busyness of life or the Levitical Law causes many Christians to lose their momentum. Consequentially, parts of scripture are then never known to the modern reader.

Yes, there are many reading plans. However, there is an overlooked strategy in our exposure to the Bible that we neglect. So as we read the scripture, why not focus on hearing God’s word too!?!? Continue reading “Listen Through the Bible in 2017”

Two Positive Uses For Selfie Sticks

selfiecombo2_1413360812         Selfie sticks have been a hot topic of popular culture over the past year. In case you don’t know what one is, it’s basically a pole that holds your cell phone to allow you to take self-portraits easier and at a greater distance. Often critics claim self-centered narcissistic people on social media use this new picture-taking device.[1] Other pundits anyone using one just looks stupid.[2] Now those are strong words, but they are real words that can be found in more than one article. However, there are two ways a selfie stick can be used positively.

The first is for basic photography. It was about a year ago that I saw a selfie stick for the first time and I thought it was a great idea. This was because the selfie stick was being used to take a picture of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. Rather than taking a picture of himself, the user was using the monopod on his camera phone to take a better shot of the Memorial. By using the selfie stick he was able to eliminate the large crowd that would have hindered his photographic shot. So a selfie stick can be practically used to aid one in their photography. Continue reading “Two Positive Uses For Selfie Sticks”

The Rise of Gog or the Power of the Gospel?

putinUnless you have avoided the news or only focused on the Malaysian Flight 370 reports then you know that Russian has advanced on Crimea. Due to additional news events, reports, and fears this has caused many to believe that Russia is not finished. There is a concern that Russia will advance on other countries in order to rebuild itself to its previous glory before the nation fell in 1991.

Also, many Christians have wondered if this is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. For example, a few weeks ago an article titled Vladimir Putin: The Rise of God and the Prophecy of Ezekiel 38-39 circulated around the Internet and social media, which you can read by clicking here. Naturally, the essay caused many debates, discussions, and concerns among many Christians. The interest should not be surprising because there is a natural fear with Russia’s actions. Personally, I believe we must be careful and not respond to fear because it is an inferior source of inspiration when compared to love. So my advice about interpreting Russia’s movements as biblical prophecy is that we need to be very careful because God’s love is far greater than the fears from the world. Continue reading “The Rise of Gog or the Power of the Gospel?”

Movie Review: God’s Not Dead & Apologetic Considerations

imagesRecently, I saw the movie “God’s Not Dead,” which I was very interested in two reasons. One, I have studied apologetics (the defense of the Christian faith) extensively and the movie centers heavily on Christian apologetics. Second, I had read Rice Broocks book, “God’s Not Dead” that the movie is based on. Both reasons combined caused me to have high expectations for the movie and I am happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised with the film. Therefore, I highly recommend anyone to see the movie for the following reasons:

1. The Apologetics Point To The Gospel. – In recent months I have been very discouraged by the Christian apologetic community. My displeasure comes from arrogant “apologists” who need to always be right and seem to only want to argue another. Additionally, I have seen far too many “apologists” fail to reach a lost culture because some reject the need to point people to Christ since they are more concerned with their arguments that glorify themselves than the Son of God. In contrast, “God’s Not Dead” uses in-depth arguments to point towards the existence of God, but it also presents the Gospel message of salvation and hope found in Jesus Christ. Continue reading “Movie Review: God’s Not Dead & Apologetic Considerations”

How to Deal with Critics: Part 2

Muppet CriticsLast Wednesday part one of a two-part post on “How to Deal with Critics” was posted. The first post’s theme was that one should not consider the advice of critics if they do not have the authority to criticize someone. Critics who criticize without just cause or authority were called deconstructive cynics. Romans 3:13 describes these type of cynics as,

“Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with lies.” “Snake venom drips from their lips.”

In contrast it was suggested that people should only listen to a constructive critic because usually this is an individual who has earned the credibility to offer advice into one’s life. Think about Nathan and King David’s relationship. In II Samuel 12 Nathan was able to confront David about his sin with Bathsheba because he had previously invested into David’s life. Therefore, a constructive critic cares because as a friend they communicate more than just criticism, but encouragement too.

This post will conclude by listing two more red flags to identify deconstructive cynics from a constructive critic.

1. Look For Solutions than Lone Criticism.

One of the easiest ways to identify a deconstructive cynic is to notice that they never offer a specific solution to their critique. Usually their aim is to generically criticize others. They may believe it is their job to police the world, or they criticize to make themselves feel better, or they simply know what is wrong, but not what is right. Ignore these deconstructive cynics because even if they are right, their criticism and advice will not rebuild someone into a better person. In fact, their lack of solutions may indicate their immaturity. So do not consider the advice of someone who is no better off, but cherish the advice of those who are successful.

Blue Bird

2. Look for Ownership than Anonymity.

Deconstructive cynics can be cowards. Leaders who have to make difficult decisions experience this a lot. For example, leaders will get a critical letter from someone, but the letter will not be signed. Another means of anonymity occurs when deconstructive cynics use other people to speak their advice because they lack the courage to speak criticism.

(For the record sometimes the person speaking this criticism is the actual cynic. So be alert, they may be shielding themselves by pretending it is another.)

This form of anonymity is cowardice and there is no real love or care for the organization or the person. As point number one stated, these deconstructive cynics are more concerned with criticism than working towards a solution. So anonymous criticism should treated like anonymous letters. They should be thrown away without considering the value of the advice given.

Strive towards having constructive critics in your life because they are your friends and they have your best interest at heart. As Proverbs 15:31 says,

“If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise.”

A good counselor will contend that their office is a “safe place” where one can be honest so a person can grow. Similarly, constructive critics are called “constructive” because they seek to build you up than tear you down. These type of friends want to build you into a better person while they enjoy your company. So the next time you hear criticism from someone ask yourself; Does it feel more like home or more like torture? The answer should determine the value of the advice given and if you hearing the voice of a friend.

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How to Deal with Critics: Part 1

Muppet Critics

Critics often claim they are here to tell you the truth and when it comes to critiquing others there are two extremes. The first is a positive example, which is a constructive critic. Someone who is a constructive critic offers their critique to help improve the person they are evaluating.  In other words, they are trying to tear down a negative in one’s life to make the person stronger. They are honest with you, but they want to end their critique on a positive thought.

The second type of critic is a deconstructive cynic. This person is one who offers critiques in a negative and judgmental way, but they fail to ever offer any positive advice with their critique. Truthfully, they use their honesty to tear a person down than to build them up. Deconstructive critics are often unhappy with themselves and this behavior helps them feel better. Proverbs 10:11 says it best, “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.” Rarely does a cynic have their target’s best interest in mind.

Obviously, one critique is better than another with the best being the constructive critic. The first difference between the two is found in their authority to speak truth to you. This will be focus of this post because if they do not have any authority in your life you should not listen.

1. Acknowledge When Critics DO NOT HAVE Authority To Judge You.

Reflect on the people you hear from the most in life. How often do they communicate with you? Also, think about the people you rarely hear from. Do you hear from some people when they only have something negative to say? A clear way to recognize a deconstructive cynic is when they only have something negative to say. Therefore, if they only offer negative advice then they do not posses the authority to critique any part of your life. If they truly loved you then you would hear from them more often and when they would offer encouragement too.

2. Acknowledge When Critics DO HAVE The Authority To Critique You.

Many deconstructive cynics claim their advice is out of care for you. However, if they did care their interaction would represent itself in positive ways too. This contrasts with a constructive critic who does care about you. You will know a critic loves you because there will be times when they will only encourage you. As Hebrews 10:24 says, “and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.” Their honesty about your flaws will carry the proper authority because they have positively poured into your life towards love and good deeds.

Conclusion

Again, there are two types of critics. The first is the constructive critic and the deconstructive cynic with the former being the one whose advice you want to consider. Therefore, in closing before you let anyone speak any criticism into your life, be sure they posses the authority to speak it. They should encourage you first and then critique you second, if they fail to keep this order they have placed the cart before the horse and you should never consider their advice.