Hunting Wealth Too Eagerly?

July 25th, 2016

He who loses godliness to gain gold–is a great cheater of himself.

Keep yourselves entirely for Christ. Live above the world. Its goods will come to you–when you do not bid too high for them. If you hunt the butterfly of wealth too eagerly–you may spoil it by the grasp with which you secure it!

When earthly things are sought for as the main object, they are degraded into rubbish, and the seeker of them has fallen to be like Bunyan’s man with a muck-rake, turning over a dunghill to find nothing. Set your heart on nobler things than lucre! Let us so live that it will be safe for God to add to us the blessings of the present life; but that can only be done with safety, when we have learned to keep the world under our feet.

Charles Spurgeon, “A Good Start!”

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Is it a “Need” or “Desire?”

July 22nd, 2016

“My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus!” Philippians 4:19

We have here the promise that every possible need will be provided for. The Lord of earth and Heaven has such boundless treasures at His command, that it is impossible that we can expect too much. Not all we wish, not all that we may think pleasant or desirable–but all that the only-wise God discerns to be truly needful and profitable for us–that will He give.

The supply assured to the believer, comprises that which is needful for all that concerns our present life–and all that is essential for the support and growth of spiritual life in the soul.

As to this present life, God supplies our needs. And yet by withholding much that is for our comfort, He humbles and proves His children. He often keeps them on very slender fare!

What then have the people of God a right to expect?

Sometimes He may bestow a rich abundance of temporal blessings. He did so in the case of Job, and Abraham, and Joseph, and Solomon, and many others.

Still more frequently He will give His children amply enough for their daily need. He blesses their basket and their store. He gives a sufficiency, so that they can live a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty.

Yet sometimes it is otherwise. He is training His children, and He puts them in the school of affliction. He sends them thorns and briars, and sharp trials. And this often in the shape of need, or insufficient means for meeting the requirements of themselves or their families.

Ah, do not repine if this is so! There is a purpose beneath it. There is divine love, though there is the lack of food or money.

“Behind a frowning Providence
He hides a smiling face!”

A soldier in a foreign campaign does not murmur because he has to rough it, and perhaps for many a week has coarse and insufficient fare. Nor should you be surprised if this is your case. Now is the conflict; by-and-by the crown will be won, and you will be at rest in your Father’s house!

“My God shall supply all your needs.” This goes far beyond temporal blessings. It opens wide to us the treasury of divine grace–it tells me to go in and take all that my soul desires.

You may imagine a cabinet with fifty or a hundred drawers and each of these labeled with some valuable article–and you are permitted to go in and open each drawer and take out what you will. It is so in God’s house. Christ is the Treasury of all spiritual gifts and graces. In Him are found wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, peace, power, preserving grace, restoring grace, consolation in sorrow, and effectual help and support in every season of adversity. And by faith and prayer, we are to go continually, and ask and receive abundantly, according to our need.

Do not limit God’s free and rich supply of grace in Christ by the thought of your own demerits. It is not on account of any works or worthiness of yours–but for the sake of Christ’s work and Christ’s worthiness, that God is ever willing to bestow on you all needful grace.

The LORD gives grace and glory. No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly!” Psalm 84:11

“God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8

George Everard, “Follow the Leader!” 1882

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Are You Feeling Tested?

July 21st, 2016

Today’s word-of-the-week…

TESTS

We all learned to study for tests.

School was easy, really. You learned the lessons, then took the test. Good teachers explained the material well. Good students studied and prepared for the test.

The purpose of the test was to see if you learned the lesson.

If life worked like school it might go something like this:

TEST NEXT TUESDAY.

Covers: Advanced Relationship Challenges (see textbook chapters 5-7)

Study Group: Wednesday & Saturday

Life, it turns out, doesn’t work like school. You’re never completely prepared for the real tests.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. (James 1:2-3)

Did you catch that? The testing produces perseverance.

In Life, The Tests Teach The Lessons

You can study all you want, but following Jesus is a learn-by-doing deal. We’re invited to walk a path on which we can’t know the right steps. We’ll make mistakes, and we’re supposed to learn from them.

So as followers of Jesus we turn the school paradigm on its head. We take the test and do our best. Then, in humility, we ask the Spirit to help us learn the lesson.

Everyone takes the tests of life. They aren’t announced, and they show up whether we’re prepared or not. The choice is whether or not to learn their lessons.

The tragedy isn’t struggling with tests or making mistakes. We all do that. The tragedy is failing to acknowledge mistakes, failing to approach God with humility, failing to learn the lessons.

Let’s take the tests, make the mistakes, and ask God to help us learn the lessons.

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Copyright by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:
Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance
. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

If We Directed Our Own Lives

July 15th, 2016

We often think we could do better–if we were directing the affairs of our own lives.
We think we could get more happiness and greater good out of life–if things were in our hands.
We would at once eliminate all that is painful and unpleasant in our lot.
We would have only prosperities, with no adversities; only joys, with no sorrows.
We would exclude all pain and trouble from our life.
Our days would all be sunny, with blue skies–and no clouds or storms.
Our paths would all be soft and easy, and strewn with flowers–without thorns or any rough places.
Would we not be happier–if we could direct our own affairs, and leave out the painful, the bitter, the adverse, and the sorrowful?

So most of us would probably say at first, before we have thought of the question deeply and looked on to the end. But really the greatest misfortune that could come to us in this world–would be to have the direction of the affairs, and the shaping of the experiences of our lives, put into our own hands!

We have no wisdom to know what is best for ourselves. Today is not all of life–there is a long future, perhaps many years in this world, and then immortality hereafter. What would give us greatest pleasure today–might work us harm in days to come. Present gratification might cost us untold loss and hurt in the future.

We want pleasure, plenty, and prosperity–but perhaps we need pain, self-denial, and the giving up of things that we greatly prize.

We shrink from suffering, from sacrifice, from struggle–but perhaps these are the very experiences which will do the most good for us, which will best mature our Christian graces, which will fit us for the largest service to God and man.

We should always remember that the object of living in this present world, is not merely . . .
to have unlimited pleasure and comfort,
to get along with the least trouble,
to gather the most we can of the world’s treasures,
to win the brightest fame.
We are here to grow into the beauty of Christ, and to do the portion of God’s will that belongs to us!

There is something wonderfully inspiring in the thought, that God has a plan and a purpose for our lives, for each life. We do not come drifting into this world–and do not drift through it like waves on the ocean. We are sent from God, each one of us with a divine plan for his life–something God wants us to do, some place He wants us to fill. All through our lives, we are in the hands of God, who chooses our place and orders our circumstances, and makes all things work together for our good–and His glory.

It is the highest honor that could be conferred upon us, to occupy such a place in the thought of God. We cannot doubt that His way for us is better than ours–since He is infinitely wiser than we are, and loves us so. It may be painful and hard–but in the pain and the hardness, there is blessing.

Of course we may not know all the reasons there are in the divine mind, for the pains and sufferings that come into our lives, or what God’s design for us in these trials is. Yet without discovering any reasons at all, however, we may still trust God, who loves us with an infinite loveand whose wisdom also is infinite!

When we get to heaven, we shall know that God has made no mistake in anything He has done for us, however He may have broken into our plans–and spoiled our pleasant dreams!

It should be reason for measureless gratitude, that our lives are not in our own poor foolish hands–but in the hands of our infinitely wise and loving Father!

“My times are in Your hands!” Psalm 31:15

(J.R. Miller, “The Lesson of Love” 1903)

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Is Uncertainty Getting to You?

July 11th, 2016

I’m absolutely sure about today’s word-of-the-week…

UNCERTAINTY

We need to embrace uncertainty.

We want our answers in neat little packages. Most of the time, truth can’t be reduced to a 10-word slogan. Real solutions can’t be captured in 30-second sound bites.

As followers of Jesus, of course we believe in certain absolute truths. We should state those clearly, but we also know there’s a great deal of mystery. God asks us to dream and wonder. Rather than living in a predictable box, He challenges us to think and explore and consider big ideas.

Big ideas involve nuance. They invite questions, investigation, and discussion aimed at learning and growth. Authentic learning is long-term and often painful, but the alternative is hiding from truth behind safe, comfortable platitudes. Fear invites us to grab the simplistic answer, but tough questions rarely come with sound-bite answers that actually work.

Jesus had a lot of time on Earth. He could have dictated a list of clear answers to all of the important questions. Might have been easier, for sure.

Instead, He lived a life of relationships, sacrifice, and love. Then He said, “Follow Me.”

Following Jesus means listening, wondering, seeking. Once we believe we’ve discovered easy answers, or begin following leaders who offer them, we’ve likely wandered off the path.

We’d like our future to be predictable. It isn’t.

We’d like to change someone else. We can’t.

We’d like to know why. We don’t.

We’d like God to validate our notion of justice. He won’t.

God’s in control. THAT’S the assurance upon which we rely.

It’s Monday. Perhaps this is a good day to stop trying to manage a steering wheel we never controlled anyway.

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Copyright by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:
Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance
. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

“The good old days?”

July 8th, 2016

Can you imagine Jesus pointing us back to “the good old days”?

I can’t. The idea of striving for a return to an imaginary past in which everything was somehow better doesn’t fit at all with following Jesus as I understand Him.

Jesus is about moving forward, about taking risks. He’s about an unfolding story of justice that can’t be written in an imagined, idealized past.

I can only picture following Jesus on a road leading into a future filled with hope. I can’t imagine turning back in fear.

Prospective leaders prey on our desire for the imaginary safety of the good old days, when everybody got along and kids always behaved. Of course, everybody didn’t get along and kids didn’t always behave. Also might be good to remember that, depending on which good old days we’re recalling, some of our parents or grandparents experienced Great Depression and Jim Crow.

In an uncertain world, it’s tempting to believe the lie that the promise lies in a return to the good old days. Jesus invites us to the path of hope

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Copyright by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:
Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance
. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

“Not My Job”

July 6th, 2016

hugIt’s not my job to manage or control another person.

It’s my place to listen, patiently, and try to understand.

It’s not my job to tell another person what to do.

It’s my place to hear his dilemma and help him clarify the options.

It’s not my job to be certain what I’d do if I were in her shoes.

It’s my place to understand I can never know what it means to be in her shoes.

It’s not my job to provide the simplistic answer that makes me more comfortable.

It’s my place to be okay with the discomfort of hard questions that don’t have easy answers.

It’s not my job to always fill the space with words.

It’s my place, sometimes, to just let silence be okay, because that’s how authentic relationships work.

It’s not my job to judge.

It’s my place to offer grace.

It’s not my job to demand sacrifice.

It’s my place to demonstrate agape; unconditional, sacrificial love.

It’s not my job to shout my truth.

It’s my place to live my truth.

When you hang around people who are struggling, you wonder about these sorts of issues. It’s important to know what’s not your job.

Jesus spent a lot of His time with hurting people. Do you think He meant for us to follow His example?

I do.

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Copyright by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:
Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance
. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

What Is Your Gift?

July 1st, 2016

“I don’t have anything to offer,” Beth told the group of women at a social gathering in my home.

I couldn’t believe what she said. She was an excellent cook and baker. She could turn ground chicken into a gourmet meal. I said nothing but waited to see what the other women would say.

“I don’t either,” Jennifer said. “I never went to college.”

She blushed and looked at the floor as she said that.

As if a college degree determined what one could offer. Jesus and his apostles changed the world without one.

Holly chimed in and said, “I’m too young. No one will listen to me.”

Look at what Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:12: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”

Angie said, “At least you’re young and can look forward to making a contribution to society.” She paused, scanned the group, and said, “I’m too old. It’s too late for me.”

At age 66, Kay Coles James serves on the NASA Advisory Council and is the founder and president of the Gloucester Institute, a leadership-training center for young African Americans. At age 72, Joyce Meyer speaks, writes, and travels. In her early 80s, Kay Arthur does too.

Can you identify with Beth, Jennifer, Holly, or Angie? Have you said something similar? Perhaps you’ve given a different excuse. I call it an excuse because of what the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 7:7: “Each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.”

Add to the list 1 Peter 4:10: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

If those two verses aren’t enough, look at Romans 11:29: “For God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.”

Get going. Use the gift you have.

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Not a member of CIR yet? Join us Today!Copyright by Yvonne Ortega, LPC, LSATP, CCDVC
All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.
Yvonne is a Speaker, Author, Counselor, Cancer Survivor and
serves on the Board of Directors of Christians in Recovery.
She is the author of
“Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward”
Download her One Sheet at http://www.yvonneortega.com.
If you would like to have her speak for your organization or church, please contact her through
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Are Assumptions Being Made?

June 27th, 2016

ASSUMPTIONS

The assumptions people make about you, your story, and your experiences disclose a great deal.

They disclose a great deal about the person making the assumptions, and you may wish to pay attention to what that person is telling you about himself.

But those assumptions disclose nothing about you.

We spend far too much time and energy trying to meet or refute assumptions made by others. Wasted time, wasted energy.

Your identity, my identity, they’re based on what God sees through Jesus. A person worthy of love, worthy of a second chance.

A person worthy of Jesus and His sacrifice.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

That’s the assumption God made about you, and me.

It’s Monday. Might be a good day to stop listening to the assumptions made by others and start listening to those made by God.

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Dixon
Copyright by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance
. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

Why We Need To STOP

June 23rd, 2016

stopI’ve been thinking a lot about STOP.

That’s odd for me. I want to focus on moving forward, dreaming big dreams, taking risks. And lately, for some reason I don’t understand, I seem to hear STOP.

I don’t think it’s about the big things. So I’ve wondered about STOP as it relates to the ordinary, everyday stuff. I think I might have noticed something interesting.

STOP is nearly always useful advice when I’m uncertain.

Are you lost? STOP. Don’t keep wandering, compounding the problem. Get your bearings. Ask for help. (Hint: Works for more than driving.)

Not sure about that next sentence? STOP. Let it breathe. You won’t have to try to take back words you don’t say.

Someone pressuring you? STOP. Take a step back. Look at the big picture. Make a phone call if necessary.

Tempted to live in fear? STOP. Ask yourself if the message aligns with your trust in God. (Hint: If it’s about living in fear, it’s not about God.)

Was somebody nasty on the Internet? STOP. If it rises to the level of bullying or threats, report it. Otherwise, move on. Don’t give trolls your time and energy.

Someone using a bible verse out of context to “prove a point”? STOP. You know that’s a trick. You don’t have to react. Best response: “I’d like some time to research that verse.”

Wonder where God went? STOP. If you need to talk, or cry, or scream, go ahead. STOP. As often as it takes and as long as it takes.

Absolutely sure you know what’s best for someone else? STOP. You probably don’t, and even if you do you’re not going to be helpful by telling someone else how to live her life. The best you can do is listen and be a friend. It’s a lot harder than giving advice.

There’s one time I won’t stop, at least on purpose.

Whatever I’m doing, moving or not, I want to always follow Jesus.

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Copyright by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:
Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance
. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com