Do You Suppose Jesus Was Serious?

February 25th, 2015

Peace“Peace be with you.”

Jesus said those exact words at least three times in John 20.

The other night during our small group study a random thought popped into my head: Do you suppose He really meant it?

What if He was serious? What if He really intended for us be at peace?

It’s a fair question, if only because so many of Jesus’ most visible, dedicated, vocal followers seem dedicated to anything but a peaceful life. Observers could be excused for concluding that following Jesus involves a good deal of anger, strife, and fighting with “the other side.” (Don’t believe me…take a look at what passes for political “discourse” as the election approaches.)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)

What if He cares more about the peace in my heart than what I accomplish or who I impress or how many Facebook friends I have?

What if He doesn’t care who gets elected, but He cares enough to die for the person I’m sure is going to ruin the nation? And what if He wants me to let go of the nasty, judgmental attitude that hardens my heart?

“Peace be with you.”

Do you suppose He expected us to actually live it?

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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 are the Results of Your Words?

February 23rd, 2015

As someone who has had instances of writer’s block, this scripture frequently comes to mind:

Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. Ecclesiastes 5:2

Granted, it doesn’t always feel conducive to the writing process; words are kind of important. Nevertheless, I suppose it is worth pondering.

The tongue has the power of life and death and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18: 21

I remember, as a kid, having some cutesy stationery with babies, spouting statements like “Be patient; God isn’t finished with me” and “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt.” That one really stuck with me. And, it was only years later I discovered that cutesy slogan was, in fact, scriptural.

He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding. Proverbs 17:27-28

Furthermore, there’s a little thing called consequences:

The lips of fools bring them strife,
and their mouths invite a beating.
The mouths of fools are their undoing,
and their lips are a snare to their very lives. Proverbs 18:6-7

Yeah, that’s not appealing. I don’t know about you, but being ensnared does NOT sound like a party to me.

I keep thinking about Shakespeare’s character, Hamlet going on a tear about “Words, words, words…” and we know how well THAT went. (If you don’t, please feel free to look it up).

The point is, words carry results with them, either positive or negative; they’re not neutral.

The tongue has the power of life and death and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18: 21

Do we get it right? Most of the time, probably NOT. Yet, that’s no excuse not to pay attention to the principle at all.

So, worth considering, words be few.

There’s some merit to the writer’s block condition after all.


Copyright by Sheryle Cruse.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Sheryle is the author of
Thin Enough: My Spiritual Journey Through the Living Death of an Eating Disorder.
Visit her web site: http://www.freewebs.com/daughterarise

Feel like giving up on everything… including God?

February 20th, 2015

There are times (though they are fleeting) that I feel like giving up on everything and everybody. That includes me and even God. Thankfully Heavenly Papa doesn’t take me serious. And neither does He issue me a citation for going too far out of bounds from His Watch Care, Grace and Love. David said,

If I climb to the sky, you’re there! If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon,
you’d find me in a minute – you’re already there waiting!
Psalm 139:8-9, Msg.

I like that, don’t you? He’s already waiting for us, wherever we go! As futile and insane as it is; running and hiding does not frustrate God’s loving presence. He is always the same. He is always there for us. He always has the same opinion about us-He’s crazy about us and every one of us is His favorite! His opinion of us (in Scripture and in Christ) is the foundation of faith.

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His Mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness. Lamentations 3:23

Then why in the blue blazes do we have the propensity to run, hide (by the way, when we hide, which side of the tree do we get on?) and let go? Well, why? For me, it is a combination of doubt, anger and fear. Obviously; (as far as the Scripture is concerned) we have no, zero, nada good reason for such behavior!

The Psalmist; King David, gives us a glimpse into his experience with God that may shed light and give us direction as to what will keep us from flying apart in difficult times. He said,

What times I am afraid (or angry, doubting, frustrated-put your experience here) I will trust in You.

Or,

When I get really afraid I come to you in trust.” Psalm 56:3, Msg

Consider the experience of Peter in the following passage. Remember he is the very same Peter who betrayed Jesus three times!

I Peter am an apostle on assignment by Jesus, the Messiah, writing to exiles scattered to the four winds. Not one is missing, not one forgotten. 2 God the Father has his eye on each of you, and has determined by the work of the Spirit to keep you obedient through the sacrifice of Jesus.

May everything good from God be yours! 3 What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, 4 including a future in heaven – and the future starts now! 5 God is keeping careful watch over us and the future.

The Day is coming when you’ll have it all – life healed and whole. 6 I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the

There are times (though they are fleeting) that I feel like giving up on everything and everybody. That includes me and even God. Thankfully Heavenly Papa doesn’t take me serious. And neither does He issue me a citation for going too far out of bounds from His Watch Care, Grace and Love. David said,

If I climb to the sky, you’re there! If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon,
you’d find me in a minute – you’re already there waiting!
Psalm 139:8-9, Msg.

I like that, don’t you? He’s already waiting for us, wherever we go! As futile and insane as it is; running and hiding does not frustrate God’s loving presence. He is always the same. He is always there for us. He always has the same opinion about us-He’s crazy about us and every one of us is His favorite! His opinion of us (in Scripture and in Christ) is the foundation of faith.

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His Mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness. Lamentations 3:23

Then why in the blue blazes do we have the propensity to run, hide (by the way, when we hide, which side of the tree do we get on?) and let go? Well, why? For me, it is a combination of doubt, anger and fear. Obviously; (as far as the Scripture is concerned) we have no, zero, nada good reason for such behavior!

The Psalmist; King David, gives us a glimpse into his experience with God that may shed light and give us direction as to what will keep us from flying apart in difficult times. He said,

What times I am afraid (or angry, doubting, frustrated-put your experience here) I will trust in You.

Or,

When I get really afraid I come to you in trust.” Psalm 56:3, Msg

Consider the experience of Peter in the following passage. Remember he is the very same Peter who betrayed Jesus three times!

I Peter am an apostle on assignment by Jesus, the Messiah, writing to exiles scattered to the four winds. Not one is missing, not one forgotten. 2 God the Father has his eye on each of you, and has determined by the work of the Spirit to keep you obedient through the sacrifice of Jesus.

May everything good from God be yours! 3 What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, 4 including a future in heaven – and the future starts now! 5 God is keeping careful watch over us and the future.

The Day is coming when you’ll have it all – life healed and whole. 6 I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. 7 Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine.

When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, which God will have on display as evidence of his victory. 8 You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don’t see him, yet you trust him – with laughter and singing. 9 Because you kept on believing, you’ll get what you’re looking forward to: total salvation.1 Peter 1:1-9, Msg

I mean the following in the truest way possible, and it really is this simple-Keep the faith of/in Jesus!

Faithing Jesus! I am, Ron Ross

Copyright by Ron Ross.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Rev. Ron Ross is a pastor, author, teacher, and counselor.
As founder of NET Casting Ministries, he equips the church
around the world to care for the wounded and addicted.
Ron is a cofounder of the NET Training Institute.

Are We Excluding God?

February 17th, 2015

locked doorWe’re systematically excluding God from our culture.

Excuse me?

You’ve heard the refrain. The country’s in trouble because we exclude God from the public square. Christmas loses its meaning because someone says Happy Holidays. Public schools stink because kids don’t pray.

Apparently, we need to let God back into our culture.

Every time I hear that I wonder when God got so small. I always had the idea God could show up wherever He pleased.

Personally, I think God’s in every public building, every business, every public school classroom, every temple, and probably every church. I think He loves everyone in each of those places—equally. And there nothing anyone can do to exclude Him.

As for prayer, I taught in public schools for thirty-five years and I prayed in school frequently. Students raised the issue once in a while and I assured them they were welcome to pray whenever they wished. I never quite figured out how anyone could prevent it, or why they’d care—unless it matters who sees your prayers or if you want to force someone else to pray.

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:5-6)

Jesus appeared as a Jew in the Roman Empire. God doesn’t need government permission to show up. God’s going to go where He wants, and we can’t keep Him out.

If you think Jesus left that public school, you’re wrong. He’s there, even though a lot of His privileged followers left for more comfortable surroundings.

If you want approval, or if you want everyone else to agree with or act or look like you, you’ll have to build a wall and isolate yourself with like-minded folks.

Trouble is, that’s not what Jesus did. He hung out with the riff-raff and asked us to follow Him.

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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 wicked prosper–the righteous have adversity

February 16th, 2015

“If you see oppression of the poor, and perversion of justice and righteousness throughout the land–do not marvel at the matter.” Ecclesiastes 5:8
In the midst of his soliloquizings and moralizings, King Solomon interjected an occasional counsel or exhortation: “Moreover, I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, there was wickedness; and that in the place of righteousness, wickedness was there also.” (Ecclesiastes 3:16), and he bids his readers not to be surprised or stumbled thereat.

It was a timely word, for such passages as Job 12:6 and 21:7; Psalm 73:2-12; Jeremiah 12:1 show that the Old Testament saints were deeply exercised over the prosperity of the wicked–and the adversity of the righteous. Solomon, therefore, seeks to remove this stumbling-block and prevent their taking offence at, or murmuring against, God’s divine government.

Fallen human nature being what it is, we should not think it strange that the strong oppress the weak, or that justice should be corrupted by those in high places. Man is made to reap the bitter harvest of his apostasy from God.

Yet, however perplexed we may be over the success which so often rewards the workers of iniquity, let us be assured that nothing escapes the notice of the Most High God, that He “regards” and has wise reasons for permitting the frequent miscarriage of human justice by the magistrates and rulers of earth. There is One infinitely above to whom they must yet render an account, and from whom they will receive “a just recompense of reward.” (Hebrews 2:2)

(Arthur Pink, “No Marvels” 1952)

Will You Comfort Others?

February 12th, 2015

2 Corinthians 1:3-4a: “The . . . Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble.”

My younger brother lost a dear friend and member of his band, who was like a little brother to him. One day his friend was alive and well. The next day he was gone.

Life is fragile. It is a precious gift from God. Often a tragic loss reminds us that we will all die. Sadly, some die sooner than others and without warning.

No matter what the cause of death is, family and friends need compassion and comfort. They long for someone to listen and love them. They can hardly go on without support and encouragement.

We have all suffered loss. God and others have comforted us. That is why God tells us in the rest of verse 4, “So that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

God and God’s people can comfort those who grieve and extend compassion to them.

Think of how you would feel if you lost a loved one. Think of what you would want to hear. Respond with that in mind.

Dear God, help me “comfort those in any trouble with the comfort [I] have received from [you].” Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to comfort the bereaved?

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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 Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer.
If you would like to have her speak for your organization or church, please contact her through
her website: http://YvonneOrtega.com

Do You Feel Broken?

February 7th, 2015

We may be broken but not done coloring yet

We can still draw even in our brokenness!! Sometimes the depth of color is better with broken crayons.

~Fran

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Why Does God Need Me to Worship Him?

February 2nd, 2015

A fairly common question raises today’s word-of-the-week…

NARCISSISTIC

“Why is an all-powerful God so narcissistic that He demands our worship? Why does He need us singing and bowing down to Him?

I love questions, and this is a great one. Is God a narcissist? Does He “need” our worship?

I’ve written about this before. I’m certainly no theological scholar, but from my perspective as an ordinary guy who’s trying to follow Jesus–I don’t think God needs anything, and He certainly doesn’t need anything from me. Whatever I bring to God in the form of worship may please God, but it surely doesn’t add anything to Him. He’s just fine on His own.

God commands worship because He knows what it does for me. He knows I was created to be in right relationship with Him, which means understanding He’s creator and I’m not. So worship is God’s way of helping me understand my proper place in creation.

It’s not about God’s narcissism, but His generosity. He accepts, and is pleased by, whatever worship I bring.

I don’t “have” to worship because God needs it. I want to worship because I need it.

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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 mariner’s chart as he sails the sea of life

January 31st, 2015

The Bible is a book which calls not so much for the exertion of our intellect–as it does for the exercise of our affections, conscience and will. God has given His Word to us not for our entertainment, but for our education–to make known what He requires from us. It is to be…
the traveler’s guide as he journeys through the maze of this world,
and the mariner’s chart as he sails the sea of life.

Therefore, whenever we open the Bible, the all-important consideration for each of us to keep before him is: “What is here for me today? What bearing does the passage now before me have upon my present case and circumstances–what warning, what encouragement, what information? What instruction is there…
to direct me in the management of my business,
to guide me in the ordering of my domestic and social affairs,
to promote a closer walking with God?”

I should see myself addressed in every precept–and included in every promise.

But it is greatly to be feared that, through failure to appropriate God’s Word unto our own case and circumstances–there is much Bible reading and study which is of little or no real benefit to the soul.

Nothing else will…
secure us from the pollutions of this world,
deliver from the temptations of Satan, and
be so effectual a preservative from sin–
as the Word of God received into our affections. “The law of his God is in his heart–none of his steps shall slide” (Psalm 37:31) can only be said of the one who has made personal appropriation of the Word, and is able to say with the Psalmist, “Your Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (119:11).

Just so long as the Word is….
actually working in us,
influencing us in a practical way,
loved and revered by us,
and stirs the conscience–
are we kept from falling into open sin!

And only as we personally go out and daily gather our portion of manna, and feed upon the same–will there be strength provided for the performing of duty and the bringing forth of fruit to the glory of God.

~ Arthur Pink

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What if asking for help is okay?

January 28th, 2015

No helpThanks, but I can do it all by myself.

Of course, I know better. There’s no such thing as “all by myself,” but that doesn’t stop me from fighting to maintain the illusion of independence.

I think about “help” a lot. Because of the wheelchair, others ask often how they can offer help without offending when someone seems to need a bit of assistance. My friend Jon Swanson asked yesterday, “What if asking for help is okay?

I think one of the barriers might be the nature of the word “help,” which perhaps implies something about helplessness and the powerful assisting the weak. I’m bigger, stronger, or smarter, and I’m willing to help you. If you’re the person being “helped” you are implicitly inferior. While that may be objectively true, even an unintended superior/inferior connotation perpetuates a feeling of helplessness.

On the other hand, service conveys humility. It’s more of a willingness to partner with another person, to travel beside him on his path. Perhaps it’s a sense that service offers who I am rather than what I can do.

Service involves a relationship, taking time to care for more than just an immediate need. Perhaps when offering to perform a task, the servant also stops to chat for a moment. While it takes more time, this extra step communicates a sense of equality that touches and enriches both people.

Looking through this lens, we’d do better to adopt an attitude of humility on either side of the helping equation. So when we see a perceived need, we offer to serve.

And we drop the notion of “all by myself,” humble ourselves, and allow others to serve by asking for help.

Jesus said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, the servant of all.” (Mark 9)

How have you experienced the difference between help and service?

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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