To Avoid Sin–Avoid Temptation

September 20th, 2014

“If ravens are driven away from carrion, they love to abide within scent of it.
 If you would be free from sin–then avoid the temptations which lead to it!”

This first sentence is a grim parable, but all too true. We have seen those who dared not enter the devil’s house–linger long around his doors! The old woman in the fable could find no wine in the jar–yet loved to smell at it. It is a clear proof of the love of human nature to evil that, when restrained from actual sin–men will rehearse their former exploits, and dote on the lusts which they indulged years ago! If they cannot have a fresh dish from Satan’s kitchen, they will have his crumbs, sooner than go without!

Our author gives sage advice at the outset, when he says: To avoid sin–avoid temptation.

He who does not want to be wounded, should keep out of battle.

He who does not want to be tossed about, should not go to sea.

He who does not want to be burned, should keep away from the fire.

If men get into the train which runs to the terminus of iniquity–they must expect to be carried to their journey’s end.

If I stand in the way of sinners, I shall soon run with them.

Oh to possess a godly fear, which shall lead me rather to go ten miles out of the way, than pass by the place of temptation!

It is well to keep out of the smell of sin, for the very odor of it is baneful.

If we seek a temptation–we shall soon find it. And within it, like a kernel in a nut, we shall meet with sin!

Oh that we had the wit to see this, and were more firmly resolved not to stand in the broad road that leads to destruction, or even go near it–lest we should become regular travelers upon it! “Keep to a path far from the adulteress, do not go near the door of her house!” Proverbs 5:8

Lord, give me prudence. As I would not devour the carrion of sin, give me grace that the most distant scent of it shall at once sicken me, and cause me to keep my steps as far from it as possible!

“Blessed is the man who does not . . .
walk in the counsel of the wicked,
or stand in the way of sinners,
or sit in the seat of mockers.” Psalm 1:1

(Charles Spurgeon, “Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden” 1883, adapted)

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What Are You Hooked On?

September 17th, 2014

“Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” John 15:14 KJV

I listened last night as a woman, who was crying with tears running down her face, told her boyfriend that she could no longer go out with him because he refused to get help for his addiction to drugs. I found these definitions for the word “hooked” in Webster’s Dictionary, “a: addicted to narcotics b: fascinated by or devoted to something (hooked on skiing)”.

God spoke to my heart tonight and said that we need to be hooked on Jesus. Are we hooked on Jesus and are we His friends? If so, how much time do we spend with Him every day? Are we doing what He tells us to do? Are we addicted to our precious Saviour?

There are many things besides narcotics in this word that we become addicted to such as the television set, porno movies and pictures, sports and we can even get hooked on people. It is very dangerous to take our eyes off of Jesus and put them on a person. If we are focusing all of our time and attention on people rather than on Jesus, we are breaking His heart.

When I was a teenager living in Illinois, there was a lady who would not leave her mother’s side. Her mother wasn’t ill. She just wanted to be with her mother all the time because she loved her so much. They lived together, ate together, went to the grocery store together. In fact, they did everything together and went everywhere together. One day, the mother had a heart attack and within ten hours she died. The daughter was overwhelmed with grief and had a nervous breakdown. She had devoted her entire life to her mother and had never taken time for Jesus.

O that we would get hooked on Jesus! I wonder what would happen if every person who claims to be saved and a child of God would spend eight hours a day talking to Jesus. We don’t have to be on our knees with our eyes shut to fellowship with Him. If we aren’t bowing in our hearts before our precious Saviour, then bowing our knees to Him is just a show that we are putting on for others to see.

Jesus is not impressed with our physical position. What touches the heart of our dear Saviour is the condition of our hearts. If our hearts are not right before Him, then He won’t even hear our prayers. It is very arrogant of us to ask Him for anything if we have something in our hearts that hurts Him.

I believe if we would spend more time with Jesus we would see a revival that the world has never known. I think there would be a lot less arguing in our homes and in our places of employment. Our children would be more respectful to us and obedient if they saw the difference Jesus made in our hearts by spending eight hours a day with Him. We might think that it is impossible to spend that much time with Him. If we can spend eight hours a day watching television, we can spend eight hours a day with Him.

Are you hooked on Jesus or are you hooked on the world and all the temptations that are put before you? A person once told me “If it’s important to you then you will make the time to do it”. It all comes down to how much you love Him. If you love Him, then you can make time for Him. How much do you love Jesus? You can say that you love Him. You can fool your family and friends and you can even fool yourself but Jesus sees into your heart and He knows how much you love Him. Again, how much do you love Him? Are you willing to shut off the television and spend time with Him?

Copyright by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved
The author may be contacted via her website: http://www.heavenwardbound.com

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What If Prayer Doesn’t Work?

September 15th, 2014

vending“It doesn’t seem like my prayers work.”

Now there’s a conversation starter. You just have to inquire—what do you mean, they don’t “work”?

“Well, it seems like none of the stuff I pray about ever happens. Ever. It’s like God’s not listening. Or if He is, He’s not answering.”

I felt like the smart kid in the front row. I KNEW the right answer to this one—I had the perfect platitude to put a quick end to this discussion.

Well, you know, sometimes God says YES, sometimes NO, sometimes WAIT, but He always answers.

Fortunately, I managed to stifle the smart kid for a moment. “So you told me that you talk to your mom every Sunday night, right?”

He looked a little confused by the sudden left turn. “Yeah, we talk for at least an hour.”

“Why?”

“Why? Well, I miss her. Haven’t seen her since I came here, so we just talk. I tell her what I’m doing, how things are going, stuff like that.”

“And that helps?

“Yeah, it helps a lot. I always feel better after I talk to her.”

“Do you ask her for stuff?”

He obviously thought it was a strange question. “Not really. We just talk.”

“And how do you think it would go if you spent the whole time asking for stuff?”

He smiled. He saw where this was going. “That would be pretty weird.”

“Yeah, I’ll bet your mom would get tired of being treated like a vending machine.”

“So you think that’s what I’m doing when I pray?”

“I think Jesus wants us to get to know Him, just like your mom. He’s a person. And He wants you to talk to Him the way you talk to your mom.

“Maybe prayer’s more of a conversation and less of a shopping list.”

“But aren’t we supposed to tell Him our needs?”

“My opinion? Of course! He wants to hear everything that’s going on. But I get a little nervous about the notion of ‘praying harder’ as if the intensity of your prayer might change God’s mind. It’s like there’s a right way or a wrong way to pray, and if you do it right you’ll get what you want.

“Be careful thinking you can manipulate God with your faith or whatever. And be careful thinking you understand how God’s working or how he answered a prayer. Because He always responds, but sometimes it’s long-term or in ways you have trouble seeing.”

This is a smart guy, and you could see the wheels turning. After some silence he said, “So Jesus is a person, not a vending machine. And the point of prayer is conversation, not results.

And prayer is like talking to my mom?”

Not bad.

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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 ww.relentlessgrace.com

Jesus Didn’t Die to Make Us Feel Better

September 12th, 2014

“Why did Jesus die?”

It’s a great question, one for which every follower ought to have a response. I was tempted to offer my version of the “right” answer, but that’s not really how you generate dialogue.

So we talked for a few minutes, and then one guy said, “Why don’t we list some reasons He didn’t die?”

I thought that sounded really interesting, so I asked him for an example.

“Well, Jesus didn’t die to make me feel better.”

The room got really quiet. “Talk some more about that.”

“Well, a lot of what happens with religion seems to be about making people feel good. We say comfortable stuff and water everything down because we’re more concerned with people’s feelings than with telling the truth.

“But a lot of what Jesus said made people uncomfortable. We need to get over the idea that He came to make us feel good.”

By the time we finished a wide-ranging discussion of why He didn’t die (to make me rich or to keep me safe, for example), the man who asked the original question provided his own answer.

This teaching thing isn’t so tough, huh?

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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 ive Hope Another Chance. Visit his website www.relentlessgrace.co

Have the Troubles of Your Heart Multiplied?

September 10th, 2014

Psalm 25:17: “The troubles of my heart have multiplied; free me from my anguish.”

A woman confided that she struggles with grief since the loss of her husband. Another one asked me how to manage as a single parent without a spouse after a divorce.

As I listened to both women, I heard the same plea. “The troubles of [their] heart have multiplied.” Both of them wanted God “to free [them] from [their] anguish.”

Why do so many troubles or heartaches exist in the world? We live in an imperfect world with imperfect bodies and emotions that can get us in trouble unless we submit them to God. Furthermore, the devil comes “only to steal and to kill and to destroy” (John 10:10).

How can God “free [us] from [our] anguish? As I sit in silence and read the Word of God, the Holy Spirit teaches and consoles me. He shows me I can’t change the past.

I listen to praise and worship music, God assures me of his love. He also gives me the wisdom, discernment, knowledge, and understanding I need for the day and my troubles.

When I ask God for advice, he uses people to “free me from my anguish.” Through the pastor’s sermons and through books, conferences, CDs, mentors, and friends, God speaks to me.

I’ve learned I can stay stuck in my anguish, or I can choose to move forward. What about you?

Dear God, free me from my anguish. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to move from broken to beautiful?

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Yvonne is a Speaker, Author, Counselor, Cancer Suvivor and
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She is the auhor of Finding Hope forYour Journey through Breast Cancer.
If you would like to have her speak for yur organization or church, please contact her through
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When You See A Bully In Action

September 8th, 2014

Last week I asked a tough question.

How we can oppose injustice while demonstrating unconditional grace andforgiveness? I even posed a specific situation and asked what you would do if you observed this event:

Suppose a guy in a wheelchair visited a public spot that, by its nature, was minimally accessible. And imagine that the guy and his companions were subjected to continual rude, insensitive comments from other patrons or staff members who objected to the perceived inconvenience caused by the presence of a wheelchair.

Here’s My Take

As the guy in the wheelchair, I’d roll away if possible. That’s not an endorsement of bullying behavior, it’s a personal choice to say I’m okay with who I am and I don’t want to risk escalating the situation.

As an observer, I’d intervene. Every time (I hope).

I might go to the person in the wheelchair (and his companions) and reassure them that the bullies are wrong. I might help them diffuse or get away from the situation.

I might locate a supervisor and seek help in dealing with the bullies.

I might talk directly to the bullies and ask them to stop their behavior. Ideally I’d have a discussion, bring them together with the person in the wheelchair, and facilitate understanding.

I might, as a last resort, call law enforcement.

I’d choose based on the apparent level of potential conflict and the perceived opportunity for discussion and reconciliation.

I would do my best not to be divisive or to shame anyone—including the bullies.

This is a difficult situation, but “difficult” isn’t an excuse for inaction. I hope I wouldn’t turn away from someone being bullied. I hope you wouldn’t, either.

A child who’s been bullied or abused becomes easy prey for a sex trafficker. Nobody else cares, so when a pimp says nice things and offers protection, she believes his lies.

An adult who’s been bullied or abused loses self-esteem. Why not give in to the perceived comfort of alcohol, drugs, pornography, or other addictive behaviors when no one believes in you?

We’re called to respond—always—with love and grace. But we’re also called to stand up for the oppressed.

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?” (Isaiah 58:6)

“Love and grace” must never be an excuse for failing to confront injustice courageously with wisdom and discernment.

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

The Value of Simply Stopping

September 4th, 2014

A slight misunderstanding leads to today’s word-of-the-week…

STOPPING

She walked her bike slowly along the bike trail.

Broken chain? Flat tire? When I see someone with bike trouble I always stop. I usually can’t actually do anything, but occasionally I’m able to offer a little advice or make a phone call. When it’s a female, alone in an isolated spot, I can offer to hang out until help arrives.

“Everything okay?” That’s when I noticed the tears. I thought it was kind of silly to cry over bike problems, but I guess it’s no worse than getting angry or cussing, which I’ve heard some people do.

“Yeah,” she sobbed, “I’m just going through a bad breakup.” Uh-oh. I’m guessing whatever broke wasn’t bike parts.

She jumped into a non-stop summary of her last two weeks, trying to start grad school while her longtime boyfriend left and returned and left again, how she secretly knew this was the right thing but it was still really hard.

After about five minutes she finally paused. “It was really nice of you to stop. I decided to take a ride this morning to clear my mind, but I just lost my energy. I’ve probably been walking and crying for two or three miles, and you’re the first person who even noticed.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell her I only stopped because I thought her bike was broken. Besides, I’m not sure she would have allowed me to insert a word into our “conversation.”

“You know,” she continued, “I just need to get back on my bike. And I need to do the same thing in my life.” She smiled weakly.

“Thanks for stopping.” She climbed on her bike and pedaled away.

“Glad I could help,” I said to her back. Even though I didn’t do anything, I chuckled to myself.

We underestimate the value of simply stopping, don’t we?

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

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

Do You Think You Don’t Have Enough?

September 1st, 2014

The more abundance of truly valuable things a man has–the more he has of true riches.

A child counts himself rich when he has a great many marbles, and toys, and rocks–for these suit his childish age and imagination.

Just so, a worldly man counts himself rich when he has a great store of gold and silver, or lands and houses.

But a child of God counts himself rich when he has . . .
God for his Portion,
Christ his his Redeemer, and
the Spirit for his Guide, Sanctifier, and Comforter.
This is as much above a carnal man’s estate in the world, as a carnal man’s estate is above a child’s toys and trifles–yes, infinitely more!

It is above all things desirable, that we adopt a correct scale to estimate things. When we make our personal audit, we shall fall into grievous error if the principles of our reckoning are not thoroughly accurate. If we reckon buttons as silver, and brass as gold–we shall dream that we are rich, when we are in poverty!

In taking stock of our own condition, let us be sure only to reckon that for riches, which is really riches to us. Wealth to the worldling is not wealth to the Christian. His currency is different, his valuables are of another sort.

Am I today poorer in money than I was ten years ago. And at the same time, am I more humble, more patient, more earnest, more loving? Then set me down as a rich man!

Have my worldly goods largely increased during the last few years? And at the same time, am I also more proud, more carnal-minded, more lukewarm, more petulant? Then I must write myself down as a poorer man, whatever others may think of my estate.

A Christian’s riches are within him!
External belongings are by no means a sure gain to a man.

A horse is none the better off for all its gilded trappings. Just so, a man is in truth, none the richer for his sumptuous surroundings.

Paul was richer than King Croesus, when he was able to say, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want!” Philippians 4:11-12

Such contentment surpasses riches! Solomon, after summing up all his possessions and delights, was compelled to add, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity!”

If a man should labor to be rich after the fashion of the poor African natives, and should accumulate a large store of shells and beads–yet when he came home to England he would be a beggar, even though he had a shipload of such rubbish!

Just so, he who gives his heart and soul to the accumulation of gold coins–is a beggar when he comes into the spiritual realm, where such coins are reckoned as mere forms of earth, non-current in Heaven, and of less value than the least of spiritual blessings!

O, my Lord, let me not merely talk thus, and pretend to despise earthly treasure–when all the while I am hunting after it! Grant me grace to live above these perishable things, never setting my heart upon them; nor caring whether I have them, or have them not. But give me grace to exercise all my energy in pleasing You, and in gaining those things which You hold in esteem. Give me, I beseech You, the riches of Your grace–that I may at last attain to the riches of Your glory!

~ Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden” 1883

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What Would You Do?

August 31st, 2014

What_Would_You_Do_logoQUESTION: How much grace?

ANSWER: Grace is boundless and unmerited.

QUESTION: Who do you forgive?

ANSWER: Everyone.

Yeah, I know it’s not that simple—except, it really is. Not easy, for sure, but those are the principles to which we’re called.

So now I have a real-world question for you to ponder.

How do we act out those principles in the face of injustice?

Injustice doesn’t have to be human trafficking or murder. Let’s boil it down to something we all encounter. How do we act out grace and forgiveness when we encounter someone being bullied?

When I was a kid, the standard advice was Punch a bully in the nose. Now we hear Stand Your Ground.

What Would You Do?

The following situation isn’t truly hypothetical. It’s a sanitized compilation of some actual situations I’ve faced.

Suppose a guy in a wheelchair visited a public spot that, by its nature, was minimally accessible. And imagine that the guy and his companions were subjected to continual rude, insensitive comments from other patrons or staff members who objected to the perceived inconvenience caused by the presence of a wheelchair.

As a companion, What Would You Do?

As an observer, What Would You Do?

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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

When Is The Right Time?

August 29th, 2014

John 7:8: “You go to the Feast. I [Jesus] am not yet going up to this Feast, because for me the right time has not yet come.”

I don’t like to wait. Can you relate to that? When I set my heart on a goal, I want it to happen as soon as possible. What about you?

Recently I heard about a conference for speakers that had an early bird price of $197 with a 20% discount for members. The price would go up each month and would reach a total of $777 at the door. When I first heard about the conference, I wanted to register right away.

Every time I went to the website to register, I sensed God tell me to wait. Perhaps the right time had not yet come. I waited and waited. The last day of the $197 price came. Again I went to the website to register. Again I sensed God was telling me to wait.

Later that day, I received an email from a friend. She told me about an opportunity that was made for me. I sensed God’s peace and approval. God showed me why he wanted me to wait for the right time. His plan was better.

Do you have your heart set on something you want? Do you sense God telling you to wait?

Dear God, you know my goals and dreams. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to wait for the right time?

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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 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