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

Want to try an experiment?

June 20th, 2016

Today’s word-of-the-week…

SPACE

Gratitude occupies a lot of space.

Gratitude crowds out most other emotions. When you focus on the things for which you’re thankful, it’s difficult to find space for things like anger, hate, competitiveness, or greed.

Want to try an experiment? Next time you’re feeling resentful or bitter, don’t try to “shut off” the negative emotions with willpower. Instead, turn your attention to a gratitude list. I’ll bet you’ll find that thankfulness expands until there’s not much space for the negative emotions.

This isn’t some magical, new age trick. When we express gratitude we’re aligning with God’s will. We’re doing life the way it was designed.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Our hearts were shaped for thankfulness. I think that’s why they conform so naturally to it.

So many opportunities right now to be angry, to be fearful. So many opportunities to hate, to divide. And maybe it’s just me, but willpower alone isn’t enough to keep those enemy emotions at bay.

I’m grateful for so much. I’m especially grateful for the space occupied by gratitude.

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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 Holy Spirit isn’t a bureaucrat

June 14th, 2016

A dramatic conversion brings us today’s word-of-the-week…

BUREAUCRAT

The Holy Spirit isn’t a bureaucrat.

That may be the strangest statement you’ve ever read, but think for a moment about how we expect God to operate. How often have we heard It’s not fair? Even when we know better, don’t we think some folks–mass murderers, terrorists, child molesters–are just plain worse sinners than others?

Don’t we make rules? This is how you get baptized. This is how you become a member. These are the qualifications to be a preacher. You need to do ___ before you can do ___.

That’s bureaucracy. Not saying it’s bad, just calling it what it is. And saying the Holy Spirit sometimes steps outside our lines.

Saul was a terrorist, a mass murderer, the worst of the worst when it came to persecuting the early church. We would expect God to strike down this terrible enemy.

Instead, He chooses this Saul, this terrorist, to become His chosen Apostle to the gentiles. Saul becomes Paul, plants churches all over the known world, and writes nearly half of the New Testament.

It makes no sense, if you’re a bureaucrat. The Holy Spirit isn’t a bureaucrat.

The Holy Spirit sees each heart as an individual, special person formed in God’s image. He sees each of us for what we can become, not for what we’ve been or what we’ve done.

Bureaucrats categorize people based on external factors. Next time I’m tempted to do that I hope I’ll remember that God’s Kingdom isn’t a bureaucracy. God makes plans that don’t make sense.

God’s Spirit calls each of us to something special based on potential, not past. Might be a good week to listen and start moving.

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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

His Compassions are New Every Morning

June 8th, 2016

It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed,
because His [tender] compassions fail not.  Lamentations 3:24 AMP

Each Christian may find in his own case, some peculiar token of God’s providential kindness to him. It is in the details of each man’s personal history that we find the most touching manifestations of God’s providential care. None of us can refuse to acknowledge that we have been the objects of a watchfulness which has never slumbered, and of a benevolence which has never been weary in doing us good.

Were we to attempt an enumeration of all the . . .
blessings which we have received at God’s hand,
deliverances which He has wrought out for us,
snares from which He has preserved us,
manifestations of His long-suffering patience, and tender mercy, of which we ourselves have been the objects–were we to begin with the years of infancy and helplessness, and to trace our progress through the slippery paths of youth, until we reached our present state–we would soon find how impossible it is to reckon up the sum of our innumerable obligations to “the loving-kindness of the Lord.”

For not only has God spared us in life, and upheld us from day to day, by His almighty power; not only has He given us our daily bread, and made our cup to run over–and that, too, notwithstanding all the ingratitude which we have displayed, and the manifold provocations which we have offered; but, in peculiar seasons, in seasons of difficulty and trial–He has often delivered . . .
our eyes from tears,
and our feet from falling,
and our souls from death!

And as often as we have cried to the Lord in our trouble, He has delivered us from our distresses–or supported and comforted us under them. So that each of His redeemed people, on a review of God’s dealings with Him, will be forced to exclaim:
“The Lord has been my Shepherd!”
“I have not lacked any good thing!”
“Hitherto has the Lord helped me!”
“The Lord has done all things well!”
“Surely goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my life!”

~ James Buchanan, “Comfort in Affliction” 1837

Jesus isn’t a weapon

June 6th, 2016

Today’s word-of-the-week:   WEAPON

Jesus isn’t a weapon.

He didn’t show up to give you and me the trump card in an argument. He didn’t give His life so I could make someone feel guilty for what I perceive as a lack of generosity. He didn’t offer His stories, or His life, as weapons to be deployed in a cultural war of words.

In case you haven’t noticed, the tactic of hitting people over the head with Jesus doesn’t work. It doesn’t work because only the Holy Spirit change a heart.

Violence, physical or emotional, in the name of peace is irrational.

I can be as sarcastic as anyone, and I’ll admit to having a bit of fun with some of the late-night comedy and the Facebook memes. I want to say it’s just a joke, but perhaps I’m really trying to look a bit superior. Maybe I’m only assigning myself to a slightly better class of sinner than those people.

I seem to recall something about getting the 2×4 out of my own eye before I correct another’s vision.

Jesus doesn’t want another culture war of words. He doesn’t want any war at all. Remember that “Prince of Peace” thing?

So I ask His forgiveness, and yours as well, if I’ve used Him as a weapon.

It’s Monday. Might be a good day to get on with the work in front of us.

Who Is This Guy?

June 3rd, 2016

I take inspiration where I find it.

One of my all-time favorite movies is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Mega-famous actors, cowboys, chase scenes, romance, drama, great music, even an iconic bicycle encounter with an angry bull…what’s not to love about a film in which Butch concludes another caper with the line, “Boy, I got vision, and the rest of the world wears bifocals.”

Sadly, these likable heroes are also bank robbers who eventually become targets of a dedicated, relentless posse. Despite their best efforts, Butch and Sundance simply can’t shake them. At what turns out to be a turning point in the story, Butch exclaims, “Who ARE those guys?”

Jesus’ disciples said something similar during a violent storm. Their boat was about to sink. They looked around and saw Jesus, head on a pillow, sleeping peacefully.

They woke Him and shouted, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

The bible says Jesus rebuked the storm and everything immediately calmed down. I imagine Him standing, stretching, and looking around at their frightened faces, wondering if they would ever get it.

“Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

And just like Butch Cassidy, the disciples asked, “Who is this guy?” (They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” Mark 4:41)

Jesus is pretty hard on His friends. In other translations He asks, “Why are you such cowards?”

What’s He saying…to them, and to us?

I think it’s important to take Jesus’ two questions together. He’s telling them they don’t need to be controlled by their fear because He’s with them.

And, to reinforce the point, He demonstrates His power. Even the mighty storm can’t withstand Jesus’ words.

Who Is This Guy?

I don’t think it’s a question for an old film or an ancient bible story.

I think it’s a question we must ask every day.

Is He asleep? Doesn’t He care?

Doesn’t He see the injustice, the abused children? Doesn’t He care about the violent storms that threaten to overwhelm us?

I believe He’s awake. I believe He cares deeply, just as He cared that day on the lake. I believe He wants us, you and me, to trust, to do our best not to live in fear.

And I don’t know how to do that, not really. Except He promised He’d walk with us, you and me, and help if we ask.

I think the best we can do is try to understand a little more each day Who Is This Guy who calms the storm and holds me in the hollow of His hand.

That, and follow Him.

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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

How Do You Know If You Suffer from PTSD?

June 1st, 2016

“What’s wrong with me?”  Thirty-eight-year-old Charlotte asked me.

“What makes you ask that?”

She whispered, “When I was a child, my dad beat me almost daily for any little thing.” Her eyes moistened, and she reached for tissue from her purse.

Charlotte said she didn’t live at home, and that situation occurred years ago.

“How do you feel now?”

“I have nightmares of my dad screaming at me and beating me with a belt. I wake up in a cold sweat.”

Can you identify with Charlotte in having nightmares?

I asked her how long she had been having those nightmares. She said for the last six or seven months.

“The term for those nightmares is ‘recurrent distressing dreams.’ What other symptoms do you have?”

Through tears she said, “Sometimes I feel as if I’m back home. I can hear my dad scream at me, and I feel every blow of his belt on my body.”

“I’m so sorry that’s happening to you. That must be scary. Those feelings are ‘flashbacks.’”

Do you have flashbacks?

“Under no circumstances will I go back to my parents’ home. I avoid my dad and places where he might go. I won’t call the house.”

I recognized Charlotte’s “persistent avoidance or efforts to avoid external reminders of” her dad.

Do you persistently avoid or try to avoid external reminders of a traumatic event?

“What about any negative changes in thought and feelings related to the trauma?

With a sigh, Charlotte said, “Men make mean parents. Having a man in the house is dangerous.”

She screamed, “I’m angry about what happened. I’m afraid if I visit my parents, my dad will beat me again. I have trouble concentrating and falling asleep or staying asleep.”

As she wiped her tears, Charlotte said she had felt that way longer than a month.

I said she did have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and advised her to find a therapist who specialized in PTSD.

If you are experiencing similar symptoms, I encourage you to do the same.

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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
“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
her website: http://YvonneOrtega.com

Our wisest plans and best endeavors…

May 27th, 2016

We are disciples–Jesus is our Master. The world we live in is His school, and every person and event is under His management, designed to forward us in the great lessons which He would have us to learn–such as . . .
self-denial,
a distrust of creatures, and
an absolute dependence upon Himself.

In this view,
afflictions–are mercies,
losses–are gains,
hindrances–are helps, and
all things, even those which seem most contrary–are working together for our good.

Creatures smile upon us–or frown upon us; caress us–or disappoint us;
friends grow cool–and enemies become kind–
just as His wisdom sees most expedient to promote our spiritual progress.

Where we look for most blessing–it often comes to little;
where we look for nothing–we often obtain most benefit.

Our wisest plans and best endeavors at one time produce great troubles!
At another time, what we do at random, and what we account the most trifling incidents–are productive of happy, lasting, and extensive consequences.

It is well for us if, by a long train of such changing, checkered experiences–we at length attain to some proficiency, and can say with David, “My soul, wait only upon God; for my expectation is from Him.”

The heart possession of two maxims of Matthew Henry, is well worth all that the acquisition can cost us:
1. Every creature is to us–only what God makes it.
2. We cannot expect too little from man–nor too much from God.

In this school I am placed–and these lessons I am aiming to learn. But I am a poor scholar and indeed any master but He who condescends to be my teacher–would turn me out as an incorrigible dunce!

Yet I sincerely wish to be willing to be what, and where, and how the Lord would have me be–to cast all my cares simply upon Him, and to be always satisfied in my mind that He assuredly cares for me!

(Letters of John Newton)

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Do You Make Things Complicated?

May 23rd, 2016

Recent experience has me re-visiting a previous word-of-the week…

SIMPLE

What Jesus asked of us is simple.

I need to remember that today. Maybe you do too.

He asked us to love with no strings. Sacrificially. Love God. Love others. Love ourselves.

That’s it.

Of course, it’s not easy. Or safe. Or cheap.

But when we make it complicated, when we act like you can’t be involved without some sort of advanced training, we need to stop.

Following Jesus might be the hardest thing in the world, but it’s simple.

Love. God. Others. Self.

It’s Monday! Maybe it’s a good week to give yourself a break. Don’t make it so complicated.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Not a member of CIR yet? Join us Today!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