Whom Shall We Trust?

May 21st, 2015

whom shall we trust,
who holds the times,
whom shall we fear,
whom shall we follow,
who, on the morrow,
will still hold us dear?

who deigns to dine
with paupers, with pests,
bequeathing all guests
with living refreshed?

who listens, bends,
aching to cleanse,
even to bleed,
who plants the seed
salvation attends?

in silence, in grief,
what glorious thief
accesses our souls,
in darkness remolds
for mourning release?

~ * ~
Copyright by Roadrunner.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.
See more works at Roadrunner’s web site
Furtherreaches.com

Putting too much emphasis on getting it right?

May 14th, 2015

“Mistakes are a great opportunity to ask for help.”

An athlete said a coach once told him to stop regretting his mistakes. Instead, the coach advised him to find someone who could help him learn from every mistake.

We’ve all heard about learning from our failures, but this takes it a step farther.

First, it transforms darkness into light. We don’t fear the darkness of errors because we welcome the light and freedom of opportunity.

Second, we expand our circle as we seek those who know more. Each time we fail we ask, “Who knows about this?”

What’s really interesting is that the only true failure is not-asking, because then a small-stakes error gets repeated and multiplied until it happens in a high-stakes context.

Seems like this is a pretty good model for helping someone start following Jesus. Maybe we put too much emphasis on getting it right.

Maybe a better model would be to help people like me figure out what to do when we get it wrong.

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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

Can’t Get a Grip?

May 9th, 2015

Sometimes my life feels like I’m constantly trying to gain traction-on ice. The harder “you” try the more you are spinning your wheels and getting off course. Traction enables you to get a grip, establish a toehold, and set your footing.

Maybe Joseph can shed some light for us? “Deeply moved on seeing his brother and about to burst into tears, Joseph hurried out into another room and had a good cry. Then he washed his face, got a grip on himself, and said, “Let’s eat.” (Genesis 43: 30-31, Msg) Joseph didn’t cave to what had to be very strong emotions. He obviously had let go of the past. Got it? Let go of the past-plain and simple! “Let’s eat.” Sounds like one who has traction in the moment and able to move on to what’s next in Jesus!

Hezekiah put his whole trust in the God of Israel. There was no king quite like him, either before or after. He held fast to God — never loosened his grip — and obeyed to the letter everything God had commanded Moses. And God, for his part, held fast to him through all his adventures. (2 Kings 18:5-6, Msg)

King Hezekiah was probably one of the most unsung heroes of the Old Testament. He also got it. Hold fast to God and you find out God’s been holding fast to you, even when you thought your life was; well-spinning out of control.

One day when the angels came to report to God, Satan also showed up. God singled out Satan, saying, “And what have you been up to?” Satan answered God, “Oh, going here and there, checking things out.” Then God said to Satan, “Have you noticed my friend Job? There’s no one quite like him, is there — honest and true to his word, totally devoted to God and hating evil? He still has a firm grip on his integrity! You tried to trick me into destroying him, but it didn’t work.” (Job 2:1-3, Msg)

He still has a firm grip on his integrity! Do you and I? Veracity, honor, honesty: would others use these words to describe your impression upon them? They will when we have a firm grip, kind of a ‘toehold’ on our integrity.

Dear friend, take my advice; it will add years to your life. I’m writing out clear directions to Wisdom Way, I’m drawing a map to Righteous Road. I don’t want you ending up in blind alleys, or wasting time making wrong turns. Hold tight to good advice; don’t relax your grip. Guard it well — your life is at stake! Don’t take Wicked Bypass; don’t so much as set foot on that road. Stay clear of it; give it a wide berth. Make a detour and be on your way. (Proverbs 4: 10-15, Msg)

When you go out looking for your old adversaries you won’t find them —  Not a trace of your old enemies, not even a memory. That’s right. Because I, your God, have a firm grip on you and I’m not letting go. I’m telling you, ‘Don’t panic. I’m right here to help you.’ (Isaiah 41:12-13, Msg)

And here’s the footing and toehold of traction. [It’s a Good Thing to Hope for Help from God ] I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed. I remember it all — oh, how well I remember —  the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope. (Lamentations 3:19-21, (Msg)

[He Gets the Last Word] Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ — eternal and glorious plans they are! — will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does. (1 Peter  5:8-11, Msg)

Getting’ a grip while being gripped!

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.

When Mother’s Day Isn’t a Happy One

May 7th, 2015

Do you cringe when you see TV commercials that remind the viewers to buy their mother flowers, chocolates, or jewelry for Mother’s Day?

Do you avoid a church service on Mother’s Day because you don’t want to hear people say, “Happy Mother’s Day” to dozens of women or watch as the pastor asks the mothers to stand?

I understand. Six years ago, I lost my mother before Mother’s Day. Like you, I won’t be able to contact her.

The same year I lost my mother, my only child passed away three days after Mother’s Day. Like many of you, I won’t receive a Mother’s Day gift, a phone call, or a visit from my child.

Perhaps you have a mother addicted to alcohol or other drugs. Because of her substance use, she has failed to be the mother you needed. You may not know where she is.

Perhaps you never had a child.

Three years ago on Mother’s Day, I went outside to enjoy the sunshine. A woman rushed out of the neighbor’s home, got into her car and drove away.

The adult daughter later told me they had an argument and her mother left before they sat for dinner. The daughter had cleaned house and prepared a gourmet meal for her mother to no avail.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 and 4: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”

Dear God, please help me get through Mother’s Day. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to weep and mourn your losses?

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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

Won’t You Listen?

May 1st, 2015

Won’t you listen my friend to the words that we share.
Won’t you open your heart to a power that cares.

For within each of our souls is the spirit of living,
Within each of our hearts is a gift of giving.

Won’t you be free my friend to open your mind,
to know God is with us One day at a time.

Copyright 1997, by Neil Wright San Francisco, CA.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Do You Feel Lost in the Fog?

April 22nd, 2015

A personal dilemma has me thinking about today’s word-of-the-week…

FOG

fogLots of ways to get lost in the fog.

Loneliness. Addiction. Depression. Grief. Fear. Pain.

Fog descends, clarity dissipates, confusion reigns. In the darkness of the fog, once-obvious choices become impossibly obscured. Decisions that ought to be simple become impossibly complex.

In the fog, our innate sense of direction disappears. We flail about for something solid to grab, and too often in our flailing we hit those closest to us. The hitting’s not intentional, but that doesn’t reduce the harm it causes. At some point “being lost in the fog” stops being an excuse, even if there’s nothing you can do about it.

The answer’s simple. When you’re lost, you need to know true north. And true north is Jesus.

But I’ve been in the fog enough to know the difference between simple and easy. I’m grateful for Jesus’ light in the darkness; I’m too frequently unable to overcome whatever it is that keeps me from following it.

If you’re lost in the fog today, know you’re not alone. I’m in here, too. So are a lot of other folks who may be afraid to admit it.

Jesus is here as well, and here’s the part that gives us hope.

He knows the way out.

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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

Learning to be Quieted in His Love

April 20th, 2015

There is nothing in our journey quite like being quieted in His love. Have you been? Is this a normal part of your walk with Jesus? All of hell is against this! Fear assaults us daily while stress, anxiety, nervous tension, constant worry and trauma work there insidious plan in our lives. We cannot quiet in His love if focused on these demons. But we must. It is a non-negotiable daily part of our joy in Him. These demons will flee as we quiet in His love!

There’s nothing to fear from evil ever again! God Is Present among You 16 Jerusalem will be told: Don’t be afraid. Dear Zion, don’t despair. 17 Your God is present among you, a strong Warrior there to save you. Happy to have you back, he’ll calm you with his love and delight you with his songs. 18 The accumulated sorrows of your exile will dissipate. I, your God, will get rid of them for you. You’ve carried those burdens long enough. 19 At the same time, I’ll get rid of all those who’ve made your life miserable. I’ll heal the maimed; I’ll bring home the homeless. In the very countries where they were hated they will be venerated. (Zephaniah 3:15b-19, Msg)

Truly, what marvelous news this is!

The Lord your God is in the midst of you, a Mighty One, a Savior {who saves}! He will rejoice over you with joy; he will rest {in silent satisfaction} and in His love he will be silent and make no mention {of past sins, or even recall them}; he will (instead) exult over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17, Amp)

If you so much as bring up your failures and sins, He will look at you with a question mark. In the silence of His love he makes no mention of them. What more could he do for us to show his unconditional love. Truly He daily quiets us with His love.

He also daily heals the infirmities in our souls; those wounded places that render us weakened and hopeless. His love shores up those parts of our lives were we have languished in silence.

14 We have a great high priest. He has gone up into the heavens. He is Jesus the Son of God. So let us hold firmly to what we say we believe. 15 We have a high priest who can feel it when we are weak and hurting. We have a high priest who has been tempted in every way, just as we are. But he did not sin. 16 So let us boldly approach the throne of grace. Then we will receive mercy. We will find grace to help us when we need it. (Hebrews 4:14-16, NIRV)

The words to this great hymn shed more light as to what He has already done and will always do for you and me!

Could we with ink the ocean fill?
And were the skies of parchment made?
Was every stalk on earth a quill?
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry?
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Tho stretched from sky to sky.

Your fellowship with God enables you to gain a victory over the Evil One.

15 Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. 16 Practically everything that goes on in the world – wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important – has nothing to do with the Father. It (focus on the world system) just isolates you from him. (1 John 2:15-17 MSG)

Truly He daily quiets us with His love. Dive heart first this day into His quieting love!

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.
CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog here
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Are You Afflicted? Grieved?

April 16th, 2015

“I am the man who has seen affliction!” Lamentations 3:1


Like the rest of Adam’s discontented family, I am often . . .
grumbling at my griefs,
complaining of my afflictions, and
on the brink of quarreling at the conduct of Providence itself!

To be without afflictions is impossible here below, where man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward. Not to feel when afflicted, is a stoical, impious stupidity. But to sink under troubles of any kind, is beneath the character of the Christian. Yet, when I reflect on that eternity of bliss which is before me, on that world of glory of which I am an heir–I wonder that my afflictions are not more.

Is it too much for me to stumble among the ‘rough stones of adversity’–to have my flesh pricked with the ‘thorns of trouble’–who shall so soon walk the golden streets of Heaven, and wear a crown of immortal glory?

Though the whole earth should rise up against me–if Heaven, and the God of Heaven are for me–I am in perfect safety in the midst of all the storms and tempests, whirlwinds and hurricanes which can blow!

“Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that . . .
neither death nor life,
nor angels nor rulers,
nor things present,
nor things to come,
nor powers,
nor height,
nor depth,
nor any other created thing,
can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!” Romans 8:35-39

~ James Meikle, “Converse with the Unseen World”

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What does “Blessed” Really Mean?

April 13th, 2015

The word “blessed” in the Bible is a translation of a Greek word meaning “very happy.” Our Lord, in the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-12), tells us what true and great happiness means.

Although He spells it out plainly, people still have problems and will then insist that they are not blessed if they mourn, are persecuted, if they hunger and thirst after righteousness, or have like trials.

Our problem is simply this: we believe that we are blessed or very happy only if we get what we want, and what we want is to be indulged, to have things made easier for us. This, obviously, is not our Lord’s view of blessedness. In fact, what we call happiness can be a curse at times. Thus, the Psalmist in Psalm 106:15, in describing the condemnation of the older generation in the wilderness journey, declares of God, “And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.”

We need to assess our idea of happiness. Is it humanistic? Does it simply involve getting what we want, with little or no thought of God? But we are God’s property, and we cannot live as though His total claim upon us were nonexistent. Our God is Lord, the absolute owner of all things, and all things must serve and obey Him. For us to seek happiness, or blessedness, apart from the Lord and His purposes is to deny Him and to claim a nonexistent independence from God. To deny God is finally to deny life and happiness and to choose death (Prov. 8:36).

Moreover, happiness on our Lord’s terms is more than simply problems and battles; it is also victories, as the Beatitudes make clear: theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven; the meek shall inherit the earth; they shall be filled and comforted, and so on.

Are you seeking happiness on your terms, or the Lord’s?

Taken from Volume 6 of the series

A Word in Season: Daily Messages on the Faith for All of Life.

~ * ~
Reprinted by permission of the Chalcedon Foundation.
Copyright by the Chalcedon Foundation. All rights reserved.

Freedom From vs. Freedom To

April 10th, 2015

chainIt is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)

There are two kinds of freedom.

Freedom from allows life without oppression, injustice, tyranny, abuse, or violence. Freedom from insures my right to live my life as I wish as long as it doesn’t interfere with the rights of others.

Freedom to is about opportunity to serve, to use my gifts, to make a difference in the world.

I think Galatians 5:1 refers to freedom to.

Freedom from, it seems, places the focus on me and my rights. Freedom from is worldly freedom.

Freedom to is about what’s right. It’s about sacrifice and service.

Interesting to note that Jesus willingly sacrificed freedom from. He invites us to join Him on the journey of freedom to for which He died.

But let’s never forget that God values worldly justice for the oppressed, the poor, and the marginalized.

Learn to do right; seek justice.    
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow. (Isaiah 1:17)

Seems to me that justice happens when those who understand freedom to deploy it, regardless of consequences, to ensure everyone’s access to freedom from.

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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