Archive for August, 2009

Look Beyond Their Faults

Monday, August 31st, 2009

And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.
Luke 23:33-34 King James Version

Dottie Rambo wrote a beautiful inspiring song that never fails to encourage and comfort me. “He Looked Beyond My Fault”. These words touch my heart deeply “I do not know, just why He came to love me so. He looked beyond my fault and saw my need.” Those of us who claim to be Christians need to look beyond the faults of our families and friends and see their needs. We need to forgive them. Isn’t that what Jesus did for us when He said “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”?

Our precious Saviour looked beyond our faults and saw that we needed help and someone to love us. He forgave us even while He was hanging on that cross of horror and torture with the blood flowing down His body. He had been beaten beyond recognition. We only have a fingernail’s glimpse of the pain and suffering He endured for us. Not only was His body bruised and broken; His heart was also bruised and broken. O’ what a loving and compassionate Saviour we have, this Jesus of Nazareth!

I think that you have probably read this “Hurting people hurt people”. When people hurt us, our first impulse is to hurt them. However, if we have invited Jesus into our hearts to be our personal Saviour, we need to realize that everyone is watching us to see if we really are saved. The next time people hurt you, look beyond their faults and see their needs and forgive them. They need to know that Jesus loves them unconditionally.

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

JoanneCopyright 2009 by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.
Used by permission. http://joanne-freedominjesus.blogspot.com/
http://christians-in-recovery.org

Have You Joined God’s choir?

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness:
come before his presence with singing. Psalm 100:1-2 King James Version

Many years ago, I wanted to sing for Jesus so I joined a church choir. I went to choir rehearsal the next Wednesday night after prayer meeting was over. Ten minutes after we had started practicing the choir director told me that I couldn’t be in the choir because I couldn’t sing. The director said “If I let you sing in the choir, you will make others sing off key”. What the director said to me not only hurt me; it also made me afraid to sing with the congregation. Even today, I am reluctant to sing out loud at home and I live by myself.

I am just like everyone else. I love to hear a choir singing with beautiful voices that draw people to Jesus. I also know it’s necessary to have people singing in the choir who can carry a tune. However, it is very important that we don’t discourage someone from serving Jesus. Yes, the choir director was right to tell me that I was singing off key but had the director said to me “You may not be able to sing in the choir but I know that God has something else for you to do for Him” I don’t think I would have been so devastated.

Our Scripture verse tells us to “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord”. When I am singing, I may not be singing on key but it is not only a joyful noise to Jesus, it is also music to His heart because He knows how much I love Him. If someone has told you that you can’t sing and won’t let you join the choir, don’t be discouraged like I was. Lift up your heart to Jesus and start singing and praising Him. Even if you are singing off key, it is music to His ears and heart. Have you joined God’s choir?

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

JoanneCopyright 2009 by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.
Used by permission. http://joanne-freedominjesus.blogspot.com/
http://christians-in-recovery.org

Coasting

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009
If you’re coasting, you’re either losing momentum or else you’re headed downhill.

I suppose that’s true.

Cyclists don’t get stronger or faster by coasting. The only way to increase performance is to pedal as hard as possible, even on downhill stretches. When you coast, you don’t improve.

But I don’t think coasting is always negative. I think we’re making a mistake to always equate coasting with laziness and waste.

We can get awfully focused on productivity and efficiency, working hard, maximizing potential gains. Nothing wrong with that.

But a cyclist also realizes that it’s imprudent to pedal as hard as possible all the time. A certain amount of coasting is necessary. Perhaps sacrificing some momentum, slowing down, and taking in the scenery is an essential aspect of the journey.

Cycling teaches me a lot about life. Here are a few of the principles that I’ve learned about coasting in cycling and in life.

    * You can’t coast all the time. If you want to keep moving, you have to invest some effort.
    * If you coast at every opportunity, fitness suffers and it’s a lot harder to climb the hills.
    * Rest and recovery are required for maximum long-term performance. You need to monitor energy levels, hydrate, and maintain proper nutrition.
    * After periods of maximum effort, it’s important to rest and recover. You have to pedal uphill, so take it a little easier, coast a bit, on the downhill terrain.
    * Minimal effort yields minimal progress, and constant maximum effort depletes resources and results in burnout. The key is balance—a sustainable pace yields the best long-term results.
    * Enjoy the scenery. Coast, or even stop, to appreciate the view. It’s not all about getting somewhere as quickly as possible.

Life shouldn’t be all about going as hard as possible every minute of every day. There has to be some balance between being productive and enjoying the fruits of productivity. And you have to take time to rest, recharge the batteries, and replenish reserves of physical, emotional, and mental energy. If you constantly work at top speed, you eventually run out of resources.

Anything else? What have you learned or struggled with regarding coasting?

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Dixon
Copyright 2009 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

A Parable on Letting Go

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

Job 13:15 KJV
Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.

A young man was walking in forest early one morning, enjoying the transition from night to day. As he walked, he began to meditate on the natural beauty of the woods and how God is all powerful.

He was very happy because that night before he had been baptized. While he was on his walk, the daylight began to shine bright a cast a beautiful ray of light through the trees. Along the path there was a stream he had to cross, but was not sure if he could make it. He prayed and he heard a voice that said ‘ let go let God’. He said to himself that must be the voice of God; I am going to listen. He listened to the voice, so let go. and made it across.

Further along the way there was a small hill. When he tried to walk down the hill, his foot slipped. Fortunately, a small branch was sticking out that he managed to grab. He looked down and could see that he was about 5 feet from the ground. Overwhelmed with fear he was not sure he could land on the ground without hurting himself.

Once again, he said to himself, I am going to ask God what to do because I know God will give me the right answer. Again, he prayed, and heard the voice say ‘let go let God’; he did and landed safely on the ground. Now, he was feeling confident and trusting in the word of God and believed unconditionally that God knew what was best for him.

He walked further and slipped down another hill. This time when he looked down, he could see that he was about 200 feet from the ground. He had no doubt that God would tell him what to do and God would answer his prayer. Again, he prayed and asked God what he should do. Again, the voice said ‘let go let God’. He was not sure why God would say that to him so he asked again and the voice of God said ‘let go let God’.

When he heard God tell him to let go once more, he thought to himself no, that is not the voice of God because I am a good person, so he asked for divine intervention again. This time he shouted God I was baptized last night and now I am saved. He waited a few minutes and again the voice said ‘let go let God’. When he heard that for the third time he shouted out ‘is there anybody else up there’…

Psalm 71:1 1 In thee, o lord, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion.

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Cathey
Copyright 2009 by Jimmy Cathey, all rights reserved. Used by permission.
Jimmy Cathey is a substance abuse counselor and educator. He founded Support Systems, a substance abuse education program that helps families learn about the negative consequences of addiction and the rewards of life in recovery. He was a staff consultant to small and emerging non profit organizatons at Management Center in San Francisco, California. Email Jimmy Cathey

It Makes Us Vulnerable

Monday, August 24th, 2009

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16 King James Version

I have to be honest and tell you that I did not want to write this devotion. However, Jesus laid it on my heart to write this so I need to be obedient to Him. One of the definitions in Webster’s Dictionary for vulnerable is “capable of being physically or emotionally wounded”.

When we share what is in our hearts to someone, it makes us vulnerable. We run the risk of being judged, criticized, rejected and emotionally wounded. I don’t know about you but I am very reluctant to confess my faults to people. I think it is because I have been emotionally wounded. I shared a fault that I was struggling with and asked the person to pray for me.

Instead of that person praying for me, I was criticized. Not only was I criticized, I was also judged and rejected. It took Jesus many years to heal the hurt in my heart because of what that person said to me. When people share a fault they are struggling with, we shouldn’t criticize or judge them.

It is time that we stop judging people and start praying for them. There may come a time when we need prayer. We don’t want someone to criticize and judge us so we shouldn’t criticize and judge someone else. May God forgive us for criticizing and judging people when they desperately need us to pray for them.

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

JoanneCopyright 2009 by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.
Used by permission. http://joanne-freedominjesus.blogspot.com/
http://christians-in-recovery.org

When Will We Ever Learn

Friday, August 21st, 2009

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Philippians 4:13 King James Version

Our Scripture verse tells us that we can do all things through Christ because He strengthens us. The opposite of this is that we can’t do anything without Him. For the last two days, the pain in my left leg due to my arthritis has been almost unbearable. I have been having a lot of trouble walking. When the pain gets this bad, I know that I should put warmth on my leg because it takes the pain away, yet I didn’t do it so I suffered needlessly. I covered my leg with a blanket this morning and the warmth of the blanket eased the pain.

My leg still hurts but I am able to walk. I was trying to ignore the pain in my leg because I thought it would eventually go away. We do the same thing with the pain in our hearts. When will we ever learn? Instead of going to Jesus as soon as someone says something or does something to hurt us we go about our day as if everything was okay. Only Jesus can give us the strength to carry on when our hearts are breaking. The warmth of His love and compassion for us eases the pain in our hearts.

When we try to carry on in our own strength, the smiles that we have on our faces are just masks that hide the hurt in our hearts. When we go to Jesus and ask Him for His strength, He comforts us as He tenderly holds us close to His heart and kisses our tears away. Are you still trying to do things in your own strength? It hasn’t worked and it never will work. Allow Jesus to comfort, encourage and strengthen you. Remember, you don’t have to go through this life alone. Jesus will be with you every minute of every day.

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

JoanneCopyright 2009 by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.
Used by permission. http://joanne-freedominjesus.blogspot.com/
http://christians-in-recovery.org

Keys to Responding To Criticism

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

Never wrestle in the mud with a pig. You’ll both get dirty, and the pig likes it.

There’s a big difference between feedback and criticism.

Earlier this week I wrote about Criticism vs. Feedback. Since feedback can be useful and criticism can’t always be ignored, I thought it might be worthwhile to examine how we respond to feedback and criticism.

Criticism isn’t helpful, and generally I believe that the best response is to dismiss it. When you pay attention to something, you tend to get more of it. Since a critic’s primary motive is to find fault, blame, or complain, there’s not much reason to reward it.

I don’t acknowledge so-called “constructive criticism” because criticism, as I’m thinking about the term, is inherently destructive. However, sometimes it can’t be avoided. Bosses, colleagues, and other associates may be critical; it’s not always possible, and it’s certainly not easy, to ignore their opinions.

DEFINING TERMS

Feedback and criticism may sound similar, so it’s important to differentiate them. Even when identical words are employed, the heart beneath those words and their impact on the listener are substantially different.

Feedback is educational, intended to help me grow by offering an outside view of my behavior. Criticism focuses on fault finding and blaming. Instead of entering a process to improve it, the critic stands outside the process and throws stones.

Feedback comes from service and humility. Criticism is essentially a passive-aggressive form of bragging that aims to demean and diminish me. The critic seeks attention by casting himself as the expert.

So here are some thoughts about responding to feedback and criticism.

INTERACTION

I want feedback to be interactive, because it’s a conversation in the context of a relationship. I want to ask clarifying questions and determine specifics that help me replicate positive results and improve less desirable outcomes.

Criticism is generally one-way, so it’s sometimes best received in writing. This allows for some emotional distance and prevents an endless, on-and-on barrage.

Written criticism has another advantage—it’s easy to wad up the page and deposit it appropriately in the circular file (or hit DELETE).
INTROSPECTION

Feedback encourages self-examination, an essential aspect of living life on-purpose. Personally, I want to be accountable, so I want feedback. I want people in my circle who reinforce positive behavior, but I also want them to help me see into my blind spots and tell me when I’m getting off course. Feedback, whether congratulation or correction, may be difficult to receive, but it’s an essential part of living life on purpose.

Since I generally wish to dismiss criticism, it’s difficult to learn much from it. However, I need to be open and realize that criticism may contain some nuggets of truth. If I’m confident within my own skin, I can sift through the junk and seek areas that might require attention.

ACTION

For me, living on-purpose involves a desire to learn and grow. When I perceive an area where I’ve missed the mark, I need to acknowledge it and seek ways to improve. I may need to apologize, seek information, or ask for help.

If a critic tells me I failed, that’s not a call-to-action. If I can discern a specific area in which I can do better, I need to address it. Otherwise, there’s that round file and the DELETE key.

EMOTION

I think it’s appropriate to allow emotion in a feedback environment. Genuine joy and sorrow fit within a relationship. Of course this must be tempered by the setting, but authentic feedback involves an emotional investment from the giver, so it’s difficult to deny an emotional response from the receiver.

Criticism is designed to provoke negative emotions so it’s best, though certainly not easy, to avoid an emotional reaction. I’m reminded of another of my favorite admonitions:

Never argue with an idiot. Observers may not be able to tell the difference.

The only thing that results from arguing, crying, or becoming angry with a critic is additional criticism, because the emotion gives the critic the attention he craves. Scripture advises: “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.” [2 Tim 2:23]

Those are some of my thoughts. What’s your take?

How do you respond to feedback and criticism? What would you like to do better?

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Dixon
Copyright 2009 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

He Does Care

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Matthew 9:35-36 King James Version

Frank Graeff, a Methodist pastor, wrote two hundred hymn texts but this is one of my favorite songs “Does Jesus Care”. These words have been an inspiration, an encouragement and a comfort to my heart for many years. “Oh yes, He cares, I know He cares; His heart is touched with my grief; When the days are weary, the long nights dreary, I know my Savior cares.”

We read in the precious Word of God that we are to cast all of our cares upon Jesus. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5: 7). All too often, we try to carry our burdens alone and then we wonder why we get discouraged and depressed. We don’t have the strength or the power to fight satan by ourselves.

Jesus defeated satan when He died on the cross for our sins. Yes, the war was won on the cross but you and I will still have battles until we go home. However, our Saviour will always bring us through every one of our battles victoriously if we will only get out of the way and let Him fight our battles for us.

I know from personal experience that He does care. He has held me in His compassionate arms many times as He rocked me and tenderly kissed my tears away. He weeps when we are hurting and He rejoices with us when we are happy. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that Jesus doesn’t care. He does care!

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

JoanneCopyright 2009 by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.
Used by permission. http://joanne-freedominjesus.blogspot.com/
http://christians-in-recovery.org

Don’t Stop !

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

If you’re new to THE CRAZY QUEST, you may wish to read about it here. Basically, I’m tracing my journey as I attempt to answer the question:

What would you do if you didn’t know you couldn’t do it?

DON’tSTOP

Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever. ~Lance Armstrong

I’m not all that persistent when I’m cycling.

As long as the momentum is there and I’m cranking along, it’s easy to keep going. But as soon as I start to struggle, I immediately want to stop and rest. I’ve cycled more than twelve thousand miles, and I still want to stop when it gets difficult.

I battle this tendency even on easy terrain. I lose focus and slow down, and then it’s just too easy to coast to a stop instead of working to regain my tempo and speed.

I think this happens to me in many areas of life. When things are going well, it’s easy to keep a positive attitude and continue moving forward. But one small obstacle can destroy the momentum and leave me sitting motionless.

Things I still need to learn, in cycling and in life:

    * Less energy is needed to keep moving than to start from a complete stop.
    * Moving a little slower is better than stopping.
    * When it’s hard to keep cranking, that’s when you get stronger.
    * It helps to build up momentum before you reach a hill.
    * Once you quit, it’s easier to quit the next time.
    * Once you keep going through a tough spot, it’s easier to keep going through the next tough spot.
    * Focus on the next few feet, over and over, and pretty soon you realize that you’ve covered a lot of ground.

I may not be the best. I may not ride fast or win or reach all of my goals.

I still don’t want to quit.

When are you most tempted to quit?

If you’re going through Hell, keep going. Winston Churchill

He Will Take Care of You

Monday, August 17th, 2009

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God;
in him will I trust.
Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler,
and from the noisome pestilence.
He shall cover thee with his feathers,
and under his wings shalt thou trust:
his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Psalm 91:1-4 King James Version

Hymnist Civilla D. Martin who was the wife of a Baptist minister wrote a beautiful song. It is one of my favorite songs. It has touched my heart and given me comfort many times through the years “God Will Take Care Of You”. These heartfelt words that she wrote describe the faithfulness of God “No matter what may be the test, God will take care of you; Lean, weary one, upon His breast, God will take care of you”. What an assurance it is to our weary hearts to know that He will take care of us.

I thank God for this precious minister’s wife who penned these inspiring words. Even though she died March 9, 1948, the words that she wrote are still giving hope and comfort to countless people. She was confined to a sick bed while her husband was working at a Bible School in Lestershire, New York. How thankful I am that even though she was confined to her bed and in pain, she shared her heart through these comforting words.

If you are tired and weary, allow God to take care of you as you lean upon His breast. No matter what the test is that you are facing, He will take care of you if you will only trust Him. Thank You, Heavenly Father, for caring about us and for taking care of us. We love You and we appreciate You. Thank You for Your faithfulness to us. Please help us to be faithful to You and bring joy and happiness to Your heart. Amen.

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

JoanneCopyright 2009 by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.
Used by permission. http://joanne-freedominjesus.blogspot.com/
http://christians-in-recovery.org