Archive for September, 2009

“Small” Things Do Count

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

None of us can do anything great on our own, but we can all do a small thing with great love. Mother Teresa

I believe Mother Teresa would agree that no act of great love is ever truly a “small thing.”

I recently had the privilege of hearing Greg Mortenson talk about the story of “Three Cups of Tea.” Greg’s story inspires and motivates. He’s living proof that one man can make a huge difference.

Greg caught a vision, and decided to raise money to build a school in a remote area of northern Pakistan. His grassroots efforts have currently established 78 schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan and brought liberty through literacy to thousands of children. He’s produced a mega best-selling book, and he speaks to military and political leaders.

I think we can all learn much about passion and courage from this tale, but I also think there’s danger in Greg’s message. To anyone who’s inspired but also overwhelmed by his story, I’d offer this sage advice: you don’t have to be a world-changer to change the world.

I fear that many people hear and admire Greg’s story, but nothing really changes for them. They’re so sure they could never do something so amazing and world-changing, so they do nothing.

There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big, setting out to accomplish a project so overwhelming (like The Crazy Quest) that people question your sanity. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Each of us can change the world right where we are right now. In Mother Teresa’s words, we do great things when we do everyday things with great love.

Greg’s legacy was shaped by teachers and parents and friends who simply did their jobs. It was spurred by kids tossing pennies in a jar to support Pennies For Peace. Like all great accomplishments, it happened because a lot of people played their part, right where they happened to be. Individually, none of them looks like a world-changer, but collectively they changed the world. That’s how it works.

The world needs passionate cooks and firefighters and soldiers and teachers who value every person. We need people who fulfill their daily responsibilities with great love.

I believe that God cares much less about what I do than with how I do it. I believe that He values consistent character above fame and accomplishment.

The people and circumstances I encounter are important. I change the world by representing Jesus and His love right here, right now.

How can you change the world today?

When your heart speaks, take good notes. Greg Mortenson

Powerful idea: Michael Peterson wrote a moving essay that captures the heart of this idea.

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

We All Ride The Same Road

Tuesday, September 29th, 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?

This week of training: 99 miles

WE ALL RIDE THE SAME ROAD

There are unexpected depths in human beings, and abilities beyond the world’s imagining. We all ride the same road, and if we ride it together, we can get where we want to go. ~Charles Kuralt

Riding a bike trail is an interesting lesson in diversity.

I’ve observed some principles that might apply to other aspects of life.

* Most of the time the other folks on the trail don’t impact your ride. If you take care of yourself, things go pretty well.
* If everyone insists on always getting their own way, problems arise. Sharing the trail means occasionally yielding or slowing down to avoid a crash.
* Sometimes you encounter a problem. When that happens, it’s nice to have other folks stop and help. Remember that when you see someone else struggling.
* Diversity is part of the attraction of the trail. If everyone rode the same bike or walked the same speed it wouldn’t be as interesting.
* Just because someone else travels differently doesn’t make them, or you, wrong. There are lots of ways to move along the trail.
* There’s no such thing as “best” or even “normal” because everyone’s got their own reason for being there. Some are working out, some are socializing, and some are just enjoying the scenery. It doesn’t make much sense to compare.
* Kids seem to have the most fun. There must be something to learn from that.
* Old or young, fast or slow, bike, rollerblade, walk, or wheelchair, we all travel the same road.

When Jesus Christ asked little children to come to him, he didn’t say only rich children, or White children, or children with two-parent families, or children who didn’t have a mental or physical handicap. He said, “Let all children come unto me. Marian Wright Edelman

What’s your observation about the diversity you encounter on the trail?

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

The Real Gift of Recovery

Monday, September 28th, 2009

Mark 8:22-26 KJV
22: And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him.
23: And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought.
24: And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking.
25: After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.
26: And he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.

Recovery is a wonderful gift that sometimes can be taken for granted. The gift is not that you are clean and sober. It is the power of being clean and sober that is the essence of the gift. The blind man in this bible verse was blessed with the gift of sight. Perhaps the power of his gift was not that his sight was restored but that he could live life in a way that would not have been possible before.

Like the blind man, it is the power of recovery that helps people to reach heights and accomplish goals that otherwise would not have been possible. In order to receive his gift, the blind man had to follow Jesus to a place he had never been before. Recovery takes people to places they have never been before. The trust in the lord brought him through this experience and Jesus gave him sight. It is the trust in a higher power and the 12 step program that will bring you through the insanity of your disease.

Jesus tells the blind man, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town. Recovery tells people neither brag about it or go back to the slippery places where you will not be safe. Recovery is not about trying to 12 step somebody as much as it is to learn that when you believe through God all things are possible, life changes..

Change in recovery will take you beyond the familiar and you must lean on the everlasting arm of the lord. The Promises say ‘we will know a new freedom and a new happiness’ and ‘we will not regret the past or wish to shut the door on it’

Trust in God and stay out of slippery places.

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

Cherish Your Relationships

Friday, September 25th, 2009

He (Jehoram) reigned in Jerusalem eight years and,
to no one’s sorrow, departed (2 Chronicles 21:20).

The sadness of this statement in 2 Chronicles jumped out at me this morning and wouldn’t let go. As I get older, I find myself saying goodbye to more and more family members, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances. It’s simply the way of things, though it wasn’t originally intended to be. But sin has a way of changing things, doesn’t it?

It certainly did with Jehoram. This king was the son and grandson of godly men, both of whom ruled from the “city of David.” Sadly, unlike his father and grandfather, Jehoram chose not to be a godly man, and he ruled accordingly, eventually dying a painful death at a relatively young age. Most tragic of all was that no one mourned his passing.

All of us mourn when a loved one leaves this world—yes, even those of us who are strong believers and lose someone who is also a strong believer. We know that person has gone to be with the Lord and is so much happier than he/she ever was on this earth. And yet…our heart hurts. We miss them, though we know we will see them again one day. Those without that knowing mourn even more, for indeed they don’t have the hope of being reunited with the one who has passed from their sight.

But can there be anything sadder than living in such a way that when you die there is no one left behind who regrets seeing you go? King Jehoram had plenty of money. He inherited a rich kingdom and wanted for nothing in the material realm. He could do or have nearly anything he wished for, and yet…

Quite obviously this rich man was a pauper when it came to relationships. Not only did he not serve God or have relationship with Him, but he also had no meaningful or close relationships with other people. What a perspective-setter this is! Are we in close relationship with God and other people? When we pass from this earth into the presence of the Father, will there be at least one person left behind who will miss us and long for the day we will be reunited in heaven?

Then, beloved, unlike Jehoram, we are rich indeed. Whatever we face on this earth in the way of pain or sickness, tragedy or loss, poverty or disaster, our lives can still be considered a success because we have cultivated that which really matters. May the sad life of Jehoram speak to your heart today about the things that truly matter, and may his pitiful epitaph inspire you to cherish your relationships at every step of your earthly journey. For all too soon it will be over, and it will be time to move on. Though we as Christians eagerly anticipate that time, wouldn’t it also be nice to know that we will be missed and that someone will be looking forward to the day when we will be united once again?

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Macias
Copyright 2009 Kathi Macias, all rights reserved. Used by permission.
Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored 26 books. Her newest books are:
“Beyond Me. Living a You-first Life in a Me-first World”


and


“Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers of Today”
(New Hope Publishers) The author can be reached at: http://www.kathimacias.com

Do You Hold Yourself Captive?

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

I recently read this:

    “Did you know that elephants are trained to stay where they are by tying a rope around one of their massive legs and attaching it to a peg in the ground?

    “Can the peg and rope really hold back an elephant? Absolutely not!

    “Then why does it work? Because elephants grow up BELIEVING it will. Maybe they tried pulling away when they were young with no success.After enough failures, they stop trying. They no longer test the restraint, and confine themselves when tethered to the rope.”

Do you hold your own self captive to old behaviors and thought patterns?

I know that I certainly have. In many ways, it is comforting to remain in a rut. Nothing challenges me. I can go on, one day after another and I am not made uncomfortable by change. But the down side is my life will never get any better….if anything it will continue to deteriorate.

Perhaps today is the day to break free from the chains you have so willingly allowed to hold you captive. Sure, it will feel strange and perhaps uncomfortable. But isn’t that worth the excitement and joy of true freedom?

  • Identify what behaviors and thought patterns are holding you captive.
  • Read up on them. Learn more about them.
  • Ask God for the strength and courage to help you change.
  • Seek spiritual guidance from your pastor or qualified Christian counselor.
  • Join a Christian recovery group for support so you can share other’s experience, faith, strength and hope.
  • If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. John 8:36

    You are not alone! You can be free!

    A Bill Of Responsibilities

    Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

    Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment. ~Benjamin Franklin

    It’s a lot easier to assert my rights than to act responsibly.

    Earlier this week I described a minor but distasteful incident. I expressed regret for my inappropriate attitude of entitlement regarding a handicapped parking space. I received some interesting feedback.

    One reader essentially told me I had no reason to apologize because people shouldn’t use those spaces if they don’t need them. Another said I really did nothing wrong because I kept my anger to myself. I appreciate the support, but I disagree.

    Philosopher Immanuel Kant said. “In law a man is guilty when he violates the rights of others. In ethics he is guilty if he only thinks of doing so.”

    Jesus proclaimed the same principle. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” [Matthew 5:27-28]

    Attitudes and motives are more significant than legalities. No law requires me to regard others respectfully. In fact, I have the right to think poorly of others and to treat them rudely.

    Athletes and coaches scream at officials. Politicians, even the President, are considered legitimate targets for derogatory outbursts. Drivers curse and offer profane gestures for perceived incompetence. Political pundits utter outrageous and inflammatory statements. These and many other verbal assaults are excused because we have the “right” to express ourselves. It’s an attitude of entitlement that begins when rights are asserted without considering corresponding responsibilities.

    Perhaps our Bill Of Rights should be accompanied by a Bill Of Responsibilities.

    Every individual deserves to be regarded and treated with dignity and respect. When I ignore that principle, which unfortunately happens far too frequently, I hope I’ll acknowledge my personal failure.

    I hope I won’t hide behind my right to do what clearly isn’t right.

    What would you list in a “Bill Of Responsibilities”?

    Right is right, even if everyone is against it; and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it. William Penn

    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

    The Ministry of Reconciliation

    Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

    Those from among you shall build the old waste places;
    you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
    and you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach,
    the Restorer of Streets to Dwell In (Isaiah 58:12).

    I love the Book of Isaiah. What a poet’s heart that prophet had! Though the book’s message is from God, as are all books of the Bible, it is Isaiah’s writing style that we see shining through. As a writer myself (with a passion for poetry!), I appreciate that.

    But as much as I love writing, that’s not my ministry. When people realize what I do, they often ask how I discovered my ministry, as they are trying to discover and identify their own. I quickly tell them that their ministry is exactly the same as mine, and that they will discover it as I did—in the Scriptures. Second Corinthians 5:18-19 lays it out for us: “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (emphasis added).

    Our ministry is not to be writers or speakers, teachers or preachers or worship leaders. We are to be “reconcilers”—“repairers” and “restorers,” as Isaiah put it. Jesus did what was necessary to effect reconciliation between God and man, but His work is done and He has now returned to the Father, leaving the completion of the ministry of reconciliation to us, the Church, those who have already accepted reconciliation to God.

    What an awesome responsibility! Though that ministry of reconciliation will read out differently in each of our lives—some of us are called to write, some to teach, some to preach, some to sing, some to greet visitors at the church door, some to visit the sick or dying or imprisoned—we all have the same ministry. And not a one of us can accomplish it in our own strength. God has designed it so that in order to fulfill our calling, we must first depend on Him, but also on one another. I can’t effectively minister reconciliation to others apart from you—and you can’t do it apart from me.

    We’re a team, folks, and God is the Team Leader. He has given us the ministry of reconciliation—calling others to restored relationship with God and with His people—and He requires that we stand shoulder to shoulder with our teammates as we follow Him, leading others to the Father’s heart.

    It is an honor to minister with you, beloved!

    Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
    Macias
    Copyright 2009 Kathi Macias, all rights reserved. Used by permission.
    Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored 26 books. Her newest books are:
    “Beyond Me. Living a You-first Life in a Me-first World”


    and


    “Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers of Today”
    (New Hope Publishers) The author can be reached at: http://www.kathimacias.com

    I Don’t See Your Hair

    Monday, September 21st, 2009

    But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7 King James Version

    The other day as I was brushing my hair, I said to myself “Joanne, this is the worse hair day you have ever had. Your hair looks terrible”. My smile started to turn into a frown when all of a sudden God spoke to my heart and said “I’m not looking at your hair. I’m looking at your heart.” God is not impressed with how we look. We don’t have to win a beauty contest. He loves us just the way we are.

    He is also not impressed with our big homes and big cars. What matters to God and what touches His heart is the condition of our hearts. What does He see when He looks into our hearts? Does He see things that make Him happy or does He see things that bring disgrace to Him and make Him sad? No, God doesn’t look at our hair or our big cars and homes. He looks in our hearts.

    I don’t know about you but I don’t want Him to see things in my heart that make Him sad. It is time that we stop worrying about how we look on the outside and concentrate on keeping our hearts right before God. If you have been worrying about your hair or the condition of your body, stop worrying and instead focus your attention on the condition of your heart. Be sure the things in your heart bring happiness to Him instead of bringing sadness.

    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

    An Embarrassing Sense Of Entitlement

    Friday, September 18th, 2009

    Congress acknowledged that society’s accumulated myths and fears about disability and disease are as handicapping as are the physical limitations that flow from actual impairment. William J. Brennan, Jr.

    I have a confession: I tend to get possessive and judgmental about disabled parking spaces.

    Becky and I visited HOTEL COLORADO for a few days of R&R. This elegant old hotel opened in 1893 and has been modernized without losing its original charm. It’s fun to wander the porches and parlors and imagine the presence of wealthy, turn-of-the-century high society, adventurous dignitaries, and western legends.

    Designers did a remarkable job of inconspicuously incorporating modern accessibility elements as they refurbished and updated. It’s a great example of how accessibility doesn’t need to compromise the character and function of a historic building. One challenge with any project like this is parking, especially accessible parking, and this is where I found some of my own attitudes challenged.

    We all know that people misuse the reserved parking spaces in a variety of ways. Enforcement mitigates inappropriate use, but these and other accommodations really depend on the goodwill and respect of the vast majority. There will always be a small minority of abusers.

    I mostly believe folks don’t understand the issues, and all disabilities are not created equal. Some people simply have difficulty walking more than a few feet, so they need to park as close as possible. In my case, I’d gladly push the extra distance from a normal space if there was room to load and unload my chair.

    This weekend I found myself becoming angry as a large group emerged from an SUV that had just taken the last empty space. Everyone walked, no one seemed to be limping or struggling in any way. They filed happily through the hotel door while I seethed and muttered some rather un-Christian remarks. I waited for nearly fifteen minutes until someone, also walking with no visible impairment, vacated a space. Both vehicles displayed permits which I was certain had been acquired through an elaborate criminal conspiracy.

    When I finally reached my room, I opened my email and read a description of Invisible Illness Week. As I looked through the information, I realized that my uncharitable grumbling revealed a terribly short-sighted bias. I was reminded that many people suffer from invisible illnesses and have needs that aren’t readily apparent.

    I’m ashamed of my ungracious attitude. Of all people, I ought to know better, and I guess this just reaffirms that we all have our unique blind spots. Most visitors wouldn’t have even noticed those parked vehicles, but I’ve apparently developed a feeling of entitlement toward those spaces marked by the little blue guy in the chair. I’m not proud of that.

    I try to focus on my ability rather than my disability. I’m grateful that I’m able to negotiate most situations pretty well, unlike those with less obvious but more disabling conditions. It’s a good reminder to avoid hasty judgments based on outward appearance.

    What’s your reaction?

    Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all—the apathy of human beings. Helen Keller

    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

    Legislating Morality

    Thursday, September 17th, 2009

    An ethical person ought to do more than he’s required to do and less than he’s allowed to do.

    You can’t mandate morality.

    Call it what you want—morality, ethics, or character can’t be codified. Laws, rules, and regulations are always lowest common denominators. Attempts to legislate moral behavior simply create a cottage industry aimed at finding loopholes or avoiding detection.

    I think that’s one of our biggest dilemmas as a society. We seem to believe that “legal” equals “ethical” and debate endlessly the government’s proper role in determining “right” behavior. But it’s simply a fact that the best laws can do is determine minimum standards, and those can never be the same as proper ethics.

    As a wheelchair user, I see this principle constantly in the public access requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). People use reserved parking spaces “legally” because they have someone else’s permit. Ramps or doors meet ADA requirements but are difficult to access because or location. Accessible seats at a ballpark are more desirable because they have a bit more legroom.

    This isn’t intended as a complaint. I appreciate the ADA both for access requirements and for the awareness it’s created. The ADA is really a legal acknowledgment of society’s collective belief that everyone should be able to contribute to, and participate in, public activities.

    But the ADA, like any law, can’t change the hearts of those who seek ways to circumvent its spirit. Morality isn’t concerned much with what I’m allowed to do, because it’s about doing what I know I ought to do. Ethics isn’t about my rights; it’s about what’s right.

    Ethical questions are difficult, because they arise in the grey areas that can’t be legislated. Some would argue that right and wrong are relative, but I disagree. Just because a concept can’t be neatly wrapped in words with no ambiguities or gaps doesn’t mean it’s nonexistent or irrelevant.

    I believe that absolute truth and right exist. I also believe that the best I can do is a closer approximation of behaviors that align with what’s right. My goals are to proclaim truth and do right as I understand them and to always seek deeper, better understanding.

    Tomorrow I’ll talk about my filter for ethical choices.

    What’s your take on ethics, morals, and laws?

    One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

    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