Archive for October, 2009

Go therefore and make disciples…

Friday, October 30th, 2009

“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
Go therefore and make disciples…” (Matthew 28:18-19).

Go therefore and make disciples….

What a privilege and responsibility is implied in these few words, some of the last spoken by the resurrected Jesus before His ascension. We know them as “The Great Commission,” where Jesus sent out His followers (both the ones living on earth at that time and all of us to come) to preach the gospel to every nation, tribe, and tongue on the planet, and to train and teach new converts to become disciplined followers of Christ. But today I want to focus on the second word in that statement: therefore.

Many of us have heard the admonition that when we come across the word therefore in the Scriptures, we should go back and see what it’s “there for.” This instance is certainly no exception. When Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples,” He was instructing His listeners to go because He (Jesus) had been given “all authority…in heaven and on earth.” That pretty well sums it up, doesn’t it? What other authority is there? None! He was given it ALL by His Father in heaven, and He was explaining to His disciples that they too could call on that same authority as they went forth to fulfill the Great Commission.

That’s a powerful thought, isn’t it? We aren’t preaching the gospel or discipling people on our own authority (and if we’re trying to do so, it’s not going to work); we are commissioned to do it in the very same authority that was given to the resurrected Savior. The fact that He was already resurrected makes His power over death a given within that authority.

And that’s the key, beloved. How often have we as believers, when called to some area or aspect of fulfilling the Great Commission, felt completely inadequate to do so? Good! That’s exactly as it should be. You and I have no power, no authority, no talents or gifts or abilities to fulfill that calling. But when we understand that the word therefore was placed in that sentence to remind us that we are to go forth in the same authority that rested upon Jesus—that same authority that includes triumph over death—the feelings of inadequacy melt away and we step out in faith and joy.

May it be so in whatever God has called you to today, dear friends. He does not expect you to attempt to answer that call in your own strength—in fact, He doesn’t want you to! He expects you only to humbly submit to His call and His power and His authority…and then rejoice in His victory as you behold His mighty hand at work in and through you.

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

Rock Us in Your Arms of Love

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 King James Version

Heavenly Father, we come to You this morning with weary and battle scarred hearts. We ask You to please pick us up and hold us close to Your compassionate heart. Please rock us in Your arms of love. Some of us have loved ones who have died. We know that they are with You and that You are taking care of them but we still miss them. Thank You for comforting us and encouraging us when we feel like we can’t take another step or give another smile. Amen.

I don’t know what is going on in your life but God knows. He sees the tears that you shed when you think nobody else can see them. He feels the heartache that you feel because your loved one has died. He understands how it hurts to lose a loved one. His own Son died on a cross of horror and excruciating pain as He gave His life’s blood for you and for me. Climb up on the lap of God and let Him hold you close to His heart of compassion and rock you.

After God has rocked us and comforted us, we are to comfort others. There are so many people who are hurting. As Joyce Landorf Heatherley, a Christian speaker and author said on one of her teaching tapes about the people we sit next to in church “They look fine and they look darling, but inside they are hurting.” We won’t have to look very far to find someone who needs comfort and encouragement. Are you comforting your family? They need comfort and love just like you do.

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

Love Without Strings

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

It 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]

How much do we limit ourselves with a misguided sense of obligation?

Yesterday I wrote about Service Without Strings and a call to love without expecting anything in return. As humans, we tend to put conditions and limits on our love. Even when we really try to remove the strings, I suspect a few always remain. The best we can do is be aware, do our best to remove them, and seek forgiveness when we fail.

AGAPE

I wonder whether I act as though God’s love comes with strings attached.

God doesn’t operate under human constraints. He doesn’t love us because He needs us or wants something from us or because He seeks to control us. I don’t have to earn it, and I couldn’t even if I tried. His love just is; that’s His essence and His nature. God’s love comes with no strings attached.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. [1 John 4:16]

God is love as a noun—He’s perfect, unconditional agape in its purest sense. I wonder if we really get that?

Too frequently, following Jesus carries a stigma of forced compliance, a laundry list of perceived requirements and obligations. But that’s all human legalism. Jesus didn’t call us from one sort of slavery into another. His teaching sets us free by guiding us toward the path for which we were designed.

God’s love is free. It’s a gift of grace. Period. Like any true gift, it’s mine to enjoy. All I need to do is open my hands and accept it. And if I choose to reject the gift, that doesn’t diminish it or make it disappear. It’s still there, waiting for me to unwrap it. But I can’t enjoy the gift and its benefits until I accept it.

GRATITUDE

When someone gives me a gift, I say “Thank you.” I don’t do that because it’s an obligation, I do it because I’m thankful. Expressing gratitude isn’t a requirement, it’s a privilege.

I don’t worship and serve to earn God’s love or because He demands or expects it. I don’t do them to retain God’s approval, to make sure He’s in my corner when I need Him. I do those things from a sense of gratitude.

The sense of guilt and regret that we carry around is not God’s desire. He sent Jesus to free us from all of that. He doesn’t want us to follow Jesus out of some warped compulsion, as though we need to obey the rules to avoid punishment. He doesn’t want reluctant compliance, as though following Him is a required and unwanted burden.

FREEDOM

Jesus had the power of the universe at His fingertips. He was completely free to choose, but He selected the difficult path of obedience. I don’t think He felt compelled or obligated. He chose sacrificial love—no strings attached.

God doesn’t need me to follow His rules, and He certainly doesn’t need me to feel guilty when I fail. We make it too complicated, imposing our own maze of formulas and theologies onto His simple framework.

I believe that God smiles when I follow Jesus because Jesus walked the path to true freedom. That’s what He wants for me, and that’s what He wants for you.

Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.

I’m content to leave it at that.

We will strive to demonstrate God’s love—with no strings attached.

Are you ever tempted to attach strings to God’s love?

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

Self-Inflicted Pain

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

One of the basic causes for all the trouble in the world today is that people talk too much and think too little. They act impulsively without thinking. I always try to think before I talk. Margaret Chase Smith

Do you ever do dumb stuff?

I’m a self-taught expert in SPEAKING WITHOUT THINKING. Related skills include REACTING IMPULSIVELY, ARGUING NEEDLESSLY, and HITTING “SEND” TOO QUICKLY. Is this sounding familiar to anyone?

I don’t require any special circumstances to apply these gifts. I just bumble along, doing whatever I’m doing, and—WHAM! I run smack into a conflict I didn’t intend or anticipate.

THE TRAP

This one began innocently enough. I read an interesting article on a blog I’ve been following for a while. The writing prompted an idea to further the conversation, so I added a comment. Simple enough, right? A few minutes later the author responded. His comment surprised me. I thought he was looking at the topic a bit narrowly, and I saw the opportunity for a bit of debate. I quickly formulated a clever, penetrating response.

That’s usually my first clue that I’m heading into trouble, though I rarely heed the warning signs. I enjoy “discussing” (arguing about) ideas, but I tend to get too involved and take the exchange too personally. That’s bad enough, but I also forget that others don’t approach discussions on the same level of intensity.

So, deploying all of the carefully crafted skills listed above, I fired back my witty reply. Do you see where this is headed?

I didn’t intend offense, but I also didn’t consider the impact of my words. Next thing I know the author’s telling me I’m “antagonistic” and refusing to post further discussion. And at least one other commenter agreed that my contribution wasn’t appropriate or helpful to the discussion.

I was, as the kids say, BUSTED!

LESSONS LEARNED (AGAIN)

Words matter. I could have communicated my thoughts more effectively, and kindly, without diluting my meaning. Especially in the online world, intent isn’t sufficient. We have to consider how our words will be received.

Being right isn’t the most important thing. I believe I had a good idea, but it wasn’t all that important in the grand scheme of things. Some hills may be worth dying for, but this wasn’t one of them. Life contains enough conflict on its own. I’d rather lose a debate than a friend.

Relationships matter. In a virtual world it’s easy to forget that you’re communicating with real people that have their own feelings and priorities. It’s awfully easy to type words you’d never say personally into the perceived anonymity of cyberspace.

People aren’t disposable. In both “real” and virtual interactions, it’s not okay to just toss folks carelessly aside. In the final analysis, I sincerely believe that life is about relationships, and they should be nurtured with care.

It’s not about me. Simple enough.

Trust is hard to earn, easy to lose, and nearly impossible to regain once it’s lost. I don’t want to over-dramatize. No verbal or actual punches were exchanged. The author and I subsequently exchanged emails, and I think we’re good. But this isn’t how I want to represent myself.

The entire interaction wasn’t nearly as significant to him as it was to me. I was a minor annoyance, like a mosquito he brushed aside so he could focus on important stuff. I had little impact on his day while I destroyed my own with fussing and fuming.

What I’d do differently

Build relationship first. This guy hardly knows me. We’ve communicated a couple of times, but he contacts hundreds of folks each week. I feel like I know him, but I haven’t invested the time to connect with him. I’m certain he would have reacted differently if my comments had come from a trusted friend.

Serve. You create trust and relationship through service. I jumped onto this guy’s platform and demanded the virtual microphone, and he rightly wondered why he should comply. That’s just not how it works.

You show commitment by serving, not because you expect reciprocation but because it’s the right path. Sometimes you have to actively seek ways to help someone else, and your service may pass un-noticed. But the noticing isn’t the point. I believe that, in the big picture, service is what makes it all work even when we can’t see exactly how.

Drip, drip, drip. Relationships take time. “I want it all, and I want it now” may be good song lyrics, but it’s not the way to connect. People want to know you’re committed for the long term. You fill the bucket of relationship one drop at a time.

IT AIN’T EASY

I write and talk a lot about relationships. That’s not because I’m good at them, it’s because I believe they’re the essence of a substantial life and I still have a lot to learn. Richard Bach once said, “You teach best what you most need to learn.” If that’s true, I qualify for a tenured professorship.

We make it up as we go because, honestly, it’s the only way to make it up. Thankfully, there’s forgiveness, grace, and new beginnings. That’s God’s way, and I’m glad because it’s our only source of hope.

Sincere forgiveness isn’t colored with expectations that the other person apologize or change. Don’t worry whether or not they finally understand you. Love them and release them. Life feeds back truth to people in its own way and time—just like it does for you and me. ~Sara Paddison

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

On Call

Monday, October 26th, 2009

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1 King James Version

Doctors are on call all the time unless they have arranged with someone to cover for them. Pastors are on call all the time also. There are times when pastors ask someone to go visit for them or handle a crisis. There is someone else who is on call twenty four hours a day every day and it is our Heavenly Father.

He is our haven of refuge and our strength. He is also a very present help in trouble. We can call on Him any time day or night and He is there to protect us. How comforting it is to know that God is our refuge and strength and that we don’t have to face the trials of this life by ourselves. No matter what time of the day or night we call Him, He is available to us. He is on call all of the time.

There is a question that every Christian should ask themselves “Am I available and on call twenty four hours a day if God asks me to do something for Him?” If we can’t answer that question with a yes, we need to ask God to forgive us. Are you available and on call any time of the day or night if God asks you to do something for Him? After all that He has done for us, shouldn’t we do everything that we can for Him?

Heavenly Father, thank You for being our refuge and strength. Thank You for being on call any time of the day or night when we need You. Please forgive us for not answering You when You call on us to do something. Help us to be available and on call for You any time of the day or night. We love You and we appreciate all that You do for us. 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

Are You Troubled?

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

“The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.” Psalm 9:9-10 King James Version

When the problems of this life overwhelm us, we have a refuge we can run to for shelter and His name is Jesus. One of the definitions that I found in Webster’s Dictionary for refuge is “shelter or protection from danger or distress”. Not only is Jesus our Saviour; He is also our shelter from danger and distress and from satan. He will protect us if we will only trust Him. Our precious Saviour loves us very much and He wants to protect us.

However, there are times when we go to Him and try to tell Him how to fix the problems in our lives. Not only is that an insult to Him, but we get in His way so He can’t fix the problems. It is time for us to stop trying to solve the problems in our lives and trust Jesus to solve them for us. He is more than able to bring us out of the dark valleys in this life and set us once again on the mountain tops of peace and happiness.

Have you been trying to tell Jesus how to solve the problems in your life? If so, stop it! Stop trusting in your own strength and trust Jesus to fix the problems in your life. You don’t have to be troubled and in distress all the time. Jesus wants you to be happy and He is waiting for you to come to Him for refuge. Cry out for help to the One who loves you so much that He died for you.

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

Heaven And Drawing Lines

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. [Matthew 5:3]

Do you think you know who’s going to heaven?

A few days ago I ran across a blog post titled Ten People Who Won’t Be In Heaven. It’s a catchy title—at least it got my attention on Twitter. I won’t link to it because, frankly, I can’t find it again. But trust me, you’re not missing anything.

We don’t need another scriptural litany of sins. You know what I mean, the really awful sins that all those other people do. The sins that are so horrible that we can say for sure they’re going to keep people from God’s eternal presence.

Of course the writer omitted sins like judging, failing to forgive your neighbor, forgetting to feed the hungry—insignificant stuff like that apparently wasn’t bad enough to make the top-ten list.

Drawing lines—those are the really nasty guys, the ones we need to single out for eternal damnation. On this side of the line are the good guys, which apparently means those of us guilty of acceptable offenses.

Drawing lines—I do it, we all do it. But let’s be honest.

When we draw lines, we try in vain to identify ourselves with a better class of sinners.

I definitely believe in absolute truth and right. But I also believe that no person can stand alone in the harsh light of that truth. “There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”

But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. [Romans 3:21-24]

There is no difference. That doesn’t fit our notion of fairness, but God fortunately doesn’t see things our way.

What if we quit drawing lines? What if we dropped our silly obsession with labels and division? What if we focused on tearing down the barriers rather than fortifying them? What if we approached others with simple unconditional respect?

When Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit..,” He was describing those who recognize their own spiritual bankruptcy. The “poor in spirit” are those who understand their spiritual insufficiency and their absolute need to fall into Jesus’ mercy and grace. When you understand that, it’s difficult to draw lines.

There is no difference.

Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. Oscar Wilde

As hard as I try to avoid it, I draw lines. What are some of the lines you tend to draw?

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

Our Guide in the Dark

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble;
thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah. I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.
Psalm 32:7-8 King James Version

There are times in all of our lives when we are in the darkness of loneliness, heartaches, discouragement and anxiety. It is so dark in our hearts because of grief that we can’t see any light and we need someone to guide us through this devastating darkness. It is then that our precious Saviour shines His light brightly in our hearts and in our lives.

If we will listen with our hearts, we will hear Jesus saying to us “Don’t be afraid. I will guide you through the darkness of all the valleys of your life.” Heavenly Father, thank You for giving Jesus to us not only to be our Saviour but also to lighten the darkness in our hearts and lives and to guide us when we don’t know which way to go. Amen.

If you are at a place in your life and you don’t know which way to go, allow Jesus to guide you in the way He wants you to go. He will guide you every day of your life if you will only ask Him to lead you. You don’t have to go through this life alone. Jesus will help you go every step of the way if you will only trust Him to guide you. Thank You, Jesus, for being our guide in the dark.

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

Is He Pleased with Us?

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Mark 1:9-11 King James Version

When God looks in our hearts, is He pleased with what He sees? If He sees us going to places that we should not go to or if He hears us saying things that we should not say, He is not going to be pleased with us. If He sees us abusing our spouses, our children, our parents or anyone else, He definitely will not be pleased with us.

I don’t know about you but when God looks in my heart, I want Him to see things that please Him. I want Him to hear me telling others that Jesus loves them. Don’t ever put your eyes on me because I am not perfect. I fail Him every day. Keep your eyes on Jesus and on Him alone. Don’t put your eyes on your pastor or your Sunday school teacher or anyone else. Keep looking to Jesus!

There is always another email that I could have sent, another telephone call I could have made or another letter I could have sent by regular mail. When it finally sinks into the depths of our hearts the urgency of spending our time telling the good news of a risen Saviour and His unconditional love, then and only then will God be pleased with us. Is He pleased with you and your service to Jesus?

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

Thorns

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal. Henry Ford

Do you ever feel like you’re swimming against the tide? Ever fell like everyone else is going the other way and maybe you’re just going in the wrong direction?

This has been a tough stretch for The Crazy Quest.

First, I had to cancel my fifty- ride in Yakima. Then I had a week of backsliding when I just lost my inner motivation. Oh well—that sort of stuff happens on a long journey.

Last week I got all fired up again thanks to Chris Waddell’s amazing story. I figured if he can climb Mount Kilimanjaro on a hand cycle, I needed to quit sulking and get back to work. I began the week with a fresh sense of purpose.

Then I got four flat tires in four days. I’ve said previously that flat tires happen. It’s part of cycling, and you just deal with it. But four flats in four days?

A flat tire for me is more than a simple inconvenience. I can’t just climb off the bike and fix it or walk home. Usually a friend rescues me, but the first failure occurred nearly ten miles from home and everyone I called was busy. I had to crank home on the rim, destroying the tire and tube. Fortunately, no significant wheel damage, so I had it repaired prepared to move forward.

And then three more flats in the next three rides—all closer to home, but at some point you begin to wonder if the universe is sending you a message. Maybe I’m supposed to stay home and eat ice cream.

Of course, I know better. It’s “thorn season” around here, and every cyclist deals with it. I’ve simply managed to find a bunch of them. But it’s a good reminder to keep my eyes on the bigger picture. My crazy quest is more important than the inconvenience of a few setbacks.

So I’ll get back out there, even though those nasty thorns still conspire to puncture my dream. I hope you’ll do the same.

What’s your big goal? What pesky thorns threaten to stop you?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. [Hebrews 12:1-3]

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