Archive for November, 2009

Opening a Door

Monday, November 16th, 2009

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. [Matthew 7:7-8]

Is the door opening or closing?

Several months ago I was invited to present two workshops in Houston during the first week in November. The conference offered a forum to discuss disability issues from my seated perspective. I anticipated an exciting opportunity to leverage my experiences and help others who seek to expand their work in difficult situations.

I’ve worked hard to prepare high-quality presentations. Then last week I was notified that my workshops were canceled. Nothing personal, the conference was just scaled back because of lagging registrations.

I was disappointed and frustrated. This seemed like an ideal chance to share my message with folks who might benefit, and I felt like I had some worthwhile ideas to contribute.

I also felt some selfish disillusionment. It’s difficult for an unknown author to gain traction, and this felt like a significant opportunity lost. I began to question whether I’d made a mistake by devoting so much time and energy to a new career path. Perhaps this was intended as a sign that I was headed in the wrong direction.

Then I received a call, totally out of nowhere, inviting me to Spartanburg, S.C. to tape a half-hour interview for an internationally syndicated television show called Time For Hope.

It sounded like a pretty good fit, since hope is a central theme of my message. I checked the website and read a list of previous guests that included a U.S. Senator, college presidents and professors, and well-known writers.

Wow—this show features nationally-known leaders, authors, and scholars, and they want to talk to me? Since the interview date—November 5—was less than a week away, I assume that there was a last-minute cancelation. But that’s how opportunities arise; the key is to be prepared and available.

And that’s the amazing part. I’d planned to be in Houston that weekend. If those workshops hadn’t fallen through, I might have lost this new opportunity.

One door closes—another opens.

Someday I’ll learn that this isn’t my thing. It’s not my story, my message, my book, my path. Someday I’ll remember that none of this belongs to me, that I’m just a steward.

Someday I’ll remember to hold it all in open hands and trust that God knows what He’s doing.

Someday I’ll live as though I really believe:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. [Romans 8:28]

One door closes—another opens.

That’s always the way it works. Someday I’ll stop asking, “Why?” and instead be prepared to roll through the doors God’s opening.

What doors seem closed right now? What others are opening?

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

If God is for Us, Who Can Be Against Us?

Friday, November 13th, 2009

“But God raised Him from the dead” (Acts 13:30).

I have a lot of favorite verses in the Bible, but I suppose if I had to choose only one, it would be Acts 13:30: “But God raised Him from the dead.” Wow. How powerful is that?

Think about it. What can life throw at us that can’t be overcome by that statement of eternal truth?

I just lost my job. BUT GOD RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD.

My loved one has cancer. BUT GOD RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD.

I can’t pay my rent. BUT GOD RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD.

My grandchild is on drugs. BUT GOD RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD.

My spouse wants a divorce. BUT GOD RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD.

My child is missing. BUT GOD RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD.

Again, think about it. If God raised Jesus from the dead (and we know He did!), then can ANYTHING be too hard for Him? Is there any situation past His ability to redeem it, any heartache past His healing, any need past His meeting?

No. With God ALL things are possible, and we know that’s true because God has already raised Jesus from the dead. That is the pivotal event in history, and everything else revolves around it.

Resurrection faith is what we must cling to, beloved, if we are to survive the tough times ahead. And believe me, they’re coming! No one makes it through life on this planet unscathed. But the One who raised our crucified Savior from the dead stands ready to do the same for us. If we are focused on that great truth, what else matters?

As Romans 8:31 reminds us, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

We are “more than conquerors,” dear friends…for God has raised Him from the dead!

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

Taming the Monster

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Note: This is a follow-up a previous excerpt. If you missed it, you can read it here.

The room became nearly dark as the door closed again, just the dim light from the hallway sneaking under the door. Silence for a few moments, but somehow a different quality permeated the room. A small bit of peace had settled in the shadows.

“Rich.” Spoken so softly I almost felt it more than heard it. “Rich, may I come in?”

Tears flooded my eyes again.

“Al,” I whispered. “Yeah, please come in.”

He crossed the room and stopped beside me. I could hear him there, and then I felt his hand on my shoulder. He stood beside me in dark silence and we stared at the blinds for a few moments. I cried and he held me awkwardly, avoiding the screws, and cradled my head as the fear and pain gushed out. The emotion of this miserable day completely overwhelmed me and the terror of the past weeks seemed to rip at my soul. I sobbed uncontrollably, but I was no longer alone.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Al asked.

So I told him about the monster in the mirror and the horrible panic, about finally understanding what I had become. How could I ever go outside the room again? How could people even tolerate such a terrifying figure? Why had no one told me about my freakish appearance?

“I can’t live like this. This cannot be what God wants anyone to be. I need to die—that thing in the mirror needs to die. That can’t be me. What happened to me? Where did I go?”

Al and I talked for a long time that evening. We spoke about the embarrassment of feeling like some strange creature that belonged in a circus sideshow rather than in my body. We talked about who—or what—I was in this lifeless skeleton of a body with the Frankenstein screws in my head. I asked the same questions again and again, “What happened to ME?”

At one point, Al went to the bathroom and came back with a hand mirror. “You need to take another look at yourself.”

I recoiled in horror. How could he possibly imagine I’d want to see that monstrous reflection again? But he persisted, gently telling me I needed to take a better look, a calmer look, I needed to see me in the mirror. After a long time and a lot of angry, fearful refusing, I agreed. Slowly, Al brought the small hand mirror up until it was in front of my face.

I closed my eyes as the reflection appeared before me, then opened them a little. I saw a hollow face with a sallow complexion. The eyes darted back and forth, brief glimpses before looking away and back again. I noticed the same scraggly beard and unkempt hair I’d seen earlier. And then I saw them—the screws and the metal halo they held in place around my head. I squeezed my eyes shut tightly, and waited a few moments before I found the courage to open them again.

The halo of silver-colored metal hung suspended about half an inch away from my head. I could see two of the screws embedded in my forehead about an inch above and outside of each eyebrow.

I stared with some combination of fascination and disbelief. How had my life come to this? How could THAT be ME? Al steadied the mirror for several moments and allowed the image to hang there in front of me. Who is that? Where is me?

Al must have seen the questions on my face because he said quietly, “Rich, you’re in there.”

“Where?” I whimpered.

“Rich, you’re in there,” he repeated. “You are not what you see in the mirror. What you see right now is pain and sorrow and a catastrophic injury that’s going to need a long time to heal. You see fear and loss and grief. You see a brace that looks horrible because of the horrible job it has to do. You see all of that, and you think you’re seeing you.

“But all of that stuff isn’t you. It’s all on the outside and it’ll all go away. Even the brace—four months is an awfully long time to have such a terrible contraption attached to you, but it’ll go away. None of what you see is you. You’re in there, underneath the unimaginable things that have happened to you.”

I asked him to pray with me. Al was good about that, a pastor who loved God with all his heart but didn’t just drop “Jesus” into a situation as though that would make it all better and you never should have been sad or scared in the first place because you should just have enough faith. But now he prayed with me, and as he prayed he also reminded me I wasn’t alone. He laid the mirror down, took my paralyzed, limp hand in his hands and prayed.

“Lord Jesus, be here with us. Rich is really scared right now, Father, and he has every reason to be scared. A terrible thing has happened and Rich doesn’t even know where he is anymore. He looks in the mirror and he can’t find himself, and instead he sees a hideous, frightening reflection of Evil.

“Father, hold Rich in Your hand right now. Let him know that Your arms surround him tonight, that he’s safe, and that he has not gone anywhere. Let him know that he’s right here, and that You know all about his battles. Remind him that Jesus felt the fear, knows the pain, and understands what it means to feel lost and alone. Father, help Rich to sense the powerful presence of Jesus in this room right now through Your Spirit.

“And Father, grant to Rich Your peace in this moment. He faces a long and difficult road, but help him to know he doesn’t have to travel that road tonight. Help him to let go, to fall into Your arms, and to be at peace.

“Father, I ask this, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.”

The room that had been filled with so much turmoil all day was unexpectedly quiet, still and peaceful. This dreadful situation wasn’t suddenly all OK. But it was somehow OK in that moment. Al and I talked a while longer. He reminded me that there were no magic, easy answers to this dilemma and that I’d likely encounter frightful images again. But he asked if I could let the peace in the room settle over me, just for tonight.

“Yeah,” I whispered. “I’m really tired. I’ll be all right. Thanks.”

Al was sure right about one thing. My journey didn’t get magically easier that night. God never promised every season of life would be easy. He did promise we would never have to face any situation alone. That doesn’t make it easy—it DOES offer hope.

Hope provides a permanent solution to a temporary problem. The hope God offers isn’t the sort of wishful thinking so prevalent at birthday celebrations. “I hope I get a new bike” confuses hope with some sort of superstitious yearning. I hope my team wins the big game; I might refuse to wash my lucky jersey because I hope it’ll bring good luck. That’s not God’s hope.

God bestows through His grace the kind of hope that might be more accurately described as “expectation.” God doesn’t promise that I can wish for His peace; He promises that I can expect to receive it. God’s hope isn’t based on wishes or luck or maybe. God’s hope implies certainty rooted in grace and love.

That night I felt the power and the hope of the presence of Jesus. I knew He stood with me, walked beside me and even carried me when I needed it. The palpable tranquility that filled my hospital room that night drove away the fear of the monster in the mirror.

In a moment when I couldn’t see a way out, God provided. He didn’t solve the problem or make the pain disappear. But He did give me what I needed at that moment. He made that night, at the end of an awful day, a night of peace.

I wish I could proclaim that I never gave up again, never got frustrated or fearful, never forgot to lean on God’s promises. I wish I could say that after that night I always remembered that Jesus knew the pain and the fear and would always be with me. I wish I had been able to carry the peace of that night through the difficult days and weeks ahead.

But in fact I continued to give up and get angry and frustrated. Time and again I found myself at the end, lost and alone. No way to turn, no idea how to get out of this one.

And every time, God provided. Not an easy way, not an end to the pain. But Jesus was always with me. Somehow He helped me summon the strength to go on when I was certain I couldn’t go any farther. Every time, when I could find no escape from the fear, God provided.

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 Monster in the Mirror

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

Excerpt from Relentless Grace
See the followup article.

Intensive Care became my new home. Five days later a team of neurosurgeons fused the vertebrae, joining crushed and splintered bones with an assortment of metal plates and screws along with a chunk of bone transplanted from my hip.

I emerged from surgery encased in a “halo brace” to stabilize my neck while the fusion healed. This contraption surely descended from some medieval instrument of torture, a metal jacket attached to vertical rods that clamped to a metal ring around my head—my “halo.” Four screws secured the halo to my head. It took some time to assimilate that little piece of information—the thing was screwed into my skull!

As the fog of the anesthetic subsided I gradually became acquainted with this primitive apparatus that served as an inflexible exoskeleton to lock my upper body solidly in one position. Not that I could move much anyway, but this device added profoundly to the discomfort and frustration.

I had to learn to live with my new halo because we’d be together for four months.

The therapists tried hard to be friendly and encouraging, to make the best of an awful situation. Jokes, sports, movies, they tried every topic and tactic to distract me from the dismal circumstances and create a more pleasant and personal relationship. I wasn’t playing their game. I was miserable and had no intention of pretending otherwise. I couldn’t see beyond the halo, the catheter, the orthopedic stockings, and this bed that had become my prison. I did everything possible to make sure everyone around me understood the hopelessness, that efforts to help were pointless and doomed to fail.

I also had lost my voice, making a bad situation even worse. The surgeon accidentally damaged a nerve to my right vocal cord, so in addition to the paralysis I could speak only in a hoarse whisper. I really didn’t want to talk to anyone anyway, but communication now required significant effort. I effectively used my inability to speak as a perfect excuse to refuse any sort of positive interaction with anyone. I became increasingly mired in despair and anger.

A few weeks after my injury, an aide helped me to the P.T. waiting area. Quite by accident, he parked my chair near a full-length mirror. I didn’t notice at first, but then a movement caught my eye. I saw the mirror slightly to the left, not directly in front of me but still within the limited field of vision created by the brace that prevented me from turning my head. At first the reflection didn’t register. It took a moment to realize the image in the mirror was—ME!

I stared in horror at the ghost gazing back at me through sunken, glazed eyes. He slumped limply in a large, leather wheelchair. Clothes appeared to hang from his emaciated skeleton. The feet pointed at odd angles like those of a rag doll carelessly arranged; uncombed, greasy hair, hadn’t shaved in several weeks, his skin a pale, chalky white. The ghastly specter evoked memories of grainy black-and-white pictures from Nazi concentration camps, an empty half-alive stare that looks but doesn’t really see.

And the halo brace! Screws protruded from his head, every bit like the Frankenstein monsters from those shadowy old movies. The creature might have escaped his shackles in some secret basement laboratory, the wretched result of a mad experiment gone horribly wrong.

I stared, gradually assimilating details of the shocking spectacle. Fascination faded to disbelief and then terror as I began to comprehend my link to the gruesome image. I moved my right arm like a child might do to verify that the reflection in the mirror really somehow connected to him. Sure enough, the monster’s arm flopped across his body as well. That pathetic, half-human phantom was ME!

I’d never actually seen the halo brace. I guess I’d developed some sort of mental image of the awkward apparatus that immobilized my lifeless body, but I hadn’t really considered the appearance of this horrific contraption. I certainly wasn’t prepared for the ghastly image staring lifelessly back at me like some mistaken merger of man and mechanism. I wanted to escape from the pitiful, subhuman specter, but of course I couldn’t move.

Couldn’t run, couldn’t walk, couldn’t push the chair, couldn’t even turn away. That monster remained right there in front of me, and I was powerless to evade his ghostly gaze. As fearsome as the apparition appeared, I couldn’t force myself to squeeze my eyes shut and make him disappear.

I screamed in horror, or I did what passed for screaming with my hoarse whisper of a voice. No one heard my nearly silent wail, so I banged my arms in frustration on the sides of the chair. The spasmodic movements were the only volitional actions I could generate to attract attention and express the fear and anger.

Eventually one of the aides came to investigate the commotion. “Get me out of here,” I rasped. “Take me back to my room.” He didn’t realize the source of my distress, but he pivoted the chair and we headed back toward the elevator. As we turned away, I got one last glimpse of the monster in the mirror. I croaked another horrified moan.

Back in my room, no one could console me or make sense of what had upset me. “Just leave me alone! Go away! Let me alone!” I whispered through tears.

“What’s wrong?” asked Julie, my nurse. “What happened?”

But I didn’t want to talk. Didn’t want to tell her about the monster, about the horror of the frightening image that confronted me, about the embarrassment of finally realizing what others saw when they looked at me. I just wanted to turn off the lights and hide my pathetic remnant of a person in darkness. “Everyone, just get out. LEAVE ME ALONE!” Now I was begging, “Please, turn off the lights and go away.”

In the cool darkness of the hospital room, I cried. How could all of this have happened? The entire period since the accident drifted past in a horrible, surreal haze—ambulance, emergency room, Intensive Care, surgery, recovery. Weeks passed in a fog of pain, sleep and drugs, until days had little definition and time either passed or not but it didn’t much matter. The shock of the entire episode blurred the distinction between reality and some sort of bizarre nightmare. I acted in the dream, aware but not really. The whole dreadful muddle seemed like a struggle to awaken from a dream within a scene in a bad movie.

But in that dark room, the fog began to lift. That ghastly, half-dead reflection wasn’t a character in a scary dream or the product of a drug-induced hallucination. The screws in the head, the chair that trapped me, the feet that didn’t appear to be connected to legs I couldn’t see or feel—that pitiful fabrication of some demented imagination was what remained of ME. I had become that gaunt, slumped, pathetic-looking monster. I cried.

I sat where they had left me, facing toward the window of my room. The blinds were mostly closed and I stared blankly at the window. I heard the door open quietly behind me. “Rich?” Julie whispered. “What can I do?”

“Nothing,” I murmured. “Please, leave me alone.” The door closed again.

I cried, stared at the blinds and cried some more. I should have been out of the chair and back in bed a long time ago. I felt dizzy, light-headed, and nauseous, I struggled to breathe, and my back ached. But I couldn’t move, couldn’t turn the chair or call for help if I’d wanted to. I was just there. Helpless. Alone.

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 is Our Power and Strength

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.” Ephesians 3:20-21 King James Version

We have a Saviour who can do anything. There is absolutely nothing that is too hard for Jesus. It doesn’t matter how many trials and heartaches we have in our lives, Jesus is more than able to bring us through every one of them victoriously. There are times when we live defeated lives because we try to do things by ourselves.

It hasn’t worked and it never will work. When will we ever learn that it is Jesus who is our power? He is the one who carries us when we can’t take another step. It is not our power; it is His power working in us that brings us out of the dark valleys of our lives and puts us once again on the mountain tops of happiness.

If we will stop trying to solve our problems by ourselves and allow Jesus to work through us, our lives would be a lot happier and much more peaceful. We should give Him glory, thanks and praise every day of our lives for all that He does for us. He is not only our Saviour; He is also our friend. We will never have a better friend than Jesus, the Saviour of the world!

Heavenly Father, thank You for being a loving and compassionate Father. We give You thanks for Your beloved Son, Jesus. Thank You for sending Your son into the world to be our Saviour. Thank You, Jesus, for loving us so much that You willingly walked that long and lonely road to Calvary to die for us so that we can be saved and live with You for all eternity. 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

The Ruined Handkerchief

Monday, November 9th, 2009

“We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

It is one of the wonders of divine love, that God will take even our blemishes and sins, when we truly repent of them and give them into His hands–and make them blessings to us in some way.

A friend once showed Ruskin a costly handkerchief, on which a blot of ink had been made. “Nothing can be done with that!” the friend said, thinking that the handkerchief was now ruined and worthless. Ruskin carried it away with him and after a time sent it back to his friend. In a most skillful and artistic way–he had made a fine design on the handkerchief, using the blot as its foundation. Instead of being ruined, the handkerchief was made far more beautiful and valuable.

Just so, God takes the flaws and blots and stains upon our lives, the disfiguring blemishes, when we commit them to Him, and by His marvelous grace–changes them into strength and beauty of character!

David’s grievous sin, was not only forgiven–but was made a transforming power in his life.

Peter’s pitiful fall, became a step upward through his Lord’s forgiveness and gentle dealing. Peter never would have become the man he afterward became–if he had not denied his Lord, and then repented and been restored.

There is one thing always to be remembered. Paul tells us that we become more than conquerors in all life’s trials, dangers, struggles, temptations, and sorrows–only “through Him who loved us.” Without Christ–we must be defeated. There is only one secret that can turn evil into good, pain into blessing–that is the love of Christ. There is only one Hand which can take the blotted life–and transform it into beauty.

(J. R. Miller, “The Lesson of Love” 1903)

Take Up Your Mat

Friday, November 6th, 2009

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” [Mark 2: 1-5]

Does Jesus surprise you?

I’m always amused to discover something new in a familiar story. As a quadriplegic, I’ve read this story from Mark many times. But recently I encountered a new twist that impacts the notion of new beginnings.

I’ve always wondered why Jesus responded initially by telling the paralytic that his sins were forgiven. I don’t think that’s why his friends carried the man to the roof, dug a hole, and lowered him into the room. I think they believed Jesus would heal the man’s body.

In the years following my injury, I begged God for physical healing. I sincerely believed He could mend my injury with a single touch. I pleaded, I cried, I bargained, and I screamed in the darkness. “God, please heal me!” I didn’t understand why He ignored or denied my prayers.

After years of frantically trying to get God to give me what I wanted, I finally heard His response and realized that He offered what I really needed. I finally heard Jesus patient voice saying, “Rich, your sins are forgiven.”

Beneath the broken body, God saw my broken heart. He knew that depression and regret comprised the walls of my prison, and that freedom could only be found in His forgiveness and grace.

The religious leaders in the crowd around Jesus understood.

    Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” [Mark2:6-7]

Jesus claimed authority reserved for God alone. They might dismiss physical healing as illusion, but Jesus’ offer of forgiveness threatened the foundations of their superficial religiosity.

    Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . .” He said to the paralytic, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” [Mark 2:8-12]

Jesus healed the man as a sign of His authority, but first He provided what the man truly needed—forgiveness and a full, free heart.

I suspect that most of the audience—then and now—missed the point. They were amazed and praised God because a paralyzed man walked. I wonder if any of them understood that the man’s freedom didn’t depend on a healed body.

That’s why I keep telling this story. I am not thankful for the struggle of my injury. I don’t know why it happened. I still believe God can heal me, and I don’t know why He doesn’t. Those are questions for greater minds than mine.

But I do know that my freedom and hope aren’t founded on my physical circumstances. Jesus helped me out of the darkness and into His light with a simple message, “Rich, your sins are forgiven.”

That’s what Christians in Recovery® is all about. It’s about something much more important than this world’s temporary troubles. It’s about Jesus, and the freedom, forgiveness, hope, and new beginning He offers. We’re not prisoners of the past.

You’re free. Take up your mat.

What’s a new beginning you need today?

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

Nine Questions About Leadership and Control

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all—he is the greatest.” [Luke 9:46-48]

Are you a leader?

It’s a rhetorical question, and the answer is YES. We’re all leaders. We all influence others at work, in our homes, at church, and in social settings. The real question is how we deploy our influence.

I watched this entertaining video of Itay Talgam talking about leadership in the context of an orchestra conductor. The video’s about twenty minutes long, and makes some great points about leadership. If you want to watch, go ahead. I’ll wait.

The video raised some interesting questions for me about leadership, influence, and control. Here are some of mine, and I hope you’ll share others.

    * Am I influencing others “toward” or “away from” the ideas I value?
    * Is influence a zero-sum game, or is it possible that I gain influence by giving it away?
    * Am I experiencing the joy of helping others pursue and achieve excellence?
    * Am I threatened by the prospect of enabling and empowering others?
    * Can I lead with less control?
    * Am I using members of my circle to meet my needs (I hope not!) or am I genuinely concerned with developing partnerships and helping others?
    * How much of leadership is technique and how much is about attitude and heart?
    * Can I guide a process without controlling people?

The best line of the talk occurred right at the end: If you love something, give it away.

What are some of your questions or observations about leadership, control, and influence?

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

Is He Smiling?

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:40 King James Version

While waiting in the checkout lane at Wal-Mart yesterday, I saw something that brought tears of happiness to my eyes and to my heart. In the lane next to me was a little boy about five or six years old. The little boy was sitting in a grocery cart and his dad and grandmother were talking to him. All of a sudden, the little boy looked up at his grandmother and smiled at her.

Then he leaned toward his dad and gave him a kiss. His dad started smiling and I believe if I was closer I would have seen tears of happiness in his dad’s eyes. I believe Jesus gets tears of happiness in His eyes and in His heart when we are kind to one another.

When Jesus looks at you is He smiling? Do your actions please Him? Does He hear you saying kind and encouraging words to your family and friends and all those you meet? When we are kind to people, we are being kind to Him and when we are hateful to people, we are being hateful to Him.

Are you putting smiles on the face of our precious Saviour and joy in His heart because of your actions and words or are you putting frowns on His face and sadness in His heart? If ever someone deserves to be happy, it is Jesus! Let’s start putting smiles on the face of Jesus and joy in His heart by the kind words we say and the kind things that we 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

All In

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’” [Luke 14:25-30]

Have you ever thought about the conditional nature of our culture?

Everything has strings attached. The warranty is limited. Marriage comes with pre-nuptial agreements. Check the return policy carefully. Always read the fine print. Seems that it’s all about limiting liability and responsibility, setting the terms, and making sure everyone knows where the lines are.

Everything’s conditional.

Then, here’s Jesus with this radical notion: if you want to follow me and be my disciple, you have to be “all-in.”

This passage is frequently misinterpreted because Jesus uses hyperbole to make a point. He’s not instructing us to hate or reject our earthly families, but He is clearly setting priorities. You can’t follow Him conditionally, after other bases are covered. You can’t set aside a limited part of your life for Him, reserving the rest for other important matters.

If you want to follow Him, you’re either all-in or not. No exceptions or exclusions, no lines or limits. No conditions.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not all-in. And I will never get there.

Even as He staked this radical claim, He also knew I’d never be able to honor it. No matter how hard I try, I always hold something in reserve. I retain a safety net, a piece that I control. Even if I want to, I’ll never be 100% all-in.

Sometimes I’m not sure what to make of a situation in which the mark is set impossibly high. I’m tempted to simply give up. If I can’t possibly do what He requires, what’s the use in even trying?

Then I remember grace. God’s standards never change, and if I had to reach them on my own I’d be doomed. But Jesus stepped into my place, did what I never could, and bridged the gap for me. Because He was all-in, my failure and weakness is forgiven.

In Christ, I’m all-in.

A pastor once said it beautifully. When he was asked to explain Christianity in non-church terms, he replied:

Jesus left His place, and came to our place. He took our place, so He could take us to His place.

I want to be all-in. How about you?

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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