Archive for February, 2010

The Trap of the Counterfeit

Friday, February 26th, 2010

“No one is good but…God” (Matt. 19:17).

One of my very first jobs was as a bank teller, where I learned to spot the counterfeit by studying the genuine. That lesson has proven invaluable to me as a believer.

Satan never tires of trying to deceive the human need for relationship with God by offering us cheap counterfeits, whether through false religions, chemical addictions, unhealthy relationships, or success and power. The only way to recognize and avoid such entrapments is by having intimate knowledge and relationship with the genuine.

I was reminded of this fact a few days ago when talking with a young woman who considers herself religious and may even call herself a Christian but who reflects no real relationship with Christ in her life. We were discussing some recent events that had complicated her existence and caused her a lot of heartache. In an obvious effort to put on a positive front, she declared, “But it’s all good.”

Ever hear that comment? It’s quite popular these days, and I believe it is an attempt to hijack one of the most commonly used verses in the Bible while discounting the Author of that verse. Romans 8:28 declares, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” God’s Word tells us that ALL things work together for good, but only “to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Furthermore, Jesus said in Matthew 19:17 that no one is good except God. Only God in us is good; apart from His presence, we have no goodness. Therefore, “it’s all good” is a meaningless and untrue statement. Yet it sounds encouraging, doesn’t it? It’s the world’s way of saying, “I’m going through tough times, but I’ll be fine; it’ll all work out for the good.”

Really? I don’t think so. Unless the things we’re going through are part of God’s plan for our lives because we love Him and are called for His purpose, “it’s all good” are just empty words. They mean nothing and will produce nothing. Faith in words is foolishness. Faith in God’s Word carries us through to victory.

The next time you’re tempted to fall into the trap of the counterfeit, stop a moment and reflect on the genuine. Modern-day jargon and popular phrases mean nothing, but God’s Word stands ready to hold you firm until the end.

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

Kindness

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

loving-kindness Diplomacy is the art of saying “Nice doggie” until you can find a rock. Will Rogers

Can you really “kill them with kindness”?

I’ve never considered the notion of literally harming someone with kindness. But recently I’ve encountered some folks who’ve caused me to wonder. As I analyzed their frustrating behavior, I concluded that they’d developed the ability to deploy “being nice” as an interpersonal weapon.

Have you ever encountered someone who’s so nice that it’s nearly impossible to disagree with them without feeling guilty? They say and do outrageous things, but no one can confront them because they’re just so darned nice.

These folks use nice to control and manipulate. Sometimes it does seem as if they’re literally trying to suffocate others in niceness.

KIND VERSUS NICE

Kind and nice are sort of innocuous words. Everybody knows that kind and nice are good things, right? Be kind to animals, play nice in the sandbox. We seem to use them somewhat interchangeably.

I felt silly consulting a dictionary about such common words, but what I found surprised me a little.

kind: of a sympathetic or helpful nature; of a forbearing nature; gentle

nice: pleasing, agreeable; socially acceptable

Apparently kind and nice aren’t exactly synonyms. Kindness is more concerned with others. It’s associated with gentleness, forbearance, sympathy, helpfulness. In contrast, niceness is about getting along, being social and agreeable.

WHAT’S SCRIPTURE SAY?

I examined the well-known passage listing the fruits of the Spirit:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. [Galatians 5:22-23]

No surprises there, so I looked at some other translations. In place of kindness the KJV uses gentleness. In The Message it’s stated as a sense of compassion in the heart.

There it is again—kindness connotes compassion and gentleness.

What does scripture say about nice? In a keyword search in my online bible (NIV) kindness appears dozens of times—not a single instance of nice.

AGAPE

I’m thinking that kindness is an expression of agape, the self-sacrificing love Jesus demonstrated. If I’m right, then “killing with kindness” isn’t really accurate.

The goal of authentic kindness isn’t guilt or manipulation. Kindness seeks the interests of others, which includes gentle, loving confrontation when it’s appropriate.

Kindness involves an attitude of service centered on the other person’s needs. Niceness potentially disguises selfishness behind concern for social convention or propriety. It’s doing the right thing, but possibly for the wrong reason.

I’ve always liked thinking of myself as a nice guy, and there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that. It’s generally good to be pleasing and agreeable.

But I hope I always integrate nice with kindness. I hope I’m a steward who beings an attitude of agape to my interactions.

I want to value transparency, open communication, and a desire to understand. I want to be aware of the times when I’m tempted to meet my own needs at the expense of others through pleasant, skillful coercion.

I hope I can avoid relationships smothered by “the tyranny of nice.”

Do you encounter occasions when someone (or maybe you) attempts to camouflage control behind a veneer of nice?

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.  If you want to be happy, practice compassion.  Dalai Lama

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Dixon
Copyright 2010 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

Walking Along the Narrow Way

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction–and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life–and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14

Walking along the Narrow Way

It is right here that the testing point is reached. Unto the natural man, it is much easier and far more pleasant–to indulge the flesh and follow our worldly propensities. The Broad Road, where the flesh is indulged–is easy, smooth, and attractive! But it ends in “destruction!” Though the “Narrow Way” leads to eternal life–but only FEW tread it.

Multitudes make a profession and claim to be saved–but their lives give no evidence that they are “strangers and pilgrims” here on earth, and that their “treasure” is in heaven. They are afraid of being thought narrow and strict. Satan has deceived them–they imagine that they can get to heaven by an easier route, than by . . .
denying self,
taking up their cross daily,
and following Christ!

There are multitudes of ‘religionists’ who are attempting to combine the two “ways,” making the best of both worlds and serving two masters. They wish to gratify self in time–and enjoy the happiness of Heaven in eternity. Crowds of nominal Christians are deluding themselves into believing that they can do so–but they are terribly deceived!

The reason why so few will enter Eternal Life–is because the multitudes are not seeking it in the way of God’s appointing! None seek it aright–but those who pass through the Narrow Gate–and who, despite many discouragements and falls, continue to press forward along the Narrow Way.>

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction–and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life–and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14

(Arthur Pink, “The Narrow Way“)

Dream

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Today’s word is …

DREAM

I’ve been watching a lot of different Olympic events. I don’t get all that excited about the well-known athletes. The thing about the Olympics is the athletes who are there making huge sacrifices, taking risks, for a simple reason: they’re chasing a dream.

They’re never going to be famous or make a lot of money as athletes. No medals, little or no media attention. Most of the fans will never notice them. Except for family and friends, no one will know their results.

They are there because they had a dream that was worth more than anything else to them.

I really admire people who pursue their dream. Most of us wish we could do some particular something, but we allow life to get in the way.

Watch one of the obscure Olympic events—like curling. Pick out an athlete who’ll be back at a regular job in a few days. Consider the thousands of hours of practice and training.

Think about the pure joy and satisfaction of achieving a dream.

What’s your dream?

Dixon
Copyright 2010 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

You Learn Something New Every Day

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. [Luke 15:22-24]

I learned something today that absolutely surprised me.

It’s not that I’m surprised by the learning, but this particular tidbit totally contradicts something I thought I knew. That’s frustrating. There’s so much I don’t know; if I have to re-learn old stuff I’m never going to make any progress.

You know the parable of The Prodigal Son, right? (Luke 15:11-32) It’s one of the more familiar parables. Long story made short: younger son demands his share of the inheritance, wanders off and squanders it. After taking some demeaning labor just to stay alive, he decides to return home and beg his father for a job. Dad sees him coming, rushes to greet him, and throws a lavish party. Older brother resents Dad’s unconditional welcome.

Scholars frequently refer to the story as The Parable of the Lost Son, partly because the word “prodigal” doesn’t appear in the actual text (I didn’t know that, either) and partly because it’s the third in a series following the parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin.

PRODIGAL REVISITED

But I thought I knew the meaning of “prodigal.” I’ve always assumed that it meant wayward or lost. I’ve referred to myself many times as a prodigal who finally realized that there’s a better path than the one I stumbled along for so long.

Be honest—isn’t that what you thought? Well, it turns out we’re wrong.

When someone told me the actual meaning, I was skeptical enough that I actually looked it up. Then I looked in another dictionary because I still didn’t believe it.

Main Entry: 1prod·i·gal

1 : characterized by profuse or wasteful expenditure : LAVISH

2 : recklessly spendthrift synonyms see PROFUSE

Prodigal has nothing to do with being lost. If you knew this, feel free to leave a comment and brag. If you didn’t, I’d appreciate knowing that I’m not the only person who didn’t know.

TWO PRODIGALS

So there really were two prodigals in the story. The son squandered his money with reckless, wasteful, prodigal spending, while the father celebrated his son’s return with a generous prodigal party.

The point, of course, if that the father modeled God’s unconditional generosity and forgiveness. It’s a wonderful reminder that God always offers a second chance and a new beginning.

So each time I’m prodigal (wasteful) with God’s blessings, He responds with prodigal (generous, lavish) forgiveness.

In fact, the story’s really not about the son at all. It’s about a Father who waits with open arms to welcome us home.

Love never reasons, but profusely gives; it gives like a thoughtless prodigal its all, and then trembles least it has done too little. Hannah More

(Personal note: this new information is actually a big relief. My small group is preparing for a study of Timothy Keller’s book The Prodigal God. I’ve been a little concerned that the book was going to tell me I needed to worry about God getting lost.)

Armed with this new understanding, what are your thoughts about a prodigal God?

Here is an Arm that Never Can be Broken!

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms!” Deuteronomy 33:27

There are some choice thoughts in the figure of ‘God’s embracing arm’.

One thought is protection. A father puts his arm around his child when it is in danger. Just so, God protects His children. Temptations beset us on every hand. Many people think of ‘dying’ with dread, fearing to meet it. But life has far more perils than death! It is easy to die–when one has truly lived for Christ; it is only entering into eternal joy and blessedness. But it is hard to live. At every point there are perils. We need protection. Here we have it, “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms!”

Another suggestion is affection. The father’s arm around the child, means love. The child is held in the bosom, near the heart. John lay on Christ’s bosom. The shepherd gathers the lambs with his arms and carries them in his bosom. This picture of God embracing His children with His arm, tells of His love for them. It tells also of intimacy, and closeness of relation. The bosom is the children’s place.

There is yet a tenderer phase of the thought here. It is especially in the time of danger or suffering, that the mother carries the child in her arms. She takes it up when it has fallen and hurt itself, and comforts it by enfolding it in her arms. When it is sick, she presses it to her bosom.

We have here, a picture of the special sympathy and tenderness of our heavenly Father for His children–when they are in pain or in trouble. This is one of the blessings of suffering–it gets us to the inner place of divine affection, nearest to the Father’s heart! God draws us nearest–when we are in trouble or in pain!

The arm is also the symbol of strength. A mother’s arm may be physically frail–but love makes it strong. The arm of God is strong–it is omnipotent. It supports worlds! When that divine arm encircles one of His feeble children–all the power of the universe cannot tear it away!

Every true human friend is more or less a strength to us. Yet the finest, securest human strength–is only a little fragment of the divine strength. “Trust in the Lord always–for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength!” Isaiah 26:4.This is omnipotence! Here is an arm that never can be broken, and out of its clasp we never can be torn!

Another thought concerning the everlasting arms, is endurance. There might be protection, affection, and strength–and yet the blessings might not last. We have all these in human love–but human arms grow weary–even in love’s embrace. But the arms of God are everlasting. They shall never grow weary. It is everlastingness, which is the highest blessedness of divine affection and care!

Here is something that lasts, which knows no separation, which never unclasps. The arms of God are everlasting. Neither death nor life can separate. The mountains shall depart, crumble, vanish–but God’s kindness shall never depart from His beloved child!

There is a very sacred thought in the word ‘underneath‘. A father tried to save his child in the waves, clasping his arms around the beloved form. But his arms were too weak, and the child slipped from them, sank away in the dark waters, and perished. But the arms of God are underneath His children–and none can sink out of His embrace! His arms are always ‘underneath’.

The waves of sorrow are very deep–but still and forever underneath the deepest floods–are the everlasting arms. We cannot sink below them. If we lie down in sickness, the everlasting arms are underneath us. If human friendships are stripped off, and we stand alone in our bereavement, still we are not alone. Underneath are the everlasting arms. God remains–and God suffices.

Then, when death comes, and every earthly thing is gone from beneath us, and every hand unclasps from ours, and every face of love fades from our eyes, and we sink away into what seems darkness–it will be only into the everlasting arms! To every true Christian, death is only departing from earth’s weariness and pain–to forever nest in the bosom of Christ!

If we realized that the eternal God is our refuge, and that the everlasting arms are truly underneath us–our joy would not fluctuate as it does, nor our zeal be so fitful. We need a deeper repose in Christ, a more trustful settling down upon Him and upon His atoning work. Then nothing could disturb our confidence, nothing could chill our ardor, nothing could hinder our consecration. Then in sorrow we would rejoice, in temptation we would be victorious, and in all of life we would be Christ-like and strong!

(J. R. Miller, “Life’s Byways and Waysides”)

Five Toxic Thoughts

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

poison

Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amid the storm.

Do you have any toxic habits?

No, I’m not thinking of Oreos or ice cream—despite my doctor’s warnings, those are clearly proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

I’m thinking more about thoughts, beliefs, or habits of thinking that limit our ability to live full, free lives.

There’s a lot in life that we can’t control, but we’re always masters of our own attitudes. We’re always free to choose toxic thoughts that poison our minds with self-defeating attitudes.

You might ask why anyone would make that sort of choice. I’m not really sure; I just know that I do it much too often.

Here’s my list of five toxic thoughts, along with their respective antidotes. See if any of them ring a bell for you, and perhaps you can leave a comment with some other ideas.

#1: Believe that life is supposed to be pain-free.

This is a good one, because it provides a double dose of mental poison.

First, you’ll automatically interpret any struggle or difficulty as proof that something’s wrong. So rather than seeing the opportunity within a challenge, you’ll only perceive the obstacle.

Second, you’ll stop trying at the first sign of any obstacle. You’ll do anything to remove or avoid any discomfort, so you’ll never develop the discipline required to overcome obstacles.

Antidote: Realize that very little of value comes without a certain amount of effort and discipline. Diets and exercise programs require sacrifice; same principle applies to anything worthwhile. Develop the self-discipline required to see the opportunity as well as the challenge.

#2: Believe that things are always supposed to happen according to expectations.

Internet connection goes down? Weather forces a cancelation? Uh-oh, life’s out to get me again.

The real power here lies in preventing any recognition of blessing in unexpected developments. So instead of enjoying a few hours without email or a snow day at home, I fuss and struggle and worry about issues I can’t control anyway.

Antidote: Accept that stuff happens. Go with it a bit, especially when there’s nothing you can do to change things. Find the joy in an unanticipated event. Remember that life is what happens while you’re planning what’s supposed to happen.

This isn’t the same as floating aimlessly through life. It’s good to set goals and make plans, but there’s something healthy about recognizing that some things are simply beyond your control.

#3: Believe that you’re a victim.

Whenever anything goes wrong, immediately conclude that it’s hopeless. Never look for what you can control, especially your own attitudes and beliefs. Always see yourself as a helpless pawn pushed around by outside forces and events. Never take responsibility for your role in the way things happened.

Antidote: Strike a healthy balance between acceptance and control. Remember The Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

#4: Believe that everyone should like and approve of you.

Consider any criticism, regardless of merit, as a personal failure. Fuss and fret endlessly whenever someone disagrees with you.

Antidote: Listen to others’ ideas and opinions, but make your own judgments. Understand that everyone, including you, has biases and blind spots. Cultivate close, trusting relationships with a few people to whom you can turn when you’re uncertain.

#5: The most deadly poison

I see too much of myself reflected in these toxic thoughts, but they’re mild irritants compared to the last one: Believe you’re supposed to be perfect.

Never give yourself a break. Make any mistake an occasion for endless recrimination and second-guessing. Engage in “If only …” and “wouldda-shouldda” until you are totally beaten down. Never complete any project until every possible contingency has been carefully studied, then be overly critical of your inability to meet deadlines.

Re-write the language so “anything less than absolute perfection” becomes “I’ll never be any good at anything.”

Antidote: Do your best, acknowledge your flaws, capitalize on your strengths, and move on.

***

Looking back at my list, I notice another important pattern. The antidote for a toxic thought is not the opposite extreme. For example, the solution to perfectionism isn’t a lack of concern for quality.

The keys are balance and discernment, the line from The Serenity Prayer that seeks “… the wisdom to know the difference.” And that, of course, is the hard part.

There’s no recipe for wisdom, no five-step plan for discernment. Balance is a continual, life-long quest.

So, what are your thoughts? Do you see yourself in any of my poisonous habits? What other toxic beliefs do you encounter?

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Dixon
Copyright 2010 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 Circle Of Great Love

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love. Mother Teresa

service Are you grateful?

One of the amazing benefits of this work is meeting and connecting with truly remarkable people. Recently I’ve encountered some especially inspirational folks who’ve blessed and enriched my circle. I want to tell you about them, but I’m struggling for an appropriate description.

LABELS

See, I’m not really a fan of labels.

Disabled? I prefer to think that we all have our strengths and weaknesses. Navigating life requires us to leverage the strengths and compensate for the weaknesses.

Normal? I have no idea what that even means. One thought might be that “normal” means operating as the designer intended. In that light, Jesus was the only normal person that’s ever lived. The rest of us are severely flawed.

Special needs? So who are the folks who don’t have special needs? Personally, I’ve never met one.

CIRCLES

I find it more useful to think in terms of circles rather than labels. We’re all part of many circles.

We choose some of them—friends, colleagues, churches—because we share common goals, values, or interests.

Others are sort of by default—family, neighbors, co-workers. In those circles, you don’t have much choice. You take what you get, though I guess you can move, change jobs, or run away from home.

Some circles—well, I’d rather not be a member, but I get no choice. One example would be the circle of people with paralyzing spinal cord injuries. Even though I’ve met a lot of wonderful people and learned a great deal within that circle, I wouldn’t have chosen it.

And then there are people who willingly step into circles that most would never approach.

A REMARKABLE CIRCLE

The folks who’ve captured my attention recently demonstrate love and commitment that inspires and humbles. Perhaps I can best describe this circle by telling you what they are doing.

  • They’re parents of children who struggle with life-altering physical, emotional, or mental illness or injury.
  • They’re friends who’ve chosen to adopt teenagers scarred by a lifetime of physical and emotional abuse.
  • They’re caretakers for adult friends or relatives.
  • They’re folks who are selflessly helping and caring for people who need them.

That’s a circle most of us wouldn’t choose to enter, one that many flee at the first opportunity. It’s not a fun circle. Its unique rewards carry a high physical and emotional price tag.

You don’t usually get much attention for choosing that circle. Its members give much more than they get. They serve in difficult and often thankless circumstances.

SURPRISE

What’s most striking about this circle is that it’s not characterized by discouragement and hopelessness. The people I encounter exhibit an improbable sense of passion. In situations that would plunge me into an endless sea of complaint, these folks display a contentment of which I can only dream.

I’m not being Pollyanna. These people experience their share of struggle, weariness, and despair. But despite the challenges, they stick with it. I guess that’s what impresses me most. They must be tempted to give up at times, but they don’t. They stay on the path.

I don’t do that very well. I too frequently seek the easy way, avoiding unpleasant challenges whenever possible.

The people in this amazing circle are the substance of the story of Relentless Grace.

For ten years following my injury, when I was busy being angry and nasty and defiantly unlovable, people kept showing up. They refused to give up on me. No matter how hard I pushed them away, they stuck with it.

To me, these people were Jesus in t-shirts and blue jeans. And that’s how I see all of you in this incredible circle I’m trying to describe.

You’re taking seriously the call to be Jesus in t-shirts and blue jeans for some of those who need Him most. I am truly honored to know you. Thanks for being part of my circle.

Who do you know who’s in this circle or a similar one? How can you thank them today?

I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve. Albert Schweitzer

divider

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Dixon
Copyright 2010 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

Patience

Monday, February 15th, 2010

Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish. ~John Quincy Adams

broken 2 Do you ever get kicked in the pants by your own silliness?

I rolled up to the keyboard on Super Bowl Sunday. It was a few hours until kickoff—plenty of time to work on an article about “patience.”

This should be easy. A couple of pertinent quotes, a witty line or two about my own lack of patience, and some observations about occasions when patience has paid off—pretty straightforward stuff.

I leaned back to ponder a clever opening line and heard a sickening crack. The tube that supports the left side of my wheelchair back snapped in half.

DISASTER

My day was ruined.

I couldn’t sit safely or comfortably in my broken chair. Movement was limited to slowly “limping” around the house, leaning carefully to one side to avoid falling. No repair shops open on Sunday, so I was effectively immobilized for the rest of the day.

A normal guy might see opportunity within this challenge.  I’d spend the afternoon of the Super Bowl confined to the La-Z-Boy, TV remote in hand, unable to retrieve my own snacks. My wife would happily serve me while I sat with feet up, napping and watching football.

Most guys would define such circumstances as God smiling upon them.

But I work hard to maintain the illusion of independence. I hate asking for help, and this stupid broken chunk or metal made me feel even more helpless than usual.

Why did this have to happen on a Sunday? I grumbled about a Monday morning wasted on repairs and a search for some special part that’s probably not in stock. An appointment had to be re-scheduled. Plans were destroyed, an entire week thrown into disarray.

And when would I find time to write that article—the one about “patience”?

IRONY

You see the irony, right? One minute I prepared to pontificate about patience, then suddenly I wallowed in frustration and anger over a relatively minor setback.

We’re a culture of convenience. We want what we want, and our desires become expectations and then entitlements. We want it all, and we want it now. The slightest deviation from our plans and preferences becomes a tragedy, proof of life’s inherent conspiracy against us. Great patience is required simply to wait for a momentary traffic delay.

A BIGGER VIEW

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. [Galatians 5: 22-26]

Scripture refers to patience in a different light. Galatians 5:22 lists patience as a fruit of the Spirit. In the KJV, this word is longsuffering and means “bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint.” Scriptural patience connotes sticking with a difficult task when you’d rather quit, maintaining an attitude of serenity and hope.

Patience isn’t simply passively tolerating adversity—that’s just laziness. Patience allows me to continue on the correct path, to remain true to my core values, when things aren’t going exactly as I wish. For me, patience requires two closely-related attitudes.

Patience requires faith, a constant awareness that I believe in something greater than current circumstance. It’s not something I generate for myself—patience is a gift that comes when I walk in step with the Spirit.

Patience requires hope, which I define as a sense of expectation rooted in faith. Hope isn’t a wish; it’s the certainty that comes from trusting God’s perfect faithfulness. I attain that attitude of hope only by remembering that I’m trying to live God’s way, not mine.

Ecclesiastes 3 assures us: There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. [Ecclesiastes 3:1] The rest of the passage lists some of the joys and sorrows—birth and death, mourning and dancing—that have their appointed time and place.

This beautiful passage is an appeal for patience and perseverance in the face of adversity.

So I guess that means there’s a time for my wheelchair to function properly and, like anything mechanical, a time for it to break.

And, for me, a time to become frustrated, and a time to ask forgiveness and seek the hope rooted in faith that allows me to endure the frustration and begin again.

Do you ever lose patience when things don’t happen as you planned? What’s your secret for regaining perspective and facing adversity in hope?

The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride. [Ecclesiastes 7:8]

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Dixon
Copyright 2010 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 Shelter from the Storms

Friday, February 12th, 2010

“For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.” Psalm 61:3 King James Version

I have been listening to the weather report off and on tonight.  They have put out a bulletin that there is a winter storm coming to our area tonight with the possibility of snow.  I have lived here for over fifteen years and I have never seen it snow here.  They have opened some shelters for people to go to in case they need protection from the storm and the cold.

We have other kinds of storms in our lives and these shelters can not protect us.  We have storms of criticism, sarcasm, ridicule, judgment and holier than thou attitudes from people who think they are better than we are.  Only Jesus can protect us from these types of storms.  He is our shelter that we can go to when we are being attacked and our hearts are breaking.

Thank God for Jesus, our shelter from the storms of life.  What a comfort and encouragement it is to our weary battle scarred hearts to know that we can run into our shelter and He will protect us from the vicious poisonous attacks of satan and the cruel words of people.  Thank You, Jesus, for protecting us and encouraging us.

God grant that nobody will ever have to flee to Jesus for protection from us because of our sarcastic words and hateful actions.  Every one of us should search our heart and see if we are causing storms in someone’s life by our sarcastic words and hateful actions.  Let’s start treating others as we want to be treated.  Remember, when we hurt people, we hurt Jesus.

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