Archive for November, 2010

How To Stop Bullying

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

You can’t. You can’t decide how other people think or act.

Do you agree?

I’m working on some stuff for a group of kids who asked me to talk to them about leadership. Their question: “We’re supposed to be leaders. How can we stop bullying behavior in school?”

My honest answer, sadly, is that they can’t. But that doesn’t mean they’re powerless. They can have a lot of influence, but not in the way they’re thinking.

Everyone thinks about changing the world. Few people think of changing themselves.

I think it’s a simple truth that’s not very easy to implement.

Role Play

Let’s pretend we’re a kid (let’s call him Rich) who observes some sort of bullying behavior. That’s oval 1.

Rich didn’t choose that behavior and he’s not responsible for it. He is, however, completely responsible for how he responds.

First reality: you cannot choose, control, or be responsible for another person’s behavior.

Oval 2 is Rich’s main point of control. Only Rich determines how he interprets the behavior he just witnessed. Some possibilities:

  • Rich may choose to react to fear. He thinks he can’t do anything or he has to avoid negative consequences. He’ll say it’s really none of his business.
  • Rich might choose anger. He feels self-righteous and superior. He lashes out, perhaps yelling insults and put-downs. Maybe he feels offended and indignant. That guy’s an idiot. What a loser. How can he be that stupid?
  • Rich could choose to respond to the behavior without judging the person. He knows he’s seeing something that’s wrong, and asks himself how best to change the situation.

Second reality: you choose how you interpret events. Those interpretations directly impact your feelings, thoughts, and words.

Now we reach Oval 3, where Rich’s behavior demonstrates his feelings and thoughts. Technically he can still choose his actions at this step, but it’s tough to counteract the frame of reference created in step 2.

  • If he chooses fear, he’ll likely turn his back or run away.
  • Disrespect or anger might lead to dismissal or gossip, or he may fight verbally or physically.
  • If Rich chooses the third route, he’s free to problem-solve. Can I stop the behavior myself? Do I need to find an adult? He chooses the most effective action, the best intervention based on what he believes is right.

Third reality: your choice of internal interpretation frames your behaviors.

Now we’re in oval 4, where others see Rich’s response. And this gets tricky, because he has no control over how his actions will impact another’s behavior.

Fourth reality: you determine your interpretations and behaviors. You don’t decide how they will respond.


How does that help? What if the other person continues or repeats the bullying behavior?

Difficult truth: Rich controls steps 2&3. He absolutely cannot control steps 1&4.

Rich can only think, say, and do what he believes to be the right thing. And if he’s an effective leader he may inspire others to follow.

Or not.

That’s Rich’s only option, unless he chooses to force someone else to change through physical or emotional violence. But there’s a problem…

…the goal was to stop bullying, not to become a more powerful bully.

I think it’s really that simple. Not easy, but simple.

What’s your take? What have I missed?

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

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

Become Like Children

Monday, November 15th, 2010

What does it mean to follow Jesus?

Personally, I think I make it harder than He intended.

This week I’m thinking about simple. I have a nagging feeling that we make a lot of things harder than they need to be. I don’t want to ignore life’s harsh realities, but I’d like to see if there are some places where my attitudes increase the harshness.

I’m convinced that I can be simple without being simplistic. I’m certain that many issues are complex but not necessarily complicated (Complex Simplicity).

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. [Matthew 18:2-3]

“…become like little children.” Jesus tells me to be childlike.

Maybe that’s another useful distinction: childlike versus childish.

What comes to mind when you think of childlike? I thought of things like:

  • Trusting
  • Open heart
  • Creative
  • Inquisitive
  • Accepts at face value
  • Not afraid to try new things

Childish evokes different images:

  • Self-centered
  • Temper tantrums
  • Mine!
  • Why?
  • Do I have to?

Jesus loves me. Childlike knows exactly what that means.

Children are expected to be both childish and childlike.

Adults have a choice.

What’s your biggest obstacle to being a bit more childlike?

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

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

He’s Calling You

Friday, November 12th, 2010

“I have chosen you,” says the Lord of hosts (Haggai 2:23, NKJV).

Remember standing in line on the playground while the team leaders chose their groups? Remember being the one not chosen? Remember the humiliation of hearing the leaders argue over who “has” to include you on their team? Maybe that wasn’t you. Maybe you were one of the first ones chosen, and you remember the joy and exhilaration of hearing your name called early on. Or maybe you were somewhere in between, in which case you may remember hoping to be called as soon as possible so you wouldn’t end up too close to the end.

Whatever the case, we all experienced some of the effects of being “chosen”—or not. If we weren’t, perhaps we pretended as if it didn’t matter, but it did, didn’t it? No one wants to be rejected. We all want to be chosen. And God knows that better than we ever could…because He designed us that way. He wants to choose us, and He wants us to respond accordingly. It is His heart’s desire that we willingly choose to belong to Him. But inherent in that choice is a willingness to respond to His call as well as His choice.

What is that call? It’s a call to serve on His team, shoulder to shoulder with the others He has called and chosen. Just as the leader or captain of a sports team chooses team members so they can participate in the game, God chooses us so we can participate in the work of His Kingdom. We aren’t chosen simply so we can know where we will end up when we breathe our last here on earth. We are chosen to serve our team Captain in the fulfilling of the ministry of reconciliation, which Jesus began and has now committed to us.

If you haven’t already responded to God’s call and joined His team, don’t wonder whether or not He’s calling you; He is. Now you need to respond. And then you need to listen and find out what He has purposed for you to do once you’ve joined the team.

We are called, we are chosen…and we are on the only winning team. But no one is called or chosen to sit on the sidelines. God has a purpose for you. Find out what it is…and then dedicate the rest of your life to fulfilling it. I promise you, there is no greater joy!

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
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”


“Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers of Today”

Her new novels:
No Greater Love
More than Conquerors
The author can be reached at:

Weapons Of Mass Transformation

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

Have you ever read a passage of scripture that seemed to smack you right between the eyes?

Last night our small group encountered these verses. As they were read aloud I literally rolled my chair backward and said something profound like, “Huh.”

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. [2 Corinthians 10:3-5]

I was particularly struck by this sentence: The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.

I’m not sure I heard most of the remainder of the discussion. I couldn’t get past the thought that God doesn’t want me to fight the world’s battles according to the world’s rules. I’m not sure why that felt so powerful—it’s not exactly a new concept.

I wanted to look a little deeper, so I looked up the same passage in The Message.

The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair.

No kidding. So how am I supposed to compete in a world with no rules?

But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation,

God doesn’t need to be packaged and promoted in some slick direct-mail scheme. No tricks, no gimmicks, no guilt trips, no bait-and-switch tactics. We don’t use violence, threats, coercion, or peer pressure. Those are the world’s tools, not God’s.

but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture.

The war is spiritual. It’s not about politics and nations and material stuff–it’s much bigger. And I’m not supposed to modify the culture into something just a bit less offensive. I’m not supposed to fit in and trim around the edges.

We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ.

I can’t just go with the flow. I’m instructed to “capture” my thoughts, emotions, and impulses, not be their prisoner. Jesus is the structure—everything else must conform to Him.


I wondered about the weapons with which we’re supposed to fight, these God-tools capable of smashing philosophies and tearing down barriers. Am I supposed to wear a cape, place a large “J” on my chest and leap tall building in a single bound?

I spent a few moments listing the tools Jesus used to change the world. Indeed, they’re not the world’s weapons.

Jesus deployed an arsenal consisting of:

  • Faith
  • Hope
  • Love
  • Prayer
  • Spirit
  • God’s word

Pretty simple, huh? I wonder if I have the courage to drop the world’s weapons and do life His way.

Two questions: Did I miss anything in my list? Who can you think of who sincerely tried (tries) to use these tools?

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

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

It’s All In Your Head

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Has anyone ever told you “it’s all in your head?”

Do you think it’s true?

I was working outside yesterday, enjoying a wonderful late-Autumn day. A man approached on the sidewalk, towing his little boy in a wagon. Dad stared straight ahead, and I could hear him talking. As they passed I could see the wireless earpiece, so at least he wasn’t carrying on an audible conversation with himself.

The little boy wasn’t in a toy wagon on a suburban street—he was engaged in a furious struggle for survival. He faced backward, and I heard the sound effects as he fought off imaginary pursuers. Hands formed invisible weapons, voice relayed a stream of gunfire and explosions, and he celebrated as the enemies fell before his relentless defenses.

I stopped typing and watched as they crossed the street and headed down the bike trail. Dad still talked, gesturing occasionally with his hands to emphasize an important point, while junior defended their convoy from an apparently endless supply of attackers. The crashes became louder, the defensive actions more animated.

Dad was oblivious to the epic battle occurring behind him. Junior was unaware that a life-and death business deal hinged on Dad’s every word.

They were truly in different worlds.

Neither of them experienced an unusually warm November afternoon. Junior fought heroically against overwhelming odds to prevent his destruction. Dad solved an important problem for a customer or helped a coworker with a difficult challenge.

I was struck by the nature of our radically different perceptions. I thought this was a chance to sneak an hour in the sunshine while I pretended to work. Dad saw a few quiet moments away from the computer in which to focus on an essential conversation. Junior perceived invading armies.

Same surroundings, same weather, exactly identical external circumstances.

But this warm afternoon was an excuse to goof off, an opportunity to communicate, or a struggle for survival.

Completely different experiences—and the differences were “all in our heads.”

How much of my joy or sorrow, triumph or struggle, excitement or despair, are determined by my own thoughts and perceptions?

How much of what I blame on circumstances I can’t control is really totally within my control?

We “adults” might chuckle at Junior’s pretend war. But how many imaginary battles do I fight in my own thoughts? How often do I turn a simple comment into a soul-scarring criticism?

How often do I miss God’s grace simply because I don’t look for it?

It’s all in my head? Nah—that’s too simplistic.

But I suspect most of what really matters happens in the five inches between my ears.

What’s your take?

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

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

Who’s In First?

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Do you ever sense that the more you know the less you know?

Perhaps, at least for me, a more accurate assessment would be “the more I know the less I learn.”


Some time ago I read a discussion of Second Corinthians (don’t recall exactly where) that ended with a confusing, and somewhat accusatory, question: Have YOU been reconciled to God?

I adopted my normal attitude toward difficult questions—I skipped over it. But the question nagged at me. I’m pretty sure the answer’s YES, but how do I know?

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. [2 Corinthians 5:20]

The Greek word translated as “reconciled” in this passage (katallasso) connotes some kind of exchange. The exchange involved Jesus dying in my place.

Reconciliation isn’t anything I can do. I had a relationship with God. I messed it up. God reconciled me to Him through Jesus’ sacrifice.

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ…God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ… [2 Corinthians 5:18-19]

For me, the question isn’t really whether I’m reconciled to God. The question is more about how that knowledge of katallasso changes my actions.

Knowledge & Learning

I always told my students that behavior measures the difference between knowledge and learning. Facts and information are empty knowledge until they cause some change in behavior.

By that measure, I’m definitely part of the slow-learner class. Here’s an example.

A while back I made a list of personal priorities:

  1. Follow Jesus
  2. Take care of myself (health, sleep, read, keep the batteries charged)
  3. Serve others
  4. Tasks, lists, stuff I “need” to do

This list exists in my head as knowledge. I believe it’s correct. But I fear that what I do, how I behave, often fails to reflect what I know.

Empty knowledge. Same behavior. Slow learner.

It’s as though I live out the old Abbott and Costello comedy routine: Who’s On First?

Watch the video clip, but imagine someone looking at my actions and trying to figure out Who’s In First? (If you can’t see the clip, click here to view it on my site.)

Who’s In First?

“First” is too frequently occupied by tasks, appointments, and self-created obligations. If I don’t save the world, who will? Yeah, I know God already did that, but still…

Sometimes “first” gets crowded with excessive mindless entertainment like the TV shows or sports I have to watch.

Occasionally—often by accident or default—there’s actually a bit of space on “first” for serving others and caring for myself.

But “first” is usually far too congested to leave space for God. He might be somewhere on the list—after the really important stuff—but I’m afraid my actions demonstrate that God isn’t on first in my life.

I AM reconciled to God, not through anything I’ve done but by His grace and forgiveness.

So what’s my response? I know what Jesus did—the question is, “What have I learned? How does the knowledge change my behavior?”

Do I behave differently because I “know” Who’s In First?

Not nearly as much as I’d like.

What’s your biggest struggle in translating your knowledge of reconciliation into action?

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

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

What Should You Do with an Impossible Dream?

Monday, November 8th, 2010

What should you do with an impossible dream?

Last week I spoke to about six hundred middle school kids—at an all-school assembly at the end of the day on Friday. Not sure if that’s brave or crazy.

The kids were great. I encouraged them to dream big dreams and believe they can accomplish remarkable things. They listened and responded. Then we had a few moments for Q&A.

Open-ended Q&A with middle school kids is always an adventure. On Friday afternoon …?

They asked some pretty safe, predictable, polite questions. They one boy stood and boldly asked, “Would you encourage me to try to learn how to fly? No plane or anything, just flying on my own?”

I worked with middle school kids for a long time. They can’t surprise or shock me—this guy was just doing his job, being an eighth grader, asking the most off-the-wall question to see how the old guy would respond.

I let him know I recognized the nature of his request and we joked back and forth a bit, and then it was time to go. But I thought about his apparently silly challenge and realized that perhaps it wasn’t quite so silly.

It wasn’t silly because any dream worth the label seems off-the-wall to lots of folks. People who always color inside the lines, play it safe, never attempt anything without assured success—those folks always look at dreamers as eccentric at best, insane at worst. Society doesn’t have a place for big dreams.

But that’s exactly why I was there. I wanted them to think about “impossible” challenges. That young man’s question actually presented a great opening, an opportunity I missed. There was a better response.

I wish I’d responded with…

“Well, that depends. I think any dream is worth chasing. I’d encourage you to go for it, as long as you’re willing:

– To pursue that dream no matter where it takes you.

To plan and prepare, learn what you need to learn, read everything you can find, and ask others for help.

To risk the ridicule of people who think you’re crazy, ‘experts’ who tell you you’re wasting your time, and friends who might reject you because you’re the nut-job who thinks he can fly.

To have courage, to do what’s required in spite of your fears.

To work and sacrifice and try again when you’ve already tried everything.

To face the possibility of failure.

To silence that inner voice telling you that you’ll never make it.

“If you’re willing to do whatever it takes to make your dream happen, then I’d absolutely encourage you to go after it.”

That’s what I believe.

That’s what I wish I’d said.

What would you add?

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

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

Are You a Peacock?

Friday, November 5th, 2010

The pride of your heart has deceived you (Obadiah 1:3, NKJV).

Few of us enjoy being around strutting-peacock people—you know, the ones who are so full of themselves they are oblivious to anyone else. But there is a more subtle sort of pride that can be every bit as devastating, if not more so. Those who strut and preen are obvious in their self-absorption, but those who may appear humble and honest, while nurturing pride in their heart, are much more dangerous.

The Scriptures, particularly the Book of Proverbs warn us, time and again, about the dangers of pride. Usually, when we think of a proud person, we think of those who proclaim their own goodness and success at the top of their lungs. As a result, they’re a bit easier to avoid (and most of us do!). But what exactly is the “pride of [the] heart” that deceives?

The Bible is clear in its repeated statements that not a one of us can call ourselves “good,” though many try. Even Jesus called one of His listeners to account when the man referred to Jesus as “good.” Jesus’ response put everything into proper perspective: “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God” (Matthew 19:17, NKJV). We’ve reduced the word “good” to an adjective that can include “tasty,” “pleasant,” “easy,” etc. When it comes to people, we often mean “nice” when we say “good.” Like you, I know a lot of nice people—and some not-so-nice. But nice isn’t the same as good.

If we claim to believe in and follow Jesus, then we must also believe His words. Since He said that only God is “good,” then we must accept that, apart from God’s Spirit living within us, we are not good, however nice or sweet or pleasant we may be. If we don’t accept that, then the pride of our heart is deceiving us, and that is a very dangerous thing, as the passage in Obadiah goes on to explain that God Himself will pursue and destroy those who have deceived themselves into believing they are good apart from God.

Have you ever heard someone at a funeral say, “He was a good person” or “She lived a good life,” as if that qualifies them to get into heaven? That’s the worst deception possible—and the most dangerous. Psalm 14:1 says, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, They have done abominable works, There is none who does good.” The words “God” and “good” are synonymous. We simply cannot be good apart from God. So the next time we’re tempted to proclaim ourselves or someone else as “good,” perhaps we can use a more appropriate and accurate word, such as “nice” or “generous” or “kind.” Then let’s pray that our hearts will not be deceived but that we will allow the goodness of God to shine forth in our lives, and to draw others into that goodness as well.

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
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”


“Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers of Today”

Her new novels:
No Greater Love
More than Conquerors
The author can be reached at:


Thursday, November 4th, 2010

I’ve had a few encounters over the last few days that leave me asking this question:

Is Jesus more interested in bridges or walls?

I tend to be a wall-builder. My essence seems to demand a separation between right (us) and wrong (them). I’m getting better about wading into senseless, divisive arguments, but that doesn’t block my internal sense of self-righteousness.

I’m pretty sure that’s not how Jesus wants me to look at others. I think He wants me to see commonalities rather than differences, to seek ways to unite rather than divide.

Unfortunately, my definition of “unite” normally means that everyone else should move toward me.

What if Jesus took that approach? What if He’d stayed where He was and insisted that I approach Him on His terms?

He chose instead to come to me and sacrifice Himself to build a bridge. I’m reminded of my friend Dick Foth’s wonderful summary of the gospel:

Jesus left His place
and came to our place.

Then He took our place
so He could take us to His place.

I want to build bridges this week.

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

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

How To Get Past Discouragement

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

How do you get past feeling discouraged?

Right now, I don’t have a clue. Discouraged feels like a brick wall in my path. Ever been there?

Maybe for you it’s fear or hopelessness or some other emotion. How do you get past it?

What To Do?

I’ve been writing this week about my idea that worship consists of focused awareness. I’m thinking that “You shall have no other gods before me” [Exodus 20:3] means that I ought to be more focused on God, more aware of His presence, than anything else. And right now that’s certainly not true.

So here’s my take on how discouraged weaseled its way into center.

  • Courage is the willingness to face fear and do what’s right.
  • Encourage means increasing that ability in myself or others.
  • So discourage means a decreased ability or willingness to do what’s right when I’m afraid.

Yep—that’s me. I’m up to my eyeballs in discourage. I’ve lost my willingness to keep going.

Yesterday I discussed Worship of Emotions

Post back with your thoughts.

Enjoy and be blessed.>Worship of Emotions. I’m acutely aware of feeling discouraged. I’m focused on it, allowing discouragement to define me at the moment. I’m giving it my undivided attention. So I guess I’m worshiping at the altar of discouragement.

Feeling discouraged has become my god-of-the-week.

That’s not a pleasant thing to admit.

If you were sitting here with me, you’d probably ask why I’m discouraged. I’m not sure I could explain it. It’s not like anything really horrible has happened. Just a lot of little stuff I’ve allowed to accumulate.

I don’t need a pep talk—okay, maybe I do, but that’s not the point here. How do we re-focus when a feeling—positive or negative—displaces God at the center of our world?


It seems that this discouraged feeling is two things. One is unpleasant, the other is deadly.

Discouraged is partly a feeling. No point in denying or pretending, feelings just are what they are. You acknowledge them and do what you can to avoid being controlled by them.

And there’s the real issue, because…

…discouraged is also an attitude. And when I allow the feeling to become an all-consuming attitude, I give it priority and power until it becomes my focus. I transform it into a god.

Does that make sense?


You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds… [Ephesians 4:22-23]

Attitudes are habits. Like all habits, attitudes can either be unthinking reactions or strategic, disciplined responses. In the Bouncing Back workshop I describe five attitudes that I believe keep me focused on God.

  • Abundance—a certainty that God always provides for my needs.
  • Gratitude—a desire to express thanks for His abundant blessings.
  • Community—valuing, nurturing, and leaning on authentic relationships with God, others, and myself.
  • Control—a belief that I determine, and am responsible for, my choices and decisions.
  • Service—living out God’s true purpose for me by serving.

When I nurture and practice those habits, God is more likely to be the center of my awareness. My life can be an expression of worship.

When I surrender power to fear or discouragement or whatever else the enemy tosses into my path, I look away from God. My feelings move to center stage. The enemy celebrates.

So what’s the solution?

The solution is … there’s no easy solution. No magic bullet, no secret seven-step formula to be purchased from late-night television.

Getting past this obstacle of discouragement requires “a new attitude of my mind.” That means discipline, long-term perspective, and gentleness with myself when I fail.

Sounds hard? It is. In fact, it’s impossible by myself.

Fortunately, I’m never by myself.

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

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