Archive for December, 2010

God’s Plan For My Life

Friday, December 17th, 2010

Have you thought about wrapping up 2010? How about plans for 2011?

It’s that odd time of year when we spend equal time looking to the past and the future. It’s sort of like doing taxes—you summarize the past year while figuring out what needs to change going forward.

One of my internal principles tells me to pay attention when I encounter the same issue in different contexts. I figure someone’s trying to tell me something. Recently I’ve run across a few folks who are asking, “What does God want me to do next?”

In the introduction to Relentless Grace I expressed my reluctance to claim that “God told me” to take a particular course. I won’t speak for anyone else, but I suspect I sometimes use “God’s plan” as an excuse to do what I wanted to do anyway.

I do believe that God speaks to us, and I certainly believe in His absolute sovereignty. Nothing is beyond His control; nothing escapes His attention.

But I also don’t see Him as a cosmic micro-manager. I believe He gave me gifts, talents, and interests. I believe He sent Jesus to demonstrate the principles of life. I believe He wants me to use what He’s supplied to write the best, most interesting, most helpful story possible as long as I’m here.

I believe He cares less about the specifics of what I do and more about the heart behind my choices. As I see it, He mostly wants me to be the main character in a story filled with passion, joy, service, and love. And I think He wants me to write that story.

I don’t believe He just set it all in motion and then stepped back to see how it would turn out. He works for good through the circumstances of my life without orchestrating those circumstances. And if that sounds a bit paradoxical, it is. He’s God, I’m not (thankfully). Whenever I try to put Him into human terms I get something that doesn’t quite fit.

It’s a mystery, and I’m fine with that. Mystery only means I don’t know everything, it doesn’t mean I know nothing. I’m comfortable admitting that I don’t know everything about God and how He works.

All of this is just my way of saying that I’m responsible for setting goals and accountable for working toward them. Yes, I pray for the Spirit’s guidance, and I believe I receive it. But I’m expected to do my part.

I’m thinking of several well-known Christian leaders who sell lots of books, speak to large groups, and wield considerable influence. Some, I think, seem primarily interested in business success, being the center of an empire, and promoting themselves. Others are primarily motivated to speak from the heart about Jesus.

Their business success does not prove that God blesses the heart behind it. Plenty of unscrupulous people build highly-successful enterprises. I also don’t believe that smaller degrees of success, or even failure, indicate that God didn’t favor a particular endeavor.

And I’m not always able to know which is which. Making that judgment—it’s far above my pay grade.

My job is to do my best with the time, talent, and treasure I’m given. That includes seeking God’s guidance, but it also includes strategic planning, goal setting, developing my network, learning new skills, and many other activities that are my responsibility. Doing them well increases the likelihood of success. Doing them poorly, or skipping them and waiting for God to make something happen, is an irresponsible waste of the resources He’s entrusted to me.

Mainly, what I ask from the Spirit is to show me when my heart, my motives, and my true, inner intentions are self-centered. I believe that if I keep my desire focused on Him I’ll be okay.

So I’m beginning the wrapping-up/planning-for-the-future process. I’ll share some of that, and I’d love to hear how you’re looking back and looking forward.

My guess is that some of you disagree with my perspective. That’s why I wrote this entirely in first-person. It’s the way I see it for me, the best I can discern at this point. I’m entirely open to the possibility that I’m wrong.

So how do you see this tough issue?

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

If you were to meet yourself on the street some morning….

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way!” Psalm 139:23-24

It will be worth our while–to think seriously of the things in us–that only God can see. There are sins which are hidden from ourselves, of which our conscience is not aware–our unknown errors. The evil in us which lies too deep to be discovered. There is a SELF in us, which even we ourselves do not see! There are depths of our being–into which our own eyes cannot pierce. You may say that you know of no sins, errors, or faults in yourself, and you may be sincere; still this is not evidence that you are sinless.

Our conscience is not the final court. It is not enough to have the approval of our own heart. There are errors and evils in the holiest life on earth–which only God’s eye can detect. We must ask God to search us, if we would be made clean.

We cannot see our own faults–even as our neighbors can see them. There is wisdom in the wish that we might see ourselves, as others see us–for it would free us from many a blunder and foolish notion.

We are prejudiced in our own favor. We are disposed to be charitable toward our own shortcomings. We make all sorts of allowances for our own faults. We are wonderfully patient with our own weaknesses. We are blind to our own blemishes. We look at our good qualities through magnifying glasses; and at our faults and errors with the lenses reversed–making them appear very small. We see only the best of ourselves.

If you were to meet yourself on the street some morning
–that is, the person God sees you to be–you would probably not recognize yourself!

We remember the little story that the prophet Nathan told King David, about a rich man’s injustice toward a poor man, and how David’s anger flamed up. “This man must die!” cried the king. He did not recognize himself–in the man he so despised, until Nathan quietly said, “You are the man!”

We are all too much like David.

If the true chronicle of your life were written in a book, in the form of a story, and you were to read the chapters over–you probably would not identify the story as your own!

We do not know our real self. We do not imagine there is so much about us that is morally ugly and foul, that is positively wicked. But God searches and knows the innermost and hidden things of our heart!

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way!”

~ J. R. Miler, “Looking One’s Soul in the Face” 1912

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Do You Belong In Bethlehem?

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

What would Jesus think if I showed up in Bethlehem?
I’ve been trying to spend some time each day during this Christmas season at the nativity scene, wondering about the thoughts, emotions, and experiences of each character. And I found myself wondering how Jesus would respond to the presence of a disabled person in that holy circle.

I’d probably try to stay away. I’d list endless excuses to stay in my own warm, safe environment and let someone else go.

I don’t do cold very well. Bethlehem isn’t wheelchair accessible—no pavement, dirty streets filled with all sorts of obstacles. So when I showed up I’d be reluctant, maybe even angry or bitter. Would He notice? Would it matter?

I always interrupt. I’d need help across the rough floor. Perhaps one of the Magi or a shepherd would leave his place to assist, or maybe an angel would clear a path for me. One of the animals might need to move. I hate causing so much commotion.

They came to see Him, not to help me. Would my presence break the mood?

I’d need a place near the front. Someone else might move farther away so I could see from my seated perspective.

Everyone wants the good seats, the best places. Everyone wants to be close to Jesus. Would my special need cause resentment?

Others brought gifts. My hands fumble with wrapping, and the ruts and bumps and jolts make carrying a package impossible.

I didn’t bring anything with eternal symbolic value or meaning. Would He think I wasn’t grateful?

Everyone else kneels in worship and praise, but I can’t assume the customary posture of humility. I can only slump forward and hope muscle spasms don’t cause me to lurch onto the floor. I don’t look like I’m worshipping.

Would the others question my sincerity? Would He be offended?

I’m crashing a party for special guests. The Magi received an astrological invitation along with the first GPS directions. Shepherds were summoned by an angel’s proclamation. But I just showed up with no special summons.

Nobody will compose a carol about a wheelchair and a manger. I won’t have a part in the Christmas programs. Would my presence destroy the symmetry of a carefully choreographed eternal moment?

Perhaps I should just hang back and observe from a respectful distance. I don’t fit in; I don’t want others making a fuss. I can’t really participate anyway.

I don’t belong here.

# # # # #

You see it, right? The excuses and self-pity, the misplaced focus that completely misses the point of the gathering?

IT’S NOT ABOUT ME!

It’s not about neatly wrapped gifts or carefully chosen guests. It’s not about bumpy floors or animal poop in my wheels or who gets to sit in front.

It’s not about whether I go. It’s about the fact that He came.

What makes you feel like you don’t belong?

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

Rulers And Rebels

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Just tell me the rules!

Have you ever reached that point? You can’t see a way forward or you’re not sure which way to turn and you just want a step-by-step guide?

The Internet thrives on this human desire for an instruction manual. You can get rich without labor, lose weight without sweat, and find the perfect mate without risk. Just send $19.95, and if you hurry we’ll throw in a set of steak knives.

We all know it doesn’t work that way, right? But when the storm hits and the water’s rising, I suspect we’d all like Seven Simple Steps To Drain The Swamp.

I’ve been thinking about Rules, Games and Life and my observation that life doesn’t work like a game. Today I’d like to take apart our natural approaches to rules. I see two general tendencies: rulers and rebels.

Rulers

make rules to force compliance with their version of absolutes. They construct elaborate codes to address every contingency, then add new layers of rules about rules to close loopholes. Rulers derive power by controlling others’ behavior.

Rulers don’t create unified, growing long-term communities because their circles are based on coercion and force. People tend to enter and remain out of fear, so rulers retain control by fostering apprehension among the people in their circles.

Rebels

defy authority and actively assert autonomy from rulers.

Rebels often have an interesting relationship with rules. They believe rules were made to be broken and loopholes to be discovered and exploited. Yet they’re quick to assert their rights and demand the protection of laws when it’s expedient. They frequently justify choices by citing technicalities that make their behavior “legal.”

Articulate, charismatic rebels attract incredibly cohesive communities. People rally when confronted by a common threat, and “the man” provides an easy, convenient enemy. Accomplished rebels identify and demonize the enemy, skillfully amplifying the threat of an amorphous “they” who’s out to get “us” because we won’t adhere to their expectations.

Rulers and rebels have a lot in common.

Both groups derive their identity from their relationship to rules. Rulers create and enforce, rebels defy and resist. Rules unite their communities and define the borders of their circles.

Both groups are highly invested in identifying “us” and “them.” They undermine proper order and trample obvious moral standards. They demand arbitrary compliance with random, unnecessary expectations.

Both groups need an enemy to unite their communities. No enemy, no one to fear. No enemy, no one to defy.

Ruler/Rebel is a continuum. Most folks probably live somewhere near the middle. They’re sometimes rulers, sometimes rebels.

It’s also interesting that the extremes resemble each other. Extremist rebel leaders encourage compliance with their non-conformist mantra, while extremist rulers actively oppose competing sets of rules. Religious and political personalities, pundits, talk show hosts, and celebrity media types often control by rebellion. Their rhetoric is more about opposition than promotion of an agenda.

A Third Option

To me, life seems like a very wide road with a lot of latitude for choice. Yes, there are boundaries, those white lines that define the edges. But unless I want to rob banks or sell heroine to kids, those lines don’t limit my choices much. I don’t find myself frequently wanting to commit murder or cheat widows out of their savings, and I’m betting that you don’t either. So “what’s legal” doesn’t really impact my choices.

The point is that I’m relatively free to choose my own lane.

Rulers use fear to narrow the road. They’d like us to believe that anyone outside their particular lane is on the road to hell and wants to take the rest of us along. Followers remain in the “straight and narrow” due to fear and obligation.

To me, their arbitrary restrictions seem irrelevant. Acknowledging their silly lines only feeds their sense of power.

Rebels actually take the rulers’ imaginary markings seriously. They purposely live at the edges and congratulate each other for violating borders that don’t even exist.

Seems like the third option involves simply ignoring the rulers’ fear-mongering.  Their lines have no relevance unless I choose to acknowledge their existence. This also makes rebelling sort of silly. What’s the point of consciously defying imaginary limitations?

WDJD? (what did Jesus do)

Jesus reserved his harshest words for those who turned worship into exhaustive, detailed lists of expectations and requirements. He knew that following rules out of fear could never lead to open, authentic relationship. He doesn’t care about religion, because He wants pure hearts.

But Jesus wasn’t into rebellion, either. He chose the path of service and sacrifice, not because He had to or needed to. He chose His path because He loved you and me.

One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” [Matthew 22:35-40]

When I understand that no one else can define the “right” lane for me without my permission, I’m free to follow Jesus. When I stop worshipping—following or defying—human-created rules, I’m free to choose agape.

Agape means real freedom. It’s not about conformity or non-conformity, it’s about choosing surrender. I believe Jesus invites us to follow Him along the blue line, the line of love. I believe it’s the path for which we were created, the path to intimacy and authentic freedom.

I don’t follow His lead very well. I often try to define my own path and tell Him where we should go. I picture Him smiling as I struggle furiously to make my way work or explain why I really know what’s best.

I’m thankful for grace, for the knowledge that He forgives my futile rule-making and silly rebellion. I’m thankful that Jesus never leaves His path of unconditional love.

I’m thankful that He continually, gently invites me to rejoin Him.

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

Do You Watch Your Words?

Friday, December 10th, 2010

“For by your words you will be justified,
and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:37).

Okay, let me preface this by reminding you that I didn’t say this, Jesus did. And that puts the statement in serious perspective, doesn’t it?

When we were kids we often heard/proclaimed the singsong taunt, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” But it wasn’t true, was it? Our words do hurt. They sting, they wound, they injure. And Jesus said we would be held accountable for them.

“I just tell it like it is” is a common excuse for blasting someone with both barrels, but would we be so quick to fire away if we first remembered that those very words would be brought into account when we stand before God one day? And why bring this subject up at Christmas, anyway?

For the very reason that it is Christmas, that’s why. The One who spoke those words while He walked this earth first came as a Baby, humble yet royal, to show us how to live—and then to die in our place. Though the majority of people will ultimately reject that priceless gift, those of us who accept it have no excuse for cutting people down with our words. Ephesians 4:15 admonishes us to speak the truth “in love” so that we “may grow up in all things into Him.” Mature believers seek God’s help to restrain their lips from speaking hurt and injury to others just to satisfy their own selfishness, and instead to speak truth in love, with the purpose being to bring life and healing and reconciliation.

As we go about our many busy activities this Christmas season, may we remember the words of the One whose birthday we celebrate and weigh our words before we speak them. There is enough negativity being proclaimed by those who don’t know Christ; let’s counter that by speaking love and life and joy to ears and hearts that so desperately need to hear them.

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”


and


“Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers of Today”

Her new novels:
No Greater Love
More than Conquerors
The author can be reached at: http://www.kathimacias.com

Overindulge? Who Me?

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

2 Peter: 1:5-6: “Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness.”

I turned on the TV to hear the news and the weather report. In a commercial, the person said this is the season “of overspending and overindulging.”

Years ago, a friend told me she gains 10-15 pounds every Christmas season. My mind pictured her in January with her eyes bulging out of her head as she tried to squeeze into her jeans. Vaseline on her legs wouldn’t have helped her slide her body into those jeans.

An acquaintance told me that when his credit card bill from last Christmas came it was as high as the national debt.

No wonder God tells us to add self-control and perseverance to our faith. Let’s post this Scripture on the pantry and refrigerator doors. Let’s memorize it to help us practice self-control and perseverance when we shop or eat. Those who drink alcohol can also use this passage to help them.

Dear God, help me exercise self-control and perseverance. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Application: How will you avoid overindulgence this week?

—-

Note: “Surviving the Holidays with a Dysfunctional Family” Workshop will be lead my Yvonne online in the CIR Chat Rooms
Sunday December 12 at
8:30PM Eastern | 7:30PM Central | 5:30PM Pacific | 1:30AM GMT/UTC
Lead by Yvonne Ortega LPC, LSATP, CCDVC

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Copyright 2010, Yvonne Ortega, , LPC, LSATP, CCDVC
All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.

Yvonne is a Speaker, Author, Counselor, Cancer Survivor and
serves on the Board of Directors of Christians in Recovery.

She is the author of Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer.

Visit her website: http://YvonneOrtega.com

We Must Submit All Our Requests to Him

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010


(J. R. Miller, “Readings from the Psalms”, 1912)

“No good thing will He withhold, from those who walk uprightly.” Psalm 84:11

This may seem to be a surprising statement at first glance. Does God withhold no good thing from His people? We must focus on the word “good”. It is not merely the things which we want–that God always gives. Nor is it not the things which we think are good–that God gives. Perhaps they are not really ‘good things’–as God sees them. We must always leave to Him–to decide whether they are good or not. He is wiser than we are–and knows just what effect on us, the things we crave would have. We must submit all our requests to Him–for final revision and approval, when we make them.

This is the teaching about prayer, so prominent in the New Testament, which bids us to add to all our most earnest pleadings: “Nevertheless not my will–but may Your will be done.” If the thing we ask for does not come–we must therefore conclude that in God’s sight, it is not a “good thing” for us. Thus it is–that God’s withholdings are as great a blessing to us–as His bestowings!

There is another phrase here, which we must study. It is “from those who walk uprightly” that God will withhold no good thing. It is only when we are walking obediently, in God’s ways–that we have a right to claim this promise. For, “if I regard iniquity in my heart–the Lord will not hear me!” Psalm 66:18

~ J. R. Miller, “Readings from the Psalms”, 1912

What’s the right thing to do?

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

I suspect we’ve all asked ourselves that question—many times. Life has a way of dropping non-black-and-white problems in my lap, and for some reason I seem to have misplaced the directions.

Last week I talked a little about using games as a metaphor for life (Right Or Not Right?). Today I’d like to share a couple of stories. Both events are real. I’ve altered names and details.

Story #1

A friend (I’ll call him Greg) coaches cross-country at a large high school. A few years ago his team ran in the state meet. My friend and his team were elated when the scores were tallied and they were proclaimed State Champions!

As the athletes celebrated, Greg looked over the results sheet. He felt pretty certain that one of his runners had been accidentally misplaced.

Coaches and athletes work a lifetime to earn a state championship. No one else noticed the mistake. The judges, the other coaches—they all should have been more diligent.

Neither Greg nor his runners broke any rules. Greg wasn’t a race official—scoring wasn’t his job. The officials compiled scores and handed out trophies.

Story #2

“Kristopher” was doing his part to support the economy on Cyber Monday. On a popular shopping site he discovered a “mistake price” on an item. A misplaced decimal point transformed a $900 item into a $9 bargain!

Kristopher didn’t post the wrong price—he wasn’t even looking for it. $9 is the official listed price. One click would save $891. He’s not breaking any laws; he’s only buying an item at the price posted on the company’s web site.

What should he do with this unexpected gold mine? Should he buy the one item he needs at the big discount, or grab several to maximize the savings? Why not email his friends so they can jump in before the company discovers the error?

Any of these choices would be legal, clever, and smart. The mistake’s not his fault. The company should be more careful and diligent, right?

# # # # #

All Greg has to do is keep quiet and his team will be State Champions. All Kristopher has to do is click a button to profit from a loophole and legally save a lot of money.

Why shouldn’t each guy use the rules to his advantage?

Pretending that life works like a game deludes me into harming myself and others while hiding behind the pretense that I’m just “following the rules.” It’s an illusion that allows me to justify and rationalize, using false assumptions about rules and rights to mask deceit, deception, and dishonesty.

Life isn’t a game. A game is an artificial environment created and governed by its rules. No rules—no game. Life’s not that simple.

In a game …

  • The goal is to win—within the rules.
  • The rules are clear, unambiguous, and universally accepted by the participants.
  • The rules define right and not-right.
  • Winning through deception—within the rules—is encouraged and rewarded.
  • Discovering and exploiting loopholes is clever strategy.
  • Breaking a rule and escaping detection is cheating.

In life…

  • Each individual defines success and establishes goals.
  • There are few clear, universally-accepted rules.
  • Right and not-right can’t be codified.
  • Winning through deception—as long as it’s legal—is _____ (crafty, shrewd, …)?
  • Discovering and exploiting loopholes is _____ (creative, innovative, …)?
  • Breaking a rule and escaping detection is _____ (clever, lucky, …)?

In a game I’m expected to take advantage of others’ errors and devise clever ways to use the rules to my advantage. It’s the other guy’s responsibility to be diligent.

A game is by nature based on scarcity. I win only if others lose. Alliances must advance my chances of winning.

In my view, life was never designed to operate like a game.

Life lived well …

  • is about what’s right rather than my rights.
  • trusts in abundance instead of fearing scarcity.
  • values sacrifice and service above personal gain.
  • rests on eternal principles, not short-term results.
  • centers on relationship and agape, not manipulation or exploitation of advantage.

I don’t want the job of morality cop for others. I’ve made plenty of bad choices and cut more than my share of corners. I’ve justified and gotten by with plenty of not-right behavior. Painful experience convinces me that complying with technicalities (or not-getting-caught) don’t substitute for doing what’s right.

So how did the stories end?

As his kids accepted the trophy in jubilation, Greg asked the officials to take another look. That’s the only reason they discovered the mistake.

Greg gathered his runners and explained the circumstances. Joy turned to confusion and then tears. Greg’s team found the rightful winners and handed over the cherished trophy.

From my perspective, he did the only right thing. He understood that life’s not a game. Greg’s a hero.

Kristopher sent an email and urged his friends to grab the deal before the company caught its error. I clicked on the link, and stared at the opportunity to save $891.

It’s a big company—they won’t miss the money. If I don’t buy it, someone else will. I’ll use the extra money for good. And besides, that company never gave me a break.

I was tempted, and I’m sad about that. It’s a great reminder not to judge the speck in the other person’s eye.

Tomorrow I’m going to look at two common approaches to rules and try to understand a third, and much better, option.

What are your thoughts about this notion of approaching life like a game?

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

Unexpected Grace

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Are you willing to surprise someone with unexpected grace?

Our pastor asked that question yesterday. I hate it when a speaker tosses out a nugget like that—I don’t think I heard much of the rest of his message.

Surprised by unexpected grace.

That’s precisely what God did for me. I truly believed I’d wasted the life He gave me, that I’d passed the point of no return. I thought I’d messed up too badly to ever find redemption. I saw myself as an irretrievably lost soul.

My heart couldn’t embrace what my head knew about forgiveness.

Then the injury happened. For a decade I wandered in total darkness, absolutely certain that I was so lost that even God couldn’t find me. Frankly, I wasn’t sure He was even searching.

Possibility, hope, new beginning—those weren’t even intellectual realities any longer. Purpose, meaning, relationship—those died in the ER, and I wished for my useless body to join them.

God surprised me with unexpected grace. Darkness receded. The Light of the world revealed a path marked by unmerited joy and unearned love. Where I perceived only pain and hopelessness, the Light revealed a journey filled with promise and potential.

God proved that life is always about second (and third and fourth and…) chances. He placed people in my path who refused to allow me to quit, who wouldn’t be pushed away no matter how hard I tried. They surprised, and shocked, me by demonstrating unexpected grace.

Ever wonder if you matter?

I’ve experienced how God uses people to be “Jesus in t-shirts and blue jeans.” You are that person on somebody’s path. Might be someone close, a casual acquaintance, or a total stranger. Someone needs you to reflect the Light.

In the forward to Relentless Grace I wrote that the story was God’s, not mine. That sounds like one of those things writers say with almost false humility, but it’s absolutely the truth. I couldn’t have created the story—God surprised me with unexpected, relentless grace. And He did it through people just like you.

(Self-serving aside: if you’re looking for an inspirational gift, we’re having a sale on print and audio versions of Relentless Grace. Details here.)

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds… [Hebrews 10:24]

Enjoy this amazing video, and think about who needs you to be “Jesus in a t-shirt and blue jeans.”

If you can’t see the video, click here.

Who can you surprise today with unexpected grace?

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

What is Your True Treasure?

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Matthew 6:21, NKJV

Jesus’ words about treasure ring especially true and relevant in this pre-Christmas season, don’t they? It is a time when we who claim to worship and follow the King of Kings, whose birthday we celebrate on Christmas Day, are often put to the test during these weeks of frenzied shopping and spending. That test is summed up in this question: Where is our treasure? As Jesus said, the answer to that question reveals where our heart is.

I once attended a church service where the pastor was teaching on this verse, and early on in his sermon he asked a lady in the front row if he could borrow her purse. She hesitated a moment before agreeing. The pastor then set her purse on the pulpit and proceeded with his teaching. Throughout the remainder of the service, we in the congregation couldn’t help but notice that the woman’s eyes never left the pulpit, even when the pastor walked around the stage as he spoke. It was a powerful illustration of his message.

And not one that didn’t speak loudly and clearly to my heart, I might add. I certainly couldn’t think ill of the woman for wanting to keep her purse in sight, as we women don’t like being separated from our purses, do we? We keep not only our checkbooks, cash, and credit cards in there, but so much else that seemingly identifies us, such as family pictures and other mementos. But ultimately, what does that say about our hearts? Is it possible that as believers we still have a lot of growing and maturing to do when it comes to understanding our true treasures?

In the two verses preceding Jesus’ statement that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” He cautioned us against focusing on amassing temporal treasures here on earth rather than eternal ones in heaven. Then, in verse 33, He summed it up like this: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

Jesus wanted us to understand that the Father knows our needs, and we can trust Him to meet them. What the Father desires from us is a heart that truly seeks Him, first and always. May we actively do so today, throughout the Christmas season, and all year long, as we add to our treasures in heaven and experience the joys of a caring and faithful Father who faithfully meets all our needs “according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

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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”

Her new novels:
No Greater Love
More than Conquerors
The author can be reached at: http://www.kathimacias.com