Archive for March, 2011


Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

This weekend’s tragedy in Japan inspires today’s word-of-the-week…


Tens of millions of Japanese awoke to an everyday Friday. Then a devastating earthquake and an even more catastrophic tsunami turned their world upside-down.

I know that feeling. Twenty-three years ago I decided to put some simple Christmas lights on my house, and a freak accident changed everything.

Last week I faced the prospect of additional spinal surgery with an uncertain outcome. All of this teaches me one undeniable fact:

Stuff happens. Things change, and often there’s not much warning and not much we can do about it.

And you can’t really prepare for it. You can’t prepare for a tsunami or a spinal cord injury. Sometimes horrible changes happen and you have to decide how you’re going to respond.

Some changes are exciting, some are heartbreaking. Sometimes we celebrate, sometimes we endure, and sometimes we throw up our hands in despair.

But change happens, and much of it doesn’t make sense.

I know God’s absolutely sovereign, and I don’t understand why He allows such events. I suppose it has something to do with the broken creation, but that seems a little simplistic for someone whose life and lived ones were washed out to sea.

Change happens. I know God works for good in even the most difficult circumstances. I know He wants me to trust Him and do my best to respond as His Son’s follower.

Often that’s not what I want. But it’s enough.

This week will bring changes. How will you respond?

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

Absolute Truth

Monday, March 14th, 2011

What do you know for sure?

I’ve been writing a lot lately about questions and mystery and uncertainty. I think those are good things, but I always seem to go a bit too far.

A lot of Christians seem to know everything about everything, and I think I overreact by asking questions just to poke at an over-inflated sense of self-assurance. I fear that I appear to insert question marks where God placed exclamation points.

Some questions just break my heart; I encountered one of those last week.

Where will I go?

“When I die, will I go to heaven or hell?”

I shook my head sadly. How can someone who knows Jesus as Savior be tormented by such a fundamental uncertainty? What must happen that someone can read the Bible, pray, sit in church every week, and still not know with absolute assurance where their soul will spend eternity?

I don’t know much, but I know this for sure: I will spend eternity in community with the Trinity. What that looks like, how it works—those are mysteries. But I will be united with Love.

That’s the reality of grace, for me and for anyone else who accepts Jesus. I don’t deserve it, can’t earn it; it’s a gift freely given out of sacrificial agape.

Those of us who follow Jesus mess up, just like everyone else. We fail, disappoint those who count on us, and do what we don’t want to do. We fall short of the mark, and there’s absolutely nothing we can do about it. But because of faith in Jesus, none of that can separate us from God.

Super glue

My wife offers one of my favorite images. She reminds me that all of my mistakes and faults and sins are recorded on two facing pages for God to see. Nothing is missed.

At the cross, Jesus coated those pages with super glue and slammed them together. They can’t be separated. All of that stuff is gone. Because of Jesus, when God opens the book He sees clean, white pages.

That’s the gospel, the Good News. It’s the truth.

Lots of times, the questions matter more than the answers.

This isn’t one of those times.

Do you KNOW this good news—absolutely, for sure?

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

A.A., Charlie Sheen, and David Arquette

Friday, March 11th, 2011

This Is All about the News Accounts

I believe it was the famous star and commentator Will Rogers who said: “All I know is what I read in the newspapers.” And, while I have 24-plus years in A.A., the only thing I know about Charlie Sheen and David Arquette is what I’ve watched almost daily on TV and seen in the news stories. The gist of the news seems to be that A.A. is mentioned in most of the accounts.

Charlie Sheen has blasted A.A.. And David has just celebrated 60 days of sobriety in A.A. despite his recent auto accident. What a difference!

Alcoholics Anonymous and What It Offers

Early A.A.-with the 75% success rate early A.A. claimed among its “seemingly-hopeless” and “medically-incurable” pioneers; and early Cleveland A.A.’s documented 93% success rate, and its growth from one group to 30 in a year-offers a compelling lesson for those who enter 12-Step programs today.

Following his visit to Akron in February 1938, Frank Amos, John D. Rockefeller, Jr.’s agent, summarized the original Akron A.A. “Program” in seven points. Here are those points, as quoted on page 131 of the A.A. General Service Conference-approved book Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers (New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1980):

  • An alcoholic must realize that he is an alcoholic, incurable from a medical viewpoint, and that he must never drink anything with alcohol in it.
  • He must surrender himself absolutely to God, realizing that in himself there is no hope.
  • Not only must he want to stop drinking permanently, he must remove from his life other sins such as hatred, adultery, and others which frequently accompany alcoholism. Unless he will do this absolutely, Smith and his associates refuse to work with him.
  • He must have devotions every morning-a “quiet time” of prayer and some reading from the Bible and other religious literature. Unless this is faithfully followed, there is grave danger of backsliding
  • He must be willing to help other alcoholics get straightened out. This throws up a protective barrier and strengthens his own willpower and convictions.
  • It is important, but not vital, that he meet frequently with other reformed alcoholics and form both a social and a religious comradeship.
  • Important, but not vital, that he attend some religious service at least once weekly.
  • The message carried by the successful ones-a message that can still be found in the fourth edition of Alcoholics Anonymous, A.A.’s “Basic Text” (affectionately known as the “Big Book”)-was: “God has done for me what I could not do for myself.” A.A. cofounder Bill Wilson was even more specific. According to page 191 of the fourth edition of the Big Book, Bill stated to the wife of A.A. Number Three (Bill D.):

    Henrietta, the Lord has been so wonderful to me, curing me of this terrible disease, that I just want to keep talking about it and telling people.”

    Bill’s cofounder partner, Dr. Bob, put it emphatically in the last line of his personal story quoted on page 181 of the fourth edition of the Big Book:

    Your Heavenly Father will never let you down!

    Many in today’s A.A. don’t subscribe to the statements in the foregoing paragraph.  But tens, if not hundreds of thousands, do.

    Regrettably, the news accounts today simply don’t mention the help of God as an option for the afflicted alcoholic and drug addict.

    The Charlie Sheen Story

    By all news accounts, Charlie may be clean, but he clearly still needs help. The key question is does he really want the help he needs to stay clean and sober. And if so, what kind of help does he want? There is no mention of God. There is lots of condemnation of A.A. The TV gurus who talk about his problems have claimed several possibilities: (1) He is in the throws of typical and severe withdrawal. (2) He is hypomanic. (3) He is narcissistic. (4) He is bipolar. (5) He is in great danger; and, some say, needs an intervention.

    What about Charlie? He rants on and on, and frequently suggests he is “Winning.”

    Many years back, a well-known A.A. oldtimer in Marin County, California-an alcoholic for sure-told of his incarceration in a mental ward. Finally, as he was about to be discharged, he remonstrated to the gatekeeper that he was still crazy. The reply was: “If you don’t drink, maybe nobody will notice it.”

    Many of us watch the erratic behavior, have seen it before among some AAs, and just wonder if Charlie will recognize that-with his admitted use of seven grams of coke on at least one occasion-there’s not much chance that anyone will be sure if he’s crazy or not. Lots of us might point out, however, that if he will decide to quit alcohol and drugs once and for all, turn to God for help, stick to his guns in treatment and A.A., and start helping others, maybe nobody will notice the mental diagnoses.

    The David Arquette Story

    I know practically nothing about David Arquette. I read that he just celebrated 60 days of sobriety in A.A. I read that he was in an auto accident, swerving into the other lane. I read that he was sober and refused pain pills. And I read that he hustled himself off to an A.A. meeting. No mention in the news of God, the Big Book, the Twelve Steps, a Sponsor, or the frequency ofhis attendance at A.A. meetings. And nothing about his helping others.

    But, at 60 days of sobriety in A.A., enmeshed in his typical recovery problems, it was refreshing to see that he was doing something about his alcoholism problem and refraining from blaming it on A.A. or someone else. It takes time to recover. And it’s good to see someone is bending an effort to bring recovery about.

    I hope to see that Arquette has also turned to God for help, cleaned house, and decided to devote himself to helping others-as a few of the other successfully-recovered celebrities have done.

    © 2011 Anonymous. All rights reserved
    [Dick B. is a writer, historian, retired attorney, Bible student, CDAAC, and an active and recovered member of the A.A. fellowship. He has published 42 titles and over 500 articles on the history of Alcoholics Anonymous and on the Christian recovery movement]

    A whole Christ must be received–with the whole heart

    Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

    “Yet to all who received Him . . . He gave the right to become children of God”  John 1:12

    A whole Christ must be received–with the whole heart.

    Some in their understanding, assent to the way of salvation–yet do not consent to it with their will. In judgment they are for Christ–but in affection they are for other things. There is only a part of their soul that is for Christ. Others would have the benefits that are from Christ–but have no love for the person of Christ.

    Some would have Christ only as a Savior–but not as a Lord. They desire Him only as a Priest to offer a sacrifice for their sins–but not as a Prophet to instruct them, nor as a King to rule over them. So that it is but part of Christ, that they would receive.

    But both of these courses are equally dangerous; for, if we would be saved, we must cleave to Christ with all the faculties of the soul–with will, judgment, affection, etc. And so, again, we must cleave to the whole of Christ–Christ in His natures, person, offices, etc. If, therefore, you would rightly receive Christ, see that your whole soul receives a whole Christ.

    ~ Thomas Sherman, “Aids to the Divine Life–A Series of Practical Christian Contemplations” 1680

    A Question About Service

    Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

    Has a question ever told you something important about yourself?

    Last time I said I love questions (God And Tough Questions). That doesn’t mean the questions are always comfortable or that I’m happy with my responses.

    Encouraging real questions means embracing uncertainty and imperfection. When you work with adolescents you learn that you often have to reconsider a spontaneous reaction.

    One of the really enjoyable aspects of my public speaking gigs is Q&A time. Recently someone asked a great question that I sort-of answered at the time.

    Out of all the people who helped with your recovery, how did you select the characters you included in Relentless Grace?

    Wow. So many people helped and supported me, put up with my miserable attitude, and stuck with me when I tried so hard to give up. What an insightful question—what distinguished the handful whose stories make up this amazing story?

    I could be flippant and say I included the most memorable or outrageous incidents. That would get a chuckle from the audience, and I guess it’s partly true. But as I thought more I recognized a more significant distinction.

    Help or Serve

    Thinking back through the story, I noticed what I perceived as a difference between “help” and “serve.”

    Lots of people helped. They carried stuff and fixed stuff. They did things for me that I couldn’t do for myself. I appreciate all of it, though I sure didn’t show it at the time.

    But it seems like “helping” comes from a position of strength and superiority. You’re bigger and stronger, you have more resources, and you’re willing to help.

    Help seems to involve dependence—I need your help because you have something I don’t. I can’t do it without you.

    Service feels different. A servant willingly accepts a position of weakness or inferiority. Consider Jesus washing His disciples’ feet (John 13).

    Here’s a beautiful video of this demonstration of service. (If you can’t see the video, click here.)

    I’m not sure that helping and serving always look different from the outside. I think it might be less about what happens and more about the heart behind it.

    I don’t think Jesus came to help me, even though I need all the help I can get.

    I think He came to serve. I think that’s what it means to follow Him.

    Do “helping” and “serving” seem different to you? Do you see yourself as helper or servant?

    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

    God Is Not A Story Problem

    Monday, March 7th, 2011

    How do you “learn” about God?

    Remember “story problems” in math class?

    Story problems were supposed to show that you could “apply” what you “learned.” You had to determine the key words and produce the right answer to an inane question.

    Story problems were designed to enrich the subject and show you that math was relevant. Of course they usually dealt with situations nobody actually cared about, which mostly reinforced the notion that math had little to do with real life.

    Real problems, the kind of problems we actually encounter and care about, are messy. There’s rarely a single right answer and almost never a universal, step-by-step solution. Real problems just aren’t as simplistic as story problems.

    Math classes use artificial story problems because they “fit” and neatly reinforce a particular process. Teachers like them because they’re predictable and comfortable—there’s one right answer and one proper way to get that answer. Problems that don’t fit aren’t even considered.

    Story problems taught kids that math was about knowing facts, memorizing rules, and cranking out right answers. No wonder they thought math was boring and irrelevant.

    Does church do that?

    I wonder if church turns learning about God into a sort of artificial story problem.

    I wonder if church makes learning about God a comfortably predictable process of knowing the right facts, memorizing rules, and regurgitating pat answers. I wonder if that’s one reason so many folks perceive church as irrelevant and boring and simplistic.

    As a teacher I always used a simplified version of Bloom’s Taxonomy to show my students that learning was about more than knowledge (memorizing facts) and straightforward application (solving story problems). Real learning—learning that matters—must involve analyzing and creating.

    Every preacher talks about integrating faith into every part of our lives, making God part of Monday as well as Sunday. That’s a big behavior change, which is my working definition of real learning. And real behavior changes can’t happen at the knowing and applying levels.

    Thing is—analyzing and creating are messy and unpredictable. People ask hard questions that challenge your thinking, your opinions, and even some of your most closely-held beliefs. If you encourage folks to express curiosity, you get doubts and alternative views and solutions you never considered.

    If you’re serious you have to really listen and contemplate those alternatives. You have to accept, and even encourage, approaches you don’t like. You can’t react with simplistic platitudes. You have to be okay with “I don’t know.”

    This doesn’t mean “anything goes.” Truth and right theology matter. But I believe we broaden our notions about absolute truth to include a lot of opinions about which committed followers of Jesus can sincerely disagree.

    Be careful what you ask for

    If you want genuine curiosity and creativity you have to know the difference between core values and preferences. You have to care more about the best result than a pre-conceived “proper” process. And that means you have to be clear about what you’re really trying to accomplish.

    We claim we want people to be “real” about their faith. But I sense that certain social and political views simply aren’t acceptable. We marginalize and dismiss those who ask uncomfortable questions or who don’t conform to a narrow notion of what it means to “be Christian.”

    I knew kids who worked long and hard to discover unconventional approaches. Their alternatives often demonstrated more thought and deeper understanding that those who mimicked the standard methods, and many teachers dismissed or even mocked them.

    Here’s a test—you fill in the blanks.

    Real Christians take this position ________ on (fill in a controversial issue).

    Now ask yourself:

    Are you sure? Are you certain you’re not making God into a story problem?

    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

    God And Tough Questions

    Friday, March 4th, 2011

    What do you do with an uncomfortable question?

    I love questions.

    It wasn’t always so. As a newbie teacher, questions terrified me. I believed I should know every answer, that “I’m not sure” was a sign of weakness. I needed to be the expert, and experts know everything, right?

    I’m not thinking of the sort of simple questions that so frequently pass for discussion. What’s the cube root of 64? How do you do problem 8 in the homework?

    I’m talking about real questions, hard questions, the kind that make you scratch your head and wonder why you never thought of that.

    When you’re frightened by questions, you do silly things. You fill the air with your own words. You manipulate every interaction to avoid or dismiss uncertainties. You adhere to the trial lawyer’s rule: never ask a question to which you don’t already know the answer.

    When confronted with an unanticipated question, you dismiss it, mock the questioner, or make up an answer. Or you just ignore it and say something that has nothing to do with what was asked.

    In a classroom that’s afraid of questions, predictable things happen. First, kids stop asking real questions. They quickly learn what’s acceptable, what’s encouraged, and that’s the sort of questions they ask. Makes everyone feel good, as though something really important is happening—a lot like some church conversations.

    But they also learn that bizarre questions are a great way to derail the teacher, create chaos, and resist really engaging. They pose questions they really don’t care about, just to see if they can get things off course or get the teacher flustered. Often these are really smart kids who get a kick out of disrupting what they perceive as an orchestrated sham.

    One other sad result—kids learn to hide behind questions. They conceal their own fear or laziness with statements framed as questions.

    I think these dynamics translate to many of our conversations about God.

    And in church?

    I’m trying to draw parallels between learning in classrooms and learning about God. So here are a few principles I picked up along the way.

    The best teachers know what they know and what they don’t. Kids respect responses like “I’m not sure. Give me some time to think about that. That’s a great question. Tell me more. What do you think? Anyone else got any ideas?”

    Tell the truth. Might seem obvious, but kids appreciate honesty. Sometimes the answer to “why do we have to learn this?” is “because you’ll need it in your next math class.” Frank answers earn a lot of credibility.

    Ever wondered why this church does communion or baptism or music a particular way? Maybe it’s not a deep theological issue. Maybe it’s a preference, or it’s just the way we do it. That’s okay.

    If you want to get real questions, you have to ask them. If every question has a one-word right answer, kids figure it out quickly. They stop asking the messy, inconvenient questions that really matter, or they only ask to resist and disrupt.

    As a teacher, questions tell you a lot more than answers. Questions let you know what folks are really thinking and what’s important to them.

    The best answer to a question is frequently another question. Clarifying, expanding, gaining insight before responding is okay. Make sure you’re answering the REAL question rather than what you think you heard.

    Following Jesus is a journey filled with wonder and awe and mystery. As I discover I become more certain only that I don’t really get it.

    Unmerited grace and sacrificial infinite agape, a personal relationship with the Creator of the universe, an invitation to imitate the One who left Heaven and died for me—those are words far beyond my understanding. The best I’ll do on this side of eternity is chip away at the edges of what they really mean.

    I’ve learned to welcome real, messy questions. I’ve learned that sometimes the questions matter more than the answers, that sometimes seeking is more important than finding.

    I’ve also learned to be skeptical whenever someone claims to know all the answers.

    What questions frighten you?

    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 Control?

    Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

    Who’s in control?

    Ultimately, of course, God is in control. But what if we narrow the scope a bit? If I think about myself and my own reactions or responses, who’s in control?

    I asked that question earlier this week in a group of eighth grade boys. How do you think they answered?

    I worked with middle school kids for a long time, so their answer didn’t really surprise me. Still, I felt a sense of dismay as I listened to their convictions.

    These young men are absolutely convinced that others have the ability to “make” them lash out in anger or run away in terror. They truly believe that, in at least some situations, they’re powerless to determine how they respond. They think courage means fighting when someone challenges them.

    Isn’t that incredibly sad? And before you dismiss their feelings of powerlessness as adolescent immaturity, let’s wonder how many of us harbor more subtle versions of the same heartbreaking notion.

    How often does another driver cut in front of me, “causing” me to yell because he “made” me angry? Do I ever fall into the trap of gossip because “everyone else is doing it”?

    You made me afraid. She made me depressed. He made me sad. They made me lonely.

    Does any of this sound familiar? Am I the only one who habitually gives away my power to choose and blames someone else for my own internal interpretations and external reactions?

    These might be familiar statements, but they’re lies. No one else holds the power to “make” me angry or depressed or lonely. If I hadn’t been talking to those boys in a public school classroom, I might have reminded them that Jesus died so they could be free from that nonsense.

    It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. [Galatians 5:1]

    This passage usually refers to freedom from sin, but what’s more sinful than surrendering my own self-control and self-respect? What’s more sinful than handing over the self-worth and freedom for which Jesus died?

    I told those boys they were worthwhile and worthy of respect, not because of what they accomplished but because they were valuable as individuals. I told them they held the power to choose their responses. We worked through some activities, but I honestly don’t know if they believed me. It’s difficult to counter a lifetime of reacting and blaming.

    I wanted to tell them that they’re so worthwhile and worthy that Jesus died for their freedom.

    I wanted to tell them that Jesus “…did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
    but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant…and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! [Philippians 2:6-8]

    I wanted them to know that Jesus values them so much that He let go of being God and died for them.

    That’s the truth I couldn’t tell them in that setting.

    But it’s still the truth. You and I are so valuable that Jesus was willing to take our place and confront death so we could be free.

    The next time I’m tempted to blame someone else for my own reaction, I hope I’ll remember the price at which my freedom to choose was bought.

    Maybe I won’t give it away so cheaply.

    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

    Overcoming the World

    Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

    “For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” 1 John 5:4

    One of the fruits of the new birth, is a faith which not only enables its possessor to overcome the sensual and sinful customs, and the carnal maxims and policies by which the profane world is regulated–but also the lying delusions and errors by which the professing world is fatally deceived.

    The only thing which will or can “overcome the world” is a God-given–but self-exercised faith.

    Faith overcomes the world firstly, by receiving into the heart God’s infallible testimony of the world. He declares that “the world” is a corrupt, evanescent, hostile thing, which shall soon be destroyed by Him. His Holy Word teaches that the world is “evil” (Galatians 1:4); that “all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father–but is of the world” (1 John 2:16); that “the whole world lies in wickedness” (1 John 5:19) and shall yet be “burned up” (2 Peter 3:10). As faith accepts God’s verdict of the world, the mind is spiritually enlightened; and its possessor views it as a worthless, dangerous, and detestable thing!

    Faith overcomes the world secondly, by obeying the Divine commands concerning it. God has bidden us, “Do not be conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2); “Do not love the world, neither the things that are in the world” (1 John 2:15); and warns us that “Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world, becomes an enemy of God.” (James 4:4). By heeding the Divine precepts, its magic spell over the heart is broken.

    Faith overcomes the world thirdly, by occupying the soul with more glorious, soul-delighting and satisfying objects. The more the substance of the heavenly world engages the heart–the less hold will the shadows of this earthly world have upon it. “For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10).

    Faith overcomes the world fourthly, by drawing out the heart unto Christ. As it was by fleeing to Him for refuge, that the soul was first delivered from the power and thraldom of this world–so it is throughout the Christian life. The more we cultivate real communion with Christ–the less attraction will the baubles of this world have for us! The strength of temptation lies entirely in the bent of our affections, “for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). While Christ is beheld as “the chief among ten thousand” (Song 5:10) and as “altogether lovely” (Song 5:16) –the things which charm the poor worldling, will repel us.

    The world gains the victory over the unregenerate by captivating their affections and capturing their wills. But the Christian overcomes the world, because his affections are set upon Christ and his will yielded to Him.

    Here–then, we have a sure criterion by which we may determine our Christian progress or spiritual growth. If the things of this world have a decreasing power over me–then my faith is becoming stronger. If I am holding more lightly the things most prized by the ungodly–then I must be increasing in an experimental and soul-satisfying knowledge of Christ. If I am less cast down when some of the riches and comforts of this world are taken from me–then that is evidence they have less hold upon me.

    ~ Arthur Pink, “Faith as an Overcomer

    The Danger Of Hope

    Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

    Have you ever thought about “hope” as a dangerous thing?

    What made you think you could actually do something this big? It’s a great question, especially if you consider what’s behind it.

    I think most of us—myself included—think about “changing the world” as someone else’s role.

    Super powers

    We’re deluded into believing that world-changers are fundamentally different from the rest of us. They’re superheroes blessed with some special talent or vision. Nothing frightens or discourages them. They welcome adversity and laugh in the face of uncertainty and failure. World-changing is for Jesus and Ghandi and Mother Teresa.

    I believed that for a long time, and mostly I still act in those terms. I’m just an old bald guy in a wheelchair. All I ever did was teach math to squirrely adolescents. Who am I to think I can actually make any real difference?

    But every once in a while a strange thing happens—I actually take God seriously. I let the stuff about grace and forgiveness and new beginnings sneak behind my carefully crafted mask of insignificance. And when that happens, when I allow myself to comprehend what it all really means, everything changes.


    In the brief moments when I claim God’s promises I experience hope, an expectation based on faith.

    As soon as your notion of hope shifts from “wish” to “expectation,” you enter dangerous territory.

    The moment you accept the radical idea that you’re not insignificant, that God’s given you a unique set of gifts and the ability to use them, you really have only two choices. You either turn away in fear and go back to pretending that you’re really just an inconsequential speck of dust—or you step forward and face the frightening reality that your work and your life have eternal consequences. That’s an awesome responsibility.

    I’d do it if …

    God did not create you and me to be ordinary. He doesn’t want us to sit around and wish we could be special and accomplish amazing things. I think we mostly believe that we’d do great things if only we had that ability or that power or that financial security. That’s probably a self-delusion. Plenty of folks have all sorts of ability and power and money and never do anything extraordinary with them.

    We see the end result of a world-changing life; we ignore the thousands of seemingly small decision points that created that result. The terrifying reality is that we’re all one bold choice—and a great deal of hard work—away from changing our corner of the world.

    You’re one frightening choice away from being a remarkable parent, teacher, employee, spouse…whatever. God’s version of hope allows you to step out in faith, despite the evidence, and work until the evidence changes before your eyes.

    What made me think I could do something this big? In a moment of weakness I took God at His word.

    You need to be careful about that. God’s Word changes everything.

    What would happen if you shifted your notion of hope from a wish to an expectation based on faith?

    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