Archive for April, 2011

Perseverance

Friday, April 29th, 2011

James 1:4: “Perseverance must finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (NIV)

Last week I scrubbed the kitchen floor on my hands and knees to be sure to clean it well.

That same day, I spilled part of my dinner on the kitchen floor. The following morning, I spilled carrot juice on the same floor. Why didn’t those accidents happen before I scrubbed the floor?

I remembered Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” I laughed about that law as twice I wiped up a spill. However, God’s Word offered me another perspective.

I exercised perseverance when I scrubbed the kitchen floor week after week and wiped up accidents. I needed perseverance to finish its work, so that I might “be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

The King James Version uses the words “perfect and entire.” The New American Standard uses the words “perfect and complete.”

God uses our everyday tasks to make us more like him, perfect and complete.

Dear God, help me practice perseverance. Amen.

Application: What can you do toward becoming perfect and complete this week?

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Copyright 2011, 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

Are You Conformed or Transformed?

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2, NKJV).

I just finished taping the “Christianity in a Changing Culture” program out of Minneapolis, and the topic reminded me of the news I’d received late yesterday of the home-going of David Wilkerson. David authored several books, founded the outstanding Teen Challenge ministry that has helped so many get their lives back on track, and also founded the Times Square Church in New York City. Having known several people whose lives (not only on earth but for eternity) were personally changed as a result of this man’s ministry, I was deeply impacted by the news.

And yet I know that David is now rejoicing with the Savior he served so faithfully during his earthly sojourn. One of the things I remember most about this man of God is that he did not compromise God’s Word. Though he worked with some of the most dangerous elements of humanity, preaching the gospel to those who were hostile to his message, he never backed down from the Truth; he never compromised to adapt to a changing culture.

David understood the importance of not being “conformed to this world” in his thinking. He was not impressed with financial success or cowed by physical threats. His mind was focused on the One who had saved him and called him to preach the gospel to others who also needed salvation. Though I didn’t know David personally, I am certain that he was able to resist being conformed to the world’s skewed way of thinking because he was daily transformed by the renewing of his mind through the continual reading and studying of God’s Word.

I am always amazed when I meet Christians who have known Jesus for years and yet their words exhibit the world’s way of thinking. I’ve found that if I probe a bit, I soon learn that though they have been born again and may even attend church, they don’t practice personal, daily Bible study and prayer. Hence, they have allowed themselves to be conformed to the world rather than transformed by the power of God’s Word.

What was it that made David Wilkerson such an admired man of God? Was it his writing or speaking, his courageous ministry to street gangs and people with addictions? All those things were outgrowths of who he was in Christ and how he thought and lived, but the real key is that he was undoubtedly a man who refused to be conformed to the world and instead practiced the necessary disciplines to have his mind transformed to that of His Savior. May his legacy inspire us all to do the same, regardless of the changing culture in which we live!

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Copyright 2011 Kathi Macias, all rights reserved. Used by permission.
Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored 30 books.
“Beyond Me. Living a You-first Life in a Me-first World”


and


“Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers of Today”

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

What’s your typical reaction to a setback?

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

What’s your typical reaction to a setback?

Last week I described a setback.

I’m fortunate to be healing quickly, and anticipate trading my pajamas for shorts within a few days. Then we’ll get to work recovering the lost training and fitness.

I’m considering my reactions to this unwelcome interruption.

Frustration, for sure. But I also see that I was pushing through some tasks, trying to force them to happen at MY pace, and it wasn’t happening. These weeks have forced me to slow down, and while I waited a number of seemingly unrelated events fell into alignment. One might conclude that someone greater than “I” was at work.

I don’t necessarily believe God caused this illness to force me to slow down, but it’s clear that He used it to remind me that there’s wisdom in waiting, that all the hurrying and worrying isn’t going to change much. Romans 8:28 is still alive and well. God has used this event, as He uses all things, for good.

Fear. All joking aside, even minor skin issues where backside meets wheelchair can be debilitating, even life-threatening. I imagined months of rehab and potentially significant lifestyle alterations.

Turns out I was fortunate. While the infection was serious, there’s really no skin issue. It’s apparently a freak incident that might have happened to anyone.

I could probably search for some additional responses, but honestly there’s one that dominates…

Gratitude

Grateful…for two weeks in bed with an infected sore on my backside?

Well, not exactly. Grateful, I guess, that it wasn’t as serious as it might have been. And for good medical care, quick healing, a wife who drops everything to care for me. I’m surely grateful for those. But it’s something more.

It’s a renewed sense of new beginnings, the Easter promise, the opportunity to see something familiar from a new angle. It’s the difference between ‘two lost weeks’ and ‘two weeks of rest.’

There’s something here about not just getting through it. Appreciating the process and what I’ve learned from it is very different from appreciating the end of the process. And there’s something different about appreciating it while it’s happening and not after-the-fact.

It’s an odd sort of unexpected gratitude that occurs in the midst of an unpleasant event for which I’m certainly not thankful.

Have you experienced that kind of gratitude? How do you explain it?

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

Against All Hope

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Romans 4:18:  “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.'”

I spoke with someone recently whose son is still out of work. The situation looks hopeless, but she prays against all hope for a job for her son.

A friend told me she was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer seven years ago and given less a year to live. Against all hope, she prayed. She not only survived, she thrived.

Thirty years ago, a probation and parole officer told a young man he would never make it. Against all hope, today that man is alcohol and drug-free. He is an outstanding employee of an agency where he has worked for more than twenty-five years. He has a lovely wife and a beautiful home. Best of all, he and his wife know, love and serve the Lord.

Almost seventeen years ago, my marriage ended in divorce. My ex-husband immediately remarried. Against all hope, I fell before God and asked that he would not let the divorce be in vain but use it for good in my life and the lives of others. I never dreamed he would give me a national speaking and writing ministry.

What looks hopeless to you? Will you believe God for a miracle?

Dear God, teach me to believe in hope. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Application: Talk to God about a seemingly hopeless situation in your life.

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Copyright 2011, 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

Is it a Setback or a Tragedy?

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

How would you distinguish a setback from a tragedy?

Over the weekend I got sick. Friday night it was fever and raging headache, Saturday brought chills and endless sleep. Sunday it was all of the above, and even in manly denial I had to admit something might be wrong.

Arrived at ER per doc’s orders, and didn’t even have to check in. This might be serious.

They took samples of every possible bodily fluid while I shivered with a temp of nearly 103. Because I sit in a wheelchair, they rolled me over to check my skin.

”Uh Oh.”

There are some things you don’t want to hear in an ER. Generally, ”Uh Oh” is on that list.

A few more fun tests involving strangers staring at my bare backside confirmed that I’d developed a rather nasty infection. Treatment—antibiotics and no pressure on the affected area.

So I’m typing in bed, where I’m confined for all but 15-20 minute stretches. And I’m typing one-handed, since I can’t be on my back. So your daily chuckle can come from picturing a guy whose hands don’t work typing one-handed. I’ll let you imagine the gyrations involved in a question mark. No exclamations until further notice.

So what’s the point?

It’s a setback

I’m training for this big bike ride. It’s all planned. So much to do. Twenty-three years with no skin issues—why now?

I think through Jesus’ life and realize He faced lots of setbacks. Friends and enemies did all sorts of crazy things that made life harder than necessary. So I looked for some things He did to prevent setbacks from derailing Him.

He prayed. Whenever He felt tired or overwhelmed, He withdrew and talked to God.

He saw each setback as a teaching opportunity. Perhaps this is a time to learn patience, or to slow down and think creatively. It isn’t what I wanted, but I can learn from it.

He kept the big picture in mind. He knew a small setback wouldn’t prevent God from accomplishing His purpose.

Okay, my arm’s getting tired. Help me out by adding to the list.

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

New and Resurrected Life

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

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

Spring is nearly synonymous with new life—trees budding, flowers blooming, baby animals cavorting in pastures. As Christians, we know that new life—resurrected life—comes only from Jesus. But must we relegate that conscious knowing to the time we think of as the “Easter season”? We shouldn’t.

One of the most powerful statements in the entire Bible is found in Acts 13:30: “But God raised Him from the dead.” It’s as if that one short sentence—just seven little words—validates everything we believe. And it should be celebrated all year long.

Think about it. Would there even be a New Year’s celebration, based on the Roman calendar, if God hadn’t raised Jesus from the dead? Of course not. Despite His good deeds and exemplary life while He walked this earth, His name would have blurred into the mishmash of others who also did nice things and then faded into obscurity. It was His resurrection from the dead that validated His existence and, in turn, inspired the dividing line of B.C. and A.D. on our calendars.

What about Thanksgiving? Would there really be anything to celebrate with gratitude if God had not raised Jesus from the dead?

And then there’s Christmas—the “Royal Birth Day,” as I like to call it. Would we still recognize and celebrate Christ’s birth if He had stayed in the grave? I think not.

“But God raised Him from the dead” is the pivotal statement of our faith, the point around which all else in Christendom—and in the world and even in eternity—revolves. Without resurrection, we have no hope. There is nothing to celebrate or anticipate. As the Apostle Paul said, when stressing the importance and absolute necessity of the Resurrection, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” (1 Corinthians 15:19).

Our hope is not only in this life, but rather in the next. If God raised Jesus from the dead, we can rest assured that He will do the same for those of us who have accepted the Resurrected Christ as our Savior. Let’s celebrate the promise of resurrection—all year long!

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Copyright 2011 Kathi Macias, all rights reserved. Used by permission.
Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored 30 books.
“Beyond Me. Living a You-first Life in a Me-first World”

and


“Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers of Today”

She also writes novels:

No Greater Love

More than Conquerors

The author can be reached at: http://www.kathimacias.com

He Is Not Here

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Matthew 28:5-6: “The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.”

As I think of the women on their way to the tomb of Jesus, I laugh. They wondered how they would move that big stone in front of the tomb. When they arrived, the angel of the Lord was sitting on that very stone and told the women, “He is not here; he has risen.”

The angel told them to tell the disciples Jesus had risen and they would see him in Galilee (verse 7).

Verse 8 says the women were “afraid yet filled with joy.” If I had been with them, I probably would have felt the same way.

Easter is a few days away. We serve a living Lord and Savior. One day, he will return. “The dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive . . .  will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever”(1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).

In the midst of Easter egg hunts, Easter baskets, chocolate bunnies, and new clothes, let’s remember why we celebrate Easter. Hallelujah. He has risen. He has risen indeed.

Dear God, thank you for the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Amen.

Application: What can you do to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus this week?

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Copyright 2011, 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

Reminder

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

A young lady knocked on the door last week. “I wanted to remind you that next weekend is the anniversary of the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

“I knew that,” I replied, “but that’s the sort of thing that can never be remembered too often. Thank You.”

She smiled. “May I leave this?”

She handed me a picture of Jesus with a big smile, hands reaching toward me.

“Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.”

She smiled again and headed off to my neighbor’s door. No convincing or converting. Just a simple reminder.

Have a great week.

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

Church And Should

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Are you always clear about why you say “Yes” or “No” to particular things at church?

I’m not.

Jon Swanson wrote a great piece yesterday (A Public Service Reminder) about some of the conflicted feelings people experience around the special church events of Holy Week.

I get exactly what he’s saying.

I pretty much gave up going to church because “I’m supposed to.” I attend because it’s important to me, because the experience and the people and the teaching matter. On days when I don’t go, for whatever reason, I don’t feel guilty.

Most of the time I can distinguish “I’m not going” from “I don’t feel like going.” Feelings can be tricky; often the days I most need to go are the ones when I don’t feel like it. So I get my backside out the door, not because I’m supposed to, but because I know it’s the best thing for me.

Sometimes I think I should be more reverent or holy or involved in church stuff, as though words like that are somehow interchangeable. I know I get closest when I listen to God and my wife, respond to issues and gatherings that touch something in my heart, and give those my best efforts. I include Becky because she’s great about holding me accountable, which I appreciate. On my own, I’m pretty good at getting off track.

So what about those “special” services?

I don’t attend mid-week (Wednesday) services most of the year. My excuse is that our small group meets the same night, but honestly I probably wouldn’t go anyway. I do listen to the teaching occasionally online, if that gets me any extra credit points.

So—should I make a special effort to go during Holy Week?

It’s really part of a bigger question you might encounter—if someone hasn’t attended church for a long time, is it okay for them to show up on Easter?

What are your thoughts?

Are special Holy Week services important to you? Why? Is it tradition, a time to prepare your heart, a chance to gather with your church family in a sacred moment?

How much of this is about guilt and obligation and social pressure? If that’s the motivation, should folks just stay home?

I keep asking myself if Jesus cares who shows up, or why they show up. I keep wondering if He cares whether I show up.

I suspect He does.

How To Stay The Course

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Do you ever look in the mirror and see something you’d rather not see?

I’m learning something about myself that I don’t like very much.

I’m not very committed.

That’s difficult to admit. But it turns out that when the going gets tough, I tend to get going home.

Certainly I knew that about myself when it came to my injury. I gave up and quit in every way imaginable, and it’s only by God’s grace and faithfulness that I’m still moving forward. But I figured that was a pretty extreme circumstance.

However, I’m seeing a disturbing trend. In multiple situations, I throw up my hands in despair when obstacles appear.

I’m in a men’s small group study of Nehemiah. The central characteristic of the story for me is Nehemiah’s ability to stay the course. No matter the obstacle or the nature of the opposition, he remained faithful to the task in front of him.

Nehemiah had an outrageous mission (re-build the walls of Jerusalem) and a hopelessly ambitious plan to accomplish it. But he never wavered, and because of his steady leadership a great project was completed.

I don’t think it’s an accident that I encountered this study as I prepare for my bike ride project. I’ll confess that it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and I’m tempted almost daily to give up. I want the kind of resolve and faithfulness demonstrated by Nehemiah, and I’m discovering that it’s not easy to find.

How about you?

Am I the only one who wavers in the face of opposition and obstacles? When your vision falters, are you tempted to give up? Do you begin to doubt whether you’re really on the correct path?

In Matthew 4, Jesus was tempted by the enemy. It’s easy to dismiss those temptations as “not quite real” since He was God, but He was also a real flesh-and-blood human. After forty days without food, I’m sure the prospect of turning stones into bread sounded pretty darned inviting.

But He held firm to what He believed to be right, to be God’s will. How do you find that sort of determination in the face of desperate hunger and mortal threats? How do you turn away from the gossip, ignore the false rumors, and remain faithful?

I know the answer…

…which is really the frustrating part. I just don’t know how to do it, or I’m not good at it, or I can’t find the discipline to do it, or whatever.

I need to talk to God. Nehemiah prayed four months before beginning his wall-building project. I’m lucky if I muster the discipline to pray four minutes before my mind wanders.

I’d like to promise that I’ll fix it, that there’ll be no more faltering. That would be a lie.

I believe in this project. I want Nehemiah’s faithfulness, and I’m going to seek it. But until I find that kind of unwavering certainty, I’m going to follow my friend Dick Foth’s advice (via Oswald Chambers):

I’ll trust God and take the next step.

What do you do when distractions and opposition tempt you to abandon your mission?