Archive for May, 2011

A Kiss on the Lips

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Proverbs 24:26: “An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.”

When we think of a kiss on the lips, we think of something good, of love and tenderness. God’s Word compares an honest answer to a kiss on the lips.

One man told me, “I tell it like it is.”  He said he and his wife went shopping. She asked him what he thought of an outfit she tried on. He said she looked fat in that ugly outfit.

Maybe what he said was true, but his “honest” answer was not like a kiss on the lips, and his wife wouldn’t shop with him anymore.

The way he spoke to his wife showed a lack of respect for her. I suggested he find a kind way of being honest.

I reminded him she chose him for a husband. If her choice of clothing was that bad, what did that say about her choice of a husband?

God wants us to tell the truth in our relationships, but he wants us to do so in love.

Dear God, help me give an honest answer in love. Amen.

Application: When you speak, let your honest answer be like a kiss on the lips.

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

The Secret To Life …

Monday, May 30th, 2011

… is that there isn’t one.

How did you respond to the “end of the world” predictions last week?

I couldn’t decide whether to chuckle or cry.

My personal inclination was humor. I joked about not paying bills, taking an insanely expensive vacation on credit—the sort of silliness that’s born of simply not taking something seriously.

But I read about folks who DID take it seriously, who were misled and scammed in a variety of ways. People made horrible, life-destroying decisions based on a terrible lie. I’m sad that they were so easily misled; it’s difficult to poke fun at that kind of weakness.

Why do “they” fall so quickly into these kinds of traps? A nice, comfortable question—except that it’s not “they.” I’m certainly guilty of seeking the formula, the right way, the easy answer. I suspect I’m not the only member of that circle.

Snake Oil

Self-help books, magic medications, revolutionary diets or workout programs—someone always has the new treatment, the hidden recipe, or the innovative method that unlocks the door to whatever we’re after.

Christians aren’t immune. Sadly, churches and individual preachers have preyed upon desperate, vulnerable believers with all kinds of lies, false teachings, and “personal” revelations. Whether they seek power, control, or financial gain, these “leaders” mislead people into a false sense of how God operates—frequently with an “800” number on the TV screen for donations.

The Bible isn’t a book of secrets and codes. God didn’t hide the key to His word inside some magic cipher to be decrypted by His chosen messenger. He gave His word to everyone, and He sent His Word to everyone—no mystery decoder rings required.

I don’t know Harold Camping or his motives. I don’t know if he sought to profit in some way from his misguided predictions. Perhaps he sincerely believes his words—if so, it’s sad, because he’s sincerely wrong.

Dangerous Sincerity

That’s the thing about sincerity—you have to be careful not to confuse it with truth. The men who crashed airplanes into buildings on 9/11 sincerely believed they were doing God’s will—and they were sincerely, horribly, tragically wrong.

Those folks who want to peddle the secret to life—many are hucksters, scam artists selling snake oil. Some may sincerely believe in what they’re selling. Doesn’t matter.

The secret to life is…there ain’t one. There’s no formula, and what worked yesterday may not work today.

There’s no “easy” button.

We were designed for relationships and for love. If you want my formula for perfect, never-failing, always-intimate relationships, just send $19.95 to …

Or talk to God. He designed relationships—and us. He might have some ideas about working them out.

What’s one area of life in which you tend to seek a formula that probably isn’t there?

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Dixon
Copyright 2010 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

A Change of Heart – Not Circumstances

Friday, May 27th, 2011

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Some days it’s easy to declare, “God is good…all the time,” and “All the time…God is good.” Occasionally, however, there are days when we need to be reminded.

Yesterday morning I had it all figured out. We were going to place Mom in a nursing/hospice care facility by day’s end, and my exhausting and seemingly never-ending struggle to provide care for her would finally be resolved…or not. As I was picking up her most recent chest X-ray from the hospital, which would complete the list of needed items for her admittance, I got a call that there was a problem with her eligibility. The State would not pick up the tab after all, leaving us to pay $6000 a month for private care—definitely not an option.

I was devastated. By the time I got home and relieved the temporary caregiver staying with her while I ran the brief errand, I was fighting tears. As I took her to the bathroom, my frustration level was mounting. Would this never end?

In as much as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me….

A faint whisper, but a powerful promise. I relaxed…a little.

Less than an hour later I had to help Mom into the wheelchair so she could sit up for a while and lessen the danger that her lungs would fill up from lying in bed so much. I don’t know how much longer I can take this, I thought. My strength is nearly gone!

The whispering Voice returned, personalizing the words in Philippians 4:13: You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.

I felt a weight begin to lift from my shoulders.

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).

The weight was gone.

The problem/situation had not changed, but God had changed my heart with His gentle and faithful reminders. May He do the same for you today, dear fellow travelers!

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

Carry all your concerns to Him–in the arms of faith!

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

“Casting all your care upon Him–because He cares for you!” 1 Peter 5:7

The Lord knows all His people–all their needs, and all their trials.

He thinks upon them–to bless, deliver and supply them.

He keeps His eye upon them–in all places, at all times, and under all circumstances.

He has them in His hand–and will not loosen His hold.

He looks upon them always as His own ‘treasured possession’ . . .
the objects of His eternal love,
the purchase of His Son’s blood,
the temples of His Holy Spirit.

They are precious in His sight!

He knows they are weak and fearful–and that they have many enemies. He teaches them to cast themselves and all their cares into His hands! And He has given them His promise–that He will care for them.

It is a Father’s care which He exercises. It is a wise, holy, tender, and constant care. Therefore all will be well with you–only trust Him.

Believe that He cares for you this day. Carry all your concerns to Him–in the arms of faith! Leave all with Him, persuaded that He will manage all by His infinite wisdom, and bring all to a good outcome by His omnipotent power.

Cast all your cares upon Him–as fast as they come in.

Do not worry about anything.

“Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will support you! He will never allow the righteous to be shaken!” Psalm 55:22

~ James Smith, “The Pastor’s Morning Visit”

What’s it all about?

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011


What’s it all about?

The question was aimed at me, and the “it” was the bike ride project.

We were brainstorming an inspirational tagline, something that tugs at heart strings and makes everyone eager to follow and support the ride. Something like “1500 miles for hope.” If you have any suggestions, send them along in a comment.

But after our session ended, the question remained: What’s it all about? And suppose the “if” isn’t a bike ride but something bigger, like life. What’s all of this all about?

I believe the answer is truly simple, thought it’s also extremely complex and far from easy. In 1 Corinthians 13:13, Paul says, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

As a new Christian, this verse troubled me. We’re saved by faith. We live by faith. Hope sustains us. Hope assures us that we can count on God to faithfully fulfill His promises.

I saw the absolute centrality of love in God’s character, but I couldn’t understand why Paul claimed that love was greater than the faith and hope we so desperately need to follow Jesus in this often-difficult life.

There’s no hope in heaven
Then I actually read this line on one of those church signs that announces next week’s sermon title. Initially I thought it was the most ridiculous notion I’d ever heard. If anyplace is full of hope, it’s heaven—right?

Fortunately I had some time to drive and think. When I finally grasped the meaning of “no hope in heaven” I was tempted to go back and thank that pastor for a great one-line sermon.

Of course there’s no hope in heaven, and there’s no faith either. Hope and faith are about the future, about things we can see only partially. In The Message, the first part of 1 Corinthians 13:12 says, “We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist.”

That’s this world. We need faith and hope to navigate the fog and mist with confidence.

But the rest of the verse describes heaven: “But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!”

When we can see it all, when we’re face-to-face with Jesus, there’ll be no need for faith in things unseen or hope in promises to be fulfilled. We won’t need to believe in or hope for a future we can’t quite see.

I don’t know exactly what that will look like. I do know that in God’s eternal presence, faith and hope won’t be necessary.

At that point, it’ll all be about love–forever.

What’s one thing you picture in your mind at that moment when you can finally see it all?

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

To Whom Shall We Go?

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011


“Lord, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).

Jesus was a loving Teacher, and because of that He did not sugar-coat His teachings. Always ready to encourage and forgive, He also spent a lot of time warning prospective disciples of the difficult life they would lead if they chose to follow Him.

At one such teaching moment, when many were overwhelmed by Jesus’ teaching and turned away from following Him, Jesus asked Peter if he would leave him too. Peter responded, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

AMEN! How many times have we stumbled in our walk with the Lord, finding ourselves up against places and situations so difficult and painful that we wanted to throw in the towel and say, “I just can’t do this anymore”?

The question then becomes: Where else will we go? Jesus is the ONLY way to eternal life and relationship with the Father. Our choice is to continue following Him, regardless of the trials and hardships, or turn away from God entirely.

That’s really not a viable choice, is it? Like Peter, we must continue to press forward, clinging tightly to the hand of the One who goes before us, walks beside us, serves as our rearguard, lives within us, and surrounds us with songs of deliverance. Only He can bring us safely home, where the difficulties and disappointments of this temporal life will fade to invisible in the light of His Glory.

Don’t be discouraged, beloved. God is faithful, He has extended to us the words of eternal life…and there truly is nowhere else to go.

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 

Has The Gospel Changed You?

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Has the gospel changed you—how?

I love my small group.

We get into amazing, deep, authentic discussions. We ask questions to which there aren’t necessarily any right answers, and it’s okay. I think we’re blessed to spend time together each week.

Last night we encountered this question: How has the gospel changed you? However, there was an interesting twist—the question focused on outward change, behaviors and attitudes that others could see and observe and recognize as somehow different.

In Matthew 5, Jesus tells us we’re supposed to be the light of the world. Then He says we’re like a city built on a hill—everyone sees it, it can’t be hidden.

It’s a pretty clear image. When people look for Jesus, they see you and me. We are that city on the hill.

I don’t know about you, but for me that’s not an especially comforting thought. I tossed and turned a few times wondering how much light I’m contributing to the city.

It’s a big responsibility—being the light of the world seems like almost a full-time job.

I know the gospel, the good news of Jesus, has changed my heart. But how has it changed me in ways others can see? Am I kinder or gentler? Am I more patient, generous, peaceful, or loving?

I need to think about that, because I don’t think Jesus’ call to be a city on a hill is metaphorical. I think He wants us to be in communities that look and act differently, that reflect His light, because we’ve been changed by the gospel.

How has the gospel changed you—outwardly?

Is it really all about you?

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Have you ever seriously wondered how much of what’s happening is about you?

I’ve been reflecting on the issue of temporary setbacks.

Initially this wound on my backside seemed to be a two-week hiccup. Various complications lengthened the process. Doc’s best guess now puts resumption of training at about June 1. That’ll mean roughly forty days of inactivity.

Forty is sort of a special Biblical number. The Flood lasted forty days, the Israelites wandered forty years in the desert. Jesus began His ministry with a forty-day temptation in the wilderness.

Hmmm…those all appeared to be setbacks, at the time.

I’m not willing to conclude that God intentionally caused an infected wound and a bunch of complex drug reactions to create a forty-day trial for me. But whether He caused this situation or whether He’s working within it, the result is an unexpected, unwanted test.

Rick Warren wrote a wonderful best-selling book called The Purpose Driven Life in which he took readers on a forty-day search for purpose and meaning in their lives. He began the book with one of my favorite opening lines of all time:

It’s not about you.

Now there’s an interesting thought

What if this whole situation isn’t about me? What if it’s about the people who are watching?

What if I already know what I need to know to get through this? What if the whole point isn’t “what I learn” but “what I share”?

What if it’s not about me?

I keep saying that the ride is about something bigger than myself. This forty-day setback will make the training much more difficult, but if it’s not about me then maybe that’s the point. Maybe others need to know that “easy” isn’t what’s important.

I don’t know the right answers. I do know that when I shrink the whole thing down to being centered around me, it seems kind of petty and insignificant.

I hope it’s about something bigger.

What’s a situation in which you have a hard time getting yourself out of the center?

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

Teach Me Your Way

Thursday, May 19th, 2011


“I will instruct you.” Psalm 32:8

At best we know but little–and we are slow to learn. But the Lord has promised to instruct us. The Lord’s teaching always produces . . .

humility,
self-loathing,
confidence in God,
zeal for His glory, and
devotes the heart to His glory!

The Lord’s teaching always . . .
brings us to the feet of Jesus, and
delivers us from the present evil world.

Under Divine instruction we learn . . .
the true nature of sin,
the vanity of the world,
the emptiness of creatures, and
the fullness and preciousness of Christ!

Is God willing to instruct us? Then let us be early and often at His throne of grace, praying, as the Psalmist did, “Show me Your ways, O LORD, teach me Your paths; guide me in Your truth and teach me–for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm 25:4-5. Then shall we exclaim, as Elihu did, “God is exalted in His power. Who is a teacher like Him!” Job 36:22

The Lord will teach us to profit, and sanctify us through the truth He imparts. Christ is our great lesson–and to know Him rightly–is life, peace and joy!

Is Jesus your Teacher? Then . . .
sit at His feet,
treasure up His Words,
and show forth His praise!

He says, “Learn of Me.” Learn to . . .
know Him,
love Him,
obey Him, and
live upon Him!

Teach me Your way, O LORD; lead me in a straight path!” Psalm 27:11

Poor in self–Rich in Jesus!

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3

The Lord’s people are all poor; they see and feel that sin has stripped them of every excellence; and has left them wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind and naked. They can do nothing of themselves, they can procure nothing for themselves; but free grace has made ample provision for them, and the Gospel informs them that Jesus has everything they need–and that all that He has, is for them!

When they look at, or into themselves–they are discouraged; but when they look to Jesus–they rejoice! He has riches of grace–and riches of glory; and He says, “Every one who asks–receives.” He gives liberally, and upbraids not. Here then is the present blessedness of the Lord’s poor: Jesus has all they need! And He is their Redeemer and Friend! Those who seek Him shall not lack any truly good thing.

Am I poor? If so, Jesus bids me come to Him–and buy gold, clothing, wine, and milk without price–all that is necessary to comfort and support in time, and render me happy throughout eternity! Poor in self–rich in Jesus! Poor at present–rich in eternity! “For theirs is the kingdom of heaven!”

“All things are yours!” 1 Corinthians 3:21

“And my God will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus!” Philippians 4:19

~ James Smith, “The Pastor’s Morning Visit”