Archive for May, 2011

What Moved The Needle?

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Do you ever wonder why something changed?

I’m trying to catch up with some stuff that’s dropped to the bottom of the pile in the last month. Looking at my blog stats, I notice that daily readership has reached its highest levels as I struggled to keep up.

So I’ve discovered the perfect strategy: get sick, and readers will flock to your site.

I don’t think so.

If you’re a regular reader, you know the message here isn’t, “Let’s feel sorry for each other.”

That’s just not helpful. I don’t think it’s why you drop by. So I looked a little deeper.

The comments tell me that you show up for:

  • Transparency
  • Inspiration
  • Relationship

It’s sort of interesting. I’ve been reluctant to write about the illness—didn’t want to feel like I was whining or begging for sympathy. But it’s hard to be transparent while you hide your struggles. There’s a balance, and I don’t have a good sense about finding it.

So we muddle along, sharing our struggles and joys with God and with each other. I suspect it’s less about doing the sharing perfectly and more about just doing it and letting the Spirit work out the balance part.

Aren’t you glad we don’t have to figure it out on our own?

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 It Anyway

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Do you search for inspiration, or does it seem to find you?

I’m the guy thrashing about in the bushes trying to flush out inspiration that’s perched on a branch right above my head, smiling patiently, waiting for me to take a break and glance upward.

Yesterday we arrived home after my jailbreak hospital discharge—felt really good but very tired. Hospitals are bad places to rest.

I needed to write today’s blog post, but no words came. I tried harder—nothing. I’d almost decided that this would be a “no show” day, and that you would understand.

My wife flipped on American Idol. According to ratings I’m apparently one of about two dozen non-fans, but I stopped thrashing in the bushes in favor of some non-entertainment.

Instead, I found that quiet little voice of inspiration.

One contestant sang a Martina McBride song called Do It Anyway; the chorus pretty much summarizes my last month.

God is great, but sometimes life ain’t good
And when I pray;
It doesn’t always turn out like I think it should
But I do it anyway,
I do it anyway

I’ve tried to maintain a positive attitude, but it’s tough to push back discouragement. I needed to hear this; is it possible that Jesus speaks through reality TV?

It’s sort of amazing that after all this time I need to be reminded that I don’t pray for results. I pray for conversation, for relationship. I guess it’s okay if that reminder arrives in the form of a country song on a silly reality show.

I’ll take my inspiration wherever I can find 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

To Die For!

Friday, May 13th, 2011

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony,
and they did not love their lives to the death (Revelation 12:11, NKJV).

“That chocolate cream pie was to die for!”

Just words, right? Maybe. But I must confess that I’ve had that pie—more than once—and it was delicious. But to die for? Not so much.

As a word lover, I pay attention to what we say. “To die for” is a phrase that gets tossed around a lot these days. But if we stopped to think of its meaning before opening our mouths, would we still say it?

The above verse in Revelation gets quoted—in part—quite often. We love to proclaim the promise to overcome by the “blood of the Lamb” and “the word of [our] testimony,” but even in popular worship choruses, the last component of the equation is often omitted. We readily talk about our willingness “to die for” chocolate or a new dress or a trip to Hawaii, but martyrdom? Much more comfortable to leave that unpleasant thought back there with the first and second-century Church fathers who died in the early days of spreading the Gospel.

Yet most of us know that more Christians around the world have died for their faith in the last 100 years than in all the previous years combined since the Church’s establishment. That’s a sobering thought. And though most of us are blessed to live where—at least for now—we can freely proclaim and practice our faith, there are no guarantees that it will always be so.

Today, when we’re tempted to declare our passion for something temporal with the phrase “to die for,” can we first stop and utter a prayer for those who even now may be laying down their lives for the gospel’s sake? I guarantee that it will change our perspective on what is—and isn’t—worth dying for.

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

Trying To Trust God

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Is trusting God different than trying to trust God?

I had to dictate yesterday’s post to my lovely wife. At one point I said I was “trying to trust God.”

Becky said, “Why ‘trying’? Why not just trust Him?”

Good question. I do trust Him—intellectually. I believe He’s in control, that He causes all things to work together for good.

So why don’t I just trust Him. Why do I allow doubt to get in the way? Why do I have to try to trust Him?

I don’t know why, but I do.

Am I the only one? Does this happen to you?

I’ve been so blessed. Everything in my experience tells me to trust Him, but still I don’t. This statement from Romans 7 resonates with this internal struggle:

For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

Sometimes I wonder what Jesus thinks when He sees my lack of trust in response to His incredible sacrifice.

I’m thankful for 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

Straight Ahead

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Proverbs 4:25: “Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.”

As I get ready to leave to speak at a women’s retreat, I must remind myself to look straight ahead and fix my gaze directly before me on the goal of retreat preparation.

I can weed the flowerbeds when I return. The house will be fine if I don’t clean it before I leave. I cleaned it four days ago.

A new version of a computer program will do nothing to get me ready to leave.

Yesterday, my neighbor and I talked outside before dinner. I complained that the shrubbery needed to be trimmed. She looked at me and rolled her eyes. She suggested I trim only the top of the shrubbery and nothing more.

God knows my tendency to want everything in order before I leave on a trip.

Do you also struggle to look straight ahead and fix your gaze directly before you?

Dear God, help me look straight ahead. Amen.

Application: What can you do to gaze directly before you 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

Can You Go All-In?

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Do you ever truly give 100% to anything?

Lately, I’ve had a lot of time to think.

As I recover—steadily but much too slowly—much of my customary activity has been curtailed. So I think, which for me is often a dangerous activity.

I’ve tried to remain positive. I had to cancel a commitment to lead a retreat, postpone a couple of speaking gigs. It’s difficult to find much good in such loss, but I’m trying to remember that Romans 8:28 (God causes all things to work together for good) is still in the Bible. Turning tragedy into triumph is God’s job, not mine.

I’ve worried a bit—okay, more than a bit—about the bike ride. Lost training, preparation that needs to be happening…thinking turns into worrying pretty easily.

I’ve reached one conclusion in my extended thinking time. This setback has compressed my comfortable timelines. If the ride’s going to happen successfully, I need to make a decision to be all-in.

All-in

I don’t think of myself as an all-in guy. I tend to hedge my bets, use multitasking as an excuse for not quite making that 100% commitment. But with the shortened time frame and all I wish to accomplish, the ride’s going to require an unfamiliar level of focus.

So what does all-in mean, specifically? I came up with these:

  • Being fully in the moment. Focused, not distracted, willing to say NO to the urgent in order to accomplish the important.
  • Being willing to stretch and extend, not set preconceived, artificial limitations, not be stopped by unfamiliarity or awkwardness.
  • Being willing to keep going, not make excuses, set aside comfort when you’re tired and feel like quitting

Nice words, huh? But they’re not me, not the way I’ve trained myself to go at life. So now—the question.

Can I—can you—go all-in when it matters?

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

Separate In The Middle

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Do you ever see fresh insights in seemingly familiar surroundings?

One interesting aspect of the Bible is reading a familiar passage and discovering a fresh insight. Last time I talked about the story of Jesus walking on water.

This week our small group looked at this passage from verse 9 of 1 Peter 2.

… for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

Holy. Holy means set apart, in this case for a special purpose.

Priests. Priests are mediators, in this case mediators with the special call to show others the goodness of God.

I can’t imagine how many times I’ve read or heard that passage, and I’ve always focused on the notion of being “set apart.” It’s not like I felt superior, but I definitely heard the idea that others ought to recognize something different about me because I follow Jesus.

So what about being a priest?

Who, me? I don’t think so—except there it is, right before the “holy” part—I’m apparently supposed to be a priest.

And there’s the lightning bolt, the flash of insight—you can’t show God’s goodness to others by staying away from them.

This call to be holy or set apart can’t mean separate. I’m supposed to be different than the world around me, but I cannot remove myself from it.

God tells me to let the light of His love shine through me (holy) and to engage with people who need to see that light (priest).

If you’re like me, I’ll bet you don’t tend to think of yourself as “holy.” I don’t imagine you’d include “priest” on your resume.

Maybe that’s part of what this journey is about. Maybe following Jesus means learning and accepting new roles.

Sort of like an ancient group of fishermen and tax collectors.

How does “being different than the world without withdrawing from it” play out in your life?

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

Pause

Friday, May 6th, 2011

Do you ever feel like you get too caught up in your own stuff? I sure do.

Last night I watched some people pick through the aftermath of horrible storms in the southern U.S. They looked dazed, confused, and utterly hopeless as they searched for any intact personal articles amid the rubble that once was their homes.

The past three weeks haven’t been particularly pleasant for me—an infection, apparent recovery, then another setback. I’ve tried hard to maintain a positive attitude, but I have to admit that I’ve found myself feeling a bit of self-pity.

It’s so easy to “awfulize” one’s own circumstances, to turn completely inward, to forget that there’s a big old world out there with a lot of stuff happening.

Watching those folks search through the remnants of their lives reminded me to pause.

That doesn’t mean our individual circumstances and struggles don’t matter. Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.” (Matthew 10:29)

So when I’m tempted to think my petty problems are too small for God to care, I need to pause.

Like most everything else, it’s a matter of balance and perspective. When I put myself and my concerns at the center of the universe, I need to pause. When I pretend I don’t matter, I need to pause.

Where are you as you begin this week? Are you a little too centered on your own concerns—do you need to pause and look at the bigger picture? Are you overwhelmed by disasters and wars and poverty and economic issues—do you need to pause and focus a bit on what you can do to make a difference?

Let’s remind each other to pause and remember who’s really in control.

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 Know What Today Is?

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Lots of “stuff” going on in the news, isn’t there? Osama bin Laden’s death is at the top of the list, and I’ve been fielding media interviews right and left as a result. (OBL was born/raised in Saudi Arabia where my most recent release, People of the Book, is set.) For those of you who celebrate cultural holidays, this is Cinco de Mayo, and that will no doubt be a media focus today too.

And then there’s the Lakers. Phooey. Won’t even go there.

Today (at least in my humble estimation) will undoubtedly get little more than a brief snippet of mention on anything but Christian or ultra-conservative news organizations—the National Day of Prayer.

Yep, that’s today, and I hope you are honoring/observing it with some much needed intercession for our country. I certainly am. But I also hope that we will recognize the need to be in prayer for our country every day. One day a year is fine for a national observance, but praying every day is necessary if we want to see the necessary results.

I mentioned this need for national intercession to a friend once, and she replied, “I just don’t know what to pray about.” SERIOUSLY? Let’s see, the Scriptures tell us to pray for those in leadership, so that’s a great starting place. We also need to pray for our military, our schools, victims of national tragedies, events in the news….

As far as I can tell, the problem is not a lack of prayer needs/focus, but rather a lack of time. We could all give up our jobs and personal pursuits, spend our entire lives in prayer, and never run out of things to pray about. Now we also know that’s not going to happen, but can we realistically commit to not only pray for our country today, but to at least remember our nation’s many prayer needs each day, even if only for a moment or two? Because the bottom line is that our military and political leaders can do only so much. Like us, they are human and therefore fallible. God, however, is not, and He holds us in His nail-scarred hands. Ultimately, if our country is to survive, we need to turn back to the One who has so blessed us these many years.

Will you join me? I hear God calling….

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 favorite Bible story?

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

What’s your favorite Bible story?

It’s a bit like choosing your favorite ice cream.

I chose the story of Jesus walking on the water (Matthew 14:22-32) because Jesus makes two enormously encouraging statements.

He’d just performed a miracle, feeding five thousand men—plus women and kids—with a couple of fish and five loaves of bread. Then He sent the disciples off in a boat so He could be alone to pray.

Late at night, when the boat had travel a long distance from the shore, the disciples saw Jesus walking toward them on the lake. The Bible says they were “terrified” and believed they saw a ghost. And Jesus said an amazing thing.

“Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

My first reaction is, “Don’t be afraid? Who are you kidding? It’s dark and windy and cold and we’ve been fighting the waves all night and this apparition comes strolling across the lake—and we’re not supposed to feel any fear?”

But look at the first two words—take courage. Courage means facing fear—if no fear exists, no courage is required.

“Take courage. It is I.”

Jesus isn’t telling them they shouldn’t feel fear. He’s telling them that, because He’s with them, they need not react to their fear.

Then good old impulsive Peter jumps in and asks Jesus to tell him to join Him. Jesus does, and suddenly Peter’s walking across waves. It’s all good until Peter looks around and begins to be afraid. He immediately flounders and cries out to Jesus, who catches Peters hand and saves him. Then Jesus says a second powerful word of encouragement.

“You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

One gets the impression that Peter’s rash request wasn’t the problem, since Jesus granted it immediately. Peter accomplished the “impossible” for a few moments when he acted purely on faith. He started sinking only when his logical brain told him he couldn’t do what he was doing.

Jesus tells Peter that he’s free to set his own limitations—if he wishes. But he’s also free to act on faith and watch the impossible happen before his eyes.

If I may paraphrase Jesus’ words:

“I’m in your heart. It’s okay to confront those fears and do what’s right.”

“Don’t live just by what you see. Live by faith, and you’ll see amazing things.”

I think He saying those things to you and me today.