Archive for July, 2011

Can You Speak the Truth in Love?

Friday, July 29th, 2011

…speaking the truth in love, [we] may grow up in all things
into Him who is the head—Christ. (Ephesians 4:15, NKJV)

Babies are adorable, and they can get away with childish behavior because…well, they’re babies and we don’t expect anything else from them. But when adults behave childishly (which usually translates into “selfishly”), it’s not so cute or adorable, is it?

The Scriptures tell us that the way to “grow up in all things” in Christ is to speak the truth in love. I struggle with the truth part because I don’t want to hurt people’s feelings. Some people I know ignore the love part and just blurt out truth, leaving a trail of wounded listeners behind them.

There is a reason for the two-part admonition to speak the truth in love. Love without truth isn’t really love at all. It allows people to remain in their sin, to wallow in destructive lifestyles, and to wreak havoc on others. Truth without love, however, can so damage the listeners that they never really recover but carry their wounds through the rest of their lives and often pass them on to those within their sphere of influence.

Speaking the truth in love has a specific purpose: to restore right relationship, first with God and second with others. That’s the ministry of reconciliation which Jesus began while He was on earth and which He has now given to us. We fulfill that ministry by knowing God’s truth (as revealed through His Son, through the Scriptures, and through His Holy Spirit living within us), and then speaking that truth to others with the intention of seeing them saved, healed, delivered, and fulfilling God’s purpose for their lives. If we are not delivering the truth with that pure intention, then we are not speaking it in love.

It all starts with our own “knowing” of the truth, meaning we have a personal relationship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit lives within us as a result of that relationship, and we cultivate/deepen that relationship by reading/studying/living the truth of the Holy Scriptures. The world is full of lost, broken, and hurting people who need “grown-up” Christians to speak the truth in love. Let’s commit to move beyond the cute baby stage of our faith and become effective truth-in-love speakers to those who so desperately need to hear it!

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 

Does God Care About My Circumstances?

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

I’m wondering if the important things in life depend less on my circumstances and more on me becoming a better person.

What’s your take on this statement?

I’ve been listening lately to what people seem to pray about, what they ask others to pray about. I’ve been thinking a lot about the content of my own conversations with God.

It seems like I tend to pray mostly about circumstances.

How about you?

I’ve always wondered about praying for specific circumstances. It feels a bit like ordering room service from God—I’d like the good health for my family with a side order of financial stability, please. Seems sort of presumptuous, as though God doesn’t already know I want those things. Jesus said,

“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” Matthew 6:31-32

It’s confusing. I believe He wants me to talk to Him about everything, every thought, every concern, every dream. But I have the sense that He also wants me to get beyond the concerns of the world. In the very next verse, Jesus continued,

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

My problem is that I want a formula and God wants a relationship. Relationships don’t work on rules. I can’t pray more about this and less about that and guarantee a closer walk with Jesus. He wants all of me, right where I am.

I still think I fuss too much about my circumstances, that I’m better off when I focus on becoming more like Jesus. But I’m human, and it’s likely that the “stuff” of my life will always be part of my thoughts and concerns.

Does God care about my circumstances? Absolutely.

I’m astonished at the mystery that He who sees the beginning and end of time listens to me.

Astonished—and very, very grateful.

Do you ever wonder about the “right” things to pray about? How do you resolve your questions?

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 Feel that No One Loves You?

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

“Christ, who loved us!” Romans 8:37

No condition can possibly be more dreary–than to feel that no one loves or cares for us!

There is something peculiarly sweet and pleasant–in being the object of another’s love. Even the love of a poor child is sweet. But to be loved by one who is most wealthy, most exalted in station, and most honorable in character–must be peculiarly delightful!

How, then, should we rejoice; how happy should we be–who are loved by the Lord Jesus! Especially when we consider:
on the one hand:
how despicable,
how poor,
how worthless, and
how unlovely WE are!
And, on the other hand:
how glorious,
how wealthy,
how worthy,
how lovely JESUS is!

To be loved by Jesus–is to be preferred before the possession of a world!

Think of . . .
the glory of His person,
the vastness of His possessions,
the number of His angelic attendants,
the unlimited sovereignty which He exercises,
and the excellent character He bears!

Also bear in mind–that He knew what loving us would cost Him–how He would be treated by us and by others–for our sakes!

Yet He fixed His love upon US!

He loved US–just because He would!

He passed by others more dignified in nature, more exalted in station–but He chose US!

He did not, could not, NEED us–for He was infinitely happy and glorious without us!

Yet He loved us!

He still loves us!

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

Pure Joy?

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

James 1:2-3: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”

When a woman ran a red light and hit my car, I didn’t think of my trial as pure joy.

During the exam, the doctor touched areas of my neck and back and asked, “Does it hurt there?” Was she serious? I felt as if I were going to vomit or faint.

A diagnosis of whiplash and back strain made me pray to develop perseverance real fast.

We live in a fallen world with imperfect people and imperfect bodies. We will “face trials of many kinds.” We may struggle with little children at home or sick elderly parents. We may endure job pressure, face a divorce, or struggle with finances or health.

No matter what trials we face, God tells us to “Consider it pure joy.”

God wants the testing of our faith to develop perseverance in us.

Dear God, help me consider my trials pure joy. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to develop perseverance?

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

What does HOPE mean to you?

Monday, July 25th, 2011

What does HOPE mean to you?

I spoke to a local Rotary Club last week. After my talk a man walked up and asked an interesting question: Where do you think hope comes from?

I told him that my hope comes from God. He said, “Well, yeah, but what does that really mean?”

Not a bad question, huh?

I speak and write a lot about hope. However, in my mind, hope isn’t really an isolated notion.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

I define hope as expectation rooted in faith. Hope, to me, flows from the confidence found in Romans 8:28:

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

And all of this has eternal meaning because of the powerful promise stated in Romans 8:38-39:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So I believe hope rests on faith, while faith rests on the eternal promise of God’s love. In this life the three seem completely intertwined. It’s difficult to imagine one without the others.

But someday, when I stand in God’s presence, I’ll be surrounded by perfect love. Here’ll be no more need for faith or hope—it’ll all just be love. Maybe that’s why Paul wrote, “But the greatest of these is love.”

That’s how I think about hope. Probably a little too simple, not theologically profound enough.

I’m okay with that.

What’s your take on the interwoven nature of faith, hope, and love?

Do you get discouraged when little things go wrong?

Friday, July 22nd, 2011


My brother has a saying: Some days are peanuts, some days are shells.

Monday I had an absolutely great bike ride. Cranked a little more than thirty miles, hardly noticed the hills, rode faster than I ever have, wasn’t even tired when I got home. At this point in my training it was about as close to a perfect ride as I’m going to get.

Tuesday—not so much. About five miles from home I encountered a stretch of road covered with fresh oil and gravel. After a half-mile I was coated with oily pebbles. So on the return trip I took a different route and came across road construction and a detour that included a rather nasty hill. Toss in a couple of minor equipment issues that lengthened the ride into the heat of the afternoon, and completing my thirty-five mile trek wasn’t a lot of fun.

Monday was peanuts. Tuesday was shells.

I’m a habitual “awfulizer.” If everything doesn’t happen exactly as planned, it’s awful. In my brother’s terms, if it’s not all peanuts, it’s all shells.

Replacement therapy

I’ve learned through painful experience that I can’t break habits like “awfulizing” through sheer will. I have to replace the less helpful thoughts with something more positive or productive.

So when I caught myself grumbling about my horrible luck, I actually stopped right in the middle of the big hill and began listing the positive aspects of the morning:

  • Despite the extra time, I still felt strong.
  • This was exactly the sort of unplanned obstacle I’m likely to encounter on my actual ride, and I gained confidence knowing I could move past it and keep going.
  • I was climbing a tough hill, one I usually avoid, pretty easily.
  • I hadn’t planned such a long ride, but I was completing it without much trouble despite the setbacks.

By the time I resumed my climb, I was actually smiling—as much as one can smile while cranking up a hill in 95 degree heat. My entire mental picture of the morning’s ride was altered.

I don’t want to pretend to be Pollyanna and ignore adversity. Life simply isn’t a continuous trip on the Good Ship Lollipop.

But maybe I can get a little better at finding the peanuts hidden beneath the shells.

How do you remind yourself to look for the peanuts among the shells?

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

Are You Zoned Out?

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Have you ever been driving and suddenly realized you’re not aware of  the last few miles?

I noticed something during my bike ride this morning. Or, rather, I noticed how much I wasn’t noticing.

I was rolling along, having a great workout, and suddenly I realized I’d just coasted along for a couple of miles. I stopped working hard, I wasn’t paying attention to what was happening—I guess I sort of zoned out.

It’s not all that surprising, especially when I’m riding lots of miles over mostly familiar terrain. But as I refocused on my workout I wondered how much time I’d wasted.

Then I thought about how frequently I do something similar in my everyday life.

Most of daily life happens on familiar terrain. It’s awfully easy to zone out and begin coasting, taking things for granted, going through the motions. Before you realize it, a few days or a few years have passed unnoticed. Those little kids are suddenly going away to college, the dreams of a lifetime sit untouched, and we wonder where all that time went.

Zoned out happens in church when familiar worship patterns become routine—the service ends and I realize I wasn’t really present. It happens in meetings, at dinner, over family gatherings.

There’s nothing wrong with coasting on a bike or in life. You can’t go all-out maximum-effort all the time. I think what matters is coasting intentionally, being aware, not being zoned out.

This is the day the Lord has made.
We will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

God gives me each day as a gift. I want to be thankful, but that means I must at least be conscious of the gift.

I can’t do that if I’m zoned out.

Where do you seem to zone out?

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

Are You Looking to Yourself and not to Him?

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Look unto Me!” Isaiah 45:22

A new morning opens upon us–and we are still exposed . . .
to sorrow,
to Satan, and
to disappointment!
Sin lives in us–and a thousand things are ready to distress us!

But our God says, “Look unto Me!”

Look unto Me . . .
as the source of happiness,
as the giver of grace,
as your Friend!

Look unto Me . . .
in every trial,
for all you need, and
in every circumstance.

Look unto Me TODAY, I have blessings to bestow! I am waiting to be gracious to you!

Believe that I am deeply interested in your present and eternal welfare!

Believe that I will perform–all I have promised!

Believe that I am with you–on purpose to bless you! I cannot be unconcerned about anything that affects you! I pledge Myself to make all things work together for your eternal good.

You have looked to SELF, and to others, in times past–and you have only met with trouble and disappointment!

Now look unto Me ALONE!

Look unto Me FOR ALL!

Look unto Me!

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

Have you ever questioned God’s will or purpose for your life?

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

…according to the kind intention of His will (Ephesians 1:5).

Have you ever questioned God’s will or purpose for your life? Oh, come on, let’s be honest here. Who hasn’t? We all have those self-centered, poor-me moments when we really think we deserve something better, and I’m certainly no exception. This past week I received a couple of major honors for one of my books, so it was easy to praise God and extol His great plans and intentions for my life. But what about when we’re passed over for that award, or our children walk away from God, or relationships crumble and finances collapse?

The Scriptures assure us that God’s intentions toward us are “kind” and that His plans and purposes are for our good (see Jeremiah 29:11). We know God’s Word is true despite the circumstances that swirl around us, but why do we find it so difficult to stay focused on that great truth?

I for one equate myself to Peter, who knew at one moment that he could walk on water to go to Jesus and the next moment took His eyes off the Savior and became overwhelmed by the wind and waves, immediately going down for the count. Been there, done that! Thank God for Jesus who reaches down and pulls us back up, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could remember to keep our eyes and focus where they belong in the first place!

That’s my prayer today, dear friends, and I hope you will join me. Let’s make a pact to believe what we say we believe—that God’s plans are for our good and His intentions toward us are kind. It will change our countenance, our actions…and the way others view us and respond to the call of the Savior. What a good and kind God we serve!

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 

Afraid to walk on water?

Monday, July 18th, 2011

Have you ever passed up a chance to walk on water?

I think we all have.

Jesus showed up one stormy night (Matthew 14). He was walking on the water.

It’s one of my favorite Bible stories. I’ve always thought of it as a story about Jesus and Peter.

A few days ago I wrote about an event involving Peter and John (Which Peter Will Show UP?) So I wondered—where was John during the “water walking” incident?

Answer: John was still in the boat.

I always think about impulsive Peter who jumped out of the boat without considering the realities of what he was about to do. Or I judge faithless Peter who doubted even as he stood on the water.

I wonder what John thought when he saw Peter take those halting steps on top of the waves.

Maybe he thought Peter was an idiot. Maybe he thought trying to walk on water was the craziest thing he’d ever seen anyone do. Maybe he laughed at his friend’s rash behavior.

I don’t think so.

I think John wished he had Peter’s courage. I think he regretted cowering in the boat.

I think John wondered what it was like to take even a few impossible steps toward Jesus. I think he envied Peter’s faith.

I suspect that John always looked back at that moment and wondered why he passed up such an incredible opportunity. He had a split-second to decide, and he chose the safe, logical action. He stayed in the boat when he could have walked on water.

I know how John must have felt. I’ve missed a lot of opportunities because I didn’t step out of the boat. I didn’t want to risk failure, having people laugh at me. I didn’t want to be the impulsive fool.

It’s the safe way, the logical way. Sane people stay in boats during storms.

But you miss the chance to walk on water.

What’s one area in which you might need to get out of the boat?