Archive for November, 2011

What Is Character?

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

What’s your personal understanding of “character”?

I appreciate questions.

I guess that’s one reason I still love teaching—I enjoy the challenge of creating an environment that fosters open, frank discussion. I value tough, sincere questions even though I often don’t possess answers.

A few weeks ago during Rich’s Ride I tossed out a statement that prompted quite a few comments:

I think God values our character more than our comfort. Character is a long-term issue, and it’s often developed and tested in uncomfortable settings.

A reader sent a great question. “Character is one of those words we use a lot, and I wonder if we agree on what it means. What is character?”

Hmmm…I thought about it a lot during the ride, and I’d like to see what you think of my ideas.

To me, character development rests on at least three factors:

  • Knowledge: understanding the facts of a situation.
  • Discernment: determining the right thing to do based on your knowledge.
  • Skill: the capacity to do it.

Knowledge: It’s not much use wanting to do what’s right if I have no clue about the situation. Character development requires an open mind, a willingness to learn, and the flexibility to adapt as new information develops.

Discernment: I determine my best understanding of what’s right based on available information, input from those I trust, and my own wisdom based on experience and guidance from the Spirit.

Skill: Knowing what’s right isn’t all that helpful unless I develop the skills required to actually do it.

Character: I see character as the willingness to do what’s right. Character development is the lifelong process of growing in knowledge, discernment, and skill, and intentionally nurturing the habit of doing what’s right.

Some will object that we cannot always know the right response in particular circumstances. I agree. It’s rare that we have access to every scrap of  relevant information. Our discernment is colored by personal bias. We can always refine our skills.

Too often these become excuses for failure to act. So perhaps a more workable definition of character might be doing my best to determine what’s right based on available knowledge, and then doing that right thing to the best of my ability.

Will I frequently get it wrong? Of course. Will I fail at times? Certainly. But the real troubles in my life haven’t happened because I didn’t know what to do.

Almost without exception, the significant issues in my life occur when I KNOW what’s right and don’t do it.

Is this what character means to you? What would you add?

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

Anger: Are the Lights on in Your Dashboard?

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

“Anger is like the lights on a dashboard. They tell you something is going on under the hood. You must find out the source of the problem.”

Whenever we have expectations of another person and those expectations do not materialize, our tendency is to get angry. The source of the anger is often the fear that the unmet expectation will negatively impact us.

We fear that our finances, our well-being, our image, or any number of things may be impacted by the unmet expectation.

Ecclesiastes 7:9
Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry:
for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !


Copyright 2011, Chaplain Michael Clark
All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.
Chaplain Clark is a Speaker and Writer,
Addiction Counselor/Professional
as well as a Recovery Support Specialist
Shadows of the Cross Ministries, Prison and Recovery Ministry

What kind of an apologizer are you?

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Good apologizers are humble, willing to take honest inventory of their lives and actions, and willing to do what is necessary to make things right with God and others.

Bad apologizers are filled with pride and an unwillingness to admit wrongdoing. Their theme song is, “Sin in others I can see, but praise God there’s none in me!”

What kind of an apologizer are you?

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !


Copyright 2011, Chaplain Michael Clark
All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.
Chaplain Clark is a Speaker and Writer,
Addiction Counselor/Professional
as well as a Recovery Support Specialist
Shadows of the Cross Ministries, Prison and Recovery Ministry

The Process of Recovery: Whose Time Frame?

Friday, November 25th, 2011

There is no human time frame that can be placed on people for recovery, healing, changing and growth by themselves or others – it will be a process – hopefully advancing not reversing.

But since we all experience events differently these things will all be different for each person. It will take what it takes. Just concentrate on progression rather than perfection. God has a plan and He has a time to complete his work – rest assured

He that started a good work in you will complete it…  Philippians 1:6

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !


Copyright 2011, Chaplain Michael Clark
All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.
Chaplain Clark is a Speaker and Writer,
Addiction Counselor/Professional
as well as a Recovery Support Specialist
Shadows of the Cross Ministries, Prison and Recovery Ministry

Learning Thankfulness

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1

A couple of weeks ago I accomplished a dream.

I’m still learning from the experience. Perhaps that’s how it works—true significance only becomes apparent when you have some time to reflect and attain a more accurate perspective.

One important lesson from Rich’s Ride involves my absolute interdependence on other people. I may be able to survive on my own—that’s independence—but I cannot thrive in isolation.

I enjoy having folks congratulate me. But I don’t want to enjoy it too much, because this was a team accomplishment. I quite literally couldn’t have done this alone.

God wired us to do life together, face-to-face and side-by-side. The solitary Christian is a myth.

I’m thankful for all the people who extended themselves to make Rich’s Ride such a wonderful experience. I’m especially thankful for Becky, who did about a thousand thankless tasks every day to make it all work.

I’m here because throughout my life people invested in me and believed in me. That’s the story of Rich’s Ride and the story of Relentless Grace. I’m glad they didn’t give up, because mostly I didn’t make it easy for them.

I’m thankful.

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

Glorify Him with Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Psalm 69:30: “I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.”

I find it easy to praise God’s name and glorify him with thanksgiving when I feel strong and healthy, when someone sends me a lovely gift, when my prayers get answered.

However, it’s another story when I feel sick and when I’ve prayed for years for someone’s salvation to no avail. As author Nancy Leigh DeMoss would say, at that time I choose to be a whiner or a worshiper.

At Thanksgiving, some of us sing the song, “Now Thank We All Our God.” I love the last three lines, “Hath blessed us on our way With countless gifts of love, And still is ours today.”

Martin Rinkart, a seventeenth century Lutheran pastor, wrote that song in Eilenberg during the Thirty Years War. He averaged more than 4,500 funeral services at the height of the war. One of those was for his wife.

However, the first three lines tell us Martin Rinkart chose to worship. “Now thank we all our God, With hearts and hands and voices, Who wondrous things hath done.”

Dear God, I chose to worship you this Thanksgiving. Amen.

Application: For what will you glorify the Father with thanksgiving 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 Watching or Doing?

Monday, November 21st, 2011

I ran across this photo from the movie Gladiator the other day. As I looked at the scene I realized that it contains two types of characters.

Most of the people sit in the stands and watch. A few choose to enter the arena.

That’s a sad metaphor for how life works.

Rich’s Ride has convinced me that I don’t want to watch life happen. I don’t want to live vicariously through sports and celebrities and reality television.

I don’t want to pretend I’m following Jesus by watching someone else do it.

I have to be careful with this because I don’t do moderation very well. Even the best gladiators can’t be on the arena floor 24/7. They have to train and rest and recover. Sixty-year-old gladiators can’t pretend they’re still twenty if they wish to survive and thrive.

But gladiators don’t prepare for the arena by sitting in the stands.

I don’t want to watch. I want to be in the arena.

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

Alone?

Friday, November 18th, 2011
In this life we are incomplete. We know in part. We have moments of inspiration, but perspiration and aggravations continually remind us of our temporary status, our deficiencies, our ultimate demise. All of our effort cannot lift us out of the world that we find ourselves in. Yet, our spirits are continually lifted to a higher plane by the Word, the Spirit, the Truth, where we wait, with all Christendom, for that unifying Touch.

Alone?

I thought myself alone
My voice a mere moan
Emitting from my cave
Of loneliness…

While thus enslaved
The mirage You staved
Saved, once again,
This claustrophobe.

For thousands and thousands and thousands of souls
Even this moment do You extol
My voice a mere morsel compared to the feast
That’s offered up daily and laid at your feet.

Significant? No,
My rhythms and rhymes
Are doomed to succumb
To the pressures of Time,

But just for this moment
With souls in delight
We all raise our voice
To light up the night.

~ * ~
Copyright 2008-2011 by Roadrunner.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.
See more works at Roadrunner’s web site
Furtherreaches.com

What If I Don’t Feel Grateful?

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about gratitude.

Rich’s Ride has focused my attention on the incredible generosity that surrounds me, the blessings that constantly arrive on my doorstep. It’s impossible to ignore the reality that I’ve got much for which to be thankful.

I could write a few words about how grateful I am. But, if I’m honest, the nasty truth is that frequently I don’t feel grateful. I take so much for granted, and too often I see only what I don’t have.

That’s difficult to admit. Don’t “real Christians” always feel grateful?

I don’t think so. I think television Christians always feel grateful. I think a lot of Christians have been shamed into believing they’re supposed to feel a constant sense of thankfulness. I think churches are filled with folks who pretend, mostly out of guilt, to feel a lot of stuff they don’t always feel.

I think the very last thing Jesus wants is followers who pretend.

So…does that mean I shouldn’t always strive to be grateful? Of course not. It means that being grateful has little correlation with feeling grateful.

That’s the whole idea behind living life on purpose. It means intentionally choosing my actions and attitudes instead of being a slave to my feelings. It means principled responses rather than knee-jerk reactions.

I can choose thankfulness even when I don’t feel especially thankful. I don’t think that’s pretending—it’s an authentic choice to overcome my human imperfections Perhaps one way to do this is to recognize things for which I’m thankful, things I tend to take for granted. I have a small object near my computer; each time I see it I stop and think of something for which I’m grateful right now.

I don’t want another perfunctory habit.

I want to be grateful.

What’s something for which you’re thankful—right now?

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 Forgetting the Former Things?

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

On the final day of Rich’s Ride I spent some time wondering what final insights I might glean from the scripture I’d been pondering for the past eight weeks.

I recalled a pastor friend suggesting that a good tactic involves highlighting different words. So for a few miles I thought about how the third line took on slightly different textures as different words were emphasized.

See, I am doing a new thing!

I

God is doing a new thing. It’s not up to me.

Surely He invites my participation, but He’s not waiting around for my approval or my permission. He’s got a plan, and it’s HIS thing, not mine.

DOING

He’s not planning or pondering. It’s not some future vision. He’s DOING it, right now. I just need to open my eyes and see it.

NEW

I know what “new” means in my world, but imagine what “new” connotes from the perspective of the infinite creator of the universe. When He says something’s NEW, it might be a good idea to take note.

See, I am doing a new thing!

I want to perceive it.

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Dixon
Copyright 2011 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