Archive for January, 2012

The Good Deposit

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Guard through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us,
the treasure which has been entrusted to you.
2 Timothy 1:14 New American Standard

What an awesome truth to know the Holy Spirit dwells in us. If we keep that in mind, we will think, speak and act as those in whom the Holy Spirit dwells.

What is the treasure entrusted to us? It is the Bible, the inspired Word of God. When we consider the Bible as the treasure it is, we will read it daily.

It is God’s love letter to us. How many times do you read love letters from a special person in your life? You may even carry them with you everywhere you go.

We will want to meditate on the Bible and memorize verses in that treasure that speak to our circumstances.

The last part of the verse tells us the treasure “has been entrusted to [us].” God loves us so much that he entrusts us with his Word. What are we doing with it?

Dear God, help me treasure your Word. Amen.

Application:  What will you do this week to guard the treasure?

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Copyright 2010-2012, 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 “Special Needs” Biblically Sound?

Monday, January 30th, 2012

The more I think about it the more I’m convinced that the notion of “special needs” isn’t biblically sound.

My friend Tim pastors a church in Denver, and he talks a lot about the “Y’all Come In” mentality. In that view, if the church opens the door and puts down a welcome mat, that’s enough.

Except that it’s not enough.

At Tim’s church they send people to homeless shelters and by-the-week motels. They sit with people one-on-one, talk with them, assure them they’re valued and needed.

Those aren’t the comfortable church people. Often they’re dirty and smelly. Sometimes they’re manipulative or mistrustful. They’re certainly the most materially needy, and they’re also the least likely to respond to “Y’all Come In.”

In Tim’s eyes this isn’t a special ministry to special people who need the church. It’s a biblical ministry seeking folks with essential gifts the church needs.

I think it’s a lot like that with people who face physical, emotional, or mental challenges. I suppose it would be ideal if everyone felt equally welcome and accepted. They don’t. We don’t.

Suppose it’s not about meeting “special needs.” What if it’s about really believing that every person brings unique gifts to the table and that every excluded person means an incomplete body?

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, 12-14

I don’t know how to make this happen. Well, actually, I do—we all do. What I really don’t know is how to make it comfortable.

It’s uncomfortable to be around those who are different. It’s just easier to worship in familiar surroundings with familiar people and familiar ideas. Folks with disabilities, folks who don’t “fit in” in some way—they make us uncomfortable. There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that.

What’s wrong is letting that discomfort control us. Folks who look or act differently, who evoke feeling of discomfort—we can’t just open the door and say “Y’all Come In.” And we can’t shuffle them off to the side into “special” sections or “special” programs that that serve our needs much more than theirs.

We need to go get them. We need to include them. We need to equip them to use their unique gifts in ministry.

Just like everyone else.

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Dixon
Copyright 2008-2012 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

Why Humility?

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Humble yourselves. That sounds obscene. At least to the culture of self-promotion and “get ahead at all cost” and “don’t look back, the competition is gaining on you” it sounds obscene.

Humility is a forgotten virtue. Often confused with weakness or timidity, humility is about knowing our proper place in the world without flaunting it. Only God can exalt in a permanent way, so the key is to know our place before him and let him put us in the place he chooses to honor him.

A humble heart is tender towards God, and He responds when it cries out to Him. And that may be why He sometimes allows hard things into our lives – to bring forth the fruit of humility.

As God does great things in our midst, we don’t ever want to forget what He’s brought us through. We can do nothing without His intervention. But as we keep humble, contrite, tender hearts, there is no end to what He can accomplish not merely in our own lives, but for our children’s children.

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Copyright 2010-2012, 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

Do You Struggle with Obedience?

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
As in obeying the voice of the LORD?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice.
(1 Samuel 15:22, NKJV)


Obedience. It’s a word I’ve struggled with since I was a toddler. No one knew that better than my parents. I flopped my toe across every line they drew in front of me—and I nearly always paid a price for my disobedience. But at 26 I became a Christian. Surely disobedience wouldn’t be a problem any longer…right?
Wrong. I still struggle with it to this day, though I know I’ve made a lot of progress—not because I’m faithful but because God is. I’ve learned this “obedience thing” is a lifelong process, and God is committed to teaching us how to walk in it.

There are reasons for that, one of them being that when we walk in obedience, God does amazing things through us. I used to think it was some sort of magical formula: I’d obey God, and He’d reward me with something wonderful. Wrong again. (I suppose I’ve been slow in understanding this concept because, somehow, I still think it’s all about me. I’m the only one who’s ever thought that, right?)

And then a couple of days ago I came across the journal my mom was using just before she died. She filled scores of them through the years, but this one is especially meaningful, as it gives me a glimpse into her thoughts and prayers, her communication with God in her last days on earth. The final entry, in her shaky handwriting, reads,

“Obedience is the key word of miracles. Sometimes we feel prompted by God to do something that makes no sense, but if we do it, it becomes a miracle.”

Wow. Mom was 90 years old when she penned those words, and she had no idea how they would bless me after she was gone. I now have them in the top drawer of my desk, where I can pull them out and read them often—each time I’m tempted to flop my toe across God’s line. Do I need a miracle in my life, either for myself or someone else? Most of the time, I do. And now I know the key to seeing that miracle come to pass: be obedient to that still, small voice inside that prompts us to obey God, whether it makes sense at the moment or not. God, in His faithfulness, will accomplish the rest.

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Copyright 2009-2012 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

For Such A Time As This

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this? Esther 4:14b

It’s one of the really cool questions in the Bible.

Esther ascended to an influential position in a foreign land through a most unlikely series of events. She subsequently faced a difficult and potentially dangerous decision. Her uncle, Mordecai, encouraged her to overcome her fears and confront a volatile king on behalf of her people. “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Mordecai believed Esther faced a divine appointment, that God worked through events in her life and placed her in a strategic position. God orchestrated a complex set of mid-course corrections and long-term trajectories “for such a time as this.”

A pastor friend used to gaze solemnly around the congregation and say, “No one is here by accident.”

At the time it creeped me out because I thought everyone else knew why they were there and I had no clue why I was there.

Now I think it’s enough to believe there’s a purpose even when I don’t know exactly what it is.

I love the notion that God’s brought us together for such a time as this. Who knows?

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? Isaiah 43:18
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Dixon
Copyright 2008-2012 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

Is Every Circumstance Good?

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

GOOD

Most Sundays I prepare for church while listening to a local radio program called You Get The Blessing. I like it because the hosts take Jesus seriously and themselves not so much.

One of the hosts, Bo Mitchell, spent eight months in federal prison. This weekend he talked about how God has used that mistake for good. He expressed regret that he hasn’t been able to let go of his own negative attitudes about the experience.

Bo seems to believe that he should somehow perceive his prison time as a “good” thing. People have said similar things to me about my injury, but that’s just not how I see it.

Romans 8:28 assures us that God causes ALL things to work together for good. I’m not sure that means every circumstance IS good.

I don’t see paralysis and life in a wheelchair as a good thing, though God has certainly done many good works from those difficult situations. I don’t think I need to pretend that I like the injury, or believe God caused it, to see that God can bring good through it.

God causes even the worst, most evil, circumstances, to work together for good.

In that we find hope.

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Dixon
Copyright 2008-2012 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 Making the Most of Each Day?

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

You only get to live in this world once. Each moment is a treasured gift from God.

Every night when you fall asleep, another day has drifted away, disappearing down the ever flowing river of time into your memories. Yesterday can never be retrieved. Tomorrow morning, rise up with a radical faith that expects the impossible.

Offer your heart to God’s passions and invite him to activate his dreams in you.

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Copyright 2010-2012, 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

How to Make God Laugh

Friday, January 20th, 2012

If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.
I’m thinking I might amend this adage. Perhaps another way to make God chuckle is to claim that I understand the details of His plans.

Yesterday I shared a story over at Rich’s Ride about a Divine Appointment.

I believe that particular encounter in that context was a God-ordained moment. But I feel like I need to curb my enthusiastic certainty. It’s easy to get carried away with trusting my own limited perceptions.

It’s awfully tempting to assume that I know more than I do. If I’m not careful I can imagine that I understand how every occurrence fits into God’s plan. And from there it’s a small step to pretending I can know God’s will in every situation.

I can’t and I don’t and I need to remember that. He’s God, I’m not.

I can’t see from God’s infinite, eternal perspective. I can’t see past my selfish biases and desires. I don’t know how God’s omnipotence meshes with human freedom of choice. I don’t know how He incorporates my mistakes and resistance and feeble attempts at obedience into His promise to work for good in all circumstances.

I cannot possibly perceive the infinite calculations involved in God’s cosmic calculus. I delude myself whenever I pretend I know how specific short-term events fit into God’s eternal vision.

It’s not our job to shape events to conform to God’s plans. He’s already got that covered, and His mission will be accomplished with or without our cooperation. He doesn’t need us.

But His desire always involves relationship. He wants us to experience the joy of walking along and being involved in building His kingdom. He chooses to allow us to work with Him and experience the fullness of fellowship with Him.

Someone once said that God doesn’t usually place answers to prayers directly in our hands. Instead, He places them within our reach and offers to walk along with us.

I don’t know how that works, either. But Jesus knows.

Maybe understanding how God works isn’t my job. Maybe I should spend my time getting to know the One person who gets it.

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Dixon
Copyright 2008-2012 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 think God is Condeming You because of Your Failures?

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

There is therefore now no condemnation
to those who are in Christ Jesus,who do not walk according to the flesh,
but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:1, NKJV).

One of the very first Bible verses I learned as a new believer (decades ago!) was Romans 8:1. I read and heard many others, of course, but that one truly jumped out at me, I suppose because as a brand new born-again Christian, I was so freshly aware of all that God had done for me. That He had not only forgiven me but personally paid an unimaginable price to do so still left me in awe—which, of course, is a good thing. We should never cease to be amazed that God willingly gave everything for those of us who deserved nothing.

And yet, to keep that in perspective, I still have to remind myself that His forgiveness is so much greater than any of my sins, failures, or poor choices that required that forgiveness. Somehow I have little problem resolving the fact that His once-for-all sacrifice covers my “B.C.” (before Christ) sins, but I struggle more with my “after Christ” failures. I’m a believer now; I have the Spirit of God living inside me, and I should know better…right?

Right. Yes, I should. And deep down, I do. Still, I must remind myself daily that I am one of God’s “WIPs,”—a Work in Progress—and He’s far from through with me. (Are you as glad about that as I am???) Though I love the familiar (and true) statement that God loves me just the way I am, I also know He loves me too much to leave me that way.

Though I cling to the truth of Romans 8:1, meaning there is NOW no condemnation toward me regardless of my sins and failures, I also need to beware of using that promise as an excuse to stop growing in Christ. Our goal and purpose as believers is to continually draw closer to the Father and become more like Jesus, and we do that through an ongoing yielding of our will to the nudging of the Holy Spirit within us—“not walk[ing] according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” When we do that, the Spirit of God bears witness with our spirit that we are indeed His children and are no longer under condemnation.

If you’re struggling with that today—and we all do at times—ask God’s Spirit to search your heart and show you anything that needs to be confessed or relinquished to God—and then do it. The result will be a heart that KNOWS it is free of condemnation. And, beloved, what could be better than that?

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Copyright 2009-2012 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

In the Strength You Have

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Judges 6:14: “The LORD turned to him and said, ‘Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?’”

I froze when I went up north for a week. On the flight home, my right ear made crackling sounds three times. I got sick and lost my voice.

For several days I prayed God would heal me. I reminded him about my speaking engagements the following week. I would need a voice.

Then I read this passage from the Bible. I sensed God say, “Go in the strength you have, Yvonne. Am I not sending you?”

In faith, I packed my suitcase and practiced my presentation silently. My voice finally returned.

We all face challenges and disappointments. However, God still wants us to accomplish his mission for us on earth.

God doesn’t expect us to work miracles. That’s his job. He simply tells us to go in the strength we have. He sends us, and he will do the rest.

Dear God, help me go in the strength I have. Amen.

Application:  Where is God sending you this week?

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Copyright 2010-2012, 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