Archive for February, 2012

Restore My Life

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Psalm 71:20: “Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again.”

What comfort to know God will restore our lives again. Perhaps you have lost a job or a home because of the economy. God will restore your life again.

Maybe you’ve suffered physical or sexual abuse as a child. God will restore your life again.

Through death or divorce, you may have lost a spouse. God will restore your life again.

No matter what the trial is, God will restore your life again. The second part of verse 20 says, “From the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.” That’s a promise from God.

Verse 21 says, “You will increase my honor and comfort me once again.” What a joy to read these verses on Valentine’s Day. God loves us so much.

Dear God, help me trust you to restore my life again. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Application: Allow God to comfort 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

Have you ever experienced a divine appointment?

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Some of us are old enough to recall Apollo 13 as something besides a movie. The mission launched on April 11, 1970 to complete the third manned moon landing. To outside observers, spaceflight had become almost commonplace. This appeared to be just another routine mission, but Apollo 13 reminded everyone that space exploration was anything but “routine.”

We all know the disaster that occurred when an oxygen tank explosion ripped a gaping hole in the spacecraft. Critical systems were crippled, the moon landing was aborted. I remember watching with everyone else during the following days as an army of engineers and support personnel did about a million things at once to save three astronauts and figure out how to get them safely back to Earth.

Apollo missions included planned course corrections necessary to hit precise navigation targets. Computer guidance normally accomplished these complex adjustments automatically, but the explosion damaged those systems. As the crew rounded the moon and began their return trip, their fragile ship drifted off course. They would have to manually alter their path. Using untested methods and calculations relayed from ground controllers, three men had to hit a tiny moving target more than a hundred thousand miles away.

To save their lives they had to set their ship in a trajectory that would bring them and the target to precisely the same point. Even a minor error would send them to their deaths.

I can’t imagine how impossible it must have seemed to hit a moving re-entry window less than thirty miles across from tens of thousands of miles away. The astronauts had to establish a curved trajectory that anticipated numerous variables and aimed at an empty spot in space. Their skill brought them and their target to exactly the same point at the same time.

I think that’s how God works most of the time. He makes seemingly small course corrections (one-degree miracles) that sometimes send us in directions that don’t make sense. It’s as if we’re headed into empty space.

I think that’s what happens as we do our best to listen and follow. He gently re-directs us and sets us on trajectories that bring us to places He can use us.

The problem, of course, is that we can’t possibly see what He sees. We try to draw straight lines and make simplistic cause-effect conclusions, but it’s not that simple or immediate.

Think of a time when you’ve found yourself in just the right place with just the right people in a setting no one could’ve anticipated, a time when something powerful happened that changed lives in a powerful way. And if you believe in God you know it didn’t happen by accident. It was a “divine appointment.”

Now imagine all that went into bringing those folks to that point, all the small decisions and twists and mistakes that placed people on trajectories that intersected in that tiny window of time. Imagine the endless course corrections, one small moment of each life building on thousands of others, all leading to that divine appointment.

What are your thoughts about trajectories and divine appointments?

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

What’s A Dream?

Friday, February 10th, 2012

That’s a pesky question: What’s a dream?

I think a lot these days about God-sized dreams. It’s a byproduct of talking about Rich’s Ride.

People ask questions. The questions make me think. Thinking leads to tougher questions more than to simple answers.

I think…therefore I am more perplexed than before.

So someone asked, “What do you mean by a dream?”

It’s a fair question. If I’m going to talk about dreams I ought to have at least a working definition. And I don’t—yet. Hence, the thinking.

My first idea was that dreams probably occur in your personal sweet spot, the space where gifts, passions, and needs intersect.

Activities that hit your sweet spot are sustainable even when they’re difficult. Success is more likely because you’re using your gifts. Perseverance is enhanced because you’re doing what you love and meeting your internally hardwired desire to serve others.

Sounds pretty good, huh? But then those nagging questions returned. Does every sweet spot activity qualify as a dream?

What do you think?

I enjoyed teaching. I was very good at it. And surely I served many needs as a teacher. Teaching kids was definitely in my sweet spot.

But teaching wasn’t a dream. In alternate circumstances I might have happily and successfully pursued other sweet spot careers. Dreams are something more specific.

If you’re expecting a magic answer, stop reading. I’d like to toss out some ideas and see what you might add.

I don’t think dreams are about size or scope. People often tell me they must not be dreamers because they have no desire to move to Africa or run triathlons. I think that doesn’t matter. Writing a book or blog to reach an audience that needs your message could be a dream, as might any  number of apparently “ordinary” activities. One man’s boring job may be another’s lifetime dream.

  • I think dreams involve risk. Personal, emotional, physical, or financial—pursuit of a dream takes you out of your comfort zone.
  • So chasing a dream requires courage. When something important is at stake (risk) you’re going to experience fear of failure and loss. Courage confronts and embraces the fear and moves forward anyway.
  • Dreams, I think, entail sacrifice of some sort.

Someone asked if an authentic dream must align with God’s will. I’d say definitely YES. I believe that’s the nature of the sweet spot, but I’m not sure.

I’m also convinced that dreams aren’t limited to a select few chosen individuals I suspect that God plants dreams in every heart.

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

Can You Hear Your Father Calling?

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

By faith he [Abraham] dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country,
dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise;
for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:9-10, NKJV).

I’ve just finished writing a novel about a homeless family, and it really has heightened my awareness of the meaning of “home,” and all that goes with it.

I’m a home-body. Oh, I love traveling to fun places, but truthfully, there’s nowhere I’d rather be than at home. I like the comfortable surroundings, the familiar setting, the feeling of belonging, don’t you? And as I researched and wrote about people who no longer have a place to call home, I wrestled with being grateful for all I have while agonizing for those who don’t share my blessing.

The great patriarch Abraham had a way of putting it all in perspective. Undoubtedly a wealthy man, living a life of relative ease before God called him to leave the familiar behind and travel to an unknown destination, Abraham obeyed and struck out for parts unknown. No longer did he have a place to call home, as he and his household became nomads, living in tents. The Scriptures say he considered his new life as dwelling “in a foreign land” while “he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” Abraham knew that home wasn’t so much a place as it was a Person. Heaven, after all, is only heaven because God is there. The absence of God is what makes hell a place where no one wants to go.

Dr. Billy Graham just turned 93 and released a book called Nearing Home. Like Abraham, he knows he dwells in a foreign land, awaiting the call to “come home” to be with his Savior and Lord. “Home is where the heart is” isn’t just an old saying; it’s a deep-seated truth that tells a lot about us. Where is our heart? Is it here, in the shadow-lands, desperately trying to hold on to things we cannot keep…or is it already at home with God, just waiting for our spirit to be released to go there?

Whether we live in a mansion or a tent, or even on the street, home awaits. Can you hear the Father calling?

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”

Play It Safe Or Go For It?

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Do you ever fumble tough questions?

I’ve told you before that my a favorite part of speaking is the Q&A sessions. It’s not because I do well.

Frequently someone asks a question that catches me completely by surprise. That happened last weekend at a church in a neighboring community. I told them about RICH’S RIDE and we had some time to talk about dogs and dreams and bike rides. A guy in the back raised his hand.

“I’ve always dreamed of doing a cross-country ride, but I have a traumatic brain injury. Would you advise me to play it safe or go for it?”

Now there’s a seemingly no-win question. If I tell him to play it safe I completely destroy my “live your God-sized dream” message. And you just know that if I tell him to go for it he’s going to crash and it’s going to be my fault.

I don’t know exactly what I said. Becky says it was good, so I won’t second-guess myself too much. But there are a few things I hope I’d say about tackling God-sized dreams.

There’s a difference between trust and recklessness. Some guys might be able to jump on a bike one morning and take off, trusting that they’ll handle whatever happens. A quadriplegic, or a guy with a traumatic brain injury, probably needs a bit more support.

Preparation doesn’t indicate a lack of faith. Scripture is filled with stories in which God prepared people, often for long periods, for specific purposes. Preparation is a good thing, because it allows us to be flexible once we begin the journey.

Some affirmation might be in order. I’m not sure this is universal, but I’ve found that I tend to resist and push away my dreams. It’s taken some gentle prompting and assurance from trusted friends to help me make a commitment.

Make sure it’s YOUR dream.I think it’s sad when someone does a mission trip or a triathlon to impress someone else or because they somehow believe they’ll earn God’s approval.

How can you know if it’s your dream? One test is to examine the preparation. In my case, I love riding and writing. I’d rather ride my bike and write than just about anything else. So training for the ride wasn’t a sacrifice at all—it was mostly just more fun.

You can’t remove all the risk. I wouldn’t trade the exhilaration I felt in this photo for all the safety in the world.

So, on balance, I’d say, “Go for it.”

That’s a partial list. What would you add?
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

Praying Day and Night

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Nehemiah 1: 5-6: “O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants.” (NIV)

One of Nehemiah’s brothers from Judah went to Nehemiah and told him the walls of Jerusalem were broken down, and its gates had been burned. Nehemiah was a cupbearer to the king at that time. Nehemiah 1:4 tells us that Nehemiah sat down and cried. For some days he mourned, fasted and prayed.

Look above and read verses 5 and 6 again. What a beautiful model for us on how to pray when we receive bad news. Nehemiah acknowledged who God is and praised him. He reminded God of the covenant of love with his people. Then he prayed.

As Christians, our lives are not perfect either. We face personal brokenness and destruction and see them all around us among believers. Some of us go through divorce, life-threatening diseases, multiple car accidents and multiple losses of loved ones. Others of us struggle with a marriage that needs a miracle, a job that threatens to break our spirit or lack of a job, the heartache of prodigal children, sickness in the family, financial difficulties because of a bad economy or a ministry that seems to be falling apart.

God made us with tears. No matter what needs to be rebuilt, like Nehemiah, we too can sit down and cry. Then we can follow Nehemiah’s next steps and mourn, fast and pray “for some days.”

Nehemiah demonstrated the formula for us. We can praise and worship God and remind him of his covenant with us as his children “who love him and obey his commands.” We can ask him to listen to our prayers. In verses 6 and 7, Nehemiah confessed his sins and those of his people. Confession remains an important part of rebuilding, and we must also include it.

Dear God, I weep in brokenness. Help me rebuild my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Application: When will I mourn, fast and pray for the rebuilding of my life or ministry?
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

Time to Seek the Lord

Monday, February 6th, 2012

 “Break up your unplowed ground;
for it is time to seek the LORD,
until he comes and showers righteousness on you.”
Hosea 10:12:


What does the phrase “unplowed ground” bring to your mind? I think of missed opportunities to strengthen my relationship with the Lord, of times when I could have stood up for what was right and witnessed to others but didn’t, and how I haven’t experienced the depth of God’s presence and power in my life that I could. I also think of times when I felt closer to the Lord. Perhaps you feel the same way.

We cannot be stuck in the past with guilt and shame over what we haven’t done, have missed, or how we’ve become lukewarm or hardened. That wouldn’t help.

However, we can tell God we are sorry for “the unplowed ground” in our lives, accept his forgiveness and then with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength seek the Lord. Remember he promises to shower righteousness on us.

A former neighbor of mine used to get so excited about the Redskins’ football games that I could hear him screaming and cheering through the walls. No matter what his circumstances were, he never missed a game. Everyone knew he loved the Redskins. What would happen if each of us got that enthusiastic about breaking up “the unplowed ground” in our lives and seeking the Lord? Imagine the personal and church-wide revival that could take place.

Let’s take time this week to read God’s Word daily, to sit still and listen for his gentle whisper, and to allow him to transform in our lives.

Dear God, help me break up “the unplowed ground” in my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Application: What will I do today to seek the Lord?

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 God’s will more like a compass or a map?

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

One of the things I like about blogging is the stuff I miss. I miss a lot.

It’s an immediate medium. I do actually put a bit of thought into the words, but we all know it’s also something of an in-progress work. So I frequently receive comments that cause me to think deeper or further.

One of my most frequent commenters is my lovely wife, Becky. Her comments usually occur in the kitchen, prefaced gently by a phase like, “Did you think about …?” Mostly the answer is, “No, I didn’t think about that at all.”

So I wasn’t surprised when she asked yesterday whether readers might feel like I was leaving God out of the mix when I used Don Miller’s metaphor and encouraged you to Share A Great Story.

Two good questions: first, did I leave God out of the equation? I hope not. If I did, it wasn’t intentional. I don’t believe it’s possible to live a truly great story that’s not centered on His will.

And there’s the second question: Is God’s will more like a compass or a map? In story language, who’s the author?

In map language, God’s the author. God has a detailed plan for our lives written in advance. Our task is to discover and follow that plan. God provides the map, I do my best to follow it.

In compass language, I’m the author—following God’s outline or direction. He defines the parameters of a great story and gives me unique gifts and opportunities to use them. He wants me to be creative, as He’s creative. He wants me to write a great story, using Him as compass or co-author or guide.

I don’t think either model is 100% correct. God isn’t that simplistic. As I’ve said before, there’s mystery in the interplay between human free will and God’s omnipotence that’s slightly (or maybe more) beyond my comprehension.

But it’s obvious which way I lean. God’s will for my life is pretty clear. He wants me to spend time with Him, love my wife, share my gifts with others, care for the needy. That seems to be compass language that points me toward True North. It’s up to me to fill in the details, and always be willing to let Him interrupt.

What He doesn’t seem to want is for me to sit around waiting for a cosmic traffic light to tell me to get moving. The light’s already bright green.

“Follow me.”

“Go and make disciples.”

Time to go. You and I and God have a story to write.

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

God is Rewriting the Text of Your Life!

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

God rewrote the text of my life
when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.
(Psalm 18:24, The Message).

I seldom use The Message for personal Bible study or quotes, but when I came across the above phrase, the writer in me responded with a hearty “Yes!”

Can anyone relate? Have you ever caught yourself bumbling along, trying to orchestrate your life, order your steps, direct your future—and then stopped and asked yourself, “What was I thinking?”

We are not the captain of our own ship or the master of our own fate, but we sure act like it sometimes, don’t we? Oh, I know, before we become Christians we actually believe that we are and live accordingly. Then we come face to face with the Savior, turn our lives over to Him, and we never make that foolish mistake again. Right?

Well, theoretically, we don’t. And most of the time, not intentionally. But unless I’m different than every other believer on planet earth, we do slip into that faulty thinking on occasion. And oh, what a mess we can make of things! Those self-written chapters of our lives are made up of text we’d like to delete, aren’t they?

Psalm 8:24 holds the secret to the edit button. Though we can’t go back and erase what we’ve already written, if we will be honest with God about the foolishness and regret in our heart, He can (and will) rewrite the text of our lives. Though the sins and mistakes of the past may still have consequences today, we can be assured that the God of the universe will somehow bring good out of even the worst pages of our past.

As a writer, I know how easy it is to go off on a self-imposed tangent, to become distracted and get off-track. The result is poorly written material and lots of wasted time. But just as God has so graciously redeemed my poor writing and wasted time, so He will redeem and rewrite the text of our lives if we will just open our hearts to him and allow Him to finish our book for us.

He is, after all, the Author and Finisher of our faith.

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

Everybody’s Got a Story

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Have you ever thought about that?

Wherever Becky and I tell the story of RICH’S RIDE, we inevitably hear compelling stories in return. It’s as though hearing about our adventure releases others to share their own experiences.

I love listening to these stories. We often hang around for a long time afterward, just listening. It’s a wonderful experience, but there are a couple of disturbing aspects to many of the stories we hear.

One is a sense that our stories happen to us. Folks with this perspective speak in fatalistic, victim terminology, as though they had nothing to do with the direction of their lives.

We need to acknowledge that life isn’t simplistic, that events occur clearly beyond our control. I don’t begin to understand how God’s will meshes with human freedom of choice.

But to a large degree, each of us decides the nature of our story. We choose to dream—or not. We choose the habits that shape our character. One of my goals whenever I speak is to encourage folks to own their personal story, to believe they’re the author. I want people to believe in hope that allows them to dream and re-write a story with which they may not be satisfied.

It’s absolutely true that every person is a single choice away from a new story.

The other is that it’s all about “the power of positive thinking.” Perhaps it’s simply semantics, but positive thinking sounds like a platitude, pasting a pretend positive spin on decidedly negative events.

I’d rather talk about scripture’s promise that God causes ALL things to work together for good. God always honors His promises, and in that I find enduring, long-term hope.

I expect God’s faithfulness, no matter the circumstances, even when I can’t see it. I believe I can lean on His promises and continue to write a story of hope.

You’re the author of your story. Write a great one, one worth sharing.

Share your story with Christians in Recovery.

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: