Archive for March, 2012

Identity: Who are you?

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Who are you?

You are what you eat. Or what you drive, or where you live, or how you earn a living.

Of course, none of these are true. But…who are you? What’s the source of identity?

I spent thirty-five years working with adolescents. Perhaps the biggest developmental task for these kids was figuring out their answer to “Who are you?”

One of the really fun and frustrating aspects of working with teenagers is that they’re living, breathing contradictions in nearly every corner of their lives. Loving adolescents means accepting that they’re in-progress, which means taking them very seriously while being able to chuckle at their wildly incongruous actions.

In terms of identity, they’re absolutely certain about who they are. They’re absolutely certain they’ll always be that person. And they’re absolutely wrong.

Kids believe they are who they hang out with. They’re fiercely loyal to their particular group because, from their perspective, the group is literally who they ARE. They do crazy, dangerous, and often cruel acts—anything is justified by maintaining connection to their group. Lose the group, lose who you are.

Of course that’s simply not true, though you wouldn’t know it from the number of “adults” who continue to behave as though they’re identified by the people and circumstances around them.

I’ll toss this out for consideration: You are what you value. Or perhaps You are what you try to value.

Not “what you claim to value” but what you actually value, as indicated by your priorities, actions, and allocation of resources.

That’s what I’m exploring this week. Your thoughts?

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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

Reminders of God’s Faithfulness

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

The Lord of hosts has sworn, saying, “Surely, as I have thought,
so it shall come to pass, And as I have purposed, so it shall stand”
(Isaiah 14:24, NKJV).


The Old Testament is full of instances where God instructed people to set up some sort of altar to commemorate something wonderful the Lord had done. God knew it was important for frail human beings to be reminded of His faithfulness. Think about it. How many times has God come through for us, causing us to rejoice and thank Him and believe — at that moment — that we will never doubt Him again? And then another trial comes along, and…sure enough, there we go again, wondering if God will do as He promised or abandon us to our own devices.

That’s one of the reasons I love Isaiah 14:24 and quote it often. The verse isn’t just a promise to us that God will be faithful; it is God Himself swearing to us that just as He has been faithful in the past, He will continue to be faithful in the future. If God has purposed something, it will happen. Nothing you or I or the devil himself can do will ever negate or thwart God’s purpose or plan.

Now let’s take that to the next step, remembering that we are an integral part of God’s plan and purpose. God has also promised in Jeremiah 29:11 that His plans for His people are good plans, to give us “a future and a hope.” If that is true — and we know it is because it is written in His Word — and if it is also true that as God has fulfilled His purposes in the past He will do the same in the future, then regardless of the circumstances or situations that threaten and swirl around us, we can rest in the peace and promise of God’s faithfulness.

If you don’t have a memorial of some sort to remind you of that great truth, I encourage you to establish one soon — a piece of paper with the above scripture written out where you can see it, a rock with the chapter and verse painted on it, anything that will serve as a reminder that God’s faithfulness is greater than anything that comes against you today — or ever. Remembering God’s promises has brought me great peace through the years, and it will do the same for you.

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

Why Forgive?

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

I’m glad I’m not a preacher. I hate to imagine the mess I’d create by trying to tell others how to follow Jesus. I have enough trouble figuring out my own messed-up journey.

I’m also glad I’m not a preacher because I’d probably end up spreading all sorts of heresy. It’s bad enough when I get these weird ideas about God. It’s good that no one actually thinks I know what I’m talking about.

One of my recent weird ideas involves why God wants me to do certain things. For example, why does He instruct me to glorify Him in whatever I do?

I’m thinking that God doesn’t need my admiration or affirmation. He knows who He is. My petty worship does nothing for Him. Why in the world would He care?

I know it’s more complex than this, but what if He cares because He knows it’s what’s best for me? What if it’s not about adding something to Him—a silly notion—but rather about helping me to live the way He made me?

What if the stuff He wants me to do isn’t for His benefit at all? Makes sense, since He’s God and there’s really not much I can do for Him.

What if Jesus’ “servant leader” model is really God’s core character? I have absolutely nothing to offer, but He enters into relationship with me anyway, simply because He loves me. So when God tells me to do everything for His glory, what if it’s not what He needs but what makes my life full and rich, exactly the way He designed it?

What if “it’s not about Rich” isn’t intended to diminish me. What if God’s direction toward an others-centered perspective is precisely what I need to be completely fulfilled?

Maybe I’m nuts. I’d love to hear your thoughts. But how does all of this relate to the title: Why Forgive?

What if forgiving isn’t just an arbitrary command, some capricious test of obedience to see if we’re paying attention? What if it’s really pointing toward the absolute best, most fulfilling life?

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

What if Jesus forgave his killers because He knew it was the most life-affirming, fully human response available? What if forgiving and serving aren’t boundaries but the ultimate path to perfect freedom?

Wow. That’s a lot of “what-if’s.”

I’m glad I’m not a preacher.

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

“Please heal her!” – Forgiveness and Prayer

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

 Numbers 12:13:  So Moses cried out the LORD, “O God, please heal her!”

Miriam, Moses’ sister and Aaron, his brother, were supposed to help Moses lead the Israelites out of slavery.

However, while Moses talked with God, Miriam and Aaron criticized Moses and caused the people to turn against him.

In verse 8, God asked Miriam and Aaron, “Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?”  In verse 10, God disciplined Miriam, and she became leprous.

Moses could have said that’s what she deserved for talking about her own brother and causing division among the people. He could have stood back and laughed. He did neither.

Moses forgave Miriam and asked God to heal her. God did but told Moses to confine her outside the camp for seven days.

In a fallen world with imperfect people, they will hurt us. For our own physical, emotional and spiritual health, we need to forgive as Moses did.

Dear God, help me forgive those who hurt me. Amen.

Application:  Whom do you need to forgive 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

Can’t Forgive

Monday, March 12th, 2012

“Some actions just can’t be forgiven.”

It was a long time ago, in the midst of horrible circumstances, when a pastor said those six words to me.

I thought he mis-spoke. I asked him to repeat. He said it again, clearly and slowly and deliberately. “Some actions just can’t be forgiven.”

At the time I didn’t appreciate the level of pain. I just knew we should forgive, and I figured a pastor ought to know that. But knowing is easy. Everyone who follows Jesus, and even most who don’t, know about forgiving.

Knowing doesn’t help much.

# # #

There’s a story I tell sometimes when I’m speaking about  getting past adversity.

A young man named Cody stood in a courtroom, about to be sentenced for a tragic crime, one senseless moment that changed a bunch of lives forever. In one instant of careless driving, Cody swerved and hit two men who’d stopped to help a guy with car trouble.

Zach Templeton—dad, husband, and state trooper, died. Scott Hinshaw, his partner and best friend, was seriously injured. Now, as the man who killed his buddy and nearly killed him stood to be sentenced, Scott asked to speak. He spoke directly to Cody. Here’s part of what he said:

“I’m willing to stand with you and do community service with you and help you honor Zach.

“You messed up Cody, and that one decision cost a life.

“Although you did this … I refuse, and I do not want you, to let this ruin your life.

“You made a mistake. Do not let it define who you are.

“My advice to you is to be better than you can ever be …

“Carry on, brother. We’ll get better.”

This is where life gets real, where it’s not a set of lofty ideas, where that notion of “the valley of the shadow of death” isn’t just poetic imagery.

Ever been there? Thoughts?

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

Hasten and Not Delay

Friday, March 9th, 2012

Psalm 119:60: “I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands.”

I don’t know about you, but that phrase, “hasten and not delay” gets me in trouble every time.

I want to obey God, but sometimes I think my life should go a certain way. Then God comes along and tells me his plan. It doesn’t go with mine, and I ask him if he’s sure.

He assures me that he is, but I want him to confirm and re-confirm. I haven’t asked him to let angels blow their trumpets and knock at my front door, but I’ve thought about it.

What gets in the way of obedience to God’s commands? Sometimes it’s fear. I tell God, “I can’t do that. Get someone else.”

Sometimes it’s anger. “God. I don’t want to do that. I don’t have time.”

Other times, it’s pride. “God, here’s what I want to do. Please bless it.”

In the end, I fall to my knees and say, “I give up, God. I’ll do it your way.”

To hasten and not delay to obey God’s commands is the best way. In spite of past delays, I continue to strive for immediate obedience. How about you?

Dear God, help me hasten and not delay to obey your commands. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to obey God without delay?

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

Do You Struggle with Trusing God?

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent (Exodus 14:14, NASB).

Is there any better example anywhere of God fighting for His people than in Exodus, where He used Moses to lead the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt? The story of God’s deliverance involves plagues, death of firstborns, and the parting of a great body of water. God’s people escaped on dry land, while others drowned when the waters of the Red Sea returned to their original place. Quite a dramatic and epic event!

I suppose the one thing that stands out to me most in this story is the statement above, that the Lord will fight for his people when they keep silent. Anyone else find that the toughest thing to do at times? Seriously, once we’ve sought (and received) God’s clear direction on something, why do we find it so difficult to keep silent as we watch His plan unfold? Is it because He most often chooses to do things differently than we think He should? Do we feel compelled to question Him, and even try to correct Him, when we grow uncomfortable with the way things are going?

I can only imagine how the Israelites felt when they realized they were trapped between the fire-breathing Egyptians and a huge body of water. Now what? Where do we go now? Did You really mean to bring us here, Lord? Couldn’t You at least provide a few boats so we can get across to the other side before our former captives annihilate us?

God calls us to prayer and obedience, not whining and second-guessing. I know that, but I confess on many occasions to giving in to the latter rather than sticking with the former. And then I wonder why God doesn’t step in and work things out as I think He should.

Is it possible He’s simply waiting for me to “keep silent” before Him, to trust that He will fulfill His purposes—in His way and in His time, for His glory? If you, like me, struggle with trusting God, particularly in the face of fears and uncertainties, perhaps it’s time we all practiced keeping silent a bit more—and watching to see how God will part the waters in front of us.

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

Enough (part 2) – Do you really believe what you believe?

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Do you really believe what you believe?

I invite you to try a small experiment with me.

Think of a situation that prompts worry or conflict or anxiety for you. Doesn’t have to be monumental, but it can be. Maybe you’ve talked to Jesus about it. If not, do that. If so, maybe do it again.

Do you believe Jesus hears your pain?

Do you believe He cares?

Do you believe He holds authority over this situation?

Do you believe He has the power to deal with it?

Do you believe He always works for good?

Okay, now imagine that He’s sitting right in front of you, that He’s heard and understood your deepest fears. And then He takes your hand and gently says,

“I know. I understand. And I’m taking care of it.”

Is that enough?

Me? I want details. HOW is He taking care of it? When? And He says again:

“I know. I understand. And I’m taking care of it.”

Is it enough?

Me? “I do believe. Please help me overcome my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)

Is it enough?

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

Should

Monday, March 5th, 2012

For some reason I’ve recently encountered—a lot—today’s difficult word-of-the-week…

SHOULD

We’ve all been in this position.

You’re struggling, hurting with the kind of pain that stops you right in your tracks. And as you wonder where you’ll find the strength to take the next breath some well-meaning friend says, “You should …”

And you want to reply, “Oh, really? Great. That’s exactly what I needed. Because I didn’t know I’m supposed to forgive and trust God and not worry. I didn’t know I ought to love my enemy and find joy in the challenge of adversity. Thanks for the extra guilt, reminding me of what I already know and can’t find the courage or will or strength to do.”

When someone’s hurting and scared, they don’t need me to “should” on them. They need me to walk through the valley with them.

That’s a hard thing. And it’s the only thing that helps.

Here’s to a week without “should.”

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

Enough? (part 1)

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

It’s a common occurrence in our small group.

We study a passage and dig out its meaning. Then comes the inevitable question:

How do we make this real in our daily lives?

This time the passage was from Mark 1 and the central issue was the authority of Jesus. We talked around the details and finally distilled a central thought:

Jesus is THE ultimate authority. Over everything. Period.

The thing is, we all know that. It’s not a new idea. Everyone in the group acknowledges Jesus’ absolute authority.

And then we confronted that pesky question: How do we make this real in our daily lives?

We talked around it. It seemed that we’re all sort of frustrated with studying and acknowledging and not-knowing how to let it impact the daily stuff. We talked about the things we KNOW He understands and cares about and deals with for us. We wondered why, when we know that, we still fuss and worry.

And then someone said, “What would Jesus say to us, about any particular situation, if He was sitting in that chair?”

Good question. We talked around that one and finally came down to something pretty simple.

Jesus would listen. Deeply. And then He’d say, “I know. I understand. And I’m taking care of it.”

And we wondered…would that be enough?

Good question.

Would Jesus words—“I know. I understand. I’m taking care of it.”—be enough?

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