Archive for April, 2012

Will worrying make matters any better?

Monday, April 30th, 2012

“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” Matthew 6:27

So it is useless to worry! A short person cannot, by any amount of anxiety, make himself an inch taller. Why, therefore, should he waste his energy and fret his life away–in wishing he were taller?

One worries because he is too short–another because he is too tall;
one worries because he too lean–another because he is too heavy;
one worries because he has a lame foot–another because he has a mole on his face.
No amount of fretting will change any of these things!

People worry, too, over their circumstances. They are poor, and have to work hard. They have troubles, losses, and disappointments which come through causes entirely beyond their own control. They find difficulties in their environment which they cannot surmount. There are hard conditions in their lot which they cannot change.

Now why should they worry about these things? Will worrying make matters any better? Will discontent . . .
cure the blind eye, or
remove the ugly mole, or
give health to the infirm body?

Will chafing make . . .
the hard work, lighter;
or the burdens, easier;
or the troubles, fewer?

Will anxiety . . .
keep the winter away, or
keep the storm from rising, or
put coal in the cellar, or
put bread in the pantry, or
get clothes for the children?

Even human reason shows the uselessness of worrying, since it helps nothing, and only wastes one’s strength and unfits one for doing one’s best!

The Christian gospel goes farther, and says that even the hard things and the obstacles, are blessings–if we meet them in the right spirit. They are stepping-stones lifting our feet upward–disciplinary experiences in which we grow.

So we learn that we should quietly, and with faith in God’s Providence, accept life as it comes to us–fretting at nothing, yet changing hard conditions to easier ones if we can. And if we cannot–then we must use them as means for growth and advancement.

~ J.R. Miller, “Daily Bible Readings in the Life of Christ” 1890)

Are You Avoiding God?

Friday, April 27th, 2012

What’s stopping you from following your dream?

That’s the question I asked as the guys at the retreat prepared for a day of mountain biking, hiking, 4-wheeling, and rock climbing. I challenged them to talk with their companions about the fears that get in the way.

One particular response was particularly revealing. “I’m afraid if I really listen to God, He might tell me to do something I don’t really want to do.”

What a wonderful—and brutally honest—insight. It’s an interesting twist on a common complaint.

Lots of folks grumble that God never speaks to them. What if the real problem is that we’re afraid to listen? What if we intentionally keep God at a distance to avoid disrupting our self-created illusion of security?

Most of the guys around the fire that night agreed. We seek to serve—when it’s convenient, when it fits into the schedule. We want to finish well—but we need to guard the 401(k).

We want to follow—on our terms.

What if we’re not-so-secretly afraid that Jesus was serious when He said, “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26-27)

What if our efforts to follow Jesus in a safe, sanitary manner actually cause us to avoid God because we’re afraid of what He might say?

I stated my goal on Friday night: I wanted to pose some questions that might create a bit of internal dissonance, prompt conversations, and cause each guy to lose a few minutes of sleep. Sunday morning brought several mostly good-natured complaints, and demands for extra coffee, from men who didn’t sleep quite as much as planned.

I intended challenging questions. I didn’t plan on answers that would keep me awake.

Are you avoiding God because you’re afraid of what He might tell you?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog here
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 I be Perfect?

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

I spent the past few days speaking at a retreat in Moab, Utah. It was a perfect weekend.

I’m thinking about “perfect” because of a particular scripture passage:

“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect”. (Matthew 5:48)

That seems a bit unrealistic. I understand God’s perfection, but how can Jesus possibly expect me to match God’s flawless nature?

The Greek word teleios, translated “perfect,” means “full, needing nothing for completeness.” It’s different than our notion of perfection which implies a total absence of defects. It’s more about being what’s intended and completely fulfilling a purpose. In The Message the same passage clarifies:

“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”

This weekend wasn’t free of blemishes. But it did complete its intended purpose.

You and I can’t avoid errors. We’ll fail and stumble.

But we can grow up. We can live generously and graciously toward others. We can strive to live out our God-created identities.

We can’t achieve perfection. We can seek to be perfect.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog here
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

When challenges come—and they will, what do we do?

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Psalm 119:66:
“Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I believe in your commands.”

When challenges come—and they will, what do we do?

The psalmist prayed and asked God to teach him “knowledge and good judgment.”

If you recently received a diagnosis of cancer, you are probably scared. You may feel depressed and wonder if you’ll survive.

Perhaps a family member or friend struggles with a life-threatening disease or the loss of a job or a home. You may feel the same emotions as the one struggling with the disease or the loss.

God wants us to know we can go to him and ask for his help as we make the necessary decisions.

The qualities of knowledge and good judgment belong to God, but he longs to teach them to us. All we have to do is ask.

We are blessed to serve a God who loves us so much that he will teach us knowledge and good judgment. We don’t need to stumble in the dark.

The second part of the verse says, “For I believe in your commands.” God loves us, and his commands are good and worth believing.

The difficulties in our lives can shake our faith and we may find ourselves saying as the man whose son possessed a spirit, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).

Dear God, teach me knowledge and good judgment. Amen.

Application: How will you show this week that you believe God’s commands?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog here
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Copyright 2010-2012, Yvonne Ortega, LPC, LSATP, CCDVCAll 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

Counting Hidden Costs

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

A few days ago I asked What’s It Cost?

My basic conclusion was to count the cost (Luke 14:28) because following a dream is an all-in deal.

After reflecting on my own words (dangerous activity) I’m wondering if I asked the wrong question. Maybe we ought to ask:

What’s the cost of NOT following the dream?

A dream offers a choice. You have to decide, eventually, to follow or not-follow. It’s a mistake to perceive “not-follow” as a non-choice, because not-following is expensive.

Not-following has costs. Perhaps the most obvious is regret, a nagging lifelong sense of “what if?” rattling around in those spare moments when you’re not distracted by day-to-day tasks. Don’t dismiss it. “What if” haunts you forever.

The not-following costs are harder to nail down. People not touched, opportunities missed, gifts unused—it’s difficult to put those on a balance sheet.

A dream, a God-inspired desire, is its own entity. A dream invites. It shows up like Jesus and says, “Come. Follow me.” A dream opens a door and invites you to enter.

I don’t know where this bike-riding thing is leading. I’m consistently surprised by where I go, who I meet, and what I do.

Honestly, a big part of me wants to drop the whole notion. I don’t need the aggravation, the uncertainty, the risk. I’d rather drink another cup of coffee. I’ve tried to resist this dream’s invitation. It’s uncomfortable, and I don’t like uncomfortable.

For me it comes down to this (at the risk of a confusing double negative): I can’t be all-in for not-following.

Not-following means settling for safety and comfort. Not-following means “what if.” Not-following is expensive.

I’m following this dream—riding and writing—because I’m unwilling to pay the price to not-follow.

You?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog here
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

Are You Afraid of Suffering?

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions…what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. (2 Timothy 3:10-11, NKJV)

The Apostle Paul was no stranger to suffering, yet he was no whiner either. He patiently endured whatever hardships came his way as a result of his bold proclamation of faith in the risen Christ, knowing his Lord would keep him safe whatever happened.

Notice, however, that though Paul knew God would keep him safe, he didn’t expect Him to spare him from suffering. Paul understood that such things were part of the cost he must pay for serving the One whom the world rejected. Nothing much has changed in that regard, has it? Though we in many countries are free to worship God as we wish, others around the globe are not so blessed.

Jesus Himself set the example, didn’t He? Another Apostle, Thomas, wanted proof of that example. When he was told that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead, he didn’t ask to see Christ’s face or to hear His voice. He said he must touch His wounds, the scars that proved His suffering on our behalf, before he would believe. Graciously, Jesus accommodated him.

Our redemption was bought at a great price, so great we can scarcely begin to fathom it. The scars on the risen Christ’s body are testimony to that redemption and the unconditional love that sealed it.

Can we, as followers of Christ, expect any less? Even if we are not openly persecuted for our faith, there is always a price to pray, a part of self that needs to die daily so our risen Lord can live within us. There’s no room on the throne for two; only Jesus has earned the right to sit there. When we are called to any sort of suffering in our walk with Him, may we endure it humbly, knowing that the scars it produces will provide evidence of Christ’s love for others to see, that they too might believe and be saved.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog here
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

What’s It Cost?

Friday, April 20th, 2012

What’s the cost of following a dream?

Dreams aren’t free. You pay to follow a dream. Costs are measured in dollars, time, effort, and emotion.

How do you decide if following a dream is “worth it”?

Frankly, I don’t know how you answer that question. I suppose you can weigh anticipated risk against predicted reward, but I don’t think the decision to follow a dream depends on a balance sheet.

In fact, I’d bet most dreams wouldn’t survive an up-front cost-benefit analysis. I think you follow a dream despite potential risk
or cost.

A DREAM is a God-inspired desire to use your gifts and passions to serve and change the world.

When you respond to a God-inspired desire, I think you’re all-in. Jesus called it “counting the cost.”

But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? (Luke 14:28)

Jesus was talking about the cost of following Him. He admonished listeners to understand that following Him requires total commitment. You don’t get to hold anything back.

That’s kind of how it is to follow a dream. You jump into the deep end without knowing where it’ll lead or how it’ll turn out. You vow to do whatever it takes and trust God for the rest.

The size of your dream reflects the size of your God. If it doesn’t scare you, maybe you’re not dreaming big enough. It’s #1 on my list of What Did I Learn from Rich’s Ride:

Don’t allow your resources to determine your vision.

If the dream’s God-inspired, it’s worth it—whatever “it” happens to be.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog here
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.co

Since the Day We Heard about You

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Colossians 1:9: “Since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”

We have the privilege of praying for our family, friends, and co-workers.

One mother prayed for the future husbands of her daughters since they were babies. When each daughter became engaged, the mother would tell the young man how she had prayed for him for years.

When I pray for others, I often ask God to fill them to overflowing with his wisdom, discernment, knowledge, and understanding.

In our daily activities, we meet people at the post office, the gas station, the beauty shop, the grocery store, our place of employment, and other places. Let’s pray for them.

I sometimes ask people how I can pray for them. They are surprised that someone wants to pray for them and thank me afterward.

Let’s pray for our doctors and dentists. We want good care, don’t we?

Don’t forget our church staff and their families need our prayers every day.

Dear God, help me pray daily for my loved ones. Amen.

Application: Which special people will you pray for this week?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog here
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

Duty Or Love?

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Do you follow or obey Jesus out of a sense of duty or obligation?

Duty is only a substitute for love. ~ C. S. Lewis

I’ve always had this nagging sense that Jesus never wanted anyone to follow because they felt obligated or compelled. He doesn’t want followers who fear the consequences of not-following.

That’s why God sent a person rather than a list of rules or a book of theology. If I could know this person completely, I’d follow because I couldn’t imagine anything better. My desires lead me astray to the extent that I don’t truly “get” Jesus.

I encountered this wonderful quote from C. S. Lewis: Letters to Children:

A perfect man would never act from a sense of duty; he’d always want the right thing more than the wrong one. Duty is only a substitute for love (of God and of other people), like a crutch, which is a substitute for a leg. Most of us need the crutch at times; but of course it’s idiotic to use the crutch when our own legs (or own loves, tastes, habits etc) can do the journey on their own!

I think Lewis is saying that when we focus on duty—rules, obligations, anything that smacks of coercion—we create false gods.

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8

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

Whenever I feel guilty for not doing something, or afraid of what will happen if I don’t do something, I figure it’s a sign that I’m missing the point. Jesus isn’t about fear and guilt.

Following from a sense of obligation tells me where my desire isn’t aligned with the person of Jesus. It’s not telling me to fight my desire.

It’s telling me to learn more about love. It’s telling me I need to get to know Jesus better.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

One look at how this works in real life: Clear Eyes, Full Heart.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog here
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

A Fresh Coat Of Paint?

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Yesterday my friend Jon Swanson posted an article titled How Jesus Fixed Breakfast For Some Losers. Jon’s final line: If you’ve left your nets to follow Jesus, the way forward isn’t going to be by going back.

Jon’s got me thinking about how often I “go back.” Jesus addressed it:

“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.” Mark 2:21-22

I can’t patch Jesus onto the holes in my old life. I can’t dump out the junk and pour Him into the same empty container.

Jesus didn’t come to prop up a sagging life or serve as a fresh coat of paint on a dilapidated house. He came to tear down the old and build something new. He offers a solid foundation, but the old building’s gotta go first.

Am I willing to let Him do that? “Die to self” is a catchy little phrase–except for the “die” part. That pretty scary if I take it seriously.

But I think that’s exactly what He wants.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog here
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