Archive for April, 2012

Do I Have To Choose?

Monday, April 16th, 2012

    Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?
    Run in such a way as to get the prize. (1 Corinthians 9:24)

Which is more important in life—the journey or the destination?

Paper or plastic.

With us or against us.

As I work on writing the story of RICH’S RIDE (check out some excerpts here) I’m struck by how easily we’re drawn into false dilemmas.

Politicians and marketers insist that we “take a stand.” Anyone who refuses to choose—on their terms—becomes wishy-washy and indecisive. “Liberty or death!” demands a decision, right?

False dilemmas are just what the term implies—they’re false. They concoct an artificial line and frame the debate in terms of choosing the proper side of the line. That debate obscures important questions. Is this the right line? Does a line even exist?

But in most circumstances I don’t really have to select paper or plastic. Usually there’s a third, superior option that’s revealed by deeper thinking and better questions.

Which of my 255 TV channels should I watch? It’s a false dilemma. Maybe I should read a book or play with the dog.

Should I focus on the prize or how I pursue it?

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?
Run in such a way as to get the prize. (1 Corinthians 9:24)

Obviously the prize matters. It’s the reason for running.

But “how I run” matters, too.

It’s about the journey AND the destination.

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

Regret

Friday, April 13th, 2012

As I thought about the first Easter morning, it prompted me to wonder how I would’ve felt if I’d been part of Jesus’ circle of followers.

I missed the entire message. Jesus told me—in person—exactly what was going to happen. I listened, but obviously failed to understand.

I fell asleep, denied and deserted Him, and ran away. I hid in fear of the authorities. Despite hearing His teaching first-hand for three years, despite the miracles and healings, I clearly didn’t get it. I thought Jesus was dead and gone.

I’m overwhelmed with regret. Once I saw the empty tomb and realized He was really alive, I felt like a fool. I missed my chance. I regret my lack of faith and my unwillingness to support my friend and teacher.

I’ll bet He’s really angry at me, and really disappointed that I let Him down. I don’t think I can face Him. I’m afraid He’ll see only my shortcomings and failures.

I wouldn’t blame Him if He decided to dump all of us and find more dependable followers.

I blew it.

And then Jesus appeared and said, “Peace be with you.”

Jesus didn’t reject His friends. He assured them it would all be okay. Despite all their failures He stuck with them. He used them to spread His message and build His church.

I think that’s still happening today. He’s offering another chance.

I’m relieved. I’m grateful.

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

Are You “Me Centered?”

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Your own eyes have seen all the great work of the LORD
which He did (Deuteronomy 11:7, NASB).

I was 26 years old before I came to know the Lord personally. Prior to that I knew and, to some extent, believed the basic tenets of Christianity, including that Jesus “died for the sins of the world.” Unfortunately that didn’t impact me until I understood that He died for ME, for MY sins. That changed everything.

It’s amazing how me-centered we are, isn’t it? Even after we become believers and spend time growing spiritually, we still fight that tendency to think the universe revolves around us. And yet there are times that God wants us to personalize our faith; Deuteronomy 11 is a great example of that.

As a matter of fact, God spends a lot of time in Deuteronomy reminding and recounting His many amazing and merciful deeds on behalf of the Israelites. He wants them, as a nation of chosen people, to remember all that He has done for them so they won’t be drawn away by false gods or start thinking they accomplished anything by their own efforts.

But Deuteronomy 11:7 makes it personal: “Your own eyes have seen all the great work of the LORD which He did.” Yes, God is speaking to Israel as a nation, much as He speaks to the Church as a whole. But He also speaks to individuals, reminding us of what we have personally seen Him do for us. I am always blessed to read stories of what God has done for His people throughout the ages, but I am also blessed when I stop and remember all that He has done for me as an individual. My eyes truly have seen amazing things, times where God intervened on my behalf, and reflecting on those times encourages me when I face trials today.

Like the Israelites of old, we must not allow ourselves to be drawn away by false gods—and the world is full of them!—or be lulled by our egos into thinking we’ve accomplished anything on our own efforts. If we will make it a practice to meditate on God’s acts of love and kindness to us over the years, both personally and as a corporate Body of believers, we will certainly be more apt to cling to and trust Him for all that yet lies ahead.

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

How Do You Catagorize Yourself?

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

A bible story and a television commercial got me thinking about:
CATEGORIES

In a commercial for a soft drink, people appear on a street wearing t-shirts proclaiming their identity.

I’m a dreamer.
I’m a winner.
I’m a survivor.
I’m a wingman.
I’m a beginner.
I’m a fighter.
I’m a …

I wonder what it would look like if we gathered all the dreamers in a group, the winners in another group, and so on. Would the wingmen look different than the survivors? The beginners? The fighters?

Maybe more importantly…would we judge them, treat them differently, simply because of the labels on their shirts?

Sounds silly, right? Why would we base our opinions of people on something as superficial as a t-shirt slogan?

What if the labels were things like Democrat or Republican? How about Christian? Muslim? Mormon?

If we’re honest, I’ll bet some of those labels evoke some sort of reaction. It’s as though we know something about those people. We categorize individuals based on labels, and those categories subtly, or not so subtly, impact how we engage them.

Jesus experienced that same issue. In Mark 2:13-17 He called Levi to follow Him. Then He did the socially unthinkable: He accepted Levi’s dinner invitation.

Levi’s t-shirt said “I’m a tax collector.” In first century Jewish culture the tax collectors were the lowest of the low, the worst of the worst. They were outcasts, shunned by nearly everyone. So Levi’s only friends were other outcasts. In fact, they probably all wore shirts proclaiming “I’m an outcast.”

When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (verse 16)

I do it. You do it. We all put people in categories, often based on a superficial label that has little to do with the heart inside the shirt.

I’m beginning this week with gratitude for Jesus, who sees me and not the label on my t-shirt.

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

Touching Others for Christ and what it Means to You

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

The other day I posed this question:

What if it takes “300 touches” for someone to be ready to really see and accept Christ?

By a “touch” I mean an encounter, an impression, an interaction with Jesus. And of course there’s nothing magic about the number 300, but suppose it takes a certain number of touches for an individual to reach that point of readiness. And suppose those touches happen most often through the folks who already know and follow Jesus.

What would that mean for us?

Humility

It’s not about being “the one who led a soul to Jesus.” It’s not about getting credit or basking in the glory of being touch #300. Obviously we celebrate when someone reaches that point, but I don’t want extra credit. I want to be fine with being one of those touches along the way, perhaps one that was never recognized or acknowledged.

Patience

If I truly believe this process happens in God’s timing and control, perhaps the worst thing I could do is force or manipulate someone to touch #300 before they’re ready. If I’m touch #147, my role is to prepare that person for touch #148 and trust God. Forcing scripture verses on someone who’s not ready might turn her away and hinder the process. Sometimes I think the biggest obstacle to Jesus is overly “religious” people.

Availability

It’s pretty hard to be one of those touch points unless I get out of my own little protected world. I must be willing to interact, in their world, with those who need Jesus’ touch.

Awareness

What’s the need before me? How can I be “Jesus in blue jeans” to this person, right here, right now? A smile. A conversation. Something more? No way to know unless I’m always asking the question and seeking ways to be touch # ___.

I believe God wants to use us to be one of those touches in the life of every person we encounter. I believe He wants us to seek out those people and engage them wherever they are on their journey.

I believe He wants me to find joy in the anonymity, and the eternal significance, of being touch #147.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog here
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article ! Dixon

Who Needs Recovery?

Monday, April 9th, 2012

by Michael Liimatta

You probably need to consider seeking help if:

**  The last thing in the world you want to do is talk about your possible areas of “stuckness”.

** Your life is getting to be a repeat of one disaster after another.

** You are finding you feel less and less in control over problems you once thought were under control.

** You have noticed an increase in the frequency of the behaviors that you believe are a problem (lying, stealing, drinking, eating, gambling, etc.)

** You have family members that have begun to show concern about problem areas in your life.

** You feel that you are getting more of the things that you don’t want and less of the things you do want.

** You have unresolved issues from your past that periodically resurface, much to your discomfort.

— Tim Timmons from his tape set “AA means Anyone Anonymous”

What does it Mean to “Be Still?”

Friday, April 6th, 2012

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth. (Psalm 46:10, NKJV

With all the running around and deadline-meeting I’ve been doing lately, I wasn’t surprised to find myself immersed in the Psalms, focusing particularly on the first part of 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God.” That’s a scripture I come back to often, reminding myself of the need to break away from all my busyness and just listen to God. But today I found myself snagged by the rest of the verse: “I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Isn’t is amazing how we can make even the verses of the Bible “all about us”? I mean, seriously, we know life doesn’t work that way, and we even proclaim it—sometimes loudly and often. But oh, how often we forget that great truth and go right back to that tiny little universe that revolves around ourselves!

As I read and re-read the second part of that verse today, I realized God wasn’t telling me to be still and remember that He is God simply for my own sake (so I could rest and reflect and re-prioritize, though that is certainly a byproduct of practicing this scriptural admonition), but rather He is telling the residents of the earth to abandon their own pursuits and realize that only His purposes will be fulfilled—and that it is His Name that will be lifted up and glorified among the nations, not our own or anyone else’s, for that matter.

What a reminder this has been for me! Though I realize God wants me to slow down and make a point to spend time with Him regularly, He is also calling out to all mankind to stop its futile self-worship and to honor Him—while there is still time. For one day very soon God will no longer extend His mercy by withholding His final judgment. That day will come suddenly, and judgment will arrive with no more time for repentance or reflection or re-prioritizing.

It is time for each of us—all mankind, in every nation, across the earth—to “be still” and know that God reigns supreme, and His Name will indeed be glorified throughout the earth. For those of us who have acknowledged Christ as Savior, what a magnificent day that will be! Meanwhile, may we rededicate ourselves to praying for countless multitudes who have yet to bow their knee to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. May they do so before it is too late!

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

Touch #147: Leading others to Christ

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Do you think you can “lead someone to Jesus”?

The speaker says, “I’ve personally led ___ people to Jesus.”

Ever heard that sort of claim? I always get a bit nervous. I want to look around for scalps hanging on the wall or at least notches in a belt.

I’ve never personally led someone to Jesus. I don’t know exactly how people come to Christ, but I suspect the Holy Spirit is more involved in the leading process than I am. At least I hope so.

On the other hand, I know I’m involved. I know I matter in how people come to know Jesus, even if I don’t know exactly how the process works. And this week our pastor suggested an image that made a lot of sense.

What if it works sort of like advertising? What if it requires a certain number of impressions or “touches” before it really sinks in? And while there’s nothing special about it, let’s use the number “300.”

What if it takes “300 touches” for someone to be ready to really see and accept Christ?

If that’s how it happens, then reaching the place of accepting Jesus is really a trajectory of touches or interactions, each leading an individual a bit further along a path. And if I happen to represent touch #147 for someone during my day, my role is to represent Jesus at that point. I’ll probably never see the result, but that’s not really the point.

Touch #300 would seem like the monumental decision point, the place where the world changed. But maybe it never would have happened without touch #147.

I want to expand on this notion tomorrow. Today I’ll leave us with a couple of questions.

Are we okay with being touch #147? Or do we need the “honor” of being #300?

How can we be more aware when everything we do or say might be touch #147 for someone else?

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

Wicked Men

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Proverbs 24:1-2: “Do not envy wicked men, do not desire their company; for their hearts plot violence, and their lips talk about making trouble.”

“My husbands lived on the edge. Each marriage was exciting, but it didn’t last,” a woman told me in a discussion of her three marriages.

The woman admitted she was attracted to wicked men. She said good men were boring. However, each of her wicked husbands left her in a worse financial situation than she had been before.

Those evil men initially brought her excitement. In time they were violent and brought her far more trouble than excitement.

No wonder God tells us not to envy wicked men and not to desire their company. Men can also fall into the snare of wicked women.

God loves us so much that he warns us against wicked people to protect us, his children.

Enough violence and trouble exist in our world without desiring the company of people who thrive on those things.

Dear God, help me seek the company of good people. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to avoid the company of the wicked?

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

It’s Not About What Happens

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Which experiences have shaped your identity?

This question is prompted by my opportunity to talk to some students this morning about Experiences That Shape Our Identities.

I think I understand the teacher’s point. She wants me to tell her kids about my story and how it impacts my self-image. It’ll be a great discussion, except for one minor detail: my identity isn’t shaped by experiences, but by my attitudes toward those experiences.

Life’s not about what happens to us, it’s about how we choose to respond.

So I’ll tell them about the injury and how I felt sorry for myself for a decade. I’ll tell them how a crummy attitude made me a disabled, helpless, hopeless guy.

But I’ll also tell them God showed me a better way, that I learned I didn’t have to travel this difficult road alone. I’ll tell them Jesus helped me change my attitude, and that new attitude shapes my identity much more than a wheelchair.

Kids need to know that experiences matter. They need to know even more that they have the power to overcome their circumstances.

I hope I don’t wreck the premise of the unit.

Which attitudes shape your identity?

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