Archive for May, 2012

I’m Okay, You’re Okay?

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

“Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (John 8:11, NKJV).

The story of how Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery is an all-time favorite for many of us. We love that the Savior was merciful and compassionate, even turning the spotlight from the woman to her self-righteous accusers. But to focus on the Lord’s lack of condemnation to the exclusion of His admonition to “sin no more” is to misrepresent the truth and power of His words.

A few decades ago I came across a popular book titled I’m Okay, You’re Okay, and it struck a chord of concern in me because the book was selling like crazy and readers were extolling the virtues of its anything-goes message. Some years later I had the privilege of working on Josh McDowell’s manuscript for his book The New Tolerance, in which he cautioned the Church not to get caught up in the world’s ever-increasing love affair with that “I’m okay, you’re okay” type of mantra. Josh rightly predicted that our society was well on its way to making tolerance the number-one virtue and intolerance the gravest sin. We now live in that culture, where the most oft-quoted (and misused) verse in the Bible is “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1, NKJV). Though it is true we are not to judge others based on our own opinions or personal values, neither are we to toss out the absolutes of God’s Word in fear of being considered intolerant.

The Scriptures are clear that murder, stealing, lying, adultery, and other behaviors contrary to the character of Christ are absolutely wrong. Period. Not because we say so but because God says so. To proclaim His Word is not judging; it is simply believing that what He says is True because, after all, He is Truth, and God cannot contradict His own nature and tell a lie.

The Scriptures also instruct us to “[speak] the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15, NKJV). Certainly we need to proclaim God’s truth from a heart of love, desiring to see people saved and healed and set free, for truth without love causes terrible damage to the hearers. However, love without truth becomes license and allows people to remain in their sin and continue in their separation from God.

And that is why Jesus so clearly said to the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” He assured her that she did not have to live under condemnation, but He also admonished her to change her ways. “Sin no more,” He warned her, for if she truly understood His message and received His forgiveness, her life would be marked by repentance, an “about-face” from her previous walk away from God to one heading straight for His heart, a life epitomized by a desire to please her Lord and reject a life of sin.

By all means may we refrain from imposing our opinions and personal values on others, but may we also love enough to speak the truth of God’s Word so others can turn from sin and enter into eternal life.

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

Jesus And Weed Control

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Yesterday (How can we do “weed control” in our own lives?) I talked about my take on weed control based on The Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:1-9).

Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. (Mark 4:7)

Jesus is pretty clear about the devastating impact of weeds. They stunt healthy plants and prevent them from living out their purpose. Even the best seed, planted in fertile soil, produces no fruit when weeds are unchecked.

Following Jesus requires a weed-control strategy.

Seems like lots of Christians focus on weeds. They’re all about what’s wrong—with the world and other people. They’re known mostly for what they oppose, what needs to be prevented or outlawed. The weeds are evil and must be eliminated immediately—at all costs.

If you focus primarily on killing weeds, you lose. Weeds are incredibly persistent and resilient. They grow in the most unlikely places and inhospitable conditions. There are always weeds, and they always return. And even if you banish them temporarily, all you’ve done is kill weeds. You still don’t have any grass.

We cannot eradicate weeds from our lives—or the lives of our kids. We can’t pass enough laws or build enough jails. There aren’t enough fences, parental controls, and firewalls.

Every “weed killer” spawns tougher, more sinister new weeds. The culture is pervasive and persistent. Insulating ourselves from the “weeds” is a losing battle.

Weed-killing creates a lot of impressive activity, but it’s a quick fix reaction to a much deeper problem. It’s like painting rotten wood. You’re only covering up the real problem.

I think we’re a weed-killer culture. We fill jails with drug offenders, but drug use increases and fuels powerful, dangerous criminal enterprises. We abolish slavery, prostitution, and child abuse, but 15,000 children are trafficked into the U.S. each year for these purposes.

Jesus’ weed-control guidance focuses on growing healthy turf. He talked mostly about how to live an abundant, healthy life. Like thick turf, people with deep roots and mature, rich lives leave little space for weeds.

When Jesus explained the parable to His disciples, He told them which weeds were most insidious and dangerous.

Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.” (Mark 4:19-20)

“The worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things”—those are the weeds in our own yards.

Grow full, abundant, thick turf and pull the weeds in your own yard.

I think that’s His weed-control guidance.

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

How can we do “weed control” in our own lives?

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

My friend Dennis grows grass for a living. He’s the superintendent at a local golf course.

Our small group was discussing The Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:1-9). It’s the story of a man who scatters seed in four kinds of soil. We spent a lot of time on verse 7:

Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain.

We asked ourselves this question: How can we do “weed control” in our own lives? Based on our discussion and Dennis’ insights, I concocted a parable.

Two men wanted to have healthy, inviting, kid-friendly lawns.

The first man resolved to eliminate weeds. He pulled weeds, poisoned them, dug them up. He became obsessed with weeds, and grew to hate them even in others’ yards. He saw weeds everywhere. He even built a tall fence to protect his yard from weeds that seemed to invade from all sides, but nothing worked. The weeds always returned, stronger and more plentiful than before. The man became angry and bitter toward a world that seemed to offer only weeds.

The other man focused on the grass. He watered, fertilized, aerated, and did everything possible to grow healthy grass with deep, well-established roots. After some time he discovered that fewer weeds germinated in thick, vigorous turf. He still pulled an occasional dandelion, but his lawn was relatively weed-free even though he paid little attention to weeds.

What results did each man’s approach produce? Do you see any parallels in your life?

Tomorrow I want to talk about some applications. For now:

What are your thoughts about being a turf grower more than a weed eliminator?

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

What’s the purpose of a lamp?

Friday, May 25th, 2012

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)

How often do you switch on a lamp so you can look at the light bulb?

A lamp’s primary purpose is allowing other things to be seen more clearly. It’s a tool. The lamp doesn’t exist to be the center of attention.

Jesus says we’re to be light in a dark world. That doesn’t mean we’re some sort of shining example to be admired. Like the lamp, we’re not designed to be the center of attention.

We’re meant to illuminate the world, to reflect light so others can see Jesus more clearly.

I’m mostly not very good at this. Often I hide my light with depression or false humility. Sometimes I try to be the brightest possible light and find myself shouting, “Look at me!”

Today’s a good day to resolve to be a spotlight shining on Jesus.

Have a great week.

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

No Other Name

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

“There is no other name under heaven given among men
by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, NKJV).

When we were young (or maybe not so young) and people called us derogatory names, it hurt our feelings. If we ran home crying about it, our parents may have tried to make us feel better by telling us that names don’t matter. But is that true?

In many cultures, names matter a lot. Parents don’t choose their children’s names based on current trends or popularity contests. The names they assign to their offspring mean something, whether the name of an older relative or a name denoting the parents’ dreams or wishes for their child’s future.

God didn’t pick a name out of a hat for His only Son. He called Him Yeshua (Jesus), meaning “God’s Salvation” or “Rescuer/Deliverer from God.” Later, in the Book of Acts, we see Peter and John confronted by the Jewish religious leaders and asked in whose authority they preached. Peter proclaimed the name of Jesus as not only his authority but as the ONLY name given by God and carrying the power of salvation for mankind.

No other name. None. Only one. Exclusive? Absolutely. Not Buddha or Mohammed or Moses or anyone else. Only Jesus. Do names matter? They certainly do. And the enemy of the souls of mankind knows this full well. It is the reason you never hear people use the names of other religious leaders as curse words—only Jesus. It is the devil’s attempt to mock and denigrate the only Name that can bring salvation. May we, as Christians, be found faithful to not only honor that Name when we speak, but also in our everyday lives and actions. For names truly do matter—especially the Name above all names, the Name of Yeshua/Jesus.

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

Are You Watching in Hope?

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Micah 7:7: “But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.”

I sometimes struggle to watch in hope for the Lord. Do you? Yet that is how God wants us to watch.

The father of the prodigal son watched in hope for him to return. When the son returned, Luke 15:20 says, “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son.”

That is an example for us on how to watch in hope and wait for God to answer us. We can wait in confidence because the verse ends with “My God will hear me.”

Perhaps we need a job or a car, salvation of a loved one, return of a prodigal, healing from trauma, or the end of destructive behavior such as overeating, unforgiveness, drinking or drugging.

Whatever the request is, we can watch in hope, wait for God our Savior, and know that he will hear us.

Dear God, help me watch in hope for the Lord. Amen.

Application: What will you ask God 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, 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.
If you would like to have her speak for your organization or church, please contact her through
her website: http://YvonneOrtega.com

What are You Known By?

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Be Known By…

…what you’re for (not by what you’re against).

Today’s guidance: Be known by what you’re for (not by what you’re against).

Nobody wants to be a victim. Sometimes we pretend we’re victims, or even choose victim status, to avoid accountability, but you’re probably not actively seeking ways to be a better victim.

You don’t ever get complete control. That’s God’s job, so get over the illusion that you can control events or people. You can’t.

But you can develop influence. It’s a lot more subtle and long-term, but you can impact people and circumstances. Or you can choose to be a victim. Victims surrender influence.

There are three ways to influence what happens around you.

Consume. Other folks want your attention and your money, and they’ll do just about anything to get it. When you buy and use products and services, you encourage others to produce more of them. When you give your attention, you encourage others to do more of whatever you’re paying attention to.

Criticize. Your disapproval encourages others to do less of something, or to do it differently.

Consumers and critics can exert a certain amount of influence, but there an important “if”—these activities change things if others listen to and care about your choices and opinions. If you’re in the target audience or the right demographic, your consumer decisions might influence what’s produced. If you yell loudly enough or stand on the right platform, your criticism might cause someone to re-think.

Or maybe not, because consume and criticize are passive and reactionary. Someone else makes a choice, and you react. And if the other person doesn’t care about your response, you  have no influence. Here’s an extreme example.

I choose not to buy cocaine—nobody cares. I criticize those who produce and sell cocaine—no impact. As a consumer or critic I have absolutely no influence on cocaine production and distribution. Fortunately, there’s a third option.

Create. Creators stand for something.

Don’t criticize someone else’s idea. Develop a better one.

Don’t gripe about negative media coverage—while you continue to watch. Go out and do something that highlights and celebrates the abundant generosity and service in your community.

Don’t lament the lack of effective ministry in a particular area. Start your own, or get involved and improve what’s already happening.

Don’t tear down opponents. Create something so powerful, compelling, and attractive that your opponents will want to join.

Creating, building, standing for something—it’s hard work. It’s not a quick fix. It requires preparation, determination, and perseverance. And it requires ignoring the consumers and critics who will inevitably try to knock you off course.

Consumers and critics influence through motivation. They stand in the back and use money or power or fear in an attempt to coerce or force change and tell someone else what to do.

Creators lead. Creators show the way. They’re the risk-takers, the ones in front.

Be a creator. Be a builder.

Be known by what you’re for (not by what you’re against).

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 You’re Not Sure What To Do…

Monday, May 21st, 2012

…help someone.

Inevitably, you’re going to reach places where you feel stuck and don’t know which way to turn or what to do next. You’ll wonder about God’s purpose and whether there’s any point to it all.

Maybe you’re looking for the right person and nothing seems to be happening. Perhaps you’re seeking a job and can’t seem to get past square #1. You’ve tried everything and just don’t know what to do next.

Help someone…with no notion of what’s in it for you. Find somebody who needs what you have to offer and help them. Volunteer.

God created us for service. It’s how we’re wired. When you use your gifts and passions to help someone, you’ve living in your sweet spot. You’re intentionally moving to the space for which God designed you.

Helping fosters humility. When nothing seems to be going right, it’s easy to lose perspective. Helping someone reminds you you’re not the center of the universe.

Helping demonstrates compassion. You’re following the Bible’s repeated command to care for others.

When you help someone, you’re automatically generating in yourself the attitudes that allow you to be your very best self. You’re doing the very things for which God wired you.

When you’re stuck, that’s a pretty good place to turn. Ironically, focusing on others is likely the very best way to find your own path as well.

When you’re not sure what to do, help someone.

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

You’ll Never….. Love too much.

Friday, May 18th, 2012

It’s awfully easy to go overboard, even with good things. Almost any idea or action, taken to extremes, will get you in trouble. Most of the time, moderation is the way to go.

I know of one clear, absolute exception:

You’ll never love too much.

A legal expert once tested Jesus (Matthew 22) by asking, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

In response, Jesus’ first word was, “Love…” Then He completed the thought.

“’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Love is the one thing about which we’re supposed to be extreme. Jesus tells us to put everything—heart, soul, and mind—into love.

I think Jesus frequently shakes His head as He watches me stumble along. I suspect He often asks, “What were you thinking?” as I get myself into yet another mess.

But I’m pretty certain He never says, “You loved too much in that situation.”

One caution: we overuse the word “love” until it almost loses any meaning. I love my wife, but I also love baseball and my dog. Let’s hope I express “love” for Becky and baseball differently. Otherwise I’ll be sleeping in the dog house.

Jesus referred to agape, the kind of sacrificial love that’s a decision rather than a feeling. Your heart, soul, and mind were made to be filled with agape.

You’ll make lots of mistakes. Even when you try to do it right, you’ll miss the mark. Give yourself lots of grace. Get used to messing up, because it’s part of life. But…

You’ll never love too much.

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

Do you feel like you are loosing your mind?

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever:
For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
And His kingdom is from generation to generation (Daniel 4:34, NKJV).

Have you ever caught yourself saying something like, “I think I’m losing my mind”? I have, and it’s usually because my brain is overloaded with multi-tasking. All I really need to do is slow down a bit and things come back into focus.

It wasn’t that easy for the once great King Nebuchadnezzar, who had gazed upon his empire and boasted that it was all of his own doing. God quickly gave the arrogant ruler a reality check, driving him out into the fields to eat grass with the animals. It wasn’t until he lifted his eyes to heaven that his understanding returned to him and he finally gave glory to God, recognizing Him as the sovereign ruler over all.

How easy it is to become like Nebuchadnezzar and gaze out over our own little kingdoms (home, family, occupation, possessions) and begin to think that we’ve achieved it all in our own strength! And how important it is to keep our eyes lifted toward heaven so we don’t do such an evil thing! Apart from God’s mercy and grace we could not take our next breath, let alone amass fame or fortune. May we never be so foolish as to think we are in charge of anything, for it is only in Him that we “live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

Personally, I find that very comforting, don’t you?

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