Archive for June, 2012

What I Can Learn At 3:17 am

Friday, June 29th, 2012

I have written about that frustrating experience of staring at the bedside clock at 3:17 am while your mind races in all sorts of random directions and you just cannot shut it down.

I’ve had some nights like that lately, and I think God’s shown me something. Personally, I’d rather learn my lessons at a more decent time of day, maybe 9:17 am with a cup of coffee.

But I think this lesson might be about trust and letting go of my need to maintain the illusion of control. As my friend Dick Foth says, “Trust happens in darkness.” There are many kinds of darkness, but perhaps this is a lesson best learned at 3:17 am since that’s when the questions arise and I’m most aware of the need.

It seems that most of my clock-staring thoughts fit into these buckets.

Most are simply Wasted Worry.

More than 90% of worry concerns events that won’t ever happen, already happened, or don’t matter. Less than 10% involves genuine concerns on which we might actually have some impact.

Many involve obsessing about issues I’ve already addressed.

I’ve prepared well, but God’s invited me on an adventure rather than a pre-scripted tour. Unexpected stuff will happen. There’ll be unanticipated blessings and challenges. It’s time to move forward and deal with what happens.

They’re nearly all self-centered.

As difficult as it is to accept, I’m not the center of the universe. In nearly every circumstance, it’s not about me!

ALL OF THEM remind me of my need to stay connected to God.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

I don’t talk and listen to God enough, especially in the darkness. I’m often too busy stumbling around trying to find my own exit strategy, and I forget to stop and lean on God.

I certainly don’t view prayer as the magic bullet that instantly fixes everything, but I believe C.S. Lewis was right: Prayer doesn’t change God, it changes me. And in the darkness at 3:17 am, I don’t need magic answers. I need peace and rest.

At 3:17 am, I need to be changed.

Do your own 3:17 am thoughts fall into these buckets? Are there others? Does talking to God really help? How?

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 Value Life? Do Your Kids?

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live (Deuteronomy 30:19, NKJV).

I recently saw a newscast about a teacher who was horrified when high school students posted pictures of themselves with dead animals, mocking the animals and using them in grotesque poses. That same week I saw a video of junior high students bullying a grandmother who had volunteered as a bus monitor, taunting her and making cruel statements that brought the poor woman to tears.

Heartbreaking? Sure. Shocking? Not so much. Not when you consider that today’s children have grown up in a society that for the most part does not value life or honor the One who gives it. Today’s youth has no memory of a culture that didn’t actively promote abortion or that wasn’t sliding more and more toward legalizing euthanasia. They watched as Terri Schiavo was starved and dehydrated to death by court order, and we wonder why they see no need to place a high value on God-given life.

But it isn’t just our children who have been blinded by what I think of as a “spirit of abortion,” meaning the bent toward doing away with any life that negatively impacts or interferes with someone else’s desires. If we aren’t careful we can all fall into it. When I served as my mother’s primary caregiver for the last twelve years of her life, there were times I was stretched to the ends of my physical and emotional endurance. Had it not been for the Lord’s strength to renew and carry me through, I could easily have succumbed to that same thought process that drives women with “inconvenient pregnancies” to sacrifice the most helpless among us for their own purposes and desires.

God’s Word to us is to “choose life” — in any and all situations. It may be the harder choice sometimes, but God has promised that when we make that choice, both we and our children will be blessed.

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”


“Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers of Today”

She also writes novels:

Deliver Me From Evil, (finalist for the Golden Scrolls Novel of the Year Award) and Special Delivery.

No Greater Love, More than Conquerors

The author can be reached at: http://www.kathimacias.com

What is Success?

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Success, from God’s perspective, isn’t about what you may be able to achieve or how much praise others give you for doing so. True success is becoming the person God wants you to become. God’s intention is for you and every other human being to become more like Jesus Christ during your lifetime on Earth. When you make that your ultimate goal and base all of your decisions on that, you’ll become successful no matter what circumstances you encounter along the way.

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

Copyright 2010-2012, Chaplain Michael Clark
All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.
Chaplain Clark is a Speaker and Writer,
Addiction Counselor/Professional
as well as a Recovery Support Specialist
Shadows of the Cross Ministries, Prison and Recovery Ministry

What Have You Done?

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

1 Samuel 13:11: “‘What have you done?’ asked Samuel.”

The Israelites sensed danger when they attacked the Philistines and hid in caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns” (verse 6).

Meanwhile “all the troops with [Saul] were quaking with fear.” I’ve been terrified myself at times, and you probably have too.

Samuel the prophet was to meet Saul in seven days. When Samuel delayed, Saul offered a burnt offering to the Lord even though he lacked the authority to do so. Don’t we sometimes react in fear or out of stress rather than wait on God?

When Samuel arrived, he asked what Saul had done. Saul said since he had “not sought the LORD’s favor, [he] felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.”

Before we judge Saul harshly, let’s look at ourselves. Don’t we sometimes justify our behavior? Even though we disobey God, we give our sin “a holy twist.”

“‘You acted foolishly,’ Samuel said. . . . . ‘Now your kingdom will not endure.’” We too will suffer consequences for disobedience. However, God hopes we will learn from them and not repeat the same behavior, which hurts us.

In chapter 15 of this same book, the prophet said God wanted Saul to “attack the Amalekites for what they did to Israel.” Saul was to “totally destroy everything that [belonged] to them.” He was not to spare anyone or their animals (verses 1-3).

Once again, Saul had his own version of obedience. He took King Agag of the Amalekites alive and “the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good.” Saul destroyed “everything that was despised and weak” (verses 7-9).

Samuel returned to the sound of bleating sheep and lowing cattle, but Saul dared to say he “carried out the LORD’s instructions” and kept the best sheep and cattle “to sacrifice to the LORD” (verse 15).

In verses 22-23, Samuel said, “To obey is better than sacrifice . . . Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.” How much are we willing to lose to live in denial and disobedience?

Dear God, help me to obey you totally. Amen.

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

He is Our Support

Monday, June 25th, 2012

“They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress–but the Lord was my support!” Psalm 18:18

…You and I can look back–and wonder how it is that we are where we are, and what we are: how we have held on, and held out until now. Here is the whole secret of the case–“But the Lord was my support!”

In the seasons of my greatest difficulty,
in all my times of sorrow and danger,
when I was filled with fears and doubts,
when in deep trouble and afflictions,
when all creature help failed me,
when my heart worried and vexed me,
when my enemies were just ready to overwhelm me,
when my feet were almost gone,
when my steps had well near slipped,
in my darkest nights,
in my dreariest days,
–then the Lord was my support!

My journey has been long,
my road has been peculiarly difficult,
my heart has been weak,
my enemies have been strong,
and long ago I must have perished in my afflictions–or been a prey to my foes–but the Lord was my support!

I would have fainted under my heavy burdens,
I would have yielded to my enchanting temptations,
I would have fled before my powerful foes
–but the Lord was my support!

Yes, the Lord has upheld, supported, and supplied me along the treacherous way. To His free grace, to His inviolable faithfulness, and to His unchangeable love–I must ascribe that “By the grace of God–I am what I am!” 1 Corinthians 15:10

~ James Smith, “My Support” 1859

We Really *Need* Very Little

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

The lions may grow weak and hungry–but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. ~ Psalm 34:10

Those who seek the Lord may be sick, or poor, or tried, in a variety of ways; but the Lord will send them supplies, OR give them the grace of contentment, so that they shall not lack any good thing.

But how many mistake wishes for needs! And while the Lord has promised to supply all His people’s needs–He has nowhere promised to gratify all their wishes.

We really need very little–therefore the apostle says, “If we have food and clothing–we will be content with that!” 1 Timothy 6:8. And again, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said: Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

“They shall not lack any good thing.” That is, they shall not lack whatever is really good for them at the time–and under the circumstances. Whatever will promote their holiness and happiness–shall certainly be conveyed to them.

Those who seek the Lord are sure of necessary supplies, for four reasons:

First, the Lord is ABLE to supply them. “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think!

Second, the Lord DESIRES to supply them. “Like as a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him. He knows our frame–He remembers that we are dust.”

Third, the Lord has PROMISED to supply them. “The Lord God is a sun and shield, the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” “My God shall supply all your needs, according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

Fourth, the Lord ALWAYS HAS supplied them. Look at Jacob, at David–and at all who have already arrived in glory. If the question, put by the Lord Jesus, to His disciples, when they returned from their missionary tour, on which He sent them without purse or bag, was put to them: “Have you lacked anything?” Every one of them would readily answer, “Nothing, Lord!”

~ James Smith, “The Way to Be Wealthy and Happy!” 1859

Great Trials can have Great Benefits

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Great trials produce big hearts. But to those who have never been knocked down, or who have not felt the heartache or pain of adversity or trials, the heart is oftentimes small and insensitive.

It is on the bed of affliction that most people find themselves horizontal — looking up.

Isaiah 40:28-31
Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

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

Copyright 2010-2012, Chaplain Michael Clark

All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.

Chaplain Clark is a Speaker and Writer,
Addiction Counselor/Professional

as well as a Recovery Support Specialist

Shadows of the Cross Ministries, Prison and Recovery Ministry

Are You Pursuing Your Own Plans and not God’s?

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps (Proverbs 16:9).

Have you ever heard the saying, “If you want to make God laugh, just tell him your plans”? I’m not sure if God laughs when we outline our plans to Him, but I do know He doesn’t change His plans to fit ours. And seriously, aren’t we glad of that?

When I look back on my life (and trust me, there’s a lot to look back on these days!) I find that my greatest regrets came about as a result of trying to pursue my own plans instead of God’s. Conversely, when I chose to walk in His ways — even if they didn’t make sense to me at the time — I always ended up in a place of blessing and peace.

So why do I still try to make my own plans and go my own way — and then, almost as an after-thought, ask God to bless the outcome? Okay, I know, I know. Even after nearly forty years of walking with Him, I’m still trapped in this imperfect physical existence and living on a broken planet. Hence, the call to serve self still echoes in my heart, despite the fact that I know better than to heed such a deceitful siren song.

You can relate, can’t you? You too are trapped in an imperfect physical existence and living on a broken planet. It won’t always be so, and that’s something to anticipate with joy. Until then, however, let’s continue to pray for one another and to commit our hearts to follow hard after Him, rejoicing that He is directing our steps, that His plans for us are good (see Jeremiah 29:11), and that He will never lead us down the wrong path.

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”

“Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers of Today”

She also writes novels:

Deliver Me From Evil, (finalist for the Golden Scrolls Novel of the Year Award) and Special Delivery.
No Greater Love, More than Conquerors

The author can be reached at: http://www.kathimacias.com

Something New

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Isaiah 43:19: “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”

I hate to admit it but sometimes I miss out on a wonderful gift or a new opportunity from God, or I delay the blessing. That doesn’t happen every time. However, when it does, it’s my fault, not anyone else’s. Do you do that too?

I wanted to be a teacher since the first day of kindergarten. I selected a college because it was known for the quality of teachers who came from there. After college graduation, I taught school for many years and enjoyed it.

When my son went to school, we followed the same schedule. It was perfect. I never dreamed I would leave teaching.

After the divorce, God was doing a new thing. I had prayed God would not let the divorce be in vain. My own ideas of how God would answer prevented me from seeing what God was doing to grant my request.

I didn’t perceive what was springing up because I didn’t expect God to change my career. In my reluctance to change careers, I delayed the blessing. I don’t think I’m the only one who experiences this kind of struggle.

Maybe your prayer is for a job, a wayward spouse, your prodigal children, healing from an illness, more time to help aging parents, or an opportunity in ministry. Even though you live by the ocean, you feel as if you are in the desert or a wasteland.

You prayed and prayed. Perhaps you also fasted. Nothing has changed for the better. Maybe your circumstances have become worse.

Yet God promised he is doing a new thing. He said he is “making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”

Each of us comes to a crossroad in our faith. One option is to continue to pray and trust God to make “a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland” in his way and his time. Another option is to wallow in the desert and have a pity party.

Dear God, help me see that you are doing a new thing. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to show God that you trust him to keep his promise?

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

Love, Fire, And Horses

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Perhaps you’ve heard about the wildfires raging across the western US. One of the worst, the High Park Fire, has devoured more than 52,000 acres (81 sq. miles) of pristine, tinder-dry forest lands within a dozen miles of my hometown of Fort Collins, Colorado.

Friends are displaced from homes that may not exist when they return. Volunteer firefighters battle to save structures while their own properties are destroyed. In our city, children and elderly folks are advised to remain indoors, the rest of us to curtail outdoor exercise due to poor air quality that’ll likely linger for weeks.

On my morning training rides, the normal inspiring view of snow-capped Rocky Mountain peaks is obscured by a haze of brown, black, and white smoke indicating the various types of fuels and structures being consumed. A constant stream of helicopters and planes drop water and chemical retardant. “The fire” dominates conversations. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the air of concern that hangs over the city like the cloud of smoke.

One artifact of this event is displaced animals. Many mountain properties are home to large animals, particularly horses. It’s one thing to move into a friend’s spare bedroom with dogs and cats. It’s not quite so easy to place a couple of spare horses in a suburban backyard.

Rescue organizations are doing what they can, but crowded shelters create a stressful situation for animals and owners alike. This morning a lady on television news demonstrated a spirit of common generosity.

She has extra pasture space, and understands the stress involved when horses are confined in temporary pens with inadequate exercise. So she’s simply opening her property to anyone who wants to bring their horses. She wants the horses and their owners to feel loved.

She was very clear that she doesn’t have enough hay to feed the extra animals, but she wasn’t worried. She said God would take care of it.

I’ll bet she doesn’t think she’s doing anything special. Just like the firefighters, or the folks bringing supplies to the Red Cross shelter—if you asked them they’d say someone else is the real hero.

The horse lady, the firefighters, the countless volunteers—they’re changing the world. They’re serving selflessly and unconditionally, doing what they can, where they are, with what they have.

I look at them and see Jesus in tee-shirts and blue jeans.

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