Archive for August, 2012

New Words: TAKECOURAGEIAMDON’TBEAFRAID

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

I’ve written a lot about my friend Dick Foth. That’s okay—Dick’s a good guy to write about.

Due to a scheduling coincidence, Becky and I heard Dick preach in Fort Collins and then three weeks later in Washington, DC. Can I let you in on a bit of a secret? Preachers who speak in different cities apparently use the same material more than once.

Lately Dick was talking about the time in Matthew 14 when the disciples see Jesus walking on the water. It’s late and they’ve been rowing all night and they’re tired and they think they’re seeing a ghost. They’re scared.

And Jesus says, “Take courage. It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

Dick pointed out that the middle sentence, “It is I,” is the Greek construction ego eimi. It’s the same phrase Jesus uses when He says, “I am,” as in “I am the way, I am the truth, I am the light …”

So we might hear Him making a stronger statement.

“Take courage. I am. Don’t be afraid.”

As the storyteller he is, Dick somehow morphed into talking about a Jewish friend who grew up hearing three commands from his mother: “Grow up. Get a job. Marry a nice Jewish girl.”

The man said he heard that advice so often he thought they were a single word: GrowupgetajobmarryaniceJewishgirl.

And as he always does, Dick brought us back to Jesus and suggested that we consider a new word:

TAKECOURAGEIAMDON’TBEAFRAID

Out team adopted it as an informal slogan at the end of our tour.

It’s a pretty good thought for a lot of situations. I invite you to say it out loud.

TAKECOURAGEIAMDON’TBEAFRAID

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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

The Way To Balance

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

The more I think about it, the more I like my metaphor (or is it an analogy?) that following Jesus is like walking a tight rope. Is it okay to admit that I like my own metaphor?

This weekend our pastor reminded us that early Christians were called followers of The Way and that Jesus described Himself as The Way.

As he talked about The Way, I thought about the day of Sharing Hope that happened in Fort Collins over the weekend. Volunteers took professional portraits and gave haircuts. If you don’t see the “hope” in those simple actions, consider the meaning behind parents and kids posing for perhaps the only formal family portrait they’ve ever had. Or calculate the value of a haircut to a homeless person seeking a job.

Those things happen along the way. That’s where you encounter people and find opportunities to establish relationships. The way is where you discover places to serve, to use your unique gifts and talents.

But that’s only one part of the process. Lots of people who don’t believe in Jesus perform acts of great kindness and service. We all know “church folks” who run themselves ragged doing everything for everyone else without taking time to feed themselves.

Following The Way is about something more. It’s about an intentional process of getting to know the One you’re following. Somehow we follow The Way and live with and talk to and learn from The Way. It’s a balance thing.

When you watch someone who really understands, it looks effortless, like watching an expert walk a tight rope. It’s not, of course. It takes lots of practice and more than a few falls.

Lean too far one way—Crash! Lean too far the other way—Crash!

Want to balance? Lean on The Way.

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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 Balancing Act: Practicing Humility

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

My friend Jon Swanson wrote about Learning Humility. Jon referenced the story from Luke in which the disciples argued about which of them would be greatest.

Yesterday a lady from my church called and strongly encouraged me to push for opportunities to tell the story of our recent  IJM Freedom Tour. I hear what she’s saying. It’s a great story, but when I do that I feel like I’m seeking the spotlight.

How do I practice humility without hiding my light?

It’s not a rhetorical question. If you’ve been around Bouncing Back for a while you know it’s an issue we’ve wrestled with before. Each time I think I’ve finally settled it in my own mind, it reappears in a slightly different form.

I’ve concluded that it’s a bit like walking a tight rope (not that I know much about walking or balancing). You’re always in the rebalancing process, leaning a bit too far one way or the other and then compensating to come back to center. You’re never perfectly balanced or static, and the moment you think you are, THAT’S when you’re in danger of falling.

I don’t want to be one of those disciples seeking to be the greatest. I’m perfectly content if nobody pays attention to me, except that I have ideas to share. I believe those ideas, those words, might help some people, but they do no good unless others hear them. So I need to do what I can to make sure that happens, which means I need to seek attention.

Nobody wants to listen to a timid speaker or read the words of a faint-hearted writer. God wants us to proclaim boldly.

Of course it gets tricky, because they’re MY words and MY books and people come to hear ME speak. And pretty soon I’m the center of attention and it’s all about me and I need to lean the other way and remember the humility part, because it’s not about me at all.

Lean one way, lean the other. Let your light shine brightly, but make sure it shines on God, not on you. Be bold, serve quietly and humbly.

Got it all figured out?

Me neither.

Thankfully, I get to follow the example of someone who did it perfectly.

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Copyright 2008-2012 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Step: Dealing with the Lows in Life

Monday, August 27th, 2012

I know, “step” is an odd focus for a guy in a wheelchair, but that’s not the kind of step I mean.

I’ve always been a highs-and-lows guy. As far back as I can remember life’s seemed like a series of peaks and valleys with little in-between. I’ve gained some perspective on that part of my personality, learned that at least a piece of it stems from ebbs and flows of clinical depression.

But whatever the cause, life’s always seemed to be a big leap forward or a long fall into the abyss. Mostly, I don’t think that’s reality. Life might seem like bounds and crashes, but following Jesus is really more like steps on a path.

I fashioned that simple wooden cross in the summer of 1981. As near as I can recall, I’ve carried it to about fourteen different places I’ve lived in the ensuing 31 years—and Becky and I and the cross have been in our current home since 2001. If you do a little math, that’s a lot of moving, a lot of searching, a lot of change and turmoil, a lot of highs and lows.

Through it all, the cross and Jesus have been there, constant, ready to take the next step on the path.

I don’t know the next step. Even when I do, I’m usually wrong. But life goes better when I take it a step or two at a time and trust the guide who knows the path.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog here
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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

Economic and Financial Abuse

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

Economic or financial abuse is one type of domestic violence. It shows up when the husband or partner refuses to allow his spouse to take part in financial decisions. He tells her or implies that women are inferior. He says they don’t have the intelligence or skills to handle finances.
He insists on keeping the checkbook and all financial records without letting her keep up to date with their financial status. Should he pass away first, she would have no idea how to pay bills, how to keep a checkbook, and how to handle the economic situation. She probably wouldn’t even know where he kept the checkbook and financial records.
He usually refuses to let her work outside of the home. If she does work, he belittles her job and her education and has her turn over her paycheck to him.
Without her knowledge, he will apply for credit cards and checking accounts, place her name on them, and make investments.
He may give her one check and fill in the information for her. If he gives her an allowance, he will most likely demand a full account with receipts of how she spent the money. However, he feels no obligation to give her an account of anything he does.

When it comes to his retirement fund, he will make full regular payments. If he talks to her about her retirement fund, he will suggest she put in a meager amount. He knows it won’t ever amount to much, and this will allow him to continue his power and control over her.

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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

The Trouble He Causes – When Someone Has Hurt You

Friday, August 24th, 2012

Psalm 7:16: “The trouble he causes recoils on himself; his violence comes down on his own head.”

Since I am a licensed professional counselor, people often tell me about someone who has treated them or a loved one in a shameful or violent manner.  They often can’t understand how someone can continue to behave that way and get away with it.

God’s Word says the person doesn’t get away with it. Sooner or later the day of reckoning comes.

King Saul in the Old Testament attempted several times to kill David who would succeed him as king. In the Battle of Mount Gilboa in I Samuel 31:1-3, the Philistines seriously wounded King Saul. He asked his armor-bearer to draw his sword and run it through him. “His armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it” (verse 4). The armor-bearer then fell on his sword and also died. Verse Six tells us, “So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day.”

In the book of Esther, Haman hated Mordecai because Mordecai “neither rose nor showed fear in his presence” (Esther 5:9). Haman built a gallows seventy-five feet high to hang Mordecai on it, but Haman was the one hung on that very gallows (Esther 7:10).

Years ago someone hurt me deeply. I asked God to help me release the person to him and not hold a grudge. Eventually the trouble the person caused recoiled on the person. The pattern of violence in that person’s life eventually came down on that person’s head far harder than I could have ever imagined.

Perhaps someone has hurt you or a loved one. You may struggle with feelings of anger and a desire for revenge. Although it is not easy to do, let the negative feelings go.  Remember the end of King Saul and Haman and remember this verse.

Dear God, help me believe the trouble a person causes recoils on himself. Amen.

Application: When will you meditate on this verse this week?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog here
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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

Blind Men And Walking Trees

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

I’ve written before about this surreal phenomenon that occurs to me when a particular topic seems to pop up in several unrelated contexts in a short period of time. I’ve come to believe it might be one way God tries to gently (and at times not so gently) focus my attention in a certain direction.

Recently I seem to encounter the notion of “trust” everywhere I turn. It happened again this weekend when our pastor talked about a story in Mark 8:22-26. It’s kind of an odd story in which Jesus restores sight to a blind man, but He takes two tries to get it right.

They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”

He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”

Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t even go into the village.”

There’s a lot to the story, but I zeroed in on two questions about trust:

Will you be honest?

If you’ve been blind, it’d be tempting to say, “Good enough! ‘People looking like trees’ is better than nothing. Thanks, Jesus.”

But God doesn’t want us to settle for “just okay.” He sent Jesus so we could have abundant lives, not simply “good enough” lives.

Maybe the blind man’s healing happened in stages to he’d have the opportunity to grow in trust and vulnerability.

Will I trust Him enough to be thankful for progress while being honest about my needs, my shortfalls, the places I still need to grow?

Will you accept a new path?

When Jesus sent the man home, he told him to use a new path. Apparently Bethsaida was a town of no faith, and Jesus knew the man needed a fresh start and a different route. He essentially told the man not to return to his old ways.

I know that temptation. Even when I know the old path hurts me and those I love, it’s still familiar and easy. In times of stress, old habits, regrets, anxieties, and long-ago-confessed mistakes seem like the easy places to turn. They’re not, of course, but knowing that requires a long-term perspective.

And a long-term perspective requires trust in something bigger than right now.

Will I trust Jesus to guide me away from old ways and onto a new, unfamiliar, uncomfortable path when I can’t see where it leads?

Do you struggle with trusting Jesus with these two issues…or any others? What makes trust so difficult?

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

Seeing In The Dark

Monday, August 20th, 2012

As I write this, a friend waits for one of those conversations with a doctor. Maybe you’ve had one of those discussions for yourself or a loved one, the kind where the test results will determine a whole lot of next steps in your immediate future.

It’s all about what you don’t know. It’s all about waiting. It’s all about trust.

This morning I heard a psychologist discussing the recent theater shootings in suburban Denver and their effects on kids as they return to school. He said that one potential impact of such random violence might be on kids’ willingness to trust.

He talked about teaching “smart trust,” which makes sense. We all need to learn to be careful about whom we trust. But he went on to say there’s never a place for “blind trust.” I disagree.

I suspect he was talking about “indiscriminate” trust, certainly a path to disaster. But I’d argue that “blind trust” is the only kind of trust that really matters.

It’s easy to trust when the wallet’s fat, the pantry’s full, and everybody’s healthy. It’s easy to trust when the sun’s shining and you can see several miles down the path. That kind of trust isn’t really trust at all.

My friend reaches into a future of complete unknowns. She extends her hand blindly, not knowing what she’ll find when she pulls it back. She knows only that God holds her, and the events of her future, safely in the hollow of His hand.

She doesn’t know what that means or where it will lead. She trusts. Blindly. In the dark.

That’s the only place you can trust.

** I borrowed the notion that “trust happens in the dark” from my friend Dick Foth. Dick would probably say he borrowed it from someone else, and that it doesn’t matter anyway as long as God is glorified in the process.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog here
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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

Some Thoughts on Praise

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

I don’t seem to do “praise” like a lot of other folks. I don’t feel the urge to raise my hands or dance—well, there’s the wheelchair thing, but I don’t think it would change much. I don’t often feel like shouting God’s name in praise. I enjoy singing praise songs, but that surge of emotion that a lot of people seem to feel just isn’t there for me.

During the service I wondered about the penetrating question I’ve asked before: Do I really believe what I believe?

In this context, I’m wondering if this lack of a sense of praise indicates some sort of shortfall in my belief?

What do you think?

I tend to think about my relationship with Jesus in terms of a familiar friendship. I imagine Him walking beside me, talking in familiar language, sharing long silences in which much is communicated. I picture approaching Jesus with the thumbclasp rather than raised hands.

A couple of years ago a great song (I Can Only Imagine by MercyMe) tried to picture what it’ll be like to be in Jesus’ presence: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xwzItqYmII)

In the chorus, the songwriter asks:

Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for You Jesus or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in Your presence or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine

I don’t picture singing or falling to my knees in awe as much as a hug, an arm around my shoulders, a big smile, a wheelchair kicked into the ditch, and a friendly “Welcome home.”

I want to praise and worship. I want to give God the glory.

I just don’t want it to be fake.

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

He Must Increase, and I Must Decrease

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”(John 3:30)

A couple of years ago, as I sought the Lord for future direction, I sensed these words in my heart: “Somebody has to set up the chairs.” As a result, I spent the following year serving others in public ministry, and it turned out to be one of the most blessed and productive years of my life, as He increased and I decreased.

This morning a dear friend wrote to me and said she was reminded of my year of “setting up chairs” when she read something someone else had written. Apparently the gentleman who wrote the piece was seeking to “do” great ministry for the Lord, and the Holy Spirit directed him to “hold the ladder” for a man who was painting.

God’s idea of “great ministry” and ours is often not the same, but His is always right. If “well done, good and faithful servant” is the message we want to hear at the end of our lives, it’s important that we are about the Father’s business, and not our own. If we are still setting and following our own agendas, we have a long way to go to reach that sought-after quality of humility that is the hallmark of faithful service.

I once had the honor of working with a man named Dr. Richard Halverson, who at the time was the Chaplain of the United States Senate. I suppose the one thing that most impressed me about this great man was his humility, which came to light several times, though never more clearly than on Christmas Eve day, a couple of decades ago.

Dr. Halverson and I were racing the clock to complete a book project, and I had opted to spend the day working on it before shutting down for Christmas Eve/Christmas day. As I worked, I found myself at an impasse, needing an immediate answer to a question that only Dr. Halverson or one of his associates could answer. I knew the likelihood of reaching anyone in his office on Christmas Eve day was slim, but I decided to call and leave a message, hoping Dr. Halverson’s secretary might check messages and get back to me with an answer.

Imagine my surprise when, instead of an answering machine, Dr. Halverson himself answered the phone. He explained that he had sent his staff home to enjoy the holiday but felt that he should come in to attend to some necessary details. When I told him why I was calling, he immediately went to work, digging through files until he found the answer. He called me back a couple of hours later and gave me the information I needed, and we were back on schedule.

Never once did this fine gentleman give me any indication that he was “too important” to attend to such a detail or to accommodate me on a holiday. His time and his very life belonged to God, and he willingly and cheerfully spent every moment living and acting accordingly, even if it meant setting up chairs, holding up ladders, or digging through file cabinets on Christmas Eve.

May we all walk in such humility, as He increases and we decrease.

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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