Archive for September, 2012

The Trouble He Causes – When Someone Hurts You

Wednesday, September 19th, 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
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

A Bigger Picture (on being Disabled)

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Ever forget you’re not the center of the universe?

My discussion with a spinal injury support group left me pondering the whole notion of An Able-Bodied World.

The audience was folks who are relatively new at figuring out how to navigate life with some level of paralysis—and their spouses.

Becky pointed out afterward that the people in wheelchairs aren’t the only ones caught between a culture created for a narrow range of abilities and the reality of life outside that range. Spouses, family, and friends also struggle with trying to know how to adapt. They weren’t physically injured, but their lives are profoundly altered.

I know that, of course, but I’ll admit that I usually think of my injury in terms of myself and the adjustments I have to make. I’m “the little blue guy” on the handicapped signs, the one who needs the special parking spaces.

I tend not to think as often of how those around me live an altered life as well.

Becky needs those parking spots as well, when she’s with me. She has to look for ramps and accessible entries, avoid buildings with steps, skip certain events. To some degree, she has to traverse a landscape that mostly wasn’t designed for us.

I obviously struggle at times to make my way in what’s often a world that caters to able-bodied people. I forget that Becky lives in a world that caters to people with able-bodied spouses. I fear I’m too often oblivious to the reality that everyone who cares about me is caught to some degree between the able-bodied world and the reality of relating to one who doesn’t quite fit.

I’ll put that down under the heading of myopic and self-centered. No matter how often I remind myself, I can’t seem to internalize the truth that IT’S NOT ABOUT ME!

But perhaps there’s a larger lesson beyond my personal tunnel vision. Maybe we can learn to see a bigger picture of adversity.

When someone encounters significant adversity, life changes. Like it or not, that person is caught between the life they knew and the life they must come to know.

And so are those who care about that person. Things have changed, adjustments must be made. I wonder how often we minimize those challenges.

I wonder:

  • Do I really listen, or simply assume I understand?
  • Do I marginalize or minimize their circumstances?
  • Do I work as hard to include those in the support system as I do the obvious “victim”?

Your thoughts?

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

In Search Of The Next Thrill

Monday, September 17th, 2012

Have you ever battled an addiction?

We all know about addictions to drugs, alcohol, pornography, gambling, food…maybe you’ve struggled with similar demons. This weekend our pastor mentioned an addiction I’d never considered.

Do you think we can become addicted to excitement?

It’s an interesting notion.

I’m no expert on addiction, and I’m not sure Jeff was suggesting an actual physical or psychological addiction. But our culture surely seems to encourage a quest for immediate thrills.

Tonight I get to experience one of those “high” moments. I’m honored to speak to clients and families at a spinal cord injury support group. Such opportunities are true “mountaintop experiences” in my life.

But it isn’t, and can’t be, all about those moments. Most of my time is spent at a keyboard, sending words like these out into cyberspace, never quite knowing their impact. I’m preparing for presentations, creating slides, tweaking the web sites.

Or I’m cranking my bike, strengthening old shoulders for another edition of RICH’S RIDE after the New Year. I’m plotting a route around Florida, contacting possible speaking sites, engaging with supporters.

Much of that work is interesting, some is challenging, and some is just part of the deal. That’s the way it works. I suspect lots of folks give up on their dreams because of an unrealistic fantasy that life ought to be an unending series of thrills.

What do you think? Can we get trapped and derailed by a search for the permanent “high”?

Following Jesus wasn’t always exhilarating for his disciples. Certainly they witnessed the most exciting of events, but much of their time was spent in ordinary daily activity. They walked, cooked, ate, and talked together. Surely there were times of weariness, confusion, conflict, loneliness, and fear.

Being with Jesus may have been challenging and interesting, but I’ll bet it wasn’t one thrill after another. If His closest friends didn’t live out a three-year “retreat experience,” why should we expect something different?

I can see a danger in church becoming a place that creates the unrealistic expectation of an unending succession of mountaintop encounters with God. Once people believe that’s “normal” they’ll conclude God’s given up on them when the excitement fades a bit.

Hanging out with Jesus need never be boring or mundane. Seeking deeper connection with Him can always be interesting and challenging, but it won’t be endlessly exhilarating. Jesus doesn’t just want to be around for the retreat moments. He wants to be there, to be part of, our everyday ordinary daily lives.

Surely we ought to savor the high points in the journey. I’m excited about the opportunity to share my story tonight.

But life and work and following Jesus shouldn’t devolve into a desperate search for the next fix of excitement.

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 Foggy Mirror

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

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

1 Corinthians 13:13 is one of those great feel-good Bible verses. What’s better than faith, hope, and love, right? Toss that chapter around and a wedding’s likely to spring up right before your eyes.

But… am I the only one who’s ever wondered about that second sentence?

I remember thinking as a new believer that perhaps this was a bit over-stated. New believers are allowed to think things like that, I guess. But it seemed to me like faith and hope were pretty essential.

We’re saved by faith, right? So without faith, we’re lost. And I absolutely knew, first-hand, that hopelessness means a slow, agonizing slide into oblivion. I don’t think it’s hyperbole to claim that those who lose all hope are doomed.

So I had a little trouble understanding why “love” was so clearly greater than either faith or hope.

There’s 1 John 4:8(b), which says “…God is love.” Okay, I guess equating God and love makes the case pretty clearly, but I still had trouble with what seemed like a dismissal of two fairly essential ideals.

A few years back, I ran into an idea. I don’t know if I thought of it—probably not. Most likely I read it somewhere and let it rattle around in my head long enough that it started sounding like my own thoughts.

Anyway, it popped up again when I wrote yesterday about Then, Later, Or Now?

Faith looks back and provides a solid foundation of assurance based on God’s faithfulness. Hope allows us to rest on that foundation and look forward in confidence. And love involves relationships, helping and encouraging one another—in the present.

It’s an interesting interaction. Faith makes sense of a chaotic past and lets us confidently anticipate an otherwise uncertain future. Together, faith and hope permit us to live in the present as God intended—in loving relationship with God, others, and self.

And as I re-read those words, I realized that God doesn’t deal with past or future. For Him, everything is Now. And one day, when we stand in His presence, it’ll be like that for us.

And as past and future drop away, so will the need for faith and hope. The entire continuum will be compressed into Now, and there’ll be only Love.

On this side of eternity, I think it means that faith, acted out in the present, might look a lot like love. It means hope, when it impacts the present, looks a lot like love. And I have no idea how that works.

Perhaps that’s what Paul meant when he wrote:

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:12

Someday, I’ll get it.

For now, I believe and I hope.

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

Then, Later, Or Now?

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

I often sense that I stumble through life almost completely oblivious to the incredible story taking place around me. When I occasionally manage to trip over something miraculous, I feel a bit like a blind squirrel finding a nut.

I don’t believe those are accidents (No Coincidences) but I can’t help wondering how frequently God shakes His head in disbelief as I miss yet another opportunity He’s carefully set up for me.

Last time I told you about the scripture passage Becky read to me. It was exactly what I needed to hear. In a rare moment of clarity I reread the entire passage and saw what might be a bigger connection to something I’ve been pondering. Here’s the passage (emphasis mine):

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:19-25

Notice the highlighted words: faith, hope, love? The pattern reminded me of 1 Corinthians 13:13: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

But the Hebrews passage specifically seems to reference a continuum that extends the ideas in Faith, Hope, And Courage.

Faith looks back and provides a solid foundation of assurance based on God’s faithfulness. Hope allows us to rest on that foundation and look forward in confidence. And love involves relationships, helping and encouraging one another—in the present.

It’s an interesting interaction. Faith makes sense of a chaotic past and lets us confidently anticipate an otherwise uncertain future. Together, faith and hope permit us to live in the present as God intended—in loving relationship with God, others, and self.

Here’s what I think that says to me. If we’re trying to follow Jesus, we can’t do that in the past or the future. So faith and hope are necessary, but they’re not at the core.

We follow Jesus in the present, which means it’s about love.

More tomorrow. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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

Accused Day and Night

Monday, September 10th, 2012

Revelation 12:10: “For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.”

We’ve all made mistakes in the past. We’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God as Romans 3:23 tells us.

However, when we confess our sins, God forgives us. He doesn’t remind us of our past over and over. He doesn’t shame us and expect us to walk around with our heads down.

Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” God forgets our sins. He loves us and gives us a chance to start over.

Satan, on the other hand, accuses us before God “day and night.” When we battle thoughts that tell us how awful we are and what terrible things we’ve done, that is the enemy of our soul accusing us.

When we feel ashamed with thoughts of how we should have handled a situation a different way, the devil is accusing us.

He doesn’t want us to accept God’s forgiveness, nor does he want us to live in the peace of Jesus Christ. He wants us to think God couldn’t possibly love us.

The day will come when the devil will be “thrown into the lake of burning sulfur.” He will be “tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Revelation 20:10).

Meanwhile, “the accuser of our brothers” wants to torment us day and night with shame.  Once we confess our sins and accept God’s forgiveness, we can move forward in our lives. We know the devil hates us, but we also know God loves us.

Dear God, help me listen to you instead of the devil. Amen.

Application: When will you accept God’s love and forgiveness 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.
If you would like to have her speak for your organization or church, please contact her through
her website: http://YvonneOrtega.com

No Coincidences: The Source of Hope

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

Nobody’s here by accident.

My friend Al used to say that often. It confused me, because I thought Al was saying we should understand why we were there. I figured everyone else knew their purpose, and I had no clue.

Besides, we’re all free, right? The fact that a particular group happened to show up in the same church on one particular Sunday time was a coincidence, right? Right?

I don’t believe much in coincidence any more.

You decided to read these words, and you’re reading them for some reason. I don’t know it and you may not, either. It’s part of the mystery of a world in which the Holy Spirit operates in ways beyond my understanding.

I’ve said this before: mystery doesn’t mean I know nothing; it does mean I don’t know everything. I’m okay with that.

One morning last week Becky said, “I’d like to read this verse to you.” She’s been encouraging me to talk more deeply about the source of my hope, and she thought this passage might help.

She didn’t know I’d just completed a post titled Faith, Hope, And Courage. She didn’t know I was thinking about faith rooted in the past pointing to hope based in the promise of the future.

… let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:22-23

Faith that looks back at promises kept. Hope based on confidence in the faithfulness of the one who promised.

Apparently it’s a message I need to hear right now.

Maybe you as well?

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

Faith, Hope, And Courage

Friday, September 7th, 2012

For me, following Jesus is mostly a process of learning what I already know. I think I’m a perpetual beginner when it comes to integrating what I know into what I do.

Yesterday I asked a question: Ever Feel Discouraged? As so often happens, one of those daily, ordinary, almost unnoticed events reminded me of a basic principle.

This is the week for my annual physical. As part of that process, I need to figure out how much I weigh. For most folks, that’s as simple as stepping on any scale. Most “simple” stuff isn’t simple in a wheelchair.

I have to go to one of a few places in town that have special wheelchair scales. I wheel on, they record the weight of me and chair, then I slide off and they weigh the empty chair. Subtraction reveals my body weight.

So yesterday I went to the hospital’s rehab unit. While I waited for someone to help, I looked across the hall into the room where I once spent 147 days recovering from my accident. The room was empty, so I rolled to the door and looked inside. As I glanced around a room that frankly evokes few pleasant memories, I think God reminded me about the important connection between faith and hope.

Faith primarily looks back, at my own story and God’s story throughout history. Faith reminds me that God’s always kept His promises. I remembered the day—nearly twenty-five years ago—I sat in that same hallway, unable to push my first wheelchair ten feet. Now I rolled effortlessly up and down the corridor, a few hours after cranking a handcycle eleven miles in an hour on a morning training ride.

Faith tells me when I’ve trusted God, He’s been faithful. And since faith allows me to look back with trust, it allows me to look forward with hope—a confident expectation that God will keep His promises.

TAKECOURAGEIAMDON’TBEAFRAID

Jesus’ new word doesn’t tell us we shouldn’t feel fear. He says we can face fear and move forward, not through the force of our own will, but because of who He is.

He didn’t say, “Take courage. Be tough. Man up!”

“Take courage.” It’s the opposite of dis-courage.

TAKECOURAGEIAMDON’TBEAFRAID

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

To Whose Glory?

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

John 15:8: “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

Do you sometimes feel like you’re in a rat race? I do.

Years ago, drivers had bumper stickers on their cars that said such things as, “The one who dies with the most fabric wins” and “The one who dies with the most toys wins.”

Recently I’ve seen bumper stickers that say, “My child is an honor student at _______ School” and “My kid can beat up your honor student.”

Some people brag about how many friends they have on Facebook and how many follow them on Twitter.

And yet, if we look at what Jesus said, his message provides a contrast to the way of the world. When we bear fruit, we show ourselves to be his disciples, and that is to our heavenly Father’s glory.

Maybe we won’t feel stressed or pushed if we concentrate on being disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. He “did not come to be served, but to serve” (Matthew 20:28).

Perhaps if we shift our focus from our own glory to God’s glory, we can slow down, relax, and “remain in [Jesus].” Jesus promised us in John 15:5, “If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit.”

Whether we use the word, “remain” or “live,” or “abide,” the result will be the same: we will walk as Jesus did. He came to do his Father’s will (Matthew 26:39).  If we will live to do the will of our heavenly Father, we will “bear much fruit.” And our fruit will be to the Father’s glory.

Dear God, help me be a disciple of Jesus. Amen.

Application: How will you bear fruit this week to God’s glory?

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

Boldly and without Hindrance

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

Acts 28:31: “Boldly and without hindrance he [Paul] preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Where was Paul when he preached boldly and without hindrance? He was under house arrest “with a soldier to guard him” (verse 16) and “bound with this chain” (verse 20).

Verse 30 says he was there “for two whole years.” Paul was innocent. As he said in verse 17, “I have done nothing against our people or against the customs of our ancestors.” He said the Romans wanted to release him, “because [he] was not guilty of any crime deserving death.” However, the Jews objected. So he appealed to Caesar (verses 18-19).

Paul didn’t complain that if only he were free, he could serve God. He didn’t feel sorry for himself and say that as a Christian he deserved health, wealth, and freedom.

I wish I had his energy and dedication. Verse 23 says, “From morning till evening he explained and declared to them (the people) the kingdom of God and tried to convince them about Jesus from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.”

We too can choose to maintain a positive attitude, serve God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and leave the results to him.

Because we live in an imperfect world, we are usually in crisis, about to go into crisis, or coming out of crisis. What will we do? Will we continue to serve God boldly and without hindrance as Paul did? Will we still share the good news of Jesus Christ?

Dear God, help me serve you boldly and without hindrance. Amen.

Application: With whom will you share the good news of Jesus Christ 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.
If you would like to have her speak for your organization or church, please contact her through
her website: http://YvonneOrtega.com