Archive for October, 2012

Does He Meet All Your Needs?

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

Philippians 4:19: “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

The heavy rains continue. The flooding gets worse, and the winds howl. How much damage will Hurricane Sandy do? When the Nor’easter follows “Frankenstorm,” the nickname for Hurricane Sandy, will we really get snow?

If or when the power goes out, I wonder how I’ll do without my CPAP, a medical device that runs on electricity. Will the power go back on before I need the CPAP?

My birthday is Tuesday, October 30. Will I celebrate alone in the dark without phone service and with the downpour and howling winds to serenade me?

And yet, I must turn to Philippians 4:19 and believe God will meet my needs, not my wants, but my needs.

Do you struggle as I do to distinguish between needs and wants? In the midst of a crisis, do you believe God or doubt him? I’ve done both.

During difficult circumstances, I find it helps to remember and write down all the times God has met our needs. He brought me through cancer and four car accidents in seven years. He walked with me through the loss of my mother and my only child. He also walked with me through the loss of three prison ministry partners in one week. He met all my needs and used those heartaches for good in my life and the lives of others.

What memories do you have of God at your side during hard times?

Dear God, help me trust you to meet all my needs. Amen.


Application:
When will you sit down this week and write about the times God has been faithful to you?

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

Why Didn’t God Self Publish?

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Do you ever wonder why God used such a convoluted process to produce the bible?

God’s not a very efficient publisher. It seems to me that He could have revealed Himself in a much less complicated manner.

Why did He use multiple authors over thousands of years, writing obscure, fragile manuscripts in ancient languages? Why did He reveal so much central theology in letters to specific churches? Why include the same stories told from different perspectives?

Some well-placed lightning bolts could have produced a few thousand engraved stone tablets, right? Heavenly Publishing Company would have had a great business model by providing occasional updates as language and culture evolved.

For that matter, why didn’t Jesus just write the bible while He was here? Surely He could have whipped out a nice double-spaced, spell-checked manuscript sometime during those thirty-three years. He could have self-published and saved everyone a lot of time and struggle.

I’m sure God had His reasons for compiling scripture as He did. Personally, I’d have chosen a more streamlined process. He didn’t ask my opinion.

But earlier this week I realized that God produced the bible the same way He does most things—He worked through ordinary people.

Why doesn’t He just snap His celestial fingers and solve problems like hunger and human trafficking? I don’t know, but it’s clear that He’s chosen to partner with us to address the issues He cares about in a broken world. He equips us, lives in us, inspires and walks with us.

Then He releases you and me and offers the opportunity to be His hands and feet. We get-to be Jesus in blue jeans to the world.

Sure, Jesus could have written the bible while He was here, but that’s not how He works. He became human to save the world, because only He could do that.

He offers to share the rest of the journey with you and me.

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 I really Have To?

Friday, October 26th, 2012

Most guys know our wives are a lot smarter than we are.

This morning I was working on an interesting project, a video to promote Florida Hope Tour 2013. I’m enjoying the challenge, but I’m not exactly a skilled video editor. I have to learn the software as I go, so it’s taking a lot of time. It doesn’t help that I get sidetracked by playing with all sorts of fun little features I’ll never use.

So while I was in the middle of figuring out how to create a really cool—and completely unnecessary—video effect, Becky asked a question. I, of course, acted like she’d interrupted the creation of an epic masterpiece.

“Why are you so impatient?”

“I have to get this finished.”

“No, you don’t. You don’t have to do anything.”

Like I said, my wife’s smarter than I am.

She’s absolutely right. I’m not Bob Cratchit, with Ebenezer Scrooge standing over my shoulder. I decided to make the video in the first place. I’m doing it because it’s interesting, because it’ll be helpful to others. I don’t have to do it. I want to do this project.

In fact, I get to do it.

It’s not a silly distinction. I’ll bet we all fall into the trap of have-to at least occasionally.

Have-to is all about drudgery and compulsion. The boss is making me do it—whatever “it” is, whoever “the boss” is. I do it all the time: I have-to do my devotions, I have-to take the dog running…

Get-to is completely different. Get-to is about gratitude and freedom.

Do you really have-to go to work, or make dinner, or attend your kid’s soccer game? Before you answer, consider how many folks would love to have your job or your family.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1).

I know Paul was writing about a different issue, but I think the principle’s similar. We’re all free to choose gratitude. We all get to pick between have-to and get-to.

What’s one of your have-to obligations? Does it seem different if you choose gratitude and turn it into a get-to?

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

Peace and Mutual Edification

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Romans 14:19: “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”

With the election right around the corner in the USA, peace and mutual edification sound impossible.

We are still one nation under God, and regardless of our party preference, we can still “make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”

As a child, I remember that in my family we couldn’t discuss politics. Mom and Dad didn’t belong to the same political party. To talk about politics wouldn’t lead to peace and to mutual edification. What about in your home?

Religion can also spark conflict. Instead of asking if someone is a Christian, we ask if the person is Methodist, Baptist, Episcopalian, etc. I wonder what God thinks when we don’t emphasize essentials but rather focus on minor differences.

In heaven, we won’t have Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. We won’t have Methodists, Baptists, Episcopalians, etc. We will be Christ’s disciples who love the Lord.

It’s time to practice for when we are together in heaven for eternity.

Let’s practice peace and mutual edification at home and in our jobs. Let’s practice them in our churches with the staff and each other.

As we live by this verse, we can improve our neighborhoods and our communities.

Dear God, help me practice peace and mutual edification. Amen.

Application: What efforts will you make this week to bring peace and mutual edification to your home and neighborhood?

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

 

Serious – What’s REALLY Important?

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

For today, a momentous, significant, important word-of-the-week…

I think we’re too serious, most of the time, about most things.

Becky’s reading a wonderful book called Love Does, by Bob Goff. I’m struck by how often she giggles out loud as she’s reading.

Bob writes deeply and passionately about following Jesus in the real world. Frequently, that means recounting his human failures and shortcomings. The humor’s authentic, and I have a sense that Jesus might giggle a bit as well at some of his escapades.

I’ve discovered that the people I trust the most usually have a good sense about what really matters. They stand firm on essentials, but they almost never take themselves too seriously.

There’s an art to being deadly serious about serious issues while retaining the ability to laugh at ourselves. There’s wisdom in knowing when to laugh and when to cry.

I often picture Jesus shaking His head and chuckling as I bumble through life, pretending I have it all figured out. When I’m most balanced, I laugh along.

Let’s be serious about the serious stuff. And let’s remember that most of our stuff just isn’t all that serious.

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

I’m Absolutely Certain…

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

…but I might be wrong.

Last week I wrote about preaching and politics. Several folks asked, in comments and emails, if I’m claiming Christians shouldn’t be involved in politics.

As more than one person correctly observed, following Jesus impacts every aspect of a disciple’s life. Of course we ought to be responsible citizens, and of course biblical principles ought to inform and guide our actions and choices.

The question isn’t whether we should engage in politics. The question is: How?

And “How?” brings me back to yesterday’s thoughts about Best Intentions and our pastor’s assertion: Bad things are often done by people who think they’re doing the right thing.

I don’t want to be one of those people.

I know smart, wise, highly-educated, passionate followers of Jesus who disagree about the proper biblical position on even the most difficult, highly-charged public policy issues. I’ve watched Christians—who absolutely believe in their position—become arrogant, condescending, judgmental, and sometimes downright abusive toward those who reach different conclusions.

I’m pretty sure that’s not what Jesus wants.

I believe it’s possible for two people engaged in a sincere, prayerful search for scriptural truth to advocate different responses to the difficult problems of a broken world. Each has the right to believe passionately in his position and the civic responsibility to support it.

But each has a greater responsibility to value principle above passion. A wrong choice, pursued with total passion and conviction for all the right reasons, is still wrong.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

It’s not my job to be right at any cost. It’s not even my job to be right.

It’s my primary responsibility to love others in the name of Jesus, not so they will see I am right, but so they will see He is loving. (thanks Don Miller)

Personally, I don’t feel comfortable speaking for Jesus on potentially divisive issues. I don’t want to be like the disciples in Mark 10:13-14, so certain they were helping Jesus that they actually offended Him.

I don’t want to offend Jesus by being so certain I’m right that I actually do what’s wrong.

in necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas

In Essentials, Unity –In Non-Essentials, Liberty –In All Things, Charity

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

His Hand is Stretched Out – Hang on to It

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

“For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you: Do not fear; I will help you. Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you,” declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 41:13-14

Wherever the Lord leads us–He will support us; nor shall the difficulties of the way, or the weakness we feel–be too much for us. His hand is stretched out to us, and it is for faith to lay hold of it and proceed, confident of divine assistance.

His omnipotent arm is the protection of His people in danger–and the strength of His people in weakness. He is “an ever-present help in times of trouble”. He is a God at hand. Are you weak, or in difficulty? Plead His Word; it is plain, positive, and sure. He cannot lie. He will not deceive. His strength is made perfect, and is glorified in your weakness. Fear not, underneath you are His everlasting arms!

He CAN help–for He is omnipotent. He WILL help–for He has given you His Word. “Trust in the Lord at all times; yes, trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength!” That strength is promised to you, and will be employed for you in answer to prayer.

Why then are you so fearful? Why cast down? He says, “I myself will help you!

~ James Smith

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Best Intentions Can Go Wrong

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

Our pastor said something curious this weekend.

Bad things are often done by people who think they’re doing the right thing.

At first it seemed like a simple statement, but I thought about it a little more while I was cranking my bike Monday afternoon.

How often do I do that? How often am I absolutely sure I’m doing what’s right, when I’m really doing something wrong?

People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Mark 10:13-14

The disciples were trying to help. They wanted to keep the demanding crowds away, especially since they were bringing children who weren’t held in especially high regard. They truly had Jesus’ best interests in their hearts. But He didn’t just tell them they were wrong. It says He became “indignant.”

Apparently, they really messed up. Despite their best intentions, despite being certain they were doing the right thing, they acted in direct opposition to Jesus’ wishes.

I get pretty focused on my own convictions and standards. I’m pretty sure about my inner sense of right and wrong. As long as my heart’s in the right place, I can be awfully sure about my ability to know the right direction.

I wonder how often I’m sure I’m doing the right thing while going in the wrong direction.

Apparently I need a different compass.

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

Salvation and Hope

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

Christians in Recovery

“Salvation is of the Lord!” Jonah 2:9

Salvation includes . . .
our election–which is past;
our effectual calling and sanctification–which are present;
and our glorification–which is future.

We were chosen to salvation by the Father;
we are redeemed by Jesus Christ;
we are sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

God is the author of salvation;
grace is the source from which salvation flows;
Jesus is the Savior;
faith is the grace that receives salvation;
while separation from the world and dedication to God–prove that we are saved.

To all this, our apostle adds another view, and says, “We are saved by HOPE” Romans 8:24

Not in the same sense as we are saved by faith–which delivers us from guilt, degradation, and eternal death–by receiving from Christ, and confiding in Christ.

To be saved by hope–is to be kept, preserved, upheld, or sustained, in the midst of foes, dangers, and trials.

Hope quickens us in duties–and preserves us from becoming cold and dead.
It comforts us in tribulations–and keeps us from being disheartened and gloomy.
It enables us to overcome temptation–and so to hold on our way, looking unto Jesus.
It gives us peace in death–in the sure prospect of victory over the grave.

Thus hope saves us:
by preventing despair–into which we can never fall while hope lives within us;
by preserving us from desperation–to the verge of which we are sometimes brought;
by guarding us against rebellion–the seeds of which are still thickly sown in our corrupt hearts; and
by protecting us against apostasy–into which we can never fall so long as we hope in God.

From many evils, at many times, in many ways–we are saved by hope!

Hope is in God–as its highest object and best end.
Hope is through Christ–who is the way to the Father, the truth, and the life.
Hope is on the ground of the Word, which warrants, excites, and regulates it.
Hope is for all that God has promised, whether temporal or spiritual, in this world or the next.
Hope should be encouraged–as it brings . . .
glory to God,
comfort to our souls,
credit to our religion, and
honor to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Holy Spirit, fill us with a lively hope, and teach us to expect . . .
all that God has promised,
all that Christ has procured, and
all that You have revealed in Your most holy Word.

(James Smith, “Salvation by Hope” 1862)

Position Vs. Condition: Who Am I?

Friday, October 19th, 2012

Who are you?

I’m a writer. I’m a speaker. I’m a husband. I’m an old guy who rides a handcycle. I’m a quadriplegic, a guy in a wheelchair. I’m a guy who’s planning a new adventure: Florida Hope Tour 2013.

Of course, none of those has anything to do with who I am.

As a middle school teacher I laughed and cried as I watched kids engaged in the struggle to find their identity. For early adolescents, “who I am” is determined by friends, clothes, and activities. The answer changes as frequently and unpredictably as the hairstyles.

As much as adults try to help and guide, figuring out who they are is a difficult developmental task they need to accomplish. Unfortunately, many folks never quite find the answer. To some degree, many adults identify themselves (ourselves) by bank balance, neighborhood, career, and other external criteria.

When we define ourselves in these terms, we’re at the mercy of people and circumstances. We confuse condition with position.

Cars, jobs, houses, health—those are all conditions. They change, sometimes because of our actions and often because of events completely beyond our control. To the extent we answer “who am I” in external ways, we develop and affirm a conditional identity. We buy in to a lie.

Here’s the truth: Your identity has nothing to do with your condition. Who you are, who I am, doesn’t depend on circumstances. Our true core identity doesn’t change.

You and I are defined by our position as beloved children of God. That’s affirmed by perhaps the most familiar verse in scripture:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

If you’re not sure about your true identity, read this slight alteration, but fill the blanks with your name.

For God so loved __________ that he gave his one and only Son, that __________ shall not perish but have eternal life.

As a follower of Jesus, you are the person for whom God sacrificed His Son. Absolutely nothing can change that, because absolutely nothing can separate us from God’s love.

That’s who you are. You have a permanent position in God’s family.

It’s good to work on improving our conditions, as long as we don’t think success or struggle can alter our position.

That won’t change. Ever.

What conditions impact your perceptions of your position?

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