Archive for October, 2012

Nothing can get between us and God’s love…

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Okay, it’s a little weird, but for today’s word-of-the-week I’m thinking about

NOTHING

“Nothing” is an odd word. How can you write a blog post about nothing?

You can play interesting word games with “nothing.” For example:

A crust of bread is better than nothing, and nothing is better than a big, juicy steak.

Apparently, a crust of bread is better than a big, juicy steak.

Or consider this philosophical conundrum:

Doing “nothing wrong” might be the same as “doing nothing.”

Over the weekend I encountered one comforting use of this confusing word.

I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. Romans 8:38-39 (The Message)

Nothing can get between us and God’s love…

That’s not a word game. That’s an assurance on which to begin fresh.

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

Are You Behaving In a Manner Worthy of the Gospel?

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Philippians 1:27: “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”

The four-letter words came one after another from a woman in the mall. I turned to see what the commotion was. Sadness swept over me as I recognized a Christian woman from a local church.

I spoke to a new friend about the Good News of Jesus Christ. She asked me where I attended church, and I told her. She rolled her eyes and said, “ Jim goes to that church, and I know what he’s like. She shook her head and said, “I won’t go there. I’d rather stay home than go where Jim goes to church.”

Although I asked the woman to give us a chance, she was adamant about not going.

When I returned home, I sat alone with my Bible and prayed. I know no one is perfect except God. I felt sad about the incident at the mall. I wondered who else might have heard the woman curse at the mall.

I prayed for that woman and Jim. I know no one is perfect except God, and we’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

Yet the command in Philippians 1:27 is in the Bible. God doesn’t list exceptions for our behavior. He says, “Whatever happens.” I recalled times I didn’t conduct myself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ and asked God to forgive me. Can you identify with me?

What comes out of your mouth when you stub your toe? How do you conduct yourself when a reckless driver almost hits your car? What do you do when your children break one of your treasures at home?

Dear God, help me live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Amen.

Application: When will you sit down this week to talk to God about your conduct?

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

Should Preachers Talk Politics? (What is the Church’s Mission?)

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012


No.  Next question?

What’s that? You’re thinking perhaps I could expand my answer?

Okay, but first I have a question for you: What’s the church’s mission?

As we speak, people in churches all over the country want preachers to use the “power of the pulpit” to shape the way others vote. It’s all well-intentioned, prompted by a passion to conform public policy with Christian values.

Timberline Church exists to lead people into a transforming relationship with Jesus.

That’s our church’s formal mission statement. I’ll bet most churches profess something similar. It’s all about The Great Commission.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

Using terminology from Expanding The Circle, the church’s primary mission is to draw people into the circle, encourage and equip them, and release them as magnets.

The word “nations” is ethnos and refers to a group of people. It’s not about governments or political entities. In The Message Jesus says, “Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life…”

I believe Jesus wants us to change the world. I DON’T believe He ever told us to make those changes using the rhetoric and tactics of legal and political force or coercion. In fact, He was pretty clear about His recommendation:

One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘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.” Matthew 22:35-40

Disciples aren’t countries, governments, laws or policies. Disciples are individual people. We change the world by loving people. Jesus told you and me to love and serve others into submission. And then He modeled it.

Love, as a change tactic, is slow and impractical. Sometimes it’s downright unpleasant, because you have to value relationship more than winning or being right. You even have to love the folks with whom you vehemently disagree.

If you ask me, Jesus could have mandated a more effective strategy. Fortunately, He didn’t ask me.

Jesus didn’t instruct us to change countries or governments. He told us to love and serve people.

Our primary ambition must be to love people in the name of Jesus,
not so they will see we are right, but so they will see He is loving.
Don Miller

Preachers, in my opinion, shouldn’t talk politics. They should make disciples.

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

Expanding The Circle (We’re called to expand and invest our influence)

Monday, October 15th, 2012

We’re called to expand and invest our influence.

You and I are influential. Our families, coworkers, neighbors are impacted by our choices, words, and actions. Unless we live under a rock, we’re people of influence. The question is whether we’ll choose to be intentional about the direction and depth of our impact.

If we take that choice seriously, we need to consciously expand our circle of influence. Here are some thoughts based on a post from January 28, 2010.

Maybe you can think of a circle you’d like to grow—maybe a business, a church, or support for a cause—and work through this with me.

THE CIRCLE

Obviously, my first priority is remaining in the circle myself. That means I can’t violate my basic focus on valuing relationships simply to get people into circle.

Sometimes we get so excited about something that we’ll do almost anything to win converts. When that happens, we get violent activities in the name of peace or people who silence others with their demand for freedom to speak. I can’t leave the circle simply to get others inside.

The circle isn’t a place or a clique where we only hang out with those who are “like us.” Churches and organizations can be like that sometimes, but that’s not what I’m talking about. The circle represents folks who share a passion, an idea, a collection of common values or interests. You can’t share your passion by ignoring or de-valuing those who see things differently.

ENCOURAGE

Encouragement is for folks who are already inside the circle, so there’s some level of trust and understanding. You’re on some common ground, you speak the same basic language. You share some of the same interests and goals.

With people in the circle, you already have some permission to push a little, challenge ideas and actions. Have you ever watched a coach encourage players on a team? It’s often a mix of pat-on-the-back and kick-in-the-backside, but it works because they’ve already built a relationship.

It’s not okay to abuse or take people inside the circle for granted. This is the home crowd, the folks who have your back when things get tough. So you nurture these relationships carefully, always seeking deeper connections and more transparency.

After all, relationships are the whole point of the circle in the first place.

RECRUIT

Recruiting is for those close to the circle. They’re interested, they want to know more. Something in the circle attracts them, and they’re ready to at least consider joining. There’s something going on there that’s attractive.

They made the choice to approach. You didn’t go out and round them up, because that would require you to leave the circle. So you’re in your circle doing your thing, and you and other people are having fun, growing, and talking about how great it is. They see something they like and offer an opening, an opportunity for someone inside the circle to tell them what’s going on.

Recruiting is personal, but potential recruits probably aren’t talking directly to you even though it’s your blog or cause or product. They’re most likely talking other folks in the circle with whom they already have some sort of connection. So they’re talking, and listening, to your friends, readers, or customers.

This doesn’t mean that recruiting is an accident. Growing the circle is a highly intentional process centered around clear communication and authentic human connections. People in that kind of circle become energized and excited, and they naturally want to share their passion with others in their networks. This is word-of-mouth growth; it’s exponential, and viral, and a lot of fun.

EVANGELISM

Evangelizing is for folks a long distance from the circle. They haven’t expressed an interest, so the first problem is that somebody has to leave the circle to fetch them.

Evangelism is often associated with religion, but it can happen with any circle. Evangelists call you at dinner time and send spam email. They fill your mailbox with junk mail and yell at you on street corners.

This is the aggressive sales pitch you didn’t request. It’s about convincing and converting. Evangelists play on your fears, your greed, or your vulnerability. They exploit weakness.

Evangelists don’t want to take time to form relationships that attract you to the circle.

Evangelism works, as long as you don’t care who gets hurt. You might get a 2-3% response rate, and those who become irritated and alienated are just collateral damage, a cost of doing business.

Evangelism, in this context, is about coercion and manipulation.

The evangelist is that guy—you know, the one who never listens because his way, his product, his cause is all that matters.

I want to encourage, and I want to help with creating a circle that’s magnetic. But I never want to be that guy.

I am humbled by and grateful for your presence in this circle. It’s a lot of fun for me—because you’re here.

How about you? Can you see applications of encouraging, recruiting and evangelizing in your circles?

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

Investing Influence: We’re called to be influential

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

Making disciples, attracting people to faith in Jesus—that’s about as big as it gets.

We’re called to be influential.

I think that means two things. We need to develop and extend our own influence and to invest it wisely. I want to talk about Expanding The Circle next time.

How we spend our influence matters because God uses us to build His kingdom. You and I are God’s hands and feet, the tools with which He touches hearts.

No offence to preachers, but I didn’t learn about Jesus from sermons and church services. He became real for me through people who accepted and loved me when I wasn’t very acceptable or lovable. I felt His presence as I struggled with my injury because His people didn’t give up on me when I desperately wished to give up on myself.

I know Jesus because of people just like you.

Some folks invest a great deal of energy telling others how to use their influence. Athletes should be better role models. The preacher should talk more (or less) from the pulpit about particular political issues. Parents should teach their kids to be more ____ (you fill the blank).

I think we’d be more effective if we focused on our own impact. Instead of fussing about how other folks spend their influence, we could accomplish more by enhancing and investing our own.

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

Are You Running Aimlessly?

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

1 Corinthians 9:26: “Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.”

“Help. I’m running in circles.” Have you ever said that? I have when I’ve run errands all day and haven’t finished.

“I’ll never get done. I feel like I’m beating the air.” I’ve heard people say some version of that, and I confess I have too. One day I put piles of paperwork on the floor in my dining room and living room. In the middle of the process, a friend and her little girl came over. I said, “Please step around the papers.” The little girl gasped and said, “What happened?” I laughed and said, “It may not look like it, but I know what those papers are. I will finish them and put them away today.”

The Bible says we “do not run like a man running aimlessly” and “do not fight like a man beating the air.” So what’s going on when we feel that way? I’ve noticed when I feel that way I need to spend more time alone with God in prayer and Bible study. I also need more time in praise and worship of Almighty God.

When I do those two things, God shows me what my priorities should be. He lets me know what I need to do that day and what can wait. He warns me about taking on more than I should.

God also reminds me my citizenship is in heaven. So is my home. My reward awaits me in heaven. I sometimes forget that. Can you identify with me?

If we live as though we believe those truths, we’ll be able to face death as Paul did and say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). We won’t have run aimlessly or beat the air. Hallelujah.

Dear God, help me not to run aimlessly. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to avoid fighting like you’re beating the air?

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

Ripples Across the Surface of Your Soul

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

I’ve been thinking and writing about Influence for a few days. I have no desire for power, but I want to be intentional about enhancing my influence.

Last week I compared our influence to the Ripples created by a falling leaf on the surface of a pond.

I like this image because it portrays influence as a subtle, long-term notion. When I list the folks who’ve influenced me the most, I see long-term relationships based on respect and service. You?

Power demands attention. It plows noisily through the water, disturbing everything in its path with no regard for the harm or destruction in its wake. Power cares only about its own needs.

Influence operates more like the leaf, touching softly, creating ripples often seen only in retrospect.

Think of some people who’ve coerced and controlled you using their power—a boss, parent, family member. For me, these were folks I endured and tried to survive. Their lasting impact, if any, consists mostly of scars formed over painful memories.

Now think of those who’ve influenced you, whose impact still ripples across the surface of your soul—a teacher, parent, coworker, or friend. I recall these people with a smile of gratitude.

Those are the models I want to emulate.

This is a good week to purposefully let go of power and work on boosting our influence.

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

Ripples Of Influence

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Who’s touched by the ripples of your life?

Yesterday I said Jesus called us to change the world by walking with Him on a path of Influence.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” was an invitation to participate in the eternally-significant work of building God’s kingdom. Each of us is called to use our influence to help others learn about, believe, and follow Jesus.

The leaf symbolizes how influence works. It touches those close to us and its effects spread like the ripples across the water’s surface.

But here’s an important fact: you can only influence those close to you. The ripples touch those in, or close to, your circle of influence.

So who’s in your circle? Who’s touched, encouraged, changed by your words, actions, and decisions? Who can you help?

We’ve all got circles. We all encounter opportunities to change the world by doing what we can, where we are, with what we have.

What are you doing with your influence?

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

Influence Or Power?

Monday, October 8th, 2012

Jesus Christ is the most influential person who’s ever lived.

Do you agree?

Jesus was obviously the most powerful person who’s ever lived. He had all the power in the universe at His fingertips. He could have forced people to accept Him. A few well-placed lightning bolts would have whipped the non-believers into line in no time.

But that’s not how He chose to operate. Have you ever wondered why Jesus chose to work as He did? Ever wonder why He chose such a long, difficult path?

I do, and I don’t claim to be in possession of a definitive answer. But one thing’s clear.

Jesus chose the path of influence over the exercise of power.

And then He invited us to follow Him. He offered to walk with us on the path of influence.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

We’re called to make disciples without resorting to fear and intimidation that flows from power. So if we’re to satisfy the Great Commission, here’s the question:

Are we people of influence?

Some follow-ups: What constitutes influence? How are we building our influence? How are we spending our influence?

More next time.

Do you think about your personal influence?

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

Something Jesus Never Thinks

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.” Mark 9:50

Some not-so-random reflections:

This weekend I think I missed most of the point of a sermon. The teaching dealt with the last verses of Mark 9 and a bunch of stuff about sin and accountability. But, as so often happens, one simple admonition captured my attention. I don’t think I heard much else.

“Be at peace with one another.”

I’m not very good at that.

Yesterday morning Seth Godin, in his marketing/business blog, offered this nugget:

Instead of outthinking the competition…it’s worth trying to outlove them.

It got me thinking: What would it look like if my primary goal was to outlove my competition? What if I gave up trying to be right, or win, or be first? What if I put all that effort into outloving everyone I encounter?

Last week Don Miller said he used to pray for the right words before he began writing. Lately he said he prays for a loving heart, and finds that the words come easier.

I don’t like to speak for Jesus, but I’m pretty sure He never thinks, “In that situation you loved 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