Archive for November, 2012

Change: Maybe Today is the Day

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

In thirty-five years as an educator I worked with some incredibly creative individuals. We discovered that, like any large organization, systematic change was often easy to talk about but difficult to accomplish. I developed my own semi-sarcastic adage:

The only problem with change is that you have to do something different.

I suspect we’re all a little bit in favor of changing someone else. It’s pretty easy to see what they need to improve, and a little tougher to ask what the person in the mirror might do differently.

“Change” is on my mind right now because I need to alter some of the stuff I’m doing. I’ve known it for a while, but the sad fact is, “I don’t wanna!”

However, the simple fact is I’m not focusing my efforts in the most effective ways. I need to change, which means making some difficult choices and facing some short-term discomfort.

I’m telling you this for two reasons. First, I’ve learned that telling others is a good initial step toward a making and keeping a commitment. So you’re going to see some changes here soon. I’ll let you know detail as soon as I get them all worked out.

But I’m also wondering what changes you’ve been putting off. What do you need to do differently? What’s something you know you need to address but you’ve been saying, “I don’t wanna!”

Maybe today’s the day.

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

Acceptance

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Romans 15:7: “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”

Have you ever tried your hardest to have someone accept you? Unfortunately I admit I have.

Sometimes we struggle to find success in our work. We find our value in what we do instead of who we are.

We may rush to the mall to buy clothes in the latest fashion or the “in color.” We define ourselves by what we wear.

We women may measure our self-confidence by our cooking skills and hospitality.

Men may compare their tools and electronic devices to seek acceptance.

However, our confidence is a God-confidence. Christ accepted us, and we weren’t perfect.

With Christ’s death on the cross for our sins, God accepted us and made us part of his heavenly family. Christ accepted us as his brothers and sisters.

Rather than see one another as competitors or enemies, we are to accept one another. The Bible doesn’t tell us to accept only people who share the same social or economic status. The Bible doesn’t tell us to accept people if they are the same color or race we are.

God’s Word tells us to accept one another in order to bring praise to God. We can accept one another and take advantage of our privilege to bring praise to God.

Dear God, help me accept others as Christ accepted me. Amen.

Application: What group of people or specific person does God want you to accept this week in order to bring praise to him?

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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

Nothing Happens by Accident or Chance

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

“The very hairs of your head are all numbered!” Matthew 10:30

What a promise is this! All that befalls you, to the very numbering of your hairs–is known to God! Nothing can happen by accident or chance. Nothing can elude His inspection. The fall of the forest leaf–the fluttering of the insect–the waving of the angel’s wing–the annihilation of a world–all are equally noted by Him! Man speaks of great things and small things–but God knows no such distinction.

How especially comforting to think of this tender solicitude with reference to His own covenant people–that He metes out all  their joys–and all their sorrows! Every sweet–and every bitter–is ordained by Him. Even “wearisome nights” are “appointed.” Not a pang I feel, not a tear I shed–but is known to Him. What are called “dark dealings,” are the ordinations of undeviating faithfulness. Man may err–his ways are often crooked; “but as for God–His way is perfect!” He puts my tears into His bottle. Every moment His everlasting arms are underneath and around me. He keeps me “as the apple of His eye.” He “bears” me as a man bears his own son!

Do I look to the FUTURE? Is there much of uncertainty and mystery hanging over it? It may be, much foreboding of evil. Trust Him! All is marked out for me. Dangers will be averted; bewildering mazes will show themselves to be interlaced and interweaved with mercy. “He keeps the feet of His saints.” Not a hair of their head will be touched.

He leads sometimes darkly, sometimes sorrowfully; most frequently by cross and circuitous ways, which we ourselves would not have chosen; but always wisely, always tenderly. With all its mazy windings and turnings, its roughness and ruggedness–the believer’s is not only a right way–but the right way–the best which covenant love and wisdom could select.

“Nothing,” says Jeremy Taylor, “does so establish the mind amid the rollings and turbulence of present things–as both a look above them and a look beyond them; above them–to the steady and loving hand by which they are ruled; and beyond them–to the sweet and beautiful end to which, by that hand, they will be brought.” “The Great Counselor,” says Thomas Brooks, “puts clouds and darkness round about Him, bidding us follow at His beck through the cloud, promising an eternal and uninterrupted sunshine on the other side.” On that “other side” we shall see how every apparent rough blast has been hastening our boats nearer the desired haven.

Well may I commit the keeping of my soul to Jesus in well-doing–as unto a faithful Creator. He gave Himself for me. This transcendent pledge of love–is the guarantee for the bestowment of every other needed blessing. Oh, blessed thought! my sorrows are numbered–by the Man of Sorrows; my tears are counted–by Him who shed first His tears, and then His blood for me! He will impose no needless burden, and exact no unnecessary sacrifice. There was no unnecessary drop in the cup of His own sufferings; neither will there be in that of His people. “Though He slays me–yet will I trust in Him!” “Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

John MacDuff, “The Words of Jesus”)

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Chicken Little Was Wrong

Friday, November 9th, 2012

The sky isn’t falling.

Contrary to post-election paralysis-by-analysis, “the next four years” will not be the most crucial, difficult, trying period in US history. It will not be the longest four years we’ve experienced.

In fact, the next four years will most likely be just about four years long.

Certainly we face challenges, but when has that not been the case? I recall staring fearfully at a small black-and-white television while Mom reassured me that Russian soldiers wouldn’t be marching down the street during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I remember staring at the same TV, wondering if a country could survive the assassination of its president and racial unrest and then riots in the streets of its major cities.

My parents talked about bread lines and WPA during The Great Depression, and the sacrifices of WWII. My grandparents spoke of leaving homelands as small children for a strange place called America. Not many generations ago, in this very nation, we faced slavery and a horrible, divisive civil war.

How can 2012 be “the worst of times”?

We’ve just spent months listening to skilled media manipulators prey upon our fears. Nearly every political ad has been designed to make us believe “the other guy” would intentionally lead us down a path to doom and destruction. Now the election’s over. For about half of us, the other guy won and the end is obviously near.

Except, it’s not.

For those of us who follow Jesus, here’s the truth. The world’s as broken today as it was yesterday and will be every day until Jesus returns. No politician’s going to change that.

You and I, however, can choose freedom from fear. We can choose to stop complaining, blaming, and criticizing. We can work harder, love more, and take responsibility for our own attitudes. We can choose gratitude. We can hit the pillow each night with clear eyes and a full heart.

I won’t do those things—not perfectly or completely, and neither will you. But if we work at them, we won’t be victims of our circumstances.

I can’t fix the world. Neither can you or anyone else. But I can do what I can, right here, with what I have, to change a piece of it.

You can, too.

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

Jesus Reminds Me To Look Deeper

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Yesterday I told you about my personalized version of the bible.  I think God speaks to me through RUV—Rich’s Unstandard Version.

Sometimes He uses the RUV to help me see the big picture, put things in context, and see more than just one isolated verse. That happened the other night when our small group looked at this challenging passage.

When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.” Mark 10:10-12

As someone who’s experienced divorce, these verses hurt. I know, from personal experience, they’ve been used as weapons to pile guilt and shame onto already painful situations.

So I ask Jesus what I’m supposed to make of such a harsh, judgmental declaration. How do I move forward when He’s apparently drawing a hard line, I’m on the wrong side, and that’s the end?

And with the help of my small group, Jesus gently reminds me that our enemy uses isolated snippets of scripture to isolate and condemn. He points me to the words of His friend John: the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17

“Don’t forget, Rich,” He says (in RUV), “I’m always about grace and truth. You’ve even written about it. Anyone who separates truth from grace isn’t speaking for me.”

“I know,” I say quietly, “but honestly, I don’t see much room for grace in your statement about divorce.”

“Grace-and-truth is a principle,” He says, “and whenever a principle seems conflicted, that’s a sign for you to look deeper.”

Then He flips the pages to John 8:2-11.

At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

“Remember, Rich, I’m always about truth and grace.”

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

How Many Times?

Monday, November 5th, 2012

I have this personal version of the bible. It’s called RUV—Rich’s Unstandard Version.

Occasionally I encounter a conversation with Jesus in RUV when I’m trying to make sense of words from the real bible.

Jesus and His friends are hanging out around a fire. Peter leans over and says, “Don’t you ever get tired of encouraging these guys? I mean, they’re always messing up and asking dumb questions like ‘How many times shall I forgive someone who sins against me?’”

Instead of reminding Peter that was his question (Matthew 18:21-22) Jesus says, “Do you remember my answer?”

“Yeah. You said ‘not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’

“I thought that was a strange answer,” Peter continues, “because it’s impossible to keep track of that much forgiveness. It’s like you were telling us not to count.”

Jesus just smiles.

“But anyway,” Peter says, “back to my question. How do you stay so patient with these people and their dumb questions and stupid mistakes? How long am I supposed to keep encouraging them?”

“You should encourage them daily. As long as it is called ‘Today’ you should encourage each other.”

“But it’s always ’Today.’ That sounds like we’re always supposed to encourage each other.”

Jesus just smiles.

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Hebrews 3:13

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

Surviving Adversity

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

“You have known my soul in adversities!” Psalm 31:7

Prosperity makes friends–but adversity tries them.
Many will visit and smile upon us–when the sun shines.
Few will venture out to do us good–in the wintry or stormy day!


David had been in adversity; he had been forsaken and neglected by his friends–but not by his God! His God . . .
knew him,
and visited him,
and cared for him,
and sympathized with him,
and supplied him,
and at length delivered him.

This honor have all His saints! We have been in adversity, we have passed through a wilderness; but our God has . . .
led us,
and fed us,
and preserved us,
and brought us out into a wealthy place.

We can witness for Him in reference to the past; and we ought calmly, quietly, and confidently to trust Him for the future. He has pledged His Word that He will deliver us in six troubles, and that in seven no evil shall touch us; and He who has promised is faithful.

He is emphatically, the Friend of His people in distress!

In our greatest trials–He will manifest His richest grace!

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What is Your Piece of the Puzzle?

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

My lovely wife inspires today’s word-of-the-week…

PUZZLE

Becky likes doing jigsaw puzzles, and she talks a lot about life’s issues in “puzzle” terms.

This weekend our church focused on the issue of orphan care. With such an enormous, multi-faceted problem, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Afterward, as we talked about the huge numbers and incredible need, Becky made a great point.

“It’s a very big puzzle. But putting it together is just like doing a complicated jigsaw puzzle. We do it a piece at a time, and we can make progress on it if everyone takes care of the piece God gives them.”

It’s a great point about the way God works through us. You get your piece; I get mine. Instead of fussing about how hard the whole puzzle seems, we just make sure we put our piece where it belongs. If everyone does that, the picture begins to appear.

But if a few people leave out their pieces, the puzzle’s incomplete.

God counts on each of us to do what we can, where we are, with the piece we’re given.

What’s your piece of the puzzle? Are you doing your part to put it in place?

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

How Do They Know Us?

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Mostly, I’m not smart enough to see what God’s doing in my life. I know He’s telling a story, but often I muddle along in what seems like a disconnected jumble of experiences.

It’s only in retrospect that I see what He’s been doing.

Lately, my blog posts have felt like that to me (and likely to you). I’ve thought about influence, preachers & politics, God’s publishing, and get-to. Over at Rich’s Ride I’ve been talking about Mission: Demonstrate.

Honestly, I didn’t see much of a theme, and I felt a bit like the clanging cymbal from 1 Corinthians 13:1–minus the “tongues of angels.”

This week our small group read Mark 9:42-50. It’s about, among other things, the importance of leading and guiding by example. And my lovely wife said something simple and profound

“Isn’t our accountability about pointing people to God? Shouldn’t we always ask if an action or word points others toward Jesus or away from Him?”

She’s right, as usual, and I see now what God’s been telling me. My primary question ought to be, “How do I shine my light on Jesus?” That’s what influence is all about, and the answer’s at the end of the passage: “…be at peace with each other.”

Jesus doesn’t tell us to use religious principles to win the argument. In fact, He tells us not to argue. Being right and winning aren’t His ways. He says the way to be salt in the world is to live in peace.

Too often, Christians are identified by judgment and divisive dogma. Religion is frequently about declaring who’s right and who’s wrong. As Don Miller says, “Satan uses scripture, too.” He uses it to divide and condemn and win through coercion and intimidation. The enemy celebrates those tactics, because they shine the light on a collection of ideas instead of on the person of Jesus.

Fortunately, Jesus wasn’t religious. In fact, He reserved His confrontation for the religious leaders who valued “being right” so highly. His central message was that you and I, and those with whom we disagree, don’t need to be right to be loved by God.

It’s my job to love others so I can shine my light on that truth. I mess it up—a lot. I want to do better.

Wouldn’t it be cool if people looked at Jesus’ followers and their first thought was, “Wow! Those folks sure love a lot.”

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. 1 Corinthians 13:1

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