Archive for December, 2012

Sensual Pleasure’s Promises

Saturday, December 29th, 2012

“I thought in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless. “Laughter,” I said, “is foolish. And what does pleasure accomplish?” Ecclesiastes 2:1-2.

Solomon’s question bids a challenge to all the masters of mirth, to produce any one satisfactory fruit which it affords, if they could.

The hearts of young men usually are much given up to pleasure. Sensual pleasures are only seeming and apparent pleasures–but the pains which attend them are true and real. He who delights in sensual pleasures, shall find his greatest pleasures become his bitterest pains. Pleasures pass away as soon as they have wearied out the body, and leave it as a bunch of grapes whose juice has been pressed out.

Xerxes, being weary of all pleasures, promised rewards to the inventors of new pleasures, which being invented, he nevertheless remained unsatisfied.

As a bee flies from flower to flower and is not satisfied, and as a sick man moves from one bed to another for ease, and finds none; so men given up to sensual pleasures go from one pleasure to another, but can find no contentment, no satisfaction in their pleasures. “Everything is so weary and tiresome! No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content!” Ecclesiastes 1:8.

There is a curse of unsatisfiableness, which lies upon the creature. Honors cannot satisfy the ambitious man, nor riches the covetous man, nor pleasures the voluptuous man. Man cannot take off the weariness of one pleasure, by engaging inanother pleasure.

Pleasures seem solid in their pursuit; but are mere clouds in the enjoyment.
Pleasure is a beautiful harlot sitting in her chariot

The four wheels are pride, gluttony, lust and foolishness.
The two horses are prosperity and abundance.
The two drivers are idleness and security.
Her attendants and followers are guilt, grief, shame,  and often death and damnation!

Many great men, and many strong men, and many rich men, and many hopeful men, and many young men–have come to their damnation by her; but never any enjoyed full satisfaction and contentment in her.
Ah! Avoid this harlot–‘pleasure’, and come not near the door of her house!

Augustine, before his conversion, could not live without those pleasures which he much delighted in. But after his nature was changed, and his heart graciously turned to the Lord, he said, “Oh! how sweet it is–to be without those sweet delights!”

And as for lawful pleasures, let me only say this–it is your wisdom only to touch them, to taste them, and to use them as you use medicines–to occasionally fortify yourselves against maladies.

There are no pleasures so delighting, so satisfying, so ravishing, so engaging, and so abiding–as those which spring from union and communion with God–as those which flow from a from a humble and holy walking with God.

(Thomas Brooks, “Apples of Gold” 1660)

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Do You have Holes Punched in You?

Friday, December 28th, 2012

In this fallen world, everyone has holes that are punched into the fabric of their lives by painful past experiences, creating voids in their souls. If you haven’t yet invited God to heal your holes, they can limit your life and prevent you from reaching your God-given potential. God doesn’t want you to have holes;  He wants you to be whole:  full of the power to fulfill all of His great purposes for you. ~ Chaplain Michael Clark

Ezekiel 34:16
I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick.

Some Thoughts on Christmas

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

“The Church does not superstitiously observe days, merely as days, but as memorials of important facts. Christmas might be kept as well upon one day of the year as another; but there should be a stated day for commemorating the birth of our Saviour, because there is danger that what may be done on any day, will be neglected.”  ~ Samuel Johnson

“The star of Bethlehem was a star of hope that led the wise men to the fulfillment of their expectations, the success of their expedition. Nothing in this world is more fundamental for success in life than hope, and this star pointed to our only source for true hope: Jesus Christ.”
~D. James Kennedy

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Fate, accident, chance–or SOVEREIGNTY?

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

“I form the light–and create darkness; I make peace–and create evil! I the LORD do all these things!” Isaiah 45:7

What a sad world this would be–were it governed by Fate! Were its blended lights and shadows, its joys and sorrows–the result of capricious accident–or blind and wayward chance! How blessed to think that each separate occurrence which befalls me–is the fulfillment of God’s own immutable purpose!

Is it the material world? It is He . . .
who “forms the light–and creates darkness;
who appoints the sun and moon for their seasons;
who gives to the sea its decree;
who watches the sparrow in its fall;
who tends the lily in the field; and
who paints the tiniest flower that blossoms in the meadow.

Is it the moral world? All events are predetermined and prearranged by Him! I make peace–and create evil!” Both prosperity and adversity are His appointment. The Lord who of old prepared Jonah’s shade-plant, also prepared the worm! He gives–and He takes away. He molds every tear! He “puts them into His bottle.” He knows them all, counts them all, treasures them all. Not one of them falls unbidden–unnoted.

“The lot is cast into the lap–but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.” Over every occurrence in nature and in providence, He writes, “I the Lord do all these things!” True, His thoughts are often mysterious, and His ways are past finding out. We are led at times, amid the bewildering mazes of His providential dealings, to exclaim, “O Lord, how great are Your works, and Your thoughts are very deep!” Be it ours to defer our verdict–until their full development.

We cannot envision the thoughts and intents of the architect or engineer in the first clearing of the ground for the foundation of some gigantic structure. The uninitiated eye can discover nothing but piles of unshapely rubbish–a chaos of confusion. But gradually, as week by week passes–we see his thoughts molding themselves into visible and substantial shapes of order and beauty. And when the edifice at last stands before us complete, we discern that all which was mystery and confusion at first–was a necessary part and portion of the undertaking.

So is it, at present, regarding the mysterious dealings of God. Often, in vain, do we try to comprehend the purposes of the Almighty Architect, amid the dust and debris of the earthly foundations. Let us wait patiently, until we gaze on the finished structure of eternity.

Oh, blessed assurance–that the loom of our life is in the hands of the Great Designer–that it is He who is interweaving the threads of our existence: the light–and the dark, the acknowledged good–and the apparent evil. The chain of what is erroneously called “destiny,” is in His keeping. He knows its every connecting link–He has forged each one on His own anvil!

Man’s purposes have failed, and are ever liable to fail–his brightest anticipations may be thwarted; his best-laid schemes may be frustrated.

Life is often a retrospect of crushed hopes–the bright rainbow-hues of morning, passing in its afternoon into damp mist and drizzling rain. “Many are the thoughts in a man’s heart,” (knowing no fulfillment nor fruition) “but the counsel of the Lord–that shall stand.” “From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can oppose what I do. No one can reverse My actions!”

“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns!” Revelation 19:6


John MacDuff, “The Thoughts of God”

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Is A Chapter Opening Or Closing?

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

Today’s one of those days that helps me see there’s something bigger going on.

Sometime this afternoon some books will arrive. I’ll get to see, for the first time, actual physical copies of the new book. For me, that’s a big deal, but it’s not an isolated event.

Thirteen years ago it took me nearly thirty minutes to complete my first two-block handcycle ride. Three years ago I went public with my dream of a cross-country ride. A year ago we did the 1500-mile Mississippi River trip. Last January I started writing the story of that ride.

Today, a book appears.

You don’t make up that sort of story, and I don’t think you plan it, either. It’s the result of a long series of apparently independent, isolated, unrelated choices. Somehow they not independent, isolated, or unrelated.

We could have a long debate about the theology, about exactly how and how much God guides a process like this. I’m not sure there much point in such a debate.

Here’s what I’m sure about: when I follow Jesus, amazing things happen. When I decide to stop believing in impossible, when faith trumps fear, when I choose hope, my life tells a better story. I don’t know how it works, but it does.

I’m excited to get the book, to see what happens as people read it. I trust God will use it for good, as He always does.

I hope you’ll help me share this story by ordering a book and telling others about it. If you’re in the Fort Collins area, I hope you’ll stop by and say howdy at our book launch event (details are here) this weekend.

You’re an important part of how this all came together. None of it could have happened without the love and support of the people in the circle around this blog (that’s you!). I sincerely believe God used you to help get those books to my door today.

Thank you.

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

Strength which the Hour of Trial Brings

Monday, December 17th, 2012

“As your days–so shall your strength be.” Deuteronomy 33:25

God does not give grace–until the hour of trial comes. But when it does come–the amount of grace, and the nature of the special grace required–is granted. My soul! do not dwell with painful apprehension on the future. Do not anticipate coming sorrows, or perplexing yourself with the grace needed for future emergencies. Tomorrow will bring its promised grace–along with tomorrow’s trials.

God, wishing to keep His people humble, and dependent on Himself–does not give a stock of grace. He metes it out for every day’s exigencies, that they may be constantly traveling between . . .
their own emptiness–and Christ’s fullness;
their own weakness–and Christ’s strength.

But when the exigency comes, you may safely trust an Almighty arm to bear you through!

Is there now some “thorn in the flesh” sent to lacerate you? You may have been entreating the Lord for its removal. Your prayer has, doubtless, been heard and answered; but not in the way, perhaps, either expected or desired by you. The “thorn” may still be left to goad, the trial may still be left to buffet; but “more grace” has been given to endure them! Oh! how often have His people thus been led to glory in their infirmities, and triumph in their afflictions–seeing that the power of Christ rests more abundantly upon them! The strength which the hour of trial brings–often makes the Christian wonder to himself!

(John MacDuff, “The Faithful Promiser”)

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Just Say Yes? Saying NO to good so we can say YES to great

Friday, December 14th, 2012

A couple of weeks ago I received a speaking invitation.

The guy inviting me was excited about sharing my message with his team. He went on…and on…about how inspired they’d be, how much it would help them with some issues they faced.

We discussed his proposal. Small group. No publicity. No chance to sell books or promote Convoy Of Hope. Sounds pretty selfish, doesn’t it?

But I’m really busy right now. New book launch, upcoming ride…seems like a thousand really important things to do and never enough time to get them all done.

I wanted to decline. That’s the popular advice these days, right? We’re admonished to “learn to say NO.”

I’m glad I didn’t say NO. Frankly, I’m ashamed I even considered it.

Certainly there are times to decline. We need to say NO when we’re tempted to meet others’ expectations, to impress someone, or to act from a sense of guilt or obligation. Jesus never did those things; that’s the model.

I try to beware whenever should enters the discussion. I look for a red flag whenever I can’t honestly translate I should into I want to.

But we need to be careful. “Learn to say NO” can become an excuse to act selfishly. My right to say NO can, frankly, be an excuse for laziness.

I want to say YES to opportunities to help, share, and be generous. More than that, I want to be grateful for, and even seek out, such opportunities.

Nobody can do it all, so saying YES to some things means saying NO to others. Jon Swanson (A question to ask God about busyness) suggests making two piles—this-is-from-God stuff and this-is-from-me (or others) stuff. I suspect making the piles is easier than accepting and acting on the resulting priorities.

It’s not that the “from-me” stuff is all bad. It’s not like I have a burning desire to rob banks or anything.

But we have to be willing to say NO to good so we can say YES to great.

I’m not sure the trick is learning to just say NO. I think it might be to seek more chances to say YES…to the right things.

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

The Secret of Your Safety in the Midst of Temptation

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

“Satan has desired to have you–that he may sift you as wheat.
But I have prayed for you–that your faith may not fail.”
Luke 22:31, 32

What a scene does this unfold!
Satan tempting–Jesus praying!
Satan sifting–Jesus pleading!
“The strong man assailing”–“the stronger than the strong” beating him back!

Believer! here is the past history and present secret of your safety in the midst of temptation! An interceding Savior was at your side, saying to every threatening wave, “Thus far shall you go–and no farther!” God often permits His people to be on the very verge of the precipice, to remind them of their own weakness; but never farther than the brink! The restraining hand and grace of Omnipotence is ready to rescue them, “Although he stumbles–yet he shall not be utterly cast down.” And why? “For the Lord upholds him with His right hand!”

The wolf may be prowling for his prey; but what can he do, when the almighty Shepherd is always there, tending with the watchful eye that “neither slumbers nor sleeps!”

Who cannot subscribe to the testimony, “When my foot slipped, Your mercy, O Lord, held me up!” Who can look back on his past pilgrimage, and fail to see it crowded with Ebenezers, with this inscription: “You have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from falling!” My soul, where would you have been this day–had you not been “kept” by the power of God?

“Hold me up–and I shall be safe!” Psalm 119:117

John MacDuff, “The Faithful Promiser”)

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Birth

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

From Twitter, that fountain of eternal wisdom, comes the inspiration for today’s word-of-the-week…

BIRTH


“Christmas means nothing without Easter. Jesus’ birth is meaningless without His death.”

I get the point, but I’d take issue with this tweet from a well-known Christian pastor. Frankly, I can’t think of a context in which Jesus’ birth is “meaningless.”

I get that the cross was a pivotal event, that Jesus’ death and resurrection were central events in history.

But I’m going to allow myself a few weeks to simply celebrate the occasion (John 1:14a) when “…the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” I think it’s okay to focus on the joy and peace of Silent Night.

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
it is the night of the dear Savior’s birth.

The angels showed up that night and sang (Luke 2:13-14). That’s good enough for 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

In the Line to See Jesus

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

Psalm 9:10: “Those who know your name will trust in you; for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.”

How many of you would say that you trust in the Lord? I would.

This month I’ve noticed tickets for sale for breakfast with Santa. Not once have I seen a notice about tickets for sale for breakfast with Jesus.

Wherever a Santa sits at the mall, the line wraps around that area to see Santa. However, I’ve never seen a line to see Jesus.

We dress up to have our picture taken with Santa. Let’s dress up to have our picture taken with Jesus.

The Lord’s promise still stands. He will never forsake those who seek him.

Let’s have an Advent wreath in our home and count the days until the birthday of the Lord Jesus.

Let’s help our children or grandchildren make a Christmas present for Jesus. It could be a colorful Christmas card with a promise to pray and read the Bible each day.

We can also make a Christmas present for Jesus and tell our children or grandchildren about it.

Why not invite friends and their children to our home to make a gingerbread Nativity set or use Nativity set cookie cutters to make Christmas cookies?

Let’s show our family and friends that we trust in the Lord and seek him this Christmas season.

God, help me trust in you. Amen.

Application: What specific things will you do this week to seek the Lord?

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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