Archive for December, 2012

It’s Not Fair!

Monday, December 10th, 2012

No, it’s not.

If it was fair, millions of people wouldn’t lack access to clean water while I leave the faucet running.

If it was fair, kids in one part of the world wouldn’t walk miles for the chance at a basic education while students cut class at the modern, high-tech high school up the street.

If it was fair, the spare change in our couch cushions wouldn’t provide a year’s food for a hungry kid.

If it was fair, most of the world’s population wouldn’t yearn for a home as opulent as my garage.

If it was fair, a crippled guy in Africa wouldn’t have to crawl around on the ground because he can’t afford a $200 wheelchair.

If it was fair, a man who never did one thing wrong wouldn’t have suffered and died so I could spend eternity with God.

Wait…what? Those things weren’t what you meant by “fair”? Me, either.

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

What Burden Would You Cast Off?

Friday, December 7th, 2012

Our small group has been working through Mark’s Gospel, verse by verse, for several months. I keep learning how much I miss in apparently familiar stories.

This week we looked at the story in which Jesus heals a blind beggar named Bartimaeus. I’ve read and heard this text many times and never noticed four words that might just be the heart of the whole interaction.

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”

So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.

The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. Mark 10:46-52

“Throwing his cloak aside…”

A man’s cloak was an important garment. It was heavy to protect against late night and early morning chills. It would have probably been comparatively expensive. As a blind man, and a beggar, Bartimaeus would have valued and likely kept his cloak close. Casting it aside in the midst of a crowd of strangers was a huge act of…what?

Bartimaeus wanted to get to Jesus. He wanted that more than anything. He wanted to get to Jesus so badly that he was willing to cast off anything that got in his way.

He was almost the opposite of the rich young ruler who asked Jesus what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. (Mark 10:46-52) Jesus told him, and he walked away because the sacrifice seemed too great.

Bartimaeus didn’t wait to be told. He took the risk, tossed away what he valued most, and came to Jesus. Symbolically, he cast aside his old identity for the opportunity to follow Jesus.

Bartimaeus didn’t ask about minimum entrance standards. Once he knew Jesus was there, he was all in.

I keep picturing myself sitting beside a road, and suddenly Jesus walks by.

I can’t help wondering what I’d be willing to toss aside–and what I wouldn’t–for the opportunity to go with Him.

How about 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

A Quarter Century…God has brought incredible good out of a senseless accident

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

…is a long time.

I can remember when a quarter-century was my whole life, then most of my life. Now it’s less than half my life, but it’s still a long time.

A quarter-century ago today, lots of things were different for me. I still had hair, for example. And I could walk. Tomorrow’s the twenty-five year anniversary of the day a whole bunch of things changed.

Twenty-five years ago tomorrow, on December 5, 1987, I didn’t suddenly lose my hair. That happened a little more gradually. But I got out of bed that morning and walked down a set of stairs for the final time. By the time I fell asleep that night, if you can call it sleep, I was permanently paralyzed below my chest.

I refuse to minimize or romanticize my injury. I don’t like sitting in a wheelchair any more now than I did a quarter-century ago. It’s frustrating and difficult and painful.

But God’s been faithful and relentless in the grace He’s demonstrated. I can testify to the truth of Romans 8:28. God has brought incredible good out of a senseless accident, and for that I’m grateful.

I’ve been asked often if, knowing the outcome, I’d trade the experience of the injury. My answer is an unqualified YES, because I believe God would also have brought good from an injury-free life. I’ve learned that life’s truly determined, not by circumstances, but by how we choose to respond to them.

So I’m grateful, not for injury or non-injury, but for Jesus’ love and presence in all situations.

I’m also grateful that doctors aren’t always right. A few weeks after the injury, as reality settled around me, I asked the neurosurgeon about life expectancy for someone with this type of injury.

“Well,” he said, “you’ll most likely make it past forty, (I was thirty-six at the time) but I wouldn’t count on getting to fifty.” Neurosurgeons are known for their sensitive bedside manner.

He’s retired now. Maybe I should give him a call and see if he’d like to ride his bike a thousand miles around Florida with me on Florida Hope Tour 2013.

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 you really believe what you believe?

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

A guy told me a few days ago that the most important thing we can do is tell people the truth of scripture, especially when it hurts.

I asked him to explain. He said people need to know what God says about their sin, and that it’s our job to tell them. It doesn’t matter if they want to hear it, if he knows anything about them, if he has any kind of relationship with them. It’s his job, our job, to tell people the truth about the Bible and what it says.

I hope that’s not true. If that’s my job, I’m failing miserably. I’m not really even making an attempt.

I thought my job was to love people. I’m failing at that as well, but I’m trying.

I believe love is the most powerful force, more powerful than knowledge or guilt or even fear. I believe love is like light—it always defeats darkness.

This guy told me he believed that, too. But he said you can’t just wait for love to change people’s behavior. You gotta confront them with the truth, because that’s the only way they’ll change.

He said he believed in love, but apparently he didn’t really believe what he believed.

How about you?

Do you know what you believe?

Do you really believe what you believe?

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

Pigs And Perfume: Whitewashing a Tomb

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

My dad had a lot of “sayings.”

He seemed to have an adage for nearly any circumstance. Most were funny, many weren’t suitable for this blog or any other polite company.

One of his favorites was “pouring perfume on a pig.”

After he retired, Dad once served as an expert witness for an attorney in a highly technical legal proceeding. To Dad’s eye, the facts were clear and reasonable minds ought to look at what happened and agree on an obvious resolution.

Lawsuits, of course, aren’t that simple. The lawyer tried hard to justify all the years of expensive legal wrangling to Dad, who not-so-politely told him it was all a big pile of “stuff.”

“It’s just your way of sucking more money from these poor people,” he said, “and all your fancy words don’t make it stink any less. You’re just pouring perfume on a pig.”

Dad believed in telling it like he saw it. He wasn’t a church guy, but he and Jesus would have agreed on the painful results of hypocrisy. In fact, Jesus used His own colorful metaphor for the religious teachers who covered their dead teaching with fancy words.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” Matthew 23:27-28

In first-century Israel, a tomb was a stinking, rotting place—about as nasty as it gets. You could paint it and make it look good, as long as nobody inspected too closely. Because no amount of surface paint could conceal the systemic stench.

Whitewashing a tomb was as effective as pouring perfume on a pig.

Jesus condemned false religious piety, but there are other forms of everyday hypocrisy in which we all engage.

We’re often not very real…about pain, about doubt, about what we don’t know. We cover it with whitewash or perfume or fancy words. We pretend, we fake it, we present what we’re sure the world expects to see.

We paint ourselves with false happiness at church. We douse ourselves with cheap cologne, hoping to mask the scent of broken relationships, physical struggles, financial challenges, and personal darnkess rotting just beneath the surface.

We pretend no one sees what we’re hiding as we scramble to pour more perfume and splash more paint.

But they do see, because pouring perfume on a pig doesn’t change the pig.

What do you think might happen if we just stopped hiding?

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