Archive for April, 2013

Still Carrying the Burden of the Past?

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Why would anyone choose to begin a week by thinking about the past?

Good question, but I’ll bet a lot of us do it. Many folks approach the opportunity of a new beginning while carrying the burden of the past. Weighed down by guilt and regret, they can’t see the promise and opportunity in front of them because they’re looking over their shoulder at a past they cannot change.

There are some things you can do about the past.

  • You can learn from past successes and failures.
  • You can apologize and ask forgiveness for mistakes.
  • You can sometimes make amends for unfortunate choices.

Note that these positive acts do not actually occur in the past. They each require you to look forward, to determine what’s within your control right now.

I believe our spiritual enemy celebrates when we dwell in the past. As long as we’re there we’re prisoners confined by choices and events we can never change. In the prison of the past we cannot accept God’s grace and look forward in hope.

Let’s make this a week of new beginnings and a time to focus on the light of the present rather than the darkness of the past.

Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !

Dixon
Copyright 2010 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 can we have beyond the Infinite?

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

He hath said, “l will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”  – Hebrews 13:5

Several times in the Scriptures the Lord has said this. He has often repeated it, to make our assurance doubly sure. Let us never harbour a doubt of it. In itself the promise is specially emphatic. In the Greek it has five negatives, each one definitely shutting out the possibility of the Lord’s ever leaving one of his people so that he can justly feel forsaken of his God. This priceless Scripture does not promise us exemption from trouble, but it does secure us against desertion. We may be called to traverse strange ways, but we shall always have our Lord’s company, assistance, and provision.

We need not covet money, for we shall always have our God, and God is better than gold, his favour is better than fortune. We should surely be content with such things as we have, for he who has God has more than all the world besides. What can we have beyond the Infinite? What more can we desire than Almighty Goodness. Come, my heart; if God says he will never leave you, nor forsake you, be much in prayer for grace, that you may never leave your Lord, nor even for a moment forsake his ways.

~ Charles Spurgeon, Chequebook of the Bank of Faith {adapted}

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Do you mean people actually experience quiet?

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Psalm 21:2b-3a: “He leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.”

Quiet waters? Do you mean people actually experience quiet?

The Bible says “[God] leads us beside quiet waters.” Most of us wouldn’t go on our own. We need God to lead us there gently.

Some women have told me they must go to the mall every week. Others have said they need to go out for breakfast or lunch with friends at least Monday through Friday. Yet God leads us beside quiet waters.

What happens beside those quiet waters? “[God] restores our soul.” When we rush in a frenzy of activity, we don’t give God a chance to restore our soul.

The acronym “BUSY” stands for Being Under Satan’s Yoke.” I prefer the quiet waters to being under Satan’s yoke.

In that place of quiet, God loves us, strengthens us, increases our trust in him, and talks to us about his plans for us. As we sit in his presence, we allow him to fill us with his peace and joy. We also give God time to renew our hope for a better tomorrow.

While we are beside quiet waters, we can talk to God. We can tell him about our hurts and disappointments, and he will comfort us in our pain.

We can also tell him the desires of our heart. God is our heavenly Father. He’s crazy about his kids and is eager to hear about those desires.

When I think of all that God offers us, the things of this world cannot compare.

Dear God, please lead me beside quiet waters. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to allow God to restore your soul?

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

Copyright 2010-2013, 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

The Right Kind Of Light

Monday, April 8th, 2013

I love the “social” part of social media. So often when I share an idea, someone out there offers something that gets me thinking deeper or in a slightly different direction.

Last time I concluded with this thought:

If you shine a light into a dark place, everyone, including you, sees a bit more clearly.

Cyndy, one of my Facebook friends, tossed out a really thought-provoking comment.

I think that is only true if you use a soft, warm light. If the light you use is too bright, too harsh, then most people are too busy closing or shielding their eyes to see at all.

What a great word picture for people who use truth as a weapon. I thought of an interrogation room with its hot, blinding glare, the cruel, unforgiving light used by the Pharisees to accuse, condemn, and control.

We need to speak truth, but we need to do it in love, in the context of relationship. Banging people over the head with truth before I’ve taken time to walk with them, know their story, and establish trust is assault, not evangelism.

Cyndy’s comment reminded me of John 1:14: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Grace without truth lacks light and simply prolongs darkness. Truth without grace is the harsh, glaring, accusatory light that causes people to shield their eyes.

We need to seek the wisdom to speak truth with the “soft, warm light” of grace.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article ! Dixon
Copyright 2008-2013 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

Want More Light?

Friday, April 5th, 2013

We debriefed the Florida tour with friends a few evenings back and someone asked an interesting question.

“How do you keep from getting dragged down by all the pain and need you encounter, especially in the groups you spoke to on this trip?”

Good question, and as usual I didn’t have an immediate response. I found myself wondering whether I’m really hearing the folks in the audience. Am I just doing drive-by speaking, tossing out some nice words and moving on without truly engaging with individuals and their difficult stories?

Upon further review, as football officials say when they’ve had time to reflect on a replay, I think there’s something deeper happening. Rather than being depleted by the groups we meet, Becky and I usually find ourselves energized as we leave.

Here’s how I believe that dynamic works.

When I talk about adversity I describe courage as the willingness to move forward, face challenges, and do what’s right in the face of fear. Then I discuss the word encourage as giving someone else that ability. In other words, when you encourage someone you literally give them courage. Encourage means giving away courage.

But a funny thing happens when you give away courage. You find yourself walking beside the other person, helping them face their fear and climb their mountain. And when you help someone through that process, somehow you get better at it yourself.

Courage is like love—you can’t really give it away. The more you love sacrificially, the more your heart’s filled with love. And the more you authentically encourage another, the more you’re able to act courageously.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy, but “hard” isn’t the same as “empty.”

So if I speak to a group with love, I leave feeling loved. If I encourage them to face their fears and follow their dreams, I leave feeling encouraged. It’s the way God’s economy works.

If you shine a light into a dark place, everyone, including you, sees a bit more clearly.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Dixon
Copyright 2008-2013 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

When you see a dog following two men…

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

“You cannot serve both God–and mammon.” Matthew 6:24

Of the enemies of the cross of Christ, the apostle declares that they “mind earthly things.” They are only concerned about increasing their stores, and thus be able to say with the rich man of whom the Savior speaks, that they have ample goods laid up for many years; on the strength of which they intend to take their ease, and eat, drink, and be merry. All their thoughts are of the earth, earthy. The things of time and sense–they regard as first and last, middle and end.

It is impossible for the mind to be governed at the same time by two opposite principles. The love of the world–and the love of God–are diametrically opposed to each other.

    “If any man loves the world–the love of the Father is not in him.”
    “Don’t you know that the friendship of the world–is enmity with God? Whoever, therefore, will be a friend of the world–is the enemy of God.”
    “You cannot serve both God–and mammon.”

To borrow a quaint illustration from one of our old writers, “When you see a dog following two men — so long as they walk together, you do not know to which of them the dog belongs. But let them come to a parting road and there separate from each other — then it will soon be seen who is the owner, for the dog will follow his master wherever he goes.”

Just so, an individual may pursue the world, and profes to be a Christian at the same time — and it is often difficult to ascertain whether God or the world possesses his affections. But by and bye he comes to a parting road, when God calls him one way, and the world another way — and then he will show to whom he really belongs. If God is his master — then he will follow and obey God. But if the world is his master — then he will follow after it!

How are you affected by the respective claims of the things of time — and those of eternity? After a few more rising and setting suns, it will be a matter of total indifference to you — whether you have been rich or poor, successful in your business or unsuccessful. But it will be of unspeakable consequence — whether you have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before you in the gospel.

Listen, then, to the words of the Lord Jesus,

    “Do not labor for food that spoils — but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.”
    “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also!”

~ John MacDuff {adapted}

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What Happens After?

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

After the big event—the weekend retreat, the important conference, the big bike tour—what happens after?

Have you had that feeling? You come home from the life-changing experience and there’s the laundry and the bills. The next morning the alarm clock goes off just like every other day.

Today’s the day after Easter. Jesus is risen indeed. And I pour my Cheerios, drink my coffee, and wonder if today is different from any other day. There’s a sense it should be, that something ought to be different, that it’s as though I take the miracle of Easter for granted.

But Jesus didn’t rise yesterday. Or He did, in the sense that He rises every day. So maybe today IS just like every other day.

Maybe the problem’s not that I take the resurrection for granted on the day after Easter.

Maybe the problem is that I take it for granted the rest of the year.

Maybe this “after” feeling is a reminder to do that a bit less.

Do You Want a Heart Set Free?

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Psalm 119:32: “I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.”

An acquaintance of mine planned to leave for a year in Europe to be free from everything and everyone at home. She said she had saved her money for that trip and could hardly wait to leave.

When a friend of mine turned forty, she bought a convertible sports car. She said she felt free with the top down and the wind blowing through her blonde hair.

A man convinced his wife to sell their home and furniture and buy a houseboat. He wanted to be free of home and yard responsibilities and relax on the water.

A heart set free sounds fabulous. Who wouldn’t want that freedom? We may attempt different methods to be set free, but God shows us how in this Bible verse. It’s called obedience.

When the psalmist says, “I run in the path of your commands,” he shows an eagerness to obey God. Obedience is not his last resort, but his first plan of action.

Contrary to the belief of many, money, clothes, travel, and possessions or lack of them won’t set our heart free.

Following the latest fad won’t set our heart free either. Some consider suicide, but that is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Let’s get back to the basics. Our heavenly Father loves us and asks that we obey his commands for our own good. The psalmist learned that lesson.

We can decide to run our own way into financial chaos or some other trouble, or we can decide to run in the path of God’s commands. Our choice determines the resuls.

Dear God, help me run in the path of your commands. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to let God set your heart free?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Copyright 2010-2013, 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

Are You Content with Gradual Progress in Your Recovery?

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Be content to go on quietly. When you discover something in yourself which is earthly and imperfect, be patient while you strive to cast it out. Your perceptions will grow. At first God will show you very obvious stumbling-blocks. Be diligent in clearing these away, and do not aim at heights to which you are not yet equal.

Leave all to God, and while you earnestly desire that He purify your intention, and seek to work with Him to that end, be satisfied with the gradual progress He sets before you; and remember that He often works in ways unseen by us.

Jean Nicolas (J N) Grou {adapted}

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Copyright 1998-2013 by Christians in Recovery
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