Archive for May, 2013

What If?

Friday, May 31st, 2013

rocking chairAs a teacher I was never a fan of hypothetical situations.

I don’t believe there’s much value in “What would you do if…” questions. I frankly believe it’s dangerous to force students to stake out and defend a position without the risk of facing the real-life consequences of their choices.

Recently my friend Jon Swanson proposed a much better alternative to “What would you do if…?”

Jon suggested considering opportunities in the form of “What if …?”

Some examples:

  • What if … you rode your bike a few miles each day this summer?
  • What if … you read a chapter in the Bible each day this summer?
  • What if … you spent some time with a lonely kid this summer?

Get the idea?

Instead of locking you in, these questions open doors and invite us to consider possibilities.

Think about different aspects of life—physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, relational. What might happen if you intentionally explored your dreams and goals?

What if…?

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

What Kind of Lists Do You Make?

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Everybody knows we tend to lose our memory as we age. Old guys like me get a pass for forgetting simple stuff like phone numbers and anniversaries.

But we seem to have no problem remembering when someone hurts us. We appear to have an almost supernatural ability to remember others’ mistakes. I may not recall the name of the guy I just met, but I can recite intricate details of how someone let me down years ago.

Am I the only one whose hard drive is programmed to forget his wife’s birthday but store wrongs and hurts forever?

Maybe we need to pay attention to the lists we keep.

Blessings, gifts, and acts of kindness—it’s probably a good idea to keep careful account of those so you can dig them out occasionally when memories fade a bit.

But perhaps I’d do better to keep a shorter, less permanent list of others’ mistakes, their hurtful acts, the times they let me down. Maybe I ought to invest less energy in recording and preserving those memories.

After all, I am getting older. Do I really want to squander my declining supply of brain cells on that years-old feud or that decades-old pain? Why waste my remaining memories by clinging to ancient hurts?

When it comes to wrongs, maybe I need to keep shorter lists.

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

Fragrance or Stench?

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

2 Corinthians 2:14: “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.”

Do you spread a fragrance or a stench? When we are God’s children, “[He] always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.”

Verse 15 tells us, “We are the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” That aroma is gentle and compassionate. The aroma of Christ looks for common ground rather than attack like a bulldog. Later the aroma of Christ explains differences.

In verse 17, the Bible says, “We speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God.” When we talk with unbelievers, we need to remember we are speaking “before God.” He is listening. That phrase, “with sincerity,” doesn’t allow for hypocrisy or wavering. We have a sacred trust because we are “sent from God.” How often do we keep in mind that God sent us?

What happens if we don’t allow God to lead us, and we go our own way? We become obnoxious to the non-Christian. We do not reflect God’s love. We are judgmental and self-righteous and ruin our reputation with the unbeliever.

If we spread a stench, why would the unbeliever want to be a Christian? If we are obnoxious, what can we offer the unbeliever? If we lack love, how can the unbeliever know God’s unconditional and eternal love?

When we allow God to lead us, we will walk in “triumphal procession in Christ.” I’d rather triumph than fail any day. Wouldn’t you?

Dear God, help me allow you to lead me in triumphal procession in Christ. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to spread the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ?

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

For Us Or Against Us?

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

sideBob Goff (author of LOVE DOES) wrote an interesting article last week about picking fights and making a difference. Bob referenced a bible story I’d never heard.

I know that shocks you.

In Joshua 5:13-15, Joshua is checking out Jericho prior to the big day when he encounters an angel with his sword drawn. You can imagine this was a somewhat intimidating sight, and Joshua asks an understandable question.

“Whose side are you on?”

Makes sense to me. Joshua’s about to lead his men in conquest of this strange land, and he wants a little reassurance. I’ll bet he didn’t expect the answer he received.

The angel tells Joshua he commands God’s army and…he’s not on either side!

Since I wasn’t familiar with this story, I read a bunch about it. I found lots of really deep thoughts and interpretations of the precise identity and prophetic implications of the angel’s appearance. But the angel’s response carried a clear, unmistakable message:

God’s army isn’t “for” anyone. Its sole purpose is to accomplish God’s will.

For me, the lesson is crystal clear. No matter how hard I pray, God’s not going to show up to wear my team jersey, advance my political agenda, or carry my flag. Put another way:

The question isn’t whether God’s on my team but whether I’m on His team.

It’s pretty easy to invoke God’s blessing on our cause. We assume He’s on our side because we’re “obviously” more right than the other side. He can’t possibly be for them, so He got to be for us…doesn’t He?

But the angel’s response makes it clear: God doesn’t choose sides. Instead, He invites us to choose His side.

And as I said last time, there’s a lot more to being on the team than simply wearing the jersey.

When we choose His side, God offers the opportunity to actually participate, engage, and play for the team to accomplish His will.

Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow. (Isaiah 1:17)

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

Are You Wearing the Jersey but Not Getting it Dirty?

Friday, May 24th, 2013

yankeeWhen I was a kid, cheering for a sports team was simpler.

You knew and cheered for the players on your team. There were no free agents and really good players were rarely traded.

That all changed in the mid-70’s. Now, team rosters vary drastically every season. Last year’s villains might be this season’s beloved heroes. We no longer cheer for players. We cheer for laundry. It’s not about the guy, but the jersey the guy’s wearing.

Like I said yesterday, jerseys are cool.

I have two authentic New York Yankee jerseys in my closet. They’re identical to those worn by the guys who actually play for the Yankees. It’s fun to show them off once in a while, though I don’t wear them to games because I fear mustard stains.

But here’s the thing: I can put on the jersey and the cap and all the fancy equipment, but nobody’s going to mistake me for an actual player.

Wearing the jersey doesn’t make me part of the team. Being on the team involves a lot more than wearing the right laundry.

Fans are involved, even passionate, but they don’t have any real skin in the game. They express an opinion, maybe buy a ticket, but when the game ends they head back to their lives. Win or lose, the jersey goes back in the closet.

Being on the team requires commitment. The players on the field sacrificed to get there. They spent long, lonely hours training and practicing. They risked failure, endured pain, and faced fear in pursuit of a goal.

For the players, the jersey symbolizes commitment to something bigger than themselves. It’s meant to be worn, not displayed. Dirt, sweat, and even some blood stains are okay.

I don’t think Jesus wants fans—even passionate ones. He’s not looking for us to sport the laundry and cheer from the sidelines. I think He wants us to do more than wear a nice, clean, unwrinkled jersey.

I think He wants us to engage, face our fear, and sacrifice courageously together toward something bigger than ourselves. I think He wants followers whose commitment goes deeper than Sunday morning attendance or an opinion on Facebook.

I think He wants followers whose jerseys get sweaty and dirty.

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

Whose Team are You On?

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

I’m excited about today’s word-of-the-week…

JERSEY

backTeam jerseys are cool and fun. There’s a real sense of belonging, being part of something bigger than yourself, that goes with wearing a jersey.

I’m thinking about jerseys because we just finalized our team for this summer’s Front Range FREEDOM Tour 2013. It’s interesting, and a little scary, to think about bringing a group together for an intense week of physical, emotional, and spiritual challenge.

Deep down, I think we all like being part of a team and wearing the jersey.

One curious aspect of team jerseys is the development of an “us vs. them” mentality. When you’re on a team, people are either on your side or the other side. They’re either for you—or they’re against you.

It’s a false choice, and potentially a dangerous one.

Once you put on that team jersey, it’s easy to assume God’s on your side—and opposed to the other side. This can lead to some good-natured humor when we invoke God’s support for our favorite sports team. It’s not so funny when the issue’s more serious.

I’m spending some time thinking about the issue of teams and jerseys and choosing sides. I’ll share some of it in the next couple of posts. For now, this starter:

The question isn’t whether God’s on our team but whether we’re on God’s team.

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

Do You Remember Grace?

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

Last time I told you my friend Jim’s vision of Jesus’ actions as mediator. Several readers sent notes saying how touched they were by the statement, “It’s okay. He’s with me.”

Jim clearly isn’t worried his encounter with God. He knows Jesus has him covered.

I wonder if those who follow Jesus often miss this simple assurance. I seem to hear so much guilt, so many folks striving to be good enough. It’s as though Jesus provided a simple target, and we’re completely invested in making it harder and harder to hit.

Sometimes I wish we’d make the core message a little more clear.

You can’t be good enough. Nobody can. Stop trying.

God loves you. You are forgiven. Completely. Not because you earned it or because you deserve it. You don’t. It’s a gift, completely free, through God’s grace.

Jesus bridged the gap between you and God through His birth, life, death, and resurrection. You could never have reached across that gap. There are lots of theological notions about how that worked, but how doesn’t matter. What matters is that Jesus built a bridge you couldn’t build, and you cross it through faith in Him.

Your faith is a response to God’s grace.

I wonder how many folks spend hours each week memorizing scripture and trying to understand theological intricacies, thinking those somehow get them closer to God. And in their hectic study and prayer, they miss grace.

Without God’s grace, nothing else matters. In the light of grace, all the rest is pretty insignificant.

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

A Happy Heart: When Was the Last Time You Laughed?

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Proverbs 15:13: “A happy heart makes the face cheerful.”

My stomach hurt because I laughed so much. I had listened to a CD by the Christian comedian, Ken Davis.

Ken makes strange noises and transforms the ordinary into hysterical situations.

As I listened to Ken Davis’ antics, I laughed all the way to the grocery store and back. When I looked in the mirror, my eyes sparkled, and my face glowed. Yes, “A happy heart does make the face cheerful.” According to the Bible, happy means blessed. Ken’s humor blessed me.

So that I don’t forget to laugh each day, I watch comedies like the Bill Cosby Show and listen to CDs of humorous speakers like Ken Davis, Mikki Williams, and Luci Swindoll. Mikki says, “He who laughs lasts!” At the Women of Faith Conference, Luci quoted her grandmother and said, “A day is wasted if you don’t fall over in a heap laughing.” Mikki and Luci always bless me.

A lady I know listens to the Captain’s Club on the radio for the riddles. Her children are grown and married, but she enjoys the humor of the riddles. She demonstrates a cheerful face as she repeats the riddles to anyone who will listen.

Proverbs 15:15 says, “The cheerful heart has a continual feast.” The word, cheerful, means noticeably happy and optimistic. I’ll choose a feast over famine any day. I’ll do what is necessary to be noticeably happy and optimistic. What about you?

Dermatologists say that one of the ways to prevent wrinkles is to be happy. I say, “Away with the wrinkles! Be happy.”

When was the last time you laughed until your stomach hurt or you fell over in a heap laughing? What do you and your family do to have a happy heart?

Are you blessed? Does your face reflect a happy heart?

Dear God, help me have a happy heart. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week so that your happy heart will make your face cheerful?

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

What do You Envision Jesus Doing?

Monday, May 20th, 2013

My friend Jim has an incredible way of verbalizing his faith using simple, profound stories.

We’ve been together in a small group for a number of years. We’ll be immersed in some tangled discussion, and Jim steps in and offers a word picture that leaves everyone saying things like “Wow” and “Very cool.”

The other night our study asked a question. “When you envision Jesus acting as your mediator, what do you envision Him doing?”

After several folks fumbled with responses, Jim provided one of his gems.

# # #

“I always picture myself sitting in front of God, and Satan’s there listing all the things I did wrong. And it’s horrible, because everything he says about me is true.

“Then, just when I think I can’t take it anymore, Jesus walks up, wraps His arms around me, and sort of covers me with His cloak.

“And he says, ‘It’s okay. He’s with me.’”

# # #

I smiled when Jim told the story. I’m smiling as I write it.

We make theology pretty complicated sometimes. I suppose there’s a place for that, but I wonder if we’d do better if we focused more on something more basic.

Jesus loves me, this I know.

“It’s okay. He’s with me.”

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

Restoration of Your Wasted Years

Saturday, May 18th, 2013

And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten. (Joel 2:25)

Yes, those wasted years we regret will be restored to us. God can give us such plentiful grace that we will crowd into the remainder of our days as much of service that will recompense for those obstinate years over which we mourn in humble penitence.

The locusts of backsliding, worldliness, lukewarmness, are now viewed by us as a terrible plague. If only they had never happened!

The Lord in mercy has now taken them away, and we eager to serve Him. Blessed be His name that we can raise harvests of spiritual graces so that our former barrenness disappears. Through rich grace we can turn to account our bitter experience and use it to warn others.

We can become more rooted in humility, childlike dependence, and penitent spirituality through the experience of our former shortcomings. If we are more watchful, zealous, and tender, we will gain by our lamentable losses.

The wasted years, by a miracle of love, can be restored. Does it seem too great a blessing? Let us believe it and live for it, and we may yet realize it, even as Peter became all the more useful a man after his presumption was cured by his discovered weakness. Lord, aid us by Your grace.

~ Charles Spurgeon, Chequebook of Faith {adapted}