Archive for September, 2013

How Can We Keep from Falling?

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

Psalm 37:24: “Though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.”

When my son was learning to walk, I would kneel a short distance from him and encourage him to come to me. I would smile and clap my hands as he took each step. If I thought he might fall, I would reach out to take his hand in mine.

The Lord is our heavenly father. He stays close to us and upholds us with his hand. He doesn’t want us to fall just as we don’t want our children to fall.

When we do our best to walk with the Lord, he delights in us. He wants us to succeed. He encourages us as we do our children.

God knows we aren’t perfect and will stumble at times. However, he doesn’t disown us or give up on us. He is with us to keep us from falling.

On one occasion, my son felt he had disappointed me. I could see the sadness in his eyes. I looked at him and said, “You are my son, and I am your mother. I love you. Nothing you say or do will ever change my love for you.”

My son cried and never forgot those words of love. God loves us, and nothing will stand between him and us. Let’s not forget his promise that he will uphold us with his hand.

Dear God, I stumble at times. Thank you that you uphold me with your hand. Amen.

Application: In what situation will you allow God to uphold you with his hand this week?

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

Is there a distinction between who’s invited and who’s welcome?

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

I was privileged to hear Bob Goff speak last Thursday, then Becky and I spent a couple of hours with him and about twenty people at breakfast the next morning. Over the next few days I’ll share some of the nuggets swirling in my brain.

Bob asked a great question at breakfast: We say everyone’s invited, but is everyone welcome?

I know exactly what he means. I’ve seen the irritated glances when I show up somewhere with a wheelchair. It’s an inconvenience. They have to move chairs, my service dog takes up extra space. I need a little extra help or some accommodation.

Of course I’m invited. But for some folks, it would be more convenient if I didn’t come.

I know how the homeless guy feels. The sign says “Y’ALL COME,” but it’s pretty clear you’re making people uncomfortable. Invited, but not really welcome.

In many places the “unwritten rules” might as well be proclaimed in flashing neon. If you don’t share particular political opinions or doctrinal conclusions, or you’re gay, or you ask the wrong questions, often there’s a pretty obvious don’t-ask-don’t-tell environment.

Maybe your kids are autistic and sometimes act out, or you have a developmental disability. Well, we’ll set up a separate program for you—even if that’s more for our convenience than anything else.

If Jesus is known for one thing, it’s that he hung out with folks who made others uncomfortable. He didn’t see them as projects. They weren’t problems to be solved or defective parts to be fixed. He welcomed them as friends.

Is there a distinction between who’s invited and who’s welcome?

Monday might be a good day to ask why.

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 Offering or Telling?

Friday, September 20th, 2013

Maybe we ought to spend a little less time and effort telling people they’re thirsty.

That’s another challenge I brought away from our time with Bob Goff last week. I’ll confess: I had to ponder this one a bit.

Before reading further, what do you think he meant?

I occasionally ride bikes with friends, and honestly it’s sort of annoying when someone constantly nags at me to drink more. Yeah, I know they care about my welfare. They may even be right. But I’m a reasonably experienced rider, and just because I can’t walk doesn’t mean I’m incapable of monitoring my fluids. When you tell me you know what I need to do and when and how I need to do it, you actually decrease the likelihood I’ll pay attention.

We get pretty good at treating others like they just arrived from The Land of Broken Toys, especially when they’re different from us. We see what’s wrong, and we’re convinced it’s our job to point out the flaws and prescribe a solution. We may have the greatest of intentions, but nobody wants to be treated like a broken toy.

As I consider Bob’s metaphor, I see two options.

One is offering a cup of cold water—no strings attached—without being offended if my offer’s declined.

The other is telling someone they need to drink my particular brand of energy drink RIGHT NOW and doing all I can to coerce compliance because I know what they need.

One option opens the door to a relationship. It increases the odds that you’ll seek me out when you really ARE thirsty.

Jesus didn’t ask us to save people. That’s His job.

He asked us to love them.

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

Where is the Burden of Your Sins?

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

“You will trample our sins under Your feet–and throw them into the depths of the ocean!” Micah 7:19

The picture here is of an ocean–not near the shore–but far beyond sight of land, in the midst of a wide wilderness of waters–the illimitable horizon stretching on every side; and when the sounding line is let down–it cannot fathom the depth, or reach the bottom!

There, in the solitudes of that voiceless ocean–a plunge is heard! The surface is ruffled only for a moment; then the waves resume their usual calmness. The load, whatever it is–is never more seen. It is buried somewhere in these dark caverns! No spirit of the deep can ever come up from the silent caves to tell its story! Ships cross and recross where it fell–but no distinguishing marker is left on the unstable highway, to mark the spot. The sea can be tempted by no bribe, to give up the secret of its keeping–all trace is lost from sight and memory forever!

That is a picture of what God does for all His redeemed people!

“You will trample our sins under Your feet–and throw them into the depths of the ocean!”

~ John MacDuff, “God’s Words of Comfort to His People” 1872

Did You Really Hear What You Heard?

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Our church heard sort of a groundbreaking message this weekend.

(I told you part of it last time. )

I suppose in the grand scheme of things it wasn’t earth-shattering. A buddy used to keep things in perspective by quipping, “It can’t be that important if more than a billion Chinese folks don’t even know about it.”

But the Kingdom of God isn’t built on earth-shattering events. It’s built by ordinary people and local churches taking risks, doing what they can, where they are, with what they have. In the life of our church, and hopefully our community, this message signaled the casting of a significant vision.

What I found curious was the varied reactions I heard. So I asked a few folks their thoughts about the main point of the message.

Frankly, it seemed like we didn’t attend the same service. Certainly we didn’t come away with anything close to the same call to action.

It’s tempting to blame the pastor, but Jesus experienced the same issue. People have deployed His words in ways He never intended for two thousand years.

I shouldn’t be surprised. We’d like to believe we’re neutral observers, but in fact we all listen, watch, and interpret through unique filters composed of our experiences and biases. We may know the same information, but that’s no guarantee we’ll reach similar conclusions.

It’s not about what you look at. It’s about what you see.

It’s not about the words someone says. It’s about what you hear.

It’s not about the evidence. It’s about what you do with it.

Two lessons for me:

Don’t assume others heard what I meant to say. In fact, it might be good practice to assume they didn’t hear it quite as I intended.

Listen. Ask questions. Seek feedback. Say it another way.

That’s one reason I value your comments, whether on the blog or Facebook. They help me know where I missed the mark.

Don’t assume I heard what was really said. Take notes. Be more aware of my personal biases. Ask questions, especially if something doesn’t quite fit.

Too often I jump to conclusions based on initial impressions. I react rather than choosing a considered response.

I’m biased and I’m prejudiced. So are you–in different places and directions.

Awareness and acceptance of those realities are first steps toward seeing and hearing 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

How Do You Think It Ends?

Monday, September 16th, 2013

This weekend our pastor shared an amazing story he experienced as a dream—or nightmare. You decide.

This one’s gonna stick with me a while.

In his dream, he was standing on the platform in the church auditorium when a pleasant, refreshing rain began falling inside the building. It was clear to everyone that the rain represented God’s blessing.

Everyone celebrated and danced as the blessing fell on them. As the gentle, healing waters settled around them, children splashed with joy and excitement.

Then the water got a bit deeper, and parents picked up the smallest kids. As the levels continued to rise, kids who’d been swimming now stood on chairs. Adults started looking around for higher ground.

Someone shouted, “Open the doors!” But they discovered the doors had been locked to keep danger out.

The rain continued to fall, if anything at an even more intense rate. Celebration turned to concern. The pastor watched in horror as panic threatened to erupt, then ran to the side of the platform where there was an emergency door equipped with a “crash bar.” He hit the bar and pushed with all his might, but the door wouldn’t budge.

As the water rose around him, he looked out the window and saw a homeless man standing in the dry, parched parking lot. He screamed at the man through the window.

“Open the door!”

The pastor told us how the story ended in his dream, but I thought I let you create your own ending.

What’s the most meaningful symbolism to you?

What do you think happened? How does the story end?

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 Do Christians Believe?

Friday, September 13th, 2013

question-marks1This week I’m leading an adult Sunday school class called “What Do Christians Believe?”

Except it’s not really a class. There’s no formal curriculum, no goals and objectives, and (gasp!) no exams. It’s really more of a multi-week forum, a chance to ask questions that don’t get asked a lot in church.

My sense is there’s a lot of folks hanging around the edges of church, especially a big church, who aren’t quite sure what it’s really about. Nobody ever told them there’s a difference between revelation and religion, so they think somebody’s brand of organized religion is the same as following Jesus. So they end up “church shopping” which often means choosing the least objectionable religiosity.

I also notice that churches do a lot of teaching, preaching, and telling. I don’t see a lot of invitations to raise a hand and say, “Could you run by that one again?”

So this “class” is an opportunity to ask questions and explore the core of what it means to follow Jesus.

A friend told me recently that Christians believe in being good people, treating others with kindness, and showing compassion to those in need. When I asked where he learned this he replied, “In church.”

His explanation seemed like it was missing something—namely Jesus. I’d speculate that my friend isn’t alone in omitting Jesus from Christianity.

What Do Christians Believe?

What’s your answer?

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

How Can You Avoid Destruction?

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Hosea 4:6: “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.”

How can a lack of knowledge destroy us? After all, we live in an advanced world with iPods, iPads, smart phones, tablets, and much more.

And yet the words the Lord spoke against Israel in Hosea 4 describe our present situation. Verses 1-2 say, “There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgement of God in the land. There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed.”

The lifestyle in verses 1-2 reflects a rejection of God, of his laws, and of the Word of God. Have we become too smart for our own good? How can we leave God out and still expect his blessings?

“Rebecca” attended a university far from home. By graduation, she rejected her godly upbringing and was living with a non-Christian man.

“No one follows the Bible nowadays,” she told me as she sat in my office in her black business suit and high heels.

“Please explain why you chose me as your counselor.” I paused and looked into her brown eyes. “I’m a Christian counselor who lives according to the Word of God.”

“My parents know you and trust you.” Rebecca’s fingers circled the buttons on her jacket. “Things aren’t working,” she said. “My partner is going to leave me.”

I suggested Rebecca seek God, the author of knowledge. “God loves you. He’s waiting to hear from you.”

In an admission of desperation, she agreed to seek him.

Dear God, please help me seek you, the author of knowledge. Amen.

Application:  In what way will you acknowledge God this week?

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

“I can do everything through Christ..” – Is That a Broken Promise?

Monday, September 9th, 2013

Can a promise mean something bigger than you imagined?

We watched the powerful movie SOUL SURFER, the true story of a young lady with two passions: God and surfing. Both are tested when a shark bites off her left arm.

As she’s recovering in her hospital room, her dad encourages her (and himself) with a familiar scripture:

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

Later, as she begins to comprehend the reality of her injury and the adjustments it requires, she screams in frustration, “WHAT HAPPENED TO “I CAN DO EVERYTHING THROUGH CHRIST’? WHERE’S THE STRENGTH HE PROMISED WHEN I NEED IT?”

It’s a fair question, one I imagine we’ve all asked at some point. She believed with all her heart that God would help her get her life back, but she couldn’t even put on a swim suit with one hand. How could she ever hope to surf again? What did everything matter without the one thing that mattered most?

What’s the meaning of the promise that “…I can do everything through Christ …”?

I don’t think God’s assuring me that I’ll be able to dunk a basketball from my wheelchair if I try really hard and really, really believe. I have a feeling that “everything” involves something bigger than the physical functions I’d like to perform.

As I read Philippians 4:13 in context, I see an assurance that Jesus will give me the strength to endure whatever I encounter. He’s not telling me I’ll be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. He’s promising that He’ll help me face and overcome any obstacle.

When I was injured, all I wanted was to walk again. I still want that.

God showed me that I don’t need to walk to have a purpose, to accomplish a big dream, perhaps even bring together a circle of folks that can change the world. He showed me that there are other ways to get where He wants me to go.

Does my inability to walk represent a broken promise because Jesus didn’t give me the strength to do “everything”?

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

Trying to Open Closed Doors

Friday, September 6th, 2013

Suppose someone knocks on your front door.

You go to the door and try to PUSH it open. You sweat and strain and shove with all your might. You really want to open that door, but despite your best effort you’re unable to force it open.

Your front door is designed to open inward.

I think we live a lot of life like this. We try to push through doors that just aren’t going to open, no matter what we do. Maybe they’re locked, but perhaps we’re insisting on doing it our way when our way isn’t God’s way.

I’m thinking I should make sure I find the right doors. And once I find them, it’s worth a few minutes figuring out how they were designed to open.

Jesus said, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” (Revelation 3:20)

How sad to imagine Him standing right there on the other side of the door. I struggle to get to Him, frustrated when my best efforts fail to push past the barrier.

It’s simple. Respect the design.

Step aside, turn the knob, and gently pull the door open.

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