Archive for November, 2013

What If I Don’t “Feel” Thankful?

Friday, November 29th, 2013

“I have a hard time with gratitude.”

Do you ever hear that? Seems like a common lament, especially around Thanksgiving. It’s like people think they should feel more grateful, and they don’t, so they feel guilty about not feeling grateful. So now there’s the guilt as well as the lack of gratitude.

We’re really good at making a difficult problem even worse.

Authentic gratitude isn’t about feelings. Gratitude is a question of identity. It’s one of those “people like us make these choices” issues.

We choose to love when we don’t feel like loving.

We choose to forgive when we don’t feel like forgiving.

We don’t make those choices because we have to. We make them because they’re the choices that affirm our identity. These often difficult choices let us live the way we were designed. They let God be God and allow us to live in deep relationship with Him.

So today—and every day—we choose to say “thank you” regardless of our feelings. We acknowledge that it’s all a gift from the true owner. Maybe for you that’s the easiest thing in the world. Maybe it’s not.

Either way, it’s okay.

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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

Something Different for Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

Ephesians 5:20: “Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

With Thanksgiving in a few days in the USA, are you off in a rush to buy a turkey and all the other items for Thanksgiving dinner?

Perhaps you’ve bought everything, but now you need to clean house and decorate the dining room table.

On Thanksgiving will you ask everyone gathered at the dinner table say one or two things for which they are thankful? Most people will mention the good, such as a better job, a bigger home, or new clothes.

I decided to do something different this year. I’ll thank God for the trials in my life and the health problems that drew me closer to him.

Those trials and health problems through the years taught me to pray with thanksgiving for answered prayer. They challenged me to praise and worship God regardless of my circumstances.

Those difficulties drew me to the Bible, the Word of God, in a search to understand the purpose of suffering and to grow in trust of God no matter what.

Will you join me this year and thank God for the hardships and the heartaches in your life? Will you look at them in view of your character development and eternity?

Dear God, help me give thanks in everything not just the good things. Amen.

Application: This week what hardship or heartache will you thank God for in view of eternity?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Not a member of CIR yet? Join us Today!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

Uncomfortable Situation? “Stop! Look! Listen!”

Monday, November 25th, 2013

I know that when I am faced with an uncomfortable situation that my first instinct is to RUN! and run as fast as I can to get away from things.

Lately, God has been teaching me to STOP!

When I was little, before crossing a street, I was always told to “Stop! Look! Listen!”

Am I being confronted by an abusive person? Is worry tormenting me so I cannot rest? Are my emotions being triggered by an event of some sort? Are temptations growing out of control like a run away freight train?

Stop, look and listen…..

I need to stop and don’t run.

I need to look to see what is really going on and what God is doing in my life.

I need to listen to my Savior so I can get the wisdom and guidance I need.

Today, are you running away? or are you choosing to Stop, Look and Listen.

 

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~ * ~
Copyright 1992-2013 by S. O. Brennan.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.
S.O. Brennan is the Director of
Christians in Recovery and the author of the
Christians in Recovery Workbook & Meeting Guide and the
Christians in Recovery Devotional Journal

All You Need Is Love?

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

I’ve been pondering 1 John for several weeks. Frankly, it’s been a bit frustrating.

I’m trying to understand why the writer goes on and on about love. I get that love is a big deal. It’s the big deal. But it feels like the letter goes around and around this same topic.

I figure I must be missing something deeper. So I continue to mull over these words, seeking the wisdom of this old man who walked beside Jesus.

We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

I think he’s saying I can’t love on my own. Any “love” I create is some kind of sentimentality, at best a shadow of the sacrificial agape that’s God’s inherent nature. Since “God is love” (verse 16), my attempt to love on my own is essentially creating God in my image.

I can only reflect the love I’ve received and accepted.

And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. (1 John 4:21)

I’ve known “spiritual” folks who wanted to withdraw, live in isolation, focus on God and their relationship with Him. If I understand this statement, John’s saying we can’t really do that.

I think he’s telling us community isn’t optional, that love for God must be expressed as love for other people.

In our culture, neither of these notions is comfortable. John seems to claim we’re not the independent, self-made individuals we prize so highly. We don’t get to be in control, and we can’t have it our way.

We’re interdependent on others and dependent on God.

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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

Goodness and Love? Really??

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Psalm 23:6: “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

Susie pointed to Psalm 23:6 in my Bible. “I don’t believe this, Ms. Yvonne.”

“What causes your unbelief?” I asked.

She cleared her throat and said, “I’ve been through a divorce. I’m a single mom of two toddlers and don’t have an extra dollar to my name. I have to work two jobs to survive, and I’m exhausted.”

With a glare in her eyes, Susie slammed the Bible shut on my desk and said, “That can’t be goodness and love.”

I nodded. “The trauma of divorce, single parenting, and financial hardship are not.”

“You agree with me?” Tears moistened Susie’s eyes.

After a moment of hesitation, I smiled and said, “To a point. However, God can redeem your pain and suffering. God’s goodness and love can follow you.”

Susie raised her dark brows and scratched her forehead.  “How?”

“What the devil meant for evil God can use for good in this life. When you die, you go to heaven to be with him forever.”

With a quiver she asked, “Will God do that for me?”

“Yes, just ask him.”

Dear God, help me see the difficulties in my life as an opportunity for you to follow me with goodness and love. Amen.

Application: What heartache will you turn over to God this week?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
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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 Experiencing McFaith?

Monday, November 18th, 2013

McFaith

Okay, it’s an odd word, but I’ll bet you get the meaning.

Just like fast food, America’s sort of obsessed with a quickie version of faith that my late friend Al Helder called McFaith. You don’t need to think, just pick a number and get on with your day.

It’s easy, and a lot less messy, to let somebody else pre-package our religion for us. Just accept the platitudes and pat answers, don’t ask tough questions, and avoid anything or anyone that doesn’t fit the preconceived model.

Trouble is, it’s empty calories.

Just like fast food, McFaith let’s you feel full but doesn’t really meet your spiritual needs. There’s no real nourishment. When something comes along to challenge your neat little worldview, their’s no substance or foundation on which to fall back.

It’s Monday. Might be a great time to make sure we’re not grabbing a quick bite of McFaith as we begin the week.

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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 Will Others Remember You?

Friday, November 15th, 2013

We’ve seen that truth play out again and again as public figures compete for the spotlight. In some arenas, apparently it doesn’t matter how you’re seen, as long as you’re seen.

Do you ever get a little frustrated when people do the same selfish, hurtful things time after time, and seem to be rewarded with increasing levels of power, fame, and fortune? It’s hard not to wonder why we seem to provide bonuses for scandal, conflict, and bullying.

I’m not going to change society’s fascination with self destruction. I can’t stop our justification of bullying behavior by politicians with whom we agree. Sadly, we’ll continue to excuse abhorrent conduct by athletes who help the home team win.

My question is, “How will you and I be remembered by the people we encounter?”

I think most of us marginalize ourselves and underestimate our influence on others. We believe the rich and famous are the ones with the power to impact lives.

It’s a lie.

Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” (Matthew 5:14)

People see our light. You and I have the power—every day—to love, encourage, and empower those around us. It’s a long-term deal, a lifetime legacy rather than a one-shot blast.

But don’t ever believe others don’t notice, because we also have the power to ignore, to tear down, to spotlight failures and mistakes.

Either way, people see our light, and they’ll remember.

We get to choose how they’ll remember.

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 A Black Hole Or A Prism?

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

John 3:16 is perhaps the most well-known verse in the Bible.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
prism
That’s the outrageous nature of God’s sacrificial love for me—even His own Son was not too high a price to pay to bring me back into the family.

God loves me!

A few weeks ago, Bob Goff highlighted 1 John 3:16, a companion verse that’s not quite so frequently mentioned.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

The picture’s pretty clear.

God shined this laser beam of intense, unimaginable love directly on me, but the point wasn’t simply for me to soak it up and feel special. The point was to reflect God’s love into a world that desperately needs it. In verse 18 the writer advises, “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

You and I get to choose. We can absorb God’s love, or we can demonstrate it to the world. Black hole or prism.

The Message states our alternatives, and their consequences, pretty clearly:

This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.

I don’t want to make God’s love disappear. You?

 

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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 Running the Race Marked out for You?

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

Hebrews 12:1: “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

Spiritual housecleaning occurs year round. Today’s verse says to “throw off everything that hinders.” As I recover from laryngitis, an upper respiratory infection, and bronchitis, I’ve had time to ask God what I should throw off that hinders me.

Since I can’t do everything, my focus can’t be on what others think is best for me or on “good” things. My focus needs to be on what God thinks is best for me.

The rest of that phrase says to throw off “the sin that so easily entangles.” I love life. I love people, and I want to do everything. That turns into “busyness.” God’s will for me may get lost in that busyness. Throw off that sin is right.

Once I throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, then I can “run with perseverance the race marked out for [me].” I don’t want to limp through the race. I want to run it with perseverance.

Can you identify with me? Must you get sick before you stop, catch your breath, and ask God what hinders you that you should throw off?

Have you taken the time to identify the sin that so easily entangles you? If you have identified it, what have you done about it?

How will you finish the race? Running? Limping? Crawling? Running someone else’s race?

Dear God, help me throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles me. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to run the race marked out for you?

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

Drive Thru Prayer?

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

The sign said: DRIVE THRU PRAYER.

We looked and, sure enough, right next to the church driveway sat a guy in a folding chair under an awning.

I made my typical sarcastic remarks. “I need my prayer supersized. Can I get fries with that?”

We passed that church a few times during our days in that city. Despite my casual dismissal, I wish I’d stopped. I didn’t particularly want a quick prayer, but I’d like to know the story.

I wonder how many great conversations started beside that driveway. How many connections were made, how many relationships started, because he took time to sit by that driveway?

Did someone ever see the sign when they were at the end of the rope and decide it was worth a try even if they didn’t really believe?

I’ll never know, because I didn’t take time to find out. I was too busy. I’d already pre-judged, so I didn’t need to bother discovering what was really happening.

“Drive thru prayer” probably wouldn’t be my thing. Some folks think cranking a handcycle across the country is an odd way to engage others in conversations about hope and possibility, and they’re probably right. It’s okay, because Becky and I are doing what we can, where we are, with what we have. That’s all God asks.

What if the “drive thru prayer” folks were doing the same? Maybe this was one group’s way of reaching out. Maybe they met and connected with a lot of new people. Maybe some folks pulled over, got out of their cars, sat in the grass, and talked about life.

You see my point, right? This isn’t about handcycling or drive thru prayer.

It’s about taking time to hear the story, saying something as simple as, “Tell me more,” before deciding I know what’s going on.

I believe God uses a goofy dog and a handcycle to help people believe in hope. Perhaps He’s more creative than we realize.

Maybe He’s not limited to methods that meet my approval.

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