Archive for December, 2013

Living Or Life?

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Ever run across a familiar idea stated in a way that smacks you between the eyes?

I did some reading over the holiday break and encountered this quote:

We make a living by what we get.
We make a life by what we give.
(Winston Churchill)

We need to pay the bills and we all like nice stuff, but that’s living. I wonder if it’s the thief of which Jesus spoke when He said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

I picture a subtle con man encouraging me to get more and more stuff, knowing that each minute spent getting is one less to invest in giving.

Jesus didn’t drop in with some words of wisdom about how to make a better living. He came so we might follow Him and have a full, abundant life.

We make a life by doing what He did. We make a life through service and sacrifice, by investing time, talent, and treasure in others rather than spending them on stuff. Spending is here-today-and-gone-tomorrow. Wise, intentional investments grow and compound forever.

It’s important to make a living.

If we want to matter, it’s essential to make a life.

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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

Thoughts about Reflecting on the Past Year

Monday, December 30th, 2013

New Year’s resolutions get all the attention, but I find it useful to look back. Year-end is an opportunity to reflect on where I’ve been. It’s a great way to get a sense of where I’m headed.
But the past contains some traps.

So last week I made a list for myself, sort of a set of cautions and reminders. I’ll share them and invite you to add your own guidance in the comments.

Reflect with a sense of gratitude.

Reflect without regret or self-criticism. View mistakes as opportunities to learn.

Reflect without demanding answers. God doesn’t work on a yearly calendar, so some stuff may still be in-progress It’s okay to not-know.

Reflect with hope, knowing Romans 8:28 is still one of God’s central promises.

Reflect with a sense of awe and wonder. You and the story you’re writing are part of God’s plan for the universe!

Reflect with humility. It’s not all about you.

Reflect with love.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
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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

How Many Times Have You Needed Forgiveness?

Friday, December 27th, 2013

Colossians 3:13: “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Can you imagine fourteen adults going to lunch at a packed restaurant on Sunday in December after church?

We waited for our lunch longer than usual and were hungry. I found the waitress and asked for bread and butter or crackers. She brought homemade bread and oil.

When the food came, my friend and I didn’t get ours. The young waitress was close to tears. She wanted everything perfect.

My friend and I could have been angry and ruined the luncheon for everyone else. We chose to forgive as the Lord forgave us.

Our meal came when our other friends were almost finished eating. However, we received complimentary soup, dessert, and a free lunch.

The waitress thanked me for showing her forgiveness. It was easy to do when I thought of my mistakes and sins. Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins.

We will all make mistakes and sin until we die. There’s one God, and we aren’t the one.

Let’s make this Christmas our best one by letting go of anger, bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness.

Dear God, help me forgive those who have hurt me. Amen.

Application: To thank the Lord for the times he’s forgiven you, whom will you forgive this week?

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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

Accumulated Wisdom About Being Wrong

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

I tend to jump to conclusions.

It’s a bad habit, especially for a guy who sits in a wheelchair and can’t jump. But whenever there’s a controversy, I seem to have an innate need to choose a side. I’m getting better about keeping my thoughts to myself, but that doesn’t solve the heart problem. What we think matters.

I was thinking about what I’ve learned from wise people, and I distilled my thoughts into three principles.

Allow for the possibility that your initial reaction is off the mark.

Always be wrong in the direction of grace.

I’ll bet Jesus never says, “Hey, wait. That’s just too much love!”

Those would be better heart habits.

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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

What If Christmas Isn’t Merry?

Monday, December 23rd, 2013


What pops into your mind when you think of Christmas?

Colored lights, tinsel, festive decorations? Familiar music, parties, family gatherings? Joy, the promise of a Savior, God with us?

How about death, loss, and grief? That’s probably not what you expected.

Christmas is a time for glad tidings of great joy, but we also must be sensitive to those for whom the holiday invokes painful memories and highlights difficult circumstances. This isn’t the cheeriest of holiday greetings. I hope you’ll forgive me for reminding us that we’re likely to encounter folks that can’t quite share our holly-jolly spirit.

When I began teaching I was struck by a predictable rise in discipline problems between Thanksgiving and Christmas break. It took a while to understand that, for some kids, that two-week break was anything but the most wonderful time of the year. Family expectations, increased alcohol use, and financial stress lead to increased conflict. Those kids dreaded being isolated in often violent and abusive situations.

* My best friend passed away last December 23rd. I’m sure his wife and son will experience periods of profound sadness amidst piles of wrapping paper.
* I know folks who will be alone for the first time this Christmas. Divorce, death, kids moved away, husband’s deployed in Afghanistan—lots of reasons to find some loneliness and despair beneath the tree.
* For many years December was a really tough month for me. My injury happened on December 5th, and you can imagine that memories of Christmas in the ICU with screws in my head didn’t exactly make succeeding holidays an occasion for excited anticipation.

However, I’m also living evidence that God redeems and heals painful circumstances. As I began writing this, I realized that December 5th had passed un-noticed. And my story about my hospital Christmas is that the nurses decorated me—they hung Christmas ornaments from the screws. Hospital humor, I guess.

God is gracious and patient and relentless—hey, that would make a good book title: Relentless Grace! He didn’t give up on me, and he’ll work for good in troubled situations this year as well.

But even knowing that doesn’t make the darkness disappear for folks who are in the middle of the storm. We don’t have to hide our own celebration, but I hope we make time to listen to those who look at the baby in the manger and wonder where He went.

My one suggestion—don’t try to make it all okay, because right now it’s just not all okay. Don’t offer platitudes and catchy scripture passages that are somehow supposed to turn that frown upside-down. People who are hurting don’t need cheering up as much as they need someone to listen without judgment or expectation.

I’ve said before that some of the most bizarre statements I’ve ever heard came from well-meaning Christians who wanted to provide a tidy explanation for a horrible, senseless accident. If someone’s hurting, you won’t help by assuring them that it’s all part of God’s plan. That’s not what they need.

What do they need? You.

We all know one person who needs someone to have lunch or a cup of coffee or a beer with them over the next two weeks. Call that person. Listen and laugh and cry and let them share the pain and the memories. It might be uncomfortable, but it’ll be okay.

I’m thinking it might have been a little uncomfortable for God’s Son to leave Heaven for a smelly stable. But that’s what He did, because He knew some hurting people who needed Him.

This shouldn’t be a depressing reminder. Following Jesus in real life means encountering some mud and potholes and hurting people along the road. I don’t want to be a Pollyanna Christian who crosses to the other side and misses the joy of servicing and listening.

It’ll be hard sometimes, but it’ll be okay.

Who do you need to call?

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

The countless lowly ministries of the every-days

Friday, December 20th, 2013

“She has done what she could!” Mark 14:8

It is in the everyday of life, that nearly all the world’s best work is done.

The tall mountain-peaks lift their glittering crests into the clouds, and win attention and admiration. But it is in the great valleys and broad plains, that the harvests grow and the fruits ripen, on which the millions of earth feed their hunger.

In the same way, it is not from the few great and conspicuous deeds of life that the blessings chiefly come which make the world better, sweeter, holier–but from the countless lowly ministries of the every-days, the little faithfulnesses that fill long years.

“Well done, good servant, because you have been faithful in a very little thing” Luke 19:17

~J.R. Miller, “Help for the Day”

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Ground by the Word

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Sometimes
To be grounded in the Word
Is to be ground by the Word
Drowned
Lured
To the Light
Our Deity’s might
Conversion
Convincing
Rinsing contrite.
_________________________
Be a Christian: Feel Helpless. Find Love. Be Empowered.

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Copyright 2000-2013 by Roadrunner
Used by Permission
See more at:http://furtherreaches.com

Do You React or Respond to Unexpected “Surprises?”

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Ah, Christmas — ’tis the season for surprises.

Last week we heard a minor squeaking noise from our furnace fan. The noise stopped, but we had a guy come for a routine maintenance check. He walked up the basement stairs with that look on his face. A crack in the heat exchanger of our twelve-year-old furnace (with a ten-year warranty) was producing carbon monoxide emissions just below “red tag” level. One tick higher and he’d be required by law to shut it down.

You don’t mess with carbon monoxide in your home. Any level is potentially dangerous. And you don’t replace major parts in a twelve-year-old appliance. So we got the “opportunity” to have a brand new furnace installed.

Surprise!

My initial reaction to this fun little pre-holiday gift? Frustration. Didn’t need a big expense right now. If the stupid fan hadn’t squeaked… You can probably fill in the typical stuff.

Then… I had a chance to reflect.

The emission issue wasn’t related to fan noise. How long had this problem existed? How much longer would we have been exposed to this hazard if it hadn’t been discovered?

React… or respond. You see the shift, right?

Nobody got sick. We’re inside, warm, and safe.

Like most circumstances, this surprise is less about what happened and more about my perspective and attitude. My first reaction was dumb, silly, immature—you’re probably never gone there, but just in case you do, it’s great to know about grace. We get that chance to reflect, realize there’s a better path, perceive the blessing, and choose gratitude.

This week there’s likely some surprise waiting, a chance to be angry or to realize that, no matter what happens, we’re blessed. This week will provide opportunities to start over and choose gratitude.

And that’s not a surprise.

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!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

Is Giving Thanks an Obligation or a Gift?

Monday, December 16th, 2013

We talk a lot about gratitude this time of year.

Like a lot of other things, we get the notion of gratitude turned around. We act like gratitude’s an obligation, something we owe to God. You’d think He commanded us to be thankful because He needs our thanks.

When you say it that way it sounds silly, doesn’t it? God doesn’t need anything from us. He’s doing just fine. Thankfulness isn’t a requirement, an obligation, or a burden. It’s an opportunity to reaffirm our authentic identity and renew our connection to God.

Gratitude is a gift we give ourselves. When we express our thanks, we remind ourselves that we’re stewards rather than owners.

Gratitude allows us to hold everything—achievement, finances, family, health—loosely, with open hands. God wants us to live with gratitude because it’s the only way we can live in authentic peace. Gratitude allows us to let God be God.

There’s some freedom in that.

Clearing

Saturday, December 14th, 2013

from four corners of earth
from heavens
from deep
we are called

unsynchronized
disharmonious
competing
invitations

ideas clog senses
universal rejection tempting
peace craved

thicket along information highway
broken twigs
disturbed leaves
crunchy path
quiet clearing
unfiltered light

resistance released
weight falls
eyes lift
mist clears
arms raise
unmerited Grace

joy

“But You, O Lord, are a shield for me,
My glory and the One who lifts up my head.”
Psalm 3:3

_________________________
Be a Christian: Feel Helpless. Find Love. Be Empowered.

~ Roadrunner

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Copyright 2000-2013 by Roadrunner
Used by Permission
See more at:http://furtherreaches.com