Archive for January, 2014

What’s The Fear?

Friday, January 31st, 2014

facing fearWhat’s the fear?

That’s my opening question this week in my workshop at Harvest Farm. I hope they don’t turn the question back at me. I’d rather discuss their fears than reveal mine.

This week our small group looked at a passage from Philippians 1. Verse 27 says, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”

One of the discussion questions asked if we were doing that—and how we knew. So looking a bit further, verse 28 says one piece of evidence is operating “without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you.”

So we asked ourselves:

Are we living fearlessly, in a manner worthy of the gospel?

And of course we’re not, and we come back to the original question:

What’s the fear?

Let’s be honest—nobody’s going to bomb my house because I follow Jesus. I don’t have to hide my faith. But I don’t live fearlessly.

The day after our study I encountered a Facebook post from someone in another city whom I know fairly well. There were a few comments from folks in my social media circle of influence, and as I read I felt pretty strongly that the discussion missed the mark in an important way.

I carefully composed a response, edited my words, re-read them…and then pressed DELETE. Why? I was afraid.

Afraid I might not say it just right. Afraid I’d offend someone. Afraid of what they’d think. I allowed what I believed to be an untruth, albeit a minor one, to stand unchallenged—among friends—because I was afraid.

Certainly the fate of civilization won’t turn on a small Facebook discussion, but I suspect this is exactly the sort of issue Paul addressed. I think Jesus asks us to be faithful in the small stuff, to treat it like big stuff.

That Facebook interaction bothers me. It’s not about the issue; that’s inconsequential. But the questions demand answers.

Are we living fearlessly, in a manner worthy of the gospel?

What’s the fear?

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

“Not Fair!” – Jesus Talks About Comparing

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

I used to work for a principal who claimed that the most unfair thing we could do was treat everyone exactly the same.

Do you agree?

Many folks objected when he approached different kids in different ways. I can’t imagine how many times I heard someone whine, “It’s not fair!”

Our insistence on “fairness” is mostly about our preoccupation with comparing. If the other guy got more than we got we complain about injustice. Incidentally, there’s rarely much objection from the guy who got the better end of the deal.

Last weekend our pastor talked about the story in John 21 when Jesus cooks breakfast for a couple of disciples. Toward the end of this encounter Jesus prophesies about Peter’s death. Then Peter points at John and asks, “Lord, what about him?”

Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” (John 21:22)

It’s one of those stories I’ve heard many times, but this time one small piece caught my attention.

What is that to you? You must follow me.

The message is pretty clear, right? I feel like I’m sitting on that beach, hearing Jesus gentle words:

Stop worrying about what everyone else is doing. Stop wondering why they get more attention or support. What is that to you?

Don’t compare your work or your rewards. Your job is to do what’s in front of you and let me take care of the rest.

I’m in charge, and I’ve got it covered. It’ll be okay.

You must follow me.

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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

Where Do You Put Your Time and Energy?

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Proverbs 27:24: “For riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations.”

What plans do you have for your life? What do you value most?

I talked with a friend about family, spiritual, physical, and financial plans for 2014. We shared many of the same ones and prayed God would help us reach them.

On another occasion, I discussed goals with a young man. He told me he wanted to be a millionaire. He said he worked day and night to make money.

I asked that young man if I could pray for him. He smiled and said, “Only if you pray I will become a millionaire.”

When I prayed, I asked God to let him become a millionaire in all areas of his life with family, friends, physical and spiritual health, and financial security.

Proverbs 27:24 came to mind. “Riches do not endure forever.” We can’t take them with us when we die. A couple of people told me they plan to take traveler’s checks with them when they die.

What if that were possible? We won’t need traveler’s checks in heaven, and the fire of hell would burn them.

A person may have a crown or some other item to give to the next generation. However, he may change his mind, or an unexpected misfortune may prevent it.

Dear God, help me appreciate the riches I have in you. Amen.

Application:
What riches will get your time and energy this week?

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

Awareness

Monday, January 27th, 2014

A busy weekend prompts today’s word-of-the-week…

AWARENESS

not knowOur church spent the weekend doing a number of activities designed to create awareness about the issue of human trafficking. A few thousand people left with a lot of information. Someone asked whether all that knowledge makes any difference.

I suppose you could argue that the information doesn’t do much good unless someone does something with it, but I look at it differently.

Awareness alone may not change anything, but without awareness nothing will change.

One day last week some radio sports talk guys were joking about the “partying” that accompanies Super Bowl trips. The guy humor included not-so-subtle references to “gentlemen’s clubs” and “professional women,” code for strip joints and prostitutes.

I’m sure they don’t know about the huge spike in trafficked girls fueled by the demand around the Super Bowl. They’re dads. They have daughters. I’ll bet they’d be appalled. But they can’t act on what they don’t know.

I sent them a respectful email with some information and links. I don’t know if they read every message, but if enough listeners send enough information, at least they’ll be aware.

It’s a start.

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 to Bring Sweetness and Healing to Your Home

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Proverbs 16:24: “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

Did you grow up in a home where a parent or both parents screamed, cursed, and insulted each other?

If you did, with time you probably became a victim of their verbal and emotional abuse too.

Now you are an adult, and your home can be different. You can provide peace and love for your family. You can help your children grow up with self-confidence and self-respect.

Start with pleasant words. No matter what you need to say, say it in a gentle manner.

Set boundaries in your home about communication and lead by example. If you don’t want your children to scream, don’t scream at them or your spouse if you are married. Insist that your spouse and extended family not scream in your home either.

If you don’t want your children to curse and call each other names, don’t curse or call them or your spouse names. Insist that your spouse and relatives also refrain from doing so.

Your goal is pleasant words that are “sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
Dear God, help me speak pleasant words and apologize when I don’t. Amen.

Application:  What will you do this week to bring sweetness to the soul and healing to the bones of your family?

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

What Do Others Need from Me?

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Last night our small group did an interesting study.

We looked at Acts 16:11-40, the story of the roots of the Philippian church. The story recounts the conversion of three diverse characters: Lydia, a wealthy foreigner; a demon-posessed slave girl; and a Roman jailer.

Paul approached each person differently. He did what each needed to encounter Christ. I encourage you to read how he interacted with each individual.

At the end of the study, we were challenged to summarize our takeaway. I thought we came up with a pretty cool statement. We decided that when we meet someone we should always keep this question in mind:

What does this person need from me to see Jesus?

I wonder how my relationships and interactions would change if I always remembered that question.

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

Jesus Isn’t About Fake Smiles

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Ever have a week when you wish you could hit the delete button?

I’ve spent most of the last few days feeling like the entire world is out to get me. Every little task seems monumental, every obstacle insurmountable. I’m just plain sick and tired of the whole thing…whatever that means.

What’s strange is that I can’t identify a specific reason. It’s not like some cataclysmic tragedy occurred. I just awoke one day with this overwhelming sense of being overwhelmed.

I’ve told you before that depression is sort of an ongoing issue for me, so I have an idea about what’s occurring. But that doesn’t make it easier, or less painful, for me or the people closest to me who have to deal with the fallout.

I’m not sharing this to complain or to collect sympathy. My commitment is to write about following Jesus in real life, and I suspect real life for most of us includes some less-than-rosy days.

I also suspect someone reading this might face depression, or know someone who does. If so, perhaps it helps to know you’re not alone.

What makes this so difficult, at least for me, is that I know the “right” answers. I know being depressed is dumb and hurtful. I know Jesus loves me. I know I’m accountable for my choices, blaming others won’t change anything, and I control my attitude.

It’s one of those times when the easy, obvious answers simply aren’t very helpful. As much as some want to believe it, people don’t choose to be depressed and you’re not going to talk them out of it. It’s like convincing someone to stop having the flu.

It’ll pass, and until then I’ll cope. But know that coping is a bit like holding a beach ball under the water—it requires a lot of effort, and it’s not always successful.

I’m not sure we do a great job when it comes to helping people follow Jesus through this kind of experience. Issues like depression, grief, and mental illness make a lot of church folks uncomfortable. Churches would sometimes prefer fake smiles to real hurts.

Even though this doesn’t feel good right now, I’m grateful. I’m grateful to know this will pass, that my feelings aren’t all there is, that there’s grace and light at the end.

I’m grateful that Jesus doesn’t demand fake smiles.

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

The Invisible Threads Silently Entwining into a Cable

Thursday, January 16th, 2014


“Abstain from all appearance of evil.” 1 Thessalonians 5:22

We do many things which to our own eyes appear innocent and harmless–but which have in them a hidden evil we cannot see.

We indulge ourselves in many things which to us do not appear overtly sinful–but which leave on our soul a touch of blight, a soiling of purity, of which we do not dream.

We permit ourselves many little habits in which we see no danger–but which are silently entwining their invisible threads into a cable which some day shall bind us hand and foot!

We spare ourselves self-denials and sacrifices, thinking there is no reason why we should make them–unaware that we are lowering our standard of holy living and permitting the subtle beginnings of self-indulgence to creep into our hearts.

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God!” 1 Corinthians 10:31

J.R. Miller, “Help for the Day”

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Has This Type of Talk Broken Your Heart?

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Psalm 55:21: “His speech is smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords.”

A batterer, an angry person, an unfaithful spouse, or some selfish person may have been a part of your life or may still be part of your life.

As you look back at your childhood, your nightmare marriage or divorce, or your adult years, you can’t believe the lies you accepted as truth.

You struggle to forgive yourself for trusting a person who didn’t earn your trust. You look in horror at the damage to your children and to yourself.

You remember those months of dating when everything seemed fine. Yes, “His speech [was] smooth as butter” and “his words [were] more soothing than oil.”

However, your home became a war zone, and you felt the drawn swords of his words and actions pierce your heart.

How do you recover?

Start with the most difficult step and that is to forgive the person for your own physical, emotional, and spiritual health. In Ephesians 4:32, the Bible says, “Forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you.” That forgiveness will be between you and God and doesn’t necessarily mean reconciliation.

God also said in Romans 12:19, “It is mine to avenge. I will repay.” For your own good, trust God to keep his word, and don’t try to take God’s place.

Dear God, help me forgive the person who hurt me or my family. Amen.

Application:  What will you do this week to show that you trust God to keep his word?

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

Maybe This Explains Why We Wander

Monday, January 13th, 2014

I’ve always admired poets.

Poetry expresses ideas with an elegance I never quite mastered. I can’t create it, but I appreciate the manner in which a skilled poet weaves words and ideas to create an image.

Recently I ran across this poem by a relatively unknown ninteenth-century poet named Sam Foss. It challenged me; I thought it might challenge you.

THE CALF-PATH

By Sam Walter Foss

One day, through the primeval wood,
A calf walked home, as good calves should;
But made a trail all bent askew,
A crooked trail as all calves do.

Since then two hundred years have fled,
And, I infer, the calf is dead.
But still he left behind his trail,
And thereby hangs my moral tale.

The trail was taken up next day
By a lone dog that passed that way;
And then a wise bell-wether sheep
Pursued the trail o’er vale and steep,
And drew the flock behind him, too,
As good bell-wethers always do.

And from that day, o’er hill and glade,
Through those old woods a path was made;
And many men wound in and out,
And dodged, and turned, and bent about
And uttered words of righteous wrath
Because ‘twas such a crooked path.
But still they followed—do not laugh—
The first migrations of that calf,
And through this winding wood-way stalked,
Because he wobbled when he walked.

This forest path became a lane,
That bent, and turned, and turned again;
This crooked lane became a road,
Where many a poor horse with his load
Toiled on beneath the burning sun,
And traveled some three miles in one.
And thus a century and a half
They trod the footsteps of that calf.

The years passed on in swiftness fleet,
The road became a village street,
And this, before men were aware,
A city’s crowded thoroughfare;
And soon the central street was this
Of a renowned metropolis;
And men two centuries and a half
Trod in the footsteps of that calf.

Each day a hundred thousand rout
Followed the zigzag calf about;
And o’er his crooked journey went
The traffic of a continent.
A hundred thousand men were led
By one calf near three centuries dead.

They followed still his crooked way,
And lost one hundred years a day;
For thus such reverence is lent
To well-established precedent.

A moral lesson this might teach,
Were I ordained and called to preach;
For men are prone to go it blind
Along the calf-paths of the mind,
And work away from sun to sun
To do what other men have done.
They follow in the beaten track,
And out and in, and forth and back,
And still their devious course pursue,
To keep the path that others do.

But how the wise old wood-gods laugh,
Who saw the first primeval calf!
Ah! many things this tale might teach—
But I am not ordained to preach.

I fear a lot of what we do–in work, in relationships, in church–might be calf-paths.

I wonder if I’m simply following what someone else did, when I mean to follow Jesus.

I suspect they’re not the same path.

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