Archive for January, 2014

“Them” versus “Us”

Friday, January 10th, 2014

You know who I mean. Them… the folks who aren’t us.

Seems like we’re talking about them a lot lately.

You and I likely know them in our workplace, our neighborhood, perhaps even our church. We probably accept them, perhaps even love them, but…and there’s the key. There’s a “but” attached to them. There’s that thing, that special sin, that makes them, well, them. And when you think of them, that thing is what comes to mind.

But what about us? Aren’t we broken as well?

Of course, but it’s different. You wouldn’t point at people like us and say, “She’s kind of a glutton, but I love her anyway. He’s pretty greedy, but I love him anyway. He’s prideful, she’s envious, he drinks too much, she gossips…but I love them anyway,”

Those folks are just like me. We don’t identify people like us by their sins. If I judged people that way, they’d do the same to me. We’re pretty good at using the log/speck in the eye thing to act humble and pass around a lot of grace to folks like us.

But them? We’ll love them, I guess, because we’re supposed to love everybody. But we’ve got to make sure everyone knows we hate their particular sin. Acceptance and love are conditional—there’s always that scarlet letter that goes with being one of them.

We’re fond of pointing out that Jesus hung out with sinners, but He didn’t ever make a big deal out of it. They were His friends, not broken toys to be repaired. We like to forget…He came to become one of them.

The religious folks were the ones who highlighted and objected to Jesus’ choice of companions. He’d have been happy to have dinner at their house, but they never invited Him.

After all, He was one of “them.”

Now, a question for you. As I describe “them,” which issue, which sin, comes to mind? I’ll bet one pops up, which proves my point. Same thing happens for me.

So… my best intent, going forward, is NO MORE THEM. Them is us.

I’ll fail. I know before I begin about blind spots and deeply-held prejudices that won’t magically disappear.

But for a start, I’ll no longer be okay with “Hate the sin, love the sinner” about any particular issue. It just doesn’t work for me any longer.

I think I’ll just work at, and be grateful for, the “love” part.

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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

What Kind of Life Will You Have in 2014?

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Psalm 36:9: “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.”

As I reflected on 2013, I thought about what 2014 might bring. How about you? I heard several people mention diet and exercise as their New Year’s resolutions.

What about spiritual commitments or choices? Will you read more than one or two Bible verses quickly each day in order to draw from the fountain of life?

The first week of November, I felt the Lord leading me to read ten chapters from the Bible daily. Those chapters encouraged me during my illness and comforted me during the Christmas season. I saw the light of the Lord rather than darkness.

Every thought, word, and action we choose in 2014 will either direct us to the fountain of life or to the snares of darkness, death and destruction.

For 2014, I’m reading five Bible chapters daily. I desire to draw the living water of God’s wisdom from the fountain of life and bask in his light. It won’t always be easy to keep up the reading, but it will be worth it.

The Lord will provide opportunities to share lessons learned from the fountain of life.

What will you see in 2014? What will you share?

Dear God, help me remember you alone are the fountain of life. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to see the Lord’s light?

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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

Who Lights Up Your Life?

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Who are the people who brighten your days?

I’m blessed to know a number of impressive, intelligent, influential folks. I know people who demonstrate wisdom, insight, leadership, discernment, tenacity, compassion, service, and sacrifice. I learn a great deal from their teaching and leading. I certainly couldn’t do what I do without their generosity and support.

But as I reflect on 2013 I’m aware of a much smaller circle of individuals whose mere mental image brightens my day. When I think about them I almost can’t help smiling.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” He invited us to follow Him, to be like a city on a hill, to let our light shine in the darkness. That’s what the folks I’m describing do for me.

I wonder:

Am I that kind of person?

Some of the people in that circle are family, some aren’t. Some are close friends, some aren’t. So what distinguishes them? What characteristics can I strive to emulate if I want to be the kind of person that brightens lives?

They have a clear sense of purpose that permeates every part of their life. Most of their choices and actions, in every area of life, seem intentionally directed toward their central life purpose.

They’re remarkably generous. They’re especially eager to share time and connections.

They have a keen desire for justice. They perceive justice as setting things right rather than getting even or blindly following rules.

They have an enormous capacity for demonstrating grace.

They’re serious about their work, not so serious about themselves.

They’re extremely good, active listeners. They display genuine interest in others’ stories.

They offer a glimpse of the way Jesus loved and accepted people–unconditionally.

I want to be that sort of person. It’s not really a goal or resolution, because you can’t draw a line and say Okay, now I’ve arrived.

But I can be more aware. I can train to do better.

Who brightens your life?

What would you add to my list?

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

Why Hesitate?

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

For years I wanted to stop drinking. I knew if I continued on the same path, that alcohol would kill me.  It was a no brainer. But I stood before the door on the staircase of the 12 Steps and just stared at it. I knew in my heart of hearts what I had to do —  and needed to do —  if I was going to survive. But fear gripped me.

People in recovery have taught me to “Just Do it!” no matter how fearful I am. As I look back over the years, I clearly see that what I feared most was the prospect of making a decision to do something (like standing at the edge of a cliff and trying to decide whether to jump or not).

The struggle is with the decision making process itself. But once I took that first step, actually opened the door  and took some action, the fear simply melted away. So now, instead of hesitating at the precipice, I leap.

This reminds me of the Steven Curtis Chapman song “I’m Diving In.” When I hesitate the fear becomes overwhelming. When I take the plunge, it is exhilarating and liberating.

Are you staring at a staircase that will surely lead to change for the better in your life and doing nothing? Is there a door in your life that is closed and needs to be opened? Are you struggling with the decision to take that first step? Hemming and hawing.  Debating the “what if’s?”

Don’t wait. Open the door! Take the leap!

“I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:9-10 

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Do You Make Commitments Without Strings?

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

Starting a new year seems like a good time to reflect on my commitments.

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’” (Luke 14:25-30)

Have you ever thought about the conditional nature of our culture?

Everything has strings attached. The warranty is limited. Marriage comes with pre-nuptial agreements. Check the return policy carefully. Always read the fine print. It’s all about limiting liability and responsibility, setting the terms, and making sure everyone knows where the lines are.

Everything’s conditional.

Then, here’s Jesus with this radical notion: if you want to follow me and be my disciple, you have to be “all-in.”

This passage is frequently misinterpreted because Jesus uses hyperbole to make a point. He’s not instructing us to hate or reject our earthly families, but He is clearly setting priorities. You can’t follow Him provisionally, after other bases are covered. You can’t set aside a limited part of  life for Him, reserving the rest for other important matters.

You’re either all-in or not. No exceptions, exclusions, or limits. No conditions.

No strings attached.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t claim to be all-in.

Even as He staked this radical claim, He also knew I’d never be able to honor it. No matter how hard I try, I always hold something in reserve. I retain a safety net, a piece I want to control. Even if I want to, I’ll never be 100% all-in.

Sometimes I’m not sure what to make of a situation in which the mark is set impossibly high. I’m tempted to simply give up. If I can’t possibly do what He requires, what’s the use in even trying?

Then I remember grace. God’s standards never change, and if I had to reach them on my own I’d be doomed. But Jesus stepped into my place, did what I never could, and bridged the gap for me. Because He was all-in, my failure and weakness are covered.

In Christ, I’m all-in.

My friend Dick Foth stated it beautifully. When he was asked to explain Christianity in non-church terms, he replied:

Jesus left His place, and came to our place.
He took our place, so He could take us to His place.

Jesus didn’t attach any strings. He gave it all…for you and me.

I want to be all-in. How about you?

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