Archive for February, 2014

Who’s In The Looking Glass?

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

How would you live a life that “magnifies the Lord?”

Our small group looked this week at the passage known as “The Magnificat,” or Mary’s song of praise. In Luke 1:46 (ESV) she says, “My soul magnifies the Lord.”

One of the discussion questions asked how you’d go about living a life that “magnifies the Lord?” One guy offered a pretty good visual.

He talked about a magnifying glass, and how if you turn it one way it focuses on you but if you turn it around the focus shifts away. We thought that was good but then realized you can’t really focus on God, or at least it’s really hard, because you can’t see Him. But you can turn the magnifying glass on other people. We reached this conclusion.

We make life about Jesus when we shift the focus to others and their needs rather than ourselves.

The study took us to this passage in Philippians:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:2-4)

I’ve read those words many times. I’m fairly sure I understand their meaning. But, you see, there’s a problem.

I’m entitled. I’m an American. I have rights. The Constitution says so. Advertising says so. The legal system says so. My hard work and the stuff I’ve accumulated say so.

And along comes Jesus saying I have no rights at all, that none of it belongs to me and it’s all a gift. Is He really claiming I’m supposed to value His principles above those set forth in the Declaration Of Independence, inalienable rights with which I was endowed by my creator?

I think He’s saying exactly that. I think He saying I’m entitled to nothing, that He cares about what’s right, not my rights. I think He’s saying I’m supposed to care about people, not flags and documents and winning.

The problem is, I like my moderately entitled life. I like the relative safety and comfort with which I’m blessed. I’m grateful, and I don’t pretend to deserve any of it, but I also don’t want to lose it. I don’t mind looking first to the interests of others, as long as I get to park my car in the garage every night.

So I nibble away at the edges, a corner here and there, perhaps a bit less selfish than before, trying to turn the magnifying glass a little more toward others. But “not looking to my own interests”?

Hardly.

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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’s With All The Lines?

Monday, February 24th, 2014


Everywhere you look, someone’s drawing a line.

The line identifies us. You’re either on my side, or the wrong side.

You see the lines everywhere. I scrolled through my Facebook feed yesterday and realized I skipped a lot of items because they were about drawing lines.

I’m tired of lines.

Drawing lines is beyond discussing ideas or expressing opinions. I appreciate new information and different perspectives. Problems arise when one creates a rule that condemns and demonizes those who disagree.

Line-drawing is especially popular among Christians. We draw lots of lines around theology, liturgy, worship, and lifestyle.

Almost all of our lines are human creations. They’re unnecessary false dichotomies intended to force personal preferences on others.

I hear the objections already. “Wait a minute, Rich. Don’t you believe in truth?”

Of course I believe in truth. I also know legal experts were always trying to trap Jesus and get Him to draw lines and list the rules. And He stubbornly refused.

He did respond once when lawyers brought a woman caught in adultery. He wrote in the dust, and suggested they proceed with their planned execution—with the caveat that the sinless man among them should cast the first stone.

Instead of drawing a line, He asked that, for once, they abide by the lines they’d drawn for others. We know how that turned out.

Do I believe in truth?

Jesus said, “I am the Truth.”

He’s not a collection of ideas, a list of rules, or a bunch of lines. So I don’t believe any of that stuff.

He said, “Love.” That’s not a line, it’s a circle and an invitation to bring everyone inside.

So I’m looking for places where I draw lines. I’m doing my best to see and erase them.

I invite you to join 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

Which Fear Is Worse?

Friday, February 21st, 2014

Can you imagine doing work that placed your life in danger every day?

Last evening our small group learned about the work of two missionaries who rescue kids from human traffickers. They offer medical care, love, and prayer to women in one of the darkest places on Earth.

Their message of peace and freedom isn’t welcome in this violent place. Those who profit from the horrors that occur in the dingy brothels don’t hesitate to enforce their control by any means necessary. But these folks have forged lasting relationships and made it clear they’re here to stay.

I can’t reveal their names or tell you any details about their work, because to do so would increase the likelihood of local government interference with their work.

Yesterday I wrote about Fearless. It’s tempting to compare, to feel shame, to feel one fear’s more valid than another because one danger’s greater or more real. I think that’s a mistake.

I’m not sure there’s a scoreboard for fear. There’s not much point to ranking danger, as if this one’s a “10” while that’s only a “2.” It’s not quite so simple.

I believe following Jesus requires courage, confronting fear and moving forward to do what’s right. I don’t think that’s easy, and I don’t think I can do it by myself.

That’s why Jesus said, “Take courage. I AM. Don’t be afraid.”

I also believe it’s not my job to compete with someone else’s level of fearless. We all need to follow Jesus where we are.

And those missionaries? I’m praying for them. I hope you will as well.

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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

Fear of Offending Others

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

I got a lesson in fearless this week.

A Facebook friend wrote some courageous thoughts about how the world appears from her perspective. Latter she said she probably lost a few friends because she was so brutally honest and vulnerable.

I reassured her. Real friends don’t walk away because you’re honest. Anyone who deserts you in those circumstances wasn’t really a friend, right? And then I realized how easy, hollow, and empty those words sounded to me.

Why?

If I’m honest, I’m often afraid to say exactly what I think here. I soften the words, talk around the difficult issues, and avoid stating what might be controversial opinions.

I can offer all sorts of excuses. I don’t want to be divisive or become a stumbling block. Those are legitimate concerns, but they’re not the real reasons.

I’m afraid—of offending you, of what you’ll think. I’m afraid of losing you if I say the wrong thing.

I’m not proud of that. God didn’t create us to live in fear. A blog about following Jesus ought to be a place of vulnerability and trust.

But there’s my friend’s harsh experience. And if you don’t believe Christians will attack someone for putting a controversial idea out there, take a look at some of the comments on this post by Don Miller.

I say good for Don and good for my friend. I admire that kind of fearless. I believe Jesus wants us to demonstrate that kind of fearless.

I’m not there yet.

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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 Did You Get Me?

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Romans 5:5: “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

When I would return home after being out, my young son would run up to me and ask, “What did you get me?”

I usually found one item for him. He would smile and thank me.

When I would visit my neighbor’s granddaughter, she would ask me, “What did you get me?”

I usually had something for her too. One day I said, “What did you get me?”

With raised brows and an open mouth, she stood in silence. We both knew the answer to that question.

Jesus returned to his heavenly home, but he didn’t leave us without hope.

God didn’t squeeze out a drop or two of love into our hearts. The Bible says, “God has poured out his love into our hearts.”

With such generosity on God’s part, how can we be disappointed?

Jesus promised to send us the Holy Spirit, and he did. As Christians we have the Holy Spirit living within us.

What does the Holy Spirit get us? According to God’s Word, the Holy Spirit is our teacher and comforter (John 14:26). He brings us power (Acts 1:8) and prays for us according to God’s will (Romans 8:26-27).

As I sometimes say, “With God, every day is Thanksgiving.”

Dear God, thank you for your outpouring of love for me. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to show that you have hope?

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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 Advisory Board 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’s The Most Difficult Thing?

Friday, February 14th, 2014

“I didn’t know it would be this hard.”

He’s a tough guy. Lived on the streets, sold drugs, survived and in many ways thrived in a harsh, violent world.

To me, THAT sounds hard, always looking over your shoulder and sleeping with one eye open, never knowing who to trust, literally fighting your way through every day. I can’t really imagine what that would be like, but it seems like it would be about the most difficult life possible.

He walked away, gave it all up. He put down the weapons, left the addictions, turned away from the violence. He dropped the defenses, the armor, the force field that surrounded him. He decided to try to trust and believe in something bigger than himself.

He decided to follow Jesus.

He didn’t expect easy. But he didn’t expect it to be this hard.

I asked, “What’s so hard?”

“Loving people. Letting them love me.”

Does that surprise you? Who would’ve imagined love would be harder than guns and violence and drugs and death, harder than guarding every move and suspecting every motive?

Love means vulnerability. It means sacrifice. It means commitment to what’s right rather than my rights.

Love means the other guy might win, because it’s not about winning. It means listening and understanding before speaking.

Love means a priority on relationships and processes, not short-term results. It means valuing and practicing gratitude, abundance, and service.

He’s right—love is really hard.

I’m glad we don’t have to do it alone.

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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

Are You a Worrywart?

Monday, February 10th, 2014

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things” (Matthew 6:31-32, NKJV).

Since I was a little girl I’ve been what my mother used to refer to as a “worrywart.” I worried about everything. Somehow I managed to turn it into a virtue—at least, in my own mind. I told myself I cared about what might happen to others, what might happen to myself, what might happen to the world, so didn’t that prove I was a caring person?

No, it didn’t. It proved I didn’t trust God or believe the many promises in His Word. That was understandable before I came to know Him personally, but what was my excuse after that? What is my excuse now, forty years after claiming to make Him my Savior and Lord?

It’s still the same thing, isn’t it? Though I now know Jesus in a close, intimate way, I obviously still have a lot of faith-growing to do. When problems crop up—and they always do—I want to be a person who drops to my knees first, not after I’ve exhausted all other avenues of action. I want to be like the three Hebrew slaves who faced being thrown into the fiery furnace if they didn’t disobey the true God to worship false ones. Their response?

“If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king.But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”

Wow. Faced with an agonizing death, those three young men declared their complete confidence that God was able to deliver them from such a fate—but even if He chose not to, they would remain faithful anyway.

That’s the sort of faith I want, don’t you? I want to be a prayer warrior, not a worrywart. And the only way to get there is to regularly choose to replace worry with prayer. Jesus points out in Matthew 6 that our heavenly Father already knows what we need, so what’s the sense of worrying? The only thing we accomplish by worrying is a defeated attitude. Corrie ten Boom said it this way: “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.”

Let’s make a daily commitment to pray and not worry, and then rejoice as we rise up in the strength of the Lord.

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Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
Not a member of CIR yet? Join us Today! Copyright 2009-2013 Kathi Macias, all rights reserved. Used by permission.
Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored 30 books.
“Beyond Me. Living a You-first Life in a Me-first World”

“Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers of Today”

She also writes novels:

Deliver Me From Evil, (finalist for the Golden Scrolls Novel of the Year Award) and Special Delivery.
No Greater Love, More than Conquerors

The author can be reached at: http://www.kathimacias.com

Afterwards you will understand!

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

“You do not understand now what I am doing–but afterwards you will understand.” John 13:7

We are to walk by faith–not by sight.

We are to trust His heart–when we cannot see His hand!


We are to believe Him–when we cannot understand His mysterious workings!

The Lord is now working in nature, providence, and grace–and He does many things which we do not understand at present. But when His work is complete, and it lies stretched out before us in the light of eternity–we shall then . . .

comprehend His design,
admire His wisdom, and
adore His divine workings!

Beloved, is God cleansing you by fiery trials, or causing you to pass through deep waters? Are you at a loss to know what His design is, or where the present affliction will end?

Be still. Wait His time.

There is a divine working time–which is the present;
and there is a divine revealing time–which is to come.

The wisest Christians are often in the dark now–but the simplest Christians will see all things clearly by and by.

A little more patience, a little more faith–and all will end well.

“We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God, and who are called according to His purpose!” Romans 8:2

~ James Smith

Lies My Enemy Tells Me

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

Today I’m challenging the guys in my workshop at Harvest Farm.

We’re going to talk about some of the lies the enemy uses to keep us in darkness.

It’s a long list. I’ll propose five of my favorites. Perhaps you can add you own.

All of your pain is pointless.

You’ll never be good enough.

You’re all alone.

The worst that can happen…will happen.

It’s hopeless.

I’ve been there. Believe those lies, and the enemy celebrates. You’re stuck.

We won’t stop there, because Jesus didn’t. We’ll look in John’s gospel at the “I AM” statements that refute each lie and point the way to light.

Have you believed any of the lies in my list? Any other “favorites” you’d add?

Note: There is a good article –  5 steps to escape the trap of limiting beliefs

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