Archive for April, 2014

How Close to Perfect Are You?

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

James 3:2: “We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.”


Saturday afternoon, I told a friend I’d learned the hard way not to say anything about anybody.

About three or four hours later, I forgot my lesson and told a different friend something about another person. Can you identify with me?

I was upset with myself and scolded myself. Yvonne, you spoke too soon. You didn’t learn the lesson as well as you thought you had. Will you ever learn?

I stumbled all right. In that moment, I knew for sure I wasn’t a perfect person. I wasn’t able to keep my whole body in check. I wanted to but hadn’t succeeded at least not on Saturday evening.

After I confessed my sin to God, I asked for his forgiveness. Then I went to the person to whom I spoke my criticism of another. I acknowledged my wrongdoing. I asked for her forgiveness too, and she readily gave it to me.

With God’s forgiveness and my friend’s forgiveness, I could start over.

What about you? What do you do when you stumble?

Dear God, I stumbled again. Please help me be more like Jesus Christ. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to keep your whole body in check?

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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 You Do When Opposition Comes?

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Nehemiah 4:14: “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”

I confess this devotion is a day late because I gave in to an attack of the enemy on Monday. I believed his lies that I was too tired, had too much work to do before my speaking events this week, and anyway no one reads my devotions.

The devil hates us and uses people to mock us, to threaten us or to block our rebuilding or ministry. Sometimes he uses our weaknesses to attack us.

Nehemiah faced the ridicule and the threats of Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the men of Ashdod. Sometimes, we, like the people in Judah in verse 10, feel our strength diminish, but we don’t give up.

We have their example to offer us hope. “Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked” (verses 17-18).

They prepared themselves in case of attack. Nehemiah reminded them who the Lord is and told them to fight for their families and their homes.

When we feel weary from the attacks of Satan who is ready to devour us, we can put on the armor of God. We can do as Nehemiah and the others did and keep our armor on day and night.

Dear God, help me fight for my family, my home, and your will for me. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to ward off opposition?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
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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

We’re supposed to love everyone. “Yes, but…”

Friday, April 25th, 2014

“We’re supposed to love everyone, aren’t we?”

“Yes, but…”

“I don’t think we can add a ‘but…’.”

As I understand it, the conversation pretty much died at that point.

When it comes to stuff like love, grace, and forgiveness, there’s no such thing as a “but…” And if you’re like me, that’s tough to get your heart around.

I don’t want the cold-hearted serial child molester to receive salvation and have his sins wiped away when he accepts Jesus. I really don’t want to love the person unconditionally who does things or holds views with which I strongly disagree.

Every bit of logic screams that some cases demand a “but…”

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:32-36)

Jesus proposed a different sort of logic, one in which there’s no such thing as “love, but….”

What would happen if we all found places where we put strings on love and worked to remove them?

No more “love, but..” Just 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

Which Group Would Jesus Join?

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Ever wonder which group Jesus would join?

We take for granted that He’d be part of our group, right? He’d obviously share my theology, my politics, my national pride, and so on. It’s obvious because, well, I’m right.

I’m being sarcastic, sort of. Driving home from a meeting yesterday I probably passed twenty churches and for some reason wondered which one Jesus would join if He lived in Fort Collins.

Would He side with the Progressives or the Evangelicals? Would He join the Catholics or Protestants, the Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, or Lutherans? Would He be non-denominational?

Do we even care?

I’m serious. When we put on that WWJD wristband, do we really want to be guided by what Jesus might do?

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30 The Message)

Jesus didn’t care much for religion, the human response to God’s revelation. Religion is the groups and labels and big, fancy buildings. It’s the Pharisees He confronted so frequently. Religion is the rules and all the stuff you can’t do, and it’s mostly about fear, power, and control.

Religion has little to do with following Jesus, so He said, “Come to me. Get away with me.” He was talking about getting away from religion.

Which group would Jesus join? I think He’s saying the people matter more to Him than the labels. I think He’s saying He doesn’t care much about groups and their petty differences, which makes me wonder if they ought to matter so much to us. I think He’s saying we ought to be one community where everyone’s safe but nobody’s complacent.

Consider for a moment the possibility that Jesus might join that group down the street, the one with whom you disagree or perhaps don’t even like very much. If He actually showed up aligned with the folks you’re absolutely certain are wrong wrong wrong, would your opinions change?

We’ve all got some pretty deeply-held political, patriotic, and religious convictions. If Jesus showed up in the wrong group, those convictions might be challenged. I wonder how easily we’d release them.

Kinda makes you wonder who—or what— we’re really following.

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 Power of His Resurrection

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014
The fact that Jesus Christ rose again from the dead tells us something very important: our God is in the resurrection business. The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is declared by St. Paul to be the assurance of our own resurrection on God’s appointed day (1 Cor. 15:12-20).

 The goal of our lives therefore should be to know Christ and “the power of his resurrection” (Phil 3:10). This  means that we cannot lead defeated lives, nor can we evade our responsibilities under God to bring every area of life and thought into captivity to Jesus Christ.

 The power of His resurrection begins here and now in our lives, in our regeneration, and in our service to Him. It means that we have a duty to exercise godly dominion in the Lord’s name. Jesus Christ, in His Great Commission, orders us to disciple all nations, teaching them His total Word and bringing men and nations under His dominion. Christ is to be thought of as a very present king, for Paul says He “is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:15, emphasis added).

 The King’s Word must have priority in our lives, and we must work to advance His realm and rule.

 We are too much impressed and governed by the powers of this world. Things will change rapidly when we begin to act in terms of the power of His resurrection.

by R. J. Rushdoony  Taken from A Word in Season, Vol. 4, p. 21

~ * ~
Reprinted by permission of the Chalcedon Foundation.
Copyright by the Chalcedon Foundation. All rights reserved.

It’s Monday, but it’s not the same. Everything’s changed.

Monday, April 21st, 2014

Darkness. Death. Decay.

Imagine the absolute silence, the dampness, the lifeless body on a cold stone slab.

Nobody knows how it happened. For three days the tomb contained only death, and then…lifeless lungs breathed, a dead heart beat.

Picture it. Snap your fingers. One instant, death. The next, life. And in that single moment, everything changed.

A moment, a breath, a heartbeat—the center of history, before and after.

Darkness and light.

Death and life.

It’s Monday, but it’s not the same. Everything’s changed.

Have a great 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!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 Easter Really About?

Friday, April 18th, 2014

What’s your personal enduring image of the whole Easter story?

Of course the cross and resurrection reside at the center of history, but for me a smaller, more intimate moment captures the essence of what Jesus was trying to tell me.

In the midst of the chaos and turmoil and fear, He stopped to wash His disciples’ feet.

It’s difficult for us to get our heads around the significance of foot-washing in first-century cultural context. Men walked unsanitary streets teeming with beggars, diseased folks, and livestock. Foot-washing was a dirty, stinky task, usually consigned to the lowest of servants.

This was the world-famous neurosurgeon performing routine physicals in a remote village, the race track CEO mucking horse stalls, the country club president digging in the mud to repair sprinkler lines—not as a photo op but as a routine act of generosity and service.

My friend Bob Goff was in Orlando to speak at a conference. When it was time to leave, the organizers arranged a car service to drive him to the airport. During the trip he struck up a conversation and learned the driver was two weeks from retirement. Now Bob’s a bit mischievous, and he had a “Bob thought.”

“Have you ever ridden in the back of this limousine?”

“No, sir.”

“Pull over.”

“I can’t, sir. I’ll get in trouble.”

“Pull over! What are they gonna do, fire you?” Bob thinks like that.

So they changed places. Bob took the man’s limo driver cap and opened the back door for him. The driver settled into the seat he’d never occupied in all those years. And Bob drove him to the airport.

I don’t need to do big stuff to capture this image of Easter. Maybe it’s as simple as letting go of the notion that I’m too good to drive so someone else can relax.

You too?

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (John 13:12-17)

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

Why you’re here

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

We attended a friend’s photography exhibition Friday evening.

Rebecca’s mostlyself-taught—started snapping photos, enjoyed the results, bought better equipment, discovered she has a special eye, and developed her craft. Then she had the guts to share her art with the world. You should check out some of her stuff.

Here’s the thing—building, developing, and sharing are hard. You don’t know how it’s going to turn out, whether people will like it.

It’s much easier to be a critic, to point out the flaws in someone else’s creation. Less work, less risk, less buy-in. Critics tear down and destroy.

Jesus was the artist, the Creator, that guy who made beautiful work where others saw piles of junk. And I think He wants us to be apprentices. He wants to share His secrets, form relationships, and invest in our work.

Art doesn’t have to be photography or painting or music. I worked with teachers, carpenters, and bricklayers who were all artists. I know business leaders who create and serve every day.

What is it that you’re good at, that you love, that serves others? Perhaps that’s what you were made to do. And perhaps whatever you were made to do is your art. And perhaps that’s part of why you’re here, because we need your art.

It’s Monday. What would happen this week if you had the courage to do a whole bunch of your art and share it with the world?

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

What If Scripture Is A Participation Sport?

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

god talkHave you ever questioned an expert’s version of “what the bible says”?

Yesterday I compared church to a football game: a lot of people who desperately need exercise sit around and watch a small group of people who desperately need rest.

We’re especially in that mode when it comes to interpreting scripture. We often accept without question or research some expert’s spoon-fed scripture interpretation.

I decided a while ago to be responsible for my own theology. For me, here’s what that means.

I know several pastors from a variety of backgrounds. They all love Jesus, and if they gathered in a room they’d agree on many theological principles: the trinity, we’re saved by grace through faith in Jesus, we’re called to love our neighbor, and lots of other stuff.

For me, those are the core principles, those on which virtually all followers of Jesus concur. They’re the “majors,” the principles that define what it means to follow Jesus.

My friends would also disagree on some issues. Honest, prayerful scholarship can lead people of faith and good will to different conclusions on certain matters. When I’ve discussed these points, my friends frequently (not always) say things like “here’s the best conclusion I can reach right now” or “this is how it seems to me at this point.”

To me these are important but less essential issues. They’re the “minors.” They do not in any way separate me from other followers of Jesus. And since my pastor friends disagree, it’s my job to either let these issues go or figure out where I stand.

I want to major in the majors and minor in the minors. In the words of Augustine:

In the essentials, unity.
In the non-essentials, liberty.
In all things, charity.

You and I can disagree about a particular issue, even if we both believe the bible and love Jesus. In the context of a relationship we can discuss and learn without arguing, but no positive purpose is served by name-calling or labeling. Disagreement doesn’t make either of us wrong.

We’ve seen recently (in the World Vision fiasco) the devastation and division that results when one side of an issue is labeled “bible-believing.” Whenever you see two people who seem to love Jesus and hold different views, I challenge you to transform scripture interpretation into a participation sport.

Instead of accepting what you’ve always heard, do some research on other perspectives. Don’t read opinions, but find responsible scholarship that looks at biblical interpretation at deeper levels. Remember that scripture is God-inspired, but understanding scripture is an imperfect human activity. Beware of anyone—not named Jesus—who claims to have THE answer.

Occasionally Jesus’ answers are kind of surprising, but you almost always have to ask questions first.

Oh, and you have to listen.

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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

Decisions! Decisions!

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Psalm 143:8b: “Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.”

Do you ever feel unable to make a decision? I do. If I shop for clothes, I want them to be on sale, made well, washable, no iron, and in red, hot pink, or royal blue.

When it comes to electronics, I’ll talk to dozens of people before I make a decision. I’ll wait months even two or three years before I decide.

When I bought my laptop, I waited and waited.

Finally, I did what I should have done first. I prayed and asked God to “show me the way I should go.”

I also asked God to have that laptop on sale. I told him I wouldn’t buy it unless it was on sale. Then I stopped thinking about the laptop.

About seven months later, I went to the pharmacy near an electronics store. Since I was already there, I walked inside the store.

I heard an announcement over the intercom that the Apple laptops were on sale, and they had only four left.

As I raced to the computer department, I thanked God for the sale. I bought my laptop and thanked God again.

Sometimes God says, “No.” Sometimes he says, “Yes.” Other times he says, “Wait.”

 Dear God, show me the way I should go. Amen.

 Application: In what decision will you wait to hear from God?

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