Archive for April, 2014

“Servant Leader” is More than a Catchy Phrase

Monday, April 14th, 2014

I’ve noticed something lately that prompts today’s word-of-the-week…

TIME


I notice two distinct groups of leaders with a large gap between them.

In one group I find people who acknowledge others mostly when they need something from them. They talk about servant leadership, but careful observation reveals that they’re not spending much time with anyone who’s not doing something for them or feeding their agenda in some manner.

They’re insulated by an inner circle whose central function seems to be to guard their time.

Folks in the other group spend a lot of time asking, “What can I do for you?” They answer their own phones more often. They return email and phone calls.

They’re far less likely to be shielded by an assistant with an ironclad schedule and a possible opening in a few weeks.

These groups of leaders aren’t distinguished by the size or success of their organizations. Some in the second group lead large, complex teams, while some in the first group lead relatively small teams. Both groups include leaders from business, non-profit, ministry, and civic organizations.

The difference, from what I can tell, is the way these people spend or invest their time.

The first group regards time with a scarcity mentality. They hoard it as though it can only be shared with special, important people.

Folks in the second group regard time with an abundance mentality. They don’t waste it, but they’re not afraid to spend it, either. And they’re certainly not handing it out only to those who “deserve” it.

They almost lavish time on others as though it was love.

It’s not my place to tell others how to manage their time. But this is a good reminder for me, because I want to be in the second group.

I don’t want to be the guy who has time only for those who can do something for me in return.

It’s Monday. Might be a good day to remember that “servant leader” is more than a catchy phrase.

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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

Can Our Rights Be Wrong?

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

bill of rights“I have the right to ______.”

You fill in the blank—the possibilities are nearly endless. We’re all about defending and demanding our rights.

A few days ago I read an article about human trafficking in which the author cited compelling data linking prostitution, pornography, and the meteoric increase in internet trafficking of minors. In a comment, one guy angrily defended his constitutional right to view pornography, affirmed by THE SUPREME COURT! (his caps.) He went on to express his anger at “self-righteous Christians” trying to take away his right to do whatever he wanted in his private life.

Personally, I’ve no interest in limiting anyone’s rights. Passing a law might make us feel better, but it’s actually an extremely ineffective way to change “moral” behavior. Want examples?

  • Prostitution is illegal in every state. Does anyone believe those laws stop paid sexual activity or its horrible side effects
  • Slavery and human trafficking are illegal in every country. Nearly 30 million people live in modern-day slavery, and human trafficking is the second largest worldwide organized crime activity (behind drugs).
  • Illegal street drugs proliferate in every community despite massive law enforcement campaigns and billions of dollars wasted on a virtual revolving door of incarceration involving a huge portion of our population.

Jesus refused to deploy power or fear to control behavior. Paul frequently deferred his rights as a Roman citizen, accepting illegal beatings and imprisonment for the sake of the gospel. He wasn’t interested in his rights, but in God’s notion of what’s right.

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christand be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. (Philippians 3:7-9)

Just wondering how different things would look if every follower of Jesus surrendered our “right” to judge those who disagree. What if we gave up our right to fight back, to shout for our political beliefs, to edit the truth to fit our version of reality?

What if knowing Jesus mattered more than getting our way? What if loving our enemies was really more important than winning? Would things look any different?

Do you think we could change the world if justice—setting things right, from God’s perspective—was more important to us than our rights?

Jesus gave His life for that principle.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:5-8)

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

One Pesky Word Changes A Lot

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

mt 6.33I used to think preachers were bragging a little when they talked about Greek or Hebrew translation. Frankly,I figured it was one way of quashing disagreement and showing who’s really the expert.

But as I learn, I’m amazed at how frequently a careful look at original words reveals a different understanding of an important point in scripture.

A couple of weeks ago I ran across a surprising (to me) assertion in a sermon. The preacher said, “Biblically, there’s no distinction between righteousness and justice.”

I thought that was a rather bold statement. His claim rested on a translation issue. Turns out there’s one Old Testament word—sadaq—and one New Testament Greek word—Dikaios­for righteousness and justice. So while we may consider them as two separate notions, the writers of scripture didn’t.

Justice is righteousness. Righteousness is justice.

Does that seem awkward to you? It did to me.

I think this changes a lot, but one thing it changes is: you can’t define these words differently. Whatever one means, the other means.

What’s your definition?

To me, justice means setting things right. Does that fit with righteousness?

Jesus said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

So, seek first his kingdom and his justice…how does that change your understanding of this familiar verse—or does it?

This was an eye-opening notion for me. I’m still digesting.  More next time.

Your thoughts?

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

Something Beyond Worry

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Too much “tomorrow” brings us today’s word-of-the-week…

Spring’s coming. Easter’s in a few weeks. Lots of stuff to get ready for the bike tour in three months. Goals, plans, all sorts of interesting, fun stuff on the horizon.

What about NOW?

Am I the only one who gets so involved in what’s coming that I tend to forget about savoring what’s in front of me?

I can’t imagine floating through life with no objectives. It’s good to aim at worthy targets and have some idea where we’re trying to go.

But—I think there’s something to balance, and I notice lately that I’m focused maybe a bit too much on what’s down the road. Spring’s a season for that, so maybe you’re there as well.

Jesus said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34) Perhaps He was talking about something beyond worry. Perhaps He was talking about focus, concern, or attention. Maybe He was suggesting we keep our heart centered a bit more on the day before us.

Today’s Monday. It might be good to start the week with a commitment to now, to make sure this week doesn’t pass without notice. God’s got something remarkable in mind for the next few days. Let’s not miss it.

Have a great week.

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

Is there anything we can do to keep our feet from slipping?

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong,
Because the LORD is the one who holds his hand.
Psalm 37:24

I love this verse; it is so encouraging; it settles my heart into a deep peace with the Lord. When we fall we are not hurled headlong… but is there anything we can do to keep our feet from even slipping? Let’s study Psalm 37 for an answer.

Open you Bible to explore Psalm 37, a spiritual warfare psalm from start to finish. As you read, put it into spiritual context by seeing the “enemy,” the “wicked,” and “evildoers” as not people, but as forces of Darkness, Satan and his demons. See the “land” as territory in your heart. Recognize that the battle is for that territory in your heart.

“Don’t fret” is a repeated theme. “Fret” (or “worry” in the NLT) is charah in the Hebrew, and it means “to blaze up with anger or jealousy, to burn, to be incensed.” Remember our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Eph 6:12). In verses 1and 2 of Psalm 37 we are commanded not to waste our time and energy blazing up with anger, for their time is short (Rev 12:12).

So what do we do with our energy instead of being incensed? Go on to verses 3 through 6 for the answer… and I’ll let you continue prayerfully through Psalm 37 from there. Let me know what God shows you through this psalm – and if there is anything we can do to keep our feet from slipping.

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~ * ~

Celeste Li, M. D. is the author of
Triumph Over Suffering: A Spiritual Guide To Conquering Adversity
She is active member of Christ Fellowship Church in Palm Beach Gardens Florida.
Celeste teaches a course in Triumph Over Suffering and serves in Christ Fellowship’s Ministry for the Suffering.

Whose Plan are You Following?

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

,I think sometimes we forget that only the Potter knows how to fashion us to suit His purposes. We think we know our purposes here on this earth, and what we need to fulfill them. But the Lord says in Jeremiah “I know the plans I have for you” (emphasis on the “I”) (Jer 29:11).

Or maybe we get some great ideas and plans, run off to implement them, and then ask God to bless them. But Corinthians says that the thoughts of the wise are futile (1 Cor 3:20).

Or perhaps God has revealed some of His plans for us, and we think we know how to bring them to fruition. But He says in Isaiah His ways are higher than our ways (Isa 55:9).

I think that we rarely know what God is up to. Only He knows the intimate details of the plans, the step by step journey that He has planned for us. Only He knows the upcoming battles we will face. Only He knows the current state of our heart, and His desired state of our heart. Only He knows what equipping will be required.

He loves us so much, He is so fiercely protective of us, He will not send us into battle unprepared. The battle is the Lord’s, and His plan is victory. Our equipping is critical if we want to partner with Him in victory.

Does it frustrate you, or bring you comfort, that God is the only omniscient One who knows how to shape us to fit the plan?

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~ * ~

Celeste Li, M. D. is the author of
Triumph Over Suffering: A Spiritual Guide To Conquering Adversity
She is active member of Christ Fellowship Church in Palm Beach Gardens Florida.
Celeste teaches a course in Triumph Over Suffering and serves in Christ Fellowship’s Ministry for the Suffering.

“Follow me.” — “Okay, where are we going?”

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

“Follow me.”

That’s the invitation. And it’s natural to ask, “Okay, where are we going?”

I think I’ve decided it’s the wrong question.

When Jesus called His disciples, He didn’t talk about where they’d go or what they’d do. He simply invited them to travel with Him.

I think it’s not about destination or activity or what we accomplish. I think it might be more about making sure we travel with Jesus and get to know Him.

I tend to get in trouble when I decide a particular result is “God’s plan.” Once I make that determination, I have to make it happen, no matter what, because it’s God’s plan. And obviously Jesus is going to help me–why wouldn’t He? It’s what God wants.

You see the problem, right? Suddenly it’s not clear who’s following whom. Maybe I’m expecting Jesus to serve me, support my agenda, and carry my stuff because I’m doing God’s work!

Perhaps a better way is deciding to travel with Jesus and listen a lot, no matter what. I’ll do what I’m good at and use my gifts to serve others, but I’ll trust Him for the results.

It comes down to one of my favorite questions: Do I really believe what I believe?

Do I really trust God? Is knowing Jesus really my highest priority? Am I truly willing to surrender the illusion of control? Do I seek His kingdom, or do I seek my rights, my political agenda, my version of God’s will?

This might be a good week to accept Jesus’ invitation to travel together and get to know Him.

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