Archive for May, 2014

What’s Your Image Of Jesus?

Friday, May 30th, 2014

jesusWhat do you picture when you think about Jesus?

Seriously, what just popped into your head?

Me? I actually think about this quite a bit. I just picture walking along a quiet path together. Yeah, walking—no wheelchair. Just walking, and sometimes there’s talking but it’s okay if it’s quiet. It’s the being there together that matters.

There are smiles and laughter. And He wants to walk slowly and stop and look at stuff I don’t even notice.

I know this—I NEVER imagine talking theology, the kind of stuff Christians argue about and get divided about. I imagine questions, but they’re always really basic, stuff like, “What was it like for you when I fell off the roof?”

Mostly I imagine He likes hanging out with me. Of course He loves me—that’s part of the job description, right? But knowing, believing, He likes me, was a big step.

I suppose my internal picture will offend someone—not religious enough or reverent enough or whatever. Sorry for that. My point wasn’t so much to share my notion as to prompt you to consider your own.

That was part of the point, after all, the WORD made flesh so we could identify a bit better. So, back to the original question.

What do you picture when you think about Jesus?

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Copyright 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 You Did It Anyway?

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Ever wonder what might happen if you didn’t wait for someone with authority to tell you it’s okay?

Seems like a lot of folks say, “I’d like to do something like that, but _____ won’t approve it.” Fill in the blank with my church, my boss, my family, whatever.

It’s a convenient excuse for failure, if you accept it. Or you can go ahead and do it, if you really believe it’s what God’s called you to do. You’ll likely stir things up a bit, cause some commotion, make the bureaucrats uncomfortable.

If you’ve thought it through, folks usually won’t stop you. In fact, I think there are a bunch of folks waiting to follow the guy who’s crazy enough to make a move.

I think following Jesus is sort of like that. We’ve turned it into this make-believe, predictable, buttoned-up, neatly organized suburban neighborhood where everybody’s supposed to color inside the lines.

Except the One we claim to follow pretty much broke all the rules. He didn’t see much need to ask permission from the religious leaders before doing His Father’s work.

Jesus made a bit of a mess in the neat world the religious rulers created for themselves.

What do you think things would look like if we followed His example?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog here
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Copyright 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 Do We Remember?

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

stones jordanYesterday I wrote about memorials.

I referenced a special memorial, a pile of stones God told the people to leave at the place they entered the Promised Land.

“In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”

WHY?

Why are memorials so important? Why do we need to remember?

We could create a list, but today I’m focused on one intended purpose of memorials.

Memorials focus our attention.

When Israel’s children heard the story behind the alter of stones, their attention would turn to God and His faithfulness. And, hopefully, they’s be called back to lives of obedience, worship, and service.

On Memorial Day, it’s important to remember. But if all we do is get sentimental before we toss another burger on the grill, perhaps we’ve missed the point.

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Dixon
Copyright 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

Do You Think Old Stuff is Irrelevant?

Monday, May 26th, 2014

The holiday sparks today’s word-of-the-week…

MEMORIAL

MondayToday’s Memorial Day in the U.S.

It’s a day for remembering, but memorials are also about traditions, markers, and monuments. Many of us will travel today to special places, either physically or in spirit, to pay our respects and remember loved ones.

In Joshua 4, God told Joshua to create a special memorial to commemorate His people’s entry into the Promised Land. After the work was finished, Joshua gave this command.

“In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”

It’s easy to forget. When life gets busy and NOW seems so pressing, old stuff can seem, well, old and irrelevant. It’s tempting to move forward and pretend the old stuff doesn’t matter.

That’s a mistake. Just like that alter of stones, we need to remember those who came before. Before we fire up the grill we need to stop and honor their sacrifices, their wisdom, and their hard work.

Happy Memorial Day!

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Dixon
Copyright 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 Discipline of Thinking About Our Thoughts

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

wisdom thinking manThis passage came up in our small group this week.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9)

I’ve read it many times, but somehow that last sentence slipped past  me. I was struck by the notion that capturing my thoughts might be one way of bringing peace into my daily life.

It’s been on my mind a lot this week, a good deal more than usual. What do I think about? Will I practice and refine the discipline of thinking about my thoughts?

I’ve reached one conclusion…it’s difficult, much more difficult than I realized.

Seems so simple. Think about good stuff, and my life will become more peaceful. Who wouldn’t want that?

I do. But I’m clearly going to have to begin with baby steps. Maybe I can capture one crummy thought, turn it to something excellent, and find a bit of peace.

Hey, it’s a start. Wanna join me?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
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Copyright 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

This Is What A Gift Looks Like

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

gift in open handsThis weekend I watched a man receive a gift.

The gift had a good deal of sentimental, emotional value to the giver. He’d held it as a reminder of a special time and place. It was cared for and kept safe for a very long time.

The gift meant something quite different to the man who received it. It meant freedom, trust, a chance to begin a new chapter. It was something the man couldn’t have bought for himself.

These two men had never met until the morning this gift changed hands. The giver handed his prized item to a total stranger, no strings attached. He doesn’t know if it’ll be treated well or trashed.

That’s true generosity. No conditions. Risk. Sacrifice.

I felt like I witnessed a holy moment, something we see all too rarely in our conditional, what’s-in-it-for-me culture. A man gave, from his heart, something he valued to another man who needed it, and asked nothing in return.

I’m pretty sure I felt Jesus smile.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
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Copyright 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

Do You Feel Your Efforts are Meaningless?

Monday, May 19th, 2014

Today we’re revisiting an odd word-of-the-week …

Sisyphus

Do you know the story of Sisyphus? He’s a character from Greek mythology who offended the gods. As punishment, Sisyphus was ordered to push a rock up a hill. Each time he reached the top, the rock rolled to the bottom. He was condemned to an eternity of pushing the same rock up the same hill. Over and over, up and down—forever.

Does your life ever feel like that?

Sisyphus was condemned to an eternity of struggle without meaning.

Seems to me that the work wasn’t the problem. The real punishment was a complete lack of any sense of purpose.

One of my favorite characterizations of modern, meaningless life comes from my friend Jeff Lucas.

We go to work to get the money to buy the food to get the strength to go to work …

God didn’t promise you and me a life of ease and comfort. He does promise that kingdom work isn’t meaningless. He’ll never ask us to roll a useless rock up a pointless hill. Romans 8:28 assures us that He’s always working for good, even when we can’t see it.

Let’s not live a life of Sisyphus. Let’s not waste the incredible gift of each moment, the new beginning God gives us.

Let’s make sure our moments mean something, that they’re filled with relationship and service and grace. In the words of Mother Teresa:

We cannot all do great things. But we can all do small things with great love.

I’m trying to make sure my efforts this week mean something. How about you?

Have a great week.

How Can You Miss Church?

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

puzzleWords matter.

We might dismiss them as “just semantics,” but often they’re not. We choose words that consciously or unconsciously express how and what we think.

Last time I told you What I Learned By Missing Church. As I considered the responses I realized that my own title revealed something odd about my internal thoughts.

Do you see it?

What does it mean to “miss church”? Apparently, I equate “church” with “sitting in an organized, weekly worship service.” I didn’t do that, so in my mind I “missed church.”

Of course, I know better. I’ll bet you do as well. We know church isn’t a building, or a special room, where God lives so we can visit Him once a week. We know—but knowing isn’t doing. If “going to church” reveals a heart that’s narrowed “being part of a community” to “weekly worship service attendance,” I need to do some soul searching.

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m NOT saying we shouldn’t attend weekly worship, listen to teaching, etc. All of that’s an essential piece of what church is about.

But it’s only one piece of an infinite puzzle. This little episode reminds me to examine my words and what they reveal about my heart. I don’t want to go to church.

I’d rather do church.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
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Copyright 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 I Learned By Missing Church

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

timberlineOur big church meets in a big building.

I suppose there are goods and bads to that, but one thing about a big church is there’s a lot happening in the building during each service. This weekend I met with some people during parts of the services and had the opportunity to observe some of what others were doing.

A couple of guys watched the sermon on closed circuit TV. They dug through their bibles and scribbled notes furiously. Between services they engaged in an animated discussion. I really wanted to move closer and eavesdrop, but that seemed a bit inappropriate in church. They were in the same spot, comparing notes and pointing to their bibles, when the next service started.

Several folks sat in comfortable chairs with coffee and books. Maybe they waited for kids, perhaps they just liked the music or the environment. A number of groups gathered around tables, some to chat and some for more in-depth discussion.

A few people sat alone. You can usually see the difference between solitude and alone. I stopped and talked to a couple of these folks, and it was good to see others do the same. In a big church, the alone people can disappear in a crowd.

I kind of sensed that church was happening around the worship service. A lot of people hustle in, take their seats, do the service, and then head off to lunch or whatever. I’m guilty of that sometimes. But maybe we miss something.

There’s something to just hanging out, taking a little time, seeing what’s going on and who might want to talk. This weekend got me wondering how much we miss by always having an agenda. I wonder how many people think we don’t have time for them because, well, we don’t have time for them.

Maybe God doesn’t just live inside the worship service. It sure seemed like He was hanging out in other parts of the building, too.

Maybe church is more than the church service.

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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

Whose Burdens Will You Carry?

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Galatians 6:2: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

“Yvonne, I’ve already told my husband I’m going to spend Mother’s Day with you,” my friend said a few weeks ago.

Since my mother and my only child passed away within weeks of each other almost five years ago, Mother’s Day doesn’t mean cards, gifts, calls, or visits. It usually means tears and longing to see them again.

“Do you want to go to the beach with me and stay there overnight?” I asked my friend.

She said she did. I felt relieved that my friend wanted to carry that burden with me. I thanked God that he gave her the desire to spend Mother’s Day with me.

We used the Jacuzzi and the sauna, enjoyed walks on the beach, and collected shells. She bought two hot pink T-shirts, and I purchased a print jacket on sale.

God gave us beautiful weather. When it rained for a brief period on Saturday, we rested. We talked, laughed, and discussed our Bible study. On Sunday we ate a delicious Mother’s Day buffet and visited two lighthouses.

I’m glad I asked my friend to go with me to the beach, that she listened to God’s prompting, and went with me.

Dear God, I have burdens you never meant for me to carry alone. I appreciate how you provide someone to help me. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to help carry someone’s burden and fulfill the law of Christ?

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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