Archive for June, 2014

Where Does Your Praise Go?

Monday, June 30th, 2014

Isaiah 42:8: “I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols.”

“I don’t take God’s glory, do I?” I sat in silence and pondered that question.

God’s answer surprised me. He reminded me that any talents or gifts I have come from him. I needed to acknowledge that more often. I expressed my sorrow and determined to do so. What about you?

Would I pass the test on my next question? “I don’t give your glory to another or your praise to idols, do I, God?” I waited for his answer in silence.

Once again God showed me I did. My admiration for others’ gifts and talents sometimes exceeded my praise for God.

I sensed God ask me a couple of questions: Have you made idols out of other people or activities? Do you think or act as if you can’t survive without them?

Guilty again. I couldn’t deny my sins. I needed to repent and change my ways.

It is easy to make idols out of money, relationships, sports, clothes, food, hobbies, exercise, or self-righteousness—feeling or acting too proud of or self-satisfied with one’s own moral behavior or beliefs to the point of annoying other people.

How will you answer these questions? What are God’s answers to you about them?

Dear God, I’m sorry for the times I’ve taken your glory for myself. Amen.

Application:~ b> What will you do today to praise God instead of idols?

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Copyright by 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 are you waiting for?

Friday, June 27th, 2014

BEGIN

It’s that simple. After all the planning and anticipation, you have to turn the crank the first time.

Without knowing what will happen or where it all will lead, you begin.

I used to think these beginnings should be a big deal, with some sort of grand official sendoff. Simply starting seemed anti-climatic.

Now, though, I sort of like it. I like the notion that you start by starting. It doesn’t require a ceremony or a permit or a “ready-set-go.”

I think we often fail because we wait for a formal beginning that never happens. I know folks who wait patiently for someone to tell them to go on a mission trip because they don’t feel qualified. They wait for others to invite them to help the seniors with their yard work. They see a need and wonder why the leaders don’t address it.

They wait for the starter to fire the pistol, because that’s how a race begins–right?

Except, life’s not a race. Life begins when someone decides it’s time to begin.

What are you waiting for?

Let’s quit waiting and get started.

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

Does Your Heart Have Eyes?

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

“The only way this works is if I see with my heart.”

We were talking about knowing God’s plan when this gem stopped the discussion. I asked him to elaborate.

“I’ve always thought it wasn’t real unless I could evaluate it, touch it, taste, smell, hear, or see it. But now I believe the only things that really matter are those I can see with my heart. That’s the only way the world makes sense.”

As I drove home I thought about people who would scoff at the notion of “seeing with my heart.” I felt sad for them.

A lot of amazing things can be experienced by the five senses, but I agree with my wise friend.

The things that truly matter, the things worth living and dying for, can only be seen with the heart.

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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

How Can You Diffuse Resentment?

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Judges 8:1: “Now the Ephraimites asked Gideon, ‘Why have you treated us like this? Why didn’t you call us when you went to fight Midian?’ And they criticized him sharply.”

Do you sometimes think you can’t win even when you do the right thing? Gideon obeyed God and fought Midian with the 300 soldiers God allowed him. He knew God won the battle for them.

The Ephraimites were jealous of the victory of their fellow Israelites. Their jealousy and pride prevented them from acknowledging the success of Gideon and the 300 soldiers without their help.

Gideon had a choice to make. His first option was to say they were jealous because they didn’t take part in the battle and couldn’t claim the victory.

His second option was to praise the Ephraimites for all they had done. He chose that option. With a humble heart, Gideon said in verses 2-3, “What have I accomplished compared to you? Aren’t the gleanings of Ephraim’s grapes better than the full grape harvest of Abiezer? God gave Oreb and Zeeb, the Midianite leaders, into your hands. What was I able to do compared to you?”

With divine wisdom and humility Gideon didn’t let the situation escalate. The end of verse 3 says, “At this, their resentment against him subsided.”

How will you respond to criticism?

Dear God, please help me answer with your wisdom and humility when people criticize me. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to diffuse resentment as Gideon did?

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Copyright by 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

Does Culture Matter More than Vision?

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

The eve of a big project has me thinking a lot about today’s word-of-the-wee…

CULTURE

I’ve envisioned for months how I want our team to operate. But all the vision in the world won’t matter if we don’t establish the proper culture.

Culture is everything. Culture matters more than vision.

Culture is vision with boots on the ground. It’s how things operate, what people see.

Every church has a great vision, but too frequently people get immersed in petty squabbles, bureaucratic blockades, or political battles. Minor theological differences and turf wars cause major divisions, and the actual culture looks nothing like Jesus’ vision.

I want our team culture to be about sacrificial love and servant leadership, but saying it won’t make it happen. It’s up to Becky and me to model it and put processes in place that foster it—then trust our teammates and God for the result.

I’ve said before that I don’t believe you can manage people effectively. You inspire and lead people—you manage processes. So that’s what we’ll try to do.

We all contribute to the culture in our family, our church, our workplace, our neighborhood. It’s not about our words, it’s about what we do.

This week let’s do something that builds a culture of love and service.

Have a great week.

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 Are THOSE PEOPLE So Difficult?

Friday, June 13th, 2014

communityI used to joke that a school would be a great place to work if it weren’t for all those pesky kids.

Same thing’s true of serving in communities—it would be easy, if it weren’t for all those messed-up people. The problem is that God seems to like using messed-up people to accomplish His work.

Or perhaps that’s the only kind of people He has to choose from.

I’ll confess that lately I’ve been a bit frustrated. No need for details, but I’m clearly looking through a different set of lenses than some folks I want to support. No matter what I try, it seems I encounter a taller, thicker brick wall.

Ever been there?

Here’s some of what I’m trying. Can’t say it’s successful, at least in terms of breaching barriers or reducing frustration levels.

Note to self: It’s not about me! I know what I want to accomplish, but perhaps my goals aren’t others’ goals…or God’s goals.

Talk to God about things like patience, grace, and a bigger perspective.

Check my attitude to make sure this isn’t about me wanting to sit with the popular kids.

Note #2 to self: I’m one of the messed-up people that makes working together so difficult.

BTW—in case you’re wondering if I’ve tried direct communication with the people involved, of course I have. So far, there are several indentations in those brick walls that match the curvature of my bald head.

I’m not seeking magic answers. In fact, the whole point of this post is that there aren’t any of those.

The point is that working in communities is hard, and we need to be prepared for that.

Unless…we find a community without all those messed-up people, like you and 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

What Is Your Way, O LORD?

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Psalm 27:11: “Teach me your way, O LORD; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.”

I still ask God as the psalmist did to teach me his way. As I spend more time at home with God, I ask him because I don’t want good things. I prefer God’s best. What do you want?

Sometimes an oppressor can be the comparison game: “God, sister Susie has a gorgeous body. Why can’t I?” Other times, an oppressor can be carelessness in diet, a lack of exercise, or a lack of sleep. We forget our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. What are your oppressors?

Another oppressor is busyness or distraction. I often look at my schedule by the month and ask God what the straight path is for me. When I sincerely ask, he answers me. I’ve cut activities because of God’s answer. Have you taken your schedule to God for his input?

Recently I changed the steps I would take in planning a women’s conference because God showed me a better way. I felt relieved when I took his straight path. God filled me with his peace. What about you?

Dear God, please teach me your way. Amen.

Application: When will you let God lead you in a straight path?

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 by 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 If You’re Not In The In Crowd?

Monday, June 9th, 2014

wellJesus stopped at a well to speak to a Samaritan woman. (John 4)

He shouldn’t have associated with someone like her. She was a Samaritan, a woman, and woman with a sordid past. No Jewish rabbi would be seen speaking to her.

She was an outcast.

The woman herself recognized the inappropriate nature of the conversation. When Jesus asks for water she replies, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?”

That’s the thing about outcasts—they usually know where they stand. They’re more than willing to marginalize themselves, to blend into the background simply to avoid additional judgment and ridicule. That makes it even easier to ignore them.

Phil will be one of our teammates on FRONT RANGE FREEDOM TOUR ’14. He sent me a note this morning and reminded me that our tour may provide opportunities to interact with folks like the woman at the well. He said we need to slow down and be ready when those opportunities arise.

Phil’s correct. God will arrange divine appointments, but we’ll miss them if we get in a hurry. The folks we need to connect with will be willing to let us pass if we seem too busy. They’re used to that.

We’re talking about people who aren’t the easiest, most convenient folks to hang out with. They’re not the cool kids.

Jesus took a risk. He slowed down, asked one of these folks for a drink, and changed her life. Then He used her to change an entire town.

I think we’re supposed to do the same thing.

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

Who Do You Hang Out With?

Friday, June 6th, 2014

A personal weakness got me thinking about today’s word-of-the-week…

OUTCAST

Jesus hung out with outcasts, right?

We all know it’s true, and we all believe it’s a noble idea—for someone else. But if I’m honest, I don’t want to hang around with the homeless, the developmentally disabled, the poor, the addicts, the abused…

I want to sit at the cool kids’ table, and I’ll bet you do, too.

I’ve noticed lately that most of the high-profile Christian leaders I know seem to share my preference. They associate with a lot of influential folks, and they’re much too busy writing books and “leading leaders” to spend time with the sort of people among whom Jesus spent His life. They’re good at telling us about the need to befriend the disenfranchised—from a comfortable office.

I’d be critical, except I like hanging out with the popular crowd as well.

I can’t share details, but I’ve been challenged recently with an opportunity to hang out with a guy nobody else wants to hang out with. At first I avoided, then I gave in begrudgingly. I started hearing patronizing comments—“It’s so nice of you to spend time with him”—and I recognized how silly and selfish I’d been, and how irritating those remarks sounded.

This guy isn’t a project, and I’m not doing him a favor or performing my duty by spending a few hours with him. He’s offering a gift—I simply stumbled into the opportunity to receive it.

I don’t know how you learn how to want to hang out with people you don’t really want to hang out with. I know it won’t happen by following leaders who are part of the in-crowd.

More and more, I recognize “Follow me” as an invitation but also a difficult question.

Who will I follow?

It’s Monday. I want to follow Jesus, even when He goes where I don’t want to go.

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 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

Where Do You See Jesus?

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Sometimes the simplest questions are the best.

The pastor asked one of those simple questions when Becky and I visited a new church with our FREEDOM TOUR teammate Andrew Thorne last weekend. He began the message by asking, “What would change if you saw Jesus in the person next to you?”

The pastor shared a parable. I won’t get into the entire setup, but the result was statements like these:

If your buddy messed up, you might be quicker to cut him some slack or give him the benefit of the doubt if you saw Jesus in him.

You might not notice the homeless woman’s disheveled appearance if you saw Jesus in her.

You’d likely be less judgmental toward those who see things differently…

You might not be “too busy when someone needs help…

You get the idea.

Jesus said it plainly.

“Then those sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’” (Matthew 25: 37-40 Msg)

He wanted me to see Him in the person next to me.

I don’t know about you, but I can get awfully wrapped up in making faith difficult. I need to be reminded regularly that Jesus is a person, not a collection of complicated ideas. Following Him is really about knowing Him.

It’s a relationship, not graduate school. I can start by seeing Him…in 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 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