Archive for August, 2014

What Would You Do?

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

What_Would_You_Do_logoQUESTION: How much grace?

ANSWER: Grace is boundless and unmerited.

QUESTION: Who do you forgive?

ANSWER: Everyone.

Yeah, I know it’s not that simple—except, it really is. Not easy, for sure, but those are the principles to which we’re called.

So now I have a real-world question for you to ponder.

How do we act out those principles in the face of injustice?

Injustice doesn’t have to be human trafficking or murder. Let’s boil it down to something we all encounter. How do we act out grace and forgiveness when we encounter someone being bullied?

When I was a kid, the standard advice was Punch a bully in the nose. Now we hear Stand Your Ground.

What Would You Do?

The following situation isn’t truly hypothetical. It’s a sanitized compilation of some actual situations I’ve faced.

Suppose a guy in a wheelchair visited a public spot that, by its nature, was minimally accessible. And imagine that the guy and his companions were subjected to continual rude, insensitive comments from other patrons or staff members who objected to the perceived inconvenience caused by the presence of a wheelchair.

As a companion, What Would You Do?

As an observer, What Would You Do?

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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

When Is The Right Time?

Friday, August 29th, 2014

John 7:8: “You go to the Feast. I [Jesus] am not yet going up to this Feast, because for me the right time has not yet come.”

I don’t like to wait. Can you relate to that? When I set my heart on a goal, I want it to happen as soon as possible. What about you?

Recently I heard about a conference for speakers that had an early bird price of $197 with a 20% discount for members. The price would go up each month and would reach a total of $777 at the door. When I first heard about the conference, I wanted to register right away.

Every time I went to the website to register, I sensed God tell me to wait. Perhaps the right time had not yet come. I waited and waited. The last day of the $197 price came. Again I went to the website to register. Again I sensed God was telling me to wait.

Later that day, I received an email from a friend. She told me about an opportunity that was made for me. I sensed God’s peace and approval. God showed me why he wanted me to wait for the right time. His plan was better.

Do you have your heart set on something you want? Do you sense God telling you to wait?

Dear God, you know my goals and dreams. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to wait for the right time?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
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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

Are You Nurtured by the Victory Parade?

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

“In Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way to salvation–an aroma redolent with life.” 2 Cor. 2:14-15a, The Message.

There is a method to this seeming madness. Everything we have gone through and will go through today, whet the spiritual whistle of all around us. Our day to day life produces a testimony of perpetual victory. Yes, I know it is a process-but; ultimately, in Christ it will be tomorrow’s testimony of the grace, love and mercy of God!

The key — the beginning words in this passage…’In Christ, God leads us…’ He really is in charge. Things have not run amuck. All is not for naught. There really is a purpose for everything. I question this as much as the next person. But; I always end up going full circle; praising God for the new, fresh and powerful testimony that today’s tests produce tomorrow.

The kicker — you have to continually rest in His leading. I’m sure none of you have ever argued with Papa about what He has allowed in your life. As Paul put it, ‘you never kick against the prick.’ The difference will be whether our lives emanate with the fragrance and visible evidence of the Gospel of Grace or not.

The most powerful, tangible, and authentic evidence of the Gospel is our testimony! Will you co-operate with His lead today? If so, He will take you from place to place as a perpetual victory parade? Victory parades are a lot more fun than continual defeats. This is the essence of revival and revolution! Go start a Gospel revolution today with your fragrant testimony.

In the grip of Papa’s victorious grace, Ron Ross

Copyright by Ron Ross.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Rev. Ron Ross is a pastor, author, teacher, and counselor.
As founder of NET Casting Ministries, he equips the church
around the world to care for the wounded and addicted.
Ron is a cofounder of the NET Training Institute.

Do We Make Obedience Something Jesus Doesn’t Intend?

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

A group of skeptical faces inspired today’s word-of-the-week…

PRINCIPLES

“Jesus doesn’t care about rules.”

I could see the skepticism…another anything-goes liberal. When you’re speaking to a group, a controversial statement is a good way to galvanize attention, but you’d better be prepared to follow up with revolution prevention material.

What do you think? Does Jesus care about rules?

Rules are part of a game. They’re man-made, they’re arbitrary, they’re situational, and they change.

None of those describes anything about Jesus. He talked about simple, timeless principles and condemned the “religious experts” whose sole concern was obedience to man-made rules.

Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them. (Luke 11:46)

The problem, of course, is that we all create rules in circumstances that matter a lot to us. We usually do this with the best intentions, but a rule, once created, often becomes more important than individuals. Entire layers develop devoted strictly to enforce the rules, often simply because they’re the rules.

This week I suggest that we consider Jesus’ way… principles rather than rules.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Could it be that we make obedience something He doesn’t intend?

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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 Toy with Sin?

Monday, August 25th, 2014

“If we play around the viper’s hole–it no wonder that we are bitten!”

An old proverb advises us not to play with sharp-edged tools, lest we cut our fingers.

It is a sin to trifle with sin! If we must play, we had better find harmless toys! That evil which caused Christ a bloody death, is no fit theme for any man’s sport.

Playing with wickedness is a hazardous game! Sooner or later, we will pluck the lion of sin by the beard, and we shall be torn in pieces!

This is true of indulgence in strong drink: “Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake, and poisons like a viper!”

This is equally true of all other forms of evil, especially of the lusts of the flesh. Lewd words, soon lead to foul deeds. Yet such is the folly of men, that they run dreadful risks in sheer wantonness, as though vipers and cobras were fine playmates, and devils were merry-makers!

“Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Do not let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin.” Psalm 19:13

Charles Spurgeon, “Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden” 1883

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Does God Want Us To Compete?

Saturday, August 23rd, 2014

Do you think God wants us to compete with other religions?

I’ve read some stuff recently lamenting Christianity’s waning influence. One article claimed we’re “losing the battle” with Middle Eastern religions, atheism, and humanism (the god of “me”). The author suggested that those who believe in the God of Abraham need new strategies to compete with those other gods.

For me, this discussion raises one of my favorite questions:

Do you really believe what you believe?

Do you believe God can’t compete unless we devise better strategies and tactics?

Do you believe God can lose? Seriously?

When I listen to Jesus, I hear the quiet confidence of one who knows. He knows the truth, He knows the proper path, He knows what works and what doesn’t. He knows, because He designed the whole thing.

It’s the uncertain, insecure person who pounds on the table and demands lockstep agreement. Those who aren’t quite sure attack anyone who disagrees.

When you know—and know you know—there’s no need to shout.

Jesus didn’t panic when people disagreed or when things got crazy. He didn’t deviate from the path.

Jesus didn’t appeal to governments or political action to advance His agenda. He didn’t assert His rights as a citizen to protect himself or His followers. He didn’t advocate any form of violence, and He certainly didn’t hate those who decided not to follow. He didn’t argue, frighten, intimidate, or coerce people into believing.

He didn’t convince people to follow Him through superior logic or clear theology. Crowds gathered around Jesus because they wanted to know Him, not His ideas.

I want to follow His example. I want to share Jesus and His message of love with the quiet, confident assurance of one who knows the truth and doesn’t need agreement or affirmation from others.

I can’t recall any incident in which Jesus “competed” in any manner. He wasn’t seeking to win a victory that was already assured.

He knew.

We ought to know as well.

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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

Walking Through The Valley of the Shadow of Death

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Moses took the rod of God in his hand (Exodus 4:20, NKJV).
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me (Psalm 23:4, NKJV).

I recently had the opportunity to “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” with a neighbor named Dave. Dave had never professed a belief in Christ or even acknowledged God at all, except to use His name as a curse word. Apart from that, he was a nice man and an enjoyable neighbor, as well as a law-abiding citizen. When he became extremely ill and the doctor said he would not be leaving the hospital alive, some of his family members who knew I was a licensed minister contacted me and asked me to come and see him.

My husband and I went immediately, and it was obvious the moment we saw him that he was in his last hours of life. Hooked up to tubes and needles and machines, he seemed to be in a coma, though the doctor said he was nearly certain Dave could hear us. I began to talk with him about the only thing that really matters in life, and that’s a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

His eyes fluttered open, and he gave me a brief smile of recognition. I could tell from his eyes that he was listening. We had a short but meaningful conversation about his need to receive Jesus as his Savior, then we prayed together. I saw a peace wash over Dave’s face as his body relaxed. When I asked him if he understood what had happened and knew Jesus stood ready to walk him through the valley of the shadow of death, he nodded and whispered, “Yes.” A few hours later, he completed his journey through that valley and into the Father’s arms.

Some of his family members and friends came up to me afterward and said things like, “I know Dave is at peace now” or “I believe Dave is in heaven now.” Their reason for believing this? All declared the same thing: “Dave was a good man.”

Sad. Yet how many believe that same lie, that any of us could possibly make it to heaven based on our own “goodness”? Jesus was quite clear when He said, “No one is good but One, that is, God (Matthew 19:17).

Moses came to understand this crucial truth. A former shepherd who was used to carrying his own rod and staff as he protected the sheep in his care, Moses dared not go into Pharoah’s presence depending on his feeble human strength. Instead he “took the rod of God in his hand” (Exodus 4:20) before beginning the process of leading the people of Israel out of slavery.

King David knew this truth as well. Also a former shepherd, the Psalmist declared, “Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” He knew, particularly as he so often faced the threat of death from those who hated and persecuted him, that only God’s road and staff could lead him safely home.

Dave is safely home now, not because he trusted in his own rod or staff of frail human goodness, but rather because he finally put his trust in the perfect goodness of God’s rod and staff. At that point he received comfort and assurance that he no longer needed to fear walking through the valley of the shadow of death, for his newfound Savior would carry him.

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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

Looking for Opportunities to Reflect the Light

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

My eyes opened this morning at that magical pre-dawn instant when light begins to banish darkness. It seemed dark, then a moment later no darkness remained.

Last week I was socially captive for a short time and endured a political rant concerning the pervasive death and darkness in our world. Before I could excuse myself the speaker listed Middle Eastern terrorists, Ukrainian militants, and invading illegal immigrant children as proof of the darkness overtaking us.

The thing about darkness is—it’s not a thing, it’s the absence of a thing. Once you introduce even a small bit of light, it’s no longer dark.

I don’t claim to know the political solutions to these and other difficult circumstances, but I do know they’re not caused by too much darkness, because darkness isn’t a thing. Dark is only the absence of light, and none of these problems will be solved by cursing the darkness.

Every long-term solution involves adding more light.

You and I know the source of the light. We’re called to be a prism, to reflect Jesus’ light into a world that desperately needs to see it.

Once there was an empty tomb, containing only a lifeless body. The tomb was apparently filled completely with death and darkness.

And then…a single heartbeat. A spark of light.

With that heart beat, every ounce of death left that place, because death is only the absence of life.

With that spark, every ounce of darkness left that place, because darkness is only the absence of light.

How about if you and I act like the dawn and look for opportunities to reflect the light and life of Jesus to those we encounter?

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
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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

 

Do You Speak Kind Words?

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Proverbs 12:25: “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.”

I don’t like to take medicine. If a natural remedy is available, I prefer to take it. How about you?

With allergies to several medicines and experience with side effects to many of them, I don’t want to have surgery unless it is absolutely necessary. Can you relate to that?

Before my eye surgery two years ago, I struggled with an anxious heart that weighed me down. My only child had passed away after eye surgery, and I didn’t want to be the next one to die.

My friends promised to pray for me. Their phone calls and prayers cheered me up. My Sunday school teacher took me to the medical center and prayed for me during surgery.

After a successful surgery, I felt relieved. Friends sent cards or called me. Others brought me meals or a healthy protein drink. I appreciated their kind words and deeds, and they cheered me up.

This morning a friend from my Sunday school class had knee surgery. The members of the class signed a card for her yesterday, and we will take her dinner on Friday.

Do you know someone who could benefit from your kind words?

Dear God, help me be sensitive to a friend with an anxious heart. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to cheer up that person with an anxious heart?

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

The Brambles in Our Lives that Need Pruning

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

“Every branch that does bear fruit, He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful!” John 15:21

“There is more hewing, and hacking, and squaring used on a stone which is to be set in the wall of a stately palace–than that which is placed in a rock wall. Just so, the vine is carefully pruned–when the bramble is untouched.”

This should reconcile believers to their chastisements. It is a well-worn figure; but it is well put.

Brambles certainly have a fine time of it, and grow after their own pleasure. We have seen their long shoots reaching far and wide, and no knife has threatened them as they luxuriated upon the wastelands.

The poor vine is cut down so closely, that little remains of it but bare stems. Yet, when clearing-time comes, and the brambles are heaped together for burning–who would not rather be the vine?

Ah, Lord! Let me never sigh for ease, but always seek for usefulness.
Square me
until I am fit for a place in Your temple!
Prune me
until I yield my utmost fruit!

~Charles Spurgeon, “Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden” 1883