Archive for April, 2015

Do You Feel Lost in the Fog?

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

A personal dilemma has me thinking about today’s word-of-the-week…

FOG

fogLots of ways to get lost in the fog.

Loneliness. Addiction. Depression. Grief. Fear. Pain.

Fog descends, clarity dissipates, confusion reigns. In the darkness of the fog, once-obvious choices become impossibly obscured. Decisions that ought to be simple become impossibly complex.

In the fog, our innate sense of direction disappears. We flail about for something solid to grab, and too often in our flailing we hit those closest to us. The hitting’s not intentional, but that doesn’t reduce the harm it causes. At some point “being lost in the fog” stops being an excuse, even if there’s nothing you can do about it.

The answer’s simple. When you’re lost, you need to know true north. And true north is Jesus.

But I’ve been in the fog enough to know the difference between simple and easy. I’m grateful for Jesus’ light in the darkness; I’m too frequently unable to overcome whatever it is that keeps me from following it.

If you’re lost in the fog today, know you’re not alone. I’m in here, too. So are a lot of other folks who may be afraid to admit it.

Jesus is here as well, and here’s the part that gives us hope.

He knows the way out.

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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

Learning to be Quieted in His Love

Monday, April 20th, 2015

There is nothing in our journey quite like being quieted in His love. Have you been? Is this a normal part of your walk with Jesus? All of hell is against this! Fear assaults us daily while stress, anxiety, nervous tension, constant worry and trauma work there insidious plan in our lives. We cannot quiet in His love if focused on these demons. But we must. It is a non-negotiable daily part of our joy in Him. These demons will flee as we quiet in His love!

There’s nothing to fear from evil ever again! God Is Present among You 16 Jerusalem will be told: Don’t be afraid. Dear Zion, don’t despair. 17 Your God is present among you, a strong Warrior there to save you. Happy to have you back, he’ll calm you with his love and delight you with his songs. 18 The accumulated sorrows of your exile will dissipate. I, your God, will get rid of them for you. You’ve carried those burdens long enough. 19 At the same time, I’ll get rid of all those who’ve made your life miserable. I’ll heal the maimed; I’ll bring home the homeless. In the very countries where they were hated they will be venerated. (Zephaniah 3:15b-19, Msg)

Truly, what marvelous news this is!

The Lord your God is in the midst of you, a Mighty One, a Savior {who saves}! He will rejoice over you with joy; he will rest {in silent satisfaction} and in His love he will be silent and make no mention {of past sins, or even recall them}; he will (instead) exult over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17, Amp)

If you so much as bring up your failures and sins, He will look at you with a question mark. In the silence of His love he makes no mention of them. What more could he do for us to show his unconditional love. Truly He daily quiets us with His love.

He also daily heals the infirmities in our souls; those wounded places that render us weakened and hopeless. His love shores up those parts of our lives were we have languished in silence.

14 We have a great high priest. He has gone up into the heavens. He is Jesus the Son of God. So let us hold firmly to what we say we believe. 15 We have a high priest who can feel it when we are weak and hurting. We have a high priest who has been tempted in every way, just as we are. But he did not sin. 16 So let us boldly approach the throne of grace. Then we will receive mercy. We will find grace to help us when we need it. (Hebrews 4:14-16, NIRV)

The words to this great hymn shed more light as to what He has already done and will always do for you and me!

Could we with ink the ocean fill?
And were the skies of parchment made?
Was every stalk on earth a quill?
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry?
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Tho stretched from sky to sky.

Your fellowship with God enables you to gain a victory over the Evil One.

15 Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. 16 Practically everything that goes on in the world – wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important – has nothing to do with the Father. It (focus on the world system) just isolates you from him. (1 John 2:15-17 MSG)

Truly He daily quiets us with His love. Dive heart first this day into His quieting love!

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.
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Are You Afflicted? Grieved?

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

“I am the man who has seen affliction!” Lamentations 3:1


Like the rest of Adam’s discontented family, I am often . . .
grumbling at my griefs,
complaining of my afflictions, and
on the brink of quarreling at the conduct of Providence itself!

To be without afflictions is impossible here below, where man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward. Not to feel when afflicted, is a stoical, impious stupidity. But to sink under troubles of any kind, is beneath the character of the Christian. Yet, when I reflect on that eternity of bliss which is before me, on that world of glory of which I am an heir–I wonder that my afflictions are not more.

Is it too much for me to stumble among the ‘rough stones of adversity’–to have my flesh pricked with the ‘thorns of trouble’–who shall so soon walk the golden streets of Heaven, and wear a crown of immortal glory?

Though the whole earth should rise up against me–if Heaven, and the God of Heaven are for me–I am in perfect safety in the midst of all the storms and tempests, whirlwinds and hurricanes which can blow!

“Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that . . .
neither death nor life,
nor angels nor rulers,
nor things present,
nor things to come,
nor powers,
nor height,
nor depth,
nor any other created thing,
can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!” Romans 8:35-39

~ James Meikle, “Converse with the Unseen World”

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What does “Blessed” Really Mean?

Monday, April 13th, 2015

The word “blessed” in the Bible is a translation of a Greek word meaning “very happy.” Our Lord, in the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-12), tells us what true and great happiness means.

Although He spells it out plainly, people still have problems and will then insist that they are not blessed if they mourn, are persecuted, if they hunger and thirst after righteousness, or have like trials.

Our problem is simply this: we believe that we are blessed or very happy only if we get what we want, and what we want is to be indulged, to have things made easier for us. This, obviously, is not our Lord’s view of blessedness. In fact, what we call happiness can be a curse at times. Thus, the Psalmist in Psalm 106:15, in describing the condemnation of the older generation in the wilderness journey, declares of God, “And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.”

We need to assess our idea of happiness. Is it humanistic? Does it simply involve getting what we want, with little or no thought of God? But we are God’s property, and we cannot live as though His total claim upon us were nonexistent. Our God is Lord, the absolute owner of all things, and all things must serve and obey Him. For us to seek happiness, or blessedness, apart from the Lord and His purposes is to deny Him and to claim a nonexistent independence from God. To deny God is finally to deny life and happiness and to choose death (Prov. 8:36).

Moreover, happiness on our Lord’s terms is more than simply problems and battles; it is also victories, as the Beatitudes make clear: theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven; the meek shall inherit the earth; they shall be filled and comforted, and so on.

Are you seeking happiness on your terms, or the Lord’s?

Taken from Volume 6 of the series

A Word in Season: Daily Messages on the Faith for All of Life.

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

Freedom From vs. Freedom To

Friday, April 10th, 2015

chainIt is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)

There are two kinds of freedom.

Freedom from allows life without oppression, injustice, tyranny, abuse, or violence. Freedom from insures my right to live my life as I wish as long as it doesn’t interfere with the rights of others.

Freedom to is about opportunity to serve, to use my gifts, to make a difference in the world.

I think Galatians 5:1 refers to freedom to.

Freedom from, it seems, places the focus on me and my rights. Freedom from is worldly freedom.

Freedom to is about what’s right. It’s about sacrifice and service.

Interesting to note that Jesus willingly sacrificed freedom from. He invites us to join Him on the journey of freedom to for which He died.

But let’s never forget that God values worldly justice for the oppressed, the poor, and the marginalized.

Learn to do right; seek justice.    
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow. (Isaiah 1:17)

Seems to me that justice happens when those who understand freedom to deploy it, regardless of consequences, to ensure everyone’s access to freedom from.

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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 Importance of Affirming One Another

Monday, April 6th, 2015

A visit to a wonderful community brings today’s word-of-the-week…

AFFIRMATION

In September we were honored to speak to a group of folks at a homeless shelter in downtown Madison, Wisconsin. We gathered in a circle before the meeting began and read the following affirmation in unison.

We gather as family and as friends.

We make this space safe, caring, and welcoming.

We listen to each other with unconditional acceptance.

We lift each other up; we do not hold each other down.

Life is a struggle, and we are here to help each other through it.

We cannot control others but we can control ourselves.

We are not homeless, for there is a place in this world for us.

We will get where we are going, even if we do not yet know where that is.

Each moment is another chance, and we can always begin again.

We will fail and make mistakes, but that is how we grow and understand.

We are here, and we are worthy of love and belonging.

So let us own our own stories.

And in owning our stories, let us find the courage to share our stories.

And in sharing our stories realize we are never alone.

This was a circle of people with lots of reasons to complain and mistrust society. Yet they sat in a circle and affirmed each other. In a community with very little, they had a lot. They were being Jesus for each other.

I can’t help believing that some other communities would benefit from taking this kind of affirmation seriously.

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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

Finding Common Ground

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

A comment from my wise wife brings today’s word-of-the-week…

COMMON


“The way you share your story creates common ground.”

Becky consistently guides me back to the central importance of relationships. She says my story removes barriers because it includes elements with which everyone can identify.

Someone asked me recently how I can work with the men at Harvest Farm when I don’t have any experience with addiction, homelessness, violence, or jail. My answer is Becky’s wisdom: I take time to form relationships.I go to their place and spend time with them and get to know them. I focus on what unites us instead of what makes us different. I don’t offer easy answers to hard questions.

It’s not magic. Like Becky said, it’s all about finding common ground.

We shy away from speaking up for communities of which we’re not members. We wonder if our sincerity will be questioned, if we’ll use the wrong words, if we’ll offend someone, if perhaps things would be better if we remained silent.

The truth is, your sincerity WILL be questioned, you WILL make mistakes, and if you’re committed those aren’t reasons to stay on the sidelines. But to increase your effectiveness, you need to engage.

Form relationships. Step beyond your own familiar comfort zone. Go to their place. Get to know them. Learn their stories. Know in advance it’ll be scary and rewarding.

Show that you’re willing to risk of taking the time and doing the hard work to find common ground.

Kind of like Jesus did.