Archive for May, 2015

“Rights” vs. “Right”

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

megaphone 2Pope Francis recently encouraged us to exercise our fundamental human right to free speech in ways that don’t intentionally offend other faiths.

For Americans, this suggestion challenges our closely-held belief that personal rights, enumerated in the Constitution (not the Bible), trump everything. People fought and died to defend those rights, and we’ll not surrender them to anyone under any circumstances.

Certainly we have the right to make even offensive statements, and I’d never want government to restrict those rights.

Francis, however, appeals to a higher authority.

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. (1 Corinthians 10:23-24)

Simply possessing the right to do something doesn’t make it the right thing to do.
Jesus had every right to walk away from the cross and leave me to face the consequences of my sin. I’m grateful for His choice to forgo His rights in favor of love, sacrifice, and grace.

Perhaps He meant for us to follow His model.

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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

God’s Finishing School

Monday, May 25th, 2015

Holy scrutiny is both, unavoidable and awesome. The closer we get to the piercing light of His love, the more exposed we feel. An instant after exposure comes the covering of Grace and the sublime sense and knowing of acceptance via unconditional love! Holy Scrutiny is what I call “finishing school.” And Love is the under-girding lesson of all the courses of life in Jesus

For years I had the mistaken notion that I was finished with school… not by a long shot. Not finished. Nope; still in finishing school instead! My experience with God is that He, Holy Spirit, is a teacher, “par excellant” and will not be dissuaded by any of my growth issues.

Let’ see how Scripture ways in on this?

And I am sure that God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until his task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns.Philippians 1:6

He doesn’t stop pursuing us. I thought only young women and aspiring debutantes went to finishing school. You know, where you are trained in cultural-social graces and activities. Granted, my cultural and social graces are somewhat limited-well, okay, very limited. But, come on Papa-“finishing school?” Yes Son, finishing school.

So, I asked the obvious question… What exactly do you mean by “finishing school?” Of course, true to form… I got much more of an answer than I bargained for. I can imagine that your experience with Papa is just as surprising-no, serendipitous as mine. Don’t ever ask God a question that you aren’t ready for a big answer for. Son, I desire for you to finish the race complete, whole, and strong-with a unified heart. I had no idea how fractured my heart was. David asked for the same thing in his prayer recorded in Psalm 86:11.

Teach me your way, O Lord;
and I will walk in your truth;
Unite my heart to fear your name.

There are four distinct problems with that prayer. Learning His ways, walking in His truth, having your heart united and fearing His name are all challenging to our comfort zone-to say the least. Most of us have the mistaken notion that we know His ways. Nothing could be further from reality. I have walked with Jesus for forty+ years and am just now beginning to have understanding about His ways. I am learning that His way involves shaking and baking. Everything that can be shaken will be shaken and what remains will be purified in the furnace of His loving correction. I must add that His ways are best and bring Him the most Glory.

This “finishing school” process also includes getting acquainted with “truth and wisdom in the inner parts” The “inner parts” are often clouded with unresolved and unhealed issues. The longer we walk with Him the more light is shed on our inner parts. Holy scrutiny is both, unavoidable and awesome. The closer we get to the piercing light of His love, the more exposed we feel. An instant after exposure comes the covering of Grace.

Learning the truth about our self is always balanced by what my friend Alan Smith calls… LOVE, the truth that trumps all other truth. Eugene Peterson puts it this way in The Message.

We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know that troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert to whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary-we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! (Romans 5:3-5).

Got It? We will!

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.

Whom Shall We Trust?

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

whom shall we trust,
who holds the times,
whom shall we fear,
whom shall we follow,
who, on the morrow,
will still hold us dear?

who deigns to dine
with paupers, with pests,
bequeathing all guests
with living refreshed?

who listens, bends,
aching to cleanse,
even to bleed,
who plants the seed
salvation attends?

in silence, in grief,
what glorious thief
accesses our souls,
in darkness remolds
for mourning release?

~ * ~
Copyright by Roadrunner.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.
See more works at Roadrunner’s web site
Furtherreaches.com

Putting too much emphasis on getting it right?

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

“Mistakes are a great opportunity to ask for help.”

An athlete said a coach once told him to stop regretting his mistakes. Instead, the coach advised him to find someone who could help him learn from every mistake.

We’ve all heard about learning from our failures, but this takes it a step farther.

First, it transforms darkness into light. We don’t fear the darkness of errors because we welcome the light and freedom of opportunity.

Second, we expand our circle as we seek those who know more. Each time we fail we ask, “Who knows about this?”

What’s really interesting is that the only true failure is not-asking, because then a small-stakes error gets repeated and multiplied until it happens in a high-stakes context.

Seems like this is a pretty good model for helping someone start following Jesus. Maybe we put too much emphasis on getting it right.

Maybe a better model would be to help people like me figure out what to do when we get it wrong.

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

Can’t Get a Grip?

Saturday, May 9th, 2015

Sometimes my life feels like I’m constantly trying to gain traction-on ice. The harder “you” try the more you are spinning your wheels and getting off course. Traction enables you to get a grip, establish a toehold, and set your footing.

Maybe Joseph can shed some light for us? “Deeply moved on seeing his brother and about to burst into tears, Joseph hurried out into another room and had a good cry. Then he washed his face, got a grip on himself, and said, “Let’s eat.” (Genesis 43: 30-31, Msg) Joseph didn’t cave to what had to be very strong emotions. He obviously had let go of the past. Got it? Let go of the past-plain and simple! “Let’s eat.” Sounds like one who has traction in the moment and able to move on to what’s next in Jesus!

Hezekiah put his whole trust in the God of Israel. There was no king quite like him, either before or after. He held fast to God — never loosened his grip — and obeyed to the letter everything God had commanded Moses. And God, for his part, held fast to him through all his adventures. (2 Kings 18:5-6, Msg)

King Hezekiah was probably one of the most unsung heroes of the Old Testament. He also got it. Hold fast to God and you find out God’s been holding fast to you, even when you thought your life was; well-spinning out of control.

One day when the angels came to report to God, Satan also showed up. God singled out Satan, saying, “And what have you been up to?” Satan answered God, “Oh, going here and there, checking things out.” Then God said to Satan, “Have you noticed my friend Job? There’s no one quite like him, is there — honest and true to his word, totally devoted to God and hating evil? He still has a firm grip on his integrity! You tried to trick me into destroying him, but it didn’t work.” (Job 2:1-3, Msg)

He still has a firm grip on his integrity! Do you and I? Veracity, honor, honesty: would others use these words to describe your impression upon them? They will when we have a firm grip, kind of a ‘toehold’ on our integrity.

Dear friend, take my advice; it will add years to your life. I’m writing out clear directions to Wisdom Way, I’m drawing a map to Righteous Road. I don’t want you ending up in blind alleys, or wasting time making wrong turns. Hold tight to good advice; don’t relax your grip. Guard it well — your life is at stake! Don’t take Wicked Bypass; don’t so much as set foot on that road. Stay clear of it; give it a wide berth. Make a detour and be on your way. (Proverbs 4: 10-15, Msg)

When you go out looking for your old adversaries you won’t find them —  Not a trace of your old enemies, not even a memory. That’s right. Because I, your God, have a firm grip on you and I’m not letting go. I’m telling you, ‘Don’t panic. I’m right here to help you.’ (Isaiah 41:12-13, Msg)

And here’s the footing and toehold of traction. [It’s a Good Thing to Hope for Help from God ] I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed. I remember it all — oh, how well I remember —  the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope. (Lamentations 3:19-21, (Msg)

[He Gets the Last Word] Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ — eternal and glorious plans they are! — will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does. (1 Peter  5:8-11, Msg)

Getting’ a grip while being gripped!

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.

When Mother’s Day Isn’t a Happy One

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

Do you cringe when you see TV commercials that remind the viewers to buy their mother flowers, chocolates, or jewelry for Mother’s Day?

Do you avoid a church service on Mother’s Day because you don’t want to hear people say, “Happy Mother’s Day” to dozens of women or watch as the pastor asks the mothers to stand?

I understand. Six years ago, I lost my mother before Mother’s Day. Like you, I won’t be able to contact her.

The same year I lost my mother, my only child passed away three days after Mother’s Day. Like many of you, I won’t receive a Mother’s Day gift, a phone call, or a visit from my child.

Perhaps you have a mother addicted to alcohol or other drugs. Because of her substance use, she has failed to be the mother you needed. You may not know where she is.

Perhaps you never had a child.

Three years ago on Mother’s Day, I went outside to enjoy the sunshine. A woman rushed out of the neighbor’s home, got into her car and drove away.

The adult daughter later told me they had an argument and her mother left before they sat for dinner. The daughter had cleaned house and prepared a gourmet meal for her mother to no avail.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 and 4: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”

Dear God, please help me get through Mother’s Day. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to weep and mourn your losses?

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Don’t miss CIR’s Daily Article !
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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

Won’t You Listen?

Friday, May 1st, 2015

Won’t you listen my friend to the words that we share.
Won’t you open your heart to a power that cares.

For within each of our souls is the spirit of living,
Within each of our hearts is a gift of giving.

Won’t you be free my friend to open your mind,
to know God is with us One day at a time.

Copyright 1997, by Neil Wright San Francisco, CA.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.